Tag Archives: business

And This Amazing Blue Seeing the Creator through Landscape Photography Paul Sanders

When I joined the London Times in 2002, it was my dream job. Soon, however, the pressures of heading up a department with a million-pounds-per-year budget and a staff of thirty-three were overwhelming. Every day I looked at between seventeen and twenty-five thousand photos. I soon went from a ten-hour day to a twelve-hour day, to a fourteen-hour day, to a sixteen-hour day. I stopped eating and sleeping properly and my marriage fell apart. I ended up having a nervous breakdown. In 2011 I decided to leave. Looking back, I don’t regret it at all.

It came to me when I attended a friend’s wedding, and they introduced me, not as their friend Paul, but as the “picture editor of the Times.” I suddenly realized that the job completely defined me. I was no longer a Christian; I was no longer a father; I was no longer a friend: I was just the job. I had been so frightened of losing that job because I would lose the salary, which would mean losing the house and then losing my family. I lost my family anyway as, sadly, my wife and I separated.

aerial view of patchwork fields by sea

For the first three or four years of my son’s life, I wasn’t a dad; I was just a person in the house who occasionally ate with the family. I was always busy: talking on the phone, answering emails, watching the news, and reading the newspaper. I spent all day rushing and trying to sort things out. As soon as anything newsworthy happened, that was it. Now my son is the most important thing in my life and we spend a lot of time together.

When I first started taking landscape pictures I tried to emulate photographers I admired. I bought similar equipment to what they used, and drove around a lot, but I didn’t take many pictures and it only made my depression worse. I got to a place where I just wanted to end it all.

One day I went down to Beachy Head on the South Downs to take pictures. The camera was a big, square thing that takes plate film. I had a light meter and put it on the ground beneath the tripod. When I moved I kicked it and it went over the edge of the five-hundred-foot cliff. I reached to grab it and I suddenly had the heart-stopping moment of – “What are you doing? There is so much more to life than what you’re stressing over. You’re going about it all the wrong way.”

photograph of sea

I’d been a Christian on and off since the mid-nineties. More off than on if I’m honest; the media world doesn’t really gel with being Christian. So I picked and chose when I believed in God, usually when I wanted to ask for something, but never when I had done something that I needed forgiveness for. I didn’t expect to feel anything when I was sitting up there on the cliff because I felt so alone. But then I felt as if there really was somebody next to me, telling me to find a different path. It was as if someone was saying: “You have got more to give. You’ve put your values in all the wrong places. There are people around you who love you if you let them love you. You need to just open your eyes.” I went away feeling completely different.

I started going to church again, but told the minister that I didn’t come very often because I have a little boy on alternate weekends. He told me that God isn’t just in church, and that if I find God when I am out taking pictures then I should do that. That was when I started shooting purely from the heart, and stopped worrying about the technical side of things. Now I go to places and I wait to feel moved. I try to show the emotional and spiritual moment I am in. Sometimes I pray that the light will improve. It is a matter of connecting with what I’m photographing: the world that God has created.

pebbles and pier on shore

Even in taking pictures, which is such a small part of life, you’ve got to have a faith, something that holds it all together. My faith
in God centers and grounds me. I used to think I was the most important thing in the world. Now I see myself as a small part of something enormous.

And I think God looks after me. Wherever I go, my eyes are open to different things. It might be just a curve in a river, light through a tree, or even shadows. I’m in awe of all the beauty I see. I have been guided to it, and I concentrate on that.

Leaving my job flipped my life on its head. Getting rid of everything I had valued made me realize the value I placed in things. Why do we run through life blinkered on the money? Life is so much more than that. By photographing ordinary things – a pole in the sea, some trees on a mound – I can show people that there is so much beauty around. I used to drive to work at eighty or ninety miles an hour. Now I don’t drive over fifty, partly because it is more economical, but more because I look around. If I come to a corner and see something that surprises me, I stop for a minute and admire it. It doesn’t have to be as pretty as a field of poppies. It can just be the light through trees.

