Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Philospher's Stone of Relationships

18th century scientists, including the brilliant Isaac Newton, were persuaded that it was possible to turn base metals into precious metals. It's hard for people today to grasp how the man who gave us Newton's laws of physics could be so captivated by a search for the philosopher's stone,  that magical rock whose touch turns base metals into precious metals.

But the desire to turn what is common into into something valuable fascinates us all. Unlike alchemy, it does seem possible for a person to turn an ordinary relationship into an extra special one.

Here's how.

There is a principle in relationships that acts like the mythical philosopher's stone. It's very application has the ability to turn an ordinary relationship into a golden one. Here is the principle:
"Every external action is the direct result of an internal reaction; when Jesus calms the core, intimacy grows all the more."
Here's how it works. If your spouse becomes accusatory and you feel under attack, the person whose core is calm can delight that his or her spouse is actually feeling. That may sound strange, so reread the preceding sentence again. It is good that people feel. Only psychopaths don't feel. It's even better that people tell you how they feel. They're giving you a peak inside them. If your internal core is under the control of Christ, you can allow your spouse to feel without becoming defensive, even if those feelings come out in the form of an attack.

For example, there are some marriages where one or both spouses are in the habit of bringing up past failures. If your one of those marriages, but your core is calmed by Christ and you find yourself resting in His forgiveness, then it's easier to allow your spouse to feel hurt and wounded and not become defensive.

Likewise, if your spouse is accusatory of about the present, your response to the accusations may indicate whether or not Jesus is calming your core. When you are in a relationship where it is being pointed out that you are deficient in your performance (whatever that  may be), if your inner core is under the control of Christ you can acknowledge the deficiency (or perceived deficiency) and validate your spouse's feelings because your true and eternal acceptance is settled by the One who ultimately counts. God's acceptance of you is not based upon your performance, and that knowledge is the only thing that ultimately settles your internal core to allow your spouse to feel you are inadequate.

Accepted people accept people. Forgiven people forgive people. Loved people love people. Encouraged people encourage people.

You get the idea. The philosopher's stone of all relationships is the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can calm our internal cores. Once He does, every external actions springs from a healthy inner core.

If you are in a marriage where meltdowns are a common occurrence, reflect a while on the statement "every external action is the direct result of an internal reaction; when Jesus calms the core, intimacy grows all the more."

The definition of intimacy is 'into-me-you-see.' When you allow your spouse to feel; when you don't take personally the meltdown of the one you love; when you let God take care of your spouse's internal satisfaction and refuse to depend on anyone else's acceptance but God's; when you understand that the only person you can control is you, and God is at work in you completing what He began when Christ took up residence inside you by His Spirit; then you can let your spouse struggle, feel, be in internal turmoil and be okay with it and love your spouse 100% of the time.

It takes two people to fight, and the Bible says 'you get angry because you don't get what you desire." What do you desire internally? Acceptance? Forgiveness? Love? You have it from God in Christ. Now let your spouse feel and be okay with how he or she feels, because your love should not depend on the performance of your spouse. "By this will others know that we are His... when we love one another."

Too many people are not allowed to feel in relationships, because feelings are taken by the other person as their own reality. When it is said, "I feel disappointed with you because you didn't...." we too often respond with anger, withdrawal, frustration, or other negative reactions because we are desperately wanting to be calmed by the well-being of our spouse. If I'm healed by Christ in my core, then I can delight that my spouse is able to express her disappointment (even if her disappointment is with me) because she is truly feeling and sharing with me what she is feeling. She is letting me see inside her. That is 'in-to-me-you-see' (intimacy) at its very core.

It just takes one person to apply this principle in relationships. The other person will eventually understand that he or she is being loved regardless of his performance. That's a very rare kind of love.

So, my goal in my marital relationship is to validate my spouse's feelings, because I know those feelings are never an accurate reflection of my real worth. Feelings expressed only accurately reflect what my spouse is feeling, and I love my spouse for taking the risk of sharing with me what it is that is being felt inside. I'm not in control of my spouse's internal feelings (only God is), but I can sure listen, validate, love, and feel no need to defend myself.

That's golden.

I promise you....

When you begin to understand that every external action towards your spouse is the direct result of an internal reaction within you, you will begin to focus on what Jesus is doing in you in terms of calming your core.

