Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: February 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

... and so I built this CAR.........

I was sitting around watching TV one evening and saw this commercial for the Classic 500 Roadster. It was the most beautiful car I'd ever seen, so I ordered a brochure from the 800 number.

When it came, I got it from the mailbox and looked it over, unbeknown to Peg. But one evening I was sitting looking at it (lusting after it might be a more apt term) and Peg walked in and asked what it was. I said something like "Oh ... I got this brochure about building this car, but I don't think I'll ever be able to do that....". She said:

"You're not getting any younger. Just sell something to pay for it."

So I ran an ad in the paper the next day, sold my Taurus SHO, and went to Miami and bought the kit to build the car. There follow a few pictures of my stint as a car builder.

First I had to buy a Camaro, to use as a donor car. The Kit called for the front stub-frame, engine & transmission, driveshaft (shortened), rear end assembly, steering gear, wiring harness, and instrument panel. So I found one:

After I'd gotten all the stuff taken off, I called a salvage yard to come and get the hulk that remained. Then I cleaned and painted the front frame and rear axles and laid them out to install the main frame that Classic sold me:

Then I plugged the front frame into the new rear section, put on the rear axle assembly, and bolted in the motor:

Not having anything else to do, I then started hanging body panels on the rolling chassis, using a combination of bolts, nuts, screws, and glue (no .. really .. Industrial-Strength adhesive):

After I got all the fiberglass glued on, just before cutting out and installing all the plastic interior pieces and carpet, I upholstered the Dodge Dart seat pieces they sent me, and put the finished seat in:

Then, since the company had gone bankrupt before they sent me all the pieces, I had a grille shell fabricated from stainless steel, rounded up some Kenworth headlights, VW turn signals, braided toilet supply lines to run the wires in, some aircraft landing lights for the cowl (I could read a newspaper at 100 yards....), Radio Shack CB antenna ball-mounts, and truck accessory taillights, and ... some weeks later ..... VOILA!.........

It was, as you can see, drop-dead gorgeous. And as it happened, the Camaro I bought had just had a rebuilt z28 motor put in it, so the Roadster ran shall we say smartly.

It was fun to build, and I drove it a lot in parades, etc. What really cranked my tractor was sitting at a stoplight, next to some kid in Daddy's Mustang, with the kids girlfriend hanging out the window eyeballing this old man's car.

Probably the most interesting change I made to it was after 6 or 7 years ... the last 19 months of which I'd driven it 89 miles. I sent a few email messages, swapped a few photos with Carl Cooper ... Helicopter Pilot for the Graham County NC Sheriff's Department .. and after a quick one-day trip to Tennessee, the car now looked like this:

Yeah .. I 'd never had a boat, and when Carl sent me a picture of his, we worked out a trade. I'd sent a picture of the car to 3 different ads in the Boat Trader, who had boats for sale for about what I had in the Roadster. Carl sent a pic of the boat .. a 1979 Ranger Excalibur .. and said he'd like to swap.

We did.

ps: After several happy years of boat ownership, I sold it to my older son, Brian. He still has it, and uses it when our church group .. informally known as the River Rats ... goes camping; our church kids have probably ridden as many miles being towed by it, as they've spent sleeping on the church bus.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Would He Tell Us That?

Jesus said a lot of interesting things. Consider......

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.(John 17:17-23, NIV)

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV)

I think it's safe to say that Jesus placed a lot of emphasis on unity. And it looks like they had a lot of it, then. Sure, Judas Iscariot was lurking about for his twisted part, but the guys seemed to pretty well rally around Jesus. And He was really about all they had.

They weren't terribly popular in the synagogues; Jesus' gospel was at odds with the Pharisees. And the Pharisees had the theology thing down pat; at least what had been passed down to them. They were even unified, apparently, in what they were about. But Jesus didn't point to them as stunning examples of unity.

