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

Monday, October 31, 2016

Be not conformed

    I've been thinking about this idea of not conforming lately. Romans 2:12 says  " Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

    I looked up the definition of conform. Yes, I know what it means, but often the full definition of a lot of words consists of more than we realize. This is what I found:

1) comply with rules, standards, or laws.

2) (of a person) behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards.

3) be similar in form or type; agree.

   All three definitions fit this idea of conforming, but the second one stood out to me - behaving according to socially acceptable conventions or standards.... and that perhaps fits in with the Biblical idea of conforming.

  The church has become so much like the world, that we have passed up conforming to the world long ago. There isn't much that the world does that the majority of Christians will not. And even those of us who think we aren't conforming to this world most likely are in ways we don't even realize.

  I tend to think of myself as a non-conformist, which doesn't make you popular.

I don't conform to all of my church's teachings and beliefs, instead trying to get them from God.

I don't conform to the push by the world and many Christians to embrace my sexuality and toss out what the Bible says about it.

I don't conform with the Republican party and support and vote for a candidate I feel I can't and shouldn't vote for.

 I don't conform with the idea of what real men do and are like.

I don't conform with all of the fads and trends that come along.

   There is a danger of always conforming. No, I am not advocating rebellion and never doing what  people expect you or want you to do...... there is a time and place for that.  However, if we constantly conform to what people want - even Christians and the church - we will soon stand for nothing, and fall for everything. Instead of God and our conscience being our guide, popular opinion becomes our guide. We lose our uniqueness, moral compass, and individuality. We cave easier to peer pressure, and are less apt to have any views or opinions that aren't approved by others around us. If the church falls, we fall with it. If society embraces some new sin or taboo thing, we also accept it.

    Never have I faced more pressure to conform than I have had with this election. I am told I am as bad as the Westboro Church if I don't vote for Trump. I'm stubborn, selfish, dumb, a troublemaker, ruining my Christian witness..... and more. And this all comes from Christians. For a while, I conformed in one way and tried not to post anything against Trump.... not because I had changed my mind, but because it wasn't popular and I got a lot of heat for it.....but this week, I decided I would no longer conform in even that way. I will try to be kind, but I am done conforming.

  My desire is to live completely by what God wants, and not by any outward influences. Is that even possible today? I am not sure, but it is something any follower of Jesus should strive for, even if we don't fully attain it.

It means not doing everything your family wants and expects of you.

It means not doing everything society wants and expects.

It even means not doing everything your church, pastor, and other Christians want and expect of you.

It means not doing what your body and desires want.

It may mean going against your own government and country, and facing fines or imprisonment.

It may mean not always going with the political party you're affiliated with.

  And there are things we have to conform with that aren't anything that will affect us spiritually. I have to dress for work in a way I don't want to.....especially  the tie..... I hate the tie..... I have to keep certain laws if I want to stay out of jail and keep a driver's license.

  Those are not what the Bible is referring to. The Bible is addressing the things that will dull our relationship with God, that will hurt our Christian witness,  that will make us too much like the world, that will draw our attention from Him too much, that will lower our inhibitions to sin and worldly pleasures,  that will cause us to forget we are living for another world.....and so forth.

   This may be a shock to those who know me very well, but I am not perfect. You may need to sit down after that revelation. Take a few deep breaths, relax and wait til your heart settles down........ I wouldn't want my past sins broadcast to the world, but they are all forgiven and under the blood.....unless I would run for public office..... :)  I have plenty of room for improvement..... I know that, and am praying about it. I don't need raging Trump supporters to tell me that..... That said, no matter what our past is, if we are forgiven and serving God, that does not mean we have to accept horrible behavior in a candidate and vote for them just because "all have sinned"..... so no, I won't even conform to the Calvinists who are chirping that and saying Donald Trump's sins are no worse than mine.

  I feel so strongly about this issue that I cannot as a Christian vote for the man. It would be letting down and compromising, and would most likely cause me to let down and compromise in other areas. It is sad that even Christians in my own church can't get it. They are unable to see, or they just refuse to admit that both candidates are equally reprehensible to me. Since they decided they can or have to vote for him, they feel I have no reason or justification to not go along and also vote for him.

 This same determination has led me to follow God instead of the sexual desires that have tried to rule my life. This same determination causes me to not do things others do, go places others go, view things others view, drink things others drink.... I know people are viewing this election as so important that we should set aside Christian principles and vote for what they view the good of the country, but if we always give into what people want us to do for the good of something, we will never stand for anything and will end up completely conformed to the world. (And not all Christians feel they are doing that to vote for Trump, but that is what some want me to do).

   I have felt so shallow for so long, and I don't want to be. I've wanted my own way, and not spent enough time on my relationship with God. Everything matters to Him. I want to be conformed to His plan and desire for my life, not others..... whether it be politics or my sexuality. I don't want to please people. I want to please Him. And that isn't popular, sometimes not even in the church.

 Be not conformed to the world. I don't want that. I want to be conformed with all I am to God.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

How you should vote for Donald Trump

 I have a dear friend at work that is a great Christian lady of around 70. I appreciate her and have a lot of confidence in her. We were chatting one day this week, and she told me she has no idea what to do about voting in this election. She knows what Hillary is like and is horrified by her extreme abortion views, but she is also disgusted by Trump and what he has done and said. She can't vote for Hillary, and doesn't want to vote for Trump, but feels she should vote. She was literally in tears about it, and asking me what she should do.

  There are a few different types of Trump voters:

1) There are the ones who voted for him in the primaries and picked him over decent Christian conservatives. They cheered as he did character assassination on good men and did all he could to destroy them. They defend everything he does and says, and can be as brutal and lethal as Obama's supporters have been.

2) Then there are the reluctant voters, or as someone put it, the political hostages. They feel they must vote for Trump to stop Hillary, and have never seriously considered not voting for him.

3) And then there are the ones like my friend. They are actually in distress and sorrow over the prospect that they may have to vote for Donald Trump.

  I think it is sad that conservatives and Christians picked this man, but sadder still is how they act towards those who won't fall in line, or those like my friend. They don't care about people feeling guilt, sorrow, and anguish at the idea of voting for their guy. He got the nomination, he crushed his opposition, and they are flying high at the idea of this corrupt misogynist being president. If they had any true character, if they were like Jesus at all, they should feel some sense of sympathy or something along that line for those who are agonizing over this decision.

   But they don't. No, I am not talking about the people voting for him just because he got the nomination and they fear Hillary so much. I am not talking about the people who don't defend and excuse him and his horrible behavior and words. I am talking about the in your face full supporters of his who would still vote for him if he killed people, as he said. They do their best to guilt or shame those who won't vote for him, some going as far as to say we are ruining our Christian witness and sinning because we won't.

 A friend of mine posted this:

An apologist I know recently cast his vote for Trump. What is different from his vote and many others is that he hated it and wept over the decision. He saw this decision as horrible no matter how you cut it and saw the decision as being harmful to America no matter what.

I won't vote for Trump, but those who are trying to convince me to vote for him would get a better hearing if they truly wept and hated this decision rather than accuse those of us who can't vote for him as helping Hillary.

  If you must vote for Donald Trump, that is how you should do it: reluctantly, sorrowful, and praying that God will somehow bring good out of this awful election.

 By the way, as anti-Trump as I am, you may be surprised that I didn't tell my friend to not vote for Trump. I commiserated with her over how terrible the choices are this election, and told her she needs to vote the way she feels she should. I believe even if God doesn't want us to vote for Trump - and I am convinced He doesn't want ME to - it would be better to do it with that kind of attitude, than the one that the people who are totally sold out to him have.

 Vote for him if you feel you must, but do it with sorrow and reluctance.

