Wednesday, March 30, 2016


We Christians spend a great deal of time railing against what the Scriptures call sin. We are not alone. Orthodox members of Judaism and Islam do the same. Sin is a common theme in the Bible and the Quran. I cannot speak to what the Quran says specifically. I do not know the book all that well. However, both the Torah and the New Testament leave no stone unturned in defining what sin is. Both testaments, old and new are very specific, but it all comes down to one thing. Sin is anything that is in opposition to the will of God. Sin can be an overt act or it can be a failure to act. It is rebellion against the Lord God.

There was a time in human history when sin was undefined or poorly defined. People did not know what was expected of them by their Creator because He had not spoken His will for humanity and it was not written down. Right and wrong were dependent on the human conscience which, while created by God, was bent by environment, the need for survival and of course, sin. There was also the desire to empower our selves and control others through any means necessary to ensure comfort and safety in desperate times. Such was the nature and origins of what we now call sin. Even so, we did not recognize what it was until someone wrote it down. Control and sin have a special relationship. If we place the Creator in control, sin becomes less common. When we place ourselves in control, sin becomes rampant. Violence increases. Hate and fear rule the day. This is why human law, even when it is based on God's law, fails to do what was intended. We are still giving ourselves the control, ignoring our Creator, refusing to recognize Him as God.

It is the character of God that defines sin. We are told by all three Abrahamic faiths that God hates sin or anything contrary to His character. In ancient times, those that were called by God to serve Him were those men and women whose hearts were pure enough to serve. Even so, they were imperfect and fell into sin themselves from time to time. Since the choices made in Eden, humanity and all creation have been bent and distorted by the effects of sin. The process continues to this day. The difference is that we know what sin is and we do it anyway.

Adam and Eve knew what sin was in their garden. God told them. There was one thing they were to avoid. One thing that they were not to do. They did it anyway and forever fogged the lens through which we see righteousness. God could walk with us no longer. Our negative choices separated us from our Creator. As the world population grew, that separation became more and more evident.

Eventually God started over again. He allowed the line of Cain to perish in the great deluge that is recorded in every civilization on earth and is recorded in the Bible. He preserved a remnant of the Sons of God, the line of Seth. This was Noah and his family, bit the corruption from Adam was also in their gene pool too. The propensity to sin was still strong. It became evident immediately after their exit from the ark. Noah's son, Ham was particularly afflicted. The result was that the world again fell into sin. Humanity again reached out to overthrow their Creator on the Plain of Shinar with the Tower of Babel. This plan was filed again by the Lord. He confused their language so that the peoples of earth could not unite as one and so they scattered across the planet.              

In the fullness of time, God called one man from Ur of the Chaldees to bear the gene pool that would ultimately bring the Hope of the world. This man was Abraham (initially called Abram). Abraham was not a sinless man, but he was a man of faith. Sometimes he failed in this regard, but God knew his heart and so blessed him as the progenitor of a new race - the Hebrews. Through his son, Isaac and his grandson, Jacob, the nation of Israel would be born. Among them, a man named Moses would rise to God's favor and become a leader of his people and it is through Moses that God gave His Law to the Hebrews and the world.

It is law that makes us aware that there is something wrong. It is law that condemns some behaviors and lifts up others. It is law that exonerates and executes. It is law that determines and defines civilization. Moses brought God's law.

Since God's law made sin apparent and made God's perfect character apparent, it showed everyone that no one was without sin. It showed the need for repentance and change of the human character. It showed the need for a relationship with other people and with God that was different from what had been. We must love God and love our neighbors if we wish to live in peace with our Creator and the world at large.

In a short time though, this view became lost and left unpracticed. It was replaced by the rote ceremonies to forgive sin and allow the people to do as they pleased. God wanted the peoples obedience, love and mercy. What He got was lip service and sacrifice. The law did not change hearts. It only condemned sinners.

What was needed was a sacrifice that would seal this breach, allow god to again dwell with His people and change their hearts.

So again, in the fullness of time, God raised up another prophet, but this one was different from any that had gone before. His Name was Jesus and He was God's very own Son. He came to teach the people and eventually the world through His legacy about His Father, about Sin and about entering into relationship again with God. For this, they crucified Him, but this was not unexpected. It was part of the plan, for in this act, the sins of humanity were paid for in full and God could now come in His Spirit to dwell with His people again - those that chose the path of faith.

It continues to this day in His Church - The Kingdom of God.     

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Visiting A Dead Friend

This afternoon I went down to Aquabi State Park to do some fishing. It's a beautiful park, but it was kind of windy and fishing was slow. Since I was close, I decided to drive over to Sandyville. If you don't know where Sandyville is, you are not alone. I had to look it up the first time I went. Today was my third visit. I have a friend from high school whose remains are buried in the cemetery there.

Brian Kirkpatrick was an unusual man. He had an IQ of about 150; incredibly intelligent. He could play the piano like Billy Joel. He could use words like they were knives - a quality I always admire - but, he could also be incredibly gentle - a quality I always envied. He died in 2002 in a tragic accident in his home. I was told he fell down the stairs during a bout of intoxication. Brian was also an alcoholic; scotch being his favorite. I'm sure it had to be a single malt scotch. Brian also had class, though he was not particularly class conscious.  

As I mentioned, we were friends in high school. He was the first person in my life besides God that I ever talked to about personal matters. Yes that's right. I never confided in anyone about anything until I was 15 years old.

Brian was able to put me at ease in those days and get me to loosen up and talk. He would talk to me too. It was easier for him though. He had less guilt. So we talked. We got to know each other. We shared secrets. One of those secrets was that we were both gay. Now I suppose some of you are saying, "ewooo", at this point and I fully understand that because I have always kind of felt that way about it too, but I was not offered a choice and neither was Brian. Being gay was more like an assignment that I failed. Brian did not fail. He pursued relationships throughout his life, and while Brian and I were friends, we were never lovers, so please take your "ewooo" back ok? Thanks.

Later, after graduation, I cannot remember exactly when it was, Brian was the first person to get me high. I'm thinking it was the summer of 1977 when I took my first bong hit. I was at his house. He had a stereo that was state of the art. Very high end. He would spin the vinyl all night and normally we would drink beer and talk, but not that night. He got out Big Orange. It was a bong that was about two feet long with a very large bowl. We both hit on that thing several times. Brian laughed at me and guided me as I discovered whole new worlds. The buzz was incredible. I was fully conscious and comfortably floating at the same time. Music became a new experience. Food became a new experience. Colors became a new experience. It was as if all those things were alive in some way - better - new and improved. Even reading was better. It was not until I entered the working world in 1981, that I gave up the weed. My use had become erratic after 1979 anyway, but it ended all together after I got a full time job.

Brian disappeared from my life for quite awhile. I do not think we spoke again until after I had moved to Cedar Rapids. He called me one night at home very late. I was a little shocked, but I immediately recognized his voice. This time he did all the talking. I got filled in on the missing years right up to 1998 or whatever it was. He had a life filled with sadness and tragedy interspersed with moments of joy and happiness. His current issue was over the death of his better half. His lover had died of AIDS. Brian had cared for him to the very end. They both lived very fast lives. After they met, Brian graduated from beer and pot to scotch and their lives got crazy. His roomie slept around I think, and that may be how he got the disease. Brian never did test positive for anything besides scotch. He lost his drivers license due to too may DUI's and a car crash. When we last spoke, he was working for Pioneer in Johnston as a techie at their help desk. He ended up a computer geek; an appropriate occupation. He was also in AA, working his 12 steps and that may be why he called me. He apologized to me for making a pass at me once many years ago. Nothing came of it - the pass. We were both buzzed when it happened and I forgot about it. Apparently he did not. It was nice of him to apologize, but totally unnecessary. We were good. I was hot back in the Day. He was not the only one. But I digress....

