Purpose




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





Thursday, June 22, 2017

It is a sin, for the Bible told me so

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

The real tragedy of Orlando

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The best freedom of all

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

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

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

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

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



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

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




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

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


Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Broken Ones

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The way we talk to ourselves

"Idiot"

"That was stupid"

"You're fat and ugly"

"You are such a failure"

"You're so dumb"

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


Mid-May musings

Some random stuff going through my mind

1) Thinking for ourselves

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

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

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

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


2) Weight

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


3) Lighthouses and fears

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

4) Stores and emails

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



5) Reading pile

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

6) Politics

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

7) Day off

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

8) Packing

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



7) Bloody meat

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

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

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




8) Trump and Obama

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


9) Forgiveness

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

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

10) Church bathrooms

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


11) Tyndale Publishing

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

12) Praying to saints

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



13) Graduation

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


 






Friday, May 19, 2017

Healing with teens

  I wrote this way back in August, and for some reason never published it. I have no idea why. It is "old news" at this point, but after reading over it, I hate to delete it....... so I am going to post it. Just remember this is nine months old. 

 **Disclaimer/warning: This is one of those personal blog posts that may make some people uncomfortable with the subject matter, or with knowing too much about me.......

    This is something I have discussed several times in different blog posts, but for the sake of the rest of the blog post, I need to discuss it a bit more: I was picked on and bullied a lot in school, mostly junior high through 10th grade. I attended a Christian school, and almost every boy in junior high and high school had their times of making my life miserable. My lack of interest and ability in sports made it worse, and I am convinced that a lot of what went on helped form, or at least helped to make worse,  the same-sex attractions I began experiencing at that age. I also became afraid of teenage boys. When I was at a camp or somewhere where there were other Christian boys who treated me nice and talked to me, I'd freeze up and not know how to act..... it was like a shy boy being around girls for the first time, only in my case boys were different from me and I was scared to death to be around them.

   This fear stayed with me for years. I was scared to work around or be around other guys that were adults, but teenage boys were the worst. I had a delivery job for a couple of years, and I had to deliver to schools occasionally..... and as ridiculous as it sounds, that was a big deal for me to walk into schools that had junior high and high school boys. Everything would come rushing back, and I had the fear of being made fun of and bullied as an adult by teenage boys.

  As the years went by, it lessened some and wasn't something I thought about  a lot. I had a lot of teens around church who seemed to be OK with me, and I would only feel uncomfortable and leery of boys I didn't know or felt inferior to...... but it was always there beneath the surface.



  And then this past week-end happened. I went to spend Saturday night through Sunday afternoon at a church camp in PA that I went to a lot as a kid, and hadn't been to for 24 years or so. My sister and her family were singing there and I decided to surprise them.... which I was successful in doing.

  After being hugged by my nephews, I headed for the bathroom. Derek, the 17 year old son of my cousin was exiting the bathroom. He smiled and said "Hi, Mark." I replied "hi.... Derek, right?" He said yes, and that it was good to see me. I had only met this kid once, 5 years ago. He, his older brother, and his dad (my cousin) had come to my parents' to trim a tree for them..... the tree that later fell on the house in a storm. It made me feel good that he remembered me.

  As I ate supper, my sister pointed out and introduced me to 4 of Derek's siblings I had never met..... his parents had adopted 4 kids, all siblings, 9 years ago and I met them for the first time as I ate supper in the camp's dining hall., Kyle, Kaylee, and 2 younger girls whose names escape me.

   After supper as I walked past the screened windows where kids were washing dishes to pay for their stay, 13 year old Kyle said hi through the screen, then turned to the other kids and said "that's my cousin Mark, who I just met." I smiled and said I'd see him later.

