Thursday, April 12, 2012


Mary and I spent the day at SWBTS a couple of days ago as guests at a dinner where we were recognized for the Paul and Mary Burleson endowed scholarship given to a student at that theological institution of which I'm a graduate. It was our first visit back on campus in many years. What a hoot it was too.

We saw some VERY special people to us including former Southcliff students who now are in ministry and were back also. Some of those special people were were Dr. Berry Driver, who is Dean of Libraries at SWBTS  and who gave us a grand tour of almost the entire campus. Guy Grimes, Dan Brandel were there also. Great guys all three.

Friends we saw there were Tom and Shirley Costen, Steve James, who now pastors in Lake Charles La. and several others, including Kevin Walker and his wife who are presently on staff at Southcliff Baptist Church in Fort Worth where I was privileged to pastor many moons ago.

I also got to visit at length with Dr. Jack Terry, Jimmy Draper, Gil Strickland, Dr. Jack McGorman, all of whom belong to a who's who list of Baptist life, along with several others, and it was also fun to visit with Dr. Paige Patterson and his wife Dorothy, who came to our table and chatted with Mary and me. Dr. Patterson and Dorothy were extremely gracious to always. 
I may not agree with all the direction of some of the leaders of that institution but there was a sweet family spirit with all and it reminded me of what can be in the SBC when a common ground is our emphasis. If that common ground could forever remain Christ and His work at Calvary and an empty tomb we would all enjoy each other as diverse as we are in so many other things. Maybe that's what family really is anyway.

I posted the above comment on my FB a few days ago but wanted to do it here as well and add an observation or two.

One observation is that, while those six years spent at Southcliff in the late 70s and early 80s as pastor of that church__ where we saw a great work of the Spirit by the way and I was privileged to speak for six consecutive years in chapel at SWBTS__ are some of my best memories of ministry, I wouldn't choose to go back to that time for a million dollars. That's not to denigrate that time at all. It is to emphasis the ongoing work of His Spirit in my life personally.

The changes that have come across the years are so real and the work of God's grace in me so deep that, were I privileged to go back, it would have to be to basically tell those wonderful people of the great things God has continued to do in me. 

Things like giving me understanding of the New Covenant we are in with Christ and the freedom for the whole of the Body of Christ to minister in giftedness and the anointing of the Spirit. Back then I had culturally bought into a one man show with volunteers to build an organization that we called the "church." I'm not denying God blessed then and worked incredibly among us, but that was "in spite" of some biblical ignorance and a lacking in my ecclesiology.

He's still blessing by the way, and working in spite of my confessed on going ignorance. But I do find myself wishing I could go back just long enough to share what I'm seeing now in my understanding of, the Ekklesia as mentioned but a lot of other things also. Some of those other areas that I've come to see in new ways are things like...

The law of Moses
The law of Christ
Women in Ministry
New Covenant Ethics and lifestyle
The whole thing of being the PERSON and FAMILY where grace is in place.

A final observation is that I would want to emphasis to them how the present day changes in my belief system have NOT come about because of my embracing our modern day culture as some who disagree with me on them would suggest. Quite to the contrary, from my perspective, it is BECAUSE I've seen the text in new ways and have seen with better clarity how much our culture had invaded my theology BACK THEN. [Don't we all say this about our personal belief system!]  So I'd love to be able to share my new understanding with those people of Southcliff who are some of the finest I've ever known. 

Alas... all that sharing will have to wait until heaven. Maybe that is part of what the eternal blessing yet to come is all about. [Unless someone reads my FB page or my blog where I talk about these things with regularity.]

No wonder I find myself saying with some regularity these days..."Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus."

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


I think my wife is tired of hearing words so similar to yours, about how I would love to speak to the many precious folk who sat and listened to my traditional exposition of Scripture, many of whom would now raise their eyebrows,as some of my peers who know me disapprovingly do:).

Your words beginning with "The changes that have come across the years....", or ones similar, bounce around my mind constantly.

I am often saddened that some place negative conotations on what has been great personal blessings.

Thank you for expressing it so well!

Rex Ray said...


In 1957, I may have set a record of being the fastest ‘dropout’ SWBTS ever had. (They gave all my money back.) I went there to find if the Lord had called me to preach, and his answer was pretty quick.

I wonder if I went back today if I’d set a record of being ‘kicked out’. :)

I just wanted to say I believe that through you and your son’s writings on “Women in Ministry” the ‘readers’ of our church may have led to an interesting deacons meeting this week.

We were counting the votes from the congregation on selecting new deacons and a woman was in third place.

SCANDALOUS!!! (There’s not a woman deacon in our association.)

The question of a ‘conspiracy of women’ was quickly erased when nearly half the votes were ‘confessed’ from deacons.

I won the struggle not to laugh out loud.

I’m glad our pastor led the discussion against “NOT BIBICAL!”

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

Thank YOU for reading and commenting.


I'm delighted to hear of you and your pastor being able and willing on the biblical side of what deacons are all about. Being a man or a woman is NOT what it's about at all. Good for you guys.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

I had a wonderful conversation with a man from our congregation who has been recognized as a person with the qualities (not qualifications) that make a good deacon.

