Things I Think…

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41 Responses

  1. Alan says:

    “Denying the goodness of God and having too much faith in my own.”

    That latter phrase is the absolute essence of social media…

    That is where we pander our glory.

    I still find ways…

  2. Linn says:

    Michael,

    I appreciate this, especially #2, 3, and 4. I recently made a mental list of all the special people in my life who are now in heaven and it was quite sobering. I’m glad they’re with Jesus, but I miss them! One thing that does help me is that I try to engage with people from different age groups and this happens naturally for me because of some of the different ministries I’m involved with. It’s amazing how many younger folks want help from older people if we listen and guide rather than being condemning or throwing out advice like confetti.

    Thanks for prayers regarding eye surgery. It’s a little better everyday, and definitely a huge improvement on the vision I had before!

  3. Muff Potter says:

    @ Nr. 4:
    I have no desire to go to evangelical ‘heaven’.
    Streets of gold and jewel encrusted vistas just ain’t my thing.
    I’d much prefer what the Jews call Olam Ha-Ba.

  4. Senecagriggs says:

    There are crimes I haven’t committed – yet.

  5. Alan says:

    I walk on streets of gold every day… “You have come …to the heavenly Jerusalem.”

  6. Michael says:

    Alan,

    What does that mean?

    I navigated from my bed to my chair with great difficulty and took the first round of opiates for the day.
    Then I limped into the front room to see if my mom was still alive and made my way back to my chair.

    She is, but once again she’s taken a journey in her sleep and doesn’t know how she’s arrived here.

    There is no trace of the kingdom to come here, only the evidence that it has not arrived yet.

  7. Captain Kevin says:

    Alan, now there’s a great perspective. Reminds me of Paul’s statement that we’ve been given every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.

  8. Captain Kevin says:

    Michael, and I certainly understand your perspective as well. Is it wishy-washy of me to see it from both sides?

  9. Michael says:

    CK,

    As I wrote, it’s not my job to validate or invalidate other people experience with God.

    When we seek understanding, we often are able to see different sides or shades.

    It’s all good.

  10. filistine says:

    Dang. Where do I begin? Oh, number three–gratitude. So easy to ignore and overlook, but with the power to redeem the circumstance over and over. Perhaps thanksgiving is the prayer that is always answered as well as a response to the goodness and gracious provision of God.

  11. Michael says:

    Sometimes, I worry that my faith is little more than whistling in the graveyard…that I am being dishonest with myself and others.

    As I write this, my body shakes uncontrollably from pain.
    Difficult situations abound…I pray for promised wisdom, but remain confused and harried.

    I pray for help, but I only hear the echo of yesterday’s call.

    I tell myself that despite unanswered prayer God has worked unilaterally to aid and assist me in times and ways I was not aware of.

    Hope in this life is almost gone…all my hope is in what happens after I die, which makes death the only answer…or I’m asking the wrong questions.

    I hope by writing this, God will move and prove me foolish for doubting.

    If someone else is walking on streets of gold I need directions to that road…

  12. Michael says:

    fil,

    Both comments are gold…thank you.

  13. Michael says:

    Having said all that…I believe, help my unbelief…

  14. Captain Kevin says:

    Michael, I’m so sorry for your pain and grief. I don’t mean this to sound cliche, but your honesty is so refreshing.

    I believe…help my unbelief has become a frequent prayer in my life, along with Lord, have mercy.

  15. Duane Arnold says:

    Twenty plus years as a surgical nurse in a leading research hospital. Almost 30 years as an enclosed Benedictine nun praying seven times a day. Gave away her financial inheritance to the poor. She has terminal cancer with six months to live. My friend does not question life or pose questions about the life to come. In both cases, God is present with her, now and in the life to come, and that is the only important theological point…

  16. Michael says:

    CK,

    I hope it’s helpful for folks to know they’re not alone in their own pain and confusion…so much of what we do is pretend all is well when it really isn’t at all.
    I have faith that it will be…

  17. Michael says:

    Duane,

    All those years of spiritual discipline have served her well.

    I’m hanging on by my fingernails, but attribute any ability to endure to be the grace and mercy of God.

