Things I Think…

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50 Responses

  1. Terry says:

    #4. The linked article hits me on more than an ideological way. I grew up in the same area and at the same time.
    https://kansasreflector.com/2024/03/31/want-to-make-america-a-christian-nation-then-lets-talk-faith-fact-and-disappointment/

  2. Michael says:

    Terry,

    Interesting piece…thanks!

  3. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael,

    You thought #2…very counter to what many in the Church doing these days. Many want to eliminate/cancel anyone we consider an enemy, and swear and curse at them in the process.

  4. Michael says:

    Dan,

    Jesus knows what Judas is all about…yet, He washes his feet and extends to him the bread…an act that honored the person receiving it.

    What are we supposed to do with that?

  5. Jean says:

    We are supposed to acknowledge that Jesus loved his enemies (don’t forget that Peter denied him 3 times and Paul persecuted the church and was complicit in the murder of Stephen), and as his disciples we are called to follow his example.

  6. Muff Potter says:

    A ‘Christian Theocracy’ huh?
    It would be as brutal a dictatorship as any the world has seen.

  7. Elena says:

    Not very well on #3, I feel that my bucket is empty, when it comes to certain people.
    On the other hand, I found myself crying, in the middle of the night, to Jesus to clean my heart as He did with the temple in John 2:15.

  8. Michael says:

    Elena,

    We are all empty when to comes to someone or a group of someones…you already know the remedy.
    Always good to see you here…hope you are well, my friend.

  9. Shawn says:

    #6- In my estimation the correlation is obvious. Long ago the modern church decided it would be run like a corporation. So, there you have it.

    Over the years I have searched openings for pastor’s jobs and it always struck me that what they were looking for was a CEO and not an actual pastor.

    Hence, reason 1,572why I am not one or seeking to be one. However, that is always subject to Divine intervention.

    #3- The church cannot even love one another despite our distinctions what makes us think that it would act in love to a world with all their distinctions? I guess it is kind of a rhetorical question unless it is not. Lol.

    #10- I often have had my most deeply spiritual experiences, okay probably all of them, outside my comfort zone. I am going to my log of mental meanderings to write about it now.

  10. Reuben says:

    9, I always thought that too, Michael. A massive part of my regret for the past decade or two is that I did not understand what I taught, and what I taught was destructive. Hindsight compounds the problem. The tragedy is I explicitly taught people to hate themselves, and they did.

  11. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael (in response to your 6:48pm yesterday).

    Its a hard passage in a way. Jesus “knew all men” and he obviously knew Judas and what was to happen. Why would he still engage Judas in this manner? Was it just an example for his disciples? Is there something that goes on behind the scenes with God’s will and foreknowledge that allows for a change of heart…behind the scenes meaning that we cannot possibly know how it works.

  12. Bob Sweat says:

    #5 “……the most brilliant political document ever created. ”

    Even though much of the Constitution, primarily the Bill of Rights, was a repeat of prior English laws, I agree it is well written. However, it’s disturbing that many of those “rights’ were not available to everyone.

    I have been teaching the Constitution to students for over 20 years. In recent years I have concluded that I didn’t do a good enough job. I’m grateful that I still have the opportunity to correct my errors.

    Regarding the call for a theocracy, that was to call of those who witnessed Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. When He told them, “My Kingdom is not of this world”, they crucified Him. I wonder if they would do the same today.

  13. Josh says:

    “I wonder if they would do the same today.” – Yes, in fact, I believe we do every day.

    About the text – I’m at a place where I need illustrations, stories, and some humor. I usually play at a church where a guy is very text based and goes vs by vs through a alrge portion of the bible every week…and I just can’t listen.

    I used to think of the illustration type preachers as lightweights, but maybe its just being a better communicator, or maybe it is different needs for different stages of life.

  14. Bob Sweat says:

    Josh, I agree, we do it every day. That question was about those who call for a theocracy.

  15. Josh says:

    They do to 🙂

  16. Michael says:

    Shawn,

    Well said…looking forward to your list…

  17. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    We taught what we were taught…and everything we taught basically had its roots in some variation of 16th century Reformational scholarship.

    Turns out that there was a whole lot of scholarship that went on before and after the 16th century that we missed.

    It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have been intellectually honest and spiritually mature enough to look at the Bible critically and examine all the things that have been learned in the last 500 years.

