Tag Archives: trust in God

This isn’t the first time people of God have had to stand against the evil, corruption of a decadent world

Right on the heels of the vote in Ireland to permit homosexual marriage, I’m reading this devotional in Henry and Richard Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” p 166: “No matter how ungodly the environment you may be in, God will always find you and walk with you. Noah lived in perhaps the most wicked age in history. No one worshipped God.”

Point taken, the Bible tells us of many ages full of human wickedness. Why would we expect ours to be any different? [it is kind of interesting this comes just before the rendering of the U.S. Supreme Court decision] it’s not just homosexuality either. Men and women think that it’s almost a “pro forma” to live together before marriage. Sorry, that’s not acceptable either. We have a society that is no longer concerned about being God honoring and is solely concerned about pleasing and honoring self, and then we wonder why we are surrounded by all sorts of debasement. if there is any sense of propriety, dignity, character, nobility, it has become so distorted in contemporary use as to usually become meaningless or irrelevant.

We have those in society who make ridiculous demands “I expect $15 an hour to work at McDonalds” and then still don’t do their work with any level of competence or cooperation. Women today are more debased and sexualized then ever. The PC crowd, who couldn’t care less about the treatment of women call that sexual expression and then wonder why woman are treated with more disrespect now then ever.

I understand there have been many times in human history where there has been such gross ignorance and debasement it seems, based on history, that eventually builds and there is a vicious backlash against the attempts to drag our society and children into even cruder and coarser practices.

As Christians we have stood over the course of history for human dignity, while the secular continues to degrade every possible segment of the world. Eventually the abusers are shoved out, either by a culture that finally realizes it is being abused and taken advantage of, or certainly the resurrection when God establishes the world the way it was meant to be.

We want a world for us and our children that honors the sacrifices made for us, that we observe on this Memorial Day, for example.  We want what is fine, noble,courageous, dignified, precious. We do want those who are continuing to undermine and corrupt to stop polluting the world. By the same token we don’t want to see people debased, destroyed or abused. Now more than ever we need to pray for all, to witness to all those the Holy Spirit puts in front of us.  The church does have some responsibility in all this too.  The church has been far too passive, far to willing to stick it’s head in the sand and ignore what is going on. We do need to speak out in support of what God wants, but we also need to be constant and faithful in the Christian’s most powerful weapon prayer, and all the spiritual disciplines.

There have been worse times, the church of this time needs to step up and show real integrity and also genuine willingness to live according to God’s will and to witness that to the world. No we will ever  live without sin, but we need to live with Christian integrity and faith in God’s leading.

How Running [swimming, basketball, cycling, racquetball, resistance exercises, martial arts] Makes You High

I’m going to wax a little philosophical for just a quick comment. I guess I read a lot and I guess that my reading/interests are pretty varied. Because of that, I see a lot of stuff that I really want to share. I’m not trying to rip anyone off, I’m trying to share some chunks of wisdom that others might miss and give them a good reason to try something that will benefit them.

I read “Men’s Health Magazine” and for the most part it has good content. Can’t say I recommend all of it, but I really do like the following. I am ripping it off in toto, there I said it and I’m glad I said it. Do have to make the following disclaimer, before you start any exercise program make sure you get cleared by a physician, now read:

[K. Aleisha Fetters Men’s Health Magazine Jul/August 2014 p 22]

“1. When you run past your comfort level (i.e. after 30 minutes or so at about 80 percent max heart rate), specialized cells secrete two mood modifiers: endorphins – which are opioids – and anandamide, which is similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

2. Your blood carries the two chemicals to your blood-brain barriers, the gatekeeper to your brain cells. Anandamide crosses easily. But endorphins are large, and few make it in. No problem, though: Your brain also produces endorphins. Both chemicals boost your mood – and perhaps your mileage.

3. The two mood boosters are now tapped into your central nervous system, where they limit the signaling power of pain sensors called nociceptors that spread out from your spinal cord: Result: You don’t realize how much your legs are burning.

4. The endorphins downshift your brain’s prefrontal and limbic regions, which regulate your emotion and motivation. You begin to feel calm and comfortable. Then, as more endorphins reach these ares, you may even start feeling euphoric.

