Tag Archives: family

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

The word endures CPH blog site Dear Girls: He is not your savior Heidi Goehmann   Apr 5, 2017


Long before Jerry Maguire uttered the words “You complete me,” we as the human race have had a penchant to search for fulfillment in anything but Jesus. We look to achievement, entertainment, wealth, glory, excitement, and people to fulfill us, to build us up, to make us feel valued and worthy of our role and place here on this planet.

While chasing excitement and building achievements can leave us in a whole mess of hurt, there is an epidemic I see among young girls, young adult women, and women of all ages and stages that is quietly but aggressively crumbling the foundations of our relationships.

Our need for men is killing our relationships with men.

In Genesis 2:18, God declares that Adam would be complemented by a helper.

The LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him.”

                                                                                                Genesis 2:18

Life is richer with someone to share it with. It’s why most of us seek marriage. Even as strong, confident women in the Lord, many of us long for someone to share life with. That’s a natural yearning set in us as God molded dust and dirt to create man, and opened Adam’s ribs to create woman. We were created in perfection for the mutual benefit of one another. What a blessing to have a companion, a friend, a lover! God gives us the gift of someone to share our hopes and dreams with, our joys and sorrows. Someone to lean on in the dark of night and to jump for joy with in the light of victory.

But just because it was created by the Lord doesn’t mean we need it.

In the very next chapter of Genesis, we see the damage sin causes in our ability to enjoy life together by acknowledging the weight we apply to the relationship in the struggle with our sin:

Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.

                                    Genesis 3:16 (NIV)

Sin in us creates an internal desire to be filled up by a man. The endless searching for the perfect boyfriend, the reducing of relationships to casual sex, the cultural obsession with how to turn his eye is the same creepy crawling of the snake that fooled Eve long ago. Girls, let us not be fooled.

The only man we need is Jesus Christ.

That first Adam, our boyfriends, our good friends, our fathers, our husbands, or any man were meant to be a complement in this life. They cannot fulfill our hearts, our minds, or our lives.

Jesus came into the world to fill it. His light breaks forth in the darkness of sin and death, sorrow and destruction. He is the light no darkness can overcome (John 1). When He is present in our lives through our Baptisms and His Spirit, we have all we need; the rest is just a bonus.

Because of this, the men in our lives do not have to hold the weight of our daunting expectations. That weight is a burden they cannot bear. When we seek for man to fill us, to make us feel good about ourselves and our lives, the pressure on the relationship is like a pop bottle closed too tightly. The struggle and pressure may be contained for a while with the lid, but either the pop explodes out when we open it, sopping our pants and notebooks in too-sweet stickiness, or all the air leaks out over time and you end up with flat pop, gross and a shadow of what it was originally.

The lovers in our life will never fully please us until we know the One who is the lover of our souls.

We know we are in need of salvation, as women and as people. We hurt. We want to trust. We long for someone who cares for us tenderly, who takes our broken pieces and makes us whole.

Jesus is our Savior. He is the Savior of your heart, of your soul, and of your very life.

Run to Him. He is already seeking you, chasing after you with His grace and affection. In His arms, we are free to enjoy the gift of human relationships with men. We appreciate the boundaries God has placed on those relationships, and the weight of fulfillment is lifted, making way for enjoyment in serving Him as Lord together.

The Gospel for you today: He is not your Savior. Jesus is.


I love my husband, my kiddos, post it notes, Jesus, red wine, dark chocolate, Star Wars, and new ideas…not necessarily in that order. If I could pour time and energy into anything in this life it would be loving God and the people around me, even when I’m hangry or slangry. ?

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NIV are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Los santos de Jesús, los que viven con autenticidad Primera Saint Johns, 02 de noviembre 2014

