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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Does God engineer our circumstances?

This is the Christian message I shared with the Parkrose United Congregation on Sunday 31/1/16
it is a draft and not the final address delivered live.

Does God engineer our circumstances?

A lot of people who are not Christians, when things happen to them, they quite often say;

“Oh that was just fate.”

” It was meant to be.”

They are in their own way acknowledging that they think  their circumstances are being manipulated.

That there is a destiny mapped out for them over which they have no control.

Do we as Christians think like that?

Do we ever think that God might allow things to happen to us so we can learn from them and grow in Him?

Do we think that God might have a plan for our lives?

I know that it was a strange journey for Lesley and I.

For a start we met on a blind date!

Was it really so blind or was God behind it?

I look back on the things that led to me becoming a Christian and I can see how God was maneuvering me all the way.

An early involvement in attending an Anglican Sunday School.

Being influenced by the lovely Sunday School Teachers.

A period of wanting nothing to do with Church as a young person.

Hiding from the Anglican deaconess when she rode to our house on a bicycle looking for me.

A young man in a suit coming up to me and a friend, while I was camped out in Rundle Street in a queue waiting for Beatles Concert tickets, and attempting to share the Gospel with us.

We ignored him.
Meeting my lovely wife to be when she was 17 and I was 20.

Neither of us Christians but she at least was a Churchgoer.

Having a breakdown at the age of 21 when I supposedly had the world at my feet.

In time at least becoming functional again after that and getting married.

Lesley had become a Christian before that, but not me.

Living  in Darwin by myself prior to getting married and being blown away by the beauty of God’s creation.

To cut a much longer story short becoming a Christian just before our first son was born.

I can see God’s hand on my life through the years in Oh so many ways but He never controlled my will.

He never does. We have been given a free will so we can come to Him because we want to not because we are forced to.

We hear today in our Bible reading from Jeremiah some very definite things that God has in store for Jeremiah but Jeremiah is very doubtful about this.
The Lord said to me, “I knew you before you were formed within your mother’s womb; before you were born I sanctified you and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.”
(If God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in his mother’s womb does that go the same for us? It does I believe. He even has the number of hairs on our head numbered Luke 12
6“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coinsb? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 7And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Back to Jeremiah.
“O Lord God,” I said, “I can’t do that! I’m far too young! I’m only a youth!
(Do we come up with excuses when we are challenged to do the Christian thing? For example we might hear  a little voice saying. You should go and visit that sick person” but we find a reason not to or we conveniently forget about it.Or we might say I am far to old for that!))
“Don’t say that,” he replied, “for you will go wherever I send you and speak whatever I tell you to. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I, the Lord, will be with you and see you through.”
(Do we go forward in the same knowledge that what God is saying to Jeremiah, He is a saying the same to us?)
Then he touched my mouth and said, “See, I have put my words in your mouth! 10 Today your work begins, to warn the nations and the kingdoms of the world. In accord with my words spoken through your mouth I will tear down some and destroy them, and plant others, nurture them, and make them strong and great.”
“I will tear down some and destroy them, and plant others, nurture them, and make them strong and great.”

Could it be that God has similar plans marked out for each one of us?

I believe He has.

We are all, in reality, given a broad plan for our lives in the Great Commission and in the great Commandment.

The great Commission: Matthew 28: 19-20
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The Great Commandment:
Mark 12
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

If we learn to listen to God through His word and prayer we can be guided by God into what plans he has for us.

A great example of God activating His plan for someone is in Paul’s conversion.

He directly engineered Paul’s circumstances, and, there were others who were  part of that plan also.

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
How would you feel if you if you were struck down blind and then heard an audible voice giving you instructions about what to do and where to go.?

We might choose to ignore that and just go to see a doctor, as a sensible thing to do, but somehow Saul, who became Paul, was open to this as he was bewildered by the circumstances he found himself in.
Sometimes like Ananias we can be part of God’s plan for someone else without knowing it.

We might seem as an "angel unawares" to someone else.

Have you ever been fishing all night and caught nothing?

How skeptical would you be if someone said to you put down your nets in deeper water and you will get a catch?

Jesus said this

Luke 5:1-7 (We had this passage last week.)

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Obedience was the key to enjoying God’s providence to these fishermen and followed on that they became “Fishers of Men” for Jesus.

God was definitely intervening in their lives.
So some conclusions.

I believe if we are Christians , and even for many people who are yet to be Christians, God does engineer our circumstances but it is up to us to respond in the way God would have us.

We need to keep some main truths in mind.

One of my favourites is this one.

 Possibly yours also.

Romans 8:28 All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose”

But as my wife rightly tells me we need to take note of the whole context of this passage and not just glibly quote it.

We go back a couple of verses.

26 And in the same way—by our faith[e]—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.
29 For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him—and all along he knew who would—should become like his Son, so that his Son would be the First, with many brothers. 30 And having chosen us, he called us to come to him; and when we came, he declared us “not guilty,” filled us with Christ’s goodness, gave us right standing with himself, and promised us his glory.
31 What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?
33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has forgiven us and given us right standing with himself.
34 Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven.
In conclusion it is by God’s will we are all here today.
All of us have a story to tell and like the passage we have just read God’s Holy Spirit is ever anticipating our needs.
“26.And in the same way—by our faith[e]—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. “

Isn’t that wonderful?

