Tag Archives: Stryper

Sorry

Sorry, doesn’t always make it starry. Maybe next time be more charming, so you don’t have to say sorry. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on those lyrics to the new song “Sorry” by Stryper – one of my two favorite Christian bands of all-time (Bride being the other). The words aren’t all that elaborate, but they are straightforward and true. Our sorries aren’t always warmly accepted, so it’s certainly better if we can avoid having to apologize at all. However, a real problem facing this nation today is the fact that so many of us are unwilling to say the S word.

President Trump appears incapable of saying sorry. This isn’t just a Republican problem though. Hillary Clinton could only muster a partial apology, concerning her infamous e-mails, and only after months of continuous prodding to do so. I think what our country is currently sorely missing is humility. What if our politicians, bosses and co-workers, and even our own families decided to embrace this seemingly unconventional notion of humbling ourselves amongst our fellow man? Could we at least try? I’ll even go first.

First and foremost, my apologies to God. I’m sorry for the anguish and pain my Lord and Savior voluntarily endured on my behalf, even though I understand His unjust crucifixion was necessary for a lost world. The ridicule, torture, and inhumane (temporary) death Jesus suffered on the cross was God’s quintessential plan of providing a way for one day bringing all of His children who believe in Him home. I’m also sorry for the numerous times, whether blatantly or unexpectedly, I’ve taken advantage of God’s never-ending forgiveness. I know I’m not alone in this, for the Apostle Paul can surely empathize with my plight based on a portion of his letter to the Romans. Paul wrote, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) God’s continuous goodness, in spite of our humanistic ways, is truly a mystery to me.

My apologies to my lovely wife. I often tell her I was put on this earth to make her happy, yet too many times those flashy words are meaningless when thoughts of myself take center stage. Similar to Kanye grabbing the microphone away from Taylor Swift, during her acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009, I too sometimes allow my ego to get in the way of her important moments. I’m sorry about that. The missus knows my faults and insecurities better than anyone, yet she treats me like I’m something special. I’m sorry for the times I haven’t returned the favor. She really deserves so much more. I’ve said it before, I married up.

I’m sorry for the times I’ve been a little harsh with my son. As he’s gotten older, the less he and I are alike. And there’s nothing wrong with that. My wife and I tried to raise our boy to be an independent free thinker, and now to my slight chagrin I believe we succeeded. Today, many of my impassioned views, on a wide variety of topics, are nowhere close to my son’s chosen outlook on life. Again, it’s okay that my child’s worldview aligns much closer to that of his grandfather’s than with mine. However, it’s not always easy to have a calm conversation, even with someone so dear to your heart, when there’s not a whole lot you can agree on. Nonetheless, I’m sorry to my son for the times I’ve probably made him feel as though his thoughts, concerns, and opinions weren’t as important as mine.

My apologies to my parents and to my siblings for the times I’ve let them down as a son and as a brother. I haven’t always been the most generous person with my time. I realize I’ve been somewhat removed from the family, both literally and figuratively, since moving to Arizona. I’m sorry for being insensitive, nonflexible, and short-tempered at times. I’m also sorry to past classmates I never paid any attention to, friends I drifted away from, by not making a concerted effort to retain them, and a couple of teachers whose lives I made more difficult than need be. I’ve now had over 50 years on this earth to have possibly offended others I am not even aware of, either by my actions or with my words, but I’m sorry to them just the same.

The truth is none of us could ever try hard enough to overcome our sinful nature, embedded at birth, all on our own. “Trying” can only take us so far when targeting holiness, and inevitably all will fall short. (Heck, I’ve been trying to incorporate an abs workout into my weightlifting routine since January – with zero luck.) Regardless of one’s willpower, complete self-control is simply unattainable in this life. The good news is we can come close to that goal – but only with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. He will help guide us toward holiness when we spend an abundance of quality time in the Word and in prayer with our Heavenly Father. Traits of Jesus will naturally pour out of us when we’re in a solid relationship with Him.

