this new year’s eve, i’ve got all kinds of goals for the next year. i’m taking an extended leave this year- which is basically 6 weeks off. crazy! the walters plan to have some serious-theme-park-fun, and one of my goals is to save up for that and not use credit to pay for that at all. last year i had a goal to go to the gym more. i kept track and it was something like 200+ visits. this year i want to kick that up to 250. my gym is closed a lot, so i’ll see if i can pull that off. this year i have also flirted with different fasts from food. i swore off of caffeine for several (painful and sleepy) months. i also swore off of sweets for a couple of months too. this year i want to take it to a new level: no french fries for 2009- whoa! this will be really hard- not because i’m a fry-guy, but because they’re everywhere. jane and i hit mcdonald’s and burger king all the time. i’ll just have to find something else to munch on. this will also be hard at hume lake. but i think i can do it. i’m sure i’ll come up with other challenges for myself later on this year. the great thing about a new year is that it’s a blank slate: anything can happen, and always does. happy new year!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
I have been sitting in the front row in church for the past seven years. at first it was because I was sitting with middle schoolers. but it didn’t take long for them to discover that if they say next to me that I would shush them if they talked. or fought. or passed notes. or threw notes. or texted. or made phone calls…
so, I haven’t had any middle schoolers to sit with for awhile. but I’ve still been sitting up front. and I often ask myself why I’m there. here are some of the reasons that I answer myself::
:: I’m there in case the pastor needs help. when I went to 1st B, there was always an associate minister that sat up front just in case the pastor needed anything. and I have been able to help out some. there have been times when someone needed something, and I was available to get it. there have also been times (like LAST SUNDAY) when the pastor needs a volunteer for an illustration, and I have helped with that too. there have been times when I have been ready to help someone if they were sick, but they were always ok.
:: I tell myself that I’m sitting in the front row in case someone needs to find me. if someone was looking for me, I’m always in the same place.
:: I tell myself that I’m up front to pay better attention, and it does help.
:: I tell myself that I’m upfront, because no one is sitting there, and maybe I’ll start a trend.
but then sometimes I wonder- “am I sitting up here to look important?” “am I sitting up here to get attention?” I don’t think so, but still, I wouldn’t want to. (I seem to get a lot of attention from the camera-man- at least the back of my head does.) I also ask myself, “am I sitting up here to be by myself?” that’s not a good motive either.
so- in 2009, I’m sitting somewhere else in church. and I’m going to sit with my wife. I’ll miss the leg-room.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
tonight, jane and i went on a daddy-daughter-dinner to mcdonald’s and then we went to vasona park. we were going to look at all of their Christmas lights, but we were about 5 minutes early and they weren’t going to let us in or even pull off of the road. so we went to the next entrance at oak meadow park. we decided to ride the holiday train. we love the train and ride it all the time, but we only rarely ride it at night. i was starting to wonder if we were bundled up enough; because it was really cold. jane said that she was doing ok. i think the adrenaline from the idea of riding the train at night kept her warm- at least for awhile. the train got stuck and had to stop for about 5 minutes. that’s when we started feeling really cold. jane NEVER sits next to me on the train. she always insists on having her own seat. but tonight, she started shivering, and when i asked her if i could sit next to her she said yes. i gave her a side hug and put a leg over her little legs and she snuggled up into the side of my hoodie. she totally missed all of the lights when the train started back up. i pointed out Christmas trees and lights but she didn’t say anything for awhile. as the ride was almost over, i could hear her whisper, “i love you, daddy.”
we were freezing, but that had to be the best train ride that i ever had.
later, we got on the carousel. it was all lit up with Christmas lights. they were playing Christmas music. as we rode around we were laughing and being silly. jane kept saying things like, “ARE WE RIDING A CAROUSEL…AT NIGHT?! DAD! ARE WE AT THE PARK?! IN THE DARK?!” then they played Mariah carey’s “all i want for Christmas is you.” and as i listened to that song and watched the wonder in my girl’s eyes, i realized that i already had all the gifts that a guy could ever want.
is this for real?
i think i might get a lion...
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 8:06 PM
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
oh the 80's...
its still relevant though-
my favorite part starts at 1:22
feed the world.
Monday, December 15, 2008
yesterday i was preparing for our christmas party and i came across a passage that i've read a hundred times. when i read it again, it had was just as powerful and meaningful as the first time i read it- so i thought i'd share it with you:
"Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
there is this guy at the gym who gets on this climbing machine every morning. he has worked out on it every day for over a year- but he doesn’t seem to be making any progress. he doesn’t seem to be working out that hard. he’s not sweating- he carries on conversations while he rides it. he gets tired, but he doesn’t get any closer to his goal.
I was watching his do this again today and thinking about my own work out regime- I get sweaty every day and still seem to make only a little bit of progress. as I was running along on the elliptical machine I couldn’t help but think that he and I are doing something wrong- and if we just asked a coach for help we could probably do much better.
and I started thinking about the many, many religious people in the world. so many are just like my gym-buddy and i: working and working, but never get any nearer to their goal; fasting and praying and reading and serving and abstaining, but never getting any closer to God; never becoming more godly. its seems that they are in the same boat as me: something’s not right. they’re doing something wrong. they need a coach to help them see it all differently. maybe they are like me and my gym-buddy: working and working, but never seeing any results.
with God, its not how much sweat you put into it, it’s the attitude that you have;
its the position that you take.
david said it in psalm 51: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Samuel said in 1 Samuel 15, “does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
for rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”
in amos God says, “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
but let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
it seems that God would rather have justice than worship services and humility rather than sacrifices.
and it seems that we get near God not necessarily by working for God, but humbling ourselves; by having a broken spirit; by making sure that no one is being exploited or mistreated.
we get nearer to God by associating with the lowly of the world.
david said, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
if the LORD is near the broken-hearted, then maybe we are closest to Him when we are closest to them.
