Friday, December 28, 2012

If You Had To, Could You?

The young lady was from India and now presiding at Leeham University. She sat across the table from my coworker and I, and told a story of her involvement in missions. A story that began with her going against the dreams and expectations of her loving father. His dream for her was one with prosperity being the first priority: one that consisted of her becoming an engineer or a doctor; someone who just made alot of money.

She spoke in front of the congregation of her church one Sunday, a message of her desire to go into missions and the desire to attend the Urbana Mission Conference. This young lady had her father in attendance, his first time in church, as she also chose to go against the culture and religion of her family.

She told of how throughout her message she would glance through the audience as any good public speaker would, but began to feel ashamed when her father refused to look at her. The humility in her voice as she spoke of the sudden feeling of failure she felt through the eyes of her father kind of got to me.

Throughout her message she spoke of her passion for missions and her desire to make a difference. And then it happened. Her message got to her father. This quiet, mild mannered man went beyond his normal behavior and stood up and spoke the words his daughter had longed to hear. He exclaimed that he was proud of his daughter. Then, throughout the congregation, gentleman after gentleman began to stand and exclaim that they would sponsor her, not only for her to attend Urbana Mission Conference, but for her ministerial calling.

This young lady's message also made an impact on her church, as they began to go outside of their box  to be more evangelical in their community.

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you lived in a different country, grew up in a different family, or followed a different culture?

Who would you be or who do you think you would turn out to be?

 Would you be the same person you are today or somebody different?

And, knowing today who you are in Christ (if you follow Christ), could you go against your family's desires and expectations for you and follow Christ at all costs?

Something to ponder.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Nativity Story: My Review

Of all the films depicting Christ's birth, The Nativity Story is my favorite. Why? Because it is one of the few that concentrates not just on the birth of Jesus, but the faith and courage that Mary and Joseph had to have to carry out the task that they were chosen for.

First we are presented with the thoughts and emotions dealt by Mary when visited by the angel Gabriel who tells Mary:

"Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus."

And when the angel explains to Mary that when the Holy Spirit comes upon her she will be barren with child, naturally Mary, who has yet to be with Joseph in marriage, asks,

"How will anyone believe me? How will they understand?"

Now Mary's feeling at that moment had to be one of fear: a fear of being stoned for being pregnant before marriage, a fear of what her family might think, and especially a fear of what Joseph might think.

The angel also informs Mary that her relative Elizabeth, who is very old in age, is barren with child.

So when Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, she sees that the Word from the Lord is indeed true, and Mary herself receives a renewed confidence in God. Upon Mary's return home and visibly pregnant, her family wasn't so cordial. And neither was Joseph.

As for Joseph, the Bible says he was a just man: a man who was upright, blameless, and righteous. So Joseph's natural instinct when seeing Mary with child had to be one of anger and disappointment:

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. (in other words possibly hide her somewhere and not wishing to be betrothed to Mary anymore)

So we see Joseph lying in bed that night in a state of confusion and filled with anger and possibly thinking "How could she betray me?"

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying " Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take  Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

So far we've gathered the notion that God has chosen Mary and Joseph to be together for a reason: He knew that He could trust them to carry out His will. Mary, a highly favored woman of God, and Joseph, a just man.

At that time King Herod makes an unruly demand: each man, with his family, must return to his place of birth for a census. Which meant Joseph and Mary had to travel close to 70 miles on a donkey over rugged, rocky terrain from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where the baby Jesus would be born in a stable.

As we follow their journey to Bethlehem, it's hard not to imagine the struggle they both had to endure. Shortage of food and water, Mary barren with child and probably in much pain physically throughout the trip, the blisters upon Joseph's feet as he most likely walked the whole duration. And of course, the faith and determination Mary and Joseph carried out to fulfill the prophecy that was made many years ago.

After the birth of Jesus, some shepherds tending their flocks are confronted by an angel declaring that Christ the Son of God has been born and then a multitude of angels appear proclaiming,

"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

The shepherds travel to Bethlehem to see their new King then:

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things and pondered (consider deepily) them in her heart.

Mary had the right idea, keeping close to her heart the name of Jesus.

So, who is this High Priest we are celebrating today?

But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always loves to make intercession (to fall in with, to meet with in order to converse) for them.

God is unchangeable and loves to intercede on your behalf. May you keep Him close to your heart, not just at Christmastime, but all year around.

(texts are taken from Mathew 1, Luke 2, and Hebrews 7)    Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas): My Review

Aside from the various stories that tell  the real meaning of Christmas; the birth of Christ, there is probably no other more important and powerful Christmas film than Joyeux Noel. If you don't mind a foreign film with sub titles, this is definitely a must see movie for this holiday season.

This film is about the World War 1 truce on Christmas Eve 1914, depicted through the eyes of French, Scottish, and German soldiers along the Western Front. The one fact that you come to grip with throughout this film is that: we are all one people. It doesn't matter which side you are on, what religion you are, nor what race you are, we are all one people. And through each of these soldiers we see:

1. They share the same emotions of war and the battle to survive.

2. They carry with them the desire of wanting to be home for Christmas.

3. They all have someone back home that they so desperately love and want to be with.

4. They all share that same dream, one of peace.

On one of the battle fields on the Western front on Christmas Eve we see: the French in their trenches preparing to celebrate Christmas with champagne, the Scottish playing Christmas carols with their bagpipes, and the Germans in their trenches with Christmas trees and the voice of one Nikolaus Sprink, the famous German Tenor. Now mind you, each side is still cautious of a surprise attack from one another.

Once the sound of the bagpipes in the cold, desolate air begins, emotions begin to swirl amongst all three sides. The German Tenor grabs a Christmas tree and gallantly makes his way to the center of the battlefield singing Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

The leaders of the French, Scottish, and German infantry boldly come out and agree on a cease-fire for the evening. All three platoons would then acquaint themselves with one another and share: chocolate, champagne, photos of wives, girlfriends and family, and stories of their past.

At the stroke of midnight a British priest delivers a brief mass in which all the troops respond in unison and are deeply moved.

"Tonight, these men were drawn to that altar like it was a fire in the middle of winter. Even those who aren't devout came to warm themselves. Maybe just to be together. Maybe to forget the war."
 Palmer, the British priest would later exclaim.

And so, one night of peace drew all men together.

On Christmas Day these men who were once enemies do the unthinkable; shelter each other during an artillery barrage. The leaders then decide to go their separate ways with their respective regiments.

The Germans are scolded by the Crown Prince of Prussia and are shipped by train to the Eastern front to fight the Russians. As the train departs, they start singing a Scottish carol they learned from their enemies whom they befriended: I'm Dreaming of Home.

May we all continue to pray for: peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Charlie Brown Christmas: My Review

Each year this Christmas classic gains a new and larger audience, in fact the increase of viewership each season is in the millions. It is still the top rated Christmas television show viewed and for good reason, here's my review:

"I think there is something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel.

I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents, sending Christmas cards, and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."

