Wednesday, December 26, 2012



This by Oswald Chambers is a great way to start the new year. Hear and heed, it is light for the year ahead.

“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was.” John 11:5-6.
"Jesus stayed two days where He was without sending a word. We are apt to say,’I know why God has not answered my prayer, it is because I asked for something wrong.' That was not the reason Jesus did not answer Martha and Mary__ they desired a right thing. It is quite true God does not answer some prayers because they are wrong, but that is so obvious that it does not need a revelation from God to understand it. God wants us to stop understanding in the way we have understood and get into the place He wants us to get into, i.e., He wants us to know how to rely on Him."
"God’s silences are His answers. If we only take as answers those that are visible to our senses, we are in a very elementary condition of grace. Can it be said of us that Jesus so loved us that He stayed where He was because He knew we had a capacity to stand a bigger revelation? Has God trusted us with a silence, a silence that is abso­lutely big with meaning? That is His answer. The manifestation will come in a way beyond any pos­sibility of comprehension. Are we mourning be­fore God because we have not had an audible re­sponse? Mary Magdalene was weeping at the sep­ulchre—what was she asking for? The dead body of Jesus. Of Whom did she ask it? Of Jesus Him­self, and she did not know Him! Did Jesus give her what she asked for? He gave her something in­finitely grander than she had ever conceived—a risen, living impossible-to-die Lord. How many of us have been blind in our prayers? Look back and think of the prayers you thought had not been answered, but now you find God has an­swered them with a bigger manifestation than you ever dreamed."
"God has trusted you in the most intimate way He could trust you, with an absolute silence, not of despair but of pleasure, because He saw you could stand a much bigger revelation than you had at the time. Some prayers are followed by silence because they are wrong, others because they are bigger than we can under­stand. Jesus stayed where He was—a positive stay­ing, because He loved them. Did they get Lazarus back? They got infinitely more; they got to know the greatest truth mortal beings ever knew—that Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. It will be a wonderful moment for some of us when we stand before God and find that the prayers we clamoured for in early days and imagined were never answered, have been answered in the most amazing way, and that God’s silence has been the sign of the answer. If we always want to be able to point to something and say, ‘This is the way God answered my prayer,’ God cannot trust us yet with His silence. Here is where the devil comes in and says, ‘Now you have been praying a wrong prayer.’ You can easily know whether you have__test it by the word of God. If it has been a prayer to know God better, a prayer for the fulness of the Holy Ghost, a prayer for the interpretation and understanding of God’s word, it is a prayer in accordance with God’s will. You say, ‘But He has not answered.’ He has, He is so near to you that His silence is the answer. His silence is big with terrific meaning that you can­not understand yet, but presently you will. Time is nothing to God. Prayers were offered years ago and God answered the soul with silence; now He is giving the manifestation of the answer in a revelation that we are scarcely able to compre­hend."
Paul B.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I've just returned from an eight day ministry trip to Texas with two meetings back to back at two fine churches. I appreciate the comments that continued and the readership. Blogging is fun and a real part of my life and even my ministry in a manner of speaking I think.

That said however, it will be important for me to take a break for a short while. I'll be having surgery [left shoulder rotator cuff] this next Thursday and the recovery will be a bit more extensive than normal because the tear is complete and the tendon is loose from the bone.  So I'm planning to take the time between now and the first of the year to recover.

I may periodically post if something happens that I feel compelled to write about, but that would only be a couple of times at most I'm sure.

I make it sound like the world is breathlessly awaiting my next post don't I!!   ;)

Really, I'm just attempting to let those half a dozen or so who read my blog know what is going on with me.   LOL

Seriously, I do enjoy this and will be doing it again soon. Thanks for being a part of what is happening.

Paul B.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


In the history of the Church the message of the gospel has often been won or lost at various times with the battle being centered on two extremes, either one of which is heretical and will deprive the gospel of its content and its power as a message of redemption. So both heresies are equally dangerous and damning. I want to address those two heresies. 

The first of those extremes is when our message becomes simply one of moralism. That is conforming to certain principles of behavior as right or wrong and having our spirituality measured by those standards. Paul the Apostle spent much of his time in the New Testament tearing down the message of principled behavior being the measure of our lives when he repeatedly told the Jews that even The Law Of Moses wasn't the standard by which they were to be redeemed OR measured after salvation. That Law was the school master to drive them to the way of redemption, which was a Person. Paul's brilliant declaration of this fact is recorded in his letter to the Galatians, particularly chapters 3-5.

Interestingly enough, this same heresy seems to capture the minds of some who have professed faith in Christ. [Paul found the same problem with those early believers to whom he wrote.] They somehow seem convinced that it is now their job to attain their sanctification by that same moralistic principled way of measuring life. ["If I, when I, because I, THEN, He will.."]

Paul challenged the Galatians to remember that their sanctification was found in the same person from whom they received their salvation and that they were to walk in sanctification in the same faith by which they were redeemed. Remembering this would deliver them from thinking that their life was to be somehow measured by post-salvation law-keeping and remind them that it was, in fact, to be evidenced by a genuine law of love. [Galatians 5:1-14]

Moralism, either before or after salvation, is dangerous and damning for real Christianity. It is heretical.

A second heresy that is just as dangerous and damning is what is popularly called, in theological terms, antinomianism. [No Law or lawless] This is the idea that there are no claims for obedience once you are a Christian and because of grace there is no standard for behavior at all. Some would admit to the fact that the gospel does make demands upon sinners as seen in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9, Romans 1:5; 16:26 and other places where it calls upon them trust His atoning work and under His Lordship, become His disciples. But they then attempt to diminish having any standard of behavior as not possible post-salvation for grace to be real. They mistake grace as a license to do whatever they please with no consequenses 

This may be because they know our present society isn't interested in anyone telling them what to do, so, in their way of thinking, subtle though it be, we must adapt our message of the gospel to rule out any standard demanded of those that believe. An easy-believism is the result because the voice heard delivering the message now does so with no authority to it and no power in it. [This because the gospel is lost.] This is both dangerous and damning in its consequences. 

The problem lies in knowing which commands are really for believers and why we obey them AND why the commands of the Law of Moses and obedience to them post-salvation are not those commands.  It's a big problem but one that needs to be faced and understood.There is a genuine standard and law for believers and it found, as always, in the Person of Christ. He IS our Sanctification and He IS our Law-giver.

I'm going to use one verse to illustrate the difference in both the standard, which is new, and the motive, which is new also, for keeping the New Covenant standard for believers. The principle found in this illustration will hold for all commands in that New covenant relationship we have with the Person of Christ, who is our Lord.

