Things I Think

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71 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    10. I have not giving up on changing the world…I’ve simply shrunk my world to those God has given me that are close enough to touch…<<<<

    Amen! Or as we say in Ortholandia, AMIN!

  2. Michael says:


    May the Lord bless you for keeping the concept in front of me until I couldn’t ignore it anymore…

  3. Jean says:

    Great list this week.

  4. Michael says:

    Thank you, Jean!

  5. Owen says:

    Michael, I find I am appreciating more and more your simplified approach….to several things. Seems like you are, too.

    As to your #5 – I hear you. Hard to remember that it’s only a season…..

  6. Michael says:


    Thanks,my friend.
    Sometimes getting very ill is a blessing that clarifies what’s important…

  7. Em ... again says:

    1 – 4 … rejoicing here in the wisdom
    5 – the darkness and chill? i’ve been wondering if it is old age or the condition that the world seems to be sinking deeper into … i used to love Autumn
    6 – amen … we’d have less numbers, but they’d be made of steel, not bamboo
    7 – i know the joy… i watched my daughter show friendship to her black classmate and bear the, then still open, discrimination with her… stories to tell someday
    8 – amen
    9 – most of liberalism is very close to insanity
    10 – it is so much easier (and hypocritical?) to be a theoretically activist than it is to bear the real burdens and needs of real people in our lives, which bring no accolades nor honors for our superior intelligence, eh?

    Michael, wonderful thinking from where i sit this morning – hope the sun comes out in southern Oregon today

  8. Xenia says:

    Regarding #10, in our small town there are two camps: There’s the old guard who sees our lower-middle class town as “The Gateway to the Monterey Peninsula” and promotes resort-style businesses, such as luxury hotels, casinos and race tracks. They are the same people who planted palm trees in the medium strip on the main street, most of which have since shivered to death. Meanwhile, we don’t have a regular grocery store and many of the other things a normal town our size would have. We have a lot of strip malls with fingernail parlors. So I am tired of these guys and a few years ago I helped defeat a special ballot measure which would allow a sleazy casino operator to build a gambling casino here. We went door to door and decency prevailed and the operator slinked out of town. We didn’t prevail when the Planned Parenthood came to town but there’s always a good contingent of Christians out front with pro-life signs. Now the city fathers are trying to have a horse race track built. Oddly, there’s a large Baptist church in town that has always been in favor of casinos.

    The other side are younger politicians who believe we should make our town a safer and more attractive place for the current residents. That’s the side I’m on. For the first time in my life (I think) I have put up a lawn sign for the candidate for mayor who is against the glitz and in favor of helping the residents. God bless her.

    This is all the political angst I can handle.

  9. Michael says:

    Thank you, Em!
    Theoretical activism is no activism at all…

  10. Michael says:


    I was thinking something else as well…that being that there must be great reassurance and comfort in being part of an ancient tradition that’s weathered much political turmoil.

    I think the American church will be changed in many ways after this election…

  11. Xenia says:

    I think the main change we’ll see in American church landscape is younger people being appalled by the behavior of their elders and will leave church for good and this is not only the Protestants I’m talking about. I think this will greatly increase the ranks of the “nones.” Even in my own parish I have to turn a deaf ear to some of the conversations I hear at coffee hour.

  12. Xenia says:

    I remember when I was a teenager our Baptist minister made some extremely derogatory remarks from the pulpit about a certain charity that fed poor children and I was so angry I didn’t go back to church until I was a married mom of a toddler who I realized needed to be churched. I can see this happening today all over the country if pastors say from the pulpit the things they have been saying on social media.

  13. Michael says:


    I’m already hearing it from the “nones” in my life…and from those on the margins of the church.

  14. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jesus scared people away from the church by what he said also. Sometimes preachers have to say somethings that need to be said – and because we don’t like it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be said or shouldn’t be said.

    We had an old retired pastor (in his mid 80s) preach our divine service yesterday – he is currently our visitations pastor.
    For the first time in my 10 years at this church I heard a pastor preach against same sex marriage, homosexuality, abortion (and he also mentioned the charismatics among other things) – it was quite refreshing. (you would need to understand the context in which he did it – it wasn’t just to rant.)

    Now my pastor sat up there cringing I am sure because he does not preach such as he is afraid of division.

