Things I Think…

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65 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Terry,

    Like I said…not cat lovers…

  2. Dan from Georgia says:

    I can get behind “St. Michael the Really Lessor” being the patron saint of catdom.

  3. Dan from Georgia says:

    Interesting about medieval art and cats…I modified Terry’s search and typed in “cat symbolism in medieval art”….here is some of what I found from ArtRKL:

    “To artists during the medieval era, animals were seen as a reflection of society, and cats were a prime example of deviant behavior. Unlike dogs, these feudal feline friends could not be trained in loyalty—they simply came and went depending on who fed them. So, the rather odd appearance of the cats could be because they wanted their image to depict their poor societal behavior.”

    Link:

    https://artrkl.com/blogs/news/mid-evil-cats-why-artists-in-the-dark-ages-made-them-so-ugly#:~:text=To%20artists%20during%20the%20medieval,depending%20on%20who%20fed%20them.

  4. Xenia says:

    Here’s Saint Melangell, patron Saint of rabbits!

    https://www.portraitsofsaints.com/cdn/shop/products/LS.stmelangell_2048x.jpg?v=1571438637

  5. Michael says:

    They must have liked bunnies more than cats…

  6. Michael says:

    Dan,

    I accept the nomination… 🙂

  7. Reuben says:

    Thought 4, I struggle with that identity thingy too.

  8. Linn says:

    Phil 4:4-not as a pat, easy answer, but with the reality that Paul was in prison when he wrote that, facing beheading by Nero. I do look for the blessings/positives in the things that happen around me and to me. I often am amazed at how God blesses, even if I can only see it years later.

    I now have to return to the 22 blessings in my classroom!

  9. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    It’s a tough one…self sabotage…trying to work through my own…

  10. Michael says:

    Linn,

    Finding things to be grateful for…even seemingly small things…keeps me alive.

    Today, the sun is out and I have a damn fine cat…so today will be ok…

  11. Reuben says:

    I can not wait to have a cat again.

  12. Jean says:

    Regarding thought 3, What is your definition of “literal?”

  13. Captain Kevin says:

    “I’m hoping that upon my demise that cats will get a real patron saint…St. Michael the Really Lessor…”

    I like that!

  14. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Literal meaning that every event the Bible records happened in time just as the Bible presents it.

    I think it’s quite possible that the Creation and flood narratives are stories that are theologically true if we discern why they were inspired and what the message behind them is.

  15. Michael says:

    CK,

    Thanks!

  16. UnCCed says:

    Michael,
    Regarding “the Bible is not literal..,” in the name of His Smithness I hereby rebuke you-th (KJV added for effect)!!!
    I happy to KNOW all the references in the OT to “thousands” and other ridiculously high counts were the result of some dude stopping everything and literally counting each and every person/place/thing, because of course in addition to not dying from all sorts of things we now equate to persecution/high taxes, they were worried about American interpretation (remember “If My People…” was talking about American Republicans).
    It’s all very clear and easy to interpret as decades of listening to CC and other pastors has taught me:
    1) It’s all literal until isn’t.
    2) Don’t listen to those who teach the Church has frequently disagreed on minor topics to almost and literal jihads, all they know is history.
    3) Just listen to CC (or insert your tribe) pastors (God kept the real meaning for those who deserve it – I almost literally stole that from Mormon missionaries by the way).
    4) #3 Only works until it doesn’t, then the poor sod (and his family are uncalled, damaged for the same decades they served).
    5) Now let’s reenact one of our favorite “literal” parts of the Bible – attack the messenger.

  17. Reuben says:

    Now That’s funny!

  18. Xenia says:

    I do believe in a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. I believe the Scriptures report actual events but also there’s moral and spiritual meanings to glean from a passage as well. Obviously, God doesn’t have wings, etc. but I think that’s when we use common sense to tell what’s a figure of speech and what is a historical fact. I think people draw the figure-of-speech/historical event line in different places.

