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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

No, Ms. McCleneghan and Mr. "Anonymous", we don't need sex and/or a partner

   Earlier this week, I read an interesting article: "Single Christians Can Have Sex As Long As It's Mutually Pleasurable and Affirming, Pastor Says". After the push by many Christians and pastors to make homosexuality not a sin, it should surprise no one that this woman who pastors a church is pushing sex outside of marriage for heterosexuals..... and has even written a book about it.

  The whole idea bothers me that a pastor - or anyone calling themselves a Christian - could toss out what the Bible says about sex outside of marriage and deceive people into thinking it is OK...... but one thing the woman said really stuck out to me: "McCleneghan believes it's unfair to ask single Christians who haven't been called to a life of celibacy to refrain from sexual intimacy when both men and women need sex."

  I have been thinking about that statement, and a blog post about it was floating around in my brain, and then today I got this anonymous comment on my blog post "Homosexuality.....the special sin". (A friend commented before him that something I said was excellent, which he refers to):

" No, this is not an excellent text. Not if this text is about you yourself. As Paul writes (1 Cor 7:7), the ability to remain alone is a gift from God, i.e. not everybody has this ability. I do not have this gift. As a gay Christian, if I believed that God really thinks what Mark has written above, the only rational consequence for me would be to kill myself and ask Jesus to forgive me. I could not bear life without a partner. I'd rather be dead (and be with Jesus immediately) than being alone in this world. A text that leads to such a consequence can't be excellent."

  When did sex become a "need"? When did having a partner become so important that one would kill himself if he couldn't have one, while claiming to serve Jesus?

  Kids date younger now than they ever have, and are having sex younger than they ever have. It used to be a question of whether to kiss or not on the first date, and now kids are having sex on their first date... doing what God intended for marriage and to be saved for the one they married.

 Food, water, and air are needs. We cannot live without them...... but sex? Here is a newsflash Ms. McCleneghan: we can live without sex, and many people have done so. God created it for a man and woman who are married...... not for something people to do for recreation with another person because they are feeling "frisky". Is it fair? Well, Ms Mc (may I call you that to make it easier) - if you haven't run across something in life yet that isn't fair and there is no way to make it fair, then you have led a very sheltered and boring life. Life isn't fair. There are multitudes of people who will never have someone to love and be sexual with for a score of different reasons.......is that fair? No, but God doesn't guarantee fairness if we serve Him. He promises life eternal, love, mercy, forgiveness, and a lot of other things that are far greater than sex and far more long lasting than a romp in bed with someone you aren't married to for life.

  We obviously need married people to keep the earth populated, but as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I believe we'd all be better off if we held off on dating so early, got to be comfortable in our own skin as a single person, got a relationship established more with God..... and then pursued love, dating, and marriage. This push for kids to date and have a relationship with the opposite sex...... or worse, the same sex...... is doing no one favors. Teens bounce from relationship to relationship, usually having sex with each person, then become adults and continue the constant dating and having sex with multiple people. And we wonder why marriages don't last and why everyone is so messed up.

   Is it possible that we have made love/dating/sex/marriage/relationships into an idol? Look at what Mr Anonymous said again: "As a gay Christian, if I believed that God really thinks what Mark has written above, the only rational consequence for me would be to kill myself and ask Jesus to forgive me. I could not bear life without a partner. I'd rather be dead (and be with Jesus immediately) than being alone in this world." I feel his pain.......as I have become rather open about admitting on this blog, I am attracted to other guys instead of women...... but to say you'd rather kill yourself than be without a partner......that isn't loving Jesus enough. That is putting relationships and love above God.....whether you are heterosexual or deal with same-sex attractions.

  "Gay Christians" get a bad rap from other Christians....... and in one way, they ask for it. To toss out what the Bible says about homosexuality, have a sexual relationship - or just sex - with the same sex and call yourself a Christian.....that is just wrong and you are putting your sexual desires/needs above God. You cannot do what Christ commanded - "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me", if you insist on denying what the Bible says instead of denying yourself......

  Yet, how many Christians condemning these "gay Christians" are doing the same thing with heterosexual relationships? I am no marriage or relationship expert, but how many people truly have sought and obeyed God's will on who they should marry......how many have sought God's will on who to date.....when to date...... whether to date at all? If heterosexual Christians put dating and marriage at such a priority that they don't seek God's will and rush ahead with relationships instead of focusing more on God, are they any better than the gay person claiming to be a Christian but refusing to put God above their desires for love and a relationship? (Yes, I am aware that God recognizes and blesses marriage between a man and woman and will not between two of the same gender).