John 13:34 states clearly that Jesus is giving a NEW commandment. It says,,."A new commandment I give unto you; That you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

How is it that He calls this a "new" commandment when it was clearly stated in Leviticus 19:8, by Moses, that Israel was to love their neighbors as themselves? Jesus even repeated this Old Covenant commandment of Moses when questioned about the greatest of the commandments in Matthew 22:40. "To love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind and your neighbor as yourself. On this hangs all the law and the prophets." It is quite obvious that loving your neighbor is an old commandment.

But what we have here, when understood, is quite revealing. It is this..

The commandment of Moses is__"Love your neighbor as yourself."

The commandment of Christ is__"Love one another as I have loved you."

So a new twist, even a bit of an unusual novelty [having no precedent] is found here by Jesus introducing Himself as the standard for love. The old criterion had been "as you love yourself." But the New Commandment from the New Lawgiver uses the love of Christ Himself," as I have loved you," as the new model.

We wind up with..

One___A new Lawgiver___Christ Himself.
Two___A new Law___Love as we're loved.
Three__A new motive__Because He's loved us we love.
Four___A new power__His love is shed abroad through us by the Holy Spirit. [Romans 5:5]

It really is true that, as the American Standard says, "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new." [11 Corinthians 5:17]

So, when that Spirit enters us, His first work is.."The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which was given unto us." [Romans 5:5]  What He gives us is not only the understanding of how greatly God loves us and the faith to receive it, but something almost as wonderful. He gives us the Love of God, as a genuine spiritual existence, as a Living Power, in our hearts. It cannot be otherwise, for as Andrew Murray says...

"The outpouring of the Spirit is the in-pouring of Love. This Love now possesses our heart: that one same Love with which God loves Jesus, and ourselves, and all His children, and which overflows to all the world, is within us, and is, if we know Him, and trust Him, and give up to Him, the power for us to live love too."

Our law is the law of love. And love will refrain from committing adultery with another man's wife, stealing his property, lying, and all the other things that damage relationships. When we do violate that standard of behavior, and we do, we will be broken and in confession admit it because of our love for Him. But it is His love that is our law.

Both moralism and antinomianism are heresies and are both dangerous to the gospel. Never forget that salvation by grace is not a salvation without demands. But that salvation and the consequential demands upon a disciple are fulfilled in a person who, as we discover how much He loves us, [or forgives, etc.]  we also are commanded to, desire to, and are empowered to love others. [And forgive, etc.]  And it is totally by grace through faith apart from any merit of any kind.

All the law and the prophets are fulfilled in the Person of Christ.

In summary...We died when He died and we were raised when He was raised so that we now have a new relationship with Him. It's a love relationship. This love relationship is what Christianity is all about. Christianity is not a religion, it's not doing something, but it's knowing someone. [1 John 2:3-4]  It is neither a set of rules as a system of morality, nor the absence of a standard. It's a unique love relationship with a Person who is the Son of God which impacts everything in life. [John 17:3]

 It is truly amazing Grace.

Paul B.

Saturday, October 06, 2012


Six years ago I started blogging. Nearly 500 posts later, with comments from 10 nations, I continue doing it. Someone may ask why a blog?

My answer back then, and still is, so I can address issues both theological and ministerial in a conversational way. I will, of course, be giving my view on the issues and will do so with the knowledge that my grasp of truth is finite and growing. I trust the Spirit to give understanding, as all Christians do, and am confident He does and will.

 My confidence in my ability to hear Him and to grasp the Truth, however, is not as strong. I've lived with the power of flesh and self too long to have much confidence there. But I will attempt to be open, honest, and careful in what I post so at least you will know where I stand.

I do, however, believe strongly that our ground of unity as believers is not found in agreement on issues or even in agreement on the nuances of "minor doctrine". I'm using the word "minor" here not meaning "unimportant" but unrelated to the essentials of salvation/eternity which are the majors in my way of thinking .

The basis of our unity one with another as Christians, which by the way we are never told to create but to maintain, is that the Spirit HAS ALREADY CREATED OUR UNITY, and that is on the basis of Christ alone and His work on the Cross, as Paul said to the Corinthians in the first three chapters of the First Corinthian letter.

If someone says Christ was human only and not the divine Son of God who died on the Cross for us, that person is not my brother. I will love them and share my life with them, but they are in need of the gospel. My brothers/sisters are those who name Jesus as Lord. And although we may be as different as daylight and dark in our understanding of some minor doctrines, our association with various denominations, our having differing views on some issues and our embracing of a multitude of various methods in mission and evangelism, we are still in unity as brothers and sisters in Christ.

So we are brothers/sisters because of who Christ is to us and our acceptance of what He accomplished on the Cross and the empty tomb. This obviously presupposes a confidence in the integrity of the Scriptures as they are the divinely inspired record of who He is and what He has accomplished.

This blog will address those issues, differences, and nuances, but as a brother in Christ. I will be doing what many others have been doing and some quite successfully. I only hope I can help lead the way in being gracious and kind to those who differ on issues and other things written about. For this to happen my goal will NOT be one of being right, but being honest and at the same time respectful, in other words, Christian. Then, perhaps, this little personal word on this particular blog, will be a help to many and an enjoyment to some.

Paul Burleson

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Definitions are completely necessary and constantly dangerous. Necessary, because to talk and act on a level playing field with each other we have to define things. Dangerous, because, well, let me say it in a quote, "Every definition is dangerous because when you give a simple and precise one you often end up missing significant aspects of the word defined." This is certainly true concerning the subject of my writing today. I'm talking about worship, and since the before mentioned danger may apply here, and it does, I want to tread softly.

What is worship? That's difficult to answer. One person said in his book entitled "Worship is a Verb" that true worshippers are never spectators in the scriptures because they are either hearing Him with the rapt attention He deserves or they are speaking to Him with the reverence, gratitude, and joy He deserves. That is certainly food for thought, but, maybe an illustration of the above quote about why definitions are dangerous.

Major Ian Thomas said this in a message that I heard him deliver,  "Worship is simply obedience." His message was taken from the Abraham/Isaac incident where Abraham, speaking to his servants telling them to wait as he was going to slay his son, used the words "the lad and I will go yonder and worship" [He did not know of the ram]  Abraham and Ian Thomas were right. Worship IS obedience. There is no greater worship than living a life of loving obedience. This is what Paul was referencing perhaps when he called it "our reasonable service" [the word is worship] in Romans 12 where he spoke of the presenting of our bodies a living sacrifice.

