Prayer- Part One

Praying for othersI needed visit a business the other day. When I arrived I found a fellow church member working there. What a pleasant surprise. She told me her annual performance review was scheduled to be later that day. She smiled and asked me to pray for her.

Never be afraid to touch as we pray!!!!

Never be afraid to touch as we pray!!!!

So I did what she asked. I place a hand on her shoulder and started praying. I think this shocked her. When I prayed for more than 30 seconds it surprised her as well. I had to tell her that I wasn’t done yet. (I jokingly told her if she wanted to see a long prayer come to Summit County Jail where there is an abundance to pray for.)

I think I made her uncomfortable. I don’t know if anyone has ever done that for her before. But if you ask me to pray I will. And I will do it in your presence, for several reasons.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:17-18. To pray continually means you need to start praying- that means do it now! I presume I’m not alone in this. I have a hard time remembering anything. If I wait until my next routine time to pray I will forget. Pray now, God is ready to listen.

“So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him…” (Matthew 20:34). The laying of hands on people is something Jesus often did. Clearly we are not Jesus, but we can emulate his way of showing we care for others.

But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22. Praying in the presence of someone also lifts the importance of the person’s prayer request. It lets the Holy Spirit flow through us. It lets them know you really care. And the world certainly needs more caring.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. James 5:13.When you pray out loud with someone they know God has heard the prayer. Even praying silently with them doesn’t convey that what the content of the prayer actually includes. Praise and prayer should never be silenced.

“When 2 or more gathered in my name, I am among them.” Matthew 18:19 ESV. When we pray together Jesus is with us. I love Jesus being in my presence, don’t you?

When two or more gather Jesus is there.

When two or more gather Jesus is there.

Back to 1 Thessalonians 5:17. It does say to “pray continuously.” We need to not let that current prayer be the end. If necessary we can even write down our prayer requests to not forget to keep praying for other’s needs. That list is also helpful in thanking God for answered prayers.

What if you’re talking on the phone and someone asks for prayer? I suggest praying then as well. Nothing really changes except the physical touch.

I can’t wait to see my friend Sunday and find out how her performance review went. In the meantime I’m sure you can find someone to help encourage with prayer as well.

God Bless,

Mark

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Where has docmarksplace blog gone? My 2013 Ministry report.

Sorry I haven’t got to write much lately….life has been busy. Here’s what I was doing in 2013.

2013 Report- Docmark Ministries

2013 was a year of tremendous growth and new things for Docmark Ministries. I continued my work with Terry Pluto and friends in the Pod 4 Bible studies. I continued seeing men for one on one visits as well. The number of those visits sky-rocketed over 2013. I continued to see kids at Safe Landing as well. I did start limiting some of my youth ministry duties as the growth of Schestin Bell as youth minister at Arlington Church of God made me no longer necessary.

The biggest change of the year was joining The Way Out Ministry (TW0). They are a non-profit group whose ministry is serving incarcerated men and women. In November I began additionally serving the men on Pod 0ne at Summit County Jail for TWO ministry. In December TWO orchestrated over 2000 Christmas bags being distributed to inmates in 3 counties. I personally made arrangements and organized 850 of those bags being distributed at the jail and two Summit County community based drug treatment centers.

2014 will continue to be busy. It will be a transitional year from me as I attempt to devote all my attention to ministry. This will necessitate leaving my part time job. I will attempt to fund raise for the first time and pray that God will provide.

Below is a more detailed account of Docmark Ministries in 2013. I hope you find it helpful.

Overall: I have 741 volunteer hours in ministry in 2013.

Arlington Church of God Youth Ministry: Over the last twelve months I have mainly substituted for and assisted Brother Schestin Bell.  In all I have served on 55 different occasions in 2013- either leading/ or assisting Bible studies and other various functions.

Safe Landing– Safe Landing is a place where teens can stay and feel safe. Many have legal issues somewhere in their background. Lessons focus on life issues and things kids don’t get taught with the absence of fathers in the home. We may change a tire, fill out job apps, or talk about taking responsibility for our own actions. Anything goes- all with Christian mentoring. In 2013 I taught 16 lesson, 1-2 hours in length (changing a tire with teenagers is not quick experience.)

