Gee, That Went Well
January 23, 2017

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Well here we are, 3 days into the new presidency and the country has gone mad. Wait, the world has gone mad. I’m 61, and I’ve never seen anything like this.

Protestors, which aren’t protestors when they don’t know what they are protesting about, are out on the streets because the democratic process of electing a president was upheld. Let that sink in.

There is nothing wrong in disliking your government. Jesus’ followers hated the government they had. They were under bondage. They were under oppression. They waited for a savior, someone to get them out from all of this. That is what they expected Jesus to do.

They wanted a revolution. Change things, and they were certain Jesus was the one that would change it all. He would restore a government for the Jews where they would rule. But that wasn’t why He came.

He paid taxes. Remember the story where He sent Peter fishing to get a coin from the fish’s mouth to pay? Or how about the time the Pharisees tried to trick Him about paying taxes, and Jesus’ response was “render unto Caesar what is Caesars and render unto God what is God’s”? (Mark 12:17)

Prior to Jesus coming to earth, there were many uprisings that were squelched by the Romans. Many times they tried to overthrow the government. But Jesus and His followers told them otherwise.

Paul said, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,“. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

He didn’t tell them to hold up signs, break windows (if they had windows there), call names, and swear at them. He didn’t say overthrow the government, punch people, assassinate them, or belittle them.

Romans 13:1 Paul says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

So God gives us the leaders we need. Some He uses to bless us and others to punish us. When He blesses us we thank Him, when He punishes us, we repent. The Old Testament is filled with those situations. So basically, when we fight against the government, we are fighting against God.

But people will continue to be people. They will continue to fight and all the things we shouldn’t. And that is where we rise up as a Chosen people to fight back with the best weapons that God has given us.

Pray.

 

 

Changing of the Guard
January 11, 2017

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Well here we go, the changing of the guard.

America changes every 4 or 8 years and we are in for another change for president. Whether you love him or hate him, too bad. He will be president in 10 days. President of the United States.

Such hatred during elections. Name calling, losing friends, losing customers, jobs, all because of differences of opinions and tastes. We need to tolerate other views.

For example, I have many, many friends that are Pittsburgh Steeler fans. Am I still friends with them? Of course. It’s differences.

I wonder, what would happen if we could disagree and be ok with each other? Let the other person have their opinion without dismissing them from our lives, or calling them names. I notice both sides of the political spectrum that each side called each other the same name: Hitler, fascist, stupid, and other things that are very hurtful.

If you’re a Christian I want to remind you of something. If you’re not a Christian, then I want to enlighten you with something.

Romans 13:1- “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Yep, think about it.

Barrack Obama? Yep, placed there by God. Donald Trump? Yep. Placed there by God. So when we argue or name call  the president ( or president-elect), then your argument is really with God. Not that dirty, rotten, so and so that doesn’t agree with you!

Without getting into a discussion or argument, the Bible shows us that He puts people in power to bless or punish a people. So you can look at the president and decide which one it is.

We are a peculiar people, aren’t we? We take things personal and we try to demean people that don’t think like us. They’re uninformed, uneducated, even “deplorables”. And doggone it, we are right! Right?

Look at the crazy world we live in. Just think if we all could live together in peace. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

So as a Christian to other Christians I challenge you. Follow what Paul told the Romans in Chapter 12:14- “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

If all my brothers and sisters in Christ did this, no matter what the response is from those around you, we may not have peace on earth, but we will have peace with God.

Imagine
January 1, 2017

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Well, here we are. In less than three hours on the East Coast of the U.S., it’s goodbye 2016, hello 2017. Oh there’s so much promise in the new year, isn’t there?

We look back and forward at the same time. Look at the past with all its pain and suffering as well as its joys and loves. Look forward to all the hopes and promises that lie ahead.

Face it, it was a good year and a bad year. Family and friends coming together, family and friends having a falling out. Great financial decisions made and poor financial decisions made. Lots of laughter and lots of tears.

