Thursday, December 10, 2015


I make no distinction between sacred "things" and secular "things." ALL "things" are finite and only God is infinite. I view God as the "SOURCE" of all THINGS!  [That from which or from Whom all things come into being or are derived or obtained. See 1 Corinthians 3:21-23]  And, I view all "things" as simply RESOURCES. [Something that is available for use or can be used as a help in making life a little better]

"Walking after the "things" of the flesh" [ a no-no] is simply using or seeing "things" as the SOURCE for making life worth living. It can be ANY thing. American citizenship, family, appearance, relationships, job, recreation, preaching, church attendance, bible reading, giving, you name it. When THESE THINGS are seen as the SOURCE for what makes life worth living they have become an idol. God isn't, Himself, seen as the SOURCE for life.

"Walking after the "things" of the Spirit" [a yes-yes] is simply using or seeing "things" as a RESOURCE for making life a little better, but, all the while, seeing God as the SOURCE of it all. It can be ANY thing. American citizenship, family, appearance,  relationships, job, recreation, preaching, church attendance, bible reading, giving, you name it. When THESE THINGS are simply seen as a RESOURCE for making life a little better or more enjoyable they ARE NOT an idol. God is, Himself, seen as the SOURCE for life.

All finite "things" will pass away.  Only Infinite God will not pass away. Nor shall we once our mortality [finite] has one day at the resurrection put on immortality. [Infinite]  

So life ISN'T a list of WHAT to do or what NOT to do in terms of priorities. But it is experiencing and celebrating God in ALL OF LIFE and enjoying all the resources [the things mentioned above added to the things in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23] He has delivered to you in your particular realm of existence on planet earth.  AND, it is being a RESOURCE yourself for others along the journey choosing to introducing them to your SOURCE with the gospel message when possible. [Christ IS after all, the answer for life.]

Thus, I make no distinction between sacred "things" and secular "things." It's seeing the SOURCE that counts!

Paul B.

Saturday, November 07, 2015


After my first article on worship someone asked the logical question, "How do you [asking about me personally] define worship?" Great question! let me introduce some of you for the first time, to the two words that are most often used to describe the methods/modes of worship and their content, in the present day. 

The REGULATIVE view of worship states [found in the Westminster Confession, chapter 21, paragraph 1] that ONLY those elements that are commanded or depicted in scripture are acceptable in worship. Some refer to this as an EXCLUSIVE view of worship because it EXCLUDES anything that is not directly instructed or at least pictured in the pages of Scripture. This view is generally found in the more Reformed or Calvinistic version of the theological spectrum.

The NORMATIVE view of worship teaches that whatever is not EXPRESSLY prohibited in Scripture is permitted in worship. Many people refer to this as an INCLUSIVE view of worship because it can INCLUDE things that are not directly banned by the Bible. This view is most often found in the less Calvinistic versions of the theological spectrum. 

These two views have been created basically by theologians [neither word appears in the Bible] to discuss the way worship services can/are to be done. As you can imagine, there is a rising theological argument as to which is correct view of worship for congregations in Southern Baptist life. 

My contention is that NEITHER view says it the way it needs to be said or understood. For example, sound systems are not mentioned or pictured in scripture, so having those would violate the first, I'm assuming. [Not to mention pipe organs or praise bands.] The second could have a visiting circus on any given Sunday, since those are not expressly condemned by scripture. If it would build a crowd some folks probably WOULD have a circus. [Just remember that whatever it takes to GET them there it will take to KEEP them coming.]  You see how we could parse the rules laid down by both systems of thought.

I believe there is ordered in the New Testament a "True Throne Room Christian Experience"  [my coined phrase]  of worship that is to be ours both individually AND collectively. You could call it "Relational Worship" or simply "enjoying Him!" This concept would have to be characterized by the word OBEDIENCE since that's the basic meaning of worship in scripture. [Abraham said, "The lad [Isaac] and I will go yonder and worship" meaning "obey!" Genesis 22]  The highest form of praise and worship in the Scriptures is obedience to Him and to His Word. This obedience is whether we are walking in life personally, or gathering together corporately, and that worship experience [privately/or corporately] will be NEITHER by rules NOR unruly as we engage in true worship. [The two-sided coin of true worship is obedience and enjoyment because He's truly worthy.]   

Here's how I would explain what true worship is all about. 

I'm afraid that most Christians do not realize that in the New Covenant [Testament] worship is NOT AN ACTIVITY like seen in the Old Covenant [Testament] with its Temple and feast days celebrations. [ALL of which Jesus fulfilled and accomplished] But rather, true worship is a way of life as we are "being" the LIVING TEMPLE in-dwelt by God and "experiencing" His very life. [Romans 12:1-2]  [Someone has called this "inside out" living, and I think that's a great way to say it.]

For the Church, whether individually [scattered] or collectively, [gathered] there are certain instructions made clear in the text of the New Testament, to be sure. But, those instructions are about "BEING" rather than "DOING."  [Think Be-Attitudes] As we're living/worshipping individually, we are to BE people who are BEING loving, BEING forgiving, BEING one who walks in the Spirit, witnesses, etc,. Then, collectively,[gathered] as we're living/worshipping, we will BE people who are provoking each other to love, prayer, encouragement, sharing the Word, singing or making melody, instructing the saints, baptizing or sharing the table of the Lord. [All the "One Another" verses]  When the scriptures DO speak of "doing" as in Lord's Supper, it's "as often as you do." 

But the WHEN or WHERE or HOW we are to worship assembled [gathered] ARE NOT things articulated in the text of the New Testament itself. The New Testament is NOT a book of regulations or rules that we are to "follow" by "doing" certain things a certain way. It is, rather, a book of guiding principles for us to "internalize"  [feed on the Word of God] for "being" the Living Body of Christ whether "scattered" or "gathered," BY FAITH!  So, to have organs OR Praise bands, or to have sermons OR testimonies are all valid tools, to be sure. But how you DO things [The tools you use] as the people of God is NEVER SACRED in the New Testament, It is how we are BEING/LIVING all of life, by faith, that counts as His people, THAT is what is the SACRED thing. 

The FORMS [tools for doing things] our living takes, whether individually or corporately, will certainly vary. Those tools will even ebb and flow and change WITH THE CULTURE. Church buildings are a cultural concept and may vary according to the culture in which we are living. All of our life reflects this variation of tools of course. Driving cars, owning houses in neighborhoods, having air conditioning in homes and cars and church buildings, pulpits, choir robes, lights, drama, short sermons, long sermons, overhead projectors, multiple screens, are all examples. These FORMS [tools for doing things] are NOT DEVELOPED in the New Testament materials  themselves, even the tools used in worship. 

But our FUNCTION [how we're to BE] as Christians individually or corporately is certainly DECLARED in the scriptures.

I read someone who said this, "Evangelicals tend to reduce the Corporate experience of worship [the WAY or TOOL used to do worship services] to certain styles:  1)__ Worship becomes a classroom for learning [Maybe Bible churches]; 2)__ Worship becomes a family reunion for mutual encouragement [Maybe congregational churches]; 3)__ Worship becomes a welcome wagon for visitors and seekers [Maybe Seeker churches]; 4)__ Worship becomes a hospital room for spiritual, psychological, and even emotional healing [Maybe Recovery churches]:  5)__ Worship becomes even an experience that is highly entertaining." [Maybe Modern churches]  I've experienced all of them. And, as you can see, I believe NO ONE of these modes or methods of doing church services is totally inappropriate nor does any one of these necessarily rule out the others as legitimate.  

But, here's the deal!!  I AM thinking that when ANY ONE OF THESE  is championed as the ONLY one or RIGHT one ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE, there is something wrong with our understanding of scripture itself. 

