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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The importance of telling your story

    I know there are people who think I talk about the issue too much that I deal with. Some have told me so, and as I have mentioned before, a lady from my church even blocked me (and my mom and sister) because I post too much about it on Facebook. (And she thought I was too snarky - that I can't help, it runs in the family.)

  There is more than one reason I have started talking more openly and more often about my struggles:

1) I just got tired of hiding it. Wearing a mask gets old and wearisome. After a while, you can't even remember who you are, for the mask has become such a part of you.

2) It is freeing. When you bring something out into the light, it loses the hold it has on you.

3) I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me.

4) To let others know they are not alone.

  # 4 is the focus of this blog post. Imagine that you have a secret struggle or issue: SSA (same-sex attractions), childhood molestation, depression, pornography addiction, abuse, or something else. Imagine that you have never heard about or known of another person ever dealing with the same thing. How would you feel? Most likely you'd feel hopeless, despair, alone, an oddity, and you'd feel that no one could ever understand or relate. The chances of you confiding in someone would be slim to non-existent. The likelihood of you seeking help would pretty much be nil. That was me years ago. I felt so alone and sure that no one in the church, or raised in the church, had ever dealt with this.

  Now imagine that there are several people you have heard of who deal with or have dealt with this issue. Imagine there are ministries and counselors who have personally dealt with it. There are people in your own life who have dealt with it. Can you realize the difference that would make?

  If no one ever told their story, if no one ever took their mask off and showed the world what was underneath, most of us would never have the hope that comes from knowing others have been where we are. Most of us would never confide in anyone or seek help. Most of us would go to our graves carrying our secret, bound and held back from being everything that we could be.

   There are some brave people out there. There are men and women who have come forward and talked about being raped, being molested as children, abuse, addictions, depression, and more. They tell how they got help, and how to get help. They tell how God has worked in their lives and helped them overcome. By telling their story they give hope and courage to others that they too can overcome what they have gone through and are going through.

   It can be scary and uncomfortable to tell your story. You may not always get the reactions you hoped for, and you may lose friends,  and have people avoid you. And your story may not be one that everyone needs to hear.

 If my life was a physical book, I would gut it and remove pages, chapters, and whole sections. There are sections I'd never want anyone to read or know about, and there are parts I'd like to toss aside and forget ever happened.

  Yet everything that would be written there is part of me and my story. It is all part of what makes me.......me. As much as I wish I could change the past, I cannot. I can learn from my mistakes and use them to help and encourage others.

  There may be others who need to know my story:

1) That they aren't the only ones who have struggled to believe God loves them.

2) That they aren't the only Christians dealing with depression

3) That they aren't the only ones who have felt insecure, worthless, ashamed, or like a failure.

4) That they aren't the only ones attracted to the same sex and having no clue how to handle it.

5) That they aren't the only ones feeling they don't belong anywhere.

6) That they aren't alone in thinking no one likes them or wants to be their friend.

7) That they aren't the only ones crying in bed alone wishing they could marry and have a family.

  And there are more..... for another time...... or not.

  I look at what I just typed, and am amazed at how much God has helped me in these areas.

 #1 isn't an issue anymore

#2 is still an issue, but not as bad as it has been

#3.... I am working on those things, but they aren't as bad as they used to be

#4 I know how to handle it, and God has truly worked a miracle in my life. Yes, I am still attracted to the same sex, but it isn't much of an issue anymore.

#5 Not so much anymore, but the feeling pops up more than I like

#6 Not much of a problem anymore. I know a lot of people like and love me, but sometimes wonder why. Seriously. And sure, there are people who don't like me, but to know me is to love me.....

#7 I secretly still wish I could be a father. Well, not so secretly now...... but I don't cry about it anymore. Yeah, guys CAN cry. I have come to peace about being single, and don't think I could stand being married even if it ever worked... I like solitude too much and don't like to share everything I am thinking.

  Now you may have read through this and wish that I hadn't been so transparent........ but this is me. That is my story, my struggles, my scars.....I am not the only one in the church, in MY church, or in your church who deals with these things. Some of those people aren't telling anyone because they fear reactions, they fear losing friends, of being un-Christianized, of being kicked out of the church.....and more.

 No matter what your secret is, no matter what you are struggling with.....other Christians have been there.....are there.

 God has helped me, and He can help others with all of these issues and more.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Opportunities to trust God

Praying to God for help trusting Him seems to be similar to praying for patience. When one prays for patience, God doesn't just make you more patient.... He often gives you things to practice patience. One of my weak areas is this area of trusting God, and I have been praying for help with it. Just as with praying for patience, I have been given opportunities to trust Him....and I haven't done so well.

  Last week, something happened that knocked me off balance and had me questioning God. Now, this week has decided to knock me off balance. Something came from way out of left field. I was angry, frustrated, and grumbled a lot to God. I got worked up, and didn't sleep well at all. I gave up on sleeping between 2:30 and 3:00, got my laptop, and browsed the 'net while snuggling under my cover. The Christian thing to do would have been to pray and read my Bible, but I was angry, discouraged, and very upset... so I browsed Facebook and blogs.

 After I got up and was getting around for work, I had my morning devotions. I am currently reading a daily prayer book in the mornings, and today's prayer was based on the verses in Romans about nothing separating us from God's love. As I got this fresh reminder of how God loves me no matter what I do, I was hit with remorse at failing yet again in this trust department. I serve an amazing, loving, and understanding God who is far more patient with me than I deserve or can ever imagine. As I prayed over my day, I repented of my attitudes and for failing to trust Him, and asked Him to work all of this out and to help me trust Him about it all.

