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August 2008
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October 2008

Farewell to Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium I had the chance last week to go to New York with a friend to visit Yankee Stadium one more time before they close it down and open the new one across the street.  My friend, Bruce, and I got tickets but we didn't know they were in the next to the last row behind home plate.  I am including a picture for you to see how high up we were (click on it to get a bigger view). Yet is was a special night, even though the Yankees lost to the White Sox.  Last Sunday, the Yankees played the last game there after 85 years of special moments. 

While Bruce and I were in New York, we took the double-decker bus rides to both uptown and downtown and, even though I've been to New York many times over the years, I learned a lot more about the city.  We ate in Little Italy, where the festival of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, was taking place.  I got to see my two children (they came to Paesano's in Little Italy) and John III joined us for lunch the next day at the Carnegie Deli on 7th Avenue.  We took the 4 Subway to and from the stadium and parked in the theater district both days, which made it easy to get in and out of the city (we stayed in New Jersey because the city hotels were all so expensive).  All in all, we had a grand time.

Since I've been home, I have been busy with various projects and school.  I am on the board of directors for two new ministries that I have come to know over the last few months and I have initial meetings with those organizations this week.  I am spending a lot of time at the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry, where I enjoy working with the adult students and Karla Byrd, the director (Karla is the woman on the home page of my new website with whom I am sitting on the bench). 

I just finished helping one person publish her book and now I am working to help three others write theirs.  This means I am involved doing some ghost writing, consulting and editing work for those three.  This is something I believe I am supposed to do on a regular basis as I come alongside others to help make their work a reality

Not much else new to report.  I have some blog entry ideas that I hope to get to over the next day or two.  Stay tuned. 


More School

I am enjoying this down time I have and am trying to make the most of it.  I enrolled in a Quickbooks class for the next two Saturdays so I can learn how to use this software in my own companies and in the work I do for others.  This class is offered through the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry here in Pittsburgh, where I am a board member, treasurer, consultant, sometime instructor and missions advisor.  It is enjoyable work as I assist students who are returning to school to earn their college degrees through Geneva College.  This year we had one student enroll who is 65 years of age and another who is 69!  They are doing well in their classes, and I just met with them to go over their DISC profile results and do an overview of their ministry goals.

I suppose that I enjoyed working with them so much that they influenced me to go back to school for my Doctor of Ministry degree.  Speaking of that, I am really into the research portion of my last two classes and it is both enjoyable and time-consuming.  I didn't see this coming, but I am on a study sabbatical of sorts, and I am sitting here typing this with about 25 books on my desk that I am currently reading and using in my research.  When I began the program, I thought school was going to be just another activity on my to-do list.  Instead it has become almost my entire to-do list!

I was working on my Bible studies I send out every week this morning and I came to the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 24.  The main lesson in that story is that God expects preparedness and there is no way to cram or delay your way into spiritual or life success.  There is only one way to earn my degree or write my books, and that is one page at a time, one day at a time.  There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity or preparation, and we don't know how much time we have before we meet Him or He returns to us.  That means we must work with urgency. 

This new season has made finances a bit tight, but I am working hard not to fret and to focus on the work at hand that the Lord has assigned for me to do. We just got an unexpected tax bill but I know God can take care of it according to His perfect plan.  I do get to write a lot now, which I love, and I am working on my next book while consulting with two others to help them write their books.  I would love to do more consulting and even ghost writing for other authors who need help publishing.

So that's how I am spending my days.  I am off to New York City for a few days with a friend and will have dinner with my two adult chlldren tomorrow night.  Then it's one more visit to Yankee Stadium before it closes, and I return home for some meetings and coaching sessions later in the week -- and one more Quickbooks class next Saturday.


Hebrew

For many years I have talked about learning Hebrew to help in my Bible studies.  My Greek is decent but my Hebrew is nonexistent.  Last night I enrolled in Classical Hebrew at Reformed Presbyterian Seminary and will audit the course, hopefully through the end of the school term in May.  I will have to miss some classes, but since I am auditing, I don't have to take the tests or quizzes.  I am serious about learning the basics, however, so I am going to keep up with the course work as best I can. 

Last night we learned the alphabet and a song to go with it to help us memorize the names of the letters.  Next week we learn the vowels and each week we will cover one chapter in our textbook.  It should be fun and interesting.  I've had this goal for many years, so it's good to finally do something about it.

Meanwhile my other coursework is going well.  I have one annotated bibliography due September 30 for a paper due January 31 and a 35-page paper discussing the types in 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 due by mid-November. Then we have received our syllabus for the next class in February, which will be on biblical counseling.  I have a ton of reading to do and research to perform, but it's all good and worthwhile and I have no regrets about enrolling in the program.  Now that I have written this, I can go recite and practice writing my Hebrew alphabet.  Aleph, bet, vet, . . .


A Truly Dark Knight

I had a chance over the weekend to go see the latest Batman move, A Dark Knight, which has been out all summer.  I think I was the last person in the U.S. to go and see it.  All summer I have read rave reviews about the movie, so my expectations were high.  When my wife and I went into the theater, the woman who sold us our tickets asked, "Have you seen it yet." When we said we had not, she said, "Oh, I saw it and I want to go back to see it again." Then we were really pumped believing that we had come to see an awesome movie, and two and a half hours later, my only comment was:

I didn't like it.

I know, I am probably the only person in the U.S. who didn't like it, well one of only two who didn't like it -- my wife didn't enjoy it at all either. 

I thought the late Keith Ledger did a great job playing a deranged, preposterous character and will probably receive a posthumous Academy Awards nomination.  That was about the only positive thing I could say about the movie, which isn't exactly ringing praise.  Here's why I didn't like it.

1.  They have ruined my Batman.  He's not my Batman, he's just the Batman I grew up with when I read his comic books whenever I could get my hands on one.  The Batman of old was a charter member of the Justice League of America, a good guy along with Superman, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern.  They have now remade him into a neurotic, confused super hero who doesn't know if he is a good or bad guy and the public isn't sure either.  I sent an sms to our son when the movie was over, saying, "I want my Batman back!"

2.  The movie was full of gratuitous violence.  I don't mind make=believe violence, but this violence was never-ending and had no real purpose that I could understand.

3.  The Joker's character was omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.  In other words, he was, as I stated earlier, preposterous.  I have seldom seen a movie that had so many calamities and setbacks for the good guys at the end of something or someone that was pure evil. But not credible evil.  We never found out what his story was and where he came from, or how he was able to pull off all those dastardly deeds. 

4.  The movie was too long.  It could have ended at the two-hour mark and I would not have been disappointed.

The best thing about going was that we went early and didn't pay full price.  I think I'll go back and see the first of this new Batman sequels, Batman Begins, and mourn what could have been a good series of sequels.  I went back looking for the woman who sold us the tickets, but she was gone, probably in the next showing of what we found to be a total waste of time.