Crisis or Opportunity?

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106 Responses

  1. Laura Scott says:

    Opportunity. What other answer is there?

  2. Michael says:

    So far the answer has been bitching, moaning, and expecting persecution.

  3. Em says:

    great post – a gift for me today to go with the cooler weather here
    the Church has to learn to stand – repeat stand … and know what the ground we’re standing/holding is all about … we have some wonderful teachers that have been shoved into the background far too long … some are manning the pulpits of those small inconsequential-so-called congregations for far too long – praying for good, sound teachers to be heard

  4. Michael says:

    Thanks, Em. 🙂

  5. Laura Scott says:

    Michael, it’s good thing then that all the bitching, moaning, and expecting of persecution is not going to hold off the will of God. Isaiah 55 makes that pretty clear.

    It’s going to be messy in the execution, but it’s an opportunity all the way. #ministryfirst

  6. Em says:

    INHO, it is good to sound the warning of the direction we’re headed (persecution looming), but if i’m going to be persecuted, i want to stand and look them in the eye, like Stephen… that may be presumptuous, but there is strength in having an understanding of and a faith in the revealed word of God… the mind of Christ indwelling will not cower – it can’t – i want that strength… i want to know that God the Holy Spirit is ready to back my stand and strengthen my weak knees …

    just talking big here … talking about how i want to be when i grow up 🙂

  7. A Friend says:

    Good article, I largely agree.

  8. Michael says:

    Let me be clear.
    We need to clean up our own house first.
    We have to live this Gospel in front of people.
    We need to confess and repent of our corporate sin and when we get off our knees from doing so the world will look quite different.

  9. A Friend says:

    Ya, I hear you. That one pricks me, too.

  10. A Friend says:

    Where do I begin.

    Gotta clean up my language, my approach, my over-eating, my lust, my pride, my anger, etc etc etc.

    Well, thank God I’m not gay! 🙂

  11. Josh the Baptist says:

    Honest questions:

    1. “Our own house”? Who is the”our” in this statement.

    2. “Our corporate sin”. What sins are these?

    3. At which point will we know that we are clean enough of our own issues to address the world’s issues?

  12. A Friend says:

    …after watching that recent CCSPC…not sure many of those manly mens can claim the same LOL

  13. Michael says:

    Josh,

    We are already “addressing” them, but our moral authority has been weakened by our own behavior.

    I am a member of the church universal and the church identified as evangelical in this country.

    When someone from my tribe sins publicly it reflects on me.
    When someone from your tribe sins publicly, it reflects on me.

    I think many have sold their Christian birthright for political influence or wealth or any one of a number of things that have diluted our true ability to influence with the undiluted Gospel.

    If we got serious about a season of confession and repentance in the church, my guess is that God through the Holy Spirit would show us all these things and more.

    We will never be completely clean of problems…but we can be known as people who confess their own dirt and seek to be clean in the blood of Jesus.

  14. Paige says:

    Good words, Michael…… Interesting comments from your media contact…

    High time for the church to resign from cannibalism and/or pressing the limits of God’s patience and get back to the Basics that drew us all in in the first place.

    I had a “Make Your Own Application with the Cat” morning….Our most affectionate cat, Bella made me think of how I hope God views, at least partially, people…. The most enchanting thing about this cat is that she just plain likes to be with me/us. Her enjoyment of our company is what makes her so endearing to us. She doesn’t DO anything to contribute to the house, except to litter it with her hair and leave ‘stuff’ in the box for me to scoop and toss. She doesn’t earn a living, doesn’t do housework or anything… BUT she LIKES to BE with me/us. Is this the ‘work’ that delights God? Make your own….. you know.

  15. Michael says:

    Paige,

    Well done!

  16. Josh the Baptist says:

    And there is the problem. Roughly 100 million evangelicals. So I’ll wait for all those people to repent before addressing these larger cultural issues. Which will be…oh…never.

    That is the great thing about having one single standard to refer to. If killing is wrong for the world, it is wrong for me to. Doesn’t mean I don’t kill, but I must then honestly examine the standard and see that I am in the wrong.

