Saturday Nights
January 29, 2017

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I remember Saturday nights when I wore a younger man’s clothes. As I sit here at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, I began thinking of those times.

EVERY Saturday night was a party night. Sometimes we didn’t go out until eleven p.m. and still it was a rowdy night. Let me tell you of those days.

Let’s start with the big one. Saturday, October 2, 1976. My best friend at the time was Chuck Jones (who I haven’t seen in 40 years. Funny how life does that.) My birthday was October 1st, his was October 3rd. We would both be 21. October 2nd was a Saturday, so it seemed the most logical day to celebrate.

My cousin Don Lacey, Chuck, and I decided to hit every bar in Sharon, Pennsylvania or maybe the Shenango Valley. Now, I’m going to tell you about this night, but I don’t remember all of it.

There were many bars in the valley at the time, and I don’t honestly remember where we started. Now, we weren’t rookies as we both started drinking on a weekly basis at the age of 13. We would go to the bars in Ohio every Saturday and they would serve us, usually, as we used fake ID’s to get in. Sometimes we would just get quarts of beer and ride around, or sit on the side of State Line Road  and listen to Yankees games on WGAR out of Schenectady, New York. Night time was the only time we could hear the games. But I digress.

We thought, rather foolishly, we would stop at every bar and have a shot and a beer. I never cared for alcohol, but beer was always good. Alcohol made me angry (except Rum) and beer made me “happy”.

We immediately realized that after the 5th or 6th bar, we had consumed a lot of alcohol. But there were so many bars left, we trudged on. A couple bars didn’t serve Chuck as it wasn’t officially his 21st birthday, which we thought was petty.  So we moved to the next bar.

It gets a bit fuzzy now, but somewhere along the line, Chuck was getting sick. We pulled off, actually, not too far from where I now live, so he could vomit. Don asked us if we wanted to quit and we said no.

Then, Chuck couldn’t walk. We were in the parking lot, and Don and I carried him. Unfortunately, we dropped him two times, with each time he hit his head on the pavement. We had to explain the excruciating headache he had the next morning to him.

I then was told that our final stop was at the Lube downtown, our usual stomping grounds. I was told that my friend Bill bought me a beer, and as I was talking to him, i apparently put my hand down to the side with the mug in my hand and spilled it on the floor. He said I looked at the mug and said, “Oh, that was quick. Guess I better go.”

And we did.

That was Saturday, October 2, 1976. At the time I thought it was fun.

But today is Saturday, January 28,2017. I think this Saturday was more fun.

I stayed home most of the day and read a book that’s been on my shelf for two years. It’s by Tim Keller called “Jesus The King”. Keller has become one of my favorite authors, and I actually got to meet him.

I helped Bonnie make three different soups for what we call our “Super Soup Sunday”, for church, held the Sunday between the Championship games and the Superbowl. Everyone makes a bunch of soup and desserts and crackers and breads and it’s a blast. Actually, she made the soups, I just cut up onions, carrots, etc. I really enjoyed working in the kitchen with her.

I had to pick something up at Jo Jo and Josh’s house and got to see Haniah. She cracks me up, and I love how she greets me. Enjoyed the visit there and came home. Because we were busy, we got a pizza from Francescos, my favorite quick Italian place.

I had ginger ale. No beer. No alcohol. Ginger ale.

I am so thankful that I no longer have to drink like that to have fun. I don’t have to get drunk to get away from my problems. I don’t have to get high, try to pick up a girl, or get into a fight for my entertainment. Jesus Christ took that desire from me. There is no other way I could stop drinking. It was Christ.

When my dad was my age, he was still a heavy drinker. He didn’t have Christ. Thankfully, I do.

Sitting at my computer, am I missing anything out there that would benefit my life? Nah, I’m good right here. I tell people that what I have, I could never give up. My life is very, very, good. Besides, I have church in the morning.

I don’t need a vacation. My life is a vacation, and it’s all because of Christ Jesus.