Hacemos nuestro comienzo en el nombre de Dios Padre y en el nombre de Dios el Hijo y en el Nombre de Dios el Espíritu Santo. Yo voy a decir buenas santos de la mañana de York y vas a dar los buenos días en Saint Jim, buenos santos de la mañana de York …
Y todo el pueblo de Dios dijo AMEN! Celebramos hoy el Día de Todos los Santos, que es también el mismo día como Día de la Reforma que observaremos en el culto de esta tarde, el día en que Martín Lutero clavó sus 95 tesis.
Halloween, que se observó el viernes, tiene sus raíces en un día de fiesta pagano gaélico llamado Samhain [Sawin pronunciado], que es cuando se pensaba que los espíritus y hadas podían moverse con mayor facilidad en el mundo físico. Las almas de los muertos visitaban los lugares donde vivían. Halloween es la segunda fiesta más observado después de la Navidad. Para aquellos en el mundo secular que les gusta pensar en cómo pragmático y la realidad que son impulsados​​, un escritor señaló que “Halloween es él último día de fiesta de fingir … nos vestimos y ‘pretender’ ser alguien o algo distinto de nosotros mismos. .. “En otras palabras, simplemente pone de relieve la falsedad del mundo en que vivimos. un mundo que niega la realidad de un cariño, Dios Creador y trata de hacer en algo mucho mejor que no lo es. El mundo ama a preocuparse de su auto con el aspecto falso de “espiritualidad” que muchas personas hoy en día comprar fácilmente en y negar la verdadera espiritualidad que es Jesucristo. Sigo buscando, pero no encuentro donde explica que lo que la gente realmente piensa que tipo de espiritualidad va a hacer, excepto que les da la sensación de estar en control, pero nunca realmente cómo se realiza ese control. ¿Cómo funciona en términos de la eternidad? Nadie parece ser el más mínimo interés. El mundo habla un buen juego de ser “auténtico”, de autenticidad, pero que rara vez se ve, es sólo en términos de su percepción ilusoria de un mundo sin Dios y luego se preguntan por qué siempre se siente perdida, asustada y sola. Sólo hay una fuente de autenticidad y que está en Jesús. Cuando estamos a un santo en Jesús son verdaderamente auténtico, parte de la cual está siendo humilde, que es cuando confiamos en el Señor para vivir la vida que Él nos ha salvado para. Para estar seguro de ser cristiano es mucho más que las Bienaventuranzas, nuestra lectura de hoy, pero sin duda modelar autenticidad cuando hacemos nuestro mejor esfuerzo para vivir esa vida a través del poder del Espíritu Santo. Las Bienaventuranzas no son nuestras obras, que son el fruto del Espíritu Santo que está trabajando a través de nosotros. Todavía el pecado, el mundo piensa que debemos vivir en la perfección. No, los santos siempre serán personas falibles, el anciano vive en cada uno de los santos, pero el Espíritu Santo nos mueve una y otra vez a la altura de las Bienaventuranzas. El mundo trata de vivir sus propias virtudes, pero es muy claro que esas virtudes son sólo para mejorar su propia vida y el fruto de su propio espíritu, el espíritu del mundo y no del Espíritu Santo. Roy Lloyd dice lo siguiente: “… un hombre que llegó en 1953 en la estación de ferrocarril de Chicago para recibir el Premio Nobel de la Paz. Como él bajó del tren … como las cámaras destellaron y funcionarios de la ciudad se acercaron … él les dio las gracias cortésmente. Entonces él pidió ser excusado por un momento. Caminó a través de la multitud hacia el lado de una mujer de negro anciano que lucha con dos grandes maletas. Él los recogió, sonrió y la escoltó hasta el autobús, la ayudó a subir y le deseó un buen viaje. Luego Albert Schweitzer se volvió hacia la multitud y se disculpó por mantenerlos esperando. Se ha informado de que un miembro del comité de recepción le dijo a un reportero, “Esa es la primera vez que vi un pie sermón. ‘” Schweitzer fue un teólogo alemán, luterano, un organista que estudió Bach, un médico, un médico misionero a África. Fue galardonado con el Premio Nobel de la Paz por su filosofía de “Reverencia por la Vida”, se evidencia en su fundación de un hospital en Gabón alrededor de la vuelta del siglo XX. Es interesante cómo un santo de Cristo, que produce tanta fruta como un discípulo cristiano, por lo realizado y aún en una gran multitud, era el único que se dio cuenta de una anciana que necesitaba ayuda, entonces y allí, para hacer su próxima conexión para su viaje. Un simple acto de un hombre que sirvió a nuestro Señor de una manera tan magníficas, un gran santo de Cristo.
