Observations from the Padded Cell, home of the Resident Idiot of Blogdom, who is let out, occasionally.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Deep Dheep Discussion
The fellow over there in the picture is a gent I met on our recent cruise. His name is Dheep, and he hails, originally, from India. Currently, he lives in Canada, where he is a teacher of internal combustion engines.
I'd done what I did several times on this cruise; namely to sit down at a table where someone was alone and ask them where they were from. Without exception, folks were always most cordial, and we usually found lots to talk about.
Even including a 70ish lady on her "honeymoon cruise" .. she'd been married about 10 months ... whose husband had been denied boarding because he'd forgotten his passport. She told him "Well, I'm going anyway!"
In Dheep's case, I eventually asked him if, being from India, he was a Buddhist or a Muslim. He answered that he was "more of an atheist".
Man, I love to talk to atheists! I told him that, personally, I did not have enough faith to be an atheist. To answer his quizzical look, I then said "atheism means someone is thinking they know every possible form in which God could appear, they know everywhere in the universe He could possibly be, they can see all those places at the same time, and that they can guarantee God is not there.
His response, after some thought, was there was certainly some higher power out there. I then asked him if he thought that "higher power" would want to let us know of his existence. To communicate with us in some way. On that point, Dheep became very evasive.
He then asked how there could be so much misery and evil in the world, if there was a "God" Who was good. My response to that was: if he saw a bunch of men with long hair down to their waists, and it was dirty and unkempt, would he believe there must not be any barbers in the world? He said no, and I remarked of course ... you'd simply think those guys had not been to one of those people who could solve that problem. He nodded affirmatively, and I said that was the reason behind the evil and misery he saw ... those folks haven't been to the One Who could help end it.
He then told me of his son, who was diagnosed as bipolar at age 17. He got married in his early 20's, but then took his own life at age 30. He further mentioned that his son had become a Christian. His daughter-in-law, and his own wife had become Christians, as well!
We talked about that a while, and about the Bible. He was somewhat resistant to it, saying "there was still research going on about that".
In light of his hesitancy about Scripture, I left him with a challenge. I told him I was aware that he had studied many books to allow him to teach about things like the Otto Cycle, compression ratios, oversquare vs undersquare, 2-cycle vs 4-cycle, and all the rest of the things he taught. When he acknowledged that he had done that, I challenged him to study the Bible on the same basis. When he came to something he questioned, check it out, just as he had in reading about compression-ignition engines. Maybe get someone else to explain something he didn't quite "get".
I suggested he get one of the Bibles his now-deceased wife had used, and study the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and then go on from there.
Now: we all love to see "conversions" ... people saying that prayer ... but I doubted that was going to happen at that table. So I was content to have made the appeal that I did. Besides, I know that any increase ... in him ... will come from the One Who gives all increase.
As we parted, I asked if I could take his picture. He said "Sure", so I took the picture above. I then told him my name was Bob, to which he responded "I am Dheep". And added "not deep, like the water out there ... that's D-E-E-P. I am D-H-E-E-P which means, in my language, "teacher"
I told him that rang a bell with me ... that, if he finds something which speaks to him in the books I challenged him to read, he may, indeed, have much to teach people in the future.
May it be so.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
I SUSPECT REV. BURLESON GETS IT
Wade Burleson has just finished a new book, entitled "Radically New ... The New Covenant Will Change The Way You Think And Live". I got it on Amazon, and read it last evening and this morning.
Yeah .. I know it's Sunday and folks will say "You should have been in church!!" but I'm coming off a bad cold and a full day of travel, and neither Peg nor I was up to going out this morning.
It's also ironic ... and probably providential ... that I'm writing about Wade's new book under these circumstances. Ever since I've been active in churches, I can recall being admonished about sin, and about "ought to's". What we ought to do and what we ought not to do. About something, almost every week.
Then I read somewhere that John 8:32 promises freedom to those who know the Truth. And, since Jesus said HE is the Truth (and the Way and the Life), I've wondered what we're set free from. Some have said we're free from the eternal consequences of our sin ... free from hell, but frankly that's a promise made to dead Christians. I've wondered what about now? What's the freedom for living Christians?
