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

Friday, May 29, 2020

Be a Barnabas....or an Avis

  There are people in the Bible we know a lot about, and some who take up a lot of space in the Bible. There are also some who are rather obscure, such as Barnabas. I looked up him on Biblegateway.com, and was surprised to find he is actually mentioned 39 times in the Bible, and all in the book of Acts. I also discovered that there is also more information on him than I remembered, and that is because Barnabas is remembered for one specific thing. Did you know that Barnabas wasn't his real name? His real name was Joseph, but he was nicknamed "Barnabas", which means one who encourages, or son of encouragement.

  So when I say to be a Barnabas, anyone who knows their Bible very well is going to know what I mean. And what a cool thing to be known for. "Hey, there's that guy who is always encouraging people." What would our name mean? What if I said be a John, Mark, Donald, Joe, Martha, Cindy......

  I doubt there are many people who are so encouraging that when their name is mentioned, people think of that trait. There is a lady who does come to mind for me. Avis Blowers. She is a Facebook friend who I have met. I was at their house a few years ago for supper, and man is she a good cook. And I have an open invitation to go back. Avis is married to Marvin, brother to my former pastor, David Blowers.

 Social media is an awesome thing, yet isn't used for good by so many......even Christians. It has been so nice to have had it during this quarantine time, but so many people are negative. Social media has been full of doom and gloom about the virus, and now it is flooded with people's reactions about the guy's death in Minneapolis and about the looting by so many criminals. Why do so many Christians feel the need to spread bad news and negativity?

 Back to Avis. Her Facebook page is full of encouragement and positive things. She never gets political, except a few months ago when she took Trump to task for his saying he is full of un-matchless wisdom. She even had a page just for that kind of stuff (positive, not political), but it got shut down for reasons no one knows.  Here is a little glimpse into her recent posts:

1) Post about God's unlimited resources and benevolence, with a gorgeous picture
2) a picture of a sunset
3) a Max Lucado quote about pride and humility
4) A nice quote by Harriet Beecher Stowe about God being near

  I could go on. Post after post by this gracious lady. But go to the average Christian's post, and there are posts condemning politicians we don't like, rants about cops and/or racism, corona stuff, and more.

 If Barabas were alive and had social media, I believe his posts would look a lot like Avis' posts. positive, encouraging.

 And I am not saying we shouldn't address other things, but if the majority of our posts are political and about negative things, aren't we rather pathetic Christians?

 We all need encouragement. I am a single guy who is lonely a lot, has depression, struggles with the very difficult issue of same-sex attraction....discouragement is my home, not just a place I visit. But I am not an exception to the rule...everyone gets discouraged at times. I bet even Barabas got discouraged, but he still encouraged people.

 What if we all tried to be more encouraging? What if we used social media for good, instead of pushing our politics or giving our opinion on the latest horrible news story? What if most of our Facebook posts were positive, and people could look at them and they would resemble Avis' posts, or what Barabas would post?

  A few weeks ago, a long time friend of mine sent me a card, saying she knows how hard it is for me to be off work and alone. Now I am not hinting for people to send me cards, but that was a very nice thing to do. (Thanks Christy!) But what if we all did things like that year around? It doesn't cost anything to encourage someone, and if we want to do something tangible, it doesn't have to cost much. A favorite candy bar or snack with a card would make anyone's day.

 I used to speak occasionally in church to the youth, though others would be in the service too. Back in November 2004, I spoke on encouragement. The notes are saved on my pc, and that is the date....believe me, my memory is not that good. I was actually surprised that I still had them. I am going to put some of them below, as I have ideas on how to encourage and who to encourage. Don't be a negative Nelly or political Paul. Be a Barabas or Avis. Be an encourager.

My notes:

The story is told that one day Satan was selling off some of his tools. All sizes and prices were available. There was one small tool that had an extremely high price on it. When asked why the high price for such a small tool, his reply was that it was his most often used, and most effective tool - the tool of discouragement.

