Purpose




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





Friday, August 29, 2014

Why I'm not doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

 
I am sure this will not be a popular post, but hey, it IS my blog and I blog about what I think, not what other people think. Maybe no one will even read this post because of the title, but that's OK.

  You'd have to live in a cave far under ground with no internet, TV, radio, or contact with the outside world to not hear of the ALS ice bucket challenge. Someone gets challenged to either dump a bucket of ice water over their head and body to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). If they forfeit, they are supposed to make a financial donation to the ALS Foundation. If they do it, they video tape it and call out a few people they challenge.
  
  To make my point that this is just a fad and a lot of people don't even know what it is about, I had to google it to see what ALS stood for, and I still don't know anything about the disease. So much for raising awareness of it. And I have been inundated with videos and comments about the challenge.

  I haven't been challenged, and have been hoping I wouldn't be, so I have been careful to not comment on anyone's videos or say much about it on Facebook. I had one co-worker who said he was going to challenge me, as the person he challenged in his video wasn't on Facebook and didn't see it, but that would require him doing it again, which isn't going to happen.

 But if I was challenged, I wouldn't do it, nor would I give a donation to the ALS Foundation. I would most likely give to the place of my choice to prove I am not tightfisted with my money, but I would not - will not - do the ice bucket challenge. Why? I am so glad you asked!




  There are a few reasons:

1) I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I know how unpleasant dumping ice cold water over my body would be. And then to video myself doing it? Nope. I am smart enough not to do it.

2) I'm careful who I donate to. From what I read, only 7% of the donations actually go toward helping with a cure or whatever they use it for. The rest goes to pad the pockets of people in the foundation, and some of them are making a lot more money than I'll ever see.

 This will sound crass, but being I didn't even know what ALS stood for until I googled it, in spite of being inundated with videos, nor do I know anything about the disease, or anyone that has it..... so why should I dump cold water on myself and/or give money towards it? I'd rather give money to Christian organizations and/or pro-life organizations.

  And before you wonder or ask, I do give money to a ministry that is close to my heart. What it is, and how much I give, is for me to know, and for you......to not know. (And I say that with a smile)




 3) I saw the above picture on Facebook and had to look up the Scripture reference to see what it said:“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. "(NLT)

  It is a OK thing - actually a good thing - to raise awareness of a disease, though as I have pointed out, I am not sure it has raised that much awareness. Maybe I am the only person who had to look it up. But as Christians, should we be making such a public scene about our giving, or lack of giving if we do it to avoid giving a donation? And if we make a video to avoid giving, whether you think its a good cause or not, what does that say about us?

4) It is a fad. I have done fads before. I bought the Rick Warren book "A Purpose Driven Life" and was all rah rah about it for a while, and other fads, but I have tried to avoid fads. And is this ever a fad. If I were a betting man, and I am not - for the same reason I won't dump ice water over my head - I would bet that there are tons of people doing it because its a fad. They don't care about ALS. They have no clue what it is, but everyone is making these videos, so they bring out the camera or cell phone, fill up a bucket with ice cold water, and show the world what they look like soaking wet while shrieking from self-inflicted misery.

 There are those who criticize anyone who tries to make these points, or similar points. It isn't popular to go against popular culture and the crowd, and that is what the ice bucket challenge is: popular culture and everyone jumping on the newest fad.

  Yes, it has raised a lot of money to make the foundation people more comfortable in the lifestyles they have grown accustomed to (OK, that sounded really jaded) - and a small percentage has gone to help fight the disease or find a cure (see, even after all of those videos, I STILL don't know where the money goes that doesn't line pockets).

 But I still say as Christians we have a responsibility to give to causes that are Christian, or at least important to us. Have someone who has ALS? By all means donate and raise awareness, but instead of making a video of you shrieking and wet, make a video telling what ALS is. Where the money goes that is donated. Know someone who has cancer? Everyone does. Do something there.

 As for me. I still hope no one challenges me, but if they do, I will quietly donate to the ministry of my choice, One where I know what the money will be used for, and where it will help a cause near and dear to my heart.

And one more reason:

5) It is kind of dumb. You make a video to tell people you are NOT donating money to the cause. Isn't that kind of weird?

And if you are thinking evil thoughts about me because of this post, consider this: I only did what the video makers did (so am I weird too? Nah, I was already werird) - I stated I am not donating, though I gave reasons why - and I raised awareness of ALS. So maybe I should challenge 3 people to blog about why they aren't donating? Nah. I'll just leave it at that :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

He went out of His way


One of my favorite Bible stories is in John 4. It is the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. And it is a favorite for a couple of reasons. It shows Jesus wasn't just here for good people, but for the down and out "not-so-nice" people. I also identify with the Samaritan Woman, so the story means a lot to me. And another reason: Jesus went out of His way to meet her. Samaria wasn't on their path. In fact, Jews avoided Samaria, but the Bible says He needed to go through Samaria. For one woman.