Bible Studies/Sermons Summit County Jail– Bible Study at Summit County is 1 ½ hours. One Pod 4 the lessons are taught in a team style. One Pod I teach the entire lesson, including praise and prayer. In 2013 I participated in 55 lessons/sermons. This will increase next year as I continue in TWO ministry.

One on One Visits Summit County Jail:  The inmates at Summit County Jail can request a one on one visit with a chaplain. In 2013 I had 248 one on one visits. Each visit can last up to an hour- I cut them off at that point. The greatest part of these visits is that I see men weekly/biweekly for many months. That is where I have seen them being new creatures in Christ.

Blogs– I have written spiritual Blogs for 5 years. In 2013 I wrote 80 Blogs. They were viewed 4715 times. I curtailed my writing greatly toward the end of the year but look to resume writing in 2014.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN DONATING TO MY MINISTRY CONTACT ME AT docmarksplace@ymail.com .

God Bless,

Mark

Christmas- Joseph

Ed. Note: This weeks Jail Sermon, I hope you find some meaning in it

The Birth of Jesus Christ Matthew 1:18- 25

The Angel talks to Joseph

The Angel talks to Joseph

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[e] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[f] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 

Being betrothed was a pre-marital contract. What gifts/money families would give the couple were discussed. A vow of celibacy was part of this as well. Mary’s pregnancy would have embarrassed Joseph and his family. He could have publicly shamed her and even had Mary stoned.

Joseph had to make these decisions as a teenager. His family was not supportive. When Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem later on Joseph’s family didn’t even offer a room- instead allowing the child to be born in a manger.

Joseph at that time no idea his future son was conceived from the Holy Spirit. We need to be careful not to make decisions with limited information.

What did Joseph decide? And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

But Joseph gets a visitor: But as he [Joseph] considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The angel relays God’s plan. Joseph listened quietly. When God speaks we should listen, not talk! Joseph never actually speaks in the Bible.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).”

The coming of the Messiah had been prophesized a 1000 years earlier. While we wonder what to do, God has already done it- perfectly. Often His plans have already been revealed in His word. We need to abandon our plan and adopt following God’s way.

What did Joseph decide? When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Joseph, a scared teenager, with lots of pressure from his family to abandon Mary, did the right thing. He followed God’s way. It would not be the easy way. Do we have the courage to do the right thing? Will we treat the young ones around us as our own? Will we raise a step child without question? Joseph showed us the way.

God Bless,

Mark

Psalm 40 and Thanksgiving

Ed. Note: I do ministry at Summit County Jail. This is the outline from a Thanksgiving sermon. Why Psalm 40? Read on and I think you’ll see why I chose my favorite Psalm.

PSALM 40

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear.[a] Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverancein the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.  I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;  I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! 12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me! 14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! 15 Let those be appalled because of their shame  who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!” 17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

I first discovered Psalm 40 the day after I found the Lord. It was a very dark day in my life and this Psalm lifted me during that time. I’d like to share and discuss versus 1-5.

I waited patiently for the Lord;

It sucks to wait, but that is part of the deal. If we want to be taken away from despair it will be in the Lord’s time- which is always on time.

He inclined to me and heard my cry.

God will turn to us. He listens to us 24/7. Has anyone else done that for you?

He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,

God can lift us out of any circumstances. Are we willing to extend our hand to Him?

and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

When we stand on God our foundation is firm. It is only when we stray that the footing is treacherous.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

When become at one with God we become a new creature in Christ, the old is gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord

God requires our faith and obedience. The fear is respecting our all powerful, all knowing God, and wanting to please Him.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!

 The Lord’s Blessings come for those who follow him. Those who follow old friends and worldly ways will miss their blessings.

You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you!

God’s Blessings will exceedingly and abundantly surpass our own wishes and dreams.


I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.

Receiving God’s blessing is great. Sharing your love of Christ with others is the blessing you can pass along.

