Wednesday, June 27, 2007


i just got back from a baptism service at arbor apartments.
my friend ken
has been leading bible studies there for years,
and today, 4 of the members of his bible study
got baptized in the pool!
a pastor who knew some of the people getting baptized
oversaw all of the speaking and baptizing,
so i was just there to watch-
and to support my friends gloria and athena
who were also being baptized.

as we listened to this man lead the meeting,
ken sort of pointed people out to me-
“this woman is off of drugs thanks to jesus!”
“this lady was in an abusive relationship,
but she kicked that guy out,
and now she is dedicating her life to the Lord!”
i was so inspired,
and now have a whole new respect for ken.
it got me thinking of pursuing some sort of bible study
in my own community.

my friends gloria and athena got in the pool-
they were a little nervous.
the pastor asked athena,
“have you received jesus christ
as your Lord and savior?”
in a word, she answered,
i didn’t know that she had given her heart to jesus!
and she proclaimed it to her world
and all of her neighbors,
new testament style!
with that one word,
all sorts of emotion was released in me-
i was in awe at the power of God,
to come and transform a life.
and if i wasn’t wearing my aviators,
that crowd would have seen my eyes well up with tears.
great job ken!
and hooray for jesus!

“if you confess with your mouth that jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God
raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
for it is by believing in your heart
that you are made right with God,
and it is by confessing with your mouth
that you are saved.
as the scriptures tell us,
“anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
romans 10:9-11
(new living translation)


Monday, June 25, 2007

the rw 100

my favorite magazine, entertainment weekly, just put out its list of favorite things of the year.
its called the e.w.100.
so i thought i would make a list of my 100 favorite things of the last 6 months or so-
its called the r.w.100.

let’s start in the world of t.v.:
1. heroes
ok- this may be my favorite show ever. when it was on, i made sure that i had a close seat in front of the tv, the lights low and the vcr on. when it was over, i went online to see what the rest of the world thought. not only was the show awesome, but it had the best t.v. villain ever in my favorite character,
3. man vs. wild
bear is the man! and now i totally know what i’m doing if i’m ever stuck in the everglades!
4. next food network star
something about watching people cook is fascinating
5. best week ever
6. the daily 10
this is a media review show on E! sort of like entertainment tonight, but it has more of a gen-x feel
7. the soup
8. flavor of love 2
oh my gosh- this has to be the funniest/ craziest reality show ever. flavorFLAV!
9. dog the bounty hunter
10. animusic
this show is absolutely hypnotic- i saw it on pbs one night and i was mezmorized. its like computer animated space-age instruments/ robots playing classical music.
11. the white rapper show
this was show on VH1 that was more than a reality show- it had some insightfull things to say about music, race, and poverty- and it was a crack up!
12. the daily show
totally “liberal,” but so funny!
13. yo momma
14. shows about guys welding cars:
like, pimp my ride, trick my truck and biker build off. i can’t get enough of this stuff
15. miami ink
i’ve actually learned a lot about ministry from this show. these tattoo artists are so friendly and interested in others. it may be the fact that they are jamming needles into their clients, or it may be the genuine conversations, but their clients always seem to shed tears.
16. doo-wop reunions on pbs
when i see these on t.v., i always stop. being from modesto, i grew up on oldies, and these guys all still have it.
17. nooma
this isn’t really a tv show, but you can watch them on tv! and they are all so insightful.

awesome. now, from the world of sports!

18. the golden state warriors
i’m so proud of these guys! they barely made the playoffs, but then when they got there, they were the fist-place maverick’s worst nightmare. total underdog story!i didn’t just love the warriors, i loved their coach,
19. don nelson
i hated him when he coached dallas, but i loved him as the coach of GSW!
20. stephen jackson
total passion
21. baron davis
more passion, total fearlessness and unintimidated by dirk and the mavs.
22. barry bonds
at this writing, he’s at 749!
23. omar vizquel
cooler than the other side of the pillow
24. kuip/ kruk
these guys can take a boring game and make it hilarious
25. the sharks
they may not have won the stanley cup, but they won all of their hockey fights
26. steven a. smith
part sportscaster, part talk show host, part baptist preacher, and always fired up.
27. sportscenter
28. ufc
is this a sport? i don’t know, but its crazy!

how about the online world?