  15. Xenia says:

    We have a big diversity in our small parish:

    1. Children of people who fled the Russia in the early days of the Soviet Union and were on the losing side of the Civil War. These are elderly people who grew up in exile in places like China and Iran and know a dictator when they see one. They are not fans of either Putin or the Republican candidate.

    2. An influx of younger Russians who came to the US after the fall of the USSR. They are not fans of Putin or the Republican candidate, either. This would include Ukrainians who do not like Putin, for obvious reasons.

    3. Children of Russian emigrants who have never actually been to Russia but who have romantic ideas about “Holy Mother Russia.” These folks tend to be pro-Putin and pro- Republican candidate. They see Putin as the defender of Orthodoxy around the world, which is not entirely off-base.

    4. Converts to Orthodoxy who are 2nd Amendment enthusiasts who I personally find to be the scariest of all as they seem to be planning to shoot somebody someday. Who? I shudder to think.

    5. Greeks and other liberals who are quietly pro-gay, etc. I don’t agree with them but they don’t seem to want to shoot anyone.

  16. Michael says:

    I have no problem preaching against sin…especially the ones I enjoy or may be common to my congregation.

    However, my solution has never been political, but spiritual…

  17. Xenia says:

    MLD, I was talking about politics, not preaching against sin.

  18. Michael says:


    There are a lot of people advocating for a revolution…and encouraging their like minded brethren to stock up on guns and ammo.

    Like you, I’m hoping for some clarification about who they are going to shoot…

  19. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am still trying to figure out who the ‘Nones’ are – when they were in the church, were the tares? Because if they were ‘tares’ they were never going to become wheat some day.

    Who the heck are they ?

    Are they different than an atheist, an agnostic?

  20. OCDan says:

    Sometimes I think MLD just wants to be contrary. I never for once thought you were speaking of a sin issue, Xenia. Lastly, I agree with Michael, I have no problem with preaching against sin.

    As for number 7, excellent, excellent, excellent. Love others as yourself. T is the man. If only we did that both in and out of the church. What a difference.

  21. OCDan says:

    MLD, they are people who have given up on the building we call church. They can still be wheat. They have just left the building on the corner. Some may even be in a home fellowship or bible study. Sheesh, man. Sometimes…..

  22. Josh the Baptist says:

    The church has got to get weirder. That may be the biggest blessing of American culture leaving us. At some point, there should be a noticeable difference.

  23. Xenia says:

    Thanks, OCDan!

  24. Josh the Baptist says:

    Technically, aren’t they people that check “none” on the religion box of surveys?

  25. Michael says:


    He has taken my preaching about the poor and oppressed to heart to a degree that shames me…and brings me great joy at the same time.
    I learn from him daily…but will not share that information with him at this time. 🙂

  26. Owen says:

    “At some point, there should be a noticeable difference.”

    …nailed it. Exactly.

  27. Michael says:

    Josh @ 22…you nailed it.

  28. Michael says:

    Nones are those who are not affiliated with a particular sect or church.

  29. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So if the “nones” are Christians who have “left the building” and they are still Christians, why do we care? – What I mean is if they seek their Christianity elsewhere why do we get all upset if we see their numbers grow larger?

  30. Josh the Baptist says:

    They could be anyone who doesn’t ID with any particular religion, not just ex-churched.

  31. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My comment wasn’t about sin about politics or sin – it was that sometimes a pastor has to some things that are hard for us to hear — sometimes they are political – but then most here only hear “elections” when they hear the term political

    My city council working a plan to feed the hungry is political and if my pastor were to preach about we should work along side the city in doing such work – it is political.

    So, don’t just out of hand say that ‘political’ talk from the pulpit is bad.

  32. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My typing is terrible – I’m telling you, it’s the 100 yrs storm we are having…I’ll bet we get 1/4″ between last night and this morning 😉

  33. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “They could be anyone who doesn’t ID with any particular religion, not just ex-churched.”

    So would an atheist self identified as a ‘nones’?

  34. Josh the Baptist says:

    Yes. Just think of the boxes on surveys Christian, Muslim, ETC…None.

    The Nones are people who check that box.

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Interesting, as I have never heard a Christian answer that way. I ask these questions as I guess I just don’t hang with the nones as being described.

    If the choice of being a Christian is on the list as one of the choices and you check none are you not in fact denying Christ?

  36. Josh the Baptist says:

    Yes, of course. That’s what “none” is. “What religious affiliation do you have?” “None”.