  I am sure they had a full day planned, and Jesus was a busy guy, but He didn't just take time out of His day for this woman. He went out of His way.

  I have a friend who is a fairly new friend, but is a great friend. He lived the gay lifestyle for several  years before turning to God, and now runs a ministry for men struggling with same-sex attractions. Last week he had a friend show up at his door around 3 am. This friend is gay and was trying to move out away from his boyfriend, so the boyfriend beat the guy up. Matthew stayed up all night ministering to this guy. Most Christians would slam the door on a gay guy who was just beat up by his boyfriend, but Matthew went out of his way to help this guy, who as far as I know has made no move towards Christianity.

  There's another story in the Bible involving a Samaritan, and it also involves someone going out of his way. The story of the Good Samaritan. Jew gets robbed and left for dead in the ditch. A couple of religious leaders come by and ignore him and pass on the other side of the road. Then a Samaritan, a natural enemy of Jews, comes along. He stops, bandages the wounds of the beaten man, takes him to an inn and pays for his room, and tells the innkeeper he will pay anything left on the tab when he comes back.

  Not many Christians want to do that anymore. Go out of their way, be inconvenienced, get their hands dirty. They'll sing a special, take up the offering, or anything else that will put them up front in church, just as long as it isn't an inconvenience. They'll put money in the offering plate for missions, do an ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for a disease, just as long as they don't have to go out of their way.

  We have become selfish Christians. We have our cliques, our plans, and have our days planned out just the way we want them to go. If someone is lying in the ditch, too many of us are like the religious leaders and pass by, afraid it will take up our time or it will get our hands dirty.



  I have talked before about wearing masks. What it is like to attend church and feel you have to wear a mask for fear of what would happen if people could see under the mask. Some might avoid you. Others might run. Still others might want to put a scarlet letter on you like in the classic book "The Scarlet Letter". And others might just ignore you. All of those reactions are sad. We are the Church, the family of God. We should be surrounding people with love when their masks fall to the ground or slip aside to give a glimpse of what is underneath.

  Our churches are full of hurting and struggling people. Often we have no idea what is going on, but other times we do know or have a good idea. And too often, we pass by and let them lie there in the ditch. We don't have time, we don't want to go out of our way, or get our hands dirty... or God forbid, we catch THAT from them.

  Sometimes all someone needs is a listening ear over a cup of coffee. Someone asking how they are doing, and really meaning it. I've been there. I have wanted someone to ask me how I was doing, and not be freaked out if I didn't use the Christian "f-word." (Fine). I've wanted someone to put their arm around me and tell me I was going to make it, that I mattered, that God does care and love me.

   And all too many times, it didn't happen. But that was then, this is now, and it has helped me understand  how important it is to be there for our Christian brothers and sisters. In fact, I have prayed that if God wanted to use my struggles to help someone else some day, I would be willing to be used. I figured that would be some time in the future, but that time has come. I feel inept and unqualified, but am praying God uses me to help someone I have been talking to and who I am trying to be there for. Even if it is a text message asking how they are doing.



  I had a friend confide in me recently that they are afraid of how people at their church will react and treat them if something gets out that is most likely going to get out. I think it is sad that it is even a worry. Isn't this the family of God?  Where "when one has a heartache, we all share a tear"? Or is it "when one has a heartache, we gossip, judge, and are just glad it isn't us in those circumstances?" That sounds jaded and even a bit snarky, but I am afraid it is true of a lot of people.

 We need to cut back on our golf games, our movies, reading, shopping, and whatever else we think is so important that we do, and spend time on people. That's what Jesus did, and what He would do if He were walking the earth today doing His earthly ministry.

  And we need to love. And go out of our way. Get our hands dirty once in a while, and set aside our plans to be there for a hurting brother or sister.

  It wasn't convenient for Jesus to go through Samaria to meet that one lone outcast of a woman. But He did.

  And it was far from convenient for Him to go through the beatings, mockery, and crucifixion for us, so that we could have eternal life........ but He did it. He left Heaven and came here to die for you and I. It was so much more than an inconvenience, and yet we can't go out of our way for Him? We can't go out of our way to be there for others who are hurting?

