Monthly Archives: March 2017

Bells in the Rain

Bells in the Rain
By Elinor Wylie

Sleep falls, with limpid drops of rain,
Upon the steep cliffs of the town.
Sleep falls; men are at peace again
While the small drops fall softly down.

The bright drops ring like bells of glass
Thinned by the wind; and lightly blown;
Sleep cannot fall on peaceful grass
So softly as it falls on stone.

Peace falls unheeded on the dead
Asleep; they have had deep peace to drink;
Upon a live man’s bloody head
It falls most tenderly, I think.


Lazy Weekend 

I did nothing all weekend. Nothing important anyway. I watched some Food Network, took some naps, and was just all around lazy. I did leave the house a few times for pizza, groceries, and a Subway sandwich. I was lazy for a couple of reasons. First, I really didn’t have anything I needed to do all weekend. Second, I had a headache most of the weekend. And last, I’m still trying to get over the remnants of my cold.


Faith Without Works Is Dead

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
 
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”-and he was called a friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
James 2:14-26
 
Faith without works is dead faith because the lack of works reveals an unchanged life or a spiritually dead heart. There are many Scriptures that make it very clear that true saving faith will result in a transformed life which is demonstrated by the “works” we do. How we live reveals what we believe and whether the faith we profess to have is a living faith.
 
Many profess to be Christians, but their lives and their priorities indicate otherwise.  James is simply saying that if you ‘say’ you are a Christian, then there had better be some appropriate works manifested or your faith is false. This sentiment is echoed in 1 John 2:4 which says, “If you say you have come to know Him, yet you do not keep His commandments, then the truth is not in you and you are a liar.”
 
Apparently, there were people who were saying they were Christians, but were not manifesting any of the fruit of Christianity.  Those people exist even to this day, especially those who espouse hatred toward the GLBT community.  Can this faith justify? Can the dead ‘faith’ that someone has which produces no change in a person and no good works before men and God be a faith that justifies? Absolutely not.  It is not merely enough to say you believe in Jesus.  You must actually believe and trust in Him.  If you actually do, then you will demonstrate that faith by a changed and godly life.  If not, then your profession is of no more value than the same profession of demons: “We believe Jesus lived.”
 
Obedience to God is the mark of true saving faith. James uses the example of Abraham and Rahab as the type of works that demonstrate salvation, and both of those examples are of people who obeyed God in faith. Saying we believe in Jesus does not save us, nor does religious service. What saves us is a life of faith demonstrated by ongoing obedience to God.
 
Faith without works is dead because it reveals a heart that has not been transformed by God. When we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and experienced the “washing and regeneration of the Holy Spirit,” our lives will demonstrate that by the way we live and our works of obedience to God. It will be evident by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) in our lives and a desire to obey God and live a life that glorifies Him. Christians belong to Christ and as His sheep they hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:26-30).
 
True saving faith is always manifested by good works and a life that desires to live in obedience to God. Ephesians 2:8-10 makes it very clear that works do not save us but that we are saved “for good works which God prepared beforehand that we would walk in them.” When we are truly born again you will have hearts that are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit where God’s law is written so that we might walk in His statutes and judgments. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
 
I challenge you this week to help someone out, to do some godly work.  

Moment of Zen: Leather 


A little kink doesn’t hurt, unless you want it to.


Ginger Men

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, lets have a look at what makes a redheaded man so hot. Ginger guys have a hard time. So much so that there’s been talks of whether ‘gingerism’ is as bad a racism. True story. Photographer Thomas Knights released an entire exhibition in New York’s BOSI Gallery trying to bring down stereotypes of ginger men and promote their eternal hotness..

Not convinced yet? Here’s 21 reasons red-headed guys are actually ginger Gods amongst men.

1. Their Confidence

All those years of playground torture have molded them into the hardy, self-confident MEN they are now. They know who they are and aren’t about to let a few sh*tty put-downs change that.

2. Their Personalities

Because they haven’t always had to rely on their looks (that unforgiving inch of red hair has worked ’round the clock against them), 9 times out of 10 they will have naturally winning personalities.

3. Their Ginger Beards

When they grow a beard it actually MATCHES their face.

4. Their Sense of Humor

Due to the fact everyone has been poking fun at them their entire lives, they know how to take a joke and have a good old laugh at themselves.

5. Their Freckles

Ahhh, those freckles. Sexy AND cute.

6. They’re Fireballs in Bed

Ask anyone who’s been there to confirm – for some unknown reason they are ALL dynamite in the sack.

7. They’re Unique

They’re a rare and exotic breed (approx. 0.5 per cent of the world’s population), so unlike the hoards of blondes and brunettes out there, they will always keep your attention. Which is a big bonus in the apparent modern day “hookup” culture we live in.

