Archive for the Rant Category

Trump is not savior

I used to read Charisma News regularly. But then I stopped because there was just too much prosperity teaching and imminent end-times prophecy, that I decided it wasn’t worth weeding through all the false teaching for the few good articles. I am not a cessasionist, though I was raised to be one, so it’s not the charismatic gifts that put me off.

What happened is that I couldn’t let a political discussion go by on Facebook without adding my 2 cents. They are good friends, so I tried not to be a jerk, because I love and respect them. We just disagree. That said, the following article came into the conversation as part of the justification to vote for Trump. I have found no argument for Trump, Christian or secular, that remotely convinces me he would be a good choice. I did not want to vote for either of the previous 2 Republican candidates for president, but I held my nose each time to vote Republican rather than the Libertarian candidate even though my values are more in line with Libertarian than Republican.

Anyway, I disagreed with almost every single point Dr. Garlow makes in the following article, and because I can’t just let it go, I decided to respond to each of his points. The title told me it would me another fear-based argument.

If You’re On the Fence About Your Vote, This Pastor Clarifies How the Very Future of America Is At Stake

1. I can’t necessarily speak to this one. I’ve read neither platform. I have read the Libertarian platform, and it is more in line with my principles. I’ve never been liberal enough to be a Democrat, though from 1988 until 2004 (when I became an NC resident) I was a registered Democrat in Arkansas. The Republican party tarnished itself in my eyes with it’s treatment of Bill Clinton (of whom I am not at fan) over the Lewinski affair. Pun intended. I considered myself a right-wing pundit when I first started blogging in late 2004, and up until late 2008, was a staunchly conservative who fit right into Donald Trump’s base. It was in 2008 when I started going to church again for the first time in 19 years that led to a fresh encounter with the risen Jesus, and I have not been the same since. That’s when I really started hearing the right, and rejecting the fear-monging and hate. When I was a high school senior, I was chatting with one of my teachers, and I asked her if she was a Democrat or Republican. She told me, “I vote for candidates, not political parties.” Mrs. Lynch made no effort to hide her strong Christian roots and her absolute trust and love for Christ. She was smart, and kind, and I have loved and respected her for many years. She also knows first hand about persecution, because she is a black lady who grew up during Jim Crow.

2. Everybody is flawed. But the “Trump-type” is just the flip side of the “Hillary-type.” They are both liars. They are both on the far ends of the political spectrum. They have equally bad character, and the fact that Trump is so open with it makes it blatently obvious that he is not fit to represent our country as a leader.

3. This is flat out false. His blatent rude, crude, hateful behavior and speech show that he has neither character, temperment, nor demeaner befitting a leader. He is a bully who made himself a caricature of the far right with all of it’s fear-mongering, and sold it to a constituency who has been fed false fear for decades.

4. This in no way excuses Trump’s behavior. The Clintons are not worse than him. He has his own scandalous past and he is completely unrepentent. At least Bill Clinton apologized over the Lewinsky affair. Not that anyone on the right accepted it. Hillary has the emails, Benghazi, and Whitewater. Nixon had the missing 15 minutes of recordings, Reagan had Iran-Contra, George W. Bush had deleted emails. Congress held multiple hearings on Benghazi and could not find evidence of willful wrongdoing. And for all his aggressive investigation, Ken Starr could not find enough evidence to bring any charges on Whitewater. He bribed an Attorney General. Meanwhile, Trump refuses to release his tax returns while pointing to the Clinton Foundation. What’s he hiding? He’s awful friendly with Russia…

5. Trump is not being surrounded with good people. He is surrounding himself with white nationalists, and fear-mongers.

6. Trump is wrong on most issues. Hillary is not wrong about everything. This is standard right-wing propaganda that conservatives alone know the truth and the liberals are evil and wrong. It is a lie and it is this polarization of us vs them that is the biggest problem right now in our nation.

7. More fear-mongering. Trade and partnership among nations is not evil in and of itself. “Principalities and powers” is not referring to humanity, but is referring to demons and spiritual warfare. “For we do not war against flesh and blood…” He conveniently left that part of the verse out.

8. He has the right to be wrong also. Christians absolutely should vote their conscious. And if that means not voting because they can’t in good conscious vote for any candidate, who are we to judge? I beleive Paul had something to say about Christian conscious/liberty, and it wasn’t about someone with “stronger” faith coercing someone with a “weaker” faith.