 

 

Bucket List
December 12, 2016

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It’s funny but recently people have been posting on Facebook and even talking at work about having a “Bucket List”. It intrigued me as I thought about it because I realized I don’t have a bucket list. I used to have a bucket list when I felt certain things were important, but realize now that they’re not that important. It’s not that I “don’t have” a bucket list now, but rather I “don’t need or want” a bucket list.

I look at my life and think, “what do I want to do or where do I want to go before I kick the bucket”? The answer is nothing and nowhere.

I guess that makes me an odd kind of creature, but in analyzing it all, its because of a couple things. First,  I think that the Apostle Paul had it right when he said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”. (Phil. 4:11). I feel good about that. I guess I’m content.

Second, whatever God has planned for me is ok with me, either plenty or lack. The things I really want to do and go to are whatever God has planned for me to do or go to. It’s all in the Lord’s hands. See, because the things I want to see and places I want to go are all up to what God wants of me.  Let me explain.

I want to see Benny married. I want to see my grandchildren. All of them. I want to dance at their weddings. I want to help them with their homework. Have them call me when their mommy or daddy is “mean” to them. I want to see them at their prom. I want to take them to McDonald’s, take them fishing, see the Yankees or Browns play, walk with them at Buhl Park.

I want to play in the snow with them. Walk on the beach with them,  whether it’s Lake Erie or Maui. Lay in the grass with them at night and count all the stars and tell them that God has given all of them a name. I want to teach them that their really is a heaven and Jesus is the only way to get there, and when “Bapa” is gone, they will be with me there.

I want to teach them about God. His faithfulness and His purpose He has for their lives. I want to teach them to honor their parents, be a good sport when they lose, be a graceful winner when they win. Teach them that there is nothing more important than following God, finding out about Him, studying His Word,

I want to teach them about purity, that celibacy isn’t just a good idea, but it’s following God’s laws. Teach them that the teachings of this world about right and wrong most likely don’t line up with the Word of God. Teach them that their secular teachers and professors aren’t as smart as they think. Show them about respecting and loving spouses, fighting through tough times, and enjoying the good times.

I want to teach them that alcohol doesn’t make you braver and drugs don’t make you cooler. Swearing doesn’t make you distinguished, smoking is a stupid habit, and faithfulness is all that God asks of us.

I want to explain to them that Bob Dylan is a literary genius and he was the best songwriter of their grandfather’s lifetime, that the Beatles are the best band ever, and that it’s ok to be different.

See if this is a bucket list, then this bucket list isn’t about going or doing, but it’s about being. I want to live. A quiet, peaceful, life that causes no harm to anyone. I want to positively impact my grandchildren’s lives.

I watched “Elf” with all my kids and their spouses and my grandchildren tonight. I don’t think I could ask for anything more than that. I’m perfectly content with my life and in need of nothing.

Although seeing a World Series game with Ben in Yankee Stadium would be pretty cool.

273.6/257.3

Thanks For The Memories
March 24, 2016

192,585 miles.

Bought in 2005, my Dodge Caravan finally had to be taken down. It was a great van, bought it new and probably is the only car I bought new and paid off during my married years. A lot of family history was in that van. It was more like a covered truck than a van.

It had 192,585 miles on it. It had the original motor and original transmission. And it’s a Dodge, so you know how amazing this van was. We had the van checked at 40,000 miles and they told us that this transmission will be lucky to go another 40,000 miles. They were wrong. Way wrong.

“Blue Thunder” moved my eldest boy Luke to and from Allegheny College. Actually, I think all our trips were in that van. We’d take the seats out and fill it up. In fact Bonnie’s “Allegheny Mom” sticker was still on it.

The van also moved my daughter Jojo to and from Kent State University. Again, take out the seats and load it up.

The van brought me home from Pittsburgh after my back operation. Lying down on the middle seat with my brother Bob trying to avoid all the potholes on the way home. This is Pennsylvania, remember, land of taxes and potholes (but not necessarily in that order).

The van was part of the funeral procession for Bonnie’s mom, Nadine.

