Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST

Monday, September 23, 2019

Things I Never Heard.

At least, not in church....

Let's consider a couple of things:

For one thing, Baptism. We are, after all, Baptists, so we should understand the real significance of that event in our lives. We should understand the magnitude of what it represents.

I've heard Jesus was Baptized, and we should be, too. Well, He walked on water and healed the sick, but we do not seem to do those things.

Jesus also walked on water, but I haven't seen that happening among us, now, in 38 years in SBC.

I have also heard that Baptism represent the first confession of our faith. That always grinds on me; if that's so, then those in the congregation that morning (around 33% of the members, at that) are the only ones to whom our faith is confessed. I have a hard time thinking that's really His plan.


 Then there's Holy Communion. We do that because He did say "..as often as you do this ...".

So we take Communion fairly regularly, most likely on some "special occasion" ... like the 5th Sunday of the month (at least when it has five Sundays).

But is that all it means? I realize it represents the Body and Blood of the Savior, but is there more? I think there is....

BAPTISM:

When we are baptized ... by immersion, the only real form of baptism ... we place ourselves in the hands of someone else. They then lower us into, and under, the water. Backwards, in a position from which it would be difficult for us to recover.

In a very real sense, we are placing ourselves in a very difficult position, placing our lives in someone else's hands.

To continue living, we must be rescued.

Isn't that like the Christian life? One from which we'd have difficulty leaving (think Eternal Security of the believer) and one which we really have no hope, outside of being rescued by Someone.

I am 81 years old. My last day here is a lot closer than my first day. And on that day, my sole and soul hope of "rescue" is my security in Jesus.

Then there's ......

COMMUNION: 

All throughout the animal kingdom, "upward mobility" is always initiated within the level above. Dirt cannot become grass, but the grass can send down roots and part of the dirt can become part of the grass.

The same is true for Grass & Cows, for Cows & Man, and Man & God. (Check Hebrews 9:27 to see what God did about that). But then we come to Jesus and Man. Jesus tells us that we must consume His Body and Blood, or we have no part in Him! There's a lot of symbolism in that!

For one thing, He wants to be part of our lives! That's an awesome thought all by itself, and let's add His guidance to the mix .... IF we listen to Him. And pay obedient attention. PLUS: Some of the things He wants done here need some flesh, and methinks HE wants to commandeer ours! Talk about an HONOR! 

Those things ... those thoughts and conclusions ... are things I have never heard anyone say.

Well ... at least not man .... 

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

SHE KEPT THAT RESERVATION

Hebrews 9:27 tells us " ...as it is appointed unto man, once to die ....".

The word "appointed" is "Apokeimai" ... laid away, in reserve.

The word for "man" is "Anthropos" .. a human being.

That's right ... you and I have an appointment to die. And considering the expanse of time, I must think that it was God Himself, Who made that appointment.

The picture there is Mrs. Karen Scott, wife of Dr.  CB Scott, who is an Associational Missions Strategist in Eastern Kentucky. This past Friday afternoon, Karen succumbed to many years' effects of MS, and died quietly at home. And from what I understand, she died exactly as she would have preferred.

I first met CB at the SBC Annual Meeting in Greensboro, NC, in the summer of 2006. We met that very next week, over lunch, and in that one  meeting he became my best friend. And he still is, from 400 miles away.

He's the one guy I want on Speed Dial.

Not long after our first meeting, Peg and I went to Westmont Baptist Church, in suburban Birmingham, for a Sunday evening service. He invited us over, after the service, for coffee. That was when I first met Karen, who was suffering from MS all those years ago.

I used the word "Suffering", and I am sure she was.  Even then, she was confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk, but I do not recall her ever, not once, complaining about her condition, her pain level, or the many infirmities brought by the disease. Or, for that matter, anything else. She was, in all respects, a ray of sunshine in a difficult time, and in difficult conditions.

At that time, they had 4 children in their home, taken in by their choice, from the Alabama Baptist Children's Home. While there was much she could not do, owing to the illness, she and CB saw to their upbringing. To their nurture and admonition. And they did it superbly. One of their foster sons went on to attain high, high honors in the United States Marines, serving as a Guard on Marine One, and the other became a Pharmacist in the Birmingham area.

The two daughters are still at home, and I am confident that they will carry the traits of their "Nan" with them for the rest of their lives.

Here's a picture I took about 8 years ago, at lunch with the Scotts, in our favorite Chinese Restaurant. As we were sitting there, he got a phone call from the Clerk of the Court they'd petitioned for the formal adoption of Ashley and Carrie; the Clerk told him the girls were now theirs, the Judge having signed the Interlocutory Decree.

The girls were now Ashley and Carrie Scott!

IF you'd like a further indication of how well the boys turned out, catch this: While Stephan was still in Pharmacy School, at Samford, he went to the Courthouse, paid the fee, and had his last name officially and formally changed to Scott.

Peg has lost a good friend, one with whom she shared innumerable telephone hours. Karen used to refer to that as her "Peg time", and that is and was precious to us both.

Over the years and years of fellowship with Karen and CB and the kids, I have personally been left so much richer for the experience. And I am quite sure that those memories will continue to grow and prosper and bring fruit in my life.

At least, until I see her once again.

Where there's no more MS.




Friday, August 02, 2019

CONFORMED

OR MAYBE ... LESSONS FROM SILLY PUTTY?

While doing some cleaning the other day, Peg ran across a  plastic sandwich bag full of Silly Putty we'd gotten for the kids many years ago. It was stored in a Ziploc bag somewhere.



Silly putty hadn't been invented when I was a kid, so I'd never had a chance to play with the stuff, back then. So .... it was fun!

When I got done messing with that kids' stuff, I laid it down on the glass surface of a Lazy Susan which sits atop our kitchen table. The next day, I noticed it was now a nice big puddle, as opposed to the ball it had been a day earlier.

And that gave birth to a thought or two in my alleged mind.

Silly Putty is good for lots of things. Things like making small statues .... my younger son used to make excellent dogs from the stuff ... rolling it out into snakes ... making a bunch  of little spheres .. playthings like that.  What I noticed that day, however, was that it conformed itself to its surroundings. Put it in a little cup, and it quickly adapts to the shape of the cup. Stick it in a plastic bag ... where my wife found this little batch, and it adapts to the space it's stored in.

In this case, put it on the glass top of a 40+ year old Lazy Susan on our Breakfast Table, and it oozes out into a shiny puddle shaped exactly like the glass surface it's lying on.

On the other hand, the rocks in the picture stayed exactly as they were when they were in the planter area alongside our fireplace. And that sparked a couple more thoughts in that elusive brain space.

As Christians, we're called to be different from "the world". But that's not easy for us, as we seem to be a gregarious sort that wants to fit in with those around us. So, in a world where casual sex, little white lies, cuss words ... and all that sort of thing ... are increasingly acceptable, we're not supposed to be like that world, or society.

It seems to me God would have known what the society was going to be like ...  all the many things society deems acceptable ... the general downward drift in societal mores .... the tendency of some outside our Churches (and maybe some inside), to refer to a devoted Christ follower as "goody-two-shoes'.

Well, He did! And He warned us, and gave us the antidote for it:

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind ...".

And I just now noticed something I had never seen before! He tells us "do not ... any longer ... ", which indicates to me that He knew that conformity would be our natural tendency! And in the last half of the sentence, He gives us the remedy for the dilemma: A renewed mind!

That is something only a sovereign God could accomplish in us! And if He tells us to do that, He's saying (to me, at least) that (1) We must be able to do that on our own ... Hint: We can't, or, (2) He can, and will  ... if we will allow Him to do so.

And that  will allow us to be transformed and not conform to the world.

We can be Rocks, not Silly Putty. 

If that's what we want. And will allow Him to do for us.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Insurance and Race?

Yes indeed. A lot of my philosophy as to race relations come from my 45+ years in the insurance industry (not Life & Health, but the kind you buy to protect your car & house).

Here's how:

The insurance industry is tasked with sorting people into classes, for the purpose of rating, etc. You wouldn't expect the Fire-Resistive bank building to pay the same rate as the frame Dynamite Factory, for instance. And the snag comes in as to just how to do that, while following an industry principle of non-discrimination Discrimination is interpreted as charging a rate for some people based on factors unrelated to what's referred to as risk exposure.

Example: you could not charge a different rate for left-handed people, than for right-handed people. Unless you could prove statistically that one's "handedness" actually affected the exposure.

The trick is knowing that what's true for the masses is not necessarily true for the individual. I happen to be a Pentecostal, Calvinistic Southern Baptist, and those descriptions are handy, conveying a lot of information. But anything you have seen in people who fit any of those definitions, does not necessarily apply to me.

There's a noted tendency for youthful drivers to have more accidents than older ones, but that tells me absolutely nothing about your son or daughter and what kind of driver they are.

I have heard Pentecostals who believe every person should speak in an unknown tongue. I do not believe that.

I have heard ... and read ... some Calvinists say that some children are not elect. That they are doomed to hell.  I do not; at least not those too young to know right from wrong.

Remember Isaiah 7:14? Let's see what it says, including the ensuing verses...

ISAIAH 7:14-16: Therefor the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste." 

Catch that? There would be a time in the life of the offspring of the virgin who would conceive, in this promise of the Savior, that he would not know enough to choose what's right and reject what's wrong.

If it is important that we know that about Jesus, then it's important that we know that about us, too.

I also do not believe that Calvinists, such as Presbyterians, are lax on evangelism.When Covenant Presbyterian Church was founded 40+ years ago, our budget for missions was 50% of the budget for normal operating expense. 1/3 of the church's total budget! But as of today, I don't know of any SBC churches with a similar missions budget.

Now, as to race: we all see the TV shows such as "COPS", and noted that the race of the criminals ... at least the ones they show ... is plain to see. But even if crime is skewed toward one race or the other, that does not tell me anything about any one person. None of the black preachers I've met, for instance, has anything in common with a black criminal. 40+ years in the insurance business taught me that I cannot make that leap in conclusions.

If you're tired of people judging other by their race, or any other generalized factor  you've noticed, my suggestion is to remember the lesson from the insurance industry. And the principles we'd all do well to remember.

PS: Think of piano keys. When a black key gets out of tune, we wouldn't dream of tearing out all the black keys, would we? Goodness, no ... we'd tune up the black key so it could do its job And the music would be better once we'd done that.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Lessons from Kids' Toys

My great-grandsons have lots of toys, many of which are kept in our home. Our living room is about 20' X 24', and they will normally take all of their toys out and have a blast, in the living room. And even at that, we can still use the room normally without their interrupting whatever we want to do.

One of those toys is a little battery-powered train locomotive, which clips into an endless track. When you hit the switch, it runs all over the track.

And causes it to roll and flop around, in a wide area.

The problem is that sometimes it causes the track to go where it's not supposed to, and in a manner unintended.

Here's what I mean:

Where it starts, this time on our back porch  .... ...



And where it frequently ends up ....

















Among other things, the little locomotive caused the whole thing to flop over on it side, and then flop clear over underneath a chair. Not the way it was designed to operate, and not going where it was supposed to end up.

Hmmm ....

That all got me to wondering if the principle behind this might apply to other things we have seen. Could it be that a strong leader can eventually cause a well-designed entity to flop over on its side ... as it were ... and end up where it wasn't meant to be?

I think ... maybe ... 


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Mail Delivery and Church Availability?

Yeah they're connected. They're at either end of a chain of thought that raced through my alleged
mind at 9:52 this morning.

Peg and I were sitting at the kitchen table at that time, playing our morning game of Phase Ten. Then we saw the mail lady delivering mail to folks in our little cul-de-sac. We've seen her lots, over the last 36 years, but always at 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon.

We talked about that.

Peg mentioned the same lady delivered mail to our church, sometimes availing herself of our facilities there. That got me to thinking that sometimes, the church is closed for holidays and the like. Peg pointed out that it's likely that mail would not be delivered on those days anyway, so ....

But the train of thought had already pulled into the station, after I'd thought churches ought to be available 24/7, which brought to mind one of the most meaningful "church moments" I've ever had.

In an empty, quiet sanctuary.

It was late 1998, and I was at work. My Brother Art ... my only sibling ... called me an update on his esophageal cancer. He told me that it had metastasized and was inoperable. Instead of curing it, he said, he would now be on a "course of treatment". Which meant for his final days.

That hit me pretty hard, mostly in wondering what I could do, and feeling helpless. Art had adopted the Jewish faith when he married a Jewish lady from Long Island, and had resisted all my efforts to at evangelism.

Now, with him about 1,000 miles away, there really wasn't anything I could do.

Except pray.

At the time, I was attending a prayer meeting every week, at Kingwood Assembly of God .... the one pictured up there ... in the neighboring community of Alabaster, AL. The times there were very intense, some miraculous things had happened there, so I left my office, got in my car, and drove down there.

I stopped by the Pastor's office there, and asked June if I could go to their altar to pray. She said "Sure", so I did.

In the silence of that place, I poured out my heart and my desperation to God. After a few minutes, I had what can only be described as a "God Moment". He said something like I'd done all that I could, and Art was in His hands, now. And that I was to trust God with my brother now, just as I trust Him with me. Not that I was to trust in where Art would spend eternity, but to simply trust God.

BOOM!!!

The burden and the trouble in my soul disappeared instantly! I'd probably been trusting in my own actions, and whether I'd done the "right things", and it took only a word from God to instantly erase all those thoughts.

I stood up, brushed myself off, stopped at June's office to thank her, and went back to my office. And the burden of all those thoughts, and Art's condition, never came back.

When I think of 40,000+ SBC churches, I have to wonder how many of them have meaningful "prayer lives". FBC Pelham doesn't ... and didn't back in the late 1990's, or else I would have gone there to pray on that day, right? Even though it was on the way to Kingwood, I didn't even think to go there, probably because the really neat things ... the "God things" ... had happened at Kingwood.

I've come to understand that the whole prayer things is really between me and God. But I need to order my own life to help FBC Pelham and other churches to see that His House should really be a House of Prayer ... not just in some scripture reference few people know anyway, but actually and collectively, in practice.

Like it was at Kingwood, all those years ago.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sniff ... Sniff ...

We've all heard it a thousand times: "Stop and smell the roses.." Well, I decided to do just that, this morning.

Now, I'm not referring to the kinds of spiritual events one might hurry to include. Rather, I decided to simply look around and see all the things around me that remind me of how terrific life really is (despite arthritis and all my other niggling ailments....).

Just from what I could see, sitting in our living room!

See the painting on the fireplace wall? It's a print of an Eagle painting done by a friend, Mrs. Linda Kimbrough. I'd spent a few years working with her husband, Tom, and I'd mentioned somewhere that my Dad loved the American Bald Eagle. Dad was a real American patriot, even to being quite angry when JFK was assassinated, even though he had absolutely no use whatsoever for him as a President. He simply would not tolerate the assassination's insult to our nation.

When Mom and Dad died, I inherited the painting, and there's absolutely nowhere else I'd rather it be displayed, than right there.

Sniff ... sniff ....

There are a lot of pictures on the mantel. They show much of our family ... sons, grandsons, their families, etc. And those folks were all in our dining room, right behind the spot from which I took the picture, yesterday, for lunch! It's a family tradition, and we get to spend an afternoon with all our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, every week!

Sniff ... sniff ...

You might notice the "recesses" on either side of the fireplace itself. They're full of greenery, one of which is a vine that Brad, our younger son, bought for us maybe 25 years ago, when he was working at K-Mart.

You might also note the shelf unit on the far side, full of model cars. Most of them were bought for me by our younger son Brad, as he traveled all over the country, tending to banks and their computer programs. Our older son, Brian, bought one of them, and I bought 4 or 5 myself (going-out-of- business sale at Sharper Image here in Birmingham).  The store manager was Brad's wife, Connie!

Also on that top shelf is a yellow model Fire Truck, bought at a BP station, while en route to a wedding in Louisiana. The brother of an internet friend, from India, was marrying a young lady from Louisiana, and he brought his sister over here for the wedding. So we drove there as we were invited, too, and brought her back here for a few days' visit. And it was terrific visiting with someone from another culture ... a very different one, at that. I learned a lot!

Sniff ... sniff ...

At the very bottom is a little red bench I made for the GGkids to sit on while they play with their toys. I made 3 ... Alabama, Auburn, and Braves ... out of leftover lumber from my Dad's Wurlitzer Home Theater Horseshoe Organ. We inherited it when the folks died, it had stopped working and wasn't worth repairing (a $150 keyboard will do more than it did ... ), So I dismantled it, after efforts to sell it. Or give it away. And my craftsmanship worked ... the GGkids use those little benches all the time!

Also in the photo is a little "Kiddies' Kitchen". We'd bought it 30+ yeas ago, for our Grandkids to play with. And that brings back more neat memories.

There's more ... a roomful of furniture ... the room itself ... that fireplace wall ... our home itself.

Sniff ... sniff ...

But then: I am forced back into the Spiritual. And I ask "Why me?" We hear that asked mostly when something bad happens to us; Seldom when some blessing comes our way. In this case, I know how unworthy I am to have all this stuff, to remind me daily, hourly, constantly , of God's love for me.

Sniff ... sniff ...

I take that back. DO SOME ROSE-SNIFFING YOURSELF.