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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Why I am not getting Trumped

 Many conservatives are going nuts over the celebrity who wants to be president. Their blind adulation reminds me a lot of the same blind adulation that Obama got from his followers in his first presidential run, and somewhat in his second. You ask his supporters for proof that Trump is a conservative..... and there is crickets. I should know..... I asked that on Facebook, and no one replied, and I know there at least a handful of Trump supporters that I am Facebook friends with..... yet. there were crickets.

  Well, not literal crickets, but there was silence from his supporters. I am guessing that had no proof to give, Just like Obama's supporters, they really don't know much of what he stands for. They are just tired of what we have, and he is the loudest person out there.

  I have been watching him, and I admit I liked what he was saying at first. I like what he says on immigration, but..... after all this time, that is all I know his stance on. I don't know if he is truly pro-life and is for de-funding Planned Parenthood. I don't know his stance on the Second Amendment. I don't know his stance on gay marriage..... which is still important to me even though a few self important judges decided their opinion trumped God's and anyone else's.

 So here is why I am not voting for Trump. If, God forbid; he wins the GOP nomination........I will do as I did the last couple of elections and hold my nose and vote for what I hope is the lesser of two evils:

1) I am not convinced he is a conservative. He yells a lot about immigration and making America great again...... but he has been a liberal in the past...... has he truly changed? Where is the proof that  he has changed?

2) He is arrogant and a bully. His style reminds me a lot of someone else I intensely dislike: Obama. Trump acts a lot like Obama does when he is angry at someone. And he is also as arrogant as Obama..... or close to it. The way he goes after those who disagree with him is very Obama-like.

3) He voted for Obama.... at least once. How can I say this politely..... I wouldn't want someone working on my car if I knew they voted for Obama..... the evidence was there that Obama would be bad for our country. Anyone capable of intelligent thought knew he would be bad for America...... yet, this same Donald Trump claiming to be conservative was stupid enough to vote for him. So he is too stupid to be president of our country.

4) Closely related to that, he said in 2008 that Hillary Clinton would make a great president...... again, that statement proves he has poor judgment and a severe lack of intelligence that one would need to make a good president.

Plus, he has supported the Clintons financially over the years and been in bed (figuratively) with them for years. What if his run is part of a plan to launch her into the White House?

5) Donald Trump is a celebrity. We do not need another celebrity type president.

6) Even if Trump is on the up and up and plans to beat Hilary Clinton, I don't believe he can beat her and will hand the win to her whether he intends to or not.

7) Trump defended Bill Clinton's abuse of women on more than one occasion.......and now he is going to attack the Clintons for that/

8) He is a hypocrite: see point 7.... he also criticized moving jobs out of the US, but his clothing company is in....... Mexico. Imagine that.

9) He is all show and an actor.... and he is acting every day on the campaign trail.

10) He has switched parties and loyalties before. How can be trusted to not do it again?

11) None of our allies or enemies will take him seriously.

12) He is not presidential at all, and more closely resembles a whiny little kid than a president.

  Overall, I think he is bad news. IF he wins the GOP nomination, I can't see him beating the Democrat candidate, which is most likely the same Hillary Clinton he has praised and supported for years.

 And IF he wins the presidency, will he truly espouse conservative values, or will he flip back to liberal policies once he has fooled conservatives into voting for him.

 I am planning on voting for Cruz. I have been watching him since he became Senator, and he IS definitely conservative. He never voted for Obama or the Clintons. He has stuck his neck out more than any other Republican Senator. He is everything Trump is not. I hope and pray he gets the nomination, and not this bully/celebrity that is fooling the masses.

I am not getting Trumped, and hopefully America does not get Trumped.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My heart would be your Bethlehem

My heart would be your Bethlehem
A shelter for your birth
My body be your dwelling place
A sacred temple on this earth
By holy intervention
An act of love divine
In union with mortality

Make incarnation mine

  One might think Jesus isn't picky about where He stays. On the night of his birth on this earth, He lay in a feed trough. While doing His earthly ministry, he said the Son of Man had no place to lay His head; which would seem to indicate that He had no house. And then upon His death, He was laid in a borrowed tomb.

  So it should come as no surprise that He would want to live in our hearts. Our hearts can indeed be His Bethlehem this Christmas, and all through the year. However, unlike the baby content to lie in a dirty feed trough; He is not content to dwell in an unclean heart. If we are to have Him live in our hearts this Christmas and all year long, He will insist on cleaning up our hearts.

  There is an old hymn that goes like this:
Search me, O God, and know my heart today,
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.

  What better time than Christmas to ask God to do that? What better time to have Him search our hearts and see if we need to have Him do some housecleaning so He doesn't feel out of place there?

 Living the Christian life is not a life where you sit back and relax. There are days, weeks, and even months where it is all uphill and you're in the valley more than on the mountain. Doubts creep in, trusting God seems impossible at times, wrong attitudes, and other things can sneak in and weaken us and make our personal "Bethlehem" not so clean and tidy.

  It happens to me. Amid all of the depression, worry, doubt, and all of the other stuff life and the devil throws my way; Jesus can get lost in the shuffle and my own personal Bethlehem stops being the place it should be.

 Life is speeding by too fast. May this Christmas be a time we sweep out the stable and ask Jesus to show us what needs changed, where we need to improve, and to help us be all that He wants us to be.

My Heart Would Be Your Bethlehem

My heart would be your Bethlehem
A shelter for your birth
My body be your dwelling place
A sacred temple on this earth
By holy intervention
An act of love divine
In union with mortality
Make incarnation mine

My heart, my will, my mind, my all
I consecrate to bring
The Holy Son of God to earth
Oh let the angels sing

My will would bow in wonderment
Struck silent by the awe
Of angels visitation
That wakes my slumbering heart at dawn
With some annunciation
My soul could magnify
Begin in me a holy seed
That I cannot deny

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Content at Christmas

 My family is big on wish lists for birthdays and Christmas. They are helpful when family members need ideas of what to buy. As I sat with pen in hand earlier this month to make my wish list, I realized there isn't much that I need or want. I actually had difficulty coming up with very many things to put on my wish list. Granted, I tend to buy what I need and want throughout the year within reason; but I realized as I looked at my rather short wish list that I am blessed.

