Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
last week I spoke at a local Christian school that many of our students attend. I started off with a reader’s theater style Christmas pageant, where students volunteered to be one of the characters in the Christmas story, and read their lines off of the screen. after that, I closed with some thoughts on Christmas.
I started taking volunteers. one girl that goes to our group, Elizabeth, really wanted to play the angel Gabriel. after we chose all of the characters, our play began. there was only one problem- the school that we were at had a messed up projector, and you couldn’t really see the words on the slides. this was especially hard for Elizabeth the angel, because Gabriel has a lot of lines in the Christmas story.
we got to one part, my favorite part, and there was just no way that Elizabeth was going to be able to read the lines of the story off of the slide- it was too messed up.
I said to her, “do you want to just read my script?”
she said, “no- I’ve been memorizing this verse- I can just say it from memory.”
then she turned to her peers in the crowd, held out her arms and said loudly:
“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."
then the crowd of students in the audience played the company of angels.
they read their part off of the screen and loudly shouted:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
and the beauty of the story came alive to me all over again.
God is love.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
we were walking toward the school that we’re serving at when we saw a lady screaming at someone. she was just yelling random phrases at no one. I asked my friends where the school was, and they said that it was right next to her. great. as we got closer, she started yelling at me. she shouted out, “DO YOU KNOW THAT GUY?! DO YOU LIKE HIM?! DO YOU KNOW HIM?!” I got to the door of the school and it was locked. I kind of panicked. she came closer and she had a lighter that she was pointing toward me saying, “DO YOU KNOW HIM?!” I said, “I don’t know who he is!” she yelled out, “YES YOU DO! I’M JANET JACKSON!” finally the door opened and a man inside quickly got us in. he said, “I see you’ve met janet Jackson….”
we told him that we needed to meet a lady named mary; but her office was down the street. when we went out the door again, it started snowing in san Francisco! the man went back inside and called all of the kids out. they were thrilled. but then miss Jackson came back and started yelling at the kids. the adults quickly got the kids back inside…all but one. one kid quickly poked his head out of the door and shouted out, “what-you-doing’-out-of-JAIL-girl?!” I laughed so hard I almost fell over.
Friday, December 4, 2009
here is my kid doing the choreography to a show on tv called fresh beat band. she matches them pretty well. when she gets on the ground she's breakdancing.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 9:31 AM
Monday, November 23, 2009
this morning, I spoke at our school's chapel, just like I do eavery monday. I spoke from the Christmas series that I did last yaer for the youth group- its a series calll AMONG US; where I start with the cross, and work backwards through jesus' life to His birth at Christmas. its an idea that I swiped from erwin mcmanus.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
its 6:30am, I just finished my Thursday morning prayer meeting, and I wanted to share a story before I forgot it.
the guys I pray with on Thursdays lead a small group of middle school boys with special needs. by the time these guys got to their small group, a lot had already happened that night. there was a lot of emotion in the air. we had just played a long, crazy game, and these boys did a great job, but ended coming in third place. also, earlier in the night, one of the boys from this group was in tears over something that happened while he was playing a videogame in our game room. when this small group started after the group game, another boy, I’ll call him Joey had his back turned to his small group and had his face in a chair. when the leaders of the small group asked him what was wrong, he too was upset over coming in third place in the night’s game. another boy was being silly as usually and was sitting upside down in his chair. honestly, I don’t know how these guys do it, but they always manage to have incredible small group meetings with these boys; and they always show an amazing level of patience and grace. these guys are heroes.
the night’s topic was evangelism. one of the leaders mentioned that a great way to tell someone about jesus is to just tell them your story of what Jesus has done in your life. the boys loved the idea and began to take turns telling their story. the first boys that went was the boy I mentioned earlier, Joey. he told the boys that he prayed to receive Christ in his bedroom, the day that he had been diagnosed with autism. he shared that he felt helpless and cried out to God, and God met him there, and that he had been following Christ ever since. this silly, emotional group of boys were silent and locked onto this boy as he wept and shared how good God had been to him and how his diagnosis led him to Christ. the men who were leading the small group shared that they knew that they were in God’s presence as Joey shared.
