RIP-RIG (Rest in Peace – Rise in Glory)

In my duration serving as a Chaplain, I have had the honor to meet many incredible people that I would have never had otherwise, due to officiating weddings, funerals, and such. What comes to my mind in the wake of the recent heartbreaking news of Nabeel Qureshi’s death, is an instance that really touched me over the summer.

During a certain wedding that I officiated years ago, I formed a friendship with at the time a bridesmaid. We stayed in touch over the years sharing with each other’s journeys in life.  I often prayed for her, her family, and especially her dad.  He was in my prayers quite frequently due to some reoccurring health issues.  I never met him in person, but she would often pass along messages back and forth from him and I.  In a strange way, even though I never met him, I felt as if I knew him..

She and I were there for each other all the time. She was there for me offering words of encouragement when my dad passed, and then I had the opportunity to do the same for her when her dad passed in early April.

Compassion is important in friendships. You don’t always have to have an answer for everything; just being there, even as just a shoulder to cry on or even shedding your own tears with someone who is grieving speaks volumes and says more than any words can ever say.

The instance that I am referring to goes deeper than this. It turns out that two months after her dads passing, she was cleaning out and going through a lot of her dad’s items, and she found something rather fascinating…

What she had found was a notebook. What was contained on each page was a hand written prayer.  She immediately contacted me to let me know that her dad prayed for me.

She said that it seemed as though he was praying for everyone, but it was “cute how he labeled me.”

His daughter’s, “minister’s friend – Bill.”

After I told her to hold on to that book, because it was such a beautiful memoir, I began to tear up because I was just so deeply humbled and touched. Prayers are just so important and I was honored that he not only took the time to pray for me, but my name was written by his own hand in his little book of prayers. What he prayed for me exactly, I may never know in this life, but in this life I had the “feeling” of knowing him, but never actually met him, and maybe his prayers had something to do with it?

We all have our little book of prayers. We may not actually write them down, but they are written on our hearts.  Some prayers seem to be never answered and others are answered right away or according to God’s perfect timing.  We have certain people that we pray for only as a onetime occurrence and others we pray for daily.

Nabeel Qureshi is an individual that I prayed for daily and is another example of someone that I never had the honor to meet, but I always had the feeling as if I knew him.

If you are not familiar with Christian Apologetics, then the name Nabeel Qureshi would not mean much to you. It would just be another first and last name you would overlook with no hesitation.

I had first come to know Nabeel in 2014 as a New York Times bestselling author of a book that I had just happen to stumble across at a book store, which I though was by accident.

Wow, was I wrong, because this was no accident!

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus,” was the title of the book and it contained his testimony.  He wrote in great detail about being raised as a devout Muslim in the United States, growing up studying Islamic apologetics (how to defend the Islam faith), and engaging Christians in conversations. How ignorant many of them were, until he had found one discussion with a Christian, they became friends, and began a long, friendly, and powerful debate on the historical claims of Christianity and Islam. The end result was a life changing moment for him and he had no choice, but to accept the truth that Jesus indeed had risen from the dead.

I must have read the book four or five times and still use it as a reference to this day.  He has also written, No God But One—Allah or Jesus?”,   and Answering Jihad,” which are both powerful too.

Nabeel, besides writing books, also had 18 moderated, public debates and in 2015 even debated the world renowned Muslim scholar Shabir Ally. Nabeel has not gained any support from the Muslim community, because Muslims are now leaving the faith and becoming Christians because of his ministry.

I have followed Nabeel and his ministry closely over the years. Though we never met in person, we do have mutual friends on social media.  Besides listening to his debates and reading his books, I really feel like I have gotten to know him over the years through our mutual friends.

Nabeel was just so young, only in his early thirties, had a wife, a young daughter, was part of a thriving ministry, and the future seemed unlimited for this young, intelligent apologist’s future and road that was ahead of him. Unbeknownst to him and the world, no one would have ever thought that his future would be cut short..

In August of 2016, Nabeel was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. It was a shock to him and to all those who loved him.  This is when the Christian community all over the world, as One Body, came together, and began to pray for Nabeel and his family.

Through what seemed to be endless and ongoing treatments for a very long time, on September 8th of 2017 Nabeel revealed to the world on You Tube that doctors had given up on his treatment, have suggested palliative care, and it was time for comfort measures.

 

He then made another You Tube video the following day talking about his level of faith with this heartbreaking news.

Sept 9th

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU9fu-lC3fY

In short, Nabeel goes on to say that he does believe God comes along side us, loves us, and gives us the strength for today. He asks for prayers and then asks people to join him in prayer. Even now with this dire news, he asks for a miracle, knows God is able, and that he will rest in that. He asks the Lord for healing, but if it shouldn’t be God’s will, he trusts Him, and he loves Him anyway.

Nabeel then goes on to state the whole point to his ministry:

To have people come together in peace, love, and the knowledge of truth, this is the legacy he wants to leave behind. This is his hope and purpose.

He then asks for continued prayer for his family, and in his own words:

“Should the worst happen to him. Our God is a God of love.”

Then, just seven short days later on Saturday September 16th 2017, at the young age of just thirty four years old, Nabeel Qureshi died peacefully leaving his wife Michelle and his two year old daughter Ayah Fatima behind.

Many prayed that God would intercede and perform a miracle of healing, and may feel let down that their prayers were unanswered, but rest be assured that the true miracle happened when Nabeel accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and he then had assurance of eternal life.

Other people prayed only to be in line with the “Lord’s will to be done.”

This was the prayer that I prayed.

Like Nabeel, myself, and others who prayed for the “Lords will to be done,” we know that God is able to heal, we rest in that, ask the Lord for healing, but if it shouldn’t be God’s will, we trust Him, and love Him anyway.

We also know that we all have an appointment that we must keep. When we take our final breath we will then “depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

Philippians 1:19-23 – “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.  For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

Nabeel is now benefiting from the promises of God through the Gospel message. There is a lot we can learn from Nabeel’s journey.  He let truth guide him no matter the cost.  What a prime example of a bold and true witness for Jesus!

May we all continue to pray for comfort and the “peace that surpasses all understanding” for his family, friends, and especially his wife Michelle and his two year old daughter Ayah Fatima.

I may not have ever met Nabeel in this life, but I am excited to meet him in the next. I give thanks to God for the inspirational life that Nabeel led even until the end. May his legacy that he wanted to leave behind, to have people come together in peace, love, and the knowledge of truth be fulfilled.

Thank you Nabeel for making a lasting impression on me.

Nabeel Qureshi

April 13, 1983 – September 16, 2017

R.I.P. – R.I.G.

Rest in Peace – Rise in Glory

 

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Important Information About Scams

Merriam-Webster Dictionary/Thesaurus

Scam (noun \ˈskam\)

Definition:

  • a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation
  • deceive, defraud
  • an instance of the use of dishonest methods to acquire something of value

According to Security Supervisor.com

http://www.securitysupervisor.com/security-q-a/online-security/263-what-is-scam

“The term SCAM in the online world has been loosely translated. By definition, a scam is a quick-profit scheme where a person cheats another individual or group out of money by presenting them with false information during a deal or offer.”

Why am I writing a brief article about “scammers” when I should be writing about my wonderful vacation in Cape May that I just got back from?

Great question and I’m glad you asked! 😉

Three important points come to mind:

  • My dad’s death anniversary is next Monday on 9-11, and he was almost scammed via phone call before he died.
  • Someone tried to scam me on Facebook, before I went on vacation.
  • I want to make readers aware how easy it is to be scammed, and to be on the lookout not only for ourselves, but for our children and our unsuspecting elderly loved ones especially on social media.

Before my Dad died, he received a phone call from a “police department” notifying him that his grandson had gotten a DUI. The only way he could be released was that his grandfather send him close to $10,000, keeping it top secret, telling no one, getting the money as soon as possible, and not calling his parents.

Though my dad was involved in law enforcement, notably the D.E.A. (Drug Enforcement Agency), he should have known that he was being “scammed.” Due to his age and health, plus his caring heart, he was not thinking correctly, and was almost scammed.

It really could happen to anybody…

My dad called me and said he needed to take out a lot of money from his account, which could not be done from an ATM. He could not tell me why.

This threw up some red flags and the money from the account he was wanting to get the money from was at my wife’s bank. He had to call her.

After their brief phone conversation, she told him he was being scammed. He had a hard time believing that, but we then got in touch with his grandson and he was not in jail, he was safely at college in Atlanta, Ga.

Though my dad had the right intentions in wanting to help him, he could have been just another victim of this awful scam.

The day before I left to go on vacation, I received an unsuspecting “friend request” on Facebook from someone I did not know. This happens often, and I always go to their home page to see if I have any mutual friends.

In this case, we did not, so it was a really random friend request, especially seeing that this guy Lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Right there and then, I just sensed that something was very strange. So, instead of accepting the friend request, I decided to shoot him a “private message.”

I’ll share below how the conversation went down:

I said:

“I just received a friend request from you, do I know you?”

His response:

“No my frined. I am mr jamal bin ghalaita from UAE”

I am sure that whoever was typing the response meant to type “friend,” so I figured I would play along…

My response:

“If you do not know me, how did you come to my Facebook page? There are a lot of scammers out there friend..”

His response:

“I AM NOT A SCAMMER. I believe it is the wish of God for me to come across you now. I am having an important business discussion I wish to share with you which I believe will interest you, because it is in connection with your last name and you are going to benefit from it.”

This is where anyone in their right mind can tell that the conversation going forward is going to be some type of scam. I decided to play along and continue the conversation. I am sure you will be able to sense my sarcasm…

My response:

“Interesting.. from God? Are you a prophet?”