My spiritual gift

   Thursday evening,  I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Christopher Yuan speak. He lived a very wild life of gay sex, drugs, and drug dealing in his younger days, and was eventually arrested and sent to federal prison for dealing drugs. While in prison,  he was diagnosed HIV+ and also became a Christian. After serving 3 years of a 6 year sentence, he was released and went to Moody Bible Institute where he got his doctorate and now teaches. He has an amazing testimony and is proof that God can reach and save anyone, no matter how far gone they may seem.

    One of  the things he talked about is a subject important to me: singleness. He brought out something I have never heard anyone say about singleness. In 1 Corinthians 7, singleness is labeled as a gift. That isn't news to anyone who knows their Bible very well. However, something Christopher said was completely new to me. According to him, the Greek word used for gift in that passage is not the same Greek word used for a gift as a present,  but translates to mean a spiritual gift. So singleness isn't just a gift in the sense we think of gifts, but is a spiritual gift like teaching, preaching, prophecy, etc.

   I'll admit, that takes a bit to wrap my brain around.....singleness is a spiritual gift? That is kind of deep.

   I'm honestly not anti-marriage. Sure, the last wedding I attended was 16 years ago today....my little sister's. I had to go to it, since I was in it........But seriously, I may joke about marriage and women a lot, but I am very pro-marriage and I love women. I had to hide for so many years my true reasons for not dating and marrying, that joking about marriage and women became my cover. It was easier if everyone thought I wasn't interested in marriage....... and it still comes natural to joke about women and marriage.

   That said, could it be possible that we put marriage on too high of a pedestal? Yeah, I get it that God ordained marriage and said that part about it not being good that man is alone. But should marriage be our main goal in life? Should it be what defines us? Should being single be any less favored than marriage? Should single people be looked on with pity as if they are only half a person because they have no significant other? Should singleness be equated with loneliness?

   Honestly? I get lonely at times. There are times I wish I could meet a friend for lunch or shopping..... but how many guys like to shop? I occasionally am able to do lunch with someone, and am thankful for the times I get to spend with my nieces and nephews..... but it isn't that bad being single. Maybe I have just gotten used to it, for it used to bother me a lot and I lived what I thought was a lonely life for so long.

   The older I get, the more I realize there is no person who can truly complete us and make us happy. There are countless married people who are just as lonely and lonelier than the average single person. It used to be I only knew a couple of people who were divorced, but as divorce and remarriage has gotten more accepted in the church, I am seeing more and more couples break up their marriages. If marriage is so great, if it makes people so happy and completes them, then why do so many marriages break up?

  I am no marriage expert, but I have read and seen enough to know a little about it. I have many ideas of why marriages break up, and may be right on some, and wrong on others. There is one though that definitely holds true: too many people go into marriage thinking it is going to make them happy and will complete them......and it doesn't go at all like they thought it would.

   We all need to have our hope in Christ, and have a relationship with Him that overshadows and affects all other relationships and everything in life, Married people need that, and single people need it. If we were truly in love with Jesus, we might not feel the rush to marry. No, I am not in any way saying if you love Jesus enough you won't want to marry. I do believe that there is such pressure put on people, and marriage has been made into almost an idol even in the church, that too many people rush into dating and marriage before they even know who they are and whose they are.

   Thursday night's speaker spoke on sexual identity, and how our sexuality is not WHO we are. Could it possibly be true that we can make our marital status who we are and miss out on being everything God wants us to be? Who are we really? Are we a single person, a married person that is a spouse to John or Mary, or are we first and foremost God's child?'

   Singleness has challenges, but so does marriage. Could it be that neither is better than the other, and both are equal? I wanted to be married for years. There were nights I cried myself to sleep because I wanted it so badly. But would it really have made me happy? At this point in my life, I cannot imagine being married. I'd love to have kids, but a wife? Yikes. With kids, you can drop them off at grandma's or get a babysitter. With a wife though, there is no such thing as wife sitting. You can't drop her off with your parents so you can get away from her for a while. (OK, I admit my lack of attraction for women might play into that a bit.... or a lot)

    Back to singleness being a spiritual gift. A few years back, someone published a book with the title "if singleness is a gift, what is the return policy?" Sadly we have made singleness seem like a bad thing. There are countless girls and women across the globe who have never been asked out on a date, and may never be asked. There are boys and men who have never asked a girl out on a date, or did and were rebuffed. You would be hard pressed to convince most of these people that singleness is any kind of gift. They would look on it as a curse, and something that makes them unhappy and lonely.

   Now here's the rub. I know I am too outspoken... that got me banned from speaking in own church 10 years ago.......and you may think I am biased, but I think the church has done a horrible job with singles. If we did this family of God thing the right way, no one should sit in a church and feel they don't belong because they are single... or for any other reason. Marriage should never be held up in a church to the extent that it is at the expense of making single people feel like they don't belong, or are have a disease that needs cured.

   My former pastor and his wife started something at my church several years ago that my current pastor and wife carried on for a while, but it seems to have died out. On the Sunday closest to Valentine's Day, they would take both Sunday services and speak on marriage/dating relationships. I'm not knocking that, and I believe the church has failed in preparing people for marriage and what to truly expect and how to deal with problems and conflict. However, it isn't all that fun or encouraging to be sitting there as a single knowing you will most likely never marry. It is actually depressing, disheartening, and a reminder that you're an oddity. If a church is going to do something like that - and they should - it would be better to have a separate time other than the worship service where only married people would come.

   If you're married, imagine being in a service where singleness was being discussed, how to live life as a single, etc. Unless you're thinking of divorcing your spouse and living as a single person, you'd feel out of place and it wouldn't be relative to you. Welcome to my world.

  What if single people had just as an important part in the family of God as married couples/families?  What if singles were as an important part of the church as married people? What if it wasn't considered abnormal or unusual to be single? What if single people weren't pitied?

   Christopher Yuan related a story Thursday evening about a single female friend who went as a missionary to another country for a few years. When she returned to the US, her friends kept asking her if she had someone special in her life, if she was seeing someone, etc. When she said no, some friends wanted to pray for her.... as Christopher said, "as if she had cancer or some serious disease." That kind of flies in the face of it being a gift.

   There are both advantages and challenges of being single or married. According to Paul, single people can easier be about God's work without the attention needed for a wife and kids. To be honest, I haven't found the place yet to be that. I go to church and sit in my pew, occasionally comment in Sunday School, listen to the sermon, sing (unless I don't like the song), talk to a few people, and go home. Currently, I see no opportunities to serve God in any special way that married people do not.

   If singleness is a spiritual gift, how do I use it? If one has the gift of teaching, they teach. if someone has the gift of prophecy, they prophesy.... but how does one use the gift of singleness?

   There is my blogging. Especially since I have gotten more open about talking about same-sex attraction related stuff, I fairly often have guys thank me for what I wrote and get some help from it. Yeah, who knew... me being helpful and encouraging. Maybe God will lead me to use this gift in other ways.

  If all goes well, I will be moving into my own house within the next two weeks. For the first time in 10 years, I will be living all alone with no room mate or parents.... just me in a good-sized house. My single status will most likely become even more of a reality then, but I am not dreading it, but looking forward to this new venture and page in my life. I have no idea what is in store for me as a single Christian male, but I am hoping and praying God can somehow use me, and use this singleness status so that it actually is a spiritual gift, and one that I use for Him.

  People used to say "they are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good". Unfortunately, too many of us are the opposite. Whether single or married, we all need to be about God's kingdom a lot more than we are.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Donald Trump in the Bible

  There has been a lot of comparisons between Trump and Bible characters that are nauseating and just wrong...... I went over that in my last post. Trump is no David, Esther, Sampson, and definitely no Jesus. However, since his supporters enjoy Biblical comparisons between DT and people in the Bible, I thought I'd do one just for those who enjoy these Biblical comparisons......

1) Nebuchadnezzar. Good old Neb is the first person who pops into my mind for finding Trump comparisons in the Bible. He was arrogant, egotistical, and thought way too highly of himself. If there was such a thing as reincarnation, Trump could easily be Neb reincarnated. Anyone who knows their Bible very well knows that God took Neb down a few pegs. Who knows....that may happen to DT, though if he started grazing like a cow, they'd lock him up today.