  Before the evening service. I walked up to use the bathroom and found it overrun by pre-teen and teenage boys. There are two showers, enclosed with two wooden doors with a about a foot opening beneath, and a lot of room to change clothes inside. "hey Uncle Mark, Derek wants to hear one of your jokes", my oldest nephew said. Derek was changing in the one shower, and the other was occupied by my youngest nephew. I laughed and said I'd try to think of one. I leaned against the sink and chatted with these guys and finally came up with a couple. My "new" cousin Kyle was doubled over laughing, and instantly became my biggest joke fan, but I got several laughs. I exited the bathroom and headed for my room, only to be chased down by Kyle and an older boy I didn't know. "He has something to tell you." That something was a joke, though a corny one. I groaned and laughed, and went to my room.

  Throughout the evening and the next day, these kids would come up wanting a joke, some would stop and chat with me, one hit me lightly on the shoulder in passing and said hi. After I ate my last meal of camp, lunch, on a whim I went behind the counter, grabbed a dry dish towel, and started drying dishes as they were pulled out of the rinse bin. The kids were surprised, but immediately started joking with me, asking for jokes, and telling me jokes. It was a lot more fun than back when I used to do it as a teen.

  I said my good-byes after the afternoon service, and headed for home. As I drove, the thought hit me......those kids actually seemed to like me, and I felt completely comfortable with them. I had no fears of them making fun of me or bullying me....... and sure, I have matured a lot and am a lot older now, but that was a fear I never thought I'd lose...... and I am not sure when and where it left, but it seemed to have given up its last vestige of power over me on the grounds of a camp ground where it used to flourish.

The greatest gift

**This is a blog post I did 7 years ago on my other blog when it was more than book reviews. A lot has changed since then about my beliefs in God's love and my state of mind, but I thought I'd re-post it here.

   There are some words and phrases in the English language that are sweeter than others. "I love you" are probably the best to hear. Another that is a biggie is "I'm praying for you".

Prayer has been on my mind a lot today. I was thinking about songs about prayer - pulled the word up on my Itunes and found that I have 58 songs with "pray" in the title. "What If His People Prayed" by Casting Crowns, "Take It To God In Prayer", by the Hoppers. There are two that have been on my mind the most. The first is  "Mention My Name" by The Hoppers - a Southern Gospel group, for those uninformed about Southern Gospel...... :-)

"Would you mention my name every day, when you pray
Would you mention my name when you pray
Would you stand with me, when your'e down on your knees
When your'e talking to Jesus, would you mention me?"

The other song has been on my mind even more is one titled "Somebody's Praying Me Through" by Allen Asbury - a really awesome song, for not being Southern Gospel. :-)


SOMEBODY’S PRAYING ME THROUGH

Pressing over me like a big blue sky
I know someone has me on their heart tonight
That's why I know it's gonna be alright
'Cause somebody's praying me through
Somebody's praying me through


It may be my Mother, it might be my Dad
Or an old friend I've forgot I had
But whoever it is I'm so glad that
Somebody's praying me through
Somebody's praying me through


Through the tears, through the rain
Through the sorrow, through the pain
It keeps bringing me through
Over and over again


So when you're drowning in a sea of hurt
And it feels like life couldn't get any worse
There's a blessing waiting to push back the curse
'Cause, somebody's praying you through.






  Anyone who regularly subjects them self to reading my blog is probably aware of the fact that not only have I really been struggling with believing God loves me and that I matter to Him, I have also had a lot of doubts and struggles in general lately. For weeks, it has seemed that my prayers have hit the ceiling and fell back to the floor with a thud, and just lie there, seemingly unnoticed by God. Woven in with it has been severe discouragement and depression, so bad that most of the time I walk around with an ache in mu chest and a feeling of impending doom and hopelessness.

I know of a few people who have been praying for me, and most likely some I don't know of. I can only give prayer the credit. This week I have been feeling a sense of hope, and last night I was able to pray like I haven't in ages. I woke this morning not dreading the coming day for a change, and had a really good day. Work didn't even go that great today - for anyone, not just me, and it didn't faze me.

  I am positive that the prayers of others is what helped me get to where I am right now - well not physically - I am in my computer chair- well Mom and Dad's (side note: if anyone has a computer chair they want rid of, I broke mine........).