The word 'worship' as a verb means to treat or show the worth or value of someone. As a noun is speaks of the ways that reverence is shown. The Hebrew word for worship emphasizes bowing down or to do homage to God while the Greek words emphasize kissing the hand of or to serve. Putting it all together you have worship involving all that we are__our attitudes__our emotions__our actions__our mind__and our will responding to all He is and does. In worship we are occupied with God not ourselves.

The way we worship is a different thing altogether. Moving from recognizing that life itself is to be lived as worship and we are to live it in loving obedience thereby truly worshipping Him, I want to now discuss the ways and means we may use to express that worship of Him. More than that, I'm going to look at the ways and means we may have of worshipping Him together or corporately as the people of God. You could even call it 'styles' of worship or the 'manner' in which we do worship corporately. How do we do worship as a body of believers?

But first I want to address the two basic and, it even seems to me , intrinsic modes that people follow in corporate worship. [Or private too for that matter.] The first is what I call a 'performance' mode. We perform assuming God is the audience and as He observes us He desires we do what we are doing right and well. Then there is the 'relational' mode. We relate to Him and each other as persons present and involved in the moment. One lends itself to doing things correctly. [As if there were a standard] The other lends itself to relating to Him and others with relational authenticity. I opt for the second as you will not be surprised I'm sure, based on what Jesus said in John 4 about the hour coming and now is when they that truly worship will not worry about where [this mountain or Jerusalem] or even what you are doing, [sacrifices and feast days] but it will be in spirit and truth or relating in intimacy and truthfulness with God and each other. [John 4:20-26]

Now with the grunt work done, maybe we can address the title on this particular blog post.

But let me ask a question first. Who says we have to gather at 11:00 am on Sunday? Someone will remind me I'm sure that in the NT they gathered on the first day of the week. That's true. But where is it illustrated much less commanded in scripture that corporate worship is be on Sunday morning? You do realize that is a cultural concept__right? The early American culture, following after the European cultures, was basically rural and the people had to milk the cows, feed the chickens and do chores generally, before anything else, so they set a time well into the morning that allowed for such. 

In the NT culturally they undoubtedly met in the evening since we find that Paul preached one of his longer sermons and that tired young man fell asleep and fell out the window, but the sermon hadn't lasted all day. Only mine tend to do that. It's good to also remember that Sunday, or the first day of the week, was a work day in the Roman Empire.

Also, Sunday gatherings, for the early Church, had nothing to do with keeping the Sabbath as Sunday was never the 'Sabbath day' in the Jewish calendar, Their gathering was a celebration of the resurrected and living Lord on the first day of the week. In fact, in the New Covenant, every day is the Sabbath for all who are in Christ as we are resting in an Eternal Sabbath. [Hebrews shows this clearly.]

So, the where and when of corporate worship is left unstated in the NT entirely. The only reference to a 'where' is Hebrews 10:25 where the 'do not forsake the assembling' speaks of it. This 'assembling' is NOT ekklesia. It is a word from which 'synagogue' is derived. It's the only reference to a place we have in the NT since 'ekklesia' does not speak of a place but people and their purpose. In effect, it means wherever you gather [the where is not stated] and whenever you gather [the when is not stated either] don't neglect it. [Whatever neglect means in terms of attendance is not stated either.] You see, there is not much emphasis on 'going' to church in the NT. It's all about 'being' the church in a worshipful manner as you live your life or even when you do gather together at some place for some time with some kind of regularity.

But it's good and needed and fun to gather somewhere at sometime and even with some regularity on the first day of the week. [Or on a lot of other days too if desired.] But the question is when you do, what do you do? That may be the easy part. A quick study of the biblical materials shows that all [men and women] are to participate, all are to share [prophecy/prayers/gifts/etc.] all for the edification of everyone. The hard part is deciding 'how' you do it all.

Some say you preach and do it with the pulpit in the center of the stage area. But that's cultural. Congregationalists believe the Word is to be central and a central pulpit reminds all of us of that. I would agree. Just don't say it the right way or the biblical way. It is one good cultural way of doing it.

Others [liturgical adherents] would make the communion elements central with pulpits a side issue. Literally. Fine. Just don't say it's the biblical way either. It's a way and maybe an OK way, but a cultural way nonetheless.

Do I need to go further to show where I'm going? I could speak of wearing ties and coats, dresses , sitting in pews, choirs in lofts, using hymnals, certain musical instruments, or even one man one sermon for that matter. All these things are but cultural methods and means of doing corporate worship in in a cultural context. Thinking that those ways are more sacred than others is not the truth according to scripture since bible does not address those kinds of matters. Old timers tend to say "Don't touch these things. They're good and godly and essential and if you dare change them, it is obvious you've gone liberal in your christianity."  Oh really! You can't like choruses and a praise team? You can't preach without a tie?

Don't hear me say that hymn books and ties are wrong. If you do you've missed my point entirely. It is the refusal to see them as ONLY cultural that creates a major problem.  I would say the same about the people who say new WAYS OF WORSHIP are more biblical. Things like choruses, testimonies, videos, and horror of horrors, a guitar and drum set backing up a praise team leading a corporate experience. 

I've certainly moved from the old way of thinking to the new way of thinking about all this in my own personal tastes for corporate worship. It just means my personal cultural biases are at play here like everyone else and I join with like minded people in it. 

But none of that FULLY DESCRIBES true worship of the New Testament at all. It's a lot more than Sundays, hymns, choruses, sermons or any other way of doing anything. It is a life lived in worship that's biblical.

Paul B.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


It was stated in an article I read a few years ago that the greatest "heresy' in the American brand of Christianity may well be the "heresy of application." The author suggested that this can be seen with the many doctrines or truths that we teach when we begin to say how those truths can be applied to our lives in a practical way. We point out "ways of doing it" and then, unfortunately, make those ways as sacred as what is "to be done." So we wind up, for example, arguing over the Lord's supper, not as to what it represents, but what elements should be used and who should serve it.

Another rather simple, even shallow, illustration of this is the truth about prayer. Prayer, by scriptural definition, is to commune in your spirit with God who is Spirit. Paul says, for example, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." [Ephesians 6:18, NIV] There is no doubting there are differing types of prayers that can be offered, but the scriptural emphasis is on the nature of prayer rather than how to do it. This is the only way the command to "pray without ceasing" make any sense at all and I'm aware that the word 'ceasing' means intermittently like a hacking cough.