8. They’ll Age Well

The sun and red heads will never be friends. So unlike other men who will grow leathery and awful, their skin will be primed for perfection well into old age.

Another plus: if you’re being selfish about it, they will make you look extra bronzed for half the tan-time.

9. Their Straight Forwardness

That fiery temper will always let you know where you stand; there are no mind games. When a ginger guy is pissed at you, you will know about it.

10. Their Sense Of Style

Ginger guys in suits – guaranteed HOT.

11. Their Eyes

That fiery red hair and porcelain skin only accentuates their stunning blue/green/gold eyes.

12. Their Passion

They are passionate and feisty people in all aspects of life, and what’s hotter than that?

13. They OWN it

They always have a slightly mysterious vibe going on.

14. They’re Classy

For some reason we can’t quite pinpoint, they are automatically kinda classy.

15. Their Tan

When they actually manage to get a tan it’s like you’ve got one of the rarest jewels right in the palm of your hands.

16. The Hot Accents

Can you ever imagine a ginger man who doesn’t have a glorious accent? Scottish? Irish? Count us in.

17. They Have No Egos

Usually they don’t realize how unbelievably hot they really are, so there’s no battling with ridiculous egos.

18. They’re Strong Minded

They know what they want and go for it. Damian Lewis, Prince Harry, Tom Hiddleston – they live their dreams.

19. They’ll Protect You

Science says ginger people have higher pain thresholds than the rest of us. What woman doesn’t want a strong man?

20. Their Spawn

If you manage to reproduce with this man you could be in for the most bitchin’ hot family of red head babies ever.

21. THEY ARE JUST SO FLAMING HOT

There’s just something about ginger guys – they’re rare, they’re precious, and they’re IN demand.


Only in Alabama 


Beauty and the Beast has a gay scene in it. If you didn’t know this by now, what rock have you been under? The thing is, an Alabama drive-in theater, the Henagar Drive-In Theater, refused to show the movie because of its gay scene. Tragic as that is, this story has a funny ending. The owner replaced Beauty and the Beast with a film called Fierce because, based on the film’s poster, she thought it was a Game of Thrones style film about dragons. By the way, Game of Thrones has many gay scenes, but that’s beside the point because Fierce is about drag queens. She replaced a movie that had a small gay scene with an explicitly gay movie. What a dumbass!

Henagar is not a place where I have been nor is it a place I’d visit. It’s up on Sand Mountain. Those people are bat-shit crazy. That’s where the snake handling churches are. If you don’t know about snake handling churches, these churches release venomous snakes into the congregation and only the holy won’t be bit. There also used to be a sign as you went up the mountain that told black people not to be caught on the mountain after dark, implying they’d never leave alive if they did. These are seriously fucked up people.


Too Damn Much…


Snow, that is. With 18-24″ of snow over the past day, it’s just too much. It’s too much to drive in, too much to have to brush off your car, and too much to dig out your car. I like snow when I don’t have to go anywhere. I like it when I can look out my window and say, “How pretty.” But when I have to get out in it. When I have to sludge through the snow to my car, or when I have to hope and pray that my apartment owner gets someone out to plow the parking lot, that’s when it’s just too damn much snow.


Adolescence 

Adolescence
By Claude McKay

There was a time when in late afternoon
The four-o’clocks would fold up at day’s close
Pink-white in prayer, and ’neath the floating moon
I lay with them in calm and sweet repose.

And in the open spaces I could sleep,
Half-naked to the shining worlds above;
Peace came with sleep and sleep was long and deep,
Gained without effort, sweet like early love.

But now no balm—nor drug nor weed nor wine—
Can bring true rest to cool my body’s fever,
Nor sweeten in my mouth the acid brine,
That salts my choicest drink and will forever.

Analysis by Juan Pablo

Adolescence is the story of how the narrator is looking back, reflecting on life and the past. This is noted in line 1, “There was time …”. The narrator is looking back at his adolescent days remembering the things he used to do; such as in lines 5 and 6, “And in open space I could sleep, Half-naked to the shining worlds above”. The narrator then confesses to us that now that they are older and mature, the substances that the narrator once used to cope with the pain or grief (line 9, “no balm–nor drug nor weed nor wine- Can bring true rest to cool my body’s fever,”) thus implying that the narrator realized that substance abuse does not help people with their problem. This poem is about coming of age and realization of past mistakes. The author also used rhyme every other line; for example, afternoon and floating moon. The author used an ABAB rhyme scheme.


Off Work Today 

I’m taking a day off from the blog.


The Sin of Partiality

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?  Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
 
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.  For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.  For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:1-13
As GLBT Christians, James gives a very poignant message.  We are often rejected by churches, yet James discusses the seriousness of the sin of partiality.  He says that the members of the church should not look down on someone or treat someone as having less value.  This is the first sin in James in a list of sins that the first chapter tells us to “put away” (James 1:21) and ways in which we must be “doers and not just hearers,” (James 1:22) which we discussed last week.  For some reason partiality was a sin that was a higher priority for James to address than the dangerous tongue which he discusses in depth in the next chapter.
 