29. myspace
jesus tells us that the eyes are the window to the soul- unfortunately, everyone is giving everybody a window into their soul through myspace. but its cool to be able to keep track of what’s going on with your friends-
30. postsecret
heartbreaking- and so authentic- a reminder that even though everyone may look perfect on the outside, they cry for help on the inside.
31. blogs
its really cool that everyone can be the publisher of their own personal magazine.
32. wikipedia
i have grown to love this site in recent months. so informative!
33. biblegateway
i’ve been using this site for awhile, but its always super helpful in helping me search the bible.
34. ebay
what if you can’t find a mary poppins figure small enough to fit in a dollhouse in san jose?look on ebay!

what about the world of music?

35. window in the skies- U2
bono wrote a song for easter sunday!
36. the saints are coming- U2/ green day
this was the coolest moment of the year for the nfl- when the new orleans superdome re-opened for the first time,, the saints came home, and bono shouted for the world to hear: “after the flood all the colors came out!”
37. instant karma- U2
i’m not into karma, neither is U2, but they recorded this old john lennon song to benefit the crisis in darfur- and the song rocks.
38. live from milan- U2
noticing a trend? this little dvd is amazing. this version of ‘all i want is you’ is enough to make a stadium of italians weep.

ok- rob likes U2- what about other music?

39. continuum- john mayer
40. crazy frog
i just discovered this sort of goofy dance music. i love playing it in middle school- total energy
41. call me when you’re sober- evanescence
42. see the morning- chris tomlin
43. prince at the superbowl
purple rain in the rain? does it get any better than that? i mean, really?
44. light rock
VH1 did this show, the 40 most soft-sational-soft-rock songs. and i knew all of them and loved almost all of them. really, journey? hall and oates, lionel richie, chicago, the bee-gees; these cats are timeless.
45. musicals
yeah. i dig them. i can barely keep myself from singing along!mary poppins, grease, little mermaid, lion king, joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat; it takes a lot of talent to come up with lyrics that tell a story!
46. the 70’s
i’ve recently gone through serious 70’s phase: the doobie brothers, k.s. and the sunshine band, earth wind and fire, the bee-gees, marvin gaye, james taylor, simon and garfunkel, i know- maybe i should post this on postsecret! my secret is, i like music that no one else does!
47. the 80’s
janie and i go to the jungle every week and they are always blaring the 80’s station that isn’t just the cliché’ 80’s songs like bon jovi and wham, but songs that no one remembers unless they lived with them from bands like:howard jones, early r.e.m., hall and oates, early police, bananarama, early inxs, duran duran, the cure, and the go-go’s. jane plays, and i remember being a middle schooler!

what about the world of books?

48. prayer: does it make a difference? – philip yancey
i got to meet him and have him sign my book!
49. millennials and the pop culture- neil howe and bill strauss
probably the best book i’ve read in years about this current generation of teens
50. sex/god- rob bell
51. paul: a man of grace and grit- chuck swindoll
-i loved this book- it felt like i knew the apostle personally after reading it.
52. soul cravings- erwin mcmanus
every single page of this book has something profound to say- no joke.
53. dust press comics
biblical stories stunningly captured in comic book form
54. the gospel according to starbucks- leonard sweet
if you like starbucks and jesus, this is a great book!
55. a new kind of christian trilogy- brian mclaren
this is a really cool way to talk about theology and church practice- through a story with characters that you can find yourself caring a lot about.
56. trains of los gatos
i loved this little book! did you know that billy jones (of the billy jones railroad) actually inspired walt disney to buy a train of his own? and that train led to the creation of disneyland?!did you know that ‘vasona’ was originally a train stop? that was named after a farmer’s horse? i love this stuff.
57. on the move- bono
58. the lorax- dr. suess
i just discovered this book- its deep.
59. entertainment weekly
i love this magazine. i read it cover to cover. there was a couple of weeks between my subscriptions that i didn’t receive it, so i just went to the store and bought them.

here is a list of things that i like that go along with iPods:

60. the mars hill/ rob bell podcast
61. the mosaic/ erwin mcmanus podcast
62. iPod remote
how cool is this? i can turn a song up or down or off or switch the song from across the room!a must for youth pastors!
63. iTunes
what if you just want one song but you don’t want to buy the whole CD or break the law?what are the top 5 most popular songs by coldplay?
what other bands do coldplay fans enjoy?

what about the world of children’s products/ entertainment? here are my favorites:

64. children’s television
its hypnotic- it has a conversation with you- sometimes i wonder if i enjoy it more than janie!
some fun children’s programs are:
65. mickey mouse clubhouse
66. sesame street

here are some places i like to take janie lately:
67. chuck e. cheese
its clean now! like immaculately clean!
68. children’s discovery museum
they have this whole room just for making bubbles- its awesome!
69. smart toys stores
like, learning express and wooden horse
70. oak meadow park
janie loves the carousel and the train- they just started using the original steam engine again- it’s a pretty cool experience!
71. party stores
like diddams, affordable treasures and party america- we could spend hours in those, dressing up, buying candy, tossing balls, finid stuff with mickey mose, ariel and pooh bear on them.
72. speech therapy/ ann slade
i can’t thank ann enough for giving me the priceless gift of the sound of my girl’s voice and the pleasure of sharing a conversation with jane.

here are some random things that i love lately- most of them have been around forever, but i’m just starting to love the again or for the first time:

73. sky high sports/ jump sky high
74. snacktivities
this is a snack/ activity- like eating peanuts out of the shell or spitting sunflower seeds, or cracking walnuts. its therapeutic and kind of healthy.
75. kfc
i was too snobby to eat here for the longest time, but janie loves their popcorn chicken and i do too!
76. togo’s cookies
the best anywhere- especially the chocolate chip.
77. togo’s chicken noodle soup
if they are serving the chicken noodle, i’ll take it over a sandwich everytime. so good!
78. peanut m&m’s
i’m currently addicted
79. caffeine-
i’m addicted to that too- i love it the form of coffee, mountain dew, and red bull
80. banana-chips
81. the family life center (gym) at cathedral of faith
first of all, its really inexpensive. but really, what other gym plays praise music, stresses modesty, takes prayer requests, and begins aerobics with a prayer time? i love it! speaking of aerobics, lately i have enjoyed:
82. tae-bo
my friend Lloyd teaches this class- and i totally love it. he makes it so much fun. he is really teaching me a lot about welcoming new people. speaking of exercising, lately i’ve enjoyed exercising with a:
83. exercise ball
and it doubles as a toddler toy!
84. new almaden
i just discovered this neighborhood! its kind of mysterious- in a good way. another neighborhood i’m enjoying is:
85. westgate
they have everything! target, old navy, the jungle, barnes and noble and red robin!
86. the bank-starbucks
near oakridge- no one knows it’s a real starbucks! so its always pretty chill in there.
87. videogames for tickets
lately, when we are at chuck e. cheese or the jungle, i really get into the games where you can get tickets for winning. you can’t really cash them in for anything, but for some reason, i get so pumped seeing those tickets roll out of the machine! sometimes janie wins more though, and that deflates my ego.
88. poloraized sunglasses
i love these! they saved almaden yesterday! i could see the white smoke of a brush fire much more clearly with them on than off- i called out the fire department and they came out in full force- with airplanes, and helicopters!
89. zip down hoodies
pullovers are so 5 minutes ago!
90. light rail
i was too snobby to ride this for awhile, but it is so relaxing! especially during the day. if i have the time, i’ll take it downtown instead of driving. you can read, or just watch the valley pass by.
91. lava hand soap
-its like a hand massage every time you wash your hands!

here are some new attitudes that i’m having fun with. all of the guys who write about post-modernism like to put the prefix “post” in front of all sorts of words, and i will too-

