Saturday, December 31, 2005

Amanda's 7th Birthday Party

Amanda is so camera shy!


Bella Ballerina


Hey hey...the gang's all here


I'm not sure why my daughter is the one with the fewest clothes on


Movie time


Everyone say "Good Morning"!



So this was Amanda's 7th birthday party. There are some things Daddy is good at and some things Mommy is good at. We found out last night that Mommy is the Birthday Party Queen and Daddy is the Birthday Party Wimp!

Brooke asked Amanda what three friends she would like to have over for a spend the night party for her birthday...actually, let me backtrack. Brooke asked Amanda who ALL she would like to have over for a spend the night birthday party and I (wisely) suggested the number "3". Anyway, Amanda chose her friends and they came over for a girls night at the Hurts. It didn't take long for me to figure out I did not have the nerve for four screaming, giggling girls spending the night. Brooke's friend Meagan came over for a while, so I headed over to their house and spent time with my friend (Meagan's husband), Daniel. Brooke, Meagan and the girls did their girl thing here (movies, dress up, make up, hair do's, etc) while Daniel and I watched Hotel Rwanda.

When I came home around 11:30pm, two of the girls were asleep in the living room while Amanda and one other were trying to see who could stay awake the longest. Brooke spent most of the night sleeping on the couch to keep an eye on the girls (who finally went to sleep) while the doggies and I got the bed.

Brooke came to bed a couple hours before the girls got up. They had cinnamon rolls for breakfast, played a little more and then their parents came. Amanda told Brooke it was the best party ever...Mommy is Birthday Party Queen.

- Rob

P.S. You can see all the birthday pictures by clicking on our "Family Photos" link on the Link section of our blog.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas.com

I know Christmas is over, but I just ran across this version of the Christmas story today...and it's worth reading. It's called Christmas.com, but I guess you could best describe it as a techy allegory of the Christmas story. Check it out.

- Rob
Kennedale fire, December 27. 2006. The fire jumped the frontage road but did not make it across Hwy. 287
Kennedale Fire, December 27, 2005 - This apartment complex had fire in the fields and lawn all around it but was spared.
Kennedale Fire, Decemberr 27, 2005 - It's hard to see in this picture, but in the middle of the picture toward the back wood is still smoldering 20+ hours after the fire yesterday.
Kennedale Fire, December 27, 2005 - The flames got so close to this house that it looked like the AC unit on the side of the house (the gray "box" next to the playground equipment) was burned up, but the house was spared.
Kennedale Fire, December 27, 2005 - The red brick houses that survived was on the other side of the field from this lot.
Kennedale Fire, December 2005 - Same lot as the burned out car. They lost everything.

Strike Two

I tried the snoball cooking thing again this evening. This time, I mixed the ingredients in the correct order, but appearantly that was not enough. My snoballs were still flat instead of balls, and despite the fact that I added the 1/2 powdered sugar to yesterday's recipe and added 1/2 cup less flour, they still tasted like they had too much flour.


I called Mom and asked her what she thought went wrong. She suggested sifting the flour first next time and then using stick butter instead of the tub butter since it is not quite as soft. If there is a next time...strike two.

- Rob
Kennedale Fire, December 27, 2005 - Another house totally destroyed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

One AWESOME Plane

F-22A Raptor fighter jets based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., sit on the flight line on Monday, Dec. 19, 2005. The Air Force's new F-22A is such a dominant fighter jet that in combat exercises its pilots typically take on six F-15s at once. Despite the favorable odds, the F-15s are no contest for the supersonic stealth jet, which is officially ready for combat as of this month. The F-22A officially became ready for combat this month with a squadron of 12 Raptors on standby for worldwide deployment at Langley Air Force Base, Va. (U.S. Air Force/Handout/Reuters)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Strike One

The greatest cookie in the world is one of my Aunt Jan's snoball cookies. I don't mean it is one of the best in the world...it is THE best cookie period! I've been craving Aunt Jan's snoball cookies and I was afraid she would just send me a batch instead of give the recipe if I asked, so I went to the Internet this afternoon.

All the snoball cookie recipes I found called for pecans, but I remember Aunt Jan telling me they need chocolate chips instead of the nuts, so that's what I went with. The recipe I found was as follows:

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1½ cups chocolate chips
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Beat margarine, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Blend in chocolate chips, flour and salt. Refrigerate dough 1 hour. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheets; cool on wire racks. Dust with powdered sugar. Store in airtight container.

OK, first of all, I changed 1.5 cups of pecans to 1.5 cups of chocolate chips. I don't think that's what led to the disaster...I think it was something after that. First of all, I put everything in the bowl before I mixed instead of leaving the chips, flour and salt to the later part of the mixing routine. Secondly, I thought the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar was for the "dusting" at the end, so I didn't mix it in with everything else. I put the dough in the refrigerator for an hour, but when it was time to make balls, it didn't roll very well so I sorta blobbed it on the pan.

The result? The cookies were not in balls and they tasted something like flour pancakes with chocolate chips in them! Not only did they not take like Aunt Jan's, but they didn't taste good enough to eat. Amanda thought she wanted one, but she threw her second half in the trash as I was tossing the rest of them.

Now I've got to go buy more chocolate chips and butter if I want to try it again. Strike one.

- Rob

What Kind of Soldier Am I?

Speirs to Blithe: "The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function. Without mercy. Without compassion. Without remorse. All war depends on it." - Band of Brothers

As Christians, we talk about fighting a battle and serving in the Lord's army. As I was watching Band of Brothers last night and heard this quote, I wondered how much different the world would be if we were this kind of soldier. Obviously Christ does not want us to be without mercy, compassion or remorse, but what if we functioned without doubt, selfishness or pride? What if we so considered ourselves dead, as did the Apostle Paul, that we did what soldiers do...follow orders regardless of personal desire, fear or danger?

