"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Reflections on Gulf Shores, Alabama

My wife and I are traveling back to Enid, America today in order to be present for our inaugural REFUGE 7:1 Saturday night worship service. I must tell my Little Rock friend, David Sanders, that every single hotel room in his fair city and to the west for 70 miles was BOOKED last night --- not a lot of the rooms, every SINGLE room (I now hate regional soccer tournaments!). So my wife and I coasted into Russellville, Arkansas at 1:30 a.m. this morning on our way back from the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama after a very relaxing vacation.

I will post the winners of the contest on Independence Day so you still have a couple of days to enter. However, in honor of the beginning of our REFUGE service tonight, I thought I might throw out just a couple of reflections regarding our week stay on the beach.

(1). The tens of thousands of people who joined us on the beach, if presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ by the typical Southern Baptist dressed in his Sunday go to meeting outfit, would immediately think a "cult" had accosted him. Outside of the business world (and in some businesses, inside) the average American has changed in dress, hairstyles, thinking patterns, musical preferences and outlook since the 1950's. We Southern Baptists are often stuck in the 1950's or 1960's. I think it would be helpful for us to remember that the United States is no longer a Christian country, and for people to really be reached with the message of the POWER of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the silly cultural taboo messages of many Southern Baptist churches --- but the power of an incarnate God who died a substitutionary death for sinners, and offers His perfect righteousness to the person who believes on Christ --- we must become all things to all people.

I think our missionaries on the field with the International Mission Board in unreached people groups are almost better prepared philosophically and trained more properly in methodology to reach Americans on our beach coasts than Southern Baptist pastors are. I'm not saying every Southern Baptist church should take this challenge, I am just cautioning Southern Baptists NOT to reject or condemn churches who understand this concept -- and vice versa.

(2). The former Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, governor from 1998-2002, was convicted this past Thursday of several federal offenses, including receiving bribes for political favors. The Governor and his cohort in crime are both highly active in Christian affairs in Alabama, and it is a reminder to us all that people with power, left unchecked and unguarded, become addicted by their power to the point of being anesthetized to their own immoral actions.

Our founding fathers of the United States understood the safety in the separation of powers, and even religious denominations and organizations should be aware of handing too much power into the hands of any one person or oligarchy of people. The same principle applies to the local church, and I'm afraid that in the future we may be finding that several congregations will have to deal with pastors who have assumed total authority of a church and have abused the trust. I am still one, unlike many of my friends, who believe congregational authority in major decisions is still best philosophically, and yes, even Scripturally (the priesthood of every believer).

(3). I was reminded on the beach of Gulf Shores the importance of friendships. Relationships among people are eternal through the grace of Jesus Christ. I have enjoyed making many new friends via the internet and I look forward to another year of blogging. I want to thank my dad for the comment moderation while I was gone.

I wish you all a wonderful Lord's Day ---

For those in Enid --- see you tonight.

In His Grace,



RM said...

Glad you had a great time! We can all learn lessons from some of our politicians... (Christian and non-Christian).

Take a second and check out our new blog: www.sbobserver.blogspot.com

irreverend fox said...

I honestly think that the "priest hood" of the believer is such a shaky support for congregationalism. I believe in the "priesthood" of the believer, but it is my conviction this doctrine has to do with the individuals ability to approach and relate to the Lord through personal faith. I see a complete distinction between that ability and the authority of elder leadership within the local church.

I know that the Apostles did instruct the people to choose seven men who where known to be Godly in Acts 6. But I am just not sure that is anything more than simply descriptive as apposed to prescriptive. The Apostles were also distributing goods to anyone as they had need, basically operating something like a commune. Was that descriptive or prescriptive?

Also, after the explanation as to why Ascols resolution was not presented to the convention I'm really not sure about congregationalism. It's one thing to ask carnal, immature and unfaithful CHRISTIANS to vote on things...but I guess now we don't even stress (or require?) regenerate church membership anymore!

It seems to me that a decent sized "church council" led church (made up of the "heads" of each ministry of the church) provides at the same time accountability and the greatest possibility of Spirit led decision making.

Certainly no system is perfect, but I think congregationalism finds its roots in the pits of hell…ok, that’s a joke. But I do think it is an inferior form of church government.

scott m said...

