Friday, April 20, 2012


All of us have what Ron Dunn use to call a "Secret History with God." What he meant was we tended to appear to be on a mountain top spiritually on Sunday mornings while the week had, in truth, been filled with a journey of scrapped knees, bruised behinds and bleary eyes from struggling to get the top spiritually. 

Often we even found ourselves in valleys that we didn't know existed. Some of them deeper than we believed they could ever be. But, evidently, we think the appearance of the mountain top experience must be maintained resulting in a kind of pretense so that when Sunday rolls around we put on a mask to hide the pain. Coupled with our adept ability at using a Christian vocabulary or what I call our "Christian lingo" we wind up giving off the appearance of having it all together while all the time we've really lost our focus on Christ being our "all and in all" including our spirituality. 

After all, if my Christianity is REAL then I SHOULD have it all together and this struggle to be spiritual would really be an easy thing rather than the failure at it that I'm facing___right? I say___ really!

Struggling TO BE spiritual aside___that's a subject for another post within itself as shown when I indicated that Christ IS HIMSELF our spirituality and we lose sight of that reality___a truly biblical NT Church gathering can/should be a safe place and time where we can/should "bear one another's burdens" and talk with transparency about those pages of our "Secret History with God," scrapped knees and all, without fear of condemnation or shame. 

But, you say "that would take a miracle and that would have to be the work of the Holy Spirit wouldn't it?" I 
say___ "Yes!" 

Paul B.


Off The Cuff said...

Bro. Paul,
Thank you for your wonderful posts. They always challenge me to flush out my thoughts and ideas.
I believe we Pastors struggle the most when it comes to sharing our scrapes and bruises. We feel that if we do not display the persona of spiritual wellness then others may not believe our message.
The privilege of sharing the burdens/struggles of a fellow believer bears the price tag of great responsibility. This privilege is one that must be earned over a period of time by building friendships upon the foundation of truth, fidelity and forgiveness. It is a friendship where both participants must risk vulnerability. Oftentimes we fail to recognize the invitation of a friend to engage in transparency. Your post reminded of the occasion where Jesus invited his three closest friends, Peter, James and John to join him in the garden for prayer. Jesus invited them to share in his sorrow. Their response was dismal at best.
Personally, I think the day will never come when we can share openly with a community of believers. I say this because within any community/Church there will be people in various stages of spiritual growth and maturity. There will always be some who would be unable to handle such responsibility.
I know thousands of Christians and hundreds of pastors; within that group I have found two, maybe three friends, with whom I am willing to risk transparency. Even then, there are some things that I am willing to trust only to the friend that is closer than a brother, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Cleveland said...

I hope thousands and thousands of folks who put on that happy face every Sunday morning, read this.

Some time ago I made a couple of deals (can't think of what else to call them) with God. First, I told Him I'd give up all the mountaintops if He'd take away the valleys. I am firmly convinced that the Christian life, blessed but not spectacular, is available every day, and would be a wonderful message to the world.

Steadfast faith. Steadfast faith that works, and God seems to have honored that. Most of what anyone might call a "mountaintop" these days is seeing God working in someone, and getting to be in on some of it.

I posted about one of those experiences this week at Eagles' Rest.

The other deal was I told God I didn't need any more evidence of Him. No more proof. He didn't need to demonstrate Himself to convince me of anything. It's been amazing how He honored that by showing me more evidence than I could ever have dreamed.

ps: I do have one knee that was scrapped. Replaced by titanium. And I haven't scraped a knee in years.

Good post. Needful, brother.

Paul Burleson said...

Off the C,

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

I'm afraid you may be correct about the risk of transparency being so high and maybe completely unattainable. That's why I think it will take a miracle for it to happen.

Do you know what bothers me almost as much of the lack of responsibility for handling an openness to being transparent? It is the inability of many in leadership in our churches for even knowing the MEANING of transparency, much less a knowledge of the need for it.

Your words here____"This privilege is one that must be earned over a period of time by building friendships upon the foundation of truth, fidelity and forgiveness. It is a friendship where both participants must risk vulnerability. Oftentimes we fail to recognize the invitation of a friend to engage in transparency"____is an indication to me that you understand WHAT it is AND have a LONGING for it.

May your tribe increase!


You and Aussie J, are among a few "older" [notice my careful wording there] believers who comment here and by doing so help me keep my cynicism at bay and my heart hopeful that some of the [my] older generation are still on the journey of true grace and faith as opposed to dead theology and religion.

Thanks friend,

Aussie John said...


This post is a real gem! If I'd wanted to use Aussie idiom I'd have written,"Good on yer mate!"

Did you ever see the movie Crocodile Dundee?

I reckon this blog is on a par with Dundee's comment about the knife his opponent had drawn. Dundee pulled a knife about five times longer as he said,"You call that a knife; THIS is a KNIFE!"

As I began in the first congregation in which I ministered (it seems so long ago) I spoke about transparency and spontaneity, two matters which, from my reading of Scripture,weighed heavily on my mind,as being one of the obvious results of being a people imbued with/by the Holy Spirit.

My response to your last paragraph is that the miracle has already happened as we were drawn to the feet of Christ!

Paul warned the Thessalonians,"Do not quench the Spirit".

He was also certain of Timothy's indwelling by the Holy Spirit, hence his words in 2Tim.1:5-7.

We have quenched the Spirit by insisting that He remain within the bounds of our traditions and regulations, which are, more often than not, the result of, beginning with leadership, the rationalizing of worldliness, vanity, flippancy, ambition, pride, the love of position,and self-indulgence, which shape those claiming to belong to Christ to conform to the "peas in a pod" understanding of the Family of God.

Brother! Thank you for "the knife"!

Unknown said...

I devoted a third of my life to the church and when I came to realize that my spirit had been quenched by the ceremony and religion, I chose to leave and walk with God alone until such a time as He sees fit to bring me back to the right place for me. When I chose to do so, nobody came. Nobody called. Nobody cared. Sooo many years devoted to the church and the service and I meant nothing to the people I called family. Now, I have to start all over and find the people that intend me to know who they are. The ones who DON'T wear this mask you speak of. Pretending to be pious instead of embracing that we are all flawed and fallen short of the glory. I am finally free in Christ.

Paul Burleson said...


When you say you have been hurt by the Church, I know what you mean and, I know what you don't mean.

You don't mean a faceless, nameless structure or organization, or even a building or temple. You mean the REAL church which is people.

These were the very people that were supposed to be family where wounds are unthinkable. That is a tragic thing, as is all familial abuse, especially in God's family.

I also know through the goodness of God and His people yet to come in your life, that ultimately, because of those wounds you have experienced, the love of God will be experienced in a deeper way than you ever thought possible.

Wounds can create a hunger for Jesus and the blessedness of those who continually hunger and thirst for Him is that they, AND THEY ALONE, will be constantly filled. It sounds like that hunger is already driving you. Good for you.