A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. - Ephesians 6:10-13, NLT

What kind of soldier am I?

- Rob


Go KCBabes

When I was youth pastor, Brooke is the one who talked football with all the guys. I'm not that into sports, but my wife is, especially when it comes to football. This was her first year to play fantasy football. She played in three leagues and got first place in two of them! This league is one she was in with 1 other girl and 10 guys mostly from our church. This was not an automatic draft team...she picked 'em and she won with 'em. Way to go, Babe!

- Rob

A Perfect Parent

A perfect parent is a person with excellent child-rearing theories and no actual children.
—Dave Barry

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Making Christmas Memories

Brooke and I were talking the other day about the number of "messed up" people in the world. We weren't really trying to be mean or judgemental, but sometimes I have to wonder what makes certain people tick. And then I said to Brooke, "You know, I just don't think we realize how blessed we are to have come from good homes where we knew we were loved." The more I observe people, the more I realize how much "a rough childhood" can really mess people up. That same night we drove through a very well-to-do neighborhood in the high school district where Amanda will be going to high school if we do not move before then. All of this led us to talk about how Amanda would never grow up in a rich household, but we are determined she grow up in a home knowing she is loved, knowing her Mom and Dad are not going to divorce and where she can learn to grow up into the godly woman she was created to be.

Because we are committed to family at the Hurt household, we're planning lots of family time while Amanda is out of school for Christmas. On Friday, Brooke, Amanda and I went to see
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We talked with Amanda about the movie before we went, about how it was an allegory, and about the Christian symbolism/story in the movie. She sat on my lap during the movie and we talked about the symbolism throughout the movie. She remembered what I had told her and understood what was going on during the movie. Afterwards, she asked if we could get the movie when it comes out on DVD. Yes, I told her, we will get it. (Very good movie). I then asked her if she would like to get the books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and read them (I read to Amanda at bedtime). When she said "yes", I was glad since she already had the one volume set under the Christmas tree.

Tonight we finished the book
Last Flight of Noah's Ark and are excited to begin the Chronicles of Narnia tomorrow night. We read together at night for several reasons: because Amanda likes it and because it encourages her desire to read, but the main reason I take 20-30 minutes out of my evening is to make memories. I want Amanda to remember the times she and her Daddy spent together before she went to bed. I want her to remember the stories we shared, the secure feeling she had going to sleep knowing she is loved, and knowing that she is worth taking time for.

On Christmas Eve, we slept in a bit. We hung around the house until 3pm or so and then headed over to my parents. We played Pigs and Chickens (a dice game) which Amanda won. Mom made vegetable soup and chili for dinner, but the vegetable soup was so good that nobody got around to the chili! After that, we sat down read
the Christmas story, opened Christmas presents and then watched It's a Wonderful Life .

We purposely did all of the stocking stuff and gift opening on Saturday we could focus on Jesus' birthday today. We slept in and then went to
church at 10:30am. We had a good time of worship, special music and reading, a message from Pastor and family communion. We came home, Brooke and I slept while Amanda watched Madagascar twice and then we went to spend some time with Brooke's brother and his family. We came home this evening and Amanda played with her new computer game until bedtime when we finished reading our book and prayed before she fell asleep. Brooke is not on the couch reading/falling asleep while I sit here and blog. It has been a good day and a good few days of making Christmas memories.

- Rob

Puzzling Picture

It's a Wonderful Life

Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.

Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?


- Clarence the angel from It's a Wonderful Life

Merry Christmas

Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! " 29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 "Don't be frightened, Mary," the angel told her, "for God has decided to bless you! 31 You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!" 34 Mary asked the angel, "But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin." 35 The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she's already in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true." And then the angel left.

Matt. 1:18-25

Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly. 20 As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of David," the angel said, "do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22 All of this happened to fulfill the Lord's message through his prophet: 23 "Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us)." 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife, wife, 25 but she remained a virgin until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Luke 2:1-20

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

8 That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10 but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11 The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!" 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God: 14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors. " 15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, 19 but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.

Matt. 2:1-12

Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him." 3 Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, as was all of Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. "Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?" he asked them. 5 "In Bethlehem," they said, "for this is what the prophet wrote: 6 `O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.' " 7 Then Herod sent a private message to the wise men, asking them to come see him. At this meeting he learned the exact time when they first saw the star. 9 After this interview the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Matt. 2:13-15

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up and flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to try to kill the child." 14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod's death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my Son out of Egypt."

Matt. 2:16-18

16 Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier. 17 Herod's brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah: 18 "A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah-- weeping and mourning unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted--for they are dead."

Matt. 2:19-23

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him, 20 "Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead." 21 So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother. 22 But when he learned that the new ruler was Herod's son Archelaus, he was afraid. Then, in another dream, he was warned to go to Galilee. 23 So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah: "He will be called a Nazarene."

All Scripture taken from New Living Translation

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Things I Want You AND Everybody Else To Know

Dear Brookie,

At the funeral this week, people stood around saying what they remembered and appreciated about Mark. As I was thinking how nice it was that so many people had so many nice things to say about him, I also thought how sad it was that we often wait until people are gone to say those kinds of things about them. I don't want to wait until you are gone to tell you (and everybody else) what I remember/appreciate/love about you.

You have to be the most loving "people person" I know. You are not happy if EVERYBODY (and I do mean EVERYBODY) is not happy. You work to make me happy, Amanda happy, your family happy, my family happy, the people you work for happy, the people who work with you happy, our church family happy, teachers and people at school happy, the lady who cuts your hair happy, the person checking you out at the store happy...HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY. You always want to make everybody happy. Hey...you do a GREAT job at it.