Just the other day I was channel surfing when I came across a TV evangelist saying something I found to be quite profound. He said something like this: the more we are like Jesus – the less we have to say. (That might be a little challenging for an aspiring writer such as myself.) I assume the preacher’s statement meant that an active Jesus follower would remain silent rather than argue, or engage in gossip or coarse dialog. However, I possibly could’ve misinterpreted the pastor’s intended message due to my clinically undiagnosed “flipping” problem; By the time I was done scanning the other channels to see what else was on, the evangelist was finished with his message. Nevertheless, I think the theory of having to say sorry less often, when one becomes charming and resembles Jesus more, holds true. Until then…who wants to go next?

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Unpatriotic?

Let me be 100% politically incorrect and probably viewed as unpatriotic by many. This past Memorial Day I did not give the United States Armed Forces even one iota of a thought. That certainly wasn’t due to the media’s lack of trying. I quickly became desensitized to the numerous commercials, airing on television, and the print advertisements, found in the local newspaper, honoring those who have served in the United States Military. To me, Memorial Day is a time for enjoying some burgers on the grill and then gorging on several bowls of homemade ice-cream afterwards. It’s also the day I intentionally set aside each year to remember all of the people I’ve lost throughout my life.

Of course, I think of them many times during the year, but on Memorial Day I purposely attempt to envision their faces, one at a time, as I reflect on their unique personalities. I try to recall precisely what each individual meant to me while they were present on this earth. I fondly remember my grandma, two grandpas, two great-grandmothers, and a father-in-law. I think of my great-aunt, my great-uncle, some very special relatives, from my wife’s side of the family, a few acquaintances, and a friend. I believe only one of the aforementioned had ever served in the U.S. Military, but they all deserve to be remembered nonetheless.

The way in which those who have ever enlisted in the military are praised, in today’s society, is difficult to ignore when there’s multiple days, imprinted on every calendar, honoring those who have served their country. The annual designated days of celebration includes Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, Independence Day, and Memorial Day. Presidents Day and Flag Day were specifically designed to salute our past presidents and “Old Glory,” but somewhere along the way both days were erroneously converted into observances for our nation’s military. In recent years, even Thanksgiving Day has become somewhat distorted into a day that appears to be more about recognizing our armed forces than anything else. I’m referring to those publically aired messages, during the day’s football games, sent home from our military personnel overseas. We are bombarded with their greetings, to their families, which suggests Thanksgiving is at least partly about our U.S. Soldiers. Some holidays just aren’t about (nor should they be about) honoring our armed forces.

However, for anyone who does not think we have enough days throughout the year, for celebrating our military, the entire month of May is National Military Appreciation Month. I’m all for giving credit where credit is due although I do not believe all military personnel are heroes. There certainly are some, who are deserving of the “hero” title, but many are not (E.g. Bowe Bergdahl). Simply enlisting in the military, or becoming a police officer or a firefighter, for that matter, does not automatically make one a hero (contrary to popular belief). These people absolutely should be commended for their service to the rest of us. Undoubtedly, there are possible risks involved, with those chosen professions, but I would think the rewards would be even greater. Not many professions can offer an unfailing sense of pride, throughout the duration of one’s career, as does the previously mentioned occupations.

The word, hero, is greatly overused (and misused) these days when describing both organizations and individuals (E.g. Bruce…I mean Caitlyn Jenner). I think the adjective has become so diluted that its meaning has lost all significance. True heroes can be ordinary people who rise to the occasion to help their fellow man in need. Heroes can be those who rigorously fight hard to overcome adversity. Heroes can also be loving parents who’ll do whatever it takes to keep their family unit strong. Heroes surely are amongst us, but they’re not necessarily wearing uniforms. Remarkably, Jesus has less days of honor than the U.S. Military, stamped on our calendars, yet He is undeniably the greatest hero of them all.

I think the Fourth of July is the day to celebrate anyone who has ever served in our country’s armed forces. Independence Day is the foundation in which all other days of military observances are built upon. Every Fourth of July I proudly display the American flag, and I cannot help but discern an overwhelming sense of appreciation, more so than any other time of the year, for those who are willing to protect our freedom whenever called upon. I’ve also been known to listen to Stryper’s version of the “Battle Hymn Of The Republic,” on our nation’s birthday, and tearfully watch the pertinent Mel Gibson flick, The Patriot, in recognition of those who’ve ever served. Of course, I do devour grilled hamburgers, and homemade ice-cream, on Independence Day as well. So, am I unpatriotic? I don’t think so.