I always come away from a shoot smiling. It might be an inside smile because most people think you’re mad if you walk around smiling all the time. But it’s the sheer joy I get from seeing the waves breaking on the beach and the shape they make when they curl, or from watching clouds move and how, when the light in them changes, the shadows become menacing. And from the way the colors change from blue during the day to purples, oranges, reds, and this amazing blue after the sun sets.

tiny lighthouse by huge sea and sky

Balance sheet utilization fee

A balance sheet is a basic accounting document for corporations. The company’s assets; cash, property, various equity go on the left and it’s balanced on the right by outstanding debts, and other liabilities. Interestingly bank deposits show up on a bank’s balance sheet as a liability. Reason being is that they can show up as an asset when they lend money to borrowers or are receiving interest on some other financial instrument. Otherwise it’s money that the bank has to pay you if you take it back. I worked in corporate finance for twenty years and a big part of my job was evaluating corporate financial statements (a balance sheet being part of the overall statement). Bank financials were kind of a pain, because they are kind of backwards compared to the standard corporate balance sheet.

I guess that is the justification for the following from Inc Magazine: “‘Balance Sheet Utilization fee’. JPMorgan Chase’s euphemism for the 1 percent yearly charge it levies on cash deposits.” (July/August 2015 p 23, quoted from Bloomberg Mag.) Basically if you deposit money with us, we will charge you one percent per year to record that transaction on our balance sheet. I also get the feeling that they did not go out of their way to let people know either. Full disclosure I worked for Chase, they were actually my first real full-time corporate job. I worked in commercial finance, not consumer/corporate bank accounts, so I have no first hand frame of reference. But as a consumer, I would be kind of twisted if that charge started showing up on my statement.

Being put on a company’s balance sheet is their responsibility, not mine, I’m lumped in with the rest of their liabilities, be interesting if they charged their vendors to be listed as a liability too. Betcha that wouldn’t go too far. As a Christian business person, do I start somehow disingenuously levying ticky-tack fees, or do I straight up let people agree that they will pay the charge and acknowledge it as a part of the service I perform, in this case maintaining their checking account.

The article goes on to note: “In related news, Tony Soprano will begin charging New Jersey residents a ‘kneecap-enjoyment tax.” Yea, it is kind of like that, doesn’t make for a good Christian witness, does it?

The distrust continues to grow in general in our society Morgan/Chase, certainly isn’t doing anything to reverse that. As Christians in the workplace how do we live a lot more above board and transparently?

Let’s talk about it or continue on the study we’ve been in for awhile in our Coffee Break Bible study. Any suggestions for how we can grow this ministry, living our Christian life in the Workplace to meet, or do more on line, breakfasts, dinners, picnics? For now we meet Wednesday mornings at the coffee shop at the corner of W King St and Beaver Sts in York, Pa. 11 am. Park behind the church 140 W King St and walk about 50 yards.

Vocations ultimate purpose.

Just finished Patrick Morley’s book A Man’s Guide to Work I got a different perspective that I wanted to share that emphasizes how God is at work in all the parts of our lives. Yes, that includes work.

“What is the ‘main thing’ that God is always doing in the world? It’s bringing people into right relationship with Him and right relationship with each other. To achieve this God has established four universal purposes for us – two for relationship and two for tasks.

  • The Great Commandment: To love God (Matthew 22:37)
  • The New Commandment: To love one another (John 13: 34)
  • The Great Commission: To build the kingdom (Matthew 28: 18-20
  • The Cultural Mandate: To tend the culture (Genesis 1:28)

The Genesis reference is God telling Adam and Eve: “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

While I’ve never really thought about Genesis 1:28 in terms of our work, but reading it I can certainly understand.

Morley goes on to write: “The marketplace is the great arena of human events – innovating, manufacturing building, buying, selling, serving customers, making markets. And the main thing happening in your work is that God is sovereignly orchestrating all the seemingly unrelated occurrences of your day to bring you – and the people you touch – into right relationship with people.