  It makes me wonder if we truly realize what we have at our disposal with the tool of prayer. And do we really do enough of it? Oh sure, most of us remember to pray for our needs and wants, but what if we really and truly prayed for the needs of others. I could be wrong, but could it be that God leans more toward answering prayers that are made on behalf of others more than prayers for ourselves? If you look at motive, I may have something there. If I am praying for the needs of a Christian brother, my motives are completely selfless, whereas all too often, my own comfort is in mind when I pray for mine - spiritual needs being the exception, of course.





   I read a neat story a while back. A young lady was bemoaning the fact to her pastor that she didn't feel her life was touching anyone for Christ, that she was useless. In the course of the conversation the subject of her prayer life came up, and she said she took the newspaper with her to pray. The pastor was astounded and asked why. She replied that she would open to the obituaries, and pray for the friends and relatives of each deceased person listed there. Then she would open to the weddings and pray for the couples just married, then on to the births. The preacher pointed out to her that she had quite a ministry of prayer going on and only God knew what her prayers had brought forth.

  We don't have to take the newspaper with us when we pray, but I believe God is pleased when we focus on others in prayer. We should pray for not just our family, but all of those in our Christian family. A simple "I'm Praying For You" can be one of the greatest gifts that we can give to someone.

  If, every time someone came to mind, we said a prayer for that person, only eternity would reveal what our prayers have done - and I am not saying the power lies in us. The power lies in God answering, but I believe God is moved to action by our prayers.

  Often we have no idea who needs prayer. I am afraid in too many of our churches we have this idea that we need to keep our mask in place so that no one will know we are hurting and struggling and might possibly think less of us. So we cover our hurts and struggles when by admitting, we could receive prayer, encouragement, and help.

  I'm sure I am not out of the woods yet. Whether we fall from grace completely, or become so discouraged that we are of no threat to Satan, he will fight when we get back on our feet, so I'd appreciate any prayers sent my way, and in return, I will do my best to pray for others when I know they need it, or when God brings them to our minds. Who knows, by praying for someone God brings to our minds, we just may be doing what the song says.....praying somebody through, and giving them the best possible gift we have at our disposal. Prayer.


Captain America, Joshua, and me

Another post I wrote a while back and never published, so here it is:   

I have a confession. I love superheroes. I love superhero movies: Captain America, Superman, Batman...and the list goes on.

  On a recent trip to Walmart, I noticed an large long pillow with Captain America on...... and I wanted it. I talked myself out of it, telling myself I was too old for that; plus it would get in the way. I was shopping there again later, and saw some really cool Captain America figures in the toy department..... and I wanted one. Again, I talked myself out of it for the same reasons. And then I saw them: t-shirts.....Captain America t-shirts for $7.50. ADULT Captain America t-shirts. I didn't even try to talk myself out of that one, and in the cart when one in my size.

  My attempts to be careful with what kind of movies I watch does stop me from viewing a lot of movies out there where good triumphs over evil, something I think is a major drawing point in superhero movies. I love to see the bad guy get taken down by the hero, and if no one is around I often cheer or clap my hands.

 Yeah, I know it is just a movie.....and I do the same thing in books. There is just something about it when someone triumphs over evil and the bad guy and comes out on top.

  The Bible is full of similar kinds of stories: Joshua and Jericho, Elisha getting the best of Ahab and Jezebel, Samson taking out Philistines, Jesus conquering sin, death, and the devil. It seems God has put something in us that we want to see good win, injustices made right, our team to win....

    What if we approached life like that, especially living the Christian life? What if instead of fearing temptation and trials, we welcomed it with the heart of a hero or warrior? Captain America or Superman taking out a bad guy is nothing compared to saying no to temptation and living a life that pleases God.

  Life scares the daylights out of me at times. I get discouraged and depressed, and weary of fighting the battle. And yet, I love to see these made up superheroes conquer evil and come out the winner.....

  These superheroes have flaws and are not invincible. Superman has his kryptonite, and all of the other superheroes have their weaknesses; but the God we serve has none. We do, but He can get us through whatever comes our way.

