Things I Think

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68 Responses

  1. #3 Just a quick comment.
    I used to think the same thing.
    After working for a Coke plant in quality for 3 yrs though, I can assure you that there are some differences. We ran the water through a purification system prior to bottling and tested it rigorously.
    If you want water with little else in it than water, go the purified route. If you want water with a bit more taste, go for something like Dasani, cause they add in minerals for taste. Yes, it all still is pumped from a well, but I would be willing to bet that local govts don’t test it as well.

  2. Papias says:

    #. “My greatest struggle with the flesh is to contain my desire for significance to God alone.”

    My friend, thats a keeper, if I understand it correctly!

    Care to elaborate on this point for a thick skulled one such as myself?

  3. Michael says:

    Papias,

    We all want to be somebody…to be recognized and acknowledged as being a person of worth and value.
    We want to have influence and we want to be known.
    I’ll be honest as I can be.
    There are days when I think that my time and whatever gifting I may possess would be put to better use in the “mission field” I delineated in #1 than online.
    I sometimes wonder if my priority is to be known and appreciated by many rather than just by One.
    I wonder if my need for significance leads me away from the works God has set before me and toward the attention I want for myself.
    It’s a matter I have to keep in constant prayer.
    That should keep my critics busy for awhile…but it’s as honest as I can get.

  4. Steve Wright says:

    I think most pastors (at least I hope) want to be a positive influence to as many people as the Lord allows.

    Why would anyone write a book, if not to edify the larger body beyond one’s local church (or in the case of professors, their local classrooms).

    Someone who is a faithful part of our church has been injured and unable to attend the last few weeks – but they watch YouTube to get the word each week, just as if they had been there.

    Someone else has not been a part of our church for years, in terms of bodily attendance, as she moved to the other side of the country – well before I became the pastor years ago. Yet, she listens to every message and constantly emails me and we discuss things going on, people to pray for – and I consider her as much a part of our church as the people who I see – and I have yet to meet her face to face.

    We put every message online, for free, like many other pastors out there. And I know that others besides our church folk listen to them.

    So technology can be used in many positive ways.

    At the same time, your larger point to the Body of Christ is solid and something I enforce regularly from the pulpit. We need face-to-face fellowship, friends, interaction. And if we spend most of our time talking to “BornAgain56” or “PraiseJesus39” and have little personal contact with others – I think we do err.

    (P.S. We’ve got a radio program too.) 🙂

  5. Michael says:

    Derek,

    I live in Oregon…and we have lots of wonderful water.
    I grew up drinking from springs and garden hoses.
    I could understand it if I lived someplace where the water isn’t clean…but I can’t get over the weirdness of it here.
    On the other hand, I’m old. 🙂

  6. J.U. says:

    In response to your #1 and other thoughts in this top ten, I think it is about balance. Finding the fulcrum in one’s life varies from person to person just as spiritual gifts vary from person to person. Steve W. expresses it well.

    My worry is for the people that live on the internet, or on the TV, or even at the church. It is a wide world out there and we should participate in all that we can. That means neighbors next door as well as neighbors on the web.

    There’s also jobs and family and school and church and sports and music and all the other stuff that pull on our time.

    I feel balanced in my life with my limited use of the web. I understand with the pressure and responsibility of this blog how you would feel stretched out of balance in a digital way. However, I also know from this very blog that you do spend time with your neighbors and not all your time in front of a screen. The skate park, the home church, the search for a job. You seemed well balanced to me and I pray that the job search will soon bring success.

    And we readers and participants on PhxP are very grateful for the time you do share with us, neighbor. What can I say but “love ya”?

  7. Michael says:

    Steve,

    I’m still thinking it through…but at the least all this technology is a double edged sword.
    I grow more troubled by it daily…but again, I’m old. 🙂

  8. Michael says:

    J.U.,

    Thank you…that was kind of you.
    I feel like I’m still searching for that balance.
    Part of it is that I love to write…I almost have to write.
    Writing without someone reading what has been written seems kind of pointless to me.
    I’m taking some time off later this week and maybe I’ll have an epiphany in the woods. 🙂

  9. PP Vet says:

    The question some of us face as we consider in-person interaction outside the family is, Why?