9. This is flat out bullying and a LIE. A 3rd party vote is a vote for a 3rd party candidate. Period.

10. Trump didn’t move pro-life. And being anit-abortion does not make someone pro-life. This is another matter where Trump is playing the right. And Trump’s overall rhetoric echo’s/parallels that of Nazi Germany. Roe v Wade is not going to be repealed. That fight is over from a legal standpoint. But we can stop shaming unmarried pregnant women by stop holding them solely responsible for their pregnacy. Stop calling them whores. Treat them with the dignity that we would want shown to us if it were us in that position. Most women who go for abortions feel they have no other choice because of the way they are shamed – most often by Christians. Support pregnancy centers. Support adoptions. This will do more to drop the abortion rate (which actually has dropped during the Obama administration) than name-calling and fear-mongering. As for the talk of “giving an account,” either the blood of Christ is sufficient to cover every sin, or we have a works-based salvation. And if it is works-based, we are all doomed.

11. This is just a load of crap. Trump supports torture and killing of innocents.

12. Given our history of human trafficking and enslavement of Africans during our early history, further treatment of black people as “less than” (even to this day) since the Civil War, the forced relocation of the indiginous peoples of North American (which amounted to genocide), along with breaking every single treaty made with the Native American peoples, I think we have never really been the pillar of morality as a nation. We are no worse now than we ever were. As the proverb states, there is nothing new under the sun. This is a whitewashed narrative of our nation’s history, and I emphasize “white.” Our nation is just another Gentile nation with no special significance over other Gentile nations. We’ve always been temporary. I grew up with plenty of end-times teaching, and so I know that the United States is not mentioned among the nations who will be players in the end times. Oh, and we have been in the end times since Jesus ascended. The writers of the New Testament refer to their time as the endtimes. No one knows the day nor hour. And NO party or candidate is going to hasten or delay the day and time that God has already set.

13. The Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats with regards to government spending, and Trump has filed bankruptcy 4 times. He clearly is not financially responsible.

14. Cronyism is not just a problem with Democrats. And Trump isn’t going to have that kind of power to stop it particularly when he is surrounded by his own cronies. He is a rich kid who inherited his money, profited off of gambling and objectifying women, and is known for not paying his contractors.

15. Doubtful. Wait, is this guy claiming to be a prophet? Because isn’t this said of every Republican? And Republicans are just as guilty.

16. We have not lost any religious liberty. What we are losing is religious privilege and we NEED to lose that because we shouldn’t be expecting – and certainly not demanding – special treatment. This is not what Jesus taught.

17. This is again, complete bull. The right complains about the left legislating from the bench, but wants to put conservatives on the bench to do the very same thing. It’s hypocritical, and just more fear-mongering.

18. We honor Christ by voting as the Holy Spirit leads us. Any Christian leader telling us we need to vote for a certain candidate or party or “suffer dire consequences” is engaging in spritual abuse. It is controlling behavior, which is a character defect I have making me able to easily spot it. (“If you spot it, you probably got it.”) Jesus called us to lead by being servants, not tyrants. The Gospel is good news, and love drives out fear. When we base our vote choice on self-preservation (whether individual preservation or tribe), we are not only acting contrary to the Gospel, but we are acting contrary to the spirit of American freedom which is to work for the common good of ALL people – not just those who look like, act like, and agree with us.

1 John 4:18 New International Version (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

The Conservative Christian’s Prosperity Gospel

As Christians who believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, why then, as many times as God tells his people, “Fear not,” do we spend so much time worrying and hand-wringing over things we cannot control?

I often think that the calls by some pastors for a national repentance and revival are borne out of fear of losing American entitlement more than concern for the individuals in our nation. I am not saying they don’t care about people, but that they care more for our prosperous way of life. They fear suffering as much as their congregations do, and rather than repeating God’s word to “Fear not,” they stoke fear.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross for the United States of America.

There is a reason that the United States is not mentioned in the Bible.

We ain’t all that.

We have been undeservedly blessed with prosperity. Undeserved because we were not founded on Judeo-Christian values as touted by 20th century revisionists. We are no more sinful as a nation now than we were when our country was founded.

We were founded on the principle that only white men of European ancestry had value. Women had no vote. Male African slaves were worth 3/5 that of a white man. The indigenous people living in North America had no value, and were systematically rounded up, forced to relocate, and often slaughtered so that there is now just a small remnant of a few tribes left.

And we have the gall to think we are entitled to our way of life.

We have spent our prosperity on our own comfort, and above all we do not want to be uncomfortable. Discomfort is too much like suffering, and lord knows we do not deserve to suffer. We are to be healthy and blessed. It’s the sinners who are to suffer: the addicts, the alcoholics, the fornicators, the homosexuals, the abortionists, the feminists, the atheists, and certainly without doubt the Muslims. Not us. We made a decision to follow Christ and now God owes us health, wealth, prosperity, and security because we are not like those people.

We have followed a false American god for too long. We as Christians need to repent every bit as much as sinners. But not for our prosperity. No. So that we can once again be salt and light in the world and do good to others. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and take care of widows and orphans. We are saints because Jesus declared us to be saints. Not because we were or are good enough to be a saint. We did not and do not deserve the grace we have been given. And rather than worrying and stewing about ISIS and Democrats/Republicans, we should give to others out of the abundance we have been given.