That time I didn't tip the waitress

 
The nice thing about having your own blog, is you can blog about whatever you want. Everyone may not like a post, and a post may not get many people reading it....but you still have the freedom to blog about whatever you want. Except criticisms of Donald Trump. Just kidding. Kind of.

  Last year, most of my family went to the Outer Banks for vacation. My youngest sister and her family couldn't go, so it was eight of us instead of thirteen. One of the highlights for me was a day we drove up to Nag's Head to do some shopping and sight-seeing. And one of the highlights of that day was eating at this awesome restaurant that was right on the water. Our windows overlooked the water, and the ambiance was very nice. The food was really good too. I had some great fish and fries.

 And then the bill came. Or, as they like to call it "the check." Get real, it is a bill. Were it a check,  the restaurant would be giving ME money. As I examined it and was about to write in the tip, I saw to my surprise that it had already been taken out. This was one of those restaurants that deducted the tip for you if your party had a certain amount of guests. I was a bit annoyed, but signed my slip.



 I get why restaurants do this. They don't want their waitress to wait on a large party of people and get stiffed, or get a small tip..... but I still don't like it. Here is why I think it is a bad idea:

1) A tip is given for services provided. In this case, it was taken from me without a choice. It was basically a fee tacked onto my meal for daring to dine with seven other people.

2) In our case, the waitress received less from some of us. They charged us 18%, and my sister and I normally tip more than 18%. Had we been allowed to tip what we wanted, she would have gotten more money.

3) It is unfair to the diners if they receive bad service. You could have a terrible waitress, and she would get tipped as much if you had a great one. You should be allowed to tip according to the quality of the service. This policy takes away that right.

 I know, I know.... we could eat elsewhere. True. But I still don't like the policy.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Missing: Compassion

It seems many Christians are missing the emotion of compassion nowadays. Oh, we have it towards people we choose to, but it fizzles out in other areas.

  I can still remember sitting in a church service several years back when the speaker mentioned homosexuality. A friend of mine who had no clue I dealt with that issue, leaned up and said "they just need to hang all of those perverts." I have a devotional where the author referred to something a friend of his said. This friend said when he saw the death of a single younger man in the obituaries with no cause of death given, he figured it was from AIDS and rejoiced that another gay guy got what he deserved.

 More recently, I have heard other comments about gay men getting AIDS and deserving it, "junkies" overdosing and we are better off without them, and other similar comments......from Christians. When it comes to people we deem undesirable, we lose our compassion, and lose our aim and desire to be like Jesus.

 I worked as a greeter in the Emergency Department for over three years. In that time, I saw a lot of people come through with drug addictions. I watched families fall apart as they dealt with the death of a loved one taken too soon by their addiction. Yes, it was stupid for the person to get started on drugs, but it is still sad when anyone ruins their life and/or dies because of drugs.

 And yet many Christians call these people junkies and say we are better off when they die from their addiction.

  I believe if Jesus were here doing His earthly ministry in 2017, He would have an entirely different attitude towards those we don't deem worthy of compassion. He'd be hanging out with gay people, trying to win them to Him.....even the ones with AIDS. He'd be loving the drug addicts and offering them freedom through Him.

 He would be hanging out with the undesirable people so many Christians don't have time for. He'd be loving, showing compassion, and being a friend to the friendless. The Jesus of the Bible would never rejoice in the deaths of anyone, no matter their lifestyle or addictions.

 If we are to be like Jesus, we need to have compassion for all.

He fist-bumps me

 It has been a while since I posted an actual blog post, so here is a short one I wrote the other day: 

There's a guy at work whose name I don't even know. He works in another department....I am not even sure which one.... but often when he walks by me, he fist-bumps me. This small gesture makes me feel good. It is a sign of acceptance. This man sees me as a man, and evidently likes me as a person as well as he knows me.

  For a guy like me, this is big. For so much of my life, I felt the opposite by men. I felt different, and that other guys didn't like me nor considered me their equal.

