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

Monday, February 29, 2016

I'm madly, passionately in love and have found the love of my life.... for 6 months

I've never been in love. I dated a few times way back in Bible college. It was the thing to do, and the relationships never went anywhere.....I didn't know why at the time, and now feel badly for the girls I dated. They were more buddies to me than anything, but I didn't realize at the time I wasn't attracted to females. (Sounds weird, but I was a naive kid). I have never experienced the joy that comes with being in love and wanting to be around that special person 24/7. I have never known the feeling of finally meeting THE ONE.

  I'm a bachelor, and I know I don't know much about being in love, being married, and all of that gushy stuff, but the whole being in love thing has me amazed and a bit confused. Long before social networks and the internet came along, dating existed in our culture...... so what I am going to reference happened then. Facebook and other social networks have made it more obvious.

  Picture this: Samantha starts dating John. She starts posting things like "I'm the luckiest girl in the world!" "John is the best boyfriend ever!" "I have finally found THE ONE", "I am so in love!" Six months later, John has moved on to make some other girl the luckiest girl in the world, and Samantha is dating Matt. And it starts again: "I'm the luckiest girl in the world",  "He makes me feel so special", "I have found the love of my life!" Six months to a year later, Matt has moved on to make some other girl feel special, and Samantha is gushing about Luke and how wonderful he is."

  Sounds kind of weird doesn't it? But I have watched it happen over and over in life on and off of Facebook. Men and women alike think they have found "the one" but within a year or maybe longer, they are on to someone else and saying the same things. It is almost as if they are still looking while being with the one they are with.

  As a bachelor who wished for years that I could be normal and experience what "normal" guys experience; I am honestly confused and dubious about this whole being in love thing. If you can fall in and out of love so quickly and easily, was it truly love... or was it lust and/or a crush? If a different guy or girl can make you feel special or like the luckiest boy/girl in the world, were you truly in love with the last person you dated?

  Yeah, yeah, yeah.... what do I know about it as a single guy struggling with SSA. As I have watched marriage after marriage crumble, men and women jump from relationship to relationship as if dating itself were an addiction and they can't go any length of time without their "fix"; I have sat back and wondered. I have even found myself being thankful for my unmarried and unattached status.

  They say that the people who know the most about child raising are the ones who have no children.......hey, I just thought of a blog post idea!! - the same may hold true with dating and marriage. The unmarried and unattached know the most about it.

  Back when I was still hoping and praying I might be able to pull of marriage and dating (with a woman), I read a lot of books on dating. One of the most interesting was "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris. (I had no idea I would literally do that some day). His idea was that instead of dating around, couples should get to know each other in group settings long before being alone as a couple, and should court more than date. He gave an example of a man standing at the altar waiting for his bride, and she comes up the aisle with all of his ex-girlfriends. Since he had given a part of him to each of them, they were part of his wedding. Sounds crazy, or does it?

   But I agree, and have some of my own thoughts.  So I, the dating and marriage guru, am going to impart some wisdom by way of some statements and questions:

1) How long does it take to fall out of love and into love with another person?

2) Were you truly in love if you're with the next love of your life in a month or two?

3) How many men/women do  you want your spouse to have kissed before you? How many do you want them to have whispered sweet nothings, cuddled with..... or as happens too often nowadays; had sex with?

4) Can you honestly say that when you're kissing that special person (or more) that you never, ever think of the others you have kissed or done more with? Can you honestly say you never compare the one you're with now with the others?

5) Could one factor in all of our marriages crumbling be that people get used to bailing on dating relationships when things get tough or they get bored with the person? Could it be that bailing instinct is hard to turn off when they marry?

6) How many boys/girls do you want your kids to be with before they marry? How far do you want them to go with the ones they date?

7) Should we approach dating like grocery shopping?

8) Does it make sense to even date before you are ready to plan on marrying that person?

9) Should you even date someone you can't see yourself marrying?

10) Do people go too much on emotion when dating and marrying?

11) If we waited until we were ready for marriage, got to truly know someone we were interested in, hung out with them in a group first, then dated with the intention of marrying; could it possibly be better for that marriage?

12)   I know of couples who only dated one person, and waited until marriage to have sex. Could their chances of staying together be greater than those who dated around a lot and/or didn't wait until marriage for sex?

