Thursday, May 29, 2014



    The quote below about soul mates is not mine, with the exception of a very minor adaptation near the end, but that said, I do believe the speaker nailed what Mary and I have experienced together in a marriage of fifty-five years, becoming true soul mates.

    "People tend to think of a soul mate as being your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a soul mate is more a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention truthfully, so your life can be changed. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever know because they help tear down your walls and bring you awake to yourself. A soul mate's purpose is to shake you up, maybe even tear apart your ego a little bit, to help you see your obstacles and addictions [even to self], to break your heart open so new light can get in, to help you become so willing to give up control that God will be able to transform your life so you can share the results together."

    I will only add this to the quote. I’ve come to believe that soul mates…(a) don’t magically exist, so… (b) you don’t have to be sure to find the right person somewhere, because…(c) they are really created and shaped while on a relational journey, particularly the marriage journey.

    As we celebrate fifty-five years of marriage today, being realists, we are both able to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, with the good far out-weighing the bad or the ugly. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we’ve been able to find a very real measure of genuine love, true happiness and our marriage has been a good resource for that love and happiness.

    But like everything else in our lives, I think it came about in a different manner than we expected. The quote says it well.

    I would describe our relational journey [Mary will have to give her description as I don’t speak for her] as two kids starting out in ignorance and inexperience, at seventeen and eighteen respectively, with no clue as to what went into the making of a real marriage.

    But fifty-five years later ours has become, thankfully, by a personal desire and choice on both our parts, a relationship where neither of us has to lay aside our own unique gifts, stifle our own unique voice, or fail in our own unique calling from God to live life to it’s fullest, in order to make the other happy.

    Our happiness together has been the result of being free to be who we are in Christ, along side each other, on an equal footing, being there for each other, which we’ve come to see God intends for a marriage.

    It was said of Jesus in Luke 2:52, “Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.” [The Message]

    I believe that may be what true soul mates do___ together.

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Mary! I love you, my beautiful, capable, one of a kind, soul mate.

    Paul B.


    I thought I'd share yesterday's Face Book entry with my blog reader. The anniversary was yesterday, but the response to this thing about Soul Mates was so large I thought blog readers might enjoy it as well.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Scott Dannemiller is a Corporate Business man who, along with his wife. left the corporate scene a few years back and became Missionaries in Southwestern Guatemala. Scott is now a leadership trainer and in the corporate world again with a new perspective. He writes a blog entitled "The Accidental Missionary." This is a post on that blog worth reading by all who visit here. Enjoy!

FEBRUARY 20, 2014 · 11:38 PM

One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

I was on the phone with a good friend the other day.  After covering important topics, like disparaging each other and retelling semi-factual tales from our college days, our conversation turned to the mundane. "So how's the work going?" he asked.

For those of you who don’t know, I make money by teaching leadership skills and helping people learn to get along in corporate America.  My wife says it’s all a clever disguise so I can get up in front of large groups and tell stories.

I plead the fifth.

I answered my buddy’s question with, “Definitely feeling blessed.  Last year was the best year yet for my business.  And it looks like this year will be just as busy.”

The words rolled off my tongue without a second thought.  Like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or placing my usual lunch order at McDonald’s.

But it was a lie.

Now, before you start taking up a collection for the “Feed the Dannemillers” fund, allow me to explain.  Based on last year’s quest to go twelve months without buying anything, you may have the impression that our family is subsisting on Ramen noodles and free chips and salsa at the local Mexican restaurant.  Not to worry, we are not in dire straits.

Last year was the best year yet for my business.

Things are looking busy in 2014.

But [the lie is] that is not a blessing.

I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed.  Like the “amen” at the end of a prayer.

“This new car is such a blessing.”

“Finally closed on the house.  Feeling blessed.”

“Just got back from a mission trip.  Realizing how blessed we are here in this country.”

On the surface, the phrase seems harmless.  Faithful even.  Why wouldn’t I want to give God the glory for everything I have?  Isn’t that the right thing to do?


As I reflected on my “feeling blessed” comment, two thoughts came to mind.  I realize I’m splitting hairs here, creating an argument over semantics.  But bear with me, because I believe it is critically important.  It’s one of those things we can’t see because it’s so culturally ingrained that it has become normal.

But it has to stop.  And here’s why.