5. Anandamide triggers a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that contributes to lust, pleasure, and addiction. It also binds to cannabinoid receptors in your brain’s pleasure circuit, where it sends bliss vibes throughout your brain for minutes or even hours.”

Your body is designed by God to give you pleasing, comforting feelings. We too often just go ahead and take the easy way and take drugs, which will hurt us, eat too much, not get any exercise and wonder why we come down with various diseases and disorders. As I said make sure you get checked out, then get rid of the stupid stuff, get out and push yourself and then you realize how good you’re going to feel, the way God intended for you and not you presuming to know better.

Be a man and not a one-way creep

I will admit, I’m not a really empathetic person, you may think that’s not where a pastor wants to be, but more and more I’m learning that too many people would rather bring you down to where they are, then to try to start rising up from their pit. I’m simply not going to let people drag me down, God’s got a lot for me and I have to remain faithful to Him. God wants to raise me up, He wants to raise all who are Christians up. He wants them to all be faithful disciples. The original disciples were very ordinary men, God took them, gave them the Holy Spirit and these men went to various points of the world to bring Christ to the nations, The Great Commandment.

For those people who want to strive, who want to keep pushing, who want to move in faith to Christ, I am with them. For others, I try to set a strong example, I try to model strength, perseverance, creativity, desire to learn, curiosity. Too many people want you to be an enabler, simply support them in their habit, their sin, their little comfy place, well frankly I’m not the right guy.

Too much of secular counseling, psychology, as it were, is simply enabling, not pushing someone to where they need to be. The Holy Spirit is always pushing us, always encouraging us to grow and mature as disciples. This lead up is in regards to an article in “Black Belt Magazine” (Aug/Sep 2014 pp 32-33). Point taken to Keith Vargo, the author. In this particular issue he has made me much more empathetic. For the “there’s no difference between men and women” troglodytes, yea the narrow minded groovy/hippy types of the 1960s, the ones who never let the facts get in the way of their opinion, please, for once, try to keep an open mind.

Mr Vargo is talking about women involved in martial arts, but is certainly across the board. “Women are most often assaulted by men. Worse still, it’s usually by men they know… the fear of rape and abuse changes how women see us.”

Yea, ok, right. I have no doubt that women need to be more cautious. Mr Vargo points out that men generally think of people as well as themselves, as trustworthy, we would be more concerned with danger from strangers then someone we know. Ya, point taken. I was the oldest of five boys, we moved to Brockton, Ma. when I was ten years old. Brockton is an old mill city, very much on the decline when we moved there. Rocky Marciano grew up there. Rocky is the only undefeated heavy weight champion in the history of professional boxing. He was killed in a plane crash the summer we moved there. I, kinda, grew up with Marvin Hagler, knew him just a little. Marvin was the middle weight boxing champion of the world. There were others guys who were not quite so good, but believe me, I knew plenty of guys who could fight, often finding out the hard way. Brockton was not a gentle place for me growing up. For those little girls who look like males (and I really hate that neutral term, but I hesitate to call such whimps “men”), and who are only tough with a gun in their hand, who are scared to death of anything and everything and try to look tough, you need to straighten up and start acting like men. Quit the nonsense you’re involved with, grow up, get your life together, find a woman you can serve and protect and start acting like a man.

As a kid, it was pretty routine for me to fight my way to and from home. I was active in athletics, mostly swimming, football, basketball, other stuff here and there. Not good at that, or much else. In a way I think God used this to make me really reliant on Him. [Note- I was not a Christian at the time, or maybe just vaguely so] No talent, having to regularly confront physical abuse, no one to rely on to help, having to stand up on my own. God provided for me, taught me to be physical, gave me a good strong body, through football, basketball, the military, taught me to not only be strong, but stay strong. Learned self-defense as a civilian police officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, so yea OK, guess I’ve been pretty well indoctrinated and if there’s a lack of empathy, well maybe that’s not a bad thing.