  And now, a couple of hours later, it is still a concern to me, but I feel I am doing better trusting Him. I am thankful God is in control all of the time, even when I don't trust Him or fear He is not. Praying He helps me do better in this area.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Excited to forgive us..... from East to West

   I have a friend, "John." His name isn't really John, hence the quotation marks around the name. John is a great friend who I have not yet met. I have known him for several years, all on line and phone conversations. I count him among my best friends, and he has been a great help and encouragement to me.

 Lately, John has really been struggling with this idea of being forgiven. He did something 12 years ago, an immoral act that lasted for a fairly short time. Now, 12 years later, he is having a difficult time believing God has truly forgiven, and can forgive him. His reasoning is that he knew it was wrong and did it anyway. I have been trying to convince him that God has forgiven him and that it is the devil bringing it up to him, but I don't believe he is there yet.

  I can relate to his struggle. For years, I never felt completely forgiven. I always felt there was something more I needed to do to have God's complete forgiveness. In the last three years I have finally come to believe God loves me, and I have gotten at least a small idea of how great His love, grace, and mercy are. As I reached that point in December of 2013 and have grown in that belief and realization, the forgiveness issue went away.

 My list of transgressions was a long list, and I have messed up several times since then in so many areas, but I have held to the belief and knowledge that God instantly forgives me when I ask His forgiveness.

 We tend to look at forgiveness through our human eyes. I doubt there are many Christians who don't struggle at all to forgive someone for a very serious offense. Maybe I am off the mark here, but no matter how good of a Christian a person is, instant forgiveness for a serious offense is going to take some effort and prayer. And being humans, we will most likely never forget a serious offense. We may forgive it, but it most likely will never leave our memory.

  God on the other hand, does not have to work at forgiving us. Unlike what I believed for so many years, He doesn't have to be cajoled or begged. We don't have to make a bunch of promises that we will never do it again. He already knows if we will or not, and the most amazing part is that He will still forgive us knowing we will do it again.

 The devil is a very smart adversary, and his bag of tricks he uses to discourage and trip us up seems bottomless. He knows our weaknesses and that is where he hits us hardest, never giving us time to recover or get back on our feet. He used this one on me for most of my life, and thankfully that one doesn't work on me anymore, but he is being very successful using it on "John."

  John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us of those sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He doesn't do it halfway. There is nothing more we need to do to be forgiven, than to confess and repent. But we, with the devil's help, make it so hard and unattainable.

 The Bible says that God has removed our sins as far as the East is from the West. I am told that if you go North far enough, you'll eventually go South, and if you go South far enough, you'll eventually go North. East and West aren't like that, however. No matter how far you go East or West, you will continue going in the direction you started out in. So East and West are infinite miles from each other, they will never meet or turn into the other.....that means our sins are completely removed. God will never remember them against us.

  So my advice to "John": stop listening to the devil. If you confessed your sin and repented, God has forgiven you, and it is an insult to God to keep holding onto it and letting the devil convince you that it can't be forgiven.

 God's mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness are endless and unfathomable. We will never get a grip on just how infinite and great they are, but we can get a better understanding than we have had, as I did. We serve a God who loved us enough to die on a cross so we could be forgiven and have eternal life. A God who loves us is going to be happy to forgive us, or as the words of a favorite song of mine says, "He is excited to forgive us."

 When the prodigal son was spotted by his father - who was watching and waiting for him - he had no chance to get out his apology before his father was embracing him, forgiving him, and calling for a party in his honor. That is the kind of God we serve - a God who is excited to forgive us, and throws a party in our honor when we turn back to Him.

When He Saved Me
by Jim Brady and Phil Cross

I don’t believe He’s sitting up in Heaven
Evaluating sinners by their scars
But I see Him excited to forgive us
And it’s not at all in spite of who we are

When He saved me He knew
What I had done, what I would do
He looked beyond the worst in me
And saw not what I was, He saw what I could be

He looked at all the broken scattered pieces
And made a brand new vessel of my life
Every day possibility increases
‘Cause he placed me in a dream that never dies

And though I was a sinner, the Savior heard my cry
His mercy came and rescued me, He did not pass me by

Friday, September 23, 2016

Homophobia in the church

 I read two things recently that bothered me. I follow a website called Your Other Brothers, which is run by some young guys who all deal with same-sex attractions on some level. One of them recently wrote about an experience he had at church. He was applying for a one year Bible seminar the church had, and had to write his testimony as part of the application. He included his deliverance from homosexuality in his testimony, and he was rejected. He was also told it was best he didn't have any leadership roles in the church, and should stay away from the young people - verify. He was later told he couldn't lead a Bible study because of his past. (I would recommend reading Matthew's two posts: Hurt by the Church, and Why I Can't Be a Church Leader) .

   The second thing was yesterday morning. A young guy added me as a friend a while back who is in a Facebook group I am also in for guys dealing with same-sex attractions. By his recent posts on his Facebook page, it is obvious he has gone back to living the gay lifestyle. He posted a picture of him and his boyfriend, and got some very nasty comments. "eww, faggots", "burn in hell", etc. I commented and said even if you disagree with him, that doesn't mean you should make un-Christian and ignorant comments. (And no, I am not supporting him in his sin.)

  The word homophobia gets thrown around a lot and overused like racism does. If you're against gay marriage, you're homophobic. If you say homosexuality is a sin, you're  homophobic. If you are against men using the women's bathroom, you're  homophobic. It has become a word used to shame anyone who dares disagree with or oppose gay people in any way.

  Even though the word gets used in the wrong ways and people are falsely accused of being homophobic,   homophobia does exist. In the simplest terms, it is a fear of gay people, hence the "phobia" part of it. Sadly, it exists one place where it should definitively never exist: in the church.

