Monday, October 27, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapshots of fallen nature.

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

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

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

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

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

Paul B.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Remember the bracelet? It caught on at least in the christian world. It sure sounds spiritual enough. [What Would Jesus Do?] Even if it is perhaps true that concerning some [if not a lot] of the modern situations we face today the scriptures seem to be vague, if not silent, on giving specific directions as to what to do in those situations. ["What to do"--is different than-- "How to do" in my judgment.]

What has caught my attention, however, as reported to me by Mary my wife, is the use of the "WWJD" concept on a blog in regards to our presidential race. It seems a young woman [whom we know personally] reported on a blog that she had decided to vote for Obama. That is interesting to me because she is a bible believing christian who is quite intelligent as well as committed as she evidenced with a recent extended time working in Africa with people in dire need of everything including the gospel.

The "WWJD" comment came in a response to her announcement. The responder took her to task and ended by saying something to the effect that one should "think seriously about it and consider...what would Jesus do?

That might be an enlightening thing to discover. In fact, a better approach might be to discover what Jesus DID do since He did not live in a vacuum those thirty-three years here on planet earth two thousand years ago but in the context of a very political and vicious culture of His own time and place. What DID He do?

If He does become our guide for choices we make in facing a culture that is the antithesis of our gospel, as is every culture anywhere today since there is no favored nation status anywhere, we might be shocked at what His example really is. It is true that Israel was on a favored nation status historically but remember it was not because they were righteous. Rather He sovereignly chose her to become the conduit of the coming Messiah. After that Messiah's arrival, the reality of "an holy nation" was reserved for those who participate in the community of people out of every tongue and tribe/nation who call Him Lord. That doesn't fit any present geopolitical entity that I know of including the United States of America of which I am proudly a citizen.

So...what DID He do? Rome was ruling. Slavery was rampant. [Both race and gender] The poor were repulsive to all. If ever there was a corrupt and degenerate society that needed altering His did. I ask again...what did He do?

When political parties were formed and attempted to change things did He join? When laws were passed that denied His own values what court did He file His grievance in? When a Mayor or Governor or leader was selected by whatever process might have been then, what were the guiding principles He used for His own choice of a candidate? In fact, did He ever vote in any election at all? It surely would be helpful as a guide for us in choosing between Oboma and McCain as President if we could see what it was that He used to select a governmental leader in His day. Then "What would Jesus do?" would take on new meaning.

The answer is obvious. We don't know because He didn't make ANY known choices in a geopolitical sense at all. If we were to do what we know Jesus would do by observing His example, we would do NOTHING.

Now...does this mean we shouldn't vote or participate? Does this mean we should do nothing during our election for President? Well..I would absolutely have to say it means I can't announce my choice as His choice and yours as not being His choice. I sure can't say you're sinning [missing the mark] if I don't know what the mark is because it isn't stated in scripture even in example. I can't say without some pause that I know categorically "WJWD."

I can say I believe it means I'm to use every principle that I've found for me in the New Covenant that pertains to life in general and relationships in particular and make use of those principles in coming to my choice. It does mean I not to forget to have confidence that the ultimate results of all issues are genuinely in His hands for purposes I may not know as of yet. It does mean I'm to submit to every ordinance of man with rare exceptions and even then ready to pay the price willingly for not doing so in those rare occasions, whomever is elected to lead.

Does this mean it's better to not participate? That's not the point I'm making at all. The right or the wrong would not be in voting or not voting. The wrong would be to announce one vote as christian and the other as not. One has said it better than I can when he said, "Nowhere in the NT is there even a hint of a command for us to participate in the human political election processes, nor do we find it a forbidden activity." It is obvious to me that this quote isn't saying it's evil to vote or not to vote. What it's saying is each believer is free as a citizen of both countries [heaven and earth] to use his or her judgment in such matters.

Any vote a believer casts, however, must be done as an act of faith or it is sin no matter what candidate one votes for as Romans 14 clearly points out. So to vote for a person out of fear or anger or judgment [condemnation] or any other reason, except faith, puts us in jeopardy of missing God in it.

So..for whom am I voting? I don't know yet. But whatever my choice as a citizen of America, my confidence is not in that person or that party or those promises made.

What would Jesus do? He would/did do the work of the Cross and has left us [believers] with that message which far transcends any geopolitical message or situation and is needed by every person of every nation and is/should be our greatest concern and must never be mixed with or confused with any political party. Let me say it clearly for myself at least.

God isn't white or black. God isn't a Democrat, Republican or Independent.

God isn't even an American.

Paul B.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This has been a difficult three month period of time. Surgery led the way. My recovery from this occasion of cutting has been more bothersome for me personally than was triple by-pass twenty two years ago. Major construction in our back yard continued the trend. Mud, men and mess were the order of the day for weeks and so continued the days of difficulty.

The death of my ninety year old mother on the 4th of October began a three week period of family ministry for all of us that continues to this day. While it was a joy to celebrate her home going for a number of reasons, not the least of which was her bad health coupled with a sharp mind to the end which made for her having tears daily wondering why her Lord hadn't taken her home during the night, there is still the void faced and the emptied emotional capacity that always follows the death of a loved one. But His Grace is sufficient for it all and we have found that to be specifically true in these difficult days.

All of that to simply say...I haven't been around the blog world for a while. I haven't wanted to be around. It may even be...that I wasn't missed, but, be that as it may, you're stuck with me being back. :)

Seriously, I am ready [I think] to try to put some thoughts in print. We shall see. This is just fair warning. [You can tell I'm trying to be light about it all. It's been heavy for a while and, while that's OK, I'm ready for some lightness.] So a post will be forth coming that will assist in the clearing of the fog in my brain. Maybe even this week-end.

I must say, however, I "read" much....just have not "said "much. That's about to change. Fair warning as I indicated.

Paul B.