Joseph Avenue Christmas is the story of one man's journey to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just the birth of the babe, but the salvation of the soul. Set on the wintry streets of Rochester, NY it is a visit to the heart of that city and the hearts of some of its best and bravest people. From their good example, and the simple lessons of their own lives and faith, a troubled man finds on a dark Christmas Eve an escape from an increasingly failed life.
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The East Irondequoit Deputy Superintendent John Abbott talks with Bob Lonsberry about the Medley Centre and what the plans are for its future. Listen below...
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There is a story in the Bible about a handicapped man who sat by a pool of water.
It was in Jerusalem and for almost 40 years he had been crippled, broken and weak in body, unable to do what others did.
And he sat beside that pool of water hoping for a miracle.
The story is that periodically an angel would come and stir the water up, splash it or something. And the first person to step into the fountain after it had been troubled would be healed of his infirmities.
And so the sick and handicapped gathered there, waiting for the stirring of the pool and the chance to bathe in its healing waters.
But this guy had a problem.
He was too slow.
And that’s what he told Jesus.
One day, when the Savior was in town for a feast, he stood over the man and asked him if he wanted to be healed.
The man answered that he did, but he had no one to carry him to the waters. By the time he could crawl into the pool himself, others had already gotten there – the healing had been claimed.
So Jesus told him to get up.
He told him to get up, pick up his bedding, and walk.
And he was instantly healed, and able to do as he had been instructed. And on his way he went, carrying his bedding, presumably ecstatic at this miraculous gift of health.
Imagine it. Thirty-eight years of crippling handicap, and in an instant he was made whole. What a glorious thing to see.
And what an odd thing to ignore.
Because as he walked away with his bedding, he was accosted by others. Antagonistically, accusingly. It was the Sabbath, the holy day of rest, and it was against the Jewish law to do work. And that included carrying things around.
There was a rule, and this guy was breaking it, and everybody wanted to tell him about it.
They were seriously angry.
Somebody was going to get condemned over this.
It’s amazing, if you think about it. These people – who well knew this man’s history – saw the fruit of a miracle. A handicapped man walking about, completely whole. And yet they couldn’t see the miracle because they were incensed by the violation.
They couldn’t see the good because they were fixated on the bad. When they should have been rejoicing, they were busy judging.
Instead of asking how he came to be healed, or expressing amazement or shock, or sharing his joy, they saw a chance, an excuse, to criticize – and they took it.
They were so busy judging and condemning, they missed the grace of God.
I think a lot of us are that way.
We claim such a “right” to judge other people that we presume our entitlement is preeminent. If you have done something wrong, by our standards, then that wrong trumps everything else. It is the only consideration. It is all that matters.
What an impossible and unjust standard that is.
How poorly we ourselves would fare under such a standard.
How much good we are blinded to by our lust for seeing bad.
Too often this attitude of disqualification colors our perception of others. We judge people not by the good they do, but by the bad. Not by their strengths, but by their weaknesses. Their beauty is lost in our fixation on their warts.
The problem with that is, we all have warts.
None of us is perfect.
And while we all should constantly work to overcome our weaknesses and imperfections, it is usually wrong in the meantime to throw us away for being flawed.
In our relations with others, we ought to encourage the good more often than we condemn the bad. That is not an argument for permissiveness, it is merely a recognition of the reality of the human heart. You cannot chastise a man to glory, and you will get much further down the road of human progress by praising than by scolding.
Clearly, there are times to judge and condemn. Your desire to be positive must not be twisted into dishonesty. Bad things do need to be denounced, and people do occasionally need to have the riot act read to them.
But reproof must always be done in a spirit of love, with an eye toward change and improvement, not condemnation and rejection.
Because people are miracles, and they have the potential to be even more. And it would be a shame if our judgmentalism blinded us to that fact.
It would be a shame if our self-righteous desire to condemn our neighbor never allowed us to see him as God sees him – as a being as worthy and relevant and loved as we are.