 Myself included in this statement: we are too focused on me. Making me comfortable and happy. Doing what me wants, spending time on me. We even make the Bible fit what me wants. And we are so busy making me happy and comfortable, that we don't have time for others. Time to encourage and be Jesus to others. Me has to be entertained, fed, and made happy.

  If we truly lived selfless lives with eternity in view, things would be so different. But whether we want to admit it, too many of us are basically selfish down deep. We excuse it and call it other things, but we are basically selfish.

  May God help us all to go out of our way, to get our hands dirty, and to inconvenience ourselves once in a while, and not be so bound on making me happy.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tossing out the taboo

 I read a post on Facebook this week that got me thinking. It said "The mindset seems to have changed dramatically from: "I'm a Christian, how can I be a good testimony and witness for Christ" to "I'm a Christian, I have freedom to do whatever I want, don't judge me."

  I have been thinking about this, and how there is so little difference in the world and the Christian anymore. If the world is doing it today, Christians will be doing it in 5-10 years.

  Now I know churches and Christians can get too bound up in what we should wear, what we should or shouldn't watch, and put too much focus on that stuff and not enough focus on the heart and on a relationship with God.

  But the fact remains that Christians are not to be like the world. And too many are. And a lot like the world. There has been,  and will continue to be much debate and argument on such things, and I am not here to debate, but to toss out some thoughts on this subject. And I shall start by posing a question:

What should our basis for morality and beliefs be?


  If you are a good Christian, your answer should be God and His Word. Which basically boils down to God. And God and His Word never changes.

  So why does our morality and beliefs constantly change? And what causes us to change them?

  Society. The world.




 Nothing is really wrong anymore. Society will eventually accept it, and the church will follow and anyone who doesn't change is looked down on and scoffed at. Even by other Christians who have moved on.

  Think about this: There are things which the world once considered wrong. There were things that were taboo to even the world, and now not only does the world accept and outright defend and promote it, but so do Christians. 

  There was a day that if you dressed a certain way, it was public indecency and you could get fined. Or people assumed you were a prostitute. Now even professing Christians dress that way and highly defend it. So was it wrong back then or not? And if so, why isn't it wrong now?

  There was a day that nice people didn't use certain words. Now even Christians use them, and Christian authors use them in books they write, and if you dare speak up, you're judgmental and looked down on.

  There was a day that nice people didn't put tattoos all over their bodies. But now its the big thing, even for Christians, and if you disagree, you are judgmental and not with the times.

  There was a day earrings on guys were taboo, and then only gay guys wore them.... now Christian guys do. 

 There was a day that if a woman dressed like a man, they were just about tarred and feathered... now they can dress like a man, have a man's haircut, and its all good.

  There was a day Christians took a stand against alcohol, along with much of the world. Now if you don't drink, you're weird and out of touch. After all, Jesus turned the water into wine.....

  And the list could go on. Things that even the world looked down on at one time, and now Christians do it and you had better not tell them they shouldn't. Christians doing what was once taboo to even the world.

  Do we really stand for anything anymore? If all it takes is the world becoming more accepting of something, that we cave and do it a few years later? Are they really beliefs if we toss them out the window so easily, or were they just preferences, and our way of going with the flow, and when the flow changes, we change too?

  For the record, I have friends who are Christians and do things I mentioned, and that is between them and God,  and I have confidence in them. But the question still remains: if something is taboo to even the world, if the world changes and accepts it, does that make it OK for Christians? Is it not dangerous to one's soul to get your morality and beliefs from the world?

  Being a Christian and being different from the world involves a lot more than how we look, what we do and where we go, but all of that should be influenced by God and His Word. Not by the world.

  Think about it. What is still taboo today - if there is anything - will be done by Christians 10-20 years from now, or more. But it will be done.

  There is so much talk about not letting man dictate our beliefs, yet the same people who utter that refrain are doing just that: letting the world dictate their beliefs.

  One can go too far with the outward, as the Amish prove so well, but the reverse is also true: One can go too far the other way. May we get our morality and belief system from God, not from the world.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gay argument #2: animals do it

 This is a rather stupid argument, but it is used by the pro-gay crowd to try to say homosexuality is normal. There are times that 2 animals of the same gender have sex together. At least so they say. But does it matter if they do? It is one of the weakest and dumbest argument that they could use. We are not animals, and there are other things animals do that we would never say is normal for humans to do. Things such as:

1) Some animals eat their young.

2) Some animals eat their own dung, or the dung of other animals

3) Animals also have sex with any relation to them. So far, incest isn't being defended for humans, but give them time

4) Most animals clean themselves with their tongue. Everywhere.

