Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New and Old

Well another year has come and gone and to say that this year has been full is an understatement. Of course Amy and I welcomed our daughter Ally into the world this summer and that has led to such an incredible amount of joy and wonder.  How God continues to teach me lessons through the joy and trials of parenthood is astounding and quite humbling as well.

Apart from being a full time dad, husband, and youth pastor this past year was my first year of my Master of Divinity work.  This new challenge has definitely been just that, a challenge.  School is not my first love but the knowledge that has come from what I have studied, read, and learned has been priceless.  Next to the lessons I learn about God through my daughter this has been probably the biggest push for a spiritual awakening of sorts in my life.

This awakening has been one that has been rumbling deep in the core of my being for awhile.  Longing for more than just the ordinary.  Desiring more than just getting by and biding my time.  Wanting to touch the very face and heart of God and then refusing to be the same.  I want to experience the unimaginable and discover the unthinkable in reference to what God has for me.  Hopefully along the way I challenge, encourage and inspire others to do the same.  Between family, school and then all of it coming to a culmination at NYWC I have been moved to a new place.  I have been pushed to accept more and to not be satisfied till I get more and more and more.  If God is more then I want God.  If God is never ending than my more should be the same.  It should never stop.  This excites me as what the next year holds for both me and my ministry as I look to be an agent of change in the lives of the teens who walk through my doors and who I come in contact with in their world.

With the new year there is almost always the thought that goes to resolutions and new beginnings and I have to say that in almost a cliche way I am doing the same.  I have made some resolutions for my life and the last paragraph is the bulk of what I hope for.  There is always the traditional get in better shape, be a little better on the organization part of things, etc... but the desire to experience more of God is one that if all others fail and that happens then it will have been a successful 2009.  In January I am starting a series entitled "Leftovers" and how those leftovers are detrimental to our resolutions and how in our Christian walk leftovers can be the killer of a burning passion.  I hope that through this series I learn something.  I hope that the teens do as well, but I want to be the first student of the messages that I share with the teens.  Who knows I may post some of the sermons here for you to look over or just to share with someone who might stumble on my page.  May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob be a presence of peace, hope, joy and salvation in your life as the new year begins.  

I am outie 5000,


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you all!  Amy and I were sitting around this morning after the gifts had been opened and the cinnamon rolls had been eating and talking about the last 4 Christmas' in our lives and how they were crazy different.  4 Christmas' ago we were both single and Christmas cards were signed individually.  The next year they were signed together as a married couple.  The following year we were together and signed with expecting Ally.  Then this year we signed the three of us.  It is amazing how God continues to bless and move in our lives as we are constantly seeking His face.  It is His direction, guidance, and plan for our lives that we want and to achieve that and to be where we are now is a sweet thing.  All the uncertainties seem so trivial now compared to what God has done in our lives for His glory.

As the day continues and we will, before we know it, take down the tree and decorations and the New Year celebrations will be upon and we will usher in a new year and that comes with it; new promises, joy, sadness, expectations, hope, and whatever else is new.  My prayer as 2008 closes and 2009 opens is that God would continue to receive the glory in our home and that as I continue on this journey with Him and as He continues to stretch, mold, and make me into the man that He desires me to be, I hope I am able to share and hopefully show the light of God's love to one who is searching.

I am outie 5000,


Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I finished Crazy Love tonight.  It took me longer to finish than I wanted but mainly because I took a short hiatus on reading it as the Christmas season came in full force.  After I finished I just had to sit on my couch for a bit and try and digest what I had just read.  It has now been a month since I was in attendance at NYWC and I can still honestly say that I am still trying to process all that I heard and experienced.  The only other time that this has been true in my life was my time in YWAM.  Have you ever thought about the love of God?  I mean seriously sat down and processed what it means to be loved by God.  Crazy Love is exactly what it is.  Not only that but if we were to be honest with ourselves we would have to admit that God wants nothing but Crazy Love in return from us and He truly deserves it.  The problem with this though is that it will make us extremely uncomfortable because there is no way to love God as fully and passionately as He requires and still remain in our comfortable position.

I experienced this first hand the other day and God REALLY slapped me upside the head.  Ally has been really congested recently and has had a lot of snot in her nose and it's difficult for her to breath with it so full.  So we have this contraption that sucks out the boogers so that she can breath.  Here is where the problem lies.  She hates it.  She fights and pushes away and cries and resists and makes it at times nearly impossible to put the thing in her nose.  All I want to do is remove the obstacle in her life that is making her even more uncomfortable but because it is a little uncomfortable she would rather continue struggling to breath.  Last Wednesday was probably the worst that I had ever experienced and I got so frustrated with her.  She fought so much that I finally gave up and let her continue on not breathing as well as she could, because I didn't want to hurt her.  It wasn't until later that day that I saw what God wanted me to see.  He does the exact same thing for us in our lives.  He so badly wants to remove the obstacles that are keeping us from experiencing His fullness in our lives but because we have become so comfortable with the "boogers" in our lives we don't want to go through what it will take to remove them.

