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So, the following blog is emotional diarrhea.  I suggest that you do not read it.  I apologize.

I am not struggling with death, I am struggling with dying.  For the last 24 hours I have been thinking about how I want to die.  How do you want to die?  Or a better question:  How do you want to live?  You see, my father is not dead.  I can’t even say that he is dying, but he is alive.  I should be happy that he is alive, but I am not.  I want him to be living.  I have never understood the difference between being alive and living more than I do right now.  It is amazing how unprepared I am for this situation.  Why am I so unprepared for this?

In part I am angry at the church.  I have been to church most of my life.  My father is a pastor.  I have read the bible from beginning to end.  I believe, have faith in, trust and obey God.  I can think of the countless number of sermons I have heard regarding death and the afterlife, but not one of them ever addressed the fine line between life and death.  I have been thinking about Terri Schiavo.  Remember her?  She was big news for a while.  Terri Schiavo had a heart attack in 1990 and suffered severe brain damage.  For several years, doctors attempted to improve her brain function, but eventually she was diagnosed as being in a vegetative state.  In 1998, her husband petitioned to have her feeding tube removed.  Terri Schiavo’s parents attempted to block her husband’s petition.  It made national news.  Several politicians, including the President of the United States, George W. Bush got involved.  After years of court battles, people protesting in the streets, and massive news coverage, her feeding tube was finally removed in 2005.  Luckily, my situation is nowhere near the severity of that case, but all I can think of is how dare we get involved in that family’s business?  How dare we!  Why do we fight to keep people alive under any and all circumstances?  Is it the sanctity of life?  Is this what the Bible teaches?  Does a woman in a vegetative state in bed for well over a decade glorify God?  Were her parents just happy that she was alive?

I think people are afraid of death.  I don’t care if you are an atheist or a lifelong bible thumper, you are not likely to run in to death’s arms.  You will most likely go kicking and screaming.  Whether you are the atheist praying to the God that you don’t believe in as your plane is crashing to the ground or the believer that is praying to not be taken to that supposedly awesome place called heaven, no one wants to die.  As I stated in my last blog, I have no fear of my father’s death.  He will be going to a great place, but he is not in a great place right now.  How long should he remain in his current state?  How long would I want to remain in his current state?  The whole situation pisses me off.

In part, I am angry at science.  I know how the body works.  I know what every drug that is being pumped into my dad’s body is doing and what it is for.  I look at the blinking screens and can explain to you what each number means.  I also know that if it weren’t for science, he wouldn’t be alive right now.  I blame science for being in this current situation.  Before all of our medical technological advances, people died.  It was sad, but it was part of life.  Science teaches that if we can just figure everything out, we can cheat death.  Who would not be happy about this?  Babies are being born now that would have certainly died 10 years ago.  You can smoke and be 100 pounds over weight and be confident that there will be a drug that will allow you to continue to live in your “horrible life decisions” state.  Major disorders are being cured at the genetic level.  Our current generation believes that technology will fix everything, so why worry about your diet, exercise or health?  And why should they worry?  Technology is doing amazing things right now.  Eventually, no one will die.  Right?

I don’t know what the answers are to my situation or any other situation that involves death and dying.  I want him to be more than alive, I want him to live.  I wish I could talk to my father about this and discuss our current situation and ask him what he wants to do, but I can’t right now.  But one thing is for certain; I need to talk to my family about this; my wife, my mom, and eventually my kids because I would prefer to not be in this situation again.  I don’t want people fighting and trying to figure out what I would’ve wanted.  It is difficult to deal with the death and dying of a loved one.  Everyone is dealing with the issue in their own way and everyone is stressed and sad.  I don’t want my family fighting.  I don’t want my family to stop living while I am dying.  I want my family to bask in the knowledge of my love for them and trust that death will not be the end of me, but just the beginning.  I also want my family to focus on how awesome I was in life.  For all those reasons, you can let me go.  But if I am going to make sure that happens when the time comes, I am going to need to have the hard conversation about death.  If you are still reading, and if you haven’t already, maybe it is time for you to have the hard conversation now too.

