Friday, December 28, 2012

Caught Between the Elephants and the Jackasses: “The Common Man’s Guide to Surviving the Fiscal Cliff”

Put your head between your legs and kiss your rear goodbye! It's the end of everything! The Mayans you say? Ha! Don't you wish? No dear friends, it's the "Fiscal Cliff" and everyone is wondering just how it will affect them.

Well, being the kindhearted, encouraging soul that I am, I thought I would take some time and share some of my vast wisdom regarding this glorious journey we are all about to embark upon.

First of all let's be clear, this whole situation is really just a fancy austerity plan (look it up)…in disguise! Don't fall for the whole, "We're trying, but can't come to an agreement" load of bull! Both the jackasses and the elephants know what's happening and both are seeking the same outcome! The bottom line is this; you're going to have less money and that's "the plan". Why? Well, someone has to pay for the mess this country is in and it looks like the American people have drawn the short straw…yet again. So, who is getting stuck? Well, if you pay payroll taxes, your tax bill will go up (that includes just about everyone who works), and your income tax bill will also rise.

Not only will your taxes increase, but many products and services will likely go up which means even less change in your pocket. Again, tax hikes affect almost everyone and everything. For example, if the dairy farmer pays more taxes, you can be sure that will be passed on to all the calcium conscious milk drinkers out there. Bottom line: Everything is going to cost more.

This isn't going to be a "tax the rich" situation; it will be a "tax everyone" situation. Eighty-eight percent of all Americans will pay higher taxes next year, about $3,500 per household on average. The average will be about $2,000 for families earning between $50,000 and $100,000, more for those earning more.

Again, that means you and I will have less to spend. Unfortunately, that also translates to continued woe for businesses especially small businesses. The result: Fewer jobs! In fact, if all this takes place, economists predict the US will face a huge recession and increased unemployment – a more than 1 percent hike in official unemployment figures, to 9.1 percent. You can only imagine how that will affect towns like Dalton already plagued by high unemployment.

Now that we've discussed the reality of what we face, let's think through some strategies we might employ to survive the coming storm.

  1. Spend less! I realize that's not very American of me, but the fact is you only have so much money coming in and soon that amount will decrease. If that is the case, your family needs to be proactive in finding doable ways to adjust for that decrease in income. I could list many practical ways you could do that such as less eating out and buying fewer toys, but in the end those decisions are family specific. Regardless of what you decide to do, spend less!


  2. Save more! The average American household does not have enough funds on hand to purchase even one household appliance that suddenly needs replacing. I've heard a lot of numbers thrown around, but most experts agree on having $1,000 minimum in the bank to cover unforeseen expenses. Without that buffer fund, you are surely doomed to rely on some form of credit and that is a sure way to sink your ship. So, start saving now!


  3. Pay off debt! Even if it's just a small amount each month, start whacking away at debt. Most financial gurus I've listened to suggest starting with your smallest debt. Pay it off and then apply that monthly amount plus your current payment to the next smallest area of debt. Keep that up until it all goes bye-bye! Every dollar you pay off brings you closer to financial security. Along with that, DO NOT add to your current debt load! Paying off current debt is pointless if you continue to add to it, so QUIT USING CREDIT TO BUY STUFF! If you're not convinced this is a sound strategy, just look at the government. Remember, spending more than we have is what got us in this mess to start with! So, pay off debt!


  4. Along with those obvious strategies, may I suggest a few ideas that might help add up to big savings for your household? First, talk to someone about your current tax deductions. It may be you need to adjust your federal and state tax withholdings. If you are currently getting back thousands on your tax return, you might want to rethink that. Most folks insist it is better to have more usable funds now than to get a whooping tax refund once a year. Still, you don't want to slash that too much, especially now that taxes are increasing. Healthy balance…that's the key.

    Next, if you haven't checked around for savings on auto and home insurance, now might be a good time. "A 15 minute call might save you hundreds", or so they say.

    And last but not least, consider saying goodbye to goodies you now enjoy. I know it's tough, but tough times demand tough choices! TV? Do you really "need" cable or satellite TV service? I say no! We haven't had it for a couple of years and it has saved us a bundle. You can purchase a good quality outdoor antenna for around $100. The signal is digital and IT"S FREE! Yeah, you may miss out on a few shows, but most content can be watched online for free if you have internet service. I use "Hulu" quite a bit and I have to say I am completely satisfied. Also, consider saying adios to your land line phone service, especially if you have a cell phone. Small changes here and there can add up to big savings!

Yes, most likely we will soon be taking the plunge over "the cliff", but that doesn't mean we have to perish on the rocks below. It will be difficult, but such is life. The truth is this anyone that didn't see this coming must have had their head stuck in the sand. It's been happening across "the pond" for some time now and you know what they say, what goes down in Europe eventually goes down in America.

So feel free to kick, scream, and protest if you like, in the end none of it really matters. We're still heading over the cliff!

PS – If you're not too crazy about the way Washington is spending your money, vote the Jackasses…and the elephants out in the next election! Allowing the same do nothing idiots to stay in office year after year makes zero sense!

Friday, November 30, 2012

From the Desk of a Guy Turning 44

Tomorrow's my birthday! Yep, I'll go from the ripe young age of 43 to the slightly overly ripe age of 44. It doesn't really bother me though. I figure that most 60+ folks out there wish they were still 44 and consider that age to be "tender" at best. So, I guess it's all about having a proper perspective.
Speaking of "perspective", I thought I would take a moment to share a few tidbits about life from a "well-seasoned" (older than 40) point of view.
By the way, if you're reading this and do happen to be older than me, PLEASE do not leave comments telling me things will get worse! I just don't think I could take it!

The following is a list of 11 truly great revelations I have come to embrace my 43rd year of life on planet earth. They are in no particular order.

  1. Briefs are far more comfortable than boxers. Women seem to like boxers better, but women do not need "support" in that area, so who cares what they think!

  2. Losing weight after 40 is almost impossible. You have to do twice the amount of work for half the results. If you are fat at 43, you will most likely die fat. So eat, and die happy.

  3. Younger women do not think guys over 40 are sexy (not that I care, I have a honey) unless they have money. If you do not have money, you are out of luck.

  4. Coloring your hair will not fool anyone about your age. Your sagging man boobs tell the tale, so save your money boys and go gray gracefully.