James takes partiality much more seriously than probably most Christians today take it.  If most of us were making a list of sins, partiality probably would not make it on the list, but as GLBT Christians, it should. In James 2:4, he says the person who does it “judges with evil thoughts” and in verse 6 he describes the partial person as “dishonoring the poor man.”
 
In our view of sin that includes “white lies” and “the seven deadly sins,” one would think showing partiality would barely make it to the status of a white lie.  However, in verses 8-11 James equates partiality with adultery or murder.
 
Why does James emphasize the seriousness of partiality?  At a fundamental level, partiality denies the power of Jesus on the cross.  The sacrifice Christ made in the crucifixion is the great leveler of humanity.  Without it we are all sinners, regardless of what we have done.  Only because of it are any of us redeemed.  Partiality is a way for humans to make themselves elevate themselves or others.  It does it by allowing us to create tiers of people who are holier than others, and tiers of people who are worse sinners than others.  When I claim to be more holy or righteous because of externalities than another believer, I am denying that it is only Jesus on the cross that accomplishes this.  When I claim someone is a worse sinner for whatever reasons, I deny that God has saved me from the exact same place through the death of His son.  When we see each other for who we are in light of Christ’s sacrifices, partiality becomes quite petty.
 
C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory made a powerful and poignant quote about who we are in light of eternity.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…  It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

If we truly see each other in this light, how can we show partiality to each other?
 
Closely related to this is that very simply, we have no justification for partiality.  We had nothing in us that warranted our salvation, yet Christ saved us.  Whatever we can think to hold against someone, God can hold much more against us.  He chooses continually not to.
 
The Bible shows us two types of partiality we should watch out for:  partiality based on appearance or titles and partiality based on sin.  Partiality based on appearance or titles is the partiality specifically addressed in this passage. In a social setting, a school setting, or any other setting we should not show partiality based on the many socioeconomic reasons we contrive to divide ourselves.  Race, fashionable clothes, income, education, etc.  Just because you may be more inclined to be friends with people you are more similar to, there is no justification or reason to look down on someone for these kind of external reasons.
 
Tragically this occurs far too often in many churches.  How often have you seen someone get weird looks because they did not dress well enough for that churches standards, or when was the last time you saw someone being kept at a distance or avoided because they did not meet that churches standard of modesty?  We may not show partiality by bringing the person with the good clothes to the front of the room, but how often do our churches exclude whether directly or indirectly because someone isn’t dressed well enough?  With my particular church we don’t judge people by appearance, but I have seen it many times in other churches.
 
The other partiality mentioned in the Bible is partiality based on sin or perceived sin, which is the most important lesson for us.  Jesus regularly interacted with tax collectors and sinners.  Tax collectors were the worst form of the greedy bureaucrat.  They were known as thieves and extortionists, and they were viewed as traitors who were agents of Rome’s effort to subjugate the Jews.  The word “sinners” is largely a euphemism for prostitute.  It could also refer to people who lived such generally evil lives that they were known by all to be living lives of sin.
 
Matthew 9:10-13 describes the conversion of Matthew/Levi and his subsequent eating and drinking with Matthew’s friends who are described as “tax collectors and sinners.”  This story is told in both Luke and Mark as well.  In Matthew 11:19 it appears that Jesus was known by the people at large as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”  In Luke 15:1 Jesus tells the parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Prodigal Son after “the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.”
 
These were the people who were attracted to Jesus and who he came to preach to.  Much like the pharisees did, it is far too easy for us to look down on and disassociate ourselves from someone because they are a “worse sinner” than we are.  Jesus would have none of that.  If a pastor spent his time with and ministering to cheats and sexually immoral people, would we be able to view him as following the pattern of Christ, or would we criticize him for “putting himself in the way of temptation” or for “not having enough hedges in place to guard against temptation?”  Should churches accept GLBT Christians, or do we know they will be looked down on and judged instead of loved?  Jesus rebuked those who looked down on others as being worse sinners than ourselves.  I believe that many modern Christians need to be similarly rebuked for looking down on GLBT Christians and rejecting them.
 
Everyone who is in the church is a brother—everyone stands on an equal footing before  Jesus Christ.   Wealth, status, social standing, position, appearance—none of these matter except all men should come to Jesus Christ and worship Him.  Everyone who has faith in Jesus Christ bows before Him as Lord.  The charge is clear: believers, those who truly believe in Jesus Christ, are not to show partiality or favoritism. It is strictly forbidden.  Leviticus 19:15 says, “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” Job 13:10 says “He will surely rebuke you if in secret you show partiality. “

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