Archive for October, 2008

Where Did Halloween Come From?

Come back this weekend! I will be posting a couple of funny videos. I know that I just made your day, but please hold back the loud cheers out of respect for those around you..

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Somewhat Special Edition:

QUESTION FROM A STUDENT

(Click HERE to view other questions)

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QUESTION: Where did Halloween come from?

I don’t know. Google it! Okay…just kidding, I’ll google it for you…

No! This is not a post about what Christians should think about Halloween. You have to make your own decision. I am just presenting the facts. I will not give my opinion on here (even though it’s my blog and I can if I want to :) ). If you want to know my opinion, feel free to ask and I will tell you outside of the blog world. If you can really care less about the history, then scroll down for some interesting Halloween facts!

Here we go:

halloween_image.jpgHalloween can be traced back through history over 2,000 years to the ancient religion of the Celtics in Ireland (not to be confused with the Boston Celtics and it’s actually pronounced “keltics”). The Celtic people were very conscious of the spiritual world and had their own ideas of how they could gain access to it.

The Celtics (no…no…no…don’t forget it’s “keltics” not “seltics”) celebrated their new year on November 1st, along with the United Kingdom and Northern France. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On thesamhain_1.jpg night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain (pronounced sah-ween), when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. These prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter. Also, they believed that these spirits of the dead would rise out of their graves and wander the countryside, trying to return to the homes where they formerly lived. Frightened villagers tried to “appease” these wandering spirits by offering them gifts of fruit and nuts. They began the tradition of placing plates of the finest food and bits of treats that the household had to offer on their doorsteps, as gifts, to appease the hunger of the ghostly wanderers. This is where the “trick or treat” tradition got it’s roots.

Turnips (pumpkins were eventually the desired subsitute) were cut with faces representing demons and was originally intended to frighten away evil spirits. It was said that if a demon or such were to encounter something as fiendish looking as themselves that they’d run away in terror,thus sparing the houses dwellers from the ravages of dark entities. They would have been carried around the village boundaries or left outside the home to burn through the night.

bonfire.jpgTo commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebrationsnap_apple_web.jpg was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.

You get the picture…over time as different cultures collided, the night of October 31st came to have different meanings to different people. Either way, there seemed to always be a connection with the dead.

Immigrants that came to America brought their different traditions with them. For the most part they kept some of the same ideas from their ancestors, but practiced them more as a “party” and “celebration”. Later, it turned into community parties and a way for neighborhoods to unite.

halloween13.jpgWhile there are still people in the world that take this holiday seriously and use it to “connect with the dead”, for the most part it is just another reason for people to have parties and share candy. Parents just love to dress their kids up in dinosaur costumes that don’t fit.

Here are some other facts: (Yes…I know this has been long!) :)

- Halloween is second only to Christmas in spending. Consumers will spend over $2.5 Billion during Halloween. That’s a whole lot of candy, costumes, decorations, and party goods.

- Halloween is the third biggest party day of the year behind New Year’s and Super Bowl Sunday

- 86% of Americans decorate their homes at Halloween.

- Approximately 82% of children and 67% of adults take part in Halloween festivities every year.

- The official Orange and Black colors of Halloween came from orange being associated with fall harvest and black symbolizing darkness and death.

- More than 93% of children, under the age of 12, will go out trick-or-treating.

- 90% of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids’ Halloween trick-or-treat bags.

- Over 10% of pet owners dress their pets in Halloween costumes.

Two Years Ago Today…Life Changed

Yep…that’s right! Two years ago today, Leah and I were packing up an over sized Uhaul truck (they didn’t have the small ones) getting ready to make the trip form Long Island to the Capital Region of New York!

Was scared…didn’t have a job lined up…only knew like three people…but soooo happy because we knew it was what God wanted us to do!

Let me give you some context…

I had been a student pastor, children’s pastor, and production director in (or on?) Long Island for four years. It’s the same state but a whole different world down there! (In a good and bad way :) )  I had moved down from Boston (love that city) the week after I graduated college. Leah still had one more year in school. She was so young! haha She ended up moving down after she graduated. Then…we got married!!!

Anyway, to make a long story short, we knew for various reasons that it was time to move out of that area. We had built a thriving student ministry, loved the people, but knew that God had something else for us.

