An Invitation to Discuss Published Articles on this Website

As a source of writing and publishing on issues related to biblical faith and its defense, this website is open to all who wish to respond to these issues regardless of their faith or philosophical persuasion.  This means those from any religion or denomination or even atheists may reply to articles.  However, all written responses are moderated.  Such an invitation calls for a dialog of respect.  This means that those who seek to engage in accusations, abuse, name-calling, slander, and related behaviors will not be able to post messages in response to written articles.  People can disagree and support their side without being abusive.

Thank you,

Action Faith Books Press

Why the Rush to Get Past Gratitude? Some Words on Thanksgiving

Finally, Thanksgiving has come, and in a flash is disappears into the past.  Most spend their time cooking, eating, shopping, watching football, parades, and other shows of interest.  Family and friends make their way into our homes, consume turkey, chicken, or other similar dishes.  We catch up on things in our lives, laugh, and perhaps play games while gazing at the television.  Meanwhile, as we watch football or other programs, big Christmas sales advertisements flash between plays, timeouts, quarters, and halftime.

Black Friday begins Thanksgiving afternoon and for many even earlier.  Christmas pushes it way backwards and swallows Thanksgiving and even the day before and perhaps the week before.  The mails clog our mail boxes with ads as thick as a Sunday newspaper.  They beckon us to open wide our wallets and push our way through malls and their stores competing for the same toy, tool, or electronics item.  The frenzy gushes forth like an angry solar flare ready to consume whatever stands in its way.

Several headlines stand out from the media about Black Friday:

Shoppers Brawl Over Barbie Doll

Woman Punches Cop

Ruthless Shopper Pepper Sprays Rivals

Riot Over $2 Waffle Maker

Shootings Overshadow U.S. Shopping Bonanza

During this time, is there any thought about gratitude?  Two words make up the word thanksgiving.  Together those two words spell gratitude.  To put it another way, it is giving thanks.  Saying thanks is a way of expressing our gratitude for something someone did for us or for kindness received, a gift, or selfless offer.  Giving is an act of sacrifice.  We give up something for the benefit of another.  Both words focus attention off the giver to the receiver and at the same time with an attitude of gratitude that benefiting of another is never intended as reciprocal.  That is, thanksgiving is selfless sharing or generosity with a sense of cheerfulness.

The next holiday after Thanksgiving is Christmas for Christians.  Yet Christmas seems to elbow and shove its way into Thanksgiving with a rush to big box stores and the Internet to buy numerous gifts as stress and revolving debts rise.  The meaning of both holidays seem to be elusive.

Thanksgiving and Christmas dovetail into God if we read and understand His word to us accurately.  Part of the Christmas story is the subplot of Mary and her visit with her cousin Elizabeth.  After she learned of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, she burst out in a song,

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-49).

What gratitude!  Thanksgiving came to Mary’s heart as she expressed her thanks to God for His great mercy toward her.  Afterwards, Mary gave birth to a son who would sacrifice Himself to reconcile humanity back to God from its state of rebellion against Him.  In a way of speaking Christmas is a plot of Thanksgiving.  It draws us to give thanks for all God has done for us in making us his family through faith in Him.  That faith is trusting in His goodness and love for us and imparting to us a new way of seeing ourselves, others, and Him through a new birth.  Faith raises gratitude and imparts hope.  It turns alienation with others and God to reconciliation, gratitude, and love.  Why rush to get past gratitude to weeks of frenzied shopping, Santa Claus, jingle bells, list making, and stress?  Open the door of thanksgiving to meet Mary’s child, the Son of God, Jesus, who came to give us a new life.

God is Inescapable for the Atheist or Anyone Else

Try as much as they want, atheists cannot remove God from their thinking or conversations. Each time they speak of Him, they acknowledge His existence. Even in their identity and worldview, they acknowledge they know God. They call themselves a-theist. Although the “a” that precedes “theist” appears to them to mean absence, it could also be used as an indefinite article specifying their acknowledgment of God such as in the sentence, “I am a theist.” Furthermore, although atheists integrate the article to make the word “atheist,” they still cannot get away from theism.  Inasmuch as they viciously try to claim He is absent or non-existent, theism still stands out in their identity.