    Right is right and wrong is wrong. It seems that we sit around and wait for the world to approve of our piety, and then maybe they will ask how they can get some. It will never happen. The world will always follow the flesh. We must deliver the true Gospel now, and be thankful that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

  17. A Friend says:

    No, I think Michael is saying that the evangelical message and Gospel will be much more effectively delivered and received if Christians focus on cleaning up their own house. It gives us more credibility and opens more ears to the message.

  18. fyi says:

    We can only repent of our own individual sins. A Friend hit a home run with his short post. It begins with each of us individually. J. Vernon used to preach that the way to pray for revival was to draw a circle on the ground, stand in it, and pray, ‘Lord, let revival come inside this circle!’ We can only speak to those in our immediate area of influence. Nothing personal here (I enjoy this site a lot), but blogs and comments are written by people overlooking their own sins while focusing on the BIG PICTURE. In the process, they are praying outside the circle of their own lives. God still uses men/women completely committed to Him. My repentance begins with, “Lord, forgive me for not being that man and change me!’ Change begins with each one of us doing what God tells us to do and what He convicts us of. Jesus had only 12 men to begin with; why do we think we need everyone?

  19. Michael says:

    We’ve been addressing the cultural issues…it’s not working real well at this point.

    I’m doing a study of Amos at our church.

    In the beginning of the book God affirms the judgment of His covenant people that the surrounding nations are wicked and that He will judge them.

    Then He just lays into His own people for their sins and calls them to corporate repentance.

    I’m not proposing anything unbiblical.

  20. Michael says:

    fyi,

    Then let’s get out a big eraser and take out all the places in the OT where God calls for corporate repentance.
    Then you can use the other end of the eraser to blot out the messages to the churches in Revelation.

    Any group activity starts with each person in the group…

  21. A Friend says:

    I think it’s a both, I agree with fyi and Michael. The two work in tandem to be a true revival…however, the primary responsibility is on the individual…but Leaders lead and followers follow.

  22. Michael says:

    Just for context…some of you need to read those prophets of judgment in the OT.

    What really angers God isn’t necessarily what angers the church in this country today…it might be good to know what really ticks Him off.

  23. Michael says:

    Amos 5 is a great example…Isaiah 58-59…

  24. Josh the Baptist says:

    Oh, I agree. Repentance is completely biblical, and should be a daily process in the life of a believer. think many believers are living that. I agree with fyi, that we can’t wait around for the “corporate cleaning”.

    I taught through Amos last year. That is actually what I was thinking of in my last post. The verse that says (I will google it in a minute) something like “My people are bent away from me”.

    I’m not particularly disagreeing with you, just trying to flesh out the implications a little.

  25. A Friend says:

    When kids see their parents living a certain way…they tend to follow.

    When “sheep” see a pastor and the church leadership living and dealing in a certain way…they tend to follow.

    That’s how it works in practical human terms, in general.

    If the church leadership focuses on the sins of the “evil outsiders!”…then that tends to be the focus of the followers.

    If the leadership focuses on defining success as a big following and big money budgets etc…that will be the desire of the followers etc.

  26. Michael says:

    A Friend @ 25…exactly.

  27. OCDan says:

    What was it Peter penned about judgment begins in the House of the Lord?

    Michael, spot on with this post. You name it, the church is guilty, and not just in the past, but recently.

    Child abuse, spousal abuse, financial deception, idol worship of celeb pastors.

    Corporately, we are a wreck and as you pointed out, so graciously, it reflects on all of us.

    Christ sees us individually, yes. But He also sees the church as one, as well. Keep in mind, when we sin individually, we are not just staining the church, we are staining His reputation in the eyes of the world, which also doesn’t help our witness. I know God is sovereign, but what I am saying is the church and individually, by God’s grace, can do better, if you know what I mean. Not for salvation, but as a witness.

    Lastly, didn’t Paul write something about living in a way that no one will even bring a false accusation against you?

    Just preach the Gospel. It’s high time to stop with the culture wars and call people to repentance with the Gospel. Enough with the big building programs. Didn’t James say something about orphans and widows, not ginormous buildings?

    It’s high-time the church gets its house in order and figures out what it is supposed to be doing. God’s work, which is saving souls, not complaining about tax codes.

