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The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Thomas and Tommy Carpenter
Thomas and Tommy Carpenter

"Victory In Jesus"

Message summary: A background story to "Victory In Jesus".

Listen to this message on your audio player.

“For this God is our God forever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14). "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

As we headed back home through Arkansas last Tuesday we had lunch at the Cracker Barrel in Little Rock with Tommy Carpenter along with his son, Thomas, whom he introduced to us. We met Tommy about 15 years ago in a "chance" meeting when I was in my chaplain supervisor's office in Springfield, MO. It would be hard not to become friends with Tommy!

He is a veteran minister of the Gospel and missionary (to Belize). We have been blessed to have him as a guest in our home and years ago he preached in the little country church where I served several years as an interim pastor. When we had lunch he refreshed us with his personal connection concerning an old hymn many of us enjoy singing that we’ll share in today’s message. He refers to this hymn background as "The rest of the story":

Back in the early 1900’s singing schools were fairly common in the U.S., having had their origin in American History as early as the 1700’s. New systems of music notation, including shape notes, were developed by singing school teachers as an aid in learning to sing by sight without musical instrumentation.

Tommy’s Uncle Carl was hosting Eugene M. Bartlett, a popular songwriter and leader of a singing school, in his home in rural Arkansas in 1939. One morning Bartlett showed Carl the music and lyrics for a brand new song he had just written.

It began, “I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory…” He then went on to share with his Uncle Carl the entire song that many of us know as “Victory In Jesus”. Of course the song has become one of the most beloved hymns of the church and is found in most hymnals regardless of denomination. I don't think we've ever been to any church that doesn't sing "Victory in Jesus"! The last time we sang it in the large church we now attend the people, young and old, sang out like old-time congregational singing.

Eugene Bartlett died in 1941, at just 55 years of age, only two years after he wrote his best-known song. But his wife, Joan Bartlett, lived many more years, in fact renewing the copyright in 1967.

When her time of death came the family and preacher gathered around her bedside. They looked on rather helplessly as she was in the final throes of death, her body ravaged and completely unresponsive.

Expecting to see her draw her final breath they were stunned by her sudden arousal as she broke into song:

I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.
O victory in Jesus…

At first her voice was very weak, but as she continued to sing the words became clearer and her voice grew stronger. She then sang the second verse:

I heard about His healing, of His cleansing pow’r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus, Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.
O victory in Jesus…

Immediately after singing this verse and the chorus she died! The preacher, at a loss for words said, “I reckon she’s singing the third verse up yonder.” *

What a way to go! And what a memorable demonstration of God’s presence and guidance even unto death.

Psalm 48 begins with the worshipful declaration, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised…” This Psalm is written by a group of singers known as the “Sons of Korah”. Most likely these were temple singers who lived during the period of the divided kingdom.

This Psalm extols God for His greatness, His deliverance, His unfailing love and other divine attributes. It includes a virtual Google Earth-like tour around the wall of the Holy City. “Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation” (12,13).

But the Psalm ends with our first daily text which empowers us as we transmit the life-changing message of God’s truths to our own generation. Let us examine it today, consider its relevance, and receive its assurance:

“For this God is our God forever and ever.” This is our great eternal God! This God is our “Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend.” Consider His great acts throughout history. Consider the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Moses, Joshua, Samuel and David; the God of Ruth, Esther, Mary, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel; the God of Peter, Stephen and Paul. Martin Luther, John Wesley, D.L. Moody, Jim Elliot, Billy Graham, and many others who stood the tests and finished or are finishing well. He is the God of so many not recorded in history books, little known on this side who have stood firm and faithful to God throughout the long history of the church. (That would be most of us reading this.)

In your own life consider those who have walked faithfully with God and impacted your own life. Some are now with Christ; others still labor here below. Let us together with one heart and one voice declare, “This God is our God forever and ever! He will be our guide even unto death.” And then let us declare,
"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, when we consider the saints throughout history and the marvelous saving power portrayed in their lives we’re encouraged by their bold example and their consistent enduring walk with You.  We recognize these “greats” of the past and those in our own generation who are faithful and powerful examples. They do not build their own kingdom or seek credit for their accomplishments. Instead they recognize that it is God alone who deserves our truest praise, no matter our own personal sacrifice. We gratefully declare to ourselves and to others, “This God is our God!  He will be forever and ever!  He will be our guide even unto death.” Thank you that we indeed have victory in Jesus!

* Interestingly the third verse of “Victory in Jesus” talks about “I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory.......and some sweet day I’ll sing up there the song of victory.” How fitting that the third verse would not be sung by Joan Bartlett on her death bed down here below, but she would “sing up there the song of victory!”, the precise lyrics that were written she would personally experience!

Both Tommy and his son Thomas were replete with interesting stories.