I recently dialoged with an atheist on the http://www.patheos.com website who titled his discussion “Godless from Dixie.” Now think about that. Although his confession is “godless,” he could not get away from acknowledging God in it. God still rises clear as the noonday sun in the confession. Many atheists as well as those who do not profess atheism use God’s name or the name of His Son when they curse. In doing so, they pray that God will damn them or others. Such amazement.

It occurred to me recently how no one can conceive, think about, or extrapolate from the corporeal or incorporeal existence that which does not exist.

We can only talk about that which we conceive in our minds, harbor or entertain in our thoughts, or extrapolate or abstract from existence whether that existence is corporeal or incorporeal.

A corollary to this is we cannot entertain in our thoughts, conceive in our minds, or extrapolate or abstract from that which does not exist.

When we talk about something, we have already entertained it in our thoughts or conceived of it.

Therefore, when we talk about God, we have thought or conceived Him in our thoughts thereby giving strong evidence of His existence in our speaking.

Therefore, when atheists talk about God, they have thought or conceived Him in their thinking and give strong evidence of His existence according to the stated premises.

Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), said similarly when he wrote in “Proslogion,”

How indeed has he ‘said in his heart’ what he could not think; or how could he not think what he ‘said in his heart’, since to ‘say in one’s heart’ and to ‘think’ are the same? But if he really (indeed, since he really) both thought because he ‘said in his heart’ and did not ‘say in his heart’ because he could not think, there is not only one sense in which something is ‘said in one’s heart’ or thought. For in one sense a thing is thought when the word signifying it is thought; in another sense when the very object which the thing is is understood. In the first sense, then, God can be thought not to exist, but not at all in the second sense. No one, indeed , understanding what God is can think that God does not exist, even though he may say these words in his heart either without any [objective] signification or with some peculiar signification. For God is that -than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought. Whoever really understands this understands clearly that this same being so exists that not even in thought can it not exist. Thus whoever understands that God exists in such a way cannot think of Him as not existing” (St. Anselm (1998-09-10). Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 88-89). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.)

Some may claim, “Superman does not exist.  The characters in Star Wars and Star Trek do not exist.  The characters or material world in fiction novels do not exist.  The gods of other religions do not exist.  We can think, conceive, and imagine them although they do not exist and they have come into our minds through an external source.

To this a reply could be given that all of the characters and worlds of fiction are extrapolations of what already exist in reality.  Superman is an extrapolation of men who exist.  His creator simply integrated characteristics of other things that exist such as flying, great strength, and other characteristics and dressed him up in a costume that children now wear for Halloween.  The same also applies to worlds and characters in Star Wars and Star Trek.  Their creators embellish, extrapolate from, and impose on such fictitious worlds and characters from that which already exist.  Imagination is a great thing, because it can integrate those characteristics from what exist and create novel things from them.  The Preacher from Ecclesiastes said as much when he noted:

That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done,

And there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)

That is, what one imagines, thinks, conceives, or extrapolates from what exist has already occurred many times before by others who preceded those who have so imagined, thought, conceived, or extrapolated from what exist.  They simply gave this fiction the settings of their generations and encasing this fiction in that which they knew.

A professor once said of writing, “You write from what you know.”  Knowledge arises from what we imagine, think, conceive, or extrapolate from what exist.  Knowledge cannot arise from non-existence, for there is no knowledge in and of non-existence.  That which does not exist cannot contribute to knowledge.  For this reason, we depend on what exist to give rise to knowledge for filling our imaginations, conceptions, and thoughts so that we can extrapolate from what exist for creating from it some fictitious existence in a novel, poem, music, or art.  All of these display an extrapolation and integration of the characteristics of what exist.

When humanity creates fictitious characters, they do so from what already exist in reality.  The ancient civilizations so created fictitious characters and images from stones, wood, and other materials that arose from their imagination as extrapolations of what exist.  They then set these images up as gods for themselves.  They imagined these gods for worship because they knew God existed.  However, they took from the created material order and attempted to fashion from their imagination, conceptions, and thoughts of God and created images from the material world to attempt to stand for what they already knew – that God existed.

Therefore, deny all they wish, God remains strongly implanted in the minds of all as that which exist. They cannot get away from Him no matter how much they try. Their identity depends on their acknowledgment of God (atheist as a derivative from theist). Their opposition and curses reveal that they know Him. Write or preach all they wish against God, but their words testify to Him even though they resist, rebel against, and oppose Him.  Atheists betray themselves by speaking and writing about and against God.