  19. Michael says:

    If any are interested in learning more about other methods of exegeting Scripture that believe in the authority of the Scriptures without having to explain the unexplainable…I highly recommend the “Lost World” series by John Walton and some of my favorite theologians.

    I’m working through this one right now…fascinating.

    https://amzn.to/48Wf9ZG

    “In modern times the Genesis flood account has been probed and analyzed for answers to scientific, apologetic, and historical questions. It is a text that has called forth “flood geology,” fueled searches for remnants of the ark on Mount Ararat, and inspired a full-size replica of Noah’s ark in a theme park. Some claim that the very veracity of Scripture hinges on a particular reading of the flood narrative. But do we understand what we are reading?

    Longman and Walton urge us to ask what the biblical author might have been saying to his ancient audience. Our quest to rediscover the biblical flood requires that we set aside our own cultural and interpretive assumptions and visit the distant world of the ancient Near East. Responsible interpretation calls for the patient examination of the text within its ancient context of language, literature, and thought. And as we return from that lost world to our own, we will need to ask whether geological science supports the notion of flood geology.

    To read Longman and Walton is to put our feet on firmer interpretive ground. Without attempting to answer all of our questions, they lift the fog of modernity and allow the sunlight to reveal the true contours of the text. As with other books in the Lost World series, The Lost World of the Flood is an informative and enlightening journey toward a more responsible reading of a timeless biblical narrative.

    The books in the Lost World Series follow the pattern set by Bible scholar John H. Walton, bringing a fresh, close reading of the Hebrew text and knowledge of ancient Near Eastern literature to an accessible discussion of the biblical topic at hand using a series of logic-based propositions.”

  20. Michael says:

    I’m learning a lot late in life…seems like a lot of wasted years behind me.

    Nothing that I’ve studied or am learning has changed my mind one iota about the Gospel…the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ and His work applied to us.

    It has stopped me from wondering where Cain got his wife…

  21. Jared says:

    Gap theory, anyone? Anyone?… eh, oh well. I’m down for a fresh perspective. Like a cat in a clean litterbox.

  22. Jean says:

    Speaking of the flood narrative, A Christian ought to consider (1) how Peter viewed it, how it corresponds to Christian baptism, and (3) what Christianity loses if it reject the event as presented in Genesis.

  23. Michael says:

    Jean,

    You’re assuming that people committed to biblical authority have not considered these things…perhaps investing in the book will inform you otherwise…

  24. Jared says:

    Nothing ever looks like we imagine it looked or will look. The pharisees missed Jesus because he looked and acted like nothing they had expected, but very much like Isaiah said he would. How much more difficult then it is to imagine an era that was so long ago only that only the rocks can tell you the story? Maybe the point is that it is the truth as God put it. Good enough for us and such a gift for us to wonder at. I don’t think he minds the imaginations of his children and is gentle enough to keep us in line with a kind word if we are really his. The Noahide world (?) looked nothing like we can imagine but very much like the book of Genesis says it did. I think you are both right, not that it matters.

    Parent teacher conferences leave too much time on my hands.

  25. Muff Potter says:

    I hold to the tenets of The Apostle’s Creed as non-negotiable parameters up-front and on the table.
    The rest of the stuff?
    I keep my own counsel and pick and choose as I see fit.
    For example, I believe there was a global (planetary-wide) cataclysmic flood that covered the whole earth.
    I know that flies in the face of accepted science these days, but so be it, geocentrism once had iron-clad math rigor too, until it fell to the heliocentric model.
    Here’s a real kicker that probably won’t endear me to some here, but I also reject the doctrine of PSA (penal substitutionary atonement).

  26. Reuben says:

    If I try really hard, I can go red letter only. I still have a lifetime of “doctrine” to sift through. I still have an extremely hard time with the god who created us sick, and ordered us (with the threat of eternal punishment) to be well.

    I do pray I find the right concept of God. I don’t read the Bible anymore. Maybe I will again some day. I don’t even own one. I could not care less if it is inerrant or not. I spent too much of my life toiling over the book, absorbing what everyone had to say about it, and way way too much time teaching it when I was not sure if I believed it.

