I Am Nobody

As a child my parents told me I had so much potential. Usually it was when school came easy for me so I just skated by easily, and they were upset I wasn’t operating up to my potential.  I remember one time my dad said “You could be anything you want to be.”  I took that to heart, and so I became nobody.

I didn’t set out to become nobody, but the choices I’ve made in my life (some good, some bad) have brought me to this point in my life. Some of it I’m sure is God’s providential hand, and some of it is the natural consequence of my own choices (which God takes into account). 

What do I mean when I say I’m nobody? I’m nobody special. I’m nobody important. I’m nobody that you would see me coming and turn around to get my autograph or take a picture to prove you met me. I’m not impressive or outstanding really. I will almost certainly die having accomplished nothing of note or consequence.  99.9% of the world will almost certainly not notice when I am no longer here. 

I have had two professions, really: nursing and pastoring. I have won no awards in either career.  I’m a good nurse, but not the best nurse ever.  I’d like to think I’m a good pastor, but that’s not for me to say.  I try my hardest, but I see other men my age (and younger) attaining to positions and offices that I never will.  I’m not sure if I will ever pastor a church larger than 100 people (not that there’s anything wrong with that). 

But I serve my God. I put one foot in front of the other every day and try to do what He asks. And whatever job He has for me, I do it willingly and gladly, even if men never see or think highly of me. And that doesn’t bother me really, because I’m not doing it for them.

Psalm 84:10 says:

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.
            I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
            Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

That means it’s better to be a doorman for God than live outside of His will. it’s better to be a nobody for God than to be a somebody for the world. I am happy serving God wherever He sends me.

God does not require us to be spectacular. He just wants us to be faithful.

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Reparations

There has been a lot of talk going around lately regarding reparations for slavery in the United States. I decided that since nobody asked, you obviously want to know what I think about it.

I am pro-reparations. I believe that if someone harms someone else or steals from them, they should pay a penalty. The Bible expresses the same principle over and over in the Law of Moses (Exodus 21:22, 28-36; 22:4-14; Leviticus 24:19-21). Now I’m not saying that the Law of Moses is in effect, but the principle of reparations for harm done is there. If I steal and eat my neighbor’s cow, I should have to replace the cow with a similar cow or other financial penalty. If I rob a bank, I should have to pay back what I have stolen. So the issue of reparations is a personal one.

But the problems with the current issue of reparations for slavery in the United States are legion. Should someone who wrongly enslaved another person pay them restitution for the years of their life that were taken from them? Absolutely. But there is not a single living American who has personally and legally owned slaves, and there is not a single living American who has personally and legally been enslaved by another American. The last American slave died in 1971.

There are people calling for reparations today. There is currently a bill being considered in Congress. I’m curious how they are going to handle this issue.

Just as an aside, the mantra of some politicians continues to be that “the government” will pay for this or that. Anytime you hear “The government will pay…” remember that the only source of income the government has is YOU and other Americans. So when someone says “the government will pay…” just substitute “YOU” for “the government”.

But are reparations even possible? I came up with a list of questions that need to be answered before any attempt at reparations can be made:

  1. What is the criteria that qualifies someone to receive reparations? Skin color alone? Not every black person was a slave.
  2. What about non-black slaves such as the Chinese? Do they get reparations? Because any reparations paid for one slave should be paid to all descendants.
  3. What about people who have immigrated to the United States and become citizens since 1863? Should they be required to pay restitution since they had nothing to do with slavery?
  4. What about black people living in the US that have no slave ancestors? Why should they get “reparations” if their family was not involved at all in slavery?
  5. How would a person prove that they are the descendant of a slave?
  6. What about black people who have white ancestry? Should their white side pay reparations to their black side, so it’s a wash?
  7. Who pays the reparations? Only white people? If a person is mostly genetically white but has black slave ancestors, what then?
  8. What about the black slave owners? Will their descendants have to pay reparations?
  9. How much should each person get? How do we determine what amount is sufficient? If we go off the average cost of a slave in 1860 was $800, which is $24,364 in today’s money, should that amount be split between all descendants or should each descendant get that much? Can the United States afford to pay this massive fee (looking at our debt and deficit, I already know the answer is no)?
  10. Is this a once for all reparation or an annual thing? Just like with the minimum wage discussion, when is enough enough?
  11. If all taxpayers pay into the fund, aren’t we asking the reparation recipients to partially pay for their own reparations?

These and many other questions are almost impossible to answer, and reveal the complete ludicrousness of attempting to penalize certain people for something their ancestors did 156-398 years ago. And that is why I am against this idea. People should be held responsible for their own transgressions, but not the transgressions of their ancestors, because where does it stop? Every ethnic group I’ve ever heard of has been oppressed in history by at least one other ethnic group. Where does it end?

Personally I believe this is an attempt by certain politicians to basically bribe their constituents into voting for them. “I got you that reparation money! Vote for me!” If you wanted to help black citizens of the United States better their lives, there are better ways to do it than simply giving them money.

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Antisemitism Alive and Well in US House

For years his enemies have accused Congressman Steve King (R-IA) of being a racist. Despite all proof to the contrary, they finally took some quotes taken out of context from the New York Times and said, “SEE!!!” If they had proof he was a racist, they would have brought it out before the election in November. But they don’t. All they can do is misquote him.

Fast forward to February. Freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) makes antisemitic statements, just as she has for years. The Democrats in the house do absolutely nothing about it. March: Omar makes more antisemitic statements.
Journalists ask Omar to denounce antisemitism. She refuses. Democrats do nothing. Let’s examine the timeline comparing the accusations against King and those against Omar:

January 10: NYT interview published calling Steve King a white supremacist.
January 11: Steve King denounces white supremacy on the house floor, stating he is NOT a white supremacist.
January 14: Steve King removed from all committee assignments.
January 15: House passes resolution denouncing white supremacy (and by implication, Steve King)

Five days. That’s how long it took.

February 10: Omar tweets criticism of Jews generally and Israel specifically.
February 11: Democrat leadership (including Pelosi) criticize the tweets calling them antisemitic and “deeply offensive.”
February 12: Omar says, “I am grateful for Jewish allies…”This is taken as an apology. No action is taken.
February 27: Omar makes vaguely antisemitic comments again.
March 3: Omar is criticized by House members for her antisemitism.
March 6: Omar repeatedly refuses to deny her antisemitism.

February 10th to March 7th is 25 days. Twenty-five days and no action has been taken against this blatant racist bigot in the House.

At what point will Pelosi and the Democrats pass a resolution against antisemitism like they did with white supremacy?
At what point will Omar be removed from HER committee assignments?

Either we need some consistency here or there’s a bunch of people that owe Congressman King an apology. Maybe both.

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Heavenly Pleasure

I’ve heard people say, “I’m glad I’m going to heaven, but what are we going to DO for eternity?”  And that’s a valid question: what is heaven going to be like?

The answer is: I don’t know.  We do have some indications in Scripture. Revelation 22 mentions fruit, so eating is probably a possibility.  Jesus says there will be no marriage.  We do know that there will be no more sin, no more suffering, no more crying, and no more pain.  This post isn’t meant to be a comprehensive statement about what heaven will be like.  I just had a thought, and decided to share it. 

You know how certain things in life make you feel good? These activities vary widely. Petting a cat. Hugging someone. Giving someone a really special gift. Emptying your bladder after holding it too long. Laughing really hard. Sharing sex with your spouse. Eating things that taste really good.  Backrubs. Doing nice things for people.  The list goes on and on.  These feelings of pleasure come from God. These are psychological and biological mechanisms given by our Creator which make us feel good. 

So here’s my thought: what if being in the presence of God makes us feel that good? What if living with no sin, with the curse of sin lifted brings mental, emotional, and physical joy like we have never known before on earth?  What if the pleasure that comes from earthly things is just a small taste of what it will be like to finally fulfil our intended purpose: that of worshiping God day and night? It is possible. I don’t know for sure, I only suspect that in fulfilling our true purpose before God we will experience something like this.

But what I do know is that we are not supposed to live for the pleasures of this earth, twisting the gifts of joy that God has given us into sinful desires and actions.  Do not choose the pleasure of sin over the joy of following God and doing His will. 

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. – 2 Peter 3:10-13

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Steve King is Not Racist

On the one hand we have a mass of liberal democrats and the New York Times (but I repeat myself) who are telling us that Congressman Steve King is a racist, white supremacist, neo-nazi.  On the other hand we have….well, Republicans telling us that they agree with the Democrats.

Let’s examine the evidence.

  1. Steve King has stated repeatedly that he is not a racist, white supremacist, or a neo-nazi, most recently last week from the floor of the House.
  2. Steve King has made some comments that, taken out of context, can be made to appear as if he supports white supremacy.
  3. In October of 2016, according to the NYT, “Mr. King meets in Austria with leaders of the far-right Freedom Party, including Heinz-Christian Strache and Norbert Hofer. The party was founded in the 1950s by former Nazis.” He met with these people. Talking to someone is not the same thing as agreeing with them.
  4. His largest crime according to the NYT articles about him appears to be that he is actually proud of the accomplishments of white people, not unlike black people are proud of black accomplishments, latino people are proud of latino accomplishments, etc.

I have not heard one quote from him that is racist.  I’ve heard several quotes that the left would consider racist (such as “English should be our official language”) but are not actually racist. The closest thing he’s ever said that could be seen as racist is that there are Mexican drug mules bringing drugs into the US illegally. And yet this article and this article and this article show that it’s true.

If Steve King went on TV tomorrow and said, “All Mexicans are criminals” then I would reject him and label him racist.  But he has not done so. He has actually stated, “One of my most strongly held beliefs is that we are all created in God’s image and that human life is sacred in all its forms. All of my life’s work, all of my public record, all of my bills, all of my votes, all of my activities support that statement, that human life is sacred in all of its forms and that we are created in God’s image.”   

The resolution that the House voted on yesterday condemning white supremacy passed by a vote of 424 to 1.  You would think that the one was Steve King, but it wasn’t. He actually voted FOR the resolution condemning white supremacy. The one negative vote was from a Democrat who didn’t want to go on record condemning white supremacy, but instead wants a resolution censuring King.  Well Rep Rush, thanks for spoiling our chance to state emphatically on MLK’s birthday that the House unanimously rejects white supremacy.

As for Congressman King, I don’t know what is in store for him. He’s a true conservative, and as such, is a major target for the left.  I’m sure there are people reading these words that think I’m naïve or willfully ignorant, because you are just absolutely positive you know what’s going on inside Mr. King’s head.  Well I’ve seen racism, and he’s not it. I will continue to support Congressman King, I will continue to pray for Congressman King as I pray for all our leaders, that he would make wise choices, that he would do what is right, and that he would trust in Christ as Savior if he has not already done so.

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Past Tense

There is a way of thinking that permeates our culture and is reflected in almost every report given regarding someone who has died. I am talking about the practice of referring to people who have died in the past tense.

When we talk about something that happened in the past we use the past tense because it is past. It’s over. There is no more.

I had pizza yesterday.
I was 43 years old last year.
I got married 23 years ago.

My wedding was one day and it is over. The pizza was one slice and it is over. I am now 44 years old and I will never be 43 again. It’s totally appropriate to refer to things events happening in the past by using the past tense. The problem enters when we refer to people in the past tense.

When my wife went to visit family for Thanksgiving last month and I was not able to go with her I did not refer to her in the past tense when talking about her. I did not say, “My wife was a beautiful woman” or “My wife was very intelligent.” I said she IS beautiful, she IS intelligent. Because she is still alive. We were separated by distance, certainly, separation by distance does not negate existence. She does not cease to exist when I leave home to go to work.

In the same way, when someone dies they do not cease to exist. Those of us who have trusted in Christ as Savior and therefore identify ourselves as born again believers acknowledge this fact, that people do not cease to exist. Death is not the end. Death is a door way through which we step from this world into the next. I know several people personally in the next world. They are not dead. Their bodies are dead, yes, but that does not mean they as a whole are dead. When I get a haircut, part of my body is removed but I do not cease to exist. When someone gets their arm or foot amputated, part of their body is removed and is now dead but they do not cease to exist. And so it is with our physical body. The Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. That applies to those of us who have trusted in Christ as Savior. Those who have not trusted in Christ are still alive when they leave their body but they wish they were not because the Bible says that they are suffering as we speak. So when someone dies we should not say they WERE our brother or our sister or our father. Because they ARE alive they still ARE our brother or sister or father.

Death is not an ending, it is only separation. As believers, we will one day be reunited with those of our family and friends that are also believers. That is the joy and the hope and the surety of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus said in Matthew 22:31-32 ” “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”” If God doesn’t refer to these people who no longer live on earth as “dead” then why do we?

So the next time someone asks you, “Did you love that person who died?”  You can answer, “Yes, I love them” instead of “I loved them.”  Because they aren’t gone, they’re just somewhere else.

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The Revision of My Voting Policy Regarding Trump

I have changed my mind. In April 2016 I said I would never vote for Donald Trump. I gave nine reasons why. But times have changed, and I now have almost two years of track record to look at for his administration. Here is the list of my nine reasons, each immediately followed by the reason I have changed my mind.

1. His character is lacking: Not lately.
2. He is a narcissist. In fact but not in practice.
3. He thinks he is never wrong: still true, but he does listen to people and consider carefully before he makes decisions. And never admitting you are wrong is acceptable so long as you aren’t wrong.
4. He is nonspecific about his plans: This is still true, but the decisions he’s made during the first two years of his Presidency have been good ones, by and large, so we can probably expect this to continue.
5. He supports Planned Parenthood. He has actually made moves to defund PP and CNN is upset with his moves against abortion, so they can’t be pro-abortion, right? That being said, the Republicans as a whole (not just Trump) are flat-out refusing to defund PP, so it’s not just Trump’s fault.
6. He is not a good businessman. Still true, but from his actions, he’s a good President.
7. He lies constantly: He still lies, but not constantly. And he has kept his promises about the important things.
8. He does not tell it like it is: This is still mostly true, but as I said, his actions speak louder than his words.
9. He’s not a Christian. From every evidence I’ve seen, he still has not stated that he has trusted in Christ or asked Him for forgiveness, but he is at least friendly to Christianity.

If his current decisions continue to be positive ones for the country for the next two years, I can definitely see myself voting to reelect Donald Trump. I have stated that we shouldn’t vote for the lesser of two evils, but until Christ returns there will always be two evils because all humans are sinners. The question is where do you draw the line? What evil is too much for me to support someone as leader? Given his behavior and decisions, I don’t think Trump is “too evil.”

At one point in 2016 I referenced “you shall know them by their fruits” but I believe he has shown good fruit as President. Yes, he’s a blowhard. Yes, he is egotistical and at times dishonest. But he has kept his promises. He has nominated two constructionist conservative justices to the SCOTUS, he has made several other moves in foreign policy AND domestic issues showing his decisions are conservative even if his personal positions are not.

This does not mean that I will definitely be voting for him, only that he is back on the table as a candidate I might vote for. In short, I believe people can change. And so must I.

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