A Lutheran Pastor Struggles With Same-Sex Attraction/Homosexuality

Pastor Tom Brock

Pastor Tom Brock

Yesterday (Monday), I was watching television and switched to an Evangelical Christian channel, CTN. I watched an interesting program and when it was over, a second, much less well-produced program came on. Just a guy in a clergy shirt standing in front of a curtain talking. Nothing to get excited about. Only after a few seconds of listening, I was hooked. And then the pastor gave his personal testimony (briefly)— he had struggled with homosexual temptation most of his life, but had by the grace of God remained chaste. Yay, Pastor Tom!

And Pastor Tom has not only remained chaste but has been standing up for Biblical teachings on homosexual behavior. That is such a hard choice. In my own case, after I accepted Christianity and was taking instruction in the Catholic faith, I was willing to make a commitment for lifelong chastity for myself, I wasn’t at first willing to stand up for the idea that other Gay people, if they were Christian, should remain chaste and give up any homosexual acts. I did accept the Biblical and Catholic teachings on this matter in time. But when I first started speaking out, I was amazed at the level of hate I got for daring to say I actually had same-sex attraction/was Gay, but was standing up for Biblical teachings and living a life of chastity.

Pastor Tom Brock’s testimony is available at The Pastor’s Study web site— the relevant page is here: http://www.pastorsstudy.org/news/my-struggle-with-same-sex-attraction.html I hope all readers of this blog, not matter your views about homosexuality or about Christianity, will take the time to read his testimony in full. Because too many people are convinced that all people with same-sex attraction/Gay orientation think the same, have the same sort of beliefs about the Bible and Christianity, vote the same. We need to realize even minority groups are made up of actual people who have variety of opinions, whether the larger culture wants to admit that or not.

You know, all too often I’ve looked at the world of Evangelical Christian television and looked mainly at the bad things— those preachers who seem to be out to gain money from the flock. Like the preacher I listened to yesterday, who claimed he had supernatural knowledge that there was a businessman out there in the audience who had to give $5000 to the preacher’s ‘ministry’, and that would prove to God that the business had the seed of faith and God would prosper that man’s business.

But there are good ministries out there. I liked this one so much that I told my mother about it. Especially since Pastor Tom mentioned by name her own Presbyterian denomination (PCUSA) which has recently come out in favor of same-sex faux ‘marriage’, and said it was time for Christians to come out of that Presbyterian denomination. (Mom was more impressed by Pastor Tom saying that than by me saying the same thing several times— but then, Mom knows me. 😉 )  LINK: PCUSA Redefines Marriage

If you want to watch the episode of The Pastor’s Study that so blessed me yesterday, it’s available on YouTube along with many other messages. The topic is ‘You Must Forgive’.  Here it is:

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What is The Prosperity Gospel?

prosperityIf you are in a wheelchair, does that prove you lack faith in Jesus Christ? If you are poor and have to accept welfare, does that mean you are a bad Christian? If you missed out on a promotion at work, does that mean you are more sinful than the guy who got the promotion?

For most Christians, these questions are silly. Didn’t Saint Paul have a ‘thorn in the flesh’ that God didn’t heal? Didn’t Saint Thérèse of Lisieux live a life of voluntary poverty in a convent and die young of tuberculosis? And yet they were both saints, and both wrote things that blessed many Christians— in Saint Paul’s case, it was several books of the New Testament.

But to a person influenced by Prosperity Gospel preaching, it’s a given that God wants to give you ‘health and wealth’ if you only learn the correct way to ask for it in faith. ‘Prosperity Gospel’, also called Word-Faith, Seed-Faith, Health & Wealth, and Name It and Claim It, began in its modern form in the ministry of Oral Roberts, who called his mild version of the doctrine ‘Seed-Faith’. Other preachers of the doctrine today include Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, T. D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, and Bruce Wilkinson, author of ‘The Prayer of Jabez’.

