in between bites & sips ...

thanks for stopping by! here's where i put various thought, quotes or stories. most will be brief, some may be extended - but all will be somehow connected to my world. enjoy your stay!



Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Planning ahead

At Christmas, there is a clear distinguishing line between those who plan ahead, and those who do not.

If you plan ahead, the days before Christmas are calm and relaxing, they are filled with adding the special touches to make the holidays extra special.

If you do not plan ahead, the days before Christmas are grey-hair producing and horn-honking encouraging!

You can tell instantly at a Christmas Eve church service those who are coming into the evening with an air of confidence because they've made their lists and checked them significantly more than twice versus those who lost their list (scribbled on a randomly chosen envelope, I might add) at Toys 'R Us 2 days ago and are hoping & praying that they didn't forget anything!

I came across an article in Yahoo! the other day that takes planning to a whole new realm ... the heavenly realm! This guy named Chet Fitch sent Christmas cards to all of his friends and relatives! What's the big deal? Chet died in OCTOBER!!!!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071225/ap_on_fe_st/odd_cards_from_heaven;_ylt=Apxl7kRK1Q_LDPhRdrGSwZ3tiBIF

If you click on the link I have provided, you can read the whole article for yourself - but to summarize for you, basically he set up this ruse 20 years ago with his barber to send Christmas Cards from beyond the grave. Every year, he'd have to give the barber more money for postage, change any addresses, update his list with either additions or subtractions. FOR 20 YEARS!!!

I would have loved to have met this guy. He must have had an incredible sense of humor!

Thing is, he gave more thought to life after death and made more plans for what will happen after he's gone than we often give consideration to.

With new year's looming in a few days, I think I'll resolve to update my will, put together all my important papers - basically just put some planning into what will happen after I'm gone. I mean, if he can put that much thought into a joke - I should put more thought into the important things.

Thankfully, I'll only have to worry that all of my earthly affairs are taken care of, because I know that my heavenly ones are already planned out. I took care of those when I believed Jesus Christ was more than a baby born in Bethelehem, but that Jesus would also be my Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Freshness DOES Matter

I've never considered myself a coffee aficionado: I don't like flavored coffees, I don't care what name brand I buy & I don't care how you prepare it.

So, you can imagine my confusion when some would complain because they felt their coffee wasn't 'fresh'. I've got coffee in my closet dating back to 2001 - mainly from hotel rooms where it is my custom to make sure I get a new packet every single day, whether I drink the coffee or not.

I've also heard that coffee keeps better in the fridge. Meh. Probably an old wives tale.

Well - that's what I USED to think.

Along with my collection from the Hampton & Holiday Inns, and the odd Maxwell House other miscellaneous gifted containers of coffee that I haven't consumed yet move from home to home like furniture - there was a container of Tim Hortons coffee.

Tim Hortons is the standard of excellence for coffee in Canada (much like Starbucks in the US ... only better!). I had been carefully saving this rare brew since I figured there would be weeks, nay months where I could not have Timmy's coffee again now that I live in Ohio.

That was until Thanksgiving when my family came over and promptly drank almost all of it(while complaining of its lack of freshness), leaving me what I considered to be enough grounds for 5 more cups of coffee. I was somewhat disappointed since surely they had no idea that was ordinary for my Canadian family, was golden to me!

But, my disappointment quickly dissipated when the very next week I made a trip to Columbus where I found (you guessed it!) a TIM HORTONS!!!! There, sitting on a shelf, calling out to me, was a brand new can of Tim Hortons coffee that I could take home and consume (NO MORE RATIONS!).

I get home. I open the new tin. The aroma of the grounds fills the kitchen.

Wait a sec! I haven't smelled this since ... since ... since ... since I opened my last new tin of Tim Hortons!

That pot of coffee was absolutely wonderful. Yes. I drank a pot of coffee!

And, as I was cleaning up and putting the tins away, I was about to pour the remaining 5 cups worth of grounds from the old tin into the new tin when I froze.

"Do I really want to contaminate this glorious, new, fresh tin of coffee with the old stale stuff?" I had never thrown out grounds of coffee even once in my life! Would I do it now?

After tasting the fresh stuff, there was no turning back. Not only did I throw out the old Tim Hortons - but much of my old stock of miscellaneous hotel coffees (not all, I do need an emergency reserve, you know!).

This does make me think about our walk with God. Have we settled on the old, stale relationship we had yesterday? Or are we searching for a new, fresh word from Him? It's no wonder so many are turned off of 'church' when 'church' has lost its freshness.

From now on, not only will it be fresh coffee for me every morning, but fresh worship of God for me every morning too!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's all in the perspective

Its no wonder Jesus said that we need to have a child-like faith to get to heaven, children can have such a hopeful view of the world.

