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

"So Will I (100 Billion X)" - An Amazing Acoustic Version by the Worship Team of Emmanuel Enid


I am blessed to work and worship with some talented volunteers and staff at Emmanuel Enid, Oklahoma. This song, an acoustic version of Hillsong United's "So Will I," is a powerful example of the gifts and talents of the people at Emmanuel Enid. This is from our third Sunday morning REFUGE service on January 21, 2018.

Christ Fulfilled the Law, So Stop Trusting In Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20).


The Law and the Prophets.

Everything in the Old Testament is either called Law (the Pentateuch) or the Prophets (the rest of the writings of the Old Testament). 

If you have a hard time understanding how the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures are called by Jesus "the Law and the Prophets," I point out what the premiere Hebrew writer of the New Testament declared in his writing to the Hebrews: 
"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, has in these last days spoken to us in His Son" (Hebrews 1:1-2 NAS). 
The last days referred to by the writer of Hebrews are the last days of Hebrew Temple worship (AD 30 to AD 70) and not the last days of the world.

"Christ is the end of the law for everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4).

The brilliant beauty of the Person and work of Jesus Christ is seen more clearly through understanding Jesus' - and our - proper relation to the Old Testament.

Jesus is called the Word of God incarnate (John 1:14), which means "God's Word took on flesh."

Acoute auton! (Greek: "Hear Him!")

Listen to Jesus. Hear God.

This is why the writer of Hebrews states that Jesus is the sum and consummated substance - God's final Word -  to this world.

That means, if you look to the Law or the Prophets (eg. "the Old Testament") for your view of how to operate and run your church, your family, your business, or your life, then you will find yourself with the same problem the scribes and the Pharisees had in Jesus' day. They made their living based on following the Law, but they miserably failed in life, covering it all up by their self-righteousness and judgmental attitude toward others.

Jesus Christ and obeying HIS WORDS are your only hope of living a fulfilling life.

Here's why.

1. All the Old Testament writings - not some, but all - are about the Person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, "Moses wrote of Me" (John 5:46)

"If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46)

If you are going to believe the writings of Moses, then you are must believe in Christ and listen to Him. You begin by trusting Him for your righteousness before God, and not your obedience to any Law (Philippians 3:7-11). 

Then you read and do what Jesus said (Matthew 7:24). 

2. The Old Testament Scriptures are only understood correctly when the believer looks to Jesus Christ and the work that HE has accomplished in FULFILLING the Law.

“The meaning of all the Scriptures is unlocked by the death and resurrection of Jesus” (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, 54).

3. When Jesus taught others the Old Testament, He taught them of Himself.

"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17–18)

4. "Heaven and earth" is the Old Testament way of describing the conditional covenant God made with Israel, choosing Israel out of all the nations of the world through whom God would reveal His Word.

When God called the Hebrews as His own people He said, "I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say, 'You are My people'" (Isaiah 51:16). Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is called "heaven and earth."

God gave Israel the Law and He "shook the earth," that is He shook the people of Israel.The writer of Hebrews says, "His voice shook the earth then (Mt. Sinai) ..." (Hebrews 12:26). The Hebrews heard God speak at Sinai and they trembled. His voice (the Law) was holiness and pure justice.

God spoke to Israel in the Old Testament and He spoke to heaven and earth. "Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; let the earth hear the words of my mouth" (Deuteronomy 32:1). "Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the Lord speaks, 'Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me'" (Isaiah 1:2). 

5. The Law and the Prophets are perfectly fulfilled in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, so "the heavens and earth" have passed away, but the words of Christ remain. 

The Old has gone. The New has come. 

Throughout the Old Testament, the Prophets said that God's covenant with Israel would one day be replaced with God's new agreement with all the nations of the world.  God's covenant with Israel (found in the Law and the Prophets) revolved around the Temple, the Temple rituals, the Temple sacrifices, and the Temple priesthood. 

This Temple of the Covenant was in Jerusalem. Do you remember how Jesus prophesied the Temple's destruction? (Look at Matthew 24:1-3). Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in a generation. The prophecy of Jesus came to pass in A.D. 70.

