Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Friday, June 23, 2017

The school reunion

  ** This isn't a happy post, and is one I am not sure I should post, but it has been on my mind a lot lately, so I decided to post it. 

   My school is having a reunion tomorrow. No, it isn't a class reunion, but a school reunion. I attended a Christian school for all 13 years of my school life. The most we ever ran in number was around 100, and many years less than that. This post is not to disparage Christian schools, for I am all for them. I believe no Christian should have their kid in a public school, and that if a Christian school is not near, homeschooling as a last option. (I know, any statement hinting at a negative view of homeschooling can turn a quiet Jesus loving mamma into a raving, foaming lunatic, but that is what I believe......).

   This reunion has been several months in the making, and I have quietly watched the planning, comments, and the invitations to all who ever attended. Since the school has been there since 1975, it could be a very large number of people showing up. I have seen people say they are attending who I have no clue who they are.

  From day one, I had no intentions of going. That might sound odd since I am so pro-Christian school. But you see for me, school has a lot of bad memories. Junior high especially was filled with bullying, being made fun of, being forced to play sports I had no interest in playing, always being the last person picked for those sports, and a lot of loneliness.

   Those school years cemented the idea that no one liked me. They formed the foundation for my lifelong struggle to believe God loves me. I can't count the number of times that I was ganged up on when the teacher left the room. There were times kids waited for me outside to shove me into the snow, taking no account for papers and books I carried. I was the kid always stuck in right field where the ball seldom went. I had things done to me I don't even want to talk about.

   There are many conservative writers who have researched it, and they believe bullying by peers and the lack of bonding with peers can be one cause or trigger of same-sex attractions. From my personal experiences, I believe that to be true. There came to be a time so gradual that I hardly noticed it, that boys were different to me than girls. I felt comfortable around girls. Boys were a mystery to me with their love of sports and other masculine things I had no interest in. I can't even pinpoint the time when I became attracted to this gender that I felt so opposite of, but yet was one of. I'll never forget the time our school choir went to a nearby church to sing with another Christian school. I didn't know how to act around the boys from that school who were nice to me and talked to me.

  As I have watched the planning for this reunion, a lot of these bad memories came back to me. Why is it that the bad things in our life stick out to us more than the good? I am sure there were good times as I attended that school, but they are blotted out by the bad.

 Some would say I should face my demons and go to the reunion. Maybe they would be right, and maybe not. I fear it could cause me to regress in some of the areas that I have made a lot of progress with God's help.

 And to be honest, there aren't that many people I want to see. The kids who bullied me are in the past, and I'd like to leave them there in the past. I have no desire to see and interact with them as adults. I don't fear them anymore, nor do I hate them..... I just have no desire to be around them. And I know some of them will be there. Some of my cousins will be there, and I would like to see them, but other than them, maybe just a few people.

 It is a moot point anyway. I am scheduled to work tomorrow, so I couldn't go even if I were to change my mind. That wouldn't happen anyway.

 But I have to wonder if anyone will miss me. Do my former bullies ever think of me? Or have I slipped their minds along with how they treated me those fateful and impressionable years?

 Regardless, I am thankful to God for the progress I have made. I may always struggle a bit to believe people actually like me, but it is nothing compared to how it was for so many years. I may still occasionally doubt God's love, but it is very minor to the inability to believe He loved me for most of my life.

 I wish people realized how much damage can be done when they or their kids bully and make mean remarks. The scars can be deep, and the effects can be lifelong.

   I hope the reunion goes well tomorrow. I really do. I shall remain happy and content with my decision to not go, though I wish I had the day off to enjoy other things,

Thursday, June 22, 2017

It is a sin, for the Bible told me so

   This has been on my mind lately, and even more so today. A young friend of mine who struggles with same-sex attraction is very discouraged right now. He posted in a group we are both in that he is planning on deleting his Facebook account because he is so discouraged from seeing others who are attracted to the same sex dating and marrying, along with heterosexual friends dating and marrying. It IS tough and discouraging, but I am more convinced than ever that God clearly condemns any sexual relations or relationship between two people of the same sex.

