Circuit Rider's Closet Index
From USMC to UMC!
Clarion County is in northwestern Pennsyvania about 65 miles north of Pittsburgh give or take some miles depending whether you come from north part or south part of the county. Clarion is the county seat. I was born and raised on a farm about 5 miles south of Clarion -- attended and graduated from Clarion H.S -- attended Clarion State Teachers College for 1 year -- it is now known as Clarion University --- enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for 3 years during the Korean War.
Twenty one months after discharge from the USMC Jesus Christ totally transformed my life and called me into the ministry. To try to visualize a bit of what He went through for you and me, travel back in time about 2,000 years to a hill outside Jerusalem and gaze at Amazing Grace - All for Us!!
About 22 months from the time He performed this miracle in my life wherein He completely forgave the gigantic mountain of sin I had accumulated, I was appointed the pastor of 2 Methodist Churches in New Castle PA.
While pastoring I attended and eventually graduated from Geneva College in Beaver Falls PA. Then on to Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore KY with a wife, 4 children, broken down car and furniture and an appointment to a little country church in Powell County, about 60 miles east of Lexington KY -- salary was cut to about half of what I had been getting in PA -- and no, Jean was not holding down a job outside the home, just INSIDE it! And no, I didn't have rich parents and no, I wasn't receiving big dividends from blue chip stocks -- God made some promises about taking care of us and guess what? He kept every one of them!!! Finally graduated from Asbury and came back to the W. Pa. Conference of the former Methodist Church, now known as Western Pa. Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church since merger in 1968.
At Geneva I got a good taste of the theology of John Calvin and at Asbury, the theology of John Wesley. I'm not sure of the connection, but my great grandfather's first 2 names on my mother's side of the family was Calvin Wesley! He was also quite an eccentric in a number of ways, and some family members have observed that I must have inherited that peculiar characteristic!
My ministry over the years was with small church congregations -- the most at one time was 4 in which I had Sunday AM worship at 8, 9, 10, and 11 AM -- likely near killed me! Will have more to say about why I stayed in small churches sometime later on in the commentary page.
Family Who's Who
Best wife I ever had is Jean (she is quick to point out that she's the ONLY wife I've ever had!). -- Children are Richard, Vicki, Eric, Linda and Steve -- Richard (now divorced) has 2 children, Andy and Rachel -- Vicki is married to Don and they have a daughter, Nicole (Nikki) -- Eric is married to Vicki and they have a daughter, Megan -- Linda is married to Jim and they have 2 children, Tommy and Lisa -- Tommy was with me that night in the waning days of March '98 when I got started on Circuit Rider's Range, helped me to find Angelfire, and gave me some tips in getting started with the range, so thanks very much Tom -- you have been very helpful to your old grandpap!! --- our son, Steve is living at home with mom and dad!
Cousin KAH reminded me that 2 other "family" members should be mentioned -- they are Baron Fritz von Heinrich and Cody. Cody is Steve's Black Labrador retriever and the other one -- can you guess the breed? -- he is Fritz, our German Shepherd -- I gave you his full registered name, just a simple one that I came up with! They get along pretty well -- only one major disagreement -- when one time we gave them each a raw hide bone -- Cody pigged his down real quick -- Fritz just kind of gnawed on his slowly, savoring the flavor (Ugh!!) and took a break letting the bone lay near his feet -- Cody thought he would just amble over and take it -- can you imagine what it must be like to have about 110 lbs of German Shepherd all over you showing you what big teeth he has etc -- moral of the story -- don't ever try to take Fritz's raw hide bone, even if he seems not to be interested in it at the moment!
Where In the World?
Where in the world have we been? I left home just having turned 19 years old to serve in the Marine Corps. That adventure started with a trip to boot camp at the MCRD at Parris Island, S.C. -- about broke my parents heart -- they were sure I'd come home in a body bag (they were God fearing people who had set a Christian example and had taught me the basics of the Christian faith -- I had come to a point that I figured mom and dad just weren't "with it" -- a little too religious -- amazing, when one gets older and maybe a little wiser and especially if you get "squared away" with God [a little Marine lingo there] you then realize how smart your parents really were, and if you had listened to them, you would have saved yourself a whole lot of grief)! In the U.S.M.C. I was taught some basics as to how to kill a man so quick he wouldn't have a chance to blink his eyes! My drill instructors at Parris Island were battled hardened veterans from the First Marine Division that had been trapped and surrounded by the Chinese at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. They fought their way out and prided themselves on the fact that not one body of a dead comrade had been left behind -- all the bodies were brought out with them. They conditioned, hammered and brutalized us into believing we were the best at whatever we did! However, it must be said that recruit training has changed a lot over the years and there is a heavy emphasis on "Core Values" minus the brutality to which we were subjected in the early 50's -- check in at Parris Island at the link given above and you can read about it. Oh, and you can get in and out of there without receiving the infamous Parris Island haircut!!!!
