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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

To tip, or not to tip?

I listen some to Sean Hannity and usually agree with him, though I think he tends to be a bit too argumentative. He has been bringing out a lot of bad stuff about Hillary Clinton lately, and there is a lot to be brought out. However, last week he told a news story about her that I totally disagreed with and didn't think it merited making note of, or - horror of horrors, I am about to defend Hillary Clinton - or did I think she did wrong in the one thing he focused on.

  So what did she do? Well, it is actually what she DIDN'T do. She was in a Chipotle Restaurant and did not leave a tip. Now before you side with Sean against poor misunderstood Hillary, let me describe Chipotle in case you have never been in one. It is not a sit down restaurant. It is basically a burrito version of Subway. You step up and place your order - and I think pay for it. I was only there once. Then you go down the line telling what you want on it, with a few different people helping to assemble your burrito. You go and get your own drink, sit down, and eat your large and overstuffed burrito.

 So if you side with Sean, who says he tips when he goes there, who should you tip? Should you tip the person who takes your order? Or one of the 3 or 4 people assembling your burrito? Or just the one who hands you your burrito and cup? Is it fair to single out one of them, or should you tip all of them? If so, the already over-priced burrito suddenly becomes very, very expensive.

  I have a sister who is a waitress, and my other sister was a waitress for several years also. I know from them how important it is to tip waitresses. Most, possibly all waitresses. are paid a very small amount that is way below minimum wage. They make most of their money in tips. I tip pretty well. Yesterday, I was out to eat with a friend and left a $4 tip for an $18 bill. It would have been $5 if she had been more prompt about my drink refill.......

  If a waitress does a lousy job, I may leave very little, but that has rarely happened. I once forgot to leave a tip and I felt so bad, I stopped off the next day and left it for the waitress. (My sisters trained me well). And I believe Christians should tip and tip well, unless you have really bad service. And if you are a Christian, never, ever leave a religious tract unless you tip the waitress extra well, and were the model of Christian behavior.

  But never have I left a tip at a food establishment that did not have waitresses. Is that wrong of me? I don't believe it is. People at those establishments are getting paid a regular wage and do not have to make their money from tips. And who would you tip? Granted, some restaurants have a tip jar sitting out that I assume gets split between all of the workers.

  I will make a confession here. When I am at a non-waitress establishment and there is a tip jar sitting out, it irritates me. To me, it is begging. The people are getting paid. I am already paying more than enough for my food..... why would I want to put money into a jar to reward them for doing a job they are getting paid to do?

  Confession #2: When I see those jars, I want to badly to drop a note in saying something like "Here is your tip: don't walk under ladders", or "Your tip is: It is rude to beg money." I know, that is so uncharitable and un-Christian of me. But give me credit..... I have never done that. :)

  People tip their barber or hairdresser, cab drivers, and about anyone they run into. Well, except floral delivery guys. I helped a friend out on holidays and other days she needed help, and I think I got two tips out of many deliveries I got..... so why should a fast food employee get  a tip if floral delivery guys rarely get one?

  And shouldn't I get tips? I work half of my day at work in the Emergency Room waiting room, guiding people to the right rooms to visit relatives, taking patients back in wheel chairs, and helping people in other ways. The other half of my day is spent greeting people, pushing people in wheel chairs, and giving directions. If a fast food restaurant worker deserves a tip for what he does, why shouldn't I deserve a tip? (Well. other than the fact that I wouldn't be allowed to accept any)

  And why shouldn't the cashier at a store get a tip? If you insist, like Sean Hannity, that a fast food worker should get a tip for making your food or handing it to you, then where do you draw the line at people you don't tip? And is it fair to tip Chipotle or McDonald's workers and not tip the Walmart cashier? The last Walmart cashier that waited on me (yesterday) put my bags in my cart for me.... shouldn't she warrant a tip just as much as the Chipotle workers?