they shared with me how they were reminded of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12, “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
my friend Joey is strong; and God's power flowed through his weakness and his story on Tuesday night. God's grace is enough for Joey; its enough for me, and enough for you.
there are some other details to the story, and I guess I could write some more, but the words of Scripture are so profound in this moment, that its better that I just let them speak:
“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God is love.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Like I just said, I just finished the gospel of john. Towards the end is the familiar confrontation between Jesus and Pilate. The Jews bring Jesus to Pilate and want Pilate to crucify Him. The only problem is that Pilate doesn’t want to. He questions Jesus and doesn’t see anything that Jesus has done that is worthy of crucifixion. Pilate passes Jesus off to hero, but eventually it’s just Jesus and Pilate again. What is he supposed to do? He doesn’t want to execute this guy but there is a rabid crowd outside that wants Him dead. Even piate’s wife had a dream the night before and warned him to leave Jesus alone. There is this interesting part at the end of john where Pilate has Jesus flogged and has him handed back to the Jewish leaders. He says, “Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”
The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it was given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
So at this point, Pilate is wondering if this guy might really BE the son of God-
But then the Jewish leaders kick their game up a notch. They say: “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”
So in a sense, they say, “if you let Jesus go, this will get back to your boss and you will be fired.”
What do you do?
We all know the story- Pilate released Barabbas and had Jesus crucified.
I always feel sorry for Pilate. He seems to be put in a no-win situation.
As I was thinking about this today, it dawned on me that I feel sorry for him because I often feel the same way as a youth pastor.
There are things that God wants me to do- but they aren’t popular.
God wants students to connect in groups, to study the Bible, to say no to sin, to be held accountable, to pray and to serve the poor. those things don't pack the house out like games and pizza.
I want to do those things because I know that those things are right, but there is this sense in me that there is this rabid crowd out there that doesn’t want what’s right. They just want games and candy and free time. They just want to flirt or break things and end the serious stuff as early as possible. And there is this sense that if I don’t keep this rabid crowd happy that it will get back to my bosses and I’ll be fired.
and its not just with students- with anyone- there are moments where you think to yourself, "I should say something" or "I should do something." but you don't for fear that this person will not like you ro respect you or stop being your friend; so instead of doing what's right, we just cave in, to keep everyone happy.
Now- none of those things are reality, its all just in my head. Just like Pilate, I need to do what I know is right, whether it’s popular or not.
We all do.
God is love.
I just finished reading through the gospels and specifically, the gospel of john. there is a mysterious unnamed disciple in john’s gospel named “the disciple jesus loved.” this disciple is mentioned 5 times in john’s gospel. this disciple reclined next to jesus at the last supper. this disciple was put in charge of taking care of jesus’ mother, mary. this disciple was one of the first to be told that jesus had risen from the dead, and he was the first of the disciples to recognize jesus after He had risen from the dead. and this disciple was the one that jesus was speaking of when He said that He would not be martyred.
it doesn’t take long to figure out that “the disciple that jesus loved” in the gospel of john, is john himself. when john wrote this gospel this is how he referred to himself; but I think it was more than that- I think it is how he saw himself. john had a constant sense- even into his old age (because the gospel of john was written late in his life) that he was the recipient off Christ’s love. “the disciple whom jesus loved” wasn’t a nickname for john, it was his identity. it was who he was; and how he saw himself.
what if we all saw ourselves that way? wouldn’t that make life easier and less stressful? what if we all were able to say, in our most difficult moments, “I am loved by Christ, right now. Right now He loves me and is directing His love toward me. I am the disciple whom jesus loves.” maybe that would help us to keep our cool and to make better decisions under fire. maybe that would help us to be gracious even when we are under pressure. maybe that’s what helped john stand up to the roman empire and refuse to stop speaking of Christ. maybe that’s why they exiled him instead of beheading him- because they could tell just by being with him that he was loved by Christ. understanding that you are loved by christ changes everything.
when you are loved by jesus, that is enough. you don't need to put on a song and dance to get others to love you. you are already loved; perfectly and infinitely. you don't need to be afraid, because you are loved- and just as the scriptures say, "perfect love drives out fear." love changes everything.
you are loved by God. He loved you so much that He gave His life for you on the cross. the bible asks the question, “if God did not spare His Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” jesus calls you friend. you are the disciple jesus loves.