92. post-pulpit
i’m over using music stands when i speak- at least for now. its more fun to hold my notes and walk around
93. post-serious
i laugh a lot more with students than i used to. and i’ve discovered that the world has not fallen apart. i think i’ll keep it up.
94. post-diet
for years, i’ve been doing the low carb thing. now, i eat less, eat (a little) better, i eat earlier in the night, and i exercise more. its way more fun.
95. post-driving
i love walking and reading or thinking or praying or listening to music or a message or a book on tape. i schedule a lot more meetings that are walking distance from my office or my house. i’ve been walking to church on saturdays to set up before sunday. its good for my body and great for my soul.
96. post-up-to-date-
there are no movies on this list! i haven’t seen any! and my life is doing just fine.there isn’t a lot of current music on this list either. i don’t listen ot the radio or watch videos.i don’t know what’s happening on lost, 24, american idol, or grey’s anatomy, and i feel fine.i don’t read every post sent out on myspace.i’m not that up to date on a lot of things, but i don’t mind.
97. post-aloof/ curiosity
learning is fun. so i ask a lot of questions to the people i meet, because everyone has a story- and each one is amazing. i think that its better to notice people and things and facial expressions than to be aloof. its fun to find out how things work or how they came into being.
98. post aloof/ helping
feeling like a hero is much more fun than being lazy. so i’ve been helping where i can, and i enjoy it. some of my favorite times in ministry have been when i was the helper, not the leader.
99. post-aloof/ enthusiasm
its just more fun to care. i’ve learned this from my daughter. fire trucks are fascinating to her. so are ducks and splashing and playdough and the sky. and why shouldn’t they be fascinating?! its so much more fun to be enthusiastic than bored.
its so much more fun to laugh at things that are funny than to try not to look cool.
next time your mind sees something amazing and says “whoa!” let your mouth say it too- and your eyes and your entire body. you won’t regret it.

and finally, number 100, on my list of recent 100 favorite things:

100. toddler conversations
this morning, janie came into my room, and we had a fairly long discussion about swimming, our favorite snacks, and our favorite places to visit. and “if i could save time in a bottle” i would have saved that moment forever. but i can’t, so i’ll just have to have as many toddler conversations that i can while she is still a toddler.
some people think that i’ll get over her voice and her words,
but i don’t think that i will.
thanks for reading!

Friday, June 22, 2007

oh feet!

deanna, janie and i were having lunch today-

we had the iTunes playing,
and we were listening to janie's new favorite mix:
"ay-wee-ol songs."

janie started saying,
"oh feet! oh feet!"
deanna asked
"are you saying 'no feet?'
that's right! ariel has no feet!"
janie just kept going:
"oh feet! oh feet!"

we were listening to ariel's signature song:
"part of your world,"
and she sang the lyrics:
"i wanna be where the people are
i wanna see-
wanna see 'em dancin'
walkin' around on those
what do you call them?
(and then janie and ariel sang in unison:)
oh feet!"
i guess that's the name of the song in janie's mind!

what are you doing to my kid?!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


my little girl jane has gone through a few phases of obsession

with disney dvds.
it started with baby einstein.
it went to winnie the pooh,
it moved on to mary poppins,
and then mickey mouse,
and now, it’s the little mermaid.

with every little obsession,
janie picks up some new skills.
from baby einstein, she learned a lot of words,
sign language,
and she has become very familiar
with classical music.

she learned a lot from pooh-
how to dress like pooh,

how to start your own parade,
how to hop like a tigger,
and to love books.

she learned a lot from mary poppins too-
how to stand on a turtle with one leg,

how to dance like a chimney sweep,
how to dance like a penguin,
how to ride a carousel horse,

and how to draw on the sidewalk,
like mary’s friend bert.

what she picked up from mickey mouse is pretty funny.
he has a new t.v. show,
and all of the music is done by a former ska band-
and the characters do a lot of ska dancing-
and so does jane.

but i’m a little concerned about little mermaid.
she often comes to me with the dvd in hand saying
“ay-wee-ol.” (ariel)
and when she watches it
(we skip the scary parts about sharks and ursula)
she dials in-
its like her heart becomes one with ariel.

i got sort of sentimental about it at first-
here ariel is a girl who can’t talk-
but in reality, she has a beautiful voice waiting to emerge-
and "janie is like that" i thought-
"a beautiful voice, just waiting to emerge."
and then i remembered how ariel gets her voice!

she has to kiss a boy!
i turned into king triton.

i’m concerned that the things that janie will learn from the little mermaid are:
· how to dress immodestly,

· how to be boy-crazy!