  This is my opinion, and I am allowed to have one: I feel all of this tip stuff comes from the sense of entitlement that so many have. Everyone feels they are owed. They deserve certain things. They deserve more. So the tip jar was born. And bleeding hearts are suckered into putting money in and helping spoiled young people get more money for doing a simple job a monkey can do. OK, maybe a monkey couldn't do it. I wasn't fast enough for fast food, although that bad experience was almost 30 years ago.......

 Now this is a free country, so if you want to tip the Chipoltle workers, the mechanic, the construction worker holding his stop sign, your mailman, the Walmart greeter and cashier, your dentist, doctor, nurse, optometrist..... and the list goes on.... feel free to tip whoever you want. Since this is still a (somewhat) free country, I will ignore the evil tip jar and enjoy my food that I am already paying too much for, and save my tips for the people who truly need tips: waitresses. And if the day comes that all restaurants add the tip on and take that freedom from me to tip what I want to tip..... well then I may protest. But until then, I shall tip my waitresses well when they do good service. Especially if they watch those drink refills.

 And Sean Hannity,,,,, leave Hillary alone with the lack of tip at Chipoltle. She has plenty of other scandals to cover, you don't need to make a big deal about a non-scandal.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Born gay, or not born gay?

 I did a blog post on this a little over a year ago on this subject, but something in the news today has prompted me to blog about it again. I can't remember everything I wrote before, so I may repeat myself.

  Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio was on CBS (or one of those conservative-hating networks), and Bob Scheifer decided to play the game liberal media people like to play with a conservative. The "let's trap him with a gotcha' question." He was asked what all conservatives will be asked, but not liberals - their stance on same-sex marriage. Rubio said he does not believe it is a right and does not support it, but does not believe homosexuality is a choice, and that people are born gay.

  Immediately, Rubio ceased to become a possible vote for many conservatives. I am already getting emails blasting him for his comments. I personally like Rubio a lot, though I am not sure he has been as tough on immigration as he should, but I wouldn't have to hold my nose to vote for him as I did for McCain and Romney.

  But what about his comments? Is he correct, and should that disqualify him as a conservative candidate?

  I'll tackle the first part first. Is homosexuality a choice? I believe 100% no for most people who have same-sex attractions or identify as gay. I do believe some are swayed to try gay sex who normally wouldn't, but there is such a push on to encourage kids as young as Kindergarten to experiment sexually with the same sex that there are people identifying as gay who would never have been so if they had not been persuaded to try it.

  But on the flip side of the coin, there are tons of people who did not choose it. They either gradually or suddenly realize they aren't attracted to the opposite sex, but to those of the same gender. They don't wake up some morning and think "hey, I am tired of being straight. I am going to be gay."

 So if people don't choose to be gay, what makes them gay? I have read many arguments from liberal and conservative viewpoints, and I lean towards believing that no one is born gay. I believe outward influences that I won't go into factor a lot into it. I do, however believe people can be born with a predisposition to homosexuality, and it depends on certain things in his or her life if they will "turn gay" or not. People are born with a predisposition to be an alcoholic and other behaviors, so why not homosexuality?

  Here is where the rub comes in. The pro-gay and liberal crowd want it to be true that people are born gay, because they feel that will make it OK and normal. Christians and conservatives on the other hand, don't want to believe people are born gay because it will give the other side more ammunition.

 But does it matter? Let's say for a minute that the pro-gay crowd are correct, and that people are born gay. Does that make it OK, normal? Does that mean the Bible is wrong when it says it is a sin? Does that mean the church and Christians need to throw out everything we have ever believed about it being wrong and cave in to the pro-gay agenda?

  A resounding no to all of the above. We are all born sinners. There is no automatic desire to do what is right and good. A baby is selfish and demanding from day one. Once a child learns to talk, it is automatic for them to lie and disobey. Every human is born with the automatic built in bent towards sin. So does that make all sin OK and normal since we are born desiring to sin? Of course not. And even if they should some day prove that people are indeed born gay, that will not erase what God has said about it. It will not suddenly make it OK and normal. So someone may be born with the attraction to the same sex and with the desire to have sexual relations with the same sex.... so what. Welcome to the human race where it is natural to want to sin, to be attracted to things we should not do and should not have.

