September 20, 2020

Sabbatical Journal + Book Recommendation for my Offended Readers

I’m completing my first week of sabbatical here in lovely Louisville, Kentucky. I want to thank all of you who made suggestions of things to do. I’ve visited many places that you recommended.

I’ve stayed at the Legacy Center on the Campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Accommodations are outstanding. Great bookstore, coffee shop, cafeteria, library and health center all right here on campus.

I’ve averaged about 5 hours a day writing in the library, and that has been very productive time.

I’ve also spent time with IM friends Ed Brenegar and Tony Kummer. I visited the Christian Book Nook, a wonderful new/used Christian book store started in 2005 which is owned and operated by one of my own youth group kids from back in the long ago, John Smithson. It was awesome to see John again and hear how God has blessed him in this new ministry/business project. His prices and selection are the best. Stop over and mention me. He’ll add 25% to the price and send the money to me. (Just kidding.)

The Louisville Bats are out of town this week, so I’ve been watching Little League games at the St. Matthew’s Community Center. The ball park is always a beautiful and relaxing place to be, and the weather has been heavenly this week.

I’ll be leaving Louisville tomorrow sometime, and starting week 2 in my home town of Owensboro, Kentucky. I’ll be logging time in the new public library and the Brescia University library, as well as at the ball park.

One last note.

Some IM readers have been distressed by some of my recent comments about the “God I no longer believe in.” This kind of rhetoric is a way of describing the Christian’s journey to affirm his faith in the truth of the God who is there; the God and Father of Jesus Christ. Some readers have put so much emphasis on what I said about the God I didn’t believe in they paid no attention to what I said about the God I DO believe in.

Perhaps it would help to pick up Phillip Yancey’s book, Disappointment with God. It’s a whole book that does exactly what I described: sort through what isn’t true about God to rediscover what is true. And it’s a great read. It’s worth your investment of time and money.

The stance of the Christian isn’t to hold on to every idea about God he/she was ever taught as if those ideas must always be true, but a Jesus follower is to let go of every idol and untruth on the way to believing the one incarnate Word alone as the revelation of all we can know about God.

Yancey’s book should be required reading for those who are shocked that anyone’s relationship with God takes place in a tension between what is believed and what is rejected.

UPDATE: I seem to remember some of my OBI friends reading James Dobson’s When God Doesn’t Make Sense, and I’ve often recommended C.S. Lewis’s book A Grief Observed. Both these books sort through ideas about God that come to us during times of loss and grief, and then reaffirm the truth.

Is it really all that shocking to say I no longer believe in a God who stops bad things from happening because I prayed they wouldn’t happen? Finding those of us who wrestle with God to be “confusing” and dangerous is understandable, but are you paying attention to what many other Christians have said and written through the years?


  1. Every single one of Yancey’s books is a “must read.” Disappointment with God is one of his best. Check out Soul Survivor for Yancey’s journey of faith and disappointment with God. It’s good, too.

  2. I have been reading your blog (as much as I can get time to do so) the last couple of months and have really enjoyed it. I was shocked to find out today that you too are from Owensboro. I was born and raised and still live in Owensboro. If you are like me I imagine one of your first stops will be for some mutton and burgoo. Have a great day and God bless.

  3. “Is it really all that shocking to say I no longer believe in a God who stops bad things from happening because I prayed they wouldn’t happen?”

    Perhaps you meant this question to be rhetorical, but No Michael, it is a robust sign of sanity and, more importantly, a necessary step in following the way of the Lord Jesus. My own experience teaches me that God doesn’t so much care about happens to me, but that I trust in Him through it all. My hope is in God and in nothing and nobody else. Jesus is my surety, my life, my all. If I have Him, I have everything, even when (maybe especially when) nothing else makes sense, or when things aren’t going according to my plan.

    My heavens, you’d think that not many of us have ever Scripture. Conforming my will to God’s holy will is what is necessary. You had a later post on Jonah. Adding to that, we read in Job 2:10b: “We accept good things from God; and should we not accept evil?”

  4. Ardo
    Science is good, but practice is more important in life.