I'm thinking He had in mind the sort of unity that rises up in people whose prime focus is on Jesus. And that thought has driven some of the comments I've tossed around lately in Blogdom, which were generally met with either yawns, or scorn, or some sort of objection. Well, I don't care about that.

But I do think we're missing something.

Jesus' admonitions to be one .. to be united .. seem to have come in preparation for leaving .. to prepare His disciples to carry on without His physical presence. And the preparing seems to extend through the ages, to us (I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one...) So I'm thinking Jesus knew that we needed to be one, to be united around Him, even now, and He apparently knew it would not be "natural" for us to do that!

It's almost as if we don't WANT TO BE ONE! Or if we ARE going to do it, Buster, you'd better do it MY WAY.

But He told us to be united, anyway!

There seem to be earnest, serious, qualified scholars on both sides of most controversies. Do you suppose Jesus knew that would be the case? Yet He told us the issue was unity!

I believe the variety of Christian denominations was sanctioned by God to cast as wide a net as possible to give every variety of mankind the chance to come to faith in Jesus. I think that's because there are so many different sorts of people ... people who, in the natural, would be interested in this or that sort of music, worship, prayer, study, fellowship, etc. And we've got enough forms of church to appeal to'em all.

I think Jesus knew how people would be. And He prayed for our unity!

I think He knew that serious scholars would rise up to teach Open Communion, Closed Communion, Semi-Open Communion, and every other kind there might be. Do you suppose Jesus knew that, too? I think He did. But He said let us be one, as He and His father were one!

I think He knew that some serious scholars would see the five points of Calvinism as Biblical, and that others would not. Do you suppose He knew that? Yet He prayed for us to be one.

Do you supposed Jesus' prayer for us to be united as one, in Him, were contingent on the perfection of our recognition of the entire Bible? No, I seriously doubt He'd rely on our intelligence, particularly since His favorite faith seems to have been that of children.

Do you supposed He knew how people would get when they differ with others in this point or that point of their faith? I'm betting He did. Yet He prayed we would be one!

I'm betting it's possible for us to be united in oneness, just as He prayed, despite our differences in personal views on all this stuff we're arguing about. If we want to.

I think that's the rub.

I keep going back to the time He was walking around. Those fishermen weren't Greek Scholars, I don't think, but He told them they needed unity. So, I'm thinking again, that the unity was simply focused on Him.

And, against a backdrop of thousands of learned scholars today, who hold to different views on this or that point of doctrine (and you know I'm not talking about the essentials of salvation here... so don't bring THAT up...), who see many points of scripture in a different light, He tells us 2,000 years later, to have unity. He prayed that we'd be one. And we do the kind of bloodletting I've seen here and there, lately.

How disappointed in us, He must be. And the tragic part is that it must be doable, or He wouldn't have said what He did!

One really, really sad aspect of this is that, in the microcosm, we see so much of that sort of unity. Our church has had, occasionally, joint services with Kingwood Assembly of God. And they are such sweet and uplifting times, too! I've also been, as I've said before, a worshiper in everything from Anglican Cathedrals in London and Oakington, England, to Pentecostal Union Churches in Pskov, Russia and Bauska & Riga, Latvia; to Baptist Churches from the Caribbean to Germany. And in each case, there was sweet fellowship. And unity.

Then there's Mike Shaw, my pastor, and I, who differ on Calvinism. We get along extremely well, primarily because, in his own words "When I look at you, I don't see a Calvinist. I see a brother in Christ".

I wish that brotherhood spilled over into all areas of our lives.

Like blogging.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: LOST AND FOUND ... Riflebore Study; Shotgun Results

The Book: Lost and Found; The Younger Unchurched And The Churches That Reach Them.

Ed Stetzer, with Richie Stanley and Jason Hayes.

Publisher: B&H Publishing Group.

What it's about: Lifeway did extensive research into those young people .. generally 18-29 years old .. who were unchurched. That includes both (A) those who'd never regularly been in church, referred to as unchurched and (B) those who'd previously had some church connection, at some time, referred to dechurched.

