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

Monday, November 18, 2019

November stuff(ing)

  This is my third blog post this month, though the first one was started in October. Hopefully, I won't drag this one out so long. And I actually did a normal blog post on one subject. That is pretty rare for me these days. Most of my posts are multiple subjects, like this one.

 I am starting this post Saturday evening, November 9. And I have no idea when I will finish it, or where it will go.

1) The bear in the trunk

  I ended my previous multiple subject post talking about the trunk in my living room. I decided to display it open, and had put one of my nautical pillows in it, but felt it needed something else. I showed the picture to the lady from my doctor's office who has given me so many patriotic/Americana decor. Her suggestion was an Americana teddy bear. Problem is, I don't have one. But I do have a white teddy bear. Now, you may be thinking "what is a guy my age doing with a teddy bear?" More on that later.....

 So I took her suggestion, and really liked how it turned out. Today, I started decorating for Christmas. Yeah, I am one of "those" people. I am planning on putting my tree where the trunk is, and was going to put it in the basement for now.......but I gave it a Christmas look, and I like the look so well, I think I can fit it in  the dining room.

 Now back to the bear. First off, keep in mind that I am not a normal guy. I don't get into sports, hunting, and all that "manly stuff." I'm not even attracted to the right gender. But I am no sissy. And besides, who says teddy bears are only for kids and females? If a woman can watch football and rave about how wonderful the Steelers are doing, then can't I have a teddy bear?

 Then there is the fact I didn't buy it. A few years ago, I did a blog post titled "I don't want to be normal." In that post, I discussed not being a normal man, and being OK with that. I listed some ways, and among them was this statement: "I have stuffed animals........for decor. Except a teddy bear - everyone needs one of them (who said it isn't normal for adult men to have a teddy bear anyway?)...a stuffed Toad from the Mario games (gift from my nieces), stuffed Angry Birds (gifts from my nieces and nephews.....)"

  A very special lady from my church died back in April at the age of 59. It was sudden and unexpected. Becky Hartley exemplified love and Christianity in a way that all too few do. She was like a mother to the whole church, and to many outside of the church. She was among the first handful of people I told about my same-sex attractions, and she often checked up on me, telling me more than once she didn't want me to fall through the cracks as a lone single guy at church.

 Why am I talking about this wonderful Christian lady? She read that blog post, and decided that I needed a teddy bear. I had to work this one Sunday, and when I came home, my mom handed me a gift bag. Becky Hartley had bought me a teddy bear, because she decided this single guy needed one. I will most likely think of her every time I look at it. And now, it has a prominent place sitting in my trunk, now part of a Christmas display. I had planned on putting the trunk in the basement to make room for the tree, but that isn't happening now. I need to re-think where the tree will fit in.

 If more Christians were like her, this world would be a much better place.

2) Asking Jesus into your heart

  It never ceases to amaze me the things that people make into a big deal. How people ask Jesus to save them is one of those things. I have read and heard many people take on this issue. They criticize the use of the "sinner's prayer", the "asking Jesus into your heart", and other methods. I have read what people have written, and comments others have made in response, and I have come to my own conclusions. I think my conclusions make sense, but then I wouldn't share them if I thought otherwise. :)

  Jesus is so eager to forgive us and save us, that I cannot imagine Him being picky about how we do it or what words we say.

 In the story of the prodigal son, the father in the story represents God. He was watching for his son to come back, and went running to meet him. He didn't stand and wait til his son said the proper words or groveled long enough, he embraced him and welcomed him home.

 Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffiin Gospel put it this way:

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). I am moved that the [prodigal son's] father didn’t cross-examine the boy, bully him, lecture him on ingratitude, or insist on any high motivation. He was so overjoyed at the sight of his son that he ignored all the canons of prudence and parental discretion and simply welcomed him home. The father took him back just as he was . . . We don’t have to sift our hearts and analyze our intentions before returning home. Abba just wants us to show up . . . we don’t have to be perfect or even very good before God will accept us . . . Even if we come back because we couldn’t make it on our own, God will welcome us. He will seek no explanations about our sudden appearance. He is glad we are there . . . [He will say, like the prodigal's father,] “Hush, child. I don’t need to know where you’ve been or what you’ve been up to.”

  Then we have the thief on the cross. Luke 23:

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[a] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

  It doesn't appear it took much for him to be saved and to gain eternal life.

 So pray the sinner's prayer, ask Jesus into your heart.....whatever words or method we use, I believe Jesus is waiting to forgive us and that there are no right or wrong ways to ask Him to do it.

3) A True Family Christmas 

  I buy at least a few new Christmas CDs every year.....which might explain why I have so many Christmas CDs. It looks like I will only be buying one new one this year, and it is the new one by the Collingsworth Family: A True Family Christmas.

 The last few years I have done a blog post with a brief review of each new Christmas CD I have bought. Since that is only one this year, I will do it here.

 First, a listing of the songs:

Christmas Spirit Medley
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow
Sleigh Ride (piano)
We Do Christmas Like We Mean It 
Home For Christmas Medley
Another Christmas Closer 
I Call Him Lord
Carol Of The Bells (piano)
I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
Isn't That Why He Came
Mary Did You Know
The Story Of The First Christmas

  I was a bit disappointed in their first Christmas CD, Feels Like Christmas (2012). This CD is definitely better, and the song selection is better.

1) Christmas Spirit Medley: The Spirit of the Season, Caroling Caroling, and We Need A Little Christmas. This medley starts out the recording. They do it very well, and it is a great way to start out the CD.

2) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: a song that has been sung by many artists, and Phillip Jr does a great job. I always thought he should be featured more than he is, and he is featured more on this CD. One of my pet peeves has been the amount of Christian authors who sing the line "if the fates allows." There are a few who substitute "if the Lord allows", and kudos to the Collingsworths for doing that.

3) Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow: not one of my favorites, but they do a great job on it

4) Sleighride: This is instrumental piano. I would have liked more instrumentation with it, but it is a great solo piano version....with one exception. There are a few times when she does something that makes it sound like she is making mistakes, but obviously is supposed to sound like that.

5) We Do Christmas Like We Mean It: The only definite "no" on the CD. It just doesn't fit at all with their style, and I skip it every time. Every time. What were they thinking?

6) Home for Christmas Medley: The best track on the CD. They do an awesome job on "There's No Christmas Like a Home Christmas" and "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays." A very pleasing medley.

7) Another Christmas Closer: A new song that is somewhat a sad song, but is a nice addition to the CD.

8) I Call Him Lord: They do a great job on this one. It isn't technically a Christmas song, but goes well on a Christmas CD. My only complaint: it is too similar to the most recent arrangements of this song by Mark Lowery and the Whisnants.

9) Carol of the Bells: Awesome instrumental version with other orchestration.

10) I Heard the Bells: My only complaint: They skipped the last verse. They do roll out a great performance on the song though, with different family members doing a solo on the first 3 verses, then coming together for a rousing finish on the fourth verse. They own the fourth verse.

11) Isn't That Why He Came? This is a new song, and is a close second to my favorite track (Home for Christmas Medley). It is just a great song with great lyrics.

12) Mary Did You Know? Yeah, everybody and their brother has recorded this. Phillip Jr solos this, and I felt it could have used more orchestration and that the family should have joined in before the very end. That isn't to say it is bad. He does a great job on it.