   It is becoming increasingly unpopular and unacceptable to go with God's Word on matters of sexuality, especially anything gay related. The amount of churches and Christians are growing who are tossing out and twisting what the Bible says in regards to homosexuality. The more the world accepts and celebrates it, the more Christians and churches are caving to it and calling us hateful who do not join. They try to paint it that God only condemns prostitution among men, not loving relationships......though any sex between men is now accepted by these "progressive Christians." As the Democratic platform embraces and pushes all things gay, the Christians in the Democratic Party fall in line with all things liberal and preach a pro-gay theology.

   To be honest, it isn't easy in these days to be attracted to the same sex and follow what the Bible says. No, I have never come close to swallowing the lies, but it is difficult to stand up against  these lies from the pit of hell. I have argued and argued with Christians of this persuasion, and ironically have been called bigoted and hateful. If you personally deal with same-sex attractions and believe giving in to be wrong, you are as bad as Christians who do not struggle in that area and don't fall in line with liberal ideology.

  But I believe 100% that sex between two people of the same gender is still sin and anyone engaging in it will go to hell, as the Bible says. It doesn't matter what government, church, or individuals try to twist the Bible to say otherwise, the Bible very clearly says so.

 I am not entirely sure what motivates so many professing Christians to believe and say otherwise, but I have a couple of theories:

1) Dedication to liberal ideology: I touched on this already. Party trumps everything, as even the conservatives and Christians in the Republican Party showed this last election. No matter how bizarre or evil the things the liberals push, Christians in the Democratic Party must comply, and will always comply.

2) Sympathy. They feel badly for gay people, and don't think it is fair that they can't give into their sexual desires, date, marry, and do whatever else they want to do in relation to anything gay.

3) Moral bankruptcy. I don't believe you can be part of the Democratic Party and not have your morals erode. With everything the Democratic Party stands for and embraces, one cannot help but be affected.

   If you really think about it, this push by liberal Christians to say gay is OK with God is really absurd. Of all the sins in the Bible, how can the Bible be wrong on that one? God didn't change His mind on the other sexual sins, so what makes this one so special?

 But the church is not blameless in this matter. We have twisted and ignored what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage and have winked at sex outside of marriage. We have not held our moral ground when we should have, and have caved in these other areas. It should be no surprise that so many churches are caving in this area. One has to wonder how long it will be before conservative churches also cave on this issue. Hopefully never, but only God knows. I do believe the battle will grow worse, and the day may come when you can't even have a job if you dare say it is wrong and sinful. Rights and freedoms of Christians usually lose in the face of gay rights.

  But as the conservative church continues to take a stand against this sin, they cannot forget that these are people God loves caught up in this sin. Yes, some of them are hateful and want to stamp out all Christians who dare disagree with them, but God loves even the most militant gay person.

   And we also must not forget there are people dealing with this issue all around us. For years, I sat in the church pew struggling and hurting. Most people had no clue to my struggles. I heard the jokes, the disparaging remarks, the mocking, etc. I am not alone. Guys (and women) like me are all around Christians. We sit in the pews you sit in. We are in your family, we are in your circle of friends. Some of us manage to marry and make it work. Others remain single, hoping no one ever suspects the truth as we laugh off comments and questions about dating and marriage,

 The conservative church must never give in. It is not love to pat a person on the back and tell them their sin really isn't a sin and God is fine with their lifestyle. I shudder when I think of all the souls being led astray by pro-gay theology, and how many will miss Heaven after being assured they are OK the way they are and that they can be Christian and gay.

  On the flip side, we must be careful how we fight this sin and agenda and be careful we don't shoot the wounded among us. We are no better if we cause people to miss Heaven because of our attitude and hate towards what they struggle with.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The real tragedy of Orlando

  One year ago today, a radical Muslim walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL and started shooting. Forty-nine people died at his hand. It was sad and a senseless tragedy brought on by a religion that seems intent on wiping anyone off the face of the earth who is not a Muslim.

