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Faces in the the Ballpark Crowd Part Three

Polly and I have attended a handful of major and minor league baseball games this year, with two more yet on the schedule. We live about an hour from Toledo, Ohio and 45 minutes from Fort Wayne, Indiana. This affords us the opportunity to see the Single A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the Dayton Dragons, play the Fort Wayne Tin Caps and the AAA affiliate, the Louisville Bats, play the Toledo Mud Hens.

I love minor league baseball. The stadiums are much smaller, usually seating less than 10,000 people. The stadiums have a cozy, down home feel and, as a photographer, this closeness allows me to shoot the game up close. Instead of posting photographs of game action, I thought I would post some of the non-game related shots. I hope you enjoy them.

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Faces in the the Ballpark Crowd Part Two

Polly and I have attended a handful of major and minor league baseball games this year, with two more yet on the schedule. We live about an hour from Toledo, Ohio and 45 minutes from Fort Wayne, Indiana. This affords us the opportunity to see the Single A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the Dayton Dragons, play the Fort Wayne Tin Caps and the AAA affiliate, the Louisville Bats, play the Toledo Mud Hens.

I love minor league baseball. The stadiums are much smaller, usually seating less than 10,000 people. The stadiums have a cozy, down home feel and, as a photographer, this closeness allows me to shoot the game up close. Instead of posting photographs of game action, I thought I would post some of the non-game related shots. I hope you enjoy them.

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The Hypocrisy of Christian Government Officials Refusing to Issue Same-Sex Marriage License

 

letter to the editor

Letter submitted to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News on July 13, 2015

Dear Editor,

Evangelical Christians are infuriated over the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.  Granting U.S. citizens equal protection under the law and affording them the same civil rights heterosexuals have is seen as an affront to God, the Bible, and true Christians everywhere. As a result, a handful of Christian government officials are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

Should government officials be required to violate their religious beliefs in the execution of their duties? They serve the public, and when they walk in the door of their respective place of duty, what God, the Bible, or their pastor has to say has no authority or relevance. The United States is a secular state, and the highest court in the land has determined that marriage laws discriminating against same-sex couples are unconstitutional. Every government official is duty bound to obey the law, and if they can’t they should either quit, be fired, or removed from office.

Evangelicals and their counterparts in the Catholic and Mormon church have at their disposal all the means necessary to undo same-sex marriage. If they feel the Court acted unjustly, the proper recourse is to work towards a constitutional amendment that establishes marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Empty threats of second amendment remedies, secession from the union, and Sodom and Gomorrah-like judgment from God change nothing. If Christians want real change, a return to Ozzie and Harriet’s 1950’s, then they should work to amend the Constitution. They won’t do this, of course, because they know they don’t have sufficient numbers to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision.

Why is it Christian government officials issue marriage licenses to adulterers and fornicators, but draw the line at same-sex couples? The Bible sure has a lot to say about adultery and fornication, yet these “sins” are routinely ignored. Only homosexuals and same-sex couples are singled out for discrimination and abuse. Why is this?

This question is not hard to answer. Having spent the first 50 years of my life in the Evangelical church, 25 years as a pastor, I know firsthand the rampant hysterical bigotry and homophobia within Evangelicalism. Evangelicals are now known as the religion of hate, and every time people like Franklin Graham, Tim Wildmon, Al Mohler, Ken Ham, or James Dobson open their mouth, the public is reminded of this fact.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Faces in the the Ballpark Crowd Part One

Polly and I have attended a handful of major and minor league baseball games this year, with two more yet on the schedule. We live about an hour from Toledo, Ohio and 45 minutes from Fort Wayne, Indiana. This affords us the opportunity to see the Single A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the Dayton Dragons, play the Fort Wayne Tin Caps and the AAA affiliate, the Louisville Bats, play the Toledo Mud Hens.

I love minor league baseball. The stadiums are much smaller, usually seating less than 10,000 people. The stadiums have a cozy, down home feel and, as a photographer, this closeness allows me to shoot the game up close. Instead of posting photographs of game action, I thought I would post some of the non-game related shots. I hope you enjoy them.

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Songs of Sacrilege: Glory Hallelujah by Frank Turner

This is the thirty-first installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Glory Hallelujah by Frank Turner, an English folk/singer-songwriter from Meonstoke, Hampshire.

