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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Do Christians have rights?

I have read many articles on the new law signed in Indiana that will help protect religious rights, including Christians not wanting to do anything to be involved in a gay wedding. Most of what I have read has been in support of the law, but I have read some that have not. One of those, which I cannot remember where I read it to link to it, made a statement that I completely disagreed with. The writer made the case that when we become Christians we have to die out to ourselves and deny ourselves.. Even of our rights.

  This country came into being because some brave men and women wanted freedoms, mainly religious freedoms, but more freedoms in general than they had in England. They went through a lot, sacrificed much, and many gave the ultimate - their lives - to secure freedoms we have held dear for a couple of hundred years. For the most part, these were Christian men and women going against the grain, going against the government and law of the land. What of this same logic had been theirs? That since they were Christians, they had no rights, so they should just do what the government said to do? If this logic had applied down through the ages, Christianity would cease to exist. A bold and insane claim? Not really. Think about it:

 If you truly believe Christians do not have any rights, and we lived that out, we would be easy targets of robbery, rape, and murder. A man comes in and wants to rape your wife or daughter..... if we have no rights, then he is free to do so, If someone wants the money in your checking account, you have to let them have it, for you have no rights as a Christian. They want to beat you up and even kill you, you have no right to defend yourself but must let them do it. Christians would eventually die out from abuse and lack of money and food.

 Those examples sound extreme and most would say they have nothing to do with gay weddings, but they do. If you make the bold statement that a Christian has no rights in these cases - no right to stand up for what they believe, no right to refuse to be involved in a wedding of two people committing an abomination in God's sight - then you must carry that through. And the writer of the article I read said we have no rights. He didn't specifically say just in these cases involving gay weddings, though that was his end game with making the point. That since we are to deny ourselves, we have no right to turn down involvement in a gay wedding.

  If the electric or phone company makes a mistake on our bill, any of us would call and have it taken care of. If someone crashes into our car, we will take the measures needed to make sure our car is fixed and we are not charged or faulted for something that was not our fault. If we are falsely accused of a crime, we will do all we can to clear our name, even if it means securing a lawyer. And it has been this way since the beginning of time. Even Christians have rights, and sometimes you have to stand up for your rights.

 Back in the days of the early church, the apostles were jailed, beaten, threatened, and told not to preach. They kept doing it, even though those in positions of power and government ordered them not to. They kept boldly defying the law and doing what they felt was right. Paul on at least one occasion, appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen. He is held up in Christendom next to Jesus. If he felt it right and necessary to appeal to the rights that he had, how can anyone dare suggest that we have no right to stand up to the authorities for OUR rights?

  There have been times throughout history that Christians were ordered to do things contrary to what they believed. Often, it would have just required silence and no actual participation in something that violated their beliefs, but many refused and paid a price. Should we be any different? The gay agenda is being forced on us and the they use words like discrimination, homophobia, and hatred to swing people their way and intimidate Christians to do what others have tried to do down the ages: shut up and do what the government and status quo wants. The church has stood up to tyrants, kings, dictators, sin of all kinds, and outright persecution, yet many think that homosexuality is the exception and we should lay aside our rights, our beliefs, convictions, and what God's Word has always said on the subject. As I said in a former post, homosexuality is not special or an exception. Yes, we will offend people by standing up to it. Yes, we will face hatred and persecution for not falling blindly in with what they want, but that has happened to Christians down through the ages. The Gospel has always offended. Christians have always offended and angered those who do not serve God, whether it be presidents, kings, gay people, or other sinners.

  And yet, for this one sin, we are expected to be different. Many in the church expect all Christians to toss aside what the Bible says, and embrace gay people and all they stand for and all they want. They want us to bake the cake, print the t-shirt, photograph the wedding, boycott anyone who dares stand against gay marriage and the gay agenda.

  We will never win any sinner by embracing their sin, by being silent, by stepping aside and letting them trample our rights under their feet and make a mockery of God's Word and God's institution of marriage. We will never win them by being spineless cowards, by tossing aside our rights and going with the program.

 I made a statement on Facebook that I am 100% positive about: That if our Constitution were being drafted today, it would never pass in its current form. All of the freedoms would either not be in it, or they would have exceptions. In its current form, too many would fear it might offend someone or discriminate. It would never favor Christians, as we are the only ones who can be discriminated against.

  Christians are the only ones standing in the way of total depravity in this country, and we are hated for it. If we cave to same-sex marriage and the gay agenda today, it will be something else tomorrow as we continue down the slippery moral slope we are on, If we give up our rights in the face of the pro-gay crowd today, we will be expected to give them up tomorrow when a new moral issue faces us.

  We need to love gay people. We need to reach out to them, share the Gospel, befriend them....... but we should never OK their lifestyle or approve in any way of it or their marriages, nor should we toss aside our rights and let theirs trump ours.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

WWJD about a gay wedding cake?

  The issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage has become a complicated one, and unfortunately a political issue. The church has messed up from the start, painting gay people as perverts on the same level as child molesters, and many Christians have no love or compassion for those dealing with that issue. That has led to multitudes of teenagers and adults hiding their struggles from their church, the very place we should all be able to find love and share whatever we struggle with - even THAT. It isn't much fun to grow up in the church hiding what you are, who you are...... hearing others ask for prayer for their struggle or issue, knowing if you shared THAT, you would be ostracized and feared. We do tend to shoot our wounded.

  Some people who struggle with same-sex attractions just keep hiding their struggle, never being able to confide in even their pastor or best friends. Some walk away from the church and find community and fellowship in the gay community and accept and give into their struggles. Some can't handle it and kill themselves. 