  5. Going without water all day will not keep you from having to get up to pee in the middle of the night. At 43, your body conserves a certain amount of water that it will only release after midnight regardless of your best efforts to avoid getting up.

  6. The health of your "love life" will eventually be in the hands of a pharmaceutical company. If you want to keep your wife "happy", just suck it up and buy the pills!

  7. Those pains you feel when you get up in morning are your body's way of encouraging you that you are not wasting money on that life insurance policy you took out when you were young.

  8. Book companies are not making books with smaller print. This is a lie. You are 43. Buy the glasses you pretend you don't need before you end up accidentally taking your wife's hormone pills, thus making your man boobs much worse.

  9. At 43, you should never pick anything up off the floor. The Chiropractor has enough patients…and money.

  10. Buying that cool sports car is now pointless. At 43, the ladies only want to know if you can afford those pills discussed in revelation # 6. If you can, you're good to go with the chicks!

And finally….
  1. At 43, I'm just now beginning to understand…that I do not understand anything.
And I'm guessing that's a good thing.

Happy Birthday to me!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Got Questions? Do Not Ask a “Lemming”!

I would like to preface this posting of mine by stating that most of what I'm sharing here is for me. I use "we" and "our" language because I feel it is applicable to all "our" lives. Still this post, as with most of my other ramblings, originated from musings about my own struggles.

I would also like to say that every pastor/preacher dude out there ought to be shouting amen after reading this. I have to believe that they are weary of people's unrealistic expectations of them and would love to see some folks trading in their bottles of milk for solid food.

Bottom line: If you don't feel "fed" by your pastor/preacher, maybe you should get up off your spiritual rear and begin to assume some responsibility for your own withered soul.


And so, it begins.


Have you ever heard the saying "It's like the blind leading the blind"? I have many times. It reminds me a lot of an old video game I used to enjoy playing called "Lemmings".

The basic premise of the game is to guide a horde of mindless little creatures through a variety of obstacles to reach a certain destination. Unfortunately, the "lemmings" are moving constantly and will not stop regardless of what lies before them. If one walks off a cliff, they all walk off the cliff. So in essence, your job is to constantly micromanage their every move lest they kill themselves…and you lose.

A lemming is actually a semi-cute little rodent found near the Artic, but the term is often used in the following derogatory way:

"A person who seemingly does not possess any form of individual thought, and instead, mindlessly follows the behaviors and actions of the masses."

Now I honestly do not want to sound mean, but it really reminds me quite a bit of the modern day American Christian.

I know, that probably makes you angry, but stay with me here. You might just find there's more to this line of thought than you'd care to believe.

If you ask most Christians, what it means to be "Christian", they can usually come up with an answer. It may be weird and completely unbiblical, but you'll likely get an answer. Probe deeper and you'll most likely hear some form of programmed answer they picked up in church.

My question is this: Is our faith really ours if it is only based on the words and opinions of others? In other words, what is our faith really built on? What is it made of and can we biblically defend it? By the way, that word "biblically" is important.

The truth is most of us (believers) are in trouble when it comes to answering the world's questions about life, death, and faith. Why? Because, most "Christians" have no clue why they believe what they believe. They just know the guy in front of them said it was true and that's all that matters.

Lemmings may be cute, but that approach doesn't work so well when it comes to issues of faith, nor does it stand up to the scrutiny of the world.

Question: If someone asks you a difficult question about your faith, do you feel confident you could handle it? You may respond, "That depends on the question." Indeed, it does.

Just for fun, let's look at a few questions I've been confronted with over the years. Look them over and think about how you would answer a struggling unbeliever.

By the way, telling them you'll introduce them to your "pastor", or inviting them to "church" are not acceptable responses.

For the sake of time and sanity, I'll only list five:

  1. If God is good and loves the world, why does He allow people to go to Hell?
  2. What is sin and how do I avoid it?
  3. Why do we tell others they should pray to "receive Jesus in their hearts" when it's not in the bible?
  4. How do you know Jesus the only way to Heaven?
  5. How can I know God's will for my life?

Scary questions, huh?

So what about it? Would you feel comfortable trying to answer these questions…right now? The truth is, most of us would likely shoot from the hip and pray we're not screwing up too bad. I know I've struggled with each of these at one time or another. Many times I've replied, "Let me get back to you", but is that acceptable? Shouldn't we know our way around our own faith better than that? If we don't, is it really our faith we're living, or are we just another "lemming" following the guy directly in front of us (that "guy" could be anyone…not necessarily your preacher dude…don't blame him)?

I generally don't like to quote a bunch of scripture. Too many people sling scripture with reckless abandon trying to convince the world they're right. God knows I know, because I've done it for years. Still, I would like to present the following for consideration:

2 Timothy 2:15 – "Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth."

In other words, don't just blindly follow other people and embrace their opinions. Get in the game and start seeking God for yourself. So much of American Christianity is based on the whole "he said/she said" game? Sometimes that is fine, but what happens when he/she is wrong? I'll tell you what happens. We pass that bad information on to our fellow lemmings (and the world) and before you know it, we're all walking off a cliff. Not good.

Let's go back to the scripture I cited above. Notice it says, "work hard so you". Who is he challenging to work hard? The turkey looking at you in the mirror, that's who. Why? So you and I can present "ourselves" to God unashamed. It's personal. There are many other scriptures to back this up, and each challenges us to be responsible for our own faith.

That's not to say that we can't receive insight from others. We certainly can and probably should, but in the end we must follow God, and check out what "man" is babbling about…very carefully!

As I stated at the beginning, I still struggle with this process today. Just because I haven't been under the teaching of a preacher dude for 3 years doesn't mean I am outside of other's influence on my life. I still listen to "others" and read "others" books. There's more than enough opportunity to join the lemming parade passing by. In fact, it's mighty hard not to.

For me the greatest tragedy of being a lemming is not the fact that we're following clueless people, but rather we are leading clueless people…"cluelessly" (not a word…I know).

The world is hungry for answers. It longs for something real, something true. Today's pseudo-intellectual brand of "heathen" tend to be overwhelmingly cynical. Few trust Christians and fewer still care what we have to say. They've heard all our big talk and watched our small walk. They're tired of our trite, programmed responses to their questions and view us as rigid, judgmental hypocrites. I get that.

