Saturday, June 28, 2014


Am I wrong, or does not the Tenth Court of Appeals decision just made about Gay marriages, whether one agrees with the decision or not, actually present to us as believers another opportunity where we can continue to show our culture certain things we hold to be true about life as Kingdom kids [that's us] that is different than the life of our culture at large? A culture in which we live and to which we are attempting to present the gospel of the Kingdom and of our Christ?

 For example....

One___We GET to CONTINUE to support the Kingdom standard of marriage as we personally interpret it in scripture, where a couple is joined in marriage for a different reason [the glory of God] and with a different result, [sacrificial love] then that which is being portrayed by our culture.

This is assuming, of course, that we have, as Christians, been building our marriages with that different reason and with that different result ALL ALONG.

Two___We GET to CONTINUE to be living proof of the fact that in our view marriage is based on a COVENANT and not a social contract, [covenants and contracts are totally different in nature] which is also contrary to what is being portrayed by our culture.

This is assuming of course that we have, as Christians, been building our marriages on that covenant idea ALL ALONG.

Three___We GET to CONTINUE to expose our belief that as Christians our marriages are being built on the foundation of the object of our faith, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, rather than on any kind of funny feeling that is identified as "love" which is promoted by Hollywood and other sources.

This, too, is assuming that we have, as Christians, been building our marriages on the Person of Christ ALL ALONG.

Four___We GET to CONTINUE to love the people that make up a culture that believes differently than do we as Christians and is a culture that has no desire to accept our Kingdom standard of behavior, which we certainly understand and would not expect them to, apart from a conversion to Christ that only believing the gospel can bring about.

This is also assuming that we, as Christians, have been loving them this way with no expectations for them apart from conversion, ALL ALONG.

I would say the 10th Court of Appeals has not changed the way we believe or behave at all, if what I've just said has, in fact, been true of us ALL LONG.  Maybe this is the way things always will be in His Kingdom and for His Kingdom kids with regards to whatever might become legal or illegal in our culture.

I will say this. If it hasn't been true ALL ALONG, there isn't much honest room for saying a lot in protest without it ringing hollow. If it has been true of us ALL ALONG, we aren't much into protesting anyway, are we! We're too busy living differently and enjoying loving people where they are.

You think?

Paul B.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I've been around a few people in my 58 years of ministry who have been sick and in pain and some who had very little time left. [When you think about it who of us doesn't fit that description!] They were faced with a few very serious questions at that juncture. 

After the practical questions of dealing with how to dispose of what is left behind materially, they were then faced with one very narrow question that may be the biggest they'd ever faced. What did they wish to do with the time they had left? That may be the question of any day we live as I'm going to attempt to show in this blog post.

There is an Ephesians verse that addresses this. Ephesians 5:16 says, "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." But what does it mean to “redeem the time?”  The word “redeem” in the Greek means “to buy up, ransom, or rescue from loss.” So the need to rescue from loss the time that remains in our life might be what is intended here. But this would only involve today since yesterday is past and tomorrow may not come, at least there is no guarantee of it coming.

A need in all this, however, is to understand the phrase "the days are evil." 

This word "evil" in the original Greek here means "hurtful evil, calamitous, diseased, derelict and vicious." That is certainly an apt description of today if one were to read newspapers or watch television news channels. We are living in the kind of days that make the facing of what paths of life we take of prime importance. Even our thoughtless habits can cause a loss of Kingdom reality in our living. That evil can win the day is not an understatement. [We know the end is secure however don't we!]

But in order to follow a wise course of action for redeeming the time that we do have today, it would be appropriate to understand what misusing the time might look like. It may be simplistic, but I think it could basically be boiled down to the loss of one concept and the need for a recovery of that concept.

Psalm 90 has that concept in it. It's the idea of living with an awareness that our days are, in fact, numbered. Most people don't entertain that thought often, if ever. It's only human nature to believe and live as if we have unlimited days ahead of us. This idea is especially prevalent among young people. [Although, honestly, it has always been so, even my generation as a young person, a hundred years ago, which is but a slight exaggeration.] But an important and factual statement is found in Psalm 9:10-12 where it says this, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” 
It is clear that numbering our days is connected to wisdom. So, if we were to regain the understanding of living each day as if it were our last, being wise today would result.

That resulting wisdom is described in that Ephesians 5 chapter just preceding the 16th verse mentioned earlier. Verses 14-15 have this to say,
“Wherefore he says, AWAKE you that sleep, and ARISE from the dead, and Christ shall give you LIGHT. See then that you WALK CIRCUMSPECTLY, not as fools, but as WISE."  Look with me at that sound instruction. 


The word “awake” means “to be wakened, to collect our faculties being roused from sleep or from just sitting or lying down.” [It's like being raised from the dead.]

“Repent and Be Zealous” 

This means to have a change of mind and to recognize and understand we are alive in Christ Who is, Himself, our very life and we are to live zealously with this frame of reference. 

Walk in the light

When we are truly awake to this reality and zealous in it, there is a promise that He gives light for this day. [And this day ONLY.]

Walk circumspectly

This is an old word which means  to walk cautiously; to look where one is stepping; to be vigilant, watchful, diligent, attentive. In simple terms, to pay attention. To what? 

To being wise and not a fool

This wisdom is articulated in the several verses following which could be clearly and yet simply stated as being joyful, [verse 19] being thankful, [verse 20] and being a servant to others. [verses 21-33] It would be utter foolishness for us to live each day ANY OTHER WAY

Now, were we as Christians to face the fact that we all are in that very situation daily, asking what do we do with our time left, and were we to come up with the same answer, to love God and love people and serve others rather than being served, we would discover ourselves living what scripture describes as "the Normal Christian life." We would be, in fact, redeeming the time.

