Crises? Problems? Try healing prayer …

  prayer man on kneesSo some bomb shell shakes up your life? Maybe you have not been in church in years. Or never. Wonder where to start?

Various Aptos, CA churches have resources that may help.  Try prayer  …..

Some  resources for healing prayer  in Aptos, CA include:

Twin Lakes Church: a prayer  phone call  request  on a weekday morning  is fielded  immediately to  either or all:    1)  the woman’s prayer chain;  b) the   ‘green sheet’ with names and prayer requests available to all members to pray over;   c) prayers  by   clergy and prayer team members  held each Thursday at noon.  Issues of immediacy, privacy issues and clinical issues are managed thusly.

St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church:  St Johns offers prayers for healing   in   the early evening  on week days (5 PM on Wed. & Friday, 5:15 on Thursday, 5:30 on Monday, 7:00  PM  on Tuesday.)    Individuals are encouraged to drop in and participate.  Click here  concerning a  recent evening prayer service and prayer for healing as night comes.

For on-going prayer needs,   contact the church office.  (831 708 2278)   St. John’s has an   email prayer chain for immediate requests and publishes   prayer list available Sunday AM and  individuals listed on it  are prayed for during the week.

A  world wide ministry for healing prayer, the Order of St. Luke (Andrea Seitz, junior warden for St. John’s, is the convener  for  St. John’s ) plans a healing event for  this fall, 2017.  Plans include the  Rev. Hugh Bromily

Hugh Bromily, Order of St. Luke

Hugh Bromily, Order of St. Luke

as the principal  speaker.  The Rev. Bromily is the North American Director for the Order of St. Luke ( Hugh Bromily has a healing ministry based in Texas.

So far, several churches are involved in the healing event planned for Fall, 2017.   The prayer line number for Order of St. Luke is 310 521 9178.  New members are always welcome to join. Connect with Andrea Seitz  through St. John’s church office for more information.

Resurrection Catholic Community

 offer a Healing Services  several times a year. Father Romeo is the recently  inducted priest.    These are  specific Masses  for individual healing  which include the  laying on of hands by clergy and members collectively.    The most recent service was  held  a couple weeks ago.  During the week, there’s an  8:30 am prayer service.  The Sanctuary part  of the church is open for daily  prayer from 9 – 5. The weekly church bulletin contains a list of persons asking for prayers.  Contact the office to get on or off the list.

Christ Lutheran Church

each Sunday   reads names on their   prayer list (members and friends of members)   each Sunday   There is a prayer chain.   Currently, during the week on Wednesdays there’s Taize prayer at 7 pm.     For immediate crises, contact the pastor Dale Sollom-Brotherton 831 688 5727.

The Coastlands Church:  

Crises? Bomb shell? What about prayer?    Come find out about  the Coastlands  Church   via services at 9 & 11 am on Sundays.  As many as 300 may show up.  To further connections of community, individuals  are encouraged to  join a small group.  Groups  held most days of the week at different times, some in homes and some at the church or a restaurant. There’s a Bible Study held every Friday at 6:30 am at the church. Crossroads has sister churches in Soquel and Santa Cruz.  The ‘mother’ church is located in southern California.

So — when you are in crises — reach out to God and seek Him who cares.  There are many resources that can help.


Flawed choices & weak leadership why St. John’s dissolves the Helpful Shop Board?

man chooses orangeChurch boards can be managed — and its  decisions shaped —  when limited choices are offered  in a highly  controlled setting.

Especially so  when there might be a church bully or two lurking in the background.

Recognize this scenario?   Many parents have engaged in this:    Ok  kids — do you want your bath before or after diner?

Similarly,  the board of   St. John the Baptist Episcopal  church  in Aptos, CA was told  to decide between two choices:     a) keep the Helpful Shop Board in place or b) immediately dissolve it? And you are  here until you decide yes or no.

Other choices were possible — such as   get more information from the Helpful Shop Board  before making the decision. You know, actually talk to the players. Mmmm.

The eleven member church board   had already been wrangling  for months with emails flying back and forth between meetings.  In effect, the board members do business between the official meetings.  That causes problems.

Those squabbles  would likely continue if  they choose to keep the Board in place. To immediately dissolve the Helpful Shop Board might seem like a tantalizing choice — maybe the problem would disappear and, ah,  just in time for the church to welcome its new Rector.

Know that scenario where the priest shows up unexpectedly and suddenly the Bible appears on the coffee table, a quick dust of the room,  and all the clutter gets shoved behind the couch. Clean up, clean up time ….

