Saturday, January 30, 2010


It seems to me it is sometimes difficult for us to discern the difference between a person's words and actions [or behavior] and that person's motive or character. It is legitimate for us to discuss and evaluate the first but the second is beyond our purview. In fact, 1 Corinthians 4:5 forbids us attempting to do so.

We can assess a person's action/behavior as being right or wrong, good or bad, correct or incorrect, helpful or harmful or even sinful or not sinful. [Depending on our understanding of the biblical standard.] When we do believe their action violates a biblical standard [by our understanding] or a legal, socially accepted or an ethical one, we can, in a free society, take them to task for doing so. This is even/especially true of political leaders. It extends, in fact, to leaders of every kind including those of the Church in my opinion.

A person's words may sound arrogant and full of pride as Wade wrote recently about our President on his blog and it is legitimate to question such words which Wade did. I've heard many of these kinds of words of late from not only our President but the political leaders of both parties unfortunately. That kind of speaking or behavior gives me pause in any leader whether it's one locally, nationally, Church or otherwise.

But any assessment of the heart is God's only. This is where we can go astray if we're not careful. It may be this refusal to question a person's heart/motive is what separates a genuine truth seeker and one who wishes to build relationships from those who seek to tear down relationships over differences. This is what makes a great blog such as Wade's, his mother's and many others I read.

In fact, in my own journey I've observed that when I do the first I am loving people and speaking the truth as I see it about behavior. But when I do the second I'm loving behavior and speaking an untruth about people. [Since I can't know.] I know which of these Jesus produces in me. So that leaves the other as flesh.

Then there is the question of how we can know we're doing only the first, assessing words/actions and not the second, assessing heart/motives. [I'm assuming the leadership of the Spirit and the knowledge of the Word here.] I think there is often a simple one word clue...anger. Now you get the image at the top.

Anger is frequently an emotion that can indicate a person has goals for another person that are being blocked. Much as at a four-way stop sign and the person is cheated out of their turn to cross and they get angry at the offending driver. If I have a goal for another and I get angry when they fail to produce what I desire, the issue that is at play is not so much the behavior of the other as it is my desire to control...thus anger is felt.

Anger signals in me that the problem is mine at the moment. This may be the reason the scripture reminds us to be wary of an angry person because we can be sure they are twisted inside in some way.

You realize I'm sure that anger is not evil in and of itself, but, as shown, it could be just a negative emotion that might be signaling that one's thinking and motives are screwed up. If I'm wise I'll learn from my own anger. That's certainly worth my looking into when I'm angry in a discussion or commenting on a blog. It sure makes for a better comment section on blogs I assure you.

[I'm not discounting the reality of righteous anger, just our actually having it nearly as often as we think.]

Spurgeon said this..."Men can with a few hasty words set loose a torrent of anger and uncharitableness, and cause the sweeping away of much good service and sweet fellowship, but who shall rule, restrain, or call back the raging flood.'

'Anger does a man more hurt than that which made him angry. It opens his mouth and shuts his eyes and fires his heart and drowns his sense and makes his wisdom folly."

The Prince of Preachers may have said it best.

Just a thought.

Paul B.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


You've probably heard this a dozen times but it's worth making it a baker's dozen. As my brother sings I join him with tears, smiles, shouts, singing and worship. Why not join us!!! By the way, if you haven't seen it don't turn it off too quickly because you'll miss a great moment with the Lord...... Amazing Grace Wintley Phipps

Friday, January 01, 2010


The title certainly applies to the Grace of God but my application is to the more mundane--yet still amazing to me--things about my life in recent days and now the beginning of the new year.

It's truly amazing to me to think of our trip to Florida--causing us to miss the Oklahoma snow storm--the week of Christmas. The amazing part was we called, texted, and communicated with our kids multiple times as we drove a thousand miles to our destination which was Panama City Beach Florida. Add to that the fact that Mary read some out loud from a book she had previously down-loaded in sixty seconds on to her Kindle as we traveled seventy miles an hour down an Interstate highway. The book was "Re-imagining the Church" by Frank Viola and is one of a possible five thousand her Kindle will hold. That's my entire library I would think. To date she has some hundred or so on hers. Truly amazing.

Come to think of it to be locked in a car with another person for a thousand miles and come out on the other end having shared, laughed, talked and genuinely enjoyed the company of the other person is and of itself nothing short of amazing. But after being married for fifty years to your best friend on earth and it be someone who is intelligent, articulate, beautiful, independent and someone you just plain love being around--while amazing--doesn't surprise me at all.

Then to share several days with a couple you've pastored and known for several years--who serves on the Board of Directors of your ministry and are now wintering in Florida at an exclusive RV Resort which was only three blocks from the wonderful motel where we stayed--with whom you laugh, play cards, dominos, enjoy steaks and wine, mexican food, pizza, and a ton of other junk food and leave already wanting to do it again, you tend to see it as truly amazing.

That brings me to a very special amazing thing. We Burlesons historically have all come together as a family for Christmas and the next year Thanksgiving and then Christmas again. Alternating-- you get the picture. We call it our noisy or our quiet Thanksgiving or Christmas. You can guess which is which.

This year was to be our noisy Christmas. But circumstances with the site Mary and I had rented for the past twenty years didn't work. What to do? Mary and I decided--after many e-mails with all--to use the week before leaving for Florida to get together with each family separately for a special time and then the two of us enjoy a trip to Florida.

The amazing part? While all hated to see the change necessary, all bought into it without hesitation and without negative reactions though it WAS a major change for us all. As Mary and I thought and talked about it all, we saw afresh that family is more than a get-together and those times can come and go but genuine love binds relationships with no strings attached. We knew this was where we and the kids were but to see it again practiced was special. Those kids are truly amazing. I know all moms and dads think their kids are the best but ours really are. ;)

As I read what I just wrote I realized that when I sometimes read such things I usually think--I'm rather cynical you know--that the writer may be trying to write what they WISH were so rather than what IS so. I know which is true of my writing as do our kids and I can thankfully leave it there.

Finally, I will be having my third surgery in thirteen months next Tuesday [January 5th] as my body is being repaired along the way while it continues to fall apart. Age does that. Mary and I have lost several family members and friends the past couple of years as she just wrote on her blog--I know the word "lost" upsets some Christians because we know where they are but for me there's still a lost ability to connect relationally even with the knowledge of our coming reunion--and we are more aware than ever that to have come to 2010 is an amazing thing.

Whatever this year holds it certainly is bringing us closer to the time when He returns or we join Him there. Whichever--it's amazing to consider the journey of Grace which is ours.


Paul B.