Things I Think…

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25 Responses

  1. pstrmike says:

    A wise friend told me several years ago now that “if you stay in the dark too long, you end up old and angry or old and sad.”

    I still keep that saying close as I struggle with the darkness and seek a way out.

  2. Michael says:

    pstrmike,

    I think those were wise words indeed…I tend towards the old and sad, but sometimes I let the light in…

  3. bob1 says:

    Good musings, Michael.

    Couple of thoughts: according to psychology research, it appears that our brain’s natural default is toward negativity. The saying is, WRT our thoughts, the mind treats negative ones like Velcro and positive ones like Teflon. This has been very helpful to me. So instead of berating myself for having so many dark and pessimistic thoughts, I realize the need to pivot to more positive ones. The list in Philippians 4 is a great place to start!

    And I agree that anger and fear play a role. In my view, especially fear. One reason I think it’s important to stay fact based.

    I’m in the middle of a great book by Adam Hamilton, pastor of a large UM church in KC, called “Unafraid.” He does a great job addressing fear in its various forms, all the way from personal to societal and everything in between. Very balanced. And speaking of Yancey, he’s endorsed the book and says he almost felt his blood pressure drop as he read it!

  4. Michael says:

    bob 1,

    Great word…see what you started!

  5. Kristi says:

    I so appreciate this post and the timing of it…. I went to church yesterday and the message was on Luke 14 and the banquet…. Inviting others to the your table… the irony was that not one person spoke to me the entire time I was there. Even during the “say hi to someone new” time before the message. Just a sea of people talking amongst themselves and looking at their phones. It left me sad. Please don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times when I go to church and make the effort to reach out first that people respond to me, but there are days when I don’t have it in me to be the initiator. There are times where I wish someone would have the wherewithal to look around the room and see an old lady sitting by herself and would be prompted by the Holy Spirit to have some empathy and think “hey! I wonder what that lady’s story is? I should go say hi and tell her God loves her!” But that happens more in my head towards others. So I left church grateful but discouraged. I later saw a video that discussed the decline in people’s ability to socialize and have empathy on a molecular level due to the amount of isolation experienced during Covid. While I went to bed satisfied with an understanding of the why it’s like this now, I was saddened by it. I prayed the Lord would give me more chutzpah consistently to be the initiator of such things and to put my own self-pity on the back burner. But this post helps me in that what is more important isn’t the civility or manners (or lack thereof) in society today, but rather that souls are being saved and that people are meeting God. In heaven I will be greeted continually with joy and love and appreciation and until then I can only strive to represent Him in the way I look forward to being treated. I know it’s not personal and I know God’s will for me is always in my best interest. This post from you was very helpful and I appreciate your openness to be vulnerable and real. I’m glad for your pastor friends and for you. Gods’s will be done!

  6. Michael says:

    Kristi,

    I’m sorry that was your experience in church…it’s all too common.
    It’s hard to find community…and communities that do exist struggle to stay in touch.

    Covid just enhanced what was already present…technology and social media have allowed us to isolate into silos where we find fellowship around issues instead of each other.

    For those of us that are prone to introversion and being anti-social, it gave us an excuse to be our worst selves.

    Extroverts like my godson are having a terrible struggle just to find friends.

    We are lost in our screens…god help us all.

  7. Captain Kevin says:

    All well said, Michael. I’ve cut a lot of news from my daily routine. Now need to replace it with “think on these things.”

    Is #5 referring to a somewhat young, jazz bass player that frequented the PhxP in years past?

  8. Michael says:

    CK,

    Yes…he’ll be pleased with being “somewhat young”… 🙂

  9. Kevin H says:

    I just googled the age of the somewhat young, jazz bass player and found he was born 6 months before me.

    That makes me “slightly more somewhat young”. 🙂

  10. Michael says:

    I have jerseys older than both of you…I think I’m “somewhat old”….

  11. DavidM says:

    I want to commend Kristi for thoughtful reflection on her experience at church. Thank you for not being a victim but for thinking through it all. Still feeling disappointment but learning from it and seeing it as a reminder of what you as an individual can do. I hope we all can take that approach when others disappoint us. God bless you!

  12. Dan from Georgia says:

    Good thoughts Michael and thanks for the reminder. I unfortunately spend way too much time on a news site masquerading (not sure if I spelled that correct) as a Christian news site (the Christian Post), reading comments from koolaid drinking people, all the while wondering what the heck am I doing this for?

  13. Michael says:

    DavidM,

    Your pastors heart always comes through…thank you.

