Things I Think

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175 Responses

  1. Nomansapologist says:

    Excellent. Thank you, Michael.

  2. Josh Hamrick says:

    What’s the problem with Metaxas? He’s a good biographer right?

  3. Michael says:

    Thank you, Nomans!

  4. Josh Hamrick says:

    Disclaimer: I never read a Metaxas book, just saw good reviews for his Bonhoeffer bio.

  5. Michael says:

    Metaxas is a very good writer…not a good biographer.
    He transformed Bonhoeffer into an evangelical and then transformed that into becoming the darling of the religious right.
    He irritates the stuff out of me.

  6. Josh Hamrick says:

    Gotcha. I’ll continue to avoid him 🙂

  7. Paigemom says:

    Hoping your family member’s calamity is improving.

    Excellent post….. I have to admit, I enjoy Eric Metaxas on Breakpoint radio, prolly won’t get around to reading the book..

    For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Indeed, how contrary to my own thoughts and much preaching that I’ve heard…. but certainly not the consistent pattern of saints in history…..

    As to the “no’ of yesterday…. and my daily repeats….. I haven’t given up hope regarding my sons’ salvation. …. on that subject, I guess I am somewhat of a nag. 🙂

  8. Michael says:

    Paigemom,

    God wants you keep praying that prayer…never give up hope.

  9. Paigemom says:

    Yup, Michael….. fo sho. My oldest looks more and more like his dad….and is so much like him in so many ways, except for the Faith….. all in due time, God’s time…

  10. Nonnie says:

    Never give up on that boy, Paigemom!! I’m sure many, many could not imagine that my husband and I would ever surrender to Christ…but my mother prayed, nagged, loved, and stormed the gates of heaven. I’m sure she nagged the Lord even more than she nagged me! Never give up!!!

  11. 1. “We despise weakness…and maybe that’s why we have no power and strive for carnal ways to achieve what we want.”. Amen.
    2. So glad for this and need to remind myself more.
    3. Really don’t understand this one. Haven’t read any of his works or listened to him.
    4. Guil…oh look, a cute cat gif. 🙂
    5. Hmmm.
    6. Definitely.
    7. What does an offer of reconciliation look like here?
    8. Not so sure.
    9. Mocking church and christian stereotypes, by christians makes me angry. Hence, why I can’t stand SCCL.
    10. Good.

  12. Jonathan says:

    Great, thoughtful , powerful words- thank you

  13. Jtk says:

    ” The greatest challenge I’m facing in my writing is critiquing “the church” with a balance. I love the church…how do you criticize someone you love? Mocking them usually doesn’t work well…”

    When you do your best to love and build the church the best we know how, that’s a good start.

    People who do that have a certain currency that sideline-sitting critics do not.

  14. Steve Wright says:

    I think we lost the culture war because we led with law, not love. We demanded repentance before we offered reconciliation…
    ———————————————————-
    Who is the “we” – and what do you mean by the “culture war” and how do you define lost – serious questions.

  15. Michael says:

    “We” would be the church…it should have read “wars”, not war (every moral issue imaginable)…and by ‘losing” I mean that in the secular world we have lost our voice and our credibility.

  16. Steve Wright says:

    Here’s the problem. The secular world looks at “the church” and sees plenty of churches that endorse plenty of immorality, that offer a Jesus of love that never says repent. Those folks sure can’t be included in your “we” because those folks did not LOSE the wars…they won…decisively.

    No matter how much loving, credible, integrity churches like ours might offer, we eventually have to include repent if we want to be faithful to what the Bible says about sin. How can there be gospel without law at some point? Speak the truth in love…but speak the truth. Jesus is the Savior – not the enabler of sinners.

    And God forbid, if we dare comment in any sort of political context (which is hard to avoid given the issues at hand) we will not only be dismissed as religious-right fanatics by the secular world along with those earlier mentioned churches, but a large proportion of our side (including many on this blog) will talk about confusing our kingdoms, hurting our chances to share the gospel and so forth.

    So I disagree “we” lost the cultural wars because of message or strategy or lack of love. How much “love” was shown by others towards us and our difference of opinion? No, we get called equals to The Taliban

    The wars were lost because most of God’s people never even enlisted to fight, and most of those who did join the fray often did not use all the weapons in the arsenal.

    In my opinion…

  17. Jim says:

    While I agree with #7, I honestly don’t think that we’re called to participate in culture wars.

    Excellent word on suffering. It grieves me that you have the cred to speak authoritatively on this subject. I don’t question God’s sovereign will, but I will weep with those who weep.

    God, please heal and comfort my brother Michael.

  18. Michael says:

    Jim,

    You know of what I speak as well as I do, my friend.
    Prayers for you from here…we’re in this together.

  19. What does an offer of reconciliation look like in the context of the culture war?
    I know Steve is right that part of telling people about reconciliation to God includes repentance, which is the very thing that many don’t want to hear.

  20. I’ve been thinking a great deal about weakness as it relates to the church and vocational ministry. I cannot help but think we’ve bought into the business model of play to your strengths, build your résumé, and be impressive.

  21. Nonnie says:

    Hey, matt b redmond, just wanted to tell you how much your blog has ministered to me. I truly believe the Lord has very good plans for you. Hang in there, my friend!

  22. Xenia says:

    I don’t really agree with Thought # 7 either.

    If Christians have lost the culture war, it’s because most of us have joined the other side.

    With the exception of a few aberrations like Westboro Baptist, much of western Christendom is falling all over itself to be warm and welcoming to homosexuals, having been made to feel guilty and legalistic for standing up for God’s truth.

    As far as “culture” goes, many Christians have completely embraced many aspects of American culture and live lives that are virtually indistinguishable from unbelievers.

  23. Xenia says:

    And there is no reconciliation without repentance.

  24. Steve Wright says:

    Matt, would be interested in you expanding on your concern @20.