So I teach that prayer is the spirit of a relationship or being in communion with Him. I point out that sin can hinder our prayer life. The Psalmist says in Ps 66:18 that "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" That doesn't mean He doesn't "hear" since God is omniscient, as much as....we'll save this for another post.

Even a marriage can be a problem to walking in communion with God if we're not careful. It says in 1 Peter 3:7.." Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." What that means is...well...another time another post.

You get the point. I teach on prayer and how it means we are to walk in communion with Him enjoying our relationship. So far so good as to what prayer is all about biblically.

But the next person teaching on prayer suggests, by way of personal application, that to bow one's head and shut one's eyes will help you to pray [be in communion with Him] because doing this enables you to shut out distractions.

Good idea! I think I'll try that! Sounds like a great thing to apply to the truth of prayer to my life and make it more effective. It actually CAN help.

 Except [now the problem] the next teacher says that prayer IS bowing your head and closing your eyes in order to commune with God who is Spirit. Thus, the method my wife and I often enjoy using when in a restaurant where we raise our glasses of water/tea and thank the lord for our meal as we toast Him, is wrong. Why?  Because some bible teacher says it couldn't be real prayer since both of us were thanking Him with eyes wide open and heads unbowed.

That is NOT real prayer__so says the teacher__except__ by scriptural definitions,__it is! That's why it's important to remember that Application [how you do it] is NOT sacred and binding. You see the problem.

Another illustration, perhaps just as trivial, is the use of the Bible. God speaks through His Word. That's the function of scripture. When we read the text, He speaks to us. Someone teaches this as..."God speaks through His Word [Truth] so when you meet Him early in the morning you are putting your focus on Him first." Nice! In fact, that's a correct statement...after a fashion! 

But the next person teaches that since God speaks through His Word and since it's wise to focus on Him first, you are really being spiritual when you meet Him early in the morning before doing anything else.

NB..NB becomes their teaching. "No Bible, no breakfast," is what they teach and if you want to really be spiritual in your walk, you'll do it that way. So if I read my newspaper first or get ready, go to work, and have a time in the Word at lunch, by their definition, I'm not spiritual. When you read your bible and how often you read your bible measures your spirituality.

Of course, were this really "the truth" then no one could have really been spiritual until the inventing of the printing press and the mass distribution of the Bible. The "truth" is God does speak through the text of the scripture and ANYTIME you choose to read He will speak, and you ARE spiritual by the Grace of God, not because of how you perform ANYTHING.  

Different personalities will choose different times to read the bible. Prior to his home-going I heard Ron Dunn say many times that, with his personality, it was NEVER early in the morning for him. [Of course, he would then add that he was doing it other times than early morning so he would not be prideful about his bible reading or quiet time with the Lord, since no one ever brags about a quiet time unless it's early. :) ] 

Thus, the title of this post, "The heresy of application." The "how you do it" becomes as sacred as the "truth taught." It must not be lost on us that much, if not most, of our debating and disagreements are about the "applications" we make of the truths of scripture. We wind up fighting over the things the bible leaves to our own choices.

I guess I'm calling on all of us to be honest about our application and call it that. Our application. It is not "the truth for anyone else." I may be stating what I think is a logical conclusion for me to another person, but it is only my conclusion about me, not a sacred responsibility for the one with whom I'm talking. When this simple distinction is made one will not state as facts anything about the behavior or actions of another that cannot be documented from the scripture. And you won't find much there because the scripture speaks about "being" not "doing." The clear thing said scripturally about our DOING  is..."Whatever you do.. do it all for God's glory."

I can live with that.

Paul B.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Is the one who says what I'm posting here, seeing it correctly or not?  What think ye? 

 " The context of 1 Tim 5:1-22 is a set of instructions for relating to various people in the church -- elder males, younger males, elder females, younger females, elder widows, younger widows, all summarized in the instruction in 5:21 to "observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." So the entire passage is providing instructions for fair treatment of all in the body, whether old, young, male, or female, while recognizing and acting according to the unique needs and circumstances of each. We may do different things with or toward different people, but there is no language that elevates some over others just because of their gender and/or age."

"Then you have in verses 1 & 2  the instruction to entreat (rather than rebuke) various people. Verse one deals with entreating "elders" (presbutero, the singular masculine form of presbuteros, whom we are to entreat "as a father") and then younger men ("as brothers"); verse two gives the same instruction for "elder women" (presbuteras, the plural feminine form of presbuteros, whom we are to entreat "as mothers"), and then younger [women] ("as sisters")."

"Given the parallel construction of these two verses, the appropriate translation should be consistent."

 "One could either translate presbutero as "elder men" [referring not to the concept of a specific church function, but just to "old guys" and presbuteras as "elder women" [referring not to the concept of a specific church function, but just to "old gals. Or translate it as "elders," [function]  but you have to translate the language the same either way." 

What is being said is, if you translate the former  [verse 1] as "male elders" referring to the church function, which is how most do translate it.  then the latter [verse 2] would have to be translated as 'female elders' also."  [Not just "elder women."]  

The point being, the KJV can't have verse one referring to "male elders".....[Church function]  but verse two which is the feminine form referring to women who are not "elders"  [Church function]  and be CORRECT  with the meaning of the text. It sounds like the KJV had an agenda and it wasn't textually accurate in translation at this point. What do you think?

Paul B.

Thursday, September 06, 2012


I've looked and looked for a metaphor, illustration, or picture that would help explain a point I would like to make about Christians being in so many different denominations. I believe true believers can be found in many denominations and my love and my acceptance are to cover them as members of the Body of Christ.

Here's how I would illustrate it. Remember, as with all parables/metaphors/illustrations, you can't press every point. If you do try that, you will miss the heart of what is being said. [Think.."If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, be removed..."]

OU football is a passion with me. [Don't tune me out yet, please.]  My wife is as bad as I am about it. Maybe worse!  She and her sister, Jenny, once took oranges into an OU/Nebraska football game, the winner of which went to the Orange Bowl, and tossed oranges onto the field after OU's win. Some of our kids sent her a pretend note on the DA's stationary charging her with a misdemeanor and announcing a fine for the violation. They had a ton of fun at their mother's expense.

[I was out of town and would NEVER do that kind of thing anyway.  ;)]

But we like OSU too. The Cowboys [that's the Oklahoma State Cowboys] are our second favorite team. We're pulling for them against every foe they play.... except one.

The Tulsa Hurricanes are our third favorite team. We lived in Tulsa for ten years and love the "Canes" except when they are playing you know who. How can we like all three? They are all from our favorite State called Oklahoma.