  I have personally seen homophobia from Christians,  fortunately not aimed at me:

1) Bible college. Christians need to be careful about what they joke about and what they say about sins and issues. We never know who around us might be dealing with what we are joking about and treating with such disdain and judgement. There were many times I cringed and was hurt by jokes and comments made around me in the dorm of a Bible college, where guys were training to be ministers, missionaries, or other Christian ministries. They had no clue they were sharing a dorm with a  guy who was dealing with the very thing they were laughing about and making rude comments about.

2) My church. Several years back, there was a single guy close my age who I talked to a lot at church and who I attended a few concerts with. He was sitting behind me in church when someone who was speaking up front briefly mentioned something pertaining to gay people. This friend leaned up to me and said "they just need to round up all of those perverts and hang them." Ouch. He had no clue how deeply he had just hurt me.

3) Sunday School class. I've mentioned it  on here before, but it fits here. About 8 years ago, we were doing a series of lessons in Sunday School class on different issues of the day. This one Sunday the issue was homosexuality. This was at a time when not many people knew that I dealt with same-sex attractions, and I was still afraid for people to find out. There were two men in particular who had some very mean comments "Perverts" got thrown around a lot, and one of them - possibly both of them - said he'd rather his kids be around a murderer than one of those "perverts".

 Those three incidents are examples of homophobia. And here is one more that isn't personal, and is another I have shared before:

  A young man attended a church where he played the guitar in the worship band. He went to his pastor and confessed that he was attracted to other guys and wanted prayer. The pastor promised to pray for him, and he left. At the next church service, the pastor told the whole congregation about the young man, turned around to where the guy was standing with his guitar, and told him they didn't want his kind in the church, to leave, and never come back.

  Christians need to do a better job of understanding this issue and learn to treat it and the people involved in it in a Christ-like manner. No, we can't go the way of the liberal/progressive Christians and toss out what the Bible says and encourage people to be gay and Christian, but we need to change.

No, Christians do not have to support Black Lives Matter

  There has been a rash of posts condemning Christians who fault Black Lives Matter and who dare to say "All lives matter." There were some people posting that if we fault those people who kneel for the National Anthem and are saying we are part of the problem.

  Let's rewind a bit. The BLM was borne through a lie. The lie that Michael Brown was shot dead by a policeman while Brown had his hands up. The media ran with that, liberals ran with it, and the truth eventually came out..... Brown had previously tried to the cop's gun from him and was charging the cop when he shot him.

 But the truth didn't matter. Liberals liked the other narrative better. We watched with horror as the town of Ferguson was descended on by what became the BLM - people destroying property, stealing, rioting, ruining people's very livelihood - all because a black criminal was shot and killed while charging at a police officer.

 Since then, any time a black person is killed while resisting arrest, the BLM does what they do best: loot, burn buildings, attack people, cheer on the death of police officers, and riot. Sadly, the media and Obama never condemn it, but continually support BLM.

 People argue that what we see isn't what BLM is about... but if so, where are the voices of reason?
Where are the BLM leaders condemning the rioting and looting? Why aren't they urging restraint? Why aren't they calling for peaceful protests? Could it be that what we are seeing truly is representative of the BLM?

 Where are the BLM people when black babies are being murdered in abortion clinics at a much higher rate than white babies?

 Where are the BLM people when blacks are killing each other at an alarming rate?

 Why are the only black lives that matter the ones killed by cops and/or white people? And yes, that is a fair question, for that is the only time we hear from them... and especially when it is a criminal resisting arrest.

   Think about that for a moment. People are saying we Christians should stand with BLM, but they are the most visible when a criminal is killed by a cop. The death of a criminal resisting arrest is what gets them looting, burning, rioting, killing, and threatening lives. They cheer when a cop dies and call for the death of white people.

 And we are supposed to stand with them?

Fact: There are more white people killed by police than blacks. And we never riot. (Right around the time Brown was killed, an unarmed white kid was shot and killed by a black cop.... and no one cared, no one rioted, and Obama was silent)

Fact: There are far more blacks killed by other blacks than by whites or cops.

Fact: The founder of Planned Parenthood wanted abortion legalized to help thin down the black population..... yet black people continually vote for the party that champions and supports their work. Hillary Clinton has said she admires Sanger.

 Just this week, the BLM group has attacked Charlotte, NC. Among other things, they have:

Attempted to throw a reporter into a fire.

Destroyed a truck and trailer while the terrified driver was trapped inside.

Stripped and beat a man.

Burned buildings


Threatened white people and cops.

  I look at this and the other riots, and cannot help but come to these conclusions:

BLM is a hate and terrorist group

BLM is the black version of the KKK

BLM seems most upset when a criminal resists arrest and gets shot.

BLM doesn't care about black babies being killed, or black lives killed by other blacks.

Many, if not most, of the BLM people don't want equal rights. They want special rights, they want reparations for slavery, and they will never be happy until white people are subservient to them.

A Christian has no business supporting this group. And don't tell me I should do so as I watch these terrorists try to destroy the city of Charlotte.

   I have yet to see any proof that I am wrong, and it is beyond me why the media and Obama openly support and encourage them....unless they want more division and a race war.......

  And these athletes that are refusing to stand for the National Anthem......their stance is based on a lie. They are all overpaid and not oppressed, and they are mostly  protesting the same criminals getting killed that the BLM group is.

 And yes, they have the freedom to kneel or whatever, but we also have the freedom to be disgusted by it and condemn it.

 I am sure there is real racism in our country - on both sides - and I am sure there are black people oppressed and treated badly by whites, but those concerns need to be brought to the table in a reasonable manner. Burning buildings, and acting like terrorists isn't going to win anyone over that has common sense and is paying attention.

