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

Just Exactly What Is The Good News?

The word gospel in English comes from two words "good" and "spell" that have been abbreviated into one word. "Spell" is an ancient word from the Latin that is carried over into our English in words like "spelling" or "spellbinder" etc . . . It has to do basically with letters of the alphabet or the composition of those letters into words to form a story or to record the news. So good spell means "good news" and those two words abbreviated form gospel which means "good news."

I am amazed at the number of Christians who forget that the gospel is something you tell, not something you do. A quick test: Think of the gospel as you know it --- now tell it without asking anyone to "do" anything. Can you?

I am afraid that the good news for many evangelicals has been tainted. An evangelist is a reporter of the good news, not a producer of the good news. You can't add or subtract from the good news --- all you can do is proclaim it.

Just exactly what is the good news?

I propose that the good news, the gospel itself, is the ATONEMENT of Jesus Christ.

The word "atonement" is used many times in the Old Testament but only once in the New Testament: in Romans 5:11 -- that is, in the King James Version. It is a theological word with a rather unusual etymology.

Most of the terms or words used to describe Scriptural doctrines in the English language are words which have been derived either from the Greek or from the Latin. But that is not true for the word "atonement." It was invented by English or Anglo-Saxon translators of the Bible to translate the Greek (katallege) and Hebrew (kaphar) words that have no English equivalent.

In English "atonement" is a noun formed by two small words: "at" and "one." The word "atonement" suggests, therefore, a making one out of that which had been divided, or a dwelling together of two people once at odds.

One of the basic ideas of the Hebrew and Greek words for "atonement" is that of covering. The atonement is that which covers or hides. "Atonement" represents a debt which is paid, and thus "covered." One might illustrate this idea by speaking of a debt at a bank. If a person is unable to make payment on the debt which he owes to the bank, and if a friend volunteers to pay this debt for him, then that debt is covered and the man is free from all obligation. Such is the idea of atonement.

The word "atonement" as a theological term treats the relationship which exists between God and man.

The word suggests, in the first place, that there is a unity or oneness between God and man -- an "at-one-ment" because of the person and work of Christ.

Secondly, however, the word implies that there once was something which divided God and man. That something was the sin of man in which he walked in rebellion against God.

Thirdly, atonement points to the way God found to unite Himself to sinful man, by means of a payment which removes the guilt of sin.

Finally, there is implied in the word "atonement" a consciousness within a person that the evil which formerly divided has now been removed.

The good news is simply the death of Christ on behalf of sinners.

In our modern day we can talk about religion, love for God, the love of God, and all other subjects without persecution, but once you start proclaiming the good news the demons of hell are unleashed.

My prayer is that evangelical Christians, including Southern Baptists, will not fall into the trap of emphasizing man made rituals or traditions, and will stay focused on our job of reporting the good news --- it is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe.

In His Grace,


Wade

An Update on REFUGE at Emmanuel

We have just completed a month of Saturday night worship services entitled REFUGE 7:1. Several of you have mentioned you have been praying for our REFUGE service and I promised an update on how things are going, so this post is dedicated to REFUGE and giving you some information regarding the service.



I am a little out of my element teaching in casual attire while sitting on a stool, but all will be thrilled to know I received a modern hair cut to go with the new image for Saturday night :).



The dress is casual. Our goal is to minister to youth, younger couples, singles and others who enjoy contemporary worship and praise and and a sense of community at church. We have been surprised at the age range of those who are attending REFUGE, and feel our community is all the better for the broad range of people who have turned out.



One of the things I have always believed is that when a church combines meaningful, personal praise and worship with the systematic teaching of God's Word, the lives of God's people are transformed. Our charismatic brethren have had powerful worship, but have fallen short on the exposition of the Word of God. I believe it is possible for a church to teach exegetically the Scriptures while at the same time enjoy the powerful movement of the Spirit of God in worship.



If you are ever in Enid America on a Saturday night, we'd love to see you at REFUGE.

Next Saturday night I'll begin a series entitled "A Rose By Any Other Name" where I will take Shakespeare's sonnet and show from the Word of God some of the names God gives to His children, and though you may not feel like a saint, or a soldier, or an heir, or a child of God, it does not negate the fact you are one by the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

When An Attack Is Different from the Truth

I have prayerfully considered whether or not to post what I am about to write, but events of the last two days have led me to the belief that it is necessary. I have claimed that there were outside influences at work within the International Mission Board these past few years that have hindered the IMB President and staff from implementing their vision to fulfill the mandate to be the missionary arm of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.

I have details regarding these outside influences that I have kept private for several months, following at every turn the instructions of trustee leadership to resolve the problem, and when those doors closed, I presented a motion to the SBC. The longer time goes by I see that certain trustees (by no means all, and in fact, it is a DECREASING number) will do everything in their power to discredit me.

One of the attempts to discredit me is a repeated effort by former Chairman Tom Hatley to say I am violating confidentiality and putting missionaries "in harm's way" and thus, I should not be in on "confidential trustee meetings." See the Article in the Florida Witness. I find this charge ludicrous and absurd, but consistent with the pattern of certain leaders making allegations against me without providing one iota of evidence, but simply saying to the Board, "Trust us."

There has not been ONE post removed from this blog since its beginning in December. I challenge anyone to find one sentence that puts missionaries in harm's way or in any way violates IMB confidentiality.

A Real Violation of Confidentiality and a Breach of Christian Ethics

Dr. Curtis Sergeant is the Missions Pastor for Saddleback Community Church, the largest Southern Baptist Church in our Convention. Before Dr. Sergeant took his position with Saddleback he served as an Associate Vice President for the International Mission Board, resigning in 2004.

Dr. Sergeant loves the IMB and believes our potential is unlimited. However, he faced intense opposition from a missions professor at one of our Seminaries and a President from another of our Southern Baptist Seminaries. These two joined forces with a small group of trustees in an orchestrated attempt to find "heresy" in the teaching of Dr. Curtis Sergeant regarding the gifts, ecclesiology and women in ministry. Seminary students being trained under Dr. Sergeant in the 2 + 2 Program were told to write down what they heard taught, to forward it to their seminary professor, and he would deal with it. The way the professor dealt with it was to provide the information to trustees, one of whom then, according to Dr. Sergeant, very accusingly and angrily, confronted Dr. Sergeant. It would seem that for all our talk of folowing Matthew 18, we are teaching our students just the opposite.

Nevertheless, Dr. Sergeant spent valuable time going back through the video tape sessions to "prove" he was not a heretic, time that should have been spent focusing on missions.

But the coup de'Etat was what happened next.

Dr. Sergeant had written his dissertation, but due to the sensitive nature of what he had written, he signed a covenant with the Seminary that his dissertation be restricted. In other words, nobody could obtain a copy of his dissertation without his explicit approval. In the appendix there were statements that would compromise the identity and work of many of our most successful missionaries in a very dangerous part of the world.

That dissertation was obtained by the Seminary President's direct order, against the wishes of Dr. Sergeant, but more importantly CONTRARY TO HIS KNOWLEDGE, and copies were made and distributed in order for people to find "charismatic and ecclesiological heresy." This act ignored a legal contract, became a breach of Christian ethics, and was a very substantive violation of professional confidentiality.

All in the name of purifying the IMB.

Soon afterwards the process for the new policies on tongues and baptism began its journey down the trustee pipeline. Most people know the rest of the story.

This is just one example of a multitude of stories that could be told. I only tell this one because I have explicit permission from Dr. Sergeant and it helps clarify that if you have an allegation of a breach of confidentiality, you better be prepared to prove it. Otherwise, it is simply an unwarranted attack to discredit a brother.

Personal Character Attacks Are Attempts to Confuse the Issue

For too long there has been a culture in the Southern Baptist Convention that if you did not agree with a certain interpretation of Scripture then you were not a "true" Southern Baptist. I have attempted to prevent the IMB from sliding down the slippery slope of a narrow, isolated view of the Word of God that excludes conservative evangelicals who disagree over interprations of the sacred text on minor doctrines from participating in missions.

This struggle for the soul of the Southern Baptist Convention is not for the weak of heart.

All I ask from you is simply this: Listen carefully to what is being said. The issues before us are important for they will help establish the course of the Southern Baptist Convention for decades to come.


The Chairman and Instructions to Wade Burleson


In the same article in which Dr. Hatley says I put missionaries in harm's way, Dr. Floyd says "Burleson has already been instructed on what needs to be done for him to have a productive input in relationship with the board of trustees and the ball’s in his court as to what he wants to do."