  My pastor preached on covetousness the last two Sundays and worked Christmas into it. Christmas is the time we celebrate Jesus' birth and have an emphasis on giving, goodwill, and peace on earth. Unfortunately, it has turned into a time of getting and greed on earth. Stores put out ads advertising low prices and people trample each other and act like savages to get a good deal or the one new item that everyone has to have. Every year there is the one hard to find item that everyone wants: Cabbage Patch dolls, Tickle Me Elmos, Furbees, and the endless list goes on.

  A few years ago, Snuggies were popular. A Snuggie is a blanket with arms. I thought they sounded neat and like a good idea, so it went on my wish list..... and I got one for Christmas. Unfortunately, I looked like a pregnant monk with it on; and it was more of a bother than anything.

  Maybe the reason is two fold that I have difficulty coming up with a wish list. As I stated already, I am blessed and am not in want or need. I also believe what is important to us changes the older we get. I still enjoy getting gifts, but I enjoy giving more than I used to and what I want are not things.

  Yesterday, I picked up my three nephews and took them Christmas shopping for their parents and for each other. We met my three nieces at Walmart and did some shopping there and then went to the Dollar Tree (only a dollar store). After they shopped there to their heart's content. or actually until the boys each spent the $5 I had given each of them; we went to a local pizza place where I had ordered two large pepperoni pizzas. We added two two-liter bottles of pop and a bag of Doritos and chowed down.

  I brought the boys home with me so they could wrap their purchases. I discovered I am not the world's worst wrapper after all..... my nine year old nephew beats me in that department. My wallet was a bit lighter, and so were my spirits.

 And what had I gotten out of the day? I had bought iced tea and cheese, and shared pizza and pop with the kids; but no one bought me anything, And yet, I felt an extreme sense of happiness and satisfaction. I had spent time with my six favorite kids and helped make their day better. I had helped my nephews buy some gifts for their parents and for each other. I felt content.

  Christmas is all about giving. God gave His Son so we could have hope and be forgiven. It isn't about getting or being greedy. This Christmas, I want to be with my family and watch them as they open their gifts.... sure, I like to get gifts, and I will be thankful and happy with what I get; but I'll already have what I need most: God and my family.

 This song says it better:

My Christmas List:

Verse 1:
Filling out my Christmas list
Just like every other kid
Dreaming big, wishing for a lot
A brand new bike and matchbox cars
A telescope so I could see the stars, a BB gun or a slingshot
Now I can't remember half of what I got

But that's what I wanted, that's all I needed
And I wouldn't ask for another thing
I'd be happy, if only
I could get those few simple Christmas gifts
On my Christmas list

Verse 2:
Before I knew a few years passed
I was wide-eyed and growing up fast
Started asking for more important stuff
A stereo to turn up loud, a new guitar so I could rock out
And maybe a car, if it ain't too much
Back then I thought that would be enough

Cause that's what I wanted, that's all I needed
And I wouldn't ask for another thing
I'd be happy, if only
I could get those few simple Christmas gifts
On my Christmas list

Verse 3:
A few years later, here I am
Seeing the world as a grown up man
My perspective sure has changed
We're nowhere close to peace on earth
But my new wish for what it's worth
Is for the ones I love to be healthy and safe
And all our soldiers come home to stay, I pray

That's what I wanted, that's all I needed
And I wouldn't ask for another thing
I'd be happy, if only
I could get those few simple Christmas gifts
On my Christmas list

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It doesn't seem like Christmas

I have heard the comment several times in the last couple of weeks: "It doesn't seem like Christmas."  The comment is usually brought on because of the warmer than usual weather with no snow (hallelujah!), how fast the season has rolled around, or other reasons.

  Maybe it is because I have been more introspective this Christmas than I normally am, but the comment bugs me a bit more this year than other years I have heard the same comment. Doesn't seem like Christmas? What should Christmas seem like?

Should there be snow? There most likely wasn't snow at the first Christmas.

Should more of the gifts be wrapped and bought? That wasn't a priority at the first Christmas.

Should we be more in the mood for Christmas? Not many people were even aware of the first Christmas.

   The first Christmas involved God laying in a dirty feed trough. It involved dirty and smelly shepherds being among the first people to greet the newborn King. There were no gifts, no snow covered yards, no decorations, no tree....... just a newborn baby lying in a cattle feed trough.

  We Christians tend to criticize the commercialization of Christmas, all the while commercializing it up to our chins. We like to think we have the corner of the market on the true meaning of Christmas, yet if everything isn't just how we think it should be; we think it doesn't seem like Christmas.

 So the next time you are tempted to think or utter those words "it doesn't seem like Christmas", stop and think of what that first Christmas was like and all about...... and thank God for what Christmas is all about.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Light your world

We had our yearly candle light service tonight at my church. It was a very nice service, and I got a lot out of it. The service also helped bring the true meaning of Christmas home to me as we gear up for the rush of the next few days to Christmas Day.

  The lights are turned off for the service; other than the lights in the vestibule, some lighting on the platform, and some candles and Christmas lights up front. You can see, but the church is fairly dark during the service.

  There are songs, a short sermon, a story, and then the moment the service is named for: the lighting of the candles. Everyone has a short candle with a plastic holder on it to catch the wax. The pianist and organist play "O Holy Night"softly as our pastor takes his candle and lights it from a candle on the table behind him. He then lights the songleader's candle. They step off the platform and light the candles of the 6 ushers. The ushers then proceed back the aisles, lighting the candles of each person on the ends of the pews; who in turn light the candle of the person beside them.

  I would guess there was close to 300 people there. The candles are small and don't give out much light, but I noticed that the more candles got lit; the brighter the sanctuary became. It wasn't so dark in there anymore, and yet the light came from small candles. The pastor's candle alone didn't make much difference, and neither did the addition of the ushers' six candles. Yet when most, and then all of the candles were lit; it made a huge difference in the lighting of the church sanctuary.