I had just relieved the car windows of the ice that covered them. I had just slipped around the driveway in my leathersoled shoes. I had just begun to drive the icebox we call a car on our way to church for Sunday School.

"This is the best day ever!" says my son from the back-seat.

My mind begins to race ... am I forgetting a birthday? does he think we are going Christmas shopping? did he find a stash of chocolate bars I had hidden under my seat?

Somewhat cautiously I ask, "Why is that?"

"It's snowing!"


What I considered to be a pain, was a joy from my sons perspective. He had visions of having an afternoon of building a snowman and making snowballs. I saw problems - he saw possibilities.

I guess I wonder if God is the same way? While we are complaining about the difficulties we are dealing with, He's excited because he knows that in a little while we will be able to enjoy what he is preparing for us. Maybe from our finite perspective we should consider God's infinite perspective with child-like faith ... not seeing problems, but seeing possibilities in every new day!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving - Round 2

Oh ya! You just gotta love Thanksgiving!

A long weekend of family, food & football - and lots of them all! Even getting to go shopping on Black Friday was fun (although - I didn't buy anything, I just liked being a part of the frenzy).

I can remember looking at Thanksgiving in the US from a Canadian perspective and just not getting it. Like, why have the holiday on Thursday (shouldn't it be on Friday?) or why have the holiday so close to Christmas (October just makes more sense) or why is Thanksgiving the biggest traveling holiday (even bigger than Christmas!).

In fact, for my 1st Thanksgiving in the US, I was 1 of a handful of students at CBC that didn't go home and we went to Taco Bell for our 'special' dinner. No family, no good food and, quite frankly - no fun! If I recall correctly, I was invited to a few places for a Thanksgiving dinner - but - I turned them all down.

Why did I turn them down? Cuz I just didn't 'get it'.

(get ready for the sermon!)

Some people turn down Jesus just cuz they don't get it. How could Jesus' story be true, why would Jesus do that even if he WERE God, and, many many many more!

The Bible says ...

"Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see - how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him." (Psalm 34:8 in The Message translation of the Bible)

Thanksgiving in the US only made sense to me after I experienced it. If you really want God to make sense to you, you're going to have to try Him first.

Kinda like Mikey in the old Life cereal commercials -

"He tried it! ... HE LIKES IT!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How I got hooked on coffee.

I didn't grow up as a coffee-lover. In fact, I didn't like coffee for the longest time. I thought it was gross.

But that all changed when I worked as a secretary at Concordia University in Montreal.

A co-worker kept offering me coffee ... again and again and again and again.

I was feeling really bad about constantly turning her down, so, eventually I started saying yes. She was thrilled. I really think she just didn't want to make a pot for herself, so if I wanted some as well, it would give her the excuse she needed. Thing is, I wouldn't drink it. It would sit on my desk, and I would drink just enough for her to see that I was drinking it. One sip when she gave me the cup - one sip when she walked by my office - just enough, but not much - it was gross!

Then, the impossible happened.

I started drinking more and more of it - until eventually I was drinking the whole cup!

Mmmm - cofffeeeeeee ...

That reminds me, I should go to the kitchen for a minute ... I'll be right back ...

;)

Poppy's Forever

In the US Veteran's Day has come and gone. But for Canadians, the same day is called Rememberance Day. Where in the US the date is used as an opportunity to thank those that fought for the nation's freedom, in Canada the date is used as an opportunity to remember those who died while fighting for the nation's freedom (more like the US's Memorial Day).

Another difference between the US and Canada is that Canadians where a red plastic poppy on their coat or lapel or shirt for the days leading up to November 11th. Now, when I first moved to the US in 1992, I would make sure I wore a poppy. Most thought I had picked up a dollar store flower and wear it to be silly (kinda fits my image ... being silly, that is!). It would be perfectly understandable for any individual outside of Canada to not know the poppy's significance.

So, typically, I'd be asked why I was wearing a flower and I'd use the opportunity to share a little bit of Canadiana.

But not this year. This year, I had decided that I didn't want to reveal my culture - rather - I wanted to blend with the new culture I now live in. I mean, my church has heard more stories of snow and hockey in the last 10 months than I'm sure they have heard in the last 10 years! I plan to live in Youngstown for a long, long time - there's plenty of years in the future for me to share my culture.

Then, came the chat in the church foyer ...

I was talking with Kim L. & Dennis N. - talking about Veteran's Day, they told me what they did for Veteran's Day and I mentioned the Canadian tradition of wearing a poppy to remember those soldiers that had died fighting for our freedom. Then, they essentially told me that I should have worn the poppy! I should have know better, but I was surprised ... they were very interested in my culture and thought others would agree with them!

