Saturday, May 06, 2006

The King Is Already Here: An Analogy from Air Force One and President George Bush

My twelve year old son Logan and I left our Saturday morning hospital visitation and drove to the south end of our town of Enid to watch Air Force One land at Vance Air Force Base, just about five miles from our home. Marine One was present to shuttle the President of the United States fifty miles to Stillwater, Oklahoma for the commencement ceremonies at Oklahoma State University.

My son and I were amazed at the number of people who parked their cars on the sides of the highways and byways near Vance, stood on the side of the road,and looked up. They were doing nothing, but gazing into the skies --- desiring to catch a glimpse of the soon coming President. As I watched the hundreds of people craning their necks to see Air Force One, I looked down from our perch on the bridge over State Highway 81 and could see into the secure perimeter of Vance. There were probably two hundred people moving around, not in a rush, but maintaining a steady, persistent pace as they moved vehicles, established barriers, and prepped the people preparing to meet the President. These workers, whose necks were not strained to the heavens, were the President's people ---Secret Service, the advance team, and the White House scheduling organizers.

The President's people were used to the President's presence every day. They lived with him, talked with him, and served him. Talk of his coming was irrelevant to them, because he was with them continually. Yet the President's people were surrounded by people who craned their necks to the sky, doing nothing, waiting for the President to come.

Suddenly, an analogy came to mind for me.

We live in a day when people talk of Christ coming to earth. Fictional books are written as if they were fact about the soon return of Jesus Christ. Every now and then pronouncements are made that we are living in "the last days." Some extremists will even set dates and give reasons why "this year" won't pass without Jesus Christ coming again to earth.

I propose to you that the people who have genuinely, personally, and effectually been impacted by Christ's person and power live in the knowledge HIs presence daily. Talk of His Coming is irrelevant. The King is already here. His kingdom includes me. Everything I do, everything I say, everything I accomplish is done in light of Christ's presence. I serve Him, live for Him, and prepare others to meet Him.

Sure, Christ is coming some day in unique ways. He will "come" for me at my death. He will "come" in judgement upon the world to end time as we know it, but to His people this just means we keep doing what He has assigned us to do --- whatever that may be.

Martin Luther was once asked what he would do if he knew Jesus Christ were returning to earth that particular day. His response? "I would do exactly what I intended to do when I awoke -- plant an apple tree in my garden."

If you don't understand Luther's response you might not be one of the King's men. You may be looking to the heavens to catch a glimpse of "The Coming King" and lost sight of the fact that for those who know the King, He is already here.

Have a Great Lord's Day,

Wade Burleson


Hiram Smith said...

Dear Wade:

Paragraph 2 of your May 4 letter to Winston Curtis is copied below with bold italics added. It is followed with a few comments in double brackets. Those comments are followed with a few more paragraph numbers and comments in double brackets. Your letter strikes me as being over the top in its demeaning treatment of Winston Curtis. I just hope he has the grit to follow your example and “stand” his ground in his effort to achieve a fair hearing for his perspectives on how you have conducted your crusade and on the good faith and authority of the IMB and on recent changes there. Time constraints prevent me from commenting fully on all that is wrong with your letter to Winston. But, below are a few of the comments I have written.

Your letter to Winston helps me understand how your fellow trustees were driven to ask that you be removed from the Board. Are you seeking to be known as the SBC’s number one debater and denigrator of your brethren? If so, congratulations, you’re well on the way toward achieving it. Like some defense attorneys, sometimes you seem to think that winning is all that matters.

Paragraph 2 of your letter:
”Winston, I find your letter puzzling, and I can't help but question its ability to help further the cause of missions and evangelism. You state, "I do not by nature seek out controversy or conflict." I believe you Winston, however, I would suggest this "contrary to Winston's nature" request to meet and talk about your "concerns" is an unwise use of our time by promoting future controversy.”