I was having a conversation with a homeless man not long ago. This man has been homeless for over 30 years. I asked him how many times "Christians" had tried to sell on religion in the last 30 years. He just laughed and replied, "He couldn't begin to count that high". As we continued to talk, he shared that the problem was not that they had tried to share Jesus with him, but that he knew they didn't really care about him, nor was he convinced they really bought into what they were pushing. "Just a bunch of fakers".

Well, I'm sure these folks all meant well, but there's something to be said about his perception of these folks.

If we are indeed perceived as nothing more than just a bunch of confused "fakers", what in the world should we do to rectify the problem? How can we truly become the "salt" and "light" Jesus said we are supposed to be? How can we effectively be salt and light when we do not understand what that means or how it is supposed to work? Well, I'm not sure I'm qualified to "fix" anyone (even myself), but I'm quite sure it won't happen by playing follow the leader in the lemming line.

As I stated before, we must begin to take responsibility for our own faith. If you don't know the answer, pray, study, and pray some more until the Holy Spirit leads you "into all truth". It is possible, or He would not have said so. Feel free to listen to "others", just make sure you check those suckers out! Your faith is and should always be "your faith".

I pray you have not taken this to be a slam against Christians, but rather a challenge to rise up and begin to shine. None of us have "arrived" in the faith, especially this guy. Still, we must be intentional about learning our way around our own faith if we really want to move forward with Christ…and take a few folks with us.

So with that, I'll hush. By the way, if you are planning on playing "Lemmings", just make sure the guy in front of you…is Jesus.




Saturday, November 17, 2012

33+1 Good Excuses To Skip Church This Sunday

Tomorrow morning, thousands of good-hearted Christians will rise up for another trip to the ole church house. Some will go with joy, some…not so much.

For those of you who would love to stay home, but struggle with knowing what to say to that nosy church member you will inevitably run in to at Wal-Mart on Monday. I have just the thing for you!

Yes, it’s my very special “33 + 1 excuses to skip church this Sunday” list. Try one, try them all! Guaranteed to throw those pesky Pharisees off your scent!

• God told me I needed to stay home this Sunday for some reason (this is great, who can dispute God???).

• I worked 80 hours this week (well it felt like 80).

• The music is too loud/slow/fast/old/new/contemporary.

• The music director wouldn’t let me sing in the choir.

• The pews/chairs are too hard/soft.

• I’m just not getting fed.

• It’s full of hypocrites

• They try and get “rough” youth to come. I don’t want to be a part of a church that invites kids with problems.

• I don’t have anything to wear.

• I can stay home. There are plenty of preachers on TV.

• They just want my hard earned cash.

• The preacher preaches against Harry Potter

• I can’t come without my spouse.

• The preacher preaches too long.

• They have drums there.

• Our electricity went off.

• It’s too cold/hot.

• No one checked on me the last time I was sick

• Someone I don’t like goes there.

• The preacher yells too much.

• There are too many old people.

• There are too many young people

• They cater to the young too much.

• They cater to the old too much.

• I really needed to mow the yard.

• The preacher gave a sermon directed specifically at me.

• I can’t come because I might fall asleep and embarrass myself.

• The toilets at church smell funny.

• The preacher hacks and spits on people.

• I thought I might be getting sick.

• Someone corrected my child last time I went.

• Someone always sits in my seat.

• I just needed a day off.

And my favorite:

• Ken Richmond doesn’t go, why should I?

Feel free to throw me under the bus. I’ll be your Huckleberry.

Friday, November 16, 2012

God Does Not Need A Few Good Men

There's a song that came out a few years back that said, "He just needs a few good men". Not too bad of a song, but unfortunately it touted an unbiblical, warm and fuzzy message. In other words, it was bologna.

A lot of folks out there continue to think I am a backslidden heathen due to my avoidance of "churches" and general disdain for most aspects of Americanized Christianity. They are probably right. I am rarely good and often times quite unpleasant. In fact, I would have to say that in many instances, one would find it most difficult to find any credible evidence of "goodness" in my life.

The "good" news is that I realize it and it doesn't really bother me. Why? Well it could be that I just don't care (I don't…much). Still, it's most likely due to the fact that I'm fairly sure He's not really trying to shape me into anything remotely "good", nor is He looking for "a few good men".

If you ask most folks what it means to be a successful "Christian", they will likely begin to list the "good" stuff we should be doing and the bad to be avoided. If you're wondering what such a list might look like, I have taken some time to compose a fine example for you.

  1. Go to church every time the doors are open
  2. Smile and act like your life is perfect (especially around other Christians and at church)
  3. Give lots of money (even if you can't pay your bills)
  4. Volunteer for everything (overcommit when at all possible)
  5. Don't ever lose your temper (especially with clergy…God will get you for that!)
  6. Be nice to everyone all the time (especially when you're at Wal-Mart)
  7. Do not cuss (even if you stub your toe)
  8. Do not drink (everyone knows Jesus turned the water into grape juice…not wine!)
  9. Submit to your spiritual authorities (even when you know they're wrong or just ignorant)
  10. Read your bible and pray every day (do it in the morning for true legend status)
I could go on, but if ten is good enough for Letterman, it's good enough for me.
So how'd you score? 8 out of 10? Maybe 9? "Impressive! Most Impressive" (a little Darth Vader quote for all the Star Wars fans)

Now let me give you some "good" and bad news. Let's start with the bad news. The bad news is even if you are able to check off each and every item on my little list, you are not "good".

And just what is the good news you ask?

God does not care! In fact, He is most likely waiting on you to "not care" also.

"HERESY! You speak heresy Ken Richmond!"

I can hear it now…

"But Ken, don't you know that reading the bible and praying are important activities?"


"Don't you believe that we should give?"


"Don't you realize that God doesn't want His kids drinking wine?"

……...don't ask me that one. You might not like my answer.

"Then you Ken Richmond are not good! Not good at all!"

Yep! You're right, but I've already admitted that so it's no great revelation.

The truth is God is not concerned with our "goodness" or lack thereof. Only He is "good". That means your wholehearted attempts at being "good" end up as nothing more than a load of wood, hay, and stubble (what is stubble?) What He is concerned with is holiness and relationship. The problem is many people really believe refraining from the bad and doing the "good" makes one holy. It does not (I could quote scripture, but you can look it up …I'm lazy).

