Things I Think

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64 Responses

  1. Nonnie says:

    I love Christmas music. “Oh Come let us Adore Him” , “Joy to the World,” and others. Even the melancholy “secular” songs like “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas” mean more to me now. Christmas is a very lonely time of year for us, being so far from our children and grandchildren. Of course folks from church invite us over, but I confess, it is difficult to spend the day with another family who has all their children and grandchildren with them. That probably sounds shallow and self-centred, but I’m being honest…it’s the way I feel and it’s very hard for me. So I love Christmas songs that remind me that the true beauty of Christmas is that God sent His son…..not me having to be with family. It’s because of God’s grace that I have such incredible kids and grandkids, anyway.
    So bring on the Christmas music!!! I even like Jingle Bells, as long as I get to shout out the “ho ho ho’s” during the musical rests. 😀

  2. Ixtlan says:

    re #9


    Christmas music has a way to tailspin me into depression like very little else can……

  3. Andy says:

    1) Things did change for individuals. There are people that left churches that weren’t what they should be. That mattered on the individual level.

    2) It is my pleasure to be a “theological simpleton”. 🙂 I have no problem wearing that badge. The things of the Lord, bottom line, are acceptable and appreciable by a childlike faith.

    4) Yes absolutely, but the New Testament even moreso particularly for grace and the church.

    8) I hate most Christmas music, so scrooge I’ll be.

    9) Waxing and waning from peace to war and rumors of war, and back to peace, is right in line with what Jesus said would happen. Our prophecy conference stands, and is hot as ever. 🙂

  4. Michael says:


    I find that reaction to #2 sad…especially if you’re a teacher of the Word.
    Biblical interpretation is not simple…it is a lot of work and even after that work there is much uncertainty.
    The foundational principles are clear…but there is so much that is not.

  5. Ixtlan says:

    Perhaps you ought to reread Matthew 24 and compare it to Revelation 6. It appears the context that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24 is during the 70th week, not before it.

  6. Michael says:


    I would never want to discount or mock the joy that anything brings you.
    Joy is too hard to come by these days…

  7. Andy says:


    I am a teacher of the Word, and I have found that leaning in the direction of the simple and plain surface meaning of the text, is better than leaning in the direction of 500 pages of explanation. I’m not saying you’re the latter, but I avoid the latter like the plague.


    I believe that there is some of the early verses of Matthew 24 both before and during the 70th week.

  8. Ixtlan says:

    See Matthew 24:3
    what does the sign of your coming mean? 2nd Coming, or rapture?
    what does the end of the age mean? what age? church or Israel?

    Sometimes we have to look beyond the simple interpretation while still employing the plain hermeneutic. What biblical evidence do you have to establish Jesus’ prophecy as either before or after the rapture? How can you establish when Jesus is talking about before the 70th week and then during the 70th week? I don’t see it given to us that directly. However, when you overlay the Olivet Discourse with the opening ofthe seals, yu’ll find some remarkable similarities where both prophecies line up in agreement.

  9. Michael says:

    So…if you lean to the simple, surface meaning of the text, I take it you’re post trib?

    “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?”
    (2 Thessalonians 2:3–5 ESV)

  10. 1. I don’t know if I would say worse, just more visible probably. On second thought, maybe worse, because the internet becomes a place where everyone can open their mouths and say or do things they regret, but will be too bull headed to repent of.
    2. Glad I am not the guy who has to figure out all that wrangling over words and interpretations. 🙂 But love it when I hear something deep from those who have the time to research it for the rest of us. Thank you and all the other teachers who do this Michael.
    3. True.
    4. Amen.
    5, 7, 10. Tired of all this Xmas shopping frenzy already, I try to participate as little as possible. Black friday sees me at home, because I hate to see people make fools of themselves for stuff and I can’t take crowds. I have many relatives in retail and I hate the way thoughtless consumers act towards them. I also hate the slow build up of resentment that happens in them from this constant barrage and slowly hardens them towards customers.
    6. See this too often from christians.
    8. I like older christmas music, but try to avoid any newer stuff, but it will be getting old after a few weeks.
    9. I am sure that they will be back at it within the year and the prophecy wonks will be riding the gravy train again. Pray for Israelis, pray for the Palestinians and pray for the christians caught in between.