It's amazing really ... that we sometimes think we need to protect the world from us sharing who we really are, when, in fact, it has more to do with us being afraid of what the world might think of us if we were to share who we really are!

So, I've made a decision. From now on, from November 1 to November 11, I'll wear my Poppy. I'll tell the story of Canada's freedom, while at the same time of the year - I will thank a veteran of the US Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force & Coast Guard for their service in securing a freedom that I and my family now enjoy.

THANK YOU, SOLDIERS! I will never forget!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Less than advertized

"Can I try it?" my daughter asks.

"No. I waited 38 years for this - so - you can wait a few more!"


Believe it or not - this afternoon was the first time I ever carved a pumpkin. Really!

Some of our neighborhood families get together every year to have a mass pumpkin carving/painting party. Today was the perfect weather for this outdoor adventure. But, I was soon to find out that although the event was billed as being for the kids - really - all they did was assume the 'Project Manager' position as they directed us parents to assemble the appropriate paint pallette or outline their dream pumpkin face.


"I wanted teeth in the mouth" says my son.

"But - I did put teeth in the mouth!"

"There's none on the bottom!"

Ugh. Fine. I guess the mouth is about to get just a little bit bigger.


"It's a cat!" my daughter says.

"So - you want itty bitty cat eyes and a tiny ROUND nose???"

"Yes."

"I'll try."


At the end of the day - I didn't feel much like Martha Stewart creating and artistic masterpiece.

Martha always makes everything look like such fun. Everything is neat and orderly. The finished product is always spectacular. And everything is cleaned up and ready for display by the end of the 30 minute program.

Maybe she'd like to borrow my kids! THEN it might be a reality TV show!

Nothing is ever as good or as easy as advertized. Well - almost nothing.

As much as I am disappointed in my effort (you'll note that pictures of my work are NOT being provided for your amusement) - I don't really think my kids minded so much!

In a world that consistently gives us less than they promise, when I spend time with my family - it seems that things are always BETTER than I anticipated. Just like a story always gets bigger and better the more it is repeated - I think today will get bigger and better in my memory, and the memory of my kids. The pumpkin I got stuck up my fingernail, the sticky goop I spilt on my pants, the paint that got on the kids clothes, the carving that looked more like a 'how-not-to' demonstration - none of it really matters.

We had a great afternoon.

Better than advertized!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Thanksgiving - Round 1

Gotta love being married to an American!

Lots of great reasons - like being able to live in places that are always warm, earning greenbacks, and a quality of life that is the envy of the world. There are many other reasons (feel free to add your favorite reasons in the comments for this blog) - but - I have to think that the best reason is that I get to enjoy 2 Thanksgivings every year!

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October, the US celebrates in November. Why the difference? I figure it's simply because the traditional last harvest of the year is earlier in Canada than in the US (see above re. warm places to live). Other than that - it really is the exact same holiday.

It all started with the pilgrims. Both holidays require turkey and wayyyy too much other stuff to eat. Family is not optional for the holiday - although - I find that in the US, the major family regathering holiday is Thanksgiving, while in Canada, the major family regathering holiday is Christmas - but still, I digress - family is not optional for Thanksgiving!

Growing up in Canada, I never understood why US Thanksgiving was on a Thursday. THURSDAY! The middle of the week!!! Plus, it's generally less than 1 month before Christmas, another major holiday! I always thought Canada had it right when it celebrated Thanksgiving on a Monday.

But, now that I have lived in the US and celebrated many US Thanksgivings - I've somewhat changed my mind. I guess I'd still rather US Thanksgiving be a little earlier in November - but - living here, I realize that it's really not a big deal at all that it's only 1 month before Christmas. Where the US really have it right is that it's a 4 day long weekend! Perfect for family to travel a long way to reunite. Perfect for family to make too much food, then spend the rest of the weekend eating the leftovers. Perfect to watch TONS of football. Perfect to have a real holiday - but - also - not so long that you get sick and tired of actually being with your family!

At the end of the day - the best part of Thanksgiving isn't debating between US/Canada as to which country does it right - the point is that we give thanks to God for all He has blessed us with. I eat well. I have a good roof over my head. I get to choose what I want to wear every day. I have a great family. I married my own Miss America. My kids are the best in the whole wide world. I'm a part of a great church. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Two times every year!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oops, I did it again!

Did you read one of my previous posts about never knowing when the January semester started in college? Well, here's another one of those things I ALWAYS seem to mess up on!

These are pictures of my driveway.










Notice anything? Yep, that's right, there's a patch that is a different color than the rest. That's because I am in the process of re-sealing my driveway.

