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

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Truly He taught us........

One of my all time favorite traditional Christmas songs is O Holy Night. A piece of useless trivia: I have around 70 different recordings of that song on my iPod/iTunes. There are some I like a lot, and some that are just OK. If I had to pick my all time favorite recording of the song, it would be the 1983 recording by Sandi Patty on the first of her 500 Christmas CDs she recorded. OK, 500 is a big exaggeration, but she has recorded several Christmas CDs over the years. The Gift Goes On was her first, and is the CD that has my favorite recording of O Holy Night. The only thing I don't like about it: it is in a Medley with Jesu Bambino. They go well together, but she only sings one verse of O Holy Night. Check it out some time. I'll put the video below to make it easier. :) And yikes....that recording is 36 years old.

  Do you pay attention to lyrics when you listen to or sing a song? I do, and I love good lyrics. That is another reason I could never listen to the kinds of music that you can't hear or understand the words. O Holy Night doesn't just have a great tune. It has some great lyrics also. I am one of those people who listen to Christmas music early, so I have heard the song several times already, especially my favorite. (By the way, country singer Colin Raye's is most likely my second favorite. The music they put with it does a lot for his version).

 Anyway, the words of the third verse have been really sticking out to me lately:

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim
His power and glory evermore proclaim

  And especially the first part of that verse: Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace. "Truly He taught us to love one another......" He may have taught us that, but have we learned it and do we practice it?

 I was already thinking a lot along these lines, and then my best friend did a post on Facebook that caught my attention. Well, anything he posts catches my attention. He posts once to my 1000 posts. That may not be an exaggeration.... He posted this:

"Referring to 1 Cor. 13, Charles Spurgeon says: "This love both covers and bears all things. It never proclaims the errors of others. It refuses to see faults unless it may kindly help in their removal. It stands in the presence of a fault with a finger on its lips." I sarcastically commented: "That's in the Bible?!"

  Myself included, Christians as a whole need to do better with loving everyone, and especially each other. If we truly learned what Jesus taught - to love one another - we would do a better job of it. And I am sure there are those who do it better than others.

  If we truly loved each other, we wouldn't be so quick to argue with each other and put each other and our views and opinions down. If we truly loved each other, we wouldn't make accusations that aren't true. If we truly loved each other, we wouldn't let politics get in the way of doing that. If we truly loved each other, we would always think the best of each other and never the worst.

 His law is love....

  When asked by the religious hypocrites of His day what the greatest commandment is, He gave this reply:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)

 There are a lot of modern day Christians who claim you don't have to keep the 10 commandments. I even had a Baptist barber tell me once you cannot even keep them all. I watched my wallet around him just in case the one about stealing was the one he couldn't keep......

 But here Jesus is commanding us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That covers about half of the commandments, plus a whole lot more.

 In 1 John chapter 4, it says if we don't love, we don't know God, because God is love.

" 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (ESV)

  It would seem that it is pretty important to God that we love each other. It isn't just a line in a well-loved Christmas song that has been around since 1847. (That is even older than my friend Shirley Dye at my church....) It should be something we daily practice, work at, pray for help to love people....praying harder regarding some people.....

  Christmas is about love. God loved us measly humans so much, that He sent His only son in the form of a helpless baby that would live in a human body for 33 years, and then be cruelly put to death so that we could have eternal life and be saved from our sins. We need to love others and show that love 365 days a year, but Christmas is a great time to work at it if we are slacking in that department.....and I am sure I am not the only one who needs help and work in that area. I have social media. I know I am not the only one.....

 Make sure you spend time being thankful for what you have, because this is the season to be thankful....but work on loving people as you practice being thankful. Don't wait til Christmas, the season of love. Love now.

Outside on a cold and lonely street
A homeless woman sleeps this Christmas
Tonight, there's a child that dreams of home
In an orphanage alone
For all they really need is a helping hand from
You and me

The season of love
I really believe that this would be much better
And people would come together
If we share the reason for the season of love
The spirit of Christmas will change
This world forever
If we all play our part
Just by giving from the heart I know
Christmas will really become
The season of love

Somewhere, underneath a Christmas tree
Is a simple manger scene this Christmas
And there lying on a bed of straw
Is the greatest gift of all
This Christmas let's let the world know
For all they really need is the love of God
To set them free


Though the holiday passes away
And the lights begin to fade
The spirit of Christmas will remain


Mark Harris & Don Koch

Monday, November 4, 2019

October-November stuff

I can't believe it is November already, and that we are already four days into it. I actually started this blog post on October 2, and have been adding to it since then, never actually posting it. I thought about just deleting the post and starting all over, but decided to finish it and post it. Most of this is from October, and is definitely old stuff.

 This is a long post. I have, as usual, said some things people won't like and will disagree with, and other things people won't be interested in nor care about.......but anyone can blog. And those who blog, write about what they care about and what interests them. So just look at this like a bag of trail mix where you only pick out what you like. Skip the ones you aren't interested in. Or skip the whole post. You might be better off doing that.  :)

1) Day of prayer for Trump

   My Facebook feed has been flooded the last couple of days with the announcement that Franklin Graham was calling for a day of prayer for Trump, today October 2. Graham is someone I haven't been impressed with for reasons I won't go into at this moment, so his name being attached didn't help my disgust with the request.

  My points may echo or be similar to points I have made on other related subjects, but I have some  questions to ask...and I'll leave it at that:

a) Should a person like Graham only call for a day of prayer for president he likes and who is claiming to be part of the same political party he is a member of?

b) If a conservative is going to post Bible verses that they feel command us to pray for the president, is it really Christian and right to just do that when they agree with the president and like him......and when he has an "R" by his name?

c) Should your prayers be any different or more fervent depending on the party of or your feelings toward that president?

d) Is it really what a Christian should do to push a day of prayer for Trump, but not Obama or some other Democrat with a "D" by their name?

e) Should you only pray and be vocal about praying for presidents you voted for?

f) If you didn't pray for and/or urge people to pray for Obama, then should you urge me to pray for Trump?

g) If you do not and cannot support a president, and wish he was out of office...what exactly does one pray for exactly in regards to him anyway?

2) The weather

  Don't get me wrong: I still loathe winter, and have feelings beyond loathing for snow...but I am enjoying the cooler weather. I'll take summer over winter, but I am not a huge fan of extreme heat and humidity.

 I have yet to turn my furnace on. Maybe my place is well insulated, but it hasn't gotten very cold inside. I'm still running around the house in shorts and a t-shirt, and have a fan running on me at the moment.

 I do think I would handle winter better if it wasn't for snow. I hate driving in it, hate shoveling it, hate cleaning it off my car....and anything else about it. I guess another advantage of living where I am now is if I want to walk in the cold, I can avoid cleaning my car off just to go to the store. And I can have pizza delivered here. :)

 To those who say I need to move if I hate winter that much - and people have - why would I move away from the only people who want to hang out with me - my family?

 I have had to wear a jacket to work the last few days, but not home. It is that time of year when you use your heater going to work, forget it is on when you go home and wonder why the car is so hot inside.

**update, October 13: my car had frost on it this morning, and the temps were in the 30's. I still haven't run my furnace, though I did dig out my sweat pants instead of shorts to wear around the house as I have been doing.

 I am still sock-less though. When I am home, I like to go barefoot.....but that changes in the winter. I also prefer sandals to other footwear and miss sandals when it is too cold to wear them.

**update October 29: I still haven't had to run my furnace, and am still running around the house without socks.

**update November 4: I actually kicked the furnace on two nights ago. It is set at around 67-68, and hasn't run a lot that I have noticed. I have upgraded on some days to socks and occasionally a sweat shirt instead of a t-shirt.

3) Keep your word

  Do we truly keep our word? Are we careful that when we say we will do something, to actually do it? How many times have I promised to do something, and either put it off too long or forgot all about it. And do we truly intend to do what we promise?

 I'll give a few examples:

 Over the years, I have had people say "we need to have you over some time!"...and they never did.

 About a year ago, a guy I was friends with on Facebook, who has his account deactivated currently, had made the statement that if anyone needed to talk, he was available. He had lived quite the wild gay life before getting back to God. I messaged him, and he said to call him. He was traveling and talked to me on the phone for over 3 hours, and had a lot of helpful things to say. He quoted so much Scripture, I was amazed by how much he knew.

 Towards the end of his call, he told me to message my address, and he was going to mail me two books a friend of his wrote that would be helpful. I argued that he didn't need to, but he insisted...so I did. He never sent them.

   And I am honestly not holding against him. That came to my mind when I was considering this topic. People forget. I do, you do. And I doubt God is going to hold it against us when we do honestly forget. I am sure I promised to lend a book or books to people and forgot to do so.

   But should we be more careful about that? If we promise something, we should first of all mean it, and maybe we should make a note of it where we will see it and be reminded. Christians should be known for keeping our word.

 One thing that made me write on this, was talking about praying for people. Do we really pray for people when we promise to do so?