All throughout my years on (or in?) Long Island, I heard about a brand new church in Malta, NY that was doing some amazing things for God. After all, my roommate in college went there at the same time that I went to Long Island. He had been trying to get Leah and I to move up there the whole time. As I began to learn more about this thriving church in Upstate, NY, we felt God moving. We were right in line with this church’s philosophy of ministry, it’s dream to reach the Northeast, and so much more.

I know it sounds weird, but without ever even visiting an actual church service, we packed everything up exactly two years ago and moved up here to go to Northway Church. I got a sales job within a month, and dived in to help wherever I could at Northway. Leah was able to transfer her job up here. We had no idea what was in store for us. Within seven months, I found myself on staff as the student pastor.

Sometimes it is scary doing what God wants you to do. It was a sacrifice full of a lot of the un-known, but as Leah and I look back and see what has taken place in the past two years, we are so happy! We are where we know God wants us to be! We love Northway and the people! Pastor Buddy is one of the best communicators in America, an incredible leader and has such a contagious vision for Northway and the Northeast! We truly do have a front row seat to what God is going to do here and the rest of the Northeast!

Leah and I can’t wait to see what God does here in another two years!!! I’ll blog more about our transition up here next week! Lot’s of funny stuff happened…

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AND NOW FOR SOME OLD SCHOOL PICS…

Here’s a pic of us in 2003… I have morphed into a different person or something… :)

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And my broken arm…Not really, but I did make a girl puke and one of my adult leaders not talk to me for a month. I was a rookie…

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And Leah getting into way too much trouble…

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And me licking the green paint off of my face? Must of had lead in it. And it was at a kid’s event…

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How Can I Know If Something Is Wrong?

Don’t forget that UNITED is tonight at 6:30 in Clifton Park! New separate environments for Middle School and High School! See you there! NO…IT IS NOT CANCELED! :)

ALSO…there will be a special edition of Question From A Student on Friday. The question is, “WHERE DID HALLOWEEN COME FROM?” I will even write the whole post in this fun orange color! Yaaaaay!

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QUESTION FROM A STUDENT

(Click HERE to view other questions)

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QUESTION: How do I know if something is wrong (sin) or not?

This is something that we all struggle with. Why? Because we all have the urge to do what’s wrong inside of us…the Bible calls it a sin nature. Simply put, sin is anything that we do that goes against the laws of God.

“Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.” 1 John3:4

To keep this short, here are some thoughts for you:

- The easiest part is the fact that the Bible directly lays out in black and white some guidelines for us. The Bible specifically declares certain actions to be sin. For example, read the following verses – Exodus 20:1-10, Proverbs 6:16-19, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Those verses are just a few of so many where God paints a clear picture of what is a sin against Him. There is no doubt as to whether those things are sins.

- The big question here would be, “what about the things that the Bible does not cover?” Well, what I can say is that the absence of it from the Bible does not mean that it is okay. While the Bible might not list every single sin that can ever be committed, it does give us principles that we can turn to in order to be able to make a good decision.

It is good to ask not whether something is wrong, but, rather, if something is definitely good! 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” If there is room for doubt as to whether or not something “glorifies God”, then it is usually best to walk away. The problem is that so many of us, myself included, don’t walk away.

- Another thing we can do is ask, “who does this affect?” We are called to do two things – LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS! (Mark 12:29-30) If you think about it, if everyone followed those two commands, then there would not be a need for laws, government etc… Every wrong thing that we do affects either our relationship with God, or with other people! Every single wrong thing! Before we do something, we should ask, “who will this affect?” and “how will this affect them?”.

- As I said above, we exist to bring God glory. He is to be the number one priority in our lives! No habit, desire, recreation, relationship, dream etc… should ever take priority over conforming to God’s will. Only God should control our lives! Don’t become “enslaved” to anything! (1 Corinthians 6:12)

“And whatever you do or say, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17

The good thing is that while we will always have our “sin nature” in this life, we don’t have to let that sin control us! You can ask God to forgive you of your sins because of what Jesus did on the cross for us. Some of my favorite verses are Ephesians 1:7-8 where it says, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his son and FORGAVE OUR SINS. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Once we accept Jesus into our lives, we can claim those verses as a promise from Him! (Also see Ephesians 1:7)

Someone Help Me!