13) Is it awkward at all to be sitting in church with your spouse and sit across from the guy/girl you kissed, held hands with, cuddled, etc?

14) Do people truly get to know the person they marry well enough before they marry?

15) Is it biblical to date around? How many people does God want us to give pieces of our heart and our body to that we will never marry?

16) Is it possible to be addicted to be in a relationship, so one must find another boyfriend or girlfriend as soon as the last relationship ends? Wouldn't it be better to just stay unattached for a while and look harder and better for another relationship?

  I have watched with sadness as more and more couples that I know are getting divorces. Sometimes it is mutual, and sometimes one or the other wants out of the marriage and/or cheats on their spouse. There was a day when I didn't personally know many couples that got a divorce, and now I couldn't name everyone I know who has gotten a divorce. It has made me thankful I never have married and will never know that heartbreak.

  We aren't doing it right, or we wouldn't have the high divorce rate we have even among Christians. I could be wrong on my ideas I have presented here, but I think they are common sense and very likely have a part in the breakup of marriages.

  You can't have multiple loves of your life. That only happens once, and twice if you lose your spouse and are fortunate to find another. The church has become too much like the world in many ways, and dating and relationships is just another area we are too much like the world.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Entitlement Christianity

We have turned into an entitlement society. Though there are many people in the food stamp program who genuinely need the assistance, there are many more who do not. If they cut out their expensive cable, cell phones, tablets, bought a newer car, and cut back in areas where they don't really need to spend money; they could make it just fine. But our culture and society have everyone believing they have to have certain things and deserve to have those things, so the taxpayers help them afford the nice things they think they cannot live without.

  Bernie Sanders is one presidential candidate who is running on the premise of giving people free stuff. He is promising free college, and people are eating it up; never bothering to ask who will pay for their free college. People feel they deserve free college and other free things, so they don't care where the money is going to come from so they can have free stuff.

  There are a lot of people who see a problem with this entitlement ideology that seems to be growing more and more rampant. It isn't pretty to see selfish and lazy people demanding free college, free healthcare, free cell phones, free food, and anything else they can think of..... and it isn't pretty that there are people determined to give it to them.

   Sometimes I worry this attitude has crept into the church and into our lives as Christians. I deal with depression, and have been frustrated lately with it. I have prayed, I have taken the pills the doctor prescribed; and there are times it is still bad. Thankfully, it isn't bad  all of the time. I was praying as I drove to work this morning, and kind of sort of asked God why I have to deal with it when I already have other tough things to deal with - or something along that line. I immediately felt checked, and felt God say to me what I am trying to say in this blog post.

  Jesus gave His life and died for our sins. What more does He have to do? As the song says "He gave His life, what more could He give?" Living for God involves daily taking up a cross and denying ourselves. That has almost become a dirty word to Christians. Oh, we like to give up something for 40 days for Lent; but give up anything for 365 days of the year? No way Jose'.

  I see 3 areas we Christians tend to feel entitlement in:

1) We are entitled to our beliefs

  I see and hear more often this attitude that we Christians can do whatever we want. It has ceased to be "what would God want me to do in this area?" and has become "It is my right. The Bible doesn't specifically say I can't do it, so I am doing it." Very rarely do people reference God. It is usually "I feel", "I believe", "I, I, I, I".

   Case in point: I was discussing modesty and made the case that  Christian women should be more careful how they dress so as to not cause men more temptation, since men are more visually stimulated and women shouldn't dress in ways to trip men up. A friend commented "No man is going to make me dress a certain way. It is all on men to deal with lust and temptation, not on women." Since the Bible doesn't specifically say how low your blouse should be, how short your dress or shorts should be, etc.; she and many others feel they have the right to expose as much skin as they want to expose, and if it causes their Christian brothers a problem..... well that is tough. (For the record, men hold the same responsibility and need for modesty.... I can attest to that.) That is an extreme example, but I am afraid it is indicative of American Christianity.

  Another case in point: Gay men and women ignoring what the Bible says, and claiming to be Christians while living the lifestyle they want to live. They should't have to be alone, they shouldn't have to be denied love and sex..... they deserve happiness even if they have to reason around and ignore what the Bible says.