You love Amanda Kay and you are a great Mommy. You always want to pick up something for her when you are out just to remind her she is loved. You work hard to help her look good at school like helping her dress up for special days, etc. You know everything she likes and dislikes. You help her be confident in who God made her to be. You do a GREAT job as a Mommy.

You have a BIG heart. You love people, you always want to help (even when you're helping 20 other people simultaneously) and you always want to give. Give your time, give your money, give your support. You are a GREAT giver.

You like to have fun. We both know on the spontaneity scale, you are more towards one end and I am toward the other. I'm not always (ok, not usually) as eager to jump into something new or on the spur of the moment as you are, but you sure are good at making memories. You're GREAT at making memories that will last a lifetime.

And I guess the one thing hardly anybody else knows about you, and probably the one thing I am most thankful for is the way you have adapted your life and made room for me. When people get married, they give up who they are as an individual and become one together. Some parts of that are easy, and others are really hard. You have to be one of the most adaptive, loving and giving people I have every known. In our marriage, I try to make sure that I am giving my fair share, but I know I cannot come anywhere near where you are in the area of adapting and changing to make "you" and "me" into "us". This certainly is not an excuse to quit changing on my part, but I have seen you do so many things to become a good wife to me. Sometimes my personality can get stuck in a rut, and too often I have the "strong" personality. You manage to stay the unique and special person God made you to be, yet you make changes to be what I desire in a wife. When I'm not being selfish, I see you struggle sometimes, but I never hear you complain. I don't know what can make one person love another so much to be what you are to me, but I thank God for you. Solomon said it right when he said "he who finds a wife finds a good thing". When I found you as a wife, I found a GREAT thing.

Please forgive me for not saying these things more often to you and to the people around me. If I should out-live you, I want other people to know the kinds of things I am going to say about you at your funeral because they've heard me saying them every day. After Christ, you are truly the GREATEST gift God has ever given me and I want you to know how much I love you.

You are the love of my life!

- Rob

Friday, December 23, 2005

Why Jesus is Better Than Santa Claus

Santa lives at the North Pole ...
JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh ...
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year ...
JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies ...
JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited ...
JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then enters your heart when invited.

You have to wait in line to see Santa ...
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap ...
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, what's your name?" ...
JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly ...
JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO ...
JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry" ...
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."

Santa's little helpers make toys ...
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but ...
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree ...
JESUS became our gift and died on a tree.

It's obvious there is really no comparison. We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about. We need to put Christ back in CHRISTmas, Jesus is still the reason for the season. Yes, Jesus is better, he is even better than Santa Claus.

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

Author Unknown

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thank You Pastor and Mrs. Debi

Thank you Pastor and Mrs. Debi for the feather boa and makeup kit for Christmas. As you can see, I'm already putting it to good use.

Love,
Amanda

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Joy to the World

Amanda and her class sang Joy to the World in church today. Proud parents like ourselves may view the performance 35 second video clip here.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Happy Birthday, Sully

We don't know exactly when Sully's (on the right) birthday is since we adopted him, but since he was "about two" when we got him, we made December 17 (the day we brought him home) his brithday. As you can see, both dogs were thrilled to celebrate with the party hats Amanda made for them. Happy 3rd birthday, Sully.

More Discussions With the Humanists

The Humanist News blog is still attacking Intelligent Design. They continue to bow to the god of Logic, but their latest argument didn't seem very logical to me:

A large part of IDer's energy is spent trying to show the inadequacy of Darwinian evolution in explaining the complexities of life. It is only fair then, that the theory of ID be held to just as rigorous a scientific and philosophical standard as Darwin is. With that in mind, look at ID's central argument, as I understand it:

1) Some parts of living organisms, such as the bacterial flagellum, are very complex.

2) The complexity of the flagellum and other such biological systems stands in need of explanation.

3) Darwinian evolution is an inadequate explanation of the flagellum's etc… complexity.

4) The flagellum and many other complex biological systems exhibit the features of being intentionally designed.

5) The presence of an intelligent, intentional designer is the best way to explain 1 and 4, above.

6) So, the flagellum and other more complex biological systems were created by an intelligent and intentional designer.


Is this a reasonable argument?
Well, positing a designer as an explanation for complexity, as 6) does, still leaves us with the problem of explaining complexity. After all, the designer must be complex enough to have the intelligence and intention to create complex biological systems. How are we to explain the designer's complexity?

One way to wiggle out of this is to say that the designer is less complex than the flagellum. But then it becomes hard, if not impossible, to see how the designer could be intelligent and intentional. Further, the process of a simple thing giving rise to a more complex thing sounds a lot like the beginnings of an evolutionary theory, and as such would contradict premise 3 in the ID argument.
I am curious as to how ID can respond. Ramsay

There was a comment already given for this post:

Logic By : Jamie @ Time : 09 Dec 2005 02:09:26 am :

ID is a thinly veiled attempt of the Christian Right to convince people to disregard scientific inquiry in favor of a theory that could not stand on its own no matter how much they prop it up. Logic is the ultimate enemy of religious dogma which is why they are trying to control what we learn to be logical in school. When we can no longer recognize what is logical and what is not, then they have won. Intelligent design is an oxymoron because anyone that is truly intelligent would not accept it.

Neither the original post nor this comment seemed 'logical' to me, so I commented:

This is NOT Logical By : Rob (Hurts) @ Time : 17 Dec 2005 03:40:05 am :

Can you please show documentation where an IDer has said that the designer is less complex than the flagellum? Is this not a straw man argument? As to Jamie's comment that "intelligent design is an oxymoron because anyone that is truly intelligent would not accept it"...is that logical or just name calling? Do your credentials match those of some of the PhD's who argue for intelligent design? It is one thing to disagree with someone or to disprove their arguments, but it sounds more like the dogma you despise than the logic you espouse to say anybody who disagrees with you is not truly intelligent.

