So what does that mean?

I was born in 1975, so I started to become aware of life and my surroundings by the time I was five and by the time the 80’s were done, I was starting high school.  To me, the quintessential 80’s kid.

So what does it mean to be an 80’s kid?

It could mean any of the following.

I remember when MTV first came on the air…and when it became big…and when my family got the new cable box just to try basic cable out…and when mistakenly we got a whole bunch of other channels free for a year.  (and yes, I remember trying to watch that one station through the fuzzy vertical bars) I remember my brother and I getting up early on Saturday morning to watch videos, you know really awful Ronnie Milsap and Rod Stewart videos and Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder doing Ebony and Ivory along with the occasionally awesome Michael Jackson or Iron Maiden video.

I remember MASH and Dallas and Bosom Buddies and Three’s Company in Prime Time.  I remember Howard Cosell and Don Meredith on Monday Night Football and even at an early age quite aware that some of these guys must be a little drunk.  I remember After School Specials and Nancy Reagan and Don’t Do Drugs and really scary guys from Prison coming to our school to Scare Us Straight!

I remember the day Reagan got shot.  I was walking home from Adam Stabell’s house when my dad brought my brother’s home from school in the old wood paneled station wagon and they yelled out of the windows that “Reagan got Shot” and we watched the few seconds of that footage on our thousand pound wood paneled television over and over again the rest of the day.

I remember trying to sneak in watchings of the Benny Hill show on Sunday nights.  Why?  I knew that my mom and dad thought it was innappropriate and that was enough to make it rather curious to me.  An entire show about a British pervert.  With a kooky song.  The 80’s.

I remember when the president would speak and we kids would run around the house screaming our heads off because there would be nothing to watch on TV that night.

And this is exclusively for people from Omaha.  I remember Peony Park the sandy beach swimming pool and the coolest arcade.  I remember thinking that kids who were awesome at pin ball were just about the coolest kids in the world.  I thought Pinball Wizard by the Who was so cool.  I remember my brother’s talking to me about Sprite Night and how someday I would get to go there (but I never did since it shutdown).  And I remember getting the all day ride pass on the day of a Smithereens concert, then me and a buddy finding an opening in the fence, trying to crawl through, only to find that a girl was urinating on the other side.  Frown.

I remember leaving by house on my bike for what appeared to by days on end.  We didn’t have to check in but we did have to be back by dinner time.  I’m not sure what my mom did while I was gone and I didn’t care.  I was a boy with a dirt bike.  I had dimes to spare.  I kept them rolled up in sock and if I was lucky I could get a sweet twist soft serve cone.  And after that, check out the dirt bikes that were too expensive for me to by at the bike shop.  And then go to the hobby store and look at all the miniature war figures and hobby trains. Ahh!  It was a good life.

I remember when every decent tv show was at least 50% car chases.  I remember when Chips was considered a decent tv show.  I remember the one episode when they were up against such a badass gang of motorcycle guys that they had to unveil and use the “SUPER BIKE”!

I remember all those shows about cars that could talk (Knight Rider), motorcycles that could go 300 miles per hour (street hawk), and awesome helicoptors (I’m talking about you Blue Thunder and Street Hawk).

I remember when I used to look at the 3 miserable kids in my suburban middle class 3rd grade class and feel so sorry for them that their parents were divorced.  But they did get to go to some mysterious group called Rainbows where rumor had it they got to eat donuts.  Seemed a small consolation to me.  I was so glad that would never happen to me.  Until four years later it did, and I joined the ever growing group of kids whose parents were getting divorced.

I remember how I knew that my generation had it easy.  We didn’t have a war.  We didn’t grow up in a time of sacrifice.  All we had was some little weekend thing called Grenada and then there was that other thing with Noriega…oh and Iran Contra…but who knew what that was other than a chance for Ollie North to say I have no recollection One million times after consulting with his lawyer.  I guess all us 80’s kids had was the weird looming fear that at some point The Soviet Union and the USA would destroy each other with a gabillion nuclear weapons.  I remember constant comparisons about how much bigger our MX missile was than their whatever thing a ma jig.  I remember being terrified after watching the Day After.  And you know how my parents made me feel better?  They said, don’t worry honey, we live in Omaha.  We won’t have to deal with nuclear winter or our faces melting off.  Because of STrategic Air Command here, we will be one of the very first targets.  And if it makes you feel better honey, we will get into the station wagon and drive down to StratCom just to make certain we are instantly vaporized and we don’t feel a thing.  (Seriously, they really told me this…and you know what, it actually made me feel better).

