Things I Think…

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37 Responses

  1. filbertz says:

    I appreciate your thoughts on the dark matter known as doubt. Without doubt, faith is an empty concept. Certainty is a luxury wasted on the self-assured. Doubt shares space with the right questions. Certainty inhabits the space of easy answers and softball questions. Doubt is the stuff of life, certainty the afterlife.

  2. Michael says:

    fil,

    That…was perfect .
    Thank you.

  3. Em says:

    Filbertz @ 8:24
    Amen. 🙋

  4. Matthew says:

    #5 & #6: I’ve been reading a history of the Azusa Street Revival and it has been challenging me to ask myself “what do I expect from prayer?” Do I really believe God intervenes in lives? That seems to be the question, because if I think that everything goes along in a natural way, and all is part of the “plan of God,” am I really walking by faith and not by sight? Can’t prayer change things in this world? I wish I had the answer, but reading the Azusa history has forced me to face the reality of what I think God does and what prayer is all about.

  5. Josh says:

    Fil is right.

    Michael, hang in there, brother.

  6. JoelG says:

    That was Buechneresque, Filbertz. Very well said.

    I hope there are people, Michael, people there close to you who are present with you, to hug you, to help you, to love you through the doubt, pain and suffering.

  7. Michael says:

    Matthew,

    I have grave doubts about Azusa Street…and frankly, every other “revival” based on alleged supernatural manifestations.
    They consistently over promise and under deliver.

  8. Michael says:

    Thanks Joel and Josh.

    One of the issues I’m having to resolve is that pastoral ministry is based in some measure on the premise of divine intervention.
    We don’t see much of that…but people grew up “praying the promises”…

  9. JoelG says:

    Of all the disciples I would’ve wanted to hang with it would’ve been Thomas. Because when he said “My Lord and my God!”, you know it’s the real deal. Give me doubters and skeptics who believe, all day long.

  10. Michael says:

    I have no doubt that God exists and is revealed in the person of Jesus.
    Frankly, the redemption story is the only narrative that makes cosmic sense to me…

  11. JoelG says:

    Perhaps He doesn’t intervene in the pain and suffering of His Church so His Church can be heartbroken with the heartbroken.

  12. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    I have often thought that same thing…especially these days…

  13. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “One of the issues I’m having to resolve is that pastoral ministry is based in some measure on the premise of divine intervention.”

    That may be the perception, but I don’t think it’s the reality. May I edit the second half of the sentence… “pastoral ministry is based on the promise of divine presence” and you’re the one representing that as a pastor or a priest…

  14. Michael says:

    I feel a tremendous burden to not only show up,but to be able to “do something”…in reality we mostly practice the ministry of presence…

  15. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    Most of us in priestly or pastoral ministry are “fixers”. One of the biggest lessons we learn in ministry is that we can’t “fix” everything. In fact, there is very little we can fix. By simply being present, as +Ramsey says discussing Apostolic Succession, we extend the Incarnation which at it’s heart is that God is with us… not that everything will be fixed, just that God is with us…

  16. Michael says:

    Duane,

    That is an amazing way to look at it…but it takes some retraining.
    In process…

  17. Josh says:

    Duane – As a minister, your last post is what I’ve felt but couldn’t put to words. Thank you!

  18. Em says:

    Michael, our pastors bring us greater awareness and knowledge of God…. Faith…. God takes it from there
    Sometimes there are miracles, but mostly it is strength. IMX.
    Or… what Dr. Duane said up there at 9:28… 🙆

  19. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    I’ve had good teachers and mentors…

  20. Babylon's Dread says:

    I understand the unending doubt about healing services but I have too many testimonies of healing that are pretty obvious to us all. At the same time I have those for whom we prayed and did not get healing. We are pretty particular about ascribing credit to God and look pretty tenaciously for a correlation between the asking and receiving. Still we see more headaches than cancer healed.

    It doesn’t discourage us any more than the 10-1 ratio of responders to conversions at a Graham meeting did in the day. He got some. We get some.

