Monday, December 23, 2013

Roasting a Duck!

I tend to side with my bearded brethren on most things. Men of facial hair like Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph F Smith and of course Jesus clearly demonstrate that whiskers are the prerequisite of greatness.

But Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty might have broken the rule with his silly and gratuitous remarks about gays. Now before I move on let me state, I love Duck Dynasty. I also support Phil's right to say what he so desires. The same as I support A&E's right to fire him for whatever they want due to state laws like Right to Work. But moving on.

Hardly a week goes by without some Religious/Republican guy in America blathering on about how homosexuality is like bestiality. Last week it was Phil's turn: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there… bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” From there Robertson turned to the Bible and called homosexuality a “sin” and ended with this silliness, “It seems like, to me, a vagina, as a man, would be more desirable than a man’s anus, that’s just me.”

No country in the world is more obsessed with homosexuality than America. And judging from the constant religious attacks against gays you would think it’s the only sin in the entire Bible. One might easily forget the fact that the word “abomination” appears approximately 122 times in the Hebrew Bible, including eating non-kosher food (Deuteronomy 14:3), a woman returning to her first husband after being married in the interim (Deuteronomy 24:4), and bringing a blemished sacrifice on God’s altar (Deuteronomy 17:1). Proverbs goes even further, labeling envy, lying, and gossip “an abomination to the Lord” (3:32, 16:22). Still, if you’re religious, the only abomination you've probably ever heard of is homosexuality, which gives you the right to compare it to man-on-dog relations 24/7.

A good many of the religious people condemning homosexuals as perverts because of the world “abomination” seem to forget the New Testament, where the world “abomination” appears in its original form only twice (Luke 16:15, Revelation 21:27), where it seems to be implying that love of money is an abomination, which might give some of the televangelists flying in G5s pause before going after gays.
And for those religious people accustomed to equating homosexuality with immorality, I remind them that God gave the Ten Commandments not on one large stone but on two separate tablets. The reason was to distinguish between two different types of transgression: religious and moral. The first tablet involves transgressions between God and man, such as the prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy and desecration of the Sabbath. The second tablet contained moral sins between man and his fellow human, like adultery, theft and murder.

The essence of an ethical violation, as opposed to a religious infraction, is injury to an innocent party. This is not the case with two unattached adults entering a consensual relationship that is not based on deception or lies.

I freely acknowledge that the Bible clearly labels homosexuality a sin. I agree with that statement. It may violate the divine will, but there is nothing immoral about it.

So, if religious people were serious about their faith they would treat those who smoke on the Sabbath with the same opposition they reserve for gays. The fact that they don’t shows that their opposition to homosexuality has little to do with religion and a lot to do with homophobia.

As to Phil’s most creative line, let’s be clear. A heterosexual male who focuses only on his wife’s genitals to the exclusion of her hair, elbow, arms, legs, shoulders, lips, and elsewhere, makes him an incredibly boring lover and a sexually challenged man. Because most men today treat foreplay as if it’s a kind of golf club, the rate of male to female orgasm is 8-to-1 and the average sexual encounter between husband and wife lasts seven minutes at a time, which includes the time he spends begging. Sexuality is instinctual and preference is unique to the individual.

Faith-based opposition to homosexuality as a religious sin is understandable, just as religious opposition to eating on Yom Kippur is understandable. But all this other stuff; it’s immoral, doesn't lead to procreation, is part of a promiscuous lifestyle, seems more relevant to the revolting and growing culture of drunken hookups, particularly on the American campus where women are treated by men as little more than fleshy masturbatory material. Yet we almost never hear religious leaders decrying the promiscuity of the heterosexual club culture with anything near the intensity with which they attack gays. Indeed, the strangest thing about traditional people attacking gay marriage is that the only men left in American who seem eager to marry are gay. While homosexuals petition the US Supreme Court for the right to marry, straight guys are living with their girlfriends for half-a-millennium and still struggle to commit.