13) The Story Of The First Christmas: This is over 11 minutes, and is a medley with narration between the songs. I like it, but I usually find  recitations or narration gets old after you listen to it so many times, so that is likely to happen.

 The CD comes in at an hour and 1 minute, longer than most CDs out there. And worth getting. And the song I don't like is also on YouTube, but I am not putting it on here. Because I don't like it. :)

4) Christmas shopping

  I actually started my Christmas shopping later than normal this year, but got a lot done last week on Lakeside Collections' website. They have some pretty cool stuff, and had an offer if you bought at least 6 items, you got 15% off, and free shipping. I put together a pretty good sized order, buying for all of my family members along with the 2 nephew wannabes' (that would be the boyfriends of 2 of my nieces) :)

 There were two of the same item that I was afraid would not make it intact, but they did. And most of what I ordered is boxed, which makes it great for wrapping. Something I am not too great at.

5) Christmas decorating

 I did start already. I can't help it....I am excited to decorate my new place. I did decide not to do lights in all of my windows. My back windows won't be seen by many people, since they just look out on a few neighbors behind me, so I am going to concentrate on the front and side windows, and my second window in my bedroom that is in the back....just to make my room uniform.

 Most of my decorating is in the living room. I took down some of my nautical decor on the walls and other places, and put Christmas decorations up in their place. I have a pencil tree that I am putting in front of the hall window.

 I wanted to decorate the porch, but am not seeing a way. There is no corner to stop a tree from blowing over, and the cement posts have no way to keep lights on. If I had a park type bench, I would put it out and decorate it like my parents' do.

 I love the red truck Christmas decor, and bought a couple of new things for this year. They were part of the big Lakeside Collections order.

6) John Crist

  It is sad when something bad comes out on a public Christian figure. Crist is a Christian comedian. It seems he is guilty of sexual harassment and manipulation accusations coming against him, and his confession to engaging in what he terms as reckless behavior that “violated [his] own Christian beliefs, convictions and values. Article here.

 I am not going to throw stones, but it should be a warning to all Christians how easy it is to get tripped up in the wrong things.

7) Christmas decorating 2

 Today is November 14, and the second of two days off in a row. Since I am excited to decorate my new place.....factored in with the fact that I like to decorate early for Christmas...I did a lot of decorating on my days off. Hey, it is just me, and I enjoy looking at Christmas decorations. One of my favorite things: to lie on the couch in my living room with nothing but the Christmas tree lights and any other Christmas lights on as I listen to Christmas music.

 I did work my tree in close to the front window. I have a padded bench/shoe keeper that I moved out of the living room for now. I decided the trunk needs to stay where it is. I was wanting a Christmas runner for on the black stand in my living room, and found one at the Corner Store for $3.49. I debated about it for a few minutes. It is a montage of several Christmas things: candy canes, gifts, snowmen, stockings, etc.....and Santa. I don't decorate with Santa. But I decided I liked the runner enough to overlook Mr. Try to take Christmas away from Jesus. Kind of kidding on that name.

  Anyway, I think the runner looks pretty cool. As for Santa, I am pretty anti-Santa. I have a few Santa songs I listen to.  My favorite is "Hey Santa" by Carly and Wendy Wilson. Don't buy the CD. The rest of the CD is blah at best.

 I put up and decorated two Christmas trees this year. Two years ago, I bought a pencil tree with boring clear lights. My intent was to do like my mom, and decorate it for different seasons and holidays. That didn't happen. I tried to sell it, but didn't succeed, so I put it in the upstairs hall by the window, and decorated it for Christmas. Part of the lights don't work, so I unplugged them and put colored ones on it.

 Speaking of trees, last year my youngest niece told me it looked like I threw my ornaments on my tree. I told her if she says that this year, she is going to come over and redecorate it. :)

 In addition to the other decorations in the living room, I put a string of blue lights on each side of  the big doorway between the living room and dining room.

 The bookshelf I decorated may have books on it next year, so who knows what I'll do with what is on it this year. I took some of my nautical decor off the walls to make room for Christmas. I am happy with how it all turned out.

8) How would Jesus vote?

  Ever think about stuff like that? I do. I actually find myself wondering if Jesus would even vote. I mentioned this in a previous post, but the only time I remember of Jesus getting close to politics, is when the religious leaders tried to trap Him by asking if they should pay taxes to Caesar. He of course got out of their attempted trap as He always did.

 It is so easy for us to say who we should or should not vote for as Christians. In a comment on a Facebook friend's post, a man commented "voting 3rd Party is that last thing we should do as Christians". I don't comment on every stupid remark I see on social media, or I would wear my fingers out, but I did challenge him to back that up with Scripture, knowing he cannot.

 I know it is about considered heresy to say this, but there is nothing in the Bible to indicate we should or should not vote. I am not saying we shouldn't, but I will say this: we would be better off to sit at home and not vote, then to act like politics has caused us to act these last few years. I do blame Donald Trump for a lot of it, but that doesn't remove the guilt from the rest of us. Just today, I had someone from the same church background as I am block me on Facebook because I am anti-Trump. And they are not the first.

 If politics is going to cause us to argue, make false accusations, try to guilt or scare people into voting like us, cause us to block people and act un-Christ-like, we would be better off to avoid politics and voting and live under the rule of the worst kind of people on earth. Sound like a far out comment? Not really.

 The Bible says nothing about voting. It says nothing about America. But you know what it does say? It has a lot to say about how we treat others. Thanks to politics, we don't do too well in that area.

 During Jesus' earthly ministry, He was way too busy healing and loving people to be involved in politics. Wouldn't it be awesome if Christians today were the same? Oh, I am not saying not to vote...I am saying wouldn't it be awesome if we were so busy loving people and spreading the Gospel that we didn't have time for endless political posts and arguing? Wouldn't it be awesome if Christians spent as much time spreading their political views as they do spreading the Gospel? Wouldn't it be awesome if Christians worked as hard to win people to their Savior as they do on winning people to their politician and political viewpoints? This shouldn't seem like radical ideas, but they are. Because today's American Christians aren't like that. Politics has become equal and synonymous with our Christianity. The voting booth has become as important as our place of worship. The Constitution has become as important to us as the Bible, and I fear American Christians view things through its prism before the Bible.

 The devil can use anything to trip people up, to get their attention and energy off of God and spiritual things. We tend to warn against things like porn, drugs, gambling, sex, and other sins. But what if politics is a better and more useful tool for the devil? It causes division among God's people. It causes bad attitudes. It gets the focus of Christians, and definitely causes Christians to ignore or set aside what the Bible says about so much.

   We are so partisan as Christians. It is bad to criticize politician A, and you must pray for him. Yet it is fine to criticize harshly politician B and any others of the same politician persuasion. A Christian should not say anything bad about A, but feel free to say anything, no matter how bad, about B. It is bad if B does it, but OK if A does it. I honestly can't see Jesus badmouthing candidates of either party, can you?

 I am of course including myself in this, but I believe politics above anything else, has shown how unlike Jesus and how un-Christian we American Christians can be. Sadly, it doesn't look like that is going to change any time soon.

 In conversation a while back, I mentioned this to a friend, and I'll use you in this scenario: You are a Republican who loves Trump and has the same view of Hillary and other Democrats as most of we Republicans do. You have a friend who is not a Christian, and is a big Hillary supporter. She sees what you post about Hillary, calling her Killary, posting "lock her up", and the host of other many nasty Hillary posts that are out there. What do you think your chances are of ever winning her to Jesus?