   I had a cool thing happen at work recently. I was pretty upset about something and not having a good day. I talked to my bosses, and they were somewhat helpful about the issue, but I was still worrying and upset about it. A pastor and his wife came in who I chat with a lot, and I mentioned my problem in a generic way, and asked if they'd pray about it. She said "well, let's do it right now!" They both laid a hand on me, and she prayed about my issue. And knowing them, I would imagine they will do at home also. But do we? Would we have the courage to pray for someone in a hospital lobby, a restaurant, or wherever someone may ask us to pray? And will we do it when we part ways?

 Do we keep our word? Is it important to us to do so?

 And again, we do forget. But maybe we need to work harder on not doing that.

4) The reading goal

  An update on my reading for the year. Yesterday, I hit 400 books, which is double my goal of 200 for the year. It does help to not have a life. :)

 **Since I gave that update, I read more books. Now I am at 442. Yeah, no life. :)

5) The forgotten med

  I am on 5 medications: depression, anxiety, diabetes, triglycerides, and blood pressure. I had tennis elbow for a few months, and my doc put me on an anti-inflammatory med for that, which didn't help, so he had me get a shot...which did help. I had been used to taking 5 pills, and ran out of one and didn't realize it til recently......because I was still taking 5 pills with the one for my arm. By process of elimination, I realized it was the one for anxiety. That would explain a few things. Fortunately, my pharmacy is a stone's throw from my place. Well, if I threw well. I don't throw like a girl, but I don't aim well. :) I weary of taking pills, but I guess they are a necessary evil.

6) Disappointing breakfast

 There is a restaurant in my new town I have been wanting to try, but they have weird hours: 6 am-2 pm, and possibly later Fridays. I heard their food was good, and one person was raving about their sausage gravy and biscuits....my favorite breakfast. I rarely get it, at least where it is really good, except on family vacations when one of my brothers-in-law makes it.

 The first time I went for breakfast on my day off, they were closed for 2 weeks for vacation. So I finally ate there a week or so ago. The prices were decent: 2 biscuits and gravy, add home fries and it totaled $5.95. The waitress put it in front of me, and I took a bite, then another......and realized something was missing: sausage. It tasted OK, but it definitely was not what I expected. Had the lady at the register asked me how it was, I'd have politely mentioned that, but she didn't ask, so I didn't say. I doubt I'll go back. I'd rather hit the very good Chinese restaurant in town.

 And maybe I'll make my own. Though the only time I did that, I made twice the amount my sister and her husband make for their family of 5. It is hard to cook for one........

  I have known people who say they cannot cook, and I don't get that. My mom never really taught me to cook, but I saw enough of what she did that I got a good idea. I can remember the night after church when I was around 13 or so, my dad decided it was time I learned to fry my own egg.

 Cooking is easy. I doubt I'll ever be able to cook as good as my mom, but I think I am a pretty decent cook, and not afraid to try anything. I make gravy... and it is good gravy. I make chili, soups, roast chickens, and more.

 I eat a lot of chicken, and need to find some easy and low carb chicken recipes.

 **update: I made my own sausage and gravy yesterday (October 10), and it was awesome. And it had a key ingredient that the restaurant's did not: sausage.

7) Lumping people together

  This is something a lot of us, maybe most of us, are guilty of: lumping people of certain groups together and making blanket statements about them. It happens in all sorts of situations and for all kinds of groups of people, but politics is where I have noticed it a lot lately.

 There are many Trump supporters who just paint anyone not supporting him as liberals, anti-this, anti-that, etc. I even got accused of being for killing babies if I wasn't for Trump. Yet, there are a lot of conservatives like me who are against him.

 Then on the other hand, there are a lot of anti-Trump people who make blanket statements about Trump supporters. Yes, there are a lot who are way over the top and say things like the Bible foretold Trump's presidency, etc...yet there are a lot of Trump supporters who aren't vocal about it and voted for him because they felt he was the lesser of 2 evils.

 A great example of an over the top Trump post: A guy I am friends with from El Salador is really over the top pro-Trump - odd since he doesn't live in the US - but anyway, he posted an article where a Rabbi claimed to have found a link between Trump and King David that shows Trump is paving the way for the Messiah. No joke. Sadly, there are a lot of over the top Trump fans out there, but I know they all aren't like that.

 This isn't the first time this happened to me, but some man I never interacted with nor do I know, sent me a private message on Facebook full of the f-word and calling me a liberal because I made a comment against Trump on a political page. Yeah, I have had some ignorant things said to me by people in my own church, but it would be wrong of me to say all Trump supporters are like this man.

 There are bad cops. There are racist whites and racist blacks. And so on. But we cannot take the actions, attitudes, words, etc of some and try to say that all in that group are like that.

8) Compassion

  Are we compassionate enough? It is a trait Jesus often showed, but do modern day American Christians show it and have it?

 Is it compassion to say "Oh who cares if those druggies die." "Those kind of people deserve to get AIDS."

 It is too easy to be disgusted by behaviors and sins, and not feel any compassion for those caught up in it. I admit it is an area I need to do a lot better in. Christians should be the most compassionate people on the earth, but too many are not.

9) The great commission

  Jehovah Witnesses are wrong about a lot, and have a lot of false teaching. You have to give them kudos though for working so hard to get people to attend their church. I wouldn't want to go door to door like that.

 Though I did once. Several years back, my pastor asked me if I'd do him a favor. Since then, I have learned to ask what it is before I commit. But that day, I made a mistake and said "sure." The favor? The church had gone calling for Vacation Bible school the day before, and there were a couple of streets that still needed covered. I was going to help him. You have got to be kidding.

 It started out OK. We went to the first few houses together and he did all the talking. Those houses were across from some kind of business. Then we got to where there were houses on each side of the street, and I could not believe the words that came out of his mouth: "I'll take this side of the street, and you take the other side." I prayed for the rapture to happen. It didn't. I prayed for God to take me right there, right then. He didn't. With great trepidation, I crossed the street and knocked at the first house. No answer. Nor at the next. The third house worried me. There were two guys sitting outside watching me as I knocked on their neighbors' doors. If I remember correctly, they were drinking beer. This is how the conversation went:

Me: "Hello"
One of the guys, rather annoyed: "Are you selling something?"
Me: "no"
Guy, more annoyed: "Are you one of those Jehovah Witnesses?"
Me (praying again for the rapture or death): "uh, no....My church, the Salem Wesleyan Methodist Church on Newgarden, is having Vacation Bible School this week, and I was wondering if your kids would like to go."
Guy, in nicer mood: "Oh, sure. They went there last year."

Never again. Ugh. And that really did happen. I am not making it up or exaggerating.

 But how serious are we about spreading the Gospel? How far out of our way will we go to reach someone for Christ? What are we willing to do to to fulfill the Great Commission?

 I have read of people who regularly go into restaurants with their Bibles, willing to talk to people who approach them. One man I read of puts a sign on his table that says "How can I pray for you?"

 I have said it before, and it bears repeating: I fear too many American Christians are more concerned with wining people to their politician or political views than they are with wining souls to Jesus Christ.

 The famous quote goes "Only one life, will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last." Are we concerned enough about people's souls? Are we too busy with other things to be of any use for God?

 Are we working on making disciples of Jesus, or of our favorite politician?

 By the way, since I have a young Jehovah Witness couple living in the other side of the duplex, I am hoping that gives me some kind of exemption from being called on by any. I can hope. "That guy in 120? Oh, I am sure Will and Paige got to him already since they live by him." I can hope......

10) Halloween

   My sisters and I went trick or treating when we were kids. They took us to relatives and other people we knew, and didn't turn us loose in neighborhoods where we didn't know people. We went a year or two after they became Christians, but were getting too old for it, so we stopped.

 I have gotten to be very anti-Halloween. I don't make a big deal about it. If someone wishes me a Happy Halloween, I just smile. I am not wishing it back, but neither am I going to be rude and make a scene.

 There is so much evil around it, I don't want anything to do with it. Witches, goblins, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc. These aren't things Christians should have anything to do with. If I had kids, I wouldn't let them trick or treat, but I would do something special for them some time in the Fall.

 And there is no way I am giving candy out. This may sound rude, but why would I want to spend money on candy to give out to greedy little kids I don't know? If there is candy in my house, my diabetic self is going to eat it. And I am kind of joking....but seriously, I am not going to hand out candy to kids I don't know on a holiday I don't like.

 The kids in this neighborhood are really getting stiffed at my duplex. I don't like or celebrate Halloween, and my neighbors don't believe in celebrating any holiday. :)

 And look at it this way: I am doing my part to prevent tooth decay..........

  By the way, I have the book I pictured. The guy did a great job on it, and it is very thoughtfully written. He doesn't use the term "greedy little kids." :)

 I do, however, decorate for Fall. My two favorite decorations for Fall are below: My scarecrows with a wheelbarrow I bought on clearance when I worked at Hobby Lobby. They started out at $99.99. I got them for around or slightly under $20. The truck I bought last year, since I am into the old truck decor.

 I also have a few fake pumpkins in the house, and a few real ones out front of my place with a scarecrow.

 And a friend from church bought me the cool place-mat below, which I really like.