The instruction I have been given is to apologize to the Board for the "content" of my blog.

I told Dr. Floyd that since I was prepared to defend every last word I have written, and since I have refused to apologize for the content of my blog from the beginning, and since the recommendation for my removal was unanimously rescinded WITHOUT an apology from me, then why in the world would I apologize now?

I have assured Dr. Floyd that I will continue to build relationships with my fellow trustees, sharing breakfast and dinner with them, seeking to learn about their ministries and their families, and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt regarding the past.

However, I will do everything in my power to ensure that the IMB administration and missionaries, whoever they may be, are free to fulfill the mission for which we hired them, free from outside influence.

In His Grace,


Wade

The Tension Between Missions Success and the Military Killing the Terrorists

The Associated Press reports that Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader issued a worldwide call Thursday for Muslims to rise up in a holy war against Israel and join the fighting in Lebanon and Gaza until Islam reigns from "Spain to Iraq."

In a taped message broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, Ayman al-Zawahri said the terrorist organization would not stand idly by while "these (Israelis) shells burn our brothers.

"All the world is a battlefield open in front of us," said the Egyptian-born al-Zawahri, second-in-command to Osama bin Laden.

"The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires ... . It is a Jihad for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere."

"My fellow Muslims, it is obvious that Arab and Islamic governments are not only impotent but also complicit...and you are alone on the battlefield. Rely on God and fight your enemies...make yourselves martyrs."

I really struggle when I hear such rhetoric and murderous words coming from the mouth of people like Zawahris. Here is my internal conflict: On the one hand I believe we as Christian people should do all we can to change the hearts of people like Zawharis through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But on the other hand, I hear Zawahris and I feel that such radical Islamic terrorism can only be dealt with militarily, and the thought of U.S forces killing Zawahris and then systematically destroying every last remnant of Islamic fanaticism is not an unpleasant thought to me. That is what bothers me. It bothers me that I am not bothered by the death of by the Islamic fantatics. I wonder if we in the Christian West are in danger of becoming just like the Muslims in the East.

Does anybody else struggle with the inner feeling of desiring the softening of the heart of Zawahris through the power of Jesus Christ, but at the same time feel pleasure when one hears that Zawahris and his cohorts are wiped out by American, Israeli or European military forces?

I wonder about the fact that we cheer the loudest at the Southern Baptist Convention when a strong, militaristic statement by our Secretary of State is made such as, "We will hunt down and destroy every single terrorist earth until peace reigns on earth" when it seems we ought to cheer the loudest when we hear statements like, "We will take the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, tribe, and kindred, and will not rest until Christ reigns in the hearts of mankind."

Please don't misunderstand. I believe we must fight terrorism militarily.

I am just wondering if we as Southern Baptists are in danger of being more passionate about military conquest than we are gospel conquest.

Life is not simple for us at this moment in time.

In His Grace,


Wade
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Setting the Record Straight --- Again

I continue to marvel at inaccurate and misleading statements made in the press by a one of my fellow trustees, former Chairman Tom Hatley. You would think that he would learn to stop making ludricous allegations against me. However, his actions only reinforce my determination to maintain this blog on a consisistent basis. I will continue to be positive and encouraging in all my comments about my fellow trustees, but I will not let false statements go unchallenged.

According to an article in the Florida Witness:

"Hatley said his primary concern about Burleson’s attendance at the trustee forums has been driven by concerns for the security of IMB workers worldwide." .

The whole purpose of the forum is so we can talk about places where we have to keep our missionary stuff secret and if you put that on blog sites, you can’t be a trustee in those meetings,” Hatley said. He believes other SBC boards do not have forums because they are not dealing with sensitive information that has mostly to do with the work of missionary personnel and the high security threats the IMB deals with".

My Response: That is utterly ridiculous. I know what can, and can't go on my blog, and there is absolutely not one instance of anything appearing on my blog that either violated confidentiality or put a missionary in harm's way.

The truth is that I will not let leadership violate policy or trustee guidelines by conducting business in forum --- an act that is contrary to our own bylaws and guidelines. All our business should be done before the eyes of the Southern Baptist Convention. Period.

And further, it is both ungodly and a lack of integrity to slam a Christian brother behind closed doors with baseless charges, asking people to "trust us" with supportive evidence, and then be unable to produce that evidence. Whether that kind of action takes place against an administrator, missionary, or fellow trustee, it should never happen.

Thank God forums are now back to prayer meetings and praise reports. That is the way it should have been the last few years.

IT GETS WORSE

“He came seeing if we would throw him out,” Hatley said.We didn’t. As it turned out there was nothing of that high security nature and I’m sure our chairman didn’t feel like it was worth the controversy.”

My Response: Again, that comment is absurd. I did not come to the Forum "to see if I would be thrown out." My fellow trustees and I have much more dignity than Mr. Hatley gives us credit in having. I began a new sermon series in my church the Sunday night before the IMB. I could not catch a plane to Richmond until Monday morning. I did not initially think I could make it to Rockville in time for the Forum, but my plane landed early. Mr. Hatley's comment is over the top. I will be at every Forum and every Exececutive Session during my tenure as a trustee.

SAY WHAT?

"It’s true," Hatley told the Witness, that trustee Wade Burleson from Oklahoma presented some motions of concern at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C., in June. “But that’s just one person,” Hatley said, “that’s just the orchestration of two or three people in this convention"

My Response: Tom, the entire convention voted on my motion and requested a report be presented in San Antonio regarding the five concerns in the motion. I am looking forward to the investigation into these manners, trusting it will be conducted by an independent panel, and I will particpate fully in the process as requested by the panel. I would urge you to read the recommendation again. It is not the orchestration of one or two individuals, but a motion approved by a majority of the messengers at the convention.

Well, I think that sets the record straight. I look forward to continuing to work with all the trustees of the IMB, but I will not let misinformation and untruth, told to the press, go unchallenged.

Let's get on with the work of missions --- the very reason for which we were appointed.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

Are Blogs the Friend of Information but the Enemy of Thought?

Recently Alan Jacobs, professor of English at Wheaton College, wrote an explanation on why he decided to quit blogging. Dr. Jacobs is not a person to be taken lightly. He is the author of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, and one of our better thinkers among conservative, evangelical Christians. He believes the blogosphere, by the very way it is structured, is "a friend of information but the enemy of thought." I found his explanation of this thesis quite interesting:

"As I think about these architectural deficiencies (of the blogosphere), and the deficiencies of my own character, I find myself meditating on a passage from a book by C. S. Lewis. In his great work of literary history, Poetry and Prose in the Sixteenth Century, Lewis devotes a passage to what he describes, with a certain savageness, as "that whole tragic farce which we call the history of the Reformation." For Lewis, the issues that divided Catholics and Protestants, that led to bloodshed all over Europe and to a seemingly permanent division of Christians from one another, "could have been fruitfully debated only between mature and saintly disputants in close privacy and at boundless leisure." Instead, thanks to the prevalence of that recent invention the printing press, and to the intolerance of many of the combatants, deep and subtle questions found their way into the popular press and were immediately transformed into caricatures and cheap slogans. After that there was no hope of peaceful reconciliation.

On a smaller scale, the same problems afflict the intellectual and moral environments of the blogs. There is no privacy: all conversations are utterly public. The arrogant, the ignorant, and the bullheaded constantly threaten to drown out the saintly, and for that matter the merely knowledgeable, or at least overwhelm them with sheer numbers. And the architecture of the blog (and its associated technologies like rss), with its constant emphasis on novelty, militates against leisurely conversations. It is no insult to the recent, but already cherished, institution of the blogosphere to say that blogs cannot do everything well. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the blogosphere is the friend of information but the enemy of thought."


What are you thoughts? (By way of information :) ).

In His Grace,


Wade

Why Argue With Brothers When The Real Battle Is For the Gospel?

Though this story is several years old, I thought it a good reminder to us all that the gospel is what unites us as Southern Baptists, and it is the gospel that causes others to get angry with us. It would be wonderful if we joined together for the sake of the gospel and kept the main thing the main thing. The following is from Chick Publications:

"A series of booklets issued by the Southern Baptist Convention has drawn unprecedented reaction from the liberal media, mainline religious leaders and members of congress. The booklets are issued as prayer guides urging Southern Baptists to pray for and reach out to non-Christians such as Jews, Muslims and Hindus.