  But it is just another sin. Granted, there is a militant group that has an agenda who will not be happy until you aren't allowed to even say it is wrong, until they get no push-back from whatever they want, even encouraging kids in elementary school to experiment sexually with the same gender.

 So what is the church to do? Do as some have and toss out what the Bible says? No. One does any sinner any favors by ignoring their sin and letting them think they are OK. We need to love and try to win gay people to God.

  Many Christians feel Christian business owners must cave and bake cakes for gay weddings, print t-shirts for gay pride parades, etc, and loudly declare that is what Jesus would do, and that is what God would want us to do. Oh, we so easily decide what God would want us to do and what Jesus would do, even though the WWJD fad has faded into history. But how often do we take the Bible and study out what God wants us to do, and what Jesus would truly do? Even most Christians come to their own conclusions based on how they were raised, drawing from church and family teachings, but so rarely praying and using the Bible.

  Would Jesus truly bake the cake, print the t-shirt? Would He go to a gay wedding? He hung around sinners, but if the Pharisee was having an orgy, did He provide the food for it? Did He ever, and would He ever do anything that would participate and look like an approval of any sin? I have thought it out and here are my conclusions. Some would say I hate gay people, which is truly ironic for anyone who knows me well to come to that false conclusion. Some will just scoff at my conclusions because they just know what we should do, and it isn't what I and others are saying. But what if you're wrong?  And what will you do when you are faced to do something to affirm sin? This is what I believe, based on what I know of God and the Bible.

The issue is becoming more and more widespread. Christian business owners refusing to do certain things for gay customers and getting sued and vilified:

The Christian couple with a photography business asked to photograph a gay wedding

The Christian videographer asked to video a gay wedding

The t-shirt company owner asked to print t-shirts for a gay pride event

The inn owners who were asked to rent their facilities out for a gay wedding

The church who was asked to rent out their pavilion on the beach for a gay event

  Each of these people, and more like them, faced lawsuits, were vilified by the gay militants, media, and sadly many Christians. 

The state of Indiana just passed a law to protect religious freedoms in cases like these. And the country is in an uproar. People are vowing to boycott the state, and as usual there are Christians lining up against the idea of protecting the rights of Christians. They write articles, go on talk shows, write blogs and Facebook posts decrying Christians who dare refuse to be involved in a gay wedding. They join the ranks of those screaming homophobia and discrimination. They insist that anyone in those situations must do it, that as Christians we cannot refuse, and that Jesus Himself would bake the cake, photograph the wedding, perform the same-sex wedding ceremony (that will be next). But are they right? They claim to be. They claim we are wrong who disagree, and claim to have an inside track on what Jesus would want and what He would do were He in those same shoes.

  But are they correct?

  Gay people are not evil - well most of them. The militant gays have become the bullies, and I would say they border on being evil. But the average gay person is not for Christians' heads or out to seduce your kids. Many just want to be left alone and live their lives quietly, some of them staying "in the closet." They all don't march in parades and sue Christians. But they all have something in common: They are guilty of committing a sin the Bible calls an abomination and unnatural. They are in the list of people who will spend eternity in hell unless they turn to God and leave their sin behind them. It is in there. Believe me, I know those verses well.

  And we all want and need someone to love. I can't have that and live for God, but I still wish for it and empathize with the multitudes of gay people wanting relationships and marriage with the special one in their life. But it is still wrong. It is still a sin, no matter how much they love that person.

  We need to love those caught up in that sin, but never, ever give in to approving of it in any way.

  Here is a question: What makes the gay issue so special that we should give into it? 

Some of these same bakeries that will not make gay wedding cakes will also not bake divorce cakes or Halloween cakes. Where is the rage and cries of discrimination?

If someone asks to make a cake for the KKK, should they be forced to? My brother-in-law refused once to laminate a KKK card where he worked. If the same logic is applied, he should have had to do it, right? If you read that and are OK with him doing that, but not with someone refusing to do things gay-related, then you do not make sense. Sorry, but you don't.

  There are a couple of issues that make it different:
1) What society at large is OK with
2) Who has the loudest voice

  The divorcee' who is refused a cake is probably not going to make a big deal about it. The gay couple... they are just looking for an excuse to publicly shame a Christian and make a scene. They don't want tolerance, but total acceptance with no one to stand up to them or disagree.

  The KKK? Most people hate them, so they would never have a case. But if the same logic is applied, no one should have the right to refuse them. They are wrong, but so are the gay couples according to the Bible.

  Here's what bugs me the most about these situations:

Christians insisting we must capitulate and saying that it is  what Jesus would do. At the risk of doing what they are doing - putting words in Jesus's mouth and saying what He would do - I don't believe that He would.

But, I can't believe He would, or expect us to do it.

The Bible says homosexuality is a sin, an abomination, and unnatural. Even if the two people love each other, it is still a sin. So would a holy God make a wedding cake celebrating what He calls an abomination? Would He print t-shirts to celebrate a parade celebrating a sinful lifestyle, a parade where all kinds of sinful behavior and nudity is on display? Would He rent a building He owned to celebrate sin?

  I can't imagine Him doing that..... so why are other Christians so hard on we who are very most likely doing what Jesus might do? I can't even imagine Him attending some other weddings after what He said about marriage, but I won't open a can of worms and name THAT out.

  Even many Christians have made gay people a special case. Incest is starting to be more accepted, and a young girl recently married her father (in another country). Should a Christian bake a cake for THAT wedding? Pedophilia is also gaining some support among very liberal and radical psychologists. What if NAMBLA wants t-shirts printed or a cake baked. (NAMBLA is the North American Man-Boy Love Association).