  28. Josh the Baptist says:

    I was apparently thinking of Hosea 11:7.

  29. Michael says:

    “For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live; but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing.”
    Seek the LORD and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth!”
    (Amos 5:4–7 ESV)

    Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba were places of worship.
    Israel was still religious.
    God cursed them because they did not practice justice among the people and cared nothing for righteousness.
    Justice.
    Righteousness.
    Without them God is either angry or absent.

    Every prophet speaks to those same two things.
    Over and over again.
    Along with one more…the oppression of the poor and marginalized.

    If a man of God preaches on the need for justice, righteousness, the breaking of oppression and the aid of the poor then he’s labeled a damn liberal.

    Unfortunately, God preaches on those matters endlessly and expects His leaders to do so as well.

  30. Michael says:

    ““I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
    (Amos 5:21–24 ESV)

    Stop all your religious works and songs until you make justice and righteousness your cause, sayeth the Lord.

  31. fyi says:

    Michael, I don’t disagree with you on the prophet passages. But notice how righteous,beloved Daniel prayed for repentance (Dan.9:4-19) not by cleaning up Israel, but by appealing to the nature and character of God. He confessed the sins of Israel and included himself (what did he do wrong?) and then appealed to God’s mercy for rescue. You are calling for an institutional cleansing of the church (one that will meet with your approval for integrity and function) before impacting the culture. God uses individuals and not institutions to do so. That means that your circle of influence (and mine and A Friend’s) will be more effective if we clean up our act and stop worrying about GFA or SGM or CC and be faithful to what God wants from us. I can’t, nor can you, stop the divorce rate in the church. I cant make people stop getting drunk; even pastors talk like drinking is somehow a cool thing. What I can do (and you and the rest of us) is live for Jesus and be light to everyone who comes our way. I think Jesus will send LOTS of people our way if we decide individually to do all things as unto the Lord. When we who claim to be leaders in the church use foul language, when we are inconsistent with our walk and misrepresent Jesus in the process, look to the institutional church and scold them (your posts often sound like you are scolding the church), we miss Daniel’s point of falling on our individual faces to confess our own sins. As you know, the church is not Israel and israel is not the church. Our responsibility is greater…

  32. Josh the Baptist says:

    “I hate, I despise your feasts,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
    22 pEven though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
    and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
    I will not look upon them.
    23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    to qthe melody of your harps I will not listen.
    24 But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

    Ouch.

  33. Josh the Baptist says:

    Wow. Michal is much quicker than me.

  34. Michael says:

    fyi,

    Yes, we must confess and repent individually.
    However, we also have a corporate responsibility.
    That is clear throughout the entirety of Scripture.

  35. Michael says:

    Good work, Josh!

    Here’s another…after a similar passage rejecting the religious exercises of His people.

    ““Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 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, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.”
    (Isaiah 58:6–12 ESV)

  36. Michael says:

    I will not stop worrying about GFA or any other group…there are putting stumbling blocks in front of both the church and the world and I have a responsibility as a member of the Body of Christ to seek justice and righteousness in my own ranks before seeking it elsewhere.

    God says so.

  37. Josh the Baptist says:

    Where I lean towards fyi is that Corporate responsibility is darn near impossible in the scope of American Evangelicalism. I’ll take the darn near out. It is impossible.

    I saw a pastor friend in my state celebrating that his churched received a certificate from an LGBT Christian group for being an Open and Affirming church.

    Hard to agree on repentence when we can’t agree on what is sin.

  38. Michael says:

    Now I’m well aware that the church isn’t Israel and we don’t live in a theocracy.

    However, the things that anger the Lord have not changed, nor have the things that bring His blessing.

  39. fyi says:

    Michael, my last post on this: I assume that your corporate responsibility begins in the church, with the people, God gives you to teach and love. I assume you are modeling Jesus for them. That is what you (and I) will be judged for. I have no influence on your gathering nor you on mine. We are only responsible for what He calls us to do. I have no doubt your people are loved and well taught. I have no doubt that you agonize in prayer for them. I have no doubt that you set an example for them of kindness, of pure actions and speech, and that when they see you, they see Christ in you. I have no doubt you will hear well done. You will not be judged for GFA or anyone else nor can you influence them with a blog. Is the church guilty of sin? Of course. But the only way the church can change is when individuals respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repent. That’s when we see revival. One man/woman at a time. I do the best I can to make sure the church I lead is genuine. I am sure you do as well.

