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

Monday, June 29, 2009

When the Bottom Line Really IS the Bottom Line

There are a number of things about which I'd like to write, concerning the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting, just completed in Louisville. But I'd like to say something about something else, first.

Sort of.

As has been opined elsewhere, some of the SBC entity heads would like to see (apparently) contributions made directly to their institutions, by SBC churches, count as money given to the Cooperative Program. There are arguments on more sides of that, I suppose, than there are sides. But it seems to me the bottom line of this is the churches' responsibility in the handling of God's money.

When someone give tithes or offerings to the local church, that's immediately GOD'S money. The local church then has the responsibility to spend it as God directs. NOBODY up the line can tell them how and what they ought to spend it on.

The value of the entire rest of the SBC structure, above the local church, must be included in the church's consideration, of course, and that manifests itself in their CP giving. And that really DOES have to go to the state, as THEY are the next-most-direct contributor to the local carrying-out of the great commission (the local association is something they're already DOING, themselves).

Ditto for the State ... they have to determine what's most pressing in THEIR helping the CHURCH carry on their work. And likewise, the value of the national stuff is part of their consideration, and they pass on, upstream, funds reflecting that.

Now if the national entities think they are not getting as much money in the deal as they ought, they need to ask GOD why not. I'm a firm believer that God is still their source of supply, and when they gripe at states or churches, it's because GOD is not sending them as much as they THINK they need.

Bottom line: if the Great Commission Task Force (GCTF) has anything to do with re-structuring the SBC to alleviate what Nashville sees as an inequitable distribution of income, they're missing the mark. If it's really about seeing whether the SBC .. in what IT has to do to help the churches fulfill the Great Commission .. is being good stewards of the money that's passed to them via the CP, then fine.

I enjoyed SBC 2009, albeit my mobility was impaired by arthritis causing substantial pain in my right knee and ankle. I spent too much time in the hotel, with my right leg laid up, that I'd have rather spent out & about at the Convention Hall. Since I was determined to make it to all the business sessions, my fun time was rather limited.

Having said that, several other things were quite interesting to me. First, I went to Tuesday's B21 Panel Discussion/Lunch, featuring Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Ed Stetzer, David Platt, Mark Dever, and the pastor of Sojourn Church, Daniel Montgomery. Interestingly, Sojourn seems to be Elder-led, and it doesn't have "Baptist" in its name. Hmmm...

Al Mohler said some terrific things; the one I liked most was that we should make the CP earn every dollar we send them. I liked that. But one thing he said disturbed me quite a bit .. he said that young folks (at the B21 Meeting) should get involved, go the convention, line up at the microphones and speak in favor of his motion (which seemed blatantly political), since he said it would be "thrown under the SBC bus pretty quick". I didn't see that when the motion was discussed, and I didn't hear anyone speak against it whom I'd want testifying on my behalf in any courtroom anywhere. That surprised me a bit.

Guess it shouldn't have, though.

I was in the Business Session Tuesday morning when Morris Chapman seemed to blame the SBC woes on Calvinists. I didn't pay any attention to that, since I learned long ago to NEVER pay any attention to what Baptists say about Calvinists. Surprisingly intelligent Baptists seem to say some pretty dunb things about Calvinism, after all. But ... when Danny Akin apologized for the shameful things that had been said .. and I seem to recall him using both those words ... well, let's just say it was the only note I took at the panel discussion that was in ALL CAPS.

Another thing I found interesting was that, in the election for Vice-President, there were two candidates (there being only one each for President and 2nd VP). As of the election time, per my notes, there were 8,790 registered messengers, and only 1,620 votes were cast. That may well tell why the SBC is in trouble. Most messengers seem to pick and choose what they think is important.

Another thing I probably oughtn't be surprised about.

Also interesting: Alabama's Baptist State Convention gave the 2nd-highest amount to the Cooperative Program, of any state association, in 2008, yet we don't have any representation on the GCTF. But, including Johnny Hunt, there are 6 from Florida. Add that to the fact that Alabama seems to get it pretty much right as state conventions go .. and that Rick Lance didn't sign the GCRD .. and something of a picture emerges. That surprises and disappoints me.