This timeless classic from 1965 carries us through Charlie Brown's plight in finding happiness at Christmastime. After spilling his guts out to Linus about being unhappy, Charlie makes a trip to Lucy's famous "Psychiatric Help 5 Cents" stand. Lucy begins her examination of this depressed boy:

"Are you afraid of responsibility? If so, then you have hypengyophobia."

"Are you afraid of cats? If so, then you have ailurophasia."

"Are you afraid of staircases? If so, then you have climacaphobia."

"Do you think you have Pantophobia?"
"What's that?" Charlie Brown asks.

"A fear of everything."

"That's it!" exclaims Charlie Brown.

Lucy then offers up the suggestion of Charlie Brown directing the school play for Christmas, hoping his involvement in something will make him happy. Charlie accepts.

Along the way though, the commercialization of Christmas brings Charlie Brown back down:

1. Snoopy decorates his doghouse and enters it in a neighborhood lights and display contest.

2. Charlie Brown's sister asks for his help in writing a letter to Santa. Sally asks Santa to just send money, preferably tens and twenties.

"All I want is what's coming to me. All I want is my fair share!" she exclaims.

3. The cast members of the school play all seem self absorbed, not wanting to cooperate.

Charlie Brown decides what the school play really needs is a Christmas tree. He and Linus set out to find a tree, one that really stands out. Charlie Brown chooses the smallest, the frailest, and the most unimaginable tree you could think of. His thinking is all the tree needs is some tender loving care. And of course, he becomes the laughingstock of the cast.

"Can't I do anything right?" Charlie beleaguers to himself.

"I guess I really don't know what Christmas is all about.

Doesn't anyone know what Christmas is all about?" he shouts out.

Linus approaches center stage and gives the story of the real meaning of Christmas:

...And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

"That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown." Linus exclaims.

Unfortunately there will be more Charlie Browns out there this holiday season than in seasons past. So today is the perfect time to spread that good news, the real meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas in Connecticut: My Movie Review

Before Christmas Vacation, Home Alone and all of the other Christmas comedy films, here is my review on the one that started it all, Christmas in Connecticut:

"Everyone makes fun of Elizabeth Lane. Oh, she's so smart, knows all the answers, get's herself in a mess and doesn't have the moral courage to get herself out of it!" --Elizabeth Lane, mocking herself

The 1945 classic Christmas in Connecticut was the first to put comic relief into a Christmas movie. Barbara Stanwick plays Elizabeth Lane, a columnist for Smart Housekeeping magazine. She also plays what some folks in today's world would call "a poser".

Everyone that reads her column is under the impression that Ms. Lane is America's greatest cook, housewife, and mother living on a farm in Connecticut. In Ms. Lane's real world it's more like: can't cook, unmarried, and the view from the living room window of her apartment is clothes hanging from a clothes line tied to a chimney stack upon the rooftop.

Ms. Lane's Christmas charade begins when her publisher, who is unaware of her fraudulent cover, asks her to entertain a war hero at her Connecticut farm over the holidays. This soldier has spent 18 days at sea in a lifeboat, and the next 6 weeks in a hospital dreaming of eating the food he's read in Ms. Lane's columns. He also has memorized every little detail about her through the words she has written.

Ms. Lane begins to search for help in order to pull off the charade:

1.Her best friend John Sloan happens to have a Connecticut farm and Elizabeth gives in to his demand of them getting married first, even though she doesn't love him that way.

2. She requests her Uncle Felix, who has his own restaurant, to come along to do the cooking.

3.And as for the baby part, Sloan's housekeeper happens to babysit the neighbor's baby every day.

Game, set and match, right? Nope. Everything goes crazy soon as they get to the farm.
The soldier, Jefferson Jones, shows up 2 hours early, so the wedding that was planned to take place at the farm between Sloan and Ms. Lane never happens.
The publisher also has shown up and expects to eat a delicious meal made by, you guessed it, the great American cook herself.

One of the funnier moments is when Ms. Lane brags about the baby boy before giving him a bath, then when the soldier request's to watch, they both discover the boy is actually a girl instead.

Throughout the whole Christmas charade the truth from every fictional detail that Ms. Lane has written about herself becomes revealed. What's interesting is she continues on with the game even though every part of it is falling apart before her eyes. And of course, she falls in love with the soldier, who declares his love for her no matter what the truth may be.

The questions I now pose to you are:

"Do you consider yourself a Christmas Spirit poser? Are you only joyous at Christmas time because that's the way the world dictates we should be? Or are you in a Christmas Spirit all year around?"
I like to think the Christmas Spirit that we should be carrying with us all year around is the Fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal.5:22,23)

When you ask Jesus into your heart you are a new creation in Christ, and your old life has passed away. Therefore the Fruit of the Spirit, which are the characteristics of your new life in Christ, should be manifested in your life daily and in essence, this makes your walk in the Lord more simpler.

Keep your Christmas Spirit all year around. Don't be a poser!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jingle all the Way: My Movie Review

It's that time of year again and one of my favorite things to blog about: Christmas movies. Here is my review on a relatively obscure Christmas Film called Jingle all the Way:

"Always keep your promises, if you want to keep your friends." ---Turbo Man

It is very rare to see an action packed Christmas film and one that is actually pretty good, but Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers a yuletide knockout in Jingle all the Way.

Arnold plays Howard Langston, a dad who works alot and has trouble fulfilling his promises to his son Jamie. Howard tends to either be late or all together miss his son's karate class and other activities. When he misses Jamie's latest karate competition, Howard loses the trust of his wife and his son. His promises of being there have turned to dust. So Howard decides he has one last chance to make it up to his son and ask's Jamie what he wants for Christmas. His answer: only the hottest Christmas toy ever, the Turbo Man action figure.

Howard sets out on Christmas Eve morning to search for the hot new toy every kid wants. He also finds himself in stiff competition:

1.Competition from Ted, the single-dad neighbor, who thinks he could be a better husband and father to Howard's family.

2. And a duel with a mailman, played by Sinbad, who's searching for the same toy to fulfill his own son's wish.
Before Howard leaves to begin his great quest, Jamie ask's his father if he'll be home in time for them to go to the Holiday Parade. And of course, Howard's famous last words were, "I promise!"

Howard's adventure starts out with the discovery that Turbo Man is such a hot Christmas toy that it's sold out in almost every store. Howard and the manic depressive mailman duke it out on several occassions when receiving tips on where to get one:

1. Mall of America has a minimum supply of the toy and has a lottery drawing. Howard and the postman vie for the same lottery ball which bounces away from them and is retrieved by a little girl. Howard chases her down only to get beat up by a large number of angry moms.

2. A store front Santa and his elf lead Howard to a warehouse full of toys, promising him a Turbo Man for only $300. Turns out the Turbo Man is a Spanish speaking model and all of the Santa's there are con-men, then the Swat team comes charging in.

3.Howard and the mailman make a mad dash down the street to a radio station where a contest is being held for a Turbo Man. They find out all the winner gets is a gift certificate for a free one, whenever they are back on store shelves.