Recently I heard an exchange on sports radio that made me half mad. One caller, an OU fan, was taking to task another caller who was also an OU fan. What about? The latter OU fan had said he likes OSU also. The former OU fan was irate that a true OU fan would dare say he had any feeling but hatred for OSU. You see where I'm going with this don't you.

Let's say Christians__that's anyone who names the name of Jesus as Lord__are like a State. Within that State, you have different groups. [OU/OSU/TULSA fans] They all like football and the common ground for those groups is Oklahoma. They've just chosen to align with different groups within the State for whatever reason. That's OK. In Oklahoma you're free to be a bit different. It's even OK to believe your group is closest to what governs true greatness in football. [OU is certainly that.]

Somehow though, it is possible to respect ALL those involved in football, whether OU, OSU, or Tulsa. And, certainly, there is no need to be angry with one who is a fan of one group but doesn't hate the fans of the other group. I don't think you should penalize a person because they are appreciative of another group's fans. After all, it is Oklahoma we're talking about here. Let's respect all fans, choose which group best matches our particular understanding of football, and not be angry at those among our group who have a love and appreciation for all fans, in Oklahoma.

Further, let's suppose, as has happened on occasion, something untoward [that's an old word that means "bad" for all you new translation buffs] transpires on the OU team. If the people in charge hide the wrongdoing, the trust factor of many OU fans would be damaged when it becomes known. [Not to mention that it is ethically wrong to hide reality anyway.] But, if honestly faced, spoken of, dealt with, and corrected, not only is trust restored, but the ultimate goal of good football will go on unhindered in Oklahoma. Having problems is no problem. Not facing problems honestly and openly is a major problem.

Some rabid fans might see dealing with the problems as disloyalty or hurtful to the team and even the State. I don't. I see it as honesty, courage, and a true commitment to what makes football a truly great sport. And, I respect the ones who had courage enough to speak to the problem when they knew many rabid fans would not understand and there could be a heavy price to pay.

Well, I don't know whether anyone understands what I'm saying or not. But it sure helps to say it. As with all parables/metaphors, as I said at the beginning, don't press every point and miss the message. If you're not a football fan__forget it.

By the way, OU will win the Big 12 championship. OU will win the National Championship. OSU will have a great season. Tulsa will win their conference championship. Take it to the bank.

[Now Longhorn football__that's a different State entirely.]


Paul B.

Paul Burleson

Thursday, August 30, 2012


"Calumniate"___"a verb which means to make false or malicious statements about__a synonym for defame, malign, slander."

"Calumniator"___ "a noun that refers to the person who makes false and/or malicious statements."

How we use words is a serious matter it seems to me. A word can reveal a value we are placing on whatever it is to which or to whom we are referring. It can show an emotion, judgment, or a predisposition toward putting a person down with ridicule or shame. It is this kind of put down words that I believe are unfortunately characterizing our discussion in the realm of theology, politics or even our society itself. We are reaping a whirlwind of coarseness that is even spilling over into our pulpits and churches. It is certainly prevalent in the political atmosphere we are currently seeing.  I may be referring to a tone as much as words__but the end result is we are becoming "Calumniators"__which is an oxymoron when used with the word Christian.

I have thought along these lines after reading several comment sections of some blogs I've read the past several months__both theological and political__which reveal an anger and maliciousness that is disheartening. It would be wise for us as Christians to never forget that we are going to face__ in some fashion someday__ our words. The "give account for every idle word"  [Matt. 12:36]  is of enough significance that perhaps a guard is needed by all Christians in our present day more than anytime I can remember. Words for us are to be used to speak the truth and are always to be spoken in love and graciousness.

It is a given that we have problems that do need to be corrected and we have people who need to be confronted often times. The Scriptures themselves give us guidance and even illustrations that these times will present themselves. No one is denying that fact. But it is that scriptural guidance on the method of doing the confronting that is being often forgotten or disregarded it seems to me. 

But it isn't so much the idea of offense that is our problem. Matthew 18:15-17 is pretty clear as to our procedure when personal offense takes place. I'm not saying that this biblical instruction is followed as it should be, but I am saying that at least it's clear what SHOULD be done by the offended party when both are believers.

I'm speaking more of the debate about theological non-essentials [non-salvation] and even political positions on cultural and societal issues. The words we use in these areas are as important as the positions themselves. I'm concerned about the use of language/words that are used to asperse one another [ to slander or defame someone's character] because of a difference of opinion on issues. To use our words in such a way is a serious matter it would seem to me. Words spoken "with grace and seasoned with salt" seem to be far from us in the present climate both in society, which I can understand, and in the Church, which I do not understand.

It is the put down remarks and words about someone else's character that I believe are clogging the Internet__especially on blogs__and are more representative of the world system than they are the Kingdom of God. The end result is we can become Calumniators__which is an oxymoron when used with the word "Christian"__or even "minister."

May God deliver us from this devastating atmosphere and restore us to being people of the Spirit who is Himself corrective__even confrontational__but always gentle and gracious. Just my thoughts on what I perceive to be a very present danger.

Paul B.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

MY PROBLEM WITH HOMOSEXUALS_____and the people who hate them!

I am something of a champion of women's issues [in my own mind] and their freedom to function in the Body of Christ. I want women to be seen as I see them by others who are, as am I, conservative and even Reformed in their Theological persuasion. But many who ARE conservative and Reformed resist gender equality and sometimes they use the "slippery slope" idea to avoid looking at it at all. "Get gender equality going and you'll wind up accepting homosexuality as not sinful" is the way they put it. That was said in a comment on one of my posts. I found myself sympathetic at first. But then I remembered something that bothered me to no end.

I remembered it was that kind of thinking that so many old time Baptist preachers had over issues 50 years ago when I was a young and wet-behind-the-ears preacher myself. Here's how they said it... "Don't dance because it will lead to sexual promiscuity," "Don't drink a glass of wine because it will lead to drunkenness." "Don't go to movies because it will take the Word of God out of your mind and replace it with trash." They even said, "Don't go to Seminary because it will pollute your theology."

Looking back, I now understand that what they were doing was operating out of a "fear" mentality and it had nothing to do with a "faith" mentality. They were just scared to death of certain outcomes. They also allowed only those who adopted their list of "don'ts" to be with them in their brand of koinonia. [Fellowship] As a young preacher, I wanted to be in their group, or at least I wanted them to like me, so I played a bit of that game myself. That is my fault I know. I blame no one for my game playing but me, certainly not them. But I now have to ask myself why I did that. The answer is I had THEM in my view. 