2) Absalom. Absalom is best well known for trying to take the kingdom away from his father. However, one of the first mentions of Absalom is when he falls into lust with his half sister Tamar. 2 Samuel tells the sordid tale of a lust filled Absalom forcing himself sexually on his half sister. With Trump's bragging about sexually assaulting women, he is like Absalom. (And yes, grabbing women where he said he likes to grab them IS sexual assault).

3) The anti-Christ. Bet you didn't see that one coming..... No, I am not saying DT is the anti-Christ, just like him. As I watch with horrified disbelief at the evangelical Christians fully supporting and defending a man they never would if he was running as a liberal, it makes me realize all over again how easily people will be deceived by the anti-Christ, and how easily even Christians will accept him. (all he'd have to do is run for office against Hillary) I thought the same thing when Obama so easily won people over, and Trump has done the same thing.

4) Herod Antipas. We read about this guy in the Gospels. He got the hots for his brother's wife, so she divorced her husband and married him. Sounds more closer to Trump than David and Trump.

5) Herod Agrippa. This guy is the one who people were saying was a god. He was so full of himself that he just accepted their praise, so God had him eaten alive by worms.....no one has called Trump a god......though they act like he is one, and he has been compared to Jesus.... and he accepts all the praise he can get.

6) Ahab. Nothing in particular, but still more like Trump than David. Ahab was a wicked king who worshiped other gods and allowed the Israelites to worship other gods. Trump is wicked, and has definitely worshiped other gods.....not wooden statues, but sex, money, and power, and he is leading God's children down the wrong path today.

7) The Pharisee. In Luke 18, Jesus tells about a Pharisee who was bragging about his own righteousness and compared him to a publican who was beating his chest and saying "God be merciful to me, a sinner". While courting the Christian vote, Trump has been rather full of himself with his own righteousness, even bragging that he had never done anything he needed to ask God's forgiveness for. Christians, meet your Pharisee.

8) Rehoboam. He is best known for listening to the wrong advice of his advisers. Some encouraged him to be easier on the people than his father had been, and others recommended he be even harder on the people. He went with the latter advice, and his decision divided the kingdom for the rest of Israel's day of kings. Trump has also caused major division, dividing the Republican party, conservatives, and Christians..... possible beyond repair.

9) Satan. Yes, I went there. Satan is the great deceiver and a liar from the beginning. Trump has become the greatest deceiver since Obama deceived the country 8 years ago. Whatever he says, his supporters believe, even though he said the opposite not long ago.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Late October musings of hope and despair

  I called off sick today. I hated to do so, for I need that $25 I will be missing on my paycheck. Just kidding, I don't make THAT much in a day.........  ;) ...... but the last time I went to work sick is the day I passed out at work and got admitted to the hospital for 3 days...... so why chance it.....Having unexpected free time has meant more time to think, and I have been doing a lot of thinking today...... and sleeping..... but also a lot of thinking.

  I can't believe that October is almost over. This time next week, we will be in November, and then we will blink and it will be Christmas. This month has flown by, and buying a house has added to the busyness of the month and made it go even faster.

  Here is what has been going through my mind today and other days lately:

1) Meeting authors

The highlight of my month was meeting authors Kimbery Woodhouse and Tracie Peterson last Monday on my trip to the Amish part of Ohio. The day was beautiful and made for wandering the streets of Sugarcreek and Berlin.

2) The weather

  The weather is getting colder, and I am so not ready for it. As I walked into work yesterday morning, I found myself wishing I had a pair of gloves. I did have the foresight to wear a hat, so my head wasn't cold at least.

 One of my favorite warm weather things to wear is sandals...... but those days are over for several months, and I am at the point I am wearing socks while indoors. I miss summer already.

 And have I mentioned lately how much I hate winter, and snow, and ice, and driving on winter roads.....and everything else about winter, except for Christmas?

3) Special services

 My church had scheduled revival services this week, and the evangelist had to cancel.... since I don't like to hear this man preach, I wasn't disappointed :)...... and then we got someone else to come who I never heard of, and we are starting an evening later......a mystery speaker who could be better, or worse..... more long-winded, or not long-winded at all........hopefully they will at least sing without an accordion, which was going to happen with the other guy and his wife.......

4) Cheap CDs

  Upon the recommendation of a sales clerk at the Salvation Army store in Boardman, I checked out a store Monday that I had never been in called The Exchange. They sell (mostly) used CDs, DVDs, video games, comic books, and a few other items. Most impressive to me was a large display of CDs that were buy one for $1 and get 5 free. It took me a long time to go through them all, but I found 18 that were of interest to me, so I got 18 CDs for $3, about 16 cents each, including two Christmas CDs to add to my Christmas collection of CDs.

5) Speaker

 There is a speaker/author I have long wanted to hear in person, Christopher Yuan. I am finally going to get to to that this Thursday evening as he is speaking close to me in Youngstown at a free event. I am definitely looking forward to it.

6) Prayer

  I used to think I had to say the right words and phrases when I pray, but I have slowly come to the realization that God doesn't care about the words and how we say them. He cares about our heart and attitude when we are praying.

7) Discouraging times

 I have been extremely discouraged and depressed lately, and a couple of things are playing into it:

The election  

 To me, it doesn't matter if Hillary or Trump wins.....though I remain convinced she will - our country is in trouble if either wins. How could either party come up with such lousy candidates so unqualified to lead this country? And how can so many Christians in both parties fall for their lies? If I wake up on the day after election, I will be as depressed and disgusted that Trump is president than if Hillary is. There is no good outcome to me.

  But yet our hope cannot be in our freedoms, a political party, a politician, our country, or even in the church and religion..... it has to be in God, and none of this is a surprise to Him. He will still be in control no matter which lousy corrupt candidate wins.

The house

 And can I admit my discouragement with buying this house? I didn't realize how much money this was going to cost. When I bought a house 15 years ago or so, the seller must have paid the seller costs, and there was no down-payment...... I didn't have that kind of money.

 This time around, the seller is not helping, and there is a down-payment. Closing is in 13 days, and I still need closing costs and down-payment...... well, I actually have enough for the down-payment, but need that money for things I need to buy.

 And then I had to pay an unexpected $500 earnest money, and then $350 for an appraisal that is happening this Friday.

 And the closing costs are looming over my head. I can't borrow it from a bank, they don't allow you to for that... and even if I found a way to borrow it, that would be another payment on top of the bills and house payment that I will be dealing with........to be honest, I am not sure I can do this.

 I have prayed and prayed, agonized over it.....every time someone asks me how the house is coming, it is like a dart to my heart as I am inwardly wondering if it is going to happen. Should I back out before the appraisal Friday and hope I at least can get THAT money back? The $500 earnest money is probably gone if I back out.

 And if there is water in the basement - which there was some when I looked at the house - the bank is most likely going to order a foundation inspection which could be anywhere from $100 to $350.....or more.

 I was turned over to a collection agency because one of my hospital bills didn't allow you to pay on it - it had to be paid in full, and I didn't know that..... so I had to put $407 on my credit card amidst all of this.

 Seriously....... I am wondering if it is not God's will for me to buy a house..... but I truly need to get my own place again. It has been too long.

 So do I bury my hopes and dreams, and try to recoup my losses before it is too late, or do I let the appraisal happen, and see what happens after that?

8) Church

 Ever since moving back to Ohio 8 years ago, I have more often than not felt like a stranger at my church. I still like my church, though there are things I'd like to change........ but I don't feel like I belong there as I used to feel before I moved away. Does that saying "you can't go home again" apply to a church also?

 I really like my pastor and Sunday School teacher, but all too often I feel closer to God outside of  the church, and not in the church. I'm as involved in the church as I am in quilting.... and I don't quilt.