Howard finally gives up and retreats back to his home. He remembers Ted commenting that he had a Turbo Man sitting under his Christmas tree for his son. Howard decides to steal it, he not only gets caught red handed, but gets chased through the house by a live reindeer.

With his wife and son disappointed, they leave ahead of Howard for the Holiday Parade. When Howard wonders off to the parade, he gets mistaken for the man who is to play Turbo Man in the parade. He is rushed into costume and into the parade. Howard becomes Turbo Man, and in turn becomes his son and wife's hero.

What I love about this movie is the determination by the father to fulfill his son's Christmas wish. And he was willing to go to great lengths to accomplish his promise to his son.

In a somewhat similar fashion, we also have a Heavenly Father who desires to fulfill His promises and give us good gifts. In fact, there are over 800 promises in His Word.

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11)

May our gracious Heavenly Father fulfill your desires this Christmas and in the upcoming New Year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Like This!

1. A local Chicagoland man who owns a restoration company, went back home to New Jersey to lend a helping hand to Hurricane Sandy victims. During his stay there he thought he would try his luck with a lottery scratch off ticket. To his dismay he won
$100,000.  Some of his winnings he is donating to his church and to help a family in need.

Giving to others has it's rewards, and in some cases those rewards are not necessarily a financial gain but something even more valuable:

2. A local Chicago radio station has started a Friday campaign called Make A Drive-Thru Difference Day. A campaign where you go through a fast food drive-thru and pay for the order of the car behind you. You also leave a card with the cashier to give to the one you just blessed. On the card along with a message of blessing is the phone number to the radio station. Almost all of the calls that have come into the station are from people who were struggling:

One woman had lost her husband a month before on that same day and was struggling emotionally. She came away feeling blessed as her spirits were lifted up. Just knowing that there are generous people out there who still care made a difference.

Another woman called to say she was just coming from the hospital visiting her sick child, and was blessed beyond measure.
She felt loved!

When you give out of love, expecting nothing in return, that love that you have shown to others is always rewarded.
As we approach the holidays be aware of your surroundings and those around you. There are too many people struggling and hurting for us to ignore.

 Blessing others has it's rewards. Don't do it hastily expecting a reward, just do it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Family Matters 2

Imagine your sitting at a football game with 80,000 other fans. Your name gets called on the PA system and the 80,000 other fans flinch and become silent in fear, as some begin to stare you down. This happens to Elaine and her boyfriend in one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, as she is dating someone who shares the same name as serial killer Joel Rifkin. Elaine goes to great lengths to get him to choose a new name.

"Hello, my name is Gerry Sandusky. That's Gerry with a G."

Unfotunately this is how Gerry Sandusky has to introduce himself when doing radio play-by-play for the Baltimore Ravens, and when he steps out to do public speaking affairs. Though he only shares the same name and is no way related to the former Penn State coach who was recently outed as a child sex offender, Gerry still gets the abuse wherever he goes whether it's at the airport or on his
twitter account.

When asked about whether or not he considered changing his name, his reply was simple:

"The name Sandusky honors my late parents."

In last week's post I wrote about carrying on the legacy of your name. A few days later I thought about this and asked myself,

"What if you came from a broken home and your  parents did not set a worthy example for you or society?"

My answer was a simple one:

"Create a new legacy with your name."

Mark Twain once said, "Actions speak louder than words but not nearly as often."

May your actions reflect the character of your name sake. Live a legacy. Create a legacy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Family Matters

There are two different kinds of family matters: one where your family plays an important role in your life, and then another where you have to call 911 on your own siblings for harassment, which would then be called a  family issue.

When it comes to athletes, it's their increase in wealth which can either bring a family closer together or tear them apart. In the NBA there are basketball superstars such as Derek Rose and Kevin Garnett who grew up in the projects of Chicago, succeeded, and used their wealth to get their families out of the crime ridden neighborhoods. To them, family matters. And for Rose in particular, his family has actually grown closer together, which speaks volumes about the standards his mom has set before them as a family.

To NFL football player Tyron Smith, his family mattered to him until they took advantage of his high profile salary, gorged him out of
$1 million dollars, and harassed him for even more money to where he had to get the police involved.

You can tell alot about an individual's upbringing by how they present themselves to their friends, co-workers, and those they meet out on the streets. I remember hearing about how Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, after signing a huge contract, went to the movies one day and nonchalantly grabbed a homeless guy from outside the theater to join him.

The way we present ourselves out in the public is not only a reflection of who we are as a person, but it represents our family name.

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield once joked,

"I looked up my family tree and found out I was the sap!"

Even if you felt like you were the sap within your family, do your family proud, wear your name proud.
Character means everything.

to be continued

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Like This!

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy went to....a Rottweiler??  Yes, that's right. A little piglet was abandoned from her mom; the runt of a litter of 13 in a countryside Welsh community. But fear not. This little piglet was taken in by a Rottweiler who had just given birth to 8 puppies a week earlier, as the mom's motherly instinct took over and saved this little pink fella.

Thanks to the San Diego Reader for providing this great story and wonderful pic!

I think this proves that anything is possible.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not by Sight

New York Yankee outfielder Ibanez stepped up to the plate and hit a tying solo shot to right-center with one out in the ninth off baseball's best closer, than hit another home run in the 12th inning to win a playoff game against the Baltimore Orioles a couple of weeks ago.

This unique feat reminded me of a Cubs game my dad took my brother and I to back in 1984 against the St. Louis Cardinals. A game still considered as one of the many historic games in Cubs history because of the unique feat accomplished by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg: 2 home runs, 7 RBI's, and was 5-6 in hits for the game. The Cubs were battling from behind the whole entire game. Sandberg would hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. In the bottom half of the 10th inning, trailing by 2 runs, Sandberg would tie the game again with a two-run homer. The Cubs went on to win the game in 11 innings.

It is with great displeasure for me to be reminded of this game because we did not get to see the unique finish. To explain why we missed the outcome I would first have to describe who my dad is when it comes to Chicago sports teams. He always was a skeptic when it came to either the lovable losing Chicago Cubs or the Chicago Bears (Chicago sport fans can relate to this). Although my father and I watched sports together, we never saw eye to eye on our teams, thus the reason for the childhood paper route so I could purchase my own television set to watch my own games.

So,  being the skeptic my dad was and being at a Cubs game where they had to keep coming back from large deficits, you could see how we missed this fantastic finish. And if your a Chicagoan and familiar with the lack of parking at Wrigley (I think we had to park 3 miles away), hence my father's reasoning for leaving before the bottom of the ninth heroics, and the tenth inning heroics, and the eleventh inning heroics...okay, I can't take this anymore!!

This momentary lack of faith in a sports moment reminded me of a scripture verse:

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

There are countless numbers of scripture on walking by faith and not by sight, nor seeing things for the way they really are in the natural and just moving by faith.  A momentary lapse of faith is okay if it is just that, a momentary lapse, and if  we can quickly right the ship and go back to what God says about our situation, than our faith can be reignited.