The roots of the Prosperity Gospel, according to some, is the ‘New Thought’ of Phineas Quimby, which was an influence on Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science. Although mainstream Christianity, including mainstream Evangelicalism and mainstream Pentecostalism, regard Christian Science as a cult, these ideas came into their faiths indirectly, in part through Norman Vincent Peale and his Christianized ‘Power of Positive Thinking’.

During my youth, I was devoutly Christian in  a Protestant way, but was not inspired by the Presbyterian church of my parents which even then was going down the liberal path at denomination headquarters (though that hadn’t yet touched the Sunday School system when I went). I read many Christian books and listened to Christian radio and TV. The Prosperity Gospel seems to work very well for the financial well-being of radio and TV ministries. False promises of guaranteed wealth and healing are always going to be more popular than the true Gospel and its ‘take up your Cross’.

My experience was of spending many hours in prayer trying to fix the suffering in my life caused, in large part, by my Asperger Syndrome. These prayers never healed me. They never took away a single symptom. They never brought me a single friend or even a friendly acquaintance, or stopped one bully from throwing rocks at me.

I believed that was because my faith wasn’t strong enough, or that I wasn’t doing it right. I’d re-read the books that told me how to pray and get the prayer answered, how to ‘claim’ a promise of God’s. Sometimes I’d decide I was so hopeless, I must not have been properly saved, so I’d get out a tract and pray the ‘sinner’s prayer’ just to make sure I was really, properly saved.

I never went to a church that preached Prosperity Gospel. I lucked out. I went to a Christian Reformed school for some of my junior high and high school years, and got daily religious instruction. Somehow that instruction, rather than making me convinced that the Reformed Christians had it right, convinced me it was the Lutherans, with their belief in consubstantiation as regards the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper, that were Biblically correct.

But even when I joined the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, the Prosperity Gospel had some influence. I had this idea that being a Real Christian would mean at least some of my prayers would be answered. I tried to have faith. Oh, I tried! In the end, I think the Prosperity Gospel, by not delivering, helped me be more susceptible to the temptation to become involved in occult and Wiccan practices— if I couldn’t make good stuff happen for me through Christianity, I’d try something else.

The real problem of the Prosperity Gospel, aside from its falsity, is the fact that it fails to prepare the Christian for the poverty, suffering and loss we experience. In fact, the implication of the Prosperity Gospel is that if we are Christians and we experience poverty, suffering and loss, there is something wrong with our faith. Only the more extreme Prosperity Gospel preachers go to the extreme of actually looking at Christians in wheelchairs and proclaiming that they are poor witnesses for Christ so long as they are still in wheelchairs. But that’s really implied in all of the Prosperity Gospel— if you are a Christian and have faith, why aren’t you healthy? Why aren’t you wealthy? It’s a great cause of despair, in many cases, like mine, it can lead you to give up on Christianity altogether.

The sad thing, looking at all the many varieties of Christianity in the United States, is to see fads like the Prosperity Gospel spring up and wreck Christian lives. Did God really mean to leave all of us alone with a Bible, to work out on our own which ‘Biblical’ theologies are actually in accordance with what Christ taught the Apostles? As a Catholic, I don’t believe that God left us alone without any visible source of guidance. The Early Church had the Apostles who taught with authority. The New Testament shows that when an Apostle died, a replacement was chosen (Acts 1:15-26). Early Church Fathers whose writings were preserved had the greatest respect for the Apostles and Apostolic successors (bishops). And I believe that it is difficult, when you do the right research, to decide any other way than that the Catholic Church is the result of that Apostolic teaching and authority, kept going by the Holy Spirit even when faulty priests and sinful popes made it difficult. But please, do the research yourself and draw your own conclusion.

