Things I Think…

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51 Responses

  1. The New Victor says:

    #8 is sad… and wicked.

  2. Xenia says:

    I am happy you quoted Tolkien!

  3. Terry says:

    #5 – Looking back at my experience in the 70s and 80s. People said a prayer to Jesus and got saved, and I’m not sure many were actually discipled after that. I don’t doubt their initial experience or salvation. But if they weren’t fed a steady diet of Jesus’ teachings, then they became disciples of church, youth group pizza and fun, Focus On The Family, CCM music and the Religious Right. The Charismatics had their own circus that David Wilkerson called “A Christless Pentecost”. The Baptists had Seeker Friendly Services, which means every congregant got to experience the most inoffensive message possible every Sunday. Deeper studies were only for small groups or men’s/women’s retreats.

    I don’t think I actually went verse by verse through the sermon until I was in my 50s, having followed Jesus for 40 years.

  4. Terry says:

    Ugh… I meant to type Sermon On The Mount.

  5. Linn says:

    Michael,
    I hope your move goes well and that Liam likes his new home.

    Not a word was said by anyone I spoke with at church on Sunday, but my church is not as rabidly pro-Trump as many. It seems like most of those people have left and have made their way to the CC church, which isn’t too far from my own church.

    I find myself praying more and commenting less. I rarely pray that s candidate won’t win, but I am there now,

  6. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    8. Those folks will probably never understand that Jeremiah 24 is about them.

  7. Dan from Georgia says:

    Praying your second thought.

  8. filistine says:

    I know I’m heretical, but I prefer Tolkien to CS Lewis. Good quote. Regarding #8–I recall an old CCM album title, though I forget the artist, “Get on your knees and fight like a man!”

  9. Xenia says:

    I prefer Tolkien to CS Lewis too.

  10. Shawn says:

    #6- I understand. I tried fitting in, e.g. following without question, until the questions were never answered. In the end fitting meant I was taken advantage of before being abandoned. I guess it is not vain as long as God’s name is attached to it. The last sentence is tongue in cheek sarcasm.

  11. Reuben says:

    7. Yep.

  12. Chris Long says:

    9. I hope Michael that that may include an open-heart re-consideration of my book, which basically espouses some views that are held by millions of Christians (tho still the minority across most of Christendom) and uses plenty of Scripture to make its case. I have to say that in the last number of years visiting this site has become an ever-increasing difficult exercise because the type of joy-filled, spirit-filled, real-life miracles-in-action Christianity I see on a weekly basis I don’t see much of here. I rather see a lot of suffering and talking of how we must suffer combined with a lot of pretty-one-sided political thoughts (one-sided it appears to me only because most of the ‘other side’ it seems likely got turned off – or run off – and moved on from these parts). This site’s increasingly become an ‘echo chamber’ for the same narrow views in thinking both theologically and politically IMO. Mostly gone are the days where there might at least be some robust discourse – whenever I occasionally visit these days, no matter what the subject it’s almost entirely composed of those in the same basic pond. By the way, a sidenote, but your #5 is basically how I ended up switching some of my own theology. I saw very little connection with a lot of what I was reading in the Gospels and NT with much of my Christian experience. As God started showing me things that highly challenged my beliefs and what I had been taught for years, I found after studying it out that I had no choice but to make some changes and as time has gone on, that has only been strengthened. Sometimes, no matter how right we think we are on something, we can actually be quite wrong and not know it. I taught and talked for years quite strongly against some things that I now wholeheartedly embrace. All that to say, I think your #9, whether talking theological, political, or just in general, is a wise approach. There is a great wisdom and maturity in giving consideration to those we disagree with not so we can “hammer them down further” or “gang up on them” but with a genuine openness to why they believe as they do and hearing what they say. A great prayer I have found when listening to or reading someone that I seem to be at odds with is “Holy Spirit, is there any truth here in what they are saying?” and then genuinely being open to what God might speak in return. Sometimes even if a person is 90% wrong in what they are saying there is still a 10% golden nugget or something we can glean which we might completely miss if we just wrote them off completely (as we are all apt to do when encountering those thinking different from us). Being open like that instead of coming at people in an attacking mode can help avoid the “everyone just shouting over each other” dynamic so increasingly common in our world these days. Blessings!

