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

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The quarantine edition

  Starting another muti-subject post that I'll likely work on over a period of a few days to a week. Or longer. :)

 And yes, there is some politics. :)

1) Corona

  I may have said this before, but I seriously thought it was a joke something to do with the beer when I first heard of the virus.

 Sadly, it is not. And man, have our lives changed in such a short time. My life really wasn't affected seriously recently. I got a call two weeks ago informing me that I was getting laid off for 3 weeks. Unless things change, I am off til May 4. As long as the unemployment checks come through, I am OK with it. I need a break. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to go.

  I do miss eating in a restaurant, can't take the nieces or nephews out to eat anywhere, and I'd really, really like to go thrift store shopping.

But as I have stated before, I am rarely around people outside of work and church and family times.....so the social aspect really isn't affecting me.

 It is a plus that I can stay up late and sleep in. :)

This all does bring up interesting questions:

Is this all really necessary? I get it that it is different than the flu......but all this?

Should the government have this much control...but yet if we go about as normal, it could spread like wild fire.

Should governors have the authority to demand all that they have without it having to go through anyone else? (I asked that on Facebook, and it turned into a Trump praisefest)

Man, do I miss normal.

2) Love

 I know my Bible fairly well. I am not saying I am a Bible scholar.....but I attended a Christian school for 13 years, was in a Christian home after the age of 11 1/2, attended a Bible college for 4 years, have read the Bible through once, and read many passages and studied books and passages of the Bible for the greater part of my life.

 So I can safely say that the main message of the Bible is love, mostly God's love for human kind. But the Bible also has a lot to say about loving others.....even Bible versions outside of what Jesus, Moses, and Paul used. (Everyone knows they used the KJV!)

 Can Christians say suck? I don't know. But if so, a lot of Christians really suck at loving people. It is easy to love people who are like us, and act like we want them to.

 Babies? Everyone loves babies....except Planned Parenthood and anyone who supports the murder of them.
Family members? With the exception that one aunt or cousin, usually we can love most of them.
Republicans? As long as they support and defend our politician to the death.
Democrats? Nah, they are evil and we can hate them.
Gay people? They are "perverts and should be hung". (Something someone in church leaned up and told me once, not having a clue about me.)

  I truly have learned a lot these last 4 years. We cannot love people the way God commands us to do, and argue politics and say the things all sides have said about those we disagree with politically. True story, as the saying goes.

 I John 4:8 says that if we do not love, we don't love God.....for God is love. (My paraphrase). If we can't love those who don't vote like us and who do not support our political candidate or political views, then we don't truly know God. If we can't love the gay couple next door, then we don't know God.

  I am so thankful for my 6 nieces and nephews: Stephanie, Allie, Caitie, Josiah, Ben, and Nathan. I am thankful for all of my family, and love them all.....but to be honest, I have spent a big part of my life feeling unlovable and unlikeable. (well, that evidently is not a word since it got highlighted....) I wanted so badly to be a father to a couple little boys - don't know why I never pictured being a father to girls. (It may because I wanted a brother so badly). When my sister Vicki was pregnant with Stephanie, my oldest niece, I vowed if it was a girl that I would have nothing to do with her. That of course changed once I set eyes on her, and she was followed by 2 other nieces who wrapped me around their fingers.

 Then the boys came after my other sister married. Vicki could evidently not have boys, and my sister Pam could not have girls. These 6 totally awesome kids have filled a hole in my life and heart, and I don't think I could love them more if I was their father. They love me, want to spend time with me...especially if I buy lunch....and are quick and willing to hug. Well, at least before Corona..... Even Josiah, age 18, hugs me and tells me he loves me.

 We all need love, but we don't all give it to all willingly and easily. I think I can rightly say we are most like God when we love, especially sacrificially and not holding back. Can we do that and be very political?

 I see posts all the time slamming people who do not support a certain politician. And do I love him? No, but unless you love Pelosi, Obama, Hillary, etc...don't judge me on not loving politicians.....yet, if the Bible is right, then we should love those very corrupt individuals who seem intent on destroying our rights and freedoms.