   Much more could be said, but is it really necessary? This is such a terrible argument, not much needs to be said. We are different than animals, and they do a lot of things humans don't do, and are not normal for humans to do. This argument needs to be shot and tossed aside.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

If churches were hospitals

 
**I did a blog post along these same lines a couple of years ago, but since working at a hospital, I have some new thoughts.

      I have been working in the waiting room of a hospital since March. My job is to greet people, find out what they are there for, get them a wheel chair if needed, and help them sign in, among other things. One critical part of greeting people is finding out what they are there for. If they are experiencing  heart attack or stroke symptoms, they cannot wait in the waiting room, and I have to call a supervisor or support nurse to get them in right away. And there are other things I have to watch for. But not everyone is  helpful. Here are some of the answers I get in reply to "what are you here for", or "why are you here?"

1) To come to the emergency room (duh - that is obvious)

2) My doctor sent me. (Not too helpful either)

3) I'm sick. (I kind of figured that, but still not helpful)

4) I'd rather not say. (usually a woman, again not very helpful)

5) Lots of reasons. (OK, name a few)

6) I don't need any help (followed by the person heading to the KIOSK to register)




    Now as long as they aren't having chest pains, stroke symptoms, about to pass out or bleed to death, it isn't extremely important for me to know what they are there for. And if someone doesn't want to say, I'll tell them I have to ask because I have to watch for heart and stroke symptoms, and they will tell me it isn't that. But they eventually have to tell someone. Behind my desk is the Triage #1 room. There is a RN and a CT or CPA (both names for someone who helps the nurses but can't do a couple of things). When the patient enters that room, they have to tell the nurse and CT what is wrong. It is then entered on the screen, and after their vitals are taken and other questions asked, they go back to a room, where again they will have to tell someone what is wrong, this time another nurse,  and a doctor.

  Most people don't mind telling me what is wrong. And sometimes if it something I wouldn't want to tell if I were in their shoes, but they just blurt it out. One young man wanted to use my phone after he was released, and after knowing what he was there for, I completely sanitized my phone after he walked away. There was no way I wanted to get what he had. One guy said "I'm nuts!" And he was.



   Wouldn't it be nice if we could do that at church? Stand up and say "This is my problem or struggle." And some things we can admit to without fear of people getting out the sanitize wipes. But for some of us, it is like some of the patients going into the ER:

I'd rather not say
I have problems
Its personal
I'm OK

   I have said it before, but too many churches have certain things you can talk about, and certain things you can't. You can mention the "nice sins" and "normal struggles". Its OK to talk about pride, anger, bad temper, jealousy, envy, lack of faith, etc. But don't you dare mention pornography, same-sex attraction, lust, marriage problems, and other "not-so-nice-sins" or struggles.

  Once in a while at the church I grew up in, someone would want to be anointed for a health issue. They'd go up front, and people would gather around them to pray. The pastor would quote James 5:16: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."(KJV) And then he'd ask if anyone wanted to confess any faults.  And then he'd ask for confession. To this day, I am amused when I think of  those times. It was always things like "I need more patience" or "I need to be more humble". If someone had dared say "I struggle a lot with lust" or something equally "bad", it might have thrown the whole anointing scene into chaos. You don't talk about bad things in church, just nice ones.

  I've been there. For years I had a struggle I couldn't talk about. If I had dared - or would dare - to stand up and say this is me, what I struggle with", there are people who would drag out a large container of sanitizer wipes or Lysol and immediately start disinfecting the area around them just in case it was contagious.



  And I am not alone. My church runs around 230-250 most Sundays, and I personally know of a few people dealing with stuff they can't talk about at church.

  But here is a good question: if you can't talk about it at church and ask for prayer and help, then what good is the church? What good are the Christians there?

  It is a lot like walking into the emergency room at a hospital, and not being able to tell anyone what is wrong with you, because you're afraid the doctors and nurses would run off and leave you to fix yourself. And if hospitals were like churches, that would sadly happen to a lot of people. "Sorry, we don't treat people with THAT disease." "Eww, gross! Get out of here. I don't want what you have!"

  It sounds ridiculous to imagine a hospital doing that. If they did, they'd face lawsuits and the state would shut them down faster than you could blink.

  And yet it is only temporary. They can help a lot of people, fix many, and in the end we are all going to die anyway, but it is still important to give people the help and healing they need when they come to a hospital for help.

  But how much more important are people's souls? How much more important is it that people get spiritual  healing and salvation? It is way more important. So why do we make it so difficult for people to get help at church? If churches were hospitals, most of them would have been sued and shut down years ago for not caring for people well enough, for discouraging some in getting true help and healing.

