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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

September stuff, take 2

  Man, what HAS gotten into me. A third blog post in a little over a week. Well, a third started. It is Sunday evening the 8th, but I can't see me finishing it tonight. Maybe I am in a better frame of mind since the worry about moving is not an issue anymore. I shall not question my mood and urge to blog, and will just do it.

1) The Bible on electronic devices

  There are people who are against the use of electronic devices in church to read Scripture from. It isn't a surprise. Someone, somewhere is against everything. Someone is even against you. And me. Don't feel badly. There are a lot of people against God Himself, so you are in good company.

  Do they have a point? Are they right to be bothered by it?

  I have thought about it, and hit someone up this morning who I have a lot of confidence in and really like as a person. He uses a tablet of some kind to read Scripture from in church. I prefaced my question by making sure he does do that, and he does. I asked, "What would you say to someone who criticizes the use of electronic devices to read Scripture from in church?" His thoughts on that pretty much echoed my own.

 What he said, and I was thinking is a nutshell this: The Bible contains God's Word. The book itself isn't technically God's Word. It is a medium. To read it on a tablet or phone is no different or worse than reading it from the printed page, or listening to it on a CD or MP3 player.

 He made the point that by carrying a Bible, you can be a witness, but that shouldn't be your only reason to carry it, and anyone can carry one and not live like they should.

  It is a matter of preference. I find it very convenient to have a Bible app where I can pull up any verse on about any translation I want on a small device I carry with me. A Bible that fits in my pocket is not something I could read at this point in my life. Believe me. I had one and could not read it.

 Where did the phrase "in a nutshell" come from anyway?

2) The greater good

  The greater good is a phrase I have heard a lot over the years. It is often used when doing something one doesn't necessarily want to do, or when trying to convince someone to do something they don't want to do.

  There is a really good book I finished this evening that had a discussion between two fictional characters about the greater good. The gist is that what the greater good is depends on the person and what is important to them. It isn't something I really ever thought about, and I enjoyed the new (to me) thought. Here is the conversation:

Maybe I am the only one who found that interesting, but I did. The greater good can change so much depending on one's beliefs and ideology, and shouldn't what God wants always be the greater good?  

3) The duplex

   I know I talked about it in my last post, but I am really liking my new place. I liked the farmhouse, the cheap rent, free gas and water, living in the country, having 2 bathrooms, having one bathroom right off my bedroom and the washer and dryer right off that bathroom, and the quiet. I didn't want to move. Yeah, the rent is higher, and there  are more bills.....but I never dreamed I'd find a place I would like so much.

  My futon came yesterday, and I managed to get it upstairs by myself. Very cautiously, might I add. There are about 13 steps, and they end on a small platform. From there you either have to step up to the right to go down the hallway to the spare room, or step up to go straight ahead to the  bathroom or my bedroom to the right of the bathroom. And it was in one piece with the legs inside a zippered pouch under the seat part. It didn't help that it kept folding and unfolding as I lugged it up the steps.

  I am no Martha Stewart...thankfully, or I'd be a woman and an ex-con. Though I would be popular and rich....but I am happy with how I have my place looking (and happy I am a male and not an ex-con). Here are a couple pictures of that room with the futon now in it:

 I put my small superhero collection in that room. There isn't much, and most of it is Captain America. In addition to the small display below, I have a metal shield I hung above the futon...only because there was a nail already there, and I am not supposed to use many nails.

 My neighbors in the other side of the duplex put a stand out Monday evening with a "free"sign on. It is pretty nice, and has storage under it. A door on each end, and double glass doors in the middle, with one shelf in each section. It is 5 feet long, so it took a bit for me to lug it in the house. I wasn't sure where to put it, but decided to take the coffee table out and use it instead. I like how it looks.

 I am so happy with how my place has turned out, I may end up staying home more than ever. :)

4) Day off...and needing to carry cash

  Today was one of my days off this week...I'm on Wednesday, the 11th now... It was hotter than it has been lately, but I decided to walk to where I needed to go today. Both bedrooms have the kind of ceiling light that takes two bulbs, and has a square glass cover that is held up by a plastic nut type thing. The one in my bedroom was missing that nut. The cover was in the closet, and I decided I wanted it up. My first intended stop was the hardware store in town, owned by the son of my landlord. I didn't figure they carried the part, but thought maybe a regular nut might work.

 My walk there took me by a cool store, the Cluttered Cupboard, I had been wanting to check out. It is a neat store that has some consignment, and carries all kinds of things, used and new....like mounted deer heads.... I found a cool 1/18 scale die cast car in a box I liked, but it was $22, so I passed. They had several lighthouses,  the kind that are mounted on wood. I liked several, and the price wasn't bad - $8.99 each. I may stop another time and buy one or two. My walk also took me by The Corner Store, the place where I had bought my end-table and other cool stuff. I went in to look around, and found 7 books in the Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired line. Problem: their books are only 19 cents, and the minimum purchase for a debit or credit card is $10. 7 times 19 is not $10. I asked if she'd hold them for me til later, and went to the hardware store.

 To my surprise, they had the part. Problem #2: It was only 25 cents. I don't think they have a minimum for debit, but I hated to charge 25 cents anyway. I looked around and found some cleaner for $4+ that  I didn't really need, but could eventually use. The owner started ringing me up and said he wouldn't charge me for that part since it was for the house. Sigh.

 I hot the Dollar General on my way back to my house, and bought two rugs. One for in front of the sink, and one for in front of the shower/bathtub. I wanted a long one for in front of the shower, but it couldn't be very wide: 24 inches at the most, or it would cover the register. And I wanted it to be around 56 inches. I found one there for $6 that is a rubber backed runner, 20 inches wide, 54 inches long. Works great. And yeah, the space between the wall and shower really is narrow. The bathroom is pretty small. I think the closets are bigger. :)

I went back home, deposited my purchases in the house, grabbed enough change from my dresser for the books, and walked back to The Corner Store. When I got home this time, I scrubbed the bathroom floor, the entry way, kitchen, and the part of  the dining room that has tile. Then I went up to put the new rugs down in the bathroom. Problem #3: I didn't have the big rug. I hopped in my car and drove to the Dollar General, and they had it behind the counter for me.

 I still have a few things to work on. I got the closet in my room straightened out last night: took some things out of there to make it easier to walk in a walk in closet, organized my clothes again - I had gotten them out of order a bit when I moved. I have shirts by color, and by sleeve length (short and long sleeve), and pants by color. I also got the kitchen organized better. I still need to work on the closet in the spare room, and on the basement.

5) Work

  I really like my job, and really like a lot of the people who work at the hospital I interact with and see on a daily basis. I have the nicest and best boss I have ever had, and enjoy the environment and atmosphere I work in.

 But I have some frustrations, especially lately. First, I'll describe how my position came to be:

  For years, they had a lady sitting behind the desk in the main lobby way over away from the doors. All she would do was answer the phone, look up room numbers, and give directions. My boss after visiting other hospitals pitched an idea to change that. She wanted someone on their feet closer the door, greeting people as they came in, instead of having someone sitting at a desk where people had to approach them. The two older ladies that had the desk job decided the new one was too much. One retired, and the other got another position she likes better.

