When You hear,

I have a temper.

My father had a temper, so when mine comes out, I know where I got it. About 10 years ago I asked my Dad to use his angry voice to see if it still worked. That low, guttural roar sent chills up my 30 year old spine. Thankfully I haven’t heard that voice in decades outside of my curious request, but that’s the power of anger, it leaves a mark.

There’s a very specific trigger for my temper. It’s not when I don’t get my way. It’s not when someone wrongs me. It’s not when someone hurts me. It’s when someone wrongs someone I love. It’s when someone I love does something wrong. If I care, I am quick to anger. Drop of a hat, flip of a switch, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, raw, pure, anger.

There’s a time and place for anger in life, but I’ve learned over the years that when I get angry, I am usually wrong. Anger hasn’t accomplished a thing for me in life other than scaring people I care about, and driving away others who might seek my council for fear of an angry response. For me, it just does not work.

I got some news early this morning and I snapped. My already skyrocketing blood pressure was boiling over. Someone I love did something wrong. Someone I love was wronged. Where the me of only a year ago would have changed out of his Voltron pajamas, jumped into his truck and sought seething recompense…

Instead I prayed for the crystal clarity of a command from God. I prayed for guidance.

I sat and prayed in the darkness and while I wasn’t receiving an immediate response to my prayer, my anger slowly waned. My heart slowed. The cortisol levels started to drop. I was still angry, but my previous urge to jump in the truck and bring the justice only a pissed off Lithuanian can deliver at 5am faded.

There’s a bible next to my bed. I picked it up, and without looking, flipped to a page. Chronicles 6:21. I began to read. Ok… ok…. ok…. “when You hear, forgive.”

Boom. The crystal clarity of a command from God. Respond with love, respond with forgiveness, do not respond with anger. I’m still not sure what the overall outcome of this situation will be (I hope you forgive my vagueness at the moment)… but I know my place now.

forgive.

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Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789

Folks, many people have many opinions as to the origin of Thanksgiving, the meaning of Thanksgiving, the truth of Thanksgiving. The origin of this holiday, created in a declaration by then President of The United States, George Washington in 1789, was to give thanks to God for our many blessings as a nation. What follows is that declaration. You can see the original on mountvernon.org.

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.”

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.”

“Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.”

George Washington.

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Philippians 4:8 ESV

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
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Philippians 3:12‭-‬16 ESV

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

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No, Ford, NO! (grabs spray bottle)

I just saw a reveal of the new Ford Mustang Mach-E and died inside a little. What happened to the passion of car design? Ford has decided that it’s fully electric vehicle will be called a Mustang. What we get is the end result of a Tesla 3 and Tesla X combined in a fever dream with a few Mustang-ish details like a sticker-charged Civic from 1995.

H/T Jalopnik for this image.

Where’s the innovation??? When the Prius first came out, a real hybrid with solid MPG – its design (based on a Toyota Echo) really didn’t impress. It was a tool, an appliance. The next generation followed, and then pretty much every hybrid 4-door looked like the 2nd gen Prius. The design was meh, but it’s a commuter car. It was as bold as potato salad.

Po
Ta
To
Salad.

Mistake 1? Calling it a Mustang. Ok, so Ford is taking a page from the Tesla playbook. They came out with a car. On paper, I’m certain it has great statistics. It may even blow the doors off a Mustang. It’s not a Mustang. A Mustang is bold, it’s obnoxious, it’s groundbreaking. This car may be groundbreaking for Ford, but it’s a step backward for Mustang.

Tesla came along with some really fantastic design IMHO, they’ve revolutionized electric car design and performance to the point I’m seriously considering putting one in my driveway next to my 200k mile Silverado. GM brought us the EV-1…

A time-capsule for the 90’s…

Which was shelved in favor of the almighty push-rod. In that market gap and more than a few years later came Tesla, and they give us this:

Pretty!

In a generation where the theme of everything seems to be a reboot or a sequel, Tesla gave us an entirely new franchise. In some ways the design language could be considered dated, but take any other 100% electric car in that price range, put it side by side, which one looks like the designers had a full 8 hours of sleep the night before?

Now I’ll admit, in a few cases other manufacturers are catching up but again – as far as I’m concerned, it’s Tesla’s game to lose at this point. Manufacturers need to be bold, they need to take chances, not reboot, not reimagine, and certainly not slap the Mustang nameplate on a gray market Tesla. Honestly? I can only think of one nameplate that would be best.

That’s right, the venerable Ford Escort. If Ford could turn the Taurus into a full-size sedan, they can take the Escort and turn it into another bland crossover. We still remember when they slapped the Mustang name on a Ford Pinto, and called it the Mustang II… never again.

