Monday, October 24, 2011

middle school seniors

yesterday I got to visit the seniors class and seek their help at an event for the middle school ministry- and I couldn't help but feel confirmation about a theory that I have had for a long time: the seniors class has a whole lot in common with my class of middle schoolers.

I have passed by this class on dozens of occassions and have seen this class playing games, telling jokes, and laughing out loud- just like the middle school class! they often like to take the church bus to camp or to some fun event- just like my middle schoolers-

yesterday I was in there and the man leading the group stood on the stage with his microphone trying to get everyone seated, but they were too busy chatting with each other at "the goodie table" and catching up- "wow" I thought, "where have I seen THIS behavior before?!"

here are some other similarities that I have noticed between the seniors class and the middle schoolers:

  • both groups feel a little left out by the rest of the world.
  • both groups are misunderstood and often misjudged. people tend to either love or hate both groups- which is sad because both groups are so loveable-
  • neither group is particularly cool, and they are kind of ok with that
  • in both groups, you've got to watch out for the drama-queens and the flirts-
  • both groups have a facination with facebook
  • both sets of people really love coffee and candy.
  • both groups have much to give to those who are younger than them- and when they get connected to those who are younger than them- things really start to happen.
  • both groups of people tend to be a little clumsy- and if you're going on the road with either group, make sure you bring a medical kit stocked with band-aids.
  • both groups enjoy getting a little silly every now and then-
  • both groups love a good game, a good joke, a good story, and a good laugh
  • both groups seem to handle difficult times with stride and grace
  • both groups have a choice to make about their attitude- and both groups can be sour or delightful depending on their attitude
  • both groups have a bright sparkle and brighten my sparkle when I'm with them
  • and when God gets a hold of middle schoolers, and when God gets a hold of seniors, watch out- big things are about to happen
  • I love both groups- they are a delight.
God is love.

raab and the baby-bunny

once upon a time, there was a rabbit named raab.
each week raab told stories about God to kittens and uni-corns at the church of cats.
raab’s life was quiet, orderly, clean and predictable, and he liked it that way.
and then, one winter night while raab was telling stories to the kittens, he received an urgent message from his wife-
she was going to have a baby-bunny!

raab was excited and afraid.
“what kind of daddy will I be to this baby-bunny?
will I be too busy with the kittens and the uni-corns?”

but raab was afraid of something bigger- he was afraid his heart was too small.
his heart was so full of love for God and his wife, the kittens and the uni-corns-
would there be any room left for love for his baby-bunny?
would the baby bunny take raab’s love away from everyone else?

and then the day finally arrived- a baby-bunny was born- a baby-girl-bunny.
raab named her jenny. jenny-the-bunny.
she was all white, with pink eyes and a pink nose and pink on the inside of her ears.
her pink nose wiggled as she breathed.
raab was overwhelmed with love and joy-
and as he held her, he experienced something he had never experienced before:
his heart began to grow.
now there was plenty of room for jenny-the-bunny
and there was more room- and raab found that with room in his heart
he loved his wife even more and he loved God even more-
he loved everyone even more!
raab held jenny in his arms and whispered into her ear-
“mommy carried you for so long- and now its finally my turn to carry you-
and I don’t want to let you go”

raab’s clean and quiet world became messy and noisy with jenny’s toys and laughter-
but raab didn’t mind at all-
jenny danced all over raab’s little rabbit hole- and raab laughed and danced with her.
raab found that boring things that he used to do were now fascinating with jenny.
watching her yawn or sneeze or smile kept him entertained for hours.

one morning, jenny was chomping away at carrots-

raab said to her- “jenny, can I have a hug?”
jenny hopped over and hugged raab, still chomping away-
as he hugged her, he could hear her heartbeat, her breathing, her chomping-
and he thought to himself- “its still early in the morning, but its already been
the perfect day.”

in the days to come, raab and jenny shared many adventures,
and many special times together
jenny loved to ride horses and to meet bears.

sometimes jenny got mad at raab-
she had a special way of expressing that.
one night, jenny was angry with raab
when it was time to say goodbye to her friends the horses-
raab just held her, smiled and whispered into her ear
“even when you’re angry with me, you are still my source of joy.”