Video Link

Lyrics

Brothers and sisters, have you heard the news?
The storm has lifted and there’s nothing to lose,
So swap your confirmation for your dancing shoes,
Because there never was no God.
Step out of the darkness and onto the streets,
Forget about the fast, let’s have a carnival feast,
Raise up your lowered head to hear the liberation beat,
Because there never was no God.

There is no God,
So clap your hands together,
There is no God,
No heaven and no hell.
There is no God,
We’re all in this together,
There is no God,
So ring that victory bell.

No cowering in the dark before some overbearing priest,
Not waiting until we die until we restitute the meek,
No blaming all our failings on imaginary beasts,
Because there never was no God.
No fighting over land your distant fathers told you of,
Not spilling blood for those who have never spread a drop of blood,
No finger pointing justified by phantoms up above,
Because there never was no God.

And I know you’re scared of dying man and I am too,
But just pretending it’s not happening isn’t going to see us through,
And if we accept that there’s an end game and we haven’t got much time,
Then in the here and now we can try and do things right.
We’d be our own Salvation Army, and together we’d believe
In all the wondrous things that mere mortals can achieve.

Because I’ve known beauty in the stillness of cathedrals in the day,
I’ve sung “Glory Hallelujah! Won’t you wash my sins away?”
But now I’m singing my refrain and this is what I say,
I say there never was no God.

Sacrilegious Humor: Christianity by Dave Allen

This is the twelfth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is Christianity by Dave Allen.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

Linda Italiano Says God Delivered Her From Lesbianism

deliverance

Linda Italiano is the latest person to publicly profess that Jesus has delivered her from a life of carnal relations with the same sex.  Italiano, age 52, was a practicing lesbian for 34 years. In 2014, she started attending Life Church in Williamstown, New Jersey, a garden-variety Evangelical church with a charismatic flavor. Italiano writes:

It wasn’t until I started attending church in early 2014, that I saw a different way of living and thinking. This was where my plan and God’s plan collided. As I began attending week after week, I started to understand the Word of God, but I had it in my mind that lesbianism was going to be the deal breaker. I thought that if the church wasn’t going to condone it that I would leave. I also thought that once everyone found out about me I would be asked to leave or I would feel unwelcome.

Thankfully, I was wrong about all of this. I requested a meeting with the pastor where I told her everything and I was met with love and respect. I was also shown exactly what the Bible says about homosexuality and it was made clear to me that it was unacceptable and wrong. I came away from that meeting still feeling welcome and accepted in the church, but understanding that homosexuality is a sin like any other sin. I understood that the Word of God is more important than anything else, and He is the answer to all of my problems. It did not take very long before I was completely delivered from the homosexual lifestyle and I totally renounced it. God did for me what I had been unwilling or unable to do for myself.

Normally, I would leave sexually confused people like Italiano alone. It’s her life, each to their own. However, she has published her story and it was recently featured on the CHARISMA website, so I thought I would give her story the attention it deserves. Italiano recently posted a link to her coming-out story on Facebook. (link no longer active)  Here’s how some of her friends responded to her born-again heterosexual experience:

linda italiano facebook

According to Italiano, her slide into decades of scissoring began at age 18 when her older brother was killed in a car accident:

In 1980, a month before I turned eighteen, my older brother was killed in a car accident. This was the event that changed everything for me. I went from a stable person with goals and dreams to an angry, hopeless, directionless person. My family started growing apart immediately after the accident as we each dealt with the loss separately. This began many years of victim mentality thinking, which hindered me in a big way as it colored all of my decisions going forward.

In 1980, the drinking age was eighteen, much to my detriment. It had become increasingly difficult for me to spend time at home because my mother was taking out all of her unhappiness and hurt on me. I had become her target for all that was lost in our family. I began to spend much of my time in bars. I drank to excess from the start and I quickly became an alcoholic. I also met a woman who introduced me to lesbianism. I chose this lifestyle for thirty years or so until I became a Christian in 2014.

Drinking for me was like a job. I lived in fear of withdrawal and tried unsuccessfully to walk that line between maintenance drinking and blackout drinking. Blackout always won. This lasted until the age of thirty-three when I finally stopped drinking.

Even though I was sober, I was aware that there was still a huge void in my life. I started living a more solitary existence and was full of fear. I had very little self worth and was settling for crumbs from people in my life when I should have been expecting more.