 And that underscores my point. There are few among us who truly loves like God commands us to. But are we willing to change? Does it matter enough to us?

3) Politicians and salvation

  It is really easy for those who support a politician to believe that the politician is a Christian. A lot, maybe most, of those who ran for president in the last several elections have claimed to be a Christian. Even pulling off a sudden conversion at the last minute when the Christian vote is needed is believed if one supports that candidate.

 Sadly, all a politician has to do is say he or she supports the political views and values of their supporters, and the supporters will staunchly defend their claim to be a Christian.

 For building a wall, stronger borders, being pro-life, putting down the other party, etc....the person HAS to be a Christian.

 Yet the Bible gives different criteria for being a Christian. You won't find the Democratic or Republican platform as being proof of Christianity in the Bible. The Bible says we are known by our fruits, and those have nothing to do with politics.

 The Bible states that it is really difficult for rich people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I would say it is pretty difficult for a politician to also, but then a lot of them are also rich.

4) Truly pro-life

 I read a comment on a Facebook post that bothered me a lot. A huge Trump supporter friend of mine commented that sadly this quarantine will probably result in a surge of abortions - the idea is couples cooped up together....well, you get the point. His statement may or may not be correct, but it was what a female friend of his posted in reply: "Or worse, more liberal babies."

 Think about that statement for a minute. This is a Trump supporter, and I assume a Christian,  saying having liberal babies being born is worse than babies being killed in the womb. If we are truly pro-life, we will be against the killing of all babies, no matter who their parents are or what their political party is. This woman cannot be pro-life with her wacked out statement. (evidently wacked isn't a word either)

 I am afraid we pro-life people drop the ball in other areas. Being pro-life isn't just being anti-abortion. It is caring about all people and their lives.

 And no, a president who is truly pro-life will NOT sign a bill funding the killing of babies.

5) Truth

When Jesus was before Pilate, He was asked by Pilate "What is truth?"

 Maybe that is a question that needs asked today also. What is truth? A young man I am friends with on Facebook, named Kenny Stetler, shared this recently:

The amount of rumors, conspiracy theories, poor reasoning, and outright falsehoods being shared on Facebook right now is astounding.

COVID, Bill Gates, vaccines, 5G, Fauci, microchips... No molehill is overlooked for potential promotion to mountain.

As people who, in theory, believe in an objective, knowable truth, I see disappointingly little time and thought given to searching for the truth. People who would die before they told a lie, share them day in and out with hardly a thought given to their credibility.

We have given in to the fatal conceit that if it sounds good to us, it must be true - after all, our motive is pure! Yet while motive is important, a lie that is told with the best of intentions is still a lie.

I know the world is confusing. I know that, in the din of voices that constantly barrage us, truth isn't always easy to find - I struggle with that. But I find, when that happens, it is always best for me to turn my thoughts to the things I know for certain.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

  Well said. I have been both alarmed and disgusted at how little Christians seem to care about what is true today. Oh, almost any Christian worth their salt would say they never lie and are honest......but is that really the truth?

 I noticed it before the virus came along. If something makes a Christian's favorite politician look good, they will share the daylights out of it and never seem to care if it is true. If something makes a politician look bad they don't like, the same thing happens. Christians do post things on social media that are not true, and when confronted, all too often they just dig in their heels and defend the lie.

 It happened to me a lot during the 2016 election. Christians said all kinds of things to me since I dared oppose the GOP nominee and hold him to the same standards we used to hold politicians to. Then I went further and voted third party. Did you know it is possible to not vote Republican or Democrat? Wow. Who knew?! There ARE other choices, and you'd think a true Christian would understand that and show some grace. Ah, if only.

  Does truth matter? Do words matter? Is it honest and Christian to say "If you don't support Trump, then you are for Hillary." (That one almost amuses me.....the man himself supported her, and they didn't care about that..) Or "A 3rd party vote is for Hillary." Huh?