 The new position is called "concierge." We are at a desk closer the door, and can sit for brief times, especially when slow, but for the most part are out in front of  the desk on our feet. The job entails giving directions, answering the phone, looking up room numbers, helping people into wheelchairs, keeping wheelchairs stocked for visitors - not always easy, as we are short often and other employees come and take them.

 We also keep registration/outpatient testing stocked in wheelchairs. Not really part of our job, but something we do.

 And wheelchair escorts fell to us. I don't think originally it was really supposed to entail what it does, but there is no one else to do it now. Security used to, but does not now. So that means any visitor going anywhere in the hospital who needs someone to push them, gets pushed by me... even to the other end of the hospital...halls that are the length of 3 football fields. I even have to take women in labor to labor and delivery....though at the other hospital, nurses from there come and get their patients. I usually put 5-6 miles on my feet per day.

 There are departments in the hospital who bring their own patients to the front, but many call me to do it. If you are following all this, and thinking it out, you will realize I am gone a lot from the front of the lobby. Add lunch and bathroom breaks, looking for wheelchairs,  and there is a lot of time when people walk in and need help, and I am off elsewhere.

 And there are a lot of times when those departments who rely on me to transport their patients call my desk and I am not there.

 This is where the problem and frustration come in: I have my ways of knowing, and sometimes the guilty parties make it evident to me - some of these people are getting angry with me if I am not at my desk to answer the phone when they want their patient brought back to the lobby.

 I shall re-cap:

a) My job is primarily to help the visitors and patients coming in and out of the hospital. My job is NOT to help other employees, though I am happy to help where and when I can.

b) Employees from other departments always bring their patients to the lobby and never ask me to do it.

c) Do these people realize that while I am transporting their patient, that someone else may be calling me to do the same.... and that often when they can't get hold of me, I am off transporting a patient or visitor for someone else?

 The worst part about it, is some of these people are so nice to my face, then turn around and stab me in the back. I don't necessarily dread going to work, but it has caused me to not look forward to it like I used to, and caused me to look forward to and enjoy my days off more.

 I don't know what the answer is. I believe some of these departments could transport their own patients back to the lobby...if some can, can't all of them? I honestly feel most of them just don't want to do it.

 I don't want to rock the boat, so I try not to think about it too much, and try to be nice to the people who I know are complaining about me when I can't help them when they want me to.

6) Author recognition

 I review books on my other blog, and enjoy doing it. I don't do it for author recognition, but it is cool when an author takes the time to do that.

 One author did a link to my review, thanked me, and made the cool graphic above.

 A little more about him, from a Facebook post I did earlier this month:

A few years ago I somehow ran across 2 books by this author that were general market fiction, not Christian. They are super clean and curse free, obviously written by a Christian. I was having trouble finding even a used copy of the 3rd book, which was actually #1 chronologically for under $30 used. The author is an air force pilot who has flown stealth aircraft.

I emailed him, thanked him for his service, told him how much I had enjoyed the 2 books, told him the other book difficulty, and asked if he had any to sell at retail price.

He replied, thanked me, and said if I didn't mind a copy with a few errors and name changes, he'd send a free hardback copy. And he did, with a cool bookmark.

His first Christian fiction novel came out, and I got it free to review. He had a pre-order deal if you preordered it anywhere and showed him proof of purchase, you got a free cool package. I wanted it, so I ordered one as a gift.

My stuff came today, and I thought it seemed heavy. In addition to the cool stuff...lapel pin, coaster, bookmarks, pad of paper, autographed book plate, and a metal thing I have no idea what it is, he sent hardback copies of his 3 kids books..which I've almost bought. Juvenile fiction is great. Maybe I'm just immature 😎

There was supposed to be a pen, but after getting 3 free books, I'm not complaining 😎

7) The "Bibles of Satan"

  If you have read many blog posts by me, you may know that King James Version only people are a pet peeve of mine. I guy I shall politely refer to as an idiot made a comment (the picture above) on a friend's post, which resulted in me addressing the KJV issue again.

 By the way, part of my reply to him was pointing out that if the other versions are Satan's, I would think he would have removed all of the bad stuff about him.......because it is in all of the versions I own and have read.

  I was raised on the KJV, and we still use it in my church except the rare occasions my pastor risks excommunication and reads from the NKJV. I'll admit as a teen, I was horrified at the idea of other translations, but the more I have considered it and thought about it over the years, the more convinced I am that the KJV is not the only version, and certainly is not the only God inspired version. In fact, I am convinced it is NOT the best version there is out there. Consider a few things:

a) This was a version commissioned by a very wicked and immoral king. Did that influence the content any? I doubt it, but come on... that would be like Obama or Trump having a Bible version done today. And then Christians insisting it is the only Bible we should use. Think about it.

b) There have been many more original manuscripts to work from for these newer translations and versions than they had in 1611.

c) Pre-1611, people had Bibles. There was the Tyndale Bible and Geneva Bible to name two. Why and how did a newer Bible suddenly become better than those, and the only Bible God approves of? And if the KJV was a newer and better Bible than those, than how can anyone dare say that there are not better ones than the KJV that are now newer?

d) The KJV we use today is not the original KJV. It is an updated and clearer version of the 1611. Isn't it a bit hypocritical to be so radical to slam we who use newer versions when those radical people are not using the original 1611 KJV? I challenge them to do that. I have looked through it. :)

  My favorite current version is the English Standard Version. I use it in Sunday School, and it is interesting to see the differences in versions. I'll give an example of what I noticed this morning in the first two verses of Mark 2. The wording is a lot different, yet it says the same thing, and is so much more clearer and how we talk today:

And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.

  I firmly believe we are better off to use a few different versions and not stick to one. I have no problem with anyone using just the KJV, or preferring it. I do have a problem with those who insist is superior and the only one to use, and all others are bad and of Satan. Anything can be worshiped and become an idol.....even a Bible version.

 Below, most of my Bibles. I have a few others, 2 on CD and a couple of study Bibles, KJV and NKJV, which are upstairs. A lot of the study Bibles pictured are ones I got free to review. I would never buy that many. :)

8) Our identity 

 It is becoming more and more popular for people who are attracted to the same sex, but believe in and live according to what the Bible says, to refer to themselves as gay, gay Christian, gay celibate Christian, and even "queer" and "queer Christian."

  I don't like those terms. To me, it is an identity you should not cling to if you are truly living for God. I am working on a blog post where I am addressing it and other related issues in more depth, but I was really bothered by something I read this past week, so am mentioning it here also.

 There is a website I used to follow and promote called "Your Other Brothers". It is made up of several mostly younger guys who deal with SSA (same sex attractions) on some level. They have had a lot of good to say, but then they started getting in the brush. Keep in mind this site was being visited by all ages and all stages of spiritual maturity people, mostly ones dealing with SSA. I'll give an example of one of their problematic posts: One of  them did a post raving about how wonderful a gay TV show is he watched. A few people voiced concerns - I guess there is a lot of sexual innuendo and inappropriate joking about gay stuff. Every guy who writes for the site defended watching it, and anyone who voiced concerns was shut down. Tom, the young guy who runs the site, eventually blocked me and a few other guys my age from commenting when we continued to voice concerns about it.