  25. Ricky Bobby says:

    “No matter how much loving, credible, integrity churches like ours might offer, we eventually have to include repent if we want to be faithful to what the Bible says about sin. How can there be gospel without law at some point? Speak the truth in love…but speak the truth. Jesus is the Savior – not the enabler of sinners.”

    Says the man who ignores abuse and sin in his own Camp and won’t speak to it publicly.

    Yes, “REPENT YE HEATHEN!” to others…silent as a church mouse within his own Camp of Affiliated Pastors (Brothers as Chuck Smith calls all of them).

    19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

    20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

    21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

    Steve, your words are hollow and powerless. You are a refutation to your own words.

  26. Xenia,
    “much of western Christendom is falling all over itself to be warm and welcoming to homosexuals, ”

    I know what you mean – it always made me mad that Jesus never told the sinners, drunks and prostitutes to just “piss off”.

    I guess Jesus lost the culture war also.

    This is so ridiculous – this country was never Christian and never acted Christian. As a whole, Americans have been sinners, drunks and whores since Jamestown. Check out how settlers acted as they moved west – the further west the more immoral.

    There is no such thing as a culture war – it was made up by Christians so they would have something to rail against.

  27. erunner says:

    RB, Your words carry no weight as I believe you have disqualified your self from any serious consideration when it comes to your continual assaults on SW. At this point you might consider different tactics to regain any amount of respect you once had on this blog. Your act has jumped the shark.

  28. crownedone1 says:

    Ricky @ 25 “Says the man who ignores abuse and sin in his own Camp and won’t speak to it publicly.”

    You are acting like he has a choice to do so. Lawyers & ‘bonds of brotherhood’ deter this from happening.

    Church won’t act like church until it is no longer an industry and only an assembly. We politicized & commercialized christianity, and are now reaping what was sewn.

  29. crownedone1 says:

    God’s Word is canon until an attorney advises otherwise (another common trend I have noticed in churches).

  30. Ricky Bobby says:

    E, your opinion means nothing to me and I don’t play for an audience (like some others).

    crowned, I think there a lot of truth in what you just said.

  31. erunner says:

    RB, I speak for many others. Once more you’re ruining this blog as you have free reign, cause threads to be routinely shut down, drive people away and generally make a mess of things. You’ve been this way from the beginning. You should be banned.

  32. Ricky Bobby says:

    That’s your opinion and I don’t agree with it and think the perspective is skewed.

  33. Chile says:

    Re: Redmond @ 20 said,

    “I’ve been thinking a great deal about weakness as it relates to the church and vocational ministry. I cannot help but think we’ve bought into the business model of play to your strengths, build your résumé, and be impressive.”

    I agree.

    The business model feeds our pride, selfish/vain ambition and naval gazing. It steals time and brain space to “abide with Christ”; neglects humility and and real service of others (the kind that doesn’t pad our resume and public image;) and cocoons us till we can no longer actually have any semblance of objectivity about the local church, what’s really going on.

  34. Chile says:

    Erunner, please give it a break. You, too, are becoming what you say you don’t like.

  35. Chile says:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to be harsh.

  36. Michael says:

    Matt was right on, as usual.
    The interesting thing to me is that as our economic system increasingly reflects beast values the churches using that model do as well.

  37. crownedone1 says:

    Michael @ 36 “The interesting thing to me is that as our economic system increasingly reflects beast values the churches using that model do as well.”

    Indeed. It seems what is “trending” is to actually be as close to the world as possible whilst still wearing our cross necklaces.

    “in the world, but not of it” has seen a radical evolution in our time.

  38. crownedone1 says:

    erunner @ 31

    I do not know RB personally, however…

    “RB, I speak for many others.”

    Group consensus does not inherently make you ‘correct’. I also find it comical that a group of grown ups, holding each other’s hands and saying ‘we don’t want you in our clubhouse’, is spiritually mature. In fact…it almost seems…prideful.

    “Once more you’re ruining this blog as you have free reign”

    Subjective. His comments help me in my walk, particularly in the ‘defense’ category.

    “cause threads to be routinely shut down”

    RB has no control over whether threads are open or closed. That ‘A’ or ‘B’ decision belongs to Michael & any appointed moderators.

    “drive people away”

    RB cannot force anyone to leave. If individuals prefer to dodge the tough questions, or simply flee from RB’s “persecution”, the only person to blame is found in a mirror. They can also entirely disregard his posts and/or not reply to them.

    “and generally make a mess of things.”

    Subjective. I typically find his thoughts intriguing as they challenge me to defend my faith.

    “You’ve been this way from the beginning.”

    So you should be a seasoned veteran of defending the faith at this point. I would also assume you have prayed for RB daily, incessantly.

    “You should be banned.”

    Jesus was a big fan of banning. When He met with the woman at the well, and ate with the tax collectors, it was in preparation for a good smiting & banning, naturally.

    So too, should we smite & ban those whom we do not like. This club is exclusive after all.

    Jesus coming for the sick? Optional.
    Forgiving seventy times seven and loving our enemies? Optional.

    I love being a Christian. I can pick and choose the parts that suit me and throw out all the verses that inconvenience me. Because by golly, I’m going to have my cake and eat it too.

  39. Steve Wright says:

    erunner is a pillar of this community and a fine man of integrity who cares about others and in his sharing has made me a better Christian and pastor.

  40. Ricky Bobby says:

    I’ve got no personal beef with E, I think he’s a decent guy. I just don’t hold his opinion in high regard, though I do give some weight to his views on prejudices in the church toward mental illness etc.

  41. Michael says:

    Enough.
    This personal junk ceases now.
    I don’t have the time or energy to officiate pissing matches.

  42. RB’s friend has had me banned for over a year at his blog because he thought I was being disruptive.

  43. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, I’m so sorry for you. Just leave it to the Lord, don’t let it make you bitter. Don’t be unforgiving. Just let God handle it, OK? 😉

  44. Ricky Bobby says:

    You can submit a letter to CCAoF and we may or may not get back to you.

