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

I Find Myself in a Levite Priest Named Shabbethai

Shabbethai.

It is spelled שבתי in Hebrew.

It's an ancient name that means "my rest" or even possibly "the rest of Yahweh" since the yod in Hebrew could actually be an abbreviation for the LORD'S covenant name (Yahweh).

The name Shabbethai comes from the Hebrew word shabbat, from which we get our English word "sabbath." Sabbath means "rest."

Shabbethai is the name of a Levite priest who is mentioned three separate times in the Bible (Nehemiah 8:7; Nehemiah 11:16; and Ezra 10:15).

From those three references we learn three things about this priest:
1. Shabbethai was a "guide or teacher of God's ways (the Torah)" to the Jews (Nehemiah 8:7), 
2. Shabbethai was responsible for the care of the Temple's outer court, including being the "wood-bearer" for the altar (according to the Jewish rabbi Jarchi) and doing other "outside work for the house of God" (Nehemiah 11:16). 
I find myself in Shabbethai.

I teach people the ways of God and I do things to care for the church that are often unseen. In today's world, being a pastor of an evangelical church is definitely not all praise and glamour.

But the most important thing that we learn about Shabbethai is from Ezra 10:15.
3. Shabbatai the Levite opposed Ezra and Nehemiah's plan to "send away (from Judea) all foreign wives and children" (Ezra 10:4) by forcing the Jewish men to "take action," and "divorce their foreign wives" and set them and their children outside the land.

I find myself in Shabbethai. 

Most Christians don't stop and ask the question if it was "God's will" for Ezra and Nehemiah to set these foreign women and children "outside the camp" of the Jews. They just assume that these men (Ezra and Nehemiah) would never propose or do something that God did not command be done.

People today also never question a decision made by their favorite politician. Church members are guilty of assuming that everything their pastor says comes from God. The average follower of Jesus  would never consider opposing someone in authority as Shabbethai did Ezra and Nehemiah.

Even worse, many Christians have a hard time believing that biblical characters could ever make a mistake! But they do!

I am reminded of what author Doug Adams wrote in his excellent book The Prostitute in the Family Tree:
“Biblical stories are mirrors for identity and not models for morality. If we clean up the biblical stories, we can no longer identify with them; if we share the whole story, we can see ourselves in them”
Shabbethai and three other Jewish leaders named Jonathan, Jahaziah, and Meshullam (see Ezra 10:15) opposed Ezra and Nehemiah's attempts at nationalizing Judea, purifying the people by force, and establishing a closed community of ethnic Jews.

Shabbethai did not believe the forced removal of foreign women married to Jewish men and the forced expulsion from Judea of the children from these mixed marriages was Yahweh's will.

I find myself in Shabbethai.

A conservative biblical scholar and Hebrew professor named Ray Lubeck has written a superb article on this issue. Dr. Lubeck presented his paper at the 2010 Evangelical Theological Society Called Ezra-Nehemiah Reconsidered: Aiming the Canon at "Godly Leaders, Ray Lubeck's paper takes the same position that Shabbethai took against Ezra and Nehemiah.

Dr. Lubeck's brilliantly shows how Ezra and Nehemiah's decision to forcibly remove foreign women and children through mandated divorces was morally, spiritually, ethically, and theologically wrong.

In other words, Yahweh was against Ezra's and Nehemiah's unscriptural exclusivism.

Shabbethai the Levite priest and three others opposed Ezra and Nehemiah to their faces, representing the heart of God to two men who had missed Him.

It seems the prophet Zechariah agrees with Shabbethai about God's heart.
"Many peoples and inhabitants of many cities shall come...and many peoples and and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek YAHWEH Almighty and to entreat him. This is what YAHWEH Almighty said, "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, "Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you." (Zechariah 8:22-23)
"Jerusalem will be a city without walls...many nations will be joined with YAHWEH in that day and will become my people" (Zechariah 2:3-4, 11).
The prophet Jeremiah also agrees with Shabbethai.
"This is what YAHWEH says: "As for all my wicked neighbors... I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back ... and if they learn well the ways of my people...then they will be established among my people" (Jeremiah 12:14-16). 
The prophet Isaiah agrees with Shabbethai.
Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you.
Though in anger I struck you,
in favor I will show you compassion.
Your gates will always stand open,
they will never be shut
, day or night,
so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations—
their kings led in triumphal procession." (Isaiah 60:10-11
"This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles..." (Isaiah 42:5-6)
Ironically, the Pharisees, those strict separatists and extreme nationalists of Jesus' day who promoted racism, classism, and fervent legalism consider Ezra their founder.

Who is right? Shabbethai or Ezra?

Why It Matters

Our church has an incredible ministry to men and women in the Oklahoma State Department of

Corrections. We have men and women (volunteers) who go through training to transport offenders from prison to Emmanuel's auditorium each Sunday. They spend time with them, encourage them, take them to small group after the worship service, and transport them back to the place where they are incarcerated in Enid.

Recently, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections changed its requirements in terms of offenders attending church. The offenders have been told they must now wear their orange jump suits.

We have multiple services at Emmanuel, and some men who attend wear a suit and tie, others wear jeans and t-shirts, and still others are in between casual and formal. In other words, the way one dresses at Emmanuel is not an issue.

But try wearing an orange prison suit and come to church. Not only will you immediately draw attention to the fact you are an "offender" who is incarcerated in prison, you will most likely become extremely self-conscious, asking yourself if there are church people looking at you and secretly wanting prisoners like you not come to worship services at Emmanuel.

Many of the prisoners who attend have never been to church before. They are "strangers and foreigners" to Christian worship services.

Are they welcome?

I find myself in Shabbethai.

Preaching in DOC inmate uniform on October 16, 2019
"Let them come! Welcome them into the Lord's presence! By all means, 'Yes!' These orange clad prisoners are welcome at Emmanuel"

Because of the recent changes placed on these men by the Department of Corrections, I chose to preach last Sunday in an orange jump suit.

I told people attending Emmanuel:
 "A person's identity is found in the cross he bears, not the clothes he wears."
The people of Emmanuel applauded. They agree.

We are 'keeping the gates open' at Emmanuel Enid.

But there's another illustration that amplifies the difficulties with open door policies.

Emmanuel has a man who attends corporate worship services and dresses like a woman. He wears dresses, leg hosiery, painted nails, pearls, purse, ribbons in his long hair, etc.  The religious and the exclusionists among us want him out. He's been attending Emmanuel for two years. He comes to Sunday morning corporate worship and Wednesday night’s hour long Bible study, and when he walks into the room, he is in full female regalia.

There are a few Ezras and Nehemiahs left at Emmanuel, friends of mine who are Kingdom people. They don't like this man attending. “Tell him to leave.” “Let him know this church isn’t for people like him.” "We don't want this stranger among us."