What does make us holy? God plus NOTHING!

When you and I became believers, did we do anything to make that happen? I can tell you I did not. I changed nothing about myself. I came to God "as is" with nothing to offer Him. I was not "good" and was quite aware of it. You know what happened? He saved me, loved on me, and He began shaping me into what He desired me to be. I DID NOTHING! And guess what sports fans, I'm still doing nothing!

Now if He was willing to accept me when I was at my worst, how much more accepted am I today now that I have been adopted and made His child? Am I now "good" or concerned about my "goodness"? Nope, not even close! Why? Because I am holy, and holiness is all that matters to God.

Now some might consider my proclamation of holiness to be somewhat prideful. On the contrary, it is the most humbling thing one could ever experience. A holy God takes a worthless, dirty soul, applies the blood of His own son to that soul, and creates a new creature that is capable of being called the temple of His Spirit. I'd call that mighty humbling. Does personal "goodness" even remotely matter in the presence of such awesome grace and love? I don't think so. If my "goodness" could be seen as having any significance or merit, Christ died for nothing. Your "goodness" meant nothing when God first rescued you and it means even less today. Back then, that lie was all we had; now we have Christ. Only His "goodness" means anything, and that "goodness" resides in you in the form of holiness.

So, what must we do? What's "our part" in this? I'm thinking not much. The best thing you can do for God is embrace what He has done and is currently doing in your life. Will that make you "good", probably not, but you might just begin to experience a level of freedom and joy that makes "goodness" seem not so "good".

I decided to entitle this post, "God Does Not Need A Few Good Men". By now, I hope you realize such an animal does not exist.

With that, I would like to offer what I consider to be sound advice:

Quit obsessing about your "goodness". You are not "good", nor will you ever be!

Instead, why not just enjoy God, take life a day at a time, and if you take a notion, have a swig or two of your favorite "grape juice". Might I recommend the "Southern Blush"?

It is delicious!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jesus Plus…NOTHING!

Well, Halloween has come and gone, but the candy wrappers still linger. This year, my family celebrated the devil's birthday (I know…I'm bad) with a rousing round of trick-or-treating in our friend's well stocked neighborhood. It was lots of fun and the kiddies plastic jack-o-lanterns were overflowing with goodies.

The next day I noticed that some good hearted soul had given out gospel tracts along with the sugary stuff. Honestly, I was quite thrilled to see this that is until I began to flip through said document. Yes, it presented the gospel alright, but long with it were several pages devoted completely to advertising a particular area church. And that…made me want to puke!

I would have chosen a less graphic word than puke, but I felt it appropriate considering how repulsive I find such tactics. Why oh why can't we just present the gospel these days without always turning it into a marketing opportunity to advance our "thing"? I call it "thing" because that's what it becomes when we resort to such shenanigans! It is sickeningly offensive and does nothing, but further blur an already skewed view of the gospel in the eyes of a very skeptical world.

Why do these businesses (I will not call them churches…they are businesses) do this? "Oh Ken, they just want to reach people for Jesus!" Surely you must feel the sting of that rolling off your lips if you're truly able to say that with a straight face. Say what you will, but it is a terrible misuse of a grand opportunity to reach the lost and I believe it grieves the heart of God.

Let me make this very clear! PEOPLE NEED JESUS PLUS NOTHING!

Your church with all the trimmings can do nothing for someone who gets the tract, reads it, and dies the next day thinking they'll visit on Sunday.

If you want to help people, quit muddying the pure undefiled water of life with your self-advancing religious "hey look at me" crap. Why can't we just believe that the gospel alone is more than enough?
I can hear people now, "Yeah, but what if they have questions or need counseling?" Why not just put a simple phone number with the message, "Need help? Have questions? Call….." Do we really have to devote several pages of a gospel tract advertising how we want them to attend and join our "thing"?

This "approach" does nothing but distort what it means to become a child of God. If they need to become a part of one of our "churches", can we not trust that God can handle leading them in that? Is that not what most Christians do when looking for a new gig? They pray and trust God to lead them in the right direction. These "tracts" present the whole "you need a church and we're it" mess as being just as important as the gospel itself. Again, what happens when they get caught up in the "come to our church message" at the expense of the "you need Jesus" portions of the marketing flyer (cause it's not a tract)? If you only get one shot at sharing Jesus with someone, is that really the best approach?

The truth is American "Christianity" and doing "church" has become more about us and our own sad agendas than anything else. It's as if we say to God, "Lord, here's the plan, now see if you can fit in somewhere." Most of the places participating in this junk just want to grow bigger, take in more cash, and do more stuff. Why? Because, it makes everyone feel really successful and we all know that's what it's all about. Not only that, it works as a wonderful substitute for the true relationship most modern "Christians" don't have time for and avoid.

Newsflash: God does not give a rip about any of that! It's a sick game we play and it makes the devil chuckle.

I will end with this; if your church does not participate in such foolishness, I AM NOT talking to you, nor am I speaking of your church. I AM talking about the "religious organizations" that do. Still, you might want to check out the literature that's leaving through the front doors of your own joint. You might be surprised.

Jesus plus nothing still gets the job done folks. If you want people to come to your church, just say so, but quit using the gospel message as an excuse to advance your own kingdom.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Impossibility of Gay Marriage

Let me begin today by clearly stating I am not against homosexuals in any way. I have friends who are gay and I love them very much. Does that mean I am "pro-homosexual"? Nope! If these dear friends of mine ask me (they don't), I will tell them I do not support their choice to pursue this lifestyle, nor do I believe it represents God's best for their lives….but I still love them regardless.

With that, I would like to present the following truth:

There is not, nor will there ever be such a thing as "gay marriage". It is an impossibility.

Even if the President and Congress decided today to legalize "gay marriage", it still could not exist.

You can have all the ceremonies you want in all the churches you want. You can read from the bible at the ceremony, pray prayers of blessings over the couple, exchange rings, call each other "spouse", share a home, start a family, grow old together, and participate in any and all the married "stuff" you choose to. Still, a "gay marriage" is not possible. It will never exist.

Why you ask? How could I say such a thing?

