All but one

Last Friday night I stood on the sidelines of the Granite High School football field awaiting the start of the game between Flint Creek and Charlo. Vikings fans seemed at ease and ready to play as they talked about their chances in the contest. I’m sure Titans fans did much the same on the opposite side of the field.

When the announcer came on the public address system, he welcomed everyone to the field and then asked that everyone rise for the national anthem. Everyone did.

Everyone … except one.

But this man wasn’t protesting or trying to make a statement. He was handicapped.

He sat as straight and tall as his body would allow. But for him, standing wasn’t an option. So he did the best he could with what he had to honor flag and country.

Colin KaepernickI have to admit that I’ve had a hard time with the protests that San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick started during the NFL preseason. In my view, I don’t see Kaepernick truly drawing attention to the issue which he claims to be so passionate about. The ONLY discussion I hear being had is whether or not he has the right protest in the manner he’s chosen. His cause of black oppression in the United States is rarely mention and lost in the noise of people offended by his actions.

My problem with Kaepernick is that he has shown very little “skin in the game”. Last week Kaepernick said he would donate the proceeds from his jersey sales (which are currently soaring) to charity. Which charity he failed to state. But as of late August, Kaepernick had made zero donations to Black Lives Matter or any other such cause. He has not stated plans to start any such organization himself or become part of one that already exists.

Personally I find Kaepernick to be the chicken in the old joke about who was more involved in breakfast. The chicken contributed to the meal, but the pig was completely invested in it.

I was dismayed when I initially heard that the Seattle Seahawks were going to act as a team and not stand during the National Anthem during their season opener Sunday against Miami. But evidently calmer heads prevailed, coming up with the idea to remain standing and interlocking arms to show their support.

I think that decision showed the proper respect for everyone involved.

Let’s hope others take note.

The real question of Kaepernick’s dedication to the cause he has expressed interest in is when his career in the NFL ends. Anyone who follows the league knows that it won’t be long before he is off the 49ers roster. And his performance in the last few years won’t likely get him a spot on another team. And if that’s the case, then you just have to wonder what his next move is?

If the contract goes away, will his fiancé leave him? They were engaged just a few months before these shenanigans and is a devout Muslim and Black Lives activist.

Will he join a cause and back up his sit down with a stand up attitude?

Will he create his own movement if one doesn’t really address his cause? Heaven knows with a net worth of around $100 million, he should be able to manage something.

Or will he just be the spoiled little rich guy and fade into the shadows never to be heard from again, except for possibly a brief mention on Sports Center for some misguided action.

Only time will tell just how committed Colin Kaepernick really is. I’d like to hope that it is more than what we are seeing now, which isn’t saying a lot.

How to sync your Facebook Calendar with Google Calendar

NOTE – From the Blog BufferSocial.com, a great tip to help you keep all of your Facebook events synced with your daily life.

 

If you’re looking for a way to get all of your events in one place, this is it. Syncing your Facebook Calendar will help you stay in sync with all of the events from your favorite groups. And when you use the Google Calendar app on your smartphone, you’ll have all of your appointments right at your fingertips.

How to sync your Facebook Calendar with Google Calendar

I find this one is extremely helpful. My calendar is like my personal assistant, and I use it to plan and organize both my work and social schedules.

If you use both Facebook events and Google Calendar, combining the two is amazingly useful and pretty simple. Here’s how to do it:

Head over to Events on Facebook, and click on one of your ‘Upcoming events.’ Once you’re on the event page, click on the ‘Options’ button and select ‘Export Event’ from the dropdown, as shown below:

export-event

Next you’ll see the below lightbox popup. Here you’ll want to copy the URL under ‘Subscribe to all upcoming events on your calendar.’

save-url

Once you’ve copied the URL, open up Google Calendar and on the left-hand side you’ll see an option called ‘Other Calendars.’ Click on the drop down next to ‘Other Calendars’ and choose “Add by URL” as shown below.

Once the lightbox opens up, insert the URL you copied from Facebook and your Facebook events will now sync with Google Calendar.

google-calendar

When the worst choice seems like the best

Note – What you will read below may, in some instances, become slightly graphic and I will use personal examples. If these depictions bother you, or if you knew Ellen Louise Allen, you may want to refrain from reading further.

 

We still don’t know why.

We likely never will.

January 13, 2016 my sister, Ellen Louise Allen, took her own life. And like many of those affected by this kind of action, we are left wondering what we could have done to stop it. What we could have done to change the outcome. And just left wondering what part we may have played in it.

In the days since I have come to the conclusion that there is no yes or no answer. There is no long-form response or explanation that will ever make it truly clear or sufficient.

Ellen was a loving, helpful, joking person who seemed to be OK to many who met her. She always had a helping hand to lend, would fight for those suffering injustice and was well-equipped with a kind word or gesture for anyone she ever met or knew. Only close family members and friends knew that she was fighting a battle below her cheery exterior.

What may shock those that know my family is that as a child, she and my sisters watched my father’s physical and emotional abuse our oldest brother, Eddie. We’re not exactly sure why, but it seems that maybe my father just wasn’t ready to be a parent when he was born. I was some 18 years behind him life so I never witnessed it, but my sisters all agree that there were beatings and verbal lashings that went well beyond discipline and reason.

