Thursday, February 27, 2014


"You are just trying to condemn me." These are words I've both heard spoken and seen written more and more of late. It is the response heard often to some behavior being called wrong. I understand the sentiment when said by someone who is reacting to a person who is saying, "X behavior is wrong," and it is simply something they just don't like or it is said to someone with whom they have an ax to grind.

I even agree with the legitimacy of the charge when said by someone who is reacting to a person who might be saying, "X behavior is wrong because the bible says so," [In their opinion] and their manner or method in saying it is hateful, disrespectful, and TOTALLY LACKING in any of the virtues that are known to be associated with the Holy Spirit who produces things like, love, joy, peace, and a host of other qualities. That person is guilty as charged in my humble opinion.

So, YES, "condemnation" IS PRESENT in both of these two scenarios and whether the behavior being challenged is right or wrong is the least of the problems in such encounter. Those kinds of "in-your-face" tactics by Christians may call attention to bad behavior, but they do little for the promotion of the truth, or more importantly, do little to promote the reality of the One who Is Himself, the Truth and the Life. In simple terms, it sure isn't Christ-like.

What I'm addressing however, is when a Christian is honestly saying they believe behavior X to be sinful because the bible says so, and they do it with the utmost respect, gentleness, and even concern, and the charge of condemnation is STILL laid at the feet of the messenger. This, even when it is delivered it in the context of teaching scripture or affirming what is simply a personal opinion about certain kinds of behaviors, is the blow back I'm seeing more and more in the present day.

For example, I was asked the other day if I believed sex between two consenting adults was a sinful act. My answer was and always is the same when asked about any particular sexual behavior, "I believe any sexual activity outside the context of vows taken by a man and a woman in marriage, even when it is of the mind only, 'misses the mark'  [the biblical meaning of the word sin] as an activity." 

This is spoken while fully admitting sin in my own life, neither condoning nor condemning any action in the life of another, and is only an attempt to say what I understand to be a standard found in scripture that identifies God's intention for Kingdom living.

My belief about any kind of sexuality behavior [or any other behavior for that matter] I always hope, will be viewed as being given with neither an in-your-face attitude nor an assumption that I have all the truth on any given subject. I'm open to learning from people and sources where disrespect and condemnation are both disallowed. But I must reserve the right, and even the responsibility, of deciding and teaching what I see as the biblical standard for Kingdom kids, myself included. 

So, what DO I desire or hope for, you might ask, when I'm sharing or teaching a standard for behavior or view my on a matter that I personally believe I've found an answer for in the scripture? I've been doing this for over fifty years remember.

From other Christians, I would hope for two things actually. I would hope that they would hear me, but always ask two questions of themselves. Question one would be, "Is this view or standard TRULY biblical?" Question two is, "Am I WILLING to deal with any wrong in my behavior?"

Question one would be important because as believers we are to be ever increasing in our understanding of scripture. It is not to be assumed that ANYONE is speaking biblical truth just because of a position or title they hold. A growing maturity on any Christian's part demands that they give an ear to Kingdom principles as they find them in scripture for themselves even above the advice or standard of any person they admire or, for that matter, the culture in which they might live as a citizen.

So when sharing with others my view particular view even as a pastor, I wanted to always remember that whether they receive it or not is ultimately between them as a servant to their Lord. No other Christian is obligated to me, but they are obligated to the One who paid their redemptive price and is their Lord.

If a Christian DOES NOT see what I've said to be the true biblical standard, which would be fine because they are under no obligation to agree with me, I would assume they could give their own understanding of that particular matter from the text of scripture.

If they find themselves admitting the standard to be biblical however, the second question comes into play.

Question two is asked knowing that gentle correction is the work of the Holy Spirit and our attitude as believers is to accept His correction in our own lives, even if it comes through someone else. This is keeping our conscience clear before the Lord. It's what Paul the Apostle meant when he said, "So I strive to always keep my conscience clear before God and man. [Acts 24:16] We will, as someone said, "be bugged by a guilty conscience, and keeping it clear enables us to have an enjoyment of our relationship with God."

