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68 Responses

  1. descended says:

    It’s interesting to see the lack of response CC articles generate. I think that’s both good and bad. On the one hand we’re moving on, but on the other hand it has become an accepted fact in most churches that our families are considered prey or discernable to someone, if not most, in leadership.

  2. descended says:


    Should be dispensable

  3. John 20:29 says:

    descended, your comment was kind of an aha moment for me…
    We were talking about corporations last night, how they grow, thrive and take on a life of their own where the only way to thrive in one is to put this impersonal living organism, if you will, ahead of everything else…
    Is this what we’re seeing infecting many of our churches today?

  4. ( |o )====::: says:

    The difficulty is convincing anyone that their spiritual journey is just that, it’s theirs.

    The shaming and culture wars that have been part of my evangelical experience, and confessing here, have practiced, are the things I repent of the most.

    I now spend my time with individuals, and when we gather we’re more focused on the contemplative tradition of the church, and the inner life with Jesus. We are inspired by His challenges from The Gospels for living out the social justice teachings and attitudes. He is our inspiration, guide and constant companion. I don’t need the big show megachurch ear splitting music (and I’m saying this as a musician who loves to rock-on, who has a substantial personal sound system)!

    10 minutes of silence, or near silence, sitting in the presence of God, is a huge challenge, especially to an iPhone addicted digital artist and composer like me. My mind often wanders and God smiles and laughs silently to Himself. Yet it continues to be those moments of contemplation on Jesus’ words and deeds which have quieted my soul and given productive direction to my restlessness.

    If interested, I use Insight Timer & Relax Melodies (and, no, I don’t own stock in the companies). 😉

    They can be personalized. Find sounds you like for background, dial them down, perhaps almost no volume, then set a pleasant bell to start & finish, then try 10 minutes.

    I’ve found it isn’t easy but it is worth the experience and what it produces.

  5. Dan from Georgia says:

    Sounds nice G Man! My earlier Full-on Evangelical self would’ve balked at the suggestions..sounding too “mystical”…but at this point in my life, I need some quiet…my home church’s worship time is WAY to loud and distracts from true worship. Maybe ’cause I am getting older or wiser or just tired of Evangelicalism accoutrements.

  6. John 20:29 says:

    I am totally in agreement with Gman that each person’s spiritual journey is theirs alone – IMV – the blessing and the goal is to become intimate with God, One on one..

    The danger is fooling ourselves into thinking that knowing one’s self, accepting who we are as a creation is the same as learning who God is and who He tells us we are and can be…. peace is good. Amen to that, but peace with God is the real reality we can carry into Eternity…. Lots to think on in #4 ?

  7. ( |o )====::: says:

    My day gig includes “Experience Design”, making sure every facet of those who have an experience with our organization, including our team members, experience excellence.

    So, when I have to put in my earbuds, or worse yes, earplugs to make it through a worship service, I question if anyone in leadership, especially the worship team at these churches ever puts themselves in the congregation with a sense of serving them, creating a welcoming environment. I love quality music and have no cultural misgivings about style. It’s purely a function of allowing those on stage the blessed experience of hearing themselves and those around them sing together.

    Perhaps ushers can carry packets of pairs of branded earplugs. How about, “Hearos of the Faith”?

  8. John 20:29 says:

    Changing the subject, I see on the news that Alabama is doing away with State issued licenses to marry…?
    The Church may yet become the one who holds to and defines marriage…

  9. Dan from Georgia says:

    “Hearos”! – I like that!

    At 50, I still love loud music..metal, classic rock, etc…so in a way I haven’t grown up and moved on to listening to Glen Miller and his Orchestra or whatnot. I like that churches utilize a variety of styles of music, but I guess there is too much of my past in me to think I could go up onstage in front of a congregation with an electric guitar and amp and various pedals and think that I could do it humbly. I would want to become the center of attention and get some oohs and aahs and applause and be a true Guitar Hero!…and that’s not what it’s about. So in that way I know my place and I have peace with that…as em alluded to in #6.


  10. John 20:29 says:

    The only time I appreciate rock music is when I have to navigate fast moving big city traffic… ?
    But I am wondering if I am the only one who finds nothing more moving and beautiful than a congregation (or choir) pouring their hearts out in acapella praise

  11. descended says:


    I’m attending an EV Free church right now (sorry MLD) and one of the things I immediately notice is the lesser light that is placed on the pastor.
    I think in a, sense you are right, that in these mega church organizations the machine runs itself. In fact that’s kind of the nice thing about a Calvary system.

    A little digression, It’s also a very short hierarchical structure. I may be wrong but in my experience I feel that it is a system in which you can serve long enough and bend the ear of the Moses enough that you would have a pretty good shot of entering that salaried structure from Junior High minister or Worship Music leader to Assistant to Senior pastor.

