April, 2007    Return to pastorob's current journal

Monday, April 30, 2007

The cellphone began to ring around 1:15 a.m.

One of my friends is missing. I thought it might be news about him.

In the dark, I hurriedly fished for its location at my bedside. Guessing that it was in one of four pants pockets made the rush even more trying. I missed the call.

There was a 519 prefix in the missed call file. I tried to call the number back but a recording played saying that 'international calling' is not in my service plan... a monday mystery.

After I post this entry, I will transfer yesterday's sermon from cassette to mp3 and upload it to the Internet. Cathy and I listened to the message (The Waiting Room) on our way home last night and will enjoy working with it again.

This is the third sermon in a three-year series. By listening to these early sermons I hope to discover how best to proceed with this particular preaching plan. The division of the preaching platform into three distinct areas of exposition.

The initial idea is still unfolding as I practice what I am preaching. Thus far we have established left/right/center as Romans/Luke/Acts.

Another method of inquiry into the texts point to cases of tense as an obvious tool for exposition:

(for the biblical characters).

 . . . and in application for us today:

P/P/F as it considered by each listener individually
                as it considered by
co-laborers corporately

yet more application will involve:


Tony Payne, an online writer who also edits sermons has this to say about the preachers and process: 

"Probably the most serious spiritual hazard is what the editorial mindset does for sermon listening. I find it very hard to listen to my pastorís Sunday expositions without mentally editing them as I go along: working out how ten minutes could have been saved by omitting that unnecessary illustration; or how the main point could have been so much sharper without that overly detailed excursion into the Old Testament background; or how the application could have been so much more powerful if the interesting but rather tangential point 4 hadnít been made.

One problem with Tony's observation as it relates to my style. The matter of real-time preaching with real people. Yesterday's case of Tylee (an infant in her Grandma's arms). If you listen to the sermon you'll hear an example of attempting to read the Spirit's cue cards.

Working with Greg in the studio I have learned the joy of letting the machine run and capturing the spontaneous or working with an unexpected mistake.

Likewise, I remember a young father who was baptized years ago: Domingo Garcia. Since he was the first one baptized among us at the start of a new century, I often referred to him in my Sunday messages. My thoughts about Domingo Garcia during the y2k sermons remain embedded in my preaching style.

Retrospective editing of one's sermon is part of the process for this practicing preacher.

If I were to preach with my eyes closed and my ears covered then I might be able to stick to a memorized script but so far that has never happened.

 Tony continues:

". . . a great many sermons are what an editor would call Ďa good first draftí. All the material is there, the thinking has been done, itís in reasonable shape, but itís not actually finished -- which is not all that surprising, since it was, in all likelihood, still being written at 11:30 pm Saturday night."

This is a normal Monday morning for me. Check back later for a link to yesterday's audio message or click here to listen to the first or second 'real sermon.'

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A pop-up news report brings me immediate news of topics of which I have studied or written online. For instance, this morning here are two such targeted reports:

A suicide bomber in Pakistan.
   Conflict between Russians and Estonians in Tallin.

It is still dark out at 4:53 this morning. Yesterday I worked on the small ponds and fountains in the backyard. Cathy is busy at work trying to prepare our home for sale. So, she was happy to get a full day of work out of me.

Cathy claims to have no love-language preference. She has been heard to say, "I love it all!" Yes, she likes to see 'love in action.' When asked if I really enjoyed the day, I think that I grunted--as if if to say no. 

A long-overdue day of yardwork in Galt still didn't seem in sync with my other priorities.

In the evening, I rented Blood Diamond and listened to the commentary by director, Ed Zwick. Cathy and I saw the film in the theatre when it was first released. Set in Sierra Leone in 1999, the film is still of value to me.

It depicts the process used by West African rebel troops to conscript children as soldiers.  I still think of the hundreds of thousands of young adults in Liberia whose childhoods were stolen by the warlords. I desire to see the power of the Gospel in setting those captives free from shame and guilt.

This morning there is a choir workshop at our church in Auburn from 9:00 to Noon. In the evening, we will be hosting the church service at the Union Gospel Mission in downtown Sacramento (7:30).