You see, at the heart of every marriage is a spiritual covenant. This God designed covenant can only exist between a man, a woman, and the Spirit of the living God. It is a bonding of three hearts. Marriage, as designed by God, is a spiritual union and God will never join His spirit with anything that attempts to usurp His perfect design. Gay marriage would certainly do that. Therefore, its existence can be in name only. It is a fa├žade.

Bottom line: Nothing spiritual can exist apart from God, and real marriage is completely spiritual.

Honestly, I find it so very strange to hear certain Christians continually voice their support for gay marriage. It's kind of like hearing a person of Jewish descent saying Hitler had a right to do as he pleased, or hearing that Martin Luther King Jr. supported the KKK's existence. No I am NOT comparing homosexuals to Hitler or the KKK. My point is that Christians aligning their hearts to such pagan beliefs is equally, overwhelmingly absurd! It reminds me of the time when Jesus was accused of doing miracles through the power of Satan. He let them know in a hurry that such a thing was downright stupid.

Again, marriage cannot exist apart from God; therefore gay marriage is not possible. Marriage was designed by God to be something that can ONLY exist between a man and a woman. He himself is a living part of every true marriage. This was His design. He is God and He gets to choose. In other words, cows don't fly, dogs don't talk, and pigs don't play tennis. Why? Because, God did not design these creatures to function in such ways, nor did He create marriage for same sex couples. Sorry, you can't change the rules! He's the boss and His word is final.

In Genesis 2:24, the bible teaches us the following:

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

Please notice it does not say "a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his husband", nor does it say "a woman will leave her father and mother and be united to her wife".

Say whatever you like, but your opinion (and my own) means nothing. Truthfully, you will NEVER find one single example of homosexual marriage in the bible. You might find negative examples of homosexual behavior, but never homosexual marriage. It's just not there.

God designed marriage to provide many beautiful benefits including partnership, spiritual intimacy and the ability to pursue God — together, but this only applies to a man and a woman. Anything beyond that is of a human origin and has nothing to do with God or His design for His creation.

I realize my words may sound somewhat harsh especially in a culture inundated with politically correct jargon, but truth is truth. Does that mean I am against people who struggle with homosexuality? Absolutely not! Again, I have friends that are homosexual and I love them very much. Still, my love for these individuals cannot excuse me (or you) from recognizing and submitting to God's design for life.

So, why did I bother to state the obvious? Why did I rehash what has been said a million times before? Well, apparently, some Christians in a sad attempt to not "offend" others have indeed tried to change the rules. I hear supposedly Christian people say things like, "They have a right to be happy", and "It's none of my business". Really? Is that what the word of God teaches? Fudge on truth if it offends? Only take a stand if it doesn't compromise the beliefs of others? I don't think so.

Does that mean we have to be mean-spirited jerks? Of course not, but we aren't doing anyone any great favor by pretending God is "okay" with what some "feel" is true.

Again I will say, nothing spiritual can exist apart from God, and real marriage is completely spiritual.

Therefore, like it or not, gay marriage is impossible. It does not exist, nor will it ever exist.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Obama, Hitler, and Rotten Trees

A friend of mine recently put up a picture on "facebook" of a shirt that said, "Keep Calm and Vote Obama". Let me tell you about what happens when you "Keep calm".

In the 1940's, Hitler worked hard to keep his plan to consume Europe and annihilate the Jews quiet. Why? America and the world would not have tolerated it. Even when he began to overtake parts of Europe, Leaders like Neville Chamberlain of Britain wanted to "talk it out". The result: World War 2 and the deaths of millions of innocent people.

Today, Iran's Ahmadinejad has proudly proclaimed to the world at the UN his plan to do the same to our allies in Israel. In fact, he has done this on three separate occasions. Obama's response? Let's try more diplomacy. Folks you cannot "talk it out" with power thirsty dictators and extremists! Again, ask Neville Chamberlain how that worked out with Hitler.

America cannot take another four years of apathy and weakness. To do so would be to hand this world over to those who want nothing more than complete global domination.

On a different note….

Christian: Stop lying to yourself pretending God is okay with your support of liberal candidates. God is STILL against abortion and homosexuality, and His heart continues to beat strongly for His people in Israel. Yes indeed He loves people (including homosexuals and abortion doctors), but do not think you will get some kind of pat on the rump from your heavenly "daddy" because you wanted your way more than His. How can you continue to support those who endlessly challenge God? Such foolishness is expected from the world, but from those who supposedly claim Christ as Savior? The truth is, either you are completely deceived, overwhelmingly ignorant of God's word, or just plain lost.

Bottom line: A tree is known by its fruit. Rotten fruit…rotten tree.

Again, stop lying to yourself. If you can honestly say you support abortion and homosexuality, you're not His.  By that, I mean your heart is not in sync with His.  You cannot be yours and's that whole "can't serve two masters" thing.  Are you lost?  Maybe, but that is not my call to make regardless of what appearances may reveal.  Although, I certainly would spend some time working through that.  It's kind of important you know.

Don't like what you're reading?

Better to hear it now from me than when you stand before Him later...or sooner.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

If The Snakes Don’t Get You, God Will!

Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, we all fail in one way or another each and every day we live. I hate that! It's even worse when your failures affect those around you.

I've come to realize throughout the years that at the core of my being, I really am a people pleaser. I want people to be happy with me. Some may doubt that based on my antics, but nevertheless, it is true. This is also true of my relationship with the Lord. I desperately want to be a "good" Christian and NEVER fail Him in any way. If you know me, please feel free to laugh now because it rarely happens. I am constantly saying and doing stupid things. Regardless, I do possess a deep desire to be pleasing to Him in all that I say and do.

As I said, we all make mistakes. The real problem for me is knowing how to deal with my "shortcomings". What do you do when you cannot seem to do as you should?

With that, I'd like to share with you some thoughts about my own process of transitioning from living as a depressed, guilt-laden failure to a loved and completely accepted son.

