Wossamatta U Evangelicals and The Homeless

Donald Trump is a window on what our culture, and on what some evangelical Christians who support him, has become. Trump was raised in a feel-good church, Marble Collegiate, home of Norman Vincent Peale who wrote the infamous The Power of Positive Thinking. The books ideas, which spread like manure, combined psychobabble with Christianity.

The term “self esteem” is ubiquitous. It basically tells people to feel good about themselves. The problem is not that we shouldn’t be positive, and not hang our heads down low, but the basis for feeling good about yourself.

Humans have a way of rationalizing behavior. Modern psychologists and others make excuses for bad behavior, and tell people “it’s OK” and that it wasn’t their fault. So they feel good about themselves, raise their self esteem without resolving human character flaws, which simply comes down to sin.

We have no good in ourselves.   “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” –John 15:5.

The chair yoga class I take at the public library in Levittown, PA offers great exercises for your health, but I laugh off the religious aspect of the class.  “Let the sunshine shine through you, the love surround you…”  The teacher also prompts the class to “bow to the teacher within.”  This says that we are basically good. As a sinner saved by grace, I disagree.

Left to our own devices, our human flaws, we don’t know how to treat others and love them unconditionally. For me, when God is my captain and follow his rules I can feel good about myself. When we bond with God, we can show people the love God gives.

“And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” –Luke 10:27

Trump can bully a widow who doesn’t want to move from her dwelling and still feel good about himself. After all, he trumps how he gives people money and pays lip service to  feel good clergy such as Joel Osteen, who praises Trump as “a friend of our ministry” and “a good man.” Yet Osteen and other pseudo-evangelicals don’t tell us why.

The homeless in lower Bucks County, PA are marginalized, even considered as a group a persona non grata.  The surface, feel good, commercialized, culture of Bucks County where, like Engulf and Devour in Mel Brook’s Silent Movie, the almighty dollar is worshipped, has no room in the Inn for the homeless. As I mentioned in the previous blog, a worldly representative from the Salvation Army thinks the Levittown librarian is doing a community service by trying to rid the library of homeless people.

Mixing worldly views in the church is the problem today, as it’s always been. This is the affiliations Donald Trump has.

During the early church, the apostle Paul and his guys toured the early church to encourage them to practice fidelity to scriptures.  In my Sunday school class, we looked at a map that showed the apostle’s journey. I noticed that they were moving away from Cypress and remarked that the guys were running away from the Cyclops.  “Too much Greek mythology, Jeff,” a brother remarked.

That, of course, was a joke. But it’s no joke that churches have been mixing worldly views with Christianity.

A Westminster Seminary student once told me that the traditional, orthodox Protestant churches have more in common with the Roman Catholic churches that they do with their liberal Protestant counterparts, even in their own denomination! He called these churches “apostates”, which means that God isn’t even in the picture. My Mom used to call these feel good churches “social clubs”.

This is why Westminster Seminary was formed.

http://www.wts.edu/about/history.html

As I discussed in earlier blogs, it’s mostly the true believers who accept the homeless unconditionally and help them and expect nothing in return. They certainly are acting in a godly manner.

Family Promise of Lower Bucks County, which will hold it’s grand opening on Saturday, April 2 at 10 a.m., practices God’s grace by sheltering and feeding homeless families and taking them to the day center, where they can better themselves.

Resourceful and tricky as he is, if it was to his advantage, Donald Trump could probably find a way to recycle homeless people and turn them into Soylent Green, wafers people could eat. Maybe they could be used for communion in the churches that back Trump. And they would feel good about themselves! Instead of saying that the wafer represents Christ’s body that was broken for you when pastors administer communion, they can say “this is for your self esteem.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soylent_Green

Trump and the phony evangelicals are a modern manifestation of P.T. Barnum.  As Ted Cruz says, “people like PT Barnum” but that “it is time to put away the clowns, the acrobats, and the dancing bears.” This also applies to Shrillery Clinton, who also lacks the fruits of the spirit. Although more straight forward that Trump and Clinton, Bernie Sanders is also a joke and advocates socialism, which is anti-Christian and very destructive.

“There’s a sucker born every minute”, to quote P.T. Barnum.

A large part of our country’s problems is a result of the church not having more influence on society. Church goers, read your Bibles and learn truth for yourself!  “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  –John 8:32

Wait For It!

The past two years have been a test of faith — job loss, dog dying, problems with problem people, severed relationships, etc. This took a toll. And the latest, a car accident.

A Christian sister once told me that if you pray, then you don’t have to worry, and if you worry, why bother to pray. The two ideas are mutually exclusive, she implied.

The choice is either to ring your hands and become a nervous wreck or wait patiently for God to deliver you.

My mother used to cite an old German saying: “Why is it so soon we become old but so late we become smart?” My grandmother used to quote Proverbs 3:5 : “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

After I lost my job and could not get regular work, my funds dwindled. I soon scrambled to find food to eat. I found a local food pantry but that wasn’t enough. I volunteered at the food pantry. As my funds ran dry, I kept losing things, like the woman in an episode in The Twilight Zone, a spendthrift who struck a deal with the only creditor who would take her on, but with the condition that when she misses a payment, something is taken from her. First the cat, then the dog, then her kids, then her husband, then her house, then her car. For me, one of the things to go was my Internet service.

So I used the Wi-Fi at the local library. I befriended some homeless people I knew from the community center where I went to  meals for the homeless and those in need. I didn’t have my car and the told me about a free bus that takes them to other community meals. Some of the hosts also had food banks.

