Thursday, September 30, 2010


Well it's official. My shoulder will need to be surgically repaired. I have a major tear and a second minor tear of the right rotator cuff that will need repaired with some bone spurs that need to be removed. The Doctor says it will not be without pain and discomfort in a long six month recovery period including therapy. The surgery looks to be on Tuesday, October 19th, at Community hospital in OKC.

This is the sixth individual surgery I will have had in the last three years. This old body getting a bit older and worn down is not fun stuff at all, but, keeping it functioning is the only recourse for me. I refuse to quit repairing it so I can keep getting in our pool, riding my motorcycle, and generally living a slight variation of the Paladin principle [Have bible will travel] and I know some will be far too young to know what that means but I'm not going to explain it. ;)

However...I am going to take a hiatus from blogging for a while. I would imagine it will be at least until the first of the year before I'll be personally ready to take it up again if I ever do at all. I enjoy writing but for some reason when recovering from surgery I don't have the wherewithal to be consistent. The pain and discomfort I am already facing is sapping my creative powers a bit anyway. Besides all that I'm a out of gas as far as words are concerned.

I know this impacts only a very few readers but for some reason those few individuals have become very important to me and I want to be up close and personal with you as a sometimes reader of vtmbottomline. It's kind of funny [weird] how I feel close to some people across this world that I've never even met personally and some that I've renewed relationships with after several years apart all because of the gift of the Internet.

All gifts, even good ones, have their up side and down side. If you don't believe it reread 11 Kings 18 where instructions were given to destroy the brass serpent which originally was a great healing gift from God. I guess that downside comes when we start elevating the gift above the God who gave it. That can even hold true for the gift of a healthy body I suppose. So I'm going to receive my body ANY way it comes good or bad, once I've been responsible in caring for it, and rejoice over the God behind it all.

Oops...a bit of creativity slipping out there. Old habits I guess. Seriously, thanks to all of you for our connectedness and I shall return, the Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Paul B.

a blogging haitus

a blogging haitus

Saturday, September 25, 2010


A good theologian and sometimes commenter to vtmbottomline is lin whose blog is here...

You will enjoy what he says on his blog which I'm reproducing and linking to below. Enjoy..

Complementarian Genetics 101

Based on 1 Timothy 2:9-15 and what we know from biology, the following is Complementarian Genetics 101:

The “x chromosome” carries the “deception gene.”

The “y chromosome,” however, carries the “anti-deception gene.”

So if a person has two x chromosomes, and is therefore a female, they are by nature and physiology “[completely] deceivable” (εξαπαταω).

However, if a person has one x chromosome and one y chromosome, and is therefore a male, they have a genetic defense against being completely deceived.

It is for this reason that only those with both an x and a y chromosome are to be entrusted with positions of authority in the church, and only they can teach both men and women.

And I would ask: If this is not Complementarian Genetics, why isn’t it?

HT: Eric W at

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I like Aussie John. I CERTAINLY like what he says in the comment sections of my posts here on vtmbottomline blog. I've never met him but he's part of the reason I love blogging. We are truly Internet friends and brothers in Christ.

As an example of WHY I like his comments, here is what he recently said on my last post. "Paul, for far too long, we Baptists and other evangelicals, have maintained, rather arrogantly, that we have the right to seek to convert whomever we decide needs converting, and by whatever means. Jesus NEVER commanded that we make converts. Any good salesman can do that. I know that only too well from my experience as a young "pastor". If we would read His command properly and seek to be a follower of Christ who makes disciples, who, [those disciples] in turn, become disciple, that's another story."

Making disciples really is what it's all about as Aussie J. points out. Historically, Southern Baptists have called it "Evangelism." But, unfortunately, we've made the mistake of thinking of evangelism as something separate and apart from disciple-making. It isn't. So for the sake of being understood in what I want to say, I will use the the two phrases "disciple making " and "evangelism" interchangeably in the up coming posts on the subject of "biblical evangelism." It will take several posts and a ton of words to say all I want to say on the subject. But you are welcome to join me on this journey if you desire.

I'll begin by asking this question. What is evangelism/disciple-making really as far as the scripture is concerned? Whatever it is.. it will ultimately bring about what Paul the Apostle describes in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 where he refers to the Thessalonians, whom he had personally evangelized, as his "hope, or joy or crown of His [Christs] coming." So that passage, if it shows anything, shows that true evangelism will result in personal conversions, new congregations, and a continued walk of new believers with Christ. That certainly indicates evangelism is more than quoting the Roman road to someone or handing out a tract neither of which, by the way, is bad in and of itself. Only when such is viewed as evangelism fully defined.

So to answer the question of what constitutes evangelism/discipleship-making will require looking at several things. The first is the basis of evangelism/disciple-making so far as the scriptures are concerned. What do we base our message on that results in true biblical evangelism? Is it our telling people how badly they need deliverance? Is it addressing the emptiness of their life? Is it telling people God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life? Do we begin with man even? Or is there a much stronger foundation to be laid for the gospel to impact human life?

I believe that the fundamental and absolutely necessary beginning point is that Jesus Christ has DONE something. According to Matthew 20:17-28 Jesus has suffered, died, and was raised from the dead as an accomplished fact. That fact is interpreted as to it's purpose in verse 28 where it is declared to be a "ransom for many." This makes very clear to me that the message we deliver is NOT one of something POTENTIALLY happening that we could call getting "saved" but something that has ACTUALLY happened that we announce as a "finished work" of the One who came to save. The gospel is about HIM.

So my personal testimony may have a place, but it isn't the foundation of the gospel. Everyone needing to be saved is certainly a reality, but it isn't the foundation of our gospel message. Even to talk of "sharing" the gospel must be thought of as speaking of what has been done in the Person and Finished Work of Christ. It all begins there.

All the rest we of our message is an explanation of the.. why He did deal with sin and it's consequence..who it is doing this..the uniqueness of the birth, life, and death of Christ.. what was done in this..redemption and it's consequences personally. But the gospel [Good news] is not about man and his condition, society and it's failure, sin and it's consequences, FIRST. It begins with God..just as Genesis began with Him.. and His Revelation of Himself in Christ. It all begins here. To do otherwise is to introduce a man-centered gospel instead of a God-centered gospel and you wind up with a false gospel.

Next I'll look at the COMMISSION for evangelism/disciple-making and what that means for us

Monday, September 13, 2010


I know I'm something of an idealist as an American citizen, but, speaking as one, I'm wondering what would happen if appropriate and seriously religious people got together and really got down to brass tacks concerning their religion and our American way of life. I'm imagining people of all Faiths willing to be as serious about their citizenship in America as those young men and women are who go off to fight wars to protect our way of life. If this were to be true, it might show up as something like the following.

What if Americans who say they follow the Christian Faith opened a major national web-site on which they presented the following positions on things in America today.....

One___On the eleventh of September 2001 nineteen people who believed they had a religious mandate to fly planes into buildings and slaughter thousands of innocent people did just that in a despicable manner. We condemn those people and their actions based on our own religious beliefs and we declare that what they did was nothing more than mass murder under the name of a false and perverted religion as have other similar acts been when perpetrated by other religions throughout history.

Two___We stand opposed to such violence and will lead out in rallying against it and will demand that any action of that nature done by anyone calling themselves Christians will be confronted by the truth as revealed in our sacred book, the Bible, and will call upon anyone who names Christ as their Lord to put away hatred and violence as part of their life. This pertains to any violence that is perpetrated on the basis of religion, race, creed or gender.

Three__We join hands in praying for the leaders of our nation and join with all Americans in respecting the rule of law in our society. While we hold our Faith to be foremost in our minds and hearts, we recognize that civil law is the guide to our pluralistic society and we do not demand that our government be guided by our beliefs. We do however, desire the government to protect a citizens right to practice or not practice, their own faith or non-faith, whichever the case may be, without fear of reprisal.

Four___We stand with all Americans in holding that our nation is founded upon natural law and our beloved constitution which recognizes that certain unalienable rights are held by all American citizens without regard to status, race, gender, or religion. We further commit that no person, religion, political party, or system that could be established will ever be allowed to deny those unalienable rights to any American citizen.

What if Americans who say they follow the Jewish Faith opened a major national web-site on which they presented these positions on things in America today.....

One___On the eleventh of September 2001 nineteen people who believed they had a religious mandate to fly planes into buildings and slaughter thousands of innocent people did just that in a despicable manner. We condemn those people and their actions based on our own religious beliefs and we declare that what they did was nothing more than mass murder under the name of a false and perverted religion as have other similar acts been when perpetrated by other religions throughout history.

Two___We stand opposed to such violence and will lead out in rallying against it and will demand that any action done of that nature done by anyone calling themselves Jews will be confronted by the truth as revealed in our sacred book, the Torah, and will call upon anyone who names Yahweh as their God to put away hatred and violence as part of their life. This pertains to any violence that is perpetrated on the basis of religion, race, creed or gender.

