May 5, 1961: The date of the launch of the first US manned space flight. Alan Shepherd’s Freedom 7 capsule reached an altitude of 116 miles an when he splashed down the flight had taken just 15 minutes,

NASA of course orbited the earth (John Glenn), went from a 1 person capsule to a 2 person capsule (the Gemimi program) and reached the Moon in the summer of 1969 with Apollo. But it all started with Mercury.

Encouraging Angels launched our live broadcast of Alive At 5! last Wednesday. It took a lot of work to get to that point and we are still working out issues of a technical nature. We are still really in the period of a ‘soft launch’ as we work out the bugs before we do a ‘Grand Opening’ with a marketing campaign to help get the word out.

We look to serve the special needs/disabled/MR community wherever they are. The fact is that the majority of the disabled and their caregivers have limited ability to get out so we are using the broadcast to speak directly to them. So if you (the affected person and the caregiver) are ‘stuck’ where you are you can use the broadcast to have a sense of belonging and a place to receive music, message and fellowship.

If you run or work at an institution or church, we look to perform, minister and broadcast live from your venue. If would would be interested in hosting EA’s ‘Alive At 5’ please contact us.

Getting A New Ship To The Launch Pad

Encouraging Angels is a ministry to the disabled, the MR and special needs through music, message and testimony. We have been ‘at it’ going on 13 years and our ‘Alive At 5:55’ is now entering its 10th year. We have ministered to a lot of affected folks as well as those who love and care for them (whether they be family or professionals).

We have seen a lot of changes as well and that brings us to the purpose of this post. We are committing 2019 to being a year of change and growth. Change in getting many more involved in experiencing the ‘music, message and testimony’ by reaching out through a regular broadcast to those are cannot come to us. We will engage in a campaign of phone calls and marketing in order to get those who cannot physically come to us to be not only aware of us, but aware that they can participate in their own way through the broadcast we will provide.

So this is indeed a ‘new chapter’. But in 2019 change in delivery also means a change in the technology used to achieve it. A -big- change.

Before we kick this off we have to learn how to set up and produce a 3 camera shoot. We have to learn how to set up and operate a professional audio and video broadcast interface (hardware and software). Because we are broadcasting in the public domain we have new copyright issues to comply with that we didn’t have to really worry about previously. And a few other things as well that go along with this change…

Its a lot to assimilate, understand and carry out in order to get this ship onto the launch pad and a bit more for a successful launch into this new endeavor. We hope that as you see this emerge in the near future that you and/or your friends/family or acquaintances who are those we are looking to serve will consider participating.

Delays and Delta Dawn

So we normally start our Spring/Summer session of 'Alive At 5:55' a few weeks earlier than we are this year. My wife's Dad developed pneumonia and died (91 yrs old) just about 4 weeks ago and as you can imagine, there are a few things to do in wrapping up his affairs and the emotional cost of saying goodbye to someone so close whom we really (especially my wife) really took care of for the last 11 years since his wife (my mother-in-law) died.

As you may know, our ministry to the disabled is a music ministry that helps to create socialization and acceptance of the disabled and 'MR' community. Music is a very healing thing and something that binds people of many backgrounds together.

As my wife and I sat with her Dad in the hospital on his last day on earth, my wife took out her iPhone and put on Pandora for her Dad. He loved country music; both kinds: Country -and- Western. 'Delta Dawn' came on and I couldn't help but to think of just how fitting that song was for him... 'and did I hear you say he was-a meetin' you here today to take you to that mansion in the sky?'

For all of us, at that moment when we breathe our last, we will be met by 'he'. Either 'He' known as Jesus Christ, our redeemer because we made a decision to trust Him with our life and believed that 'He' is the Son Of God, is very God of very God and lived the perfect life in our place and died on the cross to save us from our sins and rose to life so that we might have eternal life. will be met by 'he' known as Satan and taken to a place that is completely separated from God and what Jesus described as a place where...'the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.' (Mark 9:48)

As my wife eulogized her Dad later that week she told those that were there to honor him that she and I had had numerous discussions with her Dad about accepting Christ as his savior and that her Dad did indeed accept Jesus as his deliverer and that we could have the confidence that her Dad was now in the presence of The Lord-he was now in 'that mansion in the sky'.