David Kinneman fue el orador en la conferencia en Carolina del Norte que asistí. Una cosa que él regresó a una y otra vez en su presentación fue que las generaciones más jóvenes de hoy en día y, a mi juicio la mayoría de la gente en el mundo, están buscando, es authenticty, genuinness. Ellos saben y nosotros, los que están en Cristo saben que el mundo no es genuino. Todas las instituciones del mundo fallan en repetidas ocasiones y, sin embargo tratar de convencer de su autoridad y autenticidad, incluso mientras ellos imponen en nuestra sociedad y en repetidas ocasiones fallan. Todos nosotros podemos relacionar con la forma en que podemos ver a través del fino velo de la hipocresía que nos rodea. La iglesia es a menudo acusado de hipocresía y, a menudo por una buena razón. Tratamos de convencer al mundo de que somos santos perfectos en Jesús y sin embargo nuestro intento se hizo añicos cuando nos fijamos en los santos verdaderos. Pablo llamó a sí mismo el jefe de todos los pecadores. Él no dijo que en un intento de que parecen ser piadoso, él sabía de los pecados que había cometido en contra de Jesús y su iglesia y él los reconoció y continuó a producir el fruto del Espíritu Santo. No es como una especie de forma de expiar sus pecados. ¿Por qué? Sus pecados han sido pagados a la Cruz, Pablo sabía que no había nada que pudiera añadir a sacrificio de Jesús por nosotros. Jesús pagó por nuestros pecados a través de Su sufrimiento y sacrificio. Nosotros, como sus santos, somos salvos en Su sacrificio, sino como sus santos que fielmente seguimos el liderazgo, ánimo, esperanza y promesa del Espíritu Santo, que es la única manera en que podemos vivir las Bienaventuranzas. Reconocemos nuestras faltas, nuestros pecados. Cuando tratamos de convencer al mundo de que somos perfectos, y sobre todo el mal del mundo, el mundo puede ver a través de nosotros. Pero cuando reconocemos que la única manera de que somos perfectos es a través de Jesús y sólo a través de su gracia y el perdón, que todavía luchamos y todavía fallamos en el pecado, entonces el mundo conozca la salvación a través de Jesús.
Estamos valioso, nosotros somos su creación y somos salvos por Él a través de Cristo. Tenemos que recordar lo valioso que somos para Dios. Juan escribe: “ver qué tipo de amor [que es el amor ágape} el Padre nos ha dado: que seamos llamados hijos de Dios; y así estamos. La razón por la cual el mundo no sabe de nosotros es que no lo conocía … pero sabemos que cuando él se manifieste, seremos semejantes a él, .. “Vamos a ser sus santos y vamos a ser perfecto, no en nosotros mismos, sino en Aquel que murió por nosotros, y debido a que somos valiosos para el Padre y Él ama a sus hijos con la expresión más alta del amor.
Dr. Lutero escribió: “Mañana tengo que dar una conferencia sobre la embriaguez de Noé [Génesis 9: 20-27]; así que deben beber suficiente esta noche para poder hablar de que la maldad como alguien que sabe por experiencia. “Lutero era auténtica, no te estoy diciendo que imitar autenticidad a ese grado, pero es reconocer que somos tentados y ocasionalmente fallar.
Dado que los ancianos, los santos en Cristo se reunieron alrededor del trono de Dios en el cielo, como leemos en Apocalipsis 07:12, los santos alabando a Dios y lo adoran, vamos a tirar hacia fuera las letras insertadas en su boletín y Alabemosle aquí y ahora: Te amo Señor, letra de Petra …
La paz de Dios que sobrepasa todo entendimiento, guardará vuestros corazones y vuestros pensamientos en Cristo Jesús. Shalom y Amin.

