Thursday, January 24, 2013

Aquarium Stand

During the Preach Better Sermons conference I attended in Duncanville today, Dad called saying he had finished staining the aquarium stand he was building for me and wondered if I could look at it. Since we were so close, I asked Philip if we could stop by on the way home and look at it. Here's how it looks so far.

I was so impressed with it, I couldn't help but think that he could sell these things. They would not be cheap because of the materials and the hours involved in making it, but I thought that people who buy expensive fish tanks might be willing to buy quality stands to make their tanks look better. I stopped by The True Percula, the fish store we recently discovered, tonight and asked them if they might be interested in selling quality, custom-built aquarium stands. The lady I spoke with suggested I email this picture to her along with contact information which she could pass along to the manager. I don't know where this might or might not go, but here is the email I sent this evening.

Hello {name},

My name is Rob Hurt and I spoke to you briefly Wednesday night about True Percula's possible interest in selling custom aquarium stands. You asked me to send my picture and information to you so that you could forward it to the store owner as he is the one who would make those kind of decisions.

We bought a 10 gallon aquarium for our daughter a few months ago and I just purchased all the supplies for a 29 gallon tank. My dad is making a stand for it and I'm anxious to get started. My wife, daughter and I have just discovered The True Percula and have stopped in several times asking newbie questions, looking at fish we would like to put in our tank and buying a few supplies.

My dad has enjoyed wood working for as long as I can remember. I remember him making complete chess sets (board and all the pieces) when I was a child. For the past several years, he has done contract work for a taxidermist in the Duncanville area making mounting plaques as well as several custom pieces of furniture such as gun racks, display shelves and a cabinet for displaying elephant tusks.

I stopped by my parents' house this afternoon and saw the stand my Dad is making. It is beautiful and will make the new aquarium a nice centerpiece in our living room. When I saw the the quality and beauty of the cabinet this afternoon, I couldn't help but think there are people who would appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of a stand like this and would want one to accent the tank they spend a lot of time and money putting together.  Knowing the quality of your store, I thought of The True Percula and your customers.

I just mentioned this idea to my Dad today so he is still working out the actual time and cost of building the stand as well as what he would like to sell them for (I am guessing it will be in the $300 price range), but I stopped by the store today with an in-the-works picture to see if you might be interested in seeing the finished product. I thought perhaps your store would be interested in displaying a stand with contact information for my Dad. Any sales made through the store would pay a commission, or you could buy them outright and re-sell them.

I am not asking for a commitment to buy or do business with us. I have a full-time job as assistant pastor at Vine Fellowship church here in Arlington so I'm not a high-pressure salesman. This is just an offer if you are interested. I am simply sending a picture and asking if you would be interested in looking at the finished product to see if this is something you/your store would be interested in pursuing. If not, I will look elsewhere and continue to be a customer of The True Percula.

I am attaching a picture of the stand in-progress. Would you please look at the picture, consider if this is something you might be interested in and then let me know if you would like to see the finished product? I am anxious to get it to my house so I can get my new aquarium set up, but if you would like to see it first, I would be happy to bring it by the store. I believe it will be finished this weekend or the first part of next week.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Rob Hurt

While I was at the fish store, I bought a couple African Dwarf frogs. They will add some "personality" to the tank. I hope they make it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Preach Better Sermons Conference

Pastor Philip and I didn't go into the office today. Instead, we headed to Duncanville and attended the Preach Better Sermons conference hosted by Preaching Rocket. The conference was excellent! We heard two sessions by Jeff Henderson and Reggie Joiner, a recorded session by Andy Stanley and a closing session by Pastor Brian Carter from the host church. Here's a few highlights I took away from the conference:

  • Prepare your sermon in the Crock Pot instead of trying to microwave it. Start early in the week so that, as things happen and ideas come to you, you can add them to the sermon. Trying to "microwave it" a day or two before Sunday does not allow this to happen. -Jeff Henderson
  • The essential ingredient for a great sermon is CONNECTIVITY. Connection, not information, is the difference between a message that falls flat and a message that soars. -Jeff Henderson
  • What is the single most persuasive idea I can convey? Think not about Sunday morning so much as Monday morning around the water cooler at work. Can those who heard you tell others what you said? If they can...that is a priceless moment. -Jeff Henderson
  • What you say doesn't matter {to people} because it's true. it matters when it matters. You should care so much about the truth that you make it matter to people. -Reggie Joiner
  • Say what matters in a way that matters. How we say something affects the way people receive it. Words matter...especially if you want your words to stick. -Reggie Joiner
  • Say it authentically so it matters more. What you say matters more when people know it matters to you. What you say matters more when people know they matter to you. When an idea you care about becomes a person you care about, it changes how you communicate. When people matter, you learn how to say something that helps them and that gives them hope. -Reggie Joiner
  • If you have the right idea but use the wrong approach, wrong approach will trump right idea every time. Does my approach to preaching the Scriptures support or trump my goal? -Andy Stanley
  • How to Preach With Unchurched People in the Room -Andy Stanley
    1. Let them know that you know they are there and you're happy abut it
    2. Choose A {one} passage of Scripture and stay with it. 
    3. Give them permission not to believe or oby.
    4. Avoid "The Bible Says" {wow, this was such a good one but too much to explain it all here}. Cite authors (Moses, Matthew, Paul, James, etc) not just "the Bible says". Don't quote Bible illustrations assuming people know the story. Assume nothing.
    5. Acknowledge the odd things in the Scriptures. Don't just go with, "This may not make sense, but it's the Word of God so it happened and that's all there is to say about that." Say what you think unchurched people are thinking about what you read/say. When you do, you gain credibility by it.
  • Unbelievers can be offended by a God who paid for their sin so they didn't have to (because they could not), and that is good. If they are offended by anything else in the sermon, that is on you. -Andy Stanley

Monday, January 21, 2013

Amanda Went Camping

This weekend, Amanda was invited by a friend to go camping with their family. She said she had a great time.

It seems the girls were bigger fans of staying up than they were of getting up.

Fun on the lake.

On Saturday, I went the Men's Breakfast at church while Brooke got to sleep in. When I got back, we headed out to do some grocery shopping and I took Brooke to The True Percula fish store. We had an enjoyable afternoon hanging out together.

At dinner, we continued my (extended) birthday celebration by having dinner with Daniel & Meagan Henning at Spring Creek BBQ. Love and appreciate the Hennings and enjoyed spending time with them. After dinner, Meagan came over to the house to hang out with Brooke while Daniel and I went to see Zero Dark Thirty. We both thought it was a pretty good movie.

Sunday we went to church, went to Chapps for lunch and then came home to relax. I sat in the living room working on the church web site and email announcements while Brooke watched some football on TV (with her eyes closed making a quiet snoring sound). 

Amanda Kay came home Monday afternoon having thoroughly enjoyed herself. Brooke and I enjoyed a relaxing and enjoyable weekend together.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Workout +

I had another enjoyable day today. I knew it was going to be a day to myself because Amanda had school and then is camping with a friend's family this weekend. Brooke is a part of the booster club and so I knew she would be spending the day getting ready for tonight's basketball games.

I slept in until 8:30 or so, checked Facebook, read some articles and then got ready to do my 30 Day Shred workout. I recently downloaded a Scripture memory app, and so I thought I'd try something while I worked out today.

I took three of the Scriptures I am working on right now (only two can be seen in this picture) and taped them to my walls. As I worked out, I memorized and quoted the verses. Two of the three verses today were review, but I think they really stuck. Plus, keeping my mind busy helped my workout seem to go more quickly. I really like it. Now I would like to type and print the Scriptures. I want to break them down, line by line, to make them easier to remember. I didn't get around to that part today. Maybe tomorrow.

After that, I gave George a call and headed over to his place. He purchased at 32 inch flat screen at the beginning of the month and has had a lot of trouble with it. I helped him pack it up and we exchanged it for a different brand. Not only did it save George $40, but the remote is set up differently and easier for George to use. 

After that, I called my friend Ken who is in the hospital after knee replacement yesterday. He said pain meds were making the pain manageable, but he was not able to do physical therapy because the nerve blocker still had not work off enough for him to be able to put weight on his leg. We prayed that would be remedied (as well as praying for a full, speedy recovery) so he can go home on Sunday.

Leaving the hospital from visiting with Ken and his wife Carol for a while, I headed home to get Amanda's bike read for her to go camping. I had just a few minutes before it was time to pick up Amanda from school. We came home, she grabbed her stuff and then I dropped her off an her friend's house. Got an IM from Amanda at 11pm saying they had just gotten settled in. She is looking forward to fishing, canoeing and good camp good this weekend.