God is love.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
its been a long time sisnce my last blog. I've been crazy-busy I guess. either that, or just not really inspired by much; either that, or just too distracred to take the time to put inspirational thoughts into the computer.
I still have not eaten fries in 2009! although, I have enjoyed some tater tots, onion rings, and some hashbrowns. but do those even count as fries? I'm on pace to get my 250 workouts before the year is up too.
my car broke AGAIN last night- there goes another $500.
work is a blast- the middle school volunteers are amazing and so are the students. we painted the youth room! it looks awesome- kind of like the cover of this book:
jane reminds me every day that she is less than a month from turning FIVE.
here is another one of her funny stories with some serious sound effects at the end:
God is love.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 7:50 PM
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
there is a story in luke 7 that is fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time. in verse 36 jesus is having dinner with a Pharisee named Simon; and this is fascinating in itself. 2 men who are experts in the bible- both had it memorized and they are sitting down for a meal. what were they talking about? what did they say? were they debating a particular passage? wouldn’t that be amazing to sit in on that meal?
an “immoral woman” came over and started pouring perfume on jesus, and she was crying, and she was wiping the dust off of his feet with her tears and her hair- which makes for an awkward moment for Simon the Pharisee. I think we have all been in situations like this: we really want to talk to someone important, and we want them to be impressed with us and our knowledge, but they are distracted with something else. (maybe that’s just me.)
Simon is offended not only by the distraction, but by WHO is doing the distracting. after all, Simon is a Pharisee. he is perfect when it comes to obeying the Bible. and he deserves to have some time with the messiah- but this lady? she is far from perfect. in Simon’s mind, she is gross. so he says, “ff this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. she’s a sinner!”
I love jesus’ response. verse 40: ““Simon, I have something to say to you.”
how cool would that be? not only having dinner with jesus, and talking about the bible with jesus, but now he has something to say to YOU! what would he say? would he congratulate him on a good outburst? give him a blessing?
he says, “a man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. but neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
is this a trick question? a riddle?
Simon says, ““I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
then Jesus says, “that’s right.” then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “look at this woman kneeling here. when I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. you didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. you neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love.
but a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
so jesus basically says, “she was forgiven a lot, so she loves me a lot, and you have been forgiven a little so you only love me a little.” but is he really saying that?
when you think about it, the only real difference between the woman and simon, in terms of forgiveness is that the woman knows that she has been forgiven much. Simon only thinks he has been forgiven for just a little, but in reality, his sins are just as bad as hers, because sins are sins- and they both cost Jesus the cross.
so the woman loves jesus much, because she recognizes that she has been forgiven much- and simon loves jesus just a little because he is under the impression that he only sinned a little.
that’s what makes this story heartbreaking for me. because as I put myself in the story- I’m simon. I’m cool. I want to chat with jesus, but I’m not weeping at his feet. there was a time when I was weeping at his feet, but as time goes on, I’m more cool than emotional. and maybe the issue isn’t necessarily that I’ve got it all together, maybe the issue is that I have forgotten just how much He has forgiven me.
they say that you shouldn’t dwell on the past- and that’s true. but you shouldn’t go and forget about it all together either. when we remember just how much Jesus has rescued us from and just how filthy we are without him, it will put us on our knees and in tears.
so maybe spiritual passion and remembering your testimony are linked together. and maybe all of us (meaning the 3 people that read my blog) should take the time to remember that no matter how long we have been saved, or how much we have grown, our sins still cost Christ the cross-
and that we have been shown
God is love.
Monday, September 28, 2009
one of the things that’s been unique about me as a youth pastor is the amount of hand-written mail that I send out to students and adults. when the group was much smaller (and I had more time) I used to send a card to every student, every week. now its an all day event just to write a note to each staff person. I always try to write a thank you to every student that visits for the first time. I also like to include a little gift in each envelope; its usually a sticker of our ministry’s logo. students love it, parents love it, and it really helps me to connect names and faces.
last sunday, I was upfront, telling students to fill out their welcome cards and I said, “if this is your first time, make sure to clearly write down your address and I’ll send you a note with some stickers.” a voice rang out: “I want some stickers!”