I'm older now. I'm more experienced now. I know some theology [not a lot]  now. I now think it unwise to do OR to refuse to do ANYTHING because someone else is operating out of fear and might think something bad will happen. I now know I don't want to do whatever I do [or don't do] with those kind of fear-mongers in my sight AT ALL. Those dang Baptist preachers who operate out of fear but who are capable of grabbing our attention, if not alliegence, just aren't worth it. 

There is another thing I've noticed about myself as I've grown older. I don't mince words when I write about those who heap ABUSE on someone else. Whether it's pastors abusing their people, or people their pastor, it rankles me and I say so. I'm bothered by that stuff. Whether it's the Patriarchal movement, which I believe is not only unbiblical but dangerous for those who are weak emotionally or otherwise, or the present emphasis on bullying, or a host of other abusive things, I'm pretty vocal against the ABUSER. I think it's good to have a healthy reaction against someone abusing another.  

But then I've noticed, I'm also usually [in my own mind at least]  soft, graceful, and healing in my tone and words to the abused ones. Whether that's wounded pastors who come to my pastor's seminars, women physically or spiritually abused, hurting children or... you get the picture. 

Now to my problem with Homosexuals... and those who hate them! What am I talking about? Let me see if I can explain.

Let's address the elephant in the room right off the bat."What they do is a sinful act," someone says. I know that. But WHY they do that sinful act may not be as simple as we tend to make it. Whether it's a genetic thing, or simply a choice, or an act of "sin," or even a mixture of all three, it isn't a simple thing. The debate may well continue between whether homosexuality is a nature and nurture thing, but I'm thinking there is far more that drives a person in that arena than just choosing something. Who knows?

But what I DO KNOW from my experience with counseling many through the years who have been homosexual, is that many of them have been ABUSED. I'm not saying that abuse is what has created their actions. Hear me here. That can continue to be a raging debate. What I'm talking about is the ABUSE that comes TO them BECAUSE of their actions. And this [abuse because of actions] has come, to a large degree, from self-proclaimed bible believing/thumping Christians who talk about grace and show little of it in tone, words or actions. [Think Westboro and their kind here and I don't say "baptist" or "church" because that group is neither.]  

I could give you a list of homosexuals I've worked with in the past, and even the present, who, after having heard their story, I'm not surprised that they are unwilling to listen to ANY Christian about ANYTHING because of the pain inflicted on them by SOME Christians. I can't say I blame them. 

Have you ever wondered WHY self-proclaimed Christians  [Think Westboro again] find them so WORTHY of any abusive action or attitude that can be perpetrated on them?

It may be because those abusive self-proclaimed "christian"s think some sexual sins [especially the homosexual kind] are in a special category in scripture. I think that might be true. But I'm afraid they label their category for homosexual sins as the "heinous" kind. That's probably because of their reading of Romans 1 where Paul addressed somebody as being given over to a reprobate mind. But that demands a real understanding of what Paul was speaking to there.

In this passage Paul says that even creation presents a NATURAL revelatory conclusion about God. He is real, creation says. [vs 20] But The Greeks [vs16] took that NATURAL revelation and changed it and perverted it into a religion that worshipped the thing created instead of the creator by [here it is] even using sexuality [male with male..woman with woman--vs23-28] as a worship tool, thus, not retaining God as the one who is to be worshipped.

In context, it is the Temple prostitutes and those who used them in worship who are given over to a reprobate mind. That is Paul's declaration to the Roman Church. 

I think it wise to see THAT can happen ANYTIME someone begins to worship the thing created instead of the Creator. [Think money or sports here.] When that DOES happen [worship the thing created instead of the Creator] the end results will be verses 29-32. [A hell of a sorts in life and certainly in eternity.]  

But, Paul goes on to say that if all that's true, and it is, anyone [The Jews] who judges them [The Greeks]  and their failure because of being that way, will face judgment as well. [6:1-3]

I said that I am also convinced that, biblically speaking, sexual sins have a special category to them. I am convinced of that. And I believe how we label that category is very important. I wouldn't label it "heinous." That's reserved for perverted worshippers that are indeed heinous according to Paul. 

But I WOULD label it as a category called "difficult. Difficult because of the damaging nature of sexual sins. Their destructive/damaging nature is seen in sexual sins being able to damage one's own body as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:16..."Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body."  Then there is damage to one's own family, one's own marriage, even terrible damage to the marriage covenant itself. Then there is the fact that they are difficult to break free from and any number of other issues that arise. Difficult? Absolutely! What I don't see is "heinous" which is the way many seem to approach that category of sexual sins.

I've NEVER tried to help people guilty of sexual sins, in the counseling I've done, WITHOUT my being willing to say at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner that I view their action as a sinful action. That's truth, at least for me, about ALL sex outside marriage and I don't believe help can ultimately come without an honest facing of this on their part.  That's what I believe. 

But what I've found to also be true is that they, especially homosexuals, don't need me to convince them of that BEFORE I love them with MORE THAN WORDS. They need me to be open to THEM emotionally, graciously, and embracing THEM as a person. They, more than many others, need someone to give respectful acceptance of their personhood which, if my theory is correct, has been violated for a long time by some so-called Christians. That can be done without violating my personal view of their actions at all. 

So, for me, [And I'm speaking only for me here] I need to see them as people more akin to how I see people whose sin is gluttony or pride, or lying. [That's not denying the special category thing either.] I just don't want their sin to identify who they are as a person TO ME. So that when I DO speak about their actions, if I am given that privilege in counseling or even in dialogue, I can do so with a tone that says love rather a tone that for me is reserved for a perpetrator of abuse on another.

Maybe THEN I can help them get their identity from the same Christ my identity comes from and work through whatever their unique struggles are.  I'm not saying there aren't exceptions to all this. Of course there may be, but as a general approach to people who struggle with homosexuality, what I'm saying is a help to me personally.

 So I think my personal problem with homosexuals, in simple terms, has more to do with my desire to see THEM as the ABUSED as opposed to the ABUSER. [Maybe as demonstrated in Jesus with the woman at the well of Sychar__the abused one__ and the religious guys who followed Him and marveled that He even talked with her much less loved her, because of their prejudice.__The abusers__.]  

It may be as simple a thing as my wanting to learn to address them as people WITHOUT reminding them of what I see as their sinful act every time I'm with them. I don't want to address a gluttonous person on the basis of their EATING or an adulterer on the basis of their ADULTERY or a prideful person on the basis of their PRIDE either. [And don't try to think I'm making all these equal in nature. I've already spoken to that.]  

