Things I Think…

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122 Responses

  1. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    “ Based on biblical standards I can no more “affirm” the abuse in Christian homes and the pre-marital and extra-marital sex that is now commonplace among believers than I can the alphabet agenda”

    Near the end of my 30 plus years of full time ministry, I did fewer and fewer wedding because nearly all couples who asked to to officiate their ceremony were cohabitating.

    My decision was based on the belief that with Christ, marriage is difficult. It’s nearly impossible without him. I explain, it’s easy to get married but harder to stay married and even harder to stay happily married.

    If a couple compromises on the scriptures and the leading of the HS prior to getting married, then they’ve set a dangerous precedent

    I don’t hate anyone either. I may disagree with another individual but that doesn’t equate to hate.

    As Joshua said, “choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the lord” and may I add—with is benefits and challenges

  2. Kevin H says:

    “For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” – C.S. Lewis

    Interesting that the moniker “Pride” was settled upon as self-identification.

    Also interesting how the church has many times historically and even sometimes still today demonstrated their own self-righteous pride in the ways they have opposed and condemned the ways and people who would become known as “Pride”.

  3. Josh says:

    I don’t have the moral standing to call anyone out for their sin.

    I’m not sure I understand what sin is.

    If I believe the ultimate answer is all up to the power of God, then I can pray and treat the offending person the same way Jesus treated me. Perhaps, experiencing His kindness through my actions will open them up to following Him. Picket lines and boycotts haven’t helped so much that I can see.

  4. Captain Kevin says:

    A-100%-MEN!!

  5. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    It’s rare these days to have couples who aren’t co-habitating before marriage…I think it a better choice to marry them then to allow them to go on as they are…I’m glad I don’t do weddings at all anymore…

  6. Captain Kevin says:

    “ If I believe the ultimate answer is all up to the power of God, then I can pray and treat the offending person the same way Jesus treated me.”

    Yes!!

  7. Michael says:

    KevinH,

    Amen…

  8. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I know what sin is as it’s always looking for an opportunity to ensnare me and is often successful.

    We have 2000 years of teaching on biblical morality that is pretty consistent in these areas.

    Yes, we should treat each other as we have been treated by Christ…but I have no issue with those who choose not to support businesses that oppose the faith.

    It doesn’t make a dent, but maybe it means something to the person.

  9. Josh says:

    “It doesn’t make a dent”

    Which is my problem. We are busy trying to make a dent in the culture war, but less concerned about loving others the way Jesus loved us. I think (and its just a hypothesis, because I’ve never seen it) that maybe we could make a dent that way.

  10. Michael says:

    Josh,

    “I think (and its just a hypothesis, because I’ve never seen it) that maybe we could make a dent that way.”

    I agree wholeheartedly on this point…

  11. Kevin H says:

    Personally choosing not to patronize a store or business because they violate values that are important to you is not a problem.

    Spending significant time making an issue of those businesses you have a problem with or organizing boycotts of them or constantly trying to find out every business you suspect may be doing something you disagree with is time that could and probably should be spent in much better ways.

  12. Michael says:

    “Spending significant time making an issue of those businesses you have a problem with or organizing boycotts of them or constantly trying to find out every business you suspect may be doing something you disagree with is time that could and probably should be spent in much better ways.”

    Agreed…it’s another way of using carnal methods to fight a spiritual war…and will always end in failure…

  13. Linn says:

    When it comes to Christians boycotting businesses, I want them to apply the same standards to the sports world as they do to Target (I am thinking of all the liquor ads that are seen by so many young people). Can you hear the crickets chirping?

    As to Pride month, I ignore it as much as possible.

  14. Officerhoppy says:

    Josh
    I need some clarification on your statement regarding treating others as Jesus treated us. Not arguing or challenging you.

    What do you mean by that? How did Jesus love? When folks refer to that, it’s almost an idealistic idea they have about him (I don’t put you in that category).

    To me, to love like Jesus means we can’t be selective in how we treat people. I think he taught us to treat every human being with dignity and respect, because every person is a special creation, designed in the image of God (1 John 2:9–10; 4:20–21).

    We must work to rid our hearts and culture of racial prejudice, socio-economic snobbery, and religious superiority. None of that belongs in the life of someone who wants to love like Jesus loves.

    But I think it is err to equate love with complete acceptance of everything someone does.

    Jesus didn’t tolerate sin, deception, or false followers. He was very direct with the Pharisees, religious leaders, and those who claimed to love Him but loved their lives more.

    While still loving them, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, calling them “Hypocrites!” and “Blind fools!” (Matthew 23:13, 16).

    He challenged the religious leaders with the warning, “Not all who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. Only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

    And to the half-hearted believer he said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 9:62).

    So, can you tell me what you mean by your statement? I totally appreciate your humility in recognizing your own failures and how Christ dealt with you. As someone said once! “I wish I had a dollar for every time jesus backed into my tent with a blanket”.

    Me too!

  15. Michael says:

    Linn,

    I’m a huge sports fan…where does it say that liquor is a sin in the Scriptures?

  16. prodinov says:

    Michael, from those who love you, you are a needed voice. Thank you for your words. They are tough but true.

  17. Michael says:

    prodinov,

    Thank you, my friend!

