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

Sunday at Cornerstone Baptist Church, Arlington

Rachelle and I left the hotel at 7:15 a.m. for the 7:30 worship service at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. Frankly, when I first heard I would be preaching at this service, I thought it was a typo. Whoever heard of Baptists have a 7:30 a.m. worship service other than Easter?

I guess Cornerstone Baptist is a unique church. We pulled into the parking lot and literally dozens of volunteers made the entrance into the church from our car a welcoming experience. I don't believe I have ever seen a church stationed throughout with more men and women serving the Lord and each other by being official 'greeters,' hosts and hostesses, servants in the audio/visual ministry and various other volunteer capacities throughout Cornerstone. There is truly a sense of hospitality, warmth and genuine service that is very noticeable.

Rachelle and I were escorted to the second floor where Dwight McKissic greeted us in his office. We had a time of prayer with Pastor Dwight and Pastor Jason Epps of a church start in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jason had been denied funding by the Southern Baptist Convention for his church start because he had been honest and answered 'yes' to the question "Do you have a private prayer language?" Though Jason has never made 'tongues' a central part of either his life or teaching, he could not deny the gift God had given him. Dwight heard of his story and encouraged his church today to take an offering to help Jason's church buy land and construct a building for a church that now has over 150 attending in an area where 90% of the people are non-Christian.

The 7:30 service had a very large crowd and though it is designed to be an hour long service, there was no time pressure and we did not end the service until 9:00 a.m. I preached a message on Jesus healing the blind beggar named Bartimeus, and I showed how the anointing of the Holy Spirit is given to those who pray like Bartimeus and persevere in their prayers like this blind man who felt the touch of Christ. The worship was wonderful, the crowd responsive, and it was one of the better services I've ever been a part of -- regardless of early starting time.

At 9:00 a.m. Rachelle and I ate breakfast with Pastor Dwight and his wife Vera in their office suite on the second floor. Joining us were my mom and dad, Paul and Mary Burleson, their friends from Wichita Falls, Bobby and Margie Brown, and Pastor Jason Epps. The conversation was very stimulating, the fellowship great, and I long for the day when, in the Southern Baptist Convention, we all can fellowship like we did over the breakfast table, regardless of race, views on the gifts, and cultural differences. We are truly one family in Christ.

Rachelle and I went back to the hotel to check out, but made it back to Cornerstone for the 10:00 a.m. worship service. We were a little late in arriving. The auditorium was packed, but we were escorted to the front and seated on the second row. The church was filled with volunteers standing to direct people to seats, and no guest went unescorted into the auditorium. I imagine there were at least 1,500 in this service.

What happened next was incredible.

We worshipped for an hour and a half. And when I say worship, I mean worship. The choir, ensemble, Daniel Brymer and Cornerstone's worship pastor led us before the throne. We sang a mixture of hymns and choruses -- there was not stopping and starting, it flowed from special worship songs sung by soloists and the choir, to congregational singing, to a combination of both -- no performance here, true and utter worship from all involved. The spirit was exuberant, the air electric. Some sat, most stood. Some lifted their hands, others bowed their heads and closed their eyes. Honestly, it was absolutely amazing -- the Spirit of God came down in a special and unique manner. My wife said she had never sung, or felt, the hymn "O How I Love Jesus" like she did this morning as we sang it. It was an absolutely moving worship time with many touched by God before the preaching of the message.

Jason again shared his testimony and then our church member, Dr. Sam Storms preached an astounding message entitled "Quench Not the Holy Spirit." I have learned more on the ministry and person of the Holy Spirit under the teaching of Dr. Sam Storms than any other theologian or pastor. I will be taking and applying what I learned from this message into my own life and ministry. Dr. Storms finished his 35 minute message at 12:05 and we worshipped again with the pastors of Cornerstone extending a public time of response and ministry for an additional 25 minutes.

The service ended at 12:30 -- two and a half hours after it began.

