Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST: February 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Mail Delivery and Church Availability?

Yeah they're connected. They're at either end of a chain of thought that raced through my alleged
mind at 9:52 this morning.

Peg and I were sitting at the kitchen table at that time, playing our morning game of Phase Ten. Then we saw the mail lady delivering mail to folks in our little cul-de-sac. We've seen her lots, over the last 36 years, but always at 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon.

We talked about that.

Peg mentioned the same lady delivered mail to our church, sometimes availing herself of our facilities there. That got me to thinking that sometimes, the church is closed for holidays and the like. Peg pointed out that it's likely that mail would not be delivered on those days anyway, so ....

But the train of thought had already pulled into the station, after I'd thought churches ought to be available 24/7, which brought to mind one of the most meaningful "church moments" I've ever had.

In an empty, quiet sanctuary.

It was late 1998, and I was at work. My Brother Art ... my only sibling ... called me an update on his esophageal cancer. He told me that it had metastasized and was inoperable. Instead of curing it, he said, he would now be on a "course of treatment". Which meant for his final days.

That hit me pretty hard, mostly in wondering what I could do, and feeling helpless. Art had adopted the Jewish faith when he married a Jewish lady from Long Island, and had resisted all my efforts to at evangelism.

Now, with him about 1,000 miles away, there really wasn't anything I could do.

Except pray.

At the time, I was attending a prayer meeting every week, at Kingwood Assembly of God .... the one pictured up there ... in the neighboring community of Alabaster, AL. The times there were very intense, some miraculous things had happened there, so I left my office, got in my car, and drove down there.

I stopped by the Pastor's office there, and asked June if I could go to their altar to pray. She said "Sure", so I did.

In the silence of that place, I poured out my heart and my desperation to God. After a few minutes, I had what can only be described as a "God Moment". He said something like I'd done all that I could, and Art was in His hands, now. And that I was to trust God with my brother now, just as I trust Him with me. Not that I was to trust in where Art would spend eternity, but to simply trust God.

BOOM!!!

The burden and the trouble in my soul disappeared instantly! I'd probably been trusting in my own actions, and whether I'd done the "right things", and it took only a word from God to instantly erase all those thoughts.

I stood up, brushed myself off, stopped at June's office to thank her, and went back to my office. And the burden of all those thoughts, and Art's condition, never came back.

When I think of 40,000+ SBC churches, I have to wonder how many of them have meaningful "prayer lives". FBC Pelham doesn't ... and didn't back in the late 1990's, or else I would have gone there to pray on that day, right? Even though it was on the way to Kingwood, I didn't even think to go there, probably because the really neat things ... the "God things" ... had happened at Kingwood.

I've come to understand that the whole prayer things is really between me and God. But I need to order my own life to help FBC Pelham and other churches to see that His House should really be a House of Prayer ... not just in some scripture reference few people know anyway, but actually and collectively, in practice.

Like it was at Kingwood, all those years ago.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sniff ... Sniff ...

We've all heard it a thousand times: "Stop and smell the roses.." Well, I decided to do just that, this morning.

Now, I'm not referring to the kinds of spiritual events one might hurry to include. Rather, I decided to simply look around and see all the things around me that remind me of how terrific life really is (despite arthritis and all my other niggling ailments....).

Just from what I could see, sitting in our living room!

See the painting on the fireplace wall? It's a print of an Eagle painting done by a friend, Mrs. Linda Kimbrough. I'd spent a few years working with her husband, Tom, and I'd mentioned somewhere that my Dad loved the American Bald Eagle. Dad was a real American patriot, even to being quite angry when JFK was assassinated, even though he had absolutely no use whatsoever for him as a President. He simply would not tolerate the assassination's insult to our nation.

When Mom and Dad died, I inherited the painting, and there's absolutely nowhere else I'd rather it be displayed, than right there.

Sniff ... sniff ....

There are a lot of pictures on the mantel. They show much of our family ... sons, grandsons, their families, etc. And those folks were all in our dining room, right behind the spot from which I took the picture, yesterday, for lunch! It's a family tradition, and we get to spend an afternoon with all our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, every week!

Sniff ... sniff ...