 Think about it: These are guys attracted to other guys, supposedly living for God, not giving into the desires and sexual attractions, and running a site where they can help others who struggle with SSA....yet they are watching gay TV shows, recommending them to their audience, and defending it. Even if the show doesn't hinder them in any way - which I cannot believe - can they be certain no one reading their post will not be affected by watching it......at their recommendation?

  Anyway, I still get emails with their new posts. I usually delete them, depending on who wrote it. But one caught my eye last week by Dean. Dean is married - to a woman, and I believe comes from a very conservative religious background. His newest post was on his referring to himself as queer, and defending it. Now especially if you are a female, think about that: how would you feel if your husband suddenly started calling himself queer? His wife must have issues if she isn't bothered by that.

  Revoice is a newer conference that has sprung up for people with SSA. They accept and encourage their attendees to use queer, transgender, and gay terms to describe themselves. One attendee, who wrote a great book a few years back "Washed and Waiting", Wesley Hill, crowed on Twitter how wonderful it was to hang out with all of the queers at the conference. Let me emphasize these are people with SSA who believe what the Bible says about sexuality and are attempting to live for God and not give into those attractions and desires. But does it sound like it when they are throwing those words around to describe themselves?

 One of those attendees has a boyfriend who he is supposedly celibate with, but is now marrying. I don't know if they are going to have sex now, but living that close to the edge, I have been expecting it.

 Ironically, a lot of these people, who refer to themselves as "Side B" take issue if you dare say Side A cannot be Christians.  They believe pro-gay theology (God is OK with gay marriage and sex between 2 people of the same sex). Side B love to attack the church and anyone who dares disagree with them on their rather dangerous ideology.

 I have heard a lot of arguments about the terms and identity, and disagree. They claim it is different than saying Christian adulterer, Christian alcoholic, Christian thief, etc. because you do not choose to be attracted to the same sex. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me it is clinging to an identity built around a sin God condemns, and we should not cling to and identify with. From what I hear and read from a lot of the "Side B" crowd, they completely embrace their sexuality. As my best friend put it, they embrace and do everything but the sex. And give them time for that.

9) Loneliness

  There are probably a lot more lonely people than we would imagine. I also believe most of us have experienced or will experience loneliness at some point in life. I read an interesting article on loneliness last week, titled "How to Heal if Nobody Comes to Heal Your Loneliness." A heads up if you read the article, the guy appears to be gay, if such things bother you. This line he wrote indicated that: "Still, I held on to the belief that there was someone out there for me. Once I meet him, we’d instantly click, become best friends, and face the perils of growing up side by side. I’d stop feeling so lonely because I’d finally have a person to call my own.
That person never came." But then you are reading the blog of someone who is attracted to other guys.

  I've had a lot of lonely times over the years. Loneliness is not exclusive to single people, but it is often one "perk" of being single, possibly more among males than females. I may be wrong about that, but as an onlooker it seems a lot of single females hang out with other females more than single males hang out with other males. Unless watching sports or guzzling beer, guys don't seem to hang out as much as women do. And I hate sports and don't drink. I read and shop. And watch movies. How many guys do you know who like to hang out with other guy and do those things? Yeah, not many.

 Too many people have the mistaken notion that they need someone to complete them so they are not lonely anymore. The guy in the article I mentioned had that idea, and seems to have changed his thinking on that. His article doesn't come from a Christian viewpoint, but he still has some good points.

 I liked this: "We are usually alone when we feel lonely. The feeling can attack us anywhere, but it usually picks the moments when we are by ourselves to impact us the most. It’s easy to believe that when we feel lonely, all we need is someone else to make the hurt go away.
It’s why the “someone out there” comment is so widely used. When we are lonely, we feel like there’s a part of us that’s missing. Like we’re a jigsaw puzzle that’s unsolved because we’re missing one piece.

And by that thinking, we imply the idea that we aren’t enough to make ourselves complete. We’re required to wait for someone else to come and make us complete.
What happens if that person never comes? What happens if they arrive late because they’re stuck in traffic? Do we just wait? Suffer through the loneliness with the small hope that maybe someone someday is going to come and take it away?"

  Now obviously the Christian belief is God is who completes us, but even Christians get lonely and too often fall into the thinking that they need someone of their own to love. Yet there are a lot of married people who are lonely. Dating and marriage are not a guarantee for loneliness. And you can be lonely even when around people. I'll confess church is a very lonely place for me. I haven't felt a part of my church for several years now. There may be more than one reason, but one is that most people have someone....especially my age. I'm 50. I'll never marry, never have kids, never have anyone of my own to love. And most likely never have someone to just hang out with to watch movies, eat out, shop, etc.

  Back to the article, the author, Joey Rambles, goes with the idea that we fear being by ourselves. Interesting idea, and he may have a point. I don't think that is part of my loneliness. To be honest, I have gotten to the point I mostly like being by myself. In fact, it is possible I am not lonely as often as I think I am, but when I am lonely it stands out more as the negatives in our lives often stick out more than the positives. If something bad happens during our day, we will remember that instead of all the good. The one bad customer will overshadow all of the nice ones.

  I don't like myself very well. But yet I have become fairly comfortable being by myself. If I actually liked myself, my times of loneliness may be very rare and not stick out as much...who knows.

  Most of us are social beings and need to be around people, but what about the times there are no people around? What if we don't have friends to hang out with?

  I am a paradox. I have my times when I am so lonely I could scream, yet I have my times when I don't want to be around people. There are days I would love to stay home and be by myself, but I need a job......so I don't do that. There are days when I'd like to stay home from church and not be around people, but you aren't supposed to skip church, so I go. Usually.

 Was Jesus ever lonely? I think He probably was. He was completely God and man, and experienced the same emotions and temptations that we face. Loneliness is one of  those emotions we face.

 Now obviously the Christian has some solace in prayer, reading the Bible, and in God.....yet as I stated before, even Christians are lonely. Maybe we should be better at handling it and knowing how to overcome it, but just because a person is a Christian doesn't mean they will handle loneliness well.

 There may not be an actual cure for loneliness, though we may think there is. But it doesn't have to be a permanent thing. Looking back, I can see times in my life that were more lonely than others. Even now, there are moments, days, or evenings that I am more lonely than others......and times I am alone and am completely happy with being alone. Alone doesn't have to always equal lonely. The two words are not synonyms.

  I like the quote above. It has good advice, and may be part of the solution. Don't brood on loneliness. That makes it worse, and makes you more depressed, especially if you already deal with depression.

 It will happen to all of us at some point, some more often than others, and some of us longer than others. We may as well learn to deal with it, accept it, and realize that no person is the answer to that feeling.

 And never discount times of prayer and being alone with God.

(I feel I rambled a lot here. Hope I made some sense)

10) Three day weekend

 As I end this post, it is now really early Monday morning, close to 2 am. Monday is my third and final day off in a 3-day weekend. They rarely happen not requested, but a coworker needed this coming Friday off, and asked me to trade her days off. It has gone too fast, but I still have Monday. Saturday, I worked on the closet in my spare bedroom. When I moved in, I put a lot of stuff in there to get it out of the way, and you could barely walk in there...and it is a walk in closet. I removed and emptied 4 large plastic totes and 2 large boxes. There is still things on the shelf above the coat rack that needs sorted out, but the closet is in so much better shape now than it was before Saturday. I did the same with the closet in my room the week before. Have I mentioned how awesome it is to have 2 walk in closets?"

