Things I Think…

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87 Responses

  1. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks for these thoughts Michael.

  2. Michael says:

    Dan,

    Thank you…and thanks for staying among us…

  3. Josh says:

    #9 – I am praying little these days, but my prayers are only thanks for specific things in my life.

  4. Pineapple Head says:

    We’ve really pressed into advent this year at our church, perhaps more than ever before.

  5. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I think those may be very powerful prayers…even if they don’t feel that way…

  6. Michael says:

    PH,

    What does that look like in practice?

  7. Captain Kevin says:

    “…fear provides an opportunity for faith, an opening for it to be given by its Source…do not feel guilty if you’re in fear…embrace it in the dark and tell it in faith that…someday…all will be well…”

    That’s preaching to me!

  8. Michael says:

    CK,

    I’m glad…I have been preaching it to myself all week…

  9. Reuben says:

    7… if only that were possible

  10. Joel Brown says:

    I truly feel the first 3 these days… well for the last 278 days really. And my faith these days has a surety and strength I had never known, but also a fragility and undercurrent of fear that is unnerving at the same time. I spend my days spreading a hope I truly believe in, and my nights are plagued with thoughts of death. All I know is I am weaker than I ever thought, and God is greater than I ever knew.

  11. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    It’s possible…if we want it.
    You and I would have a marvelous time together…

  12. Michael says:

    Joel,

    Thank you…I thought of you while I was writing this and felt unworthy to do so in the face of your example.
    We pray for you and bless you…this site is yours for anything that may help at anytime…

  13. Pineapple Head says:

    Some of the ways we are engaging more in advent:
    -Our worship service is more reflective for the next few weeks. The music selections are much more reflective, seeking to communicate longing and anticipation
    -Messages are solely advent oriented
    -Reintroduced Advent candle
    -Providing families with a host of resources to help them engage in in advent at home
    -Reset our stage area to reflect an advent mood
    -Purposely trimmed down our church calendar

  14. Michael says:

    PH,

    It will be interesting to see the response…

  15. Reuben says:

    Joel,

    Thinking of you today while in a school parking lot waiting for my son to get out, listening to Pantera on 11. I had the Black Album on earlier today and was thinking of you then too.

  16. Linn says:

    #4 It’s true that Jesus sent Himself, but He also sent us a book-the Bible! That’s where I first met the real Jesus, and I go back to it daily to get to know Him better.

  17. Pineapple Head says:

    Michael,

    I think the biggest challenge is getting people to slow down and reflect. American Christian culture loves hype, busyness, and positivity. Advent says, “Get real.” I’m realistic, not everyone will get it. But, for those who will, I’m glad we’re making a lot of adjustments.

  18. Captain Kevin says:

    Piney, I love that you are leading your congregation this way.

  19. Captain Kevin says:

    Joel, although I see you on FB daily, it’s always nice when you pop in here. Your work, and the way you persevere in faith through the ongoing fear speaks volumes. Continuing to pray for you, your beautiful family, and all those you serve. God bless you, dear brother.

  20. Michael says:

    Linn,

    Yes, the Bible points to Him…but too many don’t look beyond the paper…

  21. Linn says:

    So true, that…

  22. Dan from Georgia says:

    you’re welcome Michael (comment #2). And thank you again for your faithfulness!

  23. Officerhoppy says:

    The rift in our country and among the followers of Christ is so deep I seriously doubt it can ever be repaired.—absent a miraculous move of God. Sad, but true

  24. pstrmike says:

    thanks for your comment Joel. I was struck by this comment you made.

    “All I know is I am weaker than I ever thought, and God is greater than I ever knew.”

    That is the foundational design of what life for a Christian is suppose to look like. Unfortunately, most don’t get it, don’t want to get it, and have no idea of what their frame of mind and heart would look like if they actually tried live as one “crucified with Christ.”

    Sometimes I think the Holy of Holies for the Christian is often a stone’s throw from hell.

    I think Rich Mullins got it…..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiikMNJTvME

    Peace……

  25. Shawn says:

    #2 Forgive me for my selfish adulation regarding your thoughts on fear and faith especially their partnership.

    It is sure nice to finally hear someone else confirm the very thoughts I have regarding the subject. If I hear another sermon on how fear always is not only the exact opposite of faith but is the also destroyer, the extinguisher, the swift bringer of its deathof it, I think I may literally throw-up.

    When I used to listen to CSN for hours and hours on end I would often yell at the preacher, some very well known in Calvary Circles too, about the absurdity of their propositions regarding fear and faith.

    It seemed obvious to me, from the Scriptures nonetheless, that fear is not only a necessary precursor to faith but also its primary catalyst.

    I guess, thankfully so, that I am not fully off my rocker yet though sometimes it feels like I am close to the edge.

    By the way your thoughts on how Advent is sitting in the dark waiting for the light of the world to intude upon it are very interesting and thought provoking. Initially, I sense the implications are profound. I will be thinking on this, possibly moreso ruminating, for a while. Thanks!

    By the way Joel, thanks for sharing your candid thoughts on the matter. May the Lord strengthen you and your family within for your continued work with out (ministering in faith). Keep on!