The booklets use the customary evangelism language pointing out that Hindus are "lost in the hopeless darkness of Hinduism" and calls for Christians to bring them to the light of Christ.

Reactions have been surprisingly strong and from unexpected quarters. Major Jewish organizations, Liberal Christian groups, and U.S. Hindu leaders accused the Baptists of "spiritual intolerance" and "theological genocide."

The Washington Post claimed that the SBC was launching "a new, aggressive campaign aimed at converting Jews to Christianity."

A spokesman for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League accused the Southern Baptists of "A spiritual narrowness that invites theological hatred."

"It is pure arrogance for any religion to assume that they hold 'the truth,'" he added. "It is permissible for any religion to claim truth but none can claim 'the truth.'"

Taking up the cause of the Hindus, a U.S. congressman, Jim McDermott, wrote a "dear colleague" letter on official congressional stationery to all 434 fellow congressmen asking their help in urging Southern Baptists to "end your conversion campaign directed to members of the Hindu faith."

McDermott and six other congressmen followed up with a letter to Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee. "We cannot understand how men and women, raised and educated in the world's bastion of religious freedom and tolerance can characterize another religion as spiritually dark and false," they wrote.

Chapman responded, pointing out that using a government office to pressure Christians to stop obeying the great commission was "improper and reprehensible." "Your letter presents us with a real dilemma," he wrote. "Do we attempt to obey God, or do we take our signals...from persons such as you who counsel 'a more tolerant and enlightened' approach?"

On another front the SBC is also being accused by Chicago religious leaders of contributing to a "climate conducive to hate crimes" by calling for a large evangelistic campaign there next summer.

As America becomes increasingly "post Christian," the gospel becomes an offense and preaching Christ gets labeled as a "hate crime." But Christians have been there before. When Peter and John were commanded by the "religious leaders" in Jerusalem not to preach Christ they could only respond: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye."

Soul winners, the shadows are lengthening. We have much work to do while it is day for the night is coming."

In His Grace,


Wade

Every Problem Is Not To Be Disputed

Aristotle once wrote "Every problem and proposition is not to be disputed; they that doubt whether God is to be worshipped, and parents loved, are to be punished, and not disputed with." (Topic 1. 1. c. 9.)

The philosophy of Aristotle is not infallible, but there is something to be said of not wasting one's time or energy in disputing the very existance of God or the responsibility to love one's parents. These natural truths are foundational to civilized living.

On the other hand, Paul says to young Timothy "avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain" (Titus 3:9). There are some things that are so trivial, even in the Christian faith, that we ought not waste our time in disagreement and burn our energy and zeal in seeking to convince each other of the "correctness" of our position.

It would seem to me that the wise person will be able to know what truth is so essential that any dispute over it means immediate disfellowship, and likewise, what truth is so trivial that any dispute over it is a waste of time and even unprofitable for brethren to debate.

If we ignore Aristotle's wisdom, we will eventually tolerate a denial of the Christian faith, but if we deny Paul's wisdom we will fold under the intense weight of zealotry and radicalism built upon the traditions of men.

God save our Convention from both.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

If You Can't Stand the Heat . . .

Harry Truman had several famous, homespun quotes, including "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." He once said this was a folksy way of saying "Don’t take on a job if you are unwilling to face its pressures."

Months ago I began this blog as a way to voice my concern over the direction we were moving as a Southern Baptist Convention, where we easily proclaim our belief in the "innerrant" Bible, but seemed to not believe that the Bible was sufficient for all our faith and practice, and as a result, we were becoming guilty of ADDING to God's Word and demanding conformity and agreement from everyone in the Southern Baptist Convention regarding extra-Biblical traditions and beliefs.

Since beginning this blog in an attempt emphasize the sufficiency of Scripture for all our faith and practice I have been called just about everything imaginable from a gossip, a slanderer, a person who is resistant to accountability, untrustworthy, arrogant, self-centered, a lover of attention, a publicity hound, self-seeking, a power grabber, and a few other choice things --- and this from my fellow Southern Baptists.

There are some who seem to take delight in questioning everything about me --- my motives , every word I write, and even my character by commenting on my spirit and demeanor without ever having even personally met me!

All this to say.

I should expect nothing less.

If I am going to write statements and place them in the public arena, I should expect people to challenge me, criticize me, mock me, ridicule me, scold me, threaten me, and seek to discredit me.

Someone might say, "But you shouldn't expect that from 'Christian people" should you?"

In my experience, Southern Baptists can sometimes be the most vicious in their attacks because everything is couched in spiritual lingo and a syrupy sentimatility, all the while invoking God's name in an attempt to destroy the character of the 'brother.' Maybe it is a shame, but it is often a reality.

It comes with the territory.

As President Truman said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

In His Grace,


Wade

Punching Holes in the Darkness

When I was in Richmond this week I stopped by the First Baptist Church to tour the facilities and take a gander at the famous bell in the courtyard. I am a civil war buff, and the tour given Rachelle and me by the gracious Senior Pastor's secretary was very enjoyable. At the conclusion of our walk around the church we ran into Dr. Peter James Flamming, the Senior Pastor of FBC Richmond for the past quarter century. Dr. Flamming gave me a book that contains twelve messages he preached at FBC Richmond. The first message was a very enjoyable read entitled "Punching Holes in the Darkness."

Without going into detail regarding the message, the theme revolved "the beautiful feet of those who share good news" from the book of Isaiah. Dr. Flamming's challenge to his congregation was that they be people who make it a priority to share good news, and in so doing, punch a hole in the darkness around them.

In line with that theme, I would like to use this weekend for commentators on this blog to share some good news about the International Mission Board, whether it be the trustees, administrators, missionaries, support staff, or anecdotal stories about the great things being accomplished by the IMB.

Some have alleged blogs are mostly negative. Though I disagree, I would like to be very intentional in doing my part to get the word out about the good things regarding the IMB.

Come, let's punch some holes together.

In His Grace,



Wade

The Problem Is Too Little Communication, Not Too Much

We are living in an age of instant communication, and a growing ability for secure communication. In this age of information I believe an important challenge we face at the International Mission Board can be summarized in one little phrase --- too little communication.

I do not speak in an official capacity in this post, only as one person with an opinion.

Let me give some examples of too little communication:

(1). In an organization as large as the International Mission Board it would be helpful for every department in Richmond to obtain daily, secure information on major decisions from other departments. The sense of teamwork among the major divisions of the IMB can only be enhanced by MORE communication, not less. This will require an initial investment for design and implementation, but the longterm benefits would seem to me to far outweigh the cost.

(2). Important reports presented during the public sessions of the International Mission Board trustee meetings could be made available immediately to the public at large through either internet pod casts or the posting of the transcript of those reprorts. Waiting three months for the official minutes to be produced allows either misinformation or miscommunication to foster for too long.

For instance, the Chairman's report during our last Plenary Session this past Tuesday, as I heard it, gave two less than favorable opinions on two different matters:

First, the Chairman, according to my understanding and several others who were in the room, seemed to indicate blogs were lowering the morale of missionaries. From the perspective of those I visit with, blogs have only energized, motivated and compelled missionaries and average Southern Baptists to be informed and involved. However, if I and others misunderstood Dr. Floyd, it would be helpful for his report to be made available immediately in order for us to be corrected in our misunderstanding.

Second, the Chairman also seemed to indicate that his major concern with the work of the International Mission Board was the sending out of missionaries into the field without adequate training. This concern of Dr. Floyd, I believe, is without basis or merit, but for Dr. Floyd to convince me and others that this is a truly a legitimate problem, he will need to communicate MORE with evidence that the training of our missionaries is inadequate.

Frankly, there is a report coming to our Board at our next meeting from a subcommittee that has investigated training of missionaries at the ILC and I will be VERY surprised if it says anything other than the IMB is superior in missionary training. Maybe the Chairman is referring to inadequate "seminary" training, but since I don't know for sure, I again reiterate that what is needed is MORE communication.

(3). As a trustee I asked at my first meeting, over a year ago, for anecdotal evidence that the new policies were needed in order to combat charismatic problems on the field, or inappropriate baptisms on the field. I never received an answer to my question. I believe that had there been an attempt to answer my question with straightforward, clear communication when I initially asked the question, then much of what happened last year could have been avoided.