We talked on several occasions after that and exchanged many emails, then there was nothing. He seemed to drop off the planet. Then one day in March of 2002 I got an email from a new "friend" of Brian's. He had found our emails in Brian's computer and was curious. He explained to me that Brian was dead from an accident - the one described above. He said that he and Brian's sisters had tried to contact me to attend the funeral without luck. I learned later that they had called my parents house and my Mom refused to give them my number. Mom didn't like Brian for many reasons. Imagine that. Anyway, I was a little freaked about the whole thing. It was the first time I experienced a friend dying that was my own age. It was kind of a wake up call.

Other friends from my high school and college days have died, but Brian left a lasting dent in my soul. He was the first one to take a can opener to my psyche. He was the first one I ever opened up to because he did not judge. He was willing to be my friend. Now that's courageous. I would like to think that because of his grace towards others, God let him in. He was a nominal believer of sorts, though he did not care much for Christians. At the time, I didn't either. I still have my days...sorry.

Anyway, I went to visit him today. He was not there of course. There is only a black granite stone emblazoned with his name, his years and musical notes in the corners. It was kind of cool.

Brian, I miss you. I could have given you an earful today. A doobee would have been nice too, but I don't think that will ever happen again either. I think I'll put on the earphones and listen to some Elton. Shall we? Nope. Probably not gonna do that either. OK. Catch you later piano man!   

Monday, March 28, 2016

I Am In Pain

I can feel the age creeping up on me. I went out into the yard and worked today and my body feels like someone beat me with a tire iron. That might be an exaggeration. Maybe a whiffle bat. Whatever. My back hurts, I have a bit of a headache, but my left pinkie finger is intact. Let me explain. I was trimming the lavender back with a pair of garden shears. I would grasp a bundle of branches with my gloved left hand and I would trim with my right. You can get up some speed doing this if your shears are sharp. Mine were very sharp. On one swipe I clipped off the end of my leather glove pinkie finger. Fortunately, my actual finger was down a bit in the glove so there was no blood spurting trip to the ER. I did not notice this until I came into the house. It would have been a wake up call and that's no mistake and by the way, my wrists hurt too. Excessive clipping and trimming is the culprit.  On the plus side, lavender branches are very aromatic when clipped. At least things smelled good.

I am trying to recover with coconut water and aspirin. The coconut water has loads of potassium. It helps with my hypertension and muscle lubrication. I'm not what you would call buffed, but I do have some musculature left despite my age. I had roasted chicken in a wine sauce with broccoli and new potatoes for supper. Stouffer's makes some wonderful stuff. I know. Processed, microwaved food. Even so I was not going to stand through 45 minutes of meal prep. I am in pain. It had to be done. Dad had the mac and cheese. He loves it.

Speaking of Dad, it was day one of lawn mowing season. He got on it, figured out how to start it and mowed for a couple of hours. I was so proud. I really thought there might be an issue, but I guess he loves it so much, that he made it happen. Thanks Lord for that treat today. He is happy, tired and explaining the latest episode of Swamp People to Oliver the dog right now. He will sleep tonight. This is just what he needed. Maybe some sanity will return for a bit.

It warmed up quite a bit today. I'm hoping for a rainy day, maybe even stormy. I want to go fishing this week and a good low pressure system might help that. I know the water is still cold, but I might be able to stir up some interest with some live bait. I'm thinking large minnows down at the river where Four Mile Creek runs in. I bet them smallies would come out for a minnie. It's like shore lunch for a fish. There might be a walleye available too. We will see. Dad loves walleye. I would so be a hero if I brought home a walleye for supper. We will see what develops. All of this fantasy is of course based on my ability to walk in the morning. Right now I'm a cripple.

I am so sore. Getting old is a bitch. The last time I felt like this I had been running for 12 miles. Where are my endorphins when I need them? I am probably in this condition because I'm not getting any exercise. I need to remedy that I suppose. Right now, I'm feeling like I could sleep. Zzzzzz. G'nite.


Funny That

It's odd how just a few words in a public place can change things. Have you ever thought about that? Information is valuable in many ways. One of them is publicity. Yesterday this blog got mentioned in our Easter church service at church and traffic has increased considerably. Thanks Steve. I do appreciate it, but his may come with it's own set of problems. People will hold me responsible for the things I say. I do tend to shoot off my mouth, sometimes without much thought, but that is at least partially what TDGH is for.

Anyway....yesterday I had 102 blog hits; not bad for a holiday and a Sunday to boot (what does that mean? I don't know). Today I am already at 75 hits and moving up. I just wanted to say thanks for stopping by. Leave a comment if you like, even if you want to take me to task for something. I would love to hear from you. I like to think I communicate better in writing than in person. As an introverted personality, I like time to think about what I say. Writing allows me the privilege of editing.

Some of you that have read a few blog posts by now are wondering if I actually think about anything before I say it. In answer, I would say I do. I am flexible though. I do change my mind from time to time. I am not the absolutist that I used to be. Some times I react rather than think. Some times that works. Some times it does not. Whatever the case, I am glad you are here.

Yesterday's sermon was good; "What If Easter Never Happened?". It was dead on correct on so many levels. Indeed, western civilization would not exist were it not for Jesus Christ. Many would argue that Jesus' followers have done more harm than good. I would disagree with that. Christianity may have been upheld as the reason for many bad things, but generally speaking, it was more likely used by men with evil intent to justify their actions. The faith was not to blame for these atrocities. It is the faith that has held things together for so long. Only now in the age of the faithless do things start to fall apart. As People depart from Jesus, Islamic terror rises, families crumble, walls of fear go up and people become islands to themselves, failing to love their neighbors as God intended. And that does not even begin to describe how a life lived apart from God leads to destruction.

Anyway...good job Dave!

Have you ever wondered what is behind the mass emigrations of 3rd worlders to western nations? Being of a conspiratorial nature, my first thought is that western nations have brought this on themselves and maybe with purpose. Interventionist westerners have created havoc in the homelands of these peoples and displaced them, forcing them to look for other places to live. I could go on about that, but I'm not sure it would be productive or solve the problem.

There was one other thing that occurred to me not long ago in this regard, and its got nothing to do with any spiritual insight, though it may have been God that made me think about it.

What if it's God that is sending these people into the west? We did not go to them in the spirit He intended, so now he is sending them to us. Possibly. What could His purpose be?

Maybe He wants Europeans to come to grips with their Christian roots again and rediscover a life of faith. Maybe He wants Americans to share the gospel with these people. Whatever the case, there seems to be a power behind this mass movement of people greater than the manipulations of governments and other power brokers. Westerners are being put to the test. Will we embrace our faith and love our neighbors or will we radically over react to them? Interesting question.