 Much has been said and written about the victims. There are people who would say they deserved death for being gay. I personally know some people who would feel that way. I never felt that way. I did and do feel the media and our pro-gay president and media made more out of it since the victims were gay than if they were not, but that is beside the point. Forty-nine people were murdered by an evil man in  the name of his evil religion.

 But as I thought on this tragedy today, the thought came to my mind that many are missing the real tragedy of the Orlando shooting. Non-Christians and the liberal or "progressive" Christians definitely wouldn't get it, and would argue the point I am going to make. The real tragedy of the Orlando shooting was not forty-nine lives cut short, but forty-nine souls sent into eternity, all likely without God.

 No one goes to hell anymore. No matter how godless people are, they are always in Heaven when they did, in a "better place", and better off. I am sure those forty-nine people are just assumed to be in Heaven by the majority of Americans.

 But if you are a Bible-believing Christian who does not try to twist the Bible to say what you want, you know homosexuality is a sin. You know the Bible says that anyone engaging in that sin will go to hell, a very inconvenient truth for we who are attracted to the same sex. There is a 99.99% chance that all of those forty-nine people were unrepentant sinners. I say that instead of 100%, as I have known of Christians who go into gay bars to witness and show love to gay people....... but the chances are that all forty-nine people were unrepentant gay people living the gay lifestyle and all that goes with it. The chances are, unless some of them had a chance to repent before they breathed their last, that all forty-nine dropped into an eternity without God where they will spent forever in  the place called hell.

 The real tragedy of the Orlando shooting is that so many people died without God. They may have been nice people and good people by the world's standards. But they lived and died for their sexual desires. Had they served God instead of their sexual desires, they wouldn't have been in that gay nightclub. But they were living for their gay desires and were in a gay nightclub that fateful evening. Only God knows if any of them repented while they still had life left in them.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The best freedom of all

  I recently joined a new Facebook group a friend of mine just started. I like the idea of the group, and I like and admire this friend. However the group seems to be at least half full of a bunch of anarchistic nut jobs who seem to hate a lot about our country, our flag, our pledge, and anything they feel they have to do that they don't want to do. I have been annoyed and disgusted by some of the insanity that I may leave the group.

 I took a walk this evening on the trail near me, and did something I don't do often. I picked the country playlist on my iPod. I don't listen to much secular music, and am picky about what I listen to. A song played that got me thinking about these people in that group. The song is called Only In America. Here are some of the words:

Sun coming' up over New York City
School bus driver in a traffic jam
Staring out at the faces in a rear view mirror
Lookin' at the promise of the Promised Land

One kid dreams of fame and fortune
One kid helps pay the rent
One could end up going to prison
One just might be president
Only in America
Dreamin' in red white and blue
Only in America

Where we dream as big as we want to
We all get a chance
Everybody gets to dance
Only in America

  Now I get it. There is a lot that is bad in our country. We are losing freedoms and rights at an alarming speed. The Bible nor the Constitution don't seem to matter to many people anymore. Our country has drifted far from the Christian principles it was founded on, and one could scarcely call it a Christian nation anymore.

 But I am still glad to be an American. I still believe we are the best country in the world. I am still thankful for those who sacrificed and gave their lives so we can enjoy the freedoms we have. And as I thought on these things along with these unhappy people I mentioned, the thought came to me that they are all overlooking something important: we still have the most important freedom of all. We are free to worship as we please. Every Sunday we can go to the church of our choice and worship God as we please. Not everyone enjoys that freedom in other countries. Christians across the globe are dying for their faith while we grumble about taxes, enforced education, too many people in jail, and a host of other things we whine and complain about.

 None of us here in America need to fear being a Christian. There's no crowd waiting outside our church or home to torture or kill us for our faith. None of the other stuff really matters in the grand scheme of things. But this freedom to worship God as we please... that is big. That is important.