Celebration, Feasting, Drinking, because we are His and that’s something to celebrate Isaiah 25: 6-9, Matthew 22: 1-14 First St Johns October 12, 2014

For the audio of this sermon please click on the play button

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and God’s children celebrated and said AMEN
Feasting, that is really about? … Celebrating! Absolutely! Many churches have banquets to celebrate the year, and the ministry God leads them to perform, to recognize those who serve their church and in a festive way God’s love and delight in us. I’m told that the men here at First St Johns used to bring a keg of beer into the meeting room in the school building. I’m not encouraging the idea, but hey we’re not Baptists! Martin Luther certainly did nothing to discourage drinking of beer. In our reading in Isaiah, the Hebrew word that is used for banquet is hT,v.mi ((mishtah) which means “feast, drink, banquet”. I’m not saying “hey, let’s go get a keg”, I’m not saying no, just no stupid. The ancient Israelites would have readily understood that part of what Isaiah is describing as a banquet would be drinking, probably wine. We live in a world where fear is so prevailing. Yea, we celebrate, but it’s always with sort of detachment, at arm’s length with each other. We get to celebrate once a week! Too many people see it as a chore, an obligation to be fulfilled. We get to be in His presence every Sunday morning and that is a celebration. I hope it comes across to you, that when I lead worship I’m doing it in a way that is enthusiastic, excited, I get to be here, I get to lead worship in this magnificent place, I get to tell everyone how great God our Father is and what His Son Jesus Christ has done for us. If that’s not worthy of celebration, well what is? We can get into a discussion about how we worship. Many people would claim that liturgical worship isn’t “celebration”, that it’s just a rote way of doing the same thing. We’ve let the world tell us how to “celebrate”, we forget what celebration is in the worship of Jesus.
A “Satanic Black Mass” was held recently in Oklahoma City. Fox News noted that “dozens” participated in the mass, while those who stood opposed to the “mass” far outnumbered the participants. Kudos to the Roman Catholic Archbishop who held Holy Mass at a local church, that was attended by over 1200 people, almost a hundred times those who attended the Satanic Mass. The Archbishop’s message was something to truly celebrate in the face of the world’s depraved observance: “as Christians “we know that Christ conquered Satan. The war has been won, Christ has conquered, though skirmishes will continue until Christ comes to reign forever.”1
Notice how the world mocks Christianity? They mock the mass, the liturgy, worship like we Lutherans conduct. You never see them mock worship like those of, let’s just say those who are all happy-clappy, telling you that it’s all about you and being “happy” and being entertainment versus what we do, which is worship. I truly think of our worship as a time of joy, there should be exuberance and celebration, I feel joyful and enthusiastic when I lead worship and I hope you will tell me if I’m not being joyful or it’s not coming across. I don’t see worship as a chore, I see it as a couple who are members here told me, “I get to come to church and worship”. The rest of the world holds back in fear and worry, they are afraid that they will be criticized or that their dignity will be affected. We get to celebrate every week and as I greet people as they leave worship I see joy, I see enthusiasm. But then they go back into the world, they let the world’s agenda dampen their joy and enthusiasm. They let the world’s message beat them down, “that wasn’t ‘fun’, that was boring, rote ritual”. No it’s not! We get to remember all that has been done for us, all that we have to be joyful and thankful for. Why do we let the world impose on us with its cynical and depressing attitude?
It’s often because we really believe the world’s message, that it’s a scary, fearful, ratrace, and now that you’re back in that world, you have to put aside that church stuff and realize how scary it really is.
It’s not! Unless you let it be. We have the promises, grace and love of Christ in our lives. There’s nothing to be afraid of! Jesus tells His disciples in John 16: 33, just before He is to be crucified, that yes, difficult times are ahead; “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The world can’t harm you, the world’s opinion doesn’t matter, I have overcome the world and since I am in you and you are in me and I have overcome the world, you have what I have given you, what I have promised you, joy, confidence, the knowledge that this world is not the real thing, it is not genuine. What the world says and does is phoney, only what I say, the Lord and Savior of your life is genuine, what you receive here in worship is genuine and you should celebrate that and take that attitude back into the world. We need to push back against the world. We are all so afraid of rejection, “oh here comes that crazy Bible thumper”. Heavens, that takes away our dignity. At last week’s conference someone made the comment that there is always push back against our message in Jesus. D’uh! Of course there is, how could it be otherwise? Jesus told us there would be. The conference was centered on our ministry to younger generations, that these people have left the church. Why? I submit because there is a serious lack of genuineness in the church. Why believe something that no one really stands up for and asserts that this is what is really important. No one is going to buy something that they feel is not genuine in its claims.
We don’t celebrate our faith and our worship, we don’t show what it means to be genuine in our discipleship and then we wonder why no one is buying. Those in the world know how phoney and irrelevant the world’s institutions are. They are looking for the genuine and we have it right here and we get to celebrate it in worship every week. I submit to you that instead of this sanctuary and building being so empty the rest of the week, that we come for other worship, Matins, confession, prayer, other small groups. What else can we do to make our worship more genuine, every day, not just on Sunday? Let’s spend more time in prayer, studying Scripture, sharing our faith with brothers and sisters and those in the world. That’s what the younger generations wants and they know, that when it’s done right, not the phoney stuff the world tries to convince us is “church”, that it does produce joy, peace, comfort and assurance that God is with us, that He loves us 24/7, that He wants what is best for us. That’s why Satanists mock what we have and not the phoney worship. But we take it for granted, we let the world drive us down, instead of us going out and showing the world what true joy and love is.
Isaiah is telling the Israelites, this is what’s going to happen. It’s not some vague metaphor, it is genuine, true, giving hope and assurance. When you really let it become part of you, realize what God is promising, you should be at least this high off the ground (holding your fingers at least two inches apart). God is going to provide us a feast of rich food of well aged wine. He’s telling this to a people who often live hand to mouth, we get plenty of food, they never had enough, God is telling them ‘you will have a gift far beyond your imagination, you will have joy and all you could want.’ Jesus is telling us that we are not worthy of His great wedding feast, but you know what? He wants us to have it, He wants us to have a time of joy and plenty beyond anything we’ve ever seen. Even now we are so blessed, provided with so much, and yet we have no joy. Please remember what we’ve been given, share it with others, the joy grows only when you share it with others and then you see the effect of their joy and how it builds yours in Christ our Savior. Spend some time journaling on all that you have to be joyful for.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

Please let’s start taking marriage and child raising seriously

The following is from a post from a brother pastor, Eric Ekong.