Heaven and earth passed away. God's covenant with Israel came to an end. 

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away," said Christ (Matthew 24:35).

The great theologian John Owen (AD 1616-1683) writes in his commentary on II Peter 3:13 about the "new heavens and earth" that God creates after the destruction of the old "heavens and earth"
 "I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state."
The reasons Owen gives that the destruction of the Old Covenant Temple worship is the destruction of "heavens and earth" and the gospel age is the age of the "new heavens in earth" are then given:
    1. Because whatever is here mentioned was to have its peculiar influence on the men of that generation, and
    2. Peter tells them, that after the destruction and judgment that he speaks of (vers. 7-13), ” We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,’ etc. They had this expectation. But what is that promise? Where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isa. lxv. 17. Now, when shall this be that God shall create these new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness? Saith Peter, ” It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell.” But now it is evident from this place of Isaiah 66:21-22 that this is a prophecy of Gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of Gospel ordinances to endure forever. The same thing is so expressed Hebrews 12:26-28.
6. The Person of Moses was the Lawgiver of the Old Covenant, but Christ is the ultimate and Supreme Lawgiver, far superior to Moses. 

The Royal Law Jesus gives is "Love one another as I have loved you." (John 13:34). 

If it is objected that the Royal Law is "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" (James 2:8), I respond: 

"You can't love yourself until you comprehend God's love for you in Jesus Christ; for self-love is only eternal when based on the acceptance and comprehension of the eternal love of God (Jeremiah 31:3). Only when you comprehend His love can you love others in the manner He loves you and in the fullness of the love you have for yourself."

I find it an axiom of human behavior that self-love without the love of God is self-destructive. 

But the love of God transforms.

You can't murder if you don't hate your enemies.
You can't steal if you're only interested in giving.
You can't slander others when you speak words of grace.
You can't commit adultery when you love your wife like Christ loves you.

And on, and on, and on.

There's no 'relaxing'  of any moral code in the New Agreement. The righteousness of Christ's people far exceeds that of the Pharisees. 

Yet, no believer in Jesus Christ is looking to his or her obedience to any law for God's blessings. 

No. We look to Christ, who fulfilled the Law in our stead. 

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory" (2 Corinthians 1:20).

"Yes," says God, "to everything that is good for you."  No conditions. Or rather, all the conditions of God's mercies, benevolent providence, and daily grace are met in Christ. 

7. The establishment of state government is never the Kingdom of God; for God's Kingdom is seen through His reign (the King's dominion) in the hearts of His people.

Christ's Kingdom transcends national, political, and geographical boundaries. 

Yes, we are called to obey government authorities, but state government is not the Kingdom of Christ. 
The state is grounded in God, but it is never expressive of Christ's immediate rule. 

Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

John 18:36, “My [Jesus’s] kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”

Application:

1. If you look to Old Testament Law for your righteousness, you will never rest in the gift of Christ's righteousness which God gives you by faith in Jesus Christ.
2. The Old Testament Law and Prophets focused on external obedience, but faith in Christ during this Kingdom gospel age will circumcise (cut and change) the heart of a sinner. 
3. The believer in Christ won't murder because the believer doesn't hate his enemies, slander his friends, or live in an attitude of contempt. Likewise, every moral commandment in the Old Testament is far superceded by the internal work of Christ's grace in His people during this Kingdom age.
 4. Since "the last days" mentioned in Scripture are the last days of Temple worship, all external forms of worship that miss what it means to worship Christ "in spirit and in truth" will lead you back to bondage to the law, be it Mosaic law, church law, or priestly law.
5. You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.

Postscript: Ladies, if you are kept in bondage by the teaching of "the inherent authority of males," or if you are stifled in serving the Kingdom through your Spirit-giftings by church leaders who focus on Law, then I would suggest you find a place where Christ is held supreme, and the only authority for the church is His final and ultimate Word which endures forever. 

Hear Him!

An "Audacious and Astounding" Traditional Trap

I have spent the last few days researching three various topics of interest for Christians. My research has delved into the nature of hell, the dating of the book of Revelation, and the equality of men and women.

You might be thinking to yourself, "What? Do those topics even matter?"