I swear I can see tears under those headlights.

I hope the new effort is successful. I hope Ford sells this and many more electric vehicles. I hope the market gets flooded enough that the prices can come down. What I hope for most of all though, is if you’re going to name a new product, that the design passes the smell test.

The Mach-E is not a Mustang. The Mustang is not an appliance, and if the design must be THAT close to something as bold as a Tesla, then it should be BOLD. This just… is not.

What do you think?

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Matthew 5:37 ESV

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

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A Prayer for My Father.

Today my father told me that he has cancer. It’s not his first run in with the disease. Maybe 10 years ago he fought bladder cancer, endured the treatment, and won. He’d gone back for regular checkups and monitoring to make sure everything was still OK.

Last week he told me that the doctors had found a spot on his lung. I didn’t think much of it. He’s 83, long out of warranty, who knows what it could be. I didn’t worry. I prayed. Every night I’d pray for the doctors to be granted wisdom so they could make the correct diagnosis and treatment for whatever was ailing my dad.

Today I found out that he has lung cancer, and that it was in his lymph nodes too. Now moments like these, I’d like to think that I’m the type of guy who would take a step back, take stock, a deep breath, and not worry. Instead I lost my breath, stared at my phone in shock for what felt like minutes. I went to go step outside and call, a friend stopped me.

She said “don’t call him like this. You panicking won’t help anyone.” She was right, so I sat and wept for a few minutes. I mentioned how much I’d like a drink right now, how in the past when things got difficult or emotionally draining, I’d break out the bourbon and sip it until I was either asleep, or no longer cared about what was bothering me.

I sat, got my bearings, and called my father. He told me what was going on, we laughed, he seemed in good spirits and mentioned that “acceptance” was part of why he felt the way he did. He didn’t sound worried or scared, although I’m sure that had to be in there somewhere. He was having something to eat and one of his “cheap beers.”

I got off the phone with him, and prayed. If he can keep his cool, so can I. I’d had plans to attend the leadership pathway course at Grace tonight, so I hopped in the truck and started driving. I think I made it about a mile before I started weeping again. I used to be a guy who sat on his emotions, I’m definitely not that guy anymore.

As I drove and the tears fell, I prayed. I thanked God for giving me 40 years with my father. I asked God to please give me a few more. “I’m not ready” I said. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready. When I was a little kid, I noticed that my parents were older than the other kids parents. They had me when they were in their early 40’s. I was a surprise.

It’s not what little kids should think about, mortality. Kids should focus on having fun, getting in trouble, breaking bones, making mistakes. Instead, every time my father slept I’d make sure he was still breathing. A couple years ago, I was helping my father split wood and we had one of those heart to heart conversations that we could only have as men.

I mentioned to him what I just said you you all, that as a kid, I knew my parents were older. Sitting here at 40, they really weren’t, but to a little kid like me, they were ancient. He started to get choked up as he spoke of his father. His father passed when he was 35 years old. At 83 he’s outlived pretty much every member of his extended family.

Still, he told me about how when his father slept, when he was a child – he’d constantly check to make sure that his dad was still breathing. For the first 30 years or so of my life I went head to head with my father. I didn’t quite “get” him. He was very old fashioned. What my friends got away with, I was chastised heavily for.

It wasn’t until I read his autobiography that I started to understand him. Raised in an orphanage because his parents couldn’t afford to raise him themselves, he grew up in a way and a place that no child should ever have to. What he endured at the hands of the church would be enough for anyone to walk away from the church and God.

Every other Sunday growing up, he brought me to Church. I didn’t get it. I sat in the pews and played with my hot wheels. As I got older I’d sit and listen, but I still didn’t get it. Sit, stand, kneel, shake hands, morals, structure, life. When I finally got a taste of freedom at 18, I ran away from the church like I was on fire.

Even in my rebellion though, I never really got into too much trouble. The morals and structure my father handed down to me was soaked into my very bones. Decades later when I would turn back to God and give my life to Jesus Christ, my father looked on. He used to ask me why he never heard God like I did. I didn’t really have an answer.

Still, I wanted everyone to feel the revival that I felt. My parents had been drifting from their church for some time, but part of me hoped that if I could testify to them of my experiences, and the place where I found God waiting for me, that they might just join me. 83 years old and my father never heard God, until that Sunday where he joined me.

“Stay with me” the pastor said. “Stay on the phone. Stay with me.” Stay with God. He’s almost there. He had just discussed the trials of Job and the hardships he endured… how through them all he never let go of his faith in God. As the tears welled up in my fathers eyes, he heard God that day, and finally knew that God hadn’t forgotten about him.