I remember the Big Gulp.  And how I didn’t think it was possible that any one human being could drink that much soda pop in one sitting.  And then they came up with the Double Gulp.  Crap!!!  You remember, it had the paper sides that folded up and then you punched the straw through the hole.  It was literally a box that held pop.  It was so freaking big that it was a damn box!  (and a side note, most pop at the Gas Station today are Double Gulp size or bigger I think)

I remember the farm crisis, the Savings and Loan disaster, watching the Challenger disaster during school, thinking BMX dirt bike racers were super human, watching Mary Lou score her perfect 10, watching Jim McKay do Wild World of Sports, watching the ridiculous Super Bowl shuffel of the Chicago Bears, having the big U2 verses Bon Jovi debate in junior high.  Shockingly, the girls favored Bon Jovi and the guys U2.

I remember crimping.  Man I wish crimping would come back in style.

There’s alot more, and I guess there are some things I would like to come back…but for the most part, I’ve moved on.  You see, I’m an 80’s kid.  The other thing that makes me an 80’s kid is that I’m perpetually annoyed with the Baby Boomers and the 60’s people.  The ones who always talk about “Dylan” and make a certain voice when they say “Dylan” like if you don’t get “Dylan” you just aren’t smart enough; you don’t get it.

You’re right, I’m not smart enough and I don’t get it.

I prefer the memories of wearing out my brother’s Reo Speedwagon Eight Tracks, that awesome Boston debut album, and all that other stuff like 38 Special, Blue Oyster Cult, Eddie Money, Chicago, and Moody Blues.

I remember skating parties, the highlight of the gradeschool calendar year.  And how hearing the song “Gloria” even to this day transports me back to the skating rinks of the 80’s, those holdovers of 70’s disco culture.

I remember spring loaded, hard plastic, dart guns that could actually hurt people.  And I remember taking toy guns everywhere with us and nobody ever thinking there was anything wrong with that.

I remember Blue Light Specials when they really meant something.

I remember when 1 murder was a very, very big deal and not a regular weekly occurrence.

I remember the 80’s.  Not a perfect decade.  But it was my decade.

I am an 80’s Kid.


At least not instantly.

But here is some of what Jesus does offer us by way of the Good News.

If you make a firm and fundamental decision to follow Jesus.

If you repent for your sins.

If you are truly sorry for your sins and make a firm commitment to try and not to do those sins again.

Then…Jesus will forgive your sins. All your sins. Right then and there.

Just like that. Just like love.



Just because Jesus saves us. Just because he covers up our own iniquities with his perfect righteousness. Just because he opens up the Gates of Heaven for us. Just because in a sense he makes us, the unloveable, suddenly lovable.

Doesn’t mean that Jesus also makes us Loving. At least not right away.

You see, that takes longer. And we all know it.

We get out of confession and we feel great. The slate has been wiped clean, our sins have been forgiven and sanctifying Grace has been restored in us and we are ready for bigger and brighter things. Then we go out to our car and try to get out of the parking lot when somebody cuts off of. Our initial instinct is to cuss them out and wonder why they are such a moron. But, because we just got out of confession, we have to tame and control our instinct, our habit. We have to overcome it.

You see, we spend a lifetime developing unloving habits, building up our unloving muscles so to speak. Just because Jesus forgives our sins instantly doesn’t mean he makes us super loving creatures instantaneously.

Lets puts it this way.

Lets imagine that getting fat was a sin. And lets say Jesus were to come down one day and forgive you for getting fat.

That would be awesome, except…that you would still be very much…fat. Jesus doesn’t change that part of it. At least not right away.

You see, after we accept Jesus’s forgiveness, his Salvation, his Grace, into our lives, then we have to follow Jesus. And because Jesus loves us first, because he reaches out to us, because he moves with Grace towards us, we are then Moved to love him back. And slowly, steadily, over time we start to develop new muscles, new habits.

Our unlove muscles go away and our love muscles build up.

This is why Catholics believe in purgatory.

Christ’s Salvation ‘gets’ us into Heaven, but it doesn’t make us good lovers, at least not right away. That takes time.

And as we become better lovers, our experience of the Communion that Heaven offers us will grow.

So, we don’t love Jesus in order to merit Salvation. (We can’t merit Salvation). Jesus offers us Salvation because of his own love, his own merits. After we accept Salvation, we are then so moved by our thankfulness and love for Jesus that we dedicate our lives to following him.

