Things I Think…

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73 Responses

  1. Shawn says:

    #10- Now that is something to consider. It seems that for the most part, prayer seems to be a daunting task except when it is not. When it is not, it usually is because I am spontaneously moved to pray for someone I care about even if I never met them. I don’t know if that makes sense but I think what I am trying to say is I find your thought compelling, freeing, and motivating. Thanks.

  2. Michael says:

    Shawn,

    It makes perfect sense…and most of my prayers fit that mold these days…thank you, Shawn.

  3. DavidM says:

    #3 – I couldn’t agree more. None of us can save the world, none can straighten out America. But each of us can do exactly as you suggested. Against the backdrop of unhinged Karens, bold thieves carting out merchandise from department stores, and the increasing road rage confrontations such simple acts of kindness and respect carry a greater impact than ever.

    #6 – While I understand why you propose that idea, I couldn’t disagree more. I cannot see God judging the church by decreasing the numbers, by somehow ensuring that theology is more anemic than ever, and by making the church irrelevant. Those things occur when Christians want the church to be a place of political unity, are lazy theologically, and they become irrelevant through compromising their faith with the culture. If these things are true, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

    #10 – Amen and amen!

  4. Officerhoppy says:

    “ Learn to agree to disagree agreeably”

    A lost art to be sure. It’s not taught in schools, or institutions of higher learning. Our political system—which was built upon compromise—is collapsing because of it.

    One man recently said, “all we’ve accomplished is to raise a generation of selfish children”

    I kind of agree. I

    I went to my nephrologist today and spoke with the PA. She was a very kind and helpful soul. A millennial, But in her attempts to help me get a handle on my kidney issue, she made recommendations followed by this phrase—spoken several times—“you deserve it”. Finally, carefully, and I think, kindly, I said “Thank you for your help, but I come from a generation where we had to work for almost everything; whether an “A” in a subject studied in school, a job, a position on the basketball team, or what ever. And I don’t believe I deserve anything”.

    She cocked her head to the side like the old RCA Victor dog as if hearing something she’d never heard before.

  5. Michael says:

    DavidM,

    I wholly agree that we have no one to blame but ourselves…but I read the letters to the seven churches and see Jesus tossing lamp stands….I’m exploring, not declaring… 🙂

  6. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    I suspect that selfish children are raised by selfish parents…in any case, the center has not held…

  7. Alan says:

    My church peacefully split in 2020 – and fractured – and scattered – and clung together – and had shining moments. 15 months into the lockdown aftermath I walked away from a lifetime of loving pastoral work.

    2 years later my perspective is much better – 46 years of giving myself for the church was not wasted —- full stop.

    I still love the church — all of it!!! and I’d do it again. But I had to stop the daily grind — the bleeding wouldn’t stop until I did.

  8. DavidM says:

    Very good point about the churches of Revelation, Michael.

  9. Officerhoppy says:

    Alan
    I was told (or led to believe) that all that was necessary for a successful, growing church ministry was to preach the word—or fill a hole, or in the words of Nike “Just do it”. So I left my job as a cop—with good pay, seniority, and health insurance, and Pers, to go into full time ministry. After 7 years as an assistant, I launched out to pastor my own church.

    We did a lot of things right. But regardless, I was unable to compete with the “big 3” in my town. We were essentially, a feeder church for the big 3. People would come, stay for a while, but eventually they’d leave for one of these.

    We had a solid core but after 20 years in the same pulpit, I decided to retire from being a lead pastor.

    I determined that I wasn’t a charismatic—preach to felt needs—kind of pastor. I studied and diligently prepped hard for Sunday am. But the revolving door of church was evident.

    So, to be honest, I never want to preach a sermon again. It just doesn’t come naturally for me. I didn’t retire from ministry cause I was burnt out—but I have to be honest and say the revolving door of church attendance wore on me heavily at times

    Regardless, I left the church in a very healthy way. And I enjoyed my time in Salem for the most part. But I am more suited to be an assistant pastor or music director.