We could not stay for the luncheon afterwards because we wanted to be back in Enid for the 25th Anniversary Celebration of our headmaster and current Association of Christian Schools International Board Chairman, Paul McDonald. Rachelle and I discussed what we experienced on the way home to Enid, Oklahoma, and I say without hesitation we both profited from "The Conference on the Holy Spirit."

Two observations in closing:

(1). I am utterly astounded that anyone within the SBC would desire to exclude from denominational leadership or missionary cooperation Pastor Dwight McKissic or any member from Cornerstone Baptist Church because of their views or practices of the Spirit's gifts. I can assure you that at not one time was anything done or practiced in the services Sunday that is prohibited in the Bible -- more importantly, Cornerstone's worship services seem to follow what Scripture prescribes worship ought to be. There was both exuberance and reverance, emotion and doctrine, love and grace, Spirit and truth, etc . . . Many of us could learn from Cornerstone and I am happy they are part of our convention.

(2). It's time the Southern Baptist Convention reflected the diversity of our people within our leadership. I will be proposing at some time in the near future that the Southern Baptist Convention be held at regional locations throughout the United States. The technology exists today for messengers to vote via computer, and I really think that the worship, teaching and testimonials at the different regional sites could reflect the diversity of our convention. In larger cities there could even be two sites for messengers to gather. This kind of networking will solve several problems:

(a). There will be greater participation in the direction of our convention by the members of the churches of our conventions instead of a select few who can travel across country to the site of the SBC host city.

(b). Since our convention was built on 'cooperation' and not 'conformity,' various regional sites for the convention will allow true cooperation of a multitude of churches and church cultures.

(c). The policies and practices of our convention will truly reflect the diversity of our people.

This recommendation will need to come from the proper committees and, of course, a great deal of work will need to be put into the proposal, but I look forward to the day when (not if) it is done.

All in all, the weekend was great. If there is a "Holy Spirit Conference Part II" I would encourage you to attend.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

P.S. I have heard from a friend who was present Sunday night for the worship and praise time at Cornerstone with Joel McCray and J.E. McKissic (both worship pastors at Cornerstone) and Daniel Brymer. I hope my friend will bog about it, but he told me the three hour service included prophetic singing and an incredible movement of the Spirit of God -- the service moved him like nothing he had ever experienced.


Dave Samples said...

Great report, Wade! You have written with enough passion to make those of us who could not attend quite envious.

I very much agree with your proposal to move toward regional convention sites. Here in Colorado, about half of our churches have bivocational pastors who will most likely never have the opportunity to attend a national convention. It would be an interesting convention that truly reflected the diversity of our SBC. May we live to see it!

Alan Cross said...

I echo everything you said about the worship service Sunday morning, Wade. It was incredible. I literally could not keep the tears from streaming down my face as I contemplated the greatness of our God. God's presence was definitely there and I didn't want to leave.

I felt that the conference really showed that dialogue is much more important than conformity on an issue like this. Dwight McKissic is an amazingly humble, gracious, and Spirit filled man. I've met few like him in my life. So many in his position are arrogant and think they know everything. They only speak to people who they think they can impress or gain something from. Pastor McKissic has time and affirmation for everyone. He is simply amazing.

Dr. Sam Storms was incredibly impressive. I learned a great deal from his messages and I hope to spend the summer unpacking the things he taught us. Southern Baptists really need to listen to this man.

Thanks for your leadership and graciousness, Wade. You preached clearly and boldly and I was proud to co-labor with you this weekend. I look forward to more times like this when Southern Baptists can discuss our differences in a Christ-like manner and all can leave edified.

bryan riley said...

Now if we can take this spirit and let it be had toward not only those who are a part of the SBC but the entire Body of Christ... Wow, we would really be demonstrating what it is to be a child of God!

Great report. God is truly and absolutely good, faithful, and loving. Hallelujah!

Dorcas Hawker said...

Wade -

I learned from the message you brought from God this morning. And I was there this evening at Cornerstone, it was truly a gift from God to be there. I've finally got my post from today written, you beat me to it on the Sunday post.