In the analogy above, the kids could have asked for different choices — a)  no bath or   b)  bath put off a day or two or c) a sponge bath of  just feet and hands.

What does the Helpful Shop Board say?  No one from the current leadership was asked.   Come speak to the St. John’s Board Vestry.     Why not ask the people who have done it for the last 10+  years   come and express their views?  Ask the Helpful Shop Board how the Vestry and they can  work together.  That did not occur.  

The decision to either dissolve or keep in place was held in a controlled setting — sitting in the sanctuary in  total privacy.  and everyone present  knew that the meeting would go on and on  until they took a vote. One person asked to table the decision but the votes were not there.   After three hours the board voted to dissolve the Helpful Shop Board  8 to 2 with one  person  abstaining. No unanimous decision there.

Having had a reportedly excellent ‘discernment’ process lead by an outside professional in choosing the next Rector  the church leadership could have asked episcopal  Bishop Mary  for the same person back to deal with this major, on-going, long term  squabble.  Nope.

The current leadership — soon to depart   interim priest Merritt Greenwod (April 2, 2017)  and wardens Bill Kell and Andrea Seitz — shaped the choices offered to the church  vestry board:   either continue as is or immediately dissolve the Helpful Shop Board.   After senior warden Bill Kell lead off,  Jon S   set the tone as he spoke first. Ah – the power of first impressions …

Some information about Jon S  It was Jon S on the St. John’s Bylaws  committee who — aided by interim priest Merritt Greenwood —  pushed for substantial changes to the 2014 church bylaws. The Vestry decided at their meeting in  November 2017 — just before elections in December — to accept the nomination committee’s recommendations. Jon  S was the chair of the nominating committee.

Unaware of the proposed new changes to the Bylaws, people seeking to be nominated  in Dec. 2016 followed the 2014 Bylaws which  were posted.  However, the ‘new’ Bylaws were used to determine who could be nominated to the Vestry.   Four months later – in March, 2017 — the proposed Bylaws  have just recently  been sent  to the Diocese for review.

One issue — which affected the Dec. 2016 elections —  is whether St. John’s episcopal church can require a documented  contribution to the operating fund of the church in order to run for Vestry.

Based on comments of some,    Jon S exerts substantial  behind the scene influence — meddling and  frequently bossy   —  as to how  church decisions are made. Some people describe him as a bully. Some describe him as terrific and that he makes great changes.  More than a handful of people say that for  several years Jon has sought to gain access and  control over the monies given out by   the Helpful Shop. Some say that he simply likes to ‘win’.   In his interactions with people, on occasion, Jon  can be literally   ‘in people’s faces’.

So what really happened at the meeting wherein the church vestry killed the Helpful Shop Board?

One narrative  of what  occurred at the closed  meeting  was written by junior  warden Andrea Seitz and published in a newsletter March 23, 2017.  This version by Ms.   Seitz  says zip — nothing — as to who authorized her to publish this  narrative.    [Should you Google  a job description for episcopal church  junior warden —  what’s published  is different from that of Clerk of the Vestry.]

The official  version concerning the demise of the Helpful Shop Board will eventually be published by the Clerk of the Vestry.  The Clerk  routinely sends  out a draft, gets back proposed changes and then  publishes.


Aptos Psychologist:  What say you?  Churches do hurt people.  Spiritual abuse does go on.  Some churches  kill their sheep one by one…. Good heavens!


March 26, 2017 — Email  sent to  St. John’s membership:

Vestry Meeting, March 14, Summary by Andrea Seitz, Jr. Warden

“The Vestry is busy planning for Merritt’s departure and working toward a smooth entry for our new Rector, Mother Tracy. At our last meeting several actions were taken to assist with this goal.

First, we agreed to send the by-laws that have been worked on this year to the Chancellor’s Office for review. There are still areas that need to be worked on, which will be dealt with in June when Mother Tracy can be part of the discussion. Those deal with what qualifies as parish membership, what qualifies as voting membership of parish and who is qualified to run for Vestry position. If you would like to give input into these areas please come to the June meeting. (Ed. Note: June 13, 2017) You may also speak with me about your preferences.

Second, Don Zimmerman, representing the Personnel Committee presented a job description for the Helpful Shop manager. The job description was approved and the church office will have a copy if you would like to see it.

 We also increased the Administrative Assistant’s work hours to nineteen to allow her to go to the Post Office to check our new post office box twice a week. Helpful Shop Grants Award Brunch

Several Vestry members attended the Helpful Shop Grants Brunch ……

 Andrea Seitz continues:  While at the brunch it became apparent from some of the questions and comments directed at me that there is still information in the parish and community that is inconsistent with the actual purpose, process, and intent of the Vestry’s decision to dissolve the Helpful Shop Advisory Board (HSAB).