Last night, after eating out, we got gas and Amanda saw a fish store we had not noticed before.  We pulled up right in front of the store, but before we could go in, the lady we pulled in next to asked if we could give her car a jump. Of course we did, but in the meantime, the store closed. Tonight, I went back to The True Percula. Wow! The place is incredible. They have both fresh and salt water fish. Live plants, giant tanks and even sell $249 fish! But the best part is they are very knowledgeable, friendly and will be a good resource. I will definitely have to take Brooke and Amanda to check out this place.

Sprint called me at home this evening in regards to a frustrated email I sent them yesterday. It's been a week that we have been without reliable cell service in our immediate area (home and church). I have been trying to tell Sprint that it is a network/tower issue and not my phone, but every time I call, I am told there are not network issues in my area. Once I am transferred up the chain, I am told, "Yes, there does seem to be an issue with a tower in your area. It seems to not be working at all." I was told twice a ticket had been issued to check the tower, then I was told I would have to go to a Sprint store and have them OK my phone before they would issue a work order for a tower. All in all, it's been a week and I've spent over 4 hours talking with Sprint, but I think I finally got through to the right department. I am hopeful the issue can now be resolved.

Brooke got home from the basketball game so she brought home a bite to eat and we watched a couple (old) episodes of Big Bang Theory. She fell asleep on the couch and then went to bed. I did a water change for Amanda's tank and I believe I discovered that we were not using the gravel vac correctly. I was never actually putting the vacuum down in the gravel. Before tonight, I just moved the vac through the water and drained the water. Duh! I am hoping that a few more water changes, and correct vacuuming technique, will get the chemical levels right so Amanda can add some more fish.

Having put away the fish tank supplies, I sat down, posted a couple blogs, and I plan to watch one more recorded episode of Big Bang Theory before going to bed. I had to take a Tylenol for my capped front tooth. The tooth is fake, so it is totally weird that it hurts. When it got loose last time and they had to glue it back in, my "giant tooth" looked even more giant because it sticks down further than it did before. I think, because it sticks down further, I bite down on it more than my other teeth and perhaps even when I sleep. This is what I attributed the pain to before because it usually hurts after sleeping. I took a 20 minute nap before dinner tonight I don't think that was enough to grind my teeth and make this one hurt like it does, but I guess we'll see what happens. The dentist told me there are not any options which are not VERY expensive. so I'm praying this will pass.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Forty-Four Years Ago Today...

... I was born. I don't remember a lot about it, but then again, I was born at a young age.

For those reading this post 10 years in the future, this is what I looked like at age 44.
At age 34, I had much more hair!

I had an enjoyable day today. All day long the birthday wishes came in on Facebook. It's nice to be thought of on your birthday, even if it's just long enough for somebody to write "Happy Birthday" and hit send. Of course it was a work day, but since Thursday is my Friday (Friday being my off day), that was nice, too. After work, my girls too me to Chili's for dinner. After that, we headed to the pet store to get some fish for Amanda. Unfortunately, we only got one fish (another X-Ray Tetra so the other two could school) because the ammonia level is still too high. I believe I figured out we were using the gravel vac incorrectly, so I hope after another couple water changes and gravel vacs we will be good to go for some more fish in Amanda's tank.

My girls at Chili's. I love them!!!

My birthday present this year is my fish tank. I've got the tank (a new one...was able to sell the one I bought on Craig's List to somebody else on Craig's List and pay for my brand new 29 gallon tank with that money), gravel, light, cover and a heater that I am pretty sure will need to be replaced soon. Dad came by this week with his idea for a fish stand and it is going to be great! I think I will be able to fill my tank and start treating the water once I get the stand from Dad.

My parents called this evening to wish me a Happy Birthday. Brooke and I watch some recorded TV and enjoyed the rest of the evening together. Spent my birthday with my family...and that's the way I like it!

Pastor's Column for January 20

I really enjoy the song Open Up The Sky because the lyrics capture a prayer of my heart.
Open up the sky
Fall down like rain
We don't want blessings 
We want you 
Open up the sky
Fall down like fire
We don't want anything but you 
I had a friend tell me, "I don’t like to sing that part, 'We don’t want blessings'”. I was trying to think of a way to explain what the song captures for me, and I came across this quote by Daniel Henderson in the book Transforming Prayer: Worship-based prayer seeks the face of God before the hand of God. God’s face is the essence of who He is. God’s hand is the blessing of what He does. God’s face represents His person and presence. God’s hand expresses His provision for needs in our lives. I have learned that if all we ever do is seek God’s hand, we may miss His face; but if we seek His face, He will be glad to open His hand and satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts.