Comments after paragraph 2:
[[Wade, the syntax of your letter to Winston is is not up to your usually high standard. Your letter is much more “puzzling” than anything in Winston’s letter. He simply made a good faith effort to follow biblical (and IMB) guidelines as he addressed what he considered wrong conduct on your part. Clearly, he wants you to change your conduct, but you seem merely bent on making some debating points to squelch him and prevent his request being fully heard. Your claim of being puzzled belies a hint of shopistry on your part. A careful comparison of Winston’s phrasings and your phrasings shows that you are much more experienced and comfortable than Winston when addressing issues about which there is genuine contention. In any debate between the two of you, he would be at a major disadvantage. He apparently lacks both your acknowledged appetite for debate and your disposition for indulging in that old monastic exercise that seldom leads to any good end. But, he expresses a powerful element of earnest integrity and good faith. His language seems not likely to ever convey any hint of sophistry, which adds greatly to the persuasive appeal of his words of correction and admonition.]]

[[What I have marked with bold italics above may generally be given great weight in secular settings because of their sophisticated and confident tone. Such confidence suggests that the writer is expert and therefore entitled to deference. But, this issue is a spiritual one in which other indices and ingredients are more important. Winston’s evident discomfort adds persuasive weight to his words. It is obvious that he has no interest in seeking to belittle or demean your concerns. He clearly wants you, his brother in Christ, to defend or correct some of the things you have said and positions you have taken. But your response simply belittles and denigrates his thoughts, calling them “puzzling” and “unwise.” Then you proceed to ignore the most profoundly serious assertion that he makes--namely, your “misrepresentation of the facts.” In any forum of equity, until the “facts” are determined and agreed to, the determination of opinions, judgements and preferences should be suspended. But, you have chosen to gloss over and completely ignore this principal assertion of his letter—namely, that you very significantly misrepresented an important fact at a very critical time in your crusade.]]

[[Wade, given present realities, how in the world can you assert that a private discussion of differences with a brother and fellow trustee will result in “promoting future controversy”? Was your highly defensive response triggered by Winston not being an expert accuser? Or, have you now adopted a general policy of limiting your discussion of these issues to blogs, to insider groups like the Memphis 30 and to settings with larger audiences? Your elaborate letter declining Winston’s request does not comport with the openness you declared when you began your crusade. Are you sure that in this instance you are not primarily trying to avoid being confronted with valid criticisms of conduct? You initiated your crusade with apparently very ligitimate, reasonable and limited objectives? But, obviously the number of purposes included in your mission have been expanded and elevated. Your objectives have changed, just as your willingness to hear and discuss differences with a Christian brother has changed. What purposes are now included among the objectives you are pursuing? Some of your CBF based supporters say your new goal seems to be the SBC presidency this year. They say the following:
“The dark horse in this year's presidential election could be Wade Burleson, the International Mission Board trustee whose complaints about exclusionary IMB policies almost cost him his spot on the board.
“He has become a favorite of the younger conservatives, especially the bloggers who have been tracking the IMB turmoil. Burleson told ABP in March he is not interested in denominational politics. But he has sounded more and more open to a possible nomination in his recent weblog postings.
“In a May 2 post that read like a campaign speech, . . .” etc. (ABP News)
In another article they say that you are only “echoing” the views of Jimmy Draper, suggesting that you may have his support in your crusade attacking the leadership of conservatives in the SBC.]]

Comment after paragraph 3:
[[Considering your track record, are you the one to be accusing others of “creating controversy by criticizing Board approved policy”? A clearer exposition of the details of what might and might not be done under New Directions cannot hurt. What is wrong with openly discussing these matters with pointed questions about doctrinal and polity delimitations? Others also might like to know more about the need for New Directions, its purposes and particularly its delimitations.]]

Comment after paragraph 5:
[[Wade, you do not wear well the mantle, “ I am only one of 89 trustees.” This label you chose does not fit you at all. What trustee is the most visible member of the IMB? Who was the only one of 89 to meet with pastors in Oklahoma? Weren’t you the only trustee to assert to a group of pastors that nothing “precipitated the guidelines.” The Memphis 30 surely addressed some of the topics within New Directions, didn’t you? Was Winston and other trustees invited to that conclave? If you heard or entered into discussion of New Directions topics there, why are you now unwilling to do so with a fellow trustee, who I suppose was not invited?]]