His response:

“One Late Peter Schnakenberg, a citizen of your country had a fixed deposit with my bank in 2005 for 144 calendar months, valued at US$40,000,000.00 (Forty Million United State Dollars) the due date for this deposit contract was last 22nd of January 2017. Sadly Peter was among the death victims in the May 27 2006 Earthquake disaster in Java, Indonesia that killed over 5,000 people. He was in Indonesia on a business trip and that was how he met his end. My bank management is yet to know about his death, I knew about it because he was my friend and I am his account officer. Peter did not mention any Next of Kin/Heir when the account was opened, and he was not married and no children. Last week my Bank Management requested that Peter should give instructions on what to do about his funds, if to renew the contract. I know this will happen and that is why I have been looking for a means to handle the situation, because if my Bank Directors happens to know that Peter is dead and do not have any Heir, they will take the funds for their personal use, so I don’t want such to happen. That was why when I saw your last name I was happy and I am now seeking your co-operation to present you as Next of Kin/ Heir to the account, since you have the same last name with him and my bank headquarters will release the account to you. There is no risk involved; the transaction will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of law. It is better that we claim the money, than allowing the Bank Directors to take it, they are rich already. I am not a greedy person, so I am suggesting we share the funds equal, 50/50% to both parties, my share will assist me to start my own company which has been my dream. Let me know your mind on this and please do treat this information as TOP SECRET. We shall go over the details once I receive your urgent response strictly through my personal email address: jamalbinghalaita444@gmail.com Regards, Jamal.”

Sounds like this is pretty legit right? Obviously you and I know that this is a scam. Whoever this is wants to now get off of Facebook and continue to communicate through e-mail, probably wanting my bank account information, social security number, etc…

The problem is a child or an elderly person just may fall prey to a scam like this…

So I responded:

“Wow! This is some very interesting information. I will call my attorney and go over this with him at once. May I have your telephone number so he can call you? I will also need the name of the bank Peter had this account with as soon as possible. I did not know Peter personally, but I am sorry for your loss since he was a friend of yours. Thank you for reaching out to me. I will need the bank name he had the account with and a phone number so my attorney can contact you today. Thanks”

As soon as he read the message, I was then blocked, and I could not respond anymore.

Since then, the account on the Facebook page that the message was sent from was changed. Originally, at the time I got these messages, his name was:

Amiable Jamal Bin Ghalaita

According to his “about” section, everything seemed legit:

He worked for a bank called Emirates NBD, and according to Wikipedia it is a legit bank and is one of the largest banking groups in the Middle East in terms of assets!

They have a board of directors and this dude is actually listed as the Chief Executive Officer!

Currently, the Facebook page has been updated.

Amiable Jamal Bin Ghalaita is now a woman with the name:

Amiable Omowunmi Aderonke

And according to “her” “about” section, it has been updated to.

She went to Destiny Academy in Atlanta, Georgia and now lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

There is no longer any information regarding the bank called Emirates NBD.

I was not the only potential victim here, but they stole the identity of a man by the name of Jamal Bin Ghalaita who is probably a well-respected man, and the Chief Executive Officer of the bank Emirates NBD, one of the largest banking groups in the Middle East!

What can you do when something like this happens?

All I could do is report it to Facebook security, which I did.

For your children I highly recommend going over what scams actually are and be aware of what they are doing on social media. See who their friends are and tell them the risks of communicating with people they do not know. Never, under any circumstances, accept a friend request from someone they do not know. I guess this advice can be applied to seniors as well, since many are on Facebook nowadays.

As for our elderly loved ones and elderly scams, aging care.com, gives some great tips:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/prevent-elderly-becoming-scam-victims-138455.htm

  • Get involved with seniors’ financial decisions as much as possible.
  • Never allow your elderly parent to give out (or at least warn them against it) personal banking information, credit card numbers or social security numbers to someone who has called. Popular scams include promising information on new health miracle product, a charitable donation, or confirmation of a sweepstakes.
  • If a salesperson will not provide written information about his or her company–including the company’s name, address and telephone, do business with someone else.
  • If someone calls from a “government agency” requesting money, ask for a certified letter on an official letterhead.
  • Visit the homes of elderly relatives regularly. Ask about phone call they’ve received (con artists tend to develop relationships with their lonely victims and prey on their need for conversation.). And watch for a full mailbox. Large numbers of mailings from promotion companies could indicate that the elderly person is on a “sucker list.”
  • Tell your parent never to hire someone who shows up at their door. If they are told their plumbing needs to be fixed, or the roof needs repaired, the scammer may take money, but never do the work.
  • Tell your parents never to make an “on-the-spot” decision. If the person says you have to take the offer immediately or you will miss the opportunity, it is likely a scam. Legitimate companies do not pressure people to act without taking the time to look into the deal.
  • Avoid investments that promise huge profits with no risk. “High-return” investments are not guaranteed and legitimate companies will tell consumers about possible risks involved.
  • Put the senior’s phone number on the National Do Not Call registry by phoning 1 (888) 382-1222 or visiting http://www.donotcall.gov (this will help to limit phone calls from telemarketers.)

I just highly recommend that you be careful, not just for your safety, but for your loved ones.

Make the right decisions and be aware that there is always a threat out there.

I hope that this information helps!

God bless!

 

 

Happy Birthday Blue Collar Believer

This particular blog was intended to be posted tomorrow, but I have preplanned to begin my week long vacation with my family tomorrow, so I will not be around. We have not been on a family vacation in a long time, and I’ll give you a “hint” on where we are going:

“I was taken by your smile, as we drifted by Sea Isle. My heart was really gone when we reached Avalon.  On the way to ….”

I’m sure I’ll have much to say about the trip upon my return, so stay tuned!

This is a pretty exciting weekend all around. The fans of the boxing and mixed martial arts world are excited to see the highly anticipated Floyd Mayweather (40 years old) vs. Conor McGregor (28 years old) big money fantasy fight tomorrow night August 26th.

I must admit that I am very interested in seeing this fight, because as a younger man, I dabbled in both sports, and also followed them very closely.

This fight will be by traditional boxing rules, but instead of wearing 10 ounce gloves they will be wearing 8 ounce gloves. When mixed martial artists like McGregor compete, they wear MMA or grappling gloves which are much smaller and open-fingered. They are usually around 4–6 ounces, but where McGregor reigns in the UFC they are 4 ounces.  The gloves provide “some” protection, but are designed for the fingers to be available for grappling and maneuvers like clinch fighting and submissions.  McGregor will not have the “luxury” of performing like this, so many people in the betting world think he will lose.

So quickly, here is my prediction, and if it happens the way I said it, remember who said it first! 😉

McGregor is clearly the underdog here, but what a lot of people do not realize is that McGregor is a mixed martial artist and the word “mixed” is the key! Every MMA fighter has to know how to box and they do have excellent trainers, because all fights start on their feet.  McGregor can fight on the ground and on his feet; the fact of the matter is that he is a boxer, has awesome talent with his fists, and he hits hard!

I’m not a betting guy, but I like the odds “against” McGregor, that is why I think he will pull off a huge upset, in a very memorable fashion.

At the sound of the bell in the first round, they both are going to come out swinging, because I think they are both going for a quick knock out! McGregor is going to catch Mayweather by surprise with an unorthodox “Superman punch.” It will be perfectly legal, knock him out, and it will all happen in less than a minute.  It will be so unexpected and Mayweather will not even see it coming!

You might say, “A superman punch in boxing? You are crazy!”

Here is one right here:

Who do you think will win?

We shall soon find out, and either way, I do believe that it will be a very interesting fight.  All I do know about this fight is that whoever actually wins, they are both leaving the arena with ALOT more money, and the public will have less money from purchasing this pay per view. lol

What else is going on Saturday August 26th?

It may not be as exciting as the big money fight, but a year ago tomorrow, “Blue Collar Believer” was officially published by Westbow Press!

I guess in a special kind of way, tomorrow could be like a “birthday” for a book, so I guess I could say, “Happy Birthday Blue Collar Believer!”

I am not sure how accurate this data is, but I read somewhere that supposedly eighty percent of Americans feel that they “could” and “should” write a book. In all honesty, writing a book is not as easy as it seems.

Coming up with a draft containing over 103,000 words with 324 pages was grueling work, and the editing process I had found to be incredibly difficult. All writers feel these effects, especially when some of your favorite ideas have to be cut.

Since I went with a Christian publisher, I had to change a lot of things around. In my rough draft, when I talked about my dad, I kept him and his character as real as he actually was.  He was sometimes vulgar, used profanity, and said a lot of “off the wall things.”  After the first proof read in the editing process, I was told that I had to “tone it down,” and I had to rewrite it, geared towards what my publisher requested, which quite frankly, was a lot of work.

An example of this was in Chapter 4 entitled “Maturing in the Faith.” I was having a conversation with my dad where I was defending the faith, and giving him solid answers to his questions regarding his personal gripes towards Christianity.  He then had enough, didn’t want to hear anymore, and as in the book it now states:

“Look, no more religion talk. I’m done.  Let’s go to the place where they have the good-looking waitresses.”

In the rough draft, I originally wrote what he actually said:

“Look, no more religion talk. I’m done.  Let’s go to the place where they have the waitress I like to flirt with.  You know the one I am talking about with the great big boobs?  Boy, what I would do to her!”

As humorous as it was, and being more importantly “real,” it had to go, as well as a multitude of other things. But who knows, maybe someday I will be able to publish an unedited version of Blue Collar Believer?

I can picture the cover in my mind now…

It would look exactly the same, and the only exception would be for in the lower right hand corner…

There would be the standard image of the black and white warning stating:

PARENTAL ADVISORY EXPLICIT CONTENT

You never know what the future might hold for this book!