Because that is what the Savior we call Lord told us to do.

Without fear.

Without worry.

Without judgement.

With love.

Because He first loved us.

If what you are preaching and proclaiming sounds is indistinguishable from the messages proclaimed in a political debate or rally, you are not being salt and light in the world. Our hope does not rest in a political solution. Our hope is in Jesus Christ and Him alone. Not in “old fashioned,” “traditional,” or “conservative” Christianity. Not in “progressive” or “modern” Christianity. Not in the President of the United States, the Republican party, the Democrat Party, Congress, or the Supreme court. Not in laws or guns or gun control or a Confederate battle flag.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:18-21 ESV)

How did you learn respect

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I’ve always bucked against authority, but not necessarily for the sake of being a rebel. I’ve been repeatedly labeled an instigator, and I do not (because I cannot) deny it. I’ve even been called a honey badger. Honey badger don’t care. She does what she wants! Of course, she often gets “stung” by the cobra and then has to take a nap.

As much as I bucked against and resent(ed) my strict, legalistic religious upbringing, it kept me out of so much trouble I could have gotten in given all the vices I flirted with. I absolutely do not recommend legalism to combat vice because if it really worked, I might not have flirted.

Because I was under such strict authority, I developed an unhealthy fear of authority figures. Compliance was almost always out of fear rather than respect, at least initially. As I got older I learned to distinguish between dictatorial authority and leader/teacher/mentor authority, but I had a big learning curve.

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I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook that state they learned respect by getting good ass whippings as a kid. I know they are just resharing a meme, and I can’t speak for anyone else’s raising. But I know for a fact that I did not learn respect of any kind from any whipping I got as a kid. I learned from those whippings to fear punishment when I do wrong from those giving me the whipping, and nothing more.

I want to note, I am not anti-corporate punishment. I can’t say it’s never necessary, and I also cannot say that it was always given to me inappropriately. It was the berating from my dad that accompanied the whippings that did the greatest damage. Therefore, any spanking/paddling from anyone else was taken in the same manner – as punishment for not being smart enough to be good enough.

Therein lies a big problem when we try to project a meme as a cure-all when we don’t know any backstory. For all the discipline and instruction to respect elders and authority, I still carried around an unhealthy and disrespectful view of authority just waiting to spew out. A1C Nemec still gave a 2Lt the stink eye and a snotty answer over the way he asked her who gave the all clear after a simulated attack. SSgt Nemec was still openly and belligerently disrespectful to a Chief Petty Officer on multiple occasions.

Respect that is borne out of fear of punishment is not respect. It is self-preservation, and doesn’t place value on other people. Healthy respect places high value on another person regardless of that person’s position of authority.

We actually learn respect by watching others model what respect looks like. A quick glance through political posts on Facebook gives a clue as to where today’s children get their lack of respect from. “Democrats/Liberals are idiots!” “Republicans/Conservatives are stupid!” We disparage those with whom we disagree politically/ideologically/religiously and wonder why our kids are disrespectful.

I listened to my dad exalt himself above everyone my whole life and picked it right up and ran with it. It was my normal. I think this is the kind of attitude that fuels the perpetual outrage that manifests itself on Facebook through self-righteous political/religious posts demonizing, devaluing, and ultimately dehumanizing whatever group/culture/ideology/class/ethnicity/religion we disagree with. After all, we believe we have figured out what’s wrong with the world. “If only people would just listen to me…”

Most events are not clear-cut with a black-and-white clear cause and effect. People who hold different beliefs or belong to a different culture than you are not beneath you with nothing to teach you. We are all struggling with junk. When we have to tear someone else down in order to show our superiority, we are actually showing the ugliness of our own attitudes and beliefs. And that in no way exalts us above others except in our own minds.

It’s that lack of respect for other human beings that is what is wrong with our society today. And as long as we continue to perpetrate, the worse our society is going to get because where there is no respect, there is certainly no love.

So think about how you really learned respect and whether or nor you really show it.

If you liked this post or it resonated with you, would you please share it below?

Thank you!

But for the grace of God…

Dear fellow Christian,

You’re scared. I understand. Not being in control is very scary. And that is why you are afraid. You forget that God is in control. That He is sovereign over all. You grew up singing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Onward Christian Soldiers” and believe deep down that you deserve to enjoy the privilege of being an American. You are going to eat, drink, and be merry and no sinner is going to screw that up for you. You have been taught your whole life that the United States is a Christian nation highly favored by God unlike any other nation before it. You believe we are the modern day Israel.

The United States of America has never been the “My people who are called by My name.” That was only Israel. As I saw it in a blog comment not too long ago, “IS – RA – EL.” It is a covenantal name. God made no covenant with any other nation before or since, and that includes the U.S.
If you think that the current moral state in the U.S. is the worst this nation has ever been, clearly you don’t know the full history of our nation or you are just choosing to overlook it. You think homosexuality is the worst sin to take place here? If so, I have a fraction for you: 3/5.