  As I watched the church sanctuary grow brighter as candle after candle was lit; I thought about that. The world we live in is so dark and getting darker by the day. It seems wrong is glorified and is winning, while right and good are losing and are mocked and in some cases outlawed and/or shut down.

  And there we are: the Christians. Are we letting our light shine? One of us may not make much of a difference in this wicked and dark world we are living in, but if we all let our light shine; then just like the small candles at my church we can make the world a brighter place and show the world that we have the best thing this world can never offer: Jesus.

 There was an article posted recently titled "8 Bands You Didn't Realize Were Christian." I commented with "isn't that a sad commentary on their lives and Christianity if no one realizes they are Christian??" And it is true. It is also true for anyone who claims to be a Christian. If people would be surprised to find out that we are a Christian, something is wrong. We either are not letting our light shine, or we are not living the way we should. May God help us at this time of year and all year long to shine bright enough to light the part of the world we are in: while we are at work, shopping, at home, and everywhere we go. Jesus said we are the light of the world, so let us shine for Him.

Light your world, let the love of God shine through
In the little things you do light your world

Two doors down one rocking chair is rocking
She sits there all alone, her husband dead and gone
The best years of her life they spent together
He was always strong, but now she's on her own

And the telephone never rings
No one laughs, no one sings
It's quiet there, does anyone care?

Light your world, let the love of God shine through
In the little things you do, light your world
And though your light may be
Reaching only two or three, light your world

A knocking at her door breaks the silence
She looks out to see a little boy from down the street
She cracks the door, surprised that he came over
Flowers in his hand like a little gentleman

He said, "I picked these just for you
I hope you like the color blue
Could I stay a while, I love to see you smile"

And light your world, let the love of God shine through
In the little things you do, light your world
And though your light may be
Reaching only two or three, light your world

It only takes a little time
To show someone how much you care
It only takes a little time
To answer someone's biggest prayer

Light your world, let the love of God shine through
In the little things you do, light your world
And though your light may be
Reaching only two or three, light your world

Let the love of God shine through
In the little things you do, light your world
And though your light may be
Reaching only two or three, light your world

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Green dinosaurs, Santa, and Carols

 I am not a fan of the large inflatable decorations that litter people's yards during the holidays. Most of them are tacky and seem like an answer to the question "what can I do to make my yard look worse?" One or two do not look too bad, depending on what they are; but too many people can't stop at one or two and fill their yards with the bulky decor.

  There is a house near me that I drive past every day that has some of these eyesores.... I mean decorations. I don't know what all is in their yard, as everything else fades in the background of one noticeable inflatable decoration: a large green dinosaur. It stands out to me for the reason I cannot imagine what it has to do with Christmas. I don't obsess over it, but that thought has come to me several times as I drive by the house. I was riding with my parents on Sunday and as we drove past the house, I said aloud "What on earth does a dinosaur have to do with Christmas?" My dad replied that he was wondering the same thing.

  As I drove past the dinosaur again on my way to work this morning, I again thought the same thing. Another thought hit me as I continued on my way: how much of what I do at Christmas has anything to do with Christmas?

  We who call ourselves Christians know what it is all about: the day we observe Jesus coming as a baby to this earth. I know He is what it is all about, but how many "dinosaurs" do I have at Christmas?

My family doesn't do Santa. My nieces and nephews have never been told that Santa brings their gifts, we don't decorate with Santa, nor take the kids to sit on some guy's lap we don't know.

  But how much of what I call Christmas has anything more to do with the birth of Christ than a green dinosaur sitting on the lawn of a house I drive by?

  I am not knocking Christmas trees, stockings, gift giving, lights, Christmas shopping, or anything else that we see so much of at this time of year..... well, other than Santa..... but what do they truly have to do with the real meaning of Christmas? I enjoy the lights, the Christmas tree, giving gifts........ and yes, getting (if you need any ideas, gift cards for Amazon, restaurants, or Family Christian bookstore are a great idea!)

  We tend to try to "Christianize" everything. The lights symbolize Jesus the light of the world. The Christmas tree symbolizes the trinity and points to God; also being evergreen symbolizes Jesus in some way. We give gifts because the wise men gave gifts and also because Jesus was God's gift to the world. It sounds all nice and Christian, yet how often do we think those things when viewing pretty lights and Christmas trees? How often do we think about the gifts of the wise men and about God's gift of salvation through a tiny baby as we excitedly rip open gifts to see what we have gotten to add to our already plenteous possessions?

I enjoy songs like I'll Be Home for Christmas, Sleighride, Blue Christmas, I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas (even though I hate snow and winter); but what do they truly have to do with Christmas? They fail miserably next to the carols of Christmas like I Heard the Bells, Silent Night, O Holy Night, and others which are packed with so much more than secular Christmas songs.

  If we took everything away that truly has nothing to do with Jesus, what would be left in our Christmas? Would we have anything left?

  I am in no way advocating we stop the gift giving, rip down the tree and decorations and only listen to Christmas carols and Mary Did You Know..... but some of that stuff is just extra things that help make this time of year more enjoyable. I love a well decorated Christmas tree, though I seem to be the only one in my family who likes colored lights on the tree......

  But this season needs to be more about Jesus and His birth than most of us make it. Christmas Eve is a week from today, and I feel I have barely skimmed the surface of truly celebrating the season as I should.

  Oh, I had grand ideas; but life goes so fast and I procrastinate.

  I have done a few things:

  I bought a CD Drive Time Devotions for Christmas. There are about 21 days worth of devotions about Christmas that average around 3 minutes. I pop it in first thing in the morning when I get in the car and listen and absorb the words...... and the devotions are surprisingly good and worthwhile. Not bad for $1.99

  King James only people won't be able to appreciate this, but since I have 10 different Bible versions in print form (and many more in digital); I have been reading portions of the Christmas story from different versions of the Bible each evening before I go to bed. I find it interesting to read the different wording, and reading the same story over and over has helped me think more on the real reason for the season.