“Is marriage obsolete? In a recent Pew Research poll, about 40 percent of Americans assert or strongly assert that marriage in America is obsolete. You probably know the dismal stats about the divorce rate in our country. Here are nine reasons people give that might explain the steady collapsing of marriage in America:

I assume that the relationship is probably going to break up at some point, and the breakup will hurt less if we were never married in the first place.
–Marriage is an exploitative, chauvinistic anachronism that heavily favors patriarchal control. Liberated women will more likely get what they want on their own.
–From the male point of view, women are giving it away these days. You don’t have to commit to her to get sex.
–Single parenthood is the new normal. African-Americans are already there with single-parent birthrates in some places above 70 percent. White folks’ single parenthood stats are following.
–My mom was a single parent, and I turned out fine.
–Marriage is something you can think about when your kids are raised and you are secure in your job.
–Cohabiting preserves your freedom of choice.
–Movies and TV shows relentlessly portray young men as either uneducated, clueless, reckless, socially inept, or violent. Why would any woman want to lock in her life to such a high-risk partner?
–I’m not going to get married until I find the perfect soul mate.

Are these the attitudes you want in your children’s minds? In your grandchildren’s? In your own spouse’s? If you don’t, God has a better way. Let’s give the divine designer a chance to explain to us how to be happily married till death us do part and how to build a family life that will give him glory.”

Me – People love to talk about how smart they are today, when it comes to marriage, commitment, living life in a strong and faithful manner, way too many people, have way too little discernment. How do you think this affects society as a whole? When the burden gets to be too much on those who are trying to live responsible, faithful lives, how do you think it will work out for the rest.

Point one – Yes, I guess if you have a fatalistic view of marriage it will fail. Hey how about this, grow up, make a commitment, live a responsible life and decide that you will make it work. In the meantime stay out of bed with anyone who isn’t your spouse. Oh yeah, I get it, all the excitement, none of the responsibility. How do you really think that’s going to end up?

Marriage is a partnership, that too many men and women today think can be manipulated and played with. How about we all decide to be grown ups and truly commit to what is best for each other and children, and quit playing games. Exploitive? I’m not saying there aren’t bad situations, but the reality is this, the highest rate of poverty is on unmarried mothers. Married women, have a much lower rate of poverty, men will step up and provide. The nasty swill of those people that compose the media love to take isolated situations, make them the rule, distribute their extremely poor “work” to people who gullibly swallow it and there you have it. Broken families, no mutual responsibility and this nonsense that too many women believe that the government will give them all they want. Afterwards and I’ve seen plenty of “afterward” pictures, you have women living in substandard housing with children they can’t keep up with and the spiral continues down and down. Hey there are women that do step up and manage, but I would bet you anything that they would tell you it was much harder then it had to be.

Single-parenting is not a “norm”, it may be the situation, but if people were truly honest about their platitudes “it’s all about the kids”, they would try as much as possible to raise them in a family of a man and a woman. That is how children are raised the best, the research shows it over and over again. There are exceptions, but really, why would you want to try to be the exception, when you can step up and do what’s best for children. Be honest, it’s not about the kids, it’s just about you.

OK, fine, marriage and children are only for when you have a secure home. OK, when do you think that will be? Yea, right, come on. If that’s the standard, then a further standard should be this: “Until such time I am ready to raise children like that, I’m not going to put myself in the position where I could have children.” Yea, people like to get all righteous at one end, then the other end, ahhhh, not so much.

“Cohabiting preserves your freedom of choice.” and “I’m not going to get married until I find the perfect mate.” Seriously? I don’t even know how people can say this with a straight face. Yeah, “choice”, while you’re making your “choices”, what do you think the other person is doing? This is just a recipe for disaster for both of you. The person who says this thinks they’re cool and is showing they’re clueless. The “perfect mate”? There isn’t one and even more ironically, you certainly aren’t the perfect mate either. Hmmm, you want perfect, but you aren’t even close to being able to offer it. Yeah, let me know how that works out.