Friday, April 27, 2007

Tomorrow evening at 7:30, BellRoad is on the schedule to conduct the service at the Union Gospel Mission. Key members will be out of town so I have been asked to provide the special music. I called Mike McCall to see if he would wanna come with a guitar and help.

In the Luke portion of last Sunday's sermon, we saw what unusual visitation can occur when one simply shows up for a calendared rotation.

From faith to faith:
  Listen Here  
(high-speed? Listen Here)

         (or CLICK HERE to download as an mp3 file)

Yesterday morning I visited Thomas and Francie, a couple who have been attending our church. They had been away on a long trip prior to Easter so they missed some of the action.

They asked me a couple key questions about my ministerial calling. It was the right time and place to lay out some interpreted history when I had to bring the adventure to a close. I had to transport a couple important ladies to a speaking engagement.

Cathy was the speaker at our monthly senior's luncheon, Joy Fellowship. Mary and I enjoyed watching her in action as she shared her message--developing over a lifetime. She is a beautiful woman. Early in our relationship, I learned that her name (Catherine) meant 'pure'. The name fit back in those days. In my eyes it does still.

After lunch, we dropped Mary off at the Gym and went to the hospital to visit two of our church members. Then I took Cathy back over to Tom and Francie's. Tom summarized his adventure in Christ. We shared our hearts for wanting to make a difference with our lives.

Because I have met so many vibrant Christians in their mid-seventies, I have recently considered the possibility that God might give me an opportunity to live to be 75 years old.

If so, that would give me 9,210 days or around 221,040 hours to invest in the lives of others.  (Yeah, I clicked here for a quick calculation.)

How do I make the most of a given day's opportunity?  That is a leading question for this week's calendared Sunday's Sermon:

"Line-by-line, Verse-by-verse: The Waiting Room"

It's Friday...and Sunday's coming.

SundayMessage (click here)

SundayMessagePlus (click here)

Hmm...how many hours until its time to deliver the goods?

Thursday, April 26, 2007 (second entry)

I wondered aloud last night how long I've been at Bell Road. I was considering the work that Paul and Barnabas may have accomplished among the members of the Antioch church in one year's time.

I clicked on a time-calculator and figured that it has been 88 days since my first Sunday sermon as the pastor.

Last night there were seventeen people in our 'fasting-and-prayer' class. Likewise, Sharon Cole and Jack Caulder each facilitated full classrooms of growing Christians. The TeamKid leaders looked pleased...and exhausted. When Cathy, Mary, and I left the Campus, the Choir was in full bloom.

That, my friend, is the 'organized church' on a Wednesday night.

This morning my INBOX contained several notes from Joe and Sharon with brief responses to different letters I had sent over the last week. Here is an excerpt from one of the notes I wrote to him:

Joe, be very careful. The Thief is a conniving character in human history.

Don't simply trust everyone you meet. Someone might be watching and deciding to get you somehow to unknowingly transport something illegal... or set you up in some dark scheme.

You know, Son, all along...that we have risked some part of our privacy and maybe even 'safety' by being online and open about our daily lives.

At times, we gotta step back and consider our ways. Just to make sure that God is leading our steps.

I shared a story about one strange interaction I had with a man at the Flour Garden--back in the days of doing the remote broadcast from there.

...and, of course, the so-called underground church chose to target me only because I have more of an online presence than most of the local pastors. 

Some of the strange situations with which we are confronted each day on the news reveals that anything can happen--anytime, anywhere.

The thief who comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy will whatever means possible to deter us from the primary work God has called us to do.

Here was Joe's response to my caution. I'm content with it:


You're absolutely right ... THIS IS SERIOUS.

(quote from
Joe and Sharon's webpage)

" If you have any assignment suggestions,
  have a question, or would like to invite us to your area,
  please email us:
isaiah65@gmail.com. "

My intention by this statement was to be open to people from God who would like to email us. Just like any other content on the internet, I will do my best and ask others to help me and pray, pray, pray that God protects me from the rapist, drug dealer, or even the government offficial that seeks to harm me.

Opening ourselves and being vulnerable in this way does however allow us to receive unsolicited emails from the likes of Pastor Wesley or the man from Macedonia.

I will not receive emails as the word of God, but would entertain them as possibilities to be prayed over.