    The guiding principle for me is, “He sets the solitary in families.”

    “Family” does not necessarily connote nuclear family, but it does connote consistent, intimate relationship.

    All of us have a need for 7, plus or minus two, intimate relationships.

    Those of us blessed with a nuclear family large enough to meet that need are pretty well booked relationally.

    Plus, some relationships cost more in maintenance than they provide in value. So the question for some is, Why have intimate personal relationships outside the family?

  10. J.U. says:

    By the way, the package on my Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water (smirk) says “ReBorn Bottle Made with 50% recycled plastic.”

    I was thinking about some “Born Again” bottles this morning.

  11. Steve Wright says:

    Technology definitely makes it easier to sin – and sin in a variety of ways.

  12. Michael says:

    PP Vet,

    That depends on how you define “intimate’.
    One of the other things that I’ve noticed is that I am deeply affected by the trials of people I have never met and can’t do much for other than pray.
    I find myself emotionally and even physically depleted by those concerns.
    I’m not sure we’re made to carry as much as we are…

  13. Steve Wright says:

    Those of us blessed with a nuclear family large enough to meet that need are pretty well booked relationally.
    ———————————————-
    PP Vet makes a good point and leads me to a clarification of my #4.

    Exhorting the need for personal interaction is not to be confused with the preacher laying a guilt trip on Sunday to try and raise attendance at the midweek studies.

  14. Steve Wright says:

    Michael, one thing about the blog here – even when nicknames are used, there is a “real world” connection amongst those here (mainly through more technology like facebook) and that can (and does) lead to personal connections.

    And it’s not like it’s hard to connect that way. Someone new to the blog, if they desire, can make and get to know better the people here pretty quickly.

    So that’s a good thing – and far different than the typical interaction taking place on most blogs I have seen.

  15. PP Vet says:

    For many years I was a very relationally needy person, totally dependent on the IPLC (In-Person Local Church).

    After I had found personal security and family, for years I was very grateful and reached out to homeless and needy people in the IPLC.

    Now that rush has worn off.

    I am fully (or almost fully?) occupied with the needs of my family, and I am left not quite knowing quite where I fit into the Body-At-Large.

    Frankly I feel like a bit of a selfish hermit, and it is not entirely comfortable.

    So I wonder what I should “exporting” in order to more or less carry my weight in the Kingdom.

    A man can hide behind “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly” only so long. 🙂

  16. Papias says:

    Michael,

    Thanks for elaborating point #8 for me. Thats what I thought you meant.

    “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” – Augustine.

    And while Augustine seems to be considering this statement for salvation, I would also include this paticular rest is only availible to the believer who recognizes that God is also our rest from ourselves – our own efforts to please Him.

    He is already pleased with us. We are significant to Him.

  17. Nonnie says:

    I’m praying for Dusty. Oh, may the Lord embrace her in His healing peace and wondrous hope.

  18. Michael says:

    PP Vet,

    I’m a big advocate of doing “the works that God set before us.”
    I think that means that He will make known to us where He wants us involved…and there will be times and seasons where home is the only place we are to focus.

  19. Michael says:

    Papias,

    Agreed…but is that significance enough alone?
    That is the question…

  20. Scott says:

    One thing I am learning these past several years on the road and interacting and building relationships with many people is this, Jesus’s command to go into all the world was not only to preach the gospel but to make disciples.

    Making disciples is not just teaching folks the four spiritual laws or even going through the bible verse by verse in 5 years. It encompasses so much more than. Don’t have time to elaborate on what I mean by that in the ways the Lord is using me outside of the formal church structure, however, for me it has been a real eye opener and a changing of my mind in so many levels.

  21. Scott says:

    Also, my heart goes out to Dusty. May the Lord be and provide all that she needs during this trial.

  22. Papias says:

    Michael – Thats a good question.

