Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Let me say from the outset.....

1.   I do not believe it is a sin to celebrate Easter once a year.
2.   I do not believe it is a sin to hunt Easter eggs on Easter Sunday.
3.   I do not believe it is a sin to wear new clothes to church on Easter.
4.   I do not believe it is a sin to buy your kids an Easter basket.
5.   I do not believe it is wrong to preach on the resurrection on Easter.
6.   I do not believe it is wrong to have a sunrise Easter service.
7.   I do not believe the way I do things is the right way to do things.
8.   I do not believe you should do as I do.
9.   I do not believe you, if you disagree with what I'm about to say, are a
      nincompoop. [Look it up in the dictionary. It's a real word.
10. I do not like Easter as a holiday.

All that said, I would say further......

I never have liked Easter as a holiday. I seem unable to get caught up in all the eggs, baskets, rabbits, clothes OR the one day a year celebration of the resurrection of Christ, for that matter. Before I say WHY this is true, let me share some of my personal Easter idiosyncrasies that have developed over the years just for a point of reference.

Every year on Easter I have made a point of wearing old clothes to church. This year it will be boots and jeans, [a bit frayed] sport coat, and shirt with no tie. {Come to think of it, that's been my attire for the past couple of years basically. LOL]

Every year on Easters past I generally made a point of not preparing a special Easter message. I chose to let the "once a year attenders" get in on what "regular attenders" were normally hearing on Sunday morning. This sometimes presented me with some unusual situations.

For example, I usually preached in series on Sunday mornings that were determined by the text or topic. This means if I happened to be preaching through, say, 1 Corinthians, I dealt with the next passage regardless. If I happened to be in a series like "Basic Bible Doctrines" then whatever particular topic we were on was heard by the Easter congregation.

Because of this personal idiosyncrasy the people heard from me on some rather unorthodox topics on Easter Sunday morning through the years.  One time I was in a series on Bible doctrine and the subject the week before Easter happened to be "heaven." So you guessed what the Easter crowd heard. Easter Sunday that year I dealt with the subject of "hell." I was able, however, to tie it in with the idea that the resurrection [I'm not adverse to mentioning this EVERY Sunday.] was assurance God had accepted the work of the Cross as satisfactory for our justification and therefore "hell" was not in the picture for any believer.

Another time I was in the middle of a series entitled 'Family Life' and the message that came next was on marriage. That Easter Sunday morning crowd heard a message far removed from their reason for wearing bonnets and new dresses or suits. But I was able to direct their attention to the fact that it takes the power of the Holy Spirit creating the life of a risen Christ in us to be able to be to each other what marriage demands.

Now you are probably wondering why!! Why would I have such a problem with Easter? [Now might be a good time to go back over the opening ten facts.]

My simple answer to the 'why' question is this. EVERY SUNDAY IS EASTER.

Every Sunday we gather to celebrate corporately the reality of the fact that on the first day of the week Jesus was raised from the dead for our justification. Every Sunday is Easter and is far too important, it would seem to me, to allow it to degenerate into a once a year kind of remembrance for me.

For me, every DAY is truly a Sabbath, as I rest in His grace from my labors of my own works to be accepted by Him and every SUNDAY is Easter and
is a reminder for me that I live in His grace BECAUSE He is alive and He's alive in me.

Join me in worship this coming EASTER 2013. [Next Sunday]

Paul B.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I'm away from my computer for a few days so I won't be able to post comments, but if you choose to comment, I will post them when I return. Thanks.

A recent phone call from a friend who was about to go into a church meeting to discuss the qualifications for deacons reminded me of the extreme controversy that surrounds the "husband of one wife" qualification listed in 1 Timothy 3:12. He indicated there were several differing views of that requirement and those views had been presented at previous meetings more heatedly than the discussion about any of the other qualifications listed.

So today I want to address that verse. What does it really mean? Someone is going to say "It means what it says." But that may be the problem. I don't think it means what it says as much as it means what it means and some interpretation must go into understanding its meaning. This would certainly indicates that we need to recognize the possible fallibility of our understanding of it to stay away from the heat that sometimes happens in discussing it. Here's my possibly fallible view but it is mine.
Some people believe Paul is saying for a man to be a deacon [or an elder] there must be no record of divorce even before conversion. But is that what Paul actually means? To know it is necessary that the Greek text be examined carefully in it's original context.

The words that are a bit difficult to translate in the Greek are, “Mias gunaikos andra” (“Husband of one wife”). A literal translation of this phrase would be “a man of one woman.” There is no word in Greek for our word “husband.” The word for “man” here is aner, which is simply the word for a male individual. The word “wife” simply means a "woman or female individual." It is true that when used in the context of marriage they can be translated "husband and wife." But it is important to see the other nuances in the text to get the full impact of what Paul is saying.