If you know me, you know I love to make people laugh. Unfortunately, I possess a very warped sense of humor and consider few topics to be off limits. One outlet I utilize to entertain the public at large is the creation of ridiculous videos. I've made many over the years and I can tell you I really believed each and every one was just brimming with giggles. Occasionally though, someone will let me know that they really didn't enjoy my desperate attempt to fill the world with laughter. Instead, a video of mine produced the exact opposite effect for that person. It completely offended them. As I said, I do have a warped sense of humor, but I can assure you I would never intentionally post anything that I actually believed would seriously offend anyone. I'm not crazy. People pleasing people just don't do that sort of thing. Our highest goal in life is to have each and every person we encounter fall madly in love with us. Yes I realize that is sick, but it's a sickness I live with and it makes me crazy. So, what happens when I do offend someone? I become deeply depressed and immediately begin the process of wallowing in guilt and shame for hurting someone. Did I mean to? Absolutely not, but the reality is I did…and it kills me. Yes, failure sucks!

It's really no different with God. The only real difference is that with God, my failures bring about a far more profound sense of guilt, shame, and my favorite…depression.

Okay, at this point I'll need you to strap in because the following will most likely push you into the realm of complete belief that I am a "bona fied" nut.

Each and every day I go through a completely irrational ritual on my way home from work. There are various neurotic components, but at its core is a review of all the ways in which I failed God and man throughout my day. The ride home is only about fifteen minutes, but it is just long enough to send me spiraling into the quagmire of each of the negative emotional responses listed above…and it is misery! By the time I do get home, I am looking for a cliff to jump off of because I am completely convinced this world would be far better off without Mr. "Funny Britches".

How often did you say you do this Ken? EVERY DAY!

So, I guess a reasonable question to ask at this point would be why? Why in the heck do you do such a thing if you know what it is going to "do" to you? Ahhhhh, a good question indeed and after many clueless years I finally have an answer that I really believe many will relate to.

I "do" it because I am convinced it is the right thing to "do".

You see, I am a Christian, and somewhere along the way on my Christian journey I became convinced of the idea that I must experience profound hurt, crawl on my belly through the mud, and suffer severe mental anguish before I am eligible to receive God's forgiveness and restoration. The whole idea is universal really, and we all know how it works. You do "bad" in this world, you get punished. As a child, I did many foolish things at home and at school. When I got caught, I was punished. That's how it worked. That punishment was generally dealt out by my parents or teachers if it happened at school. The problem is when you're all grown up, and you "do bad", who's going to punish you? Well, I suppose mom or dad could once again break out one of my dad's leather belts of destruction if called upon, but I'm guessing that day has come and gone. So who's left? Who is big and bad enough to put the "uh oh" in a grown man or woman? If you're a Christian (and many non-Christians) that job has been handed over to God. You know, the "Heavenly Father". After all, you always get caught by God. Nothing gets by Him…right? And besides, who is scarier than God? No one that's who! Now, I can tell you, I hated getting punished by my dad. He would whack you with a belt so hard you'd start to sweat. It was scary. Still, as scared as I was of dad whacking me, nothing compares to the unadulterated fear I experience at the prospects of getting whacked by a holy and just God. Just read the Old Testament! He is a real pro at whacking people. That will really give you something to cry about!

So, what do you do if you don't want to get whacked by God (which I most certainly do not)? You "whack" yourself. Here dear friends is where the neuroticism really kicks in. You see, the line of thinking goes something like this:

I did "bad", so I now deserve punishment. I do not want super scary God to whack me, so if I beat myself up just enough and prove to Him how terribly sorry I am for being such an idiot, He might take pity on me and not break my legs.

It gets better.

If you're a fruitcake like me, this whole process not only makes sense, but is absolutely necessary because that is how one comes to terms with sin and learns to avoid it. I sin, I go through an unspecified period of self-deprecating abuse, constantly reminding myself what a loser I am, and then….I'll be better. And if I'm truly fortunate, I will have avoided the "God whacking" in the process. By the way, this whole mess is easily justified if you'll just tell yourself enough times that this is all part of God's chastisement of those He loves.

Now, doesn't that just sound peachy? Nothing like the "I've been set free" Christian life! It really puts gas in my tank to run to and fro shouting the good news of the gospel to all that will listen. NOT!

Finally, the saddest part of this whole mess is that I absolutely know in my heart it is all a lie from Hell (and some pulpits). Yet, for years I have embraced this demented process as representing the heart of God. Like I said, neurotic!

You'd think a guy would eventually catch on that such an approach is not only unbiblical, it also NEVER works. I never get better, the process is never ending, and I live in constant misery, running from a God of my own creation that scares the bejeebers out of me!

So, what now? What in the world do you do with such thinking and how does one go about getting better?

I once heard Steve Brown of "Key Life Ministries" say (and I'm paraphrasing here), "The only way you'll ever get rid of a demon is to look that sucker straight in the eye and keep staring till you're no longer scared". Well I've never actually seen a demon, but I really don't think that is what Steve is saying. I think that he is challenging us to stop and really ponder what it is that is making us believe, speak, and act in ways that are contrary to the truths God has given us. Instead of just blindly accepting all the junk that derails our life, we should be willing to face our "issues" with courage and faith-filled belief that Jesus really came to set us free. I mean, either He came to set us free or He didn't. It isn't easy to go through the process of separating that which is true from the lies. Demons are scary and the lies seem so very true, but we are sons and daughters of the King, and He promises to stand with you while you stare those "suckers" down.

Now the big question: How the heck does this happen? How do we go from living life in a cage to experiencing the sweet freedom Jesus offers? Let's talk about it.

Most of the people here in the South hate snakes and will generally do one of two things when encountering a snake. They will either run screaming like a girl (especially if you are a girl), or grab the nearest implement of death and kill it. Why? Because, somewhere along the way, they took up the belief that snakes are evil and should always be destroyed. Is that reality? Are snakes really evil? Of course not, but like many other animals they will fight back if they feel threatened. So, after hearing enough stories about snakes biting people, most folks assume that it is the goal of each and every snake to seek out humans to bite. And that…is stupidity! Still, it drives most to hate and fear these creatures and seek their destruction. This false belief is based on bad information, yet causes most folks to respond in a way that is senseless. Now, I'm not going to pretend that snakes are my favorite animal. They are not, but I generally do not fear them. I realize they play an important role in nature and here for a reason. How did I escape the ever popular fear induced hatred of snakes?

Here's the key: I sought out the truth, rejected the lie, and stood my ground regardless of what my feelings or people were telling me. Simply put, I replaced the "bad information" with truth.