My burden came in just the last few years when I learned that my father used to treat me as the “golden child”, comparing Eddie’s failures to successes I had not even yet attempted as an infant. He was made to feel inferior by my “example”. An unfair comparison if ever there was one.

It’s no wonder that Eddie chose a life of heavy drinking and drug addiction. He eventually died as a result of those choices and the view he held of himself.

But more than the other girls, Ellen was always very emotional and deeply affected by Eddie’s abuse. Maybe because she was the second oldest and they had a deeper connection. Maybe it was that mothering instinct – that she displayed with everyone she came in contact with – that caused her to care so deeply for Eddie and try to protect him.

In the present day, Ellen still seemed happy even though she battled dark times that had crossed her life. She had lost the love of her life decades earlier in Ronnie Brown. A divorce and loss of other loves also followed in recent years, yet she always seemed like she was on top of it.

Ellen knew God, but I’m not sure she knew of all the resources God makes available to believers when they face times such as hers. I think she knew of God’s unfailing love and what he did for her with the sacrifice of his son, but how to truly access the healing power of God’s love was something she just didn’t have knowledge of. And that is where I think the problem began and eventually ended.

Her daughter Sara texted me the other night, ranting as to why her mother was dead and how “Satan had won.” She turned to me as one of her spiritual guides for a scriptural answer, and I’m not sure there is a good one.

What I do know is that Satan prowls about us like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). But like a lion, he knows he has to spring his trap when the moment is perfect, or he’ll lose his prey.

Satan laid this trap some 60 years ago when my sisters watched my brother being abused. They saw it. They heard it. They lived it. It’s something that I’m sure still lives with my remaining two siblings to this day.

As for Ellen, I believe that she got distracted from who God was because she might have been getting close to figuring out just who and what Jesus could do for her. Whatever was good in her life, I think Satan whispered, “Well maybe, but it’s really not that great, is it? I mean, it’s a cruel world.” He may have even tossed in, “Look what your dad did to your brother, right?”

And I think Ellen would hear it and agree, just a little.

And each time the enemy repeated his lie, she reluctantly agreed a little more.

And finally, after years of hearing the lie, she lost all sight of the truth and the savior and could only see the darkness that she’d been deceived into thinking consumed her on all sides.

My sister, the mother of three wonderful children and the grandchildren they blessed her with, is gone. Try as we might, we cannot change that.

But in her loss we can learn that there are others like her all around. Men and women every day are struggling over personal loss, tough times and just making ends meet. They need to know that there’s a God who loves them and who has already sacrificed everything for them, if they would only choose to accept his free gift of salvation.

While the Allen and Brown families are left with numerous questions at the time of our loss, the real question is what are we going to do about it?

Who, standing right next to you, needs to know the love of God today?

FOXNews and the Lesser of Two Evils

A time is quickly coming when FOXNews – or as I prefer to refer to them FAUX”News” – will have to make a choice. And that choice will likely determine the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.

FoxNews LogoDon’t get me wrong, I think FOXNews played a huge role in 2012. It was their stonewall defense of Mitt Romney and some of his ludicrous statements that allowed a whole host of GOP voters to be completely blindsided when Barack Obama won in a veritable landslide, at least by today’s standards. The Republicans were so sure that they were going to win, that any victory by the Democrats looked huge.

But now FOXNews is faced with a real dilemma. It’s time to put their well-lined wallets where their mouths are.

On one hand they have an pretty popular candidate in Donald Trump. The Donald seems to be able to say pretty much whatever he wants, only to have his poll numbers continue to go up. The problem is, a lot of what he says flies right in the face of the GOP baseline.

On the other, they have a field of remaining candidates that are about as popular as a booger on a wedding dress. Ben Carson is about the most electable of the bunch, but even he has perception issues with the public due to his apparent lack of energy and his belief in things such as the pyramids being created to store grain.

Really?

And if it’s not Carson, it’s Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Carley Fiorina, none of which are remotely electable.

So who do they back? At some point FOXNews has to help the GOP whittle down the field and who they choose to back could very well determine Republican fates come next November.

Donald TrumpIf they back Trump, they must accept a candidate that (A) they cannot control, (B) doesn’t share their views and (C) doesn’t give a rip if he pisses them or anyone else off.

They back anyone but Trump, it’s very likely that The Donald will pull a Sarah Palin and go rogue, splitting off his candidacy into a third-party arc and sucking off more than enough votes to literally hand the White House to the Democratic candidate in an actual landslide.

Republicans loved Trump when he started out because he said whatever he wanted and wasn’t a Washington insider. But now that he has called out a few of their own and gone off the rails on people groups like Muslims and Hispanics, they seem almost scared to admit that he may be their only shot at winning the election.

The lesson?

It’s an age old one – Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.