Further Reading on the Prosperity Gospel

The Dangers of the Prosperity Gospel – Fr. Robert Barron: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0320.htm

Why Are Catholics so Into Suffering? Isn’t Jesus About Healing? http://www.catholicbridge.com/catholic/why_catholics_love_suffering.php

Is the “Prosperity Gospel” heresy? – Roger E. Olson (Evangelical) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/02/is-the-prosperity-gospel-heresy/

 

 

Recipe: Keto Rescue Bouillon

I can't get cool-looking Maggi beef bouillon where I live.

I can’t get cool-looking Maggi beef bouillon where I live.

 

I have been tweaking my diet into a more ketogenic form lately. Ketogenic diets are good for a variety of health problems, from epilepsy to obesity to diabetes to autism. It may also be beneficial for kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Here is a book that tells more about it:

Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet – Eric Westman MD & Jimmy Moore

The book recommends using bouillon as a drink to help add back electrolytes/salt when you drop the typical American diet. Author Jimmy Moore also recommends adding butter to whatever you eat. This recipe is the result.

Keto Rescue Bouillon

Bouillon— cube or powder, enough for 1 cup, NOT the low-sodium kind. I have not been able to locate bouillon without sugar, but at least I found a brand without MSG!

1/2 Tablespoon butter

pinch kelp/seaweed powder (optional)

