1. I like the city of Indianapolis. Downtown is very clean. The convention center is a good set-up. The people seem nice. Public transportation is reasonably priced, and convenient. The skyline is good.
2. I learned a lesson this year; I will never again choose a hotel that is not on the official SBC list of convention hotels. I thought I found a great deal on a hotel that was not on the official list, but when I got there, it was old, dirty, and scary. Fortunately, Travelocity refunded my money. Unfortunately, I could only find one available room in all of downtown... very nice, but a wee bit more than I budgeted for.
2a. I feel the same way about hotels that I feel about restaurants. I like the moderately priced ones much better than the expensive ones. I’ll take an Applebee's-style restaurant over candles and tablecloth every time. (Although Applebee's has lately fallen out of my favor, but that’s a whole other blog.) Same with hotels... Why do I want to stay in an expensive hotel that charges me $9.95 for internet and doesn’t provide continental breakfast, when I can stay in a Sleep Inn and get both for free? I don’t get it.
3. Frank Page has been a gracious, articulate, and unifying president of the SBC. I am sad to see his term expire. Six men were nominated for president this year. Dr. John Marshall of Second Baptist-Springfield (one of my role-models) nominated an international missionary named Avery Willis for president, which was good enough for my vote. In the end, the winner was Johnny Hunt, perhaps the SBC’s best known pastor. He will do a good job.
4. I am in the convention hall right now. Richard Land (chairman of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission) is speaking, and just said radical Islam is the greatest threat to America today. Land said radical Islam is at physical and spiritual war with us, and we had better be at war with them. David Clippard made a similar comment at the Missouri Baptist Convention a couple years ago, and the national media made hay with it. Land is one of the most influential evangelicals in America. Whereever the media is sitting in this room, they are salivating.
5. My director of missions, Jim Wells, does a great job as the SBC registration secretary. Jim has been elected to this position, (which oversees messenger registration, ballot votes, etc.), for several years in a row. You will not meet a sweeter guy.
6. You see some weird things... For several years, the convention has been protested by an advocate group for homosexuality, who accused Southern Baptists of provoking hate crimes against homosexuals. (An accusation without merit.) Normally this group is fairly tame but, at the 2002 convention in St. Louis, they actually broke into the convention hall and interrupted the president’s address. Police were called in with riot gear. (That was my first convention, and it made quite an impression!)... This year, I have not seen that group. But, ironically, we are being protested by a group (I will not justify their existence by mentioning their name) who claims the SBC is too liberal regarding homosexuality. Their protest consisted of holding up signs saying, “Your preacher is a whore.” ... “God hates fags.” ... “Southern Baptists enable gays.” ... and a sign proclaiming “Baptist Sin,” complete with an explicit picture. Bizarre. The scary thing is that these people are operating under the banner of the Lord Jesus. As a rule of thumb, if both the far left and far right aren’t happy with you, it's a pretty good indicator your position (in this case, "hate the sin, but love the sinner") is right where it should be.
7. The funniest line from the convention so far, came from a Korean evangelist who received an award. Speaking of a time earlier in his life when he knew very little English, he said he was introduced by an American pastor who said he was a “model preacher.” He didn’t know what “model” meant, so he looked it up in the dictionary, and it said “a small imitation of the real thing.” Funny.
8. The Gaithers are like rock stars at the Southern Baptist Convention. The convention always has the best worship leaders in the nation, but when the Gaithers take the stage, the “older crowd” absolutely lights up. It’s fun to watch. I am not a big Southern Gospel fan, but I do have to admit those guys are pretty good.
9. Kmart has good clothes for fat boys. I know this, because I opened my suitcase to discover my khaki pants had a huge rip in the rear end. As my wife said, "Better to find out at the hotel than at the convention!"
10. I miss my wife!