But there are also many Shabbethais, Jeremiahs, Isaiahs, and Zehcariahs at Emmanuel Enid who say,  "Let's welcome him." "Let's love him." "Let's get to know him."

I find myself in Shabbethai.

I’ve resisted the calls for this man's removal from among us. When he began attending two years ago at the invitation of one of our church members, he said he'd attend to see “if Christians really mean it when they say ‘We love everyone.’” 

I argue that our gates should remain open to this stranger.

I have chosen to welcome him with open arms. I’ve taken him to lunch. I’ve gotten to know his story. I’ve been a friend to him. I call him by name. I treat him with love and grace and accept him where he is.

Sure, his presence makes some uncomfortable, but we have a greater purpose than our personal comfort at Emmanuel.

I've spoken with this cross dresser about which public restroom he is to use. By state law, he must use the men's, not the women's public restroom. However,  sometimes mothers of young boys are uncomfortable watching their sons go into a public restroom with a man dressed as a woman.

This man isn't a criminal. He doesn't prey on children. He's not a predator. We have security at Emmanuel and we understand what it means to protect attenders from predator behavior.

That's why I've gotten to know the person who dresses like a woman. I want to know his story. He began dressing publicly as a woman after his wife left him. He has grown children of his own. He has a distinguished career in government work.

I've asked him to use the Family Restroom at Emmanuel for the sake of other attenders who don't know him. He's agreed, and he's still attending.

I've chosen to love this man as Jesus loves me. He’s not publicly professed Christianity through baptism, but he's asking questions.

Our church walls are down and are gates are to be open at Emmanuel Enid so that those who seek God may find him. This man has not yet his professed faith in Christ through public baptism, but he seems closer today than he was when he first started attending.

Someone might ask, "Well, Wade, why don't you dress up like a woman and preach in a dress? That might make him more comfortable like you are making more comfortable the convicts who must wear orange."

Answer: The men who must wear orange are forced to wear the prison uniform, but the man who attends dressed like a woman is making a choice. If the prisoners could choose, they would choose not to be in prison garb when they come to church. But they must be.
Grace is bearing burdens forced upon people as well as respecting free choices made by people. 
That's why, though we believe the Bible teaches that homosexual and lesbian behavior is a sin (just like adultery, gossip, drunkenness, etc. are called sinful behaviors), we no more tell a lesbian couple they can't attend church than we do a gossiper, or an adulterer, or a person who struggles with addiction.

Some, like Ezra and Nehemiah, might ask that we "close the gates" and "build walls" so that our assembly can be like the Jews of Ezra's day, excluding all the foreigners and strangers who are not like us.

Because they believe the Bible, they will use what Ezra and Nehemiah did in the 5th Century BC as their rationalization for constructing the walls and keeping strangers out in the 21st Century AD. 

I, too, believe that the Bible is the infallible and inspired Word of God, but...

I find myself in Shabbethai. 

I rest in Christ's work for me and choose to trust His work in the lives of others. I will refrain from making, and resist approving, any demands for conformity by forcibly removing the foreigners and strangers from among us.

Sure we have standards of conduct and behavior for members and leaders of Emmanuel Enid. But that's not the issue here. The question before us is our love for people who are not like us.
"How are we to live in a culture where we're surrounded by strangers and foreigners, people different from us?"
We are to live with the identifying mark of "love" (John 13:35).
"Do we or do we not open the gates and allow the foreigners and strangers to mingle among us so that they might learn from us who God is?"
I believe the answer to the above question is a resounding "Yes!"

That's why Shabbethai opposed Ezra in closing the gates.

It's why we warmly welcome people at Emmanuel who are different than us.

I believe that's the heart of God.

And I'm content to "rest" in the fact that God alone must do the work necessary to change the heart of another human being.

Until the LORD does, our job is to love. 

64 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

I wish Emmanuel were closer to where I live. I'd probably want to join.

Christiane said...

"I argue that our gates should remain open to this stranger.
I have chosen to welcome him with open arms. I’ve taken him to lunch. I’ve gotten to know his story. I’ve been a friend to him. I call him by name. I treat him with love and grace and accept him where he is.
Sure, his presence makes some uncomfortable, but we have a greater purpose than our personal comfort at Emmanuel."


WADE, for this, may God Bless you forever and ever!


and that orange uniform . . . I have no doubt that the idea to wear it was inspired!

There is a kind of humility that brings God's grace to the one who is humble;
and a servant of God with this kind of humility can draw thousands to Christ.





Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I liked many things you wrote.

1. “Many Christians have a hard time believing that biblical characters could ever make a mistake! But they do!”

I agree: “I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve… women will be saved through childbearing…” (1 Timothy 2:12-15 NLT)

2. “Our church has an incredible ministry to men and women in the Oklahoma State Department of Corrections.”

3. Prisoners must wear an orange jump suit. “I chose to preach last Sunday in an orange jump suit.”

4. “Church members are guilty of assuming that everything their pastor says come from God.”


Example of #4 above, I believe you’re wrong about:

1. “We believe the Bible teaches that homosexual and lesbian behavior is a sin (just like adultery, gossip, drunkenness, etc. are called sinful behaviors), we no more tell a lesbian couple they can’t attend church than we do a gossiper…”

Wade, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not gossip but homosexual.

“…all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out so we can have sex with them.” (Genesis 19:4-5 NLT)

“He turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into heaps of ashes and swept them off the face of the earth. He made them an example what would happen to ungodly people. (2 Peter 2:6 NLT)

“He turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into heaps of ashes and blotted them off the face of the earth, making them an example for all the ungodly in the future to look back upon and fear.” (2 Peter 2:6 Living)

2. You let a man attend your church dress like a woman.

Does he wear a dress in his government work?
I believe what you wear to church should show respect; not disrespect.

Would you let someone wear swim suits? I believe a ‘dress code’ in church should not be lower than the ‘dress code’ in schools. If a person doesn’t have anything to wear, I believe they’d appreciate the church helping them buy some.

Are you disrespecting those who have shown concerns? Have you asked the deacons what they think, or are you a ‘king’ in your church?

Wade Burleson said...

"Does he wear a dress in his government work?"

Yes. Policies changed just a couple of years ago.

"Are you disrespecting those who have shown concerns?"

No. We address concerns transparently and fully. What we don't do is shun. What we do is love.

Wade Burleson said...

"Have you asked the deacons what they think, or are you a ‘king’ in your church?"

We don't have "deacons" that make decisions. We have a Leadership Team, composed of the chairman of the seven major standing committees (Finance, Personnel, MIssions, ECS, etc...) plus 5 trustees. This Leadership Team is composed of half women and half men. I am the only pastor on the Leadership Team (Lead Pastor), but I don't vote (though I can) because if I can't lead the Team to a clear majority, then we should pause before we act. So to answer your question - I am not the King of the church and the Leadership Team is in full support of living out the Gospel.

Christiane said...