WHY CAN'T I EVER BUY ENOUGH SEALANT!!!!!!!

I bought so much, I was sure I was going to have left-over sealant to store until next year! But, noooooo - I run out just short of the finish line, now I have to buy a hole new tub, just for that square!

I figured that I would have been past the problems I had when living in Oshawa in this area. The first time I went to seal that driveway, of course, I didn't buy enough - by FAR! I got 1/3 of the way done.

My neighbor, seeing my predicament, indicated that he can get the stuff for free at work. GREAT! He, of course, doesn't get me enough of it - so - I can't finish ... again. Not only that, but what he gave me was a different consistency that the stuff I used previously, so - my driveway now had 3 sections of sealant: original, store-bought, & commercial use!

Spring-time comes - I buy plenty. But, I forget that the driveway actually goes right into my backyard, past the gate. Of course ... not enough.

I really wanted to get it right this time! Oh well. Off to the store I go!

Later!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Jesus' Three Words

Top Ten (according to me!)

It is written - Matthew 4:7
Don't be afraid - Matthew 14:27
Watch and pray - Matthew 26:41
Peace be still - Mark 4:39
Come follow me - Luke 18:22
Father forgive them - Luke 23:34
Love one another - John 13:34
It is finished - John 19:30
Feed my sheep - John 21:15
I come quickly - Revelation 22:7

To see the full list of Jesus' Three Words, check out the comments on this post.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Encouraging Productivity

I am a producer.
I like filling every moment with some activity that culminates with a measurable product. So - for someone like me, there's really no such thing as spare time. Until this afternoon. There was nothing I HAD to do. As I suffered through another losing game of solitaire, I realized how tired I was. I slept for THREE HOURS! 3!!!
What a waste of time! I feel refreshed & alert, relaxed & alive ...
hmmm ... is there a lesson in this for me?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Tis the season to be jolly!

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!!!!


Finally, I am living in a part of the world that TRULY appreciates this great sport! I've sometimes wondered why football is so popular. I think because, unlike basketball, baseball or hockey - something AMAZING can happen at ANY moment. In basketball - if you've seen 1 dunk, you've seen them all. In baseball - the most amazing things (like a no-hitter) take over 2 hours to complete! In hockey (my favorite sport) - you kinda have to be at the arena to appreciate the game, it doesn't look so good on TV.


With that thought in mind - it's no wonder church attendance is in decline across the country. It's generally the same week after week, there is no 'event' feel, if you sleep-in on Sunday - it's not like you'll miss a whole lot ... I mean, there's always next week!


In football, on any given Sunday there could be a HUGE upset, there could be an amazing hit, throw, run, kick or return. Something worth talking about at the office on Monday will likely happen during a football game on Sunday.


Maybe something worth talking about at the office on Monday will happen during church THIS Sunday!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Techno-Wonder

This is almost too much! I am actually writing this entry by hand (not typing) on my palm pilot. Clearly - I cannot escape the magnet influence of technology! What's next? Mindreading computers? (wow - that WOULD be cool!!!)
.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

When does school start?

With the Fall semester starting up with so many students in the last few days, I can't help but remember what it was like to be one of those students! It was always a time with a full range of emotions - excitement, fear, optimism, pessimism, happiness & sadness - all rolled into one morning bus ride!

Ahhhh - those were the days!

But, at least I always knew when the 1st day of school was - something I never did get right for McGill's winter semester. Every January for my 4 years at McGill University - I managed to be unclear on when exactly the Christmas break concluded. My first year, I showed up a day early - walking into an empty classroom, wondering where the other students were. No one came.

The second year, if it weren't for a trip to the corner store where the cashier was a fellow student who asked if I were ready for school the next day ... I wouldn't have shown up until the next week!

You'd think by the third year, that I'd have it figured out - I mean - I'm a University student working on a B.A. with a Major in Linguistics and a Minor in Religious Studies! With my 2 concentrations of study, either I should be able to understand the English language, or God should be helping me get there on time!

Fall, no problem, but winter ...

So, in my third year - I'm so stressed about getting there for my first day that I don't sleep that night. Correction, I don't sleep until about 4AM, and therefore don't wake up until 8AM. No biggy? Well - when your first class starts at 8:30AM and you are 40 minutes from the school - not to mention the need to get dressed and take care of hygene issues - then, yes, it IS a biggy!

Admittedly, I did finally manage to get it right by my 4th year. I circled the date on my calendar. I confirmed with friends that I circled the correct date on my calendar. I knew the bus schedule. I knew the weather conditions. I went to bed at a reasonable time. I knew that at least 1 of the 6 clocks I set around my bed would be successful at waking me from my slumber in time to eat my breakfast (Cocoa Puffs, of course) and get to the bus stop in a timely manner.