It is difficult for me to comment of some of what is posted on the Humanist News blog because, as I said earlier, their god is Logic. Although I believe Christianity is the most logical faith in the world, it still boils down to just that...faith. Those who come to God must BELIEVE that he is and that he rewards those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). I think their god let them down here. I'll let you know what I hear back from this discussion.

- Rob

Weighing in on "Merry Christmas"

I've read articles here and there about the "Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays" debate. I've seen web site claim greeters at Target can't even say "Merry Christmas" when in all reality , it is only a matter of them choosing to advertise the "holidays" instead of "Christmas" to appeal to a wider range of consumers.

I wasn't particularly surprised that this was somehow "exaggerated" by Christians. I find it particularly disappointing how "we" pass along false information like this without checking it out first. But what surprised me even more was the response from some in the Christian community on this issue.

One Christian blogger wrote, "
That said, if stores don't want to recognize Christmas, I really don't care one way or the other. Have we as followers of Christ became so frail and victimized that we need the mall to validate our faith?" Another was speaking of, "the "proposed agenda" to take "Christ" out of this season [and went on to say] (think through that statement by the way......Can you really take Christ out of any place? It in the same vein as thinking you can take prayer out of school, isn't it?)" A follow up comment to this post stated, "I think some people are having difficulty facing the fact that we are a post-Christian society, so they end up lashing out over silly issues like this."

Before I share my opinion, I would like to stress:
  • What I am sharing is just that...my opinion. I do not claim to speak for God on the issue, although I have tried to discern how Christ would have me respond.
  • I consider the bloggers quoted above to be my brothers in Christ although I disagree with them on this issue.
As I read these blog posts, I asked myself, "What would Jesus do?" And I considered the fact that Jesus lived in a nation similar to ours in that it was once considered godly (the Jews were God's chosen people) and in a culture quite similar to ours today where not many people were living godly lives. And I thought about those around Jesus who wanted to see him rise up and overthrow Rome for the Kingdom of God (more likely for the Jewish people, but in the name of God nonetheless). From what I read in the Gospels, Jesus was more interested in changing people's hearts than he was in overthrowing governments. So on that hand, I can see where my brothers are coming from.

On the other hand, I wonder how Jesus felt about Jews who let God be taken out of their culture and a pagan lifestyle infiltrate their culture. For those who like a chapter and verse for every opinion, I'll admit I do not see in the Gospels where Jesus addressed this issue. But perhaps America is in a situation similar to that of Israel in the time of Rome...a nation that was founded by God's divine providence who once recognized Jehovah as 'their God' and later sat idly by while "culture" kicked God out of public life.

I guess I could summarize my concern with this issue (i.e. Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas) into three areas:
  1. Being a good steward of God's blessings on America
  2. The flawed logic in the argument that says 'shame on Jerry Falwell for trying to make all of America observe Christmas like he does'
  3. The book of Revelations tells us what the world will be like at the return of Christ...post-Christian. But does that mean we should just sit and let it happen?
Being a good steward of God's blessings on America:
The parable of the talents teaches us that we should be wise stewards of that which God has given us. It is clear from the writings of our Founding Fathers that they believed it was God's divine hand of Providence that helped form our great nation. John Witherspoon preached a scathing sermon around 1777 asserting that clergy should be involved in government (in response to a provision in the Georgia constitution that clergy should not be involved in running for office). One reason I believe Christians should make a public statement about Christmas is because we are to be good stewards of God's blessings on our great nation. Yup, if Target wants to celebrate the holidays instead of Christmas, that is their right. But it is also my right to let them know that, as a Christian, I prefer to support a store who recognizes Christmas rather than 'the holidays'.

Flawed logic
You have probably heard the story told by Martin Niemoeller talked about after WWII:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

The 'logic' Niemoeller spoke of was the same that says today it is wrong for Jerry Falwell to 'make everybody celebrate Christmas like he does'. This is also the exact same logic that would say,"I can't say anything against abortion because what right do I have to try and force my pro-life beliefs on everybody else."

Living in a post-Christian society
I believe the person who said we are living in a post-Christian society is right. Revelation tells us what the world will be like just before Christ returns...post-Christian. But does that mean we just sit by and say, "I'll just love my culture and not do anything to stop us from turning our back on God"? Where do we draw the line?...taking prayer out of school (technically refusing to publicly acknowledge God in our schools)? allowing our culture to celebrate the "holidays" instead of the day set aside to recognize Christ's birth? allowing our culture to redefine God's definition of marriage? allowing our culture to make it against the law to preach what the Bible says about homosexuality?

To the comment that some of us are having a hard time dealing with the fact that we are living in a post-Christian society...YES, I'm having a hard time dealing with that. Is it being a good steward of what God has given us to sit idly by while our culture gives God the boot?

As to whether Christ can be taken out of the season (or prayer be taken out of school), of course not. But does that make it a good idea for us as Christ's ambassador's to sit idly by while our culture decides it doesn't want to recognize God in America anymore?

And lastly, have I become so frail and victimized that I need the mall to validate my faith? If this is a real question and not a "shame on you" tactic, no I am not frail and victimized, but I don't think I should sit by while my country, here by the grace of God, slowing (starting with a small but vocal minority) decides we don't need God anymore...that this is no longer one nation under God.