I developed a plan. I was going to find a woman who would treat me well and I would spend the rest of my life with her. I had convinced myself over the years that I was born a homosexual, even though there was evidence to the contrary, and I thought this was the only path I could take. Being around homosexuals for so long, the idea was reinforced in me that I was only attracted to women and that same-sex attraction was a positive thing.

Was Italiano a homosexual? Is she still a homosexual? I don’t know. Only she can answer that question. What I do know is that homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality and bisexuality, and all the Bible quoting in the world won’t change this fact.

I find it interesting that Italiano sought out a church where most of the staff, including the lead pastor, is female. The pastor of Life church, Jamie Morgan, also has a deliverance story to tell. According to Morgan, at age 26, she was “miraculously delivered from alcohol, agoraphobia, fear, anxiety attacks, depression and nicotine.” In a blog post titled, Fear is a Liar, Morgan writes:

I was saved at twenty-six years old. I was an alcoholic, filled with fear, anxiety, worry, and depression. One night, I fell to me knees and said, “God, I can’t do this anymore. The way I’m living my life isn’t working. I’ve even tried living like others thought I should. That’s not working either. I want your plan for my life. I don’t know you, but your plan for my life has got to be better than anything that I can come up with. I give you my life. I give you my heart. I ask you, Lord, to take this messed up girl, and if you can do anything with her life, to do it.” And He did it. He delivered me from all my fears. He delivered me from alcoholism. He delivered me from panic attacks. I was agoraphobic. I was so scared of panic attacks that I couldn’t go anywhere. I was a prisoner in my own home. But I sought the Lord, just as Psalm 34:4 says. I cried out to Him and He delivered me. After I prayed that prayer of salvation, it felt like shackles fell from me. From that point on, I had to renew my mind according to the Word of God. As I did, I was able to maintain my deliverance.

Here’s Morgan’s Facebook response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage:

Dear Christian who has embraced the apostasy of same-sex marriage:

I ask you to prayerfully read, and somberly consider, this plea…

“Did God really say…?” was the strategy the enemy used in the Garden and the same cunning he uses today. Getting us to doubt any part of God’s Word remains his deadliest weapon. A true follower of Christ makes the quality decision, from which there is no turning back, that God’s Word is the Truth – no matter the cost, public opinion, philosophies of this world or political correctness – even if we have close friends or family members that are in the homosexual lifestyle. It is a non-negotiable for which the true Christian will die (and many have). If you are a Christian, and have caved to societal views on this or any issue, you have been deceived by Satan. Deception, when given root and not repented of, will spread to your entire life – and could eventually effect where you will spend eternity. I implore you to repent for doubting God’s Word as the Truth and for practicing “Cafeteria-style Christianity” which is no Christianity at all. And I implore you to recommit yourself to believe and stand on God’s Word as the only authoritative, inerrant and infallible Truth that exists on the face of the earth.

In Christ’s infinite love,
Pastor Jamie Morgan

The assistant pastor, Marie Campbell, also has a similar deliverance story, having been delivered by a divine encounter with Jesus from “IV drug addiction and alcohol.”

Cults like Life Church are the worst of their kind. They deliberately seek people who are substance abusers or are struggling emotionally and mentally. They offer them them a hot shot of Jesus, neglecting to share with those they prey on that once they are hooked on Jesus they will be expected to conform to Morgan’s fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. (Morgan is a graduate of Oral Roberts University)

Sadly, Italiano has surrendered her will and reason to Morgan, Life Church, Jesus, and the Bible. Whatever her problems might have been or still are, they have been swallowed up by Evangelical moralizing and puritanism. Time will tell if Jesus is enough to keep her from returning to the arms of another woman.

Larry Tomczak: The ‘Summer of Love’ is to Blame for Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

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In recent years, it has become fashionable to blame Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, for every perceived American social and moral ill.  According to Larry Tomczak, the blame for the legalization of same-sex marriage belongs to the ‘Summer of Love’ generation. In a post titled 6 Lies from the Pit of Hell, Tomczak traces the moral decline of the United States from the drug using, free sex days of the 1960’s to the recent U.S. Supreme decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Tomczak, a one time associate of C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, writes:

…Beginning with the shocking assassination of President Kennedy in the ’60s, a flickering of Camelot–inspired hope was extinguished. Prayer and Bible reading were banned from our public schools and the “God is dead” pronouncement of 1966 fostered an era of skepticism and cynicism bleeding through our land.

