Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: September 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Tale of the Heart, Really.

Take a good look at the little girl in the picture at the right, if you would.

Is that joy, or what?

We were on a mission trip, and my duties involved overseeing a Backyard Bible Club/VBS, being held at a small Baptist mission church in the town in which our work was located. The mission was pastored by a man who was well known in the area, and presumably very knowledgeable.

The young man is Mike Yates, one of the teens who were doing the teaching and the like .. Mike, himself, was doing recreation time for the kids.

The little girl was named Isadora .. we called her Izzy .. and she was just as cute as she could be. On the day I took this photo, I'd gone into the nearby mobile home park where she lived to pick up 12+/- kids, and she was one of the last ones to hop on. She then came back up to where I was and asked if I'd "Please stop by the telephone pole over there" so she could pick some little purple flowers that were growing around the base. It seems that several kids had taken flowers to some of the teachers the day before, and one of the teachers hadn't gotten any.

Izzy wanted to fix that.

So I did, Izzy did, and the teacher got her flowers.

By that afternoon, the teacher was irate. It seems that the pastor of the little church plant had made a comment that we needed to stop looking to the trailer parks for children. That there was too much "deadwood" there.

"Deadwood" like Izzy.

They mentioned this on the way to the motel that afternoon, and I asked God to "set up something" so I could talk to the pastor the next day. But nothing came .. there was never a time when I could just casually mention the incident to him. So we went back to the motel (and I secretly breathed a sigh of relief, inside). But I should have known better....

Mid-afternoon, one of the teachers involved called my room. She asked about a particular bible verse, if I could give her the reference; I told her I'd look it up and call her back. But when I picked up my bible to look, it fell open (it really did, folks, I'm not kidding) to this verse:

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23:37-39, NIV).

I slammed the bible shut and apologized to God for not having confronted the pastor. Then I set about finding the verse the teacher had called about.

The next day, we drove to the site and picked up all the kids. When they were all situated and the teachers started their classes, I approached the preacher and said "Preacher, you, me, by the tree out back, NOW!".

I rehashed what the teachers had told me. He affirmed that yes, there are too many "non-contributors" in the trailer park, to reach out to them. I then read him the verses cited above, and told him that, if he didn't change his heart immediately, and do all he could to reach out to the children that were all around the little church, I didn't care how much money they had in the bank ... God was not going to honor that, and they would not last as a church.

I have to say it was a good thing I was sitting down. My knees would've been trembling had I n0t been. But the conviction I felt was as strong as any I've ever felt, on any matter before or since.

Maybe it took that kind of weight to kick me into action. Maybe. But I find it's been easier to "follow the Leader" since that summer day at that little mission church on the highway.

I can't help but wonder how many Izzy's there are, out there. That nobody much cares about, because they're "non-contributors". But one thing I don't wonder about is the mission church. I don't think it made it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

We Regret to Report the Death.....

.. of the Cooperative Program, as we know it. And that evokes the following purely emotional response from me:

It's about time.

The key here is as we know it. That's pretty much as it was designed in 1925, and I don't know a lot of things that were designed & built back then, that we still use today. So maybe it's time for a major updating, as the GCRTF suggested.

Oh, I was one of the guys pooh-poohing the report, thinking it posed a threat to the CP. And, it does. But after I got to thinking about it, and not just reacting to it, I agree with the part about looking at all a church's bona fide missions expenses, and SBC entity investments, as part of their SBC stewardship.

I while back, I blogged about some of the things that a network of churches could do, that the SBC doesn't seem to be doing now. You can read that, here.

What really got me to thinking about this was the nomination of Kevin Ezell as President-Elect of NAMB. I saw the expectable shots at it, by those decrying the extremely low percentage of the budget, of the church he leads, that goes to the CP. But, I read the release they'd put out some time back, about their missions expenditures overall, and have seen reports about what they're doing to advance the Kingdom work, and I'm impressed by what they're doing. And that got me to thinking that maybe they DID know better how to advance the Kingdom, with the money God entrusted to them, than simply sending more of it to the CP.

A couple of points that might be of further interest: our church knows how to put on a Mission Trip. We've sent from 75 to 140 people to various places around the country, normally with three purposes in mind. One is to help a church with construction needs .. be it the church property itself, or the community (we've been to the New Orleans area several times). A second is to hold Backyard Bible Clubs in various locations around the community. We've been doing this for years, have good material, know how to structure them, and what makes for a good location.

Finally, we're good at putting on block parties. We have the Stage Trailer, the sound equipment, the cooking setup to feed hundreds and hundreds of people.

To top it all off, we're used to sleeping on the floors of the churches that want us to come and pitch in. We normally even carry along a shower trailer.

NOW: it occurs to me that there might be some folks out there who'd like to go along on a trip like that, but their church has never done that. Or there might be a pastor who'd like to get his church started in such a ministry, but isn't sure how. I'm sure our missions folks would be happy to have them come to Pelham and tag along with us to see, participate, and learn.

