April 2 2021

Jesus is the Reason

I am not afraid to share my religious views. I am a Christian and a believer of Jesus Christ. I thought today, during this Holy week and on this day a holiday of remembrance, Good Friday, was a perfect time to share one of my favorite stories of my Lord and Savior Jesus- as told by Willie Nelson.

In February of 1973 a recording session took place in a New York studio provided by Jerry Wexler. Wexler was the vice president of Atlantic Music. He was interested in Willie’s music. This recording session would later become Willie Nelson’s twentieth studio album The Troublemaker.

The country and gospel album was recorded in two days at the Atlantic Records studio in New York City. Besides Willie and his usual backup, the musicians were also joined by Doug Sahm and his band. Atlantic decided that the recorded music was not right for their label. They soon discontinued the entire country music department at Atlantic Records.

In 1975, Nelson signed a contract with Columbia Records. His contract with Columbia gave him complete creative control over his music. After the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger, Columbia published The Troublemaker in 1976.

The title track from The Troublemaker, was written byBruce G. Belland and David Troy Somerville. In its content it describes Jesus as Pilate and many of the Jews and Romans of the day saw him. They did not believe, nor would they accept that Jesus was sent by God to become the savior of us all.

In the Bible in John 19 it reads:

1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. 4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” 7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

Continuation in the book of John reads:

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.

In the final verse of the Troublemaker song Willie Sings-

They arrested him last week and found him guilty

And sentenced him to die but that’s no great loss.

Friday they will take him to a place called Calvary

And hang that troublemaker to a cross.

MmmmmmHmm…

The crucifixion of Jesus was planned by our God from the very beginning of time. Without the death of Jesus and his resurrection We would all be damned to a fiery hell. The dark death of that great man became our greatest light. Because of him I am saved and each of us are allowed that opportunity if we only ask Him to come into our hearts and wash our sins away.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Happy Easter, Remember Jesus is the reason for the season.

Pancho.

December 25 2020

Feeling Christmasy

Santa came by yesterday. AKA my Father in law. And he makes a damn good Santa at that. He and my mother in law have the most giving hearts. They have always done their best to support us on this journey called life, unconditionally.

In a socially distanced sort of way, He left Christmas gifts for the wife and I.

This morning bright and early we opened our gifts to see what Santa had brought.

I was surprised by the plain white album cover and the simple type of the title page.

Chris Stapleton Starting Over.

I am currently listening to the first of the double record enclosed. I have heard most of the content before and even wrote about it not long ago in my attempt at some review. The music sounds so much better this Christmas morning playing on vinyl and coming through the speakers in my living room!

It’s a mean old world out there and the world has gotten sick. These songs are just what I am going through and what the rest of the world is going through to. I think that idea gives me some hope as I realize that I am not alone in any of this.

Well, if I was recording an album amidst a pandemic, I would most likely do it the same way. No frothy emotional appeal by some staged up photo shoot on the cover of the album. Isn’t It supposed to be about the music anyway?

Stapleton gives encouragement as I open the album flap. Inside he has written:

“In my life when I’ve needed strength, love, peace, joy, friendship, focus, courage, understanding, hope, or healing I’ve found these things in music. As you listen, I pray you find some of these things here. May we all look to the best of who we’ve been & the promise of who we can be. Here’s to starting over.”

Chris Stapleton

So far, my wife has decided that “When I’m With You” is her favorite from the album. I can sure relate to the lyrics of the song. The lyrics tell a story of gratitude throughout this storm we call life. I am glad I have someone like her by my side. She is the best thing that has happened to me. Her strong temperament teaches me to be stronger. When I am with her, I have the will to do better than I have ever done. I work harder and try my best at doing the best I can do. When you do something do it with excellence is something that she has instilled in me.

Merry Christmas to all. This year has been different, I know that I have even complained recently how it didn’t feel like Christmas. But reflection this morning I am starting to re- think that statement. What is Christmas supposed to feel like anyway? Remembering the reason for the season. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus. Without the birth, there would have never been the death that day at Calvary. For God gave his son to die for me and my sin. Because of him I am free and have eternal life. I pray that whoever needs to hear it hears Jesus in their hearts and minds today. Heaven’s just a prayer away.

Perhaps 2020 and the Pandemic is the way that God is showing us the wrong from right. Did God not give us a rainbow after the flood? Just because there isn’t that pot of gold at the end of it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth it.

Pancho.

December 13 2020

Too Many Animals

Phillips Brooks was born on this day December 13, 1835. Brooks was an American Episcopal clergyman and author. He is most remembered as the lyricist to the song “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

The Christmas story tells us about Jesus birth in the little manger in Bethlehem. Many Christian households commemorate this event by erecting Nativity Scenes during this time of year. I am reminded of my own childhood experience.

Growing up I knew a woman named Charlotte. Charlotte was a neighbor in my early youth and she and her husband, having no grandchildren of their own, sort of adopted me into their family. The couple was a true blessing to me and my family. We were friends for many years. She was a kind and loving woman. She seemed to love me as much as all God’s creatures one and the same. Charlotte and her husband Hi were big inspirations into the life that I have today.  As a child I would often spend time at their home. During the Christmas season I would be invited to help decorate.

I must have been about five or six years old when Charlotte gave me the responsibility to set up her Nativity Scene. I recall a wooden replica of a barn and glass or ceramic renditions of the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the three wisemen, and the angel that rejoiced at Jesus birth.

“And…there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord shone around them. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord” (LUKE 1: 8-11)

Finally, the day came when Jesus was born in human form as a baby-

And the angels rejoiced.

Along with the figurines of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were the common animals that are associated with the Nativity. The Donkey, The Camel, Sheep, and a milk Cow. As a young child these animals fascinated me. I loved arranging and re-arranging them in the scene.

Charlotte was a collector. She had many ceramic dogs, birds, horses, and other miscellaneous animals in her collection. 

Because of her, I began my own collection. During my youth, my entire room was adorned with ceramic and glass dogs. These dogs came from all over. My mother and father would purchase them whenever we found them along our travels. I still have many of these dogs today.

When decorating the nativity, I recall going around Charlotte’s house to gather up ALL of these other animal figures. I placed them all into the scene…. To witness the miraculous birth of Christ. The scene spanned across the top of Charlotte’s piano.

And all the animals rejoiced.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”(Matthew 2:11)

For many years after, the nativity scene at my friend Charlotte’s house was set up in this fashion. We had begun a tradition. There was Christmas cookies, and hot chocolate and then acres of animals to witness the birth of the Son of Man. Charlotte would play Christmas Carols on her piano. I can still recall the wonderful music she would make on that grand instrument.

She offered to teach me to play the piano on more than one occasion. Something I will always regret is not having the patience to learn.

Fast forwarding to my pre-teen years, I missed the annual night of decorating for Christmas at Charlotte’s house. She went ahead without me. The Nativity scene was set up in it’s usual spot on the top of her piano. On her own, keeping with our tradition , She painstakingly took the time to set each animal in it’s spot overlooking the crib of baby Jesus. Just the way I had done for so many years before.

I was invited over for a Christmas gathering at Charlotte’s home. We exchanged our gifts and had a meal and she invited me into her parlor to inspect her display.

Upon my inspection I recall telling her…

“That’s too many animals”

We laughed about it for many years afterwards.

Too Many Animals.

Pancho.