  11. Andy says:

    Sniff sniff…. I smell a gang up. 🙂 Two now questioning me alone, so far. I’ll politely withdraw from the impending doctrine debates, since one is usually enough, but having to do two is too much. That’s the nice thing about having different churches. I don’t have to “give in” to your view, and vice versa. 🙂 That’s what makes deeper unity and fellowship, impossible. Surface and superficial unity and fellowship, fine. 🙂 Good day gentlemen.

  12. Josh Hamrick says:

    Woohoo! Michael’s thinking:

    1.) Mostly true. Andy is right, that some personal changes have been made, and that is progress. The problem with the internet is the same as the problem with the church – lack of accountability. The amount of information is so large, that we tend to tune out. I can find trash on every single christian leader in the world with one click of a mouse. 90% of it is crap. Makes it tough to slog through and find out what is true.

    2.) I start teaching my class the book of Hosea next week, too. Never taught it before, so I’m excited to see what God has to say. As far as ““simply teaching the Bible simply”, come on…that’s a cheap shot. A lot of people have benefited from the teaching of Calvary Chapel, so there seems to be some merit to their motto. Theological Simpletons? I do agree with Andy, sometimes the simpler the better. Should one be of a certain IQ to teach the Bible? Should one have a certain IQ to learn the Bible? Of course not. The Bible is for everyone, and anyone can pass on what they have learned.

    3.) Yeah, I think that is the spirit of the law, so to speak. I think we see that in Jesus, and expanded by Paul.

    4.) True, but I believe Jesus was completely cognizant that His own words would also be added to the cannon. Evidenced by the fact that the apostles knew that their own words were taken as Scripture : 2 Peter 3:15-16

    5.) Its all choir season for me. Christmas and Easter mean that my workload at the church increases by a whole bunch. Its all good though. I love it.

    6.) Saw this happen just today. A struggling Christian who is a homosexual, gave praise to God for something He had been revealing to her. Another Southern Baptist stepped in to make sure she knows that a fiery Hell awaits because of her sexual choices.

    7.) Do I get the day off? No? Not a holiday 🙂

    8. ) I wish he would have. I enjoy the very few times that real artists have put out Christmas collections. Always better than the generic crap that you hear in the grocery stores.

    9.) I made basically the same joke to my class yesterday. I’m gad this was resolved quickly so that not too much of my church got caught up in it. I have to fight the idea that Obama is the anti-christ enough, already.

    10.) I’m sure. Hoping for a time of refreshment for you this year. Unexpected blessing.

  13. Michael says:

    Surely, you’re a Calvinist as well…
    “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
    (John 1:12–13 ESV)

  14. Michael says:


    That was not intended as a cheap shot…a CC pastor and myself are teaching the book at the same time and we’ve both been struck by how difficult a book it is to parse when you get below surface level.

    The point is that it takes a ton of work and study to know what to bring in front of your congregation…and if you aren’t doing that work…there’s a problem there.

  15. Em says:

    Hosea is a tough challenge … was he happy? or just obedient?

  16. Alex says:

    LOL, great “Things” as usual.

    1. I think it’s making a dent. I’m more optimistic about the results. At least folks are getting warned as the stuff is exposed. Many contact me about leaving CC etc for safer/better more transparent churches. I get emails and messages and posts nearly daily. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and sometimes results are glacial rather than volcanic 🙂

    2. “if you really think that all there is to preaching is “simply teaching the Bible simply” you are a theological simpleton.”

    LOL. CC is full of men who esteem themselves much higher than their own abilities. Prideful ignorance, it’s almost sporting/entertaining to watch sometimes.

    3. Interesting verse. Meshes with some things I’ve been chewing on lately. There was no canonical bible in Jesus’s day as an unglorified man. There is much that we just don’t know and can’t know, but some of us sure think we know a lot and know what is intended and know all of God’s intentions, precisely what He’s saying, etc etc. I know what many “interpret” to know and I know what I know…which is a belief in some very basic Truths…and then I have a lot of opinions that change often.

