Sunday, July 31, 2016

On Forgiving God

As most everyone is aware, Jesus was big on forgiveness. He wants to forgive us and He wants us to forgive each other. When Simon Peter asked Him how many times he should forgive his brother, Jesus was very direct. Matthew 18:21, 22 say,

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times."

Then in Luke 23:32-34, Luke writes,

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals - one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Jesus wanted us to forgive, even as He forgives. That's a tall order.

What Jesus never talks about though is forgiving God.

Blasphemy? Did you say that was blasphemy? Yes, I know. God is God. He does not sin. He is not capable of sin or sinning against anyone. Why would He need forgiveness, particularly from one of His creations?

Let me suggest that forgiveness may be required, even when sin is absent. Sin requires forgiveness, but so do misunderstandings, so do people that do the right thing though it may hurt others, so do people who act in ignorance.

Everyday, people are born into the world in various states of difficulty. Like Job, they seemingly suffer for no reason. Everyday natural disasters occur that wreak havoc on families and property. They destroy and they kill.

We sometimes ask, where was God? Where is God? Why does He not do something to stop all this needless suffering?

We do this because we do not understand. We do not get the bigger picture. We cannot see the forest for the trees. We do not have a God's eye view of the reality that He created and how it must work to achieve the maximum benefit. We are not God.

Our failure to fully grock His purpose will oft times make us angry or rebellious or worse, hopeless.

This is when we need to take advantage of what He taught us.

We need to forgive Him.

He is always faithful to forgive us. Why should we be so short sighted as to not accord Him the same privilege simply because we do not understand His purpose?

You may think I am way off base here, but I think there are many, both Christian and otherwise, that need to look to forgiving their creator for perceived injustices or bad creation management. Who are we to critique the Creator of the Universe?

We are in His hands, whether we realize it or not. We are His children. For the sake of family accord, let's forgive what we do not understand and move forward with Him. Someday we may know what we do not know now - or - better yet, we will not care.

Let's enjoy His love and deal with whatever reality we were dealt as best we can. When 'Forever' comes, I think we will all be glad we did.       

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Urban Dictionary Defines "Jeffery"

My thought here is that one should not use the Urban Dictionary when seeking a definition of one's name. I am shocked at what common parlance has relegated me to. "Jeffery" has almost become a swear word. I am really not any of the things below. You may have a different opinion.


Jeffery
A sweet, fuzzy, cuddly, bootylicious teddy bear.
Jeffery has a sweet booty!

Or

Jeffery
kind hearted spirit, who cares about all.
jeffery is someone thats sets something aside in order to help a friend.

Or

Jeffery
A player who likes to smoke weed and have sex a lot. He will be extremely nice until you fall for him then he will act like you never meant a thing to him.
Dude why are you being such a Jeffery?

Or

Jeffery
a drug cocktail in joint form consisting of, weed, angel dust, E, clorox, cocaine, and a few other choice ingredients.

Or

Jeffery
Another word for a 7 1/2 inch penis
Damn!! You got a Jeffery

Or

Jeffery
A romantic loose end that will negatively impact future relationships.

A social satellite that could re-enter your orbit as a dangerous asteroid at any moment.
So I was on a date, and that girl I had that awkward fling with was the bartender at the bar. She's such a Jeffery.

Or

Jeffery
the kind of guy to be cute and cuddly when he's drunk, but when he's sober he's a bastard that will never follow you back on twitter.
"don't be a jeffery right now"

Thursday, July 28, 2016

First Gay President?

James Buchanan was a one term President that served from 1857 to 1861. He was a confirmed politician and bachelor from Pennsylvania. He was briefly engaged to an heiress named Ann Coleman in 1819, but he appears to have been more interested in her money than her person. She committed suicide that same year. The thought of marriage to James must have been too depressing.

James Buchanan, left; J.R. King, right.


Fast forward to Washington.

Historian James W. Loewen has done extensive research into Buchanan’s personal life, and he’s convinced Buchanan was gay.
Loewen is the author of the acclaimed book “Lies Across America,” which examines how historical sites inaccurately portray figures and events in America’s past.
“I’m sure that Buchanan was gay,” Loewen said. “There is clear evidence that he was gay. And since I haven’t seen any evidence that he was heterosexual, I don’t believe he was bisexual.”
According to Loewen, Buchanan shared a residence with William Rufus King, a Democratic senator from Alabama, for several years in Washington, D.C.
Loewen said contemporary records indicate the two men were inseparable, and wags would refer to them as “the Siamese twins.”
Loewen also said Buchanan was “fairly open” about his relationship with King, causing some colleagues to view the men as a couple.
For example, Aaron Brown, a prominent Democrat, writing to Mrs. James K. Polk, referred to King as Buchanan’s “better half,” “his wife” and “Aunt Fancy … rigged out in her best clothes.”
In 1844, when King was appointed minister to France, he wrote Buchanan, “I am selfish enough to hope you will not be able to procure an associate who will cause you to feel no regret at our separation.”
Loewen also said a letter Buchanan wrote to a friend after King went to France shows the depth of his feeling for King.
“I am now solitary and alone, having no companion in the house with me,” Buchanan wrote. “I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”

Wow. That's kind of telling. I guess there really is nothing new under the sun.

Observations

This observation came by way of my neighbor down the road...

If Hillary Clinton is elected President, it will be the first time in history that two Presidents have slept with each other...probably.

If Donald Trump is elected President, it will be the first time  in history that a billionaire moves into public housing that was recently vacated by a black family.

I'm telling you, whoever wins this, we are in for a long, strange trip. The immediate future is not bright.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Putin and The Donald...Could it Be Love?


According to Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo.com :

Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin's increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there's quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.

Looks like a real issue here. American banks shut off the cash to Donald, so he goes to the Russian oligarchs closely tied to Vlad for cash. It makes sense. It makes one heck of a campaign issue for HRC to work. Who owns Trump? We thought no one owned him. Seems the evil empire has their hooks in him.

Don't get me wrong. I have admired Putin for awhile. He is the only one truly fighting ISIS. He is also fighting illegal immigration.  Obama's phony war against terrorism has been useless and he could care less about the invasion taking place stateside. The Caucasian world is under attack from all sides in Europe and the US and Putin is the only one fighting back. We could use that kind of backbone here in the US.