But in all seriousness, you must also have thick skin and be able to take criticism and rejection; just because you think what you came up with is “good”, does not mean everyone else will.

Watching a dream come true is a beautiful thing, but the fact of the matter is that the worldly vision of becoming a best seller is an easy trap to fall into. I’m sure there are many people who as soon as their book was first published figured that they would be the next Stephen King, be recognized wherever they go, be involved with book signings left and right, and never have to work again;  but I’m telling you right now that this is VERY RARE. The reality of the situation is that “if” you write a book and “if” you have it published and expect these things, you are going to face VERY difficult odds, with VERY little reward, and you are setting yourself up to fail.

According to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) there are approximately a total 2,200,000 books published per country per year!  These numbers will rapidly increase due to the capability of self-publishing in the upcoming years I would imagine.

That is a lot of books!

In my case, my book is a testimony about becoming a Christian and my life before and after conversion. My book would be considered to fall into the spiritual, religious, and/or Christian genre, so, let’s do the math here and have a reality check in my case…

There are approximately 2.2 billion Christians in the world; and you know what?

Each and every one of them have a testimony too!

What makes my story so special compared to anyone else?

Nothing really, because there are many people out there that have more incredible stories and some that don’t, but one of the differences is that I took the time to write a book and spend the money that I had available at the time, find a publisher that was willing to take a chance, and have it published.

But then what?

This is where it gets very difficult if you are expecting more..

In all seriousness, I am a “nobody” as an author in the “book world” and there are certainly incredible odds to beat if I were to be looking to get rich and be famous with one book that I authored with a goal of becoming a best seller.

The reality of the situation is that the Christian authors who appear to “make it” are the books you see on the “top seller racks” in book stores.

Have you ever noticed a common theme with these books and authors?

Most of them are written by well-known televangelists.

A “televangelist” defined by the Oxford Dictionary is:

“an evangelical preacher who appears regularly on television to promote beliefs and appeal for funds

Most televangelists have hit celebrity status and when they write a book they become a number one best seller in no time.

A lot of them have been known to believe, preach, promote, and write about the prosperity gospel. Prosperity theology centers on the belief that financial blessing and physical well-being are always in the will of God for believers. It also promotes that positive speech and donations will increase material wealth. God will deliver security, prosperity, personal empowerment, and that it is Gods will that He wants people to be “happy.” I have also seen it to be believed that sickness and poverty are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. How is this done? Through donations of money and positive confession.

Obviously I deny this theology as well as all of mainstream evangelicalism does, and view this message as heresy. As this false gospel promotes believers to “use God,” the truth of biblical Christianity is that God uses the believer. The fact of the matter is that this message sells, and why wouldn’t it? It “sounds” great, and people who believe this message are generally very gullible and ignorant.

Now it might appear that I have a personal vendetta against televangelists, but in all honesty I do not. They all, I’m sure have good intentions, do care, more than likely love Jesus, and truly believe that they are preaching and writing about biblical truths. There may even be “some” beneficial truth to parts of their messages, but there must be EXTREME discernment. You must be able to probe through bad theology, heresy, and sometimes lack of common sense.  An immature Christian can easily fall prey to trusting anything that is labeled a “Christian message.”

Televangelists get a lot of exposure and are viewed regularly by millions of people. They make a lot of money and can afford high-end book publicists, get booked with many television interviews, purchase full page ads in newspapers and magazines, run expensive advertising on billboards, pay the fee to have their books placed on front tables at book stores, and so on.  These are privileges that the average author cannot afford to do.

It is a sad reality, but it really does boil down to money.

Some strategies to help sell a book and get exposure include web platform and internet campaigns, which can start at $12,000, e-mail marketing automation starting at $2,000, book launch campaigns consulting starting at $2,000 for a monthly fee, content asset creation starting at $4,000, ongoing services retainer at $1,500 for a monthly fee, because you would need an ongoing basis to implement new strategies for engaging an audience and enhancing your platform, and marketing on social media and the radio can get very pricy as well.

These are just some services that you would need to pay for and there are many more…

Who in their right mind could possibly afford to do all of this?

The authors you see in book stores regularly, like well-known televangelists T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyer just to name a few.

According to the celebrity net worth website:

https://www.celebritynetworth.com/

Joel Osteen’s net worth is $40 Million

T.D. Jake’s net worth is $18 Million

Joyce Meyer’s net worth is $8 Million

Does this mean the majority of Christian authors, including myself, should be regarded as “failures” because we do not have a “best seller?”

Let’s examine the words best seller and failure, before anyone can come to this conclusion. This just might help you in your endeavors if you are thinking of writing a book or have written one and like me, are not “rich”, will never be, and are content with that.

When I meet somebody new, and tell them that I am an author, I am asked frequently,

“How many books have you sold?”

Perhaps you may know this drill if you are an author, have met someone for the first time, and they ask you the same question.

This is a common “stereo typical” question, implying that if you have not sold tens of thousands of copies, then you are not a good author.

A “best seller” would primarily fit into the category of a book being sold in great numbers, especially over a short period of time. Although it would be wonderful to see your book on a best seller list, let me make this crystal clear:

If your book is not on a best seller list, this in NO way, shape, or form, means that you are a bad author, your book stinks, and you are a failure.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary “failure” can mean:

“Lack of success, falling short of one’s goals, or the nonperformance of an assigned or expected action”

So, a lot depends on what YOUR expected goal is.

Simply put, is your goal realistic?

Like it or not, failure happens every day and all throughout life. We have all failed tests and exams that we studied hard for.

We have experienced failed relationships and for some even failed marriages. We have experienced private and public moral and emotional failure.  We have even confused failing with “losing” when we did not “win” a team or individual sporting event.

We have all felt that we have wasted a lot of time doing the right things for the wrong people and have gotten nowhere. We have also felt that we have been taken advantage of and in the end, it gave us the feeling of being a failure.

But there are times when we set out to accomplish a certain goal, it ends in failure, only in our own eyes, and in reality – it is only a deceptive illusion. Though the feeling may only be a mirage, so to speak, it is an emotion and tough to deal with because humans are emotional creatures.

Even if we do appear to have “success” for a brief moment and it is publically known, we then become an “object” and are sometimes “envied.” Envy can lead to discontent and resentment, which in turn can trigger further disaster.

I think that the main problem with most people is that they are NEVER content and ALWAYS want more.

If you are an author, you need to ask yourself honestly these important questions:

Is the value of your success measured by wealth, being famous, and taking a bow; in essence “to be acknowledged?”

If so, how wealthy, how famous, and how many bows to you have to take before you think you can and will be content?

Do you see what happens?

There ends up being no happy medium and we seem doomed to fail…

What I have learned is that there is another side to all of this. It is actually pretty simple and that is just to have your main goal to be:

“Write a really good book.”

A book not written for the crowd, but for one reader at a time.

A book not to be judged, but to be experienced.

Not to meet as a crowd pleaser, but one mind at a time.

Anything more for me, I just know I would be doomed to fail.

So with being a birthday for Blue Collar Believer tomorrow and it not being a “best seller,” I am just fine with that. I am also highly encouraged with the personal messages I have received from the people who have purchased and taken the time to read Blue Collar Believer and thanked me for writing it.

It truly means A LOT.

I have had the pleasure in reading some very heartfelt and encouraging messages, and they have truly inspired me in many ways. There were a few messages that brought tears to my eyes, but one in particular opened the flood gates..

It was from a woman thanking me because after she read it, it moved her so much, she became a Christian.

If God can use this book to do JUST that, it was well worth the efforts writing it.

Even if it happens just once, but I do hope to get flooded with messages like that very often in the near and far future.

Like I said, writing a book for me was not intended to be a crowd pleaser, but to meet one mind at a time, be experienced, and here now is a bonus:

– win one soul at a time.

Charles Spurgeon once said:

“To be a soul winner is the happiest thing in the world. And with every soul you bring to Jesus Christ, you seem to get a new heaven here upon earth.”

Money, fame, and fortune can never replace this priceless feeling and it truly is the greatest reward.

It is now time for some overdue relaxation and quality time with my family. We are now “On our way to Cape May.”

Exit 0 here we come!

So, Happy Birthday Blue Collar Believer, stay inspired, thanks for the support, and until next time – God bless you all!

 

 

 

 

“Let the Children Come unto Me”

(Featured image is a picture of my daughter Chesney and son Liam inside the Chapel at Dutch Wonderland – Lancaster, Pa)

“Let the Children Come unto Me”

 Last weekend, my family and I once again had the pleasure to drive out to Lancaster. I love Amish country and my kids have the same feeling about Dutch Wonderland.  It is no wonder that this tiny little amusement park has been voted, “Lancaster’s Best Destination for Family-Friendly Fun.” There are over 35 rides, attractions, and shows, just perfect for kids under 10 years old. Dutch Wonderland has a medieval fantasy theme to it, with characters such as Duke the Dragon, Merlin, Princess Brooke, and the Dutch Wonderland Knight! No matter what age you are, you can certainly feel like a kid again and have a wonderful time.

(See below)

Dutch Wonderland (24)

As long as I have been going though, I am truly impressed with one tiny little attraction that has nothing to do with the theme. Nestled in between 35 rides is a tiny little building that looks a bit out of place, because it looks like a Chapel that only children are small enough to enter.