But in terms of Mr Vargo’s comments on women, yea, I get it: “…It doesn’t matter that the majority of men will never beat their spouse or rape anyone Somewhere among all the decent men in a woman’s life, there’s a man with bad intentions. He could be a family member, a friend, a co-worker or even a guy at the dojo. Because women can’t know for sure who the bad guys are, it’s reasonable for them to be cautious anytime they get attention they didn’t invite.”

As men become more about themselves, no longer provider or protector, but just whining and demanding, obviously women become even more vulnerable. Heck, don’t want to judge there now do you? As men are just more wheedlers or demanders, as Vargos points out: “What happened to them [women] didn’t start with the overt aggression you learn to handle in self-defense class. It started out with persistent interest and slowly edged into coercion…”

So yea it is time for me to man up, that doesn’t mean try and saddle me with every fuss, but in terms of protecting from the fear of and actual physical violence? Yes! For being more empathetic and ready to listen yea. That means guys, knock it off! Quit being creeps, find that women, help her to feel safe, loved, provide for her, have children who will see what a really great man you are and maybe we might start to turn around this crummy one-way, secular, whimpy, society and oh yeah, get yourself and them to church, mine! Ladies, I am your big brother in Jesus and you should expect that from every man around you and not tolerate anything less. Any “man” who thinks he’s got it altogether and doesn’t need that Jesus stuff, lose him and find a man you can rely on as a husband and a brother in Jesus and then treat them as the men they deserve to be treated as too. This way you both grow in each other, keep bringing each other up and reaching for the Lord. Yea, now that’s the way to go.

Triathlon race day, frankly anticlimatic to the rest of the preparation.

Well tomorrow is my first of the season. I try to do two triathlons in a season, one as early as possible and then others as the opportunity comes up during the season. The season being, kind of, from April until October. The Hawaiian Ironman kind of signals the end of the season which is in October.

My goal is to do as many races in as many states as possible. This of course requires travel. When I first started most of my races were on Cape Cod, so just get up earlier (that said, I and most others I read always have trouble sleeping the night before so getting up early, not that big of a deal if you really didn’t sleep to begin with.) The way I’m doing it now is to rely on technology to get me to a new place as quickly as possible, needless to say, one glitch there and there will be problems.

Another consideration is race gear. Triathlon is probably second only to NASCAR in the amount of gear. Two years ago I had already reached the Virginia line before I realized I forgot my helmet and bike shoes. Stopped bought new ones, I needed new shoes anyway. But most have special watches, wetsuit, special shorts and shirts, bicycle, running shoes. Forget one thing and kind of a pain, there are horror stories of a racer forgetting a bike, or having it smashed in travel and having to borrow, beg, haven’t heard of anyone stealing, a new bike. Of course, since I’m going somewhere new have to get a hotel nearby, found one thirty dollars less then my first choice. All I’m doing is sleeping there the night before, really don’t need much in amenities.

I’m at the point now where I’m thinking all this stuff I have to do, getting up early (4:30 am), finding the place, getting there, getting set up, being a little cold, (air temp should be about 48 degrees when I jump in the lake, another reason for a wet suit. But hey I jumped in Cheasapeake Bay in May in Annapolis, no wet suit, I’ll live either way and being in cold water definitely makes you swim harder). But of course nerves kick in, which are nothing when you’re standing there in a mob scene, waiting for the call for your wave, wondering why on earth and what on earth you are doing there and then the one minute countdown until you jump in the water, get whacked in the head, kicked in the face, elbowed in the ribs, swum over. I’m probably forgetting something. Yea the swim is definitely a uniquely challenging part of the race. Then there are the transitions, trying to get your wet suit off, somewhat dry off and get bike shoes on and out the gate. It’s easier then it sounds, although sometimes I seem to make it more complicated then it has to be. Got a little thing going with the sciatic, so that is another thing to camp on, whether I will be hobbling through the run portion. (Oh come on, it’s 5k, you can do that on your head, he says still not really confident.)

