Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FIFTY YEARS TODAY---MAY 28th 1959----MAY 28th 2009

Mary Burleson

Here is the woman who has shared those fifty years with me.


Friday, May 22, 2009


Who would have believed it? Married at eighteen [that's me] and seventeen [that's Mary] with no money, no sense, and no experience in relationships that were really healthy at all. I was already pastoring a church as a freshmen at OBU [The Oklahoma one] while Mary was finishing her senior year of Highschool. She graduated on Tuesday night and we were married the following Thursday night, May 28th, 1959.

Three babies were born in four years. The first was a daughter we named Cherri. The second was a son we named Wade. The third was a daughter we named Melody who was born ON our fourth wedding anniversary. After the doctor explained to us what was causing it all, the next son, and last child, a boy we named Brett, wasn't born until eight years later. Mary and I are quick learners.

But this isn't about the kids. It's about the one who is the mother of those kids and a wife to their father. It is now fifty years later. As I said, who would have believed that as one song says...

Doesn't seem like we've been together all our lives.
Doesn't seem like we've been together since we got out of school.
Who've thought we'd still love each other when the twilight years arrive.
Doesn't seem like we've been together all our lives.

It's not been easy. It has certainly been harder for Mary than for me because of the damaged goods she got in me as a husband. I won't get into it except to say I was something of a weird duck. Fearful, controlling, and demanding, [I fit right into the fundamentalism I had embraced religiously] she had her times of trials ahead of her fifty years ago. [I still struggle somewhat. Tell me I ought to do something or I should do something and I bristle.]

That's not to say Mary didn't have her own struggles for maturity. She is the first to admit that. But hers were of an easier category to live with than were mine, it seems to me. I often hear people say they never quarreled or fought. I don't believe them. But if that were true, one of them was unnecessary and their life was boring at its very best. But what else would I say!!

What was it that got us through? I know it was the Grace of God. But I'm asking what did that Grace look like? If I were to try to boil it down, for me, it could be explained in one word..."generosity." I read a paper once that explained "generosity" in a new way for me and it has forever changed my understanding. Especially as it relates to marriage.

Next time I will explain that word which describes, from my perspective, how we've been able to last in a marriage for fifty years. But right now I only want to say to Mary a big "thank you" for those years. The chorus of a song written and sung by Alan Jackson says it best for me Mary......

And if I had it to do all over
I'd do it all over again.
If tomorrow I found one more chance to begin
I'd love you all over again.


Then 1959

Now 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Much is being made of the idea that William Paul Young, author of the book, "The Shack," does not hold to the penal substitution view of the atonement of Christ. Whether this is an accurate statement of his position on the atonement or not I don't know for sure. I haven't asked him.

Some people say that interviews posted on the Internet show he doesn't hold to the penal substitution view. Some say those interviews are taking a few statements he's made out of context. I don't know the answer to that. I haven't read or heard all the interviews.

Some say his book shows he doesn't accept the penal substitution view. I've read the book twice and can't say that I found a statement that would answer that question at all. Besides it is a book of fiction using allegory. There is a lot in it that wouldn't fit into a systematic theology study. But it sure fits into life experiences and stretches me to view God relationally in ways that I can appreciate having grown to know Him in pain and suffering as I have in my lifetime.

All that said, I have two questions I wish to ask to prompt a discussion.

One question one particular view of the atonement essential for salvation to be real and genuine?. A second one is, does holding a view other than penal substitution make the holder of such a view heretical?

To show the case presented by someone who does not hold to the penal substitution view, though the P.S. view happens to be my own view at present, I'm going to post an article I found on this subject. I will post another part or maybe two later and then show who said it.

I don't know whether Paul Young agrees with what this man says or not. I don't know whether you will or not. But this guy DOES articulate clearly a different view of the atonement than the one I hold. [I love doing this. Playing the devil's advocate is an art don't you think? :)]

Remember, say WHY you think what this man says about the atonement makes him a heretic or why he couldn't possibly know the Lord. [Or why you think he is NOT heretical and COULD be a true believer.] But whatever we say, in agreement or disagreement, I know we will use only words that edify. That's our custom here. Thanks for that in advance.

‘It is not good to punish an innocent man’
(Proverbs 17:26, NIV)
‘In his humiliation he was deprived of justice,’ Acts 8:33.

"This is what the Bible says happened to Jesus at His trial. He was deprived of justice. Yet, so often, theologians try to explain the crucifixion in terms of God’s justice. Why is this? The Bible nowhere states that Jesus was justly executed. On the contrary, it is the contention of Scripture that He died as the Lamb without blemish and without spot leaving us an example of how to endure when suffering wrongfully (1 Pet.1:19; 2:19-23).

Now, the phrase: ‘without blemish and without spot’ is not a reference to His physical condition, for He was marred more than any man (Isa.52:14), but to Christ’s spiritual condition. To the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote that the offering and sacrifice that Jesus gave to God was ‘a sweet-smelling aroma’ (Eph.5:2), that is—without any stench of corruption. The Lord Jesus Christ, in both life and death, was spiritually pure and untainted by sin.

So, what is the reasoning that leads so many to believe today that Christ atoned for our sins by suffering the penalty of death according to God’s justice? Basically, it is this:

1. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom.3:23). Even newborn infants are born with a sinful nature (Ps.51:5). This is due to the corruption that entered into mankind through sin, as illustrated by the fall of Adam (Rom.5:19).

2. Death is the penalty for sin against God (Rom.6:23). God’s law demands satisfaction.

3. Mankind cannot earn salvation from sin by good works (Gal.2:16).

4. Only by faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ can we be saved (Acts 4:12; Rom.3:24-26).

5. Jesus died to pay the penalty of death in our place, that we might live (Rom.5:8; John 3:16). Physically, He became a substitute and suffered the punishment that was our due and just reward.

6. On the cross, Jesus took all our sins and guilt upon Himself, becoming legally responsible for all the sins of mankind (2 Cor.5:21; 1 Pet.2:24; Is.53:6-12). Spiritually, He became a substitute; and, as such, God the Father turned away and left Him derelict during the crucifixion (Mat.27:46). He suffered the penalty of separation from God the Father, which is a consequence and penalty of sin.

It sounds convincing, especially when we are led to read certain Bible verses with this view in mind; but we must examine the Scriptures in context and analyze this teaching carefully in the light of God’s Word, to know if it is true. It is possible to have faith in Christ and be in error. Trust can be genuine, but understanding can be flawed. It is possible to come to a belief in Christ as personal Saviour and Lord without a true understanding of the atonement.

However, faith that has come through a flawed or false gospel will be limited in power and effect, according to the degree of accepted error. The Lord calls us by various means, but He expects us to overcome our errors as we mature in faith.

Surprising as it may seem, the above interpretation is not the only one given to these verses of Scripture—but it may be the only one you have heard so far. Now is the time to examine the Bible again, from a different point of view. Verses of Scripture never contradict each other. Too often, apparent conflicts are called ’mysteries’, when in fact they are simply problems of understanding that can be clearly resolved when the correct interpretations are applied.

Could God have done that which is not good? Could God have punished an innocent Man? (Prov.17:26, NIV). If the argument is that God made Jesus guilty for our sins, then we have another problem to reconcile: It is written, ‘The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself’ (Ez.18:20, NKJ).

The context of Ezekiel chapter 18 makes it clear that God’s justice does not allow for the transfer of guilt from one person to another. The responsibility for sin lies with the sinner. Even the conscience and reason testify that justice must be correctly applied and is not simply a matter of exacting a penalty—as though the issuing of the penalty is all that is important, even if it falls upon one who is innocent of the offence. True justice requires that the penalty for a crime be applied to the guilty alone, as it states in the Law: ‘Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin’ (Deut.24v16, NKJ; cf. 2 Chron. 25v4). In ancient times, it was a practice to also punish close relatives of the guilty for serious crimes. The Lord loathes all injustice..17:15: ‘Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the LORD detests them both’ (NIV).
Jesus gave His life for us as a perfect sacrifice, without sin. Yet, in His body He bore our sins—the sins of man. He was bruised, lacerated, torn and pierced. The sins of mankind were plainly visible in His flesh. He also bore the pain of man’s sins in His heart. He was burdened by those sins, but He was never the One responsible for them. The sins were the sins of mankind. Justice demands that the guilty must answer for their sins, not the innocent. How then are we set free from the penalty of death? It is through the offering Christ made of His life. This He gave willingly to God for us—as the perfect offering and covering for sin—sufficient for all who truly believe and repent.

Christ’s forsakenness at the time of His trial was physical—not spiritual. The Father removed His protection and permitted His Son to be delivered into the hands of sinful men. God did not resist, but allowed His love to shine forth in the midst of suffering. Jesus gave the sacrifice to God of a sinless perfect life for our sakes. He gave what mankind cannot give, because of sin. His offering avails for all who now trust in Him as Saviour and Lord.

So, what of the penalty of death? Didn’t Jesus die for us? Yes. In death, He made the perfect offering of His life to God for our salvation. This is why Peter emphasizes the purity of Christ’s blood and offering. Christ’s gift of Himself had to be without spot and blemish, as symbolized by the Old Testament sacrifices. These were instituted to foreshadow the purity of Christ’s own sacrifice. That is why Jesus died—to be an offering, holy and acceptable to God for our sakes. Now, as we put our trust in Him, we are accepted by God along with Him. Jesus did not die to pay (as is supposed) the penalty of death. It was not God’s punishment, although He allowed His Son to suffer because of the good that would ensue. The judgment upon Jesus at His trial was the justice of man.

The justice of God was the justice of the resurrection, when the Father overturned the verdict of an earthly court and raised Jesus to a position of heavenly glory, giving Him a name that is above every name. It was to ‘Him who judges righteously’ that Jesus committed Himself (1 Pet.2:23), not to the justice of sinful man."

I will post more of what this man says later. It is obvious he and I might differ on the extent and even the purpose of the atonement. But does that make him heretical or unable to experience the Grace of God? What do you think?

Paul B.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Most of you know that several years ago Mary and I served as Senior pastor and family at Southcliff Baptist Church in Fort Worth Texas. We were only three minutes from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and ministered to several hundred seminarians each year. Our hearts will forever be connected to both Southcliff and Southwestern. [I graduated from SWBTS in 1968.]

One couple in the church, Tom and Shirley Coston, has honored us recently, and humbled us as well, with a scholarship fund established in our name to be presented to a Seminary student each year as shown on the certificate above. We were invited to the Scholarship dinner recently where the first recipient was announced but were unable to attend. [Maybe next year.]

Mary and I wish to say thank you to Shirley and Tom and share with all of you what has been provided annually to some worthy person who will be studying for the ministry by two special people I had the privilege of pastoring year ago and whom we will forever appreciate. So...."Thanks Tom and Shirley. We love you too."
Paul B.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


I'm going to do something I never do when in the pulpit. I'm going to wax eloquent about politics. But the eloquence is not mine and I'm not going to tell who said it [to minimize any prejudice] or whether I agree with it or not until the next post. I want to hear what you think about it. A couple of things first....

One__ I know the Lord is Sovereign over all nations, No question. His purposes will be accomplished. But I am asking us to discuss our responsible part in it all.

Two__ As believers we are citizens of another country and must never get more involved in the politics of America than we are involved in the gospel of the Kingdom. America is not the Kingdom of God and America is not a Christian nation since there is only one of those [1 Peter 2:9] and that's the one God is building made up of every believer out of every nation on earth who has responded to the true gospel of Christ. But, that said, we are to live responsibly as citizens in both I think.