 Maybe we would all be better off steering clear of so much political talk. It doesn't really do any good. All of the pro-Trump posts are not changing my mind. My anti-Trump posts are not going to change the minds of any of his supporters. And the same goes for Hillary posts.

 I'll close this part with this, as it fits here: A good friend of mine has a couple of atheist friends. They were horrified and disgusted at the support of Christians for Trump in light of.......well, you know. They said they never want to hear another Christian talk about morals after supporting and voting for Trump. And I only bring that up to say if so many people had not been so vocal about voting for him and why we should overlook so much, these atheists may not have known there was so much Christian support for him and so much of a push to overlook so much. But we Christians must let everyone know our political views......

9) A favorite Christmas song

  I love Christmas songs, and it is about impossible for me to pick one favorite. One of my all time top favorites would have to be Come On, Ring Those Bells by Evie Karlsson. I think  she is the first to have recorded that song, which she did in 1977 when she was still Evie Tornquist. (Wow, that recording is 42 years old!) It has not been recorded as much as songs like Mary, Did You Know?, but it has still been recorded several times, and I have yet to hear anyone do it as much justice as she did 42 years ago. I have been listening to her sing it for many years now, and it still remains close to the top of my favorite Christmas songs.

 Music is such an awesome part of our lives. Many people can hear a certain song, and are reminded of a certain time in their life and how they felt. There is a song by the Southern Gospel group the Nelons from their 1987 release that reminds me of a job I hated. Not sure why it is just that song, and not the whole album......but anyway, Come On Ring Those Bells by Evie remind me of good times and good things.

10) Chik fil a

  I am going to try to finish this post this evening, November 18.

  Chik fil a made the news today when they announced they were going to stop giving to organizations and businesses branded "anti-LGBQT". Story here. This is disappointing after the stance they have had for so long, and have been boycotted and bullied by the very intolerant left and even more intolerant LGBQT bullies.

 I can't see this not hurting them. Myself included, there are many conservatives and Christians who have supported them because of their stance and the boycotts. Their sandwiches ARE good, but they are also extremely expensive. Are the same people going to support them as much with this new stance?

 Here's a few points I wanted to make:
 **And, yeah, I deal personally with the whole same-sex attractions/gay issue myself....but I believe giving in is wrong, and I believe what the Bible says about it. That said, onto my points:

a) The LGBQT crowd has raged about bullying and intolerance for years. And yes, both exist...but they have proven they excel better than anyone with their bullying and intolerance. They can't handle anyone disagreeing or saying they are wrong or sinning. They want 100% capitulation  and they want dissenters silence and shut down.

b) After years of boycotts and hate from the left and LGBQT, it seems counter productive to suddenly give into the bullies.

c) The organizations labeled "anti-LGBQT" are not necessarily so. One is the Salvation Army. They do a lot of good, but to make the bullies happy, Chik fil a is suddenly stopping donations to this wonderful organization. Here's the thing: anyone who dares disagree is anti-LGBQT. Don't agree with gay marriage? You are anti-LGBQT...and so forth. I fear it will get worse, until we are one day fined or jailed for daring to speak out against anything gay.

 (And don't sit on your laurels, Trump supporters. When he was running for president, he promised to further gay rights, was for genderless bathrooms, and appeared at a LGBQT for Trump rally with a rainbow flag saying "LGBQT for Trump." Don't think he'd take the part of Christians over the LGBQT mob.)

d) I have been reading a lot about the decision, and reading comments from both sides. There are already gay people saying things like "They are 15 years too late." "They waited 15 years, I am going to wait 15 years before I buy anything there." "I'm not eating there til they apologize and admit their wrongdoing." If Chik fil a thinks giving into the bullies will make them happy, that isn't necessarily true.

e) What is crazy, is all this hate came because the founder of Chik fil a said be believes in traditional marriage. Wow. Obama said the same before he became president, and they didn't hold it against him.

f) I do see this hurting them. I doubt there will be boycotts by Christians, but I can see these things happening:

A slow down of Christians and conservatives eating there.

Churches and Christian organizations pulling back from advertising them and using them for functions

Positive feedback from the Christian community.

  Chik fil a may have cooked their goose. And those going there don't want goose. They want chicken.

11) Thanksgiving

 Don't worry my "you're skipping Thanksgiving when you decorate early for Christmas" friends....I am still celebrating Thanksgiving, even with my early Christmas decorations up. I think it is great we set aside a time each year to focus on being thankful, but it is sad that we don't focus more on it the rest of the year. It is so easy to focus on the bad and what we don't have, while most of us are rich and have much compared to many in other areas of the world....even compared to some here in our own country. I am that way. Depression robs you of a lot, and that is one thing it robs you of: seeing what you have, and how good you truly have it.

 Other years, I have done 30 days of thankfulness for the month of November, but I really dropped the ball on that this year. So I shall do that here. It will be a good way to end this post that needs a stopping place.

 Every other year, my sister Vicki has to go to her in-laws, but this is a year that our whole gang will be together. My mom is worried we won't have enough stuffing, as it is a big hit. She still does it in the bird, and we haven't died yet.

 By the way, what is up with some people calling it "dressing"? You don't dress a turkey, though the one I pictured above IS kind of cute dressed up. You STUFF a turkey. And I challenge you to go to the store and buy Stove Top Dressing. You won't find it. I assure you. :)

12) 30 days of thankfulness crammed into one

As promised....

1) My family. We aren't perfect, but we love each other, get along great together, and have fun when we are together.

2) Salvation

3) A job I like

4) Days off (even if you like your job, days off are awesome!)

5) Books, and time to read them. And shelves to keep them on

6) The Bible.....and different translations/versions of it

7) My mom's fried chicken

8) Music

9) My new place that I love

10) Lighthouses

11) Christian suspense, and the authors who write it

12) Friends

13) Food

14) Paid holidays off

15) The internet. Yeah, there is a lot of bad about it, but it is very useful also

16) My nieces and nephews. Yeah, they are included in #1, but I am very thankful for them and that they want to hang out with me. That usually costs me paying for lunch..... :)

17) Writing. I do love to write. I just struggle with what to write about.

18) Warm weather, sandals, and cooler clothing

19) Family vacations

20) A good and dependable car

21) Second (and more) chances

22) Days without snow

23) Being able to walk so many places in town

24) Thrift stores and good deals

25) Christmas, and all it means

26) Chocolate

27) Good health. Mostly

28) My bed. (It is very comfortable)

29) Jeans

30) My sense of humor. A lot of people may think my jokes are not funny, but it helps me in my worst times of depression.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Truly He taught us........

One of my all time favorite traditional Christmas songs is O Holy Night. A piece of useless trivia: I have around 70 different recordings of that song on my iPod/iTunes. There are some I like a lot, and some that are just OK. If I had to pick my all time favorite recording of the song, it would be the 1983 recording by Sandi Patty on the first of her 500 Christmas CDs she recorded. OK, 500 is a big exaggeration, but she has recorded several Christmas CDs over the years. The Gift Goes On was her first, and is the CD that has my favorite recording of O Holy Night. The only thing I don't like about it: it is in a Medley with Jesu Bambino. They go well together, but she only sings one verse of O Holy Night. Check it out some time. I'll put the video below to make it easier. :) And yikes....that recording is 36 years old.