  People can argue and try to weasel around it if they want, but you cannot say it is OK to refuse to do certain services for some people, and not gay people. Granted, pedophilia is illegal here in this country, but the NAMBLA organization exists here, and it is legal other places and has been legal at other times in history, but it could be legal here some day. So my point remains, will the same Christians who insist we must bake the cake, print the t-shirts, rent the building.... will they apply the same reasoning to other sins? You can't pick and choose.

  There seems to be the idea that if we want to win gay people, we have to surrender to them and do whatever they ask, but baking a cake or anything like that will not win them. 99.99% of them will just be happy they got a Christian to do what they wanted.

  The next step will be forcing ministers to marry gay couples. Already in England, a gay couple was suing to force churches to marry them. Many of them will not be happy until that happens. Already in one of the states where same-sex marriage is legal, judges who marry individuals have been told they have to marry same-sex couples. In a country where religious freedoms are rapidly disintegrating, it is only a matter of time until they demand it of ministers. And I am sure those who refuse will face the same backlash that these others are facing now.

  I read an excellent book on this subject recently, Compassion Without Compromise. We need to love the sinner, have compassion on them, but never, ever compromise. No gay person will ever be won by doing anything to reinforce their thinking that they are OK the way they are.

  As this country slips further down the slippery moral slope, more and more things will be accepted and celebrated that we never thought would be. Christians will face more and more instances where they will be asked to do things that violate their beliefs and freedoms. Today it is gay marriage and other gay related things. Next up is the transgender movement. Tomorrow it will most likely be incest. What will these Christians expect from us who side with the pro-gay marriage crowd? Will they side against us on those issues also?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Who is right? Calvinists, or Arminians?

I started this blog post a few weeks ago, but never posted it. I don't want to offend those of the Calvinist doctrine, although I believe they are wrong. However, I have had a rash of anti-Arminian comments made recently,and it isn't the first time. Even my best friend texted me this today: "I'll never understand why so many Calvinists seem to need to find fault with everyone who isn't Calvinist". Indeed. So I am going to discuss how I see Calvinism, and the problems I see with it. If you are Calvinist and can handle some criticism and honest questions, read on. If you're easily offended, go to the top of  your computer screen and click on the "X" in the right hand corner.......

I grew up in the Arminian theology, with Wesleyan and Methodist doctrine and beliefs. I was taught that according to the Bible, God loves the whole world, Jesus died for the whole world, and anyone who believes on Him, repents of their sin, and asks Him into their heart, can be a Christian. I was taught that Christians can fall away, that the Bible shows there is a danger of falling away and missing Heaven in the end, that Christians do not sin, at least habitually.

  I remember studying John Calvin in school, and most likely what Calvinism is all about, but never really understood it until I studied it in Bible college, as a wrong teaching.

  The first blatant Calvinism I ran onto was in a Christian fiction book. In it, a young man had strayed from his Christian upbringing and was involved with some criminals. The statement was made that his older sister wasn't worried about his soul, as it was eternally secure. I remember being horrified. I actually crossed out those words in the book, they bothered me so much.

  The next blatant Calvinism I ran onto was when I was working at a Christian bookstore. The subject of Ash Wednesday came up, and I asked why people do the ashes on the forehead thing. A coworker replied it is for the sins they have committed. I asked "what if you haven't done any lately?" I think I could have announced I am really a woman and got less shocked looks and reactions. That led to a discussion that I was outnumbered on.....my viewpoint being that Christians do not habitually fall.

  The subject would come up occasionally, so I did a scenario once that I have asked other Calvinists: say a young man becomes a Christian in his early teens. As he enters his 20's, life gets rough, he becomes discouraged, loses faith, and gives up. He gets into drugs and crime, and eventually becomes a serial killer. Do you mean to tell me God would let someone like that saunter into Heaven just because he became a Christian back in his teens. The reply I get? "Well if he goes that far, then he was never a Christian in the first place." And I always think "what a cop-out". The owner's older brother, who had a lifelong struggle with alcoholism, killed himself while I was working there, and she hardly looked sad. He was a Christian, in spite of the fact that he fell off the wagon, in spite of the fact he intentionally killed himself, she was sure he went to Heaven.

As the years have passed by, I have become more and more exposed to Calvinism. And I am just as convinced as ever that it is wrong. Just because scores of people believe something, does not make it right or correct.

There are drug addicts who once served God. There are guys on death row for murder who once asked Jesus into their heart. There are guys living the gay lifestyle who were - and some still claim to be - Christians. Some are honest and admit they couldn't handle the temptations and loneliness. Others claim the Bible doesn't really mean it is wrong to have sex with the same gender. There are atheists who were once Christians, but got disillusioned with God and walked away to not believe in Him. Some of the loudest atheist voices are people who once served God, but got disillusioned and walked away.
  And scores of other people who once served God, but gave up and walked away. It is unfathomable to me that people can walk away and live a life of sin, some of them actively fighting God and Christianity, and still have a home assured in Heaven because they had asked God to save them from sin years before. And it is unfathomable that God would pick and choose who He would offer salvation to, and as some Calvinists believe, send some, or all babies to hell. We Arminians believe babies and any children under the age of accountability go to Heaven....... and as I understand it, hardcore Calvinists don't believe babies go to Heaven. I even had a Calvinist admit that to me.

  We Arminians believe sin is a willful transgression of a known law of God, not an accidental sin we commit without even knowing it, not imperfection or mistakes, but a willful step we take to sin.

  Here are some problems I see for the Calvinist, none that have ever been answered well by a Calvinist:

1) If the lost sheep was in the fold and left it, but was still OK, why did the shepherd leave the 99 and go look for it? Does that story even hold meaning for a Calvinist? To the Arminian, it means if we walk away from God, we are lost, and He will come after us and bring us back to Him.