  40. Michael says:

    Josh,

    It is exceedingly difficult and may be impossible.
    That doesn’t remove one iota of my responsibility to try.
    We’re not called to be successful, but faithful.

  41. Babylon's Dread says:

    I agree there is a fresh interest in apologetics, which is one more check mark in the Catholic box because they are good at it. Calvinists are a close second.

    I also am in the crisis category….
    1-I really do not think people think through a matter to see the implications of what is happening.
    2-The “love” crowd have no real plan as to what that looks like. It sounds mostly like accommodation to me.
    3-Retraction in numbers could be good for the church… right now the liberals are dancing in the streets because finally people might come their way to be “against” something… which of course has always been a conservative bastion.

    Now while all of this is going on I am having people get their lives changed by the power of God almost daily. I have more “kingdom sightings” than I have ever seen.

    Finally, “We have the only answer”

    The Gospel is always up for grabs and being redefined. The GOOD NEWS is that what God has promised he has performed. The Savior has come, he has defeated the enemy, he has forgiven sin, he has established an unshakeable kingdom and he has given us a sure hope of life eternal.

  42. Michael says:

    fyi,

    I will be judged for ignoring GFA if I have a platform for influence and fail to use it.

    I have that platform and I will continue to use it to fight unrighteousness when I’m aware of it.

  43. Paige says:

    #40 t is exceedingly difficult and may be impossible.
    That doesn’t remove one iota of my responsibility to try.
    We’re not called to be successful, but faithful.

    That’s all an individual can do…..

    Great posts and scripture verses. Thank you.

  44. Michael says:

    “The Gospel is always up for grabs and being redefined. The GOOD NEWS is that what God has promised he has performed. The Savior has come, he has defeated the enemy, he has forgiven sin, he has established an unshakeable kingdom and he has given us a sure hope of life eternal.”

    We should be shouting that…with joy.

  45. Michael says:

    Paige,

    Thank you…because you have helped me carry on all these years while carrying on yourself and helping so many.
    You are a saint and much loved.

  46. Michael says:

    I usually teach through the Scriptures.
    Last week, I preached Amos 5…thought they might have to turn the hoses on me. 🙂

  47. Josh the Baptist says:

    I started Revelation this past week. First time ever teaching it.

  48. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Very political book…very good to teach after the minor prophets I’m finding as well.
    I may follow up Amos with it.

  49. Babylon's Dread says:

    Josh,

    Enjoy that ride sir… I never preached Revelation until 1998 because I wanted to give a word based on a life of study… I hope it is a fruitful venture for you and the people.

    I also waited on the book of Hebrews until 2004…
    And did not preach Romans until 2013-14…

    It was worth the wait.

  50. Kevin H says:

    How I see where our priorities should lay in regards to concerns of righteousness.

    1. Ourselves
    2. Our immediate circle of influence (of those who are fellow Christians)
    3. Our branch/group/denomination/etc. of Christianity
    4. The church universal
    5. The rest of the world

    Being concerned about the righteousness of any of these groups is not wrong, and is probably proper that we have concern about each and every one of them. However, we often get our priorities out of whack, and that’s where we go wrong.

    Also, I would think the further down the priority list we go, the less influence we can and will have in general. Not that we can’t ever influence the lowest priorities, but will likely have the least effect.

  51. Xenia says:

    Michael, get to know your neighbors! Show the people on your street the love of Christ. Impact those nearest to you. These are the people the Lord has given you, not some undefinable “we the church.”

  52. Michael says:

    Kevin H,

    I think that’s accurate.
    When I teach, I focus only on 1-2.

    Then the rest should fall into place on its own.

  53. Kevin H says:

    One addendum to my list, I do think God has given some people more influence over one or more of groups 3-5. So those who have been given influence should not ignore those abilities to influence. Yet, they still need to keep their priorities in check.

