Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I'm continuing my thoughts about growing older and changing in the process. I must admit that, after reading what someone said about twelve things that should NOT be done on anyone's blog, one of which was being too personal, [It's a real no-no.] I've had second thoughts. Then I had third thoughts. I think it may be a little like a clock. You have to decide what it's purpose is. If a clock's purpose is to tell time, and it is for me, then the shape color, size, and all the other characteristics don't matter, if it fails to tell time. If your purpose for a clock is to decorate a wall, whether it tells the correct time or not doesn't matter. The color does matter. So to determine the purpose of one's blog is essential. Mine is to be personal and relational. So if I shape or size it differently than some that's OK. If your purpose in reading blogs is NOT personal and relational...our purposes are like two ships passing in the night. I understand why you will exit this blog at this point. Thanks for coming this far.

For the rest of you, I've become something of a student of personalities. It doesn't matter to me at this point which school of thought about how personalities are explained you hold to, you have one. Personality that is. It is why yours' is the way it is that interests me. No one would doubt that there are certain aspects about one's personality that are in play from birth, but, that said, there are other reasons in play as to why we develop the one we have I would think.

Proverbs 23:7 says, in the context of eating with a selfish person, be careful because that selfish person is undoubtedly thinking a certain way in his heart and will act accordingly. This may be the case for all of us. We act as we are thinking in our heart. KJV says "for as he thinks in his heart so is he." Aren't we all!! Another translation says "As he calculates the cost to himself, this is what he does." Don't we all!!

In fact, my contention is that your thinking about your situation in life early on helps you create actions that are basically to protect yourself from whatever you see as imagined or real threats to you personally and, generally, this is an unconscious, though very real activity. Those actions or ways of behaving become encased in what we call personality. Call them what you will, type A, sanguine, phlegmatic, number 8 on the enneagram, or any other school of thought, what you have is your personality.

It is this pattern of behavior based on our thinking that is in the process of change through out life. It is this understanding that has opened so many hidden rooms in my own life that I had refused to look into. It is this that I'm convinced is, in fact, the flesh, that has to be put to death experiencially in a believer, myself included, and can be when the finished work of the Cross is adequately and scripturally understood.

Some Christians speak of their aggressive and controlling behavior and attitudes and wind up saying, "That's just the way I am." [Or worse.. that it's because they're a Prophet.] Others speak of their struggles with addictions and say, "That's just the way I am." [Or worse.. that it's OK to do this.] While others see their timidity and fear of rejection and say, "That's just the way I am." [Or worse.. it's your fault for what you did to me.]

Often I see those same people in their religious or christian setting and their behavior is no different than before they came to Christ. It just has a new language/verbiage and they are the same old person even if they have changed addictions or some behaviors, all with a new religious pattern to them of course. That was me for so many years I can't count them.

My contention is.."just the way we are".. is what we are described as when the scriptures speak of who we are 'in Christ.' That is who we are in our person-hood. A new creation, a peculiar [high-priced] people, a loved and forgiven person, and a myriad of other things are used in scripture to describe who we REALLY are. But how we act has to catch up with reality. Remember, we've spent years perfecting how we act [for self protection and self benefit basically] and now we're told to act differently. [Self-giving and being there for others basically.] It will take some time and some honesty about ourselves to learn to act like who I really am in Christ. There is no doubt that it also takes the power of God to accomplish this change, but His power is ours in the Person of the Holy Spirit in us. My point is that it comes through the same truth..."as a person thinks within himself/herself so is he/her in their behavior."

Here's the kicker. It isn't JUST that I've learned to think a new way, [The Truths of Scripture] but I'm beginning to challenge the protectionism patterns I developed during my life. I'm learning to open dark rooms inside and see WHY and WHAT I've hidden there. I know full well I CAN respond in the present in the same manner I did before I came to Christ. I catch myself doing it frequently. It even feels kind of comfortable. [Remember I used to define myself BY that behavior.] It is certainly agonizing when I try to do things differently. Hold it. Maybe that's what it means to 'die daily.' It sure feels like death sometimes. But every time I'm willing to go there...I come out on the other side...different. Maybe that's the new person I am in Christ. All of this is simply the work of the Cross and who Christ is as my life.. faithed..as real..[because it is] in any given moment. I do know it is a journey. I do know it's the one I'm on. I do know it ain't easy but, wow, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now, at the risk of being personal, I'm going to tell of an illustration or two from my own walk next time. :)

Paul B.


Kevin Bussey said...


Who said not to be personal? I disagree. I love reading and learning from people on the internet. When I think about all of the friends I've met via the net and then get together in person, I rejoice. I feel like I already know them from their writings or videos.

I enjoy reading your insight and of course hanging out with you in person!

Have a great day!

Paul Burleson said...


Honestly, I'm not sure but what the person who said that may have had more of a personal thing like family issues in mind. I may have brought my own interpretation to his words. But, that said, I do believe my personal approach makes some preachers unconfortible. A few have told me so. I understand that and do believe a line could be crossed that might not be the best. But I'm in your camp, which is pretty obvious. :)

I hope the new work is going well and give your great family a big 'hello' for me.

Paul Burleson said...

Make that 'comfortable.' I have no idea where that spelling came from, sorry.

Bryan Riley said...

Fantastic post and great definition of what it means to die daily.

Paul Burleson said...


I began using that interpretive concept for the "flesh" after I heard Stuart Briscoe define 'flesh' with these words..."spell it backwards but drop the h." Hence..'self.'

But I didn't know what 'self' was my problem. When I saw I was a new creation in Christ [the new me by grace] I decided the 'self' that is problematic was the one I had created for 'self protection.' My 'personality self.' It certainly takes faithing the real work of the Cross for that 'self' to die. I think you really did pick up on what I was saying.

Good to hear from you again.

Anonymous said...

Great article...isn't there an old saying like the finer things in life only get better with age...of course arei't most bad for you...cheese, wine (ok to mention that on a Baptist blog? HA!)
Hey I want to take you up on that invite for us to have lunch or breakfast...you can look at me and tell lunch ministry is one of my favorites...sometimes twice a day! I am in the Arlington area for at least 4 more weeks so if you come close email me. Is there any stuff out yet how we can participate with the Antioch Church Network? I missed the second day you know.
God's Best!
Ron Fisher

Cal said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing Paul.