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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Cup Runneth Over. For $26.88

We'd rented a car for a few days, as we've got some driving to do and I can save most of the rental charges in gas money, since Peg's Jeep doesn't get terrific mileage. They delivered the little gold Taurus this morning, with 1/4 tank left, so I stopped to fill it up on the way home.

I was just getting back in when I was approached by a tall gentleman who asked if he might ask me a favor. I said sure and he said "I'm not asking for anything in my hand, but I came out this morning without my wallet and I'm about to run out of gas. I just need enough to get back home". I asked how much he needed and he said "Just $4 or $5 .. a gallon and a half, maybe. I'm not a bum or anything."

He was tall and reasonably dressed and his wife was in the back seat of the little white PT Cruiser. Since we're in the South, I'll add this although it's just a statement of fact; he was a black gentleman, and perhaps age 60. So I can imagine the humbling nature of his having to ask.

NOW .... we'd been approached by numerous (apparently) panhandlers at the SBC and I never know what to do. But I was struck by this man's demeanor and expression and everything else and the Lord wouldn't let me get by with leaving. So I went around and did the credit card thing at his pump (adjacent to mine) and told him to get some gas.

He put in about $4 worth and started slowing down. I couldn't keep silent .. it was weird .. and I said "make it ten". He looked at me for a second and said "Aww .. you don't have to do that." I said of course I didn't, but go ahead anyway. He thanked me profusely and started pumping again.

He stopped about $9.90 and said that was close enough, and God still wouldn't leave me alone. I said "Fill it up". I have to say that his expression was worth whatever a tank of gas could possibly cost. I added "The only reason I'm doing that is that Jesus would want me to .. and that I can. And I need to do what I can." He was slow to start the pump again, so I grabbed the nozzle and finished the fillup, to a chorus of "God bless you" from the gentleman.

He asked me my name. I told him he didn't need to know that, it was the Lord providing the fuel, not me.

On the way home, I got into another wrestling match. I think this one was with a different spirit, though. Right in the middle of that, it hit me: God's a lot like that little episode. We ask, and receive a little, and then He gives more and more, and blows us away with His generosity. We ask, but He wants so much more than we even want for ourselves. So how could I do less for this man, who presented a need I could meet.

Downside? Isn't really any, that I can see. If he wasn't exactly who and what he said he was, it's his problem, not mine. And besides, standing at that pump, it wasn't really about him any more. It was about me and my Savior and whether I was going to do what I knew I could, or whether I was going to wish him well and go on my way with all my precious money intact. I'll leave that man with God, which is where I want to be, anyway.

I can identify with David when he said "My cup runneth over". Only in this case, it was a gas tank on a little white PT Cruiser from Birmingham, Alabama.



Incidentally, I almost didn't write this. I don't want to point to me and say how swell I am. I know better. But this was an encounter with God, and I really can't not share it. Maybe it'll help someone to recognize those little encounters in their life, too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Five, Count'em, FIVE


Things I like about Jesus, that is.

Lee Saunders tagged me with this Five-meme thing, and while I don't tag other people since they're already electronically bruised from all the other tags, I'll note some things I dig about Jesus:

1) Jesus was not Pentecostal. Not that I have anything against Pentecostals, but He didn't do so much of the stuff I hear them doing. He just did His job in what seems to be a low-key sort of way. He didn't raise His voice or shout or carry on, that I can tell. When He wanted demons to leave someone, He just told them to go. And they did.

2) He seems to have gone to some funerals but they weren't funerals when He left.

3) He simply did the right thing all the time, every time. Now this one causes us some real apoplexy in a couple areas. One is that we think He got mad when He chased the merchants out of the temple, but I don't think He did. See ... we look at ourselves and could not see US doing that unless we really blew our stack at the malefactors. We're too proper to do that. Well, He wasn't hindered by that and simply did what was right. Always.