Nationalism is on the rise here and abroad in Europe. What happens next is anyone's guess. Thoughtful compassion is the key. We cannot just hand them the keys, but we can show them how to use their own keys. Culture clash is inevitable. Some things will not change without the interjection of the Faith into the lives of these people. If they have no reason to restrain the savagery of the cultures that they leave, they will continue it here. We must bring them the Peace that Passes All Understanding.

Can we learn to love sinners as much as Jesus did? Even when He was nailed to a Roman cross, he managed to forgive and offer grace. The thought overwhelms my mind. How do we love people that commit crimes against our way of life, our nations, even ourselves? I think we have to remember who we are and where our citizenship lies. We are not Americans or Brits or French or white people or whatever. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God. Our lives were paid for by the blood of our King. How can refuse this honor to others? We have to bring them in do we not? If I'm right, it will change them...Jesus will change them.

If you are one of those hate laden Christian bashers that takes everything they hear in the media about Christianity as fact, then you are not going to understand what I am talking about and you are a bigot in your own right. I would ask you to look beyond your own preconceived, media manipulated opinions and consider how there would be no civilization without without Christian thought. Imagine people living by their own moral codes in complete disregard to others. This is where we will be soon unless we embrace Jesus. Do not let your heart harden to the possibility of an unselfish peace.

To you that call yourselves faithful, I would say love. Jesus did not put conditions on His love for you. Why would you put conditions on yours? You may well have an immigrant next door because God put them there. Instead of buying a gun and a burglar alarm, invite them to church. You are a subject in His Kingdom first. If you are not, then something is wrong with your faith Christian!

I need to go. I'm rambling. Such is the way of old men. See ya in church.         

Sunday, March 27, 2016

He Lives

Jesus Has Risen

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Jesus Christ is alive! His empty tomb is our guarantee of resurrection. We will live again. His blood paid for our salvation. His life guarantees our righteousness before God. It is done. The Kingdom of God is here.

Let us never lose sight of the cost of our salvation and the One that made it possible.

Lord Jesus thank you. I am your humble servant forever. See you soon!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

My Mother Visited Today

Well, no. Not really. She died about 5 years ago (May 31, 2011), but she made herself known to me today from "beyond" in a way that was just plain weird.

I was in the downstairs bathroom putting some stuff in the cupboard under the sink. As I bent over, reaching in, I noticed the rug on the floor was getting worn. It was kind of stuck to the tile too. Not good. And some of the rubber backing was coming off of it. So I decided to take it up and get a new one. I still had some more things to add to the cupboard and it was requiring me to move other things, but I was running out of room. There was something in the back blocking my progress. I reached farther in and there was something that felt fuzzy like yarn.

I grabbed it and pulled it out. It was a throw rug that was exactly the same color and size as the one on the floor and it was new.

Mrs B had to be the one that put it there. Apparently she was ready for the change 5 years before I ever noticed. She was always prepared. I wish I was more like her in some ways. I'm missing her today. I know Dad is too. When I told him about it, he laughed and teared up at the same time. The he asked me where he put the rain gauge. The conversation deteriorated from there.

I wonder where Mom would be with Dad's situation right now were she alive? I wonder what she would think about how I've chosen to handle things? I miss her guidance. Sometimes she was too careful and other times she was right on the money...especially when it involved money. Oh well. I will never get the answers to those questions now.

Lord, I still do not know why you chose to pull her out of here so quickly. What were you thinking? I suppose You won't answer me either. You and Mom are having a good laugh about the rug aren't you? Stop it...thanks.     

Mood Swings

I know that you could probably care less about my mood swings, so if you want to back out now, who could blame you? Others of you that know me probably think I am a tower of stability, never flinching, cracking, emoting or feeling. I have been described alternately as Mr. Spock or Sheldon. I am not nearly as smart as either one of those imaginary characters, but I do sometimes envy them their demeanor.

Despite my exterior of marble, mood swings have been a part of my life like forever. Today was no different. I woke up in a nice place. I was not sad or happy or anything but content. I was feeling some motivation and thinking about what I was going to do today. I had some coffee, took a shower and shaved and then dressed. I made a grocery list and headed out for my Saturday errands. I pulled up Chris Rice on the thumb drive I have plugged into my truck stereo and started driving to the gas station.

Music alters my consciousness. I'm not sure how that works, but in the space of a few minutes, it can make me want to dance (no one wants to see that - trust me), to sing (another bad idea) or weep. It's usually the combination of the words and music that will do it. Three Christian artists do this to me; Rich Mullins, Andrew Petersen and Chris Rice. Anyway, Chris was on the box. I was parked outside the car wash entrance, dancing in my seat as he sang "Smellin Coffee". It's a great morning song. The "glad" hormones were flowing. After I pulled into the car wash, I put on "Thirsty" and I was suddenly spiritual and reflective and by the time the song was done, the truck was also clean. After that I went to get some fuel and then departed for the grocery store when Chris started singing "Missin You". The tears began to flow as I pulled into the Hy Vee. Chris had me thinking about Jesus and Easter and how much I really want to see Him. After talking to Jesus for a few minutes and trying to compose myself, I went into the grocery store to fulfill my list of stuff.

The grocery store always makes me happy. It is a place of plenty and abundance. It is a place of variety and happy people of all sorts. It is also a good place to for a Ground Hog to observe life outside of his tightly drawn circle of security and safety. It's fun...usually.

Today, I bumped into a couple of guys shopping together. At first I thought they were brothers, but then my gaydar went off. I've tried to train myself not to make assumptions about people, but these two had all the signs of being married and involved in a very deep relationship. They did not look gay if you know what I mean, but they did not act like a couple of guys that were doing the shopping for their wives either. These two knew each other way too well to be just BFF's.

Anyhow, these two managed to produce some envy in me. I suddenly wanted what they seem to have even though I know nothing about their actual relationship. Odd that. I am usually more sensible.

Despite this I trudged forward in fulfillment of my list when I suddenly heard a child screaming and crying like his arm had just been cut off. I looked up and saw a mother with her two boys. The mother was pushing her cart with one arm. The youngest boy was sitting quietly in the cart and she had her other arm wrapped around the waist of what looked like a big 4 year old that was screaming, "No Mommy, stop. Don't do this..." and crying himself hoarse. She did not seem to be hurting the boy, so I don't know what the screaming was about, but it was very unsettling.

I was sensing abuse, though there was none apparent. This child seemed to be horrified by what this otherwise normal looking woman was doing. I suddenly felt awful. I felt alarm. I felt terribly sad.

Now it could be that this kid was just a brat that was putting Mom in the worst light possible or it could be that she's a real bitch that was going to stick the kid's hand under the hot water faucet when she got home. I never know what to do when I see things like I did nothing.

By the time I got to the checkout line, my horror had switched to guilt, when suddenly the checkout guy asked me if I found everything I needed. I looked up and... and he was beautiful. I knew at that moment why I go to Hy Vee. That helpful smile in every aisle is going to get me in trouble one of these days. I don't know if I blushed, but when he asked me how I was, I said "perfect". It's a good thing the grocery list was short because I was getting flirty.

Yes, I'm a terrible person sometimes. Deal with it.

After that, I went to Caribou and promptly ordered a large cappuccino with an extra shot of espresso. I really needed it. Focus was beginning to drain away. This time it was my turn to get flirted with. The women behind the counter know me and my order by name and are always way too nice to me. Even in my advanced years, there is apparently still something attractive about me. I'm not sure what it is, but I wish it would go away.