I wonder if my gym-buddy and I really did learn the secrets of reaching our goals if we would actually do them. or would we just keep doing our routine and tell ourselves that it will pay off eventually?
I wonder if the religious really knew that God would much rather me take care of the sick and hungry than be a good Christian (or good catholic or good whatever) if we rally would? or would we just go back to our routine and tell ourselves that its all paying off- a little at a time?
Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice. 'For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
maybe we have spent so much effort being religious, that we have forgotten that we are actually the sick in need of a doctor. maybe we have spent so much time telling ourselves that we are righteous that we have forgotten that we’re really the sinners that Jesus is calling to come near to Him.
Friday, December 5, 2008
1. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
this book is the only work of fiction on this list, and its in the form of a journal, written by an elderly pastor to his young son. its full of stories on the olden days of ministry, wisdom, advice and hope. i absolutely loved it.
2. outliers by Malcolm gladwell
this book was just published this winter- i’m just wrapping it up this weekend. i found gladwell’s previous books to be absolutely fascinating, and this one is just as interesting. it unwraps the story of success and asks the question, “what makes a person successful?” the answer is: a lot more than hard work and passion. it involves a lot of big breaks. if you’ve never read a Malcolm gladwell book, order one- you won’t be disappointed.
3. local girl makes history- by dana frank
I love local history. I read 3 or 4 local history books this year, and this one was by far my favorite. the author uncovers the hidden histories of the pulgas water temple in san Francisco, the cave train ride in santa cruz, the cats statues in los gatos, and the big slide of tree trunk in big basin state park. she has a huge curiosity for local treasures, and leaves no stone unturned or story untold. i thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
4. jesus wants to save Christians by rob bell and don golden
i really enjoy rob bell’s writing and thought process. i think this is my favorite of his 3 books. chapter five is on American consumerism in the face of the world’s poverty. as i read it i couldn’t decide whether to shout amen or get on my knees and repent. both are appropriate. if you like audiobooks, make sure you get the audio version of any of rob bell’s books. he reads them himself and makes the experience that much more entertaining and interesting.
5. the likeability factor by tim sanders
i blogged about this book earlier this summer. sanders makes the argument that success is driven by other people’s opinions- and their opinions are driven by your personal likeability. (how big of a factor was likeability in the recent election?) he gives some easy strategies to boost likeability that are not only helpful, but fun and kind. most people don’t even wonder how likeable they are.
6. love is the killer app by tim sanders
love is what separates us and makes us both unique and likeable. sanders gives his “lovecat” strategies that make so much sense, but are practiced by so few. i find it hilarious that the business world is finally finding the value in what believers have been preaching for 2 millennia.
7. do hard things by alex and bret harris
this is a book for teenagers- i loved it so much that i used some of the ideas in this book to formulate a series for the middle school ministry called uprising. the book says that our culture has given teenagers a free pass to goof off until they feel like they are finally a grown up. back in the day you were a grown up at 14 or 15 and expected to make a difference. teens and the adults that are responsible for them are selling them short by having such low expectations. if you have a teen or know a teen, get them this book.
8. wide awake by Erwin mcmanus
we all have dreams while we sleep, but what if we could see our dreams realized when we are awake? this is basically a book for people stuck in a moment that they can’t get out of- but its still relevant to anyone; whether they feel that they are in the zone or not.
9. crazy love by francis chan
this book will make you reevaluate where you are in your faith. my favorite part was the final chapter: profile of the obsessed. this book has also inspired a series for middle schoolers. its called OBSESSED and will begin in January. this is a great book for any and every believer.
which book will be number 10? i thought about the jewish war by josephus (which I also blogged about). I found it fascinating, but I wouldn’t call it one of my favorite reads. pagan Christianity by frank viola was also interesting, but not necessarily enjoyable. I also thought of Patrick lencioni’s 5 temptations of a CEO- which was really good. but i’m settling on:
10. IT by craig groeschel
what is IT? how does a church or a pastor get IT? craig neither defines IT or tells how to get IT, but he certainly gives some great insight in ways to position yourself to develop IT.
there is a big stack of books on my shelf that i’m looking forward to reading soon. hopefully some of them will make it onto next year’s top ten. make sure you’re always reading something. reading makes you smart and it puts you into a one on one conversation with some of the brightest minds ever.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 8:38 PM
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 9:16 PM
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
what bugging rob on 11/26? 2 things.
the first: super-long-receipts.
I get bugged when I go to a store and buy something, and a foot-long receipt gets printed out. its got a survey, and a coupon, and of course, how much I spent on what. the cashier gives it to me and I have to fold it like five times just to get it to fit in my wallet. and then my wallet is super-fat and there is nothing in it but receipts. its like George on Seinfeld. eventually its just going to explode. I like what the apple store or what amazon.com does when they just e-mail me my receipt. saves a tree and makes my wallet thinner.