First, when I say that my material fortune is the result of God’s blessing, it reduces The Almighty to some sort of sky-bound, wish-granting fairy who spends his days randomly bestowing cars and cash upon his followers.  I can’t help but draw parallels to how I handed out M&M’s to my own kids when they followed my directions and chose to poop in the toilet rather than in their pants.

Sure, God wants us to continually seek His will, and it’s for our own good.  But positive reinforcement?

God is not a behavioral psychologist.

Second, and more importantly, calling myself blessed because of material good fortune is just plain wrong. 

For starters, it can be offensive to the hundreds of millions of Christians in the world who live on less than $10 per day.  You read that right.  Hundreds of millions who receive a single-digit dollar “blessing” per day.

During our year in Guatemala, Gabby and I witnessed first-hand the damage done by the theology of prosperity, where faithful people scraping by to feed their families were simply told they must not be faithful enough.  If they were, God would pull them out of their nightmare.  Just try harder, and God will show favor.

The problem?  Nowhere in scripture are we promised worldly ease in return for our pledge of faith.  In fact, the most devout saints from the Bible usually died penniless, receiving a one-way ticket to prison or death by torture.

I’ll take door number three, please.

If we’re looking for the definition of blessing, Jesus spells it out clearly.

"Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2and He began to teach
them, saying:
     3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
     4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
     5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
     6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.
     7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
     8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
     9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
    10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
     11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
     12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt 5: 1-12)

I have a sneaking suspicion something was omitted from the text. That’s where the disciples responded by saying,

12a Waitest thou for one second , Lord. What about “blessed art thou comfortable”, or  12b “blessed art thou which havest good jobs, a modest house in the suburbs, and a yearly vacation to the Florida Gulf Coast?”

12c And Jesus said unto them, “Apologies, my brothers, but those did not maketh the cut.”

So there it is.  Written in red.  Plain as day. Even still, we ignore it all when we hijack the word “blessed” to make it fit neatly into our modern American ideals, creating a cosmic lottery where every sincere prayer buys us another scratch-off ticket.   In the process, we stand the risk of alienating those we are hoping to bring to the faith.

And we have to stop playing that game.

The truth is, I have no idea why I was born where I was or why I have the opportunity I have.  It’s beyond comprehension.  But I certainly don’t believe God has chosen me above others because of the veracity of my prayers or the depth of my faith. Still, if I take advantage of the opportunities set before me, a comfortable life may come my way.  It’s not guaranteed.  But if it does happen, I don’t believe Jesus will call me blessed. He will call me “burdened.”

He will ask,

“What will you do with it?”

“Will you use it for yourself?”
“Will you use it to help?”
“Will you hold it close for comfort?”
“Will you share it?”

So many hard choices.  So few easy answers.

So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing.  It’s not my house. Or my job.  Or my standard of living.


My blessing is this.  I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless.  I know a God who loves the unlovable.  I know a God who comforts the sorrowful.  And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us.

And for this blessing, may our response always be,

“Use me.”

* Writers note:  Since I had this conversation, my new response is simply, “I’m grateful.”

You will find Scott's blog here...

Paul speaking here...

I'm not asking that anyone agree one hundred percent with what Scott has said. But I must confess that on a scale of balance, my thoughts would weigh heavily on the agreement side. I'm grateful for this testimony and challenge. I've been taught much here. Thanks Scott!

Paul B.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I'm posting a portion of a much longer post by a blog friend I only know as Lin. He is astute in his seldom posted thoughts about all things theological and Kingdom and what he has said here deserves a wide audience. So I will invite the few that read this blog to hear what he has to say on this subject. May we hear and beware of being found guilty.

[All emphasis is mine.]

What I find interesting is how many Christians will excuse the evil done by other Christians (often the [Christian] celebrities) but won't excuse the same evil done by unbelievers. It is as if the professing Christian gets a "get out of jail free" card the unbeliever does not deserve for some reason. Is it really as simple as buying a plastic fish for your car and attending church?

In fact, these days ministry is a magnet for sociopaths and narcissists. Check this out . Or, this. Where else can you get instant credibility, a respectable title and an audience sitting in pews in rapt attention. All because of a title. Often the pew sitters don't even know the guy personally. That is cult of personality.