Hot water

~~~~~

Add the bouillon, butter & optional seaweed to your cup. Add hot water. Stir.

I was sick with flu-like symptoms from my flu shot when I first made this. I felt a lot better. NOTE: do not use this recipe if you are still on the Standard American Diet eating lots of pre-salted foods! This is for ketogenic and low-carb diets where you are essentially making all your own food at home (other than ordered eggs over-easy and bacon or ham at restaurants), and you are at risk for not having enough sodium in your diet.

Grocery Shopping on Food Stamps

food-stampsIf you lavish your food on the hungry
    and satisfy the afflicted;
Then your light shall rise in the darkness,
    and your gloom shall become like midday;

Isaiah 58:10 NABRE (Catholic Bible)

How do you shop for groceries when you are on Food Stamps (A US poverty program that provides benefits for food only)?

It’s not easy. Especially when you realize that while food prices are skyrocketing, Food Stamp benefit amounts are decreasing.

At this point I’ll admit, I’m on Food Stamps myself. I have Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder), and I’m on SSI disability though I should qualify for Social Security disability as the adult child of a worker, but I foolishly spend many years trying to become an employed citizen instead of a disability case (in the govt’s opinion.)

When I first got on Food Stamps a few years back, I got $200 a month and had a hard time making that stretch to the whole month. Now after some benefit cuts I think my last Food Stamp amount was $160 (it varies for no real reason) and there is a new cut in Michigan yet to come.

For people on disability, this is supposed to be your whole food budget for the month. The monetary benefits are just for things like rent or property tax, home heating, electricity and such. (You are supposed to somehow get soap, detergents, new second-hand clothes and replacement appliances out of the air.)

So how do you cope with the Food Stamp life?

Get Over the Shame

It’s horrible and oppressing to be on Food Stamps or any poverty program. The first time I went shopping to my local grocery store with my Food Stamp card, I couldn’t bear the thought of the grocery clerk knowing I was a bum on welfare. But I had no choice but to go through it.

And then, there was the first time I bought frozen shrimp or a cheap cut of steak— important because I’m doing low-carb. There are all these rumors about welfare recipients buying steak every night. (But then we’d have to go without food for 3 weeks in the month.)

Then there are the faux conservatives and faux Christians who love to post pictures of fat women holding little kids and claiming they are Food Stamp/welfare recipients, and suggesting that such women be shot or at least starved for daring to be fat while on welfare.

Face it folks, lots of poor people are fat BECAUSE they are poor and eat a lot of high-carb cheap food like ramen noodles, rice-a-roni and Hamburger Helper (perhaps without the hamburger). Eating like this makes you fat, and it damages your ability to handle carbs. It causes you to crave MORE carbs. And since the government’s solution to overweight is to eat MORE complex carbs, most fat people (rich or poor) can’t fix their weight problem even if they had unlimited access to ‘diet’ food.

Have a Plan

You can’t shop like you always have while on Food Stamps or a tight budget. You can’t buy what you like. Here are some rules that have helped me:

  1. Go on a low-carb way-of-life. Go to a thrift shop and buy an old Atkins diet book, or look up the basics online. This way of eating kills your appetite after a few days.
  2. No beverages. No soda, juices, coffee drinks, milk, milk substitutes (soy ‘milk’). Tea from tea bags is OK if you reuse the teabags (I get 3-4 servings out of mine most days, sometimes 5).
  3. No candy, chips, cookies or other snack foods.
  4. Read labels. Sometimes store brands have the same ingredients, sometimes not. A generic stevia sweetener at Family Dollar contains maltodextrin (a sugar) while the Truvia national brand and the Walmart store brand lack this. Go for the Walmart brand!
  5. Get it a good rut. I have a low-carb tuna casserole recipe (well, 2) that I could eat nearly every day. So I stock up on the ingredients I need for it when they are on sale or when I can get to a Walmart.
  6. Drink lots of water. If your tap water is nasty, get a filter pitcher like Brita or Zerowater. Sometimes when you think you are hungry, you really are just thirsty.
  7. If you are not a small child, go with 2 meals a day. (If you are on low-carb, this won’t make you hungry.) Or have one or even two minimalist meals and then a good larger meal.
  8. Consider other resources: a family member with money who invite you to dinner sometimes, food from a garden, picking dandelion and clover from your (unsprayed) yard for cooked greens, and food banks.
  9. At the end of the month, if you have been frugal enough with your Food Stamps and have some money left over, you can buy a small something that you’ve been craving, such as a bottle of diet soda or low-carb snack food.

Food Banks

What fresh hell is this? It’s what you have to consider when you are poor and/or disabled. I was lucky enough that my therapist, who is also a pastor, works with the local mid-county food bank and he was able to encourage me to go.

