And by His stripes, we are healed.

From birth to death, life is about transition and growth. But life is as finite as the eternity which awaits us as followers of Christ is infinite. Two years ago this April a grand change took place when I rose from the waters of baptism to a new world and a new life in Christ. In short order, He restored my heart, soul, family, and my faith.

The past year has been difficult for me. The Lord lead me away from the church where I found Him waiting for me with open arms. He also peeled away the fellowship and support structure I clung to so dearly to in those early days of my walk with Him as Covid happened and I watched helplessly as the doors of the churches began to close.

The message was clear… Cling to Him. Depend on Him. Focus on Him.

I didn’t obey like I should have. I have not been a good and faithful servant. I have continued to fight the sin in my life as best I could. I have begged for wisdom, guidance, hope. I have plead for my paths to be straight again. Even as He brought my father home for the last time, I thanked Him for the 41 years I was blessed to share with my dad.

I feel like saying that I am in a period of transition right now would be both an overstatement and an understatement in the same shallow breath… Looking back through the years, so much has changed. I have fallen, risen, feared, and grown. Now though, I see so many options before me wherever I turn, that my faith is challenged. I clear one crossroad only to find another.

It is that realization which brought me to my knees in prayer tonight. Loud, clear, vocal prayer. A one on one conversation with God that wasn’t merely my daily supplication and thanksgiving within the confines of my own mind, but for the first time in many months I was speaking out loud on my knees to the God who saved me, and has promised me salvation.

As I made my requests and gave thanks, my knees dug into the floorboards beneath me. I held my hands together and spoke to the very God of creation whose words brought forth life from Genesis through Revelation. I prayed for wisdom, I prayed for guidance, I prayed in thanksgiving, and I prayed for fellowship.

As I ended my prayer and slowly rose up from the floor, I looked at my knees and saw how stripes had formed on my kneecaps from pressing into the 100 year old gaps in the boards.

5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

It has been months since I have prayed like that. I do not feel that there is any coincidence that at this time, Passion Week, I have begun to turn back to the Lord my God and turn to Him fiercely. Just this past Sunday, Pastor Jack Hibbs discussed the origin of Palm Sunday, as Jesus returned to and wept for His city, Jerusalem.

Two years ago, at this time – God spoke loud and clear to me after I turned to him, as the pastor asked in reference to Matthew 21:12-13, to think about what tables needed to be overturned in my life and my path of restoration began.

12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”

Matthew 21:12-13

It is no coincidence that here I sit 2 years later and the same question is being asked of me. What tables do I need to overturn in my life? What has my life of prayer become? What fears have I allowed into the temple of Christ that is my body and soul? What sin have I tolerated instead of casting out? What junk have I allowed to accumulate in my life to fight my discontentment (hat tip, Pastor Jason Ham) in place of the stripes which healed me?

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:10-13

I lost focus, even within my faith, through my prayer and supplications, my focus slowly but surely turned from the Lord. Even as I benefitted from the blessings He has provided, I dug in deeper and focused on my discontentment instead of Him who has provided for me the salvation from that very pain, aggravation, fear, and pride.

Father God please guide me, grant me wisdom, help me to strengthen my focus on you and please surround me with good and faithful servants of your son Jesus Christ that will help to keep my path straight in Your will, as I help them to do the same. Please forgive my sins and restore me. In Jesus name, amen.

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Justice League – Zakk Snyder Cut

When I first heard that Joss Whedon was taking over 1997’s Justice League in light of a family tragedy with Zakk Snyder, I was a little excited. He’d done good things with the MCU, and after Batman V Superman (which I did enjoy for the most part) – I was curious to see what route he’d take.

I also enjoyed 1997’s Justice League, but nobody could deny how disjointed it was. It felt rushed, overloaded with plot points and minimal character development. Things that absolutely required more development were cut short (ie Flash bursting through Bruce Wayne’s monitor, and his nightmare of a dark future).

Still, it possessed enough story and Whedon’s humor that it wasn’t a total train wreck.

I caught the Zakk Snyder cut of the film the other night, and within the first 10 minutes I knew I was in for a treat. Starting with the 4:3 format of days gone by which allowed me to focus specifically on what Snyder wanted me to, the plot which was ignited by the death of Superman as opposed to the obligatory mourning of 1997… It felt like the opening to Watchmen.