On top of that, I believe any one of these forms can BECOME an IDOL in a Christian's life! You might ask, "What are the indicators that it has become an idol?" My thinking is when someone DEMANDS all others fall down before and AGREE with a certain way of doing things they've overstepped SOME kind of line. But If they then get ANGRY when someone disagrees with them about it, you might want to assume they have taken it WAY too far, if not made it an idol. As I said, no one of these models is entirely wrong, but when any one of these is declared to be the ONLY model for corporate worship, it's dangerously close to becoming idolatrous,

New Testament instructions for individual OR gathered Christians are instructions about "BEING" rather than "DOING." As we're living/worshipping individually, we are to BE people who are BEING loving, forgiving, BEING people who walk in the Spirit, witnesses, etc,. Then, collectively,[gathered] as we're living/worshipping, we will BE people who are provoking each other to love, prayer, encouragement, sharing the Word, singing or making melody, instructing the saints, baptizing or sharing the table of the Lord. [All the "One Another" verses] Worship will be this kind of experience for us all!

Paul B.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I'M THINKING____There is not A SINGLE verse in the New Testament that even hints that the PURPOSE of the gathering of the church is for worship. The New Testament text shows that the purpose of the gathering is all of the "One Another" verses. In other words, it is for the horizontal relationships [plural] and NOT the vertical relationship [singular] that the Church gathers on any given occasion. I'm NOT saying to worship as a gathered congregation is WRONG. I'm just saying it is NOT the PRIMARY purpose for the gathered Body of Christ in the New Testament. I'm thinking that's where we are to be today as well. John Piper said this, "The very epistles that are written to help the church be what it ought to be in this age [are] almost totally devoid of…explicit teaching on the specifics of corporate worship" There are some things that I disagree with John Piper about theologically, but NOT this.

I'M THINKING____Many churches today may be reflecting an "Old Covenant" way of thinking about worship rather than a "New Covenant" way of thinking? To "go to" a place and "to do" certain things a certain way, misses the boat on worship entirely as seen in the New Testament. In the Old Testament people DID COME to the Tabernacle/Temple [House of God] to meet with and worship Jehovah a certain way. They did bring such things such as sacrifices and offerings all the while performing their rituals regularly that led eventually to the High Priest entering into His Presence in the Tabernacle or Temple on that one occasion called the Day of Atonement.  

But to see the Church in the New Testament trying to gather IN THAT WAY would be missing the point of the CROSS. Jesus Christ IS HIMSELF our sacrifice, our offering, our feast days, our cleansing, our sanctification, and all the rest that's pictured in the Old Testament Tabernacle OR Temple. Jesus IS our very life! We live DAILY in the presence of God and are to worship DAILY the One Who indwells us by His Holy Spirit. Worship for us is a life of obedience as we're recognizing His presence and enjoying HIM as being our source for All OF LIFE. Then there is a gathering occasionally to encourage and provoke one another.  [See Romans 12:1-2 and Hebrews 10:25]

I'M THINKING____A debate about “music in worship” is a bit silly, if not totally futile. From" no instruments" on one side of the argument [Church of Christ], to those who enjoy what SOME MIGHT CALL "entertainment,” [Lights and Sound, drums and guitars, such as we have in my church called HHBC which they would say qualifies it as entertainment, an assessment with which I disagree] you have a raging debate about which is RIGHT

But my question is WHY does the way someone musically worships matter to us AT ALL?  

In the New Testament music itself is simply NOT addressed, except being seen as a result of the Holy Spirit doing His infilling work. But things like washing feet, serving in love, sharing the Lord's table, teaching the saints and praying for others are addressed as a congregation. We call them the "one-another" verses mentioned in the first paragraph. Even were one to hold to the Old Testament as an example for worship, [I don't, as you can tell] it needs to be remembered that the Israelites many times used drums, trumpet blasts, silence, repetitions, singing, shouting, and numerous other interesting displays to glorify God. Nothing calm, cool or collected about that.

I'M THINKING____Jesus REALLY DID mean something special when He announced that the day has come when those who worship will do so in Spirit and Truth? NO LONGER is worship to be based on doing it a certain way, a certain time or at a certain place. Nor is it supposed to be based on one generation’s “form” of musical worship compared to another. IT IS A WAY OF LIFE!

So, as I read someone say and I paraphrase, whether in a room alone, or with others shouting and jumping with joy, or sitting in silence, or clapping to an electronic synthesizer, or with an organ or piano singing hymns, or just being intoxicated by his love as the Song of Solomon describes it, or even further, when we are reading aloud the Word, or feeding the poor, proclaiming the Good News to  the broken hearted in His name, laughing together, or giving our finances, LET IT ALL BE DONE to the glory of Jesus. We worship because we are reveling in His Grace and enjoying Him and wish to celebrate His matchless GLORY  [Greek "Doxa" meaning His "manifested Presence."]  whether gathered or scattered!

I'M THINKING____Wade Burleson got it right when he said this...

""Worship in many churches is either on life support or is dead. But it has nothing to do with whether saints play guitars versus Steinway pianos, or videos versus violins, or any other differences in style. Though many call the disagreements over 'contemporary' and 'traditional' styles of worship 'wars,' in reality, the REAL war in worship is the "internal battle in me." [All of us!] God calls me to rest in Him, to enjoy Him, TO BE SO captivated and enraptured by His love and grace for me, that I will burst unless I  actively worship God and give expression to what's happening in my soul." 

Wade goes on to say...

"Worship is an inner [spiritual] health made audible. If there is no soul-tingling, mind-bending, emotion-touching, will-transforming enjoyment of God, then there is no soul-tingling, mind-bending, emotion-touching, will-transforming worship of God! Worship of God is non-existent when enjoyment of God is non-existent. Sure, I can sing songs, play music, and 'do church,' but if there is no understanding of what it means to be fully satisfied in God, then there will be no desire on my part to publicly express my praise and gratitude in real worship of God." [Privately OR Corporately!]

Paul here...

I'M THINKING____I'll just quit typing and have a moment of worship myself.


Paul B.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


The Blackness Within: Piercing the Veil of Shame
The Law is summed up in this saying: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Romans 13:9

Last night I was at a marriage conference when the speaker said something that made both my and my wife's backs tighten and our shoulder muscles spasm. He said, "Ladies and gentleman, the reason you don't love your spouse is because you don't love God with all your heart. If you loved God more, you'd love your spouse more."


Anytime I hear someone say "Just love God more -- with all your heart, soul, and mind -- and all your problems will be solved," I want to stand up and shout, "You don't get it! The Law is never summarized or fulfilled by loving God more. The Law is summarized and fulfilled "by loving your neighbor as yourself."

If you are struggling right now in any human relationship - be it marriage, paternal, sibling, neighbor, church member, or work - you might want think carefully about why Paul never summarizes the Law with an encouragement to "love God more."

What is the Law?

When the Bible speaks of "the Law" it references all that is contained in the Five Books of the Law - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. In the Bible "the Law" is sometimes called "Moses" because the first five books are attributed to Moses.

When Jesus walked with the two men on the road to Emmaus, they did not recognize Him. Listen to what Jesus did:

"And beginning with Moses (the Law) and the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27).It drives me bananas when Christians try to artificially separate "the Law" into moral (the 10 Commandments), ceremonial (the Feasts and the sacrifices) and civil (the yearly calendar, the new moon festivals, etc...) portions, urging Christians to keep "certain parts of the Law" - depending on denominational affiliation - to show their "love for God."