Hello REX RAY,

I hope you are feeling better. I'm in a bit of a crisis this week with our pup in the hospital receiving needed treatment for kidney disease and we are very worried as unless the treatment is helpful and the labs improve, we may lose our dear friend who asks little and loves much. Father Bryan at Church says 'all dogs go to heaven', and I agree, but I'm not ready to say good-bye to our fur child, no.

I have read your feelings about LBGT folks and because I know you have a good heart for people, I can share something I once wrote that might help you understand a different point of view, so, from an old friend, this:

"I am conscious of people’s discomfort with those who are ‘different’ and that often not knowing how to ‘fix it’ for them or ‘make it right’ for them, how it is that we seem too eager to distance ourselves from them in ways that are not Our Lord’s Ways.

What there is that makes us ‘human’ is something even more basic than our ‘maleness’ or ‘femaleness’ . . . and that IS a difference that invites us to engage with people who have gender issues on more common ground: our common human origin . . . the very soil from which we were formed and the very life breathed into us by God.

Some in the Church are wanting to surround and care for those who are ‘different’ with great patience over time with gentle care and unremitting hope for their salvation,
whereas others seem impatient in how quickly they are ready to cast transgender folk out from their midst . . .

I think it important not to be afraid of encounters with those who suffer from differences so many of us cannot understand;
or worse, not accept them as having one kind of ‘presenting form’ of that far more basic fallen human condition we all suffer from, each in our OWN way.

The person who was ‘outed’ as ‘transgender’ IS, first and last, a child of God.
What could be more important for us to know?”

http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/survivor-transgender/

Anonymous said...

Years ago I heard a sermon about David's wife (Michel?) who criticized him for exposing himself as he "danced before the Lord." The point of the sermon was how wives should always be submissive, never criticize their husbands for anything, etc. That came up frequently in that church if anyone questioned the pastor's teaching or actions in anyway. We were reminded "God punished her by not letting her have children."

A godly older saint (female) pointed out some salient points: God Himself had ordered the priests to wear underwear so they did not expose themselves climbing the temple steps. So it was ok for David to do so in front of the young women? Yeah, right, his sexual purity was something to emulate, right? And when you read the text she pointed out it was that David would not "go in to her" that kept her from having kids, not God's punishment?

I have not traced that storyline throughout scripture to find if that saintly gal was wrong, but I suspect she was right.

linda

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Thanks for the reply.
You’re right; deacons don’t make decisions, but we make suggestions that are voted on by the church.

I’m sure the Leadership Team is in full support of living out the Gospel, but does that allow men to dress like women? What if women dress like men? Would they allow boys to wear dresses?
I noticed you skipped the subject of homosexuals.


Christiane,
I read your link. It was very long-winded. I didn’t get much out of it.

I BELIEVE HOMOSEXUALS CAN BE CHANGED BY GOD.
“I will…put a new spirit within them…” (Ezekiel 11:19 NLT)
“I will give you a new heart with new and right desires…” (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT)
“…I will forgive their wickedness and will never again remember their sins. (Jeremiah 31:34 NLT)
“…I will put my laws in their minds…I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins.” (Hebrews 8:10-12 NLT)

Some may argue the Scripture above applies to a multitude of people, but if God can change a multitude, wouldn’t it be easy for Him to change an individual?

“When a person becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand-new person inside.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 Living)

“…those who become Christians become a new person. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

Linda,
Loved your comment. :)

Rex Ray said...

Linda,

“King Saul…forced David’s wife Michal, Saul’s daughter, to marry a man from Gallim named Palti.” (1 Samuel 25:44 Living)

“That was the beginning of a long war between the followers of Saul and of David…” (2 Samuel 3:1 Living)

“Then Abner sent messengers to David to discuss a deal; to surrender the kingdom of Israel to him in exchange for becoming commander-in-chief… “All right”, David replied, “but I will not negotiate with you unless you bring my wife Michal, Saul’s daughter…took her away from her husband Palti. He followed along behind…weeping as he went. Then Abner told him, “Go on home now.” So, he returned.” (2 Samuel 3:12-16 Living)

Linda, I believed Michal no longer loved David, but loved Palti as he did her.

I also believe David no longer loved Michal, but considered her ‘property’ since he said, “…Give me back my wife Michal, for I bought her with the lives of one hundred Philistines.” (2 Samuel 3:14 Living)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I reread your saying, “I am the only pastor on the Leadership Team (Lead Pastor), but I don't vote (though I can) because if I can't lead the Team to a clear majority, then we should pause before we act.”

“Leadership Team” reminds me of a church that had a “Leadership Board”. I visited this church and got ‘escorted’ to my car. I was told if they saw my car again, it would be towed.

Before the second service began, I’d given their pastor a slip of paper. It read:

1.Leadership Board dissolved the Colleyville Senior Adult Bible Explorers Class on 11-6-05.
2.The teacher was fired because he would not promise to always support the Senior Pastor.
3.However, about 50 long time members have continued to meet with their fired teacher.
4.Consequently, they have been denied Sunday School literature and a Christmas party.
5.If the Board rules their disobedience is “disruption”, they may be ejected from the church.
6.Is it sad the new bylaws prevent anyone standing for them? Outsider, Rex Ray 11-27-05.
(The teacher was my brother-in-law.)

It wasn’t long before a woman, my brother-in-law and two other men were ejected by the Leadership Board. They handed out literature to members that was against the sale of the church and relocating it 20 miles away where the pastor had property.

They were stationed at the four doors of the church and the pastor told them to stop. They didn’t obey him and the church voted not to move.

The pastor told the members it couldn’t be told why the Leadership Board ejected them because it was too embarrassing.

The woman was a widow after her husband had given 30 acres of land to build the church. She was on their church Board of Directors, and also held the same position at Dallas Baptist College.

The pastor set a record of getting his Doctor’s Degree at SWBTS. Once, he said, “I’ve been trained how to run a church and I will run this church.” In a couple of years, he was fired and became a lawyer. It was the same year my brother-in-law was chosen “Citizen of the year”.

Wade, this was on your blog many years ago.

Anonymous said...

Re dealing with the non cisgendered:

I am no expert but did live many years where the main industry was medical, with this as the specialty. I learned over time these folks could be broadly seen in 3 subsets:

1. Bonafide medical problem, properly diagnosed. Most of these folks did not want anyone but immediate family, very close and trusted friends, and medical personnel to know. They tend to be gentle, not strident. A few chose to live agendered lives, most picked a gender and passed for it quietly and quite well. We do not yet know how many in subset 2 and 3 are really undiagnosed but belong in subset 1.

