Jan 242013
 

I have this file in my head…it’s called the “things I know that I can’t write about” file.

It’s full of scandals and shameful actions taken by people who claim to be leaders of the people of God.

I can’t talk about them because I don’t have the documentation, because people won’t go on record, because sometimes it would hurt innocent people more than it would the perpetrators of the shame.

They are things I believe to be true, but I can’t do a thing to change them.

That file opens when I see them showing off their “holiness” and “godliness” to the masses or getting ready for their next conference .

It opens itself when I watch their blinded followers willingly enable them to do as they please…and I know they would turn and rend me before they would believe the truth about their idols.

It opens in the night and reads its contents aloud when I try to sleep.

I wonder if God sees.

He has access to the same files…

I climb the stairs to the second floor of the mall and can barely catch my breath…I have to hold the rail and strain for air.

The child sees the fear in my eyes and I see it in his and we both try to un see what we just saw.

I wonder if God sees.

It’s 21 degrees in the freezing fog and the words on her cardboard sign are running from the damp, cold air.

They say she’s short on rent and any amount will help but we don’t have any amount left either and I wonder if He sees.

My email is full every day with stories of divorces pending, and children at risk , and hearts in pieces.

I read them to God and ask Him if He sees.

When Hagar fled to the desert because the wife of the father of our faith abused her mightily, the angel of the Lord met her there.

That angel was a theophany, an older Testament appearance of Jesus.

Jesus met the broken and abused in her desert and when He had counseled and consoled her she said;

““You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.””

(Genesis 16:13–14 ESV)

I guess that answers my question…and maybe yours too.

Make your own application…

 

  58 Responses to “TGIF”

  1. It was the same so to speak other then the fact that the documentation was concrete and continual. Horrid acts of abuse, children beaten so badly they became developmentally disabled, rapes, horrid child abuse, terrible accidents.You would see the “effects” in the people I took care of. I often wondered if God heard, saw or even gave a flying flip about it happening. Justice was done so to speak as the state had intervened perpetrators were prosecuted etc. Then there were the misnomers so to speak, a child that fell, drown, born with no higher brain functions, medication reactions and so on. I read these detailed reckonings of suffering to try to find some link of hope. There is great darkness, but when I read between the lines and dealt with the families and individuals I found the balance. Grace is not in a report, it is always overlooked in the psychological review, and the doctors report does not mention it. But the hug, the smile, the hope shown on a daily basis is a sign of grace. I guess God is often found in the still small voice.

  2. Amen. He is the God who sees…..but not like the popular song says…”God is watching us, from a distance. No, He is our Emmanuel…. the God who is with us.
    One day He will make all things right.

  3. Thank you for this Michael. You’ve expressed into words that which I could not do.

    This is a place where transparency and honesty are held in high esteem, right? Well, I’ll be completely transparent, what you wrote about is the biggest stumbling block to my faith. I can believe in the parting of the Dead Sea, I can believe that a poor carpenter was born of a virgin birth, crucified, then rose from the dead, I can believe in heaven, hell and a creator. Believe it or not, I’m gulliable, I’m so willing to believe, so wanting to believe…

    But the biggest stumbling blocks for me is… where is the God who takes care of the fatherless orphans? Where is the God who takes care of the sick and needy? Where is the God of justice towards unspeakable crimes, that may even happen inside our sanctified walls? What happens when the promises of the Bible do not come true in your time, in your life?

    It’s tough. It’s a weekly, sometimes a daily, struggle for me… just to believe, to have the mustard seed of faith to move mountains, because dangnabbit, the mountains just aren’t moving. But we hold on, because honestly, what else do we have? We’re in the same position as Paul, we have given up everything to follow Him. So we continue to press on and to wait.

  4. I’m bothered by the question of does God see? But I am more bothered by the idea and question of do yog and I see?

    God occassionally does supernatural things but on general these seem to be stop gap measures because a He instructs over and over again and again for His people to do these things.

    So when we see the aliens orphans and widows do we cry for God to something or do we see hear and do what He has repeatedly instructed for His people to do?

    I miss this mark quite often, how about you?

  5. Ahhh, Michael. Such a clear expression of the struggle. Makes me think of Brueggemann’s prayer “Come of the page.” Praying for each today…

  6. God sees, and that is sometimes easy for us to forget. Thanks for the word today, Michael.

  7. “It’s full of scandals and shameful actions taken by people who claim to be leaders of the people of God.