    I know thats the struggle of a Christian – pleasing God while knowing that He is already pleased. At what point does my effort to please Him become some sort of legalism or attempt to “win over His favor”?

    I know that I went to CC SOM to become a pastor and when all was said and done, it was in order to please Him. But there was also the desire in my own heart to be “used by God” and somehow validate His love for me. And that in turn validate my calling and value to God by others – and that was all pride.

    Now, if He wants to use me in the ministry, then I’m still all for it, but I’m not about to go-a-chasing after it. 🙂

  23. Good thinking today!

    1,2 and 4 – I agree with the sentiment. So often the guys are trying to use the radio, internet, and such as a way to build an empire. However, I was very thankful this past week to have access to Steve’s, and John Phillips, teaching on Ecclesiastes easily available via the web.

    3 – It has rained for about a month solid here. Weird. Usually very dry here during the summer. Wonder if I could bottle some this water and turn a profit? 🙂

    5 – I think the vast majority of people sitting in our churches on Sunday mornings are lost as can be. It seems that most are Christian in name only, and have never had a real life-changing encounter with the savior. This partially explains transfer growth. When a person takes the same drug for a long period of time, they build up a resistance and no longer feel its effects. When this happens, they just bounce to the next church to get a new high. And the cycle continues.

    6 – Agree with the whole statement, BUT I must specify…this is still the work of God, not the work of man. Many people hearing that God wants all of them, not just their soul will try to be good enough to deserve their Salvation. They’ll never make it.

    7 – They are the Kardashian’s of the Christian world.

    8 – I think that is common to all mankind.

    9 – “For win much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” Ecc. 1:18

    10 – I remember, and I am praying.

  24. Nonnie says:

    A lot of men who are celebrities and teachers are not “pastors.” How many of their “flock” do they know by name, have been in their home, broken bread together, prayed over their sick at a hospital bed, etc, etc???

  25. PP Vet says:

    Thx for #18, I get it.

    While on this topic: I find it challenging to get “traction” in relationships. By traction I mean, we both sense that this relationship is mutually fulfilling, affirming, effective, etc., and genuinely enjoy it.

    This means it is more than a “church activity”. At some point, we become free with each other.

    Is it possible that in some churches, those sorts of relationships are actually implicitly discouraged because they are somehow threatening?

    That is what I have seen.

    Also, that sort of relationship transcends the church structure and will survive between us even after we are not in that same church.

  26. Jtk says:

    ” I used to joke that I knew more about what was going on in the churches of Albuquerque or Orange County than I did in my own hometown. It’s not a joke… it’s true, and it’s sin.”

    Do any of you that are in the ministry pray with other pastors in your town?

    I’m surprised how many must not nationwide

  27. Ixtlan says:

    Christian radio is an interesting phenomena. I think it did have some impact years ago, although the intended purpose of evangelism was not reached. Perhaps that wasn’t the real purpose at all.

    Radio has been an effective means to extend a particular “brand” of christendome into a region where to had yet to get a solid foothold. The web is a more effective tool for that today.

    As to evangelism, I can only share my experience. The non-Christians I worked with never listened to K-Wave, Family Radio, Pirate Radio, Air-One, K-Love, or CSN. They were more interested in KROQ, The Quake, KLOS, KLAC, or any of the Indie- University stations. This ideal of “getting the gospel out” via the airwaves is easy to challenge.

    Our church has a website, but it does not have a radio program. We don’t have much money, but our outreach is geared toward feeding the poor, both in and outside of our church. Of course, the returns on investment of radio vs. social justice can’t be compared.

  28. Jtk says:

    I imagine the loneliness and depression is sooo extensive.

    Michael,
    At least you have some real diversity with unity here. In local communities, it seems small and rare I fear

  29. Jtk says:

    The church growth rate due to transfer membership is between 91%-99% that I’ve read recently.

    Yuck

  30. erunner says:

    Dusty, If you see this feel free to contact me. I’ll be praying for you little sister!!

  31. Linnea says:

    Yup…”I’m convinced that the internet is actually isolating us from each other rather than bringing us together.”