The Law is not about anyone's love for God. The Law is about God's love for us in Jesus Christ. The Law - all of it - concerns Jesus Christ. In Genesis Jesus is the lamb slain for Adam and Eve to cover their sins as well as the ram at Abraham's altar. In Exodus, He's the Passover lamb and the Ark that leads God's children to the Promised Land. In Leviticus, Jesus is the High Priest and the Sacrifices that make at-one-ment for the people of God. In Numbers, He's the Cloud by Day and Pillar of Fire by night and the Living Water that comes from the Rock. In Deuteronomy, Jesus is the City of our REFUGE and the Law itself. I could go on, and on, and on.... The Law is about Christ.

Since the Law is about Jesus Christ and God's love for us, when the Apostle Paul "summarizes" the Law - or declares the Law is fulfilled - it is always a reference to the love of God for us in Christ. This is really good news for people who struggle with shame.

The Blackness Within

A person filled with shame constantly feels and hears the message "I can't..." or "I'll never..." or "I'm incapable..." or "It's hopeless..." A shame filled person is one who feels helpless to change. The best way I've ever heard it described is "a blackness within." Once a person filled with shame begins to spiral downward in relationships, there's no way out - it's all black. It's either "fight" or "flight." A shame-filled person must either control or run.

To tell a person who is filled with shame and who is struggling in his or her human relationships to simply "love God more" only drives that person deeper into darkness. They can't. "To love God more' is an encouragement that only deepens the hearers' descent into darkness. Even worse, to tell others they should "love God more" in order to repair their broken human relationships is an absolute misunderstanding of how the Bible summarizes the Law and calls our attention to how the Law is fulfilled.

Listen to the Apostle Paul again: "The Law is summed up in this saying: "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Romans 13:9). Paul does not "sum up" (Gk. ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται) the Law by saying, "Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself." Nope. He skips "loving God" completely and says the Law is "summed up" in "love your neighbor as yourself."

He makes his argument even stronger in Galatians 5:14 when he says "the entire Law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself." The word "fulfilled" (Gk. πεπλήρωται) is much stronger than "sum up." The verb "fulfilled" is in the past perfect tense which literally makes the verse say "When you love your neighbor as yourself"the Law" has already been fulfilled.

Lifting the Veil of Shame

If the Law is all about Jesus Christ and God's love for us (and it is), then the only way we'll ever find healing in our human relationships is not to love God more, but to learn to rest in God's love for us through Jesus Christ (the Law).

Someone has said there are five languages of love. Stop thinking about how much you love God, and start thinking about how much He loves you. Think about God's love for you in Christ according to the five languages. STOP! Change the tape playing in your mind right now. Don't even dare think about how much you love God in these next few moments and contemplate in the following verses how much God loves you!

(1). Words of affection: God says to you "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). He declares "You are the apple of my eye" (Zechariah 2:8). God encourages us with "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous (Isaiah 41:10). John reminds us that true love is from God, not us for "In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent us His Son" (I John 4:8).

(2). Quality time: "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you, for He says, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.'" (Deut. 31:8) }Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). This verse from Hebrews contains five negatives - "I will never, no never, no never leave you or forsake you." That's quality time.

(3). Acts of service: "God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things. God is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:24-25). There's nothing God needs from you. There's no act of service or devotion you can give that pleases God, for He is pleased with Himself. He "gives to you life, breath, and all things." He works all things "for your good" (Romans 8:28).

(4). Physical touch: "But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God really dwells in you" (Romans 8:9). It is "the life of God in the soul of man" that is your hope. He who is "in you is greater than he who is in the world" (I John 4:4). He numbers the very hairs on your head, and knows you intimately. As for us, "we now see Him only as a reflection in a mirror; but there's coming a Day when we shall see Him face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known now (I Corinthians 13:12).

(5). Special gifts: "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). "God will supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ" (Phil. 4:19). It's amazing that all the promises of God are "a resounding Yes!" in Christ (II Corinthians 1:20), so I never have to work for the blessings, favor and pleasure of God, but simply must learn to rest in the fulfillment of the Law (Jesus Christ).

A Loved Me Begins Leaking Love

When you begin to understand how much God loves you, you begin to love yourself. When you begin resting in God's love - instead of constantly measuring your love for God - you begin to understand just how much you really count in this universe. God didn't die for worms. He died for those He chose from eternity to redeem, those He's making co-heirs with Christ. God has loved you with an everlasting love, and it is this love of God for you in Christ that is the fulfillment of the Law. It is the essence of the Law, for the Law is all about Jesus Christ.

So, when you begin to understand the Law (Christ), you begin to rest in God's love. And when you become so saturated with the love of God for you - and not so doggone consumed with your puny attempts to love God - you can't help but love others.

Jesus said, "It is by your love for one another that all will know you know Me" (John 13:35). Unfortunately, many Christians don't love one another because we get in a measuring contest about how much we love God rather than teaching people to rest in God's love for us in Jesus Christ.

For those who wish to argue, "But wait a minute! Jesus said, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). How can you say it's not about our love for God?"

Answer: Nobody loves God like that - but Christ. Nobody will ever love God like that - but Christ. This is why Christ fulfilled the Law; this is why Christ earned all the blessings due full obedience to the Law. In the new agreement with God under which we now abide (the New Covenant), God's blessings are given to us via our union with Christ, and the only way we'll ever come to the place of even beginning to learn what it means to love God is to focus on the fulfillment of the Law (Jesus Christ) and God's incredible, eternal, unconditional, and supremely personal love for us in Christ!

The fulfillment of the Law is that we love others - our love for God is not even mentioned - because the Law is about us coming to an understanding of God's love for us in Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of the Law!


If you are filled with shame and experiencing broken relationships, I hope that this little blog entry helps lift the veil of darkness. The Law (God's love for you in Christ) has been fulfilled when you love others as much as you love yourself, but you can't begin to love your shame-filled self until you know how much God loves you! However, once saturated and wet with an understanding and enjoyment of God's love for you, you can't help but get others wet with love when they rub up next to you because you are leaking the only real Love that lasts - God's love for you!

Next time you feel tempted to focus on yours or another's love for God, why don't you give it a rest and give this shame-filled world some really good news. Why don't you help pierce the veil of shame and move people out of darkness and help them discover the incredible riches of God's love for us in Christ!

Wade Burleson

Paul here...

As I said, it can't be said any better than this.

Paul B.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Hebrews 10:16-17]

There is a basic difference between the covenant God had with Israel, [the Old Covenant] which was founded upon the Law of Moses as the standard of behavior, and the New Covenant Jesus has established and ratified with His blood, which is our standard of behavior. The Old has been fulfilled in the New as it was Christocentric in its ultimate purpose from the beginning. As a result, all that is about Christ, His obedience, His death, His resurrection, His life, is accredited to our account and is our spiritual portfolio.

This is what it means when it says, "In Christ we HAVE ALREADY been blessed with ALL spiritual blessings....". Being Christocentric also shows the New Covenant is Grace centered rather than Law centered. [read rules here] Don't hear me say grace wasn't existent in the Old, but it WAS revealed in picture form [Sacrifices, feast days etc.] with all the pictures fulfilled in Christ Himself.

Some people try to make the ten commandments applicable to the New Covenant by dividing the Law of Moses into three parts, Thus they wind up with the ceremonial, the civil, and the moral law, [made up of the ten commandments] and they say the moral law extends to the New Covenant since it is descriptive of the character of God. That makes for easy remembering, but the problem is the Jews would never recognize such a division. The law was "one Body" of law and could not be broken into parts. Whatever happened to the Law of Moses happened to all of it. It was, as I said, entirely fulfilled in Christ.

