Thursday, August 31, 2006


I've looked and looked for a metaphor, illustration, or picture that would help explain the point I wish to goes...

OU football is a passion with me. [Don't tune me out yet, please.] I'm a season ticket holder. My wife is as bad as I am. We go, game day, three hours early to soak it all up.

But I like OSU too. The Cowboys [that's the Oklahoma State Cowboys] are my second favorite team. I'm pulling for them against every foe they play, except one.

The Tulsa Hurricaines are my third favorite team. We lived in Tulsa for ten years and love the "Caines" except when they are playing you know who. How can I like all three? They are all in my 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, anyone who names the name of Jesus as True Lord, are like a State. Within that State you have different groups. [OU/OSU/TULSA fans] The common ground for those groups is football. But they've chosen to align with different groups 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 great football. [OU is certainly that.]

Somehow, however, there can be respect for 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. And you wouldn't want, IMHO, to penalize a person because they are appreciative of other group fans. After all, it is football we're talking about here. Let's respect all fans, choose which group best matches us, and not be angry at those among our group who have a love and appreciation for all fans, even those who think differently about some of the teams.

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 faced, spoken of, dealt with, and corrected, not only is trust restored, but the ultimate goal of good football will go on unhindered. 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. 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, don't press every point and miss the the heart of what is being said.

By the way, OU will win the Big 12 championship. OU will win the National Championship. OSU will have a great season. 11 and 1 with a major bowl victory ain't bad a tall. Tulsa will win their conference championship. Take it to the bank.


Paul Burleson

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I was talking with someone the other day who knows a lot about the human personality. He made a profound statement in the course of our conversation. He said, "a lot of argumentative, hateful people are an example of what I call pathological narcissism and intellectual laziness." I have to confess, I didn't know what he was talking about. So I asked him to explain.

But first, let me give a couple of old fashioned definitions. No Greek [excuse the pun] just Webster's dictionary. "Narcissism"...undue dwelling on one's own self, achievements,attainments or beliefs. "Laziness"...disliking exertion. You get the picture. Eyes for no one but me or mine and an unwillingness to exert energy or time thinking about someone else's thoughts or ideas.

He went on to say, "for some people, the pain of examining their own inner struggles, weaknesses, and failures [which we all have] is so great that they pathologically focus on what they do, believe, and accomplish, and must be correct in it all. [This is to avoid having to face those inner struggles and failures.] Their desire to be correct in accomplishments and beliefs, born out of this fear of personal inner inspection,leads them to an intellectual laziness about engaging ideas that are held by another. So, you have a person who becomes argumentative, opinionated, hateful and judgemental.

You can't dialogue with them because that takes two people listening as well as talking, and you'd better not disagree with them because that is an affront to their need to be right."

Well, I don't know much about the human personality but I think I've met some of these people. One thing for sure, I don't want to "be" one of these people.

By the way, do denominations have personalities?

Paul Burleson

Monday, August 21, 2006

Let's Be Christian and Consistent (Satan and the BMI)

Wade Burleson recently posted two posts on his blog that I wonder if, by looking at the comments section, they were really understood by the readers. Far be it from me to put words in Wade's mouth but, since I'm his Dad, I'm going to take some liberties in writing that he can correct me on later if I miss the boat.

Those two posts were about two entirely different subjects. [Or were they?] One had to do with the BMI [read that -body -mass- index] requirement for missionaries appointed to the field under the auspices of the International Mission Board of the SBC.

The other post was about a comment made by the Editor of the Missouri Baptist magazine, Pathway, concerning his attributing the apparent position on the part of some to not holding to the "sufficiency" of the scripture while, at the same time, holding to the "inerrancy" of those same scriptures, to being "orchestrated by Satan."

The comments ranged from denigrating Wade for not holding to the sufficiency of scripture or otherwise he wouldn't have disagreed with Hinkle, to not being prudent with monies since the BMI will keep medical costs down thereby wisely using SBC dollars. Now I'm not going to presume to defend Wade, he's perfectly capable of graciously doing that with precision and integrity as he has shown time after time in the past several months. But I do wish to add a "connect the dots" kind of statement to his two posts that are my thoughts and mine alone, hence, the willingness for Wade to correct me later if necessary.