Even so, historically, what has been good for Mother Russia has not necessarily been good for Uncle Sam. It worries me. I'm not happy that HRC is in bed with the neocons and their wars of aggression in the middle east either. The reason all these Muslims are leaving their countries for Europe and the US is because the USA has left their countries in a shambles. As a  former US Secretary of State, Hillary is responsible for much of that mayhem.

In terms of foreign relations, we are screwed whether we get Trump or Clinton. We can't vote against both of them...darn it. Whatever happens, it's gonna be a real mess. Fun times ahead.       

9

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Managing Expectations

There are at least a couple of Rolling Stones songs that I have always appreciated. 'Satisfaction' and 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' come to mind here. I used to joke that these would be sung at my funeral. If you are someone that is perennially disappointed with the state of things, you would appreciate the intent of this music. Buyer's remorse is a common affliction in a consumer society such as ours and then there is the disappointment that comes after plans or intentions go awry. This is the worst...except for... when people let us down or when we perceive that this has happened. The things we expect from each other and the things we actually do are many times very different or are perceived that way. Some of this comes from a failure to understand one another or even bad communication. Some of it is a result of how much we care about what is expected. Mostly though, I think we always expect more than others have to offer. This is a failure to manage expectations. One person does not get what he wants; he expected much more than was offered. The other did not understand what was expected and offered something less than what was desired or something that was not desired at all. And there are some, especially in leadership positions in our world, that use expectations to manipulate and motivate or create covetousness or desire to promote themselves.

What I am saying is that we have to manage our expectations. As Mick Jagger informed me many years ago, we cannot always get what we want. Satisfaction will be elusive unless we manage our expectations. We will constantly be disappointed in everything; people, products, friends, family or even life will seem unsatisfactory.

I tend to be an idealist about some things, particularly spiritual matters. I have a 'vision' about how things should be. I have been constructing it in my mind for decades. I have written about it, talked about it and even taught it. I am genuinely shocked when people I respect disagree with it and I begin to suspect that maybe they are not as spiritual or as knowledgeable as I thought they were. Then I get angry when they embrace part of what I teach them and then do something that I see as a complete contradiction to my 'vision'.  

I fail to manage my expectations. Sometimes my expectations are unreasonable. There is also the possibility that I may be wrong.; oh...that hurt.

My friends are not the way I want them to be. They are just the way the are, as God made them. Who am I to be dissatisfied or disappointed? Who am I to disrespect them because I feel let down over something that I should not have expected in the first place?

I hope you see where I am going with this. What we want, what we need and what we get are often three different things. We have to deal with it and not become despondent or angry or judgmental as we do that. Manage your expectations and your relationships. Do so in love. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Withdrawal

It's an interesting word. It's what you do at a bank or it's when you're jones'n for another hit or it's when you deliberately separate yourself from from others. Context is everything when one is engaged in withdrawal.

My concern here is with the last definition. Withdrawal has always been what I do when I can't make life work. I separate from people and sometimes the people I need the most. It's never a pity party as you might think it would be. It is time to think, to re-access and to regroup. For me, it's time off from reality. Things happen in life that I do not understand or that I understand and get PO'd about. It's at this point that I become unpleasant. Ya, hard to believe, I know. Sometimes I overreact.

Late spring was like this for me. I had to run away for awhile. I'm still not quite right, but God has been watching over me through the process. I hope He will shake me loose from my mental stare here soon. He has sent a wide variety of people to my rescue me, or at least I have interpreted it that way.

I am at a point where I am deciding if I'm ready to rejoin the group or..or if I need to join another group. I might just need some more time in the desert too. The heat and severity of the desert often brings clarity.

Perhaps I should explain lest you think I'm being cryptic.

Is it time for me to resume my teaching career at church? A new quarter is approaching. Am I healed enough from my recent bout of apoplexy to serve without serving myself? The answer should be a 'no brainer' I suppose. For me, it's a confusion of fear and doubt with a major dose of pride and arrogance.

I'm still kind of crabby about things.

Then there is the withdrawal. This time, I mean I want another dose of what always and inevitably makes me feel so good. I just love teaching other Christians. The interaction of the classroom brings me joy like nothing else. I want it back.

Those who have a say in such things at church are ready I think. I guess I just have to figure out if I am ready.

Lord, I'm getting restless. I need you to help me get my groove back. There is stuff that needs doing and me doing it....right? Let me know in some way if You agree. Thanks for seeing me through this. I know I am one of your more difficult children. Please assign my stubborn heart a new task. I love you Lord. I look forward to hearing from You.                 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Family Time

Yesterday my Mom's side of the family got together at the club house of Griff's RV park. My cousin Joe and his wife did the cooking. Ribs, hamburgers and hot dogs with an assortment of pies and cookies prepared by everyone else. The BBQ'd ribs were particularly good. They were smoky, spicy and sweet all at once. Delicious.  There was a good group gathered for a hot day in July. We used to do this in December, but it made no sense when the weather was so bad. So it was Christmas in July. My mom's sisters and brother are pictured below along with Dad on the left.
Dad with Uncle Mike, Aunt Bev, Aunt Mary Ann and Aunt Fran
There were many other assorted cousins, second cousins and even some 3rd cousins. None are pictured here. Sorry. I will try to do better next time. A fun time was had by all.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Dilbert Truth


Odd That...

As a cultural observer, I find it amusing the way in which the habits of youth seem to trickle down to the older set and even to the elderly in the present age. It tells me that all wisdom is dying and that we learn nothing from the foolishness of our own youth or the silliness of our immaturity. In our dotage, we have tattoos needled to our hidden and not so hidden parts. We dye our hair unnatural colors of blue and green and magenta as if we were extras on the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We pierce our heads and other body parts in odd places that make certain activities more difficult if not impossible.

It's all just so stupid. My friends, we are old. We look silly when we try to look like the children of our time. And do you know what they will look like at our age? Like us if we were tattooed, pierced and dyed; a wrinkled, sagging mess of gray roots, flab and lack of muscle tone.

Is recapturing a misspent youth so important that we are willing to look ridiculous? Or are we so blind to our aging that we do not see what we have become when we look in the mirror? It's pathetic and I do not understand it.   

