Dec 292014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. 2014 was a year when God’s strength was made known to me through my weakness. Unemployment and poor health for myself and my family left me dependent on the grace and love of God.

To my wonder, we’re all still here, ready to try a new year on for size.

 

There are things you only learn in the grip of affliction…things concerning yourself and your God.

His severe mercies will shake you to your core and the shaking begins with the admission of your weakness. There are few other confessions more odious to our nature, but as vital to becoming the person God is making you to be.

He is faithful…even we we aren’t.

2. One of the things I’m most thankful for are those people who helped me in my afflictions while they were afflicted themselves…nothing speaks more of Christ than that.

3. I don’t know what 2015 holds, but I know Who holds it. Because I am convinced that I serve an omnipotent Creator who calls something from nothing, who creates beauty from ashes…I have every reason for hope.

4. Writing a blog and writing a book require two different skill sets…one I have mastered and one that is mastering me.

5. The decline and eventual fall of American celebrity evangelicalism as we know it began with the collapse of the Mars Hill empire. The ability to control a narrative is no longer only in the hands of those with access to the “major media”, but in the hands of anyone who is willing to speak the truth online. The internet has leveled the field.

6. It is disturbing and odd to me that with the explosion of sound theological teaching available to the masses online there doesn’t seem to be any increase in actual biblical and theological literacy. That doesn’t compute…

7. I’ve never felt more estranged as a Christian from the culture and society as I have in the last year…true believers have always been marked as different, now the difference has a negative stigma attached to it everywhere you look.

8. The single best thing I did last year for my emotional and spiritual health was to discipline myself  concerning time online. I may miss some good stuff, but I miss a lot more nonsense in the bargain.

9. It’s a source of intense irritation to me that people who would never think of speaking ill of other faiths feel very comfortable ripping the Christian faith at every turn. Evidently some “progressives” need to make some more progress…

10. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your online world for another year. It was a struggle for me at times and the quality of the writing and thought was uneven at best, but we showed up. Sometimes that’s the most effective ministry you can have…

  32 Responses to “Things I Think”

  1. Thank you. Beauty from Ashes. You’ve always been the Phoenix…. The legend fits.

    May the Lord have mercy on you in your circumstances and may He open the windows of Heaven in ways you never imagined possible…. even if it’s in the form of Strength to continue with endurance….. Life is hard. God is good. This isn’t Heaven here.

    I so appreciate the Faithfulness of God and His unlimited creativity in keeping all of us on track and working in all lives, whether submitted to Him or not….. Love His life ‘art’… One way or another, May His Kingdom come and His Will be done.

    Happy and BLESSED New Year.

  2. Amen and amen, my friend…may God continue His work in all of us and bless you in all that concerns you.

  3. #5 – let us hope… i elaborated and the internet gremlin kicked me off, so … the kernel of it all is… if i’m sitting and listening to a pastor i want to see Christ, i want to grow, nurtured and admonished in Him…

    beauty for ashes, yes… Lord, bring us to Your beauty, bring us out of the ashes – our accuser is so relentless

  4. Good reflections on the year… I abandoned online discourse completely for two months except for allowing myself to visit this space and comment. It kept me connected without being so infected. Thanks.

    As for your #6 I have a ton of answers for that but another day. Suffice it to say that what you might take to be sound doesn’t resonate with the present culture. All one need do is look at Ridley Scott and Cecil B Demille … we prefer our gods to be impish pigs like ourselves …

  5. #6 is very troubling to me.
    The Gospel has ‘resonated” with folks for 2000 years and many cultural and societal changes…why is today different?

  6. #6. ” It is disturbing and odd to me that with the explosion of sound theological teaching available to the masses online there doesn’t seem to be any increase in actual biblical and theological literacy.”

    If you look online there is everything to tell you how to be your own auto mechanic. I still cannot tell a spark plug from dip stick – because even though the information is there, I have no interest and do not pay attention to it.

    So it is with folks who have no spiritual interest. And this is a very important lesson for us to learn – if they ain’t interested, well they ain’t interested and you move on..

  7. Michael – I think what you are seeing in #6 is that in days gone by people claimed the name Christian without the belief or commitment – for societal purposes.

    Today it is OK to say you are not a Christian (or religious) and no one care – so people do. I am sure that the same percentage of the population is Christian as at any time – just fewer clingers.