  10. Linn says:

    #2 Michael,
    This was such a timely article. We have factions within my church, but we have been instructed-in a very biblical way-to be kind to each other, listen carefully, and try to understand the other side. It has worked pretty well, although we lost some people, but we have gained others. Unlike many churches, our attendance is up with a number of new people. However, there is the underlying tension that creeps out every now and then. I have learned to be quiet when it is not an issue that is of that much importance and to speak carefully if pressed (I am known for being a big lover and helper to the undocumented), but I will admit to clenching my teeth when a church leader sat down beside me at the BBQ lunch on Sunday with his Infowars water bottle. I pray often that I will reflect real New Testament values, a al Phil. 2, and be kind and caring towards others. I am grateful that my church has held together. That in itself is a testimony that the leadership is doing something right.

  11. Michael says:

    Linn,

    If your church has a core of folks like you, your leadership is blessed.

    I’m not sure I’d have the same grace toward the Infowars fan…

  12. Linn says:

    Michael,

    I approach some things with “what’s important right now.” Alex Jones wasn’t part of the conversation-hamburgers and the afternoon baptisms were. At work, I’m similar. Unless I am asked specifically about my beliefs regarding marriage, I stay off topic. But, teachers know I don’t have a rainbow flag in my room and that I treat gay/straight/trans with respect. Jesus really needs to be the topic of our conversations. I find that focus on transcended truths leads to deeper conversations rather than just sparrring over opinions (at least, what others see as opinions).

  13. Em Wegemer says:

    Charisma CAN be very diverting from our Faith

  14. pstrmike says:

    I had coffee with a pastor this morning. He’s a part of a liturgical tradition and is the only pastor in town that I have a common interest with and that I can trust. We both are seeing our completion dates, and it gives us much encouragement to finish well and not leave anything on the table.

  15. Captain Kevin says:

    #2 & 3 – I don’t understand the whole anger with customer service folks. I went to my pharmacy the other day. They know me by name, but I digress. There was a prescription they were trying to get ready for me, but they were struggling to run it through my insurance because their computer system was being wonky. I said that I had some other shopping to do and that I’d come back around. One gal was very apologetic and thanked me for not “going off” on them. I asked, “Why would I do that?” She said that it had just been one of those kind of days. I reassured her that they were all doing a great job and that I always appreciate their kindness and helpfulness. She started to tear up. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but that really illustrated to me how much they have to deal with difficult and sometimes downright mean people.

  16. Alan says:

    Officer,

    I understand what you are saying. The revolving door hurt my wife much more than myself though it was normal. On the whole my churches grew, if slowly. The hurts are unending in many ways as you well know. Your self assessment and understanding seem pretty healthy to me.

    The comments about people carrying church hurts are always interesting for a layered number of reasons. Not least is the fact that many of the people who carry church hurts did their fair share of dishing the same. That is not to deny the injustice, but rarely does the claim just stated get any notice.

    It is impossible to lead anything without hurting people. Likewise it is impossible to lead a church without being hurt by the same. I appreciate your story. I also have seen so many good pastors lay their life down for churches and suffer from the comparisons to other pastors and churches. I admire small church pastors far more than large. I found so many small church pastors that I knew had pure hearts and undefiled motives. Seeing people give themselves simply because of Christ and his call is a beautiful life.

    As for preaching – I will not stop until I must – it is breath in my lungs.

  17. Canceled says:

    I find Alan’s comment intriguing and have seen the same with friends who are pastors. I wonder if this is similar to what has happened to many parishioners (I include myself), who had to walk away from their congregation for their own sanity. I for one, could no longer tolerate politicization of our church, the seeming catering to a vocal minority, and the lack of love shown between brothers and sisters in Christ over differing political opinions. Overall, I’m still very sad about it.

  18. Alan says:

    Canceled

    I erased a comment yesterday about your concerns.
    1- For years I told the church that partisan politics were false salvation narratives and that the Gospel of the Kingdom was neither red nor blue and both of those madnesses were riddled with antichrist. 2020 exposed how poorly that message is received.
    \
    2 – leading a church with endless covid controversies and conspiracies was exhausting and denied our great Gospel work … everyone was either or. No one could say “I don’t really know what is absolutely true but this is what I feel compelled to do for the good of everyone” that kind of talk was not enough. Though many people were above all of that so …

    3 – The racializing of all aspects of history and public life in the wake of the BLM riots polarized everyone and made friends suspicious of each other – our union in Christ was not always evident.