No one is saying we are to become obsessed or neurotic about keeping a clear conscience, but we will want to resolve issues as they pop up. But even this is ultimately between a servant and their Lord and is out of hands of any other single believer. 

But this is exactly opposite to the attitude the world in general takes about personal issues like these. To refuse any standard, to demand a right to do as they wish, or to say there is no such thing as a standard other than what makes me feel good, are all ways a non-believer may choose that can make them capable of having a violent reaction to ANYONE who might believe or teach otherwise. Kingdom living is at odds with the world around us and to think otherwise is to be ignorant or naive or perhaps both.

I will conclude with this brief summary statement.

I believe we are not to compromise or water down what the Bible clearly says on true biblical issues, and yet we're not to forget that our audience is human just as we are. If some Christians think differently about some issues, live with it. They're not your servant.

If the world [non-believer] gets very annoyed at a standard we hold to and which has been delivered in a loving and gracious way, that is an issue between their conscience and God with eternal ramifications that are out of our hands entirely.

I believe being angry at EITHER is beyond the pale. Being shocked or even surprised by either is silly and a bit naive. But being condemning of either is just wrong.

Friday, February 21, 2014


I'm thinking it very well may be that the single greatest weakness of far too many present day church leaders is that a philosophy has developed of using people to build programs instead of using programs to build people?  This is generally not noticed by leaders and would probably be denied by most of them.

But one of the sure signs of an emphasis being the former instead of the latter is when “how many were in attendance” is the first thing thought of and reported on when church leaders get together to commensurate on how things are going in the local church.

Take as an example of this any report sheet for a local SBC church that is given to the associational office at the end of the church year for records keeping in that association. [You’d have to be Southern Baptist to understand that]  Check it out sometime. I have many times. There are places for recording enrollment and attendance on that report for all kinds of programs and organizations within the fellowship plus a few other various kinds of minor numerical facts. So what's the problem you ask!

No where on that report sheet is there a place for reporting things like how many marriages were saved, how many people fought and won battles against addictions, how many people overcame extreme debt or a host of other personal and individual struggles that all believers face one way or another and one would assume that church life should be about assisting and encouraging such people during any given year. But how many were helped and in what ways they were helped is seldom, if ever, the question or even the concern, sadly.

I would even say it has been my experience in leading in many pastor’s and staff conferences over the past several years that staff members often report, unfortunately, that the major pressure put on them by the congregation and other leaders of the fellowship is to improve the number of attendees in the programs over which they have responsibility. This, above every other goal.

I want to say emphatically that I do not believe the issue is having too many programs. It takes multiple types of programs to build people in all kinds of necessary ways. 
After forty years of pastoring I'm fully aware of that. But to gage the effectiveness of any program by how many people are attending misses the point entirely. That kind of thinking will mistakenly lead people to associate spiritual growth with attendance in programs offered by the church and that’s a tragedy. 

Just how wrong can we be!

In that environment a person begins to think if they want to grow some as a Christian just get busy attending church programs, and if you want to REALLY become spiritual, go to EVERYTHING that comes down the pike and is going on down at the church building. [If someone thinks I'm putting attending church services down they're missing the point entirely.]

As you can tell, I’m thinking church programs may need to be re-thought and maybe even altered or re-invented. And the new way they are done, however they are done, must NEVER use attendance as a measure for success or failure for us so we can recapture church as an organism rather than SIMPLY an organization.

What I’m saying is not new by any means or even original with me. Years ago my very dear friend, Peter Lord, then pastor of a fellowship in Titusville Florida, would use September every year as a month of prayer and searching while suspending EVERY SINGLE program, except corporate worship, in order to find the mind of God on what programs, new or old, really could help meet the needs of the people and therefore needed to be continued or started BECAUSE of that discernment.

Someone might complain that to run a church that way would mess things up and maybe ruin a church just as it would ruin any business to do it that way. They are correct of course. But to think that the local church IS a business and TO FAIL to change [mess things up] with the needs of the people in mind, would be to perhaps miss the Holy Spirit entirely, and that may be precisely our greatest problem in local church life. We’re doing things in manner and method that show we don't need the Holy Spirit at all. It seems to me that we’re reaping the results of that as well.    
I can not get away from the fact that in scripture the amazing thing that stood out about the people who were Christ-followers in that day was that they loved their Lord and one another. This was later spoken in testimony by Tertullian who is reported to have said, "See how they [speaking of believers] love one another."  