  45. Ricky Bobby says:

    Oh, and I don’t like this guilt by association. I’m not even Affiliated with Not Alone, let alone his “Brother” and fellow Pastor etc. We’re all 100% independent over there so don’t broad brush me, thanks! 😆

  46. Nonnie and Michael, thanks!

    Steve, I’m not entirely sure what I think about all of it. But a blog post is probably in order.

  47. Matt,
    You do have some great blog posts.

  48. RB, no problem – ever since CCA went from ripping CC pastors to ripping God and the Bible, that blog has become boring.

  49. Ricky Bobby says:

    ” that blog has become boring.”

    Cool, no problem. I could care less if it’s boring or not, just whether or not it is intellectually honest…and Rachael, who has studied under an Israeli archeologist, is citing some very interesting facts and observations from archeology.

    Truth is the truth wherever it leads.

  50. “…who has studied under an Israeli archeologist, ”

    Yes, but perhaps he was a crappy archeologist. Are Israeli archeologist better just because they are Israeli?

    So, we know nothing about Rachael and we know nothing about this archeologist. Perhaps they both have a bent worldview.

    Or as you would say “Their truth leads to wherever their truth leads to”. not impressive at all.

  51. Was saying you talked to the guy that ran John Piper’s FB account one of those examples of intellectual honesty?
    LOL

  52. Ricky Bobby says:

    I did talk to a guy who is an intern on John Piper’s FB account. That is a fact. It’s in my facebook feed.

  53. Yeah right.
    Here is the link to the original bragadoccio from you.

    https://phoenixpreacher.com/?p=2392#comments

    And don;t try to deny you are Anonymous, that wouldn’t be intellectually honest. Also FYI JP’s Twiiter feeds to his FB account so it is actually only the twitter account that matters.

    And here is what JP says about his twitter account:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/who-is-in-charge-of-your-johnpiper-twitter-account

    When we set ourselves up as paragons of intellectual honesty, we usually fail.

  54. Sorry, don’t try to deny you are Believe.

  55. Ricky Bobby says:

    Um, Derek, you do realize there is a difference between Facebook and Twitter, right?

    The fact remains, I directed questions to Piper on his facebook account and the person who runs his fb page commented to me that they ran his page (or at minimum worked on administering his page). It’s in my timeline, it’s verifiable fact.

    You’re either being intellectually dishonest in not acknowledging the difference between a Twitter account and a Facebook page, or you are simply lacking intellectually to understand the difference and the fact that I didn’t claim “Twitter” I pointed out the fact of the interaction I had on the Piper facebook page.

  56. You do recognize that some people feed their twitter to FB?
    That means that they don’t actually put anything on FB, it just automatically posts from twitter.
    Trying to keep it simple for you here.
    JP’s does this. Why, because if you see the article and video, he uses Hootsuite. This is a way to manage social media accounts.
    No facts from you.
    I have provided some, you just say “well, some guy said to me.”
    Don;t try to bluff people here or me.
    I may not know about your rhetorical arguments, but I know the internet.

    You lie a lot.

  57. Ricky Bobby says:

    Piper’s got help administering his facebook page, it’s fact, whether you try to dodge it or not b/c you look like an idiot for dying on the hill of your mistaking Piper’s twitter account with his Facebook page.

  58. I mistook nothing, you just were internet dumb buddy. You are the one dying on a hill.

  59. I followed both his FB and twitter.
    They read the same.
    There is a reason for this.

    Make your own application.

    I am stepping back from this tonight.

  60. erunner says:

    #57 illustrates everything I’ve spoken about. Ricky Bobby, you should be ashamed of yourself but I’m sure you’re not.

  61. It is fine Erunner,
    I have had much worse directed at me in life and directed worse at others.

  62. Sorry, RB go look at JP’s latest FB for an example. RT and the @’s are a dead giveaway.
    Sorry, everyone, it was like a gift.

  63. Don’t argue with RB – it will only lead to the closing of another thread. I say we exercise our first amendment right and not respond to anything he says … his head will explode. 😉

  64. Michael says:

    Thank you all for respecting my call to end the personal stuff.
    Great job.
    I spend three hours with Trey and this becomes a cesspool.
    Really appreciate it.

  65. Papias says:

    Matt Redmond – I would like to se your thoughts expanded on #20. I really enjoy your blog posts.

    With JI Packers new book on weakness, the subject is worthy of discussion.

    And as one who has been on a job search for the last few months, I think I know the strength of a good resume. ALot of it has to do with formating. But the best resume cannot get you the job. Only mad interview skills can seal that deal. And yes…there is a double meaning to the whole church as a business model with pastors having resumes and interviews.

  66. Sorry Michael, but if it is any consolation we disrupted the comment section on JP’s FB post last night too.
    Beards won the day in the end.

  67. Andrew says:

    Truth is the truth wherever it leads.
    _________________________________________________________________

    Jesus is the truth. The scriptures speak of Him and He affirmed the scriptures therefore the scriptures are true.

  68. Andrew says:

    How can there be gospel without law at some point?

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Steve, the gospel and the law should not be confused. Your statement above is disturbing because it appears you are mixing law and the gospel which is no gospel at all but rather law.

  69. Josh Hamrick says:

    Explain your 68 Andrew. Does the gospel exist if there is no law?

  70. Steve Wright says:

    I’ll try once Andrew. For clarification. Before there is gospel there is law. A point made clearly by Paul in Romans. I am not seeking to mix-in the Law AFTER the gospel is received.

    Note the context of my remark…

  71. Josh Hamrick says:

    That is disturbing Steve. It appears you are mixing context and remarks.

    (Thought I’d beat Andrew to the punch 🙂 )

  72. Andrew says:

    Steve,

    Here is your context:

    “Jesus is the Savior – not the enabler of sinners.”

