Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How the Falls Looked

Well, Andrea and I, and our friends Joe and Terisa made it to the falls.  We had a great time relaxing and spending time together.  Andrea kept us informed on all of the details of Dickens Our Mutual Friend.  Joe and I watched the girls talk away as we sang songs and asked dumb questions like, "do you know where we can find any water?"  We also spent a good deal of time just talking about the Lord.

I took pictures and thought I would give the highlights.  My lens got dirty on my Nikon, and I got dust in it, but some of the pictures are good.

The gallery can be seen here

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vertical and Horizontal

If you have read my blogs for some time, you are well aware that I am a pretty active member of my local church.  If you are new to reading my blog, then you may think I just went through a great awakening.  I would say the former is the more accurate statement, but as one goes on in his daily walk there are going to be times of awakening to new things in Christ.  I feel the need at this point to tell some of my history.

Well, I came to Christ, if you are Armenian, or I was saved by God, if you are a Calvinist, way back in January of 1988.  I used to be very into the martial arts and had an instructor who took me under his wing.  Through this I was exposed, and to some extent practiced eastern religions.  Well, one day a friend met a girl.  Funny, most mens testimony is that they met a girl, but in this case it was my friend.  He wanted to do everything to gain her, and that included me.  How??? Easy, I got my license in the fall of my senior year and he didn't have his.  (NOTE:  I was wrong on some dates in my life but writing this has helped me remember.  I had to get my license because in October my boss wouldn't let me park my bike inside our Bob Evans.)  So anyway, we started going to church.  A ton of events happened that I don't have time to write about right now, but in the end, somewhere I decided I needed to know what was true.  I had remembered a Pastor coming to visit me and show me love when I was a kid (because of some really bad stuff), and that pastor was the same man that was leading this church that my buddy had me going to.  I was getting this eastern stuff in Karate, and we also had a Muslim girl in our school. 

In my quest to know what was true  I read a number of writings including the Koran and the Bible.  To my young 17 year old mind, Jesus made sense.  To my 17 year old heart Jesus loved me.  Well, I had an exciting plane ride in Texas, that was very similar to flight 255.  When I came home I was invited to see a comedian at this church.  He gave a salvation message and here I am.

I met Andrea later in 1988 at Wayne State University.  I was arguing with God about my future.  I was just being real with him.  I was hurting, lost, alone, and didn't know what I was there for.  As I walked into the music building I saw Andrea and God said, this is what you are here for.  We met and were engaged not long after.

Of course, though Andrea was following the Lord, she was not a member of the church I was attending.  This caused some of the in crowd to have hurt feelings.  Through a series of events I left that church in favor of her church.  I her church there was a genuine desire to build me in what I was becoming; a man, a husband, and a father.  This church got in my face about sin.  This church got in my face about my addiction to bike racing.  This church did this in a loving way of pointing me to the Father.  Never was there the, "You idiot!  What are you doing?", but a genuine love for me and a desire to see Him glorified.

1997, I am strapped to a backboard in a hospital with a broken neck.  Andrea is going into labor with our pumpkin.  Pastors and friends are there not with an I told you so, but a caring hand.  The church pulled together and met our needs.  Sixty days later I am sitting with our associate pastor on my porch and he is challenging me.  I wanted to earn my state number plate.  He wanted me to move on.  Well, move on we did.  Later that year he planted a church and we followed.  It took about a month to hear the word from Father on this, but I did and we went.

In 1998 I was pulled into the pastors office.  I didn't understand the meeting.  There was a feeling that I didn't respect one of the leaders.  This wasn't the case.  It did something, though.  I was confronted and challenged to move from "nephew" to son.  I had remembered what it was like to give my heart to Jesus, and at that moment, something clicked and I had  a new understanding of His love for me. 