 

God Bless,

Mark

 

God’s Armor- Shoes of Peace

shoeTherefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:13-18 ESV

Ever think about what shoes you’re wearing? Most the time we don’t. But try wearing dress shoes out in the snow? If you don’t slip and fall on your @#%$ you’ll eventually return in doors with your toes numb with socks that are soaked through. If your smart enough to wear winter boots you better take them off when you come in unless you want your feet to bake (And for your wife to yell, deservingly, for tracking water in the house.) I always want to wear Nike shoes- but within days I get blisters because they are too narrow. Maybe the shoes we choose are more important than we think. Lots of folks have many pairs. A homeless man just wants a single pair without holes. But we all want shoes.

In Ephesians 6:13 shoes are indeed part of the armor of God: “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” I find this the hardest part of God’s armor to understand. Before writing this I read quite a few commentaries about the subject. I’d like to share some of what I’ve read and also how it’s changed my thinking.

When we wear shoes one of the main functions is to protect our feet. Rocks, sticks and stone seem to jump in our path- shoe minimize the effect. Ever tried to walk across hot asphalt barefoot? I don’t believe you if you said no. Shoes protect us from the elements as well. Every time I visit in Florida I’m reminded to have something on my feet because of the fire ants. Creatures large and small wait to attack our naked feet.

Paul talks about readiness with God’s shoes. And with God’s shoes we can be ready for anything. Those shoes protected Daniel in the lion’s den. When the Jews fled Israel the Red Sea opened as they walked with God’s shoes. And those shoes protected Jesus against the Devil as he wandered in the desert for 40 days. And if God can do that, can’t we face a terminal illness in God’s shoes? Divorce? Financial Devastation? With God’s shoes we can be prepared for anything.

God’s readiness does require putting His shoes on. They can’t sit in the closet. How do we put them on? By understanding Jesus. Jesus came here to preach about the Kingdom of God. He came with a new promise- the Good News. It was a gospel of peace. Jesus never attempt to rule by power. Jesus came to rule through love. Our true victories come through peace. Loving those who are hard to love. Treating others as we treat ourselves. And extending this to being a servant of God, extending His love to others.

shoe2Another thing about shoes is we aren’t meant to be still in them. We are meant to move. Paul was a great example of this. When he put on God’s shoes he spread God’s word throughout Asia and Europe. Often he did this from jail. He did this while being stoned and beaten. But he still spread the Good News about Jesus.

Think about how poorly many of us wear God’s shoes today. Many never even put them on. Most of us who do usually only talk about God at church. If we happen to read a great passage in the Bible we many ruminate on it all day. But do we ever share that passage with others? We have a hard time telling a stranger to have a blessed day. The thought of telling someone Jesus loves you is a sentence rarely uttered.

In the Great Commission (Matthew 28) Jesus tells the disciples “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” That is a message from Jesus to all of us. Jesus gave his life for us to wear those shoes. Are we ready to put them on? I pray so. Amen.

God Bless,

Mark

Armor of God- Breastplate of Righteousness

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:13-18 ESV

Righteous: acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous: a righteous and godly person.

Are you a good person? I’ve asked myself that question many times. Many of us would hold the door open for someone, get a cat stuck out of a tree (well, maybe we wouldn’t all do that), or turn in a wallet we found. We try to be good parents, doing the best we can. Many of us volunteer (and those of us who don’t should). We are good people right?

But are we righteous? Do we have a passion to serve the Lord? Do all our works reflect God? If no one sees us pick up the wallet do we still have joy in returning it? Do you work silently for the Lord? Does everyone need to know where and how you serve God? What are our true motives? God sees where our hearts truly lie.

Whose Armor are You Wearing?

Whose Armor are You Wearing?

In times of war people take sides. These sides were represented by different uniforms. At the time Paul wrote Ephesians it was the breastplate that declared what side you were on. Today we don’t have such a visible marker in our spiritual war against evil. But it is still appropriate in 2013 to ask what breast plate are we wearing?

Can you imagine wearing a shirt every that said “I’m God’s servant”? That is what a righteous person does. They realize even without words their actions speak loudly. God is in their heart. The door does get held open for the elderly person- because it is God’s will. We should raise our children to be Godly. That is what a righteous parent does. We serve at the homeless shelter to help the men and women who are suffering. We are not there to fill a quota of being good or to brag to our friends about.