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.” – From Article 1 Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

That remained in effect until the 14th Amendment passed by congress in 1866 and ratified in 1868. This stands in contrast to a particular line from the Declaration of Independence –

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

– which only applied if you were white. African slaves and indigenous Americans (American Indians, not European colonists) were not endowed with these rights. Human trafficking is not a Christian value. Breaking every single treaty ever made with the indigenous peoples, driving them from their lands, and slaughtering them is not a Christian value. Institutional racism, still to this day observable in many lily-white churches every Sunday, is not a Christian value.

We have played the Christian card to our benefit for centuries without suffering the suffering promised us by Jesus. We have lived a safe and prosperous existence which is neither promised nor deserved. Jesus told us to pick up our cross and follow him, not sit down and kick our feet up while expanding our waistlines.

If you are not willing to give up or lose everything – EVERY SINGLE THING – in this life then you are not really following Christ.

Are you so concerned with your personal comfort and your entitlement to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that you lack compassion for others who are created in God’s image just as you are?

Do you think you are better than Jesus who laid aside his divinity to live and suffer as a poor man and die for you when you hated him?

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)

There are many many people in this country who need to know the love of Christ and they aren’t getting it because they are treated as the enemy. And we as Christians pat ourselves on the back for telling them their place. Then we piss and moan and play the victim when they fight back. We have forgotten that but for the Grace of God, there go we. The Cross is offensive enough. There is no reason to heap on extra offensiveness just to stroke our own egos and make ourselves believe that we are any better. We aren’t. We never will be on our own. And we certainly can’t berate and bully other people into our image. God doesn’t do that. He gave up his Son to atone for our sins as well as theirs.

God doesn’t save and protect countries for the comfort of people. He saves and protects people for His glory. And not good people because before a holy God, there are no good people.

Luke 7:36-50 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Lucille 2 has left the building

You know what I haven’t done in a while? A list.

1. Instagram is so flaky via web. At least mine is. Likes I leave disappear. Comments I leave show up on different photos. Aggravating.

2. I wuss out so easily on a virtual run. As I was pushing my entire grocery budget full of groceries across the Walmart parking lot Saturday afternoon, I told Jamie that I would NOT be running outside in that wind. Then I texted Petra to say it would be 5 (4.97) elliptical miles. Then that didn’t even happen. Hindsight: I should tell Karyn and Molly before I have to run that I need to run. I listen to them better when exercise is involved.

3. Speaking of Petra, we went to La Dolce Vita Friday night because I wanted pizza. So after the waitress leaves after we gave her our orders Petra says to me, “Did you just wink at her?” I didn’t even realize I did it. There we have it. I’m a winker. Apparently. And I said “winker” not “wanker.”

4. I played with the C.O.R.E. Worship Team yesterday. As always it was fun, and this time I didn’t need my chord cheat except for one song. Bradford got us all together for a group shot after the last service (minus one):

The last service was extra fun (or funny) because I had a case of vertigo going on.

Vertigo

That’s how I felt. Like Lucille Two. I nearly fell over several times including in the bathroom.

5. This irritated me.

stickers-edited

I really dislike political and religious bumper stickers. Doesn’t matter what side either.

6. I’ve been really slack lately commenting on other people’s blogs. I’m still reading, I just can’t generally formulate anything more than “Hey, great post,” which just feels like commenting to get people to read my blog. Not that I have ever been above link whoring, but this just seems dirtier.

Does anyone know what Christmas is all about?

I didn’t quote Charlie Brown exactly. But it’s close enough. This post will also be a little all over the place. Possibly.

I got a case of the ass last night. Ok, it’s not really exclusive to last night as I usually have a case of the ass over something, but a lot of the time I can keep it in check so that once I calm down I realize it really isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Last night I didn’t keep my tongue in check, or rather I let my fingers fly since I was commenting on a comment on a blog post I’ve been following. I thought I had been mercifully spared from my rash verbal vomit since my comment didn’t show up. I had already commented without using my DragonLady pseudonym, but comment #2 was with “DragonLady” making me think the comment went into the spam hole where it should have stayed. :sigh: But it didn’t, and so if you care, here is the article: It’s Not Us Against Them