You are not your spouse's problem, nor is your spouse your problem. We suffer meltdowns internally and externally because we either haven't come to know or accept -- or maybe we have temporarily forgotten -- who we are by the grace of God.

I am forgiven by His grace. I am loved by His grace. I am accepted by His grace. I am guided by His grace. I am perfect by His grace. I am His.

Jesus Christ is my Philosopher's Stone.

In His Grace,


P.S.  Those who are experiencing illegal, unethical or immoral behavior by someone in authority should calmly and boldly involve civil authorities (police and/or the courts), because God has ordained civil authorities to hold in check the wicked. By not calling civil authorities, the abuser's actions reveal the inner core is not being calmed by Jesus and His grace. Only Jesus can  give the assurance that life is possible without the abuser present.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Are SWBTS Bylaw Changes Motivated by Money?

Is it a mosque, a church, or a seminary?
It is impossible to know why the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary issued a summary statement this past week stating they are "taking the steps to amend the bylaws" in order to allow the enrollment of Muslims, Mormons and other non-evangelicals into their seminary educational programs. Allegedly, the proposed bylaw change is necessary for Southwestern Seminary to educate prison inmates who do not profess faith in Jesus Christ, allowing these prisoners to enroll in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's educational courses while in prison.

However, the controversy at Southwestern Seminary erupted this year when President Paige Patterson admitted a practicing Sunni Muslim into its residency seminary degree programs. The problem was never 'prison ministry.'  It was a Muslim on the campus mingling with our Security Three Zone missionaries. In addition, there are allegedly other cases where professing Mormons have been allowed to enroll in on-campus theological education at Southwestern Seminary, granted 'exceptions' to the bylaws by President Patterson.

In this week's summary statement, SWBTS trustees only stated that the exceptions granted were a violation of the bylaws and charter of the Seminary. However, and this is a head scratcher, the trustees then stated they are going to begin the process of 'changing the bylaws.' When I pressed one of the trustees as to "Why are you changing the bylaws?" he responded,  "For our prison ministry."

It seems the United States government precludes any seminary from discriminating against any religion if that seminary enters its prison system to educate prisoners.

Next spring the trustees will come out of their closed door meetings and try to reassure Southern Baptists that the proposed bylaw changes are intended to only allow them to continue doing prison ministry and the bylaw changes will not affect what is being done on campus.

Not so fast.

When George W. Truett spoke from the East Steps of the National Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, May 16, 1920, during the Annual Session of the Southern Baptist Convention, this remarkable Southern Baptist leader and pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, spoke these prophetic words:
"Christ's religion needs no prop of any kind from any worldly source, and to the degree that it is thus supported is a millstone hanged about its neck."
If Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees are allowed to change their bylaws to accommodate the federal government, it is in essence tying the proverbial millstone around its neck. Once they allow government intrusion into their religious educational mission, their allegiance is switched from Christ to Caesar.

Why would Southern Baptists ever give up requiring a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, as well as an affirmation of their Christian walk by a local church, before allowing that student access to the resources and educational opportunities of our seminaries?

Money, Money, Money

When Paige Patterson became President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004, he set a goal of reaching 6,000 students. SWBTS's own website trumpets that Patterson 'has reversed the trending slump in enrollment" since he came on board, "creating a need for more buildings."

Public relations and facts don't often correlate. For example, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada, keeps records for every seminary in the United States. It's difficult for the average Southern Baptist to mine those facts from the reports submitted by our seminaries. However, using ATS own records, the following graphs will give you accurate information regarding Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS),  Southeastern Theological Seminary (SEBTS), and Southern Theological Seminary (SBTS). For the sake of comparison, I'm using these four seminaries in the graphs and statistics below. It is obvious hurricane Katrina affected New Orleans numbers, but I'd like for you to focus on the graphs outlined in the orange color - Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. All graphs reflect the past ten years. In the second graph, FTE stands for "Full Time Enrollment."


What we have in very vivid graph form is an understanding that for the last ten years headcount, full-time enrollment, Masters of Divinity students, and graduates at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas has been steadily declining. The following statistics put it in stark percentages.

Is it possible that the reason Southwestern Seminary is willing to change its bylaws is because if the school could enroll people who do not profess faith in Jesus Christ into their theological educational programs they then have bigger pool of people from whom they can obtain tuition or 'scholarships'  to enroll at SWBTS?