  It is true that we are not under law, but under grace...yet even the New Testament says if we love God we will keep His commandments. We won't take this entitlement idea and run with it, thinking it is up to us to decide everything. It isn't up to us to decide how we dress, how we spend our time, what kind of music we listen to, what kind of TV shows and movies we watch.... or if we should watch TV and movies. We can't please God and watch movies like 50 Shades of Grey. We can't please God and run around in a bikini and thong, or just in a speedo. We don't have the right to decide everything for ourselves. If we are truly surrendered to God and His will and are denying ourselves, we give Him a blank piece of paper and sign our name at the bottom. We don't have the right to believe whatever we want.

2) We are entitled to material comforts

  And then we tend to feel since we are Christians, we deserve "stuff". We have to have the most expensive smart phones with all of the bells and whistles. We need a newer car, even though the one we have is running fine. We need cable TV with all of the channels we like. We have to have a nice house with a two car garage. We have to eat what we want and how much we want. We deserve a comfortable life and lifestyle. The prosperity Gospel people have taken this idea and built their churches and religion around it. We are God's children, and He wants us to have the best..... but does He?

    God doesn't promise wealth. He doesn't promise mansions on this earth. Our reward is in Heaven, not here on the earth. It is OK to have nice things, and things that are not necessary to our survival; but we - and I do mean we - have this idea that since we make the money working for a living, then we should be able to spend it how we want and on what we want. If we tithe, too often we have the attitude that we have given God His part, and the rest is ours to spend on our toys, our books, our guns, our golf clubs, our new furniture, and anything else our hearts desire that fit into our funds or our credit line.

 But it is all God's money. We don't need everything we think we need, and get too focused on what are actually wants and comforts. Do we really need a smart watch? Do we really need another pair of shoes? Do we really need a Starbucks coffee every morning? Do we have to have the newest iPhone?

 I'm as guilty as the next person. I don't always think of it as "I deserve this", but the attitude is there whether or not I am consciously thinking it or not.

3) We are entitled to a problem free life

   We Christians tend to expect a problem-free life when we come to Christ. We don't understand it when we deal with sickness, job loss, a death of a loved one, attractions to the same sex that causes us to live a celibate and lonely life, a cheating spouse, divorce, a broken heart, depression, and anything that causes us physical or emotional pain. I - and  a lot of other Christians - tend to think we shouldn't have to deal with the things we deal with as Christians, and God should take care of the problem if we pray and ask Him.

  Take my own struggle. I can't count the hours I have spent praying for it to go away. I can't count the times I have begged God to take it away. Yet, it has made me a stronger Christian and person. It has made me need to pursue God more than if it wasn't there. It has helped me make friends I would not have otherwise, and given me compassion for people dealing with the same and other issues. If God had done as I expected and wanted Him to years ago, I may not even be serving Him.

  And maybe that is why God doesn't give us life on a silver platter. Not only would we become even more entitlement minded - and spoiled brats -  but we wouldn't need Him. The trials, failures, struggles, weaknesses, and pain we go through helps us realize how much we need God and His help and strength. We would never be of any value or use to God if we got everything we wanted. God would be a genie in a bottle as we lived our lives of ease and entitlement.

  God owes us nothing. He has already given us the greatest things we could ever have: mercy, grace, forgiveness, life.....do we truly grasp the realities of what we already have? The wickedest of us can repent and be washed white as snow to never have our sins remembered against us again by God. In the face of that, how dare we feel entitled to anything else from Him?

  I don't want more "stuff". I don't want a life of entitlement and ease. I want God's will for my life. I want to be surrendered to Him and His will, even if it means dealing with depression for the rest of my life, even if it means a celibate and unmarried life, even if it means not having all the comforts and toys that I want.

  There is no room for entitlement in serving God. We deserve death and hell, but He has given us grace, mercy, forgiveness, and eternal life... what more could we ask for? What more do we think we deserve? I for one am thankful He has not given me what I deserve or what I am truly entitled to, but has given me love,  forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

Friday, February 26, 2016

If my people are angry and attack each other.....

   I have seen and heard it said over and over during this election cycle: The reason Donald Trump is doing so well in the polls and has such a large following, is he has tapped into a great anger people have due to the shape our country is in. I've watched this election cycle with growing dismay as anger and rudeness wins and are cheered on by supporters of all candidates.

