Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thankful for the Encouragement

Many people have written me very encouraging letters and emails. I am thankful for them all and today would like to share one from a person who lifted my spirits this week. Read on . . .

"Your blog posts are great. I especially took note of the one dated April 4. Interestingly--and hopefully this will spur you on--recently I've been thinking about something John Piper said a few years ago, in a sermon referring to the late pastor John Newton. In his message Piper argued that debating truth--and being relentless in pursuing and discussing that truth--is not only important, but it's imperative. We must guard the truth. Of course, people will assert that being a great debater of the truth, and standing firm in it, kills all possible joy. However, Piper opened the Word to Acts 15, where many people were saying that Gentiles must be circumcised in order to be saved. And what happened? Paul and others were called to the debate this issue. Joy killers? Look at v. 3: "So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers."

Amazing. Here are Paul and Barnabas--at the center of theological controversy--still bringing great joy to those around them. Can this truly be done--even in the SBC? It must be done, if we're to survive and thrive in making much of God among the nations. We have no excuses. We must remain strong in our declaration of the truth, and all the while be full of much grace.

After all, our people--whether pastor, lay person, trustee, or M--are real people. With real hurts, real problems, real life. This isn't a people issue. As you've clearly stated on numerous occasions, this is about principles, not an attack on people. And it never was intended to be against people. Therefore, we can and should have open dialogue on such matters as these. There's a way--as already pointed out earlier--to speak truth, yet be full of grace and bring much joy. We may be embattled, as it were, in controversy, but there's no reason to become embittered.

Stay strong, my friend."

With people like this for encouragers it is easy to stay strong.

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...


He made me smile, too, after I reread the post after reading the comments from yesterday that I missed. Jesus Christ has all things under His control. This will all work out.

If I can, on another note...I would like to ask your advice as well as the many other wise souls who read your blog. Wade, if you feel this is inappropriate, then please, don't post this and just send me an email. But here is my dilemma...

The church I pastor had a business meeting last month in which CP giving was discussed. Now, we are pretty poor, as churches go, but when we are able, we attempt to give, by policy, 9.5% of budget to CP and 9.5% to our association. We have not always been able to do this and keep our lights on, but we have tried.

Now, I serve a pretty well informed group of Oklahoma Baptists. They have been keeping up with the IMB scandle involving you and recent M's. They also look hard at how our CP money is spent in Oklahoma. I receive, on average, a one to three inch thick stack of correspondence, colorful flyers, CD's, DVD's, invitations to different retreats (all of which cost more than I can afford to attend) and other high-priced publications from umteen different departments at BGCO. A duplicate set, and more, goes to the church. All of these publications are high quality stuff, and nearly all completely worthless to us in ministering to our community.

The SBC bureaucracy is so thick, with so many officers and departments it has become a model for bloat. My treasurer came armed with a lot of stats and figures. (Does it really cost $100,000 to put on a trustee meeting? I have seen this figure. Do CP monies pay for their families to go and vacation during the meeting? I have heard this, too) Along with all the stuff going on at IMB, you, the M's, the new policies and such, the motion was made and seconded to halt all CP donations from the church, but continue to support the association, the monies which would have gone to CP to be placed aside for potential use in other mission projects if Convention folks did not get their collective act together. It was in this meeting that the statement about not caring if SBC was on the sign outside was made. The motion obviously had the votes to pass.

After more discussion in which more time was asked for to gather additional info, the motion was tabled until the next business meeting. The next business meeting is Sunday, and I don't have anything better to report, especially with the story about the "D's" breaking, etc. The climate in the convention has not changed much, and tension is high. My folks love missions, but they don't want to see their money wasted, especially when we could place it to good use by feeding our mostly lower class surrounding area and sharing the gospel in this manner.

What can you tell me which would help me one way or the other. No sales pitch, I need some facts.