  26. Michael says:

    Shawn,

    I kept seeing preachers and teacher treating fear as a repugnant sin…which is not only biblically incorrect, it makes liars out of the their hearers.
    Thanks for listening and affirming…I thought I would get a bunch of pushback on this one…

  27. SHAWN says:

    Michael, it is what happens when everyone only uses the unholy Trinity of sermon prep: Warren Wierbe’s “Be Series,” J. Vernon McGree’s “Thru the Bible” (audio or print), and Chuck’s “5000 Series tapes.”

    I could add a two more sources as well: Calvary Satellite Network (or Christian radio in general) and Courson’s tapes or commentaries. So many were trained that this slop passed as serious in-depth study of the Word.

    Going beyond Calvary Chapel into Evangelicalism in general the names of favorite personalities change but often remain woefully shallow in terms of actual or meaningful exegesis.

    By the way, you should know by now that in terms of this idea of fear and faith you wrote on that your readership is much too discerning to push back on this one (as my tongue smacks my cheek). Lol.

  28. Michael says:

    Shawn,

    well done…I concur. 😉

  29. dusty says:

    Finally!! a pastor said it…. Fear is not a sin. sigh

    We are sick, broken, sinful people – made well only by the blood of our Savior. Christ has done that for us, and we believe that.

    Yet we will only see it when He come to take us home. Is that right?

  30. Michael says:

    Dusty,

    Yes….all will be well then…

  31. filistine says:

    isn’t certainty the opposite of faith?

  32. dusty says:

    Has anyone seen that commercial where the lady has a smiley face that she holds in front of her own face while chatting with others? That is how I feel that some Christians we should be – always have a smile on our face, masking our true emotions and feelings. Making us believe that is what it is to be a Christian. it is not. the Bible says, Jesus says, “in this life, you will have tribulations.” “The world will hate you.” “It rains on the just and unjust.” All though the Bible God’s people suffered, had ailments, trials, cried. Jesus cried!
    I thew away my mask. I found a church where most do not have masks. There is freedom in that act…throw away your mask and be you…a child of the King, a child of God. it’s ok to be truthful about your sufferings. That is why we pray for each other, why we pray without ceasing.

  33. Officerhoppy says:

    Dusty
    And doubt is not a sin either! Every man God used in the Bible experienced doubt. Unbelief is a sin, but not doubt.

  34. Em Wegemer says:

    Good thoughts here! ! !
    Dusty @ 1:09 AMEN… Good to see you here again

  35. Chris Long says:

    I don’t think there has ever been a Things list I disagreed with more. I understand the thoughts as I used to have them and I think this is where the majority of the Church world is – which is why we have such a weak wimpy Church.

    This whole “we’re in the dark, hobbling along, okay to be in fear, just telling others that one day it’s all going to be made right” mode is I believe the exact opposite of the message the Church is supposed to be portraying.

    We WERE in darkness. Then The Light came. That Light comes in us and we are told to go in His power and authority doing His works. We carry the Presence of God within us. We are NOT weak and wimpy just trying to hobble along. If we are, we’ve got something wrong. And indeed we do. It’s theology like this that has kept the Church back from operating as we are intended.

    We’re supposed to be operating in victory in His power and authority. We’re supposed to be the ones operating in faith – casting out demons, healing the sick – where miracles are following us that believe left and right. I’m so done with the “pity party miserable Christianity” mode. I acknowledge that we live in a world that is not right and will not be made fully right til Jesus comes back. But as His blessed and chosen people, we’ve got the God of the Universe – and He Himself dwells within us and empowers us. Faith is absolutely what’s lacking. Fear is not the opposite of faith. Unbelief is the opposite of faith. But fear comes from unbelief. It’s not okay. It’s not something to partner with. Fear is of the devil – period. As believers, we are supposed to be living out of our spiritual sense – not our natural senses. And we’re supposed to be in faith, not fear.

    There is very little that riles me as a believer – but this theology does – because it causes everybody to just hunker over in the corner saying “Oh Woe is me – and woe is everybody else – and oh well we’re just supposed to suffer and indeed God wants us to suffer – life just stinks til Jesus comes back.” That theology is straight from the pit of hell.

    I’m not in darkness. And none of you that claim the name of Jesus are supposed to be either. We have the Light of the world living inside of us and He tells us that WE are now the light – because we carry His light within us.

    Time to start living as a light carrier and acting like we have the all-powerful God and His presence dwelling inside us. And that His presence is more than able for anything.

    One can stay in the corner in their little “suffering party” if they want. I’ve been there – was there for years – and if it weren’t for things God showed me, would have died there. Praise God I’m out of that mode these days. That mode is exactly why the church is the way it is. And ultimately why the culture is the way it is. Because we have offered culture no compelling reason for Jesus because we aren’t even demonstrating it ourselves. Because we don’t believe it ourselves. Jesus for most of the church is nothing more than a “one day all will be righted Jesus” where they get to go to Heaven one day. But meanwhile they embrace just hobbling along on this earth and even laud it as the way it is supposed to be as a way of “suffering”. oh you’re sick now? Too bad, just suffer – God might be causing it to you to teach you. But oh, you’re depressed now, oh well – that’s life – just take your medication and move on and don’t dare say or intimate to such a person that they could possibly be helped by looking to Jesus in faith because then you’re putting faith guilt-trips on people. But oh, you have financial difficulties? God doesn’t care – in fact He might want you broke – don’t you know Jesus was broke – that’s just life. And on and on. It amazes me how strongly people will fight for a miserable Christianity. Like I said, I grew up in that, I lived in that, and I’m done with that.