It was good to see you and Rachelle again. Until next time...


Bart Barber said...


I have advocated an attempt to facilitate distance participation in our convention meetings for quite some time. On this point, I agree with you completely. Indeed, I almost determined to bring a relevant motion to the SBC this very year, but this motion won out in my heart and I will be making it instead.

Debbie said...

Wade: I too echo what you have said. I have been back since Saturday night due to obligations here and I'm still praising God and He is changing me.

Paul Burleson said...


I have had a little time to reflect on the Conference on the Holy Spirit Mom and I have just attended. I don't wish to take much time or space but want to say a word of personal conclusion.

I've concluded, and remember I've had years of experience with hundreds of local churches including Enid Emmanuel, that the Fellowship Baptist Church in Arlington Texas, pastored by Dwight McKissic is one of those rare congregations, along with Enid Emmanel, that, no matter the size, has a sense of freedom and of family that leaves you in awe of the Grace of God. I've also concluded that, after several years under a pastor, a people tend, to some degree at least, to reflect the heart of the pastor. In both churches mentioned above that is certainly true. Emmanuel has for years been my standard of that, as is my home church, Henderson Hills, and now I add Fellowship to the list.

Another conclusion is, to a certain degree, this conference reflected what I remember the SBC being thirty years ago. There was an ability to be different in interpretation and understanding of most non-salvific doctrines and yet love and accept each other as family. I'm not saying some course correction wasn't needed in regards to confidence in the text of scripture, but what that inspired text meant was left to each baptist believer in the capable hands of the Holy Spirit.

This is reflected in the ministries of people like Jack Taylor, Miss Bertha Smith, Peter Lord, Adrian Rogers, Ron Dunn, John Wright, Bailey Smith, Jack Gray, all of whom I knew/know personally and with all of whom I would disagree on a point or two of theology. But all were fast and dear friends and family.

No one doubts or denies baptist distinctives. But the rule to hold one way or the other on some distinctives, as well as other non-baptist issues, was not mandatory. A confidence in the nature of the biblical materials and the nature, person and work of Christ in salvation were mandatory. This conference reflected that latter conviction and former freedom. How much more southern baptist can you get?

If some one says, "but that's only for leadership or employees of SBC entities." Or, if someone says, "It was done this way in the past behind closed doors. We're just doing it openly." I say, neither way is healthy or principled and I'd like the SBC to be both.

Finally, I've concluded that this first effort at such a conference was needed and it would be tragic IMHO for it not to be followed up with another. I know it was a learning process and some changes would be made and are, perhaps, needed. But, I can honestly say, it rang a bell in this older man's heart that hasn't heard such a sweet sound in conferences in several years. May God give us as the SBC a baptism of the Spirit and of the Word experienced in these all too brief days.


Lee said...

I regret that I had scheduled things for this weekend at church that caused me to have to leave the conference at lunchtime on Saturday. Friday night's worship was miraculous and transformational, at least for me. My cup was filled to overflowing.

I think the regional conventions with electronic voting is an excellent proposal. My heart is still grieved that I can't support the work of Jason Epps in Salt Lake City through the Cooperative Program.

I think there are a lot of other things in place in the way SBC business is conducted that prevent diversity from entering the ranks of SBC leadership that we must work on. I certainly appreciated Dr. Barber's response to my question along those lines in indicating that business happens at the convention and therefore, it is important for Southern Baptists to attend the convention. However, when doctrinal decisions are made by trustees, beyond what the convention has already decided, we don't really have a voice in that.