 Those were two of the most common, but there were others. Now since I am bored, let's take some time to examine these two statements:

Is it true that if you did not support Trump, you supported Hillary? No. I was against Hillary when Trump was giving her money and saying she'd make a great president. Being against him didn't suddenly change that......and I would wager most, if not all, of the Christians who said that to me knew that I wasn't for Hillary. It was most likely an attempt to guilt me into or somehow coerce me into voting the way they wanted....which isn't very Christian either. So to be blunt, these people are liars. You can excuse it or call it whatever you want, but they knew it wasn't true and still said it.

Is it true that a vote for a 3rd party was a vote for Hillary? Imagine for a moment that you ask me where I want to eat: Josie's Pizza or Denny's. Josie's Pizza is nasty, and I had bad experieces more than once at Dennys......I don't want to eat at either place. But I like O 'Charley's a lot, so I say I want to eat at O 'Charley's, and I eat there. But you wanted me to eat at Denny's, so you go around saying I ate at Josie's. That seems ludicrous, but no more so than saying since I didn't vote for Trump like they wanted me to, and voted 3rd party, then I actually voted for Hillary. It isn't true, and no Christian who actually cares about being honest would ever say such a thing. If you are reading this, can you understand why I have been so frustrated by this version of Christianity that has been corrupted and poisoned by politics?

   There are people who don't believe in wearing shorts, sleeves of certain lengths, watching movies or TV, and other things...yet will be dishonest when it comes to politics, or act very un-Christ-like in  how they treat people who dare speak out against a politician they have given too high of a place in their lives. I don't even believe it is Christian to freely voice your political views for and against who you want, yet try to shut down people who dare criticize the one(s) you like. Could politics be an idol? Can a politician be an idol? If they influence Christians to lie, or at best be less than honest, then yes.

***Addition to this post: There is a video of Trump suggesting people ingest disinfectant to fight the virus. As much as I dislike him, I didn't believe it til I watched the video. And yeah, he said it....yet many of his supporters are flooding social media with claims that he did not say that. One friend posted a link on my Facebook page claiming he didn't say it. I went and watched the video again before I replied, but she took it down in the meantime. I am guessing she realized she was wrong.

6) Corona 2

  I hope by the time that this quarantine has been lifted, that we will appreciate and be thankful for the every day normalcy and what we have that this virus has interrupted and kept us from. I hope that we will not take things for granted that we cannot do right now. Things like sitting in church, eating inside a restaurant, shopping at "non-essential stores", hugging those who are OK with it if we do that, having a job to go to.....and other things that we took for granted and cannot do right now....though if enough people started running around naked, they might open thrift and clothing stores. :)

  There are posts on social media asking what is one of the first things you will do after things go back to normal. One of the first things I am going to do is take my 3 nieces out to our favorite Mexican restaurant, and my 3 nephews to the restaurant of their choice. I am tempted on a warm enough day to meet my nieces at the Mexican restaurant, set up my card table in the parking lot, and eat there. :)

7) The nephews

 Speaking of my nephews, they and  my sister and brother in law moved Friday from Canton to the farm house I used to live in. They are buying it from his dad, so now they are a lot closer - from about an hour to about 10 minutes. I love it that they will be so close. I told Nate, the youngest at 13, that now they can take me out to eat. He gave me a look, and informed me that I am supposed to take them out to eat. :)

 I did my uncle duties last week. I dropped off cookies to my little sister and her family who we just moved the Friday before into the farmhouse I moved out of in August......so they are about 10 minutes from me now instead of an hour. (Yay!)

The two younger boys were't home, so I took the oldest one to get subs for him, my sister, and I. Then the other two got home, and the 3 boys wanted me to run them to Walmart. I figured why not, so we headed for Salem, going through Arby's drive through where I ordered the youngest two lunch - they were cheap though. Then we hit Walmart, which was not busy at all. The boys recently got a tent, and were wanting camping stuff. They handed me their stuff and cash, and asked if I'd pay for it. I learned long ago when they do this, that they most likely do not have enough money to cover it and are hoping I will cover the extra....which was $6.50. They did offer to pay me back later, but I told them not to worry about it. But man, them moving close might bankrupt me :)

 Then I went through the Wendy's drive through and got Frosty's for them. And me :)

 More recently, I spent a few hours entertaining the youngest 2 nephews by playing the Wii with them and getting a pizza.