(See below)

dwchurch2

There, in between the two windows, you can see that there is a book inside the enclosed glass. There is also a little bench where kids can stand on and look in.  The book is the Bible and the pages are strategically opened to:

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

In the height of the summer, about 5,000 people come to the park each and every day from all over the states. What a blessing that the Gospel is shared with so many people, young and old, in such an amazing way. I “tip my hat” towards the owners of Dutch Wonderland for having the courage to keep it there and not have “caved” into being “politically correct” and making a stand for Jesus.

Children are very important to Jesus, and they should be to Christian adults as well. Children are also not to be forced to become Christians and they are not automatically Christians because they might have Christian parents, as many people are under this false belief.  We should look for opportunities to share the Gospel through “childlike evangelism”, in a specific way that they can comprehend.

I got home from work the other night and was happy to see my two children (Liam 4 years old) and Chesney (8 years old) in my office, sitting together in my chair, behind my desk. Chesney was drawing a picture of a unicorn, while Liam watched in great admiration.  I can see why he was in awe; she has a wonderful gift and I do hope that she uses her artistic talents throughout her life, because it is developing rather well, especially for a kid her age.  Although I would like to think that she gets this “gift” from me, I can take no credit for her personal talent; she is simply amazing!

I greeted both of them, gave them a kiss, asked them how their day was, and Liam then pointed to a picture that is on my desk, and said,

“Daddy, is that Jesus on a horse?”

I often look for opportunities to talk to my children about Jesus and love how sometimes situations often present themselves in extraordinary ways! This now was my chance to tell my children the backdrop of how the word “Chaplain” came to be, and more importantly an opportunity to share the Gospel through “childlike evangelism”, in a specific way that they would understand.

What Liam had pointed to is one of Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606-1669) drawings or etchings that I had a copy of framed on my desk. Rembrandt is more commonly known to be famous for his paintings that are often admired for the realistic depiction of human emotions, feelings, and magnificent use of light and shadow. I’ll give some examples so you can see the talent and beauty that this man had, if you are not familiar with his works.

“The Night Watch” is more than likely his most famous painting and comes in at first place.

(See below)

nightwatch

(It is housed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam)

It depicts a group portrait of the militia company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburgh. It is not a night scene as commonly believed, because cleaning it revealed that it is set in daylight.

“The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” comes in more than likely at second place.

storm

It is pretty self-explanatory depicting the miracle of Jesus calming the storm. It is the only one of Rembrandt’s paintings in a seascape setting. The figure in blue is thought to be Rembrant himself. If it is, it was quite clever of Rembrant adding himself into the painting! In 1990, it was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston by two thieves disguised as police officers. The same thieves had also stolen thirteen other major artworks with a total value of $300 million! It was one of the largest art heists in history and the frames that used to hold the masterpieces still hang empty as a symbol of hope that they will one day be returned, as you can see below from an actual picture of an empty frame from a room at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

(See below)

emptyframe

The “Self-Portrait with Two Circles” comes in at a tie of third place.

(See below)

selfportriat

(It is at the Kenwood House in London)

Rembrandt is depicted holding a palette, brushes, and maulstick with two enigmatic circles in the background. There are several theories about the meaning of the two circles, ranging from a map of the world to various symbolic meanings.

“The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” is the tie for third place.

ananatomylesso

(It is at the Mauritshuis art museum in The Hague)

It tells the story of the Dutch surgeon and the later mayor of Amsterdam Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. He is holding an anatomy lesson on the corpse of the executed criminal Aris Kindt.

What many people do not realize is that Rembrandt was not only a painter, but he also made numerous etchings and drawings. They were purely a private record of his observations and personal feelings and are often deceptively simple. There are about 1,400 attributed to him that survive and many that have been lost. Most of them were unrelated to his major works and many were unsigned; only about 25 that bear his signature are known. Inexperienced collectors may have been misled by the simplicity of the drawings and ignorant of their authorship, probably discarded them, as unfortunate as it may be.

Here are two samples:

  1. Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples

washingfeet

(Currently at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam)

         2.  The Last Supper

lastsupper

(Currently at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Call me old fashioned, or as I would like to think as myself as “simple,” as brilliant as the paintings of Rembrant may be, I prefer drawings and sketches…

Now finally onto the picture that is on my desk.

martinbegger

As I wish I can say that I had an original Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn drawing or etching, I have to be honest and say that I do not. The only thing that I do have is access to the internet like many other folks in the world, the ability to find an image, click “print,” and put a printed image inside of a frame. 😉

The picture that Liam pointed to is known as “Saint Martin and the Beggar.”  I fell in love with how “simple” it is.

The original is displayed at the oldest public museum in France: Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’archéologie (Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology) in the city of Besancon.

So, in response to Liam’s question,

“Daddy, is that Jesus on a horse?”

With both of my kids listening intently, I said:

“Kids, this is a copy of a drawing known as Martin and the Beggar by an artist whose name is Rembrandt.”

Liam said, “Who is Martin?”

I said, “I’m glad you asked! Martin and the Beggar has many versions, but this is the one I know. There was a man who lived a long time ago named Martin of Tours, way before Rembrandt lived. He was a soldier in the fourth century. Do you know what century we are living in now?”

Chesney said, “20th, because it is 2017.”

I said, “Bingo! Great job! So how many years ago did he live?”

She then looked at me with a blank look on her face.

I said, “Yeah, that kind of math might be too high of a number for you, it was over 1600 years ago.”

Chesney said, “Wow! That was a long, long time ago!”

I said, “Yes it was! What had happened was Martin on a very cold winter night, at the gates of the French city of Amiens was met by a beggar who was crying for money and was very cold, as you can see in the picture. Martin reached into his pockets and found that they were empty. He was touched with compassion for the beggar, because it was so cold, and he took off his heavy coat, and with his sword, cut it in half, gave half to the beggar, and kept the other half for himself.”

Chesney said, “That was nice!”

I said, “Yes it was and that is what this picture is about, but it does not end there, it gets even better. That night, when Martin was asleep, Jesus appeared to him in a dream wearing the coat that Martin gave the beggar and said, ‘What thou hast done for the poor man, thou hast done for Me.’

Liam said, “Cool!”

I said, “Very cool, and Martin was so moved by the dream that he wanted to be baptized. He then left his military career being a soldier and devoted his life to being a Christian. He dedicated his life to Christianity. He was so happy to tell people about Jesus and helped many people become Christians.”

Chesney said, “Like me and you Daddy!”

I said, “Yup. Now I want to tell you a little about what happened with the half of the coat that Martin kept.”

Liam said, “He kept it?

I said, “Wouldn’t you?”

Chesney and Liam laughed a little bit and both said, “Yes!”

I said, “Well, after Martin died, it became known as a sacred relic. A relic is like a memento or souvenir.”

Chesney said, “Like something we get at a store at the beach, like my Cape May shirt?

I said, “Yes! Sort of like that, but a lot of Christians a long time ago and even today were in and still are in error and believe that that some relics have special powers. Some of them even worship them.  I know that you love your Cape May shirt, but can you imagine worshipping or praying to your Cape May shirt?”

Chesney said, “No way! You should only pray to God.”

I said, “Yes, you are right! Well relics became a scam to attract visitors and made lots of money, but that is another story. Anyhow, Martin’s cloak was often carried into battle. Now I want to see if you catch this.  The French officer appointed to watch over the cloak in Latin was the cappa or capella, and was known in French as the chapelain. So, Chesney and Liam, what English word sounds like chapelain?”

Chesney said, “It sounds like Chaplain.”

Liam said, “Daddy you are a Chaplain!”

I said, “Bingo! You are both right! So that is the story of Martin and the beggar, as well as where the English word Chaplain comes from.  Martin of Tours is now regarded as the father of chaplaincy.  Pretty cool, huh? Can you see why I like this picture so much?  Pretty cool how a picture can tell a story, huh?”

Liam said, “But Martin is dead now right?”

I said, “He is only asleep.”

Liam said, “Oh, like Pop, Pop?

I said, “Yup. They both confessed with their mouth and believed in their hearts that Jesus was raised from the dead, so Jesus promised that they will go to Heaven.”

Chesney said, “Like me and you Daddy.”

I said, “Yup, and maybe someday Liam will too when he is ready.”

Liam said, “Can I get a snack?”

It was now time to move onto another subject, but I was happy to tell my children the story, plant another seed for Liam, and encourage Chesney in the faith, all in a five minute conversation.

As parents we should not leave it up to the church to share the Gospel with our children. It all starts at home.

How have you shared Jesus with your children?

Has there been any creative ways that you have done so?

Until next time and God bless!

 

 

elgreco

Saint Martin and the Beggar by Doménikos Theotokópoulos (El Greco)

(1541 – 7 April 1614)

(Currently at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.  El Greco made a smaller version of the painting that is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago)

In my last blog, I ended by noting that each of the five senses can play an important role to a sensory experience that can possibly bring you back to a certain time in your life. It is very common and happens to just about everyone.

Some triggers are often sad, as others bring much joy, and many are sometimes humorous. What brings to my mind is a comical trigger that once in a while, happens to my wife.

When she sees a bottle of kiwi strawberry Snapple, it brings her immediately back to her college days, which was well over 20 years ago! Not that she was a big party animal in college, but she just so happened to one night, go out, and drink a little too much.  Her drink of choice for that evening was kiwi strawberry Snapple mixed with some hard liquor; she ended up getting sick and vomited.  She can still, many years later, vividly “smell” the mixture in her mind, and it makes her think that she has to vomit when she sees this particular Snapple bottle label.

I often tease her in the supermarket when we are passing by the drinks aisle. I will pick up a bottle of kiwi strawberry Snapple, and say to her,

“Do we need this?”

She will then make the “vomit face.” It is quite humorous even many years later.

The smell of a fresh pine tree may jog may your memory of Christmas time from your youth, or perhaps seeing an event taking place before your eyes will remind you of a blast from the past.

