It is About Jesus

Yesterday morning, I realized that I ran out of apples. Maybe it is an autumn-thing, but I tend to fill the fruit bin with the kitchen with enough apples to make an apple orchard-owner smile. Thursday morning? The bin was empty of apples.

My favorite apple? Macintosh. I fell for them when I was younger at the church I grew up in. A family in the church owned an orchard that grew red delicious and Macs. From September through Christmas, all they sold were Macintosh apples. They would bring brown grocery bags filled to the top and sell each bag for five bucks. They were amazing, both the family and the apples.

But Thursday morning, my fruit bin choices included a pear and an orange. Making a mental note that sometime during the day I needed to get to the Farmer’s Market on New Bridge Road to pick up some fruit and vegetables, I picked up the orange and went about on my day.

Late in the afternoon at the Farmer’s Market – not an actual “farmer’s market,” but a fruit and vegetable store – I picked up a small trove of Macintosh apples and stood online (or inline, depending on what word you use to describe checking out of a store – where I’m from, it is ‘online.’ Yonkers, NY – also where sandwiches from delis are ‘wedges,’ not ‘heroes’). The line was long, but I wasn’t going anywhere.

I wanted the apples.

”You’d think they’d put in a 10 items or less line in this place,” said the man standing in front of me as he turned around to face me. He had a few items in his basket.

”Yeah, but then how do you think they’d sell these massive bags of fruit near the checkouts if the lines were short?,” I replied.

He said his name was Jose and he was visiting his mother who lived in Bergenfield. He lives in Queens with his wife and son, but always finds time during the week to come over the two bridges (Triboro/RFK and the GWB) to visit mom and do some shopping for her. Mom apparently is a big fan of plantains (I’m guessing because he had a bunch of them in his basket).

We talked a bit – I told him I was a pastor who lived in New Milford; he said he was a manager of a KFC restaurant; we both are fans of the NYCFC soccer team and the New York Knicks; and we both go to church.

Jose attends a Pentecostal church in Queens, or as he described it, “a couple stops on the F train.” Growing up in the Bronx, his family attended a Roman Catholic Church. After his dad left his mom, she decided to move closer to her sister in New Jersey. By then, Jose was old enough to live on his own. He moved in with his girlfriend who became is wife. College was too expensive, so he went to work to earn money to pay for it.

Only problem was that he loved working. He worked at several fast food places and ended up working at a KFC where he is now the manager. Not that he’s let his dreams of a college business degree die – he’s attending college, mostly at night. His wife is a teacher in the NYC Public Schools.

As he put the plantains and other items from his basket onto the counter, I asked him what attracted him to the Pentecostal church he attends.

”Chicken wings.”

What?

”Every Sunday after church, Rosa in the congregation makes these chicken wings for lunch that are out of this world good.”

”So, you started going to church because of the wings?”

”Yeah. But I stayed for Jesus.”

Since there are so many theological differences between the Catholic Church and Pentecostalism, to me that seemed like a big leap. Jose said it wasn’t about theology or hymns.

“It is about Jesus.”

He attends a storefront church with 200 of his closest friends where they sing praise to Jesus and learn all about him and how Jesus changed their lives. It is not about laws or fancy clothes.

As he said, “It is about Jesus.”

Oh, and apparently the wings.

We both checked out and walked outside. I told him it was great to meet someone with such a strong faith. Jose asked if he could say a prayer because that is what his pastor says people in the church should do when they meet a God-fearing Christian: Stop wherever you are and pray with them. And he did.

I shook his hand and we both went our separate ways…in the name and in the love of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Election Day

Going out to vote is an important civic duty.

All of us should take the time to exercise this duty today.

However …

Yours or my voting has nothing to do with the church.

You can be a conservative, libertarian, progressive, or socialist.

None of it matters in church.

The church only cares that you know Jesus.

And not only that you know Him, but that you also understand His love for everyone.

Jesus doesn’t give us lists of people to vote for or against.

He just wants you to know Him.

To love Him.

To believe in Him.

As we build our new church, one principle that everyone will know is this:

We don’t care who you voted for.

We only care about your soul.

“Have We No Decency”

 

From Mona Charen at The National Review:

Not too long ago, I returned to my parked car and found a sheet of paper on the windshield bearing an expletive-laden message. The anonymous poster had obviously gone to some effort to make these flyers on his home computer — complete with color cartoon figures and such. It let me know what a $#@&*%! I was. My sin was having parked my car a tiny bit over the white line. I confess, I’m guilty. The garage was full of empty spaces, mind you, and it was only a few inches, but still, it was wrong. But did it require that response? If he had to vent his rage, couldn’t he have left a note saying “It’s inconsiderate to park over the white line”? My offense seems to have been merely an excuse. This person, clearly overflowing with hostility to his fellow men, had preprinted these vulgar missives, and delivered them to everyone who offended him.

Is it my imagination or has the tone of the Internet seeped into daily life? People often suggest that Twitter’s cruelty and misanthropy are unique to the format. Announcing that he was deleting Twitter from his phone, Andrew Sullivan advised: “Social media has turned journalism into junk, has promoted addictive addlement in our brains, is wrecking our democracy, and slowly replacing life with pseudo-life.”

Continue reading “Have We No Decency?” Written by Mona Charen at National Review

Favorite TV Show? I Don’t Have One.