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How do I want to die?  If all goes well, the earth will be attacked by aliens.  I will discover the weakness in the mother ship and everyone knows once the mother ship is destroyed, the remaining ships will follow.  Using a disguise of cabbage and cranberry juice poured over my body, I will sneak into the mother ship, killing at least 10 aliens with hand-to-hand combat, steal an alien weapon, grab the keys off a dead guard that I had to shoot, release the earth prisoners, which would include the President, hand the alien weapon to the President and explain to her how to get out of the ship safely, of course she will say, “What about you?”  I will say, “Mrs. President, it’s the 4th of July, and we haven’t had our fireworks yet.  It’s time for the big finale.”  I would then place my arm around her and give her a big kiss and say, “If you don’t mind, could you give that to my wife.”  The president and the other prisoners would run out of the ship.  I’d make it to the engineering room, overload the engines, find a button that will destroy the whole ship.  The alien commander bursts into the room, looks at me, I look back at him and say, “Yippy Ki Yay Motherfu…” -BOOM!!!  The whole world looks up and sees the explosions of all the ships and the Earth is saved.  The President says, “We owe our lives to that man.  We will honor him for years to come.  He was a father, husband, a great American, …” and then as a smile comes over her face, “and a great kisser.”  Pan out, show awesome alien ship explosions, cue 1812 overture and roll credits.  I’m just sayin’ …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love it when you stay to watch the credits and there is more movie.  Especially if after watching the credits it suggests a sequel.  For example, after I explode the mother ship, it turns out that by pushing the button, it automatically placed a force field around me.  I am encased in this bubble and I begin to float down to Earth.  I am shocked that I am still alive.  I start to laugh hysterically about how I just cheated death (This is important to any great movie.  Americans hate it when the hero doesn’t survive.  See blog above).  As I am floating down to earth, I stop laughing, quickly sober and realize, “Crap!  My wife is going to kill me because of that kiss!”  Continue credits.

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—This blog is dedicated to the newlyweds, Rob and Rick.  Thanks for letting me publish this blog.—

So, as I mentioned in my last blog, I was at a wedding in New York.  My buddy, Rob got married to his long time partner, Rick.  It was my first gay wedding.  I thought about hiding that fact till the end of the blog and even giving the blog a different title.  I would have started the blog talking about my friend’s wedding, describing all the details of the ceremony, and then ending with, oh by the way, the wedding had two grooms.  I had it all mapped out, and of course it was brilliant.  However, I have decided to go a different direction.  I don’t want to bury the headline, but lead off with it, and talk about issue head on.

As it was my first gay wedding, I wondered what would be different about it.  For example, will one groom wait at the front of the church, while the other one walked down the aisle?  If so, would the music begin and everyone stand up as the groom entered the church?  Would it be at a church? Would both grooms look alike, or would one stand out as different?  What would the pronouncement be?  Man and man?  Husband and husband?  Or just married?  What would the official and law binding statement be? (I did not learn the answer to this question until the next day)  And what would the reception be like?  I assumed there would be dancing.  I wouldn’t think two gay men could get married without dancing.  Regardless of your opinion about this subject, THAT would be wrong.  Would there be any flamboyantly gay men there?  Would there be at least one black gay guy?  Hopefully his name would be Longinus or DeVon, spelled DEE-VAWN.  And would I be disappointed if there weren’t at least one flamboyant gay person there?  Would there be a first dance?  And who gives away the groom?  Yes, I had a lot of questions, and every single one of them was answered.  First, a little background:

I met Rob in graduate school at the University of Kansas.  I knew him before he came out as a homosexual.  I was even aware of a few dates he went on with women.  I later learned that he was still in his “discovery” phase of knowing himself.  I would not say that I knew him well, during this phase.  Quite frankly, I don’t feel we truly became friends until he came out to me.  We were having lunch together, and he told met that he needed to tell me a story.  I don’t remember the story, not even a little bit, but I do remember that in order for the story to make sense, Rob had to be gay.  I also remember asking him why did he decide to tell me that he was gay.  And his response was, that fact was crucial to the story.  I said OK.  In my opinion, that was the first day of our friendship.  Since then, we have travelled across country together, we have camped together, we have roomed together at conferences, and we have made an effort to spend time together almost every year.  Leah and I have visited him and Rick in New York and it is an honor and a joy to be his friend.  So, last year, when he described his proposal to Rick and the upcoming wedding, there was no doubt in my mind that I (and if possible, Leah) would be there.  Unfortunately, Leah could not make it.  I am sure we will visit them later, as I am a much bigger fan of New York than I have ever been (more on this later).