RETAILERS: stop printing out those long receipts! I don’t want to take your survey! if I did, I’d tell you that I’m dissatisfied with your long receipts!
the second: people who wait for parking spots at the mall.
this happens to me when I drive into the parking garage at the mall, and there is a line 15 cars long to get to the top! as if this was frustrating enough, the issue isn’t that the lot is crowded, the issue is that someone in the front of the line has parked their car in the middle of the parking garage and is waiting for a car to leave. they make the rest of us wait instead of looking for the next best spot.
I have been that person that people wait for to leave. I get to the mall early on fridays and I usually have a great spot. when I go to leave, there is someone who has parked their car near mine and is waiting for me to load up and leave. I feel all of this pressure in these situations. I feel like its me holding up traffic, not the rude mall-shopper. so I rush to get jane in her seat and the stroller in the back and I wish that this person waiting for me would just go to the next spot! there is another spot! I know it! you can find it!
I understand this kind of behavior on black friday. but on a regular old-day? that drives me nuts.
mall shoppers: be considerate. don’t hold up traffic and wait for a spot. it makes people leaving your spot rush and it makes people behind you irate. go to the top of the parking garage. there is always parking up there- and you’ll have an elevator to take you right inside the mall.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 4:08 PM
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I spoke in chapel yesterday and gave a message from my “soul assassin” series that I did earlier this year. I started the message with some photos of some people that had been assassinated to talk about the definition of the word.
I started out with this picture:
I asked the students:
“who is THIS GUY?”
one young man raised his hand and said, “harry potter?”
i was stunned. the students seemed to wonder why.
sure, its not that clear of a picture, but harry potter?
what has this world come to?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
this morning in middle school we talked about giving it our best and rebelling against laziness. afterward, i saw one young man stacking chairs even though the chairs did not need to be stacked. i wondered if he felt convicted by the message and wanted to get to work on being proactive right away. later on, i saw him in the game room playing a star wars video game. he paused it and said, “i almost started crying during your talk today.”
“why?” i asked.
“i’m lazy and i need to do better.” he said.
“well- i saw you stacking chairs! that’s a good start! good for you! i’m proud of you!”
there was an awkward pause in the conversation.
he broke the silence by saying,
“well, i’m kind of in the middle of something right now…”
and he went back to playing his videogame.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 9:35 PM
we’ve been working on potty training for a long time at our house. for awhile jane was interested, then she just wasn’t at all. we’ve tried all kinds of incentives including cheetos, m&m’s and toys. we have watched lots of potty videos and have read every potty book on the market. we have used several different potty charts to track our progress.
recently we did 2 things that have paid off- well sort of. the first thing we did was make a new potty chart. this one had words, not pictures- so jane could actually read it. it had some pretty good prizes on it. the second thing we did was stop buying diapers. jane did pretty good. she was averaging a potty prize about once a week- or one good potty a day. eventually i had to make a new potty chart. this one had good prizes too. really good ones. on the picture, the “mall dollhouse store” is pottery barn kids! what was i thinking?!) but i figured that we could swing a new toy once a week. to be honest, i didn't think that she would get good at going potty anytime soon. but i was wrong. this kid kicked it into high gear. she started to average a new potty prize EVERY DAY. she started raking in the potty prizes. now i get two or three phone calls a day from jane. she calls every time she does a good potty while i’m away at work. she and Deanna have invented a special pee-pee-dance to celebrate each time she uses her potty powers. after the dance comes the special ceremony of putting a good job sticker on her chart.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 8:58 PM
Friday, November 14, 2008
"can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down his tongue with a rope?
can you put a cord through his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?
will he keep begging you for mercy?
will he speak to you with gentle words?
will he make an agreement with you
for you to take him as your slave for life?
can you make a pet of him like a bird
or put him on a leash for your girls?
will traders barter for him?
will they divide him up among the merchants?
can you fill his hide with harpoons
or his head with fishing spears?
if you lay a hand on him,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
any hope of subduing him is false;
the mere sight of him is overpowering.
no one is fierce enough to rouse him.
who then is able to stand against me?"
Monday, November 10, 2008
we were making conversation and I said, “how is mountain mike’s?” and he responded in his thick accent (I don’t know his name or where he’s from- some friend I am!) “mountain mike’s is good. we keep it clean. we make it ready for customer. its hard right now, father rob. look at ace hardware. thirty thousand a month in rent. and sometimes no customer all day.” then he went on about how to fix the problems and how America needs the Lord. I was walking out towards starbucks. we walked a ways along the shops and he shouted into all of the stores: “BE GOOD TOGO’S! OLA MEXICO! HELLO BLOCKBUSTER!” I asked him what he was doing. he said he was going to get some coffee. I figured that he was going to starbucks too. he wasn’t he was going to the little donut shop. I told him that I was headed to starbucks. he said, “starbucks is a big corporation- the donut shop needs my money more than them. I’ll get my coffee here.”
what a great encouragement. as long as this recession is going, I’m going to do my best to spend my money on the local guy. I would encourage you to do the same. they need your money much more than the CEO of some large corporation does. when you need hardware, go to ace, not home depot. when you need a coffee, go to almaden roasting company or to the bear. when you’re getting lunch, go to the grill or to a taqueria, not some fast food mega-chain. when you need gas, go to the local guy. we need to look out for the local guy in these days. they say that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. let’s let the rich guy dip into his savings or get a loan for once. let’s look out for the local guy.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 11:32 AM
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
today, Deanna said, “if you’re going to chuck e. cheese, there is a coupon in the envelope.”
the envelope?! what envelope?! i’m guessing that i should have known about the envelope.
i played it cool. “where is the envelope?” i asked.
