Tuesday, January 31, 2006

If We Would Just Listen

Pretty gross picture, huh? This is a picture of Daren Davis, described as "an innocent bystander" who was hit in the lip by a Dallas police pepper ball gun (story on wfaa.com here, you have to sign in to read the article, but it's free).

According to Mr. Davis, he and a friend were walking out of a bar where police were trying to break up a fight and he was hit in the lip by a pepper ball fired by the police. The police claim that Davis' lip was split when another suspect fell into him and hit Davis' lip with his head.

I was talking to a police officer friend about this incident. I told him I did not buy the "somebody hit you in the mouth with his head story." My friend said that could be the case, but he also gave me something else to think about. If there was a big fight going on outside the bar, why didn't the guy move away from the fight instead of going over to where it was when police were already struggling to break up the fight? Maybe he was an innocent bystander, but maybe he would not have been hit {innocently} if he had stayed out of the way and let the police handle what was already a difficult situation.

Who's right, I don't know. I can't find a follow up article, but I thought about Darren Davis this morning when I read "Do not join a crowd that intends to do evil..." from Exodus 23:2. I know a lot of people who take no heed to this simple warning. We wouldn't think of joining in a group who was planning to assassinate the President of the United States, but how many Christian teens have "joined in a crowd" who have vandalized property (even if they themselves did nothing) or as an adult, joined in a crowd who was causing a disturbance.

I wasn't there when Darren Davis got shot, so I can't pass judgment on his actions, but he did walk toward the fight "to see what was going on". Even from his account, had he walked the other way, it seems he may have avoided this incident. Was he to blame? Perhaps not, but the whole incident just reminded how practical God's Word is everyday...if we would just listen.

- Rob

Saturday, January 28, 2006

That's the Way I Like It

Had a great night tonight. Well, it was not as perfect as it could have been because Brooke was out of town for a children's ministry conference, but we tried to make do while she was gone. Amanda and I invited George over for dinner tonight. We had grilled chicken, baked potatoes, green beans and lemon icebox pie (mmmm, mmmm, mmmm). We then spent a little time on the computer trying to figure out some of George's e-mail problems. After that, the three of us played pigs and chickens (a dice game) which George won.

George went home around 8:30pm, so since it was still "early in the evening", I called the guys who I play Friday night poker with (Texas Hold 'Em) and asked somebody to come pick us up. I played poker and Amanda played with a friend at the same house. The guys played three games for the night and I got in on the last two. I don't know if you're dying to know how I did, but I'm dying to tell you...I won both of the games I played (we play just for chips, no money involved). I think I played solidly, but my gut feeling did well for me tonight and the cards were definitely helping me out. I won the last game on the river...got two nines to go with the one in my hand. At the flop, the guy I was playing was beating me Jacks over nines and kept his lead until the river. Wow...two for two tonight. That's the way I like it!

- Rob

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Been There, Done That

My friend's husband is always telling her that housekeeping would be a snap if only she would organize her time better. Recently he had a chance to put his theory into practice while his wife was away.

When I popped in one evening to see how he was managing, he crowed, "I made a cake, frosted it, washed the kitchen windows, cleaned all the cupboards, scrubbed the kitchen floor, walls and ceiling and even had a bath."

I was about to concede that perhaps he was a better manager than his wife, when he added sheepishly, "When I was making the chocolate frosting, I forgot to turn off the mixer before taking the beaters out of the bowl, so I had to do all the rest."
Love may be blind
but marriage is a real eye-opener!

-- Anonymous

Beyond the Crisis

Another article I read in Focus on the Family Magazine. It is a story about a married woman who walked through a crisis in her life. Beyond the Crisis is a story about a woman who became pregnant as the result of rape and how she and her husband made it through.

- Rob

Two Good To Be True

I found this funny article "a humorous look at the consequences of cloning" in the January 2006 issue of Focus on the Family Magaizne. The artcile is entitled Two Good to be True. If you've got three minutes to read, it's a good laugh (especially if you're married).