Age and seniority should be viewed as a crowning achievement. Instead we spend much time and money trying to hide our age and think it only to be infirmity and approaching death. We should be reveling in what we have learned, sharing it with the younger set and teaching them to prepare for the day. We need to stop living as youth simply because it is a youth culture. The days of "live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse' have passed I hope. When I die I want my body to be as used up as possible from life. Let there be a closed casket at my funeral because my remains are too ghastly, too scarred by age to be viewed by decent people. Or maybe just cremate what's left. I will certainly be done with it.

Friends, being old is good. Think of the things you have experienced and the things you have learned. It has been a rough ride. Now sit back and relax as your roller coaster car rolls into the station. Quit messing with the natural course of things. Only slaves have marked and pierced bodies. Leave it to others.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Election

Everybody on the right and left are clamoring about the unmitigated disaster that will occur if candidate A or B is elected and how this is the most importantist election ever.

I have one thing to say about that.

Piffle.

Is it not always this way? Are we not always on the precipice of disaster, doom, depression and gloom without any of them to save us? Piffle.

All of my life, during election time, we are told by candidates, media and political scientists that America's future sits on the razor's edge and that the future of our nation will be irreparably harmed if Joe or Jane Blow is elected president. I am so sick of it. They are like roosters and mad hens posturing in the chicken house over the state of the farm. They can make a real mess, but as long as the eggs keep coming, I don't care what they do.

Presidents are really as toothless as chickens whatever their political bent happens to be. They can do nothing without the cooperation of congress, the supreme court, the military and local and state governments. They have relatively little power even if they are great orators and leaders and can garner the support of even their political enemies. Most of them have been little more than opportunists seeking gain at the public expense by telling their supporters comforting things that they never intend to do anything about. What actually happens in the primaries, conventions and general elections has little to do with reality or the way they end up governing. Nothing gets done that cannot be reversed or even stopped. Presidents are really just figureheads that lead by the consensus of the  military-industrial complex. What we do in the voting booth has little relevance to actual governance. Instead we get power brokers attempting to extend the reach and control of those that actually rule and it is not the people of the United States.

I have not voted since 2008. Our votes are meaningless in my opinion. There is one bi-factional political party in this country all beholden to the same worldwide group of money/power interests that have been running the world since the early 20th century. These people are empire builders and their loyalty is not to the people of the United States or even the world. Their only interest is to keep what they have, build more wealth and gain greater control over the "slaves" and "useless eaters". In a world of robots, they will not even need us. Robots do not eat, they can be fixed and they do not vote or complain about long working hours or where they live or the miserable state of health care.

Trust me. When the time comes that the 'powers that be' no longer need us to create wealth, they will dispense with us post haste. If you do not believe me, Google the 'Georgia Guide Stones'. Their plan is right there in full view of the public. When the time comes, hope that you are necessary to their needs, because if you are not, you will be done. They think we are their property to be used or dispensed with. Whatever.

Perhaps you think that this is the paranoid ramblings of an old man or that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will help or protect you. I'm good with that. Live in ignorance. It might be easier. Let CNN or Fox or Rush Limbaugh or MSNBC dictate what you think and do. Be a tool for the Tools.

It's all piffle I tell you! Unplug. Disengage. Stand back and take a long look at the big picture. You will realize, as Barry Goldwater said, "in your heart, you know I'm right".

So what's important then? Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. Everything else is just piffle.

Now you may return to your hand wringing over politics. Good Day to you!              

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Hardest Chapter in Paul's Letter to the Romans

Paul's letter to the Roman church has to be one of his most difficult works. I say this from a personal standpoint. Maybe it's a piece of cake for you eh? If it is, you are missing something my friend. Go back and read it again. Study it. If you go away unconvicted, maybe you do not need salvation.

A little sarcasm and irony there.

I used to get hung up on chapter's 8 and 9 as I tried to apply Paul's advice to my personal life. I would ask, if "God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose", then why did He make me this way (9:20,21)? What I missed, failed to grock, did not understand was, "It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy" (9:16). I was consumed by what seemed to be the unfairness of it all. I still chafe a bit when I think about it. Never mind that all flesh is broken and corrupted by sin. That's not my fault. Why should my life be as it is? Are you telling me, if it wasn't this, it would be something else?

The answer to that is probably and unqualified 'yes'.

I have had to accept this. Regardless of who we are, the only way to God is through acceptance of His grace and mercy.

So what about the desire for what is sinful or out of line with God's will? I have sinful desires everyday. My worst is the desire to inflict my unrelenting will on others because I think I know what is right and I know you (whoever you are) are wrong. It is a sin, yet I revel in correcting the errors of others as if it's my divine purpose. Most of the time there is no love in it and there is a place and context for such activity, but I do not present it well and I derive way too much pleasure from it.

Odd no? And then there is the other stuff which I have talked about here and beaten to death and which stands in stark contradiction to my self righteousness. It sort of brings it all into focus and points to the undeniable fact I too need God's grace and mercy, that I too am in the wrong. Lord, that is painful. I hate to be wrong. I hate to admit it. Why is that? Why am I so loathe to seek Your mercy and grace when I need it and why will I not extend it to others? Heaven help me. May it never be.

And that brings me to Romans 12, the hardest chapter in the entire letter to this point. It sets the bar way high and I think maybe it's so we we will realize just how dependent we are on Him.

  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Now, my first thought is, how realistic is this? Jesus is all these things. He has been here and done it. We are supposed to be like Him as much as that is possible, but how much of this is possible?

What I find is that all of this is possible from time to time, but I can never get it all together at once and then live it consistently. What kind of a living sacrifice am I? Either I am transformed or I am not. Can I vacillate back and forth in a constant flux of transformation without missing the mark? Or is this merely the standard which I must apply as I depend on His grace and mercy for the rest of it?

This is a problem. Consistency is important. Why can't I be perfect? I want to be...I think.

I would guess you aren't there either. Right? So what do we do? Will it only happen after we are dead?

In my advanced years, I have concluded that yes, we will not become perfect until resurrection day. The flesh we currently occupy is corrupt and dying. We cannot allow ourselves to die with it so we must....must throw ourselves on the mercy of God's love. That process is outlined in chapter 12. It is difficult. More difficult for some than others, but it is the only way. It is not magic. It does not just happen. We have to participate in our transformation as we surrender our lives and wills to Him.