“in the box.” she said.
the box. what box? we have a lot of boxes. this must be an important box. it has THE envelope in it.
she was assuming that i knew about THE box and THE envelope.
the more i thought about it, the more i realized that a lot of people talk with assumptions.
for example, when Janie tells me that she wants to go to THE park, or THE dollhouse store, THE bookstore, or even THE toystore, she doesn't have to be more specific, i know exactly which places she is talking about.
when i watch espn, they often talk about “THE play” or “THE catch” or “THE pass.”
i just play along and pretend that i know what they are talking about.
one time, i was hanging out with a friend and his wife called looking for “THE sponge.” what sponge? i wondered. he apparently knew exactly what she was talking about, and didn’t have it. another friend had a hilarious story; and people used to always ask him to tell THE story.
my whole town talks like this. they assume that you know what they are talking about when they talk about THE paper, or THE tank, or THE villages, THE hill, THE cats, THE beach, or THE city.
at my old church, everyone knew what you were talking about if you wanted to meet someone by “THE rock.” at my church, people meet by “THE steps” or by THE cross. there is a bunch of steps and crosses at the church, but everyone seems to know where to meet. at hume lake, there is THE ark, and THE cove, THE store, and THE rock. Christianity itself talks with assumptions when people talk about “spending time in THE word.” i wonder if people wonder: ‘the word? which word? you can spend time in a word? how much time?”
after thinking about it for awhile, i realized that i talk with assumptions too. i often make phone calls or send e-mails using the phrase, “hi this is rob from THE church.” i say to my wife, “i went to THE store and bought something on THE card.” she knows exactly what i’m talking about. and of course whenever someone asks where i want to go to lunch i say, “where else? THE grill.”
there are assumptions that i used to be able to use, but can’t anymore. when i lived in modesto, people gave directions by saying, “first get on THE freeway,” or “let’s meet at THE mall.” i can’t say that anymore. at my work we used to say, “go to THE printer.” now there are a dozen. we used to talk about THE service, but now there are 4.
you only talk like this if you share something in common with someone. its like an inside joke, but not as funny. so maybe when people talk with assumptions, they are just inviting you into a closer friendship. the next time you use an assumption, just remember that you share something in common with that person that you're talking with; you are connected on a level, be it a strong connection or not. i’ll let you ponder that while i’m off at THE gym. before i do, i need to look around for that box.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 7:48 PM
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I had two interesting moments in speaking to middle schoolers recently-
the first happened on sunday morning. we were talking about standing up for what’s right and I was giving situations where students would have to make a choice between standing up for what is right or going along with a crowd of friends. I was going off notes a bit and said, “or what about this: say like a friend comes up to you and says, “hey- I’ve got a substance that is illegal for people our age, but it makes me feel really funny- what do you think? would you like to have some with me?” “what would you do?” I asked. one boy in the back yelled out, “NO ONE TALKS LIKE THAT ROB!” normally I would have given him some sort of warning, but he had a good point. I couldn’t help but stop and laugh.
another funny moment happened just today-
I was over at a local middle school, doing a bible study during lunch, and a gal came by that I had never met. at least I thought she was a gal, I wasn’t sure. she could have passed for a boy with her short haircut and her boy clothes. we were talking and she said, “wait! I want to see if my girlfriend wants to come!” I thought- oh- he’s a boy.”
then we got into the club and I started chatting about the election and what everyone thought, and this new friend said, “I’m really mad about prop 8! that means I can never get married!” I was a little stuck. I didn’t have a response. someone shouted out something about obama and I kept rolling with that. we talked about depression and sadness and I asked, “what makes a middle schooler sad?” and three gals shouted out in unison: ”BOYS!” i responded with, “sure- the opposite sex can make us feel sad sometimes…” and then I started thinking about my new friend- should I qualify that statement by saying, “or the same-sex…”? was I excluding her with my language? again, I just kept moving. I don’t think I’ve ever been n a situation like that where I had a middle school student who was openly stating that they were gay in one of my meetings. I was caught a little off-guard. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t treat her differently or single her out. I wanted to make sure that she had the same voice as the other students in the room. I wonder how I will handle that when it happens again- because I have a feeling that I will encounter this more and more in the future. I was really excited about our subject matter, because everyone feels sadness and depression at times- no matter what their background is. and everyone should know that God listens when we are sad and that He is a safe outlet for our emotions. so hopefully this gal was able to walk away encouraged to interact with God through prayer.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
jane has these cassette tapes of old sunday school songs that she listens to in the car. they actually sound like old children's musicals from church. there is this one song based on philippians 4:13 with the lyrics, "i can do all things through christ who gives me strength."
yesterday we were driving and listening to this song and i heard jane quietly say from the backseat,
"sometimes he gives me strength too!"