- Rob

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Gift of Faith

I've heard people talk about the "gift of faith", and it's usually along the lines of being able to believe that God wants to make you rich. That's an over-simplified explanation of the teaching, but when the same thing is taught week after week, it pretty much boils down to that. I guess because I've heard too much prosperity teaching around this phrase "gift of faith", and because I believe it is so often taught out of balance, I have not really studies what it really means. I was reading in Matthew this week, and I came across Matthew 13:12-17 and it gave me a new perspective:

To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don't really see. They hear what I say, but they don't really hear, and they don't understand. 14This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, which says:

`You will hear my words,
but you will not understand;
you will see what I do,
but you will not perceive its meaning.

For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes--
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.'

16"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17I assure you, many prophets and godly people have longed to see and hear what you have seen and heard, but they could not. (NLT)

This whole passage starts out "To those who are open to my teaching...". How did I become open to the teachings of Christ? Is it because I was smarter than the average person? No. Is it because I was better or more holy than the average person? No. Was it because I was in the right place at the right time? No. It was because I was given the GIFT of faith. God gave me faith to believe. And once I took that initial step of faith, a lot of my questions could be answered. But I have encountered many people along the road of life who cannot accept the claims of Christ because they expect all their questions to be answered first...they fear taking even one step in faith.

Over the years, I have talked to and debated with people from all different religions and non-religions. They ask questions of the Bible and of Christianity, and I've tried to answer them. And the most frustrating thing I found was, no matter how many questions I answered or arguments I rebutted, it was never enough. I got the point where I wanted to say, "If I answer this question or prove your argument wrong, will you turn your life over to Christ?" But they never would...there was always one more question or one more, "Okay, but what about...".

Hebrews 11:6 says, 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) These are the Scriptures that give rise to the predestination arguments, and I'm not wanting to go there now. But the gift of faith certainly encompasses more than the prosperity message. The gift of faith is what makes our relationship with Christ possible,and I am thankful for it in my life.

- Rob

It Just Didn't Do It For Me

Brooke and I went out for my birthday Friday night. We used a Christmas present we had received from friends...a gift card to Saltgrass Steak House and a movie card. Brooke let me pick the movie since it was for my birthday, and I (unfortunately) chose Munich.

I'm not a movie critic, and actually, who cares what a movie critic has to say anyway? I like the kind of movies I like and you like the kind of movies you like and critics like the kinds of movies they like, I guess. But having said all of that, I really did NOT enjoy the movie, and neither did Brooke for that matter. I guess the main problem was the movie was just too long for me. Thus, the story moved along too slowly and there was not enough action (although "action stuff" happened, it was too far in between). I don't know...it just didn't do it for me.

- Rob


If you live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, you may have seen an advertisement for USDTV. They advertise as "TV for People". Their advertised price of $19.95/month for digital TV got my attention, so I checked them out. Digital TV is a signal that is received through an antenna, run into a set top box to convert it into a digital signal and then sent to your TV. Since the signal is digital, the picture is as clear as cable or satellite. For $19.95/month I get 40 channels (all local channels, local high definition channels, a couple radar channels and ESPN 1 & 2, Fox News Channel, Disney, Disney Toons, Discovery Channel {my favorite}, The Learning Channel, Home and Garden TV, Food Channel and two other cable channels I don't remember right now).

The company is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah and has expanded into markets in Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and Dallas/Ft. Worth. In other markets they also offer high speed internet and internet phone (VoIP). I'm hoping these will soon expand to the DFW market.

The company is new and seems to be taking off like a rocket in DFW which has caused a few problems. It took a visit from two third-party installers and finally an "official" USDTV quality assurance supervisor to get my system installed and working properly, but every time I contacted the office in Salt Lake City, they were prompt in responding to me, asking what they could do to make up for my inconvenience and throwing in a few perks here and there for the hassle. They need to work on getting more people up to speed with the installation/technical support end of it, but they know it, are working on it and did a great job of taking care of me once I told them of the problems I was having. They claim that customer service is important to them, and they put action to their words in my case.

If you live in the DFW area and would like something similar to "cable lite", you might want to check out USDTV. I'm happy with them. If you decide to try it, contact me first. I'll help you get in touch with the local USDTV people instead of a third party installer. And to be totally honest, I could get a free month of programming for referring you and that would be nice, too.

- Rob

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Jack is Back...

...and all is as it should be in the world. Actually, no. Russian terrorists have taken hostages at the airport and are trying to stop a peace agreement between our President and the Russian president, former President Palmer has been assassinated, Michelle Dessler is dead and Tony Almedia is in surgery. The world is not as it should be and we need Jack...and Jack is back!