Somewhere around 2001 I had another encounter and experience with Jesus.  This centered around multi-culturalism.  We are a multi-cultural church.  Our pastor had brought an African American pastor in to give us some pointers on being culturally sensitive.  The core group learned a lot about having a lot to learn.  Some of us were offended.  This was Jesus pulling weeds.  I was hurt for a young boy who has never come back to our church because of this guy.  The guy made a joke about this kid and it crushed him.  Well, since everyone else was going to the pastors office to get dealt with, I had a trip, too.  We had a knock down drag out brawl.  I was not being heard about what really was the matter.  I think the pastor  lumped me in with everyone else.  As we fought, pastor and I, it became evident that I had a little problem with authority.  Today I think people understand what I was truly upset about as the guy who made the comment and I have become friends, but there was a bigger picture God wanted to deal with.  He wanted me to learn how to be under authority.

In 2004 I went back to the pastors office.  This time it was to deal with rejection.  I had moved into a leadership position and felt that people were against me.  Pastor Oz and I had a sitdown and dealt with the matter.  I took a 20 week course and changed jobs all around that time period.  This helped me see the Lord in a way that I had not before.  I was learning to be unoffended.  The cross is the ultimate act of a man unoffended.  When Jesus hung there and said "forgive them Father" it showed me that I needed to let Him work in my life.

Shortly there after I was named as the "youth pastor."  I really have learned a lot about ministering in love and compassion.  Seeing the youth has helped me see Jesus.  Through the last couple of years Andrea and I have learned a lot.  We have always done a lot in the church, but we have grown in how we do it.  We have been doing a lot more administration.  We have worked with the youth in our region.  We have started networking youth ministries together in an effort to see the whole body of Christ move to change Michigan.  We have been on missions trips.  In all of this we have seen Jesus. 

Today I am just continuing a longer journey.  My heart is to plant a church.  My heart is to replicate the work we are currently a part of.  I want to see Jesus glorified in our community.  I want to see families as whole as they can be and moving together as one body.  I want to see the poor reached as they are now in a different area.  I want to see MLK's vision acted out in our congregation.  I want to see more of the Father and be open to His vision. 

I hope you can see that through all of my life there have been two major lines drawn.  There has been a vertical line.  This line has been the one Father uses to pull me closer to Him.  There has also been the horizontal line.  This is another line Father has used to pull me closer to Him.  These horizontal lines are mandatory.  If I did not have them I would not know Him as I do.  The horizontal lines have not always been perfect, but they have been beneficial.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More Revelation Since the Book

The past two weeks have been a Revelation 2 time period for me.  Everything I have been seeing points me back to Revelation 2.  I have been talking to young married couples with struggles...Revelation 2.  I have been looking at my involvement in our church...Revelation 2.  My homework for Bible College... How ironic, it ended up being Revelation 2.

You are asking how this relates to "So you don't want to go to church anymore.." , so I will tell you.  I mentioned in my review on the book that its best foot was put forward in pointing people back to their first love.  How does that relate to Revelation 2?  The church at Ephesus gets a strong warning because they forgot their first love.

Many people write off Ephesus as the backslidden church or the loveless church.  I don't agree.  As I read the passage I saw much of my own life in there.  As I listened to people I heard much of the words of the passage.  I thought about my homework as being a prophetic teaching tool for my life.

I love the Lord.  I work hard in the church.  I minister regularly.  I help organize many of the outreaches we do.  I hate when people are deceived.  I hate when the devil gets into a persons life and messes with their head.  I hate false teaching.  I even get upset at misinterpretation of scripture.  Do you see how I am like the church at Ephesus?

What was the warning, then to a church who did so much and hated what is evil?  In all their work and good principles, they forgot their first love.  This is scary.  I have so many times forgotten things.  I have forgotten how far He has carried me.  I forget how often He has healed me.  I forget how many times He has provided for me when there was no other provision coming in.  I forget how many times I have seen Him in my life.

In reading about Ephesus, it is mandatory that you go back to the founding of the church in Acts.  In Acts 19, I believe, you get a glimpse of the work the apostle Paul does in the church.  One of the key things to me is the fervor in which they were converted.  In Acts 19:19, you get  a snapshot of something amazing.  These people were so radically moved by the love of Jesus that they burned anything that wasn't of Him.  The value on the items burned was pretty high.  Depending on what study you read, the value of what was burned could be equal to a Grand Caravan in your driveway. 