This happened to me quite recently, when I was brought back to a time in my life when I was just a young boy, as I watched a father and son play “catch.” All they were doing was just standing about ten feet away from each other, both wearing baseball gloves, and throwing a baseball back and forth.  The father was instructing his son that looked to be around 10 years old, on how to properly throw the ball and catch it.  All the while, they were laughing and having a good time.

The sight for me, in my mind, immediately brought me back to Long Island, New York to when I was about the kid’s age. As I watched them together I could see my dad and I doing the same thing in our front yard in Centerport many, many years ago.

My dad would throw the ball high up into the sky, to pretend that a hitter made a “pop up” fly ball. He then would throw the ball to the ground in somewhat of my direction, and the ball would bounce and roll “off direction”, giving the appearance of a hitter making a “grounder.”  He then would be barking instructions to me on what to do and what not to do on how to make the catch.  I would listen very intently, as if he were a Major League baseball coach, thinking about how brilliant he was and wondered how he knew just about everything there was to know about the game of baseball.  In all actuality, I don’t think he even liked the sport, he just knew that I enjoyed it and wanted to spend some quality time with me.

I can just see him now with his socks pulled up to his knees, wearing a pair of cutoff jeans, a pink Mickey Mouse shirt with the sleeves cut off, a cigarette butt hanging from his lips, smoking like a chimney, and I wearing a New York Mets shirt and hat, socks pulled up to my knees as well, having so much fun, and spending this priceless time together!

This would all be great, up until I threw a wild throw back to him, he missed it, and yelled to me to retrieve it, or his famous line when I went to catch the ball, missed it, but it “touched” my glove, and he yells:

“You should have had that! If the ball touches your glove, you should have had it!”

For many people, it seems that music is a powerful memory cue. What I find really interesting is that songs often evoke memories that are “general” rather than “specific.” What I mean by this is that maybe hearing a specific song will give you the feeling of being a senior in High School rather than a specific event that happened in High School.

Music for me has always been very special. There are many songs that bring me back to general and specific times in my life, but there is one specific song that I will cherish until the day I die.

It is a song that I have never really given much thought to. I have heard it many times before, but until a specific event that took place in my life while the song was playing, it was just another song that faded into the background to my ears. It now has become a sensory trigger that brings me to a very special place in time, and that was only a couple of years ago!  The funny thing is that this song was made in 1967 and I wasn’t even born until 1976!

If you will recall, in part I of this blog, “Nostalgic Memories,” I shared with you an excerpt from Blue-Collar Believer, Chapter 14, entitled “Hospice.” What you may not remember is that one of the details of what my dad often talked about and wanted to do with one of his remaining days and time left. This overlooked detail has now become a big part of a sensory trigger for me, and most likely all of my family.

“He talked about wanting to go to a bay to watch ships come in at sea. I told him that the closest place we could do that was in Philadelphia, but he said he didn’t want to go.”

The reason why I could only take him to Philadelphia is because it was close by, but he did not like being in the city anymore, especially Philadelphia. Due to his poor health, medicine, equipment, and monitoring while on hospice, traveling long distances was not impossible, but it would take much preparation to do so. He also did not want to be bothered with all the preparation and travel for an extended period of time. So, even though “He talked about wanting to go to a bay to watch ships come in at sea,” his unwillingness to cooperate to make the possibility happen, made it an impossibility, though he was relentless in bringing it up a lot. I never really gave it much thought on “why” he wanted to do this so much until something extraordinary happened..

At the close of the summer and into the month of September, my dad became incoherent. He would just lie in his hospice bed with his eyes closed and there was no longer any communication from him. We all knew that his time was drawing to a close. Hospice and the family now did what they could do just to keep him comfortable. We knew that he was not in any pain, but it was only a matter of time before he would take his final breath. We played on the radio in the background for him the Oldies station, which we all knew that he loved, in hopes that if he could hear anything, the music would be soothing to his ears. He also had his faithful companion, “Ralph,” the black Labrador, laying by his side, with his hand on his back.

On the morning of September 11, 2015, we then watched my dad take his final breath at 10:47 a.m… I had been with other people who had died before, but it was very humbling to see my own dad take his last breath. In that moment it seemed to me that time stood still, but I did not notice what song was playing on the radio.  I asked all who were there who witnessed the moment if they had noticed what song was playing when his soul left his body?

Talk about a divine moment indeed, because what I had come to learn is that the last music my dad ever heard was “On the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. As some of the lyrics go:

“Sittin’ in the morning sun,

I’ll be sittin’ when the evening comes.

Watching the ships roll in.

Then I watch them roll away again, yeah.

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay.

Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh.

I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay, Wastin’ time.

Sittin’ here resting my bones.”

It gives me chills just thinking about it…

He was finally at rest and no doubt “resting his bones.” Now whether or not this was a divinely inspired event or a mere chance that this song was playing, for a song that I heard so many times in my life that I would not have even given a second thought to years ago, and now to have such meaning for me is just such an incredible feeling!

I just needed to know more about this song, its history, and Otis Redding. I never knew much about Otis Redding, but I had come to find out some very interesting information about him and especially the making of this song.

In August of 1967, he wrote only the first verse of this song on a houseboat where he was spending some of his time at Waldo Point in Sausalito, California across the bay from San Francisco. He must have had some interesting thoughts while gazing out to sea and watching the ships come in!

Then, while touring, he continued to scribble lines and add more lyrics onto napkins and hotel paper, no doubt reminiscing about his time spent on the houseboat. It became a song about “homesickness” since Otis was from Georgia, that he turned into something special, personal, bold, and warming; written and performed by a man who was only 26 years old. In November of that year, he joined Steve Cropper who helped him write more of the song.

Otis Redding died in a plane crash on December 10, 1967, a month before this song was released (January 8, 1968) and three days after he recorded it. When Otis recorded it, he and Cropper didn’t have a last verse written, so he whistled it.

He planned to return to Memphis and fill in the verse after performing in Madison, Wisconsin, but he died before he had the chance. When Cropper produced the song, he left the whistling in. Some people have said that it is probably the most famous whistling in any song. Cropper also added the sound of seagulls and waves crashing in the background, apparently as Otis Redding had requested, recalling the sounds he heard when he was originally staying on the houseboat when he had first had the idea for this song.

It sure makes me wonder why my dad in his final days often talked about, “wanting to go to a bay to watch ships come in at sea.”

It also makes me wonder about this particular song.

Did he know the history behind it?

Did he ever spend time at Waldo Point in Sausalito, California across the bay from San Francisco?

Knowing my dad, he may have even known Otis Redding, he just never talked about it!

He had lived a long life full of adventures and with many of them I am sure I did not know about, and probably some I did not want to know about! But, I do know that at one point in his life he did own a nice boat and sailed it out of Huntington Harbor in Long Island, New York.

I have seen many old pictures of him along with his friends having a grand old time sailing, fishing, smiling, and enjoying the freedom of the open sea. I am sure that the boat and the many memories that it produced for him were amazing, especially knowing that they happened when he was a younger man and in his prime.

He may even perhaps had some special times with admiring the sun rising or setting, sitting on the dock of the Huntington Harbor bay, watching the ships come in, listening to the sounds of seagulls and waves crashing in the background.

Who knows? It is only speculation at this point, but every time I know I hear “On the Dock of the Bay”, I will think of the man who played such an important role in my life, for so many years, and had such a huge impact on me, especially how to love your family. I miss him dearly, but am joyful for the time I was able to have with him, and am so joyful in my faith, just knowing we will see each other again someday.

I hope that with this blog it just may in fact give you a deeper appreciation for sensory experiences that you may have. If you cannot recall any, then this is my advice to you:

Begin to take notice of everyday life. Don’t take for granted anything and appreciate the little things, no matter how small you think they are.  The timing of events that happen in your life can play such a significant part in forming a sensory experience.   Whether you hear, smell, taste, touch, or even see something while a certain event is taking place, this may be a future “trigger” for a future memory that will put you back to a place in your past.

Embrace them with open arms, I know I have.

If you have never heard Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, click below for the (Official Video) on You Tube.  The whistling at the end will surly give you a deep appreciation for the song.  God bless.

Nostalgic Memories (Part I of II)

About this time, roughly two years ago, I officially became my dad’s full time care taker while he spent the remainder of his earthly life on hospice. Although this took place two years ago, I can remember so vividly; like it was just yesterday.  The human mind is such a highly complex system and I just marvel about how fascinating it truly is.  I am in awe with all of the amazing things that it can do, especially with memory and sensory experiences that can induce nostalgia, but I’ll dive more into that later on in this blog..

I have decided to give the subscribers to my blog a little treat. I am going to share an excerpt from my book, “Blue Collar Believer” that CANNOT be read anywhere else, unless of course you have purchased the book.

If you have not yet purchased a hard copy, it was actually brought to my attention that it was found at a substantially low discounted price on:

Cokesbury – Resources for the Christian Journey

The standard retail price for a hard copy of Blue Collar Believer is $22.95 before shipping.

Cokesbury – Resources for the Christian Journey, has it listed for $16.79, so the price has been drastically reduced.

It does not affect authors in anyway when a store reduces the price of their book. We make our financial gain regardless, which really isn’t that much, after taxes and fees are taken out for each copy sold at distributers.

You can find it here, if you or someone you know is interested:

https://www.cokesbury.com/product/9781512753998/bluecollar-believer/

They do not have the E-Book format available, but you can find it on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, West Bow Press, and other fine book distributors for roughly $5.99.