Prior to leaving for the wedding, Leah had an interaction with a friend that surprised me.  Her friend made it clear that she was clearly against gay marriage.  She is religious, and knew that we are Christians and assumed that we would not attend the wedding.  Leah of course informed her that I was, and she would too if we could have worked it out.  Apparently, it turned into a heated discussion.  So much so they had to talk it out the next day to make sure that their friendship was not destroyed.  Luckily, it had not been.  But they clearly had run into the first topic where they must agree to disagree.  This concept of God and gay marriage fascinates me and lead to my biggest surprise about my friend’s wedding.

The wedding was surprisingly traditional.  It was held in a beautiful church.  The Episcopal priest did an excellent job.  Rob and Rick walked in together with their mothers.  That was the burning question on my mind at the start of the service.  Rick had purple shoes, which was really the only unique difference between the two.  I will say the shoes were fabulous.  I loved them.  Hymns were sung, prayers were given, and we received a short homily (sermon).  God was clearly invited to bless this union.  And this fascinated me.  Would anyone have been surprised if God was left out of this service?  You would not have to search long to find people who believe in God working very hard to prevent such unions.  It is a subject of great political debate.  Many people have held signs, protested, and fought to make it illegal for gay couples to get married legally.  And in most cases, the argument has been God’s decree that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman.  And yet, there I was, watching a man and a man get married, legally, with what I can only assume was no accident, a traditional, God-invited wedding.  Two people who could have actively rejected God and all He had to offer, actually inviting him to be present.

The subject of God even came up in the car as we drove to the reception.  It made me wonder if God was discussed in other cars as well.  It also made me wonder, what was a more positive message of God’s love, this wedding with two grooms, or the protests and opposition preached in churches across the land against gay marriage?

The mayor was at the wedding, which I thought was odd.  Later, I discovered that it was he that pronounced them legally married in the state of New York.  I think this had more to do with the church, but I am not exactly sure.  I meant to ask, but never got around to it.  (After Rob read this blog, he offered to tell me, but I have not talked with him other than texts prior to publishing this blog.  Sorry, it will have to remain a mystery to my readers until I call Rob) Possibly the Episcopal Church has not resolved their guidelines for gay marriage considering the new state law.  Oh, by the way, I am almost forgot; the mayor was wearing a kilt.  The church was called the Episcopal Church of St. Mary in the Highlands, which made me wonder if the whole town had major connections to the Church of England.  It does.  I also wondered if the mayor was wearing a kilt traditionally, i.e., going commando.  What I could say about a kilt, going commando and a gay wedding is just too much, so I will stop here.

After the service, we headed to the reception location.  It was at a very nice old house/inn.  Appetizers were ready immediately, which was nice, but almost too much food.  I had to monitor myself, as I would not have been hungry for dinner.  Also, the two best words in any wedding, “open bar”.  Dinner was nice, and it was fun to see friends that I have not seen since getting my PhD.  Also, there was a lot of dancing.  And of course, the required playing of “It’s Raining Men”.  Quite frankly, I would have been disappointed if I did not hear this song.  the funny thing is, this is the only song that guys did not jump on the dance floor first.  As a matter of fact, no one moved until a bunch of women jumped on to the dance floor and started dancing.  It was almost if the gay men in the audience felt that they did not want to be a stereotype.  I think it would be like me going to a buffet and avoiding the fried chicken until last.  It’s not that I don’t love fried chicken, I just don’t want to appear to be a stereotype.  And I certainly would not put watermelon and fried chicken on my plate at the same time.

There was only one flamboyantly gay person at the wedding, at least in my opinion.  He reminded me of Cam on Modern family or Nathan Lane’s character in The Birdcage.  No black gay guys (sad clown) and I don’t know if anyone was named Longinus.  The dancing was great, and quite frankly, the most dramatic dancer was the DJ.  An odd fellow, who was having a lot of fun, perhaps too much fun.  He clearly was dancing to the beat in his own head.  It brought me joy.

No throwing of bouquet or garter.  The group was divided into single men and women and the grooms threw books.  Not the best idea.  One woman got smacked in the head with a book.  I thought it was funny, but I also thought, this is why the traditional throwing of the book will never take off.