2. Psychological problem or psychiatric problem. These are not the same, so treatment will vary. This is a sticky wicket indeed, but it is important to be both loving and, well, sane. We do not feed any other delusions by officially pretending they are reality, and should not with gender dysphoria either. "No Jimmy you are not a girl, you are a boy, so mommy will not paint your nails" is ok. So is an employer, spouse, parent, or friend refusing to play along ok. These folks may or may not be strident but often accuse you of being hurtful for being sane. Be sane anyway. We do not have to pretend for them.

3. The rebellious. There really are some folks who do not have a detectable medical issue and are seemingly not, for example, feeling they are subset 2 "a man trapped in a woman's body" etc. These folks can be pretty gross in conduct, speech, and behavior. They tend to be in your face and aggressive. A "tell" that you are dealing with this is what happens if you accept them as whatever they want to be accepted as. They move away from you. You may find, for example, they do not want to join a church that is welcoming and affirming of them, but insist on being welcomed and affirmed at an IFB. It is not about gender with them, but about enjoying or being fed by the rebellion and the pushback. They love the battle and the attention. Feel free to walk away. My pastor in that town was also a physician in this specialty and encouraged us not to "play doc" by trying to diagnose someone, but rather to tread gently. Only when encountering subset 3 behavior (not diagnosis) should we feel free to quietly reduce encounters with this person, as you would any persistently rude and aggressive person.

Hope this is light, not fuel for fire, and again, just experience not expertise!

linda

Christiane said...

When we were 'wounded' and in need of a Savior, Our Lord came down to be 'with' us out of love for us. He took our wounded humanity to Himself in order that it might be saved. We cannot underestimate the Christ-like action of coming to be 'with' those who are troubled, not to 'condemn' nor to 'judge' but rather to be 'with', to tell the wounded person about Christ through our own kindness to him or her, to 'listen' in the way of Our Lord to the person's story and to hear the pain underneath the words. It is said that God is present in the listening.

I think Wade gets this. That sometimes the 'presenting problem' hides a deeper sadness, a deeper pain that will respond to the care of those among us who exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the way that they are 'present' to the wounded person, yes, with the patience and the kindness that allows a chance for some of that pain to be healed.

This is a holy work of Christian people, to come near, to be 'with', to listen, with patience and kindness and unremitting hope for the wounded among us whose burdens are greater than we can know ourselves.
It is holy because to come to minister to their pain is to help them carry their burden in accordance with the Royal Law of Christ.
One title of Our Lord is 'the Great Physician', and those who serve Him will need to have the mind and the heart of the One who brings healing.

Rex Ray said...

I’ll add some more about this pastor who had me escorted from his church. I first met him in our town, Bonham, Texas where he was the speaker at our Association meeting. His first name is Frank. (My brother-in-law, Joe, had already been removed as a Sunday School teacher.) After the meeting was over. I confronted Frank why he’d removed Joe.

Frank’s church attendance was around 5,000 and they had two services since the building was not large enough. I attended the first service and was the only person there wearing a tie. I didn’t hear Jesus mentioned one time. It was all about golf that kept the congregation laughing. I thought: ‘Everyone is like frogs in boiling water and don’t know it.’ I wondered if Jesus might come with a whip saying, ‘You’ve turned my house into a WMCA.’

Frank had a problem of not keeping his head down when he hit the ball. He had his therapists come to the stage and demonstrate with weights how she helped him. At the close, Frank asked everyone to stand that had been saved that year. When no one stood, he said, “They must be at the second service.”

(Joe’s wife had told me their church reported the highest number saved every year in Texas. She said, from time to time, a bus load of Mexicans would come and ‘walk the isle’, and then you never saw them again.)

After the first service was over, I met Frank and some men in a room. I showed him 400 slips of paper I had in my pocket. I told him I’d plan to hand them out, but changed my mind because he was the only one that could do anything about it. I gave him one. After reading it he said, “I know this man. He is evil. Get him out of here.”

Years later, the church offered him $2,500 to leave quietly, but he wanted a million. He left with nothing but took several hundred with him that had drank his ‘cool-aid.’ They started another church, but it died within a year. Frank became a lawyer. He advertised he specialized in church bylaws.

Wade Burleson said...

Linda,

Superb comment. I tread lightly.

Christiane,

I hope I do get it. Wounded people need the Balm in Gilead, and all I have to offer is Him.

Rex,

You're funny. You and I get along just great because though we don't always see eye-to-eye, there is a mutual respect for one another and a mutual love for Jesus Christ and His people.

Christiane said...

WADE,

:)

Tom said...

Wade,

Perhaps this chapter is applicable to what you are saying: -

Isaiah 58: -

58:
1 "Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
3 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?'

"In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?

6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'

"If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.


13 "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken."


Shalom

Wade Burleson said...

Tom,

Precisely. Shalom to you as well.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Thanks. That’s very nice what you said.

I remember two of Frank’s many bylaws:

“If the Leadership Board believed someone was causing disruption, they could be ejected from the church.”

“The Pastor could not be fired unless proven guilty of immorality.”

The “ejected four” received duplicate letters stating they were no longer members of the church. The letters were signed by members of the Leadership Board.

Frank’s name had large letters. Around his name; in a circle were names of the others. It was strange as if they’d gathered around him and signed. It was hard to read some because they were so small.

It was the Leadership Board that fired Frank. I believe they fired him because so many were leaving the church, but they charged him with forgery. The ‘victim’ was a pastor of another church. He said, “I’ve never met Frank, but I hope to meet him in jail.”

When Frank was no longer pastor, the “ejected four” were nicknamed “The famous four”.


Alaskan in Texas said...

I do not like the actions taken by the returning Hebrews as led by Ezra in Ezra 10. I commend your identification with Shabbethai.

I have just read Ray Lubek's essay. I think there is a gaping hole in his analysis. He completely fails to address the impact of Ezra 9:10-15 on the actions of Ezra and the assembly in Ezra 10. In Ezra 9:11-12, Ezra prayerfully recites back to God God's own commands on the matter (notice where our English translations place the quotation marks):

10 “But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands
11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other.
12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’

I think that passage is not only relevant, but, for today's audiences, it complicates matters significantly. It seems to me intellectually dishonest to skim over God's own words within the Iron Age account itself in order to reach a conclusion that is more palatable to our enlightened 21st century Western minds.

I think neither you or Ray Lubek have thought through this awful family-separation event described in Ezra 9-10. Neither of you have dealt with the fact that these two chapters in Ezra spend more time using God's own commands to justify the "putting away" of wives and children born of "mixed"marriages" than they do describing any opposition thereto. You are turning the two-chapter account on its head and balancing your conclusions on one teeny little verse, which itself is an almost toss-away reference to the opposition of four leaders. Hermeneutically, that's very similar to what Bruce Wilkinson did 20 years ago when he "discovered" the obscure one-verse "Prayer of Jabez" and used it to (get rich and) encourage Christians to adopt a neo "name it and claim it" theology.

