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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A gay balance

   It is difficult for me to find a balance that is necessary  with the issues of gay marriage, homosexuality, and the gay agenda. Gay marriage is here to stay. The gay agenda's leaders are marching as hard and as fast as they can over our freedoms and our rights. Our next president could alter those freedoms and rights forever. The wrong president will put justices on the Supreme Court who could further gay rights and diminish the rights and freedoms of Christians. This is not an anti-Trump post, but it scares me who he might appoint to those seats if he has the chance.

 Both part's front runners could do immense damage to religious freedoms.  Chelsea Clinton has promised the gay lobby that her mom will use executive orders to further gay rights. Donald Trump has promised to further gay rights, yet Christians and conservatives follow him like he is a messiah.

  The gay agenda needs to be fought. The most extreme of them want gay sex education taught to kids as  young as Kindergarten. I have read things not fit to print here that has been taught and tried to be taught in schools. Many want it criminalized to say homosexuality is wrong. Some of them even want to force churches and pastors to marry gay couples with no exception or exemption.... and more. They are already flexing their muscles as they try to force Christians to bake cakes, photograph weddings, hold a wedding or reception, and more. I don't think it is paranoia to believe that these incidents are not by accident, but by design to force Christians to comply and bow to the gay agenda, and that they are just a foothold as they will eventually start on churches, religious organizations, and pastors.

  Just this past week, a Republican governor in Georgia caved to pressure and vetoed a bill that would have protected pastors and religious organizations from having to perform gay weddings and hire gay people..... it is coming.

   An unchecked gay agenda could mean children taken from parents who dare say homosexuality is wrong. It could mean churches and Christian schools forced to employ practicing gay people. With liberals in charge and totally sympathetic and complicit in anything the gay militants want, the possibilities are endless and disconcerting. We truly need to take a stand, and stop stepping aside and doing everything the liberals and gay militants demand. The safety and souls of our children in the years to come could depend upon it.

  But yet, I know something better than most of the people reading this blog post: those gay people marching in parades, demanding special rights and total acceptance, suing Christians, and spewing hatred and vitriol do not comprise the feelings and attitudes of all gay people. All gay people, or as the term I prefer to use, all we who struggle with same-sex attractions do not want the same things.

  Everyone is different, and everyone would not use these same groups that I am going to. To many Christians, all they see are the angry gay people marching and suing. They don't realize there are many who don't feel that way..... so here is my list:

1) Militant gays. They are the loud, out and proud ones. They march in gay pride parades, demand not just tolerance; but total acceptance and no one saying they are wrong. They sue Christians, and want gay acceptance forced on everyone, and will tolerate no one disagreeing or standing up to them. The most extreme are basically bullies, or a gay Gestapo.

2) Out and proud non-militant. They are fine with being gay, but just want left alone. They want gay marriage, gay adoption, and anything like that..... but they stay under the radar and don't push their sexuality on anyone.

3) The every day gay. He may or may not be out and proud, but he is fine with his sexuality. He just wants left alone, and doesn't really care about gay marriage and the like, as long as he has a relationship or one night stands.

4) The closet case. He doesn't want anyone to know he is attracted to other guys. He may hook up with other guys or even carry on a relationship with another guy and keep it quiet.

5) The closet struggler. He may never act out on his sexual attractions and desires, but keeps it buried. He may marry and make it work, or may stay single and make up excuses for being single. Many sit in the church pew, afraid to tell anyone what they are dealing with, Many can't handle it and take their own lives.

6) The "Christian" gay. He discounts what the Bible says, and decides since God won't take the gay away, that God is OK with it, and lives the gay lifestyle while claiming to serve God.

7) The ex-gay, overcomer, etc. Many don't like the "ex-gay" term, but it is often used. These are the guys who have led the gay lifestyle in some way, or never lived it but struggled with the attractions, lust, and often pornography. They have surrendered their desires and will to God, some of them being able to develop attractions to one woman and marry, others living a single and celibate.... yet godly life.

   It is hard even for me to remember that all of us are not those militant gays demanding our children be taught their lifestyle. Many are in the church, struggling silently. Many are married to women, trying desperately to make it work and afraid someone will find their secret out. Some are lisping and limp-wristed. Some dress as woman, some are jocks, into sports, some are shy and withdrawn, some are outgoing. Some date girls like they are going out of style to cover it up, others never date and make excuses.

  But all are broken, All are someone's little boy. They are your brothers, your cousins,  your sons,  your fathers, your uncles, your grandfathers, your husbands, your best friend, your fellow church member, your Sunday School teacher, your mail man, the boy who bags your groceries, your pastor. Many of them struggling with something they don't want nor understand.

  While we are sadly watching as an athlete comes out as gay and is lauded by the president and media as a hero, it is difficult to remember those silently struggling and suffering. While we react with disgust as sexual immorality is paraded down the streets of our cities, it isn't easy to think about the confused boys and men who are wishing for someone to confide in and be loved, not rejected.

  I reached a point where I had to stop worrying what people would think or suspect..... and started posting more about this issue, sharing articles both about the gay agenda and articles by men who have overcome homosexuality and have helpful things to say to the church and others who struggle.

  It hasn't always been met with a positive reaction. Over a year ago, I posted a news story about a gay athlete who had just come out as gay and was being hailed as a hero. I shared the link, and wrote "How sad this is being hailed as heroic. The real heroes are the ones who live for God and not their sexual desires." A female friend of mine commented and said I  seemed bitter toward gay people and lambasted me for it. I private messaged her and confided my own struggle to her, but she still fired away at me.... her son struggles with it, and she was taking it very personally. She un-friended me as a result.

 More recently, a lady from my church blocked me, my mom, and my sister on Facebook because I post too much stuff about homosexuality.

   A good friend of mine who struggles with same-sex attractions and is a great Christian guy, often messages me and thanks me for something I shared on that subject that helped and encouraged him. He said to me once in a message that I probably have people who are mad when I post things that condemn homosexuality, and probably have people angry when I post articles they may view as too soft on the issue. And he is probably right..... and I hope that means I am achieving the balance I strive for: love and truth.

  There are many who pat gay people on the back and tell them it is OK to be gay, that God is OK with it, that we all deserve to be happy, it makes no sense to bury the feelings, and other things like that...... yet, they are not loving or being a true friend. Living the gay lifestyle is to live a dangerous life. The relationships are even less stable than between men and women. There are more dangers of disease, death, physical abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and more promiscuity. And the end is an eternity in hell.

  To love with truth is to love someone -even if they are living the gay lifestyle - and to be their friend and let them know you love them, but feel their lifestyle is wrong. Regardless of how some Christians feel, it isn't the worst sin and most gay men are not child molesters. They are hurting people who are trying to fill a void in a wrong way. We cannot ignore the hurting men and boys in our churches and in our lives while we try to stop the militant ones.

 The church has dropped the ball on this issue. No man, boy, woman, or girl should have to struggle and hide in the closet at church. Christians have made this issue bigger and worse than any other sin and issue, and we have done it so well that we have forced our friends and family members into the closet and nailed the door shut tight. Jokes are told, nasty remarks are made, names are tossed around, the way guys walk and talk are mocked.