  There is a woman I know who years ago had a relationship with God. She met and fell for a man who was not of her faith. She prayed and prayed and felt God said "no", but she married the guy. It didn't last, and they are divorced to this day. There is another woman I know who was dating a handsome young guy. She made the statement "If I had to choose between 'John' and God, I'd choose John." "John" married someone else, and she now has neither God nor John.

  I don't know of anyone else that made the statement the second woman did.... but how many have felt that, or at least indicated it by their actions? As I see countless marriages fall a part of people I went to Bible college and church with, I often wonder if they truly had God's will and blessing on who they married, or if they put relationship above God and married someone they shouldn't have, married before they should have..... or married when they shouldn't have at all..... No, I am not saying that is the result of the breakup of any marriage I have seen break a part, but it makes me wonder.

  Serving God should take precedence over everything else in life. Anything can be an idol that we put above God,,,,,,even relationships and sex. We don't have to have a partner and/or sex to survive in this life. If we are that desperate to have either, it could just be we don't have the relationship with God that we claim to have.

 Oh, and Ms. Mc and Mr. Anonymous...... Jesus didn't have sex or a partner..... and the Bible says He was tempted in every way that we are........

In.........we trust

   This election cycle has been the craziest one I have ever seen. We have two very unpopular candidates, and the Democrat that should have been extremely easy to beat is most likely going to win by a landslide. If one takes off their rose colored glasses and looks at things realistically and logically, it is obvious that Hillary Clinton is most likely going to be president. Polls have consistently shown her beating Trump, but losing to the more conservative candidates people passed over to support Trump. Add these to it, you cannot be realistic and logical and believe that Donald Trump will win:

1)  That we have lost the last couple of elections because we didn't run a conservative candidate

2)  Trump is to the left of either of the two moderate candidates who could not win

3)  That a lot of conservative voters don't vote if they don't like the candidate, while the Democrats vote for their candidate no matter how corrupt they are.

    Even if Trump does win, I am of the thinking that we won't be any better off with him as president than we would be with Hillary. In fact, there are things about him that worry me more than she does, and vice versa.

  I used to like Ann Coulter and faithfully read her column. She lost me though when Romney came along. At CPAC the year before the 2012 election, she said that if Romney was the GOP candidate, he would lose and we'd get another four years of Obama. Fast forward to the primaries, and she became one of Romney's biggest cheerleaders.....and ding! ding! ding! - it turned out the 2011 Ann was correct...Romney lost and we got four more years of Obama. When the Ebola scare came on and they brought the missionary doctor to the US for treatment, Ann was very vocal in criticizing him for even going to Africa, and wrote a scathing article criticizing missionaries for going to other countries and suggested they just stay here in America. That article sealed it for me that she is no conservative, nor is she capable of logical and intelligent thought anymore.

    In case anyone still believes the woman is sane, her newest book should be proof that she is not. Titled "In Trump We Trust",  the book is a case for making Trump president. It would seem she learned nothing from her 180 degree turn on Romney. It would also seem her trust is vastly misplaced. I don't know what her religious leanings are, but she has never said anything to indicate a relationship with Jesus Christ, and she would do much better to place her trust in Him than in an adulterous strip club owner who for years supported the very person he is running against.

    I'll admit this election has really had me down. The more I saw of and learned about Trump, the more I despised his character and morals, the more I was convinced he is unfit and unqualified to be president, and the more I was convinced that he can not beat Hillary.......if he even wants to. When he won the nomination, I was very upset, angry, and depressed. We had a real chance at having a decent conservative president, and the Republican party blew it. Again. I can't imagine where our country will be in another four years under Hillary - or Trump, if I am wrong on him losing. Both candidates want to further gay rights, which will further destroy religious freedoms. Both candidates are pro-abortion and support Planned Parenthood. Both candidates are corrupt and unfit to be president. Both candidates pretend to be Christian to get votes, but make it obvious that neither of them are serious about serving God. We are headed for more moral and economical decay and possible collapse.

   I have felt convicted lately though. Am I any better than Ann Coulter if I am worrying so much about this election and what happens afterward? No matter what happens to America and our freedoms in the next four or eight years, the church will survive. God will still be God and will take care of those who serve Him. We may lose our freedoms, we may have judges on the Supreme Court who wipe out the Constitution, but neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump can take God and our faith away from us.

   If our faith and trust are in any candidate, in our government, freedoms, or anything to do with out country....we have seriously misplaced our trust and faith. As I am typing this, we have Christian brothers and sisters in Muslim countries who are going through unspeakable things because they are serving the same God that we serve. I hope we never get that bad here in America, but if God can keep them and if they can keep their faith in God in even those circumstances, then surely we can keep our faith in God under a Hillary or Trump presidency.....no matter what either may bring.