I think you've got a lot more 'splainin' to do if you're going to use Ezra 9-10 as a cautionary tale for modern audiences and/or as a lesson in how sometimes God uses broken vessels for good works. Right now, God's own words in Ezra 9:11-12 give a God-sized amount of credibility to the prayerful actions of Ezra and the people in Ezra 10.


Shawn said...

I am sorry but Wade is following a teaching that argues rather forcefully that the the text has been badly misinterpreted for millennia and in fact Ezra and the leadership got it wrong when it called for the divorcing and shunning of the foreign wives and children after the intense confessional prayer of chapter 9. Daniel makes a similar pray in chapter 9 of his book, I might add. The entire episode is one of recognized sin and deep, prayerful repentance.

And the repentance is not due, as very poorly argued by Dr. Lubeck, because they married foreign women. It is due to the fact that was recognized after reading God’s Word that “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with THEIR ABOMINATIONS, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. Shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the PEOPLES WHO PRACTICE THESE ABOMINATIONS? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? O LORD, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.” (Ezr. 9:14-15 ESV)

Contrary to what Dr. Lubeck so badly argues, Ezra did not get it wrong. Shabbethai and those with him did.

“Church,” is derived from an Old English word meaning, “place set asided for Christian worship.” Its foundation is as a place of worship for the ekklesia (εκκλεσια) “the ones who are called out.” It is not “those who are possibly thinking about being called out” or “those who we think might think about being called out” but those who are indeed “called out.” The Ekklesia is not for the lost but for the saved. So too, it is a place of worship and training for those who have been called out, it is not the evangelistic center for the ‘might bees.’ Salvation is an off site endeavor. Meetings at lunch, in your home, or other places conducive for those who are truly considering repenting of their sins and following the LORD.

If someone claims to be saved and yet appears at in the midst of the gathering of those who are “called out” but openly living in disobedience to God’s Word then they are to be shunned until they repent and return to obedience. Scripture is clear on that. If it is argued that the church is full of sinners or those who keep their sin hidden, that is a different matter. You can’t deal with that until the sin is exposed. But for one openly being disobedient then they do no belong in the fellowship.

Anonymous said...

Shawn--agree totally those living in blatant and open disobedience may need to be avoided.

But I cannot tell "just by looking" who might not have been born xx or xy. Some are chimeras-xxxx or xxxy or xyxy. Some are xxy or xyy. Some are xx or xy but do not have the proper hormones produced or the proper hormone receptors.

There is just no way they should be treated with anything but respect as they hoe a difficult row.

Some are mentally ill (not pc to say it but true.) If you are in the person's life well enough to be able to reasonably "know" that they are healthy xx or xy but truly confused, I would say again love and respect WITHOUT playing along with the delusion, even if it angers them.

And of course for those that are loud and clear they have no bio issues, who know their gender full well, and are choosing differently or otherwise clearly in rebellion, then agree your response might be spot on.

Since we seldom know someone has bio issues, it is the last two groups we most often deal with. Quiet friendship offered without going along with their fiction is appropriate though often not welcome. If they become aggressive about forcing you to go along with their fiction or face their wrath and name calling, walk away.

I tend to be amazed we are called by one side to go along with the delusion or lie, and by the other side to cater to and pretend we see nothing wrong. I believe we can tread gently, with respect, without violating the truth AS LONG AS we realize that "truth" might not be what we think it is.

linda

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

To finish this story to a conclusion, can you see a similarity of Frank’s Leadership Board being like Haman’s gallows he’d made for Mordecai?

Shawn said...

You do know that there is a specific verse that declares cross dressing as an abomination -

“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an ABOMINATION (my emphasis) to the LORD your God." Deuteronomy 22.5 (ESV)

(side note - same Hebrew word for ABOMINATION in Deut. and the Ezra passage I quoted above.)

A cross dresser should not be in a church that claims adherence to biblical teaching.

If the person is confused on this issue then it needs to be made clear to them what the biblical teaching is before they are allowed into the congregation of the LORD. If they are mentally confused then you do not compound that by confusing the children in church who see an obvious cross dresser being welcomed while they are being taught about sin and morality. That person needs off site counseling and 'quiet friendship' off site until they are walking in the ways of the LORD and following him and not their own sin, proclivities, or delusions.

Tom said...

Hello

A Christian cannot have influence over other people outside of the church unless they are rubbing shoulders with them. If people will not rub shoulders with other people in church, it is highly unlikely that they will rub shoulders with them outside of the church to influence them.

There have been people who have belied that I have been schooled by God on another "mountain" other than the "Mountains of Israel" which is God's undertaking to the Redeemed Israelites in the near future as God intends them to remain scattered in the ravines and valley where they are presently found, so that they can rub shoulders with the "Gentiles", i.e. other people groups, to show the way that they should walk in establishing their relationship with God. Sadly God's covenant promise that Abraham's descendants will be a blessing to all of the people of the earth cannot happen, if as many "christians" believe, that they will all be gathered back to the Land of Canaan when God redeems them.

If God requires the redeemed Israelites to remain scattered among the people, then, we in our Present day Churches should not be isolationists but rather we should be a people who are also prepared to walk among the nations to display our Love for God, as well as our warts, telling the people around us that God Loves them too and wants a special relationship with them. Just like Jesus did, He meet them where they were, and said to them that their sins were forgiven and to go and sin no more.

Perhaps there are people within the church who have not yet learned how they can go and sin no more.

Shalom

Christiane said...

From the Book of Zechariah, chapter 8, this:

23 This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“In those days ten people from all languages and nations
will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say,
‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’”


seems to me that people can either follow the way of the Pharisee who was self-righteous and contemptible of 'those other sinners' and who saw himself as 'better' than 'the others'

or

people can instead choose to follow instead the commands of the RISEN LORD


but not BOTH . . . people have to choose either the old way or the new way which was opened to the salvation of all mankind because Christ had, in His Incarnation, assumed all of wounded humanity to Himself in order that it might be healed

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, "AMEN and AMEN! Hallelujah and Praise the LORD!!" Thank-you for your heart! What you shared inspired a renewed desire in me to love my husband who has resisted God's call for over 30 years now. He doesn't wear orange or dress like a woman but I, now, see my situation with more of your perspective. The day in and day out of living with someone who, continually, "fights" what Christ is doing in and through me, gets very discouraging and wearisome. This message was just what I needed to keep on with enduring love and hope in and through the LORD of Love and Grace! I, too, find myself in Shabbethai!!

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

My prayer for you and your husband:

"God of all grace and Creator of every human being, in the name of Your Son, Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask that you continue to inspire this wife with a desire to display love, acceptance, and mercy to her lost husband. We believe by the Power of Your Spirit he will soon a man whose heart is filled with Your love and grace. However, timing is your Realm, not ours. All we do is ask and submit to Your will in terms of when. But we are reminded that "We have not because we ask not," so we lay our request before you. You have also told us that by our love "All will know that you are Mine," (John 13:35). Since it was Your faithful love and goodness that first led us to repentance, we ask for faithful love and goodness to this lost husband. By Your grace and for Your glory, please use this graced wife to bring Your love and grace to her husband's heart. In Christ's name, Amen."