What followed was a near fully explored story, an epic story that was paced and developed more like a Lord of The Rings film than a comic book film. This wasn’t remotely like the loose MCU clone of 1997, and it lacked the blinding and wildly deconstructed feel of both Batman V Superman and the 1997 film. This is what we get when an artist shares his vision.

To be honest – I did miss some of the humor and light-hearted nature of 1997, but that was more for my own biased fan service, and this film did not require the distraction of laughter to gloss over the shortcomings in direction. Also, Cyborg doesn’t say “booyah” once, but I digress. As a whole the movie just plain works, and entertains – until the end.

Spoilers ahead.

The main plot terminated spectacularly. I was not disappointed by any means with the way the story ended, with Darkseid committing to getting the job done “the old way.” After that, we get an epilogue, some leads into future installments, that’s fine. I’m talking about the future scene which took a concept I looked forward to after reading the Injustice comics and ruined it.

Injustice was a series created to support the video games where various DC heroes and villains beat the crap out of each-other. At the root of it, Joker fools Superman into hallucinating that Lois Lane is a threat, and in the midst of the delusion, Superman kills Lois. Kal-El snaps, heads back to Earth and violently executes Joker. What follows is tyrant Superman.

Batman unites members of the Justice League who haven’t aligned with Superman to overthrow the new regime and defeat Superman. I never actually played the game, but the comic was excellent. Now whether Snyder tapped this concept for the future scene or not, one simple thing absolutely ruined it for me.

Jared Freaking Leto.

I cannot put into kind words just how much I disliked his portrayal of the clown prince of crime. Every other cinema iteration from Cesar Romero through Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger possessed a madness salted with dark humor. Leto’s Joker was like visiting Hot Topic while on LSD.

I’ve been annoyed with characters in the past because the actor did a great job. Leto’s Joker? I was annoyed with him because every time he showed up on screen the movie came to a dead stop. IMHO Mark Hamill, voice of the animated Joker, nailed the deep, dark, laughing madness of the character like no other…. Leto? Great Value Brand Criminal Mastermind.

So when I saw a now long-haired kool-aid mouthed Joker alive in this dystopian future where Darkseid has won and has control over Superman, I honestly did not care what was going on or whether my Injustice itch would be scratched at some point on the silver screen. As far as I’m concerned, casting for nearly every other hero and villain in the DCEU was perfect.

I would love to see Snyder get green-lit to continue to develop the DCEU, but please… Get Superman to punch a hole through Leto in the first 60 seconds… and never, ever let Joss Whedon near it again. That is all.

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Ephesians 5:11-14

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”

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Philippians 1:12-14 NIV

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

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Farewell, Rush.

17 He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
But a false witness, deceit.
18 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.
19 The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment.

Proverbs 12:17-19

I started to get interested in politics when I was a teenager. I’d already covered the first Gulf War for a project in school when I was 10 or 11. I remember the yellow ribbons around the trees, and the outpouring of support for the troops from my family and pretty much every adult I knew at the time. My upbringing by two hard working and loving parents in addition to the days events contributed to a frame of thought that didn’t quite mesh with my peers.

I got my first job when I was 13. It was a summer job out in Brewster, NY. At the office where my father worked in IT, I was doing data entry, fixing fax machines, generally being an office gopher. Every day we’d sit in his old Chrysler and drive the 90 minutes there and back, and part of the drive included listening to the Rush Limbaugh show. It was something that brought us together – a shared mind and many shared hours discussing politics.

Honestly, I cut my teeth on Conservative talk radio in the early 90’s. Bob Grant, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey, maybe a few others stuck out but I can’t recall their names. They didn’t shape my thinking, but what they did accomplish was a reinforcement of how I was raised, the values my parents instilled in me – and an idea of what the truth was and how that truth tended to come off as almost… backwards to those around me.

I’ve listened to Rush for nearly 30 years now. Throughout the years he helped to keep my political path straight, well before I handed over my life to Christ. There’s a reason that so many folks who listened to his show over the years – whether they agree with his opinions or not – will keep him in their thoughts. He was a man who fully embraced his God given talent of communication, and he did it well!

