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  1. I’ll try it here: Acts 20:17-38. Hearbreaking. Sometimes we may be tempted to think of Paul as the hard super-herobut he wasn’t that at all. He was a real guy who loved people dearly. Telling them goodbye for the last time brokes his heart. He wept and worried about their future without him. Tough passage.

  2. @#1 – That guy sounds like he’s running on empty. Hard to read. My heart goes out to all who feel that way.

  3. Michael says:

    My first thought on reading that passage is that if Paul tried to preach it today half the crowd would call him a “cultural Marxist” and be glad he’s leaving.

  4. Michael says:


    He followed it with some of the most devastatingly honest tweets I’ve ever read.

  5. HAha! James White called me that not too long ago 🙂 Along with an SJW. People are funny. Love to divide into camps and go to war with one another.

  6. @5 – Who is that?

  7. Michael says:

    He calls himself Gov. Pappy.

    He’s a fine satirist most of the time, but he wrote for a bunch of us today…

  8. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – I don’t get it (or perhaps it is just your political jab or gab) but this passage does get ‘preached’ all the time – from pulpits and Bible studies. Have you ever heard anyone teach it with the twist you just said — or are you just pulling our chain to get a rise?

  9. JoelG says:

    #1 ^^^^

  10. Michael says:


    I’m well aware you don’t get it.

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    the Acts passage

  12. Michael says:


    What you see as political I see as moral and biblical…and I’m way too beat to hell to try to reason with you.

    Josh gets it…because he’s been in the crosshairs of those to whom all things are either right or left.

  13. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    OK, I get it now – it had nothing to do with Paul or Acts – it was just your platform for a political comment. You are correct, I am a little slow on the uptake.

  14. Michael says:


    It’s not a political comment…it’s a comment on the state of the church.

    I’m watching all the bloodshed from the SBC conference continue as well as the stuff on the border…and Jesus is no where to be found…

  15. Because I feel like friends here share the soul-crushing feelings that Pappy write about, I feel I need to speak to it. I don’t have answers, but I do care. If this comment causes you any anguish, stop reading immediately. That is not at all the purpose.

    1. Maybe it’s a phase. Perhaps a long, dry spell. We’ve all been through it. When you are in the middle of it, you see no way out. Hang in there. It gets better.

    2. Maybe there are some foundational things about Christianity that you got wrong from the beginning, and now these wrong assumptions are coming to roost in your life. These false beliefs, no matter how basic to your faith, will need to be dug up and discarded before you can go foreward. This will be terrifying and painful, but absolutely neccesary.

    3. Maybe you are depressed and it’s not your fault, and not really a spiritual issue asd much as a medical issue. Get help. There is no easy, quick cure even with advanced medicine, but maybe there is somehting that can help you get through the day. I was there for decades. Thank God the fog finally lifted. I hope it will for you, too.

  16. What bloodshed did you see from SBC? Most of what I’m reading is poeple who think God moved there like he hasn’t in a long time?

  17. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “and Jesus is no where to be found…”

    Look where he said he would be found – in the bread and the wine.

    If I were a teaser I would follow up and say “that is why he cannot be found at the SBC conference” —- but I am not 🙂

  18. “Look where he said he would be found”

    Where two or three are gathered?

  19. Michael says:


    Janet Mefford & Co are going after Moore and others with a vengeance as we speak…

    Others are howling about the complete takeover of the SBC by …you guessed it…”cultural Marxists”…

  20. Ahh, yes. I’m sure there is a lot of that.

    From those who were there, it was apparently a very healing time. At a business meeting, no doubt.

  21. There is a cultural left vs. right tug-of-war going on in the SBC. While I sympathize more with those on the left, we should definitely tread lightly lest we go to war over issues that don’t really matter.

  22. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh brings up a good point – are any of the bellyachers actual participants or are they just sideline self important people?

  23. Michael says:

    It’s a number of people who were there and some who were not.

    It’s the disease of putting political templates over biblical issues.

  24. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well, for those of us who believe in 2 kingdom theology – a conference like this is definitely left hand kingdom stuff. It is a giant business meeting.

