Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: November 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Isaiah 55:11: Sometimes It Returns With Dividends

The picture over there is the fly-leaf page of a Bible belonging to my nephew Kevin. The backstory is fascinating, but then, so's the update.

My parents' 50th wedding anniversary was March 6th, 1981. In honor, we had a nice dinner here for them, and invited all the family. That included our kids, who were 20 & 18, and also my brother, wife & his boys, who were about a year older, each.

Kevin was the older of the two.

After the dinner, at which we'd given mom & dad a cruise to the Bahamas, we were all sitting around in the living room and chatting. My nephew Kevin remarked about a red bible lying on a table and said he'd always been interested in it. I asked him if he'd like to know more, and he said yes, so we went downstairs to our den and spent some time talking.

Bottom line: he prayed to become a Christian. Knowing that "baby Christians" needed Spiritual food just like babies need food, we told him we'd buy him a Bible. And this is it.

I was chatting with him on Facebook a bit ago, and we started talking about some old times. We reminisced about his dad, of whose salvation we're just not sure, and about some other things, including his childhood. Then, suddenly, this picture pops up on my screen.

He still has the Bible we bought for him, a third of a century ago!

Kevin drives his own fuel delivery truck, as he has for many years. And shortly after that picture popped up on my screen, he said this:

"This is the Bible that has been with me in my semi trucks 
over all of the years within reach from the seat always."

Wow. Just WOW.

He's a strong, open-about-his-faith Christian now, and I cannot begin to describe how that warms my heart. But that wasn't all. A few minutes later, up pops this one:

He noted "You shared this from Romans that day and it was the best start ever".

Now I can flat guarantee you that what I said did not produce any fruit that day. Were that the case, then the same result would always come about when I shared my faith with someone. But we all know it doesn't. 

As is the case with teaching a Sunday School Lesson, Preaching a Sermon, sharing your faith, giving a cup of cold water to someone, or anything else we do in His service, it is the Holy Spirit Who brings about results.

Putting it another way, the Apostle Paul said that he'd planted and Apollos had watered, but God gave the increase. He further said that neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but GOD who gives the increase. Who produces the results.

The great tragedy, I think, in modern Christendom, is that the Foot Soldiers have all gone home and left the battle to the Generals to fight. They don't seem to comprehend that God's promises are true. They're "yes and amen". And they're worth whatever we can do, here.

Even when we do step out and share our faith, too often we have doubts, later. Particularly if someone doesn't pray right then. Well, if that's ever been the case, I have a News Flash for you:

God said His word would not return void. And He meant it.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Mr. Obama's Unilateral Actions

By now we've all heard of the speech given by Mr. Obama last evening. I have two reactions to it.

One of them is what I would have said a year ago. The other is what I think, today. And they differ.

A year ago, I would have ranted against it, on two different grounds. One is, it's an abuse of power by Mr. Obama, and should be cause for impeachment. Today, I heard on the radio, perhaps a dozen recordings of statements he previously made about "Executive Order", and about the role of the President in upholding and enforcing the laws of the land. The other reason is I was against ... vehemently so ... granting any official legal status to those who broke the law to get here.

But that's changed; here's why.

The USA is culpable in the "Illegal Alien mess" we have here, now. And yes, I refuse to call them "undocumented immigrants" or any other politically correct designation.

They are aliens ... foreigners ... who are here illegally.

But the fact is that we, as a nation, have stood by and watched this going on for years. For decades. The people who risked so much to get here via routes you and would never dare, had good reason to believe that, once they got here, they would be welcome. That they would be accepted.

And it matters not what most people think of the mess, either. The national actions ... or rather inaction ... may not have been done by the man on the street here, but he's the same guy that went into the voting booths and elected the slate of ne'er-do-wells we refer to as the Congress and the Executive Branch. And they, and the guys they hired to do the grunt work, are the proximate cause .. by their action or their inaction ... of the mess we've got now.

I recall the day in 2007 that my best friend ... his last name rhymes with "Scott" ... said that Barack Hussein Obama was more dangerous to the USA than was Osama Bin Laden. He was widely derided for saying it, but time is proving him correct.

Anyone with a lick of sense could have seen that after 4 years, but our populace voted him back in anyway.

Back to the immediate problem: Illegal aliens. What Mr. Obama is attempting to do via Royal Proclamation Executive Orders is exactly what should have been done by the great swamp on the Potomac ... AKA "Congress". But wasn't. There is absolutely no reason that smells anything like serving the people, that they didn't, long ago. Shame on them.

 There's a principle in law called "estoppel". The definition, according to one of those on-line dictionaries, is: 

  "...the principle that precludes a person from asserting something contrary to what is implied by a previous action or statement of that person or by a previous pertinent judicial determination."

In light of that definition, and of court cases extending a variety of privileges to Illegal Aliens, how can we now say "We didn't mean it....", and remove those here illegally?

I don't think we can. 

Nor do I think we should. And I'm  not even considering the Christian duty many of our citizens have, toward the sojourners in our midst.

No, Mr. Obama just did what I think Congress should have done, years ago. But, as my former Pastor, Mike Shaw, said many times: "It's never right to do wrong, to do right".  


Monday, November 03, 2014

She Thought She Died Well. But I Disagree.