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Compromise has a way of destroying convictions.
Without convictions, there is no direction.
And lack of direction will destroy life.

- Student Life Application Bible

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Very Good Penmanship

We just finished doing homework for the night and now it's time to go read before bedtime, but Amanda worked so hard on her sentences that I told her we needed to take a picture and put it on the blog. Bless her heart, her hand hurts every time she writes because she grips her pencil so firmly. I suggested she not hold it so tight, but she told me that is what helps her write neatly.
(Clicking on the picture enlarges it)


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Our Nightly Routine

This is the first part of our nightly routine...I read to Amanda.
Right now we are reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

This seems to have become the second part of our nightly routine...we all fall asleep!

Sunday, January 08, 2006


When my nephew and his family lived on a farm, one of his favorite farm cats was involved in an accident and was killed while he was away at school.

Naturally, my sister was very concerned over how her son was going to receive the bad news. When he arrived home from school, she explained the tragedy to him and tried to console him by saying, "Don't worry son, the cat is in heaven with God now."

My nephew replied, "What's God gonna do with a dead cat?"

January - God's Fresh Start Month

1. Stop making excuses
    • Quit blaming others and making yourself the victim. Others may hurt and/or scar you, but YOU are the only person who can ruin your life.
    • Learn to say "It's my fault."
    • People who are good at making excuses are rarely good at anything else.
    • Proverbs.28:13 - A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them he gets another chance.
2. Act in faith
  • From Matt. 9 - According to your faith it will be done to you
  • A pity party is the antithesis of faith
  • God never promised that life would be fair
  • The more time we spend regretting the past, the more of our future is wasted
3. Refocus
  • Primarily our thoughts/the way we think
  • Proverbs 4:23 - Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life (CEV)
  • God is more interested in my future than in my past
  • The way you think determines the way you feel. And the way you feel determines the way you act.
  • Romans 12:2 - Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. (NLT)
  • The longer I dwell on the past, the longer the past will hurt me
  • Focus on God's Word
4. Trust
  • Trust God to help you and don't depend on yourself
  • Trust God to help you do it differently
  • Definition of "insanity" - doing the same thing, the same way and expecting to get different results
WHY PEOPLE FAIL (REASONS FOR FAILURE) 1. We don't prepare ourselves for the problems we are going to face in life
  • Proverbs 27:12 - A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. (NLT)
2. We don't listen to others
  • Proverbs 15:? - Plans fail without good advice
  • EGO - Edging God Out
  • The person who gets too big for their britches will exposed in the end!
3. We give up too soon
  • Proverbs 24:10 - If you give up when troubles come, it just show that you are weak.
  • Every time something goes wrong in your life, it is an "education". Thomas Edison had many such "educations" before he came to the right material for his light bulb filament.

From "January - God's Fresh Start Month" by Pastor David. Vine Fellowship, January 8, 2006

A Good Investment

We got away for a staff retreat this weekend, and this is the first time in I can't remember how many years that ALL of our staff got to go. We've got a number of part-time staff members who have other jobs, but we purposely did a weekend retreat (Friday-Saturday) so that everybody could go. It was a great time together.

We left around 3:30pm on Friday and got to the retreat center around 5pm. We unpacked, rested and then had an overview of the weekend and talked about writing/rewriting our job descriptions. Next was dinner, and after that there was time for worship and then a time of teaching.

Next it was time for my favorite time of our retreats...we take turns praying for and encouraging one another. We pick a person and start praying for them allowing for words from the Holy Spirit as well. This prayer time really helps build team unity. The Lord had a word for me about where he was taking my ministry this year and it was a great encouragement as what was shared just served to confirm what the Lord had already laid on my heart. We laughed together, cried together and generally grew closer as a team.

After that, it was time for my second favorite time at our staff retreats...late night games! This year we played Texas Hold 'Em...and Pastor David won!! Of course, we played just for chips and not for money, but we had a great time.

On Saturday we had a wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage and gravy. For those, unlike me, who preferred something healthy, they also offered cereal, grapefruit and yogurt. After breakfast we had a meeting and talked about what it means to work together as a team. Our last task for the weekend was our "year in review" in which we looked at what we did well in 2005 and what we didn't do so well in an effort to do better in 2006. We looked at what it was time to let go of and what it was time to start.