  I am not sure I can even put it into words.....church is just always the same: opening prayer, 2 songs, offering, another song, sometimes some testimonies in between, more prayer, possible more testimonies, a special song, and the sermon...... then we go back Sunday night and do it all over again.

 Wednesday evenings are a mini version of the same, only different speakers and more prayer, and no special song.

 I don't even know what I want out of church, but I just want something different.... something more.

9) Christmas CDs

  Thanks to the good deal I got on CDs Monday, I have two CDs to add to my Christmas CD collection, which is larger than I thought...... and that is just the physical CDs, not counting ones I downloaded as MP3s for one reason or the other......MP3s are like e-books.......not a fan.

10) A poll ( No, not a political one....)

 Speaking of Christmas CDs, I am putting a poll up in the right hand corner of my blog. If you have an extra few seconds, do it....I'd like to see how others compare to my collection :)

11) Hope

  No matter what happens with this election - and my house buying attempt - I need to remember that my hope is in Christ, and He is always in control and loves me more than I'll ever comprehend while I go through this life. If we are serving Him, we are not living for this world. Heaven will be a perfect country with a perfect One in control. There will be no corrupt politicians, no immorality or defense of it, there will be no property taxes, house insurance, home loans, etc....we will own our home there free and clear, paid for by the blood of Jesus.

 And what a day that will be

Monday, October 24, 2016

Trump apologists, you're making us look bad

*Disclaimer, before you get your feathers ruffled, I know not all Trump voters are the same, and some are voting for him quietly and reluctantly. This post is not aimed at you, even though I don't agree with you for voting for him. Also.... this doesn't address the political reasons to not vote for Trump, this is purely from a Christian standpoint.

**P.S. I originally had titled this "the end of evangelical politics"..... that works too

  No matter how hard I try to stay away from this election, I keep getting sucked back in..... and lately there has been a rash of insane posts from Trump apologists that has my head spinning. Someone has to speak up, and since I am blunt enough to do it, I shall.

 I have never been more ashamed in my life to be a Republican.

 And I have never been more ashamed in my life to be an evangelical Christian.

  I know.....if you aren't for Trump, people want you to be quiet. I never had anyone get after me for saying  things about Obama and the Clintons. No one ever said I was trying to de-Christianize people who voted for and supported Obama..... yet I am getting accused of that for daring to stand against the insane comments from evangelical Christians and for daring to say a Christian should not vote for and support the man.

 If you read this next statement and aren't bothered by it, you should be worried: A friend of mine has some atheist friends who are extremely bothered by Christians supporting and defending Donald Trump. They know what he is like. They also know and have seen how we have stood against liberal politicians for the same things we are defending and supporting in Trump. One of  these atheists said she never wants to hear a Christian say anything about morality again after so many are voting for, defending,  and supporting Trump. And she can't be the only one.

  Donald Trump has been compared to David, since David committed adultery........ but David repented and didn't brag about it, nor did he do it again.

 Several people are sharing a piece by a conservative preacher on comparing God using Sampson to Trump.....God must have held His nose to use Sampson, so we should hold ours and vote for Trump......which is also ludicrous. Sampson suffered greatly for not obeying God, and sacrificed his life to take out the Philistines.... I can't imagine Trump sacrificing anything, especially his life.

 Trump has also been compared to Esther. That one doesn't even deserve a rebuttal.

And others keep saying God has chosen Trump, and He is God's man for this time.

   Last night, a faculty member of a conservative Bible college posted on Facebook asking how we can face our kids when they ask us years from now why we didn't stop Hillary by voting for Trump. He asked what kind of witness it is to our unsaved friends if we don't attempt to stop Hillary by voting for Trump.

 And he isn't the only one. Any Christian daring to take a stand and not fall in line with the Republican party and vote for their very horrible candidate is being vilified. We are being told we are wrong, and hint that we are sinning for not voting for Trump. We are told we are too holy to get our hands dirty and vote for him.

 Quote from a friend:
"It's one thing to vote for Trump.  A lot of people are and I'm like "Whatever" about that.  People have their reasons.  What I have a huge problem with is that they are putting those of us who have thought and prayed through this and have come to another decision down.  I've even seen people say that those of us who won't vote for him are being legalistic."

 The same friend also referenced a couple posts by some very conservative preachers, and said this:
"How is it that we are taught by  pastors to live carefully and not tarnish our consciences, but then are are vilified for doing so? I feel like there is a double standard."

  I don't care who votes for Trump at this point. Some of my family most likely will....... but don't try to justify it and try to shame others to do it also. So you feel you can vote for him as a Christian.... fine..... many others do not feel that way.... and please don't defend him and his lifestyle and actions.

  Another friend of mine posted this recently:

"An apologist I know recently cast his vote for Trump. What is different from his vote and many others is that he hated it and wept over the decision. He saw this decision as horrible no matter how you cut it and saw the decision as being harmful to America no matter what.
I won't vote for Trump, but those who are trying to convince me to vote for him would get a better hearing if they truly wept and hated this decision rather than accuse those of us who can't vote for him as helping Hillary."

  To say and infer that our Christian witness is going to be hurt if we don't vote for Trump in an attempt to stop Hillary is a complete loss of reason, and is a lie. If anything is going to hurt our Christian witness, the church, and the name of Jesus Christ, it is going to be the Christians defending Trump and loudly telling other Christians they must do the same.

 The world watches us.

They know we believed Bill Clinton's accusers and called him out loudly for his misogyny and immorality. (and other liberal politicians)

They know we oppose homosexuality and gay marriage.

They know we completely oppose abortion.

They know we are against vulgarity and bullying.

  And then they watch as Christian after Christian defend those same things in Trump. They watch as his accusers are mocked and doubted. They watch as we defend and support a man they know a Christian should not be supporting, and are only doing so because he is wearing the team jersey. They know what the religious right has stood against and for all of these years, and they know we are tossing it all aside to support and vote for Donald Trump.

 They know we hold everything in a Democrat's past against them, but chirp "judge not!" and "all have sinned!" when it comes to Trump.

 And yet, there are people claiming that we will hurt our Christian witness if we DON'T vote for Trump? It is like we are living in an alternate reality where bad is good and good is bad, where people taking the same stand they always have are berated and condemned by others who previously took that stand.

 In our desperation to stop Hillary Clinton from being president, we have lowered our principles so low that I don't know if we could go any lower. We have made a mockery out of everything Christians stand for, and of serving Jesus Christ.

 We have shown the world that Christians are no different after all from them when it comes to voting and politics.

They know if Donald Trump was running as a Democrat, the same people defending him would be shocked and disgusted by him and his life.

We have shown that morality is relative, and not set in stone after all.

We have shown we are fine with evil, as long as we can look at another evil as worse.

We have proven that Christians and conservatives can have a double standard and not care.

We have proven that character doesn't really matter to us after all.

We have proven that fear of a candidate will cause us to act in ways and do things we never would have done otherwise.

 How can we oppose gay marriage/homosexuality, and then support the things in Trump that we have. (And I say "we" as Christians in general).

How can we be outraged about the immorality all around us if we have defended it in Donald Trump?

How can we say prostitution and sex trafficking are evil, if we have no problem with DT owning a strip club?

How can we be opposed to pornography if we have no issue with DT and his wife being in porn?

How can we claim to be any better than liberals and Democrats after this election?

How can we dare find fault in anything a liberal does after chirping "judge not!" and "we all have sinned" about Donald Trump?

  Oh I know, we  all have sinned....... but yet why do these same Trump apologists never say that about Hillary or other Democrats? Why is it OK and expected to fault Democrats, but not Republicans? If we only see the bad and call it out in Democrats, and excuse it in Republicans.....then we definitely have a double standard and are hypocrites. Too blunt? Too honest?