Spending time with my Dad and talking politics was one of our things. That I basically grew up listening to Limbaugh with my Dad is why his fight against and eventual succumbing to cancer had such a strong effect on me as a person. Through all his public and personal battles, his fans stuck with him and greatly appreciated the perspective he offered. He’ll be missed by millions of listeners, and I can only imagine the conversations he is having right now.

God bless you and your family Rush, you will be missed.

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I Made a Thing – RetroPie

Behold, my Rapsberry Pi 4 running RetroPie.

Raspberry Pi 4B with 8GB of RAM running PieOS (Linux) and RetroPie for emulation.

Raspberry Pi has been around for nearly 10 years now. It’s a tiny computer the size of a business card. This one is quad core, 8GB of RAM, USB 3.0, HDMI, and 64GB of storage from a Samsung MicroSD card. Folks use these for any number of things from supporting a remote desktop, to home automation, software development, or in my case – emulation.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of classic gaming. My retro gaming setup is currently a collection of multiple consoles – Atari 2600, NES, SNES, and the Sega Genesis – hooked up to an old fashioned CRT television. What this will allow me to do is retire those consoles from regular use, wear and tear. I’ll break them out for special occasions, but this little box will takeover.

Not kidding, this thing is tiny.

While there are plenty of pre-built options out there, I wanted to do this one myself from scratch. My long-term plan now is to build an actual arcade style cabinet with the aforementioned CRT and this device as the beating heart of it. Thankfully I’ve got access to pretty much every woodworking tool I’d need to get that job done.

In total – I spent roughly $150 to build this with parts purchased from Microcenter in Paterson, NJ…

After a brief setup and copying the ROMs over, I was in business. I did run into a few issues along the way, as the video card doesn’t support more than 60hz refresh rate and my monitor defaulted to much higher than that. A little hackery and all was well. Also, some other roms/emulators I’m working with don’t play well with the ARM CPU. Still sorting that.

It’s not perfect – can be more Plug & Pray than Plug & Play, but it’s a new toy, runs Linux, and I’m now considering implementing these elsewhere for home automation and the like after seeing just how easy they are to setup.

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Jeremiah 6:16

Thus says the Lord : “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it. ’

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Never Defend Yourself.

We’re all born with a desire to defend ourselves. And if you insist upon defending yourself, God will let you do it. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God, He will defend you. –A.W. Tozer

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I am blessed

Looking back at the video I shared last night, and the massive pile of CDs my dad already converted and I need to go through, all I can say is that I am blessed.

Nothing but God is eternal. One day the people you love will join Him in eternity. One day you will leave the ones you love behind as you pass on from this life to join Him.

Cherish every moment with the ones you love while you are both here on the Earth. When you look back to those whom have passed before, do not waste time on grief.

Do not let the grief rob you of the joy of knowing that the ones you love have finally obtained a peace that we shall never truly understand.

Focus on the good they brought to your life, do not waste your days on pain that will not follow you through that narrow gate at the end. Find joy in their passing and their peace.

I know as I pour through these collected memories, I may not take my own advice. I’m sure at moments, I will absolutely grieve. Most of the time though, I will seek the joy in every captured moment.

I will thank God, for He has blessed me with the family I have, the father I had, and this life I live.

In Jesus name, amen.

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“That’s My Boy”

When I was 6 years old, my dad worked for a very big company based out of Peapack, NJ. Right now I think the massive old campus is owned by Pfizer. Anyhow, every year they had a “family day” where the company hosted events, games, rides, you name it – for all the employees and their families.

In 1985 they offered to take a quick video of your kid (me) in case they were kidnapped. Photos were useful, but videos captured voices, mannerisms, etc… Anyhow, my mom dug up the tape today and the VCR to PC tool my dad used. Maybe it’s just me but seeing my 6 year old self being a complete and utter goofball had me cracking up. Hearing my father laugh as I goofed off was audible joy.

I had to crank the volume at some points to hear what my folks were saying, my mom said “one day your kids are going to see this” to which I respond “are you crazy?” But then I hear my dad say while laughing “that’s my boy!”

I love you Dad.

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