Sunday, June 02, 2013


I preached the Baccalaureate Service at North Harford High School today. My Nephew Jamie graduates there this Wednesday. The sermon was really well received. Several asked for copies of the sermon. So here is my text, typos and all! I'm heading out for a Camping trip in the morning (Monday) be back next week to continue the comics posts.

Pastor Dave

North Harford High School                                                                                   Psalm 37 
Baccalaureate Service                                                                         
“Your Next Quarter”
June 2, 2013

The average life expectancy in America is around 78 years. Divide that into quarters – every 19 years is a quarter of your life.
     Your graduation from High School is a great place to mark off your first quarter. Most of you will turn 19 within a few months to a year
     That’s if you live to 78…Some of you in this room will be dead before you reach 30
        Some of you will live to 100 or more. Most of us will live 70 or 80 years.

So every one of the graduates here today are about to enter their second quarter. The next quarter of your life is about to begin.
       This first quarter of your life has all been about preparation.
      You have been in school for all but the first 3 or 4 years of your life.
       Some of you will go on to continue your education, preparing for specific careers. All will be entering adulthood.
   Either willingly or unwillingly… Determined to succeed or determined to drift.
        I want to get the bad news out of the way first: You will not stay young for long.
   In what will seem a few months, you will wake up one morning and 19 more years will have passed. You will be 38 or 39 years old, on the cusp of 40, and the last half of your life will be before you.
       What you do in the next 19 years will be crucial to how you finish your life. It will set the stage for the last half.
        And don’t let Hollywood and popular culture deceive you- the last half, the time when you are NOT young, energetic and wrinkle-free can be just as exciting, fulfilling and more meaningful than what you have experienced or will experience in the next 19 years.
In a culture where convenience, consumption and conceit are virtues and not hindrances to  being a good person, MEANING has taken a backseat to pleasure.
       We are obsessed in 21st Century America with the accumulation of wealth and power with the ultimate goal of never having to work again.
        In light of that pursuit, the desire to grow as a person, to learn, to find MEANING in our lives has ben pushed aside in the  mad rush to find “Happiness”.
        I don’t want you to find happiness… its always dependent on your circumstances- and you are going to have more bad days than good days. Accept that and get over it.
   No, I want you to find JOY. JOY comes from within, is not dependent on what happens to us, JOY is lasting, and JOY had MEANING.

In Psalm 37 David the King of Israel gives some great advice for anyone at anytime in their life
           But its advice that is especially relevant to those who still have 3/4s of their lives ahead of them.

        80% of you will graduate Wednesday, and never set foot in a church willingly again.
      You will put any thoughts of God on the back burner- or worse, you will forget about Him completely.
        And your life will be filled with pain, heartache, divorce, bankruptcy, disease.. any myriad of problems, just like everyone else… but you will have no true place of comfort, no real and lasting answers to your problems.
   Your friends? They will try to help, but they are just as dumb as you are! And you will find that more people than you realize do not give advice to help you, but to advance themselves.
   As Pastor Johnny Hunt says, “We are all just one decision away from plumb stupid!”
   YOU NEED HELP. We all do. And Only by Trusting in the Savior will you not only find answers, but MEANING.
“Trust in the Lord, and do good”
        In the reality TV era, the prevailing idea about morality seems to be “its right as long as I don’t get caught.”- unless I can make money off my bad behavior, get a reality show of my own and them ham it up for the cameras- then everyone will congratulate me on my bad behavior!
Romans 3:23…For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Proverbs 14:12…There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
        But God says “Do good”- What is good?
        If I asked you if you were a good person, would you answer yes?
   Have you ever lied? Stolen something? Lusted? Disobeyed your parents? Hated someone?
   Those are just 5 of the Ten Commandments.- and we have all at some time broken every one of them. Even murder- Jesus said
Matthew 5:21, 22a…Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:
       Is it wrong to be honest? To be faithful to your spouse? To respect your parents? To love and not hate? To treat everyone the way you would like to be treated?
David says here, if you will Trust in the Lord, you will have a home, and you’ll have provision.
        With the economy as it is, just getting by has become a struggle for many of us.
   The promise here is that if we will trust the Lord, act like children of God instead of Hell raisers, He will take care of us.
SEE: Verses 23-27…
   And if you are here as an unbeliever, someone who scoffs at the Bible and says, “its full of contradictions, its written by men, it has nothing to offer me”
   Let me ask you this: Have you ever read it?