The van took us to and from church every Sunday. Drove us to Parkside Church to hear Alistair Begg preach, or go to the Pastor’s Conferences.

It drove us to North Carolina.

It drove us to the airport on numerous occasions for flights to California.

It drove us to Buhl Park so Bonnie and I could take our walks.

It took us to concerts, Browns games, Yankee games, and Cavs games. It took us to see the Scrappers play, as well as kid’s softball, soccer, and baseball games.

It caused Bonnie to be very angry at me because she got pulled over by the police because the registration had expired. I think she is over this, however, it’s mentioned annually, sort of like a holiday.

The kids needed furniture moved. Blue Thunder to the rescue.

The kids needed to borrow it for whatever reason. It was always there. But, like a human body, it began to break down. The body was eaten away by the salt from the 11 winters of western Pennsylvania. The window on the driver’s side didn’t work. The latch to the hood was broken, the air conditioner didn’t work, it needed an exhaust system, the horn didn’t work, and the material on the ceiling was starting to sag with age. (I said, just like a human body).

Finally, today, the decision was made to put the old girl down. So much history, and although I don’t get attached to material things, it’s kind of sad to me.

Not even for all the times I used it and the stories mentioned above, but it was a part of me. Not like a human or a pet, but I loved having the windows down and blaring Dylan out the window. I didn’t need or want a fancy car because I’m not a fancy guy. I just wanted something reliable and faithful. And it was each of those.

So Blue Thunder, thanks for all the great times. Thanks for all the times we counted on you and you didn’t let us down.

Dang, thanks for all the memories.

I hope my Honda does just as well.

I, Me, Mine
March 10, 2016

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I’m self evaluating. Not sure why now, not sure what brought this on, but that’s what I’m doing now.

I find myself questioning my motives on all things lately. Why do I share certain things with others? Is it for their approval/disapproval? Why do I do the things I do? To please myself, others, God, none of the above?

Why do I put expectations on myself but not on other people? Do I feel I have to “be” a certain way or “act” a certain way? So bear with me while I figure this out.

As a pastor, who loves Jesus, I find that my behaviors and actions are at times more that I “like” Jesus more than love Him. I have attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, etc., that certainly wouldn’t be pleasing to Him. I feel shame with some of this, but as I evaluate, do I really feel shame or is it that I’m “supposed” to feel shame?

Do I write these blogs to get noticed, or do I write them for me? Do I have a need to be noticed, and if so, why? Am I that self absorbed?

I’m remarkably flawed, and it astounds me that God would ever want to use me in the pulpit. I tell Him, “You are one desperate Deity”. But yet He does. And He never lets go. Subtle changes have taken place, and other changes are yet to come, so let’s just put it out there. This is me.

I love Bob Dylan ( I have 35 of his CDs and have seen him twice in concert) and the Beatles. I find that the music moves me. There’s a show that is called “House of Cards”. It’s not a nice show, it’s a political show that I would not recommend to other Christians, but I like it very much. I am a very strong New York Yankee fan, I’m passionate about them and the Cleveland Browns. Win or lose, they are just a part of me. I get angry when they lose. But, as I’ve aged, the anger leaves quickly.

I’m a conservative Independent from a liberal democrat family. I will probably vote for Donald Trump. Everyone says if you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t vote for him. I don’t care, I probably will because I like the changes he wants to make. He’s vulgar, verbally abusive and can be mean. I’m not voting for his bedside manner.

I remember when my daughter had to go to a specialist and the doctor was very mean and ill mannered. I didn’t care because I hired her for her expertise, not her chumminess.

I loved my mother deeply and liked my dad. I get angry I see my dad in other people but I get madder when I see my dad in me.

Did I mention I love Bob Dylan?

I think our current president is one of the most ungodly presidents ever put in the White House. Then I remember that the Lord puts rulers in their places, and sometimes gives the people what they want.

I have a wickedly sometimes warped sense of humor. Morbid at times, inappropriate at times, but I always go for the laugh. I’m told I’m not supposed to. I’m working on it. But obviously, not very hard. I’m 60, not sure how much longer it’s going to take.