  13. R'as al Ghul says:

    The thing with #4, is that when Trump was elected in 2016, the masks of many so-called “Christians” and “Christian” leaders came off. Trump was already saying out loud what most of those were already thinking. Once their Orange Dear Leader and true lord and savior was elected, they felt they could do the same. And all the anger, racism, prejudice, xenophobia, etc. spewed forth which had been hidden under a veneer of civility, piety, and politeness. People you thought were loving, caring, and mature Christians turned out to be prejudiced, bullying, lying, sociopathic, as*holes. I know this from personal experience in my own family with a close, now thankfully deceased, elderly relative. Something I read somewhere about what the mouth speaks, reveals the heart (especially when the idol to which they worship and genuflect says it and when dementia and age causes the mask to come off). And once the mask comes off, there is no way to put it back on again.

  14. pslady says:

    As a person not connected to Facebook #8 is scary & just plain crazy!

  15. Michael says:

    Chris Long,

    I am in the process of moving from a small space to a smaller space and most of my space is occupied by books.

    I’m deciding what to keep and what to donate as there won’t be room for all of it.

    I won’t be keeping your book or donating it…because the premise is wrong and dangerous.

    I am bone weary of claims of undocumented miracles.

    I can produce CT scans and an MRI of my back that shows the fractures and arthritis disabling me.
    There are multiple scans of my heart before and after the surgery that saved my life.

    My mother is suffering from late stage dementia…it is obvious to all who see her.

    If either of us were healed, it would be easy to prove.

    I would immediately put my scans online to encourage the church and amaze the unbelievers.

    I have been the pastor of a tiny church for almost 40 years and a friend and pastoral voice to thousands here over the years.

    People have trusted me to pray for their needs and fears and I’ve prayed a lot.

    I have found no corollary between faith and healing.

    None.

    Some of the most faithful people I know have walked the hardest paths…they were not “delivered” or “healed” but have suffered to the glory of God.

    Should anyone speak that they suffered because of some spiritual deficiency in themselves, they should expect me to deliver some suffering in a carnal manner…even in my current condition.

    I have physically removed such louts from hospital rooms in the past…I may have to use my cane, but I would do so again.

    The primary marks of the Christian life are sacrificial love and suffering, not miracles and healings.

    We follow our Lord to a cross, not to the bank or resorts.

    There is transformative power in suffering that is found in no other human experience.

    This is not to say that God never heals…He does, but there is no formula that guarantees this.

    Most healings come from the ministrations of doctors and medications…both of which I consider gifts from God.

    My last few years have been filled with physical and emotional suffering…but also filled with God’s providential care.

    I see people in my physical and financial condition pushing shopping carts full of their belongings every day.

    God has given me a chosen family that is preparing a place for me…a beautiful room complete with a catio attached to my outside door.

    My church and folks here are helping with all the expenses I can’t cover and I’m prayed for more than most.

    I have awesome friends and a faithful group to pastor…they still listen though I often struggle delivering the Word because of drugs and pain.

    I have immense gratitude for all of it…but the suffering continues…and my heart is to let it transform me and use it all to the glory of God.

    There is great mystery here…but what is not a mystery is the fact that we will all suffer and die…we simply hope to do both in a way that magnifies Jesus.

    I’ll address the political stuff next…

  16. Michael says:

    The political stuff…

    Quit positing that what we have here are a bunch of Democrats opposing Republicans or liberals opposing conservatives.

    That is not what the divide is over.

    The divide is over one man who exemplifies all the sins common to the world and his acceptance by the Christian church.

    Many of us who have supported liberal causes or live in progressive states have seen the folly of such when carried to the extreme and would love to see things move more to the center or right.

    What we simply cannot abide is the idolatry of an evil man for the sake of righteousness…a bizarre expectation , to say the least.

    Had the right offered us a man of both character and conservative principles, many of us would have embraced that candidacy with open arms.

    I oppose the mixing of church and state in most ways…the church always suffers when it happens.

    We will not understand how Trump has razed the church grounds for a few more years…but some of the damage is already evident.

  17. Michael says:

    Dan,

    Thank you, my friend.

  18. Michael says:

    I confess that I have become a Lewis fan late in life…never have read Tolkien and I’m out of time to do so now…

  19. Michael says:

    WordPress has put AI in the code to “help”…what a pain in the backside to deal with…

  20. Josh says:

    Lewis all the way for me. Still love his writing.