I have tried to stay out of the Duck Dynasty drama just like I stayed out of the Chick-Fil-A one. For the same reason, and because it all boils down to a bunch of posturing by both supporters and opposers of Dan Cathy and now Phil Robertson. So I will go ahead and lay my cards out on the table. I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A because of being gluten free and all I ever ate there was the breaded, deep-fried chicken on a bun that I can’t eat any more. I could also mention that their “chicken” is likely of the same low quality as McDonald’s. Oh, wait. I just did. I also have never watched Duck Dynasty nor do I plan to. Generally speaking, I don’t watch TV period, but especially not “reality” TV. Which, by the way, is not real. I will occasionally watch Ice Road Truckers and the similar one with the truckers on the “most dangerous roads” whatever that show is. But I only watch those if my husband has them on and I have nothing better to do. I will also go ahead and state that yes, I believe homosexual activity (same-sex sex) is a sin, just as fornication, adultery, bestiality, and pornography are. Sexual sin is sexual sin before God who gave humans the good gift of sex to be used within the context of marriage between one man and one woman for life as he created it to be. Full disclosure, I am a former fornicator who for many years before and after marriage was addicted to various forms of pornography for the sole purpose of self-gratification. The self-gratification amounted to adultery of the heart. So I am no stranger to the bondage or consequences (which were thankfully pretty light) of sexual sin, and absolutely will not act towards others with judgement and/or condemnation who have or are committing sexual sin because I understand the desire. I have never had to deal with same sex attraction, nor with any sexual attraction to any animal. I do, however, have many gay friends, and several gay family members. I also have had at least one family member who was guilty of bestiality. Therefore, I can’t sit back in my self-righteous ivory tower looking down on homosexuals as an abstract group. They are real people with real struggles who need a real Savior just like I do for the same reason, and not because of the specific way they sin, but because we all sin. This is what I was trying to explain to Chad the other night. The end of the discussion came when he asked if you could “pray away the gay.” I told him if it were just that simple then his dad and I could just pray away the alcoholism and drug addiction.

All that said, this isn’t a post about homosexuality. Nor is it a post where I pledge my support for Mr. Cathy and Mr. Robinson. There is much more at stake in the Kingdom of God than the American right to free speech. I will give my opinion that the reason American Christians are so fired up about losing their voice and influence in the American/Western culture has less to do with standing firm for Christ and much more to do with fear of having to actually suffer for Christ. You know, the way Jesus promised us as Christians that we would suffer with Him if we really follow Him. Because our feel-good materialistic American culture that is the product of 20th century consumerism wants the good life now, and doesn’t really want to give up anything in order to have everything in Christ. We want to have our cake and eat it too.

I think it is all about comfort, and oh, how well do I know the futility of searching for comfort. Comfort is an idol for me almost as high up as my idol of pride. I’ve sought it in books, TV, food, tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sex, church, family, my parents (Mom specifically), friendships, my husband, my kids, running, biking, gaming, pets, blogs, social media. The list goes on and on and on. But none of those things or the myriad of other things bring lasting comfort. Lasting comfort is only found in Jesus. Now that is real easy for me to say, but way hard for me to believe. I know all the trite phrases. I know all the cliches. The Landmark Missionary Baptist deacon’s daughter Reagan conservative has had all the head knowledge for as long as I can remember. It all seems to fall apart when the trials hit because I have trust issues because I have Daddy issues. So knowing and believing were not one and the same for me. Out of sync, if you will. There were a few times over the past year where I spent time in prayer confessing and repenting for not trusting the only One who can be trusted. Why didn’t I trust? Because all of my little gods have always ultimately disappointed me by not becoming the lasting peace and comfort I crave.

Pastor Nate preached about comfort in the light of the Christmas narrative. In the midst of the sermon when he went from Matthew 1 to 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 and explained how Jesus is our comfort because he has already experienced the suffering we do. He and He alone really does know how we feel. Ridicule, betrayal, rejection, death of loved ones, loneliness. But he never really was alone. Not even on the cross. And a light bulb came on for me.

For he has not despised or abhorred

the affliction of the afflicted,

and he has not hidden his face from him,

but has heard, when he cried to him. (Psalm 22:24, ESV)

Sunday night, before I could forget, I wrote down some notes on what I managed to piece together (so far) about how Jesus is my comforter.

When Jesus was on the cross quoting Psalm 22, he hadn’t been forsaken by God the Father. The Father was still there, it just didn’t feel like it. Just like when we are so overcome in our trials and cannot feel God’s presence and wonder if he really is there. But He was there for Jesus and he is there for us because of Jesus. And Jesus really does know how we feel.

There was a brief moment of peace, and the comfort remains. My life circumstances are still as they were, there are still issues unresolved, but I can rest knowing and believing they will one day be resolved, and the broken will be fixed. Even me. Unearned favor. Amazing grace.

So what is Christmas all about? Christmas was the beginning of the end. Immanuel, God with us, the Creator came and lived among the created as one of us. Fully human and fully divine. Laying aside the riches and the power and the glory and honor that He rightfully owns and deserves to become the spotless sacrificial lamb of atonement. Born into poverty in a stable. His family having to flee to Egypt to protect him from being murdered by Herod as Herod slaughtered an untold number of innocent boys aged 2 and younger to protect his throne. Ultimately willingly submitting to a sham trial and torturous beating before a horrendous death by crucifixion under Roman authority to appease the religious Jews. Rising to life on the 3rd day showing that His sacrifice for our sins was accepted by the Father so that we who believe in Jesus by faith are granted grace and reconciled to God the Father though Jesus.