Occasionally, data from similar people over 30 are thrown into the mix, to draw contrasts and/or conclusions as respects the factors being analyzed.

The last half of the book is a narrative display, revealing what many churches around the country (churches which have found success in reaching those young people) are doing to reach the subjects of the Lifeway research. And I might add that the information, the churches, the problems and the solutions were unrelated to the Southern Baptist Church, other than the occasional reference to compare and/or contrast the needs of the research subjects, to common SBC practice.

The problems and the opportunities are universal, not denominational.

As to the book, as reading material, it is fascinating. I've met Ed Stetzer several times, and had the opportunity to sit in the lower level lounge of one of the Ridgecrest Dorm buildings a year or so ago, and chat for an hour or two, along with several other pastors. I respect Ed immensely (he remembers my name when we meet, among other things), and it helps to read the book "in his voice". Hey .. I like the way he speaks.

I do not know Richie Stanley, who is with NAMB in Alpharetta, GA, nor do I know Jason Hayes, who's with Lifeway. But the way the book comes together, the way the information has been melded together, it's an easy read, and hard to put down.

Let me be honest ... yes it was easy to put down, in one sense. There were so many "wow moments" in it that I had to stop every few pages and ponder what I'd read.

I will not be analyzing the data and showing you a roster of things the book concludes churches need to do, to reach the younger unchurched people. There's simply too much revealed in Lost And Found to do that, without writing another book. But I can reveal a few highlights:

The young people surveyed..
  • desire to connect with others, be involved in community, and be involved in a cause greater than themselves.
  • enjoy, and profit from, interacting with other generations.
  • desire relationships with others, including those involving the spiritual aspect of life.
  • see churches as being full of hypocrites.
  • are willing to talk about Spiritual things, but not to "the church"
The churches which are reaching this group of young adults are the ones who have realized those things, and have adopted models different from the usual "Come Be Like Us And Do It Our Way" outreach programs which seem too common in the churches with which I am familiar.

Since the book deals with a "rifle-bore" group, a very specific one, who do I think ought to read Lost And Found? That's easy.


Well, not quite. Here are the folks for whom I think this book would be a spiritually-profitable read:

  • Pastors. You have you hand on the pulse, and the tiller, of your church.
  • Those involved in outreach. If you're going to talk to them, you need to know what they're about.
  • Teachers. Of all ages. I mean it. ALL ages.
  • Church staff. If one of the subject group stumbles into your church, you need to know what not to say.
  • Anyone else who is active and involved in the work of the church.

Let me cite two examples of conclusions I reached while reading the book .. you know, those "wow moments" .. that might demonstrate why I think Lost And Found has wide applicability in the church:

FIRST: One of the sets of data set forth is the subject group's beliefs about God. That He exists, that there's only one of Him, and that His existence does or would impact how we live our lives. The "wow moment" here came with the revelation that us white Americans were substantially less likely to believe those things than Hispanics, or Afro-Americans. The difference was startling!

Why is this significant to a teacher of 40-somethings, or of Middle Schoolers? Simple. We've all said for years that prosperity and materialism can come between us and God. But I've never seen anything to back that up. Never.

This does. Since I don't believe differences in faith, of that sort, are in any way racial, the only other factor to which I can attribute it is Socio-Economic. Particularly where the African-American group is concerned.

Like I said, a "wow moment". I'll have teeth in my teaching, when the subject of materialism next arises.

SECOND:The dechurched young people had a much stronger identity with a denomination than did the unchurched. It might only be the "church they weren't going to", but that denomination did represent something in their mind .. good or bad. And that got me to thinking:

When we have Vacation Bible School, we always announce, afterwards, how many "decisions" were made. I applaud decisions, but the part we may lose sight of is the effect of the exposure, of those children, to spiritual things in the church, during VBS. The higher level of identifying with a denomination, among those young people with prior church experience, tells me that something stuck with them. Something positive, or they wouldn't express that positive identification.