  54. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    The assumption of your comment is that I’m not.
    I’ve been called and dragged out of my hermitage a lot lately.
    far too much for my own tastes, but I’m trying to be obedient.

    God has also given me a bigger platform and I’m called to use it too.

  55. Josh the Baptist says:

    ” These are the people the Lord has given you, not some undefinable “we the church.” ”

    I agree with that. That is my conviction as well.

    I don’t assume that Michael doesn’t love his noeghbors, though, and I don’t think Xenia meant that either.

  56. Michael says:

    So…I should only use this blog for the church I pastor?
    God didn’t give me a much broader platform to speak to the church in general?

    My guess is that Israel told Amos to go home too…or somewhere warmer. 🙂

  57. Xenia says:

    Michael told us a few weeks ago that he did not know his neighbors and did not care to know them.

  58. Jim says:

    Good post!

    Can we now stop expecting the world to act like the church and just start being the church?

    I’m not criticizing what Michael does here (at all!), but I’m personally much more healthy since I stopped expecting the church to act like the church, and refocused on loving my neighbors.

  59. Josh the Baptist says:

    Michael, was your 56 in response to me? I’m confused.

  60. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    That is true.
    First, I’m very introverted.
    Second, I pour what I have into a very demanding home life, my church, and what’s left goes online.

    Almost since I wrote that, I’ve been called out more into the community.
    It’s difficult, painful, and exhausting to me.
    I do it anyway.

  61. Jim says:

    X speaks the truth, but is possible that Micheal was in cranky hyperbole mode.

  62. Michael says:

    I wrote that as something I needed to offer up to God and with enough hyperbole to hopefully make others think as well.

    That’s the objective of that column.

    It still remains true…I’m not comfortable in such situations and probably never will be.

  63. Jim says:

    We cross-posted, but good to hear, Michael.

    If you want to meet your neighbors, get a Golden Retriever and walk it. 🙂

  64. Michael says:

    Jim,

    I’ve met them.
    One hates cats and wants to poison all of them, the other side wants to lecture me on immigration issues because he hates Mexicans.

    I either have to move or redefine the word “neighbor’ to include the people I actually deal with.

  65. Jim says:

    Just to clarify, I was making three points @ 58.

    Don’t expect the world to act like the church.

    Don’t expect the church to act like the church.

    Act like the church.

  66. Michael says:

    Jim,

    That’s a good word.
    I now have to go deal with my “neighbors” at the skate park. 🙂

  67. Jim says:

    Micheal,

    My neighbors are mostly liberal, gun hating yankees who talk too loud.

    I could tell a story about a guy I’m friendly with now, who started our first encounter with, “you’re an asshole!” He became my mission in life.

  68. Jim says:

    Micheal,

    To be fair, you’ve been doing great things at the skate park for years. I’m glad to hear it’s ongoing.

  69. Xenia says:

    I’m not comfortable driving but I have taken it up again and here’s the little story behind it:

    I quit driving five or six years ago. My husband was happy to take me everywhere and I did a lot of walking. People (old people, mostly) that I knew would ask me if I could drive them to the doctor’s office or the store and I had my “Sorry, I don’t drive” excuse. So I was off the hook for a lot of things that I didn’t really want to do. Who wants to drive a shaky old lady to the doctor’s and sit and wait and then bring her home again? Not me! So I had this excuse.

    Recently, a lady at our church came down (rather suddenly) with dementia. She was growing forgetful but now she was hallucinating. Her driver’s license was taken away. She desperately wanted someone to drive her to church but of course, I had my “Sorry sister, I don’t drive” excuse. This began to eat at my conscience. Why couldn’t I drive? I was hiding behind a personality peculiarity (fear of making left hand turns into traffic; fear of merging) to really hinder my ability to be useful to our church. It was selfish. So I decided to take up driving again, scary as I find it.

    I began to drive my husband’s car around town and got over the initial panic. Mostly went places that only required right-hand turns; avoided the freeway, etc. But with practice, I got more confident. My husband bought me a little, easy to drive car. I get around now. I am now available to drive elderly friends to their appointments, if they can stand riding with me.

  70. Michael says:

    Jim,

    I think I’m just getting old.
    I’ve always been an introvert, but I really hate going anywhere these days.