   Last night, I watched part of the debate; the first one I have watched. I have seen clips of the other debates, but I am not interested in who out yells the others the best, or how many arguments there are. I am voting on a candidate's record and what they stand for,  not how rude or how much of a jerk they are in a debate..... but my dad was watching it on his Kindle, so I watched over his shoulder for a while.

   I'm not one to watch boxing, wrestling, or MMA fighting. For one thing, it seems weird for guys to watch half naked men fighting and/or writing around together on a mat. (seriously!)  For another, I don't like fighting. I don't want to do it and I don't want to see it. From what I have seen and heard of these debates, they aren't much different. The people keep their clothes on and don't get physical with each other, but the rest of the elements of a fight are there: violence (verbal), screaming fans incited by the sight of blood and violence of any nature, and anger.

  A while back, I did a post on why I don't believe Christians should support for and vote for Donald Trump. As I watched him screaming over the other candidates when it wasn't even his turn to talk and watched his face grow redder and redder with rage, my stomach churned at the thought that there were people cheering him on and delighted that he was acting like a jerk and an immature spoiled brat. Then this morning, I saw that a Drudge poll had given him the debate win. I don't comment on every news story on Facebook, but I did on that one, "Really? Is this what wins today? Rudeness and acting like a jerk? (Rubio is not my first choice, but I thought he won the debate by finally giving back to Trump what he has been dishing out)

   I have been trying to back off from the political stuff. I found myself getting angry by the antics of Donald Trump supporters. Supporters of all of the politicians are being rude, obnoxious, and too radical about their candidate; but the Trump supporters seem to have cornered the market on rudeness and nastiness..... but then, they love it in their candidate; so it makes sense they'd emulate him. But they are not alone. I have seen a lot of nastiness from Rubio supporters.... I have friends posting outright lies about Cruz, and they don't care - I have seen some rudeness from Cruz supporters also. About the only ones I haven't seen rudeness from is Ben Carson's.......maybe because there aren't as many, or I just haven't seen them.

  I don't want to be sucked into this anger anymore. Yes, I am upset and concerned about what Obama has done to this country. Yes, I am disgusted  with the Republicans who stood back and let him do what he has wanted. Yes, I am upset with conservatives and Christians who are throwing their support behind a godless candidate who has spent his life supporting the politicians and issues that are the very ones we conservatives are against, and who I believe is in cahoots with Hillary to insure her the presidency. (Yes, I believe that)

  This is aimed at supporters of all candidates: what does it say about us as conservatives, and more importantly as Christians; if we are part of the anger being tapped into? What does it say about our Christianity if we cheer as any candidate yells and screams at another? What does it say about us if we foam at the mouth as our favorite candidate attacks another and "brings blood"? What does it say about us if we declare the rudest candidate  - and the one who acted most like a jerk - the winner? What does it say about we Christians if we have to get the last word in an argument about politics?

  Should any true Christian be part of the viciousness and anger that is resonating through this election cycle? Isn't there a better way? Yes, we need to defeat Hillary Clinton. Yes, we need to stop Donald Trump, and Donald Trump supporters want to stop the other candidates.... but at what cost are we willing to pay for our candidate to win? I cannot imagine God being pleased with our anger, our bickering, our cheering of ungodly rhetoric and character assassination. I can't imagine Him being pleased as we post things about candidates that are not true, being delighted that we can post something that makes a candidate look bad, not caring to take the time to find out if it is true and being angry when someone informs us that it isn't.

 And speaking of God......who do you think God views as the winner of last night's debate? Would He really pick the one who was the angriest and acted the worst as the winner? No way. He'd probably pick the one who acted the most godly and kind...... which would probably be Ben Carson. There we had a stage full of men who claim to be Christians..... granted, one of them claims he has never needed to ask God's forgiveness for anything since he has never done anything wrong - but all of them claim to be Christians.......... and they treat each other like THAT? Does that line up with what the God commands of us?