Yes; they do. I'll tell you why. In reverse order, your marriage, your hope for a better world, and your concept of the nature of God are all affected by your take on these three topics.

Christians who believe the Bible disagree on all three issues.

I personally see the Bible teaching that only those "in Christ" receive the gift of immortality (not every person),  only those "in Christ" are the people of God (Jews or Gentiles), and that everyone "in Christ" is a spiritual equal under the authority of Jesus Christ (there is no inherent spiritual authority of males over females).

But the purpose of this post is not to convince you of my position on any of these three biblical issues. I'd just like to make an observation after listening to hours of Christian debate.

When you hear another person say...
"The church for 20 centuries has taught (such and such).... and for you to claim that the Bible teaches something else is audacious (to me), astounding (to me), and arrogant (of you)."
.... you can expect a weak argument is forthcoming from that person.

Traditional views on difficult biblical doctrines are never necessarily wrong because they are traditional.

But traditionalists who've accepted traditional views are often surprised by other Christians who can articulate from Scripture a differing viewpoint.

As a result, traditionalists may be unprepared to defend from Scripture what they've been taught to believe.

In such situations, a traditionalist will often resort to a sudden expression of incredible surprise rather than a sound exegesis of inspired Scripture. 

You should be very unimpressed what then happens.

Our commitment is to the inspired word of God, not to the traditions of men.

We must never waiver from what we see the Scriptures to teach; even when we come under the verbal assaults of recognized church traditionalists and scholars.

"Moses wrote of Me," Jesus said in John 5:46.

Our concern should be to speak and write in such a way that people are pointed to Jesus Christ through our faithful declarations of inspired Scripture.

When the "audacious and astounding" traditional trap is sprung, know that the Truth is very possibly beginning to prevail.

The Gift of Prosperity Can Be Wrapped In Problems

There is a promise from God in Jeremiah 29:11 that is often quoted by Christians and nearly just as often misinterpreted.

God says: "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Sadly, we sometimes pluck verses from their context and don't fully grasp the meaning of the text.

For example, if you claim Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise that God is about to change your circumstances for the better, then you have wrongly understood God's promise.

When was God's promise given? To whom was God speaking? What occurred to cause God to make this promise? When you ask and answer these questions of context, you'll discover that God is actually telling His people that He is NOT going to change their circumstances, but:
Though I may not take away your problems, I will give you the grace to bloom and prosper where I plant you.
That's the meaning of God's promise in Jeremiah 29:11.

"Bloom where you are planted" (Jeremiah 29:5) is an ancient biblical phrase that has its roots in the context God's promise to prosper His people in Jeremiah 29:11.

Let me show you.

Jeremiah was a prophet to God's people during a very difficult time. In 612 B.C. a wicked and brutal empire took control of the world. The Babylonians (sometimes called the Chaldeans in the Bible) defeated the ancient Assyrians and the Egyptians and took the stage as world conquerors.

Shortly after conquering the Assyrians, the evil Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,  launched the first of his three attacks against Jerusalem and God's people (609/608 B.C. then 597 B.C. and finally 586 B.C.)

Each successive attack during this 21-year time period was more brutal than the previous one, ending in 586 B.C. with the destruction of the Jewish Temple and the desolation of the entire city of Jerusalem.

It was during Nebuchadnezzar's first aggressive move against Jerusalem (609/608 B.C.) that Daniel, his three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), and other Jewish leaders were taken captive. A decade later (597 B.C.), Nebuchadnezzar came back to Jerusalem to get more Jewish artisans and craftsmen to help the Babylonian Empire build better roads, erect stronger walls, and create greater weapons. Nebuchadnezzar didn't take all the Jews into captivity.

More Jews remained in Jerusalem after 597 B.C. than were taken to Babylon as prisoners. One of those who remained in Jerusalem after 597 B.C. was the prophet, Jeremiah. The prophet began placing a yoke around his neck proclaiming to God's people that the Babylonian captivity would last "until the seventy years for Babylon have expired(Jeremiah 29:10 NAS).

In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar made his third and final advance on Jerusalem and destroyed the city and took the majority of God's people back to Babylon as captives. This is what the Bible calls "The Babylonian Exile."

