Things I Think…

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50 Responses

  1. Captain Kevin says:

    #8 – sad and unfortunately true

    #9 – same here

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks, CK…we live in odd times…

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,

    I think this is under the category of, “we’ve lost our way and we’ve burned the map”…

  4. Dan from Georgia says:

    Sobering

  5. Josh says:

    #6 is the gospel for our day. I copied it and sent it to friends. May it be so.

  6. Michael says:

    Dan,

    It is sobering…and I’m at a loss as to how to go forward.

  7. Michael says:

    Duane,

    We have to re-create that map…but first we have to recognize we’re lost…

  8. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Thank you…

  9. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael…thanks for this…sobering for me in how much time I spend on the news and social to see who is dumb lately. Mirroring my own actions.

  10. Michael says:

    Dan,

    I don’t spend much time on either…and my blood pressure is down ten points.

  11. Robin says:

    The last five years have alse been known for the rise in access to social media using smartphones.

  12. Kevin H says:

    Amen to it all, Michael.

  13. Michael says:

    Robin,

    That may be a factor as well…

  14. Michael says:

    Thank you, Kevin…you’re a brave friend in these matters…

  15. Officerhoppy says:

    I’ve been a follower of Christ for over 52 years and in ministry for 35 years. I retired in September. With out the pressure of feeling like I needed to conform to certain expectations of how a pastor is to think and perform, I’ve been reevaluating my relationship with Christ. My thoughts have been shaped by only one aspect of Christianity. For lack of a better term—Evangelicalism. While I am thankful for the experience, I am learning a few things. There are other demonstrations and expressions of faith that are unique to me but are as valid if not more valid. The mysterious and unpredictable side of God still baffles me. Admittedly, I am uncomfortable with that. But others revel in it and find comfort. Maybe, one day, I will come to terms with it.

    I find myself intolerant of what I call “Hallmark Theology”. You know, those ubiquitous comments on social media like “God answers email”, “ Let go and let God”. “Fear ends where faith begins.” “ God is my wireless provider!” “ Jesus: Your get-out-of-hell-free card.” “Get rich quick! Count your blessings!” I’m rich! My Father owns the world.” God’s promises have no expiration date.” And so on.

    These shallow memes contain a bit of truth but minimize God and create wrong or false expectations of God. And when He doesn’t perform as expected, they serve to create disappointment and ultimately, disillusion with God.

    So much of what many believe about God is untrue. They worship a God and serve a Christ that never existed.

    So, I have set my dials back to zero; I’ve wiped the board clean and am starting a search to understand and serve the real Jesus.

    I have many questions and, if I am honest, don’t know where to begin except to realize my biases. All I have are my 52 years of experiences.

    But I believe I am in for an exciting trip of discovery.

  16. DavidH says:

    Expertise has become a bad word.

    I have actually had Christian friends tell me that my education in Russian and European history was a waste of time and effort. How am I supposed to convey that what we are witnessing in Ukraine was centuries in the making.

  17. Reuben says:

    Thought 2

    This is something I have witnessed in my life from even a very young age. I have always been a news junkie. Cable news is not news, it’s pundits pushing political propaganda, political commentators who make no bones about what sides they stand on.

    Quite some time ago, I pulled the plug on US domestic news entirely. My news sources are online, and I chose them because they both look at the US as a looney bin, and really have no vested interest in “taking sides” in all matters US. It has dramatically changed the way I look at this country.

    I get local news on the AM dial. It’s good enough for me.

    I don’t know that I would be able to tolerate even minutes of any brand of cable news. I even see some of the top pundits and commentators and I get angry.

  18. Reuben says:

    A friend of mine said a couple days ago that cable news is entertainment. Nothing but simple minded entertainment.

  19. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    I grounded myself in the creeds of the early church as a foundation…and that gave me worlds to consider and test…it is an exciting and joy filled journey.