Comment after paragraph 10:
[[What is your justification, in paragraph ten, for quoting the mispelling of a word the second time, along with your erudite (sic). This gesture smacks of ridiculing the brother whom you say you love. Such an unkind gesture does not match your own descriptions of your own standards of conduct. Insensitiveness and unkindness toward our brother in Christ does not fit what I like to picture as being part of your conduct. Standard English suggests no need to structure these terms as direct quotations in paragraph ten. Please search your heart for the reasons that factored into your choice of that phrasing. To simply have used the terms ‘baptism and tolerance of glossolalia’ would have been better writing style, more informative, clearer and kind. The phrasing that you chose lacks all of these qualities.]]

Comments after paragraph 21:
[[Wade, obviously you consider Winston biblically wrong in his endorsement of our historic church covenant’s unequivocal rejection of how you and your church stand on the consumption and use of alcoholic beverages. You defended your stand favoring the drinking of alcoholic beverages in defiance of the Baptist church covenant. But, you failed to defend your own conduct described as misrepresenting facts, when you were asked, “was there anything at the Board that precipitated the guidelines?” If Winston was wrong on this point he should be told so by you. If not, we all should be told so by you. Please don’t sluff off such an important observation? Though, to you, it probably reads more like an accusation than an observation. If you gave that erroneous answer in the context of that time and that place, that was no trivial matter. Please state what you see as the truth of this matter? If Winston was accurate, should this be added to the list of repentances by one of the Memphis 30? If not, should Winston be the one repenting?]]

[[In view of what Winston wrote, surely the issues he raised merit you meeting with your fellow Oklahoma trustee. He obviously is seeking to follow the biblical model for correcting a brother trustee who might have been less than accurate and forthright in a very important forum at a very critical time in the development of a highly visible complaint against the IMB. That limited complaint seems now to have grown into a broadside attack against the entire SBC. Please meet with Winston on his terms and clear up this matter according to biblical and Board guidelines. Standing accused as you do, shouldn’t you go quickly to meet Winston in person and discuss the matters he cited with such unpuzzling clarity. You might learn something of great profit from such a meeting. The experience could be profitable for you and thus for us all. At least you might solve your ‘puzzling’ problem.]]

Wade, when you began this quest several months ago, I wrote you expressing my confidence that you would not be removed from the IMB and that you would eventually become chairman with the support of those who then differed with you. At that point I was even thinking of you in terms of eventually becoming president of the Convention. But now, despite your large cadre of CBF supporters, I think of you in more tragic terms. Oh, what might have been! If you had only kept to your originally stated purpose and clearly delimited objectives!

In service to our King,

PS: My apologies for bad spelling and grammar, my checkers are out of sort. said...


I struggle with undertanding the reason for your comment on this particular post. May I suggest you comment on the appropriate post next time?

Otherwise, thanks for your comments.


Anonymous said...


Great Post--the Analogy was the best! See you in the morning.


Anonymous said...

I believe someone has been in the "grip of he grape" The long blog by another brother was so out of context. In the old days of politics, " innoculous injection" was often used. I.e, I'm not going to say he is a womanizer or an alcholic or a homosexual. He already has said it.

Todays blog is so appropriate. Here comes the "King" ,a winebibber and a glutton. I look forward to that day when I sit down at a communion table with my Lord and partake of the real wine.

Charlie said...


In wondering why you commented on this post, I overlooked that you asked questions I did not answer. So, here are some answers to your questions.

Hiram's Question: "Wade, given present realities, how in the world can you assert that a private discussion of differences with a brother and fellow trustee will result in “promoting future controversy”?

Wade's Answer: Winston did not want the issues private, for he stated in his email it was for "public consumption." In addition, he made the email public prior to any contact with me by sending it to several people before I ever saw it. Further, Winston said to me over the phone that he wanted it all public. That is "how in the world" I said a private discussion would not be good. The intention was for it to be public, and frankly, I prefer public rather than a closed door session, a decision made, a press release, and me bound by a new policy not to criticize a Board action. Thanks for asking.

Hiram's Question: "Was your highly defensive response triggered by Winston not being an expert accuser?"

