Purpose




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




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The importance of telling your story

    I know there are people who think I talk about the issue too much that I deal with. Some have told me so, and as I have mentioned before, a lady from my church even blocked me (and my mom and sister) because I post too much about it on Facebook. (And she thought I was too snarky - that I can't help, it runs in the family.)

  There is more than one reason I have started talking more openly and more often about my struggles:

1) I just got tired of hiding it. Wearing a mask gets old and wearisome. After a while, you can't even remember who you are, for the mask has become such a part of you.

2) It is freeing. When you bring something out into the light, it loses the hold it has on you.

3) I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me.

4) To let others know they are not alone.



  # 4 is the focus of this blog post. Imagine that you have a secret struggle or issue: SSA (same-sex attractions), childhood molestation, depression, pornography addiction, abuse, or something else. Imagine that you have never heard about or known of another person ever dealing with the same thing. How would you feel? Most likely you'd feel hopeless, despair, alone, an oddity, and you'd feel that no one could ever understand or relate. The chances of you confiding in someone would be slim to non-existent. The likelihood of you seeking help would pretty much be nil. That was me years ago. I felt so alone and sure that no one in the church, or raised in the church, had ever dealt with this.


  Now imagine that there are several people you have heard of who deal with or have dealt with this issue. Imagine there are ministries and counselors who have personally dealt with it. There are people in your own life who have dealt with it. Can you realize the difference that would make?


  If no one ever told their story, if no one ever took their mask off and showed the world what was underneath, most of us would never have the hope that comes from knowing others have been where we are. Most of us would never confide in anyone or seek help. Most of us would go to our graves carrying our secret, bound and held back from being everything that we could be.




   There are some brave people out there. There are men and women who have come forward and talked about being raped, being molested as children, abuse, addictions, depression, and more. They tell how they got help, and how to get help. They tell how God has worked in their lives and helped them overcome. By telling their story they give hope and courage to others that they too can overcome what they have gone through and are going through.

   It can be scary and uncomfortable to tell your story. You may not always get the reactions you hoped for, and you may lose friends,  and have people avoid you. And your story may not be one that everyone needs to hear.

 If my life was a physical book, I would gut it and remove pages, chapters, and whole sections. There are sections I'd never want anyone to read or know about, and there are parts I'd like to toss aside and forget ever happened.



  Yet everything that would be written there is part of me and my story. It is all part of what makes me.......me. As much as I wish I could change the past, I cannot. I can learn from my mistakes and use them to help and encourage others.

  There may be others who need to know my story:

1) That they aren't the only ones who have struggled to believe God loves them.

2) That they aren't the only Christians dealing with depression

3) That they aren't the only ones who have felt insecure, worthless, ashamed, or like a failure.

4) That they aren't the only ones attracted to the same sex and having no clue how to handle it.

5) That they aren't the only ones feeling they don't belong anywhere.

6) That they aren't alone in thinking no one likes them or wants to be their friend.

7) That they aren't the only ones crying in bed alone wishing they could marry and have a family.

  And there are more..... for another time...... or not.



  I look at what I just typed, and am amazed at how much God has helped me in these areas.

 #1 isn't an issue anymore

#2 is still an issue, but not as bad as it has been

#3.... I am working on those things, but they aren't as bad as they used to be

#4 I know how to handle it, and God has truly worked a miracle in my life. Yes, I am still attracted to the same sex, but it isn't much of an issue anymore.

#5 Not so much anymore, but the feeling pops up more than I like

#6 Not much of a problem anymore. I know a lot of people like and love me, but sometimes wonder why. Seriously. And sure, there are people who don't like me, but to know me is to love me.....

#7 I secretly still wish I could be a father. Well, not so secretly now...... but I don't cry about it anymore. Yeah, guys CAN cry. I have come to peace about being single, and don't think I could stand being married even if it ever worked... I like solitude too much and don't like to share everything I am thinking.




  Now you may have read through this and wish that I hadn't been so transparent........ but this is me. That is my story, my struggles, my scars.....I am not the only one in the church, in MY church, or in your church who deals with these things. Some of those people aren't telling anyone because they fear reactions, they fear losing friends, of being un-Christianized, of being kicked out of the church.....and more.

