Tuesday, August 31, 2010

homemade toys:: schoolhouse

now that jane is a schoolgirl, she is very interested in her little dolls going to school. so we made a little schoolhouse playset!

the floor is a piece of foam-core that you can get from an art store, with some wood-grain contact paper on top. the walls are also foam-core, with some digital cuts and pastes that I pullled off the web. i used a few photoshop tricks to put the images on the walls seamlessly, and I created the images in publisher. I just printed them out and glued them to the foam-core. all of the accessories are bits and pieces that jane already had. in this scene, the students are playing a get-to-know-you-game with their teacher.

I had lots of fun dreaming this up and making it- and when jane saw it, she flipped. now I'm thinking up other kids of rooms that I could make!

being a dad is fun.

profiles in attitude: the israelites in the book of numbers

I just started my sermon series on attitude at the Los Gatos Christian chapel yesterday. it made me think of how far I need to go on my attitude, and how much I need to work on my attitude each day. this morning, I was reading in the book of numbers and I saw that the Israelites put on a clinic of how to have a bad attitude- and God also reveals how He feels about our bad attitudes.
:: numbers 11:1 says, “now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.”

bottom line: complaining makes God angry. because complaining is essentially telling someone else, “what you have given me isn’t good enough.”

:: in numbers 11:4 it says, “the rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat!”

bottom line: being discontent with what you have infuriates God. God had given them all the food they could want- they just wanted options. so God gave them so much quail-meat to eat that they barfed it out their noses.

:: in numbers 11:21 God tells Moses that He is going to feed the Israelites enough meat to fill them up for a month. moses thinks God is exaggerating and reminds God that there are 600 thousand Israelite men and that’s a lot of meat. God’s response to moses’ lack of faith is, “Is the LORD's arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you."

bottom line: an unbelieving attitude doesn’t score points with God either.

:: in numbers 12, moses’ sister Miriam, and his brother aaron start talking trash about Moses’ Cushite (African) wife. they start spreading the word that they might be better to lead israel than moses. God calls Moses, Aaron and Miriam to the tent of meeting and says, “ When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions…but this is not true of my servant Moses; …with him I speak face to face, …why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"
Miriam got leprosy for spreading her criticism and gossip.

bottom line- the attitude of our words matter to God- and He can’t stand the criticism and the gossip. we ought to think twice before we criticize someone that God has placed in leadership.

:: in numbers 13, a group of spies are gathered to scope out the promised land to see what its like before the Israelites enter. 2 of them come back thrilled at the opportunities- 10 came back complaining that it would be too hard to conquer and that they should just turn back. their negative attitude spread throughout the community and the people started to freak out.

bottom line: a negative attitude spreads and it escalates- so if you have one, keep it to yourself.

:: in response to everyone’s bad attitude, God tells the one who are afraid that they will never enter the promised land, and that Israel will wander the desert until the last one is dead.

bottom line: a negative attitude takes away your opportunities and keeps you from the great things that God has for you.

:: the two spies that had a great attitude got to go to the promised land- I love what God says about the spy named caleb in Numbers 14:24 “but because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”

bottom line: an awesome attitude brings opportunities from God.

and the ultimate bottom line is that: my attitude is a spiritual issue.
its really not reflective of how I feel about my environment or my relationships or my status, its about my connection to God. again, God says of caleb: “but because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”

a great attitude comes from following God wholeheartedly;
and when I stop following God with everything,
the way I see life
and people
begins to warp;
and my attitude turns sour.

so how has your attitude been?
has it been limiting you?
or is it creating opportunities for you?

probably the better question is, how closely are you following God?

is attitude everything?
pretty much.

God is love.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

joseph's attitude, part 2

I've been thinking and writing about attitudes for awhile now; I have recently finished a speaking series on attitude that will launch this fall called sabotage. the idea is that a bad attitude will sabotage your life, and it can only be defeated with the secret weapon of a great attitude. thoughout the series, I will look at several saboteurs and illustrate how they damage our lives and our futures, I'll also spell out the secret weapons that neutralize these saboteurs.