**Edit** Let me wax on a bit about that. When a useless brother-in-law asks us for money, the normal response might be "I can't". Even if we can! We know we won't get the money back so we make up some lame excuse. Or how about we say "God can't save you if you won't trust in Jesus...." or "God can't bless you if you aren't serving Him". My answer to that is always that God can do ANYTHING He wants to do. Period. Jesus is the only way to salvation because God says He is. And that means God WILL NOT save you any other way. Oh, He could instantly change every Bible ever printed, every man's recollection of scripture, and do anything He wanted to. Evidence is He won't. So in the meantime all we can do and know is what He's told us. And the Bible is it. But don't think that how God has said He works is the only way He CAN work.

He can do anything.

**Stepping off soapbox**

4) He did outrageous stuff. So bad that we try to sanitize things to make them more socially acceptable. Take for instance the wedding feast at Cana. We want to say it was grape juice He made, or so low in alcohol that no one would get drunk. Well, that's conjecture that goes outside the Bible for support, and where does it EVER say we should do that? In fact, the head of the servants came to Him after He'd whipped up that batch and said something like "Hey ... what gives? Usually they set out the good wine early, and then, when the guests have had too much to drink, they bring out the cheap stuff. You did it backwards!" That plainly indicates that the guests would be expected to be unable to tell the difference. HellOOOO.......

He also spit on a guy's TONGUE to cure his muteness. Now, when He spit on the guy's eyes, or when He made mud out of spit and put it in the guys eyes, they were blind and couldn't see what He'd done. The mute guy He healed, wasn't. He saw it coming! So we go outside the Bible and try to say they believed in mystical powers of saliva or something. That doesn't get it, for me. I prefer to think God meant what He said when He told us about what He liked to do with what man thought was foolish or base.

5) Last, I love that Jesus loves me. And it's not like a rock star on a stage yelling at the audience. It's up close and personal. It's a pity that we settle for less than a real-life experience of that.

It's axiomatic that, when you settle for less than you could have had, you'll probably get less than you settled for. I don't want any part of that, in my spiritual life.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sibling Rivalry Done Right


Children are a blessing to parents. Sometimes you have to ask God how that can be when the kids are in that 2-year-old thing, or when they sleep through their early teen years. But, God says it, so it's true.

Well .. that even extends to grandchildren, too.

Our older son, Brian (hey world .. he's about to turn FORTY SEVEN!!!!) and his sweet wife Natalin had two children. That's them, Matthew .. on the right .. and Meredith, on the left. And what a blessing they are to Peg and me.

I can honestly say that they're best friends. This summer, as the past two summers, Meredith is a children's ministry intern at an SBC church in Tennessee, and Matthew and Meredith talk on their cell phones nearly every day. Can you imagine?

Matthew just completed (except for one night course) his studies in computer sciences here in Birmingham, and Meredith has one more year of Bible College (she's answered the call into children's ministry). They live at home, which is about ten miles south of us, and both schools are north of us, so they have been stopping in here several days a week for lunch, or to just hang out between classes or before some activity here with their friends.

What a blessing that was. And that's enhanced by many years of Sunday lunch, at our house, after church, with both sons and their families. That happens every Sunday, with whatever family is available that day. Brian is a Station Captain with our city Fire Department here (and hence he works 1 Sunday in 3), and Brad travels a lot, plus Connie works some Sundays, so we never really know how many are going to show up. And the grandkids drag some friends with them, to our house, every now and then. What a treat that is for Peg and me!

Oh, in case you wonder why I'm such a lout to allow my wife to have to work that hard every Sunday, we go to prayer meeting at 7am on Sundays; I get up at 5am to prepare for Sunday School and she gets up and fixes lunch and leaves it on time bake to it's ready at 12:15.

See, when she was young, her mom cooked in the cafeteria at Lindbergh Grade School in Lebanon, IN. Plus, Peg had two sisters, two step-sisters, and two half-sisters, so Peg's mom never knew how many were going to show up for Sunday dinner. We saw anywhere from 6 to 20 people around their table during the years we always went to their house after church. And there was always plenty of food; in fact, Peg's mom usually sent some home with all the kids.

Speaking of family, isn't that what we're supposed to be in the church? Family? If it's true, then why don't we learn something from what we embrace in family life?