 Where I work, I wait on and cross paths with many black people on a daily basis. I have never treated them any differently than white people. I have had some rude black people, but I have had far more rude white people. Just yesterday, I had a nice chat with a black lady as I was outside doing my parking lot duty. I am not a racist.

  As much as I detest Obama's presidency and what he has done to our country, and as much as he disgusts me.... I believe 100% that he could have united this country as the first black president.... perhaps as we have never been united. Unfortunately, he has had an agenda, seems to hate America and white people, and he has seemed to have been bent on dividing the country and pitting white against black.

 So yes, pray....but if you are a Christian, do not support the Black Lives Matter group. Watch the rioting and see what you are supporting.... and pray for the people in danger by Black Lives Matter.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September random musings

A post of random stuff that I have been thinking about (and because I feel like writing, but have no ideas for a whole post)

1) I'm buying a house! Exciting! Scary! Awesome!

2) I plan on registering as an Independent voter the first chance I get.

3) I was hoping to eventually buy a piano after I move, but I am getting one free. God is good :)

4) I wish my head and face were Calvinist... it would be awesome if I was once shaved, always shaved.....

5) I believe before inviting a bunch of refugees into our country, we should start taking better care of our vets, homeless, and others here who need help.

6) Summer. I miss you already. And Fall, I'd like you a lot better if I didn't know what came next.

7) Too many people are treating the Bible like a bag of trail mix. They keep the parts they like, and discard the parts that are inconvenient and that doesn't go with culture.

8) If you're bored, read a book. I highly recommend it.

9) I have been stationed outside in the afternoons at work, and I am getting more tanned than I did at the beach.

10) I am not for Gary Johnson, but I wish he could be in the debates. It would be cool to have more than two people.

11) I am coming to the realization that owning my own house is going to involve some sacrifice and denying myself some things I want but don't need.... why is that so easy to do, yet difficult when it comes to doing it for God?

12) I believe that I like my current job better than any I have had. I hope I can stay there for a long time.

13) I have dreamed of having a room to make into a library...just my books, a lazy boy recliner, and a fireplace....or fake fire place. I can do that in the house I am buying, though the chair and fire place may take a while. I am way beyond excited about the idea.

14) Cigarette smokers have to be the biggest litterbugs in the world. They seem to feel they have a God-given right to throw their butts wherever they please, and in front of anyone.

15) My youngest sister and her family are in Montana until close to Thanksgiving.... and I miss my nephews already. And their parents. But especially my nephews :)

16) Of all the millions of people in our country, we wound up with these 2 corrupt individuals running for president?!

17) People have the right not to stand for the National Anthem.....and people have a right to be offended by their actions.

18) People who overdose are given a prescription for the pen that saves overdose victims. Isn't that enabling them to do it again?

19) The liberals want Hillary Clinton to be president so badly, that if she died before election day, they'd drag her corpse over the finish line.

20) White pumpkins are just weird. So are white Christmas lights.

21) My house will be just a few blocks from a Mexican restaurant. If I walked there and back, would that cancel out the calories from what I ate there?

22) Could I make a gift registry at Walmart and the hardware store when I move? :)

23) I dread having to put my sandals away and having to wear socks all the time because of cold weather.

24) I am the only person in my family that has a Christmas tree with colored lights. I am not sure what that says about me and them, but the word boring comes to mind.... and not for me :)

25) They truly need to get better guidelines and requirements for food stamps and what they can be used for.

26) If my Facebook feed is an indicator, people care more about animals being mistreated than babies being murdered.

27) We have two choices for president: A very corrupt elderly woman who should be in jail, and a very corrupt and immoral elderly reality show host who supported her for years and said she'd make a great president. And I am the bad guy for not falling for that?

28) People are weird who put fruit in a garden salad. You don't put veggies in a fruit salad.....

29) A bumper sticker I saw recently: WWJD? Not tailgate.

30) Why do motorcyclists get by with so much that automobile drivers cannot?

31) I am going to need a stove, refrigerator, dining room table and chairs, and a washer and dryer.....yikes.

32) Does anyone even read these random musings.........

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trusting God during the bumps in the road

  I blew it. Yesterday morning as I prayed, I was asking God to help me draw closer to Him, to trust Him more,  to help me get the money I needed to meet the closing costs and down-payment on this house I am buying, to help me not hit a deer, etc. (I hit 4 deer with my last car, so that is part of my morning prayers now... don't judge me) I had been upbeat, positive, and full of hope. Now I was having an Anne of Green Gables moment, as I sat there in my car in the "depths of despair".

  Why is it we can be intent on trusting God and be assured He is working everything out....until we hit a bump in the road. I surely am not the only person that has moments like this. One moment everything is fine and you're on a spiritual high, and than Bam! (or in this case, a thud and a bump)

   It happened on my drive to work. I was merrily driving along....well, as merrily as one can be early in the morning on your first day of work after the weekend. And then it happened. A wonderful person pulled out in front of me. I did something I am ashamed to admit.... I had my high beams on, and I left them on out of irritation. Yeah, I know.... bad. And then the morning got even better. The car in front of me jolted - yes, cars can jolt -  and something rather large came tumbling out from beneath the vehicle.....a dead deer. I had no time to stop or swerve,  so over it I went. My car immediately went from being fairly quiet to a loud roar that announced to the world that my muffler had serious issues.

 It is amazing the thoughts that run through your head at a moment like that:

If that idiot hadn't pulled out in front of me, I would have seen the deer and not hit it...

Oh, he had no car in front of him and he still hit it

Guess I shouldn't have left my high beams on, this is God getting back at me for that.

Man, how much does a muffler job cost? $400? $500?

I thought the car sounded slightly louder this week, now I'll get it fixed whether I wanted to or not.