However, my question was only finally answered THIS week, one year after I initially asked it --- and I was told that there is no anecdoctal evidence of IMB staff not dealing appropriately with charismatic problems on the field, or unbiblical baptisms taking place on the field, that would support the need for the new policies. I really appreciated the honesty in answering my question by the Chairman of the Committee that dealt with the policies, and now I know that the policies were pushed not because of any anecdotal evidence of problems on the field not handled properly by the IMB administration, but because of a particular doctrinal mindset within the Board (in other words --- "this is what we believe the Scripture to teach").

Again, if that information had been communicated to me early last year we could have moved on to other issues, but there was too little communication, not too much.

(4). There is a new trustee subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Corbaley, that was appointed this week in order to research our mission work around the world and focus in on any problems we might be facing. It was said during our plenary session that this committee will be interviewing field personnel, administrators, trustees, seminary presidents, missions professors, and others (as listed by Overseas Chairman Chuck McAlister).

My concern at the outset for this committee is one of TOO LITTLE communication, not too much. Do trustees know enough about field conditions to determine if something is actually a problem? Do seminaries know enough about the admistration of the IMB to determine there is actually trouble that needs to be addressed? In other words, I'm not saying this research is a bad idea, but frankly, unless there is a WEALTH of communication between all the people involved, too often preconcieved ideas and alternate agendas can sidetrack the important work of the Board.

In Summary:

I think the real problem we face as a Board is not too much communication with each other, but TOO LITTLE communication.

Lord willing, that will change.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

Testimonies, Tributes and Training

In an alliterated outline worthy of Sunday morning I will give you a brief report of today's events.

Testimonies

The day began with my wife attending a breakfast hosted by Mrs. Rankin for trustee spouses in honor of emeritus missionaries. She enjoyed visiting with several of the retired missionaries around the table and made several new friends.

When I picked her up from the breakfast I met one of the missionaries with whom she had been visiting. He had served as a missionary in Rome, Italy for many years, and about ten years ago, home on furlough, his wife had just finished giving a report in one of our SBC churches when she sat down in the pew and suffered a fatal heart attack. This man's soft heart, desire to return to the field, and dedication to his call to missions was really an inspiration to me.

Joni, from the Florida Baptist Witness, was the only state reporter at the IMB meeting today. She and I talked about how beneficial it would be if every Southern Baptist could experience a day at the International Learning Center meeting the missionaries in training and visiting with the retired missionaries who are periodically on the campus for various events. It would only increase giving and participation in the mission endeavors of the SBC.

During the Plenary Session this afternoon we heard several testimonies from administration and staff. Two of the most vivid were those from the Richmond Associates in Africa and South America as they shared some wonderful stories of how God used our missionaries to bring people to faith in Christ in unique ways. In addition, we received an update on our Disaster and Hunger Relief Funds. Southern Baptists gave 16.8 million dollars to help the nations that suffered through last year's tsunami. I continue to be amazed at all that the IMB has been able to accomplish through the generosity of our Southern Baptist people.

We also heard from David Steverson, the IMB's chief financial officer that we are surpassing last year's pace in Cooperative Program receipts, and of course, we received a record amount in the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

In short, the testimonies today hit a home run.

Tributes

Two ladies with the International Mission Board received very appropriate tributes from the Board of Trustees.

First, Nellie Walters is retiring from the President's office of the IMB this summer. She has served the President of the IMB for several decades, and she is the person who is most responsible for putting together our six trustee meetings a year.

Nellie has always had a smile on her face and a very sweet spirit. We all are going to miss her, and tonight we had a banquet in her honor and gave her a couple of special gifts to enjoy.

The second lady honored today, in more of an unofficial manner, was Wendy Norvelle, the acting interim Vice-President for Mobilization. Ken Winter has been hired as the Vice-President for Mobilization, and Wendy will relinquish those duties to Ken, but I think it can be safely said Wendy has done a phenominal job. She is one of the most gifted ladies in the Southern Baptist Convention, and we are fortunate to have her on staff at the IMB. She will continue in her role with Public Relations for the IMB. One of these days I will tell a story regarding Wendy that will give evidence of her tremendous Christian character, genuine humility, and desire to honor God in everything she does.

Training

Tom Elliff reported that the missionaries he has been training these last two days are a wonderful group of men and women that will soon be on the field. The goal of the IMB is to reach every people group, tribe and language in the world, and the Lord keeps sending the IMB some wonderful people who represent us on the front lines.

Seventeen new trustees have joined the IMB. Thirteen are present this week going through the orientation training. I met several of them and they seem to be a great group of men and women.

Tomorrow

Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention will be speaking to the IMB staff and all the trustees at Richmond headquarters at 8:30 a.m. in the morning. There is no additional trustee business that needs to take place tomorrow, but there will be a commissioning service tomorrow afternoon at the ILC. I need to be back in Enid, Oklahoma by tomorrow night, so I will be unable to stay for the service.

Thoughts

Overall the trustee meeting this week was one of the better ones I've attended. The spirit was good, and the focus was on missions. We did not seem to get sidetracked on peripheral issues. There are a few items of interest.

(1). The panel being appointed by Chairman Floyd to investigate the concerns referred to the IMB by the Southern Baptist Convention will be made known to the trustees via mail, unless the Chairman chooses to reveal the names of the members of the committee tomorrow.

Comment -- I am very glad this panel will not take up time at Board meetings. They will function outside our regular meetings.

(2). Blogging was again mentioned in the Chairman's report, with a statement being made to the effect (summarizing) that blogging lowered the morale of missionaries on the field.

Comment --- The Chairman must talk to different missionaries than I do.

(3). A subcommittee, chaired by Jerry Corbaley, comprised of trustees from the Overseas Committee, was approved to research our missions operations overseas operations through the gathering of information from field personnel, seminary presidents, theologians, administrators , and others to establish a system whereby trustees can be continually updated with the progress and success, and in some instances problems associated with, our missionary work around the world.

Comment --- I think our IMB staff and administration has a very good handle on what is needed on the field, and the problems we face, and have displayed an uncanny ability to change tactics, adapt methodology, and alter focus as needed. This subcommittee should rely heavily on our administration as it conducts its work. We must be careful that we know the boundaries of our work as trustees. I'm not sure we are the best people to determine the indigenous success or failure of our missionary personnel on the field. We hire professional missiologists to do that work, and I think we can trust their assessments. Maybe that is exactly what this committee will determine in its report to the Board.

Overall, the IMB is on the right track. It's a good start on a new year.


In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

An Anniversary and a Fresh Start at the International Mission Board

The International Mission Board meeting yesterday (Monday) marked the one year anniversary of the beginning of my service on the Board as one of the eighty nine trustees. This past year has not been easy for me personally, and for that matter, the Board as a whole, but I was encouraged by the Trustee meeting Monday.

Rachelle and I left Enid at 5:00 a.m. and caught a United flight to Richmond via Chicago, arriving in the capital of Virginia around 2:15 p.m. local time. We had just enough time to check in to the hotel where Rachelle freshened up and I made my way to the International Learning Center for the Forum.

The Forum

The Forum is an opportunity for trustees to share in a confidential setting their concerns, prayer requests, and ask questions without any non-Board members present, including media. The Forum, by policy, is not to be a place where business is conducted, and though I can't talk about what was said, I was impressed with the prayerful spirit of the meeting, the encouraging reports from individual trustees regarding their own personal mission work, and the general rapport of the all trustees present.

Rachelle and I joined the trustees and several retired missionaries in the cafeteria of the ILC for the second annual prayer dinner. We had some great fellowship with my good friends Rick Thompson from Oklahoma, Thurman Hayes from Virginia, and some new friends who served for many years in Chile with my uncle and aunt as missionaries in Chile.

It was very sweet to hear the retired missionary at our table pray for the country where she served for many years and tear up as she spoke of a desire to continue to be used by God to reach the people there. It reminded me again that we have some wonderful people who have served, and are serving, as missionaries for the SBC.

The ILC

The International Learning Center for Southern Baptist missionaries is a highly functional facility in a beautiful setting about thirty minutes from IMB headquarters in Richmond.

The trustees of the IMB meet at the ILC for the July trustee meeting and I always enjoy meeting missionaries in training and seeing their kids in the cafeteria and playing on the grounds. These kids will soon be on the field with their parents in some of the far reaches of the world. Their parents will receive little public attention, but will be on the front lines of expanding the kingdom of Christ.

Dr. John Floyd, Chairman

I would like to commend Dr. Floyd for his leadership today. After dinner John and I met privately with a couple of IMB administrators and John allowed me to share my heart and he listened well, and he shared his heart, and I believe I listened to him as well as he did me.