King David once wrote, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) No one can remove himself or herself from the presence of God nor can their thoughts seek escape from Him. He is deeply implanted in their minds, so try as they may, God makes knowledge of Him deeply embedded in everyone’s minds.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful” (Romans 1:21).

How can people who have never heard of God still know Him? This Romans passage puzzled me for a long time until I framed the syllogism above. Our thoughts and conceptions give witness to and evidence of the knowledge of God. It is undeniable evidence within us when our minds entertain thoughts of God.  When we think or conceive of God, we show we know Him, not in the same sense that we know Him relationally or redemptively but in the sense that we know God exists.  Thinking and conceiving thoughts are part of our experience so that our own personal experience gives witness to the existence of God no matter how much some deny Him.  In denying God they deny the reality of their own experience.

The preceding statement Paul makes gives more evidence for our thoughts and conception of God, “…because what may be known of God is manifest in them” (1:19).

Again, when atheists talk or write about God in opposition to Him, they betray themselves by showing that the knowledge of God is indelibly stamped on the mind and conscience. They can only talk and write about that which exist or can be extrapolated or abstracted from existence. In talking or writing about God, they give ample and strong evidence of His existence and show they know Him while doing all they can to suppress that knowledge. The suppression of knowledge does not eradicate it.  Knowledge exists whether one accepts it or not.  Atheists show that such suppression of the knowledge of God is impossible by continually dialoging about Him.

Those who oppose God and attempt to wipe Him from their existence need to turn their face upward to confess what their thoughts and hearts acknowledge: God is inescapably in their presence and known in their hearts.  Their rage against Him will not stand in the judgment (Psalm 2), and their chains will curtail their defiance until they finally admit God is the LORD, their Creator, and Redeemer.

Part 3: Examples of Atheism Replies and Responses

I recently engaged some atheists on their website into a discussion on atheism and their defense for it.  All of them were responding to an article one atheist wrote called “Debunking Christianity.”

I opened one discussion with the following:

“This article is full of straw man arguments (or should I say accusations without merit) and false attributions while offering not one defense FOR atheism.  Each point always refers to another site, which turns out to be a non sequitur.  If the author really raises a true argument on its face, it would present it without references to other cites.  This is very poor argumentation.  In fact it is a non-argument.”

One atheist decided to reply with the following:

“if this site fails to make its point as you suggest, then just show us that theism is true.

PhD’s in Christian stuff regularly visit here, but they offer no evidence at all that Christianity or any other theism is true.

The inference to the best explanation for all the theisms and all the differences among them is that everybody is making it up. It’s not possible for all of them to be true, but believers of a particular theism claim it is true and all those that are different from it are wrong.

So, …here you are, I suspect with your own version of a theism – probably one of the Christian ones – that you like and you want to think of as true. If you think it is true, then that means there must be evidence to support it. Well, show us the evidence.

If the Christianity you like is at least as true as gravity, you should be able to provide evidence that is as clear as that we have for gravity. The evidence you provide us should show us that your god and only your god must be the cause of the evidence. That is, the evidence must point only to your god. If the god you like is the Bible character called God, then what you want to give us as evidence must be explainable only by that God. Note that ignorance does not point to the Bible’s God character.

So, have at it, I promise you this, if you provide evidence that is as good as the evidence for evolution, atomic theory, germ theory of disease, quantum mechanics, or relativity, most of us who visit DebunkingChristianity will become followers of your god in a snap.”

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I replied with the following statement:

“Since this website posits assertions against the Christian faith (and not a defense for atheism), that the burden is where the presumptions should be? I stated that the article here does not make its point for atheism through the cited logical fallacies. Ridicule and personal assaults are not defenses for atheism. To use logical fallacies demonstrate the defenselessness of a position. Now if a Christian were to write like this on that person’s cite, the burden would shift to that person required to defend one’s position.

Your first statement is a head-shaker: “if this site fails to make its point as you suggest, then just show us that theism is true.” It begs the question (another logical fallacy) or onus probandi. You are on a roll with logical fallacies. Logic does not work in that fashion, because it is not an argument on the merits. Rather, it is simply an attempt to shift responsibility for a failed argument.

