Things I Think…

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69 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    Many excellent thoughts in this week’s Things.

  2. Rob Murphy says:

    What do we do with this from Ps. 139
    “20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
    21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
    22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

    23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
    24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

    I read a quote this week and I think it was an old timey dead guy that said and I’m probably poorly summarizing: ” I’m like a dog barking in offense at those who encroach against my Master.”
    As a cat guy, can you identify with the dog-like tendencies that I have?

    as a guy who trained himself in hate AND violence for many years I wrestle with this A LOT.

  3. Michael says:

    Rob,

    What we do with Ps. 139 and similar OT passages is interpret them today through Jesus and the New Covenant.
    Vs. 23-24 are entirely consistent with a NT ethic…the previous verses are not.

    Rob, you and I are more alike than you know…I understand the desire to pop people who I think need it. 🙂

  4. Michael says:

    Thanks, Jean!

  5. Captain Kevin says:

    Ouch!! My toes are sore now, but I need the reminder to repent.

    #9 – I’m not in any way a sports guy. But I absolutely don’t understand trying to guilt people who love sports. I love music, even non-“Christian” music. I’m sure we must both be headed to hell.

  6. Michael says:

    CK,

    I’ll go first…because I loathe most “Christian” music.

  7. Rob Murphy says:

    i wrestle / delight with the possible dissonance of the martyrs under the altar in Heaven crying out to the Lord asking (loooose paraphrase): God, please turn those who do this wickedness into a liquid form!” and God says, “Not yet”.
    Even in the all encompassing presence of God, his people want Him (are clamoring for Him?) to wipe out His enemies.
    that’s wild.

  8. Michael says:

    Rob,

    I think the cry of the martyrs is appropriate…they are simply asking for what was promised, at the time it was promised to happen.

    God says when He comes injudgement He’s going to balance the books…and in that passage He’s here.

    We are told to wait until then…because He’s still extending grace and the possibility of redemption to His enemies.

    We are supposed to be carrying that message of possible redemption and renewal…until he comes.

  9. Reuben says:

    Definitely can’t stand “Christian” music except for a few metal bands that are actually really good. I have been getting into sports lately, mostly preps sports and always baseball. I can’t fault anyone for hating on sports though, there is a lot to hate, like this new NIL mess. Transfer portal. Yuck. It’s ruining college sports.

    I have been trying to limit my hate, being mindful of other opinions is hard to do. Especially for me, I am pretty opinionated.

  10. Reuben says:

    I am reminded of Jonah, and I see myself sitting at the edge of the city praying for the mushroom cloud so to speak, regarding a lot of things. Then I curse God for killing my shade.

    Yeah, I need a heart change.

  11. Reuben says:

    And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

  12. LInn says:

    Michael,
    Sports? Good grief! People don’t have other things to beef about? I only care about sports when a local team gets to the finals, but other people should be allowed to enjoy them as much as they want.

    I do pray for some of those people on your list of “unlikables.” It happens when they come up in specific contexts and I’m prompted (probably by the Spirit, through Scripture) that they need prayer, as does the other side (which isn’t all that holy itself). My prayers usually entail a plea for how their actions will affect the church and her people. I can’t deny that God is sovereign in placing people in power, yet, He allows me to pray for them, too.

  13. Dan from Georgia says:

    I find that when I pray for those I hate, my heart and thoughts towards them softens. That is my mileage.

    Sports….MLB, NFL, and strongman competitions. I just don’t understand the near-insane level of interest in “bracketology”.

    Music…don’t like most Christian music…I prefer older CCM (from the 80s) as well as the praise and worship from Vineyard and Maranatha!

    Music pt 2…I love hard rock, classic rock, metal, and…dance music.

  14. Tim says:

    I would say, regarding Ps 139, that the answer to the question is in the second part. Notice that the Psalmist never declares he’s right, or claims that God is affirming his hate. He goes from asking a question and then stating how he feels, to asking God to search him and reveal where he is wrong.