Jesus taught us that we should ask the Father for what we need, but it’s good to remember that we need the Father first...and then His blessings. Psalm 27:8 - My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Blessings, Pastor Rob

Monday, January 14, 2013

Love Our Puppies

Watching TV last night, both puppies wanted to snuggle with me. How can you say "no" to that? I can't do it.

Sully LOVES his space heater. I don't think he could get any closer...his foot is touching it!

I guess Sully finally toasted himself well enough and decided to jump up on the couch. He started scratching and rooting with the blanket so I helped him cover up. He laid this way about 4 minutes and then he out until I went to bed.

Brooke said Boo was cold this morning, so when she hopped up on the couch, I covered her with my sweatshirt. She fell asleep and stayed there until I had to leave for work.

So I bought the 29 gallon fish tank on CraigsList for $50. It came with a filter, undergravel filter, heater, gravel, decorations, air pumps, cover and light.  Seemed like a good deal since the tank alone was "on sale" at PetsMart for $80. It turned out that the filter did not have a cover. They guy said it worked, but there was no cover and a LOT of mineral build up on it. Decided I would need a new filter. The gravel was OK, but we wanted a different look. Did some reading and decided I did not want to use an undergravel filter. I will be using some of the decorations until I am able to get new ones to go along with the theme we'd like.

Last night, we went to PetsMart and bought the new gravel (black gravel with hot pink, blue, yellow and green highlights). WOW, it takes a LOT of gravel for a 29 gallon tank and it ain't cheap. I also bought a new background for the tank. Since that came to $45, decided to wait on the new filter!

Today, we went to PetCo to see what they had. They were having a $1/gallon tank sale. 10 gallon tank for $10, 29 gallon tank for $29. Short version...the opportunity to start new and fresh was just too tempting and Brooke said it was OK for me to buy a new tank. I spent the night cleaning the gravel from the old tank, filling the old tank with water to check for leaks and setting up my CraigsList ad. I'm hoping to recoup my $30 for the new tank. I am keeping the lid, lamp, air pump and some decorations from my original CraigsList purchase, so if I can get $30 reselling the tank, I will still have gotten a good deal. Talked to Dad tonight. He is coming by tomorrow to pick up some fence panels and is bring his idea for a shelf to set the tank on. I am hoping to get a filter by the time he gets that done. When those to items are complete, I'll be ready to add the gravel, add the water, add the decorations I have now and treat the water for fish!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

But I Don't Like Fish

Yeah, I'm not a big fish fan. No, I do eat much fish, but I was referring to the aquarium kind. Amanda wanted to get a tank, but I knew her animal care history and I did not want to mess with a fish tank (after all, who wants a pet you cannot pet?). Amanda promised she would take care of it and Brooke promised she would help because she, too, wanted to get a fish tank. I think it was sometime this summer that Amanda used her money and we helped her buy a 10 gallon fish tank. She has done a pretty good job of taking care of the fish and the tank, but she still needs help with water changes, etc. Guess who that ended up doing that??? Yup...the guy who doesn't like fish.

Since we got a tank, of course we needed pretty fish so the first time around, we "helped" Amanda choose her fish. We ended up with Mollies (very pretty black, spotted and orange mollies). In all my efforts to keep a clean tank, I cleaned it a little "too good", got the nitrates and nitrites up WAY too high and killed the fish. Two died in the tank...the third was going belly up and had to be euthanized. This second time around, Amanda asked if she could choose the fish SHE wanted for her tank. We said "yes" and she chose red tail x ray tetras.

So Amanda like the creepy, see through fish and I wanted pretty, colorful fish. I was the last one to see this coming, but I began to think it would be nice to have a bigger fish tank with pretty fish in it. I decided I would like to get a fish tank for my birthday (next week), and it didn't take much to convince Brooke since she wanted a fish tank all along. I priced fish tanks at Petsmart and decided to see what I could find on Craig's List (since there is still that budget matter of the "donation" I am waiting to make to the state of Tennessee). Short version...I found a 29 gallon tank with gravel, pumps, filter, undergravel filter, light miscellaneous tank decorations for $50. I had to drive to Garland to get it (hour there, hour back) and I will have to upgrade/replace some of the filter system, but it still seems like it was a good deal. On the way home, I called my Dad and asked if he would build the shelf for my birthday. I will spend a little here and there getting the tank ready and hope to start adding fish by the end of this month. I'm pretty excited.