  27. Reuben says:

    One thing that in hindsight really makes me mad was the perpetual justification of “the Holy Spirit tells me/us” followed by whatever.

  28. pstrmike says:

    late to the party

    “the Holy Spirit tells me/us”

    I’ve moved away from that only to find myself experiencing this in a different form. The Celts, Benedictines, and others (including most Spiritual Direction/Formation circles) teach the idea of finding God in all things, that is, God speaks through His creation. His voice is personal for the hearer rather than something that needs to be spread across the world. Really a different concept to ““the Holy Spirit tells me/us” which often was brought with it a demand for universal application, acknowledgment, and submission to.

  29. Reuben says:

    pstrmike,

    Paul said, “The Holy Spirit testifies that bonds and afflictions await me…” somewhere in Acts 20 I think. The point of that was the Holy Spirit spoke to him about him. I guess that’s sorta the way I look at it. It was probably only applicable to him at the time, don’t know if it is applicable to us as we have never experienced it.

  30. Reuben says:

    IOW, it can’t be universally applied, it can’t be universalized, it can’t be doctrine.

  31. Josh says:

    I told my sister recently that I stopped trying to find god and he finally found me.

    That said, I can’t understand him at all, and certainly can’t give a system for someone else to be found by him.

    The bible is terribly confuisng. I can’t even try with the OT.

  32. Reuben says:

    I feel that, Josh.

  33. Michael says:

    I’m enjoying the Bible more than I ever have…because I stopped believing that it was my sworn duty to defend dozens of concepts about it.

    One of the interesting things I’ve learned in the last couple of years is that there is scholarly consensus about a lot of stuff that we never knew about and a lot of working pastors don’t know about still.

    It takes about 50 years for stuff to filter down…

    What I’m finding is that the good news is really good news..

  34. Josh says:

    “What I’m finding is that the good news is really good news..”

    I can confirm that. I am finding that God is better than we ever gave him credit for. A lot of the descriptions we try to give, the apologetics, the systems, really don’t make god sound good at all. If you can get beyond all that, He really is amazing.

  35. Jean says:

    I think that applying fallen human standards of what is “good” to judge God is problematic.

  36. Michael says:

    Far from judging God, I’m re-evaluating what I’ve been taught about Him.

  37. Jean says:

    That’s good Michael. There’s nothing wrong with reevaluating what one’s been taught. I and many others have done just that.

    The issue is in the reevaluation, what standard of truth does one apply? For me the only reliable source of truth is God’s Word revealed in the Bible.

  38. Josh says:

    That’s all we got though.

  39. Josh says:

    Fallen human standards, that is. All we have. Everything that we take in, including the word of god is filtered through fallen human standards.
    I don’t feel like I have to look at something obviously bad and say it’s good because one traditions fallen human standards say it is good.

  40. Jean says:

    Josh,
    It’s the anthropology taught in Rm. 1:32

    How else do we get to trans. Pastors, church’s marrying homosexuals, churches affirming abortion, etc.

  41. Reuben says:

    And out comes “the gays” etc…

    I don’t think knowing God has anything to do with that. I don’t personally care what the “church” does either.

    I don’t know what the standard of truth is. I am not looking for it either. I just want to know the real Jesus.

  42. Michael says:

    So,

    First we have to define what we mean by “Word of God”…
    We also have to understand that the vessel used to communicate that revelation was human.

    We can still draw certain moral precepts from Scripture.

    I question the creation narrative as history, but I don’t question the truth of a Creator.

    The flood narrative was widely known among many cultures…and they all drew different teachings from it.

    All of it points to Jesus.

    I can’t stay wound up about all the moral woes of society when Jesus is always challenging me on my own failures…but not with threats of fire…

  43. Michael says:

    I have no issue with those who want to believe the Bible was hand delivered to a Baptist (or Lutheran) in ages past.