    It’s very similar to what Michael posted, I think. It’s a blueprint. When we pray for our enemies, it often winds up becoming a conversation about us and what we could do better.

    I remember when my wife left. I actually got down on my knees and prayed to God. I remember telling Him that if He really wanted my marriage to work, he had done things to work out with her. Then I added “oh, and there might be a thing or two with me”.

    I had an image in my mind after that, of me handing God a list of things my wife had done wrong. And it was like he looked at the list, kind of shrugged and tossed it over His shoulder. Then Heclooked at me and said, “Let’s talk about you”, and unfurled a (very uncomfortably long) scroll of things that were all me to work on.

    I’m still working on some of them (that was over 15 years ago).

    That’s my take on the quoted scripture and Michael’s messsage. I may have completely missed his point, though.

  15. Nonnie says:

    Hate? I honestly do not believe I hate anyone. I am disgusted by men who are invading women’s sports, scholarships, awards, private/safe spaces,and other cheer for them whilst dismissing biological reality and the safety and fairness to women and girls. I’m appalled that anyone could defend the murder of a baby up to and after birth. I’m angry that tax paying citizens can legally have their home invaded by squatters and can do nothing about it. I’m upset that parents who speak out at school board meeting are considered domestic terrorists. I’m appalled that people can excuse the slaughter of women and children on Oct 7 and I also grieved for the innocents of Gaza that suffer because of their leaders. Hate???? I don’t hate these people. I honestly don’t hate them, I am angry over what is happening and pray God will intervene. God help us.

  16. ( |o )====::: says:

    Thank you Michael. 🙏🏼

  17. Terry says:

    #9 – My main beef with sports right now is the endless online gambling ads. Not my vice, but I have to think easy access and auto-pay could be the downfall of a lot of young men. I’m not seeing any tragic news stories, yet, but just wait.

  18. Josh says:

    Fear lives next door to hatred.

    If you fear them enough, it will turn to hate.

  19. Dan from Georgia says:

    “Fear lives next door to hatred”

    – well stated Josh!

  20. Reuben says:

    That’s a serious thought, Josh.

  21. Alan says:

    Mostly I hate lies and my inability to discern them. The great lie of the Fall was that God was an untrustworthy arbiter of good and evil. Thus we insisted upon sharing that role. Thus we cannot tell the difference in truth and a lie without legitimate revelation.

    I will admit that most of the ones I thought were frauds turned out to be exactly that. However, a fair number of the ones I thought were true turned out to be frauds as well.

    Good argument for relinquishing the role of judge.

    Still, never trust ______________

    You get the idea

  22. Michael says:

    Alan,

    I drive those close to me crazy because I accept very little without lots of data.
    I spend inordinate amounts of time doing research.

    Unfortunately, “data” is now made up on the fly and discernment is often beyond me.

    Our other issue is that most issues can be looked at from different angles…but the only angle that matters now is political.

    It’s very wearying…

  23. Reuben says:

    Dan, the Vineyard stuff was pretty good. It inspired 12 years of me playing guitar on a worship team.

  24. Xenia says:

    I can’t think of anyone I hate, although I do hold some people (public people) in disdain, which is probably worse. We have this thing at our Church where when we go to Confession, the priest asks “Have you forgiven everyone?” because if you don’t forgive others, God will not forgive you, saith the Lord. So that results in a lot of soul-searching. No room to hate anyone although we can certainly hate Bad Ideas.

  25. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    We need more distinction between bad ideas and people…though there are some people who are simply bad…
    We hear little talk about ideas anymore…it’s mostly about personality…

  26. Dan from Georgia says:

    Reuben,

    Our worship team in college played some Vineyard songs! I think I still have their music books here at home.

  27. Jean says:

    It tried my sanctification today when I learned the former president is now marketing and profiting off the sales of a new bible. How do you not hate? I can’t imagine how a man such as him can live with himself. Nor do I understand his customer base.