If Jesus tarries in His return, [and I'm trusting He won't] I'm afraid future generations may say of our present generation of believers, "See how they attended church," Remember, it doesn't take the Holy Spirit to do that. You don't even have to be a believer to accomplish it.

Paul B.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


A Challenge for Proponents of Female Submission to Prove Their Case from the Bible

by Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, Professor Emeritus, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL

“Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me.
Place in my hands the wonderful Key
That shall unclasp and set me free”

The purpose of this challenge is to prompt Christians to grapple with biblical facts rather than to accept traditional assumptions about female roles. What is at stake is not the role of women as much as the definition of the church as authentic biblical community. Is it possible for a local church to aspire to define itself as biblical community when more than half its constituency is excluded from participating in the most significant aspects of its life?

In the course of history, the church has often lost its way. For instance, during a thousand years, the church forgot something as crucial as the way of salvation and replaced it with methods of salvation by works that never worked. The biblical teaching was finally recovered by the Reformers just a few centuries ago.

Likewise, many present-day Christians believe that, along the way, the church has lost its own definition as community and replaced it with false definitions that reduce it to the status of institution, establishment, hierarchy, corporation and programs. This challenge provides an incentive to help Christians rediscover for themselves the biblical definition of the church as God’s community of oneness.

To anyone who might be tempted to think that this challenge is a feminist plot to subvert the traditional church, it should be pointed out that feminism is a quest for equal rights and equal power. A basic premise of this presentation is the exact opposite, the belief that the Bible requires all Christians to pursue relationships of mutual submission and of reciprocal servanthood.

An effective approach to tackle this challenge would be to go through this document one page at a time, to check the references with an open Bible at hand, and to search the Scriptures in order to supply the requested references.


Cite a text from the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 that enjoins or entitles men to exercise authority or leadership over women, or that designates men as “head” or “spiritual head” over women.

The Facts

There is not a hint, not even a whisper about anything like a hierarchical order existing between man and woman in the creation account of Genesis, chapters 1 and 2. In fact, the exact opposite is  clearly taught in these two chapters. Both man and woman were made in God’s image (1:26-27) and they both participated in God-assigned ministries without any role distinctions (1:28).

The creation order established oneness, not hierarchy (2:24). The first indication of a hierarchical order between man and woman resulted from the entrance of sin into the world (3:16). The subordination of women to men was not part of God’s original design. It resulted from the violation of God’s creation order.

The use of the word “helper” for the woman reinforces the relation of non-hierarchical complementarity that existed between the man and the woman prior to the fall (2:18). In the language of the Old Testament, a “helper” is one who rescues others in situations of need. This designation is often attributed to God as our rescuer. The word denotes not domesticity or subordination but competency and superior strength (Ex. 18:4; Deut. 33:26, 29; Psalm 33:20, 70:5, etc.).

According to the text, the woman was instrumental in rescuing the man from being alone and, therefore, from not being yet the community of oneness that God had intended to create with both of them (Gen. 1:27). As “helper,” she pointedly enabled him to become with her the community that God had intended to establish through their union.

The word “helper” is used specifically in this context of God’s deliberation to create community (2:18). The biblical text becomes violated when the word “helper” is wrenched away and lifted out of this specific context to be given other meanings that demean women by reducing them to the level of “complements” or docile conveniences created to improve the quality of male life.

In the account of the created order within which every relation of authority is carefully spelled out (1:26, 28; 2:17), there is not the slightest suggestion of a structure of authority existing between the man and the woman. Instead, the explicit evidence provided in those texts describes both as participating cooperatively in reflecting the image, and both fulfilling jointly the tasks of rulership and dominion without the necessity of a structure of hierarchy between them.


Cite a text from the Bible that assigns women subordinate status in relation to men because Adam was created before Eve.

The Facts

In the first chapter of Genesis, the sequence of creation moves, in increasing levels of sophistication, from material things to plants, to animals and, finally, to humans. According to chapter two, the process culminates with the creation of the woman. Obviously, chronological primacy was not intended to denote superior rank. No such lesson is drawn within those two chapters from the fact that the man was created before the woman.

