Why I do it

Thank you for reading and staying with me. It would be nice to hear from folks, if I’m accomplishing anything or rambling into cyber space.

I thought that I would buttress my fulminations (did ya like that?), with some of my pertinent background. I was raised in Brockton, Ma. That was where Rocky Marciano lived and Marvin Hagler, who is just a little older than me. It was not a gentle place to grow up, an old blue collar mill city, where every guy in junior high thought he was Rocky (the real Rocky). The only sports I was barely decent at were football and swimming.

While it just sort of happened, I was accepted into the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve in a program that required that I had to already be accepted into a college program. Nothing fancy, but a very good State College (hey I’m pretty much middle everything). While at Bridgewater State College, I met my wife Margie and we have been married 35 years in June of this year, we have three children who are grown, Erica, James, Timothy and we have three grand children.

There is no doubt in my mind that God takes a hand in each life, especially if we just go with it and don’t try to force our own agenda. I was not raised a Christian and hadn’t been a Christian, that really doesn’t matter to God. He is God of all creation, and we are His creation, He is still in control and when I look back in my life He was certainly guiding my life, as He does every life. Quite often though, we mess ourselves up through sin, through our own agenda, our own weaknesses which we allow to separate us from God.

Along with three other guys straight from bootcamp we reported to Group Boston, they had orders to further report to Point Allerton Station, one of the most historic boat stations in the Coast Guard. I had orders to work in an office at Group. They already put  me to work at Group, but I could hear the conversation with the CO at Pt Allerton, who asked (well when it’s a Warrant Officer 4, it’s not a question, it’s a direction), is there anyone else? Yes… Send him. So I was saved from a career of filling out forms, filing, typing, to doing Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, port security, environmental, etc. Had a lot of adventures, made life-long friends and a lot of life-long lessons. The Coast Guard Reserve is not like other military reserves. We are assigned to a station and we are expected to have the same or better qualifications as the equivalent active duty people assigned to the station. So when we were there we were expected to perform the same jobs; search and rescue, law enforcement, port security, aids to navigation, environmental, etc. It was through a pretty serious situation on a case that made me do one of those there are no atheists in foxholes. The next Sunday my wife and two children, rather confused, were going with me into a Methodist Church. Neither one of us really knew where to go, we went there because my younger brother was part of the youth group there. From there God continued to set the course of my life. In the Coast Guard I was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal, Presidential Unit Commendation, Secretary of Transportation Unit Commendation, Unit Commendation, 2-Meritorious Unit Commendations, Bi-Centennial Unit Commendation 6- Team Ribbons, Special Operations Ribbon, Humanitarian Service Award, 2- Armed Forces Reserve Medals, War on Terror Service Medal, six -Meritorious Service Commendations and Joshua James Operational Achievement Award,

Did two years of college majoring in Political Science, got married, and like most people who go to college for one thing, they end up working in finance, and I got an opportunity to work for Chase Manhattan, financing computer systems. Spent three years at Chase, moved on to Motorola, went to Fleet National Bank in Providence R.I. for two years, then back to Motorola total of six years, one year with the Massachusetts State Treasurer, then Entex Information Systems for four years, then Robert Half International for three years. While at Robert Half, 9/11 happened and I became an active duty member of the Coast Guard. At the time I was with Naval Coastal Warfare which is a deployable unit to provide force protection for foreign or U.S. ports. We were able to transport all our gear, set up in ports and live in tents etc. Just before 9/11 I did a 4 week deployment to do seaward security on Vieques which is an island off of Puerto Rico, the year before did security for Tall Ships in Puerto Rico for four weeks. Our first deployment after activation was to Taragona, Spain, doing force protection for a NATO exercise in Spain. This unit was demobilized, but I was put back on active duty to be part of a mobile security unit (Small Boat Tactical Team) in New England to do security at various locations in District One. After this I went back to Pt Allerton Station for two years, did a month of port security down in Staten Island, NY. Did a lot of search and rescue at Pt Allerton and some Law Enforcement, had some great adventures, which I will happily share on demand.