Tonight I was dumbfounded when a friend asked me what was my favorite television program. It is not that I don’t watch TV; I do. But I don’t have a program that I would classify as my “favorite.” My television habit has severely curtailed in recent years. It is not that I don’t watch television, but it isn’t that important to me anymore.

Directv NowI subscribe to DirecTV Now, an internet-streaming service. It costs $60 a month. They stream most of our local over-the-air channels, as well as the YES Network, SNY, MLB Network, MSG Networks, Fox News, USA Network, TNT, and a good assortment of entertainment networks (most of which I don’t watch). At $60, it is a much more comfortable cost to watch TV when compared to DirecTV’s (satellite) regular $130 a month charge. DirecTV Now doesn’t have a DVR, but with on demand, I guess I can say I don’t want to pay for a DVR.

Overall, I watch more sports than I do anything else. For instance, as I type this, the MLB Network is on showing the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. St. Louis Cardinals game. Right before, the New Jersey Devils’ game was on. And now as I type that previous sentence, that game is back on with the locals leading the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The last TV show I watched was NCIS: New Orleans (watched it on demand via the CBS All Access app). This morning, I watched parts of CBS 2 local news, Fox News’ morning program, including the last ten minutes of their 5 AM show, and some infomercial promoting the My Pillow Topper. At around 6:40 AM, I turned the TV off. And 14 hours later, I turned it on to watch the Devils, New York Rangers, Nashville Predators game in Washington DC against the Capitals, and baseball on the MLB Network.

I like dramas more than comedies. Documentaries score high on my list.

But a favorite show? I don’t have one. The last television show that I considered my favorite? 24 on Fox. Before that, The X-Files, also on Fox.

And I like to read, mostly mysteries and thrillers outside of religious-themed books. I like the Kindle more than the iPad to read, but actually holding books have come back into fashion with me. Listening to books is OK, but not great – listening to them makes me tired, especially religious-based books.

I like reading newspapers – on my iPad. The New York Post, the New York Times (the subscription is part of a deal that ends in May), the Wall Street Journal (also part of subscription deal) are part of my morning newspaper routine. The Bergen Record, our local newspapers, is delivered, but at $38 a month, it is very costly and is really not worth the monthly price.

Apple MusicI listen to the radio. Apple Music and iHeart Radio and Radio.com and Sirius XM, all streamed from my phone to Apple’s HomePod, though Apple Music’s integration is perfect with HomePod and the others is a little clunkier. I like the playlists on Apple Music and their “radio stations” have gotten extremely good recently. Favorite music genres? Country, Christian Contemporary, Chill (especially piano), and some modern pop.

And look at that – the Devils beat the Maple Leafs and are heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Though a Rangers and Predators’ fan, I’m happy for the Devils.

Common-sense Ten Commandments

If we pray the Ten Commandments each night before going to bed, then we’d see their actual importance for our lives. When we recognize our failures in each of the commands of God to the Israelites, we see ourselves as sinners who are not only are in need of forgiveness, but also of guidance to be better people.

In this morning’s Your View section of the Editorial page, a writer from Paramus states that as we enter the New Year, we all pray and hope that the world will become a better place. I don’t think many people say to themselves, “You know, I want this new year to be miserable for everyone.” Most of us do hope that the coming year is better for us as individuals, but also for others.

We all want our hopes to overcome the sadness.

The letter writer gets it.

The Ten Commandments are an authoritative guide to our everyday behavior.

In my sermons recently, I’ve preached on the importance of living one’s faith, expressing the love of God in words and deeds. See, the center of the Christian heart is on the confession of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and what it means for us individually. When we confess God in words and deeds, we are saying something about what God has done for us – saving us from the eternity away from Him and creating in us a new person each day where we love God above all things and love one another without condition.

The Ten Commandments stress these points out clearly. In the first three commandments, we are shown the importance of putting God above everything, of respecting and loving HIm like He has loved us, of receiving Him and responding to His love as we worship Him. When God is at the center of our lives, we are different. We hold onto God’s grace and love and mercy and announce it to others. No matter our lots in life, we trust God through everything.

The remaining commandments show us the same point of the first three: We are to love and respect all people. Of course, the hard part is doing it because there are way too many people who get on our nerves. God wants us to be His agents of love and mercy and grace in this world. The specific commandments show us how we are kind and merciful and gracious and loving to others.

As the letter writer wrote, the world would be a better place if we all tried to follow the commandments.

Police Chaplaincy – No Religious Training Required.

NOTE: This is NOT a political post.

The New York Post today published a story about a donor of New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio named Jona Rechnitz who admitted that he donated money to the mayor to gain political access.

Rechnitz and his buddies donated lots of money to many politicians to have an inside track to attain political favors. Honestly, not surprising since that is why big money people donate lots of money to politicians. They don’t give without expecting something in return.

One of the said receivers of Rechnitz’ financial heft was Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino who is seeking re-election this fall. According to the Post, “Rechnitz donated $15,000 to Astorino’s political war chest and once chipped in up to $8,000 to buy him a Rolex watch, he said.”

But it was the following that really caught my eye:

(Astorino) Helped Rechnitz and his pal Jeremy Reichberg become chaplains for the Westchester County Police Department, despite the fact that they were not clergymen, Rechnitz claimed.

Huh?

Politicians do weird things, at times, but giving a chaplaincy to people who weren’t clergy? It kind of defeats the purpose of having a chaplain, doesn’t it?