As I sat there and thought through the areas in my life where I have junk that I have been carrying even though I don't have to I began to understand more fully what God wants to do in my life.  It was as if He was saying, "Robb, let me get this crap out of your life.  If I do you will experience a fullness of life that you haven't ever tasted before.  It's going to be uncomfortable for a bit but it's necessary if you want to get what I have for you."  Just as much as I wanted to ease Ally's breathing, God wants to ease my burden.  God wants to help me experience life to the fullest here so that life there will be even sweeter.  Why am I so stubborn?

I want to just say a simple thank you to Mr. Francis Chan for being God's instrument in writing this book.  I have read many books about my walk and my life in Christ but none have ever impacted me the way that this one has.  This one will go on my desk as one of those books that constantly reminds me of God's Crazy Love for me and that my only appropriate response is giving God my Crazy Love in return, no matter what it costs me.

I am outie 5000,


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I hadn't planned on writing on this particular subject for awhile but two different books that I am going through right now both talked about how important this issue was for a Christian to live the kind of life that we have been set apart to live.  The first run in I had with this topic was in a book that I am going through with a group of Senior High guys in a Bible study.  The second time that I ran into this subject was in the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan which I have alluded to in previous posts.  Both of these instances came yesterday.  The first with came at 6:30 in the morning at the Bible study and then the second instance was yesterday afternoon as I had gotten away from the office to work on tonight's message.  The title of this post is exactly what I want to discuss.  Most of us would say that hate is un-godly and I have told my students to hate someone in their heart is the same as killing them.  We speak against hate of people regardless of their race, creed, or any number of other issues and this is crucial.  But I think because of the fear of the word hate we, the Church, have not spoken about hate in a productive way.  The hate that I am talking about is the hatred of sin.

Many might say that there are plenty of people who are busy talking about hating sin and it's become this dividing line.  And true there are a number of people who talk about hating sin in the church.  I spent some time in Topeka and can think of a group right now but the problem with that is that they tie the sin and sinner together and end up hating the sinner as well as the sin as if they are the same thing.  When it is quite clear that they are not.  Scripture is clear about the fact that God hates sin.  It is the one thing that He truly hates.  He doesn't hate creation or even the enemy.  He created all and therefore loves all, but he hates what sin does and how it separates and destroy the very thing that He loves.  Here is where it gets tricky for us Christians.  What I am about to talk about is not certain issues that are sin.  I dont want to be accused of justifying something that some see as sin and others dont.  I dont want to condemn actions either as sin when others dont feel that they are.  My job is not to judge the difference of what sin is or is not.  That is God's.  My whole purpose of this post is to talk about the Christian's response needs to be to our own lives.

It is time that we as Christians start hating sin in our lives.  Stop making concessions that allows it to remain.  We want to see the Church be a powerful force again and not something that is seen as a joke or hypocritical or even powerless then we need to start living in such a way that we hate sin in our own lives.  To often we look at things that we are doing and try to line it up against others and say that we are doing better than them so its ok.  When in truth we are only being held up to one plum line, God's.  Sure we might be "better" than someone else by our book because we aren't doing such and such but we arent being graded on a curve here.  We are called to live up to God's standards not our own or those around us.  Imagine if we could start to hate the sin that we know that trips up our own lives and start living in such a way that eradicates it from our lives with the help from God then we could speak and have two legs to stand on.  It's hard to be called a hypocrite when what we say and how we live actually line up.  The thing about sin is that it keeps us from experiencing the fullness of God in our own lives.  It puts up this wall that separates us from the love of God.  For those who call themselves Christians but dont hate sin and allow some sort of sin to remain in our lives we can put ourselves in a very precarious place.  Revelation describes it as lukewarm and God is going to spew (spit, vomit, gag, wretch) out of His mouth.  Francis Chan gives a great set of ideas of what a lukewarm person is and he asks the reader to do a true self assessment of their life right now.  Not who they were or want to be but right this very minute if any part of their faith journey is described.  I dont want to ruin this for those of you who might be interested in this book so I will just say Go Get It and look at your life.  When I looked honestly at the core of who I was there are areas where I prefer to be lukewarm because it's easier than being on fire.  It doesnt cost me anything.  I have areas where I don't hate sin enough to rid my life of it and it has brought my spiritual temp down to the lukewarm level.  What scare me is that I am (0r was till made aware) comfortable with where I was at and considered myself ok.  What a wretched man I am.  Isaiah's words ring so loud in my ears.  Look at Isaiah 6 and his reaction to standing in front of the Holy of Holies and he knows that the sin in his life will doom him.  As yesterday went I struggled with this.  I want to be on fire.  I want to know that I would give it all for the sake of the cross.  I want to pay the ultimate price.  Whether I am viewed as off base, wrong, eccentric, or lose everything I want to keep my heart in the place where I dont make concessions that allow sin to remain in my life.  

