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

Sunday, June 29, 2014

If I were a Muslim president

 I just read a news story that both irritated and concerned me. Obama has proclaimed August "International Muslim Awareness Month." Among other things, he said “The Muslim community around the world deserves our full acceptance, respect, apologies and most importantly, our awareness,” Obama told reporters. “The world has done horrible things to the Muslim people since the beginning of time. Americans have killed millions of Muslims overseas since the September 11th attacks." Wow. Really? My first thoughts were "I am already very aware of them." And apologize for what? Not being an easy enough target for their terrorism?"

  Now if you know me very well at all, you know I feel Barak Obama is the worst man to ever become president of our country, and not only is he in on every scandal he is surrounded by, he has an agenda to change this country into what he wants it to be - and he even said so when he was running for president. But put that aside, and let's play a what if game. What if I were a Muslim who wanted to change a great Christian nation into a Muslim country and/or destroy it from the Oval Office. What would I do?

1) First off, I would appear to throw off the Muslim beliefs and practices I grew up believing and doing. I would make a public confession of faith in Christianity, and start attending a Christian church. The fact that the pastor hates white people and America is just something I hope the public will not find out, or will overlook.

2) I would make pro-Muslim statements often. This great country rightfully fears Muslims in general. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists nowadays are Muslims, so I would say nice things about the religion and point out the good Muslims have supposedly done.

3) I would try to disguise my hatred of Israel, all the while trying to pull the US back from supporting this country all Muslims have a deep-seated hatred of. I would try to portray THEM as the problem, instead of the Muslims countries around them that are constantly threatening their very existence.

4) I'd scoff at the conservatives for saying I am a Muslim and spout Christian platitudes and Bible verses occasionally and be seen going to church to help put those rumors at rest.

5) I'd do my best to ignore terrorist attempts by Muslims, calling it work place violence, and doing all I could to draw attention away from the fact that yet another Muslim has launched a terrorist attack against the country. I'd change the wording and stop using the word terrorism so people don't equate Muslims with acts of terrorism. I'd enlist the media's help and have them gloss over the fact, or leave out the fact, that a Muslim was behind it.

6) I'd weaken our country's borders so anyone can come across, including radical Muslims who want to destroy us.

7) I'd defend Muslims, throw the word "Islamaphobia" around to discourage people from criticizing Islam and Muslims.

8) I'd use the laws to my advantage to protect Muslims from stereotyping and searches of places where they might be building bombs and making plans to launch more attacks on the USA.

9) I'd go slow. I would realize I can't become president on day 1 and on day two force Sharia Law on the country and declare Islam the religion of the country. I would wait until I was re-elected and then start focusing more on my agenda to force Islam on America.

10) I would do things like make a month "International Muslim Awareness Day" and try to make it look like America is the bad guy, picking on Muslim countries, while ignoring all that Muslims have done and tried to do to America.

    I firmly believe there is no way an openly Muslim man could have become president in 2008. At least I don't think so. It still amazes me that Obama became president with no qualifications, no real birth certificate (if there is no issue, then why use millions of $$ to stop it from being shown), his college and school records were sealed, and his past whitewashed...... but still, I don't think he would have been elected if he were Muslim.

  So call me a conspiracy nut if you will, but I believed from day one that he was a Muslim, and if you examine all he has said and done that pertains to Muslims, it would underline that belief. The man claims to be a Christian, but has done nothing pro-Christian since he got in office. Pro-gay, pro-abortion, and pro-Muslim? Oh yes, constantly. But if were a real Christian, he would never have won the Democrat nomination. Real Christians are hated and mocked by that party. But a pseudo/fake Christian using the label as a way to get more votes from Christians who are too blind to see.... yeah, that would work.

  In closing, there is such a thing as sleeper cells. Radical Muslims move into a country and blend in just living life, until the day they are called up to be a martyr and launch an act of terror. So is it that far of a stretch that a man could be groomed and prepared to be a sleeper cell and become president so he could further the causes of the religion most dear to him, Islam? I think not. It is a very real, and scary possibility, and one I am afraid we have as a reality at this very moment. May God have mercy on this country, and somehow hinder this man's agenda and plans.