 This is not to toot my own horn, but today as I stood at the register waiting to pay for my soup in the coffee/snack shop at the hospital; I decided to pay for the bill of the lady behind me. To her startled amazement, after my soup was rung up; I turned around and grabbed her bill out of her hand and handed it to the lady ringing me up. It made her happy, and it made me feel good. So what does that have to do with Christmas? Well, she wished me a Merry Christmas; and that is what Christmas is all about: giving. We shouldn't just do things for people we know are going to return the gesture. Any pagan can do that. God gave us a Savior, knowing most of us would never give Him anything back; and that the rest of us would never be able to give Him anything of equal value.

  A few weeks ago, my oldest niece suggested our family go Christmas caroling this week. Our church goes caroling, though it is only open to the youth group to go; but she thought it would be nice for us to go as a family. So we loaded up and set out: my parents, me, both of my sisters and brothers-in-law, and my 6 nieces and nephews. We made some people happy, and enjoyed ourselves. And it was great to do as a family.

  This year, I have made an effort to really listen to the lyrics of the Christmas songs as I listen to them on a daily basis. The old carols are rich with meaning and good theology, and all point to Jesus. There are a lot of newer Christ-centered Christmas songs also, but I am thankful for the carols.

  I have done the usual: set up my Nativity scene, read Christmas books, bought gifts for those I know will give me gifts and those who most likely will not.

  But it doesn't matter how much of this we do or don't do if we don't have the Christ of Christmas in our hearts. That is the best way of all to honor Jesus on this time we celebrate His birth: by making sure He has our heart, and all that we have and are. He doesn't care if you have a green dinosaur in your yard, a Christmas tree in your living room, if you bake Christmas cookies or not....... but He cares if we are truly His at Christmas and every day of the year.

 Christmas is one week from tomorrow, and it will go fast. Let us do all we can to truly keep Christ in Christmas, and more importantly in our hearts and lives.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Don we now our gay apparel

The well known "Deck the Halls" was written around 1862. The  word "gay" in the line "don we now our gay apparel" meant a whole new different thing back in those days than it means today. It meant happy. I have a hard time hearing the song these days without the modern meaning coming to my mind, which is sad; not that the song has ever been a favorite of mine. When I think of  someone donning gay apparel in this modern day we live in, my mind goes to rainbow themes and other items the out and proud tend to wear to identify themselves as gay and proud.

  And that is what gay has become. It isn't just a term to describe a man who is attracted to other guys and may have sex with other guys. It has become an identity. That is one reason so many gay people get so easily outraged by anyone who disagrees with their lifestyle. They look at it as criticizing WHO they are, not what they do.

  It is actually rather sad. There is so much more to us than our sexual identity, whether gay, straight, or whatever else they come up with. By donning gay apparel, or gay identity, so much is lost. There is so much more in life these people could be, but their lives revolve around their sexual identity and getting more rights for their identity.

  There is much debate among people who God has saved from the gay lifestyle over the use of the word gay. There are those who refer to themselves as gay celibate Christians, some who refer to themselves as gay Christians - usually those who are giving into their sin while claiming to be Christians, and many feel they should not use the term "gay" to describe themselves once they walk away from it to serve God. And there are other opinions also, but those are the main ones.

  I tend to fall into the latter. We don't use other sins to describe ourselves as Christians. We don't say "I am a Christian thief", or "I am a Christian adulterer", etc.

  When we come to Christ, repent, and take up our cross to follow Him; we become a new person. We have a new identity as a child of God; a child of the King of Kings.

  But yet, many of us cling to other identities while trying to be a child of God. I do it. I find myself identifying myself as things no one serving God should do:



  And the list goes on. Things I see myself as, identities that hold me back from everything I should be.

  God doesn't see me  that way. According to His Word, I am:

A new creation

His workmanship

Child of God

Temple of the Holy Spirit


Child of light



  And many more. (A more complete list is at the end of this post.)

   I believe we do ourselves and God a disservice when we cling to the wrong identities and names we attach to ourselves. God wants so much more for us, and it makes it more difficult for Him to work in us and through us when we have these things in our minds that contradict what His Word is telling us. But I know personally it is difficult to get past that kind of thinking that cripples us and holds us back.

  The wise men visited Jesus and gave Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They weren't gifts for a baby, but gifts for a King. The day we set aside to observe and celebrate this miraculous birth is only 10 days away, and yet so few of us will take time to give this same Jesus something for his birthday.

  Many give to the poor and do acts of service or do financial things in His name, and those are great things to do.

 But maybe Christmas would be a great time to kneel at the manger and throw off our "gay apparel"...... to give Him all of the negative identities we are holding so tightly to and that Satan has convinces us of. And I believe that would make Him happier than all of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh in the whole world.

 It may sound like a bad gift for a King, but if we are to truly serve this Jesus who was born in a manger and died on a cross for us, we must give Him our all; and that includes the lies we believe about ourselves; and it definitely includes any identity that is not from Him.

Who I am in Christ:

I am blameless and free from accusation. (Colossians 1:22)

Christ Himself is in me. (Colossians 1:27)

I am firmly rooted in Christ and am now being built up in Him. (Col. 2:7)

I have been made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)

I have been spiritually circumcised. My old unregenerate nature has been
removed. (Colossians 2:11)

I have been buried, raised, and made alive with Christ. (Colossians 2:12,13)

I died with Christ and I have been raised up with Christ. My life is now hidden
With Christ in God. Christ is now my life. (Colossians 1:1-4)

I am an expression of the life of Christ because He is my life. (Colossians 3:4)

I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved. (Col. 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4)

I am a son of light and not of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

I have been given a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I have been saved and set apart according to God’s doing.
(2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5)

Because I am sanctified and am one with the Sanctifier, He is not ashamed
to call me brother. (Hebrews 2:11)

I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling. (Hebrews 3:1)

I have the right to come boldly before the throne of God to find mercy and
grace in a time of need. (Hebrews4:16)