    Having said that I feel that, because there is a greater light put on the senior pastor who’s shadow is cast Over the two or three subservient pastors, the church body is not known for its christlikeness but for the pastor’s personality and if he happens to be christ-like that’s good. So the church lives vicarious life through the pastor and his personality. In my view it’s a kind of shamanism or maybe even a kind of Vicarius kristos. It reminds me of that term Nicolaitans – suppression of the laity. I think that’s what most CC people have experienced if they take time to look at it. It may just be my view, but how many times have we heard or even said to someone else “come listen to this pastor” instead of “come worship with these people”?

  12. descended says:

    Which is part of the reason I think that it’s an accepted fact now that horrible things will happen in a church. And that’s not a good thing. The church’s vicariously lived life seems to be through the spirit of men rather than the spirit of God.

  13. JoelG says:

    If this is true, I’m ashamed to be a sports fan. And if true, I have a hunch this goes on at more schools than MSU.

    Apparently these coaches don’t have daughters.


  14. JoelG says:

    I thought Joe Mixon deserved a second chance after he punched a girl in the face on video. I was wrong.

  15. The New Victor says:

    I met the kids this evening, transitioning from their after school program into Family Movie Night in the gym. Mommy came this time; she missed the previous two years. My son, 2nd grade, told me that a kid told him and some other kids that he hated them and wanted to destroy the school. Later, I ascertained it was a kid in his classroom (but the kid told them in the after school program today). My son was sure he was angry, not kidding. I think he was concerned that the kid wanted to hurt his friends more than him and the school. We spotted the principal wandering the gym before the movie and I had my son tell her what he told me. He’s Asperger’s, succinct and logical. The teacher went to talk to the after school coaches and promised my son that she wouldn’t tell anyone he told her.

    Putting the kids to bed, I asked him about it again, if Tom was kidding. My son was sure he was angry. I told him that he did the right thing and that sometimes angry kids do hurt others in schools, though usually older. I also told him not to tell his friends he told us. D5 was listening… hopefully she’ll not tell anyone. To keep them safe.

    We prayed for Tom, “to keep him from the devil” as my kids put it. D5 said that she hoped he knew Jesus and that Jesus would forgive him. I validated that and also said that sometimes it’s the devil and sometimes angry and hurt people who act out like that, being hurt at home, maybe, they wanted to hurt others. I told them that this didn’t make it right at all, but that we should pray for Tom because of that also.

    My son is in a small class. I’m going to volunteer again next month. I know a few of the kids by name, having volunteered once in the fall, but don’t remember Tom.

  16. JoelG says:

    Well done NV. You’re an awesome dad.

  17. John 20:29 says:

    amen Joel, God give us more Michaels and NVs

  18. John 20:29 says:

    does anyone have any information on this book – i’m thinking of ordering…
    (yes, linking thru the PhxP if i do … 🙂 )
    if my link here works, it is described

  19. JoelG says:

    Pondering sin and forgiveness this morning. Maybe the second chance for Joe Mixon was the right thing. God knows I’ve had 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 20th chances. Whether one is an athlete, coach, administrator or even a Pastor, if one repents, don’t they deserve 7 x 70? At the same time, the abused and innocent need to be protected.

  20. JoelG says:

    Not deserve…. wrong word. More like the right thing, in light of Jesus.

  21. Jean says:

    Joel #19,

    Certainly forgiveness.

    Restoration to a prior vocation is another matter altogether.

  22. Scooter Jones says:

    I find it interesting that Apple’s iPhone X main adversting emphasis on t.v. ads is based on how well the camera feature works on selfies.

  23. Michael says:


    It appears to me to be a medieval method of contemplative prayer.

    My guess is that some would find it helpful…

  24. Dan from Georgia says:

    Scooter Jones…reminds me of a while back when I was at an Apple store asking about the MacBooks or the iPads and the salesperson was emphasizing how you can play Angry Birds on them…


  25. John 20:29 says:

    Thank you, Michael… That was my impression as it builds off of The Lord’s Prayer,, which prayer is my fallback when “I don’t feel like talking to God” … when I fall into my natural inclination of telling God how to run the show. ?

  26. Jean says:

    I would vote for not talking to God over blasphemy.

  27. Michael says:


    I use a couple of prayer books…this kind of tool can be very helpful and provide focus.

    I haven’t read it,but I don’t think I’d have any issues with it…but then I’m a bit of a mystic.

  28. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Regardless of to what degree we think or don’t think Satan occupies some pulpits, the independent church has only itself to blame for the choice they make in choosing devilish pastors.
    And I will stand firm in my position that Satan stands in many pulpits.

  29. John 20:29 says:

    #26 – you sell out God short… He’s there to hear us out as long as we’re trying to sort things out… Praise Him – as the old English puts it… He is long suffering… He’s slow to anger….
    Blasphemy for one may not be for another – after all He knows what we’re made of – what we are and what we can be

    I’m my not-so-humble opinion/experience. ?