   Of course there never was such a sale, but discouragement is one of the devil’s best tools. It seems if he can get a Christian discouraged, they become ineffective, and for a lot of Christians who give up and stumble, it is all started by discouragement.

The charismatic churches emphasize spiritual gifts a lot, but they are Biblical, and I think some people have the gift of encouragement, and even if you don’t, everyone needs to practice it some.

Who to encourage:

A. Yourself
The first person you need to encourage is yourself - not a selfish thing- if you are discouraged, you cannot help others.

1. Prayer: It should be our first action and resource when we are discouraged and down about something

2. Bible - it helps to have favorite scriptures that mean a lot to turn to when you are discouraged - Jeremiah 29:10-12

Also, a Promise book of scriptures by topic is a great idea to keep on hand, and also a good devotional (Joni Earaekson Tada).

3. Church-regular church attendance to all services is a great help to stay encouraged- plus being around people who believe like you helps a lot - (Bush rally)

4. Thanksgiving & Praise-it is pretty hard to stay discouraged and in the dumps if you start thanking God for all the good things in your life, and praising Him for all His goodness - Praise His Name

5. Music-sometimes popping in a good CD helps a lot. Some songs just seem to encourage you more - Southern Gospel - songs that make you tap your foot

6. Do something nice for someone else-it is amazing how doing something for someone else can make you feel better - which brings us to the next point - invite someone to your house

B. Encouraging Others

1.Pray for them - sometimes tell them you are. Especially if someone is going through a hard time and you know it

2. Call, text,  or email, or send a card -it is amazing what a phone call or email can do for someone (card from Paul)

3. Feed them - having someone over to chat and/or to eat can do wonders

4. Compliment people and tell them you appreciate them - so many people are letting down in areas, let those who are staying true know you appreciate it

5) Give them a small gift of a candy bar, snack, gift card, etc.

6. Live a life that encourages others:-attend church,live right, smile a lot, etc.

C.Encourage your pastor:-no pastor is perfect, but there is always something to do to make him feel good

1. Attend  services 

2. Compliment him on messages - especially if one really helped you or stood out to you

3. Have the pastor and family over to eat. Or take them out to eat if you can't cook.

4. Drop him a card, or even a small gift - especially on Pastor Appreciation Day

5. Offer to help out wherever needed - and if asked to do a task, do it cheerfully

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Quarantine edition, #2

 Am I the only one losing track of time? Half the time I struggle to know what day it is, and what day something happened. There are two Mennonite stores near me, and the one closest to where I used to live makes fry pies every Thursday and Friday. (If you have never had one, you are missing out.) In my experience, if you go too early, they are still making them and the flavors are limited. Last week, I went to Salem, OH - about a 30 minute trip from where I live now. I got to the store close to 11, but figured I'd stop on my way back through to grab a couple of the fry pies. So on my way back, I pulled in, parked, walked in and back to the bakery counter. The case where they put them was empty, and the ladies were working on other baked goods. Then it hit me. It was not Thursday, but Wednesday. Thankfully, I didn't ask for them.


  There is a lot of controversy, and pardon my blunt word - crap - about masks. Long before COVID-19 came along, I read and heard many people say the common masks people wear at flu season aren't any good against the flu. To be any good or help, the mask has to be snug...and they aren't. Back in March, the Surgeon General said wearing masks were worse for you, as people tend to touch their faces more when wearing them. And a lot of people also said they don't help.

 Yet there are people insisting we should wear them, that we are selfish and don't care about people if we don't wear them.  You can't enter a business in PA without one on, so I am avoiding PA at the moment. It could happen in Ohio too, but I hope not. Some businesses are requiring one. My mom was going to go in the Rite Aid in her town, but they had a sign up saying you had to have a mask on to go in. She didn't have one, so she left.