It’s not about our American rights or Western culture. It’s not about sex or chicken or reality TV. It’s not about whether people say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” It’s not about our temporal comfort. It’s about a Savior come to redeem unworthy and rebellious children.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17, ESV)

Just let it go?

Here’s a little something I’m dragging out of the drafts hole. It was written over a span of about 5 months from Sep 2011 – Jan 2012.

I had this little running “joke” with our former pastor on Sunday mornings:

Pastor: “How are you?”
Me: “Self-righteous and bitter.”
Pastor: “Alrighty then.” (or something to that effect)

I always answered it in a joking kind of way, but really, I was/am dead serious. I think he knew it. The result of being self-righteous and bitter is being angry…often. Combine that with out of control (or out of sync) hormones (that’s a story in itself, which my doc thinks is more likely linked to my diet and somewhat addressed here), and you have a volatile mix. I’m going off at the least little thing, nit-picking over insignificant things, and emotionally collapsing into tears either from sheer anger or guilt from getting so angry over something stupid. Did I mention I was never much of a cryer? But I digress.

The self-righteousness and the bitterness have been there for years, but I never really noticed them for what they were. Generally speaking, I filed them away under a blanket of righteous indignation. After all, I was right to be angry because I was being wronged, or someone I loved was being wronged.

The anger wouldn’t be such an issue if it was just anger, albeit justified anger and not getting mad over something stupid. But, even if it is “justifiable” anger, it becomes an issue when it is something I’m not letting go of.

I keep dwelling on issues when they pop up in my head. The longer I stew on them, the angrier I get, and the angrier I get the more I want to go off on a self-righteous rant letting the “offender” know just how ate up they are. I have finally realized that the things that piss me off the most are things I do myself, and more often than not involve pride.

But at the heart of the matter, it boils down to a lack of forgiveness on my part. This lack of forgiveness is most blatantly on display towards my husband. Of all the people/situations I’ve stewed over and held grudges over, I have mostly held grudges against him, and not well held under control. But it is no more or no less venomous and vile. Sheer poison. It isn’t as if he is blameless. Even he will tell people there is only one thing that I have ever adamantly put my foot down about. It’s that one hot button trigger that holds the potential to split us up. I’ve threatened divorce (with every intention of backing it up), and I’ve wished all kinds of calamity on him from arrest to death. Yes, you read that right. I have wished he would die.

That’s cold-hearted right there. Completely unloving.

I know that my response is every bit as wrong as what he does that prompts it. I can see it coming, and I pray for grace to “shut up and pray”, and I quote scripture to myself and swear I will be quiet and let it go. But more often than not, I succumb to the voice that tells me I don’t deserve be treated like that, lied to, messed with, etc, and it all goes downhill from there. But then a day or two later, it’s over, we pick up and try again or just avoid any mention of what went down…pretending nothing ever happened and all is well. But it’s not. The hurt is still there. The broken promises still there. The “I want what I want and I want it on my terms” is still there, even when we confess and apologize to each other afterward. It’s a vicious cycle.

I’m left with questions. Why can’t I let go of the bitterness and resentment, and just forgive? Why do I insist on hanging on to it when I really don’t want it and know that it just eats me up?

Just to bring this up to date, my diet wasn’t the issue with my out of control emotions. In many ways it was a result, and that still remains an issue. Also divorce has been taken off the table as an option. I will add that once that no longer became an option, things got worse. WAY worse. I also have answered those 2 questions, and well, I pretty much had answered it within the original post. Self-righteousness for one, but victimhood also.

The solution is constant prayer. Constant preaching the gospel to myself. Constant reminder that the old me died with Jesus, and I’ve been set free from the bondage of self-gratification. Constant reminder that I am not God, that He sees what I can’t, and that He is in control. Constant reminder that He never promised ease and comfort in this life. Constant reminder of 1 Corinthians love. Constant reminder that I live in a broken and fallen world, and I am still a work in progress. Constant reminder to be thankful always.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9, ESV)

Being counter-cultural

This may end up being a continuation of yesterday’s post though not in any specific manner. By that I mean I am not publicly elaborating on the incident. Or well, at least not until James and Lee talk to a couple of other folks and get to the bottom of what led up to Saturday’s incident. And to set the stage for where I am coming from on all this, let me give you some info on my background for those who don’t know. I grew up in very conservative Missionary Baptist churches who considered Southern Baptist too liberal, but not so strict as Independent Fundamental Baptists. My dad was a deacon, and both of my parents were very active in the local church with my dad generally also being active in the local association. Essentially, I fall under the category of “preacher’s kid.” I often say I’ve been a Baptist 12 years longer than I’ve been a believer even though I no longer belong to a Baptist church.