Let's take the "sufficiency" thing first. I believe the following statements would be true statements about what Wade believes.

Wade believes the scriptures are sufficient as a guide for life in christ. Whatever they say and mean you can trust will never guide you astray. [I do too.]

Wade agrees that there is a move in the SBC to not allow the scriptures to stand sufficient on issues where it speaks. I do too. [Although it may be that the more fundamental brethren of the SBC are the ones guilty here by allowing Baptist traditions or personal views to speak with as much authority as scriptures.]

But what Wade is saying is...let's be willing to disagree without attributing to the other side [whatever the issue and which ever side you might happen to be on] the "orchestration of the devil" as their driving force.

What I'm saying is "amen." Someone is going to remind me, I'm sure, that Jesus said to Peter "get behind me Satan" because He knew his heart and saw Satan energizing him. I say when I can get my next tax payment out of the mouth of the next bass I catch fishing I might be able to know what's in the heart of another, but til then, Jesus is the only one qualified for stuff like that.

The point is , for us to have a big convention there will be disagreements over meaning of scripture, [not the integrity of the text] but we must honor brothers/sisters with respect in our language toward them. Without this respect of those who differ in understanding of issues we will never link our walk with our talk and we will never see real unity which centers around the person and work of Christ and His cross.

The other post was about the Body Mass Index requirement of the IMB for appointees. Again, let me make some statements I believe Wade believes. [If in error he can correct later.]

Wade does not believe it is wrong for the IMB to have standards for qualification that are extra biblical such as the BMI.

Wade believes the IMB has a right to require appointees to hold to the BFM 2000 as a confession of faith since they are under employment to the IMB. [But adding to that confession of faith without good debate and input from proper channels all done with openness and respect is not healthy AND they must have freedom for caveats since the Faith @ Message is not infallible nor inerrant.]

Wade does believe the IMB has the right/responsibility to create standards that enhance the health of appointees and that are best for getting the most out of Cooperative program monies.

Those statements are a reasonable assumption of his positions, I believe, after reading his blog consistently.

However, the point of his post on BMI is, [again, he can correct me here if needed] if the idea ever comes about that the IMB-BOARD of TRUSTEES should/must abide by the same standards as required for appointed personel there must be consistency. It can't be "we pick this one but not that one" mentality.

For example, while he believes and teaches abstinence is a good, perhaps even the best, policy for christians in general. And, while it may be the best policy in most cultures, though not all. And while it is the established policy for IMB appointees, to make it a requirement for the IMB-BOT because it is for missionaries sets up a conundrum, a riddle if you please. Which standards will be required of all board members? No wine--No private prayer language--Proper Body/Mass/Index---? Where does it start and stop?

So, at the beginning I said his two post were, perhaps, saying the same thing. Let's be christian and let's be consistent. So whether it's disagreeing over an issue, minor point of doctrine, or presenting our view on a debateable topic, let's be christian and consistent. To put it another way, let's be consistently christian is what both posts are saying IMHO.

Now, if he says "dad you missed it, that's not what I meant at all." Then take it as what I believe and mean.[ I'll get with him later and show him the error of his ways. ;)

Paul Burleson

Monday, August 14, 2006


"Love not the world, neither the...things...that are in the world." 1 Jn 2:15
"Know His will and approve the...things...that are more excellent. Rom 2:18 "But the natural man receiveth not the...things...of the Spirit." 1 Corth, 2:14 "Set your affections on...things...above not on the...things of the earth. Col. 3:2 "For they that are after the flesh do mind the...things...of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the...things...of the Spirit." Rom. 8:5

Finally, 1 Corth. 3:21 "Let no man glory in man, for all...things...are yours". Then Paul makes at least a partial list of those things that are yours...Paul/ Apollos/ Cephas/ World/ Life/ Death/ All things present/ All things to come..are all mine.