  37. Michael says:

    I don’t try and parse out survey titles.
    I do know many people that are living outside organized Christianity right now and I think it’s dangerous for them…but they think it’s more dangerous inside.

  38. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – OCDan @21 made a different definition of who the nones were, so I guess I am confused.

    And I agree with Michael about survey title – who makes up the titles and why should we react to a new title?

  39. Jean says:

    “I do know many people that are living outside organized Christianity right now and I think it’s dangerous for them…but they think it’s more dangerous inside.”

    Anyone who says that is saying two other things as well:

    1) Every church within commuting distance to them is seriously corrupted (or worse); and
    2) They are qualified to make such a judgment on all such churches.

    That type of mindset seems problematic, does it not?

  40. Josh the Baptist says:

    Well, MLD – I’m confused about this discussion. But I’ve told you who the Nones are, or at least why they are called nones. Whatever else you guys are getting at, I am unsure.

  41. Dan from Georgia says:

    Other than Em, no one is going to comment on #5 Michael, so I will. I used to live in Minnesota (hence the Vikings fandom streak in me). Minnesota was good to me.

    From mid-May to mid-September.

    The rest of the year got pretty oppressive, climate-wise. Longer nights. Cold wind howling through your clothes while pumping gas. Freezing your hands off at said gas station. Cloudy days were the “warmest”. Oftentimes the sunny days were nothing more than a slap in the face, as sunny days were the coldest. And let’s not talk about the snow.

    Summers were golden, however. Warm days, cool nights. Lots of outdoor activities to take part in.

    Moved to Georgia due to a job change. Summer is oppressive (heat and humidity), but not depressing. It is a slow, gentle glide into winter from autumn. And autumn is wonderful here. No humidity. Mild to warm days. Cool nights. And colorful trees. Some winters we never see snow.

    Wasn’t trying to bring you or anyone down, but as one who has depression, moving to Georgia was one of the best things I have ever done, health-wise.

  42. Michael says:


    It’s not problematic to me at all.
    For those who do not attend a confessional church evangelicalism can be a mine field.

    If I didn’t pastor a church in this town, I can’t think of one that I would attend…

  43. Michael says:


    I might have to get one of those lights that get you through the dark seasons…I’m not functioning well this year at all.

    You were wise to hold to the Vikings… 🙂

  44. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – I think you have it right.
    My only comment about when the “nones” get up brought up is ‘why do we care? If they were from in the church, there is a good chance they were the tares – just hiding out and we know that the tares do not one day become the wheat.

    The nones are just like they have always been, unbelievers and they have already been around. Now, because an unbeliever / nones does not like what is going on in the church today does not necessarily it’s valid – and as unbelievers I would not to expect them to like it. Let them go to Rick Warren’s church and he will craft an individual christianity just to their liking. 😉

  45. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael, I did consider buying a full-spectrum lamp while in Minnesota. I heard they are really helpful.

  46. Michael says:

    I know some very devout folks who are very unchurched…and I won’t write them off because they don’t fit a traditional mold.

  47. Jean says:

    I had to look up a California-sized word that MLD used this morning on Weekend Word- non-sequitur, and now I will use it. How can someone who has bought into N.T. Wright’s vision of the kingdom of God say that unchurched people are devout?

  48. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – this is what I am asking – are the “nones” just unchurched individuals?

    Assuming the unchurched is still a Christian wouldn’t such person still check Christian on a survey? It seems to me if they check none instead of Christian, they have given up their faith.

  49. Michael says:

    I don’t recall the Bishop mandating church attendance to be part of the kingdom.

    Devout in my mind means people of a deep and abiding faith who are committed to kingdom principles whether they attend the weekly religious lecture or not.

  50. Michael says:


    My understanding is that it means no religious affiliation.
    I misspoke.

  51. Xenia says:

    During that 5-year period when I didn’t go to church I might have check the “none” box, depending on what the other categories were. If there was a category that said “Backslidden Christian who doesn’t go to church anymore,” I would have checked that box if I was being honest.

  52. Xenia says:

    If the categories consisted of a list of Christian denominations, I would have checked “none.” If the categories consisted of a list of the religions of the world, I would have checked “Christian.”

    Most of the time there’s still not a box for me to check because Orthodoxy is not on most lists of Christian churches. (Not that I am confronted with these kinds of lists very often.)