Rev. Burleson effectively answers that in this book. He proposes that operating as one freed from the Old Covenant ... the one that was offered to Israel through the Mosaic law ... allows one to live free from the "ought to's" that we're always hearing about.
Jesus plainly tells us that the mark of the Christian will be the love we show one for another. And that we're to love our neighbors as ourselves. And that mandates we love ourselves. Plus, He told us we're to love each other as He has loved us! And the language tells us we're to love one another and love our neighbors just as, or to the same degree, as Jesus loved us. And we can't do that unless we love ourselves the way Jesus loves us. Despite our flaws. Despite our failures. Despite our shortcomings.
So bundle up all the actions that "churchy people" have told you over the years .. the things you have to do in order to justify your position as a follower of Jesus ... and leave them on the ash heap from one of those burnt offerings of the past. And exercise your privilege of loving people the way Jesus loves you, and the way He has in mind for us to love others.
It's called abundant life, and it's one of the 2 reasons Jesus, Himself, gave for coming to earth.
I haven't tried to go through and address each point Wade makes in Radically New..", for to do so would require I write his whole book here. But, trust me, he makes a very effective case for moving from the old, works-oriented, action dependant working out of our salvation, to loving ourselves as Jesus loves us, and passing that love along to one another and to the world.
If there are any of the commandments in the Old Covenant ... including what we refer to as the "Ten Commandments" ... that nag at you, then you need to get, and read, this book. Once you see how Wade has woven scripture together to substantiate each point, The book will live up to its title, and up to its sub-title.
"Radically New ... The New Covenant Will Change The Way You Think And Live", available for $4.99 through Amazon. And well worth it.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Baptism. Are We CERTAIN?
I have asked Sunday School teachers, singly and in a meeting. Nobody knew.
I have asked Deacons, in a meeting and otherwise. Again, wrong answers.
Once asked a Professor, from an SBC Seminary. Nope.
A table of preachers at an Executive Board meeting. Again......
I mentioned this, addressing the convention from the floor, in New Orleans. Despite the fact that I may have been somewhat familiar to the messengers, owing to prior episodes of speaking to the assembled convention on several issues, no one offered the answer for the rest of the convention days.
So .. what's the right answer? It's found in the Baptist Faith and Message, which states: A New Testament Church of the Lord Jesus Christ os an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers ..." Yeah ... it's just that simple. Our only consensus statement of faith say that a church is baptized believers.
Further, in the Section of the Baptist Faith and Message which deals with "Baptism and the Lord's Supper", it states: "Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper."
That's a clear statement, to me, yet I simply have not asked anyone who ever knew what our fundamental statement of faith says.
And we don't buy "sprinkling", either, as that's not what baptizo means. Plain and simple. Admittedly, those folks who sprinkle seems to say that it represents something other than death, burial and resurrection; it represents the coming of the Holy Spirit. Only trouble is, that sure doesn't seem to be immersion, or "baptizo".
What really brought me up short this past weekend was a realization ... call it a revelation if you will ... about the day of Pentecost. And about Peter's response to the crowd's question which followed his 3 minute sermon. They asked “Brothers, what must we do?” “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." In order:
- Repent ... That means a change of mind, a change of thinking, which produces a change in actions.
- Be baptized in the name of Jesus ... we seem to have that down pat.
- For the forgiveness of your sins.
- You will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- Jesus incarnate.
- Jesus crucified.
- Jesus buried.
- Jesus resurrected.
- Jesus ascended.
- The Holy Ghost descended to earth.
- The Holy Ghost indwelling believers.
FIRST BIG QUESTION: What were those people, who were being baptized, thinking was happening by their baptism?
SECOND BIG QUESTION: What were those, who were doing the baptizing, thinking they were doing, when they immersed them; what were they thinking was being accomplished?