That is not to say the New Covenant is antinomian. [Without law.] In the New Covenant we are "in-lawed" to Christ as I Corthians 9 says. We are to "hear ye Him" as admonished by the Father at the baptism of Jesus. And, by the way, nine of the ten commandments are repeated in the New Covenant scriptures, with only the "Sabbath" commandment not being repeated. This is because the "sabbath' was a unique sign given to Israel in their covenant with God. As New Covenant people our "Sabbath" is an "Eternal Sabbath," according to Hebrews, and we New Covenant people rest every day of our lives in the Grace of God. [Hebrews 4:9-10]

Welcome to the New Covenant! And, since our relationship with God is based on it, maybe our lifestyles should reflect it as well. What would this look like? Someone simply put it this way. "Under the Old Covenant of law, OBEDIENCE was the ROOT of all God’s blessings. But under the New Covenant of GRACE God blesses us first IN CHRIST, and OBEDIENCE is the FRUIT of having been blessed."

You can see our obedience is a "THANK YOU FOR" rather than a "BLESS ME BECAUSE kind of thing." The blessings of the New Covenant are quite revealing of GRACE, are they not!

Paul B.

Monday, September 21, 2015


"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." [Galatians 3:28 NIV]

Some people are asking the question, "Is the Church becoming too "feminized?" Whatever that means!

If by "feminized" is meant that you will find more women involved in Church life, when gathered, than you do men, I would have to agree. But I don't know that that is a problem. It seems to me that's been true of the church all along. Even in the NT the women were involved with the person of Jesus in many more ways than were men at times. The tomb situation, the Cross moment, the teaching and washing of Jesus feet are all illustrations of that fact. [Not many men mentioned in those moments.]

That, however, could be more a testimony to the courage of women as a gender and their ability to face the prospect of pain than anything else. Following Jesus often brought pain [and still may in many quarters] and women have shown their ability to endure pain quite well in child bearing. Men will never experience that, for obvious reasons, and will, if wise, concede the point that women may be stronger than are men where pain is concerned.

Some might mean by the "feminization of the Church" that men, as a gender, are less likely to be involved where relationships are concerned or small groups are being created because men don't talk or show emotions/feelings as much as do women. But, if that's what is meant, I'm wondering if that might not be an unhealthy generalization based on a completely unprovable premise. Much as I did above with the pain thing. frown emoticonI have to say, I've always been suspicious of categorizing men and women with certain assumed gender characteristics especially if those characteristics are viewed as ABSOLUTES. You've heard it said of women that they love to shop, but men hunt. The difference? Women "look and look and love the looking." With men it is,"I see._I shoot_[buy] I go home."

At the risk of destroying any perceptions about Mary and me, [those who know us well know this to be true] Mary is the one who sees, shoots, and go home, but she would rather see and shoot [buy] off the Internet] truth be known. I, on the other hand, love to look and look whether I buy or not, be it cars, clothes or__you get the idea. So, I'm thinking generalized gender characterizations MAY NOT be very helpful when speaking to this kind of question about the church at all.

Then there is the thought that by "feminization" of the Church is meant a diluting of the message of Christ into an "easy believism." In other words, the message of COMMITMENT and SACRIFICE is lost and a "feel good" message is being presented and accepted in our day and that turns men off. [Some say.] This is sometimes identified as "psycho-babble" which is, evidently, a Siamese twin to "feminization" in the minds of many. The assumption here is that women tend to fall for "easy believism." [As evidenced, I guess, by Eve's proneness to deception.] But men most likely won't be led astray. [Forgetting that Adam was EASILY led astray by the woman.]

I guess we COULD get men together, if we wanted to, [there is NOTHING wrong with having programs for men/women/children, just don't call those programs the "CHURCH."] by emphasizing real "manly things" like hunting, fishing, [though I know women who love those things and men who don't] and singing triumphant songs with soldier lyrics. But we could STILL wind up with a big, sometimes easy, sometimes feel good gathering that doesn't cost us a whole lot in terms of a sacrificial kind of thing at all. We will have just changed the content of the gathering.

But really, is the Church being feminized to the loss of attracting men? My personal opinion is it's impossible to do such a thing. My thought is to talk of programs that are male attractive OR female attractive as if those programs are the church is to miss the point of the REAL Church anyway. Biblically, the Church is genderless in nature and cannot be feminized. In Christ there is neither male nor female as stated in the opening text of this post. That statement is obviously NOT speaking of a physical fact of creation but of the spiritual nature of the Church or all the people "in Christ." The Church is a living, breathing, GENDERLESS organism that is to be seen as spiritual in nature and cannot be masculine OR feminine.

So the REAL problem with this "feminization of the Church" thing is perhaps far beyond any one of these ideas mentioned above.

Then what is the real problem?

One more time__I don't think we adequately__biblically__ understand in our day__what the Church REALLY IS.

At your leisure, check the scriptures and see how all the duties placed upon believers, any believer, whether it is to love one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, or whatever the Church is to be doing, are NEVER based upon which sex they are, whether male or female, but ONLY on the basis of being "in Christ."

That's the nature of the Church. That's what binds us together. That's WHY the nature of the true Church must never be defined by programs, race, cultural, or gender characteristics. The Ekklesia is being built without reference to race, gender or any such thing and no cultural idea or even hell itself can change that reality in this world.

Add to that the BASIC issue about whether or not the goal of the "gathered church" is to be one of ATTRACTING outsiders anyway. [Non christians] That idea may be entirely non-scriptural, if not un-scriptural. Our concern about NOT being too feminine or about NOT being manly enough to attract certain people may show we've lost the battle already.

The New Testament identity of the nature of the church may have been lost in our zeal to be attractive to our culture, it seems to me. So, I don't think it's the way we are DOING things when gathered that is the issue at all. Remember, the point of the Great Commission is to GO and gossip the gospel to the lost. It is not to invite the lost to COME and hear my pastor preach.

Were NON-BELIEVERS to actually come to our gatherings and find us LOVING on them whether they are male or female, anglo or otherwise, moral in their behavior or not, and were they to see our ability for experiencing shared lives based on grace and acceptance, while all the time EXPERIENCING the real presence of God, we would be going far, as Paul put it, to NOT..."defiling the Temple of God, which you are," [1 Corinthians 3:17]

With that happening, non-believers visiting our gathered group might not understand us, but they might be strangely drawn to us, so that they might be willing to give the message of our Christ a hearing anyway. That, to me, makes any gender problems a moot issue totally.

As to the question, "Is the Church being feminized," my answer is obviously a resounding "No!"

[In my humble opinion of course.]

Paul B.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


I've been thinking ! That can be dangerous I know, but the results of my thinking are some points that are fascinating to me and I thought they might be of interest to you as well.


When Paul the Apostle dealt with LEGALISTS [rules keepers], as he did in his letter to the Galatians, he uses the Law of Moses as his weapon of choice to correct them. The Galatians were groups of young Christians [churches] who had a fantastic beginning. Their response to the preaching of the Apostle was heartwarming. Paul was greatly enthusiastic about these groups of growing young Christians. But, after a while, word came to him that legalism, or rules keeping, had set in and it was certainly taking its toll. What had been a bright and marvelous testimony of the grace and glory of God was being turned into a dull, apathetic group of rules keepers__ cold, barren, and empty__ almost devoid of spiritual life. He tried to show them in the Galatian letter that even the law of Moses would never be a good tool for salvation or sanctification. Legalists got the lesson of the Law from the Apostle.

But when he dealt with LIBERTINES, [there are no rules to keep] as he did in his letter to the Corinthians, he NEVER used the Law of Moses as his weapon of choice.  In fact, he doesn't even mention the Law in the first Corinthian letter. He did use, however, the Wisdom of God to counteract their misconceived notions of their own wisdom. They were philosophers remember, [Phileo_lovers/ Sophia_wisdom or lovers of wisdom] and liked to think of themselves as people who were smart enough to live their life the way they wanted without ANY rules from ANYONE. In that first Corinthian letter Paul showed them that God's smarts are so far above their own that it made their smarts seem like foolishness. Libertines got the lesson of God's Wisdom from Paul. Not the law of Moses.