   If Donald Trump should somehow win - and I don't believe that he will - we may keep our freedoms intact, our gun laws may not be affected, and he may actually carry through on putting conservative judges on the Supreme Court (I doubt it).... but what will we truly have gained, and what will we have lost? Will it truly be worth tossing out values, morals, and principles to defeat Hillary?

  And what will we accept in the next candidate? Can we go any lower than Donald Trump? Do the people supporting him have a threshold that they will hit and have to back off from voting for and supporting the Republican candidate, or will they just keep lowering the bar until they some day vote for someone just like Hillary just to stop the Democrat?

  Any time you post things like this, you run the risk of people pointing a finger at you and saying you're not perfect... and I'm not. When I posted something about Trump's wife being in porn, someone from my church messaged me and read me the riot act. "it is in the past", "I'd think you'd understand with your past", etc....not sure what she thinks she knows about me, but I was definitely never in porn........ :)

 And again, these same people are OK with the sins of Democrats being pointed out and focused on, just not the man who got the GOP nomination. His wearing the team jersey makes everything about him OK.

 In closing, I am not a better person or Christian for taking a stand against Trump. Any Christian reading this believes there are certain things Christians should not do...... and if they don't, they need serious help........ :) - well, this is something I and many others believe a Christian shouldn't do.... and yes, we #nevertrumpers haven't always shown the best attitudes, but I have apologized for that and am trying to do better...... but anything against Trump is taken as un-Christian by some.

 Yes, Hillary will most likely win and make our lives miserable. God will still be God, and the church will survive. It is dangerous to say God would do this or that, but I do believe the Bible would back me up on this: God is more concerned with our hearts, how we are serving Him and advancing His kingdom than He is with our American rights and freedoms....... and maybe we should be also.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

It won't matter by and by

  Back in August, I got the new Gaither Vocal Band CD. They did several older songs, and there is one that has got me thinking every time I hear it. We'll Talk It Over. The chorus goes like this:

We'll talk it over in the bye and bye.
We'll talk it over, my Lord and I.
I'll ask the reasons - He'll tell me why,
When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

  There's also a well known hymn that has a similar idea:

We are tossed and driven 
on the restless sea of time; 
somber skies and howling tempests 
oft succeed a bright sunshine; 
in that land of perfect day, 
when the mists are rolled away, 
we will understand it better by and by. 

By and by, when the morning comes, 
when the saints of God are gathered home, 
we'll tell the story how we've overcome, 
for we'll understand it better by and by. 

  Almost every time I listen to that CD and hear that song, I have had the same thought run through my mind: "will it really matter in the by and by"?

  Heaven is going to be amazing, far more and better than we can ever think of. The most beautiful things and scenes here will pal in comparison to what Heaven will be like. And then there will be Jesus.....imagine what it will be like to see our Savior face to face.....

 And then imagine this:
"Hey Jesus, I was wondering: that job I wanted so badly in 98', and prayed about? Why didn't I get that?"

"And that time I was in that traffic jam for 5 hours...what was with that?"

"Why did I have to suffer with that disease for so long?"

"Why, why, why?"

   The things that happened in our lives here on earth aren't going to matter then. I doubt they will even cross our minds.... not even the big things:

"Jesus, why did you never let us have children?"

"Why did you take my spouse so early?"

"Why did I have to grow up without parents?"

  When we enter those pearly gates, gaze upon the sites of Heaven, see loved ones who have gone before, and see Jesus; nothing in this life is going to be of any consequence then. We aren't going to be asking why. I also don't believe that when we enter Heaven, we will suddenly know of those things either. And we won't care.

 There's a new song that sums up this idea: "If we ever gotta look". The song says if we ever got a look at what's waiting in Heaven, we wouldn't want to stay down here. I also think that if we got a look at what Heaven is like, and what it holds, the things that happen here wouldn't seem that big to us.

 It is too easy to get focused on the here and now, and to forget that we aren't living for this life. We are living for Heaven. Some day, all of we who have been faithful to serve Him, will hear those words " well done, good and faithful servant", and we will be welcomed into an eternity in Heaven. And all that happened here, won't matter anymore.

If We Ever Gotta Look

Verse 1
God had a plan for His children down here to serve Him
Live every day, help people get saved, and go to Heaven
But He can't reveal, He must conceal the land of no more tears
If we ever gotta look at what's waiting up there, we wouldn't want to stay down here

If we could open up the door, look at the floor of the street that is paved with gold
Pass through the walls, look down the halls, see the half that's never been told
We never could imagine all the splendor of the mansions or the river that is crystal clear
If we ever gotta look at what's waiting up there, we wouldn't want to stay down here
No, we wouldn't want to stay down here.

Verse 2
Heaven's so grand, language just can't describe it
John tried to say but He couldn't convey or define it
The end of war, we'll die no more, the heart will never know fear
If we ever gotta look at what's waiting up there, we wouldn't want to stay down here

If we could open up the door, look at the floor of the street that is paved with gold
Pass through the walls, look down the halls, see the half that's never been told
We never could imagine all the splendor of the mansions or the river that is crystal clear
If we ever gotta look at what's waiting up there, we wouldn't want to stay down here
No, we wouldn't want to stay down here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

You're not my God

  Last week, one of my coworkers, a young 21 year old guy who never shuts up, but is a nice kid, goes to me "Buzz, would you get a tattoo if I paid for it?" I laughed and told him no way. I didn't tell him this, but I believe as a Christian that is something I should not do....even if other Christians do.... but it is becoming increasingly unpopular to refrain from doing pretty much anything because you're a Christian.

   It is getting more and more difficult to serve God in America. Nothing is considered wrong anymore, and the line between the world and the church is so thin that it is barely visible.

  If you are one who still believes the Bible, and who is trying to live as God wants you to, not as you want to, it is a constant swimming upstream. It is one thing to have to deal with the world mocking you and telling you that you're wrong, but another thing when others professing to serve the same God as you are mocking you, criticizing you, and telling you that you don't have to do that.... or that you don't have to abstain from doing that.

   I've become a lot more open about talking about my same-sex attractions on here, probably to the dismay of some..... but just because it may make some people uncomfortable and they don't know how to deal with the subject doesn't mean I have to go back into the closet, so to speak. This is one area where it is becoming increasingly difficult to live as God wants us to. There is such an acceptance and promotion of being gay today. TV promotes it - even in Disney shows aimed at kids, songs promote it, politicians, churches, and Christians. If you are a Christian attracted to the same sex and not living the gay lifestyle, you are very unpopular and hated even more than the average Christian who believes it is wrong. But the Christians promoting and encouraging it are the worst. I have had Christians give me a really hard time and argue til they are blue in the face trying to get me to just accept my sexuality and live as a Christian gay male. Thank God that I am well enough versed in Scripture and have read enough from the correct viewpoint that I have never fallen for those lies.

  I grew up in a very conservative church, with very conservative beliefs. I have grown and matured as a Christian enough that I have my own beliefs, and don't do everything the church thinks I need to do... some may call that rebellion, but I call it finding God's will for my life, not the church's will. I have gotten used to swimming against the current. Other Christians have questioned my beliefs and tried to convince me I was wrong and that I can do certain things I don't. Christians in my church circle have questioned why or how I could do certain things........ you just can't please everyone,  but they aren't the ones I want to please anyway.

   And though I am trying to stay away from politics, this fits into my blog post and plays into why I am doing this one: there is a really hard push to vote for a certain candidate. Other Christians who are voting for him refuse to acknowledge that as a Christian some of feel we can't and should not. I know, I have done my share of saying why I don't believe a Christian should vote for him....... and I stand by that. However, we all need to stop telling other Christians how to live, even when we view it as something important that we believe they should or should not do....even if it involves the fate of our country.

   This may come as a shock to some of us, but we aren't God. There is a wide variety of beliefs across this country, and some are very wrong, while there are a lot of things that are not salvation issues. There are things that are truly in black and white and not open to interpretation,  such as homosexuality, while others are open to interpretation and principle.