  25. Michael says:

    Todays collects;

    O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth: Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

    Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

  26. Em says:

    Two kingdoms… perhaps MLD and i have different interpretations of that, but i can’t see how we can put a biblical template over the commerce of the nations this world… ? …
    of course we Believers have a biblical template over our conduct, our commerce IN the world…. but how, if this is not a Christian nation – IMO, it is a nation with a lot of Christians in it – NOT today a Christian nation by any means, so can its business be expected to meet the standards of the kingdom of God?

    Just pondering the comments here…… ?. Thanks to all for them to think on

  27. Duane Arnold says:

    Could someone here please send Attorney General Jeff Sessions a Bible and a copy of the Barmen Declaration… a couple of Bonhoeffer’s books could be added for good measure…

  28. Em says:

    I’m confused .. what’s new about that? ?

    Question is… If you come into this country thru a port of entry, asking asylum, you’ve come in legally, but, if you simply walk across the line dividing our country from Mexico or Canada at any old place, you’ve entered illegally – even if you turn yourself in to the border patrol and request asylum – you’ve entered illegally. Is that correct? Anybody know the answe???

  29. Michael says:

    To apply for asylum you turn yourself into the Border Patrol.
    It is the legal way to apply for asylum.

    Previously, if you were caught crossing the border it was treated as a civil offense.
    This administration has chosen to treat it as a criminal offense.
    That’s the new part.

    The objective is to stop anybody from applying for asylum and obviously from entering illegally.

  30. Em says:

    Thank you, Michael… All the political noise today drowns out any fact gathering

  31. Michael says:


    Unfortunately, for my sanity sake I know more than I ever wanted to.
    The misinformation on both sides is drowning us.

  32. Em says:

    Michael, FWIW, this is a situation to test anyone’s sanity… it works its way out from the individual drug user, both the selfish recreational ones and the ones who’ve been caught in the web of addiction, to the fast buck low life who peddles them, to the canny crooks who are the dispensers in the pipeline, to the drug lords with no souls and incredible wealth off of human misery, to the opportunists on the national scene who are working to erode the stability of the Americas any way they can… it creates a holocaust of a whole new variety where the little man is used, abused and, if convenient killed, to keep the engine running – smoothly or otherwise… then you have the traffickers in humanity, itself, loading trusting souls into 18 wheelers for a price whether they are successful in delivering their load or not and the children who are trafficked, both for sex and for gang activities…
    the only simple thing to solve IMV is the child (up to 18?) who comes in unaccompanied. Grab them, protect them, build appropriate facilities to bring the younger ones to adulthood protected from the predators and send those 15 and above home if at all possible… if not possible? i don’t know, maybe put them in a modified form of a reform school; train and educate them appropriately until they’re age 21 and then give them the choice of citizenship or return to their native land with a job skill… armchair quarterbacking, i guess … sigh

    an old lady’s advice to you, Michael? don’t sacrifice your life fighting this huge morass – Yes, get all the knowledge you have out here in public as best you can and let God do the rest… don’t go where you get this ignorant, hostile blowback that is wearing you down…
    There is a reason that we are told to pray to be delivered from evil as we’re not able to defeat it… temptation we’re expected to overcome, but only God can defeat evil as I define the word… it comes right from the belly of the beast

    Could have sent you an Email, but my thoughts are not infallible and maybe some here will take exception and have some better take on this ugly mess… dunno, God keep

  33. Em says:

    I hope that my comment above was taken as concern. Being unable to right a wrong that is breaking one’s heart is not simply a bump in the road that is easy to rationalize away… once in a while the mom in me comes out here i guess… ?
    Michael, what you pursue is your business, along with most here, you’ll stay in my prayer regardless. ?

  34. Jim says:

    Josh’s #16 bears highlighting. Well said, brother.

  35. Michael says:


    I always receive your words with the intent they are delivered in…and there is always love and wisdom with them.

    Until this dark night of the soul breaks, I’m pretty much relinquishing all these matters.

    What I see when I look at the border are children and desperate parents.

    Living, breathing, frightened, human beings who happened to be born somewhere else.

    What both political parties and their followers see are opportunities.

    I look and I hear the words of Jesus, not the words of Trump or his adversaries.