  If churches were hospitals, we could all come forward and not generalize, but be specific, and say what we need help with and prayer for. We wouldn't have to hide in silence. When the preacher mentioned THAT, we wouldn't feel our face flush and worry someone might realize we deal with it. We wouldn't care, because the people would be there to help us no matter what our problem was, because that is what they are there for.


 
  And that is what our Christian brothers and sisters should be there for. Church isn't just for going and getting our spiritual buzz or warm fuzzies along with a feel good sermon. It is more than a building where we go to worship and then go back to our lives we live outside of the walls of the church. Church is a community of believers, brothers and sisters. And brothers and sisters are there for you all of the time, not just for a couple of hours on Sunday. They love you no matter what, and help bear your burdens. The family of God.

  I am thankful for those who know my deep, dark secret, and don't wear rubber gloves or carry Lysol and sanitize wipes when they are around me, or totally avoid me. But how awesome would it be if years ago I could have asked for prayer in church and named it out. What if I hadn't had to hide it all of these years, but could have been open about my struggles?

 It has become more and more obvious to me lately that it is easier to fight some battles and struggles the more open we can be about it. Sin relishes the dark and likes to stay hidden. Bring things to the light, and it is easier to get victory over them. Maybe that is part of the devil's plan. Make church people really judgmental and hateful towards some sins so people in their own midst are afraid to admit to struggling with it, thus making it more difficult to get help and victory.

  If all churches were like a good hospital, imagine what would happen to the people who feel they have to hide and never get true help and healing at church. They could boldly come forward and say what they are there for, and not receive judgment, fear, or avoidance, but instead receive love, support, help, prayer, discipleship, and true healing. Its what the church should be all about. Sad that a hospital does for the body what the church doesn't do for the soul.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Everybody talkin' 'bout Heaven ain't going there

 
A few years ago, a book came out that caused shock waves across Christianity. "Love Wins" by Rob Bell. From what I understand of the book, he basically wrote a book saying what universalism has been saying for years: that everyone will ultimately have the chance for reconciliation with God in Heaven. That no one will go to hell. God is too loving of a God to send people to hell. Any Christian worth his salt knows that isn't the case. Jesus Himself warned of hell and told stories about people going there. But yet, it seems to me there is a subtle idea creeping into most Christians and churches that no one goes to hell anymore.

   Everyone is a Christian. People can do every sin in the book, and it is "judging" to dare infer the person isn't a Christian. A politician can do all he or she can do to further the cause of murdering babies and furthering gay marriage and other immorality, but as long as they go to church and throw out a Bible verse, millions of gullible people accept them as a Christian.

  And when someone dies, they are always " in a better place." It doesn't matter how they lived, when they die, they are in a better place.

  I remember years ago when the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster happened. Ronald Regan was president, and he made a statement that was awesome and almost chill-causing. I have heard it many times on Kenny G's Christmas CD that has that and many other memorable events from the past: "We will never forget them, not the last time we saw them this morning as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God,"  Many times that I have heard that recording, the thought has come to my mind: "But what if they weren't Christians?" 




  Seven people died that day. Maybe, just maybe, they were all Christians and were serving God. The odds are better though that most of them were not. Sure, if they knew something was going wrong they could have repented before they were blown to bits, but the odds are that not all seven, or even the majority, "touched the face of God". Some of them most likely touched another place.

  Robin Williams died yesterday. From all evidence and accounts, it was by his own hand. Sad. And the majority of people have him in Heaven. I saw many comments on Facebook and other media that "he is in a better place." And many "R.I.P." (rest in peace). This may sound harsh and crass, but if Robin Williams didn't know Jesus as His personal Lord and Savior, he is NOT in a better place, nor is he resting in peace.




  I know he was a nice guy. He made people laugh, and did some good things. I watched some of his movies, and he was a great actor. But.... he was an alcoholic and a drug addict. He did the one thing man should leave up to God: took his own life. It isn't up to us when we die, it is up to God. And if he was a Christian, then why turn to alcohol and drugs instead of God? Why take his own life if He knew Jesus?

  Yeah, he struggled with depression. So do a lot of people, including myself. I never killed myself (obviously) and have no plans on doing so. It is stupid and selfish, for one thing, and I am not sure Heaven is waiting for everyone who kills themselves. I didn't say anyone, but everyone. God knows people's mental states, and He is the One who decides it, but adding up the facts, there is a good chance Robin Williams is not resting in peace or in a better place. And I fear putting all people in Heaven who commit suicide may encourage others to do so, or at the least, not discourage them from doing it.