when the uni-corns and the kittens met jenny they said,
“cool a baby-bunny!”
“when do we get to bunny-sit, raab-the-rabbi-rabbit?”
raab paused and said “I’ll get back to you on that…”

raab and the uni-corns

once upon a time, in the land of cats- there was a church of cats.
and at the church of cats, there was a bunny that taught stories to the kittens.
his name was raab and he was brown.
all of the kittens called him raab-the-rabbi-rabbit- even though he wasn't a jewish bunny.
raab lived in a quiet little rabbit hole.
he kept it clean because he was a clean bunny.
raab did more than tell stories to kittens- he taught stories to a group of uni-corns too.
often the uni-corns would travel far away to uni-corn school,
but raab always enjoyed it when they came home to the land of cats.

raab discovered that telling stories to uni-corns
was much different from telling stories to kittens.
uni-corns are bigger than kittens.
uni-corns loved to chew on coffee-beans and tell stories until late at night.
uni-corns loved to have long discussions about important things.
and most of all, unicorns are very loving animals-
and these uni-corns were often in love with other uni-corns at the church of cats.
and they loved to wonder and talk about their relationships with other uni-corns.
some of the uni-corns even had raab tell stories at their uni-corn weddings.

raab didn't know much about uni-corn school,
and he didn't really care for coffee-beans-
but he loved those uni-corns.
he took them in his garden cart on many adventures-
and those uni-corns helped many different animals in the land of cats and the land of sharks.
that made raab proud of the uni-corns.

 one lovely spring, raab loaded the uni-corns into his garden cart
and took them to the land of clams near the beach.
the uni-corns wanted to sleep on the sand-
and to eat their meals at the beach and go three days without cleaning their fur!
again, raab was a very clean rabbit.
he loved to be clean and wash his brown fur often.
this was going to be a stretch for raab the rabbit,
but he was looking forward to some quiet time with the uni-corns.

but it wasn't quiet at all.
broncos and foxes ran around the beach growling and snarling,
morning, noon and night.
they growled and snorted during raab's stories-
one night as raab looked up at the stars in the land of clams,
he thought that this wasn't such a good idea after all.
just then, a group of foxes screamed by.

some of the uni-corns were in love,
some of the uni-corns were upset,
and one uni-corn kept getting lost because she was wandering off and meeting dogs.
and all along raab was there- trying to tell his stories.
even with all of the noise of the broncos and foxes
some of the uni-corns fell asleep during his stories!

when raab got home, he cleaned his fur and enjoyed his quiet little rabbit-hole.
raab loved those uni-corns and loved to meet with them over some carrots.
raab and those uni-corns shared many adventures in the days to come-
and they met and helped many wild animals together.

raab and the garden cart

once upon a time, in the land of cats- there was a church of cats.
and at the church of cats, there was a bunny that taught stories to the kittens.
his name was raab and he was brown.
all of the kittens called him raab-the-rabbi-rabbit- even though he wasn't a jewish bunny.

one day, while raab was exploring the land of rabbits and the land of sharks,
he discovered a large blue and white garden cart.

it wasn't brand new, and the paint was chipping, but it had a special character to it.
raab thought to himself, "how could I use this large garden cart?"
"i know!" he thought "I can bring this back to the church of cats
and use it to cart around my friends, the kittens."

"I can use it to take them to the snow and to the lake."
"I can use it to take them to play games- the kittens will love it!"

so raab began to pull the garden cart back to the church of cats.
it was a little heavy when it was empty- how would he pull it full of kittens?
so raab asked for some help in pulling his blue and white garden cart.

he asked a friendly grizzly bear named bruce and a dalmatian named christopher.
with their help, pulling the big garden cart was no problem for raab at all.
raab loved pulling the garden cart with bruce the bear and christopher the dalmatian.

raab took the kittens all over the land with his blue and white garden cart.
he took them to the magical kingdom ruled by a mouse.
he took them to the ocean to visit the dolphins and the crabs and his friend mary-ann.
she always had ice-cream for the kittens.