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 11, an argument is presented for women to wear a head covering during worship. It is based on the differences in status between men and women that derive from the fact that man was created first (v. 7-10).

But, according to the same text, all those considerations have been decisively swept aside “in the Lord,” that is, in the Christian community (v. 11). In the new covenant, both men and women are in a relation of originative interdependence since men must recognize that they owe their existence to women just as the woman was made from man. Only the primacy of God as creator of all has significance since all things come from him, including both men and women (v. 11-12). As a result of this leveling of the ground “in the Lord”, a covering is not even required of women since their hair is their covering (v. 15).

The ministry restrictions exceptionally placed on women in 1Timothy, chapter 2 are not based on the creation order. They are drawn from the temptation account. No conclusion is made in the text from the fact that Adam was formed first except for the one lesson that Adam was not deceived but Eve was and she became the first transgressor (v. 13-14).

Adam had been instructed about the prohibition relative to the tree directly from God while Eve was not yet in existence. For this reason, of the two, she was the one less prepared to face the tempter. He was present during the temptation episode but he remained silent (Gen. 3:6). Despite this disadvantage, she boldly engaged the tempter and she became deceived.

This illustration from the Genesis temptation story has nothing to do with assigning all women of all times a subordinate status in church life. It was cited in this epistle to make the point that untaught and unqualified individuals should not aspire to teaching functions or to positions of leadership. They should first become quiet learners (1 Tim. 2: 11-12).


Cite a text from the Bible that defines the headship of Christ to the church as a relation of authority or of leadership.

The Facts

The New Testament defines the headship ministry of Christ to the church as a servant relation designed to provide the church with life and growth. This headship is never presented as an authority or lordship position.

Eph. 1:22-23. Christ is supremely and universally sovereign, but as head for the church, it is not said that he rules over it. Instead, he provides his body with the fullness of him who fills all in all. He causes the church to grow and flourish.

Eph. 4:15-16. Christ as head provides the body with oneness, cohesion and growth. This is a servant-provider role, not one of rulership.

Eph. 5:23. Christ is head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. His headship to the church is defined as saviorhood which is biblically defined as a servant, self-sacrificing function, not a lordship role.

Col. 1:18. Christ is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead. As its head, Christ is the source of the church’s life.

Col. 2:19. Christ is the head from whom the whole body grows because it is nourished by him. He is servant-provider of life and growth to the church.

Obviously, Christ is Lord of all and therefore Lord of the church. But never does the New Testament define Christ’s relation to the church as its head in terms of lordship, authority or rulership. As head to the church, Christ is always the servant who gives the church all she needs to become his radiant Bride. So is the husband to his wife (Eph. 5:25-30), within a relationship of mutual submission (v. 21).

The word “head” used figuratively in the English language refers to boss, person in authority, leader. It never has that meaning in New Testament Greek. There are hundreds of references in the New Testament to religious, governmental, civic, familial and military authority figures. Not one of them is ever designated as “head.”

Even Christ, as “head” of all rule and authority, remains their original giver of life and fullness (Col. 2:10; 1:16). Similarly, Christ was never called “head” of the church until after his crucifixion, the supreme expression of his servant ministry as the giver of new life.

Whenever Christ is described as “head” to the church, his ministry is that of servant-provider. Similarly, as head to his wife, a husband is a servant-provider of life, of fullness and growth, not one who exercises authority over her.


Cite a text from the Bible that makes men head over women, or a husband head over his wife.

The Facts

There is no such statement in the Bible. The text in 1 Corinthians 11:3 is often cited as establishing a top-down hierarchy:  God over Christ--- Christ over man--- man over woman.

However, this biblical text must be radically dismembered and its components reshuffled in order to produce such results. The untouched biblical sequence is totally different and it does not present a hierarchical structure:  Christ, head of man--- man, head of woman--- God, head of Christ.