Good reflections, Wade. I'm 41, but I'm so culturally different from the typical SBC talking head it's mind-boggling sometimes. I did not grow up culturally 'christian', so that's probably part of it. My profession (programming) is also one that rarely involves 'suits' or even casual business attire these days, especially here. My typical summer business attire consists of shorts, t-shirts, and sandals.

I look at the pictures in things like the Southern Baptist Texan, the talking heads on TV, or even your picture, and it's really hard to find any connection. They do very often look like pictures taken from TV shows in the 50's and 60's. My parents never even looked like that. I guess maybe my grandparents did sometimes. But really ... not so much. (But then, one grandfather was a fireman and the other an oil landsman, so maybe that's why.)

But there should be plenty of people in any congregation who understand this disconnect because, like me, they stand on the other side of it. The problem is that it's difficult (and often uncomfortable) to communicate this within the church setting. Blank stares are a common response.

Good luck with your new service. No details in this post, but it sounds interesting.

blampp@juno.com said...

Welcome back..... to the "blogspere", that is, though a little East of where you were, I find it interesting that your first impressions indicate you've been "rubbin' elbows" with folks, and it's "rubbed off on ya!" Some of those same types of folks are in the Panhandle region of Florida, and just like us, they need Jesus TOO! Blessings on whatever is happening tonite at "Refuge"?
...........for Souls, Service and Celebration all because of HIM! barrett

Kevin Bussey said...


You were in my old neck of the woods. Gulf Shores is a great place. I hope they have recovered from Ivan, Dennis and Katrina.

I'll be interested in hearing how your Sat. service goes. We just started a Dwelling Place 8:43 Service that is attracting a younger crowd. Have a safe trip home.

Kiki Cherry said...


We had the same problem trying to find a hotel room on our way from the convention to Oklahoma last week. We tried in Conway, and then all along I-40. There was NOTHING until we got to Fort Smith, in the wee hours of the morning.

Geoff Baggett said...


I appreciate your comments ... especially with regard to the gulf of separation that exists between the 21st-centuryculture that we live in in and the 1950's culture and thinking that remains entrenched within the vast majority of our Southern Baptist churches.

I planted a Southern Baptist church in small-town western KY in 2002. We have since been soundly rejected (functionally excommunicated)by our local Southern Baptist association because we:
1. Do not have the actual word "Baptist" in our name (even though it is all over our literature and web site).
2. Use bold, often unorthodox, but missional strategies to reach into the culture of our community.
3. We have been labeled "charismatic" and "liberal" because we have a praise band, videos, that "evil" projector screen, and celebrative worship.

Such is the time warp that exists in Southern Baptist life (at least where I live). Even this morning, as I read the June 27 edition of the Western Recorder (KY Baptist newspaper), the lead story (page one!!) was an indepth, theological examination of the supposed evils of applause in church.

I rest my (our) case.

BTW ... I'm headed for the beach myself on Friday! St. George Island, Florida. I'm a surf fishing junkie. I have found that my passion for surf fishing is an awesome tool for meeting and sharing my faith with people. In fact, I like to have an extra chair beside me on the beach so that I can invite guests to sit down and talk while I fish. Now that I think about it, my witnessing methodology would look funny in one of those funky preacher suits, wouldn't it? ;)

David Sanders said...

You guys could have stayed at the Sanders Villa last night. The wake up call would have consisted of Isaac (my 4 year-old) jumping in bed with you an Rachelle around 6:30 a.m.

Sounds like you two had a great time:A much deserved rest.

Roger Simpson said...


You are correct about changes in "dress codes" for business attire and for society generally.

I joined IBM as a Jr. Engineer in 1965. In those days the formally designated dress code was suit, WHITE shirt (not any color except white), and tie.

By the time I retired from IBM 31 years later (in 1996) I hardly ever put a suit on. I think maybe twice a year -- once for a funeral and another time for a retirement dinner for a guy I worked with.

After leaving IBM I worked as a Software Engineering Counsultant for 8 years in Silicon Valley. During that time I never wore a suit and tie. Now that I am retired here in Oklahoma I don't even own a suit.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

OKpreacher said...


Wade, glad you had time to get away and rest. Glad to hear you plan on blogging at least another year. Hope things go well tonight. You might write a post on how the service.

In Christ,


kevin said...

Wish I had been in the States--maybe I could have arranged to see you. Take your next vacation in the Philippines :)

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