I'm reminded of those times when we got together with all Peg's family. Her dad died a week before she was born, and her mom remarried when Peg was 7 years old. Now, Peg's father had 4 brothers and 3 sisters; Peg's mom had 7 brothers and 1 sister, and her step-dad had 4 brothers and 2 sisters, so family functions had a LOT of people running around. I remember Christmas get-togethers at Peg's Uncle Theo's house. Theo was Peg's mom's brother, and a single man. We'd sit around and play Euchre (still my favorite card game) all afternoon and we'd swap tables and partners every hour or so. I remember thinking what a privilege it was to be part of that and to be shown respect.

NOW: there was every sort imaginable at those gatherings. Folks with alcohol problems, a school Principal, laborers, religious folks, non-religious folks, you name it. But we were there because we were family. The first few years I was the only wise-acre Big City Guy in the crowd, and I figure there were those who didn't have much respect for that. Can't blame them; I don't have much respect for what I was then, either. But I was Peggy Sue's husband, by gosh, and they treated me as though I were what I actually was.

Family.

Say, isn't that how the chur..... uuuhhh .... hmmmm ....naah ... I better not go there. We're supposed to hold our families up to the church for comparison, not the other way around.

Aren't we?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Unconventional Pete


In the world of trucks & tractor-trailers, a Peterbilt truck or tractor is known as a Pete. Now there are cabover models, called Cabover Petes, and the other types, known as Conventional Petes. Let me tell you about my Unconventional Pete.

One thing that makes it unconventional is that it's a 1989 Ford Pickup ... that's it, up there under the title. Another thing is how I came to have it.

My younger son, Brad, (hey world, he's FORTY-FOUR!!!) is married to a fine young lady named Connie. Connie's parents were divorced and her mom married a fine guy named Doug. He died a few years ago, of cancer. Connie's biological dad, Pete, was an alcoholic for decades, and work in the mines had left him disabled with lung impairment. He eventually ended up with nothing much to his name at all; he lost his house and his car.

One by one, he lost his available places to stay. When the last available family member (other than Brad & Connie) told him he'd have to leave, and when he had no place else to go, Brad and Connie told them to come to their place. They live in a 2-bedroom house and didn't have much room, and it's important that Brad has a place to work in his home, in addition to his office, so things got very crowded very quickly.

At the time, we had a travel trailer. Brad asked if he could borrow it for a few weeks while Pete tried to get on his feet. We said sure, and they set it up at Brad & Connie's .. they have 14 acres, wooded .. and Pete moved in. A few weeks later, Brad approached me and asked if he could buy it from us; Pete loved his little 21' abode and they wanted him to be able to stay there. I said sure, and we struck a deal. And, Pete stayed right there.

Now .. Pete lost his car, so Brad bought an old Ford Ranger for him to drive. It was hit by a truck and totaled, and the other insurance company paid Brad for it. Brad then bought the 1989 Ford in the picture. Pete drove it, until the sad day when Connie found him dead in the trailer. Since that time, it's been sitting at Brad's house; he cleaned it up and put a new clutch in it.

In a whole 'nuther episode of this Cleveland Family Soap Opera, Brad & Connie suddenly found themselves as Court-appointed custodian of 5-year old twins, children of one of Connie's cousins. Now, for folks in their early and mid 40's, the arrival of 5-year-old twins can be very upsetting to the budget. For one thing, they had a Corvette as their family car and it's tough to carry two adults and two car-seats in one of them. Another, they had to make the second bedroom in to the kiddies' bedroom, and adjust the food budget, and add a big item for day care. And the list goes on.

On yet another front, I'm going to retire right around the first of next year. I had a 2006 Honda, and Peg has a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee with under 15K miles on it .. so what do I need with 2 new cars. So I suggested to Peg that we sell the Honda, put the money away, and buy the truck from Brad & Connie.