(i’ve been a youth pastor for a long time! i know what this look means!
and its not good!)
(during this scene:
i heard her whisper:
ay-wick! (eric) what?! )
· or how to initiate kisses with boys!

· or how to wreck your relationship with your father over a BOY!


i have become king triton!
i’m the one telling ariel to stay away from eric!
and i am much more sympathetic to that character
now that i have a little girl of my own.
go triton!

i have become one of those
ultra-conservative parents!
and i’m not sure i like the underlying message
in the little mermaid!
boys are not worth it!
i’m one of them! i know!

maybe i can find a way to hide the movie!
or maybe get her into a new movie!
the jungle book?
that doesn’t have any kissing does it?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

take me out to the ballgame-

on monday night i went to the a’s game with my friend marc.
he’s got season tickets on the aisle really close to 3rd base-
and foul balls fly over there all the time-

it was the 5th inning and this foul ball comes darting toward us-
marc had his glove and went running up the stairs after that ball-
it bounced and he missed catching it by less than an inch.
a couple of obnoxious college guys got it.

what marc didn’t see, was that when the ball bounced,
it didn’t bounce off of a chair or a stair,
it bounced off of a woman’s nose!
the entire section rose up in concern.
her nose started gushing blood-
she ran up the stairs holding her nose,
and people handed her napkins from their hot dogs.
EMTs came to help her and so did representatives from the a’s-

the only people who didn’t seem concern for her
was the 2 obnoxious college boys-
they were holding the ball up for the camera
and gloating.
the crowd was disgusted.
they were shouting at these guys:
they started throwing stuff too-
i’ll admit it, i egged it on.
all of this was happening all around us-
the obnoxious college boys shouted back
about how it was their ball and they weren’t giving it away.

a representative from the a’s came over and gave her a ball.
the crowd applauded
and the lady stood holding the ball
defying the 2 obnoxious college boys.
they started cussing at her.
an older gentleman behind me
stood up to her defense.
he started walking toward them,
pointing at them and saying something.
they started cussing at him too.
that’s when it got crazy.
the whole section stood up
cheering, yelling, throwing stuff
and looking for a fight to watch or join.
it was all being shown on the big screen.

finally security came out.
it was the REAL security-
not the guys in the polo shirts-
these were uniformed policemen-
they pulled the 2 obnoxious college boys out of their seats
they dragged them up the stairs
and the entire time the crowd was throwing stuff,
shouting, cheering-
and the boys held their ball in the air in defiance.
justice was served
and chivalry was alive and well.

after that, the entire section got up and went to the bathroom
they all needed a break from all of that drama.
marc and i looked at each other and said
“this is the best game ever!”

Sunday, June 17, 2007

the other day i took janie over to the ‘big chuck e. cheese’
off of tully road.
it was big- but i was more impressed by the neighborhood.
there was a lot of stores and building that were strictly asian.
these buildings had huge stone lions in front,
giant bronze bowls,
and most of the signs were in an asian language.

i had no idea that all of this was in san jose.

it reminded me of a time that some friends from modesto
were putting on a concert on the east side.
they had a rapper that lived in modesto but had spent
much of his life in san jose.
i went up to him and said “i’m from san jose!”
he said something to the effect of
“i know all of san jose- where do you live?”
and i said
“do you know where almaden lake is?”
and he didn’t!
i said “do you know where the almaden neighborhood is?”
and he didn’t!


another time i took the unis on the east side for hesed.
again- many of the signs were in a language
that we couldn’t read.
one student asked
“are we still in san jose?”
and the address we were going to said that we were.

it’s a huge place-
10 largest city in america?
and its so diverse!

i read this book last summer called
‘the world is flat’
and it said that the entire world is moving to san jose-
and instead of giving up their culture-
they’re bringing it with them!
and now these immigrants can move into town
and eat the same foods that they ate in their home country,
watch the same shows on satellite,
speak the same language and shop at the same kind of stores.
they are all here.