The teaching in this text concerns the concept of “head” as giver of life. In creation, Christ (as the Word, John 1:3) gave life to man; man to woman (as she was taken from him, Gen. 2:21-23); and in the incarnation, God gave life to Christ (Luke 1:35). This understanding of “head” as “provider of life” is consistent with the immediate context which deals with the significance of origination (1 Cor. 11:7-12).

The meaning of “head” as servant-provider of life in this text is also consistent with the headship passage in Ephesians 5:21-33. There, the church is described as being subject to Christ in the reciprocity of servanthood because Christ as head is also servant to the church as its Savior and as the source of its welfare. Saviorhood in the New Testament is not a lordship role but one of self-sacrifice in radical servanthood.

Likewise, the wife is servant to her husband as she submits to him because the husband is servant to her in radical headship as he gives himself up for her as Christ did for the church (v. 25-30).
Both the general concept of headship in the New Testament and this passage of Scripture are infused with the notions of mutual submission (v. 21) and, therefore, of reciprocal servanthood. Such biblical teachings reduce the imposition of hierarchical relations between husbands and wives to irrelevance, if not to abuse in their relationship.


Cite a New Testament text according to which men are given unilateral authority over women or are permitted to act as their leaders.

The Facts

Once the fall shattered the God-given oneness between man and woman, they both faced a dysfunctional relationship. The woman was warned that, because of the disruption of the fall, the husband would rule over her (Gen. 3:16). Oneness would turn into abuse. But no mandate was ever given to the man to claim this rulership over the woman.

There is no allowance made in the New Testament or license given for any one believer to wield authority over another adult believer. The pledge exacted from brides in an older wedding ceremony, “Wilt thou obey him…?” had no biblical warrant.

There is no text in Scripture that enjoins wives to obey their husbands. The call is for mutual subjection (Eph. 5:21). Both wives and husbands must relate to each other “in the same way” as slaves submit to their masters (1 Peter 2:18; 3:1, 7 NIV) in order to follow in the steps of Christ, their supreme example (2:21).

The New Testament singularly cites the case of Sarah who obeyed her husband Abraham (1 Peter 3:6). Sarah’s case was cited in full knowledge of the fact that Abraham pointedly obeyed his wife just as often as she obeyed him, once even under God’s specific command (Gen. 16:2, 6; 21:11-12).
Christians are solemnly forbidden by their Lord to establish among themselves structures of authority similar to the hierarchical systems that prevail in secular society. Those who aspire to attain such positions of leadership must, instead, become servants and slaves of those over whom they wish to wield authority (Matt. 20:25-28).

Leadership is always defined in the New Testament as shared leadership. In church life, leadership is a team function entrusted to a plurality of persons such as elders. These act as servants who have recourse to the exercise of authority only exceptionally when required to do so because of disciplinary or crisis situations and then, only corporately.

In marriage, husbands and wives are bonded in a relationship of non-hierarchical complementarity within which each partner brings to the union his or her leadership gifts in a structure of shared leadership. (For resolving biblically situations of decisional impasses, see Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles, pp. 212-214).

As stated in the title, a challenge worthy of consideration I would think.

Paul B.

Friday, February 14, 2014


T.W. Hunt. That name is well known in Baptist life. I know that name well. I know the man who wears that name. He wears it well. Laverne. Another name. That's the woman who was married to the man who wears the name T.W. Hunt. She was as fine a human being as he is...maybe most husbands in saner moments will confess of their own particular wife. T.W. does. So do I.

The reason I know T.W. and Laverne is because I was privileged to be their pastor for several years during his tenure as a Professor at SWBTS when they were members of Southcliff Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, the fellowship I pastored back then. Laverne always called me "Pastor." She always told me she thought I was the best preacher she had ever heard. I told her I thought she was the smartest person I'd ever met. Just kidding. [She said that__but I she said it to all her Pastors__and meant it.]

The purpose of my dropping T.W.'s name today is because, while still living, he's well worth knowing. To help you know him, if you don't, I have to press the envelope personally and tell you of one of the more significant spiritual moments in my life which involves T.W. Hunt. It really is personal and has to do with a morning I sat with him in a Dairy Queen in Ft. Worth, Texas. He and I were eating ice-cream and talking. [Who says you can't eat ice cream in the morning!] Before long I was writing on a napkin. It usually wound up that way. Something he would be saying was always of the nature that I must not forget it. So....write it down. I did.