  18. filistine says:

    As owners of a catering business, we had to make a decision regarding serving a narrow range of people or serve anyone. We did not want to characterize our business as a Christian business (what is that anyway?) and make ourselves a target for the crusade of someone, nor did we want to lose the right to opt out of certain jobs if the situation was not workable. We have catered gay weddings, not a lot, but it usually raises the ire of some who think we ought to refuse. On the other hand, if one is operating their business in the public square, she/he best be prepared to be wise as serpents & harmless as doves. It’s tough out there. I won’t say we have a fool-proof system or approach, but we’ve navigated some potentially rough waters successfully so far.

  19. Michael says:

    fil,

    There are layers of complexity to every area of this discussion that refuse binary thinking.

    You’re in business to make money and gay money spends the same as straight…serving is not necessarily affirming…

  20. filistine says:

    Binary thinking precludes wisdom and insists on blind obedience.

    Yes, the money spends the same and yes, we exist to turn a profit. There are circumstances that simply are unworkable and factors that are clearly apparent to both parties have provided us an off-ramp. We cannot make it about their practices or behaviors without opening ourselves up to attack, verbal and legal.

  21. Michael says:

    fil,

    I’m sure you’ve dealt with potential clients who were straight, but had behaviors so odious that you would rather not serve them.

    I think that as business people you’re walking in the light God gives you…

  22. Josh says:

    Hoppy – Its a long answer, but I’ll start with a short answer and you can ask clarifying questions if needed.

    I am trying a hermeneutic that reads everything through the prodigal son story. When I say “the way Jesus treats us”, I may mean something like “the way the father treated the prodigal son”.

    Fil – I think Jesus’ social interactions, and the charges they brought against Him, say that you have chosen the right path.

  23. filistine says:

    Sadly, some of the hardest clients have been believers. Some believers have been a joy to work with as well–it is a range very similar to those who do not claim the faith.

  24. filistine says:

    For the longest time, we were busy enough simply catering for the many weddings at the mega church we attended. When we left, the work dried up overnight. It became a necessity to adapt and adjust which was aided by the growth and health that came with our departure.

  25. Michael says:

    fil,

    In my experience, if there is a dove on the business card, it’s a warning sign…

  26. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    “ In my experience, if there is a dove on the business card, it’s a warning sign…”

    I had to laugh out loud at that one!

  27. filistine says:

    When we owned our brick and mortar cafe, it was the folks who wanted us to place Christian literature, state we put “Christ in Christmas”, make space for bible studies and prayer groups, put up a gifted wooden cross in the seating area, etc., all of which we refused. They were genuinely taken aback by our response and our explanation didn’t sit well with them either. Nothing against those business which do, but it was against our plan to be a place where all felt welcome.

    Yes, the fish and dove put me on wary mode. 🙂

  28. Michael says:

    fil,

    I miss that brick and mortar cafe…one of the few places I felt comfortable, mainly due to the presence of your wife…

  29. Steven says:

    Michael,

    For what it’s worth, my thoughts and feelings on all these points echo yours 100%.

    (Now to try to catch up on all the follow-up posts/replies. )

  30. Michael says:

    Steven,

    Thank you…there’s some good stuff in the comments…

  31. Officerhoppy says:

    Fil
    I don’t know that as a Christian business owner that they should “lead” with the “we are Christians” brand.

    But decisions must be made in light of our own convictions as guided by the HS and scripture

  32. Michael says:

    I wish I was kidding…but in my life the fish and the dove are red flags.

    My appliance guy has neither…but his behavior and service shouted it out.

  33. filistine says:

    the clergy discount inquiry always irked me…my wife was much better than me at navigating that one. We gave a discount of 10% if you rode your bike. 🙂

  34. Josh says:

    “Nothing against those business which do, but it was against our plan to be a place where all felt welcome.”

    I would love to find a church where that applied.

  35. Pineapple Head says:

    I think a church has to be like somewhat like a human body.

    -The muscles keep the body it flexible.
    -The skeleton gives the body stability
    -The nervous system keeps the body sensitive
    -The brain keeps the body rational

    We live in times of extremes and imbalance…and the effects are disastrous.

  36. Muff Potter says:

    Why are Evangelicals so obsessed with human sexuality?

  37. Linn says:

    Michael,

    I don’t have issues with alcohol itself, but the misuse of it. There are Christian groups that really condemn alcohol use, R-rated films, and a host of other issues but they don’t deal with it if it interferes with something they enjoy (like sports), but they won’t have any trouble condemning it from the pulpit.

    However the vitriol against LGBTQ folks is all-consuming and seems to be the main focus of the Christian world right now. But I sometimes wonder what would happen if we did welcome these folks into our churches and actually try to dialog with them.

  38. Muff Potter says:

    Linn wrote:
    “However the vitriol against LGBTQ folks is all-consuming and seems to be the main focus of the Christian world right now. But I sometimes wonder what would happen if we did welcome these folks into our churches and actually try to dialog with them.”

    I’m with you Linn…

  39. Alan says:

    Why are evangelicals so obsessed with human sexuality?

    Because 1 of 3 women is sexually abused
    1 of three has had an abortion. Because the education system is sexualizing children. Because gender affirming care means gender bending children with or without parental consent. Because Only Fans has mainstreamed porn into college girls turning them into sex workers. Because our children have imbibed hard core porn before they have their first kiss. Because adultery is destroying marriage. Because sex abuse has swallowed our religious systems. Because easy sex has made marriage an unappealing choice for men. Because abortion exceeds birth rates among some people groups. Because birth rates are collapsing in the separating of sex from procreation.