I made it to class. *cheers wildly* It took four years to master it --- but I did it.

Unfortunately, the professor didn't make it - so - the class had to be rescheduled.

Doh!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Three Words

What a moving piece! Some are funny, some are sad - really, no commentary is needed from me, the video says it all.
Now, here are My Three Words ...

video

Feel free to tell me YOUR Three Words by commenting on this post. Pics and videos would be AWESOME!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Reason I Love My Wife

She genuinely cares for people.

Not that I don't care for people - but Mary Jo takes it to a higher, more nobler level than I ever think of.

For example this morning - amidst all the chaos that is preparing my kids for their first day of the new school year today, I left Mary Jo's car with that special amount of gas left in it that I call 'EEE' for 'ExtrEmE'. You know - that danger zone that is Far, Far away from 'F', and just beyond the 'E' ... the time when driving is a true adventure, since you THINK you can make it to your destination, but you aren't positive. Then, upon arriving at your destination, you THINK you can make it to your NEXT destination, and so on, and so on. That, my friends, is called EXTREME DRIVING!

So, you guessed it, I get a call on my cell that Mary Jo managed to get exactly 90 seconds worth of driving away from our home, when her goal was to get the 240 seconds needed to arrive at the gas station. So close, yet so far.

You'd think I'd be in big trouble. Nope. Now, I'm certain Mary Jo wasn't exactly thinking 'oh, what a wonderful, loving man I have chosen to spend my life with' at that very moment - but - if she was thinking anything else, she sure did hide it well!

While I was off filling the portable gas tank, a construction worker came by our im(auto)mobile and put up a cone to alert oncoming traffic and gave our youngest child, who was beginning to work up a sweat in the backseat a cool bottle of water. Upon my return, of course I thanked him for his kindness and, after making our automobile, mobile again - Mary Jo and I went off on our seperate ways, resuming the tasks of the day.

But, this is where Mary Jo's caring REALLY comes to the forefront. My cell rings ...

'oh, oh - now what?' I wonder, as I see by the caller display that it is Mary Jo.

"Rob, I think that contruction worker may have given us his last bottle of water. Do you have any water at the church you could bring to him and the other workers?"

WOW! My wife is GREAT! What a great idea! What a great opportunity to show appreciation for their thoughtfulness!

As it turned out - the only cold beverage I had was some cans of iced tea. I brought them to him and he (and especially the guy working the machine) seemed to truly appreciate it. Over the course of the ensuing conversation, I let him know that I worked at the church up the road.

Thank you, Mary Jo! Because of your genuine care for others, I was able to demonstrate how God rewards those who bless others.

I love you!

Rob

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mother Theresa ... Angel or Agnostic?

The linked article below this paragraph was the center of a discussion in another forum on the web - a discussion I couldn't help but add my 2 cents to! It seems that Mother Theresa wrote some letters might reveal her awareness of her own hypocrisy, her disbelief in the existance of God and the saving work of Jesus. Her moments of doubt & struggles with faith seem to have stemmed from her observations of the horrible state of the world - and her questions about how God could allow such suffering and pain.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/23/eveningnews/main3199062.shtml

Was Mother Theresa really an angel sent from God? Or was she an agnostic who simply loved people and was driven to do all she could to change her world?

The following is a re-working of my post on those discussion boards ...

Just because the world is messed up doesn't mean that there isn't a good and loving God. Part of what makes God good and loving is that He entrusts - He entrusted the world into humankind's hands. The state of the world is OUR fault, not His. There are so many more points I could offer to this argument, but, I'll save them for another time. Suffice to say, I completely disagree with you on this point, and would be pleased to elaborate if asked to.

Also, not all religious people are hypocrites as you make them out to be. They often appear hypocritical because we make them out to be perfect - when - any truly religious person knows that "all have sinned ..." and "there is none holy but God" - therefore - even I, as a Pastor of a church, sin. I am not perfect. I don't pretend to be perfect. But, I'm sure there are some people in my congregation or in my community that THINK that I THINK I am perfect - this would then make me look to be a hypocrite, when in fact I am not.

As for Mother Theresa's faith in God, that is between her and God - and no one can truly know for sure what she believed either in her lifetime or on her deathbed. I will say this - sometimes I wonder what in the world I am doing, giving my whole life to God as a Pastor of a church. sometimes I wonder if it's worth it all. Iwonder if there really is a God who cares. But these thoughts are temporary. I'm then reminded of times in my past when I KNEW God was real. I remember times when I KNEW God involved Himself in my life - beyond any circumstancial evidence. Then, I ask God to forgive me for doubting, and I go about the business of life!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Trade Secrets

Some readers may already know this, but I'm big into fantasy football, baseball, hockey, basketball, etc etc etc. It all started when I lived in a small town that offered very little in entertainment - and when a family member (Mark S.) introduced me to his football matchup sheet, I was instantly intrigued.