I’m greatly overweight, or I’m undersized, depending how you look at it. If I was 6′ 8″, I’d be the perfect weight. I’m undisciplined in my eating, but I do enjoy my walking to 199. I love it. I’m bald, and I am so ok with it. People think I shouldn’t be, but I am. And as I’ve gotten older, I care less and less about what people think of me. Although I care deeply what my wife and children think, and more so for my grandchildren.

But, I love all people. Christian, atheist, whatever. I love people who like the Pittsburgh Steelers (even though for the life of me I can’t figure out why they do). I love people who love the Boston Red Sox, although I believe a mental disorder is present. I realize if it wasn’t for Christ, I would not be very likable.

I love my church people, but some I love more than others. I’m like that with a lot of people. People tell me “I love them in Christ” but they don’t like them. My response is that if you love them in Christ then you’ll die for them. Outside of my wife, kids, and grandchildren, there aren’t many I’d die for.

I think I am a very good preacher, not by my doing, but by God’s. I don’t think I’m a very good pastor, however. I can get distracted and be lazy. I can put myself first at times, and that truly bothers me that I can do that.

I don’t want my flaws to be a stumbling block for someone coming to Christ. My political or sports or music views should not cause one to stumble. I wouldn’t want that.

Nobody knows how many prayers I’ve prayed for the Lord to change me more like Him. Struggles with thoughts and actions, confusion about “what is a Christian?” or “how does a Christian act?”. I look through the Scriptures and see David, a murderer, Jacob, a liar, Peter, a denier of Christ. Yet the Lord used them, as He uses me.

So my reflection has taught me this: I am a Christian pastor. I am also a human being sanctified daily.

 

Distractions
February 19, 2016

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I’ve noticed that throughout most of my life, I become easily distracted. Either by a thought, a sight, sound, or even a smell. I feel like a sheep that spots a butterfly and follows it, forgetting totally what I was doing.

Morning prayer doesn’t come easy. My stomach keeps saying, “You need breakfast. You will not be able to focus if you don’t eat. You might even die” I start to write a blog and my phone “dings”, telling me that either the Yankees made a move or that someone likes my picture on Instagram. I have to check it out because, after all, I AM that important.

I read in my office, and hear the TV downstairs. “Is that Seinfeld? I don’t think I’ve seen that episode. Wow, Kramer is funny. Did I see that show or was that on Monday. Oh, Monday, boy did it snow. Oh, I have to finish shoveling out the front sidewalk.” It goes on and on. Next think I know I put the book down and begin to shovel the snow.

Has this ever happened to you? You start a project, let’s say, patching holes in the wall so you can paint. I go downstairs to get the putty, and notice that the work area is a mess. So, I start to straighten it out and find an empty jar that is perfect for the small nails I have. So I begin to gather the small nails and put them in the jar.

The shelf that I want to put the nails on is covered with sandpaper and paint supplies. I move those to the bottom shelf and see all the extension cords are not tied up together. So, I look for the twine to tie them together and realize that I left it upstairs. Going upstairs I see a couple dirty dishes in the sink, and decide to be a nice fella and put them in the dishwasher.

The dishwasher has clean dishes so I have to put them away. So I put the dishes away, and as I begin to load the dishwasher, I see that we’re out of dishwasher soap. So I head downstairs, and remember that I wanted to get the twine in the junk drawer upstairs. As I get the dishwasher soap, I notice that there are clothes that are dry and need brought upstairs.

I grab the clothes and take them to my office, forgetting the dish soap or even the twine, and put my clothes away, and notice that my one brown dress shoe is missing. I look in the office and can’t find it, but remember I kicked them off in the bedroom and must have brought only one into the office. I go in the bedroom, and notice the dog has messed up the bed. I straighten out the bed and head downstairs, noticing that I need to patch the wall in the stairwell before I can paint it. But it’s late. Maybe tomorrow.

Bonnie asks what I did all day. “Nothing”.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me?