He was concerned about some convictions he had about heaven/hell, judgment/reward, life/death that he felt were thoroughly Biblical but not neccessarily beliefs widely held in Baptist theological circles...he was concerned they would make him unfit to be a deacon in our congregation.

I am reminded of a few things:

The courage of my "fundamentalist" pastor/mentor in the church I grew up in who changed his convictions concerning several things; deacons and divorce and woman in ministry are two I remember

The fear and hunger I often struggled over the years for honest open respectful dialogue about different scriptural interpretation...which directly conflicted with my people pleasing tendencies

The freedom and anxiety I began taste when others started extending such opportunities to me.

The arrogance (which usually resulted from fear and insecurity) that led me to challenge and squash other perspectives that I believed to be "wrong"

The "tough grace" that God employed through some intrumental people in my life who would not let me get away with such a battle mentality!!!

The joy and freedom I am beginning to feel in so many relationships that are havens of grace for people (like myself) on a journey of discovery anchored in the finished work of Christ and the on going work of the Holy Spirit

Over the past several months a dialogue among various individuals and groups in our congregation has been brewing over several "issues" one being the role of women in ministry.

With only a few exceptions they are respectful,thougtful, and some times even funny!!! I am loving it and I hope it continues.

I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but I have a hunch that if such things occur, God is up to something and I am grateful to see it happen.

Paul Burleson said...


GREAT comment.

You could have been talking about me, I know you were not since I wasn't pastor the church you grew up in, when you described your "fundamentalist" pastor. Thank goodness we CAN grow.

Also, I have a feeling we're all going to be surprised at how the "assessment" of the sharpness of the tools that God uses in His Kingdom work is going to play out. It's generally those who think about themselves one way that He gives a differing opinion of them entirely. That's sure true in the biblical materials.

Maybe that's cause for hope for SOME and it MIGHT be a cause for alarm for SOME OTHERS.

As I said..great stuff.

Rex Ray said...


For those that don’t know the size of our church, my ‘numbers’ may be misleading. It’s sort of like my widowed grandmother trying to get their church to raise money for a building, and she said, “I’ll pledge half my herd.”

A reply said, “But Mrs. Ray, everyone knows you only have two cows.”

Steve Miller said...


As you and Mary are aware my wife and I had the privilege of having you as our pastor during the Southcliff and Southwestern years. You know heart on this matter because we have talked at length on this subject. I would just remind you what you shared with me upon graduation and going back to fly in the military. You shared the importance of not seeking a ministry but seeking Life with Jesus and the ministry will take care of itself. It was true then and is true now. I also believe your current walk is reflective of that truth. I will always be grateful for the Southcliff years; they were life changing. Thank you my friend.

Paul Burleson said...


I will also be grateful for those years and it's people like you that make me so. Thanks again for your life AND ministry.

Aussie John said...


How good it is to read Rodney's words.

Rodney! How blessed you are to be learning some of what you are expressing, now, rather than at the time of life when the curtain is being drawn.

No doubt Paul's writing is instrumental in that, and you find him a blessing as I do.

I liked reading your "the qualities (not qualifications) that make a good deacon". So spot on!

Rex Ray said...


I’m thinking when you said, “…and some times even funny!!!” you might have been thinking of the ‘conspiracy of women theory' why a woman was in ‘third place’ of being selected as a deacon.

After two of us ‘confessed’ of being guilty, I’m glad you corrected the theory.

On the serious side.

To have QUALITY means excellence and free of defects.

To meet QUALIFICATIONS means a person is eligible.

So when you said, “…a person with the qualities (not qualifications) that make a good deacon”, I’m wondering what you meant.

I mean if the man is not eligible, and we’re selecting two deacons, that means the woman would be next in line for ‘examination’ or whatever that’s called.

Back to being funny.

Governor Perry could only name two of there things, but you named three and said they were two. (…“deacons and divorce and women in ministry are two I remember.”)

Yeah, sometimes you make my day. :)

But then you saw my mistake yesterday when I nearly got myself killed on trash pick-up day. I don’t think I’d blame that on God.

nevada retirement community said...

Have a strong faith, and everything will follow.

Paul Burleson said...


I'd be interested in what constitutes your definition Of "everything."

If you're including the good, the bad and the ugly as the early church did in their prayer as recorded in Acts 4:24 when Peter had reported the death threats of the religious leaders and yet they prayed that God was the God of "everyhing that in them [heaven and earth] is." By this they were admitting that God is the God of even life threatening circumstances.

In THIS context I can say.."Amen" to your statement.

This means that God is God when Peter is delivered from jail and God is God when James is NOT delivered from jail but is beheaded. So real faith does remain when ALL things follow whether the good, the bad or the ugly.

Real faith trusts the God of ALL circumstances because of who He is in His character and purposes. Real faith isn't the guarantee of only comfortable things happening.

I'm thinking you would say "Amen" to this too.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.