Wednesday, December 31, 2008

new year's resolutions

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!

Monday, December 29, 2008

the front row

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

come home

pray for peace

Thursday, December 18, 2008

all i want for christmas is you

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.

christian the lion

is this for real?
i think i might get a lion...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

calvin grew up to work for the big 3

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

do they know its christmastime at all?

oh the 80's...
its still relevant though-
my favorite part starts at 1:22
feed the world.

Monday, December 15, 2008

lectio divina:: luke 2

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:

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,
"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."
-luke 2:8-15

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

church::gym entry 15

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

top ten books of 2008

i just got my new issue of entertainment weekly in the mail today, and in Stephen king’s monthly article he lists his ten favorite books of 2008. it inspired me to share my 10 favorites too; although i doubt that anyone will find this all that interesting, because i have an odd taste in books. anyhow- here they are in no particular order::

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.