   It would seem that many are placing our rights and even our fears above doing the right thing in this election. I am not condemning anyone who is going to vote for Trump as a last resort, nor those who honestly feel they are doing the right thing by voting for him in an attempt to stop what they view as the greater evil. (I do blame those who have supported him all along and passed over decent candidates to put him in)  However, I would pose this question to anyone planning on voting for Donald Trump: are you putting your fears and your country/freedoms above what you believe is right? No, I am not judging you, I am just asking a question.

   I am trying to adopt a new attitude about this election. I am still not voting for DT or Hillary, but I am working on leaving it in God's hands. There is a possibility that Hillary Clinton is part of God's plan to wake up this country, especially we Christians...... so why worry?

   This may be a newsflash to some, but God's concerns and priorities are not the same as ours. We look at this election and want what we think is best for our country and freedoms..... yet God is more concerned with our hearts and in lost souls than politics and our American freedoms. He has children all across the globe who are suffering for their faith, and yet we are so self-centered and narcissistic that we think we Americans and our politics are His #1 priority..... or we at least act like we think that.

  We have sat back on our laurels for way too long. We American Christians have gotten comfortable with abortion, immorality, and we show it by our voting. It may be time to pay the piper.

 When the dust settles in January, we will have one of two corrupt liberals as president, barring a miracle. What follows this election may test us and our faith like never before, and we may have to take unpopular stands which may cost us more than we want to pay.

 Our trust cannot lie in Trump, Cruz, the Constitution, or our country. As Christians, our faith and trust must be in God. Maybe it is past time we start living like it is, and maybe it is time we start viewing this election like we have faith and trust in God.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Meme/picture hate

  I love memes on Facebook. There are some that are funny, encouraging, political, and so on...... and then there are some which are downright annoying. Of course it depends on who you are as to what ones annoy you, but here are some of my "favorites".

1) The "like if you love Jesus, scroll if you love the devil" meme. Really, my love for Jesus is dependent on "liking" a meme you posted in an attempt to get a "like" on your post? Not gonna happen. If I love Jesus, I am going to obey and serve Him, not "like" a meme :)

2) The "tattooed people are nice, church people are judgmental" meme. This seems to be a desperate attempt to get approval for one's tattoos and attempt to shut up people who don't like them. I find it annoying, and always want to reply, "and most gang members and drug addicts are covered in tattoos.... I'll take my chances with church people....."

3) The "like this so my daddy will quit smoking", or something similar ploy. The message varies, but I find it dumb, to be blunt. To depend on people you don't know to influence anything like getting a puppy or to quit smoking is just....stupid. And with people sharing and re-sharing, I doubt there is any way to get a true count.

4) Any pro-Trump post, especially ones that claim anything Christian about him. No explanation necessary

5) The "I married my best friend" meme. How lovely for you. If I married my best friend, I'd be marrying a guy......... and when did your spouse become your best friend? Most people have best friends growing up, so when did your same gender best friend cease to be your best friend?

6) The "watch for motorcycles" memes and pictures. Uh, if you are driving a less safe vehicle, you need to watch out for bigger vehicles and take responsibility for yourself.

7) The "real men wear beards" meme. This one irritates me. I think guys look gross with much facial hair. To infer I am not a real man because I shave my face - and it is called "clean-shaven" for a reason..... it is irritating and not true.

8) The "if you aren't voting for Trump, you are voting for Hillary". This one really ticks me off. That is like saying if I don't buy vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate, I am really buying vanilla...... it makes as much sense.

9) Any sports meme.... because I hate sports :)

10) Calvinist memes. Many of them are hateful, mocking anyone who isn't a Calvinist. As someone who is not, and who sees a lot of holes in Calvinism, I really hate these memes..... just Google "Calvinist memes" and you'll find a lot of "lovely" ones.

11) Memes that say to "like" and God will bless you, etc. Come on, do you really believe that?

12) The "if you" memes. Again, it seems like an attempt to just get "likes"

13) The kids memes that have a caption that no kid that age would say.....they just bug me for some reason.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

No, I'm not bitter about marriage

   As far back as my early teens, and possibly even before that, I began saying I'd never get married. I'm not sure why. That is too long ago to remember what my thinking process was......if I even had a thinking process.  I remember seeing some girls I thought were cute, but even at that age I wasn't truly attracted to the female sex as boys that age usually are.