  30. Jean says:

    “I don’t feel like talking to God”

    That is prima facie unbelief.

    It is probably a common sin of all Christians, but it is cause for repentance. In other words, it is a forgivable sin, but certainly not something to be made light of when we become aware of it.

  31. Michael says:

    There is so much stress and grief in my life right now that there are times when I don’t feel like talking to God.
    I’m not alone.
    The Lord has not heaped guilt onto me…He gave me the Book of Common Prayer to help me work through this season…when I’m not too depressed to use even it.
    So, for the rest of the blasphemers and unbelievers among us who are too tired and broken to try anymore…may God be with us all and provide you tools to help you walk with Him again.

  32. Michael says:

    For anyone who’s interested, I use the Book if Common Prayer and St Augustine’s Prayer Book.
    Duane used both the other day to salve my soul…

  33. Dan from Georgia says:

    A bruised reed He will not break.

  34. dusty says:

    So sorry, Michael, that you are so stressed and discuraged. 🙁 praying for you always.

  35. John 20:29 says:

    Jean, you are dead wrong in your observations about talking to, praying to, God… They may not be one and the same, come to think on it…
    I won’t insert a long story here, but it is quite possible to not feel like coming to God in prayer because of circumstances or trauma and find God speaking to you literally, even though you have not repented of confessed… God knows us and is looking at the depths of our being, not our performances and, occasionally not even our attitudes … He’ll even do so for a Lutheran. ?

  36. Michael says:

    Thanks, Dusty.
    I just know all too well how hard it can be to keep talking when it seems no one answers or you’re just too wiped out to care anymore.
    Pastorally the last thing people in that space need is more guilt …

  37. dusty says:

    Please don’t feel guilty! You have nothong to feel guilty about. We all go through a dry time…some are longer than others….but He promises water for the thirsty and food for the hungry. He may even give you wine. 😉

  38. Michael says:

    Dusty, thanks…I’m ok.
    I just want to be sure that someone who may be reading and is hurting knows the we understand and do not condemn.

  39. Jean says:

    In my tradition, we accept that fact that we are sinful human beings. But we boast in the grace of God. I don’t know that is so insensitive about identifying sin, so that it can be confessed and forgiven. That’s what our great Physician loves to do. All he wants is patients to heal.

  40. dusty says:

    I’ve been there a lot….lol. …in the dry times

  41. Michael says:

    It’s like coming up in a car wreck and noting that the vehicle needs cleaned. It may be true, but there are greater considerations at hand.

  42. Jean says:

    Regarding Michael’s 37: “I just know all too well how hard it can be to keep talking when it seems no one answers”

    I won’t name any names, but readers will recall a couple or more mega-church CC pastors who lived for years believing God was answering, and their followers also believed that those pastors were enjoying God’s favor. Everything looked great: the money, the numbers of followers, the reputation.

    Meanwhile, Michael suffered in Medford, a reproach to those holy men, anointed by God himself for ministry. In the Scriptures, who suffers? The godly or the ungodly?

    So, I ask, where are those mega-church pastor’s now? And where are you?

    I believe God has given you, Michael, many answers, as well as true grace, a grace hidden in suffering, but is God’s manner of sanctifying his saints.

    Your future is in God’s hands and that means it is the right future. It is a blessed future. Can you see it?

  43. Michael says:

    I appreciate the kind words.
    Every pastor we’ve profiled here is more “successful” than before.
    The future before death looks terrifying to me…but it’s in God’s hands.
    After death, I run Oregon in the kingdom to come. 🙂

  44. John 20:29 says:

    As I’ve read Lutheran thoughts here I note that they have obedience much better defined than most of us, but I don’t think they truly appreciate grace… does grace follow obedience? Well yes it does, but it also precedes obedience… Thank God for grace – without His goodness and mercy (they never contradict His holy perfection) there would be no hope and no redemption
    A child grows, it doesn’t arrive on the planet with the wisdom and self control of an adult – and so it is with an individual who has received that redemption, that new birth
    IMO ? of course. ?

  45. dusty says:

    Isaiah 41:10
    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

  46. dusty says:

    2 Corinthians 1:3-4

    Praise to the God of All Comfort
    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
    who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

    That is what you do, Michael, you comfort others all the time.

  47. John 20:29 says:

    Michael, you are a warrior.for the Kingdom… those who have no scars have never been in the war… those who have no wounds have not been trusted to fight, nor can those folk appreciate the war…. or so it seems to me
    God keep

    I used to live in the flat lands, farm country with back roads and highways… As one drive down the highway at 60 mph you’d see a car way off waiting to enter the highway. Some farmer who’d wait until you were less than a thousand feet away and then he’d pull out slowly and you’d find yourself braking and following an old pick up going eventually a blazing 40 mph…. I always wondered if those fellows thought they were giving you a driving lesson or…?