Here are my thoughts on masks:

1) They don't help
2) It is a violation of my freedoms to force me to wear one
3) If people want to wear one, then fine...but don't judge me for not wearing one
4) It is selfish of mask wearers to expect everyone else to also wear one
5) In regards to the argument that it would make others feel better if I wore one.....there is a lot of things that would make me feel better if people did or didn't do...but that is freedom
6) In regards to the argument that I should wear a mask because I could have the virus and don't know it...are those people going to take chemo in case they have cancer and don't know it?
7) Yes, businesses have the right to require a mask for entry, but I also have the right to think it is stupid and to not shop there til that changes.
8) I am not going to wear one because of someone else's fears.

(And yeah, I know the pictured mask isn't the right kind...but I like the Green Arrow, and I am tempted to wear that kind of mask :) ) After all, they don't say what kind of mask.......


 I was originally laid off for 3 weeks, and that 3 weeks has come and gone. This is my 7th week off, and it looks like I may go back next week. I asked off for my birthday on the 26th...I didn't know I was going to get 6 weeks off before it and the week of it off.

 It will be hard to go back to work. When I am not working the next day, I stay up til at least midnight...sometimes 1-2. I actually was reading in bed til 4 the other night (or day?) - and then I sleep in til around 9 usually. And I have been living in t-shirts, shorts, and no shoes in the house. I'll have to go back to getting up early to work at 6:30 am and dressing in dress pants, dress shirt, tie, blazer.....and of course socks and shoes.

 There are a lot of people I miss at work though.


 One of the things that frustrate me, is the people acting like churches are being singled out and shut down...ignoring the fact that a lot of places have been shut down. Now I am at the point that I am seriously wondering if this is all necessary, and thinking they may be dragging it out too long and that there is definitely too much government overreach. But I don't know if it is still necessary. I do know this is not an attack on Christianity or the church. As a friend of mine said, too many Christians try to make everything into persecution.

 And granted, there have been a few instances where it seems some are singling out churches.

 I actually like church on line. I can stay in my sweat pants and t-shirt -  or whatever I am wearing, I can snack, go get a drink, and wonder around my place since I have speakers in every room on the main floor and one upstairs :)

 And I can mute it if I want :)

I am glad we are starting to open things back up. And part of me still wonders if this has all been necessary.

My church is opening back up this coming Sunday with several safety measures in place. And I'll be there....happy no one can shake hands :)

 And of course there are people condemning churches for opening.......but if not now, when? And there have been people in the past and present who face jail, torture, death - even being thrown to the lions - if they care caught meeting together for church. Should we continue cowering from a virus that may not be as bad as we have been told?

 The church I attend is making it so people can still sit in their car and listen if they want.

 And we always live stream. Which you can watch in shorts, t-shirt, and no shoes......

The economy

  I have seen a lot of posts slamming people for daring to be concerned about the economy. One person even did a post saying something to the effect that if you are not truly pro-life if you are putting the economy over people.

  Here is the thing though: If the economy gets bad enough, people are going to be losing their homes, their livelihoods. There could be looting and people being killed for food and money. The worst case scenario is we could lose more lives that way than through a virus. If we go too long, we may end up living in a dystopian society.

 One has to wonder how long we can go on the way we have been living before it hurts us in ways as bad as getting the virus would be.

The medical heroes

 A disclaimer: I work at a hospital, and know and interact with a lot of nurses, doctors, PCAs, doctors, x-ray techs, etc. I count some of them as friends. Some are extremely friendly and nice, and others act like everyone else is scum. Daily, they are around sick people. They have patients who have the flu, HIV, and all sorts of diseases.

 Since the virus hit, they are getting a lot of accolades and hero status. I even saw people saying their college debt should be forgiven since they are on the front lines.