  I posted something last night in a Facebook group I am in, the theory I mentioned above.  I was wondering if I am the only person to have this theory. I got several comments agreeing, and I got some comments that disturbed me. One Hispanic man told of the nasty remarks he got for disagreeing with a certain candidate. This candidate's supporters called him an illegal,  and said he needed to go back to where he came from. Another was called a carpetbagger. And there have been more vile and vulgar things said to people who disagree with a candidate. One man told me I needed to go get my GED after I took issue with his candidate of choice. In the same thread, another called me a crazy fool.

  Is this the year that all reasonable disagreement has flown the coop? Is this the year that anger rules over reason, even among Christians? Is anger going to be the deciding vote in who wins the GOP nomination?

  I was listening to Sean Hannity on the way home for a bit, until I wearied of his defense and gushing about one certain candidate. He loved  the fighting in the debate and was raving about how great it is, how it is needed, etc...... really?? Is it necessary to have the hateful vitriol being thrown around by professing Christians?

  Barack Obama has divided this country like it hasn't been divided for years, and I don't believe it was by accident. This election is further dividing this country, led by Donald Trump; though the other candidates are not blameless.

   At the end of the day, can we honestly come before God and tell Him we reacted the way we should have about a debate, a Facebook post, something someone said in conversation related to politics? Or would we have to admit we were angry, we cheered on anger and rudeness, and that we did not react well?

  Politics is a dirty business, and I fear too many of us are getting down and rooting in the mud with the politicians. There are no perfect politicians, though some are better than others. My candidate has the best record and has stood up to the establishment more than any other, and has had the most godly actions and attitudes in this race for the most part. But even he is not perfect and has acted in ways that I don't like.

  Our country needs a change, and we need God. No politician is the answer to our moral problems and will get our country back to God, but some will help in that area more than others.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is II Chronicles 7:14:
"If my people, which are called by my name, will be angry, and yell, and cheer on rudeness and personal attacks, then I will hear from Heaven and will heal their land."

  That isn't how that verse goes. It actually goes like this:

If my own people will humbly pray and turn back to me and stop sinning, then I will answer them from heaven. I will forgive them and make their land fertile once again. (CEV)

  Can we do what that verse says while a candidate taps into anger we have? Can we do what this verse says as we cheer on anger and personal attacks from our favorite candidate? Can we do what this verse says as we attack people who dare disagree with our candidate of choice? Can we follow this verse as we post articles that are not true, but we are OK with because they make a candidate look bad?

Are we even praying? And if so, how are we praying?

  The King James version renders this verse "if my people will humble themselves...." Are we humbling ourselves, or are we proud that we bested someone or our candidate bested another candidate?

Are we turning to God, or are we turning to Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, or another?

   Are we sinning with our anger and attacks on candidates.... the Bible doesn't exempt politicians when it tells us to love everyone and do to others as we would have them do to us.

  I challenge anyone who is reading this to take this verse and pray about it. Do what the verse says. Imagine if we all humbled ourselves and prayed, put away our anger, and sought God on behalf of our country and this election. Can we do it, or are we too busy tapping into our anger and cheering on the anger of a candidate? Are we too radically following a politician to take time to find out what God's will might be for out country and for how we vote? If you felt God wanted you to vote for another candidate other than who you like, would you do it? Could  you do it? Are you even interested in God's will or opinion on who you support and vote for?

   We who serve God say we want to be like Jesus. I imagine most or all of pray to be like Jesus. But are we setting politics aside as a special area we don't have to be like Jesus? I am afraid too many of us are, and I am asking God to help me do better. I have pretty much decided on who my pick is, and will most likely post some positive things about him occasionally, but I don't want to be part of this anger, this vitriol, these vicious personal attacks on candidates and their supporters. Our country is in trouble, and we need God..... not a businessman, not a politician, not a doctor... we need God. Let us humble ourselves, call on God, as forgiveness for our anger, hateful attitudes and words,  and vitriol, and ask Him to give us the president that will be best for our country.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Being a real man

***Another deeply personal blog post.... I'm still not sure whether to post it or not, but after putting all the thought and work into that I did; I might as well.

  I have been making a lot of progress lately in areas that I have struggled with for years. I don't like to over analyze such things, but it has been a reason for introspection on why now.....what is different now from all the previous years that I carried this heavy cross?