    The blog exhausts me after long…I am finding social media to be very draining as well.

    I’m just old and crazy.

  71. Jim says:

    “I’m just old and crazy.”

    Who isn’t? 🙂

  72. Em says:

    one thing i know for certain, if God’s plan calls for a strong Church out in front of the world now, the Holy Spirit will get it done… “they” will grab some poor unsuspecting Stephen who’s just out there loving the Lord, trying to gain ground in the faith and refusing to cater to the latest sin du jour cause – the reporters will stick a bunch of microphones and cameras in his/her face and out will come something like Acts 7:51-57

  73. A Friend says:

    Dread said, ” agree there is a fresh interest in apologetics, which is one more check mark in the Catholic box because they are good at it. Calvinists are a close second.”

    Deconstructionists and Critical Thinkers are the best at it…in reverse.

  74. A Friend says:

    I find Apologetics to be a dead end…b/c it often leads to Logic and Deconstructionism (I was once an ardent calvinist and apologist)…which leads to Liberalism…which leads to Universalism…which leads to Who the ‘frick’ knows….which leads you back to God and Child-like Faith.

    Been through that Cycle a couple of times in my life…in fact, I remember sharing that very same Conclusion on this blog when I first started here during the Dave Rolph discussion regarding Theo-Logos and Theo-logical.

    God is spirit, there are some core truths, there must be some constructionism or there is no meaning to things, etc. but apologetics and doctrine/theology are not God.

  75. A Friend says:

    Dreadly, you’ll enjoy this…I sat under some rather charismatic black dudes and their teachings/messages about life and Jesus etc…the “holy spirit” moved me. There’s still a smoldering ember in there that won’t go out.

  76. A Friend says:

    BUT, I understand why humans are drawn to apologetic and doctrine/theology. WE need life and this existence and the universe to make sense to us. We need some order, some security that we can figure some things out. It’s the existential insecurity of every human soul.

  77. Xenia says:

    I find that apologetics needs to be done with an attitude of extreme humility or it is a sounding brass. If there’s even a smidgen of competitiveness or the crafting of “gotcha” moments, it will just make the other party dig in their heels even more.

    I think the best way to have an apologetics conversation with someone is to explore the areas where there is agreement and then go from there, very gently. I personally am too competitive to be able to do this. God has his holy apologists out there… mostly not on the internet, though.

  78. Xenia says:

    New Christians, or new converts to a different kind of Christianity are often drawn to argumentative apologetics. Nothing more obnoxious than a new Calvinist or new Orthodox. It’s pretty carnal, most of the time. People usually grow out of it.

  79. Babylon's Dread says:

    A Friend

    Yes …

  80. Linda Pappas says:

    This is what I have been saying all along the way when posting on this blog. Wasn’t accused of being liberal, but rather legalistic and holier than thou.

    Although homeless and still in hiding, I hang on to that which I know to be true and to be true to Him, in all my ways, as much as depends upon me, and He (Holy Spirit) who strengthens me as life pours out in front of me—waiting upon Him, while taking note of the world about me and what place I have in it each day—being one of many, yet precious, ever so precious to Him, nevertheless.

    Glad to see you get into the Old Testament, Michael.

    Woo Hoo—–Alex, hats off to you, in so may ways!!

  81. Em says:

    #77 – a big amen from this corner
    much like coming to the communion table, discourse of any kind regarding God’s truths, His revelation to us must be, as Xenia noted, without competitiveness or any sense of self promotion or justification… humility and reverence – keeping in the back of one’s mind (not too far back) exactly who we are and who God is… as Paul understood, we decrease and Christ increases – almost always

  82. Em says:

    Linda, homeless and hiding? … or without a church home? … either way praying for you … and for all of us

    God keep

  83. Dare I disagree? 😉 What is with all of this OT threats of damnation in a NT Church. I see where Jesus says to go proclaim that the kingdom is here – I see where Jesus says to go into all the world making disciples (by baptizing and teaching – sorry Bob). I see where it is written that no matter what you do, plant, water, harvest – Jesus will provide a harvest of growth.