It’s not like there was one defining event that triggered our current confusion, but when the turbulent 24 months of ’67 and ’68 erupted on the scene, clues emerge. Cultural analysts call this a “tipping point.”

The year 1967 was dubbed, “Summer of Love.” Scores of us naïve youth fell in line behind pied piper Scott McKenzie as we grabbed our knucklehead buddies and love beads and swayed with the wind all the way to San Francisco. Do you remember the song? “Are you going to San Francisco? You’re going to meet some gentle people there. … ” It almost moves you to put some flowers in your hair!

Millions of us idealistic young people and our counterpart “hippies” believed we were ushering in the long–awaited “Age of Aquarius” with all our peace symbols, free love and free speech. American psychologist Timothy Leary, took LSD and told us, “Turn on, tune in and drop out.” Seduced by our foolishness we declared, “Never trust anyone over 30!” while Pete Townshend and the Who exclaimed, “Hope I die before I get old!” (He’s now 70 and still cashing in on his musical career!). Soon thereafter, hundreds of thousands were sloshing in the mud at the Woodstock Festival—can you believe it’s been almost 50 years?

Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, was my idol as I was a drummer in The Lost Souls. His moronic philosophy: “I’m interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activities that appear to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road to freedom! ”

Slowly but surely, years of “freedom” took its toll. Time magazine called 1968, “A knife blade that severed past from the future.”

Casting off restraints to protest and launch the Gay, Women’s and Black Power Movements, the Sexual Revolution and the Drug Counterculture, we soon morphed into meltdown. The Civil Rights Movement was one positive initiative.

Pop idols Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison all were dead at age 27—overdosing on drugs, sex and unrestrained freedom. AIDS (GRID – Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, as it was called) followed. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated. Student riots paralyzed Chicago. The Altamont Rock Festival degenerated into murderous mayhem right before Mick Jagger’s bloodshot eyes. Kent State University erupted in campus shootings over the still-simmering Vietnam War. Hippie communities and gay bathhouses started folding like houses of cards as Barry McGuire sang “Eve of Destruction.”

Abortion demands intensified as all the “Make love—not war” mantras spawned unwanted babies. Soon abortion was legalized.

Divorce laws were liberalized (today 80% of divorces are “no fault,” translating into 45 million divorces since the end of the ’60s!) Sexual standards evaporated and resulted in rampant pornography, skyrocketing out-of-wedlock births, one in every four teens strapped with a sexually transmitted disease, drug abuse, school violence, teen suicide, spousal and child abuse, violent crime, prison overpopulation, sexual anarchy, gender confusion, glamorizing and promotion of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism with gender reassignment surgeries. All of this proliferating since the now infamous “Summer of Love” soured to a stench…

Multitudes of people need a reality check to bring them out of a sentimental yet distorted remembrance of this period. We must remove the romantic recollections of this turbulent ’60s era. In contrast to PBS nostalgic specials highlighting the supposed peaceful and musical ’60s time period, we need to come down to earth and recognize the devastation that resulted. This was not a time that was all groovy, lovey, peaceful with flowing-hair, girls in granny dresses twirling in the park amid syrupy-faced guys with tambourines and doves flying around their heads as they harmonized in childlike unity, singing “Kum ba ya” and playing flutes while innocently getting high. This is a fantasy that needs to be shattered immediately…

Like many of his ilk, Tomszak pines for a return to the 1950’s; a time when Negroes knew their place, abortion and birth control was illegal, sodomites were still in the back of the closet, women stayed at home, divorce was rare, and Christianity ruled the land, In Tomczak’s mind, everything began to go downhill when God was thrown out of the public schools and hippies spent all their time smoking dope and screwing.

Tomczak mentions six lies, lies he says are from the pit of hell, that are now accepted by many Americans:

  • Premarital, extramarital and traditionally abnormal sex are moral and healthy.
  • There should be no sanctity of human life in law.
  • Drug use makes great recreational sport.
  • Divorce offers an easy escape from marriage.
  • Marriage should be redefined to include same-sex unions.
  • God is dead—at least make it appear that way by systematically airbrushing Him from society.