  28. Muff Potter says:

    Jean @ 7:26 pm:
    Some men have no conscience or moral compass.
    This has always been.
    The writer of Ecclesiastes said to marvel not.

  29. Dread says:

    “How do you not hate?” and the beat goes on.

  30. Captain Kevin says:

    “The Bible’s website states the product “is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign.””

    Bulls&^t

  31. Reuben says:

    Face palm

    I listened to his pitch, classic Trump

  32. Jean says:

    Sorry my comment disappointed you Dread. I feel like this Bible publisher chose a stinking turd to sell and a beautiful Easter egg. It’s hard for me to not hate, I confess.

    This is NOT about “He’s a different kind of politician, or he’s not a politician at all”, or “he’s a business man and knows how to get things done,” or “we need tough leadership”, or “we need a fighter.” This has nothing to do with his potential as a political leader.

    This has everything to do with staining the Bible and our Lord who inspired it, and giving the impression to the public and the world that this man represents Christianity and the teachings in the Bible. Every pious believer, IMO, should be horrified and upset by this. To add insult to injury, he is charging for his endorsement. I can’t even process that. I can’t process the silence of believers who don’t speak out against this.

  33. Michael says:

    ” I can’t process the silence of believers who don’t speak out against this.”

    Welcome to my world.

    American evangelicals love their idols…even when doing so is hating the church.

  34. Dread says:

    Reminds me of Islamic blasphemy laws and reactions. Didn’t know we Christians act that way about the Bible. Sounds like partisan rage to me.

    I say sell Bibles. No one has to buy them.

    I may buy one and gift it to you.

    On a thread of repentance about hatred and about prayer for enemies it still gets turned into rage hate of the orange menace.

    Shouldn’t you be blessing him since he’s the enemy?

    Amusement Dread

  35. Michael says:

    Dread,

    There are times when you are stubborn and unreasonable.

    I have fully disclosed my contempt for Trump.

    My contempt for mixing the sacred text of our faith with politics goes back a long time…you’ve been here long enough to remember when I was outraged about the “American Patriots Bible” in 2009.

    More than that, we are to call out when a wolf is in the flock…so even should the Spirit grant me a godly attitude about Trump,he still has to be identified as what he is.

    Why doesn’t it trouble you when someone is fleecing the flock?
    Where is your concern for the church?
    That in my opinions as sinful as my despite of the wolf…

  36. Michael says:

    As to “partisan rage”…

    Trump is not anything close to being a Republican in any classic sense.

    He is simply using people who traditionally identified as such for his own personal desires for power and money.

    This is not a left vs. right debate…this is marking an evil man for what he is.

  37. Michael says:

    In fact (because I just got done sinning against a representative of the state government here in Oregon) there are many of us so disgusted with the progressive left that we want alternatives…but the right chooses to prop up Trump and their own extremists…folly after folly…

  38. Alan says:

    I’m the guy who wouldn’t fly an American flag in my church. Wouldn’t pass out voter guides. Signed anti Christian nationalism statements when most of the evangelical church would not. I’ve denounced partisan politics from the pulpit. Rejected invitations to host political leaders. Refused to even attend prayer meetings that were clearly cover for partisan politics. I can go on. I used my voice plentifully at my post.

    I see a menace to human flourishing greater than exPOTUS but it’s not kosher conversation here and I’ve stopped bothering with it.

    As a leader of the flock I kept my charge to keep the wolves at bay.

    That I’m thought of as sinful here by not joining the chorus is of little consequence to me.

    That Bible sell is transparently clownish. It’s hardly a danger to Christendom and it exposes the fragility of your call in the original post.

    There are many antichrists.

  39. Alan says:

    And yes I am stubborn. Like yourself.

  40. Michael says:

    “That Bible sell is transparently clownish. It’s hardly a danger to Christendom and it exposes the fragility of your call in the original post.”

    Trumpism and the Christian nationalism that has flourished in his wake has already damaged Christendom.

    Any call to repentance is fragile to one degree or another.