Thanks for reminding me that our Gospel is sometimes veiled and thus we say "We are currently serving the people of Asia in any way most profitable. "

...and we will seek God's guidance from any distraction, temptation, or trap that would cause us to fall or slow down from the path that God has set out for us.

Love You Papa,
"God is bigger than the boogy-man",
                      says a Veggie Tales song.

Joseph and Sharon

p.s. we are now in Cebu, with a booked ticket to leave tomorrow morning at 5:05 am, April 27 for Davao... to file the rest of the papers and then have the Marriage Recognition Ceremony with Sharon's community on the 28th at 6am.

first entry: Thursday, April 26, 2007

    "Lord, why do I have to work so hard?!"

Ruth told me that her grandmother, Sally Ott, had shared the memory of asking that question of the Lord one day.
Her family was sharecropping in Liberty County, Texas. That particular day--exhausted from working on a fence--Ruth's grandma looked toward heaven and asked that question.

"You choose it that way."

That is what she felt that God had spoken in response. That idea of 'choice' led Grandma Ott to become a businesswoman. Although she could barely read, she ran a successful restaurant--selling Chicken and Dumplings (and other Texas favorites). Later, she opened a hotel in Liberty (halfway between Houston and Beaumont.

Ruth is now 87. Her husband, Walt, is 92. They opened their home and their hearts to Cathy and me yesterday morning. Over a cup of Walt's coffee, we learned about Sally Ott and her short conversation with God that changed the future course of her life.

Likewise, the repetition of old stories can effect change in any of us who choose to listen. As we discussed our choice for contentment with plenty or with little, Ruth added this LifeMessage of her own:

"You take your happiness with you."

Their daughter, Ann, has been editing a video of Walt's World War 2 remembrances. It is to become part of a national video project with veterans of that war. Hopefully, the day will come when I can share a link to that very video.

I choose it this way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My desk is piled with papers, CDs, books, sticky notes. I sit unshaved at 8:35 a.m.

Headphones on, I'm digitizing my third message from Resurrection Morning, 2007. A humble beginning that Jebby would appreciate seeing.

Yesterday I digitized the cassettes for the last couple sermons and uploaded them to boomp3.com

in the headphones, this line just got a laugh...

        "I was a spiritual dopehead..."

Chuckles aside, there is truly a connection in my heart. The ethiopian eunuch is sitting there reading, unknowingly waiting for the ambassador of Christ. Phillip is being sent to come alongside his chariot, to meet him right where he is--to introduce him to Jesus.

This is why it is important for us to journal, I think.

Journaling helps us to remember where we have come from and the core convictions we hold to.

 Click Here for BellRoad Sunday Morning

Cathy is in another office. She just forwarded this wonderful email from Ronny Shindy (who is currently in the Philippines):

Dear sister Cathy,

I just wanted to let you and Rob know that I met Sharon here. She is a genuine and wonderful woman whom, I know when you meet her, you will immediately love.

She is very sweet and above all her good qualities, she loves the LORD.

Joe and Sharon make a very nice couple. I told them that they were going to have a little girl very soon and she is going to look a lot like Joe. I just had this weird feeling and wanted to share that with them and you.

Joe and Sharon left Boracay this morning and headed to Cibu (I think). They are very busy and constantly on the move.

They are doing just fine and you know that the LORD will protect them and supply all their needs!



Thank you, Ronny! About a week ago, Joe and Sharon sent me a website that they've started. Joe asked me to 'forward' it. So, here you are: click here

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cathy, Mary, and I are heading up to Auburn this morning. We are excited about what God is going to do among us during the upcoming years..

I've been waiting for an update from Pastor Shamas. He wrote to me last night. I was just about to post the letter below when a follow-up came through from Pakistan:

Today was big, big Lawyers strike in all Pakistan. Government's Opposition Parties are with Lawyers.

Brother, please pray they stop these bad things.

yesterday's note:

Greetings to you in Almighty Lord

Brother I go to Islamabad two time but I not reach in Islamabad.  Police stop bus at Islamabad.

Because Here Lawyers strike against Government.

Because President Dismiss Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Today again Lawyers are trying they reach in Islamabad. Many leaders arrested by Police.

