Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: September 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

God, a Bus Driver, and Five Pictures

Anybody who's been looking at my blog in the past year, or anyone who's a Facebook friend, or anybody who lives within shouting distance knows we went on what we called our "Great Alaska & Pacific Northwest Adventure" in June & July of last year. I blogged about that, put photos in an album on FB, and even blogged about Jay Gunsolley, our bus driver/tour guide on the Pacific NW portion of our trip. I even went so far as to put all 4,757 photos into one folder on my computer, so the Screen Saver could just randomly roll through the whole trip; I watch it whenever what's on the TV 3' to my right doesn't hold my attention. But then, something about the photos, and Jay, caught my attention. Let's chase this rabbit for a minute.....

In the first photo, below, we'd just gotten on the bus at the pier in Seattle, after getting off the cruise ship. That's Jay, in front, telling us who he was, what he'd be doing, and where we'd be going. Very interesting, plain spoken, the kind of good communicator that, if you like anybody at all, you immediately like. Whenever we looked in His direction, there he was, doing his job. And he'd been given plenty of information about the route on which he was taking us .. not his usual tour .. and he played a big part in the enjoyment of the trip.

Now, in the next photo, he's doing his job, and he's in plain sight there .. we usually sat in the front row, and he drove along, explaining .. much of the time .. what we were seeing. Whenever we looked at anything in his direction, there he was. And I might add, a most competent driver and worthy of our trust.

In the next couple photos, he's still doing his job. And we can still see him there, although not directly. Even when we couldn't see him directly, we could see his reflection. Sometimes, in the mirror, clearly, and sometimes, reflected off the windshield. Fainter, not as clear, but nonetheless we could see him there, doing his job.

Now, in the last picture, we can't see him at all. In this picture, we're crossing a bridge over a stream in Yellowstone, complete with waterfall, and we're still aware of Jay's presence.

What struck me in these photos, in particular, was that Jay was ever-present, at work, taking care of us, even though the visibility of his presence varied by the circumstances, and also by where we were looking, and whether we were looking for him. And, in the last photo, even though we couldn't see him, we knew he was there.

Why? Because we were there! Had he not been present, we wouldn't have been there at all!

That reminds me of God, in all His Persons. Sometimes openly giving us instructions, sometimes in plain sight, sometimes visible as we are looking at something else. And sometimes not visible at all, even though we know He's here.


Because we're here, that's why.

Friday, September 23, 2011

So .. What IS In A Name?

What's in a name? I have no idea, and I really don't care. But, seemingly, the messengers to multiple Annual Meetings have cared.

The issue has apparently arisen before .. appoint a committee to study the name by which the SBC is known, and make recommendations to the Convention as a whole. I understand that's been voted down more than once. IF that's the case...

Messengers were saying "I don't care about the work .. whether the name poses any hindrance in other areas besides the South .. whether the roots in the by-products of the issue of slavery negatively affect the work ... whether "Baptist" has negative baggage which hinders the work everywhere (among non-Baptists)" .. and on this last matter I can speak with some knowledge. Speaking as an ex-Methodist and ex-Presbyterian ... 3 different Presbyterian denominations at that .. I can tell you it does. I don't know a lot of jokes about either of those denominations, but I sure do about Baptists, for instance.

Would a name change further the SBC's role in the Kingdom work? I have no earthly idea.

Would it be expensive? Probably, but as long as we see God as our source of supply, that's surely no problem.

BUT: for the Convention assembled to say "We don't want to know those things .. we value our name more than the downside of any of that" ... just affirms the wisdom of one of my favorite posters:


Monday, September 19, 2011

Sweetness: Heavenly Variety

The picture over there is what was left of my bowl of Stauffer's Chicken Teriyaki Peg fixed for lunch. At least, as of the time a particular thought struck me.

There's none left now, of course.

The thought that interrupted my train of unthinking eating was this: the first bite of the Chicken Teriyaki, I remarked to Peg how sweet it was (which I really, really like). But when I got to the point at which I took this picture, I'd noticed I couldn't discern the sweetness any more. I'm sure you've noticed .. how great that first bite of steak is... or the first spoonful of banana pudding .. or the first mouthful of whatever your favorite food is .. but then, by the end of the dish, the gustatorial ecstasy has usually faded.

It's like that with other stuff, too. When Peg first was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, we made it a point to go away somewhere, together, just the two of us, during the week between our anniversary (3/13) and her birthday (3/20). Some of the places we went: Cancun, Ocho Rios, Germany, St. Thomas, Costa Rica, St. Martin, and Ste. Maarten (different countries on the same island). But we haven't gone away in several years, now.

Why not?

