Things I Think…

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54 Responses

  1. Babylon's Dread says:

    Either this is a random ThITh or I fail to discern the unifying thread … usually there is a semblance. Wait I see it… media. Of course that is my whackadoo these days. I have recently entertained an idea about Nixon that the media actually brought him down over a matter that was pretty much a nothing when compared to what was going on in the 60s in all circles.

    Today we have a completely wackadoo media covering an equally wackadoo leader — mirrored by Congress though they have more flair and less buffoonery.

    Anyway the constant pain I have is searching for the love of the truth. We shape it, make it up, straight out lie, parse it to death, and propagandize but we do not love truth. I would blame the public square but even in my world a story is considered proof and a testimony requires no witness or verification.

    Then I read it in the Sunday sermon text… “show us a sign and it will suffice…”

    We wouldn’t know the truth if it was nailed to a cross.

    Wait… Dread

  2. Michael says:

    It’s random…the smoke from the fires is doing a number on us here.

    “Anyway the constant pain I have is searching for the love of the truth.”

    Add to that the hatred of our neighbors and you have everything that’s on my mind most of the time…

  3. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    #8 is the reason that I never pay attention to the hand wringers who are always bemoaning the supposed shrinking church.
    They stand boldly and call God a liar and then with increased boldness tell God how ‘church growth’ should be done — at a price to his churches.

  4. Em says:

    10. I think without some sort of daily spiritual discipline it’s almost impossible to stay spiritually centered…if there are programs on TV you’ll never miss, but you have no time for any spiritual practice, you’re a shipwreck waiting to happen…

    amen to that… we say that we are the salt of the earth, but forget that part that says salt can lose its effectiveness…. well acquainted with that fact….. sigh

  5. Xenia says:

    Misunderstanding what God has said is not the same thing as calling Him a liar.

  6. Michael says:

    We do not see the church growing and we are aware that it appears to be in steep decline.
    It is easy to think the worst.
    We have to keep the promises of God in front of us lest we despair…

  7. Jean says:

    It’s one thing to speak of a shrinking church…who really knows anyway because the church has always been a mixture of wheat and tares.

    It’s quite another thing to speak of a shrinking of the church’s proclamation. The church IMO should not “shrink” back from proclaiming and being the Gospel to all levels of society and every demographic.

  8. Em says:

    it is easy to keep the faith when we see ourselves as part of a growing movement – maybe the proof of our faith is tested when we keep the Faith as those around us that we thought loved God and were part of the Church begin to drift away… even mocking Christianity as a delusion that, thankfully, they escaped?

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I would take a guess that there are many more Christians today than at any other time in history.

  10. Xenia says:

    I think around the world the number of Christians is probably growing. It appears to be in decline in America. I say “appears” because I think in centuries past, people pretty much had to say they were a Christian and church attendance was expected. I remember when I was a Girl Scout in the 60’s, every year our troop would visit a different girl’s home church. Every girl had a home church, all thirty of them (us). How many of those girls or their families were actually Christians, who knows, but going to church is what people did in the past few hundred years of America. Nowadays, it’s not accepted and considered a bit gauche to attend church… You might be called an intolerant bigot. So I think church attendance has become limited to those folk who are actually Christians, and this is as it should be, IMO.

  11. Xenia says:

    I compare my Girl Scout experience with what I saw at UC Santa Cruz ten years ago. It was a class on late antiquity, with a lot of religious art. The teacher, a Christian from Greece, was dumbfounded at the lack of biblical knowledge of most of the students. Asked for a show of hands: Who knows who Noah is? Who knows who Moses is? St. Paul? St. Peter? An incredibly small number of students knew even the slightest thing about the Bible. (I would expect the Jewish kids to at least know something about Moses.) These were late teens, early 20’s. Their parents were younger than me. So right in there somewhere is where religious observance- even fake religious observance- stopped happening in families. In the 70’s and 80’s.

