Sunday, February 12, 2012

It Wasn't Supposed to End This Way

A great voice. Good looks. Impeccable production. Commercial success. Universal acclaim. Financial fortune.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston.

A voice that has been silenced too soon.

She appeared to have everything. Everything that the world could give, that is. But it wasn't enough. All that money, popularity and success was not enough to feed the apparent hole in her soul.

We've seen it so many times before. So much success and so little fulfillment. Talent evaporated by drugs, alcohol and decay.

Her life and her death have become a cautionary tale. It should cause all of us to reflect on the meaning and the fragility of our own lives.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Job and Me

“So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:7-10 (ESV)

My recent health woes and hospitalization have brought me back to the pages of Holy Scripture to look for answers.

One of the places I looked was in the book of Job. According to the Bible, Job was a blameless, upright, and God-fearing man. Satan tested him by taking his possessions, his family and his wealth, all with God’s permission. During the course of our lives, all of us will receive similar tests--albeit not to the extent of Job.

When times of testing come, and they surely will, the most important thing is how we respond to them. Will we blame God? Will we curse Him? Or will faith triumph over fear?

James wrote: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (ESV)

In the Greek, the word steadfastness means endurance--the ability to withstand difficult circumstances.

One of the things that amazed me during my malady was the way that my faith sustained me in the middle of the storm.

I was not depressed or despondent. I was not fearful. I was able to endure. God put faith-filled people around me--family, friends and even Christian nurses--to help me get though this trial. My Christian friends prayed for me and I was lifted up by their prayers. The Lord brought me safely to the other side.

What have I learned? To trust God implicitly. To worship God unconditionally. To love God perfectly. To marvel in God’s sovereignty.

My experience amplified my fragility.

In the words of Peter: “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” I Peter 1:24-25 (ESV)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

I got to drive my car today. Big deal, you might say.

For me, this is huge!

It is the first time in about a month that I got to drive. Only my second trip since I left the hospital after cellulitis ravaged my right leg.

The first time, my wife drove me to Cleveland Clinic to see my doctor. This trip, I went to get some blood tests and to pick up a prescription. I also got some groceries while I was at the local Drug Mart.

The sun was shining. The temperature was perfect. And I drove solo. My leg felt strong.

I’ll never take mundane things for granted again.

I am just thankful to be alive. And I know that the King of the Universe is looking down on me. And He is smiling!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Coming to Terms With Mortality

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
(James 4:14 ESV)

It is amazing how fast the trajectory of your life can change. One day, you think you just have a sinus infection. A few days later, your temperature climbs to almost 104° and your leg starts to hurt. And a few days after that, you're flat on your back in a hospital bed being injected with very strong antibiotics for a bad leg infection and fighting for your life.

This is not a fictional account. This is what just happened to me.

I am 55 years old now, and rapidly approaching my 56th birthday. I've never been in the hospital since the day I was born. I've never even been to the emergency room before. Although I have several ailments, none of them has brought me to my knees-- until now.

As I hung between life and death, I was comforted by the fact that I had made a decision over 30 years ago that would determine my eternal destiny. The fact that I received Christ as my Savior has strengthened me and given me resolve, even in the face of impending peril. Being in the hospital is not easy, but I found it to be enlightening. Suddenly, I had to depend on others for my survival. Thankfully, the Lord put some really wonderful people around me to help me heal including a handful of Christian nurses.

As I recuperate at home, I am ever thankful to the Lord for bringing me through this. It put me in touch with my own mortality and made me realize that life is tenuous and we are but a vapor that appears for a while and then suddenly disappears.

Have you thought about your own mortality and eternal destiny? John 3:16

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Men Behaving Badly

As a Christian, I see world events through a different lens than most of my peers. One trend that concerns me is the almost daily parade of men behaving badly as seen in the media.

It seems to be fashionable these days to live with a bunch of “goddesses”, cheat on your wife with hookers and/or mistresses, marry underage girls, have secret children out of wedlock, and much more.

While this trend is not unique to our age, it seems to be garnering much more attention in our media-saturated world. The common theme is that bad behavior has consequences: loss of a spouse, a family, a career and a reputation.

What I see on my television is mirrored in the pages of Scripture.

David was a man who slept with another man’s wife, fathered an illicit child and had her husband killed in battle. Because of his actions, David saw the decimation of his family. Samson had a fondness for the wrong kind of women and it cost him his strength, his sight, and ultimately, his life.

Hopefully, eventually we will learn that a drop of pleasure is not worth an ocean of pain.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It is Time for Leadership

It is time. The time for leadership has come. The U.S. credit rating has dropped. The stock market is in a free fall. Unemployment is raging. A double-dip recession seems imminent. The house is on fire.

It is time for President Obama to sound the alarm. We need change we can believe in. And we need it now. No more polite diplomacy. No more getting along for the sake of getting along.

It is time to come up with a plan. A plan to get America working again. A plan to create a fair and sensible overhaul of the current tax system. A plan to protect our social safety nets and the less fortunate among us.

Call Congress back. Cancel your vacation.

The time has come!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back to 1971

I remember walking into the penthouse of the Statler Hilton hotel on a chilly night in October 1971. I was a young anti-war protestor delivering leaflets to fledgling prog rocker WNCR.

As I walked into the control room, I was intrigued by the ambience. Loud music blared from the large Electro Voice speakers mounted above the Gates Stereo Statesman console. Behind the mic was a bearded cat by the name of Jeff Gelb. He was really cool and allowed me to hang out with him. I ended up becoming an intern and fetched coffee and answered phones for Lyn Doyle's "People's Night on the Radio" show.

A week or two after I started, my first cousin, Carolyn Thomas walked in. I asked her what she was doing there and she asked me the same question! It turned out that she was working overnights!! (I also found out that Doyle was my cousin by marriage).

After WNCR moved to the Stouffer Building around December 1971, interns were exiled and I moved to WMMS working with Billy Bass and David Spero for a few months. It was amazing to watch them work.

I ended up back at WNCR in February of 1972 and had a chance to run the board and "ride gain" for Carolyn and Lee Andrews on occasion.

Those days were magical and I ended up in radio myself for over 20 years, working at stations in LA and Cleveland.