I know some people will object by saying, "Of course not! It's about evangelism! Don't you believe that our seminaries should be in the prisons leading people to Christ by offering Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, neo-Nazi's, and all other people of faith (or non-faith) by giving them the opportunity to enroll in theological educational courses provided by our seminaries!"

Answer: "No." Let me make that "A resounding no."

Our seminaries should be training Christian men and women how to go into the prisons and lead people to Christ.

Ironically, the SBC founding fathers agree with me. That's why the trustees must change the bylaws and/or charter (allegedly, they are only changing the bylaws). They are wanting Southwestern Seminary to do what it was not originally designed to do.

It's hard to know the rationale behind the bizarre effort to change the bylaws at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to allow the enrollment of people from other faiths. I never dreamed I'd see the day when Southwestern Seminary would go down the path of classic liberalism.
Of course,  "Money is the root of all evil."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Immoveable: Standing Firm in the Last Days

The following is a guest post regarding a new book by author Tim Riordan.

What is going on in the world? This question seems to be on the minds of many people today as we consider world events. Some people face these times of uncertainty with great fear and dread while others engage these times with wonder and expectation. For those of us who are Christians, there is another question on our minds: “Do world events have anything to do with Bible prophecy and the return of Jesus?” While God is clear in His Word that no one knows the time or day when Jesus will return (Matthew 24:36), He also tells us in the same passage to “keep watch.” He gave us specific prophecies in the Bible related to world events telling us these would be indicators that His return was near, and He stated that these anticipated happenings would grow in increasing intensity: “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8). The miracle of birth begins slowly, maybe even weeks before the actual delivery. Early contractions are so insignificant that many young mothers may not even notice them. As the prophecies of Matthew 24 begin to be fulfilled, they will start small and grow in significance. There is no doubt that we are seeing a growth in intensity of world turmoil, and some of these specific prophecies are becoming more pronounced with every passing day.

If we are living in the last days, what does this mean for the Church? What does it mean for you and your family? It is because of my burden for the Church and my belief that we could be facing very challenging days in the near future, I wrote my new book, Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days. I believe that God has given Christians equipment, or armor, to help us endure the evil days leading up to Christ’s return and to bear fruit during a time of unparalleled opportunity. Ephesians 6:13 says, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” I shared these thoughts about this verse in my book: “While ‘the day of evil’ can refer to a time of intense temptation or spiritual conflict that can come at any point in any Christian’s life, it seems that God may be calling us to think about THE day of evil. Is it possible that this passage is calling Christians approaching the last days to prepare for battle by putting on spiritual armor?” With that question going through my mind, I began studying Bible prophecy about the last days comparing it to the teaching of the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6. The connection was significant, and I believe there are important implications relating the spiritual armor for the last generation before the return of Christ. These implications are not only important for us, but also for our children and grandchildren.

I encourage you to consider our times and the clear teaching of Scripture. Study Bible prophecy with an eye on the evening news and consider how the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6 will help you prepare for what is to come. What do you need to do to put on the spiritual armor of God so you will stand firm in the last days? Being immovable is really not an option for the Church. The world is desperate to see strong, healthy believers standing firm in the last days. When the winds of heresy and deception blow, will you be immovable holding firmly to the truth of God? The only way you or I will stand firm is if we put on the armor of God and allow the immovable Lord Jesus Christ to live victoriously through us.

Dr. Tim Riordan serves as pastor of SonRise Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia and is the author of Songs from the Heart: Meeting with God in the Psalms and his newest book Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days. For more information on his books or ministry, visit his website at

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Statement from SWBTS Regarding Future Admission of Muslims

Southwestern Seminary's board of directors issued a statement yesterday after concluding their investigation into President Paige Patterson admitting a practicing Muslim into its seminary. The entire statement can be read here.

In essence, the seminary's board seems to be saying three things:

(1). President Paige Patterson (administration) violated the charter and by-laws of the seminary when he admitted a practicing Muslim into the seminary. With  lawyer-esque language, the SWBTS's board of trustees said, "there are inconsistencies between the seminary’s bylaws and the actions of its administration and board." Translation: Our bylaws were violated.