 Many Christians actually have lower ethical and moral standards for those who profess Christ (often those who make a nice living off His Name) than they do for unbelievers. I once had a local judge point this out to me. He was an old friend from undergrad days, an agnostic, who asked me why Christians will pack out a court room on a zoning hearing concerning a porn shop but then come back and pack the court room to give character witness for a pedophile (while the victim looks on helpless with no such support from the "church') and beg for leniency in sentencing. The only difference is the pedophile professed Christ so, for some reason, he deserves a break. Why? It makes no sense.  I would imagine many pedophiles would profess Christ to receive a lighter sentence. Often the victim is accused of being unforgiving in those situations, too. See SGM/CJ Mahaney as an example.

The agnostic judge asks a good question and we should think hard about our answer so we don't cheapen that priceless Blood [of Christ]. Here is a rule of thumb as a believer: Remember the Cross. LIVE OUT the resurrection. We are supposed to be the light of the world.  People are supposed to be able to trust us. We are supposed to overcome evil. Not look for excuses to do evil to others.

Yet, what happens in Christendom is often the exact opposite of what 1 Corinthians 5 teaches us concerning the Body of Christ. We are to judge those IN the Body. We are not to judge the world. But that does not make for a good culture war that evangelicals have engaged in since the 70's...and lost, BTW.

Now our problem is that the world is often looking more virtuous than we do. Our scandals are coming out faster than we can say, "sinners sin" or "cheap grace". At least the world is honest about sin as they don't do it in the Name of Christ or making a living off His Name while doing the evil. No, in many ways evangelicals are worse than them. Hebrews 10: 26-31 anyone?

If you wonder why the world hates us, it might not be because of Christ or because we are "the light of the world". It might be because we deserve it. It might be because we spend too much time excusing "walking in darkness". (1 John 1)

Thank you Lin.

Paul B.

Friday, May 16, 2014


A ton of “Christian” books are being written today and many present day younger pastors are part of a popular camp of people teaching about sexuality in marriage, in a sometimes explicit manner, maybe even too explicit for some of us old-timers, that I'm a bit concerned about. Of course, there is a second Christian camp that says sex is as unmentionable as bathroom stuff and maybe even in the same category or content. They express the nefarious "No, no," and the haunted "hush, hush," that we've come to associate with this second camp that may have, in fact, given birth to the first camp. I say a plague on both camps.  

One of the claims of the first camp mentioned above appears to be that great sex makes for a successful and satisfying marriage and without great sex [usually defined by the number of times a week it is experienced by a couple or by the variety of creative methods it is enjoyed]  a great marriage can't be successfully built by any couple. If this were true, of course, then people with debilitating physical conditions might should beware of ever getting married at all, or at least be willing to accept a mediocre marriage at best. 

I'm wondering the legitimacy of such a conclusion. Especially since Jesus never addressed the necessity of or intensity and frequency of sex in a marriage. There is nothing in the four Gospels that would indicate that Jesus ever addressed the issue of sex in marriage at all, except to decry adultery which is the wrong use of sex as a married person.

While I don't believe in trying to make a good argument for or against any issue using the silence of scripture as grounds, it does bear stating that if Jesus didn’t believe it was necessary to address the sexual needs of marriages among believers AT ALL, it might be wise for Christian teachers and pastors to NOT make it of absolute primary significance in a Christian marriage today.

I'm thinking since Jesus wisely spent His time dealing with the root cause of all relational problems and issues in life, and that was the love of God and our experiencing it or failing to experience it and loving others in return, we might should do the same.  

For a long time now, I've advocated that we should remember the fact that attending church services seems to be REALLY downplayed in the New Testament. It is mentioned only the one time in Hebrews 10:25. That's where it is stated that we are not to forsake the "ASSEMBLING" of ourselves together. But notice that word is not the word ECCLESIA which refers to the people or Church of God, but is a word that is derived from the Greek word SUNAGWGH, which is where we get the word Synagogue, and it is referring to the place where the Ecclesia [people] gathers and not the people. [ECCLESIA] This is the ONLY time in scripture where the place of gathering is even mentioned. 

I find, in the same fashion, that the Word of God tends to downplay any connection between the physical pleasures of sexuality in a Christian marriage and having a Godly love towards a spouse.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is really the only place in the NT where sex in a marriage is even considered. His advice in chapter 7 is, as one I read said, "Down to earth, basic, and fundamentally about mitigating the strong sexual urges that can build up in our fallen human bodies, including born again Christians, and the way to do that is to willingly help the other relieve and even enjoy the sexual desires of the body."