This is the ultimate purpose of work: to bring people into right relationship with God and with each other.”

Morley built one of Florida’s 100 largest privately held companies. I have no doubt that he’s been there, done that and for him to recognize what the marketplace is, that it is certainly included in God’s sovereignty helps me to live and confirm that to those I reach out to.

As much as I see people try and compartmentalize their vocation and their Christian faith, the fact is God is in control of all. He uses your life in your vocation to work on you, and to work through you to reach others. Based on my own experience the faster your adjust accordingly, the more your life will change. It might be better, it might be more difficult. But if we are talking relationships, the one you have with the Father trumps everything. You will find that joy and assurance of being in His will. If you’re priorities are in order, God first and then His will for the rest, life might not be “fun”, might be tough, but it will be an adventure. At the end we hear from Him: ““His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” What is most  important? And as Morley points out: “He doesn’t leave it to human will or effort. Instead, He sovereignly oversees His plan purpose.” (Romans 9:16)

We get together for a mid-week break, the coffee shop at the corner of Beaver and W King Sts, you’re welcome to park behind the church at 140 W King and walk about fifty yards. Wednesday mornings 10 am, I will even buy your first cup of coffee. If you have any ideas for a group of Christians to share their lives in the workplace, please let me know.

Worry, worry, worry, don’t let God handle it!

Ah yes, worry, worry, worry. Oh believe me, I can get sucked in so easily. Then, a few hours later, can’t even remember what I was all twisted up about, but at the time, literally it was like I was feeling my stomach dissolving.

Chuck Swindoll goes so far as to call worry sin! Why? For a Christian it’s lack of faith. Is God in control or isn’t He. If He is, could He possibly be leaving you just spinning in the wind? No. Are there times when we worry because of sin we’ve committed? Oh yeah! Are we worried about the consequences? Unless you’re not paying attention, of course. But even then, God will work it out. It may not be pleasant, yes there are consequences to sin, but trust in Him and it will work out in His wisdom.

Thomas Goetz in Inc Magazine (June 2015 p 48) writes: “What I’ve learned is that sleeplessness is part of the entrepreneurial condition. There’s just no escaping the all-around anxiety that comes with running a startup, brought on not only by the tenuousness of the enterprise, but also by the sheer volume of tasks that crop up each day. Though my recent insomnia is partly a barometer of fear, it’s a measure of effort as well. After all, when i can’t do everything I need to during my waking hours, at least my brain is trying to get something accomplished in the off-hours.”

Come on Thomas. First, from a practical management point, if there’s something you really can’t get done, you hire someone, cut out something you really don’t need, time management, or let it go.

I hear you saying: “Whaddya know about being an entrepreneur?” Fair enough, I always worked in established corporations, and now I’m a church pastor. I was vetted at seminary as a “church planter” and was called to do a church “renewal”. This is intended to reestablish a long-established church. In this case, this church will be observing its 140th anniversary in October.

Now Thomas, you want to talk about tenuous? There really is no established protocol for a “renewal”, we are all trying to figure it out and in the meantime, really just flying by the seat of my pants. I’m not trying to play tit for tat. Thomas has a lot of personal money and sweat equity in his effort. By the same token, I spent a lot of money for seminary, picking my family up from our home of twenty years, the city my wife, children and I grew up in to move from the Boston area to the midwest, then get called to another brand new city. So I think that I can weigh in and with a Christian perspective.

As you might expect I refer you to Matthew 6: 25-34: “”Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? ‘For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Did Jesus have something to say about “worry”? Yea, I guess so. In essence, knock it off! Yea, meek and mild Jesus when He says “O you of little faith. You have enough to deal with right now, deal with that and then when we (you and the Holy Spirit) get to  tomorrow, you’ll deal with it then.” Thomas is talking about waking up at 3am worrying about all his stuff. Really, is there anything that you can really do at 3am to do what you were supposed to, solve some problem? No. Basically you’re spinning your wheels. Is that good management practice? No. It’s seriously taxing your resources, in particular your physiology. You break down and what? You sure aren’t going to solve any problems being treated for a psychological breakdown. I’ve seen it personally, everything’s about your work, your stress, the stress that you’re inflicting on your family, the overall environment becomes destructive. Again, good management practice? No! What do you have to do to constructively deal with this particular issue and move on? Dwell on it at 3am? That’s not accomplishing anything and inflicting actual physical damage.