"Informal training" passed through the ranks as to how to handle ourselves in bar room brawls (where we spent considerable time) -- just quickly remove your belt with its heavy brass buckle -- learn to whip and snap it and you can put a guy on the floor glassy eyed with the jagged edged beer bottle still in his hand that he was going to mangle you with!
Yes, we believed we were the best in the fullest carnal sense -- we could outfight, outcuss, outdrink, outwomanize anyone else -- after all we were Marines!!! No one can tell me that God isn't merciful and patient -- I surely put it to the test for a time! Almighty God could have snapped me out of this life just as quick as a gnat hitting the windshield of an 18 wheeler rolling down an interstate at 85 mph, but He was extremely merciful -- and I certainly didn't deserve it!
However, it was also during this time that I married the love of my life -- I was 19 and Jean was 17, and then off to Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina -- ah, you should know that we've been honeymooning ever since!
But the best was yet to be, for it's been a never ending adventure of a higher kind since Jesus Christ revolutionized my life many years ago. As mentioned it started with being a pastor in 2 churches at New Castle PA, then on to Kentucky and serving a little church there. Back to Polk PA and 3 churches to look after, then on to Belsano PA and 4 churches (see I got promoted!) for a while -- then a "demotion" with realignment of the parish and I was back to only 3 churches -- had these 3 for 23 years -- and then retirement, of a sort!
During those years we witnessed our Lord doing many great things in meeting the needs of people, changing lives and pouring out blessing after blessing. There were the battles too (that's where the scars came from!) -- there are people in churches that simply don't want to mind God -- they get cantankerous and ugly and then take it out on the preacher, failing to realize their problem isn't really with the preacher, but rather with God -- the cure is very simple -- it's called repentance -- just quit the sin and get right with God and everything will be OK! Actually, out of 10 congregations plus a small group of Cumberland Presbyterians which I worked with briefly in Lexington KY, there were only 3 that contained what might be termed "hypocritical cliques" with which I did battle-- they are the kind that could have been transported right out of the 1st century all dressed up in the proper uniform of a pharisee and every bit as blind -- it was one of these that scarred our family in a number of ways, which I will not detail here. However, to offset that, God brought us across the paths of numbers of people with whom it was a tremendous blessing to work in the cause of our Lord Jesus, and continually they were a blessing to me and the family again and again -- we look forward to meeting those dear folk in the presence of our Lord someday, nevermore to be separated again!
Our plans for the future call for eventually moving into a mansion that's been promised to us -- you can read about it in John 14:1 and a few verses following -- a very special Friend has made that promise -- His name is Jesus and He always keeps His promises :-))
Circuit Rider's Interests
It's pretty hard to describe -- he likes to read -- usually read himself to sleep most every night when he was a kid at home -- all the way through high school until he went to work for Uncle Sam -- course, down at Parris Island there was no reading before bedtime -- usually there was a lot of "duck walking" for the platoon -- punishment because the DI said someone did something they shouldn't have and so the whole platoon paid the price!! Since the "duck walking" days are long gone he continues to do a lot of reading -- just falls asleep a lot faster in the evenings -- what could be the cause of that anyhow??? Some have suggested something called old age -- what's that?
Other interests are his ATV's -- his favorite is named "Susy" -- Susy was built by Suzuki and is a 4 wheel drive machine -- the Circuit Rider found out that 4 WD sometimes doesn't mean a lot -- especially one time when he got it hung up in a swamp!! And the winch he has on the front end came up about 1 foot short of a tree with its cable extended -- he got out eventually -- no details!! Jean has ridden with him -- first time on her new machine she did a wheelie for about 75 feet because of a tricky throttle -- maybe the first and only grandmother to pull that off on a 3 wheeler!! Circuit Rider could only watch in fear and trembling wondering if that front wheel would rise higher and higher off the ground until the machine flipped over backwards and landed on top of the best wife he ever had! But it eventually came back down (law of gravity, you know) and she stopped and sat like a frozen statue on her lemon yellow Yamaha for about the next 5 minutes!! But later on she got adjusted to it and they went riding often -- sometimes taking a picnic to a nice secluded place not far away from their home -- mountain laurel, hemlock and a babbling brook -- Circuit Rider says it was the perfect "rustic" version of a candlight dinner with soft music playing in the background -- he won't give any more details than that! His favorite secular song is "Hopeless Romantic" -- often does special things with his wife -- took a vacation Sunday over a Valentine's Day weekend -- and took her on what was billed as a "Sweetheart Package" weekend at a Holiday Inn -- got reaction from a woman in one of his churches who snorted, "That's not very spiritual!" -- to which Circuit Rider just sort of shrugged his shoulders and said, "Just because the romance has gone out of her marriage and she's now a dill pickle, doesn't mean that the romance has gone out of mine!" -- he claims he and Jean are still honeymooning yet!! And guess what? Mrs. "Dill Pickle" in addition to being an "expert" on romantic marriage (??) happened to be a self appointed "expert" on child raising also -- didn't have any kids of her own, though! Those kind sure have a ratchet jaw when it comes to telling parents what they're doing WRONG in bringing up the children!