  But guess what: They signed up to do what they are doing: helping sick people. And they get paid a lot of money for doing it. I am not going to question their motives for their job choice...but they are doing what they trained for and are getting paid for. They should NOT have college debts forgiven for doing their jobs. Are they at more risk right now? Yes....and so are the grocery store clerks and workers who are working around people who could have the virus. I am thankful for what the medical field does on a daily basis, not just when we have a pandemic. Be thankful for them, applaud them....but don't forget they are not the only ones on the front line, and they are doing what they signed up for.


 There is some anger because of people making more at home than the ones who are working. It does seem off, but I don't know how I'd pay all of my bills and have money to live on without the extra.

Double standards in politics

 It has been obvious for years that the Democratic Party has double standards. Trump has shown how the Republican Party is just as bad, or worse.

 Two examples:

Morality: Trump supporters defend/excuse/ignore Trump's horrible record when it comes to women, but love to point out Biden being too touchy feely. Trump Jr even called him a pedophile, which seems a bit much...but then Trump compared Ben Carson to a child molester....the Trump family fights dirty, like the liberals they are.

Demeaning...A lot of people are on Biden about what he said about blacks who don't vote for him, and are saying it was demeaning....yet it was very demeaning of Trump to call conservatives who oppose him "human scum"...and they ignored that. I am disgusted with both parties and both candidates who don't seem very different from each other.

Getting back to normal

  To be honest, this quarantine hasn't affected me as much as it has some. Yes, I have been off work 7 weeks, haven't been able to thrift store shop, eat in restaurants, and have had a hard time finding some things early on...but I haven't stayed home, and I never hang out with anyone other than my family anyway, so I didn't miss out on social interaction as many have.

  Last Monday, I went with one of my sisters and two of my nieces to Akron. There are a couple of thrift stores over there we like to go to. It was awesome to shop there again. My best friend said I probably felt like a crack addict who just got out of jail and had access to crack again.

 Last Thursday, Ohio restaurants were allowed to serve dine in again, and I took advantage of it, meeting two of my nieces at a place new to me in Boardman, OH. Friday, I took all 3 nephews and one niece out to eat, I ate out Monday for breakfast, and took my three nieces out for Mexican on Tuesday....my birthday. It truly is nice to do those things again. Restaurants are pretty slow, most likely to a lot of people being afraid to go out.

My car is now truly mine

 I put my stimulus check into savings along with a lot of the extra cash I get from unemployment. I used that to pay my car off this week, two years early. I am pretty happy about it. I waited til I accumulated some extra so I wouldn't drain my savings completely. If I figured right, I saved around $300 by paying it off so early. I bought the car 3 years ago in June and did a 5 year loan, with $3000 down. Now hopefully I can keep car payment free for a few years.

George Floyd

 There is a lot of outrage about the black man who died while being arrested. It IS sad, but why must everyone on Facebook post about it and their outrage?

A few points:
Every day there is someone murdered and there are tons of injustice

There is as much, if not more, racism hate, and crimes against whites by blacks than vice versa, but they get ignored

Daily, babies are murdered in the womb, ripped apart...and most of the same people outraged about Floyd, don't seem to care about that.

 So why when there is something involving white on black does everyone get outraged and flood Facebook?

 I believe, largely due to Obama, there is still a lot of hate and racism aimed towards white people.

  I'm not racist. I don't have any black friends, but then I really don't have any white ones either. If I were to live the gay lifestyle, I'd be as likely to date a black guy as white, because I am attracted to a lot of black guys I see. If I voted - which I don't anymore - the color of a candidate's skin would not influence my vote at all. I was against Obama because he was a horrible candidate with horrible policies......and I don't vote for corrupt liberals. That is why I didn't vote for Hillary or Trump either.

 I am just tired of everyone making it all about racism by blacks and bad actions by cops towards blacks. There is racism and hate on all sides......and Planned Parenthood - still funded by Trump - was founded to thin down the black population, and more black babies are killed than white...where is the outrage about THAT? And black people by the millions support and vote the party that loves to murder their babies.