2) What does the story of the prodigal son mean to the Calvinist? If the son was lost - and the father said he was lost....he had been in the father's house, left the father's house and was lost, then came back to the father's house.... to an Arminian, that is a picture of a Christian who walks away from God and comes back. But if they died when they were lost..... they'd have been lost.

3) Why does the Bible say "he that is born of God does not commit sin, but IF he sins, he has an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ." If he sins.... sure sounds like it isn't the norm for Christians to sin, and that it is possible to live above sin.

4) We all believe God can save, deliver, and change the homosexual, the adulterer, the murderer, the thief to the extent that they quit their sin and don't do it anymore. If a murderer became a Christian and kept killing people, or if the thief became a Christian and kept on stealing, we would doubt their Christian experience, and rightly so.... so what sins can God not deliver from? What sins are OK for a Christian to do habitually? What sins can the blood of Jesus NOT deliver from? For if you believe we cannot stop from sinning as a Christian, then the fact has to stand that Jesus' blood can deliver from SOME sins, but not ALL sins.

  And here are some questions that I have, and have asked, but no Calvinist can answer them, or at least answer them well:

1) If God has already predestined who is going to Heaven and hell, why bother preaching? Why bother taking the Gospel to anyone, if they will be saved in the end if it is God's will?

2) If once you are saved from your sin, there is no way you can miss Heaven, why does the devil fight us so hard? And why are there so many warnings in Scripture about falling into sin if it doesn't matter?

3) The Bible says there is a way of escape from giving into temptation...... why bother putting that verse in there if we are going to do some sins every day anyway? And if we can't stop from sinning, is that verse even true??

4) Why would God say He loves the world and that whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have eternal life, if He only died for certain people?
5) If a friend or relative who is a Christian goes back into the lifestyle they left - gay, drugs, alcoholism, adultery, thievery, etc - why bother praying for them? Why bother trying to reach them if they are eternally secure?

6) Isn't Calvinism similar to Universalism?  One teaches that God picks and chooses who will be saved and we have no choice. The other teaches we will all be saved and have no choice.

7) How fair is it of God to put people in hell for committing the same sins Christians are committing?

Some verses that shoot holes in Calvinism:

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV): 
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (emphasis on God wanting all to come to repentance, and that none should perish)

1 John 2:2: And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

1 John 3: 4-7: Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
1 John 2: 1-6 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Romans chapter 6  -I don't want to paste the whole thing here, but the whole chapter is a good argument against Calvinism.
 I have seen people serve God, become discouraged, and walk away from God. Some have come back, some never have.
  And I could say more, but I honestly do want to present some questions and not just rant against a doctrine I don't believe in. I don't have all of the answers, and there are verses I am not sure how to interpret, but I'll admit that. I just believe Calvinism has too many holes in it, and it is not true to the Bible and God's love. I cannot serve a God who picks and chooses who He will save and who He will not save. My God will save any who come to Him in repentance. 

 I will close with this:
If at the end of time, I and other Arminians are wrong, there will be no lasting effects.
However, if Calvinists are truly wrong, there will be multitudes of people surprised at the judgement bar of God that yes, sinning does nullify your eternal security if you don't repent and change.

  Does that mean I believe Calvinists are going to hell? Not the ones who have nothing between their soul and their Savior. Not the ones who strive to live a sinless life.
  I had a conversation once with a Calvinist, and she said something that stuck with me. She said whether we are Calvinist or Arminian, we should all strive not to sin, and to be ready for Jesus when He comes back. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Interview with Kayla Woodhouse

A few years back, I read a couple of great Christian suspense novels by a mother and daughter duo. I became Facebook friends with the mother, Kimberly, and learned more about some of the physical difficulties her daughter, Kayla has faced. She is an impressive and godly young woman who seems to have been made stronger by what she faces, instead of bitter. I asked her a while back through her mother if she would do a guest blog for me, and she suggested an interview type post instead, so I emailed her some questions and let her answer them as she wished. Meet Kayla Woodhouse:

1) Me:  Kayla, would you tell a little about yourself – a bit about your family, how old are you, are you out of school yet, and what do you want to do “when you grow up?” 

Kayla: Hi, Mr. Mark and readers! I am eighteen years old, and the youngest in my family of four.  My brother and I are best friends (I dread the day he goes away for college—*sniffle*). We love to quote movies, hang out, and watch all the greats like I love Lucy, Gilligan’s Island, The Waltons, The Cosby Show and MacGyer. I graduated with my brother, Josh, when I was sixteen, and just recently started my first semester of college online. I’m not exactly sure what the LORD has planned for my future yet, but I know it’s special.  I feel called to ministry, but I’m not exactly sure what that means yet.

Me: I remember some of those shows.... it is great they still have an audience after all of these years.

2) Me:  You have co-authored a couple of books with your mother. What was that like, and are there any more books in the works from the two of you?

Kayla: I have indeed. My mom and I wrote two books together, No Safe Haven (written when I was twelve) and Race Against Time. It was an amazing experience! My mom and I work really well together (runs in the family—haha) and we had oodles of fun. My momma is currently working on two books—her second historical book written with Tracie Peterson (they have one out already, All Things Hidden) and a contemporary fiction novel. I’m working on a fantasy series for teens focusing on purity. We also have another series together (mom and I) we would like to write.

Me: I thoroughly enjoyed the two you and your mom co-wrote, and also the other she has written. 

3) Me:  I know a little about your physical problems you face. I know that for you, winter and cold weather is a blessing, and I hate cold and that miserable wet stuff. Is there a medical term for what you deal with health-wise, and can you tell a little about it and what it is like to live with it, and how important colder weather is to you? (I'm glad it is good for something!)