 T hings have changed. This man who fist-bumps me is not the first guy I have felt accepted by as an adult. I have been privileged to work with guys my age and younger who like and accept me. I have been the recipient of a slight punch to the shoulder, a pat on the back, and good-natured teasing that showed I am "one of the guys".

 And the effects are life-changing. My self-confidence has grown, though it may never be what it should be. I believe it has even lessened my same-sex attractions and helped in that area more than I may realize.

 It has also made me think what I can do for other guys. You never know what a touch on the shoulder or a fist-bump can do for someone.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hell, shorts, and spiritual health

Another random blog

1) Hell

  There is a (somewhat) new belief on the horizon. It is being preached and believed by way too many people who call themselves Christian: There is no hell. Everyone will go to Heaven in the end because God loves us too much to let anyone spend an eternity in hell. There is even a name for this belief: universalism. It is espoused by such people as Rob Bell and William Paul Young, the author of the controversial book The Shack.

 It is a pretty bold - and heretical - thing to do to declare there is no hell. After all, you are daring to disagree with the God of all gods, your maker and redeemer. You are basically saying you know better than hundreds of years of theologians in addition to God Himself.

 I constantly see people sharing things by or praising men who have this very, very wrong belief. Should we as Christians have anything to do with a person or their books who have such heretical ideas and teachings......even if they are in a fiction book that makes us feel good?

Hell IS real, and many of the people claiming no one will go there, may end up there themselves.





2) Shorts

 Am I the only one to notice and wonder why this is: the average woman wears shorts showing most of her thigh and often barely covers their butt and underwear. The average man wears shorts to or below the knee. Do a bunch of perverts design women's shorts, or do women want to show more of their bodies....or both?





3) Spiritual health

  As I am having to be more careful again about what I eat due to my high sugar, the thought has hit me that we tend to worry more about our physical health than spiritual. We should be more concerned about what we are taking into our minds, ears, and eyes that are bad for us spiritually than what we are eating.



4) He who cannot be criticized

  I am still glad I voted the way I did this past election - against The Donald and Hillary. I still am disgusted my party stooped so low and exhibits such a huuuuge double standard.



5) Vacation

  The beach is only 17 days away........ but who is counting?! (We all are!)

  I may attempt a picture of the sunrise on the ocean again. A few years back, I attempted that.....and it was too cloudy. I got up early and sat on the beach for nothing. Is it worth another try?


6) Deplorables

  Do the people who proudly wear that name even know what it means?





7) Family

  My family got together last night for my mom's birthday. I am thankful we are so close and have so much fun together. There is a lot of laughing, and no bickering.....something unusual in families today.


8) ER visit

  My sugar is what turns out to be causing me my problems lately, It was high enough yesterday that I went to the Emergency Department. They gave me an IV, instructions, and a prescription for 1000 mg a day of pills. I took today off from work as I am still feeling out of it, but am planning on going tomorrow.....prayers appreciated.



Saturday, May 6, 2017

May musings

I have felt like blogging lately, but haven't had the energy...... but while I have a little bit, I am going to attempt one. It will be various topics, and that way I can stop when I feel like it :)

 And you can pick and choose which ones to read and which to pass on.......

 Also, May musings made for good alliteration.  :)

1) My health

  My depression has been better lately due to new meds, and I thought it was affecting me in some various ways. I have been majorly fatigued during the day, often afraid to drive and feeling almost unable to function. I checked my sugar today, and it was alarmingly high, and one symptom of high sugar is fatigue and difficulty sleeping.... among some other issues I am having.

 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last March, but got my weight and sugar down low enough that I got off meds for it...... but unfortunately, I didn't keep at it.

 And I am tired of napping so much, but the fatigue forces me to doing it.

2) Politics

  It has been interesting watching the political spectrum as someone who voted Independent. Obama supporters are criticizing things in Trump that Obama did, and vice versa. Are we truly bothered by things a president does wrong, or only when it is someone of the opposite party?