I am not pro-gay marriage. I feel the best solution to the same-sex marriage debate is simple: marriage for none, civil unions for all. Let our government withdraw fully from the marriage business, opting instead to grant civil unions to the couples who seek them, be they straight or gay. This is simply a question of equal rights for government matters like tax and inheritance benefits and end-of-life decisions. But marriage, a religious institution, should be consecrated by priests, Bishops, Pastors, etc as dictated by their conscience.
By ending the gay marriage debate once and for all, we might even address the real values corrosion in America, such as the 50% divorce rate, the lack of a national year of service, and the death of family dinners. But obsessing over gays guarantees that we’ll forever duck America’s problems. Just because it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and quacks like a duck doesn't always mean it’s a duck. And just because religious people blame gays for the moral decline of marriage doesn't mean that we straight people haven’t done a mighty fine job of ruining the family ourselves.

Boom. Roasted.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Trial By Fire: A Conversion Story 

Back in the fall of 2010 I was engaged to a lovely young lady needed Marissa. While we were together, I met her good friend Spencer one night while we were out on a date. Spencer was invited to take a seat and catch up with Marissa and meet me. Shortly after the conversation started we decided to discuss religion. Spencer, as I found out, was a Mormon. We discussed our views on faith and next thing I knew it was almost 2 hours later. Marissa and I decided to head home to our house and Spencer went on his own way. A couple days later Marissa and I decided to go see a movie and ran into Spencer and his wife Ashley. We talked for awhile and then exchanged numbers after planning a double date. From that moment on we probably hung out a couple times a week for awhile. The hangouts were always the same, dinner, conversation, a game, then Spencer and myself on the patio talking faith, me smoking cigarettes,  and Marissa and Ashley hanging out inside discussing whatever it is women discuss, probably about how good their men looked. Spencer and myself quickly grew to have a very close friendship and he easily became one of my best friends. He made me see things about the Mormons, that at the time I wouldn't admit, made sense. I remember one conversation where we laid out our plan for a private society. One were no one was in charge but the collective was supporting the collective. Everyone would be in it for everyone else. No money, No crime, no poverty, etc. It was such a great idea. I later learned this was pretty much the Law of Concretion. Fast forward a couple months and my engagement to Marissa ended. It wasn't the easiest thing for either of us but I knew it was for the best. Spencer and Ashley were there for me during this time and the spirit definitely started to work in my life. Spencer invited me to the Baptism of a lady in his ward and I was not interested. But I told him I would go just to make him feel good, But had no real intention of going. Spencer called the day of and I tried my best to get out of it. I finally gave in but made it clear that I would not be dressing up or participating. After the Baptism occurred, the Missionaries gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. One of the Elders posed a question, "What does it feel like when the Holy Ghost comes into the room?" As soon as he said this I was hit by a jolt of electricity. While this happened a gentlemen across the room answered him and said, "Its like getting hit with a bolt of electricity!" My hairs stood on end. Could it be possible that this really just happened. Was all this real? Instantly I spoke up and objected. After sharing my disbelief in what had happened I was ready to head home. Spencer and I discussed more what had happened to me at that Baptism and I remember telling him, "Spencer, if that feeling was real, I want to feel it all the time!" He proceeded to tell me that I could and that if I prayed and read The Book of Mormon I could and would feel the Spirit confirm the truthfulness of this Church. That night I sat in my room, The Book of Mormon in my lap, and began to pray.

I prayed for our Heavenly Father to reveal the lies this so called Testament of Jesus Christ was, because I knew that it was a lie. So I prayed and prayed that the first verse I would open to would be the verse that showed me that the Mormons were wrong. I finished my prayer and careful flipped the pages randomly. I found myself stopped at 2 Nephi 33. I threw my finger down on the page and read verse 10. Wow, I was in shock. The spirit I felt confirmed that what I had just read was the truth. I started to rage. I was so mad that it was true. I had done so many things in my life that I knew were wrong. I felt this fear and knowledge that I wasn't good enough for his church come over me. Why had the Lord allowed me to be born in a family where the Church of Jesus Christ wasn't the center. I mean I was raised in a Christian home but this was different. I screamed out at the lord. Told him that what he did to me wasn't fair. I would never be accepted into his kingdom or into his church. See at this point in my life I was covered in tattoos, smoked, and drank booze. I saw the looks that Mormons gave me when they saw my tattoos. I must of looked like some sort of devil to them. This church had no place for me. But again I did what I did best. I prayed. I cried out to the lord, I told him that I wanted to be in his kingdom. I wanted to be in his presence. All I wanted was for him to take my life now so that I can just be with him.