Years later, I may not be a rookie at fantasy sports anymore, but I still have the hardest time pulling the trigger on a trade. It seems that sometimes I feel the player on my roster has untapped potential, just waiting to bust out - or that the player I'd be acquiring must have something wrong with him that I am unaware of, I mean, why is the other guy trading him to me?

Here's what I do now -
1. Know my trading partner (no trust, no trade)
2. Don't go on a hunch (player X isn't suddenly going to become a superstar)
3. Remember it's a game (if I like the trade ... go for it! why not???)

I kinda wish life were so easy. But in some ways it is! If I would KNOW who I'm talking with, I could KNOW what they need/want from me or what they need/want to give me. Also, I try to take in information at face-value. Reading between the lines gets me into trouble! If I can trust someone, then I can avoid the 'hunch' and believe that their yes means yes and that their no means no. Lastly, because we take life so seriously at times, we become paralyzed by fear - fear of failure. Hey, I have made bad trades in fantasy sports at times - but that doesn't mean I lose the competition! I've made poor decisions in life, but there's no need to beat myself up over it. I've just decided to make good choices from here on out - and not worry about the mistakes along the way ... I either try to learn from the mistakes and try to not repeat them, or, at the very least, use them for great sermon illustrations!

Sermon, briefly

Dusting Off the Good Book
2 Kings 22 & 23

1.Respond to the Word
2.Be humbled
3.Repent
4.Make promises or renew old ones
5.Clean house
6.Celebrate!!!
7.Defend your land

Josiah does these 7 things that we could benefit from doing! At the end of the day, the Bible says this about Josiah ..

"Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did – with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses." 2 Kings 23:25

Josiah's actions upon discovering the Law should be the same as our actions upon discovering the Bible.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sermon, briefly

k(no)w blood - k(no)w life
Hebrews 9:11-28

1. Blood is Required to Enter Most Holy Place (v.12)
2. Blood is Used to Cleanse Our Conscience (v.14)
3. Blood is Shed to Provide Forgiveness (v.22)
4. Blood is Sacrificed Once For All (v.27)

As barbaric as it may seem, without the blood of Jesus being shed on Calvary, there is no hope for our life - either today or eternally!

Monday, August 13, 2007

I never imagined I'd say ...

"DON'T LICK THE REMOTE"

- to my daughter (she was 3)

Friday, August 10, 2007

New General Superintendent!

Rev. George O. Wood is the new General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God. I am very pleased to have him in this position. He wasn't my personal first choice, but I can see the hand of God in this decision and I ended up voting for him. Also, Rev. Alton Garrison is the Assistant Superintendent, Rev. John Palmer is the General Secretary, Rev. John Bueno remains as Director of World Missions and Rev. Tollie Wilson comes in as Director of US Missions.

Of local interest, Rev. Doug Clay was elected to the Executive Presbytery - I believe he was the only election to unseat an incumbant.

In hindsight - I can't imagine a better group to have possibly been elected to these positions. No one knows what the 2009 elections will bring or how the world (or A/G) will change between now and then - but for now - I believe we are in God's will as a Fellowship.

Who Will Go?

Thank God and the leadership of the A/G for Friday nights service! Like many, I ended 2 days of business sessions where there were times I agreed with the decisions of the General Council, other times I did not - but on Friday night, what I witnessed was the General Council UNANIMOUS!

To hear missionary group after missionary proclaim that they will go to various areas of world need brought me back to remembering why I am in this fellowship called the Assemblies of God - there was a day when I answered the question, 'Who will go?' with a resounding 'I WILL!'.

I, and lots of other pastors and leaders in the A/G have spent much time considering some important issues in the last few weeks - and we will continue to do so in the next 2 years until the 2009 General Council - but I, personally, have been re-inspired to invest the best of my efforts in fulfilling my calling - to WIN THE LOST!

I will pray for the A/G & it's leaders. I will support the A/G & it's leaders. And I will do the task God has called me to - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace (Acts 20:24).

Feels like homecoming week!

So weird. I'm at General Council in Indianapolis, IN this week. I've talked with some people from my past that I practically forgot even existed! From old friends from CBC or White Plains to new acquaintances whose names I knew but had never talked with before - I feel like I'm in a time warp or a clashing of different worlds!

