- from my journaling time this evening
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Wow, things have changed a bit since you first came to the church and gave Pastor David that 85 page prospectus on children's ministry. Of course, I remember it because I got to type it up being secretary and all. And you know, the thing that makes this all OK now is I KNOW, with your meticulous filing system, you have kept that thing through all these years and are taking it with you as a treasured memory of working at the church. Maybe you stuck it right next to that nice poster you did for me of the comparative worldviews...oh wait, that one is still in your head!
Yeah, there's lots of stuff I could harass you about. I do wish I had been at Wal-Mart with the first, and now-famous, taped envelope. I don't know if I ever got to thank you properly for the opportunity to dance to Getting to Know You at that kids' camp World Wide Witness did. Thanks so much. And I guess the classic phone call from the marquee will go down in the books now, too. What was that word you were trying to spell? Whatever it was, just remember it was spelled OK.
You were my staff compadre through the years. You helped come up with fun staff activities...alternatives to bowling every time! You were the only one who went along with my pranks on Harry. World Wide Witness has lots of fond memories and going to the Liberty Fellowship family conference with the Sweaty Mommas. I guess we wouldn't know what Whirlyball was it if wasn't for you, too.
And then there's the stuff I learned from you. If I EVER needed ANYTHING, you were the one to ask. I guess you've been to every specialty shop in the Metroplex. One of the most important things I learned from you was how to delegate and equip people for ministry. I've read lots about it and have been taught it, but you were always good at finding people's gifts and then finding a way for them to use those gifts. You found people I never would have thought of, and that both challenged me and encouraged me to try and do the same.
To be any good, every ministry needs a right brain person as a part of the team. Since I'm about as left brained as they come, you added a LOT to my youth ministry. Thank you for the Wednesdays you threw something together for me on the computer because I did not get the idea until after lunch that day. As I was cleaning out my youth office, I found the torch you made...the one I borrowed about five years ago to speak at a Bible club. If it's any consolation, I shared that message 3 or 4 times and used the torch every time. A lot of people thought Duckalien was OK, but I thought it was GREAT! And I couldn't have been Uncle Sam without your help. I've still got the notes from our Titanic night that I've got to scan and give you a copy of, but that would never have happened without you either. I still look in awe at the one wall in the youth building (and the best part is, you used an overhead to get it started!). The youth building had a lot of your creative input in it. Had it not been for you, I guess it would still be black and white with blue carpet.
Out of all the fond memories, the things I learned from you and the fun times, the thing I am going to miss the most about you not being around all the time is your friendship. Over the years, other staff people had ideas for my ministry, but you were one of the few I felt like was in my corner when you had ideas. I guess that was it...you had ideas more than suggestions. Same thing...they just feel different when people share them. You were always a huge encourager and always remembered to ask me how something went after you knew I had planned and worked hard on it. It was always a great encouragement to have somebody I respected in ministry supporting what I was doing.
Several years ago I realized this day would come...they day you would move on to a different ministry. It is the way God gifted you, and I think anybody who knows you thinks this is a God thing. I'm going to miss you being around and your friendship, but I pray God's absolute best for you. I believe in you and believe God is going to use you mightily. If you ever get to an overwhelming place and wonder if you've done the right thing, remember there are people at the Vine who know you, believe in you and believe you've heard from God. He's got a lot of people to bless through your ministry, and I'm thankful to have known you and been blessed by your ministry all these years.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
When I got there, I found out the title of the seminar was "Communion with God" and the theme was more about how to hear God's voice. When we went to pick up Amanda who had stayed with my parents Friday night and Saturday, my Dad asked me if there was any "simple" thing they taught us about hearing God's voice. I told him "yes" and shared what we learned.
Hearing God's voice is as simple as:
- Stilling myself
- Fixing my eyes on Jesus
- Tuning in to spontaneity (spontaneous thoughts)
- Write it down
I want to share just one journaling exercise we did. This is pretty personal stuff, and I don't think I will be publishing any more of my journaling time with the Lord, but I want share how awesome this is. The idea to this type of journaling is, keep writing and don't stop. When you are done, you can look at what you wrote and judge if it is from the Lord (or have some close personal friends help you judge).