My eyes were closed and I was just lying in bed, half asleep talking to Heavenly Father.  Asking his son, "Lord just let me into your presence, let me into your divine place.  I just want to come near where you are and be near you." The scriptures came to mind and I heard him say, "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice all you have to do is open up and let me come to where you are." Then all at once I was swept up out of my bed, out of my body. It felt like every worry, every frustration, every weight that had been on my shoulders had been lifted off. Like I had just broken through the physical world and entered into true freedom for the first time in my life. This place was brighter than anything I had seen before. It was like I was standing on a star. It was more real then I could ever explain, and although Ive never been to this place before I knew I was home. There was white light all around me and it took my eyes a minute to adjust but as I finally began to see clearly I saw one man standing before me. It was Jesus, the one who sacrificed and made it possible for me to even come to this place. But he had scars, he had deep scars all over his face and neck from where his flesh had been torn and shredded by the crown of thorns and the whip that had struck him for our sins. He had scars on his hands, deep wounds from where the nails had torn through him. He said, I am so glad your here finally, I have prepared a place for you. Come let me show you. He held down his hand for me to take hold of and to follow him. Just as my hand touched his I gently brushed my finger across the hole on his palm. He paused and I looked up, and looking at the scares on his face I asked, "Why? Why would you do this for us, for me, I am dirt! We are dirt." He turned toward me, smiling knowingly and looked me up and down and then all around at the place we were standing and he said sincerely, "You were worth it." I proceeded to tell him that it was to late for me. I had ruined my body, the sacred Temple he had entrusted me with. I would never be looked at with love in his Church. All at once there was a flash of light and when he came into view again there he stood, no scars, just pure beauty and grace. He looked at me and lovingly said, "In my Fathers house everything is made new!" I still cant get over the honesty in his voice. I awoke with the most amazing peace from this.

To think that the son of Heavenly Father, the prophesied Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would look at me and think I was worth the death he suffered. That with every blow, as the nails dug deeper into his hands and his feet, he was crying out, This is worth it. That with every crack of the whip as it tore flesh from his back he was crying out, This is worth it. That as the rod struck his head each time, driving the crown of thorns deeply into his skull and as the guards mocked and spit at him, he was looking steadfastly at the big picture. With eyes focused and mind made up simply declaring, You are worth it.

As I laid in bed that morning, having just been through the most spiritually intense experience ever, I began to weep. I spent the entire day in quite meditation. I needed to record this. I needed to write my dream and thoughts down on paper before I forgot. I wrote the dream down and went to the first person I could. I remember telling Spencer that I needed to be baptized and that it needed to happen asap. Little did I know the journey that was ahead of me.

Shortly after learning of my desire to be baptized, Spencer found me the Singles Ward that would be in my boundaries and found the Missionaries serving in that ward.  The Elders were young kids. Boys 6 years my junior with no life experience. Needless to say I wanted nothing to do with them. I disliked them right off the bat. These young servants of the Lord saw me as a number. To this day I believe that. My love and trust for spencer allowed my heart to soften just enough to give them a chance. On the 2nd lesson I brought up smoking. I asked the Missionaries what would happen of I didn't stop smoking and this elder replied, "oh we WILL find out, you won't be able to keep it from us!!!" I was creeped out. Spencer was in disbelief. He looked me straight in the face and interrupted the Elder and told me that that was not true. As I look back this young Elder was just socially awkward. I don't think he ment it how it sounded but truly at that moment I was done. I told Spencer and the Bishop at that ward that I would no longer be taking the lessons cause the Elders annoyed me. I'm not sure how it came to be but they somehow got permission for Spencer and his lovely wife to teach me the lessons. Spencer had served a faithful mission and with our close relationship I would be more open to hearing the things he taught. 

The next 2 months we just hit the lessons. Spending tons of time on each lesson. Which was so much better then doing one lesson a week for 45 minutes. We dove into it. Talked forever. Spencer spent countless hours teaching me truth. Writing me long letters explaining things. There were set backs along the way. Nothing crazy but things that put off my baptism some. When you live a certain life for 25 years old habits die hard. My friends weren't supportive, and my family told me I would be dead to them if I really went through with it. Those things didn't stop my determination to seek after baptism. Finally after what seemed like months we set a date for baptism. March 12th 2011.

Stay tuned for part II

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Man I Hope to Be

I was looking through my old livejournal and found this post from 2005. This is the man I still hope to be one day!