I'm finding myself thinking that, culturally, America is more libertine than legalist in the present day and I'm wondering if there might not be a lesson for us here!


In the New Testament there is no mention of the early churches ever putting on seminars, holding revival meetings annually, doing workshops to train Christians on how to have quiet times or do scripture memory. Don't hear me say those things are WRONG. I'm not! But it is interesting to me that the early church had none of them, and yet, they had an unbelievable power and even a purity that makes present day church life rather anemic, if not pathetic, in comparison.

What they DID seem to have, however, was an incredible SIMPLICITY about their preaching and teaching of the gospel. They seemed to simply relate all of Who Jesus was/is to everything about who they were, what they had and what they did in life. I think their power and purity was BECAUSE of that simplicity. Christ and His Cross work was the SOURCE of life for them.

The source is that from which we draw all that is really needed for life and is what makes life really worth living. Everything thing else is simply a resource which may help a little but isn't the source for anything. So for those SIMPLE early day Christians JESUS was the source of what made life really life and job, family, church attendance, etc, were all good resources but nothing more.

Present day Christianity is mistakenly making RESOURCES [local church attendance, bible reading, prayer, sermons, witnessing, marriage, family, work, money] the SOURCE in their search for a full and meaningful life and are reaping the unfortunate harvest which is a loss of power and purity in living. [The Jews had done the same thing with the Old Testament scriptures and Jesus reminded them, "You search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life but they are they which speak of me."]     

I'm often asked, "Whatever happened to the power and Purity of the early Church." My question is,"Whatever happened to the simplicity with which they viewed Christ as their very life?"

Just a couple of things I've noticed.

Paul B.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


The following is a blog post by Wade Burleson that deserves a wide audience. I don't write on many current events, especially those dealing with moral failure, but this is of such a nature I believe it needs a wide reading. You may not agree with all the conclusions of Wade, or anyone else for that matter, but you'll be blest by his understanding of grace and law. I'll post it for the few who choose to come this way on blogs.

"I have been the biggest hypocrite ever." Those were the first public words from Josh Duggar after hackers released information that Mr. Duggar spent hundreds of dollars at Ashley Madison, a website designed for married people who desire to have extra-marital sexual affairs. Mr. Duggar, the former Vice-President of theFamily Research Council, had worked tirelessly in opposition to gay marriage, internet pornography, and other moral and social issues. All the while, Mr. Duggar lived a secret life of "pornography addiction...and marital infidelity." The public exposure of Mr. Duggar's duplicity - or to use his word, hypocrisy - has set Twitter and social media on fire.

Hackers released the email addresses and credit card usage of 32 million users of Ashley Madison - but the media is focusing like a laser beam on Josh Duggar. Why is there a media and cultural infatuation with a twenty-seven-year old Christian whose singular claim to fame is being the eldest son of a family featured on a second-rate reality television show? The Advocate, an online news organization promoting gay, lesbian and transgender lifestyles writes that the Duggars have "a long history of anti-LGBT" rhetoric and actions. The Duggars have promoted "family values" and have called homosexuality a sin. It seems that The Advocate and other media have the rationale that, "if readers can see the lies and hypocrisy of Josh Duggar's life, then surely they'll understand the lies and deception of Josh Duggar's words,"

That's why Josh Duggar has been singled out among 32 million Ashley Madison users. Those who don't like the idea that moral law actually comes from our Creator will seize on anything to convince themselves and others that there is actually no moral law from God. Promoting hypocrisy in the life of one who speaks freely of Divine law makes those who despise the concept of moral law feel better about the possibility that God's law doesn't even exist. It's not news when an atheist has an affair.

However, those who have singled out Josh Duggar from among the 32 million Ashley Madison users are probably ignorant of the fact that God's law was only designed to expose the problem within us and never designed to expunge the problem from us. I'm an evangelical preacher of the gospel. I'm not surprised by any moral failure in the life of any Christian who publicly, repeatedly and consistently promotes God's laws to the world. Not only am I not surprised; I expect it. No matter how loudly, boldly and publicly one proclaims that adultery and homosexuality is a violation of God's moral law, Divine law has no power to remove desires for adultery or homosexuality from within the heart.

God's Law Changes Nobody, It Only Scars

God declares adultery to be a violation of His moral standard. "You shall not commit adultery," God says (Exodus 20:14). Solomon wrote, "the person who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does it destroys his or her own life" (Proverbs 6:32). Likewise God calls homosexuality "an abomination," a violation of His intention for the world (Leviticus 18:22). Paul says those who commit homosexuality have "taken the truth of God and exchanged it for a lie, worshiping and serving created things rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25).

God's law was given to expose corruption in the heart and to restrain actions by the sinner; but it was never designed to expunge corruption from the heart or to reverse actions by the sinner. The law is powerless to change us. "But we know that the law is good, if one uses it the way it was intended, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching” (1 Timothy 1:8–11).

The law scars. It might restrain, but the person restrained by law is scarred by the battle to throw it off. Sadness, unhappiness, despair, depression and all other emotions that bubble up when being held or restrained from obtaining the very thing the heart wants will lead the sinner to fight against God's restraints (the law). Let me illustrate this principle.

Odysseus, the great captain of the seas in ancient Greece, knew that the island of the Sirens was an island to be avoided. The beautiful half-naked, woman-like creatures who inhabited the island would sing their beautiful songs to entice sailors to enter their port. The Sirens would then attack the sailors, maiming and killing them before consuming their bodies. To avoid this sensuous but deadly island, Odysseus ordered his men to bind him with ropes, to put wax in their own ears, and then ordered the sailors to tighten the ropes when they saw their captain fighting against them. As Odysseus and his men sailed by the island of the Sirens, Odysseus heard the beautiful music and wanted with all his might to swim to the Sirens. He fought against the ropes. The sailors, with wax in their ears, tightened the ropes. Odysseus fought harder. He would later say,

"I became desperate to plunge into the sea." The sailors used the ropes to restrain Odysseus, and the ship eventually sailed by the island of the Sirens, avoiding certain destruction and death of Odysseus and his men.

But Odysseus was scarred for life. The ropes couldn't change his desires; they only prevented him from obtaining them. The legacy of fighting against the restraints could be seen on the physical scars he bore.

God's law is like the ropes that constrained Odysseus. It may be used to bind others, as a civil society may choose restraints in the form of laws that prohibit adultery and homosexuality (as America once did), but those others will fight against those laws until they are thrown off, because law cannot change the heart.

This is why it should never be surprising to any of us when those who advocate tightening the ropes wind up falling into the sea themselves.

God's Riches in Christ Is Beautiful Music Indeed

So how do we actually change? How do we avoid the Ashley Madison websites of this world? How do we say no to our addictions? How do we sail by the island of the Sirens? What has the power to change us?

According to the New Testament, the only thing powerful enough to change us from the inside/out is the riches of God's grace toward us in Jesus Christ. It's never the law of God that convinces a man to change his life; it's the grace and goodness of God in Christ that has the power to change the human heart.

We must become captivated by a sweeter, more beautiful song.

Going back to Greek mythology, Jason was another captain who sailed the Aegean sea. He and his men, the Argonauts, had also heard that the island of the Sirens was beautiful but deadly. Unlike Odysseus, Jason didn't sail by the island bound by ropes and with wax in his men's ears. Jason asked Orpheus, the greatest musician in the world, to sail with him and his men. When they came near to the island of the Sirens, Orpheus began playing his music. Jason and his men were so captivated by what they heard from Orpheus that when the Sirens began singing their songs, they sailed right on by because their hearts were captured by more beautiful music.