That's just what we did. The original thought was I would turn around and sell it next year, as I also have a hot-rod S10 pickup truck I could used if we needed a second car. But here comes the rub:

When I look at the old Ford Pickup, I see the kindness and generosity of my son and his wife; the honoring of a father, even when he wasn't honorable in the world's eyes. I'll park that truck and keep it before I'll ever sell it; trust me. I couldn't take any amount for it, now.

So. Stop and think for a minute. How do you suppose God feels about you when you love someone who's unlovable ... when you show kindness to the unkind ... when you give that cup of cold water ... when you do something in God's earthly kingdom that He appreciates from the Heavenlies?

How do you suppose He feels about those checks that folks are sending to help Dr. Klouda in this hour of need? I bet He Xeroxes them and sticks them to His refrigerator.

A lady in our church, retired, had her car die and couldn't afford to buy one. Someone stepped up and donated a late-model sedan for her and she is just tickled pink. I bet that car is as precious to God as the Ferrari I've always wanted (but never gotten) would be to me. Or, better yet, than Unconventional Pete is, to me, here and now.

God loves you, friend, and I bet His heart is touched when you do something that shows Him you mean what you say when you say things like you "Love the Lord", etc. Get your hearts and minds around that thought, realize that you're at least as terrific as that crude, uneducated band of fishermen and tax collectors He left in charge of His ministry, and realize that God wants to do stuff through you that you never DREAMED He would do. This past week had proven that to me over and over.

SO. Got any Unconventional Petes around your place?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The supreme Supreme Court has the case...


No, not that one. I'm referring to the One Whose jurisdiction extends from everlasting to everlasting. The one with three Jurists on the panel, and Which has yet to ever hand down a split decision.

There were several arguments presented to The Court last week. I'll highlight each that I saw as particularly significant, along with my spin on each. In other words, I've seen folks making fools of themselves with their spin on this stuff, and now it's my turn, by golly (turn .. spin .. haha).

BF&M deal: I'm sure you've seen the statement from the Executive Committee report which was adopted by this convention. In case you've been out of touch, here it is:

"The Baptist Faith and Message is neither a creed, nor a complete statement of our faith, nor final and infallible; nevertheless, we further acknowledge that it is the only consensus statement of doctrinal beliefs approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and such is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention."

My understanding of the motivation behind this is that certain entities within the SBC have made theological positions which exceed the BF&M doctrines, to be litmus tests on whether one can teach at certain seminaries, become missionaries (IMB or NAMB), and perhaps certain other things. As I understand it, there's at least one seminary and maybe two, who won't let you teach there if you so much as believe that tongues is a valid gift today. Wade Burleson got into hot water over objecting to that sort of fundamentalist trend at the IMB BoT, and this adoption should at least send a signal to various entities that the Convention wants them to stick to the BF&M and not narrow down things beyond that.

***EDIT NOTE*** Wade Burleson posted a transcript of the debate on that motion; I'll simply delete my description of what I said .. the transcript is accurate ... and point you here for the full debate.

I will add one other thing: some folks are complaining that the motion was so vague and confusing that the folks didn't know what they were voting on. Gee ... wouldn't that apply to those voting against the motion, too?

What do I expect? Let's just say I don't even know how to pound sand, which seems to be what Drs. Mohler and Patterson indicated (that's my take, at least) we should go do. But the convention is now on record, and hopefully those who will carry on the attempt to negate the narrowing of what it means to be Baptist, will have a few more arrows with which to continue their efforts.

There was another significant resolution voted on by the convention. It was Tom Ascol's resolution calling on churches to clean up their church rolls and present an accurate picture of how many folks really belong to SBC churches. We declare 16 million members, but the truth is we have 6.2 million folks in church on Sunday, including infants and children too young to be members. And visitors, come to think of it.

That motion never even made it out of committee! Note that I do not buy their reasoning. When it was reported as declined by the Committee, Tom moved, from the floor, that the motion be brought to the Convention floor for vote, which would require a 2/3 majority vote to do. I spoke to that motion, covering the following points:

When Jesus was on earth, He stated that He didn't do His own work; He looked for what His Father was doing, and he joined in that work. When He left earth, He passed that work on to the church. In a very real sense, we are doing God's work here.