Abiding by rules my for blogging I cannot share with you the details of our conversation, but I can say that I sent to John an email this past Sunday, which I gave him permission to share with the Executive Committee, that in essence said three things:

(1). I regret the hurt that my blog has caused some of my fellow trustees, and it is my desire to seek to restore and reconcile with any trustee who feels offended by my blog.

(2). I will not be bringing up anything from the past, but will allow the independent panel of trustees appointed by Dr. Floyd to address the concerns in the SBC motion, and to produce recommendations, if any, to the Board as a whole, and ultimately report on their actions to the SBC.

(3). Though I will be attending Forums and Executive Sessions as I did today, I will abide by the decision of the Chairman regarding my appointment, or lack thereof, to any subcommittee of the IMB. I have maintained for the past six months that every thing I have written on my blog has been intentional and ultimately beneficial. I have always sought to abide by the written policies of the IMB, and though some disagree with the beneficial assessment of my blog, I cannot apologize for things I have written or placed in my blog if I believe them to be necessary.

Give the Board a Chance to Operate

In closing out the summary of this first day I would like to make a couple of requests to my on line friends and fellow bloggers.

First, give the Board of Trustees a year to operate before you make judgments regarding our progress. I think you will find that trustees are extra-sensitive to make sure that what is done this year is with a view toward fulfilling our mission to the best of our ability. I doubt very seriously that we will get sidetracked on peripheral issues that have nothing to do with the work in the field.

Second, I really appreciate all the support I have received from people around the world these past few months, but I am asking that nobody take up an offense for me this year regarding me not being on a subcommittee.

I made a very conscious decision to begin my blog last December. I believe that decision has had beneficial effects upon the IMB and the SBC as a whole, but unfortunately, due to the very nature of blogging, some of my fellow trustees are not very happy with me. To take up an offense on my behalf for me not being on a sub-committee only exascerbates the situation needlessly.

I could have stayed quiet, but for the sake of conscience I spoke out in dissent against the new policies. I believe I can regain the trust of those trustees who are offended. I have seven years to do so, and I am a very determined person.

Until then, I will try to keep you informed of the wonderful work of the International Mission Board from my perspective.

The Plenary Session (Public Business Session) is this afternoon. I'll try to post tonight after the evening dinner at the ILC.

In His Grace,


Wade

On To Richmond, Virginia

Rachelle and I are traveling to Richmond, VA today for the trustee meeting of the International Mission Board.

There is no easy way to get to Richmond, so we will be arriving around 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon.

There is a prayer banquet tonight and after the evening meetings I will try to post about the days events abiding by all the rules for blogging I have always followed and posted for your information this past week.

Thank you for your prayers.

In His Grace,


Wade

Should Missionaries Feel Pressure to Produce Converts?

I have several family members and church members on the mission field in several different continents of the world. I often hear from from them that there is sometimes pressure felt within, or from without, to produce an abundant amount of conversions on the field.

Not all missionaries are in this type of pressure environment to produce "results," and I am confident that within the IMB, the Richmond administrative leadership diligently works keep that kind of pressure out of the field, but because of our Southern Baptist culture in general, or maybe even our American desire for instant success, this post is intended as an encouragement to missionaries not to fall into the trap of desiring instant results and to not question your calling to missions if conversions are difficult in your region.

William Carey spent seven years on the field, faithfully preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ without even so much as a hint of ONE conversion. According to George Smith, the biographer of Carey, for seven years Carey had faithfully and daily preached Christ in Bengali without a convert. He had produced the first edition of the New Testament. He had reduced the language to literary form. He had laid the foundations in the darkness of the pit of Hindooism, while the Northamptonshire pastors, by prayer and self-sacrifice, held the ropes.

An even greater disappointment than seven unfruitful years of gospel teaching came on 25th November 1800, when "the first Hindoo" catechumen (one whom Carey had personally instructed in the faith with the use of a catechism), a man by the name Fakeer, offered himself for baptism, but returned to the distant home of his childhood prior to his baptism, only to never return, probably "detained by force."

However, on the last Sunday of that same year (1800) Krishna Pal was baptised in the Hoogli and his whole family soon followed him. He was thirty-five years of age. Not only was he the first native Christian of North India of whom we have a reliable account, but he became himself the first missionary to Calcutta and Assam, and the first Bengali hymn-writer.

Carey's first Hindoo convert, Krishna Pal, was three years younger than himself, or about thirty-six, at baptism. Born in the neighbouring French settlement of Chandernagore, had settled in the suburbs of Serampore, where he worked as a carpenter. Sore sickness and a sense of sin led him to join the Ghospara sect of Buddhism.

He recovered from sickness, but could not shake off the sense of the burden of sin, when this message came to him, and, to his surprise, through the Europeans--"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners."

At the same time he happened to dislocate his right arm by falling down the slippery side of his tank when about to bathe. He sent two of the children to the Mission House for Thomas, Carey's aide, who immediately left the breakfast table at which the brethren had just sat down, and soon reduced the luxation, while the sufferer again heard the good news that Christ was waiting to heal his soul. Krishna Pal and his neighbour Gokool received a Bengali tract.

He himself thus told the story:--"In this paper I read that he who confesseth and forsaketh his sins, and trusteth in the righteousness of Christ, obtains salvation. The next morning Mr. Carey came to see me, and after inquiring how I was, told me to come to his house, that he would give me some medicine, by which, through the blessing of God, the pain in my arm would be removed. I went and obtained the medicine, and through the mercy of God my arm was cured. From this time I made a practice of calling at the mission house, where Mr. Ward and Mr. Felix Carey used to read and expound the Holy Bible to me. One day Dr. Thomas asked me whether I understood what I heard from Mr. Ward and Mr. Carey. I said I understood that the Lord Jesus Christ gave his life up for the salvation of sinners, and that I believed it, and so did my friend Gokool. Dr. T. said, 'Then I call you brother--come and let us eat together in love.' At this time the table was set for luncheon, and all the missionaries and their wives, and I and Gokool, sat down and ate together."

The servants spread the news, most horrible to the people, that the two Hindoos had "become Europeans," and they were assaulted on their way home. Just thirty years after, in Calcutta, the first public breach of caste by the young Brahman students of Duff raised a still greater commotion, and resulted in the first converts there.

Krishna Pal and his wife, his wife's sister and his four daughters; Gokool, his wife, and a widow of forty who lived beside them, formed the first group of Christian Hindoos of caste in India north of Madras. Two years after Krishna Pal sent to the Society this confession of his faith. Literally translated, it is a record of belief such as Paul himself might have written, illustrated by an apostolic life of twenty-two years. The carpenter's confession and dedication has, in the original, an exquisite tenderness, reflected also in the hymn11 which he wrote for family worship:--

"SERAMPORE, 12th Oct. 1802.

"To the brethren of the church of our Saviour Jesus Christ, our souls' beloved, my affectionately embracing representation. The love of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, was made known by holy brother Thomas. In that day our minds were filled with joy. Then judging, we understood that we were dwelling in darkness. Through the door of manifestation we came to know that, sin confessing, sin forsaking, Christ's righteousness embracing, salvation would be obtained. By light springing up in the heart, we knew that sinners becoming repentant, through the sufferings of Christ, obtain salvation. In this rejoicing, and in Christ's love believing, I obtained mercy. Now it is in my mind continually to dwell in the love of Christ: this is the desire of my soul. Do you, holy people, pour down love upon us, that as the chatookee we may be satisfied.12 I was the vilest of sinners: He hath saved me. Now this word I will tell to the world. Going forth, I will proclaim the love of Christ with rejoicing. To sinners I will say this word: Here sinner, brother! Without Christ there is no help. Christ, the world to save, gave his own soul! Such love was never heard: for enemies Christ gave his own soul! Such compassion, where shall we get? For the sake of saving sinners he forsook the happiness of heaven. I will constantly stay near him. Being awakened by this news, I will constantly dwell in the town of joy. In the Holy Spirit I will live: yet in Christ's sorrow I will be sorrowful. I will dwell along with happiness, continually meditating on this;--Christ will save the world! In Christ not taking refuge, there is no other way of life. I was indeed a sinner, praise not knowing.--This is the representation of Christ's servant,

"KRISTNO."


Seven years. One convert.

But what a convert he was.

In His Grace,

Wade

Relationship Rules Worth Remembering

Years ago my dad gave me three principles that he required his church staff to follow. I have found these principles to be invaluable in keeping relationships healthy, both on our staff and in our church. I am convinced that if every one in the Southern Baptist Convention followed the following rules of relationships, 90% of the problems within our Convention would be resolved fairly quickly.