What’s God’s answer? Knock it off. Are you going to trust me or not. I’ve had times when I’ve dropped the ball, certain that civilization as we know it will now come to a violent end. I’ve seen God work out some of those situations just so incredibly, almost as if I wasn’t supposed to do what I was supposed to. Other times, it got addressed and taken care of.

Believe me, I know what Thomas is talking about. But Thomas I’ve had to deal with life and death. At least 1800 hours of underway time on Coast Guard boats. Nothing you’re doing is going to result in anyone’s death. It might make life tough, but it’s not the end of life. You talk about waking up at 3am, try getting pulled out of bed at 2am to do a search or pull someone out. As a police chaplain getting up at that time to tell someone a loved one just died, or counseling someone who has just been a victim of a serious crime. Thomas and yes too many others of you, you need to get some perspective. Your final comment is “So what keeps me up at night? Knowing that if i start sleeping like a baby, that’s when I should really start to worry”. What as “if I’m not worried, I’m not paying attention”? Come on, all you business types are supposed to be smart guys. Tell me are your resources being wisely allocated? Is your time being used efficiently? Are you setting yourself up for failure. Believe me, it’s been five years for me of 50-60 hour weeks, with very little time off. Ministry is a 24/7 job. I’ve been called the away from a day off because of death. This year, we really can’t even afford a vacation, so probably won’t be one, except a couple of days here or there. I get it, but beat yourself down about it at 2am and see how that works. I’m feeling like a crispy critter myself, but I’m just not going to get into what we called “the overhead watch” in the Coast Guard (that’s laying in bed staring at the ceiling).

Now having said that, yes there seems to be a particular time of day that I’m really vulnerable to this. I’ve been getting up around 5am since pretty much my Coast Guard days started at 17 years old. I’ve been waking up at or a little later since then, it gives me time to pray before anything else and that is when I really feel it. And I really feel it as a demonic attack, I know but seriously it’s like I’m being just dragged through. Christian or not I think that is what is being experienced by anyone who is going sleepless. Now the difference for me is this, when I’m up at that time and really feeling under siege, I take the time to lift it up in prayer. This is where I show faith. I don’t always do it great, and yea I can get really spun up, but I do also feel the Holy Spirit sitting me down, giving me some perspective, reminding me Who really is control. Rubbing His hand over my head, kicking my sorry butt out into the dark and cold to run 7k and get on course for what I need to do in the day.

As I said at the beginning, lack of faith = sin. Seems harsh, but hey, if you’re just rejecting the Holy Spirit, “it’s all up to me and no one can help me”! Another time Jesus said “oh you of little faith”? The disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee and being tossed around by a storm and in imminent danger of drowning. Jesus stepped up and calmed the storm. He then turned around and said “wow, I’m right here and couldn’t trust that I’m going to keep you safe?” How would you feel if someone close to you just rejected you like that? Yea, we’re telling the Creator of the Universe, that He’s just not sufficient to work out our problem. That problem that a week from now you won’t even remember? Yet you lost all that sleep over it. Oh yeah, that’s a smart move, Mr big deal entrepreneur, or anyone else!

Get some sleep, really help yourself. Then wake up a little earlier, spend some real time in prayer, enough for God to let you hash over your issues and what He’s going to do and to calm you down, focus you and send you out there to serve Him.

Wednesday mornings, 10am, we get together to discuss how we live our Christian life in the workplace, anywhere God puts us from Monday to Friday. We’re at the coffee shop at the corner of Beaver and W King Sts in downtown York. Park behind the church and I will buy you a cup of coffee for you first time.