      The whole point of faith in Christ is not just “fire insurance” – its not all about escaping judgment. Yes, we need the Blood of Christ to cleanse us from our sins, we need forgiveness, we are all guilty of breaking God’s Commandments, no one is a truly good person.
       But Jesus said He did not come JUST to save, JUST to give us Eternity. He also came for the here and now…
John 10:9, 10…I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
        God is not all about keeping you from having fun!
        The reason you think that is cause CHURCH MEMBERS haven’t learned this yet!
       He wants you to DELIGHT in Him, find in His Word, in Fellowship with His saints in the local church, in prayer, He wants you to find JOY.
1 Peter 1:8…Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Ps 30:4, 5…Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
        If you do not seek Him in this next quarter of your life, I guarantee you will spend the REST of your life trying to get “Stuff” to make you happy.
   You will fall into the trap of thinking, “this new car, that bigger house, this sports equipment, these shoes, THAT TV, A swimming pool, a Caribbean vacation… THEN I’ll be happy!”
   But you won’t. Stuff doesn’t last. Cars rust, homes drop in value, shoes go out of style, TV’s need repairs, Vacations end. Focus on stuff above people, focus on yourself above family, friends and God, and the results are going to be certain…
Galatians 5:19-21… Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity,promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions,  envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
   What lasts? The Joy of the Lord. The stuff He gives you lasts!
Galatians 5:22, 23… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
READ: Vs. 7-11…
Matthew 6:33…But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

        Commitment is a rare thing today. Friends will leave you and hate you forever because they misread sarcasm for reality on your Facebook.
   Families disintegrate because its every man for himself. “If you’re not making me happy, I’m outta here!”
   Job security is a thing of the past. Customer loyalty only means I can charge you more than a new customer because statistically you are less likely to switch insurance, cable, phone companies after a year or two!
        But Commitment still works. It has rewards.
        I want to give you some fatherly, pastoral advice… Quit thinking of Love just in terms of feelings. Love is a commitment. You commit to spend the rest of your life pursuing the well being of another. Its not about getting pleasure or having someone else meet your needs. Its about giving pleasure and meeting the needs of another. LOVE IS COMMITMENT.
        Stay committed to the people in your life, you will be a better person, people will love you, flock to you. People will want to help you!
       Commit to the Lord. Read His word, talk to Him in prayer, hang out with other believers in a local church, He promises you that your commitment to Him will bring about a security, protection, contentment, and provision nothing else will bring.
READ: Verses 23-27
       Commitment to the Lord brings a peace you can never explain. It brings a security in finances, family, and friendships.
In this next quarter of your life, from now until you are about 36, 37 years old, you will set the stage for your legacy. How you will be remembered.
       “Live your life in such a way that the preacher doesn’t have to lie at your funeral!”
        I want to encourage you to be different. Life a life of integrity
o   Integrity is being the same person when your alone that you are when people are around you. No secret lives. No skeletons in the closet. Because you have decided to follow the teachings of Jesus and live your life to help others, to serve the Lord, to make a difference in this world.
2 Corinthians 7:1…Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
       BECAUSE… the Second half of your life is just 19 years away…
        And you are not the greatest thing in the world. There are billions of other people you can learn from.
      And there is a God in Heaven Who wants to be involved in your life. He wants to bless you. He wants to help you with the tough decisions. He loves you so much He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on a Cross to pay for your sins and mine.
       Commit your life to Him. Trust Him. Delight in Him.
John 14:1-6…Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 5:24…Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 11:25, 26…Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Don’t leave High School this week and make the mistake of denying yourself the greatest help, the greatest power you can have in this life. The Ability to have God Himself  help you and bless you throughout the remaining 3 quarters of your life.             