All in all, a great wedding.  I wish the best of luck to Rick and Rob.  I love you guys and may God Bless your marriage.  People may have a problem with this last statement, but that is their problem, not yours.  I also learned a very important lesson:  When I think about how people discuss homosexuals in politics and religion, it makes me understand why so many people are against the church.  After the wedding, it got me thinking, maybe a lot of people are rejecting God’s people and not God.

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I spent a little bit of time exploring upstate New York.  Not really exploring as much as taking the long way back to the airport.  Here is what I learned:  New York is GORGEOUS!  I mean BEAUTIFUL.  I have been to New York several times, but never out of the city.  I had no idea.  This may be the most beautiful state I have ever seen.  This may be the biggest secret in the United States.  And I just told you.  I’m just sayin …

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So, the title of today’s blog may be confusing.  I also could have called it, “Be Careful What You Wish For”, but I thought that was too cliché.  Nonetheless, I am often confronted with getting what I want, only to find that I really didn’t want that, or more specifically, that particular version of what I got.  For example, I wish I had more friends, but I hate it when people talk to me.  I am going to share two stories of my life that illustrate this dichotomy that I live with everyday.  Both stories occurred yesterday.

My son and I went shopping.  We were looking for a velcro strap for his leg.  He rides his bike to school and the weather has been cooler lately.  Since shorts season may be leaving us soon, we needed something to protect his right pants leg from the bike chain.  While shopping, I saw a woman who I recognized from church shopping with her two kids.  She was directly in the path of where I was planning on walking and I foresaw an impending forced hello and meaningless conversation about something irrelevant.  To avoid this torturous situation, I turned down an aisle and pretended that I did not see her, and hoped, or at least assumed that she did not see me. So, my son and I continued our shopping and went down an aisle, turned the corner, and BAM, there she was right in front of us.  She then, proceeded to walk right passed us, along with her children and did not say a word.

What?!?  How dare she not say hi to me.  I know she saw me.  What kind of person walks by another person that they recognize and not say hello?  That’s not very Christian.  I was upset.  I can’t believe she would just blow me off like that.  I almost turned around and said, “Hey! Lady! (Because I did not know her name, although I probably should have, since I know her husband’s name)  I know you know me!  You better recognize!  What would Jesus do?  WWJD!  WWJD  Bee-yotch!”  OK, the bee-yotch would have been too much, but you get my gist.  At least I had the common decency to duck down an aisle and attempt to avoid her all together, but I guess love and kindness is truly dead.  Yes, I know, I need help.

The second event took place after my son’s football game.  My son is 11-years-old and plays in a youth football league.  His team plays other sixth grade teams in the region.  My son has a physique built for football.  He is 5’6″, weighs at least 140 pounds, size 10.5 shoe and is strong.  He mainly plays nosetackle on defense.  The problem is, well, it is not really a problem, but one obstacle to football greatness is his lack of a single aggressive bone.  He is the nicest kid you will ever meet.  The phrase gentle giant comes to mind.  The truth of the matter is, I want him to do well in football.  And without much effort he plays a lot during the games, but he is not first string.  His coaches know that he could be the best player out there, but they have not been able to tap in to his aggressive spirit.

What bothers me the most is that he doesn’t seem to care or mind that he is not better.  I have on more than one occasion got mad at him for not, in my opinion, playing his best.  He also doesn’t seem to be bothered when the team loses, which is rare, but this might anger me the most.  How can you not want to win?  This is why I no longer go to his practices.  I do not want to ruin the experience for him by being one of those dads.  But, this year, I have been quiet.

Yesterday, his team was behind the whole game and ended up losing 26 to 12.  My son played one series and that’s it.  After the game I was furious, but again, chose not to say anything to him, nor his coach.  I really don’t want to be that guy.  While driving him to his mother’s, I noticed that my son seemed sad.  I asked him what was wrong.  He told me that he was disappointed that he didn’t play much and sad that the team lost.  He looked like he was going to cry.  OK, I did not want THIS.  We talked some more, and I suggested that next practice he ask his coach what he can do to improve and therefore play more during games.  He said he would do that.  And I hope he does.  I am excited for this, but it is crucial that I let him find his own way toward finding self motivation.  It is less about what I want, and more about what is best.  I want him motivated and to care, but not to be overly sad about every defeat.  It’s a fine line.

A quick addendum; I normally sit by myself at his football games because I really don’t know anyone else.  I am sometimes upset that no one sits next to me, or says hi.  Yesterday, I sat next to one of my son’s friend’s parents.  I hated every moment.  It’s not easy being me.