 

Give Peace A Chance
February 12, 2016

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Why is everyone so angry? When I watch TV, they say, “America is angry”. The debates are angry, the moderators are angry, and apparently, the voters are angry. Why so much anger?

When I was a young lad, let’s go back 50 years, it was 1966. We were in the midst of a horrible war in Cambodia and Viet Nam. There were racial tensions, there were gang fights, there were fears. Today the racial tensions are more severe, the gangs are REAL gangs, and there are fears.

Fear of not having a job, fear of ISIS, fear of “the other guy”, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of the unknown. I remember people protesting the war.  JFK was killed, fear of Russia dropping nukes on us. I remember in grade school having “tests” where an air raid siren would go off, and we’d hide under our desks. Fear.

They gave us dog tags in school so that if there was an attack, they would be able to identify us when our bodies were charred like overcooked burgers. Want to talk about PTSD? Fear.

Everyone is angry because they are scared. Those on one side say that the presidential race will determine if we go to socialism which will lead to communism. They say that “those people” don’t like the United States. They made deals with Iran and they will nuke us when they make their atomic bombs.

The other side says we’re in the midst of global warming. Everything will melt, we’ll all die. They say that “those people” hate everyone different than them. They want the rich to succeed and the poor to stay poor. They want you to remain quiet and they hate minorities.

Fear. Nothing divides us more than fear. Nothing makes us angry more than fear.

The 12th of this month (today in some parts of the world) is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. I remember he used to be a hero. We had the day off of school, that and the 22nd for George Washington. They now combine all the presidents into one, this year celebrated on the 15th.

Lincoln used to be a hero. So did Washington. Jefferson. Columbus. Franklin. But because of fear, which produces anger, people start slamming these men, stating they were either murderers, rapists, or slave owners.  There’s a great divide in this country. We have a separation. Just like “those in charge” want it.

Can we decide not to be fearful? Not to be angry? Can we choose to love people? Maybe I’m just an old hippie, but can’t we look past the differences and look for what we all have in common.

My dear friend Rich is my former boss. He’s liberal, I’m conservative. He’s Jewish, I’m Christian. He’s a Steeler fan, I’m a Browns fan. There are only three things we have in common. The Yankees, the Beatles (he saw them at Shea Stadium), and a common respect.

I just talked with him tonight as he lives on the other side of Pennsylvania. He’s a good man with a lovely family. We continue to laugh and love on each other, with a genuine concern for each other and their family. We talked tonight about how great it would be to go on the road together and to maybe bring a little peace into the world. It’s a nice thought.

Are we ready for peace? Are we ready to not get angry? Are we ready to forgive and come to the point where we feel we are owed nothing? If we are, then we are ready to give up fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

How about I start. If you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight, Republican, Democrat, atheist, transgender, male, female, tall, short, skinny, tall, then I choose to love you. We will have differences and that’s ok. But how about we do what John Lennon said. “All we are saying is give peace a chance”.

Old Friends
January 27, 2016

Reflective mood tonight. (Notice how I’m avoiding the weight issue? Yes, astute readers, you are). I was reflecting earlier today and re-reflecting tonight about Old Friends. Probably because of listening to Simon and Garfunkel.

I always thought I’d have boyhood friends forever. Just like the song “Old Friends/Bookends”.

Old friends
Old friends
Sat on their park bench like bookends
A newspaper blowin’ through the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends

Old friends
Winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy.

My buddy growing up, Keith, was my next door neighbor. Heck he was class president and I was vice-president of our class. Actually, before I got into counseling, I worked for him in his construction business. He lives in the area. We speak to each other twice a year. I call him on his birthday and he calls me on mine. Funny how that works.

I had a friend Chuck who I was real close with throughout high school. He introduced me to underage drinking. We went to concerts together, ball games, and drove around a lot just drinking and trying to tune in the New York Yankees on WGAR from Schenectady, NY. (If we found the right place at night, we could listen to the whole game). We spent so much time together. He’s in Chicago or somewhere. I was in his wedding, haven’t seen him or talked to him in over 35 years. Funny how that works.

