About Me

My photo
I’m from New York but my driver’s license lists that my address is Ohio. My passport has a number of stamps in it. I’m the youngest of six, yet oldest son. I have a number after my initials, but not my name. I like music. I drink coffee at all times of the day. I am a follower of Jesus. I own my own business. I watch bonus features on DVD’s. For four months each year my wife and I are the same age. “I pledge allegiance to a country without borders, without politicians.” I am an ordained pastor. I’ve eaten raw horse meat. I’m fifteen inches taller than my wife, but I look up to her. I still prefer buying CDs to downloading music. I’m a night owl, who doesn’t mind getting up early. I like to shop, and my wife doesn’t. I like to play games. I moved to another country nine days after my wedding. I sometimes quote random lyrics. I believe in miracles. I prefer desktops to laptops. I like listening to audio books. I listen to hockey games on the internet. I have five sons. I'm living life mid sentence.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lay Your Weapons Down

During a recent sermon at church, God started laying on my heard that I need to resolve some issues that have been left unresolved in the past. Some are with myself, and others involve others.

As I was listening to a new album I bought last week, I came across a song called Weapons. With a title like that, you never know what's in store. But as I listened to the lyrics I couldn't help but keep going back to the sermon I'd heard. The song talks about how bitterness and resentment and anger are all weapons, that wind up hurting oneself more than the people those emotions are aimed at. At one point in the song it says: Things we planted on the worst days of the year/Grew to fingers that rip at the joy/And set our backs against the wall/Lay your weapons down.../There are no enemies in front of you. Later on in the song it says this: Hallelujah, we can finally see/How the bitterness was bruising on our skin/We didn’t notice that grace had run so thin/Till we’re falling apart and the cracks in our hearts let the truth sink in.

It's time for me to stop picking at the scabbed over wounds in my life and stand up and take action. It's time to stop feeling pity for myself, and bitterness towards others and resolve to do what I can to resolve unresolved issues.

Here it goes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

All or Nothing Music Reviews

There are a handful of musical acts that I would say I follow. While my music collection includes hundreds of artists, only a few have earned the classification of anything they put out I'll buy status.

Over the past month and a half two such artists have released albums, and as I typically do with elite artists, I looked up as many album reviews as I could find. One thing I found in common with the review of both of these albums is that no reviewer was willing to say anything negative about either band. Reviewers seemed to be tripping all over themselves and it seemed to be as if they expected to receive compensation for the positive reviews (ala Belkin).

In one sense I agree with much of what the reviewers were saying. However, I believe that giving too many albums 5 stars (think Ebert and Roeper "Two Thumbs Up") makes the rating system--for all intents and purposes--worthless. Five star albums are in many ways similar to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And many reviewers treat 5 stars like Ike Taylor treats once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback is infamous for once saying "you only get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so many times."

So how should reviewers handle ratings of top shelf artists? Should they be allowed to give any album from such an artist the highest rating, or should they rate them on a separate scale? One option that I see would be for the reviewer to state that they are using a so-and-so artist scale (insert artists name here), and then rate the new album by the standard of all of the artists previous work. While Norah Jones' Feels Like Home was a good album, and worthy of recognition, it was no Come Away With Me, and so this is one example of where a separate rating system could come into play. A reviewer could say something like "while the new album can stand its own with anything else that is also being put out by other artists/bands, it falls somewhere between (insert name of the artists greatest record) and (a weaker, although still good album by the artist).

I am probably not alone in my dislike of the review process, but until a new method is thought up, and put into play, I guess I will have to just continue to work my way through reviews--trying to read between the lines to see what the reviewer is really saying.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Finer Things

Digital Surround Sound

8 O'Clock Coffee

Dr. Marten Boots

DSLR Camera

Music Boxes

Grand Father Clocks


DJarum Black

Moleskine journals

quality headphones

Flying first class (especially on international flights)

A coffee grinder at home

A quality cappuccino maker

Rice Krispy Treats

Raw horse meat (think Japan)

A glass of JD

Tempur-Pedic pillows

Quality cigars

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cleaning Off My Boots

At first it was an interest. Then it became a fascination. Over time it became an obsession. What was this obsession, you may ask? Politics. I knew who Rush Limbaugh was before I started high school, and was a ditto head from the time I first heard him. He, along with a few others, was why I wanted to get into radio. And the time I spent in radio capped the obsession phase of my life.

Then something happened in me. It was lyrics from a song, and a message even deeper that started this change in me. The lyrics go like this: I pledge allegiance to a country, without borders, without politicians. The message just about as direct, but more effective: (quoting Jesus) My kingdom is not of this realm.

If you had told me in the past that I'd find myself where I currently do, I wouldn't have believed you. Yet here I am.

This is not a change that I orchestrated. This is something bigger and smaller than I can truly grasp. It's a change of heart. And not just any change of heart, but one that the One who's kingdom of mentioned above brought about in me. Two things that have looped in my mind, since this change of heart started, are that elephant dung and donkey dung are still both dung. And that I, we, they gain nothing if they pass legislation yet leave hearts unchanged.

At the end of the day, the direction I find myself heading is to leave the dirty work to those who give blood and shovel elephant dung, and yet, while remaining in the world, be about my Father's business.