  Doing the right thing, serving God, and denying ourselves to do God's will and desires and not our own is not normal. It isn't easy. You have to go against the grain. You have to say no to sin and things that could lead to sin......but gay people think they are the exception to that. They don't have to take up a cross and deny themselves, for since they can't flip a switch on their attraction, then it must be OK with God and the Bible is wrong. But they are wrong. Any Christian who is genuinely serving God is swimming upstream against the current, against popular opinion, against society and the world.

  Christians knock the gay people who claim to be Christian, yet refuse to let go of their gay identity and all that goes with the gay lifestyle..... yet our churches are full of people who don't want to deny themselves of much of anything to be a Christian. They don't want to give up their identity to put on the mind of Christ. They don't want to give up their pet sins and things that lead to sin..... but they expect the Christian who has same-sex attractions to do so.

  Born gay or not, it doesn't matter. We are all born sinners. We all have to make a choice: our will or God's. We have to choose to live for Him, or live for self. We all have to lay aside any weight or sin that may hold us back and run the race. Sure, it may seem unfair and very difficult for those who experience same-sex attraction to lay that aside and live for God, especially in today's world where gay is celebrated and normalized...... even by many Christians and churches...... but it is still wrong, and must be conquered and given up with God's help.

  As for Marco Rubio..... he may be wrong and he may be correct, but he still doesn't support same-sex marriage and seems to believe homosexuality is wrong.... so he still has my vote.

A great post I ran across after I wrote this that says some of what I tried to say: Gay Person, God wants to give you something far better than heterosexuality.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

And Jesus said "laminate two KKK cards"

The year was around 2003. My brother-in-law Paul, who is now a pastor, was working at a Mom and Pop hardware store right here in the small Ohio town I live in. One service they offered was laminating. One day a man came into the store and wanted something laminated. It was a KKK card. Yes, the Klu Klux Klan. I was shocked to find out there were any of them around here, in my small town of 2768 people. My brother-in-law refused to do it, and as far as I know, the man just left.

  But should Paul have said no? Did the man not have the right to have his KKK card laminated? After all, Paul has no rights as a Christian. And it was his chance to show this man love by laminating his card, even though Paul is against the KKK and feels they are biblically wrong.  Now the man will feel all the more Christians hate him, and he will never become a Christian. All because Paul refused to laminate his KKK card.

  And Paul disobeyed the words of Jesus. In Matthew 5, Jesus said if a man asks you for your tunic, to also give him your cloak.... so by Jesus' own words, Paul should have laminated TWO KKK cards for the man and not refused him.

  Anyone agree with me? Sounds ridiculous. It did happen though, but replace the KKK card with a gay wedding cake or photography. There is an article going around the internet and has been shared on Facebook by a couple of my deluded friends that use that passage of Scripture to insist that if a Christian baker is asked to bake a cake (or do some other service for a gay wedding), that he should make TWO wedding cakes, because that is how that Scripture would translate and apply in this situation.

  But would the woman who wrote it feel the same if it was a KKK card? Or something else as repulsive and wrong?

  I have said before I know how rough it is to grow up in the church and be afraid to admit you're struggling with same-sex attractions. The more conservative churches still need to work on how they relate to the issue so that people in their own congregations don't live in fear of what will happen if their Christian brothers and sisters find out their secret. We need to stop the gay jokes, the fear that gay is contagious. We need to get rid of the idea that gay people are child molesters. Too many evangelical churches still have a long way to go on the issue.

  However, churches and Christians can go to far with it. The act of homosexuality is still a sin. One the Bible calls an abomination and unnatural. The same Bible says homosexuals will go to hell... among other sinners, but this is the sin of the day that is getting defended and that is running rampant over anyone who stands in the way.

  Homosexuality is not the worst sin. On one level, sin is sin. Any sin will keep us out of Heaven, whether it be lying, stealing, or a sexual sin. But the Bible indicates that sexual sins are worse. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says to feel sexual immorality, for other sins are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually sins against their own body.