But I'm a bit confused. What are the "things" of the world/earth/flesh as opposed to the "things" of the Spirit/ above/ excellent? Where do I get my list of each? And if "all things" are presently mine as a gift from God, to which list is that referring. What are we to make of all this?

I did a study of the "things" of the flesh and the "things of the Spirit one time and found an amazing thing. At least to me it was amazing. They are all the same things. It was important that during that study I remembered a couple of facts from scripture. One is that the word "world" and the word "flesh" had both a neutral and an evil use. Neutral use was world/flesh referring to creation and people. "God so loved the world..." But both can refer to evil. However, that is not a "thing" but an attitude of life. John referred to it as "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life." The key word here is "lust". It is taking some "thing" and using it for an illegitimate purpose. "Self" is that illegitimate purpose.

That brings me to the second point I had to bear in mind and that is "self" is simply independence from God. So any "thing" I use or view independent of who God is as He reveals Himself to be is a "thing" of the flesh. But any "thing" I use or view dependent on who God is as He reveals Himself to be, is a "thing" of the Spirit.

So I wrote my lists. Here they are: [A partial list only.]

The "things" of the world list.
My Job
My Marriage
My Recreation
My Food
My Church attendance
My Bible reading

The "things of the Spirit list
My Job
My Marriage
My Recreation
My Food
My Church Attendance
My Bible Reading

Let me explain if I can. My Job, be it law, medicine, home making, or ministry is a thing of the flesh/world OR Spirit/heaven depending on my motive. If it is a way to make money for things I want only or to get my strokes from people if I do well, or to show how good I am, it is a "thing" of the world/flesh. But, if it is, to me, a way of providing for my own and the Kingdom of God and enjoying that Kingdom reality, it is a "thing" of the Spirit/heaven.

My marriage. If it is a "thing", to me, that gets me sex, or security, or love, or comfort, it is a "thing" of the world/flesh. But, if it is to me, a "thing" that pictures Christ and His Church relationship, or a way to be a resource to another person, or a way of enjoying Kingdom reality, it is a "thing" of the Spirit/heaven.

My recreation. If it is a "thing" that shows off my abilities, or to get the praise of men, or to prove I'm better than anyone else, it is a "thing" of the world/flesh. But, if it is a "thing" that enables me to keep the Temple of God fit, or to accomplish personal/team goals that are healthy, or to enjoy a respite from work, it is a "thing" of the Spirit/heaven.

My Church attendance. If it is a way for me to get acceptance from people or God, or a way to check off a list that shows I'm better than those who don't attend, it is a "thing" of the flesh/world. You see the point...don't you?

So in reality, every "thing" I do ,whether attending church, preaching, motorcycle riding, making money, reading my bible, eating with friends, has the potential of being a "thing of the Spirit" or a "thing of the world".
Since "all things" are mine according to Paul the Apostle maybe the only question is why I'm doing it, not what I'm doing. That's the determining factor of it's nature whether good or evil, flesh or Spirit, earthy or heavenly. So I'm just celebrating the reality of God as He has revealed Himself to be, in every "thing" in life. WOW, that means the lists can be forgotten as a standard of behavior and all of life is spiritual. It's my motive/heart in what I do that makes it evil or good [the issues of life thing].......I wonder if this applies to blogging??

Paul Burleson

Monday, August 07, 2006


Several things are occupying my mind this morning but I will only get to one of those things. It is all of the talk about the need for a "regenerate membership". No one, certainly not this writer, questions that the membership of a local body is to be regenerate. There are a number of problems associated with that desire however and I want to explore some of them.

It might be wise to remember that historically, Baptists have paid a real price for holding to a regenerate membership. Thank God for that price they were willing to pay. But it is true, as I read the record of that struggle, that it was more in the context of state supported religion, infant baptism, and baptismal regeneration controversies than simply desiring to know whether our church members are genuinely saved or not. But in my reading of a lot of blogs lately, it seems to me , many are thinking along the lines of making church membership hard so we will be able to find out whether the folks are really converted or not. It's this latter concept I'm addressing today.