If we can mix in God's Word on faith and the immortal words of  Yogi Berra, "It ain't over till it's over." than all is not lost.

Yes, even in sports we need faith.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Like This!

Hilliard was a father to children, a grandfather to: grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, and yes, even
great-great-great grandchildren. Hilliard passed away last week at the age of 98. His drivers license was just renewed for the 21st time just prior to his passing, which proves how amazingly sharp he was for his age.

And though he was 98 years old, Hilliard looked and was perceived by many as being a sharp 78 year old who had it all together.
He drove his Model T to car shows and was still able to fully maintain mechanically his prized possession.

I spent a couple of quality hours with this man just two years ago. I learned much about history, loving thy neighbor, and the importance of family that for him expanded over many generations. It was probably the most profound 2 hour conversation I may have ever had. Hilliard would spend time each day crocheting everything from towels to baby bibs to pot holders. As he crocheted me a towel, which I now use as at Art Fairs to clean my picture frames, Hilliard spoke of a time when our country was united. A time that many considered to be the greatest generation, the 1940's.

The Greatest Generation is also the title of a book about this unique period in our country's history written by Tom Brokaw. The book is filled with stories and interviews from those who lived within this era. During and after the depression folks of all ages,race, denominations and political parties remained united despite the living conditions that faced them. Everyone worked together to build a better America.

Though Hilliard was 96 at the time of our conversation, he spoke eloquently with much wisdom of an era he was proud to say he lived and grew within. He was a proud to be an American.

I hope all Americans will find themselves a Hilliard to speak to, it will change your life.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Moments From Here to Eternity

Your toes are sifting through the white sand as you lie on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii sipping a Mai Tai or an ice tea.Your feet are sore from hiking the plush green, rolling hills of Ireland. You burn with a great suntan as you bike around Coronado Island in San Diego. You sit within a cool evening breeze as you watch fireworks beyond the backdrop of a royal castle within Disney World. These magical moments are just some of the dreams we may all envision of doing at some time within our life.

Last week my dream of walking on the field of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium was a dream come true. To stand upon the giant star emblazoned in the middle of the field, and look up at the giant stadium of 92,000 seats was awe inspiring. It was a feeling hard to describe and more than what I was expecting. For me it was like heaven on earth.

This past week my church lost one of it's most prominent elder's who lost his fight to cancer but won a greater reward. Today Elder Alex is experiencing a lifetime moment that hopefully we all envision of seeing at the end of our life here on earth. A moment of being able to sit at the feet of The Almighty Heavenly Father for eternity. A moment like no other.

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." - C.S. Lewis

I like what C.S. Lewis is driving at with this quote:

If we make sitting at the feet of God for eternity our ultimate goal and we live it out here on earth through our worship and praise, and how we live our life for Him, He not only rewards us with eternal life, but fulfills those dreams we may have here on earth.
Which makes choosing to live a life for Him  a win-win situation.

Magical moments from here to eternity makes living for Him worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Like This!

If your an avid sports fan, and have been since childhood, you know doubt have had a sports related dream you've been carrying with you since childhood. I'm a diehard football fan. It plays an important role in my life. Since at a very early age I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan, even though I've lived in Chicago my whole life. Yes I am a Bears fan, too. But my all time favorite is the Cowboys.

 I think it stems down from all those Thanksgiving family dinners at Grandpa's house and setting aside 3 pm each Thanksgiving Day for watching the Dallas Cowboys play. I think another role in this has to be the earlier tradional Thanksgiving game has always been the Detroit Lions, a bad team for many years. (need I say more)

As you read this post I am living out my childhood dream of not only going to the Chicago Bears versus Dallas Cowboys in Texas Stadium, but a tour which includes meeting former players, walking out onto the field, and touring the locker rooms. Doesn't get any better than that!

And thus, one of my childhood dreams has come true.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Local Suburbia Compassion

**Warning, some graphic details in this post**

So, are insects and rodents such as mice and rats considered animals? Or were they just created to be food for other animals? We know that bees are an important part of pollination. And we know that bats, who I consider a flying rodent, are important as they can eat up to 300 mosquito's per minute. But what about mice? And are they worthy of some sort of compassion?

One very early morning this past week I awoke to the sound of small squeaking coming from a mouse, who naturally made it's way into the house and thus inside a glue trap. In the middle of my sleep I didn't think much of it, until it was actually time for me to wake up. So when I arose from my slumber and still heard a faint squeak, I went to retrieve the little rodent. I brought the trap outside hoping maybe I could somehow let him escape from the clutches of the glue. Nope, didn't work. So by then I knew what I had to do to put it out of it's misery. (I'll spare you the graphic details on this one)

This little escapade reminded me of a life changing event that occurred when I was 15 years old. I was traveling down a local suburb road one day with my grandfather, we were on our way to his house to paint. The road was light on traffic on this particular hot summer day, as we traveled with the car windows down and a slight breeze in the air. A perfect summer day I thought, and then it happened!

Our destination was halted as we saw a small black and white kitten lying injured in the middle of the road, you could see it squirm as it squealed in pain. It appeared to have been hit by a car as the visibility of blood was present.  And not just blood, but some of the inside guts of the kitten were visible. All of this was not visible to the naked eye from a distance, so needless to say it was because my grandfather had pulled off to the side of the road that we viewed this poor kitten in this condition. As I stood there with a squeamish look on my face, my grandfather nonchalantly picked up the kitten and brought it to the side of the road. Mind you, my grandfather never gave it a second thought about getting his hands bloody when he brought it to the side of the road. That was his nature.. to just do it.

My grandfather then went to open up the trunk of his car to retrieve a rubber mallet. My eyes lifted way out of my eye sockets at the thought of what he was about to do next to that kitten. But he did it ever so gently though.

As we drove away, my grandfather explained to me why he did what he did. He explained to me the importance of grace, compassion, and mercy, and how to administer it to not just humans, but to all of God's creation. And then, as any other preacher would, he reminded me of the first and greatest example of mercy and compassion; that of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

One of the greatest events of my childhood I will never forget.

Lesson learned, Gramps. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Absolutely Like This!

1. When you think of Trader Joe's you think of: friendly service, good and healthy food, low costs,happy environment. And now you can add compassionate to their trade mark environment.

Some friends from my church recently had their family cat pass away. A few days later the mom went to Trader Joe's to return the unused,unopened cat food. One of the employees went to talk to the manager and came back with a bouquet of flowers and an apologetic hug for the mom.

2.  A woman in Florida returned home from the Chik-Fil-A drive-thru to find her order was wrong. She called the restaurant to complain. The manager took down her address and drove to her house with the correct order.

Businesses that go the extra mile for their customers, and some literally for that matter, are what we need more of in America.

3. My Youth Pastor recently commented on a day where he went to retrieve his young daughter from her room to take her to school. He found her on her knees praying!

