Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Not What We Do.

It's what God does with what we do.

Case in point: Wade Burleson's blog, Grace and Truth To You. And, the fact that Wade, Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, OK, is laying aside blogging for good, effective with a post he put up a couple days ago.

It's been interesting to see some of the reactions put up by other bloggers and commenters. But I don't really care about anyone else's opinion; I'm better off for the fact that Wade blogged about what he did, and for as long as he did.

A few things that have changed in my life, tracing back to his first blogging about what he saw as unfair rules set up by the IMB Trustees:

1) I got involved in the SBC. We'd first joined an SBC church in 1981, but I had no clue about what went on, beyond the obligatory mentions of IMB, NAMB, and the fact of seminaries and colleges, now and then. I also knew FBC Pelham gave 10% to the CP, but that was about it.

It's a different matter, now, all kicked off by Wade's blog.

2) My first involvement came as a result of a story run by Bob Terry, Editor of the Alabama Baptist, telling the tale of Wade and his objection to the IMB's then-new tongues & baptism guidelines. As a result, I wrote a letter to the editor, stating as one who'd been given the gift of tongues (hey .. that's what the Bible calls it), I objected to the IMB's stance, and particularly since they were, in my opinion, objecting to a gift sovereignly given out by God Himself. That letter, when it was published, got me a phone call from a pastor here in Shelby County, thanking me! It seems his wife had manifested that gift during childbirth, some years before, and she'd felt marginalized by the IMB action. The pastor told me my letter had helped her.

All because Wade was blogging.

3) Our first SBC Annual Meeting, that we attended, was 2006 in Greensboro. We went specifically because I asked Wade if I ought to go. His response was that yes, interested laymen really did need to attend the convention; it wasn't just "for the pros". So we went, and as a result of that, I even got to speak to some issues on the floor of the convention.

I found out that the little guy does have a voice, after all.

We also learned about how IMB Trustees can really be, courtesy of an attack by a long-time trustee while we were walking into the convention hotel. That would have been a real shock, had it not been for what I'd already read.

All because Wade was blogging.

4) When San Antonio rolled around, and the issue of the "Garner Motion" came up, I had the chance to speak to that. I'd also studied the BF&M, as I figured I should know what it was I thought the SBC entities ought to stick to. That led to my studying the 1925 and 1963 versions, also, so I could see where the SBC was headed (to the extent you could tell that by comparing the three...). In the process of that, I found out that very, very few Baptists have ever seen, read, or surely not studied, what is our fundamental consensus statement of faith. I found out that all most SBC'ers seem to know is how they got here, so to speak.

I use the analogy of someone using a Satellite Nav System to go somewhere. All they know is the route they took. Nothing about the countryside.

As a result of that, if I'm objective with myself, I have to acknowledge I know more about "being baptist" than most, and probably more about what I believe, personally, than ever before.

All because Wade was blogging.

5) I've made friends from around the country .. fellow bloggers and commenters .. that I never would have met, otherwise. I recall a time CB Scott and I got on an elevator, at Ridgecrest, and J.W & JaNelle Glidewell, from Nebraska, also got on. JaNelle turned to me and said "Say .. aren't you Bob?" It seems she gotten to my blog after reading a comment I'd made on "Grace & Truth To You", and had been following it.

We're friends on Facebook, now!

All because Wade was blogging.

6) I've been in some meetings here and there, which I never would have been involved in, and met some really nice folks there, as a direct result of blogging (I started Eagles' Rest after reading Grace & Truth To You).

All because Wade was blogging.

7) While attending the 2006 Convention, I met CB Scott. We had lunch a week or so later, and he's become my best non-family friend. It was one of those things .. you know .. from the first lunch at O'Charley's, we just hit it off famously. That friendship, and the sharpening of fellow iron, has been a huge help to me.

All because Wade was blogging.

SO .. while he started blogging to display the things that were going on, to report to the people he served, the actions of those serving the people, the consequences of his blogging go far, far beyond the purpose for which he started, and continued, posting.

There's so much scripture, all over this whole thing, I wouldn't have time to list it all.

The Bible says iron sharpens iron. Indeed.

The Bible says we should acknowledge Him .. ascertain by seeing .. in all our ways. How true.

The Bible says that the victory is the Lord's. And it is.

God said that He'll continue the good work He starts in us. I can attest to that.

Whether I agree with all Wade wrote, with all he's done, he's been a tool God has used in my life. From hundreds and hundreds of miles away, most of the time.

Thanks, Brother. I owe you.

Most of all, thanks, God. Do I EVER owe YOU.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Vision is More Than Just Seeing

Yeah, it's another paper that I put in the "Save Stack" while we were preparing for the shredfest, a few days ago. This one happens to be one of three pages of notebook paper upon which my dad had drawn, in the early 60's, the plans for an A-Frame house they were arranging to have built at Bear Rocks Resort Community, not far from Greensburg, PA.

He knew that the A-Frames were all 24' wide, and came in multiples of 12' in depth, so he settled on the size, and drew up what he wanted it to look like. This was the main floor .. sort of the bottom of the "A"; he had another page for the loft (bedroom) and another for the basement, with activity room, sleeping area, woodworking shop, laundry, and a bathroom. They'd owned a nice home in Indanapolis, which they sold when they moved to Pittsburgh in a corporate transfer, and he wanted to reinvest the money before he had to pay taxes on the gain on the prior homes.

So they built this.

As you can see, it turned out to be a nice-looking place. And it all started out as a vision in Dad's mind.