 No matter what your secret is, no matter what you are struggling with.....other Christians have been there.....are there.

 God has helped me, and He can help others with all of these issues and more.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Opportunities to trust God


Praying to God for help trusting Him seems to be similar to praying for patience. When one prays for patience, God doesn't just make you more patient.... He often gives you things to practice patience. One of my weak areas is this area of trusting God, and I have been praying for help with it. Just as with praying for patience, I have been given opportunities to trust Him....and I haven't done so well.

  Last week, something happened that knocked me off balance and had me questioning God. Now, this week has decided to knock me off balance. Something came from way out of left field. I was angry, frustrated, and grumbled a lot to God. I got worked up, and didn't sleep well at all. I gave up on sleeping between 2:30 and 3:00, got my laptop, and browsed the 'net while snuggling under my cover. The Christian thing to do would have been to pray and read my Bible, but I was angry, discouraged, and very upset... so I browsed Facebook and blogs.

 After I got up and was getting around for work, I had my morning devotions. I am currently reading a daily prayer book in the mornings, and today's prayer was based on the verses in Romans about nothing separating us from God's love. As I got this fresh reminder of how God loves me no matter what I do, I was hit with remorse at failing yet again in this trust department. I serve an amazing, loving, and understanding God who is far more patient with me than I deserve or can ever imagine. As I prayed over my day, I repented of my attitudes and for failing to trust Him, and asked Him to work all of this out and to help me trust Him about it all.

  And now, a couple of hours later, it is still a concern to me, but I feel I am doing better trusting Him. I am thankful God is in control all of the time, even when I don't trust Him or fear He is not. Praying He helps me do better in this area.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Excited to forgive us..... from East to West

   I have a friend, "John." His name isn't really John, hence the quotation marks around the name. John is a great friend who I have not yet met. I have known him for several years, all on line and phone conversations. I count him among my best friends, and he has been a great help and encouragement to me.

 Lately, John has really been struggling with this idea of being forgiven. He did something 12 years ago, an immoral act that lasted for a fairly short time. Now, 12 years later, he is having a difficult time believing God has truly forgiven, and can forgive him. His reasoning is that he knew it was wrong and did it anyway. I have been trying to convince him that God has forgiven him and that it is the devil bringing it up to him, but I don't believe he is there yet.

  I can relate to his struggle. For years, I never felt completely forgiven. I always felt there was something more I needed to do to have God's complete forgiveness. In the last three years I have finally come to believe God loves me, and I have gotten at least a small idea of how great His love, grace, and mercy are. As I reached that point in December of 2013 and have grown in that belief and realization, the forgiveness issue went away.

 My list of transgressions was a long list, and I have messed up several times since then in so many areas, but I have held to the belief and knowledge that God instantly forgives me when I ask His forgiveness.

 We tend to look at forgiveness through our human eyes. I doubt there are many Christians who don't struggle at all to forgive someone for a very serious offense. Maybe I am off the mark here, but no matter how good of a Christian a person is, instant forgiveness for a serious offense is going to take some effort and prayer. And being humans, we will most likely never forget a serious offense. We may forgive it, but it most likely will never leave our memory.

  God on the other hand, does not have to work at forgiving us. Unlike what I believed for so many years, He doesn't have to be cajoled or begged. We don't have to make a bunch of promises that we will never do it again. He already knows if we will or not, and the most amazing part is that He will still forgive us knowing we will do it again.

 The devil is a very smart adversary, and his bag of tricks he uses to discourage and trip us up seems bottomless. He knows our weaknesses and that is where he hits us hardest, never giving us time to recover or get back on our feet. He used this one on me for most of my life, and thankfully that one doesn't work on me anymore, but he is being very successful using it on "John."



  John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us of those sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He doesn't do it halfway. There is nothing more we need to do to be forgiven, than to confess and repent. But we, with the devil's help, make it so hard and unattainable.

 The Bible says that God has removed our sins as far as the East is from the West. I am told that if you go North far enough, you'll eventually go South, and if you go South far enough, you'll eventually go North. East and West aren't like that, however. No matter how far you go East or West, you will continue going in the direction you started out in. So East and West are infinite miles from each other, they will never meet or turn into the other.....that means our sins are completely removed. God will never remember them against us.