The reason I have decided to include a specific excerpt from my book in this particular blog, is because two years ago July 27th – September 11th was a very special bonding time period for me with my dad.  As my father, it was his responsibility to me, as his son, to care for, nurture, and groom me from a boy into a man when I was growing up, and basically show me how to live.

That specific timeline about 2 years ago, I had come to find that it was now my turn to return the favor “so to speak” to become responsible as a son, to his father, to care for, nurture, and groom him from being scared to die, to embracing death with open arms.

It was my duty to prepare in his heart a type of peace that surpasses all understanding with a hope and faith that he had never experienced before in his life. He essentially taught me how to live, and I was used by the glory of God to teach him how to die.

We connected in some incredible ways that summer which nobody would quite understand, except for my sister Susanne and my dad’s hospice aid Jamie. Although my dad had an extremely loving support system from those who loved him the most, especially my dear wife and my younger sister who had made some wonderful selfless sacrifices to spend time with him, these two individuals, my sister Susanne and my dad’s hospice aid Jamie, I would like to briefly discuss, because their efforts go well with the excerpt I will share shortly.

My sister Susanne and her husband live in Georgia. She is a school teacher, and she had the summer off.  She decided that she would relocate to Pennsylvania for the summer, move in with our dad, and become his full-time caretaker.

I do not think there are many people in the world that would do such a thing, considering how much work it was going to entail, but bless her heart, she did it for our dad. With the excerpt from the book I am going to share, it will go into more detail of her selfless character and responsibilities that she took on, all out of selfless love.

During this transition, my dad would now be assigned from the hospice agency a nurse who would come twice a week, a nurse’s aide who would come every day, a chaplain who would come when needed, and a case manager/social worker.

A couple of different nurse’s aides were sent out, but with my dad being the eccentric character that he was, he just could not get along with any of them. Like I always said, my dad was a one of a kind – you either loved him or you could not stand him, there was NO in between.

Then finally, by the grace of God, it was like an angel was finally sent from Heaven! A nurse’s aide by the name of Jamie was sent to our home. Jamie and my dad immediately hit it off. I just thank God that she was sent, because she changed my dad for the better with her sacrificial love on a daily basis.

I would just like to say briefly that she really touched his life in a tremendous way. I loved and actually looked forward to her coming over daily.  Jamie and my dad had an immediate connection and we were just so thankful for her.  I loved watching them together.  The field that she is in, I just know for a fact that God placed her there because she has a special gift.  She was not just doing her job, but she truly became a part of our family and we love her very much.

I do not see Jamie as much as I would like to anymore, but she knows as well as I know that she shares a very special place in my heart. If she ever needs me, she knows that I would be there for her, and I know the same about her, if I ever need her shoulder to cry on. She is always in my thoughts and prayers.

With that being said, I would now like to share with you a treat from Blue Collar Believer. Below is an excerpt taken from pages 268 – 270

Blue-Collar Believer

Chapter 14 entitled:

Hospice (pages 266 – 275)

“…..My sister could not stay the whole summer because she had to return to work, so we had to figure out other arrangements. I decided that I was going to take a leave of absence from work. It is what is known as an FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) leave. I could take time off from work for a period of time and my job would be safe. Though I would not get my full paycheck, I would get something. So after a long month of my sister taking care of my dad, which I am sure she could write an entire book about, the reigns were then handed to me. She trained me in everything I needed to know about being his primary caretaker. On July 25 my sister went back to Georgia. I could not have been more appreciative of her for making such a sacrifice in her life and for her help in taking such good care of our dad.

 It was not an easy job taking care of my dad. He was very demanding at times, and I had to answer every beck and call that he had. I joked with him that all he lacked was a bell or a bullhorn to get me when I was needed. I had to get used to his schedule now. There was no more waking up at 4:00 a.m. to read. They were some long days, and we bonded in ways no one except maybe my older sister could ever imagine, but it was awesome.

 I hesitantly took him to the casino when he wanted, went to 7-Eleven to pick up his scratch-off lottery tickets, which was quite a process for him to do. I have never seen anyone take so much time scratching off a ticket! It would take him sometimes a half hour with his precise method.

 I really enjoyed the company of his hospice aide, and I could really see how she and my dad hit it off because she was just so loving, caring, and had a great sense of humor. You have to be a special person to be able to put up with my dad.

 He talked about wanting to go to a bay to watch ships come in at sea. I told him that the closest place we could do that was in Philadelphia, but he said he didn’t want to go.

 We had some really good conversations, bonding moments, and special times during this time together. It was actually nice to talk with him about the faith, because he was in the faith, so it was quite a transition.

 He had some moments where he would get deeply depressed. And although some of the time it was because he still had a fear of dying, other times were because he really felt guilty about the past sins he had committed in his life.

 It was truly a blessing to see my role with him change as I went from a basic Christian, to an apologist, to an evangelist, and now to a pastoral caretaker. The main thing that I told him was that there was no need to feel guilty anymore, he had been forgiven, and now he had the righteousness of Christ. I knew that it was a hard concept to grasp, but it was true, and it was all because of God’s love, mercy, and grace. God did not see him for who he was, God saw him for who he is in Jesus. The most important thing he needed to remember was that the Bible says in Romans 8:1:

 “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

 God has declared us not guilty because we put our faith in Jesus. We are free, so there was no need to feel this way anymore. His sins have been wiped out.

 He began to ask honest questions, and it was awesome to see him search, seek, and finally realize how powerful the Christian faith really was…..”

 As I stated earlier, the human mind is such a highly complex system and I just marvel about how fascinating it truly is. I am in awe with all of the amazing things that it can do, especially with memory and sensory experiences that can induce nostalgia.

Whether you hear, smell, taste, touch, or even see something you have not experienced in a while, your sensory experience might trigger a memory that will put you back to a place in your past. This is normal, and to some people, the trigger might put them back to a certain moment that will put a smile on their face or maybe to a time that they would like to forget.

I will dive more into this topic on my next blog. Until next time, stay blessed!

To be continued…………

All Dogs Go To Heaven

All Dogs Go to Heaven

 Fact or Fiction?

 Is this a product of our creative imaginations and fantasies?

Pop culture, many books, and movies help with thinking that dogs do, pushing Disney films such as the 1989 animated movie “All Dogs Go to Heaven.”

Here we have the dog “Charlie” finding himself in Heaven by “default” because “all dogs go to heaven” after he is murdered. Charlie then con’s his way back to Earth to get back at the killer, finding his old partner, and an orphan girl who can talk to animals.  He then has nightmares on what is waiting for him on the other side unless he can prove he is worthy of heaven.

And then of course we have the 1996 sequel, “All Dogs Go to Heaven 2.” Here we have Gabriel’s horn falling from the sky, and Charlie is entrusted to go back to Earth to get it back.  It is a fun filled adventure, very imaginative, and Charlie even makes a deal with the devil.

I was talked into going to the movies a few months ago to see with my wife and children the 2017 film “A Dog’s Purpose.” I really did not know much about the film before I went, but just knew of a scene I saw on the news that created some controversy showing “alleged” animal abuse that caused quite a stir. But what I had come to learn that while watching this movie I did become to feel a bit uncomfortable. It was not because of the scene that I saw on the news, but it was basically because of the story line. I did not realize that it was going to be about a dog whose entire life is shown from birth to death, to his five reincarnations as different dog breeds also going from male and female. Every time the dog’s soul is reborn and reincarnated into the body of another dog, it tells a new story from life to death. The climax of the movie is the exception in the last life, where he meets his original owner again as a full-grown man. I guess this is where we find this dog’s particular purpose in life as then the movie ends.  This then leaves the question by my children,

 “What happens when the dog dies again?”

 Which leaves me with saying,

 “I honestly don’t know. That would be up to the writers.”

Even, I, personally have been touched by films with dogs starring in them. I remember when I was a child seeing the 1957 film produced by once again Walt Disney, “Old Yeller” for the first time.  Who doesn’t love a good movie based in the 1860’s post-Civil War Texas era?  I just fell in love with the family and the dog that grows up with them “Old Yeller,” as they live life and the adventures set before them in this setting.  But as a kid watching it, I could never forget the scene where “Old Yeller” defends his family from a wolf, is bitten, contracts rabies, and young Travis is forced to shoot him.  A heartbreaking scene to say the least, and I get all teary eyed even thinking about it now being 41 years old!  Travis first refuses the offer of a new puppy that was fathered by Old Yeller, but then after the puppy steals a piece of meat (a trick he learned from his father) he then adopts him naming him “Young Yeller,” and life goes on as the movie ends.  There is no reincarnation in this movie or Old Yeller being escorted to heaven immediately after he dies.

The bottom line is that movies “appeal to our emotions” and it is hard not to fall in love with all the creative writing sometimes even mixed with biblical narratives and eastern religious superstitions, superb acting by all-star casts, and the exceptionally trained animals that pretty much make the movie. But this often brings up the question not just by children but by many adults as well,

 “Do all dogs actually go to Heaven when they die?”

 Which then leads into more questions,

 “If dogs do, why not cats or a pet snake or goldfish?”

Many of these pets that people adore all across the globe are actually part of a daily menu for people in other cultures. We may find this offensive, but the reality of the situation is animals that are part of our daily diets are often worshipped in other cultures.  It can go either way depending on where you live in the world.

Recently, my family’s beloved Dachshund “Kirby” passed away. It is always heart breaking when you lose a pet, especially for your children.

About 12 years ago, when my wife and I first got engaged, we received an extra ordinary gift as an engagement present. We were offered to become the owners of the cutest little puppy, who at the time was known as “Toby.” I have to admit, I was never really fond of “wiener dogs,” but there sure was something special about this one and Dachshunds are just so cute when they are a puppies! From their short little legs and oversized ears, to their adorable little barks and the wagging of the little tail, and Oh, who could forget the puppy breath? We immediately fell in love, but the name had to go, and we renamed the first addition to our family “Kirby.”