3) Gaither DVDs

  I have found it to be very relaxing and encouraging to watch Gaither Homecoming DVDs. I have been fortunate to find some for next to nothing recently at used stores and on eBay. There is the occasional artist and/or song I don't care for, but that is what the fast forward and skip buttons are for.





4) Makeup

  Speaking of Gaither DVDs,,,,, I just watched one where 2 sisters in a group had on purple eye shadow. How and why did painting one's eyelids become a thing? I personally think it makes women look ridiculous, and not unlike a raccoon. Why stop at the eyelids? They should do the nose too :)

And what is up with the lips.....it looks creepy. :-p

And isn't it odd that the only place make-up is mentioned in the Bible, is where it mentions Jezebel putting it on.........

If women are the fairer sex, why do they need makeup to look better, while we guys don't?





5) Birthday

  My birthday is only 20 days away, and I am not excited about turning another year older. This past year went too fast, and the guy in the mirror is getting older with not much to show for it,

6) Bread

 I love bread...... and it is something diabetics need to cut waaaaay back on. Yuk.

7) Paymore and not-the-best-buy

  It pays to shop around even for lesser purchases. I could have gotten the sandals I wanted at Payless for $29.99 on sale, and found them at Walmart for $16.72...... so much for "payless". Should be "paymore shoes".

 I have also noticed that Best Buy does not always have the "best buy". Irony, you show  yourself well in these 2 stores.

 And I really needed new sandals..... if the weather ever stays warm and dry enough to wear them.




8) Animals

  I used to be grossed out by animals in the house. I have come to realize that animals in general gross me out. Kittens and puppies are OK, but other than that...... yuk. I am definitely not an animal lover. Unless of course, it is fried chicken, stuffed turkey, bacon, etc...... :)





9) Vacation

 My entire family leaves the day after my birthday for a week at the ocean. I wish I could stay there. I am looking forward to it, and looking forward to  the hot tub, swimming pool, and every bedroom having its own bathroom..... yeah!

 One thing we are doing different this year is touring the Coast Guard Station there. I have never toured one, and am looking forward to it.



10) Humor

  A lot of people tease me about my jokes being lame/dumb, but I am thankful for the sense of humor I have, Not discounting God, but I don't know where I'd be if I didn't have my sense of humor. I thank God for it, even if no one else does. :)

11) House

 I still haven't found a house. My broker occasionally sends me one to check out, but I have seen nothing I like lately. It is discouraging.

12) At least it isn't snow

 I don't think the majority of us are thankful enough. I have thought to myself "at least it isn't snow" a lot this past week. It has rained and rained, and been cooler than I prefer, but I have consoled myself with that thought that at least it isn't snow.

 But what if we applied  that kind of thinking to other things in life? When something bad happens, what if we think "at least it isn't _____"?




13) Work

  I am still not happy with my job, and don't know what to do about it. I need it, and I need the health  insurance it provides. I have a hard time standing for 10 hours, there is too much pressure to always be on a "high", and there are a few other issues.

14) Piano

  I have not been playing the piano as much lately as I would like, mostly due to this fatigue affecting all I do..... but I did try to play the Point of Grace song "Jesus Will Still Be There" unsuccessfully. For some songs, I  need the music as some are too difficult to pick out by ear.



15) Funniest music moment

  I was reminded recently of my funniest gaffe when playing in church. I had recently learned to play the organ, as all our organ players had left in a church split. My Sunday School teacher and I both taught ourselves to play it, not a difficult task if you play the piano.

 Her mother-in-law had died and I was asked to play the organ for the funeral service. I tended to play loud and fast, so I was doing my best to play softly and slowly. And then it happened: the pastor led the congregation in My Jesus, I Love Thee. I was playing too softly, and he led in a different key than I was playing. It sounded horrible, and the deceased family was about in tears from trying not to laugh.