"me too!" i answered.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I just finished reading through the book of job.
as I read through it this time, I come away with some reflections:
God was never angry with job, although all of his friends thought that He was. God was actually proud of job. that’s why He mentioned him to satan in the first place. and that brings up another reflection: we assume that if something bad happens, then God is angry. when 9/11 hit, we assumed that God was angry with America. when the earthquake hit china, Sharon stone got in trouble for suggesting that it was karma for their involvement in Tibet. when Katrina hit, all kind of people were saying that this was God’s judgment against new orleans’ wild living. and when job lost everything in a day, his friends assumed that God was judging him for some sin- but God wasn’t. God was thrilled with job. what if we did not assume that God was angry the next time a crisis hits? isn’t it interesting how FEW people feel that this current financial crisis is NOT God’s judgment against America and her greed?
something else: for the advice-givers-
job’s friends seem to be great guys. they come and stay with him while he is going through a rough time. they sit silently and listen to him for days. then they start telling him what they think about the whole thing. some of the things that they say are inspirational and sound so true- but they are not. what they say sounds true, and feels true, but its not true. they are convinced that what has happened to job is because of his sin. they are certain that job’s troubles are the result of God’s anger and judgment- but they’re not. job didn’t sin- and God wasn’t angry with him. at the end of the book, God says to job’s friend eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant job has.” he tells them to go to job and ask him to pray for them. God doesn’t like it when we don’t speak accurately about Him- it makes Him angry. we do it all the time. we rattle off ideas that sound right and feel right, but they aren’t right at all. and it doesn’t help. we interact with people going through pain and we give unsolicited advice about why its happening- but those words can be reckless. when we interact with a hurting person- we need to consider our words carefully. the way we speak accurately about God is to be aware of how He has revealed Himself in scripture.
so if God wasn’t angry with job, and if job didn’t sin? why is he suffering? job can’t see the entire picture. neither can we when we suffer. God wanted to glorify Himself and He wanted to reveal the strength of job’s character. those are both wonderful things to be a part of. what if we had that attitude when we are going through a trial? thinking that, “maybe God is glorifying Himself right now” or “maybe God wants to reveal what is buried within my character and help others?”
when satan first comes to God he says that job only worships God because God has blessed him- take away the blessing, and the worship will end. could that be said of me? of you? of America? we might get to find out.
chapters 38-41 of job are some of my very favorite in all of scripture. before those chapters are talk-talk-talk. job’s speeches, his friend’s speeches, job’s questions, his friend’s answers- and then in chapter 38, “the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind.” I love how the NIV translates God’s opening line, “who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” God goes into question after question about who created the majesty of creation. God goes into detail about how He created sunsets, stars, oceans, continents and animals. He goes on and on about donkeys and ostriches. He mentions wild goats and oxes in the same speech as sunlight. its like an ancient version of “planet earth.” God was fascinated by creation long before the discovery channel was. if He delights in creation shouldn’t we?
last bit- I found this encouraging- job 5:17-ff
“but consider the joy of those corrected by God!
Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin.
For though he wounds, he also bandages.
He strikes, but his hands also heal.
From six disasters he will rescue you;
even in the seventh, he will keep you from evil.
He will save you from death in time of famine,
from the power of the sword in time of war.
You will be safe from slander
and have no fear when destruction comes.
You will laugh at destruction and famine;
wild animals will not terrify you.
You will be at peace with the stones of the field,
and its wild animals will be at peace with you.
You will know that your home is safe.
When you survey your possessions, nothing will be missing.
You will have many children;
your descendants will be as plentiful as grass!
You will go to the grave at a ripe old age,
like a sheaf of grain harvested at the proper time!
“We have studied life and found all this to be true.
Listen to my counsel, and apply it to yourself.”
good job eliphaz.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 12:08 PM
Thursday, October 23, 2008
when jane was a baby, her favorite dvd was “the many adventures of Winnie the pooh.” one day I decided to watch the making of it, and learned much about the character and his author. pooh bear started out as bedtime stories to the original christopher robin. these evolved into children’s books, which walt disney’s children loved. when walt acquired the rights to the character, he wanted to make sure that he stayed true to the books. in walt’s cartoons, pooh bear is actually animated into a book. he’s often seen jumping over pages and text. all of the original cartoons were inspired by a.a. milne’s stories.
the last chapter in “the many adventures of Winnie the pooh” has christopher robin going away to school and the story ending; but the story didn’t end. disney continued to create pooh bear stories- all of them not written by milne, and most of them not including christopher robin. they also introduced new characters into the hundred acre wood, and evolved many of the existing ones. to me that always seemed strange that they would make a movie or a cartoon that was not originally imagined by milne, or use characters that were not created by milne.
there is a new show on the disney channel called “my friend tigger and pooh.” jane loves it. its about a new friend named darby and her dog, buster. she, pooh and tigger form a team called the super-sleuths and the solve mysteries. I enjoy the show, but I have some problems with it. number 1, they use modern technology in it, like darby’s razor-scooter. second, christopher robin appears in the show! he’s back from school! but pooh does not spend his time with christopher, he spends his time with darby! this makes no sense to me at all.
and it reminds me of what I see all the time in Christianity. we started out, much like disney did. we wanted to stick to the book. we wanted to be true to the original text, and to its original hero, jesus Himself. but as times change, we allow things to evolve to suit our purposes. we let jesus evolve into an American or a republican, or a social activist, or a hippie, or even a politician. we take his words out of context to confirm our caricature of jesus.