As I understand it, the baptizers' reasons and positions on these matters affects whether SBC churches, entities, and the SBC itself recognize one's baptism as valid. Interestingly, it was the IMB flap over that, and unknown tongues, that got me interested in Blogging, and in All Things SBC, over 10 years ago.
Did Jesus actually start building the church .. the ekklesia ... with people who would not qualify for membership in all those entities I just mentioned?
I think He did!
I wonder: are we on the wrong side of that one?
Friday, March 04, 2016
Teaching. And My Computer.
I've had it for so many years that I don't remember how many years I've had it. Of course, at my age, that could be two or three.
Anyway, I recently upgraded the operating system to Windows 10. And I get along with it just fine ... it does everything I want to do with my computer.
Every now and then, Microsoft updates the operating system. Most of the upgrades go unnoticed, except for my sitting quietly while it tells me it's about done.
That got me to thinking a few days ago. When the system is updated, I don't just use the new part of the program ... the part that was updated. Those upgrades go into the system and then, next time I'm using the computer, I use everything the computer has.
The added information, or capabilities, help me do what I need to accomplish, perhaps improving on what I could do before the upgrade.
Now for the Spiritual buzz I got from this: my experience with the computer is a lot like teaching Sunday School. We sit down with our lesson material and prepare our lesson, with the material to guide us. Then, in the class, we teach the lesson from within ourselves, including all the Spiritual resources already there. Over time, that should be building, thus making us more effective teachers of the Word.
Some time ago, someone with connections to Lifeway ... and the old Baptist Sunday School Board ... told me that the teacher's material was designed to help the teacher in preparing the teacher's lesson, based on that material. What the teacher then teaches, in the class, would similarly feed into the Spiritual lives of those in the class, who have prepared for the lesson by reading the members' quarterlies.
At least I think .... make that I hope .... that's how it works. I fear that too many teachers may simply present the material contained in the teacher's manual, thus bypassing what should be a Spiritual storehouse in the teacher himself.
We unconsciously use all the resources our computer needs to do what we need to accomplish, when we're at our computers. Let's be sure and do the same, when we're in front of our Sunday School classes.
Saturday, February 27, 2016
My Automobile And The Holy Ghost
That's my car over there on the right. it's a 2015 Ford Fusion, and it has all the bells & whistles on it except automatic parking.
Well ... we bought it in November of 2014 and haven't parallel parked it yet, so no big deal.
Some of the features: when you're backing up, it warns you if you're about to hit some object behind the car. Where you normally can't see things. ***
It also has a thing called "Lane Assist". Neat little feature that shows a small graphic representation of your car, in a lan, with sidelines marked by green lines on either side. When you get too close to one side or the other, the lines turn bright yellow. If you don't herd the car back into the middle of the lane, but get too close to one side or the other, the car warns you. Or sometimes corrects you. Depending on how you set the controls, it either vibrates the steering wheel, or else it puts pressure on the wheel to bring it back into the correct lane. ***
It works so well that, one time on a level Interstate Highway, with no traffic, I just let go of the wheel. Eventually, the car slowly drifted to the left side. After warning me with the yellow deal on the dashboard graphic, it actually turned the wheel and moved back where the car should have been.
But the car didn't like that. It displayed a warning on the dashboard that said "WARNING: DRIVER SHOULD KEEP BOTH HANDS ON THE STEERING WHEEL AT ALL TIMES." ***
I got scolded by my own car.
When the Lane Assist is turned on, if you wander around the lane enough, from side to side, it eventually gives you a message "DRIVER NEEDS REST".***
It has another deal I didn't know about until I just noticed it in action one day. If you head down a hill of any length, and keep your foot off the throttle, when the car senses you coasting and gaining speed, it downshifts the transmission to a lower gear. The RPM's increase, and it controls the speed without the brakes. ***
There are some things I know about, too. Airbags, collapsible steering columns, seat belts, interiors designed for safety. All, things to keep me safe and assure my getting where I'm going, safely.***
Last time I drove somewhere and these things happened, it got me to thinking. Aren't the ***'s similar to the things the Holy Ghost does in the life of a believer?
He warns us when we're about to "back into" trouble....