(2). President Paige Patterson should have requested from the trustees an exception to the bylaws prior to admitting a practicing Muslim. The statement reads: "(we) acknowledge an exception should have been requested until such time that the bylaws could have been amended for launching various initiatives." Translation: Trustees had no knowledge of, nor did we give permission for, the admission of a practicing Muslim.

(3). The Seminary will begin the process of changing the bylaws in order to allow future admission of practicing Muslims into the seminary. The statement reads: "(We) are taking steps to amend the seminary’s bylaws to improve accountability that will allow for flexibility in pursuing ministry opportunities such as the one at the Darrington Unit." Translation: We agree that practicing Muslims should be admitted into the seminary in the future and will change the bylaws to make this possible.

The statement concludes with a statement of support for President Patterson, stating that "Any violations of the seminary bylaws were done in a good-faith..."

So, the solution to a practicing Muslim being admitted into Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in violations of the school's charter and bylaws is to change the bylaws to make this practice acceptable. 

This is an interesting development.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Legacies of Corrie Ten Boom and Anne Frank

I am writing this from the Arusha Coffee Club in Arusha, Tanzania, Africa near the base of Mount Kilamanjaro. We will soon be heading back to the United States after spending several days on the African continent. Prior to coming to Tanzania, we spent a couple of days in Amsterdam. One of the things we did while in that historic city is visit the houses of two people who lived in or near Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of World War II.

Near Amsterdam, in a little community called Haarlem, sits the cottage that housed Corrie Ten Boom's family. I've been amazed by Corrie Ten Boom's story for years, and it was an honor to tour the house where she and her family hid Jews from the Nazis who sought to exterminate the Jewish race. The Ten Boom family was Dutch, and the risk they took in turning their house into a "hiding place' was incalculable. Corrie and her family were caught sympathizing with the Jews, and at the age of 52, Corrie was sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Somehow, she miraculously survived from being sent to the gas chambers, but the rest of her family perished in the camps. Corrie Ten Boom would come to America later in life, and one of our friends and fellow church members, Audrey Villialobos worked as her personal secretary.

The lines in front of Corrie Ten Boom's house were non-existent. The tour was gripping. It is a humbling experience to realize you are the age of a woman who risked her own life to save the lives of others during World War II. Other than the Churchill Museum in London, I consider the tour of Corrie Ten Boom's house to be one of the more emotionally moving places I've been to across the Atlantic.

Just a few hours after visiting Corrie Ten Boom's house we were in Amsterdam touring another house. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl in Amsterdam during World War II, and along with other members of her family, she hid in the back of a warehouse from the Nazi's. She was only twelve, but she recorded her thoughts in 'The Diary of Anne Frank.' Anne and her family eventually would be caught by the Nazis and she would die in the concentration camps. Her diary, discovered by her surviving father after the war, would be published in 1947 and become an international sensation.

The line outside Anne Frank's house was literally a mile long. Literally. Thanks to the ingenuity of Carol Williams who had purchased entry passes for us prior to arriving in Amsterdam,  we were able to skirt the lines. The Anne Frank house told a fascinating story of personal hiding from the Nazis. It was much more 'professional' in terms of a museum when compared to Corrie Ten Boom's house. Steven Spielberg took profits from his movie "Schindler's List" and made the Anne Frank house the beneficiary.

But the difference between Anne Frank and Corrie Ten Boom goes far beyond their respective houses. Corrie Ten Boom was hiding others. Anne Frank was hiding herself. Corrie Ten Boom willingly put her life in danger for others; Anne Frank's life was in danger unwillingly. Corrie Ten Boom is the epitome of selfless sacrifice; Anne Frank epitomizes the ability to write well of one's difficulties in life.

It is not surprising the world flocks to the house of Anne Frank. I find it very surprising that the world doesn't come in similar numbers to the house of Corrie Ten Boom. It seems we put a higher value on self-preservation than we do self-sacrifice. After being at both houses in Amsterdam, I came away from one house sympathizing with the difficulties of a young Jewish girl and from the other house I came away with a renewed desire to live my life for the sake of others.

Were the world to be enthralled by the story of Corrie Ten Boom we'd all be living in a better place. May the lines outside the Ten Boom house increase.