Surrender is the key. Submission is beyond the door. Everlasting life is in Him and His kingdom. This is the hardest thing when you are a bit self righteous like me. It has been my lifetime battle. I want to know and do His will, but I can't because mine is in the way. I'm not sure how you shift something that big. God will have to do it. I hope it does not hurt. Sacrifice can be painful.    
     

Sunday, July 17, 2016

God's Grace and The Irresistable Power of His Spirit

I witnessed the power of God's Spirit bring grace and healing to someone this morning in Sunday school. It was a beautiful thing. Many of us have walked alone with our burdens for a very long time and it is not easy to open up and talk about them or where we have been or what we have done or what we feel shame about.

For spiritual healing to become reality, we inevitably have to do this for ourselves and for those around us. The guilt must be removed or the healing process never completes itself. More importantly, our struggles are relevant for the healing and even instruction of others. We can go beyond sympathy to empathy in our spiritual battles. We relate. We have been there and we can help. God can and does forgive, but we have to forgive ourselves. Who are we not to forgive ourselves if God has forgiven us? Who are we to say that His grace is not sufficient? When we learn to forgive and love ourselves,  it's only then that we can learn to love others as Christ loves us.

Once accepted, God's grace is an amazing thing...just like the song. Often we think of His grace in terms of sin - the power of forgiveness or the power to resist. What I am coming to believe is that His grace is the power to be and do what He always wanted for us.

When the realization hits you that your sin is gone, your secrets are known and He and your brothers and sisters in Christ still love and accept you - the sky becomes the limit. You begin to break through to the other side and really live with and through Him. This is the sweet spot of faith. It is the place to be.

Paul put it this way in II Corinthians 12:7b-10

  Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

We all have some kind of thorn in the flesh as Paul calls it; something we do not talk about, that we are not proud of or that may cause us all kinds of emotional and mental anguish or even very real physical pain. 

We need to take it to the Lord and to our brethren and share it. We need to let Him heal us. We need to accept the grace God gives us and move forward as His new creations becoming what He always wanted us to be. We need to love ourselves and each other as His body on earth. His children. This is where we start to become effective for His kingdom.   

There are many inside of church culture today that do not get this. They have led sheltered lives for the most part and cannot relate to some of the suffering the rest of us have to go through. They do not always understand or empathize. I envy them their sheltered lives in some respects, but I thank God for using the events of mine to teach me and enable me to help other wounded warriors. Some of us have been willfully rebellious and angry sinners. Others of us came to despair over things which we had no control. Still others of us experience a mix of both. I would ask our sheltered brethren, please bear with us as we grow into what came so naturally for you. Stand by and watch as the miracle of God's grace unfolds before your very eyes. There are many of us out there. I think we out number you now. God is turning us into His Church. Think about the future. We are it!

May His Spirit watch over us and empower us as we move on toward eternity.

I love you Lord. Thanks for today. It was perfect!   

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Do You Hear His Voice?

John 10:25-30

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

It's an amazing thing. Throughout my entire life He has called to me in various and sundry ways - through life situations and events, through people and in my thought processes. In times when I was far away from Him I have sensed His presence. Looking back, I can see how He has watched over me, even in my willful rebellion, guilt and shame. 

I am a believer. I cannot help but be so. He has a hold on me and I can't break it. I have tried. I know as surely as I once had red hair that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I hear His voice through His word. I hear it in the lives of my brothers and sisters in His church. I see His grace played out in my life and the lives of the newbies to the family of God. His existence is proven through the transformation He brings to His people. Jesus sets people free. All it takes is a little faith. 

All of that brings me to this. If you are a believer and you are feeling insecure for whatever the reason, you should not. Take some personal inventory and go to Him in prayer. He will help you get your mojo back. If you are not a believer, but you have an interest in Him, Take a look at His word. Read the gospel of John. Read the gospel of Matthew. Learn about Him and His teaching. It is an incredible thing. Find a group of believers and ask questions. Pray to Him. Then, if you want to know what to do, read the book of Acts. It will tell you what you must do to join us who love Him. He is waiting to hear from you right now.    

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Free

There are things in life that oppress our spirits. They burn at our very souls. We are tormented by them. They can be physical, they can be emotional, they can be spiritual or they can even incorporate all three worlds, making a normal life seem impossible, whatever normal is.

At the root of it though is always something spiritual. Many refuse to recognize this.

I have known many people that have faced varying degrees of challenge in their lives that went from the oppression I speak of in the first paragraph to total and consistent joy. The joy did not come from resolution to their oppressed states. It came from outside themselves, from interacting with others and pointing themselves toward God and more directly, Jesus Christ.

Do you want to be free? Seek Him out.

Luke 13:10-13 
10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, Woman, you are set free from your infirmity. 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

John 8:34-36
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

We are oppressed regularly by our common enemy. He can create physical, emotional and spiritual anguish that seems impossible to overcome, and it would be were it not for Jesus. We are not alone in our journeys. We need to take advantage of what our Fellow Traveler has to offer. He can set us free from so much, take us to spiritual heights that we have never reached and enable us in ways we have never been able.

He wants us to be free from whatever is binding us, keeping us down or keeping us from becoming what He intended for us to be. The possibilities become endless once we are free to consider them. 

Also, I would offer a warning to those seeking the freedom Christ offers. Do not be fettered by well intended brethren that want to shackle you in other ways. Refuse to be contained by their rules and regulations. Follow only what was originally set down in scripture and express your freedom as you are led by the Spirit. Be truthful with God and His people about who you are, about what you think and feel. If God wants to change you or them, He will. 

Break free and grow. Become part of God's Royal Priesthood and not mere sheep to be herded about by the control freaks. Live as Christ intended. The sin is Gone. He took it away. Only victory lies ahead. Let's live that way. Let's be free.    

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Carl Sagan Said...

He often got things wrong in my view, but the statement below is right on the money. It's why there is a Donald Trump and establishment Republicans cannot figure out why. It's why there is a Hillary Clinton and we cannot get rid of her, even when she clearly violated the Law. It's why we have Bernie Sanders, who is now bending over backwards to support his nemesis. The world is a mess and it's because of ignorance.