A Little Slight of Hand

We are nothing more than a fluttering piece of paper…

When I was in college I knew a guy named Dave who, prior to attending our school, had become one of the most renown young magicians in Canada. He once performed for a dinner/dance we had and did the old tear-the-newspaper-without-tearing-it and pour-the-milk-into-the-newspaper-cone routines. As he tore the paper up, a few pieces of paper fell to the floor. And has he reached for them, it was apparent that Dave was struggling. His trick wasn’t going as planned.

Or so it seemed.

Dave eventually pulled off the illusions to roaring applause. Later as he stood next to me in the sound booth, I leaned over and whispered, “Man I thought you going to die up there. When you dropped that paper I thought the whole thing was going to fall apart.”

He leaned back to me and said, “Tim, when you’re watching that paper falling, you’re not seeing what else I’m doing.” He gave me a wry smile and I knew that I and my classmates had been bamboozled!

When it comes to politics people, we are way to busy watching those pieces of paper.

It the last few days I have come to realize that there is, in my opinion, a better than average chance that the government may have invented social media. That Mark Zuckerberg may actually be the best weapon the Feds have ever had to control the masses.

How did I come to that solution? Follow me here…

The claim by those on either side of the party lines is that the government is trying to take something away from us. The political right would have you believe that we need to arm ourselves beyond measure to stave off the government when they come to take us away. The left, well they’d have you believe that Washington wants all women to die in dirty hospitals south of the border because they won’t fund Planned Parenthood.

Neither are true.

If the government really wanted you dead, they’d get you before you ever saw it coming. A drone or smart bomb would leave a gaping hole in the planet where you were sleeping. And if they really wanted to kill off women and their unborn babies, well there are a lot easier ways to go about it than through something so grossly obvious as abortion.

And there are literally hundreds of issues just like those two. Mass killings, taxes, emails, foreign policy, banking fraud …

The truth is all of these issues get batted around endlessly on social media and rarely, if ever, does anyone offer a solution much less find one. The government even keeps a healthy facade of having no interest in working with other so that whatever side we’ve chosen, that we blame the other.

And all the while, they merrily keep chugging along year after year, do the same thing over and over. The names and and places change, but the game always remains the same.

It’s a slight of hand that makes my buddy Dave’s milk trick, or anything ever conceived of by David Copperfield, pale in comparison.

See, by getting us, the general public, to focus our attention in the wrong place the government can pull all the shenanigans it wants. And what’s more, it does so right in front of our eyes.

While watching a show called “Brain Games” I found a remarkable gentleman named Apollo Robbins. You could call him a magician, illusionist or even a con man, but in the clip below he clearly explains what I believe the government is doing to us.

See, when we fight and bicker on sites like Facebook & Twitter, we are going at each other. We’re engaging our “Frank” as Apollo calls him with things that do not matter and that we cannot change.

We all do it. We whine, bitch, moan and complain. We call each other names and divide ourselves. We sap the very strength that made this nation great at its outset – Unity.

Consider these numbers:

  • There are 540 members in Congress (435 voting members in the House of Representatives, 100 members in the Senate, and 5 delegates)
  • There are 9 Supreme Court Justices
  • There is one President.

These 550 people decide how we live our lives on a national stage. Toss in maybe 1,500 more for state governors, lieutenant governors and various county reps and state supreme court judges and we have approximately 2,000 people running the whole show.

We get all excited and angry about the “1 percenters” or even the 1 percent of the 1 percenters”, but even they amount to more than 319,000 people out of 391.9 million people. And while their extreme wealth may grease the wheels, the 2,000 state and federal representatives still have to answer the call and make the decisions that shape our lives. They still have to take the bait. They are a mere %0.000625 of the population, and yet they are getting paid, both over and under the table, are free from any law they pass while getting free life-time health care and retirement. Personal body guards included.

For all of the bluster and bustle that goes on during campaign season of “I’m gonna do this” and “We’re gonna do that”, how much of it ever really gets done? Hell, how much of it ever gets started?

And all the while we sit at our terminals and on our smart phones and tablets, talking to friends that we have known for years, sometimes decades, calling them names, casting aspersions and frequently saying things that leave those relations irreparably damaged and changed.

We keep fighting over everything that they – the government – want us to see. All the while plucking our money, our dignity and lives out form under us, right in front of our noses.

Forget everything and focus on just one thing.

Forget the political differences.

Forget the racial differences.

Forget the religious differences.

Forget the sexual or lifestyle differences.

Forget your stance on on topics like guns, abortion and school immunizations.

Focus on just one thing – your government.

If they are not doing what you, a citizen of the United States wants done, then get up and vote them out. Or, in the unlikely circumstance that they are doing what you want, make sure you vote them back in.

Do not try to convince, coerce or influence anyone to do anything other than to vote their conscience and their values. Help them learn how to register. Drive them to the polls if you have to. But just let them make whatever decision they want to make as long as they vote.

And on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, stop trying to be right. I challenge you for a month to never respond to a socially or politically charged topic unless you have a well thought out solution to offer. Don’t challenge someone else and their solution, but rather ask questions like “How to you plan to fund that?” or “How will you implement that?”

The only other reason to respond is if the post they are making is factually wrong.

Do that and you might find that aside from weird cat GIFs and pictures of your family doing rather embarrassing stuff, social media might get awful quiet for those 30 days.