  So my advice to "John": stop listening to the devil. If you confessed your sin and repented, God has forgiven you, and it is an insult to God to keep holding onto it and letting the devil convince you that it can't be forgiven.



 God's mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness are endless and unfathomable. We will never get a grip on just how infinite and great they are, but we can get a better understanding than we have had, as I did. We serve a God who loved us enough to die on a cross so we could be forgiven and have eternal life. A God who loves us is going to be happy to forgive us, or as the words of a favorite song of mine says, "He is excited to forgive us."

 When the prodigal son was spotted by his father - who was watching and waiting for him - he had no chance to get out his apology before his father was embracing him, forgiving him, and calling for a party in his honor. That is the kind of God we serve - a God who is excited to forgive us, and throws a party in our honor when we turn back to Him.



When He Saved Me
by Jim Brady and Phil Cross

I don’t believe He’s sitting up in Heaven
Evaluating sinners by their scars
But I see Him excited to forgive us
And it’s not at all in spite of who we are

Chorus:
When He saved me He knew
What I had done, what I would do
He looked beyond the worst in me
And saw not what I was, He saw what I could be

He looked at all the broken scattered pieces
And made a brand new vessel of my life
Every day possibility increases
‘Cause he placed me in a dream that never dies

Bridge:
And though I was a sinner, the Savior heard my cry
His mercy came and rescued me, He did not pass me by


Friday, September 23, 2016

Homophobia in the church

 I read two things recently that bothered me. I follow a website called Your Other Brothers, which is run by some young guys who all deal with same-sex attractions on some level. One of them recently wrote about an experience he had at church. He was applying for a one year Bible seminar the church had, and had to write his testimony as part of the application. He included his deliverance from homosexuality in his testimony, and he was rejected. He was also told it was best he didn't have any leadership roles in the church, and should stay away from the young people - verify. He was later told he couldn't lead a Bible study because of his past. (I would recommend reading Matthew's two posts: Hurt by the Church, and Why I Can't Be a Church Leader) .

   The second thing was yesterday morning. A young guy added me as a friend a while back who is in a Facebook group I am also in for guys dealing with same-sex attractions. By his recent posts on his Facebook page, it is obvious he has gone back to living the gay lifestyle. He posted a picture of him and his boyfriend, and got some very nasty comments. "eww, faggots", "burn in hell", etc. I commented and said even if you disagree with him, that doesn't mean you should make un-Christian and ignorant comments. (And no, I am not supporting him in his sin.)

  The word homophobia gets thrown around a lot and overused like racism does. If you're against gay marriage, you're homophobic. If you say homosexuality is a sin, you're  homophobic. If you are against men using the women's bathroom, you're  homophobic. It has become a word used to shame anyone who dares disagree with or oppose gay people in any way.

  Even though the word gets used in the wrong ways and people are falsely accused of being homophobic,   homophobia does exist. In the simplest terms, it is a fear of gay people, hence the "phobia" part of it. Sadly, it exists one place where it should definitively never exist: in the church.



  I have personally seen homophobia from Christians,  fortunately not aimed at me:

1) Bible college. Christians need to be careful about what they joke about and what they say about sins and issues. We never know who around us might be dealing with what we are joking about and treating with such disdain and judgement. There were many times I cringed and was hurt by jokes and comments made around me in the dorm of a Bible college, where guys were training to be ministers, missionaries, or other Christian ministries. They had no clue they were sharing a dorm with a  guy who was dealing with the very thing they were laughing about and making rude comments about.

2) My church. Several years back, there was a single guy close my age who I talked to a lot at church and who I attended a few concerts with. He was sitting behind me in church when someone who was speaking up front briefly mentioned something pertaining to gay people. This friend leaned up to me and said "they just need to round up all of those perverts and hang them." Ouch. He had no clue how deeply he had just hurt me.

3) Sunday School class. I've mentioned it  on here before, but it fits here. About 8 years ago, we were doing a series of lessons in Sunday School class on different issues of the day. This one Sunday the issue was homosexuality. This was at a time when not many people knew that I dealt with same-sex attractions, and I was still afraid for people to find out. There were two men in particular who had some very mean comments "Perverts" got thrown around a lot, and one of them - possibly both of them - said he'd rather his kids be around a murderer than one of those "perverts".