Stryper

I can only say, to those of you puzzled by the title of this blog, you are either too young, way too old, or possibly just not that familiar with exceptional music.  Stryper is a Glam Metal Christian band whose popularity peaked in the late ’80s, but who’ve continued to create relevant music still to this day.  Don’t be too embarrassed if you’ve never heard of this incredible group because I get the impression there are numerous people like you, living amongst us, who are in the same boat, although that doesn’t make it right.  I have a personalized license plate with the letters – STRYPR – as a tribute to the band, and I’m always amazed at the baffled expressions, found on the faces, of those I’ve noticed gazing at my plate.  They tend to survey the piece of metal as if they’re attempting to decipher some sort of secret code.

One afternoon, while stopped at a red light, I noticed a couple of teenage girls in the car behind me, and they were staring intently at my vanity plate.  They both started giggling, as they simultaneously whipped out their cell phones, and began taking pictures of my cherished license plate.  At least they hadn’t been texting while driving.  I wondered what was going on, as the teens were now laughing hysterically with their phones still fixated on my “rear end,” when it occurred to me perhaps they had misinterpreted my plate as meaning stripper.  I could finally see the humor in the situation since the duo must’ve concluded I was a middle-aged stripper who was bold enough to advertise my controversial profession.  I think the most amusing part of the incident is that my personalized plate is also a specialty plate which is inscribed with the motto, “In God We Trust.”  Maybe those girls thought I was proud to be “stripping for the Lord.”  Well, the Bible does say to be joyful in whatever work you do.

The word Stryper stands for Salvation through redemption yielding peace, encouragement & righteousness.  The backronym was crafted by the band’s drummer, Robert Sweet, and coincides with their famous logo engraved with the Bible verse Isaiah 53:5.  That passage of scripture states, “With his stripes we are healed,” and essentially means the whipping; hence, the stripes, the beating, and ultimately the crucifixion Jesus endured was intended to save those who believe in Him from damnation.  Stryper has been spreading this Good News, through their thought-provoking music, since 1980.  However, the group did take a long hiatus, in the ’90s, to pursue solo projects and other interests.  I fancy many types of music and artists – some wholesome for the soul and admittedly some not, but it’s truly refreshing having the option of listening to positive and inspirational lyrics when the mood strikes.

I have heard many excellent and powerful sermons in my lifetime, but the Stryper concert my wife and I attended in 1988, was the most uplifting experience I have ever encountered as a Christian.  The evening was actually very unsettling at first, when we  were confronted by several picketers, outside the venue’s entrance.  The protesters warned us not to go inside, insisting the concert awaiting us was the work of the devil, as they handed us some religious pamphlets.  The Reverend Jimmy Swaggart supposedly disapproved of Stryper’s style of music, so he had made a national plea for all Christians to picket at their concerts.  I think most of us are aware of what happened to the preacher shortly thereafter.  Rev. Swaggart was implicated in the first of two sex scandals, involving prostitutes, and was initially suspended before eventually being defrocked by the church.  I guess the good reverend never read Matthew 7:1-5, about judging others, or at the very least he decided not to take that passage of scripture to heart.

Maybe Mr. Swaggart should have noticed the log in his own eye before searching for a speck in his fellow man’s eye, and who was he to judge the ministry of Stryper anyway.  Regardless, I’m so thankful we chose not to heed his or the picketers advice because the concert was magnificent, and it utterly warmed my soul.  Although there wasn’t much preaching, coming from the stage, it wasn’t too difficult to know the band’s sentiments with songs like “In God We Trust,” and “To Hell With The Devil” blaring through the massive speakers.  The lead guitarist and vocalist, Michael Sweet, sporadically tossed miniature Bibles out into the crowd during the Christian rockers’ amazing performance.  Stryper ended their show with a heartfelt prayer for the souls of the entire audience and for everyone’s safe travels home.  What a night!  Now go, and be puzzled no more.