Wade's Answer: I don't consider my response highly defensive, only a statement of facts and my feelings. If there truly is defensiveness it is present only because I do not relish the thought of any further closed door EC meetings to deal with "concrerns" with Wade. By the way, Hiram, you keep using the word "conduct." Not once did Winston even mention my "conduct," he mentions my "beliefs."

Hiram's Question: "Are you sure that in this instance you are not primarily trying to avoid being confronted with valid criticisms of conduct?"

Wade's Answer: I have a clear conscience and sleep quite well knowing my conduct and deportment in all matters associated with the IMB has been gracious and kind. Again, I think you are confused. The issue is what I believe, not how I behave.

Hiram's Question (really a statement) But, you have chosen to gloss over and completely ignore this principal assertion of his letter—namely, that you very significantly misrepresented an important fact at a very critical time in your crusade.

Wade's Answer: I stand by every word, sentence. and paragraph I have written. Show me my "misrepresentation of facts" and I will vigorously defend what I have written or I will publicly repent. I stand ready to defend every word. What is the exact charge of misrepresentation Mr. Hiram? If it is "nothing precipitated the guidelines" I answer that charge in the last answer of this comment.

Hiram's Question: "What purposes are now included among the objectives you are pursuing? Some of your CBF based supporters say your new goal seems to be the SBC presidency this year"

Wade's Answer: As I have stated previously, the CBF does not like Wade Burleson. Further, only I know the goals I have, and I can assure you I have no "goal" of becoming the President of the SBC. Period. That is in the hands of God, not mine or anybody elses, so why set it as a goal. I don't even know if He would even have me consent to nomination.

Then there is the matter of actually winning the election if I were to allow my name to be nominated. It is incredulous to think, yea, veritably impossible to comprehend how a person can be elected President of the SBC who just six months before was the first person in the history of the 161 year old SBC to be recommended for removal from a SBC Board, only to have that same motion unanimously rescinded 60 days later.

For that person to be elected President of the SBC is about as likely as the IMB ever having a President that is not qualified to serve as a missionary for the SBC.

Hiram's Question: "I am only one of 89 trustees.” This label you chose does not fit you at all. What trustee is the most visible member of the IMB? Who was the only one of 89 to meet with pastors in Oklahoma? Weren’t you the only trustee to assert to a group of pastors that nothing “precipitated the guidelines.”

Answer: I stand by my statement that the new policies were not needed, and that the old policies under the current administration were doing quite well. Dr. Rankin has said as such on several occasions himself. I must be careful here to only answer your question and not criticize the new policies, which I have not.

I think that is all of the questions. Have a great Lord's Day.



Anonymous said...

The longer I read Hiram Smith criticism of you, the sleeper and madder I got. (Yes, madder is the word that fits because anger at this ungodly hour of night doesn’t fit at all.)
I was disgusted because I couldn’t understand what he saying. It didn’t make sense, so I didn’t mind at all when you lied to him.
Yes Wade, you did when you told him you struggled to understand why he had written on the wrong post. Everybody knows the reason. He wanted his words to be posted first as HEADLINES ON THE FRONT PAGE. (Move over, Hiram, I’m next.)

Picky, picky, picky. Anything to distract from the main goal of changing the SBC for a better direction to carry on the Great Commission. Why will the powers resist this? Because it shows they came up short in leading the wrong way. Their way is DOCTRINE…our way or the highway. MISSIONS is the glue that will unite Baptists.
Rex Ray

Bob Cleveland said...


Well I wasn't going to jump in on this, but I will (in response to Hiram Smith's letter).

1) Winston Curtis expressed misgivings about a couple things, including your qualifications to be a Trustee. Nothing wrong with having misgivings.

2) The Bible says if he has something against you, the instruction is to take that to you privately, first. I understand that did not happen. If that is the case, Mr. Smith violated that instruction.

3) Not only did he approach the Trustees with this, rather than you, but he stipulated that the differences were for "public consumption".

4) He brought in a matter that had not previously been addressed, namely your stance on alcohol, and implied something that was not true (support for the alcoholic beverage industry).