    I’ve been gutted, via email, by nasty, negative people at work. I’m done with that.

  32. Linnea says:

    Also, praying for precious Dusty…she was intercessor in the beginning of this blog and has suffered the associated attacks. Please pray for her…

  33. jlo says:

    Dusty, we love you and miss you. Praying dear warrior.

  34. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    A slight pushback on 1 is that for people with disabilities who are unable to leave their homes the internet DOES help bring people together. The year of the snowstorm that stopped up Seattle I had promised a disabled friend I’d get him some help with groceries because we were able to stay in touch by internet. I was able to get the groceries to him a bit after the snow storm started to hit. When I realized I was likely to be stuck walking an hour through a snowstorm I got in touch with a friend who was able to get me back home. So my first friend, the disabled guy who couldn’t leave the house was able to get groceries he needed just as the snowstorm hit because I kept in touch with him electronically enough to make sure I could get him the stuff he needed.

    I’ve also had friends over the years about whom I can say we’ve related mostly electronically. It’s possible to maintain and cultivate relationships electronically but it requires a level of patience and discipline not everyone has. People aren’t less themselves online, in fact they often reveal their truest and worst selves when they think they can hide behind anonymity but they can also reveal their best selves, too.

    But then I’m not in ministry, have no desire to be in ministry, and do not feel that I have what could be called a ministry in any formal sense.

  35. peggy says:

    #24 Nonnie…. how many local pastors can say that either though?
    #27…. here in Portland we have almost as many “christian” radio stations as other kinds. that said, they are not very christian, imho. they play the popular and trendy CCM, and have morning shows with inane and pointless babble that i turn off the moment I hear a voice. I also tend to have a dim view of the Christian music Biz as a whole after living in Nashville, and seeing how low and ruthless and cut-throat it can be. I do listen, infrequently to radio or on-line teaching. I do not have a church that I attend right now and those at least give me some encouragement and teaching. Although, I hold no illusions that they are any better equipped to teach than any other local pastor, I just don;t have to change out of my pj;s to go to church. And I do not get burned by the people there. I do get tired of the ones (and stop listening) when they start asking for money or selling their wares half way through, like he is holding the punch line hostage until I hear the sales pitch. sorry for mixed metaphors. .

  36. Ixtlan says:

    @ 34
    aaahh the snow storm that crippled Seattle, and sent Driscoll’s blood pressure through the roof as he chastised all those who didn’t come out that Sunday at the expense of the three dozen that did.

  37. Chile says:

    I worked in Christian radio in a small city, but we had a 100,000 watts that covered the entire state, and half of two more states. The locals have given to keep it running for the last 50ish years. The programs included music as well as teaching and live news programs, along with live morning and afternoon drivetimes. It was and is beloved by the people in the area.

    I think that station, unlike many, actually plays a role in bringing the community together. Once they figured this critical cultural piece out, they began funding local concerts with big names and local talent. There have been community events to benefit people after hurricanes and other natural disasters of that area.

    My impression is it’s a unifying factor. Where I live now … I find most of the stations in this big city painful to listen to in that they seem more isolating and not unifying in their content.

  38. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    Mark Driscoll is a tool bag!

  39. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    All these celebrity guys can go to school and get their degrees it doesn’t mean for a second their called to be Pastors

  40. Nonnie says:

    Hi Peggy,
    I personally know several pastors (here in the UK and in Calif) who know their congregation, they love them, serve them, do hospital visits, have folks over for dinner and go to others’ homes, as well as spending many hours each week in teaching preparation. Some of them work full time jobs outside of church. They are giving themselves away to His glory. I was actually using them as my example.

  41. Mark says:

    Michael u know I’ve followed u since the beginning. Every Monday u think 10 things and we can set our clocks that they will b cynical critical negative self deprecating. How about setting aside one “Things I Think” each month for heartwarming glorifying uplifting “here’s what’s good about Christianity”? Probably won’t get many comments but I for one would appreciate reading it!