  Then Bible college came, and I dated pretty much because it was the thing to do..... and those dating relationships never went anywhere. It didn't take long for me to feel trapped. I wanted to be alone, but had to go on a date, whether it be an actual off campus date or just a meal in the cafeteria. And then came the full realization and admitting to myself that I wasn't attracted to females, but to males. That was a rough time in my life, and I broke off all dating and haven't done so for 25 years. At some point, I realized I did want to marry, but eventually admitted that was never going to happen. I got rid of all of the Christian dating books I had bought in hope that I might need them some day, cried as I sat on the floor and boxed them up to send to the eBay auction winner, and did exactly as the title of the one book suggested - I Kissed Dating Good-bye.

    That was several years ago, and I have come a long way with my views and desires of marriage. There have been many nights I cried myself to sleep, wanting what any "normal" guy has - love and marriage. I wearied of the comments and questions I got about dating and marriage, and longed to just shout to the world "I can't marry - I don't like women!" - but I worried too much about how people would react. (I do like women, just not THAT way).

  Being a single male of marriagable age can be rough. Not only do you get the questions and pressure to date/marry. but you have to deal with being one in a world made for two.... even in the church.

 All these years later, I have come full circle. I'm not the same teenager not wanting to marry that I was, but I have come to accept the fact that marriage isn't for me, and it really isn't something I want anymore. I have gotten used to being just me, and comfortable with the idea of never marrying, Sure, having someone special would be nice for a variety of reasons, but that isn't everything. To be honest, I feel more loss at not being able to experience fatherhood than I do at not marrying,,,,,, and with kids you can drop them off at a babysitter's to get some peace and quiet..... they don't have babysitting services for wives. :)

    I was recently accused of being bitter about marriage..... but I honestly am not. I still joke a lot about marriage - a carry over from the days I did so to cover up the fact that I couldn't date/marry - and yes, I get frustrated about this often hyper-focus on getting married and focusing so much on it and married people....... but bitter? Nope. I have actually become thankful I have never married as I watch couple after couple divorce and break up their marriages and homes. It used to be I didn't know many divorced people, but now I know of many.... too many.....and I'd rather be single than go through that.

 I have always been a loner. I never had friends in school, and I read a lot and did things on my own. Even as an adult, there hasn't been a lot of opportunities for me to just "hang out" with friends, so I am not sure I could even do  the marriage thing if I was suddenly attracted to women. I like solitude too much. Sure, I wish I didn't have to eat out and shop alone so often, but I enjoy it most of the time by myself. I like sleeping in a bed by myself, making my own decisions with no spouse to disagree or try to change me or my mind.

  One of the many problems with gay people is the idolization involved in more than one way, yet even many Christians have idolized their dating and marriage relationships. I know, I am a bachelor and don't know anything..... but I have to wonder if people didn't marry so soon, if they explored life as a single adult and focused more on a relationship with God instead of plunging into dating and marriage....is it possible that they might be more ready for marriage and more apt to have a marriage that would last?

 Sex, relationships, and people are not the answer to what we are looking for in life. They are not, and never will be, the cure for loneliness and the longings of our heart. Even married and dating people are lonely at times, single people don't have a corner market on that.

 And married people need to do the same thing as we singles: make your relationship with God the top priority and the place to find your fulfillment, not in a person or relationship.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Being a blessing thief

**I wrote part of this 4 years ago about just accepting compliments, but have revised it and added to it to include the other "stuff". 

  Too many people are like me. We have a hard time accepting a compliment. Example:

Person: "I really enjoyed your piano special this morning."
Me: "thanks, but my sister plays much better than me".

  That IS true, she can play better than I can, and I have replied with that more than once in my life when someone complimented my piano playing.

  And that isn't the only thing that I have been complimented on that I tried to deflect  the compliment.

  Why do we have a hard time just accepting a compliment with a simple "thank-you"?
One reason could be that we are raised to fight against pride, and we fear by just accepting the compliment, we will appear, or actually be, proud. For me, I have fought low self esteem and image all my life, it is actually hard for me to believe I am any good at something, and the people aren't just trying to be nice.

  I was talking about this with someone recently, and they made a good point. They said something like this: "you not accepting compliments is a slap in the other persons face..    your making THEM feel bad for being kind to you.  accept the gift they are giving...   you would never just say no thanks at Christmas and birthday right? So often you don't want to be prideful but its not about YOU, think of how THEY feel, and get over yourself..." (Pretty much verbatim there)
They had a good point. We may as well tell them they are wrong, and don't know what they are talking about. Sound rude? We may not intend to be so, but we are being so. And maybe not all people giving the compliment will be bothered by that kind of response, but some will.

   And it doesn't just happen with compliments. How many times in life has someone done something nice for you - bought you a coffee, gave you an unexpected gift, or something else along those lines, and you had a hard time just saying "thank-you." Usually it goes something like this:
"You shouldn't have!"
"I can't accept this."
 Or something similar.