My church will be sending four messengers to San Antonio this summer, including myself and my wife. It will be the first time in at least a decade that it has done so. And while we will have a vote, we don't have as much of a voice as Dr. Barber's church does, simply because we are uniquely aligned with the BGCT. At some point, an arbirtary decision was made to exclude members of uniquely aligned BGCT churches from participation in any SBC leadership. This was done in spite of the fact that the BGCT still continues to be the single largest supporter of the SBC Cooperative Program, and in spite of the fact that the BGCT's distribution of funds allows churches to decide their own percentages of giving. Our church gives 2/3 to the SBC causes, and 1/3 to BGCT causes. Yet we are excluded because we do not see the need to add to the bureaucratic confusion that already exists, and join yet another state convention body. That's the kind of thing that has led to restrictions being placed on missionaries and indifference to the diversity that already exists, but isn't represented, in the convention. That has to stop.

Wes Kenney said...


Don't tell Gary Dyer of FBC Midland about that BGCT exclusion thing. He thinks he's been nominated to serve on the Committee on Committees...


Anonymous said...


My dear brother. you may want to do a little more research regarding your statement that the BGCT is the largest supporter of the Cooperative Program. The BGCT set up their own 'Cooperative Program' a few years back. Therefore, when your church marks your gifts to go to the 'CP' on the givng form, it is going directly to the BGCT 'CP' which is a different fund than the SBC 'CP'. The only way money goes from the BGCT to the SBC is if the individual church notes it specifically as such on the giving form. There is NO, ZERO money that goes from the BGCT to the SBC without specifically being marked as such by the church.

In Christ,
John B.

Alycelee said...

I am so thankful I was able to attend this conference. I've never seen a congregation with a sweeter spirit or one who's attitude of is that of servants. Cornerstone is an example to all of us and Dwight McKissic is a humble and godly man. The corporate worship at Cornerstone was awesome and I eagerly followed with them to the very presence of God with songs, praises and yes a welcome abandon from traditions. It was refreshing and while I'm still tired from travel, I could go again (and plan to).
The preaching was great. I learned from all of you and thanks for contributing.
I was able to attend Ben Coles church on Sunday morning, both Sunday school and church. Ben actually came in our SS class and hijacked the class. I'm glad he did. I looked with amazement at this young man, speaking with the authority and knowledge of an elder. I just like him, I really do and I watched the people in his church respond to him in love.
Sam Storms should be required reading for all SBC churches. In fact, what about listing a new question for IMB or NAMB profiling potential missionaries or church planters. How about including the question, "When is the last time you listened to or read one of Sam Storms books?"
I'm encouraged and can't wait till San Antonio.

Neil Newcomb said...

Wow, it really sounds like it was a awesome whorship expereince. Thanks for reporting, It does make me a little envious too.

Another John said...

John B.,

You are misleading. The BGCT giving form allows a church to designate the worldwide portion of its giving to any entity it chooses in whatever percentages it desires.

A church can give as much money to the SBC as it wants. According to the 2006 annual, over $31 million was sent from the BGCT to the SBC. Only Alabama and Georgia gave more, and they have only one state convention in those states.

Are you suggesting that you are against letting a local church have control over the routing of its own missions dollars?

Anonymous said...

Another John,

Please do not accuse me of doing the very thing you are attempting to do... mislead. Lee,said "the BGCT continues to be the single largest supporter of the SBC Cooperative Program" (a statement you yourself defeated in pointing out Alabama and Georgia). I simply said the BGCT, BGCT, BGCT (got it?) sends NO, ZERO money to the SBC UNLESS IT IS DESIGNATED BY THE CHURCH. On the other hand, the SBTC sends OVER HALF directly to the SBC CP. I said nothing about "Church autonomy, Paige Patterson, or Landmarkism" (just trying to cut off any other misunderstandings some of you might find). I simply said the statement that the BGCT is the leading giver to the SBC CP is inaccurate. They only give what they give because individual churches designate it that way, not because the BGCT has voted to do such. I cannot say it any clearer.

John B.

another john said...

Sorry...for all of these years I thought that churches were members of, and supported the SBC...not the state conventions.

But I apologize to Wade for helping to derail his thread, and will stop here.

ml said...

Another John,

I think you have stated well that a church ought to have "control" over its missions dollars. But when exercising that "control" [such as sending completely to BGCT with none designated to SBC] a church should not be surprised when other reigns of "control" are not offered back such as convention posts, etc. Nevertheless, the average pastor should not expect such things anyway because the good ole boy network is a well oiled machine.