11) Coming out day

 Today - I am on October 11 now - is National Coming Out Day. One of my Facebook friends was taking issue on Twitter with the site Desiring God condemning it as a celebration of sin. His point was pretty much that it is a day when people are more comfortable in coming out as gay and not being afraid. He is a celibate gay.

 Personally, I don't believe Christians should celebrate/observe it. Too many people who come out are going to live a more dangerous lifestyle. Young guys are going to be targets of others who want to use them for sex. Many will get STDs and/or AIDS, and many will end up in hell for eternity. Should we celebrate that?

  But I get his point. I hid my struggles in fear for years, then just didn't care anymore. I "outted" myself  on this blog, but not on this day. It is a good and bad thing that people feel safer coming out. It is really tough living with that secret and fearing people finding out. It is freeing to admit it....so I get the day, I'm just not sure Christians should have anything to do with it.

12) Blogging ideas

   Just throwing this out there. I don't consider myself  great writer, but if you do read my blog and have any ideas for me to blog about, hit me up. At times I feel the urge to write, but can't think of anything.

13) Faith in.........

  I did a post on Facebook the other day that didn't get a lot of reaction. A few people liked it and commented positively. One person commented and it seemed he deliberately misconstrued part of it, but I could be wrong on that.

  The gist of what I said was that I fear too many American Christians put too much faith and trust in politicians. This is not another Trump post, but Ann Coulter did what is an extreme example of this. She wrote a book, I think in 2016, titled "In Trump We Trust." (She has since did a complete 180 on him.)

 I don't care who the politician is: Trump, Rubio, Cruz, or Mickey Mouse. If American Christians are truly trusting God, then why do they act the way they do at election times?

 If Christians are truly putting their faith and trust in God:

Would we make dire predictions, such as "if X wins, we will lose our guns!"

Will we badger people to vote the way we are voting?

Will our social media be a constant flood of why the other candidate is bad and ours is the one who must win?

   I am not at all saying not to vote, though my voting days may be over. I am also not saying it is wrong to let your preferences made. It just seems to me that we are not trusting God enough when it comes to elections, and give the idea that if our guy wins, everything will be perfect and they will rescue us from the evil of the other party.

  I personally believe there isn't much difference in the two main parties anymore. To me, the Democrats are more honest than Republicans. The Dems are open about what they stand for and fight for it. The Republicans say what they are for and against, but rarely do much, if anything, to fight for it or against it. Abortion is a great example. At the beginning of 2016, we had a Republican majority in the House and Senate, and a guy in the White House claiming to be Republican. I am not saying abortion could have been wiped out completely, but they could have done a lot more than what was done. They just don't want to.

  Politicians are pretty much all corrupt to some point. They don't get in there without showing partiality, pandering to special groups, lying, character assassination, etc. So to put much faith or trust in any politician is naive at best. But to seemingly forget God is in control no matter who wins an election, seems to be par for the course these days.

 And it applies to other area of life, not just politics. Do we truly trust God, or do we trust in other things instead?

14) Sports

  One constant thing in life that wearies me, is being asked about sports. Almost everywhere I go:

"So did you watch the game last night?"

"Man, the Steelers bombed last night."

  And so on. My response is always the same: "I'm not into sports." The response is usually one of surprise. After all, I am a guy, so of course I should be interested in overpaid immature guys playing with a ball.

 Here is a thought that recently came to my mind: Why is a surprise when a guy isn't interested in sports, but not a surprise when women are?

 Why is it an oddity when a guy doesn't like sports?

15) The Beth Moore and Jon McArthur controversy 

   This is one thing my Twitter feed and Facebook feed have been flooded with. Jon McArthur hit at Beth Moore pretty hard in a public setting, getting some laughs and cheering in reply. He is against female ministers, and decided to let her know it in a rather rude way.

 To my knowledge, she is not a pastor. I thought she was more a teacher than anything, but what do I know.

  The church I grew up in - which is the same denomination as the one I currently attend - had female evangelists several times for revival. I never had a problem with them. The church I now attend had a woman for its first pastor more years ago than I am alive, and was named for her for several years. That did change.

 I personally am against women pastors. I think it is a bad idea for a woman to be the pastor, but I don't make a big deal about it. There are women pastors who come in the hospital often who I chat with and even tell jokes...but I am not sure the Bible lends to the idea of women pastors. But I admit I could be wrong.

 There are cases where God did use women to minister: Phillip had evangelist daughters, there was a woman judge, and there were prophetesses. I do think we should be careful to condemn those God is using in ministry if they are not teaching false things....male or female.

16) I am human scum

  In a Tweet on Twitter last week, Donald Trump said we conservatives who do not support him are human scum. I am pretty sure this is unprecedented for a president claiming to be a Republican to call those in the party he claims to be in "human scum."

 What bothers me the most is the silence from his supporters. I remember the outrage when Obama called conservatives things. Maybe Trump supporters agree with him. After all, how dare we oppose him?

 I can understand people voting for him because they feared Hillary. I cannot understand the constant defense and praise of him, and the ignoring of so much that would be condemned if he still had a "D" by his name. I am truly disappointed in so many people. Why are they not calling him out for his human scum comment? Did they take a solemn vow to never question or criticize him? I swear even some people in my own church would question God before they questioned Donald Trump, and would react less to criticisms of  God than of Donald Trump. Why can this man get away with so much? Why does his past not matter, yet other politicians' do? Why do they question the Christianity of Hillary and Obama, yet insist Trump is one no matter how badly he acts? Why can't they see what I and so many other "human scum" see?

 I have come to the realization that I dislike Trump more intensely than I did Obama. Obama was a horrible president, and he seemed to hate white people and Christians. Yet, conservatives fought his bad policies and called him out for his bad actions and words. Trump? They never, ever criticize him, and are more bothered by we who point out hid bad actions and polices than by his doing them. I honestly wonder if there is anything the man can do that his supporters would criticize. He said he could shoot people on 5th ave in Manhatten and not lose any voters, and I do believe he is correct.

 There are people who call it a cult. I am not going to lump all Trump supporters together, but some do act like they are in a cult. Now by sharing this below, I am not saying Trump supporters are a cult. All I am saying is some of them exhibit the same behaviors.

 One last thing. Consider this: the man praises and gushes about his Korean leader buddy and how wonderful the dictator is who has killed many of his own people. Yet Trump calls us human scum. So I guess we are worse than an evil dictator/killer. What a sad, petty little man my party voted in.

 Before this insane comment, I doubted I would ever vote for him. Now I know I never will. There is no way. Besides, does human scum even vote?  :)

 And I am more amused by his comment than irritated. I think it shows he is worried about his reelection chances. What bothers me most is that I have yet to see any Trump supporter call him out for this idiotic comment. But then they never do criticize the man for anything. That is kind of scary.

 I wish my friends were as loyal to me as they are to the corrupt liberal in the White House.

 And can you imagine Regan or George W calling people in their own party human scum? I can't. I can't even imagine them calling Democrats human scum. The bar has been set really low with these last two presidents.

 I can remember when we conservatives and Christians were criticized by and had some not so nice things said about us by Obama. And it mattered. Trump calling Republicans who dare oppose him human scum? It doesn't seem to matter. Maybe the average Trump supporter agrees.

17) Kayne West

  The internet is all a buzz about the conversion of Kayne West. Is it genuine? Will it last? People are debating and arguing.

 I am not saying it isn't genuine. It isn't like he needs a last minute conversion to get Christians to vote for him......

 But here is the truth of the matter: true Christianity costs. It requires complete surrender. It requires change. I am a bit cynical of celebrities and politicians having the true relationship with God that being a Christian is all about. Jesus said the way is narrow. And contrary to what some seem to believe, there is not a separate set of rules and requirements for celebrities or the president of the United States. God expects the same things from all of us.

 So is his conversion genuine? Only he and God knows. And only he and God knows if he has what it takes to be a true Christian, and not a celebrity Christian.

19) The party

  My whole family got together last Thursday evening (Oct 24) to celebrate my oldest niece's birthday. Her boyfriend and my youngest niece's boyfriend was also there, making a total of 15, though my oldest nephew left early to meet friends.

 The menu was home made pizza, chicken pizza (salsa, cooked chicken, and cheddar cheese), taco salad, DQ ice cream cake, and German chocolate cake. Later, we carved pumpkins: Me, both brothers-in-law, my two youngest nephews, all 3 nieces, and the boyfriend of my oldest niece. My youngest niece made her boyfriend get a pumpkin, and he did clean it out (kind of gross), but never carved it, so her dad did.

 The designs were varied. We had 4 traditional jack o' lanterns...mine being one. It is on my porch with a tea light in. One niece and nephew each carved a bat, one upside down. They didn't plan that.  My nauseatingly talented brother-in-law Paul carved a house and tree freehand. We had a beach scene and turtle. It was a lot of fun. I had never carved my own. We did them when I was a kid, but my parents always helped. It may become a yearly tradition.

**November 4
 And by the way, I bought the DQ cake and had it in my freezer for over a week, and did not touch it. Miracles do happen. The DQ in my town sells their cakes half off every Tuesday. I did buy my own last week, the log kind, and made it last a few days. Awesome stuff. And I didn't have to share with anyone.