I have been born again. (1 Peter 1:23)

I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house.
(1 Peter 2:5)

I am a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a
People for God’s own possession. (1 Peter 2:9,10)

I am an alien and stranger to this world in which I temporarily live.
(1 Peter 2:11)

I am an enemy of the devil. (1 Peter 2:11)

I have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by
Which I am a partaker of God’s divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

I am forgiven on the account of Jesus’ name. (1 John 2:12)

I am anointed by God. (1 John 2:27)

I am a child of God and I will resemble Christ when He returns. (1 John 3:1,2)

I am loved. (1 John 4:10)

I am like Christ. (1 John 4:10)

I have life. (1 John 5:12)

I am born of God, and the evil one…the devil…cannot touch me.
(1 John 5:`8)

I have been redeemed. (Revelation 5:9)

My Nature In Christ

I have been healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

I am the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13)

I am the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)

I am commissioned to make disciples. (Matthew 28:19,20)

I am a child of God. (John 1:12)

I have eternal life. (John 10:27)

I have been given peace. (John 14:27)

I am part of the true vine, a channel of Christ’s life. (John 15:1,5)
I am clean. (John 15:3)

I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:15)

I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit. (John 15:16)

I have been given glory. (John 17:22)

I have been justified…completely forgiven and made righteous.
(Romans 5:1)

I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule over my life.
(Romans 6:1-6)

I am a slave of righteousness. (Romans 6:18)

I am free from sin and enslaved to God. (Romans 6:22)

I am free forever from condemnation. (Romans 8:1)

I am a son of God; God is spiritually my Father. (Romans 8:14, 15
Galatians 3:26; 4:6)

I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him
(Romans 8:17)

I am more than a conqueror through Christ, who loves me.
(Romans 8:37)

I have faith. (Romans 12:3)

I have been sanctified and called to holiness. (1 Corinthians 1:2)

I have been given grace in Christ Jesus. (1Corinthians 1:4)

I have been placed into Christ, by God’s doing. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the
things feely given to me by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

I have been given the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

I am a temple…a dwelling place…of God. His Spirit and His life dwell
in me. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19)

I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)

I am bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God.
(1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 7:23)

I am called. (1 Corinthians 7:17)

I am a member of Christ’s Body. (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:30)

I am victorious through Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

I have been established, anointed and sealed by God in Christ, and I have
been given to the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing my
inheritance to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21; Ephesians 1:13,14)

I am led by God in triumphal procession. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

I am to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved
and those who are perishing. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

I am being changed into the likeness of Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:14,15)

I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation.
(2 Corinthians 5:18,19)

I have been made righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I am given strength in exchange for weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ
lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life. (Galatians 2:20)

I am a son of God and one in Christ. (Galatians 3:26, 28)

I am Abraham’s seed…an heir of the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

I am an heir of God since I am a son of God. (Galatians 4:6,7)

I am a saint. (Ephesians 1:1; ! Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2)

I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. (Ephesians 1:3)

I was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and
am without blame before Him. (Ephesians 1:4)

I was predestined…determined by God…to be adopted as God’s son.
(Ephesians 1:5)

I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13)

I have been redeemed and forgiven, and I am a recipient of His lavish

I have been made alive together with Christ. (Ephesians 2:5)

I have been raised up and seated with Christ in heaven. (Ephesians 2:6)

I am God’s workmanship…His handiwork…born anew in Christ to do His
work. (Ephesians 2:10)

I have direct access to God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)

I am a fellow citizen with the rest of God’s family. (Ephesians 2:19)

I may approach God with boldness, freedom, and confidence. (Eph. 3:12)

I am righteous and holy. (Ephesians 2:24)

I am a citizen of heaven, seated in heaven right now. (Philippians 3:20
Ephesians 2:6)

I am capable. (Philippians 4:13)

I have been rescued from the domain of Satan’s rule and transferred
to the kingdom of Christ. (Colossians 1:13)

I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. The debt against me has
been cancelled. (Colossians 1:14)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Gift cards aren't for everyone, but Jesus is

 I had an embarrassing experience at work last week. Ever since it happened, my mind has been on it and got to working in the ways that my mind works.

   I work at a large hospital, and am a contracted employee. Although I work at the hospital and have to follow their rules and regulations, I actually work for Allied Barton Security. The hospital, which has 4000 employees...... including contracted ones, has something they do every year: they give free flu shots, and if at least 75% of employees get the flu shot; they are given a $25 Giant Eagle gift card (grocery store chain in this area). The cards are given out at the free Christmas dinner that is held in the cafeteria every year, which even contracted employees are eligible for. Last year, we were informed that we security guards were not getting the gift cards since we are contracted, even though we are included in the 75% of employees who got the goal required to get gift cards.

  So last Thursday the dinner was held. I went through the line and got all of my food, then went over to the cash registers to have my badge scanned. One lady scanned me and looked at a laptop. She said to the other lady "OK, he's good", and handed me a gift card. I was surprised, but figured they had changed their policy. I knew of at least one person who was thinking about talking to the CEO about us not getting one.

  I sat down at a table with six other people, and began eating and chatting. After about 10-15 minutes, one of the ladies who had scanned my badge came over and asked if I was Mark. I said I was, and she told me their system messed up and I was not one of the people who was supposed to get a gift card; and that she needed it back. I passed it over, feeling embarrassment and irritation; as several people overheard what had happened. The news traveled fast, and I have had several people tell me how uncouth and unfair it was; especially to take it back in front of so many people. A friend of mine in housekeeping even complained to the CEO of the hospital about it.

  It was embarrassing, and I feel it could have been handled better. However, as I have thought about what happened, my mind went to Christmas and Jesus. And this thought came to me: Not everyone gets a gift card at the hospital, but everyone can have Jesus.

  Unlike my Calvinist friends, I believe John 3:16 means what it says: That God loved the whole world, and that whosoever believes in Jesus can have eternal life..... not just who God feels like offering redemption to.