5) As if biblical instruction were not sufficient to guide our actions, the BoT itself enacted Rule #7 in the Code of Conduct (if that's the proper term) mandating that Trustees, should they encounter a difference that might be a hindrance to working together, that it be handled as scripture mandates.

Bottom line: this is how leadership of the IMB is to act? I mentioned this to you privately, but I will say it here: you didn't cause the "mess" we see now. It's why you're there. God isn't about to let this sort of willful violation of scriptural mandates go on, in my opinion. At least I hope that's the case. Another alternative is to raise up the IMB as a good bad example, a la local churches I know of that have bowed their backs against authority.

One can always find things in style to snipe at, and we can always say something better than someone else does. I don't find anything wrong with how you answered Mr. Curtis, and in fact, you are to be commended for not pointing out the things listed above.

Sadly, I do not expect anything to be made of how he handled his differences with you.

Intolerance for differing views seems much more widespread, among folks who ought to know better, than I would have imagined.

I guess George Orwell really nailed it when he said all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.

Anonymous said...

I see the GLORY of this post (The KING is Here) and I know your heart. I'am a 70 year old Christian and I know I will meet you one day when the elect will be in ALL their GLORY. GOD needs more like you here NOW to show the present Glory of which you post and to defend the TRUTH!
A brother in CHRIST

I don't know any thing about you or where you come from. I see nothing but HATE in your postings, so I assume you are part of the OLD GUARD that does not like the word ELECT or PREDESTINATION in the BIBLE.
I'am including a guote from J.I. Packer on Maturity and Change.

J.I.Packer says
Characteristics of Maturity

1. The first mark of maturity is the ability to deal constructively with reality to face facts, to not cover up reality or call it something else, but to deal with it as it is. Mature people do not kid themselves.

2. The second mark is, adapting quickly to change. We all experience change, whether it be physical, at work, in the family, or whatever. I am amazed at how much some of you have changed through the years while I remain exactly the same! Immature people resist change. It makes them nervous. But the mark of maturity is to adapt to change because change is inevitable.

3. The third mark is freedom from the symptoms of tension and anxiety. The worried look, the frown, the ulcers, the palpitations of the heart -- come because you are upset, anxious and worried. Maturing means you have begun to see that God is in control of this world. He is working out purposes that you do not always understand, but you accept it. He will take you through the deep water, not drown you in it. Maturity means you are learning to trust.

4 Fourth, it means to be satisfied more with giving than receiving. Some of you have recently learned that the joy of Christmas is not getting presents but giving them. To see the joy in someone else's face when they get something they either need or want. That is a sign you are growing up. You are discovering the true values of life.

5. The fifth mark is, to relate to others with consistency, helpfulness and mutual satisfaction. Maturity is learning to get along with other people, to be a help, not a hindrance, to contribute to the solution and not to be always a part of the problem.

6. Finally, maturity is sublimating and redirecting anger to constructive ends. Maturity is the ability to use the adrenaline that anger creates, not to lose your temper and add to the problem, but to correct a situation or to contribute to changing the nature of the difficulty.

WTJeff said...


Great post! I often find when I'm busy working for the King, I have less time to criticize other Christians. My focus stays on doing what the Lord has given me to do.

I fear for you, brother. I firmly believe the Lord has chosen you for such a time as this, but it's becoming increasingly obvious that your reputation will be drug through the mud as people extrapolate such things as taking a biblical stance on alcohol into support of the alcoholic beverage industry.

Please know I'll continue praying for you -- and stay busy serving the King.


texaspreterist said...

Wade said:

For that person to be elected President of the SBC is about as likely as the IMB ever having a President that is not qualified to serve as a missionary for the SBC.


Cate Hanchez said...

I was greatly touched by this post. I have just had a discussion with the 4th and 5th graders that I teach in Sunday School about how Christians are living in the Kingdom all the time. We read from the first chapter of Acts before Jesus' ascension when the disciples asked if the time had come for Him to set up His kingdom, and he told them that it wasn't for them to know the times or dates that the Father has set by His own authority. We talked about how the Holy Spirit came and gave them power and courage. The discussion centered around the courage we need to live in the kingdom and how God gives us that courage through the Holy Spirit. I can't wait to give them the analogy about waiting for the President and serving the President. What a blessing you are to so many.