20) Social media fast

  Today is November 4, the first November addition I made to this post. I went on a social media fast Thursday evening that I will most likely end today or tomorrow. I de-activated my Facebook account, and have stayed off other social media sites for the most part. I did go on Twitter a couple of times. The fast was partially to do with politics. I am really weary of Christians saying I am for the other side if I am not for Trump. I am weary of having my Christianity questioned because I don't support him.

 Here's the thing. This may be a bit blunt, and I have tried to be careful about what I say about Christians who support Trump, but here goes: I didn't change anything. I still have the same requirements for the kind of politician I support and vote for. If the Republican Party puts up that kind of candidate again, I will vote for him. But it doesn't appear my party wants a conservative and Christian candidate any more than the Democrats do. I shudder to think who they will nominate next. McCain, Romney, Trump... they keep getting worse and more liberal. Give my party time, and they will be nominating candidates like Hillary and Obama.

  If being a conservative and Christian mean having to support and vote for Donald Trump, then I don't want to be either.

 But here is the truth of the matter: even thought too many people seem to equate Christianity and conservatism with being a Trump supporter, that is not the case. You do not have to support and vote for any candidate to be a Christian. Newsflash: you don't even have to vote or support ANY politician to be a Christian. Imagine that!

 Back to the fast: though I did go off social media for a few days because of politics, there was more to it than that. For one:  I think we can spend too much time on social media, and that largely played into my fast also.

21) Day off, romance books....and my weird habit

  Today (Nov 4) is the first of two days off in a row for me. I love days off. OK, who doesn't?! I am a night owl, and I usually stay up til 1 or 2 am if I am not working the next day, and sleep in til between 8 and 9.

  Today, I woke up around 7:30 and just enjoyed lying in bed, not having to get up. I read a while, then got up a little after 9. One thing I will miss when it gets really cold, is walking around town. Today is a decent day, so I walked. I picked up a prescription at my pharmacy and dropped another off, walked to the new restaurant in town for breakfast, then to the Dollar General for Shout. I came home and vacuumed the whole house, and then did laundry. While my clothes were washing, I did something that may sound weird.

 I don't know if other book lovers do this, but I like to take books I have previously read and liked, and re-read the endings and other parts I liked in the book. I have some totes of mass market books in the basement, and I stood some, sat on the steps, and sometimes on the rug on the floor doing just that. As my clothes washed in the next room (yeah, my basement has rooms), I smiled, laughed, and cried as I read parts in books I have previously read. And a lot of them romance.

 It may seem weird for a guy to read romance books. I did for years, then quit except for romantic suspense. I used to joke that I could handle some romance in a book as long as someone was trying to kill someone. That was kind of true.

 But then I started getting back into it. I think part of it was approaching 50 and being so depressed that I was still alone and always would be.......no wife, no kids. Just me. I started reading a certain kind of book, and still lean towards that kind: ones that involve kids and families.

 I'll give an example. It is also an example of re-reading parts of a book. I read the book yesterday, but it was so good that I was lying in bed this morning re-reading a good portion of it. The book is titled "The Prodigal's Christmas Reunion." It is the 6th and last book in a series about cousins. Their grandfather died, and as part of his will, all of the cousins have to come back to their home town and live for a year...or none of them get a penny.

 The last to show is 25 year old Lucas, who walked out on the town, his family, his girlfriend, and his faith 7 years before. He shows up with a traumatized four year old little boy. The kid's mother died of a drug overdose, and the father - Lucas' college room mate - was shot in a drug deal gone bad. The shooters grabbed the boy. The father hung on long enough to ask Lucas to find the boy, rescue him, and adopt him. The book IS a romance, so that plays a lot into the story, but it also focuses just as much on this young guy trying to be a father to a 4 year old boy who he feels ill equipped to father.

 One of my favorite scenes in the book: Lucas' ex-girlfriend was babysitting Max, the little boy. As she and Lucas are in the kitchen drinking coffee, a shrill scream pierces the air. They rush into the living room to find Max in the throes of a nightmare......something that happens occasionally.  The kid is upright on the couch, rigid with terror and crying, his eyes focused on some unseen threat.  Lucas sits on the couch, quietly talking to the boy, and wraps him in his arms, just holding him until the boy quiets and comes out of the nightmare. After it is over, Lucas is bemoaning the fact that he has no clue what to do when Max has one of those episodes. "He doesn't respond to me when I talk to him. I can't distract him." he sighs "It's like there's a wall between us. He can't see me. Or hear me. The only thing I can do is set him on my lap and hold him until he comes out of it." His ex replies "it sounds to me like you know exactly what to do."

 It really is a cool story. As the title suggests, Lucas is a prodigal. These kind of books can get a bad wrap from some Christians. I have heard "Christian novel" said in the same tone one might use for pornography....yet many books like these carry a great message. In this book, the pressures of fatherhood and dangers to his little boy and other family members drive him back to God and prayer.

 I was actually encouraged a lot by this very cool story. Yes, it is fictional, but the realities of how God works in the lives of His children - even His prodigals - is a reality and not at all fictional.

 The bad thing about this book? It is #6. I didn't read the other 5, and now I want to. But I can't buy every book I want....can I? :)

22) Gay and politics 

   There is something a lot of gay people do: their lives revolve around their sexuality. They hang out with other gay people, go to gay bars, boycott Chik fil a, constantly post on social media all things gay.

 And some Christians who are gay and use the label, but live celibate, are like that also. They may not go to gay bars, but some watch gay TV shows and constantly post about gay stuff, and making everything revolve around their sexuality.

  But we are so much more than our sexuality, whether gay, SSA, or heterosexual. Sexuality is just one part of us, and it is sad when people make their lives revolve around that.

  It hit me that Christians are the same with politics. There is no Bible verse that says how much Christians should talk about politics, or how many social media posts we should have about politics. It just isn't there. Jesus stayed away from politics. He didn't even criticize the rulers of the day. John the Baptist did. He called out the king for his adultery. (Bet he wouldn't be popular with Republicans if he was alive now....) Our lives and social media revolve way too much around one part of our lives: politics.

  But Jesus wasn't political. When the religious leaders tried to trick him about taxes, He simply said to give to God what belongs to God, and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Could that apply to more than taxes? Do we give too much to politics? Do we give too much time and energy? Do we waste too much time on politics on social media instead of doing something better with it?

 If Jesus had a Facebook account and actually used it, how many political posts would He do? How many posts would He do putting down people who didn't support his favorite politicians? How much time do you think He would spend arguing politics? How much time do you think He would spend trying to win people to His political views? How often would He post things like "if X wins, we will lose our guns and the Supreme Court will be filled with liberals"?

  You know the answer. He wouldn't. Yet we who claim to serve Him and are supposedly striving to be like Him do all that. Why? What good does it do the Kingdom of God? What good does it do for God? Does it win anyone to God? And do we act any different from non-Christians when it comes to politics?

  I have said it before, but I'll say it again: I am not blameless. I have a lot of anger and a myriad of emotions and feelings because of things people in my own church and church background have said because I dared to not support the GOP nominee for president. Untruths have been said. False accusations have been made. By those claiming they want to be like Jesus. And I have fought back.

 But what good has it done? None. I still say Obama divided this country, but Trump divided Christians and conservatives. But that can only happen if we let it. And we have let it. I have grown to hate politics and my political party. For reasons I won't go into, I dislike Trump even more than I did Obama...though Obama did more damage to our country than Trump has so far.

 One thing it all has done: it has shown me how easy it is to put our faith in the wrong things. Jesus is the way. He is the only one to have ultimate faith and loyalty in......not America, a political party, not a politician, not a church, and not even other Christians. People will let us down. Politicians will lie and let us down. Political parties will let us down. Churches will let us down. But God? He's not in the business of letting people down.

 And imagine if we spent as much time talking to people about God, as we do about politics......on and off of social media.

23) Day off 2

  I am drawing to an end of this very long post. I had two great days off in a row, and do not want to go back to work. I work the next 3, and then have the weekend off.

 Today was a cool day. I slept in again, and again enjoyed lying in bed, knowing I didn't have to get up early. I did have an 11:00 appointment to have the back brake pads on my car changed. I was really hoping and praying the rotors weren't bad, as the brakes have been squealing for a while.

 I dropped the car off at 10:30, then set off in the rain with my umbrella to shop before walking home. I hit Rite Aid and picked up some great gag gifts for Christmas from their clearance section, then hit the grocery store and the Dollar General store before walking home.

  It turns out that I not only didn't need rotors, I didn't need brake pads. The guy said dust can get in them and make them squeal. They even checked my front ones, and just charged me $10 for checking them. I thought that was pretty honest of them.

 Did I mention I am not ready to go back to work? I like my job, but feel like I need a vacation. Or sabbatical. A big part of it is my job is very people oriented.....a lot of people contact, constantly having to smile and help people. And I want to be at home. Not around people. But one can't make money sitting at home.

24) The trunk

   I may be a guy, but I like to decorate. My place doesn't look like what some think a typical bachelor's place looks like. I am no Martha Stewart (I'm actually glad of that....I'd be a woman and an ex-con!), but I do like to make my place look nice.