T.W. told me that he was a student of revival. He had, in fact, studied every known revival in history beginning with the Old Testament events going right through Acts and into the Awakenings, as well as the "Charismatic revival, as it was being called in the day we were living and conversing.

T.W. said that every genuine move of God that he had studied had produced it's own music. The new music of those moves of God was new, not just in lyrics, but in meter, rhythm, notations, and a whole bunch of other stuff that didn't mean much to me then and doesn't now either. I'm musically illiterate basically. But T. W. wasn't and isn't, so I kept listening.

He said that those involved in the revivals usually wrote and produced this "new music". His example was Charles and John Wesley. He reminded me of the many songs written by the Wesleys during that Great Awakening of which they were such a major part. "The Church's One Foundation" was one of those songs written.

T.W. said there were several odd things about the music being produced during each revival. For one thing, it was not only different, it was rejected by the religious establishment. Wesley sang his songs with the crowds on hillsides, but was not permitted to do so in the churches. He and his music were shunned.

Then, T.W. said, after a while, the religious powers that existed in the day, gradually accepted the music that was already being sung by the masses. Finally, that music was "the music" and was "the music" until another revival came along producing its own music which was, again, rejected as ungodly by those singing "The Church's One Foundation" and, again, the new was not permitted in the churches. So, again, the masses had to sing in isolation from the religious establishment.

You see the pattern I'm sure. That's why, according to T.W. Hunt, the Charismatic movement was, in his opinion, while not agreeing with it's theological excesses at all, a real movement of God. The music evidenced it.

I finished writing. He'd finished talking. We finished our ice-cream. But I've never forgotten that day and what he had said. I wrote it down remember. I think time has shown the validity of T. W.'s view of the history of revival. Look at the music we're singing now. I wonder where revival will happen next? I know it will have it's own music. I know some won't like it. For a while anyway.

Enjoy this from T.W. I did!

The Mind of Christ - 13 "It Is Finished" - YouTube

Paul B.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I digress for a brief moment.

Peggy Noonan is a Wall Street Journal writer who has in the past worked for CBS News with Dan Rather as her boss. She also has been a fixture on ABC and NBC as well. Presently, she is a Fox News Contributor.

She is very well known for being a Reagan speech writer back in the day and actually wrote the Challenger explosion speech President Reagan gave to the nation to address the tragedy. In that speech it was her writing skills that caused Reagan to draw upon the poet John Magee's famous words about aviators who "slipped the surly bonds of earth... and touched the face of God."

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Noonan wrote about Sarah Palin's vice presidential candidacy in the Wall Street Journal. In one opinion piece, Noonan was not too complimentary and expressed her view that Palin did not demonstrate "the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office," concluding that Palin's candidacy marked a "vulgarization in American Politics" that is "no good... for conservatism... [or] the country."

That straight forward Peggy Noonan recently wrote a blog post in which she described the White House staff of our current President as a bit air-headed to say the least. Her words were a unique summation of the condition, from her perspective, of the people who make up the president’s administration that is leading our nation.

I’m not interested in agreeing or disagreeing with Noonan on her view of the White House Staff or even her view on the present President, whatever that might be.

I do, however, wonder if in her summation about the young people from the Whitehouse she has not connected with a degree of reality about the entire present generation. You can read and decide for yourself. Here is what she said on her blog, unedited.


From what I have seen the present Obama White House is full of young people who’ve seen the movie but not read the book. They act bright, they know the reference, they’re credentialed. But they’ve only seen the movie about, say, the Cuban missile crisis, and then they get into a foreign-policy question and they’re seeing movies in their heads. 

They haven’t read the histories, the texts, which carry more information, more texture, data and subtlety, and different points of view. They’ve only seen the movie—the Cubans had the missiles and Jack said “Not another war” and Bobby said “Pearl Harbor in reverse” and dreadful old Curtis LeMay chomped his cigar and said “We can fry a million of ‘em by this afternoon, Mr. President.” Grrr, grrr, good guys beat bad guys.