For a society that loves to tell people how smart they are, wow, “don’t care about tomorrow”, “don’t care about another person”, “don’t care about my kids”, “don’t care about the society I live in”, I could go on and on, but you get the idea. All the research and much more importantly God, emphasizes the importance of the family, of commitment, of sacrifice, of truly living like a mature human being. When you live like a mature human being, and everyone else does, we have a great society and it helps everyone to grow and be secure. When we have a society where everyone says “it’s all about me and the heck with everyone else”, well how do you think that’s going to end up? Find a way to make it happen, quit making excuses, quit trying to have it your way and then stick someone else with the consequences. You may think you’re smarter, but it will catch up to you and then all of a sudden just a world of hurt. And you’re going to sit there wondering why no one will help. Why? Because they’re busy being self-centered and selfish like you’ve been. Not so smart, huh?

Well being, church attendance enhances well being hmmmm

Gallup research conducts and maintains a “Well-Being Index” on various aspects of Americans well being. Well, well, what do you think they found? “In U.S. Churchgoers Boast Better Mood, especially on Sundays.” (Gallup – Healthways Well-Being Index in 2011) The study was done by Chaeyoon Lim who sub-titled the study “Those who don’t attend religious services often see their mood decline.”

I am not saying that church should always be a “feel-good” experience, frankly if folks left worship from First St Johns and they didn’t feel a little, oh I don’t know, disturbed? If they didn’t feel a little challenged, a little pushed, I’d probably be disappointed. Sure I want people to be pumped up, encouraged, thankful to God and renewed in their relationship with Jesus. Frankly I’m not surprised that they are in a better mood. Even if they’ve been challenged, pushed, they still know whose they are, our Father’s. They know that they are part of the Body of Christ, surrounded by brothers and sisters in Jesus and ready to start a new week in the Lord standing for the Lord in the world. So yes they should leave worship in a “Better Mood”.

“…regular churchgoers seem to do better than non-churchgoers… in terms of their daily positive wellbeing experiences. This underscores previous Gallup research that finds very religious Americans do better across numerous dimensions of well being than do those who are less religious or not at all religious.”

And look, don’t give me any of this “Moonie effect” or other non-sense, there is no doubt in my mind that the general “well-being” of Americans has been directly related to the decrease of community and especially being a part of a church community. This goofy idea that you will be happier sitting at home watching television by yourself, thinking that you are genuinely getting community on your computer, the stories go on and on and you know them as well as I do. The solution, get off your quista and get out among real human beings. As we as a culture continue to cut ourselves off from each other, the worse our life attitude will be. Sit home by ourselves, isolated and vulnerable, Satan picks us off one by one. The Bible tells us two are better than one, we all need others to “have our back”, where better than brothers and sisters in Jesus?

The study goes on to report: “Not only do Americans who attend a church, synagogue or mosque frequently report having higher wellbeing in general, but they also get an extra boost to their emotional state on Sundays – while the rest of Americans see a decline in their mood. The average number of positive emotions frequent churchgoers report experiencing rises up to a high of 3..49 for the week on Sundays, whereas for those who attend church monthly or less often, the average number peaks on Saturdays and declines to a range of 3.14 to 3.29 on Sundays.” Yea, you read that right, on the day before we have to go back to the old salt mine, people who attend worship actually get a bump in their wellbeing. There is a sense of being secure in something bigger, knowing you are with like-minded brothers and sisters in Jesus and the research confirms this: “…the research found that friendship in church is more strongly correlated with life satisfaction than friendships in other contexts such as the workplace or a book club. It is not only that churchgoing Americans may be more likely to socialize on Sundays, but also that they are spending time with co-religionists who can especially boost their mood.”

Let’s face it, church does put you into proximity of people who are like-minded, feel secure being in church and something to readily share with each other. (Hopefully it’s not, ‘wow, pastor’s sermon was brutal today.’) This research lines up with so many other studies that show numerous positive outcomes to church, worship, prayer etc. While the world stresses individuality, isolation, “feeling good” in things such as materialism, covetousness, sex, drugs, booze and rock and roll, the reality is that well being is found in church, in worship, in the presence of those who are brothers and sisters in Christ. It stands to reason, we come into the presence of the almighty Creator, Sustainer of all things. He knows us better than we know ourself, He forgives us, He has given us a way through the sacrifice of Jesus to come into relationship with the all knowing, all powerful Lord of all. We have the assurance that through the forgiveness we have in Christ’s sacrifice that we will have eternal life in a new perfect world, the world that the Father intended before we messed it up with our sin. If all this doesn’t enhance your “well-being” then you need to sit down with your pastor and have a long serious discussion.

Triathlon, the continuing result

Yup, that’s me, the ugly fat boy, but I made it through again. This was my 53rd triathlon, Clay’s Park in North Lawrence, Oh. They put on a good race, I did OK. Feel free to check this link  definitely nothing to be impressed with.