As I made my grocery store exit, I was thinking that my grocery store experience was everything I wanted it to be. I was content again.

See what I mean? I am a roller coaster of moods. If I actually took any of them seriously, my life could be a soap opera worthy of a Jerry Springer episode. It comes down to what I have always maintained. It's brain chemistry. Feelings are chemical reactions produced in our brains. Those chemical reactions can create a real mess if control is not exercised. Right now my 5 shot cappuccino is driving me to write this. I will most likely be embarrassed that I even talked about it tomorrow, let alone discussed it on the internet for the world to see. For now though, I feel just fine about it. It's a good thing I quit drinking (:^0            See ya in church.

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Million Miles Wide and a Half Inch Deep

It's Good Friday and much like 2000 years ago, the entire world is hanging by a string. The fact that the string never breaks is, to my mind, a testimony that God is in control after all. He gives us choice and also uses the events of the day to create the future. Even the worst disasters seem to work themselves out in the end. But I digress.

The ongoing election disaster continues to flare today. It's being reported by the National Enquirer, yes the tabloid, that Ted Cruz has had no less than 5 mistresses during his marriage. The NE article is discussed on The Last Refuge blog in detail. The writer believes that he has identified 3 of these women and that the story has legs. I have suspected for some time that Ted had feet of clay (as all men do). That this should be so easily discovered should tell you much about the candidate's lack of character. For you Christians out there that think Ted is the epitome of Christian leadership, you might want to do some research. Faith and politics do not combine satisfactorily. If God wanted us to run the government, He would have said so. He did not. Please show me in scripture where this was said, even indirectly. Leave governing to the people that have no scruples. Christian, you are better than that.

There are those that say American Christianity could also be labeled "Christianity Lite". It tastes great and is less filling. Generally speaking, so is cotton candy. Even so, I wonder about the truth of this. How will we stand when the hammer falls or the blade of Islam is at our necks? Do we fight or run or suffer martyrdom as our predecessors did? Where will our faith be when we are tested for real? Some of us will, I suppose, fold like a stack of cards. Others of us will stand because we know how to do nothing else. I think this time of testing is coming. We need to pray for ourselves in this regard; that we might stand as Jesus stood on Good Friday for all of us. The time is coming.

The shallowness and enormity of the Christian community in the US startles me. We are, in many respects, a million miles wide and a half inch deep. So then, let us pray for depth, that we might stand in the great and terrible day. We must build that relationship with our God. We are His adopted sons and daughters saved by His grace. His Son, our Brother Jesus, died for us. Are will willing to do the same for Him?  As you read what's below, think about how much you love Him and what He did for you so that you could be with Him. Are we worth this? God thought so.

Matthew 28:27ff     

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[d]
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sharing a Brownie

I don't know how old they are - maybe late 70's - but there is an old couple that comes into Caribou every morning for coffee. Today they are sharing a brownie with their coffee and talking quietly. They seem to genuinely enjoy each others company, I have no idea how long they have been together, but I think that they would not do well apart. Their oneness is showing. People like these two seem to die together. My Aunt Mabel and Uncle Lee were like this. They died a week apart.

I envy you people that can keep this kind of relationship going for decades. It is nothing short of amazing to me to see how two people can compliment and complete each other in this way.

I find myself wanting this, but at the same time, I do not think I would be successful. There are times when I require solitude. The input of others is like static on a radio to me. I just want to reach over and shut them off or out as the case may be. This is probably not conducive to a life of shared brownies and quiet conversation.

I like being alone. I don't know if it's pride or selfishness or fear, but solitude is a glorious thing to me. Is it possible to have a life partner and still enjoy time off from the relationship? Does that kind of arrangement destroy the oneness and single-mindedness of true partnership? Most normal people know the answer to that question. I do not.

I have also observed other aging couples that lose their partner and their life changes in many positive ways. It seems cruel, but the release of the dead weight invigorates them and they become more active and vital in their communities of friends. Others seem to be racing to the grave...which one will go first. Perhaps, even though these people have spent their lives together, they have come to resent each others presence? Commitment rather than love is what binds them, or maybe it's just puerile stubbornness or worse, a fear of being alone. Whatever it is, they are driven to fulfill their commitments to each other, even it it's simply spite. Funny that!

I have come to realize in recent years, and too late, that we humans are not complete when we are alone. God was on to something when He said, "it's not good for man to be alone." I suppose He would know. He's the one with the human blue prints.  Whatever.

I have tried letting Him fill that void in my life. Jesus is a good partner, but I can't argue with Him or share a brownie with Him in public without people thinking I'm crazy, but maybe they think that anyway. Jesus never seems to eat much. I would get the whole brownie. That's a plus.

Lord, I do not know why You made me as I am. It's a genuine mystery. I am weird for many reasons besides the obvious one. Nevertheless, like You, I am what I am. I love You. We are stuck with each other and dying will not get me out of that. So here's to a brownie and some quiet conversation in Paradise. In the meantime, I think I will eat this one myself.           

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


You know how people in your life will stand out for various reasons and when they die, you think about them???

I have been experiencing that this week. There was an older lady from my church that had a reputation as a moody legalist. Odd description no? She could be quite loving when she was trying, but if you disagreed with her, she would go off like a cherry bomb. She had a number of medical issues. Among them was a heart condition of some sort and finally Alzheimer's. As that last one worsened, her extended family finally took charge of her and she ended up in a memory care facility in Indiana. Muriel died recently. I think it was on the 16th. Her family brought her remains back to Des Moines for burial. The graveside service is on Thursday - tomorrow.

As I considered how her life bumped up against mine, her effect was, shall we say, memorable. She would come to my Sunday school class from time to time. The first time was an event. After sitting through it in a scowling, angry silence, she took the time afterward to tell me that I was the worst teacher she had ever seen and that any man in the class could have done a better job. Some time later, she attended again and apologized after for her first showing telling me how good I was. Such was life with Muriel.

Though I never experienced it, I am told she was generous with her material possessions, giving heavily to missions that the church supported. She was also on the missions committee. As she slid into Alzheimer's, she became more agreeable and loving, or at least that was my experience. Others may have other stories and I have no clue how she behaved when she arrived in Indiana.

Muriel and I had some things in common in that neither of us ever married and we were both caretakers of aging parents. She took care of her mother for over 50 years. I cannot imagine 50 years with my Dad, even though it already feels that way some times. She also did customer service for the phone company. Given her personality, it's hard to see her doing that, but back in the Day, there was only one phone company, so I guess it did not matter if the customers were pissed off. Where else could they go? I also do customer service in the air freight business and competition is fierce. Customer perception matters. Muriel would never have made it in my business.

I also find myself wondering how she would have taken the news that I laid on the church back in November. I'm thinking she would have had a fit of some sort, but I do not know that.

Muriel was a piece of work. I told someone yesterday that I thought people would show up at her funeral just to make sure she was dead. I know a certain preacher that referred to her as the Dragon Lady but he seemed to appreciate her despite her mood changes.

Yesterday I tried to imagine her approaching the gates of Paradise. Peter summons John to answer the door just this once knowing that words of criticism would be forthcoming if he let her in. Once inside, she sees people there that she was sure were going to Hell. In utter shock, she asks them what they are doing there. Funny. Good times. I don't think Paradise will be boring, especially now that Muriel is there finally knowing what true grace is. I think she must be awestruck, thinking she and Jesus would have the place to themselves!