    Lutherans are weak on apologetics because it sounds too much like trying to convince and cajole people to become Christians, where as we would prefer to preach the word and let the word do it’s work. I am in the middle of teaching Matt 11 – go and read what Jesus told the disciples to do when he sent them out. He told them to proclaim the presence of his kingdom and if anyone objected, move on to the next person or the next town.

    In the end, if I have to “clean up my act” before I can proclaim God’s kingdom then a lot of people are going to miss out. But I think that God’s message can over ride a scoundrel like me and get through to the down and out population.

  84. actually I think I am still in10 🙂

  85. Michael says:

    “What is with all of this OT threats of damnation in a NT Church.”
    I’m glad you brought that up.
    I’m in no way proclaiming damnation, only discipline.

  86. Michael says:

    “I am in the middle of teaching Matt 11”

    Keep working…you could get a year ahead of your posting schedule… 🙂

  87. Patrick says:

    I am all for apologetics, but it all depends on where one starts.

    For example I can start with God and his holiness and his creation etc. and have a person admit that there must be a God, even have them admit that they have offended this God and have them become deists at worst and maybe people who try to clean up there act to appease this God.

    Or I can start and end with Christ(his life, death, and resurrection for them) and be sure that IF they are given repentance and faith, it won’t just be because they were convinced of a six day creation or some other issue that is secondary.

    Honestly, as a Lutheran there is nothing better than to talk to people who have been baptized and then tell them what Scripture says about baptism and what God does in baptism and then ask them if they are living as a baptized child of God should. Usually, they get silent for a bit and realize that they have taken the gift for granted and they feel contrition as the Law does its work which then allows me to tell them that God loves them and says to come home. It’s a beautiful thing!

  88. victorious says:

    Michael as you move into Revelation I have always believed that the letters to the Churches provide the foundation that we can expect Jesus to take the initiative in judging His church in the form of His personal evaluation that includes affirmations , calls for focused repentance, warnings where appropriate and promises of His ongoing presence and ultimate rewards.

    He simultaneously addresses leaders of local churches, local church fellowships and individuals both of local fellowships and individuals of the corporate church at large indirectly.

    He seems to desire corporate repentance but focuses upon the individual as the impetus for any communal or corporate repentance .

    Praying that you continue to find encouragement , wisdom and strength in the multi-faceted love of God through Christ in the Holy Spirit as a son and as a leader and yes, as a disciple who has a God given grace fueled prophetic platform of influence.

  89. SJ says:

    Michael, any of these one of the dudes your had lunch with?
    http://events.apologetics.com/speakers-bureau/
    Stumbled upon this Apologetics Radio Show a while back. It’s on at 12 am Friday nights here in the OC, with all the former shows here. Some very good ones and as you would guess some social fluff episodes as well.
    http://apologetics.com/radio/

  90. SJ
    I have listen to Apologetics.com for about 12 yrs. It’s not fluff – it’s usually a very philosophical response to how a Christian looks at and lives life. They are more in the shoes of John Warwick Montgomery than they are Walter Martin

  91. SJ says:

    When I said fluff I meant when they were light on a “strong” subject WRT the more classical topics. You know what I mean.
    No digg at all, it is great programming. I love listening to Joe Slunaker, OT scholar.

  92. Ms. ODM says:

    As the late Walter Martin taught me, and even said this as he officiated at my wedding, “the gospel is a two-sided coin. One side is the proclamation of it and the other side is the defense of it.” Apologetics in that sense is the responsibility of every believer. It is no more a specialty than prayer and charity. You can’t put the gospel on hold while you ‘get your act together.’ If you did that, that would be the end of evangelism. In these days churches are a mixed multitude — the goats outnumbering the sheep in most places. Good luck cleaning that up. So get out there into the highways and byways and snatch some out of the fire. No excuses!!

  93. Babylon's Dread says:

    Matthew 11 was the key passage in my research…

  94. A Friend says:

    Ms. ODM said, “In these days churches are a mixed multitude — the goats outnumbering the sheep in most places. Good luck cleaning that up.”

    Still not sure about how you tell the goat from the sheep and vise versa based on behavior and what you see on the outside vs. the heart.

    In my direct experiences, a man or woman can seem very pious and righteous on the veneer…another person can seem very rough and carnal on the outside…yet the perfect-looking person can have the heart of the devil…while the carnal ragamuffin can have a good heart.