So this is where I’m at, the day before. In no way am I writing this to discourage anyone, this will be my 52nd triathlon, so I must like it/get something out of it. Another choice would just be sick masochist, but let’s put the best face possible on this. But the end is exhilarating, you may be coming in around the same time I am, probably back of the pack. May get passed by quite a few people, may not exactly feel distinguished, but it really is about you. Heck I doubt that I will ever see any of the people I see tomorrow again for the rest of my life and if I do, hey who remembers. But as the sign says, pain is temporary, race results on the web are forever. So, to quote Bill Murray, “I got that going for me.” So I will do my best to not get caught up in the nerves before hand, say a prayer to my Lord Jesus Christ thanking Him that I got there intact and actually ready, that He has given me the strength, stamina and brains or just too stupid to realize, that He will keep me safe and whatever I do, it will be to His glory. Hey say a quick prayer, think of me between about 8am and 10am tomorrow, smile a little bit and hopefully I will have an inspiring story to tell on the other side. Thanks for your interest.

What is your organization’s spiritual perspective

Yeah in my kumbah-ya, everyone sitting around the work campfire, everyone all on the same page, spiritually speaking and of course, especially in this day and age that’s just not realistic. In addition I kind of thought of a Christian business in terms of Chik Fil A, Hobby Lobby etc I really didn’t take into account that management might do some window-dressing to enhance the business mission, but not really take it seriously. In his book “Business Courage”, Fr Nkwasibwe lists out the motivations that might be driving management to allow, implement or encourage opportunities to build spirituality into their organization. 

I do want to emphasize that there is no doubt that organizations have their unique missions, the church is  the church and whether you are a commercial organization, government, not-for-profit, you have your own mission. I would like to think that any organization that implements, allows or encourages spirituality in the workplace is doing it with altruistic motivations. I am sure that even the most dedicated Christian or other type of believer is doing this in order to enhance the mission of their organization. I don’t have a problem with that, even if it may be a sort of cynical attempt to exploit something that they feel might enhance production, results. I certainly don’t condone it, but let’s face it man’s motives are never going to be completely altruistic and I trust that God is going to take even our most cynical offerings and make them at least somewhat glorifying and God-honoring.

Fr Nkwasibwe’s first example is “Workplace Spirituality as a crafty device for Leadership effectiveness”, as I said just an entirely cynical effort to exploit something in the organization to enhance the mission of the organization, could kind of think of it as “using God”. No it’s not good, but it may be just the point that God does use to glorify Himself, or that this is where someone really needs to meet God and He has initiated the whole idea in order to reach that person. Hey He’s God, He’s going to work it out the way He needs/wants to. What better way to the glory of God to take an imperfect vessel such as a cynical attempt to exploit God and He takes it and uses it to really reach someone or a few someones?

I’m going to let Fr Nkwasibwe describe this next possibility: “To this group, workplace spirituality has become a form of workplace battlefield of proxy wars between the military of the rising secular fun morality and philosophy and the garrison of the deepening religious thought, philosophy and strict morality. Workplace spirituality is seen as a venue and battle of dominance of religion versus irreligion in the workplace, just as there is a competition for more salary between the humanities/arts and science professions in the workplace.” (p 227)

Uhhmm wow. I never really imagined this type of scenario, but I am reminded that Fr Nkwasibwe is from Africa, the interaction between different beliefs, especially Christian/Muslim, in those terms you can imagine profound conflict, I’d be willing to bet that there has been conflict. In the U.S. I can see it more in terms of sniping, cliques, lack of cooperation etc. I can certainly imagine situations that might get out of hand. I see the question as; do you want to implement something that will enhance the workplace environment, or is it a case where it’s allowed without any real way to really control it? (not control in a way to decide what will or won’t, but in terms of function in terms of not interfering with the normal functioning of the organization and will not result in conflict or distractions.) This is certainly something that should be considered if organizations do want to implement/encourage this kind of opportunity.