Three__We join hands in praying for the leaders of our nation and join with all Americans in respecting the rule of law in our society. While we hold our Faith to be foremost in our minds and hearts, we recognize that civil law is the guide to our pluralistic society and we do not demand that our government be guided by our beliefs. We do however, desire the government to protect a citizens right to practice or not practice, their own faith or non-faith, whichever the case may be, without fear of reprisal.

Four___We stand with all Americans in holding that our nation is founded upon natural law and our beloved constitution which recognizes certain unalienable rights that are held by all American citizens without regard to status, race, gender, or religion. We further commit that no person, religion, political party, or system that could be established will ever be allowed to deny those unalienable rights to any American citizen.

What if Americans who say they follow the Islamic Faith opened a major national web-site on which they presented these positions on things in America today.....

One___On the eleventh of September 2001 nineteen people who believed they had a religious mandate to fly planes into buildings and slaughter thousands of innocent people did just that in a despicable manner. We condemn those people and their actions based on our own religious beliefs and we declare that what they did was nothing more than mass murder under the name of a false and perverted religion as have other similar acts been when perpetrated by other religions throughout history.

Two___We stand opposed to such violence and will lead out in rallying against it and will demand that any action done of that nature done by anyone calling themselves followers of Islam will be confronted by the truth as revealed in our sacred book, the Koran, and will call upon anyone who names Mohammad as their Prophet to put away hatred and violence as part of their life. This pertains to any violence that is perpetrated on the basis of religion, race, creed or gender.

Three__We join hands in praying for the leaders of our nation and join with all Americans in respecting the rule of law in our society. While we hold our Faith to be foremost in our minds and hearts, we recognize that civil law is the guide to our pluralistic society and we do not demand that our government be guided by our beliefs. We do however, desire the government to protect a citizens right to practice or not practice, their own faith or non-faith, whichever the case may be, without fear of reprisal.

Four___We stand with all Americans in holding that our nation is founded upon natural law that recognizes certain unalienable rights that are held by all American citizens without regard to status, race, gender, or religion. We further commit that no person, religion, political party, or system that could be established will ever be allowed to deny those unalienable rights to any American citizen.

What if...?

I admitted I'm idealistic at the very outset but it's fun to speculate. I do have to also add that the tenants [ official beliefs] of the above religions would have to allow this kind of pluralistic society and the individual adherents of each would have to be willing to be a citizen of a nation that does not OFFICIALLY adopt ANY religion as its own. I'll leave for you to decide whether a follower of the Christian, Jewish or Islamic faith can do this and be a true follower of their particular religion. Mine does for me.

Thursday, September 09, 2010



Paraprosdokian` is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or
phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener
to reframe the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic
effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely
popular among comedians and satirists.


My good friend Tom Webb sent a fun e-mail today. He's quite a poet and something of a comedian too. He introduced me to the word
"prosdokian". What follows is his e-mail slightly adapted for my blog. Enjoy.

TOM WEBB said...."Were you aware that today is National Paraprosdokian
Day. Paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to
reframe or reinterpret the first part. Check out the following for

I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way
so I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

Do not argue with an idiot because he will drag
you down to his level and beat you with experience

I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather
and not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you,
but that is on the list.

Light travels faster than sound and that's why some people
appear bright until you hear them speak.

If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

War does not determine who is right just who is left.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit but
wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

The early bird might get the worm, but the
second mouse always gets the cheese.

Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening',
and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

A bus station is where a bus stops and a train station
is where a train stops so my desk is a work station.

How is it one careless match can start a
forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire.

A bank is a place that will lend you
money, if you can prove that you don't need it.

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with
"Guess" on I said "Implants?"

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four
billion stars, but always check when you say the paint is

Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for
president and 50 for Miss America ?

Behind every successful man is his woman and behind the fall
of a successful man is usually another woman.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

You do not need a parachute to skydive but you definitely
need a parachute to skydive twice.

The voices in my head may not be real, but
they have some darned good ideas!

Always borrow money from a pessimist because he
won't expect it back.

A diplomat is someone who can tell you to
go to hell in such a way that you will
look forward to the trip.

Hospitality: making your guests feel like
they're at home, even if you wish they were.

Money can't buy happiness, but it sure
makes misery easier to live with.

I've discovered I scream the same way whether
I'm about to be devoured by a great white shark
or if a piece of seaweed touches
my foot.

Some cause happiness wherever they go but others whenever they go.

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure anymore.

I always take life with a grain of salt,
plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.

When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember
that the Fire Department usually uses water.

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and
call whatever you hit the target.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people
but others have no imagination whatsoever.

A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast
when you are after it as when you are in it.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

TOM WEBB said...."By the way, I was just kidding about it
being National Paraprosdokian Day.
In any case, have a great day and love to all"

Paul B..

Friday, September 03, 2010


An old friend, Jamall Badry, died last week. Three old friends, Bill Willard, Billy Hardy, and Pat Walker, all board members of VTM which is my ministry organization, died last year. I turned seventy a few weeks back. All this has got me to thinking again about the end of this life and the beginning of the new one in eternity. Do you suppose whatever eternity is like, as a place, it may not be "out there" or even "up there" but, perhaps "right here?"

Do you recall when Stephen was stoned he saw the Lord standing at the Father's throne but there's no mention of a telescope? How about when the Prophet's servant was concerned about the enemy attacking and the Prophet asked the Lord to let him see..and he did. He saw angels, hosts of them, surrounding the place. No telescope there either. When the Archangel was sent to announce the birth of Jesus to Mary are we to think of him coming past the milky way making his way to earth to that handmaiden?

Add to all that the fact of the Mt. of Transfiguration where Moses and Elijah were present with the Lord. Are we to think of them coming from a great distance to get there? Is it possible there is a better understanding than that? Does this "better understanding," if there is one, say something to us about our Christian loved ones who have preceded us in death?

As I said, all this has got me to thinking again about something I've mentioned before but want to look at again. Maybe I'm just looking for a comforting word about my family and friends who are dying. There seems to be quite a few deaths and I'm quite sure, all things being equal, there will be more to come, ultimately even my own, if Jesus tarries.

Could it be that wherever heaven is or the Lord is or our loved ones are, it is not a matter, really, of distance from us, but of a different dimension only. What do I mean by this? I'm glad you asked.

Let's just say, what if the physical world we know, made up of multiple dimensions which used to be thought of as only three, but then a fourth, time, was added, but now thought to be as many as from eleven to nineteen depending on the scientist one listened to, were actually separated from the spiritual or eternal dimension, which we can not now know, by simply a matter of dimension and not the distance at all? [Long it again carefully observing the commas.] In other words, what if there is the natural realm [Multi-dimensional] and the supernatural realm [Multi-dimensional since Paul was caught up into the third heavens of the supernatural realm remember.] and both are as real as the bible says.

Now suppose we're programed to relate to the natural but also built for the supernatural. It's the scriptures that tell the story of our losing out on the spiritual and being confined to the natural. But further suppose that God operates in both being, as He is, the Person of the one [Spirit..Himself being such.] and the Creator of the other. [The natural.] So He steps from the one into the other manifesting His eteral presence in both. We call it a miracle since wherever God is manifested, is a miraculous moment. Thus all of life is miraculous.[A God-thing.]

Natural man [Lost people] cannot see nor know the spiritual. [1 Corinthians 2-3] But a Christian has been introduced to the spiritual by being born again spiritually, though still living in the natural also. Death, it seems to me, would then move that Christian completely into the spiritual from the natural.

But what if that spiritual is NOT "out there or up there" but right here without our being able to relate to it..YET.!! What does this do to life? Among a lot of other interesting things, it makes ALL of life a sacred thing, as stated above, and both natural and spiritual are lived in to a degree by the Christian. The "spiritual" presently limited to some degree but one day won't be. "Then we shall know even as we're known."

This is why I don't ever say "Oh that's just a natural thing and not a God thing [spiritual] so I'm not interested in it." That makes the natural less than spiritual and second rate as life contrary to scripture. [1 Corinthians 3 "All things are yours."] I'm very much interested in the natural world and enjoy all aspects of it totally. [That's why I'm something of an environmentalist you see.]

I even enjoy a motorcycle ride and celebrate it as a God thing in His creation and my life. I enjoy football, concerts, our swimming pool as a God thing. I enjoy my wife, in every relational sense, the same way. It's ALL sacred to me. This makes that verse "Whatsoever you do do all to the glory of God." that word "glory" [doxa] means "God seen/experienced as present." All of the natural world is sacred to me.

BUT neither do I ever say "Oh that's a spiritual thing and I don't really care about it or believe in it since it's not real or natural." For me to talk that way would be to miss out of half of realty, whichever half I'm not willing to admit as real, whether I understand it all or not. For me.. God is real in both the natural AND spiritual and Jesus is Lord of all. So as the chorus I love says it...