Protection and real Love come from within the man. It's in the way he says your name. It's in the way he calls you to make sure you're home safe and sound. It's in the way he protects your reputation when you're not around. It's in the way he prefers you in any given situation without you having to constantly ask him to choose you. It's in the way he looks in your eyes, assuring you that his eyes fall on you alone. It's in the way he wars for you in prayer. It's in the way he leads you when you're emotionally spinning out and he steps in and says, "No, we're not going down that path any longer. This is the way out of this. Follow me." It's in the way that he knows what your favorite things are and surprises you with them for no reason. It's in the way he tells you he loves you when you're yelling at him. It's in the way he values all you've shared of yourself by honoring you in the hardest of moments. It's in the way he is willing to do whatever it will take to change himself in order to offer you a better man than the one you fell in love with. It's in the way he not only dreams with you, but dreams for you, on your behalf. It's in the way he not only wants more for your life, but puts action to that desire to help bring it to pass.

This is the sort of man that will make you feel protected. This is the type of man who will always make you feel loved. This is the kind of man who is worthy of such a fierce love in return.

When you can offer a girl this sort of man-in-the-making, you can believe that she will find you to be the most gorgeous thing she's ever laid eyes on. Whether you are tall or short, built or skinny, handsome or average, she will see beauty in you. She will see the man you desire to become even as you try to become that man and she will cheer you on with a conviction and joy reserved only for you. Your name will be the only name on her lips, the only passion in her heart, the only desire in her life.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Am Living!

Today as I found myself pondering music. Well lets be honest, I always ponder music. Its in me to my very core. The above video was shot by a couple close friends of mine of a band we use to all tour with. I invite you to watch and get to know Sleeping Giant before you hear a song. Sleeping Giant is an amazing example to me of the Lord working in lives when we allow him to. A lot of times we are so quick to dismiss music because of the sound behind it. You say, "There is no way that invites the Spirit!" I say, "I feel the Spirit!" Who then is right? Since becoming a Latter-day Saint I have wondered the following.

Is it possible for Hardcore/Heavy Metal to be centered around our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

This evening I was watching some music videos on youtube when I saw a very interesting looking video on the right side of the screen entitled,"Is Christan Heavy Metal Evil?" (Of course this sparked my interest) This was about an 9 minute video by a guy who calls himself jezuzfreek777, and he made some great points. I want to expand on these for a brief moment.

One of his first points is one I've heard many times. Not ALL songs are bad in regards to content. There are some Metallica songs that have a great message. For instance, "Master of Puppets" is not implying that Satan is the master, but is more of an anti-drug themed piece of music. It is the bands cry of warning to not let drugs take control of peoples lives. 

The next point has to do with the sound of rock and roll, and how it can be misinterpreted. He plays a simple chord with no amplification or distortion. It does not sound objectionable. It sounds very clean and would be accepted by many to be a great sounding music note. Well, what if you are playing in a live show, and you have a few thousand people, you need amplification so your music can be heard. Also, you use distortion to keep your sound unique. It's the same chord. Heavy metal can be simplified, and it would sound very good to a large demographic. What kind of instrument is being played should not matter. If the point of the music is to glorify God, it is not evil or wrong. (I share this opinion)

This is the same point I've been trying to make for a very long time. If I thought that the sound of the music was offensive or inappropriate, I would NOT listen to it. I understand the argument that "If Jesus were here, he wouldn't like how it sounds." He may not, though I believe he would, because what I hear is the message of his greatness, power, and holiness!

My friends, this is something I have prayed about. I used to listen to a lot of horrible music that had horrible language and false doctrines. I made a conscious effort to purge these from my life, which I feel I have successfully done. It's a great feeling. I am still haunted by the fact that some do not accept my preference in music as anything but evil, satanic, and wrong. 

A cover song of the popular Christian hymn "Oh Praise Him" has touched my soul. However, it is in Hardcore form. And, oh my goodness, what a stirring of feelings it has created. I completely understand that some may shy away from the idea of hymns being metal-ized. What "EYE" see (that's a pun) as an artist that really wants it's heavy metal followers to hear the great message that is in this great hymn. I already knew that a friend did not like the song as it is covered by Sleeping giant, but I asked her to explain her feelings so I could post them for you:

Me: "How do you feel about "Oh Praise Him" by Sleeping Giant?"

Her: "I feel it was very disrespectful. It's such a sweet song, and it's about the Savior, so to hear it this way is very....harsh. I don't like it at all."