Conclusion
I have to admit it is odd for Christians, who should be against the commercialism of Christmas, to be so adamant about stores saying "Merry Christmas". And then we could bring up the whole issue of celebrating Christ's birth on December 25th (to coincide with a pagan holiday), but the issue that most concerns me is Christians not taking a stand. When terrorists attacked my country in the name of their god, I wanted to stand up and say, "You know what, you just go ahead and try. See if your god really wants to take on my God." I can only do that if America still wants to be a Christian nation. There are some of us who are not yet ready to throw in the towel.

Yes, we live in a post-Christian era, and
I believe Christ was more about changing hearts than he was about setting up an earthly kingdom. But I also believe that America was founded as a God-fearing nation and because of that, we have been soverignly blessed. If my culture is not going to recognize and honor God, I am going to take a stand. Christians in the coliseum took a stand for Christ as the lions devoured them. I pray that I would be strong enough to do the same, but I'm just not convinced God expects me to sit and watch my culture take me one step at a time closer to that point.

- Rob

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Wombat?

No, that thing laying at Brooke's feet is not a wombat...it is Sully. Anytime Brooke lays down, the doggies like to assume their positions. Boo always looks for the corner she cram herself into (we still can't figure out how she thinks that is comfortable) and Sully always goes for the legs. As you can clearly see, Brooke is thoroughly enjoying this "family time".

Monday, December 12, 2005

Dancing in Church?

Yes, I'm losing my hair, but no, this is NOT a picture of me with Brooke! This is a picture of George and Brooke dancing at our church Christmas banquet last night. I am "dance challenged" and George was looking for a dance partner, so he and Brooke went for a spin on the dance floor. The banquet was a lot of fun...good food, dancing, karoke and time with good friends and thanking the Lord for seeing us through 2005.

- Rob

Hot Stuff

I'm not sure the official name of this "Chex Mix"...we just call it "Hot Stuff" at our house. It's a Christmas time (NOT "holiday time") tradition started when I was a kid and proudly continued at the Hurt (Jr.) household. Here's the recipe:

1 box Cheerios
1 box Wheat Chex
1 box Corn Chex
1 box Rice Chex
1 Can Spanish Peanuts
1 Can Mixed Nuts
1 pkg. pretzels
1/4 lb. butter
1/4 c. wishteshire sauce
1 T. celery salt
1 T. onion salt
1 T. cayenne pepper

Melt butter. Add remaining ingredients. Mix over cereal. Bake 1 hr. at 250 stirring every 20 minutes.

Bad Analogies

Taken from Worst Analogies Ever Written in a High School Essay

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
Joseph Romm, Washington

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty Bag filled with vegetable soup.
Paul Sabourin, Silver Spring

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and "Jeopardy" comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30.
Roy Ashley, Washington

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
Chuck Smith, Woodbridge

The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.
Unknown

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Three Ladies in a Hot Tub

THREE WOMEN -- ONE GERMAN, ONE JAPANESE AND A HILLBILLY WERE SITTING NAKED IN A SAUNA. SUDDENLY THERE WAS A BEEPING SOUND. THE GERMAN PRESSED HER FOREARM AND THE BEEP STOPPED THE OTHERS LOOKED AT HER QUESTIONINGLY. THAT WAS MY PAGER," SHE SAID." I HAVE A MICROCHIP UNDER THE SKIN OF MY ARM.

A FEW MINUTES LATER, A PHONE RANG. THE JAPANESE WOMAN LIFTED HER PALM TO HER EAR. WHEN SHE FINISHED, SHE EXPLAINED, "THAT WAS MY MOBILE PHONE. I HAVE A MICROCHIP IN MY HAND."

THE HILLBILLY WOMAN FELT DECIDEDLY LOW TECH. NOT TO BE OUTDONE, SHE DECIDED SHE HAD TO DO SOMETHING JUST AS IMPRESSIVE. SHE STEPPED OUT OF THE SAUNA AND WENT TO THE BATHROOM. SHE RETURNED WITH A PIECE OF TOILET PAPER HANGING FROM HER BEHIND. THE OTHERS RAISED THEIR EYEBROWS AND STARED AT HER. THE HILLBILLY WOMAN FINALLY SAID, "WELL, WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT. I'M GETTIN' A FAX."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Amen

How the Grinch Stole Christmas was on TV tonight, so we let Amanda stay up late to watch it with us. Afterwards, she went to bed and here is what she prayed:

Dear Jesus,

Thank for this wonderful day I had. Thank you for my family and thank you that the Grinch learned his lesson about not stealing because if we steal, we are following the devil and we don't want to do that. We want to follow Jesus and Christmas is about Jesus, not about presents. We thank you that you love us. Amen

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Amanda's newest pastime since
the ice came in...eating icicles!

Snow Day!

Today is a snow day (maybe "ice day" would be more accurate). Arlington schools are closed and Brooke and I did not have to go into the office. I've been over to the church and salted the sidewalks, and both Brooke and I have work stuff to do at home now, but it was nice to sit around a bit this morning. Amanda went out to "skate" around on the ice for a while, but at 14 degrees, that didn't last long. It is cold so we're all inside trying to stay warm.

- Rob

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You Gotta Love Living in Texas

A "wintery mix"...that's what they're calling it. We are under a Winter Storm Warning here in the DFW area. To those "up North", this is nothing, but to Texans, this is big weather news. We've had some rain and now we're waiting for the rain/sleet/snow mix (i.e. "wintery mix") to come in before rush hour traffic. They say by morning we might have and inch or two of snow. I'm not holding my breath, but this is winter weather for us. You gotta love living in Texas.

- Rob

Christmas Stamps

A woman goes to the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards. She says to the clerk, "May I have 50 Christmas stamps?"

The clerk says, "What denomination?"

