Steve Schappell-My Blog

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Do you want to get well?

I am taking a Disciple course at my church on the Gospel of John, and I am very excited.  For years, I have wanted to be involved in this course that the pastor teaches, but have been either involved in, or co-leading our "Men's Fraternity" classes.  This year, I wanted to sign up, but missed the sheet, and was told the class was full.  It was still in our bulletin, so I emailed our Pastor, and due to demand, he created (2) class nights.

Tonight was on John Chapters 5 and 6.  This includes the Man at the pool, Feeding the 5,000, Jesus declared the Son of God, and being the Bread of Life.

Part of our discussion was in John Chapter 5, Verses 1-14.  Let me give you some context before I lay out the passage.  Many of the Jews believed that if you had a disease, or infirmary, that you had sin in your life and were to blame.  There was a belief though, that at springs or pools, an angel would come down, perhaps annually, and stir the waters.  They believed that the one who was first in the pool would be healed.  Our story takes place in Jerusalem, by one of the gates to the city, at a pool called "Bethesda."  Here is John 5: 1-14 (NIV)

The Healing at the Pool

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] [b] One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

So before tonight, here is my perspective on this story...
As the story starts, we read that there was a man there for 38 years!  To me, that was a long time.  I wondered how could he stay there for that long.   Now, there are others there-lame, blind, etc...but Jesus goes to this man only and says "Do you want to get well?"
The question to me was one of a spiritual condition, not a human one.  Do you want to be well spiritually.  It is a direct question, and one that the man deflects.

The man tries to explain how he needs help to get to the water.  Someone is always faster than him.  It made me wonder, "Well then, move closer to the waters edge!"

 I wondered why Jesus asks this question to him.  If he wanted to get well, would he not have tried harder to be healed?  (More on this later)

The response from Jesus is direct.  "Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk."  Here was some action.  Not pity.  Just get up and go.  Right into the hands of the Jewish leaders.  The healing was on the Sabbath, where no work was to be done.  And even carrying something, like a mat, was forbidden.

I realized here that Jesus never gave his name to the man.  He did not say, "Hey there, I am Jesus and I can heal you."  The man did not know who he was at the time.  Later, Jesus found him at the temple and said "See you are well again.  Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you."
I did wonder what that meant.  Stop sinning.  Was he doing something wrong on the Sabbath?  What worse thing could happen to him?  For me, it was a healing story that spoke to our spiritual condition.

Our Class Discussion...
Then, we had our class tonight.  And our mind-blowing discussion about these chapters.  This is why I was excited and wanted to run home and type this out.

Jesus asked if the man wanted to be healed.  We assume the question was regarding a spiritual condition of the heart.  Or maybe a physical healing.   The bible says he was an invalid.  We don't know what his condition was.  However, he was there for 38 years.  He was fed, had water--and get this, had an easy life.  He did not have to work hard for anything and was still fed and clothed somehow.   We can say 38 years!  How cold he do that.  Then our Pastor said, what about us?  Some of us work the same job for that long.  Or have a routine that can last that long.  Suddenly 38 years does not seem that long.

Asking the question then about getting well implies that if the man answers yes, then the simple life he had would change.  If he were healed, he would have to leave, maybe work for a living, or change his lifestyle.

The man's response was that the water would heal him, if we could make it there before someone else.  He did not know there was another way.  He said there was no one to help him.  He was stuck in that situation.  Or perhaps, he did not want help, as he was used to his situation.

Jesus responded with a command.  Get up and walk!  Jesus knew it was the Sabbath.  He knew that this act would rankle the Jewish leaders.  

Later on Jesus was looking for the man and found him at the temple.  By now, we feel that the man knew it was Jesus who healed him.  We are sure that others in the temple had identified him by name, or saying he was the miracle worker, or the prophet.  He tells the man not to sin anymore or worse things will happen to him.  We discussed that as a group, and looked at what some bible scholars have speculated.  This put the whole story into perspective and had it all make sense.

What if the man was faking it?  What if his infirmary was not severe?  Suppose he was getting by and not having to do much, and living rather easily.  Along comes Jesus and calls him on it.  He knew the man's condition, and knew if he asked the question "Do you want to be well?" it would evoke a response.  Jesus tells him to pick up his mat and go.  The man does that and leaves.  

