Category Archives: Religion

Speaking and Living Our Truth

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:17-32 (NASB)

Sometimes I read a passage from the Bible, and it has a special meaning to me. It is like God is speaking to me through His Word. I think this is one of the great things about the Bible. Not only is it God’s Word, but it is also one of the ways God speaks to us. When I read a passage, the first thing that comes to my mind is usually what God is telling me. The Bible is written in a way that allows interpretations to fit an individual person. It is also written as a guide to how we are supposed to live. The passage above is sometimes given different titles according to the translation you look at: “Instructions for Christian Living,” “The Christian’s Walk,” or “The New Life.” When I read it, it really resonated with me, in what some may consider and unorthodox interpretation.

Nearly all of us have experienced something in our life that is a major turning point. Something that changes us forever. For LGBTQ people, that is often coming out. When we come out, we “lay aside the old self” and “put on the new self.” We speak our truth as to who we are. Being gay is not the only thing we are; it is most certainly a defining part of our lives, but we are also much more than just LGBTQ. Every time we authentically and courageously speak our truth, we love ourselves a little bit more. For those of us rejected by our families because of our sexuality, we give ourselves the love our family could not give us, and we reclaim our right to be heard, valued, and respected. Being seen and heard is our inherent birthright. God created us as we are, and by speaking our truth and coming out, we are claiming our authentic selves. 

When someone rejects us for coming out, we are reborn in the newness of life. It’s similar to being born again after baptism. We rise up in the newness of life. We no longer walk in the old ways. Those who rejected us are “in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” Their rejection is a hardness of their heart. Often those who rejected us quote Biblical scripture saying that we are the sinners (we are all sinners); however, it is they who are not walking with God and have hardened their hearts to our truth. For LGBTQ Christians, when we come out, we are walking with God and living as he created us, authentically and proudly.

When we come out, we leave our “old self” behind. That former person who was hiding in the closet was “being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,” and by coming out, we are renewed “in the spirit” of our mind, and put on the new self, “which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Therefore, we are “laying aside falsehood,” and we are speaking truth to those around us. God allows us to be angry at those who rejected us. He says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Being rejected hurts and angers us, but we need to live our truth. The psychological damage of living in the closet can be so devastating. We have to forgive those who rejected us because God tells us to forgive. He tells us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

There will probably always be people who condemn the LGBTQ community, but I think it is important that we accept ourselves and put aside our old self and live authentically. It does not matter what others think of us. Their rejection of us is their problem and not ours. They are like the Gentiles who have “in the futility of their mind” become “darkened in their understanding,” and they are “excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them.” God commands us to love one another. When people put that aside because of false beliefs, they are the sinners, not us. People who are filled with hate have no place with God. They are lost in the wilderness because they have chosen hate instead of love.

So, be true to who you are. Cast away those who are toxic in your life. Get rid of those who cause you strife. Some of us can live in a kind of cold war with our families. We still love them, but we know of their disapproval. But living in the closet can do more harm to our wellbeing. It is very hard to love ourselves fully when we hide. And it’s very hard to love others when we don’t love ourselves. Therefore, the closet is a lonely place. By coming out, we  

  •        live our life honestly.
  •        build self-esteem by being honest about oneself.
  •        develop closer, more genuine relationships with friends and family.
  •        alleviate the stress of hiding one’s identity.
  •        connect with other people who are LGBTQ.
  •        are part of a community with others with whom you have something in common.
  •        help to dispel myths and stereotypes by speaking about one’s own experience and educating others.
  •        are a role model for others.

By coming out and being our true selves, we can learn to truly love God and love ourselves.

God Will Give Us Rest

Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls.

—Matthew 11:28-29

Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt overwhelmed by the things of this world? When life seemed so hard and no matter what you did, things just wouldn’t go right? Deep soul weariness: We all experience it, though in different ways and for different reasons.

Sometimes we can point to a significant factor, but often we can’t. Our weariness results from the cumulative, multilayered intersections of life’s complexities, bodily frailties, emotional heartbreaks, and the consequences of sin. During this pandemic, I suspect many people are feeling this way. Some people who have jobs and are working from home long to be back in the office. Then there are the people who have lost their job and worry when they will find another one in the current economy. Others live in fear of contracting COVID-19. Sometimes the despair surpasses understanding. We just know that we are feeling overwhelmed in our lives but have no clear reason.