Anonymous said...

Your comments regarding the coming of the President are as appropriate as any I have ever read.
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiousity, I wonder how many who are claiming to know the reason Hiram Smith wrote his comment or are assuming he is part of the old guard that does not like the word "Elect" or are making "uninnoculous injections" about him have agreed to the Memphis statement, especially

"We publicly repent of having turned a blind eye to wickedness in our convention, especially when that evil has taken the form of slanderous, unsubstantiated accusations and malicious character assassination against our Christian brothers.

Therefore, we commit ourselves to confront lovingly any person in our denomination, regardless of the office or title that person holds, who disparages the name of our Lord by appropriating venomous epithets against our brothers and sisters in Christ, and thus divides our fellowship by careless and unchaste speech."

Just looking for consistency.
Perhaps, there is wisdom in having concerns about blogs, especially in light of the Memphis Declaration.

And yes, if Hiram agreed to the Memphis Declaration one should search for consistency there too.

Desiring Christian conduct that matches speech, in my life, first but also in the lives of others.

Jack Maddox said...

Wade, In the way of analogy I Guess I see your point in your post...however, not knowing your eschatological position (and not really that it matters in light of eternity) I wonder, do you view the future Kingdom as being distinct and separate from this present age or do you position yourself in more of a amillennial light? Again, if you choose not to answer that’s cool, I know folks will make hey about ones position concerning such matters, but I for one do believe that ones millennial view says a great deal about their approach to scripture and even their application as such. I guess I am simply asking, am I making too much about your 'analogy' and same comments? If so, set me straight, if not, perhaps some explanation would be helpful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post! we are praying for you as the May trustee meetings approach. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I loved your post today. Made me very happy to read it. I have no idea what kind of millinnielist I am... other than I just don't worry about it. Whether some of Revelation has already happened, none has happened, I'll be here... I won't be here... I don't know! And I don't wrestle with it. God is God and what He chooses to do and when He chooses to do it is all fine by me. My life is to be lived for Him regardless.

Anonymous said...

too bad new comments don't show up at the top... that would be a nice feature :)

Arkansas Razorbaptist said...


It appears that you have received the memo to attack Wade Burleson.

The funny thing is you have angered many of us on this board, but I doubt Wade harbored any bitterness toward you upon reading your words.

Anonymous said...

A quote from your site last Thurs:
(advice to Wade) "Expect to hear in the next few days the beginning of their real campaign which is going to be that you are "backed" by CBF and other moderates." You thought it was funny. I just think it is untrue (lies) and mean. H. Smith both said and implied, multiple times, that very thing. It was first told to me by an IMB trustee. Count on it.
I'm glad Smith apologized for his spelling. I was afraid you might
{sic} his "sluff" and he thinks that is mean.

Keith Price said...


We talked about this very subject with our youth last Thursday. Wish I would have had your post for an illustration!

Anonymous said...

You state that your becoming president of the SBC is about as likely as the IMB having a president who is not qualified to serve as a missionary under IMB appointment.

Your analogy is a bit off. It seems as if, under the new guidelines for screening candidates for appointment, we do have an IMB president who does not qualify for appointment.

I am under complete persuasion that most of the rhetoric being posted is unnecessary if only all of us became busy proclaiming the gospel by word and deed.

God bless your ministry.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the on target post. It is amazing that the issues that so often side-track us are not that important in the end.

I read one theologian who classified himself as a pro-millenialist: "If God wants to inaugurate a millenium, then I'm all for it." In the meantime, there is work to be done.

Can we ever get back to the task of missions as the essential, rather than striving for agreement on issues that will do little more than divide us? I don't always agree with myself. That being the case, how will doctrinal positions ever be useful to unite people of limited and varied understanding? God's grace covers for my lack of understanding. My limitations do not make the saving work of Christ Jesus inadequate.

The folks I visit in the hospital want to know about God's grace, love, and presence. Too bad we can't focus on the same heart issues as a convention and its agencies.

"My peace I give to you, not as the world gives..." May His peace guide us in the path of service to the One we acclaim as Lord.