The woman says, "God help us. Has it come to this? Give me 6 Catholic, 12 Presbyterian, 10 Lutheran and 22 Baptists."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

From the Wisest Man Who Ever Lived

In my search for wisdom, I tried to observe everything that goes on all across the earth. I discovered that there is ceaseless activity day and night. This reminded me that no one can discover everything God has created in our world, no matter how hard they work at it. No even the wisest people know everything, even if they say the do.

King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 8:16-17, NLT
The results of a Daddy/Amanda craft project
Now that he has a new haircut, Sully spends a lot of time in front of the heater trying to stay warm!
Amanda Kay helping Mommy decorate for Christmas

Pet Peeve!

Agh! Three times this past week I have been sent an e-mail. My e-mail address is included in the header with every other e-mail address the person sending me the e-mail has in his/her address book. First of all, that is pay dirt for spammers. Secondly, do you really think Bill Gates and AOL are going to pay you for forwarding an e-mail? Did you not learn in elementary school, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is!?"

So for those of you who are prone to forwarding e-mail JUNK, please take note of the following Netiquette (net etiquette)
  • If you are thinking about forwarding anything to your entire address book, DON'T DO IT. You have just become a spammer if you do.
  • If you are thinking about forwarding anything to more than one person in your address book, make sure they want it. Then, if you still decide to send it, use the Bcc: option to send (i.e. don't put all those addresses in the To: box, use the Bcc: box - Blind Carbon Copy). Nobody really wants to read through 100 e-mail addresses just to get to the subject of the e-mail, and most of those people don't want to share their e-mail address with everyone else in your address book.
  • And finally...my pet peeve...please make sure whatever you are passing on is not an URBAN LEGEND! An urban legend is an UNTRUE story...like the Bill Gates/AOL giving you money for every person you forward an e-mail to. No matter how incredible or touching the story sounds, check it out before you pass it along!
For those of you who don't know how to do this, I'm going to give you a 30 second lesson that will keep you from embarrassing yourself passing along false information and will keep you from irritating people like me. Ready? Go to www.snopes.com and look for the story you received. If it was forwarded to you via e-mail, chances are the story will be found here. People have taken the time to research the story, so take just a moment to go to their site and check it out. For Pete's sake (no, for MY sake), bookmark the page for future reference.

Now, as I calmly step off my soapbox and take a deep breath, let me share something good that came of my annoying e-mails today. I already knew the story I was forwarded was an urban legend, but it caused me to go to Snopes just to see what other annoying stories are circulating right now. I found one story that was researched and proven to be true. Check out the story here, and then check out the videos here and here. This is incredible...I guarantee it is worth your time. This guy has 16,000 Christmas (not holiday) lights on his house and he has them synchronized to music. You can check out the guy's web page with all the details here. Absolutely incredible.

So, thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Be sure to check out the video...it is incredible!

- Rob

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bumper Sticker of the Month

The beatings will continue until morale improves.
I don't know if this is funny to you or not, but I am rolling on the floor laughing.
When I was youth pastor, I think (unconsciously) I fell into this modus operandi when I got frustrated.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Know What I Mean

We love Christmas movies at our house. Brooke loves Christmas movies...all except this one. How can anyone not like Ernest? Anyway, tonight Brooke was gone visiting a friend who just had a baby, so Amanda and I watched this "Christmas Classic". We had a great time together, downed some Egg Nog and enjoyed the movie. What could be better than that...know what I mean?

- Rob

Monday, November 28, 2005

This is a four generation picture: my daughter, me, my mom (beside me), my grandma (front row). This is Grandma Robinette whom I talked about visiting less than a week ago. Just this evening, Mom got a call from the nursing home saying that Grandma had passed away. My Mom said she visited Grandma on Saturday and she was not feeling well. On Sunday, Mom went back and Grandma hardly spoke to her because she felt so bad. We don't know for sure how she died, but the nurse found her in her bed. It is interesting that just last week Grandma, who has been in a nursing home the past 7 years, told Mom, "I wish I would go ahead and die before I get to the point where I am in a lot of pain." Well, Grandma is not in pain anymore. Grandma frequently talked about the Lord and believed she would go to be with him when she left this earth.

As I shared in a previous post, Grandma was my biggest blog fan. I printed my blog each month and mailed it to her. Just this past week, she told me she read every page word-for-word, then some posts she went back and read again. I was really excited to send this month's blog where she was a featured story, but she won't get to read it. I don't think the Bible says a lot about it, but somehow I don't think people in heaven spend a lot of time watching us down here on the earth...they've got better stuff to do there. So I doubt Grandma will be reading my blog from heaven, but at least I can tell her about it one day.

I'm still processing how I feel about Grandma being gone. When we went to see her the day before Thanksgiving, I told Brooke on the way home that I wanted to take Amanda to see Grandma whenever she had a day off from school. Grandma was only 25 minutes or so from the house, but I didn't get out to see her very often. I was wanting to make sure she didn't pass away and I'd be left saying, "I wish we'd gone to visit her more." So I am wishing that I had taken Amanda to see her more often, but I thank the Lord that we went to see her last week. I had planned on going to see her around Christmas time and I'm not sure what made me decide to go last week. I make a real effort not to over spiritualize things, but I really believe the Lord prompted me to go.

I guess I'm still learning the lesson that I will always be busy, but I've got to make an EFFORT to enjoy, appreciate and work at the relationships the Lord has given me here on this earth. I'm thankful that the Lord prompted us to go visit Grandma last week, and I'm trying to learn the lessons He's wanting to teach me about relationships so that I don't have more regrets.