Friday, June 27, 2014

What not to say to singles

I read a list of 6 things not to say to singles today, and decided to come up with my own. Being single all of my life, I have heard a lot, so here in no particular order, are some that bug me:

1) Why aren't you married yet (or dating)? There is one big issue with this question: it really isn't anyone's business but the single person's. And God's. But you can't go around telling people it isn't any of their business, so you try to give a nice reply to a nosy question.

2) Just one? Asked mostly at restaurants. JUST one? Is there something wrong with eating at a restaurant by yourself? Maybe I need to open a restaurant that caters to single people, and if more than one comes in together, they are given a look and asked "TWO of you?!"

3) There's someone out there for you. And you know this how? Did God give you special insight into my future? Wow. Tell me more.

4) It isn't good for man to live alone. Actually, it can be pretty peaceful. And there are a lot of men who are married and wishing they could go back to living alone.

5) You'd make someone a good husband (or wife). Aww, and you'd make a nice pincushion.

6) You're not getting any younger. Man, I thought for sure that age reversal thing was working...... and wait..... YOU aren't getting any younger either, so why point it out to me that I am not?

7) Isn't it time you settled down with someone? Settle down? Doesn't sound fun to me. Sounds kind of boring.

8) You'd make someone a fine catch. We single people are people, not fish. And maybe you'd be one they'd throw back....

9) Why aren't you married yet (or dating?) I know. That was #1, but it annoys me enough that it needs mentioned again :)

10) Don't you get lonely? Well, yes, but so do married people. Marriage is not a cure for loneliness. Sometimes it can make it worse.

11) God made someone for everyone. Similar to #3, but a bit different. My dear Grandma Buzard used to tell me that. I'd reply, "Maybe so, Gram, but mine died at birth!" But who says He did. I don't find that i the Bible.

12) You're next. Usually said at a wedding. As one comedian said, we single people should start telling those people that at a funeral.

  There are others, but these are the ones that come to mind. And here are some closing thoughts:

Jesus was single, so you're praying to a single adult.

The Apostle Paul was single and accomplished a lot. Of course there are those who wonder if his thorn in the flesh could have been a wife......

  It isn't easy being single in a married world, in a church where everyone your age is married and has kids, but it is even harder when you want to be married, but you can't, and/or there are good reasons why you aren't...... and then to have people pester you about it...... I have told close friends before, it is kind of like asking a woman who can't have kids why she hasn't had one yet, or when she will.

  At this point in my life, I think its obvious to most people who know me well why I am single, and will always be single....... but if you haven't figured that out, you can try #1 and see what I say. I might give you one of my well crafted answers I have used for years, I might tell you the truth, or I might tell you it isn't any of your business. You just never know.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lessons in patience?

 I grew up in a part of Pennsylvania where it was as common to have deer crossing in front of your car, as it was for a politician to tell a lie. I had many close calls, but never hit a deer. Then I moved to Ohio in the early 90's and deer didn't seem to cross the road as much, but it still happened a lot. And still.... I never hit a deer. I also lived in the state of Indiana for two years, and never hit a deer.

  Fast forward to 2012. I was visiting my best friend in the state of Indiana, and left early in the morning in my 2001 white Pontiac Sunfire. Shortly after I pulled out onto the main highway, a pickup pulled out in front of me. Annoyed, I zipped around him instead of braking. Within a minute, BAM! I had hit my first deer. I pulled off at a gas station to inspect the damage. It wasn't too bad, and considering my deductible, I figured I'd just let it go.

  The thought came to me that had I not passed  the moron, I mean guy, who pulled out in front of me, he would most likely have hit the deer, and not me.

  Fast forward to this morning, June 25, 2014. I was again driving my aforementioned Sunfire, and got behind a pickup. (I'm sensing a common theme). He didn't pull out in front of me, but he was driving 10 mile below the speed limit, and after a few miles of that, I was tired of him, so as soon as a passing zone came up, around him I went in my little Sunfire. And within a minute something small darted across the road in front of me and BAM! And then THUD! as it passed under my car. I honestly thought I had hit a dog, so I turned around and went back to find a very small baby deer on the road. Dead. I had killed Bambi.

  I pulled over to inspect the damage. For a smaller deer, it did its share of damage to my car.  And again, the thought came to me that had I not passed the slowpoke driver, either he would have hit the deer, or neither of us would have. I am definitely sensing a common theme. And I remembered the other time I hit a deer. After passing a pickup.