    I’m pretty upset that I’m 65 and won’t have time to understand all the information that’s out there.

    I’ve been teaching for over 35 years…and in a lot of ways I’m starting all over again.

    Someday, when we’re both back on our feet, I’ll share some of this with you…you may want to teach again someday when you realize you don’t have to tell people that God hates them…

  18. Reuben says:

    I can’t imagine ever teaching again, but I would love your thoughts. I will look forward to it.

  19. Shawn says:

    Michael I thought you, as well as your more discerning readers, would appreciate this week’s opening SNL skit. It reminded me of one of your recent posts where you talked about Trump and Greenwood. I have to admit I got a kick out of it.

    https://youtu.be/RxhwjPgJGbU?si=d1JDNQ9BEvmA-fgL

  20. Shawn says:

    Reuben, I feel you brother. However, I feel that God’s grace and mercy, because God knows I need it for some of the things I taught, are immense and dense enough to absorb what we may have taught out of ignorance, denominational tradition, or many other reasons. It is sobering to come to the realization that God seems to be okay with imperfection, most likely even in the midst of, while the processes of sanctification and growth take place. I think I might need to really let that sink in.

    Obviously right now teaching is not high on priority list, nor should it. In time God has a strange way of making us imagine the once unimaginable. There us always room for the great interruption, “But God…”

    All we can do is hang in there and fight. Keep on there are many rooting and praying for you here, myself included.

  21. Captain Kevin says:

    It appears the SNL writers have Trump figured out. Now if some evangelicals could figure him out…

  22. Reuben says:

    I appreciate it more than you know, Shawn.

    I feel God speaks to me these days since my wife’s death. It’s a God I absolutely never knew before. Maybe some day the sobering shame will go away. I never felt I heard from God back in my preaching days, which is frightening. I guess I adopted the Larry Taylor type understanding, a mentality that many have grown to despise. I was not to expect God to speak to me through any means but the Bible. If God were to speak to me for some strange reason, it was to be disciplinary. It’s what I was taught, as Michael said.

    Speaking of that book, I had to write a paper on it, and I hated everything I wrote. I just couldn’t believe that mentality was valid, but I figured I was in the wrong.

  23. Shawn says:

    Reuben, If God only speaks through the Bible, which interestingly contradicts the general revelation through nature in Romans 1, than I am fit to be tied over my overwhelming spiritual experience yesterday while listening to “Ball and Chain” by Social Distortion.

    By the way I was NEVER a fan of most of the Calvary Chapel leadership stuff we had to read in Bible College especially the Distinctives book by Chuck. I particularly loathed that one as I felt it fostered elitism but also terrible end times theology.

    Back to the God speaking thing. It just occurred to me that if your expect God to be everywhere then you can expect to hear from God anywhere.

  24. Shawn says:

    Captain Kevin,
    I am not convinced they will.

  25. Jean says:

    “If God only speaks through the Bible, which interestingly contradicts the general revelation through nature in Romans 1”

    Shawn, is this from Romans 1 what you are referring to:

    “19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” (ESV)

    This is not a contradiction. “God has shown it to them” not spoken it to them.

    One other clarification, and this is only my view: God does not just speak through the Bible, but the Bible is God’s speech. That is the point of Paul when he writes that “All Scripture is breathed out by God”.

  26. Michael says:

    Those who attend the church I pastor know that if you want to set me off on a tirade, tell me how Good has to speak to one of His kids.

    God speaks through the natural order as well as Scripture and I’ve learned more of God from my cats than most preachers.

  27. Dread says:

    Our Father…

  28. Michael says:

    the Bible is inspired and authoritative regarding Gods plan of redemption. It is not so simple to dig through to find what the inspired text is actually teaching us.

    One of the Bible stories that always drove me crazy was about Cain’s wife.
    Where did she come from?
    I was told it was one of his sisters…this making the relationship an abomination, but it was ok since it was so early in the process.

    I found that unsatisfactory, but didn’t have the courage to challenge it.

    Now, I have no problem understanding that there were obviously more people on the planet than the “original” family…some of which Cain thought would murder him, one of which he married.

    That brings up a lot of other questions…none of which disturb me in the slightest.

    Then, I can start asking what God was trying to communicate to His people and later, to me.

  29. Dread says:

    I Co 6:2 Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? 3 Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.