I lamented not having that, but then realized I have four or five people in my life I would call close friends.

Lon is who I see more than the others. Him and Janet, I’ve known for about 20 years. I actually communicate more with them than with other friends. It’s a beautiful friendship, but it will change as eventually they move to North Carolina. Not soon, but soon enough. Funny how that works. I love him.

Jim has been my friend for 40 years. He lives in Florida. We lived together for awhile there. It seems that when we get together, it was like we were just with each other. We have had more experiences than you can imagine, and as he is a CEO of a non-profit organization, we’ll leave it at that. Concerts, parties, girlfriends, video games. We went through break ups with our girlfriends and more Tony’s pizza than you can shake a stick at. I love him.

Cindi, my cousin, who also lives in Florida. We have experienced so many things growing up, and it was always good to bounce things off her when girls drove me crazy.  I was the same to her. I spent summers at her house when she lived near by. So many stories, and we have verbally agreed not to blackmail each other. I love her.

Johnny, my cousin. He lives near by and we don’t see each other near enough. Nobody made me laugh like him, and my goal has and continues to be, to get him to pee his pants. He’s 60, so it shouldn’t be hard. His mom was like my second mother. He’s a chubber like me, and even now, deep down, though we struggled to lose weight by dieting and exercising together, we both hope the other stays fat. I love him.

Bonnie, my wife. We have been married over 30 years. We’ve known each other closer to 40. She knows everything about me. She is my biggest critic and my biggest fan. When I’m down, she builds me up. When I feel full of myself, she brings me down. She didn’t know me when I was going through my struggles, but has kept me from going back to them. My best friend. I am blessed. I love her.

The song continues:

Old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear

A time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you.

But I can see myself at 70 sitting on a park bench with Bonnie or Jim or Cindi or Johnny. In fact I do that now because it’s actually “terribly strange” to be 60.

“Old Friends/Bookends” by Simon and Garfunkel.

 

 

 

Death of My Heroes
January 22, 2016

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The deaths of Glenn Frey and David Bowie have me remembering about my old heroes. Glenn and David weren’t “heroes”, but definitely “influences”. But I have several heroes whose deaths have affected me greatly.

The first one was on June 5, 1968. I remember it clearly. I was 12 years old, and for the first time was getting involved in politics. I remember watching him give speeches on TV, always was told his brother was a great president, and firmly believed he’d end the Viet Nam war, cause I didn’t want to go be a part of that mess. But when Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Bobby Kennedy, it just shook my world. I barely remembered his brother John getting murdered, and was fully aware of the murder of Martin Luther King on April 4th, and here we are, two months later, and another senseless killing. I like the term “senseless” killing, as if some killings make sense. I realized, at the age of 12, the world was mad. He was 42. And I wanted nothing to do with politics for a very long time.

Oh Captain, my Captain! August 2, 1979 I got a call from my brother-in-law Tom. He said “Did you hear the news”. I said no. He said, “Thurman Munson died in a plane crash”. Now Tom was a die hard Red Sox fan and I’ve been a Yankees fan all my life. I told him, “This is sick if you’re making a joke”. He said, “It’s not a joke. Thurman is dead”. Thurman was a great guy, learned to fly a plane so he could go back and forth to his wife and kids in Cleveland. He should be in the Hall of Fame. I got to meet him after a ball game in Cleveland. I asked if I could shake his hand. He kept walking but his wife talked him into it. I shook his hand. I wish I wouldn’t have let go. He was 32.

I was living in Florida and on Dec. 8, 1980, I was watching a Monday Night Football game, I believe. Howard Cosell comes on with breaking news. John Lennon was shot outside of his apartment in New York City. He was 40. I couldn’t believe it. Of all the Beatles, he wasn’t my favorite (more on that later), but he was THE BEATLES. There would be no reunion. A part of my childhood died. I cried. It reminded me the world was mad.