  The church dropped the ball long ago, Divorce is a touchy subject, I have friends and relatives who are divorced and remarried, and I love them and don't hold it against them, nor do I doubt their Christianity. What they have done is between them and God. However, even if you take what Jesus said very liberally, the only reason to divorce is adultery (though abuse is a reason too), and if - a big IF - there is any remarrying to be done, it would be the same - adultery..... but Christians divorce and remarry as often as the world anymore and the church winks at it. Virginity and celibacy for single people have become a joke even in the church. Is it any wonder so many Christians and churches are doing the same with homosexuality..... acting like it isn't a sin or a big deal?

  But it is a big deal. Ever stop and wonder why this sin has become so much of an issue and powerful lobby? There really is no other sin that is defended so hotly. There is no other sin that even other Christians are demanding we cave to and not risk offending the sinner. Speak out against drugs, stealing, smoking, alcoholism... even abortion, but don't offend the gay people.

  And no other group of sinners is demanding total surrender. I just read an article from the New York Times saying that Christianity must be made to embrace the gay lifestyle. That should worry even you people who claim we need to bake the cake.

 Why this sin? What is so special about it to cause some Christians to claim we have no rights and must do whatever a gay couple wants for a wedding? Why are these same Christians not up in the air about other sinners?

 I am against slavery and racism, but I am also against same-sex marriage, and for the same reasons - as a Christian, I believe both are wrong. So how can we say Christians have to do something for a gay wedding, but not do something for a KKK member.. or some other issue we are against?

  Incest is becoming more accepted, and a recent news story told of a girl who is going to marry her father - she may have by now - and move to New Jersey and raise children with him. What if SHE asks a Christian to bake her wedding came, photograph the wedding...... it is a tad bit hypocritical and a double standard to say Christians have to do the service for a gay wedding and not an incestuous one.

 And if we keep sliding down this slippery moral slope we are on, we could face other challenges in the future. There is a move on to normalize pedophilia. It is legal in some countries and has been in the past in other countries.. if it is legal, should a Christian bake a cake for the wedding of an adult male and an eight year old boy? What about an adult male and an eight year old girl..... child brides are legal among some Muslims, and as fast as the Muslim population is growing here, it could happen here.

 One might scoff, but whoever thought the gay agenda and lobby would be what it is today? That you are the target of hate and destruction for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding...... we would never thought it possible even 25 years ago, but we are here.

 We have made morality and sin a buffet. What we dislike the most, we avoid. What we like, we pick. The same Christians insisting we must bake the cake, print the t-shirts, etc, don't feel that way about the KKK card or other issues that might pop up. But if you are going to be consistent, you must feel that way. You have a double standard and are a tad bit hypocritical to expect it in one situation, and not another. You need to stop picking up stones with the liberals and gay militants to stone your Christian brother who won't bake the cake.

  I am concerned about the direction our country is headed in. Homosexuality isn't the only issue, we are morally bankrupt in general, but the gay issue is the one that is trampling our rights and is trumping religious freedoms every time the two bang heads. It is not wrong for us to have our rights, and being a Christian does not take away our rights...... if someone tries to steal from you, attack you, break into your house, cheat you, charge too much on your phone bill, etc.... you will suddenly stand up for your rights and defend them...... so don't tell me we have no rights when we come against the gay agenda..... we still have our rights and freedoms.

 In closing, a few points:

1) We will not win a gay couple to Christ by doing a service for their wedding. They are not unreachable. but if they are so far gone as to marry, it is going to take an act of God, not a wedding cake, to reach them.

2) Yes, we need to love gay people - all people - but doing anything to help affirm their sin is not the answer.

3) Jesus hung out with sinners, but never did anything to help or encourage their sin, so I don't believe He'd do anything for a gay wedding other than weep and plead with them to leave their sin and follow Him.

4) If we surrender on this issue, it will be others tomorrow.

5) Where is  the rage about some of these bakers also refusing to do a "happy divorce" cake and Halloween cakes..... if you have a problem with their refusal to do a gay wedding cake, why don't you have a problem with them not doing THOSE cakes? What about the people who were "discriminated against" with those 2 issues?