  8. Actually Michael,

    I am pretty sure you would suggest the reformed theology as the sound theology on the internet. Reformed theology was not the narrative of a church for 2000 years. Precisely the reason it resonated with Europe in the 16th century was because it was a deviation from mediaeval catholicism.

    The new calvinists are doing just fine …they resonate well with people out there.

    But remember in our culture today it is god who is on trial before men not men before God.

  9. #6 … ?
    it seems to me that we are pressed in on every side by the demands of this world as never before in history… yes, life in terms of survival has been much harder in past times for many, but Bill Gates unleashed a monster that has grown exponentially… i used to wonder how the anti-christ could possibly control the commerce of the world… we’re making it easy… somebody pull the plug…
    oh for the good old days of pens and pencils and time to sort our thots – and “hunger and thirst for righteousness” … or so it seems to me

  10. BD,

    On the contrary…
    While I love and hold to Reformed theology, the thing I’m the most enthralled with is the fact that almost every tradition has their best scholarship online.
    The riches of church history and orthodoxy are there for the masses…but the masses don’t seem anymore savvy than before.

  11. and, yeah, what MLD and BD said … 🙂

  12. Em,

    Attention spans are shrinking…and perhaps the vast number of voices demanding to be heard means we don’t truly hear any.

  13. don’t they say that folk today have something like a 3 minute attention span? But did the average person ever dig into any intellectual pursuit without a need/requirement to do so? Didn’t folk always leave their Sunday services thinking about Sunday supper, not the wonder of The Faith?

    just pondering….

  14. Re #6 – I think I agree with MLD, if I am understanding him correctly.

    There is more access to biblical scholarship, and people like us take advantage of it. Those who have no interest obviously would not take a second look.

    And attention spans shrinking…and all the competing voices…etc. Those are all true, too.

  15. “Attention spans are shrinking…and perhaps the vast number of voices demanding to be heard means we don’t truly hear any.”

    So where does the Holy Spirit play a role?

  16. “So where does the Holy Spirit play a role?”

    that raises another question for me… does the Holy Spirit push His way into our thinking or do we need to “invite” Him to do so, as it were?

    ‘course God can knock us flat, if He really has to speak to us, can’t He? … 😯

  17. How does someone without the Holy Spirit invite the Holy Spirit?

  18. well, IF one is a Believer, doesn’t the Holy Spirit respond to us? and IF one is not a Believer (using that term and avoiding the New Birth question) the Holy Spirit responds to searching with all one’s heart… err something like that…

  19. then there’s John 3:4-8 … thinking….thinking…thinking…

  20. 9. It’s a source of intense irritation to me that people who would never think of speaking ill of other faiths feel very comfortable ripping the Christian faith at every turn. Evidently some “progressives” need to make some more progress…
    —-
    Why do you think they do this?
    -mike

  21. mike – Christians are easy. If you make bad comments about the Jews your are an anti semite and if you say bad about the muslims you will get your throat slashed.

    No one says bad things about the Eastern religions because no one believes those.

  22. I think #7 continues to hamper Christians as long as they devote all their spiritual energies ‘on campus.’ Getting out of ‘the office’ or ‘the walls’ is not only an eye-opener, it is a relationship-builder, faith-confirmer, love-catalyst, and hope-deepener.

  23. saying bad things about Christians? we’re got some ludicrous representatives dominating the media (is that a plural? is it medium in the singular?)
    that said, the devil has free access to the thinking of the thinkers… i’m guessing that old Pilate, even tho he said he found no fault in Jesus, thot him just a foolish, maybe even a little slow, innocuous man – certainly expendable…
    the educated among us will sort thru the world of philosophy to determine what’s real and what’s illusion… hear they’re tackling UFOs next… after all, no thinking man could believe that there’s no other life out there in space…
    i ramble…
    got 2 more days of critter sitting and internet access – will try to constrain myself here

  24. Amen to filbertz’ #22 – we lurk in the shadows feeling inadequate to “represent” Christ, but we are it

  25. The miracle in all of this is Christ in us the hope of glory.

    Yes we are the representatives of Christ to the world around us.

    And yes we feel wholly inadequate and can only walk by faith.

    No matter who much we know, we don’t know enough.

    But this we do know, we have eternal life through Jesus Christ.

    Every breath we have is a gift from Him.

    Every day is a day that He lives in us.

    We will rejoice always in Him.

    This is the day which the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad in it.

