Monday, February 20, 2017


In churches I've pastored for over forty years I've had a standard for my life while in that ministry and I truly hope I've carried it over to the present day. That standard is, to the best of my ability, I tried to learn to evaluate people based on my first-hand experience with them and NOT on what someone else told me about them. This was because second-hand information can be very misleading and inaccurate to say the least. It COULD even have an agenda about which one might be unaware.

Case in point is the day I moved onto the field as pastor of a church in Texas a few decades ago. There was a letter from a former pastor in the middle drawer of the pastor's desk addressed to "The Next Pastor." What I read was a warning which encouraged me to be sure and watch my back where certain people in the fellowship were concerned. [in other words, DON'T TRUST them!] It honestly scared me to death. He had left me a list of people that I obviously did not know personally, including a deacon who lived across the street from the parsonage and the pastor's personal secretary. [That certainly caused me some concern.] I promptly put the letter in a bottom drawer and, surprisingly, soon forgot about it.

A couple of years later I came upon that letter. I read the forgotten list again. Much to my surprise, the named deacon had become like a GRANDFATHER to our kids and the secretary was a JEWEL...from my perspective. Lesson learned. One person's evaluation of another MAY NOT wind up being the definition of your relationship with that same person. Thus, my suggestion is to start fresh with your evaluation of ANY individual no matter WHAT is told you about them. Beware of TRIANGULATION in ANY relationship. [Triangulation__ "a manipulative device to engineer a negative opinion between two people, known as playing one (person) against another."]

This lesson is proving even more important in this internet era when statements and charges can be made about someone with little ability to REALLY know the truth. Josh McDowell once said something like this, 'The abundance of information [on the internet] will NOT lead to CERTAINTY; it WILL lead to pervasive skepticism.' [BINGO!] He went on to say,'The Internet has leveled the playing field. TRUTH has now taken a back seat [Devaluing truth__a deliberate downward adjustment] as SKEPTICS and MIS-INFORMATION [and sometimes even lies] are given equal access and validity.'

I regret to say, I haven't always lived up to the standard of NON-TRIANGULATION learned early on, but when I find I'm not, I repent as quickly as I realize the failure. It is a lesson I don't want to forget which is a challenge with the use of the Internet.

Paul B.

Monday, January 09, 2017


One of these days VERY SOON I'm going to post a lengthy study and research paper I've done on the biblical materials about the subject of WORSHIP, particularly as it relates to what is commonly called the Regulative Principle and the Normative Principle. Put in simple terms those principles are respectively, “One can ONLY do things in worship services that the Scriptures give clear warrant to do," [Regulative] or, "One can DO anything they please in worship services as long as it is not condemned in scripture." [Normative]

I believe BOTH are aiming for something good. The Regulatives [Reformed folks basically] don’t want Scripture to be silenced. They want to take textual authority seriously. They don’t want Scripture to be a dusty set of standing orders that only functions to rule out certain things. I understand that and applaud them for it!

While the Normatives [Congregationalists basically] don't want to tie the hands of the Holy Spirit in leading us into new expressions of worship that can produce a legitimate hearing from the culture and might even give means to the Body of Christ expressing their giftedness. My understanding and applause continues!

But, as you can imagine if you know me at all, I think BOTH may be missing it a bit, and as a result congregations are being led into methods and means that may very well ROB them of adequately FULFILLING the scriptures themselves AND/OR manipulating them to have an experience that is just a bit short of being entertained. [Maybe not short of it at all!]

I'm convinced BOTH the Regulative AND the Normative may very well be MISSING what I see as the most important New Testament principle of worship which, for the lack of a better term, [I actually read it somewhere] I would call the EDIFYING PRINCIPLE of worship. This Principle is introduced to us from the text and gives us a freedom to be both creative AND discerning and would MAXIMIZE the gifts, talents and abilities of MEN AND WOMEN who are in the fellowship. Now I'm REALLY APPLAUDING!

This would allow us to get back to the textual guidance for the original purpose of corporate worship which is, as I see the text, NOT for a vertical emphasis, where it's all about FORGETTING each other and focusing on GOD ALONE, but , as the text shows, IS for a horizontal emphasis, [still talking about Corporate Worship here] where we focus on all the "ONE ANOTHER'S" of the scriptures and God is GLORIFIED [honored, experienced and seen to be present] in it all. You can see I believe that the "worship hour" may wind up having very little difference from "small groups," whether they're called community groups or flocks or___whatever! Corporate Worship is to be a congregational experience and NOT an Old Testament High-Priest experience! 