If I live well.. praise the Lord.
If I die well.. praise the Lord.
If I live or only cry..
Is.. Jesus in me.. well praise the Lord.

So, I'm not so sure I'm not "praising the Lord" with my friends who've died, right now, albeit simply separated from them by a little thing called dimension only and maybe not by distance at all. What if........?

Paul B.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


In February of 2007 I posted on a subject that bears repeating I think. What do you think?


It was stated in an article I read a few years ago that the greatest "heresy' in the American form of Christianity may well be the "heresy of application." By this the author was conveying the idea that, for many, the "form" [application] became as sacred as the"function" [interpretation] of the text. The author suggested that this may be the case with many "Truths/Doctrines and their application to life. We begin to hold a "way of doing it" to be as sacred as what is "to be done." So we wind up, for example, arguing over the elements of the Lord's supper and who serves it.

Another rather simple, even shallow illustration of this is the function of prayer. To pray, by scriptural definition, is to commune with God who is Spirit with your spirit. [This is the only way to pray without ceasing makes any sense. I'm aware that the word 'ceasing' means intermittently like a hacking cough.]

But the next person teaching on prayer suggests that to bow one's head and shut one's eyes will help because you shut out distractions. Good idea. Except the next teacher says that prayer IS bowing your head and closing your eyes in order to commune with God who is Spirit with your spirit.

Thus, the form my wife and I enjoy of raising our glasses of water/tea and toasting the lord while both of us are thanking him for the meal and each other with eyes on each other, is NOT real prayer. But by scriptural definitions it is. Application [form] is NOT sacred and binding. You see the problem.

Another illustration, perhaps just as shallow 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 [function] so when you meet Him early in the morning you are putting your focus on Him first." Nice, even a correct statement.

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 spiritual when you meet Him early. NB..NB becomes their teaching. "No Bible, no breakfast" if you want to really be spiritual in your walk is their teaching. 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.

Of course, were this really "Truth"then no one could have been really spiritual until the invention 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. 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. [Of course, he would then add that he was doing it another time to not be prideful since no one brags about a quiet time unless it's early. :)] Thus, the "heresy of application." The "form" [how you do it] becomes as sacred as the "function". [What the scripture says .] It must not be lost on us that much, if not most, of our debating is about the "applications" we make of the truths of scripture. should not be so. Methods, forms, the way one does things is NOT sacred and must OFTEN change with culture and times to gain a hearing.

Paul B.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I'm what's commonly called a "Calvinist." One is called a "Calvinist" for believing in what are called the doctrines of Grace. Five doctrines of grace are usually associated with Calvinism and, normally, holding to these five results in one being identified with that label. But, when someone holds to only one of the doctrines like say Eternal Preservation [Security] or, as it is sometimes referred to, Eternal Perseverance, they are called a Calvinist also. The word "Cavinist" comes from the man John Calvin who became known for the formulating of the five doctrines which are also designated with the acronym TULIP. Stated this way...

T__Total depravity
U__Unconditional election
L__Limited Atonement
I__Irresistable Grace
P__Preservation of the Saints.

My point with this post, let me be clear here, is not to defend the five doctrines or even to explain them. I certainly will not defend Calvin himself because he left some things indefensible IMHO. I don't even particularly like being known by the designation "Calvinist." I don't like labels in general, even the Southern Baptist one.

But I'm smart enough to know that labels are only words which, if carefully defined, can convey an idea of what a person believes. But remember that no single label can adequately nor accurately reveal who a person is or what they believe really. Even the term "Christian" falls into that category in these times it seems to me.

All that said, I want to respond to a single accusation made against the idea of holding to one of those doctrines of Grace. It is the one that is refered to as "Limited atonement" which is also known as "particular redemption" as I prefer to call it. This is the belief that Jesus ACTUALLY died for some people and that those will ULTIMATELY come to know Him. This, instead of a second idea that He died for ALL people and potentially NONE, SOME, OR ALL, could come to know Him. [With some variations of this out there.]

But the thought/accusation I'm addressing is that, if one holds to the first, which I do, then there would/will be no need for evangelism in that person's opinion and, in fact, evangelism will suffer. Even die as an enterprise.

Bear in mind as you read this who is writing it. I'm one who believes different opinions can be discussed graciously, lovingly, nicely and even enjoyably. Within Southern Baptists there are people who hold differing views on the doctrines of Grace. [Especially particular redemption or limited atonement.] Within my friends there are differing views held. Within my family there are differing views often. Even within my marriage there are sometimes differing views on some things... but my view is the right one of course. ; ) is possible to talk about issues with differing views without rancor and anger and that is what I hope we do here.

Remember.. the point I'm addressing is NOT which view of the purpose of the death of Christ is correct, but whether or not if holding to the limited atonement view kills true evangelism. In other words..does believing Jesus ACTUALLY died for some people who ULTIMATELY will come to know Him kill evangelism?

I say it does not. In fact, William Cary, the father of the Baptist mission movement personally held to limited atonement, and no one doubts his love and heart for evangelism.

My father-in-law was a five-point Calvinist [Which includes limited atonenment and you get my meaning now I'm sure.] and for the first several years of his Christian life led someone to faith in Christ EVERY DAY. I mean literally, every single day.

Finally, a day came when no one believed the gospel in his presence and he had to re-evaluate and come to the understanding that God's purpose was for him to share the gospel EVERY DAY and leave the results with God. He did just that for the REST OF THE YEARS of his life. I'll say it again, clearly. Every day of his Christian life until his death Fred Cherry shared the gospel with SOMEONE who was not a Christian.

C. H. Spurgeon was a Calvinist [Five pointer] and asked his people to stay home one Sunday a month in the later years of his ministry so non-christian people could come hear the gospel at the Tabernacle in London. They filled it those set aside Sundays.

Who knows how many have come to faith in Christ throught the evangelism of Calvinists? I could continue to name people who held to particular redemption like William Cary, Jonathan Edwards, John Murray and, my goodness, the list could go on for some time.

I have delighted in sharing the gospel and still do. I once would drive to a gas station to put in gas and talk to someone about Jesus Christ while putting in two dollars and go to another to finish filling up to get to share with someone else. While my methods have changed through the years the delight in sharing hasn't.

Though my preaching seldom if ever uses the label "Calvinism" which I dislike, or even uses the terms spoken about in the acronym TULIP, my preaching WILL cover the truth of Grace declared in scripture. My message winds up being a God-centered message which gives opportunity for people to respond and to take responsibility for repentence and brokenness over the message of the gospel which, I believe is evangelism.

Of course, if one defines evangelism in a narrow, free-will sense of getting someone to pray a little prayer because they're emotional and want to go to heaven, then Calvinism IS killing toward those kind of antics. I'm even opposed to powerless preaching or sharing from the pulpit that produces such.

But if by evangelism one means the preaching/sharing of the gospel and looking for the Holy Spirit to break, open, and move someone to receive the truth of the message of Christ and His Cross work because of their being humbled, then Calvinism will ALWAYS only enhance evangelism and fire the souls of people who know Christ to keep on evangelizing.

I fully believe people who teach free will in an inappropriate biblical fashion AND hyper-calvinists who are biblically inappropriate as well could BOTH kill evangelism since NEITHER is biblically correct and true to the gospel. But one who has the true knowledge of the true doctrines of Grace and an understanding of the work of the Spirit in setting a person free will ALWAYS acknowledge the METHOD of sharing the gospel is the MEANS by which God does His work of salvation. And that a true biblicist will know that our commission is to go to every creature [person] with the gospel leaving the results with God Himself.

I want to say in closing this post that I would never want to leave an impression that preaching the gospel is a pulpit thing ONLY. It is a personal and moment by moment thing for All believers who are ALL ministers of the gospel.

I wouldn't wish to even convey that it is a verbal thing ONLY. It is a life/relationship thing that results in words that give the message of Christ and His Cross work and can even BE someone preaching from a pulpit though never reserved FOR the pulpit only. [Who even needs a pulpit when we gather??

But, as we go sharing the gospel, our going is NOT because of a love for the ones to whom we go. We don't even know them often. Our love is a responding love to the One who loved us, redeemed us, and sent us out with His message to every creature. It is that "love of Christ" that" constrains" us as Paul the Apostle says, by which he meant it is an internal engine driving us forward to all people with the good news of Christ and His redemptive act.

And, if any respond, it is the work of God in them that brings it about. It is not our persuading them to do something that only they can do if they would just say yes. Evangelism is seeing people changed and moving in grace and power with the Lord of Lords. It's truly beyond us all but ours to do.

I can live with this.

Paul B.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


For the record...I'm opposed to Muslims [?] who hate Christians AND Christians [?] who hate Muslims. For that matter I'm also opposed to Atheists who hate Christians AND Christians [?] who hate Atheists. You can add to that the fact that I'm opposed to homosexuals who hate Christians AND Christians [?] who hate homosexuals. I'm even opposed to citizens who hate President Obama AND citizens who hate George Bush. You get the point I'm sure!!