If we can overcome our impulse to condemn the failings of others, who knows what miracles we will finally be able to see.
Senator Joe Robach talks with Bob Lonsberry to explain the STAR Program and answer any questions you might have. Listen below...
To learn more, go to http://www.tax.ny.gov/
I will obey the law.
By January 15, I will register my assault rifle with the New York State Police.
I hate the law, I recognize that it makes me a second-class American, I loathe the governor and the legislature that forced it upon me, and I am certain that it violates the Second Amendment.
But I will obey it.
After 11 months of thought and prayer, after having gone back and forth repeatedly, I have decided to submit.
Not because I am weak, but because I am strong, because the founding principles of this Republic are more dear to me than they are to the partisan tyrants who rule over me.
At issue is the New York Safe Act, the Cuomo gun ban, a middle-of-the-night gutting of the Second Amendment by the petty caesar on the Hudson. Exploiting the murder of children for political gain, Andrew Cuomo forced the most restrictive gun laws in the country on a state whose forefathers went to war to create this nation.
No more than seven bullets in a magazine, background checks for every ammunition purchase, state records created for every bullet sold, no transfer of assault weapons – even as part of an estate – and a mandatory registration of every assault rifle.
That last part has been hardest to swallow.
I bought my assault rifle in New York some 20 years ago. It was legal then, I have owned it legally since, and now, presto change-o, I can either turn it in, sell it out of state, or register it. And when I die, it goes to the state.
Those are the legal options.
The illegal options include simply not registering the gun, and continuing to keep it in my gun safe, or hiding it away somewhere.
For most of the last year, I have thought to do one of the last two things. Either that or find some place over the border in Pennsylvania where I could keep forbidden guns.
I hate this law, it is immoral, it is an assault to liberty, and it is none of the state’s damn business what guns I do or don’t own. In my mind, I have dreamt of a statewide wave of civil disobedience, where thousands and tens of thousands refuse to register their guns.
I do not know if that wave will happen or not.
But I have decided I cannot be a part of it. Not because I agree with the law, not because my opposition to it has ebbed, but because I believe that the only right way to go about things is to do the right thing the right way.
As a practical matter, there are more than enough people in local law enforcement who’d like to fry me that I’m pretty certain some cop of some stripe would have his nose in my gun safe in a heartbeat if it looked like I was ignoring the law in the slightest degree.
But my decision isn’t practical, it is philosophical.
I believe in rule of law. I believe we are partners in a social contract and until such time as a person disavows the social contract and comes out in open rebellion, the contract must be honored. The law must be obeyed. A good citizen must be a good citizen.
I don’t believe that a citizen is morally justified in picking and choosing the laws he obeys. My religion – which I’m notoriously bad at living – teaches that it is the duty of a Christian to obey the law.
Further, and most importantly, the necessity of obeying the law in a republic was forcefully explained by Abraham Lincoln in his famous address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois. He said that obedience to law must be our national religion, that it was the law which safeguarded our freedoms and that while we should passionately seek to repeal, change or derail the laws we think are wrong, as long as they are the laws we are duty bound to honor them.
In another speech, Lincoln expressed his repulsion at the Dread Scott decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, which said that escaped slaves were not people, they were property. He said the decision was wrong, immoral and unconstitutional, and that people of conscience were obligated to overturn it, but they were obligated to obey it until they did.
Our system must be orderly, it cannot tolerate individuals usurping or nullifying the legislative process and the rule of law.
Sadly, our society has had too much abandoning of that principal in recent years. We have agreed to ignore and flagrantly violate our immigration laws, we have accepted fairly broad-based lawlessness as the norm of our day.
But I cannot do that.
I will obey the law. My governor may not. My president may not. But I will.
I am going to be a good citizen, even if I live under an oppressive government.
I will follow the constitutional principles of the Founders, even if the government does not.
I will obey the law.
Until I can stick it up the backside of the dictatorial governor who passed it.
Bob and Phil discuss the "woosification" of America and how our football should remain king in the nation's sports world. Listen below...