And one day, we will become so good at loving, that we will become very much like Christ himself.

We will be Saints and we will be enjoying the fullness of the Communion of Heaven.

So, if you haven’t accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, start with that. If you need to repent of your sins, do that. And if you’ve never really started the quite difficult work of following Jesus, the hard work of becoming a better Lover, get started today…get started Now.

It will be worth it.

Jesus is worth it.

Heaven is worth it.

Disclaimer.  You will get no spiritual enrichment from this post.  If anything, the time you spend reading this will amount to time that was wasted from your life.  And with that….

You know trash talk, that way of insulting each other on the playground, on the court, or on the field that professional athletes seem to have mastered with Reggie Miller and Kevin Garnet being the patrons of this group.

I think I know where it started.

The Book of Kings.

I’ve got two examples as evidence.

First example comes from 1 Kings 20.  The context, Ahab is King of Israel/Samaria , which since 922 B.C. has been the collection of the northern 10 tribes of Israel that split off from Judah and Benjamin in the South.  And Ahab is a seriously bad dude.  He married Jezebel, who is a crazy Baal worshipper and he essentially has no backbone when it comes to her as she walks all over Ahab, taking him away from Yahweh worship and towards the worhsip of Baal.

But apparently Ahab has a little backbone when it comes to Ben-hadad, the King of Aram.

At the moment, Assyria is the big boy on the block in the Middle East so Ben-hadad decides to pick a fight with someone he thinks he can actually beat, Ahab and Israel.  So, Ben-hadad sends a message to Ahab telling him that all his gold and silver belongs to Aram.  Ahab initially agrees.  But when Ben-hadad demands even more, Ahab finally refuses.  And Ben-hadad gets angry and sends the following message to Ahab.

May the gods do thus and so to me if there is enough dust in Samaria to make handfuls for all my followers.  Translation?  I’m gonna kick your butt and run all over your sorry excuse for a kingdom.

But Ahab responds with the only thing redeamable about this otherwise bad and pathetic man.

Ahab gives us a good line.  A good trash talking line.  Here it is, from 1 Kings 20:11

“The King of Israel replied, “Tell him, ‘it is not for the man who is buckling his armor to boast as though he were taking if off.”

Bad job Ahab for being a petty murderous tyrant.  Good job for giving us a good line.  Its not quite “That’s bold talk for a one eyed fat man” Ned Pepper to Rooster Cogburn good, but its still pretty good, right?

It may not sound super current for 2012, but that’s what will make it so awesome when you use this line next time the opportunity arises.   Like lets say the next time you happen to be in the middle of a bar room brawl.  Some guy is talking about how much tougher he is than you as he breaks a beer bottle open so he can shank you.  (Happens all the time right?)  Then you just look this coward right in the eye  “it is not for the man who is buckling his armor to boast as though he were taking it off.”  You’ll not only diffuse the situation with this brilliant line, the guy will probably buy you a drink when your done.

Okay, ready for the next example?

Bueller.  Bueller.

It comes from 2 Kings 1.  The context is this.  That scumbag of a king Ahab has died and his equally crappy son Ahaziah has taken the throne of Israel.  He does evil just like mom and dad and is a committed Baal Worshipper.  Anyways, after he takes the throne, Moab sees an opportunity to rebel against the new king…so Ahaziah is already tense.  And then one night, he falls through the roof of his terrace in Samaria and injures himself.

He is in bad shape and looks to the gods for some help.  And no, he doesn’t go to Yahweh for help, I mean why ask the God of the Universe for help.  Instead he asks his messenger to “Go and inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.”

This time, the trash talking is happening from the writer of the story.

The joke is that Ahaziah would have never called the god Baal by the term Baalzebub, rather he would have called him by the name Baalzebul.   Baalzebul was a term of honor and respect, it meant “Prince Baal” kind of like our Lord God appellation.

BUT.  When you make a little change and turn Baalzebul into Baalzebub…it no longer means “Prince Baal” it means “Baal of flies”.

While Ahaziah is trying to get advice from the god Baal, the author of the story keeps referring to this god Baal as “Baal of the flies”.

HA!  HA HA!  HA!

In the ancient world, the contest was always about who or what god was the toughest, the baddest, the strongest.  Part of that came from what was your god the god of.

Israel made the awesome claim that their God, Yahweh, was the God of EVERYTHING.

And Ahaziah, this unfaithful Baal worshipping King of Israel, he kept crawling to his god Baal for his needs and desires.

