May 282013
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x325Until I can come up with a better solution, all comments on this blog will be moderated.

That means myself or one of our moderators have to approve them one at a time.

That means I may not be in a place where I can do that quickly, so please be patient with me.

1. First, I want to praise the Lord. I want to acknowledge Him as God and thank Him for His goodness.I don’t want to argue about Him, I want to publicly worship Him this morning. We spent the weekend at Stanford University where Trey was in his first tae kwan doe tournament. He brought home the bronze medal and we couldn’t be more proud. The praiseworthy part of this is that I could never have afforded to take him there myself, but we were able to go as bread that I cast on the waters for many years (decades) came back to me. I had to humble myself to receive it, but in doing so I also received rest and renewed strength…and hope for the challenges still ahead. He is God, His word is truth, and He is good. Period.

2. Aimee Semple McPherson is the most important figure in American Christendom in the last century. If you haven’t studied her life, do so. She founded the Foursquare denomination, but more than that she started almost everything that we associate with what ails American evangelicalism. Her sermons were elaborate performances, she was a radio pioneer, and she taught future religious performers how to survive a scandal. Well worth knowing about…

3. If you’ve known me for more than five minutes, you know that I’m the worlds foremost Jerry Lee Lewis fan. Now, The Killer is a narcissistic, immoral, scoundrel of the lowest sort. I don’t care, as long as there’s thunder in his left hand. Many these days choose their pastors by the same criteria…if the show is good, character doesn’t count. Then they wonder why things go south…

4. Interestingly enough, his career was almost destroyed by scandal in the Fifties…but he made a comeback in the Sixties, which was right about when character ceased to matter in our culture.

5. The SGM scandals and the Reformed elites response to them simply reinforces what I’ve been saying in regard to Calvary Chapel over the last few years, which is that it’s futile (though necessary) to try hold the leadership of these places to account. The emphasis has to move toward the local…and to taking personal responsibility for the state of your spiritual health. A leader is only a leader if someone is following them…an empty building speaks louder than a million blog articles.

6. The best defense against spiritual abuse in a place of free market churches is a catechized congregation.

7. “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” John Calvin

8. “There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.” Calvin

9. The SGM scandals reinforce another tenet I’ve preached over the years…which is that the elite no longer control the media. The voice of the afflicted and their supporters has been louder than the lame responses from on high.

10. We create time for those things which are most important to us and we allot time according to how important something is…how important is your faith?

 

  81 Responses to “Things I Think”

  1. Thank you. Good morning…..so thankful for the blessed weekend you and Trey had…
    Be not weary in well doing, for in due time, you shall reap, if we faint not. Gal 6:9

    Have a blessed week.

    We went up to Crossroads this weekend to see Bill Ritchie and Daniel Fusco….wonderful work of the Spirit of God going on there….. Bill said, it reminds him of the 70s…..

  2. Way to go Trey!

  3. Outstanding Trey! Michael, so glad that were able to get some rest. You were so close to Sacramento!!!!

    Regarding #2, Never thought about that! Very true.

  4. Congratulations Trey! Way To Go !!!

  5. #1 Praising with you. 🙂
    #2 I’m not sure she is the most important, but I get your point. She was quite the character.
    #6 I’ve been reading Packer’s book on catechesis. I tend to agree with both of you.
    #10 Ouch!!!

  6. Had the privilege to participate in Lutheran liturgy on Sunday afternoon, 3 songs with my favorite vocalist. The pastor strategically avoided the challenges of “Holy Trinity” and instead spoke on how God doesn’t get rattled or shook up by the stuff that bothers us, and speaks those words to us, like Joshua’s story, calling us first by name, how we first know ourselves, then by how he was commonly known in his behavior, “assistant to Moses”, then calling us to a unique mission and empowerment, identified as “servant of God”. All I could think of was Michael’s oft repeated phrase, “make your own application”. I had to smile.
    As a guy who grew up Roman Catholic, the liturgy was so familiar and peaceful, reinforcing the creeds. Our music was “coincidentally” the right choice of songs, lyrically, stylistically, we didn’t plan it but perhaps God did, love it when this happens. The communion was freewill, no constraints. The ending song, Amazing Grace, was played by a lady in her late 70’s, and at the last verse you could tell she had been holding back, she lost those church-induced inhibitions, rocked it, the people sang and worshipped, it was just too cool! The Killer would’ve been smiling 😉

  7. Tae Kwon Do is great for building discipline, self-control and confidence. Awesome job, Trey!!!

    Also, Michael, about your opening remarks, moderate away!