Kayla: I know where you’re coming from. A lot of people don’t like the cold or snow. Though, yes, I happen to be a fan—“the cold never bothered me anyway!” I have a disorder called Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy—or HSAN. Basically, I’m missing fibers throughout my nervous system. So certain information doesn't go to my brain—like sensitivity to heat or pain. Because of this (and other really scientific-sounding factors that are too complicated for me to comprehend) I cannot sweat and can’t get too hot—overheating will kill me. By the time my body realizes that it’s getting too hot, it would be too late. Fevers are really bad, as are hot climates and high temperatures. So I love the snow and building snowmen.

Me: There have been a few times when I complained about the cold and snow, that it is a blessing to you and your family. Made me feel a tad bit guilty, but not enough to shut up :)

4) Me: What are some of your favorite ways to spend time?

Kayla: Oh goodness, there’s a loaded question! Okay, deep breath… I love: hanging out with my family, studying the Bible, listening to music, watching Once Upon A Time, sketching, cooking, playing the cello, reading, quoting Lord of the Rings and other fabulous stuff with my brother, writing, making cards, scrap-booking, learning, taking photos, pinning things I love on Pinterest, swimming, and pretty much anything creative.

Me: Sounds like you keep busy enough, and that your talents go beyond writing fiction novels.

5) Me:  What style of music do you like, and who are some of your favorite singers? I am thinking one of mine might be on that list – The Gaither Vocal Band?

Kayla: I love many genres. I especially love: David Phelps (my favorite artist) and the Gaithers, Steven Curtis Chapman, Meredith Andrews, Moriah Peters, Casting Crowns, musicals (especially The Sound of Music, Cinderella, Wicked, Frozen, and Tangled), Silly Songs with Larry, The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens, movie soundtracks (Lord of the Rings—can I get an amen?!) and most praise and worship.

Me: David Phelps has got to be the most talented singer alive... I love his voice. And you have some great variety there in genre's. You won't get an Amen from me on movie soundtracks, but talk to my oldest niece..... she also plays the cello.

6) Me:  You don't have to answer this one, and can plead the fifth: what is your most embarrassing moment, or one of your most embarrassing moments? Or if you would prefer, what is the most interesting thing that has happened to you so far in life? (You can answer both!)

Kayla: Whew. Ummm… I’ve had so many embarrassing moments, I don’t know if I could narrow it down! Hmm…  Well, probably the most embarrassing “moment” was my high-school graduation. I was going through a rough time physically—the first time in my teen years—so my doctor put me on this strange medication a few days before. We’ll just say that it was an interesting evening.  Full of swimming people and lopsided vision.

The most interesting thing that has happened in my life so far… yikes, another tough one! It really depends on how you define “interesting.” From the outside view, the most interesting thing that has happened to me would probably be my getting published at a young age. It was awesome! From a personal point of view, I think the most interesting thing that has happened to me has been just growing up in general.

Me: I am jealous a bit. I have part of a book sitting on my computer, and you are published. And I am way past the age of 12 :)

7) Me: Outside of your mother's books, what do you like to read? Any favorite authors?

Kayla: I love Christian fantasy. My favorite series are: the Tales of Goldstone Wood (Anne Elisabeth Stengl), The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkein), The Dragonkeeper Chronicles (Donita K. Paul), The Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis) and The Wilderking Trilogy (Jonathan Rogers). My other favorite authors are: Tracie Peterson, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Darcie Gudger, Becca Whitham, David Platt, Randy Alcorn, Kay Arthur, Elisabeth Elliot, Eric and Leslie Ludy, Sarah Mally, and Francine Rivers. Though I love many, many more.

Me: You are a very well-read young lady. I applaud your reading choices. More young people need to read, it is nice to see one who does.

8) Me:  If my memory serves me correctly, you have a blog and have posted some great posts about modesty. Do you still keep up with it, and would you mind sharing the link?

Kayla: I do! When I became a teenager the LORD really placed it on my heart to reach out to other teenage girls and guys regarding purity. It’s on our website. Here’s the link: http://kimandkaylawoodhouse.com/kaylas-blog/#!/blog/ 

Just a side note: we've experienced technical difficulties on the posting from my end, so some of my recent blog posts are under my mom’s blog but I’m happy to say after much time and effort, it’s back up and running correctly .

Me: I have read some of what you have written, and have been impressed. You not only write well, but you have a great grasp on the subject of purity and dress.

9) What would you say is your goal in life?

Kayla: My goal in life is to serve the LORD wherever HE leads me.

Me: There is no better goal.

10) Me:  Are you dating yet, and what are some traits you want in someone you would marry?
I’m not dating anyone yet.  Some traits I want in the man I marry are:

Kayla: He loves the LORD most and first
Lives off of the daily bread of the Word
Manliness (as opposed to boyhood)
Stands up for truth
And just always encourages others in their faith

Me: Those are some great traits to look for, and so much better than just looking for a guy with a good job and good looks, though those are important. Whoever he is, he will be getting a great wife.

11) If you could sit down and talk to anyone you wanted, living or dead, who would you pick? And don't just say “the living one, of course” 

Kayla: Anyone? JESUS!
Other than the Savior of the world? Hmm, this list could go on for a while. A few would be: Gennifer Goodwin, Moses, Hugh Jackman, Ruth, Peter Jackson, Elisabeth Elliot, J. R. R. Tolkein and Kay Arthur.

Me: I never heard of the first (human), but those are some interesting choices. There are a couple who would be on my list also.

12) Me: Are there any questions you wish I'd have asked and didn't?