On July 16, 1981 I heard that singer/songwriter Harry Chapin was killed in a car accident. He was driving his VW with the emergency lights flashing and was hit by a semi truck. The impact killed him instantly, with the police saying the truck driver pulled him out of the burning car. He was a great humanitarian and was on his way to perform a free concert. He was 38. Cats in the cradle with a silver spoon.

August 13, 1995 was when a big part of my childhood died. Mickey Mantle, my first hero, died at the age of 63. Growing up, I became a Yankees fan because of him. My entire house loves the Indians, and my dad said that it was because of Mickey Mantle I became a Yankees fan. Thanks Mick. He had a lot of issues and if he was alive today, they would smear him because of his issues. See, nowadays, you can’t have heroes. Not sure why that is. Through all the injuries, through all the pain, there was something about him that made me want to be a Yankee. I got to see him play, but I’d love to have met him.

On November 29, 2001 the rest of my childhood died. George Harrison died at the age of 58, succumbing to cancer. I was devastated. Of all the Beatles, he was and is my favorite. I had tickets to see him on his solo tour in 1974 in Cleveland at the Richfield Coliseum. A blizzard cancelled the tour, and they never rescheduled it. He influenced me in an almost hypnotic way, to the point I read the Bhagavad Gita. It’s a Hindu book, with a forward by Harrison. I was searching philosophically at the time for the answers. I had a million questions, but the answers were out there somewhere.

Now I talked of Bowie and Frey, but also Chris Farley, John Candy, Peter Sellers, James Cagney, Jim Croce, Leslie Nielsen and others were all influences. Not heroes.

But no day has affected my life like January 19,1984. It was on that day that I realized who my greatest hero was. He died around 33 A.D., and His name is Jesus Christ. Of all my heroes, He was the only one who knew me. He was the only one who knew I existed. He was the only one who lived for me. And He was the only one who died for me. I didn’t have to pay to hear Him sing. I didn’t have to pay to watch Him play ball. And I didn’t have to vote for Him for president, because He is the King of the Universe.

When my other heroes died, I was sad. But when I realized that Christ died for me, it brought tears of happiness. Joy, inexpressible joy. Peace, a peace that goes beyond human understanding.

I may never see my heroes again. I know everyone doesn’t go to heaven. But I know that I will see Jesus Christ, face to face, soon. Because He’s my hero. And He knows me.

 

Bye Bye 2015
January 1, 2016

Well, my “New Years Resolution” is to blog more. See how long that lasts.

Happy New Year to all or any faithful followers. The weight struggle remains real: 260-265 consistently. I imagine that must be where I like to be, because that’s where I be.

It’s been an interesting year. I had gotten off of Facebook because of all the arguing over sports and politics. I have gotten back on because I miss getting updates on what’s going on with my friends. I will, however, not argue sports or politics.  But this has been a good year.

I turned 60, that’s a biggie, and I’ve embraced it fully, and am actually loving getting older. God has blessed me with so much in 2015 and I don’t know where to begin.

Good health, a grandson, Zeke (or Zekers is what I like to call him), Zeke’s dad is buying a house across the street from me, which excites me, Yankees made the playoffs with marginal players and people only about 20 years younger than me, and the Browns are 3-12 with the possibility of being 3-13 after Sunday. I mention the sports teams because I don’t get as upset as I used to.

Example: My boys (Luke, Ben, Josh) and me went to our first game all together. Josh is a Steelers fan, so this was probably just for laughs for him. It was Monday Night Football. And, it was against the Ravens and it was a good game.

Browns line up for a winning field goal and it was blocked and the Ravens ran it back for a winning touchdown. Josh was shocked, Ben just stared into heaven, perhaps asking God why He hates the Browns and the city of Cleveland so much, Luke was mouth wide open. Me? I just laughed. Typical Browns. I’ve  reached that point of life when I don’t worry about stuff like that very much. Very much.