Thomas is a missionary with CompassionLink, leading a ministry to the disabled. Early in the pandemic he contracted covid while overseas at a mission conference and was the very first covid patient at Cox Medical Center in Springfield, MO. He had quite an overcoming experience and his amazing story is told here.

Another “rest of the story”

Tommy and his wife Nelma last visited our home in October 2011 when they were passing through after attending a Mission Conference. Only a few days later Nelma and her grandson, Buck (son of Thomas), entered into heaven via a car accident. What a very difficult time it was for Tommy and Buck’s parents, for the whole Carpenter family and for all those they had ministered to over the years in their pastoral and missionary role. A couple years later God brought a godly woman named Jane into Tommy’s life and they entered into marriage.

Tommy remains vibrant in his witness and while we were at the Cracker Barrel he saw several people he knew including the children's hospital chaplain who had ministered to him and his family 10 years ago when their son Buck died. This chaplain carried a heavy burden due to his wife being very sick and we joined Tommy and Thomas as they anointed him with oil and prayed for his wife's healing right there in the Cracker Barrel!

Brooksyne’s further research on singing schools from an online encyclopedia:

Singing schools were often taught by traveling singing masters who would stay in a location for a few weeks and teach a singing school. A singing school would be a large social event for a town; sometimes nearly everyone in the town would attend and people would come for miles. Many young men and women saw singing schools as important to their courtship traditions. Sometimes the entire life of a town would be put on hold as everyone came out to singing school. In this way, singing schools resembled tent revivals.

Laura Ingalls Wilder related attending a singing school as a young lady in These Happy Golden Years, one of the Little House books. Her husband, Almanzo Wilder, courted her there.

One common tradition was the “singing school picture” taken of the teacher and students on the last day of school. Many old black and white photographs exist as records of these events from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; genealogical researchers often find these records useful. The pictures were often taken in front of a blackboard with the name of the teacher and date of the school. Some of these pictures show small classes, while others record very large schools.

Singing schools underwent many changes as cities grew and the population moved away from an agrarian lifestyle. One of the most notable changes was the length of schools; athebrews619elpishope one time it was common for schools to last four weeks. This was shortened over time, and today most of the larger singing schools last for two weeks, though the Gospel Singers of America School of Gospel Music still lasts for three weeks.

Singing schools began to hold less interest for the general public as time went on and could rarely get attendance from an entire town. Instead, schools were attended by interested students from a much larger region. In the case of Sacred Harp singing schools, students usually attended because of their interest in the Sacred Harp singing tradition; in other schools, students attended because of an interest in vocal church music, especially for those churches that maintain an all a capella music tradition.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Victory In Jesus"  Video  New Vision Worship

"Victory in Jesus/Power of the Blood"  Video  Bluegrass medley by Shane and Shane with Bethany Dillon

"Victory In Jesus"  Video  Jimmy Fortune (dedicated to our friend Tina Kester)

More travel photos

Dean and Greta at Fish's BBQ
In Tahlequah OK we had a meal with my (Stephen's) niece, Greta, and her husband Dean at Fish's BBQ. Tahlequah is an Indian town and was established as a capital of the 19th-century Cherokee Nation in 1839, as part of the new settlement in Indian Territory after the Cherokee Native Americans were forced west from the American Southeast on the Trail of Tears.

Fish's BBQ
You know it's authentic BBQ when they walk right by your table for the third time with slabs of brisket from the fire pit outside. We found the Fish's BBQ about twenty years ago when my brother Pat and I attended a reunion and had accidentally found it which is pretty amazing.

Fish's BBQ
It's in an unmarked former auto repair shop with the garage door still in place with a gravel parking lot that has huge ruts, due to heavy rains, way down a long alley off a side street. I guess when you are well-known by the locals you get all the business you need!

Steam engine 382, Jackson TN
We stayed one night in Jackson TN near the Casey Jones homestead. Do any rail enthusiasts recognize this old steam engine? See here.

The Ballad of Casey Jones  Video

Loveless Cafe
Near Nashville we got off I-40 to eat at a folksy establishment known as the "Loveless Cafe" where the specialty is southern biscuits and sausage gravy. We sure enjoyed our meal and joined a lot of famous people who also have eaten there based upon the 8 X 10 photos of movie stars, country singers and politicians who filled the walls.

The name "Loveless Cafe" is interesting and we wondered how they came up with such a name. Based upon the name loveless was it going to be a dour place void of love? (We didn't really think that!) Actually it was named after the original owners Lon and Annie Loveless, who in 1951 began serving chicken and gravy to travelers who passed by their house along US Highway 100 in Nashville, Tennessee. They served them fresh hot food right out their front door!

Finally today:

One more story Tommy Carpenter told us: He officiated at his Uncle Carl's funeral service at the First Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He told us as he sat on the platform the words to "Victory In Jesus" came to mind and he rejoiced as he realized his Uncle Carl was experiencing that "mansion He has built for him in glory" and he was "walking on the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea", and was singing up there "the song of victory"!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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