  Unless something is very clear in the Bible, we need to be careful telling people what they can or cannot do, and un-Christianizing them if they aren't living just like us.... or voting just like us. (Yeah, I had to throw that in there). We should be very careful trying to convince people to do something they believe to be wrong and something they believe they should not do..... even if it is something we believe to be important for some reason or another..... even if we think the fate of our country lies in their vote. (it doesn't)

    Some day we will all stand before God, and we will be judged. On that day, excuses won't matter. "But my friends told me it was OK to do that....." "But the church I went to was OK with that....". I don't know how God will deal with us on that day, and I am definitely not saying people will go to hell if they felt they should not vote for a certain candidate and did it anyway....... but I want to be able to face God and know I lived as He wanted me to live, that I did the things He wanted me to do, and didn't do the things He didn't want me to do.

  Christians are to deny ourselves, take up a cross, and follow Jesus.... not other Christians. We aren't called to be like others in the church, but we are called to be like Jesus and do His will. And others are not called to be like us and do our will, or what we believe to be right..... and we'd all do well to remember that during this election time and all through the year.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Long way gone

  Some books can reach inside of you, grab you by the heart and overwhelm you with emotion. I just finished reading one such book, and am still wiping tears from my eyes and face. Emotions? Oh yeah, I am drowning in them. And no, this isn't a book review..... though I will need to post a review of it.

 The book: Long Way Gone by Charles Martin. The plot: it is a "radical retelling of the story of the prodigal son".

 The whole book was good....no doubt there.... but the climax of the book, and then the author's note at the back about the prodigal son..... I was crying so hard I could hardly see the words.

 I've been a prodigal for too much of my life. Time after time, I'd give up on God and walk away..... at least inwardly. And time after time He would forgive me, knowing I'd give up and walk away again, knowing I was only trying to serve Him out of guilt and out of the fear of going to hell.

  Thankfully, finally believing how much this God of mine truly does love me - or at least getting a little bit of an idea - led to me finally getting a relationship with Him. I still let him down. I yell at other drivers - in my car, not to them - have thoughts I shouldn't have, am too shallow, and never measure up to what I think I should be.

 And yet He loves me. He is the Father who is always watching and waiting for us to return when we stray. He is the shepherd crawling down the cliff to rescue that one lost sheep. He is the merciful compassionate Savior forgiving us again for the umpteenth time, yet not keeping track of how many times we have begged His forgiveness for that same thing.

 I'll never comprehend His love... none of us will. Oh, we will have moments like I am having tonight when the realization of His love washes over us like a flood, bringing thankfulness, awe, humility, and tears..... lots of tears.

  As someone said, the story of the prodigal son isn't really about the son, but the Father. How many days did the Father stand watching for his son to return? He didn't just happen to be watching that one day, but had been watching for days, weeks, months, and years......and He didn't stand there with His arms crossed waiting for His son to grovel. but ran to meet Him and forgave him before the son could even say the words.

 And then He threw Him a party. Our God doesn't want groveling. He doesn't let us wallow in self incrimination while He watches with smugness and self satisfaction.

 He loves us too much. No matter how far we go, how long we are gone, we are never too long gone for His love.

  I am so thankful He never gave up on this prodigal, and loves me no matter what I did, or how far I went.

A day in Amish country

  Monday is always my second of two days off, and I usually shop a bit and eat out. Today, I did something different: I drove to Sugarcreek, Ohio, which is in the Amish part of Ohio. I started the day out with breakfast at the Dutch Valley Restaurant, and man was it good.

 Then I drove over to the main street of town, and since I was too early for my main reason for visiting the area today, walked around a bit. I visited the world's largest cuckoo clock, and took some pictures and also a video when the hour hit. A bird comes out at the top and does its thing, and then some mechanical figures join the two that are already out there. The girl and guy dance, while the other figures are supposedly playing the music that plays. It lasts close to three minutes.

   My reason for visiting the area was two Christian fiction authors were at a small bookstore there, and I wanted to meet them: Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse. I am friends with Kimbery on Facebook, and have gotten to know her pretty well through it, but had never met her. It was awesome to meet both ladies, and I got to chat with them for around 45 minutes since no one came in after I did. I have been curious for a long time how two authors collaborated, especially when they don't live near each other, so they told me a little about their process. I parted ways, and headed out to do some shopping.

 I hit up a thrift store, and got a few CDs for $1 each, then headed to my next stop: Walnut Creek Cheese...which is much more than cheese....... but it is in Walnut Creek.  I went there for fry pies. If you have never had them, think those hostess pies that are usually apple or cherry..... only tons better, and several other flavors. I know, not in my diet, but I don't get them very often.

 I then headed to Millersburg to go to one of my favorite places: Heini's Cheese. Their main thing IS cheese, and they have tons of samples: cheese, fudge, salsas, beef sticks, relish, dips, etc... and I sampled a lot. The best buys there is a bin of cheese ends.... mostly misshapen odd pieces of cheese that are marked at less expensive prices. I loaded up, and headed for Berlin, OH.

 Berlin is a cool town with all sorts of shops. I parked my car at one end of town, and wandered all over Berlin, going in and out of shops, not buying anything until I reached the Gospel Bookstore. For the same of Christmas surprises, I won't say what I bought there, but they did have just what I was looking for :) This store is odd in that it is inside of a grocery store. You go in the grocery store, and the bookstore is straight ahead of you with its own entrance and walls. Kind of odd, but they have a big selection of the best music..... Southern Gospel.

 I headed home and happened upon another thrift store.....I can't pass them up often, so I stopped and bought a few things there.

 My trip ended on an amusing note:

I stopped off at a little post office today to mail a package. As the friendly lady behind the counter was weighing the package, I spied a flag on the counter mounted on a plastic base with a button on it. Curious as to what it did, I pressed the button. ...it played a whole verse and chorus of the national anthem....loudly

I commented that it must get annoying to hear that all the time. With a bit of a smirk, she replied "usually it's just kids that play it".

  I am thankful for a beautiful day I had to enjoy Amish country. I couldn't have asked for better weather, and am thankful to God for a safe trip, and for a great day off.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

My work week in review

  There were a few things this week that made an impression on me in one way or another. I'd thought about blogging about the one incident, then decided to mention them all on here:

A kindness shown

  The hospital I work at has been putting in a new helipad for the last several weeks. First, they had to turn most of the Emergency Department parking lot into a temporary helipad. I have been stationed out there every day to help tell people where to park, and where not to park. Since I am out there, it has also fallen my lot to help when a life flight helicopter comes in..... stop traffic, make sure no one walks close, and then guard the helicopter while it sits there waiting for the patient to be brought out.

 As I watched the helicopter, a young man came towards me with a boy about 8 years of age. He said the boy, his brother, was autistic and had never seen a helicopter up close. He wanted to know if he could take the kid's picture in front of it. I asked the pilot, who was by the helicopter, and he said it was fine.

 I watched as the grinning boy stood in front of the helicopter and his brother snapped a couple of pictures. Then the pilot walked over to them, said something, and next think I knew, he was helping the boy into the pilot's seat in the helicopter. The brother took some pictures, thanked the pilot and I, and left.

 I was impressed. The pilot didn't need to let the boy in the helicopter, but that is something the kid will never forget.

A funny thing happened......

  This may not be as funny as the time a drunk woman was feeling my butt and kept saying I had a nice butt, but it comes close.

  Thursday as I stood on the sidewalk between  the Emergency Department parking lot and the next lot over, a woman pulled up beside me and asked where to park. I pointed at the lot to her left and told her in there. She immediately cranked her steering wheel and started to turn and ran over something. She stopped, and I walked to the front of her car on her side to look. There are two traffic cones in the middle of the driveway with "pedestrian crossing, please yield" attached to them. She had run over one of the cones and signs.