    I am having a very hard time in dealing with two areas publicly…Trump and the trans frauds that demand we repeat their lies back to them.

    My reaction to things I find evil has always been to punch until I’m too tired to punch anymore…just getting this far to see it as sin is an act of God.

    I still believe that someday my calls to protect the church from wicked leaders will be vindicated, even though my methods may not be.

  41. Xenia says:

    Sometimes I think Trump kinda sorta wants to be a Christian, or at least identify with Christians, but he doesn’t understand- or refuses to understand- that the first thing a person who wants to become a Christian has to do is to REPENT of past sins, preferably in the presence a priest or pastor or some such person of Christian authority. And after one sincerely repents the next step is to ask forgiveness from people one has sinned against: private sins to individuals, public sins publicly. This is the first step. You don’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven without it. After all these years people can’t keep excusing him by saying “He’s just a baby Christian” because repentance is mandatory and is something even little children can and must do.

    A genuine apology to people one has hurt goes like this: Dear so-and-so, I did thus-and-such and it was wrong. Please forgive me.

    No “If I offended you” or “Here’s my list of self-serving excuses” etc. And especially no “I SAID I was SORRY.” And avoid the use of the passive sentence structure which puts the issue one step removed. “You were sinned against” vs “I sinned against you.” “You are loved” vs “I love you.”

  42. Rob Murphy says:

    I agree w/ Dread, and I’d like to revisit my first question because I don’t think it’s ‘New Covenant’ to be shrugging at the enemies of God. ** WE ** all have a bete noir in a person, premise, or people group and it is jejune to think that only the other guy’s gritted teeth are sinful.
    “How do you not hate” indeed.

  43. Michael says:

    Rob,

    I don’t think we’re to shrug at the enemies of God.
    However, it seems to me that the focus of Jesus and the New Testament is clear that we are not to respond in the way our flesh desires.

    It further seems that we are to have faith in the results of the final judgment where His enemies will receive their due reward.

    Yes, we all have those we hate.

    I named mine…and I’m trying to work through this in community.

    This has never been a good idea, but again, it seems to be what the NT is calling us to.

  44. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I don’t think there is a shred of evidence that Trump is interested in anything but using Christian for his own goals.

    He, like many others of his ilk, have succeeded .

  45. Xenia says:

    I confess I don’t see any evidence either.

  46. Rob Murphy says:

    We must acknowledge, however, that whenever Trump (referred to here as ‘a demon’, a ‘menace’, etc) comes up, it becomes a feeding frenzy – not a prayer frenzy – and – purely my opinion here – it becomes an act in ‘perfecting hatred’ by putting a very carefully curated coat of Christian varnish on that ‘sanctified hatred’.
    Again, my opinion – when I offered up Ps 139 – and let me be specific, I have actual people in my personal orbit, not some distant political figure, who I actively hold in great derision, whom I do ‘hate’ for their lying, slandering, and abusive behavior. I’m actively praying that I don’t hip toss and punch these people, these beloved image-bearers of God. it’s not at all theoretical to me. So, It comes off as patronizing when I’m offered a ‘New Covenant’ angle for my villain while someone else’s ‘demon’ is vilified along with all those who may have passing acquaintance or a common interest. it becomes an exercise of ‘inductive reasoning’ for perfecting hatred toward one but not the other.

  47. Michael says:

    Rob,

    I currently do not have anyone in my personal circle that I have those feelings for.

    That is a blessing and probably due to the fact that my current situations has made my circle pretty small.

    In the not so distant past there was someone who did my loved ones much damage and I had to apply the same principle I am speaking of in my own home.

    For years…

    The damage he has done will extend into the future, the wounds can only be healed by God.

    I am not exaggerating when I say I had moments when I thought murder was an option.

    I was obedient to this principle even though it made me sick to do so…as a result, the person has been removed from doing anymore harm.

    Nowhere have I written that this is easy…I am simply saying that loving ones enemies is a biblical principle and only possible with the strong help of the Spirit.