  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    It is funny trying to figure out who is a chrsitian and who is just a part of a christian run society. As I walk each morning – 2.5 hours if I may brag, part of what is in my ears is the old time radio broadcast of Have Gun, Will Travel with John Dehner in the starring role.

    One of the old commercials on the CBS program offers a solution if you are tired of crime in your neighborhood (and then the string together a half dozen other bad things) they say if you want to impact it, start with your own family and take them to the church or synagogue of your choice where they will get spiritual training and grow to be good citizens.

    Now this may be true and it is certainly something that you would not hear today – but that says nothing about were there more Christians back in those days. It was just being a tool to control society.

  13. JD says:

    Thankfully Jesus didn’t say,
    On this crock I will build My Church.
    If people would read the Bible instead of being fed from some crock, they might discern that they’ve been duped.
    There’s some real souper-dupers dolloping it out everywhere these days.

  14. JD says:

    Keeping in mind #6. Thank you Michael.

  15. Duane Arnold says:

    Europe (including the UK) is a post-Christian society. In the Middle East, Christian communities are moving toward extinction under the pressure of persecution and displacement. In South America the societies are becoming increasingly secularized, while the religious culture encountered is increasingly of the North American evangelical variety. North America is essentially in the process of becoming a post-Christian society. Christianity is struggling in Asia. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is growing.

    I write this not to argue, but simply to register a reality check.

  16. Michael says:

    I just had a thought…that seems obvious upon reflection…that when Jesus spoke of building His church He was not necessarily speaking of numerical growth…

  17. Duane Arnold says:


    Indeed. WE think numbers. That’s part of the problem…

  18. Captain Kevin says:

    #6 and #7…..OUCH!!

  19. Xenia says:

    Duane, I was thinking of the sub-Saharan Christians, but maybe their numbers aren’t as great as I thought. The numbers of Christians in the US, Canada and Europe is decreasing, no doubt about that. I think there’s a good number of secret Christians in China but who can count them?

    I still think that while the churches are emptying out, those who remain are more likely to be genuine believers. That’s just my opinion, though.

  20. Xenia says:

    The 3 Orthodox parishes around here that I am familiar with have all grown.

    1. The Greek parish, because the non-Greek priest is very evangelistic oriented and works tirelessly to bring people to Christ.
    2. The convert parish, because they also knock themselves out to win converts with a great bookstore on the main street of town and their participation in works of charity plus a k-8 school.
    3. My parish, which is growing too. Lots of new Russians and American military families.

    I think the growth of these 3 parishes is not the norm, though. I know the Greeks are losing people.

  21. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes, sub-Saharan Africa is having growth… mainly Anglicans and Methodists. The problem, however, is theological training (difficult) and a lack of clergy.

  22. Em says:

    Michael @ 1:18 targets something very insidious that has crept into the churches…. Jesus didn’t say that He would build His great big Church did He? When we are admonished to be holy i don’t think God was thinking of Swiss cheese.
    Our strength is in our internalizing of the revealed Truth, is it not? . .. So?……
    So have our (evangelical) gatherings focused on salesmanship over the “Person and Work of the Holy Spirit?” Might be a reality shock to some good, God loving men… dunno tho, do i? ?

  23. JoelG says:

    #10 – I watch a lot of TV. More than I should. I should pray and read Scripture more. I should do a lot more, period.

    I go through seasons of ups and downs. Sometimes I’m on top of my Christian “game”. Sometimes praying, reading His Word and going to Church is the last thing I want to do. I hope in these times He has me covered, because watching TV, watching squirrels and listening to the crickets chirp is as “spiritual” as I get.

  24. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My spiritual ‘centering’ to was to work in my vocation. I don’t know that you can draw closer to God and be more pleasing to God than that.

    I tagged my wife in a FB meme saying I was married to my best friend (her) and I sent a text to each of my kids saying I loved them and was proud of them.