In typical Evangelical fashion, Tomczak shows he has no understanding of what those outside of his cult believe. He also assumes that the only  legitimate standard of morality is his fundamentalist interpretation of the Christian Bible. Using Tomczak’s infallible moral standard,  premarital, extramarital, and homosexual sex become abnormal, immoral, and unhealthy. An unwillingness to believe life begins at conception means that you believe human life has no value and should not be legally protected.

I don’t know many people who think that drug use is a “great recreational sport” or that divorce “offers an easy escape from marriage.” Do some people treat drug use as a recreational sport? Sure, but I have yet to see anyone suggesting we start the ADUL, the American Drug Use League. Long before the ‘summer of love’, humans were using drugs, legal and illegal, to alter their mood or emotional state. 2,000 years ago, Jesus turned water into wine. Unless Tomczak thinks Jesus turned the water into Welch’s grape juice, the wine provided by Jesus at the Wedding at Cana, was a mood altering drug.

And when it comes to divorce, what is really behind Tomczak’s objection to an “easy escape from marriage?” Is it because divorce is forbidden by the Bible or is the real reason women are now able to free themselves from abusive men? Perhaps the real issue is uppity women who dare to think they should be treated equally.  Kick them shoes off, clean the house, cook supper, and have lots of little Christians, ladies! That’s your calling. Leave the hard work to men like Larry Tomczak.

The real reason men like Tomczak rage against liberalism and secularism is because they no longer have a preferred seat at the cultural table. They are upset that progress has moved the United States beyond the zenith of Evangelicalism, the 1950’s, when In (Christian) God we Trust was added to our paper money and  allegiance to the Christian God was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. More and more Americans are indifferent or hostile towards Christianity and this has Evangelicals looking for someone to blame. For Tomczak, the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of long-haired tie-dyed wearing hippies.

Like every Evangelical guru, Tomczak has a plan:

Three things are essential for us to see societal transformation.

1. We must recognize the gravity of the situation.

2. We must cry out to God for wisdom and a sense of urgency.

3. We must pray and proclaim the gospel and truth at every opportunity as we engage outsiders in a winsome way.

This presupposes that we know the issues, the truth, and have the courage and confidence to speak out. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, wisely using the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone” (Col. 4:5-6).

Seeing the gathering storm clouds on the horizon, I recently pulled apart with my wife to a secluded cabin in the mountains of Tennessee. My assignment from God was to write a book that would be a tool to help shape informed influencers to make a difference in today’s confused culture. I pinpointed the 30 “hot button” issues of today.

God gave me a practical plan: Challenge people to take 30 days and invest 15 minutes a day in a 3 step process to develop a biblical worldview and confidence in addressing our country’s controversial issues: 1. Review a video—3 min. 2. Read an article—10 min. 3. Reflect and pray—2 min. The title of the book is Bullseye and it’ll help us “hit the mark” in sharing the gospel and biblical truth to dispel deception and foster spiritual awakening.

I invite your prayer support as we finalize this project. May this be one of many divine strategies given by God at this tipping point in America’s history.

“God” gave Tomczak a practical plan that is sure to “dispel deception and foster spiritual awakening.” For 30 days, 15 minutes a day, Tomczak wants like-minded Evangelicals to:

  • Review a video—3 min
  • Read an article—10 min
  • Reflect and pray—2 min.

Oh, and he is writing a book he wants everyone to buy.  There’s a-lw-a-y-s a money angle.

On his blog, Tomczak calls his plan the Bullseye Challenge (link no longer active). According to Dr. Michael Brown, a former “heroin-shooting, LSD-using Jewish rock drummer” and the “world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist”, Tomczak’s plan will turn Game of Thrones watching, NASCAR loving Republicans into a “confident communicator and change agent in today’s confusing culture.” So far, Tomczak’s blog post has ONE Facebook like and ZERO retweets on Twitter.

Want to know more about the Bullseye Challenge?  Check out Tomczak’s video:

 

 

The First Bernie Sanders Sighting in Defiance County, Ohio

Rural NW Ohio is home to an aging white Evangelical Republican super-majority. Even Democrats tend to skew to the right and many of the local mainline churches, traditionally bastions of liberalism, are conservative. As a liberal, democratic socialist, I’d be safe in saying you’d have a better chance of running into Barack Obama at the local coffee shop than you would meeting someone else who is as to the left as I am. Throw in the fact that I am an outspoken atheist…well, I am as rare as the ivory-billed woodpecker.  Add anti-gun, anti-hunting, and pro-choice to the mix and that makes me as rare as Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s conscience.

Raised in a fiercely partisan and right-wing home, I’ve never been shy about my political or religious beliefs. While I no longer share these beliefs with people who haven’t asked me to do so, I do shout them from the roof top on this blog and through letters to the editor of the local newspaper. When locals meet me they always seem perplexed. They have built up in their mind a certain picture of Bruce Gerencser; the spawn of Satan, a communist out to overthrow Christian America. In real life, I am just a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who just so happens to be a leftist and an atheist. I’m the guy who wears a Cincinnati Reds hat and suspenders; the man who is seen taking photographs at ballgames and public events.

I am a big fan of Bernie Sanders. He best represents my political beliefs and I plan on supporting him as he attempts to become the 2016 Democratic candidate for President. Is Sanders electable? I don’t know, but I refuse to support a Democratic candidate, at least at the primary level, who is Democrat-lite. If Sanders fails to win the nomination then I will get out a clothes pin, attach it to my nose, and support whoever the Democratic candidate is. Until then, I’m supporting Bernie.

bernie sanders 2016

Bernie Sanders for President Sign in Our Front Yard

As far as I know, our sign is the first Bernie for President sign in Defiance County. Hopefully, it is not the last. You can purchase your own sign here.

 

Dear Christian Woman: Is your Facebook Profile Photo Causing Men to Lust?

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Fundamentalist Christians rarely miss an opportunity to point out ANOTHER behavior that is a sin or causes others to sin.

Several years ago, Trisha Ramos  wrote:

No doubt our Facebook pages can be a witnessing tool for the Gospel and with the advancement of modern technology and all the various social media venues, we don’t even have to leave the house to be a witness for the Lord. In fact, why else have a Facebook, but to tell of the Lord’s wondrous deeds and call others to turn from their sins and trust in the Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m sure there are many other reasons why we have Facebook pages but in the midst of it all, proclaiming the gospel should be the chief aim for any follower of Christ.

To show this more clearly, when you accept a friend on Facebook, typically the very first thing they do is view your pictures. In fact, sometimes that’s all they may do. They quickly skim through them to see how you look and what you’ve been up to for the past decade or two and then off they go, onto the next person’s page. It reminds me of the ol’ adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This saying refers to the idea that a picture communicates something. Sometimes it communicates too much. So with that in mind, when was the last time you went through your Facebook pictures and asked yourself, “Is this modest?” or “What am I communicating to my ‘friends’?” and “Would I want my brothers and sisters in Christ looking at theses pictures?”

Ladies, this is especially for us. If you are a professing Christian and if you haven’t done this already, here’s something practical that you can do: Go through every picture on your Facebook (This may take time depending upon how many pictures you have, but it will be worth it since on Judgment Day you will give an account to the Lord for all of these things) and if you are dressed in an immodest manner, hit ‘Delete!’

If you need help with deciphering what is modest and what is immodest, ask a modest sister in your local church for help, or a godly older women who can give you wise counsel, or ask your husband (assuming that he has biblical standards for modesty). And if all else fails and you have no one else to go to, well then, there’s always me and I’ll be quick to toot my modesty horn.

For starters, here’s a few specific areas that might help you out, let’s begin with cleavage. Ladies, if you are showing cleavage, hit ‘Delete’ as fast as you can! I don’t care how “cute” you look or if someone else posts to pic of you or if it was way back in your BC (before Christ) days. This is not acceptable in any circumstances for a woman who professes to follow Christ. Simply delete the picture or ‘Un-tag’ yourself.

If you have photos of you or your friends in bikinis, hit ‘Delete’ as quickly as you can and don’t look back. Or if your mid (midriff) section is showing hit ‘Delete’ please. And short shorts are a no no, so you know what to do with that, ‘Delete, delete, delete’. And then check your heart and ask yourself, “What is it within me that desires to present myself in this manner?” and “What does this speak of the condition of my heart?”

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…” 1 Timothy 2.9a

Like the Pharisees of old, modern-day fundamentalists major on the minor. Cleavage is everywhere these days. Women have two breasts and the space between them is cleavage. Women have had cleavage for as long as I can remember. It is utterly amazing that anyone would give one moment of time to the issue of women showing their cleavage. Cleave away dear women, cleave away, I say!