  I sat in a Sunday School class at my church about 7 years ago where the subject was homosexuality. Two men especially were vocal, using the word "perverts" multiple times, saying they'd rather have a murderer around their kids than one of those "perverts." I felt shredded and fought tears. Another time, the subject was mentioned from someone speaking in church and a friend of mine who I hung out with some, leaned up and said "they just need to hang all of those people." I was around for the disparaging remarks and jokes in a boy's dorm on a Bible College campus, where guys studying for ministry felt it was OK to make fun of gay guys, never dreaming they had someone in their dorm struggling with that issue.

  Is it any wonder gay people hate Christians and the church? Is it any wonder our churches have people struggling with this issue and terrified that someone will find out, and afraid to talk to anyone about it? So they suffer in silence, some of them leaving the church to pursue a gay lifestyle, some pursuing it while sitting in the church pew, and some going on to kill themselves.

  But yet it still needs preached. The agenda still needs fought. However, Christians need to stop making it out to be the worst sin, and need to realize that having these attractions and desires are not sinful in and of themselves. It is the sexual actions and lust that are wrong. The church needs to stop alienating the very people who need church and God the most. Truth and love, a hard balance to achieve; but a necessary one.

Don't blame me, I voted for Cruz

   I know I post a lot about Donald Trump, but I am concerned about this blind cult-like following he has; and I am concerned about his winning the GOP nomination. I am concerned that so many Christians are supporting and voting for him......... and defending his actions. Polls have consistently shown that he would lose to Hillary, but Cruz and Rubio would beat her; yet Trump supporters ignore that fact and keep following a candidate who cannot win. The man has a 63% unfavorable rating, and I read that no candidate has ever had that low of a rating. If Mitt Romney and John McCain were too moderate/liberal to beat a Democrat, and Trump's unfavorable rating is worse than theirs and he is even more liberal.....there is no way on this earth that he can beat a Democrat.

  A friend of mine messaged me this week who was upset about this Trump stuff. A mutual friend of ours had posted something on Facebook knocking people who say they won't vote for Trump if he wins the GOP nomination. She wondered how Christians can support Donald Trump, and why so many conservatives and Christians seem to hate Ted Cruz, a man who is a Christian and has stood up for conservative values against his own party. I told her I have no idea.

  There is no perfect candidate. I know that. The last couple of elections, we have nominated men who were lousy Republicans. McCain and Romney were both too liberal and/or moderate, and a lot of true conservatives didn't want to vote for them, so they didn't. I did, and regret voting for both men. Obama still won, and all I got out of it was the knowledge that I voted for the lesser of two evils, and voted for men I do not respect or like very well.

  I didn't' want Romney for president, but he was better than Obama; so I bit the bullet and voted for Romney. Four years earlier, I didn't want John McCain for president; but he seemed better than Obama; so I voted for him.

    And now we have Donald Trump as the likely GOP nominee. It would seem the Republican party cannot learn from history, and are doomed to repeat their mistakes over and over again. This time, they have reached a new low. They want a man who funded liberals and their policies for years, and is thus partly responsible for the mess we are in, and he is responsible for helping to get the same liberal politicians in office who fight our rights and hate Christians and the Constitution. They want a man who is vulgar, is a moral failure in more than one way, makes a mockery of needing God's forgiveness, has been great friends with the Clintons for years and has said Hillary would make a great president. They claim we need a businessman, yet this businessman has several failed business ventures and 4 times has filed bankruptcy. The list of reasons why it is insanity to make him the GOP nominee are endless. The list of reasons why Cruz, Rubio, and many of the other candidates would be better is also endless.. but Christians and conservatives want a man who helped fight against us and our rights for years.

  This same friend who was criticizing we people who will no vote for Trump tried to say that no candidate is perfect and you're always going to vote for someone who violates your beliefs in some way.... I challenge anyone to come up with a couple of reasons why a Christian should not vote for Ted Cruz. I can't imagine they'd find even one.

   I,  like my concerned friend, have been shocked and amazed at the vitriol aimed at Ted Cruz by conservatives and Christians alike. The avid Trump supporter seems to hate his very existence, and doesn't even know why. Trump hates him, so they do also. I have watched Ted Cruz ever since he got elected Senator, and I have been impressed with him. He has put his neck on the line, showing he is more concerned with honoring his promises to American citizens than worrying about his career. He has stood up to the RINOs in his own party and is hated by the weak spineless Republicans who want to be a doormat for Obama and other Democrats..... yet these people loathe him for some unexplained  reason and want a man worse than any candidate to ever run on the GOP ticket. They hate and refuse to support and vote for the man polls show will beat Hillary, and blindly follow the man polls show will lose to Hillary.

  There is a lot of debate about voting for Trump to keep Hillary out. There is a lot of criticism aimed at we who say we will not vote for Trump if he is the candidate. They say we will hand the election to Hillary if we don't vote for Trump in a Trump vs Hillary election.  I resent that. If Trump runs against Hillary and loses to her as he surely will; it is the people who wanted a liberal masquerading as a Republican who will hand the election to Hillary. It is the people ignoring polls showing Trump cannot beat Hillary, who will hand the election to Hillary. It is the people who refuse to learn from the last two elections that only a true conservative can beat a Democrat, who will hand the election to Hillary. No, it will not be the fault of people like me who will not vote for Trump. It will be the fault of Trump supporters who are too blind and/or stubborn to face the truth about their candidate and his chances at being president.

    Making the decision not to vote for the GOP nominee if it is Trump is not an easy decision to make. Thus, I resent people for faulting me for it. Voting is very important to me, but moral values, principles, character, and my faith are more important. How dare anyone tell me I must vote for Trump when I would be violating my conscience, tossing aside my values and principles, and supporting a man who is a polar opposite to everything I believe and are important to me. People who say I must do that are no better than people who would tell me I must lie, steal, cheat, give into  same-sex attractions; or anything else that would be wrong. Would I be sinning if I voted for Donald Trump? Maybe I would. I would definitely be a hypocrite to vote for him after warning about him all of these months. How could I look in the mirror? How could I respect myself if I caved just to keep Hillary out of office?

  Back to this post by my friend. He also made a point that Hillary's Benghazi scandal is worse than Trump owning strip clubs and cheating on his wives, so we should bite the bullet and vote for Trump who is obviously the lesser of two evils. Here is my reply to that:

  One issue alone doesn't make Trump better to me. If Hillary Clinton was responsible for the men's deaths in Benghazi, she is worse in that respect than Trump.....but that doesn't mean I want him for president more than she. There are areas he is worse in than she, and vice versa. And if you take into account that Trump defended Hillary about the Benghazi issue, financially supported her for years,  and said she would make a great president, isn't he as bad as she for defending her?

    If you laid out my transgressions, it would be a long list... but God has forgiven me. I don't think I am a super Christian or better than anyone else....but Christians and conservatives who are supporting Trump have lost their way if they can so blindly support such a man. They have lost their focus of what is important, and are not voting by morals and values, and they are the last people who should dare tell me I must follow their example and vote for their candidate because they didn't have enough common sense, morals,  and character to not support him.

  I firmly believe it would be wrong for me to vote for Trump. I have paid a lot of attention to what he says, how he acts, who he has supported and defended, and what kind of man he is. I cannot in good conscience vote for him, and I would be setting aside my faith, morals, values, and principles to do so.....and it would be putting politics and voting above God. No one has the right to tell me I should do that. Let me repeat that: No one has the right to tell me to put politics before God, and that is what I would be doing if I voted for Donald Trump. No one has the right to tell me I should lower my standards and vote for their candidate because they lowered theirs.