    5. Personally, not big on tradition, but I won’t knock it either. I just view every day as important, at is may be the last in this existence.

    7. LOL. Buy, buy, buy! Spend it while you got it and use up that credit while it’s still available. 70% of our GDP is Consumerism. That’s telling of our culture and our day-and-age. Oh well, it’ pays my bills so I guess I can’t really say much about it, other than observe it as reality.

    9. LOL! But, but, but! There will be a World Central Bank and new World Reserve currency eventually though. Not sure about the rest of the popular “prophecy” proclamations.

    10.”Yes, I’m cranky. When you work in retail, the “holidays” are all about survival. Ho ho this. I’ll repent in January.”

    Hilarious! Classic Newnham 🙂 😆

  17. hmmm … are “the things of the Lord” acceptable and appreciable exclusively to childlike faith? … been thinking about the gospel account written by John and it occurs to me that one could find and fall in love with the Savior without any other knowledge of the things of God … i think one could live one’s life as a Believer, pure unquestioning, with no other text to draw on than the Apostle John’s account.

    but as soon as one starts comparing Scripture with Scripture one had better be a teacher or have a teacher, clear headed, scholarly and in submission to the Holy Spirit …

    BTW – i’d never try to grasp prophesy with a child’s mind – For instance, i’m in the camp that thinks that Matthew 24 had direct application to the days ahead of the believing Jews standing there listening to the incarnate God (what a privilege that was) – BUT i’m beginning to believe that there is a concentric application also – each cycle intensifying as the Word/Gospel reaches more and more of the earth’s population until that dreadful day when the 2 harvests of Rev. fourteen are commanded – and i think, also, those happen after the Church has been taken out of the world … i also think it is a mistake to become a “Prophesy Expert” 🙂

  18. Ixtlan says:

    If you are going to make statements of your opinions of interpretation, you could at least have the courtesy to stick around and answer a few questions. You really shouldn’t expect to drop your theological bombs on this community and not expect some pushback. Is it too much of us to ask you to defend your statements? or should we just cart blanche accept what you or anyone else has to say here without further consideration?

  19. Michael says:


    That was a generic “you”…not you specifically.

  20. Michael says:

    When I’ve undertaken mission trips we’ve always taken boxes of the book of John to hand out for just the reasons you gave.

  21. Alex says:

    Watched a very interesting take on the Apostle Paul as well, from a Historical Perspective. It was very interesting to learn how subversive and controversial he was and how he literally had to dodge Roman authorities often. His “letters” to the churches were similar to modern day tweets or FB and were delivered by personal messengers to avoid the Jewish authority which by proxy was the Roman authority.

    What is also interesting, is that many atheists/agnostics don’t discount a historical Paul, but they do discount a historical Jesus, despite the Pontius Pilate Stone, despite the historical chronicling of Flavius Josephus and despite the manuscripts that the gospels are constructed from.

  22. Nonnie says:

    Michael, I have never felt you discounted anything I had to say here.

    As to how certain music can encourage one person and another finds it depressing…well, that is the human condition. Just as I have missionary friends who absolutely LOVE to spend the holidays with others, when they are far from home…it brings them great joy and consolation….for me it is depressing. We are all different and we need to be able to bless one another in our different reactions to the same stimuli. God’s grace is big and wide enough for all of our individual likes and dislikes. He if faithful to meet us at our point of need.
    If you came to my house, I would turn the Christmas music off. 🙂

  23. Michael says:


    If I were at your house, I would sing with you.
    Much love to you, my friend.

  24. Nonnie says:

    Dereks’ number 10
    ” Pray for Israelis, pray for the Palestinians and pray for the christians caught in between.”


  25. Em says:

    i love the picture of Nonnie and Michael singing Carols together – for some reason, that picture makes me smile today

  26. Em says:

    #10 – add another ‘amen’ to Derek’s prayer

  27. Nonnie says:

    Em, if you joined us, we could have 3 part harmony! 😀

  28. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    2) I would rather be a theological simpleton then paralyzed by overanalysis. I’ll take child like faith.