As many of you know, I am a science teacher. In fifth grade science, we study all sorts of cool stuff including…you guessed it, snakes! Now there's a big difference between science and say reading. Reading presents many different genres including both fiction and non-fiction. In other words, some of the stories we read are true, some not so much. Science is different. In science we work hard to present only those things which are factual. So, as I prepared to teach my students about snakes, I learned that they really are pretty neat creatures and not the slimy killers (they're not slimy…that'd be amphibians) people have made them out to be. That bad information is false regardless of what most folks are feeling, saying, and believing.

So, the question is what does all this mumbo jumbo about snakes have to do with getting "whacked" by God? Everything!

If we see God as some kind of heavenly policeman (a lot of times I do) who is just waiting on us to make a dumb move, it is only natural that we would see every bad thing in life as some kind of punishment dealt out by an angry God. Again, you mess up; you have to pay the price! Act, speak, or think wrong, and you better know it's whacking time! Is this view of God correct? Heck no! Do countless numbers of folks (including me) believe it is despite what God has revealed to us through the scriptures and His Son? Absolutely! Why? Because that is what makes sense, and that is how the world works. Still, none of this kind of thinking is based on truth. It is bad information, and that demon needs to be faced and dealt with. Too many of us (including me) in the church have embraced this faulty view that God is at least part of the time some kind of bipolar, cosmic child abuser. This is a lie from the pit of Hell and must be replaced with truth. So, what is the truth?

If God did not create us just to have someone to slap around, what is my purpose? Why am I here? Who is God and what is He really like? Why am I seeing Him as a child abuser? Is God really for me and not against me? Do I dare to actually believe He loves me?

What is the truth?

Well I suppose I could list an endless number of scriptures here in an attempt to prove that God really is the benevolent, amazingly loving, caring, and compassionate God He claims to be, but I would be guilty of perpetuating the process that got us in such bad shape to start with. That being, people listening to other people instead of finding out who God really is and what He has to say for THEMSELVES! Remember the whole snake analogy; you probably would not fear snakes if others had not instilled that fear in you. It is bad information based on the opinions of others not the facts. One of the greatest tragedies that exists within the church today is that many Christians only know God as revealed to them through the words of others. Everything they hear and live by is second hand information, and unfortunately some of it is just not true.

I will risk telling you that the bible does admonish us to taste and see that the Lord is "GOOD". Have you ever had someone describe how tasty something is that they are eating? No matter how "delicious" you tell me something is, I'll never really understand until I put it in my own mouth. "Tasting" is something you have to experience for yourself, and honestly, the same is true when it comes to really knowing God. It doesn't matter how many people try to convince you of this. In the end, knowing truth and the God of truth, is always personal. People can tell us all day long that the fear, guilt, and shame we feel is not based on truth nor does it represent the heart of the Father towards His kids, but until we (especially me!) spend some time seeking His heart "which is His truth" for ourselves, we will never really get it. We will never know how "tasty" His truth really is.

In closing, I hope that you truly get what I'm trying to say here. I tend to ramble and lose my way at times. If God says He loves us, forgives us, and wants nothing more than to help us, we can believe it! Our opinions and the opinions of others mean nothing. If you are struggling with the thought that God is trying to kill you, or at least make you miserable, let me assure you and remind myself that it is not true. BUT, don't take my word for it. Get a big mouthful of "tasty" truth, stare that demon down, and know that you have the full support of a loving Father who wants nothing more than to lead us all out of that cage of lies. Jesus kicked the door open and set us free over 2000 years ago. He took the keys from the snake, and defanged that lying rascal for good!

And that….is a great place for an "amen"!

May our dear heavenly Father help us all to reject that which is false, hold tightly to that which is true, and trust that He is absolutely a God who stands by what He says.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Why the World Will End In Two Weeks!

Well now, it has been quite a while since I took the time to post any "heresy" to this little blog of mine. So, I decided I would break the silence and once again let my fingers do some talking. As with all my posts, I will not be held responsible for my desecration of the English language. Grammar Nazis be darned!

Today's actual topic: Why Ken Richmond Is "Unmarketable".

Unfortunately, this post has nothing to do with "Why the World Will End in Two Weeks". (I just thought that title was so cool and I liked the sound of it better….sorry I am a deceiver!)

I like youth ministry. I really do. Not only do I enjoy it, I'm fairly good at it. You might say, "Well, aren't we sounding a little prideful today?" Possibly, but truth is truth. God has gifted me in that particular area of ministry and I know it. I like kids (well most of them), and kids generally like me. Am I the best? Nope! Are there others out there just as "gifted" as myself if not more so? I suppose, still I make a pretty darn good youth dude. Some might say, "If that's the case Mr. Awesome, why aren't you out blessing the world with your tremendous gifting?"

That dear friend is a good question, and I intend to answer it. By the way, I love music ministry too, but I'll save that for a different post!

The truth is while I do enjoy "ministry", I do not enjoy much of what we call "doing church". Now before you jump to conclusions and see this as another, "Ken is once again bashing church" session, STOP! It is not that. I am simply attempting to provide an explanation as to why I sit (not so quietly) on the sidelines. I am trying to be transparent and vulnerable here and you should be moved with great emotion at my obvious sincerity and candor.

I realize most people think I'm completely against "church", but I'm not. Actually, I really miss certain aspects of gathering with other believers in an organized fashion especially when it comes to working with kids. I enjoy sharing life with them, hearing their stories, and walking with them through their struggles and victories. I love teaching them truth, mentoring them, and helping them to realize just how crazy in love God is with them. As a matter of fact, I love just about everything dealing with youth ministry. So what's the problem you ask?

The problem comes when "doing church" begins to suck the joy out of what could and should be a thrilling adventure with people I love.

I suppose I could waste keystrokes with some guarded attempts at diplomacy, but I'm just going to cut to the chase here.

The bottom line is I usually do not enjoy a lot of the other "stuff" that comes with the job of working for a church. You know, stuff like attending meetings that have zero to do with anything remotely concerning me, youth ministry, or even Jesus, serving on boring committees, being expected to show up at every non-youth thing going on in the church, and to be honest with you trying to fulfill the all-important "we need lots of kids to make it look like we're a growing church" expectation. It all really gets old, and unfortunately drives many gifted guys and gals right out of ministry altogether.

Add to that my general disdain for the almighty "Sunday Service" (at least in most cases), and you can see there are probably not many churches out there that would want to hitch their youth ministry wagon up to this particular horse.