    When I read the tone of these postings these days I see the increasing sadness and doubt. I do not live there but am not clear as to the difference. Serving daily with the church gives me all the sorrow and the joy at the same time. But the living Christ is as real to me as the day I met him, probably more so. Lately it is with hesitance that I share it here as it seems like I am boasting amiss. That is not the intent but I am so certain of Christ and his kingdom.

  21. Michael says:

    BD,
    Post away.
    It adds balance to the proceedings.
    I’m going through deep discouragement and a little light would probably be beneficial to the readers.

  22. filbertz says:

    I will add that I don’t feel doubt characterizes me. I wrestle with doubt, have bouts with it which seem at times to go on without relief, but have concluded after quite an extended period, that my faith is more vital, more robust than before. I’ve jettisoned much of what previously bogged down my Christianity in minutia & reexamined much of my presuppositions. Like Babs, I leave much room for God to do what he pleases regarding what we may characterize as miraculous. Yet, I don’t subscribe to a system that dictates or requires or expects Him to do anything. I hold to a much broader sense of mystery and wonder than before. The pain of being human, its suffering, feels more natural, kind of par for the course. I’m more kin to those who are ‘there’ presently since I have been, too, recently.

  23. Sue says:

    I also struggle daily with discouragement and doubt. I am deeply cynical about faith healing (and about a lot of other things). I don’t want to be, it just seems to be my nature. I know people who seem to just default to being positive and hopeful about things, seemingly by nature. That’s just not me. Like someone else said above, the apostle I most identify with is Thomas. (I love John 11:16, where Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” A man after my own heart. I always expect the worst.)

    All that said, I agree with Michael saying to keep posting the lighter side. It helps me for one to know there are others who are “so certain of Christ and his kingdom.” It helps me to keep my smoldering wick aglow. So thank you, Babylon’s Dread!

  24. Em says:

    It would be a big loss if any more of Michael’s PhxP peeps stopped posting… there are some i still miss, but i know there are reasons…
    Losing Pastor Dread would be a really big loss – don’t go, please 🙏

  25. Michael says:

    BD and I have a good relationship…I don’t think he’s going anywhere.
    We have lost some folks who aren’t fond of me anymore, but that’s always been the case…

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    You also have people who love you…. and love what you do. Just saying….

  27. Michael says:

    Thank you, my friend.

  28. Dan from Georgia says:

    Encouragement:

    “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice:

    Isaiah 42:3

  29. Michael says:

    For those of us smoldering and bruised, that is good news…

  30. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael,

    I am in that club.

  31. Sue says:

    I am counting on the One who will not snuff out the smoldering wick…

  32. Reuben says:

    #10 is the thing that has hung me up the worst. He created me sick, and ordered me to be well. He created a problem for which only he has the solution. I can not express the emotion and rage this truth produces.

  33. Papias says:

    “How amazing is this punishment!
    The good Shepherd suffers for his sheep,
    The Lord, the one who is just, pays the penalty
    For his servants.”

    JS Bach – St. Matthew Passion – Chorale #46

  34. Promised Land says:

    Re: #10
    I no longer believe that I am broken- which has actually strengthened my faith. I’m learning to keep it simple. Being analytical is not a gift; Intelligence/IQ is great- use it for the glory of God but when I realized being analytical has never bore good fruit in my life and just kept me stuck, I decided to stop- it has brought me freedom and strength to my faith.

  35. bob1 says:

    Is there a connection, in your mind, between not believing you’re broken and
    not being analytical? Or are those 2 separate thoughts”

  36. Promised Land says:

    Probably separate thoughts but have some connection (maybe I’m being analytical- ha!). I believe I’m whole and not broken because that’s part of salvation- who I am in Christ. I can get analytical- doubt and question it ad nauseam, but what is the truth. I just simply choose to believe the truth and rest in it. It makes me free.

  37. Michael says:

    Promised Land,

    Your name is ironic…I’m broken because I’m not home yet…

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