 There was no car behind her, so I had her back up off of the cone. That didn't go so well. The cone was stuck between her front tire and the bumper. I had her crank the steering wheel as far as she could, and it wouldn't budge. She goes "don't tell me I am going to have to drive around forever with that in there!" Trying not to laugh, I assured her I'd get it loose. I put my foot on the cone and started stomping down on it. After several tries, I knocked it loose, and held onto it as she backed up, minus the cone.

  She parked, and as she walked past me she said how embarrassed she was and that she wasn't telling anyone. I chuckled after she walked past. Women drivers........ :)

Affirmation given

 There is a position open at the hospital I am interested in, but it has its advantages and disadvantages. Since I am not an actual hospital employee - I work for a security guard company that is outsourced by the hospital - I cannot apply for it yet, as this week it is open to only hospital employees. I called the lady Thursday that I thought was over the position, and she was not, but said she would let the right lady know I was interested.

 Later that day, my boss was outside chatting with me, and goes "so I hear you might apply for that new position? Don't expect me to give you a good reference, I don't want to lose you."

 The next morning, he was talking to me again, and told me I should apply for it, and said that I'd be a shoo-in for it. He said it would be a good move for me, but it wouldn't be good for him to lose me as an employee. That made my day. He doesn't give compliments often, and I really appreciated it.

A free lunch

 This one isn't meant to toot my own horn, but is something nice I did for someone. I don't buy food often in the snack shop/coffee shop. I'll occasionally buy soup, and I buy the walking taco every Friday because that is the only day they have it. As I threw my garbage away, I said hi to Jeff,  a young male nurse that is always friendly with me. The kid - he is 21 - worked over in the Emergency Department as a PCA for a while, and I got to know him a bit there. Then I would see him occasionally as he was training to be a nurse, and I'd ask him how it was going, how much longer he had, etc.

 Then he became a nurse on another floor, and I see him occasionally in passing. I asked him how he was doing, and we chatted for a moment. He told me rather excitedly that he was going to be coming back to the Emergency Department soon as a nurse, and I told him that was awesome. He stepped up to order, and I walked over to the register to pay, and the thought hit me, "I should pay for his food." I heard him order the Nachos Grande, and saw he had a bottle of pop. I told the cashier, a lovely volunteer lady of 85 years of age who likes my jokes, what I got, then quietly told her I was paying for that nurse's food, and what he got. I paid, then stopped at the desk in the main lobby to say hi to my lady friend there (78 year old Thelma).

 Jeff exited the snack shop, walked over, thanked me and shook my hand and said he appreciated it. I told him he was welcome, and we parted ways. Yes, the kid makes a lot more money than I do and could easily afford his meal, but I like to do that every once in a while. It feels good, and it feels good to the person on the receiving end.

An embarrassing moment

  There is a no smoking policy at the hospital where I work. No smoking anywhere on the grounds. I often have to tell people that they can't smoke. As I was standing outside Saturday, a young woman was walking towards me that appeared to be smoking. As soon as she came around the small tree blocking separating us, I politely informed her of the policy.... but she was only eating a cookie. Fortunately, she was amused and graciously accepted my apology, and even offered me a cookie..... which I did not take.

Don't you think we have taken this "for all have sinned" idea a bit far?

This is not a political post, but it was brought on largely in part because of politics, so if you're weary of politics and political discussions, bear with me...... I am going somewhere with this.

  Back in March before Donald Trump had gotten the nomination, a young friend of mine was being a big cheerleader for him. He attends Liberty University, so I blame Mr Falwell for influencing him. After one discussion on Facebook where I was pointing out reasons a Christian shouldn't vote for DT - his strip clubs, his adulterous affairs that he bragged about, his vulgarity - this young man commented and said "I am bothered by you rating his sins worse than yours." I didn't tell him what bothered me about him..... but I did do a blog post on rating sins.

  I have many Calvinist friends, and appreciate them and have confidence in them. I believe they are wrong, but I believe if we are living for God and doing our best to live above sin it is different than merrily sinning and chirping that we aren't under law, so it doesn't matter..... as some do.

   Many Calvinists, including my young friend, have this idea that since we all have sinned - and supposedly continue sinning - that we have no right to call out sin, or criticize sinful actions in anyone. So DT has strip clubs where women are used and abused....you have also sinned, how dare you say anything. So he committed adultery on both wives and bragged about it... let him who has not sinned, cast the first stone.

 Can you imagine these same people chirping this for other things? No, because the only time these Scriptures are used are when attempting to lessen or excuse sins in either ourselves or in someone else.

  Saddam Hussein was a wicked and evil man. He put people through big meat grinders to kill them, and the horrors he launched on his own people should earn him a special place in hell. Can you imagine one of these people saying "but we all have sinned" when confronted with the evil he did?

  Or Hitler. Can you imagine going through the Holocaust museum, hearing of the horrors Hitler did, and then having someone pipe up "let him who is without sin, cast the first stone!"

  Jeffrey Dahlmer was a disturbed individual who kidnapped young men and did unspeakable things with them, including cannibalism, and I believe sex with them even after he killed them. Imagine someone saying "oh we all sin, you have no right to judge him".... especially if their son or brother was one of his victims.

John Wayne Gacy. Between 1972 and 1978, this man sexually assaulted 33 teenage boys and young men - that they know of - in Illinois. Imagine your friends have just been told their teenage boy was kidnapped by this man, raped, and then killed. Could you sit there and say "we can't judge him - we all have sinned, remember.... and don't cast any stones unless you haven't sinned....."

 Imagine posting "all have sinned! Judge not! Let him who hasn't sinned cast the first stone" on September 11, 2001 after the worst terrorist attack in our history was launched using airplanes.

Imagine sitting at the trial of a man who has molested several little boys and piping up with those pet Scriptures..... you'd get seriously hurt.

  Many of us have watched in horror as ISIS executed Christians in pictures or on video for serving Jesus. I have never, ever seen one of these people comment and say any of these trite sayings they love to excuse sin in their lives or their candidates at that time.

 And one more to bring it home even more: I have yet to see any of these people piping up with these Scriptures about DT, bring them up when the Clintons are being exposed for what they have done. When someone posts about  Benghazi and Hillary being responsible for those deaths, no one uses Scripture to defend and excuse her.

 You see, we all admit there are sins worse than others. I believe God even views some sins as worse than others. Read your Bible and you'll see a list of things God hates, things God calls an abomination, and times certain things kindled His anger more than others.

 Get real: owning a strip club IS worse than telling your kid there really is a Santa Clause.

Adultery and being in a porn movie IS worse than stealing a piece of candy.

Rape and sex trafficking IS worse than blowing up at your boss.

  The truth of the matter, is people like to excuse their own sins and sins in others. They would never chirp their favorite Scriptures in the scenarios I mentioned above, or in others I haven't mentioned.

 Go back to me a couple of a thousand years. Jesus is speaking and teaching, when there is a ruckus. The religious leaders drag a beautiful young woman barely dressed in front of Him and shove her on the ground. "She was caught in the very act of adultery... the very act! The law says she be stoned, so what do you say we should do?"

   This story resulted in the famous line "whoever among you has not sinned, cast the first stone". You may disagree with me on this, but this gets quoted out of context. These were not upstanding men that God had saved and they were living sinless godly lives. These were hypocrites who had their pet sins, but were walking around condemning others for lesser infractions. Many of them likely had used this girl, or others, sexually. Jesus knew their hearts, and called them on it.

    Now go with me further back in time. King David had a beautiful wife that he had worked hard to get. He had had sex with her while she was married to someone else, and then had her husband killed to cover it up. And then in walked the prophet Nathan who said "don't worry David, we all have sinned... let him who is without sin, cast the first stone, and don't anyone dare judge you......" No, that isn't how the account goes. He called David out on it, and David repented and was sorrowful (which doesn't fit with those comparing David to a certain politician).

   All through the Bible, prophets, apostles, and other followers of God called out wickedness and sin in people.