 Those three incidents are examples of homophobia. And here is one more that isn't personal, and is another I have shared before:

  A young man attended a church where he played the guitar in the worship band. He went to his pastor and confessed that he was attracted to other guys and wanted prayer. The pastor promised to pray for him, and he left. At the next church service, the pastor told the whole congregation about the young man, turned around to where the guy was standing with his guitar, and told him they didn't want his kind in the church, to leave, and never come back.

  Christians need to do a better job of understanding this issue and learn to treat it and the people involved in it in a Christ-like manner. No, we can't go the way of the liberal/progressive Christians and toss out what the Bible says and encourage people to be gay and Christian, but we need to change.

No, Christians do not have to support Black Lives Matter

  There has been a rash of posts condemning Christians who fault Black Lives Matter and who dare to say "All lives matter." There were some people posting that if we fault those people who kneel for the National Anthem and are saying we are part of the problem.

  Let's rewind a bit. The BLM was borne through a lie. The lie that Michael Brown was shot dead by a policeman while Brown had his hands up. The media ran with that, liberals ran with it, and the truth eventually came out..... Brown had previously tried to the cop's gun from him and was charging the cop when he shot him.

 But the truth didn't matter. Liberals liked the other narrative better. We watched with horror as the town of Ferguson was descended on by what became the BLM - people destroying property, stealing, rioting, ruining people's very livelihood - all because a black criminal was shot and killed while charging at a police officer.

 Since then, any time a black person is killed while resisting arrest, the BLM does what they do best: loot, burn buildings, attack people, cheer on the death of police officers, and riot. Sadly, the media and Obama never condemn it, but continually support BLM.

 People argue that what we see isn't what BLM is about... but if so, where are the voices of reason?
Where are the BLM leaders condemning the rioting and looting? Why aren't they urging restraint? Why aren't they calling for peaceful protests? Could it be that what we are seeing truly is representative of the BLM?



 Where are the BLM people when black babies are being murdered in abortion clinics at a much higher rate than white babies?

 Where are the BLM people when blacks are killing each other at an alarming rate?

 Why are the only black lives that matter the ones killed by cops and/or white people? And yes, that is a fair question, for that is the only time we hear from them... and especially when it is a criminal resisting arrest.

   Think about that for a moment. People are saying we Christians should stand with BLM, but they are the most visible when a criminal is killed by a cop. The death of a criminal resisting arrest is what gets them looting, burning, rioting, killing, and threatening lives. They cheer when a cop dies and call for the death of white people.

 And we are supposed to stand with them?

Fact: There are more white people killed by police than blacks. And we never riot. (Right around the time Brown was killed, an unarmed white kid was shot and killed by a black cop.... and no one cared, no one rioted, and Obama was silent)

Fact: There are far more blacks killed by other blacks than by whites or cops.

Fact: The founder of Planned Parenthood wanted abortion legalized to help thin down the black population..... yet black people continually vote for the party that champions and supports their work. Hillary Clinton has said she admires Sanger.




 Just this week, the BLM group has attacked Charlotte, NC. Among other things, they have:

Attempted to throw a reporter into a fire.

Destroyed a truck and trailer while the terrified driver was trapped inside.


Stripped and beat a man.

Burned buildings

Looted

Threatened white people and cops.




  I look at this and the other riots, and cannot help but come to these conclusions:

BLM is a hate and terrorist group

BLM is the black version of the KKK

BLM seems most upset when a criminal resists arrest and gets shot.

BLM doesn't care about black babies being killed, or black lives killed by other blacks.

Many, if not most, of the BLM people don't want equal rights. They want special rights, they want reparations for slavery, and they will never be happy until white people are subservient to them.

A Christian has no business supporting this group. And don't tell me I should do so as I watch these terrorists try to destroy the city of Charlotte.

   I have yet to see any proof that I am wrong, and it is beyond me why the media and Obama openly support and encourage them....unless they want more division and a race war.......

  And these athletes that are refusing to stand for the National Anthem......their stance is based on a lie. They are all overpaid and not oppressed, and they are mostly  protesting the same criminals getting killed that the BLM group is.

 And yes, they have the freedom to kneel or whatever, but we also have the freedom to be disgusted by it and condemn it.