Are Christian men so weak that any show of cleavage causes them to lust? Maybe I am too old, but when I see cleavage my first thought is “are the breasts real?”  I am glad to be free from the Puritanical shackles of fundamentalist Christianity. As a man, I am grateful that I have the freedom to say “nice” in the presence of my wife and not get a lecture on “if your eye offends you pluck it out.” It is refreshing to hear my wife say “that’s a nice looking guy.”  No fear of infidelity. No fear of moral compromise.

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We are sexual beings. It is quite normal to “look” and even speak out loud what we are thinking as we look. It is the Christian who is abnormal, living under fear of judgment or disapproval if they dare embrace and express their sexuality. I know the morality police will tell me that I am a licentious, lascivious person who has been given over to the lusts of the flesh. According to them, I am a reprobate who is beyond the influence of God. (Romans 1)

There is a lot of sexual dysfunction in the Evangelical church. Blogs like the one mentioned above help reinforce this dysfunction by teaching women to treat their body in ways that diminish their sexuality or turn their sexuality into something to be ashamed of. Christian men are viewed as helpless and weak, turned into horn dogs by the slightest bit of cleavage or leg. Evangelical women are taught that it is their job to keep these poor, helpless men from lusting and falling into sin. Time to cover up, head to toe…wait a minute…isn’t there another place in the world where women are required to do the same?

Note

Trisha Ramos is married to Emilio Ramos, teaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church in Frisco, Texas.

Dear Evangelical: Tell Me the Truth, Am I Headed for Hell?

hell

Bruce: Five years ago, 152 Pakistanis were killed in a plane crash.

Evangelical: I hope they all knew the Lord.

Bruce: Why does that matter?

Evangelical: Well, if they didn’t know the Lord they probably went to hell.

Bruce: Probably?

Evangelical: Well…some of them might have trusted Jesus just before they died. I don’t know their hearts. God is the judge.

Bruce: It is likely the plane passengers were Muslim. Most likely the last word on their lips was ALLAH. Do Muslims go to heaven when they die?

Evangelical: Only if they believe in Jesus.

Bruce: Muslims do not believe Jesus is the way, truth and life.They do not believe salvation is found in Jesus Christ. So, did the Muslim plane passengers go to hell when they died?

Evangelical: I am not their judge. It’s between them and God.

A lot of Evangelicals are increasingly uncomfortable with what the Bible says about hell. According to inspired, inerrant Word of God,  all non-Christians go to hell when they die. They will be tormented day and night for eternity. All Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, and atheists will burn forever because of their rejection of Jesus Christ. Many Evangelicals even add Catholics, liberal Protestants, and universalists to the thou shalt burn list.

Let me remind readers what the Bible says about hell (collated from several Christian websites):

  • A place of weeping and gnashing of teeth – “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
  • A place of darkness – “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13).
  • A place of torment – “And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23).
  • A place of sorrow – “The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;” (2 Samuel 22:6).
  • A place of everlasting destruction – “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” (II Thessalonians 1:9).
  • A place where humans are tormented with fire and brimstone – “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
  • A place where fire is not quenched – “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44).
  • A bottomless pit – “And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:2).
  • A place of no rest – “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:11).
  • A lake of fire – “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14).
  • A place of hopeless of unsatisfied desires – “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame ” (Luke 16:24). The rich man wanted water but could not get any.

The Bible, as interpreted through the lens of Evangelicalism, is very clear on the matter of hell and why people end up there after they die. Even those who have never heard about Jesus Christ will burn in hell forever. It’s their fault for not knowing, even though no one ever told them about Jesus.  According to the Calvinist, before God created the first human he decided where each of us would bunk when we die. The elect go to heaven, the non-elect go to hell.

According to the Evangelical score card, the overwhelming majority of people, past, present, and future, end up in hell when they die. This is God’s righteous judgment of those who did not repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Wait a minute, what about the people who lived before the birth of Christ?  Where did they go when they died? Let the explaining and theological gymnastics begin.

Yet, when it comes right down to it, when confronted face to face with someone such as I — a person who once professed Christ, who once preached the gospel of Christ — many Evangelicals have a hard time telling me I’m headed for hell. They convince themselves that I am just confused or backslidden. They are certain the Holy Spirit will straighten me out and in no time I will be back preaching at First Baptist Church of Somewhere.