Up at 4:30, we had to stay in a hotel because it was about 2 hours from where my son and daughter live and that would have meant leaving at about 4 in the morning to be there in time. This way we were only about 45 minutes and didn’t have to get up until 4:30 to make sure I was all set to start by 7:45, Yippee. Now I’ve heard other people do this staying at a hotel, they set their phone, their watch, the radio and have the desk call. Didn’t matter, I was awake, but I did hear all things go off, which doesn’t often happen, all usually fail to go off.

My son and grandson were with me, usually I go alone, no one else wants to have to get up this early on a Saturday or Sunday morning. It was really great to have them with me, especially at the beginning, so much to get organized, having someone just hold your bike while you register, PRICELESS.

We (we being just me) squeeze into the wetsuit, which as you can see is a challenge. This was a small race and for whatever reason the old guys were put up in the second wave. There were only four waves, but still, the waiting around to start is not fun. There is the kibbutzing, not really trash talking, if anything, in triathlon, it’s the other way around. “Oh, my swim stinks, I’m never going to get through it.” Yeah, right this is the guy who strokes right by you. Just trying to get you to let down your guard, kinda of take your edge off. The temperature at the start was around 49 degrees, but the sun was bright, so it didn’t really feel cold, but it is strange when you’re standing in water and you can see your breath, and others. The horn finally goes off, you run until you have to swim, you start swimming way faster then you should, you get your breathing up, your heart beat up and then wonder why you’re flapping around like a lame duck. You have to keep looking up, especially in this race, everyone seemed to be getting pushed to the left of the buoys. I only got shoved around a couple of times and kind of smacked from the side, so pretty tame start.

So you finally get through, for me took about 11 minutes to go 500 yards, not at all anything resembling wonderful, but it will do. Look down at the GPS watch, find it’s not doing what it’s supposed to??? It is keeping splits, so you just hit the split for the transition. My swim to bike transition is always abysmal and it was again today, being too fussy, need to just throw on shoes, helmet, glasses and go. But I have to putz around. Finally get going and am doing pretty well.

One thing about the hills around where I live, is that it’s great training. There were hills in this race, but nothing that couldn’t be handled, and eleven miles later, decent bike split. Throw off my shoes, my helmet, throw on running shoes and I’m out the gate. The run too, was pretty uneventful, and it should be because everyone else has finished. All right, not everyone, but there was sure no crowd left. The run was pretty flat and I maintained a decent pace and finished. My son was taking pictures, which is nice, it’s a really small race, so there wasn’t anyone taking pictures for money and you like to have something to remember, other than a t-shirt, because I sure wasn’t going home with any awards, I don’t know, maybe fastest pastor, being the only one I knew of. It was a nice overall day, I got to spend time with my kids, we literally drove right by the Football Hall of Fame, so we had to check that out. The William McKinley presidential museum Image It was fun, quick stop at McDonalds, two hours back to pick up my wife and our luggage and then a three mile drive from there. Reality smacked me right in the face, when we were about twenty minutes from home, got a call that the mother of one of the church’s elders was dying, stopped to pick up the police chaplain van as the police chaplain because I’m on call until Tuesday, got home, put on more appropriate clothes, rushed to the hospital and spent a couple of hours there. Next morning woke up early, conducted Matins worship at 8:30, Bible study, worship at 10:30, prayer meeting at 1:30 and then finally home and flopped.

Great weekend, it started on Wednesday when we attended my son’s graduation, very proud of the Timothy and great quality time with our daughter Erica, and grandson Nicholas.

Sabbath rest, we are called to rest

Pastor Jim Driskell
First St Johns
Sabbath Sermon March 30, 2014 He told us to rest in Him

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father … And all those who know rest and peace in the Lord of the Sabbath said … AMEN