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Last week I drove to work and parked my car in a parking lot that is about 300 yards from my building.  As I am walking a woman starts talking to me about how nice it is to park in a lot that’s free.  Then ponders how many people know about this free lot and wonders if it will always be easy to park in that lot.  She introduces herself, and then asks a whole bunch of questions about me.  Luckily for me, she did not work in my building and I had to cut the conversation short to go to my office.  Who does this?  She talked to me like she knew me.  She talked non-stop and in my opinion tried to make a conversation way too personal for a first-time, you-are-a-stranger conversation.  You know what is weirder?  This happened to me twice this week.  This kind of stuff happens to me ALL THE TIME.  Why?  Why?  Why? And how can I make it stop?!?  I’m just sayin …

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So, according to a dude in California, Judgement Day, the Rapture, Jesus returns on May 21, 2011.  Now, if you live in the United States, that means Jesus returns tomorrow.  Of course, if you live in Australia, He is already here.  I always find it fascinating that when it comes to world revelations, it is always in US time.  I wonder if Americans realize that the planet is quite large and contains many more people and land than just us, but I digress.

First of all, when anyone claims they know the day of Jesus’ return, it pretty much guarantees that it will NOT be that day.  Simply put, if you are a Christian and believe in the Rapture, then you know that the Bible is quite clear that no one will know the time nor the day of Judgement Day.  Of course that has not stopped every crazy Rev, Pastor, and church fanatic from claiming they have figured out the ultimate secret, the End of Days.

Let’s for the sake of argument that tomorrow is indeed Judgement Day.  So, at bare minimum I plan on having sex tonight.  I generally don’t need trickery to get laid, but how can I resist the ultimate line, “We need to have sex tonight, for tomorrow we die.”  Go ahead and use this line tonight.  If it is successful, I want to know.  Also, if it is the Rapture tomorrow, I hope it is AWESOME.  I want craziness.  I want a ship or chariot the size of the alien ships from Independence Day and I want Jesus bare-chested standing tall on the bow of the ship.  I also want Jesus to be black, and as soon as I see him, I will yell triumphantly, “I KNEW IT!”.  There is no way a man from Bethlehem looks as white as does in 90% of the pictures and drawings you see of Him.  I want angels flying everywhere, the dead rising from their graves, and I want there to be a killer sound track to be playing from unknown heights as if a heavenly stereo.  Now, this probably sounds pretty sacrilegious, but make no mistake, if IT happens, I want to be impressed.  Finally, I will have a list of people who I will need to call, just to rub it in their face, and say “I told y’all.  Say it.  Saaaaaaay it.”  Then they will reply, “Brett, you are right, you are always right.”  “Now, come on over, and maybe I’ll hook you up with the Big Man.” I’d say.  Nah.  Just kidding, I wouldn’t rub it in like that.  Or would I?

The thing that really surprises me about this whole claim is how much media attention it is receiving.  Are people really that stupid?  Don’t answer that.  I even heard the story on ESPN radio.  This does not bode well for the gullibility of humans.  It pretty much means, if you say anything loud enough, long enough, and forcefully enough, you WILL get the attention of the masses.  Sad really.  Just think politics and it is enough to make you cry.

I refuse to discuss the validity of the Bible, the truth or lie of Jesus, and whether or not there will or not be a Rapture one day.  This is not what this blog is about.  But this blog is about how easy it is to get the masses to pay attention to what you have to say, and even get a large group of people to believe in what you have to say.  No doubt, there are many that believe that is how most, if not all religions began, and perhaps there is some truth to that, but what must be done to get people to think critically.  Believe or not this is true of hard-core scientific atheists.  They too gather in groups talking as one mind and pat each other on the back for believing in the same thing.  Add a few songs to their books and discussions, and you have church.

So, what’s my point?  Don’t really have one, other than the fact that tomorrow is likely to come without any fanfare and be no different from today.  And if you are like me and get some sex tonight, well then, Praise Jesus!