    Why are we obsessed with what the entire culture is obsessed with?

    Maybe because we love people and cannot get through a day without the damnable effects of the sexual revolution filling out calendars with victims.

    Please ask a serious question that makes some similitude of sense.

  40. UnCCed says:

    Waaay back before the pride movement beat others into submission, in some cases a reasonable response by the way, therapists reported alarmingly similar trends in the backgrounds of many reporting as gay.
    I’ve always felt sad and a missed opportunity those issues where never discussed, or come to think of it the Church’s wholesale abandonment of any utility of psychology.
    I know how it’s been abused, but EVERYONE has baggage and a little understanding and validation goes a long way, especially for those who claims they have no baggage.
    Imagine in the 60s if the Church not only condemned non-Biblical family norms, but rushed to the aid of those who suffered through it.
    I can assure you Pappa and His angles never turned from them and never stops loving them just as much as you or your favorite theologian.
    Leaving the 99 for the 1, and rejoicing over the prodigal…

  41. Josh says:

    “However the vitriol against LGBTQ folks is all-consuming and seems to be the main focus of the Christian world right now. But I sometimes wonder what would happen if we did welcome these folks into our churches and actually try to dialog with them.”

    Bingo

  42. Josh says:

    “Because sex abuse has swallowed our religious systems. ”

    To me, that cancels out the rest.

  43. Michael says:

    I’m glad Alan brought up the Only fans phenomena…I’ve been shocked at the number of women who I followed on social media for myriad (non sexual) reasons who all of a sudden announce they have joined up with that site and are now offering themselves to the world for a small subscription fee.

    Many make a lot of money quickly…but I wonder at what cost?

    There is no concept of shame in this current culture…

  44. Josh says:

    It does seem that the collective morality has swung rapidly. Probably started around birth control, and then the internet poured jet fuel on that fire.

    However, the same perversions and appetites have always existed, they just have more opportunity to express themselves now.

  45. Michael says:

    Woke up to the news that Russia had destroyed a dam and much pain and destruction of lives will follow.
    Then I read the comments here.

    It reminded me again that the greatest difference in thinking that I see today is the ignorance of evil.

    If I were in my right mind, I would write about this until people wanted to do me evil as well.

    Kindness is indeed a precious virtue…but it will often be rewarded with pure evil despite all good intentions.

  46. Josh says:

    I don’t get your point.

  47. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I really should write a separate post, but can’t at the moment.

    I have noted over the years that people on the liberal/progressive political spectrum and many who have deconstructed from fundamentalist sects no longer understand the the truth that all people are not good and that there is a malevolent presence among us… working among us….set to destroy all that God calls good.

    If we do not recognize this, it will consume us…and in many ways has already.

  48. Alan says:

    Ah Josh sees it as an accounting ledger. Sorry I just see casualties and ruined dreams. Bad religious leaders are intrinsically present. The beast of the land aka false prophets are always present. That cannot keep us from our charge to care for the flock. Never justify evil by those who do it. Bad shepherds do not nullify good ones.

    Read Ignatius — the first post apostolic churches were riddled with bad actors that had to be overcome. Don’t burn down the church because rats are in the basement. Or even the pulpit.

  49. Josh says:

    When the SBC goes ape over homosexuality, or trans people, or whatever…it means absolutely nothing because 1200 of their pastors were exposed as sex criminals and they did very little. The loud hypocrisy, shockingly, does not help. It actually pushes people ion the opposite direction.

    Call me crazy, but I do believe if we could live by the standards we set for others it would actually make a difference.

  50. Linn says:

    Michael
    I agree, but not always. When I read the NT narratives, there is plenty of evil, but there are also a Simon of Cyrene, the Philippian jailer binding up Paul and Silas’ wounds, Lydia opening up her home, all of the fringe believers in Christ who eventually came out of the woodwork (Gamaliel, Joseph of Aramathea, Nicodemus). I’m not stupid about evil in the world, but when I meet individuals, I know my first responsibility is to be a living testament of the good news of the Gospel. It has led to some interesting friendships and the occasional conversion (for which I take no credit). We don’t know what or when the Spirit may be working in a heart, but we can be ready to demonstrate the love of Christ.

    I’ve lived and worked in some really tough places, but I’ve always been able to share a witness of the love of Christ. Sometimes I’ve suffered at the hands of evil people (some in my own family), but then I pray for God to accomplish his purposes through those tough circumstances.

    In one neighborhood where I taught preschool in a converted garage for a non-profit, I was in a gang-infested, often violent (weekend murders not uncommon) place, but my little piece of turf was safe. One afternoon I left the garage to cross the street to go over to the elementary school where I tutored. A souped up car full of homies decked out in their colors stopped and signaled to me to cross, waving. They all had a sibling or cousin in my program!

    I think we sometime underestimate what God is doing in our midst.

  51. filistine says:

    “Don’t burn down the church because rats are in the basement. Or even the pulpit.”

    That was a helpful piece of wisdom for me. Thanks. In fact, this has been a really healthy thread for me. Thanks to all.

  52. Michael says:

    Josh,

    There is no doubt that evangelicalism has forfeited it’s moral authority and influence.
    I said this would happen decades ago if we did not change course…and here we are.