    I can’t talk about them because I don’t have the documentation, because people won’t go on record, because sometimes it would hurt innocent people more than it would the perpetrators of the shame.

    They are things I believe to be true, but I can’t do a thing to change them.

    That file opens when I see them showing off their “holiness” and “godliness” to the masses or getting ready for their next conference .

    It opens itself when I watch their blinded followers willingly enable them to do as they please…and I know they would turn and rend me before they would believe the truth about their idols.”

    Back to being eloquent. Nicely said.

  8. Make Your Own Application 2–the sequel will be better than the original. God spoke through this.

  9. God sees! Amen! Well said Michael!

  10. Fly,
    Thank you for your well expressed transparency!

  11. Two questions plague my understanding about God:
    1. Does God see?
    2. Does God care?

    I believe that He does see and that He does care.

    I was reading Genesis 18 this week, and when Sarah laughs when she’s told that she will have a son, the angel says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”. That question hit me hard as I begain to think of “my calling to the ministry”. At one time I thought that I was called to be a pastor/teacher, but its been years since I have considered it again. I mean, maybe I thought that it was God calling, like I thought I heard the phone ring, but it really didn’t. so through some tears, I told the Lord that if He wanted me in the ministry at any point, that He would have to raise me up.

    Thanks for letting me vent and shed a few more tears…

  12. Amen, yes, He sees…… but this world is not His Kingdom, nor our Eternal home.
    I recently read a book by Mother Theresa. She was asked ‘where is Jesus when a baby suffers and dies on the street?”. She answered, “Jesus is with that baby as it suffers. The real question is, where are you?”
    I’ve mentioned before that I have also recently read two books by Randy Alcorn, “Heaven” and “If God Is Good”. Immensely helpful to me.

    pasiaslogia, may I suggest that you most likely ARE a pastor and teacher, just not in the typical narrowly defined version we generally think of. That may very well be a giant blessing. Being a church leader is a very strange life. Been there. Done that

  13. I have never been able to get my head around the inequities, the injustice really, that goes on within the church. When Israel wanted a king, it was because they had rejected the Lord as their King. Perhaps that is part of what is going on in the church today.

    I hope God sees. I hope He cares. I think He does and will do much to protect us from all of it, except protect us from our own stupidity and the fullfillment of our vicarious lusts that we think we cannot live without. well said Michael.

  14. Paige – Thank you. 😉

  15. I hope God sees, I hope He cares, I hope He intervenes in our lives, but that doesn’t seem to mean it’s always for what we perceive as “good”…it seems sometimes God doubles down on the pain and struggles, but He does seem to help at times also, there doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation to anything, though Reaping and Sowing seems to have some consistent correlative quantifiable results.

    I do know that “hope” seems to be psychologically important and has measurable physiological benefits on the brain and brain function and well being.

    Hope seems to be in and of itself a medicine or opiate.

  16. I hope God sees, hope He cares, hope He has mercy, hope for salvation etc etc

    the analytical side goes, “well hope and $5 will get you a footlong at Subway”

  17. “If you have a God great enough and powerful enough to be mad at [angry with] because he doesn’t stop your suffering, you also have a God who’s great enough and powerful enough to have reasons that you can’t understand. You can’t have it both ways. My teacher Elizabeth Elliot put it beautifully in two brief sentences: “God is God, and since he is God, he is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere else but in his will, and that will is necessarily infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably, beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.” If you are at the mercy of the storm [like the disciples in the boat with Jesus], its power is unimaginable and it doesn’t love you. The only place you’re safe is in the will of God. But because he’s God and you’re not, the will of God is necessarily, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond your largest notions of what he is up to. Is he safe? “Of course he is not safe. Who said anything about being safe? But he’s good. He’s the King.”

    – Tim Keller

  18. good quote papias, thank you.