Guess that shouldn't, either.

Oh .. one other thing. I picked up a little handout concerning the missions and the IMB, while I was there. Inside the front cover is a picture of Jerry Rankin, IMB President, with the following quotation:

"It is not the responsibility of the International Mission Board to do missions on behalf of Southern Baptists ... The role of the IMB is to serve, enable and facilitate all Southern Baptists to be obedient to God's kingdom purpose, and fulfill the Great Commission."

Amen to that, certainly, but I immediately wondered why he felt it necessary to say it there. They way I figure, either it's a new principle for him and the IMB (which I don't believe ..), or it's because the churches likely think the IMB really IS supposed to "... do missions on behalf of all Southern Baptists." And, if that's true, the evidence would be that we've been acting like that.

Either way: yup, we need a fresh take on the Great Commission.

Bottom line: all in all, this year is about like the Saturday after the Crucifixion. Sunday morning's coming up (in Orlando) and it's all on the line. I believe the answer, perhaps the most important in my memory as pertains to the SBC, will be obvious from the first pronouncement of the GCTF.

I plan on being there.

I enjoyed the meeting. The fellowship and iron-sharpening of the drive up with CB was terrific (47.5 mpg, by the way), it was good to see a number of myfriends again, and it was neat having Ed Stetzer autograph my right palm.

Alas, the last of the Sharpie mark is about gone.....

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Most Liberating Thought I Know

Obey God, and trust Him with the results.

The Convention was interesting, partially because I saw evidence of people, primarily highly-placed people, acting to manipulate the results. Well, as I mentioned to a friend in an email yesterday, the preparation is done, timed-bake is on, and something's going to pop out of the oven in 12 months. The results of that will tell whether the perceived manipulation was "successful".

In my brief encounter with All Things SBC, Annual Meeting Version, I've simply done what I thought God wanted me to do. That entailed, two of four years, speaking to the convention. Not, however, this year or last. And that's fine with me. If God had wanted me to say or do something, I would've (he said confidently, recalling 2006, 2007, and the fact that His saving grace isn't the only thing He does that's irresistible).

If we really believe God is sovereign, and that He wants to use us, and that He is in control of things down here, then why would we worry about results? I know it's natural to want to see this person saved, that person kick drugs, the church over there to be blessed and grow, some person or another elected, but as He's pointed out, we don't even know what to pray for! So, why would we trust what we want? Why wouldn't we trust whatever God wants to do? Why wouldn't we want to simply do what He says, and leave the outcome all up to Him?

Some of the neatest things He's ever done in my life followed my refusal to do anything to make something happen. And, I have the same feeling now, as I did then, with reference with what God is about to do in, for, and perhaps to the Southern Baptist Convention.

And BLESSING may not be included.

Stay tuned. I'm ready for Orlando.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Listen Up, Young'uns.......

I don't do this, much, but I've been poking around in my old photos ... I have about 20,000 of them on my computer ... and I happened across some stuff I wanted to write about. Also, it just occurred to me this is Fathers' Day Weekend, and since I'm the biggest daddy's boy there's ever been, this seems a good time.

First, that's Dad and Mom in the photo up there. The picture is something over 40 years old, but it's pretty much how I remember them.

The first episode I want to pass along to you young'uns is something that happened many years later, when our older son walked down the aisle to get his High School Diploma;. He'd gotten his certificate of completion in February that year, so he could start work March 1 (1979) with the Pelham Fire Department. And, by the way, he's still there.

What I recall so vividly is the pride that I felt about him. Sure, I know that raising children is mostly praying that they'll turn out all right anyway, and that God was behind how he turned out, but knowing he was already driving a fire truck made me want to pop some buttons.

Now... in the midst of that, I was brought up short by the fact that I'd probably made my Mom and Dad feel just as good in June, 1956. And THAT was incredibly gratifying .. that my folks had been happy with me.

The same thing was repeated three years later when our younger son Brad graduated.