The time has come. I need to take action. If one more person looks at me and says, “Ooooooh…wooooowwwww…Congratulations! How far along are you?”, then I might loose it. No, I’m not pregnant! Is that even possible? I know it was possible with Arnold Schwarzenegger once (Junior), but not me. Leah isn’t pregnant either! :)

I know that I’m being somewhat facetious (a little), but I know things need to change. I used to run three miles a day and weigh in at 155 pounds wet and fully clothed. Now, I weigh in at an astronomical “mind your own business”.

All I’m trying to say is that I need to eat better and exercise more! I want my calories burned to be greater then my calories eaten. I ran a lot this summer, but my knees were about to buckle under the pressure. Well…not really…but they still hurt.

This is where I need your help… I’m going to make an attempt to join a gym so that I can get into a better routine. Also, I know that if I spend money on something, then I’m not going to just let it go to waste and never use the membership. I’m trying to see if I can use some birthday and Christmas money from relatives for it. Kind of like I am sixteen again.

Where do you go? Or…what have you found to be the best investment?

golds_gym_logo_91_large.jpgGOLD’s GYM:

They recently re-packaged their membership package to make it look like you are only paying $19.99/month. Brilliant marketing! Here’s the scoop…

Pay a one-time $100 fee, plus a yearly $25 fee in June. Then, it’s $19.99/month. In the end, you are pretty much paying the same amount as you would before their new promotion. Requires a two-year contract. $345 total for one year. $490 for the two years. If you join with a friend then you split the $100 fee between the two of you.

SUMMARY: Most buff people to make you feel inadequate. Best equipment and options. Average price. Clean facility. Still too much money. :(

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planet_fitness.jpg PLANET FITNESS:

$60 up front (40 plus 20), and then $10/month at their basic package with limited access, but only requires a monthly contract. All-access is $19.99/month, but requires a one-year contract. $180 or $300 total for the year.

SUMMARY: Not the best equipment. Come as you are judgment free zone. Great staff. Cheapest price. Still too much money. :(

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village-people-ymca-23090.jpgYMCA:

$100 one time fee. $50 / month after that. Full access. $700 / year? Whaaaat? If you live in that particular community, then it’s around $39 / month. So…then it’s $468 /year.

SUMMARY: Full access, but will never use all the sports etc… Nice atmosphere. They have the whole “village people” thing going for them. Still waaaaaaay too much money. :(

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What to do…what to do…What would you do? I won’t ask what Jesus would do, ’cause I think I have an idea. I have never joined a gym, and would love to. What are your pro’s and con’s etc…? Someone help me! :)

Weekly Re-Cap / Thoughts

- Go Phillies! Crush Tampa Bay! Crush them!

-  I have to admit that I’ve probably only watched about four innings of the North American Series…I mean “World” Series this year.

Go Phillies!

We had another great UNITED last week! We are growing. Middle Schoolers still want to hang out with High Schoolers. Pretty funny.

- Are you dressing up for Halloween on Friday? I can’t decide what I want to be yet. I promised Leah that I would potentially get dressed up with her. For what? That’s what I asked. Maybe we’ll crash our local McDonald’s!

My blog recently made it onto a “top list” of blogs on the blog of a popular influential leader (Tongue twister…say that five times in a row) I love spreading link love cheer! Made my week! I now have more readers than my immediate family! :)

-  Speaking of more blog readers, my last post with the video for youth leaders got more hits than any other post since the beginning of my blog!!!! I’ll have to steal other people’s stuff more often! Scroll down to check the video. It is pretty funny. I’ll post another one of their videos this week!

- Since we’re still talking about blogs, I’m going to be making some serious changes to the look of this blog pretty soon! Any ideas?

- I have an all-new “Question From a Student” for this Wednesday!  I learn a lot through studyingthe answers to the questions! This week’s question is going to be…”How Can I Know If Something Is a Sin or Not?”

This week’s Pumpkin pic picks:

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I can’t for the life of me remember who this reminds me of!

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VIDEO: For All The Youth Workers Out There!

For years now, I have known of The Skit Guys.  I’ve gotten to meet them a couple of times. They are hilarious. Visit their website to see more from them.