  Do I want Hillary Clinton for president? A thousand times no. But neither do I want Donald Trump for president either, but I cannot see him beating her anyway. Polls consistently have shown he loses to her, and with an unfavorable rating greater than any candidate ever...... including our last 2 RINOS...... it just ain't gonna happen. Even if I went against my conscience and beliefs and voted for Trump if he is the nominee, I'd be throwing my vote away anyway, so I may as well throw it away on a candidate I like and support.

  I don't claim to be psychic, but I have learned from our mistakes; and I am awake and paying attention. So here is what I believe will happen:

   Donald Trump will most likely win the GOP nomination. Hillary will wipe the floor with him in the debates. He has no substance and no concrete plans and she will tear him apart. And as my dad pointed out, he supported Hillary and everything she did for years, and all she has to do is bring that up and he will be defenseless. In the election, she will soundly beat him, and all of the Trump supporters will ignore their culpability and blame we who didn't vote for their lousy sleazeball liberal candidate. (explain to me why a man who owns strip clubs and commits adultery and brags about it is not a sleazeball before you condemn me for calling him one). We will have 4 to 8 years of Hillary as president, and will lose even more freedoms than we have under Obama. She could seat as many as 3 Supreme Court justices and wreak havoc on our religious freedoms and get her wish for more gun control and more gay rights. All because the Republican party cannot learn from their past mistakes and went for the loud flashy liberal over the solid conservatives.

  My favorite blogger and writer Matt Walsh penned an article this past week titled "If we lived in a truly Christian nation, Donald Trump would not be winning." And he is right. I have heard all of the excuses and reasons why Christians are supporting Donald Trump, and they are a bunch of crock.... to be blunt. If I was a Christian supporting a man like Donald Trump, I'd hang up my Christianity, for lowering my standards to vote for him and going against what I believe is far more important as politics and defeating Hillary Clinton.

 So if Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination, and does indeed lose to Hillary; don't blame me. If you are a Trump supporter, it will be your fault. You ignored the flashing neon warning lights and supported a man no Christian worth their salt should ever support, and a candidate no true conservative should ever support.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The 12 disciples versus we disciples of Jesus today

   My entire family went to a passion play on Good Friday evening that most of us have gone to for the last few years. It is always an amazing experience that is so well done that it gives you a glimpse into what Jesus must have gone through. They end it in an interesting way: they darken the stage and lower a curtain that is sheer. As the singers sing the Chris Tomlin song "I Will Rise", they flash onto the screen the name of each disciple and how and when they died. After the last disciple is put up, the curtain rises, the lights come on, and there are several of the cast on the stage in white robes.

  We tend to be pretty hard on the disciples. After being with Jesus for 3 years, hearing Him speak, seeing the miracles; they ran and abandoned Him in His worst hours. But none of us would want to be judged by our worst moment.

  Just a few years earlier, these same cowardly men had done what few of us do today. Jesus asked them to follow Him, and they left behind their nets and followed Him. That doesn't seem very cowardly to me. I am including myself in this statement, but I fear Christians today, and especially we American Christians, are weak and shallow for the most part. When we follow Jesus, we tend to make it on our own terms. We don't want to give much of anything up to serve Him, and live as if we are trying to do the minimum to please God, and make the difference between us and the world so slight that it is barely discernible.....if it is at all. Our attitude tends to be "how much can I do and still be a Christian", and "how much like the world can I be and still be a Christian?"

  I have heard people tell of what it was like years ago. Churches were packed, the altars would be lined when preachers preached the Gospel, and women would shout their hair down. God didn't change, so we had to have changed. Christians are more concerned with what kind of programs churches have, the style of worship, whether the church has a cafe or not, how hip the preacher is, ..... and other things that don't matter. God's presence has taken a back seat to comfort and entertainment. We are so shallow, even we who don't think we are. The majority of us would never stand up to what the disciples did after Pentecost, or even what many Christians stand up to and go through across the world today.

  We are all disciples of Jesus who claim to serve Him, but which kind are we? Are we the kind who ran in fear and abandoned Him when things got tough, or are we the kind who boldly proclaimed the Gospel when it meant imprisonment, torture, and death? John is the only disciple of Jesus to live to a ripe old age and die of natural causes. The other ten were crucified, killed with a spear and battleaxe, clubbed to death, and more. After the Resurrection and Pentecost, they didn't run anymore. They didn't abandon Jesus, but died awful deaths for Him. Could we?

   Being attracted to the same sex isn't an easy thing to deal with. It is more difficult than anyone can imagine who hasn't been there himself. I understand why gay men want a relationship with another guy.....but if one is to be a true follower of Jesus, they will obey God and live for Him. They won't try to ignore or reason around the verses in the Bible that clearly say it is a sin. Most evangelical Christians would agree and condemn the very idea of a man being a Christian and refusing to put God above those sexual desires, yet many gay men do that very thing.

  But we all do it. Oh, not necessarily a sexual issue, but other things, We decide a verse doesn't really mean THAT, we decide a verse doesn't apply to us today, we reason around and twist verses that would make our life less convenient if we took it at face value. It is rare today for a Christian to NOT have something they put before above God.

  If we lived like the disciples did in their last years, what would our lives look like? If we lined up our lives against theirs, would we come out pretty well, or would we look pathetic and shallow next to them? I would wager the most mature Christians among us would look awfully small next to them. They boldly preached the Gospel of a risen Christ and were constantly challenged for it, imprisoned, beaten..... and then finally put to death. And we have trouble going out of our way to do much for Jesus, or giving up much of anything for Him.

   I was reading an article the other day that I can't remember much of except for one part. The writer said there are music artists who say they are not a Christian artist, but a music artist that is a Christian. This writer pointed out that this is backwards to how it should be. We all should be Christians first, and everything else after that. We are not mechanics, nurses, singers, etc that are Christian.....we are Christians who are mechanics, nurses, etc. Does it make a difference? I believe it does. It shows in a subtle way what our priorities are. Being a Christian should so be a part of our life that it affects everything we do. It shouldn't be something we put on and off like an article of clothing. We should be a Christian first, and then a singer, a voter, doctor, author, etc. The first part will affect the second.

  We may face what the disciples faced here in America some day. If we keep electing the wrong politicians, Christianity may be outlawed here. There is already a strong hatred of Christianity and Christians, and it could happen even here. If it came down to denying Jesus or losing our life, could we do it? If we can't give up things in our life for Him now that He may want us to get rid of, how on earth do we think we could give up our life for Him? Using the gay issue again, if a gay man insists on living a gay lifestyle and reasoning around Scripture so he can call himself a Christian, how would he ever choose Jesus over death if he can't choose Jesus over his sexuality?

  I don't want to face persecution. I hope I never have to face death because I am a Christian, but I want my faith to be such that I could stand up to that and die for Jesus if I had to. I want Jesus to be such a part of me and my life that I am not shallow and weak. I want Him to be so much a part of my life that He is what is most important; not my dreams, desires, comforts, needs, and wants. If we are to truly be disciples of Jesus, it will cost us something. It may not cost us what it did the 10 disciples of Jesus who were killed; but it will cost us.