This is what the food banks in my area are like: they are restricted to residents of the local area only, so there is only one food bank I’m allowed to go to.

They have mostly unhealthy food I can’t eat like cereals, often sugary cereals, Hamburger Helper, rice-a-roni, even ramen noodles (Please, never give ramen noodles to a food bank! They are cheap enough most poor people can buy them on their own if they really want to abuse their bodies with them.)

Canned tuna, when they have it, they limit to one to a ‘customer’. One day I got a frozen ham, another time some frozen venison. They get venison from deer hunted on crop damage permits. My therapist arranged for me to get a whole deer through the food bank once, which is a big help except I’m only beginning to learn to cook venison.

Conclusion:

So, this is my way of shopping on Food Stamps. I hope it helps people in need, and awakens compassion in people who are financially more blessed.

And if you are the sort of person who is angry at evil ‘welfare’ recipients including the disabled, please spare the effort of telling me I am lazy, that my autism spectrum disorder means I’m a spoiled child and my parents didn’t spank me enough, and that I ought to get a job EVEN IF I’d lose my Medicaid and I’d have to do without medical care and prescriptions for my kidney failure and diabetes, and die.

(I think God has a purpose for my life and don’t want to commit suicide at this time. Or ever. Even if it would save the govt money for me to be dead— the savings would only go to more vacations for Obama anyway.)

So if you are that angry guy, don’t bother post hate-y comments that will just get deleted, and read your Bible. I’d suggest starting with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.).

What is a ‘Victim Soul’?

Sister Josefa Menendez, victim soul.

Sister Josefa Menendez, victim soul.

What is a victim soul? A victim soul is someone chosen by God to suffer more in this life than most people suffer. The victim soul accepts this suffering willingly, out of love for Jesus Christ and in order that their suffering may be offered up for the salvation of souls.

Jesus said: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34 KJV) Yes, that means suffering is a part of being a follower of Jesus, of being ‘saved’.  Maybe that well-known Evangelical tract ‘The Four Spiritual Laws” needs to have a fifth law added, one about taking up your cross— suffering— as being part of the process of salvation.

Saint Paul teaches us that our own suffering can be ‘offered up’ for the spiritual benefit of others. “I Paul […] who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:23-24 KJV)

Is that last Bible verse ‘too Catholic”? No, it’s plainly stating God’s plan to let human beings participate in the great work of saving human souls. Jesus gave the Great Commission— the command to go out to all the world with the Gospel— to human beings, not to angels or to the Holy Spirit alone.

A Saintly Victim Soul

The Spanish nun Sister Josefa Menendez (1890-1923) experienced many visions, along with periods of excruciating physical and spiritual pain. In a vision, she was asked by Jesus to be a victim soul. She accepted.

Many canonized saints have had the stigmata— a miraculous display of the wounds of Christ, of the pains of crucifixion, or both. They also in this way are specially chosen by God to be victim souls as St. Paul was, with his ‘thorn in the flesh’.

A ‘Little Way’ of Following the Victim Soul Path

We are not all called to be victim souls in that way, just as we are not all called to be martyrs for the faith, or to be priests (presbyters, in the KJV) or bishops. But we are all called to take up our cross and to suffer the pains of our lifetime as a victim soul would.

Think of a nine-year-old girl whose pet kitten has just died. She is suffering. It is not the same degree of suffering as an Iraqi Christian girl who has just seen Isis terrorist crucify her parents and behead her brothers and sisters, or a Jewish girl who lost her whole family in the Holocaust. But to the girl who has lost the kitten, it is still suffering.

We all experience pains and disappointments in life. We may go to bed hungry at the end of the month when the food money runs out before the month does. We can miss out on life-experiences we want very much, like finding a marriage partner and starting a family. We may have sicknesses and injuries, or chronic fatigue syndrome, or a disability. We may be overweight in spite of all we can do to change that, and then have other people blame us and mock us for our medical condition. We may go through times when we feel like crying all the time and life seems gray and bleak.

We can’t stop ourselves from experiencing suffering. But we can choose what to do about the suffering that enters our lives. We can kick about it, or we can choose to be smaller, self-chosen versions of the victim soul, and offer our sufferings up willingly to participate in the work of Christ in saving the souls of others.

A prayer for ‘offering up’ our suffering:

Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Non-Catholics may leave off the bit in italics, if you are uncomfortable with it.

Further Reading:

Our Sunday Visitor: What is a Victim Soul?

Prayers for Offering Up Suffering

Books:

(These are affiliate links, don’t click on them to buy the books if that bothers you.)

Marcus Grodi —  What Must I do to be Saved?