[Andrea Seitz writes]   I hope the following Information will clarify. The Discernment Process Used to Come to a Decision. The Vestry took the action after using a discernment process that has been part of St John’s decision making tool kit for decades and used recently by the Search Committee and the Vestry during the selection of our new Rector. For this issue, it began with prayer and then two questions were discussed. The first was “What are the reasons for leaving the Helpful Shop Board in place?” And the second was, “What are the reasons for dissolving the Helpful Shop Board.” This format was not one of debate or argument, instead each person took turns answering each question, one at a time, while everyone else listened carefully. The process continued until everyone had the chance to say everything they wished to say. It was very respectful and orderly.

At the conclusion, each Vestry member voted a secret ballot, and the decision of the whole Vestry was reported out….”  [Andrea continues]

In response to Andrea Seitz’s narrative, Win Fernald – in charge of the Search Committee for a new Rector — sent an email (in batches of 12) out to the entire church.

March 5, 2017:  Win S. does not want his Letter published on Monterey Bay Forum and — to respect his wishes —  his Letter has been deleted.

Win’s Letter started:   

Dear member of St. Johns ….


Correction 4/1:  The Nominating Committee did not have a chair and consisted of  three members exiting the church Vestry (governing board). Jon S was chair of the Bylaws Committee.



On  Wed. April 5, 2017  there was a  brief exchange of words between  Win F. and  C. Jackson.   You agreed not to publish my letter Win F. said to C.  Jackson  as he brought  in a table for the Soup Supper setup.       No,  C.  Jackson responded  and said what she remembered.  Did you read my email to you?  inquired Jackson.   No,   replied  Win.

Ah, such is email!

A portion of what C. Jackson wrote to Win F. regarding prior  publication of  his Letter:

“Win,  I hope that  this helps — feel free to forward as you like.  In our 10+ minute phone conversation, you told me that you sent your letter by  email  (in groups of twelve)   to everyone in the church.   Surely you know that  anyone receiving  your email can hit the FORWARD button and off   your letter goes to  many more  additional people —  to  anyone on the Internet.    By   publishing in the manner you did,   your letter t became a public document.

[To Win] “In our  10+ minute phone conversation, you did not  explicitly  ask  or say don’t publish.      At one point,  I asked you if publication would be helpful and you  said that you did  not think so.   That’s not an agreement.   

[written to Win,]  Had you asked me,   I probably would have agreed. I really do want to be respectful of what people say. And respectful   of what   individuals  don’t want published.   Without going into the  why of it  —  I cannot readily ‘erase’ what is published on Monterey Bay Forum.       

[ written to Win] “Via  the church  email sent to the parish community,    junior warden Andrea  Seitz  wrote her narrative   in response to questions from the community  and the  church.     And, you wrote your letter  in response to Andrea.    Thus,  it made sense to me to publish both.  

 “ Surely, you and Bill Kell et al   understand   that the    “greater community”  is interested, involved and concerned  regarding the Helpful Shop, how it functions and how it’s doing.    In a real sense – and a  very important sense —  the  “greater  community” concerned about the Helpful Shop   is part of   “the family”  Bill Kell refers to.  So who is “family” and who is not ….?

 About this “family” Bill Kell refers to.  I too am part of  it.

Actually – “flock” is a better term than “family”.    There may be a black sheep or two  in a “family” —   not so in a “church flock”. Everyone in a  “flock” is a  legitimate member of the flock.  

Win — “Rather than you as intermediary, as part of the church “flock” Bill Kell and others   can get hold of me directly and easily.    I do listen.  And I  try to do the best I can to write honestly about actions that affect our local community  and our  church “flock”.    Which includes  writing about the demise of the Helpful Shop Board.    This may not be the answer you want, I hope  it  helps.Thanks —  Cameron Jackson [So far there’s been no response.]

take away

Take Away from the  above?  Conflict is normal. Listening and  talking back and forth are normal ways to address conflict.

Churches  mange conflict in a variety of ways – some helpful  and some not so helpful.

The ‘discernment’ process that St. John’s in Aptos, CA  used  to decide the fate of Helpful Shop Board is one wherein each member  was expected   to speak — one by one — as to what they think.  There was  no cross talk or  general discussion of what someone else said.

St. John’s ‘discernment’ re what to do with the Helpful Shop Board  –keep in place  as is or eliminate it — was  based on a series of monologues. Not a discussion.