And if it does, that’s when you can almost bet some unexplained bombshell will drop because the last thing the boys and girls on Capitol Hill want are for you to start looking at them in earnest. They’ll be scared you’re starting to figure out their game. And that ever happens, they’ll likely have hell to pay … literally.

Quit being a lemming

When I was a kid I played a game called “Lemmings“. Simply put, you had a group of little beings that you had to get from Point A to Point B on each level, using the special functions of various Lemmings. But they all just followed each other wherever they could – good, bad or indifferent.

Lemmings-BoxScanThe point was, they couldn’t think for themselves. They were the living embodiment of the age-old parental question, “If all of your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?”

Look, whether you believe in God or not, I think we can all agree that we have been created with and given independent thought. We can look at data, analyze it and come to a conclusion, right?

If that’s true then only one question remains: How the hell did Mark Zuckerberg figure out how to unceremoniously remove that ability from our brains the second we get on Facebook? How is that we can interact at home and see the folly in things so clearly, yet when people get online they immediately believe, ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ anything that comes across their news feed?

Listen carefully to what Agent K says here…

Notice what he says about “a person” and “people”? It’s that mob mentality that just because a bunch of people are saying it, it must be true!

I hate to tell you this, but it just ain’t so.

Let’s start with the obvious, or at least what should be obvious: Facebook is not, nor has it ever been a news source.

Yes, some media outlets use Facebook to connect with its readership. They provide stories that appear in your feed, and while they may be a reliable news source it is always a good thing to check them out once in a while when you think something doesn’t sound quite right.

You must question everything!

This particular post is coming after the recent load of crap that the Pope said that the Bible and the Koran are the same thing. Folks, it’s a lie pure and simple.

I’m not a Catholic, but I’ve been around long enough to know when something like sounds fishy as all get out. But just because someone posts a graphic on Facebook and makes a claim, people naturally assume it must be true, or how could it be on Facebook?

Let’s state this again for those not paying attention or for the grossly ignorant: Facebook is not, nor has it ever been a news source.

So how do we know when something posted on the Internet that sounds fishy might not be true? How can we fact check a post or graphic so we know whether or not we should share something to our friends?

Here are three great sites for doing your due diligence and making sure what you share is the truth:

My personal favorite is Snopes, so when I have a question about something like the Pope’s supposed statement on the Bible and the Koran, I head over to the almighty Google and enter “Snopes Pope Bible Koran” in the search bar. Usually in the top two or three lines of the results I’ll find a link to the research that Snopes has done.

If you’re like me and find that someone has posted something untrue, then you quickly copy the link on Snopes in the URL box at the top of your browser and paste it into the ‘comment’ line of the post and hit return.

Willy Wonka lieAn optional snarky reply as to why such nonsense gets posted is completely up to you. Whether or not I include one usually depends on any statements supporting the stupid post or graphic to hopefully get people to rethink their position and get them to fact check their stuff in the future.

It’s your responsibility to get it right. And when someone does post something, regardless of how close you are to them, correct them. As Gallagher once said, “If you let stupid people go around doing stupid things, stupid people think it’s OK.”

Hyperbole – The Weapon of Mass Dysfunction

People, before you spout off at the mouth on something, check your facts. You expect your 11-year-old to do it on their big report, so be the example and do it yourself.

We’ll use the recent ruffle caused by the Confederate Flag being taken down at the state house in South Carolina.

Picture from ABC News

Picture from ABC News

The prevailing rhetoric is that some part of our heritage and rights are being stripped away because of it’s removal – not only from the state house but from stores around the country. Folks, these are two very different things.

First, if you think we ought to be flying the Confederate flag because of it’s involvement in the Civil War, because their ancestors fought and died for the Confederacy, fine. But if we’re going there then we must include the flags of France, Germany and Great Britain on every government building as well. All of those countries had people that fought and died on American soil during the American Revolution.

And yes, like the Confederacy, Great Britain was on the losing side. Just as the Confederacy fought to maintain an economic system based on human enslavement, the English fought to stop us from leaving their control so they could continue to receive taxes without any form of representation in government.

We don’t fly those flags because we are the United States of America.

We are not part of Great Britain, France or Germany.

And we are not part of the Confederate States of America. They no longer exist after their very brief existence.

As a government, we fly OUR flag, not the flag of countries we beat. This isn’t the Olympics where the top three finishers get recognized. It’s OUR land, OUR country and we fly OUR Flag. No other country on this planet flies the flag of a regime that lost power. Don’t believe me, go ask a German about how much they’d like to see the swastika on one of their government buildings.

Prepare for a verbal slap down worse than dropping an “F-Bomb” right in front of your mother at a family gathering.

The Confederate flag and it’s associated memorabilia belongs in a museum or private collection. Hell, have one in your home or hang it in your backyard. But these items should be kept as a reminder of a time when a group attempted to divide our nation for profit and comfort. Spout all the states rights junk you want, the right they were most concerned about was being able to continue making money off the backs of their slaves.