I'm A Bit Wordy

I just took a vocabulary test. Seems I'm a bit wordy. I would apologize but I like it. Here's how I did below. Not bad eh? Here's the link. Go take the test. http://www.arealme.com/vocabulary-size-test/en/

Your English Vocabulary Size is:
29975★★★ Top 0.12%HighLow
★★★ Top 0.12%
You are Shakespeare! You can even create new words that will expand the English dictionary.

Monday, July 11, 2016

I Have Become All Things To All Men

Yesterday's sermon came from I Corinthians 9:19-27. The preacher can correct me if I am wrong, but the basic thrust of the homily seemed to be, "do not disqualify yourself from the prize or discredit the Christian message by your own behaviors". 
 
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul always did what he had to do get his message out, save people and set up new churches. He would try to relate to people in their own cultural setting, which was many times sinful in Judeo-Christian terms. It was a difficult task at best. He would, many times, anger his own people, the Jews, as he brought them the Word and I can think of at least once that his work caused a riot among the Gentiles - that was in Ephesus. So while he tried to become all things to all men, he was not always successful, at least in the short term.

He was a tower of self discipline. I am sure that his upbringing and education as a Jew and Pharisee was very helpful in this regard. He learned how to say 'no' to his own flesh from an early age and obey God's law. His skills at self discipline are at least partially responsible for his success. And self discipline is definitely a learned skill. Many people do not have it or ever learn it.

But Paul also had something the rest of us do not enjoy. He had the Holy Spirit's power in his life in a way that we cannot understand. It enabled him, in ways, supernatural, to be able to convince people of the truth and also behave himself. It made him the preaching and teaching machine that the church needed in it's infancy. 

I guess what I am trying to say is, were it not for Jesus and His power in Paul's life, Paul would have amounted to nothing from a Christian perspective. Jesus Himself had to intervene in Paul's life to change him from being a legalist Jew to loving Christian; from being a persecutor to preacher. As Saul, Paul had a big sin problem. He was one of the most self righteous men that ever lived.

Of all the things that can detract from your walk with Christ, your witness to others and can disqualify you from receiving the prize as Paul puts it; the one thing that stands out among all other sins is self righteousness. It is the behavior that blinds us to all other truth because we are convinced there is no other truth than our own and everything else is a lie. It creates an entitled smugness, a superiority complex and a desire to lord it over others, whatever 'it' may be. I understand this because I suffer from it. I also understand it because I have been mistreated by other self righteous people. It is a common and also deceitful sin.

It is easy to lean back in your pew or pulpit and be critical of the behavior of others that you do not know or know well. What's hard is empathizing with their behavioral struggles, maybe inviting them to church or even lunch or coffee. 

We can become Jesus to others or we can become Saul of Tarsus.

"I am righteous and you are not" is the attitude we need to avoid. How about, "I am a believer. Let me tell you what I believe in." Show them the righteousness that comes from God. It's the only thing that will change behavior.    

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Jeffery's Angels

I had dinner tonight with my good friends, Karla and Rhonda and Billie. We have a past together. We all grew up in the same church. We know the same people and we are related to them in strange ways through blood and association. We talked about many of them. We all went to Johnny's Italian Steakhouse over by Bass Pro in Altoona. We dined alfresco by the lake which I found myself wanting to fish. I also wanted to troll the wait staff. There was a couple of cute ones, but I behaved myself  as always. I think one of them might have been Mr Right, but they were waaaaaaaaaaaaaay to young for me. Back to self control...now...I seem to digress....
Looks kind of like and old man and his daughters. I told the waiter I was Mormon and these were my wives. He laughed, probably because he needed the tip. Dinner was good. I had the Parmesan encrusted steak and shrimp with broccoli and a couple Fire Trucker IPA's to drink (brewed in Ankeny, Iowa).  Rhonda had the same with asparagus and ice tea. Karla had the prime rib and baked potato plus water with a lime wedge and Billie had some kind of pasta with salmon and a Blue Moon. It was a lot of fun. 

I think we are going to the Fair in August. I already can't remember the date. Fortunately Billie put it in my phone for me. I hope that getting old is going to be like this. They all promised to come to my funeral. They are my angels after all. 

There were a couple of Angels missing. You know who you are. Someday maybe all 5 of us? I don't know. I think we need matching T Shirts.  

One last pic of my sisters in Christ. Love and help in places I did not expect. Thank You all for being my friends. Maybe we can all gum down some cotton candy at the fair (;^)))))))))))))))))))))))) I love You!
 That waiter in back looked suspiciously like Clark Kent.

A Week of Weirdness

It's been an odd week. Aside from the holiday, I have had two people missing at work this week in addition to two we've been trying to replace for 7 months and then I had my melt down night before last as I slept. I am glad to report that I slept well last night. I am also looking forward to dinner with my peeps tonight. That should bring some cheer back to Jeffery's dull life. (I speak of him as if he were not here.)

Actually, I'm hoping that dinner tonight will be the start of something monthly. It should be fun. I will be the only guy. Three women and me. I think we should look to expand the group further. No other guys but me though OK? I want to be the harem eunuch...the odd man out. I usually am that anyway.

I have to go pick up a prescription for Dad here in a few, then I think I will go for a walk. If God is going to talk to me, that's when it usually happens. I need to hear from Him. I'm still feeling a bit lost. The light is getting dim. Going to church tomorrow should help too. Usually does. I am so grateful to have such a place. It has much potential to become even more special than it already is. It has changed much since my youth. It has become much more graceful and open, but there is also a commitment to truth that I dearly love. If you are a Christ seeker, it is a good place to be. It's a place where they will listen as well as advise. This is the part I love. I hope to be teaching again in the fall quarter if it's allowed. My summer off is proving to be fun too though. I've been making new friends. Ya, I thought that was amazing too.

I will try to get a pic or two of tonight's festivities for the blog. I will post it here with permission (or maybe I won't ask). Sometimes it's easier to ask for forgiveness then it is to ask permission.

One final note. I hope Eric and Melissa and Kiley and Tucker got moved to Joplin safely. I'm still not sure why anyone would move to Joplin, but apparently they know why, so may the Lord bless their efforts and their new home.