  Am I judging? No, and maybe. From what I know of him, his career and the life he lived, it doesn't sound like he was a Christian. I know... horrors. I am judging him. But a real Christian is known. No one has to wonder. A real Christian doesn't appear in some kinds of movies, use some kinds of language, does drugs.......

  And yes, he could have repented as the last bits of breath were leaving his body....... we will never know on this earth. And I am only trying to make the point that even a lot of Christians just put everyone in Heaven when they die, no matter how they lived. 

  Heaven is real - and isn't just the title of a book and movie - but so is hell. And this isn't a popular idea anymore, but people still go there, no matter what Rob Bell says. If a person is not a Christian when he or she dies, they will not go to Heaven, but hell. 

  I know. We don't want to make people feel bad, and we don't like feeling so bad when someone dies, so we sugarcoat it and say things like "he is in a better place." "She won't have any pain now." And other such statements that are true if the person knew Jesus, but not true if they didn't.

  Nice people will miss Heaven. Good people will miss Heaven. Funny people will miss Heaven. 

  I never liked Elvis Presley's singing. In fact, "not like" is a pretty mild way of putting it. I learned long ago that you don't dare suggest he missed Heaven. Drugs, sex - it doesn't matter. He had a Bible in his hand when he died, so he made it to Heaven. Besides, he sung Christian songs too! There are people who will go off on you more if you suggest Elvis missed Heaven, than if you said there isn't even a God or Heaven. And some of those people are Christians. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but again...... the people who practically worship him feel better if they think he is in Heaven, so that is where people have put him for years, and don't you dare suggest otherwise........




   There was an actor who met a tragic death in November of last year. Paul Walker. He wasn't an actor I was very familiar with. One reason being, he was in a lot of movies I didn't feel were appropriate to watch. And yet, after his death people were going on about what a wonderful Christian he was. But was he? Would he have appeared in the movies he was in if he truly knew Jesus? Would he have uttered the curse words he did in those movies if he truly were a Christian? Would it not have come out more that he was a Christian, if he was? Would he have been loved and adored so much if he had been a true Christian?

  Maybe we every day Christians have gotten so far away from what being a true Christian is, that we just accept everyone as a Christian, no matter what kind of life they are leading, if they say they are one. Maybe we have made the lines between the world and being a Christian so faint, that we can't tell who are Christians and who aren't anymore.

 But the truth remains: Not everyone is a Christian. In fact, Christians are in the minority. That means there are more people dying and going to hell, than to Heaven. Very sad, but also very true.

  And it doesn't matter who it is, how good or funny they were, how much good they did..... if when they die, they do not know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, they will go to hell, not Heaven. Whether your name is Robin Williams, Elvis Presley, or Mother Theresa, it all depends on your relationship or lack of relationship with Jesus.

  Now maybe Robin Williams, Elvis, and Paul Walker were Christians who truly knew Jesus as their Savior, and are now in Heaven. And maybe they weren't. But we can't just put people in Heaven so we can feel a bit better about their death.

Questions and thoughts on make-up from a man's perspective


This is one of those posts that could anger a large segment of women who run across this blog post, so if you are female and wear make-up, and can't handle some honest questions and thoughts about it, don't read any further. But if you can handle some questions and comments about it, and still like me, read on.

  I have had this on my mind for a long time, but a couple of comments from 2 female friends of mine who don't wear make-up helped prompt this blog post. One comment was made via Facebook chat from a single friend of mine about a blog post I did where I addressed make-up: Society bombards women as u know with the constant message that they are not attractive enough blah blah. It's very hard"

And today, another friend said this on Facebook : "Some one was at my house today and mentioned make up I told her I don't wear any. She actually seemed to feel bad for me that I didn't take time for me. I don't need that stuff to be happy"

  I am a man, so sure, I may not get it. Also, I was raised in a church where women didn't wear make-up, with the exception of that cover up stuff to cover a blemish once in a while, so these questions might not arise from a woman:

1) Why do women need make-up? Isn't the face God gave you good enough that you have to improve on His creation?


2) Why do women "need" make-up, but men don't? Yeah, I know some "men" wear it, but really and honestly - why do women need make-up to look better, but men don't? Did God make us look good enough that we don't need to put junk on our faces to look better? So you're a bit pale....... what about the guys who are a bit pale?  (And yes, that was a tad sarcastic, but also serious)

3) Jezebel was the only person in the Bible that reference is made to putting make-up on. Just saying.....

4) Is not the whole make-up industry, whether it be Mary Kay or Avon, built on tearing women down and making them feel inferior and plain unless they buy their products?




