"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

West Virginia Miners and the International Mission Board

Driving home from Oklahoma City last night, listening to satellite radio, I heard the families of he twelve missing miners singing "How Great Thou Art" on the steps of the Sago Baptist Church, Sago, West Virginia. The families sang this great hymn from the bottom of their hearts because they had just heard reports from the command post that twelve of the thirteen miners had been found alive.

My heart skipped a beat this morning as I heard the television reports that all but one miner had actually died in the mining explosion. I later read on MSN that a fight broke out in the Sago Baptist church as some of those same families members who previously sang to God "How Great Thou Art" sought to attack the mining officials who were reporting that the miners, contrary to initial reports, had actually died.

My mind wandered for just a minutes as I asked myself this question.

Had God lost His greatness in just a few hours?

This is by no means a negative reflection on the families in W.V. that lost loved ones. Those of us who have experienced tragedy recognize that the last thing on a person's mind when they receive mind-numbing news is to sing a hymn. But the West Virginia story is an illustration to us all of how quickly harmony in a church can turn to ugly fighting when we lose our God-centered view of the world.

Is it possible to remember and acknowledge that God is always great and good even if things don't go the way we want? I think it is, because He is.

The lesson for those of us who are wrestling with the future direction of the IMB and the SBC is clear.

Many of us are able to sing from our hearts "How Great Thou Art" when the SBC is filled with leadership who coooperates with all Southern Baptists, when the SBC is focused on reaching the world for Christ with a theology that is both Christ-exalting and biblical, and when people are more passionate about reaching people than playing politics, and when there is a true sense of brotherhood and unity among all of us in the SBC.

BUT WE ALSO OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO SING "How Great Thou Art" when . . .

The SBC is ruled by an oligarchy, the tendency is toward isolationism and exclusion, people play politics more than they passionately pursue lost souls, and we are attacked personally and viciously by people who think we should be quiet.

We must remember, God does not change. He is always great, and He is always good.

On the reverse side, I am sure there are some who read this blog and are very upset that the delicate balance of quiet control of the board of the IMB has been turned upside down. I'm sure that those who have enjoyed the direction of the board the last two years are not real happy with what has happened the last six months. Though I have received tremendous support from many people who have read this blog, there are other people, more than likely, that are very angry with me. Things are not going the way they would like.

Keeping our vision God-centered in everything helps us weather the tough days when things don't go our way.


In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

3 comments:

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade Burleson: "Had God lost His greatness in just a few hours?"

We know He hasn't, but my how sometimes our view of His greatness fluctuates with our circumstances. I would not be critical of the folks in Sago, for "but there for the grace of God go I." But may I - may we all - by His grace learn to be like Job, when hit with more circumstances in one day than most have ever known in a lifetime, said, "the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

May God bless these folks, especially the families of these miners and the one who is still alive.

'Thought & Humor' said...

.
If I could speak in any
language in heaven or
on earth but didn't love
others, I would only be
making meaningless noise
like a loud gong or a
clanging cymbal. If I
had the gift of prophecy,
and if I knew all the
mysteries of the future
and knew everything
about everything, but
didn't love others, what
good would I be? And
if I had the gift of faith
so that I could speak
to a mountain and make
it move, without love
I would be no good to
anybody. If I gave
everything I have to
the poor and even
sacrificed my body,
I could boast about it;
but if I didn't love others,
I would be of no value
whatsoever. Love is
patient and kind. Love
is not jealous or boastful
or proud or rude. Love
does not demand its
own way. Love is not
irritable, and it keeps
no record of when it
has been wronged.
It is never glad about
injustice but rejoices
whenever the truth
wins out. Love never
gives up, never loses
faith, is always hopeful,
and endures through
every circumstance.

May You Always
Experience This
Kind Of Love,
Dr. Howdy

francie said...

Mr. Burleson,

you don't me - but I am a bi-vocational - volunteer campus minister in Pa - I've enjoyed reading your blog - thank you for being willing to speak your heart even in the face of ridicule -- I too thought similar things this morning - my prayer is that just as Mr. Vaughn stated - the WV families will see God's hand despite the circumstances

but you make a good point - we need to be willing to see God's greatness in every and all situtions - we need to put into practice what Paul so prassionaly emphasised in Philp. 4 - to not be anxious but to go to our knees in prayer - that's where we fight the best - that's what will bring harmony, that's how truth will be revealed - when we interceed for those in authority as well as for those in minority

Sorry for rambling - thank you again for your boldness

In His Grip,
Francie