  I have been left out of a lot in life, and will be left out of a lot more in the days and years to come. Hospital gift cards are not the first thing, nor will it be the last. There are organizations I would not be allowed to join or be part of, because I do not meet the right requirements. There are buildings I cannot enter, I can't even join my own church because I wouldn't agree to a few things......

  But anyone can come to Jesus......even me. As the old hymn says, "Jesus loves even me", and 2000 plus years ago; He came for me. He died on a cross..... for me. And He offered salvation, grace, mercy, and forgiveness...... to me.

  So what is a measly gift card compared to Jesus and what He has done for me? Given a choice, I''d take Jesus over any gift card. That incident will be forgotten, and is already not that big of a deal to me; but what Jesus did for me will never not be a big deal. Nor will it fade from memory.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Let every heart prepare Him room

  We tend to give the innkeeper in the Christmas story a hard time. After all, he turned away the Son of God and it resulted in Jesus being born in a dirty stable. But he had no idea who he had turned away, and it would most likely have happened the same way no matter who was in charge of the inn that night. Motel 6 was full, and the light was turned off. I would imagine Mary and Joseph were both a bit dirty and smelly from their journey and didn't stand out at all. Had he known who this baby was about to be born, I am sure he would have asked someone to give up their room... but he didn't know.

  And yet we vilify him for not making room for the Savior of the world.

  But are we any better than he? If you think about it, we are in fact worse than he was. He didn't know who Jesus was, and we do. How many of us truly make room for Him during this season that is supposed to be all about Him? We sing songs about Him, go to Christmas events centered around Him....yet do we truly make room for Him during the season of His birth? Do we make Him THE reason for the season?

  And do we make room for Him the rest of the year? This busyness and hustle and bustle of the Christmas season isn't just a Christmas thing. We are too busy every day of the year. Does it do any good to "let every heart prepare Him room" in December, if we don't give Him His place January through November? Are we taking enough time on a daily basis to make room in our day and our lives for this Jesus the innkeeper had no room for?

If we aren't taking time out of our day to pray, read our Bible, and focus on Him; then we are no better than the innkeeper. We may not be saying the words "no room", but by our inaction and lack of spiritual disciplines; we may as well have a sign on our heart saying "no room".

  Sometimes I am afraid that with all of our modern technology and drive through lifestyles we live, we are trying to do drive through/fast food Christianity. This serving Jesus is a daily walk that takes time and focus. We can't just put Him in a drawer or closet and pull Him out when we need Him. It is a 24/7, making Him the center and reason for every day, not just the reason for the season.

 Yes, we need to make room for Him during the busy Christmas season.....after all, it is all about Him. However, we can't just attempt to have our hearts prepare Him room only during Christmas.  If we are to give Him His rightful place and serve Him in the way He should be served, we must prepare Him room every day, and all day.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The ordinary King

  Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote a song back in the early 80's titled "Ordinary Baby." The idea of the song is that Jesus came as just an ordinary baby, yet He was far from ordinary. I was listening to the song yesterday and the first verse really stuck out to me:

He was just an ordinary baby, 
That’s the way He planned it, maybe
Anything but common would have kept Him apart
From the children that He came to rescue, 
Limited to some elite few;
When He was the only Child who asked to be born. 

  It is beyond our finite minds to comprehend why God would send His Son to this earth for us in the first place. To do so in such a way as He did is even further beyond the scope of our understanding. To have the King of everything lying in a manger is not at all how we would have written the story. We would have had Him lying in the best baby bed money could buy, and being born in a palace; not in a stable surrounded by filth and smelly animals.

  But had He been born in the way that a true King should be born, what then of the shepherds and other common people? There is no way they would have been allowed in a palace to see a newborn King, or any King. But since He was born in a stable, they just walked in with no palace guards to stop them. These shepherds had been in the field with sheep and had to have been rather smelly, yet no one told them they had to clean up and wear fancy clothes before they could see this newborn King. And these common shepherds, the first people to hear the announcement of Jesus birth and among the first to see Him, left to never be the same again.

  Not much has changed in two thousand years. This same Jesus who had dirty, smelly shepherds come before Him welcomes anyone to come to Him today. We too can come to this same King with all of our sin, our dirt and filth; and He will not turn us away. Most of us could never get in to see the rulers of any country, unless we had connections. If we somehow managed to gain an audience with one of these rulers, we would look our best and make sure we showered and smelled our best. If we showed up smelly and dirty, we would be turned away or at least told to make ourselves more presentable.

  But Jesus came in a lowly way and in a lowly place so He would not be kept apart from the ones He came to save. He will never turn us away, and if we encounter Him; we will never be the same again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Remembering Thanksgiving, Week #4

  This month has flown by - this YEAR has flown by, and it is hard to believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day..... and it is Thanksgiving Day, not Turkey Day.

  I unfortunately have to work, but my boss was agreeable to my working half the day because due to parts of the hospital being closed on holidays and not many people coming in; I won't be needed the second half of the day. Sure, it would be nice to have the whole day off, but I God willing; I will be home in time for the noon Thanksgiving meal.

On week four of Thanksgiving month, I am thankful for:

1) Work, since I am speaking of it. I wish it was closer, I wish I got paid more, and I wish I didn't have to work major holidays...... but I like my job. I have some great coworkers. It could be much worse, and I could be unemployed..... so I am very thankful for my job.

2) My health. Working in the waiting room of the emergency department, I see it all. There are a lot of people with serious and recurring health issues, and often they are younger than I am. Other than my need to lose weight, I am in good physical health; and hope to stay that way and improve on it this coming year.
3) My fellow travelers on the road I walk. Mine is not an easy struggle. It can be daunting and lonely to look at a future as a single guy in a world of couples who don't understand me.... but God has brought several people into my life via Facebook, conferences, and other ways who walk the same road I walk, who have the same struggles I have...... and they are a tremendous encouragement and help to me. I thank God for them and hope I am somehow a blessing and encouragement to them also.