“no.” I said. “you have to come for the first time to get stickers!”
another voice rang out: “you sent me stickers when my dog died!”
I said, “yeah- how many of you have ever received stickers in the mail from me?”
about a quarter of the room raised their hands.
the other three quarters were furious.
I said, “ok. if you write your address clearly, and you write ‘send me stickers’ on your card, I’ll send you some stickers.”
paco laughed at me and told me that I was going to have to send out 100 cards.
it was only 33.
33 students asked me to write them a letter and give them a sticker.
I knew it was going to take awhile, so I got on it right away.
back when I would send everyone a card, I couldn’t always think of something to say, so I would just personalize Ephesians 2:10 with a student’s name. and I did that today, 33 times.
“Kayla is God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for her to do.”
“Austin is God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for him to do.”
“Sarah is God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for her to do.”
“Jonathan is God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for him to do.”
as I wrote that phrase over and over, it dawned on me how true that statement is; and how God has an amazing dream for every student; and that He has been planning good works for them since before they were born.
and it reminded me of how important parents, and leaders, and ministers are in shepherding students and helping them to uncover the gifts that God has given them; and to help them to say no to the things that would derail His dreams; and to inspire them to keep going, even when its difficult.
so today, I intended to encourage others, but it was me who walked away inspired.
do someone a favor today: write them a handwritten note or card;
I bet you that they’ll keep it for a lot longer than it takes you to write it and send it.
God is love.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
one time, when I was an intern in modesto, I went to a U2 show in Oakland. I went to the merchandise counter, and I saw a really cool shirt with U2’s guitarist The Edge standing with one foot in the air. I looked all over for a photo of it, but I couldn’t find it. he had his hands in the air and looked like he was doing kind of a funny monster walk. I loved the shirt, so I bought it.
but, the funny, monster-pose-picture wasn’t on the front of the shirt, it was on the back!
on the front of the shirt was bono kneeling and smoking!
so I had this shirt that I really liked, but felt that it was somewhat inappropriate.
so I never really wore it.
except for one night. I made a quick run to wal-mart. and wouldn’t you know, I ran into the senior pastor of my church!
we chatted for a few minutes, and the whole time, I kind of crossed my arms over bono’s face.
we said goodbye and walked away, and then my pastor stopped and said,
“oh rob! one more thing!”
“what does he want to tell me,” I wondered; “does he want my advice for an upcoming sermon? does he want to compliment me on a job well done?”
he smiled and said, “nice shirt;” then turned and walked away.
ugh! caught wearing a smoking shirt at walmart!
no wonder they didn’t hire me.
God is love.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 10:04 AM
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I was reading Mark 5 this morning and I discovered something new.
jesus goes into jairus’ house to heal his daughter.
when jesus finds the girl, she is already dead.
verse 41 says, “He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.”
for some reason, Mark throws her age in there, which I find fascinating.
the girl is 12. she is a middle schooler.
when jesus speaker to her, He calls her, “little girl.”
even jairus, her father, refers to her as “my little daughter.”
at 12 years old, she’s not that little! she’s probably kind of tall.
but jesus calls her little girl. when He looks at her, she is innocent and precious.
we don’t refer to 12 year olds as little girl anymore.
now they’re in make-up, and dyed hair and tight clothes-
they’re more like young ladies than little girls.
but what if the world saw 12 year olds as little girls?
they might be spared some of the mess that they have to deal with.
what if middle school ladies saw themselves as little girls?
they might avoid the drama and pain of the middle school years.
and they might slow down their mad rush into adulthood.
when jesus looks at a junior high girl, she isn’t a small woman;
she is a little girl.
she is innocent, pure, precious- and she should be looked after and protected!
she ought to be treated gently and with care.
and the rest of the world should follow His example.