I will try again tomorrow or next day.

And If police not back us then we will reach Islamabad.
few days before my Brother in Law's (my wife's elder brother) Murder by Thief. He was patient of Paralyse.

Brother, please pray I reach in Islamabad and reach in Thailand Embassy.

God Bless You

Your Brother Shamas


Monday, April 23, 2007

An empty INBOX this morning. Hope to hear from Joe and Sharon sometime soon! I read news from the frontpage of an international paper (for Europe and Asia).

Read about YouTube being banned in Thailand because of a video about their President. Important issues about free speech in a global context.

Cathy and I returned from Auburn around 9:30 last night. We talked about the classes we attended as part of our discipleship program. Afterwards, we hung out with those who remained in the Love Languages class--saw the new babies, talked.

I was contacted by an old friend on Friday night. He is meeting me for a walk-n-talk this morning. Of course, we'll probably stop by Cafe Latte for a French Roast to take with us along the way.

Our digital recording system at the church is frozen so I'm gonna listen to an analog (cassette) recording of yesterday's sermon. I'm preaching from a three-ring venue during the next three years (Luke-Acts-Romans). I haven't ever done it this way before.

The last time I preached expository messages from one book (John), it took 1.5 years of Sundays. The experience (and remembered-feedback) has impacted the manner in which I am approaching the study and delivery of these weekly messages.

Below are some of the notes I made in preparation for yesterday's message. It will be interesting to hear the tape and note the final emphases.

ACTS: To ASK and RECEIVE Power from the Holy Spirit will lead us step-by-step to A BIG VISION---A TRULY GREAT COMMISSION until the Return of Christ.

As we receive power from the Holy Spirit, in what ways will our witness for Christ be experienced locally, throughout California, and globally?
      ...and What is YOUR Samaria? 
  Acts 1:8  

LUKE: For a Senior Couple in Right-Standing with God, A Child, A Future, an Assignment. Old Age, New Birth.

"Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. "  Luke 1:13

Who is it that God already entrusted to you in years past?

ROMANS: "For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift . . ." 

"Shame! Shame on you!",
says the Accuser of the Brethren.

Yet Paul has this to share: "I am not ashamed."

Paul has heard a news report--good news.

What is the report that will go out about us in this year 2007? Will it be from faith to faith?

Do you yet have a vision for imparting the Spirit's gift to others as you make your way toward accomplishing your passion for the Lord's Command?


Sunday, April 22, 1997

Cathy and I just arrived to the BellRoad Campus. It has been raining here in sunny California (all through the night and yet this morning).

I enjoyed a quiet ride from Galt to Auburn and prayed over the message that I hope to deliver this morning.

My last message was delivered faithfully to a very crowded room of people from all walks-of-life yesterday morning.

I hope and pray that I will experience the Spirit's authority, power, and guidance again this morning. May lives be transformed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ today.

Saturday, April 21, 1997

This morning I will officiate at a funeral here in Galt. Meeting with Eddie and his Grandma yesterday morning, I received a prompting to tell something of the day that David faced Goliath. Just minutes ago, I also happened upon Day 13 of Joe's 80 Days in Liberia. It was an important day of connecting members of the Body through the morning message (scroll down to Day 13). As well, it relates to my message for the fatherless children to whom I will speak today: Eddie, Roni, and James. 

When I get home, I will continue my study for the second message from Acts/Romans/Luke. I pray that God will lead the BellRoad pulpit to exactly the passages He wants us to know for the days ahead of us.

For those who haven't yet learned about our involvement in the West African nation of Liberia, please click here.

Yesterday, I googled around to see if anybody was journaling the recent adoption of Liberian orphans mentioned by Pastor Wesley a couple days ago.

I found this blog: click here 

        and a page for Greater Love Children's Home

So, I wrote a short note to a few of these people from Stonegate Fellowship (Midland, Texas). I passed along a note from Rodney (below).

This morning I received my first reply:

Thanks.  You may remember that I am the grandmother of the twins and spent time with them on our recent mission to Liberia.  

They are home safe and sound, although all pretty tired. Their other four children are very happy to finally have their baby sisters home.

Two of our local TV stations covered the story.  What an amazing God we have!!  

