Tuesday, July 31, 2007


yesterday i went to sky high

with some middle school guys.
my goal was to walk away uninjured.
trampolines and i have had an on again,
off again relationship since my teens.
i keep getting on them
and they keep wrecking my body.

didn’t make that goal.

i rolled my ankle.
but i kept on bouncing.
i guess the drive to bounce runs in the family.

as i was bouncing there was this moment
where my lower back jumped into my upper back.
i crawled off the trampoline.
i tried to play it off-
but there were some moments where
i did some complaining.
i was walking with a young man named austin.
i said,
“austin- i am injured.”
“sounds like YOU need a MASSAGE!”
he said.
“yeah- i’ll have to figure that out.”
i answered.
“i give really good massages!
would you like me to give you one?”
he asked.
“uh- no. but thanks I said.”
“are you SURE?
because my mom says that mine are the best!”
“yeah- i think i’ll be alright- but thanks buddy.”
i said.
“my dad thinks mine a really good too!”
“for reals buddy- i’ll be ok.”

we walked out to the bus side by side-
and without speaking,
he quietly dig his fist into my back.
i chuckled and said thanks.
it was a thoughtful gesture.

and today i’ve been walking around
with a limp and hunched over-
and trying to look cool.
why do you have to be so fun?
and dangerous?!

Monday, July 30, 2007

turn back the tide

Sunday, July 29, 2007

chef paul

if you hang around the ministries that i lead at the church,
hopefully it won’t be long
before you meet some one that is
homeless, hungry, or hurting.
this has been sort of a theme in my circle of influence:
i feel that helping those in need
is always relevant,
and always has something to teach us.
and because of this focus,
i’ve been to all sorts of homeless shelters,
soup kitchens, women’s shelters, and recovery centers.
i’ve met some incredible people-
and i’ve served a lot of food.

tonight, i was serving the homeless and hungry
with some college students
and i experienced some things that i never had before.
when i uncovered the dish with the night’s dinner,
it smelled
like really good!
my mouth was watering!
there was a whole tray of steak that was covered in spices-
another tray had roasted potatoes-
that were also all spiced up.
there were cooked vegetables
and a salad that could be served in a nice restaurant.

this is crazy- because most of the food
for the homeless that i have served
has been a bunch of leftovers thrown together,
without any real concern
about the taste or presentation.

the food looked awesome,
but chef paul thought it could look better.
he fussed over the salad
and wanted to make sure it was mixed up just right.
he wanted to make sure that every bite
had the right mix of vegetables.
he told us how to prep the plates
and when we prepped them incorrectly,
he told us,
and then fixed them personally.
he told us, “it’s very important
that the presentation is just right for our guests tonight.
I want it to taste delicious, and look delicious.”

come on paul, it’s a free dinner!

chef paul cared.
and it showed.
he personally handed out the plates to hundreds of people
that knew his name.
he was thanked over and over by his guests
for making such great food-
the entire group of 200 guests applauded him at least 3 times.
one guest said to paul,
“when i strike it rich, i’m going to hire YOU as my personal chef!”
i shouted out-
"me too!"

ok- i understand him going the extra mile
if its his first year on the job-
only it wasn’t.
more like his 22nd year on the job!

after dinner, paul shared his story with us.
he was a doo-wop singer from back in the day.
he was a restaurant chef,
and when bad times hit;
he found himself in line at a soup kitchen.
but the food was awful,
so the next day he made high-end pastries
for the staff of the shelter
from the leftovers in the kitchen.
they were amazed.
and he did that every day
until they gave him the job as the kitchen chef.
22 years ago.

he said that he could have just given half effort,
thinking that “its just for homeless people,”
“its just a free meal.”
“it doesn’t matter how it looks or how it tastes-
its good food and they should be happy.”
but that food represented him.
and not just that, it was for people that he cared about,
so he gave it his very best-
and not just to feed his guests’ bodies,
but their souls as well.
he told us how he hosts monthly talent shows
for his guests- with the guests themselves
providing the entertainment.
he told us that the level of talent within the shelter
is unbelievable:
singers, poets, musicians.
again, he gives it his very best,
for a section of our city that is largely forgotten.

he is a celebrity-
not among the wealthy,
but the poor.
and they know that he cares,

because he gives them his best.
i think that a lot of us in-ministry
and out-
can learn a lot from that attitude.

speaking of attitude,
he said that his never changes-
and in 22 years, he’s never been bored;
he always looks forward to work
and he smiles all day long.
tonight, i was the preacher,
but paul gave the sermon.
and we all walked away inspired.

thanks paul, for reminding me,
and the unis
that everyone deserves the my very best.

“whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men,
since you know that you will receive an inheritance
from the Lord as a reward.
it is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
(colossians 3:23)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

trapped in the park!

tonight i walked through almaden lake park to the albertson's on meridian and redmond while listening to the giants game.
barry bonds didn't hit a home run, but they've won like 4 games in a row now!
on my way home, i was wondering if the park would be open for me to walk through,
because it was dark and the park closes at sunset.
the back door was open and i walked in and through the park to the front gate-
but the front gate was locked and all of the park rangers were gone.
i was stuck inside! would i have to sleep in the park?
i walked along the fence, looking for a place to hop it,
when i saw an elderly asian couple out for an evening walk.
they didn't seem to speak a word of english, but they were trying to tell me something.
they kept pointing toward the right-
were they saying "there is a good place to hop the fence over here?"
i tried to ask them questions in english,
and they tried to answer them in their own language,
and we weren't understanding each other at all.
they kept pointing and walking to the right side of the very long fence.
we walked together on opposite sides of the fence
(they on the sidewalk, me through the park)
until we got to the end.
it turns out there was a secret exit over there!
i escaped almaden lake park-
thanks to some nice people going out of their way to help me out.
i was on the recieving end of a good deed!
it was fun!

maybe they were some more of those undercover angels i found in santa cruz...
i'm onto you guys!

rob 0, ally 1

ally may have won the battle,
but I'll win the war!
(what i really want to know is,
you can run to pennsylvania ally,
but you can't hide from

Friday, July 27, 2007

friday night lights

here are some pictures from tonight's walk:

jane on a train

right now, my girl is really into thomas the tank engine.
i mean really into thomas.
whenever we’re at barnes and noble,
she plays at the train table.
she has thomas books that she has memorized.
she can sit there and recite them
and make it look like she’s reading them.
she gets thomas dvds from the library.
(they’re boring at first, but eventually hypnotic.)
she has thomas stickers,
and a few weeks ago,
our youth admin, judie got her a real track with trains-

i was online awhile back,
and i saw that you can actually ride thomas in some places.
and i saw that he was coming to the bay area,
this summer!
so of course we got tickets.

we’ve been talking about it all week-
“five more days to thomas!”
“four more days to thomas!”
“we can give sir topham hatt a high five!”
(sir topham hatt is in charge of the trains in thomas-world.)

and today was the day we went.
she woke up early saying “thomas!”
this morning we drove to felton to the roaring camp railroad
in the santa cruz mountains.
(which is really cool!)
the whole place was done up for thomas-
and thomas merchandise and children were everywhere.

janie was amped.
here we are looking at thomas.

the thomas toy store:

here we are on the train!

this is sign language for train:

during the ride,
she didn’t talk at all-
she was focused on listening to the little story over the speakers
and listening to the songs it played.

and this is a picture of jane with a very scary looking sir topham hatt:

she slept hard on the way home!
i think we cured her of her train obsession for awhile.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

lectio divina:: exodus 12

i’m going through exodus in my quiet time right now.
today i read chapter 12-
the last of the plagues-
the plague of the first-born.

God was finally going to get egypt’s attention for good-
by taking from them what they loved the most:
their children-
their first born sons.

God tells Israel to get ready for the destroyer to come-
He tells them to make preparations
so that the destroyer will pass over their homes.
as i read through the Passover story,
i couldn’t help but reminded
of Someone.

the Passover meal had to be a Lamb-
a male Lamb- that was perfect.
without defect.

“for He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
(2 Cor. 5:21- nkjv)

“it was not with perishable things
such as silver or gold that you were redeemed …
but with the precious blood of Christ,
a lamb without blemish or defect.
He was chosen before the creation of the world,
but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”
(1 peter 1:18-20)

when the lamb was sacrificed,
the bones were not to be broken.