It’s as if history isn’t real to them. They run around tweeting, all of them, even those in substantial positions. “Darfur government inadequate. Genocide unacceptable.” They share their feelings – that happens to be one of the things they seem to think is real, what they feel. “Unjust treatment of women—scourge that hurts my heart.” This is the dialogue to the movies going on in their heads.

There’s a sense that they’re all freelancing, not really part of anything coherent.

For four years now, I’ve been told, by those who’ve worked in the administration and those who’ve visited it as volunteers or contractors, that the Obama White House isn’t organized. It’s just full of chatter. Meetings don’t begin on time, there’s no agenda, the list of those invited seems to expand and contract at somebody’s whim. 

There is a tendency to speak of how a problem will look and how its appearance should be handled, as opposed to what the problem is and should be done about it. People speak airily, without point. They scroll down, see a call that has to be returned, pop out and then in again. It does not sound like a professional operation. 

This is typical of White Houses, to be sure, and yet, on some level, extreme.

The lack of focus, the lack of point, the sense that they think that they are operating within accepted levels of incoherence—this all sounds, actually, peculiar.


I’m  seeing this in all venues of our present day generation of young people. No one is saying ALL of them. I've got grandchildren that don't fit that airhead definition. I’m not even saying MOST of them. But it is far more than I’ve ever seen existing before, that’s for sure.

Paul B.

Friday, February 07, 2014


I heard it again recently. It was said this way, "Would you use your nice, polite, positive voice when your neighbor's home is burning down? IMO our world is burning down & the time left to rescue most of them is short & growing shorter."

I cannot count the number of times I've heard this used as a reason [excuse] for being what I consider unreasonable, if not disrespectful, in actions, attitude, and tone when dealing with lost people. [They call it tough love.]

I do not question the heart of some of those who say it, In fact, I know some very well who do say it and love their zeal for witnessing. [The Westboro group notwithstanding.] And I totally agree with the idea that the time for rescue is short and growing shorter.

But I'm also convinced that if Christians are not careful, with a thoughtless kind of zeal we can do great damage when sharing the good news of the gospel. Let me explain why I believe this.

Please remember when using the analogy of a house being on fire, because it can be forgotten, that we are trying to rescue people who DON'T BELIEVE the house IS on fire and tend to NOT LISTEN to someone who uses frantic, loud, forceful, hateful, disrespectful tactics to try to force them TO ADMIT it is on fire and be willing to escape it.

In fact, they may reject any offers of help BECAUSE of those very antics.

Much as a little child who is in danger may often draw back and even hide from that kind of confrontation, and remember where Kingdom things are concerned we're all children to a degree, just so many people we are trying to help may back away until they are convinced that we are not the enemy or out to hurt them. It is exactly that response to the gospel that I believe we can unintentionally create with a disrespectful, pushy, kind of presentation of our message of Christ.

The very people who face a horrible fate that we say we want to rescue them from may refuse to listen and may even withdraw back into the danger zone, if the presence of a caring and loving person is not seen handling the gospel.

[No one is doubting that it is only the Holy Spirit who can bring about a willingness to receive the gospel, but may we NEVER excuse bad behavior because of our sovereignty of God doctrine.]

This was one of the things so wonderfully strange about Jesus.

His ability to never be seen as demanding or forcing upon people decisions that He thought were needed was part of what made Him different. [Think Rich Young Ruler.] He walked in and out of sinner's lives with nothing but the kind of actions that expressed love. No one knew and cared more for the desired end result of a relationship with people needing deliverance than did He. And, He was ALWAYS honest with them, but it was always "with them."  He was "with" the harlot. He was "with" the thieving tax-collector. He was "with" the drunkard and wine-bibbers. 

Somehow He didn't register on the scale of demanding, anger, judgment, fear that they wouldn’t get it, or any other disturbing kind of emotional description. To them He registered as an earthquake on the scale of love, and they knew His love was real because He was "with" them, though He wasn't "of" them, and He wasn’t shouting at them them so they would know the seriousness of their situation.

This is why I believe it is the announcement of the goodness of God in the gospel by people who are real in their demonstration of love and respect, leaving the results in the hands of the Holy Spirit, that really does work repentance in hearers, and not the fearful and loud tactics of supposed rescuers.