  29. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    Too many of todays teachers overthink the room. Just “Keep It Simple Stupid” should apply sometimes to bible study as well. I do know there are some things that will have to be researched deeper but again scripture should interpret scripture.

  30. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    All that being said I think as Christians that we will be here to see the revealing of the antichrist and we will suffer the persecution of the antichrist and his false prophet and I’m a pre wrath rapture guy

  31. I just found out that C H Spurgeon had a wonderful ministry of praying for the sick
    “He often prayed for the recovery of the sick, who, instead of becoming at once convalescent, became immediately worse and soon died. Such experiences would have discouraged him entirely in the theory that there was any use in prayer, had it not been for the wonderfully direct recovery bf other people, under circumstances which showed that there was no other possible solution to the mystery but in saying that the prayer had a definite and miraculous influence.”

    Russell Herman Conwell (2010-03-30). The Life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon : The World’s Great Preacher (Kindle Locations 1813-1816). . Kindle Edition.


    “Thousands did believe that his prayer would heal them. He pra,yed with them, they recovered. Such an’experience to the prdinary mind would be convincing beyond any possible doubt that Mr. Spurgeon’s prayers had behind them a Divinely healing power. Some have said that his prayers were of such a nature, and that he himself had such complete faith in them being answered, that th^y thoroughly convinced the pain-stricken listener that an answer was certain, and they would surely recover. Fully assured of their recovery, their way to perfect health would seem to be naturally opened.”

    Russell Herman Conwell (2010-03-30). The Life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon : The World’s Great Preacher (Kindle Locations 1850-1854). . Kindle Edition.

    I wonder why I never heard this before.

  32. Dave Rolph says:

    Hi Michael. I believe in teaching the Word of God simply. But I have found it to be incredibly challenging and difficult to do so. Unless I am plumbing the depths of God on a daily basis, wrestling with the language, the history, the culture, and the possible interpretations, then I am not prepared to really teach God’s Word simply. But if I can’t communicate clearly and simply then I’m just talking to myself, and not really teaching at all.

    And thanks for the Jerry Lee mention. I went to YouTube and burned off my lunch hour listening to the Killer singing White Christmas, Blue Christmas etc. And he does it well.

  33. Em says:

    Solomon, isn’t there a distinction to be made between “child-like” faith and childish thinking? isn’t the very thing that you are warning against (rightly) the result of a childish presumption that one knows more than they really do know? can’t one have child-like faith and be very disciplined and humble under the authority of the Holy Spirit all the while taking an academic approach?

  34. filbertz says:

    settling for a pastor who is as simple-minded as those he leads simply leads to a pooling of ignorance. If a pastor isn’t willing to step up his preparation and work at his “craft,” he should sell used cars instead. Those tired old excuses for a lack of education (largely due to a ridiculous fear of higher education as “liberal”) have been fed both to congregations who never hear there are alternative views to complex theological viewpoints, and to prospective pastors who couldn’t get above a minimum-wage job with the equivalent level of training. Yet many proudly wear their lack of sophistication as a badge of superior spirituality. We are not left with the two extremes of KISS and over-analysis. Instead, there is a wide middle ground that both the simple-minded and anal-analyists should aspire to reach. Rolph’s #32 speaks well to that.

  35. Reuben says:

    Simply teaching the scriptures simply equates to reading a verse, talking about what you think that verse means, reading the next verse, talking about what you think that verse means, and repeating, until you can say you did it through the entire Bible.

    I have an iPod full of it, just in case someone thinks I am talking out of school…

  36. Reuben says:

    I would add that the only twist to that vain repetition is an occasional, or dreadfully overused, “In the original greek, this word means…”

  37. “teaching the Word of God simply” goes out the window when questions are encouraged within the actual teaching environment. Lectures are completely one sided. I dare any pastor/teacher/small-group-facilitator to ENCOURAGE questions WITHIN THE GROUP SETTING, even of those questions are insanely difficult and on the surface appear to be blasphemous.