When we do have visible evidence of our commit to God strange things can happen. The driver that flips someone off may have a Jesus bumper sticker on their car. The father that wears his breastplate by going to church may go home and abuse his wife (nowadays girlfriend) and kids. The action of putting of the breastplate doesn’t mean anything without the commitment to follow it. Unfortunately our actions can even misrepresent God. This can be a turn off to those who are watching us to as part of their effort to develop their own spiritual presence.

Some of us also live duel lives. Picking and choosing when to put the breast plate on. The deacon at a church is respected when he wears it in church. But that same man may be having an affair outside those church walls. It amuses me that people talk differently to me in certain places because I am a chaplain at the county jail. Inmates I go by will stop cussing as I walk by. God wants their language to be cleaned period. The abusive parent may work in Sunday School at their church. We need to remember be God’s servant is a 24/7 job.

When we are truly willing to wear God’s breastplate we need to be consistently righteous. The armor protects what is inside, and that needs to be Godly. I desperately want represent the God well.  And that breastplate will always be there surrounding us, even when we stumble. Now if we could only remember to keep it on.

God Bless,

Mark

Armor of God: The Belt of Truth

truth2Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:13-18

I’ve written about the Armor of God. But how many of us (including myself) think about each piece of the armor. In battle can we survive without one of these pieces? Does it do any good to have your breastplate on if you don’t wear a helmet? The enemy know to attack where we are weak. We need to study each individual piece of armor, seeing how it culminates in the ultimate protection from God. Today the belt of truth.

He really could use a different belt!

He really could use a different belt!

We wear a belt to keep our pants up (Many young men still don’t understand this). No belt, disaster ensues. We may add keys or our phones on the belt as well. Not so different than the suit of armor. The belt sat over the breastplate, holding the armor up and together. It could also hold small weapons. It even protected future fatherhood (look at the pic). How does this relate to the belt of truth? Truth is the glue that lets everything we do be righteous. The truth keeps everything together. When we tell the truth we please God. When we tell lies we serve the devil.

What is the truth? Jesus answers in John 14:6 saying “… I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Jesus is the truth. The truth is the way to the Father. That means we need live in the truth to be with Jesus, with God. It also defines the truth as absolute. God is incapable of anything else. Too often we debate the “truth.” Reality is there is no debate, no shades of gray: GOD’S WORD IS THE TRUTH.

Truth is also the path to salvation. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:5. This scripture inseparable relationship to salvation and the truth. First to have the truth we have to be willing to follow God. Second we need to continue to learn about God (consecration). The truth grows as our knowledge and worship of God grows.

The truth is also the death of sin. Jesus says in John 8:32 “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus went on further to explain “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slaveto sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:34-36. Sin can’t live in the truth. So if we live in truth we are dead to sin. That doesn’t mean that we will never sin. Only the Lord is perfect. But it does mean that a commitment to the truth is the only way to stay on a path of righteousness.

truth3Knowing God. Salvation. Freedom to let sin die. A simple belt. A straightforward belt. But hard to wear consistently. I hope you have yours on today.

God Bless,

Mark

Book Sorting Primer

The never ending challenge of sorting books.

The never ending challenge of sorting books.

I sort used books for our library support group. Three times a year we have a book sale with used books that are generously donated. And those who donate do have hearts of gold. Without them our library would be without thousands of dollars of support a year. However, sorting these books can be an art form. I have no claim on mastering this art (I’m not sure it’s even possible). And thankfully others sort much more often and diligently than I do.  But there are some hints and thoughts I’d like to pass along. I’ll call it “Mark’s Primer and Safety Guide on Book Sorting.” Here’s a peak at a rough draft of the primer.

Close your eyes. Picture the smell of a fresh book. WAIT… there is no smell. Mold, mildew, tobacco smoke and other “unknown” odors are not native to books. These books are to be discouraged from donation. They should also be removed from small areas immediately as toxic levels of smells can accumulate quickly. Dumpsters take care of this problem quickly.

As a child we were told not to eat the yellow snow (If no one instructed you in this important rule seek counseling immediately!) Corollary to this rule: Do not read the yellow book. Need I dissect this point more? This same rule applies to dried substances on books. Most should be considered deadly if ingested or touched for too long. Then again stains could just be Aunt Mabel’s pot roast and gravy. Until we get a mass spectrometer unit I’ll choice to discard these unknowns.