    Unity in the Body is indeed a major problem, but it is getting harder and harder for me to be in unity with those whose Jesus is just kind of a “one day when I die I get to go to Heaven Jesus”. The Jesus I now live my life with is a daily Jesus that cares also really about my daily life here and calls me to live in and through His power and see myself as the royal Victor I am in Him, as one that right NOW is seated in the Heavenlies in Christ Jesus with Him, that has been given His name and told to use it. I’m a victor not a victim and it’s time the Church starts living and operating as who she really is and all that Jesus intends for her to be. Jesus never intended for a weak and wimpy Church just hobbling to get by offering nothing more to the world than to say “well, come join me hobbling in my suffering and One day Jesus will right everything.” What kind of a message is THAT??? What kind of a God is THAT???

    It’s hard to have unity with those that when you say something like “I personally have watched an arm and a leg grow out as I spoke and commanded that to happen in Jesus’ name”, get told by “believers” (ironically named) that it’s just trickery or that it’s of the devil because everyone knows Jesus doesn’t do stuff like that these days… (this was mentioned to me on this very site by someone last year I believe). And of course silly me I must have been wrong because of course I should have known that it’s the devil that loves to go around Healing people… The theology that some Christians have bought so they could maintain their sanity in trying to make sense of why some people are healed and some are not is just incredible to me. I understand it, but it’s incredible.

    Everyone gets the Jesus they want. He won’t push Himself and He doesn’t force us to believe in faith. Many believers’ faith is only enough to get them “fire insurance Jesus” – where tough luck for you now, but one day Jesus makes it all ok. But for those that want more and are willing to really push into it, more is there to find.. Unfortunately, you’ll have to push through the multitudes of “unbelieving believers” to get there…

    With all that said, I wish all here the best and a wonderful Advent and Christmas season. I’d urge all here to remember that Jesus already came. He already brought the Light. He already brought the Joy. And so forth. It’s still found in Him. Are we living like this is the case? Or living like we are poor beggars who’ve got nothing til Jesus comes again? Just asking….

  36. Josh says:

    The arm and leg growth miracles are such an easy trick. If that’s the delusion you want to live in, then go for it. I’m not interested in the least in that religion.

  37. Anthony Crisp says:

    @Chris Long
    Amen!

  38. Duane Arnold says:

    “…And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

    This is not triumphalism, it is “mere Christianity” which follows the example of Christ and the early church…

  39. Josh says:

    You guys never had the bottom fall out? Its a rude awakening. Then you can keep talking about victorious living, but somehow “victorious living” looks and feels exactly like massive failure. At some point you just admit it doesn’t work and move on, either to no faith, or a faith practice that allows for disappointment.

    But honestly, when you’ve hit rock bottom, having people show up to scold you about how victoriously you should be living doesn’t help a bit.

  40. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    They are talking about something other than the faith once delivered…

  41. Chris Long says:

    Tempted to not respond to either of you. Josh, you can of course believe what you want as well – that’s the cool thing about choice. I used to believe as you do (was taught that mode my whole life). Well familiar with the Baptist thoughts on these subjects. I used to consider it trickery and a delusion in my unbelief also. I personally measured and I personally witnessed both miracles first-hand right up close and they were genuine and the real-deal. I also personally would not be alive without the healing power of God where the doctors had no clue and no help. I’m not going to convince you saying that because you’ve already got the theology that makes you satisfied it appears. So yes, Josh, I’ve had the bottom fall out. I almost died numerous times and had a significant unexplained illness that the doctors had no clue about. It’s precisely because the bottom fell out that I started becoming open to things God started showing me. And I didn’t just buy it – I spent my time studying things the Lord was showing me out in the Word and it was only after I became 100% convinced that Scripturally I had been wrong that I was forced to make a switch. And since then, not only have I seen miracles in my own life, but numerous ones in others and my relationship with God is far deeper and richer than it ever was back when God was some “mystery” that I couldn’t really know because His ways were so much higher and where I didn’t have any power (or joy I would add) in my life. Back when I let my pain dictate my theology. Most Christians have lowered their theology to match their pain. Precisely because the “bottom fell out” as you reference in their or a loved ones life and they couldn’t understand and so to maintain their sanity and still allow themselves to believe in a God of love, they had to adjust their theology.

    Duane, that’s a passage (the entirety including what’s before it) that’s been woefully misunderstood and incorrectly taught & used for a very long time. I step through that more in my book but suffice it to say that God’s grace is indeed sufficient. His grace is our power. That includes His health, His wholeness, His life. When we are weak in ourselves, He is strong. When we are persecuted (which is the context, not what some people have tried to make the context), even when we are afflicted, we can look to Jesus and His grace. Nowhere in that passage does it say anything about God afflicting Paul with sickness or disease (those are assumptions people have made). Nowhere in that passage did God tell Paul No that He wouldn’t heal him. He told Him in essence to draw on His grace because His grace is sufficient (and it is!). And yes, that’s absolutely what victorious living in Jesus is all about. I don’t deny persecution can come – and indeed that’s a promise in the Word if we’re doing this whole Jesus thing right. I would add that that persecution even can come from fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord… Suffering for Jesus’ sake when attacked by others as persecution is a whole different realm than having a “I’m just a poor worm that’s supposed to be sick and broke” mindset that many believers seem to live in. We are absolutely called to live victorious in Jesus in every respect. The same passage you would use as a counter-text I would use as a proof-text… As for your other comment about not holding to the faith once delivered, I think I’ll just let that pass. I know the mode you are coming from because I used to be there and speak of others the way you did of me. I consider you (& Josh & most everyone else here I’ve ever seen) my brothers and sisters in Jesus. Blessings to all! 🙂

  42. Duane Arnold says:

    The triumphalism expressed is a twentieth century aberration. It has little to do with authentic Christianity…

  43. Josh says:

    You gonna live forever?