This video is of one that they did for youth workers at a conference a few years ago. It’s called, “The Chair”. Pretty funny. If you work with students, then you might appreciate this! :) Today is the un-official “Adult Leader Appreciation Day”. You guys rock! Have you ever considered working with students? It’s fun and well worth it! (It’s not really as bad as the video says! haha)

One Of “Those” Weeks…We All Have Them!

We all have weeks where it seems like everything goes wrong. Right? I’m not having one of those weeks, but it seems like everywhere I turn I am talking with people that have crazy stories about an unfortunate situation that is out of their control.

Death, fire, destruction, illness, separation and many others seem to top the list for this week.

One of the latest stories that I’ve heard has to do with my sister and her family. This week, my sister, her husband Joe, and their two daughters Hayley and Amy got home together and sat down to eat. All of the sudden they hear a BANG, then some screeching tires, a few more crashes, and then an even louder BANG! They were practically thrown from their seats at the table.

What happened was that their neighbor across the street with a four year old daughter, was drunk and got in her car. She put it into drive and hit the gas. She slammed into her house, and then put the car in reverse. She then floored it! She drove across her property, went into the street, across my sister’s property, and crashed through their house! Unbelievable!  This lady crashed right through the aresa of the yard where my neices normally play with the dog. Anyway, the lady was passed out from drinking (not the crash).

You never know what will unfold in a day.

Anyway, to make a long story short, they just bought the house a couple months ago. Now, the damage is so severe that the integrity of the foundation has been compromised! The crash also caused a couple gas leaks. The end result is that they are homeless for the time being, and are staying in a hotel for now.

The lady that crashed, seems to have skipped town after her release from jail. She was only renting the house across the street. The insurance situation does not look good.

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A pic of me and my sister. Hopefully she won’t be too angry with me for putting it on here! :)

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The point to all of this is that we never know how our situations will change each day. If your world would turn upside down overnight, how would you handle it? Are you spiritually prepared to get through? Will you only seek God in a tough situation? My sister and her family are a great example. They have already forgiven this lady, and have said that they just care about her getting the help that she needs. It’s going to be tough, but they are pushing through.

Always look to what God has to say:

YOU SAY: “I can’t figure things out.”
GOD SAYS: “I will direct your steps.” Proverbs 3:5-6

YOU SAY: “I can’t do it.”
GOD SAYS: “You can do all things through Jesus who strengthens you.” Philippians 4:13

YOU SAY: “I’m not able.”
GOD SAYS: “I am able.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

YOU SAY: “It’s not worth it.”
GOD SAYS: “It will be worth it.” Romans 8:28

YOU SAY: “I can’t manage.”
GOD SAYS: “I will supply all your needs.” Philippians 4:19

YOU SAY: “I am afraid.”
GOD SAYS: “I have not given you a spirit of fear but a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7

YOU SAY: “I’m always worried and frustrated.”
GOD SAYS: “Cast your cares onto me.” 1 Peter 5:7

YOU SAY: “I feel all alone.”
GOD SAYS: “I will never leave or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Who Created God? Where Did God Come From?

Don’t forget that UNITED is tonight at 6:30 in Clifton Park! New separate environments for Middle School and High School! See you there!

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QUESTION FROM A STUDENT

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QUESTION: Who created God? Where did God come from?

The atheist Bertrand Russell wrote in his book “Why I am Not a Christian” that if it is true that all things need a cause then God must also need a cause. He concluded from this that if God needed a cause then God was not God (and if God is not God then of course there is no God). This was basically a slightly more sophisticated form of the question, “Who created God?” Even a child knows that things do not come from nothing, so if God is a “something” then He must have a cause as well, right?

The question is tricky because it sneaks in the false assumption that God came from somewhere and then asks where that might be. The answer is that the question does not really make sense. It is like asking, “What does blue smell like?” Blue is not in the category of things that have odor, so the question itself is flawed. In the same way, God is not in the category of things that are created, or come into existence, or are caused. God is uncaused and uncreated – He simply exists.

