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

Saturday, September 28, 2019

September stuff take 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Old and new

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

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

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

 Yet not all hymns are great, or even good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) God sent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) You Are Loved

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

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

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

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

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

What The World Needs to Hear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Are Loved

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

God's love for you is strong and everlasting

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

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

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

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

4) Something needs to change

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) Tattoos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6) The bedroom

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

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

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

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

7) Walking

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

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

8) Red flag laws

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

 Let's recap:

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

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

3) Banned bump stocks

4) Wants to ban silencers

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

6) Wants red flag laws

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9) The Bible: supporting your agenda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Warning, heavy sarcasm ahead!

10) I wish I drove a semi or motorcycle 

 I assume you read the warning....

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

 If only I was perfect like them.....

 OK, got that out of my system!

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

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

Commands/teachings like these:

Blessed are the peacekeepers

Turn the other cheek

A soft answer turns away wrath

Do unto others as you would have them do to you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12) Christians and pornography

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

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

  Answer these questions honestly:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 And my current favorite version:

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

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

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

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

13) Social media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14) Reading

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

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

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

15) Homophobia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16) Gay identity

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

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

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

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

17) Author "swag"

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

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

 Until next time.

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