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Archived Articles By
Matt Jordan


The Founding Fathers on the Divine Creator

Throughout their writings, our Founding Fathers affirmed their belief that the existence of a Divine Creator was the foundation of all reality. Their conviction was that this Divine Creator was the designer of all things in nature and that He had established all the laws that govern nature. In his first inaugural address, George Washington humbly proclaimed that the people of the United States were bound to acknowledge the invisible and providential hand of God in every step that led to the independence of the colonies. Just as there are laws that govern nature, so there are laws that govern human nature. The Founders believed these laws had been revealed by God and formed the basis for all other laws determining right and wrong. The people believed and acknowledged this as well. This was the reason they had the highest respect for the laws of the newly formed government. Is it any wonder that as men remove themselves further and further from God, society becomes more rebellious, immoral and criminal activity increases?


Revival in the Home

Matt Jordan, pastor
Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church

“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127:1) Our homes need rebuilding. The family is in danger. Whether it is new construction, or reconstruction, there must be a plan, a blueprint. God has given us the exact blueprint to follow – His Holy Scriptures. The Bible gives us the information we need to form and build relationships within the family. Who better to instruct us than the One who created us? Christ-centered families are those that follow God’s wise plan. The philosophy of the world, which is in direct opposition, tells us to lay up treasures upon the earth, to seek after notoriety, and to gain prominence in every worldly activity possible. Worldly-minded families become disconnected and dysfunctional. The dinner table turns into a fast-food buffet. Communication takes place over the phone or through instant messaging. Instructions are left on the refrigerator or given by email. And we wonder why our children become swallowed up. The family is becoming an endangered species!
Every building must have a foundation. Without it, the house will fall. That foundation is Christ. The relationship between a husband and his wife is compared to the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. Each has a particular role to fill. The life of a husband is marked by love and sacrifice; respect and submission characterize the wife. The purpose in each role is to magnify Christ the foundation, not self-satisfaction or self-gratification. If the foundation is missing, we can only expect instability; a house tossed to and fro, swaying out of control with the philosophies of the world. With Christ as the center, husbands can find the confidence to lead, the strength to protect, and the wisdom to provide; wives will find a reason to respect, a willingness to submit, and a desire to follow. If Christ is at the center, God will be the architect of our family and our labor will not be in vain.
The foundation of the family is being replaced with worldly philosophies. The pursuit of material wealth has driven us away from God’s blueprint for the family. The quest for financial success is turning the home into simply a boarding house. Very little time is spent together in the den or around the dining room table. Family entertainment barely exists in the world, but it is on the decline now even in our homes. The self-gratification system of the world is tearing our families apart. Then, when trouble comes, we look to that same worldly philosophy for help, but find none. In the days of Joseph when Pharaoh had some perplexing dreams, the magicians of Egypt were consulted but none could help. Finally, someone remembered Joseph, a man of God with a gift and a message from God. Pharaoh heeded the message, placed Joseph in a position of authority and the nation was spared. Let us not go down to Egypt for help. God’s word alone contains the blueprint for our families.


Who is Teaching Your Children?

Matt Jordan, pastor
Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church

“Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…” Since the beginning of time, God has instructed parents to teach their children in all things, but especially concerning God and His word. We see in both Testaments this responsibility emphasized repeatedly. There are two primary methods by which we learn: by word, or instruction, and by deed, or example. But there are a countless number of sources from which we learn outside the parental and family realm. We, as parents, must filter these sources to the best of our ability so that our children are grounded in truth and morality according to God’s word. In today’s pop culture, ungodliness pervades many of the sources influencing our children: in the media, in the world of entertainment, in the sports world, and to some degree even in our schools and churches. Parents use these sources but we do so often without caution; sometimes because we ourselves are too busy. Even so, we must still be the filter! Parents – is someone teaching and influencing your children more than you are? Since the beginning of time, God has instructed parents to teach their children in all things, but especially concerning God and His word. We see in both the Old and New Testaments this responsibility emphasized repeatedly. God designed the Church in such a way that both the lambs and the sheep are to be fed; young and old alike. While our age is a factor when it comes to our level of understanding, human reasoning in this area should not trump God’s design. There are two primary sources from which children should be taught God’s word – the ministry and parents. One is found in the Church – the pastor/teacher and other ministers; the other is in the home. God has not delegated that responsibility to others and neither should parents. God’s design is always best and it always works when followed. Human logic leads to confusion and error. The most important thing we can teach our children is God’s word. Are you going to give that job over to someone else?

“Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Loving our children requires that we uphold certain standards and set certain limits. All too often, we as parents fail to take enough time to be the filter between our children and the many influences around them. Children are sponges! What they hear, they repeat. What they see, they imitate. Everything they come in contact with leaves an impression on them. Do you really know what your children are seeing on TV and on the internet? Do you pay attention to the lyrics of the music they listen to? Are you involved enough to know what they are being taught at school? Parents have been given the right and the responsibility to decide what their children are taught and by whom. When the standards around us do not meet our own, or when those outside influences cross the limits, our love should motivate us to be the filter. Parents, you can’t be with your children every waking moment, but you should be the most influential source in every area of your child’s life. We parents pass along a world of knowledge to our children. But most of this knowledge is of a worldly nature, right? We teach them the basics before they enter school. We help them learn to build on the fundamentals in school. We teach them how to play our favorite sport or instrument and the things we always wanted to be good at. We teach them hygiene and help them learn fashion. We try to teach manners, right from wrong, and how to make friends. Evidently, we teach them how to manipulate people. We even teach them our own brand of politics and economics. But who is imparting to our children the most important knowledge they could ever gain in life? Who is teaching your children God’s word?