Where this road ends is something I don't know. I'm not the driver, just along for the ride.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Boy After His Daddy's Heart

Words cannot express the joy I've had, so far, being a daddy. My little guy is really developing into a little boy, and in many ways is no longer a baby. He has likes, dislikes, and if you mistake the two he'll be sure to let you know. This week I discovered one of his new likes--music boxes. He's a boy after his daddy's heart.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Writing for Reuel

Recently I started writing down thoughts for my son. Mostly little things, but things that he may be interested in reading some day. In the process of writing I was reminded of some of the little things, like what it felt like to feel him kick for the first time, or seeing how he responded to my voice minutes after his birth. My little guy is eight months old now, and yet it feels like he's already grown so much.

This last weekend my in-laws were out of town, my wife, son and I joined my wife's sister's family at my in-laws house. While the sisters were making dinner in the kitchen, my brother-in-law and myself were watching TV in the living room. Reuel was in the kitchen with his mommy, or at least I thought. As I was watching TV I saw something out of the corner of my eye and looked towards the stairs. Little Ray was crawling up the stairs, and by the time I got over to him he was on the 7th or 8th stair. My little boy is growing to be fearless, and that scares the crap out of me. When I saw him up the stairs my heart felt like it stopped. I could just imagine him falling backwards down the stairs. In one sense it scared me, and in another sense it was so cute to see my little, independent boy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Breather

This weekend I have a few days off of work. The restaurant is closed Saturday-Monday and so my wife and I are planning on catching up on rest and taking care of a few things we've been neglecting. Among other things we are going to clean the house, come up with a budget (since I now have a job), spend a little time with some of my in laws, and did I mention catch up on rest?!?! One thing I'm not looking forward to is giving up caffeine for the weekend. I've been drinking way too much coffee recently (went through 2.5 lbs of coffee beans at home, not counting what I drink away from home--over the past month) and so I'm going to try and let my body adjust to no caffeine for at least the weekend.

I've been thinking about a few things this week, and I came to the conclusion that I'm getting old. The fact that I'm getting old isn't because I'm 30, and turning 31 next month, but instead because my oldest sister is turning 40 this weekend. Forty isn't even that old, but I remember as a young child thinking my parents were really old when they turned 40 (I was 8 at the time). And now my sister is 40. How time flies.

Due to finances, this week we cut back our internet to a slower speed. Time Warner in our area has several different speeds, and so we cut it back to 1.5Mbps from 7Mbps. While the speed is good for downloading stuff, and still good for viewing webpages, I can no longer watch HD content online without it stopping to re-buffer. The higher internet costs $17 more a month.

The Sabres missed the playoffs for the second straight year. I'm bummed.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Forgiveness And My Need For Counseling

My wife and I were talking tonight, and one thing we both have come to the conclusion is that we need to forgive people who have wronged us in the past. As an A.A. mentor would say, admission (or verbalizing it) is half the battle. However, simply saying that we need to forgive those who have wronged us is no where near half the struggle. Some of the people we talked about which we need to forgive have wronged us in ways that hurt deeply, and left emotional scars that have yet to heal. While we both acknowledged that we need to forgive these people, knowing what steps to take next are not so easy to figure out.

In a similar line of thought, I've been wondering for a while if Christian counseling would be a good thing for me. Not always, but sometimes my tendencies are to beat myself up over things in my life, even some that I have no control over. The rhetorical question on my mind right now is if I should pursue finding someone whom I can talk through these things with.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Wanting To Spend Time With Daddy

My son is almost eight months old, and every day he brings new joy into my life. I love watching him discover new things, and grow up before my very eyes.

From time to time when I am somewhere with my son I will call his name, but instead of coming to me he crawls away, or ignores my call. However, today as I was watching Reuel, I called him and he started crawling towards me. At first I thought he wanted me to hold his hands, so he could walk around, but instead he just wanted to be with me. He crawled across the room, and just put up his hands for me to pick him up. When I picked him up he smiled and just sat on my lap. After a bit, he fell asleep in my arms.

From the moment of his birth, Reuel has recognized my voice. At times he doesn't like to hear my voice, when I am trying to keep him from disobeying, but in most instances he enjoys hearing my voice, and when I walk into a room he's in his face lights up.

As I was holding my little "friend of God" today (Reuel is Hebrew for "friend of God") it hit me that I am often like Reuel when it comes to my Heavenly Father. Often times when He calls me I ignore His voice, and continue on doing what I want to do. But at times, when I heed His calling and go to Him, He comforts me and in His care I find true rest.

Reuel often makes me wonder why he ignores my voice, when I truly want what is best for him. I'm not going out of my way to curb his fun, but instead to help him be safe. In a similar way, I need to realize that the limits God places on us aren't to stop us for enjoying life, but rather to mold us into the perfect being He wants us to be.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Calling?

For a couple of years now I've considered going to seminary. I've loved studying theology for years now, and so seminary has lingered in my mind. But, I've never felt "called" into full time occupational ministry, such as the pastorate. Then again, maybe I have been.

Roughly a dozen years ago I heard someone say "If you can do anything other than full time (occupational) ministry, then do it." Their point was if you are fulfilled in life working a regular job, and living out your Christian faith--which we are all called to do--then God isn't truly calling you into occupational ministry. However, looking back, I haven't felt fulfilled in any of the fields of work I've taken on. And my desire to learn more about God, and to study theology has continued to grow. Could this be a way in which God is calling me to something else? Could this be a Psalm 37:4 experience in my life? It just might be.