5) Why do women want other colors on their fingernails? It isn't natural.... and why red of all colors? Red fingernails seriously creep me out. No joke.

6) If a lot of women suddenly quit wearing make-up and went to their natural hair color, their family probably wouldn't recognize them.

7) Dear Mary Kay: Who really wants a pink car anyway?!




8) The one I really don't get is eye shadow. It makes women look like raccoons, and why does anyone want their eyelids a different color than the color of their skin? Why not put it on your ears and forehead too? 

9) Some women wear enough paint to paint a battleship, and enough powder to blow it up (quip I heard years ago)

10) Who needs redder lips? And it looks gross to see lipstick on coffee mugs.....I don't need redder lips, why does a woman? And not to speak of other colors....yuk!

11) There is only one kind of person who should wear make-up, and I have seen many women who looked a lot like them, though I am sure that was not their intention.........




12) Who told you that you weren't pretty enough without that gunk on your face, and why did you believe them?

13) And who told you that you look prettier with gunk on your face, and why did you believe them?

14) Yeah, we use deodorant to cover up, but body odor is different than a face. No one wants to be around you if you stink

15) Mascara.....makes your eyelashes look like spiders. Kind of creepy if you ask me. (And no, no one did)..... if God wanted your eyes to stand out, He'd have put them on the top of your head like on a fly

16) No amount of polish on your toes are going to make toes attractive. They are toes. Not your best feature

17) Fake eyebrows... can anyone say "ewww, gross!"

18) Do younger women really wear it to look older, and older women to look younger?

19) Really, who wants pink cheeks? Other than a pig. They look cute with pink cheeks.




   Seriously, I don't get why women need to feel they have to buy fingernail polish, foundation (whatever that is), blush, lip stick, eye liner, mascara - or are those the same thing? - eye shadow, and the list goes on. Products that basically turn a real woman into a fake woman: fake fingernail color, fake eyelid color, fake lip color, fake eyebrows...... do women really need all that? Didn't God do a good enough job on your face?

  It is sad that there is such a huge industry based on a lie, and on using women's self esteem and self image to sell them products that they don't need, and that most of the time really don't make them prettier than they already do.

  Yeah, I know. I am a man. What do I know. Now excuse me while I go make some improvements to the mug God gave me. After all, why should women be the only ones to do it......





Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Waiting


I don't like to wait. Let me rephrase that. I HATE to wait. And yet I do so much of it.

I wait at red lights
I wait in line at stores and restaurants
I wait for the preacher to finish his message so I can go home and eat
I wait for lunch and supper to be ready
I wait for someone at work to relieve me so I can take my lunch break

   And I work in an emergency waiting room, and it is obvious that I am not alone in hating to wait. People will often ask me how busy we are before they even sign in (one sign it is NOT an emergency, if they can put it off til another day). As soon as people sign in, they ask how many people are ahead of them. If we are busy and have a full waiting room, people come up and ask how much longer it will be. Hello! It is a WAITING room!

   And we have all sorts of things to help us not wait, or at least not wait so long:

Microwave ovens to cook or heat our food gaster
Fast food restaurants, so we can get our food faster
Drive through windows to get serviced faster
Minute rice, so we can have rice faster.....
Self-checkout lanes so don't have to wait in long lines



   I firmly believe the majority of Christians today, myself included, do not have the spiritual depth and maturity of Christians in the past. I believe there are multiple reasons. We have watered down the Gospel, we create our own Gospel and reason around the Bible and make it fit our lifestyles, instead of using it as a guidebook on how we live. We are too busy, too wrapped up in entertainment. The list could go on and on, but I think a big one to add is we don't want to wait on God Himself. We are so into this not waiting, that we can't wait for the very God of the universe.

  Psalm 37:7 is just one of several verses that talks about waiting on God:
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.(NKJV)


   I have a hard time waiting on God. When I am praying, I do too much of the talking, and it is hard for me to shut up and wait for Him to speak to me. I am too geared for not waiting, so I keep talking and God waits for me to be silent. And I rarely am.

 And it doesn't stop there. I have prayed and prayed for things to happen, and it doesn't take me long to give up on the answer. I, and many others, want a drive through God. Just pull up to the window, order one answered prayer to go, and be on our way. But it rarely works that way. Most of the time it doesn't. That answer to prayer might take weeks, months, years...... even a lifetime.




  So many of us walk away muttering "I knew He wouldn't answer it", or "He just doesn't care about my problems." But He does. His timing is rarely our timing, and maybe He just wants us to do that dreaded word: wait. Maybe some of our unanswered prayers are just cases of us not being willing to wait, and we gave up on the answer. Maybe.