 And yeah, social distancing, stay home, blah, blah, blah.... we were together to move, and I have only been around family....so not too worried at this point.

 And give me a break...I live by myself, and don't even have work now for 3 weeks.

8) Quarantine stuff 

   As I have stated before, I don't really have much human contact on my days off.....but this many days like that is driving me crazy.

 I have read. A lot. I have also worked on straightening and organizing things like under my sinks, my bookshelves upstairs, drawers, cupboards, etc. Next up is either my spare bedroom closet and the totes in my basement. I figure if it is in the totes, I most likely don't need all of it that badly.

 I have also been cooking more than normal. Which means I am eating too much. Ugh. My dumpster was a lot fuller than normal tonight when I put it out.

9) Would we be better off with Biden?

   No, I am not saying I want Biden for a president. I am against any liberal being president, which includes the one we have now.

 I wish I had kept track of all the things Trump has done and said that conservatives would have criticized and fought against if it were a president with a "D" by their name. There have been a lot. But I do remember the biggie: gun control.

Trump banned bump stocks.
He has pushed red flag laws with no due process
He has pushed raising the age to buy guns to 21.
After the one shooting, he said we need more gun control measures to stop shootings.

 And he may have even done more than that. I remember when Obama even mentioned gun control. Conservatives went nuts, including this conservative. I remember when Obama pushed gun control after a shooting, and conservatives and fake conservatives like Hannity and Limbaugh talked about him crawling on top of the bodies to push gun control. Yet when Trump does that....and does actual gin control....the same people are silent. For some reason, his supporters will not criticize him no matter what he does and says......even when it is things they would scream about and march if he had a D by his name.

 I have watched these last 4 years at the actions, words, and policies of this man that should have been fought and criticized.....but one cannot criticize this man, so his supporters either ignored, defended, or said "but Hillary". It is like a huge case of Stockholm syndrome. (Look it up).

 Another example: Imagine if Hillary or Obama called we conservatives "human scum." Do you think it would be ignored? No. Hannity and Limbaugh would be all over it, and my fellow conservatives would be ranting about it on social media. Yet Trump said that about we #nevertrump conservatives, and not one relative or friend of mine has criticized him for it. They ignored it like his gun control, his paying off a prostitute, his horrible actions, vulgarity, and more. Their silence bothers me more than him saying it. I am tempted to ask them what they think of it, but fear they would just prove they are more loyal to and protective of him than me. So I won't. And worse, they may agree with him.

  By the way, I brought up Trump's gun control to the same coworker who said she doesn't need friends who won't support Trump. She asked if his gun control directly affected me, and then asked why I cared.....wow. Imagine her defending it if it was Obama.

 But back to my premise: If Joe Biden was president instead of Trump, all conservatives would fight him on gun control. All conservatives would be outraged if he called us things like human scum. All conservatives would fight bad policies, actions, and words. All conservatives would fight him as he funds abortion.

 There are so many reasons I get angered and frustrated by this presidency and his supporters....and this is one reason. The man can get by with anything, and his supporters will not question him. I honestly believe many Christians are more comfortable and quick to question God than Trump, and will take criticisms of God over criticisms of Trump. A friend of mine who shall remain nameless has said Trump could kill children on the White House lawn, and his supporter would defend it. Or at least ignore it.

 One of many things that bother me, is how so many Christians seem to put hope in Trump over God. "He is the only one standing between us and socialism", etc. And no Christian worth their salt should be chirping his "MAGA" slogan. Isn't God the only one to do that?

  A Biden presidency would unite conservatives. In some ways, we would be better off under him than under Trump.And Christians would care again about morals and character in politicians. To quote myself, there is really nothing wrong for a politician to do. It just matters who he is, as to who will call it wrong.