Churches are a bulwark in America. Free and open discussion of issues are helpful in the long run.  Right? One hopes so.

Just don’t publish something  — anything — that someone might deem  negative or showing that there’s difficulties  in this particular  church seems to be the mantra at St. John’s.

The early Christian church was full of problems reading the epistles which Paul wrote  to the various churches. And when there were difficulties people got together and discussed issues.  Seems to me that’s still the better way to deal with conflict.  Use the tried and proven ways of 2000 years ago  to resolve conflict?  Sounds good to C. Jackson.  Agree?  Disagree?    written  by C. Jackson   















Evening Prayer: St. Teresa of Avila & St. John of the Cross

Christ of st john of the cross DaliDuring evening prayers on Friday  3/17/17  at St. John’s in Aptos, CA —  hear about another dynamic duo:  St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

John of the Cross was asked by Teresa of Avila to follow her — which he did.  Both  Teresa and  John  were 16th century Catholic  mystics living in Spain.

St. Teresa of Avila was a writer, reformer and mystic who started the Carmelite order.

St. John of the Cross, famous for Spiritual Canticle, wrote Dark Night of the Soul while he was locked in a 6′ by 10′ cell. Both of these  were written in Spanish.  At that time,  the Bible was only available in Latin.

crucificion sketch by st john of the crossSt. John of the Cross made a drawing of Christ from above was  later was the basis of Dali’s famous painting.

At age 43, Teresa of Avila started her first convent  and later  several other convents for women. She created a rule for how the women  were to live, committed to a simple life of poverty based on love.

“The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.” (1)

John of the Cross created a similar way of life in  living together  for men.   John of the Cross  served as Teresa’s spiritual director and confessor.

Hear more about this  dynamic duo during evening prayer  5:30 – 6:00 pm,  Friday, March 17, 2017 .  Come to St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Aptos, CA. Come for healing prayer and pray for others.

St. John’s is located near the entrance to Seacliff Beach in Aptos, CA. All are welcome.


Dynamic Duos: Christian Saints Charles & John Wesley

hymns of faithChristian saints John and Charles Wesley are remembered and discussed today,  Friday, March 3,  5:30 pm at St. John’s in Aptos during evening prayers.

During March 2017  different dynamic duos  — Christian saints linked in ministry — will be remembered and discussed at St. John’s in Aptos, CA during the Friday 5:30- 6:00  evening prayer service.

Methodist preachers John and Charles Wesley are linked together in ministry.

Charles Wesley  wrote over 6,000 hymns including Hark the Harold Angel Sing.

Charles Wesley  is remembered March 2 in the Calendar of Saints for Evangelical Lutherans,  March 3 in the Episcopal Calendar of Saints and March 29 in the Order of Saint Luke calendar.



St. John’s in Aptos CA kills Board of Helpful Shop

helpful-shop-buildingNo more Helpful Shop Board.

For  many years,  the women of the church via the ECW  and then the   Helpful Shop’s Board  have operated the Helpful Shop as their outreach to the Santa Cruz County  community.

For the last ten years,  the Helpful Shop has operated under its bylaws and  has elected officers each year.  Six of the seven current members of the Helpful Shop Board are listed in St. John’s  church directory.

Andy Pudan  is the current president of the Helpful Shop Board. Other Board members are:  Floyd Bishop; Margy Cottle; Eileen Fernald;   Esther Meister;  Joanne Peterson and Nancy Shepard.

One effect:   there’s no more specific   participation by community  members in  decisions as  to the distribution of monies. The Helpful Shop’s  bylaws require two (2)  community members.  A  current  community member is the former secretary of the church who resigned   without warning during 2016.

Each year, the Helpful Shop Board distributes substantial money to many  local charities:  $19,400  was  distributed in 2016.  In 2015,  $28,000. was distributed.   In 2014 $32,000. was distributed.   Decisions are made by a Grant Committee.

 History:  Many years ago, the  Episcopal Church Women (ECW)  decided at a  High Tea held  that   December  that all money that could be distributed   would be decided by the members present for  High Tea that day. Women present that day  suggested  various charities and a vote taken.    It was an amicable and  memorable High Tea.   Delicious food and everyone got along.

 Subsequently,  a more formal Helpful Shop Board evolved  and   a more formal process put  in place how to choose charities. A couple years later the first manager of the Helpful Shop was hired.

There are numerous  scenarios as to what’s currently  going on.  Wanting control of the money — which organizations receive how much —  may  be  an  issue underlying the decision to disband the Helpful Shop Board.

The Helpful Shop  Board and its cadre of  faithful volunteers are largely  women.