Frankly, the minutes from the January meeting don't help the CP cause very much. We're simple people, and don't see the need for luxuries, frufru and meetings in far away places when much of the same work could be accomplished nowadays with a conference call or internet meeting. Seems like a lot of money is spent on administration, publications, sales pitches and officer salaries that could be used much better elsewhere.

I know this is not the purpose of today's blog, but I need some help and honest advice. And I guess I could use a little of that encouragement, too!

Anonymous said...


As I sit in CA I am encouraged by the Words of our Lord as He continues to speak to us through His Word, Spirit and His body throughout the world. May you be encouraged also by a remembrance He brings to my mind.

It was 1990 in Ft. Worth in Dr. Vaughn's class at SWBTS. That day he began his class differently than before. He said, "Yesterday my mentor died. F.F. Bruce passed away. I remember what he told me once. Something which I have never forgotten. 'Follow the truth. Follow the truth whereever it may lead. Even if you must give up your most cherished theological posessions.'"

That statement was seared into my mind and heart and brought close again this week. I had the joy of meeting 2 days this week with 28 others in CA. We sought the truth, discussed it, differed in our understandings at times, debated what our Lord meant. Yet we left closer than when we came. We left with a desire greater than ever to know the truth by abiding in Him and His Word.

Thank you, and others, for "holding the rope" in the USA. Thank you for "following the truth" in discussion. Thank you for seeking cooperation together for the sake of the Kingdom.

"Doc" in CA

thehowardsoutthere said...

Mr Burleson,

My wife and I are missionaries with an interdenominational sending agency and are members of a Southern Baptist Church in Texas. When we arrived home on furlough we began hearing about the situation with the IMB and have followed it as closely as we could. In the first few days we thanked God that we had not chosen the IMB but within a week we received a letter from our main sending church asking us to sign a document that denied the working of God through the gifts of His Spirit since the close of the New Testament era and requesting a promise that we would not even work with people who were in any way involved with the "charismatic movement." We could not in good conscience sign such a document and we feared that they would no longer support us.

The point is that the schism going on within the SBC over missionary work is in no way bounded by the SBC. There is a frontal demonic assault on the church of Jesus Christ in our day in this area of missions cooperation. Keep on fighting brother. There is no greater danger to the cause of world evangelization,not hostile governments nor hostile religions, than Christians' unwillingness to humbly submit to one another despite their doctrinal differences in order to work with one another in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. My prayer for you today is that your words would be heard and headed in every denomination whose hearts burn for the lost to KNOW HIM whom it is life to know. said...


I think you ask some excellent questions.

On the one hand I would say, "The work being done through our Cooperative Program giving is unsurpassed in the history of the SBC."

On the other hand, I can see the dilemma your church is in.

Having been President of the BGCO, I can assure you that the work going on at our State convention is the finest in 50 years.

That is an unbiased opinon -- I am not paid by the BGCO, but I know the work inside and out.

I do believe there is waste on the SBC level. However, the waste is miniscule compared to the good being done, and there are some "young leaders" who are beginning to get things in line.

So in short, I am not of the opinion that someone should tell a church what they should give to the CP, but I can say I am leading my church to increase CP because of the good I am seeing.

So . . . I hope that helps.


Anonymous said...


You are one of the most positive men I have ever met! (though I guess I haven't really met you, yet)

Anyway, thanks. I will take your word on the BGCO. As they used to say in south Arkansas--I ain't never seen ya spin a yarn on me yet! :))

I don't know what will happen. I want the most good for the Kingdom. I really appreciate you being candid with me.