    Jesus actually enables sinners to enter heaven by washing them of there sins. But I think the real context is an unrepentant pastor in your tribe that you seem to have given a free pass. I’m confused.

  73. Josh Hamrick says:

    Andrew, did JEsus tell anyone to continue in their sins?

  74. jamesk says:

    @72 WOW

  75. Andrew says:

    Josh,

    Jesus told us to repent. And I take that seriously.

  76. Josh Hamrick says:

    So He was not an enabler of sinners. Good. You agree with Steve.

  77. Andrew says:

    He enabled a way for sinners to have life. Unless you think you are perfect now, I would suggest he enabled you too. But the question is who are we enabling in our own tribe by not saying a word about their sins but just being hush hush about it? Suing your own son is sinful no matter how you slice it.

  78. Josh Hamrick says:

    Do you understand the meaning of “enabler” as Steve was using it?

    And why does this come back to Alex again? He may or may not be right about Bob Greneir, who knows? That’s between him, Bob, and the courts. I wouldn’t expect anyone to purposefully get involved in that garbage.

  79. Andrew says:

    Josh,
    There are a slew more people than Alex, Bob and the courts my friend. If you can’t see this, your eyes are close.

  80. Michael says:

    I am completely ashamed that this spilled over to Pipers world.

  81. Michael says:

    My original thought (and what I still think today) is that we entered the cultural fray not as ambassadors of Christ whose main message was that God wanted to be reconciled to sinners, but as defenders of the moral law of God without any Gospel attached for the most part.
    Thus, we became well known for what we were against without the necessary pleading that we were doing it out of love and a desire to see people reconciled to God.
    We are cultural Pharisees.
    I am a theological conservative, bible believing Christian…and I couldn’t possibly be more alienated politically from my own tribe, mainly because of the harsh, loveless, rhetoric from that part of the Body.

  82. Michael says:

    I’m out.

  83. Steve Wright says:

    Thus, we became well known for what we were against without the necessary pleading that we were doing it out of love and a desire to see people reconciled to God.
    ————————————————
    There is a reason that the person who sees him/herself “pro-life” will be called “anti-abortion” by others – you can’t avoid being known by what you are against when you make it clear what you are for. If you say you are for marriage as one man, one woman faithful until death – you will be called a homophobe. There is no avoiding it – even if you never mention homosexuality once.

    To take it out of culture to basic doctrine – there is a reason we are called Islamophobes and such when we dare say that Jesus is the only way to salvation, because in saying so we are also saying that there is no salvation in Islam.

    One can’t avoid turning over the coin when an argument is presented, and you can be sure that the various secular institutions of media, schools, government will frame the issues to their particular bent.

    And I stand by my original point that “WE” are in competition with plenty of churches that have Jesus all over them in name, and a message that there is no reconciliation necessary – because (and I quote) “You are God’s perfect child and He loves you just the way you are”. Whereas, the New Testament always points to the cross as the demonstration of God’s love.

    I tell people about God’s love every week – and do so by pointing to the cross. Other churches…..not so much on that latter point.

  84. Ricky Bobby says:

    “One can’t avoid turning over the coin when an argument is presented, and you can be sure that the various secular institutions of media, schools, government will frame the issues to their particular bent.”

    Some truth to that…but the converse is, the so-called church and Christians* do the same.

    All Groups have their “bent” and their taboos and their Sacred Cows etc. It’s how things are and no one is pure.

  85. Michael says:

    I’m going to say this one more time before I shut the whole damn blog down.

    References to family are never allowed.

    Henceforth if you want to discuss RB, Alex, or anything associated with either go to his blog and do it.

    I have a life and I’m sick and tired of the constant conflicts and constant attention I have to give to one topic.

    It’s simply not worth the work I put in here to have nothing but a board to bitch at each other.

  86. Michael says:

    Steve,

    Here it is in a nutshell.
    We’re to be known for our love.
    We aren’t and it’s not because the media and the culture skewed our message…it’s because we led with law and stayed with law and we still cling to that today.

  87. Josh Hamrick says:

    For what its worth, I was speaking about “Jesus enabling sinners”, but it got turned as always to the “topic that shall not be mentioned.” I’d be perfectly happy to never hear of that topic again.

  88. Josh Hamrick says:

    Michael, could you give me an example, outside of Westboro, where Christians are fighting culture with law? From today, not 30 years ago?

  89. Xenia says:

    I just don’t see most American Christians too engaged with any “law.” I find them to be quite antinomian, for the most part. They have a few especially egregious sins they complain about but in their own lives, they pretty much do whatever they want to do.

    So I would say it’s hypocrisy, not “leading with the law.”

  90. Steve Wright says:

    Michael, I do hear you. Here is my nutshell.

    We are to speak the truth in love.
    Others, in the name of Jesus, are speaking deception in love.

    The Bible warns about this..about being menpleasers, about ticking ears.

    At some point, unless you compromise on the truth, you will offend.

    The cross is an offense. And we preach Christ crucified.

    We don’t need to preach it “offensively” of course – which I think is your point.

  91. Xenia says:

    And it is the law, after all, that is the school master that tells us we are a sinner who needs a Savior. *Someone* has to stand up and proclaim the law, else how would people know they were sinners, especially in today’s climate?

    On the other hand, vicious, ugly speech is also sinful, no matter whose mouth it comes from. So yes, some zealots need to tone down their rhetoric, which thrives in the Internet environment.

  92. Michael says:

    Josh,

    The message that I read in Scripture is clear as to the mission of the church.
    We are ambassadors of Christ who came to save sinners and we have an offer of reconciliation from the King.
    That is the overwhelmingly primary message that the world should be hearing.
    The message we bring today, as thirty years ago…is you’re wrong, you’re wicked, and we need laws to fix that.
    We have identified the culture as the enemy, not as a mission field.
    That’s not the Gospel.
    The world does not hear that our concerns come from love of them and love of God…but from a disgust over their sin.
    That’s not the Gospel.