    I think modern biblical and literary criticism makes that difficult…but each to his own.

    I hold to the Apostles Creed, I’m certain about Jesus and the resurrection…the rest has become a great adventure in learning.

  44. Josh says:

    I’m not trans or gay or in need of an abortion so I’m not immediately worried about those things.

    I’ve gone two years without caring about those things very much and it has made very little difference in the world. No more people became trans than they would have if I really cared.
    It’s just stuff outside my realm. If someone in my circle is dealing with those things I will love them and accept them…just like Jesus does a sinner like me.

  45. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I’m a pastor…online and off…and I have to deal with it often.

    We’re all dealing with the breakdown of any moral order.

    I can’t affirm “sin”…but I can make clear the reason that I can’t is because it opposes the best God has for humanity…not because God hates some sinners more than others.

  46. Michael says:

    Life and religious trauma can shake us down to our bones…it takes a long time to reform a spiritual life when you weren’t sure you were going to survive…or wanted to.

    Certainty becomes an offense when you were taken out by people who were certain they were “saving” you…

    My job is to love people and point them to Jesus…maybe act as a guide if asked.

    If asked…

  47. Jean says:

    I’m often pointed to Jesus. It is always him crucified for me. The cross conveys two truths to me: first that God loved me so much that he sent his Son to ransom me at the price of his life; second that my sin, along with the sins of all others , put Jesus on that cross. I dare not trivialize the cross by trivializing the sin that made the cross necessary.

  48. Michael says:

    I don’t find sin to be trivialized in most popular Christian thought…I do find grace to be almost obliterated by the focus on sin.

    I’m an old man…not gay, not in any danger of being trans, and I doubt I’ll need to pay for an abortion before I die.

    My inability to love my enemies negates any credit I get from those facts.

  49. Jean says:

    I actually amen your earlier statement:

    “I can’t affirm “sin”…but I can make clear the reason that I can’t is because it opposes the best God has for humanity…not because God hates some sinners more than others.”

    That’s precisely my view.

    My only addition is that sometimes it takes trusting God’ Word to to know and acknowledge the best God has for humanity, because it can go against the grain of culture or our own self centered desires.

  50. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I trust God’s word about Jesus.

    A great deal of the rest is open to interpretation and debate and requires understanding (at least in a small way) numerous other disciplines.

    You and I would disagree about much, but that doesn’t bother me.
    You have found a faith you’re comfortable with.

    My faith rarely makes me comfortable, but we’ll both end up ok.

  51. Josh says:

    Didn’t Jesus trivialize sin? Paid the price for all of it.

  52. Jean says:

    “Didn’t Jesus trivialize sin? Paid the price for all of it.”

    Nothing in the passion narratives strike me as trivial.

  53. Josh says:

    The effects of sun in the aftermath. Sin is the loser here. No longer has its power. Trivial. Weak shell of its former self.

  54. Jean says:

    Josh,

    I think what you are saying is true of Christ, and made true for us through baptism (Rm. 6). The result for us being:

    “In the same way also consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires. Do not offer the members of your body to sin as tools of unrighteousness. Instead, offer yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead, and offer the members of your body to God as tools of righteousness.”

    I don’t see sin for a believer as something to be treated as trivial, if by trivial you mean that God doesn’t care what we do, or that sin can’t impact our lives now or in eternity, or that we can indulge any sinful urge without grieving God.

  55. Josh says:

    Let’s face it, sin didn’t stand a chance. The fight was fixed from the beginning . Sin was never a competent challenger for Jesus. Only we attribute that much power to it.

    I don’t think I grieve God. I think he dresses me in his finest robes.

  56. Reuben says:

    I have thought about this a ton.

    Sin is between an individual and God. The church dwells on it obsessively. So much so that it teaches people to hate themselves. Thus, we spend our lives obsessing over our sin, and the sins of others. If that is the passion narrative, of that is the way we are supposed to live, I’m out.

    I no longer think that is any way to live.