Books without covers are like naked people…best not seen in public places. Plus we don’t run “x” rated book sales. Hmmm….maybe that would increase sales.

There are always numerous bootleg tapes in the donation pile. They the pirating warning in movies is given in three languages- and I am at least semi-fluent in English. The rest of our sorting staff is fluent in English and has no excuse for ignoring the disclaimer. I also doubt we can generate enough income selling books at 50 cents apiece to pay off the $250,000 fine for piracy (Although we do have wickedly good book sales.) Lastly most of these bootlegs are VCR tapes. Does anyone still even have a VCR tape player?

Old books...treasure or trash?

Old books…treasure or trash?

Not all books are like fine wine. They do not improve with age. A thirty year old book on depression suggests valium as a treatment. Even though I often feel like I need drugs as I sort books valium has fallen out of vogue- even for friends of the library. There were at least 30 books on how to date that were from the 80’s or earlier. I am a single guy, but I don’t think the answers are in books written before the advent of computer dating, texting, tweeting or emailing (Or do people even email to each other anymore). Shoot, the older books don’t even discuss proper use of an emoticon 🙂

We seem to get a lot of books written by mentalists and psychics. If they knew what they were doing why they didn’t just pick some lottery numbers. If they couldn’t come up with any they could have bought a book on how to pick lotto numbers at our book sale (Seriously).

We had approximately 20 books on the “yeast connection” and health. I think that could possibly be overkill. I eliminated all but 4. The point? There truly can be too much information at times. I am still concerned about this with 4 books still remaining about yeast. And don’t get me started on our hundred books on menopause (That’s because as a smart male I refuse to discuss the subject knowing women will read this Blog.) We have 11 books on how to build a deck even though we know men never read instructions anyhow. Need a book on cholesterol? We have an abundance. Maybe people could buy a whole stack and just use them as a food source to lower cholesterol.

Many of our patrons have their name and number on the insides of the books they donate. These are the same folks who have 5 locks on the doors, home security systems and unlisted numbers. But once again, God bless their generosity. In the meantime I’ll just keep blacking out the info. (It’s either that or I could start calling the numbers and saying hi).

The magic word.

The magic word.

There is a hero in this complicated mission of book sorting. It is affectionately known as the free cart. For those unfamiliar with this concept it is a cart that says “free books.” Yesterday I placed well over 200 books on it. Today 20 remain. And 15 families will become well versed on the yeast connection (Tears stream from the corners of my eyes as I report that.) The rest of the books will find a home in the next 24 hours. Because every book deserves a home, and the free cart ensures it happening. God Bless the land of great things!

May you find a good book to curl up with on this blustery Ohio day.

God Bless,

Mark

Picture Post

Woods everywhere... except for these steps

Woods everywhere… except for these steps

The photography bug has bitten me lately. Photos abound. The cool thing is when I look at the pics they make me think about lots of stuff. Here are some of the pics and my thoughts.

Random Stairs: I was hiking in the park today and came to my favorite random stairs. Most Metro Park paths in the Akron area have stairs since the valley was cut out of a gorge. So why are these my favs? They are cut out of stone and fitted- verses every other path that has wooden steps. They previously had to be part of something else, but what? Could they have led to a castle in the woods? Could they have been part of the old water system that generated power out of the Cuyahoga River? Were they part of the Works projects in the thirties? The steps clearly are connected to something else in time. They are out of place in the otherwise virgin forest. The mystery of guessing what the stairs are part continues to intrigues me.

Princess

Princess

My princess has blue hair in this pic taken on the banks of the Cuyahoga River (In the Metro Parks, of course). Another day her hair may be green, pink, black or some other random color. Anything but the natural brown color she came with. Other adults have told me that I shouldn’t let her dye her hair. Some even shared those thoughts with her. “The world will never take you seriously!” But I have to wonder, is the world really supposed to take you seriously when your 16? Others have told me “Oh she looks so beautiful with her brown hair. “  I’m just glad Mikayla looks nothing like her dad, and at least she has hair! And her eyebrow piercing- well let’s not even go there. My final advice would include a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” My daughter has A’s and B’s in honors courses. Mikayla does everything I tell her to do without giving me problems. She doesn’t smoke, drink (except too much coca cola), or use drugs. She volunteers at different places without complaining, never cusses, and cries when she sees someone innocent being taken advantage of. Oh yeah, she’s also beautiful on the outside as well! Thank you Lord. I hope you can see that beauty in every teen you meet- because they all have it.