Maybe this house buying isn't God's will after all. Here I am praying for a way to get money, and this happens. (I even texted that to my best friend)

I wonder what my insurance deductible is?

So much for praying I wouldn't hit a deer. Well, guess I didn't really hit it.

What if my gasoline tank or oil pan got punctured? How much damage did this do other than the muffler?

   Seriously - that all did go through my mind. I am not making that up.

  I was just a couple of miles from work, so I kept my eye on my gauges and drove cautiously, and noisily to work. I backed into a place, got a flashlight, and looked under my car. I could see nothing. The muffler system seemed to be there and not hanging. No fluids were leaking. Other than deer blood all over the back right side panel, I could see nothing. I got back in the car and brooded for a while, as I had my Anne of Green Gables moment.

  My mood slowly improved over the course of the work day, and I decided my BFF was right, that this had nothing to do with my buying a house. At the end of the day, I went roaring home, hoping for the best.

 The mechanic in residence diagnosed it as just needing a new muffler - it was rusty enough that the deer broke the connecting pipe. So now around $130 later, the car is running quieter than ever.

  As I prayed before I went to bed, I repented of my quick descent into discouragement and despair, and of letting go of this trusting God so quickly and easily.

 It is so easy to trust God when everything is going well, but then we have problems, life gets in the way, and then we find out what it is truly like to trust God. And yeah, for some this would have been barely a blip on their radar and they would not have reacted as I did...... but hey, I am a work in progress.

 And at least I got a new muffler out of it.

For Moments Like These

Verse 1
What if all your questions are questions without answers
So you'll hold on longer
And what if in the waiting, waiting on the Lord
Makes you stronger, oh stronger
What if doubt leaves you wondering how
What if your heart says “He's working it out”

Faith was made for moments like these
When God knows what you can't see
And you don't understand, but you choose to believe
Faith was made for moments like these

Verse 2
What if Heaven's silent and the silence seems to whisper
“Just keep hoping, oh hoping”
What if in the sorrow, sorrow brings a healing
To the broken, the broken
What if the thorns are a part of His will
What if His mercy is deeper still

Faith was made for moments like these
When God knows what you can't see
And you don't understand, but you choose to believe
Faith was made for moments like these

Oh when you're standing in the in between of what has been and what will be

Faith was made for moments like these
When God knows what you can't see
And you don't understand, but you choose to believe
Faith was made for moments like these

Election thoughts

**I am not attempting to sway anyone to vote or not vote any certain way. This is just me practicing my freedom of speech. 

 It is becoming increasingly unpopular to say you're not voting for Donald Trump. I believe even many Christian Trump supporters would be less offended if you said there was no God than if you aren't voting for Trump....which says a lot about our priorities as American Christians.

  The more I see and hear of Donald Trump, the more I dislike him, his views, his actions, his words..... and everything about him. Yet, fellow Christians - even fellow church members - tell me I must vote for him to stop this enormous monster Hillary Clinton.

   I've not had the best attitudes this election, and have tried to tone it down lately and not say much about Trump..... but that doesn't mean I have to stay silent until after the election, so it is time for a post about election stuff, just some random things on my mind about it:

I'm suspicious

1) It is still unfathomable to me how gullible  people are to support DT after years of him supporting Hillary Clinton and being buddies with her and Bill. I don't mean to be rude, but come on.....and I am the bad guy for refusing to fall for that? He even said a few years back that she'd make a great president..... so pardon me for being very suspicious. I don't believe anything he says.

The judges argument

2) A big argument used to try to swing people over to vote for Trump, is the Supreme Court Justice argument. Whoever the next president is, will be nominating possibly 3 judges to the court. Trump has promised to nominate conservative ones, and we know what kind Hillary will nominate, so we must vote for Trump so we get good judges.

Nice theory, but there are a couple of t hings wrong with that:

a) I don't trust Trump. He has proven he will say whatever he needs to say to get people's votes.

b) The Republican Party is full of spineless cowards who don't truly care about conservatism or Christian values. They did nothing to stop the horrible choices Obama had as his nominees for the court, or for Attorney General.

On the flip side, the Democrats are lethal when it comes to a conservative judge being nominated. Even if Trump should carry through on his promise, should he become president, I seriously doubt any very conservative judge will make it on the bench. The Democrats will fight it too hard and the Republicans won't fight for it hard enough.

Trump is no better than Hillary

3) I have yet to see proof Trump is much better than Hillary. I believe she is more qualified to be president than he is, especially when it comes to foreign policy. That isn't to say she is qualified or any less corrupt, but to me she is more qualified. Sure, there is the email and Benghazi thing, but he is worse than she is in areas, and is he any better than she is for supporting her for so many years? I knew Hillary was corrupt and wouldn't make a good president since the Clintons came on the scene..... and he didn't realize that til he ran as president. Either he has poor judgement, is a complete idiot, or he hasn't changed his opinion on her..... or all three.


4) Donald Trump does not represent my values, my beliefs, or morals. I view him even further left than Romney and McCain, who I now regret voting for.

Nothing has changed

5) My reasons for not supporting and voting for DT in the primaries have not changed. I was disgusted by his lack of character and morals, his past views and policies that he supposedly switched on so radically and drastically, his vulgarity, his pride in sinful acts, the way he treated his opponents and anyone who criticized him. I felt I could not support him and vote for him as a Christian, and just because he won the nomination does not change that.

He is Obama-lite

6) Something that has bothered me a lot about Obama are the same things I see in Trump:
His divisiveness

His narcissism

His thin skin

His personal attacks on anyone who criticizes him or disagrees with him

The way his past gets swept aside and ignored by his supporters and the media that supports him

His arrogance

His disregard for the separation of powers and his seemingly intent to go around Congress and the Constitution to get his way.