 That was my one and only time to play for a funeral, but I did learn something. :)



  And that is all for now



Friday, April 28, 2017

Never un-friended

  Social media is a great thing, but not everything is great. We act in ways online that most of us would not act off line with people. One such way is un-friending. That wasn't even a word until Facebook came along. And it is something we do too easily. Can you imagine Jesus doing that if He had a Facebook page?

"Criticized Trump too much, Un-friend!" (That has happened to me)

"Criticized Obama too much. Un-friend!" (That has also happened to me)

"Posted too much about homosexuality." Un-friend! (That happened too....)

"Didn't 'like' my cat pictures." Un-friend! (I don't think that has happened)

"You post too often. Un-friend!" (That has happened)

  And can you imagine doing that off-line. Picture someone walking up to you and saying "Hey John, I don't like you questioning my voting decision and criticizing  the person I voted for. You are no longer my friend!"

 The idea of any normal person, much less a Christian, going up to someone and telling them they are no longer their friend for the reasons we do it online......is just ludicrous. So why is it OK online?

 I have un-friended people, and wonder sometimes if I should. Some cases are more extreme though, so should we un-friend or not?



Exhibit A:

  "Ron" added me as a friend last year. He is a young guy raised like me, and not living for God. He posted a lot of profanity, and went on a profanity laced rant after I posted something against marijuana.....which he obviously uses. I removed him.

Exhibit B:

"Jon" was a friend since Bible college. We never hung out, but got along and I enjoyed talking to him when I ran onto him.

 During the election, I re-tweeted a Twitter comment from the guy I ended up voting for, Evan McMullen (Independent). "Jon" replied and said if I wasn't for Trump, I was for Hillary and was for killing babies. I saw red and was also hurt. "Jon" knows good and well that I am pro-life, and was just insulting me because I wouldn't vote like him. I removed him and his wife.

Exhibit C:

   I deal with same-sex attractions and am involved in a ministry for people with unwanted same-sex attractions. A lot of men and women also using the ministry or who are active leaders have added me as a friend. I never had trouble until a few weeks ago. "Bob" had added me and had not interacted much with me. He had messaged me how much a blog post had encouraged him that I had written, and had "liked" some of my Facebook posts.

 This night, I was up late since I didn't have to work the next day. He messaged me and said he was struggling that day to feel masculine. I replied back that I have days like that. He then replied with a graphic description of what makes him feel masculine. I deflected and made an innocent comeback. He pursued with the sexual comments, so I told him good night and logged off.

 The next morning, I felt it best to remove him from my friends list, but he had already done so and blocked me. Ironic when he was the one in the wrong, but oh well.


Exhibit D:

  On a couple of occasions, I have gone through my Facebook friends. If I know a person has not interacted with me for several months, they go.

  I am not saying if I was right or wrong in any of these cases, but I would ask what would Jesus do in the cases where I was un-friended and when I did the un-friending. If Jesus used social media, would He ever un-friend someone? I cannot imagine that He would. This is the Jesus who promised to be with us through eternity. This is the Jesus who said nothing can separate us from His love. If that is true, than no Facebook post could ever cause Him to hit that "Unfriend" or "Block" button.

 And if we are to be like Jesus, should we do that? I really don't know. I don't want to be Facebook friends with people who use profanity, accuse me of something they know is untrue, or is just a plain jerk to me......yet Jesus takes far more than that......and Christians in other countries take a lot worse than that.

 This Jesus who we serve will never unfriend or block us. No matter what we do, He will never walk away. I believe we can walk away from Him, but He will never, ever desert us, or walk away. Others will. People from our own church and family may unfriend us online or off-line, but Jesus will never do such a thing.


 And by the way, it is a little nicer to use the "un-follow" feature. The other person never knows. Of course Jesus wouldn't do that either........





 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Voiceless

  What would you do if an abortion clinic was across the street from your church? What would your church do?

  Last night, I watched a great movie called Voiceless. That is exactly what happened in the movie. Jesse Dean is a former military man discharged because of injuries sustained in action. He is the new outreach minister of a church that has an abortion clinic across the street. Day after day, he watches women go in and out of the building. He tries to talk some out of it, and feels the loss when one young girl kills herself after having her baby killed.