 If I am to be a disciple of Jesus, I want to be real and not shallow. I don't want to put anything before Him or excuse away inconvenient truths or verses.

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

I have heard how Christians long ago
Were brought before a tyrants throne
They were told that he would spare their lives
If they would renounce the name of Christ

But one by one, they chose to die
The Son of God, they would not deny
Like a great angelic choir sings
I can almost hear their voices ring

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

Now, the years have come and the years have gone
And the 'cause of Jesus still goes on
Now, our time has come to count the cost
To reject this world, to embrace the Cross

And one by one let us live our lives
For the One who died to give us life
Till the trumpet sounds on the final day
Let us gladly stand and boldly say

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

To the Lamb of God who bore my pain
Who took my place, who wore my shame
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Who is influencing who?

   My family didn't have a TV for most of my life. From around the age of 12 on up, I didn't watch TV or movies. I can still remember one of the first secular movies I watched as an adult. It may sound weird, but I was bothered that the main character in the movie lived with her boyfriend. It was a clean and amusing movie, but for me who wasn't used to that aspect, it bothered me. People who were used to that and had been watching movies and TV for years, wouldn't have even registered that fact,

  Back in 2005 a movie came out that sent shock waves across the country. Brokeback Mountain was the first gay movie to be shown in movie theaters across the country. Churches all across the country called for boycotts. I know enough about the movie to know that compared to other movies that have been in movie theaters, it wasn't that bad. Yes, it was about two gay cowboys having an affair, but there have been worse movies shown without gay characters, and the same churches never bothered to boycott. They had gotten used to heterosexual immorality being shown on TV and in movies, so they weren't bothered by that. A gay movie though....they weren't used to that,

  My pastor preached a message Sunday night about Christians and culture. I can't remember much of what he said, but it has been something that has been on my mind lately. I even started a blog post on the subject a couple of weeks ago,

  I came away from that sermon with this:

  Are we Christians changing and influencing the world and culture, or is the world and culture changing and influencing us?

  I read an article a few years back in a Christian magazine that took me aback a bit. It was on whether Christians should watch R rated movies or not. The writer claimed that there are some R rated movies we should watch for the experience, and would be missing out on some great movies if we avoided all R rated movies. Think about that for a minute. We should watch movies that have a lot of violence, bad language, nudity, and other things R rated movies have because we might be missing a good movie. Really??

  Back some years ago, there was a talk show on the radio that was by a Christian guy who was a pastor.....if my mind serves me right. I called into the show once, and it was to disagree with him. He had just had quite the lecture on his show about Christians going to watch the movie Titanic because there is a nude scene in it. It may have even been that very day he had gone on and on about it. He then went on to rave about the movie Saving Private Ryan and was urging people to go see it. I have never seen either movie, but I knew that Saving Private Ryan was full of bad language. So I called in and pointed out his double standard. He of course disagreed with me, and said some not so nice things about me when I hung up. He felt SPR was such a wonderful movie, and since it was a war movie the language was necessary; so Christians should go watch it..... but shouldn't watch Titanic because of a nude scene.

   Here is a news flash: There is no movie that a Christian must see. I like to watch movies, but am careful about what I watch. But have we become so influenced by culture and Hollywood that being entertained is more important than being careful what we view, and more important than pleasing God?

  This past year, abc Family aired an episode of a TV show that had 2 13 year old boys kissing. I wonder how many Christians kept watching that show.

  Hollywood has an agenda. They are putting gay characters in many TV shows and trying to condition people that gay is OK. Sadly, they are even doing it in kid's TV shows to start the conditioning and indoctrination early.

It would seem Christians and the church are being impacted and influenced by the world than the other way around.

    Even this Donald Trump phenomenon shows this. No Christian worth their salt should consider voting for a man like him..... and they wouldn't have years ago. The reasons why a Christian should not support him are endless, yet he is getting the Christian vote. They have become convinced he is the answer, and are ignoring all of the reasons why a Christian should not vote for and support such a man. They aren't shocked that he owns strip clubs. They don't care that he is a serial adulterer who brags about his affairs. It doesn't matter to them that he says Planned Parenthood does a lot of good. His vulgarity doesn't faze them, nor the fact that his wife posed nude. Not only are they not bothered by all of that, they defend him and find fault with anyone who dares point these things out. They have set aside morals, principles, and biblical values to vote for a man who is the total opposite of what we believe and stand for. Politics has trumped not only common sense, but Christian values.

  We have become too much like the world. Jesus said we are to be in the world, but not of the world; but we have done the opposite of what He said. Does what God may think even enter our minds when we decide our movie and TV viewing choices? Do we seek His opinion on what kind of music we listen to, what kind of books we read......who we vote for?

  We aren't shocked by nudity and immorality anymore. In fact, many Christian women dress in ways that reveal parts of their bodies to the world that should never be shown.....and men aren't exempt either. We listen to music with cursing and talk about cheating on your spouse, we watch and read things like 50 Shades of Grey....we have adapted to the world and don't think anything is really that bad and come up with excuses why it is OK to dress the way we do, follow the fads that we follow, use the language we use, watch the things we watch, and vote for the kind of person we want to vote for.

  Nothing is wrong anymore. We decide for ourselves what is OK for us to do. Most of us only do or don't do what the Bible says, and unless it is black and white.....and even then a lot of us reason around or twist the inconvenient verses.

  Back to politics for a minute. Consider this:

The front-runner for one political party is a liar, is corrupt, has cheated, is suspected of being complicit in murders and also in the deaths of the guys in Benghazi. She has helped cover up her husband's abuse of women, and stands against everything a Christian believes and stands for.

Behind door #2: is the front-runner for the other party.He supported the other candidate for years, has been good friends with her, has defended her in the Benghazi scandal, has defended her husband's sexual escapades, owns strip clubs where women are abused and degraded, has cheated on 2 wives and bragged about it, uses vulgarity, is a bully, says he doesn't need God's forgiveness, defends the largest abortion provider in the country and says they do a lot of good.

  Christians by the thousands, maybe millions; are going to vote for these 2 candidates. Culture says you must vote for the candidate in your party who wins the nomination. Culture has numbed us to the things these 2 candidates are guilty of. Culture says politics is more important than character, biblical principles, and morals. Making sure the other party doesn't win is more important than sticking to your principles and not voting for these candidates.

  We are not of this world. We do not have to watch that TV show or movie. We don't need to read that book, listen to that singer, wear that outfit, follow that fad. We don't have to vote for a candidate that is against everything we believe as a Christian. The world says we do. The world says we are crazy if we are careful about what we let into our minds and lives. The world - and even other Christians -  says we are nuts and traitors to our party if we won't vote for the candidate our political party puts up. The world has become our measuring stick for what we view as right or wrong. They offer up a smorgasbord of things that can drain us dry, come between God and us, cripple us spiritually, and make us shallow Christians more concerned with what people think of us than God.

I'm concerned about myself. I don't want to be shallow. I don't want to be so used to sin that it doesn't bother me. I don't want the culture and world to change me and influence me. I don't want the world, or even other Christians, to influence me on what I can and cannot do, or should or should not do. I don't want it to be so necessary to me to read that book, watch that movie, vote for that party. I have already been too changed and influenced by the world. I need to remember I am living for Heaven, not for this world, not even for this country I don't want my god to be entertainment, comfort, a political party, or even the freedoms I have as an American.