  A lot of these posts of several topics go over 20, but this is another that I have gone rather long on some of the subjects, so I will end it with this one and head for bed. I plan on sleeping in - hey, it will be 2 am by the time I get to bed...plus I don't really have anything that needs done tomorrow. I am finally settled into the house. The shelf in the closet can wait, and so can the basement. It is storage and needs organized better, but that can be a winter project. No hurry. I don't live down there. My living area is organized and the way I want it.

 Have I mentioned how much I like my new place, and how happy I am with how it looks? Yeah, I have. But it bears repeating.

 Til next time!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

September stuff

 I just blogged on the last day of August for the first time since March, and for only the third time this year. Here I am blogging again. Of course this could be one of the many I start and never publish.

  A heads up on this one. There will be some rants. I try to post positive stuff, and I may get there. The posts like this with multiple subjects usually get worked on over a period of a few days, or even weeks, so I keep adding to it. I honestly don't know when I start one what all I will cover, and what all I will say. I do have a few topics I plan on covering that will fall into the rant category. There are also a few I typed up and never published that I may work into this post. What else gets covered is up in the air.

1) Depression/anxiety

  There is a common misconception about depression among many Christians. Too many think it is a spiritual issue, and you just need a trip to the altar and to pray more, and it will go away. Prayer may help some, and God may choose to heal it, but it isn't a spiritual issue. It is emotional and mental. There is a popular meme going around that is knocking pills for anxiety. It shows pills and says that is not what is needed for anxiety,  and the bottom half has folded hands on a Bible and it says that is what is needed. I am not knocking prayer, or the power of God.....but these same people wouldn't knock medications for other things.

 I would wager that the large majority of Christians who spout nonsense about depression and anxiety have never truly dealt with it personally.

  I'll admit there was a day I didn't know much about depression and anxiety and didn't figure it was something Christians dealt with. A fiction novel is what actually changed my thinking on that. Back when Karen Kingsbury still wrote great books, she wrote one dealing with that: When Joy Came to Stay, release date 2000.

  Life and things that happen can change us and change our thinking, and even our beliefs. I have come to realize one should be careful about what we are dogmatic about, for life may change things.

 And I didn't intend this part to get political, but politics is a great example. After how vocal I have been over the years about Democrat candidates, my opinions of the kind of people Democrat voters vote for no matter how bad, etc...I felt I would be a huge hypocrite to vote for Donald Trump considering a lot I knew and felt about him. There was more to my not voting for him, but that played into it a lot.

2) Shorts

  I may get myself in trouble on this one, but oh well....won't be the first or last time.

   I have noticed something. It is regarding shorts. Look at guys wearing shorts. The average length is around the knee. Guys typically wear shorts slightly above, to the knee, or slightly below. Now look at women wearing shorts. The average length is about boxer length on a guy. Most of them reveal a lot of the thigh. A lot of thigh. Often their t-shirt is longer than the shorts. And to be blunt...maybe it is because I am not attracted to women - too many women don't have thighs that should be shown. Thunder thighs, I call them.

 Why is there such a big difference? Do women want to show off more of their bodies than men? And while I am at it, modest decent women do not show off any of their breasts. Not that I think guys should go shirtless either....modesty goes both ways. But seriously. If I had a wife and daughters, there is no way they'd show that much leg in a world of perverts who want to see that, and more. And there's no way my daughter would go to a prom in a dress like they wear for a night with  hormonal teenage boy. Hope that dress comes with condoms....

  And all joking and opinions aside, why ARE the average women's shorts so much shorter than the average guy's?

3) Books

  As I have been moving, I have realized how many books I have. (and how many clothes!) I was talking about it with someone recently, and they asked if I re-read them. I said I do some. They asked why I keep so many. Well, because I love books.....

  I think there is a difference in someone who likes to read, and in someone who loves books. I like to read books, but I also like to feel them, smell them (no, that is not weird!), see them on my shelves, take them off the shelf and re-read endings and parts I really liked. That is a good gift idea. Since I like to re-read the end of books so well, book ends are a great idea...

  But seriously, books are one of my few pleasures in life. It may seem weird to have so many books, but I love it. My dining room is full of books, and I love seeing that. It may sound weird, but books are kind of like friends. OK, that does sound weird, but another lover of books might understand.

4) Make up

  I actually did a post a year or so ago on things men need to stop doing, so I'm not just picking on women. :)

 I don't get make up. Again, maybe it is because I am not attracted to women....though even I recognize when a woman is attractive....and when one is not......

  There is a very fine line between women looking good with makeup, and not looking so good. And here are questions I have:

Why do women want artificial colored nails? Especially red? Ugh

Why do women want their eyelids other colors? Looks like a raccoon.

Why do women want pink cheeks? Why not the color God made us?

Why pluck eyebrows and paint fake ones on? Were the ones God gave not good enough?

If women are the fairer sex, why do women need makeup to look good, and we men don't?(OK, some guys do it now too....yuk)... and men can grow a beard if they are ugly...... :)

Would the average woman's family recognize her without all of her additives?

Why DO women think they  need artificial gunk to look pretty?

  I think it is sad there is such a huge industry built on making women think they need products for their face, hair, and nails to look attractive, instead of going with what God gave them.

5) Settling in

  I had to work Labor Day weekend, but had Labor Day and the day after off. Other than a cookout and evening spent with family on Labor Day, I spent most of those two days working on my place. I unpacked more, and worked on the spare bedroom, and the hallway. I put my nonfiction books in the hallway outside of the spare room, and a couple of shelves and a dresser in the spare room. One shelf has Narnia stuff on, along with a wall shelf.

  There is a futon coming for that room. It is an inexpensive one that lays out to make a bed. The spare room is pretty small, so a bed won't fit well. It won't get used much, so I figure a futon is a good solution. I joke that the room isn't much bigger than the closet, but it really isn't. The spare room is 9'9" by 8'5", and the closet is 8'6" by 4'5". :) I may make that room a reading room, depending on  how comfortable the futon is.

 I am happy with how the place is turning out. A few people (women) have described the dinning and living rooms as "cozy", and that fits. I spend a lot of time at home when not at work, so it is good I like the place. There are days off when I don't even leave the house. Of course since I can walk to my pharmacy, grocery store, and other places, I may venture out more on my days off.

6) Vacation

My whole family, with the addition of my youngest niece's boyfriend, went to the Outer Banks for the first week of June. Me, my parents, my 2 sisters and their husbands, my 3 nieces and 3 nephews, and the boyfriend.

 My cousin and his wife, their daughter and her husband, and their 4 little girls came down for a few days. They stayed in their own place. Our house had 6 bedrooms and 6 1/2 baths. Caleb (the boyfriend) stayed in a sitting room on the first floor beside the bedroom my nephews occupied. My parents' room was on the 3rd floor, and the rest of us occupied the 4 bedrooms on the second floor.

 As we have done the last few trips there, we took matching clothes and did photos on the beach. This year, it was some combination of red, white, and blue.