Boo was fascinated with tank when we brought it in the house. 
I wonder what she is going to think when there are actually fish in it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Jesus and Jesús

I download a Scripture memory app on my phone and table called Remember Me. It seems like a great program. You can choose your verses, choose your version, assign a key word or description to each verse, make the verse into a puzzle to help you practice learning it or choose other options to help commit the verse to memory. One of the options is to have the verse read to you. On my tablet (rooted Kindle), I do not have this issue, but when I have my Samsung Galaxy II read the verse to me it reads the Scriptures as Jesús Christ instead of Jesus Christ!

Later in the day, I contacted Sprint (via online chat) because we've got no bars here at the house. We have three phones with no bars...two Galaxy II's and and Evo. Sprint told me there had been a problem the day before, but it was "fixed" now. Hmmm...glad to know it's fixed but I still ain't got a signal. We spent a good 35 minutes working on my phone, updating the profile, updating PRL, etc. Of course there were the reboots and the infernal waiting between my typing and a response ("are we still connected?). Finally, something happened to our chat connection because I waited 10 minutes and could not get a response. All along I did not believe it was a phone issue and we were getting no place, so I simply disconnected the chat and went on to something else.

Since our cell signal was weak at best, and usually non-existent, at the house, I was relying on our Wi-Fi connection and using Google Voice on my phone to text and get voice mail message (big Google Voice fan here!). Google Voice was not working properly, so I did chat tech support with Sprint again. I was transferred to a second person to help, and I thought, "Man, if anybody can help me this guy can. I was connected to, no joke..."Jesus C".  Yeah, so I think it was another one of those "Jesus and Jesús" things, but I was hopeful at first! The short version is, the lady I had talked to early somehow disabled Google Voice on my account. Jesus (or Jesús) told me my only option was to cancel my Google Voice account and open a new one. This was really uncool because this would mean when I text somebody using Google Voice (which I frequently do because I can log in with my computer and use the laptop keyboard), a phone number other than my cell number would show up. Thankfully Jesús was not correct...all I had to do was disable Sprint on my Google Voice account, delete the account, set up a new one and re-enable my Sprint connection. Google Voice is back by cell coverage still stinks at the house. Something is not right on Sprint's end.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Retaking Lost Ground

I started Weight Watchers online in February 2011. I weighed 245 pounds when I started. By the end of summer I was down to 200 pounds. My target weight was 170-175. I stayed around 200 until Thanksgiving at which time I gained 10-15 pounds. In 2012, faithfully paid Weight Watchers each month (auto withdraw), but I didn't really track or watch my weight. By Fall of 2012, I was back up to 220. By the time I started back on my diet today, I was up to 233.8 pounds. How frustrating to have worked so hard only to let it slip away. There are a few things to encourage myself with as I start again:

  • I did it before, so I know I can do it again
  • I remember how I felt better, had more energy and could run/play with Amanda more when I lost the weight
  • I am still 11 pounds lighter than I was when I first started
  • It won't hurt so bad and be so miserable once I am into my workout video for a couple weeks!
I also started back on the 30 Day Shred today. I know, it's old school now. But I like it and I know it works for me. There is no way I could do P90 or Insanity. For one, I do not have that kind of commitment. Secondly, I do not have the knees for that kind of nonsense! WOW, this is MUCH easy when you are 30 pounds lighter and have been doing it for months. I can remember when it was "challenging yet enjoyable". Right now, it's feeling more "impossible and miserable", but I know that will change.

Foods That Help Me Lose Weight 
  • Fit and Active ice cream sandwich - 3 points
  • Fit and Active meal replacement shake (with 3 bananas and ice added to make a smoothie) - 5 points
  • Bananas - makes EVERYTHING taste better and...0 points!
  • Dill pickles - 0 points
  • Plain baked potato - 7 points
  • McDonalds grilled chicken salad with low fat Italian dressing - 8 points (I's McDonalds. But George and I go out to eat for lunch ever Wednesday and this is GREAT way to eat out and have a low points meal).
  • Apples - 0 points
  • Bananas - I had to mention them again. They are that great!!!!
  • Fit & Active hot dogs - 1 point
  • Fit & Active mini rice cakes - 9 cakes for 2 points

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Staff Retreat 2013

The last couple of years we have gone to Riverbend Retreat Center in Glen Rose for staff retreat, we have scheduled our trip so we can stop at Hammond's BBQ. Hammond's has good BBQ, but what is worth the drive even if you are going just down the road for a staff retreat is their peanut butter pie! We left the church at 11am on Tuesday with plans to have Hammond's for lunch and then head to Riverbend. We knew from past experience, and from double-checking their web site, that they are closed Monday and have the buffet on Tuesday. Imagine our disappointment when we pulled into the EMPTY parking lot on Tuesday to see a sign that said they are now closed Monday and Tuesday :(    We had to settle for a Mexican restaurant. Not bad, but the closest thing they had to peanut butter pie was peanut brittle for sale by the register!