I was a candidate for various local  offices in my (basically) hometown, I served four years as the Chairman of the Republican City Committee and served with other civic organizations. During this time, Margie and I were the State Coordinators for the National Day of Prayer in Massachusetts I had the great honor to organize a state committee that consisted of Ambassador Raymond Flynn, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican and Prof Elie Wiesel of Boston University, Holocaust survivor and Pulitzer Prize winning author, among other prominent church and state leaders, While state coordinators we had the opportunity to organize programs at the Massachusetts State House as well as to work with local coordinators across the state. One of the most active members of the state committee was a lady named Margaret Schatkin a professor at Boston College and a member of the Lutheran Church. One thing led to another, Professor Schatkin had me meeting with a few different Lutheran leaders up to the District President and just before I finished active duty learned that I had been accepted to Concordia Seminary in St Louis.

Academically I finished my Bachelors Degree at Lesley College, in Cambridge, Ma. BS in Business Management. After I did four years of active duty in the War on Terror, we moved from Brockton, which we both lived most  of our lives and raised our children there and moved to St Louis.  In 2010 I finished four years of seminary and received a Masters of Divinity Degree. Margie and I were put through a weekend vetting and designated as “church planters”. Our first call, though, was to a grand old church in York, Pa. and we were charged with putting our church planting skills into a “Renewal” project at First Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. This is a grand old church, with a great group of Christian brothers and sisters, who truly want to reach out in the world to lead others to Jesus. I have served as pastor since 2010 and have seen God do some great things, there is still a long way to go and we welcome all to worship and to become members of the Lutheran Church and First St. Johns.

2 thoughts on “Why I do it

  1. PJ Smith

    You surely have a lot if accomplishment but you talk very little about other people who helped you get where you are. I am sure there is more to your background then what you share here. How did you go from Methodist to lutheran?

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    1. Pastor Jim Driskell, Lutheran Church Post author

      Hey PJ, thanks for the comment. I can see what this looks like and there were other people who were there for me. But I’m trying to stress that it was really God who was doing the moving and shaking, I’m not taking credit for it. I really can see God’s hand in everything I did, even when I wasn’t a Christian. People seem to have this odd idea, well it’s all up to me and what I believe. No it really is God running things and He is directing each of our lives, whether we are a Christian or not. You hear a lot of nonsense about the “Christian God”. Well that’s frankly lame, there’s one God, the Father of Jesus Christ, revealed in the Bible. Cut to the chase plain and simple. Anything else is just wrong. I know that’s not “open-minded” or PC, but that’s the way it is. But there are people that God moves in and out of our lives. In terms of moving, I really had no inclination to move. I had to been on a ministry track with the UMC a couple of times, and then people in the church hierarchy knocked me off and I never received an articulable reason, just “no thanks”. The UMC just has problems with anyone who is not straight down the line ideological and frankly I think they’re far more concerned with ideology then theology. So frankly I’d kind of shelved the idea, I was doing other stuff and either way was fine with me. My wife and I were Massachusetts state coordinators for the National Day of Prayer, which was a great experience. We did it for three years. A woman who got active on the state committee and was helping us a lot was Margaret Schatkin, a professor at BC. I was telling her the story, because it seemed I was getting asked a lot about it. She said that before I gave up on it I should check the Lutheran Church theologically serious and much more in tune with what I really felt led on. She introduced me to Ingo Dutzman a pastor in downtown Boston for a long time. He and I talked and he moved me on to the district president etc, etc. We moved to a new home church and my pastor there Ed Harkey, has been great and he has certainly helped me, but when we moved to St Louis for seminary there was only so much contact from that. At seminary I had people who thought they should rock my boat, but I had people, who really mattered, that really supported me and helped me through that. Short list of Reed Lessing, Bob Kolb, Jeff Gibbs and Tim Dost. Point is, yes people have been there for me, but it seems God moves people in and out of a person’s life for a season. I have some great friends that go back a long time and they have been there and helped me, but most of the time it’s been God doing what needs to be done. And it’s interesting because at the time you just don’t seem to be aware of what God’s doing and then you look back and you realize that God did what needed to be done. So again, I appreciate your interest and I understand that maybe I might be coming off a little too much that it’s about me. But that’s not what I’m about, and it’s not because I’m special. I think that if people would really trust where God is leading and be patient, they will see God’s work in their life and He’s going to do it in different ways for different people. Hope that answers your question, it’s great to hear from you. What’s your story.? God bless you

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