So has been my experience, and up to this point it has kept me out of the fray.

I think it's sad really, but I cannot imagine any church out there allowing me to just work with the kids, and not be involved in the showy aspects of "doing church" I just don't care about. Oh I've heard an endless number of reasons why they deem my involvement as being "very important", but in the end it really just ends up being all about appearances. Well, if you know me, you know I don't give a rat's rear end about keeping up "appearances", so I sit on the sidelines because most of the time "church" seems to be more about protocol…than people.

Now, if someone could find me a church that will let me work with the kids and their parents, and skip out on the non-youth "stuff" (unless of course it's "stuff" I want to participate in). I just might be persuaded to lock arms with those folks and bless them with my incredibly gifted self (sarcasm…sort of).

Better yet, why not just get some folks together on Sunday morning in a very "you're free to be yourself" manner, celebrate Jesus, testify of His goodness, sing, dance(if that's your thing), and let God do His thing in the midst of His people. Now that sounds good. If you're there, great! If not, no one will bust your chops about it. Wanna wear shorts and flip flops? Go for it! Will there be a "sermon" every Sunday, not sure, but there might be if God lays something on "your" heart. Are there leaders? Yeah, but chances are you couldn't spot them in the crowd. They'd probably be spending most of their time hanging out with, loving on, and serving people.

Oh my, there I go again. Dreaming about something a little outside the box, something that looks and smells a lot like…family.

Anyway, regardless of my little church "wish list", I am more than willing to "lock arms" with people regardless of where they are in this journey. The question is, are they willing to lock arms with a very talented (there's that pride again), but very opinionated man such as myself?

Survey says…. not likely.

Chances are my unsightly, free-spirited baggage will continue to land me a spot…on the bench.

The good news is that I know the owner of the team very well (oh yes I do!), and "by george" if He wants me in the game…I'll be in the game regardless of my shorts, flip flops, or even my over-inflated view of myself!

Oh, and if the world does end in two weeks, don't blame me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

"Welcome To Nowhere" Population…1

(If you're already feeling kind of bummed about life, don't read this.)

There are times I really hate where I am spiritually. I was thinking about it the other day and came up with this analogy.

It's like traveling down the road on a bus with everyone you know. Life feels pretty good and it all seems to make sense in some way. The journey may have some ups and downs, but at least you're moving forward.

The next thing you know, you're being told you need to get off at the next stop. It really doesn't make sense, especially when you realize no one is getting up to exit the bus with you. Still, off you go, all alone into the unknown. Quietly, you watch as the bus pulls away with everyone you know and everything that was familiar, and then…nothing.

Every now and then, someone will stop and offer you a ride, but you never get in. Why? Maybe it's simply fear. I mean, how can you know they are even going in the direction you need to go? Besides, you really don't know yourself where you are or where you're supposed to be. All you know is you were told to get off the bus. But in the end, it's probably more about some half-brained belief that somehow you are where you're supposed to be regardless of how little it seems to make sense. The people that offer you a ride think your nuts for just sitting there. Wouldn't it be better to at least be going somewhere? When they ask you what you're waiting for, you honestly don't even know how to answer. So you just continue to sit, holding on to this ever fading conviction that this is where you are meant to be. It is quiet, it is lonely, and it is frustrating beyond words.

And so I sit at my little bus stop, waiting, wondering, and sadly finding myself caring less and less about any of it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Did You Mean “church” Or “Church”?

The following is my response to ideas presented in an article by Kevin DeYoung entitled "The Glory of Plodding". To read the article, click the link at the top right by that same name.
Is going "to church" necessary?
Not only is it not necessary, the phrase is not found in the bible at all!
You heard me right! Nowhere and I do mean nowhere will you ever find any of the following phrases in the bible:
"Go to church", "Meet at church", or "Attend church"
I could go on, but I'm guessing you get the point.
Yes, I do know what many of you would say. "Ken, doesn't the bible admonish us to not forsake assembling with the saints?" Yes, it does indeed. I have not, nor will I ever disagree with that. It is scripture, it is true, and it certainly represents the heart of God for His kids.
Now, here's a question for you.
What does that have to do with "admonishing" others to attend a man instituted system of religion and the twisting of a biblical term to mean something completely unbiblical?
Answer: Nothing!
By the way, how many people would it take to fulfill this mandate to "assemble with the saints"? I would encourage you to keep in mind that Jesus said where two or three were gathered in His name, He would be in their midst. If I need a special building for two or three folks to assemble, I suppose I better "assemble" with some loaded saints!
Look folks, I know very well that it is God's desire that we travel this journey of faith with other believers. It's absolutely true that there can be no spiritual Lone Rangers. We need each other just like a body needs its parts to function properly, but let's get real here. There is no way on God's green Earth anyone will ever find ANY biblically, sound support for what American's call "going to church".
I've said this before and I'll say it again. "Church" is always used in the bible as a word that describes "the body of Christ". It is not something you attend. Granted, you may choose to meet with "the Church", but you do not meet "at the church". That use of the word comes solely from the mouths of men not God.
You might be tempted to accuse me of splitting hairs here, but I could probably accuse you (at least those of you who adhere to using the term incorrectly) of doing the same.
Is it wrong to meet with other believers in a building? Of course not! As a matter of fact, if you want to buy a building and use it to meet with other believers, have at it! I personally do not see it as being a good use of what God has given us, but you may and that's your business. My problem is that so many folks use the term "church" in phrases such as loving the "Church" and going to "church" synonymously, when in fact these two uses of the word have very different meanings.
With the phrase "loving the Church", "Church" speaks of "the people" while "going to church" would lead us to believe you are speaking of a place or destination. Again, these are two very different words with very different meanings. You cannot use them synonymously.
Again, I have no problem with the idea of "the Church" loving on each other and meeting together however and wherever they choose. I do have a problem with folks muddying the water with religious jargon based on religious traditions instead of sound biblical doctrine. It confuses the world and serves no purpose other than the manipulation and control God's people.
Oh and by the way Mr. DeYoung, Jesus was indeed "anti-religion", "anti-doctrine" (at least the man contrived junk), and "anti-institutional" (just ask the Pharisees).
So, if you're going to use the term "Church", use it within context of what the bible actually teaches. Otherwise, you might find it wise to say nothing at all.