    New Living Translation

    We definitely better grow up

  30. Shawn says:

    Jean,
    These are my unredacted thoughts and not necessarily deeply held convictions on the matter. Either way I am fair game for a little mental meandering. Now that I prefaced this post with that, here we go.
    Yes, that is part of what I was suggesting when I mentioned Romans 1. If I understand you correctly, I seems you are trying to make a distinction between being shown something (assumably non-verbally and possibly non-audibly) and speaking (verbally and possibly audibly).
    The Greek word for shown in the Romans 1 passage is φανερόω (Phanero) which generally means to reveal, manifest, appear, expose, or cause to be seen. There is no doubt that φανερόω can and does often mean exactly as you suggest. However, it appears that distinctions regarding the precise manner of HOW (emphasis only is meant with caps) act of showing takes place. In other words, the way in which the one who is shown (φανερόω) comes to the place of understanding what is revealed take place is not unanimously attested to. As far as I can tell many, if not most, of the passages using φανερόω are, as you have suggested, tied to a sense of visibility. However, most does not mean all…
    In Titus 1:1-3 Paul writes:
    Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior…”
    The correlation between φανερόω and preaching (speaking) is obvious. I think it is at least minutely possible that Romans 1 could lend itself to the possibility that φανερόω is not limited to sight and can take place through speaking and by extension hearing as well. The fact of the matter is Romans 1 is making a general statement about the general way God reveals Himself. The specific means, whether by sight alone or speaking or something unquantifiable phenomena, do not appear to be precisely revealed.
    Then there is an endless rabbit trail that could be had regarding the nature and extent of what speaking is. I would suggest that a wooden understanding of it would be at best incomplete. I suppose what I am trying to say is that there is probably a lot more nuance in interpreting the acts of God than would most of us know about and may be comfortable with, including myself.

    Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I do not have the time or energy currently to cross reference every use of φανερόω (NT, LXX, AG, CF, Apoc, etc.) to determine whether my suggestion stands or is self-negating. I reserve the right to change my mind or nuance my perspective on the matter. Lol!

  31. Captain Kevin says:

    “I reserve the right to change my mind or nuance my perspective on the matter…”

    That’s a mature approach with which more of us need to become comfortable.

  32. Jean says:

    Hello Shawn,

    My comment at 2:05pm above was narrowly focused on pushing back against the idea that Romans 1 would contradict a teaching that God speaks only through the Bible. I am not a CC member or former CC member and do not share the lion’s share of their doctrine. So I am not trying to defend their doctrine of where God speaks. I am only trying to say that such a teaching would not contradict Romans 1.

    In my own tradition, we teach that God does promise in the Bible to speak in certain contexts outside the Bible. For example, God calls sinners to repentance and faith. How does he do that? Through the Gospel which is preached by a human being. Similarly, God promises to forgive sins through the exercise of the keys (Mt. 16, 18; Jn. 20).

    If a Christian said to me, God urged me or told me to do X, Y, or Z, I would not debate that with him or tell him he’s wrong. If asked (if asked) I would encourage him to test that urge or thought against the Scriptures (because God would not contradict himself) and in addition with other respected mature Christian brothers.

    What I would strongly object to is someone saying God told him X, Y or Z and as a result he either (1) attempts to fashion a doctrine out of his new thought or idea, or (2) tries to bind my conscience or decisions by what he says God told him. For example, if a Christian told me that God told him that politician A is God’s choice for an elected office and every authentic believer must vote for politician A or oppose God, I would strongly object to that sort of claim. Similarly, if a Christian told me that God chose Politician A but evil forces stole the election away from Politician A, despite all evidence to the contrary, I would similarly object that that sort of claim.

    There is the risk that the Word of God or the name of God can be hijacked to support the selfish, sinful or foolish, desires of a man or woman. Trying to untangle in our own hearts what we want from what God says is the crux of the issue.

  33. Reuben says:

    I guess I should clarify, God has never spoken to me in an audible voice, just direction and provision in the worst situations, like miraculously. I would never believe someone who walked up to me and said something like “God is telling you…”

    That stuff pisses me off. It smacks of arrogance.

  34. Josh says:

    God spoke to me in ways I never would have believed in the past year.

    Whatever this is, it showed up at a time when my conservative Christian innerant sola scripture god had gone missing for a really long time.