 And there is always a rush to judgment. The white guy or cop is always, always wrong... but the truth has come out differently on some cases, but no one cares. Everyone becomes an armchair judge and jury. And people seem to love it when there is a white on black crime they can point out and say how racist America still is. It is like gasoline on fire.

 If the cops were truly in the wrong, then try and jail them.


 It bothers me how apathetic we are about the daily murder of babies in the womb. Our tax dollars are going to help butchers go inside the womb and rip a part innocent babies. Maybe if it showed the "doctor" kneeling on the babies' necks as they killed them and we could hear the babies screams people might care more. I wish we all - me included - could grasp the true horror and atrocity of it. At times I think about it, and wonder how on earth it was ever legalized.... and why so many people are so determined it stays legal. What on earth were the heartless people on that Supreme Court thinking?

 We live in a world where people care more about the treatment of animals than babies. If a guy killed a puppy, there would be outrage. Kill a baby in the womb, and you are a hero to Democrats and too many Republicans just look the other way.

Want to make America great again? End the murder of innocent babies. Oh, and vote conservative again.

May 26th

  May 26th was my birthday. Birthdays kind of depress me anymore. I still wish I had been able to have a family - at least kids - but that has always been impossible, and the older I get the bigger void I feel because of that. And it isn't easy being a single guy my age. I really have no one other than my family.....and by best friend, but he is 400 + miles away.

 My middle niece was born the day after my birthday, so my family always gets together to celebrate both birthdays. We did that Monday and had a cookout. I got a few books I wanted, a gift card to Amazon, and my one sister and her family gave me a gift bag of different items: A foldable cutting board, which is cool - I thought it was a dust pan at first, and some other things including some cool napkins, pictured above. They combine my love for the beach with my love of classic/antique cars. I like them so much that I hate to use them.


  I have done a lot of shopping on line while this quarantine has been going on, more than normal. I even got Amazon Prime, something I didn't think I would ever do. Unfortunately, the day I got it so I could get my order faster, it turned out the order wasn't being shipped by Amazon. It is coming by mule from Timbuktu. It shipped May 15th, and has an estimated arrival date of June 29-July 24. You.Have.Got.To.Be.Kidding.

 To offset Prime, I ended Netflix......it didn't have much on there that interested me anyway, and there is as much to watch on Prime.

 I did buy a couple of items to help with bathroom space. My bathroom is very small. This duplex was once one house, and I think they just split the bathroom in half to make two. It is the same width as my bedroom closet, and is 21 inches longer. From wall to wall - including the shower- it is 56 inches. The space between the shower and wall is about 24 inches, and the doorway is too small for a normal sized door.

It was difficult finding things to fit in the bathroom for towels and other items. Where they need to be, things can't stick out past 8-9 inches, or there's not enough room between the sink and toilet and the furniture. I have a tall white cupboard that works for washcloths, TP, and other items, and was using a 3-shelf bookcase for towels. Problem: it stuck over past the towel bar, so I had to fold towels in half to hang.

 I found a towel holder on Amazon that is 7 inches by 11. I bought two, thinking of putting them side by side, and that would take care of the towel bar issue.....but they stuck out too far. So I put one in that space turned sideways, so the open side faces the door, and put the other in the hallway by the hamper. It works. And I got $10 off my order for trying Amazon photos. Win-win. It does work best if the towels are rolled, which I knew by the pictures on Amazon.

 My bed also got a change: a new quilt. The shams are on backorder, and I just ordered a navy bed-skirt. I found the quilt on Collections, Etc for $25, shams $4.99 each.

The quarantine

  At this point, I personally believe a lot of what has been done was overkill. Why close thrift stores, but not Walmart. Why force masks that don't likely help. I still believe we should be cautious, but stop living in fear and go out and live.