   One of my furnishings is a trunk that I bought cheap on clearance when I worked at Hobby Lobby. I have it in my living room where it will reside except for Christmas......I think I will put the Christmas tree there.

 I have been displaying it closed with a nautical pillow on top of it, but decided to be different and open it. I have seen them that way. I feel it needs something though, and am not sure what it needs. It has some pullover sweaters I haven't worn since Bush was in office...and no, I don't know why I still have them......there are a few throw blankets in it, and obviously the pillow......but it seems like it needs something, but what? Maybe I should email Martha Stewart. Instead of WWJD? it can be WWMSD? :)

 Would something like a nautical towel hanging out work......or no?

25) Christmas decorating 

 Speaking of decorating, I am not sure what I will do at my place. I have more windows here, a total of 12, not including the two doors. That is a lot of windows to put lights in. I'd like to put lights on the porch, but there is no railing, just a couple of brick posts that don't seem to have a way of having lights attached. Neither does there seem to be a way to put a tree out there. A bench to decorate would be cool, but I really can't afford to be buying one at the moment. Especially to just decorate.

26) The end

  In closing, though Jesus didn't talk about politics, He did talk a lot about how we are to treat each other. A great place to read about that is the Sermon on the Mount. Maybe we should all focus more on that than the latest bad or good about politicians.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

September stuff take 3

Keeping with my promise to blog more often whether anyone reads my ramblings, here is another of my "where it will go, even I don't know" posts. Enjoy. Or not.

 I know I am more blunt than some people like. I know I talk about things they'd rather I didn't. I know some people think I don't have a filter, and that I shouldn't say I don't like a certain hymn, president, etc.

 But this is me. I am not you or anyone else. And the cool thing about these multiple topic posts I do: anyone bored or brave enough to read my blog, can skip any they want.

 This post: not every hymn is good, Trump and gun control, reminder you are loved, homophobia, Christians and pornography, and other sacred cows.

 The views and opinions expressed are my own, and are unique to me.

 And a 3rd post in the same month. Wow.

1) Old and new

  Here is a few truths to think on: just because something is old does not make it good. Just because something is old does not make it bad. Just because something is new does not make it good. Just because something is new does not make it bad. That should cover it.

  I could be wrong on this ( I may be opinionated, but I know I am not always right. Just most of the time....) :)  -  in regards to music, it seems there are no really great Christian songs/hymns being written today that will stand the test of time. Where are the songs like Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages, Because He Lives, etc?

 Don't get me wrong. There are a  lot of good songs being written today. But not that many that will be around forever like these songs I mentioned and others. A lot of the modern praise and worship songs are shallow and will be forgotten in our lifetime. Yet there are some that are better.

 Yet not all hymns are great, or even good.

 Some people in my denomination  put together a hymnal that we thankfully don't use often titled something like "Wesleyan Methodist Heritage Hymns". Here is the thing: the majority of the songs in this hymnal are unknown or unfamiliar to most of our congregation. If they were part of our heritage, wouldn't they be as familiar to us as "Amazing Grace"? If they are part of my heritage, then why on earth did I never hear of most of them?

   Last Sunday night, a man in our congregation requested we sing a certain song out of that book. I thought he was doing it as a joke...it sure seemed like it. He even made the remark that it should give people hope that even John Newton didn't always get a great song...or something like that. (John Newton, writer of Amazing  Grace wrote it). It was a horrible song. After one verse, our song leader asked the musicians to play a verse so we could get a better idea of how it went. I said out loud "That isn't going to help", bringing chuckles from people around me. The song is titled "How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours." Google it. It is bad. (really bad!)

  I posted on Facebook later that it isn't often we sing a song that describes itself in the title: "How tedious and tasteless." The gentleman who requested it didn't seem to be as amused as I was, and among his comments pointed out that the trio (or was it 4?) of people who compiled the song book: "Evidently, they observed enough in this song to include it along with the other great hymns of Methodism in our song book, Wesleyan Heritage Hymns" )Ah, that is the name of the book!) I replied that I had some good comebacks, but I would be nice and not post them. But here is one: Since I know none of the people who compiled the book do not drink alcohol or do drugs, they must have come across this song after being up really, really late, and were extremely sleep deprived.

 Seriously, not every hymn is a good one, nor is every one worth singing. That one does not help a worship service at all, and I hope we never sing it again. :)

  I don't know it if is the oldest song in either of our hymn books, but I think it is: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God was penned by Martin Luther in 1529, at least that is the year given. That is a very old song that is really great.

 Trivia: I am not sure what possessed her to do so, but in 1983 on her first Christmas CD, Amy Grant did a medley of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God and Angels We Have Heard On High. If you figure that one out, let me know.

 Personally...I wouldn't mind some country flavor to our singing in church. I love the country sound and flavor.  :)

 And who knows....instead of harps, maybe we will be playing banjos and fiddles up there......

2) God sent?

  I posted this on Facebook, brought on mostly by Christians claiming God sent or chose Trump:

"We tend to think and claim that "God sent" or "chose" a leader or politician if they do enough politically that we agree with, and if we like the person.

Newsflash: If God does send or choose leaders in our country - and I am not convinced that He does - it may not be one we like or approve of. He or she may NOT do what we agree with politically.

In fact, God may send a leader who does evil and causes us to seek God more.

God is not Republican or Democrat. He isn't even political. He cares more about souls and the Gospel being preached than He does about our freedoms and comforts.

He does not do a poll and send or choose leaders based on what will please certain of his followers, and not please others."

  It came after some deep thought - and yes, I am capable of that. (Yeah, I surprise even myself sometimes!)  We do tend to think along these lines. If a president or any politician does enough politically that we agree with, we tend to think God sent him, or God answered our prayers by giving us that leader.

 If you know much about Israel's kings, God sent some pretty bad ones. Those serving God sure didn't approve of some of them, but it didn't remove the fact that God sent them. He sent the Davids and Hezekiahs, but He also sent the Manassehs and Ahabs.

  America is not Israel, and I think we sometimes have the idea that America is more important to God than any other country, and that all that applied to Israel also applies to the USA. I am not sure God sends us leaders. We vote on them, and I am convinced if every Christian voted the way we should, we would have godly and conservative leaders. We would not have to choose between 2 evils, because we would never nominate evils.

 What about Christians in other countries where there is persecution. Why isn't God sending them a leader who does more politically to help them? Does God love Christians in America more than the ones in China or Saudi Arabia?

  This is not about Mr Trump, but it is not really wise to claim God sent a politician when we like them or mostly agree with what they are doing. By doing that, we are doing what I have had my eyes opened to: putting politics and Christianity on the same level, or at least intertwining the two too much.

  God does care more about souls than our freedoms and comforts. What if the only way for revival to come here in America is for an evil leader to take over who destroys more of our freedoms and makes it more difficult to be a Christian in America? What if God sends that kind of leader?

 To say God sent a political leader, is to know the mind of God...and no one knows His mind.

3) You Are Loved

   Which is more important: To win people to your political persuasion and to brag on your favorite politician, or to win people to God and tell them the Gospel and how much God loves them?

  I hope you picked the latter, but one wouldn't know that by the way we act, especially on social media.

  One of the most important things for people to hear and know is that they are loved. First and foremost by God, but also by others. Are we making people feel and believe they are loved by God and by us as we post and argue about politics?

  I don't think I am off base when I say we need to spread the message of God's love more. We need to show it more also. Yes, there is a hell to go to. I heard tons of messages about that growing up, was in many altar calls where preachers told scary stories and used every tactic except God's love to get people to the altar...so they could make one more notch on their belt. (OK, that was a bit cynical, even for me.)

 A few years back, the Booth Brothers recorded a great song that is one of my favorites of theirs:

What The World Needs to Hear

There’s a teenage mother who’s left all alone
Waiting for someone already long gone
There’s a lonely old man whose children don’t care
And a black sheep who’s knocking but nobody’s there

What the world need to hear is John 3:16
That God loves them just as they are
His grace is sufficient to bring them to Him
Wherever they’ve been; no matter how far
There’s hope for the lost and the helpless
Faith will replace every fear
The gospel of Calvary – that‘s what the world needs to hear

To the sinner who thinks he’s too bad to save
To the dad who just put his young son in the grave
To the man with the bottle who can’t let it go
To the wife of a soldier who will never come home

What the world need to hear is John 3:16
That God loves them just as they are
His grace is sufficient to bring them to Him
Wherever they’ve been; no matter how far
There’s hope for the lost and the helpless
Faith will replace every fear
The gospel of Calvary – that‘s what the world needs to hear

Salvation’s story of Christ is the solution for all
Oh wherever you are, He’ll hear you when you call

There’s hope for the lost and the helpless
Faith will replace every fear
The gospel of Calvary – that’s what the world needs to hear
The gospel of Calvary – that’s what the world needs to hear

  More recently, another favorite group of mine recorded a great song along the same lines. I have been listening to Jeff and Sheri Easter since 1988, and have around 28 CDs of theirs. On their latest one, they wanted to record a song to remind people that God loves them. It has a country sound, so if you aren't into that, you might not like it. And if you aren't into that, then what is wrong with you?!