  Do you pay attention to lyrics when you listen to or sing a song? I do, and I love good lyrics. That is another reason I could never listen to the kinds of music that you can't hear or understand the words. O Holy Night doesn't just have a great tune. It has some great lyrics also. I am one of those people who listen to Christmas music early, so I have heard the song several times already, especially my favorite. (By the way, country singer Colin Raye's is most likely my second favorite. The music they put with it does a lot for his version).

 Anyway, the words of the third verse have been really sticking out to me lately:

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim
His power and glory evermore proclaim

  And especially the first part of that verse: Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace. "Truly He taught us to love one another......" He may have taught us that, but have we learned it and do we practice it?

 I was already thinking a lot along these lines, and then my best friend did a post on Facebook that caught my attention. Well, anything he posts catches my attention. He posts once to my 1000 posts. That may not be an exaggeration.... He posted this:

"Referring to 1 Cor. 13, Charles Spurgeon says: "This love both covers and bears all things. It never proclaims the errors of others. It refuses to see faults unless it may kindly help in their removal. It stands in the presence of a fault with a finger on its lips." I sarcastically commented: "That's in the Bible?!"

  Myself included, Christians as a whole need to do better with loving everyone, and especially each other. If we truly learned what Jesus taught - to love one another - we would do a better job of it. And I am sure there are those who do it better than others.

  If we truly loved each other, we wouldn't be so quick to argue with each other and put each other and our views and opinions down. If we truly loved each other, we wouldn't make accusations that aren't true. If we truly loved each other, we wouldn't let politics get in the way of doing that. If we truly loved each other, we would always think the best of each other and never the worst.

 His law is love....

  When asked by the religious hypocrites of His day what the greatest commandment is, He gave this reply:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)

 There are a lot of modern day Christians who claim you don't have to keep the 10 commandments. I even had a Baptist barber tell me once you cannot even keep them all. I watched my wallet around him just in case the one about stealing was the one he couldn't keep......

 But here Jesus is commanding us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That covers about half of the commandments, plus a whole lot more.

 In 1 John chapter 4, it says if we don't love, we don't know God, because God is love.

" 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (ESV)

  It would seem that it is pretty important to God that we love each other. It isn't just a line in a well-loved Christmas song that has been around since 1847. (That is even older than my friend Shirley Dye at my church....) It should be something we daily practice, work at, pray for help to love people....praying harder regarding some people.....

  Christmas is about love. God loved us measly humans so much, that He sent His only son in the form of a helpless baby that would live in a human body for 33 years, and then be cruelly put to death so that we could have eternal life and be saved from our sins. We need to love others and show that love 365 days a year, but Christmas is a great time to work at it if we are slacking in that department.....and I am sure I am not the only one who needs help and work in that area. I have social media. I know I am not the only one.....

 Make sure you spend time being thankful for what you have, because this is the season to be thankful....but work on loving people as you practice being thankful. Don't wait til Christmas, the season of love. Love now.

Outside on a cold and lonely street
A homeless woman sleeps this Christmas
Tonight, there's a child that dreams of home
In an orphanage alone
For all they really need is a helping hand from
You and me

The season of love
I really believe that this would be much better
And people would come together
If we share the reason for the season of love
The spirit of Christmas will change
This world forever
If we all play our part
Just by giving from the heart I know
Christmas will really become
The season of love

Somewhere, underneath a Christmas tree
Is a simple manger scene this Christmas
And there lying on a bed of straw
Is the greatest gift of all
This Christmas let's let the world know
For all they really need is the love of God
To set them free


Though the holiday passes away
And the lights begin to fade
The spirit of Christmas will remain


Mark Harris & Don Koch

Monday, November 4, 2019

October-November stuff

I can't believe it is November already, and that we are already four days into it. I actually started this blog post on October 2, and have been adding to it since then, never actually posting it. I thought about just deleting the post and starting all over, but decided to finish it and post it. Most of this is from October, and is definitely old stuff.

 This is a long post. I have, as usual, said some things people won't like and will disagree with, and other things people won't be interested in nor care about.......but anyone can blog. And those who blog, write about what they care about and what interests them. So just look at this like a bag of trail mix where you only pick out what you like. Skip the ones you aren't interested in. Or skip the whole post. You might be better off doing that.  :)

1) Day of prayer for Trump

   My Facebook feed has been flooded the last couple of days with the announcement that Franklin Graham was calling for a day of prayer for Trump, today October 2. Graham is someone I haven't been impressed with for reasons I won't go into at this moment, so his name being attached didn't help my disgust with the request.

  My points may echo or be similar to points I have made on other related subjects, but I have some  questions to ask...and I'll leave it at that:

a) Should a person like Graham only call for a day of prayer for president he likes and who is claiming to be part of the same political party he is a member of?

b) If a conservative is going to post Bible verses that they feel command us to pray for the president, is it really Christian and right to just do that when they agree with the president and like him......and when he has an "R" by his name?

c) Should your prayers be any different or more fervent depending on the party of or your feelings toward that president?

d) Is it really what a Christian should do to push a day of prayer for Trump, but not Obama or some other Democrat with a "D" by their name?

e) Should you only pray and be vocal about praying for presidents you voted for?

f) If you didn't pray for and/or urge people to pray for Obama, then should you urge me to pray for Trump?

g) If you do not and cannot support a president, and wish he was out of office...what exactly does one pray for exactly in regards to him anyway?

2) The weather

  Don't get me wrong: I still loathe winter, and have feelings beyond loathing for snow...but I am enjoying the cooler weather. I'll take summer over winter, but I am not a huge fan of extreme heat and humidity.

 I have yet to turn my furnace on. Maybe my place is well insulated, but it hasn't gotten very cold inside. I'm still running around the house in shorts and a t-shirt, and have a fan running on me at the moment.

 I do think I would handle winter better if it wasn't for snow. I hate driving in it, hate shoveling it, hate cleaning it off my car....and anything else about it. I guess another advantage of living where I am now is if I want to walk in the cold, I can avoid cleaning my car off just to go to the store. And I can have pizza delivered here. :)

 To those who say I need to move if I hate winter that much - and people have - why would I move away from the only people who want to hang out with me - my family?

 I have had to wear a jacket to work the last few days, but not home. It is that time of year when you use your heater going to work, forget it is on when you go home and wonder why the car is so hot inside.

**update, October 13: my car had frost on it this morning, and the temps were in the 30's. I still haven't run my furnace, though I did dig out my sweat pants instead of shorts to wear around the house as I have been doing.

 I am still sock-less though. When I am home, I like to go barefoot.....but that changes in the winter. I also prefer sandals to other footwear and miss sandals when it is too cold to wear them.

**update October 29: I still haven't had to run my furnace, and am still running around the house without socks.

**update November 4: I actually kicked the furnace on two nights ago. It is set at around 67-68, and hasn't run a lot that I have noticed. I have upgraded on some days to socks and occasionally a sweat shirt instead of a t-shirt.

3) Keep your word

  Do we truly keep our word? Are we careful that when we say we will do something, to actually do it? How many times have I promised to do something, and either put it off too long or forgot all about it. And do we truly intend to do what we promise?

 I'll give a few examples:

 Over the years, I have had people say "we need to have you over some time!"...and they never did.

 About a year ago, a guy I was friends with on Facebook, who has his account deactivated currently, had made the statement that if anyone needed to talk, he was available. He had lived quite the wild gay life before getting back to God. I messaged him, and he said to call him. He was traveling and talked to me on the phone for over 3 hours, and had a lot of helpful things to say. He quoted so much Scripture, I was amazed by how much he knew.