  I like to do things for people. Just yesterday at work as I passed the small coffee shop in the main hallway, I decided to grab one of those drinks I shouldn't have, and also buy a hot chocolate for my friend Kay at the front desk. She was surprised and appreciated it, and she remarked that she knows I don't have a lot of money to be doing things like that, but she was just going to accept it and enjoy it. We briefly discussed what I am talking about in this post, and enjoyed our drinks.

  When I do something for someone, whether it be a surprise gift, a milkshake, a coffee, or some good deed, I get a blessing from doing it. I enjoy doing these things. Several times I have paid for someone's food at the snack/coffee shop at work whether I know them or not...... and it feels good. Today at work, a gentleman I never saw before did it for me, and it felt good. I just thanked him and didn't try to talk him out of it, for I know what it feels like to do something like that and have the person try to refuse it.

  And we could all do better in this area. Sure, there are greedy people out there who think they are owed, but there are also a lot of nice people who are thankful and appreciative of a small gesture of this kind..... and if you want them to just thankfully accept what you did, then do the same for others. If you protest a good deed, gift, or compliment, you are being a blessing thief... or trying to be one. You may not look at it that way, but you (and I) are doing exactly that. It feels good to do something nice for people, so if they do it for you.....thank them and let them. Don't tell them you can't accept it or that they shouldn't have....... just appreciate it and thank them.

 Is it possible God feels the same way when we go on and on how we don't deserve His grace, mercy, and love? Could He be wishing we'd just accept it and thank Him?

 This has made me think and decide to turn over a new leaf. From now on, when I receive a compliment, I shall just politely say "thank-you." It is NOT pride to do so, and it will make the other person feel better than if you shrug the compliment off. And if someone does something nice for me, I shall thank them and resolve to pay it forward. So someone else is better at it than you, or you made one mistake while playing or singing? So what. So the person may not have tons of money who bought you a surprise gift or coffee? So what.  Get over yourself and accept the compliment. It is what you'd want done if you were complimenting or doing the good deed.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Does God need us to accomplish answers to prayer?

  God works in mysterious ways, and we will never comprehend many of His ways while here on earth. I have had something bouncing around in my brain lately, and wanted to get it out on my blog, although I have no answer for the question.

  We have all heard stories, and many of us have experienced it ourselves: you get an overwhelming urge to pray for a person, and later find out they were in danger, having some kind of crisis,  or were making a life altering decision at that very moment. God lays an unsaved person on your heart and you pray hard and often see that person come to Christ. And there are other situations and examples that could be given where God nudges or urges us to pray for someone.

  But why? The missionary that was in danger at the very moment you felt you should pray for him, and God spared him....God could have spared him without your prayer, so why urge you to pray for him? The person you prayed faithfully for to become a Christian could have found God without your prayers, so why did God lay them on your heart?

  If we don't heed these urges to pray, would God still spare a life or work in the same way if we had?

  And if we believe that God loves us and we are His, why does it comfort us to know people are praying for us?

  God isn't some powerless puppet that has to be moved by the strings that would be our prayers. He doesn't need us to accomplish anything, including praying for someone. So why nudge us and urge us to pray like this?

  I am not sure there is an answer, but as I have thought on this I have come up with a couple of ideas:

1) He wants us involved. Of course He could and does work without us, but He loves us and evidently wants us involved in asking Him for things, and prayers for safety, salvation, etc for others is one way to do that.

2) To increase our faith. When God does give us these nudges to pray for someone and we see it answered, it is an amazing boost to our faith.

3) To help us be unselfish. It is one thing to ask God for things for ourselves, but another thing to ask God for things for other people.

4) To keep us praying. If God operated completely independent of us and was never moved by our prayers, what use would there be in praying? We'd figure He was going to do what He wanted anyway..... but the Bible indicates that He is moved to action by our prayers.

  It is awe inspiring and humbling to think that God uses us in this way and that He is moved by our prayers. I don't know the answers to the questions I asked, and maybe I am off base with my ideas, but the fact remains that He does urge us to pray for people, and uses those prayers to save lives and souls.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Thy will be done

 If you have been around the church for very many years, you have prayed it many times. You have read it in your Bible. You may have even sung it. It is in the Lord's prayer "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." But do we really mean it? Do I really mean it? Do I want God's will, or do I really want my own down deep where no one can see my true desires and wishes?

  If I were honest, I'd have to admit the desire for my own will to be done usually outweighs God's will. No matter how many times I mouth those words and sing "I surrender all", I am actually hoping for what I want, and that God's will look very similar to my will.