  48. dusty says:

    John 20:29 said, “Michael, you are a warrior.for the Kingdom… those who have no scars have never been in the war… those who have no wounds have not been trusted to fight, nor can those folk appreciate the war…. or so it seems to me
    God keep”

    Amen!!!! Nicely done em… 🙂

  49. Jean says:

    “As I’ve read Lutheran thoughts here I note that they have obedience much better defined than most of us, but I don’t think they truly appreciate grace… does grace follow obedience? Well yes it does, but it also precedes obedience…”

    I honestly do not understand your meaning.

    Grace (i.e., God’s favor) follows the obedience of Jesus Christ crucified for your sins.

    The Gospel is the proclamation of God’s grace for you. This grace is received by faith alone.

    The issue is never God’s grace. He is gracious to all mankind who believe in Christ for the sake of His Son’s atonement for the sins of the world. The problem is always on our side: Do I believe that God is gracious towards me? Why is that a problem?

    Sacramental churches hammer grace home in (1) confession and absolution; (2) preaching the Gospel to the people of God (not just the unsaved); (3) Holy Baptism in which the remission of sins is promised; and (4) Holy Communion in which Jesus feeds us His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.

    But what about grace for Christians in churches who are unwilling to announce it unconditionally in its fullness in accordance with the vocation given by Jesus in His New Covenant. Where do they find grace? In their obedience? In their inward witness? In their surrender? Does that pass for grace?

  50. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, I too find your comment strange. If you speak of our obedience, we don’t have that down at all. Unlike those of you who believe in progressive sanctification (getting better day by day) we still claim to be 100% sinner.
    Jesus is the obedient one, Jesus is the overcomer and we tap into his good gifts where he told us to find them – in the word and sacraments.

  51. JoelG says:

    Sweet Em, I haven’t experienced more grace than in the Divine Service at a Lutheran Church where we confess we are sinners and receive absolution.

  52. John 20:29 says:

    Jean, one doesn’t find grace like the eggs in an Easter egg hunt… Grace is. much less a matter of our seeking it than it is a matter of God giving…. Grace always has an objective in mind…. can obedience bring blessing? yes, but that is not the sum of the purpose of obedience, at least not in the New Testament, the Church… Not in my pew view. ?

  53. John 20:29 says:

    Joel, Jean and MLD, I wonder if you are equating that peace that passes understanding, woohen one has faced their need for grace and forgiveness, with grace?

    We all agree that we are dependent on God’s grace, do we not? At least there is that level of agreement I hoped where I’ll let it rest.
    God keep

  54. Jean says:

    Again, I’m confused.

    “Grace is” doesn’t save, unless you believe in universalism.

    Grace must be delivered. If it’s not delivered, it can’t work faith in a sinner. That’s why we use the term: “means of grace.”

    God has appointed the means of grace, by which He makes disciples of Jesus Christ.

  55. John 20:29 says:

    Jean, the confusion lies in the “means” perhaps? But I doubt that you are that confused… however, continuing this will be confusing. ?

  56. Duane Arnold says:

    #56 Em

    I’m a sacramental Christian, but I realize that God’s grace is not limited to “means of grace” as some define them…

  57. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, OK, you caught my attention. What would be an example of God’s grace delivered in a non ‘means’manner?

  58. Dan from Georgia says:

    Hey Michael…good morning/night…6am here out east…anyways…a while back you had a “Night Shift” post…was wondering if you were thinking of making it a regular feature…or perhaps a permanent page under the “Pages” heading…I know you have your hands full and I fully understand if it’s not feasible…just a thought.

    Anyways, I appreciate the work you do here and all the efforts you put into it! I really do consider this blog a community of faith!

  59. Duane Arnold says:


    Check a concordance… Charis is used 156 time in a variety of ways…

  60. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, thanks, I will check it out later this morning.

  61. Josh the Baptist says:

    I asked a question in my adult class yesterday morning and it elicited such a touching response that I asked the youth class the same question yesterday evening. Their answers were even better.

    So I ask all of you:

    Think back to before you were saved, through all the years of your Christian life, and up to the present day. What difference does Jesus make in your life?

  62. Michael says:


    I’ll try to remember to get a clean sheet of cyber paper up tonight for you folks…

  63. Michael says:


    Why don’t we make an article out of this?
    I’ll put your question up…

  64. JoelG says:


    That no matter how far we stray we can return to Him. His mercies are new every day. That the “insignificant” people of this world mean the world to God. That mundane matters. That we can cast our cares on Him because He cares for us.

    Short answer: Hope beyond myself, despite myself.

  65. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Michael!

  66. Josh the Baptist says:

    Sure Michael. I’d love to see responses.

  67. Michael says:


    It’s up…

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