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous,

My heart goes out for you. Ask your husband if he died tomorrow, would he go to heaven or hell.

Yesterday, Judy drove our neighbor, Lara Jones to the hospital. Please pray for her as she is due for open heart surgery. Her husband, Johnny, pasted about ten years ago from cancer.

You never could ‘get ahead of him’. He asked why I’d built a tower. (Before I had the slide.)

“I’m going to use a spotting scope and watch what you’re doing.”
“Well, I’m going to be looking back at you with my scope and it’s on a rifle!”

Wade Burleson said...

Shawn,

This man is only attending Emmanuel. We are trusting that our love and grace for him moves him to come to know Jesus.

Jesus changes hearts. Not us.

We agree that Christ is Lord of even the way a person dresses. The question is "Can Christians be friends to those who don't yet know Christ as Lord?"

I agree with Tom. This man is only rubbing shoulders with us. But I have a story I wish I could tell you about this man's family and a call they made to Emmanuel from far away. Without details, the call was made because "My son has told me the only people he's ever met who have loved him unconditionally are the people at Emmanuel and Pastor Wade."

It does remind me of the story of the woman at the well.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I do see similarities. In my opinion, most churches that struggle with vision, purpose, and transformational ministries struggle because of poor leadership.

Christiane said...

"Without details, the call was made because "My son has told me the only people he's ever met who have loved him unconditionally are the people at Emmanuel and Pastor Wade.""

Thank God !

Rex Ray said...

P.S. We lived about 200 yards apart.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I write in a file, and then ‘copy paste’. I’ve got to stop pasting without reading the latest comments. Some are almost at the same time. I didn’t see you’re saying, “I do see similarities”. What does that refer to?

Ah, I think I see the problem. If I read the comments without bringing up your blog again, the latest comments don’t show until I paste. (Is that right?)

Christiane said...

REX RAY,
can I help? not sure I can because I also am not 'computer literate' as is needed, but what happened and how did you want it to look?

you can't go too far wrong here when you are among friends.

Hope you are feeling well. My pup in the veterinary hospital is not thriving and we may have to make a decision today . . . I pray for the strength to do the right thing for my little fur baby. I am SO sad today.

You take care. Be well.

Shawn said...

I have no doubt that you are using and trusting your love to move him to know Jesus. Are you telling him emphatically that what he is doing is clearly an abomination per Scripture?

The Holy Spirit does move hearts to change, it is up to us to present the truth of the Gospel and the ways of God as are clearly presented in Scripture. Unfortunately your article began by following a writer who very much negated the clear teaching of Scripture.

No, the question is not “Can Christians be friends . . .” We all agree on that. The question is, “does that include bringing practicing and obvious sinners into the House of the LORD in front of the children.”

How do you handle questions children have about the gentleman?
Jesus “rubbed shoulders” with the woman AT THE WELL, not in the Temple or even in a synagogue. I am all for meeting the lost and witnessing to them “at the well/Starbucks/McDonalds/Facebook/etc.” but not in the church. Cannot “unconditional love” be demonstrated in those places or is the church building the only place (and the pastor the only person) to “rub shoulders”? Does “unconditional love” include pointing out sins and calling to repentance?

Victorious said...

I'm hesitant to post this incident in my own life, but when I read about the gentleman who you and your church so warmly accepted, it brought back this memory.

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, the group of girls I hung around with in high school decided I was no longer welcome at their lunch table. I decided the only option available to me was to bring my lunch and eat in the homeroom.

One day, a fellow freshman approached me and asked why I was eating alone in the homeroom. I merely explained that I had been told I was unwelcome to join those who were formerly my good friends. She quickly said that her group would love for me to join them in the cafeteria. I was very happy and did so the following day. I admit I felt out-of-place as I brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and these girls had dishes like eggplant Parmesan, spaghetti, antipasto, and others I had never had....they were all Italians. They graciously offered to share their dishes with me to acquaint me and I accepted. Then at that very same lunch, I was invited to join them over the weekend at a bowling party and pajama party. I was overjoyed at their invitation and acceptance of me as part of their group.

I must interject this unfortunate happening here although I'm unsure of it's relevance to my story. One of the teachers at the high school apparently noticed the change and called me into the office to inquire why I was hanging around with "all those Italians." I don't remember my response except to say I was shocked. It didn't change my decision, however, and I planned on attending the bowling and pajama party over the weekend.

But something changed in me following that shocking question by the teacher. All of a sudden I didn't feel like I fit in with all those Italian girls. (laughing allowed here...)
In order to fit in better, I dyed my hair black. When I arrived at the bowling alley, no one recognized me and I had to make myself known as the one I was prior to the hair change. They laughed a little and assured me that if I was more comfortable like that, it was ok but they wanted me to know it was the person inside that counted....not the color of my hair.

Because of their acceptance of me just as I was, I went back to being a red-haired, freckle-faced German girl! lol And those girls remained my best friends throughout high school and long afterward until I moved out of state with my family.

What I learned is we shouldn't "judge according to appearance" but the inward person is of importance. I was never going to look outwardly like those Italian girls, but inwardly I felt very much a part of the group and that gave me great joy!

As Christians we are often quick to judge according to outward appearances i.e. what type of clothing, makeup, tattoos, etc., but Jesus chided the Pharisees about their hypocrisy and judging according to appearance.

I'll keep that gentleman in my prayers and thank God for Italian girls, Wade, and the people at Enid for their acceptance of him.

Rex Ray said...

OK.

I’ve just read Lina’s comment being accepted in high school by Italians girls. I’m going to wait awhile, look to see if anymore comments have been added. Then exit from Wade’s blog, bring it back up and see if more comments have been added.

Anyone else want to try this experiment?

Shawn said...

Victorious -

Do you not see a distinction between dying your hair and the Italian girls and someone very openly and obviously violating the clear teaching of the Bible?

This isn't a matter or dress code aesthetics! This is a matter of a sin that is labeled and 'abomination' just like the practice found in Ezra that was so badly interpreted!

This isn't a matter of being kind to someone who is just different! This isn't a matter of showing Christian love to some out cast! This is a matter of accepting and welcoming a person openly flaunting a sexual sin in a society that is sinking fast in sexual sins; in the midst of churches openly accepting and welcoming gays and transgenders. Cross dressing is in that class of sin!

This is very concerning. Especially as this whole thread is based on an article that clearly argued that "no Ezra, the abomination they are committing and you are repenting about - you and Moses (writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) got it wrong."

Anonymous said...

Shawn, I am well aware cross dressing is an abomination. That said, do you check the taller ladies at the door to make sure they are not wearing a pink t shirt from the men's dept. at Sears (needing the length for modesty?)