More to come later.

Monday, January 02, 2017


I've been busy with the holidays and have had little time to write. So here is a somewhat short, maybe even a bit simple but I trust an on target statement, about application of the scripture when it is being taught.
I like real application of scripture when it is taught. I am NOT talking about the kind of application that most Christians think of, as in "What should I DO for God?" I mean the APPLICATION that leads one to say, "I hear and am OVERWHELMED by what GOD HAS DONE FOR ME and will respond!"

This is because,

UNTIL__ a Christian realizes they don't HAVE to do ONE thing for God, OR try to change themselves to obtain the FAVOR of God, OR make any commitment, promise or vow to God to earn that favor, and UNTIL__ a Christian knows GOD ACCEPTS THEM and LOVES THEM just as they are because HE HAS ALREADY DONE FOR THEM WHAT THEY CANNOT DO themselves, namely, forgiven and cleansed them, is present within them to progressively empower and change them, given them every spiritual blessing they will ever need to live life which has come by Grace through Christ__their FOCUS will be on the WRONG place [their sins] instead of the RIGHT PLACE which is their spiritual portfolio IN CHRIST! THAT'S where you START with application!

[THAT is a long sentence and may well need reading AGAIN!]

Most people read the Bible as if it is a rule book for behavior, when in reality God gave us the Bible as a love letter declaring the good news that He requires NOTHING of sinners and describing in that love letter what has ALREADY been provided sinners precisely and completely, IN CHRIST JESUS! [Remember, the Old Testament is the ROOT and New Testament is the FLOWER both pointing to the ONE PERSON of CHRIST]

If we don't understand this, when we fail, and we will, we would simply grit our teeth and try harder to DO good and NOT DO bad and would wind up being discouraged, defeated, and maybe even disillusioned.

Whereas, when TRUE APPLICATION [What He's ALREADY done on our behalf] is made when the scriptures are taught, we then can FAITH IT TO BE SO and we then can choose to do or live IN RESPONSE to His Grace and Mercy. That's obedience [serving] birthed out of faith and love BECAUSE we know He FIRST LOVED US!

Paul B.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


I make no distinction between sacred "things" and secular "things." ALL "things" ARE finite and only God is infinite. I view God as the "SOURCE" of all THINGS [The One from Whom all things come into being or are derived or obtained. See 1 Corinthians 3:21-23] ! And, I view all "things" as simply RESOURCES for life. [Things that are available for use or can be used for GOOD or BAD].

Romans 8:5 says this, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the THINGS OF THE FLESH, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the THINGS OF THE SPIRIT." [ESV]

"Walking after the "things" of the flesh" [ a no-no] is simply using or seeing "THINGS" as the SOURCE for making life worth living. Any THING. American citizenship, family, appearance, relationships, job, recreation, preaching, church attendance, bible reading, giving, you name it, can be seen as the SOURCE for what makes life worth living and, thus, become an idol. That THING is then taking the place of God in life.

"Walking after the "things" of the Spirit" [a yes-yes] is simply using or seeing "THINGS" as a RESOURCE for making life a little better, but, all the while, seeing God as the SOURCE of it all. ANY thing, such as my American citizenship, family, appearance, relationships, job, recreation, preaching, church attendance, bible reading, giving, you name it. can be correctly seen as a RESOURCE for making life a little better or more enjoyable and, thus, would NOT be an idol. God Himself is correctly seen as the SOURCE for all of life!

All finite "things" will pass away. Only Infinite God will not pass away. Nor shall we, once our mortality [finite] has one day at the resurrection put on immortality [Infinite].

So the living of life ISN'T a list of things TO DO or NOT DO in terms of priorities. It is, however, experiencing and celebrating God in ALL THINGS in life and enjoying all those things as resources He has delivered to you in your particular realm of existence on planet earth.

[1 Corinthians 3:21-23]

AND, it is being a RESOURCE yourself for others along the journey choosing to introducing them to your SOURCE with the gospel message when possible. [Christ IS after all, the answer for life and life ABUNDANTLY.]

Thus, I make no distinction between SACRED "things" and SECULAR "things." All of LIFE is sacred and seeing Him as the SOURCE and enjoying HIM is the purpose for any THING!

Paul B.