    Still, the only hope is Jesus and Jesus primarily works through his church…and we have to repent and re-establish our place as a prophetic voice to the world and a safe space to be for those who hear.

  53. Michael says:

    fil,

    That’s good news for me to hear…bless you my friend.

  54. Josh says:

    “Still, the only hope is Jesus and Jesus primarily works through his church” Not sure what this really means, BUT…

    “and we have to repent and re-establish our place as a prophetic voice to the world and a safe space to be for those who hear.”

    Much like when someone has to take a break from ministry for moral reasons, there needs to be a substantial gap between the repentance and the restoration to ministry. i completely agree with what you’ve prescribed here, but there probably needs to be a substantial period of silence in order for people to see that our repentance is real.

  55. Duane Arnold says:

    I am deeply conflicted about this subject. This is owing to the fact that I have, and have had, numerous friends in the gay community throughout the years. That being said, I have also watched as the LGBTQ agenda has literally destroyed some denominations including, it must be said, my own Episcopal Church. From my observation, this has become a political issue rather than a moral issue. That being said, the issue of abuse within the church, Roman Catholic, evangelical, and others, seems to have become political rather than moral as well. Morality is seldom addressed as we would have to talk about other issues such as divorce, extramarital sex, and premarital sex. We would also have to talk about more than sexual abuse. We would also have to look at the place of women within the church and within society. This is something that many are unwilling to do.

    I wish the whole issue would go away, but that is not going to happen. We cannot legislate morality. That is true of society at large as well as the smaller society of the church.

    There used to be something known as Moral Theology. This addressed the roots and consequences of our actions, as well as our inaction. Unfortunately, we no longer believe in consequences. We believe in the moment… and it is destroying us.

  56. Linn says:

    Duane,

    I think if churches went back to actually teaching the fundamentals of Christian sexual morality, it would really help. Actually, some churches still (mine does-the Sunday School refrain is one man/one woman for life..and that’s what we teach). We can’t make people not act out sexually, but we possibly we can bring it back to the fact that sex, any kind of sex, outside of marriage is not God’s plan. Our society’s dysfunction validates that, by the way.

    We would need to be very loving towards people who have made mistakes and admit to our own, as well. But, I think a start would be better than ignoring the damage that is occurring in the church itself, not just in society as a whole.

    The pastor of the very liberal Protestant church I grew up in during the 70s in San Francisco was gay. However, it was a big “secret”, although everybody knew. We lost a lot of people and then he left to go back to New York City where he had attended divinity school. Just out of curiosity, I did an online search and found an article about him in the New York Times. He was one of the first to found a hospice for AIDS patients in the early 80s. He died of AIDS in 1984, in the same hospice he founded. All that to say that sexual disorientation has been around for years, but the church as a whole has tried to hide it, ignore it, or just not address it. Maybe it’s time to start, with a great deal of love and compassion, but also insistence that God’s way is the right way. I kind of see the Apostle Paul doing something like that (1 and 2 Corinthians).

  57. Officerhoppy says:

    While homosexual acts and same sex attraction has been around for centuries, it was always something done quietly and behind closed doors. Now proponents of that activity are bringing it out in the open as normative behavior.

    They are forcing us to accept it as moral with not chance for dissent.

    That’s the issue

    My guess is this issue along with abortion decisions being given to the states will end up in a divided nation and even civil war.

  58. The New Victor says:

    My SV company communicated a Pew Poll that 20% of millenials and Gen-Z Identified as non heterosexual. If true, that’s the end of the human species. Maybe we’re kicking against the goads of social evolution? Whatever it is, it evolved quickly.

  59. alan says:

    Bad actors in our world do not produce foundation to silence ourselves about speaking the truth lovingly. We are called to holiness and to eschew idolatry and immorality. Hurt christians expressing their hatred of immorality in the church is not sufficient ground to be silent.

    The Holy Spirit is well able to bring sinners to conviction in the midst of an unholy church. When the Spirit moves upon a soul they do not justify their evil by those around them. The Spirit makes us without excuse before our God.

  60. Michael says:

    Alan,

    I won’t dispute what you’ve written…I will only say that one cannot expect the power and presence of God to be at work in a church where idolatry and abuse go on without repentance.

    I do not understand why this is not obvious…

  61. Nonnie says:

    The women are doing the “Only Fans” but WHO is paying for it? Who are the men (I’m guessing mostly men) robbing their children and family of funds to pay for this exploitation and their perverted gratification? Who are these men? I remember when I was a child watching some old black and white movie about some men in a lifeboat and talking about the women they “had” and one of the men said something like, “Who’s sister or daughter was that you are talking about?” Do the men who pay for Only Fans understand that it could be their precious little girl in 10 or 15 years being exploited? Shame on them!

  62. Michael says:

    Nonnie,

    I would agree….but if you say anything online about this, you get accosted for staining the dignity of “sex workers”…the newest protected identity…

  63. Nonnie says:

    Well, I said it online and I stand by it. Married men who pay women to flaunt their naked bodies are abusers and users, and exploiting women. They are cheating on their wives, they are robbing their families of funds and it is wrong. Unmarried men are abusing and using women and perverting their minds as to how they view women. I pity any woman that gets in a relationship with them.
    Anita Saunders

  64. Michael says:

    Nonnie,

    I don’t disagree with you…the problem is that we live in an age where many women do….