    This complex collection of documents which is a portable library of our faith are quite contradictory, yet the soul of them can be observed, seeing thematically the hope of each author that God is good in spite of his or her individual or corporate failures, that God will be ::unfairly:: merciful in the face of deserving otherwise. These are the themes that any honest critic and teacher of these documents will admit to, and we only win the hearing of skeptics when we stop fooling ourselves and admit that there is no such thing as “teaching the ‘Word of God’ simply”. No man or woman will teach any subject without offering their own take/opinion so why not be forthright and admit it, then a true dialog can actually begin instead of simply being shut out or marginalized?

  38. Alex says:

    A lot of truth in there G

    Your vision of church sounds awesome as well

  39. Alex,
    I got spoiled hanging around those who are willing to experiment, open the forum to opinions & sincere questioning. Chuck SmithJr & David Brisbin have been the most courageous men I’ve ever known, being willing to make room and let The Living God take individuals who have been part of their gatherings on the one to One true spiritual journey which each of us must ultimately embrace. These men have been examples of trust in Jesus, that He, and not they, are The Shepherd of our souls. Neither man has the big bucks of TheMotherChurch or organizations behind them but they have been willing to admit that, though God is not easy to follow at times, He is truly the most wonderful One we can encounter and love.

  40. …and thanks.

  41. Joseph Smith & L Ron Hubbard were also leaders opening that forum to questions. Your alternative views to Christianity are refreshing… but fall short of truth.

    But as always, your Jesus is a lot nicer than the one we find in Scriptures.

  42. MLD,
    Guilt by association is never a good tactic. Guilt by misrepresentation is easily debunked by these silly little things called “facts”.

    Let’s also try a tad of verifiable content, both of my pastor friends’ allowing freedom of thought, questioning, not forcing those in attendance to come to the organization’s conclusion or TheLeader’s conclusions but to allow God to actually be God and care for each individual and bring each person to a true faith in Jesus, Who rose from the dead.

    Joseph Smith & L. Ron Hubbard and their organizations have done exactly the opposite.

  43. filbertz says:

    Smith and Hubbard touted extra-biblical sources and resources. It isn’t a fair comparison. Perhaps your view encompasses a grumpier Jesus than what others read about. 😉

  44. Point of fact, I hold an alternative view to ::your:: view of “Christianity”, but I can somehow allow you to hold yours, yet do I sense a bit of discomfort on someone’s part to allowing me or others to hold theirs, given their snapshot of their given moment of their spiritual journey?

  45. The grace I have experienced from these men I speak of, their selflessness, their faithfulness to Jesus, all I can say is I have seen the evidence of vital trust in the living, risen Jesus, and thigh each are merely men, they remain the best examples Jesus has given me. Neither man has ever been an anti-Semite, neither a racist, neither a misogynist, both are committed to service, to self sacrifice, kindness and gentleness, without compromising what they know to be their callings as “men of God”.

    Damn thankful I have had them in my life.

    L.Ron & JSmith, not so much.

  46. “your Jesus is a lot nicer than the one we find in Scriptures,

    Poppycock, my dear friend.

    Jesus is above and beyond, the God of Renewal, of Redemption The One Who is busy, inspiring each of us to stretch beyond ourselves, Who bids us to sing and dance, to question, and work through those tough questions, and forces us to embrace unsolved mysteries while encountering us in each of them. He’s not safe as He never stays still and bids us to follow Him, but he IS amazing.

  47. Peace, out

  48. Jesus did not allow freedom of thought.

  49. “Jesus did not allow freedom of thought”

    Um, yeah, most definitely.
    How else could someone CHOOSE to follow Him?
    How else could He challenge those who were along for prestige, free food, position & power?
    How else could He shake to the core every commonly held belief system of that age, challenge the mistaken ideas humanity had about women, slaves, servants, the role of real servant leaders…

    And God continues to honor freedom of thought, moment by moment, because this is a journey, not a destination. We choose, sometimes because we can make no better choice, and sometimes because choosing to not follow would be the lesser of two evils

    Love, to be love, is a choice

  50. Ixtlan says:

    you almost have me convinced 😉

  51. Ixtlan,
    It’s not my job,
    but it is His delight to daily abide with you and persuade you of His lovingkindness.

