The Light of Men

John 1:1-14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

2014-01-27 - The Light of Men (IMG_2077)A beam of light from the setting sun streams through a field of sunflowers on a warm summer’s eve.  Southwest corner of Snider Road and Irwin Simpson Road, Mason, Ohio.

Sometimes we need a ray of sunshine to warm us on a cold winter’s night, but for the benefit of our souls we always need to remember that Christ is “the light of men,” our Creator, Redeemer, and Lord.  He is “the Word [who] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

With Thanksgiving!

Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

2013-11-28 - With Thanksgiving (IMG_1207)Rays from the setting sun bursting through scattered clouds. Parking lot of North Cincinnati Community Church, Mason, Ohio.

This photograph was taken on an ordinary day (June 4th, 2010) in an ordinary place (a church parking lot) in an ordinary town (Mason) in southwestern Ohio.  While this was not taken in some amazing wilderness location, and it may not be the most perfectly composed or exposed photograph I have ever taken, it has always been one that strikes my heart.  I think the reason it does so is because it serves to remind me that every day is precious and that God is present with me always, even in the most ordinary times and places of my life.

On this day in America we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day often filled with family, feasting, and football; it is a time to celebrate. But, amidst all the hustle and bustle, it is really a day set aside for us to pause and reflect on all the blessings God has bestowed on us over the past year. In addition to the obvious things for which we give thanks, though, we should also remember to give thanks to our God who is the ever present, sovereign God, the one who is there with us even in the ordinary times and places of our lives.

Take time today, and every day, to look for God’s presence in all of his creation. God is there…he is calling out to you through his creation!  Listen to him, seek him, and give him thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Yours in Christ,
Todd the Hiker

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

The Most Valuable Pursuit of All

mpv-logo-web

Most of us have heard the term most valuable player, or MVP, in the context of the secular, sports world, and understand it as an honor bestowed upon individual athletes who excel in their chosen sport.  In 2011 the youth pastor at our church (North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason, Ohio) decided to take a different approach to summertime youth ministry.  Rather than offering one of the traditional Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs found in many churches across America, he chose to design a new program.  The name chosen for this program was MVP, which in this case stands for Most Valuable Pursuit.

The idea behind MVP Camp is to expose children to the gospel message through the arts (art, music, & ballet), athletics (baseball, basketball, football, soccer, & golf), and outdoor adventure (cool stuff like hiking, camping, orienteering, & roasting marshmallows over a campfire), activities pursued passionately by many in today’s society, Christian and non-Christian alike.  We teach the children skills in their chosen pursuit, and that these activities are wonderful gifts from God that should always be pursued with honor and excellence; but, ultimately, the Most Valuable Pursuit of all is a personal and life-long relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

At the start of each evening the children gather in the church sanctuary to hear an opening speaker who is a leader in one of the offered pursuits, and who is also a devoted follower of Christ, demonstrating that the pursuit of these activities can indeed be God honoring, and that Jesus is our Most Valuable Pursuit of all.  The children then disperse into smaller groups for instruction in their chosen activity for the remainder of the evening.  On Friday evening, the final night of the week long MVP Camp, we hold one large gathering where parents are invited to attend, along with their children, to learn about the week’s activities and hear a closing speaker’s testimony.

From the beginning of the MVP program I have been blessed to lead the camp’s outdoor adventure track.  I frequently tell others that I have just as much fun as (maybe even more than) the kids in my camp, and that serving Christ in this manner is a tremendous growth opportunity and blessing for me personally.  In the interest of keeping this post from getting too long I will save a more detailed description of my outdoor adventure camp activities for a future post.

In the first two years MVP Camp has been well received by those within our church and by those in the community around us.  We started big the first year, with around 150 children, and had nice growth in participation the second year, with nearly half of the children coming from outside our church both years.  We are now preparing for our third year and praying that the growth trend continues, despite a major road construction project limiting access to our church driveway.

By taking advantage of society’s fascination with sports and other extracurricular activities the hope is to attract a more diverse cross section of the community, particularly those who are un-churched and may shy away from the more traditional VBS offerings.  I believe this mission is being accomplished and that the gospel message is being proclaimed quite effectively through this ministry.

To God be the glory!!!

Yours in Christ,
Todd the Hiker

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.