For my 60th, Josh and Jo Jo bought me a ticket to see the University of Michigan play against Rutgers at THE BIG HOUSE! First time there and it was just Josh and me. What a blast.  Michigan won big, but it didn’t matter, the place was fabulous. Loved being there and I discovered that 52 degrees in Ann Arbor, Michigan isn’t quite the same as 52 degrees in Sharon, Pennsylvania. We froze our tails off. But it was a super experience and I want to go again.And besides, how many people can say they got to see both of the Harbaugh brothers coach this year?  Checked off the bucket list. they had a very good season this year. Go Blue!

Things I’ve had too much of this year: Kardashians, Bruce Jenner, Isis, Bill Cosby, “affluenza”, Entertainment Tonight, Hilary Clinton, and biased news shows (left and right).

Things I look forward to in 2016: Closer walk with Christ, losing weight, Yankees winning #28, Michigan beating Ohio State, someone developing a plan to beat Isis, and people loving each other no matter what their color, religion, or sexual choices are. I’ll love you, but don’t try to make me accept your belief if it’s not Biblical.

To everyone: Peace.

 

Cold Turkey
December 1, 2013

Well, I survived Thanksgiving without too much damage. I am 260.2 pounds, up about a pound. I’ll take that.

I was thinking about how my blogs have been infrequent as I think I have a boring life compared to people I know. I don’t travel much, don’t entertain much, and am a pretty average guy. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love my life. At 58, I’m very happy. But I don’t want to blog just to blog. I will try to blog every Saturday night. (Please hold the applause……or the groans). Also, notice the titles are of songs, at least songs I’m old enough to remember. If you aren’t familiar with them, look them up on YouTube.

I’ve found my identity is wrapped up in several things. Being a man, my identity is wrapped up in what I do. People say, “Tell me about you” and I respond, “Well, I’m a preacher”. Well, that’s what I do, but what am I? If we can get our identity, we can defeat this weight thing. I think we continually search for ourselves. Where or who the heck am I?

I’m a member of the Independent party, so am I Independent? I’m a Yankees fan in baseball, and Br owns, and Michigan Wolverine fan in football, but is that who I am? I had to bring up the sports, because sports causes us to lose who we are. When our team wins, we feel like winners. When we lose, we feel like losers. Winning and losing has little to do with who I am. Although, as you can tell by my football teams, I’m glad I’m a Yankees fan. Winning feels better.

We associate with sports teams. We claim “We’re better than your team”. “We won the World Series”. I’ll be honest. I’ve never played a professional sport, thus, I have never received any compensation from the New York Yankees.

I’m a husband, father, and grandfather. Is that who I am? That’s part of me. I’m a son, although my dad’s dead, but still a son to my Father in heaven. I’m a nephew, a cousin, a father-in-law, uncle and great uncle. Is that me? I’m diabetic. Is that my title?

I don’t know. I think we get a perverted view of ourselves, which causes us to fall into bad ways. We see our flaws and failures and either beat ourselves up (and overeat or over drink) or just get angry and cover it with cockiness saying, “Hey, nobody is perfect. Do you see what THAT GUY is doing?”

I find that my self esteem cannot be wrapped up with anything to do with me. I’m told “You’re a nice guy”, but deep down, I know what a rotten fellow I am. I’ve learned not to sugarcoat who I am.

We all have failures. We all make mistakes. We all have “issues”. But it’s who God says I am that matters. Not my wife, my friends, my enemies, my betrayers. It’s what God says.

I’ve noticed that I do much better when I focus on God than on me. I can be such a horrible person with hatred or anger building up inside. Yet, when I come to my senses and repent, He accepts me. Just like I am. Jesus died for me when I was yet a sinner. I must be worth something.

Psalm 139 tells me I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. I never feel fearfully or wonderfully made. But He says I am. My focus has to be on God and who He says I am. I’m worth dying for. How crazy is that?

So I remember this, and find I eat less, exercise more and for the right reason. Not to be accepted by anyone, or even God. But because He has placed a desire in me to succeed. To live a healthy life. To help other people. To be what He made me. To be who I am.

Who am I? I’m Joe and everything that goes along with it. And God is OK with that.