God is love.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
back when I was blogging on myspace, I wrote blogs on how my college students are like junior highers, and how the seniors group at church are like junior highers, but lately, I’ve been noticing just how much I’m like a junior higher-
1. I’m insecure.
I find myself wanting other people’s attention. I find myself trying to impress others or wishing that they will ask me for my opinion, or hoping that they will be impressed with me. and just like a junior higher, I need to remember that God loves me perfectly and accepts me right now. I need to remind myself that the God of the universe gives me His undivided attention whenever I look for Him, and that if I’m alright with Him, I don’t need anyone else’s attention or approval.
2. I’m emotional.
I shed my share of tears. I get too angry over things that aren’t worth it. My day can go from awesome to horrible in an instant. and just like a junior higher, I need to be patient, and slow to anger; I need to bring my heartbreaks to God, and allow Him to heal my heart.
3. I’m changing.
my friends in middle school are going through so much change, and it wreaks havoc on them. I’m not much different. my daughter is moving from baby to kindergartner, and I can stop it. my job is evolving. my parents are getting older; I’M GETTING OLDER. just like a junior higher, change bothers me. it makes me worry about the future. and just like a junior higher, when everything is changing, I need to cling to He who doesn’t change.
I’m like a junior higher;
because sometimes my heart is fragile.
and sometimes I make decisions that I haven’t really thought through.
and sometimes I’m just overwhelmed by all of the pressure and stress that are in front of me.
and just like a junior higher, I’m loved. I am loved by God, my family and friends.
I need a place to share my heart.
and I need friends that will pray for me.
I need people that can lead me and help me make wise decisions.
and sometimes I just need to be reminded that I’m ok and that if I stay close to God and let Him direct my path, I’m going to make it.
sometimes I need to be reminded that tough times don’t last forever, and this too shall pass.
I’m like a junior higher,
because I have potential.
and God has a dream for my life.
and I still think that candy, laughter, and time with my friends are the greatest things in the world.
so yeah, I’m a lot like a junior higher; maybe that’s why God put me with them and them with me. and maybe that’s why I enjoy them so much.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 10:20 PM
Thursday, September 10, 2009
when I was in high school, maybe junior year, my pastor marvin invited me to be a part of a class that he was teaching. the class was for his “star-kids” and he was teaching them how to prepare and deliver a sermon. the class didn’t last long, because the “star-kids” didn’t take it very seriously, and he didn’t seem to have the time for it; but I found it fascinating while it lasted.
I really only remember preparing 2 sermons- our first one was to be on mark 1. we had to read the passage, use any study materials that we could find, and talk on the section that we found to be the most meaningful. there was about 8 boys in the class, and they all picked different parts of the chapter. I chose the section in Mark 1:40-45, where jesus heals a man with leprosy; and it became my very first sermon. I still remember it well-
I talked about the parallels between sin and leprosy. I didn’t know much about the disease (I still am not an expert,) but I knew enough. I made the following points.
:: sin is like leprosy because it destroys. leprosy eats away at flesh, but sin eats away at our soul.
:: sin is like leprosy because it isolates. lepers were isolated in leper colonies and were not to be touched because leprosy was thought to be highly contagious. sin isolates too. it makes us hide. it makes us numb; it makes us avoid community and contact with others.
:: sin is like leprosy because it warps. leprosy left a person disfigured and gross, and sin makes our hearts disfigured, warped and perverted.
:: sin is like leprosy, because there is no cure. you can’t make it go away. once you have it, you have it until it completely destroys you.
and then I talked about the leper himself. he lived in isolation. he was deteriorating right in front of everyone’s eyes. he had not been touched by another human being in a long, long time. the leper says something to jesus that I still find heartbreaking. in verse 40 he gets on his knees and says to jesus, “if you are willing, you can make me clean."
in a sense he says, “jesus, I can see why You wouldn’t want to touch me. I can understand why You would want to avoid me. but I believe that if you would just touch me, I would be made whole again.”
the reason that I chose this section, and why I found this so heartbreaking is that I was a brand new Christian at the time; and Jesus had just rescued me from a condition that was eating away at my soul, and I was the leper. I could relate. I said the same thing to Jesus, just months earlier. just like the leper, I said, in a sense, “jesus, I can understand why You wouldn’t want to be near me. I know I'm gross. but I believe that if you would come near me, that I would be healed and whole again.”
jesus’ response to the man still brings tears to my eyes. it says, “filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "be clean!" immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.” jesus was willing to touch a leper when no one else would; and jesus was willing to come near me- even though both the leper and I were gross and unworthy.
and that led me to my last point:
:: sin is like leprosy- because the only cure for the both of them is jesus.