Let me close by saying that how we live our lives here effects the lives of others in ways we do not now consider. People will remember us when we are gone. Those memories will be a mixed bag. Keep that in mind as you journey to your final destination.           

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


This morning Brussels airport lies in rubble. Meanwhile, in the US, primary elections loom in several states? Coincidence? Maybe. I'm thinking the Donald will get some votes he would not otherwise have received. Hidden powers are moving in his favor it seems. Do not be happy about this. These things are evil in their origin and they generally radiate from Langley, Virginia.

In the late 60's and early 70's, the CIA ran the Red Brigade in Italy. They were billed as a communist terror group that went around blowing up a lot of stuff. They shaped a more moderate body politic in Italy that opposed Marxism  because of those activities. It's the way the Empire controls societies. We are seeing it in Europe now. Muslim immigrants are being used to create a resurgence of nationalism on the continent. It just may work. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Adult Diapers Are About to Outsell Baby Diapers

Yes, it's true. Adult diapers will soon outsell baby diapers in most of the west and Japan. Why is this? Well, it has nothing to do with a bladder infection epidemic or some kind of kinky fetish. It has everything to do with plummeting birth rates. Melissa Dykes at Truthstreamedia has the scoop in this short video. Take a few minutes and watch.

For the record, I have not had to buy a box full yet. I suppose it's just a matter of living long enough. We will see what develops...or leaks as the case may be. I'm thinking clothes pin and cork. I will leave the rest to your imagination. Is there a Depends in your future?

Let's Skip the Election and Make Him King

Donald Trump walked out on a very risky limb today and advocated a non-interventionist foreign policy. The Washington Post reports from the AIPAC (American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee) meeting on Donald's plans:

Donald Trump outlined an unabashadly noninterventionist approach to world affairs Monday, telling The Washington Post's editorial board that he questions the need for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has formed the backbone of Western security policies since the Cold War.
The meeting at The Post covered a range of issues, including media libel laws, violence at his rallies, climate change, the NATO and the U.S. presence in Asia.

Speaking ahead of a major address on foreign policy later Monday in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Trump said he advocates an aggressive U.S. posture in the world with a light footprint. In spite of unrest abroad, especially in the Middle East, Trump said the United States must look inward and steer its resources toward rebuilding domestic infrastructure.

"I do think it’s a different world today, and I don’t think we should be nation-building anymore," Trump said. "I think it’s proven not to work, and we have a different country than we did then. We have $19 trillion in debt. We’re sitting, probably, on a bubble. And it’s a bubble that if it breaks, it’s going to be very nasty. I just think we have to rebuild our country."

He added: "I watched as we built schools in Iraq and they’re blown up. We build another one, we get blown up. We rebuild it three times and yet we can’t build a school in Brooklyn. We have no money for education because we can’t build in our own country. At what point do you say, 'Hey, we have to take care of ourselves?' So, I know the outer world exists and I’ll be very cognizant of that. But at the same time, our country is disintegrating, large sections of it, especially the inner cities."

Trump is my new hero. This is a Libertarian wet dream (if I might be so bold and offensive). It is time to bring 'em home. Our soldiers can come home and help round up the illegal immigrants for return to their homeland. It's perfect! Now if he will just outline an economic plan that involves dissolution of the Federal Reserve System and a break up of the world banking cartel, my joy will be complete! Down with the neocons and liberals. Let there be a black boot in their faces for eternity.

Let the people rule again lead by good King Donald!

Uh-Oh !!!!

Bubba should probably not be messing with the Community Organizer from Chicago, but he did just that today. Kyle Olson at The American Mirror is reporting that Bill took a big ole dump on Barrack in Spokane, Washington. Here's the quote from Clinton's speech.

"Literally from the time I met her till we talked yesterday, she is the best change maker I have ever known.
“She always finds a way to make something good happen, to make people feel empowered, to buy people into the process, to make democracy work the way the framer intended for it to work,” Clinton said.
“Now, if you don’t believe that we can all grow together again, if you don’t believe that we’re ever going to grow again, if you believe it’s more important to relitigate the past, there may be many reasons that you don’t want to support her.
“But if you believe we can all rise together, if you believe we’ve finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us and the 7 years before that when we were practicing trickle-down economics and no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash, then you should vote for her,” Clinton said."

The awful legacy of the last eight years! Wow. Bill, I have new respect for you, but you know what; you just might need BO before the first Tuesday in November.

The Republicans have issues right now, but this thing with Bill and Barry could get nasty and Hillie is just stuck in the middle. Poor thing.

Some are wondering about Bill's health, thinking he might be slipping. He has Parkinson's symptoms but claims it's something else....ya, like too much bourbon the night before. Whatever.

I don't know what it is, but none of the political class seems able to lay down their animus and unite this year.

I just love it. I hope they all self destruct.

Go Donald!

Things on the Mind

You would think that such a small place would not have room for so many things, but it's amazing what you can get layered and wedged in the mind when you have to. Sometimes there are things in there that one wishes were not in there, nonetheless they are there and must be dealt with.

I was thinking about the Palm Sunday service at the fairgrounds yesterday. I saw some folks I had not seen in awhile; a cousin and someone from my old church youth group in the 70's. That was good. The band was good and would have been much better if the acoustics of the building had been more amenable. It may have been where we were sitting, but it was difficult to understand the words to the music and also the speakers that followed. The band was Vineyard from Manhattan, KS. Even with the poor acoustics, I liked their sound. I will have to see what recordings they have available.

The speaker seemed to be both gifted and talented but I do not remember his name. Sorry. He talked about fear, using examples from the Old Testament and the New. His point was that if you actually start doing what it is you are supposed to be doing, the fear subsides and everything becomes an adventure. That's what I got from what he said. Some may disagree.

The service was billed by some as ecumenical since we had 6 area churches involved in the service. Let me say that it was NOT ecumenical. It was more like a family reunion. We all sprang from the same church roots. Had we invited churches of a different stripe than our own, I might concede ecumenicism, but such was not the case. We also had to leave right after communion because my roommate was getting antsy. He was unable to take it all in for a number of reasons, i.e. hearing and Alzheimer's.

Speaking of my roommate, Dad was up and about when I rose from my slumber this morning. He had already taken his remote controls out to the Toyota along with his clock. I found his shoe horn and the lawnmower key in the computer room. The cable box was nested in a decorative bowl beneath some pine cones...yes, he disconnected the cable box to his TV. He is so weird these days. Saturday afternoon he told me he was going home. We were both home so I'm not sure where he was going.

I think it all has to do with Mom. He mentioned how she disappeared and how he has felt lost since that time. This may also be why he hides all his coffee table items. Mom used to get on him about how he kept the table next to his lazyboy. There is an odd selection of things there, but he does use most of them. Mom used to refer to his area in the sunroom as the "sty" or the "boar's nest". I'm sure all this is in the back of his mind somewhere amongst the clutter of 80 years.

Speaking of that, Dad will be 80 years old on April 18. My uncle texted me and said we should have a birthday party of sorts...a celebration, a open house. He thought, though, that I should be the one to do it. He was going to help in some yet unprescribed way, but there should be a party.