he took them to the big tank of sharks to watch the sharks play games.
when raab and bruce and christopher pulled the garden cart,
the kittens would sing and play games in the cart.

raab loved to hear them sing.
sometimes the kittens got sick too-
maybe it was hair-balls, but they seemed to throw up in the garden cart a lot.

raab didn't just bring kittens in his cart-
he brought other animals too-
a jay-bird, a pando-bear, a zebra, and a vegetarian raptor.
all of these animals made raab's cart slow

and he was often passed by jaguars, mustangs, and thunderbirds-
all laughing as they zoomed by.
once raab's cart was even passed by a pinto!

one summer, bruce the bear, christopher the dalamatian and raab the rabbit
took the kittens to the land of skinny-dogs. (very skinny dogs)
it was very far away.
along the way the garden cart broke three times!
and the kittens had to get out until christopher was able to fix it.
the kittens sat on the side of the road yelling-
everything on the cart seemed to break on this trip.
raab began to wonder if his cart was strong enough to travel so far away.
but christopher the dalmatian fixed it- he could fix anything.

when raab, christopher, bruce and the kittens arrived in the land of thin-dogs

they discovered that it was very hot there.
they met a dog named way-sos, who was very thin.
the kittens loved way-sos and gave him things to eat-
and way-sos was happy.

the land of thin-dogs was very hilly and raab's cart was almost tipped over while he,
bruce and christopher were pulling it, full of kittens.

raab was very worried- but it never did tip over.

when raab, bruce and christopher
got the blue and white garden cart back to the land of cats,

raab decided to fix up the busted garden cart.
he painted it all white and lined the floor with straw;
so it would be more comfortable and so it would soak up the kitty barf.
raab and the kittens had many other adventures in the white garden cart
they sang many songs in it and traveled to many wonderful places
and met many wild animals with it.

raab and the cows

a long time ago I had a blog on myspace where I wrote these autobiographical stories about a bunny named raab. I found some of them on my hard drive and thought I would share them with you- see if you can spot what the animals symbolize:


once upon a time, in the land of cows,
there was a brown rabbit named raab.
raab lived in a big tree for a long time.
and raab loved God
and raab loved to tell the calves in the land of cows stories about God.
every week, raab would meet the calves in the church in the land of cows
and tell them stories about God.

raab had many adventures with the calves in the land of cows
and he became friends with many of them.

in time, raab the rabbit felt that God was moving him out of the land of cows
and into a land of cats-
raab the rabbit was very sad to leave the calves in the land of cows,
but he knew it was the right thing to do.

so raab moved out of his big tree and traveled a long way away to the land of cats.
the land of cats was a beautiful place.
raab moved into a little rabbit hole near a beautiful pond.
when raab went to the church of cats, he met the group of kittens that were there.

the kittens were frisky, wild and untamed.
these kittens would wrestle each other
and dig their claws into the walls of the church and sometimes into each other!

raab the rabbit discovered that kittens are harder to gather than cows-
raab the rabbit thought to himself,
"these kittens are going to turn my brown fur grey!"

the kittens were a little confused about raab- they thought he was a jewish rabbit-
so whenever they saw him they called him "raab-the-rabbi-rabbit;"
when they got mad at him, they would say:
"raab-the-rabbi-rabbit- dag-nabbit!"

raab never understood why they thought he was a rabbi-
he wasn't a jewish bunny-
but in time, the name stuck and he would answer to it.

when raab entered the land of cats, he was sad, because he missed his friends the calves-
but those frisky kittens of the land of cats grew on him-
and he soon discovered that he loved them very much too.
they reminded him of his friends the cows
and they helped take away his sadness of missing them.

one summer day raab went to his favorite place to think and be quiet in the land of cats.
and there, he thought to himself:
"telling stories to calves seemed to be so much easier than telling stories to kittens.

