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My Big Deal about “the gays,” and why I’m much less tolerant now

I feel that, as a rule, I’ve always been pretty open to people of all types and backgrounds.  I’ve found it relatively easy to separate what I perceive to be “sin” from the person whom I perceive to be “sinning.”  While most Christians walk around making disgusted faces and talking bad about gay people, I’ve always been one to be welcoming to them.  While I do believe homosexuality is a sin, don’t get me wrong, I don’t find it to be any more heinous a sin than any sex outside a God-sanctioned marriage . . . something too many churches these days turn a blind eye to.  I’ve always believed if we’re going to allow couples who are clearly in sin, living together out of wedlock, or worse, while married to someone else, to come to churches, and be accepted and loved, and helped…then homosexual couples should be offered the same acceptance.  As Christians, OUR responsibility is to not allow acceptance of the people to equate to acceptance of sin, something that Rick Warren and Joel Osteen have sadly gotten all screwed up.  We should bring people to Jesus first and love and nurture and support them in their new life as the Holy Spirit weeds out sinfulness and unholiness from their lives…something that I believe would happen, even in homosexuals, if “Christians” would allow the process to work in them, the same as they would for anyone else.  “Oh!  But they’re born that way!” you say…of course they are.  We’re all born sinners…it’s in our nature.  We’re born with an innate and unquenchable desire to sin.  The attractiveness of different sins are different for everyone…but it’s something we all have in common.  Without Jesus (not religious teaching, or bible studies…or church membership…) setting us free…we’re all hopelessly chained to our sin, and unable to be free from it.  And secondly, we’re all tempted in all areas, at some point in life.  Different things “stick” for different people…but everyone experiences the same things.  The Bible says that “No temptation has befallen you, except what is common to all men.”  So…there you go.  I often wonder if the same “Christians” who hate the gays so much, may harbor their own illicit temptations that they’re trying to keep at bay.

Anyways… that has always been my feelings toward them . . . until I recently checked Disney’s calendar for the week I picked to take my family on vacation to Disney World.  You guessed it: Gay Days at Disney World.  The one timer per year when the most magical place on Earth is overrun with trannies, queens, queers, and lesbo’s…all showing way more PDA than would be acceptable from any heterosexual couple, and all showing way too much skin.  Disney World turns into a paradise for all manner of sexual perversions…not just your average monogamous gay people…with reports of rampant drunkenness and drug use throughout the week.

Disney does not warn unsuspecting families of this event when they book their reservations after years of saving for a special time for their kids.  No…instead, parents are surprised to have to explain to their 5 year old why that man is dressed as a woman, or why those two men are frenching in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  It’s absurd, and it’s criminal.  No one, I repeat NO ONE, has the right to rob my child of innocence like that.  I don’t want my 5 year old seeing a heterosexual couple being openly physically affectionate…much less a gay couple.  Now I’m not only forced to explain a 5 year-old version of the birds and the bees…now I’m forced to explain all kinds of sexuality to a child who shouldn’t even understand the basic concepts of it.

I don’t have a problem with “the gays” going somewhere (I suggest Vegas) and having an event for themselves.  It’s America…it’s free…you can do what you want.  But I have a giant problem with them coming to the place that children dream of throughout their childhood, and a place that parents take their kids because it’s wholesome, and good, and innocent…and them shoving their agenda and their sexuality down the throats of everyone there.  It makes me totally understand the haters, the bigots, and the extremists.  And while it probably won’t affect how I interact with gays on a daily basis…I feel victimized by the movement, and the event…and it’s certainly sent me throwing my card in with the “bigots” (although they might’ve called me that already…so…no love lost, perhaps).  Great job creating your own enemies, gays.

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Scary salmon-bot conversation