When we say we have 16 million members, we are misrepresenting who we are, and we are deceiving the hearers or readers of that number. And I envision NO CIRCUMSTANCES where Jesus would EVER misrepresent, or deceive, anything or anybody. Period. And I cannot IMAGINE God would ever be happy that we continue to do so. EVER.

I said I think this should be dealt with, by the Convention, and dealt with now.

Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, Assistant Dean for Theological Studies, Director of the Center for Theological Research, and Director of the Oxford Study Program, Associate professor of Systematic Theology at SWBTS, spoke against the motion. I think his reasoning was it didn't go far enough; that it didn't address regenerate membership, baptism, etc. Frankly, I was shocked. I think his objection was tantamount to a Sheriff finding a plan to stop a serial killer, but the mayor rejecting it because he doesn't make the killer promise to stop cheating on his income taxes, too.

Dr. Yarnell: you spoke against the motion to bring the resolution to the floor for discussion and a vote. I'm no parliamentarian, but if we'd voted positively, couldn't you then have moved to amend the motion and include the things you saw as important?

Bottom line: the convention heard that at least one person thinks that we are misrepresenting and deceiving and the convention, in effect, said either "Naaaah .. we're not", or "OK .. what's your point?"

As we were only voting on bringing the motion to the floor for an up or down vote, I didn't make all my arguments at that time. I thought the motion to bring forth the resolution would pass, frankly (so much for my opinion of my debating skills). So let me bore you with a few other points.

1) The system we have been operating under ... love'em back in, membership rolls are a good place for prospects, etc ... is what has brought us to where we are. Mostly missing in action. What ... are we striving for 22 million members and 8 million attendance, with 14 million missing?

2) If you tell me you're a member of Rotary, I know there's an overwhelming 90-100% chance you're there every week, and you're involved. But if you say you're a Baptist, I know there's a 64% chance you won't even be there this week. And you've probably got a good idea of what percentage of those who DO show up, are active participants and contributors. We have made church membership less meaningful, in its context, than membership in the Rotary Club.

3) We have many millions who signed a card at the front of an aisle and then went home, rarely ever to show up again. And they think they're OK! And you know why they think that? Because they ARE. At least we've told them that, and affirmed it by our actions.

4) We tell folks "Choose ye this day whom you will serve...". My question is ... "or WHAT?". We tell folks to consider how to encourage one another to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling together deal. Oh yeah? Or WHAT? Or NOTHING; our calls for that are toothless because we're going to let folks continue to be far more casual about God than about their jobs, doctor's appointments, airline schedules, etc. So let's tear Joshua 24:15 and Hebrew 10:24-25 out of our bibles, lest we be guilty of hypocrisy in addition to misrepresentation, deceit, and indifference.

We have a majority of our "members" whose faith does not take them to our churches, but we expect it WILL take them to heaven?

James seems to indicate otherwise. But it's OK with us.

I think it is a tribute to God's mercy that we still exist. The vote to even bring this motion out and vote for it failed.

Business as usual. Lie on, troops.

The other biggie, according to some, was First VP election. The candidates were Jim Richards, Executive Director of the SBTC. I don't know a lot of history, but apparently the SBTC was formed in protest to a rift between the BGCT and the SBC. I suppose, therefore, that Jim Richards would be seen as an SBC supported.

The other candidate was David Rogers, IMB Missionary and son of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers. He wasn't there; he was attending a daughter's High School Graduation in Spain, where they serve. Folks seemed to somehow think he was more an "outsider", and that the election was the establishment vs the BFM'ers. I don't really know about that but I do know Mac Brunson, formerly a Texas pastor, and "one of us", gave a super-duper stemwinder of a nomination speech for Jim Richards, whereas David Rogers' nomination speech was, to me, much less inspiring.

In fact, I cannot remember who nominated him, and don't want to go look it up so I can appear to remember.

On the way out, after that election, I walked over to where Wade Burleson was sitting and said "I'd say 70/30 for Richards". Wade looked disappointed and asked if I didn't think Rogers would win. I said Rogers isn't even here, Texas crowd, dynamite nomination speech, 70/30. I was a liar for 2%, apparently, as it was about 68/32 for Richards.