It was great to be able to judge Rebecca Guglielmo in the short sermon part of the Fine Arts Festival as well as having the crew from WCWC in the audience for both her and Scooter Meyer. Great memories were recalled while talking to Doug Jenkins & Amy Jacobs from HeartSong.

In many ways though - I've been a bit of a loner so far this week. I really haven't had either much opportunity or energy to be very social. I opted out of the CBC alumni gathering tonight & have been pretty much on my own or sitting with new friends (i.e. strangers) for the various meetings or events I have attended.

Next time, I really hope Mary Jo can be with me - she knows a lot more people and chatting it up is always more fun when she's there. Perhaps tomorrow I'll do a better job of mingling while I have the chance!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Time to change seats.

Just finished a nice vacation at Lakeshore Camp - just east of Toronto on Lake Ontario - with the family. Amazingly, this was our 2nd vacation this summer! We went to Michigan in June. That was a lot of fun, living on the beach. This was fun too, but different, since it really was more of a spiritual retreat since we would all (kids & Mary Jo & I) go to services in both the morning and night.

Sometimes it's good for me to sit back and enjoy church. I don't need to worry about the music, or the sound, or the ushers, or the announcements. If I want to pray for people at the altar, I can. If I don't want to, I don't. Just worshipping without being responsible for anything is a treat now and then.

On Tuesday, I'm back on the road again - this time to Indianapolis for General Council. Hopefully, I'll be able to reconnect with a few people and collect some resources that will benefit our church. I'm also going to do some judging for the Fine Arts Festival. I'll be a judge for the Short Sermons. You know what that means? Yep, that's right - I'll be taking notes! Perhaps I'll get some great sermon ideas that I can use!!!!

All in all though, I hope these couple of weeks of enjoying being lead instead of being a leader will be healthy for me. I think it's good for all of us to change seats now and then - sure - nothing is as good as that special seat where the view is just right, and the cushion isn't too hard or too soft - but, you'd never know how good you fit in your old chair unless you test out another chair every once and a while.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Somethin' to pray about

During the week of August 6-10, the Assemblies of God will be electing a new General Superintendent (GS). Some may jokingly call the 'winner' of this election the Pentecostal Pope! In some ways this is true, not so much in other ways. For example, the GS can't re-interpret the Bible or force the rest of the individuals or churches to do or say or believe anything ... mainly because the A/G isn't a religion or denomination, but a fellowship. In a fellowship, you choose to be a part of the group, as opposed to being required to be a part of the group.

But, I digress ...

Although the GS doesn't really impact worship at Liberty A/G or any other A/G church, he or she will have a HUGE impact in setting the course for the fellowship. In many ways, our churches are at a crossroads - some saying 'a new era requires a new approach', while others saying 'let us return to our roots'. Unfortunately, these two camps seem to be beating their respective drums louder than ever - and the new GS is going to have to have the mind of God to know the beat of His (the Lord's) heart and not the sound of man's agendas and idiologies.

So, let's take some time to pray this week. Pray for God to move through our country. Pray that God will allow a group of individuals to hear the call of the Spirit and heed that call. Pray that God has His will in appointing a leader for this group of individuals. And, pray that our church be a part of a move that will prepare the hearts of people for Jesus' soon return!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You've got questions? I'll find answers.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a good question. I like having 'I don't know that!' moments. Typically, I am then sent into the Bible or my library or the internet or even a call to another pastor in an attempt to fill the vacuum of knowledge the question has exposed. This doesn't mean I always find a good answer that satisfies the inquirer, but I give it a good try and enjoy what I learn along the way.

All that being said - it is in this thread that I would welcome any honest question you have about life, the Bible, faith, family, whatever! I'll post my findings as a new entry for everyone to read.

So ... ask away!!!

Where's the Beef?

Gotta love that old commercial. That phase seemed to get a laugh no matter what context it was used. Essentially though - 'Where's the Beef?' means - what's the point? the central issue? the core of what we're talking about? the REAL problem? (the point of a hamburger isn't the bun or the cheese or the lettuce or ketchup ---- it's the BEEF! mmmmm beeeeeeefffff)

I recently asked myself "What's the beef?" with the church gatherings. What's the point of it? Just to hang out or eat or do work projects or share Bible verses & sing a few songs?

I have decided that the reason for these gatherings is resource consolidation. Kinda like the loose change in your pocket and how isn't enough to impact your appetite (yes, I'm still on the diet) since it's barely enough to buy a paper and a coffee. But, combine all the loose change from drawers, the car, laundry room etc - then maybe you can take your wife out to dinner - THIS makes an impact.