    Which is the goat? Both?

  95. A Friend says:

    It strikes me as odd that most of the apologetics folks who want to argue people to Jesus have such a terrible attitude towards those they are trying to “save”

    If the motive is purely out of concern for that soul and their well-being…why is the attitude portrayed like what I see when two bitter sports’ rivals go toe-to-toe and try to rip each others heads off in a cage?

  96. Steve Wright says:

    Our culture went through a sizable change in the 1960s too. And while some of the effects we still bemoan today there was also a great many who later came to Christ when what they were promised by the culture did not in fact…deliver.

    Except many (but certainly not all) of those coming to Christ did so through new churches and not necessarily the established churches of their parents.

    I said in a message just a couple weeks ago that many people are going to find that the culture today has not delivered what it has promised, and are going to look elsewhere – maybe the Gospel. However, maybe not at our present churches for whatever reason.

    Thus my earlier point this week that I have a hard time opposing new churches (if those churches are faithful to the truth of Scripture). They just might be the means to reach those who are lost today.

  97. Rob Murphy says:

    I was at the Home Depot looking at fridges because ours died and I was really mad.
    As I walked in, there’s this lady screaming at these two kids in her car, ages maybe 4-7 years old. They are not stacking her boxes in her car to her liking.
    I want to get on my way so I can fume and stew about my stupid, broken fridge.
    People are standing around listening to her rip into these kids.
    I look at a lady who’s watching, she says “Someone should do something.”
    “Okay” I say.
    “No,” she says “I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
    I shake my head, take a deep breath and tell the lady to stop screaming at these kids. They’re too small to understand how to stack your boxes in your car. Get in the car and do it yourself. Soon, the not innocent bystanders start to speak up, too and the lady is at least shamed into silence and stops railing on the little kids. She takes over box stacking, hurries the kids into seats and speeds off.

    Some will say I shouldn’t have been so pissed about my dead fridge. Yep.
    Some will say I should mind my own business. Disagree.
    Some will say I should have climbed in and stacked the boxes. Ooookay.
    Some will say I should have called the cops. Didn’t even think of it.

    I was the only one who actually *did* anything and I did the best I could at the time with what I had.
    I think much of our paralysis comes from condemnation – or possible condemnation.
    I think even a chubby pastor could tell a lady not to scream at her kids.
    I think there’s no condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus, even if they speak “out of turn”.
    Someone needs to point Godward, even if that someone is stumbling, bumbling, shambling and a nowhere near expert level Godward traveler.

    ps: She had a “Coexist” bumper sticker on her car. I find that sad and tragic.

  98. Officer Hoppy says:

    Love hearing this stuff. I don’t have the statics but some how, I believe it’s true. Tired of hearing how the church is irrelevant and nonessential. I just have a hard time believing that God isn’t on task, redeeming all things in Christ; that he is done how pacing the halls of heaven muttering to himself “what do I do now”?

  99. Officer Hoppy says:

    I m preaching Luke 10 this Sunday. I would love to have access to some of this man’s research. sh621@hotmail.com

    If you can help….thanks…if not, thanks any way

  100. Michael says:

    Which mans research?

  101. A Friend says:

    Rob, great job for stepping in with regards to those kids. That was right and it took some courage.

  102. Officer Hoppy says:

    Michael
    The guy you met with who does the Christian media network

  103. Michael says:

    I don’t think he has anything on paper…I wish he did.

  104. Bob says:

    Rob:

    When I read your post my first reaction is, “right on,” and then I realized, I’ve been then one who needed to have someone else intervene and be straightened out. I also thought this woman could have just as easily had a “Focus on the Family” sticker on her bumper as she had the “Coexist one.”

    We live in a community were if we see our brother sin and do nothing about, then what is there to gain?

  105. Officer Hoppy aka Steve Hopkins says:

    Hey Michael
    I am quoting some of what you said in this post regarding the fields being white with harvest. If that is a no no please let me know. I am teaching Part 2 of a sermon entitled ” what do we do now” ( in light of SCOTUS decision.

  106. Michael says:

    Go for it!

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