Let's do remember that time is short. So, redeeming that time with real relationships and the sharing of the gospel is essential for this fallen world. But let's be sure and be Christ-like about it all.

Paul B.

Monday, February 03, 2014


It is tragic when the Church is confronted with failure in leadership. Moral failure always seems to be ever present unfortunately, but there is a far more sinister kind of potential failure that is far less identifiable. That is because this failure in leadership can be masked with a spiritual lingo and pious appearance and often goes unidentified by many believers.

The Church has been entrusted by God with the sharing of the gospel and His message of redemption with this fallen world. In the doing of it however, there can be a shift of emphasis by those in leadership that disallows the authority of the gospel itself, and the authority that goes with the Holy Spirit's gifting of all the members of Body of Christ for it's life on earth as well.

The result is a system of spiritual abuse set up that effectively makes for an idol out of some leaders and robs the Holy Spirit of His unique place of direction giving in the life of the Church.

There have been cases of this in our history where that kind of idolatry has led to terrible consequences of the nature and magnitude represented by the picture on the left that accompanies this post.

There are lesser scenarios of course, but these may have destructive effects of abuse as well, just not as noticeable as the ones that make headlines. But lives are damaged and the cause of Christ suffers nonetheless. This would be those situations where a twisted kind of theology places authority in the hands of sinister people who are weak leaders but hide it with the afore mentioned spiritual lingo and pious appearance. Such people will use verses out of context and after a mis-interpretation, those verses are misapplied to gain the follow-ship of duped individuals. This creates followers of men instead of followers of God.

When this kind of crisis is found present in leadership, it is imperative the congregation not abandon the truth of righteousness and holiness in the face of a defensive or adversarial heart in that leader when confronted. And such leaders will be defensive and adversarial. It is much as physical abuse in that the abuser is able to get the abused to believe they'll be doing something wrong to resist. But careful, loving, graceful, scriptural confrontation there must be.

If any leader fails to respond in confession and repentance when confronted over such spiritual abuse, in truth and love by the body, believers are to hold firm to that Kingdom principle of speaking the truth in love regardless. Abusive, false authority must not go unchallenged as it is idolatry in the first degree. 

Yet in the face of authentic humility by a leader who might repent, there is also to be a response with a Kingdom mind of grace and justice that allows the effects of confession and repentance to bear the fruit of health and wholeness to the glory of God. This is a serious and sad kind of situation, but face it we must. Spiritual abuse must not stand any more than any other kind of abuse. 

Here are ten signals that failing, sinister [singularly bad or capable of destructiveness] Christian leaders give off which should give all believers pause and about which they should be keenly aware and wary. When found present these can ultimately lead to what has been described above. I call them the nine "if" questions.

(1) If there emerges an organization built around a person and their peculiar emphases instead of being built around Christ and His Word bringing healthiness to His Body, the Church.

(2) If the claim is made of a direct authority from God rather than there being a desire for and an encouragement of the testing of things by the Word of God, by the entire body of people being served.

(3) If a gift or ability is exploited so others are made to feel totally dependent on the one exercising it.

(4) If there is a demand presented that says, "submit to me," rather than "I will serve you." This is the antithesis of biblical leadership.

(5) If there is the revealing of a spirit characterized by a dominating, pushy drive to control, instead of a personal dependence on God to direct.

(6) If the method of leadership is one that orders people around with decisions made in secret, rather than to appeal for them to help investigate what the right thing to do might be on issues.

(7) If there is an unapproachability and intimidation kind of "aura" around the leader that keeps the followers in "awe" of that leader.

(8) If there is an inflexibility and an unwillingness to be questioned shown by demands like "don't question me" - "don't touch the Lord's anointed."

(9) If there is more concern for maintaining the authoritarian structure than there is for caring about the people in the body.

May God grant us all, male and female, young and old, as members of His body, where ever we worship and serve locally, a gracious body where the Holy Spirit is able to anoint and give gifts to people who will be looked to as leaders in whatever area they are gifted so that our true authority, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, will be able to effect His life through us all as we share the gospel with all peoples everywhere.

Paul B.