Circuit Rider also enjoys target shooting -- especially with one of the hand guns he has in his collection -- particularly likes the German Luger he recently obtained -- a fascination with its unusual toggle action -- a "novelty" weapon is a heavy derringer chambered for a 45 cal. bullet, but also accomodates a 410 shotgun shell -- "It's the world's smallest shotgun," says CR, "and a great deterrent to car jacking!" Course, he won't admit to having badly bruised knuckles after firing it with the 410 shell in it! Or he may fire one of his 357 magnums, the 9 mm Browning semi-automatic, or the Beretta 25 cal semi-automatic that lays neatly in the palm of the hand -- cute little thing -- you'd fall in love with it the moment you laid eyes on it -- at least that's what CR claims anyway! He quit hunting a few years ago -- says he got too tenderhearted and couldn't shoot the animals anymore -- ah, ah, -- I'll mention the issue as to whether he really has a "heart" or not over in the Human Life Is Sacred area when we deal with an abomination called abortion! You may be saying to yourself that this guy is a real basket case with that pre-occupation with guns --
PSSSST -- want to know something? He goes into all those details just for the purpose of irritating those anti-gun people who still have their heads in the sand and refuse to face reality -- he says that if they succeed even in getting legislation passed that would ban ALL guns there would still be millions in the hands of the people who are the real problem in our society -- the only ones who would be affected would be law abiding citizens such as himself -- although he says he's prepared with plans just in case that kind of legislation would be passed and he will not surrender even one of his firearms! Oh oh -- do you see them grit their teeth and turn purple in the face? hee hee hee!
By the way, you look like a person who doesn't like to be victimized by propaganda -- want to see something disturbing that shoots the anti-gun propaganda full of holes (no pun intended!). Our media people, politicians, and church leaders are on a roll with "ban the gun" propaganda, and that is precisely what it is! Take a slow and honest look at 10 Myths about Gun Control -- in light of well researched information, a bunch of that crowd just mentioned has egg all over their faces, and rotten ones at that!
CR enjoys doing oriental cooking -- making old fashioned buckwheat cakes in winter season (the kind that stink to high heaven!) -- insists that the buckwheat flour has to be like theology -- pure and unadulterated or else it will be a mess!
Favorite hymns are: The Old Rugged Cross, A Charge to Keep I Have & O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing -- favorite secular songs are: Jean, Hopeless Romantic, I Love How You Love Me, 'Till, I'll Be Seeing You & Twilight Time. Favorite all time movie is: (better sit down for this one, folks) - Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs -- CR says you can't beat it for the symbolism -- much superior to some of the junk Disney is producing these days -- the Prince comes -- kisses Snow White -- she awakens - they ride off together and live happily ever after! Someday our Prince, Jesus, is going to come back and take us out of this moral pig pen of a world -- we'll live happily forever and forever with Him!!!!
CR is also working on a book -- yes, that's right -- has chapter headings, notes and some of the earlier parts done. The title? -- family says it needs altered -- he wants to call it, "Ramblings from the Pen of a Maverick Who Wears a Mickey Mouse Watch" hmmm -- you're not surprised too much by that are you? Some things appearing here on the Range will probably appear in the book in one form or another. Now that he is devoting a lot of time to the Range, the book is sort of on the back burner -- if the burner is on, maybe it will shorten the title a bit!
An intense study of the Old Testament prophets has been an interest of Circuit Rider the last number of years and I can tell he has been profoundly influenced by them. He claims if they were resurrected today, the only thing they would change in their message would be names and places -- further, they probably would be done in quicker now than in the days in which they lived! CR says he can identify at certain points with Jeremiah and feels at times what Jeremiah expressed about being "filled with indignation" (Jer. 15) -- sure must have been frustrating -- poor guy tried to warn the leaders and the people, but they wouldn't listen -- and he was still around when the "roof collapsed" and the kingdom of Judah was destroyed -- bad scene -- a real heartbreaker -- you can read about it in Lamentations! Of course, because of this, CR has often been accused of being "too negative" -- his simple reply is that his best Friend was very negative also at times -- if you don't believe it, read Matthew 23 again and see for yourself! His best Friend's cousin, a fellow by the name of John tended to be a bit negative at times as well -- eventually lost his head due to an irate female!! While I'm on this subject, CR sometimes raises the question why the church stresses certain offices such as evangelists, pastors, teachers etc. but by passes another one mentioned with these -- PROPHETS!! Where are they, he asks -- have you seen one lately?