How do we know this? Well, we know that from nothing, nothing comes. So if there was ever a time when there was absolutely nothing in existence then nothing would have ever come to exist. But things do exist. Therefore, since there could never have been absolutely nothing, something had to have always been existing. That ever-existing thing is what we call…drum role please… GOD. :)

Here are some final thoughts:

- Everything that has a beginning has a cause. Right? The universe has a beginning. Therefore the universe has a cause. God, as creator of time (see below), is outside of time. Since He has no beginning in time, He has always existed, so doesn’t need a cause.

- I don’t have space to put all of the information on here, but if you TRULY study Evolution vs. Creation, then you realize that it is not really “blind faith” after all! Just start by thinking about the logical answers to these questions: Can mutations produce intelligent information? Can information really come from non-information? What is the source of all information?

- The Bible says that time is a dimension that God created, into which man was placed. It even tells us that one day time will no longer exist. That will be called “eternity.” God Himself dwells outside of the dimension He created (2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2). He dwells in eternity and is not subject to time. God spoke history before it came into being. He can move through time as a man flips through a history book.

- I read an interesting quote about this. “Because we live in the dimension of time, it is impossible for us to fully understand anything that does not have a beginning and an end. Simply accept that fact, and believe the concept of God’s eternal nature the same way you believe the concept of space having no beginning and end—by faith—even though such thoughts put a strain on our distinctly insufficient cerebrum.” (Isaiah 57:15)

- Like so many things in life, it takes faith. “Faith” is where many people become stuck when studying the Bible. HERE IS THE WAY THAT I WAS EXPLAINED FAITH GROWING UP – We all believe in many things that we have never seen. Have you ever seen the wind? Have you seen history? We see the effects of the wind, but the wind is invisible. We have records of history, but by faith we believe that certain historical events happened. Television waves are invisible, but an antenna and a receiver can detect their presence.

- Do you know that you have a “receiver”? Prior to the moment that you accept Christ into your life, your ‘receiver’ (your spirit) is dead because of sin (Ephesians 2:1). You need to be plugged into the life of God, and then you will come alive and become more aware of the invisible realm that requires faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for the person that comes to God must believe that he is, and he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

When discussing the answer to this question, you can get really really deep if you want. I might continue this next week. If you have further questions about this, then feel free to comment.  I hope that this makes some sense! :)

What do you think about God?

Please Pray For Eliana!

Please join us in prayer and fasting for Eliana Clem! Eliana was born on Sunday and is in need of major surgery! As I write this (6:00 am), they are preparing for the surgery.

Please CLICK HERE to follow Chad and Leah Clem’s updates. You can also view Chad’s Twitter updates on the top left side of his blog.

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God, I ask right now for Your mighty hand of protection and healing for Eliana! Please be with the thoughts, words, and actions of every person that comes in contact with her. I pray for a successful surgery, and a quick recovery. Please fill Chad and Leah and their families with the peace that only You can give. We know that only You see the future and we thank You in advance for however You choose to answer our prayers. Amen.

Weekly Re-Cap / Thoughts

- I refuse to mention anything about the Red Sox or baseball in this whole post! (Crap! From now on…)

- Congratulations to Chad and Leah Clem! Eliana, their brand new baby girl,  is beautiful!

- Make sure you stay tuned into Chad’s blog for updates, and so that you can know how to pray for them.

So many babies to keep track of! I’m excitd for all of them.

- Speaking of babies, I hope that the Tampa Bay Rays fans have a nice morning!

I’ve been nursing Leah back to health this weekend. She had a cold.

- Speaking of cold, I wonder if David Ortiz will be back next year!

- UNITED was awesome. We split Middle School and High School. 

- It’s kind of like how the ALCS was split 3-3 before last night.

Please pray for my sister and their family! I’ll post pics later, but their neighbor across the street got in her car while intoxicated, and drove into her own house. Then, she put the car in reverse and sped across the street, across the lawn, and straight into my sisters house! Lots of damage! They had just bought the house, and now it has a hole in it.

- The hole is kind of similar to the hole that has been RIPPED INTO THE HEARTS OF THE RED SOX NATION!

- Okay…Okay…Sorry! :)

- Anyway, it was a great week! 

- Don’t forget that UNITED is this Wednesday night at 6:30 in Clifton Park! (As always) I just picked up Rock Band 2.

- Go Phillies!

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Here are my pic picks for the week:

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