You Are Loved

I know you're hurting, I've seen you cry
Struggling with your doubts and fears, still you wonder why
It's OK to question, you have the right
But don't forget God knows your value, and you are precious in His sight
And there's never been one day that you weren't loved

God's love for you is strong and everlasting

Before you took one breath you were enough
You are fearfully and wonderfully created by His hands
His love will give you strength to rise above
So don't you ever doubt, you are loved

You've been in hiding, feeling so small
To keep you safe from careless words, you've built the walls
But now it's time for believing, you do your part
Dig deep and find the treasures hidden in your heart
'Cause there's never been one day that you weren't loved

God's love for you is strong and everlasting
Before you took one breath you were enough
You are fearfully and wonderfully created by His hands
His love will give you strength to rise above
So don't you ever doubt, you are loved

  That is so much more important than who we like politically... so why don't posts about that outnumber the political posts of the average Christians?

4) Something needs to change

 There are few non-fiction authors I keep up with, but David Platt is one. I just reviewed his newest book, Something Needs to Change. It was interesting and convicting. It causes you to take a mirror to your own Christian experience and realize how good we have it here, and how shallow American Christianity is.... and what we are willing to do for God.

   For instance, he related the story of their 20 year old translator they had on the trek he wrote about. When he was a little boy, his dad remarried, and his stepmother didn't like the boy. After a while, the father began disliking him. He would take hot sticks out of the fire and beat the boy on his back. They would chain the boy in the barn. The man who organized the trek Platt was on stopped for a meal and was given lodging in the barn. Hearing what he thought was an animal, he discovered an 8 year old boy chained up. He got the boy away from his cruel parents, and he was fostered or adopted by a Christian family. After he grew up, he ran onto his father coming down the mountain with one of his younger brothers for medical help. The father asked him to go take care of his sick step mother while he was gone, and the young man did.

 Could we do that? WOULD we do that? We block and un-follow those who have different political opinions and views than we do. There are people who still hold it against others for not voting for their candidate,  but here is a young man who was beaten with hot sticks and chained  in the barn going and taking care of the woman responsible for it happening. How would our Christianity measure up against his? Mine wouldn't measure up too well, and I'd wager a guess that most American Christians wouldn't either. We are too shallow, too petty, too political.

 Another thing that impressed me: they met with some Christians for church. Many of the people walked 2-3 hours up the mountain for church. Over 50 were crowded in a small room, some sitting on top of others, worshiping and praising God. No a/c, no fancy seats or programs, no hip worship team. (no outdated hymnals!)

 Prayer requests were given. After prayer, a couple of women volunteered to help one woman with the need she had expressed. One young man was suffering persecution at work after sharing the Gospel with a co-worker. Two men who had gone through that went to him and shared how they had had similar experiences and offered advice and help on how to handle that. Can you imagine those things happening in our churches? No, I can't either.

 I definitely recommend the book, but warn it could shake you out of your comfort zone and could be life-changing.

5) Tattoos

  It wasn't that many years ago, that nice people didn't get tattoos. Now everyone gets them, and there seems to be no limit to how many people get, or where.

   I can't see there ever being a reason I would ever get something so permanent on my body, but if I did, it would be where I could cover it if necessary. And I can understand someone getting one small tasteful one, but I can't understand getting so many that your whole arm is covered, or when people get them on the neck or face...that is beyond stupid. A teenage boy came into Sav A Lot one evening when I was working. He had a tattoo peeking above his collar I asked him about. It was a soccer ball with wings. He got it to remember his best friend who was a soccer player who had died. OK... kind of cool, but I hope no one gets a tattoo to remember me by. Just buy a book. Or eat a chicken.

  Anyway, back to tattoo sleeves...what sane person...much less a Christian.... wants a whole limb a different color than what God made them? And wouldn't it be cheaper and less painful to stick your arm in a vat of ink?

  I have my beliefs about Christians and tattoos, but all I will say, is I can't imagine why a true Christian would want to go to the extremes of sleeves and multiple tattoos. They make men look like gang members and make women look trashy. And if you see pictures of gang members, they are covered with tattoos. No matter what you believe, Christians should look decent and not like a circus freak or gang member. Nothing is taboo or off the table for Christians anymore.

 And it is OK to not like tattoos and not want a waitress or nurse covered in them. It isn't like a birth defect. People go out and spend a lot of money to cover their bodies and stick out from the normal...then they get mad if everyone doesn't just embrace their extreme body decor. We don't have to like it. Will I be your friend if you are covered in tattoos? Sure. But that doesn't mean I like them or approve of them.

 There is a popular meme people with tattoos like to post that says to the effect that some of the nicest people have tattoos and some of the meanest people go to church. That may be true, but there are also a lot of evil people covered in tattoos, and a lot of nice people in church.

 And something people with tattoos hate to hear, but is a great point: Imagine what they will look like when they are old and everything is sagging.

 Like them? Get one, but for the sake of decency, don't go to extremes.

 And for the record, I like people with tattoos as much as ones without, and have friends with tattoos. I just think they are nuts for getting them. :)

6) The bedroom

  My place is pretty much how I want it, but there are a couple of things yet to do in my bedroom. I would like to get dark blue (navy)  curtains to go with the patriotic/Americana theme. Or one pair and do a tie back on each of the two windows. (pic of the quilt above is at my old place)

  However, I am having difficulty finding the right size. Ideally, I need curtains around 70 inches long. 78 inches would hit the floor. The sizes I am finding are 63, 84, and longer. Nothing between 63 and 84. 63 is too short, and 84 is way too long

  I also have a quilt I don't know what to do with. It is a patriotic one that measures 60 inches by 49. A lady at work gave it to me who gave me a lot of patriotic decor. At my other place, there was a boarded up window at the head of my bed, so I hung the quilt on the wall to cover it up. However, here I can't use many nails and have no way of hanging it with just a couple of nails or push pins - what I used at the other place. I have a nice quilt on my bed already, not that it would cover the whole bed.

 Right now, it is residing folded up on the bottom shelf of the bookcase in my room, but I'd like to display it somehow in my room.

7) Walking

  I am really enjoying being so close to so much here in town. Unless I am in a hurry, I typically walk most of the places I go. I made the mistake of waking to the grocery store last week. Google says it is 2/10 of a mile. I only needed a couple of  items, so I walked. However, they had a kind of tea I buy and they rarely carry the diet in it. I bought 4 64 ounce, plus a few other things I didn't intend to buy. It was a pretty good load to carry the whole way home. But good for me.

 And East Palestine, OH is a very nice town to live in and walk around in.

8) Red flag laws

  It doesn't matter how far you stick your head in the sand, Donald Trump is not pro-second amendment.

 Let's recap:

1) Told the Republicans in Congress not to be afraid to buck the NRA. The NRA still supports him. Kind of like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders....

2) Wanted to raise the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21

3) Banned bump stocks

4) Wants to ban silencers

5) Said to go after the guns first and skip due process later

6) Wants red flag laws

   Sometimes I think I have lost my mind. Trump said and has done all this, but his supporters ignore it and keep being outraged by what Beto and other Democrats with a D by their name says about gun control. It seems as long as Trump does something, it is OK. I have Trump supporting friends who keep bashing the Democrats for wanting gun control, yet they are silent about it from Trump - can you understand my frustration? Some even do laughing emojis when I point out Trump's gun control.

 Example: several months back, I brought up the first two points above to a big Trump loving friend of mine. She said she has felt for a long time that the age needs to be raised to buy guns, that no 18 year old should be allowed to buy one. Then this past week, she posted a meme that said "Democrats want to raise the age to buy guns to age 21, yet want to lower the age to vote to 16." Uh.....She is also OK with the red flag laws because "no psycho needs a gun."

  Here is the thing about red flag laws: even if you trust the current administration - which I do not since he has had such liberal policies and still does - what happens when an extreme liberal is president and they deem the religious right and/or conservatives too dangerous to own guns and come after YOUR guns. If you are OK with red flag laws under a president you support, would you be OK with them under Beto, Warren, or another such politician?

 When a law like this is floated, a wise person really thinks about the implications of it, and especially down the road when worse leaders are in power. Anyone who is OK with red flag laws and the other things Trump has proposed and done are not pro-second amendment. They only care about their gun rights when a politician with a D by their name mentions gun control. Then they are outraged.

 One of many reasons I am so frustrated and angered by this, is because a man from my church harassed me by text trying to get me to vote for Trump. He, and others, told me if Hillary won, she would go after our guns....yet their guy won, and he has already done more gun control than Obama even came close to doing, and wants to do more... and Trump supporters are silent. It seems they are bothered more by we who criticize his gun control than by Trump's gun control.

 I did see one avid Trump supporter urge people to call the White House switch board about the red flag laws, but most are silent.