Here is just one question I asked the Lord, and the response I believed I received from him. I pictured myself walking with the Lord along the beach. I asked him, "Lord, how do you want me to use what I am learning at this conference?" Immediately, I felt "spontaneous thoughts" and started writing. "Rob, you've been reading, thinking and journaling about loving me/living for me from your heart and not from rules. This is a way you can hear what I'm speaking to your heart. I have given you a new heart, I have come to live in your heart when you invited me in. You think too much when you pray, you don't give me an opportunity like this where you are quiet and let me talk. You are my son, and I love you. When you ask for guidance and direction in life, I am not going to ignore you. When Amanda asks you for a drink, even when you don't want to get up, you do it, don't you? Why? Because you love her and you know she is dependent on you. Guess what...I love you and I know you are dependent on me, too. If you will come to me, and sit with me, I will talk to you and answer the questions you have. How else can we have relationship? When you pray, you talk too much. I want you to bring stuff to me, but don't be like Amanda going to the park and talking so much you can't answer her questions or enter into the conversation with her. And it's good for you to picture these peaceful scenes with me. If you want to hear me speak, you need to get away from where you live your too bust life. Next time, let's talk about your busy life and what you can do to better know my peace. (then I pictured Jesus laughing) You had no idea what this conference was going to be about, did you? Guess what? I did! I love you and hope you will use this to spend more time with me."
Thursday, April 21, 2005
When I read this the other day, I thought "Wow, this makes it sound like God chooses not to reveal Himself to some people." And this seemed contradictory to the Gospel (Good News) message. And then I thought about a group of people who helped clarify this verse for me in context of the whole teaching of Scripture.
In internet chat rooms, I have talked with people about the Lord. They have "arguments" that they feel disproves Christianity or at least makes it look inconsistent. And I have gotten excited at times like this because I have an "answer" to their question, objection, argument or whatever. But then I go from being excited to being frustrated because no matter how effective the answer to their question, objection or argument, they won't change their mind. I got to the point where I wanted to ask, "OK, if I answer or disprove what you just said, will you quit arguing and admit the Bible is right?" I never said it that way, but these "debaters" wouldn't quit debating anyway. I was so frustrated because the answer to their questions was right there in front of them, but they could not see it.
And then I came across Hebrews 11:6 again. "So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." (NLT) Christianity doesn't "make sense" unless one is willing to take that first step of faith toward God. The more I study the arguments of the critics of Christianity, the more sure of my faith I am...the more it "makes sense." But I took that first step of faith. If one could debate somebody into Christianity, there would be no need for faith. And, as Hebrews says, without faith, it is impossible to please God.
2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent. (NLT) So coming full circle, God doesn't want anyone to die not knowing Him, but He chooses not to reveal Himself to anyone outside of that initial first step of faith. Once we take that first step of faith saying, "God, I believe you are there. Reveal yourself to me", He will.
By the way, I got my screen name, e-mail address, blog address, etc from Hebrews 11:6 because of the impact this verse had on me after talking to these "professional debaters" ... Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. I had to add the "17" because "seekhim" was taken. My birthday is on the 17th of the month.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Today, I went to the mailbox and found what looked to be a check from one of Brooke's doctors. They had already told us we had overpaid something in the past, so I was looking forward to an extra $20-$30 to help out with something this week. Imagine my surprise when I saw they check was for almost $550! Thank you, Jesus!! We will be able to put a good chunk down on Brooke's mission trip to Nicaragua, get me some shoes, Amanda some clothes, the dogs some heartworm medicine and a few other things we really needed to get.
God IS Good...ALL THE TIME!
Friday, April 15, 2005
When I bought my previous laptop, I was given the "extended warranty speech" at Best Buy. Like I said, I'm not a big fan of the extended warranty, but since I bought the thing on credit, I hated the idea of something happening to it and not having the money to fix it while I was still paying for it, so I bought the exteded warranty. Sure enough, two years later, the thing quit working. I took it in to Best Buy, they mailed it to a processing center, who mailed it to the place that fixed it, who mailed it back to the processing center, who mailed it back to the store. As you might imagine, this was not a quick process. When they told me what was wrong, the guy at the customer service desk said something that stuck with me. I had asked if the problem I had with that laptop (a Compaq) was a known problem for that model. The guy said, "I don't know if that was a known problem or not...all I know is this. It doesn't matter what kind of laptop you have, something can go wrong. I've seen EVERY brand of laptop come through here."
About a year ago, I gave that laptop to a missionary friend of mine (complete with the transferable extended warranty) and bought a Dell. I did not get the top of the line system, but I got a pretty nice one. When it came time to decide on a warranty, I bit the bullet and went all the way. I paid for 3 years AT HOME service and got the fourth year free. This kind of warranty cost over $300, but again, buying the machine on credit, I did not want it to go down while I was still paying for it.
Well, guess what. This past week, my extended warranty MORE THAN paid for itself. The computer started acting up on battery power...if I bumped it, it went off. Things kept getting worse, so I called Dell. While I was on hold (yet another story) it went down and would not boot back up. After an hour on the phone with technical support, I was told they would come to my house and fix it. You can read my post about Dell technical support, but the short version is, if I did not have my warranty, it would have cost me $900 to get my computer fixed! Thanks to the extended warranty, it didn't cost me a dime and I am back up and running. Thank the Lord for extended warranties.
You can see a picture of my laptop all taken apart by the technician who replaced the motherboard, processor and heat sync fan in 30 minutes!