  44. Michael says:

    Chris,

    Because I believe you to be sincere, but sincerely deluded, I’m going to try to speak with grace…although I think your doctrines are dangerous and should have no place for exposure.

    The testimony of the NT and the history of church is that suffering is one of the few things actually promised and received in this fallen world.

    It would be a very unwise man who would tell one of my flock that is suffering from the results of the fall that if only they had faith they would be healed….that person would then need to seek their own healing from the consequences of their mouth running. I have violently removed people like you from hospital rooms on more than one occasion.

    Coming here and declaring that you have witnessed a notoriously fraudulent parlor trick of the Oral Roberts era isn’t convincing.
    Produce X-rays and cat scans and doctors reports of cancer healed or mental illness or Alzheimers …those would be miracles ands those rarely happen.
    These vile doctrines due nothing more than take the suffering people feel and multiply it…because you make them to blame for suffering that often ends in death.

    I anoint and pray for the sickened I am always amazed at the faithful suffering of those who are not healed but inherit their true birthright.

    They finish well.

    I won’t allow anymore of this heresy here…no, I will not.

  45. Michael says:

    I really, really, hate this stuff.

    This morning I will get up possessed of a heart condition and failing lungs and try to care for an 82 year old mom with dementia and an adult brother with Downs syndrome…while hearing through the day the trials of my beloved godson with autism and anxiety.

    I will repeat this every day until they die…or I do.

    Other loved ones have been laid low with Covid.

    My flock is praying for a young girl who has lived her life suffering from bizarre kinds of tumors and has not had a day of her life without suffering.

    But Chris has seen someone get a leg extension…

    I have victory in Jesus because I got up again in the first place and I’m going to try to live with sacrificial love and hope despite all the suffering…I’m not holy enough to count it all joy, but I will when I get home…

  46. Em Wegemer says:

    “In this world you shall have tribulation…..”

  47. Em Wegemer says:

    I should have added (been there), the joy of the Lord is our strength!

  48. Linn says:

    Michael,

    Thanks for commenting so decisively on Chris’ ill-guided comments. I was about ready to lose my breakfast this morning. Having lived with a lifelong disability (including a short leg), i was about ready to pop a cork and I don’t think what I would have written would have been very nice.

  49. Michael says:

    Linn,

    I had to do a lot of editing…

    We all wish that our prayers for healing and prosperity were answered in the affirmative.
    We are all faithful to ask and keep asking…especially for others.
    We are always grateful when the Lord seems to intercede.
    None of us want to suffer.

    Much sin comes from avoiding any suffering, including nonsense as has been posted here.

    Suffering is a painful grace in itself…but that is for another day.

  50. Chris Long says:

    God bless you all. You consider me deluded. I consider you misguided. There we are. 🙂 For the record, this goes far beyond seeing a leg grow out. I myself would not be here. The doctors had no clue and I was down to skin and bones and allergic to everything and unable to go hardly anywhere. It was only because of faith in God’s Word – the same faith you want to mock and dismiss as being important (despite the fact, I would point out, that the Gospels are FULL of accounts where faith was a VERY important component) – that allowed me to recover and see a turn around. All the hoping and a wishing and a begging God and all the scores of products I tried didn’t do it. Faith in God’s Word did. You can dismiss if you like. I subsequently have personally witnessed numerous people healed of all sorts of things – cancers, inability to hear, etc. But you go ahead and keep your “suffering doctrine” – it’s okay. 🙂 I do not believe faith is the only component and I don’t think people just going around telling others they don’t have faith is helpful. But faith Scripturally is a key component – you would have to do massive spiritual gymnastics to remove it from the Gospels. What really happens is most people just ignore it because they don’t understand it because of their experiences or the experiences of those they love – they lower their theology to match their pain. Which quite bluntly, since we’re all being blunt, I’ve been on this forum long enough to have observed first hand. I don’t believe the Michael of 10 years ago would have responded the way you just did. Not that you would have agreed with me but there was a point – I remember even seeing you write on this forum about how you were wrestling with the fact that the Gospels are full of talk of faith in relation to healing. I’m not out to condemn anyone or make anyone feel like a lesser than. But if I’m going to be deluded because I actually believe the Word that says by Jesus’ stripes I’m healed (which Jesus proved was a context of physical in Matthew 8) then I’ll happily be there. I would much prefer to be deluded believing God and that I can live victorious and full in Him then to adopt a “my lot is just to suffer” mentality. I was dying and definitely would have departed this earth years ago under that mentality. But we all choose.