  19. Paige: “Jesus is with that baby as it suffers.” AMEN – every pain you feel, God is hurting – we just naturally want to define God into an admirable character, a superhero come to rescue, if you will; but He is way more than that, way more than we can get our minds around – i pray that if your petitions aren’t granted that you won’t ever think that it’s because God doesn’t see or care … the only explanation of this mystery is that we have an enemy and the fight is on … (i prefer the word “resolution” to “fight”) … we can’t be more humble and dedicated than was John the Baptist and look what God permitted in his life

    praying that all will be comforted supernaturally with the reality that God really is there with you and hurting also; a reality and another mystery – a work of God the Holy Spirit

    just sayin … prayin

  20. Michael
    I have one of those files too. But I also have a file consisting of the things people, even pastors do, that no one ever notices. The hard decisons made thru seeking the Lord and were misunderstood. The times you prayed for God’s presence and He never showed up but you gave comfort and hope any way.
    “The discouragement,
    The battles that I sometimes won and sometimes lost,
    The hypocrisy I often felt in thinking that my being a pastor was insane,
    The times when I didn’t know what I was doing and pretended that I did,
    The criticism that often came from those who I thought were friends,
    The 24/7 schedule with work that was never done,
    The people who left my church because they “weren’t being fed,”
    The blank page late Saturday night and my reminding God about the sermon,
    The incredible guilt over my family and my ministry,
    The loneliness,
    The fear of discovery,
    The neurotics who hated me,
    The congregational meetings when I was sure it was coming apart,
    The hard road of authenticity when everything I did worked against it,
    The efforts at humility when people thought more of me than was justified,
    The questions about whether I and what I did even mattered…”
    And the list goes on and on

    As one ex pastor says “I try to tell mystidents what being a pastor is really like but they don’t believe me until they get there. Then they “rise up and call me blessed” for having warned them.

    But I also try to communicate to the students the incredible gift God gives when he calls us into ministry. There is nothing that even comes close to the grand and glorious privilege of serving as a shepherd of God’s people. Pastors get a front row seat on God’s awesome work in people’s lives, an open door into the hearts of God’s people and a taste of reality that nobody else will ever experience.

    Dont disagree with you Michael. Just wanted to give the contents of my other file to balance the contents of the first

  21. Alex,
    “Hope seems to be in and of itself a medicine or opiate.”

    Hope is what every person at Starbucks experiences waiting for the barista

    Grace is getting an unexpected espresso shot

    Love is when the person in front of you in line has paid for your drink

    Mercy is when the cop behind you doesn’t give you a ticket as you both walk out and he sees you were double parked

    StarbucksTheology
    ©2013

  22. Thanks Pastor Steve, for reminding us to remember the positive things that are happening . I had lunch this week with the mother of a 23 year old man who attends our JOY Place ministry ( http://www.joyplace.org.uk. ). She shared with me how much she has seen her learning disabled son change since participating in The JOY Place. All we do is love these folks in Jesus’ name… Sing songs of praise and worship and tell simple, life applicational Bible stories…..and God transforms lives. When I ponder on that, I know He sees, He cares, he is with us.

  23. Paps….sorry for the dyslexic misspell…..and thanks for the beautiful Tim Keller quote.

    GH….love the Starbucks theology…. tho I would swap the grace/love ones

    Brother SteveH…. I can relate to the things you listed… Totally appreciate your labors in the Word, in music, ministry and life!

  24. Thanks for that quote, Papias. Elisabeth Elliot is a treasure to the Church. Back in the 80s, wy wife and I attended a marriage seminar in our hometown that she conducted that was priceless.

  25. G, that was awesomely funny! LOL

  26. I’ll try to support my emotional side in my love for Starbucks and not question that love 🙂

    …yet the analytical side says my fondness is due to my addiction and all the sugar and caffeine in the pumpkin spice lattes! 😆

  27. reading down the thread again i realize that at #19 my quote from Paige’s #12 sounds like i was preaching at Paige
    for the record i wasn’t, i was just pondering (& pontificating – again) on that good quote from Mother Teresa

    ….

    speaking of Elizabeth Elliot, i so wish all of you could have experienced how the death of Jim Elliot and the others affected this nation – it was a moment that the whole nation was stunned, with deep respect for the men and compassion for the widows – i have etched in my memory LIFE magazine’s pictures and their respectful reporting almost carried a reverence – now? today even the Church doesn’t really mourn the martyrdom of the Saints all over the planet

  28. And, have to admit, Steve H’s was a good post. Lots of truth in there. Even us regular schmucks feel that way many times. There’s always a balance and a duality to things, it seems. Rarely is it all good or all bad.