  20. Michael says:

    DavidH,

    They don’t care….some pundit for their tribe informs them…however badly, they are unable to discern…

  21. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    I think cable news is the source of most of the depression, anxiety, and anger issues plaguing us.
    It has replaced spirituality with brutal carnality and we are yet to pay the full price for such stupidity…

  22. Reuben says:

    Amen to that.

  23. Linn says:

    Michael,

    So many of your points are truly sad (i.e. both true and sad), but each is also accompanied by a Scripture that refutes the common way of thinking, and those bring me hope. I keep looking for “my people”- those who trust God and his word vs the current nonsense, and I keep finding them one at a time. They are precious treasures.

  24. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    Me thinks reading and understanding the creeds is a good to do.

    I loved the Apostles and Nicean creed that we used to recite every Sunday when, as a child, I attended the Lutheran church.

  25. Michael says:

    Linn,

    It’s sad on many levels…but if we continue speaking the truth in love we may re-convert some…

  26. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    The creeds tell me where the fences are…and as long as I stay in the fences, I’m safe…and orthodox.

  27. Steve says:

    Duane,

    Isn’t the Sermon on the mount our road map and compass? I’ve heard you guys talk about that before.

  28. Jackie A says:

    Mainstream media is mostly deep state propaganda with more dangerous fake news than cable. They are more divisive than social media as they set the tone.

  29. Michael says:

    Steve,

    The Sermon and the Gospels…

  30. Michael says:

    The deep state is like Sasquatch…lots of people believe in it, but no one can find it…

  31. bob1 says:

    I have actually had Christian friends tell me that my education in Russian and European history was a waste of time and effort.

    This is unbelievable. I know it shouldn’t shock me at this point, but it does.

    Pretty soon we’ll need a “new Ireland” to preserve what’s left of the ruins
    of our know-nothingness.

  32. Elena says:

    Thank you Michael for writing!!!

  33. jtk says:

    #9 indeed

    I asked someone recently, “When does Jesus, through the Word or prayer, SHOUT ‘LOOK AT THIS! LOOK AT THIS!’ like the world, the flesh and the Devil and/or the media and social media does? Never.

  34. Owen says:

    Michael, thank you for this post. You’re not alone in the points you’ve expressed.

    ” I now write knowing that few will hear, because I belong to no identifiable political tribe ….and I don’t write much anymore as a result…”

    Those who have ears will hear….. keep it up as long as you are called to do so.

  35. Dread says:

    Who was it that said “all that Jesus asked of the world was cross upon which to die for it.”

    Accomplishing our dreams is a mirage as are those dreams. Ashes and dust is our destiny … from which resurrection can be.

    In the Eucharistic moment the disciples discerned again the one who was always destined to be “cut off and have nothing”

    Thus he is the apostle and shepherd of those who wander the wasteland until times of the Gentiles cease.

    If we want more than he had we will miss what he gives. Let us go to him outside the camp bearing his reproach. He is there always there.

  36. Officerhoppy says:

    Dread
    My friend, I have a question for you. It’s not to antagonize you or anyone but you said “ If we want more than he had we will miss what he gives.”

    Salvation or rescue and forgiveness of sins are two things he gives. But beyond that, what does He give us?

    My experience is he offers fellowship, and comfort as long as I am in a mindset or frame of mind to receive it or, do I dare say it— manufacture it. These things have been to me, on par with having a positive mental attitude..

    So, i ask earnestly my friend, other than salvation and forgiveness of sin, what else does he give that a jerk like me could miss?

    I appreciate you taking time to think about this and respond.

  37. Dread says:

    He gives us the things you say and more. He gives us himself intimately known more than a lover or a friend. I am constantly aware that we’re are trained to be unconscious of his actual presence. But as our outer shell fades our inner reality is ever increasingly alive, alert, enabled. The eyes and ears dim but the knowledge of him increases.

    He gives us the fellowship of his sufferings whereby we can easily bid farewell to all we are losing as we relinquish or have torn from us this veil.