Well, travel has, frankly, kind of lost its thrill. Yes, we did go to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest a year ago, but that was by way of taking a vacation we'd signed up for 10 years ago, but we had to cancel when Peg had to have some surgery at just the wrong time (vacationally speaking). But this year, we talked & talked about a vacation, and couldn't think of anywhere we really wanted to go.

The "thrill of it all" had faded.

I've noticed the related thrills, of new cars, new houses, new tools, etc, have faded, too.

Now all that's sort of a given in my mind as we were chowing down on the Chicken Teriyaki, but when I got to the Kodak Moment (I wonder if kids today have any idea where that one came from..), the thought that hit me was this: matters of the Spirit haven't lost one iota of their sweetness. In fact, quite the opposite. The old hymn that says "the longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows" takes on real meaning when the things of the world have sort of universally lost their "sweetness", particularly if you're really serving Him.

Frankly, when I was just sitting in a pew, that hymn didn't mean much at all. But lately, say the last 20 years, and primarily through the media of teaching and personal ministry, it just keeps getting better and better.

In making sure of the words to the hymn, I happened across (that's a pseudonym God sometimes uses when He doesn't want to sign His own Name, you know....) this video that's worth watching. Check it out .. you're going to love it.

If you're serving Him, that is.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Doing What We Can

The picture over there was taken June 26th last year, while Peg and I were on the Alaska Cruise. It shows me with Art Metrano, who is a long-time comedian and actor.

If you saw any of the Police Academy films, Art played Lieutenant Mauser. I'd gone to the gym on the ship the second day, to work out a little, and saw him there in a wheelchair, being pushed by an attendant nurse. Our eyes met so I walked over and said "You look familiar"; he said "That's because I am!".

He then told me who he was and a bit of his background, TV appearances, etc. Being the natural social-climbing name-dropping sort that I am, I asked the attendant to take my picture with him. So she did.

On the last night of the cruise, Peg and I had opted to have high tea at the Princess Hotel in Victoria, B.C. We saw Art there again, and I got another picture of him. He seemed like a really nice guy.

Unfortunately, in 1989, he fell off a ladder in his home, injured his spinal cord, and has been in a wheelchair ever since.

I recently read that he's started touring with a new one-man comedy show. He's titled it "Jews Don't Belong On Ladders .. An Accidental Comedy". From what I've read, he's raised substantial dollars for Project Support For Spinal Cord Injuries via his show.

I have to say that, in this time of such abundant publicity for drug-saturated and self-serving "stars", it was really refreshing to meet Art. Whereas he could be holding a pity party in his wheelchair, he's out doing what he can do, and seemingly having a good time doing it.

Not to mention making a difference in the lives of folks .. now or someday .. with spinal cord injuries.

I hope to see him again, some day.

So .. how about us? Are we determined to do what we can? Particularly in the Kingdom work? Do we look at others and think we can't do what they do, so we don't try anything? That thought is, in fact, the subject matter of Ken Hemphill's new Study Course, "You Are Gifted". God has assembled the body of Christ with the folks He wants in it, and with all the analogies to the body and the importance of the various parts to the operation of the whole body, you'd think it's obvious that everyone would want to be involved. But, sadly, they're not.

I have no idea the reason. Maybe it's "easy believism" and the resultant plethora of "believers" dressed in the wrong clothes, so to speak. Maybe it hasn't been made plain from pulpits. Perhaps the message (which I believe originated with Paul Washer) that "Christianity promises 2 things ... Eternal life and a cross to die on." hasn't reached the folks.

I don't know. But I know this: when we do what we can, God intervenes and blesses.

As lousy an example of a "committed Christian" as I am, let me share one little vignette that happened to Peg and me as we had lunch today. The gent on the right is Melvin, who works at Louie's Fine Foods, a cafeteria here in Pelham, where we went for lunch today. Melvin is the guy who takes your tray, takes it to your table, unloads it, arranges things, makes sure you have silverware & napkins, and keeps your glasses full.

I tried to get a better picture of him, but he doesn't stand still enough to do that.

After he unloaded our stuff, we asked if we could include any prayer requests for him when we asked the blessing. He brightened up bigtime .. and he's always really cheerful .. and asked that we pray the God would continue to bless him. He remarked that sometimes we get so busy with trying to get more things that we don't give thanks for the blessings God has already given us.

He then mentioned that he had been told by the doctor that he had congestive heart failure, but he wasn't going to let that stop him from being blessed by God.

It's such a little thing to do .. takes two or three seconds .. asking if you can pray for someone. But, today, it brought us huge blessings.

It'd be easy to feel really good about that, but when I think about all the things I didn't do today, I find I don't have much to be proud of.

All of which speaks to me of a God who loves us so much, and in such a manner, that He is ready to bless our socks off when we just do something we can do in advancing the Kingdom.