  93. Xenia says:

    Also….. You know, the vast majority of Christians don’t spend any time at all on Twitter and Facebook. My three best friends don’t have a Twitter or FB account. My priest doesn’t, either. None of them have their own blog. Cyberspace never hears from these people and doesn’t hear from the majority of Christendom. Many others just use social media to keep in touch with their families and swap photos. I think it’s a mistake to suppose that all of American Christendom is represented a few nuts on FB.

  94. Josh Hamrick says:

    “The message we bring today, as thirty years ago…is you’re wrong, you’re wicked, and we need laws to fix that.”

    I don’t see that much in my world. I think we’ve swung too far in the opposite direction. I see Furtick, Perry Noble, Osteen, and that type as the face of modern Christianity.

  95. Xenia says:

    There are times in the history of the world when a strong message needs to be sent. I believe we are living in those times now. Read Isaiah.

  96. Steve Wright says:

    So Michael, how did that play out in the Civil Rights victories of the 1960s. Did those on God’s side of the issue go around just telling the South to be reconciled to God?

    Most of those southern racists that did not want the laws changed fancied themselves Christians, attending church and so forth. Many even expressed a Biblical argument for their sins, right from the pulpit – just like today.

    Peaceful, political involvement – promoting truth and justice – won the day. Actually FIGHTING the cultural war – not being satisified to bemoan its loss while blaiming Christ’s bride for the sins of others.

  97. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I agree with your diagnosis of hypocrisy as a factor.
    I’m not speaking of cyberspace in particular…listen to Christian radio for an hour and you’ll hear the same or worse…

  98. Michael says:

    Steve,

    Have you read the speeches and sermons from those days?
    Did not Dr. King lead with love and a desire to see justice because of God?
    Steve, if I were not saved by the sovereign grace of God there is no way in hell I would join the club today simply because of the rhetoric of the religious right.
    We are putting up real barriers to people coming to Christ.

  99. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I agree that a strong message needs to be sent.
    The message is that Christ died for your sins and God desires that you come into a relationship with Him.
    We are supposed to be “pleading” with sinners according to Paul…be reconciled to God.

  100. Michael says:

    What is the message that you honestly think that the gay community, the immigrant community, or the feminist community is hearing from us?
    I fully understand that many will reject the message anyway…but what is the primary message you think we are communicating to the culture?

  101. Steve Wright says:

    One of the most bizarre arguments I ever read was from around 50-60 years ago, by a man I know was a devout believer in Jesus Christ.

    He wrote on how horrible slavery was – the ownership of black people, treated as property and not as men/women. How unChristian and evil it was and such a horrible part of America’s history.

    Then, in the next breath argued that God never intended the races to mix. God had put the blacks in Africa and they should live freely there – but they also should have stayed there. White people were to blame for bringing black people over to America through the sin of the slave trade.

    This man was already reconciled to God – and devoted his life to serving Jesus. His beliefs were very wrong – but given the time and era in which he lived it would have been quite difficult to convince him.

    And he most certainly would not have joined in any effort to bring civil rights to blacks in America.

  102. Michael says:

    Steve,

    You’re mixing apples and oranges.
    I wrote specifically about where we lost our witness and credibility to culture, not wacky brethren.

  103. jamesk says:

    Steve and Michael, i think both of you are saying the same thing, just in different ways.

    I think the problem in the “culture war” is two-fold. On one side there is the religious right that have tried to brow beat people to repentance, and on the other you have the only love and grace folks who look so much like the world that a sinner doesn’t see a need to repent because there is no difference between them and the “christian.”

  104. Michael says:

    jamesk,

    I think thats fair.

  105. Steve Wright says:

    What is the message that you honestly think that the gay community, the immigrant community, or the feminist community is hearing from us?
    ————————————————–
    What do you mean “from us” – I can tell you what they will hear from me when I am in the pulpit on Sunday, serving as pastor – and you can listen to any message you want to see if there is a reflection of what you are bemoaning.

    Now, what “they” will hear if, outside the church walls, they try to indoctrinate my children into their value systemn against my wishes is going to be a different message.

    Example:

    There are laws right now that allow teenage girls to get abortions without parental permission, and if any concerned parents (Christians or otherwise) try to actually make a difference to CHANGE those laws, we are dismissed as right-winger Bible-thumpers who have a war against women and apparently also are not “preaching a message of reconciliation”

    So the laws remain on the books.

  106. Michael says:

    I have to also add that words fail me to describe the vile, stinking, hypocrisy of Christian leaders who will travel earth and sea to oppose gay marriage but won’t sign a statement affirming the need for us to keep our children safe from abuse.

  107. jamesk says:

    @106 Word!

  108. Michael says:

    Steve,

    We know what the issues are.
    I’m speaking to a specific reason why I believe that we are not heard.
    Do you honestly believe that these parts of culture know that we are broken over their lost condition and we love them with the love of Christ?
    Some will not hear because they are of their father, the devil.
    Others won’t hear because we aren’t telling them.

  109. Xenia says:

    How does this fit in with your Calvinism, Michael? You seem to be saying that it is up to us to behave in such a way that sinners will come to Christ. Now, I actually do believe this but I don’t see how it fits in with your Calvinism.

  110. Steve Wright says:

    jamesk and Michael,

    Yes, there is a two-fold, apples and oranges, issue here. Church vs. state.

    Religious right is a STATE (political) term – Christians who take their values to the ballot box. Many Christians who share those values do not believe in politcal involvement.

    There is also a religious left by the way, as loud or louder today. This is not the 1980s anymore. Most on this side of the equation DO fight the political battles. Some of these “reverends” in fact make it their fulltime job in place of weekly ministry of the word of reconciliation.

    The message heard in the churches in a different issue

    I challenged Michael at the beginning when he said “WE” lost these wars, and he defined “WE” as “the church” by stating that there are plenty of churches that think the culture wars are being WON, not lost.