4) Christmas. It is just around the corner, and once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away; it will begin: the rush towards Christmas. I love the season  and am thankful for it. I am thankful for the sense of peace and goodwill that still hovers in the air, the times spent with family, getting and giving gifts, and what it is all about: the birth of Jesus. We would have no hope without that first Christmas, and I am oh so thankful for it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Keeping Christmas

The next to the last line in the famous Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens say of Ebeneezer Scrooge : "and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."

 Christmas is fast approaching, and I have been thinking about that: keeping Christmas. I had a conversation, or more like a debate/argument with my liberal coworker a while back. He likes to make outrageous statements and start an argument. (Yeah, you, Rich!) This time he informed me that Christmas is a pagan holiday and its traditions are based on pagan things. I disagreed and he brought up how so many celebrate Christmas and what it means to so many. I came back with "well that isn't how I view it and celebrate it. To me, it is the birth of Jesus."

  That conversation has had me thinking as Christmas is rushing toward us at the speed of light, or it so it seems. If anyone should keep Christmas, it should be we who bear His name..... and we should keep it better and differently than the world does. But do we?

  Is it enough to put out a Nativity scene, avoid Santa talk and decorations, go to all of the Christmas services at church...... even the circus they call the children's Christmas program?

 Do we make Christmas too much about US, and not enough about HIM?

 I love Christmas: Being with family, giving gifts, getting gifts (hey, I am human), the music, the decorations, the different attitudes and spirit that seems to be present at that time of year. But do I keep Christmas any differently than people who don't know Jesus as their Lord and Savior?

  We like to harp about the commercialization of Christmas, but what do we do to battle the commercialization in our homes and hearts? In all of the hustle and bustle of family Christmases, parties, Christmas cantatas and caroling and all of the other many things of the season.......are we really keeping Christmas as the time set aside to observe the greatest night in the history of mankind: the time when God became a baby? The night that set the plan of redemption in motion?

 As we gaze at our Nativity scenes, do we see the shadow of a cross on the baby in the manger? Do we take time to truly honor the Reason for the season, or do we tend to forget about Him in our rush to get to the best Christmas sales and wrap our gifts for each other?

  I have spoken and even blogged about Keeping Christ in Christmas, and I want to do that. I want this year to keep Christmas as I never have, even if the difference is all inside. It is the day we set aside to observe the night that Emmanuel became a reality: God with us. It is the night salvation entered the world for whosoever believes. It is the night that God became a baby so He could grow up and die on a cross for the sins of the world.

  Indeed, those who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior should keep Christmas, and keep it better than those in the world. We know what it is all about.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Remembering Thanksgiving, Week #3

 I've had a rough couple of days and have been playing the "why me?" game with myself. Then today, I had good and bad happen, and the good came out of the bad in the form of an answered prayer. It is something I have been praying about for a month or so, and I had my doubts it would happen....... but it did. As I have been feeling thankful about it the rest of the day, it reminded me that is not all I have to be thankful for. It also reminded me that I should do my weekly post. So here is what I am thankful for in this third week of the month of Thanksgiving:

1) Answered - and unanswered prayers. It is so easy when God doesn't answer,  or doesn't seem to answer prayers to forget the ones that He has answered. I have heard of people writing prayers down and putting them in a jar, then taking them out at the end of the year and seeing how many God answered. That may be a good idea.

And I don't think we give God enough credit for not answering some prayers that would not have been the right thing for us.

2) Sundays. And that is the day, not the cold ice cream treat. I don't understand people who don't want to cease from unnecessary work and activities and just rest and go to church. Come on, a day God says not to work...... who wants to go against that?

I've had to work some Sundays in my life, and hate to do so. Sundays to me are church, a good Sunday dinner with family, a nap or walk, and more church in the evening. It is nice to put aside the unnecessary things for the day and relax and be in church.

3) Books and my love of reading. I have never felt I excelled at much in life, but I did excel at reading. I can remember reading above my level in my younger grades of school, and once I caught the love of reading; it never left. I still enjoy reading, and it has taken me many places I will never be physically able to go, and helped me learn a lot I would never have otherwise known.

4) Music. I love music. I rarely am in the car without a CD playing. And I am thankful for good music. As a teenager, I discovered Southern Gospel music and have listened to it ever since. I was never tempted to get into the heavy metal, rock, rap, or other kinds of music so many young people get into. I have never even had much desire for country music, though there is a small percentage of it that is worth listening to.

Over the years, my music tastes have spread out to include some praise and worship and some CCM music, but I still mainly listen to good old Southern Gospel. Music has been an important part of my life and has moved me, cheered me, convicted me, and brought me closer to God.

I am also thankful I learned to play the piano and have the ability to make music for my own entertainment. I wish I could play better, but it is good enough for me.

Friday, November 13, 2015

My last conversation with Shirley

   Due to something that happened to a family member of a volunteer at the hospital last week, something came to my mind that I had forgotten, or someone came to my mind. I remembered Shirley.

  As I thought back over the years to when I knew here, I found it difficult to put a time frame on when it happened. If I figure correctly, it must have been about 20 years ago.

  I was working in the bakery of Das Dutch Hause in Columbiana, Ohio.... for the second of three times I worked there. That is when I met Shirley. She was probably in her late 40's or early 50's and worked in the kitchen. There are some people who when you meet, you just hit it off and can tell they can take a joke...... and Shirley was one of those people. I had to go through the kitchen fairly often, so I ran onto her there or in the break room, or even outside throwing trash in the dumpster. And every time, we'd rag on each other. We'd joke, toss insults and other teasing remarks at the other, and always walk away laughing. She was a funny lady.

  I'll never forget the last time I saw her, or the conversation I had with her. She was sitting in the break room when I walked through, and I said hi and asked her how she was doing. She told me she had been having  bad headaches the last couple of days, but was good other than that. I remarked "I can't see why, you don't have anything in there." She laughed, made a funny remark, and I went on my way.

  I had a couple of days off, and came back a couple of days later to find out that Shirley was gone. Those headaches she had been having for a couple of days? Those weren't normal headaches, and she was dead before I came back to work.