7) Colored lights vs white (clear) 

  I have this thing about Christmas lights. White, or clear, seem so every day to me. Colored are what seem Christmasy to me. I have the only colored lights Christmas tree in my family. My parents and both sisters are peasants and have clear on their trees. I do it the right way: colored lights the whole way. :)

 The thing is, we see clear/white lights the rest of the year. Bring out the colored for Christmas. They are so much prettier and festive. What is festive about the clear ones? :)

 I have heard the argument that white lights look classy. Do you really think I am concerned about being classy? :)

8) Pineapple on pizza

 Since I am being opinionated about things that matter so much, how about addressing another major subject: pineapple on pizza. Yay, or nay?

 I love pineapple. Fresh, or out of the can..but it doesn't belong on pizza, unless it is a fruit pizza. Ever have fruit pizza? Man are they good!

 But on a regular pizza?Yuk! No way, Jose'! Pile on the meats, and peppers are OK. But fruit? No. A definite no.

If you are going to do pineapple, might as well throw some oranges, apples, grapes....why not just dump a whole fruit salad on top of it. :)

9) Kissing Christianity good-bye, and the Calvinist cop-out

 Several years back, a young guy named Joshua Harris wrote a book that took the Christian retail market by storm: I Kissed Dating Good-bye. Though he later retracted what he wrote, I still think it was a good book and he had the right idea. If you are not familiar with the book, the idea is that dating around isn't good for when you are later married, and it is better to hang out in groups until you find what seems to be the right one, then court with the intent to marry. And to limit physical contact, even kissing, til marriage. I am a bachelor for life, but have been disgusted by the dating even in conservative Christian circles. How many people do you need to date before you settle on one anyway? And isn't it awkward to sit with your spouse in church across the aisle from your former girlfriend or boyfriend who you locked lips with, held hands, etc?

  Back to Mr Harris. He wrote at least a  couple other books, got married, and became a pastor. Last week, he announced he is no longer a Christian, and apologized to the gay community. For what, I am not sure, but I assume for daring to say what the Bible says about homosexuality. I could be wrong, but my best friend and I both expect either he or his wife to come out as gay at some point.

   I am not going to knock him. I don't know what led to his decision, and find it sad. Social media is full of opinions about him of course. One thread I was reading had claims by some people that he never was a Christian. I could bet the farm and win that these people are Calvinists. One of  their major beliefs is that once you are a Christian, you can never not be one. You are in for eternity, and there is no way you will miss Heaven or leave God. To put it as nicely as I can... I totally disagree, and believe that is not Biblical. And isn't that the judging the Bible DOES condemn.....to say a person was never a Christian because they don't fit into your theological box of beliefs?

   I have talked to many Calvinists over the years, and put a scenario to them: What if someone is genuinely saved as a young person. Life gets rough, they get discouraged, and go further and further into sin until they are committing murder. Do you mean to tell me God is going to welcome them into Heaven? The response of everyone I asked that, or a similar scenario: "Well then they were never saved in the first place."

  I call that the Calvinist cop-out. Joshua Harris and others like him don't fit into the theology of Calvinists, so they just declare that they were never Christians in the first place. How do they know that? Isn't that judging to say someone who does what Harris has done was never a Christian in the first place? There is no Biblical evidence of once saved always saved, and if we can't walk or fall away, then why are there so many warnings about it?

   We need to pray for Joshua, that God brings Him back. I do believe he was a Christian, and now has decided not to be. To say he was never one is just idiocy and fitting him into bad theology.

10) Family, and my wish

   I have a close family, which is good since I don't really have anyone else in my life. The night I moved, everyone who could in my family showed up to help. My youngest niece and her boyfriend even used their date night to help.

  I am beyond thankful that I have been able to be so close to my 3 nephews and my 3 nieces. I wanted to be a dad more than anything, but marriage just wasn't in the cards for me. I thought I had gotten over that long ago, but turning 50 hit me hard, and that was one area. It became more of a reality than ever that I'll never have a family of my own. I love these 6 kids I am so blessed to be uncle to, but there will most likely always be an ache that I could never have my own.

   This part may sound dumb, but for some time I have found myself wishing I could do something with kids. I have felt this way for a long time, and books I have read have made me wish that more, or cemented the idea more.

 I'll give a couple of examples:

   In a suspense novel I read recently, the main male character, Luke, had pretty much raised his younger sister and brother due to an alcoholic mother. Eventually they ended up in foster care, and he got his siblings out when he became an adult. His dream was to build a community center where kids could come to play games, get a meal, and even counseling if they needed it. His dream became reality at the end of the book, and it was moving, even though it was fictional.

 In a series of books I read several months ago, some people built a few houses on their property for foster kids, and had a barn with different kinds of animals for the kids to be involved in raising and helping out with.

   I honestly have no idea what I want to do. I did the Big Brother program several years ago, and really enjoyed that....but I can't do that again. And I'll admit, I worry that my same sex attraction could be an issue. No, I am not worried about  doing anything wrong......I am not attracted to kids, but not everyone gets that.

 Or even adults. One of the wonderful perks of dealing with same-sex attractions is loneliness. Thankfully, I have my family and my books....but the world is full of lonely people.

  It would just be nice to have something to do with some of my spare time other than hibernate in my house and read.

11) SSA... a rant

  I did warn you there would be a few rants. I am friends with and follow a lot of people on social media who deal with SSA (same-sex attractions) on some level, and am in a few groups for Christians who deal with it.

  There are a few things that bother me a lot related to SSA, and what people say.

a) A lot of Christians who have SSA think their experience should be everyone's. And it is two extremes:

First are the ones who have been 100% cured/healed and are not attracted to the same sex anymore. They think everyone can be healed/cured like them, and it is just a lack of faith if it does not happen.

Then on the other side are the ones who believe you can never be healed/cured, that you will deal with it for life, and anyone who claims to be healed or cured are lying.

  I fall in between those two extremes. I believe God CAN cure and heal SSA, but that most people with it are going to deal with it on some level for life. I also believe it should not be the goal to be heterosexual and marry the opposite sex, but to pursue God above all and if a heterosexual relationship/marriage  happens, then good for the person who gets to experience it.

b) The other thing that bothers me is people saying gay is a choice. There is a choice involved in how you deal with SSA, but no one chooses to have SSA. It is difficult to deal with. No sane person would choose it.

 And lest you judge those who give in too harshly, we all want someone to love and be loved by, and the church condemns it while doing nothing to help those who are SSA with their loneliness and struggles.

 No, that doesn't make gay relationships OK, nor approved of by God. But take it from me, it is very difficult.

c) The third things that drives me crazy is those who say it is a sin to just have the attractions. Granted, the most vocal I have heard are Calvinists who believe Christians sin every day. Giving into lust and sex are sin. The attraction is not.

12) The fall of the Hope for Wholeness founder

  A reader of my blog asked me what I thought of the founder and former leader of the ministry Hope for Wholeness disavowing the ministry and embracing his sexuality (gay).

  I met him, as I went to two of his conferences, which I found helpful. I think it is sad that after running a ministry to help people with SSA that he has gone the other way. He is married with two kids, and I don't  know if he has left his wife or what is going on there, but I feel for them.

 What really bothered my best friend and I was this: On his Facebook page when he announced his change of belief and lifestyle, many Christians who are involved in that ministry and have attended thanked him for and complimented him on his transparency. Don't get me wrong...I am not saying to hate on the guy and heap condemnation....but to compliment him on and applaud his transparency for going back on God's Word and most likely his marriage? That isn't the right response either.