You might notice the "recesses" on either side of the fireplace itself. They're full of greenery, one of which is a vine that Brad, our younger son, bought for us maybe 25 years ago, when he was working at K-Mart.

You might also note the shelf unit on the far side, full of model cars. Most of them were bought for me by our younger son Brad, as he traveled all over the country, tending to banks and their computer programs. Our older son, Brian, bought one of them, and I bought 4 or 5 myself (going-out-of- business sale at Sharper Image here in Birmingham).  The store manager was Brad's wife, Connie!

Also on that top shelf is a yellow model Fire Truck, bought at a BP station, while en route to a wedding in Louisiana. The brother of an internet friend, from India, was marrying a young lady from Louisiana, and he brought his sister over here for the wedding. So we drove there as we were invited, too, and brought her back here for a few days' visit. And it was terrific visiting with someone from another culture ... a very different one, at that. I learned a lot!

Sniff ... sniff ...

At the very bottom is a little red bench I made for the GGkids to sit on while they play with their toys. I made 3 ... Alabama, Auburn, and Braves ... out of leftover lumber from my Dad's Wurlitzer Home Theater Horseshoe Organ. We inherited it when the folks died, it had stopped working and wasn't worth repairing (a $150 keyboard will do more than it did ... ), So I dismantled it, after efforts to sell it. Or give it away. And my craftsmanship worked ... the GGkids use those little benches all the time!

Also in the photo is a little "Kiddies' Kitchen". We'd bought it 30+ yeas ago, for our Grandkids to play with. And that brings back more neat memories.

There's more ... a roomful of furniture ... the room itself ... that fireplace wall ... our home itself.

Sniff ... sniff ...

But then: I am forced back into the Spiritual. And I ask "Why me?" We hear that asked mostly when something bad happens to us; Seldom when some blessing comes our way. In this case, I know how unworthy I am to have all this stuff, to remind me daily, hourly, constantly , of God's love for me.

Sniff ... sniff ...

I take that back. DO SOME ROSE-SNIFFING YOURSELF.









Monday, February 18, 2019

What CAN We Do?

There's been a lot of talk lately ... rightfully so ... concerning abuse and molestation within the SBC family. Stories of large-scale sexual misdeeds within the denomination (the SBC's own website used to use that word, so I will, too ....) have gotten the attention they so richly deserve, but was so sadly avoided, for too many years.

But they're there, like black clouds hanging over the SBC, and will be until we collectively take some action.

Most of what I have heard and read, lately, revolves around the oft-repeated recitations of what the SBC cannot do. But little has been said about what the SBC can do.

So: What can we do, denominationally, to address the problem? Or maybe solve it?

Let's brainstorm a few.

  1. Nothing. We're now witnessing the results of that. Explained by the old mantra about doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.
  2. Explain again that we're all autonomous churches so the SBC itself cannot do anything. See #1 for the expected results.
  3. Re-form as a true Denomination, with the power to mandate what the local church must do. That is not going to happen, and probably needn't, and really shouldn't.
  4. Put some teeth into Peter Lumpkins' Resolution, passed by the 2013 SBC assembled in Houston, calling on all SBC churches to report accusations of abuse to the authorities. Perhaps by declaring that churches which fail to do that will no longer be "In Friendly Cooperation" with the Southern Baptist Convention.
  5. Start that SBC Database of "credibly accused" abusers that Wade Burleson suggested in 2007, but that was rejected by (as I recall) the EC, saying they were powerless to actually do anything with the results (See #2 for details)

Let's speculate about the possible results of #5: Let's say the SBC did start the database, tended to by the employees of the Executive Committee in SBC headquarters in Nashville.

Then notifying the member churches, reminding them of the Lumpkins Resolution, and stating that failure to report abuse or molestation is cause for dismissal from the SBC.

Then, let's say there's such an incident at an SBC Church. The deacons .. or perhaps elders ... decide to quietly dismiss the offender, as has almost always been done by SBC Churches.

Down the road, the abuser repeats his crime at his new place of service. Can you imagine what the plaintiff's attorney would do with that information when he drags the former church into his lawsuit?

Do you think the first church would want that sort of exposure in those following years?

I don't think so. And I don't think the SBC would want it, either. Especially when it could have  done something!