This probably is  one of the last major acts Rev. Merritt Greenwood will do.

At the Feb. 2017 vestry  meeting,   the Rev. Merritt  Greenwood  in conjunction with Bill Kell (Sr Warden), Andrea Seitz (Jr. Warden) Jon Showalter and others voted to take all legal authority to operate from the Helpful Shop Board.

Information:  In an episcopal church such as this, the Junior Warden is the  ‘voice for the People’;  the Senior Warden typically assists and promotes  the Rector’s agenda.  Each vestry member has one vote.

Disagreeing with the majority, one-third of the Vestry   voted “no”  to killing the Board.

Why take such action at this time?  There was no immediate crises and a new Rector will be coming soon.

One wonders whether  this action involves gender issues?     Several men were instrumental  implementing this decision  to dismantle this  outreach activity,   long the principal outreach of women in the church.

Over the last year, there have been allegations of  disturbed/  distressed volunteer work relationships related to the  rector’s  and/ or partner’s volunteer activities.  One would think these issues would resolve naturally  with the coming of a new Rector.

The  Helpful Shop board puts on various events during the year and reaches out seeking volunteers.

  Through outreach by the Board,  numerous persons have chosen to help out at the Helpful Shop.

Who will do the substantial  work which Board members  have done? Who will find the volunteers?  Who will put  on the events?

The church vestry dismantled  i.e. killed  the Helpful Shop Board.  So, let the  St. John’s vestry do the work necessary to find volunteers and put on events?    

Rev. Merritt Greenwood — who has been at St. John’s somewhat over a year  as temporary Rector —  will leave St. John’s  with the coming of a new Rector.

From the newsletter of St. John’s:

“The shop has not been without controversy over the years. The level of autonomy of the advisory board has become an issue from time to time in its history. Most recently this has caused division and conflict within the parish, which the Vestry recognized as impeding the church’s mission and presenting a major difficulty for our new Rector …” written by A. Seitz

Checking out what St. John’s mission  is:

“Our mission statement goal is to equip all of our members for life and service to others.”


 Monterey Bay Forum:   My, my.  What to do when there’s conflict in a church?  

Does the vestry think it can dismantle the Board that has run the Helpful Shop and expect those who have done it  for years to just keep on chugging along?

 Is this the way a pastor ‘tends his sheep’?

There was no crises which required immediate action.  

The issue of  management of the Helpful Shop should have been left to the incoming Rector — coming soon —  to address and seek healing for all. 

Why hurt fellow church members?

Church boards, one hopes,  will reach out to heal — not hurt.

 There are resources which can help heal. Use them!   


prayer … for those of us who are … hurried, undisciplined and disorganized


prayer for the hurried, undisciplined and disorganized

prayer for the hurried, undisciplined and disorganized

Are you ….  hurried, undisciplined and disorganized in life?

Also  in your prayer life?

Written in   1993 by Laurence Wagley and published in The Christian Century   these words about prayer — and life — are timeless and worth reading.  Wagley writes:


“Much recent literature on prayer and spiritual formation has taken the “pumping iron” approach. The central theme is “try harder.” [This article was written in 1993.]