  29. Steve Hopkins,
    Great stuff.
    I think it would greatly help that guys and gals in the gathering can understand that our struggles, doubts and victories are shared and quite in common, regardless one’s given role.

    Alex,
    Thx, just trying to have a little fun. Sure, find grace & love in the doing.

  30. just got an assignment, a labor of love to welcome back a comrade.

    Peace all, have a great weekend with family & friends and be sure to take a moment to pause and be thankful for the scenery, you’ll notice angels in the architecture

  31. Glad I’m not in ministry .. No new files for years.. Glad that CCCM will have nothing to do with me, glad to be cut off and on the outside. Glad the days of my battles on these kind of things is over, glad that I have not heard one bit of information for years. I’m sure people are still being hurt, but I am glad it is God’s place to see and he chose to set me free from any new news.. The old still haunts.. But at least my files are not growing

  32. Em,

    Though I was a small child when the Americans were martyred, I’m quite familiar with the story.

    Anyone who wants to find out about it can read Elisabeth’s book “Through Gates of Splendor.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Through-Gates-Splendor-Hendrickson-Biographies/dp/1598564692/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359153017&sr=8-1&keywords=through+gates+of+splendor

    Jim Elliot had a real heart for God. Elisabeth Elliot’s book, “Shadow of the Almighty,” makes for wonderful spiritual biography reading.

    http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Almighty-Testament-Hendrickson-Biographies/dp/1598562495/ref=pd_sim_b_1

  33. I read on her daughter’s blog a while back that dear, inspiring Elizabeth Elliott has been moved to a nursing care center and struggles with dementia and fragility. God bless this amazing woman, whose tremendous losses have earned the enormous respect of many in this life, but much reward in the life to come. She has never failed to trust God and give Him praise and glory. She never ceases to amaze and instruct me.

  34. yes, Lute, the books should be read… but it is nice to have the memory of the respect and honor that they were given as martyred representatives of our Faith by the popular press (the nation paused and caught its collective breath) – i wish we all had that moment in our memory bank as it was the beginning of the end of that, i think – i suspect that beautiful Elisabeth was on assignment from God, He didn’t want us to forget

  35. #34 – quick amen to “Mark Driscoll is a foolish man” – pray for a good outcome, a recovery from this tailspin

  36. Indeed, that was a good word for the day, Michael. Thank you!

  37. The names of God, including this one, would make for interesting articles. Granted, not debates, but discussions would be interesting.

  38. G, thank you for your kind words. I’m grateful I have a place to express them!

  39. God is still there, He’s still good, He still sees, He still cares. But He sometimes uses people for His purposes. And people who are unwilling to stand up to evil or injustice, or follow what the Bible says, I’m not sure that they are terribly useful for God’s purposes.

    We haven’t been taught much in this generation about what it means to lay down our life and pick up our cross. If we had and if we really believed in serving God in that way, we wouldn’t tolerate (as a people) a lot of this awful junk. We seem to be serving ourselves and our celebrities more than God.

    The church has lost its way. It’s asleep while the world perishes.

  40. #34… Brian, I have scores of people in my life that would be giving Mark a standing ovation because of what he tweeted. They can’t find it in themselves to refrain from slamming the president every way possible. I’m fine with disagreement but Mark took it too far. We love to draw lines and go to war with any and everyone. I don’t see that anywhere in scripture and it saddens me more people don’t seem to be praying for our president.

  41. Good word, E!

  42. I wonder how many people really know what Michael is really talking about in this link?

  43. @ Catherine….. #43……I have no idea. But I’ve been around long enough to know there is a lot of abuse out there and I am thankful there is a place people can come to and find encouragement and a renewed and fresh perspective.

  44. “There is great darkness, but when I read between the lines and dealt with the families and individuals I found the balance. Grace is not in a report, it is always overlooked in the psychological review, and the doctors report does not mention it. But the hug, the smile, the hope shown on a daily basis is a sign of grace. I guess God is often found in the still small voice.”

    incogneto nails it!!!

  45. “He is the God who sees…..but not like the popular song says…”God is watching us, from a distance. No, He is our Emmanuel…. the God who is with us. One day He will make all things right.”

    Amen, Nonnie. Umpteen years ago, when that song was fairly new, I was the worship leader for our church, and a young lady got really upset with me because I wouldn’t allow her to sing that song for a service.