I would love to say that my message sparked revival through the preaching class, but honestly, "the star-kids" in the class giggled and passed notes through the whole thing. maybe God was secretly preparing me to work with junior highers.
my pastor did ask me to give my message to our youth group- and they didn’t seem all that impressed either;
but I was impressed.
not with myself, but with the compassion and grace and love of jesus.
so whenever I start to think I’m something special, I remember that leper, and that 17 year old kid from modesto- both who were healed by a touch from the Messiah.
God is love.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
today was my first day back at work after over seven weeks of being out of the office. I barely slept last night. my mind was spinning and rehearsing how the morning might go. when I got into my car I thought to myself, “I’m feeling so happy right now- and hyper!” I was so excited to be back with the middle school ministry staff and students. Over the last few weeks, I have learned and re-learned a few things about myself:
1. I love my family.
Deanna and I celebrated 13 years of marriage over my break. we started dating when we were 17- and we have now been together for over half of our lives. I can’t imagine life any other way.
jane is growing up so fast. she is getting so tall and surprises me every day with her growing vocabulary. she always knows how to get a laugh out of me. it was so great to get some extended time with Deanna and jane.
2. I love my job.
middle school students are the coolest people in the world. they aren’t too cool to be around adults, and they are so open to learning what the bible says. they were all so gracious in welcoming me back this morning. this morning I was walking through the halls of church and greeting many friends that I haven’t seen in weeks and helping guest find their way- and all along, I could hear the worship band sining, “better is one day in your house than thousands elsewhere…” that line had never sounded truer than in that moment.
3. I’m called to work with middle schoolers.
this was reaffirmed in me at camp. and my passion for working with these students and their families has never been stronger. I hope that I can continue to work with middle schoolers for years and years to come.
4. I’m kind of a work-a-holic.
I spent the first 2 weeks of my break writing future messages. if I wasn’t with jane, I was writing or studying. I also attended several meetings, answered every e-mail and voice-mail. I could have done a lot better at resting, and I think that everyone who knows me knew that I would have a hard time slowing down.
5. solitude replenishes my soul.
I knew this already, but I was reminded of this over my break. even though I cherish times with my family and friends, I don’t mind being by myself. its good for me every now and then to spend a day or so in silence and solitude. I must have logged 50 miles in solo-walks over my break.
6. I like books, but only to a point.
going into my break, I had a stack of books that I wanted to read, and I read them all. when I ran out, I got some more. when I ran out of those, I went to barnes and noble and looked through every single aisle looking for just one book that looked like a good read. I couldn’t find a single one. my eyes were so tired from reading, and the thought of reading an entire book made me feel ill. so I picked up a copy of rolling stone magazine and have been thumbing through it for the last week or so.
7. I live in the best part of the world.
I would have traveled but why? is there better weather somewhere else? is there more for kids in another part of the state? san jose has the best of everything!
the fall is here- and it will be a busy one; but I’m ready for it. thanks again to the (678) staff and paco for not just holding things together, but advancing and growing the ministry in my absence. and thanks to venture for the time off. hopefully I can stick around for another 4 years to enjoy this again!
God is love.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 8:34 PM
Friday, August 28, 2009
I heard a version of this message while in preaching class in seminary. I have been thinking about it ever since. its somewhat long, but I hope you are blessed by it.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 9:30 PM
Monday, August 17, 2009
i went to a new gym tonight.
the church//gym just wasn’t working for me. its closed A LOT. (wednesday nights, saturday nights, all day sunday plus every day between 12 and 3). and its pretty far away.
so I signed up at a new gym today.
its closer. and its open all the time, and its not very expensive.
but it is different.
when i walked in tonight, I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know where the locker room was, and I didn’t know how to use the machines. and it was really crowded. the church//gym had a strict dress code. my new gym doesn’t. as I was exercising, I started thinking about how everything was different- and once again, I was reminded of conversations I’ve had at church.
our church is on the bigger side. people often check it out when their church isn’t working for them anymore. and they often point out all that’s different. they tell me that the music is too loud, or that the crowd is unfriendly, or that its too crowded. I've been told that the church is too big, and that the church is too small; that the music is too new, and that its not new enough. I've been told that the middle school ministry is too wild, and that its not wild enough. guests have noticed that we do communion differently or prayer time differently, or that there isn’t a cross where there should be one. and they can forget that even though the music is different, it’s the same Lord that we sing to. even though the message is different, it’s the same scripture that inspires it; and even though the Lord’s supper is different, it’s the same cross that we celebrate.