Kayla: I think this was an awesome article! Thank you for the opportunity.  If anyone has any other question feel free to shoot ‘em to me in a comment or comment on my blog. You can also find me on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/woodhouseauthor/ 

Me: Thanks for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it, and wish you the best in all you do.

Check out Kayla and Kimberly's website here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Live like you're dying

 I like some secular music, but the songs I listen to are few and far in between. First off, I don't listen to much secular music. I'd rather listen to Christian music, and am not much attracted to secular music. I don't even understand Christians who primarily listen to secular music.

 The few secular songs I do listen to, are country. Country gets a bad rap for a reason. There seems to be an overabundance of drinking and cheating songs. The old joke "what do you get if you play a country music CD backwards?" has some truth to it. (You get your girlfriend, your dog, your job, and your best friend back.) Yet, country music talks more about family, country, and God than other secular music. A popular country song says this:

You're not supposed to say the word "cancer" in a song.
And tellin' folks Jesus is the answer can rub 'em wrong.
It ain't hip to sing about tractors, trucks, little towns, and mama, yeah that might be true.
But this is country music and we do.

  The second verse goes on to add this:

And if there's anyone that still has pride and the memory of those
That died defending the old red, white, and blue,
This is country music and we do

  There are a surprising number of country songs that have religious themes and actually mention God, Jesus, and/or church. Those are the country songs that I like, not the drinking and cheating songs... I don't need those. And one of my favorite country songs is the song "Live like you were dying" by Tim McGraw. The song is about a guy who gets some bad health news, and goes on to do the things he wants to do and should do.

  I've been thinking about the song lately, and have been listening to it. It hits me hard every time I hear it. I am dying. You are dying. The second we pop out of the womb, we start dying, technically the second we are conceived.

  None of us know when our last day will be. I am in my 40's, so realistically I could have 30-40 years left, or I could drop dead tomorrow. I could drop dead before I finish this blog post. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

  So as the song suggests, we should live like we are dying.... because we truly are.

  I don't hold with the Calvinist doctrine that once you become a Christian, you will enter Heaven no matter what you do, no matter how much you sin.....but neither do I believe salvation is as easy to lose as some preachers have made it sound. That said, we should all live for God as if our next breath would be our last, or as if Jesus were to return before we blinked again. What state would we want Him to find us in? Would we want to be sinning as He returned, or when we breathed our last?

  The above statement is true, but we live here on earth. We can't be evangelizing 24/7. We need to sleep, make a living, relax, and live. We should do as much for God as we can, and that can depend on where we are, our gifts or talents, and a multitude of other things.

  I work with a man in his early 60's who loves to get overtime. There have been weeks where he worked more overtime than his regular 40 hours. No one is allowed to work more than two shifts in a row, or I am sure he'd do it. I am sure he has a nice paycheck, but what kind of life is that? No time for family, no time for fun, relaxation.

 I wouldn't mind more money, but what good is it if you have no time to live? I enjoy reading, spending time with family, playing with my nieces and nephews. Time is slipping by so quickly. I can't believe the oldest is 19 and the youngest is 8. If I blink, the 8 year old will be graduating from high school.

 Most of us have regrets. It is rare for someone to have none. I have regrets, but I don't regret spending time and money on family and friends.

 A few weeks ago, I took a step into uncharted territory. I had been feeling God's prodding to approach a young guy at church and take him out to eat and get to know him a bit. As outgoing as I am, doing something that is really difficult for me, but I did it. It was good for me, and he seemed to enjoy it. Things like that are the things that matter. Spending time with people, showing people you care, praying for people.

  If any of us were told we had a certain amount of time to live, I believe there are some things most of us would do:

1) Get our spiritual live in order.

2) Spend lots of time with family and friends

3) Enjoy life

4) Do things on our bucket list, if we have one

5) Forgive

6) Write

  And yet, as I said, we are all dying. We should do these things daily. Don't squander time and money. Sure, save money for emergencies, and don't go into debt, but come on.....you may die and someone else will spend that money. Take that vacation, read that book, forgive, enjoy life. We only get one, and then we die. We should all spend whatever time we have wisely. Don't give your life to your job, or to sinful habits. Give it to God, family, and friends. Love and enjoy life.

He said I was in my early 40's,
With a lot of life before me,
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days, lookin' at the x-rays,
Talkin' 'bout the options and talkin' 'bout sweet time.
Asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end.
How's it hit ya, when you get that kind of news.
Man what ya do.
And he says,

I went sky divin',
I went rocky mountain climbin',
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I've been denying,
And he said someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin'.

He said I was finally the husband,
That most the time I wasn't.
And I became a friend a friend would like to have.
And all the sudden goin' fishing,
Wasn't such an imposition.
And I went three times that year I lost my dad.
Well I finally read the good book,
And I took a good long hard look at what I'd do
If I could do it all again.
And then.

I went sky divin',
I went rocky mountain climbin',
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I've been denying,
And he said someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin'.


Monday, March 9, 2015

50 shades of purity

The Oscars were just televised a couple of weeks ago. I didn't watch them, but saw enough about them on my Facebook feed to know I was better off. The women attending seemed to be having a contest to see who could show the most of their breasts and wear the ugliest dresses while doing so. Many of the same men and women that got shiny awards, are the same ones  who mock Christian values and help indoctrinate Americans that sex outside of marriage is normal, homosexuality should be celebrated, that more nakedness is good, Islam is good, and who reinforce the idea that the freakier you look, the cooler you are. The host of the awards, Neil Patrick Harris, appeared on stage in his underwear, which didn't leave much to the imagination.....why would any Christian want to watch that?

  Just a week earlier, the S&M/pornographic movie 50 Shades of Grey released in theaters, a supposedly harmless movie, which has already resulted in one young man raping a girl and reenacting a scene from the movie. Besides the fact that the movie degrades women and gives the idea it is OK to force women into acts they don't want to do, the movie borders on pornographic, and should have an XXX rating. And scores of people flocked to view it who profess to follow Christ.

  Ten years ago, another movie released in theaters. The first movie of its kind to be shown in theaters, Brokeback Mountain. A tale of two cowboys who have a gay relationship. At least one of the men was married, so not only did the movie and Hollywood celebrate a movie about a gay relationship, they celebrated a movie where a man committed adultery to have that relationship/affair.

  Christians were upset about the movie, and rightly so. Some churches boycotted theaters that showed the movie. I wonder how many of those same churches boycotted theaters that showed 50 Shades of Grey...... And I wonder how many churches boycotted theaters that show movies where there is adulterous relationships and sex outside of marriage relationships. Well, I don't wonder about that one. The answer would be none.

  You cannot be a Christian and be having sex with someone of the same gender. Period. Hollywood and many churches and Christians are tossing out and ignoring what the Bible says about that, but it is still true. People engaging in homosexual behavior will go to hell if they don't stop and surrender their lives and desires to Jesus.

  But the same holds true for heterosexual people. The same Bible that condemns homosexuality, also condemns fornication, which is any sex outside of marriage, and adultery. People committing those sins will also go to hell, not Heaven, and cannot be a Christian if they are doing those sins. Hollywood and the church long ago glossed over those sins, especially sex outside of marriage. No one is shocked or bothered, and it isn't unusual for professing Christian couples to have sex before marriage anymore. Even among Christian teenagers, the idea of staying a virgin until you're married is a joke. The idea that teens are going to have sex anyway has crept into many churches, brought on largely in part by Hollywood.

  Author and pastor David Platt made a great point about our selective morality.... condemning homosexuality while viewing other immorality. He put it this way:

"we’re all bent towards sexual deviation and we all realize this. The second reason this is so important is because it’s not just homosexual sin that skews the picture of Genesis 1 and 2. It is heterosexual sin as well. I represent the class of people that is responsible for the vast majority of sexual wrongdoing in the world: male heterosexuals, and I, and every heterosexual person, we would be wise to stop looking at the speck in other’s eyes when there is a mammoth log in our own eyes. It makes no sense to be watching TV and to see footage of same-sex marriages in California, to roll your eyes or shake your heads and flip the channel only to stare uncritically at adultery in a drama or to laugh at the trivialization of sex in a sitcom or to gaze upon the seductive images that dominate just about every realty TV show and to sit and watch advertisements that are virtual prostitution as people sell us, as followers of Christ, their products based on their appeal to our sexual desires. This makes no sense. This is why these Scriptures apply to every single one of us in this room. Are our sins as heterosexuals acceptable because they’re of the majority? Absolutely not, we are all born with a heart of pride and we are all, all of us, bent toward sexual deviation and as a result we all need the Gospel, every single one of us needs the Gospel because we’re all guilty, all of us and we need to remember these things."

  I wasn't exposed to much TV or movies until I became an adult, and then was careful about the movies I watched. I can still remember when I watched the popular "You've Got Mail" and feeling a sense of uneasiness that the female lead was living with her boyfriend. Sound weird, prudish, naive'? Maybe, but up to that point I hadn't watched much, and what I watched either didn't make shacking up obvious, or it wasn't in the movie at all.

But we get used to it. After you see it all of the time, and everyone starts doing it, you get desensitized to it and it seems less wrong to you, or less obvious that is is wrong. Hollywood helped do it with premarital sex and adultery, especially via soap operas, and now they are doing it with homosexuality.

 I looked up some statistics on gay characters on TV shows. The most recent that came up was from 2013. There were 35 series regulars on cable, and an addition 26 recurring gay characters on cable. This is not an accident. Hollywood has an agenda to make homosexuality more normal and accepted. They did it already with affairs, divorce, sex outside of marriage, and a multitude of behaviors, fads, etc. that were once considered weird and even taboo....... but thanks to Hollywood, no one blinks anymore.

 Last week,  ABC Family aired on one of their shows 2 13 year old boys kissing. Ironic, given the "family" part. Someone stated that if you were caught with pictures of minor boys kissing on your computer, you'd be in trouble, but since it was on a TV show, the gay lobby is jumping for joy that they got another taboo on TV.

  TV in and of itself is not evil, but Hollywood is evil and godless. I have read reliable sources that tell of minor boys being used sexually by adult males, and most likely minor girls also, but everyone looks the other way, because money and fame are more important than morality and doing the right thing, even if that right thing is protecting kids. And these people dare to tell us how we should live, who we should vote for?

 The Bible says in Psalm 101:3 "I will set no wicked thing before my eyes." Other versions render it better:
"I will not look with approval on anything that is vile" NIV
"I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar." NLT

  A couple of translations render it "I will not set anything worthless before my eyes."

    Philippians 4:8 says "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

   Do we really apply these verses to our lives? Do we put what we watch, what we read, what we let our eyes set on through the filter of what is pure, honorable, not wicked or vile? Does 50 Shades of Grey go through those filters? Absolutely not. Does any show celebrating homosexuality, adultery, fornication go through those filters?

  I did a blog post a while back, Addicted to "E", with the "E" standing for entertainment. There is nothing wrong with clean and wholesome entertainment, and we all need relaxation and fun...... but so much of America, and sadly all too many of those who claim to follow Jesus, have become so addicted to entertainment - TV, movies, music, amusement parks, and more, that we blindly go along and watch what the world watches, go where the world goes, listen to what the world watches. Then we wonder why our churches are shallow, why we never reach anyone for God, why we have so little time for God.

 My supervisor at work gets on a kick once in a while where he will start listing movies and ask if I have seen this one or that one. The ones he has watched that I watch are few and far between......because I don't watch many movies, and most of the ones I watch are either Christian or family oriented. I read far more than watching movies. But even there, I have to be careful. Reading can take the place of what I should be doing. Not all books, even on the Christian market, are pure and wholesome.

  There were many who called us who stood up against the 50 Shades movie "judgmental" and thought we should mind our own business.... but come on, a movie about a young girl being taken advantage of by a sadistic man...... is that something anyone concerned with morality and living for God should see? Absolutely not.

  Just as it is hard to swim upstream, living pure in today's culture is difficult. It is very difficult. It isn't considered normal, and those who try to live pure, who save sex for marriage and avoid movies like 50 Shades are mocked and called judgmental. We don't need to watch things, go places, or do things that will make it more difficult to remain pure. One can hardly go outside in warm weather without having to battle what your eyes see. So why unnecessarily put things in front of our eyes to cause us problems? We don't have to see the latest movie. We don't have to see ANY, for that matter, though I am not saying Christians can't..... our viewing habits should be a lot different from non-Christians though.

 Hollywood does not have our best interests at heart. They celebrate immorality. They mock Christian values, and yet Christians help support their godless and immoral movies and TV shows.

  It isn't just pornography that will separate us from God and destroy lives and marriages. It is immoral TV shows and movies.

  If everyone who professed the name of Jesus would stand up and boycott every movie and TV show that no Christian should watch, I firmly believe Hollywood would have to change the way they do things....... but too many of us won't do that. We are addicted to entertainment, and too calloused and used to immorality that we keep watching whatever Hollywood comes out with. And all along, the Bible is still saying "I will set no wicked thing before my eyes", and to think on whatever us pure, lovely, and of good report. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's not easy being single


Valentine's Day was just a few weeks ago, and I made it unscathed as a single, not having anyone special, and knowing I never will. Buying cards and giving them along with some $$ inside to my 6 nieces and nephews made it a little easier, but it is still rough being single on Valentine's Day.

  Someone posted something I found very offensive on V-day, and it has bugged me ever since, I didn't comment, but this blog post is a result of that post. It was this meme:

  The person who posted it had a parent die 6 months previous to V-day, so they have reason to miss a parent. But it is insensitive and rude. It infers that if you are single on the day when it is all about being with someone special that you love, you have no reason to feel bad since there are people who are missing a parent on Mother's Day or Father's Day. They have a right to feel bad, but I don't. On a day that they celebrate love with their special one they love, I have no right to feel left out, for in a couple of months, they will have a day that everyone celebrates and they will feel a sense of loss.

 Yes, there is a difference in losing someone and not having someone in the first place, but there is still loss, sorrow.

  I am a guy, but I tend to be more emotional than most men, but I am not like most men,. If I were, I would be married and have kids.

I avoid weddings because I hurt inside, knowing that can never be me standing there as a woman walks down the aisle to share her life with me.

I tend to avoid romance books for the same reason.

I have cried myself to sleep from the loneliness and desire to have someone to love.

I cry in movies and books when people kiss or there is some kind of romantic moment.

  I can still remember the day I boxed up the dating books I had bought in hopes of someday needing them, and sitting on the floor as tears rolled down my face, feeling a strong sense of loss.

  It is a world for couples, for lovers. Commercials are aimed at people in a relationship. Restaurants are geared for more people in a party than one. Holidays emphasize a time for family, especially your own.

  Single people have a strong desire to love someone, and be loved. They feel attraction, whether to the opposite sex or the same sex. They have the urge to be sexual with someone special they love. That stuff doesn't just shut off when you are single, even when you resign yourself to a life of singleness.

  And there are reasons people are single. Some just can't meet the right guy or girl. Some are so scarred and hurt from something that happened, they can't get that close to someone. Some struggle with attractions to the same sex, and though some are able to overcome that enough to marry and love someone of the opposite sex, some cannot. Some, usually women, never have anyone ask them on a date, much less to marry. Some have a deformity or illness that makes dating and marriage highly unlikely, or not at all likely.

  But most, maybe all of the people in all of those scenarios have something in common: They wish they were not single. They wished they had someone special to love and whose life revolved around them. They wish they didn't feel so out of place in a couple's world.

  Some can't handle it. Some Christian young men and women lower their standards and date someone they know is not God's choice. Some give up on finding someone in the church, and walk away from God and pick a spouse over God. Some weary of fighting attractions and desires they never asked for for the same sex, and give up and jump into the gay lifestyle. Some kill themselves our of loneliness and the desire for love.

 It isn't easy being single. It is lonely. It gets old. I feel I don't fit in anywhere. And the devil fights. If I just gave in, I could have someone to love...... if I ignored what the Bible says, I could be happy. Really? Can anyone be happy living contrary to what God says?

  Don't knock the single people in your life for feeling left out on V-day, or any other day of the year. Instead, pray for them. There may be reasons you don't know why they are single. They, like me, may joke about not wanting to get married, while wishing with everything inside of them that they could marry.

  This is not a post to make those who read it feel sorry for me. It is an attempt to show married or dating people that not all singles want to be single, and some have reasons they cannot marry. It is an attempt to raise awareness that it isn't easy being single. Oh, there are some advantages, and the Bible even says we are better off to stay single. Jesus was single, and I like to point out once in a while that when we pray, we are praying to a single adult..... but overall, it is rough and difficult. Satan fights us all, but I believe he fights singles in different ways, and has different temptations for us.

  In Heaven, there will be no marriages or anyone given in marriage. We will all be single up there. So I guess we singles have just got a head start on the rest of you.