Pastor's Corner

Weekly thoughts to inspire and motivate

Rules for Fathers and Sons

One of my favorite clips from the Andy Griffith show was circulating around Facebook sometime ago. Opie, Sheriff Taylor’s son, comes into the Sherrif’s office one day and asks his father if there are rules for fathers and sons. The sherif asks what kind of rules he is talking about. “Oh, the 75-cent-rule.”

Joel SutherlandComment
Home Sweet Home

It doesn't seem to matter how long I've been away, it's always good to return home. The double mattress someone gave to me several years ago still feels so much better than any other bed simply because it's in my room. My couch and table and desk chair all feel so much more comfortable because they are familiar. Home is the one place I can be myself, away from the pressures of socialization.

Joel SutherlandComment
Are Bugs Attracted to You?

After prayer meeting in Parsons last night, Chelsea and I drove over to the Beech River Airport and took the little Cherokee, N486FL, for a short flight. I have not been able to fly recently nearly as often as I should be, so we spent the few minutes we had doing touch-and-go's. It was a perfect evening. The wind had died down, the sky was perfectly clear, and the last shades of pink were on the horizon as I worked on perfecting my landings.


Stewardship seems to be a bad word in the church today. We rarely hear it preached about from the pulpit and when it is, the sermon is usually concluded with an appeal to give more money to the church. We throw around the word whenever we have to fundraise for a furnace, air conditioner, or new church building. This has left many people with anxiety whenever they hear it mentioned. So why is stewardship something I get excited about?

God is With Thee

It was about 11 at night and I couldn't keep my eyes open. No matter how hard I tried or how much I told myself to stay awake, my eyelids would close and I would check out for half a second before I realized I had fallen asleep. "Stay awake, Chelsea. Joel is tired too and needs your help to stay alert while he drives. He's tired too!" Joel and were driving through Arizona and were almost to Flagstaff where we were planning on staying the night.

Eight-year-old Driver

The employees at an Ohio McDonalds last week were positive they were the object of a prank. A vehicle pulled through the drive through and an eight-year-old boy was at the wheel, chauffeuring his younger sister. As they came to the window with their piggy bank, the employees peered in the back seat, sure that the parents must be up to something. The two kids, however, were all alone.

Joel SutherlandComment
Glass Mingled with Fire

It was a beautiful Friday evening in northern Scotland. Chelsea and I had spent the afternoon driving around the countryside and walking the grounds of Dunrobin Castle. Neither of us were feeling the best. I think the days of traveling were catching up with us. As the afternoon sun got lower in the western sky, we drove back to the little village we were staying in and ate a delicious supper in a lovely restaurant right on the water of a small lake. After paying for our meal, we walked out onto the pier to watch the sun go down.

Joel SutherlandComment
Holy on the Outside Only

One of the things Chelsea and I enjoyed most about our time in Europe was the opportunity to see so many cathedrals. No matter which town we were in, we knew we could see at least one grand edifice, with its lofty ceilings, soaring buttresses, and towering steeple. These buildings did a lot to remind one of the holiness and grandeur of God. Simply stepping inside a cathedral made me want to whisper and act with the utmost reverence. One cathedral, however, proved a disappointment.

Joel SutherlandComment
The Knowledge

London has to be one of my favorite cities in the world. I love the culture, the people, the parks, and the taxis. Very few things say "London" more than the Black taxi cabs. Something I learned while I was there was how difficult it is to become a London Cabby. You see, it takes much more than owning or leasing a black car and putting destinations into a GPS. In fact, a GPS isn't even allowed in the front of a London taxi.

Joel SutherlandComment
Family Tree

It's amazing how much you can discover by looking at family trees. A few weeks ago I learned that gives a two-week free trial to new users. I have always wondered if I could trace my family name back to Scotland, so I jumped at the opportunity. I spent a couple of hours tracing name after name after name and I was not disappointed.

Joel SutherlandComment
Building for Eternity

A glimpse of the Eiffel Tower immediately takes ones mind to Paris. This landmark has stood for nearly one hundred thirty years and continues to draw millions of visitors each year. The Eiffel Tower was not supposed to be still standing, however. It was built specifically for the 1889 World Fair, held in Paris. The contract stated plainly that the monument must be easy to dismantle because after twenty years, in 1909, the tower was to be taken down.