  65. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    “ I will only say that one cannot expect the power and presence of God to be at work in a church where idolatry and abuse go on without repentance.”

    I think most ministries shove every err and fault under the grace of God and his “overlooking” love rather the responsibility and accountability of believers.

    Slotting everything under grace is easier to deal with than accountability

  66. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    The Scriptures are incredibly consistent about the fact that God withdraws His power and presence from His people when they live in sin…especially unrepentant idolatry.

    This isn’t my idea…it’s in the book from Genesis to Revelation…and my frustration with the unwillingness of us to deal with it is extreme…

  67. Josh says:

    Pat Robinson died. He leaves behind $100 million.

    He was one of our better public examples over the last 50 years. Seriously. Think about that.

    The rules, values, morals, whatever we’ve beaten ourselves over the head with our entire have failed. As a people, we aren’t becoming more like Christ.

    The morals that we grieve have been lost, were all lost while Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, etc held great sway over the American public.

    It may be time for a different strategy.

  68. Josh says:

    So to answer Hoppy’s comment:
    “Slotting everything under grace is easier to deal with than accountability”

    Let’s give it a try! Maybe God’s grace is bigger than we could ever imagine. Maybe He is better than we could even imagine. This way has failed. Let’s test Him and see.

  69. Josh, I too appreciate a grace-drenched culture, but not a culture that is only marked by grace.
    Grace and truth. That’s the Jesus model.

  70. Michael says:

    Josh,

    You misunderstood Officerhoppy.

    It’s been all grace for leadership no matter how grievous the sin.
    They get “grace” without accountability…and it doesn’t work.

  71. Officerhoppy says:

    Josh
    People often times plant seed# to the flesh on Saturday night and go to church on Sunday and pray for crop failure

    In other word# I can and will act graciously and forgivingly to a brother who is overtaken in a fault (Gatatians 6) or a brother or sister who wanders from the truth (James 6). There is also a time, to deliver someone to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (Cor. 5) but also a time to receive that individual back.

    I guess my point is, there is lots of room for grace. The Bible calls us to that. But there is also cause and effect. I can’t do anything about that except go thru it with them.

    I dunno Josh. Maybe your experience is different but I find most (not all) Christians fairly kind and willing to help.

    Like any thing, there are “a few bad apples”.

    Thanks for engaging.

  72. Josh says:

    “Kind and willing to help”? Probably, but no more than the non-Christians I know. Kind of beside the point. Its more like we are reaching for the wrong thing. Look at the evidence of how Good Ole American Christianity has worked its way out in our culture. I think its time for a complete rethingking.

  73. If it’s rethinking American Christianity, I’m all for it.

    One of the chapters in Pete Scazzero’s book EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY DISCIPLESHIP is called “Follow the Crucified, Not the Americanized Jesus.” The whole book is essentially a repudiation of so much of what makes up American Christianity. But what Pete prescribes is definitely challenging. It’s a life marked by humility, self-awareness, love, honesty and willingness to be a fully integrated (spiritually, emotionally, relationally, intellectually, even physically) follower of Jesus. It’s doing hard inward work to bring about lasting and impactful transformation.

    Maybe the issue for why our impact is at so minimal (or worse, damaging) is because we as Christians are so unformed by Jesus, His Spirit, and the Scriptures.

  74. Josh says:

    I like what you are saying there PH.

    “because we as Christians are so unformed by Jesus, His Spirit, and the Scriptures.”

    But why? Because we haven’t tried hard enough?

  75. I’d say because we haven’t submitted ourselves enough.

  76. Josh says:

    Doesn’t it seem to just keep setting us up for another hoop to jump through? What if God just accepts us as we are.?

  77. Josh says:

    What if it was never about how much you submitted
    or how holy you are
    or how much scripture you memorize
    or if you understand all the right doctrines?

  78. We raised a special needs son. It was a journey of acceptance of who he is, coupled with determination for him to experience the most out of his life. Which meant work. A lot of work!!!

    Aaron is totally loved for who he is (one of the best gifts God ever gave me), but we lovingly pushed him all along the way. And the result is that he is a functioning, contributing member of society.

    Sadly, along the way of his growing up there were some people (teachers, co-workers, people at church) who only felt pity for my son and felt the best thing to do was never challenge him, feed him crap, and let him do whatever he wanted. I think those people thought they were loving toward my son, but they were actually keeping him from his potential.

    I guess my thinking is that, yes, we are accepted fully by God, but I don’t think God is uninterested in our growth. That’s what so much of the NT is about. Discipleship is hard, but ultimately discipleship means freedom. Discipleship means I become able to interact with others graciously and wisely. God is trying to raise us so we are able to serve his purposes. To me that means we will be full of grace and full of truth.

  79. Michael says:

    As has been said, God accepts us where we are, but He doesn’t leave us there.

    The ethos of the Christian faith is completely counter to both culture and fallen human nature.
    We have to be changed from the inside out and that process goes on until we die.

  80. Michael says:

    The big lie gaining acceptance these days is that we are basically good and in no need of change…

    I have found that my life has turned into a time of constant repentance and stumbling growth in the ways of Jesus…there is always grace that is the impetus to repentance…

  81. Josh says:

    Not that we are perfect, none of us are , and all need to improve.