Later, when Jesus tells him that he is well and to sin no more.  We wondered, was the man's sin lying to people that he was an invalid.  Jesus told him not to do that anymore, or worse things could happen to him.  We learned that the Bible was teaching that you sin is your own.  That you would be judged for your own sin.  The worse part would be that is he keeps sinning, he would become one of the Goats, in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, where Jesus separates the two.  The sheep go into the Master's pen, and the goats go into the fire.

Anyway, we do not know for sure, and we do not want to take away from a healing miracle that Jesus is listed as doing.  This was just and interesting perspective on a story from one chapter in the Gospel of John.   I am excited for the new perspectives I am gaining from the class and wanted to share that.  

What are your thoughts?


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Radio Days...

"Good evening Beaver Falls, My name is Steve Schappell. And I'm Brian Johnson,  And together we are THE MEN, Thursday nights, 9-midnight on FM 88.3 WGEV..."

With those words, my college pal Brian and I started off our weekly 3 hour radio show at our college radio station.  From 1984 to 1988, we were THE MEN, a combination of comedy, music and mayhem.  We took our theme from a song by the band, A.D., and their song "We are the men."

In addition to our radio show, we each had our own slots.  I had mid-Monday with Steve and Weekend shifts.  Here is a photo from the archives when I was on air, showcasing my only one time beard, and the incredible 80's technology.

Let's take a trip back in time to the Reagan 80's and a small college in Western PA.  Geneva College and WGEV, our christian radio station.  I was a communications major at the time, and our radio station was a small building on campus, right along route 18th.  The upstairs had offices, production rooms, storage and the studio, while the downstairs included classrooms, offices, and our mock studio for training. 

Back then, you had to train offline, and then take your FCC test in order to have a Class 1 Radio License, allowing you to broadcast.  Our station was run as a real world station.  We had a Music Director, a Production Director, Newsroom, and other positions.  The positions were unpaid, but were part of the station flow.  We received a playlist for our shifts, but had room for requests.  We had a log of when to play station sounders, commercials, and music.

Once you received your license, you were put into the rotation and were broadcasting weekly, or daily.  Most of our shows were weekly, due to the number of people broadcasting, and our college schedules being more important.

But the technology...that's what I wanted to talk about.  We are in the 80's...well before Cell Phones, CD's, Computers with digital music.  Look back at my photo and what do you see?  In the upper left, a Reel-to-Reel Machine.  To the right of that, (2) Cart Machines that played what looked like 8-track tapes.  Upper right corner are the Carts we played with commercials, music sounders, intros, etc.

I have headphones to listen to songs that were cued up, and there is a clipboard, with the playlist and log.  We had knobs for everything across the long board.  These controlled the sounds from all the machines, and the music from....wait for it...the albums we played.  Yes-VINYL rules!    Of course, later on, we were also using cassettes, but still.

I almost forgot the studio phone at the left.  At least it was push button, and not rotary dial.  No wait, is that a rotary dial there?  Hmmm.

For news, we relied on "Sparky,"  He was our Associated Press, or AP teletype machine.  News and sports scores would come over the wire, and we could enhance it with news from the local paper.  Sparky had a bell when news would come in.  It was what you would call a PUSH service, news was sent to us, after it happened, and then it would be edited together by staff or a DJ for the news.    I remember the day of the Challenger Space Shuttle Explosion.  I was attending Mass Media class with my roomate.  When the class was over, we were walking upstairs and past the studio when Sparky went wild.  The news flowed out and we ran back to our dorm to watch the news unfold on the lobby TV with others in the dorm.

Between our shows, we did production work to prepare for our shows.  For THE MEN, Brian and I would record spots on the Reel-to-Reel tape machine, and then add layers one at a time for sound effects, etc.  To edit our spots, we used an editing block, razor blade, and special tape.  That's how we edited.  Cranking the reel-to-reel back and forth listening for the place to cut and splice the tape.    It was a lot of work, but was the latest technology for the time.

OK, back out of the time machine and back to 2016.  Over the weekend, I volunteered for the Kids Cookie Break Fest, held at the Junction Center in Manheim, home of WJTL.  They are a Christian Broadcasting station, that includes the studio, outside concert venue, indoor stage and event center.  Before my shift began, I was able to attend a studio tour.

The tour included offices, the "Live at the Junction Center" indoor cafe and stage setting, Production rooms, and the Radio Studio.   Part of the time in the studio included asking questions with the current on-air personality (Not a DJ), and looking at how they work on the air.  Take a look at Radio Friend Phil working the controls.