And what was Baal the god of?

According to 2 Kings 1, Ahaziah’s god was only…..”god of the flies”.

Who you gonna choose?   God of everything…….or…….god of the flies?


Again, I apologize for the last several minutes and no you will never get it back but I do have a little, teeny, god of the flies puny, sort of a point.

And its this.

There are all sorts of reasons to read the Bible.  Most of them are really spiritual and good and important.

But what’s wrong with occasionally picking up the Bible for another reason?  Because its full of great stories, interesting characters, and good cheesy lines?

God, Yahweh, Holy Trinity,  the God of Everything, is strong enough and smart enough and cool enough that He can bring you in your door and take you out through His.

God Bless and Good Reading!

Being a parent can be an odd experience.

By the very nature of trying to manage a small crew of non-expendables into a squished van or through a crowded parking lot or through a sit down meal….well, in order to do that, a certain amount of coersion is sometimes necessary.

And we end up making a huge deal out of things that in reality are not really a big deal but in order to get the kids to sit down through an entire meal or not kill each other on the van ride to church,  we actually make them a big deal.

(of course the scene depicted below is a very big deal but if you grew up in the 80’s you will remember this commercial and I couldn’t resist putting a picture in)

In other words, we bring up to a moral level rules that in and of themselves are not moral rules…they are rules for managing a house, managing a family.

Parents are more mature than children, there are things that children do that we would never do and yet….

And yet, there are things that we as adults do or could do, that children never do.

Its this strange fact of parenthood that children mess up the “managing the house” rules everyday and yet we, the parents, are the ones who mess up the more serious moral rules.

And so the imperfect parents among us have had the experience of lecturing a child on why oh why can’t he just learn to pick up this thing-a-ma-jigger off of that  diddly-do when in our heart, it feels like we are the ones who deserve the lecture.

For we are the ones more likely to have hate in our heart, to lust after others, to treat a coworker with malice, to gossip, to fail to help the least of our brothers, to worship the gods of power and success more than the Lord God and on and on….

Sometimes, I feel like God the Father uses parenthood as the ultimate prophetic vehicle.  It seems that as the words come out of our mouths to our children…it sometimes seems as if God is really using those words to speak to us, the Parents.

The solution to this awkward experience isn’t to stop telling Brendan not to yell at the kitchen table or to stop telling Jude that two peanut butter sandwiches is quite enough or to stop telling Rachel not to growl at strangers….the solution is to hear the words coming out of our mouths as words that God has meant for us.

Because, as mature as we adults are….we are still children.

God is waiting to lead us.

To a place far better than the kitchen table or a crowded park.

1 Kings 19:11-13

Then the LORD said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.”

A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD – but the LORD was not in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake-but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake there was a fire- but the LORD was not in the fire.

After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.

When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.  

Luke 2:16

So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.

Luke 22: 19

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you: do this in memory of me.”

God made creation.  God can do anything.  God can come in Big Bangs and Evolution and Volcanic Eruptions and Earthquakes, in Strong Winds and Fire.

And God can come in a whisper.

And often does.

In fact, I would argue, within the hubadubdrub of our daily routines, God most often comes to us in whispers which wiggle through the cracks of our experiences and present themselves to us as opportunities.

Opportunities to recognize God and respond to Him in love.

Review your day.   God is there in the whispers, in the cracks, in the cries of a baby, in the simple bread and wine, in ways that you can not imagine.

As you recognize God more you will learn how often you fail to respond to God’s invitation to Love.

And you will take that invitation more.

In short, your life will change.

Slowly, steadily, one whisper at a time.

Classic snippet from my children and from humanity.

Yesterday, at about 7:00 pm, I was a happy man.  I was home with my children, we had just played kickball and nine lives in the backyard, and had come back in the house.  People were happy and nobody was crying.

Nobody was asking for anything.  We were in a momentary state of bliss.

Then the doorbell rang.

Kids hurried down, opened the door and found a huge May Day basket that incredibly generous neighbor had left. Thanks Neighbor!

The large basket contained small gifts for my children. They were wrapped and tagged for each of children.

Pretty awesome right?


My children opened them up to see what they got and then….

….they started comparing what they had.

Four children were happy, two children were miserable….crying, throwing tantrum miserable.

And yet, five minutes before, they were perfectly content…no concerns in the world…had everything they needed to be happy.

And then poof! That contentment was over.

And did it happen because someone came in and robbed them of something?