This is what the message of God's grace in Jesus Christ does for us. It's a sweeter song. The problem is that many who name Christ as Lord often seemed more concerned with tightening the ropes than creating beautiful music.

Yesterday I performed a funeral service for an elderly woman who died of Alzheimer's disease. I chose as my text God's incredible promise to those who trust His Son: "I will remember your sins and iniquities no more" (Hebrews 8:12). I explained that God's forgetfulness, unlike Alzheimer's, is intentional, personal, and eternal. When you begin to live in the knowledge of God's forgetfulness of all those times you "missed the mark" (sin) as a spouse, person, parent, etc... then you can relate to God not out of fear nor "obedience to any law," but in the knowledge of His great grace for you in Jesus Christ. After the message, a couple unfamiliar with true Christianity, told me that the message had "changed their lives." God's grace is the only thing powerful enough to change lives.

Life lived to its fullest comes from listening to the beautiful music that is struck by the chords of God's riches in Christ. Even when we screw up intentionally and wickedly (i.e.. "iniquity"), God forgets it because Jesus died for it. That's rich grace; and it alone will change our hearts, The music of grace causes us to lose desire for the lesser pleasures of sin and iniquity. Our lives change when we begin to feel that God's grace for us is more beautiful, more pleasurable, more captivating, and more enticing than our sin.

When I come to realize that I can jump into the sea and He'll never hold it against me, and when I come to understand that if I jump for a lesser pleasure I'm acting senselessly by abandoning my only real Treasure, and when I find myself swimming to a lesser pleasure that will ultimately only destroy me, then maybe it's time for me to ask why I'm not being captivated by the beautiful music of God's grace in Jesus Christ?

If, however, I hear the beautiful music of grace, and if I begin to walk in the deep and unconditional love of God for me, then I indeed discover that I need no illicit love to fill my heart. And if I come to revel in the sweetness of God's intentional and personal forgiveness of me, then I find the power to throw off any addiction that helped me deal with the pain and guilt of my failures. And if I come to understand that God, who spared not His own Son for me, will freely, daily and cheerfully give me everything I need, then I will be unable to find any reason to spend time worrying about tomorrow.

I have Him.

The Beautiful Music of God's Grace in Christ Changes the Heart

Ephesians 2:7 ... God sent His Son so "that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

Romans 9:23... God gave us His Son "make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy..."

Ephesians 1:7... "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace."
I Timothy 1:14... "and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus."

John 10:10...Jesus said, "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and that you might have life at its fullest."

If you've understood what I've written above, you understand my life's message. I'm not sure if it's clear to you or not, but after reading about Josh Duggar this morning, I felt compelled to write for those Duggars out there not yet caught.

Real change comes from rich grace.

Wade Burleson

Wade's words are not easily understood on this. Read it again if you must. But my hope is the song of true grace will be truly understood.

Paul B.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Country singer John Conlee has produced some great songs. I don't like all country music just like I don't like all gospel music. The lyrics and beat have a lot to do with whether I like a song regardless of the genre.

"The Old School" is a Conlee song that tells the story of high school love that is lost as she goes for a career after graduation and marries for money while he drives a truck and raises a family. Her marriage fails. His thrives. Reunion time comes. She asks for a dance. As they glide across the floor an exchange is sung this way by Conlee...

"It could be like old times__
you ask if I understand you__
well yes__ I'm afraid I do__
you say everyone does it__ 
I don't care if they do__
"I'm of the old school."

In that sense the "old school" is the old-fashioned way of viewing immorality and the keeping of marriage vows. I say 'hooray' for the old school and for John Conley. [Although he's just singing about it at the moment.]

But if you move the "old school" idea out of the realm of morality and placed it along side the "new school" comparing it to new ways of thinking about things that are merely cultural or things the bible doesn't speak with total clarity on, it isn't that simple. The "old school" isn't always right because it's old and the "new school" isn't always wrong because it's new.

Also, in the issues where the scriptures do speak, often new insight into the meaning of Greek words, a better understanding of the context of a passage or better understanding of the historical situation may enable one to move from an old school of thought and embrace a new school of thought and be honest, biblical and correct in doing so. [And it not be heretical at all]

With that in mind, I want to look at what I perceive to be "old school" "new school" ways of thinking about several issues and try to track why I personally may have moved from one school to the other or, in fact, stayed with the "old school." It's a given for me! The "old school" is not always right because it's old and the "new school" is not always wrong because it's new. And vice-versa!

Take a simple thing like manners. The "old school" of thought has caused me to open doors for women, rise when a woman joins us at a table or our group and remove my baseball cap inside a building such a restaurant or church facility.

The "new school" of thought is different. At a Starbucks recently I held the door open for a young woman and she glared at me as she said "I can do it for myself." It was obvious to me she had felt the indignity of in-equality heaped upon her by our culture in the home or workplace and certain actions shouted out to her that she was considered less as a person, helpless and feminine in gender to boot.

Add it all together and what she was hearing me say by what I was doing was, "That sweet little helpless thing needs a man to help her." But she was not having any of that. My response to her was literally an embarrassed "Sorry, I'm of the old school." I don't think she cared where I went to school or how long ago it might have been, she neither needed nor wanted my help. The fact that my gesture had a different purpose and intention behind it was fine for me to know, but it didn't help my moment of interaction with her.

Now. I could argue that I was right [old school] and her new way of thinking was wrong [new school] and her thinking was destroying manners in our society. The truth is, it was a cultural moment and no right or wrong way of doing or thinking was involved at all. Just different ways of doing and thinking. If I had gotten angry or had shown my displeasure with her or projected myself to the head of the table [above her] in my assessment of character based on that exchange, I would have effectively declared war on her and her culture of new thought and that declaration of war would be known by all because my attitude would leak...profusely. For me to ever impact her and her culture with the gospel would be practically impossible were I to persist in that attitude of war.

One more example. Removing your baseball cap. I'm of the "old school." I still find it difficult to wear one inside a cafe, I do...but it has taken a while to experience freedom in doing so. I still can't keep it on in a church building. I think it shows respect to remove it in a church gathering and there may even be some sense of a respectful atmosphere in it's removal although there is certainly no clearly stated command to do so that I can find. But it just feels right to me. It's my generation I'm sure. We're "old school" you see.

Young people today are of a "new school" of thinking. A baseball cap to a young man today is a bit like his pants, no matter how dirty, they are NEVER to be removed except at night in order to stand them in the corner until the next day. When a young man leaves his cap on in church I could tell him to "take it off in the house of God," as one deacon did that I heard about. But it's said that the teen-ager responded, "Sir, this cap is ON the House of God." [While hoping he didn't mean to be disrespectful, I'm thinking the kid had better theology than the deacon don't you?]

In elevating an "old school" of thought on manners as that deacon did about the hat on in church to an ought/should/must, may be seen as another declaration of war to our culture [new school/cultural thinking] and a door can be heard slamming shut to the gospel being effectively shared with a young man and much of his generation.

Don't hear me saying we can't establish boundaries and even request young men to remove their hats in church, but it might be wise to do so on a cultural or personal basis rather than a right/wrong moral basis. If we're angry, judgmental, or condemning of their I said.

I might request that for the worship hour hats be removed out of respect for our gathering unless there is a personal reason or conviction against removing it which would be understood and respected as well. In such a case, feel free to not remove it.

Were I to do this, I probably would do it regularly as a teaching moment when someone's hat isn't an issue, much as I do with my statement "crying babies are like good intentions, it would be a help to everyone if they are carried out immediately." I DON'T declare that in the middle of a crying session. Or I might choose to NOT make a big deal about it at all. But, as I say, it's hard for me not to. "Old school" remember.

Someone may be wondering why I even mention such mundane matters as manners. It is to establish a principle of relating to people who are different in cultural attitudes. They are not the enemy. If I consider them to be, that carries over into major things rather quickly.