Remember and record how God has moved in your life.

I really encourage people to journal. It’s a rare sermon when I’m not encouraging the congregation to do take the sermon topic and write about it from their own perspective. “Spiritual memory is crucial in the Christian life. Do you vividly recall times when you know God spoke to you? It would be tragic if, in your haste to advance in your Christian faith, you neglected to leave spiritual markers at the key crossroads of your life.” (Henry and Richard Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day p 174).

“Hearing God” means a lot of things. That movement in your soul, heart, head however you put it, when it’s almost impossible to resist that you know God is moving you. The Blackabys refer to spiritual markers in physical terms. God picked me up and moved me from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, so I’m not going to see physical markers. But there are those markers I remember, I think the Holy Spirit brings them, to mind as a way to keep me on course.

We need to do a much better job of remembering the times when God moved us in our lives. That doesn’t mean the tedious evangelical testimonials, “God spoke to me because I’m special and He told me to tell you”‘ ya? No! God speaks to all of us, sure share what He says to you; Mark it down in your heart, mark it where He’s doing it, why, what’s going on around you. God moved you, He moves all His children, so for the tedious, self-absorbed types get over yourself and develop a spirit of humility and grace. I’m really tired of the big mouths that make Christians and Christianity look like buffoons.

“A spiritual marker identifies a time when you clearly knew that God had guided you.” I know exactly what Blackaby is saying. I can’t pinpoint it and I’m not unique because God did it to me, but I am loved by my Father who takes an interest in all those who He has made His children and is constantly working in their lives. We should keep track of those times. As I’ve written, I make a point of what the people in the congregation should take home and journal about. I have no doubt that God will use that to reach each person and guide them the way He wants them to go. Sit down and journal about these times in your life and use them to grow in spiritual maturity. Praise and glorify God for the things that He has done in your life and encourage others to learn from what you’re doing and apply it in their own lives. Go back on a regular basis to see what God has done in your life and raise up thanksgiving and share those with others. Not that you’re somehow spiritually superior, but to encourage them to see God working in their own lives.

We serve our neighbors in service to God

We’ve been talking about vocation in many ways at our Wednesday Coffee Break Bible study. Certainly our vocation in terms of our job, profession, position. Position can mean many different things in terms of our spouse, children, parents, siblings. Our position in the community. Any responsibility we hold in the church, on and on. Positions God puts us in, in His service, but to serve others. I’m sure we recognize that God doesn’t need our service per se. Jesus has done all that is necessary, and God sustains us in every way. We are in His service for what we do for ourselves and for others.

I serve by working to better myself in every possible way nutrition, exercise, study things that are edifying. We are in His service when we serve our neighbors. Surely God puts us into situations where our service to a neighbor would be pleasing to Him. In fact I would hope that we would do works to glorify Him, that others may know that what I did was a result of what God does to me and through me. So anything I do for another is only a result of the Holy Spirit in me.

Henry and Richard Blackaby “Experiencing God Today”, p 122: “God deserves our love and He demands that we love others in the same way He does.” And yes, I will say it again God’s love is of genuine concern for what is best for another, not this phoney, empty enabling love we think of today. What is in that person’s best interests and not ours. Believe me that is hard to do but that is the goal we need to strive for. Heck, in today’s world, anyone who even approaches that is doing more than anyone expects.

The Blackabys spell this out: “We are to love our spouses, not as they deserve, but as God commands (Eph 5: 22-33). We are to treat our friends, not as they treat us, but as Christ loves us (John 13:14). We are to labor at our jobs, not in proportion to the way our employer treats us, but according to the way God treats us. God is the One we serve (Eph 6:5).”

“Mediocrity and laziness have no place in the Christian’s life. Christians must maintain integrity at home and in the workplace… Our toil then becomes an offering to God. We not only worship God at church on Sunday, but our labor throughout the week is an offering of worship and thanksgiving to the One who has given us everything we have.”