We'll add a few more tid bits to this as the days wear on -- you know, maybe old "CW" Sedgwick did pass a few genes on to the Circuit Rider ------ hmmm???
What's going on now? Since "retirement" (of a sort) all kind of things have happened. I'll say this -- I haven't "settled" into a rocker like this fellow below -- in fact that one could be old Julius W. in disguise -- you'll hear more about him from Theo in his testimony and get a view of the REAL Julius at Theo's "place" -- hee hee!
How good God has been and has demonstrated the sufficiency of His grace even in the midst of the most difficult time my family and I have gone through during our 37 years of active ministry. I refer of course to the time period from fall of '95 to the present. God has opened up doors of opportunity such as preaching for other United Methodist pastors (that is, those few that are willing to take the risk of allowing me into their pulpits!), preaching in other denominations such as Nazarene, Church of the Brethren, Christian Missionary & Alliance, Disciples of Christ and a number of times in an independent church -- teaching Bible study regularly -- teaching in Johnstown District Lay Leadership School and now the ministry of Circuit Rider's Range! God woke me up in the middle of the night over this many times and continues to do so with new ideas etc. I am presently serving on the Board of Directors for Mission Utility Vehicles, Inc. (builders of the MUV for mission field use) -- we pray that God will put it on the hearts of many persons to get involved in this project -- the MUV is being used in many remote places to help in carrying out our Lord's mission command. Contact me if you would like more information about this project which is good for churches, Sunday School classes, men's groups, women's groups, youth groups, etc.
Standing faithfully by my side through all these years has been my companion (and best wife I ever had), Jean -- she sacrificed in more ways than I could ever describe -- sometimes "took it on the chin" because of me -- people who had an axe to grind with the preacher, but who didn't have the guts to face him, took it out on her -- but she never complained and shared deeply with me the call of our Lord to share the good news of His great salvation -- her greatest "wound" came in the fall of '95 and in months to follow (that has been referred to under Family Miracle at Jean's Place), but God did a miracle! We continue to praise Him for undeserved love and mercy so clearly manifested in His Son, Jesus Christ, Who is alive forevermore! Amen!
Theo's Testimony -- don't miss this one!!
As I mentioned previously, I do have a rather sordid past at certain points in years gone by and have done a lot of damage during those times. I've been around a long time -- caused a lot of devastation in ancient Israel when I became corrupted -- result was that the Israelites turned away from God's ways and adopted practices of their heathen neighbors -- took up with worshipping their heathen idols -- one was named Molech -- to worship Molech you took a small child and threw that child alive into a burning fire as a sacrifice to appease Molech -- God refers to this abomination time after time in the writings of the prophets and uses the term "shedding of innocent blood" quite frequently! Circuit Rider says that Molech has been "resurrected" in our society with a different ID -- now he is named "Convenience" and the worship centers for this "god" are located throughout the United States in places called "abortion clinics" and every day a few thousand unborn children are sacrificed on the "altar" of this "god" now named "Convenience" -- and of course there are some hospitals that have established altars to this god also!
Back in history my corrupting influence eventually led to devastating judgments on the Israelites as they ignored the pleas of the prophets to repent of their sins and turn back to the true and living God.
In days to come I'll tell you more about the tragedy I brought about when I became defiled and corrupted -- I must confess I really did a number in Germany starting in the latter part of the 19th century -- especially with a person who sort of set himself up as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner of the Holy Scriptures! After he got done there wasn't much left -- sort of like putting the Bible through a paper shredder! Oh, what a sorry tale that is -- and what destruction in decades to follow -- even the United States did not escape! Because of my influence when I got corrupted the mainline denominations (including the United Methodist Church) are now in decline in the United States -- too bad, and it's my fault! Oh, excuse me, the phone is ringing --
"Hello.... oh, Circuit Rider.....You did?....Say, that will be just great! We can go there now?....OK, I'll inform the folks....thanks a lot!"
The Circuit Rider has just informed me that he has arranged for me to have my own special
place in order to pursue this theology thing further -- it will be a bit more private that way -- just click on the
train and you go directly there -- the ride is free!
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