 "these kittens are wild and untamed, but I love them so much-

"telling stories to kittens isn't always easy, but it always is fun!
"I think I'm going to enjoy myself here in the land of cats."

 and so began the adventures of raab-the-rabbi-rabbit in the land of cats.

in the days to come, he would tell the kittens many stories and take them to many places,
and meet many new animals along the way.
raab the rabbit would even see some of the kittens grow into cats-
and yes, his brown fur began to grow grey.
raab stayed in contact with some of the cows-

especially the red-bulls.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


i love books.
I've got a lot of them.
I spend a lot of time, reading to them, listening them, organizing them, trading them-
they are in every room of my house and in my office.

recently, I downsized my office and sold nine boxes of books. I didn't realize that parting with them would be such an emotional experience for me.

I have not been buying as much paper-books lately because I'm low on storage space- I've been getting most of my books through my amazingly-wonderful little amazon kindle.

I recently organized my books and I noted that there were a number of re-occuring authors. there is a short list of people who can write a book and be guaranteed that I will buy it the day it comes out. they are as follows:

  • phillip yancey- this guy is my favorite author. hands down. I've have all of his books. I even got to meet him a few years ago. when his last book came out, I was listening to it while painting and I had to actually stop painting and wipe away tears from the beauty of the stories that he told.

  • jim collins- this guy has written the best and most influential books for business over the last 15 years. he has something insightful to say on ever page of ever book.

  • erwin mcmanus- what can I say? I love this guy- and no one says it better than him. I have been able to meet him a few times and actually had lunch with him way back when I was in college and he was still unknown.

  • donald miller- I love his books and stories. I will get every one that he writes.

  • malcolm gladwell- what does he write about? kind of everything. and its always incredible, profound, and well said.

  • leonard sweet- this is another one of my favorite Christian authors. he has such a delightful way of writing and preaching. I met him a few months ago- he is amazing.

  • rob bell- this guy has sparked all kinds of controversy about his views on hell recently- I can disagree with him and still enjoy his books, and speaking. I was also able to meet him recently.
there is also a list of authors who I enjoy very much, and no not have ALL of their books, but I have many of them. these people include:
  • henri nouwen- on faith and spirituality
  • patrick lencioni- the guru of business leadership
  • stephen covey (I might have all of his books)- on leadership
  • chip ingram- how cool is it that my boss writes books?
  • bill hybels- on church leadership
  • tim sanders- on likeability and workplace leadership
  • craig groeschel- on christian living
  • guy kawasaki- on everything business
  • neil t. anderson- on theology and freedom in christ
  • mo willems- for my little- she loves his books! so do I. (she could probably create a list of favorite authors too)

recently I was organizing books and jane was helping. I found a book that I didn't want, and I didn't think I could sell or trade. I said to jane- "jane- you can just throw this one in the trash."

she said, "you mean- just throw it away? sad."

it is sad when a book has no one to love it.

leaders are readers.
God is love.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

lectio divina:: psalm 22

they say that when jesus was on thew cross that He said 7 words-
they are:
1.Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
2.Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).

3.Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27).
4.My God, My God, why have you forsaken me, (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
5.I thirst (John 19:28).
6.It is finished (John 19:30).
7.Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).
I have heard it say that maybe He wasn't saying these words from the Cross, but singing them-
that's a wild thought isn't it?
that when jesus was hanging on the cross- covered in blood and writhing in agony, He was actually singing?
how many of these 7 words come from psalm 22?
psalm 22 opens with the phrase:
"For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.”
A psalm of David." it was a song before it was a psalm-
and jesus had it memorized-
and as He was hanging on the Cross, dying for your sins and mine- He sang it-
can you imagine Him singing these words there?
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my
God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent."
(we actually have it recorded that He said this in matthew 27:46)
"Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed."

(even while dying He is praising His Father in heaven-)

"But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 “He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

(we have it recorded that the crowd who saw Him said this as they passed by in matthew 27:42)

" 9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help."

(the Christmas story and the story of Good Friday are intersecting as He prays to God about His mother-)

" Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing."

(those soldiers must have been like bulls and lions around Him- nailing Him to the cross and gambling for His clothes- keep in mind that this psalm was written hundreds of years BEFORE the cross-)

"But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help."

(even from the Cross He is telling us who fear the LORD to praise Him- even. from. the. Cross.)