I’m a purist. with Winnie the pooh, for sure, but when it comes to jesus, definitely. if all the pooh bear fans really want to know milne’s stories,, they should go get a copy of “now we are six,” and any other of milne’s books. and if we want to know jesus, we need to meditate on the words of matthew, mark, luke and john.
disney made a joke about how strictly he was sticking to milne’s stories. he introduced a new character into the story named gopher. One of the first lines Gopher utters during his first appearance in the Disney cartoon is: "I'm not in the book". He is referring to the fact that he is not in the phone book, but this is actually referring to the fact that he was not in any of the original stories by milne. in one story, he zooms off under ground leaving the other characters puzzled. pooh says, “well, he’s not in the book you know…”
what if we had the kind of radar for spotting false caricatures of jesus and were able to say of inaccurate portrayals of jesus, ““well, he’s not in the book you know…”
Friday, October 17, 2008
the other day i was standing in line at burger king and holding jane. i was ordering her kid’s meal and answering questions, “like for here or to go?” when jane blurted out,
“HE LOST HIS HAIR!
DAD! HE HAS NO HAIR!”
i found myself in one of those situations where i want to turn and look, but i know that i shouldn’t.
i ignored her and kept talking to the burger king person.
but jane just kept it up.
she said, “DAD! WHERE IS HIS HAIR?! HE LOST IT!”
i slowly turned around to see a nice, bald man cracking up.
he said, “i didn’t lose it, its just cut really short.”
yeah right buddy.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
2 “I must reply because I am greatly disturbed.
3 I’ve had to endure your insults, but now my spirit prompts me to reply.
4 “Don’t you realize that from the beginning of time,
ever since people were first placed on the earth,
5 the triumph of the wicked has been short lived
and the joy of the godless has been only temporary?
6 Though the pride of the godless reaches to the heavens
and their heads touch the clouds,
7 yet they will vanish forever, thrown away like their own dung.
Those who knew them will ask, ‘Where are they?’
8 They will fade like a dream and not be found.
They will vanish like a vision in the night.
9 Those who once saw them will see them no more.
Their families will never see them again.
10 Their children will beg from the poor,
for they must give back their stolen riches.
11 Though they are young, their bones will lie in the dust.
12 “They enjoyed the sweet taste of wickedness,
letting it melt under their tongue.
13 They savored it, holding it long in their mouths.
14 But suddenly the food in their bellies turns sour,
a poisonous venom in their stomach.
15 They will vomit the wealth they swallowed.
God won’t let them keep it down.
16 They will suck the poison of cobras.
The viper will kill them.
17 They will never again enjoy streams of olive oil
or rivers of milk and honey.
18 They will give back everything they worked for.
Their wealth will bring them no joy.
19 For they oppressed the poor and left them destitute.
They foreclosed on their homes.
20 They were always greedy and never satisfied.
Nothing remains of all the things they dreamed about.
21 Nothing is left after they finish gorging themselves.
Therefore, their prosperity will not endure.
22 “In the midst of plenty, they will run into trouble
and be overcome by misery.
23 May God give them a bellyful of trouble.
May God rain down his anger upon them.
24 When they try to escape an iron weapon,
a bronze-tipped arrow will pierce them.
25 The arrow is pulled from their back,
and the arrowhead glistens with blood.
The terrors of death are upon them.
26 Their treasures will be thrown into deepest darkness.
A wildfire will devour their goods, consuming all they have left.
27 The heavens will reveal their guilt,
and the earth will testify against them.
28 A flood will sweep away their house.
God’s anger will descend on them in torrents.
29 This is the reward that God gives the wicked.
It is the inheritance decreed by God.”
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I was driving to lunch today, and had my iPod on shuffle, and “isn’t she lovely?” by Stevie Wonder randomly came on. I normally click through my shuffle a bunch of times, but this time, I just drove and listened and smiled. and it wasn’t long before I concluded that this song has secretly been the theme song to my life and family for the last four years.
here are some of the lyrics:
“isn’t she lovely
isn’t she wonderful
isn’t she precious
less than one minute old
i never thought through love we’d be
making one as lovely as she
but isn’t she lovely made from love
isn’t she pretty
truly the angels best
boy, I’m so happy
we have been heaven blessed
i can’t believe what God has done
through us He’s given life to one
but isn’t she lovely made from love”
here is the audio from Stevie himself:
I love the harmonica
and the way he included his little girl’s voice on the track
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 2:10 PM
Friday, October 10, 2008
i'm in sacramento with the student ministry team!
we stayed at judie's cabin, spit seeds, drank sweet tea, grilled steaks and shot bb's.
last night we went go-cart racing- crazy! i got to wear a racing suit and everything. it was super fun, although I think i was slowing everyone down.
i'm off to my first seminar!
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 9:36 AM
Friday, October 3, 2008
here are some pictures that i have snapped with my camera phone on some of my recent walks in the neighborhood::
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 2:37 PM
i was thinking about my post from yesterday and started getting all paranoid. i was thinking, "there is a bunch of people on my facebook friends list that i barely even know! there are people on there that I haven't spoken to in over a decade! and since i've added them, they haven't typed a word to me! not only that, I'm sharing all kinds of things with them: like a link to this blog, and photos of my family, and my struggles with addictions to chocolate and caffeine, and my favorite U2 lyrics! i'm helping them stalk me!"
i was feeling a little too exposed.
so i deleted a bunch of people from facebook.
sorry long-lost friends!
its nothing personal,
if you want to be friends again, let me know.
and if we're still facebook-friends, its because we actually know each other-
or because we have actually interacted online in the last year.
i also cut out my links to other blogs on this site.
i use bloglines to keep up with all of you anyhow.
am i just weird?