  35. Reuben says:

    I heard that, Josh. My mindset regarding God has dramatically changed. The God that hated me is gone. The God who hears me and saves me daily showed up.

  36. Alan says:

    Reuben and Josh,

    Jettisoning the religion that was rooted in a legalistic view of the text that binds us to law rather than to the love of the Father is what you have fled. At least that is an observation I offer. But casting ourselves upon the mercy and lovingkindness of God restores our soul.

    The faith that follows Jesus is not chains and rules. It is relationship and goodness. I do not know how God is speaking to you now but he has not abandoned us in our pain and loss but come alongside us with his own sufferings.

    May the LORD bless you in what you find after having lost so much.

  37. Captain Kevin says:

    Amen Alan!

  38. Reuben says:

    I know it sounds cliche, but it took me hitting rock bottom. I tried to drink myself to death for months, lost everything. It was then that I actually “came to Jesus”. For the first time ever, I have that peace, even when all things are out of my control. It’s amazing.

  39. Alan says:

    Reuben,

    That is beautiful. That is the Jesus that has kept me. A good shepherd.

  40. Josh says:

    Reuben, it’s so nice hearing suck things from you.

    Alan, I can’t really name it yet, but I appreciate your gracious interpretation.

    It was certainly rock bottom for me, though Reuben’s bottom was lower than mine. The God I had spent my life learning about and desperately trying to please, simply didn’t show up. I begged and cried and would have offered any sacrifice for the slightest peep from him. Nowhere to be found.

    I staggered on for a while praying and reading the bible and still leading church services. Finally took a walk one night and told god I needed to go away for a while. He reminded me of the prodigal son story and let me know he’d be there when I returned.

    At that point, I let it all go with no plan to pick it up again. Jesus never went away. The prayers and rituals did though. Finally, on Labor Day this past year God spoke to me more clearly than I would have ever dreamed, and we’ve been talking since. He’s just way better than I ever gave him credit for.

  41. Josh says:

    OMG – hearing SUCH things Reuben. SUCH things.

  42. Muff Potter says:

    Jean wrote @ 4:40 am:
    What I would strongly object to is someone saying God told him X, Y or Z and as a result he either (1) attempts to fashion a doctrine out of his new thought or idea, or (2) tries to bind my conscience or decisions by what he says God told him.

    Isn’t it amazing what you (generic you) can manufacture from the Bible?

  43. Reuben says:

    I strongly relate with a lot of that, Josh.

  44. Josh says:

    In retrospect (and this is a broken man talking, I know it’s heresy), doesn’t it seem like we build all these systems, doctrines, blah blah blah, in case God doesn’t show up? Like, with these things in place we can keep doing it without him.

    If he does show up, none of that stuff matters.

  45. Bob Sweat says:

    Josh and Reuben,

    Thank you for sharing your journeys.

  46. Reuben says:

    I can buy that.

  47. Bob Sweat says:

    Josh,

    The James Taylor song has been in my mind as of late. “In my mind, I’m going to Carolina”.

  48. Alan says:

    These posts have heartened me.

    I lost my religion a long time ago but don’t always sound like it.

    LIke Magdalene at the tomb I must look through my tears into the dark place.

    She saw what her apostolic brothers could not see. Her tears were the lens.

    “Mary!” the ‘gardener’ said. “Rabboni” And the revelation of the Father was given by the Son.

    Nothing else matters.

  49. Josh says:

    Bob – come on bro! I’ve got some barbecue waiting for you 🙂

  50. Shawn says:

    7034
    I think something beautiful has happened here. I am glad I was able to witness it. I just read Psalm 133 a couple days ago.

    How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!

    It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
    running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.

    It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.

    For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore.
    (NIV)

    I never thought in my life that it would be the fellowship of brokenness that would unite us together. However, after writing that last sentence it occurs to me I (or we as the church) should have seen it coming all along. It has me wondering about the immense beauty it could produce in the church at large.

    Reuben, Josh, and Alan, you inspired me.

    The images once painted,
    Have since fainted,
    Once assured now hard to see,
    Covered in a desperate cry,
    Together with a million why’s,
    Former obstructions clear as can be…

    Through my tears into the dark place,
    Shines the light of a disfigured face,

    Salty floodgates,
    clouded lens,
    Out of control?
    Depends…

    Lead me back to Your warm embrace,
    In my tears and through the dark place

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