    But shouldn’t being made in God’s image import some sense of goodness to all of us?

  82. I believe the most important, yet most neglected aspect of discipleship is reflecting upon and developing of the inner life. It’s the kind of like the “final frontier” because it’s so dang scary. It’s so much easier to fight over doctrine or culture (not that those aren’t important). To Michael’s point, it means we have to dare to look inside ourselves and see how much is screwed by sin and the flesh. This is why people like Scazzero and Willard have meant so much to me. Way more than all the purveyors of doctrine of our day. Funny, it wasn’t until I started working in recovery ministry some 15 years ago that I realized my own need for recovery. So grateful for the people and tools that have helped me untangle myself. It has been brutal at times, but glorious as well.

  83. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Indeed it does…but we’re also born into a fallen world as fallen beings.

    History tells us (along with personal experience ) that many with His image choose to mar it beyond recognition.

  84. Michael says:

    PH,

    There is much truth to what you are saying.
    I got to where I hated to hear the word “trauma”…until I realized how much I’d been shaped by it…

  85. Josh’s 12:01 took me back to a Johnny Cash album cover that had Johnny flanked by two dogs. One dog, named “Hell,” was black with a little bit of white. The other dog, named “Redemption,” was mostly white with a little bit of black. If I recall Johnny’s point for the photo, it was that even with the godless pagan, there is a degree of that image of God in everyone, while the redeemed still carry a degree of sin and brokenness. Or something like that.

  86. Janet Linn, BrideofChrist says:

    This has been an amazing thread and I feel I have been especially blessed by the comments of Pineapple Head. The tension between grace and accountability is evident throughout the Bible. Christians need both, and we all would do well to extend grace, but also require accountability from all those made in God’s image, Christian or not. I see too many Christians who expect to be given grace for themselves but won’t extend it to others. As a parent and as an educator I know that there is no growth unless there is accountability. So many parents don’t understand this and I have seen so many children’s characters damaged because their children weren’t held accountable for their failings. If a person feels loved, being held accountable for mistakes won’t hurt them! Every time I made a correction or criticism of a student’s work I prefaced it with a compliment. There was growth with no hard feelings.

  87. Officerhoppy says:

    Josh
    Could you describe what the Christian world would look like given your proposal? I wanna make sure I understand.

    What do you mean by your statement “ But shouldn’t being made in God’s image import some sense of goodness to all of us?”

    I agree to a point. But does grace mean there are no boundaries to love?

    I mean, if my 5 year old daughter climbed up to my medicine cabinet, grabbed a medicine bottle of Ocycodon because she liked the pretty pink pills, I’d yell at her or swat the bottle from her hands before she could swallow one. She wouldn’t think it very loving when in reality mine was an act of love.

    So, looking to explore your comments more fully

  88. Kayfabe says:

    Salute from La Puente Califas SGV

  89. Alan says:

    Paul said it more clearly “walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

    Being recipients of God’s Spirit changes us or we are not his at all.

  90. Officerhoppy says:

    Alan
    Do we really change or just behave differently?

  91. Josh says:

    Hoopy – I don’t have any kind of Doctrinal statement… What would the Christian world look like? Jesus. A grapevine produces grapes. We, flowing from the on true vine, should look like his offspring.
    The American church, in large, is not making grapes. The final products that we are producing look nothing like the Jesus of the Gospels.

  92. Josh says:

    “Being recipients of God’s Spirit changes us or we are not his at all.”

    But we don’t trust Him to change us and our people. We trust our efforts, our teaching, our discipline. Maybe we should relax and let Him do what He wahts to do.

  93. Pineapple Head says:

    There is the “Let go and let God” approach. Which at times is a viable option. But I’m reminded also of Paul’s words to Timothy: “Discipline yourself into godliness.” Sometimes the spiritual life looks a bit like going to the gym.

    This fall I’m going to be sharing a 2 month message series on the Holy Spirit. I’m more excited for the preparatin than the preaching. I need to learn (and unlearn) so many things.

  94. Michael says:

    “But we don’t trust Him to change us and our people.’

    God is committed to using human agency to do most of His work.

    Faith comes by hearing…the Gospel proclaimed from a human mouth.

    Discipleship depends on relationship.

    The fact that the ways of God have been distorted and abused by too many does not mean that they cease to be the ways of God.

    The idea that if we simply love people without content they will change is refuted by history and experience.

  95. Josh says:

    “The idea that if we simply love people without content they will change is refuted by history and experience.”

    But changing people through good teaching, biblical correction, etc has also been shon historically to be a failure.

  96. Josh says:

    “Sometimes the spiritual life looks a bit like going to the gym.”

    It just doesn’t work. It doesn’t produce people who look like Jesus.

  97. Josh says:

    I’m enjoying this conversation, and hope no one if finding me overly offensive or argumentative. If so, let me know, and I’ll find a better way to engage.

  98. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I would submit that what has been taught in American evangelicalism over the last 300 years has been anything but good.

    The central precept of American evangelicalism is that God wants to make you successful, healthy, and comfortable.

    The central precept of the Scriptures is that we follow Jesus in a life of suffering and sacrificial love.

    It confuses the kingdom of God with the U.S..

    It is individualistic while the Scriptural church is one of community.

    I could go on.

    Yes, there are many in the church that lust for profit and power, are judgmental and abusive.

    That…is not what Jesus taught, nor what He desires.