  Now one could assume a few things from these two experiences:
1) I need to stop passing pickups to avoid hitting deer
2) I need to get rid of my Sunfire. It is a deer magnet
3) I need to be more patient and not be in a hurry....... nah, its gotta be #1 or #2

  Now I doubt God caused those deer to run out in front of my car. It was more than likely stupidity on the part of  the deer. "Hey, I'm going to play chicken with that fast white thing!"

 But lessons can be learned from these things. I do need to be more patient. Not just while driving, but wow.... do I need help there. But will I learn my lesson, or will I again pass another pickup only to hit another deer?

  Or I could start a new line of jokes...... why did the deer cross the road?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Being a real man

   It isn't new territory for me to think and wonder what being a real man is all about. A young guy posted something in a Facebook group that got my wheels turning more on the idea of real men:    "I've been feeling totally inadequate as a man lately because I don't do anything "manly". I'm not strong, I don't play sports, don't know how to fix things, don't know how to fish, or camp, couldn't beat up a fly... I think "How the heck can I raise up a man if I have no idea how to be one". What I want more than anything is to be a skilled, tough, man."

  I can totally relate. I have spent most of my life feeling like I am not a real man, feeling I don't measure up to others' expectations and views of what I should do as a man. American society has this idea of what it is to be man, and sadly it has crept into the church and the most Christian of homes and families. It goes something like this:

1) A real man loves sports. Playing, watching, and eating sports.

2) A real man can tear apart and rebuild an engine, change the oil on his car, fix anything on his car
3) A real man can build things
4) A real man has sex with every woman he can have - OK, slight exaggeration there
5) A real man smokes, drinks, and curses like a sailor
6) A real man marries and has several kids
7) A real man drives a pick up and rides a harley without a helmet.
8) A real man is a walking advertisement for a tattoo parlor
9) Real men don't cry

And other manly things, or so called manly things like that.

  I never managed to meet many of the manly ideals.
1) Lousy at sports and hate sports..... ................strike 1
2) Can't fix anything on a car..............................strike 2
3) Hate hunting, fishing is OK but a bit boring.....strike 3
4) Marriage is out, no kids.................................strike 4 and 5
5) There's no way I'd ride a motorcycle, much less without a helmet.... OK, that is common sense, doesn't deserve a strike....
6) And there's no way I am putting a permanent tattoo on this body. It isn't much of a body, but it just ain't happening.
7) I cry............................................................strike 6
8) I love to read..............................................strike 7
9) I love to shop, especially in bookstores.......strike 8
10) Sexual identity issues......................... more strikes than I could come up with

  I don't even know how to run a chain saw. Oh, I could start one, but would most likely cause serious injury to me, and none to the tree. And I did change the oil on my car once, but it was so much of a bother, I decided I'd rather pay someone else to do it. And I can change a tire. I also wear blue jeans when I can.

  Throw sexual identity issues into the mix, and I have felt as far from being a real man as I could possible feel. No, I never felt like a woman, thank God - no offense ladies - but feel like a man? No way. It was just something to add to a long list of failures. I wasn't good at anything, but especially at being a man.

  But here is the truth of the matter: each society and age down through time has had different ideals of real manhood. Take a Harley-riding, tattoo-covered guy from today and drop him into Egypt during Moses' time, and he'd be lost.  A real man built pyramids, mixed mortar, rode camels...... not a loud, dangerous machine. Drop your sports fan that can tear an engine apart and put it back together into the days of the Old West, give him the equipment they had then, and tell him to build a house from trees, and he'd be lost. In light of the men of the day, he wouldn't measure up.

  I don't imagine Adam, Noah, and Jesus had much interest in sports. We have no record of Jesus hunting. Fishing? Kind of. He did build things, but compared to modern Amercia's definition and ideas of being a real man, they wouldn't measure up much better than I do.

  I was reading recently of some tribe on the other side of the world that has a rather barbaric test of manhood. When a boy turns 13, he is circumcised, with nothing for the pain. If he makes it through the ordeal without crying or making a sound, he is a man. Wow. Put that up against the average sports loving man from the USA. They'd be screaming and passing out.

  Could it be that most societies and civilizations have it wrong on what it means to be a real man? If it changes from country to country, from age to age, then who is right? Are any of them right?