Jeremiah the prophet kept telling God's people that their problems would continue until seven decades had passed. 

The seventy years of problems God's people had with the Babylonians began in 609  B.C. and would only come to an end in October 539 B.C. when the Persian King Cyrus invaded Babylon and conquered the Babylonians and freed the Jews.

Think about that for a moment. For 70 years the Jews would be subjugated by the wicked kings of Babylon.

That's a long time for God's people to be held in Babylonian captivity.

The United States war in Iraq has lasted a little over 15 years. Can you imagine having your husband, son or other loved one in Iraq without having the ability to see him or hear from him for decades?

Or reverse the role. How would you like to be a young Jewish artisan or servant in the Babylonian Empire like Daniel and his friends, only to hear in a letter from Jeremiah that your captivity will only end after Babylon's 70-year world reign comes to an end?

More than a few Jews didn't like hearing Jeremiah's proclamations of long captivity (Jeremiah 25:1-14).

One such Jew was a priest and false prophet named Hananiah. He mocked Jeremiah's prophecy (see Jeremiah 28), ripped the wooden yoke off Jeremiah's neck, and told the people that "God told me the captivity would last just two more years" (Jeremiah 28:3).

The Jews in Jerusalem began believing the false promise that God would change their circumstances soon.

It was at this time that God had Jeremiah send "a letter" to the captives in Babylon. That letter is what we know as Jeremiah 29. God knew that the false hope of a quick release from their bad circumstances would make its way to His people held captive in Babylon. So God speaks to His people through the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29:4-10 and declares:
"Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce (i.e. "bloom where you are planted").' 
Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare. 
 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,' declares the Lord. For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place (Jerusalem)."
God is telling His people that - contrary to the testimony of the Jewish false prophets - the captivity will NOT be short, but their problems as prisoners of war in Babylon will go on for a full 70 years. Go ahead and bloom where you are planted. Have prosperity in the midst of your problems.

It is only after God tells His people to rest where they are (Babylon), and to pray for their wicked masters, and to be at peace in the environment that God has placed them in, that God gives His people the Jeremiah 29:11 promise:
"For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
I'd like to ask you a question. Which prophecy inspires more hope? Is it Hananiah's false prophecy of captivity for less than two years? Or is it Jeremiah's prophecy to "bloom where you are planted" and experience a long captivity of 70 years?

False prophecies about quick changes in circumstances are much more compelling. We want God to take away our problems. But God always has a greater purpose, and His promise is that He will prosper us through our problems. 

Babylon would last as an empire for 70 years. Jeremiah knew this, for God told him (see both Jeremiah 25:1-14 and Jeremiah 29:10). That means when Jeremiah sent his letter to the Jews in Babylon in 597 B.C. the Jews still had an additional fifty-eight years of captivity left. 58 more years of captivity versus 2 more years of captivity.

Hananiah's false prophecy of problems going away quickly sounds better and makes everyone feel better. But God's promise for prosperity in Jeremiah 29:11 is about prospering in the midst of your problems because you know God has a greater purpose, and your problems are part of that purpose.

You exist for God's purposes, not your personal pleasures. And though God's purposes for our lives are always best and good for His greater purpose, they are not all the time comfortable and pleasurable for personal pleasure. Don't waste your sorrows. God is good, and He's told us to bloom where He's planted us, for His glory and for our good.

The common trap laid for us by our enemy is the one where we measure our personal prosperity by how quickly God changes our environment for the better. It would be wise for all of us to stop assessing God's favor in this manner.

God's purposes are much broader than our individual lives. That doesn't mean God doesn't care about me or you, for He does. He gave each of us His only Son.

To "bloom where you are planted," is to trust that God knows the bigger picture and is at work on a grander scale, fulfilling a greater purpose that we can't even understand right now.

So any measurement of my personal prosperity or God's favor for me must always be independent of my current circumstances. God is at work even when I can't see it.

And what God is doing is much grander, much more glorious.

One of the men who heeded Jeremiah's words to "bloom where you are planted" was the prophet, Daniel. We know that Daniel often read Jeremiah's letters while he was in Babylonian captivity (see Daniel 9:2).