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My son invited two of his friends over tonight.  They had a great time and played very well together.  He has invited these friends of to our house about 20 times.  You know how many times they have invited him over to their houses? Zero.  To my surprise and jealousy, it does not bother Brett at all.  He likes to hang out with them, and it is clear that they like to hang out with him.  But here is the kicker, this is not normal thinking, but it SHOULD BE.  I wish I could be more like him in this respect.  Think about it, if you invited someone out to lunch, dinner, coffee, or any kind of excursion multiple times, and they NEVER returned the invite, wouldn’t you stop inviting them?  I know I would, and have, but it shouldn’t bother me so much.  You see my son has it right: If you want to hang out with someone, and they enjoy hanging out with you, but never return the invite, well, that;s their problem, not yours.  At least that’s how my son lives, and I could not be more proud.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I am not just quoting a John Lennon song, but introducing the topic of my blog:  What if there was no hell?  My wife subscribes to Time magazine, and this was their cover story.  It is in regard to Rob Bell’s new book: ‘Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived’.  Now, full disclosure, I have not read the book, but I am a huge fan of Rob Bell.  Bell has a video on sex that might be the best discussion of God and sex that I have ever seen.  Although I have not read his newest book, I found the Time magazine article interesting.

In Bell’s book, according to Time magazine, he proposes the possibility that Jesus Christ died for everyone, both past and present and basically, a loving God would not condemn anyone to hell.  Rob Bell is an evangelical teacher and heads a church of

Not your typical pastor

about 7,000 and apparently his evangelical brethren went crazy at the mere thought of a lack of hell.  Now, I know that some of my readers are atheists, so the idea of no hell is not a difficult concept to swallow, but for many people it is unthinkable.  Why?  Well, if you grew up in the church as I did, the idea that there is no hell is just about as heresy as saying there is no heaven.  For many people, evangelism without hell is like physical trainers without fast food, they both would be out of a job.

I may have mentioned before, I am a Christian.  I am not perfect.  I have made many mistakes in my life, both big and small, but I must ask myself:  Would my beliefs change if I was convinced there was no hell?  My beliefs wouldn’t change at all, and I am not convinced they should, nor should evangelists around the globe.  It has been my experience that very few, if any, have converted to Christianity out of fear of hell.  I am not going to try to convince my readers that there is a hell, but I do believe that hell exists.  In my opinion, hell is where God is not.  Like Bell, I believe in a loving God, and in His love, I believe He will not force anyone to be with Him that does not want to be, and therefore, the existence of hell.

I believe in the redeeming power of Christ, both on Earth as well as after, but have a hard time believing that Ghandi is in hell. 

In hell? I dont think so.

Now, keep in mind, I am not a preacher.  I did not go to seminary, and simply put, I am no theologian, but I can read and I consider myself pretty smart.  Let me share with you two Bible verses that might indicate that things are not as simplistic as many people believe them to be (which is the heart of the problem: people want their beliefs and lives to be simple and certain, but to discuss this would require another blog).

In the book of Matthew, chapter 19 (23-24), Jesus tells his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

If you google this passage, you will find a variety of different interpretations, but I want to give my simple take on this passage: Not everyone is getting in to heaven because they may be unwilling to do the things necessary to enter heaven.  We could argue at length what those ‘things’ might be, but I think Jesus is talking about those that put their trust and beliefs in non-God items, like money.  Again, it is just my opinion.

The second passage from the Bible I would like to share is from Luke 23:38-43 where we learn of a conversation among Jesus and two criminals being killed on the cross:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The above passage from Luke would suggest that getting into heaven might be a little easier than that whole eye of the needle business.  The point I am trying to make is that many people are going to be surprised at who they see in heaven.  On the same token, many will be surprised at who is not in heaven.  One thing I am certain about, if there is a hell, I do not decide who will be there and who will not, and I am quite thankful for that.  As many churches remain stagnant or are losing members, churches like that of Bell are growing and doing well.  I don’t think churches should abandon their beliefs, as I believe Rob Bell is quite biblically sound, but I do think the church needs to have a more open door policy rather than behaving like an exclusive social club with dress code, passwords and secret handshakes.

At the end of the day, whether you are a believer in God, an atheist, or think we were planted here by aliens, isn’t it at least worth considering alternative ways of thinking?  If your beliefs can’t survive alternative ways of thinking; then do you really believe what you believe?  It’s something to think about.

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Last Friday, I got a vasectomy.  It went great, thanks for asking.  I was going to regale you with the details of the operation, including the moment I laughed out loud and the nurse asked what was wrong, but I might save that for another blog.  I do, however, want to tell you about the Dr.’s instructions I received for post-operation, specifically, the “Call immediately if you notice:” section.  I am to call the doctor if, my temp is above 100.6 (normal), unable to urinate (makes sense), drainage, redness or bruising greater than quarter-size at incision site (of course, standard warning signs), and swelling greater than softball size (WHAT!?!?!)