13) My new place

  I know....I talked about it a lot in my last post, and already in this one....but I really like it. I hate to move, and wasn't ready to move, but I feel I found the ideal place for me. Yeah, I am a bit worried about having more bills to pay, but I'll just have to be more careful with my spending.

 I worked all day yesterday unpacking and getting things settled, so I walked to the Chinese place and went to the Dollar General while I was so close to it. There is something nice and cool about living in a small town and being able to walk to so many places. I doubt I'll want to do that in the winter, but right now it is ideal.

 And I really like shaving 15 minutes off my work commute.

  I am going to try to start blogging more often. I like to write, and find it relaxing and helpful, whether anyone reads it or not. So we shall see. Two posts within 5 days is a record for me these days.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

August a la carte

  I have only blogged 2 times this year, which is really unusual for me. There are a couple of reasons for that:

#1. My depression has been really bad this year, and that interferes with my writing and desire to write.

 #2. I have been reading a lot. And I mean a lot. I have started a few blog posts, but never finished or published them. It is like I got it out of my system, and that was that.

  But here I am starting another post. Whether I actually publish it, that remains to be seen. If you are reading this, I obviously posted it. If you aren't reading it, you either don't read my blog, or I didn't publish it. Regardless, you won't know about it either way.......

   Just because I haven't blogged, it does not mean I have nothing on my mind. I always have a lot on my mind. I'll try to cover just a few, and possibly that will help me actually publish this. If anyone reads it. :)

 And I am publishing it. 11 topics. There are more I wrote, but I'll save them for another time, as I got pretty long on some of these.

1) Moving

  The biggest thing in my life currently, is my moving. I was renting the farmhouse belonging to my little sister's father-in-law. I moved in at the end of August 2017. With the exception of an almost constant mice problem and a few issues with the furnace and electric, I really liked living there. He let me know in May that he was going to move into it in October, so I needed to find another place.

  I work in Beaver, PA, and was hoping to move to East Palestine, OH. That is as close to PA as I can be and still be in Ohio. I started looking there, and wasn't having much success. Earlier this month, a coworker told me he saw a duplex for rent. I drove by it daily coming to and from work, so I hope I would have noticed it......but who knows. I called about it, looked through it on August 7, loved it, and took it. I was thinking I'd need to downsize from a 3 bedroom farmhouse to most likely an apartment, so I had sold a lot of things I didn't figure I'd  have room for. I was amazed at how much room this place has. A very nice sized living room and dining room.... and I had sold my dining room table.....a decent sized master bedroom with a large walk in closet, and a small spare bedroom with a large walk in closet. It has a basement that is very decent, and really big.....my worries about storage space are no more.

The positives:
15 minutes and 9 miles closer to work

I can walk to McDonalds, my pharmacy, an ice cream stand, and about anything else in town since I am so close.

There is an awesome Chinese place really close to me.

I don't have to mow. The young guy in the other side of the duplex does the mowing.

It cuts out some hills that are bad in the winter, and areas where deer are bad

The negatives: 
I can walk to McDonalds and an ice cream stand

There is an awesome Chinese place really close to me.

It only has one bathroom.....I got used to two

The bathroom and kitchen are really small.

The washer and dryer are in the basement, instead of off the bathroom which was off my bedroom.

The rent is double what I was paying, and I have more bills than before....I figure I'll be paying between $400 and $500 more a month. Good thing I got those two raises in July.......

   But I love the place. I had sold my dining room table for $50, $5 more than I had paid. My dad found one for $25 from a lady he laid carpet for. It is very nice and has 2 leaves and 4 chairs. I put all of my fiction in the dining room, 6 shelves full, with one shelf around the corner in the living room for when I overflow those shelves. I put 3 shelves in the upstairs hallway outside of the spare room, one tall and 2 shorter. There is one shelf for my Christmas books in the spare room closet......I figure since I on;y use those once a year, they could go there. There will be a couple of shelves in the spare room with a dresser, and eventually a bed, sofa bed, or futon....I hope.

 I was hoping to move at the end of August, since the previous tenant didn't move out til the first weekend of this month, but my new landlord didn't want to lose a whole month's rent and wanted me to do the middle of the month. So I paid for the middle, but didn't really plan to move in til  the end of the month. He gave me the keys right away. so I started moving what I could by car for 2 weeks. About all I did when not at work was move. My parents took a few trips with his pick up, til eventually there wasn't much left. So I moved early: Friday, August 23. There was so little left, that it fit on a 15 ft Uhaul truck with a lot of room to spare. My little sister, her husband, my youngest 2 nephews, my parents, and my youngest niece and her boyfriend helped. My niece and her boyfriend gave up their date night to help, which I think is awesome. Everyone else had to work, with the exception of my other sister, who was sick.

  The kitchen is done...though it could use a little re-arranging. The dining room and living room are done, and the bathroom and my bedroom. There is still some things left to unpack, and I need to work more on the spare bedroom and organize the basement better. And seriously.......I do love the place.

2) Furniture

  About 21 years ago, I bought living room furniture: A couch, love seat, and chair....dark green plaid. It was still in OK shape, but I was tired of it, and it took up a lot of room.....so I decided to get rid of it and buy new. I put it on Craigslist at a price I was willing to take less, and kept dropping the price. I finally put it for free, and still had no luck. Finally at my sister's suggestion, I texted my landlord - not the new one - and asked if he wanted it (for free). He said yes, so it just stayed.

 Meanwhile, I ordered new from Amazon. I can do 6 months financing through them, so I bought a sofa and recliner which I like a lot.

  I also wanted to get rid of my piano, and finally sold it after I moved out.

  By the way, the pink curtains left by the previous tenant have come down.

3) Reading

 As I mentioned above, I have been reading a lot. Most work days, I start a book on my lunch break, read more of it on my other break, and finish it at home. Before I started moving, I was reading in all my spare time. As of now, I have read 382 this year, and am on my 383rd book. It helps that I am a fast reader and that I have no social life. Seriously, I don't. There are a lot of my days off that I don't even leave the house.

 There is enough room, pretty much, for my books. All of my regular fiction books are in the dining room. Not sure where I'll put my many Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense novels that are mass market. Non fiction is going in the hall upstairs and in the spare bedroom.

The dining room:

4) Trump and the election of 2020

   There was a lot to criticize about Obama, and I criticized away. There is a lot to criticize about Trump, but I don't say a fraction of what I think about him. For some reason, those who voted for him think he should not be criticized. That has not made me like him any more, to put it mildly. I sometimes wonder if I am even looking at the same man as his supporters are. I wonder how anyone can like him and defend him. There is so much you have to ignore to think he is conservative, pro-life, Christian, pro-second amendment, and even a good president. And I won't ignore it. I may keep silent for the most part, but I won't ignore it. By the way, when Trump supporters try to silence me, not only are they saying I have no freedom of speech, they are also saying my opinion doesn't matter since it isn't the status quo of conservatives.

 The man has already done more gun control than Obama would ever have gotten away with, and is proposing more.....including red flag laws, which are extremely dangerous to our second amendment rights, and under control of those Democrats not hiding behind an R, it would be even worse, Anyone who thinks Trump putting those laws into effect should fully investigate and consider the possible ramifications.