Principle (1). A Positive Spirit

No matter how difficult or dark things seem to be, I will always recognize that God is in control and that He has a purpose for the circumstances I am in, and as a result, I will maintain positive outlook on life.

It is amazing what a deep understanding of God's sovereignty will do for morale on a church staff.

Principle (2). A Servant's Heart

I will work my hardest and do my best to make sure that those around me look good and succeed in life, for I esteem and value others more than I do myself.

This type of selflessness prevents staff members designating "turf" and seeking to protect it.

Principle (3). A Loyal Spirit

I will neither give nor receive a negative word about you unless you are aware of that which is being said or heard by me.

Oh how I wish every Southern Baptist practiced this principle. It sure seems people find it easy to talk ABOUT people but never TO people.

Good food for thought this weekend.

In His Grace,

Wade

A Caution Against Quick Judgements Regarding Henderson Hills

I have been asked by several people to give my thoughts regarding the direction Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma is moving in asking for a bylaw change that would, in effect, not require believer's baptism in order for a Christian to be a member of their church.

I am not ready to weigh in with my personal assessment on this issue because of several factors that I believe are very important and worthy of some serious consideration by us all.

(1). I have read a few blogs and commentators who have weighed in heavily against Henderson Hills and have not even taken the time to read what Henderson Hills has posted on their own web site. Some have even written retractions of what they previously said after reading Henderson Hills own documents. I am not unfamiliar with accusations from people who have never read what I have written, and I would highly encourage anyone and everyone to become informed by reading the source documents before weighing in.

(2). The leaders of Henderson Hills Baptist Church have studied this issue for at least two years, and in their own documents they say their desire is to be completely Biblical in all they do, something that we as a Convention should commend rather than condemn.

(3). John Bunyan, one of the leading Baptists of the 17th Century, led his church to take a similar position, so the argument from Baptist history cuts both ways.

(4). Since each Southern Baptist Church is autonomous, and since my church (and the vast majority of all Southern Baptist Churches) require believer's baptism prior to church membership, all a pastor would have to do if someone desired to transfer membership from Henderson Hills to his church is request a testimony of faith and believer's baptism, something that every person who seeks to join our church must do, regardless of the church from whence he came. If the person has not been baptized as a believer then it is the perogative of our church, and every other Southern Baptist Church, to refrain from granting membership until that happens.

(5). I have read that someone will seek for the Baptist General Convention of Okahoma and the Capital Association to try to "disfellowship" from Henderson Hills if this new bylaw passes. All I can say regarding this proposed attempt is this: Spurgeon was disfellowshipped from the Baptist Union for refusing to compromise on what he believed the Scriptures to teach. Spurgeon taught Biblical truths that were considered "heretical" by the liberals of his day. Marty Duren has well said that there is as much danger in the liberal denying the sacred text as there is in the fundamentalist ignoring the sacred text. Spurgeon said at the time "A future generation will vindicate our church." Before such drastic action is taken against Henderson Hills, we better know the BIBLICAL basis for why such a thing is required. If we as a state convention and association cannot support our position for disfellowshipping from Scripture, a future generation may look at us as we now look at the 19th Century Baptist Union of England.

(6). Why are we not as concerned with our modern mega-church Southern Baptist practice of baptizing anyone, and I mean anyone, who "walks an aisle" without taking seriously our responsibility to disciple that person? Which is worse, a Southern Baptist church with 10,000 baptized members but only 3,000 attending and participating in the ministries of the church because possibly several hundred, if not thousand, are on the rolls who have been baptized but not genuinely regenerated, or a church like Henderson Hills grappling with what the Scriptures actually teach about "church membership" and not wanting to denigrate the meaning and symbolism of baptism by confusing it with an "initiation" rite into the church?

(7). No trustee of the International Mission Board has ever advocated that a missionary be appointed who has not been baptized as a believer. My friend and fellow trustee, Rick Thompson, has written several excellent posts on this matter.

So, I guess I will simply continue to read, continue to listen, and continue to be respectful to my fellow Southern Baptists at Henderson Hills who are grappling with an issue within their local, autonomous church. It is a sad day when we start disfellowshipping from people who are evangelical, working to be Biblical in everything they do, and wish to continue to cooperate with us.

We have way too many enemies who are not of us to turn on someone who is.

In His Grace,


Wade

UPDATE: Senior Pastor Dennis Newkirk of Henderson Hills has commented about 12 comments down. His comment, again, exhibits grace, wisdom and a desire to be Biblical in all things.

Is It a Generational Thing?

A long time Southern Baptist with a heart for missions told me the other day that he felt some of the disagreements over the use of blogs in Southern Baptist life was generational. He made three statements that caused me to pause and give further consideration to whether or not his thoughts were on target.

(1). The older generation of Southern Baptists is very comfortable saying one thing to you privately, but something a little different publicly. The newer generation of Southern Baptists believes that what is said privately should never be contradicted publicly in the least degree.

(2). The older generation of Southern Baptists believes that anything that does not reflect positively on the Southern Baptist Convention or her autonomous agencies should be kept private, while the new generation of Southern Baptists believes that transparency and openness, even of those things that do not reflect well on us, should be made public.

(3). The older generation of Southern Baptists believes that loyalty to the organization is of more importance than cooperation with other evangelical Christians, whereas the newer generation of Southern Baptists will first ask questions that go to the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ at large rather than loyalty to the denomination.

What say ye?

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

The Fine Line

Rachelle and I will be leaving next Monday for the International Mission Board Meeting in Richmond, Virginia. A new group of trustees will be receiving their training beginning Monday morning, July 17th, and ending next Thursday, July 20th. The Trustee Orientation Committee did a great job last year at my orientation, and I'm sure they will do so again this year.

I enter my second year of service with the International Mission Board attempting to walk a very fine line.

First, I have a responsibility to the Southern Baptist Convention. The issue that began the conflict last year was the adoption of missionary personnel policies by the Board that I felt disregarded the clear teachings of Scripture and went beyond the Baptist Faith and Message. I believe those policies should be reversed.

Those policies form one of the concerns in my motion presented to the Southern Baptist Convention, and since I am the author of that motion, I can speak to it in a public manner. The forum of debate on the whether or not an agency is within her boundaries to establish doctrinal parameters that exceed the Baptist Faith and Message has moved to a very public forum because of the actions of the Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro.

Second, I have a responsibility to my fellow trustees. I want them to be able to accomplish their work, but at the same time I want to remind us all that we are accountable to the Convention as a whole, even though we are a separate and autonomous agency. We are accountable in the sense the Convention has invested "trust" in us that we will accomplish our mission according to the Word of God, and in the best interest of the Southern Baptist Convention at large.

The fine line I walk is between principled dissent and my participation in the ongoing work of the IMB. I do not want these policy issues to dominate the discussions of the full Board. I am hopeful that a panel of independent trustees (and there are many) will be able to do that which the convention asked, investigate the sources and origins of these policies, and issue a report and recommendation to the San Antonio Convention in such a fashion that the work of the IMB is not impeded.

Blogging Rules (or Rules for Blogging).

I will continue to blog, but I think it is wise to inform everyone, again, of the rules I maintain for blogging.

(1). First, I will not post a conversation, email or letter unless I have specific permission. I will always ask, and you are always free to say no.

Early on I posted an email from a trustee without asking. I removed the trustee's name, so that nobody could identify the trustee, and used it as an example of what some thought about blogging. Even though that trustee's email had been "blind" copied to multiple people, and even though I was very respectful in my response and tried to show that blogging is nothing but a different form of communication, similar to email, I made a decision after that incident never to post any information unless I have been been specifically granted permission.

Since that time I have received thousands of emails and phone calls and people have asked me not to post our communication. My standard response is, "Unless I ask your permission to post, and unless you give it, anything you say to me is considered confidential." In all those occasions of personal communication there has been only one instance where I was given permission to blog about the conversation, blogged it, and the next day the person seemed to have a change of heart.

Any conversation I have in the hallway in Richmond will not be posted unless I ask and receive permission. Any communication with me via phone will not be posted unless I ask and permission is granted. Any written communication to me will not be posted unless I ask and it is agreed upon.