  18. Tim says:

    Grief is an experience unlike any I’ve yet known. One moment, everything is fine; the next, I’m flooded with memories and emotion. Maybe it is because our losses came so quickly upon one another. Maybe it is because that’s just the way it is. I don’t know. I know God’s grace is sufficient and I know that one day Jesus will wipe the tears from my eyes.

    And if that is all I know, I’m trusting that it is enough.

  19. Michael says:

    Well said Tim…

  20. Alan says:

    Michael

    It doesn’t mean denial of pain and suffering. It means we are seated with Christ in heavenly places even while our corruptible flesh is perishing.

    The Hebrews author saw both the doom of Israel under the Romans and the glory of a kingdom come and coming.

    Going to him outside the gate was not a parade. But you know these things even in your weakness. I am not waiting for healing to manifest. Nevertheless I am …

    I will admit to my occasional cheekyness as well. Usually aimed at my Dispy friends.

  21. Michael says:

    “I will admit to my occasional cheekyness as well. Usually aimed at my Dispy friends.”

    I am guilty of that often myself…with the same target…

  22. Josh says:

    “If it’s legal and moral, never judge someone else for what brings them joy…”

    Even if the legality is questionable, and immoral by my standards…people are largely just trying to survive. God bless them if they found a way to get through another day.

    A friend of mine got addicted to hard drugs and alcohol following high school. Struggled like hell for decades and finally got clean a few years ago. Last Friday, he watched his son graduate kindergarten. Thursday Night, he locked himself in a room and ended his own life with a gun.

    I would much rather he was still searching for coping mechanisms in a bottle or even a syringe. Anything, anything, to survive another day. It is rough out here, and I celebrate with anyone who finds the will to wake up in the morning and try it again.

  23. Officerhoppy says:

    Interesting discussion.

    Just read in Rabbi Jonathon Sack’s book that there is a difference between happiness and job. I found it thought provoking: “ A crucial distinction, according to Rabbi Sacks, is that happiness is individual while joy is social. We can feel happiness on our own. But joy is meant to be shared; it is a form of “social emotion”,

  24. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend…it is rough out here…

  25. pslady says:

    Oh my Michael…you always express what’s in my heart. I am not that great at being articulate with words therefore I do not go into detail about the goings on in my life. Thanks again for your writings…they touch my soul!

  26. Michael says:

    pslady,

    Thank you…and thank you for always being an encourager to me…it makes a difference.

  27. Dan from Georgia says:

    #2 –

    Grieving today as a much-loved co-worker was shot to death by an ex-boyfriend. Two days later another fellow employee shot his wife to death.

  28. Michael says:

    Dan,

    Good Lord, that’s terrible.

    Traumatic as hell…I’m sorry for you and all concerned.

  29. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Michael, I appreciate that. Dreary day here only exacerbated by all the violence.

  30. Officerhoppy says:

    Dan
    O man!, that’s brutal. Sorry my brother

  31. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thank you my friend!

  32. Linn says:

    MIchael,
    That kind of pain…ughh..I’ve had it with all of my hip things, but not recently. What I did learn from all that pain years ago was the comforting presence of God’s people. Not a whole bunch, just the one or two that understood and would drop by to help me do a few things I couldn’t, distract me a bit with some funny stories, and just let me know that people remembered me. I hope you have someone like that around. I am praying for you!

  33. Michael says:

    Linn,

    Thank you.

    My godson and his mom bring me meals a couple times a week and help me with some other things…wouldnt make it without them.

  34. Michael says:

    Linn,

    You hit on a really important spiritual discipline.

    While we wish and pray for supernatural interventions, we often miss the interventions God has already made.

    I just spent the last few minutes thanking God that I was given Liam and for air conditioning on a warm day…for the quality people that He’s given me as friends and just being able to speak at all.

    I don’t have much to be happy about, but there is still joy to be found.

  35. Captain Kevin says:

    Dan, oh my goodness! I can’t even imagine. I’m so sorry. Praying for you, your co-workers, and family and friends of the deceased.

  36. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thank you Capt’n Kevin! Many of us in shock still. all prayers appreciated!

  37. The New Victor says:

    My mom passed in a nursing home a few years ago and we couldn’t visit her due to covid. She forgot who we were anyway due to dementia which was quickly acting. She seemed happy at the time in her new world though.

    I had an early AM dream-nightmare where my mom was driving me in the truck I’d given her in 2009, very dangerously like we were going to die and she kept speeding. I was scared age I can count the dreams in which I’ve been scared in my life on one hand. Big Puppy nuzzled my face to go outside.