  For a while, I chalked it up to finally believing God loves me. In the last 2 years since I came to that crucible, I have experienced growth in ways like never before. I don't want to minimize that, or God's role in this process. As I have thought about it, I have come to see something else that has helped me: I have slowly adjusted my thinking on what a real man is.

  A quick explanation for those not too familiar with the causes a of and issues relating to same-sex attraction:  One big thing that is in most or all guys that struggle with this issue:  they don't feel like a male. Instead of viewing girls as different and opposite of what they are, they view boys as different and opposite of what they are. The older a boy gets, the worse it usually gets. They admire boy's bodies instead of girls. Boys are a mystery instead of girls. By the time they hit their late teens and enter young adulthood, they don't feel like a man; and want what they see in who they view as real men. This envy, admiration, and gender confusion becomes extremely sexualized.

  I could be a little off the mark, but I don't believe I am by coming to this conclusion: by our culture defining what boys and men are, what they should do, how they should act, etc; we are helping to contribute to gender confusion and same-sex attraction. Notice I said "help contribute", not totally cause. By emphasizing to young boys and men that men must do certain things and act in certain ways, we are helping to cement further their thinking that they are not real men or boys; and are not like real men and boys.

  From a fairly young age, we start putting these ideas in boys' heads of what real men and boys are like. Now obviously, as Christians we don't do all of these; but they are out there to be heard and seen on TV, in movies, in school, billboards, radio, from other males, and multiple other places:

Real men don't cry

Real men are tough

Real men have facial hair

Real men smoke and/or chew

Real men drive pick up trucks

Real men hunt and fish

Real men have sex with as many females as they can. The more notches on the belt, the more manly you are

Real men curse

Real men drink beer

Real men wear boots and blue jeans

Real men never back down from a fight

Real men eat, drink, and breathe whatever sport is in season at the time

Real men don't like to shop, unless it is Dick's Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops, Gander Mountain, Cabela's,  or Home Depot.

Real men can change their own oil, brake pads, or any other minor car upkeep and maintenance 

Real men don't mind getting dirty

Real men have tattoos....multiple ones

Real men aren't afraid of anything

Real men wouldn't write a blog post like this.....or would they?

    There are probably other things that could be added, but these things cover it pretty well. And it depends on where you live what constitutes being a real man. In western states, real men wear cowboy boots and cowboy hats. In ocean and beach areas, real men surf and boat.

  I looked my list over after I typed it, and only found one thing I do on there: I like to wear blue jeans. I realize that ideas of what real men do and don't do differ among people. I have my own ideas of what  real men don't do:

Real men don't wear earrings, or any flashy jewelry

Real men DON'T smoke or chew

Real men wait until marriage for sex, and then stay faithful to their wife.

Real men don't wear certain colors

Real men don't get tattoos.

Real men don't play golf

Real men don't drive a Prius

Real men don't watch half naked men beating on each other or writing around on a mat with each other

Real men shave

Real men don't have long hair

Real men don't own strip clubs......... (sorry, had to slip that one in)

  I have more, but will leave it at that. My list may be offensive to someone who reads it and does those things, and they may feel I am wrong for daring to suggest them.....but what about the ideals that have been put on guys like me that I must do certain things or act in certain ways because I am a man? It may not always be verbally said, but the inference is there that if you don't fulfill the cultural ideals of what real men are like; then you are not a real man. For guys struggling with gender confusion and same-sex attractions, this causes them to feel less like men than they already do; and adds to their struggles.

  As I keep traveling this road I am on, I am coming to realize that cultural norms and  long held ideas of what men and boys should or should not do, do not define me or my masculinity. It has been a slow process and long in coming, but I am finally seeing that I am not less of a man because sports bore me and I view them with annoyance and disgust, I am not less of a man because I am emotional, vulnerable, and cry. I'm not less of a man because I take my car to Walmart for an oil change. I am not less of a man because I love to shop........ and not at sporting good stores.....though I do wear blue jeans when I am shopping.....

  We need to toss out these preconceived notions and ideas of what makes a real man, No, that doesn't mean boys should play with Barbie dolls and wear pink? No, but they should be encouraged to pursue what they're interested in and what they enjoy within reason. They should be affirmed as male even if they don't do everything the culture around them says they should do as men and boys.