    Be spiritual – work in your vocation.

  25. JoelG says:

    Thanks MLD. We’re going through some custody stuff with my ex-wife and has my anxiety through the roof, lately. I’m trying to do my best for our kids like you do. This is the best I can do right now “spiritually”.

  26. Captain Kevin says:

    My guess is that more of us than care to admit it have those ups and downs when it comes to our spiritual walk. Jesus carries us through the high points, the valleys, and the plain old mundane things of life.

    Praying for you and your kids.

  27. JoelG says:

    Thank you CK. That means a great deal as I know you’re going through a lot. I will pray for you, as well.

  28. Em says:

    When life presses in hard and evil, God knows and, as the Captain noted, He does carry us… IMX and praying with. ?

  29. JoelG says:

    Thanks Em I appreciate that. I don’t mean to draw attention away from the thoughts above. I only want to point out that sometimes when I get down and all I can muster is a small prayer amidst the brokenness of life I hope Jesus still has me despite my doubts and fears (and watching too much tv). I know I need to get my family and I back to church.

  30. JoelG says:

    This isn’t a place for brokenness anymore. I’ve gotten a lot out of this place and appreciate it. I don’t belong here, clearly. Thank you for all your input and prayers.

    All that has been assumed has not been healed. I can tell you that much.

  31. Michael says:

    “This isn’t a place for brokenness anymore”

    I truly resent that remark.
    The reason I wrote #10 was because those close to me know that I recently went through a very dark time.
    Very dark.
    The only thing that kept me going was forcing myself to do The Daily Office…praying those Psalms, declaring my faith…usually in mumbles and whispers.
    What I had learned to do in the light kept me alive in the dark.
    One of my jobs is to help people get through…and learn some things in the light that will preserve them when darkness comes.
    It was for the broken…
    You may well decide that this place isn’t for you…but don’t demean the rest of us on your way out the door.

  32. JoelG says:

    I’m not demeaning anyone.

    Spiritual practices don’t help me. Antidepressants help. TV helps. Cigarettes help. Beer helps.

    I’m not good at fixing myself. And Christian advice about getting more spiritual only causes more anxiety and depression. Its a lonely place to be and why I’ve always struggled being good at Christianity.

    Thanks again.

  33. Michael says:

    My advice was not to be more spiritual, nor to be good at Christianity.
    What I am suggesting is how people through history have clung to Jesus until they knew He was hanging on to them.
    It’s a way to survive, not be a spiritual giant.
    I can’t take anti depressants, can’t stand the taste of beer, and I’ve already smoked myself into one working lung.
    I do like the hard stuff, but I know if i start, I might not stop.
    I was only offering up what helped me.
    Your mileage may vary.
    You’ll always have a place at the table if you want it.

  34. JoelG says:

    I’m a wreck. I do love you and all here. I’m sorry to pour all this on you. I’m having a hell of a time with one of my daughters who I’m about to loose., I need to find some closer people to unload on. Peace and thank you.

  35. Michael says:

    I hear you…and there will be many praying for you both.

  36. Eric says:

    re #2: I often think of David. In 1 Samuel, he’s anointed king but not king yet. He’s faithful and heroic. In 2 Samuel, he’s king and he makes his mistakes.

    One of the sad stories this year has been finding out that Hybels was not the exemplary leader he had seemed to be. I wonder how that varied before & after his ‘success’.

  37. Duane Arnold says:


    If you ever want to write… talk or whatever, please feel free to get my contact info from Michael. You are very much in our prayers…

  38. JoelG says:

    Thank you Duane. I’ve made an ass of myself again on a public forum and I’ve learned my lesson. I need to step away and quit hurting others and unloading here. These are mental issues I have that sometimes require a step back from faith. In the mean time I hope for grace in the midst of doubt.

    I’m sorry again for my hurtful comments and flame outs here.