Daniel listened and obeyed God's instructions in Jeremiah 29:11. He bloomed where God planted him. He prospered in the midst of problems.

Daniel built a house. He planted a garden for his produce. He prayed for the wicked kings of Babylon. He lived in peace. He was present at the king's palace during October 539 B.C. -- exactly 70 years after Babylon had become a world empire - when the hand of God wrote on the wall "Mene, mene, tekel upharsin."

That very night in October 539 B.C. God's justice was executed against the Babylonians and the Babylonian Empire came to an end.

God had led His servant Cyrus, King of Persia, to divert the Euphrates River and the Persian army crawled under the great walls of Babylon on a dry river bed and took the city as their own. God's purpose for Babylon was over.

Daniel never left Persia to go back to Jerusalem, even though Cyrus allowed the Jews to return and rebuild the Temple and their city.

Daniel's tomb is in Susa (Iran), the ancient capital of Persia (modern Iran). Because the Persians loved Daniel's ability to "foresee the future," they deemed him the greatest "magi" of all.

The Persians revered Daniel, kept his scrolls in Persia and studied them at their universities. The magi in the east came to understand through reading Daniel's scroll (the book of Daniel), that a great King - a King above all Kings - would be born among the Jews.

Five hundred years after Daniel's death, magi from the ancient Babylonian and Persian Empire lands (i.g. "magi from the east") came to Jerusalem and asked Herod:
"Where is He who is born King of the Jews" (Matthew 2:2
The magi eventually sought Jesus because Daniel bloomed where he was planted.

I propose that if you find yourself in a difficult situation that God seems in no hurry to change, and if you learn like the ancient Jews to "bloom where you are planted," there will come a day when those around you will come looking for your King.

That's your greater purpose.

Note: This article is an excerpt from Wade's book Radically New.

Col. Norman A. Lamb, I'll See You Soon My Friend

Norman Lamb at Normandy, France
Today I will officiate the funeral of my long-time friend, Norman Lamb.

I first met Norman in the 1980's when I served as Chairman of the Christian Life Committee for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Norman was an Oklahoma state Senator, floor minority leader, and held the distinction of being voted "most popular Senator" by his peers.

Norman and I became friends.

Many who didn't really know him thought him sometimes bombastic and overbearing. Those of us who grew to love him understood his personality - though larger than life - was nothing in size compared to his heart.

Norman was voted by Emmanuel Enid to be on the Pastor Search Committee in 1992 to look for a new pastor. It was Norman who recommended me to his fellow committee members. I came to Enid as a direct result of my friendship with Norman. I knew little about Enid, but I knew Norman Lamb.

One of my favorite stories about Norman was an event that occurred in 1993. Our staff was in Dallas, Texas on a staff retreat, and we went to a local store to purchase gifts for our wives before coming back to Enid. We had discussed in our staff meeting that morning how it seemed everyone knew Norman Lamb. I decided to play a practical joke on my fellow pastors.

While they were looking for gifts for their wives, I went to the young lady who was at the checkout counter. "Miss, in a moment some men will be coming to the checkout counter. They are my friends. I'm going to casually mention the name Norman Lamb, and I want you to act like you know him."

The young lady looked at me and said, "You mean Norman Lamb of Enid, Oklahoma?"

The joke was on me. That young lady and her husband knew Norman Lamb and it only confirmed to me that Norman had friends all over the United States.

Norman and Son, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb
He was a colonel in the United States Army Reserves. He was an Oklahoma state senator. As a young attorney, Norman served in the Oklahoma County municipal courts. He became a prosecutor and an assistant D.A. in Garfield County.  He would later become the Oklahoma Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, appointed by Gov. Frank Keating, but would serve under several Oklahoma governors and spend more years on the Oklahoma state government cabinet (17 years) than any single person in the history of Oklahoma.

Norman loved people.

He taught the largest Sunday School class at Emmanuel for years. I can't tell you the number of times that Norman and the "Blonde Bomber" (Norman's affectionate name for his wife Belva) hosted people at their home.  I still picture Norman handing out $100 bills to strangers on Christmas Eve, watching as people fell to the curb in tears at the generosity of a complete stranger.