I had a teacher who in high school was, dressed, and presented as female. But her hormonal problems meant a body shaped more like a man's, coarse beard she had to shave and try to hide with makeup, an obvious adam's apple and deep voice. If she showed up at your church would you let her in or assume she was a cross dressing man?

Of course, if Wade's friend is open about being a cross dressing male Wade, if he loves him, will let him know that is a sin. And call him to repentance.

But we must tread lightly. We do not tell the friend what he does is ok, or pretend we think he is female, or accept his behavior. But we treat him no differently than we do the overweight (gluttony is a sin), or serial adulterers aka those with serial divorces and remarriages, those who have born children out of wedlock, the gossips, the liars, the cheat on the income tax crowd, the speeders, the testy folks with a short fuse, etc.

And children are the easy part. You quietly and at home tell them sometimes when people are born they have birth defects, sometimes people get their thinking mixed up especially if bad things have happened to them, and sometimes people just throw a temper tantrum at God. We do not accept the bad things they do, we do not do those things with them, but if people doing the wrong things cannot go to church how will they learn the good things?

linda

Victorious said...

Shawn,

This isn't a matter or dress code aesthetics! This is a matter of a sin that is labeled and 'abomination' just like the practice found in Ezra that was so badly interpreted!

If you read Proverbs 6, you will see there are other things the Lord sees as an abomination. We might be sitting next to a habitual liar in church, a thief, or a sexual predator. But because some sins are done in secret, we accept those individuals into our fellowship.

It's about much more than what you have singled out as the reason for disassociation in the confines of a building we call church. It's about shunning, discriminating, judging, and neglecting to show love and mercy.

I, for one, searched for Jesus for a solid year and a half but did not find Him in a church although I tried. We don't know the condition of that man's heart and that's the bottom line as far as I'm concerned. I often wondered how God could bless David and/or Solomon when they flagrantly disobeyed the design of marriage. I can only surmise He knew their heart.

Shawn said...

Linda

I will pray for the Enid Church. It is headed in a very wrong direction.

By accepting him into church dressed as a woman he is being told that 'what you do is ok'. But, that sin is indeed different in degree and obviousness. I am afraid that if the pastor is allowing an individual who is flaunting an obvious sexually deviant sin (abomination is the word the Bible uses) then I have serious doubts that he is saying anything from the pulpit about the other sins. I would argue that anyone openly flaunting bastard children, multiple marriages, lying and cheating and not recognizing them as sin do not belong in church either. If those are not being preached against then I now understand accepting a cross dresser as welcome and treating him as normal in that church and are very concerned about the message of Christ in Oklahoma.

This is much more than 'people doing bad things.' This is openly doing abominable things and it being tacitly declared OK by the church leadership.

Shawn said...

Victorious,

If you will read Scripture David and Solomon were punished very severely for their sins. David's son died, his family was disrupted and torn apart.

Solomon had the kingdom torn asunder.

Read what the Bible says.

Rex Ray said...

End of my experiment is this comment. My last comment was Fri Oct 18,

Shawn said...

What are the results of the experiment Ray?

Wade Burleson said...

Shawn,

"I will pray for the Enid Church. It is headed in a very wrong direction."

Thanks for your prayers.

I'm not sure what you mean by "accepted him into the church dressed as a woman." I think I've already told you he attends. He's not even a professing believer. What would you have him do? Bar him from entrance into the building?

"I am afraid that if the pastor is allowing an individual who is flaunting an obvious sexually deviant sin (abomination is the word the Bible uses) then I have serious doubts that he is saying anything from the pulpit about the other sins."

Shawn, I talk about a Savior who saves His people "from their sins."

I find it fascinating in American Christian church culture that Christians want the preacher to talk about all the sins that they don't struggle with, but God forbid he mention overeating, gossip, pride, or religious sanctimonious behavior.

I find that when God changes the heart, the behavior follows. "Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin, or can the leopard change his spots? How can one accustomed to sin change his ways?" Answer: The power of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

We love sinners to Jesus.

Again, thanks for your prayers.



Rex Ray said...

Shawn,

Glad you asked about the experiment.

I made a comment on Wade’s blog, and without leaving the comments, I went to my “Comments to Wade 2019” file, where I write comments. I wrote a comment, and copied it. After a long time, I switched back to comments to Wade. All I saw was my last comment, but when I pasted my comment, five other comments that were invisible appeared.

The moral of this experiment: Bring up Wade’s blog, click on comments and the last one made will show at the bottom.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I’m amazed you file your comments. Good for you.

Wade Burleson said...

Victorious,

My wife read your two comments to me while I was driving to OKC.

Wow.

Very powerful illustrations of the power of acceptance. You changed to become like the people who embraced you. “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Demanding to conformity to any law by people who have no appreciation for the law leads to only hiding, running, or shaming. The law transforms no one. Love does.

Thanks for commenting.

Wade Burleson said...

Shawn,

An observation made by the paper you’ve read and I cite is that nowhere in Ezra does God speak. Men speak for God.

In the passages I’ve quoted in Zechariah, Isiah, and Jeremiah, God speaks. He says “Open the gates.” The Jewish counselors to Ezra say “close the gates.”

If you go back to the Torah, the prohibition for marrying foreign wives was established for a specific time and specific nations (according to the paper), but by 586 BC when the Temple was destroyed, the Jewish people taken captive, and Ezekiel’s vision of ‘the Glory departing Israel,” the emphasis was on the Good News to all nations, keeping the gates of the Temple open to all seeking God (see the aforementioned passages from Zechariah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah).

The interpretation you have (“close the gates, kick out the strangers, and make sure only the pure attend worship”) is not unfamiliar to me and most everyone who’s grown up in churches with similar philosophies.

Let’s assume for a moment that your view is correct.

Would you agree that Shabbethai and three other leaders of Jerusalem opposed Ezra to his face?

If so, then I would encourage you to relax. God’s people can disagree, argue, and see things differently, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be Kingdom people who all desire the same thing.

We just take different approaches. In the end, we are on the same team.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Wade, for that heart-felt prayer...my heart felt it. Now May God allow my husband to feel it!

Anonymous said...

Shawn, I have often taken children with "illegitimate parents" to church with me. I do not condone sex out of wedlock, but your statements make me feel you would condemn those children and condemn me for bringing them and "flaunting bastard children." I cannot tell you how distasteful that is. Ranks right up with vomit. Sorry, but it does.

I do not think you see we can agree with you that cross dressing is a sin and still allow a cross dresser to come to church and hear Jesus preached.

Had you attained sinless perfection before you were saved, or has it come afterward?

I say again, cross dressing by someone who is xx or xy and not mentally ill is a sin. But how will sinners be saved if they cannot come and hear the need to repent and be born again?