Rooms we're quite ready so everybody did a little surfing.

We started out our Friday meeting with a time of worship.

Late night games and (non-diet) snacks are always a part of our retreat together. I love hanging out with the people I work with...they are a lot of fun.

On the way home, we stopped by Hammonds's since we missed it on the way. BBQ was good, but for the second year in a row, no peanut butter pie for me. The person who cooks the pies had to have some sort of surgery and could not make my pie :(  I'm sure compared to their issue, missing my pie was nothing...but I was still bummed.

Sunday, January 06, 2013


Started off the morning in the Word, praying for our service at The Vine and praying for my pastor friends and their service this today. Pastor David preached a good word at the Vine today. I took a FULL page of notes, but the take-away quote I got from today's message, Shaping Things To Come: Make Your Future What It Can Be, was this, "Not everything that happens is God's will, but nothing that happens is out of God's control". Pastor was preaching from Jeremiah 18:

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

In this point, Pastor was referencing verse 4 where the clay was marred, but the potter was able to start over and still create a masterpiece. Even when we mess up in life, if we will remain as clay in God' hand, God can take our mistakes, remold us and still create a masterpiece from our lives. The main point of the message was a challenge to stay FOCUSED on the Lord amid all the distraction and to stay soft clay in God's hand and not be a hardened rock. It was a good message and a good challenge.

When we came home from church today, this is what we smelled. There is NOTHING like coming home from church, coming in the back door and smelling a roast cooking in the Crock Pot. We had some GOOD eatin' for lunch today.

The roast was not quite ready when we got home, so Amanda and I played a little Carom to pass the time. I am sad to report that Amanda did win a few games this afternoon.

After lunch, I tried to catch a 30 minute nap, but it eluded me. Fortunately, I was able to catch it's 2 hour cousin!

Spent the afternoon sitting in the living with Brooke watching football and working on the church email announcements. This evening, had dinner while watching America's Funniest Videos, then watched a movie with Brooke, blogged and now I need to get to bed. It is going to be a full week this week. We have staff retreat Tuesday and Wednesday. Always fun hanging out with the people I have the pleasure of working with, and I'm praying we are going to come away with a clear vision of what God has for Vine Fellowship in 2013.

Lastly, when I started blogging again, I decided I would not blog political stuff. I wanted to stay true to the name and purpose of this blog...a bit about me, my family and the things I think about. In light of Pastor's message this morning and his challenge to stay focused on the Lord and His plans, I am going to try and stay away from political issues (no matter how strong my feelings) on my Facebook page as well. Since the November elections, I have been VERY pessimistic about this year and the future of our country. I will leave it at that, but I have noticed my pessimism (fueled further by recent political events) has affected me much so that my family has asked me why I have not been happy. I do not want to bury my head in the sand, but I know this is not how the Lord wants me to be and I know I cannot focus on His plan for me if I am so focused on these matters. God wants us to be wise and discern the times. In the midst of troubling times, Christ's church needs to have answers for a troubled world (for those who are still asking). My focus must be on how God wants to use me in this, and so, I am going to try and focus more on what God wants me to do in this culture not just on the moral decay of our culture. I hope this will be reflected in what I post (and don't post) on my Facebook page.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Another Great Day With The Fam

Got to sleep in this morning and planned to get up and read my Bible before starting on a few projects today.  I checked my email before sitting down to read and was greeted with an email saying that my bank account had once again taken a hit and we had to have an overdraft transfer from our savings. The $560 worth of fraudulent charges from last week went through! I was on the phone for quite a while with Bank of America, but once again, they credited the charges back to my account same day. Now that the charges actually went through (they were only pending last week), they can pursue whoever got a hold of my debit card account number. That card is cancelled so hopefully we are done with this, but once again, kudos to Bank of America for taking great care of us.

After settling the bank issues, everybody was hungry so we packed The Fam into the car and headed out for a healthy breakfast from Krispy Kreme. Yes, the puppies got to be "Adventure Dog" and go with us. (We use that phrase so much that the dogs get excited and start prancing around when we ask them "Do you want to be Adventure Dog"?)