  42. David Sloane says:

    Once again after reading the things you think I am left with the strong impression that you are a unique intelligent leader. Your thoughts are incredibly insightful and thought provoking to me.

    Thats what i think…

  43. covered says:

    If Michael in your opinion is so “cynical critical negative self deprecating”, why would you even come to this site? If you as you say have been around for so long, then you would realize how off base you are. “Probably won’t get many comments but I for one would appreciate reading it!”, that is a self serving, self promoting arrogant comment. Maybe Michael should completely re-think how he writes on his blog so that you would appreciate it.

  44. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    “Michael u know I’ve followed u since the beginning. Every Monday u think 10 things and we can set our clocks that they will b cynical critical negative self deprecating. How about setting aside one “Things I Think” each month for heartwarming glorifying uplifting “here’s what’s good about Christianity”? Probably won’t get many comments but I for one would appreciate reading it!”

    Let’s be honest with ourselves, sometimes it’s more fun to be negative

  45. PP Vet says:

    Mark:

    Mix two parts Michael Newnham with three parts Joel Osteen.

    It comes out just right.

  46. Michael says:

    Mark,

    You may have a point, but I am what I am.
    I’d love to write some self exalting material, but I don’t have much to work with. 🙂
    The glory of Christianity is Christ and the wonder of it is that we are being transformed into His image.
    That process is messy and painful and doesn’t look at all in real life like it’s advertised from the pulpit.
    My hope is that in sharing my less than pristine thoughts that others who are bumping along the road to glory will know they have some company.
    The truly wonderful things that happen among the people of God are the most mundane…the care of children and often, the care of parents. Being faithful in dead end jobs and dead relationships. Giving when you want something for yourself. Walking through grief with the hope of heaven…enduring and persevering to the end.
    Those things aren’t news and those stories are often too personal to tell.
    I will keep an eye out for ones I can write about.

  47. Michael says:

    Thank you, Josh.

  48. Gary says:

    BEST RESPONSE EVER. Amen! I “second that devotion.”

  49. Michael says:

    Thanks, Gary.
    Mark is a good person…much more complex than he appears online.
    He honestly isn’t trying rip me…but we have genuinely different perceptions on many things.

  50. Oh, I’m sure Mark is a fine guy. I would have just ripped him sideways for that one, but you responded with grace and intelligence.

  51. I give an amen also

  52. London says:

    1. “I used to joke that I knew more about what was going on in the churches of Albuquerque or Orange County than I did in my own hometown. It’s not a joke… it’s true, and it’s sin”

    The only “sin” in knowing more about Albuquerque and OC churches is if you learned about them from gossiping with others.

    “Your spiritual legacy will be the lives of the people you were actually present with….not the ones you emailed.”

    I don’t know. I think technology is pretty amazing and we can have an impact on the world in multiple ways, not just in person. It’s naive that in this day and time, with all the amazing technology we have available, to think that we can only have some sort of spiritual legacy by being physically present with someone else.
    For me, some people here, who I’ve never met, have had a bigger impact on my thinking about spiritual matters than most people in “real life”.

    7. “The celebrity “leadership” (and I use the term loosely and with a snide smirk) of American evangelicalism is so far divorced from the work of the local pastor and the lives of the common person in the pew as to be utterly useless to both and nothing more than Bible quoting politicians promoting nothing more than themselves.”

    Well said!

  53. Ixtlan says:

    “All these celebrity guys can go to school and get their degrees it doesn’t mean for a second their called to be Pastors”

    Not wanting to be contentious Solomon, it doesn’t mean they are not called. I wish some of these celebrities had gone to seminary, where their faith could have been challenged and eventually strengthened by a dose of humility. A good seminary magnifies the greatness of God and thereby minimizes the understanding and effort of man.

    “cynical critical negative self deprecating”

    We have to acknowledge and repent of the darkness within our own soul before we can see the Light of Life. God raises up those who are called to curse that darkness.

    @46
    Amen and amen.

    “The glory of Christianity is Christ and the wonder of it is that we are being transformed into His image.’