Some folks are saying that was bigger than the BFM vote. OK, they have to have something to say. But that vote pales in comparison with the Vote To Continue Misrepresentation and Deceit.

Yeah, we had a good time around the bloggers, hanging with our Pastor and Minister to Senior Adults, and Skip Parvin from Milan, TN. Sure, there were resolutions; some were "fluff" and some were things we needed to say. One of the more interesting was a resolution to ask graduates from our seminaries to lead "model lives" as pastors. Gee. I wonder what we expected them to do....

I'm sure I'll remember some other stuff to say, so I may add some stuff. But right now, Mr. Carpal Tunnel is recommending I stop. So here it comes.......

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OK .. some more. It was good to see all my Blogging friends. Despite the heat of many of the (shall we say) discussions here, everyone was really cordial and friendly. I'm on the other side of some issues from Tim Rogers, Wes Kenney, occasionally Les Puryear, Robin Foster, and some others. But what a great bunch of guys. I love them all. And it was wonderful spending some time with lots of others that I've spent time with before.

Dwight McKissic. What a fine, fine man. If he wasn't a lot younger than me, I'd ask him to adopt me.

Missionaries. One of the most uplifting things of the week happened one day at lunch. We were just finishing and two people walked up and one of them said thanks for writing my blog. They were European IMB missionaries, and referred to the blog as a "voice of reason". Gosh, what a kind thing to say, and encouraging thing to hear. It gave a lot of meaning to expressing opinions and standing up for things, to know that someone who had never ever commented on my blog, was reading and appreciating it. Thank you so much, to you folks for saying that. You'll never know how much I appreciated that.

The elephant in the room, for the convention as a whole, may have been the Lifeway report on the gift of tongues. For years, the establishment has told us that 95% of SBC pastors and laymen don't believe in that gift's validity, today. Actual facts, as unearthed by Lifeway, are startlingly different. And the spin about, and attacks on, the report, have been legion (hey I like that term for it .. teehee). But I didn't see much about that this year.

Interesting.

We stuck around a day and went on The Boat Ride, and also visited the Alamo. That was interesting in the sense that it's a Shrine, the signs say to be silent in it, and the folks inside sounded about like the average Deacon Meeting in terms of noise level.

I'm glad Ben Cole's Resolution about Gluttony didn't come to the floor. I'd have had to vote for it, and that would have cast a pall over Thursday's lunch of chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, and gravy at the Alamo Cafe.

One thing I know about this Highest Court of all, which differs from our earthly Supreme Court, is that it doesn't render Its verdict on anybody else's timetable. We don't show up on some steps some morning and hear pronouncements. They don't render opinions; when they decide a thing, they simply exact justice. And I do think we'll know their verdict shortly.

So it'll be interesting to see what happens this year. I'm no prophet, and neither was my father. But I have the feeling that something bad is going to happen within the SBC, specifically in response to the vote to continue misrepresentation and deceit. God may be merciful in that respect. Maybe. But maybe not.

If anything does happen, I hope somebody notices it, but we may be too successful to.

Which would be an answer in itself.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Yup ... I am OUTTA Here Again.....


Off to the SBC Annual Meeting in San Antonio. Looking forward to it bigtime (I guess it'd be tough to look BACK on it before I even go..).

My laptop gets to stay home this time. I'm not going to live blog about it. I've seen Art Rogers and Marty Duren play their laptops (they put me in mind of Yo Yo Ma with his cello, so well do they play), and there's no way I'm gonna try and compete with them. I'll just post my observations afterward.

Peg and I get a treat Sunday morning. We'll be worshiping at Community Bible Church in San Antonio. Ray Jones is the Worship Leader there; Ray's led revival services at our church on several occasions and it'll be good to see him and Andrea again. I don't know if CBC is an SBC church but I figure it's easier to get forgiveness, than permission, from the SBC attendance cops.