It all started when I purchased this laptop a little over a year ago. I purchased a three year, at home, extended warranty. By buying the three year warranty, Dell threw in the fourth year "free". I was told if I called one day, the next business day someone would be at my house fixing the computer.
My problems started about a week before I called, but I called Dell technical support last Wednesday. I believe I was on hold for about 10 minutes before I could talk to a real person...and here is where the adventure began. I consider myself a NON-prejudice person (does anybody consider themselves prejudice?), but it does frustrate me when the person offering me assistance has such a think accent that I have a hard time understanding them. I hate to have to ask them to repeat what they said over and over again.
Dealing with technical support on this issue over three days time, it became apparent that Dell (literally) sends it's technical support calls to India (Bangalor, India to be exact)! When I used tech chat, I was told I was speaking to Raghavendra, but I could call him "James". But I'm getting ahead of myself.
On Wednesday, I tried calling technical support but got tired of being on hold for so long. The Dell website recommends using tech chat, so I got in line for that. Sure enough, I got somebody online before a technician answered the phone (my laptop was working at this time). Only problem with online chat tech support when you are chatting with the problem computer...if you have to reboot, you lose tech support. So I had to end up calling back on the phone. An hour later, as my computer went down never to come back on, it was decided my motherboard, processor and heat sync fan would be replaced under warranty. I was told I would receive a call within 48 hours to schedule a time for a tech to come to my home and fix the computer. At this point, I questioned 48 hours since I was told, when I purchased the warranty, that I should have service the next business day. At this point, I was assured I would have my next day service.
Thursday. Heard nothing from Dell all day. Called around 3pm and told them I had heard nothing. They told me I had a "dispatch number" and could expect a call soon.
Friday morning. Realizing that I would be without my computer all weekend if I did not get a tech to my house that day, I called Dell again. While I was on hold, the recording again suggested online tech support chat. I used my wife's laptop and went online while I was on hold. I finally came to realize if it was possible to use chat, this was a better alternative. For one thing, it was quicker. Secondly, the tech support people in India talk with a VERY thick accent, but you just don't hear it reading their response on the screen. Anyway, I was given a number of the company that was supposed to dispatch someone to my location and I called them. Guess what? They had no record of my dispatch number, and even checking by area code, they were not able to find anything.
Another call (make that "online chat") to Dell. This time, I chatted with "Charles" in India. He was able to help me after making a few calls from his end. They ended up giving my case to a different company. I told "Charles" I wanted to use my cell phone number as the contact number (so the company could schedule a time to fix my computer) and was told he had already given them the phone number they had on file for me (which happened to be my work number). I asked him to change the contact phone number since I was not going to work that day (Friday is my day off). He told me I would have to do that myself and gave me the phone number to call.
So I then called Qualxserv to ask them to change my contact number. After being on hold for 10 minutes, they picked up the phone and I explained why I was calling. I was then told I would need to talk to a Dell representative instead and was transferred BACK to Dell.
By this time, I knew that chat was faster, so I opened yet another chat window with Dell. When I got somebody, I hung up the phone (still on hold). After another 10 minute chat, I was told the contact number was changed. Actually, it was not. Fortunately, Pastor figured out what the call was about when Qualxserv called the church to reach me, and he gave them my phone number. They called, showed up Friday and replaced the motherboard, processor and heat sync fan in 30 minutes.
I am pleased with the end result...Dell did fix my laptop under warranty and my warranty more than paid for itself. I was a bit put out having to spend two additional hours on the phone or online chatting just go get the technician out, but the most frustrating thing to me was shipping my call to India. I honestly don't think I am prejudice against Indians, but since I bought my laptop in the US, I'd rather talk to somebody who has learned English as their primary language and who I can understand without having to ask them to repeat something three times. Dell did right by me, but I sure wish they wouldn't outsource to India.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
"Churches must have the courage to win influence back from a secular world. The role of the Christian churches...today is to speak the truth in love... We have accepted the secular world's verdict that we have nothing of importance to say, and we have adjusted ourselves to this reality. We have become domesticated... Instead of explaining and defending the Gospel, we have sought the path of relevance... The Christian Gospel is the insertion of truth into the untrustworthy discourse of the world. Some of us want to be kind, so loving that we will not speak the truth. The therapeutic model of pastoral care has been perverted into mere affirmations of human behavior. Our love is not love, for it refuses this great test: will it speak boldly, frankly, truthfully?... One of the chief reasons why we have ceased to speak the truth is we are fearful of the reaction of those around us... We have contributed towards the gagging of God, perhaps because we are frightened of suffering. But there is one fundamental task to which we must be committed, come whatever may: Speak the truth in love."