Joel SutherlandComment

How does one understand the trinity, this concept of three co-eternal persons making up the godhead? What symbols can we use to explain such an unfathomable mystery? When I was a boy, my family had a book about the trinity, likening it to an apple. Just as the apple has three parts: the skin, the flesh, and the core; so God has three parts: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In college one of my professors preferred the metaphor of water. Just as it has three forms: solid, liquid, and gas; so does God have three forms: Father, Son, and Spirit. According to legend, when Saint Patrick arrived in Ireland during the fifth century, he used the shamrock to show the people what God was like. Just as the shamrock has three leaves yet is still one plant, so God is three persons yet still one God.

Joel SutherlandComment
The Wedding Garment

As you read this, I am on an airplane headed to California for my wedding. This will be the culmination of days, weeks, and months of preparation, hopes, and dreams. There were so many little things we had to think about. There was the wedding venue that had to be booked. We had to ask friends and family to be a part of our wedding party. We had to buy the decorations and plan the menu for the reception. I had to choose the outfit for myself and the groomsmen and Chelsea had to find and buy the perfect wedding dress. Even now we need to pick up our marriage license and lock down all the last minute details.

Joel SutherlandComment
Where Everybody Knows Your Name

There's an old song whose lyrics go like this: "Sometimes you wanna go.. / Where everybody knows your name / And they're always glad you came. / You wanna be where you can see, / The troubles are all the same. / You wanna be where everybody knows your name." Doesn't that sound like a perfect description of what a church should be? It isn't about a church, though, at all.

Joel SutherlandComment
Be Still

On my way home from prayer meeting last night I was listening to a podcast where Max Lucado was a guest. The conversation was about creating margin in life. This is something that I have been personally struggling with and trying to implement in my own life. Basically it’s the philosophy of creating a space around everything you do.

Joel SutherlandComment
Valentine's Day Ban

Haroon Khan is a 40-year-old car salesman. Being a married man who loves his wife, he was looking forward to giving her something special in celebration of Valentine's Day. This year, however, that wasn't going to be easy. On his lunch break he drove through town searching for something to give his wife, but public displays featuring hearts and roses were few and far between. You see, Haroon lives in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Just a couple of days before, the court had made a ruling forbidding the public celebration of Valentine's Day with immediate effect, which included public sale of items meant to promote it.

Joel SutherlandComment
The Greatest Testimony

Even if you didn't watch the game, I'm sure you've heard about Super Bowl 51. It seems like that's all anyone can talk about, and with good reason. Sunday night's football game was an incredible comeback story. Shortly into the second half, the Atlanta Falcons were leading with 28 points while the New England Patriots only had 3. It seemed that the winner had been determined. But suddenly something changed.

Joel SutherlandComment
#DeleteUber or #BoycottStarbucks?

Once again, our nation is divided. Once again, Facebook arguments are escalating and media anchors are calling names. Once again people are scrambling to stand on one side or the other of an imaginary line drawn to divide the camp of the lovers from the camp of the haters. The issue this time centers around a controversial executive order the president made temporarily suspending all immigration from seven muslim-dominated countries. In response; companies, celebrities, and common people have given their opinion.

Joel SutherlandComment
Reckless Abandon

I have been called a daredevil more than once, and I guess it kind of makes sense. I love jumping off of high towers attached to a zipline or repel rope, I enjoy riding four wheelers and motorcycles, I fly airplanes, and I may or may not have a lead foot while driving my vehicle. I tend to have fun when I'm doing something that has some risk attached to it. I disagree with this label however.

Joel SutherlandComment
Rest Awhile

Dr. Craig Carr has been sharing the results of his doctoral dissertation with us this week at our pastors' meetings in Pigeon Forge. His area of study was the principal of Sabbath rest and how it produces higher levels of emotional maturity and lower levels of anxiety in pastors who actually have one. According to Dr. Carr, the problem a lot of Adventist pastors face is that the job we have requires us to work so hard on Sabbath, therefore many of us never truly get a Sabbath rest.

Joel SutherlandComment