Not clearly thinking

Not clearly thinking

Killer Bees: This is another Metro Park picture. The nature realm has a huge herb garden. The bees were enjoying it. So why would I get within a foot of them to snap this shot (Telephoto lenses are for wimps)? Was it the challenge? Was I trying to win a contest for the most bees in a pic? Or do I need to get a life? Probably. I just thought the bees would make for an interesting shot. And there lies the part of my brain that doesn’t think before it acts. I swell up like crazy when I get stung so hanging with bees makes no sense (But it really is a cool shot lol). We all have some of those not thinking moments. Emergency rooms everywhere would be going out of business otherwise. I am glad God has my back in those moments, how about you?

Lunch anyone

Lunch anyone

One last picture. This was not taken in any park. This scene is my Mom and Dad’s backyard in Florida. No, they didn’t go down by the gator (We have already established that my non-thinking brain would have). They took the picture through the window. Truly it is better the gator loves to eat fish and not people. But if we do look God’s shock and awe can be right next to us. If we have our back turned to the Lord’s window we miss everything. And sometimes it is just a gentle breeze that won’t even be noticed unless we zone in. Whether its alligators, gentle breezes or even a rainbow we’ve got to look.

God Bless,

Mark

 

Aeneas

Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Acts 9:32-34

I looked up Aeneas in a google search. I found lots of info on a Greek-Roman mythological character, but nothing on Aeneas in the Bible. But I think the five sentences about him in the Bible say volumes.

Peter talks to Aeneas

Peter talks to Aeneas

The story takes place in Acts. Christ is in Heaven. The Pentecost has come. Peter was looking to help someone. It was the time of evangelism. He didn’t look in his own home. We may be able to help those there, but that certainly isn’t enough to serve God. Peter didn’t even stay in his home town, but journeyed far away.

Peter finds a bed ridden man. If we want to serve God that means serving the sick, poor and down-trodden. Then we need to listen. He hears his name- Aeneas. Peter learns Aeneas is paralyzed. He finds out it has been going on for eight years. Do we have the patience to find out more about the Aeneas’ in our lives? Aeneas lived in his circumstances every day. Can we live in them for ten minutes? It one thing to roll down your window and pass some change to a homeless guy. It’s entirely another to ask him what’s going on. And that is where lives can change.

Peter judges what the man needs. He has to do this to help him. It doesn’t say if Aeneas asked for any help at all. So what should he have given Aeneas? It was customary at that time to give the disabled money. They would sit out waiting for this to happen. That was how they survived. It was the easy thing for Peter to do. But instead Peter wants to change a life.

To do that Peter invokes supernatural. He tells Aeneas to rise in the name of Jesus Christ. We can’t make miracles happen. But Peter was full of the Holy Spirit. God’s presence was around him. Peter had faith. Anything is possible through God. And then Peter got out of the way and let God do the cooking (Just had to throw that saying in for my friend Gloria).

Can we get back up?

Can we get back up?

There is a second half to Peter’s words. He tells Aeneas to rise and make his bed. Perhaps Peter was remembering when his Mother was healed by Jesus. The first thing Peter’s Mother did after that? She cooked for Jesus, Peter and the rest of the disciples. Peter remembered this lesson. It is not enough to receive the Lord’s grace- we have to do something with it.

If God delivers us from our paralysis what do we do? Does his grace get used? Or do we waste it? Jesus clearly wants us to get up and do something. Notice the first thing Aeneas is tasked with is taking care of own business. This means we look inward at home we need to change.

Lord today I need to get up and make my bed. Help me to do this. Give me the strength to rise. And when I rise let me be obedient to you. Let me be obedient in continuing the journey. Let me glorified you Lord during that journey. Amen.

God Bless,

Mark

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