 Here is what Trump has done and wants to do. Imagine if this were Obama or Hillary:

1) He told Republicans in Congress not to be afraid to buck the NRA.

2) He did an executive order to ban bump stocks

3) He wants to raise the minimum age to buy guns to 21. 18 year olds can be in the military where they use guns, but he doesn't think they should be allowed to buy any.

4) He wants to ban silencers

5) In cases where there are suspicions, he wants to grab guns and skip due process

And I may have missed some things.

 There is so much about him to find fault with, and so much that frustrates me about his supporters and their blind loyalty and determination to ignore his horrible policies,,,,,,I could do several blog posts about that alone. The tariffs that are going to hurt us..not the  Chinese, his claims that the abortion laws in Georgia and Alabama are too restrictive., etc.

 And then this: The Bible has much to say about how we are to act and be. If it is wrong for us to act the way Trump does, to talk the way he does, and to treat people the way he does...then isn't it wrong to cheer on that behavior in him and be drawn to him the worse he acts?

 I worry as much about our country and freedoms under him as I did under Obama. Maybe more. Conservatives fought Obama on gun control and other bad policies. Under Trump, they seem oblivious or ignore it, and are more upset by we who point out his bad policies and actions than by what he actually does,

 I am not being overdramatic, nor am I saying this because I don't support him: I fear if he gets 4 more years, he will completely destroy conservatism, further infringe on our gun rights, and hurt our country even more. We need a conservative, not a liberal wearing an "R" patch. I don't believe he will beat any Democrat, but sadly I think even Jesus would lose to him in a Republican primary....the Republican party doesn't want a true conservative, Christian candidate, or even a decent human being any more than the Democrats do anymore. I still cannot fathom how such a man won the GOP nomination over several decent and actual conservative candidates.

 And by the way, it isn't easy being a conservative and evangelical Christian who does not support Mr Trump. You are misunderstood - sometimes on purpose....you are falsely accused and lied about (if you said I was for Hillary if I wasn't for Trump, that IS a lie), Trump supporters want you to keep silent, and you are nauseated by the constant praise,. worship, and defense of a man you already can hardly handle hearing about. (Picture if you are anti-Obama and a lot of your Facebook friends acting about him like so many Trump supporters act about him).

5) Too patriotic?

  I am a patriotic American. If you don't believe that, check out the decor in my bedroom. It is Americana/patriotic. But can we be too patriotic? Too pro-American? The election of 2016 affected me in many ways. One way it affected me was to make me truly think. For the first time in my life, I disagreed politically with the people of my church, my own family, the majority of conservatives and evangelical Christians, and the majority of my Facebook friends. I have become aware of a couple of truths that you may not agree with, but I believe 100% to be true:

a) American Christians view things and react to things too often as Americans first, and Christians second.....if at all. We have become so used to and acclimated to thinking as Americans and putting our country, Constitution, and freedoms first, that what the Bible says all too often takes a back seat to how we feel about things as Americans.

 Back during election time, a guy from my church was constantly texting me trying to get me to vote for Trump, even though he knew I felt it would be going against my conscience. He asked me a question I cannot remember, but I do remember what came after. I replied "Are you asking me that as a Christian, or as an American?" He shot back "can't it be both?" Not necessarily. The two are not synonymous, and the Christian part should take precedence over the American part.

b) You do not have to vote for your party candidate. I never voted third party before in my life, but honestly felt I could not vote for Donald Trump. Yeah, I took a lot of flak for it. I was told I was for Hillary if I didn't vote for him, that my vote was wasted on a third party candidate, etc. But you know what? There is nothing in the Bible that says I must vote for the Republican candidate because I am a registered Republican. Nothing.

c) Christians are too political. I am not saying we should not vote, but shouldn't we be more concerned about doing what the Bible commands us to do? Jesus didn't say to do your best to get people to vote like you, but He did say to spread the Gospel, to love your enemies, to be peacemakers. What fruits of the Spirit are we displaying at election time? Or is that the one time we can set aside what the Bible says about how to treat people?

 I'll end this with three questions. It may be like throwing a match onto a powder keg, but remember I am a patriotic American. I love the freedoms we still have. I love to celebrate Independence Day. I like to read about how America came to be and about those who sacrificed so we could be free. And my bedroom is decorated patriotic..... If you are offended by these questions, it is pretty good proof that you are reacting as an American instead of as a Christian. These are not original with me, and I honestly never considered questioning these things.....but that can be problematic. We should question things and think about it and not just do what everyone else is doing and has always done. Onto my  questions. I am not answering them, just asking:

1) Should the American flag be on the platform of a church?

2) Should we sing patriotic songs in a worship service?

3) Should we ever pledge allegiance to  the American flag in church during a worship service?

   The average Christian reading this has an American flag on their church platform, and sings patriotic songs during the worship service on patriotic holidays. They may even pledge allegiance to the American flag during those times. My church does all three.  The church I grew up in did, and I assume still does. It is all too easy to dismiss those questions, and even roll your eyes at my asking. That is the American part of you reacting. But what about as a Christian? We are there to worship God, not our country.Should those things exist and happen in church and in a worship service?

6) The Corner Store

 Speaking of patriotism, there is a cool store in my new town near me. Of course, in a town the size of East Palestine, everything is near me. My pharmacy is across the street about 5 buildings down. McDonalds is across the street from them. I could walk to several businesses on the main street of town, because I am a little more than a block off the main street of town.

 The Corner Store is on a corner....hence  the name,,,,,,,and is used merchandise. I had stopped in last week just to look when I was going to a store close to it. They had a few end-tables, and I needed one because I had sold one. The one I liked was $6.99, and they have a minimum debit/credit card purchase of $10. I am one of those people who rarely carry cash, so I started looking around to see what else I could buy. I found two things: a lighthouse picture, and a very cool patriotic ceramic stein. I don't drink beer....or any alcoholic beverage, and it is a large ceramic stein not intended for drinking from. I decided it would go well in my bedroom, so I purchased it also, and had no problem hitting $10.

 The ice cream stand takes only cash, so that is a deterrent for me since I so rarely carry any.

7) The neighbors

  The other side of the duplex I am in has a young couple and their little girl, who looks to be around 2 or younger. The couple looks to be around 15 or younger. Well, I'd say no older than 25, if that, My landlord told me that they are Jehovah Witness. I told him if they don't knock on my door, I won't knock on theirs. They both seem very nice, are friendly. and also quiet.

 I got used to listening to my music and watching movies pretty loud, and at all hours. I have to tone it down now, and have a set of Bluetooth headphones that I use if it is very late or early. Bought them from my nieces at our yard sale in June, not knowing I'd actually need them.

8) Fear vs. trusting God

  I enjoy the freedoms we still have, and I want to keep them. I worry about what kind of country we will have if the wrong people get in power. But do we worry and focus on that too much? If we truly trust God, are we going to harass people about how they are voting.....or not voting? Are we going to use fear mongering? "If Hillary gets in, she will take our guns" (Ironically, DT is the one getting gun control done). "If you don't vote for candidate A, this will happen."  "If candidate B wins, this will happen." I think sometimes Christians in America, and most likely other countries also....but I am talking our country - tend to forget we aren't living for this world. We aren't living for America. Sure, we want to keep it free and not overrun with the crazy ideas and stuff that is out there. We want those coming behind us to have a safe and free America.