I was able to find sporadic work. At Christmas time, a local homeless advocate set up a Christmas party at the Levittown Public Library, where I was given Wawa and Walmart gift cards. I used the Walmart gift card to buy some insulated, waterproof boots, which I really needed.

After my house was sold, I got my car back and got money from various sources.

It was circumstance after circumstance where I couldn’t see a positive outcome but God provided for me in the end. Each time, I worried, but then felt silly after things went OK.

A little more than a week ago, a car turned into a car wash, darting right in front of me as I was driving the other way. Nobody got hurt, but the one of my wheels was smashed in and the car was undrivable. I was worried that I would not be able to take a cancer patient I’ve been taking care of to her appointment at the cancer center a few days later.

The next morning, my insurance company told me that Geico, the other party’s company, accepted full liability and I drove off in a rental car before noon, courtesy of Geico.

Through Geico’s website via email, I was able to buy another car, without draining my account too much.

By now, it’s finally starting to sink in that God has my back. I still have to be reminded, though.

I continue to associate with the homeless in lower Bucks County and still go to the community meals, which is not just about food but about fellowship. Some friends I meet there talk about their faith in God. There has been problems at the meals — arguments and other drama, but lately the meals have been more civil.

There are things people on a low budget can do for themselves. I found the chair yoga class very healthy. It helps my breathing, relaxing me and helps my well being. The physical part is good. I just ignore or laugh at the humanist-pagan elements, such as us being able to bring peace and light to our world on our own. One substitute teacher was hard core. For about five minutes, we waved our hand back and forth chanting “I am”. As I told a friend in the class “It’s the Popeye thesis; I am what I am!”

I’ve found Kava tea, a natural muscle relaxer, to help prevent cramps and to relax. Bananas also prevent cramps.

Another thing I found helpful is the 12 Steps Journey program. Based on the original 12 Step Program, this faith based program helps people get their act together, including quelling anxiety, restoring them by letting God mold them into what he designed them to be.

http://www.12stepjourney.com/ 

A Christian friend used to say “God’s got it!”

As a sergeant would tell the marching formation waiting for his instruction, “wait for it”!

 

 

Just Hang on To What You’ve Got

Do your circumstances control you and do you act like Lewis Carroll’s Aged Aged Man?

Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,
Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
Whose face was very like a crow,
With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
Who seemed distracted with his woe,
Who rocked his body to and fro,
And muttered mumblingly and low,
As if his mouth were full of dough,
Who snorted like a buffalo –
That summer evening long ago
A-sitting on a gate.

If, like Lewis  Carroll’s  character, you are distracted by your woe because of your immediate circumstances, just realize this is only a season.  In the midst of trouble, you should know there is a way out.  There is more to life than just carpe diem, seizing only the moment in life, but something deep inside that satisfies your soul and lifts your spirits.

Like Job in the Bible, the homeless have suffered a loss, living like Gypsies.  Now stripped of worldly goods, they have to find what’s really important in life, without all the bells and whistles.   If you look around you may see, as Frankie Valli’s Let’s Hang On lyrics go, what you have is really a lot.

There are things out there that you can do to improve and enjoy your life.  The public library in Levittown, PA offers chair yoga classes.  Sleeping and living in a car tends to cramp me up.  After taking a few yoga classes, I’ve felt noticeably looser.  I’ve also been able to breathe better and tend to be generally healthier.

A lung cancer patient I’ve been looking after has taken physical therapy.  I noticed that some of the exercises are like what we do in the chair yoga class.  I mentioned this to the yoga instructor, who said that when you find something good, others do it.

And physical therapy, yoga, helps people, if they continue to do it.

I’ve also found that Kava Tea helps relax my mind and muscles, much like Yoga.

So does acupuncture. In a similar but different way.

One of the things homelessness does is helps you think outside of the box and improvise.  Although one of the things people in transition yearn for is a routine, without it one tends to turn this loss into a search for innovative ways, new skills to deal with situations.  The need to solve a problem is why we think and develop a plan, according to C.S. Pierce, the founder of American pragmatism.  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/peirce/

Another thing homelessness does is, like Job, help you find who your true friends are.  Those who accept you for you are and who help you not just for what they can get from you are genuine friends.

It also tests your faith.  Things you took for granted are not there, and when you are needy and on the road to becoming homeless, you really have to trust in God.  After I lost my job, I was almost penniless.  I didn’t know where my next meal would come from.

I found a food pantry, but that wasn’t enough to sustain me.  I could no longer afford Internet at the house.  After I started using the Wi-Fi at the public library, I befriended homeless people at the local library I knew from the community meals where I worked as a volunteer who told me about free community meals and a bus that would take me there.

After a season, I came into a little money and was able to get my car back.  I sold my house and got more money but it’s been a struggle to find housing and I stayed in my car for a time.  Although I’m off the street, I still seek regular housing.

In my Odyssey, I’ve come across people who have taught me what’s important and that the Lord loves me and has my back.  I had turned away from my faith, but now through hardship, I’m learning what’s really important in life, and, although I tend to try to figure out and anticipate the outcome, I’ve have gone outside myself to a higher power.

Hope comes from faith in Christ.  It is something outside myself.

As Emily Dickinson wrote:

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.”

Another resource people with trouble have is the Bible based 12 Step Program, which meets at the Restoration Church in Levittown on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and at Crossings Community Church in Newtown at 6:30 p.m..

So just hang on to what you’ve got…

http://12stepjourney.com/