Mark it down .. when your kids do something that does you proud, you're going to feel incredibly grateful that you just might have made your mom and dad feel pretty good, too.

Aside from making them happy they hadn't sent me back when I was born, one other thing I did, that I'm most grateful that I did, was to have a chat with them when they were retired, living in a Condominium in Clearwater, Florida. It was early 1983, and I was there on business. The thought had occurred to me that, should one of them die, it was unlikely that the survivor would want to stay there in Florida, so I asked them that. What would they do were they to lose their spouse?

Both said they wouldn't want to stay there; they'd want to be near family. Hmmmm ... that was either my brother on Long Island, or us here in Pelham. They both said they'd want to live here, rather than New York. SO .. I challenged them to think about making that move right away, so that when one of them lost their spouse, they wouldn't simultaneously lose their home, their church, and their friends.

A week later they called and said they'd put the condo on the market, and would be here in two days to find an apartment. And they did; they found an brand new, ideal place about 5 minutes away, and lived with us for a few months while the apartment was being finished.

It turned out to have been a good thing for them to do. When Dad had a stroke, I was able to be there, and when he passed away 10 days later, Mom couldn't bear to be in their apartment again. So she lived with us for about 8 years, until she needed constant attention, at which point she moved to an assisted living center nearby. And, she felt right at home here and still had her friends and her Sunday School Class, and her pastor.

She died something over a year later, of an abdominal aneurysm; the last thing she said was .. in response to the nurse telling her that Peg and I were on our way .. was "Oh, good".

Mark it down .. honoring your Mother and Father pays dividends that will last the rest of your life.

I also stumbled across a couple of church bulletins and programs. One is dated 1/8/84, and announces that Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Cleveland are the newest members of FBC Pelham. Another is from a Cantata we did in the mid-80's; on it, in Dad's handwriting, is "Bob's the only one who does not use music".

Now I am not at all saying that's an admirable thing to do. It was just easier for me to remember the music so I didn't have to hold the book up for an hour. I mean, I had a sore tendon in my elbow and I had good reason (pain) to play the music in my car until I remembered it. But the point is, Dad apparently felt pretty good about his youngest kid, and that's more gratifying than I could ever possibly describe.

While Mom lived with us, she presented the sorts of problems that one can expect as they age. I'm thankful for a wife who was extremely understanding, and saw one of her duties to God, as being that of helping her husband ... me ... honor his Mother. So when the little spats arose, she always understood. And, thankfully, I was able to communicate to Mom that what she did or said to Peg, she did or said to me, too. Something about the two becoming one flesh.

I spent a lot of time thinking about a couple things. One was that, as she aged, she had more and more problems driving. Running into things, and other related misadventures. So we talked about that quite a bit, in a casual let's-think-this-over sort of way. Ditto for her needs for care and attention, too (Dad had always said that neither one of them EVER wanted to go to a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Center).

Those conversations paid off twice, in a big way. First, I was sitting in her bedroom chatting .. she lived with us at the time .. and she said she was really nervous about driving again (this happened after a few weeks recovering from a broken hip). I told her there really wasn't any good reason for her to drive again, as Peg and I both had jobs that were flexible, and we'd be happy to knock off anytime and take her wherever she wanted to go. She brightened up immediately and said she probably shouldn't drive again, and I said I thought she'd made a wise decision.

She then said "If I give you my driver's license, will you cut it up for me?". I said yes; she did, and I did. She mentioned several times later that she was so happy she'd done that.

Then there was the day that she said "I've come to the conclusion that I need more care than you and Peg can really give". I said again, I agreed with her conclusion, whereupon she said "I don't want to go to a nursing home or an assisted living place". Well, I'd providentially heard of a brand new ALC being built a couple miles away, so I called the lady who was building it and mentioned Mom to her. She .. Becky .. stopped by the next Saturday and had a nice chat with Mom, who then enthustiasically wanted to live at Maplewood Lane, Becky's newly opened center. And she lived there about a year before a series of events that landed her in a Nursing Home .. one she liked .. where she eventually died a bit over a year later.