  But are we living like Heaven is our eternal home, or like America is our eternal home? Are we truly trusting God, or are we putting our trust and hopes in politics, in a politician, in a political party, in our country?

  Much is said in the Bible and much has been preached about how smart and wily the devil is.....how he has an endless bag of tricks and temptations to trip us up, ensnare us, get our eyes off of God and mess up our priorities. What if the devil is using politics, patriotism, elections, politicians, and love of country to do that? What if he is using politics, politicians, and elections to stir up division among Christians and get their eyes and focus off what is important?

 Nah, Satan would never use those things. He'd just use the obvious ones like drugs, sex,  and other temptations.

9) Depression

  As I mentioned previously, my depression has been really bad the last several months. I am on two medications: one for depression, and one for anxiety....so I don't get it. Think I am stupid if you want, but turning 50 was really rough on me. Still is. I think that is a big contributing factor. I just feel I haven't accomplished anything in life, and here I am most of my life over. The reality of never having a family has hit hard, and it just seems I should be more than I am for being this age.

 And one perk of dealing with same-sex attraction is depression. A lot, if not most, gay people/same-sex attracted people deal with depression, often severe.

 Thankfully, when I am at work I can function fine and people have no idea how depressed I am. At home is a different matter, and that is one reason I bury myself in reading so often.

  Having to move, not knowing where, being overwhelmed with packing everything,  and wondering how on earth I will fit everything into an apartment  has added to the stress and depression. Thankfully, that stress has ended,

 People who don't deal with depression have no idea what it is like. Someone shared a post on Facebook that claimed it is a demon. It isn't spiritual. It is emotional and mental, and difficult.

 I give myself the sermon very often that there are people worse off than me, and I could be dealing with cancer or worse....but sometimes I wonder why I have so much to deal with. Same sex attractions and the loneliness and other "perks" that come with it, diabetes, depression, weight struggles, high blood pressure, anxiety, poor self esteem, insecurity. But yeah, it could be worse.

10)  Community and fellowship

Why do you go to church?

To worship God? You can do that anywhere

To hear a sermon? You can do that anywhere

To sing? You can do that anywhere

To gossip? You can do that anywhere

   I have heard a lot of preaching and heard others say we need to go to church for fellowship with other believers. There is even an illustration I have heard several times:

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going.

After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.

After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.

As the one lone ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and "dead as a doornail."

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday."

You get the point.

  But what is fellowship and community? Does your church have it? Does mine? What if it doesn't?

  Here is my church life: I go to church Sunday morning. I shake hands at the door with a few people, speak to a few people, occasionally have a brief conversation. I go in the bathroom and wash my hands, then head for my classroom hoping no one shakes my hand. If I see my 3 nieces, I give them a hug. (Since working at the hospital, I have become a germaphobic). After Sunday school is over, I again head into the bathroom if anyone shakes my hand. I go to my seat. We open with prayer, sing two songs, take an offering, sing another song, pray, have a special song, have a sermon, then dismissal prayer. I head out, speaking to people, shaking a few hands, and shake hands at the door with my pastor and his wife. Then I head for my parents' for Sunday dinner.

 Wanna guess the first thing I do when I get there? If you guessed wash my hands, you are a winner, my friend.

 Sunday night: I go to church, sometimes shaking hands and speaking to people. I wash my hands, and wait in the lobby for the prayer service to start...then head for my seat, hoping no one shakes my hand. (Usually hugging my nieces) Sunday night is pretty much a repeat of Sunday morning. After church is over, I go home....and of course wash my hands. I won't see anyone from church until the next Sunday, unless it is at Walmart. Is that how it should be?

 We have no programs, no Bible studies, nada. There is a Wednesday night prayer service that has a short message, testimonies, and prayer. I don't go, as I am usually working too late to go, or work the next day, and I don't go out when I work the next day.

  I like my church, love my pastor, and like my Sunday School teacher a lot. I only said that because he reads my blog. Just kidding. He does read it, but  he is the best SS teacher I have had. There are things I disagree with my church on, but I agree with enough that I don't see me ever leaving.

 But where is the fellowship?Where is the community? Maybe I am wrong, but I see neither. I don't know why, but my church won't do potlucks or anything like that. The church my parents attended as kids, and the same one I grew up in had what they called a Sunday School picnic. Every summer, the church would rent a pavilion at a park. Everyone took food. We'd eat, play softball, horseshoes, and other games. That was before cornhole. It was fun. And get this.... it was the very same denomination that my current church is. But my current church won't do anything like that. I don't get it. If the family of God is so great, then shouldn't we see each other more than just at church and Walmart? (I did see several people from my church there yesterday!)

  There are churches who do great at fellowship and community, but they also may not do well in other areas.

  In the book of Acts, it talks about the Christians in the early church having all things in common. I am not sure what all that entailed, but I get this idea that there was a lot of community. I think they hung out a lot with other Christians. They had dinner parties. They didn't just worship together, they played together. They ate together.

   I could be wrong...but I think most of us are so far from what God intended for us to be as a church, as the family of God.

  I'll be honest: I find church to be a lonely place. I find the Christian walk to be lonely. I could get at home what I get at church....with the exception of hugs from my nieces. I can't count the times God has spoken to me through a Christian novel, to encourage and convict. Just last night, I read a novel where main male character was struggling a lot to understand God's will - how to find it, how to know you are in it, etc. The author brought out some great insights through a fictional novel. A few weeks ago, I read and reviewed the newest book by one of my favorite authors and a great lady I had the privilege to meet, Kimberly Woodhouse. In her book, her characters were studying the book of Daniel. She brought out some new thoughts I had never considered. She often does that in her books, and said a while back that whatever she is studying in her Bible studies usually works its way into her novels.

 I have been helped through music. One does not have to go to church to worship God and receive help and encouragement.

 And no, I am not advocating staying home from church. Though a side effect of this severe depression makes me want to avoid crowds, and often people in general. I am just saying if we are using fellowship with believers as a reason or main reason to attend church, then we should actually have it.

11) Beards

 I'll end on a less serious note, and a bit of a rant:

There is something that irritates me, and led to a rant on Facebook a while back. I see a lot of posts and ads that claim men with beards are more masculine than men who do not have a beard.

 I don't like beards. In fact, if all men had the Duck Dynasty kind of beards, my attractions to other guys might cease. Ugh.

 Most of my life, I have struggled to feel masculine and like a man. I am not attracted to women. I loathe sports and am terrible at them. Except soccer. Kids in high school actually wanted me on their team instead of leaving me til last like in other sports. I am not good at stuff guys are good at, nor am I interested in things they are. I love to read. I like to shop. I like clothes. I like to play the piano.

 But having no beard doesn't make me less masculine than those who do. I'd have to have a really bad blemish or scar on my face, or be unable to shave, to have a beard.

 My favorite superhero is Captain America. In Avengers Infinity War, he appeared with a beard. I kept wondering who he was. It didn't help that he didn't have his shield. Someone finally called him "Cap", and I realized who he was. He definitely looks better beardless.

 And one last thing....beards tend to make guys look older. And I definitely don't want that.