Did someone call the doctor after their testes swelled to the size of baseballs and get shunned?  “Sorry sir, baseball size is pretty normal.  We are very busy here at the doctor’s office.  Please don’t call unless they reach softball size.”  Who draws the line for when to see a doctor?  Three hour erection?  No problem.  Four hour erection, get to the hospital immediately.  Who drew this line?  I have had zero problems, but trust me; I was not going to wait beyond baseball size, or even tangerine, OK, plum size and that’s my final offer.  I’m just sayin …

My line.

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So, yesterday I played golf with a friend of mine.  In the golf cart was an advertisement for the Martini Lounge.  The last time I had a martini was at a bar in Chicago where transvestite sang for entertainment.  I told him I was not a fan of martinis, nor transvestites, but not for the reasons you might think.  Martinis, mainly because they are pretentious, and transvestites because they wear too much makeup.  I hate makeup.  It is why I hate clowns, Shakespearian actors, Halloween, and anyone who works for or shops at Mary Kay.

The conversation continued into a more controversial area and that is homosexuality as a sin and laws that have been proposed to prevent certain lifestyles, such as gay marriage.  I realize that this is a hot topic for many of my readers.  Hell, it is a hot topic for many Americans, but I do not want to discuss whether or not homosexuality is correct or not.  Quite frankly, I don’t care, but I am interested in the concept of what I will call “The inequality of sin”.

If you are a Christian, or a believer and follower of the Bible, you are aware there are a number of commandments on how one should live.  The Bible is considered by many as the Word of God and when one does not live by the Bible’s commandments, and therefore God’s Word he is committing a sin.  The Bible also clearly states that “… all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” — Romans 3:23.  And this is a point that my friend made.  “Everybody sins.” He said.  I said, “You are right, but the problem is we do not treat sins equally.”  Whether you believe in God or not, whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Hindu, or Jewish, I bet you do not treat sins equally.

If homosexuality is a sin, then so is sex before marriage, living with someone you are not married to, wanting what is not yours, such as your neighbor’s wife, adultery, and my favorite, divorce.  We don’t view people living lifestyles in these “minor” categories as major issues.  And we certainly wouldn’t dream of proposing legislation to regulate divorce or living arrangements.  It is kind of hypocritical, isn’t it?  But this is an issue for everyone.  Regardless of your beliefs, my guess is you too have your pet sins.  Here is an example: If a man is convicted of being a pedophile, serves his time and is released, where does he live?  In your town?  My town? The neighboring town? An island?  Even if he reforms, never commits that crime again, he is forever labeled and will find it difficult to receive forgiveness anywhere, and I mean ANYWHERE.  Would I be OK with a pedophile living near me and my family?  Hell no.  But I am aware of my areas of hypocrisy, are you aware of yours?

My church starts a series called “Everybody” next week.  I am looking forward to it.  I believe the church should be more inclusive than it currently is.  If you have ever read the Bible, you will know that people absolutely loved hanging with Jesus.  You also know that he hung out with people who were CLEAR sinners.  People hated him, in part, because of the people he was associated.  Think about it.  The Christian church just 2000 years ago was a handful of people, and now has a membership of millions … millions.  The church was the place to be.  When was the last time you heard of the church as the place to be? Jesus was the man.  I believe if you met Jesus you would like him.  You would want to hang out with him.  Jesus was clearly a cool dude.  He was your bud, your pal, the kind of guy you could throw up in the back of his car and not get mad.  Where is His church?  I want to belong to a church that loves EVERYBODY and people feel welcome within its doors.  I want EVERYBODY to know that they are loved.  Does it mean you must agree with everybody, no but it does mean that we all have issues and we all have fallen short.

I don’t care who you are, you don’t treat sin equally, but if you did, you might not look at that particular person with such disdain and realize, we all got problems.  I don’t agree with everyone the same, but I want to love everyone the same.  I am not there yet, but I strive to be.  How about you?
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Whenever I go to the grocery store and walk through the detergent aisle I think it smells fragrant.  I walk and smell the perfumes and fragrances and have the same thought every time:  This would be a great place to fart.

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