i was thinking about this
about how san jose is so big and so diverse
but there is a lot that we all have in common-
no matter what our race or religion or language:
· we all have kids and we all love them
· we all want our kids to know the culture/ language/ foods/ beliefs that we came from
· we all love to eat the foods from our home culture
· we are all paying too much for housing and gas
· we are all trying to make it financially-
· and we are all spiritual-we all worship in houses of worship-
and we all enjoy that freedom.
on that note, we are all probably feeling
that our religion isn’t doing so well in a postmodern culture.

in another book that i read recently ‘cultures@siliconvalley’
it says that silicon valley is just the first of many ‘silicon places’
around the world.
it says that we are the prototype for the future of the world-
that one day, places all over the world
will bring the peoples and the cultures of the world
together to create technology.
one day cities all over the world will have “china-towns,”
and “japan-towns,” and littlie indias” in them.

this has a lot of implications for the gospel-
back in the day, jesus told his disciples that they would be
his “witnesses in jerusalem, and in all judea and samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”

back then, they had to go to those places to be a witness-
for us in san jose,
those places have come here!
and those pilgrims will also go back as well-
and the influence that we make for the gospel,
here in san jose, among the nations,
could reverberate all across the world.
and maybe we could export the gospel to the world
from san jose
in the same way we exported baywatch
and google.
(well- not in the SAME way, but you know what i mean.)

some americans are annoyed by the nations.
they say “learn english!”
or “stop taking the jobs (that i never would!)”
but i think that God thinks its cool.
maybe silicon valley isn’t just a prototype
for future silicon places,
but for heaven itself.
the apostle john says that when he saw heaven,
he saw
“a great multitude that no one could count,
from every nation, tribe, people and language,
standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”

maybe we should get used to the idea of hearing
people speak in other languages
and smelling their foods
and watching their culture,
and having them as neighbors-
because its not going to stop anytime soon-
according to the bible, it won’t stop ever!

so go make some friends
of another culture and another language-
we’re going to be neighbors for a long time to come!

sibs and ribs

on thursday i went to lunch with a couple of middle schoolers
on my new weekly activity: sibs and ribs.
this is where i take a set of siblings to lunch at malibu grill.

this week the students were named tiffany and trevor.
we were sitting there eating
and tiffany was telling me about how
she had brought a friend to church on the night before.

the night before as a crazy night
full of mean boys,
an angry parent, a sobbing middle schooler,
the potential for head injuries
a boy squirting mud,

and a visit from the ice-cream man.

i asked tiffany,“did your friend have fun?”
she said “yeah! she wants to come back next week.”

trevor had been doing a few things at once:
chomping his sandwich,
telling me about his favorite slurpee flavors,
the history of video games and
reviewing the macro-story of
‘a series of unfortunate events.’

but when tiffany said
“yeah! she wants to come back next week.”
he stopped.
he said
that is outreach rob!
everything that you do
makes people want to come back to church!
i love wxw!”

after that, he went back to his
ideas of what makes a great video game.

i played it off,
but inside i was beaming.

thanks trevor.
thanks God- for encouraging me!
and thanks staff-
because its not even close to being
just me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


this morning in middle school,
i spoke on psalm 23.
i don’t know why i was so emotional,
but i was!
and it was hard to keep back tears
as i spoke about God’s loyal-love for sheep like me.

we were talking about the valley of the shadow of death
and how even when we are there,
we can pass through unafraid,
because we know that we are not alone.
he travels with us.

there was this 13 year old girl in the crowd-
and in her mind, she is smack dab in the middle
of the valley of the shadow of death-
in a time of uncertainty, change and fear.
as i scanned the crowd making my points,
my eyes caught hers
and hers were in tears:
the good kind-
i think that she found herself
in a moment when her circumstances
and the ancient scriptures collided
to form a moment of clarity and encouragement.

again, i almost wept right there.
i’ve preached to thousands,
hundreds, dozens and a few.
i’ve been preaching since high school,
which is a really long time.
but today
i drove away from the church thinking to myself,
“i think that was the high point
of my preaching experience.”

the numbers were down,
parts of the morning were choppy,
but i’ll take it. gladly.

soli deo gloria.