It happened because someone came in and GAVE them something. That’s right. Pretty unbelievable, right?

What a bunch of dumb children, right? I mean, adults would never be so stupid as to be moved off happiness by something like that….would they?

I mean, that’s ludicrous to imagine. Just for a second, humor me. Can you imagine two people, lets say a husband and wife…and lets say they were really happy. Lets say they lived in a really awesome garden, got to eat really good food, and every night, God would come by at the breezy time of evening in order to take a little walk with them.

Let’s say that before this, that the deepest longing in the human heart was only to be able to love and be loved by another. And let’s say that after God gave humans to each other, male and female he created them, lets say after that, the man and woman were perfectly happy…because God had given them everything they needed to be happy.

And wouldn’t the greatest way to screw that happiness be to come in and take the man away from the woman, right?


Turns out, the perfect way to screw up their happiness was for some slimy little snake to suggest to them that something else, some other piece of fruit, might actually make them more happy.

Turns out that once they began to think about it, they agreed with that snake….they probably thought to themselves, “Why the heck won’t God let us have that other fruit? What’s he holding back from us? Maybe there is something out there that could make me more happy.”

And then the man and the woman looked at each other and decided that the other person (you know that one that each one of them thought was all that they needed to be happy)…well, that other person was no longer enough…turns out that they thought this other piece of fruit might actually be the thing that Really made them happy.

Yeah, something this silly would never happen to a bunch of mature adults right?

Wrong. My immediate thought when I looked at my eight year old crying was to think “What a fool!”

My second thought was to realize what a fool I am so often.

What my children did wasn’t a kid thing…it was an all too human thing.

We all know, at a very, very fundamental level what makes us happy.

God. Family. Friends. Love.

There are other things of course…but even those other important things aren’t the things talked about on death beds.

Its just that so often, we get distracted.

Some piece of fruit…or some bouncy ball that our brother gets catches our eye…and all of a sudden we’ve convince ourselves that there is one more thing that we are lacking for real happiness…and we let it get us down…or, we go looking for that other thing.

Its an addiction, really. The fundamental human addiction.

And God is the only cure.

Oh shoot…I gotta sign off, I don’t want Teresa to get the last piece of chocolate cake.

I was in really good shape for about ten minutes of my life, and it happened when I was twenty four.  I worked in a school where I would occasionally have to walk from my classroom to my office and to get there I would have to walk right through a huge room that was built for dancing, and which stil had wall to wall mirrors.

And everytime that there wasn’t anybody else around, I would look in that mirror and remark to myself that I looked good.  Yes, you got that, I would check myself out.

Major D-Bag at the time…and I can see that now.

And yet.  When I was 24 I thought I was the greatest guy ever.  I thought I was religious, prayerful, generous, selfless, oh and talented…did I mention talented.  Yeah, most days I gave myself an A+.

That was then.

The reality is, I’m not a worse person than I was then.  Its just I now realize what a fool I was.  Because when I turned 25, I got married.  And now, 12 years later, my wife and I have six chidren.

Once I got married and had children, I started to get impatient, angry, yell.  I would start to guard my free time and little parts of myself like it was the most important thing in the world.  I have had arguments with 2 year olds that, if taped, would make Alec Baldwin look like a nun by comparison.

The hardest part of being a husband and a father has been realizing that in many ways, I am a total crap bag.  You see, as long as I thought I was an A+ dude worthy of checking himself out, I didn’t have much room for growth.

At least now, its a little easier to see the truth of who I really am, who I’ve always been.

And guess what, it sure is alot more obvious to me why I need Jesus in my life.

And I suppose that’s the best part of being a husband and a father, at least for me.

Although it probably won’t happen any time soon, my doctor still tells me that its medically possible that I could still get in very good shape some day.  So hypothetically, if I ever do, you’d guess that I would  be able to tell you with certainty that I would never ever check myself out again. Right?

Ah, the 24 year old me would have made that guarantee.  But the 37 me can’t.  I’ve learned that much at least.

And you know what else I’ve learned.  There’s some way I act right now, some way I live my life right now, that I think is fine.  But in about ten years, I’m gonna look back and realize what a fool I was.

Maybe it would be a good idea to spend some time reflecting what that be right now…and then do whatever I can to change it…now.

It sure would save me the embarassment of having to write about it ten years from now.

And maybe this applies to you as well.  Maybe there’s something your doing right now, that if you spent some time considering it….would embarrass you a little bit.  If so, ask Jesus for help….to have the courage to change it now.

God Bless!