  Donald Trump may be more like Obama than Hillary is.

The Messiah complex

7) I am bothered how so many are looking at Trump as a savior. I have seen many comment how Trump is our only hope, that America has to elect him for us to be saved. I even saw a woman today say Trump is our savior. This is the same kind of stuff we saw from Obama's supporters.


8) The Second Amendment argument. This is another favorite one that gets thrown at me. If Hillary becomes president, she will do away with the Second Amendment, and we will lose our guns. Hillary may try to restrict gun rights, but a president nor the Supreme Court can do away with an amendment. That takes a convention of states.

 If Hillary becomes president, as she most likely will, and tries to restrict gun laws, as she most likely will... then every gun owner and anyone who favors gun rights needs to besiege their congressmen to stop her in her tracks.

I'm voting for Hillary?!

9) The "if you're not voting for Trump, you're voting for Hillary" argument. This is just stupid, excuse my bluntness. If I am given the choices of macaroni salad, pasta salad, or potato salad, I am going to pick pasta salad...... because I don't like the other two choices. Seriously, I don't like the other two..... they are nasty.  By my picking pasta salad to eat instead of macaroni salad, I am not picking potato salad to eat by default. That is nonsense..... and the same goes with this election.

 And I find it ironic and - can I be blunt again?  - hypocritical for people to overlook Trump supporting Hillary all of these years and saying she'd make a great president, than take issue with me not voting for him and claiming that means a vote for her. People whose candidates live in a glass house should not throw stones....(my paraphrase)  :)

I own my vote

10) The Republican Party does not own my vote. I in fact am planning on changing my registration to Independent. I am disgusted by the Republican Party and how it claims to support my values, but never does anything to prove that. They just want our votes so they can be in power.

My limit has been reached

11) Every conservative and Christian hopefully has their limit.... when a candidate is so bad and so close to being like the opposing party that they cannot in good conscience vote for that candidate. Trump is my limit. If we keep lowering our standards, we will soon be voting for people who we'd never vote for if they were on the other ticket.... and I think people already are with Trump. As I look at some of the Democrats that have run and some who have won, they don't look so bad compared to Trump. And we are most likely going to go down from here.  As long as the Republican Party can convince voters that the Democrat is worse than their candidate, Christians and conservatives will fall in line and do what we fault the Democrats for doing - voting for the devil himself to stop the opposing party from winning.

  I have resigned myself to Hillary Clinton being president. I may be wrong, but I believe the nomination of Donald Trump guaranteed her the presidency......but I'd be just as disgusted if he won. The only answer is to have our hope and faith in God, not in politics, our freedom, our leaders, or even our country. The church will survive Hillary or Trump.

  Want to make America great again? It won't happen by electing a godless corrupt leader, but by getting America back to God.

Monday, September 19, 2016

What are you known for?

  Ever notice that when you experience certain things with your senses, there are some things that make you think of some person you know?

  When I see a cool picture of a train, I think of my friend Denny Haight and post it to his Facebook page.

When I see a post about bacon, I think of my friend Shirley Dye, and post it to her page.

When I see something amusing about wine drinking, I think of my friend Bob and message it to him.

When I see or hear something interesting that involves violins or cellos, I think of my niece, Stephanie, and share it with her.

   People are often sharing quotes or memes about books with me, jokes they figure I'll like, anti-Hillary memes, anti-Trump memes......

   We can be known for many things. I have had people ask me for help in finding a song, advice on what Bible or Bible translation to use, advice on authors to read, good books to read on a certain topic or subject, advice on how to handle same-sex attractions,  and more.

 No one ever comes to me and asks mechanical advice....... I am not known for my mechanical expertise.

 No one ever comes to me for advice on the fantasy football league, because everyone knows I intensely dislike football.

  But when we are lying under the ground and all that is left of us is ashes and memories, what will people remember about us? What will people remember about me?

  They will most likely remember I loved to tell jokes, that I was an avid reader, that I liked to write, that I loved my nieces and nephews like they were my own kids and enjoyed spending time with them. They may remember my sarcastic wit - or just my sarcasm.

 But will they remember me as a good Christian? Will they remember me as generous, loving, compassionate, faithful to God, a good friend?

  I look at where God has brought me from, and am amazed at His mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness...... and how much He has changed me.... but many of those changes are changes people can't see nor do they know about. Then I look at where I feel I need to be, and am at times discouraged. I fear sometimes people may look at me and see only the bad and the many areas I need to improve in, and never see beneath the surface to the man God is slowly shaping me into..... slow only because I am a difficult piece of clay to work with.

  May God help me, and all of us who follow Him, to be known as loving, compassionate, and faithful followers of Him that are truly like Jesus.

  As I have been thinking along these lines, this song came to my mind. Even though it is written by a woman to be biographical, it goes with what I tried to say.

She Loved

Someone once asked
If only you knew
How short life would be
What would you do?
What would they say
When God called you home?
What would they engrave
Once you were gone?

I hope they would see
What I've done in my life
Who I've cared for
And how I survived
I hope they'd say

She loved more than anything else
She loved with all of her heart
She loved everyone she believed in
She loved...oh she loved

She loved the Lord
And served all her life
A sacrificial mother
And an honorable wife
She gave all she had
And through every trial
Made life much sweeter
Because of her smile

Everyone will see
What she's done in her life
Who she cared for
And how she survived
I'm sure they'd say

She loved more than anything else
She loved with all of her heart
She loved everyone she believed in
She loved...oh she loved

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I can hate you and hold a grudge if you don't vote for my candidate

   Could it possibly be that we Christians have given politics too high of a place in our lives? Yes, it is important who we put in office. Barack Obama has proven that to be true as he has done more damage to our freedoms and the security of our country than any other president. But does who we vote for and who we want as president take precedence over our Christianity and how we treat and feel towards our fellow Christians... or even non-Christians?