So, I sit here thinking about Revelation 2.  Thinking about how much I have worked.  Thinking about how many good principles I have.  Heeding the warning, I think about how good He is.  I think not in the abstract of what I was before Him, but in the specifics.  I was hurt.  I was wounded.  I had gotten bitter.  I did not know love.  I couldn't accept love.  I felt I was only there to entertain others.  I was on no path.  I had no direction because I had no worth. 

I needed Jesus and He knew it.  He did not exempt me from the cross.  He did not say "I will love everyone except Rob."  He said "Rob, I love you."  He showed me love.  He led me to Him.  He held me.  He gave me the direction I needed.  He ordered my steps and created a desire in me to work in the church.  He loved me enough that it made me want to make sure everything revolved around Him.

I had gotten into all of the work I have been into out of a motivation to serve Him.  The truth is, I think we all do this.  We all make decisions because of Him.  We all make decisions because we think we should do certain things.  But, have we made our decisions, or done our work, or built our principles out of love for Him?  Sure we made our choice to follow Him out of love, but have we based everything on our desperate love for Him?  Did we wake up this morning, turn on the computer, and plan our day with a mindset that said, "God help me to do the things today that get me closer to you.  Help me to love my children like you love me.  Help me to guide them like you guided me, not just to teach them good principles, but to love them forward.  Lord help me to remember the depth from which you reached to get me, and live out of that love."

I think about parenting.  I think of how I teach my kids good principles.  I teach them the Bible.  I teach them right form wrong.  I think they are getting old enough to know the difference.  Here is a common Revelation 2 mistake that I see in many parents.  I, and many of us do the right things. I train and love my kids, but I need to apply Revelation 2.  I need to be desperate for them.  I need to love them.  It isn't enough to show them right from wrong, but to continually show them Jesus.  This isn't the job of the pastor or the youth pastor.  I need to focus as a parent on how to worship Him through parenting.  I need to commit them to Jesus and care for them like Jesus cared for me.  I need to go a step further than good principles and give them the "why" sometimes.  I need to show them Jesus' love for them at every opportunity.  I need to focus everything on Jesus so that they focus everything on Jesus. 

Many of the things I do are teaching.  I need to rethink this.  With kids, more is caught, not taught.  When my kids see me desperate for Jesus they become desperate for Jesus.  I have seen this on the times I have been this way in front of them.   Lord help me to live this way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Where is the Right Spot on the Pendulum?

Did you ever watch those marbles on a pendulum?  I have.  It is really neat.  They just swing to and fro, then fro and to.  How do those middle balls stay in nearly the same place?  Don’t you wish you were like those middle balls, not affected by the right or the left?

The Bible offers many scriptures about keeping in center and not veering to the right or left.  Jesus used a real life visual to Peter when they were out on the water.  Jesus came walking along on the water and tells Peter to come out and join him.  Peter does have the guts to try, but gets caught up in fear of what is all around him, forgetting who is before him.

It offers a lot of scripture about parenting, too.  There are a number of Proverbs that we apply to our family.  Jesus has showed me a lot about loving, and loving children; yet still, this morning I ponder on the pendulum of generational parenting and whether or not I am center or just one of the outside balls.

Last night I was sitting down to do homework for Bible College.  Fortunately for me this was an assignment on Revelation 2:1-7, which I have been dealing with in my life.  We are doing a presentation on the word to the church at Ephesus, and my job is to discuss what it means today.  So I sat down to write it, feeling like Ralphie in “The Christmas Story” where he says, “Never have the words flowed from my penny pencil with such feverish fluidity.”  I could write for hours about what I am going to share, but I would never get to the point of the topic I want to talk about here today.

So, anyway, as I was sitting down to work, I looked at my watch.  It was 7:40.  Andrea and I had been talking about something for Jordan, since his birthday is Friday.  I asked her if she wanted me to take him somewhere.  She ignored me until all the kids were in bed.  Hey lady, we just celebrated 16 years of wedded bliss, you can’t do that to me….. ;0)  I am kidding, and digressing.  I am sorry.

Well, with the kids in bed Andrea and I had a little discussion.  It wasn’t an argument or intended to hurt each other’s feelings, but it was one of those rare discussions where you don’t articulate well what you are feeling and you think the other should just know and fall in line.  She explained to me the finances and I explained to her the pendulum.

What is the pendulum for you, Rob?  Well, I had a great upbringing.  Both my parents loved me.  One thing that I can say, though, in my early years it was very easy to focus on the negative side of raising me and pointing out how I blew it at certain times that I was about to get gifted.  I will never forget the time I was going to get a MX bike but didn’t because I was in a fight.  It hurt me to this very day.  I was the victim of a circumstance and never even wanted to be in the fight.  So, not only did I not fight back on purpose and get beat up in front of the school, get suspended for a day from the sixth grade wrongfully, get made fun of by everyone for not fighting back, get the paddle from the principle, and a bunch of other things, I got “we were just about to buy you this MX bike you wanted, but you wrecked it.”

I had unfortunately just done that to my boys this weekend.  Saturday was the only downhill race in Michigan and I wanted to go.  I also wanted to go to Niagara Falls in a  couple of weeks, and Jordan’s birthday is this Friday, so finances were winning the war in my heart over going to the race.  I am still the head of the house and can reserve my final decision on the matter, though.  Well, the boys were rowdy all last week and, that pushed me over the edge.  I told them we weren’t going because of their school attitudes.  In reality, even for Andrea, that was true.  I couldn’t reward them for the week they had given my wife.  Even if it was a bad financial decision, it was the only downhill race I Michigan and I wanted to go, but, you can’t reward bad behavior, so therefore I suffered and missed the only thing I love to do, and the only opportunity I had this year to do it.  Swing pendulum left.

Swing pendulum right.  Back to the birthday conversation; since this situation affected me so much I always think about it and look at it in regards to rewarding or blessing my kids.  Nathan is a great kid.  The thing about it with him, though, is that sometimes he can be difficult.  Nathan has been a little tough this year as we head into man voice and broad shoulders, if you know what I mean.  I can’t reward that stuff.  Yet, you may have noticed that he got a new guitar.  Here is the pendulum working in the other way.  This boy has practiced for hours daily since he first got a guitar.  It is something he is doing well in his life and something I can use to speak to him.  I am not going to hold back on the best opportunity I have right now of connecting with him and teaching him to follow Jesus and how to grow up into a man.

It is the same way with my other kids, too.  Now, add in Jordan, who is very outward and giving, and the fact that his birthday is Friday and you can see why I am swing to and fro, and fro and to.  It was the very act of his good nature that is compelling me to want to do what I want to do for him.  I bless one for diligence, so I must bless one who works hard to earn things so he can bless others.

I know.  There are other ways that you can bless that don’t include finances to the degree I am thinking of.  This is why the pendulum swings, though, and I thought I would share it.  For me, I am not so sure I am even swinging the pendulum all the way to the right.  This was just something I resolved in myself long before I was married and had kids.  It was one of the first grown up thoughts I remember having.  The thought of, “I don’t ever want to make that mistake with my kids where I take away what may be the one open door into the lives of my children.”

So anyway, here I sit and pray, and all I hear is click click click.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sixteen Years

Well, today Andrea and I have officially been married sixteen years.  To some, this would seem like a miracle.  The two of us are very different in many ways.  She is quiet, beautiful, very hard working, very organized, smart, and self sufficient.  I, on the other hand and loud, wild, free wheeling, quick witted and needy.  Andrea could be fine on a deserted island with just a box of books.  She would be able to travel back in time to the 1800’s and be totally comfortable with the lack of technology.  She didn’t need to get married.  She could have been totally happy in life without a man.

Me, well, lets just say I am glad I live today.  I wish I could have been in an area with more snow in the winter so I could do more snowmobiling.  I would like to have jumped a number of things that I didn’t get a chance to before I sold my sled.  If I had my way I would race rally cars, motocross, mountain bikes, and stadium trucks.  I would have more time for XBOX and bass guitar.  I would find a way to keep thin in a bottle.  I would center my house around the giant screen video machine.  I would have a dvd camcorder so I could capture each extreme thing.  I would need friends and someone to be there for me all the time, especially to take care of my boo boo’s.

Well, this is why some would think this past sixteen years is a miracle.  But, you see, God is into doing things His way.  Let’s go back to when we met.  It was back in September of 1988.  I was walking along at Wayne State, arguing with God.   I had no idea why I was there.  I had no real friends and could not understand the fast pace of college life.  I couldn’t get on the same page as anyone.  As I walked along I was telling God all this stuff.  It was a rough time and I was letting God know it.  I was asking Him for answers to all the riddles in my life at the time.  I wasn’t getting any answers until I walked into the Music Center at WSU.  At that point I was almost reconciled to an attitude of “are you done” from Father, but He had a little surprise for me.  As I met up with some of the people I knew I was introduced to Andrea.  She looked great, and it would have been nice to know her, but here is what happened.  When I saw her I heard the voice of Father telling me, “Son, she is why you are here.”  We were engaged in July of 1989, ten months later.

Marriage is not what I expected it to be.  Obviously, as a young man, I now had a wife beside me and there were a lot of adjustments to make.  I don’t remember it that way, though.  I remember that she made it easy in a lot of ways.  Marriage was actually natural for us.  Even though we are different, it just seemed to work.  Yes, there were some areas that were a clash but that was nothing to the things I think we found.  In our marriage things that should have been impossible just flowed.  I remember the birth of our first son.  Everyone around me was panicking because I didn’t even know which end of the baby was up.  I am sure people thought I was going to accidentally kill the poor child by diaper suffocation.  Well, he is thirteen today and we have three more to boot. 

How can marriage be so easy when two people are so different?  I’ll tell you.  I don’t know.  Ok, I do know.  I just wanted to quote Reptevia from The Fiddler on the Roof.  God.  That is the answer.  Now, there are things that He built in Andrea that make it easy.  I will take a few minutes to tell you about my wife and why marriage is easy.

  1. She loves me.

  2. She talks to me.

  3. She listens to me.

  4. She cares about what I care about.

  5. She seeks Father.

  6. She prays for me.

  7. She supports me.

  8. She is good at things that I am not good at.

  9. She is rational.

  10. She is HOT!

  11. She is funny

  12. She allows both of us to grow and doesn’t force me to be where she is.

  13. She is a rock.

  14. She can kiss me and I see stars.

  15. She encourages me.

  16. She helps me see things in a different light or consider new things.

Those are just some of the things.  I could go on and on.  I will tell you that I do have one regret about marrying Andrea, though.  My one regret is that we got engaged in 1989 and got married in 1991.  If I had it to do over again I would have gotten married in 1989.  I know, men, you will all read this blog and get jealous.  Many men are.  I know, women, you will read this blog and feel inadequate.  Many women do.  BUT.  I firmly believe that all of the qualities that God knows you need are found in your spouse just as they are in mine.

Well, with that said, I didn’t go into all the mushy details of how much I love Andrea, but I do.  Andrea, I love you and I am so glad you married me.  You could have done anything in life you wanted to.  You are so capable of doing anything, but you chose to be my wife.  I want you to know how much I appreciate that choice.  Thank you for the life you have so willingly shared with me these years.

With all my love,


Your Robert

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Awards Awards!

I just got two awards. 
Apparently Kristie gave me the "You make me smile" award.

And Andrea gave me the "Blogging Star" award.

I appreciate both of the awards, and will look to figure out what I am supposed to do next.

Did I mention that tomorrow is mine and Andrea's Sweet Sixteen Wedding Anniversary?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

If God Blogged!

I found out why more people aren't coming to the Lord!