How many times have you seen someone decide that they’re just not treated fairly and they do what amounts to be stupid things to strike back? And we all know how that works out. It bites them, it brings them a bad reputation and if people know they are a Christian, it always puts Christians in a bad light. “Our” work is “our” work. We may be getting what we think is a bad deal, but doing work that doesn’t serve our neighbor and reflects poorly on Christ and Christian brothers and sisters really ends up only hurting the people who you’ve professed to be in fellowship with and the Father. Do we really want people to think we are all about shoddy, half baked service? Sure we aren’t always going to be great, but we should make our best effort to be as good as possible and never be perceived as “tanking the ball”. Someone will call us on it and we’re the one who looks bad in the end. That certainly should be our perspective in our work and no less in our family and our church.

Our efforts should even be thought of as an offering to God, not in the sense of earning anything or buying anything, but certainly in the sense of Thanksgiving.

Even when others fail us, refuse us, treat us poorly, we continue to serve because our service is always given in thanks to God. Take a break during the week, Wednesday mornings, the coffee shop at the corner of W King and Beaver Sts in downtown York, Pa.  10am, park behind the church. I will even buy you your first cup of coffee. No charge, no obligation.

A lesson in corporate life Dennis Kozlowski

Thank you to Dr Meyer for this, I had not heard about Dennis Kozlowski recently. I think Dr Meyer is being kind, I had a very tiny bit to do with Tyco at the time, they were a customer, so a very little interaction and at a low level, but it made me aware of what Tyco was and who Kozlowski was. Let’s just say I never heard anyone speak highly. This quote from the Boston Globe: “Kozlowski was among the most caricatured of imperial chief executives in an epoch of white-collar crime that included Bernard J. Ebbers of WorldCom and Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling of Enron. But unlike businesses plundered by other felons, Kozlowski’s Tyco has thrived, employing 57,000. Enron and WorldCom became corporate corpses. Yea, you really have to work at it to stick out in that crowd.” He was a “ruthless cost-cutter”, (Boston Globe https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/03/02/dennis-kozlowski-from-infamy-obscurity/fdemfnhgN7eaN2Q88liLmO/story.html ) in this day and age of bureaucratic entitlements, corporate living is, quite often, living day to day with little if any frills. And believe me I’m not the least bit naive about those who are corporate fat-cats, but they are very few and far between.
There’s no indication of whether Mr Kozlowski has been led to Christ, but this is an interesting perspective in how things to catch up with you when you are living for self.

Meyer Minute for March 3

I hadn’t thought about him at all, but why should I? He was all over the news years ago, but news is usually a spectator sport that we watch only to move on to our daily duties. So when Dennis Kozlowski was all over the news because of his crimes, held up for the scorn of us common people, I paid attention, smiled when he was sent off to prison, and then forgot him. Assuming you also forgot, Mr. Kozlowski was the prodigal head of Tyco who, for just one example, spent $2 million on a birthday extravaganza for his second wife. He was convicted for taking $100 million of company money. Now he’s out of jail, totally free, and says he’s changed. “I’m not that person anymore.”

Getting to the moral of today’s Minute: “Mr. Kozlowski tells the story of a man who recently stopped him in Grand Central Terminal. ‘Hey,’ the man asked, ‘Aren’t you Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft guy who just bought the Los Angeles Clippers?” Dennis Kozlowski smiled, turned, and continued on his way.” (David A. Kaplan, New York Times, March 2; A1, B4)

Sooner or later we get it, that the world doesn’t revolve around us. “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psalm 103:15-16). “The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:25).

Thank You, Lord, for whatever teaches me, a creature of a day, to be humble and thankful for Your mercies. Amen.

Dr Meyer, gracious as ever. I sincerely pray that Mr Kozlowski comes to know Christ as his Savior. But his life is also a lesson in how the things of the world can draw us away from what/Who is really important and then leaves us dumped in a heap. If we continue to trust the world it only leads to destruction. If we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior then we will know true life and eternal life in Him. The world can only destroy us and it will.