2016 Almost Over

2016 Almost Over

This has been a strange year. I’m glad it is almost over. I haven’t posted very many times to this blog; only 10 times, this one being the 11th. It is December. It seems like the year just flew by.

I was in school at the beginning of the year, taking Culinary Management, Culinary Marketing & Human Resources, History and Intro to Sociology. I got an A in all four classes. I have maintained a 4.0 GPA since I began in 2013.

I am not sure how I feel at this point. I think I am somewhat depressed. I have experienced a lot of physical pain. I have suffered sleep deprevation because of insomnia that my doctor has not figured out.

Spiritual growth? Maybe. I don’t really know. I don’t really know what progress I have made. Perhaps the only progress I have made is in knowing that I am loved by the Lord, no matter what. That is something I didn’t necessarily know for sure in the past. So I would say, in that one respect, that I have grown significantly.

However, I do feel like I am somewhat stalled, but, at the same time I know that it is not possible to be standing still and not growing at all with the Lord. For the most part I am bored. Because my sleep schedule is off (completely reversed. Its 0515 and I have been awake since around 1330 yesterday afternoon), I am awake when everyone else is asleep, and everything is closed. I have been unsuccessful in reversing my sleep cycle, though I have tried.

I hardly seen anyone except for my cat, and she gets on my nerves severely. I am usually in pain so I don’t feel like going many places. My house is a mess because I simply don’t feel good enough to get up and do anything about it.

Well, maybe my year hasn’t been that great. Parts of it sound pretty rough. Oh yea, I had surgery in June to relieve pain in my neck. As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been much relief. But the doc said it would take about a year to fully heal.

I did lose some weight this year (on purpose). But lately, the last few months, I have been eating very badly, getting away from the way of eating that enabled me to lose the weight. I have probably regained a lot of the weight. I know it has to do with depression. Probably should look into getting some help.

I’m tired and I’m sad; seems like all the time. I really hope next year will be better. I have 4 classes left to graduate. I don’t know when I’ll get to take those. I have a new saxophone that I haven’t been able to play very much. It is really strange to me that I am no longer driven to play music. It used to be that nothing could stop me from making music, not even sickness.

I have written so little on this blog this year that it is no longer stored on its own server. I have moved it to wordpress.com. Its just cheaper that way.

Anyway, Christmas is coming. I may post once more before the year is over. Until then..

 

Reincarnation?

Reincarnation?

What I Was Taught

In the “Christian” faith we are taught there is no such thing as reincarnation. I have never doubted it, but there is a lot about life I don’t understand. I don’t understand myself as a human. I don’t understand my purpose for being. I am not even sure if I am supposed to have a purpose for that matter. And I’m not afraid to admit I do have doubts, especially about death.

I have always believed that there Is God. And since I was around 23 or 24 I have believed that it is possible to know God. I am now in my 50’s and I don’t know if I understand any more about God than I did when I first began.

What I still believe is that God created the universe, the stars, the planets, this earth, and the people, and all life that is here. What I am not sure about is the nature of man. It seems to make sense that we are spiritual creatures with a nature that is eternal. But we are evil. We seem to be sooo evil. We hurt and kill one another. It has been at least several thousands of years that I know about, and we are still killing and hurting one another.

At this point I still believe that the God who created this place and these people is still alive. I believe he himself did incarnate as a human and allowed himself to be born here. I don’t understand his purpose in doing so. I do believe the what is written in scripture, that He came here for us, to save us; from sin and ourselves. I believe he appeared here as the man Jesus. He allowed himself to be killed; a very brutal and merciless death on a Roman cross. I believe He is the center all things.

What strengthened my faith in the beginning

It is said by those who were his followers that he rose from the dead 3 days later, and that he ascended to heaven some 50 days later. Another follower of Jesus (after his ascension) was Saul, who later became Paul, a man who was dead set against the movement of believers who followed Jesus. He had a conversion experience while on the road to Damascus. He says he encountered the risen Jesus, and experienced a light so bright that he lost his sight. After some days of being blind he was sent by Jesus to a man named Ananias, that the man might pray for him. And after the prayer, Saul received his sight.

I mention Paul because he was a man who set himself against Jesus and those who believed in Him. Paul is important to me because he lived during time Christ was alive on one earth, yet he did not believe he was the messiah. However, after his conversion he abandoned his previous life to live and preach Jesus as the risen Christ whom God sent. This is a man who had everything. He was among the religious elite, a pharisee. Being a follower of Christ was an extremely dangerous thing in his day. His willingness to give up the life he had is to me strong evidence as to who Jesus is.

Now days, I don’t need Paul as a witness for my faith. I have had many instances in my life with the Lord that strengthen my own faith in the Lord. But as I said, there are many things I still don’t understand.

Why am I Wondering about Reincarnation?

The reason for the title is a dream I had recently. In the dream I was someone else, in another time, in a place I had never seen before in this life. I was pulling some sort of cart. It was night time. There was no electricity. I saw no street lamps. It was me, but I was not Tony Tate. I was running from something or someone. I was with another person, but I lost them, or they ran away. Then I woke up.

That’s all I remember, but, I had a strong feeling I had lived some other life. The bible doesn’t say anything about reincarnation. I don’t want reincarnation to be a thing. It IS a thing in so many other religions. I don’t want it to be a thing because after this life I don’t ever want to come back here. There is too much heart ache, people suffering, meanness, evil, inequality, poverty, suffering children, and more. The list goes on.

I will always believe that Jesus Christ is who he claims to be, the Son of God in the flesh. I still believe God is the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. I believe they created the universe, the animals, fish, birds and all the people of this planet. And if there is life on other planets, They created that life also.

I will always believe in God. However, I don’t think we have Him all figured out, nor do I believe we fully understand what this life is, or how things work. I don’t know if reincarnation IS a thing. I just know that I don’t want it to be a thing, and my reasons are purely selfish. I have had enough of life here in this world, and I don’t want to come back.

However, what if we are the same souls who keep coming back here over and over, and, instead of having to learn how to be better people to get a better station in the next life, we are here learning better how to live together as one people? What if the Lord sends us back over and over to help move the kingdom of God forward in the earth?

Conclusion

I don’t know the answers to all of my “what ifs.” I am clearly speculating here. I am not a theologian or a teacher. I am of no importants to anyone, accept maybe the Lord and my family. I am not saying I believe in reincarnation. I’m not sure about it though.

Life here is not about our religion. For sure, no religion has got it all sorted out. It is however, very important to try to know the one God who started it all, and still controls it all, and who thought it was of high enough value to incarnate himself as one of us. He has shown us great love, forgiveness, and grace, and is working 24/7 to make us into a people and family for Himself. I have faith in Him. And I find that it takes only a quiet moment of meditation in the Spirit to know much how he loves me, supports me, and wants me to be comforted, and to understand enough to keep going. For now that is enough. It will have to be.

2016 Presidential Election

2016 Presidential Election

President Elect Donald Trump

It is finally over! I am 53 years old. I have been voting since I was 18. I have never ever seen an election like the 2016 presidential election. It was the nastiest since.. well, the first time Barack Obama ran for president.

People said the nastiest things about Obama and his wife, Michelle. In my opinion it was because racism is alive and well in the United States. And when I didn’t think it could get any worse, it did, in this year’s election. The only difference in this election was the candidates themselves.

The two candidates, Donald J. Trump and Hillary R. Clinton, were both well known. Hillary is a very hated personality. I don’t know what it is she is supposed to have done but I seriously doubt it is any worse than what any other politician has done. The media certainly was not doing her any favors. They were not doing either candidate any favors.

The media painted Donald Trump as some kind of a racist. He very well may be a racist but I doubt it. He did a lot of things wrong during the campaign. He said a lot of things he should not have said. He was politically incorrect. I sometimes liked that about him. There were times he was clearly responsible for the violence that sometimes accompanied his rallies. I didn’t like that about him.

His experience is in business and television. He will have a difficult time I think, accomplishing his campaign promises; as hard as any other new president taking office. He appealed to the working class, promising to bring back jobs from overseas. He successfully divided the nation on immigration issues. He offended muslims, calling for a ban on all muslims entering the country, because of the threat of terrorism. I can’t say I didn’t agree with that one. I would have agreed if it was christianity that was threatening violence against non-believers.

The crowds that attended Trump rallies would make any non-white person nervous. There were a lot of white people there who may have been racist. I can’t say that they were all racists. However, a few people did find themselves in a little bit of danger when they decided to protest at a Trump rally. It was not a smart idea.

To everyone’s surprise, Trump won. It did not matter how the media tried to make him look like a sexist, racist, maniac (with plenty of help from the man himself). Hillary and the media failed to recognize that the people who supported Trump represented a need for something different. The people of the United States really are tired of the status quo. We want something different from the people in Washington who supposedly represent our interest.

I don’t think the  United States will be any worse with Donald Trump at the helm. I hope that he is able to bring back jobs to the working class people. NAFTA and other trade agreements really haven’t been that great for Americans. However, society is becoming more and more global. We have to work with other nations. I don’t think we can close off our borders and survive financially.

Hopefully America will give Mr. Trump more of a chance than they gave President Obama. I guess I can’t hope for more respect. People are already disrespecting the man’s wife.

I didn’t vote for him. As a black man I found his rhetoric too offensive, and in certain respects scary. I understand the need for better immigration control, but, it sounded like Trump had a problem with Mexicans and people who are muslims. When I first heard him talk about illegal immigrants my first thought was, if he has such animosity for those people next he’ll be talking about deporting blacks to Africa. Maybe it wasn’t racism that drove his speech, but, it certainly sounded that way.

He was an improvisor. He could read a crowd and adjust his rhetoric accordingly. That is how he found his voice. Once he figured out what the people wanted to hear, he had his platform. I don’t think he has any real idea how he will attempt to  accomplish what he has promised the people who elected him. Hopefully he will find success in accomplishing some of the promises that will actually help the country.

So, sincerely President Elect Trump, good luck.

The Love God

The Love God

The Love God

I call him the Love God because Love seems to be His greatest power. And for us humans love can be quite a challenge. My first  real challenge with love came 17 years ago when I was faced with the possibily that my marriage might end. Five years later it did end. But by the time the end came, I was okay with it. In fact, I was at peace.

In the beginning I was filled with fear. We had two kids and I didn’t want them to have to endure the challenges that comes with being kids of divorced parents. I had a fear of being alone. I’ve always hated being alone. I didn’t think I could survive alone. I don’t know exactly what it was that I was afraid of, but, I was afraid. About fear the bible says, “..love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear”(NLT Bible 1John 4:18). I had not been perfected in love (a work in progress).

I was angry too. I was angry at the circumstance I found myself in. I was angry with my spouse. I was angry at the Navy. I was angry with God, and I told him so in some strong cursing, evil, language.

At that point I was at a crossroad. Do I going to continue in anger, bitterness, and fear, or, do I find and choose another way? I wanted to do the right thing but at this time the right thing was not in me. But then something happened. The Love of God poured out into my spirit, something I had not experience up until that moment.

It was a warm tingling sensation that burst in the center of my being. It expanded and overflowed out of me, and then engulfed me like a warm blanket, protecting me from the elements of a bitter cold winter. I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND! I had just been expressing my anger at the Lord, like a child having a temper tantrum, and the result was the sudden sensation of love inside me, all over me, and all around me. Now you know why I called Him The Love God.

I know experiences like this don’t happen to everyone. However, it happened to me. There are times I have sensed the Lord’s presence, direction, and peace and love. However, I don’t really worry about what the Lord would want me to do in a given situation, or decision, or whatever, because its easier than that. But that’s for another blog post. However, I will say this; it takes faith, and not a lot of it. It doesn’t require your being perfect or good or holy. After all, I was complaining and blaming God for all my problems when I had this experience.

At that moment, as far as I was concerned, I was God’s only child, because that’s exactly what it felt like. Ever since this encounter with God’s love I have not been the same. That feeling of being God’s only child, His only focus, affected me deeply. In a song I wrote a few years ago, “Never Known Love Like This,” part of the chorus goes like this:

If I’d been the only one
Jesus would have come for me.
Up til’ now I didn’t really know,
I really didn’t understand, about the way you really feel.
I didn’t know, Lord.
I really didn’t understand your love.

For the next 17 years I had begun to learn and know the true nature of God. He is not the God of love, but, He IS love. Knowing his love for me has sustained me. It has given me the power to do things that I did not believe possible.

Love enabled me to let go when my wife wanted to leave, and forgive the pain it caused me. Love enabled me to endure when my children chose to live with their mother several years later. Love has enabled me to endure my children as they grew and became teenagers, and are now growing into young adults. Love has enabled me to endure the many difficult changes that have taken place in my life. Love has enabled me to endure the loss of my Momma. Love enables me to endure the tremendous amount of time that I spend alone.

Knowing God’s love for me and for my children, friends (including my ex-wife), and all others, helps me to see all of them through the eyes of Love.

As I continue to grow in love and grace, I am forever changing for the better. There seems to be a new challenge for love every week, day, month, year? – it never stops. But I have confidence because, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance”(NLT Bible 1Corinthians 13:4-7).

Not only does Love describe the Lord’s nature, it describes His nature in me. I become more and more His son as I allow his love to work in me. Without  his love my life would mean nothing, would be about nothing, and would be a miserable existence. Love is what keeps me going because the world around us is changing all the time.

Family Crap

family_crapI  find myself not knowing what to do. What do I do about family members that are in contention with one another. If I were to judge flippantly I would say my family is freaking crazy. How is it that after spending so much time together we all can’t get along with one another?

I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this with family. All I know to do is pray. I certainly don’t know how to help. This life is so tiresome. I don’t know how the Lord deals with so many people. It seems like most of us are insane.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m losing my faith. That will never happen. My faith has carried me through some of the most difficult times of my life.

I covet the prayers of all  of you who pray. And even if you don’t, remember my family in your thoughts.

Fall To Grace – Jay Bakker

Jay Bakker’s Fall to Grace

51q38KLoDBL._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_I am reading a book called, Fall to Grace, by Jay Bakker. You may remember Jim and Tammy Bakker, the founders and host of “PTL- Praise the Lord” show or club. You may not remember that they had a son and a daughter. The son’s name is Jay, and he has had his share of problems, just like the rest of us.

It may not surprise you that he is in ministry, but, if you knew a little bit more of his life, you might be. I’m not about to write a review of the man. I do want to tell you about the book that he wrote, It’s called, Fall to Grace.  It is quite good, and, he s quite good at getting his point across. He has first hand understanding of pain, difficulty, and grace.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book, and he is quoting Dr. Martin Luther King:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” (Bakker 140).

And I would add to this, that, violence cannot wipe out violence; only acts of peace can do that. As Christians we are supposed to reflect the nature of God, but, there is a problem. God is not hateful, intolerant, or violent. Every time an election year rolls around we “Christians,” so-called conservatives, evangelicals, show our true colors. And this year has been most frightening with the rise of Donald Trump. I’m not about to write about politics and the church either. That would take more time and space than I am willing to give.

I just want to remind people of who Jesus really is. The bible says God is love. So here are some characteristics of our God.

“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.
Love never ends” (1Corinthian 13:4-8).

Fall to Grace is a great book. I think every one of you should read it, whether you call yourself a Christian of not. And if you’ve been a Christian for a while, you can learn something from this book, and a man who knows something about guilt and shame and pain.

What Would You do with A License To Sin?

What would your heart reveal if you had a license to sin?

Darin Hufford
Darin HuffordAuthor of The Misunderstood God, The Relationship Code, and  The God’s Honest Truth. He is a husband, father and mentor to many (whether he knows or not). Darin has  great understanding of God’s love and grace, and is a great writer. You can find more on Darin on the FreeBelievers Network.

Here is a great article by Darin Hufford on the Grace of God. Does God’s grace give us a licensed to sin? Find out as I read this article. It speaks volumes about what real love is. You can find the article on Darin’s web site: http://freebelievers.com/blog-entry/a-license-to-sin Try not to let your head get in the way of this message. If you had a license to sin, what would you do? What is in your heart?

If you have never read the original article on Darin’s website, or somewhere else, this article may shock you. I know that when I read it I was a little stunned, but, at the same time, I was in a process of discovery. I had discovered that God loves me no matter what. I could be a murderer, and he would still love me. That is not to say that He is not working in my heart to make gigantic changes. He doesn’t want me to be a murderer. And the only way a murderer could change is to discover the love God has for him/her.

I don’t want to write an article here. Just trying to set you up for “A License to Sin.” If you have struggles with living the “Christian Life,” this will help you, if you let it.

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