For example, The words “wife” (woman) and “husband” (man) are used WITHOUT the definite article in the original language of the text which would indicate that the character or nature of the man and woman is what is in play here. Therefore the structure of this passage might be best translated "one-woman kind of man.” Kenneth Wuest said it that way in his translation of this passage...“He must be a one-woman kind of man in that he isolates and centralizes his love upon one women.

It seems clear to me that in a culture where we all know that men were frequently tempted toward unfaithfulness and sexual impurities even in the worship of the mystery religions, that Paul is making it clear that an elder or a deacon of the church was to be a “one-woman kind of guy in his present walk." Paul is stressing the character and nature of a godly man and that is the character quality that is to be looked for rather than identifying a single experience or event [divorce] that may have happened in his life, especially in the distant past.

The clincher for me in what I've just said is the fact that ALL of these character qualities are in the present tense in the Greek. So it is speaking of a present kind of character quality that would possibly rule out some men who have only been married once but are not, at the present, a one woman kind of guy. By the same token it could possibly NOT be ruling out a man saved out of sexual promiscuity or a broken marriage but who is now known for his virtuous attitude toward his present wife.

So I personally have reason to doubt that the prohibition of divorce is what Paul intended to say here. In fact, if Paul had merely wanted to forbid a divorced man from being an elder or deacon there are other Greek words which would have easily communicated that thought had he used those words. He did not.

Something else is interesting to me about the construction of these verses and it concerns the use of the word “must.” It should be noted "must" controls the entire section of scripture. It isn't even present in verse 8 but is way back in verses 2 and 7. [Notice the italics in verse 8 indicating such.] This undoubtedly means we are to see the importance of ALL these qualities on an equal basis.

Yet it is often true that this phrase 'husband of one wife' under review in this post is often judged on a harder, even higher scale than many of the other qualities. If one holds that a divorce in the past automatically disqualifies a man should we also disqualify a man who has had problems in the past with his children? [v4 and v12] The Scriptures tell us that an elder/deacon “must not be given to much wine. [v3 and v8]  Should any past alcoholism then disqualify a man as a divorce does in the minds of many? So while it is true that ALL qualifications are important, we have to question why this one is elevated! Seeing it the way I'm suggesting the language is to be understood would remove the problem.

Another interesting point is seen when we compare the lists of qualifications given to Timothy and Titus. The two lists are virtually the same in all qualities mentioned except one. Paul leaves out in addressing Titus the one forbidding a young Christian from ministering as an elder. Paul does not give this one to Titus who was in Crete. Is this because the church in Crete was a young church and did not have any members who had been believers for a long time? I don't know for sure. But this would at least indicate that these qualities ARE a present day character issue rather than an event in the past that disqualifies and the situation of needed ministry MAY have come into play in Paul's mind. Just sayin....

One other thing. I might as well say it and assure my heretic position in the minds of many. I agree with John MacArthur on this so he must be heretical too. [I do disagree with some other things he says.] I'll let him set the table in his own words. He says..

"Notice verse 11, without looking we almost skip by what Paul just dropped in there. I don't know why he put it in before verse 12, I'm not sure there's any way we can explain it, but he did. It's there. And I want you to understand verse 11 because it's such a wonderful one. "Even so" is the word "likewise" or in like manner, the very same word as verse 8, and that indicates to us that we are now coming to a third category of people. Now you will notice that it is translated in the Authorized with some italics, "Even so must their wives." Let me say that I think that is an inadequate translation. In the first place, there's no word in the Greek for wives, this is the word gunaikeios which means women. [Paul--I've said this in my post above.] And it doesn't say "their women," it could say that in the Greek, there is a word for "their" and the Apostle Paul could have said that if the Holy Spirit wanted him to say it. But he didn't. It actually says "Likewise women," that's all it says in the Greek...likewise women. The question is, what women? Are they the wives of the deacons as some interpreters believe or are they just women who also serve in the church in a deacon capacity? That's the question we have to answer. And I think it can be simply answered. The best translation here is "women" because that's the translation of the word."

"The reason that I'm not at all convinced that this could possibly be the wives of deacons is manifold. Number one, why would there be qualifications for the wives of deacons and not qualifications for the wives of elders who have an even more important responsibility? Why would he isolate the wives of deacons and not say anything at all about the wives of the overseers? Secondly, the use of "likewise" in verse 11 means we have a new category because it was used in verse 8 of a new category. First overseers, likewise deacons, likewise women...and this is to say to me that the church is to recognize that there is a group of women who serve in the church. If he wanted to say "their women" he could have used the word "their" but he didn't use it."
"You say, "Well why didn't he use deaconesses?" Because there's no Greek word for that. That's why Phoebe, a woman in Romans 16:1 is called a deacon because there's no feminine form. So the only word he could use if he had used...if he have said "likewise deacons" and meant women, we never would have known he meant women because the word is not feminine. There was no word for wives, so the only word he could use was women and the way he tells us this is a new category is with "likewise." So clearly he's introducing what I believe has come to be the deaconess in the church."