For some people, particularly those who are Christian friends or former parishioners, the notion of Bruce Gerencser going to hell is quite preposterous. A few of my friends have told me they find my defection from Christianity quite unsettling. If I can fall away then anyone can fall away. If I am headed for hell, will they be next?

I’ve attended many funerals over the years. I have only been to one funeral where the preacher had guts enough to say that the deceased went to hell. In every other instance some anecdotal story was told to give the living the impression that the deceased was now in heaven with all his dead loved ones (please read Dear Pastor, Do You Believe in Hell?). No matter how vile or evil the person was, he went to heaven when he died. People can live most of their lives as  atheists, but because they asked Jesus into their heart as a child, they go to heaven when they die. What a sweet deal, right?

Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God? Do you believe it is truth? Do you believe that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ? Do you believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life?  If so, it’s time for you to be honest about what you believe. It’s time to speak the truth. It’s time to own what the Bible says.

If what the Bible says about salvation, heaven, and hell is true, then these claims are also true:

  • All Muslims are headed for hell
  • All Buddhists are headed for hell
  • All agnostics are headed for hell
  • All atheists are headed for hell
  • All who have not trusted Jesus Christ as their personal savior are headed for hell
  • All who reject the truth claims of the Bible are headed for hell
  • All Catholics are headed for hell
  • All liberal Protestants are headed for hell
  • All universalists are headed for hell
  • All homosexuals are headed for hell
  • Bruce, YOU are headed for hell

If you are not willing to consign to hell most of the billions of people who have lived on this earth, then it is time for you to stop saying you believe the Bible is truth; that you believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Just remember, once you admit that you only really believe certain parts of the Bible, you have started down a slippery slope that could lead you to where I am today. Then you too will be headed for hell, just like me.

I write this post as a challenge to my Christian readers, friends, and former parishioners. What do you really believe? Do you really think I’m headed for hell? Do you really believe God will fit me with a special fireproof body so he can torture me for eternity? Don’t try to evade the question by saying things like, I don’t know your heart or only God knows for sure. If one can know from the Bible what salvation is, then certainly it seems people should be able to know if they don’t have it. And if they don’t have salvation, they are certainly going to hell.

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After I am Dead

walking by graveyardAs soon as Christian fundamentalists read this headline they will shout at their screen:

  • You will be burning in hell!
  • You will know there is a God!
  • You will know I was right!

They will see my death as vindication of their belief system. I wonder how many of them will say to themselves, I bet Bruce wishes he had listened to me!  I can hear a Calvinist saying, now we know Bruce was not one of the elect! They will speak of the preacher-turned-atheist who now knows the TRUTH (please read Christopher Hitchens is in Hell).

If they bother to read beyond the title of this post they will see this post is not about my e-t-e-r-n-a-l destiny. I have no concern over God, judgment, or hell. I am confident that hell is the creation of those who want to control people through fear. Fear God! Fear Judgment! Fear Hell! Since Christianity and the Bible no longer have any power over me, I no longer fear God or hell. I am reasonably certain that this is the only life I will ever have, and once I die I will be…drum roll please, d-e-a-d.

Here’s what I want to happens after I draw my last breath.

First, I do not want a funeral service. Waste of time, effort, and money. No need for fake friends or distant family members to show up and weep fake tears. No need for flowers. I want Polly to spend as little as possible on disposing of my dead carcass. Trust me, I won’t care.

plus size cremation

Second, I want to be cremated. No special urn. A cardboard box will work just fine. If Polly wants to show her love for me, a Hostess cupcake box would be sweet.  As I jokingly told my children, when I am cremated I will go from ass to ashes.

Third, I want my ashes to be spread along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Polly knows the place. I hope my children, daughters-in-law, son-in-law, grandchildren, and close family will be there. I want no prayers said and as few tears as possible. Perhaps those who are gathered will share a funny story, one of their many Butch/Bruce/Dad/Grandpa stories. I hope they will remember me for the good I have done and forgive me for those moments when I was less than I could or should have been.

And that’s it.

Life is not about dying, it’s about living. Since I am on the short side of life, I dare not waste the time I have left. When death comes, the battery in my life clock will be depleted. Like the Big Ben clock beside our bed, the one I listen to late at night as it clicks off the seconds, I know there is coming a day when I will hear CLICK and that will be it.

How about you? As an atheist or non-Christian, what do you want to happen after you die? Have you made funeral plans? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

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