“the LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
he makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
he guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
you prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Thursday, June 7, 2007


i like to go for walks.
which is good,

because there are lots of places
that i can walk to from my house:
church, barnes and noble,
target, the bank, starbucks,
armadillo willy’s, the grocery store.

i bring lots of things with me on walks-
a book, an iPod, a radio to listen to the giants,
a bag of sunflower seeds,
a bottle of water.
i pack it all up in a backpack.
i’m always stopped by church people
that see me miles from my house,
by myself, wearing a backpack-
they think that my car broke down
or wonder if i ran away from home.

tonight i needed to go on a walk.
i just heard that another one of my bills
is getting bigger, while my income
stays the same.
i was kind of freaking out,
so i clipped on my pedometer
and hit the trails.

my friend called my cell phone
and asked what i was doing
and what i was planning on doing on my walk
i answered, “i have a podcast to listen to,
and the giants game is on my radio,
but instead of listening to those things,
i think i’ll just listen to the wind.”
a total introvert response,
but it was true.

i started walking through almaden lake park
and followed the trail behind winfield
along the lightrail tracks.

the sun was setting, the stars were coming out-
i could smell the fishy smell of the lake and river.
i could feel the breeze.
i was about to pray about all of things that i don’t have,
but i began to be overwhelmed by all that i do have.

i went to pray about what i lacked,
but the words that came out of my mouth were:
“… i’m…so…blessed!”
i began to be aware of the beautiful things
that i have been taking for granted.
and i began to thank God for them:

my wife
my daughter
my health
my home-
(and the fact that my little girl and wife were safe in it)
my job
my relationship with God
my friends
my relationships with my parents and deanna’s
my memories- even from earlier today.
it was so refreshing.

i eventually did get around to praying for my needs
and my friend’s and family’s needs,
but beginning from that perspective,
and by considering how much i have,
what i lacked seemed so much smaller in comparison.

over the last few months i’ve been studying
for a series of messages from the book of psalms.
on my way back i remembered a passage
that has become significant to me in recent weeks.
its from psalm 42
and it says this:
“why are you downcast, O my soul?
why so disturbed within me?
put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my savior and my God.”

it was one of those rare moments
when my circumstances
and these ancients scriptures
to form a moment of clarity.

i will yet praise him.


a few years ago i was driving in mexico
on the long and dangerous road from tecate to ensenada-
and as i drove, i noticed that there weren’t any buildings,
just tumbleweed, cactus, and rocks- billions of brown rocks.
i was riding with a family and i asked
“where did all of these rocks come from?”

the daughter answered:
“the story is-
that when God finished creating man and the earth from clay,
He clapped His hands together,
and the clay from His hands fell here.”

i could see why that was “the story.”
it looked just like that.

and i started to wonder:
where do rocks come from?
are they born out of the ground?
are they uncovered by rain?
so they were there all along!
so where did they come from?
have they been there-
underground since the dawn of time?
if there are no new rocks being formed,
will we run out?

i mean really-
our world loves rocks.
they make streets out of them,
buildings out of them,
landscapes out of them-
what if we use them all up?

in the 70’s it was all about
preserving the world’s supply of oil
and fossil fuels.
these days its all about saving trees.
but at least you can replant trees
and use synthetic oil!
what about the rocks?!
what can we do when they are gone?

i’m starting a new campaign:

rocks play an important role in the bible
jacob used a rock for a pillow- ouch!
he used rocks to remember places where he met God
moses hit a rock and water came out
he was supposed to talk to one
but was too embarrassed.
he hid in the cleft of a rock.
oh- and the ten commandments?
carved onto rocks!
rocks- especially in quantities of 12-
were used to illustrate and commemorate
the 12 tribes.

david used a rock to kill goliath
the bible even calls God a rock
a lot of times.
and God always got mad when people
made little gods- out of rocks
(and anything else for that matter)

jesus told us to build our house on the rock
and the rock in this case
is his words.
he called peter a rock.
he said that if the people didn’t praise him,
rocks would praise him instead-
(maybe they already are and we just can’t hear it.)
when he was buried, he was put in a cave-
in a rock.
they rolled another rock over the front of it.