He seemed to be saying, "here's something I want to do for my brother, but I need you to do it". He has not talked to me since Christmas and when he texts, this is what he talks about. He has not seen his brother since then either.

There is blood relation and there is family. Sometimes there is a difference.

I am still giving consideration to the idea, but issuing demands is not a good way to motivate me.  I am inclined not to do this because I do not believe Dad will either appreciate or remember it. I am also not sure who would show up. Many friends from the dairy are passed. The family is spread out. Also, I do not think anyone in the family fully appreciates Dad's current state of mind. The people that are regularly in his life know these things, but those that see him 3 times a year do not.

Since I did not have to teach Sunday, I got some other stuff done that has been eating away at my mind. The taxes are done for both of us. I put on a new shower head which resulted in multiple complaints from the father. Please keep in mind that I replaced it because of multiple complaints. My life is an unappreciated wonder. 

I am hoping to get out in the yard soon. I would have done so yesterday, but it was too cold for me. I am not as tough as I used to be. Maybe this weekend. It's Easter weekend and again, I will not be teaching. Study takes some time and when you don't have to do it, it adds time. I suppose it will snow or something though. We will see. Today is nice and it is supposed to be 70 degrees tomorrow.

Off to work now. Thanks for listening. I wonder what my life would be like if I had real problems (;^))...later             

Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring is in The Air

It still gets cold at here in central Iowa, but Spring is definitely on the way. Last night was about as cold as it has been for the past two weeks. I think it may have gotten down to 30 degrees. Right now it's about 36.

All the signs are present. The snowdrops and crocus are blooming. There is color among the dead patches of garden at my house. The lilacs and even some of the trees are starting to bud. 

I love this time of year. It's resurrection. It is rebirth of life from death. Life rules and death dies. What a glorious thing that God has done. I long for the day when it is always Spring. It is always May and everything is always new.

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday if you are keeping track. It's the anniversary of the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time. I would encourage you to pop open a gospel and read about it. The Sunday after is Resurrection Sunday marking the anniversary of Satan's defeat and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior; the last hope of humanity.

Now you know why I love Spring.

My church will join six other area churches on Palm Sunday at the Iowa State Fair Grounds in the Paul Knapp Center. We are all going to worship together. I expect I will see people that I have not seen since my days at Central Iowa Bible Camp. I'm kind of looking forward to it.

I have two Sundays off from teaching. That should give me some time to get ahead in lesson planning. I also want to get out in the yard and uncover some of the Spring that's trying to poke through.

Happy Spring. Happy Life.     

Thursday, March 17, 2016

They Deserve It

On Sunday in class we were discussing graceless people in the Bible or at least people that failed to extend grace when there was an opportunity. In doing this, we discovered that we were not so good at receiving or giving grace ourselves, even though, like David and Jonah and James and John, we have received much grace from our Lord.

In Psalm 109, David has composed an imprecatory prayer to the Lord against one of his enemies. We are not made aware of who it is, but David is relentless in requests for the Lord's wrath on this individual.

 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
    let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
    and may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few;
    may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless
    and his wife a widow.
10 May his children be wandering beggars;
    may they be driven[a] from their ruined homes.
11 May a creditor seize all he has;
    may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
12 May no one extend kindness to him
    or take pity on his fatherless children.
13 May his descendants be cut off,
    their names blotted out from the next generation.

David's enemy may well have deserved what was requested, but David was also a man that required much in the way of God's grace himself. As is often the case, we seldom think about the forgiveness and kindnesses we have been granted when we angry for being wronged.

Have you ever prayed against someone that was in your life? I have, or at least it started out that way. When I lived in Cedar Rapids, I had a boss that was impossible to live with. He would drive me crazy with the nitpicky way he treated me and the hourly employees. He would actually drive them to quit. It seemed purposeful and hate driven. I do not know what drove him to beat down people in this way, but it was not productive for our enterprise.

I took my case to the Lord. In my anger, I prayed that God would treat my boss as he was treating others. I prayed that he would get fired or that something awful would happen to him.

These prayers were, of course, counterproductive so I switched my tactics. I prayed that my boss would find another job. In a matter of weeks it happened.

I guess what I am saying is that sometimes even righteous anger fails to be graceful in it's approach. David's enemy was not going to change so he prayed that God would smite him. Initially, I knew that my boss was not going to change, so I prayed that God would take him out.

What really needed to happen was a change of venue. I think my boss was miserable in his job and so he wanted everyone to feel his pain. He needed something else to do. I'm not sure how it worked out for David's enemy, but I hope God moved him on to something more productive.

We need to approach these situations with the same grace that God shows us and accept what God does with the situation. The people in our lives are who they are - broken sinners in need of grace just like us. Accepting them where they are at and moving with grace from that point with them is what we are called to do. It is what God did for us.

Romans 5:6-11 says,
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

For no good reason, we have been blessed with forgiveness, justification and reconciliation with God. He did this for us because, despite being jerks, He loved us anyway.

And that's the hard part isn't it? Loving someone that needs to be crushed, that needs a dose of justice; that's hard. But, God does this for you and me everyday and He did it for us even before we knew we had a need. Wow. 

As the old hymn says, "love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."

That's the challenge. We got to show, love grace and mercy to bring people in line with God's truth.

Are we up to it? I hope so.   

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Condiment Intolerance

In my top ten list of most disgusting things (that are not human), condiments are many of them. The most disgusting item here is mustard.

1 Mustard
2 Catsup
3 Mayonnaise
4 Pickle Mustard (very diabolical)
5 Tartar Sauce
6 Sandwich Spread (very deceptive name)
7 Pickled Herring
8 Pekingese Dogs
9 Carp
10 Sitar Music
11 The Bee Gees (they are not really human and I think they are all dead)
12 Blue Cheese (rotten milk so rotten it has turned blue green)
13 Persian Cats
14 Teletubbies
15 Soap Operas 

I know, that's more than ten. I am grossed out by many things.

I was telling a friend (who is a floss miser) that opening a jar of mustard is like opening a baby diaper. It's simple. Mustard is disgusting. It smells bad and tastes bad. I'd sooner eat a lard sandwich. It should be illegal. Everyone that ate mustard in the 19th century is dead. See what I mean? It's a killer. It should at least come with a government warning label. Even the word, "mustard" is gross. How can you put something that smells like that in your mouth? Seriously, just give it up now.   

Why do people use condiments anyway? It covers up the taste of what you are eating. Few people ever enjoy the flavor of a good steak or hamburger because they cover it with fowl smelling sauces and vegetables. My thought is that if you don't like the taste of beef, you shouldn't eat it.  And leave the fries as they are. Why do you have to slather them in what appears some sort of catsup hemorrhage? It's just bloody awful.

Are you convinced yet? Ya, I thought not.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Fishing Season is Open If You're A Groundhog

My first bass of 2016. I think the time is upon us when all good men must go fishing. By next Sunday, I'm thinking the big ones will be hungry. I went to my usual spot. It looked like the pond had "turned over" some time last week. There was activity all over the pond, but hits were kind of slow and lethargic. It will only get better from here on out. I teased out this babybass with a small swim bait.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Powder Blue Circa 1979

This is the powder blue suit (with me in it) to which my mother said, "what were you thinking?" It's not a great photo, but is does give you a full view. The 70's were strange. You can't see them, but the shoes I have on are platforms. The heels were two inches high.