“they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs.

one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear,
bringing a sudden flow of blood and water…
These things happened

so that the scripture would be fulfilled:
"Not one of his bones will be broken,"
and, as another scripture says,
"They will look on the one they have pierced."

the blood of the lamb was taken,
and put on the doorposts.
it says this in exodus:

“take a bunch of hyssop,
dip it into the blood in the basin
and put some of the blood on the top
and on both sides of the doorframe…
When the LORD goes through the land
to strike down the Egyptians,
he will see the blood
on the top and sides of the doorframe
and will pass over that doorway,
and he will not permit the destroyer
to enter your houses and strike you down.”

if the bowl of blood was on the floor,
and they took a sponge and touched the top,
and then the sides of the door,
the destroyer would have seen something like this:

and would have chosen to pass-over.
crazy huh?

paul cuts to the chase and says this:
in 1 cor. 5:8 (nlt)
“christ, our Passover Lamb,
has been sacrificed for us.
So let us celebrate the festival,
not with the old bread of wickedness and evil,
but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.”

a final thought:
exodus 12:3 (the message)
says this:
“each man is to take a lamb for his family,
one lamb to a house.
If the family is too small for a lamb,
then share it with a close neighbor,
depending on the number of persons involved.”

our passover lamb is not just for us
and our families-
we need to share our lamb
with the families who have no lamb-
that they might be saved from destruction.

“then I looked and heard the voice of many angels,
numbering thousands upon thousands,
and ten thousand times ten thousand.
They encircled the throne

and the living creatures and the elders.
In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth

and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"

Then I heard every creature

in heaven and on earth
and under the earth and on the sea,
and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!"
(rev. 5:11-13)

Friday, July 13, 2007

take the journey

(from mosaic.org)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Monday, July 9, 2007

undercover angels

last night i took the unis to elm street mission
in santa cruz-
it took me forever to park the big old bus
and by the time i got to the the kitchen,
everyone already had a job to do.
i found myself standing around-

but then i heard that music-
it was captivating-
i was drawn to it-
i haven't heard it
since my days of serving the homeless in modesto-
it was the sound of a crowd of homeless people,
loudly and passionately singing those classic hymns.
i have been to elm street mission
to feed the homeless dozens of times-
but i've never been to their church service.
i told the unis that they were on their own-
i was going to church!

and we had church.
i was amazed at what i saw and heard-
there was this toothless, homeless woman
playing those old hymns with so much soul,
that i did a double take.
she played this rickety old piano,
but it sounded like something out of a gospel church
in the deep south.

i would have never have guessed
that she had that kind of talent-
i looked around and saw people in dirty clothes
she played this old hymn,
"blessed assurance,"
it stayed with me all night-
it goes like this-

"blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior, all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior, all the day long..."

they shouted that song-
i could have wept right there.

the preacher came up-
i've met him on several occasions
he's a big guy and always encouraging.
he told stories of days
when he held cardboard signs
to raise money to feed his alcohol habit
and how christ had freed him from that.

i would have never guessed that he came from that life-
God took him off the street, and put him
behind a bible and in front of a crowd-
"this is my story-
this is my song..."

i guess the old saying is true-
"you can't judge a book by its cover."
there's an older saying that goes like this:
"keep on loving each other as brothers.
do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by so doing some people have entertained angels
without knowing it."

undercover angels-
i think i found some last night.

"this is my story-
this is my song..."

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


re-create and
re-generate and
re-activate what makes your soul

re-do and
re-view and
re-new and
rescue the soul in you.

re-fine and
re-lax and
re-cline and give yourself a

re-pent and
re-ceive and
re-member- be
re-conciled and
re-vere the One who
re-stores and
re-pairs and
re-veals- the One who
re-cycles, and
re-deems broken hearts, broken dreams, the One called

re-ject and
re-volt and
re-bel against the lies that they sell

re-create your heart
re-novate your heart
re-form your heart
re-fuel your heart
re-model your heart
re-claim your heart

re-paint your point-of-view; and
re-write your script;
re-define success; and
re-invent yourself

Monday, July 2, 2007

rob's rules:

here are my top 10 personal rules for ministry:

1. never be without a watch, a pen,
and a pad of paper or breath mints
bad breath is the worst first impression-
so be mindful of your breath.
when it comes to having a pen and paper,
you never know when inspiration will hit-
and instead of just trying to remember,
write it down so you can be “fully present”
here and now.