 I am more worried about our second amendment rights under Trump, than I was under Obama. A lot more worried. All Obama had to do was mention gun control, and conservatives rose up outraged and gun sales soared. Trump talks gun control, does gun control, and there is silence from conservatives. When a shooting happened and Obama talked gun control, conservatives were outraged that Obama was standing on the bodies of the dead and using them for his anti gun agenda. Trump does the same thing....and crickets. Infringement is still infringement when the guy is hiding behind an R.

9) The Bible: supporting your agenda

  It never ceases to amaze me how people can use the Bible to support their political agenda and views.

 When Obama was in office, he liked to use the Bible to claim we had to open the borders and give free health care to everyone.

 More recently, pro-wall/anti illegal immigration folks like to bring up the fact that God had Nehemiah build a wall, and that Heaven has walls. But just because God wanted a wall around Jerusalem, does not mean He wants one around the USA. And this is definitely not Heaven.

  On the other side of the issue, those against a wall and think we need to just let the illegals in to stay have been quoting verses to support that idea. One is the verse about taking care of the stranger within your gates. The problem with that: That was addressed to the Israelites and would have meant fellow Israelites within their gates. If you paid attention in Sunday School class, you will remember what God had them do with the countries around them: exterminate them. So are we to do that? :) Also, is the person willing to take in illegals in his own home? For that verse is for individuals, not countries.

  I feel either use is wrong, and is using and twisting Scripture to support your own political views and agenda.

  Me? I am all for better border security and for sending illegals home. I won't go into all the reasons. A wall? I don't believe Trump intends to ever build one. The more he talked about it, the more popular he became with Republicans. If he wanted to build it, he would have started when Republicans controlled the House. He is only bringing it up again since election 2020 is looming close. He needs to keep that support.

 I do think it is sad that a wall seems to be the most important issue to so many people. The most important should be the killing of babies.

**Warning, heavy sarcasm ahead!

10) I wish I drove a semi or motorcycle 

 I assume you read the warning....

 I wish I drove a semi or motorcycle. People do a lot of Facebook posts lambasting we lowly peasant who drive cars because we make it less safe for the motorcycle drivers and semi drivers. It must be nice to be perfect drivers of those vehicles who never, ever do anything unsafe with their vehicles to put themselves and we peasants in cars at risk or in danger. And all we peasants do is make their lives at risk. After all, it is entirely we peasant car drivers' responsibility to watch out for those driving unsafe vehicles - motorcycles - and our responsibility to serve truckers and stay out of their way.

 If only I was perfect like them.....

 OK, got that out of my system!

11) It is OK with God to treat people badly when politics are involved. 3 Peter 2:1

  I was thinking about some of the teachings of the Bible that we toss out and disobey at election times and even other times when politics is discussed.

Commands/teachings like these:

Blessed are the peacekeepers

Turn the other cheek

A soft answer turns away wrath

Do unto others as you would have them do to you

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord

  And there are many more that would apply. It seems Christians don't act any different than non-Christians when it comes to politics, and people from my church don't act any different than non-Christians. That doesn't mean every Christian, of course.

 I don't exclude myself. I feel I started out pretty well around election time, but I did have a lot of crap said to me and about be because I dared oppose the guy who somehow won the nomination in my party. The worse it got, the angrier I got. So I fought back. I still have a lot of anger, but try to hold back. I definitely post a very small percentage of my political thoughts. A very, very small percentage. 

 But seriously, do we subconsciously think we can ignore the Bible at election times, except when it fits our agenda, like "pray for our leaders." That is a popular one. The verses I mentioned above? Not so much.

  I have shared this before, but back at election time, a certain preacher I didn't know, did a post comparing Trump to Sampson. He tried to make the point that God used Sampson even though he did a lot of wrong...so Christians should vote for Trump because God could use Trump. He ended it with saying anyone who didn't vote for Trump, and voted third party was just throwing out their vote. Several of my friends shared that, and one even tagged me...to my disgust and annoyance. Voting your conscience is NOT throwing your vote away. At best, that is a manipulation tactic, at worse it is an outright  lie told by a pastor.

 This same preacher came to my church for revival. How much help do you think I got out of those services? I don't believe preachers should be political like that. It is their job to spread the Gospel, not guilt people into voting the way they want them to. One pastor I already didn't think highly of was crowing on Facebook that he had convinced a woman to vote for Trump who wasn't going to before. I don't remember seeing him post about convincing someone to choose Jesus.

 And maybe that is true for all of us. Should we be that political and ignore spreading the Gospel and treating people as God would have us treat them, because it is election time?

12) Christians and pornography

  We Christians and conservatives love to point out the hypocrisy of the liberals in Hollywood as they scream for more gun control, all the while producing and appearing in violent movies that contain all sorts of shooting and gun action. (And while having armed security for themselves)

  That IS hypocritical of them, but what if conservatives and Christians are being just as hypocritical?

  Answer these questions honestly:

a) Do you believe pornography is OK?
b) Do you believe Christians should view pornography?
c) Would you be OK with your child viewing porn and/or being in porn movies?
d) Do you believe pornography exploits the people involved in it?

  I hope if you are a Christian, you answered 3 no's and then a yes. Well, even if you do not profess to be a Christian, I hope you answered that way.

  It has bothered me the filth that professing Christians watch. One biggie is Game of Thrones. Full disclosure here: I have never viewed one episode of the show. I have, however, read concerns of many Christians who do know what the show is like, and they all say the same thing: it has lots of nudity and sex. Hmm...kind of like pornography...

  Any time this is brought up on social media, Christian viewers of the show come out of the woodwork to defend it: It has so much history! The acting is so great! I learned a lot! (What, how to have sex?!)

 There was an article on Facebook that sparked this part of my blog. "Why so many Christians can't stand Matt Walsh." I don't agree with Walsh on everything, and the fact that he is a beer guzzling cigar smoking Christian bugs me..... but the guy isn't afraid to tackle anything, even the sacred cows of what Christians view. In the article, it is discussed what he said about Christians watching horror movies. The author of the article then quotes something another Christian blogger and pastor, Tim Challes wrote in an article titled "Are you godly enough to watch smut?" He is discussing a popular Netflix show, Stranger Things:

"To create Stranger Things a group of people filmed an actual eighteen-year-old girl actually taking off her shirt and actually simulating losing her virginity to an actual teenaged boy. They did that for our pleasure, for our entertainment, so we could see it. What on this side of hell could justify me, a nearly forty-year-old man, watching a production that involves an eighteen-year-old girl—someone’s daughter, someone’s future wife—disrobing and writhing her way through simulated sex with a manipulative, hormone-driven boyfriend?"

  Does that sound like something a Christian should view? Does that sound like something a Christian opposed to pornography should view? (by the way, I read the full article, and it is worth reading)

   And here is a question to ponder: Is pornography limited to complete nudity where you can see the sexual organs of one person entering the other and everything that goes along with filming an actual sex scene, not a simulated one? Could scenes like the one described in Stranger Things and the scenes from Game of Thrones be classified as pornography in the actual definition of the word? Are the actors and actresses in these shows being exploited any less than the ones in actual porno movies?

  Are Christians so addicted to entertainment, that  they must feel themselves with this kind of filth? What is more important, being more holy, or being more entertained? And can a person become more holy by watching this stuff,or is it going to hinder him spiritually? My money would be on the latter.

  More disclosure: My church does not believe in TV and movies. After my parent became Christians in 81, we never had a TV in our home. We lost everything in a house fire, so we never actually got rid of the TV we had.... My views and beliefs have changed over the years, and I don't agree with my church on everything these days. I watch movies, but I try to be careful about the ones I watch. I try to avoid ones that have a lot of bad language, especially the "F-word", but I do that in my reading also...which I do more than movie watching.

 And my being a bookworm all of these years was most likely influenced by not having a TV.

 Anyway, I said that to say this: Watching movies and TV is not necessary in life. Entertainment is not a need. It isn't wrong, and we all need to relax and do something fun... and entertainment is one such way to do that.

 But TV and movies? We may all be better off not viewing that at all, but if we are going to do it, should we not do our best to be careful in what we view?

  Can a Christian keep his mind and thoughts pure while watching TV shows and movies that contain nudity and sex scenes? What effect will it have on his or her soul and relationship with Jesus? Could they watch that stuff with Jesus sitting beside them in a physical form? Can they stand against porn while watching things that are so close to being porn, and could very likely be classified as that if they were honest about it? 

 Imagine the scene:
Dad to his teenage son: "I am so disappointed in you for viewing porn!"
Teen: "But you watch Game of Thrones, and it has nudity and sex!"
Dad: "That is different. It is educational and historical. And the acting is great!"

  Taking the excuses Christians do use to watch GOT, then I guess an actual porn movie would be OK if it is set in a historic setting, the acting is really good, and they learn something.

 From what I have learned and read about the Game of Thrones show, there are a lot of scenes where women appear topless, including in a lesbian relationship...and a lot of sex scenes.

 That brings up another question: How are TV shows with topless women any different from viewing Playboy? And what kind of woman has no problem with her husband watching a TV show (or movie) with topless women?

 I honestly don't mean this to be judgmental, but anyone who watches these shows tend to be defensive about it, and that is how I will likely be viewed for bringing it up.