(Juggling my date book,) I’ll do the reading for Exodus, but then I have to keep practicing my sermon, I’m getting sick of hearing my own voice,(sorry I’ll be right with you) but if I do that in the morning, I’m going to have to be up by 5:30, so that I can get my workout in, do devotions, and then work for a couple of hours before I leave, or I’m going to have to stay up later…..)
We keep trying to find that magic wand to make more time, to try to be more efficient with the time we have. When I worked for Motorola, they were big on stuff like this, they paid for people to take Time Management Classes, during work time. Have to be more efficient, which meant your work days were about (holding hands straight out to the side) this much bigger than when you started. So how about family, nuclear and extended, the kids’ swim meets, music lessons, trips, shared times, quiet moments. How about those other goals in your life; sports, civic, academic, your spouse’s pursuits, and yes once in awhile actually watch a Red Sox game? It’s been estimated that if we did everything that we should do in a day, Red Sox extra, we would need a 36 hour day, mercifully that also includes sleep.
The Sabbath is the 4th commandment, Gene Veith notes, “one of the ten commandments, up there with killing, stealing, not committing adultery… the Sabbath’s holiness is to be recognized by not working on that day.”
So how does a Christian manage his time, I have to tell you, not a whole lot differently. We live in the world too. We put too much trust in our own judgment, we have to do this, we have to do that, can’t let my child get behind, got to put more time in at work, do an Olympic distance triathlon under 2 hours before I’m 60, I want more degrees, on and on, when do we stop and wait on God?
Well, if I shift this around, if I stay up later on Saturday night, I can go to one service, no Bible study, no fellowship interaction, but I can do a zip in pray, sermon, sing, zip out and I’m done. Is that an A priority or a B, Covey says it’s an A, all right, but I’m only budgeting two hours, no more. Make no mistake about it, clergy are pretty much the same, different motivation but…, have to get that new book, titled The Two Minute Pastor.
Rabbi Heschel talks about athletes having to take a breathing spell in order to collect their strength. I’ve been doing triathlons for twenty years, part of race preparation is tapering, for the week prior to your race you rest and let your body repair. Last year I decided to do an racquetball tournament match 2 days before a race. I might as well have not shown up for the race. Rabbi Heschel notes the Sabbath, is time God gives us to taper.
What does God say about this? “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, (Is. 30:15). This is our Father who is telling us what would be best for us to do. God is not telling us that we will be saved if we become couch potatoes, the third commandment clearly states that “Six days you shall labor and do all your work,” (Ex 20:9). And we are certainly saved in our Lord Jesus Christ, but the Father is concerned that we become so absorbed in our work, our achievement, things that build our pride that we forget our Lord, we make an idol of the things we do. On the Sabbath, we all can stop and turn back to Jesus. Because the Christian Sabbath means more than the commandment, we observe the Sabbath on Sunday because that is the day that Jesus was resurrected to show us that we have life eternal in Him. Every Sabbath we are not only refreshed, God’s Law tell us to rest, we are rejuvenated with the promise of His Gospel the forgiveness of our sins and our life everlasting in Him. So mark it in your day timer now, Sabbath day of rest. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)
Having said all that, we see that Jesus violated the Sabbath in today’s reading, well at least according to Pharisees. According to the Law, and at the point in time the Law was determined by the Pharisees, it was a violation of the Sabbath for Jesus to spit on the ground to make a little mud to anoint the blind man’s eyes. Jesus chose to do His “work” in this way in order to heal the man. We could imagine that He was trying to provoke a reaction by “working” and He got one. They accused Him saying “This man is not of God…” for, according to them, not keeping the Sabbath.
The truth is as Jesus points out, He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt 12:8), He can do what He wants. But it also raises an issue too, that there are those who feel they have a ministry of quibbling, as if it is somehow a legitimate pursuit to overlook good work, to find the one flaw, the blemish on an otherwise good face and try to deface the entire effort.
If we are called to do good works, we should do good works, if it’s on the Sabbath it’s no doubt within God’s will, let’s not quibble with someone if they’ve just done a good work. Jesus tells us that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath is always intended to be a time of rest, of rejuvenation, and Dr Veith also points out: “the Sabbath speaks to us of Christ. That God wants us to honor Him by not working is a reminder that we are not saved by our works,…” But maintain some perspective and don’t lose sight of what God is doing, as the Pharisees did when they were in the presence of God, Jesus the Son of God.
It is interesting to note that in our readings today, Jesus saying He is the light of the world, God telling Isaiah: “I will turn the darkness before them into light”, Paul telling us that we are children of light and that we worship on “Sunday”. We are children of light, we do need to remember the Lord in a day of rest and worship, we do need to do good works and not to tear down another’s good efforts, but help them and encourage them in their work. But the Sabbath is also a time that God gives us in order to separate from the world, the day in and day out, the things that hound us and turns us to Him in worship. We need to detach from the world on a regular basis and come to Him for rest, relief, hope, promise, restoration. You do not get this anywhere else but in the church. When we trust in God to turn to Him on a regular basis, once every seven days seems to be a minimum, He gives us what we need to return to the world truly renewed, restored in Him and ready to deal with what the world dishes out.
When we don’t do that, when we trust in what we want, what the world pushes us to do, after awhile we find that the world has ground us down and convinced us that there is no hope. We find that we have been detached from the Sabbath, which is detachment from the church and then detached from the hope and promise in Jesus. It is a commandment that we are not good about honoring, take some time this week, do it with the rest of the family, how can you make the Sabbath more family honoring and therefore more God honoring.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom