Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST: February 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

If THIS Isn't a Wake-Up Call.........

I don't know what is.

Earlier this morning, I was Yahoo-Messengering with my 23-year-old Jamaican friend of 15 years, Keri-Ann Bethune. You can read about her here. She happened to mention that they'd just finished the Assembly of the Jamaica Baptist Union this past weekend. We chatted briefly about it and I asked her where it was held. She said in their National Arena.

Now, Jamaica is a country of something like 5,000,000 folks, so I figured the National Arena was reasonably large, so I asked her about how many folks were in attendance. She immediately snagged the Moderator of the Assembly online (she knows him) and asked him. He said "10,000, give or take a thousand". Since the number of messengers I heard for the SBC Convention in Greensboro was 9,000, I figured I'd try and learn me some other numbers. Boy, was I impressed.

According to the JBU Website, their "Convention" has 302 Member Churches (with 107 ministers), and 40,000 communicant members. The last I heard, the SBC had 41,000 churches and 16,000,000 members. Well, I think I will show some integrity here say we really have only 7,000,000 (with all due respect to the soundly-rebuffed "Integrity in Membership" Resolution that was laughed into oblivion in Greensboro).

Hmmm ... let me understand this thing ... the SBC has as many CHURCHES as the JBU has MEMBERS, and they have as many messengers show up at their annual meeting as the SBC?

What's wrong with that picture? I'm not sure I know, but whatever it is, it's really, REALLY wrong.

Maybe it has something to do with some stuff I see in scripture. Take, for instance:

Proverbs 24:32-34: I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. (NIV)

I wonder if that might apply to spiritual matters, too. If it does, it'd make sense, in light of what's going on in Jamaica. Their society is riddled with crime. Almost everyone there knows someone who was murdered. In 2004, the murder rate was 32 per 100,000 population which would equate to 1,600 country-wide. Further, as I recall, it was worse last year.

I read the onine edition of the Jamaica Gleaner, and many is the Monday I've seen that there were a dozen and sometimes two dozen murders in Kingston and Spanish Town over one weekend! People there have reason to fear. The church can hardly afford to be asleep at the switch.

Then, there's the economy. Red Hills Church is a good example. We jumped in with a mission trip in 1992, when they were just starting their new education wing. It was probably 30X50 and two stories, and it took them until the fall of 2006 to finish it. With inflation normally in double digits, they cannot afford to borrow money to build the building, and their annual budget is about what ours is in a typical week. They face financial hardship, all the time.

When you add soaring crime and money problems all the time, you are neither at ease in Zion, nor secure financially, save for dependence on Jesus.

Amos said this:

Amos 6:1: Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! (NIV)

Is the SBC complacent in Zion? Do we feel secure on Mount Samaria? If we were, where would it show?

Are we like Nineveh, which was having a swell time just short of destruction until the people got the message and repented; it was only after that, that the king got the message and repented, too.

If the SBC is ever to get beyond lying about numbers, treating people unfairly, ignoring candidates' calling, spending God's money on things it should NEVER be spent on ... if that's ever to happen, where will it start?

I'm tempted to move to the seashore and start prowling for big fishes barfing up stuff on the beach. I think it's time for Jonah to put in an appearance.

Monday, February 19, 2007

WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE

While all the multitasking bloggers were typing the live blogs at the ID Conference in Jackson, I was making notes of ideas. Dad always said to use all the brains I had, and all I could borrow, so I'm usually on the lookout for ideas I can steal.

Let me put it this way: I have ELEVEN pages of ideas I want to write about. I figure, all in, I got about 15 cents apiece in them. BIG bargain. But the idea I want to wax warm about, now, has nothing to do with that. It was an offshoot of my previously-referred-to session of vegging in the hotel and going a few rounds with C.B. and Alan Cross. Here's what happened:

I made the remark that being around them, and the other bloggers, kept me on my toes. That's a GoodThing. But there was also the subtle influence that being around folks who respect you makes you want to be a better person.

Well, it makes you want to at least put on a good front. But if you're sincere, it'll actually make you want to be a better person.

I experience that with my Sunday School class. When I began teaching the class on a permanent basis, I tried to put my best foot forward. But then, as I grew to love them, I knew that couldn't be a "front". I knew I had to be what I was trying to represent to them, that I was. Suddenly I wanted to be that person.

Dads experience that sort of thing, in an inverse sort of way. If you have a good relationship with your kids, they'll think you're this perfect person who can fix anything. In that case, of course, you know the day is coming when they'll discover you're really human and cannot always fix their broken toys. That starts "role reversal" in which they see you as more and more human, as the stumbling blocks of age become more frequent, and ends with the child becoming the parent, and sometimes the provider, for their biological parent. It's painful, but it's necessary, and you'd best understand it before it overtakes you.

In the case of my SS class, they started out knowing I'm human, and the respect they showed then has grown as we've experience spiritual growth together. And I think they love me, too, as I do them. And that makes me want to be what they think and hope that I am. That I'm really how they see me to be.

That's a staggering thought, and a role we cannot possibly fill without the renewal of the mind and the newly-created clean heart, both of which only God can do.

On the way home this afternoon, driving alone, it struck me that this is exactly what God wants of me, but not just what my kids or my wife or my SS class thinks me to be. Not just what they expect of me. No, what I need to be is what the world needs to see in me. Put another way:

I want to be
What the world needs to see


I've resented, for some time, the thought that we ought to "show forth" this or that. What we do and who we are shouldn't be based on any effort to put forth an image, to appear to be a certain thing, or to establish a particular reputation. Jesus never did anything of the sort. He simply WAS Who He was. Period. In God's plan, He needed to be just that. And He was.

That's how it should always be, for us. So spend some time around some folks who respect you, and be reminded that you should be what they believe you to be.

They may never know the difference, but God does.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE PADDED CELL


One of my earlier mentors in the Wonderful World of Insurance told me that every organization needs a Resident Idiot. An ordinary sort who doesn't understand much but does know how to drool. What my mentor suggested was the the R.I. should be locked in a Padded Cell and when the Suits dream up some new plan, toss it in there with the R.I.

See ... if the R.I. could understand it, then the managers might be able to manage it, the administrators might be able to administer it, the sales force might be able to sell it, etc. And maybe even the rank and file guys out there might understand it.

So here comes, from R.G.C. the R.I.'s P.C..

First, I thought the Conference on Baptist Identity was outstanding. There were plenty of good talks and lots of ideas were floated. I've poked around here and there and there are probably 48 hours of audio available from the dozen or so hours of dissertation. You can find them. And listen. Sure you can. So I'll leave that stuff there. But .. other general observations:

1) The Bloggers are really a great bunch of (mostly) youngish guys. And when you stand and talk with them, which side of issues you're on doesn't seem to make one whit of difference. I talked here and there with folks who have staged an electronic WWIII in the BlogBog, and I could not possibly have guessed from their demeanor, who was on which side of what. ATTENTION ALL BLOGGERS: remember that, please.

2) Everyone and I do mean everyone that I met from Union University was friendly and accomodating. I spent a most enjoyable 90 minutes or so talking with Dwight McKissic (Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist, and SWBTS Chapel Speaker Extraordinaire) and Charles Fowler, (Sr. VP of the University), at the Blogger's Coffee House Thursday night. I promise you that no one looking on could have told who was a HighGuy and who was the R.I. from the P.C. It was a delight.

3) Bloggers respect people even if they don't agree with them. On a personal note, C.B. Scott named a couple of guys he'd had KnockDownDragOuts with over the last year, and said they'd be welcome to come preach in his church any time. And C.B. don't blow no smoke. And they were all most respectful of me and even though we had some shall we say interesting chats, I never felt like any sort of outsider. While some factions of the SBC may think that the BlogBog is the worst thing to come along since original sin, I can tell you that the bloggers I met are some of the best things I've seen, about the SBC. And the all want to stay!

4) The tone of the speeches were uniformly positive. There seems to be a realization that folks have led the SBC to a place where it shouldn't be, and needs some changin'. That's a good thing. Of course, changes in the culture and the world have contributed to that, and I can wonder why anybody had to wake up SBC leadership to that, but at least they seem to see it. (NOTE: all generalizations are false, so don't expect everybody to be on board with anything. Ever).

5) I sat at a table with usually 3 and occasionally 4 guys who had the laptops fired up and were "live blogging". I don't know how they do that. I was sitting jotting down notes from the speeches; mostly ideas I'd want to write about later. I tried not to do too much, as I have a hard time writing down one idea while and letting another one in my brain via my ears while the speaker goes on. And here these young guys are typing most of it while listening to it and not missing anything, that I can tell. Maybe the P.C. IS the right place for me, after all.

6) I'd made a room reservation a long time ago, when C.B. said he'd like to go. Alan Cross rode up with us and hadn't counted on no rooms being available so we got an extra bed rolled in and we all roomed there. One of the real highlights of the trip was sprawling around the room with those two, sharpening each others' iron until a quarter til one on Saturday morning. That alone was worth the trip.

From the stuff I've heard from various sources, it's apt to get messy. Surgery usually is. Chemotherapy gets ugly pretty quickly, even when the cancerous body still looks ok. And I think it may well be that's an apt description of the SBC.

But I'm optimistic about the SBC now; more than ever (at least since I've known there was anything to know). The Medical Staff is alive, well, and strong, and the Pharmacist is knowledgable and has all the strong medicine he needs.

Oh, boy. I do like a fun ride.

Friday, February 09, 2007

THEY SAID I WAS THE SBC, SO........


This black eye came from an encounter with an exhaust pipe, while crawling around under a car.

Others come from words and from various other actions.

Like they said .. I AM the SBC.