There may be a time and a place for addressing their actions but none of them have to FIRST admit my view of their behavior is the CORRECT view for me to express my love to them. I just want to love them as people. 

 So what's my REAL problem? I don't know for sure! Unless I'm wondering if I might not still be haunted by that eye I had on the Fundys those years ago. [The slippery slope accusation guys you remember.]  I'm beginning to wonder if present day, my wanting to show them that someone CAN be conservative theologically and hold to gender equality and NOT go down a slippery slope of not believing homosexual acts are sinful is really worth it. 

I know the slippery slope idea is NOT true, [even though my love for homosexuals will look like compromise to them]  but the Fundys will NEVER know that and really don't care. So I'm wondering if they're really worth the emphasis I've placed on proving it to them!  I'm afraid my efforts to show them has a cost to it that I may not desire to wind up paying. [When you lose the ability to express genuine heart-felt love to any person abused by another it's a real loss.] 

I think I've concluded that I'd rather go on loving sinners as just people where they are and helping them, as I can and if I can, to ultimately find their identity in Christ and not in any particular brand of sin with which they might personally struggle.  I'm thinking that IS real Christianity and living out the gospel. I could, of course, be wrong in my conclusion. But I don't think I am.

I'm sure that not all, maybe even few, will agree with much I've said. But I'm trying to come to some kind of biblical understanding clothed in civility about issues that we face as believers and discuss them with that civility uppermost in our minds. Comments are welcome but, do me a favor, read the guidelines above the comment section before you do. 

Paul B. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012


A few years ago,Wade, our oldest son and Pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid Oklahoma, preached a message from his series in Genesis dealing with the failure of Abraham to speak the truth about his wife, calling her his sister out of fear for his own life. His son later did the same thing. So Wade addressed "generational sins." [With a distinction between sins and curses.] It was a superb message and one every Christian should hear. You can__ by going to the Emmanuel web-site and checking the archives of the Genesis series__and I hope you do. 

In the course of the message, Wade told a story, with my blessing, that caught vividly MY struggle with anger as a besetting sin in my life as it had been in my fathers. It was of an incident when I, while pastoring a large Church in Texas over thirty years ago, got out of the car on I-35 while driving back to Texas from Oklahoma with Mary, my wife and Wade's mother, because she and I were arguing. [We were alone in the car that trip.] I was not controlling my temper, as was the case too much of the time in those days. 

So she drove off__wise decision and completely biblical since we are commanded to not keep company with an angry man__and I was left to hitch-hike home alone. And I did. Not the stuff from which biographies of great and godly men are made, but the truth nonetheless.

It was at that time and because of that incident that I knew I had to get serious, again, about God working in my life and started the painful process of facing, repenting [genuinely] and removing the particular besetting sin of anger from my life. I'm grateful, as are all the Burlesons, including Wade and his three siblings, that God has worked. But the process came neither quickly nor easily. 

Wade told that story and did so with a forgiving spirit, while taking responsibility for his own besetting sin and showing sins CAN be generational unless one chooses to stop them with honesty, repentance,and removal. As I said, a superb and needed message by all.

Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, I'll tell you "The rest of the story."  Even Wade doesn't know what I'm about to reveal. But it's true as well.

I was broken-hearted during that trip home hitch-hiking. You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know the sin and utter stupidity of what I had done and was doing. But it did take the Grace of God to genuinely grieve over it. I've come to see the presence of God's Grace in one's life is not evidenced by no longer failing/sinning but, rather by being broken over it. Much as Lot was "vexed in his righteous soul" by the deeds of those around him. [And his own later. 2 peter 2] In that manner will a true believer be "vexed." I was. 

So much so that when I got home later and found Mary gone doing errands, I hid in the garage until she returned so the kids would not know we didn't come home together. [It wasn't godly repentance yet as you can see by my actions.]  It was sometime later I got honest and then even later that I related it to Wade as he told it correctly in his message. The cloak of secrecy still prevailed for awhile unfortunately. Someone has said you are as unhealthy as you are secretive. I think they are right. I wasn't healthy quite yet.

Now for more of the Grace part. While hitch-hiking home that day, I was picked up by a business man. We started conversing and he realized I was not a bum hitch-hiking across country but was, in fact, educated and knowledgeable. [Though far more stupid than he knew.] I did not reveal that I was a Pastor for obvious shameful and self-protecting reasons. We talked. One thing led to another. Before much time went by we were pulled over to the side of the road and, with my hand on his shoulder, he wept his way into repentance and faith gifted to him of God in that providential moment. he took me to my home and went on his way rejoicing.

I tell you this NOT to take away the sting of my own failure and sin. The Cross has done that. But to remind all of us, as I was reminded that day, that our God isn't waiting until we have it all together before He pours His Grace through us. But has stated and shows us in His providence the reality that where sin abounds, Grace DOES much more abound.

Some may think this being said might take away from the responsibility of wrong/sinful actions on my part. Not at all! But my thinking is that it does remind us of "why" we can be honest, repentant, and broken over our sins. There IS no reason to fear His anger. That was poured out on Jesus. Grace is poured out on us. You can trust Him enough to be honest about yourself. 

In the context of Wade's sermon on Abraham that day, "she is my wife, not my sister, but I lied about it and am ashamed of that fact," can be shared with a son, daughter, spouse, friend, BECAUSE God's love DOES cover a multitude of sins. So those sons/daughters can hear one generation speak to another generation of their own failures/sins against the backdrop of His work on the Cross. "Freedom" is what that really amounts to. It's like coming out of the bushes [Adam] and saying the truth about whose fault it really was. [What if Adam had said 'mine'?] God works in that context, Graciously. 

Thanks Wade for a great message and a great reminder for all of us, and to me personally, why His Grace truly is "amazing."


Saturday, August 18, 2012


There is abroad in our land a struggle with the idea of gender, even in the Church. In fact, some have gone so far as to declare that "complementarianism" [Men have roles and women have different roles and they complement each other, but men are at the front of the line in all things concerning authority.] is part of the gospel itself. So if you aren't complementarian in your view of gender you've lost the gospel. What follows will explain why this is so important to me. I cherish the gospel and, if they are correct, I'm guilty of losing the gospel itself, as you will see.