I've come back from the retreat with renewed vision for my ministry and job, and I feel a closer bond to the team I work/minister with. This weekend was a good time investment in our church and in each other.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Not In My Ability

God desires dependence, trust, and faith in him...not in my ability to please him.

- Notes on Abraham's life in Students Life Application Bible

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Lots of Variety

It's been an interesting week this week. I still haven't written out my job description (after 9 months in my new position), but here's a little of the variety I've had the past few days:
  • Count offering
  • Rake 40 bags of leaves with George (this picture shows just some of the bags)
  • Visit a different Life Group (I oversee small groups)
  • Meet our church insurance agent for lunch at Khaki's to go over our policies for this year
  • Write the pastor's corner for the bulletin this week
  • Update the church web page several times
  • Drive the church bus to pick up and drop off students for youth group (this is a weekly Daddy/Amanda routine)
- Rob

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Transport Blimp/Plane Hybrid

Cool blimp hybrid idea. Check out the story here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bitterness Ate My Lunch Today

My Pastor preached a sermon MANY years ago entitled Bitterness Will Eat Your Lunch. I don't remember every point from the sermon, but I do remember him talking about how being bitter/mad/upset with somebody will eat your lunch because you are so upset about what they have done even though they are no longer there doing it. I've seen bitterness eat other people's lunch, and today it ate mine. One person I know is being a jerk about something that affects both me and other people, but it seems I am the only one willing to call them on it. There's only so much one can say without also becoming a jerk, so I have to keep my mouth shut now. I knew I should just let it go, but for some reason I stewed over it most of the afternoon...and let bitterness eat my lunch. And of course, this happened today right after I made one of my goals for the year to be more of a people person, to value relationship and try to love (genuinely) those who do things differently than I do! So whether it is God testing me, the devil tempting me or my flesh just acting out, I lost the battle today. But tonight, I am choosing to forgive and not loose the war. Why do we get upset over such stupid things?

But on a more positive note, I had an enjoyable racquetball game this morning. I got to play cut throat (three people) with two guys who are better than me. Of course I did not win, but it really helps me play better when I get to play guys better than me.

And then there is the weather. Typical of Texas, after having some of the coldest weather on record that one week in December, we got up to 83 degrees today. Now that Christmas is over, that is fine with me...especially after we got our MONSTER gas bill last week. "They" predicted that heating fuel prices would go up 60%, and that's what happened! So, any day I don't have to run my heater is a good day in my book.

So overall, today is a good day. I'm getting ready to eat dinner with my family, somebody just called and wants to take my wife shopping tonight (spend their money on her!), Amanda will read to me then we'll read some from The Magician's Nephew (first book in Chronicles of Narnia series) and I'll get to chill out to some smooth jazz and read a bit myself before bed. Silly bitterness...it got my lunch today, but that's all it's gonna get!

- Rob

Monday, January 02, 2006

Responding the Right Way

"Why are you so angry?" the Lord asked him. "Why do you look so dejected" You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it." (Genesis 4:6-7, NLT)

This is what God said to Cain when Cain was upset that his offering was not accepted by God while the offering of his brother Abel was accpeted. We're not told exactly why Cain's offering was not acceptable, but here are a few things I learned from these two verses:

I can be accepted by God even if my initial action is unacceptable...if I respond the right way. In other words, even if I blow it, God allows me a second chance. I just have to respond the right way.

It is this responding the right way that is a problem for many people. They don't want to hear "your way is not the right way", and they are not willing to change and do things God's way. In our culture today, we would say, "Abel gave one offering and Cain gave another. Each gave what he felt he should give, therefore they are both equally acceptable offerings." For whatever reason, God said Cain's offering was not acceptable...and there was the rub. I am trying to make wiser decisions than Cain did. If God says my actions are unacceptable, but I can still be acceptable to Him if I respond correctly, I choose to repent and change my actions. The consequences of not responding this way are too great..."But
if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it."

- Rob

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Walkin' With Jesus One Year

Amanda Kay,

Mommy & Daddy are very proud of your decision to give your heart to Jesus. Happy one year birthday with Jesus!

January 1, 2006