Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Most of you know that I've just concluded a sixth surgery in three years. Surgery has become my middle name it seems. Many of you have called or written to encourage and tell of praying for me. Appreciated is the word from me to you.

I will admit that along the way the comments about it all have proven interesting. Among all the very caring and concerned comments there were a few, only a few, that gave me pause. It seems there are those out there who seem to assume that healing is our divine right if we'll just trust more or get more people praying. It's almost as if the NUMBER praying adds weight to an assurance that God will do so...heal that is. [I guess if I had, in fact, died on the operating table it would have been a testament to a total lack of faith or prayer.]

It is a given that so long as we're here bound to our "earth-suit" as Bill Gillham calls our body, there will be pain. The presence of sin is the basic reason for the presence of pain for sure, but, there could be other reasons for pain that we'll miss if we're not careful with our Western mindset as Christians.

In one of my blog post of long ago I wrote these words.."Someone has said that christians are the living stones of the true Temple God is preparing for eternity. That preparation, while for eternity, is done here during our sojourn on this earth. Rugged and shapeless the stones are at the beginning. But the hammer and chisel do their work. And, because these stones are living, there is always pain associated with the process." The end result is a life that fulfills His purpose NOT in spite of the presence of pain but BECAUSE of the presence of pain.

When I write this way I'm always aware that too much of the time, people have assumed that since Jesus came to give us" life and life abundantly" the presence of any pain is indication we're missing out on life. This, of course, is both sad and unscriptural. Jesus said "I've come that you might have life and life abundantly." But that "life" is not "bios" [life] but "Zoe." [Life] The difference is, one [bios] is simply the cataloging of events, [biography] while the other is an inner quality of life independent of ANY AND ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. The failure to recognize this may be the reason the Church of the third world may well know more of the power of God in their lives than does the western Church. It takes God's power to live life to it's fullest when the things around you are so painful and there is little worth celebrating. But it may be that such a painful backdrop is what will reveal whether it is "Zoe" one is living, as opposed to "Bios," which doesn't take Jesus to live at all.

Pleasure and comfort in life are not sinful. Don't hear me saying that at all. Do hear me say they may be the enemy of the best in life if we define life in their terms instead of the biblical terms of suffering. It is there [in suffering] His power is made perfect and true life can be lived beyond the circumstances that confound and confuse so many in these violent and hurtful times.

So, we can rest in His providence. If His providence brings pleasure....we shall enjoy it. If His providence brings pain....we shall embrace it. But He does not work without pattern or design. That whether pain or pleasure or a mixture of the two.

My good friend Bob Cleveland wrote me this yesterday and has become my closing illustration of it all.......Bob said..

"Had to see my family doc for followup on the liver enzymes, this past Tuesday. He said maybe we should repeat the CAT scan they did 12/2, just to see how all those enlarged lymph nodes and that shadow by the appendix are doing. Yesterday he calls and says the shadow looks like an "appendiceal mucousele" and I need to see a surgeon. And oh, by the way, you have a small abdominal aorta aneurysm; normal is 2cm, you're 3cm, we start talking surgery at 5cm so not to worry. He did concede, however, that the fact that my mother died of a ruptured abdominal aneurysm migh be somewhat disquieting for me.

Surgeon calls and says we had a cancellation so I saw him yesterday afternoon. He says yep, the appendix thing isn't dangerous but could be if we leave it there so let's get on with surgery. Well, that's fine but I'm on Plavix for the stent they put in last April so I need to be off that for 5 days before they'll carve on the body, so need clearance from the cardiologist for that.

They called him right then and guess what .. he had a cancellation .. so I see him at 11:45 this morning."


It is that final "WhoopEEEEEEEEE" that I'm talking about.

Paul B.


Becky Dietz said...

Just curious...are you pecking this one keystroke at a time with a bum arm? I'm amazed you can type!
Good word, Paul.

Paul Burleson said...


It is, in fact, one key at a time. It took me all afternoon to put together the above post.

Bob Cleveland said...


I'm going to read this post to my small group tonight. Not for my part, but for your insight evident in the rest of it.

I'll read the part you included, of course, but only as it's relevant to what you said. These guys get enough of me, already.

Anonymous said...


It's me, Christiane.
I left a note over at Caesura, Aussie John's blog, that you had started your blog up again,
but I see he hasn't commented here yet.

He lives in Queensland, which is getting hard-hit by flooding, and I wondered if we could pray for his safety, and for the safety of his family. He seems such a dear person.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant to address Paul.
But hey to Bob also, and our prayers are also being said for your health.

Chris Ryan said...


This was the topic of a sermon I prepared for Christmas Eve. Sorta a "Give thanks that God has found His way to you because of the atrocities and silliness around you, not in spite of them." Then, irony of ironies, I got there to preach and there was another local preacher who had a full sermon prepared and wanted me to do a five minute talk on an entirely different passage. So I had about 20 minutes to put together my thoughts. And all I could really think was that I was glad my heart had been meditating on the theme of the other sermon all week. I couldn't help but wonder if I had to write that sermon so that I would be prepared for what did occur.

In an accountability group I was once a part of, when we had weeks that roller-coastered between good and bad, moral and immoral, we always called those weeks "abundant." And they were. We were experiencing it all. Since then, I've thought that was inherently part of what Jesus meant by "life abundant." By knowing Him, we gain the ability to truly experience it all: every height and every depth and every bit in between. That has also made it easier for me to see God's presence in each experience. Thanks for reaffirming that. It's always nice to know you aren't alone adrift in oceans of strange thoughts. : )

Thanks for blogging again. Hope that it isn't too long before you can use two or three fingers to type!

Rex Ray said...

Paul said: “It seems there are those out there who seem to assume that healing is our divine right if we'll just trust more or get more people praying. It's almost as if the NUMBER praying adds weight to an assurance that God will do so...heal that is.”

Reply: I couldn’t agree more. If ‘more praying’ added life, in theory, no one would ever die.

I haven’t checked your blog in quite a while…glad I did today. Good to see the ‘old gang’ writing again. I miss them on your son’s blog also.

I smile about the warning of being friendly with everyone. The lion hasn’t lain down with the lamb yet.

Anonymous said...

Hey to CHRIS and REX RAY . . .
Hope all is well.


Paul Burleson said...


No problem. Ane you are certainly right about Aussie John.He's one of the best.


Now that is funny and appreciated. Perfect illustration. Still only the index fiNger but more before long I'm sure.


You've made my day commenting. I feel like "The gang's all here."

You're correct also that the lamb has yet to lay with the lion. But, since you and I are Kingdom folks who have the power to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, you and I will do just fine with the requirements for respect
and graciousness won't we!!! :0

Rex Ray said...

Hi…it’s me – Rex
I’ve always liked the way you say “it’s me”. Have you heard the song that says: “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me oh Lord; standing in the need of prayer”?

You’ve expressed my heart in saying you’ve missed ‘our’ blogs. “Things’ in life seem to get harder with time, but God gives us that time to grow stronger to meet them. For example, take what Bob and Paul are going through. Thirty years ago, they may not have been tough enough to handle it.

When I told the deacons that you’re known to get on my case, several said halleluiah. Looking forward to your preaching…think I’ll buy some steel-toe shoes.