Now I'm surely no hero. I didn't do anything but what I thought was best for my Mother and Father, in accordance with the light God shone this way. But in recounting the aforementioned things, I've reminded myself anew that:

  1. God tells us to honor our Mother and Father, and He means it.
  2. When He tells us something like that, He also enables us to do it.
  3. Honoring your Mother and Father seems to bring blessings beyond just the long life promised in "commandment #5".
  4. Use your head, be mindful of your parents, do all in your power to honor them, and some day .. like me .. you'll be darn glad you did.

And oh ... Dad ... if you're aware what's happening down here ... and the parable of Lazarus and the rich man may at least hint at that ....

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Old House and a Ruined Life

Two completely different ideas have collided in my brain and I want to write about them.

First, the house: this is a little duplex located at 1920 Minnesota Street, at the corner of Villa Avenue, in Indianapolis, Indiana. My maternal Grandmother and Grandfather lived in the left half of that house when it was first built. I was really young at the time, but I think it was the middle-late 1940's. My Aunt Marcella and her husband had them move to that house, as it was just two blocks South of their house, up at the corner of Villa and Pleasant Run Parkway.

It was built in the "shotgun" style, with the living room in front, the kitchen (with eating area) behind, then the bedroom and bathroom in the back.

I recall falling asleep in the living room, many times, on the floor. Grandpa Tanner had a stack of Craftsman tool catalogues and I used to love reading them, lying on the floor. There was a pot-belly stove in the living room, and a nice maroon rug on the floor, and it was a great place for a nap.

Only trouble was, every time .. without exception .. I fell asleep there, Mom would wake me up and say if I wanted to take a nap, go lie down on the bed. I always did, but never once did I ever fall asleep again after she made me move.

I guess if Mom had ever taken a nap there on the floor, she would've let me sleep.

They lived there until my Grandfather got up in the middle of the night, had a stroke on the way to the bathroom, fell and hit his head on the dresser, and never awoke from the coma that followed. Grandmother's mind "snapped", she never cried or smiled again, and began a rapid descent into total confusion. In fact, they knew something had to be done just a few weeks later when she'd get lost walking 2 blocks up the street to Aunt Marcella's house. They'd find her standing half way, not knowing which direction she was supposed to walk.

Said all that to say what a depressing sight it was in 2003 when, on a visit to Indianapolis, I drove by and took this pictures. So many nice memories, and now it's all neglected and overgrown. But when I thought about it, it occurred to me that the memories all had to do with life there. With the life now gone, the sight was most depressing.

I'd stumbled upon this picture a few hours ago, and then as I type this, the TV was showing a program about women behind bars; specifically about one young girl in prison for 3 consecutives life terms plus 25 years. That amounts to a death sentence, as a guard said; it'll just be a while before they carry her out in a box.

And then the universality of the life of Christ came crashing down on me and I knew I had to write. See .. if she'd found Jesus, and walked to the beat of His drum ... make that the beat of His heart .. she'd likely not be where she is today, expressing such hopelessness. Similarly, if she were to find Christ now, and devote the rest of her days to serving Him, where she is, she could find purpose and joy and a reason for being, despite her circumstances.

The two dozen or so men who got a degree from a seminary while in prison in Mississippi come immediately to mind.

Jesus said He came that we might have abundant life. Now, since He both designed and manufactured us, and since He is the One Who defines life, I think He knows better than anyone what abundant life is for us. And He's left the world's most complete set of instructions, for anything, just for us. On how to have that abundant life.

Wherever we are.

What was missing, at 1920 Minnesota Street, was life. What was missing, in the young lady in prison, was purpose and hope. I thank God for the indescribable gift of His Son, who can and does give us all three, wherever we are.

My hope is that my life reflects the life of Jesus .. with its purpose and its hope.

The world needs to know and, besides, I don't want my life to look like 1920 Minnesota Street.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

God, Shock Absorbers, and Dental Needles

When I lived in Southport, Indiana, Dave VanVeld invited me to go to a Men For Missions International breakfast with him. So I went. I enjoyed it, so we went regularly.