    I realize none of you know much about me, so let me just say that in addition to my own life I was caregiver to both of my parents for years who both died of cancer and I could easily get in a war-wounds comparing match with most any of you. I understand the pain and the heartache and I understand how it comes across when someone comes along talking about faith when you just want someone to say “I understand – it gets better one day when Jesus makes everything right”. I get it. At the same time, I’ve learned that faith is a powerful force and unbelief counteracts that force. And we live in a world (and churches) that are bathed in unbelief…That’s just how it is. I don’t think faith is the only variable, but it is a key variable. We are called to live by faith as the new creations we are in Jesus. But you start talking like that and people get upset because they feel you are attacking them in telling them they are sick because of their lack of faith. I hate many of the excesses that many of you hate and I’ve seen not right stuff in the name of Christianity and the faith movement. With that said, one would have to be truly delusional to not realize that faith or lack thereof enters into the equation. It ain’t all just up to God – we have a part to play in our lives. And we have God’s great and precious promises – and the indwelling power of the God of the Universe to help us. But He’s a faith God and it’s faith that pleases Him. Faith in His Word. Not doubt. Not unbelief. Not fear. Faith. He never intended for His followers to merely just hobble along in defeat, which is what I’ve been reading here quite a lot of in recent years…We are the victors. But like I said, we all choose the Jesus we want and the theology that makes us comfortable in making sense of our lives. I get it.

    I genuinely wish all here well. There are reasons I don’t comment here often and this is one of them (I knew it would draw ire from the usual people that comment here – I don’t know who Anthony Crisp is but God bless him for coming out of the woodwork to join me in an Amen as that threw me off as an unexpected! lol). While there’s some great stuff here and there are times I near almost or even 100% agree with the Thoughts, it’s generally a pretty pessimistic place and has grown ever more so. I don’t find a message of “just suffer for Jesus and like it” to be either comforting or a message that I see in the NT. I see that several do and that’s fine – to each their own. I used to be there so I get it. Enjoy. 🙂 Josh, regarding your question, I know what’s behind that question and the question itself is flawed. Yes I believe I live forever – I’m actually in eternity right now – seated in victory with Jesus. So do you if you’re a believer in Jesus. Yes there will be a time when I will shed this mortal body for the immortal, whether there’s sickness going on in my body or not. And no, I don’t bat 1000 with any of this stuff. I live in this world of death and destructions that’s bathed in unbelief just like all of you.

    As for proof of healing, for those who look, they will find. The problem is most don’t really want to look – they just want to mock & dismiss so they can avoid any responsibility and ‘comfort’ themselves. I can personally vouch for a number of the testimonies you can spend hours watching (many complete with doctors and proof) available at https://www.awmi.net/video/series/healing-journeys/ I know or have met a number of the people featured there. In fact I’m seeing two of them tonight, including a woman completely healed of grand-mal epilepsy and whose daughter was sent home to die as an infant but just got married a few months ago. Many of those testimonies show the actual doctors reports and several even have the doctors themselves on the testimony. I just saw the physical scan 2 weeks ago of a guy that had a completely dead colon that was completely black/dead on the scans and where the doctors said there was no hope to a scan from 1 year later showing a completely new healthy colon. If one looks, they can find. And as for the leg growing out, the lady I prayed for wasn’t up in front as a show – we were off on the side and I’m not sure anybody was even paying attention to us. I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me. And she was absolutely amazed when her leg grew out and spent several minutes in complete awe and adjusting to a complete new way of feeling as she had had one leg shorter her whole life…I’ve never seen her since and know nothing about her. But feel free to dismiss that in skepticism as trickery or a work of the devil. I would have. I’ve been the skeptic too, remember…

    I will comment no further on any of this and leave the last word to any or all of you out of respect for Michael and this site. If anyone does want to know the Scriptural case for the position I’ve thrown out here, I’ve got a whole book of it which is free on Amazon kindle – feel free to go to my site for the links to read it and rip it to shreds. 🙂 Blessings to all! 🙂

  51. Josh says:

    Again, I guess you’ll just keep living forever? I have a feeling that one day your theology will fail you miserably. You will get sick and die. We all do.

  52. Michael says:

    This is so vile to me, I find it hard to address as I should.

    What it boils down to is that God is not a loving parent who understands our frailties, but a transactionalist who only blesses those who properly bring the holy incantations before Him.

    Blasphemy.

    My life is hard, but my faith is strong…strong enough to keep going knowing that He is with me and this isn’t home.

  53. Josh says:

    My life is awful and my faith nearly destroyed…

    Because I bought into a version of the false gospel pedaled above. Once I came to the point that I realized it didn’t work, I didn’t know what to believe anymore.

  54. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Our prayers are always with you…even as we acknowledge the pain you must be in.

  55. Josh says:

    Thank you Michael. You are a true friend.

  56. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “This is so vile to me, I find it hard to address as I should.”

    There is no way to address it in terms of an authentic Christianity. It is simply words piled upon other words that signify nothing. As Josh said, it is a false gospel…

  57. Chris Long says:

    I said I would give the last word out of respect and I will in that I won’t engage in regards to what I wrote. But when words like “false gospel” start getting thrown around which is a rather serious charge, I just have to point out that there are entire denominations and movements within orthodox Christianity that basically agree or would agree with everything that I wrote. Including AoG, Vineyard, etc. All of which believe in Jesus for salvation and are your brothers and sisters in Jesus. Josh, I hear you and am praying for you – there have sadly been many misrepresentations and portrayals on some of this stuff in times past. Blessings!