I'm in one of my "I love everybody" moods today. I never used to have those. The Lord is changing this old man's heart. I will blog you later!

I think I will name our little group this evening...how about Jeffery's Angels? No? Oh come on.       

Friday, July 8, 2016

Mr Right

James 1:2-5
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

I don't know about the 'pure joy' part of this yet, but I can tell you that testing does produce perseverance. It can also create cynicism. Why so many tests, when will I be done, how much longer before I pass muster? It all seems like one life long test to me. 

Do you follow what I'm saying? Do you get what I'm puttin down?

Persevering can make you tired, but you dare not sleep. Even your dreams become tests. Wrestling with God and His supernatural opponent can just wear you out, especially when you are sleeping. You see, Mr Right entered my dreams last night. I did not recognize him, so apparently we have not met yet, but he was hot, he was nice to me. He liked me. We wrestled. It's my favorite thing. Damn. It's not fair.  I hope he is just a figment of my slumbering imagination and not a real man. I will fall hard. If he exists, I pray the Lord kill him before I meet him. Save both of us the pain. You know, it's one thing to tease me when I'm awake. I can deal with that, but where do you escape to when you're asleep? I woke up a wet, hot mess. It was over. I pray it never happens again. There was some joy in it, but it was of the earthly, fleeting variety. I best not discuss it. Rough night. It was like being a teenager all over again. I'm 58 and I still have all my kinks in place. My thorn in my flesh was briefly infected.     

Can anyone tell me when Satan will leave me alone forever? Do I have to be dead and in heaven for a week? Being old is supposed to insulate me right? It's not working. Please pray I get real sleep tonight. Lord, send an angel. Drive him away from me, my house, my family, my work and my Brothers and Sisters. Please no more tests for awhile. I am not up to it.    

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Not Very Good At Being Gay - A Brief and Somewhat Cynical Synopsis.

I am not ashamed of this. You probably would not even figure it out right away unless you were like me - same sex attracted. I am not what many would classify as obvious. I suppose I do have certain 'tells', but unless you were paying attention, you would probably miss them. Other gay and same sex attracted people seem to catch it right away, but it's like they are not sure, so they don't bring it up or they do not want to discuss their own predilections, so why discuss it at all. Whatever.

I am not very good at being gay. I do not enjoy shopping, dancing, Judy Garland, high fashion or home decor. I could not decorate a grave appropriately. I dress comfortably, with absolutely no flair or coordination. I wish all my clothes were blue or black. Give me jeans and a tee shirt any day of the week.  And I  could care less about the latest pop stars. I do like show tunes, but I hate musicals. I am not what you'd call a gym bunny either. I am not obsessed with physical fitness. I really have no reason to stress about my looks. They are gone. No one looks at me anymore, except the occasional merry widow or divorcee that has not figured out that Jeff is not the man we thought he was. Go figure.

It all means nothing to me. I do not socialize outside of work or church with anyone that might be gay. There are some undeclared same sex attracted people at both places, and while we seem to know about each other, we don't care. I am the most boring gay man alive I think. I do not have gay sex. I do not have a boyfriend. I do not have sex at all. That definitely makes me the most boring gay man alive. Since about the age of 22 it has been this way with me. I'm almost 59 now, so you do the math.  This is not to say that I do not occasionally entertain the idea of finding a man about my age and settling down for those senior years. If I ever did such a thing, it would be a sexless, roommate kind of thing. A good friend for non physical entertainment and companionship. Finding such a man in my advanced years would be unlikely. Gay folks don't normally live this long. Besides, I currently live with an old man (my Dad) and it's not all it's cracked up to be. Just sayin'. 

Strangely, I am not as lonely now as I once was. I think age enters into it. Maturity. Enjoyment of solitude. I am also an introvert in most respects. Until recently, I have always been a very private person. Coming out at church changed that quite a bit. I have more friends now than I did previously. I'm not sure why. It might be that I feel more comfortable around people now that my secret has been told in such a public way. Whatever the case, my life is better than it was 8 months ago.    

Which brings me to this...

I seem to have girlfriends now and particularly at church and in the Christian world. There are women at church that never spoke to me until they learned I was a non-threatening male. Suddenly it was OK to talk to Jeff, to be his friend, to sit down over coffee and talk. I am OK with this. I like women. Some of my best friends have been and are women. They need to know right away though, I will not go shopping with them. If they're up to some fishing, that would be good. I would even go to a movie or dinner or both, but what you see is what you get. I am SSA. Short of a miracle, that will not change until I shuffle off this mortal coil to freedom. If I don't cut the cholesterol, that may be sooner than I think. Again, whatever...

Anyhow...in the gay world, gay men usually have a number of girlfriends. Call them what you like, in the gay world, they get branded as 'fag hags'. I kid you not. Some women will wear the tag like a badge of honor. Others are insulted by it and maybe they should be. I do not consider ANY of my women friends hags. I love you all for various reasons. Thanks for being there for me; helping me to get through this life with some company.

Most of the time, straight guys are wary to befriend a gay man, especially the older ones. I can deal with that. I understand. You think us SSA's look at you in the same you look at women...ya, you know what I'm talking about, and it disgusts you. It probably should, but most of us are not predators after straight men. Believe me, you are safe. The only thing that might make you unsafe is if you were not sure who you are. That might telegraph something else. Whatever the case, you will be safe around me. I am not interested. I know that's hard to believe. Trust me, I'm not. Old married guys are more boring than I am. Maybe that's a stereotype. I don't care.

Today, being gay is a younger man's job. Let me offer you young homos some advice. If you want to live to get old, you will need to stop 90% of what you are doing. That may be an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. If you're not going to give up the sex, at least protect yourself and quit sleeping around so much. No drugs. Moderate your alcohol use if you must drink at all. Settle down and get married...that's legal now. It's not got God's approval, but the state will OK it.

Surprised to hear me say that? Don't be. If someone is not a believer, who am I to deny them a legal choice? If they become a believer, we can deal with that at the appropriate time. We all make choices and we will all stand before the same God one day.