Read Verses. 34-40…

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Superheroes and Spinner Racks

Shortly after my first Mad Magazine, at some point I discovered comic books. I'm not sure who gave me my first one, or what it was. Most likely it came from my Grandma Beba's house, there were magazines of all kinds there. Current, old, respectable and not-so-respectable. My step-grandfather was a fan of Zane Grey westerns and pulp magazines. At Grandma's I remember first seeing Argosy, Real Detective, Amazing Worlds and other pulps from the 30's and 40's. No one thought they were worth anything then, and they were too "new" to be considered old. Old was turn of the century. Old was Civil War. The Depression was still fresh in most adults minds, World War II was still talked of like it happened last year.

So I'm sure there were comic books at Grandma's, and that is probably where I first encountered them. What I do remember is being immediately hooked. I remember being as young a 6 and scouring yard sales for comics. You could pick them up for a penny or a nickel apiece.

By the time I was 10 or 11 I know I was using allowance money to buy new comics off the spinner racks at 7-11's, drugstores and supermarkets. By the time I was in 6th grade, I was collecting. I started counting how many I had. Milestones were reached. 100, 200, 500 comics! In Middle School I would get $1 for lunch most days from my mom. I would forego the second milk (a big deal for a chubby kid) so I could get 32 cents change back. New comics were at 30 cents each by then. I know I was buying new ones at 25 cents, and remember reading an article in the back of a DC comic about the price increase. Anyway, with tax a new comic was 32 cents. I could sometimes buy as many as 5 comics a week with my lunch money change!

My earliest interest was in Batman, fueled by my devotion to the Adam West series. But the Batman in the early to late 70's comics was not like the TV show. He was better. Bigger, smarter, serious. A true detective. Often Batman would pull out a flashlight in a dark room. But his flashlight was much cooler than any I had ever seen. It was the size of a small cigar. It was bright. No one had flashlights like that in the 70's. Today everyone has tiny little LED flashlights. When I was a kid though, that tiny little flashlight was the coolest thing I ever saw.

The art in Batman was just astounding. Never has that period been matched for quality, beauty, and the ability to move a story forward at just the right pace. Neal Adams stood at the top of all the artists who drew Batman.

Adams' pencils and Dick Giordano's inks defined the look of Batman for me. Only one other artist ever came close to matching the quality, and because he produced such a quantity, Jim Aparo is definitely my favorite Batman artist of all time. I would buy books I really didn't care for (Batman and the Outsiders) just because Jim Aparo did the art.

Years later I discovered through fan magazines that Aparo was a triple threat artist. He only worked on books where he could pencil, ink and letter the whole issue. Creative, talented and consistent, Aparo's art became a permanent part of my inner world. His faces were perfect. His musculature precise. The streets, buildings, rooms were not just background, they were part of the story, and they were rendered perfectly.

At some point in the late 70's I began earnestly collecting, determined with each trip my family made into town that I had money in my pocket so I could pick up the next issue. When I could not find an issue, I would volunteer to go into town with mom or dad at every opportunity, in the hopes of finding a store that did not send their unsold comics back so quickly, and thereby score a back issue to fill in a hole in my collection. Back then comics were almost always sold on "spinner racks" at the 7-11, drugstore, G.C. Murphy's, Woolworth's, or supermarket. I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a store devoted only to comic books. I would discover my first comic book store in 1979...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Comic Book Life