  Not everyone who comes into the hospital waiting room minds waiting. Some people sit there very patiently, waiting to be seen. And some sit there and wait on their relative who is being seen. And some of them decline to go back to the patient's room, and just sit there, and wait. 

  Life today is fast-paced. We are busy, and that plays a large part into why we don't want to wait. That, and we are impatient. But God doesn't change to fit our fast paced lives. Just as countless Christians down through the centuries have waited on Him, He expects the same from us. And really, if we are honest, if we can't wait on Him, we are telling Him we don't have time for Him.

  Waiting isn't fun, but often it is followed by something good and worth waiting for:

Wait until marriage for sex, and have a more fulfilled marriage and sex life.

Wait for supper, and enjoy a wonderful meal.
Wait until you have money for that item you want so badly, and enjoy it without credit card bills and interest

Wait on God, and the possibilities are endless.




   

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gay argument #1: Jesus never mentioned homosexuality

Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, so it isn't wrong.

   This is a popular one, and is used a lot to argue that you can be Christian and gay. It isn't well thought out though, and here are a few reasons why it can be tossed out the window:

1) The whole Bible is God's Word, not just what Jesus said. There's that verse about all Scripture given by inspiration of God..... and there are several verses in the New Testament alone that says it is wrong, so you can't ignore the rest of the Bible and just live your life by what is in the four Gospels.

2) There are other things Jesus didn't mention, but we know are wrong. Bestiality, incest, drugs, listening to Justin Bieber........ so to say something is OK because He didn't name it out, is an empty and foolish argument to make.

3) In Matthew 19, Jesus said  “he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Matt 19:4-5)" No, He doesn't specifically mention homosexuality or gay marriage, but it sure sounds like He singled out marriage as between a man and a woman.

Gay arguments: what does gay mean?


There is a big move on in this country to normalize homosexuality and if you disagree, you will face nasty name-calling, and in some instances, persecution. As with any other sin,  many churches are accepting it and letting people claim to be Christians while living in sin as a gay person. Some are even letting openly gay people be in the clergy.

  And they have their arguments that they use to try to prove God is OK with them living that way. That He is OK with them deciding their sexuality is more important to them than obeying what God says about it. So they reason and argue and come up reasons the Bible does not really mean homosexuality is wrong today.

  I don't claim to be all-wise, or even that smart, but I have run across these arguments and have argued against them with people. I decided to dedicate a few blog posts to combating these pro-gay arguments. I am sure others could do better and  say more, but I shall give it my best shot.

  And let me say the church does need to do more to reach gay people, and especially those in their midst who are afraid to tell anyone what they are struggling with. Compassion, love,  and understanding is needed, but not acceptance and letting people believe a lie. I am convinced there will be people who will miss Heaven because of this issue, and there will be people they will hate at the judgement because here on earth they patted them on the shoulder and told them they were OK the way they were. They aren't. Anyone living in sin contrary to God's Word is not OK.

And maybe I should define what I mean by gay. The most used meaning of it in the world is a person attracted to the same gender and has sex or a sexual relationship with the same gender. The latter part is what the Bible says is wrong. Being attracted to people of the same gender isn't wrong, no more wrong than being attracted to the opposite sex. Both have to battle lust and not go past noticing someone is attractive. Granted, heterosexuals can marry the object of their attraction while it is never OK with God for people to marry the same gender they are attracted to.

  A common misconception among Christians, is that if someone is attracted to the same sex, they are sinning. Not so.

  I actually break gay people into 3 categories, though someone else might do it differently:

1) The out and proud, the ones who march in parades, sue bakeries and photographers, and try to force everyone to not just tolerate them and their sin, but totally accept it and accept their demands.

2) Those who are gay and live it out quietly. Some may not want people to know, some may not care. They just want left alone and to stay out of the spotlight and to have sex and/or a relationship with others of the same sex.



3) The struggler. He or she is attracted to the same sex, and know homosexuality is wrong. They are everywhere. You work with them, worship with them. They are your sons and daughters, your mother and dad. your cousins, your best friends..... and many of them feel they must hide it. They are fighting a battle that is hard to fight, and all too many fight it alone, afraid to tell anyone what they are dealing with. This category is one I don't think should bear the label of "gay". Gay is an identity, and it is sad anyone wants that identity, but those who are serving God, denying their flesh, and living according to God's Word, do not deserve the label of gay. They should wear the label "Christian".

  So for the purpose of these few blogs I am going to do, gay is going to refer to people who are attracted to the same sex, and has sexual relations with the same sex.