 Towards the end of his call, he told me to message my address, and he was going to mail me two books a friend of his wrote that would be helpful. I argued that he didn't need to, but he insisted...so I did. He never sent them.

   And I am honestly not holding against him. That came to my mind when I was considering this topic. People forget. I do, you do. And I doubt God is going to hold it against us when we do honestly forget. I am sure I promised to lend a book or books to people and forgot to do so.

   But should we be more careful about that? If we promise something, we should first of all mean it, and maybe we should make a note of it where we will see it and be reminded. Christians should be known for keeping our word.

 One thing that made me write on this, was talking about praying for people. Do we really pray for people when we promise to do so?

   I had a cool thing happen at work recently. I was pretty upset about something and not having a good day. I talked to my bosses, and they were somewhat helpful about the issue, but I was still worrying and upset about it. A pastor and his wife came in who I chat with a lot, and I mentioned my problem in a generic way, and asked if they'd pray about it. She said "well, let's do it right now!" They both laid a hand on me, and she prayed about my issue. And knowing them, I would imagine they will do at home also. But do we? Would we have the courage to pray for someone in a hospital lobby, a restaurant, or wherever someone may ask us to pray? And will we do it when we part ways?

 Do we keep our word? Is it important to us to do so?

 And again, we do forget. But maybe we need to work harder on not doing that.

4) The reading goal

  An update on my reading for the year. Yesterday, I hit 400 books, which is double my goal of 200 for the year. It does help to not have a life. :)

 **Since I gave that update, I read more books. Now I am at 442. Yeah, no life. :)

5) The forgotten med

  I am on 5 medications: depression, anxiety, diabetes, triglycerides, and blood pressure. I had tennis elbow for a few months, and my doc put me on an anti-inflammatory med for that, which didn't help, so he had me get a shot...which did help. I had been used to taking 5 pills, and ran out of one and didn't realize it til recently......because I was still taking 5 pills with the one for my arm. By process of elimination, I realized it was the one for anxiety. That would explain a few things. Fortunately, my pharmacy is a stone's throw from my place. Well, if I threw well. I don't throw like a girl, but I don't aim well. :) I weary of taking pills, but I guess they are a necessary evil.

6) Disappointing breakfast

 There is a restaurant in my new town I have been wanting to try, but they have weird hours: 6 am-2 pm, and possibly later Fridays. I heard their food was good, and one person was raving about their sausage gravy and biscuits....my favorite breakfast. I rarely get it, at least where it is really good, except on family vacations when one of my brothers-in-law makes it.

 The first time I went for breakfast on my day off, they were closed for 2 weeks for vacation. So I finally ate there a week or so ago. The prices were decent: 2 biscuits and gravy, add home fries and it totaled $5.95. The waitress put it in front of me, and I took a bite, then another......and realized something was missing: sausage. It tasted OK, but it definitely was not what I expected. Had the lady at the register asked me how it was, I'd have politely mentioned that, but she didn't ask, so I didn't say. I doubt I'll go back. I'd rather hit the very good Chinese restaurant in town.

 And maybe I'll make my own. Though the only time I did that, I made twice the amount my sister and her husband make for their family of 5. It is hard to cook for one........

  I have known people who say they cannot cook, and I don't get that. My mom never really taught me to cook, but I saw enough of what she did that I got a good idea. I can remember the night after church when I was around 13 or so, my dad decided it was time I learned to fry my own egg.

 Cooking is easy. I doubt I'll ever be able to cook as good as my mom, but I think I am a pretty decent cook, and not afraid to try anything. I make gravy... and it is good gravy. I make chili, soups, roast chickens, and more.

 I eat a lot of chicken, and need to find some easy and low carb chicken recipes.

 **update: I made my own sausage and gravy yesterday (October 10), and it was awesome. And it had a key ingredient that the restaurant's did not: sausage.

7) Lumping people together

  This is something a lot of us, maybe most of us, are guilty of: lumping people of certain groups together and making blanket statements about them. It happens in all sorts of situations and for all kinds of groups of people, but politics is where I have noticed it a lot lately.

 There are many Trump supporters who just paint anyone not supporting him as liberals, anti-this, anti-that, etc. I even got accused of being for killing babies if I wasn't for Trump. Yet, there are a lot of conservatives like me who are against him.

 Then on the other hand, there are a lot of anti-Trump people who make blanket statements about Trump supporters. Yes, there are a lot who are way over the top and say things like the Bible foretold Trump's presidency, etc...yet there are a lot of Trump supporters who aren't vocal about it and voted for him because they felt he was the lesser of 2 evils.

 A great example of an over the top Trump post: A guy I am friends with from El Salador is really over the top pro-Trump - odd since he doesn't live in the US - but anyway, he posted an article where a Rabbi claimed to have found a link between Trump and King David that shows Trump is paving the way for the Messiah. No joke. Sadly, there are a lot of over the top Trump fans out there, but I know they all aren't like that.

 This isn't the first time this happened to me, but some man I never interacted with nor do I know, sent me a private message on Facebook full of the f-word and calling me a liberal because I made a comment against Trump on a political page. Yeah, I have had some ignorant things said to me by people in my own church, but it would be wrong of me to say all Trump supporters are like this man.

 There are bad cops. There are racist whites and racist blacks. And so on. But we cannot take the actions, attitudes, words, etc of some and try to say that all in that group are like that.

8) Compassion

  Are we compassionate enough? It is a trait Jesus often showed, but do modern day American Christians show it and have it?

 Is it compassion to say "Oh who cares if those druggies die." "Those kind of people deserve to get AIDS."

 It is too easy to be disgusted by behaviors and sins, and not feel any compassion for those caught up in it. I admit it is an area I need to do a lot better in. Christians should be the most compassionate people on the earth, but too many are not.

9) The great commission

  Jehovah Witnesses are wrong about a lot, and have a lot of false teaching. You have to give them kudos though for working so hard to get people to attend their church. I wouldn't want to go door to door like that.

 Though I did once. Several years back, my pastor asked me if I'd do him a favor. Since then, I have learned to ask what it is before I commit. But that day, I made a mistake and said "sure." The favor? The church had gone calling for Vacation Bible school the day before, and there were a couple of streets that still needed covered. I was going to help him. You have got to be kidding.

 It started out OK. We went to the first few houses together and he did all the talking. Those houses were across from some kind of business. Then we got to where there were houses on each side of the street, and I could not believe the words that came out of his mouth: "I'll take this side of the street, and you take the other side." I prayed for the rapture to happen. It didn't. I prayed for God to take me right there, right then. He didn't. With great trepidation, I crossed the street and knocked at the first house. No answer. Nor at the next. The third house worried me. There were two guys sitting outside watching me as I knocked on their neighbors' doors. If I remember correctly, they were drinking beer. This is how the conversation went:

Me: "Hello"
One of the guys, rather annoyed: "Are you selling something?"
Me: "no"
Guy, more annoyed: "Are you one of those Jehovah Witnesses?"
Me (praying again for the rapture or death): "uh, no....My church, the Salem Wesleyan Methodist Church on Newgarden, is having Vacation Bible School this week, and I was wondering if your kids would like to go."
Guy, in nicer mood: "Oh, sure. They went there last year."

Never again. Ugh. And that really did happen. I am not making it up or exaggerating.