I was thinking about that as I exercised tonight. even though my new gym is more crowded, the weights are still heavy. the machines still make me sweat, and my iPod plays the same songs in my ears while I work out. there are actually a lot of things that are different that I’m looking forward to exploring: like new classes and routines. at my old gym, I know everyone; at my new gym, I know no one. but that’s ok. I’ll make new friends, I’m sure. different and new isn’t bad. its just different and new.
I don’t know if you will ever have the need or the desire to investigate a new church; but if you do, focus on what you know, and why you’re there; everything else will come in time. different and new isn’t bad. its just different and new.
Friday, August 14, 2009
i was feeling like my arms were a little flabby, so I went to the gym and worked my biceps, triceps, and shoulders really hard. i had a feeling that i would be sore the next day, but it wasn’t too bad. then i went to my aerobics class last night, and Lloyd, the instructor had us work arms, shoulders, and chest- a lot. like, so much that i was somewhat offended.
this morning i was seriously sore. like, so sore that i couldn’t really move my arms at all. so, i’ve been sort of walking around my house like a whimpering t-rex. my little girl took full advantage of this weakened state. she found it funny to ram into my arms and watch me wince and groan. i would have chased her and tickled her, if i could. i knew that i was in bad shape when we had to cancel daddy-daughter-day because i could not physically lift my child.
so then I got this tiger-balm stuff for sore muscles that is supposed to make them feel better. and it does, but it stinks super bad. so my arms feel better, but my wife is saying that the smell is making her eyes water. my family makes me laugh.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 8:32 PM
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I read the new book about in-n-out burger last week. as I read it, I discovered that you can learn a lot about life and faith from in-n-out::
lesson 1: more is not always more.
in-n-out has not added much to their menu since its inception as a company. they do not serve kids meals, chicken sandwiches, burritos, or breakfast; even though all of their competitors do. they serve burgers, fries, drinks and shakes. that’s it. they want to focus on one thing and do it well. and the funny thing is, they are still always packed.
life-lesson: you don’t have to be like everyone else to be successful. when mcdonald’s sold happy meals, every other fast food chain sold them too so that they could keep up. but in-n-out doesn’t sell them, yet manages to keep up. their individual stores outsell any other chain’s individual stores. you don’t have to do what everyone else does to be cool or successful. just be the best you that you can be.
lesson 2: contentment isn't a dirty word.
all of the other fast food chains have gone national and then global. in-n-out stayed in southern california for decades. then they ventured into northern california, and now they have a handful of stores in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. they could have gone national, but they have chosen not to. they feel that the quality will diminish if they grow too fast. the lines at in-n-out are always long; but they have never sold out. they have stayed a family owned business, even when venture capitalists have offered millions to buy it. they have stuck to their core values of quality, cleanliness and service, even though they could pull in more money by cutting corners.
life-lesson: everything in our culture tells us that more money is always better than the amount of money that you currently have. but in-n-out’s story seems to tell us that they are content with the money that they currently are making, and that outrageous growth may equal more money, but not necessarily a better quality of food (or life for that matter).
lesson 3: take care of people.
in-n-out has always paid their employees well. much better, in fact, than their competitors. they refer to them as associates, not employees. they recognize them publicly, and in tur, their employees are fiercly loyal.
life-lesson: it doesn’t take much to thank the people in your life. it doesn’t take much to recognize a job well done and to be kind to those that have helped you. when you do this, you may see that people become fiercely loyal to you.
lesson 4: you can go public without being weird.