    I don’t think they can hear Him anymore…so my voice is utterly irrelevent.

  36. Michael says:

    I woke up this morning and read on Facebook where a friend of mine was saying the our last two celebrity suicides were basically the result of the existential despair of those who do not have Christ.

    I’m so very tired of that line.

    So very damn tired of it.

    There is some truth to it…one can have hope beyond this life and perhaps purpose and some perspective in this life through faith.

    Faith doesn’t give you immunity from despair.

    Read the Psalms…or better yet pitch your pious tent with the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    Sometimes the will of God is that you suffer and that you drain the whole cup that He offers.

    It is in that relinquishing of your will to His that you move forward…but pain will always precede the glory to come.

    There will be despair.

    Sometimes…those who have more of Christ than the rest of us will know the greatest despair.

    But nobody wants to read that on Facebook, I guess…

  37. j2theperson says:

    Since this is open blogging I hope it’s okay if I vent a bit….

    Last week my pastor preached a ridiculous sermon in which he took the breath which God breathed life into Adam and made it equivalent to the Holy Spirit and then tied it in with the concept of radical inclusivity said that since everyone has that spirit within them to reject another person is to commit the unforgivable sin of rejecting the Holy Spirit. Basically, I don’t think it would be unreasonable for someone to hear that sermon and come away believing he had preached that if a person rejects the concept of gay marriage they have rejected the Holy Spirit and are going to hell.

    I sent him a facebook message asking him to clarify what he was trying to say and letting him know that, perhaps inadvertently, his words probably came off as alienating to the non-progressive members of the congregation. He got back to me with an explanation that didn’t really explain anything, so I wrote him back and just finally came out and said, as nicely and thoughtfully as I could, that since he’s never really explained what he means when he uses the term “radical inclusivity” people are left to figure it out on their own. The main google result you get when you search for that term is It’s very LGBTQ+ friendly, but at the same time, it claims to not be about changing the mainline churches or adhering to any one specific view but, rather, wants to foster engagement and dialogue. I suggested that he be more clear to the congregation about that–that radical inclusivity does not need to entail a specific view–and that right now the opposite of engagement and dialogue was happening because the more conservative/traditional members were feeling like they weren’t valued or wanted. Our diocese is split pretty much 50/50 on whether to allow gay marriage or not, and even though everybody is kind and considerate toward lgbtq+ people not everybody can say they believe gay marriage is appropriate.

    I told him that I really valued the diversity of viewpoint that exists in our church, but right now I know multiple people who have or are considering leaving because they don’t feel valued or wanted.

    Additionally, our church is facing financial issues and could easily run out of money by the end of the year. We need to be bringing more people in; not losing the people we already have.

    I worked really hard to write in a very peaceable manner and really show my concern for our church.

    He responded without writing anything and by simply selecting the laughing facebook reaction. What does that even mean? It’s crazy. That’s not leadership. That’s not pastoral care. That’s not anything.

    It would be one thing if he really believes that performing gay marriage is the moral thing to do and he stood up boldly and proclaimed and defended his belief. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with him, but I could respect his position and being a principled moral stance on his part. I cannot respect passive aggressive underhanded sneakiness and not being willing to come out and plainly say, “this is what I believe” and not being able to respond plainly when people ask for clarification. It’s insane.

  38. Michael says:


    He will run the church aground.
    It is a shame, but it’s happening all over the country.

  39. j2theperson says:

    Yeah it’s pretty clear that’s what’s happening. He can’t say he wasn’t warned.

  40. j2theperson says:

    I will say it’s not all his fault. For reasons I don’t understand, the pastoral search committee chose to avoid polling the congregation on where they wanted their priest to stand on this even though it’s the most decisive issue facing the episcopal church in this day and age. We called him not knowing what his stance was and not knowing what the stance of the congregants was and now we’re reaping what we sowed.

  41. Michael says:


    Our liturgies do not demand that we split our people over this.

    The homilies should unite, not divide.

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    2nd pastors misuse of scripture is as bad if not worse than that of Jeff Sessions. He pastor is a paid professional and is called to a higher standard of speaking and teaching.