Three__I don't know whether or not this will fly as a good conversational piece, but I thought it worth a try seeing the dire straits we're in politically these days. The author is a bit cynical perhaps and that may be something someone will wish to address. But whatever we say, let's speak of our citizenship here, but speak with our spirit reflecting our citizenship there. Thanks.

QUOTE FROM____________?

"The framers of the Constitution may have been brilliant but they weren't perfect.

They lived in another age__lawyers, merchants, and gentlemen farmers__amateur politicians all. For their time the concepts they introduced were radical, but they were not unrestrained. The preamble may have been orchestrated for "We the People," but the fine print kept the common fingers off the piano keys.

The founders were men of property, in an age when only men who owned property could vote. The concept of common sufferage, to say nothing of women voting, was alien to them, something they would have rebelled against as vigorously as they fought the British Empire. Campaigning for public office was an act of personal dishonor.

They could not conceive of their experiment falling into the hands of full-time politicians steered by armies of consultants, forming committees to suck millions in "donations" from those seeking favor from government: permanent officeholders who would wield the levers of power with the partisan ruthlessness of warlords.

A Congress routinely hijacking essential national legislation just to load it with amendments like tumors, hauling pork back to their districts to solidify their death grip on power. This would have been as foreign to them as E.T. When Lincoln sat in Congress for his single term, beginning in 1847, he considered himself lucky to have a desk with a drawer in it for his private papers and the privilege to borrow a book from time to time from the Library of Congress.

Only the insane of the eighteenth century could foresee that a bleak two lines added to the Constitution a century after it's creation, authorizing the collection of a federal income tax, could result in a seventy-year rampage by government to mentally rape its own citizens with millions of pages of totally unintelligible tax laws, rules, regulations, and forms.

Today we have special federal tax courts because the law is so convoluted that ordinary federal judges are presumed too ignorant and unschooled to understand the complexities of laws and forms that every citizen down to the village janitor is required to understand, to obey, and to sign under penalty of perjury and threat of imprisonment.

Nor could it be possible in the Age of Reason to foresee a Social Security system that if run by a private business would result in their arrest, prosecution, and conviction for operating a Ponzi scheme. In the real world, taking invested funds in the form of Social Security taxes, paying current claims, and skimming the rest for other purposes is called embezzlement. When government does it, it is simply called politics. In either case the arithmetic is always the same. When the scheme goes belly-up, its operators, if they're smart, will be in Brazil, or, in the case of Congress, retired, which is the political equivalent of being in Brazil.

With all of this, the people in what is touted as the greatest democracy on the planet have no effective recourse. They cannot act directly to fix any of the obvious open sores or seeping wounds in their own government, because the founders didn't trust them with the only effective medicine, the power to amend their own Constitution. That is reserved for the serpent its creators never saw.

Short of revolution, something Jefferson urged take place at least every twenty years, the average citizen is left to pound sand by casting a largely empty vote to replace the devil-in-office with the devil-in-waiting and hope that the caustic nature of power to corrupt can somehow be neutralized.

Praying for the devil to grow a halo, we all plod on, one foot in front of the other, trusting that somehow we will not follow the Soviet Union over the national cliff."

Paul B.

UPDATE 5/7/09

There is a frequent commenter on Wade's blog [And sometimes here] who goes by the name of "Thy Peace" but should be called "Perry Mason." That person has a knack of putting information together and assisting in understanding of issues by putting that information out to the public. So you could say that that person also is a bit of an Internet detective.

"Thy Peace" found my source for this post and my love of fiction books has been found out. It is Steve Martini author of "Shadow of Power, who in that book" [chapter 8 pages 125-127] makes the interesting comment that is the basis for this post. [Even fictional books sometimes has profound insights.] Martini is a former lawyer, advocate for the abused, and has experience in civil and federal courts.

He's a good fiction writer too if you like the genre as much as I do. [If you do you might try Lee Child, James Grippando, Robert Crais, among others.] You certainly have to spend a lot of time in airports and on planes as do I to have the time I'm sure. Way to go Thy Peace. ;)