  8. 1. That is wonderful! So glad you guys had this time, and super-happy for Trey. HE is a talented kid!
    My son and I had the house to ourselves this weekend. Awesome time. WE watched lots of Star Wars, and then went hiking yesterday. He played in a waterfall while I watched and ate a sandwich. It was honestly one of those magical days I wish could have lasted forever.
    2. I wouldn’t call her the most influential, but Sister Aimee’s story is fascinating.
    3. The psychopathic stuff is part of the Jerry Lee mystique. But yeah, I wouldn’t want him as a pastor.
    4. Good point. I’ve read that the 50’s were a weird blip in our history. That the 30’s and 40’s were immoral, and the then 60’s were immoral. The 50’s were just a strange swing towards moralism. I’d like to see one of those swings in my lifetime.
    5.True, which makes the CJ case even more troubling. He ended up with an empty building, but now the SBC is bailing him out.
    6. Yes, but this requires cooperation from the leadership as well. Basically, I don’t think you can stop bad guys from abusing people. Second, I would love for us to define abuse and be more careful about how we use that word.
    7 and 8 – Wow. Good quotes. 7 makes me feel good about myself, because I have those instincts. 8 makes me feel bad, because I love to feel smart.
    9. T4G got absolutely roasted on that facebook post. Thatw as great.
    10. It is the most important thing to me. It’s the foundation upon which the rest of my life is built. Without my faith, everything else would collapse.

  9. Major congrats to Trey! That is huge! Very happy for you all.

  10. Another awesome Things by my personal favorite Internet scoundrel. 🙂

    Nothing brings out our gratitude to our Daddy like seeing Him do something good for our kids.

  11. 1. Congrats to your son
    2. I started off in the Four Sqaure movement and she is held in high esteem by the members there. What disturbed me was when I went to a weekend youth conference at Angeles Temple back in the day as a leader and they had us sit in the congregation to watch a Hologram beamed down to the stage of her preach. I knew right there that something was wrong.

  12. Congratulations to Trey!

  13. Until I can come up with a better solution, all comments on this blog will be moderated.<<<

    This is probably a good idea. I follow an Orthodox blog that is similar to the PhxP in that it was born out of a scandal and over the years has collected a large following (including priests and one highly opinionated retired bishop) and can get very heated and mean-spirited. The blog owner moderates all comments. Sometimes he doesn't get around to it till the end of the day when he gets home from work. This hasn't affected the popularity of his blog at all but it does cut down on the back-and-forth nonsense between two opponents. And of course, unwelcome comments never see the light of day.

  14. Full moderation is not ideal, but it’s all I can do at the moment to bring this back to a semi decent state.
    Trey’s school schedule has me on the run most of the day and when I find a job it may mean that there is a delay in getting comments posted.
    On the other hand, it may also bring back people who quit participating and we’ll have more people involved in managing the beast again.
    In any case, my stress level will be lowered and that’s a big deal to me right now.

  15. Thank you for the kind words for Trey…but without the providence of a good God we would never have been there.
    “He will perfect that which concerns you”…and nothing concerns me more than the little man.

  16. I’m relieved mister moderator…

    Moderation
    With slight apology to Nat King Cole.
    Don’t turn over. I ain’t done yet.

    It was moderation
    I know
    And it was making my post show up slow.
    Right then, my ascent
    Posting by consent
    Just an arguement
    And I might have gone
    On my way
    Empty headed

    It was moderation
    I know
    Seeing you all stressed
    by the pushing and shov-ing
    Then I read your blog
    And next moment
    I’m out of the bog
    moderation turned to respect.

    If that’s too sedate, here’s the killer.
    Little k, big bite.

    Come on, moderator, whole lotta achin’ goin’ on.
    Yes, I said come Mr PP, moderarin’ can’t go wrong.
    You ain’t takin’, while lotta fakin’ goin’ on.

    Well, I said come on moderator, we ain’t chicken if you warn
    Woo-huh, come on moderator, now you’re rockin’ your bull horn
    We ain’t breakin’, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.

    Well, I said shake, PP, shake,
    I said shake, PP, shake
    I said shake it, PP, shake it
    I said shake, PP, shake
    Come on mister, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.

    Oh, let’s post . . .(cuss break, mend that rift)
    Jerry breaks in; takes over…

    Well, I said come along my baby, we got chicken in the barn,
    Whose barn, what barn, my barn
    Come along my baby, really got the bull by the horn
    We ain’t fakin’, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.

    (Talking break) Easy now. Shake.
    Ah, shake it baby
    Yeah, you can shake it one time for me

    Yeah-huh-huh-ha-ha, Come along my baby,
    Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.

    (Talking break) Now let’s get down real low one time now
    Shake, baby, shake
    All you gotta do, honey, is kinda stand in one spot
    Wiggle around just a little bit, that’s what you got
    Yeah, come on baby, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.

    Now let’s go one time
    Shake it baby, shake, shake it baby, shake
    Woo, shake baby, come on baby, shake it, baby, shake
    Come on over, whole lot-ta sha-kin’ go-in’ on.
    Feel free to not post this. Hope you enjoy it.

  17. Gary,

    Enjoy it I did. 🙂

  18. A small suggestion, Michael. Knowing how you do encourage freedom of expression and are very loathe to moderate…And knowing the goal for you is to reduce stress.

    What if the need for you to moderate means a full-day ban? I assume there is a way you can put a person on a moderated list so you don’t have to read each and every post – because it seems to me if someone wants to vent on you over and over you will have almost as much stress, if not more, trying to decide what to moderate or not.

    And it might be good for us to. If I crossed a line in my emotions it means I should step away for 24 hours – and you don’t have to be put in a position of ‘picking and choosing’ which I know is very stressful.

    Knowing this is on the table should cause all of us (who care) to pick our words wisely before hitting send.

    And I definitely suggest anyone not respecting those rules who then uses a different alias, email, ISP to try and still post – be banned for a month or more – people who care about you, about civility, and about this blog community won’t try that sort of nonsense.

    Just my two cents ………….

  19. 1. Congrats to Trey!
    3. I find myself conflicted when there are players of suspicious and/or known bad character playing on the teams I root for. I usually end up hoping they do well for the team’s sake, but do so begrudgingly. And this is in a rather innocuous activity of choosing who to cheer for in a game.
    9. Thankful for this.
    10. Echoing CK’s “Ouch”.

    As to the comment moderation, I think this is a good idea, at least for now and support you in your attempt to make this less contentious. Your willingness to show patience and graciousness towards those who have a tendancy to cause strife here is to be admired. Yet at the same time, at some point one must say enough is enough when the harm continues to outweigh the potential good. Praying that you can land upon a solution moving forward that you are satisfied with.

  20. Add my two cents to Steve’s……..I think that time outs are a good idea, especially if it lowers your stress level.

    Glad your weekend was so blessed.

  21. I have a similar idea. Why not have one of the other moderators handle the stress for a while? They know who’s misbehavin’. They could do a first moderation, then pass the approved posts to Michael.

  22. Steve,

    I may go that direction once the place gets settled to my satisfaction.
    I’ve never liked the idea of banning people…this way even people who I may have banned in the past can still participate to a degree.
    I do hate having to do this…but I have been really convicted by a bunch of things that I can’t be a party to.
    I was stunned at how fast I recovered health wise being away from here…

  23. Gary,

    The other moderators have really busy lives as well…and at the end of the day it was time for me to take responsibility for a site that I pay for, do most of the writing for, and will be accountable for.
    I’m usually filling out job applications in the morning after I get little man to school, so we’ll be ok for a while.

  24. Don’t stress over not having to stress. It’s too stressful.

  25. Are you between jobs? Me too. I thought you were (are) a pastor.

  26. Gary,

    I pastor a home church now and I’ve always worked to support myself and my family outside the “ministry”.
    The last few years have been really tough…and that’s why I’m so thankful to God for His provisions for the little guy.

  27. “I was stunned at how fast I recovered health wise being away from here…”
    There is no way around in restricting who or what gets said here. it seems that one or two only come here to antagonize and cause division just for the fun of it , never really wanting to hear issues out , just argue and be stupid. Moderate away !

  28. Congrats to Trey, Tae Kwon Do is a good striking combat discipline.

    Everything in moderation, I think there’s a life-philosophy there.

    I think I’ll be framed as the scapegoat, but I also think it’s the proper evolution of the blog and something I’ve been pushing for (Art of War).

    Best “persuasion” is a change that comes not from being convinced through words, but being convinced through experiences…those sort of changes tend to stick and become true belief.

  29. It’s too bad that the inability of a few to exercise wisdom and self-restraint here has led to moderating the majority of us who have and can exercise wisdom and self-restraint on this blog.

  30. PP Vet,

    🙂

  31. Michael, my one thought is that the prayer thread not be moderated. When people need prayer, they shouldn’t have to wait on someone being able to clear it.
    Is that possible?

  32. Will keep you in prayer with your job search.

  33. If I can make a suggestion, you must have in mind the one’s that are causing the most consternation for you, right? Why not place their comments in moderation? Does WordPress have the capacity to do that?

  34. London,

    Unfortunately, it’s not possible.
    That is the major sticking point in doing this.
    I have all the comments coming to my iDevices and I’m going to make every effort to get those up immediately.

  35. Dude,

    Thank you, sir!

  36. Passing by,

    Trust me, moderation goes against every grain of my person.
    In doing this for a season, my hope is that people will feel able to participate again and the discussions won’t be railroaded in familiar directions.
    At that point I’ll lift this and we’ll go on like normal.
    We can reset the standard for blog netiquette. 🙂

  37. Good link for the job search. You’re a smart guy, ever thought about retraining in home health care or some form of nursing? I have extended family who got out of Insurance and took a two year course in a specific lab-related field that has to do with electro-cardiology tests. Two year program and he got a job right away and makes good money. It took someone with some level of intelligence and there are many over-looked specializations in health-tech that are always in demand. Looks like there are lots of bank teller jobs and retail sales jobs as well. They don’t pay as much, but better than unemployment benefits.

    http://www.emp.state.or.us/jobs/index.cfm?location_content=joblist.cfm&loc=021&cat=99&type=N&lang=E&system=WIOL&calling_pg=loclist&agency_menu=N&loclistcount=&showcounts=Y&start=1

  38. Retraining requires money.
    That, I don’t have.
    I’m on that site…and many others every day.
    I’m not getting any unemployment…they had me on the wrong program last time and even though I was entitled to benefits on the right program, I have to repay what I earned on the wrong program they put me on before I can get any benefits this time.
    Which means I need a job quickly… 🙂

  39. Or you can become a Registered Process Server, just get a bond go to the recorders office, get a dba and fill out an app and live scan and you can serve papers in the interim. It only cost me about $500.00 to do all that.

  40. I have some possibilities…and I’m working on two new books in between everything else.

  41. Hi Michael,
    Suggest you pour 75% or more of your time networking. Personal local referrals are the strongest door openers, moving you past the many faceless applicants, giving you the real world advantage you want going forward.

  42. Michael RE: 1) of things I think,

    Yesterday evening after sunset was a time of worship for me when I got to see the planets Venus, Jupiter, & Mercury in a tight triangle that fit well within the field of my binoculars. The Almighty paints the most beautiful tableaus there can be and I have only awe and reverence at being allowed to see them.

    Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible. Thanks for the reference to casting bread upon the waters. Paying it forward, what goes around comes around, we can all learn from those lessons.

  43. Muff,

    I saw that myself!
    Well said…

  44. I haven’t had much time to linger here as of late, due to starting my new job. Keeping me pretty busy.

    I did want to say AMEN to many of these Things I Think for today.

    “First, I want to praise the Lord. I want to acknowledge Him as God and thank Him for His goodness.I don’t want to argue about Him, I want to publicly worship Him this morning.”

    Coupled with number 10 “We create time for those things which are most important to us and we allot time according to how important something is…how important is your faith?”

    You’ve been reading my mail again…. 😉

  45. Gman,

    I’m doing that for really, the first time.
    I never wanted to burden people…but I’m learning that not everybody sees helping each other as a burden.

  46. Papias,

    Good to see you!

    I’m off to pick up the little man…

  47. Definitely good on the moderation. The timeouts sound like a good idea too. I am willing to sit in a corner for a while. 🙂
    But, don’t let the stress level rise from having to read and decide on each post like Steve said in #19.
    I have been praying for you and the job situation and will continue to. I know that feel, my last day of work was Saturday and when I get back to MS next week, I have to try to find one. Not one of my favorite things to do.

  48. 1. God is good if it’s the God of the Gospels. I think He is good.

    2. She was quite the pioneer. I understand the jab you are taking, and you landed it square (pardon the pun) on the chin of several Groups that are critiqued here.

    3. Entertainment is entertainment. Why should we choose a pastor any differently than a musician? (obviously loaded with sarcasm)

    4. Talent and popularity trumps character, it’s nearly a universal…that and while our Culture likes to take celebrities/idols down, it loves the story of being reborn and of redemption and second-chances even more…even if it’s fake.

    5. Empty buildings are the key, but be careful…that approach of exercising your free speech in terms of warning folks about bad behavior can be twisted by the devil to bring lawsuits that are unjust and evil.

    6. The best defense against spiritual abuse is education and empty buildings where abuse is a pattern.

    7. “God’s truth”. I wish I knew precisely what that was so I could bark more. I find it a function of man’s interpretation of what we know is somehow “God’s truth” somewhere in the morass of biblical paradox.

    8. “But there is a spirit within people, the breath of the Almighty within them, that makes them intelligent.” the Bible.

    9. Agreed. New Frontier. wiCCi-Leaks.

    10. I spend most of my time trying to figure out what is true and what isn’t. Not sure what that says, but I find the more I try to find ‘truth’, the more illusive it is (in terms of verifiable absolutes that are provable etc). Learning a lot about people and life and religion etc. Most are just logging time until it’s game-over. Many plug in the major gaps with dogmatism (both atheist and religious) and some are perpetually uncomfortable with the intellectually honest ‘I just don’t know’. Ignorance is bliss and delusion is the opiate of the masses. Very true conclusions.

  49. Michael,
    People LOVE to offer help and you fulfill a great purpose in letting them do so for you. You end up with a ton or partners in your adventure. It’s really difficult for someone who is a loner (my nature), and the toughest part is to schedule yourself to get in front of people and simply tell them what’s up, what you need and what you are looking for and how you think they might help and what their suggestions might be.

    Be strategic with your time, be willing to talk to anyone. Market yourself to the kinds of things you have direct experience with and the secondary kinds of jobs you feel confident about. Meet with a minimum of 6 people per day for 4 days a week, using the time between meetings to follow up and cultivate the contacts and action items which come from each meeting then use the 5th day for wildcard marketing, meeting total strangers to get into places you only dream about.

    Most of all, surround yourself with cheerleaders and forbid the twits stop sucking the life from your soul. It’s a season and you deserve to treat yourself kindly.

    You can resume ministering once you have an income stream. In the meantime, the community can be patient and respect the moderation. No one’s gonna die.

    …consider this permission 😉

  50. “A leader is only a leader if someone is following them…an empty building speaks louder than a million blog articles.”

    i agree wholeheartedly.

    btw, a famous quote on leadership from TR “He who thinks he leads and has no one following him is only taking a walk”. i think we need to tell a bunch of SPs and Churches to ‘take a walk’ cuz we aint following anymore.
    -MIC

  51. Thought #6

    Man, there is wisdom in that. I wonder if “free market” churches can really appeal to folks if catechism is required?

    It sort of seems to me that churches are filled with people whom find what is attractive with the church. When something becomes unattractive, or people find that they brought their problems with them, and everything ends like the last venture, they simply move on.

  52. I think #6 is a great idea.

  53. I don’t know if #10 makes sense. Are we suppose to allocate time for our faith? If it is a larger segment of time than other “activities” is that good?

    or do we just live our faith in all things that we do? I don’t know that it can be segmented at all.

  54. I tend to agree with MLK on this one. “Faith” seems to be something, to me, that should permeate all aspects of one’s life and not be compartmentalized as some sort of separate endeavor. Dunno. Just strikes me as odd that one could “work on their faith” as if it is like going to the gym. I could be wrong.

  55. #5…. “The emphasis has to move toward the local…and to taking personal responsibility for the state of your spiritual health. A leader is only a leader if someone is following them…an empty building speaks louder than a million blog articles.”

    Years ago I stated change could and would come one person at a time and one church at a time. I came to believe wholesale changes within CC or any other movement wasn’t possible although a worthy goal.

    A healthy church will still attract negativity via blogs and guilt by association no matter how many changes they make. I don’t see infighting among believers stopping any time soon and in fact it could get worse as different folks simply dig in deeper in their never ending tearing down of others.

    Michael, this blog has has made inroads and changed people on personal levels as well as several churches who want to do the right things and have made changes to make sure everything possible is done to protect their congregations.

    There’s so much good happening to overlook despite the sad reality that carnality is alive and well in parts of the body. Don’t ever doubt the good that has sprung from this place.

  56. One can build their faith and their knowledge of the faith through the study of theology and church history.
    There would be far less spiritual abuse and conflict if people did so.

  57. on the other hand, the bible does seem (in many parts) to express faith as an endeavor and something to be strengthened and built up etc, so I don’t really know for sure.

    I do like the new moderated format, it seems to change the dynamic in a good way, IMO.

  58. Erunner,

    Thank you,my friend!

  59. “One can build their faith and their knowledge of the faith through the study of theology and church history.
    There would be far less spiritual abuse and conflict if people did so.”

    I understand what you mean, but it seems to me that is really the definition of building your knowledge about faith rather than building faith itself.
    I think building faith comes from deciding in the moments that you realize you dont have the answers that you are to trust anyway.

  60. It seems to me that ALL of these churches that get accused of “spiritual abuse” are those who emphasize Bible study over all else. I don’t think that is accidental or coincidence.

    But to say “One can build their faith and their knowledge of the faith…” seems to come from that same attitude = “build your OWN faith for the sake of your OWN faith.”

    God gives faith, so that you can do something for others.

  61. “God gives faith so you can do something for others.”

    I don’t have much faith at all compatrd to many others, but I can do stuff for others, as can someone with no faith at all, so I’m not sure that I agree that the purpose of faith is to fuel helpers.

    Mother Theresa herself said she had little to no faith at times and look how much she did for others.

    I’ve never actually thought about the purpose if faith before, just marveled at how some seem to have loads of it, while others have so little. I wonder now what the point of it actually is.

  62. I don’t think faith is measured in quantities – little faith, adequate faith,or lots of faith. Faith is faith – you either have it or you don’t.

    If what you say about Mother Teresa is true, she was wrong. Faith isn’t something that we muster up. Perhaps she had times where she couldn’t discern her faith, bu it was there as it is from God.

  63. IF there were a filter for a list of people who would never be moderated it would exceed the list of those who are by a factor of 10 or more.

    I love my friend Michael Newnham and wish he did not need to moderate anyone. I admire the walk you have brother. I would to God that the world was full of your kin and kind.

    Has Mexico quieted some or am I blind again?

  64. BD,

    Thank you for the kind words…they mean much from you.
    No, Mexico hasn’t quieted, though Juarez has to a degree.
    The new administration has put even tighter screws on the battered journalistic community to not report what is happening all over the country.
    What has happened in Juarez, (and what will eventually happen in some other areas) is that one cartel has won the turf war and cut their deal with the PRI (the ruling party).
    Every once in a while glance over the Borderland Beat blog…if you have a strong stomach.
    That is where the real reporting is done from Mexico…

  65. When I’m going through difficult times I draw deeply from the wisdom and faith of others, that through study becomes mine in a way.
    When I study church history I’m made aware of my heritage, of the thoughts and trials and triumphs of those who have gone home before me.
    I learn that people of faith have been asking similar questions for two centuries and I learn what answers brought them peace.
    Studying theology deepens my understanding of the things of God and that understanding becomes another place of settled faith.
    I can choose what I fill my mind with…tonight it was my beloved Kings beating the Sharks…later on it will be a discussion of N.T.Wright and the NPP on audio.
    They both will make me happy. 🙂

  66. NT and the KIngs. The Kingdom NT and the Kings of hockey. Good night indeed.

  67. Its reported that Jesus said “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed….” That leads me to believe that faith is somehow quantifiable.
    Also, just because a person recognizes they have little or no faith does not lead to a conclusion of either they think they can muster it up” or that they do not acknowledge it comes as a gift from God.

    I can easily acknowledge its a gift from God without thinking I have it in large doses or that it (trust, not knowledge) is something that comes easily to me. For others I know, it does. But,aunt they don’t have as much “gifting” in some area as I do.

  68. Aunt = maybe

  69. Well…this is more like it should be! I actually enjoyed moving down this entire thread. And I finished without feeling “slimed.” Been awhile.

    PROUD of you Trey!

  70. Sent you something, Michael you can appeal the unemployment decision I have been involved in a few of these, won every appeal, but California is a bit different from where you live. Wow Stanford I am not to far from there, I live not to far from there, I wish I would have known could had stayed here for free, if you don’t mind a nut like me and a crazy cat. From your posts cats are your thing 🙂 . Congratulation to Trey, I have tried tae kwan doe, I love it but my arthritis just kills me, but I hope to continue.

    I got a community garden plot it was an utter miracle, these things are gold. I get to grow my own food right down the street. I am so excited. Now I have a very serious confession. On another thread MLK asked me who the “them” was it forced me to look at my aspersions and comments. I have an addiction, I go to conservative evangelical blogs and look for ammunition to support my anger. It is not helpful, I often check into these sites several times a day to support my anger. Their ridiculous twaddle concerning science, history, reality etc is overwhelming but I am wrong, it is wrong to look for things that make you angry and support your anger. It is no less obsessive then other internet fixations. I have come to understand that we become what we get angry at, we become our enemies. We get so angry at what was done to us, we search for justice and we see justice forlorn. What we miss is the grace that fills in the blanks, I have often pondered this why does not God show up. But what if God did, what if the sun came to the Earth, it would scorch us all. What if God came full force and distributed justice on Earth, what would it look like?

    God became a human, does that amaze us, it does me. I think of the many families broken by issues in the “church”. I think of the grace given in these events, God gives so much grace but it is quiet grace, because if we plugged into His full grace we would burn up on the spot. One can be fried by love, that sounds silly but I think some get my point. Personally I think God deals with us in a subtle way, like sun light, it comes through every crevasse of our lives, like sunlight straining, though peaceful in every section of our reality. Even when the dark of night arrives, the light reflects of the moon to strike the Earth giving illumination. That is what I see God’s grace like, light finding a way to touch a life, a heart. Even in a black hole particles escape. Even in the darkest of lives events, light will find a way, though it be faint or even invisible, light will overcome. I find that good news, it really is and I rejoice.

  71. An aside, I want Justice for those hurt and those abused. The bible speaks a great deal about burning of those not redeemed being burned. I will admit I am ticked at a great deal of people in this life, but having been burned, smelled my flesh, an seeing it float to the top of the bathtub while my brother told me the story of the three bears. Riding to the hospital and it seemed we hit every light, looking back as they cut away the dead flesh and the many skin graphs that came. I will admit, I dont want to see people burn, I dont care what they did to me, I think this is what drives my universalism. I will admit God can do what He will do, but no, I dont wish to see my “enemies” burn, I want to see them restored. Having been burned I would not wish that on any human being, yes even Hitler. I have shared this thought only once in the real world with my early spiritual community, it drew a strange response. I dont think they knew what to do with me, I agree, I often dont know what to do with me. I will say this on my soul for what ever it is worth, God will not do that to a soul, He just wont. That is my soul He just wont, no apologetic, no exegesis of the text, just He would not do that. That is my hope and it always will be, the great restoration the great reunion, the great healing. All will be made whole, what a wonder. Daily I pray for that.

  72. pss the only thing I ever wanted was to be part of a family, what I came to understand, I always was part of a family but forgot. Now I remember I am part of His family. I find that good news I really do.

  73. “Now I remember I am part of His family. I find that good news I really do.”

    Wow!!!
    Gave me goosebumps when I came across that. Thank you Brian for that wonderful reminder.

  74. Until reading about it here, I have not thought that much about what faith is and how it is measured, much less where it comes from, or how it is developed. I see it much more simply. Faith is trusting God to be in control for the best; regardless of seemingly disastrous personal human life situations.

    In other words:

    Faith = Trust in God.
    Trust in God = Belief in God.
    Belief in God = Accepting the existence of a Creator.
    Accepting the existence of a Creator = Choice.
    Choice = Right or Wrong.
    Right = God.
    Wrong = No God.

    Simple, no?

  75. #3 and #5 man, Ill make this simple and quick,

    The church at large seems to treat it’s ministry leaders as rock stars, but we are surprised when they live like them ? Really ?

  76. agreeing with brian above (as usual)

    “The church at large seems to treat it’s ministry leaders as rock stars, but we are surprised when they live like them ? Really ?”

    Agreeing with that as well. It takes a fawning audience and a person who craves the attention to make a Rock Star.

  77. Brian,
    I really like your openness and honesty. I live across the bay from Stanford. Maybe we could get together sometime.
    When I consider universalism I’m tempted to think there’s no way God would let people suffer so much for so long. On the other hand I ponder how much Jesus Christ suffered. What was it like to be tortured by your own creation? What was it like to be separated from your very self? I believe the degree of God’s suffering is as infinite as God Himself. If you weighed God’s suffering with all of humankind suffering forever it still wouldn’t be enough.

  78. Gary your post touched me, I often pondered the same thing with one reservation, God / Jesus had a choice, He could have said no and the universe would have ended there. He chose to suffer, He chose to give His life, we did not. I never chose to be born corrupts, or suppress the truth of God, I do not stay up nights thinking of ways to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. I am just some confused wounded soul broken in my sin trying to find a way home. God is the all powerful creator of the universe, He has a bit of a better view, and I hope He will include that at the judgement seat. In my limited personal experience in real and online world, He wont and most of us are lost. Of course I dont believe that but I may well be deceived.

    I consider universalism because I have seen so many folks pass from this world and their faculties are not intact they are lost in pain dementia. Such events are messy thus sinful and God hates them, at least that is my limited online and off line experience. I understand that is not the norm but it is what I have experienced. When I first became a “Christian” which I understand from any objective moral truth could not have happened and I agree, I am not a Christian in the historic or biblical view, and I never will be. But I cling to the reconciliation and restoration aspects of the Christian religion. I long for all those I have had the pleasure of working with to be saved. I could care less if I am, if it means they are not, I think that is clear and I have stated it several times. I had other undignified blabber but I did not wish to spew it out here.

    My personal hope, I want everyone to be saved, to be part of the great restoration, I want all those that have suffered to be reconciled with those that caused the suffering. And God would be glorified in His ability to reconcile all to Himself. I guess that is why I am a universalist. I understand I am outside the pale of orthodoxy and I understand sacred scripture makes it clear, the vast majority of the human species, I mean the vast majority will be lost, and will suffer in eternal torment to the Glory of God. Personally I dont get that, but I admit I could be wrong.

  79. Yes He had a choice. That makes it all the sweeter. What if He had no choice? All He suffered wouldn’t mean much. Like mythology. But He did say yes. Why? Cuz love must have an object and He wanted an object worthy of His love. So He made us. He knew what He was doing. I sure don’t. But since He’s God and I’m not I have to trust Him more than my pea brain.

    God may indeed ‘repent’ of allowing unregenerate evil hate filled rebels to burn forever. It could happen. I want it to happen. But I have to reserve judgement until I know the extent of God’s cumulative suffering. God’s love doesn’t negate His justice. It’s His character.
    Whatever you do don’t read Romans 9. Stay in Romans 8. It’s safe and good. I used to hate Romans 9. Lots of religions and cults like to park in Romans 9. I’ve been beat up by those guys. I feel sorry for them now.

    I see good in you. (Darth Brian lol.) I see good that you probably don’t see or your mind distorts. Your past, your experience, won’t allow you to look there. It’s “Closed for remodeling” but it’s not closed forever.

    I don’t believe for one second that losing our mind to dementia or whatever disconnects us from the love and salvation of God. No way.

    I like your last paragraph. Orthodoxy schmorthodoxy! Take that pale pail of orthodoxy and toss it. It has holes in it. God has a tender heart. We are the object of His affections. I wish I knew all that means. One day I will. You will too.

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