I walked away from the church when I was 19, and it took nearly 20 years for me to return. When I came back, everything changed. I wanted to read my bible. I wanted to study it. I wanted to pray, and have learned through the reading and studying and my less than eloquent prayer that praying isn’t about asking for what I want that I think will make me happy. I was the prodigal son for those 20 years away. But I was also still in the mindset I had grown up in which amounted to the prodigal’s older brother. And I fed that with talk radio and reading certain pastors and Christian writers. But I just couldn’t keep it down. It kept me hungry all the time because somehow I knew I wasn’t really growing, and was instead stressing on things that weren’t mine to stress on. This is also why I don’t blog about politics anymore. I was feeling too militant.

Now with that out of the way, maybe I can remember what I was going to write about. ;) Using “counter-cultural” is usually used by Christians to other Christians to live differently than the world because we should not look and/or sound like non-believers. We are to be salt and light among the world to point to world to Jesus. And so we have our own culture, but if we aren’t careful we make our own culture a little-g god of its own. We forget that our holiness comes from the finished work of Jesus Christ alone and start acting like we are able to behave good enough to be worthy of grace. Once we do that, then we ourselves become the judge and determine who is worthy to belong among us by imposing a “conservative” set of rules that are meant to show 1) that we ourselves are spiritually mature and 2) to impose a faux spiritual maturity on spiritual babies who will either learn how to pretend or will eventually go away because they are made to feel so uncomfortable by being unable to live up to those who have deemed themselves spiritually mature enough to be the judge.

This is how many churches end up bearing more of a resemblance to a country club than a gathering of followers of Jesus. Instead of reaching out and embracing the lost, we end up reaching out to fill our pews with people who either already look and act like us or who are willing to pretend in order to fit into the church culture. Instead of making disciples, we are making cliques. Then when someone dares to buck against the church culture we unbiblically run them off (often in secret or known only among our little gossip cliques), or when someone gets fed up and leaves on their own (whether because of the gossip and backbiting/slander or not), they are shunned and treated as enemies. And then we wonder why our churches are in decline and/or outright dying and why we aren’t growing. It really isn’t rocket science.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23, ESV)

There is quite a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Country-clubbing your church isn’t fruit of the Spirit. Constantly telling the single mother that she is living in sin and then gossiping about her is not a fruit of the Spirit. Having an angry outburst at a former member who has been picking up food for your food bank every other Wednesday for the last 5 years even AFTER leaving your church because he dared to pick up a bag of food for his son is not displaying the fruit of the Spirit. This is why we need people in the church being counter culture to the church culture so that the church can be salt and light instead of just another one of the world’s exclusive clubs that treats the Word of God as merely a rulebook.

Full speed ahead

I had big plans and topics for this week. But things aren’t working out like I had planned. I’m in class for a couple of weeks so my mind is more occupied than normal with that. Last night was my scheduled counseling, so it was already late when I got home, and eating and going to bed were about all that happened. Tonight I plan to go to Al-Anon, but that’s going to depend upon how I feel when I get home. Plus, I have a basket full of laundry from Saturday that needs to be put away which also means I have some pants and tops that need to either be thrown back in the dryer or actually ironed.

Now, I have a post sitting in my drafts folder that kind of sums up why I don’t believe in coincidences. However, I’ve never really liked how it sounds because since it primarily involves me, I am afraid it seems self-aggrandizing. This weekend there was an incident with Lee that I won’t get into the details of because I have gossiped that enough even though I am still pretty pissed off about what happened to him. Anyway, James and I were informed of the incident that evening when we got to Lee & Rachel’s. Through the course of all of this, James and I convinced Lee & Rachel to come to church with us at Newhope church. We normally go to the afternoon service, and they were all for that. Since I played with the worship team that day, I was there for all 3 services, and therefore got to hear Pastor Nate’s sermon 3 times.

I’m going back up a little at this point because I just realized it is relevant. The incident occurred where we (both my husband and I and Lee & Rachel) used to go to church, and only involved one person there. It actually probably involves 2, but the other one is purely speculative based on information I shouldn’t know, but do because it indirectly impacted me. Anyway, I dumped part of my knowledge as I finally had the evidence of who was at the root of most of the trouble-making and connected a bunch of dots. And I was then told about another lady who also used to attend and why she finally quit going there. That crap pissed me all off too, because it’s so blatantly unbiblical, self-righteous, and downright mean and just plain evil.