Logically, it is deception to attempt to pass on a burden of proof while using ridicule and logical fallacies against a position while requiring the same burden of proof from those you oppose. If this writer takes the view that there is no God, then the author must shoulder that person’s share in supporting the claim. Clearly, the author has not done this in any rational way by setting forth specific undeniable premises and concluding from them that God does not exist. The author has not offered any evidence, as clear as gravity, that God does not exist and he cannot do so. Your gravity example is no more than another logical fallacy of “false analogy.” Did you ever study logic and reasoning? You cannot have it both ways.

The author and you attempt to shirk your epistemic responsibility through logical fallacies and ridicule. That does not work and is an anti-intellectual approach. This author’s approach is worse than that of the philosophical and psychological sciences, which deal in hypotheses and theory. Even the physical sciences approach the real world with hypotheses and theories. Theory is not proof. Therefore, your position and demand is anti-science. Do you demand that they show proof when all this article ask for is ridicule and logical fallacies? Think again, because you are not doing so.

You can promise all you want about accepting theism when in fact you would not even accept Him if He appeared before you and spoke with you personally. You have ensconced yourself so firmly in your position and against God that you would not budge for anything. So tell the truth and rise from deception. Again, logical fallacies do not support a claim. Rather they work against it and show the bankruptcy of your thinking. You pick up the same bankrupt thinking as Bertrand Russell. Remember his book “Why I Am Not A Christian.” Note, his book was not titled “Why I am An Atheist.” He could not defend his atheism but his lifelong claim was what he was against. That is not meritorious.

So now, if you adhere to the author’s claim, support it through reason, logic, and evidence and not by ridicule, logical fallacies, and assault. Do not try the “burden of proof” shift of responsibility. That one misfires like an unkept rifle.

Now if you wish to dialog on worldviews, then cease with logical fallacies, because I will call them out when I detect them. Defend your position and do not do so from the position of what you are against. That is a failed argument and an onus probandi. I would be happy to present my position. However, once I read a logical fallacy presented against it, then your essentially end the dialog, because your argument fails.”

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The atheist continue on with the same line of reasoning – personal attack on the Christian faith and continuous opposition to it.  There was no defense FOR atheism proposed.  The following is the reply.  It offered the same line of reasoning as the prior responses.

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“No theism has ever shown that the object of its groveling and affections is real, so no burden of proof exists to demonstrate the non-existence of any of the tens of thousands of gods mankind has invented over its history. Today’s Christianities have hundreds of gods, none of which is anything more than a social construct maintained through ignorance and wishful thinking.

Until someone produces something that looks like legitimate evidence for some gods existence – and no one ever has – it is not incumbent on anyone to show the non-existence of gods. All of us proceed through life merrily ignoring all of everyone else’s gods.

If you are a theist as relates to a specific god, like Yahweh or Satan or Baal or Allah, you implicitly are an atheist regarding all the gods you do not believe in or actively reject. Lots of us reject your version of a god or gods in the same way that you, without evidence, without research, without a moment’s consideration, feel free to reject so many other gods.

Did you develop a proof that Vishnu does not exist before deciding to reject its godliness? I thought not. Did you work out all the details of a slick little syllogism about why Thor does not exist before you were convinced that it does not exist? I didn’t think so. So, you give yourself license to be an atheist without proof, but you imagine that you have put up a defense for the god you imagine to be real by insisting that others disprove its existence.

A billion Hindus really can be(and are) wrong, even though the non-existence of all 300 million of their gods have not been demonstrated explicitly.

A billion Muslims can be(and are) wrong, and you disbelieve in good old Allah with nary a second thought. How unphilosophical of you. And before you go off on a “Allah is the same as the Christian gods” diversion, remember that Muslims(just like the Jews) to not believe the “no man come unto the father” crap associated with the Bible’s Jesus character.

You, FloydAT, are every bit the atheist that everyone else is. Nobody believes the other guy’s god malarkey. Get over it. All of us reject other people’s god gobbledegook because no one has ever produced evidence showing the god they like is any more real than fairies, pixies, gnomes, leprechauns, unicorns, elves or any other imaginary creature.

I am just a very agreeable atheist who agrees with everyone who rejects the other guys gods. I reject them all.

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Although the atheist provided new examples by citing other faith, he misrepresented them and the Christian faith.  It contains more logical fallacies of false attribution, straw man, and ad hominem.  It also offered no defense for atheism.

In forthcoming articles, I will quote from the four horsemen of the New Atheism (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris) to show how others lay claim to their means of argumentation – that of logical fallacies and their failure to provide an argument for atheism.

Must Christians Take A Leap Of Faith?