Obviously this is not for everyone. This cover song spoke to me in a way that literally made me cry, not out of sadness or hurt, but out of love and respect for Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for me. The same feeling one might get from hearing this hymn in church. 

I want to post that video of them performing the song to and I hope you will listen.

Let me say this, I AM A HARDCORE KID! Its part of who I am. Just like being a Latter-day Saint is part of who I AM. I hope this post gives you some insight to us. I love you all dearly and look forward to your comments.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mosiah 14

Mosiah 14:10-12

 10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
 11He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
 12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Written 700 years before Christ was born, this prophecy gives us such incredible insight into His character, his heart, and his earthly purpose--even more profound, I think, it gives us insight into who we are in God's eyes. It says, in verse 11, "He [Christ] shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied". Imagine that! That Jesus would look at you, the travail(very hard work) of His soul, after having endured immeasurable suffering on the cross, the abandonment of His father, God, and the torturous shame of dying a criminal's death, and, as it says in Isaiah 30:11, be satisfied! 

I was once given a vision of heaven in which, after observing Christ's deeply scarred face, and running my finger along the holes in his hands, I asked innocently, "Did it hurt?" 

After which, He looked at me, and then looked around at the paradise in which we were standing together at long last, and replied with an honest smirk, "It was worth it".

Needless to say, I was completely broken before the indescribable power of His love for me. I sat in awe; crying or laughing (or doing some strange mixture of the two) for hours; simply amazed and undone at the fact that anyone would ever give that much for me.

But, God's Word says in Hebrews 12, 'For The joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross'. What love Christ must have for you to be able to say, with joy, that in the face of betrayal, torture, death, and hell, He would submit himself willingly, so that you could share in His divine inheritance! I guess I can't speak for you, but it makes my simple profession of allegiance seem like a small offering in light of what He has given for me.

But, 'the strong' that are mentioned in verse 12 will persevere, working out our faith while gripped with the hope of our Savior's promised inheritance, and, covered by the intercession of Christ himself, will stand before God the Father, the Creator of Heaven and earth, justified, beloved, and pure.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wisdom in action!

I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good
and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.
Just like no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, which is, "my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others. You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes for my life?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, "God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know you more and love you better." God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human
beings, not human doings. 

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD. 
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD. 
Quiet moments,WORSHIP GOD. 
Painful moments, TRUST GOD. 
Every moment, THANK GOD.

This is so true, So many of us are always concentrating on stuff and or getting more stuff. Focused on fulfilling our needs we forget that there are others around us who are hurting, who need our help and prayers. We forget our true purpose in life is to serve Him. Look around your life and see who's life you can change with just encouragement and prayer. They have endless possibilities. In Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

There is Peace in His Presence, Hope in His Promises, and Unspeakable Joy in His Love.

The Sermon on the Mount

My first attempt at a blog. Here goes!

Do you ever feel like sometimes you get it, and then, other times, you are completely lost? I mean, there are those moments in life when everything is going exactly as we would want it to go, and then there are other instances when something so simple and biting can come along and throw us right on our face.

I was just reading the words of Jesus, a section in the Bible most refer to as the sermon on the Mount... I guess because he was up on a mountain preaching a sermon? Nevertheless, there are some really tricky ideas tangled up in His words. For example, He likens being angry to murdering someone. He also says that if someone looks at a woman lustfully it's the same as committing adultery. He says that it's not a good idea to swear to someone, but simply say yes or no to them. He says if a man hits you in your face, turn so he can hit punch you in the other cheek as well. He even says love the people that hate you. He says to never ever judge people because you will be judged the same. This is only fraction of what is there too...

When I was reading this, I realized that I have probably broken every one of these at some point in my life. I am sure that I have judged someone this week. I know I have gotten angry with someone too. People may say that Jesus didn't say these things to show us we can't ever live up to them... But, I think that is exactly why He said them. It hit me that these things are good things to strive for and all, but a part of why he said all of these things was, in fact, to show us that we, in fact, can't measure up. Even more than that, it shows us how much we need Him in our lives. Reading on in the book of Matthew, we can see Jesus healing so many people of wretched diseases, and He forgives people of their filthiest sins. He puts back together that which was shattered to pieces by humanities destructive ways.

Just thought I would share... It doesn't matter what you have done. Jesus knew you wouldn't measure up, and that's why He gave us His life.