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 7:56 AM
Thursday, October 2, 2008
facebook makes me feel like I did when I was in high school.
there are people floating around the internet crowd:
many of them know me, but they don’t want to say hi.
or they know me,
but they pretend that they don’t
or act like they didn’t notice me there.
or I know them,
but don’t know if they want to talk to me again.
or they don't really care to be my friend,
but they want to know the latest about me.
I feel that I have to act cool online because people are silently watching
and silently making judgments about how I look, or what I say.
I felt the same way back in high school.
just when I found a sense of security as a grown up,
I get a facebook account
and relive all of those feelings of insecurity that I had as a teenager.
facebook cliques of cool kids that make fun of me behind my back?
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 10:13 AM
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 2:08 PM
its been a long time since I’ve posted a blog about the church//gym; its been a while since I’ve been to the gym! almost a week.
this morning I was riding the exercise bike, watching ESPN, listening to bono, and sweating. I got off of the bike and headed to the sit ups machine and I saw carol on the treadmill. carol is the lady who bugged my friend gary about his chest pains in front of everyone and then later asked him out on a date. she must have heard him say my name, because she has been greeting me by name recently. I don’t usually say much to anyone at the gym, but carol tricked me into revealing my secret identity. her trick: flattery.
I walked by and she said, “so, are you a full time student?”
she thought I was a college kid?!
I was so flustered and flattered that I sort of giggled and probably blushed.
in that moment of pride, I let go of my secret identity and said,
“I’m not a full time student! I’m a full time pastor!”
in some circles, a statement like that will get you laughed at.
in some, you’ll get no reaction at all.
but in a Pentecostal church, a statement like that means that everyone goes overboard with respect and dignity.
I never wanted that- that’s why I was keeping it quiet about my job.
carol said, “oh! where do you minister?”
I told her about the church and I said,
“thanks for thinking I was a student!”
and then she got me again.
she said, “well you’re so young!”
again, I was so flattered that I revealed more-
I said, “well, I’m a youth pastor!”
so I go into another room to work on some weights and then I come back out.
I walked up to carol- who was still on the treadmill, and said, “bye carol!”
she said, “GOODBYE PASTOR! YOU KEEP THOSE KIDS IN LINE! PREACH THE WORD TO THEM! WE’LL ALL BE PRAYING FOR YOU! KEEP THOSE KIDS PURE! WE NEED MORE MEN LIKE YOU!”
all eyes landed on me.
there goes my anonymity.
i couldn't get out of there fast enough.
the application for church:
everyone has a secret identity that they are keeping from everyone else.
maybe its their past, maybe it’s a painful relationship, maybe its an addiction.
no one wants it broadcasted, but many long to reveal it to someone they trust.
how can we get someone to reveal their heart so that we can listen and care?
why not try carol’s way? use an encouraging word.
secret identities are powerless against a kind word or a compliment.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
as a parent, I see a lot of kid on kid violence.
I’m not sure what to do about it.
I see a lot of children basically mugging other children.
this happens just about anywhere that has toys for kids to play with.
sometimes we’re at a train table at a toy store or at barnes and noble, and Janie will be playing with a train, and then another kid will slowly approach jane, look her in the eyes, smile, slowly put their hand on her toy, nod their head and take it right out of her hand!
this makes jane so sad.
sometimes I politely say, “excuse me, I think she was playing with that first…”
sometimes I can’t because of proximity or the situation.
onetime jane was playing on a playground with some kids and a kid went up to jane, grabbed her face, and stole the sunglasses right off of her.
she was stunned. I flew into the playground to get the kid off of her, and to get her sunglasses, but the damage had been done. she was scared and sad.
I could tell story after story.
every time this happens I look around for the kid’s parent.
and every time, the kid’s parent is far away talking on their cell phone or dealing with one of their other kids, or just reading a book, completely checked out.
sometimes I’m tempted to just explode and say, “WHOSE KID IS THIS?! WHY DON’T YOU TEACH THEM SOME MANNERS OR SOMETHING?! IF YOU DON’T EVEN WANT TO PAY ATTENTION TO THEM, WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO HAVE THEM?!”
but I never have. I pray that I never will.
I know that there is a time and a place to involve a kid’s parent, but I haven’t truly been in that situation as of yet.
I saw one parent say to their kid (very loudly) "I'm sorry! I know its not fair when someone takes away your toy! I'm sorry that SOME PARENTS don't teach this to their kids! but you have to just deal with it!"
on friday, jane got a toy stolen again, and I couldn’t tell if I was more outraged or proud. probably more proud than angry. we were at the discovery museum, and jane was digging in some sand with a little scoop. an unattended girl came up and swiped it away from her.
jane kept her cool.
she said, “excuse me, can I have that back please?”
the girl ignored her.
I sort of doubt this girl spoke English- maybe Russian.
jane kept it up.
“excuse me, can I have that back please?” (I was so proud!)
the girl never gave it back. I wasn’t going to steal a toy from this little girl. so jane and I hugged it out and waited for another scoop to be available. I got to tell her how proud I was of her for using her words so kindly. we talked about how its really mean to take another kid's toy.
when a scoop became available, I shouted out (quietly) “jane! don’t set it down! hold it in your hand! if you let it go, someone will take it!”
I got some funny looks from the other parents.
what do you do?
I'd really like to know!
do you teach your kid to be a fighter?
do you teach your kids to grab stuff from other kids’ hands?
do you start fights with other parents?