People are important and my view of a lot of things is not the right view because it's mine and is of the "old school." It has to pass muster with whether or not my view is, in fact, something clearly biblical or whether it is my "old school" cultural thinking and is still just that.. cultural.

If it is JUST cultural, things have a way of changing culturally and it may be legitimate to move from the "old school" to the "new school" of thought and know you would NOT be bankrupting your Christianity at all.

Baseball caps on in church is mundane perhaps. But styles of worship? Marriage? The pulpit and politics? Preaching exegetically or topically? Do we tend toward making sacred certain things that are not__in fact__sacred at all? May it not be just cultural? [Just a different one than the present.]

We may be unnecessarily declaring war on our culture if we are not careful and hinder the gospel because we wind up being more committed to an old school of thought than we are to Jesus and His message.

In other words, I could be Baptist with a certain view of things and think of it as Christianity and it not be biblical at all. Just some of my "old school" Baptist thinking that is, in fact, only cultural. Old culture. MY old culture.

Bottomline? I would say this.......

One__People are important. Maybe MORE important than my old Baptist culture even.

Two__We're NOT at war with people and their ideas automatically even if they AREN'T Christian.

Three__It is POSSIBLE to be "old school' and more cultural than Christian and not even know it.

While accusing others [splinter in the eye] of embracing culture into their Christianity, some of us may have a 2 by 4 in ours. More later..

Paul B.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


When something is characterized with the phrase "that's a given" or "it's a given" it means that whatever the something is, it's so "obvious" that no one really needs to point it out. It's already "accepted as fact."

I'm going to mention over the next few posts some things that are "a given" for me personally. Let's see if you agree!

It's a given for me that there is a difference between "discrimination" and "differentiation."

To differentiate between male and female, for example, as to public restrooms with certain products and equipment [I'm sure you understand what I mean here] would NOT be a diminishing of one or the other at all. Thus, no discrimination is involved. [Assuming the restrooms of both are equal in NEEDED facilities and necessities.] THAT is just recognizing differences.

There ARE differences between a male person and a female person after all. 

I AM glad, I might add, that diaper changing stations having been added to men's facilities in our present day, since we are fathers to our children and need to know how to do our share of parenting to them, is a welcome thing. [Every dad needs to know how to change his kid's dirty.] I'm even glad birthing rooms in hospitals now permit fathers [if they can handle it] to be present and wish it had been so in our day. It wasn't!

That said, as an aside here, to make ARTIFICIAL differences between men and women with statements like "a women shops but a man hunts when in a department store," is to make a general statement that may not be true at all. Another stated difference often made as an absolute is "Men are logical and women are emotional." It is, frankly, the opposite with Mary [my wife for those who don't know] and me. As to the first, I'm the shopper while she's the hunter. As to the second, I'm more emotional while she's more logical. [Though she is quite emotional at times and I'm even logical at times..but we're both a little bit surprised and are likely to call attention to it when either happens. :)] 

But I'll stop there before someone thinks she's Paul and I'm Mary. 

So there certainly are basic differences, particularly biological, between men and women, but to teach in marriage seminars that in some artificial way things are "always" this way or that way may do a great disservice to some couples and their marriages. 

But that's DIFFERENTIATION and, while acknowledging the biological differences, it would be helpful for artificial ones to NOT to be pressed as absolutes.

However, DISCRIMINATION is a horse of a different color entirely. THAT is more of a judgment made on the bases of some difference that produces the demeaning of someone BECAUSE of those differences and would be robbing them of some of their value as a human being because of that judgment. That, my friend, is discrimination.

[I'm not addressing the legal aspect of discrimination that is regulated by law of Supreme Court decisions which is a post for another day.] 

Racial and gender discrimination are the two classic examples. Others could be mentioned such as age, ethnic origin or even social and economic discrimination as well. [James mentions giving the preferred seat to one of wealth as opposed to the poor as a no-no.] But it is in the first two areas that such discrimination is blatantly unchristian and anti-scriptural to the core. Jesus certainly refuted and laid to rest ANY such discrimination as this in His life and ministry where men as well as women, bond as well as free followed and served with Him. It was even stated in Acts that the New Kingdom would find "Jews and Gentiles" and "sons and daughters" sharing equally in Kingdom stuff.

I'm thinking that when taking our relationship to Christ seriously, it's a given that to be discriminatory as to race, gender or even social status wouldn't be permitted. In other words, all those differences about which we tend to be so discriminatory in our culture just wouldn't matter when we properly understand the grace that brings us into the Kingdom.

Paul B.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Warning...heavy reading. Not for children
or for those who have to read children's stories. It is
for those willing to put away childish things.

For the moment anyway. :)

Does 1 Corinthians 11:3 actually say and mean that Christ is eternally subordinate to God the Father as some people say it does because that's what "head" means? Is the Son's "will" to be obedient to the Father's "will" in eternity to come? Is the Eternal Father OVER the Eternal Son in eternity future in terms of authority? Some say yes, yes, and yes.

I'm not so sure about that. I believe to be textually true and correct about this verse [1 Corinth 11:3] you would have to see what the meaning of the word 'head' really was to that culture and that is a difficult thing to do. "Kephale" [head pronounced "kef-a-lay"] in 1 Cor. 11:3 and would have, I believe, been understood by them to be referring to the origins or source of something and not to authority at all. If I'm correct, then it does NOT mean what many in our present Christian culture might think at first glance.

You see there are some perfectly good words in Greek [kuriotes, exousia, epitage] for "authority" but '"kephale" isn't one of them. I've examined every verse where Paul is speaking of "authority" or "rule" and a word other than 'kephale' is used. Add to that the Middle Eastern thought in the biblical culture of putting someone under your FEET as being a symbol of being above another in value or position [Still present in the Middle East as shown by the shoe thrown at then President Bush several years ago on a Middle Eastern trip.] and you would have good reasons for believing the idea of "head" does NOT mean authority in 1 Corinth. 11:3 or other places in scripture. [For example Colossians 1:18. See verses 16-17 for context.] 

In fact, the 'head' in Greek culture was often times thought to be the source of life. Just as the loins were thought of as the seat of emotions [See Philippians 1:8]  and the heart was the center or essence of being. So what we have in this verse is a word used that might make perfect sense to those of us living in the American culture today who think of it as meaning "boss." But it just did not usually have that sense in that day at all.

This is NOT to say that in the incarnation moment there was not a submission in Jesus to the express "will" of the Father. He was desirous to and He did submit to the Father. But always remember that the word used is a Greek word "Hupo tasso" meaning one of equal value and voice, choosing [middle voice] to serve another. That was, after all, the express PURPOSE of the incarnation [to live with perfect obedience as man] which culminated in the Cross where He became our substitute as the sinless Lamb of God.

That idea of submission is not, however, the natural flow of this 1 Corinthian 11 passage at all. Source is the natural flow.

And, by the way, do you realize that no where in scripture is a husband told to lead his wife? [He is told to serve her.] The words lead, leader, servant-leader, spiritual leader are not in the text of the scripture at all. Paul doesn't use them. Peter doesn't use them. And most of all Jesus never does.

These words are only DERIVED  LOGICALLY from the word "head" used here and in Eph 5 translating it the way our culture means it today. So if Paul had a different intention or idea he wished to convey to that particular culture, we will really miss it thinking of "head" the way we do in our present culture.

But back to our word "kephale." My favorite illustration of the natural meaning of this word to that NT culture is, as many of you who have heard me teach know, that of a river. When we speak of the 'head' waters of a river, we mean its "source" with no idea of authority at all bearing in mind what they thought "head" meant. That's the intention of Paul here I believe.