I say amen to that. Sex isn't sinful and Hugh Hefner didn't invent it, although too many Christians may think otherwise too much of the time.

I also like what one says about it when he said, "When Paul proclaims the expressions of God’s love in chapter 13, [of 1st Corinthians] sexuality is nowhere to be found. But he does write (13:5) “Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way.” And THEN we must remember that Paul had already written in chapter 7, “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.” So being willing to give sexual pleasure to and not withholding it from your spouse by relinquishing the right of one’s body to each other is, in and of itself, an expression of God’s “agape” love, but notice it is NOT the pleasure of an orgasm ITSELF that is the over-riding significant issue at all." 

I couldn't agree more.

I'm convinced that great sex in marriage has been so emphasized and exalted by the Christian community in our day that it may very well have put an undue and even unnecessary burden on couples trying to find a level of sexual satisfaction in their marriage relationship. Of course the second camp folks have missed it as well. As I said earlier, it may be the first group I mentioned started as a counter-balance to the relational ignorance of the second group and BOTH GROUPS may be doing a disservice to the Kingdom of God. 

My wife, Mary, and I have been married for 55 years on May 28th 20014. Sex was intense and frequent in the early years of our marriage, once we discovered it wasn't a sin at all and the marriage bed is undefiled according to the writer of the book of Hebrews, and I would say it has become a very valuable, pleasurable, and often even funny, part of our marriage relationship.  [We tend to laugh about everything a little.]  

But along came children, ministry, later career changes for both of us, growing extended families, grandchildren, now even great grandchildren, and the issues of age, all of which have contributed to a natural and normal decline in the intensity and frequency [don't read "infrequent" into this] of sexual pleasure. In our seventies we STILL find much pleasure in sex, yet we both understand that it is never going to be like it was at the beginning of our marriage. But to EVER think that this could mean we can no longer enhance and grow our marriage relationship is absolute nonsense to us and we believe contrary to the true love of God. In some ways our present day marriage, with sex less frequent, less intense, still even funny sometimes, is BETTER now than it has ever been before.

My suggestion to all believers is to not EVER make ANY aspect of a marriage relationship PRIMARY except knowing the love of God and expressing that kind of love to the person to whom you're married. With that settled, do whatever is desired and pleasurable to both in the sexuality arena of your journey together, ALWAYS knowing it is love that produces sex and not vice-versa.

Paul B.

Thursday, May 08, 2014


I have a confession to make. 

I don't like mean-spirited religious fanatics of any brand, who are really, I believe, self-deceived people and do great harm in this world. You can spot these types of people because of their emphasis on how much God hates something or someone. I'll give two examples.

God hates the infidels. This group then declares that everyone and anyone who isn't of this religion or a citizen of a nation that embraces this religion, is an infidel and this group then assumes the right to attempt to destroy infidels like this with actions. 

God hates homosexuals. The Phelps family has made this group famous, but this group is larger than just the Phelps brand and has thrived through the years messaging how God hates something or someone from their particular list of sins or sinners and this group then assumes the right to attempt to destroy sinners like this with words, if not actions. 

Kingdom kids are of a different breed entirely. While knowing the destructive nature of sin and at the same time the nature of the holiness of God which declares the necessity and right of having to deal with sin eventually, we have a message of how much God's love has been demonstrated in His plan and purpose in the Person and the Work of Christ and His Cross, which He then fully accepted for our justification. [Making us just as if we'd never sinned in His eyes.]

So Kingdom kids take seriously His orders for the Kingdom family to owe no man anything except to love them enough, this even includes our enemies, to show grace and mercy to the worst offender and be diligent about sharing that message of His redemptive work accomplished on that Cross on their behalf.

All this is premised on the fact that, since it was the goodness of God that works or brings about a change of mind [repentance] in people, it will only be that same kind of goodness in Kingdom kids, shown to even our enemies, that is our only hope of seeing anyone's mind changed [repentance] about their need of Christ.

Like I said, I have a confession to make. 

I don't like mean-spirited religious fanatics of any brand, who are really, I believe, self-deceived people and do great harm in this world.

Paul B.