The SBC is not going to re-form as a more conventional denomination, but such a Registry could be done, and done now. Without undue expense.

Particularly when compared with the price of doing nothing.



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

ATTENTION: SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION:


Thursday, February 07, 2019

Organized. Systematized. Routinized.

I have come to feel concerned about one aspect of the organized church's methods of evangelism. And I suppose it stems from the highly unusual way I got saved, myself.

I shall explain.

When I was in the Sixth Grade ... as in the picture over there ... a couple of things were going on that really affected me. One was that Russia had The Bomb, and we knew it. I can even recall air raid drills in Grade School, after WWII was over ... as if sitting in the hall with our arms covering our heads was somehow going to protect us from an atomic blast.

The second thing was that our Air Force began flying Convair B-36 Bombers. They were loaded with nuclear weapons, and flew over the USA all night long (perhaps during the day, too, but I never heard them, then). As we lived in a small house in a suburb of Chicago, and had no air conditioning, we routinely slept with the windows open.

Now the B-36 had a very distinctive droning sound. Eerie, in fact, and particularly to an 11-year-old kid in a suburb of what was assumed to be a target city .... should Russia have decided to attack us, in which case those B-36's would have turned and headed for the Soviet Union. Hearing them fly over us, very high, in the night caused me to worry about what would happen to me if the USSR actually decided to attack us.

After lying in bed many nights, I started worrying about what it would be like to simply not exist. No me ... no consciousness ... no awareness of anything. And that is a depressing thought for an 11-year-old kid. It occurs to me, now, that the fact that we are spiritual beings is behind our inability to imagine not existing. But that was not on my radar at age 11.....

That worry had an effect on my behavior, during the summer of 1949. I was a normally-happy kid, but the juvenile depression had me poking at my food, not talking much, and exhibiting behaviors of that sort.

Now, my dad had been around me enough to know something was wrong, and one evening after I'd poked at my dinner and not eaten much, he came into the darkened living room, where I was sitting, and asked me what was wrong. My response, which is seared into my memory, nearly 70 years later, was "I'm afraid of dying." His response, equally dominant in my memory, was:

"Don't you remember what they told you in Vacation Bible School ... 
if you believe in Jesus, when you die you go to Heaven?" 

I did remember it, and instantly, the fear and the lump in my throat and the weight on my shoulders went away.

Unforgettably! Completely. Instantly! Permanently!

I said, to my dad, "oh YEAH", and ran outside to play with my friends.

A Baker's Dozen years later, married and with a couple kids, we got into church. The first one was not much, spiritually ... I do not remember ever hearing about being "saved" ... but it did get me around seemingly-saved folks, reading the Bible, going to Sunday School, and stuff of that sort.

Then, through a series of providential events, we ended up on the other side of Indianapolis, and in a Bible Study in a friend's living room. It was the first time I had ever really dug into Scripture, and it was filled with overwhelming revelations, for me.

We visited around at different churches, and I ran from altar to altar, looking for some sort of "experience" ... like those I had heard glowingly described by some of my friends. Of course, I didn't find any, but I did eventually come to the conclusion that I really was saved.

I was saved the moment I trusted Jesus!

I didn't know anything about metanoia repentance or the kabod Glory of God. All I knew was that, if I believed in Jesus, He'd take me to Heaven when I died. And that was good enough for me. I trusted Him to do that.

One quote I'd heard in those days, about children who were saved at an early age, was this: "He gave as much of himself as he could give, to as much of Jesus as he could take". BINGO! That's what I had done at age 11! It was almost as if I  had been a fish, caught by the Great Fisher of Men, who looked at me and said "He needs to grow some more", so put me on a stringer and tossed me back into the lake.

When it suited Him, He reeled me back in.

These days, the organized church seems to have organized, systematized, and "routine-ized" salvation ... inside our churches at least ... into "Walk that aisle, say this prayer, fill out this card, and wade into this water". And when I ponder that, I wonder if we are not omitting something that started me on the Right Road when I was eleven years old:

Trusting Jesus.

Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that I'm eternally grateful that the Starting Post, for me, was Trusting Jesus to take me to Heaven when I die.

He can be trusted to do that.

ps: I've seen too many people respond to The Invitation, seeking assurance of salvation, to dismiss my thoughts completely.