I play the piano (I actually got made fun of in high school for taking piano lessons since I am a male)

I cry while reading books, watching movies, listening to music..... and other times.

I am emotional and vulnerable

I am more open than most men

I love to shop

I love to read

I love to knit. (No, not really....just made that one up)

I enjoy cooking

  And I am still a man. I am still masculine. I am not a carbon copy made from the ideal man. I am my own person with my own interests, passions, and talents. The more I have realized this and come to accept it, the more help and growth I have experienced. I don't have to be like the Marlboro man, John Wayne, or Ben Roethlisberge to be a real man.

  I believe the best place to go for what a man should be like is the Bible. I may never own a pickup - though I wouldn't mind having one, and not so I feel more like man - I will never drink, get a tattoo, or a lot of the things associated with men; but I want to strive for these........ for these are what make a real man:




Self control

Sexual integrity













It takes more of a man to say no to sexual immorality than to have an endless list of sexual conquests.

It takes more of a man to live a Christian life than a godless one

It takes more of a man to pray for his food in public than to let loose with a few curse words.

It takes more of a man to refuse drugs, smoking, and beer than to indulge in them.

It takes more of a man to open up about his feelings and dreams than to stay closed off to everyone.

  If we are going to define manhood and say what a real man is like, then we should go to the Bible to get that definition; not culture, not TV, not the world, not sports....... but the Bible. I want to be God's idea of a man, not the world's idea, not popular culture's idea; but God's.

What this dying world could use is a willing Man of God
Who dares to go against the grain & works without applause;
A man who'll raise the shield of Faith, protecting what is pure;
Whose love is tough & gentle; a man whose word is sure.

God doesn't need an Orator who knows what just to say;
He doesn't need authorities to reason Him away;
He doesn't need an army to guarantee a win;
He just needs a Few Good Men.

Men full of Compassion, who Laugh & Love & Cry-
Men who'll face Eternity & aren't afraid to die-
Men who'll fight for Freedom & Honor once again-
He just needs a Few Good Men.

He calls the broken derelict whose life has been renewed;
He calls the one who has the strength to stand up for the Truth.
Enlistment lines are open & He wants you to come in-
He just needs a Few Good Men.

Men full of Compassion, who Laugh & Love & Cry-
Men who'll face Eternity & aren't afraid to die-
Men who'll fight for Freedom & Honor once again-
He just needs a Few Good Men.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Does God get tired of it?

  I am doing a great Bible study on prayer right now on my own, and am getting a lot out of it. It has covered a lot, including the different things that should be in our prayers: praise, thanksgiving, adoration, supplication, and more. Today's was an interesting lesson on another thing we need to makes sure we include in our times of prayer: complaining. Right after the adoration and sometime in between supplication and thanksgiving.... we need to make sure we have our time of complaints. This is the most important part of prayer, and we need to really focus and spend time on it.

  That isn't in the Bible study, and I hope you know I was kidding.

  This past Sunday morning, a lady from my church and her husband were chatting with me before Sunday School. We did the usual "good mornings" and "how are you." She replied to the latter, "I'm doing good, but who would want to hear me complain anyway?" I laughed and said "God." She replied, "Maybe... but what if He gets tired of hearing complaints? Do you think He ever does?" I gave a reply, and she told me I should blog about it..... so I am.

  It is an interesting thing to think about: Does God get weary of our complaining? I am thinking that He most likely does. If  you go way back in the Bible to when the Israelites were wandering around in the wilderness, you can find some times when God got frustrated with their complaining:

Numbers 11:1-2: One day the Israelites started complaining about their troubles. The Lord heard them and became so angry that he destroyed the outer edges of their camp with fire.

2 When the people begged Moses to help, he prayed, and the fire went out. 3 They named the place “Burning,”[a] because in his anger the Lord had set their camp on fire.

  Later in the same chapter, they complained about only having manna to eat and made God angry again. He sent quails and made many of them sick unto death.

  It is true we are under a different dispensation now than they were under, but if complaining angered God back then; I wouldn't imagine He is excited and happy about it now.

  Philippians 2 says to do all things without grumbling and complaining. There are verses that talk about being happy wherever we are, and many that talk about being thankful.