    Then I woke up.

    I don’t know what it meant, but I know I’m not in the best of health.

    Dan, Josh… I’m so sorry.

  38. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thank you TNV!

  39. Em says:

    Michael, you sem to have forgotten that, at present, Satan is running things here!
    Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven! AMEN!

  40. Shawn says:

    “Whistling in the Graveyard,” I might just need to lift that line from you (okay hopefully use with permission and not steal as ‘lift’ implies). I think it would make a great title for a song. As a matter of fact I in a few moments I may try to write it. Years ago I wrote a song based on Psalm 42 which echoes the same sentiment as #5.

    I search for answers but…
    none are found
    I cry for help…
    don’t hear a sound
    Don’t You know I think I’ll drown?
    But I will not fade away

    I will run after you
    and for your heart
    I will pursue
    I will run after you
    My whole lifelong
    I will pursue

    I stumble and falter…
    sometimes lose my way
    I often get caught up…
    in the worries of today
    I am short sighted…
    and forget to pray
    but I will not fade away

    I will run after you
    and for your heart
    I will pursue
    I will run after you
    My whole lifelong
    I will pursue

    At the end I pant or make some noise where I am trying to imitate the sound of deer when they get spooked. In a way kind of fitting.

    #1-3
    As for grief…
    What can I say except for it is a strange and marvelous thing. Just over a month ago a longtime friend passed away at 51 years old (same age as me). I have been trying to prepare a memorial service for his friends and family. It has been absolutely emotionally and mentally exhausting. And as I am working on it we are preparing for the passing of my father in law. We don’t know how long it will be but he has been in rapid decline. I took him to the ER two nights ago and as I am there with him my oldest daughter calls to tell me she is on her way to the emergency room too. My father in law has bilateral pneumonia with the possibility of TB. My daughter has a different type of infection and is now having a reaction to the meds they gave her. Everytime I try to sit down, relax, process, and write I have to chase my cat who keeps meowing at the bedroom door as my wife tries to sleep and fight off an upper respiratory issue she might have caught from her dad. And we are ALL secretly worrying about having caught TB from him as we all have been in close proximity to him while he was coughing and spitting up stuff.

    #6 To be honest I am fed up with pastors who fingerpaint scriptural rainbows and sun shiny happiness in Jesus. In my opinion it is simply blowing smoke where the sun don’t shine and is, Scripturally speaking, either unbalanced or outright deceitful. I personally think that happiness is overrated at best and an illusion or mirage at worst. The mirage image may be the most fitting as it conveys temporary relief in the midst of absolute bareness. Plus it is probably dopaminic in nature which can cause addiction. I stake my claim in the idea of contentedness. When discontent I try to direct it towards something righteous, maybe a holy discontent if there is a such thing, or at least a longing for what is to come.

    “Everyday arrives without another inch grown
    Fruitlessness revealed in the seeds that Ive sown
    Thoughtlessly tossed into the prevailing winds

    I thought I possessed gold while clinging to worthless tin
    a holy discontent rises slowly up to undermine again

    Everything I call mine is not mine my own
    My utter selfishness uncovered clearly shown
    Here I thought I was serving a greater will
    Only to realize I serve myself even still”

    I find your honesty refreshing, encouraging, and enlightening. May you find the strength in God’s Spirit to continue to be a beacon of light and a refuge to the many weary travelers meandering along the narrow winding road to eternity.

    The words of Hebrews preceding the so-called, “Hall of Faith:”

    35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

    36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,

    “In just a little while,
    he who is coming will come
    and will not delay.”[f]

    38 And,

    “But my righteous[g] one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”[h]

    39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

    (On a side note I just noticed the “and” in the first part of verse 39. I am not sure if the Greek would bear this out but the problem seems to not be momentary lapses in faith but rather those that lead to the eradication of it. I am sure the line is finer than the finest grain of sand. But possibility is comforting… for now (there is always the possibility of such things disappearing with deeper study. lol).

    Keep on brother. Keep on!

  41. Michael says:

    Shawn,

    My condolences and prayers for healing and strength as you and your family work through all these challenges.

    Thank you once again for bringing us thoughtful reflections that add to all of us enduring to the end.

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