 But how serious are we about spreading the Gospel? How far out of our way will we go to reach someone for Christ? What are we willing to do to to fulfill the Great Commission?

 I have read of people who regularly go into restaurants with their Bibles, willing to talk to people who approach them. One man I read of puts a sign on his table that says "How can I pray for you?"

 I have said it before, and it bears repeating: I fear too many American Christians are more concerned with wining people to their politician or political views than they are with wining souls to Jesus Christ.

 The famous quote goes "Only one life, will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last." Are we concerned enough about people's souls? Are we too busy with other things to be of any use for God?

 Are we working on making disciples of Jesus, or of our favorite politician?

 By the way, since I have a young Jehovah Witness couple living in the other side of the duplex, I am hoping that gives me some kind of exemption from being called on by any. I can hope. "That guy in 120? Oh, I am sure Will and Paige got to him already since they live by him." I can hope......

10) Halloween

   My sisters and I went trick or treating when we were kids. They took us to relatives and other people we knew, and didn't turn us loose in neighborhoods where we didn't know people. We went a year or two after they became Christians, but were getting too old for it, so we stopped.

 I have gotten to be very anti-Halloween. I don't make a big deal about it. If someone wishes me a Happy Halloween, I just smile. I am not wishing it back, but neither am I going to be rude and make a scene.

 There is so much evil around it, I don't want anything to do with it. Witches, goblins, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc. These aren't things Christians should have anything to do with. If I had kids, I wouldn't let them trick or treat, but I would do something special for them some time in the Fall.

 And there is no way I am giving candy out. This may sound rude, but why would I want to spend money on candy to give out to greedy little kids I don't know? If there is candy in my house, my diabetic self is going to eat it. And I am kind of joking....but seriously, I am not going to hand out candy to kids I don't know on a holiday I don't like.

 The kids in this neighborhood are really getting stiffed at my duplex. I don't like or celebrate Halloween, and my neighbors don't believe in celebrating any holiday. :)

 And look at it this way: I am doing my part to prevent tooth decay..........

  By the way, I have the book I pictured. The guy did a great job on it, and it is very thoughtfully written. He doesn't use the term "greedy little kids." :)

 I do, however, decorate for Fall. My two favorite decorations for Fall are below: My scarecrows with a wheelbarrow I bought on clearance when I worked at Hobby Lobby. They started out at $99.99. I got them for around or slightly under $20. The truck I bought last year, since I am into the old truck decor.

 I also have a few fake pumpkins in the house, and a few real ones out front of my place with a scarecrow.

 And a friend from church bought me the cool place-mat below, which I really like.

11) Coming out day

 Today - I am on October 11 now - is National Coming Out Day. One of my Facebook friends was taking issue on Twitter with the site Desiring God condemning it as a celebration of sin. His point was pretty much that it is a day when people are more comfortable in coming out as gay and not being afraid. He is a celibate gay.

 Personally, I don't believe Christians should celebrate/observe it. Too many people who come out are going to live a more dangerous lifestyle. Young guys are going to be targets of others who want to use them for sex. Many will get STDs and/or AIDS, and many will end up in hell for eternity. Should we celebrate that?

  But I get his point. I hid my struggles in fear for years, then just didn't care anymore. I "outted" myself  on this blog, but not on this day. It is a good and bad thing that people feel safer coming out. It is really tough living with that secret and fearing people finding out. It is freeing to admit it....so I get the day, I'm just not sure Christians should have anything to do with it.

12) Blogging ideas

   Just throwing this out there. I don't consider myself  great writer, but if you do read my blog and have any ideas for me to blog about, hit me up. At times I feel the urge to write, but can't think of anything.

13) Faith in.........

  I did a post on Facebook the other day that didn't get a lot of reaction. A few people liked it and commented positively. One person commented and it seemed he deliberately misconstrued part of it, but I could be wrong on that.

  The gist of what I said was that I fear too many American Christians put too much faith and trust in politicians. This is not another Trump post, but Ann Coulter did what is an extreme example of this. She wrote a book, I think in 2016, titled "In Trump We Trust." (She has since did a complete 180 on him.)

 I don't care who the politician is: Trump, Rubio, Cruz, or Mickey Mouse. If American Christians are truly trusting God, then why do they act the way they do at election times?

 If Christians are truly putting their faith and trust in God:

Would we make dire predictions, such as "if X wins, we will lose our guns!"

Will we badger people to vote the way we are voting?

Will our social media be a constant flood of why the other candidate is bad and ours is the one who must win?

   I am not at all saying not to vote, though my voting days may be over. I am also not saying it is wrong to let your preferences made. It just seems to me that we are not trusting God enough when it comes to elections, and give the idea that if our guy wins, everything will be perfect and they will rescue us from the evil of the other party.

  I personally believe there isn't much difference in the two main parties anymore. To me, the Democrats are more honest than Republicans. The Dems are open about what they stand for and fight for it. The Republicans say what they are for and against, but rarely do much, if anything, to fight for it or against it. Abortion is a great example. At the beginning of 2016, we had a Republican majority in the House and Senate, and a guy in the White House claiming to be Republican. I am not saying abortion could have been wiped out completely, but they could have done a lot more than what was done. They just don't want to.

  Politicians are pretty much all corrupt to some point. They don't get in there without showing partiality, pandering to special groups, lying, character assassination, etc. So to put much faith or trust in any politician is naive at best. But to seemingly forget God is in control no matter who wins an election, seems to be par for the course these days.

 And it applies to other area of life, not just politics. Do we truly trust God, or do we trust in other things instead?

14) Sports

  One constant thing in life that wearies me, is being asked about sports. Almost everywhere I go:

"So did you watch the game last night?"

"Man, the Steelers bombed last night."

  And so on. My response is always the same: "I'm not into sports." The response is usually one of surprise. After all, I am a guy, so of course I should be interested in overpaid immature guys playing with a ball.

 Here is a thought that recently came to my mind: Why is a surprise when a guy isn't interested in sports, but not a surprise when women are?

 Why is it an oddity when a guy doesn't like sports?

15) The Beth Moore and Jon McArthur controversy 

   This is one thing my Twitter feed and Facebook feed have been flooded with. Jon McArthur hit at Beth Moore pretty hard in a public setting, getting some laughs and cheering in reply. He is against female ministers, and decided to let her know it in a rather rude way.

 To my knowledge, she is not a pastor. I thought she was more a teacher than anything, but what do I know.

  The church I grew up in - which is the same denomination as the one I currently attend - had female evangelists several times for revival. I never had a problem with them. The church I now attend had a woman for its first pastor more years ago than I am alive, and was named for her for several years. That did change.

 I personally am against women pastors. I think it is a bad idea for a woman to be the pastor, but I don't make a big deal about it. There are women pastors who come in the hospital often who I chat with and even tell jokes...but I am not sure the Bible lends to the idea of women pastors. But I admit I could be wrong.

 There are cases where God did use women to minister: Phillip had evangelist daughters, there was a woman judge, and there were prophetesses. I do think we should be careful to condemn those God is using in ministry if they are not teaching false things....male or female.

16) I am human scum

  In a Tweet on Twitter last week, Donald Trump said we conservatives who do not support him are human scum. I am pretty sure this is unprecedented for a president claiming to be a Republican to call those in the party he claims to be in "human scum."

 What bothers me the most is the silence from his supporters. I remember the outrage when Obama called conservatives things. Maybe Trump supporters agree with him. After all, how dare we oppose him?