 He wants to do more, but the church is apathetic. They don't want to get "political". They pray about it, and feel that is all they need to do. But Jesse wants to do more. He needs to do more. I won't give any spoilers away, but he has a few brushes with the police as he does what he feels God is calling him to to: minister to women intent on killing their babies, and try to save lives.

 The man in the White House just launched some rockets at Syria because their  lunatic leader has been using chemical weapons on his own people. I don't know if it was the right thing to do or not. I do know Mr, Trump violated laws by doing this without Congressional approval. That issue aside, should we attack another country for such a thing?



 On a daily basis, we are murdering innocent babies with chemicals and other cruel methods. If we have the right to attack another country because their leader is committing atrocities on his people. does that mean another country has the right to attack America for the atrocities we are daily committing in the name of women's health, choice, and other cutesy words we use instead of butchering and murder?

 "But it is different. The Syrians being killed are out of the womb." Really? Why is it different? It is only different because we have gotten apathetic about the murders sanctioned and funded by our government. Is it because we can't see what these babies are going through as they are burnt with chemicals or torn apart by a butcher masquerading as a doctor?

 What if when we Americans stand before God, He asks us why we let it go on? What would we say? "I didn't want to get political." "It was legal, what could I do?"




 I have heard professing Christians protest making abortion legal, "because women will go to back alleys and do it with a coat hanger. At least it is safer this way." Safe for whom? Not  the baby. It is safer for the person ordering the murder. Why are we so concerned about making it as safe as possible for someone to commit a murder?

 I have felt for a long time that we aren't doing enough to stop this atrocity. I find myself wishing I could do more, but wishing doesn't really do anything. Sure, I vote for pro-life politicians. In fact, one of the many reasons I did not vote for Trump was his praise of Planned Parenthood.

 But that isn't enough.

 If we had buildings all across America where toddlers and small children were taken and cruelly murdered, would we stand idly by? I can't imagine we would. We would want whatever necessary done to stop it.

 If someone is killed trying to harm or kill a small child, or even an adult, we feel justice was served and they deserved what they got. Yet, we are so worried that a mother killing her baby can go about it as safely as possible.

 I heard a pastor say this in a sermon once: "If the blood of Abel's blood cried out to God from the ground, what must He be hearing from all of the babies we have killed here in America?" How long will God put up with it? Are we a truly Christian nation when we sit idly by and don't do anything to stop this American Holocaust?




 We (well, Trump) just launched rockets at Syria because of the atrocities being done there. What are we going to do about our own? We can't even get a Republican Congress and  the "Republican" Trump to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Even a lot of conservatives and Christians don't really think Roe vs Wade should be overturned. But why not?

 Really, what kind of people we are, what kind of Christians are we to stick our heads in the sand when it comes to this issue? And what kind of people are we that we have become so comfortable and apathetic about babies being ripped a part in the womb? It should worry us if we don't view the killing of babies in the womb as bad as the killing of people outside of the womb.

 Do we have any right to wonder why Christians didn't rise up against slavery, when we let this go on? Do we have any right to wonder how Hitler exterminated and treated the Jews so horribly when we sit by and let it happen to the most innocent of humankind? Do we have any moral right to go after Syria for what their leader has done while we have our baby butchering and killing legal and funded by our government?




 I'm no expert on these issues, but here are some reasons we don't do more, or anything:

1) We have gotten used to the murder of babies.

2) It's legal, so many people feel it should just be left alone.

3) We don't care enough.

4) We don't want to take the time or effort to do anything about it.

5) Some of us feel it is better women go to an abortion clinic than a back alley.

6) Many feel it is a political issue.

7) We just try not to think about it.

  There may be other reasons, but it doesn't really matter. When we stand before God, if He should ask us what we did to stop the slaughter of innocent lives, what will we say? If He asks us why we didn't do anything, what will we say?

 And who is to say He won't ask that?