Now the real work starts.

Please pray for the parents who have a huge load to bear.
I still communicate with Pastor Wesley's wife, Laura and hope to return to Liberia sometime.

How is your situation now?  Do you have plans to return to Liberia?  And your son, Joe?

Thanks again for passing this along.

Here is the announcement from Rodney that I had passed along to the Midlanders:


We have a container leaving the U.S. for Monrovia on
May 16th. If you have people in the States who would like to send goods for your ministries please put them into contact with us as soon as possible.

We will cut off receipts at our warehouse in Murfreesboro, TN on May 10th. We are sharing costs at $7/cubic foot.


Rodney Edwards

PO Box 3022, Murfreesboro, TN 37133
615.907.0702 office    615.202.3517 cellular

Friday, April 20, 1997

Last year I officiated at the formal wedding of Ron and Hennie-Lynn Shindy. I've been watching their ministry together and am pleased to see that the two of them have traveled to the Philippines so Ron could see Hennie's hometown and meet her extended family. Last night they sent out a 'dear all' email. Here is an excerpt:

Greetings from the city of Ilo Ilo
in the Philippines.

Man its humid here, I feel like I'm melting! So much for working out here, its all about survival! Just kidding!

Hennie and I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your prayers. we appreciate them more than you know.

I also chatted with Joe and Sharon who are traveling from Davao toward Ilo Ilo because they hope to rendezvous with the Shindys.

At 7:00 a.m. I am meeting a teenager and his grandma for breakfast. Eddie showed up at my door yesterday. His father unexpectedly has died--at the age of 42. Eddie and I had become friends a few years ago when I was teaching the teen VBS. It was the year that the Estonian sisters came to stay with us. I have been asked to officiate at his father's funeral on Saturday morning.

Andy Deck just wrote me. His father unexpectedly died recently and he delivered the eulogy. He has sent me a copy. I haven't read it yet but I wonder if it will be preparatory for the message I will offer a different gathering of grieving friends and family on Saturday.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sunday afternoon. The phone rang. Nearly everyone else had left the building, so I picked up the receiver. The aged voice of a woman asked me my name. She acknowledged that she had seen the story of the picketers on the front page of our local newspaper. It had stirred her to the point of calling me to see if she could help in any way.

In the sermon I had just preached, a two-fold question had been posed regarding our ministry in the lives of people at the uttermost ends of the human spectrum. When she told me her age and shared some about her situation, I told Virginia that I had just preached about her. I sensed the leadership of the Spirit and asked if I could come to visit.

Virginia has been a long-time member at our church but can no longer come and go as she pleases. During the last two years her son and grandson have died suddenly. She has an upstairs apartment and sometimes feels quite alone. I hope to visit Virginia regularly and experience the mutual comfort we will receive from reading God's Word together.

I am reminded afresh that the most important activities of any given season will be those which are led by the Spirit of Christ:

Luke 4 (vv.25-26)

I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them,
   but to
a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.

And there were many in Israel with leprosy
    in the time of Elisha the prophet,
    yet not one of them was cleansed
           only Naaman the Syrian."

There were probably other chariots on the road to Gaza.

Q. Why did Philip run toward one specific chariot in which
      an Ethiopian happened to be reading from Isaiah?

There were many ways that Jesus could have approached the Samaritan woman at the well.

Q. Why did Jesus sit and dialogue with her?

We each have 24/7, right? That is a good allotment of time to do everything that a servant of the Word ought to do. It is important to keep ourselves from becoming distracted from the leadership of the Spirit.

Here is a song I wrote years ago wherein I preach to myself about distractions and frustration. It is from the back-of-drawer on this audio download page:

Don't Allow Frustration (audio)

Lyrics (click here)

Pakistani pastor, Shamas Pervaiz, is seeking to procure the document needed to travel to Thailand for the Asian Baptist Congress (during the first week of May). Yesterday, I received this email from him:

Today here was lawyer's strike against Government, Because Government Dismiss to Chief Justice, today was no permission for Islamabad. Tomorrow I will go to Islamabad by the Grace of Lord.

God Bless You with all His Blessings,

Your Brother,

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I slept in until 7:15 this morning. More sleep than usual.

