“KEEP IT LOW TO THE GROUND, BOYS”
I recently read a most interesting book titled Every Highway Out of Nashville Volume 2 by Ruth White. Ruth is the widow of Howard O. White, Jr., (1926 – 2008) who was a sideman and sessions player for many of the great country music stars of the earlier days, as well as for the Grand Ole Opry. He played the steel guitar and worked for such notables as “Cowboy” Copas, Hank Snow, Tex Ritter, Roy Acuff, Hank Williams (for a short while), Audrey Williams (Hank’s widow), Ferlin Husky, Don Gibson, Minnie Pearl, and many others.
All of the stars and their sidemen knew each other, often performing on shows together all across the U. S., Canada, and overseas. For those of us who loved the old stars and their music, this book is a veritable treasure trove of the names, lives, music, escapades, laughter, and tears of a group the likes of whom we will never see again!
According to the “Author Acknowledgements,” Ruth White was a resident of Gallatin, Tennessee where I live, but I do not know if she is still living. Her first book was published in 1990, and this later edition was published in 2014. Ruth began Chapter 6 (p. 30) with the following:
“Howard White got to the Grand Ole Opry before all the founders passed on. The real flavor of the Opry was still there. On a still night, if you wander into the old Ryman Auditorium, and if you listen real good, the ghosts of the old voices can still be heard. Howard said: ‘I am glad that when I played the Opry, Judge Hay (George D. Hay, who gave the Opry its name, hf) was still there, telling us all, “Keep it low to the ground, boys.” What he meant was keep it simple, keep it real, hang on to the original.’ “
“Keep it low to the ground, boys.” Hmmm. Not bad advice for the country music industry (which, unfortunately, has come to ignore the old judge’s advice) and not bad advice for the church of our Lord, its preachers, elders, deacons, teachers, and every member.
The church is in desperate need of keeping the gospel simple (as it was delivered by Christ and the apostles), keeping it real (what it was for), and hanging on to the original (without the perversions and corruptions and apostasies that have occurred down through the ages). We must constantly keep going back to the New Testament itself and drinking afresh from its pure, clear fountain. In the words of the apostle Paul, we must “Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
The gospel of Christ and the church it produces are profound in their origin (the infinite mind of God) and in their purpose (the eternal salvation of the soul of man). At the same time, the gospel and the church are not complicated except as man has complicated them with his additions to, deletions from, and substitutions for what the Lord taught and authorized.
The gospel was (and is) to be preached to every creature in all nations (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19-20), implying that it is not so complicated but that even the most illiterate and unsophisticated can grasp it. Its facts, commands, promises, and warnings are understandable to all, as a reading of the Book of Acts in the New Testament abundantly shows. Through faith in Christ (John 8:24), repentance of sin (Acts 3:19), confession of faith in Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16) one obeys the gospel (Romans 6:16-18), is saved, and added to the church (Acts 2:47). If that person will remain faithful to the Lord, he will be saved eternally in heaven (Revelation 2:10).
The church of the New Testament was (and is) simple and uncomplicated in its organization, worship, and work. Autonomous congregations overseen by a plurality of elders (also known as bishops and pastors), served by deacons, and constituted of redeemed people who have become Christians only (Christians without denominational affiliation) is the New Testament plan for the organization of the church (Philippians 1:1).
Christians gathering on the first day of the week (the Lord’s Day) to observe the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7), to engage in prayer (I Timothy 2:1-4), to sing and make melody in their hearts (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), to be taught and encouraged by the preaching and teaching of the word of God (without the creed books, church manuals, and catechisms produced by men) (Acts 2:42), and to give monetarily to the work of the church (I Corinthians 16:1-2) constitute the divine acts of worship appointed for the church.
These matters are not hard to grasp and they are not beyond the reach of anyone anywhere who wishes to serve the Lord according to His word.
Indeed, let us “Keep it low to the ground, boys.”
September 1, 2015
September 13: La Guardo Church of Christ, Mt. Juliet, TN (p.m. only)