  52. Here’s a little persuasion…

  53. G, @ 49 – you make my point. Although people can choose and have their own thoughts, in the end it’s Jesus’ way or the highway.

    Unlike Jesus, you seem to think that it is OK to leave people in their confused state of thinking. I know that Chuck Jr. likes to do that. I read his book some years ago that he wrote with the YWAM kid 7 yrs ago – I have the book but can’t find it.

    Anyway, this kid is all confused, the clearest thing I can get out of him is “I am the walrus” and Chuck Jr. for his half of the book does nothing to tell the kids -“no, this is the way it is” – like a good bible teacher would.– or even Dr. Phil would.

    Being the “I am the walrus, seemed just as Christian as anything else to Chuck Jr.

  54. Found it – Frequently Avoided Questions – Chuck Smith Jr. & Matt Whitlock

    Actually, a well written book.

  55. PP Vet says:

    Actually the Bible says he has made us co-thinkers of the divine thoughts (some translations say “partakers of the divine nature”, but elsewhere it makes it clear that one’s nature is what one thinks).

    And it does say to bring every thought into captivity. Which, oddly enough, is true “freedom of thought”.

  56. MLD,
    Sorry, a snapshot of anyone’s spiritual journey will be a mixture of certainty & doubt. Read TheGospels, “I believe, Lord, help Thou mine unbelief!” All we get is a snapshot, not a complete life history that the guy ultimately goes on to conquer Constantinople for Christ, just a guy who is honest and scared sh*tless, even in the very presence of The Living God.

    I simply maintain that we would do well to leave more room for mystery, uncertainty, adventure, discovery and surprise, but by welcoming that we dispel the myth of a neat, tidy catechism which has all the answers tied up in nice neat Purpose Driven packages.

    A little reality check here, I know ChuckJr. I know Dave Brisbin, haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Matt. I speak from my own personal interactions with these two men, discussions one to one regarding their books and lectures. This is not theory or me projecting, there are two thriving spiritual communities which these men are facilitating, supporting and consider themselves a part of, communities of thriving trust in Jesus.

    Did a little research, Matt Whitlock, the gent whom you mischaracterize as being abandoned by ChuckJr to a loopy “Goo goo ga joob I Am The Walrus” spin is anything but that, still quite the follower of Jesus. ChuckJr merely did a book with him called “Frequently Unanswered Questions” and those are amazingly brave and forthright questions which most fundamentalist & evangelicals find terrifying, therefore very much worth the read.

    The long history of christianity has shown that mystery and uncertainty are part and parcel to what drives us through each day, and the fellowship of saints, living and in glory, have embraced “uncertainty” as the very portal of the presence of God.

  57. “Biblical narratives place serious demands on their readers. The stories rarely moralize. They explore moral issues and situations by placing biblical characters in moral dilemmas — but they usually leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.”

    -Christine Hayes, Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University

  58. Off to work, have a great day, PhxP community!

  59. I choose to be narrow minded and believe what Jesus says – and not challenge his words and thoughts just based on the fact that they may make me uncomfortable.

    I am the king at living in mystery – but I believe that the mystery means something. That is why I can believe that the bread and the wine (not pizza & coke) are the true (actual) body and blood of Christ given to us as actual providers of forgiveness of sin and salvation – and live in the mystery of “I have no idea how this is possible.”

  60. Alex says:

    G said, ““Frequently Unanswered Questions” and those are amazingly brave and forthright questions which most fundamentalist & evangelicals find terrifying, therefore very much worth the read.”

    Sounds interesting, will have to check that out, thanks.

  61. Alex says:

    MLD said, “I choose to be narrow minded and believe what Jesus says – and not challenge his words and thoughts just based on the fact that they may make me uncomfortable.”

    Umm, no you don’t:

    Matthew 5:23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

  62. Alex says:

    I do agree with the “narrow minded” part, the “believe” and practice part, not so much.

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

    It’s a great book, I think you’ll like it.

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

    Consider giving time & space for reconciliation with our blog friend.
    Seeds of love require time to grow

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