From day one, he certainly was our – everything. We dressed him up in silly clothes and even got matching shirts that said, “I love my wiener” with a shadow imprint of a Dachshund of course. 😉 We were dangerously close to practicing extreme forms of “anthropomorphism” which is the attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human entities, in this case to a dog, which is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.  I am sure you know people like this, maybe you might be one of them.  But some people tend to take it a little too far.  I once knew of a person who would only give their dog the best crystalized, purified water, and talked to the dog and dressed it like it was a human infant.  The dog, I am sure of it, would have been just as happy drinking from the toilet.  My wife and I used to argue back and forth, very playfully about Kirby having “hands,” which I would correct her stating that they were “paws.”

We took that dog everywhere with us! He just did not feel comfortable being in the car unless he was up on top of my shoulders. I guess he considered it his “safe place” and never grew out of it, from puppy stage to being an “old man.”

Holidays were fantastic with this little guy around. Here we go again with a little bit more of our anthropomorphism, because we just loved to watch him open his stocking stuffers, all wrapped, and prepared for a treat, or perhaps his favorite, a doll with a squeaky toy in it! We laughed hysterically as we saw him rip the doll apart getting stuffing everywhere, finally getting to the “squeaker”, spitting it out, and tromping away very satisfied claiming, “Victory!”

He watched our every move closely and followed us everywhere that we went. He lived with us in our first apartment together, to 2 houses, watched 3 kids grow up, and we all surly loved him very much. The memories that we have with him are priceless; some good and not so good, but now we can look back and either shed a tear or even laugh about them. I can still here my dad saying, “Shoot that dog!” Because he constantly barked at, it appeared to be nothing, which got my dad just crazy!

With everything in life though, all living things have an expiration date and times certainly go by fast, and we can all attest to that. Dogs tend to age much faster than humans and we watched his health slowly decline over the years. He was a diabetic that needed a daily dose of insulin, he was going partially blind, and really was getting to the point of being deaf. I know for a fact that he never suffered though, he lived an incredible life and even ate better than me, thanks to my wife spoiling her little fur baby. 🙂

He lived the life only the best of dogs could ever dream of. But when he died, it left me with a daunting task, and that was consoling and encouraging my children.

My kids have had grieved before over “human death.” They had lost my dad, their “Pop Pop,” a couple of years ago and their “Na Na” as well pretty recently.  They were both Christians, so as a believer and a dad, I was able to encourage them in the faith with a hope that they will one day see them again. 

Losing a family pet that was so near and dear to them was a new task filled with different types of challenges for me. After they had seen such movies that I have shared on this blog, I am sure their heads were filled with a bit of confusion.  Through the emotional trauma, they needed to grieve as anyone would need to do. 

There are five natural responses that professional counselors will attest to that people go through about death. If you have ever comforted someone or needed to be comforted, you will be familiar with them: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They do not all necessarily have to fall in that particular order, but “acceptance” is the goal we all need to achieve.

I am familiar with these stages all too quite well, not just for me with losing my dad, but helping others cope with someone that has passed away. What I have found with helping my children cope with losing their dog that grieving over a family pet, these stages apply as well.

But the biggest challenge set before me was answering their little heartfelt questions, with tears in their eyes like,

“Is Kirby in Heaven with Pop Pop?”

I often pondered the question, “Do animals have a soul?” People who believe in reincarnation and ancient phenomena such as Hinduism, some Indian religious traditions, and even some New Age beliefs would seem to believe so. 

 Personally, as a Christian I have read and heard many good arguments “for” and “against” an animal having a soul. It is hard not to imagine a type of heaven without your beloved pets being there.  I am sure we have all imagined reuniting with them someday. 

 I know that in my 41 years on this earth I have had seven dogs: Boomer #1, Boomer #2, Spike, Ralph #1, Otis, Midge, and Kirby that have passed on.  I have imagined in my mind time and time again, especially when I was younger, that I would see them someday again in Heaven.

Sometimes, even as Christians though we are at war with our emotional feelings. The fact of the matter is that Jesus died and rose again for the sins of the world. It is hard to imagine an animal “sinning” against their conscience.  They are primarily instinctive creatures, a separate creation from mankind.  

If animals do have a soul and go to Heaven then it will bring great joy to a lot of former pet owners who are there. If they do not have souls we can be assured that we will have joy as well, because Heaven will be a place with no more tears or crying, no death, no mourning, and no pain.  A wonderful place of “no mores.”

Revelation 21:4 – “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

This is a hard concept to grasp since we are mortal and “the former things have NOT yet passed.”

So these are the things that I tell my children. Basically, that “I do not know, but I trust God, and they certainly can too.”  But I know for a fact that with my study of Scriptures, I can certainly attest to that they can see all throughout the Bible, that God does provide care for the animal kingdom and that we should too, especially when a “pet” becomes such a big part of the family.

I had a special moment with Kirby about 4 days before he died. I was relaxing in a chair after a long day of work.  I noticed that Kirby seemed a bit “off” possibly because he was low on sugar due to his diabetes.  He looked “lost” wandering about and very sad.  I just had this feeling that death was approaching but I did not know when.

I decided to pick him up and have him lie on my lap while I sat in the chair just like many years ago when he was a puppy. He immediately rolled over onto his back and I just knew that he wanted me to rub his belly.

As I began petting him, I looked into his eyes and flashbacks of memories with him just flooded my memories. I have heard it said that, “eyes are the windows to the soul.” There seems to be a great deal of debate over the origins of the phrase. It’s been attributed to Shakespeare, Leonardo DaVinci, Hiram Powers, Max Beerbohm, Ralph Waldo Emerson, English and Traditional Proverbs alike.  Andrew Hamilton has been given credit to saying something similar which I find a little more deep and beautiful:

“They say that the eye is the window to the soul. But it is the soul that is the window.”

Whether we look into the eyes of a human or an animal there sure is something there. The eyes do communicate lots of information about another person’s emotional state and their individual personality.

When I looked into my dog’s eyes I did not see an aging, deaf, near blind Dachshund near death, I saw him for who he is and who he was – a part of God’s wondrous creation only wanting to give and receive unconditional love.

I thank God for that moment with him, it really meant a lot to me.

So long Kirby, you were loved very much, and I know you loved us all. We are grateful for the time we had together with you, and I just know that you were grateful for having us. Our home just won’t be the same without you.

How have you handled telling your children about death with a beloved pet that they lost?

How do you think I did?

God bless and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this often controversial subject.

Book Forward

I do believe (whole heartedly), that if you are going to endorse a product, it should be something that you must TRULY believe in. I am also a firm believer in a special four letter word that carries a lot of weight along with it: “HOPE.” I am NOT talking of the word HOPE generically speaking, because there is a lot of HOPE that proceeds with DOUBT out there. The dictionary describes HOPE as: “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” This can be a “generic” hope, often conveying doubt, often followed by the word “not,” or “so.” In both instances, there is “some” hope but followed with “some” doubt.

With that being said, a close, personal friend of mine has recently written and published a book. I, as well as another close, personal friend and colleague, had been asked to, and we both took the high honor to write a forward for this brilliant masterpiece. The book is entitled, “The Hope in Personal Apocalypse (Refuge for the Hopeless).” Below, is “part” of the forward that I wrote:

“The author may not have perfect sight, but he truly sees things that even those with 20/20 vision may not see. Reading ‘The Hope in Personal Apocalypse’ feels like a personal visit with the author, one in which you are allowed to really know him. He is approachable and vulnerable, allows you to discover that, though he may seem to be handicapped from the outside, the Lord has used his handicap as a gift that lets faith ‘move mountains.’ It may sound strange, but through his partial blindness, he sees the physical and spiritual world more clearly. Some may feel intimidated, fearful, even cursed by such a disability, but this author recognizes the blessing and accepts it as a source of encouragement. I think of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, where he describes “the thorn in his flesh and prays three times to have it removed.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

“Through examples such as this, the author of ‘The Hope in Personal Apocalypse’ helps us to see that we, too, can be so humble and see that His grace is enough and His power made perfect in weakness. Know that when you pick up this book, it may be the first time but it will not be the last. You will have to go back again and again to grasp all of its wisdom. If you are ready to be encouraged, get your highlighters ready, and turn the page!”

As I stated earlier how important the word “HOPE” is to me, one of my favorite Scriptures is from the sixth Chapter, verse nineteen, written to the Hebrews in the New Testament, and it states: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”

The cover of the book captivates a picture of an anchor (see image below), along with the title, which to me, I believe is just a perfect fit! So, if you feel “hopeless”, or just need assurance of a hope that you already have, which is a reality, not just a feeling, secure, immovable, anchored in a sure foundation, just as a ship anchor holds firmly to the sea bed, I invite you to read “The Hope in Personal Apocalypse (Refuge for the Hopeless), where within each page you will soon discover a HOPE with a confident expectation, with joy, and full confidence. In other words, with this kind of HOPE, “There is no doubt about it!”

Come see how this HOPE is what helped him COPE, and how HOPE can be an anchor that can and will carry you through ALL of life’s circumstances. Mark my words, you will never look at an image of an anchor the same way after reading it. 😉

For more information, please check out the below blog, website, and send him a message, saying that I sent ya!

https://jeffulrichlegacies.com/

https://jeffulrichlegaciesblog.wordpress.com/

Why do bad things happen to good people?