This is probably the most humbling parental experience one will ever face with their children.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1200 Words Per Minute

Imagine being able to speak and think up to 1200 words per minute. No need to imagine, because this really happens to most individuals according to a new doctors study. Actually, their study discovered this:

The average individual has 1200 self talk thoughts per minute. And unfortunately, only about 100 of those words are positive.

Now match that with this recent Lifeway Research study:

Most churchgoers do not read or study the Bible on a daily basis. Only 19 percent of those surveyed said they read their Bible daily.

Upon hearing about both of these studies, of course I put two and two together and began to wonder:

How many of us who call ourselves Christians actually carry only 100 positive self talk words per minute out of those whopping 1200 words?
And if we do, is it because of what the second study suggests, only choosing to read our Bible when it conveniently fits into our schedule?

Sometimes our mind can play tricks on us, we will over analyze a situation we may be going through or over think things. Our thought patterns can wreck havoc with our lives. If we could only get ourselves in a routine of not magnifying those small things, but look straight to the Word of God and what He says about the situation we may be facing. And yes, no matter how big we think our situation may be, our God is greater. The Lord even instructs us on how we should conduct our thought process:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

God doesn't want our minds to be distracted for it carries us far away from Him. He wants us to think positive and not dwell on the negative. In other words, He just wants us to trust Him and seek Him out in every choice we make and every decision that has to be made.
So when God instructs us to think about things that are: true,right,pure,lovely and admirable, He is saying to think about Him.
Think about His promises.

In all things remember His Word is His will for your life. Remind your Heavenly Father:

Remember your promise to me;
it is my only hope. - Psalm 119:49

Then humble yourself to your Heavenly Father:

Your promise revives me;
it comforts me in all my troubles.   - Psalm 119:50

Out of those 1200 self talk thoughts you have per minute think of  God for who He really is, Your Heavenly Father.

Then embrace Him for He truly loves and cares for you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Vision of Grace

When you think of a swan you normally associate them with grace and beauty as you admire their pure white coat of feathers and graceful presence. But, in this photo, do you see grace? This swan has it's pure silky coat and carries with it the presence of grace despite the large bump on it's beak.

I love this picture because this swan still symbolizes grace even though we may not perceive it by how it looks. This also reminds me of a piece of scripture of how God was instructing Samuel not to judge others by appearance:

"But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.
For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
 (1 Samuel 16:7)

Don't be intimated by how other people perceive you, it's what's on the inside that matters most.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Another a day, another fight
It always feels like an uphill climb
Another step, another mile the story of your life
It's harder than you ever thought
And it cost you everything you got
When your back's against the wall and you feel like giving up


This is only a mountain, you don't have to find your way around it
Tell it to move, it'll move
Tell it to fall, it'll fall

Jason Castro from American Idol fame, came out with this catchy little tune called Only A Mountain.  Even if you just listen to it once, the chorus will literally be stuck in your head for days. And that's a good thing because the song is derived from a scripture verse we sometimes are reluctant to put into action:

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Mathew 17:20)

So why is it that we are reluctant to use our faith and speak boldly to those mountains that are in front of us?
 Jesus has already reminded us to:

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides. (Ephesians 6:10)

When we draw near to Him we are strengthened to a greater ability and have already been given authority in His name to declare to that mountain (situation) that is before us to move. But we must by faith acknowledge that we have that power within us:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (Ephesians 3:20)

I recently did a word search through scripture on boldness and speaking with boldness and found several verses. It's sad that we forget to exercise this in our own life:

In the day when I cried out, You answered me. And made me bold with strength in my soul. (Psalm 138:3)

,in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. (Ephesians 3:12)

Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech. (2Corinthians 3:12)

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Mathew 17:20)

Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word. (Acts 4:29)

 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. (2 Cor. 7:4)

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb.4:16)

So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb.13:6)

,and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
(Philippians 1:14)

If you find yourself with a mountain in front of you that looks unmovable, no need to find your way around it; exercise your faith and tell it to move, then watch it move.

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Mathew 19:26)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Like This!

Your sitting in the waiting room at the dentist office, staring at the fish tank that is supposed to deter you away from the fear of sitting in the dentist chair. The sound of drilling fills the air along with the occasional groan, grunt or, "Ouch!"
It is very rare that you get a feel good story from the dentist, unless you come away with no cavities, than it's an emphatic,"Yes!"
But here's a great story:

While at the dentist the other day, the same dentist I've had for 5 years now, I learned that my dentist does not charge Priests for their dental work if they have no dental insurance. And even if they do have some sort of insurance, whatever that insurance does not cover, my dentist still doesn't charge them.

 My dentist is also a great humanitarian, he and a group of dentists go to Haiti each year and provide free dental service to the people there. On one occasion my dentist said he pulled 800 teeth in one week there.

Five years ago I had a cracked tooth which led me to this dentist which is close to my job. I barely got in there because he was not accepting new patients. He is a popular dentist and I can see why. When you go there for your dental checkup your immediate impression is that everyone working there enjoys being together; kind of like family. And they express that love towards their patients making sure that they are not in any pain no matter what the procedure. They go leaps and bounds in making sure you are pain free and comfortable on your visit.

I love the fact that my dentist recognizes and doesn't take for granted the amount of success and business he draws. He understands and is grateful for his success and in return goes out to perform humanitarian acts with his skills.

Yes, I love my dentist!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Forgiveness: Sports vs. Reality

Why is it when it comes to sports that forgiveness becomes much easier than when it comes to life in general?
Perhaps it's because of one word: winning. If a player from your favorite team's arch rival ends up on your team and gives your team a better chance to win, than it happens: all is forgiven. Such a sad world we live in.

1. When Dennis Rodman was with the Detroit Pistons basketball team he was considered a bad boy because he did all the dirty work such as knocking opposing players around. He was disliked by many including his team's top rival Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, as they knocked the Bulls out of the playoffs two years in a row. So, years later when Dennis Rodman came over to the Chicago Bulls to play and help them win three more championships, all his past bullying versus the Bulls was forgiven by both players and fans.

2. First baseman Bill Buckner was famous for booting an easy ground ball that cost the Boston Red Sox a World Series Championship. The fans held a grudge against him for years, Buckner even received death threats. It wasn't until a  few years later when the Red Sox finally won a championship that they would forgive Buckner. The following  season the Red Sox invited Buckner back to throw out the first pitch and declare it Bill Buckner Day. Some fans held up banners to say they forgave him. Umm, he didn't do anything wrong in the first place! All he did was boot a ground ball in a baseball game. It was Bill Buckner who should be forgiving the fans for what they did to him and to his family with their bad sportsmanship behavior. I mean come on, death threats?
 Buckner did forgive them during a press conference after the game.

 Mathew West's latest single called Forgiveness describes the hardness of saying and acting upon that one simple word in "real life":

It's the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don't deserve

It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just to real
It takes everything you have just to say the word...


Mathew West's song was written after crossing paths with a woman named Renee who lost her 20 year old daughter to a drunk driver. Renee had a lot of anger toward the man, and rightfully so, but it was affecting her healing process.