I am happy to let God be in charge of my life not me.

Is that how you feel too?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

New name for my YOUTUBE site

This post is just to let people know I have renamed my youtube channel formerly pembridgehouse as
Geoff Thompson(Adelaide) Movies.

My youtube channel is in many ways an extension of my blogs.

Here is the link to me talking about some of my early cameras.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

How are Christian Books Born Again?

Of course my title is misleading.

A book is an inaminate object so it is never born or born again in a human sense.

However there are many wonderful Christian books that can find themselves having a new life
after the original owner has died or changed their ideas or they are just lying around someones house.
Over the years I have bought many new Christian books but probably a lot more on the second hand market.
Some classic books are out of print these days but their message is timeless and vital.

I discovered a little cache of Christian books in a Rotary Book shop the other day.

Here are some of the titles and why I bought them.

 "Understanding the Bible" by John Stott. One of my favourite Christian Teachers. A must.

 "He Gave Gifts" by Charles Swindoll. Good balanced teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit is very important.

 "The Methodist School Hymnal"  I never knew this existed.Some wonderful old hymns.

 This is the Classic Devotional Book every Christian should have and use.You can follow it each day on the internet.  "My Utmost for His Highest" by J Oswald Chambers

 The Serendipity New Testament for Groups . The serendipity Bible Studies were wonderful in the 70's and still great for today. This I regard as a treasure.

Lots of great tips about how to lead and take part in small groups.

'The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. This one I mentioned in my last post.
For the skeptics and Christians who want to know how to answer criticisms of your faith.

A great resource for used but very useful Christian books is at the following website.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Synoptic Photography by Geoff Thompson

Have just started  reading Lee Strobel's wonderful book, "The Case for Christ".
 I thought I had come up with a new term and category of photography but a google search told me I hadn't.
Notwithstanding that here is my take on it.
Synoptic Photography.
Lee's book is a written as a former Investigative Journalist who had come from being an Atheist to A Christian and then a Pastor  after his wife had become a Christian.
He had to find out what the change for the better in her was all about.

But back to Synoptic Photography.
The first chapter in the book talks about the the Synoptic Gospels,Matthew,Mark and Luke, and are they a reliable eyewitness account and journal of the Gospel narrative?
Why are there slightly different accounts and some things left out by the different Authors?
Also why is the Gospel of John different to the other three but is it complimentary and supportive of the others?

I have written on this theme on this blog before.

See the link below on the Photography of Matthew, Mark ,Luke and John.

In Lee's book I found the word Synoptic defined as "to view at the same time".

This immediately made sense to me not only about the case for the Gospels, but about how we all see a photograph differently.
And we all view the world from the point of view from our own interests and passions.

You might think a photographer who has made a name for himself as a Racing Car Photographer may have a different style to many others in the genre to stand out.

I bought a book at a Garage sale last weekend called "Through my Eyes" by Dirk Klynsmith.

He is a top motor sports photographer and has been for some years.

The book is, as he explains, a showcase of this idea he had.
"very quickly I knew that I wanted to portray motorsport in a different light"

He shows in his work his distinctive style developed as he developed as a photographer.

I looked at his website and also to my delight that he is not just a motorsports photographer but a very good nature photographer as well including birds.

I have a great passion for Bird Photography and Nature Photography as well as having photographed weddings for many years.
Many photographers have these diverse interests.

 Below is a link to his website.

My wife is not passionate about photography.

Not the least bit really.

However she has assisted me on many weddings and also when we go on outback holidays she becomes an enthusiastic photographer.

When we went Central Australia a few years back and also on a trip across the Nullabor Plain she was documenting the scenery almost as much as me.

When you look at our photographs of those trips you will see we have a very different perspective on things which reflects our different personalities, interests, passions and points of view.

Here are a couple of examples.

One of the best places in South Australia for landscape photography is "the Breakaways" near Coober Pedy.

My perspective

My perspective

My wife pursuing her view of this landscape
this is what she was focussing on.

Lining up another shot

this was it
These next shots were on our trip across the Nullabor Plain. This road connects Adelaide with Perth.
You can guess which ones I took and which ones my wife took.

These shots represent different aspects of our interests and personalities .
It might not surprise you that people marvel about our beautiful suburban backyard with its beautifully eclectic garden.
And I had nothing to do with it!(I occasionally mow the small patches of lawn)

Diversity in photography is great.

All photographers have a different view on often the same subjects.

And you can marvel at the way different photographers capture such beautiful but different images of the same subject.

In sync with  the same idea you don't have to be the same in all things,

have the same interests,

to have a successful marriage.

The one main thing my wife and I have in common is our faith in Jesus Christ.

Getting back to the Theological stuff.

Don't be put off Jesus by all the stuff about so called "contradictions" in the Bible.

