Hello my friends and happy Easter welcome to Cowboy Church's Easter service.
Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing Easter is a Loving Time. This recording comes from a 1955 Little Golden Record. Roy and Dale are accompanied by the Sandpipers and Mitch Miller and his Orchestra. Next we join another singing cowboy from the movies with Gene Autry's 1954 recording of Easter Morning. Next is Johnny Cash with a song that is perfect for Easter, The Old Rugged Cross. The song itself dates back to 1913 and was written by evangelist, George Bennard. Actually the first verse was written in 1912. It was written while Bennard was a part of a series of revival meetings in Albion, Michigan. He was worried about the complete disregard for the gospel around him and wrote this verse as a repose. Of writing it Bennard said, "I seemed to have a vision ... I saw the Christ and the cross inseparable." The song wouldn't be completed for several months, when he was leading meetings at a local church in Pokagan, Michigan. He played it for Rev. Leroy (the sponsoring pastor) and his wife, Ruby Bostwick, both of whom found themselves moved to tears. It was then incorporated into a service at that church on June 7, 1913. The song has the same effect today as it must have back then. This version of the song comes from John's 1975 album, Johnny Cash Sing Precious Memories. This album (which entirely consists of traditional gospel songs) abandons John's traditional sound for a more lush and orchestrated sound. Much of this was due to arrangements by Bill Walker, who had been the musical director for John's TV show. This album was dedicated to John's late brother Jack, who had died at the age of 15 in a sawmill accident. His death took its toll on John and affected him for the rest of his life. This is written on the back of the album, "Dear Jack, We lost you one sad day in May 1944. I was twelve years old. Some of these songs were the songs we sang at your funeral. As you were dying you gave us a description of heaven and singing angels. Could these be some of the songs the angels were singing? See you later. Your little brother J.R." Next comes John's sister Joanne Cash with I've Got Jesus. Like Johnny, Joanne had spent much time backsliding from God's word before truly giving her life to him. She had been a drug addict and alcoholic. Pastor Greg Laurie's excellent Johnny Cash biography Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon quotes Joanne as saying "After I asked Jesus to come into my heart, I prayed, and I felt this heat come up my body to the end of my fingertips. I knew I was born again I knew I was saved. I knew I was gonna go to Heaven. I knew I would get to see Jack again (her brother who had died at 15 years old in a saw mill accident). I was just elated ... I then started praying for Johnny." Though she may not be as well known as her big brother, she has spent much time sharing the word of God through her music. This recording comes from her 2008 album simply titled Gospel. She is joined on this song by Bill Nash. Now we join The Chuck Wagon Gang with their 1948 recording of Echoes From the Burning Bush. This is the original Chuck Wagon Gang here which consist of father, D.P. Carter, son, Jim (Ernest) Carter and daughters, Rose (Lola) Carter Karnes and Anna (Effie) Carter Gordon Davis. Since they share this last name with another country music family, they have often been referred to as "the other Carter Family." This is followed by The Purple Hulls with Carpenter. This song comes from their 2015 album, Why We Sing. Afterwards is The Charlie Daniels Band with Kneel At the Cross. Apporpaitly this song was written by Charles Moody, who was a fiddle player himself (he is said to have traded his first shotgun for a fiddle). Though Moody's work was hardly confined to gospel music (he was a part of a popular secular band called The Georgia Yellowhammers), he did write many gospel songs (another being, Drifting Too Far From the Shore). This song was written in 1924 and has become a southern gospel standard. This recording comes from The Charlie Daniels Band's 2003 album How Sweet the Sound: 25 Favorite Hymns and Gospel Greats. This album won the Grammy for Best Southern, Country Or Bluegrass Gospel Album. You can tell from this album that CDB are just as passionate about gospel music as they are about southern rock or bluegrass, and this may be the best 21st Century album the band has put out. At Easter, we should always remember what we are truly celebrating. Jesus is alive and overcame the grave. Even more than this by doing so, we have salvation and one day will see heaven. Also since he bore our sin we are allowed to have an undamaged relationship with our loving creator. To celebrate this here are The Gospel Plowboys with Because He Lives. Though this song in many was feels like an old hymn it is actually much more recent than you might think. The song was written by Gloria and William J. Gaither and won an award for being the Gospel Song of the Year for 1974. In an interview the couple stated how this song came to be, “‘Because he lives’ was written in the midst of social upheaval, threats of war, and betrayals of national and personal trust. It was into this world at such a time that we were bringing our third little baby. Assassinations, drug traffic, and war monopolized the headlines. It was in the midst of this kind of uncertainty that the assurance of the Lordship of the risen Christ blew across our troubled minds like a cooling breeze in the parched desert. Holding our tiny son in our arms we were able to write: How sweet to hold our newborn baby, And feel the pride, and joy he gives; But greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain day because He lives.’” Now we turn to Willie Nelson with the self-penned It's Not For Me to Understand from his 1971 album, Yesterday's Wine. Today's musical selection ends with the Sons of the Pioneers with their 1946 recording of Cowboy Camp Meeting. This song was written by one of the group's founding members, Tim Spencer.
Now here is an Easter message from Billy Graham.
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.” Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. Matthew 27:1-66
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:1-20
Thank you for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again.