 So to those whining and criticizing our country because they feel they have to do too much they don't want to do: focus on the most important freedom you still have. Remember there are many who don't have that freedom and are suffering and dying for it. Be thankful for the freedom to worship as you please.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Broken Ones

  One of my favorite things to do on vacation at the beach, is to look for seashells. It isn't as easy to find nice ones as you might think. The earlier you get on the beach, your chances of finding the best shells are greater.

 Last year and this year I happened to notice something I had never paid attention to: the broken pieces of shells littering the beach. They are overlooked by most people, and just trampled underfoot as people walk over them looking for whole shells. But I really looked at these broken pieces last year, and again this morning. They are very pretty and smooth. Even though they are broken off, they have no rough edges. The ocean has beat them against other shells, rocks, and the ocean itself to smooth off the rough edges, leaving various sizes of smooth slightly curved pieces of shells.

  I picked up several last year, but never took them home. I started collecting them this morning and plan on taking them home. What I will do with them, I have no idea.... but they are too attractive to me to pass up and leave lying on the beach.

 And they carry a powerful lesson, these broken shells. Many of us have all been broken in some way, some of us more than others. The devil likes to convince us that we are worthless and that God cannot use people who are broken. Yet, just like these shells are attractive in their broken condition, so are we to God. No matter how far we have gone, no matter how much we have messed up what we think His plan is for our lives, and no matter how broken we are..... God loves us and can use us.

  There are uses for shells that are broken that won't work for whole shells. And God can use those people who have been broken in ways He could never use those who never have, or those who would never admit to their broken condition,

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The way we talk to ourselves


"That was stupid"

"You're fat and ugly"

"You are such a failure"

"You're so dumb"

  Imagine if I went around telling people those things. Well, those are things I tell myself on a daily basis. 

 Lately, I have been thinking about this habit of telling myself these very mean things. It cannot be pleasing to God. If He doesn't want us talking to others like that, then I am sure He wouldn't want us talking to ourselves that way.

 It is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are all created by God with different talents and abilities. Just because I can't do something as well as someone else, it does not make me stupid or a failure. As Einstein said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Besides, if we constantly put ourselves down, we will start to believe what we are saying.

 We spend too much time comparing ourselves to each other. We should be trying to be as much like Jesus as we possibly can. When we compare ourselves to each other, it is too easy to think we are better than we are or worse than we are. 

 Some of us are too hard on the man or woman in the mirror, and then there are those who are too easy on that person. This post is about we who are too hard on ourselves. Maybe part of the problem is we forget which world we are living for. Up in Heaven, it won't matter what kind of car I drove. It won't matter that I was lousy at sports and mechanical work. God doesn't care that I pay Walmart to change my oil. He doesn't care that I think football is boring and stupid, and that I still equate golf with old men in ugly plaid shorts.

 He cares about what we are doing for Him. If I am honest, the times I am being hard on myself involve temporal things. They are times when I am too concerned about my happiness and how I appear to others. Yet He is the only one I should care about pleasing and I should be concerned how I appear to Him, not  the world around me.

 So I shall try to turn over a new leaf and not be so hard on this guy that God loved enough to die for. God doesn't make junk, so it is time I stop treating Mark like he is junk.

Mid-May musings

Some random stuff going through my mind

1) Thinking for ourselves

   I fear there is a shortage of people thinking for themselves. They do, think, and react to whatever their church, political party, etc tells them to.

 This past election was proof of that. No one wanted anyone thinking for themselves. The demand was vote for the guy on the Republican ticket, period.

 I have asked some tough questions of people in my church as to why this, or why that...... and no one can give an answer. The implied answer is "just do what the church tells you to.

 There is such a thing as being a rebel and not wanting to do anything that is expected of you. There is also such a  thing as being a robot that never, ever questions anything or anyone.