paul was familiar with rocks.
he got them thrown on him
and at him all sorts of times.
he made sure that they were thrown at stephen.

in revelation, it turns out
that foundations of heaven are rocks!
precious stones like emerald and sapphire-
and in heaven jesus will give us a rock!
a white stone with a new name on it.

but my favorite comes from peter.
originally named simon,
jesus re-named him peter
or “petros.”
it’s the same greek word that gives us our english word
“petrified.” or “made into rock.”
peter was made into a rock.
the original “rocky.”
and that gives him a unique perspective on rocks:

“as you come to him, the living stone—
rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house
to be a holy priesthood,
offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through jesus christ.
for in scripture it says:
"see, i lay a stone in zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame."
now to you who believe, this stone is precious.
but to those who do not believe,
"the stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,”
and, "a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
(1 peter 2)

i love that part about us being living stones
built together to be a spiritual house-
being chipped away at and shaped-
fitted together to line up with the cornerstone.

so save the rocks!
especially the spiritual ones.

Monday, June 4, 2007

# 237

Sunday, June 3, 2007

birdland on fifty-three

Saturday, June 2, 2007

here i am

i was in this big meeting the other day
and the guy leading it
was talking about all sorts of things-
but he had one thing to say that really stood out to me:

i don’t even remember how he started to talk on this,
but he started to talk about how you enter a room or a conversation,
or a situation, or a relationship.
and he said you can have two attitudes:
“here i am” or “there you are”

“here i am” means that you walk into
a room, or a conversation, or a situation
with the attitude like:
“i am here!” “i have arrived!”
“roll out the red carpet! i’m a celebrity!”
we make an entrance:
we try to look cool, or act cool, or talk cool-
and we see the situation as all eyes on me.
“here i am!”
“ask me questions!”
“seek my opinion!” “interview me!”
“let some of my cool rub off on you!”
we show up fashionably late
so that we can say
“here i am!”
its self-centered-

“there you are”
means that you enter
a roomor a conversation, or a situation,
or a relationship
focusing on those present.
instead of drawing attention to ourselves
we project attention and the spotlight onto others.
and they feel cared about
and welcomed, and listened to.
“there you are!”
“how are you?”
“how have you been?”
“i notice that…”
its others-centered-

“here i am.” “there you are!”
its the difference between
saying "i think..."
to asking "what do you think?"
its the difference between
staring off into space
and looking into someone's eyes
its the difference between
showing up and saying to yourself "
who is here that in know?"
and saying to yourself
"who is here that needs a friend?"
its the difference between
leaning against a wall all cool
and walking up to someone
with your hand out
and a smile on.

it doesn’t come natural to say
“there you are.”
we are all born with a drive to say
“here i am!”
“feed me! entertain me! watch me!”
if we want to say “there you are”
we have to turn that auto-control in our hearts off
it takes work saying “there you are!”

but its worth it.

because the ones who live their lives
saying “here i am”
are the most miserable.
if they weren’t-
why are they always in and out of rehab?
why are they always crashing their cars
and breaking up with their loved ones?
why are they going crazy and shaving their heads?

the ones who live their lives saying
“there you are”
are the ones who live free of drama-
they are so focused on others that they have no drama!
and their lives mean something
and do something more than just keep the paparazzi
and lawyers employed.

“here i am.” “there you are!”

i guess it’s the same way with our relationship with God
we can come to Him saying
“here i am!”
“aren’t you so glad that i gave up a few minutes for you?!”
“so…bless me ok?!”
or we can approach him saying
“there you are…”
“there you are...”
“what would you have me do?”
at that point its appropriate to whisper
“here i am.”

“here i am.”
“there you are!”
i guess we all know some "here i am people."
but do you know any "there you are" people?
i know i do!
i think of my mom-
my friend bruce
my friend galen-
i should really try harder at being a "there you are person!"

when it comes to being a
"there you are person"
no one did it better than jesus himself-
he had every right to be a
"here i am" person,
but he chose otherwise:

“do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
each of you should look not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
your attitude should be the same as that of christ jesus:
who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
and being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
(philippians 2)