6) The liberals, gay militants - and sadly some Christians - have screamed discrimination and tried to make it like these bakeries refused to even serve a gay person.... don't do that. They just refused to be involved in doing anything for a wedding.

  When I worked at a grocery store, I helped and rang up a few gay people. In my current job at the hospital, I have helped and served gay people........ and I was every bit as courteous and polite with them as anyone else. But if I were in the position that I was asked to do something for a wedding, or print something with a pro-gay message..... I would say no. And any Christian should.

7) We don't do things to affirm other sins, so why is the gay issue the exception?

8) The hate, vitriol, and mob mentality is horrible that has been aimed at these Christians who have refused to do something for a gay wedding.... do you really want to align yourself with that? Do you really think the Christian is worse than those people for quietly saying "no"??

9) If you are using the Bible to justify or try to shame other Christians into doing something that society says is OK and normal - i.e. gay weddings - but fine with Christians refusing to do other things - i.e. KKK related stuff, then you are going by what society wants, not by the Bible.

   It is a big issue, and one that has a lot of disagreement on. I don't think a Christian should do anything for a gay wedding or print any pro-gay message on a t-shirt or anywhere else, but that is between them and God. I do however, fault Christians who are fighting the ones who do refuse to do it. Align yourself with your Christian brothers and sisters, not with the ones who will keep demanding more and more until we are not allowed to vocalize homosexuality is wrong. Our pastors will have to marry same-sex couples, or face jail. Christian schools and churches will have to hire openly gay people. That is their end game. No opposition. Total blanket acceptance, and homosexuality viewed as normal as anything else, by everyone.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Take this cup from me

It is a yearly tradition for most of my family to go see a Passion Play in Austintown, Ohio. It is very well done, and helps bring the whole reason for Easter home. I always walk away with something new from the Easter story, and this year was no different.

  The scene that stuck out to me this year was when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. The man playing Jesus prayed the words we all have read so many times in the Bible " Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.

  I have read that verse countless times in my life, but it hit me in a new way Saturday as I sat in the darkened church watching the Passion Play. It it me that I too have a cup of suffering, I have prayed and prayed, begged God, cried, yelled at God, only to not have it taken from me. And I am not the only one. We all have our cup of suffering that we'd rather not have. Most or all of us have asked God to change us or a situation, to heal, to move and change someone, and it never happens.

The woman with an unsaved husband who fights her daily about her Christianity

The missionary couple far from home and loved ones, seeing no fruits, but still feeling the call

The grandmother who never gets to see her missionary grandchildren and children

The Christian facing a life of celibacy and loneliness if he doesn't give into his same-sex attractions

The older Christian with the onset of Alzheimer's

The childless couple who are heartbroken and infertile.

  And the list goes on and on.

  We have somehow gotten this idea that the Christian life is sunshine, roses, and rainbows. Maybe we all have a little bit of Joel Otseen in us. Yes, God can deliver, heal, change situations and hearts.....but He doesn't always - at least not in our timing. Every human being is going to have troubles and trials, and Christians don't get an exemption. In fact, some of our troubles and trials come because we are a Christian.
  Jesus didn't have to go through with it. He didn't have to die for a world of sinners, most of who would never worship or acknowledge Him. But that was the only way to save the world. He knew what it would cost, what He was going to go through, so the human side of Him asked for His Father to get Him out of it, but if it was the Father's will to go through with it, He was willing.

 I for one, have spent a lot of time bellyaching and whining about my "cup". Paul prayed three times to have his thorn in the flesh taken away, but I have bypassed him many times over in asking God to take away this cup of suffering.

  If I wasn't a Christian, if I didn't have the desire to serve God, it would not be an issue. But if I want His will, and not mine, I have to do it this way.

  What if Jesus had said "wait a minute,,,,, I agree something needs done here, but this whole scourging and cross thing..... that is more than I am willing to go through. Let's find an easier way." It seems ridiculous, but so is any of us thinking we know better than God, and thinking He is going to make our life rosy and easy and that we will always be on the mountain top. Thankfully, there are times in our life when it is easier and we are on the mountain top, but a lot of us have a "cup" that we must drink from often, some of us daily.

  We must all come to the place that Jesus did. Pray if it be God's will to remove it, and it not, His will be done.

 I'm getting there. Maybe it is because I am getting older and getting used to it. The idea that this will never entirely go away isn't as horrifying and hard to handle as it once was. The idea of just surrendering it to God and letting His will be done comes a lot easier than it did years ago.

  Serving Jesus is all about surrender, denying ourselves, and taking up a cross..... and drinking from a cup of suffering, If we truly live for God and not ourselves, that is the way it will be.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Day two

It is easy to look at the disciples and other friends of Jesus and wonder at their disbelief. Jesus had told them that He would rise on the third day, yet they reacted like they had no clue. The events of Good Friday devastated them. The One they had placed so much hope in was dead.

  Then day two came. Some things are worse the next day. You have a troubled night of sleep, if you sleep at all. Then morning comes, and it all comes flooding back. It had to be just of a dark day for them as the day before. Jesus didn't come down off of the cross. He had died and was right then in a tomb, lifeless. Their hopes and dreams were crushed.

  There's a song I like to hear this time of year, it goes like this:

Day one they found him guilty and sentenced him to die
When the crowd heard the news they shouted "crucify"
Crowned with thorns they mocked His name and nailed Him to the cross
He hung there till His dying breath
Day one all hope was lost

Day two it's still and quiet,  the crowd had all gone home
His broken body in the tomb sealed with the soldier's stone
Believers who had followed him weep and question why
Seeds of fear and doubt take hold
Day two disciples hide
(Oh they hide)

Day three His body's missing the stone was rolled away
An angel of the Lord appeared when the women came
Trembling out of fear and joy, amazed at what they find
They quickly run to spread the word
Day three He is alive (Jesus is Alive)

Day one the hill ran crimson red with blood to cleans all sin
Day two reminds us keep the faith when the doubts set in
Oh what difference one day makes from death to victory
The cross became an empty grave on day three

   Not much is said about Saturday of Holy Week. It had to be rough. The disciples were in hiding, afraid they'd be next. The Savior they had hoped would deliver them from the Romans was gone, lying dead in a borrowed tomb.

Day two it's still and quiet,  the crowd had all gone home
His broken body in the tomb sealed with the soldier's stone
Believers who had followed him weep and question why
Seeds of fear and doubt take hold
Day two disciples hide

  We look back and wonder where was their faith? They had walked with Jesus for three years and seen Him perform tons of miracles. If anyone knew His heart and what He was going to do, it should have been them. How could they doubt Him after all they had been through with Him?

"Day two reminds us keep the faith when the doubts set in"

 And yet we do the same thing. Saturday comes for all of us at some point, and more than once for most of us. Life is going great, then BAM! Something happens and we doubt God, Sure, He helped us in the past, but this is now, and we can't see a way through. Some Saturdays last more than a day. They can last weeks, months, a lifetime...... dark, discouraging times and we doubt and fear. 

 I do it. I get discouraged, depressed, down. I pray and pray about something - or somethings - and God doesn't act as fast as I expect, or it seems He doesn't act at all, so I doubt and lose faith. I wonder if He really cares, of He truly loves me. If He did, then why..... If it is really bad, I have questioned if He really exists. If He does, then surely He would have answered that prayer by now, helped in that situation by now...... and the doubts and fears grow. Maybe I am not a Christian after all, maybe this, maybe that..... and all the while, the answer may be on the morrow, or next week. 

 There is a lot to learn about the events of Holy Week, and many lessons we can take away from it. The most important is of course Jesus died for our sins and rose again, but maybe the reason He waited til third day was to remind us that Sunday always comes. No matter how dark our Saturdays may be, there is always hope. God always comes through. It may not be how or when we want and expect Him to, but He always comes through. Saturday doesn't last forever.