Leaping manI have often heard Christians claiming that we should take a leap of faith in the gospel.  One blog I read stated,

You could say Peter took a leap of Faith when he jumped out of the boat and began walking on water. Peter, an imperfect man, walked on water like Jesus did” (http://www.godswill-wellness.com/leap-of-faith.html).

Noted scientist and Christian Francis Collins said,

Nobody gets argued all the way into becoming a believer on the sheer basis of logic and reason. That requires a leap of faith.”

Another writes,

“The paradox lies in this,” he wrote. “We can experience presence—one could just as easily say grace—when art approximates the leap of faith, when it dares to place us directly inside an act of discovery. The risk of imagination, like the risk of faith, instills fear in those who believe we can only be saved by rational propositions. But the paradoxical truth is that unless we learn how to live in that risk-taking leap of faith, we will lose touch with the meaning of those propositions.”

His words (who was this guy?) mirrored what I believed and had been unable to explain: that my writing was an act of faith, that imagination itself was belief (http://bit.ly/1F0hOP5).

The web is loaded with sayings on a leap of faith, such as the following:

“Change requires taking a leap of faith.”

“Sometimes your only available means of transportation is a leap of faith”

“Sometimes the greatest distance between two points is a leap of faith.”

The notion of a leap of faith began with Soren Kierkegaard although he never used the phrase directly.  In one of his works, Kierkegaard notes,
When someone is to leap he must certainly do it alone and also be alone in properly understanding that it is an impossibility. … the leap is the decision. ….” (Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments).
Kierkegaard saw Christian faith as full of paradoxes through which one who places faith in the Christian God must take a leap to embrace.  However, is faith really what he and many other Christians attempt to affirm?

If we consult the Christian’s authority on faith, the Bible, I believe we come to a very different conclusion.  The Bible asserts that we do not take any sort of leap, but that our faith rests on content, evidence, reality, and an object as rock solid as the world in which we live.  Faith cannot be called biblical faith when divorced from any of these.

Biblical faith requires content.  Faith stands on substance and not simply nothing.  There is no leap into some darkness or void.  Rather, the Bible claims that faith requires substance,
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 11:1)
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews identifies that substance is hope.  Such hope rests on the word of God He speaks in the past, present, and future.  It is for this reason that we read in the letter to the Hebrews,

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

Creation occurred in the distant past prior eyewitnesses.  Faith believes the word of God that brought about creation.  It accepts the reality of God speaking and that all that exist did not arise without Him as atheism claims.  Events that occurred because of God’s word took faith on the part of those who lived later.  God’s spoken word then gave those who trusted Him confidence that His word stands firm and gives hope.

As we work our way through Hebrews 11, we discover how the author weaves substance and evidence together.  God’s past actions give assurance of future hope.  Noah lived righteously based on what he knew of God’s activity in the past both in creation and His dealings with his ancestors.  God had long faithfulness.  He complied with God’s direction to construct an ark, for he knew that God would fulfill His promise of deliverance.  God appeared to Abraham and gave him a son.  These events led him to conclude that another “city” existed for him and his family (11:9-10).  Moses also waited for the Messiah according to the same faith.  The prophets knew God’s faithfulness to them and drew confidence in His deliverance.

Faith rested in the God of hope in a future reality.  It was not faith in some nebulous nothingness.  God acting space and time is evidence for faith.  From creation to providence, God strengthened the earliest believers as well as those today.  It is not blind or divorced from the real world or teachings without foundation such as what exists in Eastern religions as Buddhism and Confucianism.  Faith does not rest in philosophical words that have no relationship to reality, such as platitudes or sayings divorced from the real world.  In fact, that which does not exists is not part of reality.  It could not come to mind and be conceptualized.  Those who take faith as simply isolated from what exists rely on presumption and ignorance.  It has its trust in one’s imagination or subjectivity and not in that which exists external to the person.  God exists apart from the imagination and the fantasies one conjures up in the mind.  He is distinct from the individual and not one with a person.  That is pantheism or panentheism, that is God is everything or in everything.

Such a notion makes gods of men and makes no distinction between God and humanity.  For this reason, the God who exists apart from the created order and humanity itself can act apart individuals.  His acts in creation gives substance for what He promises.  Faith relies on this reality and not in the fantasy of finite gods as integrated in creation or one with it.  As the object of Christian faith, God fulfills in reality, in space and time, what He promises.  Presumption is opposite such fulfillment, because it is reliance on the imagination apart from the word of God.  For this reason, biblical faith is not a leap of faith, which is impersonal, but trust in the personal God who acts to fulfill what He declares in reality.