One day Norman picked up a man with car trouble. Norman wound up giving the man a car.

There were times my friendship with Norman hit some rocky roads. A year after I came as pastor, I led the church to change the church constitution, which tied "the sale and use of alcoholic beverages" to church discipline. I explained to the church that drunkenness was a sin according to the Bible, but not the use of alcoholic beverages. I asked them to change the standards of conduct as listed in the constitution to abstinence from drunkenness.

Norman came to my office and told me that if he'd known I was going to do that, he never would have recommended me to Emmanuel. I explained to Norman that it was my fault for not noticing this provision in the constitution, and I understood his feelings, but my conscience was bound to Scripture, not the pleasures of a friend. It rankled Norman that the church voted over 95% to change the constitution, but I think he appreciated the fact I lived by my convictions which I perceived as biblical, even if he disagreed.

By the way, Norman Lamb's grandmother was the President of the Oklahoma Temperance Movement and friends with Carrie Amelia Nation. I appreciated Norman's conviction on this issue.

Col. Lamb reading about Col. Vance
On another occasion in the late 1990's, I was preaching through the book of Romans. We had come to Romans 9 and I was dealing with the very difficult text on the doctrine of God's sovereign election of sinners to salvation. Norman came to my office, sat down, and said, "Wade, I think it's time you stopped preaching on the election." I explained to Norman that I had about four more messages from Romans 9. He offered that he didn't like the series in Romans, and wished I would finish the entire series quickly.

"Norman," I said, "I've got about another year and a half in the book of Romans." He told me he might not attend the services. I explained that since he was the church, everywhere he went he represented Christ, and if he chose not to attend, that was his prerogative, and I appreciated the fact he came to talk to me.

For a while, Norman taught his Sunday School class and left, not staying for church services. When I finished Romans, he was back.

And our friendship grew.

The thing I appreciate about Norman Lamb is that he didn't have to agree with you to be your friend.

In the climate in which we live, both in the church and in the political world, people are drawing lines in the sand - often helped by social media - saying, "Unless you talk like I and believe like I, unless you do everything like I do and affirm all I affirm and disavow all I disavow, we cannot be friends."

Norman Lamb never said that to anyone.

For the past 15 years, until Norman's health declined a couple of years ago, Norman and I traveled to Oklahoma University football games together.

Try walking with an Oklahoma Baptist preacher and an Oklahoma Republican politician through a throng of 90,000 people. It sometimes took us over an hour to get to our seats. We knew so many people, and Norman and I love talking with people and hearing their stories.

Wade and Norman, OU Game 2011
It was through Norman I became friends with Jakie Sandefer. We'd go to Jakie's house in Norman, Oklahoma and eat pre-game tailgate food and fellowship with all the great football players of the past as well as many of the University of Oklahoma coaches, both past, and present.

In 2013 Norman and I traveled to England and Europe. This United States Army Colonel and former Secretary of Veteran's Affairs had never been to the WWII battlefields in Europe. I took him to Normandy. We went to Churchill's Museum in London. We saw the sites.

And we met the people.

Everywhere we went we made friends. One of the leading liberal politicians in England is also named Norman Lamb. You should have seen the conversation at the House of Commons between the Lambs. One was actually a lion, the other a lamb (I bet you can guess which one).

Dinner in Paris, France, 2013
From the United States federal marshalls who rode on the plane with us, to the stewardesses, the museum archivists at St. Paul's, the American Cemetery in Normandy, and Buckingham Palace, to the limo drivers and hotel clerks, Norman A. Lamb made new friends.

Norman A. Lamb was a star football player at Enid High School and a starting quarterback for Cameron University before he broke his back his sophomore year.

He went on to become Bud Wilkinson's inside man at the athletic dorm, reporting to the legendary coach on any problems occurring in the dorm.

Norman Lamb was not a perfect man.

Nobody is.

But when Norman would lead out in prayer, it would be to "The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," for Norman understood that his salvation was tied to the Father's love, the Son's sacrifice, and the Spirit's work.