So .. the greater benefit to VBS may be the seeds which are planted, and the identification with that church, with that denomination, which sticks with those children, clear into their twenties.

One other thing of note is that, woven all through the book, is the "Lost and Found Story", a story about four young people, one a Christian; the Story presents the attitudes and the types represented in the study. It puts "mental flesh" to varying characteristics and positions of the Young people included in the study. "The Story" is immensely helpful in adding reality to what might have become tedious recitation of statistics (which, due in no small part to "The Story", this book never did).

There's more. There's a lot more. But I'll leave it at this: my wife said a long time ago, that we should read the Bible until God stops us. One verse, one page, one chapter; when we run into something God wants us to ponder, then stop and ponder. That happened to me literally hundreds of times in Lost And Found. I finished the book much the better for having read .. make that studied .. it.

You will, too.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Is The Curtain Rising?

It's an exciting time when the curtain starts rising in the theater. You know the show's about to start, the plot's about to be revealed, and you're going to be transported into another kind of reality for a while. Well, I get that impression these days, with reference to the Southern Baptist Convention, and particular reference to the Baptist Faith and Message (2000). Especially when I compare it to the 1963 version.

I smell a plot. An agenda. An objective. And not just to solve problems, either. And I can't wait for the plot to unfold all the way. I have a feeling it won't be long.

Let's start with a basic premise: that the fundamental Baptist Distinctive is the competency of the soul in religious matters. The Priesthood of the Believer. That's what's always been told to me, and that's also what Herschel Hobbs said in his book, "The Baptist Faith And Message". That hints at a kind of relationship to God, Priesthood, which would seem to refer back to the time when the Temple had priests, and the only intermediary between the Priest and God, was the High Priest. Well, in the Christian church, we have only one High Priest, and that's Jesus, Who wants a personal relationship with us. With you. With me.

When He mentioned that some folks who said "Lord, Lord" weren't going to see heaven, His rebuttal to their self-proclamations of worthy works was "I never knew you". Thus, I think it's important that we know Jesus, and that He know us. And, since He seems to want that, I don't want to settle for any less of knowing Him, than the maximum available.

There's an old axiom that "the minimum requirement often becomes the maximum obligation". I don't think that's supposed to apply to being a Christian, and I really feel the obligations of Christianity are more privileges than obligations, anyway.

Let's pile on another premise: Somewhere, sometime, someone wants to diminish local church autonomy, and priesthood of the believer, and move toward "top-down denominationalism". Authority figures. Directives. Requirements. Stuff like you see in other denominations, including those who determine which preacher will pastor which church. And if you want to become like them, the first thing you'd have to demolish is the Priesthood of the Believer. See, Priesthood of the Believer mandates, to me, autonomy of the local church! Autonomy in pastoral selection. Autonomy in local church polity, and in local church governance.

My dad always told me when I looked at a puzzling situation, to examine the facts, look at the possible explanations, and then pick the one that made the most sense. So, let's do that.

FIRST CHANGE: there was a subtle difference in the BFM2000, over the 1963 version. The first blatant one was in the Preamble; the 1963 version contains a statement that " ... Baptists bodies, both large and small, have issued statements which comprise a consensus of their beliefs." The 2000 version deleted that and included a new sentence "Baptist churches, associations, and general bodies have adopted confessions of faith as a witness to the world, and as instruments of doctrinal accountability."

WOW. I didn't see anything like that in the 1963 version, nor in the 1925. Doctrinal accountability? By whom. To whom?

It doesn't say. But I suspect that, if you check with First Baptist Church of Decatur (GA) and their pastor Julie Pennington-Russell, she might have an illustration.

NEXT CHANGE: 1963 Version says "Therefore, the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ, Whose will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures". The 2000 version said, referring back to the 1963 version and certain doctrines determined by that committee, "Our living faith is established on eternal truths."

