Archive for August, 2014

Common sense — on the verge of extinction

August 26, 2014

The older I get the more I am convinced that “common sense” will soon go the way of the dinosaur — extinction. And, what’s more, it will be sooner than later.

Just what is common sense? A Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition defines common sense this way: “the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions.”

Last week I was driving on Interstate 40 near downtown Nashville. I passed one of the signs that are prevalent today on the major roads. Normally the signs warn of traffic delays or ask for help in locating cars suspected of transporting children who may have been kidnapped.

On this particular day the message on this sign just made me shake my head. To paraphrase, it was basically reminding people not to leave their children unattended in a locked car.

Really, do we have to tell people something that is so basic? Unfortunately, we do. How many times this summer have we heard about the tragic death of a child because a parent or someone who was supposed to be watching the child did  just that? Common sense would dictate that one would never leave a child in a car, locked or unlocked, regardless of the weather conditions.

One more case in point. Many people may have heard about the woman in Salt Lake City, Utah, who drank tea that had been inadvertently laced with lye in a local restaurant. What many people may not know is that the woman is Jan Harding whose husband, Jim, is a long time pastor and former executive director of the Utah/Idaho Southern Baptist Convention. She went through nearly two weeks of unimaginable pain and trauma because no one exercised a little common sense.

According to a Baptist Press report  on Aug. 22, restaurant officials knew about the contaminated sugar. In fact one employee had a hole burned in her tongue because of it. Instead of destroying it, the container sat in a manager’s office for about five weeks before someone apparently used the mixture thinking it was pure sugar.

What a senseless tragedy. If some common sense had been used in the first place, sugar would never have come into contact with a cleaning solution that contained lye. Then,  if someone had used some common sense when it was discovered, Mrs. Harding would not have spent nearly 13 days in a hospital with life-threatening acid burns. We can only praise God that He answered countless prayers for this faithful servant and that she has recovered enough to go home.

It all boils down to a lack of common sense which leads to bad consequences.

At some point very soon, common sense must make a comeback in society before it is lost for good.

It doesn’t hurt to explore options

August 15, 2014

As most people are aware, the Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Board sold its property at 5001 Maryland Way in Brentwood late last year for $8.75 million.

Currently, the TBC is leasing property (about two miles from the former location) for three years while TBC leaders are exploring long-term options.

Some people may have questioned why the TBC sold valuable property, but ultimately it is a matter of stewardship. When the TBC moved to Brentwood in 1969 the area was “in the country.” Property  was not that expensive. As Nashville moved South, Brentwood developed into what it is today and, thus, property values skyrocketed. In addition, changing ministry priorities for the TBC had lessened the need for so much space.

The same thing is true for Southern Baptist Convention entities. Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., (near San Francisco) recently sold its property for about $85 million and has announced plans to purchase property and relocate near Los Angeles. The sale of the property also will enable the seminary to add about $50 million to its endowment fund.

Just this week, Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources announced the entity is exploring the possibility of selling its downtown Nashville property. The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville estimated the value of the LifeWay property at more than $80 million, according to Baptist Press.

Those kind of numbers are staggering. Tradition and history are important for an entity in any location. No entity should sell just for the sake of selling, but Christian institutions especially must consider the stewardship factor. TBC leadership felt it was in the best interest of the convention to sell its property and relocate. Golden Gate Seminary trustees apparently felt the same way.

Will LifeWay sell the property it has owned for 120 years in the heart of Nashville? Only time will tell. They certainly need to consider all options as a matter of stewardship and ultimately make the best decision for the future of Southern Baptists’ publishing arm. It doesn’t hurt to explore options.

We better know our mission

August 7, 2014

Do we know why we do what we do?

That’s a question that everyone would do well to ask him or herself and it involves every area of one’s life, from personal to professional activities.

But it is imperative that  businesses and even churches constantly ask that question as well.

I recently read an article entitled “Why are we here?” published on MyChristianDaily.com. It is well worth the read and be sure to watch the video clip of a documentary entitled “When God Left the Building.”

In the clip, a former engineer at Eastman Kodak Company told of the confusion their company experienced as digital photography began to overtake film photography. The engineer noted the company didn’t know if it was a chemical, film, or imaging company. “We didn’t know what business we were in,” he observed.

The film clip also talked to a pastor of a dying church who, sadly, could not repeat the mission of the church, even though it was printed regularly on all their publications.

If the pastor doesn’t know the church’s mission statement, trouble is on the horizon. But it’s not enough for just the pastor and congregation to know why the church exists. If it exists for any reason other than to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world, then it is doomed for failure. As reminders of what the church is about you may want to review Matthew 28:19-20 and Ephesians 3:7-13, among others. Scripture is filled with instructions for God’s people and His church.

The article and documentary clip are needed reminders that churches especially must constantly review “why we do what we do.” If we are not telling people about Jesus Christ and leading them into the Kingdom of God, we deserve to close.