Well I'll be... I agree Dr. Mac.

In conclusion I would say that when setting aside people to an elders or deacon ministry, and I don't believe these are 'offices' in the popular present day meaning at all by the way, the church is to examine what the needs are in the body and where any people [men and women] who might meet those needs are right now in their life. This includes their personal life, their walk with the Lord, their family, and how they are seen in the community at the present when all the qualifications are considered.

These are to be servants of the highest order and must demonstrate in their character the grace of God at it's highest level. The obvious anointing of the Spirit is to be upon them and that lifestyle should earn a follow-ship from us all where needed and a linking of hearts and hands on an equal basis out of our giftedness to minister with them for the good of the body.

Sorry for the length, but there it is.

Paul B

Friday, March 08, 2013


I love good posts by other people. There is none better than the one Wade Burleson posted on his blog on April 15, 2008. I repost it here for the benefit of any who missed it. It's a REAL testimony of our true fellowship around Christ and Him only.

This morning a group of about twenty five men met at the Grace Place here in Enid for our weekly discipleship meeting. The group is composed of businessmen, farmers, doctors, Air Force pilots, and other men from Emmanuel who meet for the purpose of discipleship and encouragement. This morning we studied the first two chapters of I Corinthians and discussed the causes of divisions within the body of Christ. Corinthian Christians were divided. Paul sought to unite them by reminding the church of the centrality of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. The Apostle reminded his readers that when we lose sight of 'Christ and him crucified' we lose the basis of our fellowship, for it is the gospel, as applied to our hearts by the Spirit, that forms the basis of our spiritual power and unity.

Almost two years ago I wrote a post entitled Conversion to Christ Over a Glass of Wine. That particular post recounts leading a Roman Catholic woman to faith in Christ, and restoring her marriage to her husband over a meal she had prepared in their home for my wife and me.

Though it is my usual custom to practice abstinence and I have never even tasted 'beer,' the recounting of the story of how this woman was brought to the place of recognizing the power of Christ to transform her life has been the focus of a great deal of attention over the past few months in the blog world.

Because of it, one blogger concerned with Baptist identity has written an entire series on the sin of drinking wine. Another blogger has posted an email that I am a 'beer-guzzler.' Much has been written about the post, but nobody critical of it has ever asked me about the woman and her husband.

Let me introduce you to them. If you have about five minutes, I would encourage you to watch this past Sunday's worship service at Emmanuel, April 13, 2008. After the first set of worship songs, Kyle and Carol Williams, whose marriage was transformed and lives turned around by the power of Jesus Christ over dinner in their home, share their testimony of involvement in small group ministry at Emmanuel. During their testimony time you will hear how they are currently working with a group of Christians in Poland to establish a Christian Radio Network that will reach every city of that country. They continue to be active leaders in our church, evangelistic in their outreach to Enid's business community, and now use their wealth to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.

Our discussion in small group discipleship reminded me of this couple. Kyle Williams was there. He shared that his understanding of the gospel caused him to only use his wine collection in moderation, always avoids drunkenness, and has been able to lead others to Christ through his testimony.

Another man at the discipleship group, Brent Price, shared how he used his personal conviction of abstinence has been used by God to lead basketball teammates to Christ. The professional basketball players around whom Brent spent several years of his life had no concept of moderation, and as Brent would eat dinner with them, and abstain, his abstinence would cause conversation to turn to Christ. Brent was a wonderful example to his teammates of the power of the Spirit to control fleshly appetites. I know the difficulties Brent faced as a Christian in the professional basketball world because when I was with Brent in Houston in the mid 1990's, his Houston Rockets teammate, Charles Barkley, invited me to go with him to the strip club - and that was after he found out I was Brent's pastor.

Kyle and Brent take different approaches on how they relate to the world around them. Both Kyle and Brent are Southern Baptists and two of the finest Christian men I know. During our meeting this morning Kyle affirmed Brent in his convictions and Brent affirmed Kyle in his. To me, that is an example of Christian unity. The ability to rally around the essentials of the faith and give freedom to tertiary issues is the key to Christian unity. There are areas where Scripture does not give either a direct command or clear prohibition. We will be healthier as a convention when we base our Southern Baptist fellowship and cooperation on the centrality of Jesus Christ and him crucified and resist the urge to demand others conform to any other identity of our own making.

In His Grace,


Thanks Wade for a good word. Thanks Brent and Kyle for a great testimony. May your tribe increase.

Paul B.