I see what my father went through all these years, and how despite every obstacle, he maintained his faith in God… and I finally understood him. He raised me the best he could. He raised me with hope and faith, and he lived to see me called back to Christ. Thank you God. Thank you Jesus.

Thank you for every single blessed day with my father, good, bad, and in between. Thank you.

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Isaiah 35:4 ESV

Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
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Dark Fate, Bright Future for The Franchise

I think my infatuation with The Terminator started back in 1991. I got invited with my cousins to see Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Now I hadn’t seen the first one yet, when it came out I was way too young, and any time it showed up on TV my folks stuck to their guns. Honestly it was probably the film that began my love of sci-fi in general.

What struck me most was the machine, more than the action, more than the story – that shiny metal hulk that saw things in infra-red and would never stop until it completed its mission. My school notebooks around the time T2 came out were filled with sketches of the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. Most 13 year olds wanted a Nintendo, I wanted a Terminator.

To this day my home is full of Terminator movies, Terminator comics, Terminator books, Terminator toys, Terminator props. Some time in the near future if I have my way I’ll have an Endoskeleton standing guard over my stuff. Needless to say, I’m a fan. That brings us to the point of this post – the chaotic Terminator Cinematic Universe.

Now the original film, and its sequel have been discussed to termination, so I’m not going to circle back. What I will say is that after seeing Terminator Dark Fate tonight, thank God for James Cameron. It was the first Terminator film since Judgment Day that actually “got it.”

The only film in the saga which I truly hated was T3: Rise of The Machines. In concept, it was great. It meant to show us that Judgment Day was inevitable. I laughed way too hard watching T3, it wasn’t meant to be a comedy. As a fan, it was very disappointing… not to mention the only member of the original cast to return was of course Arnold.

T2 had very subtle humor, like when John and the T800 are racing to save Miles Dyson, John asks the Terminator if he “gets it” – why he can’t just go around killing people. The T800 looks at John and makes this face:

I’d seen the movie a dozen times before I really saw that scene, and I cracked up. When T3 came along, the director obviously thought that the envelope of slapstick cyborg action hadn’t been pushed far enough yet, so we got this:

Then came Terminator Salvation. This one really piqued my interest. Rumored to be the start of a new trilogy, it finally brought us into the future war. In my opinion – it was the best Terminator film right up until when they blew the ending. Prior to that, it took chances. No Arnold. No Sarah. It was all about the war that John was raised to fight.

The original ending (spoiler alert) involved John Conner dying, killed by the same model T800 (CGI Arnold). Marcus would become Conner since at that point he wasn’t a resistance leader, and most of the people who actually knew who he was were killed in the final act. This ending also would have eliminated the paradox that was Kyle Reese. Apparently focus groups (none of which were actual fans) didn’t like it.

Instead, we got a post apocalyptic heart transplant. Trilogy terminated.

Then we have 2015’s Genisys. Now when I first saw Genisys , I overlooked its glaring flaw and saw it as a sorely needed boot to the ass of the franchise. Most main characters had been recast with new blood (and I will never, ever complain about Emilia Clarke, ever), as the existing timeline which survived 4 films was reset.

Again, excellent execution right up to the 3rd act where it all goes wrong. This time, Sarah is raised by a T800, trained to fight, knows about the future, so when Kyle arrives in 1984, Sarah ends up saving him. It’s still a good story right up until this:

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind humor when it’s done well, but the humor in this scene is drowned out by the simple fact that when Terminator Genisys ended, EVERYONE LIVED. Where was the sacrifice? Sarah lived, The T800 comes back as a T1000, and Kyle Reese lived. John Connor hasn’t been conceived yet, and not only is the story pushed along by a paradox, the very final scene involves adult Kyle establishing that very paradox by having a chat on the farm with young Kyle. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

While it bugs me that the ending of Genisys was botched so badly that it didn’t even warrant continuation in comics (as was the case with Salvation), they were taking real chances with the franchise and absolutely blew it. They might as well have made it PG13. Oh wait, THEY DID. No wonder Arnold looked so uncomfortable in that shot.

So we come to Dark Fate. When the first trailer dropped, I was excited. Terminators who look like ordinary people! Sarah Connor is back! Explosions! Old Arnold! I was cautiously optimistic as I’d been burned before. The big difference here? James Cameron as involved. Not as a director, but just that his name was attached was enough to get me in a theater on opening night.

The rumor mill was abundant here, not only were James, Linda, and Arnold back, Edward Furlong has a cameo too. The band was getting back together, and it was going to be good. After seeing it, all I’ve got to say is…

Cameron and Miller went out of their way to avoid the mistakes made in T3, T4, and T5. There is action. There is a tolerable amount of humor. There is sacrifice. There is heart and redemption. There are also tons of Easter eggs for guys like me who still doodle the occasional T800 when they’re bored. Dark Fate stands on its own, and is the first film from the franchise that is a worthy successor to Terminator and Terminator 2.