    4 – Trump was a strange ‘champion’ — his complete inability to operate in self control or empathy made him odious – his obvious self-interest in the post election matters proved him to be unworthy of support. The churches were filled with either/or issues concerning politics worsened by him.

    But all this is known… those four things hastened my decision to exit the pastoral office.

    Oh and retirement is definitely in scripture concerning the priesthood so pastors more than anyone should realize there is simply a season to leave… a time for everything under the sun.

    There was a time when I told people that if they were not alive in the 60s they did not understand cultural transformation… the 20s will eclipse and continue that in horrifying ways.

  19. Josh says:

    Alan – I’d like to apologize to you. You were going through struggles I didn’t understand for the last several years. I was also going through a lot, and perhaps came to see you as a symbol for those things that caused my issues. I wasn’t showing you the grace that I so desperately need for myself. Please forgive me, friend.

  20. Alan says:

    Josh

    Thank you —

    We are all unknown to each other in these spaces on some level.

    Grace to you

  21. Em Wegemer says:

    Psalm 138

  22. Michael says:

    This has been a helpful thread.

    Like Cancelled, I am processing grief over all the division that came and didn’t really realize it until recently when when fresh grief uncovered the old at rest.

    This site took a big hit, not just numerically, but in its character and heart.

    Any notion of real community…and it was very real at one time, for a long time…was blown to hell and never returned.

    For three years now, when I sit down to work on the site, it’s like coming home after an evacuation to find that your house burned down too…then you sift through the rubble to find what may have survived and what you may use to rebuild…if you rebuild at all.

    I think I settled on just putting a trailer in the ashes because caring costs too much…and caring is what built it in the first place…

  23. Canceled says:

    I truly appreciate this discussion and insights from you all. It is helpful to me in more ways than you can know.

  24. Michael says:

    We have had to learn different ways of thinking and different ways of relating to other people.

    People who I assumed would be life time friends (if only of the cyber kind) can barely hide their contempt of me because I can’t and won’t hold a political party line .

    Heated debates and discussions have always had a place here, but they resolved without personal animus…but personal animus is now the coin of the realm.

    I have learned to ignore my fondness for some who were once friends in the hopes that it will dissipate in time and I can compete at their level without guilt.

    In “real” life my own and myself have circled the wagons…it is too exhausting to try and and move in a civil direction with people who have been trained to be uncivil for Jesus.

    Better to just close off and get another cat…

  25. Michael says:

    I was wrong in how I dealt with the BLM riots.

    I’ve always been moved by the terrible racial history of this country and was raised in a time and place where even overt racism was acceptable.

    I think I thought we had it coming…

    The reality is that any sort of lawlessness and wanton destruction leads to more of the same…cultures that survive find ways to actually solve issues with a minimum of damage to institutions and people.

    Our institutions are failing, our cities (the heart of a culture) are unlivable and unsafe and so are most of us.

    The beast is wounded and angry and will wreck hell until it dies…and it will die.

  26. Alan says:

    Joshua Mitchell says we must find the heroes who are anonymously carrying on the work of restoration and we must join them. He says it will still take generations. He continuously talks about the collapse of our mediating institutions, family, church, social clubs, fraternal organizations where people are face-to-face. That collapse is the assurance of our demise. He takes his thesis from his learning in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. He is a political theorist with a theological core.

    We cannot give up. We must go on. Like the lepers who found the treasures of the city our options are laced with danger but we must do right. I Ki 7

  27. Michael says:

    Alan,

    I hear you and I may even agree…but I think it requires a complete severing of the connection between the church and the beast that is eating us…and a restoration of the peculiar community…

  28. Em Wegemer says:

    Psalm 138 was my morning reading…. seemed appropriate…..

  29. Alan says:

    Michael,

    That beast message is the core for me … I gave up on it a couple years ago when I could not get the traction I was hoping. But yes. I do wonder if we can peel ourselves apart from it.

    Someone has to try… can we become separatists and remain engaged in real world affairs — can we be in but not of the world as Christ said?