I've been having trouble settling on topics for the blog lately. That kind of indecision always results in no production, no posts.
Recently I've been thinking that I need a theme, a general topic that will spur me to come back each day or at least each week, to finish the thought, to wrap things up.
My problem with that? If I make my topic Theological or even devotional, its more study time that I really need to be devoting to the church. So I need a topic that will not take away valuable study time.
Over the last few years, one of my most enjoyable reading topics has been comic book history, especially the stories behind the creators and comics I enjoyed in the 70's and early 80's.
That gave me the idea for what I hope is a continuing series on this blog. Though it will not be "spiritual" or even devotional, it will give you insight into my history, thought processes, my love for art.
I will occasionally interrupt this series for a devotional or theological discussion, and the comic posts themselves may at times lend towards some observations on Christianity.
So today I want to start with my first exposure to comic books and comic book art, at least my earliest memories of it.

I was born on October 22, 1966. In January of that year The Batman television series debuted. A few weeks before my birth, Star Trek premiered on NBC. Though I certainly did not watch these two shows in their original runs, I remember clearly watching both in re-runs on weekends and afternoons even before I started Kindergarten. Batman especially struck a cord, stirring both artistic and heroic feelings in a young boy. A cousin of mine says he remembers me saying around the age of four that when I became a teenager I planned to be the new Robin.

Somewhere around the age of five, my grandmother gave me one or more Mad Magazines she had gotten, no doubt, at a yard sale or auction. I was immediately hooked. The art was what got me first. The caricatures of famous people are what I remember the most. I was a child of television, and to see these men could draw Mike Connors (Manix) or  Buddy Ebsen (Barnaby Jones) in a funny,exaggerated style just drew me in. I became an instant fan of Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Don Martin, and the marginal drawings of Sergio Aragones. 


Jack Davis especially inspired me to try my hand at drawing. My earliest drawings were most likely copies of Davis characters. To this day, my preliminary and thumbnail sketches feature Davis style zig-zags at the elbows and knees.


Mort Drucker's TV and Movie Parodies also were large sources of inspiration. He did everything so consistently, it would be easy to write him off as uninspired or just re-hashing the same stuff. But his level of technical brilliance could not be ignored. Of Drucker, Charles Schultz once said, "Frankly, I don't know how he does it, and I stand in a long list of admirers... I think he draws everything the way we would all like to draw."


And of course Mad was where I first found Sergio Aragones. His "marginal" drawings and occasional full page wordless strips were always funny, always well drawn, and a world of their own. I remember seeing him on a Dick Clark show in the late 70's, he drew the intro and commercial break cartoon bumpers and occasionally would do instant cartoons on an easel during the program. Once I watched him explain his process, showing how he (then) used a fountain pen to do his drawings because they were fluid and fast and required less pressure than ballpoint pens. I bugged Mom and Dad at every drugstore and department store until we finally found a Shaeffer Fountian Pen that used cartridges. I used that pen for over 10 years, practicing my cartooning, both funny and political, and sketching incessantly.

From Mad, it was a short leap to the Superhero and Mystery Comics that I would read the rest of my life.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

18 and counting... but differently!

It's been two months, yes, two months since my last post. I've had several posts in mind. Several articles on topics upon which I would like to comment. But procrastination hit again and I "never got around to it" once more.

Last time I talked about my son Luke turning 18.

Today I would direct your eye to the sidebar which says, today, "I've lost 18 pounds using MyPlate." Click on the link. Go ahead. You won't regret it, unless you want to stay the same forever. Most of us in this day of processed, fast, and pre-packaged food could stand to loose a few pounds. I can. That's why when my friend Barry Secrest told me he had lost over 50 lbs using this site, I decided to check it out. Its from LiveStrong, Lance Armstrong's foundation, that he is no longer involved in I guess. It is FREE... and like my good friend Roger Boguski likes to say, "free is better than cheap!"

I started using the site April 8. Its easy to do. Create a user name, password, and set up your profile. Height, weight, age, activity level, etc. Then how much you would like to loose per week. I'm set up for 2 lbs a week, but I'm averaging well over 3, almost 4 lbs a week.

Basically the site works like a Weight Watchers Journal, just online and FREE. You enter what you ate (almost any restaurant and thousands of brands of food are in the database) and the site calculates calories and takes it away from your daily total. Oh, and when you loose, your daily total drops. I started out with 1,884 calories a day. After loosing 18 lbs, I am only allowed 1,749 per day. BUT... walk, run, lift some weights, do some yard work... it all counts as exercise you can enter, and calories you burned are added to your daily intake.

I am walking 4.5 miles every morning Monday through Friday. I get  a little over 800 extra calories to eat each day I do this, and I STILL LOOSE WEIGHT. I'm down more than a full pant size, hoping to go down one more by June. My energy level is much higher, my blood pressure is now almost too low. I'll have to talk to my Doc about reducing  or removing some or all of my BP medications.

I weighed 280 lbs on April 8. I weigh 262 this morning. Another week or so and I should be in the 250's. I haven't been that light since 2005.

I'll keep the widget up on this site, and you can check it and keep me in prayer. Unfortunately I have had to keep my "comments" disabled due to heavy spam. If you wish to communicate about what you read here, drop me an email at or tweet me @revbaptist

If you need to drop some weight, do it. Don't talk about it and then eat a piece of cake. Just get on track and stay there. I quit eating wheat last July, you can find posts about it in the archive. I am still wheat-free for reasons stated in my previous posts. But I'll tell you a little secret: even if you don't buy my reasoning for staying away from modern, genetically modified wheat, dropping it from your menu is still one of the best good health actions you can take. Why? Because when you cannot eat wheat-cake, cookies, Twizzlers (yep, they are made of wheat) and ton's of other foods that only make you fat are off limits. I have not had a single piece of cake, a cookie, a doughnut, or a snack with modern wheat in it for what will soon be one year.
Makes it easy to stay on track when all that junk is not an option.

Proverbs 23:20, 21...Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.

1 Corinthians 3:16, 17...Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Also pray that I return to a regular schedule blogging. This is good for me.

'Till Jesus Returns,

Friday, March 15, 2013

18 and counting…

Yesterday my oldest child turned 18.

Lucas Charles Mason came into this world on March 14, 1995. I was 28 years old. Patty was 23. We were kids having kids. We thought we were grown up, but it was only the Grace of God that allowed us to not make major mistakes raising our boys. No way we were mature enough on our own.

Luke had a full day. We got up early and went to Wal-Mart hoping to find ammunition. No luck unless we wanted $1 each 12 gauge shells.

Then Luke headed off to college for one morning class.

When he got home we asked him where he wanted to go to lunch for his birthday. His choice? The food court at White Marsh Mall so he could get Bourbon Chicken and Lo Mein noodles (without vegetables…)

Then we hit several pawn shops looking for a rifle. He can legally buy them now and wanted to get something in his name. Nearly bought a Western Field .30-30 lever action with a scope. Old West Cowboy rifle. Only problem? No ammo at the shop, and no prospects of getting any. There is the ultimate gun control. Scare people into thinking the Government is going to take their guns so they rush out and buy up every box of ammo. Now no one else can shoot a gun because no one can get ammunition!

So Luke passed up on the rifle since it would be only a display piece. He’ll probably use his birthday money to get an iPhone.

He had Art class last night from 6-10pm. When he got home we had ice cream cake and watched the remake of “Red Dawn” starring Chris Hemsworth.

Luke fell asleep halfway through.

Big day though, and I thought much yesterday about time. How just a little while ago I was putting him on my shoulders, throwing him up in the air, changing diapers. And now? He’s 6’3”, 210lbs, driving everywhere, working two jobs, finishing his senior year in high school while also finishing his freshman year in college. And in a few days, another 18 years will have passed and Luke will be middle aged, a husband, father, and probably a pastor himself.
Luke Swing Autumn 2yrs old        417111_246334852160471_1377006741_n
Happy Birthday Bud, even though it’s a day late in the blogosphere.

I know God has great things in store for you.