I will be studying for our BellRoad University classes and the Sunday Sermon Series throughout the day.

I also intend to visit Virginia (an 87 year old homebound member of our church).

Yesterday was a full day. I started out by having a brief talk with Ben Rosenau. Then, Deacon Mike stopped by--for a couple hours. He had been gone for a week and we had some 'catching up' to do.

Noon time prayer with Lou, Mark, Bob, Jerry, and Nick. These are pastors and leaders who meet every Tuesday for fellowship and prayer. We were together for nearly 2 hours. I went to the Downtown Auburn walk-in mall. I forget the name of the place but, just next to the Alchemy Store (near the Organic Juice Bar)...is a Polish Dog Deli.

I had an all-beef Polish dog, a drink, and a bag-o-chips. Then read the scriptures. This season of commuting to Auburn allows for some alone-time.

From there, Matthew Wooden and I met for a long walk along the railroad tracks. We discussed his sojourn in life, the Christian Motorcycle Association, and his current work with IronHorse Ministries.

After Matthew left (around 5:00), I toyed around with the picket signs--making them more user-friendly. You can see the new and improved signage in the slideshow above.

At 7:00 p.m., Stephanie, Jessy, Nancy, Robin, and Tim met as our church Mission Team. I had been asked to come and offer my vision for a church-wide mission strategy. We were until 8:20.

We will offer MA 223 Introduction to Mission as a class next semester. Stephanie will be working on a new website. We will categorize every mission endeavor as belong to one of these four areas as outlined in Acts 1:8.

This is a practical mission-strategy shared with me by Donnie and Juanita Land at Sequoia Heights Baptist Church in Stockton.

1.  JerusalemTeam
2.  JudeaTeam,
3.  SamariaTeam,
4.  and the GlobalTeam

I also shared that I have adopted the Andy Deck view of Acts 1:8 (with the situation-specific needs in Samaria).

Stephanie will be designing a website to better communicate our churchwide mission strategy and to cast a God-sized Mission Vision.

After the MissionTeam meeting, Brandon and I had a brief time of Guitar Fellowship as part of his mentoring class.

From there, a quick trip down to the Gym for a run-and-sauna before ending the day talking with Pastor Richard Wesley online:

Last Night's Chat with Liberia:  11:38 p.m. - 11:56 p.m.

me: Hello Pastor Wesley

Pastor Wesley: Hello Pastor Rob

me: How are you doing today?

Pastor Wesley: I'm very good. Thank you and you?

me: I'm quite tired...just heading for bed.

Pastor Wesley: Well take a rest. It around 6:00AM here.
Wanted to let you know we have completed 5 adoptions adoptive parents are leaving for the States today.

me:  WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

Please send me some photos
              and a story and I'll print it, OK?

Were you ever able to get the car from
             Wheels for Wesley?

Pastor Wesley:  I'm am working on a news letter for our church ministry hope it will be completed soon I will send you copies when it is printed.

me: I saw that they had raised most of their goal the last time I looked.

Pastor Wesley: Yes we got the car. A 4-wheel drive jeep.

me: WOW.........

        Hey, do you know that you can have free webpages
        through google?

Pastor Wesley:  WOW...I did not know that how?

me:  http://pages.google.com/?pli=1z
         try it...
         you can have up to 5 different theme sites
                        with 100 MB for free

         I have made a few. I will show you.

Pastor Wesley: The news letter will not be a web based one. We will print hard copies for distribution.

me: Here's one:


and here is another:

Pastor Wesley: I will look at it. This is great!
     It is that simple to work with, up load photos etc.

          very easy.
          Look at that other one.

          I did it for a seven day study...just to try it out.

Pastor Wesley: I saw it but how do you begin?
                              I mean the process...
 Pastor, I know you have to take a rest. Pls. let me leave you. I will get some instruction on later. Thanks and bye.

me: alright, my brother. Yes, I suggest you make one of
        these webpages.... very easy

        talk to you later.

11:56 PM       bye

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I drove to Auburn last night to attend the monthly meeting of our Leadership Council. During my report, I shared an excerpt from the Vision I have been watching and from  now experiencing firstfruits.

Here are a few other connective trail-markers to help me remember how I came to this moment in ministry.