  I don't believe I am as bad in this area as I used to be. It is a growing process, and can even be one of a step forward and a couple of steps backward. As life goes on and we face different challenges and obstacles, we often find it more challenging to want God's will in some areas and situations that we haven't faced or dealt with before in life.

You want a wife/husband and 5 kids, but what if it is God's will for you to remain single?

You want to live near your family, but what if it is God's will that you live in another country?

You want candidate A as president, but what if it is God's will for candidate B to be president?

You want to live a long and satisfying life, but what if it is God's will you give your life early in the ultimate sacrifice?

   In spite of what many people think, I believe and have come to accept the fact that it is God's will for me to remain single. It took me a long time to get to that place. I wanted a wife, several kids.....preferable boys to make up for the brothers I wanted and never got (OK, I wanted the kids more than a wife...you can't drop her off at the babysitters!).......but life dealt me the same-sex attraction card.....and though He has brought me far and worked miracles in my life, I just can't see marriage ever happening. Even if I was suddenly attracted to every woman I saw, I know myself very well. Though I have my times of being lonely, and I love spending time with my family, I am a loner. I enjoy solitude, and a wife is 24/7.......and I don't think I could handle that. And so I am OK with being single.

  But there are other areas of my life that I question "why?" and want things to be different than they are....... but am I wanting God's will in those areas, or in just the areas that His will lines up with mine?

  These thoughts have been swirling around in my mind since I first heard a song this week-end titled "Thy Will." It has helped bring home the truth that if I am to truly follow Jesus, it must be His will I desire and follow, and not my own.......no matter where His will leads me.

"Thy Will"
(performed by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family)

I’m so confused
I know I heard You loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of Your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know You’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know You think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all Your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that You’re God
And I am not

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

I know You see me
I know You hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness You have in store
I know You hear me
I know You see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness You have in store

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know You see me
I know You hear me, Lord

God can do new things using whatever He wants to use, a reponse to Karl Vaters

   Sometimes you don't have to read an article to know you aren't going to agree with it..... such was the case with one that came up on my Facebook feed this morning: "Why God has never done a new thing using old songs." Too often people just respond to an article or blog title without actually reading it (happens to me all the time with my anti-Trump posts), so I decided to actually read the article first before commenting.....and it bothered me more after I read it. I commented a short comment saying why I disagreed, and now I am going to further comment via this blog post about why this article bothers me and why I feel this guy has it wrong:

1) The title. It makes a very wide and sweeping statement that the author has no way of proving or backing up with facts. Saying that God has never done new things using old songs is egotistical on Mr. Vater's part. Never? Really? Just how does he know this?

2) It limits God. God can use anything to accomplish His plan and purpose. He can bring about these nebulous "new things" Mr. Vater refers to, however He wants, using methods or songs as old as He wants. He is God, after all, and His ways are limitless.

3) To God there is no old or new songs. God is eternal. He sees the past, present, and future.....I don't totally understand that, but I have read and heard many people explain it in ways I cannot....... but if that is true, then He sees all songs in the same time frame.....not as old or new.

4) Worship isn't about us. Mr. Vater makes a big case for needing to have newer worship music for our youth, that we can't use yesterday's worship methods. we are losing the youth, and so forth.

  We aren't losing our youth because of our worship and music style or the songs we use. It is far more than that, and I don't believe it has much at all, if anything, to do with music.

 There are young people all across the globe who are meeting in secret to worship God. There is no hip worship leader with spiked hair, there are no loud drums, guitars, and keyboards to accompany a worship band that more performs for the congregation than actually leads worship.

 The answer is not to be more hip with cooler new songs and make our shallow Christianity even more shallow.

 If we are in church for the right reasons and worshiping God for the right reasons, the music won't matter..We have somehow gotten the idea that worship is about how we feel... passing that idea on to our youth is not the answer. More of God and a true relationship with Jesus is the answer.......not newer and cooler music and worship styles.

5) Jesus never repeats what He did years ago........really?! My Bible says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.....so to say He never repeats what He did years ago doesn't go with the Bible.

6) While claiming to not hate the old hymns, Mr. Vater does a good job of making it sound like he does. If the newer songs are so much better than the old hymns, then why don't the new songs hang around? The hymns have been sung for years....... some of them a few centuries or more. The new songs don't last. There aren't many songs written in my 47 years that are used as much and have done as much as the old hymns. I can't think of many songs even 10 years old in any Christian music genre' that we still sing. They are written, used a lot, then fade into obscurity.