At the end of one meeting, Charlie Spicer .. MFMI staffer, and later a mentor to me .. said they had 4 places left on the Haiti Mission Trip 60 days later and if you were called to go, they needed the deposit by May 1. This was April 15 .. I had just mailed in my tax return on the way in that morning .. and I told Charlie that, if I got the $105 refund back by May 1, Peg and I would go. Otherwise, I didn't have the $100 for the deposit!

I got the IRS check the following Thursday! FIVE DAYS LATER, and I'd mailed it in on the LAST DAY!

We paid the deposit. But we were several hundred dollars short.

I didn't know it at the time, but God meant what He said when He had Paul pen Philippians 4:19. At least He meant it in 1970, and I suspect He still does.

Several things happened that discouraged me. I asked for the week in July, off, and my boss said no; he wanted to take that week off, and I couldn't be gone, too. Then, we called Mom and Dad and asked if they could come and keep the kids (then 10 and 7) for us and Mom got irate with Peg, saying "NO!!", and that missionaries were always the first ones killed in places like Haiti, etc.

Needless to say, we were discouraged.

Then, funny things started happening. First, we got a letter a few days later, from Mom, apologizing for saying that to Peg, and by the way here's a check to help pay for the trip.

My brother sent me a birthday card, saying Happy Birthday and I didn't know what to get you this year, so here's a check. What made that a "funny thing" is that it's the first and only time he ever sent me anything for my birthday!

My boss called me in and said "You know, that's a good thing you're wanting to go do, so go ahead and go on that trip ... and here's a check to help you pay for it".

And so it went. Right up until mid-June, when we were still $175 (remember that number) short. That had to be paid by July 1.

But then I got a call from the President of the Madison Avenue Businessmen's Association. I was the Secretary-Treasurer .. which means I sent out the Monthly Announcement about the dinner meetings, collected checks from the guys, and paid the tab at the Key West Shrimp House after dinner. The president, after we shot the breeze about whatever it was he called about, asked me a question:

"Have you written yourself a check yet?"

Uhh .... nooooo, I said .... why would I do THAT?

He said "Oh .. didn't anybody tell you ... we PAY the Secretary-Treasurer."

"Uhh ... how much?"

"$175.00 a year."

I didn't want to rush things, so I asked (with trembling voice) "When am I supposed to do this?"

"Our fiscal year is July 1 to June 30, so write it before July 1st."

I was absolutely blown away. But I wrote the check and paid the final installment for our trip!

Now there were some other expenses, gas money to get to Miami for the flight, a night's stay in a motel in Miami, etc. So God brought in a little more money, and when we returned from Haiti mid-July, we had $56 of this "miracle money" left over. Remember that number, too.

In Haiti, we stayed on the Missionary Compound, and ate our meals with the different missionaries there. The two that really impressed me were the mechanic who maintained all the vehicles, generators, etc, and also the dentist at their clinic there. Those were the two who mentioned specific needs they had: shock absorbers for the Land Rover .. if you'd seen the roads there, you'd understand .. and dental needles for the dentist .. he said he just never could get enough.

So when we got back, I asked Bill Dudley, the dentist who officed next to us, how much dental needles cost. I then explained why I wanted to know.

After work that evening I went to Washington Auto Parts and asked if they had shock absorbers for that model Land Rover. Yes, they said, so I asked how much.

$14.00 each. So I bought a set of four. That's $56.00! There went the last of what "miracle money" I had.

A week later, Bill Dudley walks in to get his mail (we picked it up from the post office for him every day), and he plops this big box down on my desk, saying "Here y'go .. this'll be my good deed for the year." And out he went.

I looked at the box and it said "CONTENTS 5000 DENTAL NEEDLES".

We took the shocks and the needles to the MFMI headquarters just down the road, and a few weeks later the next mission trip took all the stuff to the OMS Compound.

The tendency now is to write letters and enlist help in paying for this sort of trip. I don't really fault that, but I know how God can do it, and I can't imagine missing what He did for this struggling couple, 39 years ago this month.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

When All There Is Isn't Enough

I was saddened to read, today, of the apparent suicide of David Carradine.