I want to make one thing clear as far as "allowing sin to remain."  I dont mean those stumbles along life's journey.  I am not talking about losing it every once in awhile.  I do not want to ignore grace and what it does.  Nor do I want to cheapen grace by allowing sin to allow in my life that I feel comfortable with.  I am talking about those issues that you know are wrong.  Those things that dont seem that bad in your life compared to all this other stuff.  To allow that kind of sin to remain is the issue.  To not be completely sold out to Christ that is the issue. To no hate sin the same as God is what I am talking about.  I dont want to stand before God and have him call out some area in my life where I became comfortable with the sin that was there and I choose the rags of this earth to cover when He wanted to offer me the clothing of righteousness.  

Lord teach me to hate sin my life like you do.  Let me be concerned first about my heart and life and how to live in such a way that allows me to become more like you.  Father let my life be so refined that others look, see you and because of the fact that my walk and talk line up you are able to convict their hearts.  

I realize that I may have stepped on some toes.  Please dont ask me to lay out the sins that we should avoid or the things we should do to keep from sinning.  Again that is not my purpose in writing this.  I wanted share what God has spoken to me.  I am not going to get up and bash or judge issues.  I want to judge my life in accordance with God's standards and hate the sin that I have allowed to remain in me.  

"I want to yearn for You.  I want to burn with passion over You and only You." (Shane and Shane "Yearn")

I am outie 5000,


Monday, December 8, 2008


It's been a few days since my last posting but it's been a busy season as I try and wrap up my class, the Christmas season at church, and just trying to be a good dad and husband.  I have to admit that I have also been a little leary of posting due to the number of thoughts that I have racing through my mind.  So I will probably try and spend some extra time on here just putting down the thoughts so that I can just get them all out and worked through.  The first and probably most pressing on my heart has to do with my last two posts.  I have enjoyed reading the comments and glad that others have appreciated them as well.  There is one thing that bothers me though and it has since I wrote the words.  How do I go from words on a screen to actually living it out?  I know the practical Sunday school answer but that doesn't cut it.  Sorry for those of you who would say just do it.  It sounds simple enough but think of what it requires.  It will be a major life shift and it's not that I am afraid of change, in fact I think change allows God to do more because things seem so unstable, it's that the life change is unsure of where to start.

There were several comments that talked about the fact that what I was feeling is not just something I am experiencing but that others are in the same position and there is a growing desire for more and different.  I love that but what are they doing and where are they at?  Who are they?  Are they in current ministry settings?  Are they in the crowd just waiting for someone to lead them?  Are they doing something about it?  I know that there are those who are changing things and I love it, but what about those who feel the same and are not doing anything about it.  The more I continue this journey the deeper my questions and answers take me and its a good thing but there is a part that is frustrating because I dont want to just put words down in my journal or on here and then never do anything about it.  I want to live it out and be that catalyst for change.  Someone has to do it so why not me?  Why cant I do that?  It's not about being the leader of a big group or becoming famous.  If it were to ever come to that I would hope I would have the stones to quit.  I just want more of God.  I want more of His Grace, His Love, His Holiness, His Presence in my life.  I know that it will have to change who I am and if I change it has to change those around me.  My prayer is that God would use me as He desires.  I think of Paul and seeing how he always hides himself behind the cross I know that fame was never his desire.  I can honestly say that it's not mine as well.  Some my ask why even discuss it and to be honest because we live in a world where fame is constantly sought after even by some in the ministry.  I want to be about Christ and Him crucified.

I am tired of writing and speaking words that discuss being different and hit this idea of depth but then it never makes a lasting impact in my life or those that I am responsible for ministering to.  I am tired of being in church but it never getting past the door frame of the sanctuary.  Why is that we are content with sitting and listening saying our "Amens" "Hallelujahs" and "Praise The Lords" but when it comes to putting it into action or motion we forget the very message we so adamantly supported.  I am tired of this.  I am tired of self.  I am tired of self-control.  I am tired of self-containment of the life in me that the Grave could not even contain.  Yet we live as if we have to be this prim and proper person without emotion unless in the right place in the service.  The Gospel I read and want to be apart of is dangerous.  It's challenging.  It's dirty.  It's not polite.  It doesn't hold back but fully releases the Glory of The One Who Came To Save.  It takes the very presence of God and allows it to explode all over life so that one can not experience it and then just sit and enjoy.

So what does that look like in a practical, hands on, lived out life?  How do I take words that resonate in my heart and make them work their way to my hands and feet, to my head so that I think, act, and live differently?  I know it's possible and I know the "answer" but I want more.  I hope that this post makes sense and doesn't resemble the nonsense that I know it looks like in my head.  More to come.

I am outie 5000,


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Dont Know God.

I started reading Francis Chan's book Crazy Love yesterday.  I made it through chapter 1.  A youth pastor friend of mine told me that I would buy this book after hearing Francis speak at NYWC.  As he told a couple of us about it I decided that I would buy it before because it was stirring something in my soul that I could not yet explain and still working through.  As I was reading I would stop and watch these videos that were online and would have to stop and catch my breath and pray because my heart was leaping and pulling and yearning for so much more of what I was encountering.  The issue that I discovered was that I did not know God like I really longed to and I didnt even realize it.  I know God as savior, I know him as Lord but I dont know Him in the way that a child should know their parent or a husband his wife.  I began to think of all the "stuff" I know and I was had to confess that my heart did not know God like it knew random useless facts. I want to KNOW God in every possible way.  I want to discover Him anew as one who discovers the love of their life.  I want to be so passionately wrapped up in who God is that He spills into everything I do and I cant help but share about Him even when words are not used.  As I was praying I thought of St. Francis of Asisi and his words about preaching the Gospel.  It brought on a whole new meaning to what he meant.  The post from Monday was just part of that.  As I was looking back over what I had written I realized that it was great and challenging and thought provoking but if it never moves from heart and head to my hands and feet then it's absolutely worthless.  Great ideas stay ideas unless there is a change that takes place to make them count for something.  I want to discover how to make what I wrote be a literal life change.  For that to happen I need to know God in every conceivable way.  I need to discover the greatness of His being.  I need to see the depth of His love and holiness.  I need to allow all of that to fill every fiber of my being so that I am no longer myself but Christ living in me.  I long for more and I long to be changed by a God who regardless of what I discover and know I will never fully comprehend, know or even contain in my finite self.

Can you just imagine what incredible things we would discover if we would allow God to have the position of authority in our lives and if we would come to burning desire to lay everything down to know Him more.  I have a feeling it would transform our lives, our churches (the body not the building), our communities and our world.

I am outie 5000,


Monday, December 1, 2008

The liberal rants of a conservative or the conservative rants of a liberal.

I just recently returned from a trip to Nashville for the National Youth Workers Convention and I have to say that it was quite possibly one of the greatest spiritual renewing events I have ever been a part of.  Probably more this year than last.  After I got back and was going over the convention and the swarming of thoughts that I had filling my mind I started to think and question just what church is about anyway.  I want to warn you that the following is just thoughts from the convention and a great deal of reading about John and Charles Wesley.  There maybe somethings that you read that disturb you and push you to think and to be honest I hope it does.  Please dont think that I am losing my faith or walking away from God.  On the contrary I feel as if my relationship with Christ is stronger than ever and I am excited about what God is doing in my heart, mind and life.  

One of the first things that I want to share deals with a comment that the president of Youth Specialties made regarding angry emails that he receives typically from the more theologically conservative youth pastors regarding the speakers that they bring in.  I think what breaks my heart the most is that it goes beyond just complaining that a Christian company has gone "too liberal."  I wonder if we conservatives spent more time sharing the love of God and the freedom that is found in Christ and less time writing complaining emails or trying to defend God then the lives of people would actually be changed by God and there would be less to complain about.  Instead being so concerned that "In God We Trust" being taken off our money why not make sure we are honoring God with our money.  If God's name is not on our currency does that mean that God is no longer in control?  No.  Instead of being more concerned with taking God out of the Pledge why are we not more concerned about the life of the man who is pushing for that.  Most people don't know how to say the Pledge correctly anyways so why not spend more time showing the love of God to those who truly need it.

I constantly hear this talk about how the founding fathers would be shocked at what the government is coming too and how they were Christians and this country was founded on Christian values.  Coming from a Nazarene background I hate to say it but not a single founding father would be given membership in our denomination.  Most of those who are seen as Christians also belonged to the Freemasons.  According to our very own manual members are not allowed to be a part of any organization where there are secret oaths and rituals.  Thomas Jefferson was at best a deist and Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian.  I understand wanting to protect the Christian freedom but the thing that makes America great is that there is freedom of religion.

Another area of concern and this stems from this past election year and the amount of negativity from both sides of the political spectrum concerning the candidates and certain issues that were passionately defended.  The fact of the matter regarding the election of Barack Obama is this.  Regardless of whether or not he has a Christian faith or not God is still on His throne and was not caught off guard by this.  Besides who are we to question a man's relationship with the Father?  Are we living our lives in such a way that no one can question our own personal walk?  Then there is the issue of gay marriage.  Christians on the conservative end have talked about protecting the sanctity of marriage and I am all for that however, we as a body of believers have not done our part in this regard.  When the percentage of marriages inside the church walls is the same of that outside then the idea that we stand for the sanctity of marriage gets very shaky.  The same Bible that is used as a basis of support for one man and one woman speaks very clearly to the issue of divorce and that it is not right.

Instead of conservatives being so concerned about defending God let's start living in such a way that He doesn't need defending.  Spend less time writing angry letters and emails and spend that time sharing the Gospel with those in need of God's saving grace.  Instead of walking out on someone who shares a belief that we don't agree with listen and allow God to either solidify what we already believe or possibly change parts if it lines up.

Instead of liberals being so concerned about redefining what Scripture means today start living it out in such a way that people are drawn to the Christ we proclaim and let our lives be the example.  Instead of claiming that conservatives are old fashioned listen to what they have to say and then it solidifies what you believe or possibly changes parts because it lines up.

The Church's greatest enemy is no longer Satan, it has in fact become it's on worst enemy.  We are more concerned with the protection, the redefinition, the defending of our beliefs that we have stopped being the true agent of change in a world that is desperately seeking something more than just lip service.  If we could start living out the words in red then imagine what would happen in the world.  Satan would have to start ramping up his work against the Church again and it would once again be a relevant force in the world.

There is a comment that is made from time to time that makes me want to laugh because of the implications of what it would mean for us if the comment were to become true.  "I want to be a second chapter of Acts church."  Personally I think it's a great goal.  I would love to be apart of a movement that was as powerful as that first church.  To see thousands added to the faith daily is an overwhelming and exciting thought but one that requires much more than most if not all American churches would be willing to sacrifice.  Think about what that church was doing.  They were selling all their possessions and giving the money to the church so that no one was without.  They were taking care of the widow, orphan, homeless, sick, poor, etc... the list goes on and on.  They put aside personal likes, desires, and tastes so that the Gospel of Christ would be shared.  They faced persecution like we have never seen.  They had to choose faith over life if it meant that much to them.  We don't know what it means to truly suffer for the cross.  We are more concerned if we have God on our money, God in our pledge, and the "right" person in office.  We want hymns or choruses, drums or the organ, casual or dressed up, we want people to come to us when it's very clear that we are to go to them.  We get uncomfortable when someone doesnt smell right, dress right, look right, act right, or talk right comes in.  Instead of being a hospital for the sick and hurting we become a country club for those who know the proper way of presenting themselves.  

I have recently been reading a great deal about John Wesley who the Nazarenes trace our core beliefs back too.  What amazed me was what John and Charles presented looks nothing like what we are today.  I would take it so far that what they presented would fit more with the emergent church of today.  To them the issue of sanctification, which is a term that is thrown around a lot, was not just a list of rules that you followed.  In fact there were two facets to their idea of sanctification.  The first being personal and the change that transpired in the heart and mind.  But if it didn't affect the social world that the person found themselves in then they were not being actively sanctified.  It was more than just a one time experience.  The brothers saw a direct correlation between personal and social holiness and you could not have truly personal holiness without having the social holiness as well.  Instead of doing something that lets us be the the "savior" let's work together so that there is a learning relationship established and God can save us both.

I know that there is a lot of thoughts and opinions here but just things that I have been wrestling with and trying to sort through on how this changes not only my own personal faith journey but also how I minister in the realm of being a youth pastor.  I am sure you noticed that there is a new name and new look so I thought I would try and blog on a more regular basis and share with you my journey as God continues to refine and re-identify who I am.  There will still be updates on Ally and the family so keep checking back but I hope that you will be challenged in your own faith journey with Christ.  All I ask is that you carefully present before God anything that I write.  I am still working through a lot of these things but I need an outlet and this gives me the perfect place to do so.  Also know that I am not leaving the church, God, or ministry.  I am wanting to be who God wants me to be, make the impact that God wants to use me to make, and be the church like I think Christ had in mind.  Till fingers meet keyboard again,

I am outie 5000,