I also don't think the older generation of leaders understand yet what exactly the internet means for communication. In the old days, would I be able to sit down and hold a conversation on a personal level with a big church pastor/doctor of theology/IMB trustee and ask questions like these? I'm just a bivocational/BA in History/policeman preacher of a church of less than 50 rural country folks! I'd have to call for an appointment,ahhh maybe next tuesday at say 3pm you could squeeze me in? After I sat in the outer office with your secretary for about 10 minutes, feeling rather ill at ease (or maybe she would, I don't I said, you haven't actually met me yet) you'd come out and shake my hand, check your watch and say "Good to meet you---and what can I do for you today?" When I asked you my rather mundane and slightly impertinent questions, you'd look down at your desk wondering what the fastest way to get me back out the door would be. (you may be, anyway :) ) After spinning what would seem to you to be a wise sounding and fair reply--without letting too much cat out of the bag--you'd stand and reach out across the desk and thank me for my visit. Next thing you know, I'd be back in the parking lot trying to remember what you'd said. (chuckle)

That is still the way a lot of the older leaders seem to think. "You young bucks don't have a right to speak to me on even terms--you don't have the age/credentials/background for me to spend my precious time on you." But here, all things are equal. You're just Wade, I'm just Greg, and we're just brothers in Christ. That is what I am most proud of you about!!! You post a blog, I add my thoughts and ask my questions when I see it in the morning, then after my meetings/calls etc, I come back to your site and see what everybody thinks. Even playing surface. True fellowship, with you and Marty and Bob, Mix, all the "M"'s...why can't it be like this with all of our coworkers in Christ throughout the SBC?

Thanks again, Wade. Isn't it a beautiful day outside?


Anonymous said...

As you said recently, I would like to "gently disagree" with Greg! I work with young men, have been active in denominational work, love the advances in technology and have worked with folks from preschool to "postschool" (above 80), have been privileged to work with small (3, including me and my wife) churches, several times bi-vocationally as the Lord has led! I find people are as varied as the circumstances! Now, admittedly, I'm in my second childhood and havin' a "blast"! I've posted my sentiment before.... but I would encourage anyone, frankly, "free church" polity folks too, even if it means dual alliance, to support CP giving and SBC Mission Agencies. The reason, and here, I agree with "thehowardsoutthere"! While serving in another denomination, on several occasions I accompanied a wealthy Deacon who owned a plane. We made retieval flights to bring home Missionaries that were left stranded either because of arbitrary issues or loss of deputation support caused by fellowship upheaval or regional economic changes.
A church will look far and wide without finding an Instrument that will exceed the SBC Mission sending Agencies ability to support and send people economically! I would also wholeheartedly agree with your "encourager" for today!

Anonymous said...

After reading this post I was thinking about saying something nice and encouraging, and how good it is to be affirmed. Also thought of mentioning memories of missionaries speaking of looking forward to upcoming birthdays, knowing many people would be praying for them because of the prayer calendar. I do want to praise you, Wade, for trying to make a difference.

Then I read Greg Cloud’s comment. Hadn’t even thought of some of the reasons his church wants to hold back money. But I have heard enough other reasons for people holding back money they would have sent to the SBC, and redirecting that money elsewhere. One wonders if the people who did the things that caused people to cut back giving to the SBC were so arrogant they thought the church members would continue giving at their same rate no matter what the hierarchy (yes, a very unbaptist term, but that’s what it has become) did. Or maybe they figured a small percentage from a their megachurches was worth more than the large percentages from smaller churches. (No further comment on that thought.) Not only that, but from what I have read, many in the chosen leadership came from churches who gave only a small percentage of their budget to the Cooperative Program. See It speaks of pastors and churches who reduced CP giving as they “followed the example of those who led them.” It contrasts 1984's giving percentage with today’s. What has happened in that time period? Many were excluded from the SBC and others left or cut back giving because of things that were done. In my church over a period of years we have cut back gradually from 18% to 10% for various reasons, most of which were local and had nothing to do with changes in the SBC. But many who would have been the most likely to argue against the cuts (but didn’t) were those who disagreed with the changes in the SBC and so didn’t mind seeing less going there.

Unfortunately I don’t have an answer that I think anyone in SBC leadership wants to hear. It will take a great amount of change to bring back those who have turned away, and I’m afraid anything now would be too little too late. Wade, you seem to be trying, and I wish you well.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the input. Even the "gentle disagreements"! That is what I asked for, and what I need. It's nearly 5am now on Sunday, and I have that good feeling I get when I know the Lord is working.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!!