    I guess it is only possible if we can believe

  30. Michael says:

    Alan,

    The only traction I’ve received here was from the vehicles that ran me over…

    Yes, it’s possible…if we focus on speaking on issues biblically without regard to which party is behind them and are clear that neither party represents Christ.

    More importantly, inside our own communities our practices have to line up with the witness of Jesus and the apostles.

    I think I have another word on this, but it may just be the Percocet…we will remain ineffective until we learn to love our enemies and use the power of prayer…

  31. Michael says:

    Separation is also the only remedy I see for the maddening and bizarre fact that Christians are so prone to embracing grifters, opportunists, and dunces…which describes most of the leadership of both parties.

  32. Alan says:

    @11:50 “biblically without regard to which party is behind them…” and the Percocet

    We can make a start.

  33. Michael says:

    As long as I’m king for a day…

    We have to educate people theologically….especially about the kingdom.
    We have to start from scratch with eschatology…

  34. Josh says:

    I like this conversation. Almost exciting…for the first time in 7 years.

    Percocet makes me vomit. Could we sub hydrocodone, or maybe just strong drink?

  35. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Hydrocodone makes me nauseous…nothing is working well, so I may quit and try drinking again… 🙂

    This thread is giving me a little light and hope as well…

  36. Dan from Georgia says:

    Interesting and hopeful/encouraging exchange here today y’all (guys and gal)!

    Micheal, there are many times I wanted to jump off this platform, but those elements that made me want to do that are no longer here, thankfully. I’ve been lurking for the most part in the background, but I still visit here EVERY DAY!

    I developed a migraine heading and felt disoriented at work and then had to down some advil. Soon I will have my jaw drilled into which will probably cause me to take something harder (i.e., prescription). I’ve taken Vicodin.

  37. Dan from Georgia says:

    heading = headache…grrrrr

  38. pstrmike says:

    Ecc 9:14-16
    “There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man.
    Then I said:

    ‘Wisdom is better than strength.
    Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised,
    And his words are not heard.’”

  39. Em Wegemer says:

    My 4 grandsons sang this (wearing their gran dad’s neckties) at Mt. Tahoma before the grandpa was interred. If it works….
    m.youtube/watch?y=YGAHOy.Dr.Y

  40. Michael says:

    I confess that all the political strife made me deaf…I couldn’t hear anything from people who backed Trump and as the right became more extreme I was was not just deafened…but blinded to the concerns that created a country willing to embrace him.

    It took my godson asking me questions I could not answer to make me see and hear again.

    Why was it ok to let one group burn down cities…how is that ever ok?
    Did I really think it was ok that men wearing dresses were in the girls bathroom?
    Did I really think it was ok that men were stealing athletic victories from women?
    Did I think it was ok that own our little piece of heaven was no longer safe?
    I also realized that while I was raised in racism…he wasn’t. Exactly the opposite, in fact. Why was he considered a racist just because he was white?

    The man who he had grown up hearing all manner of stories about how he fought for right… and had taught him right from wrong…didn’t care about the wrong in front of him. It didn’t add up.

    I had chosen which wrongs offended me and ignored other wrongs because of who spoke to them.

    I was a hypocrite.

    I’m in the process of repenting…

  41. Michael says:

    Dan,

    TMJ surgery?

    You will be taking something stronger…and we’ll be praying.

  42. Michael says:

    pstrmike,

    There’s a whole sermon right there…

  43. Michael says:

    Em,

    The link isn’t working…

  44. Dan from Georgia says:

    Micheal…I had to have a tooth pulled that had several root canals done to it, and kept getting infected, so I am having an implant put in…basically a fake tooth that looks like a threaded bolt.

    And thank you for the prayers!

  45. Em Wegemer says:

    Michael, it is a YouTube of the Redeemed Quartet singing Old Rugged Cross

    BTW
    Sodom and Gomorrah = Colorado and Washington states – if you have children, move ASAP

  46. Michael says:

    Dan,

    I pray you get relief from all that ails you…I’ve thought about implants, but I made the mistake of watching a video about how they are installed… 🙂

  47. Captain Kevin says:

    Don’t really know what I can add, but dang, this is a good thread!