Compare this to my photo.  What a difference.  What you don't see completely are the (4) Monitors.  To the far left, that monitor is open to their facebook and twitter accounts, plus email.  All the social media that comes in is displayed there.  So requests from listeners some in to that terminal.  The black terminal in the photo is the playlist and the digital archives.  For example, I call in a request.  The on air personality can type in the song title or artist and get a list, then select the song and have it ready to play.  There were no records, cassettes or CD's here.  The music is computerized, digital and ready to play.  The other monitor in the photo are for station information related to the transmission, commercial information, and other stuff.  The board is smaller and has sliders for volume control.  No more knobs.  There are tables and microphones for guests and artists, who perform in the studio.

It is not a large studio, but then neither was ours in college.  You don't meet that much room to broadcast out.  We got a look at their production areas.  No Reel to Reel here.  All digital editing, including a recording studio, where personalities create on air content.  For example on Saturday nights, there is a Top 25 countdown.  I thought it was done live.  Nope.  Completely recorded in advanced, edited and then played for 2 hours. 

For me, I was amazed because I have not been in a radio studio in a long time and it was a great treat.  Thank you WGEV for the college memories and experience, and thank you, WJTL for the tour and some new memories.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The other Big "C" for me

This post is not about Cancer.  No, this is about Cancer Prevention.  When men reach a certain age, usually at 50, it's time for a Colonoscopy.  I've heard horror stories about it.  That you have to drink gallons of bad tasting stuff. (not gallons)  That you cannot eat for days (well,a day).  That you can feel sick and nauseous.  It was basically nothing good. 

In May, I turned 50, and now it's my time.  Tomorrow is my outpatient surgery, and so tonight, I am up in our bedroom waiting it out.  I took half of the Suprep (what is is called), along with 16 oz of water within the first hour of taking the prep.  I take the 2nd half tomorrow morning at 5 am, with more water.  I need to be completely finished 4 hours before I report at 10 am.  Another day off work at least.

The prep was a 6 oz bottle, mixed with cold water to fill up a 16 oz container that comes with the kit.  I must have been thirsty, because I chugged it all down.  It is sort of grape flavored and pasty.  Well, about an hour later, it all started.  No need for further explanation.

My day at work was busy after a 4 day vacation, and I drank tea and Powerade.  All I wanted to do was eat something.  Anything.  I cannot eat until after the surgery tomorrow.   When I got home from work, my step-daughter told me she made pancakes because she thought it would be something I was not interested in.  I would be interested in anything, like the cardboard the pancake mix comes in.

I am thankful for my wife, who is picking up my daughter from work, so I can stay near the bathroom.  I am watching the Olympics and doing some bills.  The dog is with me, and the cat just left the room. 

I did not know what to expect.  So far, no nausea.  Not much appetite, although I can have broth, jello and more water.  Only yellow, orange, or green colored popsicles, jello, or liquids. 

Of course, I am looking for a good result after the outpatient surgery.  My wife is my driver and companion tomorrow and we will see what happens.  I can send out an update after this is all over.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Accept and Accepted

Hello everyone.  It has been a while since my last posting.  A lot has been going on here, including preparing for vacation, yard sales, and house projects.  Let's see how this post will turn out.

I have been involved with Celebrate Recovery as a Men's Small Group leader for that past 4 years. We meet weekly and have a large group worship (Music, lesson or testimony), and a small group share.  We close our large group with the Serenity Prayer.  Part of the prayer goes like this:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.  The courage the change the things I can.  And the wisdom to know the difference."

So, what have I learned to accept in my life.  That is not an easy question, because at age 50, I am still discovering things about myself.  Once you realize that you can never escape yourself--that you are always with, well, you--it changes your perspective.

Here are some things I have come to accept.  Some of these things I cannot change.  Others, I will need courage and God's help to change.  Can I gain the wisdom to know the difference?  That is the question.

-I accept that I am an only child and grew up selfish.  That I never learned to interact with a brother or sister, so sharing was something that I did learn how to do very easily.

-I accept that my family of origin shaped me into who I am for better or worse.

-I accept that I am not easy to get along with.  That my behavior in the past has alienated me from developing close relationships.  And even though I would like to be included in activities with other married couples, I may be the one that affects that decision.

-I accept that God came into my life at age 17, and radically changed the trajectory of my life.  This influenced my decision to attend a Geneva College, and be active in the churches I have attended ever since.

-I accept that my shortcomings during my first marriage contributed to an eventual divorce.  There were many factors on both sides-however, I was able to persevere thanks to God's grace.