According to the Fox News website, he was found hanged, in a closet, in the luxury hotel suite he was occupying during filming, in Bangkok, Thailand. He'd been dead some hours when found, and apparently was hanged using a cord from draperies in the room.

The article reported that he had often talked, before, about suicidal thoughts. He'd discussed some of the actions he'd been tempted to take, from simply rolling off a 4th floor window ledge he'd been sitting on, to using a pistol he had, to "blow his head off". I'm assuming that those conversations with others, about suicidal thoughts, were the reason why the authorities seem confident he took his own life.

He was a member of a privileged class. His dad, John, was a famous character actor, and David himself was famous, having hit the big time by portraying Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series King Fu, which aired from 1972 to 1975.

I remember it well.

Here he is, filming a motion picture in Bangkok, presumably making a good living, living in a luxury suite, and he doesn't see any reason to live. Or rather, he'd rather die than go on doing that. I guess there are just some things we just can't understand, and I also guess I'm glad we don't.

It'd seem, from the outside, he had it all. A nice house on Hayward Drive near Laurel Canyon in a suburb of Los Angeles, an established career, and I'm guessing at an income commensurate with his career. But it apparently wasn't enough to cause him to want to go on living.

There was a terrific line in the film A Family Thing, which was a neat movie unfortunately filled with profanity. But the line .. which takes a long backstory to explain .. was this: "Happiness ain't nuthin' more than havin' somethin' to look forward to". 

I  guess David Carradine didn't have that. 

In one sense, I can understand it. I'm 71, uncomfortably close to Carradine's 72, and I've done most of the stuff I dreamed of, but never expected, when I was a kid. Cars, nice houses, travel, family, all of that. But, aside from my family, all all those things have gotten old. The "glitz & glamour" is pretty well worn off. In fact, Peg and I haven't gone away on our usual birthday-anniversary trip in March, for three years now, as we just can't really think of anyplace we want to go. Well, bad enough to actually GO there.

So ... I can well understand getting tired of all the "stuff" the world has to offer. But I must say, the most thrilling things now . and the things of which I never will get tired, are things related to my living as a Christian in a lost world. I love teaching the Bible, talking about spiritual things, ministering to others, fellowshipping with other Christians; all the things God has placed me in a position to do. I cannot imagine being anxious to end this, which is really the most enjoyable time of my life! Enjoyable, that is, in terms of appreciating and embracing our lives, understanding who we are and why we're here, and looking forward to what God has in store for us in the future.

However long that may be.

Truth be known, this world doesn't have enough to match that. And in that context, if all you have is all the world has, then there never will be enough. 


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

And When I DO, Here's What I'll Tell'em.......

I have said in a couple places that I would speak against the Great Commission Resurgence Declaration. Thanks to some communication from some people I trust, I had just about changed my mind. But I believe I am going to go through with it, albeit it might not be what you expect.

So, here's what I'm going to say:

1) First, in case you wondered, I signed the Declaration when it was first put online. I think there were 147 signatures, and 12 Points, when I signed it. And in case you wonder why I'd sign it and then speak against it at the convention ... well ... I heartily endorse the Bible, too, but that doesn't mean I'm for using it to press flowers, squash mice, or as kindling in your fireplace. 

I signed the GCRD as just that: something declared. Not as an SBC "project".

2) I recall a couple of these "swell motions" ... one is the "Regenerate Church Membership" motion last year, including the "Repentance Amendment" added from the floor. That passed, although I estimate 40% of the people voted not to repent or even change the status of all those members we cannot even find. 

Another would be the motion in San Antonio that adopted the EC's statement that the BF&M was a sufficient guide for SBC entities.

I'm confident you can recall other motions about changing this or that, or repenting over something-or-other, which were approved without any evidence of change thereafter. In other words, when all is said and done, there's usually a whole lot more was said, than done.

3) The ideas set forth in the GCRD are great. We would all be well advised to follow the concepts and suggestions which SBC President Hunt sets forth.