Really the point to me is that too many people are known today as much for their hatred as they are a personally held belief system and it is the hatred that seems to be driving so many rather than any sane, sensible, good arguments for what they believe. So our society ends up being far more characterized by hatred rather than the differing beliefs held by its people.

Take as an example the proposed Mosque being built near the site of the 9-11 Terrorists tragedy. [Ground Zero no one need define.] I've read a few good and bad arguments for the construction of the Mosque. But I've read many arguments on both sides that are tainted with a degree of hatred that is, to me at least, unacceptable. I don't think I need to identify the hate filled ones. Why give them another opportunity to reveal their disgusting and non-useful negative emotion of hatred!!

I would rather give you an example of some fair and insightful arguments from BOTH sides. But I'm thinking you will find, as I did, that these are from totally unexpected sources. Both writers surprised me with their arguments but neither dishonored the whole event of 9-11 with venomous words or ideas or any vicious attitudes toward those who might disagree.

One is opposed to the Mosque being built. He is Abdul Rahman al-Rashid, the
left-leaning director of al-Arabiya TV and former editor of London's Arab daily,
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Abdul Raham al-Rashid said this...

"I cannot imagine that Muslims want a mosque on this particular site, because it will be turned into an arena for promoters of hatred, and a symbol of those who committed the crime. At the same time, there are no practicing Muslims in the district who need a place of worship, because it is indeed a commercial district. . . . The last thing Muslims want today is to build just a religious center out of defiance to others, or a symbolic mosque that people visit as a museum next to the site".

"The battle against the 11 September terrorists is a Muslim battle and this battle still is ablaze in more than 20 Muslim countries. Some Muslims will consider that building a mosque on this site immortalizes and commemorates what was done by the terrorists who committed their crime in the name of Islam. I do not think that the majority of Muslims want to build a symbol or a worship place that tomorrow might become a place about which the terrorists and their Muslim followers boast or which
will become a shrine for Islam haters whose aim is to turn the public opinion against Islam."

The other side is represented by Columnist Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers group who is is often featured on the Oklahomans Editorial page where I read her speaking in favor of the building of the Mosque. Here is only a portion of what she said.

[Parker wrote about the killings of the writers of cartoons and film makers ridiculing Mohammad by Islamic extremists because their sensitivities were offended and their using anger and violence to stop it. She was pointing out the obvious wrongness of such action by anyone because "feelings were hurt." She then continued with this.]

"The idea that one should never have one's feelings hurt__and has a right to resort to violent means in the protecting of their self-regard__ has done harm rivaling evil."

"This is why plans for the Mosque at ground zero should be allowed to proceed if this is what Muslims want...We teach tolerance by being tolerant. We can't insist that our freedom of speech allows us to draw cartoons of Mohammad or make films that Muslims find offensive, and then demand that they be more sensitive to our feelings."

"More to the point, the tolerance we urge the Muslim world to embrace as we exercise our right to free expression is the very same we must embrace when Muslims seek to express themselves peacefully."

Now whether you agree or disagree with either argument, you have to admit it is the arguments they present that you wind up dealing with and not the emotions or antics of silly people who can't express their ideas without revealing their anger and hatred for those who might disagree. It is the silly people I'm learning to avoid on blogs, Internet social sites, editorial pages or wherever they might attempt to persuade others with their ideas, whose value is lost,I think, by their creating an atmosphere of anger.

[Please don't try to quote the incident of Jesus getting angered by the money-changers in the Temple to show that some anger is right. When I see someone giving themselves to the betterment of all kinds of people as did Jesus who was ultimately willing to die on their behalf, I'll not be opposed to whatever anger they show. I promise. It will be the righteous kind.]

Paul B.

Friday, August 13, 2010


The Entitlement Generation, which also includes the generation Y or the Millennial generation of 1985 to 2000, is that group of people born between 1970 and 2000. Those words will be used inter-changeably throughout this post. Though there are a few technical differences between Generation Y and Millennial, they all make up the entitlement generation.. They are the children of the "Baby Boomers" which were the post World War Two babies.

It has been said of the baby boomers...[1945 to 1965 which I missed by five years]..." As a group, the baby boomers were the healthiest, and wealthiest generation to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time." The CHILDREN of the baby boomers have grown up with a far different mentality.

It is said that that they have questions regarding a clear definition of what it means to be an adult. In one study professors at Brigham Young University found that college students are more likely today to define "adult" based on certain personal abilities and characteristics rather than more traditional "rite of passage" events such as getting married, getting a job and supporting ones' self.

Dr. Larry Nelson, one of the three Marriage, Family, and Human Development professors to perform the study, noted that some Millennials are delaying the transition from childhood to adulthood as a response to mistakes made by their parents. "In prior generations, you get married and you start a career and you do that immediately.

What young people today say is that all that did was lead to divorces and to people being unhappy with their careers. The majority of the entitlement generation want to get married--they just want to do it right the first time, the same thing with their careers."

This is a noble desire and I wish them well. But there is a problem. There is a reason the Entitlement Generation is sometimes called the "Trophy Generation", or "Trophy Kids." That is a term that reflects the trend in competitive sports, as well as many other aspects of life, where "no one loses" and everyone gets a "Thanks for Participating" trophy and symbolizing a perceived sense of entitlement by every single person.

It has been reported that this is an issue in corporate environments. Some employers are concerned that Millennials have too many great expectations from the workplace and desire to completely shape their jobs to fit their lives rather than adapt their lives to the workplace.

I KNOW this shape to fit me thinking doesn't work in a marriage and though this generation may want to "do it right the first time," they will find that it takes hard work and self sacrifice to make a true marriage that's lasting and THAT doesn't come with a "me first" attitude.

But this entitlement generation has now found itself with a mentality that is best expressed in a nursery song that says...

No one looks the way I do.
I have noticed that it's true.
No one walks the way I walk.
No one talks the way I talk.
No one plays the way I play.
No one says the things I say.
I am special.
I am me..

Today many parents and psychologists wonder if songs like that were not big mistakes.

In the 1970s and 80s world of child rearing, the catchword was "self-esteem." A group called the Aspen Education Group which is recognized nationwide as a leading provider of education programs for struggling or underachieving young people, said this..."Unconditional love and being valued "just because you're you!" was the prevailing philosophy. In practice, it involved constantly praising children, not criticizing them under any circumstances, emphasizing feelings, and not recognizing one child's achievements as superior to an other's. At the end of a season, every player "won" a trophy. Instead of just one "student of the month," schools named dozens. Teachers inflated grades from kindergarten through college: "C" became the new "F." No one ever had to repeat a grade because staying behind caused poor self-esteem."

This gave rise to an "I deserve the very best" mentality whether the thing deserved was an education, allowance, car, computer, PlayStation or just gifts at Christmas in general. So a "me" generation developed with a mentality that thinks "I want it now because I deserve it as much as anyone" to every ones' seeming surprise. Duh!!!
Some of what is said above is, I believe, a legitimate thought process but it is based on something far different than a "Just because I'm me." mentality.

In fact, I believe as a Christian I AM to view myself as something special. But "Why" is the real question to be answered and is in scripture. The reason we will find there will produce people with a mindset that is 180 degrees from the "Me" generation. We'll look at this next time.

Paul B.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


My desire is to be a healthy skeptic. In fact, I believe God calls all of us to a healthy skepticism. Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits..." (Matthew 7:15-20) Especially when it comes to hearing someone say "God told me and He wants me to tell you." Being careful about accepting something as truth and NOT receiving it just because the name of God is invoked is very wise indeed.

All around us are voices that claim God told them something and they are to tell us of it's truth. People who are not healthily skeptical can wind up being told what to believe, what to do, how to vote, how to spend their money, how to raise their children and how their marriage relationship should be all because God told someone [they claim] the right way and they're passing it on to us.

I'm not talking about people who try to draw you away from scripture. Quite the opposite. I'm talking about people who are busy showing you from the bible why you should believe what God told them about a particular subject and how if you want to be biblical you need to accept what they are saying about it. After all.."God told them."

Some one I read said that, in his opinion, the bible is a dangerous book. Perhaps the most dangerous book in the world since Christians believe it to be the infallible, authoritative voice of God to men. What he's saying is quite correct from my perspective. This, because it is, in fact, His inspired word to us about His Son and I believe that message can radically change your life.

But that's the good danger. The other kind of danger is because throughout history people have twisted and perverted the meaning of the text of scripture to fit their agendas in order to, I suppose, get what they believe would be the authority of God behind their agendas. They wind up saying if you disagree with their words you are disagreeing with God Himself. So you can see I believe in the infallibility of the scriptures but not the infallibility of those who try to teach it's meaning. So a healthy skepticism would be in order I would think.