2:08:43 PM cheeringsalmon: Play him off, keyboard cat.
2:08:51 PM Casey: LOL
2:08:55 PM cheeringsalmon: I believe you.
2:09:06 PM Casey: I know…right.  Keyboard cat rocks my face
2:09:21 PM cheeringsalmon: Keyboard cat is my best friend.
2:09:24 PM cheeringsalmon: Forever.
2:09:32 PM Casey: What?
2:09:41 PM Casey: Keyboard cat is cheating on me with you?
2:09:44 PM cheeringsalmon: Uh
2:09:45 PM Casey: I will cut you
2:09:47 PM cheeringsalmon: I
2:09:54 PM cheeringsalmon: I thought that you were okay with open relationships.
2:10:27 PM Casey: I spent $25 on fancy kitty litter for her!!!  #*$*#$& it!!!
2:10:41 PM cheeringsalmon: She appreciates it. I know she does.
2:11:34 PM Casey: Maybe I can still return it.  She looked like a whore in that blue coat anyway.
2:11:45 PM cheeringsalmon: I’ll keep her.
2:11:47 PM cheeringsalmon: Thanks.
2:12:03 PM Casey: no no, thank you.  I’m allergic anyway.
2:12:23 PM cheeringsalmon: Awesome. I have a broken picture telephone.
2:12:36 PM Casey: I’ll bet you do
2:13:32 PM cheeringsalmon: Alriiiiiight.
2:13:44 PM cheeringsalmon: I just saw two elephants get married.
2:13:47 PM cheeringsalmon: What did you see?
2:14:06 PM Casey: It’s not nice to call fat people elephants.
2:14:11 PM cheeringsalmon: ><
2:14:16 PM cheeringsalmon: Sorry. . I forget. .
2:14:41 PM Casey: salmonbot, your conversational skills have improved since we lost spoke.  I’m very impressed.
2:15:03 PM cheeringsalmon: Thanks. I’ve. . upgraded my code.
2:15:17 PM Casey: Alright, talk to you later.
2:15:21 PM cheeringsalmon: Bye.

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Quicken Online and Me – BFF’s

When it comes to fiscal responsibility, Bush and I have a lot in common. And we’re both just as likely to be shocked-and-awed when we realize how much money we’ve spent, as we are to employ strategic misdirection in order to make it all look like — Oh no look! WMD’s! Budget deficit? What?

I’ve tried out a number of “services” designed to help me get better control of my budget. All of them seem to suffer from a few basic flaws:

  1. I am lazy
  2. I do not like balancing my checkbook
  3. I do not like paying bills

Unfortunately, none of those seem to address that problem.  And while a few made noteworthy attempts, they all suffered the same fate – no updates, and inaccurate data.  I’ve written before about Microsoft Money, which came the closest to what I needed.  It downloaded statements from my bank account, reconciled transactions, and kept track of bill due dates.  But that was about it.  Oh, it included tons of fancy-schmancy features for people who were already saving and have investments and multiple accounts . . . but I didn’t use them.  It’s biggest problem was that it required me to come home, sit down, and manually enter in transactions in order to keep them it up to date.  It was a hassle.  If I got off by a few days, and missed things, it quit reconciling right.  Some transactions were lost, some duplicated.  It was a nightmare.  For the 2 months I used it on free trial, I deleted and set back up my accounts 3 times, because they got all messed up.

After trying out Quicken, and then Quicken Online, I gave up, and went back to an old fashioned check registry written by hand.  At the time, Quicken Online cost $5 a month, and didn’t have my bank in their list of institutions.  I tried to use Mint.com to monitor my spending habits and create a budget…but while it worked easily, since I didn’t have to update it, that was also a huge drawback.  Checks and debits that hadn’t cleared, but soon would, couldn’t be tracked there.  And let’s face it, that is a huge area for problems with keeping track of spending.  Recently, Quicken Online turned into a free service and launched a free iPhone app.  This seemed too good to be true, so I decided to try it out, hoping against all hope that my small rural bank was on the list this time.

I had a trial account that I logged into . . . oh . . . twice a year ago.  I added a credit card, which it also lets you track just like any other account, and requested them to add my bank twice before giving up.  I was able to log in with the same name and password, and I saw my sad little credit card, still sitting there, quietly chastising me for not paying down the balance quicker.  I went straight away and attempted to add my bank.  The first negative I will say about this experience is that their search function SUCKS.  Especially for those of us whose banks begin with ubiquitous phraseology like “First National Bank of . . .” or “First State Bank of  . . .”  And forget about typing in your town or state, to search by that.  It only searches through the exact lettering.  If you patronize the First State Bank of Montana, you can search for “First State,” or just “First,” but searching by “Montana” will get you nowhere fast.  Add to that the fact that my bank opted for going by “FNB” instead of “First National Bank,” and you have a recipe for disaster.  To be honest, I have no idea if my bank was on there on my first login.  I searched a few different way, and then requested it to be added.  3 times.  Just in case . . . ya know?  Eventually, I decided to just scroll through to double check.  I clicked on the letter “F” and then did a “Find” for my town’s name on the page in order to find it.  A pain?  Yes.  But someone who didn’t get what was happening in the search field might have given up long ago.  They need to add the ability to search for any match, or search geographically.

