I haven't mentioned it on the blog yet, but I've been in my home state of Oklahoma since Sunday evening.
John MacArthur spoke Monday at a Southern Baptist pastors' conference in Edmond, just prior to the Baptist General Convention at Henderson Hills Baptist Church there. Darlene and I were there to staff a book table for Grace to You. I learned only after arriving that Falwell was supposed to be there, too. He canceled at the last minute. Perhaps he heard the PyroManiac was going to be there.
Then Tuesday night, I spoke at the Heartland Regional FIRE conference in Oklahoma City. Lance Quinn was also in town for the FIRE conference, so it was good to spend some time with him. Jerry Marcellino, whose home and church took a hit from Katrina, was also there, as were Dennis Gundersen from Tulsa, Jim Elliff from Kansas City, Pastor Jim Kirby from Rio Rico, Arizona, and too many other friends to itemize.
Today we will be driving back to Tulsa via Stillwater, where we plan to have lunch with my younger sister.
Tomorrow, Frank Turk and his wife will be in Tulsa, so we'll get to spend a little time with them.
So it's a busy and fun week for me, and I thought I'd let the modern-prophecy theme simmer for a day while I post a collection of miscellaneous thoughts:
Edmond is where my dad grew up in the 1920s and '30s. In fact, as a boy, he used to catch the school bus a few yards from where Henderson Hills Baptist Church is today. My nephew, Chris Freeland, was married at that same church last year.
I spent lots of time in Edmond as a child, visiting my grandmother. She lived in the same house from the time I was born until after I was married, and when I drove by the house two years ago, it was abandoned and in a state of terrible, heartbreaking disrepair. I drove by it again Tuesday, and it has been completely renovated and now has a family living there. That warmed my heart.
Tuesday we also drove by the Oklahoma City National Memorial, and St. Anthony's Hospital a few blocks away, where I was born. My mom reminded me of a detail that helps round out the story I told in last Friday's post: Within a day or two after I was born, while my mom was still in hospital, an earthquake hit Oklahoma City and shook the downtown area pretty hard. That's really rare for this part of the country.
Being here always makes me nostalgic. My family's roots here run deep. Two of my great-grandfathers were cattlemen who helped settle and build Oklahoma City. Some of the ancestral family lands here (no longer in our family's possession) were acquired by my great-great grandfather, who participated in one of the famous Land Runs. Or supposedly. My mom uncovered some evidence in the family documents that indicates he may have been a true Soonerhaving come in early in order to get prime land. (But my mom wants it emphasized that the record shows "he purchased the land from an Indian," rather than stealing it outright.)
I say "prime land," because it was deemed so at the time. Providence had different plans for the family fortunes. Today all that land is dotted with auto salvage yards, graveyards for rusty oil field equipment, and abandoned farmlands overgrown with wild juniper bushes.
I want to say something about the passing of Adrian Rogers. I had the highest respect for him, a great love for his preaching ministry, and a special appreciation for the courage and diligence he showed in resisting the erosion of confidence in the Scriptures in some SBC circles.
I also made a short personal connection with Dr. Rogers once.
This happened while I was working as acquisitions editor for Moody Press in 1982. I was still in my 20s, but my job at Moody gave me access to a number of well-known preachers and authors. Moody Press sent me to the ICBI convention in San Diego that year, because every major Moody Press author (as well as every person we ever dreamed of recruiting to be a Moody Press author) was there. My assignment was to get to know as many of them as possible and find out what they were interested in writing. (That conference was where I really got to know John MacArthur for the first time.)
Anyway, one morning during the conference, I had breakfast scheduled with Adrian Rogers. Just the two of us. To talk about books. I was in awe. It was hard not to be. Of course, his voice was the deepest, richest, most mellifluous voice ever. In person, he had the presence to match. He was poised, elegant, refinedthe very picture of dignity. And he seemed genuinely interested in talking to me about writing.
I ordered grapefruit. I had so many restaurant-meetings lined up for three days solid that I would have preferred not to eat at all, but he was having breakfast, and it would have been impolite to sit there and do nothing besides talk business while watching him eat.
This was a pretty good grapefruit, with only a few seeds, and small ones. But about halfway through my grapefruit, at a point in the conversation where he was laying out a really interesting book idea, I took a bite of grapefruit that turned out to have a seed in it. If I were at home with Darlene, I would just get up, walk over, and spit the seed directly into the bin. (Or else take aim and spit the seed across the kitchen in the general direction of the bin.) But in this classy hotel restaurant with fabric napkins and fine silverware, sitting across a small table from Dr. Rogers, I wanted to be as well-mannered as possible.
In retrospect, it would have been wise simply to swallow the seed. What I tried to do was quietly, discreetly, put the spoon to my mouth, deposit the seed there, and then silently put it back on the edge of my plate. But this was a really sticky seed, and I couldn't get it off my lip. I tried to blow it softly onto the spoon, but it didn't budge. So I blew harder.
Much too hard, actually. The maneuver launched the seed, which bounced off my spoon, arced across the table, and stuck fast to Adrian Rogers' lapel. His dark blue tailored suit was now decorated with a rather conspicuous grapefruit seed.
Worse, he didn't seem to see it happen. He kept talking to me without missing a beat, as if the whole thing had utterly escaped his notice.
I quickly realized I was no longer hearing him. My attention was fixed on the grapefruit seed, which sat there like a large, grinning lapel pingetting bigger the more I looked at it. I couldn't decide whether to mention it to him or let him start his day with a seed from my breakfast clinging to his suit, waiting until someone else pointed out to him that it was there. In every scenario I could imagine, he would be embarrassed to discover the grapefruit seed hanging from his lapel, and of course, he would immediately know where it must've come from.
But after a 90-second eternity, during a moment when he thought I had looked down at my note pad, he quickly flicked his wrist and brushed it off. He knew it was there all the time, but he said nothing about it, I presume because he was too gracious to embarrass me.
From that day on, every time I ever saw him or heard his voice on the radio, I have remembered the grapefruit-seed incident; his classy, gentle compassion; and the care he took not to notice my disastrous lapse of etiquette.
I know he was beloved by his people, and I completely understand why. He'll be missed.
Miscellanies found on the Web today
Here's a collection of stuff I'd like to comment on, but time doesn't permit more than a short listing of them:
- Daniel J. Phillips manages to say eloquently what I have been trying clumsily to put into words.
- Speaking of which . . . Sam Waldron has a new book giving a systematic biblical case for cessationism. I read it a year ago, when it was in manuscript form. Like everything else I've ever read by Waldron, it's clear, biblical, and to my mind, persuasive. It is what the continuists in my comment-threads have been clamoring for.
- And here's something from an unlikely source. Charisma magazine finally notices what I have been saying for 20 years: it's getting really weird out there where their constituents live. (HT: Ingrid Schleuter)
- Here's a news item that made my skin crawl.
- My friend James Spurgeon has a great blog chronicling the idiosyncrasies of the spawn-of-Hyles style of fundamentalism he escaped. This post is particularly priceless. I read it at lunch Tuesday (Panera Breadthey have free wireless and a Greek Salad that is near perfect). I laughed so hard I had to get extra serviettes to clean the Pepsi off my laptop screen.
- Turns out Adrian Warnock is something of a cessationist after all.
- What offends me even more than the superstition of someone who ignorantly think God is giving him private messages is the arrogance of the non-charismatic who pretends to have the gift of interpreting extraordinary providences.
- On the other hand, this sort of thing is no less arrogant, and only slightly less unbecoming.