I'm not real sure about that, because nobody's ever wanted to .. at least not in the last 15 years (2 folks did then, and were welcomed to our team).

We also know how to go places like Nassau and Jamaica, and work there, too. We did a lot over about 14 years, helping Red Hills Baptist build their Community Outreach Centre, enough that they asked Peg & I and another couple ... the Blackwelders ... to come down and help in the dedication ceremony for the new building. Plus, the prior trip we made, Peg and Debbie, with our pastor's wife and 2 local ladies had a 5-day Vacation Bible School at their sister church .. Cypress Hall .. for over 100 kids. In ONE room. Our pastor STILL talks about that.

I can't help but think that there are some churches out there that would like to do the same sort of thing, but are not sure how to get started. We could be a big help with that.

Here's one little typical SBC Church that's doing several things that other churches might well profit from, and the SBC would be a wonderful clearing house for such information.

Peg and I were also personally involved in planting Riverchase Baptist Church, here in the Birmingham area. It was remarkably easy.

All these things have gone on, and still go on, largely apart from SBC involvement. Should we have done none of them, and simply sent whatever we spent to the CP, washing our hands of needs of which we were aware?

The SBC and its entities and commissions and programs, could be involved in all those things, but they seem to prefer sticking to a program invented in 1925, when our church could never have done any of the things I mention above.

And I hasten to add that I'm positive there are many other SBC churches out there, just as active ... or moreso ... as FBC Pelham, outside the activities of IMB, NAMB, or the CP. The recounting of what all Kevin Ezell's church is doing, the activities I'm aware of that Emmanuel Baptist Church of Enid is involved in, and the overseas activities of Alan Cross and Gateway Baptist in Montgomery are just the tip of the iceberg, I'm sure.

Perhaps SBC entities don't want to learn. Maybe they ... ***shudder*** ... like their hierarchy and their buildings and their expense accounts and their cars and their travel just fine, thank you.

I hope not, but I fear so. And the GCRTF and the nomination of Kevin Ezell may be just what the CP needs, to add some relevance before it's too late. Before it ceases to be even a good alternative to the local church just doing it, itself.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Refinished With A Purpose In Mind

I previously blogged here about the dresser I've been refinishing for Peg. Well, I'm done (I was about to type "I'm finished", but it's the dresser that's finished, not me).

It is now residing in the spare bedroom across from the little computer-room/den I'm sitting in as I type this. And it's now pretty well filled with stuff. Spare linens, our entire supply of wrapping paper, placemats, other bulky items like that, for which we don't have any other designated storage facility in the house.

The chest itself, as best we can determine, is over 100 years old. Peg used it when she was a kid, and believes that her mom did, when she was young, too. And I believe it. It's largely put together with cut nails, which haven't been in use since before I was born 72 years ago.

And it just looks like it was made by someone who "did it himself". The drawers didn't have any drawer guides; they just slid in, bare wood on bare wood. That wood was worn so badly that each of the drawers had a distinct rearward slant then they were pushed all the way in. The drawer bottoms were made of wood that was 3/4" to 1" thick, and had been planed away at the edges to fit into the drawer sides. The entire back of the chest was rough sawn, as if it had just come been cut out of a log.

And one of the drawer backs had been cut from a log, and the edge of the piece still had the bark on it!

It was a real treasure, covered in its thick scarred-up orangish shellac finish, with its barely functional drawers.

After a couple of months of messing around with it in the shop, it finally emerged, looking as you see above. And it's got drawer guides, and they all function quite nicely now. But it's not just a decorative piece. It's not just to be admired or studied. It's to be used.

That's a lot like you and me, you know. If you're a believer. God didn't save you just so you could be looked at, admired, envied, or anything else of the sort. He saved you for a purpose, and told you what it was, too. Ephesians 2:9 puts it this way:

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do "

We're new creations, too. God tells us that in II Corinthians 5, verse 17. Even though we're still walking around in the same flesh, fed by the same blood as before, we have a new outer covering, just like the chest. We've put on Christ .. God tells us that .. and I heard it said a long time ago that a Christian should make you think of Christ. You can interpret that one of two ways, and I like both of them.

If you look at James, you can pretty well deduce that faith that doesn't generate works from you is pretty well dead, and I suspect dead faith won't get you very far. And, as someone once said, if your faith won't take you anywhere here, what makes you think it'll take you anywhere?

In the case of the chest, it's easy to see its purpose. Just walk in, open a drawer, and look.

In the case of my life, it's a little more complicated. God does, however, give us eyes to see His involvement in our lives ... Proverbs 3:5 & 6, anyone ... and here's hoping we all know our purpose. And fulfill it.

The chest is. I'm glad I refinished it.

So's Peg.

I hope God's happy He refinished me.