He tells us when we stray from the path....
He warns us when we're not paying attention ....
He cautions us when we're running ahead of Him....
He keeps us safe, until God has a better idea for us. Even better than we'd plan, ourselves.
These things about my car are just the things I notice that it does, that one does not normally expect of one's conveyance. I'm sure it does more stuff I don't even know about. And I'm pretty sure the Holy Ghost does more stuff for me than I notice, too.
He's good at that. And a lot better than Ford .....
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Racial Reconciliation. I Don't Understand.
Let me state right up front that I am a member of a Big Red Brick Church on the Highway, in a mostly white city. We do have a few Black members ... more about that terminology in a minute ... but you'd sort of have to look to find them on Sunday mornings.
Except for those in the choir. And if by chance you attended a Deacon meeting. Where one of the finest men I've had the privilege to know ... of any color ... is serving as a Deacon.
His wife is a real joyful huggin' buddy of ours, too.
As to the descriptor "Black". I use that for a couple of reasons. First is that "Black" is the descriptor that people of that race chose, many years ago. I was told that, in fact, by my Audiologist, a terrific young black lady, a few years ago.
The other reason is that saying "African American" kind of mandates that there's more than one class of American. And that thought I resist. My black friends ... at least the ones here, as opposed to Jamaica ... are every bit as much American as I am. And I have asked all my Black acquaintances if that term is good for them and they have all, without exception, said it was.
Incidentally, when I asked, it was always on the basis "If it becomes appropriate to refer to race, what term would you prefer I use?".
Said all that to say: there's been a lot of ink .. or maybe electrons ... spent on "Racial Reconciliation" in the blog posts and the press I have been reading lately. I've long thought that much of how races relate to each other goes back to how the individuals were raised. I might have one internal reaction .. call it of the flesh if you want ... to people of another race, but that's a simple matter to put aside in how I act and react.
We go through life not doing what we feel like doing, you know. Someone pulls out in front of us, our reaction might be to hit'em good, to teach them a lesson. Someone insults us, our first temptation might be to smack'em good. But we don't.
So this thing is going to be resolved, even as to the reaction thing, when our generation all dies off.
Now: as to the corporate issue with our churches and the SBC, the issue is a bit different. It will take a while for minorities to rise through systems here and there, but the SBC Presidency of Fred Luter tells me that the SBC organizationally has already moved to solve that. And I don't know of any local churches preaching anything other than the Gospel as to racial fellowship.
Which leads me to ask the question ... and I have written to the SBC Officers that I know, asking, but thus far without response: "Are there a lot of Black folks out there that want to worship in our White churches, but feel they can't?" And, if not, just what is it that needs to be reconciled?
So far, silence, electronically speaking....
I asked that question, above, of the young Black couple mentioned before. Their reaction was to laugh. The wife ... my huggin' buddy ... said "Your music alone is enough to keep most of us away!". And based on the Black churches I have worshiped in, I'd certainly agree with her.
The question I would like to ask those who are calling for "Racial Reconciliation" is this: Are you worshiping at a Black church right now? If not, why not? You seem to want more Black in White churches; why aren't you putting some White in Black churches?
I certainly hope the worship habits of those calling for racial reconciliation don't reveal latent hypocrisy. I've heard God doesn't like that.
Couple other ideas: my favorite church in the world ... the one I wish I was at, every Sunday morning ... is Red Hills Baptist Church in Kingston, Jamaica. Needless to say, we are likely to integrate it when we go there. And I have had a love affair with those folks since 1991.
I've even blogged about some of them....
Some years ago, I was the insurance broker for a BBQ restaurant in a Birmingham suburb. while I was, a Black gent bought the place and I got to know him quite well.
I started my relationship with him by telling him I didn't give a flip about skin pigment and he laughed and said he didn't either. And during one of our laymen's philosophical conversations, he said something I never forgot. Namely:
"Our country will never get a handle on race relations until it recognizes that wanting to worship with people of your own race is not racist."
Amen, Sy. Maybe we could all learn that lesson.