"From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

 (even from the Cross- at His lowest moment He declares that God wins and that God is in control. whew.)

" All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it."

(from the Cross He is looking forward- because this is not the end for jesus-
the last line says, "He has done it." or said another way:

when God put these words in david- He was planning the crucifixion of his Son- and preparing for the redemption that paid for your crimes and mine-
I wonder how long jesus had been planning to sing this song with His dying breaths-
since He was a boy?

God brought together the words of David, and the cruelty of the Roman Empire, and the innocence of His Only Begotten to form a moment that would be remembered from all time-

the Word of God was quoted by The Word in the form of a song-
a love song-

God is love.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

standing tall this fall: 2007-2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

pooh-bear pictures

I love these photos of jane and I walking from behind:
maybe it started with a childhood memory of this picture by ernest shephard:

my friend rachel took this picture of us walking in the park across the street from our house- we did not realize that we were being photographed- this maybe my favorite photo of jane and I, it is in the living room, my bedroom, my office and its my desktop wallpaper:

so when we had our pictures taken recently, I made sure that we posed for another one!

being a dad is fun.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

homemade toys:: amanda pig

jane's favorite character is by far amanda pig. she has all of her books, she draws pictures of amanda, writes books about amanda, records videos about amanda, tells stories about amanda- she is amanda's number 1 fan.

unfortunately, amanda pig is a fairly obscure book character- there are no new books about her, and certainly no toys. we have made amanda pig dioramas out of scans of the book, but recently I decided to make an amanda pig out of pieces of wood from the craft store, paint and a ton of wood putty. I think it turned out pretty well-

being a dad is fun.


last friday was fantastic.

deanna, jane and I went camping at our favorite KOA in santa cruz, then we came home and I worked on one of my home made toys for jane, then we went out to eat. as we rolled into our parking lot, I got a call from my friend dave. he said that he locked his keys in his car and needed a ride- I told him I'd be right there. then he called again and needed some help moving some stuff. I rolled my eyes.

I met him at the church, grabbed the chairs that he needed to move and walked into one of our church's main rooms, venue 2. as I walked in, I noticed my ministry's logo on the screens. I thought, "who left these screens on?! who is using my logo?!" and then the lights flipped on and a crowd of friends jumped up and yelled "SURPRISE!" I thought, "did I just mess up someone's surprise party?" and I saw that all these people were MY friends! this party was for me! they had all gathered to celebrate my ten years at the church. they totally got me good! the place was filled with the faithful 678 volunteers, parents of students, former students, current students, and my former college students. best of all, deanna and jane soon joined the crowd. I couldn't belive that they would go to such an effort for me- and that they all kept it a secret from me!

what followed was one blessing after another. there was a video with photos and touching testimonies from students and former students-
leanne shared many meaningful memories- niki did as well. the words that they shared were so deeply encouraging that I haven't fully taken them in yet. jeff got up and played a version of "where the streets have no name" with a new title, "our super-pastor." so cool. it was definitely one of those "this is your life" moments.

Dave asked me to get up and I shared what I could remember of an earlier blog post of what I might say in this situation.

I received many thoughtful and gracious cards, notes, and gifts- the thoughtfulness and generosity of these friends was overwhelming. this was one of the most humbling and beautiful experiences that I can remember.

everyone kept telling me about how long they have been planning this and how hard it was to keep it a secret. just the other day I was talking with Dave and noting that no one had noticed my ten year anniversary at the church. he just giggled.

it made me think that God must giggle like that to Himself quite a lot. down here, we lament and complain about all kinds of things, and I'm sure that He is up there thinking, "you have no idea how I'm going to bless you! I've been planning this for so long! I have gone to such great lengths to prepare an amazing surprise for you!" and He must get such a kick out of seeing us react to the amazing blessings that He brings into our lives. I wonder if He has a sense of excitement as we are about to discover something new from Him.

"for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -jeremiah 29:11

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him." -1 Corinthians 2:9

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28

all of you blessed my socks off. I can't thank you enough for the effort that you went to to make me feel special; and I can't thank God enough for allowing me to have all of you as friends.

God is love.