 “But trying has a short shelf life, and I suspect recidivism is greatest not among dieters or smokers but among those who commit themselves to prayer.
“People in trouble, reaching out in prayer, are desperately aware of their own weakness, instability and sin.
” Initially prayer is often a frantic garble with little faith in any answering help. As faith grows, confidence in our ability in spiritual matters is likely to decrease even more because of the discovery that good things come from God and not from human enterprise.
   be-still-and-know” The saints who have long histories of prayer and faithful living are the ones most likely to give witness to their own weakness and to attribute all their faithfulness to God.
” I’m no longer surprised that generally students’ first response to the topic of prayer is to confess how little they pray.
They know they ought to. They say they have a guilty conscience from neglecting prayer. They should be more committed, more disciplined and better organized in their prayer life. They ought to try harder. It took me a while to pick up the “shoulds” and “oughts” in these confessions. I didn’t recognize these at first because they characterized my own confessions. In other connections I call such a concentration of compulsive prescription a form of moralism—maybe even an indication of works-righteousness.
“We have been taught to emphasize human endeavor in our prayer and spiritual formation. Discipline and rule are presented as the norm. We should select certain times and places for prayer.
In the literature of spiritual formation  Prayer is not a rare thing to be searched for. It is the activity of life, the atmosphere that sustains life.
 God meets us in the noise, the hurry and the crowds —  while some  are preoccupied with discipline, with steps and procedures.
The picture  conveyed [in much of prayer literature]  is of a disciplined super-hero who climbs an endless flight of stairs, scales high mountains, works hard.
 Have you ever had acquaintances who insisted on forming a friendship with you? They pushed until you felt smothered by their attention, and you finally reached the conclusion that they wanted the relationship for the own reasons rather than for any real appreciation of you.
 I have a similar problem with many of the prayer manuals. Confidence in human endeavor is joined with promises of success. Titles such as The Power of Holy Habits, Liberation of Life, Secret of a Happy Life and Power Through Prayer contain a subtle combination of these themes. Interview the football star about his sport or his prayer and he is likely to say, “I had a really good day, but I can do better. I’m going to really practice hard this week and I think you’ll see a really super performance next Sunday.” This approach sounds right. Capitalize on the enthusiasm of the new convert. Encourage the commitment of the person who has just had a religious experience.
Home from a prayer retreat, the novice in spiritual formation makes resolutions. The problem with resolutions is that they look in the wrong direction for what is resolute. Listen to the practitioner who has been praying an hour every day for two weeks. “It’s wonderful! It has brought new meaning to my life. There is nothing like it. You ought to try it!” It sounds like Amway or Mary Kay. There is a Laurence A. Wagley is professor of preaching and worship at Saint Paul School of Theology (United Methodist) in Kansas City, Missouri. 323 CHRISTIAN CENTURY March24-31,1993 passing enthusiasm, and a need to sell the product to others as a confirmation of one’s good judgment.

This is the dominant form of evangelism in our culture. No matter what the sin (dirt, ugliness, being fat), salvation is a human endeavor.

SEVERAL PRAYER manuals follow a model that places those who pray on a scale of maturity. Then the aim is to prove that I have more spiritual or psychological maturity than you do. Many authors in the fields of education, pastoral care and spiritual formation have drawn on the work of Piaget, Erikson, Kohlberg and Fowler and made major contributions to an understanding of how people learn, cope and mature.
But prayer tailored to developmental stages can become mechanistic. An excellent book on prayer by the faculty of Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary ends with a chapter on “Learning and Teaching Prayer.” The author of that chapter is concerned primarily with “the learners’ cognitive and affective developmental readiness,” so that the “appropriate methods” may be selected. I’m afraid he will divide the prayer meeting into classes with names on the doors like: “Undifferentiated Faith,” “Intuitive-Projective Faith,” “Mythic-Literal Faith” or “Synthetic-Conventional.”
 Other manuals use psychological testing such as the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator so that prayer may be attuned to areas where you can make your own best effort. 
Prayer is primarily the initiative of God coming to form a caring relationship with us. When prayer is thought of as a human accomplishment it turns toward concern for goals and values that are attainable by hard work and which have as their reward personal gratification.

God’s act of salvation in Jesus Christ has changed the direction of prayer. An anxious striving for God has been changed to a thankful acceptance of God. Special days and holy places are to remind us that in Christ, God is present “at all times and in all places.”

 This is a gift to celebrate in the midst of life rather than a discipline to be learned in a special academy. This theological approach to prayer emphasizes healing of eyes and ears so we may see and hear and know God’s presence in the world.
Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline begins his chapter on “The Discipline of Meditation” this way: “In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds.” Like many other writers on the topic, Foster tries to create an alternative world in which we may practice certain disciplines and so achieve a spiritual quality of life.

 I believe that God meets us in this life—the life of noise, hurry and crowds—with a grace that is transforming both for us and our culture. The dichotomy of noise and spirituality is a false one.

 Prayer is not a rare thing to be searched for. It is the activity of life, the moving atmosphere that sustains life even when we are unaware of it. An increasing awareness of God’s presence is to be sought, but not primarily in our effort. It will be found in the revelation of God—a glory present everywhere, a song that is a constant melody of life.

 Augustine made this discovery. As a Neoplatonist he sought a ladder—a sequence of meritorious acts that would elevate the soul to God. He soon lost confidence in this approach, however, and came more and more to emphasize the frailty of humanity.
 For Augustine, prayer came to be marked not by disciplined endeavor but by the grace of God—a grace one cannot earn but only beg. 

The whole human response to God’s initiative, according to Augustine, is not ascetic exercises but humbly following Christ. Spiritual formation in an Augustinian mode is less the soul’s ascent to God than a holy longing, submitting to be remade by God.

He must have discovered it in Paul: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”
 Why should prayer be such hard work? A loving relationship would seem to express itself joyously and spontaneously. A theology of prayer that puts the emphasis on work and discipline is bad theology.