I thought I looked hot. Mom thought that all I needed was was a hat and I could pass for a pimp. The men of the family were strangely silent. It was like, "does this mean something?".

I never really understood the reaction to it. It did make me stick out among all the navy and brown suits at graduation, but that was sort of the idea. Looking back, maybe it was gay and a gay thing, but I did not see it that way. It's a damn sight better than a white tux with pink piped ruffles :^)

It was 1979. Who knew you could not get away with that? Apparently not me.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Condescending, Self Righteous Ted Cruz

In an interview with David Brody of CBN News, Republican Ted Cruz said this.

“Donald does well with voters who have relatively low information, who are not that engaged and who are angry and they see him as an angry voice."

Geez. What an idiot. He is telling potential voters that they are too stupid and uniformed to make a proper decision about voting and that any one that supports Trump is experiencing an emotional brain fart of anger.

Mental dispepsia not withstanding, it is this elitist attitude that is gradually bringing down every candidate in opposition to Donald Trump. How blind can a politician be? He is so caught up in the current paradigm that he does not see it. He is completely insulated from the reality the people in the US have to deal with daily.

It's time for a new paradigm, a new plan, a new model. Or better yet, let's dust off the old one. We know it works when it's allowed to.

Ted, give it up. Glib commentary in debates seems to be your venue. Perhaps you should go back to trial lawyering. Or maybe...maybe you would make a good ambassador to say Libya. Ya. that's it. Time to pack Ted.   

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Whole Trump Thing

In reference to Joseph Stalin and the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Winston Churchill famously stated, "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."

Churchill was siding with Stalin, the most ruthless dictator in history. Had Stalin been bombing the hell out of London, I'm sure Winston would have spoken favorably of Hitler's work. Such is the politics of our world. One man's dictator is another man's ally. It all depends on who is burning down your house.

Donald Trump is not burning down my house, but he knows who is and he speaks their names and points regularly to the guys with the torches. They are the western bankers, industrialist and politicians that seek to destroy our power by controlling the elements of the game. They have been trying to box us in with low wages, high taxes and fear for 30 years. The Donald is tired of it. Someone said he is one of them, but I don't think so. He has made and lost a lot of money because of them. He is not one of them. He has not paid his dues and joined their little club. He has rather, taken up the cause of the common man and invigorated us. His appeal crosses racial barriers. His words bring hope and a nationalist fervor not felt since VE Day. Unity of purpose may be at hand.

If he means what he says, things are gonna change.

Herein lies the debacle. The fear is now on them. For the first time since the 1960's, the established powers that be are scared shitless. They are running every possible gambit to find ways to deny the will of the people, castrate the power of the vote and install another president that will bend to their will. The moneyed power brokers of the GOP are working every possible scenario to bring Donald Trump down prior to the convention and general election. They are enlisting the help of the Democrats and established media. It's my belief that they will resort to the vilest chicanery to nullify the will of the American people.

For this reason alone, I support Donald Trump. He may turn out to be an awful president, a terrible politician that makes us all look bad and feel bad in the end, but right now in this hour, this one shining moment he is bringing fear to the empowered and entitled of the West.  Let them sweat if they can.

If he wins, I hope he arrests them all, confiscates their wealth and sends them to Gitmo for their crimes of terror against the American people.

I don't know if I will get my dream of abolition of the Federal Reserve or my dream of closing all our foreign military bases or my dream of high import tariffs and re-industrialization of the United States, but I would like to see an end to the dismantling and balkanization of my country. I would like to see an end to the endless wars. I would like to see the real perpetrators of 9/11 exposed. I am so tired of this pursuit of empire. We are Americans. We should oppose empires, not build them.

The world is a mess and it's because of US foreign policy, driven by Zionist money.

Christians, my own people, are completely deluded by all this. They believe Ted Cruz is the One, an evangelical, born again boy wonder.

Really friends? He's an Ivy Leaguer. He served in the Bush administration at the FDA. He met his wife Heidi there. She now works for Goldman Sachs and he is a US Senator supported heavily by the oil industry and some help from Heidi's bosses. Jeb Bushes brother Neil is now supporting him. He's as establishment as it gets. He will sell you down the river just like all the other establishment Republicans have done. Don't be stupid.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insane. Who says a good Christian would make a good president anyway? I'm not sure I believe that.

"Ya, well who says Donald Trump would be a good president?"

Not me. But I do believe he can be the one to take this hereditary monarchy and put it back in the hands of us real folks. The gravy train administrators in Congress need to go to. Donald, you need to be campaigning against them too. Shut down the government. No one ever notices anyway accept the bureaucrats.

Let's send them all home.

Friends in Florida and Ohio, we need you to be strong and do the right thing on the 15th. Say 'no more' to them all. Vote Trump OK? Sunshine and buckeyes for everyone next Tuesday. Let's wrap this thing up.            

An Interesting Organism

The church is an interesting bunch. I speak in the nebulous sense of those that claim to be part of the body of Christ across all the denominational, theological and political lines. More specifically, I mean those that believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead and rules His Kingdom from His Father's side.

We are from all walks of life, from every culture, every nation and every tribe on the planet. We have one thing in common. We are all sinners saved by His grace.

Many of us live on the knife's edge. We constantly push to the very limits of what is acceptable behavior for one of Christ's subjects. Sometimes our motivations for this are good. We want to seem like an attractive bunch to those in the world that need Jesus. On other occasions, we are believers that, out of fear of eternal condemnation, attend services and perform functions in our local congregation, but behave as though we never knew Him through the week. There are still others among us that are so wrapped up in our own sense of righteousness that we cannot bear being with actual sinners that do not know Jesus.

These are only some of the "types" that exist in a "believing church". Of the three mentioned here, I think the first group is the most interesting and has the greatest potential for kingdom success.

It's true that we are not to be of the world though we live in the world. It's true that we must fear God and serve Him, but that holy fear and faith should generate sanctification that translates into consistent behavior. Finally, we should not be so wrapped up in our pursuit of righteousness, that we shun those outside our faith communities and fear contamination. We are clean because Jesus made us clean from the inside out and not because we scrubbed ourselves clean with study and prayer.

What I am trying to say is that if we want to be successful for the Kingdom, we need to push the limits of grace while maintaining the truth in love. Condemning the outward acts of sinners will not win them for Jesus. Joining them in contradiction to our calling will not do this. But joining them as friends with a conviction about mercy, truth and justice might just win a few. Showing them the peace that comes with knowing Him and the stability that comes even in dark times can make them thirsty. Showing them that you are not opposed to a little fun also goes a long way.

Jesus liked a good party. I think of the wedding feast at Cana where He made the wine. I think of Him going to the houses of Zacchaeus and Matthew without fear and in good conscience, enjoying the party and delivering the truth. I also think about what He said when some wanted to condemn His participation.

To Zacchaeus He said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

At Matthew's house He told the Pharisees,  “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

We need to be out there among 'em. We need to ask them to join our party. We need to push the limits of traditional "Christian" behavior to bring people in. That might create some messiness in the local congregation. So be it.   

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Only Time I Ever "Looked Gay"

I am not what you would call obvious. You would probably not know I am same sex attracted just by talking to me for a few minutes. Maybe after we got to know each other you would figure it out, but I'm thinking you'd say, "naw, that can't be".