  The Bible doesn't just come out and list a bunch of things and say "this is what makes a real man", yet all through Scripture there are evidences of what God wants for us as men, and what is important to Him. Things like:

1) Honesty
2) Integrity
3) Compassion
4) Love
5) Mercy
6) Forgiveness
7) Morality
8) Waiting til marriage for sex, then being faithful
9) Serving God with all you have
10) Hard working
11) Memorizing Scripture, not sports scores
12) Refraining from addictions like smoking, drinking, and drugs
13) Not walking out on your family, even one in the womb

   And there could be a lot more added to that list. God doesn't care that I am terrible at sports, if I can fix a car or plumbing, if I ever can marry. If I cry - after all, Jesus Himself cried.

  I haven't arrived. Even with that short list I made above, I have a lot of room for improvement. No, I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs, but I've battled addictions and bad habits. I've fallen short in the other areas, but God still loves me. I am still a man in His eyes, and I would rather strive for the things the Bible says to strive for as a man, than be the best mechanic, hunter, or ball player in the world.

  Now for the record, I am not saying that everything I listed that people view as traits of real men aren't wrong. A few of them are, and a couple of them are just plain dumb.

  What I am saying, is I would rather my manhood be defined by God and His Word. After all, He is the ultimate authority on........ well everything, including what makes a real man. And it isn't sports or big trucks. It is living for Him and obeying and serving Him, no matter what the cost.. That takes a real man.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thankful in disaster

Last Wednesday evening, a freak storm hit the small town I live in. It was called a mircoburst, and had winds up to 80 mph. There was no warning, and it was over almost as fast as it started, leaving countless tress uprooted and branches down all over town. Including on our front porch.

   I was home alone. Due to a conference I had attended over the week-end, I was not able to go on the family vacation to the Outer Banks. I heard some thunder, so I went out and put my car windows up, then went back to watching a DVD on my computer. Then the storm hit.

  My mom took that moment to call from their vacation to see how things were going here, and we got cut off in the middle of the conversation. I heard a lot of crashing and banging and thought it was just the storm. I called her back on my cell just as I looked outside the basement door to see tree limbs on my dad's pickup. There is no tree close to the pickup, and I was amazed, so I went upstairs to look out and discovered the 80 foot tall, 10 feet around silver maple that stood beside the house was now on what used to be the front porch. It was lying across the driveway, blocking me in.

  The electric was acting weird, flickering and things were snapping and sparking, and I could smell things burning, so I flipped the breaker off. My mom could tell something was wrong, and I figured they needed to know anyway, so I told her and they made plans to leave the next morning, Thursday, instead of Saturday. I called off work for the next day, not knowing if I would be able to get out.

 No worries though. Two guys from church came with chain saws and a few others came to help, and we got the driveway cleared before I got to bed that night. The next day, I tried to clean up the driveway more, helped the electrician get the house ready for the electric company to reattach the power lines, and got hold of the phone and electric companies.

  My parents got home around 4:30 pm Thursday. The phone and electric were both back on around 7 pm, and we started realizing how many things had been zapped by the power outage: refrigerator, stove, central air, alarm clocks, my Wii game system, my computer...... and the list goes on. We did get the refrigerator, stove, and air fixed, and have started replacing the other things.

 We also started realizing how extensive the damage was. The front porch was gone, that was a given, but the walls inside the house are cracked and bowed, the roof damaged and leaking, bricks in the basement caved in and water coming in.....

  We are still not sure what the insurance company is going to do, but it looks like we will have to move out while the house gets fixed. The last week has been frustrating, busy, and discouraging. And also encouraging. We got the tree off of the house on Saturday and all of the bigger pieces gone. On Monday evening, 9 teenaged boys from church and a few adults came down and got rid of the rest of the tree.

  And among all of the rubble and disaster, there is thankfulness:

I am thankful I was kept from harm. I could have been hurt or killed.

I am thankful I was here. Had I not been, the house could have burnt down from the electrical problems. Plus, I was able to let my parents know right away. No one had to find out later about the mess and have to track us down.

I am thankful my parents have insurance. They didn't in '81 when our house burnt.

I am thankful the damage and loss wasn't worse. The tree could have landed on the house roof, instead of on the porch and against the house.

I am thankful for church people who pitched in and helped, called, and prayed.