Most of my ministry life has been lived in that 'complementarianism' concerning women in life and ministry mentioned above. This simply means I lived, believed and taught that women were to submit to their husband's leadership in the home and were to do the same in church life. Men ruled. Women submitted. As men, we had our place and women certainly had theirs, [Complementary] but ours was at the front of the line. We were to love and provide, to be sure, but always from our place at the front of that line. For years of marriage and ministry I never questioned the biblical basis for this nor did I question the rightness of it in a practical way. How could it be otherwise? The bible said it and that settled it. I was old-school in this you see.

When I faced those situations where it was abused either by a man controlling a wife and robbing her of her person, choices and input [or a pastor robbing people of the same] or a wife refusing to obey a husband by attempting to be herself uniquely by exercising her mind or will on issues, I passed it off as them probably being people who generally messed life up because of a strong personality [his] or rebellion. [hers] If they would simply "calm down and obey the bible all will be well." That became my mantra for most struggles in marriage.

There were three basic shifts in my understanding along the way that shook my life and forged a new direction for me that resulted in my now belonging to a new school of thought on this issue. The newness is not that the scriptures or my culture or my convictions about scriptural authority have changed. Not at all! But my understanding of things as they really are in the purposes of God has changed. What follows is a bit of that journey.

Shift number one was in my own life. I view my marriage as a gift from God, as I'm sure most of you do. My marriage partner is a gifted and capable woman who is unique in her person. Her giftedness and uniqueness was what caused me to look again at women NOT being able to lead or teach men [or anyone except children and other women] as I saw in her one who knew more bible than most preachers [she memorized and quoted over 500 verses at camp one year] and knew theology [still does] better than most of my Seminary buddies.

Our relationship clashed with my old-school thinking as she awakened to her uniqueness and person hood in Christ and I began to see her gifts and abilities as from God for me AND the church. [This was not without some painful times of struggle for both of us.] It also gave us pause because neither she nor I were willing to violate the scripture because of our experience. So what did this mean for us? The old-school way of thinking wouldn't do. That was a given. But something had to give.

Shift two came as a result of studying the scriptures afresh. Laying aside culture, preconceptions, teachers and theological systems I'd bought into rather easily, I began searching the text anew for myself. For starters, in 1 Timothy 2:12 I began to see the text as less clear than most complementarians saw it and that lack of clarity was NOT there because of what our culture imposed on i,t but because of Paul's language used in the text to address HIS culture. It was understanding his culture that came into play for me as I began to grasp what he was saying.

To take that verse as an absolute universal principle for all women of all times and to impose a standard of silence and no authority over men flew into the face of so many other portions of the text of the New Testament. The Samaritan woman of John 4, Lydia of Acts 16, and Mary of Matthew 28 who seemed to speak the Word of God to all, including men, seemed contrary to 1 Timothy 2:12 being a principle for all time and places. 

The ministry of Jesus seemed to do the same. He taught, commissioned and sent out women, as well as men, as indicated in the gospels. Add to that others like Phoebe who was called a deacon, [there is no Greek word deaconess and where this word is used of men KJV translates it "deacon," but when used of women, KJV translates it "helper."] Junia, whom Paul said was outstanding among the apostles in Romans 16:7, [there are many more that could be given] and I saw there was something about 1 Timothy 2:12 that I needed to examine anew. So I did.

Another passage that gave me pause was the declaration of Peter that the New Covenant era would see our "sons and daughters" and "young men and old men" ministering thru the Spirit. This means at least that New Covenant relationships were not based on age, gender or race but on the gifting and empowering of the Holy Spirit. Add to that the Galatians 3:28-29 reference to neither male nor female nor bond nor free and you have a whole different thing in Christianity. I know it refers to salvation but the rest of the book refers to all no longer being slaves but sons [generic] with full rights of son-ship with no distinction made to gender or race.

Is New covenant relationships to be based on gender or race or not? Did God change His mind since the ascension of Jesus. If not, then why make it so in the home or the local church? Unless Paul said to in 1 Timothy 2:12. Did he? I don't think so.

In short, I now saw Paul referring to "a man and a woman" in 1 Timothy 2:10-12 [language is singular] and I saw the word "authority" as a word that meant disruption and using gender means [sexual perhaps] to take control and it is, thus, referring to a specific church situation in Ephesus. In other words, I saw it not as a universal principle for all time in all places but a specific event in that time.

I also had to examine 1 Corinthians 11 and began to see it differently. My final opinion is as I've read one person say, "Paul was telling women to not flaunt their freedom in Christ to dishonor men." That's spot on in my judgement. A fresh look at the word "Kephale" [head] caused me to question the definition of it being "authority." I began to see it as referring to something totally foreign to that meaning in the time of their culture. Not that it couldn't mean leading, but didn't in a normal use at all.

My purpose here is not to give the results of my research as much as it is to state my journey. Check out the lexicons up to 1950 and you will see what I mean. If you get bogged down in the "head" thing it would be good to remember [as I read someone say] "that certainly the Son has chosen to submit to the Father in the incarnation, but don't forget the Father has put everything under the Son's personal Lordship." [Phil. 2:9] That's interdependence instead of competition and control for sure. What a novel idea for the home and church were we to be Christlike as believers.

The final shift in my thinking came as I examined our culture. There was no problem seeing the cultural standard of man/woman relationships being one of a struggle for control. It was there in Paul the Apostle's day and it is in our day. It is the history of the human race. But from where did it come? 

My answer to that question came from, you guessed it, a fresh study of a passage of scripture. It was after a new look at the text in Genesis 3. [The fall]  There I found introduced a corrupted male/female control issue that was not in the original created order. It resulted from the fall, not creation. God wasn't in to creating a "whose the boss" mentality but a "how can I serve you" way of thinking. It started as a mutual sharing relationship in Genesis 1&2 that became a curseful control issue in Genesis 3. But a graceful [mutually sharing] relationship is re-established in Ephesians 5 by the Holy Spirit.

Grace is a recovery system for God's purpose in all things and I have concluded that, while we live in a fallen world, the redeemed people of God are to manifest a gracious, helping, mutual submitting and leading where they're gifted way of life that only grace can produce in our families and churches. It would be a shock to our culture and religion in general and it takes the Holy Spirit's empowering to accomplish it, but that is ours to experience as believers.

I was old-school in this issue but I'm now of a new-school of thought and, by the grace of God, I wish to live out that new school thinking out. It's basis is not my experience, culture or theological systems, but the authoritative text of scripture, when properly understood, in my personal opinion. But it doesn't impact my understanding of the gospel nor my belief that is the power of God unto salvation. Of that, I'm unchanged and unashamed.

Paul Burleson