Moral Principles – Can They Change?
(Part 2)

Seventh in a series...

Without a solid, stable foundation of moral principles, neither our lives, nor our families, nor our churches, nor our society can withstand the destructive forces of sin. The only stable foundation of morality is Holy Scripture, God's word, the Bible. It is the divinely inspired word of our Creator. It is based upon His perfect righteousness. He knows the human heart. He knows better than any one of His creatures the path in which we should walk. He created us and He established right and wrong. He has never changed, the human heart has not changed, and the unchangeable moral principles He established should still govern our lives in this modern world. What He declared to be sin is still sin today, lies, murder, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, cheating, covetousness, just to name a few, and these will always be sin. We should hate sin, ask forgiveness, love the sinner, strive to renew our own commitment, and influence others to return to the never-changing principles of godliness established in God's word.


 Moral Principles – Can They Change?
(Part 1)

Sixth in a series...

Is ‘right’ always ‘right’? Is relativity something we should consider when it comes to morality? With some people, a subtle bending of the rules seems justified at times – doesn’t hurt anyone and it helps achieve the desire goal. Others try to justify dishonorable business decisions by separating such affairs from any convictions they may have in their personal lives. Still others will outright deny the notion that there is a clearly drawn line between right and wrong regardless of the situation – with them, it always depends on the situation. The world loves any degree and every form of moral relativism and situational ethics. Sadly, more and more Christians are being influenced by this corrupt “value system”. The erosion of our moral standards is due in large part to the erosion of another standard – the divinely inspired, inerrant word of God. If the foundation is shaky, everything you build upon it will be unstable. If you are building your life upon the sand, you will never be able to withstand the onslaught of the enemy.


The Light of the World

Matt Jordan, pastor
Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church

Fifth of a series...

A source of light can often be attractive to the eyes. It may be pretty to look at, but light serves a purpose. It not only attracts our attention but light gives warmth. It illuminates, it refreshes, and it renews. God has made a tremendous difference in your life. Because you are different, you draw attention. Jesus says “ye are the light of the world” and, in effect, is saying to you, ‘BE the light of the world.’ Don’t be afraid or ashamed to be different, but not different just for the sake of standing out in a crowd. Oh, you will stand out and draw attention but direct that attention upward! Someone may ask you what (and it’s really WHO) has made you different from others, and you will have an open door to share your testimony. Your most powerful testimony is the way you talk, your attitude toward others, and the way you act. Everything about your testimony should point to Jesus Christ. You can influence others by your faith and experience. You can show others the love of Christ. As light, you can point them to their source of hope.


The Salt Of The Earth

Matt Jordan, Pastor
Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church

Fourth of a series..

The Salt of the Earth
God has made a tremendous difference in your life. You have good reason to influence those close to you – your family, friends. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have the responsibility to make a difference in your little world – in the workplace, at school, in the community. As a Church, we are expected to be an influence for good in the earth. No doubt, individually and collectively, we will either have an affect on the world around us or the world will have an affect on us. Sadly, we have allowed more and more of the world to invade our lives and our assemblies. As Christians, we are called on to separate ourselves from the world and its worldly-minded culture and institutions. The Church is supposed to be the pillar and ground of the truth, which means we are to uphold and defend the teachings and moral principles found in God’s word. But the Church is made up of individuals, and those moral principles must first be reflected in the lives of those individuals before the world will be affected. We must be the salt of the earth!


The Mind of the Christian –
a Servant

Matt Jordan, Pastor
Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church

Third of a series..

“Let this mind be in you…” (Philippians 2:5) Jesus came into the world as God manifest in the flesh, but he ‘emptied’ himself to become a servant. He became what he created but his Deity never diminished. He had to humble himself to serve his own creation; so it must be with us if we are to have the mind of Christ. Jesus came not to be ministered unto, but to minister to others. The world promotes a ‘me first’ attitude and tells us to reject the idea of submission and subjection. In his submission to the will of his Father, Jesus subjected himself to death on the cross. What humility! What commitment! What love! Can we think for a moment that God does not expect the same humble submission from us? If you are one of His, you have been bought with a price and you are not your own. We need to recognize that true peace and contentment comes not from serving ourselves, but from serving one another. To the world, life is about ‘me’ but for the Christian it is peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Ghost, and submission to God.


The Mind of the Christian –
     our Attitude
                            

Matt Jordan, Pastor
Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church

Second of a series..