This next one, as a Christian, especially a pastor, is kind of a burr under my saddle. Especially in terms of being a Lutheran, which emphasizes what God does through us, being “good”, being “moral”, “ethical”, in terms of conduct is so subjective, and not really what I’m talking about in terms of our relationship with Jesus. Our “goodness” or lack thereof, however defined, does not earn us a way to heaven. It’s so subjective and it’s done only in terms of a relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit guides us in all aspects of our life. We can never be “good” enough to earn our way to heaven, it’s only through Jesus’ sacrifice, His propitiation of our sin, His righteousness do we become part of the Kingdom, here on earth and for eternity. So when we start talking, as Fr Nkwasibwe, does saying: “They equate spirituality with morality. Spirituality is merely seen as a principle for promoting cultural and religious sensitivity and practicing a reasonable accommodation in the workplace in order to address the problem of social justice…they see workplace spirituality as the means to strengthen the practice of social justice, to eliminate the mental and social effects of workplace discrimination and to apply ethics in theory and practice in the workplace…seen as a bridge between religion, ethics and the law.” (pp 227-228)

I’m sorry but this smacks of the organization trying to play God, it certainly is entitled to implement rules, regulations, and discipline, but if it’s trying to do it in a way that smacks of Big Brother, I would say there are other issues at play here and the attempt is going to be perceived as manipulation and it will inevitably cause conflict and fail in its attempt to control. If you want to do something to promote some kind of social justice/welfare, do it, but don’t try to make it as some kind of works righteousness or to manipulate the response of the members of the organization. It is always a faith journey, in this particular situation, the faith is in your own judgment and really does nothing more then what you would already do. If you truly want to be guided by God, go for it, but do it in faith and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Anything else will be an embarrassment and will fail.

Fr Nkwasibwe’s next description is probably the best description of what I would see as a Christian environment in the workplace and what I would buy into, understanding that it will probably be a work in progress:

“Inspired by the Spirit of God, a devout group of people associate the practice of workplace spirituality with a means to perfection, wholeness and salvation. Here, it is seen as a bridge that links the natural world with the supernatural life. As such, spirituality at the workplace constitutes an opportunity for conversion and growing in holiness. Progress in holiness is the utmost level of expression of spirituality and religiosity because it consists of perfecting in one’s life that sanctification that he or she has received from his or her God.” Christians always understand that our righteousness is through Christ, we are saved through the Gospel, not through hoops and rolls, a lot of rules or practices. Yes Christians have a set form, but in the final analysis, it’s not about what we’re doing, it’s about the faith that we are given in relationship with Jesus. Our only progress in spirituality, per se, is what we stop resisting and what the Holy Spirit guides us to and strengthens us in, all about Him, nothing about us.

“…They consider the practice of workplace spirituality to be a private and public protocol for responding to a call to holiness. This is believed to be achieved by a reflective conversion of mind and heart to embracing a God-centered culture and a way of life. In this way, spirituality is a practice that supports the making of a stance to become our authentic selves while irrevocably trust in God who is all truth and whose love surpass the furthermost expression of the human yearning.” (pp 228 – 229) Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism have profound differences, hey that’s the whole reason for the Reformation, but I can accept this quote in terms of the understanding that what we do is in faith, it is God honoring, our intent is to be in God’s will, not our own. There is nothing anymore special about our work environment that should restrict our relationship with the Lord, it’s God’s plans and by definition it has to be infinitely better then ours.

Finally Fr Nkwasibwe describes what is probably the typical contemporary workplace environment: “…one side of individuals wants a non-interfering religion or a religion that dialogues and conforms to the voice of the world while guaranteeing them enjoying life in total autonomy. On the other hand, another side of individuals wants a religion that guarantees freedom with a caveat that this freedom does not simply mean enjoying life in total autonomy…” Hey let’s face it, that’s the way the world is today, I’m doing what I want, when I want, how it affects others or negatively affects them, and for some bizarre reason the rest of the world is supposed to buy into it, no matter how negatively it affects others and my church should buy into whatever I want, because I’m a “good” person and deserve it. Yea, right, you keep believing that. You’re “god” and God is supposed to just facilitate the life you want. Hey it works for Joel Osteen right? Doesn’t work for God’s revealed Word, but hey, people are going to do what they’re going to do.

Yes, I guess it’s kind of a weighted discussion, but it is the way it is. What should your organization look like compared to these examples? Are you moving that way? Are you taking into account the possibilities. Certainly my perspective is toward being faithful to God’s leading and trusting His infinite knowledge and that He only wants what is best for me, in Christian maturity, not according to my plan.