WOW again. The foundation of my faith is no longer to be the Living Lord Jesus Christ (with Whom I need a personal relationship, remember?), but rather some "eternal truths." This one scares me, since if I have an authentic relationship with Jesus, the Living Man (and God), then your words cannot change it. If my faith is based on "truths", then you can slip in some new words and make some new truth; I'm sure some will go along with it and thus change their faith. And, let me hasten to add, my personal relationship is with the Man, the Savior, and is in line with what the Bible says.

ONE SMALL, BUT OBVIOUS CHANGE: The 1963 version said (referring to statements of faith) that "Such statements have never been regarded as complete, infallible statements of faith, nor as official creeds carrying mandatory authority". That statement was deleted from the BF&M 2000!

WOW! WOW! Why would that statement be deleted, other than as a part of a long-term plan to change the nature and the purpose of the document?

Which would, coincidentally, change the nature of the SBC, and the purpose of the hierarchical structure set up to (up until now, anyway) assist the local church in the carrying out of the Great Commission.

YET ANOTHER CHANGE: This one's a little subtle, but I think it's cute anyway. The 1963 version states the Bible is "The record of God's revelation of Himself to man". The 2000 version says the Bible " God's revelation of Himself to man".

This is important, to me, because God revealed Himself to man in His actions ... in what He did ... in the birth of Jesus ... in Jesus' substitutionary death on the cross His disappearance from the tomb ... in His interaction with mankind on earth. The new version shifts the revelation to the words of the book, which I realize do reveal God and do reveal Jesus and do reveal the Holy Ghost. But, linking to the words rather than the deeds removes all hint of personal interaction of God ... of Jesus ... with you and I today.

Frankly, that's happened to me too many times, for me to accept any sort of hiding of God's desire to reveal Himself to man, today.

To you. To me.

AND FOR A REALLY BIG CHANGE: The Preamble of the 1963 version states "Baptists emphasize the soul's competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer". The 2000 version amends that to "We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the word of God.".

First, there seems a "de-personalizing" of "the soul's competency before God", to "the principle(s) of soul competency...". Second, the obvious change from "the priesthood of the believer", to "the principle(s) of ... the priesthood of believers". Is the desire to move the priesthood to the church .. the ekklesia .. rather than you as a believer? Or me? If not, why the change?

ONE FINAL CHANGE: The Baptist Faith and Message 1963 said "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ". The 2000 version deletes that sentence and states "All scripture is a testimony to Christ, Who is Himself the focus of divine revelation". That's a big difference. It hints at a system of belief in which you and I can't go to Jesus for guidance, explicitly not for the interpretation of scripture, and presumably not for other matters, either.

SO, WHERE AM I GOING? Simple. Every one of these changes seems to de-emphasize a personal relationship with Jesus; both the availability, and the importance, thereof. Ironically, that's the one thing Jesus, Himself, said we must have to see heaven.

I don't know what all to make of this, but I do know one thing: IF I'm right, and the curtain is going up (as I surmised above) ... in the exposure of what seems to be going on ... then the curtain is surely descending on the Southern Baptist Convention.

Monday, February 02, 2009

I'm About To......

Cut back on my usage of that chair over there, that is. It's been my primary abode since my radiation treatments, and I've not felt very (A) energetic, (B) creative, or (C) ambitious.

But I have gotten to riding my stationary bike every day, and my energy is getting better. And I'm feeling a bit more disposed to write some stuff now, so expect something in a couple days.

I'm also feeling a bit less rational, so, given the brouhaha at Rev. Burleson's place, I think I'll do my next post about The Baptist Faith and Message. And all the little clues that seem to be scattered about its revision, which lend some credibility (in my twisted mind, at least) to the thought that somebody had an agenda when this thing was last revised.

Stay tuned. I can't wait to see what I'm going to write.

ps: If those final pesky radiation side effects don't go away soon, my principal place of rest may change from a La-Z-Boy recliner, tan, to a certain porcelain structure, white.