  111. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    A true Calvinist treats everyone as potentially elect so we preach the Gospel promiscuously to everyone.
    A true Calvinist is a biblicist…and I’m simply speaking what the Holy Spirit already spoke in the Scriptures.
    The responsibility for results is Gods ,but the faithfulness to act is mine.

  112. fyi says:

    It doesn’t matter what ‘they’ hear. It also doesn’t matter what ‘the church’ or ‘leaders’ are saying. What matters is what I say/do. What matters to you is what you say/do. I think we spend way too much time looking at the specks in the eyes of those who are in the public eye. I can only change me and, when I allow the Lord to do that, I am heard. One person at a time. As for me, I love them with the love of Jesus and that is why I tell them they need to repent. Inside and outside of the church. Whether or not they hear is not my fault.

    One final thing: Michael, you know I admire you a great deal but your crusade to have leaders sign the petition is a straw-man. Kids are protected, loved, and valued in the church I pastor with or without a petition. I think we should all stop trying to change the whole world and start with the world we walk in.

  113. Xenia says:

    # 111

    But it seems to me that if someone is one of the Elect, they will not be able to resist the Gospel message no matter how poorly it is presented or how poorly they perceive the behavior of Christians.

    Anyway, your heart is in the right place.

  114. Michael says:

    fyi,

    I am deeply submerged in the world I walk in…and my concerns spring from what I hear and experience in that world.

  115. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    There are mysteries involved with the process that I can’t fathom, nor am I called to.
    The secret things belong to God.
    I am called to obey the words of Scripture without regard to those things beyond my comprehension.

  116. Xenia says:

    Michael, I understand that but you seem to be saying that we Christians, by our behavior, are pushing people away from Christ and I did not think Calvinism taught that one of the Elect could be pushed away from Christ.

    As a non-Calvinist, I do think I could push someone away from Christ by my behavior.

  117. Michael says:

    fyi,

    If your church was the only one we had to worry about, then their would be no need for the statement.
    Unfortunately, we see that in many other churches it has been shown that the children are not safe.
    The statement was created to raise awareness and create discussion and hopefully corresponding actions.
    People react when their leaders and peers speak with other leaders in one voice.

  118. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    As I read the Scriptures, both things are true.
    There are many tensions in Scripture that have to be held together, but I’m only accountable for faithfulness to what I know.
    I know that what I do and what I teach my flock to do…matters.

  119. Josh Hamrick says:

    The problem is where the statement originated from. Nobody knows those guys. You do know the SBC approved a statement like this just a few weeks ago, right?

    You know how much safer the SBC is because of that statement? None.

  120. Xenia says:

    The Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas has issued a statement about child abuse as well.

  121. Michael says:

    I’m off for the day…lots to do and i’m needing a break.
    Bet you can’t tell… 🙂

  122. Steve Wright says:

    So the plan is to preach the gospel to transform the lives of sinners and THEN rail on them when these new creations in Christ seek to join those of us who take their new values into the public arena of influence.

    Do you think I cared about these things before God changed my life?

    Now that God has made me care…I’m somehow in the wrong?

    fyi is right. We each need to answer to God for our lives. And just like I think it is wrong for a pastor to rail on the political issues from the pulpit, I think it is wrong for Christians to sit out elections. But neither of the two are my servants.

    Unfortunately, if a Christian who loves the Lord and is faithful to the Scriptures DOES choose to run for local office, not only will be/she be villified by the world but he/she has no assurance some of that villification will come from the brethren – and he/she sure can’t count on support on voting day.

  123. Josh Hamrick says:

    Question, since I guess Michael is gone: What message SHOULD they gay community hear from the church?

  124. Andrew says:

    Josh,
    I don’t think we should target a community per say but rather specific individuals that we know and care for. When it comes to presenting the gospel to a gay person, the message is clear and the same as with anyone. Jesus calls us to repent of our sins and be baptized and follow Him.

  125. jamesk says:

    Josh, the same as the adulterer or fornicator or…

  126. Josh Hamrick says:

    Andrew, I would more agree with you, I was just following up on Michael’s earlier question.

    “repent of our sins and be baptized and follow Him”

    And I think that is the message that any community or individual should hear.

  127. Xenia says:

    I would stop referring them to a community and just talk to each one as an individual sinner who needs the Lord’s forgiveness. I would not single them out as being in any way special, I would just tell them the Gospel message and invite them to church.

    If they are interested in becoming a Christian, they would become a catechumen and would then be taught the things the Church considers sinful and if they are guilty of any of those sins (and who isn’t?) then they would need to repent. Before baptism, an inquirer gives a “life confession” and the Lord forgives a life-time of sins.

    Baptism and Chrismation fills the new Christian with the Holy Spirit, Who will help him to resist all kinds of sexual impurity. Weekly Communion is the medicine that will also help but he must struggle all his life to overcome sinful tendencies (as do we all). If the person is not able to overcome same-sex attraction, he is expected to remain celibate the rest of his life. He has to choose God over his lustful desires and when he slips up, he has to confess it and God will forgive.

    (I wrote “he” but could be “she”.)

    A lifetime of celibacy, Oh no! How could God ask that of these people, how could we expect them to miss out on such an important part of human life? But every church I have ever attended has a few middle-aged single women who could never find a husband, for whatever reason, or may be widowed or divorced.. These women are often some of the hardest workers in a church yet we *absolutely* expect chastity from them and don’t pine over the fact that these women are being cheated out of sexual activity. If single women (who are often quite romantically inclined) can do it, so can homosexuals.

  128. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, the same as the adulterer or fornicator or…
    ———————————-
    I agree. And yet, good luck trying to accomplish what Michael seems to be saying we are guilty of not doing and tell a homosexual, especially one in a committed relationship, that they are in sin and in no different standing before God than an adulterer or common fornicator.

    Especially when the Christian church down the street performed their marriage.