I'm not sure why I needed to talk about all this and I'm sure some of you are wondering too. I guess I will figure it all out later or someone else will tell me why. Y'all can be so helpful. In the meantime, enjoy the picture below in the spirit intended.

      

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Rising Strong

     MANIFESTO OF THE BRAVE AND BROKENHEARTED

By Brene Brown

There is no greater threat to the critics
and cynics and fearmongers
Than those of us who are willing to fall
Because we have learned how to rise.
With skinned knees and bruised hearts;
We choose owning our stories of struggle,
Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.
When we deny our stories, they define us.
When we run from struggle, we are never free.
So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.
We will not be characters in our stories.
Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.
We are the authors of our lives.
We write our own daring endings.
We craft love from heartbreak,
Compassion from shame,
Grace from disappointment,
Courage from failure.
Showing up is our power.
Story is our way home. Truth is our song.
We are the brave and brokenhearted.
                                        

The Why of Suffering

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (1 Cor 4:5)

18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Cor 10:18)

29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. (Romans 2:18)

44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)

  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-8)
You may think you suffer unnecessarily by circumstances you have no control over. You may feel cursed by God and unduly burdened by you life situation. You might even feel oppressed by what seems natural to you since resisting it is so hard. Let me offer another perspective.

You are being refined for Glory. You are being prepared for The Day. Try remembering this next time you whine to God about your plight and thank Him for His work in you. You are precious to Him and he wants nothing short of full restoration for you prior to your arrival before Him.

Seek His Glory in the midst of trial and temptation and even failure. It will prepare you. Let Him use these things to make you what was intended from the beginning. Praise His Name for the work He does in our lives. Amen.

Bob Newhart-Stop It

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Duck Says...


Old and Gay and Christian

I never thought I'd see 59 years old, but it's coming up here in the fall. That's like 117 in gay years in case you didn't know. In terms of the One True Faith though, I'm just barely out of the womb; a babe in the arms of Jesus; a place I find safer than any place I have ever been. I'm His little brother you know. He adopted me when I was 14. The weird thing is that He took me in with full knowledge of who I would be, the things I would do and the places I would go. He loves me like no other has loved me. I do not know why and I used to wonder, but no more. He is my Lord, my God and my brother all at once. I think I could die for Him and not regret it. He has deepened my shallowness and my resolve. He has taken my stubbornness and turned it into something useful and He uses my desire to draw me closer. I would be utterly without hope or solace without Him. He is mine and I am His. Just let someone try to separate us. Not gonna happen.

I was gay before I was Christian. Even though I grew up in the church, becoming a believer was not automatic for me. There has always been the specter of rebellion in my life. I have always been self willed; one that does not submit easily to the authority of others and most especially when I believe they are wrong. It has always been my MO to couch my rebellion in what I think is righteousness, albeit self righteousness. One spends much time alone when this is one's attitude. Normal people draw away from you and the unrighteous just want to slug you. It is a strange mix for a  Christian man that is also SSA.

I used to think how odd it was that I should have in me this sense of self righteousness and also this same sex attraction. Then there is my faith. Even after I learned about the utter sinfulness of both attitudes and desires, I continued in my belief that Jesus is the Messiah.

I was (am) a bundle of contradictions. What I realize now - as Paul said - is that all these things are working to God's glory and ultimately mine. Only the utter sinfulness of my desires could temper my self righteousness. Only my faith would have made me able to see that. Only through the these three things working together would I learn compassion for others who struggle in this life.

And I'm sure some of you are thinking, "how is this tempering him? He still seems to be a mean, compassionless and aloof old codger."

There is an element of truth here, but it all would have been much worse were it not for Jesus. He is changing me even now.

Sometimes in our efforts to be compassionate and empathetic, we become door mats. We want to help people. There are those that think we should help them too. Sometimes the best help that you can give people is help they are not looking for. I have a fairly new 'friend' whose life is a mess. He is especially challenged financially, but he also struggles with SSA and anger about being SSA and depression and ADHD and..and..and.

His car got repossessed last week. Strangely, even though he had been avoiding me, he felt the need to contact me and apprise me of his situation. I found myself sympathizing with his plight, but I knew that sending him money was not the answer to his issues. He needed to step up and man up to his situation and deal with it responsibly. I did ask him how I could help short of sending him cash. Seems that nothing else was going to cut it. He was not interested in deepening a potential friendship. He needed money to solve his immediate issue. My thought was, "how many times have you been in this place and done this very thing?"

I refused to be his enabler.

I was not very nice about it. Some might say I was unnecessarily self righteous about the whole thing. Even so, he needed some truth. At his age (60), he needs to be living differently. His life is what it is because, like Blanche Du Bois, he has always been dependent on the kindness of strangers. My advice to him, since his work hours had been cut, was to take on a part time job.

After a day and a half of emails and texts, he told me to piss off in a most graphic way.

OK. I'm good with that. I wonder how long it will be before he is in this situation again. He told me that a 'friend' had given him the money he needed. I can't help wondering what he had to do for it.

I want to be beholden to no one except Jesus Christ. I do not want to be anyone's burden but His. Is there anything wrong with this attitude? Should I have given this 'friend' what he needed? Or was it just me being self righteous? I am still of the opinion that the only way to stop a behavior is to stop it. I know all too well how hard this can be to accomplish. I feel his pain, but I also know his lack of resolve and the intensity of mine. I am sure I was right in this. What do you think?  

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4, 1966

It was a Monday. I was 9 years old and it was the 4th of July. I was where I had always been on the 4th; with my best buddy, my friend, my caretaker when Dennis and Laurie weren't there. I was with Grandpa.

Lloyd Brady was an interesting man. He was a Christian, a husband, a farmer, a church elder, a parent and a grandparent. He was a Republican and a trustee in Four Mile Township. He was also a bit of a child at heart which made him the perfect grandfather.

Every year he would take me to the 4th of July parade in Altoona, Iowa. Just me and Gramps. We would park and then walk what seemed like miles and then stand on the street in beautiful downtown Altoona as the flags, bands, American Legionnaires and Shriner's passed by. Candy would be handed out and the Shriners would arrive, befezed and in cars of the same make and color, normally convertibles. One year they all rode minibikes. Some on foot would have a small wagon in tow that had a cannon in it firing pop corn into the crowds. I always backed up on the sidewalk when that happened because the old maids would smart like a bee sting when they hit you. It was all controlled pandemonium. A good time was generally had by all.