On the other hand, anything I say to my fellow trustees that is not of a missionary security matter and covered by rules of confidentiality can be blogged by them from here to kingdom come. I believe we trustees should learn to talk, fellowship, pray and communicate in openness and transparency. But that may be my personal utopia, so I will continue to follow this rule for the sake of others.

(2). I will always be respectful to those trustees that disagree with me and pushed for the adoption of the new policies. If you look back and read what I have said about those trustees you will see that I have said only nice things about them as people.

I really believe they wish to do the right thing as they see it.

But when I have questioned how we can exceed the Baptist Faith and Message, disqualify our own President to serve as a field missionary over the very organization over which he presides, and pass policies that seem to contradict the very Bible which we profess to believe, it seems that some trustees (not all) took this as a personal attack.

It is not personal. It is about the policies.

If the policies are beneficial and biblical they should stand. If they are not, they should be reversed. But I can disagree with my fellow trustees and still work with them. If an agency makes decisions that are detrimental to their ongoing work, then only the trustees can change it.

The investigation should go into the origin of these new policies. Where did the process begin? Who called for them? Who pushed them? Where is the statistical basis and anectodal evidence to show the need for them? Do they exceed the BF&M? Did our President ask that they be shelved? Was that request denied? Who denied it? Why?

My blog is not the forum for the answers to those questions. The Convention has asked for a report, and it is only proper for the Board to be given an entire year to issue their report.

I would suggest the Southern Baptist Convention needs to learn again how to love and cooperate in missions with people who don't walk lock-step in all doctrinal matters.

(3). I will never intentionally violate confidentialy --- ever.

If I am ever shown where confidentiality is breached, regardless of where it occurs, I will seek to correct it immediately.

Let me give you two examples:

During the West Africa events of last year I received a letter from a missionary couple in another denomination pleading that our IMB missionaries not be terminated. They were partners with our IMB missionaries. I did not publish the letter, but a friend of mine did. I immediately called him and told him he needed to change some things to protect the confidentiality of the couple. He did. It was only later that the mainstream media identified the couple (BP, APB, etc . . . )

At our Board meeting in Albuquerque the Vice-President of the IMB announced that a "blog" had published the "minutes" of the January Board meeting on the internet. These were the "public" minutes that were distributed to anyone who asked. Unfortunately there were some names of some missionaries in sensitive areas in the minutes. The Board was irate with the "blogger" for blogging "confidential" information. I'm not sure how many wondered why in the world "senstive" information was ever placed in the PUBLIC minutes in the first place.

I did some quick searches on the net, found the blog and called the young man. He removed the minutes but asked what I was thinking; "If this information is so sensitive why is it in the public minutes?"

Since that meeting the way minutes are handled has changed. There are now "Executive Minutes" that contain sensitive information and will not be made available to the public.

I think that everyone is now very aware that I will not be intimidated by false allegations of breaches of confidentiality. I will only post what the Southern Baptist Convention and public have a right to know.

My Attendance at Trustee Meetings

I have been informed that two opinions have been given by the legal counsel for the Convention that no trustee can be barred from attending meetings where all the trustees of the International Mission Board are convened.

I have also been told that Dr. John Floyd is not intending to try to prevent me from attending the meetings although he has not spoken to me about this matter and all I knew was what he was quoted as saying by Associated Baptist Press.

It is within the right of the Chairman not to appoint me to any committee, and I will respectfully accept his decision.

However, since I have been assured that my presence at Forums and Executive Sessions cannot be challenged, I intend on going to all Forums, Executive Sessions, and any other meetings where the full Board convenes.

May the next year be profitable for the International Mission Board.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

The Nations Are As a Drop in the Bucket to God

Wednesday night we studied the book of Daniel as we continued our survey of the entire Bible for our mid-week Bible study. I had forgotten how fascinating this marvelous book is, and the brief videotape review from Dr. R.C. Sproul and the discussion that followed was very interesting in view of modern day events in Iraq and North Korea.

THE KING BROUGHT TO HIS KNEES

Babylon was the impenetrable fortress city of her day. The walls were high and thick, and the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar thought himself a deity. He threatened the followers of the one true God who refused to bow down to the statue he created for worship, and of course, he made outlandish braggadocious statements including telling Shadrach, Meshach and Abedneggo. . .

" . . . if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" (Daniel 3:15).

Of course, you remember that God brought Nebuchadnezzar down. He became insane, to the point he spent his days in the fields eating grass and his hair grew to the length of eagles' feathers and his fingernails like birds' claws (Daniel 4:33).

THE KINGDOM BROUGHT DOWN

The next king of Babylon, Belshazzar, brought the holy vessels of the Temple in Jerusalem to the palace in Babylon and used them as drinking cups during his orgy infested parties.

Of course, the hand of God wrote on the wall "Mene, mene tekel upharsin" which being translated means "Your days are finished. You have been weighed on the balances of justice and have been found wanting. The kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians" (Daniel 5:26-28).

Notice God calls Belshazzar's Babylonian kingdom "the" kingdom instead of using the personal pronoun and saying "your" kingdom. Most kings think they own the kingdom. Not so. God is the one who has established his throne in the heavens and he is the ruler of all the nations.

PROPHECY FULFILLED

Just exactly as Daniel prophesied when he interpreted the handwriting on the wall, the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon, and King Belshazzar was killed that very night. Historians tell us the Medes penetrated the "impenetrable" fortress of Babylon via the underground aquaducts.

And just as God revealed to Daniel, and just as Daniel prophecied in chapters 2 and 8 --- in some cases hundreds of years before the actual events --- the Medes and Persians were eventually conquered by the Greeks and their leader Alexander the Great (he himself the "little horn" mentioned in Daniel 8:9, and the Greeks were then eventually conquered by the Romans (Daniel 8).

All this to say . . .

No kingdom stands on earth but that God sustains it. No king or ruler sits on the throne or chair of authority unless God ordains it. And God has a way of bringing the mighty low as we saw when the modern king of Babylon crawled out of his hole outside of Baghdad where he was hiding. Soon, we will see the ruler of North Korea brought down by God because of his pride and arrogance and crimes against humanity, but particularly the atrocities against Christians in North Korea.

The book of Daniel should keep all believers from the paralyzing fear that plagues many who have little or no confidence in the God of the Bible. Rulers of the kingdoms of this world can make threats, fire missiles, or even claim personal deity, but the One Person who counts is the One to whom they must answer --- and He has a pattern of using various nations to bring down evil doers.

Daniel should also remind us to always be on our guard as a nation against corrupt persons at any level of governmental authority.

Pastor Rick Warren is headed to North Korea to preach the gospel in stadiums and theaters across the country. Some believe the evil leader of that country is using Pastor Rick to draw out underground Christians in order to persecute them.

I've got news for Kim Jong II. If God brought Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar of old to judgement, He will do the same to any leader of the world today who mocks His laws and seeks to destroy His people.

My prayer is that Kim Jong II will be converted to faith in Christ before he sees the handwriting on the wall.

In His Grace,

Wade

2006-2007 Standing Committees for the International Mission Board

Each trustee of the International Mission Board, including the new trustees elected by the SBC last month, has been assigned to serve on a regional committee as well as one of the five major committees --- Administration, Finance, Mission Personnel, Mobilization or Overseas. Those trustees serving on the Trustee Orientation Committee will serve on three committees.

I have not been assigned to serve on any committee for 2006/2007. In addition, the previous Chairman stated his intentions to keep me from attending the Forum or Executive Sessions (closed door meetings), and the new Chairman, John Floyd, has publicly stated his intentions to do the same.

I have been told that to bar a trustee from attending a meeting where all trustees are convened, without Southern Baptist Convention approval, is a violation of the bylaws, and possibly the law. However, rather than making an issue of this, I am choosing to abide by the wishes of the Chairman and will not attend the Forums and Executive Sessions until such a time I believe it is essential to do so or I am asked, whichever comes first. I am hoping that most of the business that is conducted, except for those issues involving security matters, will be in the plenary (or public sessions).

I am going to list the Chairman of the various committees, appointed by Dr. John Floyd. But before I do, I will list the new Executive Committee of the IMB. They act as the Board in between meetings and will control the direction of the Board meetings by setting the agenda.