See, now I, for one, have never seen a penny not worth picking up. It doesn't matter if it is in a busy area, on the street, beside someone's foot or discarded on a counter (unless it's someone's tip - I don't take tips from servers). I've always felt that each penny was useful, not because of it's value alone - but because of it's value when combined with others. Find enough pennies, and you can go buy a book or a cd or go see a movie - lots of things.

In the same way anyone who isn't a part of 'the church' is also a person who isn't likely to make a spiritual (or eternally significant) impact on the world around them - but - put them all together, and they - like Gideon's Army - can change the world! And every penny counts, even the penny that your life represents! There are actually a number of scriptures that talk about 'gather the people', 'call an assembly', 'they all met together' - and it seems that when this happened, great things followed. Most notable of these events is Acts 2 when the church was given it's power to impact the planet.

I'm just happy to be a penny for the church, if it goes towards making difference in this world - then it's definately worth it.

Giving my 2 cents ....

Rob

Monday, July 23, 2007

Too much all at once

Have you ever attempted too much all at once? I just did - this weekend ... and boy am I paying for it!

I went to visit the doctor last week. No particular reason except to have a basic physical and open my file with him. Everything was fine until I stepped on the scale 189 ... that's right ... 189!!!! Now, for many of you - 189 is no big deal, except, I'm a little guy! I'm not sure that I'm even 5'9" - there's no way that I should be on the cusp of 190. So, while sitting in the examination room. Patiently. Patiently. Patiently. (btw - I know why they call me a 'patient' when I visit) All I can think about is that I have gained 15 lbs in the last 15 months - and that this is a trend that really needs to be curtailed before the year 2019 (I'd be 50 years old - still 5'9" but weighing 333 lbs at my current pace).

Then Dr. Brown enters the room and asks how I'm doing.

"189" I answer.

He looks at me, puzzled.

"I weigh 189. That's close to 190. A number that should never be staring at me from the tips of my toes - maybe someone else's - but not mine!"

Unfortunately, things get worse. My cholesterol level is high. My triglycerides are high. He begins to ask me questions about fatigue. He looks at my fingernails. He's wondering about my thyaroid. I'm going on a diet.

There - I said it. Good thing too - since he had already photocopied a diet plan for me of foods I'm permitted to eat or not. I'm going to excersize.

There - I said that too. He liked the idea - but - not just a casual walk - a real jog (I won't speed walk - it just makes me look silly. If a man is going to excersize - he must excersize like a man)

So, this all happened last Wednesday. I cut out all snacks. I cut out all sweets. I went jogging. I didn't have coffee all weekend (not part of the diet - it just happened). I ordered from the 'healthy choices' section of the menu. I woke up Sunday morning with a hang-over (k - I don't really know what a hang-over feels like, but it felt like someone had transferred all 189 lbs of my body weight into my head - I couldn't lift it. And then, came the headache - oooooh the headache.) Of course, this was Sunday - but not just any Sunday - this was the Sunday my Music Pastor was on vacation and guess who had to preach AND lead worship? Me.

Suffice to say, it is Monday afternoon - and I still have the headache! Clearly, I've attempted too much all at once. Preaching, leading worship, (did I mention I took my dash of the car apart? nevermind - that's another blog for another day), dieting, de-caffinating.

Bottom line is - from now on I'm going to try to watch my waistline the same way I watch my salvation. This means, do all in moderation. I wouldn't go out tomorrow to ER in the hospital to begin my healing ministry - so - why am I trying to win the Boston Marathon as I go for a jog? I'm going to watch my spiritual steps and my good health steps in the same manner - with common sense and wisdom.

God, please help me with BOTH!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

so ....

so - i had this idea to start a blog that would a place for me to write stuff. i had the idea back in January. :( HOW DO YOU START SOMETHING LIKE THIS???? i keep waiting for something monumental to happen so i can start my blog, but then feel if i start too BIG, i'll never be able to maintain momentum. but, when my day is relatively boring (never completely boring when you have a job like i have and 3 kids - but you get my drift, i'm sure) - then i have nothing to write!

so - i had a flash of brilliance that i knew would break my conundrum. JUST SIT DOWN AND WRITE!

so - here i am. nothing particularly interesting to say. no nugget of insight. no momentus event on the horizon.

HEY ... WAIT A SEC! i DO have something to say! i'm already feeling GREAT about getting this blog started, and all it took was a little self-kick-in-the-pants!!!! perhaps if i stopped overanalyzing the other "To-Do's" in my life, but just sat down and started (even if i don't know how to start or where the finish line is), i'd not only accomplish more, but feel better about myself?!?!

so - there ya go! my 1st installment in what will hopefully be an enjoyable hobby for me, and an enjoyable visit for you.

later!