    When I look at the damage Trump has done to the witness of the church and the division he has encouraged in our communities and families…that I do still deal with daily…he is an enemy of both myself and the church.

    I am being honest about my feelings and the struggle to be obedient…but don’t think for a minute that this is simply hypothetical to me.

  48. Michael says:

    To be even more honest, this principle has been a struggle for my entire life.

    I have had nothing but contempt for my father and step father…the only thing that eased my feelings was their deaths.

    I never learned how to love either one of them, never found the grace to pray for them.

    Now, many years after their deaths I only feel emptiness toward both…the hate has subsided but I’m not sure that simply the absence of hate is pleasing to God.

    Trump is a public figure that we can practice on…or maybe his successor if that is your bent.

    In any case…the biblical example of Christ dying for His enemies haunts me…

  49. Alan says:

    The grace to love our enemies is truly a grace. It is not within us. We are exposed by it. I never had a hard time forgiving people until I had children who got harmed. Then I discovered the deception within. Michael you often speak of empathy. While I think empathy has become the cudgel that levers us into partnership with evil, it also is a grace. If I can see those whom I loathe in their pain I can manage compassion for them which is the gate to grace.

    Trump is no Christian in the sense of his core being kingdom oriented. He may be affiliated but unconverted. His driver is self, unvarnished self. I do not embrace the folly that baptizes him. But if his Bibles reach people then I rejoice. Christ does not seem to ask us to fight for his reputation in those ways. I could be wrong. He doesn’t fool the christians the I know who support him.

  50. Michael says:

    Alan,

    I think empathy is the key…and yes, it is often the gun used to force us into accepting evil.

    In many ways, I am empathetic to extremes not revealed online.

    I will not watch most programs or movies because to be entertaining they have to put characters in bad situations and it troubles me too much to watch.

    Do not even suggest that I see something where an animal is harmed.

    Yes, even my family thinks I’m weird.

    Yet…especially when loved ones are harmed, I see some as less than human…less than even an animal …my rage at their actions can blind me .

    I have to pray that God give me the grace to see something worth saving in those people.

    Trumps Bibles will reinforce the notion that the kingdom and America are one…and this kingdoms Messiah is the one they bought the Bibles from.

    I think the reputation of His church is of great importance to Jesus as it’s Him working on earth…but I don’t seem to have a lot of company in that thought these days.

  51. Xenia says:

    It’s easy for me not to hate Biden because I feel sorry for him. I think he’s a man of limited capacity, due to old age, who is being manipulated by some truly evil people. At my age, most of my friends are elderly and none of them, myself included, have the mental capacity to run a country. Trump is transactional. He will promote anything, even Bibles, if he gets something in return. He is corrupt to the core so those hoping to elect him to clean up the government’s corruption will just be swapping one corruption for another one. Still and all, I don’t hate Trump although I do hate corruption.

    Maybe someone will read Trump’s Bible but if it’s annotated to promote certain ideas it may do more harm than good. But God’s word never returns void so who knows.

  52. Xenia says:

    And old friend of ours, our old Baptist minister of 40 years ago, came by yesterday for a visit. He is a wonderful person, a genuine man of God. He thinks Christians should vote for Trump because….. reasons. The usual reasons, the very reasons I myself used the last election when I voted for Trump. I understand those reasons but I’m no longer convinced by them.

  53. Xenia says:

    To be honest, I think American-style democracy is a disaster.

  54. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I can understand that many would like to see a conservative elected.

    We would like to see someone more aligned with traditional ethics and vales.

    How anyone imputes any of that to Trump is beyond me.

  55. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Our democracy may not survive the next few years.

    I don’t think any of us understand what a loss that would be.

  56. Xenia says:

    Michael, every time Trump gets the Repub nomination, there were decent people who I could have voted for who got shoved aside by some mysterious means…

  57. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I don’t think it mysterious…populism is rarely thoughtful.

    People are angry…and they want someone to channel that anger for them.

  58. Michael says:

    Benjamin Cremer on the Trump Bible:

    This should break our hearts as Christians.