  58. Jean says:

    Which apostle, who knew Jesus more intimately than anyone here and learned his doctrine first hand, did not suffer persecution and (accept for possibly one) martyrdom? What does Revelation say the church in theses last days should expect? Even John the Baptizer, who was “more” than a prophet, did not completely understand the way the reign of God breaks in to this evil age.

  59. Officerhoppy says:

    Well, Chris is passionate…and verbose! Got to give him that but a little too idealistic for me.

    I don’t think anyone here is a wimpy Christian. Nor does anyone have a lack of faith. For me, I don’t feel defeated as a believer. But I realize that we live in a fallen world. And Christ over came sin and death. But life is a struggle, yet we praise and glorify God in spite of it all. That, t me is an expression of true belief. Not that we can cast out demons or heal the sick.

    James 5:14 says, “ Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord”

    Sounds to me like a promise. I prayed for a young man in his 20’s who was diagnosed with cancer. He died. What went wrong? Why wasn’t he healed? God said he would heal him if I, an elder prayed. He wasn’t.

    Bottom line is God is sovereign and on track to accomplishing his goal for all creation. And while I don’t always experience him as dynamically as I should, I still believe—as the others do—and in Him I rejoice.

    You might rethink your position. Be fun to sit down and talk face to face about this..but you’re coming off a little harshly on some good people

  60. Officerhoppy says:

    Jean
    And they lived in an honor/shame culture and considered it an honor to suffer for the Lord.

  61. Chris Long says:

    Just a quick note to offer an apology for some of my tone. While I stand by what I believe and believe the conclusions drawn by some here are incorrect, as one that also used to hold basically the same positions that most of you are espousing and where I dismissed people like me as heretical, given that, I should have at least attempted to frame things in a better way rather than just bulldozing through. That’s basically what I attempted to do with my book which is at least somewhat more sensitive to and even directed at the skeptic. But I failed to do that here and Hoppy, you are not wrong in noting that. And yes, you strike me as the kind of guy I could probably sit down with and we could talk through some of this. Blessings!

  62. Officerhoppy says:

    Chris
    Thanks for that.

    It would be helpful for guys like me if you could comment on a statement you made on your website: “ You see, I am convinced that Jesus never intended for His followers to live defeated by anything – whether sin, sickness, or whatever. There is an abundant life that Jesus came to bring us that we are able to walk in, and that is what this book will be exploring.”

    So practically, what does the abundant life you describe look like?

    That would be a good place to start. We may have different views on that.

  63. Jean says:

    “So practically, what does the abundant life you describe look like?”

    “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

    Who would ever deny that Paul lived an abundant life? God promises that to Christians in Psalm 1. But how one defines “abundance” separates theologians of the cross from enthusiasts.

  64. Michael says:

    “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do.”
    (2 Timothy 1:8–12 ESV)

  65. Michael says:

    “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
    (2 Timothy 2:1–3 ESV)

  66. Michael says:

    “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
    (Romans 5:1–5 ESV)

  67. Michael says:

    I could post a couple dozen more…

  68. Jean says:

    “I could post a couple dozen more…”
    Amen! Michael, yes you could.

    I wonder how many have lost faith altogether because what the health and wealth gospel promised turned out to be no gospel at all?

  69. Em Wegemer says:

    Jean, good question! ! !

  70. Chris Long says:

    Hoppy, I am happy to elaborate, however there are 2 issues with doing that here. (1) I can’t make the case here that I took a whole book organized to do (although actually Chapter 1 alone probably answers that specific question). This is a huge subject that has lots of tentacles in a variety of areas (i.e. one of which that came up already in this thread is that of faith which I have 2 chapters alone dedicated to dealing with in my book). (2) Any time I were to post something, because there is such a pre-disposition here against my position, it will just produce a barage of angst (probably for everyone). I think in the interests of the site here and probably Michael’s sanity 🙂 its best I refrain. I will say my book has several hundred Scriptures in it so I am well capable of doing the Scripture posting thing too. For anyone interested, the book is free on Kindle and I do give away physical copies too so if any posters here can’t do Kindle and are interested and will commit to at least read the first 6 chapters, contact me through my site and I can prob make that happen. And since out-of-context Scripture quoting tends to be a pet-peeve of mine, I doubt you’ll find such in my book. In fact I dare (challenge?) anyone to read say the faith chapters 9 & 10 and with a straight face tell me I’m wrong or misunderstanding the Word.

    I will also just make this statement and leave it hanging since suffering is a theme well-loved here. I do not deny suffering in the form of persecution from others – and indeed it is actually a promise of the Word if we’re doing Christianity right (2 Tim 3:12). In fact if we’re NOT suffering on account of Jesus, something is wrong… But what happens with the whole suffering thing is people want to lump all these Scriptures talking about suffering where the context is usually clearly talking about persecution and then apply that to any bad thing we could encounter in this fallen world (sickness, poverty, emotional/mental issues, even sin, etc etc). In other words, it gets broadened out and so to suffer for Jesus means if I get sick well that’s just my cross to bear etc. If I struggle with depression, well we’re called to suffer so… Most all the Scriptures you find in the NT talking of suffering are clearly within the context of persecution. And I absolutely agree that one can suffer wrongly and agree with those Scriptures and the attitude we should have. There are some ‘suffering scriptures’ that one could argue are more general, and even if taken that way they give truths that are legit within that. We do live in a fallen world where things can touch and affect us. Those Scriptures are not in any way at odds with the position those like me hold. In fact the Romans 5 portion Michael posted happens to be one of my favorites….