  99. Josh says:

    Michael, I agree on all points there.

  100. Michael says:

    My advice to any who are upset with the church and are able to teach and willing to pastor…start doing what you believe is right.

    Start your own fellowship with all the positive things you’ve learned and work it out in real life.

    I couldn’t stand what I saw in the local church…so I joined a little Bible study group almost 35 years ago.

    In the years that have gone by I’ve married some, buried some and did my best to shepherd them through life…and they have done as much for me.

    We’ve learned together, lived together, prayed together, grieved together rejoiced together.

    We’ve had some leave because they couldn’t handle me calling their country a beast, but they left loved.

    I’ve been intentional to keep it a small group…there’s not really any money in it, nor do I get invitations to speak at important functions.

    I do get to fulfill my calling.

  101. BrianD says:

    On an unrelated topic…

    I’m looking for honest assessments of God as portrayed in the Left Behind series, and if it’s really the general assessment of all evangelicals or an outlier.

  102. Michael says:

    BrianD,

    That would require that I read those books and I’d rather scrub with a porcupine.

    If you can summarize the portrayal, I’d be happy to assess it.

  103. BrianD says:

    It’s a god of fundamentalism. Personally, I believe to the extent Christianity is real, Jesus just shows up one day and begins to reign over the world. Revelations was really about Nero.

    It’s been a long time since I read the series. I liked it well enough then; although I’ve forgotten some of the details in the series, I remember enough that it fit in well with a specific, fundamentalist view of the world. I remember the characters being very simplistic in portions, and my deciding to look to other authors besides Jerry B. Jenkins as models for how to write realistic people.

    Oh, there’s an ice canopy over the Earth during the Millennium.

    I’m reading a fanfic based on LB where God…comes off pretty awfully, but to my memory consistent enough with the series itself. That’s led me to consider who and what God really is.

    Again, my memory of the series isn’t what it was — I read those books front to back! — and that’s why I’m reaching out here.

  104. Michael says:

    Any portrayal of God begins and ends with Jesus on the cross.

    I’m guessing that we’re talking about the judgments shown in the book of Revelation.

    Though they are highly symbolic, I have do doubt the reality will be terrible to those who experience it

    Rather than making God look bad, I think they demonstrate that God is a God of justice…and bringing justice is always a painful process.

    In my understanding of the prophetic books and “end times”, God allows evil to be as evil as it can possibly be…in order to eradicate it and re-create a new heavens and earth that is once again “good” in every way.

    Those judgments are really the answer to millennia of prayers seeking justice against evil and oppression…”thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven’…

    I look forward to this time…

  105. Michael says:

    I understand that some object to the violence in the book…but I wonder if those folks think the kind of violence perpetrated by Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and even Russia in Ukraine today will be solved by a “time out” or reason…creation must be cleansed and re-created…so that true human flourishing can happen again…

  106. Josh says:

    So…as is, we are effed and all we can do is hope to die soon or wait for the cleansing?

  107. Michael says:

    Josh,

    It appears to me that everything in this fallen world is “effed up” to one degree or another…unless you are a fan of cancer, dementia, war and all the other things that plague us from without and within.

    We are part of God’s rescue of all His creation, heralds of a new day that will come when all those prayers offered in pain and sorrow are answered.

    That excites me and motivates me to endure to the end…to finish well knowing that the story isn’t over.

    Do I have some resentment for those who taught that “God has a wonderful plan for your life” and left out the part about enduring and suffering and sacrifice?

    A little…but now I know and can deal with what is.

  108. Pineapple Head says:

    Preach, Michael!

    A couple years we took our old school doctrinal starement to read much more as the story of God rather than the bullet points about God. Essentially, the story that starts with creation and concludes with recreation. Guess what…we lost a few people over that because the felt more comfortable with a list rather than narrative of God’s doings.

  109. bob1 says:

    BrianD,

    A couple of suggestions…

    There’s a new book on the history of dispensationalism. I have the book but I haven’t cracked
    it, but it would surprise me if the author didn’t have a section on LB.

    https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Fall-Dispensationalism-Evangelical-Battle/dp/0802879225/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3TH0ACAN6CLFA&keywords=history+of+dispensationalism&qid=1686334976&sprefix=history+of+dispensationalism%2Caps%2C138&sr=8-1

    Barbara Rossing, a Lutheran theologian, wrote one called “The Rapture Exposed.” What I
    remember of it is that it’s pretty theological in approach with the focus on the book of
    Revelation.

    https://www.amazon.com/Rapture-Exposed-Message-Hope-Revelation/dp/0813343143/ref=sr_1_1?crid=CD1Z4JY1FK9B&keywords=rossing&qid=1686335050&sprefix=rossing%2Caps%2C128&sr=8-1

    WRT the new dispie book, the author is a historian.

  110. Michael says:

    The objection I think I’m hearing is that if God were good He’d deal with all of this now.

    I get it…I spent the majority of my adult life fighting people and institutions that claimed to be representing Him.

    I am the sole caregiver of a person with dementia, yet I cannot walk more than a few feet without intense pain…and that with the help of drugs that I will end up addicted to.

    I could use some answered prayer…

    The reality is that the book never promises that all things will be made well on this earth…in fact, Jesus is pretty clear that things will be ugly until He returns.

    We were given false expectations…for this life.