    I just can’t sift through the Tolkien language.

    I wish Lewis had more fiction. Don’t get me wrong, the Narnia books are extraordinary from start to finish. Yes, they were written to be children’s books, but the writing is beautiful, elegant even, and there is a rich depth that permeates every page. The Sci-Fi series was also brilliant, just not as warm as Narnia. I wish there was a trove of Novels about all sorts of things and settings. Maybe that would cheapen the Lewis mystique and have him seen more like a Steven King, but I don’t care. I just want more.

  21. pstrmike says:

    “ . Not fitting in comes with a cost…but fitting in costs more than I’ve ever been able to pay…”

    I woke up to that fact about myself 15-20 years ago. I released the idea of being a contrarian for sake of controversy years ago. These days I’d rather keep quiet, leave them to their own devices, and ride off into the sunset and watch the dismal decline continue from a distance. I have figure out how to safe guard myself from being like Jonah……

  22. Josh says:

    Yeah – #6 resonated with me too. I’ve never really felt like I had a choice to fit in.

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    In my time, I have written a number of books. Four of the books have focused upon individuals, or, in one case, a collection of individuals. Michael, your comments cause me to consider what I have written. One book was on Athanasius, the fourth century Bishop of Alexandria who was exiled five times for his maintaining the faith of Nicaea. Another book was on Augustine, who ended his life with the sound of the Goths laying siege his beloved city of Hippo. Yet another book was on Francis of Assisi who in his final years resigned from the order that he had founded because it did not uphold his principles. He died almost alone lying on the bare ground deserted by many he had considered friends. Finally there is a book recounting the prayers of the martyrs, those who trusted God until the very end offering their lives as a witness. All this is to say that the normative Christian life is one of loving sacrifice, often in the midst of turbulent times. Triumphalism has no place among us…

  24. Michael says:

    “All this is to say that the normative Christian life is one of loving sacrifice, often in the midst of turbulent times. Triumphalism has no place among us…”

    Amen and amen…

  25. Rob Murphy says:

    @filistine, yesterevening – that’s Petra!!! I was listening to that song this morning.

  26. Dan from Georgia says:

    Well spoken Michael (8:56 and 9:05am). You put it much more precise and with civility that I could do.

    To be honest, I have a terrible place in my heart when I come across “faith healing” stuff (and I will use that phrase generously and without remorse) that I go to because of personal experience.

    First off, I have never been “delivered” from addiction. You would think that the thousands (not an exaggeration) of times I repented and asked God to take it away, God would have obliged for his glory.

    Nope.

    Second, I lost a sister to cancer in 1998 and it absolutely infuriates me that she got all those books and tapes on faith healing, etc from Hagin, Hinn, Roberts, etc. If I knew better I would have personally burned them and then tossed the ashes into the trash.

    People die. Disease. Trauma. You are not immune from it. Anyone who says otherwise is selling you something.

  27. Josh says:

    Every single person we read about in the bible is dead. All died of something.

  28. Kevin H says:

    Not Elijah. 😛

  29. Josh says:

    Mmm. Don’t get me on my problems with the Old Testament 🙂

  30. Michael says:

    Jesus is alive and well…talked to Him this morning… 🙂

    Dan,

    To be honest, I’m not quite as irenic about these matters in person as I am here.

    I have a praying church and I’m blessedly surrounded by praying people.

    We have seen His grace and mercy and we’ve also suffered…but we’ve suffered together.

    The idea that if we had more faith, things would be better makes me want to swing on someone…

  31. Josh says:

    But he did die. So I technically still get that one.

  32. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Michael. I long for that kind of community.

    I think that if physical healing was such an attainable and easy commodity to obtain, may believers would not learn compassion, sympathy, mercy, care and love.

    Maybe this is why miraculous healing is not so common, and certainly not well publicized?

    The whole “victorious living” think is just a selling point, a gateway drug, into a horrible and dishonest belief system.

    That terrible place in my heart? I have worked through much forgiveness and search for peace, but I totally understand wanting to take a swing at someone, especially when someone casts doubts on my sincere prayers.