 I can understand people voting for him because they feared Hillary. I cannot understand the constant defense and praise of him, and the ignoring of so much that would be condemned if he still had a "D" by his name. I am truly disappointed in so many people. Why are they not calling him out for his human scum comment? Did they take a solemn vow to never question or criticize him? I swear even some people in my own church would question God before they questioned Donald Trump, and would react less to criticisms of  God than of Donald Trump. Why can this man get away with so much? Why does his past not matter, yet other politicians' do? Why do they question the Christianity of Hillary and Obama, yet insist Trump is one no matter how badly he acts? Why can't they see what I and so many other "human scum" see?

 I have come to the realization that I dislike Trump more intensely than I did Obama. Obama was a horrible president, and he seemed to hate white people and Christians. Yet, conservatives fought his bad policies and called him out for his bad actions and words. Trump? They never, ever criticize him, and are more bothered by we who point out hid bad actions and polices than by his doing them. I honestly wonder if there is anything the man can do that his supporters would criticize. He said he could shoot people on 5th ave in Manhatten and not lose any voters, and I do believe he is correct.

 There are people who call it a cult. I am not going to lump all Trump supporters together, but some do act like they are in a cult. Now by sharing this below, I am not saying Trump supporters are a cult. All I am saying is some of them exhibit the same behaviors.

 One last thing. Consider this: the man praises and gushes about his Korean leader buddy and how wonderful the dictator is who has killed many of his own people. Yet Trump calls us human scum. So I guess we are worse than an evil dictator/killer. What a sad, petty little man my party voted in.

 Before this insane comment, I doubted I would ever vote for him. Now I know I never will. There is no way. Besides, does human scum even vote?  :)

 And I am more amused by his comment than irritated. I think it shows he is worried about his reelection chances. What bothers me most is that I have yet to see any Trump supporter call him out for this idiotic comment. But then they never do criticize the man for anything. That is kind of scary.

 I wish my friends were as loyal to me as they are to the corrupt liberal in the White House.

 And can you imagine Regan or George W calling people in their own party human scum? I can't. I can't even imagine them calling Democrats human scum. The bar has been set really low with these last two presidents.

 I can remember when we conservatives and Christians were criticized by and had some not so nice things said about us by Obama. And it mattered. Trump calling Republicans who dare oppose him human scum? It doesn't seem to matter. Maybe the average Trump supporter agrees.

17) Kayne West

  The internet is all a buzz about the conversion of Kayne West. Is it genuine? Will it last? People are debating and arguing.

 I am not saying it isn't genuine. It isn't like he needs a last minute conversion to get Christians to vote for him......

 But here is the truth of the matter: true Christianity costs. It requires complete surrender. It requires change. I am a bit cynical of celebrities and politicians having the true relationship with God that being a Christian is all about. Jesus said the way is narrow. And contrary to what some seem to believe, there is not a separate set of rules and requirements for celebrities or the president of the United States. God expects the same things from all of us.

 So is his conversion genuine? Only he and God knows. And only he and God knows if he has what it takes to be a true Christian, and not a celebrity Christian.

19) The party

  My whole family got together last Thursday evening (Oct 24) to celebrate my oldest niece's birthday. Her boyfriend and my youngest niece's boyfriend was also there, making a total of 15, though my oldest nephew left early to meet friends.

 The menu was home made pizza, chicken pizza (salsa, cooked chicken, and cheddar cheese), taco salad, DQ ice cream cake, and German chocolate cake. Later, we carved pumpkins: Me, both brothers-in-law, my two youngest nephews, all 3 nieces, and the boyfriend of my oldest niece. My youngest niece made her boyfriend get a pumpkin, and he did clean it out (kind of gross), but never carved it, so her dad did.

 The designs were varied. We had 4 traditional jack o' lanterns...mine being one. It is on my porch with a tea light in. One niece and nephew each carved a bat, one upside down. They didn't plan that.  My nauseatingly talented brother-in-law Paul carved a house and tree freehand. We had a beach scene and turtle. It was a lot of fun. I had never carved my own. We did them when I was a kid, but my parents always helped. It may become a yearly tradition.

**November 4
 And by the way, I bought the DQ cake and had it in my freezer for over a week, and did not touch it. Miracles do happen. The DQ in my town sells their cakes half off every Tuesday. I did buy my own last week, the log kind, and made it last a few days. Awesome stuff. And I didn't have to share with anyone.

20) Social media fast

  Today is November 4, the first November addition I made to this post. I went on a social media fast Thursday evening that I will most likely end today or tomorrow. I de-activated my Facebook account, and have stayed off other social media sites for the most part. I did go on Twitter a couple of times. The fast was partially to do with politics. I am really weary of Christians saying I am for the other side if I am not for Trump. I am weary of having my Christianity questioned because I don't support him.

 Here's the thing. This may be a bit blunt, and I have tried to be careful about what I say about Christians who support Trump, but here goes: I didn't change anything. I still have the same requirements for the kind of politician I support and vote for. If the Republican Party puts up that kind of candidate again, I will vote for him. But it doesn't appear my party wants a conservative and Christian candidate any more than the Democrats do. I shudder to think who they will nominate next. McCain, Romney, Trump... they keep getting worse and more liberal. Give my party time, and they will be nominating candidates like Hillary and Obama.

  If being a conservative and Christian mean having to support and vote for Donald Trump, then I don't want to be either.

 But here is the truth of the matter: even thought too many people seem to equate Christianity and conservatism with being a Trump supporter, that is not the case. You do not have to support and vote for any candidate to be a Christian. Newsflash: you don't even have to vote or support ANY politician to be a Christian. Imagine that!

 Back to the fast: though I did go off social media for a few days because of politics, there was more to it than that. For one:  I think we can spend too much time on social media, and that largely played into my fast also.

21) Day off, romance books....and my weird habit

  Today (Nov 4) is the first of two days off in a row for me. I love days off. OK, who doesn't?! I am a night owl, and I usually stay up til 1 or 2 am if I am not working the next day, and sleep in til between 8 and 9.

  Today, I woke up around 7:30 and just enjoyed lying in bed, not having to get up. I read a while, then got up a little after 9. One thing I will miss when it gets really cold, is walking around town. Today is a decent day, so I walked. I picked up a prescription at my pharmacy and dropped another off, walked to the new restaurant in town for breakfast, then to the Dollar General for Shout. I came home and vacuumed the whole house, and then did laundry. While my clothes were washing, I did something that may sound weird.

 I don't know if other book lovers do this, but I like to take books I have previously read and liked, and re-read the endings and other parts I liked in the book. I have some totes of mass market books in the basement, and I stood some, sat on the steps, and sometimes on the rug on the floor doing just that. As my clothes washed in the next room (yeah, my basement has rooms), I smiled, laughed, and cried as I read parts in books I have previously read. And a lot of them romance.

 It may seem weird for a guy to read romance books. I did for years, then quit except for romantic suspense. I used to joke that I could handle some romance in a book as long as someone was trying to kill someone. That was kind of true.

 But then I started getting back into it. I think part of it was approaching 50 and being so depressed that I was still alone and always would be.......no wife, no kids. Just me. I started reading a certain kind of book, and still lean towards that kind: ones that involve kids and families.

 I'll give an example. It is also an example of re-reading parts of a book. I read the book yesterday, but it was so good that I was lying in bed this morning re-reading a good portion of it. The book is titled "The Prodigal's Christmas Reunion." It is the 6th and last book in a series about cousins. Their grandfather died, and as part of his will, all of the cousins have to come back to their home town and live for a year...or none of them get a penny.

