Winter
February 12, 2017

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This isn’t open to debate. I’m telling you the truth. I love all the seasons as there is beauty in them.

But what I like about western Pennsylvania is the beauty of winter. Although fall is my favorite, I truly love winter next.

There is something about winter that is peaceful. I chose this picture as its a picture I took of a beautiful February sunset over the wide open fields. The calmness and the serenity of the photo is what winter is for me. What comes to your mind when you hear the lyrics “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright”? A beach? Nah, me either. I see a snow covered peaceful field, where shepherds heard the glorious news about our Savior.

People complain that it is too cold. Winter here is cold. But that’s ok, I’m not that much of a sissy that can’t handle some cold. This winter and last has been mild with little snow. I love snow, so it’s a bit of a disappointment to me.

Now I’m not saying I like snow on the roads. Untreated roads are nerve wracking, and troublesome, but if that’s the worst of it, I’ll take it.

I remember living in Florida and missing the cold. I went to the movies, saw “The Shining” (NOT recommending the movie). There was a scene at the hotel where it was surrounded in snow. Made me miss it.

I had a friend that lived down  there and he was from Cleveland. He said he hated the winter and that the cars were dirty, you track snow into the car. I didn’t .

I remember Christmas shopping in Florida, and you’re in the mall and shopping with Christmas music, Santa inside, place all decorated, and you go around the corner, sunshine, people in shorts, step outside and it’s 85 degrees. Not my cup of tea.

I lived in Florida twice, and when I moved back the second time, it recorded the coldest actual temperature in the history of Mercer County. This was 1984. And I remember, thinking out loud, “God, why have you brought me here”. I really felt that He said, “Because I need you here.”

That’s the point. That’s when I really fell in love with winter. Because God placed me here, then this is where I want to be. See, people move because they don’t like the area, and they don’t even ask God if this is where they should go. I asked, and He said so.

They say, “I want to live near the ocean”. “I need to live in the mountains”. “I need to live with no humidity”. “I need to live where the land is flat”. “I need to live where their are lakes and streams”. And they never consult God. I want to live where God has me.

I just realized I moved back here 33 years ago. I have lived a great majority of my life here. God has placed me here because I am needed here. I’ve gotten married, have three great kids, two in-laws that aren’t in-laws to me because I consider them my own, and three grandbabies here. And it gets cold.

I see the little ones bundled up, cute as can be. I see the blessings of being able to have a warm house and car, “winter skin” that I can put on, and, on days like Friday, open up the windows because it’s 60 degrees.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t like other places. Southern California, driving along Pacific Coast Highway, is absolutely gorgeous. No humidity. I like it there, but I like here better. Because this is where God wants me. At least for the past 33 years.

People that say “come to paradise” doesn’t phase me or entice me. “Paradise” for me is doing and being what God wants, when He wants. Before I was a Christian, comfort was what I strived for.

I’ve learned that when we complain about the weather, we are murmuring against God. As Paul said in Philippians, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” How? “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me”.

I’m content here. Small little house, nice little church, great church family, great family, and all four seasons. Solomon, the wisest man ever, says everything is vanity. He had chased after fame, fortune, success, yet was not satisfied because his affections left God and focused on other things.

My focus is God. Wherever He wants to send me, I will go. And if He tells me to stay, I will stay, because there are two things I absolutely know.

  1. There is a God.
  2. I’m not Him.

 

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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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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.

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