    I grew up in Evangelical Christianity, being told that our reputation as Christians matters.

    I was told that the ends don’t justify the means. Rather, how we go about presenting the gospel of Jesus matters just as much as the gospel message itself.

    I was told that “character matters” when it came to the moral failings of Bill Clinton.

    I was told that our scriptures were sacred and that we shouldn’t add or take away anything from them.
    I was also told that while deeply important, the constitution of the United States shouldn’t be treated in the same way as scripture.

    If these things are true, then how did we arrive at this point?

    Where we are willing to have our sacred faith and holy scriptures co-opted by those whose only interest in them is to exploit them for their own political power.

    Where we trade in the way of Jesus for an “ends justify the means” way of being in the world.

    Where we are willing to back candidates whose moral character is nonexistent and even nonbelievers are shown as having more bravery in calling out their hypocrisy than Christians.

    Where we can no longer distinguish between Christianity and America that we literally add the constitution into a Bible as if they should be treated equally together. Not to mention that they should be sold together in order to advance the political agenda of a particular candidate and political ideology.

    This should break our hearts as Christians.

    We can’t watch churches decline in our country and see our culture moving away from Christianity and still wonder why.

    It is this kind of behavior, this action of selling the soul and integrity of our public witness for the sake of political control that is pushing people away.

    Our way of being in the world is just as important as the gospel we claim to believe in. We can’t crawl into bed with political power and allow even our sacred scriptures to become a mouthpiece for an empire and still expect people to believe we represent Jesus, who was crucified by the unholy union between religion and the empire.

    This is the message we Christians should be reflecting on this Holy Week.

  59. Reuben says:

    I’m obviously displeased with American Democracy. I’m still a Marxist.

    Great stuff by Cremer.

  60. Dread says:

    Good to see you around Xenia.

    And Rob — “jejune” thanks for that one.

    And the orange menace is now richer than Soros. Maybe he can buy some DAs.

  61. Reuben says:

    Hey Dreadly

  62. Muff Potter says:

    Michael wrote @ 11:06 am,
    “People are angry…and they want someone to channel that anger for them.”

    The German people wanted that too in the 1930s.
    They got what they wanted.

  63. Dread says:

    Hey Reuben

    Hope life is turning to better things for you.

  64. Reuben says:

    Dread, I hope so, just started a new work program today so kinda bewildered, but things are moving in the right direction!

  65. Shawn says:

    Good thoughts as always Michael. I have been enjoying them for several weeks but just haven’t had the time to reply.

    The more I read from the Stoic’s the more I am impressed by their ability to see through the thin veneer of how things often appear to be. They had a concept in which described the pursuit of pleasure as a “retreating horizon.” When I read those words they perfectly described the ensuing folly of chasing after things which are transitory and meaningless by nature especially as if they are the prize or goal or chief end of life. There are a whole host of pursuits would also fall into this idea. Politics, power, wealth, and even misplaced righteousness to name a few.

    All this inspired a new song which is really more like a poem or poetry set to music. The song embraces many of the aspects of Stoicism where it is compatible with Christianity.

    Interestingly as a side note some of the things the apostle Paul says seem echo Stoic thought.

    Anyway below is one of the verses and the chorus (if you can call it that). In a way I think it compliments, in my way, your excellent list and many of the comments above.

    Retreating Horizons

    The siren song played by the wooden throng

    Sailing wild stormy seas without sails all along

    Disappointing disillusion drawing into the adder’s den

    Tightened grip on youthful enthusiasm… until when?

    The moment age and wisdom together attend

    We chase illusion to the gallows

    As a candle in the cave flickering shadows

    Until at long last the past has gone… passed

    The retreating horizons we chased…
    are gone so fast

  66. Michael says:

    Shawn,

    Thanks for the kind words…and sharing your song with us.
    I don’t think we’ve had a song here before…

  67. Josh says:

    There we that guy Gary who used to share a verse here and there.

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