Remember the word Synoptic.

And if you are as seeker of truth get a copy of Lee Strobel's book.

And keep on enjoying your photography.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wedding Photography in the Church by Geoff Thompson

One of the things new wedding photographers have to work out is where do you position yourself for shots during the ceremony.
The first thing about this is you do need to see if your customers want you to take photos in the Church.
Then you also need to make sure the Minister allows photos to be taken in the Church.
Below are some pics which show the basic positions I try for in the Church to cover the indoor part of the Church proceedings.
They were taken from a Church balcony by Dave, my assistant for the day, who had recently completed my wedding photography course.
He was using a Canon 20D. These images have not been edited.
The wedding was in January 2006.
I was still shooting film and starting to integrate digital coverage as well.
There is also a link here on my blog where I talk about a shot list for a wedding.
Some of what I do in the church is in that post.

Please note I am available for one on one or small groups who want to learn wedding photography or how to use their digital camera.
You would need to be able to come to Adelaide for this although I do frequent South Australia's Riverland from time to time and am open to conducting classes in Renmark.


 In this shot I am positioned at the front near the bridesmaids awaiting the entrance of the bride.
I would have already photographed each of the bridesmaids as they walked down the aisle.I am looking at the groom to get a shot of his expression as his bride comes down the aisle.

A little flower girl bravely walks in a head of the bride.

Everyone in state of anticipation

 Here comes the Bride. I am crouching down to get the shot as she walks toward the front.

Turning to get a shot of the groom.

 Getting the shot. I am waiting to get them in the same frame.Landscape orientation.

Where am I now?
 Possibly getting a shot from back of church looking straight down the aisle.

Now I am back in a position to get a couple of shots of the speakers.

Here I am possibly changing film or making some adjustment.

Now in position in back right corner so I can get close ups of the couple.

I think I accessed this doorway from a backdoor of the Church so I would not continually be moving around too much and be a distraction.
I am in the right corner as from that angle the bride's face is towards the camera angle.

This is a great shot to get from a balcony if there is one in the Church

They have been exchanging vows and now I am getting ready for the kiss.

Dave got the kiss from the balcony but unfortunately the shot was over exposed.
 Thankfully I got the shot from my position.

The signing of the register.
 I am waiting to get the shots that I will usually set up after the signing.

I will take some candids while this is happening

I would be doing a quick sequence of posed shots here.

Then three quick picks of the Minister handing over the certificate of marriage

For a brilliant satire on what today's wedding photographers are facing in the Church these days open the link below.

Friday, January 15, 2016

When I was a Film Host

When I was an employee of Telecom Australia(now Tesltra) I worked in the Public Relations or Corporate Communications area the last 5 years I was there.
I left in 1992.
Part of my role was as a secretary and organiser of meetings for Telecom's then Regional Consumer Council in Adelaide, South Australia.
This consisted of four meetings per year with various consumer groups representatives who met with Telecom Management.
The idea was to discuss with the Consumer groups Telecom's proposed new initiatives and also listen to their concerns and work out solutions on things like public phone boxes, technical aids for disabled and ageing people, and a range of other things.
My role was to liaise with the groups and prepare agendas and take minutes of the meetings and follow up on some of the business arising.
As part of a publicity venture to make the public aware of what the Council was doing, we decided to run some film mornings and a cup of tea and a biscuit for pensioners.
A free film show.
Nicki Rinaldi shows two ladies to their seat

We engaged a former employee who had been employed as a projectionist when such services warranted having an in house projectionist.
His name was  Algy Skierys and a charming man with much skill as a projectionist.
Sadly he died some years ago now.
We showed actual celluloid films such as "Gone with The Wind" "The War of the Roses" and "Bird on a Wire".
We had two sixteen millimetre projectors and Algy made a a clever device to cut from one reel of film to the other seamlessley during the screening.

The shows were  a very enjoyable activity while it lasted.

All the audiences were very enthusiastic.

We screened the films in Telecom's Theatrerette in the basement at Pirie Street.
My job was to introduce and host the films and morning or afternoon  teas.
I was assisted by Nicki Rinaldi and Di Mortimer.
We gathered our audience from the Telecom customers who had a concession on their accounts.
The Host

There is now a push to preserve celluloid film and the art of projectionists and equipment required. 
There are still some top Hollywood producers using film in their latest blockbusters.
See some links below of interest re the campaigning to preserve the celluloid film industry.

I actually competed a course in 16mm projecting at one stage so I could show films in our Church.
The equipment and projectors we trained on were wonderful working projectors some of which had to be skillfully manually threaded.

Their was a local organisation called the Gospel Film Ministry which was well patronised in its day.

Photographs by Barry Webb

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tamron 28-200 zoom on Pentax Kr.

I have always been a pentax camera enthusiast but also used other brands as well,
It's really great when you have collected many Pentax mount lenses over the years and you can still use them on a pentax digital slr.
I am looking forward to the release of Pentax's first full frame DSLR which apparently is not too far off.
Here are some shots taken recently with a Tamron 28-200mm lens on my Pentax Kr.