2. be “fully present”-
this means be in the moment with the one you’re with.
don’t check your watch, don’t answer your cell,
don’t get distracted. this goes along with rule number 3:

3. there are no “little people.”
everyone deserves to be thanked, listened to, and valued,
no matter what they contribute, or what their title is
or isn’t.
this goes with rule #4:

4. be available-
billy graham was once a seeker-
and thank God he found someone
that could lead him to Christ.
as leaders, we have a reputation
for being inaccessible.
there is a sense that if people have spiritual questions,
they shouldn’t ask us,
because we’re too busy.
that’s bad.
nearly all of jesus’ miracles happened
when someone interrupted him.
we need to value our own time,
and at the same time,
allow ourselves to be interrupted.
that means making enough
margin for ourselves
that we have the space and time
to listen, care,
and hear the questions of others.

5. early is on time.
everyone is busy-
respect others’ time,
by showing up when you said you would.
this is a matter of integrity-
if you said you would be to lunch at 12,
show up at 12,
because you made a promise to be there.
if you’re going to be late,
call and let your appointment know.
you owe them that.
and when you do have to show up late,
make sure you have an apology and a good excuse.

6. leaders are readers
smart people write books.
if you want to be smart,
you have to learn from smart people,
and a great way to do that is to
read the books that they write.
its like a personal conversation with a great mentor.
reading takes a ton of time, and it can be boring;
you don’t have to finish a ton of books a year,
but you should always have one that you’re working on.
this goes along with rule #7:

7. listen to the culture
if 10 million americans are watching american idol,
do you think it would help you to be familiar with it?
if ‘the da vinci code’ was so important
that millions of people bought it and actually read it,
do you think that its important enough
for you to know what it says?
paul listened to his culture,
and it helped him to communicate the gospel on mars hill.
jesus used illustrations
that were familiar to the people in his culture.
i’m not saying, ‘read every book’or ‘watch every show,’
but if a bit of media is ‘scratching’
where millions are ‘itching,’
you should at least know why.

8. give it your best
we’re doing this for God-
and therefore, we ought to give it our very best effort.
he gave his best for us,
and he deserves nothing less than our best.
that means, we ought to use our best creativity
in our messages, graphics, events, etc.
everything should improve
and be better than it was last year.
good enough usually isn’t.
the world uses excellence so that it can get your dollars.
it uses excellence to keep its shareholders happy.
we are working for the almighty,
the Creator of all things;
and he is after something
far more valuable than dollars-
he wants to be reconciled
with his beloved lost sheep.
we owe it him and those sheep
to go the extra mile.
excellence can be expensive,
but effort isn’t.
go for it.

9. create margin
God speaks to us in the stillness,
so create time to be still.
ministry happens in the margins,
so make time for margin to happen.
be less busy.
this may mean that you have to make some hard decisions
regarding what is an important use of your time,
and what isn't.
and it may mean letting go of some activities
that someone else can gladly do for you.
this may mean that you have to temporarily
work ahead,
or schedule time to think forward-
do it!
you won't regret it-
the people we minister to
can tell if we are distracted, annoyed,
or feel too busy doing ministry to actually minister.
they aren't impressed with how busy you are!
build time into your day so that you can slow down.
your family,
your flock and your soul will be grateful.

10. leave them with a blessing
people come to church to meet with God.
so help them connect!
they meet with you,
because they know that they will be inspired,
encouraged, and blessed.
so bless them! inspire them!
look for ways to do that.
greet others warmly,
thank others sincerely,
listen intently,
laugh genuinely,
and send encouraging notes
(everyone loves to get mail!)
be an encouragement machine-
you can never underestimate
the power of an encouraging word.

so- if you’re a ministry leader,
these are some things that have been helpful for me,
and hopefully they will be helpful for you.