   In the Gospels, Jesus gives instruction on how to deal with a Christian brother who has sinned....if you aren't supposed to judge, and if we all have sinned.....how does that work?

  I am not a Calvinist, and I don't believe we sin daily. I don't believe that once we are in, we can never walk away from God. Not all sin is equal. If God can save the murderer so he doesn't kill anymore, he can save the liar so they don't lie anymore. If we are truly living for God, we will be doing our best with His help to live above sin. His Word DOES say he who is born of God does not sin, but IF we sin, we have an advocate.

 So no, if you are secretly living in sin, you shouldn't be pointing out sins in others...... but if you are a Christian truly living for God, you are going to be disgusted by evil and sinful acts, and by people's defense of them. And if you are one of those chirping these Scripture verses to excuse sin in you, a politician, or anyone else......then you had better be consistent and chirp them all the time..... even in scenarios like I gave above.

 Yes, I have sinned.... but all of my sins are forgiven and under the blood. My past sins does not mean I can't call out sins that others are trying to excuse or defend.

 All sins are not equal. And we do have the right to find certain things offensive in a politician and grounds for us to not support and vote for them. If you do that in the candidate of the other party, then you are a hypocrite and have a double standard.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Being like Jesus politically

**I tried to back off of politics, and then bad stuff came out on a certain candidate. I was horrified at the defense and the outrageous statements being made by said candidate's supporters, and I let myself be dragged into it again. However, I am seriously going to step back now.... I may have to un-follow some people until this mess of an election is over (already have!)  but I am going to step back. And this post is an attempt to say why.

 I did a series of sorts of ways or areas we should be like Jesus. I haven't done one for a while, and since this has been on my mind lately, I decided to attempt one on being like Jesus politically.

   People love to say what Jesus would and wouldn't do:
Jesus would vote Republican

Jesus would vote Democrat

Jesus wouldn't vote at all

Jesus would....

and on and on

  But what would Jesus be like politically?

   Israel during Jesus' time on earth was under Roman rule. The Jews definitely did not vote in their rulers. Their rulers had come in and taken over the country. I have read stories about how the Romans treated the Jews, and it was bad. It wasn't unusual for them to crucify anyone who dared speak up or attempt an uprising.

  John the Baptist spoke up against Herod for his adultery, but we have no record of Jesus speaking up against Rome or Roman rulers. When asked about paying taxes to Rome, He said to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. Other than that, there doesn't seem to be a record of Jesus saying anything about politics or political figures.

 So what would Jesus be like if His earthly ministry was going on today in 2016 America? Would He vote for the party intent on killing babies in the womb because He is pro-life,  or would He vote Democrat because they want to open the borders and liberals say Jesus would be for that? Would He vote for the very corrupt Hillary Clinton, or the corrupt and immoral Trump? Would He be so dedicated to a political party that He would vote for the candidate no matter what they did or said? Would He vote for a third party candidate who doesn't seem corrupt at all, and lines up with Biblical principles, or would He not even vote at all?

  Would He post things on Facebook defending immoral behavior in a candidate? Would He post things on Facebook condemning either candidate for their acts and words? Would He post anything political on Facebook at all........ would He even use Facebook? (He may actually do that one, but sparingly and for only good).

  How would He act towards someone voting differently than Him? Would He call them names and labels for not voting as He thought they should? What would be important to Him in a candidate: morals and character, or keeping our freedoms intact?

  Would He un-friend those who spoke differently about a candidate than He did?

    I am not answering those questions because I don't know for sure (though I do have opinions), and I am not going to be one of those saying "Jesus would" or "Jesus wouldn't" in an attempt to prove my views are correct and someone else's are wrong. I do believe there are Biblical principles to guide us, and I am doing my best to abide by them.

  You may disagree with me on this, but if Jesus was here doing His earthly ministry in 2016 America, I don't believe He'd be paying much attention to the political scene, if at all. He was all about loving people. He'd be doing His thing: healing people, loving people, speaking, and ticking off  the religious leaders. He likely wouldn't register to vote, nor tell people how to vote.

    There is a Christian ministry called Hope for Wholeness. It is for people dealing with unwanted same-sex attractions. I have gone to two of their conferences they have in the summer, and found them helpful and encouraging, and made some new friends. I am in their Facebook groups, and interact and pray for people in those groups. The leader of the ministry has become very pro-Trump and anti-Hillary, and posts some pretty intense political posts on Facebook on his own page.  I messaged him recently and politely pointed out that even though I am against Hillary, he may want to tone it down.. that he may turn away the very people he is wanting to help if they are for her and/or against him. He thanked me, but then posted on his page what I had said (not by name) and said just because he is a ministry leader, it doesn't mean he should be quiet about politics.

   But is he right? What if people are coming to him for help with same-sex attractions, and are turned off by his anti-Hillary comments or his support and defense of Trump, if they are disgusted by him. What if people seeking help with their same-sex attractions walk away from him and his ministry because of him being political?

   I know what you're thinking (well, maybe some of you) ...and you are correct. What if non-Christians are turned off by any of we Christians being political. What if your friend Betty May loves Hillary, and has been watching your life. Election time comes and suddenly you become a raging machine against Hillary. She sees what you say about Hillary and her supporters, and how you act towards them. What will she think of your Christianity then? What if your friend Billy Bob has been watching you and wanting to talk to you about Jesus, but then election time comes and you support and defend things in a man that he finds indefensible. He sees how you act towards,  and what you say to those who don't like your candidate... will he want your religion after the election is over?

  And no, I am not leaving one out. What if Billy Bob or Betty are watching we #nevertrump people? What if they are curious about our Christianity, but see what we say about people supporting Trump, and how we act towards them? Will they want to know our Jesus after the election? Will they think Christians and the church is too concerned about politics, and not enough about people?

 There have been some very vicious things said by Christians on every side this election: pro-Cruz, anti-Cruz, pro-Carson, anti-Carson, anti-Hillary, pro-Hillary, pro-Trump, anti-Trump. What must the world think of we Christians when they see how we act towards each other and towards politicians we don't agree with, or agree with too much?

    If Jesus was posting just like you and I during this election, saying the same things as you and I,  acting the same way as you and I.... how much time would He have to be doing His ministry. How much time would He have left to love and heal people? Would people be following Him everywhere, or would His actions and words during this election time turn them off and they wouldn't want anything to do with Him?

  I admire the Christian leaders who are taking what I believe to be the right stand this election: Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Albert Mohler, and some others. But there are others I admire even more: the people who are leaving politics off of social media. I have friends who post a lot against Hillary, a lot who post a lot against Trump, some who post a lot in support and defense of Trump....... but what if the ones being quiet about politics are the ones being most like Jesus during this election?

  What is more important to us, being like Jesus, winning people to Christ, having people see Jesus in us..... or winning a political argument, shaming those who vote differently than us, and having our candidate win at any cost? Seriously. I don't care if your'e for or against Hillary Clinton, for or against Donald Trump, if you're voting third party or not at all.... if we are putting politics, country, and freedoms above God, then we have made politics, our freedoms, and our country into a god.

  And it would appear that many of us are doing exactly that.

  Yes, it is nauseating to see Christians defend things that we have stood against before this election.
And yes, I am sure it is irritating to have people point out why you should not vote for a candidate.

  But where is Jesus in all of this? Ben Carson said sometimes you have to set your Christian values on hold get the work done.....it would seem too many of us have set our Christian values aside this election, no matter where you stand on either candidate. And Carson is wrong, by the way.. you never set your Christian values on hold.

  We would be better off to not even vote, get the worst candidate the liberals could come up with, yet keep Jesus and our Christian witness; than to be too obsessed with politics and lose friends and turn people off on our Christianity and our Jesus.

 Some day we will stand before God. On that day, it won't matter who won the 2016 election. The Supreme Court, gun rights, or politics won't matter....... but it will matter how we treated people and if we loved.

  How would Jesus be politically? Nothing like we have been this election season.