Paul B.

Monday, June 09, 2014


What do we mean when we say "Kingdom Living?"

It might be good to know because it is clear from scripture [Luke 4:43] that Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God. His life and message were all about what the Kingdom was like. So to be "Jesus followers," and more importantly, when we have Him as the very source of our very life, we will have our feet firmly planted in Kingdom living.

So, what is the Kingdom of God? It is, in simple language, living life where what God wants done, [His Will] is done. That's what the simple phrase in the Lord's prayer is addressing. "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." It will be. But until He comes with that "Future Kingdom" the "Present Kingdom" is ANYWHERE  the King truly rules and reigns in someone's life right now.

The "Present Kingdom" looks like your life, whatever that entails. 

Whether it's going to work, play or being on vacation. Whether it's being married or unmarried. Whether it's going to a gathered meeting of your part of the Church, whatever you call that group, or not going to a gathered meeting. Whether it's seeing a child born or family member or friend die. Whether it's being young, old, or somewhere in between. Whether it's being divorced or being abandoned. Whether it's being healthy or sick. Whether it's being wealthy or living from pay check to pay check. Whether it's seeing the beauty of God's creation or being blind and seeing darkness all of your life. Whether it's being handsome or homely, beautiful or plain, or just being ordinary in the looks department, the talent department or the career department. Whether it's having a College degree, a Master's degree or even a Doctorate, or not having finished even high school. Whether it's having traveled extensively or never leaving the neighborhood.

It's experiencing any one of those things, or other things that could be listed, and being a person where God is real and responded to in faith while living out life on our unique journey with our eye on Him guided by His Word, trusting His Spirit for life and strength, knowing His Son and knowing that what He accomplished in His incredible Cross and empty tomb experience is the "SOURCE" for everything that makes life, in any of the mentioned circumstances, absolutely worth living and celebrating. All the time knowing some truths that are absolute for us all the days of our journey.

Some of those truths are that, as we live in His "Present Kingdom..."

He is available to us as we hunger to know Him better. [Matthew 6:13/Luke 16:16]

As we live life we can trust that good [by His definition] will come out of all kinds of things happening, good or bad.[By our definition] [Romans 8:28]

We can trust that NOTHING can or will separate us from His unconditional love and effective care. [Romans 8:35-39]

Then, finally, we know with assurance that one day HE WILL RETURN and the "Future Kingdom" will come with Him with all of what that means in a new dimension called "Eternity."

We are truly comforted by these words. [1 Thessalonians 4:18]

THAT'S what we mean by "Kingdom Living."

Paul B.

Sunday, June 01, 2014


There is a two-headed coin often used with Bible verses that leave both sides losing. With neither side of this coin, is there a, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner," as a favorite friend of mine loves to say when the OKC Thunder or OU wins,  [I say it with her, by the way.]

Let me explain the two-sides first.

One side of the coin [heads we'll call it] is fragmenting a verse. This means taking a PORTION of the verse or taking a verse ALONE, without it's context, and applying it to situations, or worse, quoting it TO someone as if it's the answer to whatever is troubling or discouraging them.

A case in point is that Matthew 18:20 verse where Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them." This is usually used to assure people, preachers are especially guilty here, that when only a few people show up for church services, be assured God is there, so all is well. I'm sure He is present since He is, in fact, Omnipresent. But that isn't the meaning of the verse in context. More on the meaning in a moment.

The other side of the coin [tails we'll call it] is what is called "isogesis" which means to read INTO a verse something not intended, as opposed to "exegesis" which means to take FROM a verse the meaning that is there in language and context. Isogesis is really nothing more than introducing one's own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into the meaning a verse instead of taking out of the verse what the language and writer are actually saying. In Bible study or knowledge, were you to flip this coin, either side will come up a loser.

Now to the meaning of the Matthew 18:20 verse. The real meaning is found in the context which is where someone as a believer has been willing to personally confront another believer over an issue and they didn't respond very well. But the problem is so serious they were willing to take someone with them as they go again.
The verse is saying in THAT context God is with you and in a very meaningful way. If you've ever been in that situation, and I have, it's really encouraging to say the least.

 No one is saying that God ISN'T where two or three believers have gathered to worship. He really is. It isn't WRONG to assure the people that HE IS THERE. Just don't quote the Matthew 18:20 verse as if it's the Bible PROOF He's present in a poorly attended meeting. It means something far deeper and grander than that.

Another example.

That I can ACHIEVE "anything," when I'm trusting God as my strength, is taken as an absolute promise by some people. To prove that, they quote Philippians 4:13, which happens to be my life-verse by the way.

The problem is this verse is NOT dealing with ACHIEVING anything.

People are usually thinking about scoring touchdowns or making a basket in a championship game. Or worse, charging things on a credit card trusting God for the ability to pay later or making an effort to get someone to change their bad behavior because they desire them to and are helping them. Because God is my strength I can do this, is their thinking, this verse says so!

But that isn't in the ballpark of what Paul was saying. He had faced hard times, many times, and had found that he could endure being rich or poor, hungry or filled, and in context, in prison or out of prison, and no matter THE CIRCUMSTANCES, he found the wherewithal to face them because of the Lord being his Life. For Paul, the issue wasn't "I can achieve anything," but one of "I can endure anything."

What a difference the context makes. No one is saying the former thought, achieving some good thing, is a WRONG thing. [On second thought maybe it is if you're thinking you can sow wild oats and NOT reap a harvest.] It just can't be proven with this verse and be getting the true meaning of what is being said by Paul to the Philippians. For THAT you HAVE to see it in context.

More on this subject later.