(I know some have tried to pick a fight with me!)
or do you actually teach your kid to live the way jesus said to, and share?
turn the other cheek? put others first?
when I heard jane asking for her toy politely,
I could tell that Deanna has been coaching her-
and that she was putting this into practice.
I know that is part of the solution.
hopefully, when she is older, those strategies will work more and more.
until then, I’m not getting too far away from her on the playground.
those kids are thugs!
and those parents can be even worse!
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 8:24 AM
last night, at like 3 in the morning, I heard jane in her room saying,
“daddy! I need my daddy!”
“oh wow!” I thought! a personal request for me!
normally jane shouts out stuff like,
“I need a drink of water!” or “I need some help!”
but this time she needed me!
I popped out of bed, and ran to her room.
all along the way I said,
“it ok jane! dad is coming!”
when I got to her room I said,
“dad is here. what do you need?”
“teddy! I need my teddy! where is my teddy?”
she lost her bear in her blankets.
she wasn’t asking for daddy,
she was asking for teddy!
I gave jane her teddy bear and a hug and went back to bed.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
"come close to me."
that’s what joseph says to his brothers in genesis 45.
what a surprise, considering all that they did to him.
the story goes that joseph’s father had12 sons, but joseph was his favorite. the other eleven were jealous, so they attacked him and sold him into slavery, and initiated a series of painful events for joseph. as a slave, he was falsely accused, and put into prison for years.
by the time we get to genesis 45, the tables have turned. at this point joseph is the second most powerful man in the world, and his brothers are in need of food from him. when they were reunited, he recognized them, but they didn’t recognize him. he probably looked more like king tut than their long lost brother.
as the second most powerful man in the world, joseph had the power and the right to let his brothers starve. he could have rejected them, or had them killed on the spot-
if he didn’t love them so much.
when he was reunited with them, he could have looked on them with hate, but instead, his eyes were filled with tears. he could have had them sent away, but instead, he invited them to come near.
he welcomed them saying, “come close to me…I am your brother joseph, the one you sold into egypt!”
there has been a lot of talk over the years suggesting that joseph is some sort of prequel to jesus.
after all, both guys were betrayed and punished for crimes they did not commit. both jesus and joseph emerged from those betrayals in positions of authority; and both chose to forgive.
if joseph is the preview to jesus, then the brothers in the story,
are you and i.
we have betrayed jesus with our crimes against Him-
and now He is in a position where He has all the power and all the authority.
there are times when we are estranged from jesus and then are reunited.
just like joseph, He has the right and power to reject us or ruin us.
just like joseph, he could have us killed, and probably would-
if He didn’t love us so much.
jesus has every right to look at us with hate, but instead, His eyes are filled with tears.
how does jesus react to our betrayals and failures?
what does jesus say to us when are approach Him
after being estranged from Him for so long?
“come close to me…”
don’t run away, draw near.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I just finished Nehemiah last week.
I like Nehemiah.
and as I was reading through the book, and thinking about all of this presidential stuff, I think that Nehemiah would make for a good president. here’s why:
// Nehemiah had experience on the executive level.
Nehemiah was cup-bearer to the king of Persia. he was his closest and most trusted friend. he was near the decision making process and was possibly part of the decision making process. this paid off. Nehemiah planned, organized, delegated and got the job done.
// Nehemiah was great at foreign relations.
he convinced the king of Persia to not only let him go and rebuild the wall of jerusalem, he got him to fund it!
// Nehemiah was a brave leader.
when the opposition came, he kept on going. he encouraged the builders, he refused to be intimidated. and he built the wall without any bloodshed or conflict. in chapter 6, nehemiah’s enemies were threatening to kill him. his friends suggested that he hide from them in the temple. I love his reply (from the new living bible): “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!” … They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me.” he was calm in the face of opposition and pressure.
// Nehemiah was a patriot.
the destruction of the wall of jerusalem caused Nehemiah to weep. he risked everything to rebuild it.
// Nehemiah led by example.
he worked form the early morning to late at night to rebuild the wall. the people that he had delegated jobs to knew that he was working just as hard as they were, and that motivated them. he was one of them. he wasn’t afraid to call his friends on the carpet for their sins.
// Nehemiah defended the oppressed.
in Nehemiah 5, Nehemiah heard the cries of his people of how they had run out of money. He furiously went to the rich people that had loaned them money and called for an end to the high interest that they were charging.
// Nehemiah wasn’t driven by ego.
after the wall was built, Nehemiah stepped back and allowed Ezra to lead the celebrations and religious recommitments of the land. He didn’t need to spotlight. He was driven by the task, not by the credit.
// Nehemiah put national security as a high priority-
there were literal holes in their national security, but under nehemiah's leadership, those holes were filled in and the wall was built up.
// Nehemiah was a passionate and inspiring communicator.
he motivated his people to accomplish the impossible. he laid out a vision and told them how they could be a part of accomplishing it.
// Nehemiah was a man of prayer.
he didn’t make decisions without praying first. in chapter 2 the king of Persia asks how he can help Nehemiah, and before he answers, he prays. he also inserts these little prayers all through out the book. I love them because they are sort of selfish, but hey, if God is listening, why not? after sharing a difficult moment, Nehemiah often prays, “Remember me. O God…” as if to say, “do you see this God? don’t forget to bless me for this!”
obviously God thought that Nehemiah would make a good leader too- that’s why He put him in the position.