Sister Josefa Menendez — The Way of Divine Love

Questions:

  1. Have you experienced suffering, of any degree, in your life?
  2. How has that suffering affected you?
  3. Do you ever feel that there is something meaningful or beneficial in some experience of suffering that you’ve had?

Low-Carb Recipe: Cloud Bread/Diet Revolution Roll

cloud bread 3

Cloud bread baked in muffin top pan.

Haven’t done any low-carb lifestyle posts in a while. Very neglectful of me. So here’s what I’ve been making recently.

In the original Atkins diet book published in 1972, there is a recipe called ‘Diet Revolution Rolls’ consisting of separated eggs, cottage cheese and  a pince of cream of tartar, total carbs 3.1 for the whole batch of six rolls.I tried a couple of times but it never turned out well until I bought a muffin top pan. Since I don’t have a working full-size oven, I use a convection oven and so had to buy a four muffin-top size pan to fit.

This improved the rolls quite a bit, but since I put the full batter in the four slots I guess it came out a little thick.

So I Googled. And I found a recipe for ‘Carb Free Cloud Bread’ http://www.food.com/recipe/carb-free-cloud-bread-411501.  It has the SAME ingredients but there are some differences in how you make it. First, that you make 10 ‘rolls’/bread pieces instead of the 6 of the Diet Revolution Bread recipe.  Second, that you cool the bread pieces, put them in a large baggie or some Tupperware, and refrigerate overnight to make it more ‘bready’

So I tried it myself and am working to refine my own version of the recipe. Here’s the preliminary version:

Basic Cloud Bread

 

Cloud bread in my muffin top pan

Cloud bread in my muffin top pan

3 eggs, separated

3 Tablespoons cottage cheese or cream cheese, made from WHOLE milk, not low-fat or fat-free.

1/4 cream of tartar

1 packet (2 teaspoon equivalent) stevia sweetner, WITHOUT maltodextrin (read labels— Truvia and Walmart store brand are OK so far, Family Dollar store brand has the maltodextrin.)

Oven: 300 degrees.

Separate the eggs into 2 bowls. Not one speck of yolk can get into the white. If you are new to separating eggs, have a third bowl to separate the egg whites in to. That way you only ruin one egg white if you get yolk in. Set the egg white bowl with the 3 whites aside.

Add the cottage cheese or cream cheese to the yolks, and the stevia packet. Use a mixer or a hand blender to mix well. (You will either have to wash the blades well, or else use a hand blender for this step and a mixer for the next.

Now, set the yolk mixture aside and get out the egg whites. Add the cream of tartar. Then, beat the eggs with a mixer for a LONG time. Set your timer to 5 minutes. You want the egg whites to form fluffy white peaks.

Mix the yolk mixture very carefully into the whites. Stir just enough to mix well.

Now, prepare your muffin top pans. You must have enough pans for your ten bread pieces. If you don’t have enough muffin top pans, use a plain cookie sheet for the rest of the slices. Spray the pans with non-stick cooking spray (I prefer olive-oil based sprays).

Use a soup spoon or other larger spoon to spoon out the mixture into the pans. Do it one spoonful into each slot and then start over to add the second spoonful. Try to distribute it evenly. Using your spoon, smooth the mixture so that each one is an even round the diameter of a hamburger bun (this is where the muffin top pan makes it easy.)

Bake in a preheated 300 degree Fahrenheit over for about 30 minutes. The time can vary— check near the end of the 30 minutes. Breads should be the color of a store bought hamburger’s bun.

Put the bread pans somewhere safe to cool. You can take them off the pan if you like. When the breads are wholly cool, put them in an airtight plastic bag or plastic container.

Use 2 of the breads to make sandwiches of all sorts, use them as buns for hamburgers or hot dogs. You can even buy take-out burgers and switch the nasty, sweet buns that they come with for these breads.

Carb count (cottage cheese version)

Whole batch: 3.1

Each bread piece: .31

Variations:

Add things like a bit of minced onion, sauted, or some caraway seeds or poppy seeds.

cloud bread 2

Cloud bread on an ordinary cookie sheet. (Excuse the foil lining, it’s a bad idea unless your cookie sheet is old and nasty, like mine.)

Cloud bread is good for low carb lifestyles and is also gluten-free. It’s not quite kosher on Paleo, unless you decide to do a ‘modified Paleo’ which allows dairy and sets severe limits on the fruits (because of the carbs).

It is a good daily bread. If you have children, don’t buy ordinary bread for them even if you are compelled to feed them too many carbs in other parts of their daily diet. Get them used to low-carb daily bread and other staple foods of the low-carb lifestyle.

For Ketogenic diets: this is low-carb enough, but only 4% fat. If you are on the ‘fat-fast’ diet for the moment, you’ll probably end up with only one of the breads to make room for the higher fat items that you’ll want to eat with it. The fat-fast diet is a temporary, very restricted diet for people on a strict low-carb lifestyle (such as Atkins Induction or Bernstein’s Diabetes Diet) who have not been losing weight on it. For more info, read Dana Carpender’s Fat Fast Cookbook. http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Fast-Cookbook-Recipes-Weight/dp/0970493126