 I am sure there is real racism in our country - on both sides - and I am sure there are black people oppressed and treated badly by whites, but those concerns need to be brought to the table in a reasonable manner. Burning buildings, and acting like terrorists isn't going to win anyone over that has common sense and is paying attention.

 Where I work, I wait on and cross paths with many black people on a daily basis. I have never treated them any differently than white people. I have had some rude black people, but I have had far more rude white people. Just yesterday, I had a nice chat with a black lady as I was outside doing my parking lot duty. I am not a racist.

  As much as I detest Obama's presidency and what he has done to our country, and as much as he disgusts me.... I believe 100% that he could have united this country as the first black president.... perhaps as we have never been united. Unfortunately, he has had an agenda, seems to hate America and white people, and he has seemed to have been bent on dividing the country and pitting white against black.

 So yes, pray....but if you are a Christian, do not support the Black Lives Matter group. Watch the rioting and see what you are supporting.... and pray for the people in danger by Black Lives Matter.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September random musings

A post of random stuff that I have been thinking about (and because I feel like writing, but have no ideas for a whole post)

1) I'm buying a house! Exciting! Scary! Awesome!


2) I plan on registering as an Independent voter the first chance I get.


3) I was hoping to eventually buy a piano after I move, but I am getting one free. God is good :)


4) I wish my head and face were Calvinist... it would be awesome if I was once shaved, always shaved.....


5) I believe before inviting a bunch of refugees into our country, we should start taking better care of our vets, homeless, and others here who need help.


6) Summer. I miss you already. And Fall, I'd like you a lot better if I didn't know what came next.


7) Too many people are treating the Bible like a bag of trail mix. They keep the parts they like, and discard the parts that are inconvenient and that doesn't go with culture.




8) If you're bored, read a book. I highly recommend it.


9) I have been stationed outside in the afternoons at work, and I am getting more tanned than I did at the beach.


10) I am not for Gary Johnson, but I wish he could be in the debates. It would be cool to have more than two people.


11) I am coming to the realization that owning my own house is going to involve some sacrifice and denying myself some things I want but don't need.... why is that so easy to do, yet difficult when it comes to doing it for God?


12) I believe that I like my current job better than any I have had. I hope I can stay there for a long time.


13) I have dreamed of having a room to make into a library...just my books, a lazy boy recliner, and a fireplace....or fake fire place. I can do that in the house I am buying, though the chair and fire place may take a while. I am way beyond excited about the idea.





14) Cigarette smokers have to be the biggest litterbugs in the world. They seem to feel they have a God-given right to throw their butts wherever they please, and in front of anyone.


15) My youngest sister and her family are in Montana until close to Thanksgiving.... and I miss my nephews already. And their parents. But especially my nephews :)


16) Of all the millions of people in our country, we wound up with these 2 corrupt individuals running for president?!


17) People have the right not to stand for the National Anthem.....and people have a right to be offended by their actions.


18) People who overdose are given a prescription for the pen that saves overdose victims. Isn't that enabling them to do it again?



19) The liberals want Hillary Clinton to be president so badly, that if she died before election day, they'd drag her corpse over the finish line.


20) White pumpkins are just weird. So are white Christmas lights.


21) My house will be just a few blocks from a Mexican restaurant. If I walked there and back, would that cancel out the calories from what I ate there?


22) Could I make a gift registry at Walmart and the hardware store when I move? :)


23) I dread having to put my sandals away and having to wear socks all the time because of cold weather.


24) I am the only person in my family that has a Christmas tree with colored lights. I am not sure what that says about me and them, but the word boring comes to mind.... and not for me :)





25) They truly need to get better guidelines and requirements for food stamps and what they can be used for.


26) If my Facebook feed is an indicator, people care more about animals being mistreated than babies being murdered.


27) We have two choices for president: A very corrupt elderly woman who should be in jail, and a very corrupt and immoral elderly reality show host who supported her for years and said she'd make a great president. And I am the bad guy for not falling for that?


28) People are weird who put fruit in a garden salad. You don't put veggies in a fruit salad.....


29) A bumper sticker I saw recently: WWJD? Not tailgate.





30) Why do motorcyclists get by with so much that automobile drivers cannot?