  39. Michael says:


    You’ve been a solid member of the community and are nowhere close to my own record for losing it online.
    Don’t sweat it…you’ve got enough on your plate.

  40. Cash says:


    You are not alone, brother. I have mental issues that often keep me from faith also. It’s a harsh reality to realize that the very thing you need the most is unattainable at times. Just want you to know I understand and I care about you. You have my contact info. Anytime, brother.

  41. mudman says:


    “Spiritual practices don’t help me.”

    “I’m not good at fixing myself. And Christian advice about getting more spiritual only causes more anxiety and depression.”

    I’m sorry to read about your daughter.

    Sometimes all we can do is wait through the night for the sun to rise. Maybe being a “light” in the night isn’t about how “spiritual” we are. Maybe there’s nothing to “fix.”

    I also think possibly it’s not about losing a child, maybe it’s about letting them go and be whatever it is they think they want to be.

    Again I’m sorry about your daughter, yes it hurts. We have a lot of investment in our children.

    “I need to find some closer people…” Good advice.

  42. Kevin H says:


    Life sucks sometimes. Sorry to hear of your current difficulties. But don’t feel the need to leave this place. You are valued here and there are others who have made far greater “asses” of themselves here. Far greater. You’ve always shown yourself to be humble and contrite afterwards. So don’t feel so bad as your “flame outs” probably wouldn’t even garner honorable mention in the halls of Phoenix Preacher Flame Out notoriety. 🙂

  43. JoelG says:

    Thank you Michael, Cash, Mud man and KevinH. I’ve takien too much time and attention. Thank you for your kind words and helpful advice. I’ll be here amongst the lurkers.

  44. Xenia says:

    Joel, please stay. We all love you.


  45. JoelG says:

    Xenia, thank you so much. I love you all too. This is a place for the broken.

  46. Dan from Georgia says:

    Hey JoelG! Yes, please stay with us. We love and care for you.

  47. JoelG says:

    Thank you Dan. And right back at you, my friend.

  48. Anne says:

    Hey Joel – I can’t imagine anyone more burnt out on most of the so called Christian stuff than me. However I love so many here dearly, there is so much love and light shared between everyone as family as they ponder and wrestle with all the questions and messiness and each other that I can’t help continuing to lurk and occasionally throw my two cents worth in. It’s written they would know Jesus’ followers by their love and this motley crew is one of the best examples I’ve been honored to know online and in person. All that to say, glad that like me you’ll continue to lurk about.

  49. Em says:

    Joel, our faith is not for posers – don’t worry about how much space you take up here or how “unspiritual” you think you come across… God LOVES an honest man (or child or woman)
    Always loved the phrase, once you have children, your heart lives outside your body….
    FWIW… right now you are experiencing some of the pain that God feels regarding us.. but we dont have His complete knowledge and holiness and He knows that, too. – God keep

    Neighbor just called, says we’re back on level 3 alert… guess i’d better check on it and turn our sprinklers back on… All is well, even if i don’t like it, eh? . ?

  50. JoelG says:

    Anne… yes. I know it sounds horrible and very un-Christian. But sometimes I need a break from thinking about it as it can only leads to more anxiety for me. I know it sounds counter-intuitive. Thank you for your kind words and I will always appreciate your bed bug advice from last year. 😉

    Em… thank you for your wisdom and kind words. I hope the rain comes sooner than later….

  51. JoelG says:

    And the obvious question is, if it causes so much anxiety, why are you reading a Christian blog?

    I don’t know….

  52. Erunner says:

    Lots of loving and sound words posted for you Joel. I’ll pray as I can for you.

  53. JoelG says:

    Thank you Erunner. I appreciate your kindness and our hosts patience. I’m going to take my leave for now grateful for the kindness and prayers.

  54. Duane Arnold says:

    Just an observation, but there is a lot of love in this community of faith … It’s been there all along , but when there is a real need, it shows itself.

    A Te Deum is called for in my evening office.

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