  53. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – I am not pushing the point, I am trying to understand.
    No religious affiliation as in no denominational affiliation and I don’t go to church but I am Christian or I have no religious affiliation but I am just spiritual?

    As I asked above – is an atheist or agnostic considered a none?

    Here is my deal – I hear the term and I pay no attention – it’s a fad that will go away. But now that it is here, I get get a handle on who they are.

  54. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think the last time I was asked my religion was when I went in the Army in 1970 and they needed something to put on my dog tags so they would know how to bury me.

  55. Michael says:

    From Pew Research:

    “Religiously unaffiliated people have been growing as a share of all Americans for some time. Pew Research Center’s massive 2014 Religious Landscape Study makes clear just how quickly this is happening, and also shows that the trend is occurring within a variety of demographic groups – across genders, generations and racial and ethnic groups, to name a few.

    Religiously UnaffiliatedReligious “nones” – a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” – now make up roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, the last time a similar Pew Research study was conducted, when 16% of Americans were “nones.” (During this same time period, Christians have fallen from 78% to 71%.)

    Overall, religiously unaffiliated people are more concentrated among young adults than other age groups – 35% of Millennials (those born 1981-1996) are “nones.” In addition, the unaffiliated as a whole are getting even younger. The median age of unaffiliated adults is now 36, down from 38 in 2007 and significantly younger than the overall median age of U.S. adults in 2014 (46).”

    The confusion comes because some in that group speak of faith but faith uncoupled from politics and institutional control.

  56. dusty says:

    I don’t go to church….does that mean i am a backslider? I still consider myself a Christian. Am i?

  57. Jean says:


    No human being, particularly over the internet, has access to your heart. I for one, would never question someone’s salvation, unless they said something incompatible with the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

    I would warn you, as a brother in Christ, that by separating yourself from church, you are despising the Word of God. That is a sin and perilous spiritual position to place yourself in. Therefore, I hope that you search out and find a Christian congregation of believers in which to join where the Word is faithfully preached and Christ’s gifts are rightly administered..

  58. dusty says:


    Doesn’t being here count? And i have Christian friends. I have been birned by church so many times. And the thought of them spending thousands of dollars on things like postage and none on the community is disheartening

  59. dusty says:

    I did not know that was despising the Word of God!

    That is serious!

  60. Michael says:


    You’re fine…probably prayed for more people than anyone who’s ever been here.
    Someday I hope you find a safe place…until then we’re glad you’re still here.

  61. dusty says:

    Thanks big brother.

    I always want to do what is right. But also what is healthy for me.

    Still praying for you. Have a wonderfil evening.

  62. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Dusty – have you ever thought of attending a Salvation Army church? There you would have teaching, fellowship and the opportunity for service. Their money goes back to the community.

  63. dusty says:

    MLD, i did not know that…will look into it. Thanks. Meanwhile i will keep praying for you all here. It’s my favorite thing to do.

  64. London says:

    You are not despising the word of God.

  65. Em ... again says:

    despising the Word… hmmm – today we don’t assemble ourselves together in the manner most pleasing to God; if we did churches wouldn’t need parking lots…

    where two or three gather in His Name He is there – sometimes the most sanctified reason for avoiding church is the teaching therein… not always, but sometimes 🙂

    some assembly required? perhaps…

    from where i sit

  66. Surfer51 says:

    This guy is preaching gospel.

    I recalled something an old preacher once said.

    “When preaching to Calvs preach Armin, and when preaching to Armins preach Calv.”

    MLD’s 80 year old pastor understood this principle well.

  67. Surfer51 says:

    Speaking of darkness and light…

    Zechariah 14:7King James Version (KJV)

    7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.

  68. Owen says:


    Don’t worry. Continue in prayer as you have been. Continue seeking out other Christians. Unfortunately, there are churches who don’t love like they should, and I’m so sorry you have been burned. That’s not the way church is supposed to be.

    To echo what Michael, said, I hope you find a safe place.

  69. dusty says:

    London, Em and Owen

    Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  70. Babylon's Dread says:

    I’m glad I clicked onto this one. I almost let it get away.

    The abortion line is worth the check in alone

    Changing those I can touch is next to it

    As usual the critique of the church is present but I wish it was unnecessary

  71. Michael says:


    The goal is to keep speaking until it is unnecessary…and I believe it can be done.

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