Father's Day 2010 Men's Meme

Here's the question:
Who is/was the most influential man in your life? Tell us about him? 

I'm going to answer this and then change a word and answer further. You'll see why. It's probably going to be a bit lengthy, but it needs to be.
Probably the most influential man in my life is my stepfather. That is simply because he was the one around during my formative years. My mother and father divorced when I was young and my memories of my father when I was a child are him tolerating our weekend visits. Those memories are likely viewed through foggy, skeptical glasses. But the fact remains that we weren't close until I was in my late 20's. We don't talk often, but he knows I love him because I told him nearly causing a heart attack and I know he loves me because he smiles when we're around each other. For me, that's a good story, but he's not much of an influence on me.
My stepfather was. And not for the good in most instances. He is/was an alcoholic and drug addict. He was mean. He was unable to be happy, so he made sure no one else was either. He said it out loud once that was his goal. There was constant fear and anger in our home. I didn't leave until I was 21 except for 2 years of college.
Gee, Mark. That's cheery. Thanks for sharing.
Here's why I tell you that small part of my youth. Because without that man in the house, I wouldn't have ended up in church or meeting the men who inspire me. I say inspire rather than influence because when I look at my life, I see more stepfather than these men. But I want to be more like them as they exhibit Jesus Christ in their lives.
My stepfather's family was very involved in their local church. So, we went. At some point, we stopped going to their church and began attending Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes. Bil Gallatin was the pastor then. He taught the Word of God straight up. Line by Line. Here's what it says. Here's what it means. Here's how to apply it. Never mind opinion...just God's Word. That's still the only way I want to hear the Bible taught.
My mother forced me to go to youth group. That's where I met Ray and Brian. Two men who are only a couple of years older than me, but always lived with integrity and honesty about who they are, making no excuses or compromises. They just love Jesus with all their hearts.
That's also where I met the Capozzi family. They basically adopted me. They called me their Sunday son. Nearly every Sunday after church, I would go to their home and do chores, play sports, just be part of the family. That family holds a big part of my heart. Their youngest son, Ken, is a couple years older than me and is my best friend. We are truly brothers from a different mother. I think we talk once a year. But we always just pick up where we left off. No offense, no "you'd call if you were my friend" nonsense. Brother's in Christ first. I watched Ken struggle with some of the same stuff I do. And he was victorious in areas I never was. He has an amazing family of his own with a wife and kids who love Jesus. He's hard working and honest. I admire him greatly.
Kens older bother I didn't see often. He was already married and had kids when I met him. In him, I saw some of the most amazing grace and mercy in parenting I've ever witnessed. He's a HUGE man. Real lumberjack looking...like he could break me like a twig. Watching him with his kids was amazing. More so now that I have my own and know how easily they can get under your skin. But he never lost his temper. There was always love, even in discipline. He's an inspiration for how I would like to be as a father.
Then there's Pa Capozzi. Godly, honest, forthright, funny, loving. His children and grand-children are a testament to his (and his wife's) success in this world. I love to remember him sitting in his kitchen listening to Under Midnight. It's a Christian band from the early 90's. Industrial Rock (think Nine Inch Nails). But the album tells the story of redemption. He listened to it and said he liked it...maybe not the music particularly, but the story. If it glorified God, he was in.

Those are the men in my life that inspire me. I pray that the qualities of Christ that they exhibit will become more of an influence in my life.

That wasn't so long, was it?

Thanks for visiting.

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