 But seriously, if Christians are going to watch TV and movies, then shouldn't our viewing habits be different from those who do not serve God?

 Psalm 101 is titled "I will walk in integrity." Verse 3 has been quoted a lot over the years, but verse 2 applies here too:

KJV: 2 I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

 And my current favorite version:

ESV: 2 I will ponder the way that is blameless.
    Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
    within my house;

3 I will not set before my eyes
    anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
    it shall not cling to me.

  I wonder what Jesus and His disciples would do if they were walking the earth during our time. Can you imagine them watching Game of Thrones? "I know you need healed, but this sex scene is sooo awesome. Hold on a few!"

 Could it be Christians in general waste too much time on entertainment (yeah, reading too!), then on doing what God might be wanting us to do?

13) Social media

  Sometimes I wonder if social media is really a good thing. It tends to bring out the worst in us, and we do things we would never do in person. Well, mostly. Example: I know there are people even from my own church who "un-follow" me on Facebook, yet they would never ignore me off of social media. True story: The guy who texted me constantly to get me to vote the way I wanted, was surprised to discover I was moving.... yet I discussed it a lot on Facebook and put a lot of pictures on there. I already suspected he didn't follow me anymore, and was really tempted to tell him if he didn't ignore me on social media, he'd have known it. But contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, I do not say everything I think. Honest!

a) I keep up with relatives and friends who I wouldn't hear from otherwise
b) I have made friends and gotten to know relatives I would never have known otherwise
c) I keep up with favorite authors and win books and other things on social media
d) I am a member of some groups for people with same-sex attraction, which has given me a lot of help, encouragement, and fellowship from others dealing with the same things I deal with.

  This may sound pathetic, but it is the honest to goodness truth: Outside of work and church, I have no one I interact with off line, other than family. Now before you attribute that to social media, let me explain:

  I have never really made friends easily. To this day, I struggle to believe people actually like me, mostly still because of bullying in school. I don't have any friends, as in the regular hanging out and visiting kind of friends. That is one reason I love being with my family so much. They are the only people I hang out with, and it doesn't happen often enough. No guy my age is into shopping, reading, and hanging out a home. I am single, and fifty years old. It is my reality.

 So I enjoy social media. I get to interact with people other than at work and the little bit of interacting I do at church.

  There was a period of time where I had my own house and lived all alone. My life was a little different then. I was in the Big Brothers program, and that filled a void...but there were still a lot of lonely times when it was just me in that house all alone, not interacting with anyone.

 Social media can drive me crazy at times, but it also helps me. But I'll take time with my family over it any day.

 Tomorrow (September 29), our whole gang is going to my mom and dad's for Sunday dinner to celebrate two birthdays: My oldest nephew, Josiah, who is counting down the days til October 3 when he will be 18. Man, I feel old. And it doesn't help that he keeps reminding us of how many days it is til he is 18. We will also celebrate the birthday of the newest addition to our gang: Todd, my oldest niece's still fairly new boyfriend. And I am already looking forward to it and anticipating the great food and fun we always have when we are together.

14) Reading

 An update on my reading: I had set a goal of 200 books, but bypassed that long ago, as I have put on here. I am currently at 398, only 2 more til I double my goal. I am a bit surprised at how many I have read, but reading is how I fill a lot of my spare time.

 I have learned a lot even by reading fiction. I have been to places through books that I will never see in person. I think it is a great way to fill my time.

 The spare room may be a reading room for me once it gets cooler. I don't have central air, and use window units. I didn't want to mess around with putting an air conditioner in that room, so it doesn't stay very cool. I think it would make a good reading room though, so I may spend some of my reading time in there.

15) Homophobia

 The word homophobia gets used a lot in the wrong ways. If you say homosexuality is a sin, you are  homophobic. Oppose gay marriage? Homophobic. It is all too often used in the wrong way.

 True homophobia is fear and/or hatred of gay people. I have shared this before, but it is an example of homophobia: It has been probably 10-11 years ago now that my Sunday School class was discussing different issues in class such as abortion and homosexuality. I was way, way in the closet at that time. There were 2 guys that were pretty brutal in what they had to say when there were comments. One said he would rather have a murderer around his kids than one of those perverts. THAT is true homophobia.

  There is a man, I have no idea of his age, who reads my blog and comments occasionally. He deals with same-sex attractions, and I think hides it from most or all people. And I don't blame him. Our churches have countless people in them who deal with this very tough issue, and are scared to death to tell anyone. The answer is not to toss out what the Bible says, as liberal Christians and churches do, but conservative Christians and churches need to do better.

 Could you be friends and hang out with a gay person? I don't mean gay as in someone who is living for God, abstaining from sex, but using the gay label. I mean a gay person who is having sex and is out and proud. Could you do it? Jesus would, and aren't we supposed to be like him?

 I have a Facebook friend who shared an experience in one of those Facebook groups for people with same-sex attractions that I am in. I don't imagine he wants it spread, so I will be very general in what I say, but it bothered me a lot, and led to this part of my post. "John" was introduced to and befriended a couple who I think was new to his area. They had a common interest in something that was good for the county. At some point, the guy contacted him. He had found out John's story, which had a very public discovery and scandal because of and due to his sexuality with a lot of severe fallout and damage. He told John he thought it was weird that he just wanted to hang out, and they needed to set some boundaries, such as his wife always present when he met with John. There was more to it, but that is the gist of it.

 I personally feel this guy was a jerk about it, and John is better off ignoring the guy. But I am sure it hurt. Here he is coming back from a bad mistake he made, serving God, and just trying to make friends with this couple. Man. Is it any wonder so many people in our churches struggle with this issue in silence?

  For years, I struggled in silence, scared to death of people finding out. How far I have come. Now I honestly don't care who knows. I am probably talk about it too much for some people. But I know what is like think you are the only one. If just one person gets some encouragement from what I say, even just knowing they are not alone, then it is worth everything I have gone through because of this struggle.

 Of course the acceptance nationwide of being gay has helped. It is a double edged sword. It gives more people courage to admit the struggle, but it also encourages people to pursue that lifestyle.

   I honestly don't know if people knowing about me has changed anything. The same people still greet me and occasionally chat with me at church. I never had people lining up at my door wanting to hang out, so I don't know if anything has changed. I do wonder how many people at church do know. I wonder if I am ever the topic of one of the acceptable sins: gossip. Back during the election, one lady from my church who skips more than she goes made a comment on Facebook before deleting me. She said Trump's serial adultery, strip clubs, vulgarity, and bragging about sexual assault shouldn't bother me with my past. This woman doesn't know me well, so I don't know what she thinks she knows. Does my being attracted to other guys mean I should be OK with adultery, strip clubs, vulgarity, etc? It sounds like she could be one to have issues with my SSA.

  How would you react if a good friend or a relative sat down and told you they were gay, or that they were attracted to other guys? Would you be a safe person to come to, or would they be hurt and wish they had kept quiet? How would you deal with gay neighbors? How would you deal with a gay couple coming to your church?

16) Gay identity

  I have discussed a Christian truly living according to the Bible and Biblical sexuality using the gay label, and even worse: queer. I have strong opinions on that, but know others don't agree. I have discussed it on here before, and have a little more to say about it, due to someone I follow on Twitter. I may stop following her, as she drives me crazy. She is supposedly a celibate lesbian, and goes around advertising she is a lesbian. Then she gets on social media and whines because she feels she has to explain to people that she is celibate and is not having sex with other women.

 Here is where I really have a problem. I know not everyone is like this, and in fact had a comment with someone on my blog who disagrees with me, and is someone I would not put in this category: Some of the people, mostly the side B and Revoice people, have the attitude that the gay militants have: "We are here. We are queer/gay, and you must accept us on our terms." If they are going to go around using the queer and gay terminology, they are going to have to explain some things. Because whether I am right or not in how I feel about the words being used, most of the world and church alike are going to assume you are gay/lesbian/queer in the full meaning of the word if you use those words to describe yourself. Even "gay Christian" has so long been used by the pro-gay theology that people are likely to assume the user believes you can be gay - as in having sex - and be a Christian.

 By the way, one guy who is a celibate gay side B guy who also calls himself queer, was complaining on Twitter because he gets called "faggot" occasionally. So why is queer in, but not faggot? Both seem very crude and mean words to use for anyone.

  As I said, maybe I am wrong about the gay label and identity, but using it may require a little explanation.

17) Author "swag"

   #17 is just to end the post on a positive note. I try to not rant too much, and that is why my topics are so random and varied. I do talk about pretty much anything that comes to mind when I am blogging.

 I review a lot of books on my other blog, Thoughts of a Sojourner. Some of these books are through the publisher, and some via the author for a "launch team." The launch team usually has a Facebook group with personal interaction with the author. Some of these authors send some extra things with the book, often referred to as swag. Lynn H Blackburn, author of the book I reviewed today,  sent a key chain, refrigerator magnet, and a couple of other things. I got the newest launch team book yesterday in the mail, and the author sent bookmarks and a canvas bag. I love it when an author does this, as it shows they appreciate you reviewing their book and getting the news out about their book.

 Until next time.