That's Brittany Maynard over there .. the young lady who legally ended her own life, this past weekend, in Oregon. She'd recently moved there because physician-assisted suicide would be legal for her, there.

I have no knowledge as to her faith. Nor do I know how it feels to have a terminal and inoperable brain tumor, albeit I am living with prostate cancer which has metastasized to my lymph system. It's currently being held in check by a drug I take each 6 months, but how long its forestalling effect will last is unknown.

Actually, if you have to have a slow-growing cancer that's being (presumably) temporarily held in check via Trelstar injections, age 76 isn't a bad time for it.

As for Brittany, her death is a tragedy regardless, and I have no idea whether it took more courage to end her life as she did, or let the disease take its course. But for someone like me, it seems that the last good thing I can possibly do on this earth, to glorify God, to show forth His grace, is to die well. to die unafraid, proclaiming His goodness and His glory.

That'd be a bit tough to do were I to pull my own plug, telling God by my actions that I don't trust Him. If I don't trust Him in everything ... and I mean EVERYTHING ... then everything ... and I mean EVERYTHING ... is futile.

But it's not.

I would hope she'd trusted Jesus for her salvation. If that would happen to be the case, I believe she'll get to Heaven, and will hear something like the following, from the Savior: "You have NO IDEA what I had in store for you, had you let me handle it...". 

Her story brought to mind, and did so when I first heard it, the story of my friend Troy Smith. He died some years ago of metastatic breast cancer, after a long and courageous battle.

I happen to have been involved with the family, perhaps more than most at church, because of my informal association with the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation, and also with putting together the 2-week Disney Cruise/Disney World vacation for them when his cancer came back. To this very day, I have a wonderful relationship with the family he left behind, I suppose none more vibrant than with his daughter Hannah Grace.

You can see the poem I wrote about Hannah, here. Still a sweet young girl, but now a sweet young teenager.

I wrote about Troys death on this blog, years ago. I did it to show forth the sort of legacy I'd like to leave behind, and you can read it  here. Be sure and read the comments, too, as many were from friends who spoke more eloquently than I.

We can learn a lot from death. For one thing, we're all appointed to do that, and we have plenty of warning it's coming ... no matter how "unexpectedly" it arrives.

We can also learn a lot from those around us, as well.

Be it positive .... or negative.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Perhaps the Greatest Tragedy of the SBC

I have no idea how long this post will be, but I sure do need to write it. It was sparked by a conversation on Facebook. In no particular order:

  • The church is a BODY. It's made up of lots of different parts, each one of which has a duty. Perhaps a unique duty within the body.
  • All the parts are equally important. Some are more high-profile than other, but all are equally important. 
  • Example of previous point: if there's not the right kind of gifted person watching children in the nursery, mom & dad are not going to be upstairs in Worship Service, or over there in Sunday School. Asking which is more important is like asking the pilot of an airliner which wing is more important.
  • Every person in the Body of Christ is gifted by God, for the task God has in mind for that person.
  • Those gifts are for the good of the body, not for the good of the individual.
  • In the churches with which I am familiar, only a small percentage of the members are even in the church on any given Sunday.
  • Of the members who do attend, only a small percentage of them are involved in the actual work of the church.
  • 100% of the members on the rolls are gifted for the common good of the body, yet pitifully few of them are doing what they are gifted to do within the body.

Universality of giftedness: Speaking of gifts in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, verse 7, God says: "now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good". This follows on the heels of an explanation that there are different kinds of gifts and different kinds of service and workings, but there is one God who works in them all. Can you imagine what the majority of church members are missing, by not using their giftedness for the common good? 

In my experience, not many members can respond logically and knowledgeably to the question "In what ways has God gifted you Spiritually, for the work of service?" And how can a local church know what task God has in mind for that Body, if it doesn't know the giftedness of the people God has placed in their midst, to carry on that Kingdom work?

I think it significant that the first mention of spiritual giftedness is found in Exodus, in the story of Bezalel. One could probably figure out that their task was something like building the Tabernacle, just by the fact that God had place a guy in their midst who was skilled ... gifted ... in working with gold, silver, bronze, gems and wood.

If every single task needed within the local body were not equally important, how could the same recognition be given to offering a cup of cold water as is given to more grandiose things to which we aspire?

Percentage of involvement: In the latest membership and attendance numbers published by The Alabama Baptist, attendance in the 6 largest population centers in Alabama was 33.28% among SBC churches, compared to 53.97% among the other reporting denominations. When we consider that attendance includes visitors and children too young to be members, those percentages surely err on the high side. And they're pitiful.

Our church looks something like 3,000 members, 750 attending, and perhaps 100-150 actually involved in the work of the church, most particularly on Sunday morning.

You get the idea. Most of what can be observed by driving past and looking is an imitation of the real thing ... people assembled in unity, using their giftedness to build up the Body.

Kind of like in the book of Acts.

To me, the abundant life consists of doing what God has instructed, and gifted, us to do. Can you imagine.....

  • The abundance that is being missed within the Church Body, by people failing to realize and utilize their abilities and gifts in the building up of the Body of Christ, and....
  • The good work of the Body that's not being done by folks who don't know what their purpose in the church is, or are unwilling to step up, learn, and get involved?

The mind boggles......