"If Hillary wins, I am going to blame you for not voting for Trump."

"If Hillary wins, I am going to blame you for nominating Trump for the GOP ticket."

  These are two of many things being said by Christians.

   This has been a vicious election. I don't believe I am letting my views of Donald Trump color my thinking when I say this,  but I believe he is largely responsible for the hatred, vitriol, and division in the Republican Party and among conservatives and Christians. The man has been a liberal all of his life, and he fought like a liberal in the primaries. He attacked his opponents, lied, spread tabloid stories, and encouraged violence... and it trickled down to many of his supporters. I was shocked and horrified at some of the things Trump supporters were posting... it was very much like Obama and his supporters... and I saw some things worse than what Obama's supporters have said.

  So I joined in and fought back. I called people names and posted some pretty harsh stuff myself aimed at people who were supporting this great divider. There has been a lot of vitriol and anger from all sides: pro-Trump, anti-Trump, pro-Hillary, anti-Hillary, pro-Bernie, anti-Bernie. What is saddest is the stuff that has been coming from we Christians.

Here is a newsflash for you if you are a Christian:

No, you cannot hold it against #nevertrumpers when Hillary wins the presidency.

No, you cannot hold it against pro-Trumpers when Hillary wins the presidency.

    Can we honestly say we are being like Jesus during this election? Yes, I am disgusted at the people who bypassed decent and conservative candidates and gave us a candidate who is so far removed from conservative and Christian values and morals that he's in another universe.....but does that give me the right to be angry with them, say harsh things to them, and write them off? Absolutely not. But I have.

   And even if - and that is a big if, for I don't agree - IF we #nevertrump people, by not voting for Trump,  ARE voting for Hillary....does that mean you can be angry with us and hold it against us when she wins? Uh, no way. Even if I went out and cast a vote for Hillary, that does not give any Christian the right to hold it against me, condemn me,  and be angry with me.

   Nowhere in the Bible does it say we can hate someone, be angry with them, and hold a grudge if they don't vote the way we want them to...... but you would think the way we have been acting that it isn't only in there, but that it is one of the commandments. "Thou shalt hate, hold a grudge against, and say all manner of evil things against those who don't vote like you"... the 11th commandment.

   I have tried to tone it down. I still have a lot of anger towards people who gave us these two horrible choices for president, and beyond disgusted by this election, our two horrible choices,  and the Republican Party. On election day, I am not voting for Hillary OR for Trump. Neither represent my values and morals, and I want neither for my president. I will be disappointed the day after election day no matter which one wins.

   However, no one has the right to be angry with me, to tell me it is my fault that Hillary wins, and to hold her win against me or anyone else. On the flip side of the coin, I nor anyone else has the right to be angry, to tell them it is their fault Hillary won, or yell and scream if Trump should win and turns out just like we expected and warned.

   I haven't arrived yet, but I am doing better. I am still frustrated with and have some anger towards people who voted for Trump in the primaries, and I don't believe any Christian or conservative should have voted for and supported him. But what is done is done, we all have to live with the choices those people have made, and we all have to let it go and trust God. Conservatism lost in the primaries, but God is still God and the church will survive whatever Hillary or Trump does to our country and freedoms.

   When the dust settles on the day after election day, and Hillary is most likely president... or just as bad, Trump is.... we will go on living our lives. If we truly serve Christ, will we be able to honestly say we honored God with not just how we voted, but how we acted towards those who didn't vote the way we wanted them to? I can't say that I have in the last few months, but with God's help I am still going to be #nevertrump, but minus the anger and finger pointing.

 We are first and foremost Christians - followers of Jesus and aiming to be like Him. Our politics, freedoms,  and voting are not exempt areas from that, but just more places we need to be like Him and love people.....no matter how they vote, or if they vote.

 I may still post an anti-Trump post occasionally, but am trying not to get personal or confrontational about it. And if you get angry and blame me when Hillary wins, talk to God about it.

He is all that to me

   There is a neat Bible I have that I reviewed a few years ago. It is called The Names of God Bible. When the Bible was originally written, there were different names of God used that meant something specific, or highlighted a characteristic of Him in that passage. Many of those were taken out and replaced with "God" and "Lord". What this Bible does, is put those names back in the passages where they were. There is a page at the front of the Bible telling what each name means. It gives your Bible reading a new and more meaningful dimension to see what characteristic of God is being emphasized in the passage.

   Since using this Bible, it has made me wonder if the Bible translators have done us all a disservice by using the more generic names for God throughout the Bible. Sure, we who are very mature in our faith know what God is like, but to have the reminders all throughout the Bible is encouraging. And God used them for a reason.

  No other god has so many names as the one true God. Allah, Buddah, nor any other. And no matter what we are going through, there is a name of God that can be found to apply to that situation.

When we are in need, He is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides

When we are afraid, He is our fortress and strong tower....and our shepherd

When we feel alone and unloved, He is Abba, loving Father

When life is crazy and full of turmoil, He is Jehovah Shalom, God of peace

When we are sick and hurting, He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals.

   The list of names for this God we serve is a long one, and I am not going to list them all here. I do think it would do us all well to read and study into these names and remember them in times when they apply to our needs. There are books on the names of God, and a simple Google search will bring up websites of names of God and their meanings. He uses different names for Himself for a reason, so we may as well learn them and use them.

 This song has been going through my mind, most likely because I heard it sung in concert Monday evening. The last verse says it all:

I call you all that, Lord you are all that.
You have been all that to me.
I call you all that, Lord you are all that.
All that you are, and all that you'll be.