  129. Andrew says:

    Josh,
    I agree but some communities are based on their affinity for a particular sin and not simply a racial or cultural demographic. Its important to address the individual and not the community with this. I really think its a tragedy to make comparisons of the gay community with a discriminated against racial demographic which is politically correct thing to do today. So I would rather just ignore the communities demands and focus on the individual. At least that is the way I see it.

  130. Xenia says:

    We all pretty much wrote the same thing.

  131. Steve Wright says:

    One additional fact not yet stated in this discussion about the culture.

    Many of the loudest, most active homosexual proponents are straight.

    Many of the loudest, most active abortion supporters are men.

    and so forth..

  132. London says:

    Josh-

    The message a fat person should hear from the church is no different than any other person.
    Love, acceptance always and correction when needed.

  133. Josh Hamrick says:

    ” I really think its a tragedy to make comparisons of the gay community with a discriminated against racial demographic which is politically correct thing to do today”

    I couldn’t agree more. Well said.

  134. Josh Hamrick says:

    “The message a fat person ” = I’m assuming you mean a glutton?

  135. Josh Hamrick says:

    Xenia @ 131 – Yeah, that was kind of beautiful 🙂

  136. Andrew says:

    Especially when the Christian church down the street performed their marriage
    _______________________________________________________________________

    I would have to equivocate here on the term Christian. The church is a community of Christians. The church is Holy separate and unique from the world. I find it almost unbelievable to say that those performing gay marriages are part of Christ’s Holy church called the bride of Christ.

  137. Steve Wright says:

    Yes, Andrew @136. What I have tried to get Michael to see in his criticism is this.

    The world looks at two churches, in some cases they may even have the same general denominational name. They both have Jesus all over them and claim to be teachers and followers of Him. They both talk about the love of Jesus for mankind.

    But one church says repent, the other does not.

    When that is the starting point, as it is in America, how can it be the fault of the church that says “repent” when not only the secular world, but the sin-accomodating church calls them the haters, bigots, and homophobes.

  138. Andrew says:

    Steve,

    There may be individuals churches saying different things but there really is only one bride of Christ. Maybe each church is similar to the 7 churches in the book or revelation somehow but I am more of the opinion that some of these so called churches in America today are no church at all. But Jesus is in charge and let him decide. What bothers me more however is when a pastor or church seems to deny Jesus. This to me is much more serious.

  139. Michael,
    Don’t worry about it spilling over to Piper’sworld.
    He never reads the comments, as evidenced by the amusing comment wars that go on there.
    Piper tweets it, it feeds to FB and no one monitors it till there is actual controversy as to the tweets.
    There are no interns, Piper just throws things out into the ether without concern as to the consequences.
    Heck, Alexs’ profanities have been up for hours now and nothing.
    That speaks its own story right there.
    What kind of person doesn’t monitor their FB?

  140. Michael says:

    Derek,

    That’s astounding to me…and completely irresponsible.
    When the profanity went up on here last night, my phone exploded from emails and dm’s.

  141. I never said that Piper was responsible in what he does on twitter/FB.
    He sees them as close to sin if you follow him for a while. Heck, me and Matt Redmond made fun of one post about that.
    I sort of follow him for the strange comment wars on deciphering his tweets.
    I like Piper in some ways, but in other ways he is a strange man.

  142. Ricky Bobby says:

    Derek, the point is you called me a liar and I didn’t lie. I will try to carve out some time to find the thread and prove you wrong if I have to spend hours and hours slogging through every post for the last year or two.

  143. Michael says:

    Keep the dispute on Facebook.
    I don’t want it here.
    I’m off to hiking with Trey.

  144. Ok, slog on.

  145. Done, Michael.

  146. Michael says:

    Thanks, Derek.
    and you’re right…Piper is an odd duck.

  147. jamesk says:

    An example of what Steve is saying:

    Yesterday a fb friend, who is a former mormon and is now an athiest, posted a quote from Dan Savage about the book of Philemon and how Paul was condoning slavery. I the quote, Dan asserted that if the Bible got slavery wrong, what else did it get wrong. I commented about how slavery (bondservant) in 1st century Middle East was not always like slavery in 18th-19th century America. Some slaves were as such because they owed a debt. I also tried to explain how Paul send Onesimus back as a brother was a way of trying to help Philemon see people in a different light and a way to denounce slavery. Because of his mindset, he could/would not understand or see my perspective. I used no harsh words and did not make it seem as he was less intellegent, but used matter of fact language.

    There is a block there. For whatever reason, whatever has influenced his thinking, there was no way it could mean that. He accually told me, “Whatever helps you believe…”

    Whether we like it or not, the fact that we are for something, to some, it automatically makes us against.

  148. Steve Wright says:

    jamesk,

    I wrote a short paper on slavery in the New Testament era from a historical point of view. The sort of thing written for someone like your friend. If you would like it, I can email you.

    You can email me at the church address shown, facebook friend me or whatever – and I’ll get it to you.

    If you want to stay annonymous, ask Michael to relay it and I’ll send it to him.

  149. jamesk says:

    SW, Thanx. Check your fb.

    My point was, No matter how we frame it, those opposed to the Gospel will see us as haters, ect… Did the religious right get it wrong in the way they went about things, sure. But also, evil is increasing in the hearts of men.

  150. jamesk,
    An aside.
    I used to believe evil was increasing, but recently came to the conclusion that everything is just about as bad as it has been.
    When I read books on the history of our nation in the 1800’s, I see the veil being set aside a lot. I used to think the nation was “more godly”, but I realize it is the same as it ever was.

  151. jamesk says:

    DT, I agree. Maybe “Evil is being unveiled more in the hearts of men” is a better way to say it.

  152. Anne says:

    @119 Josh, I’ll let Steve Brown introduce you and others to those “nobody knows” behind the petition 😉 http://stevebrownetc.com/2013/05/03/g-r-a-c-e-boz-tchividjian-on-sbe/

  153. Ricky Bobby says:

    Christians* were slaughtering the heathen Native Americans, beating their wives and kids, owning slaves etc in the good ol’ days. Before that time period, the world was even more barbaric and evil.