  And I felt like a jerk. Here the woman was dying, though no one knew.... including her, and I came off with a funny remark about her head being empty. I can still remember telling my little sister how I felt, and she had some wise words. She knew Shirley, and knew what our relationship was like, and she said even if Shirley had known, she would have laughed and taken it because that is how we talked to each other. And maybe so.

  But all of these years later, it has come back to me. I don't know if Shirley was a Christian. I am pretty sure she wasn't...... and I never talked about Jesus to her. I didn't know she'd die unexpectedly, but should that matter? Shouldn't we talk about Jesus to everyone?

  We never know when we may have a last conversation with someone. Life is uncertain, and none of us know when our last day will come. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, yet we live as if we and everyone around us are going to live on this earth forever. We should make the most of every moment, and let everyone we meet know who we serve and that there is hope in Jesus Christ for them and the whole world.

Random thoughts on red cups, abused women, and more

 This isn't one of my attempted well thought out blog posts, but are just some random thoughts from Facebook posts, news stories, conversations, etc. that have come to mind.

1) Red cups: the drummed up controversy over Starbucks and their red cups. I think much ado has been made about nothing, and Christians are making fools of  themselves who are outraged and boycotting. Want to boycott? How about boycotting them every day for their pro-gay stance and their anti-Christian stance. But red cups with no winter design..... really??

2) Hillary Clinton has made herself the champion of abused women and say that every abused woman deserves to be heard and believed.... unless of course Hillary's husband is the guilty party.

3) It is pathetic how the media is treating Ben Carson. We conservatives were called racist for bringing true concerns about Obama out and for not voting for him because of his policies, yet they are doing far worse to Carson, and it is OK since he is a conservative and must be destroyed at any cost. Evidently not all black lives matter after all.

4) Although I am not on the Starbucks red cup crazy train, I do feel any store that doesn't allow their employees to say "Merry Christmas" and avoids all uses of "Christmas" in their Christmas sales should be boycotted........ and no, not a big scene, but just don't shop there. Someone said today that the advertising doesn't bother them if Christmas is left out..... but it should bother us. It is all part of the "let's not offend atheists and Muslims, but we can offend Christians" movement.

5) I think it is sad that most couples jump in bed so fast before the relationship develops. As a Christian, I believe all should wait til marriage for that anyway, but people are missing out on the simple joys of hand holding, talking about hopes and dreams. Sex becomes the focus of the relationship..... at least for the guy.

6) I love Sundays. People who don't want to sit back and take it easy, avoid unnecessary work and activities are really missing out. Come on, a day God says not to work...... who wants to go against that?!

7) Why do people care so much about the relationships of celebrities? I don't care who Blake Shelton is with now and weary of seeing it on my Facebook feed.

8) Benjy, my 11 year old "middle" nephew recently made my day. I was playing Mario Karts with them on my Wii U and he told me I was "the best uncle in the world." I thanked him, and he said "no other uncle would buy a Wii for his nieces and nephews to play." I told him I am sure there are others who have, and he said there aren't many. He's my new favorite.......

9) I have felt this tremendous sense lately that I am not living up to my full potential in life. That there is more for me than what I am doing. I feel trapped, and like I am just spinning my wheels and not going anywhere. How to get to where I need to be and doing what I should be doing, I have no idea...... other than to keep praying.

10) Lately I have been thinking about the people in my life outside of my family. The people I work with, the people I attend church with, the people who work at stores I frequent often enough that they know me by name....... OK - bookstores, that is where the employees know me by name.... :) - anyway, I have been thinking: If I had been born in some other state far away and never moved to Ohio, I wouldn't know any of them. The circles of acquaintance and friendship would consist of totally different people than they consist of now. Maybe God places the people in our lives, and it isn't just happenstance.

11) The attempted sex change by Bruce Jenner should never have been the news story it has been and still is...... and the conservative media is as much to blame as the liberal for posting so many news stories about this misguided and confused guy who does not deserve celebrity status, but pity.

12) I am not sure I like Devotionals or any other kind of book that is written from the viewpoint of God and has what He is supposedly saying. i.e. Jesus Calling. If you want to read what Jesus really said, read the Bible.

13) Some people only comment on my Facebook posts when they disagree with me.

14) In hindsight, maybe it was rude of me to laugh when the nurse suggested this morning that I sign up for Obamacare..........

15) I think our Americanized Christianity is far from the Christianity Jesus wants for us.

16) Isn't it kind of weird - and vain -  for guys to post shirtless pictures of themselves on social media?

17) There was a post on Facebook jokingly asking what Scripture verse someone could post with their newest selfie. "Vanity, all is vanity" is the one that came to my mind,

18) Relevant magazine posted an article about a man who is a Christian and produces horror movies. Has our Americanized Christianity become so weak and accepting of anything Hollywood throws at us that we not only have no problem with Christians watching horror movies, but also with Christians producing horror movies?

19) There is true racism in our country. I am not denying that, but there is so much false accusations of racism that it is like the boy who cried wolf. When real racism happens, the average American is just going to assume it is another attempt to find it where it doesn't exist.

20) I really need to find a job where I don't have to work major holidays. This year will be the second year in a row that I work both Christmas and Thanksgiving...... and I am very down and depressed about it already.

21) It shouldn't amaze me, but it it does amaze me that anyone with a shred of intelligence can think Hillary Clinton would make a good president, and it also amazes me that so many Americans have no problem with her lying, which has been proven, and the web of corruption that surrounds her.

22) If people didn't date around so much before marriage, maybe more marriages would stay together. If you're used to jumping ship in dating relationships every time things get stale or tough, what makes you think marriage would be any different?

23) Christians should not support or vote for any candidate who supports  the "right" to kill babies, much less have that as part of their very political platform.

24) Many people claim God is neither Democrat or Republican. That is probably true, but I do know He is 100% pro-life, which most Democrats are not.

25) Some day we are all going to stand before God, We won't wish that we had watched more movies, watched more football games, or other things we do to waste time. We will wish we had done more for God.