Not much unlike corporate America today. But that’s for another post…

Now on to Point #2…

Stop spouting this nonsensical crap that your rights are being infringed upon or taken away, that your heritage is being ripped from you or that this is all some liberal plot to take down the country.

It’s a lie.

It’s a lie you tell yourself and others so you can get your way and stay in your comfort zone.

And don’t throw the blame on Walmart, TVLand or anyone else. They CHOSE to not be associated with the emblem of the Confederacy because they CHOSE not to be associated with a symbol of hate and bigotry. I’m sure profits played a much larger part, but there may have been a sliver of humanity in there somewhere.

At the end of this blog post there is a place for commentary. If you want to post in opposition to this post, this time around I am requiring you do it with FACTS. If you post some more of your pathetic rhetoric without some kind of link to law and proof that takes away your right to own and display the flag of a failed attempt to destroy this country, I will simply delete it.

I believe in free speech and open debate, but not without responsibility. Not this time.

If you want to have the Confederate flag and other such relics in your home, go for it. But be aware that while you may try and explain away what it means to you, that to the majority of Americans – and especially those of color – that the Confederacy stands for racial hate and a justification for profit based on a mentality of “I’m better than you because I’m white.”

In closing, what I find interesting about this whole debate is that I could go right back through this post and substitute all the rhetoric about gay marriage by Christians for the Confederacy and it would still all hold true. Grow up people, it’s time to get over yourselves.

It All Means Something, The Words That They Say

SemanticsThe meaning, or an interpretation of the meaning, of a word, sign, sentence, etc.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage came down last week, a lot of people have been playing fast and loose with words and their interpretations. Sadly, many of them are Christians. They are people who are anything but perfect, but demand that everyone else act as such while ignoring a veritable lumberyard in their own ocular cavity.

That’s a log in your own eye, just so you don’t have to go look it up, around … well … that log in your eye.

Let’s be clear on a few things we KNOW about today’s world:

  • The world hate’s Christians, even if it states otherwise“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
  • Sinners and Christians have the same sin“There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22b-24) and “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10)
  • God’s ‘Great Commission’ gives Christ’s followers two jobs, and one of them is NOT condemnation – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • God makes it pretty clear that belief or unbelief are the qualifiers for salvation – “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.”

So let’s start at the beginning…

If you’re a Christian, or at least claim to be, then if you have read any of the Bible you should already know that the world is out to get us. It’s not some breaking newsflash or some bullet point that just came in over the wire on CNN. Get over it and get on with what God wants you to be doing.

In case you think I’m pulling your leg, let’s take a look back at just some of society’s greatest anti-Christian hits from the last 70 years or so:

  • 1948 – Supreme Court rules that time set aside for prayer in public schools is unconstitutional. (McCollum v. Board of Education)
  • 1962 – Supreme Court rules that children may not recite a state written prayer in school (Engel v. Vitale).
  • 1963 – Supreme Court bans individual school prayer (Murry v. Curlett) and Bible reading in public schools (Abington Township School District v. Schempp).
  • 1965 – Supreme Court rules that a child may pray silently to himself if no one knows he is praying and his lips do not move.
  • 1980 – Supreme Court rules that the Ten Commandments cannot be posted in classrooms, “for a child might read them, reflect upon them and then obey them.”  (Stone vs. Graham) 
  • 1985 – Supreme Court strikes down Alabama law requiring schools to have a moment of silent meditation at the beginning of the day.
  • 1987 – Supreme Court overturns a State Law requiring a balanced treatment of creation science and evolution.  (Edwards vs. Aguillard)
  • 1992 – Supreme Court rules Clergy may not offer prayer at graduation ceremonies.  (Lee vs. Weisman)
  • 2000 – Supreme Court rules student initiated or student led prayer at football games is unconstitutional.  (Doe vs. Santa Fe Independent School District)

Same Shtick, Different Decade

Maybe you’ve been distracted by soap operas, disco and Deflategate over the past few decades and missed all that. But as you can see, what’s going on is nothing new.

As GI Joe would say, “Now you know and knowing is the half the battle!”

But sadly, we have Christians sounding the war trumpet and threatening (falsely I might add) to set themselves on fire or move to Canada. Folks, I believe this is nothing more than a slight of hand trick by the Master Trickster himself.

I remember of friend of mine in college named Dave who was a crack magician. When we had a talent show and some classmates coaxed him into performing and when he hit the stage it looked awful. He tried the old pouring milk into a newspaper routine, but fumbled with the newspaper and the cap to the milk. I was sure he’d crash and burn. But in the end, he seemed to just barely pull it off.

When I saw him off stage later I told him how concerned I was for him and was glad he had completed it. “Tim,” he whispered out the side of his mouth, “if they’re watching the paper and cap, they’re not watching what else I’m doing.” I realized at that moment I had been duped!

Truth of the matter is that I believe that Satan is having one heck of a laugh right now. While we’ve had pastors and Christians making declarations about what they would do if gay marriage was allowed, we’ve yet to see it happen. For starters, it’s kind of tough thing to set yourself on fire. And secondly, moving to Canada will only take you to a country that has had publicly funded health care for the last 31 years and gay marriage for the last 10.