  48. Michael says:

    Em,

    I live in Oregon which is just as strange as Washington and Colorado…damned if I will move and leave it to those who don’t love it…

  49. Michael says:

    CK,

    I hope it provokes thought and reflection…I have a sneaking hunch I will regret being so open, but we’ll see…

  50. Michael says:

    ‘For years I told the church that partisan politics were false salvation narratives and that the Gospel of the Kingdom was neither red nor blue and both of those madnesses were riddled with antichrist. ”

    I may change our banner to this…thank you, Alan…

  51. Officerhoppy says:

    Oxy? Vicodin? I can’t get my Dr. To prescribe either of these meds for pain. The best he’ll do is prescribe Tramadol which is only slightly better than Tylenol.

  52. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    My doc has made it clear that this is for the short term only.
    Just got an appointment to try acupuncture tomorrow…

  53. Tim says:

    Michael @ 9:36, “Any notion of real community…and it was very real at one time, for a long time…was blown to hell and never returned.

    For three years now, when I sit down to work on the site, it’s like coming home after an evacuation to find that your house burned down too…then you sift through the rubble to find what may have survived and what you may use to rebuild…if you rebuild at all.”
    —-

    That hit home…harder than I expected. At one time, there was *real* community here. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I read your post.

    I’ve recently gone through the toughest season I’ve ever experienced in 18+ years of ministry. And at times, it seems like there will always be ripple-effects. Things are different because of it. I am different because of it. Hopefully, the difference is a good thing…perhaps more focused on grace and less tolerant of demands.

    Sometimes, what comes out of the ashes can be beautiful. At least, that is the hope to which I’m holding.

  54. Michael says:

    Tim,

    Though most of us had never met in “real” life, there was a real concern and care for each other…you were an esteemed part of that community and it would have been here for you in difficult times.

    It grieves me that we no longer have that to offer.

    My prayer is that you and yours will rise out of the ashes of the difficulties you’ve faced…it takes time to rebuild.

    As always, good to see you again.

  55. Tim says:

    Thanks, Michael.

    I’m praying for you with your pain…may God grant you relief tonight.

  56. pstrmike says:

    Hi Tim! Sorry to hear about you going through such a difficult season, but good to read your post here.

  57. Michael says:

    Thanks, Tim…you always were one of the “good guys’…

  58. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    I did acupuncture. Didn’t have a whole lot of relief but others swear by it. Let me know if it works for you

  59. Pineapple Head says:

    Yeah, pastoring through COVID was painful. It was tough to field all the doubt, suspicion, fear, and disunity. People moving from church to church trying to find one that aligned with their COVID theology. Even a year after things got back to somewhat normal, visitors would approach me after service and ask how we handled COVID. No questions about theology or church philosophy. They wanted to decide if they could land in our church based on whether we were too cautious or too strident during the pandemic. To this day when I hear people start talking about COVID stuff, I get anxious…

  60. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    If I can take the pain down 50% I can do what I need to do…it’s kind of a “Hail Mary”…I’ll let you know…

  61. Michael says:

    PH,

    I’m honestly thankful I wasn’t in the position some of you were in.
    I would have told everyone to go to hell and went home…

  62. pslady says:

    #3…God sees the kind little everyday things & they can be the most important to him!
    #8…Praying for you Michael!

  63. pstrmike says:

    “I would have told everyone to go to hell and went home…”

    LoL…. I had the opposite happen to me…..

  64. Michael says:

    Thanks, pslady!

  65. Alan says:

    Michael

    @12:43 powerful

    We’ve all grown deaf to those we judge –
    It makes our partisanship seem righteous
    But those narratives are truly antichrist
    We all must repent — I am and have been seeking to find repentance.

    The candlestick must shine

  66. Em Wegemer says:

    Thank you Michael. These young men remind me of my grandsons singing at Doug’s funeral.
    P.S. He got a 21 gun salute. 😇

  67. Em Wegemer says:

    Alan – AMEN

  68. Michael says:

    Alan,

    I’ll say the amen…

  69. jtk says:

    praying for you Michael…
    ~Kirk

  70. jtk says:

    Alan,
    “ But I had to stop the daily grind — the bleeding wouldn’t stop until I did.”

    I’d love to know more sometime, if and when you’d be up for it….

    ~Kirk

  71. Michael says:

    jtk,

    Thanks, my friend…

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