 Do I want Biden as president? No. Neither do I want Trump. We are back at 2016. Two old corrupt and rich liberals who need to retire. Two bad choices. Two evils.

10) Corona 3

  I live in a small Ohio town that is right on the Ohio/PA border. I can be in PA by car in 5 minutes or less. Since moving here, the closest Walmart is in PA, 12 minutes away vs the closest one in Salem, Ohio about 30 minutes away, so I usually go to the PA one unless I want to do more shopping in Salem. When there are other stores open.

 I went to the PA Walmart Monday afternoon, walked up to where they had it roped off for people to line up - no line, thankfully. There was a Walmart employee and a cop standing there. The cop stopped me and informed me that I had to have a mask on to go in. Thankfully, I had one in my car....but I honestly didn't know they were doing that. I thought it was stupid, and way too much overreach. What is next? A Hazmat suit?

 From what I have read, the average mask doesn't protect you from even the flu. Just how much more are they going to demand, and how much more are we going to comply with? Fortunately, Ohio isn't doing that yet, so I am going to drive further to that Walmart to return a couple items and buy a few things. As long as I don't have to mask up to shop in Ohio, I will avoid PA.

11) Thinking for yourself

  How much do we really think for ourselves? For years, we have heard how Democrats and the liberal media spin things and control what we hear. They want us to think and believe a certain way.

 But are Republicans and conservatives any different? Pretty much any idea or conspiracy theory on social media is just regurgitated ideas and theories from fake conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others. Fox News included. What is being propagated and shared by so many conservatives is not original with those sharing it. In most, if not all cases, it came from these radio personalities who are telling their listeners how to think.

   And our churches? Don't get me wrong, I am not taking God out of the equation. But I have questioned a few things my church teaches and believes, and no one can give a good answer. Here is something that may come as a shock: No church is 100% right. There are some that are 100% wrong, but none are 100% right. I don't want to give the idea that my church is a cult, or that you are shunned if you dare question something.....but I have gotten the idea from years of church attendance that thinking for yourself isn't the thing to do. Just do what the church teaches and don't divert from what it believes, and keep all the rules.

 Thinking for myself is why I am where I am politically. It is why I disagree with pretty much all of my relatives and fellow church members. I researched, dared to think as an individual instead of as a Republican, and it led to the stand I took and still take.

 Conspiracy theories are abounding, which just make people look foolish. I have never been a conspiracy theorist kind of guy, but what if those in power and position don't want people thinking for themselves? Whether they be liberals, conservatives, Republicans, congressmen, the president of the US, your church, etc....what if they don't want people who think for themselves, but instead want people who will do as they say and believe what they tell them without questioning it?

12) I'm an addict

  I discovered Outshine Bars a few years ago on vacation in the Outerbanks. They are frozen fruit bars that have real fruit juice in, and in the case of the first ones I tried - pineapple - they have chunks of pineapple in. My two favorites are pineapple and grape. I have been eating a lot of them during this quarantine. I am almost ashamed to admit I ate a whole 6 pack box of the grape one day this pasy week. They are sooo good. They taste like frozen grape juice. Yeah, I am addicted. :) I highly recommend them. There are other flavors, but the two I mentioned are the best. And a word of advice: skip the coconut. I like coconut, but it wasn't a good choice for these bars.

**I since also bought raspberry. I forgot how good they are. Some flavors are easier to find, and it is one that is not..so I hadn't had it for a while. I also recommend it :)

13) Light of the world

  In Matthew 5: 14-16, Jesus said this:

14 You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, 15 and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. 16 Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven. (CEV)

   Disclaimer: My Christian walk is extremely shaky, and is not one to emulate....so please don't think I am setting myself up as some kind of example to follow, or get the idea that I think I am perfect. I am not, and I don't think that. I really don't like anything about myself, including my spiritual walk...so no, I don't think I am better than anyone else.  OK, now that I got that out of the way:

   Are we being a light to the world? With all of our conspiracy theories, trashing politicians we don't like, going after people who don't support our politician, posting things that aren't true, being too political, too confrontational, etc. Seriously. Are we truly being a light to the world? Do Christians care enough about what the world is seeing...not just in the day to day being around neighbors and coworkers, but what we are like on social media? Are we being a good witness for Jesus, or just for our political views? What is more important to we American Christians: defending and/or attacking politicians and those who differ politically than us, or spreading the Gospel? What is more important: winning a political argument, or winning a soul for Jesus? What is more of a priority to us: winning someone to vote for our candidate, or winning that person to Jesus? If the latter is truly the case in those questions, then how is our social media presence affecting that and reflecting that?