Grandma, I'll miss you and I love you,
Rob

Saturday, November 26, 2005

God's Grace and a Pure Heart

I've been reading through Jeremiah and Lamentations in my Bible reading, and I have to admit there are parts where God's pronounced judgement against Israel is scary. It's not like God is saying to his unruly kid, "I'm going to give you a swat if you don't straighten up", it's more like, "I am going to beat you within an inch of your life if you don't change this behavior right now!" Actually, it might even be more like, "Your kids are going to suffer from your wrong decisions, some of you are going to die and you are going to know that I am not happy with what you have done and furthermore, you are going to know that it is me who is punishing you." God was not happy!

All of this made me think about some of the accusations I have heard railed against God: "Why would I want to serve a God who kills women and children? Why would I want to serve a God who forces people to obey him?", etc.

And then in the midst of all God's warning about the judgement coming upon Israel, I found verses like these:

For the Lord Almighty has not forsaken Israel and Judah. He is still their God, even though the land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel . (Jeremiah 51:5, NLT)

Have you heard what they are saying? The Lord chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them! They're sneering and saying Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation. But this is the Lord's reply: I would not more reject my people than I would change my laws of night and day, of earth and sky. (Jeremiah 33:24-25, NLT)

And then I made the following observations:
  1. It was God's people (who knew him, knew his demands and knew his blessings) that he was punishing, not some people who could claim this was unexpected
  2. God had given LOTS of warnings and opportunities to repent
  3. God's grace and mercy was great even in the face of his judgement. In the face of great sin, God promised not to reject his people forever
  4. God's anger was righteous. He punished not out of anger but out of a desire for redemption
I never have understood how mere humans think they can make an accusation against God. Even if the above were not true, could not the Creator of heaven and earth decide what he wants to do in the midst of his own creation? Instead of railing against God maybe we should take the more humble approach as David did:

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, "Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way?" (Psalm 8:4, Message)

And then the same day I read these passages from Jeremiah, I also read Hebrews 9:13-14:

Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people's bodies from ritual defilement. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our hearts from deeds that lead to death so that we can worship the living God. For my the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. (NLT)

Thank you, Lord, for your great grace and mercy in my life. Thank you that the blood of Christ can purify my heart!

- Rob

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Birthday Baby

Yesterday was Brooke's birthday. I guess she is going to be one of those who doesn't like to tell her age, so I won't tell. (It's not like it's a big deal...she won't even be 35 until next year). Anway, Brooke is always good about doing special stuff for birthdays, so Amanda and I wanted to do her's up right this year. Brooke is a "people person", so any birthday party for her really requires people. The only problem is, how do you know who to invite (Brooke has a MILLION friends). Our plans changed over the course of time, but due to the "original plan", twelve, counting kids, was all we could do. Anyawy.

Amanda and I got up before Brooke and decorated the house with a few balloons, steamers and a birthday hanging thing (see picture above). We got her Casting Crowns and Third Day CDs as gifts, but the real "party" was the surprise of the evening. The week before, Amanda and I had gone to downtown Ft. Worth to check out Mi Cosina as a possible party meeting place. It seemed to fit the bill, so all that was left was to make sure Amanda could keep a secret, and that turned out to be easy. It seems Amanda really likes being old enough to keep a secret and be in on "the good stuff". Brooke went so far as to tell Amanda that she had already bought some of Amanda's birthday presents and she would exchange birthday present secrets (what kind of mother...?). Amanda's response? "Huh?" pretending as though she could not hear. That was Amanda's response to the end...good job, Punkin!

So a little after 7pm, the three of us piled into the car and headed for "Destination Unknown". Brooke asked if anybody else knew where we were going, and I told her I didn't think so. She asked if anybody else would be joining us, and I told her "No, it is a family time." Once we got downtown, I parked and we started walking, Brooke still not knowing where we were going. As we approached the corner to turn onto the street where the restaurant was, I saw a couple who was going to meet us at the restaurant, so I took a quick "detour" and we crossed the street. Brooke did not see them and asked me why we were walking back toward where I had parked the car. I just acted like I was lost and she bought it ('cause I get lost so often and easily). So at the end of that half block, we made a U-turn and headed back on course. Once we got to the restaurant, our friends were seated at a table near the front and so we joined them. I believe Brooke was genuinely surprised.

After dinner we walked around a bit and stopped by Starbucks and Marble Slab. Amanda got a tummy ache and others had kids or had to work this morning so we all headed home. Amanda went to sleep and Brooke and I watched a movie and then called it a day.

Happy Birthday Baby, I love you,
Rob

My Most Avid Blog Reader

Today was the first day Amanda was out of school for Thanksgivnig break, so we went to visit Grandma GiGi. When we got there, Grandma was sleeping, so I took her hand to wake her up. She woke up, looked at me, looked at Brooke and then looked at Amanda. When she looked at Amanda, her face lit up like Christmas tree. Amanda got to tell Grandma GiGi about school, reading, math and all that good stuff. We hung around for a while and then took some pictures. After that, we wheeled Grandma down to the dining hall for dinner. We didn't stay and eat with her, but between talking in her room and getting to the dining hall, we met a few of her friends and some of the people who work there.

Amanda knows Grandma as Grandma GiGi, her great grandmother, but to me she is Grandma Robinette. Grandma is my Mom's mom, and she just happens to be my most avid blog reader! Grandma does not have Internet access, but I print my blog at the end of each month and mail it to her. I know she reads it because she told me so, she talked about stuff I had written in it and one of the ladies who works at the home where Grandma is asked "Is he the one that sends you the e-mails?" when she introduced me as her grandson.

It was good to see you today, Grandma. We'll be back again next month. I love you!

- Rob

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Spent My Day Off on the Toilet

Actually, it was two toilets. Well, first it was one, then it was two...I guess one wasn't enough?