So how do you tell the difference between the true meaning of scripture and false teaching that can come from men about it?

One way is to compare their teaching to the rest of the Bible. Does it agree with the rest of the scriptures. No single verse is to be seen as truly standing alone but in the immediate context as to who is being addressed and why and the larger context of the whole of scripture. To miss this would be what is called "proof-texting" and with a single verse, unrelated to all others, ANY thing can be proven by scripture.

That’s a good test for what anyone says the bible is saying. Any book, any preacher, any idea, any philosophy, or any message supposedly from God should be challenged with this test. Apply it to me. Apply it to everyone you hear. That’s why it’s important to know what the Bible says and means and know how to study it and understand it under the leadership of the Holy Spirit in your own life. The idea of being "Berean Christians" is still a good one.

But there’s also something else you can use to evaluate a teaching. Jesus says we should evaluate what is being taught by what it produces in the life of the teacher. Luke 15:1–7.. "And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” It was obvious the Pharisees wouldn't and what they lived denied the truth of God. Jesus also chided the Pharisees for going out of their way to make a convert but refusing to love those in the way.

If a communicator's life is one of manipulation, judgmentalism, control, anger and negativism instead of respect, grace, and love of people, rest assured the teaching they do will produce the same in their life and in the life of those who follow them. That is an outcome you can be sure about. It's called reaping what is sown. What will happen in the lives of the people who follow this teacher, not just as an immediate outcome, but in the long-run, is a valid question to ask before you accept any word as if "God said it through them." God may not be in it at all. A healthy skepticism will discern which is true of the teacher.

While I'm in the neighborhood of this thought about a life of respect I might as well say it. It seems to me that ANY argument or debate in ANY area of life be it religious, political, sports or otherwise, that is carried on in a disrespectful, condemning, shaming, and sarcastic manner has lost the privilege of being heard. And in this era of communication that unfortunately characterizes much of what is being said in all areas of communication with others.

Being heard, however, is not a right. The right of free speech is a constitutional guarantee in this country it is true. But being given a hearing is a privilege, even a gift. When trampled on with disrespect from EITHER side of ANY argument or differing viewpoint about ANY issue, an audience can be lost. It will be if that audience has any real discernment at all.

So while the point of this post is that a healthy skepticism is needed toward those who would fraudulently say they are speaking for God, that same skepticism is well placed when it takes in anyone who shows disrespect toward others in their communication.


Maybe that's why I like blogs so much. Here at my house [blog] I can require that respect be shown or no comments be posted as I've indicated in the comment section. At someone else's house [blog] I can choose to visit or not and the presence/nonpresence of an atmosphere of respect will help me determine that visit or lack thereof. No demands on them to do differently than they're doing!! Just healthy skepticism on whether I'm to be in the audience or not. Which, by the way, won't matter to them I'm sure but it matters to me.

Paul B.

Friday, August 06, 2010


The word "idols" sounds archaic. We tend to think of statues or gargoyles or sacrifices that are more in keeping with a pagan culture than our modern times. But N.T. Wright, in his book SURPRISED BY HOPE [HarperOne 2008] does a more than adequate job of showing the modern relevance of that word. He shows that "idol worship" is as modern as microwaves and as dangerous as radiation poisoning. In fact, to relationships, it is MORE dangerous than the afore mentioned modern items. Idolatry, according to Wright, IS a heart problem but doesn't stay there. It worms it's way into our value system [with devaluation] and carries with it consequences that infect our walk with God, our families, neighborhoods and even congregations.

N.T. Wright says it this way..."

"One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only back to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sexual objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch." (p. 182)

Mark Driscoll says much the same thing in different words in his latest book DOCTRINE. He says it this way...

"If we idolize our gender, we must demonize the other gender. If we idolize our nation, we must demonize other nations. If we idolize our political party, we must demonize other political parties. If we idolize our socioeconomic class, we must demonize other classes. If we idolize our family, we must demonize other families. If we idolize our theological system, we must demonize other theological systems. If we idolize our church, we must demonize other churches.

This explains the great polarities and acrimonies that plague every society. If something other than God’s loving grace is the source of our identity and value, we must invariably defend our idol by treating everyone and everything who may call our idol into question as an enemy to be demonized so that we can feel superior to other people and safe with our idol." (350-351)

I do not agree with either man in all points of theology. But on this point make it a threesome. And...if this assessment is true...our generation has become as "Idolatrous" as any I've ever studied biblically or historically.

Paul B.

UPDATE___Since I'm connecting you with people who write about Idolatry better than I need to read what my blogosphere friend from "Down Under," Aussie John, said about it here.. By the way..I've yet to find anything theological that I disagree with when Aussie j writes.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Last night we [Mary and I] spoke at Emmanuel Baptist Enid after I had preached that morning. We spent about an hour sharing what we've learned after fifty-one years of marriage to each other. It was conversational, casual, comical in some ways, and absolutely a blast in every way. But it was the aftermath that captured my attention.

Mary and I both had several people stay around talking to us for nearly another hour but Mary particularly had some who were REALLY ministered to as she LISTENED. I know she spoke to some degree because she told me about it later. But her gift is listening well. It ministers and, in fact, it is healing. Her gift of listening is spoken about in a post I put up over four years ago which bears repeating today in a slightly adapted fashion. So I will do so. Enjoy.

"Some one ask me recently what I thought had been the major factors in any growth I may have experienced over the past few years in my walk with the Lord. Whether there has been growth or not would be for others to say, especially my family, but if there has been, it would be in the thoughts in the post I'm printing today on listening.

I don't compartmentalize life, so any growth in marriage, raising kids, developing friends, or walking with the Lord is spiritual growth to me. While this may not be what the asker of the question on growth had in mind, I would say it has been profound in changing the direction of my life, marriage, family, and my ministry.

It is obvious to anyone who knows me well I'm one who has, in the past, constantly been giving advice, fixing people, correcting their feelings...well, you can see where growth was needed. My desire is that the journey I'm on in learning this will continue because the road is long. What follows helps that journey along.


"When I ask you to listen to me - and you start giving me advice, - you've gone beyond what is requested. You are not listening.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you're trampling on my feelings and not listening.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed - strange as that may seem - AND you're not listening.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.- Don't talk or do for me - just listen to me.

I can do for myself; I am not helpless. - Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless. Besides it helps when you listen.

When you try to do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you are contributing to my fear and inadequacy. But worse, you're not listening.

When you receive as a simple fact that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can stop trying to convince you and get about this business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling of mine.

And when that's clear, the answers often become obvious and I don't need advice. - Irrational feelings can make sense when I understand what's behind them.

Perhaps that's why prayer is so effective, sometimes, for me, because God often becomes mute, and He doesn't give advice or try to fix things.

God many times just seems to listen and often lets me work it out for myself.

So please listen, and just hear me. - And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn and I will listen to you. "

Good words that really do describe Mary's gift and I believe would be wise for any teacher/counselor to learn.

Paul B.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


How we view God is terribly significant. That we view God a certain way is the result of many things is a factual statement but, basically, all of our experiences of life, good and bad, lead us AWAY from a biblical view of God which I believe is the correct one.

But, unfortunately, we can even come away from scriptures with a twisted view of God if we allow human philosophies and human reason to give impetus as to how we view the God of the scriptures rather than just what the scriptures themselves say.

Take the idea of God being "Judge." [Hence, the post title made famous by comedian Flip Wilson.] God is the judge you know. The bible says so. In Psalm 9:8 the Psalmist says this.. "He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice." In Acts 17:31 it says He has appointed a day in which Jesus will judge the world in righteousness. Notice both verses speak of God being judge and connects it to His Righteousness and His desire for justice.

But when we say the word "judge" what do we usually mean? We generally mean someone who impartially views all evidence and pronounces us guilty so we can be punished or innocent so we can be set free. The key word here in our thinking is "impartially."

The reason we think this is because our Western Civilization is built on a view of law and order that is based on a legal standard that measures us and clinically [think scales] assesses our guilt or innocence to be adjudicated by that Judge who had better remain detached if he is to be fair. Our entire system of justice depends on that viewpoint of an impartial and objective judge with no stake in our case.

But the God of the bible, who is our Judge, is far from "detached" or "impartial." He doesn't think objectively with no stake in the case before Him. He's on our side and love is His character even His very nature and mercy is in His heart toward us.

It is true that you may not be fully cognizant of this as you read the Old Testament. But you will when you see the Old Testament as preparing for the New Testament and see Jesus as the full picture of who our God__ who judges__ really is. In scripture God as Judge brings justice and don't forget that biblical justice is not basically "punishment" but "SETTING THINGS RIGHT."

This is clearly seen in Isaiah 1:17 where it says... "Learn to do right! SEEK JUSTICE, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow". Notice the context of setting things as they OUGHT to be rather than the idea of punishment.