  57. Jean says:

    “The church dwells on it [i.e. sin] obsessively.”

    Been to that kind of church. Unless one is arrogant enough to think he’s conquered sin, I would find this kind of church a place to burn out. I did run in to a fair number of hypocrites in that kind of church.

    I think that is dictated by the theology of such churches, which believe that the gospel message is for unbelievers and that believers don’t need the regular preaching of the gospel, because they are already saved. Therefore, in such a church, the only relevant teaching and preaching is sanctification. Thus you get the obsession with the law and sin.

    In the church I now attend, the the law is God’s penultimate word but the gospel is God’s ultimate word to sinners like me. I will always need a Savior. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.

    I don’t mind hearing a healthy dose of God’s law, because it makes me yearn for the gospel and the grace of my Savior, and it points me to God’s design for my life and those ways of life that are for my own good.

  58. Josh says:

    I am glad you enjoy it. I am with Reuben.

  59. Josh says:

    I don’t say that with any sarcasm either. I truly am happy for you that you have found a place that brings you peace. I go to church nearly every week. I am a talented musician, so there’s always someone wanting me to play bass or guitar for their service, and I’m glad to do it. Music is a unifier it brings us together. I have found community with the musicians, and they don’t care that I’m a sinner. I mostly tuned the preaching out. I pray daily, and I even see my prayers answered.

  60. Kevin H says:

    I think sin is a powerful thing. We can all identify with the struggle of temptation to do things we know are not right, and many times give in to those things and end up sinning. Sometimes we put up a good fight, other times, barely so. But it’s always our choice, neither God nor the devil nor anyone else is making us choose sin.

    However, compared to God, yes, sin is weak. God demonstrated his defeat over sin triumphantly, completely, and for all time at the cross. No matter how often we lose the battle to sin, God’s grace is right there to wipe it all away.

    We need to be aware of and acknowledge the wrongness of sin and our weakness to it, and of course repent of it, but rather than fixating on that sin, we can rest in our Savior who defeated that sin for us.

  61. Kevin H says:

    In my years of attending Calvary Chapel, one of the many disconcerting things was the focus on the sin of others. Whether it was the sins of the “world”, or the sins of the liberals, or the sins of other Christians for not holding to proper theology such as those who promote the prosperity gospel (a legitimate concern) or those who didn’t believe in the Rapture the same way CC did (an illegitimate concern), it was always about the sins of “them”. Yes, there were always refrains that we’re all sinners and that we need to repent of our sins, but there was very little concern with actually speaking to and dealing with sins that would be much more common among the people and leaders who made up the local CC church.

    If we’re going to “beat up” anybody about sin (and I don’t think we should be “beating up” anybody about it in the first place), we should at least be erring to focus first on our own personal sins, and then second on the sins that are happening within our own church family, with the sins of “others” a distant third. Such an approach as to the focus of sin is what is prescribed in Scripture.

    I am glad that I now attend a church that every week encourages us to take stock of our sins, repent of them, and then rest in the grace and gift of our sins being forgiven by God. And when specific types of sin are spoken to, whether in the pulpit or in other settings, the focus is much more on those sins which those of us in the church are more likely to be struggling with and more broadly sins which occur more frequently within the church and by Christians. Sins committed by “others” are not ignored, but they are never the focus. And then even at that, “sin” is never the ultimate focus, but rather it is Jesus and what He did for us in regards to that sin.

  62. Reuben says:

    I think you are generally correct when it comes to CC, Kevin.

    I remember a massive name CC guy who talked grace, but perpetually followed it, obsessively followed it with, “oh but watch out for…” name that sin.

    His teaching was grace at a cost. You could only receive it if…

  63. Reuben says:

    I’m not sure that teaching is helping anyone understand grace. Sin centered preaching, just not sure that is any kind of gospel.

    Of course I am a heretic.

  64. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    A lot of what we hear today is “bad news” as if it were the Gospel.

    Grace has to be taught with words…and demonstration…like Jesus did…

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