    I believe I will be blessed beyond expectation in the next.

    Evil can’t be dealt with piecemeal…I couldn’t save my heart with Vicks Vapo-Rub…I had to have radical surgery.

    The creation will have to endure it as well.

  111. Michael says:

    PH,

    Good on you…it’s that story, that narrative…that has all the power.

    Doctrinal points tend to cloud it…

  112. Michael says:

    bob1,

    I just started the book on dispensationalism…a good read so far.

  113. Officerhoppy says:

    Josh
    Thanks again, for your response. I am not looking for a theological statement, just what the Christian world should look like in your way of thinking. Also where are we missing it?

    You said the world would look like Jesus. I appreciate that.

    But none of us have the divine nature. My flesh and my mind continually fights against the Spirit.

    I do the best I can, but oftentimes fail in my relationships with others.

    Maybe this illustration will help. I was a police officer for 12 years. I was the field training officer for a new guy. I was totally out of touch with God but Bill (that’s his name) was a “born again, tongue speaking” Christian.

    I had attended an Assemblies of God college and wanted nothing to do with God or Bill. But I was assigned to train him.

    So, I made life in the patrol car miserable for him. One day, after my months of my harassing him, he spouted off to me in anger. In my mind I thought, “he’s no better than KJV donkey-me!” I rested in the fact that being Christian, going to church was a bunch of bull.

    The next day, Bill pulled me aside and apologized to me. But cops don’t apologize! We just move on. But Bill apologized

    I realized then what made him different. He took responsibility for his wrong actions and cared enough to make it right.

    So, while we as believers often times fail, it’s not always the failure that matters but what we do when we blow it.

    I don’t have the luxury of the divine nature that Jesus had. So again, I do the best I can knowing that even so, I’m gonna blow it.

  114. Michael says:

    “The oppressed want to hear from God, and they want to experience his justice. They want to see judgment on evil, they want oppression to end, and they want injustices to be undone. They want to hear that their oppressors are scheduled for a date with the divine. They want to know that racism will end in equality, that starvation will end in a banquet, that exclusion from the city will end in open gates for all. The oppressed have felt the piercingly violent eyes of Babylon upon them and have stared into the face of the dragon in the wild things. They know evil when they see it, and they long for the light found in the Lamb’s eyes. For justice they pray, and these three times seven judgments are God’s responses to their prayers.”

    McKnight, Scot; Matchett, Cody. Revelation for the Rest of Us (p. 115). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

  115. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    “ The central precept of American evangelicalism is that God wants to make you successful, healthy, and comfortable.”

    Not all of us Evangelicals think that way. Never thought Jesus’ mission was for me to be successful. Just faithful thru all of life’s challenges.

    Never felt his objective was for me to be healthy. Hell, 8’ve been falling apart ever since I turned 50.

    And while I live a relatively comfortable life, it came after hard work on both my wife’s and my part.

    Regarding branching off to start one’s own church—ACF kinda had that philosophy. Several did just that. Of the 25 or 30 that were “sent out” only 4 of us stayed in the ministry.

    Thera is a lot to pastoring a church than just teaching. Many who go out are good communicators but are poor theologians. I was one of those guys!

    So I sought to improve my understanding of scripture by being tutored by a professor at Dallas Theo. Sem., and another from Talbot.

    I took a few classes at Seminary and started reading technical commentaries.

    My point is, while you branched out on your own, not all are “called” h what ever that looks like). In retrospect, I probably was a better cop than a pastor. In the end, I had too many unanswered questions that challenged my faith, and I realized that preaching wasn’t a gift I possessed.

    So, while I understand your statement, I might challenge it a bit 🙂

  116. Michael says:

    Generalities will always come with exceptions…but I think there is more than a little truth in the ones I presented.

    As far as branching off…if you think everyone is doing it wrong, then do it yourself and do it what you believe is the right way.

    That’s what I did…and God willing will do again.

    I don’t just lecture…everything we do is interactive so everyone is free to understand and question… we often learn more together from “rabbit trails” than from what I prepared.

  117. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    There’s a lot of truth in what you said.

    My challenge was simply to say please adequately prepare yourself if you are going to branch out.

    I wouldn’t go to a Dr who wasn’t trained, or a lawyer who didn’t pass the bar. At this juncture in my life, I appreciate higher education and probably wouldn’t attend a church where the pastor doesn’t have some sort of theological training.

    But that’s me

  118. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    I would heartily agree on that point and would add even more…never stop studying, never stop learning and never restrict yourself to the interpretations of one sect.

    I learn something new every week I prepare to teach…I find it to be exhilarating and can’t wait to share any new insight I get…and I thank God for a group that is willing to listen and challenge and live out what we learn.

  119. Em says:

    <when it looked like the sun wouldn't shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the sky!"
    I shudder to think what an in your face insult the gays are to God…….

  120. Linn says:

    Hi, Em-
    I know a number of gays and trans people, and I know God is offended by their behavior, but I believe God is offended by all sinful behavior. Without Christ we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. I think that is where the church has blown it with the whole LGBTQ+ issue. We get offended, we joke about them, we insult them publicly, but we don’t engage and preach Christ to them.

    All sinners are going to a Christless eternity, and that is the point that I think the church has totally missed.

  121. Josh says:

    They are no more an insult to God than sinners like you and me

  122. bob1 says:

    What Josh said.

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