2) Weight

 If I ever get so big that I need a motorized wheel chair at Walmart, I hope my family locks me in a room and shoves carrot and celery sticks under the door.......

3) Lighthouses and fears

  Last year, I climbed the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in spite of my lifelong fear of heights. I am planning on climbing it again this year.

4) Stores and emails

  I have found it profitable to sign up  for emails from stores and restaurants. A couple of my favorite restaurants often send me coupons for free appetizers, or a percentage off my bill. For my birthday, I have so far received a $5 coupon off a $5 or more purchase at an auto parts store, a coupon for a free appetizer at Texas Roadhouse, $5 off at Ponderosa Steak House, and free pie at O' Charley's.

5) Reading pile

  I have a stack of around 10 books I am taking on vacation. I normally read that many books while on vacation.

6) Politics

  Not voting for either major party gives a person an interesting perspective. I see Obama supporters criticizing Trump for things Obama did or did worse. I also see Trump supporters being silent about things he does that Obama did. Evidently if your guy wins, it doesn't matter what he does...it just matters what the other guy does.

7) Day off

  Yesterday was the first of 2 days off. I took my youngest sister and my nephews to Salem to shop since they are down a vehicle. They bought me my favorite pizza for lunch, an early birthday gesture. I hit up the Radio Shack two stores over that is closing, and got some great deals on a few things I wanted and needed. Portable charger pack, USB to micro USB cable, cell phone wall charger, and headphones: $30. Everything I bought was either 70% or 80% off.

8) Packing

   I have started packing for vacation, and oh what fun it is. I always take too much, so I am trying to apply more wisdom to my packing this year. Vacation is fast approaching. We are staying in a larger house than we usually stay in.... 6 bedrooms, 6 1/2 baths. I can't wait. :)

7) Bloody meat

  There are a lot of people who like their meat oozing blood. But what if the Bible condemns that? In the book of Acts there is a verse that sounds like it does....unless of course, you like meat that way. In that case, you'll ignore it like others ignore inconvenient Bible passages and claim it doesn't really mean that.

 And by the way.......restaurants never have warnings about well done meats, but do about under-cooked meats.

19 “Therefore, I conclude that we shouldn’t create problems for Gentiles who turn to God. 20 Instead, we should write a letter, telling them to avoid the pollution associated with idols, sexual immorality, eating meat from strangled animals, and consuming blood.

8) Trump and Obama

   Sometimes Donald Trump sounds and acts eerily like Obama......such as this week when he announced Islam to be one of the greatest world religions. Really?! What reality do those two men live in?!

9) Forgiveness

  Do we Christians really forgive? There are people who can't handle their favorite politician or their voting choices questioned and criticized, which is a pretty small thing in life.....

 I read of Christians who forgive some really big wrongs done to them, and then look at the average Christian in my world - including me - and have to shake my head. How would we ever forgive a major wrong if we can't forgive small things people do that irritate or hurt us?

10) Church bathrooms

  A while back, I posted that I was against my church building on to our church sanctuary to make more room I don't believe we need. I still feel that way, but have to give kudos to the powers that be for one thing: They are making the bathrooms bigger. For a congregation that runs 230-250 most of the time, we had bathrooms for two people. The men's had a toilet in a stall, and one urinal. The women's had 2 toilets in stalls and no urinal....of course. We do have bathrooms in the basement, also for two people...... but for a church our size, we definitely have not had big enough bathrooms.

11) Tyndale Publishing

   Tyndale Publishing has a rewards website where you get points for doing various things. I am up to 520 points, which is a lot, and I can't find anything I want. Methinks they need to add more products.

12) Praying to saints

  There is a lot I don't get about Catholics, but one major thing is why they pray to saints. It seems like idolatry, and why not go straight to God as we can? Jesus' death and resurrection did away with any need for a middle man, why go back to the days when people needed a middle man?

13) Graduation

  My second oldest niece is graduating Friday evening. That makes me feel really old, but I am proud of her.