The Difference BetCorrie Ten Boom and Anne Frank

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Emmanuel Enid REFUGE Worship Band

The videos below are from our Emmanuel Enid REFUGE services this past Sunday, October 5, 2014. The two songs, "Waiting Here for You" and "Christ Is Enough," are led by the REFUGE worship band.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 06, 2014

A Letter of Thanks to Southgate Baptist Church, Moore, OK for Hosting Colleene Hufford's Funeral

President Obama sent a White House official to Oklahoma City this past Saturday to read a letter of thanks to the Moslem Mosque where Alton Nolen worshipped. Nolen, the murderer who confessed to intentionally beheading non-Muslim co-worker Colleen Hufford at their place of employment, is now awaiting trial for first degree murder. OKC television station KFOR reported on the letter from the President being delivered to the mosque:

"Today, an official from Washington D.C. flew in to Oklahoma to present a special thank you to the Muslim congregation. He read a message from President Barrack [sic] Obama, extending warm greetings from the American people during the Muslim holiday.
“Your service is a powerful example of the powerful roots of the Abrahamic faiths and how our communities can come together with shared peace with dignity and a sense of justice,” President Barack Obama said.
 The Imam, the leader of the prayer service, stated during his sermon that the Muslim faith has been called a “cancer that needs to be cut off from the American society.” Now, with the recent praise, Oklahoma Muslims have been reassured that they are apart of the American society."
In light of the President's letter, I'd like to offer my own to Southgate Baptist Church, Moore, Oklahoma, the church who hosted Colleen's funeral last Friday and ministered to the Hufford family during their time of grief.
Dear Pastors and People of Southgate:  
Few Oklahomans know how you opened your facilities and hearts to the Colleen Hufford family after her tragic death at Vaughan Foods. Due to the proximity of your church to the cemetery where Colleen was buried, due to the size of your auditorium which was large enough to hold the hundreds of people who came to pay their respects and show their love to Colleen's husband, children, grandchildren and other family members, and most of all, due to your Oklahoma sized-hearts that care for people during their darkest hours, your church deserves a letter of praise and thanks.
Your service to the community of Moore and greater Oklahoma City is a powerful example of the powerful roots of the Christian faith, particularly because you have modeled the love and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He taught us to love our enemies, to do good to those who persecute us, and to treat others, even strangers, the way we ourselves would desire to be treated.
Though your staff had never met the Hufford family until after the tragic events leading to her death in Moore, Oklahoma, your shining example of love and mercy toward complete strangers is something deserving of praise.
On behalf of all Oklahomans, thank you for modeling the kind of faith that formed the foundation of our great country.
May God continue to bless your congregation.

In Christ's love and grace,

Wade Burleson

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Good Lie Is a Great Movie and a Glorious Story

Trent and Thad Luckinbill are natives of Enid, Oklahoma, grew up at Emmanuel Enid, and now live in California earning a living producing movies. Thad, an actor in his own right, made the transition into the production side when his twin brother, Trent, left Washington, D.C. to go to California and join his brother in the movie business. They have teamed up with Ron Howard (director) and Reese Witherspoon (actress) to tell the story of the Lost Boys of the Sudan via film. The movie, The Good Lie, opens October 3, 2014.

To find out a little more background on the incredible story of the Lost Boys, as well as hear from the cast, producers (Thad and Trent) and others associated with the film, watch this interview with Rick Warren at Saddleback Community Church filmed last Sunday night.

I have written before that cheesiness in Christian films does more harm to Christianity than people realize. The Lost Boys is not an overtly Christian film, but it is a movie made and produced by people with a strong Christian faith, and a message that is definitely Christian. Unlike other films in this genre, The Good Lie is produced by professionals who understand that stylistic art is needed in order to make a first class film.

The Good Lie is first class, all the way. It is a great movie about a glorious story. The Good Lie is a fabulous, fresh, funny, family-friendly film (how do you like that alliteration?) that reminds us why we love movies so much. Cinematography will always grab the heart and impress the message into the core of one's being more than print media. You'll walk out of The Good Lie never looking at refugees, refuge camps, and international aid-- or more importantly, the dignity of all humanity -- the same again.

Get out and see this movie. For those in Enid, The Good Lie opens on Friday, October 10, and discount tickets to any of the 15 weekend showings (Friday through Sunday, October 10 through 12) will be available after all three morning services in the HUB at Emmanuel Enid.