Thursday, April 07, 2005
So before this guy came to help, I headed to the hardware store to pick up a hold saw to cut the hole for the lock. While I was there, I found this "kit" (similar to this) that made it look like an idiot-proof job. When I shared with our secretary that the clamp made the job look idiot-proof, she "encouraged" me by asking, "What if the job is idiot-proof and you still mess up?" Anyway, the kit was a clamp that clamped onto the door and showed you where to drill the hole for key part of the lock on the side of the door, and showed you where to drill the hole on the end of the door for the lock part to slide in and out. It worked great! I had never really used a chisel for anything useful before, but I chiseled out the spots for the plates (our sound/techie guy helped 'cause he was there) and it all came out good.
Like I said, no big deal, but for a not-so-handy guy, it was a small victory today.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
The conference started on Suday moring and we heard from a number of our missionaries. We continued on Sunday night and heard from everybody. Sandy Carter from Nicaragua met for lunch on Monday with the team going to work with her for a few days this summer (Brooke is heading up the team and eager to go). Monday night the ladies met a Spaghetti Warehouse, enjoyed a good meal and heard from our missionary ladies. During this time, the missionary men, their hosts and staff ("the guys") met at someone's home form the church who fixed us some GREAT burgers!
On Tuesday, the staff went out with the missionaries to the Ft. Worth Botanical Gardens (see pictures below) and then to the Ft. Worth Stock Yards for some good 'ol Texas BBQ. Tuesday night, the men met at Spaghetti Warehouse and heard from our missionary men.
The conference ended Wednesday night with all the missionaries sharing once more and then the congregation having a chance to pray over them (after giving them a standing ovation as they came forward). We (our church) love our missionaries, thank God for them, pray for them and continue to add to our support list every year. Our theme this year was "God is not willing that any should perish"..and that is our church's heart.
I've posted 60 something pictures here...of the conference, the men on Monday night, the stock yards and the botanical gardens with the missionaries if you are interested.
1) the day you were born
2) the day you understood why you were born.
- Pastor Kirk Pankratz
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Dirk is kinda hard to describe in just a few words, but I don't think he'd mind being described as "excited for Jesus"...better yet, EXCITED FOR JESUS!!! Dirk is what you might call an "unconventional" kinda guy. Everything about Dirk points others to Jesus. He's got a pinstripe suit and the pinstripes spell "Jesus". Or look at the outfit he has on in the picture with me (below)...it tells the whole Gospel message. Dirk has been known to "talk to God" on his daughter's play phone (he just so happens to be in a large crowd when he does this, and the Lord inevitably tells Dirk how much He wants those listening in on the conversation to know of His love for them). He loves to stand up on a ladder and preach to crowds on the street corner, or walk down the street wrapped in a ball and chain demonstrating how Jesus set him free from the bondage of sin. Dirk would have to be the epitome of the whole idea of being an evangelist.
But I'm not writing about Dirk tonight because of the cool things he does...ok, not JUST for the cool things he does. I'm writing about Dirk because I admire him. I think he has everything I lack in the area of boldness. I know his brand of evangelism is not the only way to do it, but if God had given me a different personality, I would want one like Dirk's.
When you are as outspoken about Christ as Dirk is, you can imagine there are a lot of people who do not like him and give him a hard time wherever he goes. He's been yelled at, cussed at, spit on and arrested while trying to tell others about Christ. I guess you should expect that if you are going to be as bold for God as Dirk is, but I guess another reason Dirk is special to me is because of the flak he takes from other Christians. He'll tell a "funny story" every now-and-then about some Christian who has gotten upset with his style of evangelism, but I also know there are some churches who won't support him because he's too "wild". I just admire the guy. I don't have the guts to do what he does, but he is ALWAYS thinking of way to present a witness for Christ. I would dare to say that most Christians/pastors/churches who criticize Dirk have not witnessed to as many people as Dirk has led to the Lord (let alone the THOUSANDS he has been a witness to).
God gives us all different personalities and gifts, and I've finally learned to appreciate the way God shaped me. We're all unique, but God definitely broke the mold with Dirk...and I just want to say "thank you Lord for Dirk Wood!" I really enjoyed spending time with Dirk and his family (along with our other missionaries) during our conference this year. Dirk is always good for a laugh and a HUGE challenge to me in the area of being a witness for Christ. God bless Dirk!
Saturday, April 02, 2005
The only down side to so much nice, warm weather is the fact that the grass grows. I do not enjoy yard work. For those of you who don't consider riding a riding lawn mower to be "yard work", I don't really enjoy that either. It's not that the job is so difficult, I've just got other things I'd rather be doing. This is the second time I've had to mow in 2005.
"So what would you rather be do"? Thanks for asking. There are a number of things (a GREAT number of things) I'd rather do than mow my yard...like spend time with Amanda Kay. Well, in Texas, we not only have great weather, but we also are known to be a little smarter than the average non-Texan (non-scientific study). So what you see below is my compromise between doing what I WANT to do and what I HAVE to do.