To address the cybernetic elephant in the room though, this movie is not WOKE. It isn’t a female only reboot for WOKE people. It’s a Terminator film, probably the only true to the franchise Terminator film in nearly 30 years. In the original movie, Lance Henriksen was originally cast to play the Terminator:

This guy.

They chose him initially because the Terminator wasn’t supposed to look like a 300lb Austrian body builder, the Terminator was supposed to look like anyone, an infiltrator capable of fooling humans well enough to kill them. Over the years, the machines have been portrayed by many people who were not the aforementioned Austrian. On top of that, do you recall who killed the first Terminator in 1984?

(protip: not a dude)

Both the heroes and villains of this franchise have been men, women, children of every single race, color, and creed. Sarah Connor in Dark Fate is what you’d expect a strong woman with a history of killing Terminators to be after 28 years of doing that job well. This movie was expertly written, exquisitely acted, and an absolute treat for the fans who have stuck with the franchise for 35 years.

I truly hope it does well and warrants a new story to tell in the vast (and mostly unexplored) universe that is The Terminator.

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The Passion.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of The Christ.” Now I hadn’t actually seen this film for a good 15 years. I think I got it from Netflix on DVD at some point (it’s been a while). Back then I’m sure I “believed” but generally didn’t care. I think if anything, all the complaints of antisemitism made me curious. In the end, at that point in my life – it was just a movie.

When I was 25, I was busy clicking off every checkbox on the grand list of what NOT to do when it came to staying in the Lord’s good graces. Getting drunk, poisoning my body and mind with drugs, alcohol, pornography and fornication. You name it, I did it. Boy, I really thought I was living too. 15 years later, I am a different man. The path was long, but here I am at 40, I love and fear God above all else.

I’m still a sinner. I still do things that turn me away from God. The important thing is now I actively work to head off that sin and repent, turning back to my Creator. At times I’m still quicker to speak and anger than listening… I still succumb to irrational fears. Those are the times I realize veering off my path. There hasn’t been a single time that being prideful or fearful did NOT bite me in the ass.

My initial thought when I picked it up, was how it might impact the man I am today. I was scared, to be honest. Every time I saw it pop up in my queue, I selected something else to watch. Something with action. Something funny. I guess I needed to open a doorway into it, so I watched “The Art of Racing in The Rain.” If you’re a dog lover, or simply like a well written and expertly acted drama – I highly recommend it.

The Art of Racing in The Rain follows the story of Enzo, a Golden Retriever, and his master from being a puppy through to old age and looking forward to the next life. They weren’t overtly religious in the story, but you simply cannot deny the themes of love, marriage, sin, repentance, restoration, and hope woven throughout. Truth be told, once you look at the world through the eyes of Christ, you can’t see it any other way. Just how it is.

Once the movie was over (not giving any spoilers, seriously, watch it) the next in my queue was The Passion of The Christ. Ok, I’m in. My put my phone down, moved my laptop away, and committed to it. It’s one thing to hear the scripture interpreted for you by a preacher, or to read it from the Bible… It’s something else entirely to see it acted in front of you in high definition surround sound.

For the uninitiated, this movie covers the final 12 hours of Jesus’s life, from sweating blood at Gethsemane to his final breath on the cross, and His moment of resurrection. It. Was. BRUTAL. Watching soldiers laugh as they caned, then scourged Jesus (multi-ended whip with metal hooks on it)… Forced to carry his cross to Calvary (and seeing him embrace it). Beaten, tortured, ridiculed, yet even at the end praying for the men doing this to him.

That’s a very abbreviated summary, doesn’t even come close to describing what I saw. I knew what was coming the entire time, every moment covered in gruesome detail, and I WEPT. I’m not talking how I cried when the Terminator was lowered into the molten steel at the end of T2 Judgment Day, this was an ugly and emotionally draining cry. After seeing that representation… I finally get it, even more so than I thought I did before.

Jesus died for your sins! Such an easy thing to say, I don’t think many truly appreciate the gravity of what He endured for us. I couldn’t do it. Sacrifice my son for the sins of the world? In the heat of that moment I would sooner use my powers to annihilate his oppressors and free him. But I am most certainly not God… I’m just trying to follow His example. It’s not my job to understand, it’s my job to obey.

One message I took away from that film though… Something I need to take on myself, is to be more humble. Be humble like Jesus. I know I’ll never reach that standard, but I will try.

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

2 Corinthians 11:30

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