    Jeff Sessions is just a rank amateur theologian. 2nd pastor’s comment verge on purposely leading to questioning and denying their faith. Very bad stuff.

  43. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I guess auto correct doesn’t understand the term J2’s and reads it 22nd.

  44. Em says:

    Right now the history channel is focused on North Korea… The overriding theme reminds me a little bit of what the PhxP commenters are searching to find a way to avoid – the crowds at our border trying to escape increasing evil, more and more of our churches led by blind men of all stripes…. folks here, by God’s grace i believe, are alarmed about all the right things
    We have 2 glaring examples that have been given us. God given. Nazi Germany and the distilled evil that has developed in Korea. God is so thorough. Grace leaves us without excuse. Deny God, indulge self expression without His boundaries and you too can live in….. San Francisco?
    What a privilege it has been for me to read here over the years. People here are searching for God in a darkening world, rather than looking for a Superman to deliver the world from God’s absolutes. Folks here are not looking for affirmation that evil intents are rights and sins aren’t destructive. No one here calls evil intents just sacred expressions of self. In a myriad of personalities expressing their concerns, God of the Bible is still an absolute.
    What’d she say? Dunno… ?. ?

  45. Duane Arnold says:


    It may be cold comfort, but as I look over the half-dozen Episcopal churches that I have served through the years, all but one has subsequently been split by this issue. Of those, all have lost half to three-quarters of their membership and are struggling. Some search committees are advised by their diocesan office not to ask possible candidates as to their stance on the issue as it could be considered discriminatory. It is a very sad situation all around…

  46. Michael says:


    God has blessed us with a unique community…and we are blessed that you are the den mother over all of it. 🙂

  47. j2theperson says:

    I knew it would happen eventually. I’m just annoyed at the way it’s happening. Our pastor makes literally 4 times as much as my family of four but he can’t even exercise basic leadership skills not put together a clear sermon. The gay marriage thing itself does not offend me particularly but rather the passive aggressive feckless way he’s trying to get it to happen. Just be good and stand up for what you believe instead of giving sermons that are profoundly unbiblical and uncharitable but vague enough that people question whether they understood it properly.

  48. JoelG says:

    I guess I misunderstood the post you’re talking about, Michael. I read it the same as I would read Ecclesiastes.

    ““Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
    “Everything is meaningless!“

    I didn’t take it as saying Christians are excempt from despair and sadness. I guess I was wrong.

  49. Michael says:


    I may have read it wrong…Matt and I are usually on the same page.
    I’ve just seen so many posts talking about how if these people just knew Christ they would be all better…and you and I both know that isn’t always the case.

    Greg Laurie did it in his crusade sermon too…I think it’s akin to bait and switch advertising…

  50. Michael says:


    As someone preparing for Anglican orders I find that whole mess to be horrible.

    I won’t engage in the controversy in my parish when the day comes…

  51. JoelG says:

    I oh so agree with you. From what I’ve read I don’t think Matt would disagree with you. You and Matt are usually on the same page when it comes to depression. Even if you’re not depressed it should be fairly self evident that Laurie’s view is wrong. I think it’s theology of glory vs. theology of the cross that’s at the heart of differing views of Christian life.

  52. Michael says:


    I love Matt…awesome person and writer.

    Your theological observation is right on…

  53. Em says:

    #47 – one of the best things about the PhxP is that it seems to draw in sincere opinions and questioning rather than the folks just wanting to pop off or see if they can start a dust up just for the sake of proving what a smart “mouth” they own
    You allow a lot of latitude and anyone can get a respectful hearing – saint or sinner….
    But there is a cut-off point… ? ?

    FWIW – j2’s present bishop is a jerk… Dismissing her with a smirky face? God saw you do pastor. May you ask for and receive His mercy… PDQ

  54. Duane Arnold says:


    It reminds me of the old story of the father who takes his son to witness the consecration of a bishop. At each step the father explains what is happening to his son. “Why are they putting oil on his forehead?” and the father explains… “Why are they asking him questions?” and the father explains. Finally, the other bishops gather round to lay hands on the new bishop elect and the son asks, “What are they doing now, dad?” The father replies, without a smile, “This is the part where they remove his backbone…”

  55. JoelG says:

    J2 I’m sorry to hear your story. Very underhanded. The new Pastor doesn’t seem real “pastoral”.