So as we start our 2018 season we do it with a heavy, but grateful heart and that the reason we keep doing Encouraging Angels is so that we can share Jesus with those that we know and minister to.

The Pittsuburgh Marathon and The Narrow Road...

So there was this Juggler who was giving a sermon...

Sounds like the start to a joke right? Well this was part of the church service that I was a part of last week for my special needs friends (I was delivering the praise and worship for the service).

The juggler (who normally juggles for the congregation but didn't juggle this week; he was substituting for the pastor who was off in California...) started off talking about 'The Narrow Road'. He talked about his niece who lost her way, fell into the drug culture, robbed a bank and is now on her way to paying her debt to society. His message was not structured well, but he made his point: follow Jesus and stay on 'The Narrow Road'.

His abrupt message made me think about my race in the recent Pittsburgh Half Marathon. This was my first race at this distance (13.1 miles) and I loved it was was excited to run it.

Starting at about mile 11 there is a -very long- uphill section of the course that starts in the South Side when you turn from Carson Street onto the Birmingham Bridge. It is almost 1 1/2 miles uphill until you start your final decent to the finish line on the Blvd. of The Allies. At the end of the Birmingham Bridge the Half Marathoners make a 'left' and run up into the Hill District and the Full Marathoners make a 'right' and go up into Oakland.

All the while when you are running the Birmingham Bridge there are volunteers announcing on bull horns for the Half Marathoners to turn left at the bottom of the bridge. Even when you make the left hand turn to head up into the Hill District the Pittsburgh Marathon has large signs that read 'You Are Now On the Half Marathon Route'. Thank goodness that the people in charge of the Marathon were very demonstrative about telling us runners which was the right way to go as I am sure that more than one runner has made a wrong turn there in the past in midst of competition, stress and exhaustion.

If you were running the Half Marathon and were to make a wrong turn and headed into Oakland instead of the Hill District it would be very disheartening to first, discover that you were headed the wrong way and secondly, to realize that you had to run a lot further that you would have had to if you had just followed 'the way' in the first place.

In life, when you make a wrong turn and judge yourself for making a mistake, most of the time you can turn around (repent) and keep running in the race towards the finish line. If however, we do not judge ourselves and keep going the wrong way someone else is going to judge us; either an actual judge (like with the Jugglers' niece) or we will have finished the wrong race.

So we can repent and still make it to the finish line. But make no mistake; there is only -one- finish line in any race. If someone tries to shorten the race or cheat to get to the finish line, he or she is disqualified. And so, there is only one road with one gate, the Narrow Road to Heaven. Jesus said Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. (John 10:7-9(a))." Just as there is only one finish line in any race and only one way through it, there is only one way to be saved, one 'gate', one Savior.

I am very happy to have run and trained for my first Half Marathon. I loved it and would do it again. Hopefully the next time I won't have to train hurt and run hurt. I finished in front of 59% of the race participants. Not bad for a first time. My talented 20 year old son on the other hand finished in front of 98.2% of the race participants (and that is with stopping to go to the bathroom in the middle of the race!).

In the midst of the competition, stress and exhaustion of life if we keep our eyes on Jesus we don't have to make wrong turns. Even though the way is difficult sometimes (for some of us, all the time), we will get to the finish line if we keep our sights set on the right guideposts. So what does a Juggler, a sermon and a Half Marathon have in common? A lot it seems........


Why am I writing about running on a disability blog?

On the surface it doesn't seem to make much sense.

If our job is to ‘encourage’ the church to fulfill its obligation to the biblical command to `go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' (Luke 14:21b, NASB), then what does running have to do with that?