  46. Michael, Fly on the Wall, Steve Hopkins,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  47. Ya, Driscoll sure seems to be an a-hole. I think he’d be a good church abuse blog activist or a good gun store owner LOL.

    But, maybe MLD is right and you guys shouldn’t comment and bash someone you don’t have direct personal experience with, I know he’s chastised PAL and pretty much everyone on my blog for doing what he said is such, however, not realizing the folks there have direct experiences with the guys they’re talking about. Yet on here, no problemo. Pretty sure none of you have ever gone to Driscoll’s church or even been in A29 (except BrianD) or even met the man or had him connected through Board relationships or pastoral oversight etc of someone you know.

    But, that’s just MLD’s opinion, so maybe it is fair-game for you guys to bash Driscoll.

  48. Personally, I think the guy is an a-hole from what I’ve seen and read and is disqualified to be a pastor just from his jerk-ness that is apparent and self-evident.

  49. DMW said, “Glad I’m not in ministry .. No new files for years.. Glad that CCCM will have nothing to do with me, glad to be cut off and on the outside. Glad the days of my battles on these kind of things is over, glad that I have not heard one bit of information for years. I’m sure people are still being hurt, but I am glad it is God’s place to see and he chose to set me free from any new news.. The old still haunts.. But at least my files are not growing”

    Glad I’m not in ministry either. Unfortunately, my files are still growing. Yikes! So much bad bad stuff. But, like Michael says, no one really cares, change is impossible in CC, etc.

    Oops, sorry, I forgot, I’m not allowed to talk about CC. I’ll leave that to DMW and others. My bad. Sorry. I’ll be good, please don’t ban me.

  50. Sigh

  51. Sigh back, cheese touch, finger’s crossed

  52. Either act like adults and have some spine and stop the passive aggressive b.s. and quit playing games and mete out a set of rules fairly (and I agree, too much posting is not cool, which is why I’m now 4th and will pick and choose my spots better) or just ban me.

    What is happening now is you expect me to conform to a rules that aren’t applied to others (minus the volume of posts, I agree with that one).

    Being contrary is allowed on here, saying “bite me!” is allowed, Jtk told me to “stfu” the other day (but I’ve got no problem sticking with “bite me” instead) and others talk CC whenever they want to (though I agree that too much is no bueno and I’ve cut waaaayyy back on here).

    Theological/philosophical disagreement and persistence in arguing/defending a position or challenging/refuting someone else’s position is seemingly what the emphasis of this blog is partly about. The “community” stuff is fine, I like some folks on here and don’t like some folks, same as you.

    If you guys are going to wear your big boy pants, where them and quit with the games and manipulation or ban me. I’ll agree where there is quantifiable valid beefs (and have)…but I’m not your slave and you ain’t my massa, and my opinions and my right to disagree or respond or challenge or whatever is as valid as yours.

    Sigh, sigh, quadruple sigh.

    That’s my last post for the day as I’m on a self-limiting goal of being at least 5th most posts in three months when michael runs the analytics again.

  53. Asking this question…Did Michael say “bite me” like once….or was it like multiple times? Since I don’t see Michael say “bite me” every day, I am betting it was just once cause he got tired of childishness and now Alex is running with it and shaking it like a dog with a cloth toy. And you wonder why people sigh.

  54. I sighed because I had hope the other day that there could be some civil dialog again. Alex you were doing so well.
    Today, not so much.
    Between MLD’s snarky “Alex knows everything comments” and Alex doing whatever it is he’s doing on all the threads…it just gets old and disheartening.
    Last comment on the subject. I’ve got things to do.

  55. Alex, how did you go from “Sigh back, cheese touch, finger’s crossed,”
    to
    “Either act like adults and have some spine and stop the passive aggressive b.s. and quit playing games and mete out a set of rules fairly..or just ban me”
    in a matter of 7 minutes?

    You shouldn’t have to be banned. Self-regulation, which to your credit, you have shown quite often lately, is much more desireable.

    For example, in your #52, why not just stop after “Glad I’m not in ministry either. Unfortunately, my files are still growing. Yikes! So much bad bad stuff?” I think very few are unsympathetic to that, but the rest of your post was nothing but a dig at Michael and PhxP participants in general.

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