Is your church one where people pray "Lord, I fast twice a week and give a tithe of all I have. I thank you I am not like that cross dresser?"

linda

Rex Ray said...

To Whoever,

One of our favorite comedy TV shows is “Frasier”. He has a younger brother, Niles. Both are mental therapists, but go overboard on everything. Niles is very small while Frasier is large.

One show had Niles planning to use his ‘knowledge’ to help a nudist club. He went to their meeting undressed as them. But it turned out to be a lady’s prayer group.

He complained to his brother they threw their bibles at him.

Now, if Niles had gotten the address wrong and entered Wade’s church, would he have been loved or would there have been bibles in the air?

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

One difficulty with your hypothetical.

Illegal activities are not only unacceptable, our security would arrest the person entering naked.

Unless you know of a state or federal law that says a woman who dresses like a man or a man who dresses like a woman is doing something illegal, your analogy is frankly silly.

Wade Burleson said...

Linda,

Precisely.

Rex Ray said...


Wade,

Sorry you took me seriously. I’m not very good at being funny.

Daryl said...

Wade,

It seems to me that you are trying some sort of rationalization for Gary's cross dressing. If after 2 years of coming to Bible teaching worship services, he has not realized that what he is doing is a sin, then maybe you should better explain it to him. I don't know him personally but my desire would be for him to be saved, if he is not. I did not hear you say that what he is doing is wrong and to stop doing it. I find it difficult to explain your message to my teenage children as well. I just want some clarity on your stance as well as church leadership on this.

Sincerely,
Concerned Church Member

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Once a man that I’ll name ‘Stranger’ called a pastor (your father, Paul) and wanted him to put his wedding announcement in their church bulletin. He was politely told that was not done even for church members.

The next Sunday, while Paul was preaching, Stranger walked toward the pulpit. Holding the church bulletin, and saying over and over, “IT’S NOT IN HERE.” Some men escorted him outside, and he left.

I’ve forgotten the details, but later Stranger was apprehended about something. They found on him a list of people that he was going to ‘get, kill, or something’ and Paul was on the list.

The point is, Stranger needed to be cared for in a mental institution but not in church. I feel the same way about “crossdresser”.

Anonymous said...

Daryl: how long do you allow the obese to continue attending church without seriously dieting? how long do you allow gossips and judgmental folks and those disrespectful of others to attend before you bounce them out? Tell your kids the truth: some folks are not born clearly xx or xy, and some that are on a dna test still have malfunctioning hormone systems. And some folks have a mental illness that causes this behavior. and that yes, some are just plain determined to sin. Since assuming you are neither their physician nor the Holy Spirit, we just treat them kindly AND let them know the Bible says for males to present male and females female. The crossdresser may not like that, but it really is the right thing to do. By now I assume Wade has made it clear to the guy cross dressing is a no no. So I figure either the guy knows he has a physical or mental problem or else he may be under conviction and seeking God since he still comes. But lets assume the worst: lets assume he is all male, no mental illness, and is just in downright hardcore rebellion and yanking Wade and Emmanuel's chain. Jesus has already answered that one: we do not have to like, accept, or promote his deviancy but we go the extra mile with him. And trust God is quite capable of dealing with such blatant sin, either with punishing him, destroying him, or converting him into a saint.

Rex Ray--I have a mentally ill son who becomes violent and truly should stay locked up. Not enough beds so they treat and street him. While I agree some who cross dress are mentally ill, some are physically atypical, and some for sure just into rebellion, I honestly cannot see hospitalizing anyone for this.

I would like society to be a tad less accepting of all deviancies including this one. A person who will not invite a cross dresser over for tea and scones is not a hater or a transphobe and should not be maligned.

At the same time, I find tattoos disgusting and scripturally forbidden. I could make a pretty good Biblical case against pink and purple hair, nose rings, etc, but those prohibitions would mean removing all that expensive jewelry including wedding sets, etc. And since it isn't color specific in the Bible in the places where I would make my case, I guess simply covering gray should get us a place in an asylum. Let's save the beds for those that are violent.

I've actually lived where a cult was so strong Baptists were considered at least borderline mentally ill. Born again? yeah right, another nut job.

This is a good thread--reminds me all our RIGHTEOUSNESSES are as filthy rags. Wonder just how nutty and deviant Jesus sees all of us?

linda

Anonymous said...

And what of the mental health of those who claim to be Christian
and yet EXCUSE the taking of infants from their mothers' arms
by a monster,
by saying that 'the same thing was done by the last monster'?

Christians don't do that.
They don't do that.
No.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray,

I am familiar with the dysfunctional situation with the church and pastor you discuss above. The church has moved on to be a healthy, growing, and thriving congregation. Their current pastor has been there for several years and the church has grown in size and ministry. Though I have never attended there, I hope to get to visit someday. I have friends there who keep me informed and I would not hesitate to recommend the church to someone in the area as a good place to attend.

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous,

Are you implying there was something “dysfunctional” with the church and pastor when the NUT invaded their church?

And by saying “The church has moved on to be a healthy, growing, and thriving congregation”, does that imply the church wasn’t at the time?

I’m sorry if that’s true because I consider Paul a close friend.

Shawn said...

Wade wrote: 'Would you agree that Shabbethai and three other leaders of Jerusalem opposed Ezra to his face?'
No, that is not what the text says. It says merely that 'they opposed this.' You and the good Dr. are setting this one verse against the 43 other verses that describe Ezra's confession and prayer in great detail and putting their opposition against his confession. Grammatically their opposition is a side note and you two are raising that to the top and above a great confession and prayer and ignoring the fact that the point of the text was that the women were from the nations still practicing the abominations! Just like your cross dressing prospect.

Linda wrote: "you would condemn those children and condemn me for bringing them and "flaunting bastard children." If you truly believe that then you have not read what I have written and are implying that I am all for abortions of rapes and incest because they were conceived in sin.

The gentleman can hear the gospel preached outside of the church can he not? Or is Wade the only one there presenting the gospel and then only in the building?

It did incite a blog post of meown.

https://conanlibrarian.com/the-church-and-the-stranger-ezra-and-nehemiah/

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray, I'm not implying anything about the church prior to the events you are referring to and sorry I didn't make my intent more clear. You detailed a terrible series of events in the church's history and left enough breadcrumbs so that the church was identifiable. I do not know what the church was like before these events took place but I do know that they have moved forward since then and wanted to make it known so that if someone was looking for a church home in the area that this congregation is a safe place to be now. I passed their campus last Friday and made a point of praying for them as I did.

As far as leadership boards, I am deeply concerned about the move within some SBC churches to elder boards that are self perpetuating. I recently read by-laws from a church that is transitioning to elder leadership and while future elders are elected by the congregation, the current elder board is the nominating body.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Pastor Wade, for your Christ-like welcome to all, and your example of holy living. There is no contradiction in those.
I lament self-identified "Christian leaders" who take issue with this much-needed message.