Just because your task is to get the church to satisfy its duties to go to the disabled/special needs/MR population and make them a part of the church it doesn't mean that the 'church' actually will do it. In the early days of Encouraging Angels I spent a lot of time in 'cold calling' churches and pastors to 'encourage' them to allow us to have a 'Disability Sunday' at their church. This way someone in the church might take the the mantle of assimilating the affected into the local body of believers while they hear the story of our family and in particular, the story of our daughter, Hannah.

Long story short, 99% of the church could care less about the disabled. If they did, you would find them in the church. The year 2000 US Census stated that about 19% of Americans claim a disability. When is the last time you saw -one- wheelchair in church, let alone five or ten? That's why we started 'Alive At 5:55'.

I ran 10 miles yesterday without having a face to face meeting with the pavement like last week (if you didn't read it, please take a look at last weeks blog). Felt pretty good when I was done. Race coming up soon...

In life, when people don't do what they should it is disappointing. When the church doesn't do what Jesus has clearly commanded, they are probably apostate. They may talk a good game, but the real evidence of faith is -action-. If they were recruiting disabled folks at the same rate they coral business owners, professional football players and people who don't have visible 'impairments' I wouldn't be so hard in my assessments.

Running in a competition is a bona fide article of truth. No matter how you feel or what injuries (impairments) you have, the clock still tells you the real facts when you are done. Although not all can run in a competition because of certain conditions, -all- can and must run the race of life. Encouraging Angels wants to run with our 'special' friends for as long as we can.

I went for a 10 mile run but I was tripped up in Shadyside today...

I am training for longest race I have ever run. Last Sunday I thought that it was over as I was suffering from not only terrible shin splints (for the last 6 weeks) but also acute Plantar Fasciitis. This past Monday I went to see Dr. Martin Gallagher M.D. who gave me chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture to treat my shin splints and the plantar fasciitis. Later on that day I was able to run four 1-mile repeats!

Since I was now functional again (I will be receiving at least one more treatment) I have been training all week which leads me to today...what runners call the 'long run'. I (and my son who also ran 10 miles; but not with me because he is just too fast for me) went out to Oakland/Shadyside to run a 5 mile loop two times. It serves to build endurance and provide a good excuse to eat a hot dot at the 'O' (the 'Original' Hot Dog shop) in Oakland for our protein when the run is over.

The first three miles went fine. Then, a young couple crossed my path around Mellon Park and began to run in front of me. Their pace was about the same as mine and I didn't want to stay behind them (a big mistake as you'll see), so I passed them and was acting like a 'rabbit' (pace setter) for them.

At this point I was feeling quite confident and decided to pick up the pace. No sooner did I do that that a piece of the Shadyside sidewalk peeked up to see what was going on and grabbed my left foot. At least that's what it felt like.

I really, really hate seeing the sidewalk rising to greet my face. It is as if the world immediately starts running in slow motion. It's always the same, first the foot that trips is the first to hit, quickly followed by the right knee, left elbow and finally the right hand to stop my head from hitting the pavement. After hitting the ground, my pride immediately jumped up (as well as myself) and said 'I'm fine' when the young couple stopped to see if I was alright.

There was a strangely unsettling mix of cinders and fresh blood on a substantial areas of the left elbow. My right knee corresponded in harmonious agreement with the same amalgamation of ingredients and size. My right wrist was now quite sore. Most surprising of all was the feeling of strain on my side and chest. As I began running again to finish the first half of the run (where I could wash out my wounds) I questioned myself if I wasn't have a heart issue. What had happened is that when I stuck my left elbow out during the crash, I stretched muscles/connective tissue I didn't even know that I had throughout the entire left side of my sternum.

I did finish my 10 mile run today. The good news is that by the time I finished the 10 miles, I completely forgot about the shin splints and foot pain that was there earlier!

So what do you do when you're tripped up? I think that the best thing to do is make sure you are functional and keep on keeping on, even if you are hurting.