I'm not saying that punishment isn't part of the process, just that it isn't the MAJOR part as most modern Christians seem to think. Which, by the way, leads invariably to a concept that God the Father is cold, calculating, angry and, while detached from us, gleefully punishes us for our sin because He's our JUDGE. But that's our western mind at work, as I've said earlier, and NOT the declaration of the bible.

In scripture the justice that God desires is one that brings healing and restoration to broken relationships. It is His__ The God of the Old and New Testament__ seeking to relieve the pain and suffering our sin has created that is what the Cross is all about. So biblical justice is to be seen in the work of the Cross as much as biblical Love is. GOD is at work in Christ bringing justice and love together in a fashion that denies Him EVER being impartial or detached from those who have to suffer the consequences of our choices that started with Adam in the garden and continues to our own day and our own choices.

So we see that love and justice are not mutually exclusive. You don't find the God of the Old Testament as a Judge angry and wanting nothing to do with mankind and the God of the New Testament appeased. Justice and love are both the very nature of God demonstrated on the Cross. Jesus died BECAUSE He loves and desires justice. The Father planned BECAUSE He loves and desires justice. The Spirit gives life BECAUSE He loves and desire justice.

What this means is the Cross is the expression of the very heart of GOD in both justice AND love. So the Cross deals with our sin [Our missing the mark] and it's consequences which are death. [Separation in more ways than one.] Now in justice AND mercy the God who loves can lavish that love on us because the wrong has been righted to all who turn to that Cross. It is truly a work of GRACE from the heart of a GRACIOUS and LOVING God who is our judge AND Redeemer.

The Cross is to be seen as a RELATIONAL move on God's part as much as it is a judicial move. His heart for us is never removed from us even because of sin. He loves. He made a way for us to be back in a personal relationship with Him. He is just. [Makes things right.] He is God. We can trust Him and learn to love Him back all because of that Cross.

"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice".( Isaiah 30:18)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting Life."

WOW. When I read back what has just been written I recognize the implications to me personally. Not just in a personal redemptive way but as way of life. In other words, if I truly reflect and reveal the God of the bible I will do so in love AND justice. Racial, gender, class, social, along with every other kind of injustice, will have my full attention.

I will NOT be overcome with a desire to punish people for wrongs done, though wrongs do have consequences even legally, but I WILL be overcome with a driving desire to make right those wrongs.

On top of that, I will be more concerned with my relationship with people and loving them than I will be their correctness in understanding any system of belief. To those people I will present the One who even used the Cross personally to gain a relationship with them and I won't forget that. Ever.

Paul B.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The seventh lie is..."They preach only doctrinal truth and it is without love and that will always lead to legalism." No.. wait, I mean the seventh lie is..."They preach only love and it is without doctrinal truth and that will always lead to heresy."

Well which is the lie here? Neither. Both are true. The lie is the idea that either one of these [Revelational truth or relational love] could really be experienced to the exclusion of the other. That's impossible.

Belief [Revelational truth] always leads to behavior [Relational love] and behavior [Relational love] is to always be based on legitimate belief. [Revelational truth] To preach doctrine afraid of or divorced from loving relationships IS legalism and to preach love afraid of or divorced from doctrinal truth IS heresy.

This argument is sometimes crouched in terms of "relational truth" and "propositional truth" and can cause some divisive attitudes among Kingdom people particularly those of the Emerging Church group and others that are a more fundamentalist kind of folks.

In one of Chuck Colsons articles he referenced a young theologian from the Emerging Church crowd who challenged him about propositional truth. Colson had said.."Emerging church leaders are trying to translate the gospel for a postmodern generation. That's a commendable goal, I agree. Though in their effort to reach postmoderns—who question the existence and knowability of truth—I expressed fear that they are coming dangerously close to teaching that objective truth does not exist."

That young theologian then said to Colson, "Truth is paradoxical, simultaneously personal and propositional. It is objectively true that Jesus Christ is Lord no matter what anyone thinks about it. But, Propositional truth is not the highest truth. Indeed, the highest truth is personal."

So the arument can become not so much which is true truth but which is the highest true truth.

My experience has been that this particular argument has been seen before. Granted, it was using different words but the argument was the same to a great degree. It was the Charismatic use of "Rhema" and the Fundamentalist use of "Logos." The former was viewed as an utterance that the Spirit gives to a person [Charismatics say] and the latter is viewed as the Word given whether in Jesus Himself or the scriptures or preaching about the text of scripture. [The Fundamentalists say.]

Charismatics often trusted what their belief system said the Spirit had given them as a personal word [Rhema] so much that it was seen by them to be of greater authority than was the written word. THAT is heresy in my books.

Fundamentalists trusted their knowledge of and exegesis of the Bible [Logos] with such abandonment that it gave them a personal authority so as to almost bring about the elimination of any need of futher personal enlightenment and anointing of the Spirit for a better understanding of the text. THAT is legalism in my books.

There has to be a marriage of both the personal and propositional it seems to me for there to be real truth. It is true that God exists and has spoken [Logos] in both the living Word [Logos] and the written Word. [Bible] But that is meaningless to us UNLESS there is a word [Rhema] spoken unmistakeably to us by the Holy Spirit revealing the meaning of the logos that brings conviction, insight, faith, etc., and results in a real relationship with the God who made us and has spoken to us.

There is little doubt then, that from the beginning of our relationship with God, as we read God's Word, which is referred to as the "logos," the Spirit will give us a greater knowledge of the God we love and serve. We WILL, then, begin to be able to offer to non-believers the truth that we now know.

But we must not fall into the trap of believing that the truth they need is believing right doctrine. They need to see the truth of God's love for them and how He has expressed that by being willing to relate to them through the reality of the person of Jesus Christ. [The gospel] I'm not saying TRUTH is a relative [conditional] thing here. I'm saying WE, as Christians, are the relative [conditional] thing here.

So I do not deny the reality of absolute truth. But I do believe that Absolute Truth is first of all a Person who desires relationship with others. As I see Him in scriptures, walk this earth for those thirty-three years, I see Him doing so with a heart for relationships, NOT for the setting down of a system of rules and regulations to perform. He is Himself love and truth. Or we could say He is Himself truth and love.

This is what I'm to be expressing in my preaching and living. A life that manifests love in relationships and one that is certainly guided by the Word of God. [Jesus] [Bible] [Logos] But my purpose is not to present to unbelievers a standard of right and wrong in belief but of a life of love and grace in relationships. Thus, knowing truth takes on a whole new biblical relational sense for me personally: knowing means loving. You can't have one without the other.

You've heard many many times the statement that says 'people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.' I wanted us to hear it one more time because knowing [propositional truth] is reality and loving/caring [relational truth] is also reality. And it would be a lie to believe one without the other.

Monday, July 12, 2010



Pedestals create problems. There is no doubt about that. The dictionary definition for 'Pedestal" the way I'm using it is.."A position of high regard." Granted, this is somewhat connected to my first article that talked about having heroes. But here I'm looking at a different sort of lie that people and pastor may believe that can effectively ruin a ministry if not addressed.

I'm fully aware that people in a church may put a pastor on a pedestal and that's very unfortunate. But my issue is more with the pastor who tries to place himself there or tries to maintain that position if others have put him there.

Pedestals are not the best position for real people and to be on one takes too much hiding or being secret about ones self to effectively remain in that exalted position. When a fall comes, and it will, the pain is great and often disillusioning.

I know there are those who don't like knowing of the struggles of ministers because, their argument goes, if THEY [ministers] don't have it together how are we to trust ANYTHING they say? It's almost as if they [ministers] are that person's last bastion of hope for everything to be as it should be in somebody's christian life.

It might should be mentioned at this point that only our Lord deserves to be on a pedestal anyway because He is the only one who has it all together in terms of life.

In fact, to look at a pastor in this manner could make an idol of him were one not careful. [Or maybe just the pulpit or position of pastor is the idol in that person's mind. Who knows!!]

Those who do wish preachers would remain silent about their own struggles sometimes use Ephesians 5:12 as a biblical basis for their objection. This is a verse that says it is a shame to speak of those things done in secret. So, their argument goes, preachers should keep their mouths shut about their own secret struggles or failures. It's a shame for them to mention them from the pulpit the bible says.

It would be good for those folks to actually understand that verse in context I would think. It's speaking of the secret things unbelievers [those in darkness] are presently [present tense] doing and how those things should not be spoken about with affirmation but confronted with light [as children of light] giving direction out of such things.

So unless you believe your pastor to be an unbeliever, the things he might share about his struggles and how God has given grace in them are not the subject of that passage at all.

I believe a major weakness of the modern pulpit is the LACK of identification of the one in the pulpit with those in the pew anyway. [This is that pedestal thing] This weakness may be the single greatest failure of the pulpit. The only greater failure would be to NOT preach the text of scripture itself. was this pedestal thing corrected in my own pulpit through forty years of pastoring? Whether I was successful in correcting it may be for others to say, of course, but I can give you what I used in my attempt to correct it. Several things were involved and this isn't a complete list at all.