Some people say, “I can’t wait until 2016 is over”, as if 2016 had magical powers to create good or evil. We have hope that 2017 will be better, that we’ll be wiser, that fate will be kinder, that there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

It’s a time of resolutions: I’ll lose weight, I’ll exercise more, I’ll be vegetarian, I’ll be kinder, I’ll be whatever. Notice in those, it all comes down to “I”. I want you to look at 2017 in a different way.

How about instead of “I” in us, we focus on “God” in us? We focus more on others instead of ourselves? But we ask for abundance, yet keep it for ourselves. We ask for health for us, but don’t help our weaker or older neighbors. We ask for deliverance, yet look down on others who aren’t delivered.

How about instead of asking God for things, we ask Him to change us? We can look at others that are different and still love them? We can debate without arguing? We can work things out peacefully instead of fighting?

How about we trust God instead of our bank account? Trust God instead of our job? Trust God instead of our wants? This could be an exciting 2017.

The Middle East is exploding. Syria is in shambles. We’ve had the most divisive president and election in the history of the U.S. We are divided in race. We are divided in politics. We are divided in religion. We are divided in class. We are divided in beliefs.

What if, seriously, what if everyone decided that they would be, as St. Francis put it so well, “instruments of peace”? What if we decided to not listen to the negative and find the positive?

I’m not talking about fantasy garbage like John Lennon’s “Imagine”, which states that we’d all get along if there wasn’t religion, governments, property, possessions, and poverty. That won’t happen. Our sin nature, untamed, will never permit that.

I’m talking about the basic biblical teachings of loving the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Just think if everyone followed those rules. We all decide to get along?

Imagine.

 

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Christmas Eve Eve
December 24, 2016

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Well, here we are. As I write this, it is 15 minutes until Christmas Eve, so this is still Christmas Eve Eve. Best time of the year and, if you follow this blog, you know I love living in western Pennsylvania, especially from September first until New Years Day.

It’s just so beautiful, and this year there has been lots of snow, and although it is getting warmer, there will be snow on the ground for tomorrow night, Christmas Eve.

There’s just a special, almost magical feeling on Christmas Eve. There is the thrill of the celebration of the birth of Christ. I know that nobody knows when Jesus was born, but it’s the celebration. It’s the realization that God Himself came to earth, took on human form and becoming 100% man while still being 100% God. Immanuel, God with us.

I love the giving spirit behind this. The anticipation of children. Haniah is 3 1/2, is well aware that Santa is coming but realizing it’s also the birth of Jesus that we celebrate. I have Christian friends that do not celebrate Christmas, and my thoughts are, why wouldn’t we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World?

Church on Christmas Eve is my favorite. All my brothers and sisters in Christ gathered together to worship the King of the world. The music, the companionship, the shaking of hands, hugs, and kisses on cheeks. The realization that this day celebrates the one thing us believers all have in common…..Jesus Christ is Lord.

This time of year I think of the importance of Christ’s birth. I was always amazed as a child that there would be a ceasefire in the Vietnam War during Christmas. Amazing. People trying to kill each other in the name of their governments would stop and take a day or two of peace. All because of Christ Jesus.

People being nicer to each other. But I’ve noticed the election has brought out the worst in people, particularly this season. There is no forgiveness, no tolerance to opposing views, and love is hard to find. People who think differently than others are bigots, racists, stupid, and more.

But that’s where we come in. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Not for peace with each other, but peace with God. We were enemies of God because of our sin and our falling away from God. But when we realize that the One who’s birth we celebrate in two days also is the one who died for our sins, then we find peace with God.

We celebrate that Christ took us, totally not worthy, and made us worthy. No other religion has a God that died for us. No other religion has a Father who sacrificed His own Son. No other religion has grace for our sins.

This Christmas is remarkable. The joy in little one’s eyes as they wait for the day. The joy of giving to loved ones and the joy in giving to those in need. The joy we have in knowing that we will have eternal life with other believers, if truly ourselves, we are believers.

For so long it’s been politically incorrect to say “Merry Christmas”. But there appears to be a renewed Spirit in this land. “Merry Christmas” is welcomed. And in some places, Christ is even welcomed back. He’s always been welcomed in my home. Hopefully, someday, He will be welcomed back to the United States. At least that’s what I pray.

Merry Christmas.

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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.