Monday, October 27, 2008


I've noticed something. People are people. It generally doesn't matter if they call themselves Christians or atheists or Democrats or Republicans or ministers or Americans. They still act like people.

Case in point. [Actually three points hereafter called "snapshots."] One is when I see people angrily react to what they perceive as failure and go to the opposite end of the spectrum to correct it. [Snapshot One.]

I've seen it in church life. A pastor is perceived as not a good people person [though he is a great bible teacher] and, upon his leaving, the people go to a people guy with a winsome personality whose preaching is geared to feeding the children biologically and spiritually. No ability in the pulpit but all the kids of both kind love him. It's wonderful. For a while. Then he's in trouble [the attention span of children being what it is] having never changed from who he was at the beginning of his local ministry. He's just himself. But now he's not enough for them.

Or a pastor is a great person but is as weak as motel coffee in those two cup packets, in the pulpit. That's weak, trust me. He leaves and and the people go after a thunder and lightning orator who disappears from Monday to Saturday except for those chosen few who are admitted into his presence. It's wonderful. For a while. They are, after all, hearing real preaching [since a sane conversation by the man in the pulpit with the people in the pew doesn't qualify as preaching] for the first time in a long time. The T@L guy has arrived. Then he's in trouble too, though he hasn't changed since his loud arrival. It's human nature. [Though redeemed human nature has the wherewithall to change behavior to relfect the Life of the Redeemer.]

But it's not just churches and church people. Observe the current political landscape as evidence. If Bush said it, did it, thought it, people want it different this time round. Those running run on not being Bushlike in anything. Trust them. They will be different. We will get it different, human nature being what it is, I promise.

The second "snapshot" is when things don't cost you something they wind up being under-appreciated and abused. It's just human nature.

I remember when I believed I had to begin charging a non-refundable registration fee for the couples attending a pastors and wives seminar Mary and I taught in the eighties and nineties. Fifty couples invited, planned for, registered, expected, but half didn't show up. This was when there was no charge. So charge we did. Non-refundable pre-registration fee of twenty-five dollars a couple. We charged. They paid. They showed up. That simple. [They didn't know that they had a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to the then Baptist Book store waiting for them upon arrival.] It's just human nature.

The political/social realm is no different. Remember the apartments of the Johnson "Great Society" era? Built and given free of charge to many in the inner cities which became a nightmare to the people living there because there was no sense of responsibility by many for what cost them nothing. Those apartments are now desolate, deserted and dangerous to all who have to remain. Some have been able to move to homes they own but whose mortgages were given with no requirement of ability to pay or policies that forbade such loans being given to non-qualified persons. Human nature being what it is, I see no sense in making sure a free ride is given to anyone. But that's just me. I had a problem with those pastors mentioned above.

The final "snapshot" is when people, who disagree with you on a point politically, philosophically, or theologically, and they can't persuade you otherwise, begin to assign to you motives that, to them, proves their argument on the point being discussed should be accepted.

I have come to a position of seeing the scriptures differently in meaning than I once did concerning women in ministry. My change is because of a new understanding of the text, historical context, and intention of the authors I hadn't seen before.

But upon writing or talking of it with some, I'm said, by some of those some, to be fearful of not being accepted by my culture and with that overshadowing desire in my heart, I will certainly one day wind up not calling homosexual actions sinful because of my fear of not being culturally relevant. I think they have revealed human nature again. Assigning a motive for a new position when the argument can't be won on the basis of the text alone.

Of course, these folks probably believe I said what I said in snapshot two because I'm racially prejudiced. My motive had to be that. [In their eyes.] The fact that my heart is known only to God and is often unknown to even me and must be challenged by me regularly doesn't matter. They know.

Politically I see the same thing. The presidential debates illustrate that sufficiently.

Snapshots of fallen nature.

People angry and going to the other extreme of what they perceive to be bad actions.

People accepting what costs them nothing and under-appreciating it ultimately.

People who are sure they know why someone holds a different view than do they and trumpet the motive they are sure they know as evidence of the reason to trust their opinion on the issue

I can let it go in politics. I really expect little else. But I'm thinking that judgment may need to really begin in the House of God.

I realize I'm drawing attention to the problem of human nature. The curing of the problem of housing, the poor, pastoral needs of a church, a political race running from the last eight years are all issues that need thoughtful and deliberate actions. But human nature needs the gospel. Let's leave the other things as secondary and stay primary on the gospel.

Paul B.


Bob Cleveland said...


Well spoken. It reminds me of so many stories that resonate with this. Two in particular:

First, a real one .. there was a horse who was so superior to all others that it was expected to win, I believe it was, the Kentucky Derby. When it came in last, the TV commentator said "It just goes to show you .. horse are only human...".

The other is David's purchase of the threshing floor, on which to offer sacrifices. When the owner didn't want money for it, David said "I will not give unto the Lord, that which costs me nothing". That verse has helped me with some big decisions, and has been most helpful in counseling folks now and again. In one case, it led to a major career change, which turned out GLORIOUSLY for the lady I was talking to at the time.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for being so faithful to read and comment. I really enjoy what you have to say here and so many other places.

Paul Burleson said...


I assure you I know it is "Bob." Sorry. [Same as I know it is "relevant" instead of "revelant."] Oh well!

Cheryl Schatz said...


I love your writing! I especially liked this quote:

"Assigning a motive for a new position when the argument can't be won on the basis of the text alone."

That quote was very eye-opening. It took away the smoke screen that shows why people move on to your probable "future beliefs". It is because of their realization that they cannot win the argument on the text alone. Thanks!

Paul Burleson said...


What a delight to have you stop by and comment. I'm one of your greatest fans and promoters. Every pastor I'm with in a meeting now hears of you and your writing. My order for the new DVD on the Trinity is forth coming. Keep up the good work.

Aussie John said...


I really appreciated this article. Thank you. Ditto, Cheryl.

In the secular realm Christians are willing to learn new things which may further their status,careers and incomes. Very few Christians seem to realise,are willing to come to realization, or encouraged by leaders to realize, that the spiritual life, from beginning to end is a continual learning/growing process. I am delighted that I can still have those "eureka" moments when the Holy Spirit lifts the shutters.

Your blog certainly says that you agree there is no use-by-date on Christians of every vintage, learning from God.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

Your last paragraph says it all for me. thanks

Chuck Andrews said...

Hey Paul

Good writing. The only problem is that I'm human nature. I realize it and ask the Holy Spirit to teach me and show me before the fact rather than after. Looking forward to the realm where our nature will be changed and the society we are in will be void of human nature.


Paul Burleson said...


That society we will be in will cetainly be fully redeemed human nature clothed in a fully redeemed human [not earthly but heavenly] body won't it. Oh wonder the hymn writer said "What a day, GLORIOUS day that will be."

Cheryl Schatz said...

Thank you Pastor Paul. I may have to credit you for the word spreading throughout the US. God is so good!

I am also reminded how much we need the Lord and his work on our behalf. I just got a letter from a singles ministry group from a New York church who told me that they had heard about the work I am doing for the Lord and they are lifting me up in prayer. They said that their prayers for me are because they admire my courage and want me to continue in the ministry work. I am totally blown away by people, men like you and others including this singles ministry from a church that I have never been to and people that I have never yet met in person who would care enough to support the ministry I am working so hard to do for the Lord. I am encouraged and blessed beyond belief!