in-n-out has been run by only a handful of people. their religious zeal has been all over the scale from irreligious, to charismatic, and everything in between. the company has quietly taken a stand for its faith by putting bible references under its cups. this has bothered some and has encouraged some, and they continue to do this. the place continues to be packed, even though they are openly Christian.
life-lesson: as Christians, we can take a stand for our faith and be openly for Christ without being rude, angry, or just hard to be around. in-n-out proudly displays their verses while producing a quality product. as believers. we can proudly talk about the hope that we have in Christ and still be a trusted friend to those who would disagree with us.
life-lesson 5: focus on quality.
in-n-out are fanatics about quality. they started raising their own cows so that they could control the quality of the meat they serve. they fanatically train their associates. they want their stores to be spotless, and they want you to have the same burger in san jose that you do in Anaheim. this means they they work hard. they work hard at cleaning, training, and preparing. they don’t cut corners. they don’t use frozen meat or frozen fries. for them, their success comes from hard work and quality.
life-lesson: I see a lot of people who expect to become successful with minimal effort. they want to get A’s and not do their homework and they want to get a raise for the same level of execution. in-n-out’s story tells us that life doesn’t work that way. if you want to be successful, give it your very best, all the time. this is one of the things that I love about the biblical stories of Daniel, joseph, and Nehemiah; all of these guys were promoted by God’s grace, but also after being a hard worker. Colossians 3 tells us, “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.”
lesson 6: God gives grace to the humble.
dave Thomas of wendy’s starred in all of his own commercials. colonel sanders’ face is on every bucket of chicken served at KFC. carl karcher’s portrait is in every carl’s jr. but who is the founder of in-n-out? who owns it? don’t know? that’s the way they like it. they don’t want to be known for a personality or even a character like Ronald mcdonald, they want to be known for hamburgers. as a result, you won’t see a lot of books or articles about the company, they intentionally keep a low profile. they have let their customers to most of their advertising for them.
life-lesson: its not about you. its not about your fame, or your credit. as believers, we know that life is more about bringing fame to God than fame to ourselves. Ronald Reagan once said, “there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”
lesson 7: follow your moral compass.
for decades, people have been giving in-n-out burger unsolicited advice. well meaning experts have told them to cut wages, to go national, and to sell the company for a big payout. they have told them to use frozen products and to add menu items. each time the company considers these ideas and then chooses to do what they know is right. they choose to do what is right for them, their associates, and their customers.
life-lesson: each of us are presented with options from so-called experts all of the time. we are told to stand up for our rights, to get what’s ours and to maximize our own profits. students are told that little compromises can add up to big results on the social scale. we may even consider compromising to get someone’s attention. our moral compass will not make us rich overnight. it won’t score us instant results; but if we follow it, we will have character, and that always gives us a result that we can be proud of in the end. be careful who you listen to, and stick to your guns.
lesson 8: quality = profits.
the people that know in-n-out burger, love in-n-out burgers. they love the flavor. they love the atmosphere. they love the service. their customers do most of their advertising for them.
lesson: what if the same could be said of your or me? that people would love to be around us because the way we care, and listen, and serve and encourage? maybe our churches would be packed just like in-n-out burger.
God is love.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 3:26 PM
i have been on extended leave since july 19. extended leave is kind of like a sabbatical; and i have another three weeks left. its been great so far. here are some of the highlights:
we have visited::
:: Gilroy gardens:
:: great America
:: the boardwalk:
:: sky high sports:
:: the santa clara county fair:
:: and lots and lots of parks, toy stores and fast food places.
we have also shared many, many outdoor meals together,
and jane and I have discovered a new fun thing to do:
hunt for garage sales!
I have personally gone on several long walks:
read some great books,
visited the flea market (several times,)
caught up with many of my good friends,
and have actually finished some big projects for the fall; including a sermon series on the book of Daniel, the book of esther, and on romans 12, for the middle school ministry at church.
its like being in college all over again. i wake up late, stay up late, and act spontaneously during the day. what am I doing tomorrow? or next week? I haven’t thought that far yet, but whatever we do, we’re going to have a great time together.
big thanks go out to venture for the time off, and paco and the team for covering middle school ministry while I’m out!
God is love.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 8:21 AM