More, I think, than ever before, I'm comfortable being out a week from my SS class. I've got fine young men who can step up and teach for me. In fact, I enjoy hearing them teach, myself.

This is a little bit of a stretch, but if anybody reads this and then goes to the convention in San Antonio, how about stopping by the WMU Booth in the display area, and shaking hands with Brett McArdle. He's on staff there, reads the blogs, and would enjoy meeting you.

If you're in San Antonio, and I haven't met you, let's shake hands. Just look for the you-know-what-color hat.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tomorrow Arrives; Substance X Departs

When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was "Tales of Tomorrow", on for 2 or 3 years in the early 1950's. Watched on our black & white 12" Dumont TV with FM and Aircraft Radio bands between channels 6 and 7 on the analog tuner.

The show itself was an anthology, in which the cast was the same most of the time, but they had a different part and setting each week. There were a lot of anthologies on, back then.

I remember the details of exactly one episode, entitled simply "Substance X". It was an interesting concept, that episode. It seems a man from a small town in Wisconsin (as I recall) had left to become a scientist, and returned home with a revolutionary new food. It looked like a brick of Velveeta, and you'd pinch off a bit of it and eat it. It tasted exactly like whatever you wanted it to.

Think of a big juicy steak, chomp on some of Substance X, and you'd taste the world's best steak.

Envision eating some strawberry shortcake (like I did with son Brad & daughter-in-law Connie at their home this evening) and bingo ... you'd taste strawberry shortcake.

The scientist moved into a small house and gave this stuff out to anybody who came and asked. Shortly, the entire town was dining on Substance X every meal. That continued until one young lady got tired of that and grabbed an apple or some such, and tried to eat it.

It tasted terrible. She could not even swallow it, it was so foul-tasting. She then tried every other food she could find, with the same results.

She started asking other folks to try some normal food and they all said the same thing. Everyone, without exception, said normal food ... ALL of it ... now tasted so bad they could not eat it. None. Never. Nada. What had started as a seemingly benevolent experiment had turned into an unbreakable addiction. The show ended in a poignant scene where the young lady, broken, showed up at the good doctor's door and said "I'm hungry".

From where I sit, something akin to that has been happening in the SBC. The organization, formed to serve the local churches, has quietly assumed the role of exclusive chef for however many churches and members the SBC actually has. That was easy to do, as we welcomed those guys several hundred miles to write SS material, tell us what we believed (can you say 95% deny tongues?), who ought to lead us, who ought to qualify for what, etc etc ad nauseum.

WELL. Tomorrow seems to have arrived. It's today, now, and folks are losing their taste for spiritual Substance X. We no longer have to see the good doctor to find good food. Truth be known, we never really did have to, but we did it anyway. Owing to the internet, and some vocal people, and a new generation of young'uns whose hearts are not wedded to the SBC, the good doctor has been challenged.

Case in point: The Lifeway Study. I have no doubt that the survey is a lot closer to the truth than the oft-quoted 95%, and the survey results reflect about what I'd expect them to. But I mostly just talk to ordinary folks out here, so I'm not privy to what the good doctor might know. I guess.

I wonder how many cases there are like the one I experienced. I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Alabama Baptist, stating what I thought about the then-new IMB rules/prohibitions/guidelines re: PPL's (a term with which I still disagree, but that's another story that nobody want to hear) and missionary candidates. The AB published it, and I got a call from a local pastor. It seems his wife has a PPL, and the IMB's pronouncement had made her feel disenfranchised. He called me to thank me for writing that letter; he said it had really helped his wife.

And I wonder how many stories like that will never be told, or how many folks there are out there, who feel the same way. Maybe the problem isn't that we don't hear enough from the ivory towers; perhaps it is that the ivory towers don't hear enough from the grass roots. Or don't want to. Or both.

I commented on Wade Burleson's blog, that "Pleasing everybody pleases nobody". Until we find a way to change that human tendency, we'll always have one camp that thinks tongues is ok, and one that doesn't. And that's going to spell two teams, or I'm a monkey's uncle.

I have to go now. Time to toss a banana to my nephew in his tree.