Paid some bills, finally got to my Bible reading and then went back out with The Fam to do some grocery shopping and support Hobby Lobby buying a picture frame for our new family picture.

It's Saturday and that means hamburger night at the Hurt household. Amanda request home made salsa, too, so I made some of that while the burgers were cooking. It was another great day with The Fam...enjoyed the weekend.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Precious Memories

Here's today's goofy blog picture. We ate dinner in the living room tonight and when I went into the kitchen to put some whip cream on my ice cream (uh yeah, the "diet" ice cream), Amanda asked me what I was getting. When I told her, she asked for some, too. When I told her she had nothing to put it on, she said, "My mouth". She asked for it!

While we were in Alabama for Christmas, I decided I would try blogging again this year. I just spent the last hour going through blog posts/pictures from 2005. There are so many precious memories! Right now I am torn between the happiness of all those great memories that I got to re-live and sadness that I slacked off and went a couple years with no real blogging. I don't blog to gain a following...I do it because it is therapeutic for me and it is the BEST way to preserve precious memories. I am making an effort not only to blog regularly this year, but take at least one picture a day, making or recording a memory that I will enjoy looking back on several years from now.

So that's about it...wrapping up a lazy day. Didn't do much today (Friday is my day off), mostly just hung out with the family and relaxed. The week's been busy catching up from being off and getting ready to be out of town 2 days next week for staff retreat. I have a number of projects to work on tomorrow, but I decided to take a break today. One of the most relaxing things I do, and something I have decided to do more of in 2013, is read. I was able to finish A Study in Scarlet, the first novel in my The Complete Sherlock Holmes Kindle book I downloaded (free!). It was definitely good enough to go on to the next novel, The Sign of Four.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Happy Birthday My Friend!

George turned 89 years old today. Brooke, Amanda and I took him out to On The Border for dinner. Below the picture is a blog post I wrote in 2005 talking about meeting George. For the past seven years now, George and I have been friends and have gone out for lunch once a week. What a dear friend!

I Met George Last Week (repost from June 6, 2005)
Last week during Vacation Bible School, an older gentleman came to the church asking questions about the church. He said his name was George, he has only been in Arlington a couple months and he was looking for a church. We talked, I told him about the church and he said he'd be back Sunday. He was back Sunday, I said hello and we talked some more. He said he'd like to come meet with me or Pastor David this week, so I told him to give us a call in the office.

He called on Tuesday and came to talk to me. We talked more about the church and a little more about ourselves and then George told me he felt very welcome Sunday morning and at the Life Group he visited on Tuesday night. He said he was not much for sitting around at home by himself and he'd like to volunteer at the church. I told him I'd see where we could use some help and give him a call.

Today, I had a good hour-and-half worth of errands to run, so I called George to see if he was busy (he volunteers at a shelter twice a week and is building up his list of other places he wants to volunteer). He said he was free in the afternoon, so I asked him if he wanted to go run some errands with me and we could just hang out while we ran errands. We went to the auto supply store, Lowe's, Best Buy and Costco. It took at least an hour-and-a-half like I thought it would, and I really enjoyed getting to know George a little. One of the first things I asked him was what he prefer I call him...George or Mr. __________ (his last name). He said he preferred George, but I told him I had to ask because growing up, my parents always taught me to refer to adults (or my elders) by Mr. or Mrs. Nowadays, I settle for Mr. or Mrs. and their first name, but it's still a matter of respect. Anyway, George (81 years old) said he preferred George.

I don't know if I have enough to keep George busy for half a day every week (in my department), but I'm going to talk to other people on our staff and see what we might come up with on a regular basis. Next week, George is going to come help me clean out our pantry behind the stage at church. It was #4 on my clean up list after the attic and two PODS outside. After cleaning the other three spaces I was not very motivated to get to the pantry, so it was good timing to have somebody come along who wanted to help do whatever needed to be done. So I'll see George again on Sunday, and then we'll work together on Wednesday. He's only been to the church once so I hope he still likes it after coming a few more weeks, but I've really enjoyed getting to know him a little bit and spending some time with him this week.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Loving God's Word

I am a big fan of Bible reading and using a Bible reading plan. This is a copy of an email I sent out to our church email list on January 1st.