Speaking of the network, I received my Pastors Conference material and am now glad that I chose not to attend the convention this year seeing that the conference is a step backward away from last years movement to include younger guys pushing the ministry envelope. Anyone looking for an alternative week leadership event that will actually benefit your leaders, let me recommend the Catalyst Conferences in Oct. Watch leadership magazine for details.

ml said...

Sorry that should say reins and not reigns.

Lee said...

John B,
As far as the SBC is concerned, the way money is received from a state convention isn't a determining factor in a church's ability to elect messengers to the convention. Likewise, to make an arbitrary decision, within a committee, without the convention having taken a vote on it, to nominate only members of SBTC affiliated churches and exclude anyone from a uniquely affiliated BGCT church is an example of petty denominational politics.

Cooperation, as measured by the SBC, has nothing to do with state convention affiliation, because state bodies are independent and autonomous, just as the churches are. The SBC determines a church's eligibility for electing messengers and convention participation based on whether that church supports the work of the convention through the Cooperative Program. To exclude a church because it hasn't affiliated with a state convention that someone in SBC leadership thinks it should be affiliated with, while it may not be a violation of the letter of denominational bylaws, is exclusive, vindictive, and if nothing else, is certainly a violation of the trust that should exist between brothers and sisters in Christ. It's like punishing the whole class because one person is talking. In this policy, which has not been approved by the SBC and is similar to trustee boards enacting their own doctrinal policies in addition to the BFM2000, SBC leadership is excluding 75% of the Southern Baptists who reside in Texas from convention leadership. I consider that particularly unfair to a church like mine, which contributes 12% of its undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program and designates 2/3 of it to SBC causes.

If members of particular churches are to be excluded from voluntary service in the SBC, then it is unethical for the SBC to take money from them in support of its causes.

Frankly, I think that there has been plenty of petty behavior among the leaders of both Texas Baptist conventions to last us for a lifetime, and I don't understand why people who make it to leadership positions in Baptist bodies like this can't resolve their differences in a mature, Biblical, Christian manner, but that's the subject of another blog that I will write later on this week on my own site.

Anonymous said...


OK, let's try this again.
(Following is paraprased)

You said: BGCT gives more...
I said: No it doesn't.

Pretty simple.

John B.

Lee said...

John B.

I'm not going to argue the point. Look at where the checks come from. In 2006, the BGCT sent checks to the SBC totalling $33.5 million, more than any other state convention (including Alabama and Georgia).

The checks came from the BGCT's operating account. How the decision was reached to arrive at that figure is a moot point.

Debbie said...

John B.: Let's try this. Attitude adjustment. Lee is not someone who does not know what he is talking about.

another john said...

John B. said:

"I cannot say it any clearer."

Speaking more clearly does not necessarily make one more correct. It only makes one more clearly incorrect.

Alan Cross said...

Anyway . . .

Again, that was a GREAT worship service yesterday, Wade! God really moved!

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...


I agree! What a great experience we had at Dwight's Church! Suxh great worship, preaching and servanthood! If you get a chance to read my tribute to Dwight for this past weekend, check it out at gfpastorsblog.blogspot.com

Jason Epps

bryan riley said...

Sometimes we need to give up our "right" to be right, don't we? For the sake of relationship... Praise God He did.

Lee said...

Pardon me for allowing my personal grievance to interfere with the overall spirit of the responses here. I really didn't intend to get into an argument over percentages, and this isn't the place or the time to defend a cause. I've just had a tremendous spiritual experience, and I am looking forward to the day when denominational politics take a back seat to cooperative ministry. Old habits are so hard to break. In light of all that I've been blessed with, I really have nothing to complain about.