Help me now to do the impossible

It wasn't until Renee visited the driver, Eric, in prison and forgave him that she was able to experience true freedom from the anger she harnessed inside. Not only that, but Renee asked the judge to release Eric early, so that he could join her speaking around the country on the dangers of drunk driving.

I love how Mathew West finishes his song describing how the prisoner is being set free, and that prisoner is us in our unwillingness to forgive others:

It'll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it's power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you


Until we truly learn to do the impossible and forgive others, we will never feel set free.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I Like This!

Just recently a woman was struck by lightning. When the paramedics arrived they had to resuscitate her back to life. After she came to, she told the paramedics that she was fine, but they insisted that they had to take her to the hospital for precautionary measures. She asked them that they take her to the church first; this after hearing how the paramedics had to resuscitate her back to life. They would not budge on that notion.

After  some tests were taken at the hospital and everything checked out normal and fine, the woman got her husband to take her to the church. Today, the only health issue stemming from her being struck by lightening was a bad back.

I love this woman's first response after being brought back to life of wanting to go to the church first. She was obviously eternally grateful of being given a second chance at life; and her first initial response was to acknowledge and thank God

And I believe if the same thing happened to me, I would be spending quite a few days in church thanking God for giving me a second chance too.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Psalm 139, A New Song

It's 5:10 am. It's dark outside. Just outside my window is a cardinal who starts to sing. He does this each and every morning, even when it's raining. In other words: he loves to sing,period.

I will sing a new song cause You love me,
I will sing a new song cause You care,
I will sing a new song cause Your there

Psalm 139- by Mercy Me

After hearing this song I couldn't help but grab my Bible when I could and actually look up Psalm 139 to see what it says. It's a great Psalm of encouragement to get us back into trusting God because He loves us and knows us intimately:

God knows our thoughts.
He is acquainted with our ways.
He knows our life altogether, from beginning to end.
We cannot flee from His presence.
He knew us in our mother's womb.
He saw our substance, being yet unformed.
And He fashioned each of our days before us.

The final 2 verses of Psalm 139 reflects on what we need to humbly come before Him and ask:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me, and know my anxieties;

 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Just like the birds who choose to sing a new song each and every morning whether it's nice outside or raining; we need to do the same.
Once we can get it into our sometimes "thick heads" that God loves us, cares for us, knows what we are going through and is always there for us, singing a new song every morning shouldn't be so hard.

It's just a matter of choice and trust.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Like This!

1. After being born to a teenage mother who was encouraged to have an abortion, worship leader Israel Houghton is evidence that God has a plan for all of our lives.

Some of Israel's songs you may sing in church include: Lord You are Good, I am a Friend of God, and I Will Search For You. After hearing his newest single Your Presence is Heaven to Me and reading about his mother choosing to give life, has just added extra meaning and gratification to hearing him sing about the joy of being in the presence of God.

2. With half of the country in a severe drought the Christian music station K-Love requested listeners from all over the country to pray at a specific time for rain. They did this for a few days last week. Then each day listeners called back to say they did actually receive rain. Here in Chicago and several other states we got some much needed storms over a 2 day period.

Staying on the subject of prayer and answered prayer:

One day a couple of weeks ago, during my prayer time I had a sudden urge to pray for my friend Paul from church who had been battling an illness for almost a year now.  Three hours later I got a call from his brother to say he was recovering well from quadruple bypass surgery. I did not know that he was having any heart surgery, let alone at the very exact time I was praying for him.
He is at home recovering nicely now.

God has a plan for each of our lives and prayer does work, we just need to make the right choices and choose to stay connected to God at all times, and not get distracted with the things of this world.

Because Your loving kindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. (at all times) Psalm 63:2-4

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stand Firm

"Elaine, am I crazy? I think Dugan and the others in the office don't like me."

"Well, you might want to think about moving your arms a little when you walk."


"Swing your arms around like this, so you're not lurching like a caveman."


"Jerry, the woman walks around the office like she's carrying invisible suitcases!"


This Seinfeld episode came to mind the other day as I took notice of someone walking down the street as if they were carrying invisible suitcases.  People of all walks of life (sorry about the pun here) have a variety of ways of walking. When I am out on the trails doing my run I notice some folks walking as if they really are carrying invisible suitcases. Then there's some who walk and move their arms as if they are tap dancing.And then we have the speed walkers, the one's who walk fast and swing their arms up and down as if they were a robot. Yes, we all walk differently.

Now, what about how we stand? Some stand with their arms folded in a posture of standing firm; while others will stand with one arm on their hip which can only be described as one who is puzzled or frustrated.

Don't you hate it sometimes when you are going through a difficulty and someone comes up to you with this word of encouragement, "Stand firm." It makes you kind of want to pop them one,doesn't it?

I think the more encouraging words to say would be, "Hey, I am praying for you. I will intercede in prayer for you every day until this passes. Be encouraged. Stand strong."

By coincidence, medical researchers this past week came out to say that standing can be healthy for you.

It can also be healthy spiritually when you stand firm; your faith grows the most when you go through a trial, so it is important where you plant your feet and how you stand.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm."

Some wise words to live by.

If your going through a struggle stand firm on the promises of God and know that this too shall pass.
What better place to plant your feet then on solid ground.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lesson Learned

It's 8:10 am on a Saturday, the day after an evening rain. The sun is out, not a cloud in the sky, not a breeze in sight, and it's already a sticky 83 degrees as the heat begins to increase with each passing moment. I am on my usual Saturday morning workout, hoping to squeeze in my 6- mile run before it really gets hot.

I've hydrated myself with water and Gatorade for two days, but nevertheless the hot humid air was getting to me. But 4 separate times within my run a breeze came by and the trees shook a refreshing rain upon me. Each time I found myself stopping in the midst of my run and stood there with my arms raised out as the rainwater fell gracefully upon me. It was not only breathtaking, but refreshing and it was totally unexpected.

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?"  (Mathew 6 :25,26)

It's ironic that this passage of scripture came to me when I was being refreshed when I needed it and didn't ask for it. Because the last two weeks of extreme heat we were facing and with no rain, I took it upon myself to leave a dish of water out for the birds, both at home and at work.(lots of trees and birds in both places) And those water dishes needed refilling everyday as I noticed the birds taking great delight in drinking and bathing in the cool, refreshing water.
 For myself being a nature buff and a nature photographer, this is the first time I could ever remember doing this during a heatwave drought. Perhaps it was because I seem to be more intuned with the God lately, and more intune to His creation like never before.

It is good to be synchronized with God and not have to worry about things, for the Lord knows what we have need of and He always provides.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Rock on Sunday, A Pebble on Monday

A big, heavy rock stays in one spot. It doesn't move. It get's rained on, sleet on, snowed on, and dog's take a leak on it. And it still doesn't move.