  14. Muff Potter says:

    Nr. 10 is super-good advice.
    Mrs. Muff and me adopted a little dog from the shelter several years ago.
    We named him Billy.
    I’ve learned more about life and love with Billy than I ever learned from the Bible and Christianity.

  15. Michael says:

    Dan,

    Thanks, my friend.

    I would highly recommend you stay away from stuff like that.
    I used to peruse them like one peruses a car wreck as you drive by.

    Those sites and those comments will do you much harm…while making those on the site feel justified by their numbers.

    Run away!

  16. Michael says:

    Muff,

    I’m a faithful Christian…but my cats help keep me in the faith…

  17. Victoria Noble says:

    I truly enjoyed reading Kristi’s comment, especially this:
    “In heaven I will be greeted continually with joy and love and appreciation and until then I can only strive to represent Him in the way I look forward to being treated. I know it’s not personal and I know God’s will for me is always in my best interest.”

    I pray I’ll remember this when feeling lonely or ignored. I also pray that I’ll reach out more and tell people God loves them.

  18. Michael says:

    Victoria,

    Well said…and thank you.

  19. Linn says:

    #3 Michael,
    For many years I have gotten up, fed the cat (priorities), made coffee, and headed to my armchair for my Bible time (and I will confess that there are days when I miss this time, but I try to keep it fairly regular). Starting my day off with Scripture/prayer sets a better tone for my day. I catch up on the news riding into work. I do keep up with the news, but I try to keep perspective. God is in control, although it may not look like it. His essential character (all the things i read about him in the Scriptures) has not ever changed. When I pray, I go through the attributes of God alphabetically, choosing one attribute per day per letter. Again, knowing that God is abundant (in mercy, love, justice, etc-A was the letter for today) helps give me perspective on the dismaying news that comes at each one of us each day.

    As Yancey so clearly describes in the quote that the reader gave, so much of the news isn’t as bad as it appears (although some is actually worse). And, He is working! I think of the many ministries my church has to our neighbors-food distribution, tutoring, a preschool that is serving a number of pre-Christian families, a home school group, the ESL class. They are small ministries, but if you took all the churches in our cities that are doing similar things, you would find that a lot of positive good is going on.

    At the height of the COVID deaths and quarantines, and feeling overwhelmed by teaching 250 students online, I realized that I needed a change in my thinking. I also needed to be around more people who didn’t exist in little boxes in cyberspace. I started taking walks around the block a few times a day. I met neighbors that i had never met. I gave some helpful advice to some parents who had kids in Zoom School. I watched as my neighbors made our mobile home park beautiful by enlarging and adding to their gardens. I found some peace in solace in a very simple activity.

    So that old saying of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) still holds. We can’t avoid all the bad news, and some of it we need to know (I think of the fires and knowing where to go/not go from a few years ago), but we can also trust God to give us wisdom to deal with the information in a positive and constructive way. Just my thoughts, and I really appreciated your post.

  20. The New Victor says:

    The news that Finland is the happiest country on earth is making the rounds again. The implication is that we need to be more like Finland. A few more astute observers, however, have noted that it’s in their national character not to complain and be satisfied with their lot in life, for the most part. That is not in American character (I can’t speak for the readers here from other western countries). All we do is complain.

    Sure, it’s effected great changes in the past, often needed, but it’s also generated negative social Contagion such that few are happy (and are shamed for being so) and every day is a crisis. Their are enough crises at the personal level to deal with. Hopelessness breeds defeat and anger… and violence which is an all consuming fire.

  21. Michael says:

    Linn,

    That was excellent…well done.
    Lots of good words here today…

  22. Michael says:

    TNV,

    Well said…your last paragraph says it all.

  23. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Americans who want the US to be more like Finland are never thinking of the part of having to fend off a direct invasion from Russia in 1939.

  24. TheAlpinist says:

    Mmmm the problem though is that things are not getting better. I’m a millennial and although I have a decent job and secure housing this economy is a sham and everyone knows it. Have you seen housing prices lately? Have you seen the scores of homeless on the streets and price inflation? Life was much better for Baby Boomers. The world is also in much worse shape than my parents generation. If you look beneath the numbers you will see that the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger. To boot the Western church is in shambles.

  25. Michael says:

    TheAlpinist,

    I didn’t want this to pass without notice.
    In some ways you are right…it is much tougher for young people to make it in this world than it was for my generation and the one that came before.
    The wealth gap is huge and yes, the church is a mess.

    My godson is 21 and I deal with these realities every day.

    Still…we’re here.
    We have to find a way to move forward in hope and change…and you younger ones will have to lead the way.

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