Once you’ve added your accounts, though, the magic starts.  While most features are ones you would expect, like downloading bank transactions, and monitoring your budget (things Mint.com does just as well, if not better), Quicken Online allows you to add in your new transactions by hand, and it will automatically reconcile them with your cleared transactions when they come through.  For me, this is a non-negotiable feature in financial software.  The auto-reconcile is a nice bonus, though . . . and it happens daily.  I’ve run into a few odd errors, with some things not reconciling properly.  This is usually due to naming inconsistencies.  If you type in your gas purchase as “Gas – $25” and the transaction clears as “AC – Exxon 1235-jh12” then you’re going to have to handle that manually.  Also, a donation to St. Jude’s reconciled as a monthly insurance payment, and automatically added itself to my monthly bills.  Which was a minor irritation.   That being said, there are plenty of other cool features.

Home Page

When you log in, via website or iPhone app, you’re greeted with a simple and informative homepage.  Which may be something you’re not quite prepared for, if you’re a bury-your-head-in-the-sand person like me, when it comes to budgeting.  You get a quick list of balances on the left, with a giant box in the middle, stating your predicted balance, once everything has cleared, and all bills due before your next paycheck are paid.  Below that you get indicators of your risk of Overdraft and risk of Low Balance.  Mine were a disturbing, bright-red, capital lettered “HIGH.”

Crap.

picture-1

Transactions and Accounts

The next two tabs are for managing your accounts, and viewing your transactions.  The accounts tab is pretty self-explanatory.  You can see each account you have linked with Quicken, and what its current balance is.  In the transactions tab, you can see, for each account, up to your last 90 days of transactions, with pending / uncleared transactions that you enter yourself, along with entries for your next regular paycheck and next regular bills.  It’s useful in that you have an at-a-glance look at not only everything that is going on in your account, but everything that will be going on, forseeably, in the next month.  You can categorize each transaction for reporting and spending trend tracking, and put notes for each transaction.  Just like a regular check registry!  Only way more Web 2.0-ey.faq_upcoming_transactions_edit

These transactions are updated automatically daily, and can be updated at any time by clicking “Refresh.”  For some reason, this is a necessary morning ritual for me, because it seems my bank doesn’t update the previous day’s cleared transaction until after Quicken does it’s nightly check.  It’s way too obnoxious to not have the simple feature of specifying a time for the auto-refresh.  No excuse for that omission.

Goals

While the ability to set budgetary goals, or limits, is nothing new, I’m pretty fond of how well it integrates with the rest of the package.  Mint.com has this feature, and arguably does a better job of tracking your spending, allowing both categories and tags.  With Quicken, you’re limited to 1 category per transaction.  You can’t split payments between categories, like on desktop Quicken either.  It’s simple, and slightly limiting in that regard, but simple means quick and easy for me.  Having the ability to track multiple tags and categories is great.  But that’s where my eyes usually started swimming with desktop Money and Quicken.  I want to get everything categorized correctly, especially come tax time, but the truth is if it takes too much time to categorize and tag, I just won’t do it.  And many of you are no doubt the same.  One category for the transaction = quick and easy.  These categories are used in monitoring your budget.  You can set an overall spending budget, and household or grocery budget, entertainment, etc.  Nothing there to blow your socks off, until you start approaching your limit – when you get a text message telling you to slow down on your spending.  Some may find that to be too intimidating . . . I love it.  I don’t have to worry too much about monitoring how much I spent on eating out, because I know I’ll get a text message when I’m approaching the limit.

faq_budget_numbers1The down-sides to relying on this feature are obvious.  Some of purchases in the budget don’t lend themselves to this type of monitoring.  For instance, grocery shopping.  We typically have one large grocery shopping trip per week.  Sometimes we do a really big trip that lasts two weeks, with an extra trip to the store for bread and milk in the mean time.  It’s nice to track that budget on Quicken, but it’s conceivable that you could go from way underbudget, and far away from a warning text, to over budget in one shopping trip.  There’s no way around that that I can see.  But it’s something to mindful of.

Mobile

Quicken Online tied up its spot in as my #1 financial tool with its mobile features.  It has a free iPhone app that replicates nearly every function of the full web page.  You get the same predicted balance with Overdraft and Low-balance indicators.  You can get up-to-the-minutes goal / budget tracking.  You can see all your transactions, and easily add in a new transaction while you’re swiping your debit card at the check out, to keep everything up-to-date.  Those text message warnings about going over budget…they can be configured to notify you about all kinds of things, like low-balances on your accounts, or when your credit card is approaching its limit.  The iPhone app also has a virtual “Wallet” that allows you to track your cash transactions as well, so that you can get a truer picture of where allof your money goes.  If you’re one of those sad archaic types that still carry cash.  Quicken gets all “cloudy” by instantly syncing your transactions as you add them on your iPhone back to the website, and vice versa.  This is way more than just getting your account balance, and keeping up with transactions.  You can get real-time updates on how much money is left in your budget for anything you want to track, and have all the information you need at your fingertips to make a financiall responsible decision anywhere you’re at, before you spend the money.  That’s been invaluable for me.  Since I so rarely made financially responsible decisions.

Wrap-up

Quicken Online is a great and solid financial planning tool for simple check-book balancing and personal budgetary needs.  If you need features for business expense tracking, split transactions, multiple categories, or complex tax informations.  It’s probably not the best tool for you.  If you’re a savvy investor who wants to keep track of a portfolio: ditto.  But if you’re looking for a great tool for integrating “check registry” features with bank account monitoring, budgeting, and expense tracking, with auto-reconciliation, then I think you’ll be hardpressed to find a better tool, especially if you’re an iPhone user, with the iPhone App.

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Correction / Retraction on Assemblies of God Crack-Up

I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong, especially when what I’m wrong about is something like the disturbing news I shared regarding the alleged schism in the Assemblies of God.  General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, George Wood, sent me an email to set the record straight, with a well deserved admonishment to double check facts before reporting a story such as that.  My apologies to my readers.  While I did do some double checking with local contacts on this account, it was my error for not allow the A/G Headquarters to respond directly to what my sources were accusing.  According the Superintendent Wood,  “Nothing could be further from the truth.  There has never been a resolution to change our views on these matters; and if there were, they would be resoundingly defeated.

In all honesty, I’ve never been more happy to be wrong.  As I said in my previous post, I’m no longer a member of the Assemblies of God, but I actually have a copy of the 16 fundamental  truths in my house, and hold the positions taken by the Assemblies of God as a standard to judge my own beliefs by, after the Bible of course.  While many churches are being swayed by the false doctrines of the seeker-sensitive movement, I’m very happy to see that it hasn’t affected the doctrines of at least one denomination.

Living for Jesus, Ramblings, Uncategorized

Practical Marriage Counselling

If you’re a church-going person (and even if you’re not), chances are you got some form of marriage counselling from your pastor before he/she agreed to join you in matrimony.  And if you’re much like me, you look back and find that marriage counselling session to be woefuilly inadequate for the great challenges you began facing . . . oh . . . about a day after you got back from your honeymoon.  I feel like my session was much better than most people get, and really did equip us for some of the struggles we faced, with very practical, if simple, tools.  My favorite among them, is the deceptively simple, “The way you don’t end up getting a divorce is simple: don’t get a divorce.”

I’m not sure what most churches do, but most that I’ve seen around here have one conselling session with a pastor, who typically discusses the importance of following God together, and living a biblical life.  Then it’s down the aisle you go.  These brief sessions don’t scratch the surface of the many issues you will face together.  To remedy this situation, I am proposing a series of Marriage Counselling Sessions, that I hope many of you will adopt in your churches.

  1. Session 1 will be held individually with each person, and will be entitled “Men/Women are actually much crazier than you previously thought.”  Topics in this session will include what to do with an angry and hormonal wife.  How wives should approach a husband who wants to play video games/ watch sports all the time, and not spend time with them.  Bonus topics will include defensive postures for protecting yourself against flying remote controls and cordless phones.
  2. Session 2 brings the couple together to discuss finances, the single greatest cause of marital problems, in a lesson entitled “Women Are Expensive.”  Men are very unprepared on their wedding day for the expense of frequent gynecological exams and mall shopping trips.  This lesson aims to familiarize men with what they will face as provider for the family, and help women understand that men rarely have any of these expenses.  Topics include the ridiculous regularity with which women:
    1. Go to the doctor
    2. Buy shoes
    3. Buy Makeup
    4. Buy more clothes to match their new shoes
    5. Buy more shoes to match the new clothes
    6. Get medical tests run
  3. Session 3 delves deeper into financial issues surrounding marriage with a lesson entitled, “No Really . . . Women are Really Very Expensive.”  The shady ways in which hospitals and clinics bill multiple times for the same things will be discussed, as long as financial planning help for men to begin early to prepare their budgets for their new-found debt bliss.
  4. Session 4 entitled “And just wait until you have . . .” is a relatively short lesson, due to budget constraints of the counsellor.  He didn’t have the money to finish this topic on having children.  But the point should be easy to articulate by this time in the limited amount of time you have before your interview for a second job.
  5. Session 5 has been cancelled, in order for the counsellor to take on a second job to better pay for his own children and wife.

At this point, the betrothed couple should be marginally better prepared for the circumstances they will soon be facing.  “Oh!” you may say, “but this will discourage young people from getting married!”  Why yes, good friend, I believe you have the point exactly.  If someone gets married after these effective lessons, they are either A) Wealthy enough to circumnavigate most marital problems, or B) Very committed to becoming a Godly couple, and working hard together through touch times.  Either way, you should have no problems marrying them.

This valuable addition to any Pastor’s counselling plans is available for the affordable price of 2 pairs of shoes, 1 Doctor’s Visit, and 2 Outfits for young children.

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Assembly of God Crack Up: Church Under Siege

From the Author (4/22/09):  The allegations against the Assemblies of God in this article have been retracted.  While my stances put forth in concerning the Seeker Sensitive movement I still believe are true, I was contacted by the Assemblies of God directly and informed that my sources’ allegations were unfounded and untrue.  Please read with this mind.

–Thanks, Casey

In a surprising bit of news, I’m actually bringing you some breaking coverage of a doctrinal change being introduced to the Assemblies of God at the next General Council.  A very reliable source has told me that last year, a motion to remove any reference to “Speaking in Tongues” from the A/G doctrine was narrowly defeated, and is expected to pass this year.  This will effectly De-Pentecostalize America’s largest Pentecostal denomination.  Also up for a vote: A position statement on casual drinking: it’s okay now.

With this latest development, I’m frightened to believe that our enemy’s plan has been exposed . . . perhaps too late.  A little like when the Jedi finally caught on to the Sith’s plans in Episodes 1-3.  The demonic “Seeker Sensitive” doctrine espoused by Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, and many more has been infiltrating our churches for years.  Telling us that we need to make people feel comfortable with “Hippy Jesus” who just really loves you, man.  Black and white, right and wrong – that was soooo 50 years ago.  These days preachers are telling people that most things are okay, and God just wants to love you, and make you healthy and rich.  That’s about it.  You see . . . talking about sin, and Hell, and Satan – that makes people uncomfortable.  And that may make people not want to come back to church – and then we’ll lose tithe money.

I believe what is happening word-wide through the Purpose Driven and Seeker Sensitive movements is this: Any radical, Bible-reading, Holy-living Christian, who isn’t afraid to call out sin, and to teach true repentance and holiness, is being marginalized to the point where they have no voice in the world systems anymore.  The Southern Baptist Convention trotted happily along the 40 days of purpose years ago, and with the Assemblies of God now handing in their papers to embrace the New-Age Hippy Spirituality preached by Osteen and Driscoll, those of us who still believe that Hell is real, and that we are called to turn away from sin, and repent, and be saved by JESUS (yes, I’m still proud to identify with him, even if Osteen is not) are losing our denominations and organizations, one by one, that give us the money and collective voice to help guide our nation.

Dear readers, what you are seeing is the rug being yanked, and the slippery slope towards real religious persecution in the United States of America starting.  Of course it doesn’t look that way now, but when sin runs rampant in the church, God will begin his judgment of America starting in his house first.  We can see the end effect in many churches: Joel Osteen’s included (I don’t mean to just pick on him, but everyone has heard of him) people don’t speak about right and wrong.  And God clearly does, throughout the Bible, speak about right and wrong.  Today the A/G is considering removing Speaking in Tongues, because (According to another source) around 70% of their pastor’s don’t speak in tongues regularly, and because they think it makes people feel “uncomfortable.”  Next, talking about sin makes people feel uncomfortable.  Calling homosexuality wrong makes gay people unhappy, and calling abortion murder makes would-be moms feel guilty.  So let’s do away with all that.  Why not just remove the word “Church” from the sign?  Call it a “Family Life Center?”  Whoops!  Already done that.

Seeing yourself as a sinner is uncomfortable.  Jesus himself said that following him would turn fathers against sons, and brothers against brothers.  This is not a leisurely road we walk, and to preach that it is is against the Bible.  “Narrow is the way, and few there be that find it,” but “broad is the path that leads to destruction.”  What the world needs is an encounter with the real Jesus, not a watered down message that at some point sounds like the Gospel…but not enough to offend a Muslim.  Unfortunately, it seems that to have that experience, we’ll be meeting in homes and private residences sooner, rather than later.

Whether you are A/G or not, and I assume many of you are not, I encourage you to pray for their leaders to make the right decision.  I’m not A/G myself, but I was raised in their churches, and personally believe in each of their 16 Fundamental Truths of their doctrines.  Whether you are Baptist, or Church of God in Christ, or Nazarene, or none of the above, today’s frontline in the war for our churches in happening in Springfield, Missouri at the A/G headquarters.  And the remnant in that denomination need our support, and perhaps our meeting halls, soon enough.

Church, Uncategorized

Osteen and the Seeker Sensitive Heresy

Shane at Caffeinated thoughts has been discussing Joel Osteen, and what he is calling the “Prosperity Gospel.”  Now, you know how sensitive we are about using that term to describe flakey “Name it and Claim it” teachings, and seeker sensitive drivel, but it’s certainly worth a look, if for no other reason than to take a look at the odd, and frankly scary, interview with Osteen.  He stutters and stumbles over his words when asked why his ministry isn’t like a church.

My favorite was his argument over whether he used a podium or a “pulpit.”  Ridiculous.  One of his commenters said, “Truly…I cannot believe that there was not a massive backlash from the church as a whole after his pathetic interview with Larry King where his favorite expression during the whole thing was ‘I don’t know, Larry.’ Scary.”  Scary indeed.  Why hasn’t there been a backlash?  Has the church been lulled into complacency by the spirits of witchcraft coming out of the seeker sensitive movement, or is there no one left to really care?

Check it out…and I’ll be responding soon to Shane’s question: “What do you say to the faithful in the global south who are being persecuted. That God isn’t blessing you? That you don’t have enough faith? That you aren’t living your best life now?”  Biblical teachings on God’s plans to prosper his people are so far removed from this brand of flakiness, that you shouldn’t even call them the same thigns.  Stay tuned.

Uncategorized

Are you a DC or Marvel Christian?

Whose side are you on?
Whose side are you on?

I’m a big fan of comic books.  I grew up reading them, and to me, DC Comics was always my favorite.  For the unintiated, DC Comics is the home of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman – basically all the characters we think of when you think of iconic superheroes.  I occasionally picked up a few Marvel books, playing around for short times with X-Men and Spiderman, among a few others, but the characters and the stories never resonated with me much, so I stuck with DC by and large.

It wasn’t until adulthood, when a post by Jeremy Pierce got me thinking about it, that I realized what the fundamental difference in the two universes is, and perhaps what that says about people in terms of how they view themselves in the Kingdom of God. (It’s a stretch, I know . . . humor me)  There are tons of other differences, and tons of exceptions, but the basic fundamental difference is this: in DC Comics Superman is Superman, Clark Kent is a facade.  Superman is the core of who he really is.  In Marvel comics, the masks and tights is the facade.  Spiderman is really Peter Parker, at his core.  He’s just a kid trying to make it, and help some people out along the way.  A good kid, but Spiderman is a mask for him to do good works.  Ponder on that a minute, and let’s continue.

Continue reading

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A Look in the Mirror

I always know when God is trying to show me something about myself, that I’m uninterested in seeing.  My showers get much longer in the mornings, so I have to rush through Bible/Prayer time.  My prayers get very “surface” and short.  I decide I should read a book about how to live for God better, instead of seeking God for what he wants me to do each day.

This pretty much sums up the last few days.  Apparently I also get irritable, since I’ve been accused of being in a bad mood not a few times since the weekend.

I’m generally what I would call a “closed” person.  I like people… so long as they leave me alone.  I like them as long as they don’t interfere with my plans or encroach on my life in any kind of bothersome way.  I can see personally that this is obviously not the way to live, if I also intend to live my life in a way that shares the love of Jesus with people.  I certainly don’t recall Jesus ever saying, “What?  You want me to pray for what?  It’s 8:00 at night, I worked all day, and I’m tired.  Don’t bother me.”  Because that’s the way I view people: bothersome.  When all of this was working it’s way into my attention, my wife frustratedly exclaimed, “That’s why you don’t have any friends.  People are scared to talk to you.”  My quick and rather hateful response back was, “I have NEVER complained about not having friends.”  Upon saying it, I realized that I take a little perverse pleasure in every time someone says that people find me intimidating or unapproachable.  I found myself smiling when my wife told me that people are scared to talk to me, because they think they’re bothering me.  For some reason, I’ve developed an attitude that people are to be kept as far away as possible, at all costs.  And the more foreboding and intimidating I can be, the less I actually have to talk to any of them.

I recall, as a child, a particular incident where someone I considered a friend said, “Nobody likes you because you’re so smart.”  It was elementary school in the 80’s.  I was one of the few kids that had a computer, and my dad had found some silly program that let you make crossword puzzles.  I thought it would be neat to make one of some of our vocabulary words, and had him make it, so I could take it to class.  Teachers are typically very thankful for anything that helps pass the time in a class, so she copied it and passed it out.  A lot of kids thought it was neat that I (my dad) made it, and some didn’t.  Looking back, I can see that perhaps my little friend was jealous of the attention, or perhaps hated schoolwork, and didn’t want to do the crossword puzzle.  Maybe she just enjoyed being the “good” student in the class, and I had taken her out of the spotlight.  Either way, those words stuck with me.  Nobody likes me because I’m smart.

Now, I know many of your are reading this and thinking, “Really?  Get over it.  It was elementary school.  You’re an adult now!”  But in order to change the person we have become, I think we have to take a long look at what made us this way.

I’m not bragging about my intelligence here . . . I consider myself to be of relatively average intelligence, however sometimes people make me reconsider that idea. 😉  I did make straight A’s in school, and generally enjoyed (and still do enjoy) learning something new.  Anything new.  I rock at Trivial Pursuit.  But the perception was there, at least for that little girl, at that moment.  And at that moment, I embraced a very dangerous way of thinking, to ease the pain of the idea of nobody liking me.  I embraced superiority.  People didn’t like me?  That’s fine . . . it’s because I’m smarter than them.  She said as much.  It may be lonely at the top, but it just means I can look down on everyone else.  That began the wall building project in my heart.  And it didn’t stop for many years.

Now, I didn’t go around acting and claiming to be smarter than anyone.  It was the window through which I viewed the world.  Who needs friends and other people?  Not me.  Why would I?  I don’t need their help.  I was, and still am, for a large part, an island unto myself.  The foundation was laid for the walls around my heart.  And we know that our enemy took every opportunity to continue building them.

I never made friends easily.  I was pretty shy.  But probably as a result of this self-righteous and arrogant view of the world, many of them parted ways with me.  Each time adding another brick to my wall.  I remember when I was 15 having a friend that was one of the few I had personally gone out the way to make throughout my life.  On a school trip, his entire attitude changed towards me.  To this day, I’m not sure if or what I could’ve done to illicit that type of response from him, but we never spoke again.  We sat next to each other in a few classes.  The next day at school I turned around to try and see what was wrong, and he told me to never speak to him again.  Ever.  Ouch.

I did finally find some good friends, that I’m still friends with today.  So this isn’t a total pity party.  More of a “bringing you up to speed” explanation.  By the time I was an adult, however, I typically preferred being alone, and enjoying whatever things I found to pass my time.  My walls were complete.  Few came in.  The gates were way too guarded for that.  Too afraid to be hurt, too proud to open the gates, and walled in from all other sides.

Which brings us to today.  I’m a know-it-all.  But I’m seldom hurt, because few people get that close.  I can even admit to holding my wife at arm’s length occasionally.  The situation, at this point, requires more than my decision to go out and be nice to people.  I need God’s help to tear down the walls that I’ve built up.  It’s ugly to see myself as an arrogant, self-righteous smart-alec who believes he is never wrong.  I’m ashamed of my attitudes towards other people.  But I’m thankful that God showed me this in prayer, and is giving me the opportunity to change rather than causing circumstances to come about in my life that would force me into it.

I’ve let the cares of the world choke out the love of God in my heart.  It’s still alive in there, just small.  But luckily, if I let it, there’s nothing that can keep something that powerful walled up.  Now . . . I think I have a few relationships to mend, and perceptions to change.