I've lost many friends to death over the past couple of years. Many close friends.

When we put Norman Lamb's body into the ground in about an hour, I will say goodbye to another very close friend.

But I look forward to the day of renewed fellowship with them all.

For death is not the end; it's only a transition to eternity.

To Norman's wife, Belva, daughters Kim and Fawn and their respective families, and to his son Todd, and Todd's family, our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Norman loved each of you and was proud of you.

Goodbye, Col. Norman A. Lamb.

I'll see you soon my friend.

The New Testament Equality of Males and Females

When I first started blogging in 2005 I was told that the most effective blogs are those that focus on one predominant theme.

Beginning in 2005 I focused like a laser beam on the unethical attempt by International Mission Board trustees to subvert the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole and impose a doctrinal standard on IMB missionaries that not only exceeded the Baptist Faith and Message, but by its very existence, breached the ethical boundaries of trusteeship and violated the constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention.

It was during 2005-2008 (the years I served as an IMB trustee) that I began to see the problems we had in the Southern Baptist Convention went far beyond the International Mission Board. Convention leadership (trustee boards) had left their sola Scriptura convictions, and out of the fear of "liberalism," became fundamentalists--demanding conformity and agreement on tertiary doctrines that had nothing to do with evangelical cooperation on the mission field.

One of those third-tier doctrines was the role and authority of women.

I saw with my own eyes the unethical, unbiblical, and godless treatment of women in the Southern Baptist Convention and I vowed to do something about it.

Do I consider the equality of men and women a first-tier evangelical doctrine?

No; but because fundamentalists among us have elevated "the female subordination of women to men" as a litmus test for evangelical orthodoxy, I now focus on their dysfunctional views of male authority and female subordination to help my fellow Bible-believing, conservative, evangelical Christian friends realize the errors being promulgated.

Female subordination to male authority is promoted by organizations such as The Council for Biblical Manhood and WomanhoodTogether for the Gospel, and The Elephant Room. Mark Driscoll once identified "the subordination of women to men" as one of the four key building blocks of his Resurgence Movement. I

I have addressed the doctrinal fallacies of the Gender Gospel elsewhere, fallacies that plague both liberal feminism and Fundamentalism. In this post, I want to give a few examples of how Bible-believing Christian families, churches, and groups move into dysfunctional, even cultish behavior if female subordination is allowed to be taught and practiced as biblical orthodoxy.

Most people are familiar with the removal of Sheri Klouda as Hebrew professor from Southwestern Theological Seminary by men who hold to female subordination and cringe at the thought of a woman teaching men Hebrew. What many men and women in conservative, evangelical churches don't realize is that there are Sheri Kloudas everywhere--gifted women who are removed from responsible Christian leadership positions and/or forbidden from speaking publicly, teaching others the Word of God, or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to men because they are women
This absurd position is totally contrary to the Gospel, anti-Christian in nature, and the opposite of the teachings of Christ and His apostles. If not stopped, it will plague Christian people with a disease of the soul that is worse than leprosy of the skin. It leads to power-hungry men seeking positions of authority and control, and an almost cultish like god complex. "I am in the image of God. My word is Law. You submit to what I say, and don't dare try to tell me what I should do."  

This anti-Christ doctrine fleshes itself out in conservative Christian homes and churches in various ways. I will give you three examples.

(1). A well-known Southern Baptist pastor recently told his congregation that he decided to move his family to a new house this year. The price of the pastor's old home ($375,000) and the price of the pastor's new home ($500,000) were appropriately not revealed to the congregation. However, they are relevant to this story because the pastor previously told his congregation that they were not to buy more expensive homes, but rather God desired them to set aside that extra money and give it to kingdom causes (i.e. the church). 
Please don't misunderstand me. I advocate freedom for all pastors and all congregations to do as the Spirit leads; even the purchase of million-dollar-homes if that is what the Spirit leads them to do. What I find incongruous is the promotion of a so-called "radical Christianity" by those are actually averse to living radically themselves. People should realize one of the prominent New Testament principles is freedom and Spirit-led living. The problem is when pastors place themselves as an authority over the lives of others to tell them how they are to live, while at the same time doing the opposite of what they advocate. It's much better to be silent on issues the Bible is silent about. 