    He gives us the power to suffer the loss of all things and hail it as an incalculable blessing. We meet Jesus where dreams crash and hopes flee.

    Jesus is not our one time pass to the favor of God he is the fullness of God united with us conforming us by pain and loss into glory.

    He gives us the boundless power of his resurrection dashing the great enemies. And he does it all as he crushes us like grapes in the winepress. We are to be his new wine for the anxious revelers of this world’s weddings.

    All the while my whining betrays him but he invites me closer still.

  38. Michael says:

    Well said, Dread.
    I might also add that he offers us a purpose…the heralds of a kingdom here but not yet. the sound of of joy approaching…a reason to be and be glad that we are here and know Him.

    This transforms us and the people and the world we interact with…salvation is really a small idea in the great scheme of things…

  39. Michael says:

    He also promises the reversal of all the pain into eternal joy…this is the promise that keeps me alive and unafraid to die…

  40. Officerhoppy says:

    Dread and Michael
    I appreciate your responses. This is a real question: How does one experience these things. What do you mean by the fellowship of His suffering? When I suffer, I just feel alone. I’ve never lost all things so I don’t understand that one.
    What do you mean by the boundless power of His resurrection? I’m not trying to be snarky. But while that all sounds good, what if that totally eludes us—as it does me? How does one experience these things?

    Michael
    I have to agree with the sense of purpose comment. I let that at times in my ministry.

    If I am honest, as a minister I worked hard, always put on a positive face, spoke encouragingly but felt alone—as if I was doing all the work and God was no where to be found—especially in sermon prep. When did I miss it?

    Thanks Guys

  41. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    Sermon prep requires work because we are standing on the shoulders of so many saints that have taught for 2000 years.
    What I present from what I find is hopefully directed by the Holy Spirit to the people I’m teaching.

    The last few years for me have been filled with trials and loss, but they have also been a time when I’ve never felt closer to God.

    The key for me was first giving up any hope of being right about all things doctrinally…because doctrine is nowhere near as important as knowing Him.

    I started focusing on Jesus…my tradition focused on Pauls interpretation of Jesus….I began to reverse that and start to meditate on His person and work above all other concerns.

    It has transformed my understanding…and me.

  42. Michael says:

    I also had to get away from evangelicalism and its narrow view of the work of Christ…evangelicalism is transactional and pragmatic and dreary as hell to me.

    The truncated view of the kingdom is death to real joy and anticipation about what God is doing and will do in the age to come…

  43. Officerhoppy says:

    In many ways, I feel like a man learning to walk again. Don’t know what to let go of, what to hang on to, or what to embrace.

  44. Officerhoppy says:

    But thanks for sharing your experience.

  45. Captain Kevin says:

    “ What do you mean by the fellowship of His suffering? When I suffer, I just feel alone…

    What do you mean by the boundless power of His resurrection? …while that all sounds good, what if that totally eludes us—as it does me? How does one experience these things?”

    Hoppy, I so appreciate your honesty. Feel like I’m in the same boat.

  46. Officerhoppy says:

    Capt
    I’ll be the first mate!

  47. Captain Kevin says:

    Hoppy,
    You’re hired! Now if we can just figure which direction to sail this old thing!

  48. josh says:

    Hoppy said: “In many ways, I feel like a man learning to walk again. Don’t know what to let go of, what to hang on to, or what to embrace.”

    And that describes my place in life perfectly. I don’t like it.

  49. Linnea says:

    Haven’t commented here in awhile, but Officer Hoppy, I will offer this. I’ve been where you are.

    Last year I suffered much physically. A woman, transient in our church, offered this: 1.vvWhen you feel defeated, worship the Lord.
    2. When you feel destitute, choose to praise him.
    3. When you face the end of the road, give him the glory.

    I did that, at my lowest point, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, drained completely, and he met me in that place, when I chose to worship him and to be thankful.

    It was the deepest fellowship with him I’ve ever experienced in my walk. In short, we refuse to agree with what the enemy deals us and the Lord comes alongside.

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