   I'll be honest. Never have I been closer to walking away from God and the church and not looking back, then I have in the last 4 years. Yeah, I have fought back.....something I wish I had learned to do when I was being bullied in school....but I am far more vulnerable and more easily hurt than anyone would ever guess. It is another "perk" of being a guy dealing with same-sex attractions. I have also been guilty of watching people too much, and letting their spiritual walk and actions affect me too much. I won't give details of the who's and all that has been said, but I have been disgusted and disillusioned with this American version of Christianity that has in my opinion been poisoned and sidetracked by politics. My church is a holiness church, one that believes in sanctification. I have no use for that doctrine. I wasn't really believing in it for a long time, but these last few years have destroyed any lingering doubts I had about it. When it comes to politics, Christians are no different than the world, and holiness church people are no different than anyone else. (And no, not every person from my church has to my knowledge

 What does that mean for me? It means I am truly trying to back away from politics, but it is difficult. I have a lot of anger in me about it, and have explained in this and a previous post why that is the case. Having attempts to shut me up and down, and essentially being told my opinions don't matter and should not be shared has caused a lot of anger that I am not sure how to get rid of. Maybe I do need to un-follow everyone on social media who is political. I am so tired of the double standards, of Christians praising politicians more than Jesus, of people caring more about defending a politician than caring about how their words might make me feel.

 Christians in the past and today are being tortured for their faith. They have forgiven people for atrocities we haven't come close to witnessing....yet we can't handle people criticizing a politician or disagreeing with us politically. What pathetic excuses for Christians have we American Christians become.

 The day may come when Christians in America are faced with true persecution. We may face situations where we have to forgive what seems impossible to forgive. If we can't handle those who disagree with us politically, or handle our candidates being criticized, then how on earth will we handle true persecution?

  I got a card in the mail this week from someone who hasn't had an easy life for most of their life. It was just a card saying they knew I had been laid off, and wanted to know they cared and was praying for me. A very nice gesture. This same person sent me this message today:

Obviously I'll never be a never trumper but let me share what's frustrating to me... so many conservatives speak out against dr Levine but adore trump. I want you to know that I am not in agreement...I still support trump in spite of his flaws (he has many) simply because he is the best of the choices... and has done positive things for our country... but im aghast at the hypocrisy right now. Please know we're not all like that. (Saw the crap you got today on Facebook)

 This is a person I admire. They have come far, and the card and the message meant a lot to me. Maybe I need to be more like her.....though I will never, ever support Trump - I don't mean that.

  Maybe forgiveness is the key. I have always had a difficult time forgiving, even myself. Dumb things I have done and said often play over and over like a record skipping (those were before CDs). And forgiveness needs to be on all sides. I have seen and heard enough to know that even though I am guilty of no offense by voting third party, there are a lot of Christians who need to forgive people for not voting the way they wanted us to. Good grief...their guy won anyway, so why hold a grudge?!

 I honestly believe the best thing for the church and for Christians spiritually speaking, would be to be under Democrat rule and lose our freedoms. Do I want that? No way! But our modern Christianity is too weak, too influenced by the world, politics, and other things that we should be influencing instead of being influenced by. We have become salt that has lost its savor. We think God is involved and cares about our politics and who is president, while He is concerned about our hearts, and what we are doing for Him and for the Kingdom of Heaven. Can we honestly believe He is pleased with what He sees?

  I want a relationship with God that is not weakened or affected by things like politics. I want to love people and be their friend no matter what their political views are.