  33. Shawn says:

    Michael,
    The video below is one of several I recorded because I thought you would enjoy it. Hint it is of one of your favorite things in the world.

    https://streamable.com/f9wssa

  34. Michael says:

    Dan,

    You make a good point about what is learned through suffering.

    I haven’t had to deal with the issue in years…I think people know better by now…

  35. Michael says:

    Shawn,

    That was the stress break I needed…thank you!

  36. LInn says:

    Shawn,
    Thanks for sharing your cute little video! (hope it was okay if I peeked, Michael). I spent part of the morning trying to clean up around the house, while my cat (a 15-pound flamepoint Siamese long past kitten-hood) played around the Amazon boxers and rolled himself up in the crinkly paper. Gotta love how cats/kittens make us laugh!

  37. Muff Potter says:

    Nr. 8 is a corker.
    So what happens when they achieve their violent over-throw of our Government?
    A reign of terror with Madame Guillotine?
    No matter what details emerge (Christian take-over), it would as brutal a dictatorship as any the world has seen.

  38. Reuben says:

    Kitten video!!! Squeeee!!!

  39. Chris Long says:

    Michael, that all saddens me very much. I could argue and tell you not only my own personal story and how faith directly impacted healing and how I would have surely died if not for what God showed me or how clear that is in the Bible and all that or how many people I have now personally known and seen healed of all sorts of conditions, but none of that will matter to you. I can direct you to video testimonies of a number of people I’ve personally met that have been healed, many complete with doctors with the physical proof to back it up. But none of that is going to matter to you. You have made your decision and you’ve hunkered in – and you have plenty here that will co-miserate with you and join you in your thoughts and condemnation of those that believe similarly in the mostly-echo-chamber that this site has become, of your own wrong pre-conceptions of the subject or how some wacky people on TV in years past may have soured such things. This was my “last ditch” effort. I will say no more on that. Feel free to light a bonfire with my book. 🙂 You’ve chosen, despite your platitude in #9 above, to let your pre-conceived opinion keep you from even attempting an honest re-look from someone that used to hold some similar thoughts as you but now is on the other side and has a book that makes the case Scripturally (specifically ch9-10 make the healing/faith connection absolutely irrefutable Scripturally – and BTW, I’ve been around these parts long enough to remember when you yourself used to acknowledge that Scriptural reality…). I guess all that remains is for you to go see Jesus and until then keep talking about your suffering along the way, all the while criticizing that which you do not understand. That’s fine – we will have some great discussions when we’re together with Jesus in the Kingdom for all eternity when we all shall fully know and see. 🙂 I bless you my brother and all here. I got a busy week and as I said, mostly this place just depresses me these days, so I’m out, but my love to all.

  40. Michael says:

    Chris,

    I would note that you have two lengthy comments here in the echo chamber…go in peace.

  41. Reuben says:

    Reminds me of a Vineyard guy I ran from… wow.

  42. Reuben says:

    Probably a book plug…

  43. Captain Kevin says:

    I used to be one of those “just pray and read your Bible more” kind of guys. No compassion for those with chronic pain and/or depression. Then almost 20 years I got knocked on my arse with fibromyalgia, which in my case, came with chronic pain, chronic fatigue and depression.

    My interactions with those who suffer changed significantly. Would I like to be healed? Absolutely. Nonetheless, while I pray for that, I also thank God for the empathy and compassion He’s given me for others. I don’t fit in with the “Act Like a Man” crowd.

  44. R'as al Ghul says:

    One needs to remember that poor Lazarus died…TWICE.

  45. R'as al Ghul says:

    “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

    But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.

    But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something. That there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”

  46. Shawn says:

    A well placed Tolkien quote indeed.

  47. Jerod says:

    #5 Not just you

    #8 Commemoro, Barabbas anyone? R’as?

  48. Jerod says:

    I don’t speak latin but Chat4 does, lol

  49. Dan from Georgia says:

    Love that LOTR quote R’as!

  50. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael…I keep thinking what your Catio looks like. Do they have their own big screen TV? Mini-fridge? Do they have their own couches with cardboard in place of upholstery?

  51. Michael says:

    Dan,

    They have a table, a chair, a bathroom, dining, toys, and a large cat tree. They also have cat friendly plants and grasses. There is tv available in my room with additional seating… 🙂

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