I think the only time I ever looked kind of gay was when I was in a friend's wedding. The bride was my friend who knew of my SSA status and ask me to stand up with her and her hubby in the ceremony. I obviously could not be a bride's maid. Too much equipment. But the groom was kind enough to let me stand with the guys. We all had these white tuxes on. I was the only guy that looked gay. I was the sore thumb.

I'm all ruffly pink and white. Geeze. I think there was only one other time that came close. I bought a powder blue suit for my college graduation and it made me seem a bit...pretty. Anyway, I have been more careful since then.  

It's Not The Same

This will not sit well with some, particularly among my Christian friends whom I love and am very glad to have in my life, but I need to say it, and you need to know it or at least consider that it might well be the truth.

Homosexuality is not like substance abuse, alcoholism, gambling addiction, greed, avarice, covetousness, malice, hate or whatever other sin that you want to name. It is hard wired into those of us that have to deal with it. We know the desire long before we ever participate in the behavior. It seems as natural as your desire is for the opposite sex. Further to the point, it is not all about the sex anymore than your marriage is. There is friendship, camaraderie and solidarity in these communities that goes beyond the mere search for a sex partner. It is a sexual desire and behavior common to many throughout the world, through history and across all cultures.

Alfred Kinsey, whatever you may think of him, had a scale of zero to six for Human sexuality.

0. Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual
1. Predominantly heterosexual, only incidental homosexual
2. Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3. Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4. Predominantly homosexual but more than incidentally heterosexual
5. Predominantly homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual
6. Exclusively homosexual.
The percentages for each category, 0 to 6, are broken out below under my last paragraph. You can choose to believe his research or not.

The source is here.

The overwhelming majority of humans are straight. There are about 4% of us that are 6's. This would be me if you are wondering. I have zero heterosexual desire. I like women. The best relationships I have had in my life have been with women. I just never wanted to have sex with one.

I guess my point here is that I never felt like I was given choice. Yes, I know behavior is a choice, but the desire that I have seems quite natural and at the risk of setting your teeth on edge, quite normal.

Back in 1977 and 1978 I had some fairly intense counseling that was designed to create a passion for the opposite sex. It involved hypnosis and something called 'visual imagery'. During hypnosis sessions I would rest the ring and middle fingers of my left hand on a biofeedback device that measured galvanic skin response  (GSR). I would be asked to concentrate on the buzzing sound the device made and reduce it through relaxation. I was very good at this. I could get very relaxed very quickly. During these periods I would would be asked to visualize heterosexual coitus while the counselor described it. I have to say that even though I was about as relaxed as a man could get without being asleep, I do not think I was ever in a hypnotic state. There was also the fact that the entire process kind of put me off. I did not trust my counselor (he was weird) and he was talking about things that, frankly, were kind of gross to me. Suffice it to say, it did not work.

I quit counseling in 1978. It was also in 1978 that I met Robert. We lasted about a year and a half. In 1979 I graduated and Robert and I went our separate ways. I should tell you all about Robert some time I suppose. Or maybe not. Some of you could not deal with it. Whatever. He was my first and my last. Ya, I know. I'm not dead yet, but I am just too tired so there will be no man but Jesus in my future. I really want to see Him.      

Kinsey summarized his findings (Kinsey et al., 1948:650-51) on the incidence of homosexual behavior among white males in the U.S. population in these words:

"37 per cent of the total male population has at least some overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm between adolescence and old age. This accounts for nearly 2 males out of every 5 that one may meet.

"50 per cent of the males who remain single until age 35 have had overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm, since the onset of adolescence.

"58 per cent of the males who belong to the group that goes into high school but not beyond, 50 per cent of the grade school level, and 47 per cent of the college level have had homosexual experience to the point of orgasm if they remain single to the age of 35.

"63 per cent of all males never have overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm after the onset of adolescence.

"50 per cent of all males (approximately) have neither overt nor psychic experience in the homosexual after the onset of adolescence.

"13 per cent of the males (approximately) react erotically to other males without having overt homosexual contacts after the onset of adolescence.

"30 per cent of all males have at least incidental homosexual experience or reactions (i.e., rate 1-6) over at least a three-year period between the ages of 16 and 55. This accounts for one male out of every three in the population who is past the early years of adolescence.

"25 per cent of the male population has more than incidental homosexual experience or reaction (i.e., rates 2-6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. In terms of averages, one male out of approximately every four has had or will have such distinct and continued homosexual experience.

"18 per cent of the males have at least as much of the homosexual as the heterosexual in their histories (i.e. rate 3-6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. This is more than one in six of the white male population.

"13 per cent of the population has more of the homosexual than the heterosexual (i.e., rates 4-6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. This is one in eight of the white male population.

"10 per cent of the males are more or less exclusively homosexual (i.e., rate 5 or 6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. This is one male in ten in the white population.

"8 per cent of the males are exclusively homosexual (i.e. rate a 6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. This is one male in every 13.

"4 per cent of the white males are exclusively homosexual throughout their lives, after the onset of adolescence."

Monday, March 7, 2016

God's Grace and His Truth

Yesterday in Sunday school we were talking about what I believed was the inevitable tension that exists between God's grace and His truth and how, if we allow that tension to become love, then the whole process is considerably less 'tense'.

Someone pointed out that grace and truth are not mutually exclusive in that God's grace is an integral part of His truth. This is brilliant as far as it goes, but when we allow one to define the other, we run the risk of moving toward total grace or total truth. Total grace allows all things, even things that fly in the face of virtue or compassion. Total truth is rigid, strictly defining what must be and excluding and condemning all things that oppose it.

So do we allow graciousness to over ride important truths about what God requires of us, what He expects from those that love Him? Are there in fact limits to God's Grace and compassion? If truth exists, then are we not compelled to say yes to that question?

This is a puzzlement. It is the tension. You can gloss it all over with love, but it is still very tense.

What then shall we say?

We have to find balance. Instead of searching for the limits of God's grace and how far out of the way we can push the limits of His truth, maybe we should just obey and bask in His glory.

There may well be limits to God's grace, but only He can define that and if these limits exist He never tells us about it in scripture. We are instead told about how much He loves us and what can happen to those that fail to observe the precepts of His truth. Those that persist in living in certain ways will not inherit eternal life. Jesus said this. Paul and Peter wrote about it. At the same time they all also spoke of God's preference for mercy and compassion and repentance.

At the root of this matter is God's sovereignty. He will do what He wants. He is God. He knows the hearts and minds of humanity and those that claim to be His possessions. He will take into account all things as He pursues us and we pursue Him.     

We cannot sin all the more that grace may abound and we cannot go "full pharisee" with His Word.

Children will test the limitations their parents place on them and their parents will apply the appropriate amounts of grace and truth as they see fit. So it is with our heavenly Father. Life's lessons can be difficult or easy. It all depends on our degree of submission to His will.

When Jesus was in conversation with Nicodemus as recorded in John 3, Jesus makes clear how God's grace, truth and love work together to save us who are willing.

1For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

So what are you saying Ghog? All I have to do is believe and I will enjoy God's grace and salvation and live in His truth? 

Well yes, but that belief, that faith has to translate to walking in the light and avoiding the evil deeds of the darkness. If your belief is the real deal, this will happen. Grace will cover the learning process.