-I accept that I made mistakes as a father to my (2) children.  However, it is never to late to change them.  I also accept that I did many things right, and continue to develop and maintain a relationship with them.

-I accept that I am not working at where I want to be, but that God has me there for a reason and his timing is always perfect.  He is allowing me to provide for my household and blended family.

-I accept that I am far from a perfect husband.  I have many issues to work out, and will continue to do so.  Thank goodness for the Grace that God provides each day.

-And I accept that God is not finished with me yet.  That I am running a race that will not be completed until I leave this world when he calls me home.

Well, that was some list.  After all that, I often think "Can anyone accept me for who I am?"  Thank goodness I have an answer of YES.  And you do also.  That answer is God, through his son Jesus.  He accepts me for who I am, in spite of myself.  In fact, we loved me before I was even born.  He loved me so much that he died for me, and for you.  The neat thing is that God meets us where we are, in the condition we are in.  We don't have to change.  Our desire to change and be more like Him happens when we receive him in our life. 

It is am amazing feeling to know that God accepts me and does not stop that acceptance.  His Grace is poured out daily, and his love covers a multitude of sins.  If you have a down day, or feel like giving up, remember that God loves you and accepts you for who you are, and that will never change.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thank you...

Hey everyone,

Just a short note to thank you--yes YOU--for reading and supporting this blog.  I wanted to express my appreciation, call a few people out, and thank everyone else.

Thank you to Rich Deruter, who commented on a post I did years ago.  You were my "God sighting," as it were, telling me to continue the Blog that I let go for a while.  You helped me decide to get back and write again.

Thank you to the Gravel Hill Church Community for your support over the years, especially over the last year during my wife's Chemo and Radiation.  She is on recovery road, but has a way to go  (The after effects can last for years)  Many of you have taught me patience, endurance, and have encouraged me to use my gifts to help others.

Thank you to my children and step-children for making sure I know there is more to life than just myself.  Growing up as an only child can keep you gaze inward.  You are helping me to look outward more and more.

Thank you to my friends, both virtual online, and in person.  I appreciate your encouragement and comments.  You keep me grounded.

And Thank you to my wife for her unwavering support.  I am not easy to live with, believe me.  While we admit, we are both a mess, we somehow fit together, using our separate talents to compliment our weak areas.  You have been an inspiration to others during your Cancer fight (which by the way everyone is in remission, and her latest mammogram was given an all clear!!!!)
You let me write about whatever I want, and still put up with me.  I love you.

There is a place on my Blog where you can choose to follow me.  I am currently working on adding Facebook and Twitter tags, and figuring out how you can subscribe to the blog so updates get sent directly to you.  This blog is hosted on, which is Google based and wants to build you follows off of Google+  (We all know how that turned out....does anyone use Google+?)

Anyway, look for more updates soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I want to be a Clone....

When I was in college, Christian Musician Steve Taylor was one of premier artists of the time.  Known for his satire and wit in songs, he was sort of the Christian "Weird Al."

For (3) years, I had a radio show on campus with cohort, Brian Johnson.  Our show was called "THE MEN," and ran from 9 pm to Midnight every Thursday.  In between our banter, skits, sound effects, and other related tom-foolery (Remember the "Shave Alert" John Bell?), we managed to actually play some music.

One of our favorite songs was "I Want to Be a Clone," by Steve Taylor.  Somehow this song was always dedicated to Jim Langan.  It was back in college, I don't remember why anymore...

Anyway, the song is about church conformity and the rules in the way to worship.  Here is a sampler:

I Want To Be A Clone.
I asked the Lord into my heart.
They said that that's the way to start,
But now you've got to play the part.
I Want To Be A Clone.
Be a clone and kiss conviction goodnight.
Cloneliness is next to godliness - right!
I'm grateful that they showed the way
'Cause I could never know the way
To serve him on my own -
I Want To Be A Clone.

At the time, I enjoyed the melody and the lyrics. And I understood that to be a clone was to copy others.  I never thought about what it would be like to really be cloned until later on.  There was a movie called "Multiplicity," with Michael Keaton.  In the movie, our protagonist is an overworked construction foremen, who through a project, with the Gemini Institute, agrees to be cloned.  Think of the possibilities?  All his problems would be solved.  What could possibly go wrong?  (a whole lot it turns out)

"You can't be in two places at once" have heard that saying.  I have wondered,  "Well, what if you could be?"    Cue the dream sequence...For starters, I could be at work, but getting things done at home.  I could be on vacation, and another clone be at work. Clones would clean the house.  Get groceries and run errands. Heck, I would probably retire, and let the other clones do all the work.  But would the clone that works want the money they earn rather than give it to me?    Hmmm....dream sequence over.