So what is being said in 1 Corinth. 11:3 is that we have God's only begotten Son coming from God who is the "source" referring to the incarnation. This verse was never intended to be a statement of his ]Jesus] ontological [nature] or functional [role] subordination to God the Father in either eternity past OR future. It was only speaking incarnately as the Son takes on a human nature in which He ASSUMES a subordinate relationship to God the Father. So 1 Cor. 11:3 is referring to God [ The Father] who is the SOURCE of Jesus coming in human flesh to accomplish His purpose and not the One who is 'BOSS' over Jesus pre-incarnation or post-incarnation. That idea has to be read into the text.

Phil. 2.5-11 helps clarify this when it shows that the pre-existent Son of God had the condition and status of being equal to God. This means Jesus WAS God in pre-time eternity one in nature or essence or being with the Father who is God and the Spirit who is God. One God----not three gods with three wills or three minds but One God with one will or mind---- who is expressed in three unique persons. Relationally, I suppose you could say, as did Erick Sauer... "Father-is the Lover, Son-is the Beloved, Spirit-is the Spirit of love" because God IS love.

But God the Son CHOSE to not abide in that condition of equality, but rather humbled himself [REMEMBER..involving a choice, not an inherent condition or state of the divine Son] and took upon Himself human nature with a human body. This, while never less than God in His nature. He, thus, became the unique God-man and while living as man was submitted to God the Father as the Second Man or Last Adam.

Now the rest of the verse makes sense as this whole idea of 'kephale' in 1 Cor. 11:3 continues to substantiate the 'source' of the woman being the man and Christ being the 'source' of the man?

The man as"head" [Kephale-source] of the woman can certainly be seen by going back to the Genesis story in which the woman is literally brought out of man. [The rib thing.] But someone might ask "how does the 'man' have his source in Christ?" I'm glad you asked. I read one person who said it well when he said there are perhaps two possible answers to this. One is when we remember that Paul stated that Christ pre-existed and was involved in the creation of the first human-kind [Adam] in the beginning. Col. 1.16 is quite clear about that as is John 1.

But also, we should remember that Paul is the one who articulated the Adam Christology as it applied to Jesus and that he said in a biblical reality Jesus is to be seen as comparable to the historical Adam and who, as such, is the founder/source of a whole new kind of human beings [redeemed] made up of all those who are in Christ, both men and also women out of every nation, tribe, and race on earth. [Whew, long sentence read it again.]

Which one of these is correct? I lean toward the first but maybe both are true. Either one would cause the words in 1 Cor. 11:3 to make good sense. Verse 12 seems to pronounce a benediction on the source idea as well.

So I don't see how 1 Cor. 11.3 can be used as a proof at all for the idea that Christ is eternally subordinate to the Father. I don't see it as providing any proof for the idea that men are perpetually in authority over women either. That's not what kephale means in this verse from my understanding. I have the same view of the language when interpreting Ephesians 5 as well.

My conclusion then, is that in eternity there are not three gods with three different wills and minds but one God Who has one will and mind expressed in three persons of equal nature or essence. The incarnation had a different purpose to be sure. Beyond this I have little understanding of the Trinity which is FAR beyond understanding with our finite minds anyway. So much more could be said but I had promised to give my two-cents and I want to do just that and no more.

Paul B.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Remember the bracelet? WWJD? It caught on years back at least in the religious world. It sure sounds spiritual enough. [What Would Jesus Do?] It also seems true that concerning some [if not a lot] of the modern situations we face today the scriptures appear to be somewhat vague, if not silent, on giving specific directions as to what to do in those modern situations.

What has caught my attention, however is the use of the "WWJD" concept on  blogs in regards to our American geopolitical culture. It was reported on a blog I read sometime back that a certain girl had decided she is now a Democrat because [according to her] that political party [as opposed to the Republican party] gives more attention to helping her fellow man. She is a bible believing Christian who is quite intelligent as well as committed as she evidenced with an extended time working overseas with people in dire need of everything including the gospel. Her argument was WWJD?  He'd be more like the Democrats.

Her political change was challenged on that blog with the same argument that under-pined her decision. WWJD? They were, in effect, saying God is more like the Republicans. So both she and her opponents were sure each side was being true to WWJD!

So it got me to thinking, would Jesus vote Democratic or Republican? What Would Jesus Do?

That might be an enlightening thing to discover. In fact, a better approach might be to look at what Jesus DID do since He did not live in a vacuum those thirty-three years here on planet earth two thousand years ago, but in the context of a very political and vicious culture of His own time and place. What DID He do?

If He does become our guide for choices we make in facing a culture that is the antithesis of our gospel, as is every culture anywhere today since there is no favored nation status anywhere, we might be shocked at what His example really is. Remember, Rome was ruling, slavery was rampant, [Both race and gender] and the poor were repulsive to all. If ever there was a corrupt and degenerate society that needed altering His did. I ask again...what did He do?

When political parties were formed and attempted to change things did He join? When laws were passed that denied His own values what court did He file His grievance in? When a Mayor or Governor or leader was selected by whatever process might have been then, what were the guiding principles He used for His own choice or of a candidate? In fact, did He ever vote in any election at all? It surely would be helpful as a guide for us if we can find out as we are now facing a whole new cycle of political activity that is enough to make the very worst political junkie among us overdose. If we could see what it was that Jesus did when confronted with political processes in His day, then "What would Jesus do?" might take on new meaning.

The answer is so obvious. We don't know because He didn't make ANY known choices in a geopolitical sense EVER that is on record. If we were to do what we know Jesus would do by observing His example, we would do NOTHING! Zero! Zilch!

Now...does this mean we SHOULDN'T vote or participate? Does this mean we should do nothing during our election for President in 2016? Well..I would absolutely have to say it means I can't announce my choice as His choice and yours as not being His choice. I sure can't say you're sinning [missing the mark] if I don't know what the mark is because it isn't stated in scripture even in example. I can't say without some pause that I know categorically "WJWD."

What I can say is this. I believe I'm to use every principle that I've found in the New Covenant that pertains to life in general and relationships in particular and make use of those principles in coming to my choices. It does mean I'm not to forget to have confidence that the ultimate results of all issues are genuinely in His hands with purposes I may not know as of yet. It does mean I'm to submit to every ordinance of man, with rare exceptions, and even then ready to pay the price willingly for not doing so in those rare occasions. That's regardless of whomever is elected to lead this nation.

Does this mean it's better to not participate? That's not the point I'm making at all. The right or the wrong would not be in voting or not voting. The wrong would be to announce one vote as Christian and another as not. Someone has said it better than can I when he said, "Nowhere in the NT is there even a hint of a command for us to participate in the human political election processes, nor do we find it a forbidden activity either."

It is obvious to me that this quote isn't saying it's evil to vote or not to vote. What it's saying is each believer is free as a citizen of both countries [heaven and earth] to use his or her judgment in such matters as they live their lives under their particular form of national government, the Constitution of the USA for us, following their National and State elected leaders in some matters and under the guidance of the New Covenant principles for life and relationships in all matters.

It is also true that any vote a believer ever casts is to be done as an act of faith or it is sin. This is no matter what candidate one votes for. Romans 14 clearly points this out. So to vote for a person out of fear or anger or judgment [condemnation] or any other reason, except faith, puts us in jeopardy of missing God in it.

So, for whom am I voting in 2016? I don't know yet. But whatever my choice as a citizen of America, my confidence is not in that person or that party or those promises made.

What would Jesus do? He's already done the work of the Cross and has left us [believers] with that message which far transcends any geopolitical message or situation and is needed by every person of every nation and is to be our greatest concern and must never be mixed with or confused with any political party. Let me say it clearly for myself at least.

God isn't white or black! God isn't a Democrat, Republican or Independent!

God isn't even an American!

Paul B.