31) I am going to need a stove, refrigerator, dining room table and chairs, and a washer and dryer.....yikes.


32) Does anyone even read these random musings.........

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trusting God during the bumps in the road

 
  I blew it. Yesterday morning as I prayed, I was asking God to help me draw closer to Him, to trust Him more,  to help me get the money I needed to meet the closing costs and down-payment on this house I am buying, to help me not hit a deer, etc. (I hit 4 deer with my last car, so that is part of my morning prayers now... don't judge me) I had been upbeat, positive, and full of hope. Now I was having an Anne of Green Gables moment, as I sat there in my car in the "depths of despair".

  Why is it we can be intent on trusting God and be assured He is working everything out....until we hit a bump in the road. I surely am not the only person that has moments like this. One moment everything is fine and you're on a spiritual high, and than Bam! (or in this case, a thud and a bump)

   It happened on my drive to work. I was merrily driving along....well, as merrily as one can be early in the morning on your first day of work after the weekend. And then it happened. A wonderful person pulled out in front of me. I did something I am ashamed to admit.... I had my high beams on, and I left them on out of irritation. Yeah, I know.... bad. And then the morning got even better. The car in front of me jolted - yes, cars can jolt -  and something rather large came tumbling out from beneath the vehicle.....a dead deer. I had no time to stop or swerve,  so over it I went. My car immediately went from being fairly quiet to a loud roar that announced to the world that my muffler had serious issues.

 It is amazing the thoughts that run through your head at a moment like that:

If that idiot hadn't pulled out in front of me, I would have seen the deer and not hit it...



Oh, he had no car in front of him and he still hit it


Guess I shouldn't have left my high beams on, this is God getting back at me for that.


Man, how much does a muffler job cost? $400? $500?


I thought the car sounded slightly louder this week, now I'll get it fixed whether I wanted to or not.


Maybe this house buying isn't God's will after all. Here I am praying for a way to get money, and this happens. (I even texted that to my best friend)


I wonder what my insurance deductible is?


So much for praying I wouldn't hit a deer. Well, guess I didn't really hit it.


What if my gasoline tank or oil pan got punctured? How much damage did this do other than the muffler?

   Seriously - that all did go through my mind. I am not making that up.

  I was just a couple of miles from work, so I kept my eye on my gauges and drove cautiously, and noisily to work. I backed into a place, got a flashlight, and looked under my car. I could see nothing. The muffler system seemed to be there and not hanging. No fluids were leaking. Other than deer blood all over the back right side panel, I could see nothing. I got back in the car and brooded for a while, as I had my Anne of Green Gables moment.

  My mood slowly improved over the course of the work day, and I decided my BFF was right, that this had nothing to do with my buying a house. At the end of the day, I went roaring home, hoping for the best.

 The mechanic in residence diagnosed it as just needing a new muffler - it was rusty enough that the deer broke the connecting pipe. So now around $130 later, the car is running quieter than ever.

  As I prayed before I went to bed, I repented of my quick descent into discouragement and despair, and of letting go of this trusting God so quickly and easily.

 It is so easy to trust God when everything is going well, but then we have problems, life gets in the way, and then we find out what it is truly like to trust God. And yeah, for some this would have been barely a blip on their radar and they would not have reacted as I did...... but hey, I am a work in progress.

 And at least I got a new muffler out of it.



For Moments Like These

Verse 1
What if all your questions are questions without answers
So you'll hold on longer
And what if in the waiting, waiting on the Lord
Makes you stronger, oh stronger
What if doubt leaves you wondering how
What if your heart says “He's working it out”

Chorus:
Faith was made for moments like these
When God knows what you can't see
And you don't understand, but you choose to believe
Faith was made for moments like these

Verse 2
What if Heaven's silent and the silence seems to whisper
“Just keep hoping, oh hoping”
What if in the sorrow, sorrow brings a healing
To the broken, the broken
What if the thorns are a part of His will
What if His mercy is deeper still

Chorus:
Faith was made for moments like these
When God knows what you can't see
And you don't understand, but you choose to believe
Faith was made for moments like these

Bridge
Oh when you're standing in the in between of what has been and what will be

Chorus:
Faith was made for moments like these
When God knows what you can't see
And you don't understand, but you choose to believe
Faith was made for moments like these