  One hundred years from now, the modern worship songs people are singing will have been largely forgotten..... but the hymns will still be sung. Disagree? That is OK, but let me throw something out there:

Seek Ye First, As the Deer, Majesty, This Is the Day. These are all praise and worship choruses written in the 70's and 80's.....around 40 years or so old. Occasionally a CD will come out of classic praise songs that have them on it, but most churches don't use them anymore. I doubt most teenagers have even heard them. They have already faded into the past and have been shelved to make room for newer and more modern sounding music.

  Twenty years from now, churches won't be singing the current Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman songs..... but Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross, etc will still be sung. And that isn't to say these new songs are bad..... it is just the majority of them lack the depth that the hymns have..... and I believe it is because most Christians today - myself included - lack the depth and spiritual walk that the hymn writers had.... and the songs are being written to fill a CD, get another #1, and other reasons than to have music for the church to sing.

7) The "worship Jesus in any situation argument." This section really bothered me, so I will put the whole paragraph here:

"We sometimes use the term "mature believers," when we're referring to older Christians. But if we really are mature believers, we should be able to worship Jesus in any situation, no matter what the style of music is. Like the Apostle Paul, we should learn to be "content whatever the circumstances ." Or, as I once heard an older pastor say, "I've learned to worship Jesus in a style of music I don't like." Now that's a mature believer.

The styles and methods of outward-reaching churches cannot and should not be directed toward the long-time members. If we really are mature in our faith, we shouldn't need things to be done our way.
So who should our methods and musical styles be geared toward? How about new and not-yet believers? Especially the young ones. Those are the ones who are at risk and are leaving the church in record numbers."

   He seems to ignore his own advice.....while saying we need newer music and God can't use the old music, he is then saying we should be able to worship God in any situation.......unless that situation is old hymns, and especially if the audience is youth.

   I also take issue with the last part about our methods and musical styles should be geared towards any group.....again, he is missing the point that worship isn't about us and how we feel... it is about God. The methods and music shouldn't be tailored to reach a certain part of the congregation to make them feel good.

8) Old doesn't mean bad, new doesn't mean good.....or vice versa. I have heard some old songs that I wish I had never heard, but have been helped and encouraged by many others. I have heard some new songs that I wished I'd never heard and are more shallow than a mud puddle, but I have also heard some very meaningful ones.

  If a song is written to glorify God, there should be no time limit put on it, and there should be no specific audience for it to reach.

     Overall, this article showcases the shallow selfishness of we modern day American Christians, and our inability to address the real issues. We aren't losing young people because of our worship styles or music....and we won't keep them by changing those things. If a person of any age is in this to serve God with everything they have, and if they go to church for the right reasons.....music and worship styles will be far removed from why they are there.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ronnie Smith, Davey Blackburn, and the Christian voter

   I am currently reading No God But One: Allah or Jesus? by Nabeel Qureshi. He related the story of a missionary I was not familiar with. Ronnie Smith was a young school teacher who felt called to go to Libya as a teacher/ missionary, knowing the dangers of being a Christian in a Muslim country. Because Jesus was willing to die for those who sinned against Him, Ronnie believed that  following Jesus meant being willing to risk even his life to serve those who may be his enemies. On December 5, 2013, he was mowed down with guns and died. His wife published an awesome letter forgiving his attackers at RonnieSmithLibya.com.

  In November of last year, Amanda Blackburn was shot and killed during a home invasion in Indianapolis. She was the wife of a young pastor and was 12 weeks pregnant. Her husband made news lately with his declaration that he has forgiven his wife's killers and would like to share the Gospel with them.

  I think on these stories and am in awe... and guilt. Could I go to another country where I know I'd be risking my life to even be there as a Christian? If someone murdered a loved one, could I forgive them and want to share the Gospel with them?

   As we go through the messiest and most bizarre election I have seen in my life, something has been brewing beneath the surface of my thinking and emotions........ and it has been coming to the surface lately.

    The Democrats have as their candidate one of the most corrupt American politicians alive. She is guilty of crimes that should land her in prison, not to mention her politics and morality, or lack of..... and yet millions of people - including Christians - will vote for her because party and what she stands for them is so important that they will overlook anything bad about her to make insure she gets in the White House.

   And the Republicans are no better. The people who have supported Trump all along are beyond my scope of understanding.......I can at least understand the reluctant voters who are voting for him because he is the lesser of two evils in their eyes..... I don't agree, and I cannot ignore his present and past policies and the kind of man he is. Sure, I am also worried about our country and freedoms if Hillary wins......... but I am worried about our country and freedoms if he wins.

  So what does voting for evil #1 or evil #2 have to do with Davey Blackburn or Ronnie Smith? I am so glad you asked......