  56. Muff Potter says:

    Michael @ #1:

    Great link.
    The man has courage (Gov. Pappy).
    I like that.
    And I respect that.
    Way more so than the usual garden variety pundit of the Christian religion who wouldn’t dare and spout anything different than the party line.

  57. j2theperson says:

    Here’s another thing, I find myself very conflicted about gay marriage. I want it to be biblical. I find the arguments in favor of it to be persuasive. But I find the arguments against it to also be persuasive. Ultimately, there is not enough evidence in favor of it that I could honestly it comfortably be able to say, “I believe gay marriage is a godly biblical course of action.” But I’m so on the fence. Crap like my pastor insinuating I’m rejecting the Holy Spirit if I reject gay people makes it a lot easier to get off that fence and come down firmly on the traditional side. Not sure that’s what he wanted. But at the same time I’m not sure that pro gay marriage people really are concerned about homosexuals vs just wanting to cause trouble and win fights against traditional people.

  58. Em says:

    FWIW – any gay person who comes to church seeking Truth should be welcome, even if they come as an out of the closet gay person – IMV these folk are victims of a fallen world and have every right to work out their salvation…. That said, if any person comes into a Christian gathering with an agenda to rewrite/reinterpret the Book to accommodate their personal sin, no matter what the sin might be, needs to be confronted – severely…. The demand to call gay coupling – whatever that means – marriage is twisted thinking at best… Domestic partners are what two cohabiting unrelated members of the same sex define.
    For the record, it isn’t just the homosexual that wants the Faith to accommodate their sin, and many are sins of choice, not psychological or physical aberrance.

    I seem to be caught up in a pontification fit again – sorry ?

  59. Em says:

    Love Worth Finding broadcast another great sermon by the late Adrian Rogers today…
    One of his pithy asides from his Father’s Day msg. loosely quoted:
    Marriage is a covenant, not a contract – When you enter into a contract you are concerned with your rights. You look for gotchas and loopholes. When you enter into a covenant you are concerned with your obligations.

    Happy Father’s Day? God bless the strong, gentle, fair men doing the best they can for the children in these confused times…

  60. Linnea says:

    J2…I’m so sorry your sincere and caring question was met with derision. In my mind, that’s the mark of a pastor who is convicted by something in his own spirit.

    My husband and I were disheartened to learn many years ago that our pastor had decided to hand over the reigns of his church to Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill, one that relieved him of considerable responsibility and increased his salary and potential. When we expressed disappointment and concern that the inner city ministries would not continue, we were met with anger. Well, we know how that story ended.

    I’ve always found you to be such an intellectually engaging person, with a kind heart and love for the Lord.

    Em, agree with you that anyone who comes into a church should be accepted and made to feel welcome as we all work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

    You, too, are a treasure to this community, Em!

  61. Anne says:

    #58 Thank you, Michael for this link and your consistent heart of compassion on border issues. As always, much love & gratitude.

  62. j2theperson says:

    After some thought, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that the laughing emoji was the inadvertent result of a fat finger scrolling on his phone or did not on his end mean what it came across to me. He’s not a jerk. He has ridiculous theology and doesn’t exactly think things through, but he’s not a flat out jerk–or at the least, he’s not a jerk in the weirdly bald-faced, sociopathic way that you’d have to be to just dismissively laugh at someone’s heartfelt message.

  63. Em says:

    For those who’ve been impacted and puzzled by the death of Anthony Bourdain yesterday i was made aware that there is a plausible theory that, as strange as it may sound, he was murdered and set to look like suicide by some Turks that he’d recently offended…. don’t have any details, but the source is reliable
    FWIW…. Just a diversion from the unsolvable world of pain going on around us now, i guess…

  64. GovPappy says:

    Thank you, Michael and rest, for the kind words and discussion. I’ve been given a lot of compassion and support in my struggle, and I hope by sharing I can help others give the same support to others going through it. Thank you, then for helping it reach a larger audience. Peace.

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