  I want to be a man with morals and convictions that I get from God and His Word. I want to be a man that sticks by those convictions even when everyone around me is doing something I consider wrong. I want to be a man who doesn't cave to peer pressure, even if it is coming from fellow Christians.

I Want to Be That Man

He was awake before the sun with his Bible opened up 
Seeking truth with every single page he turned 
Anyone could see my daddy lived what he believed 
With a gentle heart and passion for Jesus burned 
I know we had our times we disagreed 
But the longer I live it’s clear to me 

I want to be that man 
Who loves the Lord with all his heart just like the Word commands 
Who takes a stand and leads his family as he holds the Father’s hand 
I want to be that man 

Society would say there’s a new ideal today 
Not what you give, it’s more about what you can get 
But I want to live a life that’s marked by sacrifice 
Like the Savior who died to show us all the way 
So I’ll take up my cross and trace His steps 
Surrendering is how I serve Him best 

I want to be that man 
Who loves the Lord with all his heart just like the Word commands 
Who takes a stand and leads his family as he holds the Father’s hand 
I want to be that man 

Just like Peter, Paul, and all the saints of days gone by 
Let me show that kind of faith to those who come behind 

I want to be that man 
Who loves the Lord with all his heart just like the Word commands 
Who takes a stand and leads his family as he holds the Father’s hand 
I want to be that man 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Growing bullies

I was bullied a lot in school, mostly from 7th grade up through 10th. When the teacher would leave the room, I would often get picked on. There was one winter when a kid would wait outside to push me into the snow. I got made fun of, had my lunch taken on a regular basis, and more. I still have a chipped tooth from one kid shoving my head onto my open metal lunch box when I was around 12 years old. Sports made it worse. I was bad at sports, and really had no interest in them. No one wanted me on their team, and I was often the leftover one that was like a booby prize....... and the more I was forced to play and endure the bullying and the obviousness of no one wanting me on their team, the more I loathed sports and school.  I still bear scars from those days, scars no one can see. It affected my self esteem for years, and to this day I struggle some to believe people like me; though it is not as bad as it used to be.

  A lot of it came back as I read a book last week. A young man named Thomas Mark Zuniga wrote a book titled Struggle Central, which is a very open and honest detail of his own personal struggles. Like me, he attended a Christian school. Like me, he was bullied and made fun of and tried to hide out when he could. Like me, the kids got away with it with the teachers either not seeing it, or not caring to stop it. Like me, he struggles with same-sex attractions..... yeah, there is a correlation between that and being picked on and not bonding with your male peers.

 As I read Thomas' accounts of his school days in a Christian school, and mine came flooding back to me; I had a few thoughts:

Where were the teachers when I was getting bullied? Did they really never see it and have no idea it was going on, or did they choose to ignore it?

   I don't know the answer to my first question. As much as I was bullied, I do find it difficult to believe that all of the teachers were clueless about it. This is not a statement against Christian schools, as I am not a fan of homeschooling or public schools, but there is something drastically wrong if a kid is getting bullied and picked on in a Christian school and nothing is ever done about it....and here you have two guys who were badly bullied in a Christian school, and no one ever did anything about in my case, or in his. And to go a step further, if it can go on to the extent that it did with me and Thomas; are the teachers really doing their jobs?

What kind of parent raises a bully?

   Kids can be totally different kids when not around their parents. I get that. However, if your kid is a bully who picks on and ridicules other kids; I would wager a guess you aren't doing the parenting thing completely right. I don't know what turns kids into bullies, but I do believe if kids are raised correctly and taught to respect others and stick up for the underdog, they won't be bullies.

  I know of a family who traveled a lot in ministry singing and preaching. They did a lot of camp meetings over the years, and the kids were trained to try to befriend the kids who didn't seem to have any friends and were alone..... if that family could train their kids to do that, then can't all Christian parents train their kids to not be bullies and to stick up for the underdog?

Why do others stand by and not do anything when someone is getting bullied and picked on?

  This is one I cannot get. How can decent people look away and not do anything about bullying? Not every kid in junior high and high school bullied me, but most did.... but why didn't the others do anything?

  When I went to Bible college, I got picked on more. I am not sure it was intended to be mean, but it still wasn't fun; especially to a kid who had got it for years in school. And then something happened: an off-campus student who hung out in the boy's dorm a lot, witnessed what was going on. He went to the college president, and it came to a stop. That was a good feeling......someone sticking up for me.

  But why did he, and no one else did? Why did he see I wasn't enjoying it, but others were oblivious to it?

  I don't know why, but I am thankful for his intervention.

Are we too comfortable with bullying?

  Do we have the attitude that kids will be kids? Is bullying so common and so part of life, that we just shrug it off? Are we OK with the idea of people getting bullied and picked on?

Do we truly understand the effects of bullying?

  I can attest to the long lasting effects of being bullied. Poor self esteem, fear, the belief that I was worthless and that no one truly liked or loved me..... even God. For years, I had a fear of other boys my age, and other men in general.  And according to most conservative and Christian research, bullying by other boys isn't necessarily THE cause of same-sex attractions in boys, but it is definitely one of the contributing factors.

  Bullying has led to drug and alcohol abuse,  suicides. and even homicides.

Are we growing bullies?

  By turning a blind eye, by not speaking up for the underdog; are we helping to grow bullies? By idolizing people who use bullying tactics and supporting them; are we putting our stamp of approval on bullying and helping to give the idea that bullying is OK?

  I didn't intend to get political, but one of the many reasons I am so dead set against Donald Trump; is he is a bully. He goes after anyone who disagrees with him and has threatened people, organizations...even a ball team. He reminds me of every bully I have ever met..... and people want him as our president. Ugh.

  I believe I have forgiven the people who bullied me in school and in college; but the effects are still there. They may always be there on some scale. When you are subjected to it constantly, and have kids make you feel like you are worthless.....that can have lifelong effects. Thankfully, God has helped me a lot in that area, and I have had enough people befriend me and affirm me that I know there are people who love me and consider me a friend. I know I am worthwhile and God loves me.

 I don't fear other males like I used to, but it is still there somewhat. Just tonight, as I walked on the bike trail; two late teen boys came walking onto the trail from a walkway up to some rocks. I had a brief stab of uneasiness....and that isn't the first time. I had a delivery job back around '98-'99, and it was hard for me to walk into a high school to make a delivery. I felt fear as I walked past high school age boys. Sound dumb, pathetic? Maybe so, but that is a result of bullying.

 What is the answer to stop it? I am not sure. We can all watch for it and intervene. We can encourage our kids to fight back if bullied - yes, I believe that. I wish I had been taught to fight back. And we can teach our kids to never, ever bully; and to never stand idly by while it happens. And may God help me to never be guilty of it in any way myself.

  This has been something on my mind since I read Thomas' book, and I hope I can spread some awareness of how damaging bullying can be.

 And if anyone is interested in reading his book that lives close enough to me, I'd be happy to loan it to you.

 Check out Thomas Zuniga's website here.

 And another website he writes for: Your Other Brothers.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

2016.....the year Sean Hannity's talk show died

 I have listened to Sean Hannity's talk show program a lot over the years. I often listen to most of the first hour on my way home from work, and rarely catch the rest of his show. In the last 8 years, I have heard him say something countless times "2008 was the year journalism died". What he means by that, is most of the media was so much in Obama's corner and wanted him elected so badly; they didn't bother to investigate or vet him. They ignored the tons of reasons why he was a bad candidate and spent their time defending him and going after anyone who dared speak the truth about him.... so Sean says journalism died that year. Their bias came through loud and clear, and all they cared about was getting their candidate into the presidency.

  Fast forward to 2016. We have a candidate who suddenly switched parties to run as a Republican. He has switched positions on so much and so often, I'd challenge anyone to list what he is for and against without making a mistake. He owns strip clubs, has cheated on his wives - and bragged about it - he is vulgar, a bully going after anyone who dares disagree with him or call him out.....everyone from Megyn Kelly to the Chicago Cubs. He is vile, says things in public no decent human should say.... much less a presidential candidate, he has bankrolled liberals for years and helped get people into office who are causing our country the most problems. I could go on, but that is the gist of it.

  And Sean is doing just what he criticized the liberal media for: defending Trump and ignoring the mountain of reasons he should not be president. The same Sean Hannity who went after Obama for things he said about Sarah Palin is the same Sean Hannity overlooking what Trump has said about Megyn Kelly. The same Sean Hannity who keeps harping about Bill Clinton's treatment of women and Hillary covering it up is the same Sean Hannity ignoring the treatment of women by Donald Trump and how he talks about them.

 Just as the liberal media's objectivity went out the door with Obama, Sean's has gone out the door with Donald Trump. He has claimed to remain unbiased this election season, but his show has turned into the Donald Trump show. He defends him, goes after people who criticize Trump, and has no problem pointing out the faults of the other candidates. In one breath, he would be going after Marco Rubio for his words and behavior, and in the next he would be defending Trump for far worse things.

 He seems to be ignoring polls that consistently show Trump loses to Hillary, and that Trump's unfavorable rating is 63%... a record, as far as I know. But that doesn't fit into Sean's push to make Trump president, so he doesn't bring up inconvenient facts.

  I read an article recently that suggested conservative talk show hosts don't really care who wins the presidency. If Hillary wins, they'll have a ton of material for the next 4 or 8 years and it is all about ratings. Maybe there is some truth to it.

 One thing that has bothered me about Sean Hannity for a while, is he bullies his callers he doesn't agree with. He also tries to put words in people's mouths to get them to say more inflammatory things than they want to say...... and maybe that is why he likes Donald Trump so much....... and one reason I don't like Donald Trump - he is also a bully.

  If Hannity was truly unbiased, if he truly was conservative and Christian, if he truly cared about the future of this country; he would hold Trump's feet to the fire. Oh, he claims he has asked him about everything, but he hasn't done it enough, and he has ignored so much about this man who is pulling the wool over so many eyes.

 If a Democrat was acting like Trump, had strip clubs, was vulgar, etc..... Sean Hannity would be calling that person out.... but since it is Donald Trump, he doesn't seem to care.

  If, God forbid, Trump wins the nomination; Sean will truly become one of his biggest cheerleaders. As he has already done, he will defend the same things in Trump that he has criticized in Obama; and will act in the same way that he has despised the liberal media for. And if Trump wins the presidency  - which is a huge if in light of polls - I look for him to act the same way as Obama's media has - criticize and go after anyone who dares tell the truth about Donald Trump.

 Journalism may have died in 2008, but Sean Hannity's program has died in 2016 as he tossed aside his attempts to be unbiased and has become a cheerleader for and a defender of the biggest scam to ever be perpetrated on the Republican party.

 Good-bye, Sean. I have ceased listening to your show and have un-followed you on Facebook. You have disgraced yourself to anyone who is a true conservative, and are following in the ways of the media you despise and criticize.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Which crowd?

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. People lined the streets yelling "Hosanna" and waved palm branches. I have heard many preachers and teachers say that the same crowd was crying "crucify Him" five days later on Friday. I have always wondered about that. No one knows for sure. I myself find it difficult to believe that people could turn on Jesus so quickly. I am sure it is possible that some of them were in both crowds, but no one knows for sure..... so I am going to stick to my belief that it was two different crowds, at least for the most part.

  Since this is Holy Week, I have been trying to gear my thoughts on Jesus' last week before He was crucified. And as I have thought, I had something come to my mind: If I had lived back then, which crowd would I have been in? Would I have been waving palm branches and praising Him as He rode into Jerusalem, or would I have been in  the crowd screaming for Him to be crucified? Would I have run and hid like His disciples? Would I have been screaming to have Barabbas released instead of Jesus, or would I have been one of the faithful watching the events with horror and sadness?

  We are sometimes too hard on the people in the Bible. The Jews were waiting for a Messiah to deliver them from Rome. One can't blame them. After eight years under a president who has no respect for moral and Christian values, we Americans are longing and hoping for someone to come along and make it all better...... and it looks like most people in the Republican party want Barabbas.......(no, I am not saying Ted Cruz is Jesus, but he IS the Christian)....But seriously, the people in that day were in need of and were expecting a political Savior..... not a guy who expected them to just keep under Roman law and "give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar". To them, He was a disappointment.

  They had no idea in their intense desire and passion to have a political savior, they were passing up a much greater Savior. They wanted to be free from Rome, but He could free them from so much more than an earthly tyrant.

 So would I have been more concerned about politics, or would I have been faithful to Jesus Christ? Which crowd would I have been part of? Which crowd would have influenced me the most?

  Not much has changed in 2000 years. People still reject Jesus because He didn't deliver what they wanted or how they wanted it. There are still two crowds, one following Jesus at any cost; and one running from Him or outright fighting Him.

 I hope had I been on this earth in Jesus' day and been there for this Holy Week, that I would have been in the right crowd. I hope I would have shouted and waved palm branches. I hope I would have been at Golgotha, weeping as they nailed my Savior to a cross.

  But it doesn't really matter what I might have or might not have done. Today, 2000 years later; the challenges are still there to be in the right crowd. Following Jesus with your all can get you ridicule, and even persecuted here in America.......though nothing like in other countries. The same Jesus still offers hope and salvation; not political deliverance. There is still a battle to follow Him when it seems He isn't doing what we need or expect; but maybe that is because we are expecting the wrong things and don't know what we truly need. Denying yourself and carrying a cross isn't popular anymore, and many churches leave that out of their teaching and beliefs.

  I have been praying lately for God to help me not to be shallow, to not be influenced by the world and culture in a way that it would stunt my spiritual growth and cause me to drift away from God. We live in a world where you can find a church that will let you do whatever you want and believe what you want and still be a Christian. It isn't easy to carry a cross and deny yourself to follow Jesus as we truly should..... but that is what it takes.

  I've already been too influenced and affected by culture and the world. This election, God has shown me what is important. I don't have to vote, if it means going against my conscience and doing what I feel is wrong for me to do. If I go out and cast a ballot for one evil to stop another evil from getting into office, am I any better than the Jews in Jesus' day; putting my hope in a political savior instead of putting my hope in Him? There's a crowd going the wrong way in this world, and in our country. I don't want to be swept up into the wrong crowd, and maybe this election would be a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but it would still be a step in the wrong direction. It would still be joining the wrong crowd for the wrong reasons.

  I have also been praying for God to help me know what He wants for my life. I don't want to do anything because my church says to. I don't want to do anything because Christians across the country or world say I should. I want everything in my life to be guided by Him; from how I vote and who I vote for, to what I view and what I wear.

  There is no way of knowing what crowd I would have been in during that last week of Jesus' ministry; but I can do my best with God's help to always be in the right crowd here and now......even if it is a smaller crowd than the one going the other way.



Saturday, March 19, 2016

This thing called prayer

 Prayer has always been a somewhat nebulous thing to me. We sang the chorus when I was a kid "read your Bible pray every day, and you'll grow, grow, grow".......and then the second verse, "neglect your Bible forget to pray, and you'll shrink, shrink, shrink". The song was coupled with a flower that could be raises slowly for the first verse, and lowered for the second. The message was clear: if you want to grow, read your Bible and pray daily; or you'll shrink.....spiritually. I think I got that part, but I can't remember.

  For most of my life, prayer has simply been something I felt I had to do. It was as if I had a list of chores to do daily as a Christian, and I had to do it and check it off of my chore list. The kid's chorus turned into preachers telling me how important it is to pray every day if you love God, and that you must "pray through" at least once in a while.....I still don't know what that means.

  My prayers have always been stilted, with an eye on the clock to try to fill in as much time as I could. The longer the prayer, the better Christian I am after all, even if I am doing it just so I can mark it off my Christian chore list for the day.

  And I have always hated praying in public. I am self conscious about what I say, how long my prayer is, what people are thinking about what I say and how long I pray.....I may as well be praying to the people around me, as they are the focus of how I pray.

  A few months ago, I watched a great movie called War Room. It was an amazing movie that was about the power of prayer. I was so moved and impressed by it, that I bought a Bible study with video sessions and have been working on it the last few weeks. I also bought a book by the producers called Battle Plan For Prayer. Between the book and the Bible study, I am learning so much about prayer that I never learned, or never "got". The study and book aren't written in some deep theological way that puts you to sleep, yet there is so much good and helpful things in them about prayer that it has really helped me and my prayer life..... and I am not even done with either the book or Bible study.

 What have I learned? Well, here are a few things:

I need to pray believing God WILL answer, not hoping that He might.

I need to have a specific time for prayer.

God sometimes starts answering our prayers long before we ever pray them.

There are different types of prayer - adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. We may at times focus on just one, but it is good to incorporate all 4 into our prayers.

We can pray without ceasing....pray about everything throughout the day that comes up or for people who come to our minds.

Prayer doesn't have to be a certain length of time.

Prayer is just talking to God, a conversation with our Heavenly Father.

There are hindrances to prayer, but there are also "keys" to prayer.

Prayer is a tool, just like we'd pick up a phone to call someone..... the emphasis is on the conversation and who we are talking to, not on the phone or prayer.

I don't need to overthink prayer.

  And I have learned a lot more than that. Those are the highlights.

   As I have studied and prayed about what I am reading and learning, my view of prayer has slowly began to shift. I don't view it as something I have to do, but something I can do and want to do. I don't worry about the length, and at the times when I fight sleep as I am praying, I feel like God understands if I cut it short and fall asleep. God isn't sitting up there with a timer, sighing in frustration if I don't pray as long as another Christian. He doesn't mind my rambling thoughts and sentences that sometimes barely make sense.

   I've gotten more comfortable praying. On one hand, there is awe and reverence that the King of Kings is paying attention to my ramblings..... but on the other hand is the knowledge that is my Heavenly Father who is delighted to hear from me. That is an amazing thought. Others might weary of my talking, but He never does.

  I've gotten more comfortable telling people I am praying for them... and I do my best to carry through on that promise.

 I may never "pray like a house on fire" as some people do. I may never pray for an hour a day, but I believe God is OK with that. I may never be comfortable praying in public, but I think He is OK with that also. He doesn't place qualifications on the length, volume, speed, or contents of my prayers..... He just wants to hear from me, and to speak to me.

The three C's of my voting

    Especially in recent years. I have identified politically as a conservative; not as a Republican. It just so happens that the Republican party goes closest with my views and worldview, though they are drifting further and further away from true conservatism.

    But before I am a conservative, I am a Christian; which influences my political views. I am a conservative because I am a Christian. As a Christian and conservative, I cannot and will not vote for candidates who hold political and moral views opposite mine and that do not line up with the Bible.

   What happens when the party you vote in lets you down? What do you do when the candidate the majority of Republicans nominate is so far removed from what you believe and stand for that he is no better than what the other party offers? What do you do when people who support that candidate expect you to toss your principles and values aside and vote for that candidate just to stop the Democratic candidate from winning? What do you do when that candidate's supporters tell you if you don't vote for their choice of candidate, you will be handing the election to the other candidate?

  My reasons for not supporting Donald Trump are many, and are influenced by the three C's: Christianity, conservatism, and common sense.. There are reasons as a Christian I cannot support and vote for him, and those are most important to me. There are also reasons I cannot support him because I am a conservative politically. I also cannot support and vote for him because of common sense.

   I am not a Republican. I do NOT have to vote for the candidate they put up just because he is on the Republican ticket.

  I have faulted and criticized Democrats for years because they have been rabidly loyal to their party and voted for the candidate offered up no matter how horribly  unqualified, or poorly vetted that candidate was. I have said that Democrats would vote for the devil himself if he was on the Democratic ticket, because they refuse to vote for a Republican.

  So here I am, in the same boat. If Donald Trump keeps up his momentum, he will be the GOP nominee for president. To vote for him would be going against my Christian beliefs, values, and my conscience. To vote for him would be going against my conservatism and common sense.... and all to make Trump supporters happy and to attempt to keep Hillary out of the presidency.

  Should I do it? Can I do it? Would it be worth it to do it? Is that reason enough for me to toss common sense, values, and morals out the window?

  In the last couple of elections, I have bit the bullet and voted for a candidate I did not support or like. First it was McCain. I thought he was too moderate, but he did seem to stand for the things that were important to me. After he lost to Obama, he started showing his true colors; and I regret voting for him. I truly wish I had not. My vote didn't stop Obama from winning the nomination and screwing up our country royally... so all I got out of it, was the knowledge that I voted for a RINO who doesn't stand for what is important to me after all.

  And then last election: Mitt Romney. I was dead set against him from the start. He is a Moromon, which is pretty much a cult. He seemed weak on marriage and abortion issues, and seemed weak. But as the Republican party is so intent on doing, they picked a RINO... a candidate too liberal and moderate to attract the more conservative and Christian voters. Again, Obama won. Again, I voted for a candidate that I regret voting for.

    So now Republicans are again choosing the worst candidate for their nominee. This time. they have really outdone themselves. He makes McCain and Romney look like right wing conservatives and choir boys. The majority of Republican voters are throwing their support blindly behind a man who supported liberals, their policies, and helped the very people who got us into the mess we are in morally and economically. He defends Planned Parenthood, says he will further gay rights, has cheated on two wives and brags about it, owns strip clubs where women are degraded and abused... and often get trapped in that lifestyle with no way out. He is vulgar, rude, a bully, narcissistic, and arrogant. He cannot be a Christian, as he said he doesn't need to ask God's forgiveness... and Christianity 101 teaches you must repent and ask forgiveness to be a Christian. He harps about sending jobs out of the country, yet he has done that himself. He has gone bankrupt 4 times, and has a long list of failed business ventures. He has said the woman he will run against would make a great president, has defended her about Benghazi, and defended Bill about his sexual escapades. He has no substance, just says what he will do with no particulars. He is so close to being Hillary that the differences in them are small.

  Polls have consistently shown she will beat him in an election, while Cruz and Rubio would beat her........ and yet Trump supporters blindly march on defending their candidate no matter what you bring up. Polls also show Trump has the most unfavorable rating of any candidate ever.....running in the 60%'s......and they think a man with that big of a majority of Americans disliking him will win?

   And I am expected to vote for this man if he wins the GOP nomination. A man who is barely the lesser evil, if he even is the lesser evil. There are things about him that are worse than Hillary, and there are things about her that are worse than he. I am expected to jump on what seems to surely be the losing side, just to appease the people who seemingly didn't know any better than to support him.

  I don't want a Hillary presidency. Neither do I want a Trump presidency. If I add up the reasons why I don't want to vote for them, the end result would be the same. If they were both an additional problem, the numbers being added up would vary and be different,  but the end result would be the same number. I may as well vote for her as him, for I would have the same regrets, I would be violating my beliefs, and I would be a hypocrite either way. Actually, I may be less of a hypocrite if I voted for her, taking into consideration my statements about the Democrats voting.

   If Republicans are too dense to learn from recent history and are bound to repeat history by not supporting and nominating a true conservative; that is on them. I do not have to ride the crazy train with them to destruction. Unfortunately, their poor choices and decision to go after the loud and shiny guy instead of substance, conservative,  and moral values is going to affect me and my freedoms.

    There is a possibility of 3 Supreme Court justices being replaced during the next presidential term. I shudder to think of the kind of judges Hillary would put on the bench. I also shudder to think of the kind of judges Donald Trump would put on the bench. He said his liberal pro-life sister would make a great Supreme Court justice. Sure, he later said she wouldn't,  but he changes views and positions so often, who knows what his view is on her being a Supreme Court justice.

  I don't view myself as any smarter than other people, but I do consider myself awake and informed. I have watched Donald Trump. I have listened to him. I have read up on his past of who he supported and what kind of man he was before he suddenly became a Republican. I am convinced he is still a liberal and will be just as bad for our country as Hillary will be. I cannot and will not vote for her, and I cannot and will not vote for him for the same reasons. Seriously, it is like putting two poisons in front of me and asking me which one I want to drink..... uh, neither!

  If Donald Trump is indeed the GOP nominee and runs against Hillary, I am convinced the polls are right and he will lose to her. Trump supporters will blame people like me for handing the election to Hillary. I disagree 100%. If that happens, it will be Trump supporters who will hand the election to Hillary as they ignore the flashing neon warning signs about their candidate, as they ignore all of the reasons he is a terrible candidate and unfit for the presidency, much less the GOP candidate, and as they ignore the polls saying he will lose to her.  If Trump and Hillary are the contenders and she does indeed win, it is the fault of those who decided they wanted the loudest candidate, and not one who has substance and a true plan.

  So no, I don't have to vote for the Republican candidate. Just because the Republicans are marching off a cliff does not mean I need to fall in line and do the same. Just because they pick the wrong candidate does not mean I chuck my belief system and principles and vote for the man they want against all common sense. I am a Christian and conservative with common sense, And those 3 C's will stop me from doing so. Good-bye Republican party. It was nice knowing you. This election could very well be the end of the Republican Party, and that may be what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton intended all along.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hope from an empty tomb

  Sometimes I think we are too hard on the people in the Bible. I have read and heard some of the stories and wondered "why couldn't they believe?" or "how could they be so blind/stupid?" One such story that has always amazed me is the disciples' reactions to Jesus' arrest, crucifixion, and death. All through the Gospels Jesus keeps dropping hints. He tells them He is going to be killed. He tells them He will rise on the third day, but the whole series of events surprises the daylights out of them.

  I can't imagine how they felt. They would have felt sorrow at the death of their friend and Lord. They would have felt despair, confusion, depression, anger..... and probably even betrayal. They had such high hopes for this Messiah. They all thought He was going to set up His kingdom here, kick some Roman butt, and set Israel free from their oppressors..... and He had let Himself be captured and killed. This Man who had done so many miracles, had simply stepped forward and allowed Himself to be taken by the men who hated Him and wanted Him dead. And even worse, He had stopped them from defending Him and attacking those men.

 And now their friend and Lord lay very dead in a borrowed tomb. The horror of watching Him crucified was bad, but I can't imagine afterwards. I doubt many of them slept much that night, if at all. And then morning came. If they had gotten any sleep, it would have all come rushing back. The arrest, the flogging, the mocking crowd, their cowardice and desertion, the crucifixion, and His last breath. I imagine they felt lower than low.

  I have had some pretty low times in my life. There have been times I wondered what on earth God was trying to prove... or where on earth God even was. I doubted Him, I have been angry at Him. I've cried that it isn't fair. I've looked at my hopes and dreams lying shattered and dead in front of me, and wondered "why me? Does God hate me that much?"

 But I don't think all of my troubles, my doubts and fears, my crushed dreams and hopes could compare to what the disciples were feeling.

 And can I really fault them for their doubts and fears, for ignoring or forgetting what Jesus told them was going to happen? I do the same thing. God has promised He'd take care of me, and I panic at the next crisis and wonder if He'll come through......forgetting He always has. I've sat with the ashes of my dreams and wondered if He could possibly have a plan for my life after all that I'd done and all that had happened, totally forgetting the promises in His Word. I am as guilty of doubting Him, forgetting what He promised, not trusting Him, and whatever else they were guilty of, as they were.

  But Sunday came for them. Jesus wasn't very dead in a hole in the rock anymore..... in fact, He wasn't dead at all. As someone has said, the stone wasn't rolled away so Jesus could get out - He didn't need it moved - it was rolled away to give hope and show Jesus' followers that He had risen as He had promised.

  I have been in the place where hope was made new, rose out of the ashes, felt God's assurance that He has my back and He still has a plan for my life. But it can't compare to the hope that burst forth on that first Easter morning when that group of sad and depressed disciples found out that Jesus was now alive.

  Any Christian can grasp that fact for ourselves, that we serve a risen Savior who took on our sins, died for our sins, and then rose again. We can never experience it like the disciples did, but we can get a glimpse of that every once in a while.. and not just at Easter.

 As we enter this Easter season, I can honestly say I am closer to God than I have ever been. My mask is gone, I know I serve a Savior who loves me far more than I can ever grasp. I am daily amazed at His unending patience, mercy, and grace for me. He has been showing me things, helping me grow, letting me know I need to improve in this area or that, and forgiving me when I fail again at improving in an area...... and He is more real to me than ever. I have finally moved beyond head knowledge and truly gotten it in my heart.

  So I am looking forward to Easter more this year than I usually do. No, I can't have much candy due to this diabetes diagnoses, but that isn't what it is all about. It is about a cross on a hill, a Savior who loved me enough to take my place on that cross, and it is about an empty hole in a rock that tried to hold this Jesus who loves me so much, but failed miserably and was emptied as that same Jesus rose again and walked out of that tomb.

  There is no hope equal to the hope that comes from an empty tomb.