I'm also working on a series on the life of joseph; and in preparing for this, i've been reading chuck swindoll's book on his life. chuck spend a lot of time on joseph's attitude. a few months ago I wrote about joseph's attitude and felt that I covered the subject pretty well. chuck one-upped me and I'll share his thoughts-

:: chuck spends a lot of time of jacob's bad attitude. after joseph is gone, he is hanging on to benjamin for dear life. when the brothers tell him that they have to take benjamin to egypt, jacob freaks out. chuck notes that this guy is a partiarch! he has wrestled with angels and has received the promises of God. he should have the best attitude of them all, and he should be strengthening their faith; but instead, everyone has to strengthen his.

:: when joseph was in the dungeon, after being sent there by potiphar, he meets pharoah's cupbearer and baker. joseph has every right to a bad attitude in this situation. he has been sold into slavery, and then wrongfully accused of attacking mrs. potiphar, and then locked into a dungeon; but joseph apparently had a great attitude in the dungeon. he was put in charge of the entire prison, and when he sees pharoah's two officials he asks them, "why are your faces so sad today?" personally, I would answer, "oh, I don't know... maybe its because I'M IN A DUNGEON?!" you need to have a great attitude to get your focus off of yourself and onto others. you need to have a great attitude to encourage others. and you need a great attitude to serve others, which is exactly what he did to the cupbearer and baker. swindoll points out that if he were joseph, he wouldn't want anything to do with dreams ever again, but joseph listens to their dreams and interprets them. that's a great attitude.

:: at the end of the book, swindoll says, "greatness is revealed mainly in our attitudes." he says that "it takes God to make a heart right. when I have a bad attitude, I look at life humanly. when I have a great attitude, I look at life divinely." he says that joseph was great, "mainly because of his attitude." he ends his chapter on attitude saying, "walk by faith, trusting God to renew your attitude." it takes faith to have a great attitude- faith that God is in control of my situation and that He has good in mind for me.

so I ask you the same things I'll ask my students and myself: how is your attitude? is it sabotaging your relationships, your opportunities and your future? or is your attitude revealing greatness? a great attitude comes from God. it is the fruit of His spirit in our lives. so plant yourself in Him and and let your sparkle shine.

God is love.


here is an ideas that I have been thinking about for a long time- I think I just got some words that express what I’m thinking. let’s see if it makes sense-

first of all, jane loves rainbows. she draws them often, and she always has the colors in the correct “roy g biv” order. she prefers that her clothes have rainbows on them. so I got the idea to pick her up a prism so that she can make her own rainbows at home. we both discovered that rainbows are kind of hard to make! they only work with sunlight; and the beam has to be very strong- like at sunrise or sunset. and the light has to hit the prism at just the right angle. we have spent a long time in front of windows with our prism, raising it, lowering it, twisting it, turning it, until that perfect position is found and colors shoot out on the wall or on the floor. jane thinks its super-cool, and to be honest, so do I.

I’ve been thinking about this with my speaking to middle schoolers. I watch a lot of speakers speak to middle schoolers; some speakers really connect with students, and some just don’t. sometimes I watch a speaker, and its like their words are shooting a beam directly at the prism of these young hearts and minds, and there are colors shooting off everywhere, and there is wonder in their eyes. other speakers preach their guts out, and have lots of insightful illustrations and speaking tricks, but for some reason, their words are just a little off. they maybe hitting the students every now and then, but the signal is weak, and the students are distracted. its like the light is hitting the prism at just a few degrees off; and some colors are coming out, but the rainbow isn’t quite there.

I would love to say that my messages fire off rainbows every time. there have definitely been times when I could just feel that my words were in the zone and I had the crowd in the palm of my hand and there were those moments when “you could have heard a pin drop.” there have been times when I have had so much joy and fun with my message, and I could tell that the students had just as much fun participating with me in that. and then there have been many more times when I ask myself, “should I really be doing this for a living? shouldn’t I be at least good at this to do this for a living?” there are some days that my passion for the topic isn’t quite right, or my energy level is low, or the room is distracting, I just thought an idea would work, when it really didn’t.

sometimes I watch some of my friends speak, and every time there are rainbows shooting off everywhere; and I get kind of jealous. and sometimes I just swipe their ideas and hope that they will work when I speak. either way, I have a new goal when I speak: I want to aim my words directly at a middle schooler’s heart and mind; I want to zero in on their world and bring the light of God’s word directly into the prism of their heart. I’m not aiming to impress the adults, I’m not aiming to impress my seminary professor, I’m not aiming to get something on tape that others will want to copy, I’m aiming for that rainbow. get your sunglasses out folks, its time for church.

God is love.