Since the Holy Spirit is the only one who can bring about regeneration, whether you believe it is the cause of faith or the effect of faith is moot to the point I'm making, and, since it is an internal work of that same Spirit within the heart of a person, who of us has sufficient ability to know for certain that regeneration has taken place? The answer is no one can. So we face a major problem from the get go.

It is also true that we can and are to examine the professor of faith as to their fruit. But even here we face a problem. I've always felt that actions are not as good a barometer as is character. So if a church leader never misses services, always tithes, attends visitation programs, and even comes to Wenesday night fellowship suppers, most Baptist churches would want to ordain such an one to the full time ministry. But when it is also true that the same person always desires their way in a debate/discussion of an issue to the point of anger, belittles their family members in public [so you wonder how bad it is in private], undermines the leadership with negative statements,and never seems bothered in the least by any of those things, my assessement might be to wonder if they've ever been Graced at all.

Then I reread the story of Lot and see afresh how, as a rightous man, [ll Peter 2] he was guilty of drunkeness, incest, and lack of family leadership and I begin to think that maybe it not only takes the Holy Spirit to regenerate a person but only He can know if a person has actually been regenerated.

So what are we to do? I have a few suggestions that by no means are exhaustive or even significant in the full scheme of things except they are my opinions.

#1- Joseph Nordenburg said in the Review and Expositor of 1963, that, "as long as the success of a minister is graded by the number of additions and the size of the budget we cannot expect that the statistical increase will represent only regenerate members." I don't know Dr. Nordenurg and I don't know what you think of him, but that statement rings true to me. So maybe a different measure of successful pastoring is needed by our Convention as a whole. Maybe an award for the church in the Association with the fewest divorces at the end of the year or the greatest number of families assisted in finding lodging or a job or the church with the most people seeking counseling for addictions or abusive behavior might be better than how many baptisms [additions] we had.

#2-It might be wise to sharpen our skills of teaching/preaching the Word of God to go a little deeper with people so that, when professions of faith are made, they will have a deeper understanding of what really happened to them and who they really belong to, and then continue to teach them, by every means possible, who God is and what He's accomplished on our behalf, because I've found that true faith grows in proportion to our understanding of it's object.

#3-Trust the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do. So we take a person where they say they are [repentence and faith] and teach them to observe baptism, the Lord's supper, virtue, doctrine, ethics, and love them the whole way.

#4-Then, when they fail, and we all will, be there to encourage, confront in love, support, all for the purpose of recovery and restoration in the journey, being careful of our own attitude and life, in order to gain a brother. If repentence is refused, love on them as folks who need the Grace of God. [I'm assuming that's how we treat infidels.]

Several things may happen out of all this I think.

SOME-will grow and grow and mature before your very eyes. It will thrill you and you will marvel at the Grace of God on display.

SOME-will seem really good and along the way fail and fall and not respond to loving confrontation or encouragement and be lost to the local fellowship.

SOME-will seem fine at first, but along the way, will realize they've never truly been Graced and come to Christ as did our son who made a profession of faith and was baptized at an early age but at eighteen met the Holy Spirit in a work of true regeneration.

FINALLY-some will grow, it seems, but never really have what I would think of as a real commitment but will be there, serve, give, relate, but I will spend the rest of my life wondering.

Someone I read recently said, "One day the Lamb's book of Life will be the only membership roll and the reading of that roll will be dreadful and awesome. Until that day churches, by keeping lists, show love for those on the inside and those on the outside [1Corth 5:12-13]. However imperfect these earthly lists are they prepare everyone for the final reading of the list that contains no mistakes." [Mike McKinley]

I guess. But my emphasis would be on remembering our lists will always be imperfect AND remembering His list is not imperfect. So I guess we will ultimate have to trust His showing of the real one. And our only consolation in all the hard work is hearing Him say, "Well Done".

Maybe that's sufficient.

Paul Burleson