Everyone has an attitude, but to “have an attitude” is a very unattractive characteristic. Our attitude is the result of the focus of our minds, or where our hearts are. Our attitude is seen in how we treat others and by our general outlook on life. For example, if we are focused on self, we will think much less of others than we do of ourselves; we will expect more from others without thinking of what we can give back; and every situation will be about “me” and how “I” can benefit. But another mark of this “self-centered” attitude is a pessimistic discontentment – nothing measures up to ‘my’ standard and nothing ever will. If you are a Christian with this kind of attitude, you are an immature Christian and you are bringing shame to your Lord. If your mind is centered on Christ, you will have a content and positive outlook, you will enjoy being a servant, and you will be blessed by thinking more highly of others than of yourself. This is the Christian attitude and it is pleasing to your Lord. Seek to have and maintain the mind of Christ.

The Mind of the Christian – the Battle

Matt Jordan, Pastor
Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church

First of a Series

Our minds are often a battleground between the inner man and the outer man. The one that controls the mind, or has the greatest influence over it, will have our talents and abilities at its disposal to fulfill its desires. Paul tells us to not yield the members of our body to unrighteousness and sin, but rather as instruments of righteousness unto God. After the new birth, a battle begins within, a battle between righteousness and sin, between right and wrong, between light and darkness, and one that will last all of our lifetime. Before the new birth, we were content in our sins; there was no battle. But now, we are never completely satisfied. We see our failures and we know we could and should do better. We are no longer content but we despise sin and we want to get far from it. But alas! Our sinful nature is still with us, and the warfare rages within. The control of our mind gives the victor control of our actions. Thank God He will preserve us for the world to come, but oh how we need His strength to overcome now.

The Sacred Harp

(fa-so-la or ‘shape-note’ singing)

By: Matt Jordan, Pastor
Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church

Some see it as a tradition; others consider it a form of folk art; others are curious about its unique sound. But for many across the South, the sound of “fa-so-la” singing provides a simple, yet spiritually moving experience of worship and praise unlike any music influenced by today’s modern culture. And now, in parts all across the country, the unique sound of Sacred Harp singing has captured the attention of many; folk art connoisseurs, professional musicians, music lovers of all kind, and even a few in Hollywood thanks to the recent movie “Cold Mountain”.

Sacred Harp is the strongest survivor of various forms of a cappella ‘shape-note’ singing and derives its name from the oblong songbook entitled “The Sacred Harp”, a collection of old hymns originally compiled by Benjamin Franklin White in 1844. The Sacred Harp has seen only four revisions since that time, the latest revision being made in 1991. The history of Sacred Harp can be traced through the colonies of New England and Appalachia. The unique harmony and style, as well as the message contained in the words, has its roots in England, Scotland, and Wales, where the congregational singing of the 16th and 17th centuries was once lively and full of spiritual emotion. By the late 1700’s, many churches in Colonial New England found in themselves a longing desire to rekindle such a spirit in their worship service. Musical and general illiteracy was a hindrance, so shaped notes were developed as a form of ‘sight-reading’ to aid the worshippers.

Jim Carnes, a noted singer and Sacred Harp historian, writes:

“The system that took hold assigned one of four shapes to each note of the familiar seven-tone scale. The right triangle was designated fa, the oval sol, the rectangle la, and the diamond mi. In the Sacred Harp, as in its precursors, the tonic or keynote of any major scale appears as a fa, with the scale ascending fa-sol-la-fa-sol-la-mi-fa. Correspondingly, all minor scales begin on la, proceeding la-mi-fa-sol-la-fa-sol-la. While the shape notes are positioned on the staff in the same manner as "roundheads," they aid sight-reading by providing an additional means of recognizing intervals between notes. The lively part-singing that the shape-note system supports is sometimes called dispersed harmony. In this style of composition…each vocal part--treble, alto, tenor, and bass--contributes a sort of tune, occupying its own separate staff, with the parts freely crossing one another and the tenor, or third line, carrying the chief melody. The special typesetting requirements of dispersed harmony give "fasola" hymnals their characteristic oblong shape. In as generous an accommodation to other traditions as one is likely to hear at a Sacred Harp gathering, a certain leader allows that he would gladly sing from "any book wider than it is tall."”

In a typical Sacred Harp singing, singers are arranged around a “hollow square”, where the leader stands facing the tenor section, the lead part. To the left of the leader sits the treble section, an interesting blend of male and female voices. The bass section is seated on the right side of the leader, and the alto sits opposite the tenor section. Without a doubt, the best ‘seat’ in the house is the ‘hollow square’, where the leader is surrounded with the blending of all four parts, an experience that no observer can truly appreciate. The singers appoint or elect a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and Arranging Committee at the beginning of the singing, whose duties are to call the class together, determine the times for recess and lunch, keep minutes of the singing, provide each singer the opportunity to lead, and to generally keep the singing moving smoothly. And no all-day singing would be complete without dinner-on-the-grounds! Sacred Harp singing carries us back to a time when spiritual concerns far outweighed the cares of the world and when even the social activities of life revolved around fellowship with the saints.

For more information on Sacred Harp and Shape-Note Singing, visit www.fasola.org or www.originalsacredharp.com where you can find more history, audio clips from various singings, and other links providing information on singing locations and dates.

 




 
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