Then I thought about the memories and emotions we experience.  Would my clones feel the same way I do?  Would their personalities be different.  Would my wife know the difference?  For example, if the real me is on a roller coaster, I would experience all the emotions while riding. But if my clone is riding it, would they experience the same thing?  I would not be able to experience the same thing.  I would be watching my clone. Hmmm.  I don't think I would like that.  Then on the other extreme, if I could feel everything the clones did, I would go crazy processing all the emotions and feelings going on all the time.  It would drive the real me, and the clones crazy.  Or make me feel like Professor X does.

I think we all sometimes wish we could clone ourselves, and let them do all the things that we don't want to do.    That got me thinking deeper that while we cannot clone ourselves, we often copy others.  This can be both good and bad.  On the good side, an athlete can try to copy the successful moves of others in order to better their skills.  We can copy a recipe to try and replicate it at home.  Or, we can copy the attitudes of others who have positive things to say and do.  On the negative side, we can try to live and be like "The Joneses."  To want and live like they do, even if we cannot afford it.  Or we can copy a bad habit or wrong way of thinking that we inherited from our parents or others. 

Do you realize that you can never escape yourself?  No matter where you do, there you are.  You can never get away from yourself from the time you are born until the day you die.  You and I, we are originals, made by the Creator of the Universe.  We are not a copy and not a clone.  There is no one like us and there never will be.  That is exciting and sometimes a little scary.

I know that I am unique and creative.  One of a kind.  However, if I were so copy someone, to want to be like someone, who would it be?

Well, turning to the Bible in Ephesians 5, we read:  "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved [a]you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [b]as a fragrant aroma."

When we receive Christ in our lives, and turn our lives and will over to the care of God, we begin to be more like Jesus.  And imitating Jesus--to be more like him, well that is a good thing.  To be an imitator of God is a good goal.  A life-long process.  That's something I would like to copy.  

So, I guess I am glad after all that I am not a clone.  I drive enough people crazy just as I am.  Can you imagine 2 or 3 more of me?  Scary.....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Happy Birthday Mukamwiza!

In the fall of 2013, My wife, Shari Schappell and I went to see one of her favorite Christian artists perform before his retirement.  (Bebo Norman at WJTL in Lancaster)

The concert was sponsored by Compassion International, a wonderful organization that connects families with a child in need from places like Africa, the Middle East, Far East, and here in America.  During a break, we felt led to visit the tables, and we agreed to sponsor a child.  (I had sponsored a child before, and so had Shari)  We were working on a blended family, and decided to add to that.

The tables were filled with dozens of information packets, showing the photo of a child in need of sponsorship, with information about location, family, and # months on a waiting list. The child we chose was from Rwanda, a war-torn country in Africa. Her name was Mukamwiza Appoline, and her birthday was in July. You can sign up there and register online. Your sponsorship starts right away, and for us, have it taken from our account monthly.

You communicate by writing letters. You can do this online or by mail. We write about our kids and what is going on in our lives. We ask about her and her family. We ask about school. We encourage her. And we tell her that she is loved and that God loves her and her family. I know that we don't always pray for her like we should, and we need to write more often.  We do get caught up in our own lives here, that we can forget she is over there. When we receive her letters of encouragement, it helps us.
They have so little compared to what we have, but she always sounds happy. Someone we have never met tells they love us and pray for us. That humbles us.

Compassion provides her with clothes, an education, meals and clean water.  This helps her family as well.   I recently received an email from Compassion that read in part, "We're excited to share an updated photo of Mukamwiza! Isn't it amazing how much a child can grow and change? And thanks to your support it's not just physical growth. Because of your sponsorship, Mukamwiza is growing spiritually and emotionally too!"

She lives in a hillside community, home to around 3,000 residents. Mukamwiza attends the Bigogwe Student Center in Rwanda. Her current schooling grade is 7 (equivalent to ours). She carries water and gathers firewood for her family. Her parents are farmers for income, and they earn around $30/month.
She just turned 15 yesterday on July 18th, so this is a Happy Birthday to her, aside from the gift we sent her.
If you are interested in learning more, visit Maybe you will add to your family also.