    We rejoiced together in this past year and we will rejoice together in this coming year.

  26. Thoughtful list thanks hope all is well for everyone. To all of you, I am really trying to change. I really am.

  27. I crashed my car into a car containing an 8 month pregnant lady. She and the baby (just born) are in great health.

    Because I was distracted driving.
    These little smartphones are changing our culture and our brains.

    I recently went to a baseball game. 80% if everyone was looking at their screens.

    What will engaging others look like because of this phenomenon?

    I’m all in! After I check my FB notifications….

  28. #6 and access to resources – I kind of had to chew on this overnight because I totally agree and it’s bugged me for a long time. If I were to oversimplify the “why” here is what I see. The missing ingredient is love.

    – Some people fall in love with Jesus and want to know God’s word more so they dig into it wherever they can find it.
    – Some people fall in love with God’s word and want to know the God of the word more. That was my story. God’s word came alive to me one day and I wanted to know it and Him more which led me to pastoral teaching ministry.
    – Some people fall in love with modern church culture which promotes itself more and Jesus and His word less. I saw this happen to friends of mine about 10 years ago especially. The loved modern worship, they loved the friends they had at church, they knew who was who and what was what in Christian circles, books, music, etc. But they never encountered Jesus nor the depths of God’s word. One day they felt the emptiness of church culture and bailed all together. They are still in that state.

    There was a time, and I’m sure it’s still happening in places but it isn’t as obvious, where God’s Spirit was moving in and on the hearts of people. One demonstration of this was the tape ministry so many churches had. Tapes of the morning story would fly off the duplicator for people to hand out to their unbelieving friends. I remember a friend of mine referring to Pastor Chuck Smith’s teaching tapes as “Chuck Steaks” in the 1970s because, at the time, they were so rich and different to the norm. Tapes moved to CD, and now we have things online. I singlehandedly build our church’s online teaching library back in the day because I wanted everyone in the world to have access to the pastors great teaching. And it worked because they tape guy took a hit in sales.

    I almost never see people sharing links to studies online. That’s either because the teaching is lame or people have grown cold to the Spirit’s moving, or both. I’m sure we could attribute #6 to symptoms like laziness or disinterest. But I think the root diagnosis is a lack of Spirit-inspired love for God’s word, the kind of love so beautifully expressed by David in Psalm 119 for example. We’ve lost the desire to hide His word in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). That is a desire motivated by love. In fact, I need more of that. Thanks for the reminder.

  29. # 6….Perhaps there’s another reason why it seems as though there’s not much interest in learning….if there is no outlet for it, then a person may feel like its a waste of time to learn more without being able to apply what has been learned?

    Or maybe that’s just been my experience.

  30. Really liked and agree with what Corby, Pap, and the cell phone thing. This scripture was brought to my remembrance as I was reading through the comments relating to having so much information made readily available, but an obvious decline or even hearts waxing cold towards the Faith.

    Proverbs 4:27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

    The scripture verse, Corby, quoted is one of my favorite. Yet, how can this be if (1) does not have the Holy Spirit, or (2) have become more intimate with their tech devices than they are with God and others. When attending church and I see people (many people) on their ipods, cellphones, or whatever they are being called today, my heart becomes sad and I have to wonder why be in church at all. Same things when I see people out together and they are all on their phones—I think, gee that must be fun. Where’s the love and intimacy in that. When I see people out with their kids and everyone, even down to the child that is in their pre-teens are on their device, I think of all the opportunities and blessings and learning experiences being lost. I think, no wonder our world have lost its way in our ability to care and to be empathic towards one another.

    Yet, some would say our world has become better. Perhaps in technology, but what about the hearts and minds and souls. I think not.

  31. Started 1 John Sunday, and noted the part about John writing so the people could have fellowship with him and the others but then immediately he speaks of how that fellowship is rooted/founded in fellowship with the Father and the Son.

    Struck me about the idea of church being a social club and activity center and not the place to worship God and grow in our walk with Him.

  32. From Bryan’s link:

    >>>”How did this happen so fast?” asks Rene Schlaepfer, pastor of Twin Lakes Church, a megachurch in Aptos, California.<<<

    I have met and chatted w/ Pastor Rene recently and I am quite surprised to read him say that he looked to Mark Driscoll for guidance. Well actually, I am surprised *anyone* would have *ever* looked to Driscoll for guidance, but especially Pastor Rene. Kind of a head-scratcher.

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