Sometimes you push through one (or two) problems and encounter another set of problems on your way to your goal. I guess that I am very blessed that I have the opportunity to struggle to cope through all the problems that runners have with long distances. Many of my special needs and disabled friends don't get the opportunity to endeavor to meet these types of goals, even though some really wish they could. At least we can always have hot dogs together (like my son and did at the 'O')!

P.S. Maybe getting tripped up in Shadyside will lead to a way for us to link running, hot dogs, Encouraging Angels and these friends together.

What do you do when people dissapoint you?

What do you do when people disappoint you? I was supposed to go running with a friend this morning after planning to have him pick me up so we could go to another part of the city to run where it is relatively flat and we could do long, slow training run. After waiting for a very long time, he didn't show up.

My day and plans were out the window and I still have a race to run in a few weeks that I need to keep training for.

Disabled and Special Needs people (and those that care for them) live life a lot like good runners do. They have to prepare to get out of the house each day wearing special clothes for what they do. A runner has special shoes just for the type of race or training they are involved in. Affected people not only have special shoes, but many have wheelchairs, speech equipment, feeding tubes and lots more just to run the race of life. Many runners have coaches; the disabled have Occcpational, Vision and Physical Therapists who help them improve.

And like my friend, lots of people act like they are running the race with you and pay verbal homage to the 'said' faith that they are 'down for the struggle' with you. But in fact, in this life when the race is getting ready to start you are sometimes faced with running the race with very few friends. In many cases you must be prepared to run the race -alone-.

Easter was just last week. By the time Jesus went to the cross, all the apostles had abandon or forsaken Him. Oh, a few watched while He was on the cross, but Jesus finished His work on earth -alone- on the cross.

Today, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father with all power. He finished His race and finished well and accomplished His goal. My friend may have left me on my own today, but I still have race to run. And so it is time to stretch, put on my running clothes, eat a gel, put on my headphones and head towards my aim...and at least for today...-alone-.....

The Resurrection: -Knowing- that you know

As I write this it is early Easter morning. I feel a quite confidence in -knowing- that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, just as He said. Skeptics and unbelievers have various explanations to explain away the resurrection. Once upon a time the students of Harvard Law challenged Dr. Simon Greenleaf, who wrote the 3 volume masterwork 'A Treatise on the Law of Evidence' which the The Dictionary of American Biography called "the greatest single authority in the entire literature of legal procedure'. This same man was also the 'Dane Professor of Law' at Harvard.

He stated in one of his classes that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was just  'a legend'. In a refutation, three of his law students challenged him to apply his well known guidelines of evidence to the resurrection account. Greenleaf accepted and commenced his investigation. Greenleaf set out to prove that the account of the resurrection was just legend. However as he examined the facts in light of the evidence Greenleaf accepted the details and evidence as proving the resurrection of Jesus Christ as fact.  This work culminated in his writing of 'The Testimony of the Evangelists'. I believe that it is profound that a man of his legal stature became a Christian in light of his honest examination of the historical information found in the Bible.

Have you considered making your own honest examination of the facts of the resurrection of Jesus? Consider reading 'The Testimony of the Evangelists' and the accounts of the resurrection in the New Testament (Matt 28, Mark 16, Luke 24).

Confidence comes from -knowing- that you know...


The Encouraging Angels Blog

Things are moving into higher gear here at Encouraging Angels. As always, I am providing music services 4-6 days per week. Starting this Wednesday we start 'Alive At 5:55' our worship gathering designed to 'encourage' the disabled, special needs and their caregivers through live music, video study and discussion and prayer. Coffee and Lemonade are always provided. We gather at the North Hills Alliance Church 2298 Rochester Road, Pittsburgh PA. 15237 in the Chapel. If the weather is inclimate or a holiday is close, please check the home page of the EA website ( for the status of 'Alive' (if we are going to meet) that week.

We are starting an exciting new video study 'It's Not Too Late' by Tony Evans. If the events of your life have led you to believe that it's too late for you this study will convince you that it's not! Please consider joining us this Wednesday.