The Apostle Paul set a great example for us on how to be a rock: he faced many trials and tribulations that brought him to tears, but he was strong enough to exclaim,

"None of these things move me."  (see Acts 20:17-27)

Sometimes the struggles we Christians face is of our own doing and the obstacle is always with our faith.  I always seem to run into people who go to church and have been Christians for many years, yet struggle with faith. They've never climbed from the
believing in God (accept as truth) stage to the trust in God (having a firm foundation) stage.

Why is it that we can feel like a rock on Sunday, and when Monday comes we feel like a pebble?  It's okay to have a momentary lapse of faith, as long you quickly realize and correct that mistake on faith. But if you continuously feel like a rock on Sunday and then a pebble on Monday, then there are 4 contributing factors that may be occurring for this to happen:

1. You are not getting fed the Word of God properly in your church.

2. You are getting fed the Word of God properly at your church, but lack in applying it to your life.

3. You are not seeking God out as you should, putting away your own desires to draw closer to Him.
     This is what gets you from the believing in God stage to the trusting in God stage.

4. You have no joy in the Lord. Which means you are lacking in high praise to the One who made you, the One you call Father.

Don't you think it's a waste of time to continuously seek out God, yet not carry out a faith that trust's Him for every concern of your life?

My Pastor often challenges us and asks: "Are you a Christian soldier or a spiritual sissy?"

God wants us to be strong men and women of His Word. But we need to apply His Word and promises to our life daily, trust in Him, and be able to declare, "None of these things move me!"

Those mountains in your life are obstacles that can be moved. You just need stronger faith.

Now you might be saying, "Sure this may sound easy, but you have no idea what I am going through and what I am facing."
In most trials I can say, "Been there, done that. I've faced many battles, my faith was tested many times, it wasn't easy, but my faith grew through the struggles. I am no different than you.

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me
"Son, stop fighting a fight that's already been won"

I am redeemed
You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
And wipe away every stain

- Redeemed, by Big Daddy Weave

The lead singer and author who penned this song is referring to a time when he was a prisoner of his own doing, looking at his situations and circumstances in life, and not looking toward the answer. Then God spoke and said, "Stop fighting a fight that's already been won, a fight won over 2,000 years ago. You are redeemed."

A wise preacher once told me, "Pray the answer, not the problem."  There are over 800 promises in the Bible. Once you stop looking at your situation and continuously seek after God in worship and prayer, and apply His Word to every area of your life, you'll find the keys to happiness in Christ and see mountains move on your behalf. You'll no longer feel like a prisoner and will be able to joyfully declare "I am redeemed!"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Like This!

"In third grade, I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade, I stole my uncle Max’s toupee and I glued it on my face when I was Moses in my Hebrew School play. In fifth grade, I knocked my sister Edie down the stairs and I blamed it on the dog…When my mom sent me to the summer camp for fat kids and then they served lunch I went nuts and I pigged out and they kicked me out…But the worst thing I ever done — I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa — and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life." - Chunk, The Goonies film

One of my favorite characters from the kids film The Goonies is Chunk, the overweight youngster that's given all the funny lines. A group of kids are in search of a pirate's treasure with the help of a map they find. In the above scene, Chunk is kidnapped by a family of thieves and is being questioned of everything he knows about them, which is obviously nothing because of his funny answers.

This week I came across an article about a couple of child actors who actually grew up into something more significant in life. By the time most child actors become adults they are found to be in either drug rehab or jail, unfortunately. So it was good to hear about a couple of kids who made something of themselves. Both Jeff Cohen who played Chunk, and Josh Saviano whose better known as the geek Paul Pfeiffer from The Wonder Years are now attorneys. A far cry from Hollywood and all it's glitter.

By now I am sure you've heard the story of the 68 year old bullied bus monitor. A story that made national headlines and for good reason. Some foolish 7th grade boys video taped their bullying of the grandmother and put the tape on You Tube. And the next thing you know:

The whole world knows about it.

The kids now may be suspended for all of the next school year.

And the grandmother, who was a part time bus monitor, can now retire luxuriously; thanks to a website organization who was only seeking donations totaling  a couple of thousand dollars to give this humiliated woman a vacation. So far they have raised over $500,000!!!

Hopefully this dreadful act of school bullying has increased the awareness of it and the damage it can cause.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Songs in the Key of Love

If I sing but don't have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice
A hollow noise

If I give to a needy soul
but don't have love, then who is poor
It seems all the poverty is found in me

King and Country- The Proof of Your Love

Lately I've discovered  many new songs with such strong lyrics to get us back into the simple act of love toward others, something definitely needed in this lost decaying society we call America. Those of us who are believers in Christ know that this is the time to step up to the plate with not only our faith, but expressing the love to others that God asks of us.

Am I proof
That You are who You say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don't know my name
Is there evidence that I've been changed
When they see me, do they see You

Sidewalk Prophets- Live Like That

That's a good question to ask of ourselves: Are we living like God wants us to live? Expressing His love through our words and actions? Do people see Christ in you?

I can't believe what she said...
I can't believe what he did
Don't they know it's wrong?
Don't they know it's wrong?
Maybe there's something missing?
But how could they treat me like this?
It's wearing out my heart
The way they disregard

This is love
This is hate
We all have a choice to make

Oh Father, won't you forgive them
They don't know what they've been doing
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like I am the one losing.

Tenth Avenue North - Losing

God doesn't want us to feel like we are the one's losing. Don't give up hope. Be encouraged. Stand strong. Stay the course. Continue to give grace.

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world
At the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours.

Casting Crowns - Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Let us put away our pointing fingers and exhibit the compassion, love and grace that God asks of us.

It's always good to have new songs within earshot of our busy lives; songs to inspire and remind us of who we should be.

It is also good to be reminded of the importance of worshiping and singing praises to our Heavenly Father not just on Sunday, but every day He gives us new breath.

"The first fight in the Bible was about a worship offering (Gen.4), and to this day, people bicker and disagree about what is genuine worship. No matter how we present our worship, only God knows the true intent of our pursuit of Him. And it is in the authentic pursuit of Him that we find excellence in worship." - Darlene Zschech

May each of us find a new song to sing everyday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Like This!

The family dog had gone missing for a day and a half. They searched every inch of their neighborhood without any success. On the evening of the second night the family found their dog. Where, you might ask?

He was found under a bridge curled up beside an infant child who was left abandoned. I have probably blogged about dogs at least 20 times and for good reason. They are truly one of the greatest creatures God has created.
If your looking for a great story on the faithfulness of dogs, go to my archives and click on August 2011 for a post on the  amazing story of Hachiko.

You are six years old, you have $3.36 in your piggy bank, what are you gonna spend it on?

For a young New York Giants fan named Joseph, that $3.36 in cash was sent to Brandon Jacobs with a letter asking him to stay with the Super Bowl Champions. It was a little too late though, as Jacobs went on to sign with a different team. But it was all for naught! Brandon Jacobs was so touched by the offer from the little guy that he decided to give his biggest little fan a great offer: tickets to the Giants game in September against Jacobs new team, the San Francisco 49'ers, and Brandon will hang out with the kid for a day.
I love it when professional athletes do something great for their real fans.