Is it just me, or does that seem to be a closely-held secret?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sometimes Wisdom is Just Seeing and Asking

You need to go read this.

I have met Guy Muse several times at SBC meetings, and he is indeed the real deal. He's a career IMB Missionary, as you'll see from his blog.

Go check it out.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The 3-In-One, Some People, And The Shack

That thing-a-ma-jig over there is a Bissell 3-in-1 vacuum. It's actually sort of a dustbuster with an added handle you can affix on the top, and an attachment at the bottom that makes it into sort of a junior grade floor vacuum sweeper. And there's a crevice tool you can put in the same place as that attachment, which you can then use to suck up junk from furniture, auto upholstery, etc.

I bought it not because I could actually do all those things, but because it was only $14 and it was in the tool department at WalMart. And, well, I guess I did want to use it, as the area around my computer desk does get kind of messy with little bits of paper, paper clips and staples (still haven't figured out why that is, by the way...). Peg kind of wondered why I bought it, but I think she figured it out when I actually cleaned up around where I'm sitting right now, the same day I got it.

So .. why on earth am I blogging about this today? Actually, a couple of things.

One, the minor point, is the name. 3-in-1. And that reminded me of the Great Three in One.


But I noticed that after I'd decided to put up the post. The primary reason is what it's not.

It's not a vacuum cleaner, at least not in the normal sense. It's a little dustbuster sort of thing that I can keep by the desk, and take out to the car ... it's got a really long cord on it, by the way ... when I don't want to drag out the shop vac when the car gets about ankle deep in stuff like it does every few weeks (it seems). It'll do what I got it for, and that's good enough. In fact, it has already paid for itself, in my own mind.

And that brings me to The Shack ... Wm. Paul Young's controversial novel. It was written as a work of fiction, as a Christmas present for his children, when he couldn't afford to buy them anything. It is a work of fiction, should be viewed as such, and if there's anything spiritual that can be learned from it, then ... well, fine! But I've heard it excoriated by all manner of folks for inaccurate theology, despite the fact that it's not a theology book.

I wonder if those folks pitched similar hissies about Field of Dreams or It's a Wonderful Life..

I learned quite a bit from reading The Shack; unfortunately most of it was about other people. And it wasn't good, like the ideas about God that the book stirred in my soul.

One of my mentors, a long long time ago, gave me a particularly sage piece of advice. He said "Don't let what someone is not interfere with what they are. With what God may have, in them, for me! And the same thought applies to books and the like, as well.

And to vacuum cleaners, too, despite what some theologians may say.

Friday, September 02, 2011

We Ordered Lunch. He Brought Blessing.

The young man in the photo over there, standing with his wife and daughter, is one Jeremy Fomby. He was our server today, at the Olive Garden Restaurant at the Riverchase Galleria.

Now, once again I need to mention that I'm really a shy guy, reluctant to speak first to strangers, all that sort of thing. So when Dennis Nunn mentioned asking our servers if there was anything in their life we could pray for, while we were asking God's blessing on our food, it didn't particularly ring my bell. Further, contrary to my nature, I've found it fun to ask servers about themselves, but heretofore not about Spiritual matters. We'd talk about things like is this their profession? Are they students? How long have they worked here? Stuff like that. Even that goes against my shyness, so to speak, so it's kind of a little victory when I go ahead and strike up a conversation.

The whole idea is analogous to my upcoming hernia repair surgery (next Tuesday): not that I'm going to enjoy going and doing it, but I know how much I'll enjoy having done it (in the past tense).

So, when Jeremy took our drink order (water, w/lemon, for both), I asked him if there was anything in his life we could pray about while we were asking God's blessing on the food. He brightened up and said yes, for his completion of college and success in his career. We asked, and made reference to Sports Fitness, personal training, things in that field.

He left but we did go ahead and thank God for Jeremy, asked for success in his field, and then asked His blessing on the food.

The whole meal was a delightful affair. The food was good, but we had a great time chatting with Jeremy, and about his church. Seems he goes to the New Life Evangelical Worship Center, and even mentioned he leads praise & worship there. It was at that point that something else struck me: he looks remarkably like Alphanso Blake, a good friend from Red Hills Baptist Church just outside Kingston, Jamaica. Al's a well-known Caribbean artist, having had art shows all over, and occasionally plays drums and leads worship at Red Hills. His picture is in one of my Facebook Albums, here.

We talked about lots of things, including our travels to Red Hills, and the fact that New Life Church in Bauska, Latvia, is another of my favorites. I did have to explain about the Soviet Union and all, as I'm not sure Jeremy was old enough (or even alive) to remember it.

We ordered lunch and asked one question. What we got was more food than we could eat.

Of both kinds......