Are you curious or disgusted now? You needn't be disgusted, let me explain. I had three vacation days left for the year, so I thought I'd take Mon-Wed off this week (since I have Thursday off for Thanksgiving and Friday is my normal day off). My plans were to kick back and read (currently reading The Resurrection File, a novel) and do some work on the church web page that I have been trying to get done for over a month but cannot find time to complete. The whole "toilet incident" started on Sunday when a lady at church told me one of the toilets in the women's restroom was not working properly (fortunately it was not plugged up or anything nasty). I figured we could go one week with one less toilet in the women's' restroom (I could not fix it on Sunday), so I printed an "Out of Order" sign to place on it for the week. That was Sunday. On Monday afternoon, I get a call saying one of the two remaining toilets is now running non-stop. I went to check it out, and sure enough, the report was correct. I did not have time to go to the hardware store that night, so I made my second "Out of Order" sign.

On Tuesday, our church secretary called and asked if we were going to have just one of three toilets working or if we were going to call somebody to come fix them. Of course we were not going to call anybody to fix them...that's part of my job. Knowing that we could not let Sunday roll around with two "Out of Order" signs up, I went in Tuesday morning to fix the problems. I'm spare you the details, but a couple hours later I had both toilets fixed. Some of that time was running back and forth to the hardware store, but one toilet did have three separate problems. Now those of you who do not know me are saying "How difficult could this be?", but those who know me are saying, "Wow! You fixed something? Two somethings? And they are working now...no water flooding the restroom or anything? Great job!" All I can say is "I'm a more handy man today than I was yesterday" and "I spent my day off on the toilet."

- Rob

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Making Memories, Part I

A couple weeks ago, we asked the question in our Life Group, "If you could do anything, and knew you could not fail at it, what would you attempt?" I had to think about that one for a long time, and then I struggled with my answer...or lack thereof. It's not like I couldn't think of something to say, but not much I really felt with my heart (which is the context in which we were asking the question). Of course I'd like to feed all the hungry children of the world, but that would involve leaving the country which is not something I am very excited about. A little more authentic is the idea of getting proper training and opening a web page business. But if I was going to do that "all the way", it would become a full-time job. I wouldn't want to quit the job I have now...I love what I do and I feel called to do what I am doing.

My friend Jennifer Moore had an e-mail address BigDream@ispname.com. If she were asked the question, she would have any number of answers. And then I have a friend Steve Hammond who has planted a church with a desire to change the culture. He lives his life as if everything he does cannot fail and will accomplish something great. I used to look people like these friends and compare myself to them which only caused me to feel like a failure.

The deepest desire of my heart is to have Jesus look at my life and smile...to make him proud of me. I used to think he could not be proud of me because I must be lazy or lack vision or ambition. One of the biggest examples of somebody I was NOT like was the Apostle Paul.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11, NIV)

As I was thinking about this during the week last week, I remembered that the Apostle Paul also wrote these words:

...We put no confidence in human effort. Instead we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us. Yet I could have confidence in myself if anyone could. If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! For I was circumcised when I was eight days old, having been born into a pure-blooded Jewish family that is a branch of the tribe of Benjamin. So I am a real Jew if there ever was one! What's more, I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. And zealous? Yes, in fact, I harshly persecuted the church. And I obeyed the Jewish law so carefully that I was never accused of any fault. (Philippians 3:3b-6, NLT)


Paul was zealous even before Christ because that is how God created him...it is the heart, personality and gifts God gave him. Before Christ, he used them in the wrong way. After Christ, he became a zealot for Christ. I was relieved to realize that although I should always be challenged to be more passionate for Christ, my passion does not have to look like Paul's because God did not make me the same way he did Paul.

And God did not create me like a Jennifer Moore or a Steve Hammond, either. Once I could realize my attempt at something did not have to look like somebody else's, I could truly search my heart and find something great to attempt. And when I did this, I found I was already attempting something great. I am attempting to make (good and happy) lasting memories for my family so that my wife's life will be richer and my daughter can grow up to reach the full potential God has for her.

To some, that may not seem very grandiose. But stop and think for a minute. What if every parent in the world had that same goal/desire in life? For one thing, kids would not grow up feeling unloved. For another, schools (both public and private) would be more effective and safer places of education because parents would be involved. Crime rates would be lower because kids would be with their families more. The divorce rate would be lower because parents would be thinking about somebody besides themselves (some people think only about themselves, others are the victims of those who think this way) and maybe the moral vacuum wouldn't be so great in this country because values are passed on when families spend time together. I cannot make every kid in the world feel loved, I cannot do homework with everybody's kid, I cannot pick up every kid from school and spend time with them so they do not join a gang, and I cannot keep every marriage in America together...but I can do those things for my family. I'm spending time with my wife and daughter...and I am making lasting memories. I am making a difference in the life of my wife, my daughter and generations to come through my daughter's family. I am changing the world...at least the part I can influence. To me, that is something great.

So in my attempt to make a difference, to make Jesus smile and to build lasting memories with my family, I must sign off for now. It's almost time to go make another memory today. Amanda doesn't know it yet, but we are going to the circus in less than an hour. We're going with tickets another friend gave us. You don't have to be rich to accomplish great (i.e. important) things..I'm using free circus tickets to make a lasting memory with my family.

- Rob

(to be continued)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Being a Pastor's Kid Has Its Perks

Being a pastor's kid has its ups and downs. Amanda enjoyed the ups and downs of being a pastor's kid tonight...up and down bouncing in the jump house! We are getting ready for a Block Party at the church tomorrow night and I had to set up the jump house tonight to make sure it would fit in the sanctuary. It did fit and this gave Amanda something fun to do while I did some other work. Sometimes being a pastor's kid has it's perks!

- Rob