Copyright (c) Action Faith Books Press, 2014 No part of this article can be reproduced or stored in any media format or on any storage device or used in any other published work without expressed written permission of Action Faith Books Press or without proper citation in notes of the work in which it is used. Brief citation are permissible under copyright laws when duly noted.

The Dones of Church

This morning I read an article from Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed by Thom Schultz called “The Rise of the Dones.”

It highlighted that many leaders in the church are leaving for good.  Why? Schultz notes, “The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.
Schultz preceded the above remark with, “Why are the Dones done? Packard describes several factors in his upcoming book, Church Refugees (Group). Among the reasons: After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, they feel they’ve heard it all. One of Packard’s interviewees said, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”
Interestingly enough, this interviewee did not seem like he wanted to play either unless that play centered around him.
I think when we contextualize the point of Schultz’s article, it boils down to what the churchmen said in Malachi’s time. Present congregationalists won’t admit to this, but the parallel is stunningly similar. Those leaders in Malachi’s time could also be saying, “I’ve heard it all. I have labored fruitlessly. I’m tired of being bashed by God. Been there, done that. God’s word is wearisome. So bye.”
Is it not a heart issue for the Dones also? Are they not really pointing their finger at God and saying, “What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance…?” The current crowd of the Dones may also be saying, “What profit is there in being a disciple and serving God in he church?” The cycle returns.
It seems that the issue always seems to find its way in the heart.  It is a sad commentary when people echo the churchmen in Malachi’s time,
“I left the church because I didn’t get anything out of it.  No recognition for my service.  No pat on the back or attaboy.  No since of control over programs.  It seems to boil down to, “What’s in it for me?”
Many want to attend the Church of Me and sit on the premises rather than stand on the promises (as Southern Baptists used to say).
One person replied,

Perhaps, it is a heart issue – but not the way you think.  It isn’t that it is useless to serve God – rather it is useless to continue to be part of a congregation where your role is to “plop pray and pay” and to provide hands (no brain necessary) for the leader’s vision…I understand why so many may be. … especially if their church changed under their feet leaving no opportunities.”

Hmm.  My reply is,

Malachi expressed that same sentiment about the “churchmen” in his day. “Ploppers” are not engaged in serving God. Of course, prayer is a gift. Samuel prayed for the people daily and even said, “God forbid that I should sin again Him in not praying for you.” But when we become exhausted in our prayers, God becomes a burden. Augustine’s mother, Monica, made it her life-long ministry to pray for her son daily. In God’s timing, God answered that one prayer, and look at what happened. Augustine became one of the most influential theologians in church history after leaving a life of debauchery. As for “paying,” that is turning God’s gift of giving into a “pay to play” situation. Many take that one by offering conditional gifts to the church.

God is the one who disburses His gifts in His church. Would He then allow those same gifts curl up and die? He also opens up opportunity. Faith sees those opportunities and steps out. Often, it is what we want and not what God wants of us. Opportunity always exists in the church to serve people. It is not always in the big stuff or before a large crowd to be seen. There is the coffee ministry, greeters, ushers and hushers, custodians, money counters, visiting the sick at their homes or in the hospital, or changing stinky diapers in the nursery while singing a lullaby. The last one does not need to be formalized. While doing these things, the opportunity to share the gospel one on one with new comers always exists. Nike’s motto is, “Just do it.”

Again, it is a matter of the heart and not the art of ministry. This past Sunday, my pastor brought up in teaching from Malachi that we should be taking an inventory of our heart. I like what Zig Ziglar once said, “Perform a check up from the neck up to prevent the hardening of the attitudes.”

Wise advice for all the Dones who are fed up from the neck up.”

Only a personal inventory and faith reveals true motives.  The challenge still remains, Who do we worship and serve – ourselves or God?  Isaiah’s response is very telling,

“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of †unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

After God touched his lips and asked,

Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” (6:8)

The prophet’s reply was,

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me” (6:8)

Isaiah did not say, “I’m done” but “I’m undone.”  He chose the better response to which the LORD declared,

And He said, “Go…”

God determines the mission with the gift and the power.  Ours is to walk by faith by also declaring, “Here I am, send me!”