The Executive Committee of the International Mission Board for 2006/2007


John Floyd, Chairman of the Board
Chuck McAlister, Chairman of the Overseas Committee
A.C. Halsell, Chairman of the Finance Committee
Steve Hill, Chairman of the Administration Committee
Kyle Cox, Chairman of the Mobilization Committee
Paul Chitwood, Chairman of the Mission Personnel Committee
John Russell, Vice Chairman of the Board
Sam Morgan, 2nd Vice Chairman of the Board
Sharon Tillery, Secretary of the Board

Subcommittee Chairmen of the International Mission Board

Bill Sutton, Chairman of Central and Eastern Europe
Jerry Corbaley, Chairman of South Asia
Winston Curtis, Chairman of Northern Africa and Middle East
Bill Sanderson, Chairman of East Asia
Doug Merck, Chairman of Pacific Rim
Joe Washington, Chairman of West Africa
Clint Henry, Chairman of Western Europe
Bill Hickman, Chairman of Central Asia
Steve Swofford, Chairman of Eastern and Southern Africa
Mike Butler, Chairman of Middle America and Caribbean
Jeff Ginn, Chairman of South America

These men (sorry ladies, no women chairs) meet every Board meeting with the Executive Committee meet every Board meeting on Monday in what is called "The Chairmen's Council."

So . . .

Our next International Mission Board meeting will be Monday through Wednesday, July 17-`19, 2006 in Richmond, Virginia. There will be no appointment service at this meeting, but the trustees will meet with the staff during their regular chapel service on Wednesday morning.

I always enjoy going to Richmond because it means an opportunity for me to visit with the missionaries at the Missionary Learning Center and to stop in and say hello to all the staff in Richmond. Rachelle will be accompanying me to this meeting as she did in Albuquerque.

In His Grace,

Wade

Short Essay Contest Winners

The Essay Contest entitled "If I Were President of the SBC, I Would . . . " received a number of excellent entries, and more than a few humorous ones.

As promised, there are two winners as determined by a panel of three judges --- one for the wisest essay as deemed by the panel, and one for the most humorous.

The judges wish to remain anonymous, so don't bother asking, and don't complain to me! :)

Really, thanks to all who took the time to enter. If the two winners will send me their mailing addresses I will send the prize to you later this week.

The Wisest Advice Essay Winner (by Dave Samples)

If I were president of the SBC, I would...

#1--Seek to reconcile and rebuild relationships with both the BGCT and the BGAV. How can God truly bless us if we are at odds with our brothers and sisters? (Matthew 5:23-24).

#2--Hold "live satellite" conventions in every state convention allowing a truly representative convention. Wouldn't it be cool if every SBC church was actually represented and voting at the SBC?

#3--Reorganize each of our boards in order to streamline effectiveness and to minimize expense.

#4--Initiate a national ad campaign to proclaim the gospel and the positives of SBC churches. Answer the question: "What are we for?"

(Judges comments: Brief, pointed, concrete plans that actually could be implemented within a short span of time).

________________________________________


The Most Humorous Essay Winner (by Brett)

If I were elected President of the SBC, I would...

a. Show up at the press conference with those fake buck teeth in.

b. Call Class of '88 "Mr. Most Likely to Succeed" and ask what's goin' on in his life these days.

c. Inform the newly elected 2nd Vice President that his job at the convention, during all business sessions, is to make sure that all the restrooms are fully supplied, thereby ensuring that the most widely asked question of the San Antonio Convention would not be "Who was the genius that suggested we should be in San Antonio in June?" but would be "Where's Wiley?"

d. Buy a ranch out West somewhere so I can chop wood and ride horses for the media.

e. Take Bobby's old bus and beg the producers of MTV's "Pimp My Ride" to transform it...with Al Mohler's mug on the side, right beside the text "Tonight on Larry King"

f. Donate the newly pimped SBC Bus to the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives for posterity.

g. Get a custom equipped Boeing 747-200B and call it SBC-1.

h. Urge Hayes Wicker to really draw the theologues to San Antonio with
"Mohler/Patterson II: the Cage Match"

i. Issue a statement titled "Patterson's Left Hook: the Truth about Mohler's Supposed Cornea Surgery Before Greensboro"

j. Use my childrens' toy mallet as a gavel when people start acting childish.

k. Conclude my Introduction of whichever politician the Bush administration sends to San Antonio with these words: "And it is my great privelege to inform you that in an unprecedented display of gratitude for our Convention's unwavering loyalty to the Republican party, our next speaker just pledged to give 10% of his/her gross income to the Cooperative Program!"

l. Grant clemency to Wade Burleson.


(Judges comments: Humor is often in the ear of the beholder, but after reading this outloud twice, we laughed harder the second time than the first.)


Congratulations to the two winners.

Tomorrow's post will list the names of the committee members for the International Mission Board with a special focus on the chairmen of the respective committees as appointed by Chairman of the Board Dr. John Floyd.

Have a happy 4th of July holiday!

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

The Call of God While on the Other Side of the River

There are times we as Christians need to be reminded of God's sovereign grace as we seek to win others to faith in Christ in order for us to avoid "shaking the dust off our feet" when we get around people who are different than us.

Our world is pagan. Our culture is godless. People practice homosexuality, adultery, drunkenness, and other perverted practices as if they were the norm.

Yet, it is these people to whom the grace of God reaches.

Remember Abram?

God took Abram as His own when Abram lived "on the other side of the river . . . (where Abram) served other gods " (NIV Joshua 24:2-3).

Stephen is even clearer regarding the timing of God's call to Abraham when he said "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia" (Acts 7:2)

God did not favor Abram because Abram was a man after God's own heart; God graced Abram while he was in the midst of idolatry and Abram became a man after God's own heart.

I won't take the time to describe the idolatrous practices of the Mesopotamians, but it would not be dissimilar to the pagan practices of today.

Yet God called Abram.

A good word for us as we take the gospel of Jesus Christ to those in need of a Savior.

In His Grace,

Wade

Reflections on Gulf Shores, Alabama

My wife and I are traveling back to Enid, America today in order to be present for our inaugural REFUGE 7:1 Saturday night worship service. I must tell my Little Rock friend, David Sanders, that every single hotel room in his fair city and to the west for 70 miles was BOOKED last night --- not a lot of the rooms, every SINGLE room (I now hate regional soccer tournaments!). So my wife and I coasted into Russellville, Arkansas at 1:30 a.m. this morning on our way back from the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama after a very relaxing vacation.

I will post the winners of the contest on Independence Day so you still have a couple of days to enter. However, in honor of the beginning of our REFUGE service tonight, I thought I might throw out just a couple of reflections regarding our week stay on the beach.

(1). The tens of thousands of people who joined us on the beach, if presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ by the typical Southern Baptist dressed in his Sunday go to meeting outfit, would immediately think a "cult" had accosted him. Outside of the business world (and in some businesses, inside) the average American has changed in dress, hairstyles, thinking patterns, musical preferences and outlook since the 1950's. We Southern Baptists are often stuck in the 1950's or 1960's. I think it would be helpful for us to remember that the United States is no longer a Christian country, and for people to really be reached with the message of the POWER of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the silly cultural taboo messages of many Southern Baptist churches --- but the power of an incarnate God who died a substitutionary death for sinners, and offers His perfect righteousness to the person who believes on Christ --- we must become all things to all people.

I think our missionaries on the field with the International Mission Board in unreached people groups are almost better prepared philosophically and trained more properly in methodology to reach Americans on our beach coasts than Southern Baptist pastors are. I'm not saying every Southern Baptist church should take this challenge, I am just cautioning Southern Baptists NOT to reject or condemn churches who understand this concept -- and vice versa.

(2). The former Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, governor from 1998-2002, was convicted this past Thursday of several federal offenses, including receiving bribes for political favors. The Governor and his cohort in crime are both highly active in Christian affairs in Alabama, and it is a reminder to us all that people with power, left unchecked and unguarded, become addicted by their power to the point of being anesthetized to their own immoral actions.

Our founding fathers of the United States understood the safety in the separation of powers, and even religious denominations and organizations should be aware of handing too much power into the hands of any one person or oligarchy of people. The same principle applies to the local church, and I'm afraid that in the future we may be finding that several congregations will have to deal with pastors who have assumed total authority of a church and have abused the trust. I am still one, unlike many of my friends, who believe congregational authority in major decisions is still best philosophically, and yes, even Scripturally (the priesthood of every believer).

(3). I was reminded on the beach of Gulf Shores the importance of friendships. Relationships among people are eternal through the grace of Jesus Christ. I have enjoyed making many new friends via the internet and I look forward to another year of blogging. I want to thank my dad for the comment moderation while I was gone.

I wish you all a wonderful Lord's Day ---

For those in Enid --- see you tonight.

In His Grace,


Wade