Beginning The Year Right

A Commitment to Reading God's Word

A new year is upon us and this is a great time to re-commit to God's Word! Being a HUGE fan of the Bible, I'd like to share a few tools that might be helpful to you if you are interested in Bible reading in 2013.

A Must-Have FREE App/Website
If you love God's Word or want to spend more time in his Word this year, a must have app is YouVersion. They have pretty much every version of the Bible. Whatever you read or do can be synced across your devices (computer, phone, iPad) and it's a great way to take God's Word with you everywhere. You can also follow your reading plan or follow along with sermon notes from the Vine that are on YouVersion from time to time.
Bible Reading Plan
I'm not a proponent of legalistic reading just to check it off for the day, but I am a BIG fan of Bible reading plans, and here's why. The best way to understand the Bible is to let the Bible interpret itself, and the only way to do this is to read ALL of the Bible. The easiest way to read through the entire Bible is to have a PLAN such as a Bible-in-a-year plan. If you miss a few days, don't stress and don't try to read four days at once. Just pick up the next day where you left off. If it takes you a year-and-a-half to read through a one year Bible reading plan, what's the big deal? 
There are so many plans to choose from: Genesis to Revelation, chronological order, Old and New Testament together...and many more. Here's two links to get you started: YouVersion's plethora of Bible reading plans and the Bible-in-a-year plan used by the Vine Fellowship. A Bible reading calendar is put in the bulletin the first Sunday of each month and links for daily reading are included in the weekly announcement email. 
Understanding The Bible
If you are going to commit to reading the Bible throughout the year, you need to find a Bible you can understand. Here is a link you can use from BibleGatway to compare two or more versions side by side (adjust your versions using the drop down menu at the top of each column). Here is a chart that tells a little bit about different English translations.
Be CAN understand the Bible for yourself! Are you used to using a devotion book to help you understand the Bible? May I suggest trying this simple six question guide when you read the Bible? You may just discover you are writing your own devotion book! (This can be used with ANY Bible reading plan).
  • “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”-St. Jerome, Roman Catholic church father
  • “A thorough understanding of the Bible is better than a college education.”  -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, 1858-1919
I'll be reading through the Bible again in 2013. Will you? I invite you to join me!
Pastor Rob

Happy New Years

I was reading from Philippians 2 today and came across a familiar verse, but the Lord gave me some things to think about:

12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. (HCSB)

A few things caught my attention:
   Work out your own salvation - I am called to work out my salvation, not worry about what somebody else is/is not doing. Not a new revelation, but a good reminder. Was it John Wesley who said something along the lines, "I have too much to work on with me to have time to judge others"? Still trying to find this exact quote, but it came to mind when I read this today.
   With fear and trembling - Working out my own salvation is not putting my trust or pride in "my" good works. I humbly follow Christ considering what an awesome privilege it is to be in relationship with the God of the universe.
   Enabling you both to desire... - The Holy can and does not only change my heart, but He also changes my desires so that I desire to be less like me and more like Christ. How awesome is that!
   Enabling work out His good purpose - Again, working out my own salvation is not about being a "good person" or earning points with God for being "good". Working out my salvation is about becoming more Christ-like and living a Christ-centered life so that I can fulfill God's purpose in my life. My life is all about God and bringing Him glory. It is not about me.

Lots of good stuff there. Thinking this may end up as a message one day after I have time to study it out more.

The puppy dogs are so happy we are at home, both in town and off work today, so that we can spend time with them. I do not know why Boo's eyes flash green like this, but I'm thinking if I blew up a picture of just her face to poster-size and put it on our front door it might make would-be burglars think twice!

We went over to my parents to celebrate Christmas with them today since we were out of town. Mom and Dad were sick all through Christmas and are just starting to feel better. We enjoyed a lunch of vegetable soup and corn bread today.

How cool is this! This is a microwave S'more maker. It has a little tray where you put your Graham Cracker, chocolate, marshmallow and second Graham Cracker. The little arm pushes down on the marshmallow as it melts. In the back is a vented container where you add water. I think the vapor helps the S'more cook. No, it doesn't taste the same as cooking it over a camp fire, but we all had two eaten by the time you could have gathered the fire wood!

The puppy dogs were in the laundry room while we ate lunch. Here is Boo sticking her feet under the door as she whimpered reminding us how much she missed being with us.

Amanda is the movie lover in our family and Geama & PaPa D took good care of her for Christmas. We are looking forward to watching We Bought a Zoo with them as they have not yet seen it (great movie!)

Our trip home this afternoon. Sully was worn out after visiting today.