We pray to a God who takes the initiative. Prayer is a form of grace. It is an expression of the ultimate gift—the gift of God’s self to us.

The problem is not just in making unrealisjtic demands on human beings. In Faith’s Freedom Luke Johnson critiques much of the literature on prayer as having “little grounding in . . . theology” and “rarely touching on the problems of real life.”
“Christian spirituality,” he says, “needs an intellectual recasting that takes seriously the life of ordinary people in a world shaped by modernity rather than the monastery.” I T IS POSSIBLE to take the monastery and early Christian monastic practice as a model, but there must be some care used in doing so. Roberta C. Bondi in To Pray and to Love places the emphasis on the motivation of love rather than on particular practice. Alan Jones in Soul Making enters a world of tears, hurt, pain and abandonment. From the desert he learned that awakening is followed by falling apart and learning to let go. He believes “it is fatal to interpret Christianity as a program for self-improvement or self-fulfillment.” On the other hand, Margaret R. Miles in Practicing Christianity looks to the early monastic tradition for “regimes involving diet, management of sex, physical exercise, and meditation or prayer [in order to] heighten a sense of agency and responsibility, a new ‘relation of oneself to oneself.'”
One of the extensive reviews of historic forms of spirituality is found in The Study of Spirituality. Near the end of this book is a short but seminal essay by Mark Gibbard in which he recommends “a discriminating use of the spiritual classics.” He warns against their tendency to be world-fleeing and against the Manichean escape from the Prayer in the midst of life— while waiting, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, driving—is a natural turning to God. Prayer does not necessarily require one’s undivided attention. CHRISTIAN CENTURY March24-31,1993 324 material and a slighting of the needs of the body.

As Johnson says, “We do not flee the world in order to practice prayer; rather we pray in order to engage the world.” What would the practice of this kind of prayer look like?

    listening-imageListening as prayer: Listening to music, to the wind in the trees, to the noise of the city may be a form of prayer. Listening is itself a prayerful activity. Listening may lead to a sense of the presence of God. Listening may lead to insight. “Be still and know that I am God.” “I did not know that you were in this place.” 

   eligah-and-elishaFor Elijah,  God s presence was not in wind, earthquake or fire, but in the “sound of sheer silence.” Prayer as remembering: There is a close and dynamic relationship between prayer and remembering. The central act of the holiest prayer—the eucharistic prayer—is remembering.

 The remembering of the Lord s Supper passes from recalling to reliving, so that all that was done in the past is available and effective in the present. 

Remembering creates identity, and remembering helps us to know who we are and what our most important relationships are.

Prayer when you can’t think about anything else: This kind of prayer is at the opposite pole from disciplined and organized prayer. It is the prayer of crisis, of panic and trouble. When we face an emergency, it is difficult to think about anything else. Prayers during this time are often very subjective, even naive. “O God, get me out of this!” Children pray, “God, don’t let it happen,” or “Don’t let it have happened.”

We all pray such prayers, though we seldom admit doing so. If we prayed them aloud we would clean them up theologically and make them more presentable socially. But in their original form these prayers express our humanity. God shares our suffering and gradually a relationship matures. It doesn’t take erudition to pray. 

   sleepPrayer to go to sleep by: This prayer would not be marked by altered posture or even by disciplined practice. It would be characterized by a quiet sense of well-being. The emphasis would be upon presence, not content. It is the kind of prayer that enables the person to deliver everything into the hands of God—to relinquish control, responsibility, the need to worry. This is prayer as trust. The person prays his or her way into peaceful sleep.

 Prayer during wasted time or during underutilized time:

   driving-aaPrayer while driving, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, waiting—this is a natural turning to God in which we discover that God has been close all the time.

This prayer does not require isolation or undivided attention. It occurs in the midst of life as one is partially occupied with something else. People who commute to work report that this can be a meaningful time for prayer. Far from interfering with the other activity, prayer may actually enhance it.

 Instead of the rule of an hour a day for prayer, this approach makes much of the day available for prayer.

 Nondiscursive prayer: Protestants have trouble thinking of prayer as nonrational and nonoral. Early Christians went into the desert and found nondiscursive prayer, prayer more connected with being than with doing.


presence of God without words

presence of God without words

Practicing the presence of God without words can be a helpful way to pray for those who have an overload of words, concepts, speech. Instead of emphasizing discipline and rule, this form of prayer is an emptying, a being with, an integration.

 There are ordered and disciplined forms of prayer that are very helpful. They are more helpful to some people than to others. Meaningful as they are, they must not be allowed to define prayer exclusively.