One...I made a commitment within myself to be truthful and express what I really was, not what people wanted to think I was. An example is when I would preach/teach on having intimate time with the Lord, I would be honest about my own struggles and failures in doing so with any solid regularity. This was before I realized the truth that every moment of every day I'm in union and fellowship with Him and special times are good but not essential for fellowship. That is an atmosphere not an activity.

In the same manner when teaching on not letting the sun go down on anger in James, I would honestly confess that anger was a problem area in my own life. My control struggles were in that category as well. So when I would teach about God being the blessed contoller of every event, I would use my own struggle with a need to control as an illustration of the battle that often takes place in a believer.

Earlier in my ministry I was honest with struggles about impure thoughts or actions that were debilitation to my walk with the Lord and I shared how I learned, as a result, ways of focusing my attention on Him during those struggles that led to cleansing and even hope.

So you can see that, in my ministry at least, the people were aware that their pastor was, in reality, a fellow struggler, as evidenced by control issues, anger issues, impure thought issues and a general inability to practice ALL I preach about what a Christian should be and do.

You say, "But doesn't Paul say that the Corinthians should imitate him? Doesn't that mean Paul HAD to live what he preached if he said such a thing?" No , it doesn't have to mean that at all. In fact, remember that Paul regularly told of his struggles personally [Romans 7-8] but always found in the Lord what was needed and we ARE to imitate him in that. I say the same to those I pastor. Follow me as I deal with my issues of the flesh and learn to see the work of the Cross of Christ as it does it's true work in deliverance and victory. That's the ONLY way any person other than the Lord can ever recommend himself as one to be followed.

Remember, no one is speaking about details that are salacious in nature. I've found that is really more a matter of a choice of words and an overall willingness to recognize the nature of an audience. On the other hand some people think the word "sex" IS salacious and should never be spoken in public. You can have peculiar people both in the pulpit AND pew remember.

Two...I made a commitment to drop the pomposity and self-righteousness that can come from thinking I'm better or even different than the people served. So I quit using the personal pronoun "you" and replaced it with the word "we." Too much preaching/teaching, IMHO, is crouched in words like...God wants you to know you will have no victory over sin if you play games with it privately... instead of...God wants us to know we will have no victory over sin if we play games with it privately. [If you don't believe the first is often used listen to sermons on the Internet.]

Let's face it, preachers are ordinary people and face the ordinary problems and challenges that other people face. I haven’t “arrived”; I don’t have an exclusive path to God; I am a student of life and not a graduate of life, just like other ordinary people. To pretend otherwise by leaving myself out of the pulpit language used is unworthy and simply the height of spiritual arrogance it seems to me.

Three...I made a commitment to practice what I preached. It was my desire to convey to the people my own hope of BEING what was taught scripturally about behavior. This is NOT a retraction of what was previously stated but a companion to it. I would often end messages with the prayer that God would deliver me from preaching to others what I refused to have built in my own life.

The key here is "presently being built." No one of us has arrived at what the Christian life is all about and we're on that journey together. Let's just be honest about that and people will not likely be as tempted to place a minister on a pedestal or a minister will not be as likely to try to climb up there himself.

Besides..spiritual "Acrophobia" [ἄκρον φόβος meaning fear of heights] might be a good phobia to have for any Christian leader.

Monday, July 05, 2010


LIE NUMBER FIVE..They are difficult people..I would be better off if they were gone.

Someone has said "I'd love pastoring a church if it were not for the human beings in it." I know and understand the sentiments. There have been times when I thought pastoring would be a snap without other people involved.

Just re-reading what I've just written with mild sarcasm reminds me how utterly silly those statements, in fact, are. But, let's just be honest here. Some times my pastoring seemed to have had more than it's share of obnoxious people. I'll bet yours has also if truth be known. Let me describe some of those difficult people I've pastored.

The Mean-spirited Christian.

Have you noticed that some people seem to take delight in demeaning others, especially leaders? Why are they so mean? Who knows!! I don't.

It could be someone like this is a frustrated pastor wanta-be who never got the call/chance. Sometimes they were viewed as a called minister early on. Maybe even licensed [so they could get a Baptist discount on college costs] but were never ordained or trained for pastoring ultimately.

It could also be that they were hurt early on in their church-life experience and "hurt people hurt people" is a cliche for a reason. Or sometimes even something as simple as not liking leaders because of a parent that was controlling and domineering can be the cause. And now they can make sure that never happens again. To them at least.

The reason people often hesitate to confront this kind of mean person is that most church folks desire to be agreeable and are totally intimidated by the prospect of confrontation anyway. Besides that a biblical approach to such confrontation has NEVER been talked about by anyone. So it seems to just be, unfortunately, normal.

The divisive-spirited Christian.

The basic difference in the divisive person and the mean person is that the former can actually be a charming individual with a perennial smile on their face and have a soft comforting tone to their voice, while the latter is recognized because of a pervasive anger. But the divisive individual will, through comments usually spoken softly and out of the presence of all others, as someone said, "fan the flames of hurt and jealousy between people for the very purpose of creating factions."

In some ways the divisive person is far more dangerous than the obviously mean person. He or she can cause extensive damage to a church or organization through gossip and suspicion before anyone in leadership is aware that a situation exists. But you WILL find these folks in any fellowship anytime, anywhere, trust me here.

The righteous-remnant Christian.

Oh these wonderful folks CAN be problematic. Many of them ARE dedicated to a study of the Word and have a desire to please Him in ALL they do. No one, least of all this writer, would fault their desire. But they can create problems nonetheless. Being so set on wanting to do what's right they will take a position on minor doctrines [Those having nothing to do with salvific issues.] and fight someone to the death as to the correct [In their opinion.] meaning of EVERY verse that says anything about such doctrines. Forget about being agreeable in disagreeing, that would deny the faith once delivered to the Saints.

Now remember, we're not talking about the deity of Christ here or the nature of Grace. We're talking about who should take the Lord's supper or whether a woman should work outside the home or not. You know, things like that which will sink the church unless answered accurately.

I could mention others. The Annoying Christian. the Clueless Christian, get the idea. I have pastored ALL these people..sometimes all at once.

[I got this list from somewhere I cannot recall which I've adapted to name these certain kinds of Christians but all were in my pastorates. So it's MY list.] :)

Well. Maybe it isn't a lie to believe that I'd be better off as a pastor if these difficult people were gone. Maybe we'd ALL be better off if they just disappeared.

Maybe not. It could be there are purposes that exist that we need to be alerted to in the Providence of God. So you would ask a question I'm sure. Like what purposes?

This story appeared in Leadership Journal way back in 1993. It says a mouthful

"Pachomius was an Egyptian soldier won to Christ by the kindness of Christians in Thebes. After his release from the military around A.D. 315, he was baptized. Serious about his new faith and determined to grow, Pachomius became a disciple of Palamon, an ascetic who taught him the self-denial and solitary life of a religious hermit."

"In early Christianity, the model of devotion was the recluse, dedicated to resisting the corruption of society. These hermits wandered the desert alone-fasting, praying, and having visions. Many went to extremes: eating nothing but grass, living in trees, or refusing to wash."

"Such was the popular image of holiness: solitude, silence, and severity. And such was Pachomius's early spiritual training. But he began to question the methods and lifestyle of his mentors."

"How can you learn to love if no one else is around?

How can you learn humility living alone?

How can you learn kindness or gentleness or goodness in isolation?

How can you learn patience unless someone puts yours to the test?"

In short, what he concluded I've also concluded and that is that the development of spiritual fruit [Love, joy, peace, longsuffering...the stuff the Spirit Himself produces in us.] requires being around people. Ordinary people. Even ornery people.

Such fruit is not produced in a vacuum but in the heat of handling difficult people. That's what pastoring is all about.

There is no denying the scriptures give some guidelines to facing say a divisive person and confronting such an one for the health and safety of the body. Finding those procedures is for another post. This one is to dispel the lie that difficult people make my pastoring impossible. Quite to the contrary, it is, in fact, what real pastoring is all about.

No one is saying "grin and bear it." No one is saying "just be a martyr." No one is saying there won't come a time for the "shaking of the dust." But I am saying if you face difficult people where you pastor, don't waste your sorrows. Learn to love. Learn to be courageous spiritually. Learn to apply scriptural principles when possible.

Can there come a time when, for the sake of sanity and the family I leave. Of course there can come that time. There will perhaps come a time when God removes you from that difficult pastorate in His timing. He has even removed difficult people on occasion. Some difficult people have changed along the way. But so can we as Pastors and that's the point. But, above all, learn that we are not greater than our Master.

Paul B.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Lie number four.."They need me..And I'm indispensable."