I am thankful no limbs fell on my car, though one just missed it. My car doesn't have coverage for that.

I am thankful it happened when it did. Just two days later, my little sister and her family was here, and my best friend. There were 3 other vehicles parked in the driveway and mine was in the front yard.... near the tree.

And I am thankful I serve a God who is always in control, even when things don't go as we wish.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A week-end with no masks

I saved money, prayed I'd get the days off, and the day finally came. On this past Thursday morning, I set off for Cambridge, Ohio, where I parked my car, transferred my luggage to a friend's car, and rode with him to the Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain, North Carolina for the Hope for Wholeness Hope Rising Conference.

  There are people who go to church campgrounds for camp meetings and come away with glowing reports of how wonderful it was to be on a campground for a certain amount of days away from the world and only being around Christians, but they have nothing on me and the week-end I just had.

  Ridgecrest Conference Center is a large facility with several buildings, and is owned by Lifeway Christian Stores. As one might assume, it is a Christian Conference Center. Complete with a chapel, prayer garden, multiple hotel-like buildings to stay in, and several conference centers and rooms, it is a perfect location for a Christian conference.

  I have been to camp meetings before, and have enjoyed some of them, yet there is a big difference in the camp meetings I have been to, and the conference I was just at. And it wasn't the beautiful prayer garden, though  that helped.

 It was the absence of masks, and  the absence of feeling I had to wear one. This wasn't a conference for super Christians. It wasn't for those who have it all together, or at least think they do. It was, as one speaker jokingly said, like a camp for messed up adults. It was for people who have brokenness to deal with, people who have the same struggle I have.

 They may as well have had a sign at the conference center entrance saying "no masks allowed!" One could try to wear a mask at the conference, but there would be no use. Everyone there for the HFW Conference either had the same struggle, or they were there for someone who did. So figuratively speaking, everyone tossed their masks aside as they entered the conference grounds, and it was all there in the open. The admitting "I'm like you. I'm broken, messed up, and dealing with THAT also."

  Unless you have a secret struggle or issue that you carry and feel you can't just step out and say "this is my issue/struggle", then you can't imagine what it is like to be around a bunch of people who have the same struggle and issue for a few days. It was truly like a slice of Heaven. No masks, no barriers, no shame.

  The conference started out Thursday evening with a time of worship, a testimony, and a speaker. Following that service, there was a time of group sharing. The men gathered in one place, the women in another, the teens in another, and couples in yet another. The theme of the conference was "daring to tell your story." And believe it or not, I did. It was an abbreviated version, but there with I would guess between 30-40 guys, I spoke up and told mine. And I survived.

 Each full day had a morning, afternoon, and evening general session. Following the morning and afternoon sessions, there were "break out sessions" or workshops, where you could pick which one you wanted to go, with usually around 7 to pick from. They had a lot of good speakers in the general and break-out sessions, and I was greatly encouraged and inspired.

 I made some new friends. Again, it was awesome to sit down at a table and have other guys eating with me that have the same struggles as I do. There was no need to pretend or posture. We all knew why we were there, and it made for even greater fellowship and conversation.

  I got to meet some guys who have already become heroes for being out there on the forefront of the battle. They are further up the road than I am. They are daring to tell their story and are letting God use them to help others, like me.

  There was someone who messaged me a while back about certain things I post on Facebook. Among other things, she said she would think I'd want to stay as far away from the issue I struggle with, instead of talking about it as I do. I was upset at first, but then I let it go. If you have never been here where I am, you won't get it.

 And if no one ever talked about where God brought them from, there would be no hope for others coming behind that change is possible. No hope that God can help with even THAT struggle.

  I am thankful for the men and women who have been there and ARE telling their stories. Men and women who have ministries and conferences for people dealing with the very tough issue I deal with. They could just be quiet, work at serving God, and not rocking the boat and go against what the world says, and sadly what too many Christians say.

  Heaven will be more wonderful than we could ever imagine. Streets of gold, no parting or tears, no temptations and struggles....... and no more masks. No more hiding, no more fear of what our Christian brothers and sisters will say if they knew THAT about us.

  I got a taste of that part of Heaven this past week-end, and I was left wanting more. Thankful for being able to go and experience those wonderful and blessed times, but left wanting more. Heaven: a truly wonderful place for many reasons, and one of them, no more masks.