I wonder if there's maybe some Spiritual application here. Perhaps we want to, somehow, limit God to what we can see ourselves. What we may have seen someone else do. What we have been able to do in our own strength. I wonder if we're not accustomed to doing what we know we can do, and asking God to bless as we do "that" for Him.

But that's not the kind of vision I'm thinking of here. I'm thinking of vision like Dad had, with the A-Frame, except pertaining to Spiritual matters. The sort of vision that saw Goliath getting rocked. Saw Jericho being overthrown by an inferior army (with a Superior Commander). The sort of vision that saw hundreds of Baal's prophets coloring the rivers with their blood.

The same kind that saw a deluge from a single cloud.

There's been a bit of a dust-up at Wade Burleson's blog, about knowing God's will. Some of the comments were a bit surprising, since God told us He gives us His Spirit so we can know what's been hidden for generations, and that we can know .. test .. approve the will of God. He then goes on to say that it's the perfect will of God, which of course His will is. ALL of it!

Could we be wearing the wrong glasses? The glasses that focus on us, or on the bankers, or on the congregation, or on the opposition?

Israel's army was pitching a fit about how big Goliath was, but David went up there pitching his own fit about how big God was.

Ten of the twelve scouts that scoped out the Promised Land couldn't see what was there for the taking. Joshua and Caleb could, and they got to hang around long enough to get what they'd been promised. The rest of them perished.

Maybe one of our bigger problems is that we think this: If God hasn't shown me something, He hasn't shown anybody." If I don't see what the GCRTF saw, then I have to disagree with their conclusion, their report, and its implementation. But, if I'm willing to consider that they may be seeing through Higher glasses than I do, then I must give them the benefit of the doubt.

I recently read another blog that compared the Cooperative Program to the venerable B-52 Bombers, citing how they'd been in used for decades and decades, and were still viable weapons in our arsenal. Methinks their vision in that post simply looked past all the later weapons in our arsenal, without which we'd probably be speaking Russian or Chinese, right now.

Perhaps it's only true that we see what we want to see. What we expect to see. Like the CP is the biggest, the best, the envy, etc etc.

And those symptoms remind me of the morning I wore two different-style black shoes to church. The closet had been dark and I 'd thought I'd picked up a matching pair, but I hadn't. I had two different style loafers. As it happens, an hour later, I noticed it as I was mid-way through a lesson in which I had made note that we tend to focus, in the Bible, on that which we expect to see. That which we want to see. That which agrees with our preconceived notions. Right then I noticed my shoes, and told the class I wanted to prove the point to them; I pointed out my shoes.

They'd seen them, but they really hadn't seen them.

Vision. Too often, we don't see what's really there. And seldom do we see what might be.

That would be God-sized. If you want an example, check what happened when our HS football coach and our FBC Pelham Youth Minister saw what wasn't there.

There were nearly 14,000 in attendance, close to a thousand decisions, and hundreds of first time decisions. And it all happened because they saw the same God David saw, and as a result, they saw what wasn't there .. but something well within the capabilities of the God Who spoke the universe into existence.

And, as with David ... and Goliath, Joshua ... and Jericho, Elijah ... and the prophets of Baal, and lots of other folks who saw what wasn't there.

Vision. Without it, we perish, you know.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A 362 Year Old Present That Changed ...

... a lot of things in my life. Here's why:

We were in London on business .. Peg and I .. in early May, 1989. We looked up Baptist churches to go to on Sunday, as we'd just joined an SBC church a few years before. And, we also figured that Presbyterian Churches in London would probably be really dry.

The closest one we could find, by chance near a Tube Stop and not too far from our hotel (or Harrod's) was Bethesda Baptist Church. So we hopped on a subway and went there Sunday morning, which just happened to be their 175th anniversary.

Their goal for the day was 175 in attendance, which they made. Now, the church and its layout were an interesting topic in itself, as was the pastor (American) and the guest preacher for the occasion, his father (Florida resident). But the part of the deal that really zeroed in on me was the page, out of an old Bible, that they gave to me. It seems the Bible had come completely apart, having been printed in 1627, and they wanted those attending their special day to have a remembrance of the occasion.

I didn't really expect something from Leviticus, but that's what I got. And I was OK with it until we'd had lunch, visited Harrod's, and took the tube back to the hotel. That's when I read the page. Or, more correctly, Verse 32, which says we're to rise up in honor before the white head, and honor the face of the old man. At least, in the then-New King James version.

And here I was, using Grecian Formula to keep my hair brown (what of it I had left), and some man-stuff on my mustache. I suddenly got quite convicted about that, and when I got back home, I threw out my nearly new bottle of Grecian Formula, and that other stuff, and told God I was sorry but I didn't know any better.

That simple incident was probably the first real life-changing decision I made in obedience to scripture. I'd been raised as a good kid, never stole, etc, but here was something that was fine with the world, but I knew I couldn't do any more.

I mean .. the Holy Spirit doesn't have to do a lot of conviction in a couple of areas, at least, when you were raised with a mindset of sanctity of marriage, an attitude that lying or stealing were simply wrong, and that we were to treat others with respect and dignity. Simply because those things were "right to do".

We were going through this huge pile of papers out of a old filing cabinet we don't need any more, and shredding most of the stuff therein (or throwing it away). But this little folder, containing this page .. really from the Bible, not a copy .. and a copy of the cover page of the Bible, and a certificate of authenticity .. went in the "Save Stack".

I'm not ever going to discard this. I'll leave it to my wife or kids, It's been too important, to me, not to.