    Unfortunately I’m fighting an uphill battle (not just here but generally) both because of some nonsense that’s gone on by those in times past with positions the same or in the ballpark of mine and also just bluntly pre-conceived notions surrounding some of this stuff that people have been taught for years leads to dismissals and wrong assumptions right out-of-the-gate, a number of which have already reared up in this thread. And like I said, I get it, cause it used to me. I hated and taught against the so-called “Health, Wealth, & Prosperity Gospel” with some of the same fervor found here…

  71. Duane Arnold says:

    There are so many holes in this argument that one would be tempted to drive a truck through them… A large truck!

    While there are numerous references that I could cite, I actually think this interview with Kate Bowler is both true and insightful…
    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/february-web-only/kate-bowler-on-dying-and-sure-hope.html

  72. josh says:

    A gospel that will ultimately fail 100% of the time is a false gospel.

  73. Em Wegemer says:

    AMEN, JOSH, AMEN

  74. Officerhoppy says:

    Chris
    For your consideration:

    1 Peter 1: 6&7 “You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

    This scripture, and others, seems to contradict some of your beliefs. The glory and honor that God deserves is best displayed and offered when Christ’s followers face difficult times. Paul was in prison and chose to praise god regardless the dyer situation.

    One’s commitment and dedication to an idea is revealed more in difficult times than when someone is healthy and financially secure.

    I’ve had cancer, two hip replacements, I’m in stage 3 kidney failure, and am in constant pain 24/7.

    But I am still happy and content. I have doubts and heated debates with God. But still, I am content. My belief is if I am not content in times of stress and hardship, I’ll never be content with more.

    As David said Ps 42 “ Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5.

    When our world is falling apart, Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5.

    The Psalmist acknowledges here that his soul is downcast and disturbed. Yet the next sentence is a truth that will give a glimmer of hope even in the midst of suffering.

    “I will yet praise Him…”

    When our world is falling apart, we are still able to genuinely praise Him When nothing makes sense, we can still find joy in the Lord and in the gift of salvation.

    Even If we lose everything we, like Job, can still say, “though he slay me, yet I will hope in him?”

    My contentment is found in Christ. No so much in my financial or physical prosperity.

    But that’s me 🙂

  75. Dan from Georgia says:

    I trust the education and wisdom here of several posters who are deeply studied and versed in biblical interpretation. My wife has some health struggles and I will fight anyone who dares to accuse her of being less spiritual or living defeated because of her illnesses. She has DEEP faith and is a prayer warrior. One reason Christians suffer is so that they can empathize with the suffering. I am more than a bit familiar with all sorts of abberant teachings and false gospels, and the reason, Chris, that you don’t have a captive audience here is because some here have studied the Bible for decades and studied your beliefs and found them wanting and, frankly, unrealistic. No, I won’t be reading your booklet or whatever, not because I don’t want to learn or am “afraid of the truth”, but because I know better than to expose myself again to those false teachings.

  76. Officerhoppy says:

    Dan!
    I’ll join that fight with you!

  77. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks OH! I know I came across as gruff there, but this is personal. And living with a wife who deeply loves the Lord and prays for lengthy periods of time and has basically been instumental in keeping me around, THAT is where God is operating!

  78. Michael says:

    Most here are familiar with my health issues.
    I have prayed and been prayed for and I have not been healed, but have been enabled to serve despite my frailties.
    God is good, but we all live with the consequences of the fall.

    My problem with the theology Chris presents isn’t just that it is false, but that it is cruel.

    I have walked with a child from birth to manhood as he has struggled with mental illness and disability…I have walked with people as their children wasted away from cancer…and I’m watching my moms life erased by dementia.

    This is hard enough….but when someone claims God would heal if only you exercised the right formulae…that is despicable and makes God a monster worthy of scorn, but unworthy of worship.

    That God…does not exist…

  79. Dan from Georgia says:

    Absolutely true Michael. That thinking is cruel and that god is not alive. My post was not meant as an attack on Chris as a person and I don’t want him to post a 6-paragraph response as it will not be read. I just can’t stand back anymore and let comments like “living defeated due to sickness” go unchallenged.

    And personally Michael, the hardships you have been through and are still going through are a very real validation of the faith.

  80. Chris Long says:

    Well since I’ve been addressed, let me again just reitterate that much of what has been posted regarding what I shared or believe I believe to be flawed assumptions and declarations. In fairness, I guess to be clear, I should just state outright (which I guess is what Hoppy was probably trying to get me to do before) so here goes:

    – No, Josh, I don’t believe that just because I believe that God is a healing God, healing is provided for in the atonement, and that faith can make a difference, that means that nobody ever “dies”. We’re all going to go sometime whether there is sickness or disease going on in our body or not. We will all shed this mortal for the immortal. I don’t believe sickness HAS to be going on in our body for that to happen, but whether it is or not, either way we’re all going. The view I hold is not affected by this one way or another.
    – Yes, I believe that faith can make a difference. Any reading of the Gospels proves that in spades and specifically my chapters 9 & 10 of my book make this completely irrefutable as it steps through the Scripture on it. I challenge anyone to read those and with a straight face tell me or anyone else that faith doesn’t enter into the equation.
    – No, just because faith is a variable, and I would argue a significant variable, does not mean it is the ONLY variable. My own mother went to be with Jesus the same day she wrote down some faith declarations…
    – Yes, I believe in a good God that is for us being well in every respect. And I won’t apologize for that and I don’t think that’s a false gospel portraying a “cruel God”. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The God I portray is much more consistent, clearly FOR us, and wants us thriving in all respects. The God I promote has no interest in His Church being sick, poor, defeated, depressed, etc. What kind of testimony is THAT to the world?
    – Yes, I find a position where God is just all about mystery and you know never know what he’s going to do and he might afflict you to teach you and you just need to suffer through life MUCH MORE indicative of a “cruel God” then the position I hold. The God of that position is also a much more unknowable, distant God.
    – I’ve been through the ringer on health and would have died several times over, used to hold the position most of you are espousing, spent quite a lot of time studying things out Scripturally before I could intellectually make a change in my position, have been in ministry for over 20 years serving the entire Body of Christ, and yes, I believe the position I have arrived at has the most Scriptural support behind it by far. If anyone really cares to step through that and go through some of those Scriptures, I’ve got a whole book on it and per the above it’s available free (I never wrote it to make money). Most every argument that has been brought up here, including a bunch of Scriptures mentioned including the Job one Hoppy brought up, are dealt with in my book.
    – The position I hold is more or less the same or similar position that several prominent denominations and movements within Christianity hold and what several of you here might consider a “false gospel”, several of those denominations and movements consider as the “full gospel” as opposed to a gospel that is just about going to heaven one day. I attend a thriving church where we regularly see healings and miracles and deliverances on a weekly basis. And it’s not crazy chandelier swinging, mouth-foaming, nonsense some of you are envisioning. I personally have seen numerous healings and lives turned around. In addition to my own life, I’ve personally met numerous other people that medical knowledge had no answers for or that says cannot be healed. This includes stage 4 cancers, autism, epilepsy, etc etc. But of course as has already been proven, that will likely be dismissed as trickery and the devil…
    – No, I don’t really expect to win anyone over here and am not surprised there’s frustration out-of-the-gate to what I shared. I know how fervently I used to fight for the position being fought for here, so I can’t really blame anyone here and nor do I really expect anything different. We all have to “complete the loop” as I call it in some fashion and many let their pain (experiences) dictate the theology they will allow themselves to believe. And since most churches and seminaries hold to a view more in line with the view promoted here, that’s the lens most Christians are taught to view the Word through (just as I was).
    – Yes I understand pain well, and I do have compassion… Part of that compassion for me is to help steer people to the same truths that God revealed to me that made a huge difference in my life.

    So with that said, I wish all here well. 🙂 I think I’ve now probably been as clear as I can anyway and have provided the means for anyone who is curious or wants to know more on a detailed level the means to do that. So I’m a gonna bow out now. 🙂 For reals this time. lol 🙂 And yeah, sorry about my longer posts Dan (not that you’re reading lol) – that’s a flaw of mine – I would never make it on Twitter lol. Love & blessings to all!

  81. Duane Arnold says:

    “Part of that compassion for me is to help steer people to the same truths that God revealed to me that made a huge difference in my life.”

    This is not compassion, it is narcissistic egotism…

  82. Chris Long says:

    Well, and one more I forgot (grr): Yes, I believe that how we deal with hard circumstances can also reflect a degree of faith. Yes, I believe that holding on despite all the hard things can be faith also! Yes, I believe we can face hard situations with peace and joy and in endurance still reach out to Jesus. None of what I believe contradicts that. I do not teach or support ‘magic formulas’ and in fact specifically talk against that in my book. I do not believe God is a magic genie…

  83. Chris Long says:

    And specifically love & blessings to you Duane 🙂

  84. Officerhoppy says:

    Chris
    I’m not attacking you but you said “ The God I portray is much more consistent, clearly FOR us, and wants us thriving in all respects. The God I promote has no interest in His Church being sick, poor, defeated, depressed, etc. What kind of testimony is THAT to the world?”

    I view life differently. I tend to think God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness.

    I think that is part of the sanctification process. But that’s me.

  85. Officerhoppy says:

    Chris
    BTW, though we disagree, we’ll both see things more clearly in eternity.

  86. Officerhoppy says:

    “A Christian is someone who shares the sufferings of God in the world”

    “ ‘It is not a religious act which makes a Christian but participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world”—

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  87. Chris Long says:

    Hoppy, thank you & I understand. I think He’s interested in both – although I wouldn’t probably use the word happiness per se – but I think He delights in us living joyful and abundant lives taking hold of all He died to provide. And while I agree we can learn and grow through hard things, I think its the devil that comes to steal and kill and destroy and not God. I think we mix God & the devil up all the time. I don’t think we HAVE to learn that way, though hopefully we do learn some things going through stuff. One of which that I’ve learned is that I want to avoid as much of it as I can… And the position those like me hold is that there are things in the Word that can help with that and that God’s intention for His people is not to just passively accept everything that comes our way in the world. That’s the crux of the issue and where the ultimate point of disagreement is. But you are right on – there’s no doubt we will all see things much more clearly in eternity. 🙂 On that I think everyone here can probably agree! 🙂 Even Duane & I can agree on that! 🙂 lol Blessings to you brother! Feel free to reach out anytime through the contact on my site.

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