    Social Justice, which seems to be “the” biggest sin in the bible (the real sin of Sodom was neglecting the poor etc).

    As such, the USA was much more “evil” before the social safety nets of today and the giving today from both secular and religious groups alike.

    We may see the evil in the headlines more today, but I think there is more good today then at any other time in history…and the evils of the 1800’s or whenever weren’t trumpeted on the internet daily for all to see or we’d see a lot more evil in the past.

  154. Ricky Bobby says:

    “I wrote a short paper on slavery in the New Testament era from a historical point of view.”

    post it if you have the guts. We’ll see if it withstands scrutiny.

    Slavery in the bible is endorsed and mandated in the Old Testament:

    You can own slaves as personal property, you can have concubines (sex slaves) as personal property. You can leave your slaves to your heirs. You can hit your slaves with rods as long as they don’t die. This is documented specifically in the Old Testament and was considered right and righteous in the bible at one time. That is a fact according to the bible itself and is self-evident.

    The New Testament permits slavery and encourages slaves to obey their masters etc and to submit etc.

    The NT was during Roman Rule and as such the “slavery” of that day was three fold: Slaves that were made slaves through conquest, slaves that were made slaves through debt and slaves that were made slaves because the child/person was born into slavery.

    Those are the facts. The bible mandates slavery in the OT and then endorses the practice in the NT. No way to spin out of it. It is what it is, but dishonest agents have an agenda and a narrative to sell.

  155. Xenia says:

    In today’s environment, most young people grow up thinking homosexuality is normal. Frankly, if it weren’t for some of the loud so-called “haters” I doubt if some people would ever actually know it’s a sin. Just the other night on TV I watched two lesbians lock lips as if it were as right as rain. While I am not happy with some of the harsh rhetoric I hear, too many Christians are intimidated by the homosexual lobby and mumble something about “God loves us just the way we are,” as Steve said. Boy, I hate that phrase. Yes, He calls us all but he expects us to repent of “the way we are.”

  156. Michael says:

    I’m shutting down all comments except for the prayer thread if I can.
    This continual contentiousness is more than I can handle.

  157. I thought everything was going good with the conversations until someone showed up. I do not understand why you allow him to control the blog. Every thread that gets closed is when he comes on. It’s disgusting.

  158. Ricky Bobby says:

    ” Yes, He calls us all but he expects us to repent of “the way we are.”

    But the fact is you don’t, you still sin, you’re still a sinner, same as before, unless you claim you are without sin, which makes you a liar which means you’re sinning.

  159. Ricky Bobby says:

    I’m guessing it’s the comment challenging Steve. I have to remember the double standard and pull my punches I guess.

  160. Steve Wright says:

    Michael, one of your regulars shared a story of a witness to an unbeliever and to that I offered a little assistance from some of my prior study. To which he accepted and the emails have already been exchanged.

    Not a CC comment or anything similar in any way.

    If something like THAT now qualifies as an acceptable “trigger” that warrants silly challenges and insults in reply – then all is lost.

    Maybe the anger is that jamesk was trying to reach an ex-Mormon who now is an atheist…maybe THAT description pushed the buttons.

    But in any event, I am out for awhile. You’ve got some decisions to make and I am with you whatever they are.

  161. Josh Hamrick says:

    I’m all for whatever decision is made…but it seems to come down to either banning everyone, or banning the one guy who causes the problems.

  162. Well, I don’t know who this RB character is, but a couple of years ago, Alex used to get so mad at the things that I would say about him that he would send me emails threatening lawsuits – these threats happened on 3 different occasions. Because of his licensing he felt what i was saying could put his livelihood in danger – not whether or not what I was saying was true, just that it would cause him grief.

    Now he is out on a similar campaign against Steve Wright – doing and saying things that could jeopardize Steve’s career. ministry and livelihood – even to the point of having a “call me with any dirt you can dig up on Steve Wright” page on his blog.

    I sure hope that RB would not go that far.

  163. Scott says:

    MLD, are you serious? Alex Greiner has a request out for dirt on Steve Wright on his blog?

    Tell me that ain’t so, Michael?

  164. Andrew says:

    Have you read the speeches and sermons from those days?
    Did not Dr. King lead with love and a desire to see justice because of God?
    __________________________________________________________________

    Did Dr. King really know God? I’m all for social justice but wasn’t Dr. King an Arian in that he denied Jesus as God? This is more like JW theology which is not Christian. I think this is important because we sometimes loose the bigger picture of who God is and what He has done. Don’t take this the wrong way. I am thankful for the great things Dr. King stood for and fought for but was he as Christian?

  165. Josh Hamrick says:

    “Did Dr. King really know God?”

    My guess would be yes, but I am not the judger of souls. I have read a lot of MLK, he seems to believe in Jesus, but is more liberal in his theology than I am.

    A small warning about MLK – read what he wrote or said, not what others said about him. No one that I know has been victim of worse negative propaganda.

  166. “…wasn’t Dr. King an Arian…?”

    Wow, I had to reread that. Ironic 😉

  167. One letter changes everything

  168. Scott says:

    MLD & Josh, thanks but no thanks on the link. I don’t have the will or desire to peruse that kind of garbage. I am wondering though, if the man is still posting here using a pseudonym, why is that even being allowed in light of this? There is something intrinsically evil about this that requires some sort of response.

  169. Michael says:

    Tentatively…I’ve got some back end work that I need to have it up to see. We’ll see how it goes… 🙂

  170. Good for you! I have been taking some “nice” pills this week… so we will see how it goes. 🙂

  171. Hey,
    I liked the idea of The Bookshelf, where we could share what we were reading.

  172. Michael says:

    I like it too…so maybe it just became a regular feature. 🙂

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