4) Check this, from the Florida Baptist Witness: "The Southern Baptist Convention is a ship “adrift” and so low in the water that it “probably” needs to rid itself of some unnecessary “cargo” to “float and be healthy and strong again,” SBC president Johnny Hunt said in a May 13 interview with Florida Baptist Witness".

What's more, Ed Stetzer said we're a "denomination in decline", if I recall correctly. Over a year ago. 

And the list goes on.

5) Passing a motion and forming a committee (if that's in the cards) to study the deal is about all the SBC can do. Police powers, the SBC doesn't have. So, by nature, the SBC cannot tell the churches or the SBC entities what to do. Hence, "adopting" the GCRD, officially, is about it. That, and forming a committee .. which is as Baptist as a pot-luck supper.

Maybe if we'd formed a Committee to study the Garner Motion, or the Resolution as to Regenerate Church Membership, something might actually happe ... uhhh ... hmmm ... never mind.

5) Jesus said some interesting things about hypocrites. Not the least of those things was, in speaking of an unfaithful servant:

The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:50-51, NIV)

Now I don't know about you, but I don't want to face whatever fate awaits hypocrites, which seems to be a place appropriate for guys who get chopped into pieces. So ... here's the deal:

The Great Commission Resurgence Declaration is a fine document. What it says about our SBC infrastructure, and what the focus of our efforts ought to be, is right on, in my opinion. But the worst thing I can possibly think of, with reference to the Annual Convention taking action on it, is this: If we vote on the Declaration ... to appoint a committee to study it ... and then we don't follow through and do what is set forth in it, then we're a bunch of hypocrites. If you're a trustee on the Board of an SBC entity and you vote in favor, but don't begin studying the Institution you serve and its structure, right away, then you're one, too (in my personal opinion).

I don't think we want to be hypocrites. When I rise to speak to it ... if it comes to that, and if I have the opportunity to do so ... I'm going to say that, if you vote for the thing, you'd better be prepared to act on its recommendations. Now. And that applies to folks all up and down the line, since the Declaration applies to just about everybody involved in SBC work, from the Presidents on down.  

The definition of "hypocrite" is big enough to encompass anybody.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Blessed Redeemer. Precious Redeemer.

Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary's tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading,
Blind and unheeding, dying for me!

I started out to write a post this morning, about the condition of society. In part, it was motivated by GM's filing for bankruptcy protection this morning, and in part, it was prompted by an editorial I read to my SS class yesterday, about how "easily America was voluntarily giving up democracy". Although the editorial was riddled with self-serving propaganda, by the ones who published it, there was still a lot of truth to it.

It was published by Pravda. The Russian newspeople.

But then I went up to the auto parts store to get some stuff, and all the way there and all the way back, I couldn't get the song "Blessed Redeemer" out of my mind. The chorus just kept running through there, and I couldn't stop it. So I knew I had to write about it.

By way of explanation, I cannot sing that song. Oh, it was easy enough to sing, right up until the day I met Jesus. Face-to-face. The day I was hit by the reality of my personal guilt for what happened to Him at, and on His way to, Calvary.

Now? I don't even try to sing it. The moment that song begins, the world's biggest lump forms in my throat, and some of the biggest tears in the world form in my eyes, and I just know I have no chance of getting words out, at all.

My personal wish is that everyone who claims Him as Savior would experience the personal guilt for what happened to Jesus, and that it not be some sort of initiation "rite". Only after that happened to me, did I really appreciate the enormity of the forgiveness of the Master, and it comes back to me whenever I even think of the words to "Blessed Redeemer".

FBC Pelham had communion service yesterday. It was the usual. But I don't think I really celebrated it as I should have. See ... we were all sitting there looking just like we had, all morning long, and we heard the words of what we were doing, but I don't think we realized just what a radical thing it was. We were just ... believers.

I don't know how I pictured myself, before. It's been too long ago that I had that meeting with Him. But I know what I really am like.

I'm the other guy in the picture above. And if I don't look like that to the church, the world, or to God, it's only because of that guy off in the distance, in the picture.

The Blessed Redeemer.