 And people need to stop arguing and trying to turn people in for not keeping social distancing, etc. No one truly knows anything. The powers that be are clueless, and even medical "experts" keep changing their minds. So sanitize, wear a mask if that makes you feel safer, stay 6 feet away from people.....but stop living in fear, and stop condemning others for not doing everything you think they should do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Fear not

  I have never counted, but I am told that there are 365 references in the Bible saying not to fear. One for every day of the year, except the year 2020....and any other leap year. Wonder why God didn't toss one extra one in for leap year...

 The last four years have been interesting. This is not a political post, but I will say since I didn't go with the status quo in 2016, it has given me a different perspective. I watch a lot, and have seen so much from Christians (including myself) that has made me realize how weak we Christians are in areas, and how there are so many things the Bible says that we tend to disregard, ignore, twist, or toss out when it is convenient.

 Fear is one of those areas. Does anyone else notice how afraid Christians are? I am convinced the main reason Donald Trump is president is fear. Christians in the Republican party were so afraid of Hillary, they picked the guy who was the most liberal and was the worst fin the principles, morals, and values that had always directed our voting. He fought hard and dirty, and he got picked because so many figured he was the best bet against Hillary.

 Post after post on social media reeks of fear:

Corona virus
People not wearing masks
Going down the wrong aisle at Walmart
Bill Gates
The mark of the beast
Being chipped
Deep state
Conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory
The Democrats
The Republicans
Running out of TP
Democrats stealing the election through mail in ballots
The economy
The virus hurting Trump's re-election (eye roll)
Unemployment running out
Social security running out
Hand sanitizer running out
Running out of money
Our job closing
Running out of tacos

  You name it, there are people afraid, and it affects what they post on social media. Positive posts are rare from so many. But posts warning about this or that are rampant. One could make the deduction that many Christians don't truly trust in God. Every election, fear mongering is more popular than tacos. Politicians use fear. Talk radio hosts use fear. It is used to manipulate people.

   I have fears. I am scared to death of snakes. I fear dying in my apartment, and no one knowing for a few days or missing me. For too much of my life I lived in constant fear that people would find out that I was attracted to males instead of females. Now, I admit it as freely as the fact I am wearing one of my favorite t-shirts I bought last year at the Outer Banks. People found out, I announced it on this blog, and I'll tell people if it comes up. And to my knowledge, it hasn't had an effect on my life. No one hung out with me before, so I can't see a difference. I got more blow-back for being anti-Trump. True story.

  And that is the thing. So many things we worry about and fear never happen. The chances of me being bit by a poisonous snake are very slim, especially living where I live and not going where they are prevalent. Caution needs to be used during this pandemic, but if one is careful and takes preventive measures, your chances are pretty good at not getting it. Sure....you could, but should we live in constant fear of it.......or of anything?

 No, I don't trust our government. Four more years of Trump or 4 years of Biden is something that worries me....but who do we really believe is in control? When we go to the voting booth, are we going in fear that the evil Democrats will win and will destroy America? Or do we go trusting that God has it under control no matter who wins.

 Fear influences our actions, and everything in our lives. I was watching something last night that led to my blogging about fear. A spirit of fear had invaded a town. People feared a group of people who were different than them. Some were hunting down teenagers and killing them out of fear. At one point, a handful of these teens were hiding in the police department, and the building was surrounded by people with all kinds of guns wanting to kill who they feared.

 That may be a drastic example of what fear can do, but it can control us. It affects our actions and reactions. It directs what we post on social media, and how we act towards those who hold a different viewpoint on what we fear.

 Maybe I am judging, but it sure seems like too many Christians are living in constant fear, and are not trusting God enough.....or at all. If it is judging, then I am judging myself too.

 But if Christians are not living in fear, then won't our lives reflect it? Won't it influence what we post on social media.......and what we don't post? A Christian's outlook should be different from non-Christians if they are not living in fear, but are living a life of trusting that God has it all under His control.

 Daily we can find a different and new reminder in God's Word to not fear. It isn't a suggestion. There are no exceptions. Fear not.