Anyway, back to the main point.

What most people in this pastor's church are not aware of is that the pastor's new home is within ten miles of his old home. Before the move, the pastor's wife insisted that the family should not move. She had several very good and valid reasons. However, the pastor informed his wife, that as the man in the home--"the one with authority"--he would make the decision to move and overrule any objections he heard. He said moving was "the right thing" to do, and submission to his authority was "the right thing" for her to do.  So the pastor's family moved. I have withheld names, but I do hope the pastor reads this blog and realizes the dysfunctional nature of the argument he had with his wife. Multiply this by hundreds of times in conservative, evangelical homes and you get a picture of the problems created when Christian men have a warped view of their authority.

(2). Lamar Wadsworth wrote to me and told me about his mother's funeral. He wrote:

 "When my mother died, we were not allowed to have her funeral at the Southern Baptist church where she was an active member for over FIFTY years because I had asked two women to read Scripture at the service.  So the funeral had to be held at my home church, the Heritage Baptist Church in Cartersville GA. My church honored my Mother like she was one of their own and gave her the homegoing celebration she deserved. The following November, on All Saints Day--without explanation or comment, my Mother's name was included on the list of members of Heritage Baptist Church who had died in the past year. Bill Leonard said we pulled off the first posthumous transfer of church membership in Baptist history."

Can you believe it? A Southern Baptist Church refuses to allow the funeral of one of the members of their church, a member who faithfully attended and gave to the church for over fifty years because the son of the woman who died wanted two women to read Scripture at his mother's funeral. Again, the church is not being named in this post, but for our purposes, we will call it Ichabod Baptist Church for the glory of God is truly gone from it.

(3).  There is a commentary on the Bible "just for women." Dorothy Patterson and Rhonda
Harrington Kelley, professors of "Women's Studies" and "Women's Ministry" at Southwestern Theological Seminary and New Orleans Theological Seminary respectively, are the two women who wrote the Bible commentary "for women."

The back cover gives the purpose of the commentary: "The Women's Evangelical Commentary is designed to equip women to face cultural issues regarding femininity and gender." This is Christianese lingo for "it will help convince all you women that you should teach only women, work only in the home, and find your identity in the man God has given you."

I had dinner with Paige and Dorothy Patterson in their home in Fort Worth a few years ago. I have never written the details about our conversation, nor will I, but what that dinner did for me was to reinforce my decision to focus on calling out the bizarre and unbiblical views of women that are being taught by our seminary Presidents, their wives, and other 'leaders' in the SBC.

If the Spirit of God leads you, women, to never work outside the home and to focus on having as many children as possible while creating a safe environment in your home for your husband and kids, then go for it! If you are led to the seminary to learn the skills of sewing clothes and folding napkins for a proper Southern home, then more power to you!

If you live your life submitting to what you perceive as "the authority" of men, particularly the husband God has given you, then fine! Just don't dare call it biblical. Call it your cultural preference. Why? Because one day when you die you will not have a man you will call your husband. One day when you die you will exercise your gifts in God-given creative work. One day when you die your entire identity will be in Christ and no other man. One day when you die you will be given a new name, a new place to live and a new purpose for eternity--all based upon who you are as a person-- equal to any man God created.

While you are on earth, I hope you find that the teachings of grace and equality in the Bible prepare you for eternity. But if your cultural preference is to find your identity in a man, then just be honest that you feel safer and more secure in the shadow of man's identity, and if equate your submission to God to that of a visible, physical man, then just be honest about what you are doing. Don't call it biblical Christianity. In fact, it's so unbiblical to the Christianity portrayed in the New Testament that it may be people who are as comfortable as you in your cultural preferences will write a Bible just for you.

Oh, wait, that's what this post is about.

May I suggest that the Bible you have from God is sufficient?

For my fundamentalist friends who've elevated the gender gospel to a primary test of Christian orthodoxy, you have forced me to focus my laser on you to help end the dysfunctional churches and homes you are creating.

(This post is a reblog of a 2012 post by Wade Burleson).