Because our burdens are not simple, they are not relieved by simplistic platitudes (“Cheer up! Things are bound to turn around!”). But a simple promise can relieve a complex burden, provided we believe that the power behind the promise is complex and strong enough to relieve our heaviness. Let’s take a look at how we can turn to God in times like these. The passage above gives us promise.

The first thing that Jesus says to us is, “Come to Me…” We are allowed to come to God personally; there is nothing between Him and us. We should take our troubles to God as the song “What a Friend We have in Jesus” says:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful?
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden?
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Second, He is inviting us to come. God wants you, in fact, Jesus wants to save us from our sins and woes so much that He died on the cross to prove it. Jesus didn’t have to come to this earth and die, but God’s love is so great, and He wanted us so much that He chose to come. All of this means: YOU ARE LOVED. Third, God lets us know who needs rest: it is those who labor and are burdened, but what does that mean? In this context, those who labor means those who are striving to do it all on their own and failing. I know that in my life I often try to do many things on my own. Sometimes that works, but sometimes we need help. When we are heavy laden, it is like our spirit, mind, will, and emotions cannot function because there is this weight on us that we try to lift by ourselves. It causes us to feel down, depressed, anxious, all those negative things that we do not want in life.

So, what does God say when we are weary? He will give us rest, and the best thing is He even tells us how, and it is by taking His yoke upon us and learning from Him. What is this yoke? Rest for our souls (our mind, will, and emotions). So, what does God give us rest from? Among many things, God can give us rest from hopelessness, anxiety, and depressions. There was a time in my life when I didn’t really believe this was possible, but God sent caring people into my life and with time, I healed and my faith was restored. I can’t say that everything is perfect now, but the despair I once felt has lifted considerably, and a lot of that had to do with my faith in God and the love of those around me.

God has good plans for our lives, and we can rest knowing that no matter what our life is like now, if we trust God, it will get better, but it may take time. Jeremiah wrote a letter to the Israelites during the Babylonian captivity, a period which lasted nearly a century, and said to them:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

— Jeremiah 29:11-13

Sometimes God doesn’t immediately rescue us from suffering and hardship. Sometimes He may not fix a problem right away, and most of the time it requires patience on our part. The Israelites in exile felt despair, like we all do at times in our lives. These periods of hopelessness, anxiety, and depressions robs us of our ability to enjoy life and not only hurts us mentally but physically as well. That is not God’s will for our lives. God wants us to live a full life and is able to heal our minds as we take those steps of faith to find rest in Him.

So how do we find rest with God? We should do our best to be like Jesus to follow in his footsteps. Remember what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

—Matthew 5:3-12

This passage of scripture, commonly called the Beatitudes, are the teachings of Jesus in which He instructs us that if we live according to the Beatitudes, we will live a happy Christian life. The Beatitudes fulfill God’s promises made to Abraham and his descendants and describe the rewards that will be ours as loyal followers of Christ. Each beatitude looks at different circumstances of life and how all Christians are blessed through their faith. Through the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches us about virtues and values in life that will result in blessings and rewards. These beatitudes are not singled out for specific peoplethey are blessings applicable to all Christians. 

I hope that this will encourage all of us and give us hope as we face each day knowing that we are called blessed! No matter your current situation, age, job, or family life, if you apply the beatitudes to your life, you will experience a joy and be fulfilled in your life. The Lord “will give you rest.”

I want to leave you with the song “What a Friend We have in Jesus” as sung by the late Holly Dunn. Holly has long been my favorite country music singer. Sadly, she passed away back in 2016. However, she left with us her beautiful voice and her wonderful songs.

Trust in God

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble….Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (KJV) (Psalm 46:1, 10

The world is in chaos right now with the coronavirus pandemic and the myriad of ill-conceived responses to it. It’s particularly chaotic in the United States where our president (I almost wrote leader, but he is no leader), is doing everything in his power to make the world more chaotic. When we need strength and courage the most, we only have weak and cowardly. While the president’s campaign had claimed that more than a million people had sought tickets to attend the rally at the 19,000-seat BOK Center, the venue was still half empty by the time Trump landed in Tulsa. The crowd for the rally was much smaller than expected. COVID-19 has not been kind to Tulsa lately. At a second, outdoor venue where Trump was set to declare a “great American comeback” was so sparsely attended that he and Vice President Mike Pence both canceled appearances there. Maybe his followers are running like scared rats on a sinking ship.

Trump’s supporters have a religious fervor to them akin to the snake handling churches of my home state of Alabama. One man at the Tulsa rally said, “If it is God’s will that I get coronavirus that is the will of the Almighty. I will not live in fear.” This idea has been repeated by many who refuse to wear masks or social distance and choose to gather in crowds. What these people don’t understand is that God wants to you protect yourself and others. They equate Trump’s lack of morality, if they chose to believe he has a lack of morality, with various deeply flawed biblical figures: David, Saul, Solomon, and even the Persian King Cyrus. I won’t go into the whys of this strange belief because they are too ludicrous to even contemplate for long.

The fact is, the world has gone mad, and we need our faith to help right this ship. So, what can we do at a time like this? When we find ourselves in trouble, where do we turn?  Do we call our parents, best friend, or sibling?  If they aren’t available, then where do we turn?  In the moment you can turn to God, who knows you, loves you, and has made you who you are.  He will come to comfort us and rescue us when we encounter trouble.  He is always ready for us to pray to Him whenever our hearts cry out to Him. Pause, breathe, and meditate on the truth that no matter how chaotic our world feels, we serve a powerful God. Simple truth can bring us the most comfort in a confusing world. This is the truth; God is still in control and working on our behalf. We just need to trust God and keep calm and carry on.

Anger and Action

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

(KJV) (James 1:20)

Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

(KJV) (1 John 3:18)

What is human anger? It’s anger that occurs when someone rubs against our pride or selfishness. God still wants us to get angry, but for the right reasons such as the injustice to people of color and the those of the LGBTQI community. We must look after the most vulnerable among us today. They/we are discriminated against every day, and it should cause you to be angry. Learn to temper your selfish anger. When you feel yourself getting angry because your feelings are hurt, swallow it and focus your mind on something else. If you must be angry focus that anger on something that truly matters. Let it be a righteous anger. Stewing in your misplaced anger only produces more anger. Practice refocusing your mind as many times as needed and put your anger to good use.

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

(KJV) (1 Peter 4:11)

You have a gift. You don’t think so? As a believer, the Holy Spirit has given you a talent. Don’t hide it out of false humility. Instead, use your gift! What about a hidden gift of writing or of speaking out against injustice? Perhaps you have a gift of persuasion in either the written or spoken word. It may be something totally different, but you do possess a gift from God and maybe only you know what that gift is. It could also be a gift that you don’t realize you have. So, it is important that if you realize someone has a gift that they don’t use, then let them know what a gifted person they truly are. Help them hone that gift. Gifts can be used to bring glory to God when others experience your gift. Determine what your gift is and share it with others.

The Epistle of James is my favorite book of the Bible and speaks directly to my message today. For me, James more than any of the other epistle writers spoke of what it truly means to be a Christian. The theme of patient perseverance during trials and temptations is at the heart of what James wrote. James wrote to encourage his readers to live consistently with what they have learned in Christ. He wanted his readers to mature in their faith in Christ by living what they say they believe. He condemned various sins, including pride, hypocrisy, favoritism, and slander. He encouraged and implored believers to humbly live by godly, rather than worldly wisdom and to pray in all situations.

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone…. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

(KJV) (James 2:14-17, 26)

During the difficult times in which we are living, we really must remember what we need to be doing. Focus our energy and anger and use them for good works. Let your faith guide you to make this world a better place.

Guard Your Heart

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (KJV) ( Proverbs 4:23 

Joy can be hard to come by.  Sometimes even just getting through our daily routines can become overwhelming.  Our focus can easily get pushed towards the stressful, ugly and no good things of this world.  God warns that we need to take steps to guard where we place our focus.  Joy comes when we make a point to meditate on the good and beautiful things God has made.  Take steps to nurture your heart today. 

And Do

Let all your things be done with charity. (KJV) ( 1 Corinthians 16:14 

When people think of the way you express your love, what would they think of? Possibly by faithfully recognizing birthdays, or caring for extended family and taking them under your wing, or ensuring visitors leave with food and providing for their needs. How do you want to be remembered by those you love? Are you creating those moments of love you desire to express to others? 

Church Attendance

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. – Matthew 18:20

I moved from Alabama, which has a 55 percent church attendance (the highest in the nation), to Vermont, with a 21 percent attendance rate (the lowest in the nation) in 2015. When I lived in Alabama, I was a regular church goer. I went almost every Sunday with my family. However, since I’ve moved to Vermont, I have not attended church regularly for two reasons: 1) there are very few churches of Christ* in Vermont, and I have never felt comfortable attending other denominations, and 2) I do not like attending church on my own. It seems to me that I was given an overabundance of attention when I went by myself partly because it was a congregation struggling with attendance. I have never liked to be the center of attention. I prefer to blend into the background. And maybe it’s my current situation as an infrequent churchgoer that I do not believe that church attendance is absolutely necessity in the Christian faith. In Michael Houdmann’s book, Got Questions?: Bible Questions Answered, he writes:

The Bible tells us we need to be with other Christians so we can worship God with other believers and be taught His Word for our spiritual growth (Acts 2:42Hebrews 10:25), but it does not specifically state we must meet in a particular structure. Church is the place where believers can love one another (1 John 4:12), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), “spur” one another (Hebrews 10:24), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), honor one another (Romans 12:10), and be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32).

However, most Christian denominations disagree and require, or at least insist, on regular church attendance. Most believe church attendance is the foundation for the Christian life as the Bible and the sacraments provide the framework for the faith; most also believe that it is important for believers because it aids in the prevention of backsliding, as well as offers the company of other believers. You might be wondering why I am writing about church attendance. The reason is simple, during this time of stay-at-home orders, churches have largely been closed and offering alternatives to attending inside the sanctuary of the church. Numerous outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to church attendance. Some churches have flaunted the closure of churches and held services anyway. However, President Donald Trump made another play to his base Friday, declaring churches and houses of worship “essential” and sharply warning the nation’s governors that he would “override” any actions they take that interfere with the resumption of religious services. (He has absolutely no authority to do so.)

This declaration was a move meant to shore up the support of his core supporters at a time when his reelection prospects look uncertain in the midst of declining approval of his handling of the virus and the economic meltdown. Adding fuel to the latest controversy on the right – just as he did when he supported protesters at state capitols who rebelled against their states’ lockdowns – Trump tried to assert authority he does not have as part of his relentless push for normalcy. His comments came as we were headed into Memorial Day weekend, a time when health experts worry that Americans’ vigilance will give way to complacency with the potential for crowded beaches, pools, parks, holiday barbecues – and now churches – across the country.

There are many problems I have with mainstream (mostly Protestant) religions. Number one amongst my reasons is they have become too intent on building their congregations for all the wrong reasons. They want money and more money. The high salary some pastors make, especially compared to the congregants, is obscene. Go to most churches and they will tell you that you must open your pockets and give more in order to build a bigger church or even to build a “family life center.” I’m not sure what basketball court, gyms, coffee shop, or a bowling alley have to do with worshipping God, but that’s what so many are doing. They are making their churches playgrounds for the masses at the expense of worshipping God. I know of many congregations back in Alabama that require an income statement in order be a member to make sure that you give your 10 percent tithing, and it’s not just in Alabama. My granny used to tell her deacon who tried to get an income statement from her that it was none of his business how much she was worth and that she may not give 10 percent to the church, but she considered charities and helping out others to be part of her tithing. (Often if she heard someone was in need, she’d get their address and send them a check to help out. She rarely told anyone about this.) When she refused to release her net worth, the church people quit visiting her. She’d been a member of that congregation longer than I have been alive, yet they turned their backs on her when she could no longer attend every Sunday. They quit communicating with her altogether when she went into an assisted living facility in nearby Montgomery. If they couldn’t get her money, they had no use for her. Millions of dollars are being lost because people aren’t putting money in collection plates. Churches are desperate to have regular services start up again, and Trump is playing to his base pandering for votes at their expense and health. Churches have become business instead of places of worship.

So, my question is: Is it necessary for us to attend church to be good Christians, especially at the expense to our health and the health of others? The answer is no; it’s not. As the Bible verse that opens this post says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Christ says that any gathering of Christians is a gathering where He is. In my opinion, that includes each of you who come to this blog every Sunday and read my religious posts. We are gathering virtually, something that the writers of the Bible could have never imagined. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” The Bible is telling us to keep ourselves healthy and safe. By congregating in a church, we are not keeping our bodies safe, we are potentially doing something that could destroy the temple that is our body.

I want to take a quick look at how far back containment of illnesses go. First of all, what is the difference between isolation and quarantine? Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. An early mention of isolation occurs in Leviticus, written in the seventh century BC or perhaps earlier, which describes the procedure for separating out infected people to prevent spread of disease under the Mosaic Law:

If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days: And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more. – Leviticus 13:4-5

So, by this, we know that the practice of isolating diseased people dates back thousands of years and would have been known by early Christians. People in isolation according to Mosaic Law would not have been allowed in the temple to worship. If it was Mosaic Law that these people not attend temple to prevent the spread of disease, why is there a problem with people not attending church today in order to keep from spreading COVID-19? Furthermore, the word “quarantine” originates from quarantena, the Venetian language form, meaning “forty days”. This is due to the 40-day isolation of ships and people practiced as a measure of disease prevention related to the plague. Even in Catholic Venice, people under quarantine were not allowed to attend mass because they were to be isolated. My point is that isolation and quarantine have been around for a very long time, and at no point was church or temple attendance required by those in isolation or quarantine. Why are modern churches so adamant that their doors be reopened when they could possibly be spreading COVID-19 by doing so?

Some may point to the early plague outbreaks as examples of what to do in a pandemic. In those earliest cases, such as the Antonine Plague, Cyprian Plague, or Justinian Plague, Christians tended to the sick and their mercy on believers and non-believers alike helped to grow the Christian faith. During the Black Death, many priests died of the plague because they remained behind to help minister and nurse the sick. All of that may have been valid arguments back then to help others at the risk to their own health, but it is an invalid argument today against stay-at-home orders. Few people understood the germ theory of disease until the late 1850s with the work of Louis Pasteur, and it was not widely accepted until the 1890s. We now know so much more about the spread of disease, but with COVID-19, other than knowing that it spreads very easily, we do not know all the details of how it is transmitted, which is why we have the stay-at-home orders. During those early plagues, they believed in the miasma theory that diseases were caused by a miasma (μίασμα, ancient Greek: “pollution”), a noxious form of “bad air”, also known as night air. Germ theory just wasn’t understood in those days. Even with Mosaic Law, they did not understand germ theory, but still believed in isolation of infected people. Likewise, when the Venetians established quarantine laws, they only understood that the plague could be transmitted if diseased people came into the city, but they too did not understand germ theory.

All of this has been on my mind because I worry for my family back in Alabama. The state is opening up businesses and putting people at risk as the number of cases of the virus continues to grow. My parents, aunt, and sister’s family all attend church regularly, though at different churches. I know my sister already thinks that the closures in Montgomery by the mayor are overkill, and basically hasn’t spoken to me since I told her she was wrong. My aunt works in healthcare and is not about to risk further exposure or even spreading COVID-19 to others by attending church. However, I really worry about my parents. So far, they have seemed to be doing fairly well with self-isolation except for a few doctor’s visits my mother had and grocery shopping, but I fear as Alabama continues to open back up, their church will once again have regular services. Right now, they are having people park in the church parking lot, with their windows rolled up, and tuning to the preacher on a low frequency radio station. I wonder how long they will keep this up. My mother has had lung issues since she worked for the State of Alabama in a building with black mold on the roof and as a result has asthmatic bronchitis quite frequently. She can’t afford to contract COVID-19.

I’m just worried that the president’s rhetoric will put them in danger, as all of them are Trump supporters. I hope my mother has more sense, though I just don’t know. She was an infection control nurse and has had mountains of training on pandemics and the responses to it, so she should know better. She used to be part of the first line of defense for Central Alabama until she retired. My aunt, who worked for the same healthcare company as my mother, is now on that same task force. The thing is, they know what to do to keep people safe, but will they bow to the pressures of others who have the backing of the president? I just don’t know, and it scares me. 

Please, everyone stay at home and stay safe. Remember showing love for one another means doing whatever you can to keep each other safe.

*I am a member of the churches of Christ. Some people will write it as “a member of the Church of Christ,” but technically, this is incorrect. Church should not be capitalized in the name, though it almost always is capitalized on church signs.

I just saw Bob Slatten’s post “Funny Papers” on I Should Be Laughing and had to add this cartoon from the post:

Seen in Him

And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?  Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (KJV) ( John 9:2-3 ) 

It’s a common belief that people suffer as a way of punishment for their sins.  Yet, Jesus used the blind man’s disability to glorify God, not to punish him because of his own or his parents’ sins.  Could the same apply to our suffering?  We can view our suffering as an offering to God.  It helps to strengthen our faith, teach others about faith, and bring glory to God.  When you are low and struggling in your suffering, ask God to show you His perspective. 

Mother’s Day

Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Isaiah 49:15 (ESV)

Mothers are not perfect. Mine sure isn’t. When she found out I was gay, she wanted nothing to do with me. She got very depressed and went to bed and cried. My father went to her and basically told her to get over herself. I was their son, they loved me, and they always would, no matter what. But, she has never accepted that I am gay, and still lives in hope that I will find the right woman someday. I keep telling her it will never happen, but she lives in her own little fantasy world sometimes. Needless to say, my mother and I do not agree when it comes to my sexuality. We also don’t agree when it comes to politics. For some godforsaken reason, she’s a Republican. So, we have a bit of a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. We don’t discuss my sexuality, and we do not discuss politics. We try to keep to that rule, but we both break it too often. She can’t help but making some awful comment about homosexuality, and I can’t help making some comments about how unchristian Republicans are and just how awful they are. (I cannot fathom why she supports Trump when he stands for everything she has always professed to be against. Me being gay, she has a problem with, but him being an unchristian asshole, she can accept???!!!) I firmly believe Jesus would never be a modern-day Republican, no matter what the Christian Right says, but I digress.

Every mother is flawed but just as my father told her that day to love me regardless, God’s love for us is unchanging and unchangeable. His generous grace and great compassion are for all time and throughout eternity. What the Bible is saying in this passage is: while a mother can forget the love she has for her child, God never will. The design of this passage is apparent. It is to show that the love which God has for his people is stronger than that which is produced by the most tender ties created by any natural relation. The love of a mother for her infant child is one of the strongest attachments in nature. The question here implies that it was unusual for a mother to be unmindful of that tie, and to forsake the child that she should nourish and love. With that being said, in the passage above, Isaiah was asking a theoretical question when he said, “Can a woman forget her nursing child?” Children and their mothers have the closest bond, and no one can break it. This passage praises mothers as symbols of amazing compassion, never forgetting their beloved children.

While my mother and I may have our disagreements, we do have a strong bond. It may not be as strong as before I came out, but it is still there. She is my comfort, even when she is not being comforting. That may sound odd, but when I was young, my mother often sang to us. Sometimes it was silly little songs like “Fishy in a Bowl,” “Do Lord,” or “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby,” though she had her own little version of that last one. However, the one I remember most is “You Are My Sunshine.” Even today, when I am sad and lonely, or having anxiety or even a full-on panic attack, I can remember my mother singing ‘You Are My Sunshine,” and I am comforted. Part of it has to do with the rhythm of the song helping to slow my rapidly beating heart, but it’s also because I remember the good times when my mother would sing this to me. For the most part, my mother has always been there when I needed her. As she has gotten older, she tends to focus more on herself, but she was a nurse for most of her life and spent her life taking care of others. Deep down, she is a caring woman; she just shows it a little differently these days.

I want to leave you with a different verse, because while we may see things very differently, my mother does still love me. I firmly believe that she always will. She can’t help but love me.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

For the Good

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (KJV) ( Romans 8:28

How do you make sense of suffering when you see others walking through it or you are walking through it?  It’s wrong to assume it exclusively happens to punish sins.  But what if we view suffering as something that God can use for good?  No one claims to know everything about God or why He allows bad things to happen.  Ultimately, our thoughts on suffering reflect our belief of God’s character.  Do you view God as good and He can use events to draw us closer to depend on Him?