 And there is the rub. Can we be thankful and complain? I joked about making a time of complaining during our prayers, but does it make sense outside of prayer if we are trying to live a life pleasing to God and being thankful to Him for all He has done for us? "Thank-you God for saving me..... I really, really am tired of my neighbor blowing their cut grass in the driveway, my wife is really getting on my nerves God, and thank-you for your protection this week......I am so tired of this weather. Can't you give us something better?"

  It seems ludicrous to pray like that, but it can be just as ludicrous to complain to the God who has given us so much and has done so much for us. We all need to be more thankful. The poorest of us is compared rich to many people in other countries. Most of us have family and friends to love us..... and we can have God.

  We set aside a day in November to be thankful, but that doesn't mean the other 364 are left for us to complain in. Christians should be the most thankful people in the world.

  In The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boon relates something that happened to her and her sister at the one prison they were in. Their cell block was infested with fleas, and her sister decided since the Bible says to be thankful in all things; they should thank God for the fleas. Corrie found the idea crazy, but finally agreed to do so. Later, they found out that the guards would go in the other cell blocks and rape the female prisoners, but never went into their cell block to do it because of the fleas.

  That is an extreme example, but none of our lives are perfect. We all have things that discourage us, that we struggle with, and things happen to us all that we don't understand and make us wonder why they are happening to us.

  Take my personal struggle. I prayed for years to be "normal" (whatever that is!), and begged God to take these feelings away....... and He didn't. It took me a long time to get to where I am now, but I have found I can be thankful in this. It has made me more compassionate, it has helped me make friends I never would have made, and I can see it has helped me become stronger in many ways. I could still complain to God about it, but I have chosen not to and to be thankful.

  True Christianity cannot contain a complaining spirit and attitude. And if God wearied of and was angered by the complaining by the Israelites way back then, He surely must be wearied by our complaining. This side of the cross, we have so much mercy and grace, we have the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to make a difference in our lives..... and we dare to complain? We American Christians should be the most thankful people in the world, but we so easily overlook our blessings and the many things to be thankful for, and find the one fly in the ointment, the one bad thing out of a million good....... and complain.

 God does not have a complaint department. Let us all work harder to find reasons to be thankful and praise Him, and cut out the complaining. Even God doesn't want to hear that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Amish getaway day #2, part 2

(If you're bothering to read my travel diary, read day 1 and day 2 part one before this :)

 On my way to Dalton, I spotted an interesting sign: "Faith Books, 1 mile." I cannot pass up a bookstore, so I turned around, and headed down a country road and kept an eye out for the store. It wasn't hard to find, and was a very nice store. They had a ton of music that seemed to be local groups, mostly local. There were a few CDs of nationally known Southern Gospel and CCM mixed in. The prices were pretty high, so I browsed, took a picture of a very cute horse hitched up to a small cart, and headed off to Dalton again.

  I got to P Graham Dunn around noon, and browsed for a long time, watching the workers below through the glass and shopping. I was looking for some pictures for my nephews' rooms as per my sister, but found nothing like they were wanting. I got a few things from their outlet room, and had something engraved for my parents, which to my surprise was half off - a Tuesday special.

  The young lady who had helped me told me about an interesting place to shop that my sister had said I should go to in nearby Kidron Ohio: Lehman Brothers Hardware. I decided to check it out, but got distracted by the pond in front of P Graham Dunn that had a small deck/dock on the water and a small chapel. I visited both of them and wandered around a bit by the pond, and then headed for Lehman Brothers.

  Lehman Brothers Hardware is an amazing store. The "hardware" part of their name does not begin to describe what they carry.... they carry everything. Books, food, toys, kitchen supplies, hardware. There is a cafe that has some sitting area behind bars, which is cool. There is a room that has large 3 D pictures a man carved out of wood. And the place is enormous. I was wanting to go home, so I browsed a bit, bought a bottle of sarsaparilla to try, and left for home, getting here around 3:25.

  I had a blast. This was the first kind of trip for me all by myself. Would it have been fun with someone? Of course, but it was fun with just me also. I did things at my own pace, stopped where I wanted, and just enjoyed being off by myself.

 And again, these 3 blog posts are more for me to look back on later, than for anyone else..... though anyone is welcome to read them. I'd thought about journaling, but this way I could put my pictures with what I wrote. It was time and money well spent.