So, there we all sat during the 3rd service, and Pastor Nate said, “If other churches don’t want you, we do.” That may not be the exact quote, but it’s the exact meaning. And that was the only time in all 3 services I heard him say that, which just happened to be the one service that Lee & Rachel came to…their first time there. And after what had happened the day before. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Now, for the friends I have at the old church who read my blog, I am not making a sweeping indictment of the entire church. Almost everyone there embodies how a follower of Jesus Christ should walk and conduct themselves. Also, I want to state for the record that I love each and every member of that church. But there are some destructive actions that have been made for at least 4 years that will have to be addressed sooner or later if that church is ever going to grow. And that means that someone is going to have to stand up to the bullies in truth and love.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16, ESV)

The struggle is real

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, ESV)

And once again, this is where I find myself. There was some tension and stress before I went on vacation, but it didn’t really seem that big. My mom has Alzheimer’s, so I spent a lot of time with her dealing with the effects of that. And I thank God for family there who are taking care of her. Then I came home to a nightmare. In no particular order, here is what has/is happening:

1. When I got back, my husband wasn’t home, wasn’t answering his phone, and the house house was trashed like he had partied like it was 1999.

2. The electricity is out in the master bedroom/bathroom. The breaker keeps tripping. I replaced the breaker (because that was cheap & easy), but the new one tripped immediately. So there is a short, and I am slowly replacing outlets and switches before blaming the ceiling fan. Because I don’t want to deal with the ceiling fan. A spider lives in it, and we have an agreement.

3. The dishwasher was not cleaning, and I pulled out a bunch of dirty dishes in the cabinet thanks to #1. Finally determined the problem was not enough water getting into the dishwasher. I checked both ends of the intake hose, and after checking the end attached to the dishwasher itself (the other end was way easier), I flooded the kitchen floor when testing. Ah, a leak in the hose! So I went through the trouble of replacing the intake hose (and pretty sure I contracted hantavirus), only to discover it was the drain hose with a huge hole that flooded the laundry room. 2nd trip to Lowes, and rather than replace the hose, I repaired it with some handy dandy emergency hose repair tape. And I had clean dishes this morning.

4. No TP. Ok, there was one roll downstairs, and 3 squares upstairs, but still. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if I hadn’t written on the white board when I left to buy toilet paper.

5. Broken windows. One is double paned and only one pane is broken, so it’s not such a huge deal. The other is a completely broken out single pane. Yeah, I don’t know how to fix window panes. The hubster did that. But I have no qualms about throwing up a piece of plywood.

6. The morning after I got home, he finally called. Suicidal & homicidal. So I picked him up and took him to the ER at Duke since he had been seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist there and I knew he would be in the system. They locked him up in the psychiatric ward (which I am sure now has a politically correct name, but I’m old skool), and next day transferred him to an acute psychiatric and substance abuse treatment center. One of the things that contributed to his breakdown was running out of his meds. Naturally he “self medicated”, and went way overboard. As he does. And he is demanding long term treatment, but nobody will accept him with a pending court date. So now he has to get with his lawyer (somehow) and get the DWI resolved. And he wasn’t answering his phone because he destroyed it.

7. He got the truck stuck, and through the course of getting it out, got it impounded. Fortunately without another DWI or wrecking it. But it cost nearly $400 anyway between the tow and storage to get it back home.

8. He drove the daughter’s scooter across town and left it behind a friend’s house. That friend took him to another friend’s house which is where I picked him up from. No I’m not naming names. Anyway, picking up the scooter was an adventure with #7 that I will eventually blog about separately. But the hubby had someone work on the scooter so now it runs even worse than it did. :rolleye:

9. He lost his wallet. In.The.House. I still haven’t found it.

10. We have no money left. No savings. All credit cards maxed out. And the dude he worked for for 4 months still hasn’t paid him yet. Which was also a significant contribution to the breakdown. That and when he came back after the last rehab I told him not to get us back in debt again. And he can’t blame me this time.

11. The lawn mowers are at someone else’s house, and I have to retrieve them soon. Because the yard is out of control. If one friend isn’t able to bring them to the house by tomorrow, another friend is going to help me load the riding mower in the truck tomorrow after work.

(These have cropped up in the past 3 days.)

12. There is a dead mouse under my fridge stinking to high heaven and I just haven’t had the time or motivation (or stomach) to get it out.

13. Evie decided to start puking again. Ugh.

A lot on my plate? Oh yeah. More than I can handle. More than I can do. I’ve pretty much run the gamut of emotions. Fear, anger, despair. I’ve felt trapped, hopeless, and alone. It has been a constant battle with my emotions more than anything to process them, root out the lies, submit them to truth, and just do what I can a task at a time instead of looking at everything together. All together, it is so overwhelming that I end up sitting (or laying) down and playing minesweeper or whirly word much of the time while accomplishing nothing.

This is what happens when you pray “Whatever it takes.” The fact that I haven’t completely collapsed under the weight of it is testimony to the grace of God.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26, ESV)

To be continued…