I'm left with the impression, from what I'm reading here, that Sunday worship at Cornerstone is sort of like a weekly "conference on the Holy Spirit." I can't remember the last time I experienced worship as it was on Friday night, much less what it apparently was on Sunday morning. I can't wait for the next conference.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said...
Sounds like it was wonderful at the conference. Our Fannin County Missions Fair lasted from 4 to 7:30 Sunday night at our church. There were 47 display tables of missions from all over the world. Our guest speaker was Eric Ramsey. For the last 8 years he has served as manager in the Church Planting Group of the North American Mission Board.

He related where a cripple had received Jesus in some country. (Sorry I don’t remember where.) The old man kept patting his head, heart, and legs. An interpreter told the Southern Baptist evangelist team leader that Jesus had healed his head and heart, and now he wants you to pray that Jesus will heal his legs. (The location was at a clinic.)

The leader prayed a typical Baptist prayer that the doctors said there was no hope, and for him to accept the will of the Lord etc. Another member prayed for the Holy Spirit to heal his legs.

A long time later the old man was still at the clinic where they had put new padding on his crutches, and the last one to pray for him spoke through an interpreter saying, “Hey, why are you here? We prayed for you to be healed three hours ago. Now get up and walk on home!”
The man rose slowly to his feet and took a step and another…before he was out of the room he was leaping just like the man in the Bible. He went to every house in the village and told what Jesus had done. The next day, 200 accepted Jesus.

Do you think it’s time we let the Holy Spirit out of our Baptist boxes, and let him be what He has always been? We also could trust Him to control our missionaries without a prison of rules.

Debbie said...

Rex: Good post. Good question of which I'm sure you and I already know the answer to. :)

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Years ago, my sister, Raynell Glaser, looked for a lost tooth retainer in the San Francisco city dump.

A lost man had told his Christian daughter, “No more going to church for you. You’re going to work in my store on Sundays to pay for what your church has lost.”

The youth had loaded three truckloads of ‘stuff’ for the dump the day before. Bulldozers had moved it up a ‘mountain.’

Raynell could not find one piece of the ‘stuff’. With the dump closing, she came down the ‘mountain’ crying…”Lord, the youth prayed in earnest…why can’t you help me find it?” She kicked the ‘mountain’ in disappointment. Up popped a paper sack with a butter cup inside with a perfect retainer.

The father said, “This is of the Lord.”

Bart Barber said...


Do you know whereof you speak? My counterpart on the Committee on Committees is the pastor of a uniquely-BGCT church. One from the SBTC; one from the BGCT.

Rick said...

Pastor Burleson,

Thank you for answering my earlier question.

In your opinion, what is the purpose of tongues?

In Christ,

Paul Burleson said...


I'm not Wade and certainly do not wish to put words in his mouth. But I would like to speak to your question.

If 1 Corinthians 14:4-5 indicates anything it is that a gift of tongues, which I do not personally have, would be for personal edification ONLY unless interpreted were it to be excercised in a church meeting.

It would seem to me that personal edification is not illegitimate at all. What is experienced personally when one performs a spiritual private action as fasting, for example, or excercises a spiritual gift privately as tongues [no interpretation present so not in the assembly] would be quite edifying for that believer were he/she to have such a gift [tongues] or perform such an action. [fasting]

After all both the fast and tongue are toward God. [1 Corinthian 14:2] [Matt 6:16-18] When a believer is edified by a private spiritual action [fasting] or a private spiritual gift [tongues] all will eventually be blessed by that believers walk with God. They are no more spiritual than anyone else. They are just uniquely experiencing their relationship in the providence of God and it will bless us all as a Kingdom family.

Remember, the only difference in my illustration is fasting is an action you or I choose and spiritual gifts are things He chooses for you or me.

My personal wish is that the one who possesses any spiritual gift and the one who wonders if some gifts are valid for today would not be qualified/ disqualified for being a leader or missionary in the SBC on the basis of their position on this issue. We have larger areas of agreement as baptists and greater responsibilities for missions.

For edification in the gathered meeting of saints other guidelines/purposes come into play. [1 Corinthians 14:19-23.]