   These two men get it - well, Ronnie is past tense - but wow.....what models of Christianity. One man gave his life, and was willing to do so. The other man has forgiven his wife and baby's killers....... and wants to share the Gospel with them. He wants them to be Christians......he wants them to be able to go to Heaven, for that is what would happen if they listened to him and became Christians.

  And then there is us.....the American Christian voters. Could it possibly be that we have our priorities out of whack? We are so concerned with our rights, freedoms, and politics that we vote for candidates that no Christian worth their salt should vote for........ just to stop the opposite party from winning and putting legislation through that we don't want. Is serving God more important, or are our rights, freedoms, and laws more important?

Gun rights


Gay marriage/gay rights

Supreme court justices

Religious freedoms



    If we are so concerned with our rights that we will vote for the devil himself to stop the other party from winning and infringing on our rights, how could we ever be a Ronnie Smith and give up not only our rights and freedoms, but our lives? If we are so obsessed with getting our candidate in that we will argue and debate angrily with people who oppose our candidate, could we ever be a Davey Blackburn and forgive a loved one's killers and desire to share the Gospel with them?

  If we are so angry that people won't vote for and support Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, or others....... if we are so angry that people are voting for and supporting Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, then how on earth are we being the Christians that we should be?

  Are we too addicted to our freedoms and comforts to be the kind of Christians that we should be? Have we put our desire to keep our gun rights, to not have to our rights infringed on by gay rights, to see the right kind of Supreme Court justices on the bench above being a Christian? Have we turned our freedoms and rights into idols?

   I was recently berated for not supporting DT by one of his biggest cheerleaders. This young man pointed out we have to have him to stop illegal immigration, for the safety of my beautiful (his word) nieces and nephews could be at risk. He said I should PRAY, PRAY, PRAY that Donald Trump wins to protect us from illegal immigrants........ as if that takes precedence over my doing the right thing......as if Donald Trump is our hope instead of God.......as if immigration is more important than Biblical and Christian values and morals.

   Have we forgotten that this world isn't our home..... no, not even America. If we are following and serving Jesus, our home is in Heaven. Life isn't supposed to be perfect here. Have we forgotten that we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus? To love our enemies, be in the world but not of it..... and so forth?

  I had forgotten all of that. I wanted so badly for a true conservative to win  this time so Hillary Clinton wouldn't win and that we could preserve our country and freedoms.

   But you know what? Ted Cruz is just a man..... a very decent and godly man...... but just a man. My hope shouldn't be in him, but in God. And no matter what happens in this election, no matter what happens to our country and freedoms, God will still be on His throne. The Church will survive even if America doesn't survive a Trump or Hillary presidency.

   And shouldn't that be our main concern - not that our country survives, but that the Church and our faith survives? It was God's will that Ronnie Smith give his life in Libya......what if it is God's will for us to lose even more freedoms and rights in this country we call home? What is more important: who is president, or our faith and doing the right thing? What if the revival we want in America can only come under a Hillary Clinton presidency? What if God's answer to our prayers for revival is.......Hillary Clinton.

  To vote for Donald Trump, ignoring or overlooking all of the reasons a Christian should not, is putting politics, country, and freedoms above God.

  But to worry so much and have so much anger towards Trump and Hillary supporters for helping to bring the further destruction of our freedoms and country is also putting politics, country, and freedoms above God.

  We may be called upon to some day give our life for God.....and if we can't even surrender our freedoms, rights, and country to God......how will we ever truly surrender and give up our lives to do the right thing?

  I am still not voting for either candidate, but I am trying to dial it back. It is just as wrong to have the wrong attitudes and so much anger and worry over this election than it is to vote against conscience.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Singles challenge day #2

   As a joke -  and out of being weary of so many people doing the "Marriage Challenge" on Facebook, where people are challenged by a friend to post a picture of them and their spouse for 7 days to promote love and marriage (does EVERY married person have to do it, and why 7 days?!) - I posted a picture of myself and said I had nominated myself for a single's challenge to honor, encourage, and promote singleness.

 I don't want to be narcissistic, so on day two, I am going to feature some famous singles as my single's challenge for day 2:

1) Jesus. Yeah, our Savior never married, so when you're praying, you are praying to a single male adult. (take that feminists!

2) Henri Nouwen. Interestingly, this well known author and thinker dealt with same-sex attractions, but lived for God instead of his sexual desires.

3) Kraft singles. This one needs no introduction. Where would we be without these delicious single slices of cheese?

4) Paul. Sure, it is a common theory that Paul's thorn in the flesh was a wife, but the Bible does seem to indicate he was unmarried.

5) Music singles. What would the music industry be without singles being released by artists?