If there is any quote that is worthy to share, I believe this is the right one at the right time: “God whispers to us in our pleasures; speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
– C.S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain”

At my secular job I have developed beautiful friendships with many people. There is a certain “someone” that has truly taken a special place in my heart. I have watched her over the years just go above and beyond for people, asking always for nothing in return. She would be the standard of what many people who consider someone as truly a “good person” with a “great heart.”

We share a common faith together, which has been wonderful to talk about together. She has been there for me when I lost my dad, and I do believe that she was only one of the few people at work who I really confided in, and even shed some tears in front of.

For the last year and a half I have watched her become very sick. She has seen many doctors, but things just seem to get worse. She has always had a huge smile on her face, but her current condition has turned this smile into a 24 hour frown.

She cannot do the things that she used to enjoy anymore. It has affected her physically, emotionally, and spiritually, because all she wants to do is take care of people, but she cannot do that anymore. She has a heart as big as the sun, and it really pains me to see her in this condition.

So I bumped into her in the parking lot about a half hour ago…

There was a lot of anger, frustration, sadness, and the number one question that was asked, not just by her, but by millions of people every day since the dawn of time:

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Friends, there is no easy answer to this question, but we need to keep in mind when we feel that we should address this question do we need to give an emotional or an intellectual response?

The case presently for me was an emotional response, and plus we held a common faith, I was able to hug her, while I wiped her tears away in a corporate building parking lot…

When we suffer, it always boils down to the philosophical question, “Why?”

I directed her to the book of Job, which she in fact never read. It is one of my favorites, but without proper understanding of this story some people have held that it is “immoral” by any “human standards” that there should be a divine chess game between God and Satan using as their “pawn” the soul of Job.

But such a view overlooks that God does not “meaninglessly” allow Job to suffer. The fact of the matter is that God is honoring Job by putting His full confidence in the genuineness of Job’s faith, which Satan had questioned. God never offers a theological reason for his suffering and if he had known, the Book of Job would have lost its message to all people who suffer who read it.

So what we can gather from the Book is that it teaches us that there is something more fundamental than an intellectual solution to the mystery of suffering. In a world of paradoxes, Job’s suffering was not because he was the worst of men, but because he was the best of men.

Now this does not answer the reason “why” of my friend’s current suffering, but I could assure her that God has not afflicted her because she has done anything wrong. He is letting this happen to her for some reason we may not ever truly ever understand, nor maybe perhaps be able to understand, but I know it is NOT because she is the worst of women, but because she just may in fact be the BEST of women.

She had been a caretaker her entire life, it is now time to let people take care of her, and more importantly, let God take care of her; to trust Him and to call out to Him, because He is there suffering with her.

This truly put a different spin on her current mental perspective. I finally saw that smile I was longing to see.

If you take the time to read this, please keep her in your prayers. I will leave her nameless to protect her identity, but He knows who she is. Have a great Fourth of July.
Blessings to all.

I apologize for my absence…

Greetings!  I do apologize for my absence lately with writing on this blog.  What this blog was intended for, is to keep the subscribers posted on updates with my book “Blue Collar Believer” that I had published through WestBow Press back in August.  What you will come to learn as you read this article is the reasons why I have not written in quite a while, because unfortunately there really is no updates to share with you.

Blue Collar Believer was an exciting journey from start to finish.  Writing the first draft and actually finding a publisher that would take on this project was no easy task, but WestBow Press saw something “special” with it, and decided to be my publisher.

I thought writing the book was going to be the hardest task, but what I have come to find out in all honesty, that was the easiest part of the process!  Through WestBow Press I gained some exceptional and professional help with formatting, small changes, and some minor line editing.

 

But with everything in life there comes a price.  I knew that when I finally found a publisher that would back me up, it would not come cheap.  I weighed out most of the expenses that it would cost, but there was one major expense that I forgot to consider when I initially got started with this, and it turns out to be one of the most important aspects with writing a book, and that is marketing!

After most of my funds were gone, I used the rest up for a small marketing campaign provided through WestBow Press.  It is considered an “optimized press release” that is distributed over the newswire to over 30,000 opt-in journalists and bloggers. Although WestBow Press cannot guarantee coverage for the book by a specific media outlet or reporter, they can guarantee that my press release has gone out over one of the most utilized newswires available on the web.  You can view that here:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/Schnakenberg/BlueCollarBeliever/prweb13758016.htm

There were many marketing packages available, but I had to go with the cheapest one, due to my financial restraints at the time. I had to do some type of marketing to get some degree of exposure for the book, if I hadn’t, it would just sit on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Christian Book, WestBow Press, and other highly established websites that have books for sale available to the general public, but no one would know it was there. 

Long story short, after the month long marketing campaign, it really was not successful.  Book sales are NOWHERE that I thought that they would be.  The plans I had with some book sales and the royalties were to market some more because this will be an ongoing process and I really wanted to do an audio version of Blue Collar Believer.  

There is such a growing demand for audiobooks nowadays. Experts believe the popularity is because the nearly one quarter of listeners between the ages of 18 and 24 enjoy the accessibility of simply downloading an audiobook.  It seems as though people just do not have the time to sit down and read anymore, and with listening to an audio book you can do just about anything like work out, drive a car, go for a walk, jog, or run, etc..

Anyhow, for now, my plans with the book will have to wait, things are on hold, and I am just going to sit back and trust God’s perfect timing. Funding for the book in my personal bank account is now completely empty, or as they say, “The well has now run dry.”

The fact of the matter is that writing and publishing a book is a business.  You must put money out to make money.  With any business, in the secular world, to get anywhere rather quickly it is “all about who you know.”  The sad reality of the situation is that I am a “nobody” as a first time author and I do not know “anybody.”  The type of people who sell books quickly are the ones who are a celebrity or know someone in the “biz” regardless if it is a good book or not.

But I just want to let you know that I trust God fully and He will provide a way when there seems to be no way.  He has done it before and will continue to do it again and again, and there are some big things that are going to happen with “Blue Collar Believer.” 

For now, I am keeping pretty busy in general.  My home life with my wife and three children certainly are keeping me on my toes, but they all are such a blessing to me. 

My secular job has been chaotic to say the least, Chaplaincy has had its fair share of challenging moments, and for the last couple of months I have been doing “live” Facebook broadcasts on a well-established Christian Facebook page called “The Christian Exchange,” who has over 1.5 million subscribers.  I was discussing and refuting the idea that Jesus’ Resurrection can be explained by some other explanation rather than a bodily Resurrection. 

My goal was to properly debunk the seven most common theories: Swoon, Hallucination, unknown tomb, theft, impersonation, myth, spiritual resurrection, and finally the truth, which all too many people just are not comfortable hearing.

I only got as far as the Swoon theory, and because of the lack of time to prepare for these broadcasts, I had to put it on hold, and am hoping to get back to them hopefully in the early summer.  I was actually able to promote Blue Collar Believer, here and there, and the best kind of marketing is free marketing! 🙂

I have also been writing for another blog every couple of weeks for a good friend of mine James Bishop. He and I have been friends for a few years now.  Though he is located in South Africa and I am in the United States, we stay in touch regularly.  I have learned a lot from him, and I would like to think that he has learned a lot from me.  He is a well-educated “academic”, and intelligent Christian that has a true gift writing about scholarly subjects.  He is currently a student at Corner Stone Institute located in Salt River, Western Cape, South Africa that specializes in Psychology, Ethics, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Business, Education, Sociology and Community Development.

As long as I have known James, I have watched his academic and spiritual gifts develop. He is a faithful and mature Christian, and not only academically brilliant, but has mastered the art of rhetoric in the areas of the Bible, Cosmological, Creation, Ontological, Presuppositional, Scientific, Teleological, Resurrection, and Prophetic arguments. 

His blog has really come a long way since he started it four years ago. For the first year his blog brought in no more than 500 views. What is completely remarkable is that just three years later he is sitting on one million as his blog continues to grow!  It has gotten so big advertisers want to use his blog to advertise.  I am just so very proud of him!

A number of top atheist writers have shared and/or attempted to rebut his work, notably of the likes of Richard Carrier, Jerry Coyne, and Peter Boghossian. Many Christians, including some notable Christian apologists such as Jim Wallace, have likewise shared his work on their social media sites. Some widely read apologetic organizations of the likes of Ratio Christi, The Poached Egg, CARM, and Premier Christianity, to name but a few, have also shared some of his work.

His blog has certainly taken off and he has asked me to write for him!  He has added me as one of the resources on his blog with my own column entitled “Chaplain Bill’s Corner.”  This is where I am able to articulate my views on theological, biblical, and philosophical matters. James has also endorsed my book on his blog, as well as given me the honor of him writing one of the Forwards in Blue Collar Believer. 

Writing for James has increased traffic to my book website, and the shares of the articles that I have written on other blog pages have really humbled me.  So far I have written articles on:

 Pastoral Apologetics

Apologetics & Theological Jargon

a Quick Look at Jesus Mythicism.

An Open Letter to a Drug Addict

Chatting About Profanity on a Christian Worldview

Christian Parenting & Answering Our Child’s Innocent Theological Questions

James’ blog is called:

James Bishop’s Theological Rationalism

You can find my articles here if you are interested:

https://jamesbishopblog.com/category/beginner-resources/chaplain-bill/

Also, subscribe to his blog.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed.  There is a wealth of information on there that will keep you busy for hours.

Until next time, God bless you, and please keep Blue Collar Believer in your prayers.  I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support.  It brings much joy to my heart to hear from the people who have read this book and the positive impact it has had on them.

William H Schnakenberg IV

“Chaplain Bill”

Author/Chaplain

-Pastoral Apologist-

Blue Collar Believer

http://www.bcbschnakenberg.com