There is little doubt that a modern day senior pastor is a busy person. There is little doubt that a modern day senior pastor's family is often neglected. There is very little doubt that many members of the modern day organization we call the local church believe and demand that a modern day senior pastor should ALWAYS be available to them when they, by their definition, are in dire straits.

Add all this together and you get a situation where a, shall I say it again, modern day senior pastor could, unless very careful about it, begin to believe a fourth lie that I state this way..."They need me..I'm indispensable you see." This particular lie can even be framed in spiritual language [It sounds so sacrificial] and, because of that, be defined as particularly godly. Unfortunately that is NOT the case at all.

There are several things wrong with this kind thinking and I wish to address a few that I think will clearly demonstrate that it is a lie in more ways than one.

First, we all agree that the church is the "Bride of Christ." He is her Groom and her head. [Source] As her Lord, He is her authority also. We would agree I'm sure that ALL members of a local body make up that local expression of the Bride of Christ which would include those teaching/leading her as pastors/elders/bishops. In other words, when I'm a teaching pastor, I'm still a part of the bride. I'm not the husband or head of that group. I'm CERTAINLY not the Lord over that group. In fact, I'm a husband/head [source] to only ONE PERSON. That is the woman who is my wife. [She has only ONE lord, by the way, and we've said who He is.]

Now..were I as a pastor to believe that I'm indispensable to the congregation and wind up being more intimate with the bride of Christ, [local body I pastor] in terms of time, commitment, communication, emotional involvement, resources, and general relationship building than I am my own bride, I would be committing spiritual adultery would I not? [Illicit spiritual intimacy with someone else's bride.] So unless I hold that physical adultery is different than.. or worse than.. spiritual adultery, I would, in fact, have a major problem with my own walk with my Lord AND my wife and would be disqualifying myself for a pastoral role to anyone. That, in and of itself, is sufficient to show me the error of such a lie.

Second, every person needs a sabbath. I'm NOT saying "The Sabbath." The Sabbath was unique to Israel and part of her covenant with God. By the way, that covenant was done away with [fulfilled] in Christ and a New Covenant has been ratified by His blood where EVERY DAY is a Sabbath for us [Jew/Gentile/bond/free Christians and we rest from any labor to please God for acceptance] because of being in Christ. He finished the work needed for acceptance quite well.

What I'm saying is that there is seen in creation a sabbath need for rest that means at least one day [Whatever that day might be.] a week ought to be taken to relax, recoup energy, and rest from ANY labor that is tiresome, including pastoring. And for a pastor that day IS NOT Sunday. This happens to be true across the board for human beings in my judgment regardless of job, age, gender, or whatever.

It is for this reason that I recommend what I heard someone else say YEARS ago about removing yourself from your work and investing yourself in your marriage/family and I adopted it as my own. He said [whomever it might have been] "Divert daily.. withdraw weekly..abandon annually." Those three things speak for themselves I'm sure. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what they mean. Each day spend some time investing yourself in the lives of your wife and/or children. Each week remove yourself from your work for an entire day for your personal and family time. Every year there needs to be several days invested in your family relationships with emphasis on isolation with them.

In my own life I made it MANDATORY after the truth about my not being indispensable to the local church became known to me several years ago. Then I saw to it that it was embraced by those with whom I served or had any influence over in the ministry. I remember the wife of a man on staff who came up to me and kissed me on the cheek [Mary standing there] and saying "Thank you pastor Paul for giving my husband back to his family." I can honestly say NO ONE has to sacrifice their own family for the sake of pastoring a people if it is done correctly in my personal opinion.

Third, it seems to me that the SINGLE greatest deterrent to embracing that lie would be to be biblical about having multiple elders instead of a single pastor which is historically Southern Baptist but may be so as a result of the westward expansion in the 1800's rather than the interpretation of scripture. That way no one person would be tempted to think of themselves as indispensable. Nothing like a few others who have their biblical heads on straight to keep yours from getting too big concerning yourself as a teaching pastor to a local congregation.

In reality, I think we are aware that the only indispensable one who is part of the church is the Holy Spirit. When we truly follow His leading we would never find ourselves committing spiritual adultery, failing to get needed rest and refreshment, or failing to be intimate with our own bride with regularity as He will ALWAYS lead us ONLY into acts of holiness and acts of righteousness..even as senior pastors.

What was it that Jack Nicholson said? "You can't handle the truth!!" [Oh..I'll bet we can.]

Paul B.

Friday, June 25, 2010


We're continuing to look at some very subtle lies which, if believed, can trap a ministry or minister in ways that may not be thought about early on in that minister's life. But the need for knowing the truth is overwhelming in my view. I will show why this is true in a bit

We've seen two lies so far. You can read the last two posts for understanding. They are...

1. They said it..I believe it to be true.

2. They did it..I should do it too to be spiritual.

Now we turn to the third lie and it is.."They'll come..if you preach the Word."

As has been the case in the first two posts, these lies are drawn from my own experience and recovery so I'm continuing with a personal flavor to what is written here.

Success has been generally measured in Southern Baptist life by numbers. Whether it's the numbers that are reflected in salary or experience or the Convention itself, [14 million Convention members half of whom can't be found] it's a fact that numbers play a big role is measuring success both in the view of congregations and individual ministers.

But no numbers are more talked about than is the attendance on a given Sunday in the local churches. Traditionally that attendance was posted on the wall for all to see. Thankfully that has changed somewhat, but still, when gathering for a ministers conference, inevitably the ministers remark about how many were present last Sunday and how it was more, if the ministry is thought of as truly successful, than last year's attendance.

I'm assuming that we all know there is nothing inherently wrong with speaking of attendance...unless it becomes a statement about the church or the minister and a definition of the success of either. With respect to those who hold this view, I have to say, that just isn't the biblical definition of success at all as I'll show later.

Then, unfortunately, some add to that the idea that attendance is ASSURED with the preaching of the Word. I cannot tell you how often I've heard said, or worse said myself, "Just preach the Word and people will come because they long to hear the Word of God. Not enough men are giving the Word on a regular basis."

When you put together those two concepts you have a lethal formula for defeat, depression and even despair. It winds up as.."The attendance isn't growing/increasing/ I MUST NOT be effectively preaching the Word." Often it becomes a comparison thing when one hears..."The crowds are going to hear_______, and I don't believe he's preaching a thimble full of real truth. I'm guilty of something or the Lord wouldn't be punishing me." [Wrong theology of success and sins being punished go hand in hand it seems to me.]

Let me say a couple of things at this point.

One is that I believed this for a while BECAUSE of my own success with numbers attending. I preached..they came. I knew it wasn't me. So it was the Word for sure. It was accomplishing the purpose for which it was sent out. [Remember my belief was purpose is numbers coming.] For sake of example, my pastorate in 1968-1972 grew numerically. My pastorate in 1972-1976 grew numerically also. My pastorate in 1976-1982 exploded numerically. It was in this last mentioned pastorate that I was able to minister to many seminarians who saw that explosion of attendance. The conclusion was that I was preaching the Word so of course the people came. Sounded right/good to me.

Then came another pastorate. Same preacher, [me] same sermons, [mine] same philosophy, same goals in ministry, but different results. I will leave it at that for now. Just know that I had a great period of depression which challenged my own ministry to a massive degree. I came through that time but I had learned a real lesson or two. Let me close with those.

Lesson one that I learned... Congregations are different. Matthew 13 teaches that if nothing else. There are different kinds of soil the seed of the Word is sown into. No entire congregation automatically responds to the word. Some do long for it, but some can often fight against it out of pride, sin, or apathy. Their hearts can be hardened, worldly, cold, or hurt. Anyone of those conditions will affect their response. Whether the church happens to be a first Baptist Church, and old baptist church, a new baptist church, white collar, blue collar, what it happens to be often can affect their response too. Need I go on?

Lesson two that I learned...Sermons that minister to one flock do NOT automatically feed another flock because of the former statement. So if a preacher is preaching the Word but he hasn't heard from the Spirit as to the REAL needs of the congregation and deal with the scriptures accordingly, there may be a disconnect.

Lesson three that I learned...The scriptures indicate that two preachers preaching the same sermons under the same genuine anointing of the Spirit may have a different response that can only be seen as a thing of Providence. Peter preached on Pentecost, many responded in brokenness and salvation. Stephen preached the same sermon [check it out] under the same anointing and the congregation got mad and stoned him to death.

So if something good happens..God in His Providence has blessed for His own purposes. If something bad happens..God in His Providence has blessed for His own purposes. It is the purposes of God we do not always understand and it is ours to simply be faithful in whichever results God has providentially placed us.

And, by the way, THAT is the biblical definition of success "FAITHFULNESS." It takes the power of the Spirit. It takes a committed servant. It takes a Sovereign Savior. When and where you find all three have a ministry/church/Convention/person who/which is a true success biblically.

Another lie to be corrected next time.

Paul B.