Prayer as a gift is grace to the hurried, the undisciplined and the disorganized as well as to the people who live by a rule. In fact, such graced prayer is the best reminder of what prayer is and of the nature of the God to whom it is addressed. •

Written in   1993 by Laurence Wagley and published in The Christian Century 

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Pray? Obama prays we not pray as prayer does not work says Obama


Obama prays that Americans not pray as prayer does not work

Obama prays that Americans not pray as prayer does not work

Obama may be ok with Muslim prayer but not much other kind of prayer.

Regarding the  Jan. 2016  Ft Lauderdale type carnage committed by an ISIS jehadist shouting about Allah —  prayer  is insufficient says Obama.

Oh – so since you Obama have no faith in prayer, at least not the Christian sort, Americans should stop praying?

Remember that Obama abolished the national day of prayer Truman established in 1952?

Very recently  –on  January 5, 2017 —   Obama  wrote in the Harvard Law Review:

But as I’ve said many times: “ Our thoughts and prayers are not enough.”

They [prayers]  alone won’t “capture the heartache and grief and anger we should feel,” and they do “nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America.” We have a responsibility to act.

In 1952 President Truman established one day a year as a “National Day of Prayer.”

In 1988 President Reagan designated the First Thursday in May of each year as the National Day of Prayer.

In June 2007 (then) Presidential Candidate Barack Obama declared that the USA “Was no longer a Christian nation.”

This year President Obama canceled the 21st annual National Day of Prayer ceremony at the White House under the ruse of “not wanting to offend anyone”

As for viability of Muslim prayer?  On September 25, 2009 from 4 AM until 7 PM, a National Day of Prayer for the Muslim religion  was Held on Capitol Hill Beside the White House.

So Muslim pray is OK  –but all other prayer suspect?

Well — let’s keep President Obama in our prayers. Amen.



hey, dude, who do you say I am? Muhammad? Jesus? Dali Lama?

jesus-blueSo who is God or speaks for God? Muhammad? Jesus? Dali Lama?

A clash of cultures, religions,  and centuries of modern change goes on in our midst. Two recent events show stark differences:

 An ISIS dude at Fort Lauderdale  Jan. 9  answered ‘Who do you say I am?’ with bullets, bloodshed and shouting  the  words of the Shahada,  ‘There is no god but God and Muhammad is …”

Twenty other dudes  met  Jan. 11  at  St. John’s church  in Aptos, CA Jan.11 to peacefully consider ‘Who do you say I am?’  while reading out loud  together the  Gospel of St. John which starts with:

1″ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God. 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

The presenter Alliee DeArmond told a story about participating in a Billy Graham Crusade held in Santa Cruz back in the early 1980s.  As part of the training she was questioned, ‘What will you say to people…?’

John 1:12:  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.  

The ‘who do you say I am?’ discussion included time for personal reflection and general sharing.  Sharing included drawings and discussion of other books participants were reading.

Meeting #2  for Who do you say I am? will be in a week, same day and time:  Wed., Jan 18, 2016, at 7 pm – 8:30.


Beth Moore based Bible Study, First Baptist Church Aptos,CA

entrusted-bookOn a rainy day in Aptos CA 1/10/2016,  nine attended the   Ladies Bible Study  First Baptist Church, Aptos, CA.

Nine attend Bible study First Baptist Church, Aptos, CA


The bible study is based on Entrusted, by Beth Moore, Study of  the book of 2 Timothy.

Questions?  Please connect:
*   Tuesdays, 1/10/17 – 2/14/17
*   1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Books are  available through the church for $12.  
First Baptist Church of Aptos

Coming soon at First Baptist Church in Aptos, CA:

Friend Day
February 5, 2017
Bible Study at 9:45 a.m.
Worship at 11:00 a.m.
Lunch at 12:00 p.m.


Jesus: “Who do you say I am?” Come Wed. Jan 11 Aptos St. John’s


    jesus-blueA six-week encounter with Jesus in the Gospel of John will begin Wednesday, January 11, 7:00 pm at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Aptos.  Address:  125 Cantebury Drive

Join Joanne Peterson, Doug and Hannah Crocker, Alliee and Michael DeArmond, and Andrea Seitz in exploring the scripture.

Each evening will be led by different people and will focus on a particular chapter in John.

Participants should bring a Bible and some kind of notebook / journal.

The hour and a half evenings will include reading the chapter, a short introduction, time for personal reflection and discussion.

Dinner won’t be included, but there might be snacks.

For more information, email Alliee:

Please SHARE this info with your friends and acquaintances. Thanks.


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