In short, you better pick someplace else that’s likely a tad bit less accessible by your immediate family. But then again, that might be inconvenient, huh?

Following Christ usually is. Suck it up, Buttercup.

Satan has everyone whipped up into a frenzy, with Christians doing everything but what Christ commanded them (we’ll cover that in a few moments) and doing it in such a way as to alienate anyone who might be riding the fence about coming to God. And while we watch the verbal firefights on social media and in the news, he fades back into the shadows and watches believers fall by the wayside and take their friends with them.

It’s a bad parlor trick that we fall for every time.

Same Sin, Different People

Point number two makes it pretty clear that sinners and Christians suffer from the same disease – sin.

You know, that’s the point above where it says the sin you consider little and the stuff you think the homosexual agenda is promoting is horrific are actually one and the same.

Let that sink in for a moment. Yeah, humans may think that being gay is worse than lying, or that murder is worse than gossip, and who really knows if God differentiates them or not. But what God has said is that if you break ONE law, you’ve broken them ALL. Not some or a few or a couple … ALL OF THEM!

So to make things easy on you, just stop worrying about what the other guys are doing. It’s not your business if men are marrying men, women are marrying women or if there are farm animals involved.

IT’S NOT YOUR BUSINESS!

Pray for your sins first and how you can improve yourself to avoid them in the future. Pray for your family and friends. Pray for guidance on how to be more useful in the Kingdom of God and how you might better serve your spouse.

And if you still have time and breath left, pray for the people making the choice to be homosexual or have transgender surgery. But I’d suggest making sure you spend more than three minutes on your knees, or you’ll be lucky to get done with your own issues, much less anyone else’s.

But I can tell you right now that your job on this planet has nothing to do with condemning, convicting or converting another soul.

Are we clear on that? Good, let’s move on.

Two Jobs, Hold the Condemnation Please

I love The Apprentice. Not because of ‘The Donald’ and his perplexing hairdo, but because I enjoy watching how people go about organizing themselves and accomplishing a task. And the team that loses each task seems to have a common theme – They didn’t do what Trump asked them to do.

And thus our problem here.

Christians, God has neither asked nor ordained you to condemn, convict or otherwise judge your fellow human. It’s your job to love. Period. End of story.

How do I know that? Because EVERYTHING a Christian does, according to Jesus, has to be done in love. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40

If you think I’m wrong, maybe now would be a good time for a little backup from another source you might recognize …

Reverend Billy Graham

Reverend Billy Graham

See, it’s really simple. If you can’t find true love in what you are doing, saying or thinking, then don’t do it.

Calling names, threatening bizarre actions or wishing harm on folks because of something that happened either to, for or by them has no love in it and Christ has no part in it. Whipping people up into a frenzy about the world and causing them to not focus on their walk with God – no love in that and Christ has no part in it.

The fourth point above also indicates this, as people who are not followers of God’s only begotten son are already condemned. It’s already done. So what on earth makes you think that by you verbally or physically heaping coals on someone’s head that you’ll accomplish what God did not choose to accomplish?

In fact, God commanded that you do just the opposite.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.~ Psalm 25:21-22

Hmmm, guess this poses a little problem for those using that “Christian baker and a gay wedding” argument. Well, that’s for another discussion…

Listen, if you truly are a Christian and follow the one, true Lord of the universe, then no amount of anything you do will alter the course of history other than prayer. Pray without ceasing, as the Bible tells us. Instead of talking to yourself, talk to God. Not every prayer needs to have a dozen ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and flowery words in them. Just talk to God and let him know what you’re feeling and what’s going on.

He can and will do whatever he wants and he already knows everything you will ever want or need, but he absolutely loves the sound of your voice. So talk to him.

In closing, Christians stop acting the fool. It’s not your job to force a culture that you came from to live a life that you chose to follow and that they have not. Remember that, you made a CHOICE. And a choice straight from the heart is what unbelievers need to make for them to have an authentic, real relationship with Christ – just like the one you’re trying to have with him.

“… wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ~ Matthew 13b-14

Drop the rhetoric, the misinformation and mistrust and put on the armor of God. Because without it you’re just another easy target for the Father of Lies to shoot at.

Let them eat cake.

Since Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” law was passed, it’s just getting weird up in here.

For some reason, the central debate seems to be over a Christian baker having to service a gay couple’s wedding. And in the discussions I’ve had, it all seems to be about who knows what and when they know it.

As I see it, the cake has nothing to do with someone getting married. It’s an optional part of the post-ceremony celebration. It has nothing to do with a couple – be it man-woman, man-man or woman-woman – getting legally married in any of the 50 United States or its territories.

If I’m wrong, please let me know.

If you don’t think so, then take Las Vegas, Nevada as example. There’s an average of 315 weddings per day (http://www.lasvegas-how-to.com/fun-facts.php) in Sin City, and most of those go off without a cake. In fact my guess more of them include Elvis than they do a cake.

And no, I will not be debating the religious validation of “The King” on the wedding vows. At least not today.

But the defense I hear is that if a gay couple came into a Christian baker’s shop, that the Christian would then know that the cake they were making is for a gay wedding and thus, violate their Christianity and causing them to sin. Those standing behind this equivocate baking the cake with participating in the marriage ceremony, and that’s where they lose me.

As far as I can tell, a marriage ceremony needs only a couple wanting to be wed, a marriage license, a witness and someone who is legally able to wed them. Some states require a blood test, but I think even that gets waived in some places.

Cakes are for the celebration of that event. So maybe that could be touchy, but I still don’t think so. Here’s why…

romans-323If it is the fact that a Christian knows that the cake they are making is being used for a gay wedding that is the crucial point – meaning they know it will be used by a sinful person(s) to celebrate a sinful event – then Christians cannot be businessmen. Why? Because Christians know that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

See Christians know that everyone, including themselves, are sinners. And if the qualifier as to whether or not you can sell to someone is their status regarding sin, then Christians have no one they can sell to – not even those of their own faith or particular denomination.

Sin has no hierarchy, therefore all sin is the same. So from a Christian standpoint, someone living a homosexual lifestyle is just as much a sinner as someone who lies, steals or even takes the Lord’s name in vain. And that’s just three of the Ten Commandments.

No, the issue as I see it is that Christians are once again attempting to legislate their faith rather than actually live it out. It seems like people of faith think it would be a lot easier to pass a law and force people to live they do – or at least the way they are supposed to be living – rather than live their lives in such a way as to cause people to choose God over life without Him.

See, if a Christian baker were to live their lives and run their business in such a way that God was honored in every aspect, then I find it very unlikely that gay people would even want to venture in the door. In fact, I’m pretty sure the God I serve is big enough to handle whatever comes down the pike in that regard.

I once owned a photography business and I sent out some emails to various club teams and programs asking if they might have need of a photographer for their events as well as team and individual shots. On the bottom of each email I included a Bible verse that we based on business on (“As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man. Proverbs 27:19).

One night I got a response from a gymnastics group stating that the club’s coach would love to use us, but that she didn’t do business with people who put Bible verses on their emails. I wrote back and told her that while I understood her choice, that we decided honoring God in our business was important. She sent several more terse communications and each time I told her we’d just have to agree to disagree.

We were by no means a big business and offering to cave might have gotten us the contract and some cash. But I felt we were better off honoring God.

Later that night a purchase came in for about $40 on an account that was more than a month old, a 911 event that we had shot in Las Vegas. I figured it was probably a straggler that just got around to ordering their images. But a few minutes later another came in, and another. In an hour we had done some $200 in business. And within the next 24 hours we did almost $1,000 total from an account that we thought had run its course.

God had something else in mind.

Christians – and I mean this in a loving way – get up off your butts and quit trying to force the world to live the way you chose to. God affords every sinner the opportunity to CHOOSE him. None of us were forced to be Christians, we chose to follow Christ. We chose it because we saw in someone else a way of life that we felt was better than what we had been living.

Quit trying to be lawyers and start being the light and salt of the world, shining so brightly that the darkness that’s left will simply fade away.

God doesn’t need more chefs in the kitchen making up their own recipes, he needs more delivery people getting the Bread of Life to starving masses.

Not Even Close

Religion (as defined by Meriam Webster)

1 a :  the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion>

   b (1) :  the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) :  commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 :  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic :  scrupulous conformity :  conscientiousness
4 :  a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Watch that definition very closely, because it’s about to be changed.

Indiana’s new “religious liberty” law is anything but, essentially giving people carte blanche to discriminate againstReligious_Freedom-09cbc anyone if they don’t lineup with their personal beliefs. The law has, in essence, created personalized police state that allows any individual to be judge, jury and executioner if someone disagrees with them.

The law, signed into action my Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R), allows businesses to deny business to anyone who doesn’t fit into their personal set of beliefs. Notice I said beliefs and not religion, because it is in that fourth line of the definition that this law will find it’s doom – assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t strike it down before the ink dries.

And if you think I’m wrong, then you’ve never been in Indiana during basketball season as an opponent.

An article in The Daily Grind from March 28 relates how an Indiana business owner named Ryan called into 100.9 RadioNOW and professed his support of the new law, stating that he freely discriminated against the LGBT community. I’d love to tell you the man’s last name or that of his business, but he refused to give them.

Before I get into what I believe are the Christian ramifications of this law, let’s take a brief look at this particular business owners actions:

  1. Ryan (the business owner) thinks discriminating against the LGBT community because they are in sin is OK. Let’s run with that for a moment. I wonder if Ryan remembers the time before he was a Christian? You know, when he was a sinner. I wonder if he would have been OK with people discriminating against him then? And will he be OK when he walks into a place owned by someone in the LGBT community and they kindly tell him to get out because he doesn’t match up with their beliefs? Or would he be even more surprised to enjoy an excellent meal, only to have the owners tell him where he had been eating afterwards?
  2. Ryan’s personal convictions are so weak that after “bravely” calling the radio station to spout his nonsensical rhetoric and boast of his “religious” stance, he won’t tell the station his last name or what his business’ name or location is. Wow! What moral conviction! Plus he gets free air time and missed a chance at a major plug that, as we now see, would have gone nationwide. This guy is clearly a marketing genius too.
  3. Ryan’s faith is such (I will call it outright fake, cheap at best) that instead of telling people why he is discriminating against them, he lies to them. So not standing up for his ‘faith’ aside, that commandment about bearing false witness goes right out the window too.
  4. And assuming his has any measure of actual faith in him, when Ryan has people that he believes are in sin in his business, he ignores the one commission Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20, saying “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I wonder if Ryan knows that Jesus came to earth and hung out exclusively with the sinners of the day, eating with them and ministering to them? I mean the only “quality” time that Jesus spent with the religious leaders of the day, they were in the process of trying to kill Him.

Christians are split on this matter and I feel it’s due to a concern about what they will have to give up in order to allow people who are not of their faith make a decision about Christ. What would they be giving up – the safety of their personal religious cocoon – the one Christ never intended us to have.

I have a friend named Greg who I have known since kindergarten. As the electronic age has come upon us and the miles between us have grown, Greg and I have taken to debating a number of issues through social media. We usually focus on politics and religion, so you can only guess that this new law was hotly debated just a few days ago.

Some Christians view the mere act of serving someone not of their faith as denying Christ and participating in that customer’s sin. For example, if you were a caterer and baked a gay couple a cake or food, that that constitutes taking part in their ceremony. Another might be a photographer taking pictures of that same wedding.

Others, like myself, think that it would require more than just providing the service. So in the case of caterer, I don’t wedding-cake-ideasfind an issue with a Christian baking a cake for a gay wedding or even serving the food, for that matter. But if they wanted me to serve it some plate with sexually suggestive images on it or wanted the cake to look like a phallic symbol, then I’m not the caterer for them. Likewise, as a photographer I’d have no issue taking the various images that you normally take at a wedding, including what are sure to be variances due to a couple being both men or both women. But if those images were to include anything suggestive, I’d have to tell that those are services my business does not provide.

The Apostle Paul clearly spoke to this matter in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

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.

Verses 20 and 21 are the keys as I see it. Verse 20 addresses those that are under the law (those of Jewish faith) and that we should become as though we under that law, even though we are not. The Jews are the extreme opposite of the LGBT community, adhering to laws and rules that we, as Christians, think were done away with by Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

Verse 21 goes to the opposite end of the spectrum, saying that to those without any law we should also become like them – even though we are still under the law of God.

And that may be the sticking point. Just like when you were dating and minded all of the Ps and Qs you would later forget about after you got married, following the law of the Jews is easy for a short time to try and show them the salvation of Christ as we know it. But where do you draw the line going the other way?

Over the years I have made a number of friends who are gay and even have one family member who has expressed an interest in that lifestyle. We eat, we hang out, we do things together. But when it comes down to things like affection, we give a friendly hug and that’s it. When it comes time to eat, I say a prayer over my food quietly while they usually start chowing down.

See, what I think Christians today are forgetting is that becoming a Christian is a choice. God doesn’t force it on us, nor does He want to. God wants you to be under his guidance, care and discipline because we choose to be, not because we have to. And it is that choice, one that every Christian has to make (and no, you are not born into Christianity. But that’s a topic for another post) that they seem to forget that were allowed to make by God Himself. And it is a decision that, for some strange reason, they don’t want to let anyone else make for themselves.

If a person of the LGBT community coming into your business and buying a sandwich or a shirt is that threatening to your Christianity, then your faith isn’t worth a plug nickle. If all it takes is the mere presence of sin in someone else – and believe me, there is still sin in every Christian because none of us are perfect. NONE of us! – to throw you off track, then you better close your business, go home and plant your nose in your Bible and prayer 24/7.

God wants us in the world. He needs us in the world. We are His hands and feet, carrying the gospel to all of the lost, not just the people that we’re OK sharing it with.

In a time when the forces of the day were openly giving letters of authority to hunt down and kill Christians, God called the worst offender of them all to his ministry to preach His word. He preached it to the people of that time and to millions since.

His name was Paul.

Christ broke down all of the Christian faith into two commandments and one commission. The commission we covered above, but the first commandment is to love God with everything you have. The second was like it and was to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Notice is doesn’t say “fellow Christian” or “like believer”, it says neighbor. Your neighbor may be a Christian, or they may be gay, or lesbian or even worse in Indiana – a Michigan fan.

And finally, if you think that discriminating against the LGBT community is OK and a righteous thing to do, then I’m sure you’ll be just fine with it when they turn the tables on people of faith. Don’t think it will happen? Maybe you should take a gander at the book of Revelations:

It (the second beast) also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” ~ Revelations 13:16-17

As Christians, I do not believe that we are afforded the luxury of ignoring the masses that do not share our faith. Christ’s Great Commission requires us to be in the world, but not of the world. It’s the only way that we can reach the lost. It was the only way that any Christian was ever reached with the Gospel.

I’m going to include links to two songs that I feel are very germane to the topic at hand. The first is from Steve Taylor and speaks to doing business with people who do not share our Christian faith. The second is from Petra and speaks to a Christians desire to sit safely inside their church, never reaching out to world around us.

 

%d bloggers like this: