Not Being too Friendly and the Book of Proverbs

When I was a kid I had trouble making friends. I was shy, picked on, and couldn’t see. I was routinely lectured by various family members attempting to be helpful, that I just needed to be friendlier.

“When you walk down the hall; smile at people. When you enter a room; say ‘hello’ to people. If you want to have friends, you need to be friendly. The Bible says that.”

Telling shy and petrified people to smile and say ‘hello’ to strangers is like telling my dog to build a rocket and fly to Mars. Oh sure, she might get one built, maybe even launched, but Mars? Come on, even people can’t do that!

The place where the Bible allegedly says to be friendly to get friends is in Proverbs 18:24, quoted in the KJV says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Anytime I heard this verse I became annoyed.

I remained annoyed until I read this verse in pretty much any other version. Let me focus in on the “a man that hath friends must show himself friendly” phrase in various translations:

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Why Did God Allow the Serpent in the Garden of Eden?

Also known as:

Why did God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden?

Or

Why did/does God allow evil/sin?

Let me first begin by saying, “I don’t know.” These questions are not explicitly answered in Scripture. Any answer to these questions will be speculation. The extent to which the answer-er is bound to a theological camp and not Scripture, the more speculative the answer is.

Secondly, let me share my speculative answer.

In the beginning God created. This simple statement is the beginning of all “things.” God, being spiritual, is not a “thing.” He is outside the physical “thing” realm. He is the Creator of things—He made everyTHING out of noTHING.

God’s nature is perfect, holy, righteous, pure, and eternal. There is no lack in any aspect of Him. Anything He creates is not Him. Thus, the nature of that thing cannot be as perfect/complete as His nature.

The reason people can sin, the reason there is a serpent in the Garden, may not be philosophical at all; it might just be of necessity.

God made everTHING perfect. But since the nature of things is not as eternal and unchanging as God’s, there is chance for stupidity. We gladly found that chance and became stupid.

Continue reading “Why Did God Allow the Serpent in the Garden of Eden?”

Why Modern Christianity has so Little Joy and so Much Depression

I was listening to a podcast from a professional therapist where he talked about his patients’ depression.

He said a main source of depression (it’s a complicated issue, there are many causes for it) in our day is that we’ve attempted to take away losing.

In any competitive endeavor (not just athletics but grades, finances, promotions, you know, life), there are winners and losers. Losers feel bad. The idea was: losing feels bad so obviously causes depression.

The answer must be: eliminate losing. So we stopped keeping score, we bailed out losing businesses and people, the safety net has all but erased losing.

The theory said this should lead to people walking around in happiness with all the non-losing going on. What a utopia!

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the result. Suicide, drug use, and general depression appear to be higher than ever.

Continue reading “Why Modern Christianity has so Little Joy and so Much Depression”

OK Christians, Time to Do Your Job

In our current state of rancor, arguing, shouting, rioting, and clamoring, I have an idea: how about we listen to what the Bible says a follower of Christ should do and quit following the world’s example.

If we did, we would shine like lights in the world. The good news is that what we’re told to do sounds very refreshing and lovely right about now!

Here’s the main part:

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we instructed you,”
–1 Thessalonians 4:11

It’s time (actually it’s always been time) for Christians to put their heads down, shut up, and keep busy.

The world is fighting for power and domination. Let em. Your Father in heaven knows what you need. Seek first His kingdom and all those things will be added to you.

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Is Joe Biden the Antichrist?

Seemingly every presidential election results in people discussing if the new president is the antichrist. I heard it with Obama, Trump, and now Biden.

The answer is “no.” Here’s why:

First, this implies the antichrist will be an American, which is a typical American thing to think. America isn’t in biblical prophecy in any explicit way. Most prophecy surrounds the Middle East. America isn’t in the Middle East. My guess is that the antichrist will be from the Middle East.

Second, according to dispensational theology (which takes biblical prophecy as literal as possible and believes there will be a person called the antichrist), the antichrist shows up in the Great Tribulation Period. We aren’t in the Great Tribulation Period, so the antichrist is not in power right now. There is a chance he could be before the Tribulation and really get going during it, but I doubt it.

Allow me to make one more point.

If you think the political party that you hate is the one that the antichrist will come from, let me suggest you are already under the sway of the antichrist.

Continue reading “Is Joe Biden the Antichrist?”

No Man Knows the Day or Hour

Anytime people speculate about The End Times’ arrival, someone will say, “But the Bible says no one will know the day or the hour, so shut up, man.”

Which is fine, people shutting up is usually good.

But I think we miss the point when we quote that verse this way.

Here’s the actual verse: (always look up verses when people try to quote them.)

“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
–Mark 13:32

One thing to note about the context is that Jesus is giving a list of signs to watch for as the day approaches. So, you can kind of know!

Continue reading “No Man Knows the Day or Hour”

Life As Of Late

In the middle of October I met with our church board and told them I was resigning. They did their part trying to convince me to stay, and I appreciate that, but I was also quite clear with them that I couldn’t do it anymore. When I was done talking, they agreed.

Being a pastor takes a toll on a guy, or it at least took a toll on me. There’s a constant wear, emotional and mental mainly, that got to me.

First, there is the burden of giving an account for the souls entrusted to my care. This burden weighed on me massively. I took my job very seriously. Maybe too serious to the point of paralyzing myself with uncertainty about what to do or say. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it any other way.

Second, not only is there a burden on me to do what I can to help, whenever any of the souls I give an account for “mess up,” I feel it is my fault to some degree. Again, many have told me I’m wrong in this and not to do it, but I couldn’t figure out how. Every failing of every person under my care got to me. Perhaps this is my own arrogance, I don’t know, I just know I couldn’t make it stop.

Third, I took so many shots as a pastor. So many people have taken time out of their busy schedules to inform me how terrible I was and how I messed them up. Everyone and their mother had an issue with me at some point. This isn’t actually true, but it felt like it. Again, maybe this is my own arrogance rearing its head. I’m not saying I was right in feeling these things, I’m just saying this is how it felt. I was a pretty insecure guy to begin with, having grown up legally blind and being picked on, the church didn’t do anything to help this insecurity. It felt like junior high all over again (this isn’t unique to the church. I’m painfully aware that the entire world is junior high).

Fourth, yes there were faithful people and I have true friends and there were some who grew in Christ, but it doesn’t really outweigh the pain and the burden. It just doesn’t. Again, people told me it should and that I’m doing it wrong. Great. Fantastic. Can’t help it though. That’s how I’m wired. I couldn’t figure out how to do it differently.

Fifth, I tend to be annoying with my preaching and approach to scripture. By annoying I mean, I like to poke around in stuff that people don’t want me to poke around in. I take what everyone says and examine it, and usually prove that most people have no idea what they are talking about, they’re just repeating stuff. I did this because I had no idea what I was talking about and was just repeating what I heard. I didn’t want to do that anymore, so I started digging around. People didn’t like this. It also fed some Us vs. Them attitudes. I tried to do it better, I tried not to get annoyed and tone it down, but I couldn’t find the button to push to make this happen.

At the end of the day, the problem wasn’t with the church or any person or persons; it was with me. I couldn’t figure out how to do the job without feeling absolutely terrible all the time. There came a point I didn’t want to preach anymore. I was just done.

I’d sit in my office on Saturday night with complete depression sinking in. Sunday morning was just dread and fear. I was not good. I had to stop.

My whole life I’ve been in a pastor’s family. The church takes on a personality in the pastor’s family; it’s like another family member. A burdensome family member who’s always finding fault and is impossible to think of what to get them for Christmas. I’m done with that. I can’t do it anymore. It was feeding things in me and I didn’t want to blow my testimony.

I resigned publicly on November 1. That same day I went to Illinois to see my mom who was having troubles with her cancer treatments. Two days later she was in the hospital. A week later she was home on hospice. A week after that she died. I spent all of November in Illinois.

Needless to say, my brain was pretty shot for quite some time. It started working again on December 16. I know this because I have a voice recording app on my phone where I say stuff I want to remember when my brain works. There is nothing on it until December 16.

I do not want to be a pastor. I have determined that I can’t be The Guy in a church. I don’t think I’m gifted or equipped to do that correctly. I am gifted enough to be one of the guys, but not The Guy. I did my best. I tried. I gave it what I had to give. It’s not something I can continue doing.

I still get ideas and believe I have some insights others may find helpful, I hope this is the case anyway. I am thinking of ways to share these ideas in the future. It won’t be anything big or spectacular, just some hopefully edifying syllables from time to time.

I’m also looking forward to being involved in a church from a non-pastoral perspective. I am looking forward to not having to put up with pastoral awkwardness and judgmentalism that is so habitually heaped upon pastors. I have completely enjoyed every Sunday so far not being a pastor. I look forward to many more to come.

I’m aware that the pastoral role stifled my true nature to an extent! Knowing I represented a group of people kept me in check from saying and doing many things, not sinful things all the time either, just my natural responses.

I no longer represent a group! I represent me before God. Again, no doubt that’s how I should have been before, I know, I know, but I was never able to do so. Much of this was ingrained in me when I was growing up in a pastor’s family with my parents’ attitudes about church and pastoral ministry. It was depressing and fearful. It did a number on me. I feel the weight even as I write this, “Should I say this? Who is going to leave the church when they read this? Don’t be you; they won’t like you. You’re not good enough. Someone will get mad.” Shush!

I don’t know what this non-pastoral life will look like, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a learning curve! I apologize in advance.

I am looking forward to being done with being affiliated with pastoring. Not a pastor’s kid anymore, and now also not a pastor. I imagine this will be cool. I will miss aspects of the job, but all in all, I’m going to enjoy being free!

Thanks for caring enough to read this. I’d appreciate your prayer. Thank you.

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