    There it is. Pop Christianity has obscured that vision. We seek transformation, but the image of Christ doesn’t fit well into our current trends and ways of thinking.

  54. erunner says:

    I believe you can have a celebrity pastor with a congregation of less than 100 people. He will tell you that you will learn more than everyone else as he will teach you all of the Bible by going verse by verse. Being a smaller church you get to know people easily and there are different ways to be involved. Maybe after service he’ll take a group of folks out to a nice restaurant for lunch as the church picks up the tab. Being so small it’s quite easy to be in a place of leadership/teaching. You can go on missionary trips all over the world as this might be the pastor’s passion. He might be very tough on discipline and asking people to leave for various reasons but by this time you don’t question things as you’re part of the family. Some will leave but are replaced with new folks. Yet many will see him as the local pastor. It’s just not the large churches where celebrities are born.

  55. “Narcissism causes most leader sex scandals. It’s why they can’t stay out of the spotlight after a fall.” – Rick Warren

  56. erunner, yep, I’ve seen that.

  57. Michael says:

    Thanks, Derek.
    Boy, there’s some good thinking on this thread…good stuff, my friends!

  58. Michael: “One of the other things that I’ve noticed is that I am deeply affected by the trials of people I have never met and can’t do much for other than pray.
    I find myself emotionally and even physically depleted by those concerns.”

    I so identify with this. A couple of times over the years here at PhxP, I’ve shared with my wife some prayer requests. She doesn’t understand my deep concern and emotions because she doesn’t “know” my friends here like I do. It is a strange phenomenon.

  59. Smoky says:

    I second that devotion

    Maybe you want to give me missives sweet
    but only Joel Osteen’s lips drip deceit.
    Maybe you’d go the way of Copeland’s drawl
    and a taste of lies is worse than none at all (oh)

    Oh Michael, in that case I don’t want no part.
    That would only break my heart
    oh, but if you feel like teaching me
    if you got the notion
    I second that devotion
    said, if you feel like giving me
    a missive of devotion
    I second that devotion.

  60. “For me, some people here, who I’ve never met, have had a bigger impact on my thinking about spiritual matters than most people in “real life”.”

    Amen London! Me too.

  61. Nonnie says:

    Number 61: Yes, I too have learned so much from so many of you here, as well as praying for one another and rejoicing over answered prayer, and even weeping with one another through our sorrows. I’m very thankful for this little community.

  62. On the other hand, when I speak of London, Sola Fide or Mr. Potato Head, she gets it because we’ve met them.

    When I tell her something that Joshua Guild has said, she just rolls her eyes and says, “That guy is whackadoodle; why do you even interact with him?” (Good question).

  63. Michael says:

    CK,

    We have both grown very close to many fold we’ve never met over the years.
    I was thinking it odd until I read of Calvin’s immense volume of correspondence with people all over Europe…who he developed similar relationships with and did his best to counsel and encourage.
    Maybe we’re just learning to be part of the church universal and bear the burdens of many.
    It just gets overwhelming some times…

  64. Michael says:

    Smoky,

    That was rich…thank you! 🙂

  65. Mark says:

    Michael:”The truly wonderful things that happen among the people of God are the most mundane…the care of children and often, the care of parents. Being faithful in dead end jobs and dead relationships. Giving when you want something for yourself. Walking through grief with the hope of heaven…enduring and persevering to the end.
    Those things aren’t news and those stories are often too personal to tell.
    I will keep an eye out for ones I can write about.”

    That’s what I’m talking about, bro! Bruce Springsteen said once the heroic folks are the ones who get up every day and go to work and earn a living and come home and don’t complain and get up the next day and do it again. I admired him when he said that but now I think he does too much damn complainin!!!

  66. dusty says:

    Big Brother #10

    thank you that means so much to me.

    Nonnie, Scott, Ebrother, Linnea, Jlo, and Captain Kevin -you all are dear to me. ((((((hugs)))))

  67. erunner says:

    You mean the world to me dusty. You have been a friend for many years and I pray God would keep you close during this time and forward. You were there for us and we have not forgotten.

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