 The last to show is 25 year old Lucas, who walked out on the town, his family, his girlfriend, and his faith 7 years before. He shows up with a traumatized four year old little boy. The kid's mother died of a drug overdose, and the father - Lucas' college room mate - was shot in a drug deal gone bad. The shooters grabbed the boy. The father hung on long enough to ask Lucas to find the boy, rescue him, and adopt him. The book IS a romance, so that plays a lot into the story, but it also focuses just as much on this young guy trying to be a father to a 4 year old boy who he feels ill equipped to father.

 One of my favorite scenes in the book: Lucas' ex-girlfriend was babysitting Max, the little boy. As she and Lucas are in the kitchen drinking coffee, a shrill scream pierces the air. They rush into the living room to find Max in the throes of a nightmare......something that happens occasionally.  The kid is upright on the couch, rigid with terror and crying, his eyes focused on some unseen threat.  Lucas sits on the couch, quietly talking to the boy, and wraps him in his arms, just holding him until the boy quiets and comes out of the nightmare. After it is over, Lucas is bemoaning the fact that he has no clue what to do when Max has one of those episodes. "He doesn't respond to me when I talk to him. I can't distract him." he sighs "It's like there's a wall between us. He can't see me. Or hear me. The only thing I can do is set him on my lap and hold him until he comes out of it." His ex replies "it sounds to me like you know exactly what to do."

 It really is a cool story. As the title suggests, Lucas is a prodigal. These kind of books can get a bad wrap from some Christians. I have heard "Christian novel" said in the same tone one might use for pornography....yet many books like these carry a great message. In this book, the pressures of fatherhood and dangers to his little boy and other family members drive him back to God and prayer.

 I was actually encouraged a lot by this very cool story. Yes, it is fictional, but the realities of how God works in the lives of His children - even His prodigals - is a reality and not at all fictional.

 The bad thing about this book? It is #6. I didn't read the other 5, and now I want to. But I can't buy every book I want....can I? :)

22) Gay and politics 

   There is something a lot of gay people do: their lives revolve around their sexuality. They hang out with other gay people, go to gay bars, boycott Chik fil a, constantly post on social media all things gay.

 And some Christians who are gay and use the label, but live celibate, are like that also. They may not go to gay bars, but some watch gay TV shows and constantly post about gay stuff, and making everything revolve around their sexuality.

  But we are so much more than our sexuality, whether gay, SSA, or heterosexual. Sexuality is just one part of us, and it is sad when people make their lives revolve around that.

  It hit me that Christians are the same with politics. There is no Bible verse that says how much Christians should talk about politics, or how many social media posts we should have about politics. It just isn't there. Jesus stayed away from politics. He didn't even criticize the rulers of the day. John the Baptist did. He called out the king for his adultery. (Bet he wouldn't be popular with Republicans if he was alive now....) Our lives and social media revolve way too much around one part of our lives: politics.

  But Jesus wasn't political. When the religious leaders tried to trick him about taxes, He simply said to give to God what belongs to God, and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Could that apply to more than taxes? Do we give too much to politics? Do we give too much time and energy? Do we waste too much time on politics on social media instead of doing something better with it?

 If Jesus had a Facebook account and actually used it, how many political posts would He do? How many posts would He do putting down people who didn't support his favorite politicians? How much time do you think He would spend arguing politics? How much time do you think He would spend trying to win people to His political views? How often would He post things like "if X wins, we will lose our guns and the Supreme Court will be filled with liberals"?

  You know the answer. He wouldn't. Yet we who claim to serve Him and are supposedly striving to be like Him do all that. Why? What good does it do the Kingdom of God? What good does it do for God? Does it win anyone to God? And do we act any different from non-Christians when it comes to politics?

  I have said it before, but I'll say it again: I am not blameless. I have a lot of anger and a myriad of emotions and feelings because of things people in my own church and church background have said because I dared to not support the GOP nominee for president. Untruths have been said. False accusations have been made. By those claiming they want to be like Jesus. And I have fought back.

 But what good has it done? None. I still say Obama divided this country, but Trump divided Christians and conservatives. But that can only happen if we let it. And we have let it. I have grown to hate politics and my political party. For reasons I won't go into, I dislike Trump even more than I did Obama...though Obama did more damage to our country than Trump has so far.

 One thing it all has done: it has shown me how easy it is to put our faith in the wrong things. Jesus is the way. He is the only one to have ultimate faith and loyalty in......not America, a political party, not a politician, not a church, and not even other Christians. People will let us down. Politicians will lie and let us down. Political parties will let us down. Churches will let us down. But God? He's not in the business of letting people down.

 And imagine if we spent as much time talking to people about God, as we do about politics......on and off of social media.

23) Day off 2

  I am drawing to an end of this very long post. I had two great days off in a row, and do not want to go back to work. I work the next 3, and then have the weekend off.

 Today was a cool day. I slept in again, and again enjoyed lying in bed, knowing I didn't have to get up early. I did have an 11:00 appointment to have the back brake pads on my car changed. I was really hoping and praying the rotors weren't bad, as the brakes have been squealing for a while.

 I dropped the car off at 10:30, then set off in the rain with my umbrella to shop before walking home. I hit Rite Aid and picked up some great gag gifts for Christmas from their clearance section, then hit the grocery store and the Dollar General store before walking home.

  It turns out that I not only didn't need rotors, I didn't need brake pads. The guy said dust can get in them and make them squeal. They even checked my front ones, and just charged me $10 for checking them. I thought that was pretty honest of them.

 Did I mention I am not ready to go back to work? I like my job, but feel like I need a vacation. Or sabbatical. A big part of it is my job is very people oriented.....a lot of people contact, constantly having to smile and help people. And I want to be at home. Not around people. But one can't make money sitting at home.

24) The trunk

   I may be a guy, but I like to decorate. My place doesn't look like what some think a typical bachelor's place looks like. I am no Martha Stewart (I'm actually glad of that....I'd be a woman and an ex-con!), but I do like to make my place look nice.

   One of my furnishings is a trunk that I bought cheap on clearance when I worked at Hobby Lobby. I have it in my living room where it will reside except for Christmas......I think I will put the Christmas tree there.

 I have been displaying it closed with a nautical pillow on top of it, but decided to be different and open it. I have seen them that way. I feel it needs something though, and am not sure what it needs. It has some pullover sweaters I haven't worn since Bush was in office...and no, I don't know why I still have them......there are a few throw blankets in it, and obviously the pillow......but it seems like it needs something, but what? Maybe I should email Martha Stewart. Instead of WWJD? it can be WWMSD? :)

 Would something like a nautical towel hanging out work......or no?

25) Christmas decorating 

 Speaking of decorating, I am not sure what I will do at my place. I have more windows here, a total of 12, not including the two doors. That is a lot of windows to put lights in. I'd like to put lights on the porch, but there is no railing, just a couple of brick posts that don't seem to have a way of having lights attached. Neither does there seem to be a way to put a tree out there. A bench to decorate would be cool, but I really can't afford to be buying one at the moment. Especially to just decorate.

26) The end

  In closing, though Jesus didn't talk about politics, He did talk a lot about how we are to treat each other. A great place to read about that is the Sermon on the Mount. Maybe we should all focus more on that than the latest bad or good about politicians.