After the parade, there was the picnic in the park. Hotdogs would be consumed. There would be much talking. Lloyd would talk to anybody and then talk about them afterward. It was always humorous. Once lunch was processed, we would head to the battleground. The fight was always interesting. Two fire departments (always Altoona and Mitchellville) would gather on the field of engagement; pumpers at the ready. A cable would be stretched between two poles diagonally across the field with a beer keg on a pulley suspended from it. Fire hoses would be connected to the pumpers and dragged out across the open lawnscape. The opposing firemen would man their hoses and then it would begin.

Using their hoses, they would aim the water spray at the beer keg in attempt to drive the keg into their opponent's territory and the end of the cable. This was an art form in many ways. A pumper truck would only hold so much water, so you had to control the spray and still achieve your goal before you ran out of water. Sometimes Altoona won. Sometimes they didn't. Sometimes the firemen would get pissed off at each other. If your team was not winning, many times it would be necessary to hose down you opponents. All was fair in the battle of the keg. Even so, I don't think there was ever a fist fight. And the contents of the keg was later enjoyed by both teams.

After the keg wars, I would go back to the farm with Lloyd. There would be naps and supper (heavy on the sweetcorn) and then some fireworks. This last item was illegal in Iowa, but Gramps was regularly in Missouri and he would always pick some up at one of the border stores. There were never any big display items, but there were always bottle rockets and M-80's (which seemed more like dynamite) as well as the smaller firecrackers. It was fun. Lloyd knew how to entertain a grandchild. He also taught me much in regard to life in general. He taught me how to work, which might explain why I have never been unemployed. He was, to me, what the 4th of July is all about, being a free Christian, American in a dangerous world. I miss him.                

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Andrew Peterson: "The Chasing Song" (Carried Along)

Dad is Foundered

I was trimming Dad's toenails this morning after a soak in the Dr. Scholl's foot tub. The soak softens them up and makes them easier to cut. It was a little like working on a neglected horse. Picture this, but as an old man instead of a horse.
This old horse probably needs a trip to the podiatrist.
Dad was definitely on his way to being foundered. He should probably be going to the podiatrist too. Toenail work is kind of gross when I have to do my own. His should probably be tended to by a professional. His toes are curled and bent with arthritis and that misshapes his toenails. It's all kind of gross and crumbly.   

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Incongruity Defined

There are some things that just do not go together. Here might be two of them. I know He said,
  “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
But is this what He had in mind? I don't think so. 

240 Years

It's been 240 years since those middle class, white, mostly Christian, male colonists put their names to that traitorous document called "The Declaration of Independence" at the The Old State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia. They were an eclectic group of free thinkers and Christians that were heavily influenced by enlightenment era European writers and philosophers. The Christians among them were a bit skeptical of enlightenment thinking as well they should have been, but the influence of human reason and logic over the affairs of men would rule the day and so they all signed this document of rebellion.

The notion that government exists at the the behest of the governed was a new one to be sure. Some saw this as at contractual matter that hearkened back to the the English Magna Carta. Others tried their best to make it a biblical idea. The first paragraph of the preamble to the Declatation says it all.

    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.

When Jefferson wrote these words, he was doing his best to influence his Christian friends in the 2nd Continental Congress to sign on to this treason against George III. To do this, he had to make this rebellion against the King something that would seem OK with God in the eyes of the Christian colonist congressmen. Scripture expressly forbids rebellion against the ruling authorities (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2)  except under very specific circumstances, so it became necessary to portray the King as being in defiance of God. If the King was in rebellion against God, the Christian colonists would be justified in rebelling against the King.

To do this, Jefferson created a philosophy that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights given by God. He drew heavily on enlightenment philosopher John Locke and the Bible for his logic. Supposedly, the 10 Commandments of the Hebrew Law given to Moses by God had, implicit in them, these inalienable rights. Jefferson had to turn these 10 regulations on their heads to get human rights out of them, but he did this nonetheless and with great effect.  

Jefferson's logic was that "thou shalt not kill" meant a right to life; "thou shalt not steal" meant a right to property and so on.

That this was never the intention of the Almighty, did not phase Jefferson. His purpose was to free the colonies from the tyranny of George III and England.

The 10 Commandments, in their context, were meant to outline responsibilities to God by His covenant people. We do not murder, because God gives life and takes it. We do not steal from our neighbor because God gave these things to our neighbor. We do not covet what our neighbor has because it was God that gave them what they have and so on.

The reality of it is that all of Jefferson's arguments for rebellion and independence were wrong.

We are not all created equal. We are not all endowed with unalienable rights by our Creator and we were not justified in rebellion against the King.

We are all different AND VIVA LA DIFFERENCE! Differently enabled, different levels of intelligence, talent, motivation etc. We are not all equal in any sense. We are not even equal before God.

We only have the rights we take and secure for ourselves and sometimes by force of arms. God does not give rights. He is no respecter of persons. Evidence for this is history itself. If these things were God given, no rebellion would have been necessary.

The hypocrisy laden in the Declaration is deep and thick. Most of those gathered in Philadelphia that day owned other human beings as slaves or indentured servants, not that there is anything wrong with that. What Jefferson really meant in that first paragraph of the preamble is that all white male property owners are created equal. That was not true either, but it got the attention of the colonists. It was enough to get a bunch of Christian men to rebel against their king.

The rest is history as they say. I would not be sitting here now typing this had they not done this deed or maybe I would be sitting here typing with a British accent or in French or Spanish. Who is to say?

I do think that God has blessed our nations efforts in some respects. We do try to right our wrongs after we commit them. Other times we just make a mess. Whatever the case, I am glad to be an American even though it takes second place to my citizenship in the Kingdom of God.  

I would close by saying, do not get all caught up in patriotism like it was some sort of divine calling. It's not. Nations come and go. What the future holds for the US is anyone's guess. I'm guessing civil war and the break up of the union. We will see. I will probably be dead when it happens. Just remember:

This world is not our home
We are just a passin thru
Our treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
Jesus beckons us from heavens open door
And we can't feel at home in this world anymore.

See ya in church!