The horse I'll Have Another was 1 win away from the Triple Crown. The day before the big event that had he won would've been a part of history, was instead retired and put to pasture. He had some minor ligament damage to one of his ankles, even though he did do some practice runs on the track the day before the race. I applaud the owners for looking to the actual health of the horse before looking at the millions of dollars he would have pulled in for them.

Some feel good stories to brighten your day. Hope it worked!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


If you ever leave me baby,
Just leave the morphine at my door.


I was channel surfing on the car radio the other day when I caught these lyrics to a song.  Most songs that we listen to are based on life experiences by the songwriter. Hopefully the author who penned this song was just being humorous with words. It would be unfortunate if he was going through a tough time and resorting to a quick fix.

Toby Mac, the Christian Rap artist, gives us a different alternative when dealing with a setback:

We lose our way
We get back up again
It's never to late to get back up again.

One day you will shine again,
You may be knocked  down
But not out forever.

Just recently an NBA basketball rookie spent $10,000 on $1 lottery tickets for a large Powerball jackpot.


Dude, your in the NBA!  Most kids your age do not get the chance to play professionally, let alone have the chance to make millions of dollars.

This player's simple reply when questioned about spending that much money on lottery tickets,

"It was either that or spend it in the clubs."

(Note to self: all those lottery tickets and he still didn't win.)

I guess donating the money to a charity or giving back to your community would be a little too much to ask.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thank You Eugene Polley

A remote control for the television. A remote control for the stereo. A remote control for the Blue Ray Player and one for the DVD Player. And how about a remote control to find the remote control? Yes we have them all. And our thanks for this all important household device goes to Eugene Polley.

Eugene Polley, not exactly a household name we should remember, is it?  In fact I bet many of us did not know who he was until sadly hearing of his passing this past week. Eugene Polley is best known for inventing the first remote control for Zenith back in 1955.  Eugene died in a Downers Grove, Illinois hospital at the age of 96.

In 47 years as an engineer for Zenith, Eugene Polley has 18 U.S. Patents to his credit. Another important device developed by him: the push-button radio for automobiles, which I think is just as important as the remote control.

Though he was recognized with an Emmy in 1997 for his invention of the remote control, one can't help but wonder:

Did Eugene Polley receive enough financially as the actual inventor of the device or did Zenith reap most of the windfall profits?

Which leads me to another story of the gentleman who in the 1960's created the symbol for the Chicago Bulls. He sold it to the franchise for about $3,000. Today the Chicago Bulls logo is one of the more prestigious and marketable logos in all of sports, raking in more than a billion dollars so far.

Sometimes it's good to take a look at the small foundations that were created by the little people in the world such as Eugene Polley. If it weren't his creative ingenuity, there would be no channel surfing couch potatoes.

"Hey kid, get up and turn the channel for me,will ya?"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Like This!

"We are the makers of dreams, the dreamers of dreams."
   - Willy Wonka

One of my favorite stories is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, where the confectionery artist fulfills the dreams of five lucky children: a full tour of his tightly-guarded candy factory. And one of my favorite scenes in the film? When Augustus Gloop disobeys the rules and drinks from a chocolate river then gets sucked through a pipe and delivered to the Fudge Room. Not such a bad room to be sent to,huh?

The original book was convinced into being made a movie by the director's ten-year old daughter. And ironically the family's "Uncle Dave" was given the job of producer for the original film. Which brings my story into play:

No, I am no big name movie producer nor an actor, just a guy who loves to give to others and fulfill the dreams of those around me; especially those in my own family. Just recently I took my niece  (who is an extremely talented dancer for the half-time shows of her school's basketball team) to her first Chicago Bulls game. She was ecstatic about finally getting to go to a Chicago Bulls game. And nevertheless it was a playoff game, a game the Bulls were expected to lose but ended up winning in dramatic fashion.

My niece's 12 year-old brother, who is my nephew in case you haven't had that first cup of morning coffee yet, has the luxury of being taken to all the Superhero movies that come out at the theater. Our recent outing to see the Avengers movie made about 15 films we have seen together. It is something he enjoys, but it is also more gratifying to myself as well. You see, the enjoyment of giving to others and seeing their appreciation is what brings satisfaction and joy to those who are doing the giving.

After being at a late start Chicago Bulls game, a thrilling game I might add, I arrived home afterwards just in time to get 3 hours of sleep before work. It took me a couple of days to get back to getting my usual amount of sleep. Drinking a lot of coffee to stay awake kept me abuzz for a few days!

On my drive home from work on one of those days God reminded me: "You see, you fulfill dreams of those close to you, now how much more do you think I will do to fulfill your dreams?"

And so at that moment  this Parable came to mind:

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.  (Mathew 7:9-12)

If you take great joy in giving to others, without wanting anything in return, the Lord recognizes your heart. And in return He will reward you:

But this I say, "He which soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall also reap bountifully. (2 Cor. 9:6)

I like the fact that God recognizes and acknowledges our good deeds when they are done with a grateful heart.

Whatever you do, do it with a grateful heart.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Rules According to the Weather

"I like how you consistently live by your rules, Dave." my co-worker exclaimed to me yesterday.
Some of my self-made rules coincide with the weather since I am considered an outdoor person, except for when it comes to sleeping in a tent. Here are some of those rules:

Rule 1.  I can only eat oatmeal and soup during the cold months.

Rule 2. I can only eat salads during the warm months.

Rule 3. I can't watch television or films on DVD or Blue Ray when the weather is nice outside. But I can definitely go to the theater to watch a film! (go figure) I think that last part is because most of the movies worth viewing at the theater always come out during the summer months.

Coincidentally one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes has to do with the weather:

"Why complain about the weather, you can't do anything about it."

My sentiments exactly.  I  may not be able to change the weather, but I sure can change some of my lifestyle habits to adapt to the weather.
That's my rule, and I'm sticking with it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Like This!

This is my 250th blog post!

"Dreams do come true if you really believe. You do the right things in life, good things happen to you."

This coming from Eric Legrand, upon hearing that Pro Football's Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him to a contract. So, what's the big deal you might ask? Eric was paralyzed with a spinal injury in 2010 while playing in a football game for Rutgers University. It was Eric's dream of not only one day playing for a professional team, but to later pursue broadcasting. Eric's former coach at Rutgers is now the new head coach for Tampa Bay. So, after this past NFL Draft a few weeks ago, Eric's former coach thought it would be fitting to sign Eric Legrand, since this would have been the draft that he would have been in had he not been injured. It's a symbolic gesture, no doubt, but one that speaks volumes to a world that's looking for a feel good story amongst all the junk out there.

As for Eric' condition, doctors said he would be a quadriplegic and remain on a ventilator. Boy, were they wrong! Today Eric can: breathe on his own, is able to stand upright with the help of an aid,  and will graduate this fall from Rutgers University. You can follow his updated progress daily on Twitter or just Google his name.

Eric Legrand hopes to walk again someday, and I have a feeling the way things are going for him, that someday will be soon.