  All of these names for God mean something, and if you look through those names of this wonderful God we serve, remember He is and has been all that to us, and always will be.

"I Call You Faithful"

I call you holy, your name is holy.
You are so holy to me.
I call you holy, your name is holy.
Holy you are and holy you'll be.

I call you holy, your name is holy
You are so holy to me.
I call you holy, your name is holy.
Holy you are and holy you'll be
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

(I call you rightous Lord)
I call you righteous, your name is righteous.
You are so righteous to me.
I call you righteous, your name is righteous.
Righteous you are and righteous you'll be.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

(I call you awesome, God)
I call you awesome, your name is awesome.
You are so awesome to me.
I call you awesome, your name is awesome.
Awesome you are, and awesome you'll be.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

(I call you faithful, Lord)
I call you faithful, your name is faithful.
You are so faithful to me.
I call you faithful, your name is faithful.
Faithful you are, and faithful you'll be.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

(I call you healer, Lord)
I call you healer, your name is healer.
You are the healer to me.
I call you healer, your name is healer.
Healer you are, and healer you'll be.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

(I call you savior, Lord)
I call you savior, your name is savior.
You are the savior to me.
I call you savior, your name is savior.
Savior you are, and savior you'll be.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

I call you all that, Lord you are all that.
You have been all that to me.
I call you all that, Lord you are all that.
All that you are, and all that you'll be.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Driving like Jesus

     I saw a bumper sticker Monday that made me smile. It had "WWJD? - not tailgate."

   I am not sure when and how it happened, but I have turned into a very impatient driver. Slow people irritate me, people who pull out in front of me irritate me, people who cut me off irritate me. Common words from my lips are "idiot, moron, I hate semis, etc". I have been trying to do better, and when I do mutter these words of frustration, they are usually followed by "sorry God".

   Why is it when we ask for help in an area, it seems like we are given opportunities to practice what we prayed about? As I prayed yesterday morning before leaving work, I asked God to help me in this area. So of course God made sure no one irritated me on the way to work. Wrong. I had only gone one mile when it started. As I approached a 4-way stop, a semi turned towards me from the right, breezing right through the stop sign and forcing me to back up. That made me a tad bit upset, but I backed up and when there was room approached the stop sign again.....to find another semi breezing through the stop sign towards me, again forcing me to back up. I muttered "I hate semis" as I finally got up to the stop sign.

  That wasn't the end of it. As I drove through town, a car pulled out in front of me... and went slow. We came to a red light where I needed to turn right and sat. After it turned green, he turned right.... at a light where you can turn right on red. Sigh.

  The rest of the way to work was uneventful, but I remembered what I had prayed. It was like praying for patience, and then getting opportunities to put it into practice. I said a quick prayer asking God to forgive my impatience and started my work day in a better frame of mind.

 This morning as I had my early devotions, I decided God must surely have a sense of humor. I am reading a book that I just reviewed "365 Pocket Morning Prayers", which is set up like a yearly devotional with a prayer for each day. If you are reading through it day by day, the prayer doesn't always apply. The one for today was "a prayer for sickness"..... and I am not sick, so I flipped to the next one. It was titled "A prayer about Example: watching how I drive." I won't post the whole devotional here, but it was something I could have written, and in fact applied completely to my prayer the day before. I had to smile as I realized this prayer was indeed tailored perfectly for me.


You don't see much of it anymore, WWJD?( what would Jesus do?) When I was working at a Christian bookstore from 1999 to 2004, the fad was at its peak.... and yes, it was a fad. The majority of people wearing the t-shirts, bracelets, or one of the other umpteen items it was on didn't truly live what they were advertising.

  WWJD? has faded into the dustbin of history along with The Prayer of Jabez, Testamints, and other Christian fads. It has been replaced with statements of what Jesus would or would not do.

Jesus wouldn't bomb Baghdad (Meryl Streep)

Jesus would go to a gay wedding and be OK with homosexuality, as long as it is love.

Jesus would drink beer.

Jesus would vote Democrat

Jesus would vote Republican.

Jesus would welcome the refugees into the country

Jesus would vote for Donald Trump

Jesus would be Cathlolic

Jesus would be Calvnist

And so on.

   If we think about it and are really honest, all too many times what Jesus would or would not do amazingly lines up with our ideals and beliefs. We vote Republican, so Jesus would. We vote Democrat, so Jesus would. We drink beer, so Jesus would. We don't drink alcoholic beverages, so Jesus wouldn't. We are OK with gay marriage, so Jesus is OK with it.

 We have basically made Jesus into our own image, and that image looks a lot like us....or just like us. Instead of molding our life to what the Bible says and praying to be like Jesus, we make Him like us. He has our views, our beliefs, our likes, and our dislikes.

  Of course there are some things that you can prove Biblically that Jesus would or would not do, but all too often we let our feelings dictate what He would or would not do. And all too often we use what we feel He would do to try to affect an outcome we want. We want Trump for president, so we keep saying Jesus would vote for him. We want gay marriage legalized, so we say Jesus would be OK with it. Whatever suits our wishes and agenda, Jesus would be on board with it. We all do it. Whether conservative Christian, liberal Christian, sinner, or even atheist....WWJD? becomes something we use to get what we want.

  There was a married couple who had a table and spoke at a conference I attended in June of 2013 and 2014. They started a website and have some materials to go along with it to present a new idea: WJD - what Jesus did. That is a lot easier to prove than what He WOULD do. All we have to do is read the Gospels, for they are full of what Jesus did. I like that idea better. It isn't as easy to fit Jesus into our mold and likeness if we focus on what He did, instead of what we think He would do.

  If we did what Jesus did, and didn't spend so much time saying what He would do, then maybe we would be more like Jesus, instead of making Him more like us.