* my early interaction with the Pulpit Search Committee,

* our visit during the first weekend of January, 2007

* my January 7th message and subsequent calling,

* the new church website:

* pre-Easter messages at BellroadRadio

* Resurrection Sunday and beyond:

* year-round classes at  BellroadUniversity

* the three-year sermon series:
    SundayMessage and SundayMessagePlus

I'm posting this entry late in the morning (10:55) because Deacon Mike checked in with me. He's been gone for seven days. We reflected upon the state of the ministry.

Roger Williams wrote in. You may remember him from those pivotal nights of Healing in May, '04 (Audio: Roger)

Hi Rob,

I have been reading with interest the emails about and from Joseph.

Interesting happening. Yesterday in church we had some IMB missionaries from Thailand, Brian and Lena Finnan. In fact, I had lunch with them. During the conversation I mentioned Joseph. They are asking where is he? Who is he with? Etc.

If interested they might be able to contact with some people who can met them, depending on where they are. If in southern Thailand it will be more difficult.

Any way, it is some world with 6 degrees of separationÖ


I replied to Roger and cc'd to Joe and Sharon. I mentioned that it is my hope that the Pattersons will be able to connect with Pastor Shamas Pervaiz (Pakistan) during the Asian Baptist Congress (in Chiang Mai, Thailand). This conference only happens every five years.

Joe wrote back this morning:

Hi Guys,

Sharon and I are currently in Davao, Philippines. Plan to go to Cebu/Iloilo soon to meet Hennie and Ron, then back here for more paperwork processing.

We plan to leave for the Conference around April 30. That will be in Chiang Mai. We would like to stop in Bangkok on the way there.

We are seeking God's will for a position somewhere in Asia (preferable beginning either the middle or end of August). This would give us more direction and prove to US Embassy that Sharon truly only desires to VISIT the US.

So ... Davao, Cebu/IloIlo, Davao, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, ___________, Hong Kong, Singapore, Nagaland(Northern India), CA, other states on the way to MI, back to Asia somewhere.

Please pray that we are able to have favors from the governments, and that God will show us all the blessings as we are waiting for their consent. Especially for NSO in Davao, US Embassy in Cebu, and US Embassy for granting Visitor Visa for Sharon.

Attempting great things ...
God is Beyond Understanding AND GOOD all the time.

Joseph and Sharon

Monday, April 16, 2007

   "I once was street-smart, then I got church-smart
               but I'm still serious-stuff-stupid."

                                            --pastorob  July, 2007
                                              Slidin' into a Year of Jubilee
                                                          (back cover)

I woke up around 4:30 this morning and chatted with Joe. He is now in Davao, Philippines with Sharon's family. I sure miss my firstborn. The other three children came to BellRoad yesterday for church.

Cathy and I hung out with Don, Thelma, Ann, Jimmie, David, and Karla after the Sunday morning service. Then, we went to the gym (I work out/study/run/think and sauna...) for 1.5 hours before heading back to the campus.

I led the guitar circle at 5:00 p.m., then taught the S.H.A.P.E. class from 6:00 to 7:07. I hope the people at BellRoad are able to see that we are actively investing our Talents in good soil. More importantly, God is watching.

Recently someone accidentally misquoted scripture to me.

    "Money is the root of all evil."

I've been having a hard time with the rising costs of gasoline. Joe and I have been discussing money (as he and Sharon make MissionTrip plans for these honeymoon days).

Pink Floyd discussed money in the opening track of "Dark Side of the Moon". The Beatles did a cover of "Money" that my brother and I used to sing together.

Had the Apostle Paul shown up in Coldwater during my senior year in high school, he could have cited either of those two songs with this preface:

"Even your own poets say..."

I think I would have listened (at least for awhile). Well, I'll be spending some quality time with Paul's conversion story from the book of Acts and his letter to the Romans. It will be interesting to see what he has to say to me (and to us) about this major issue that impacts every person from every people group.

Yesterday, I made public a three-year commitment (give or take a year). As we rewind into the past and fast-forward into the future, we will be careful to keep focusing on the present-day Jesus through his everlasting Word. Here he will be speaking from the Center with the Holy Spirit offering an interpretation that applies to our daily lives.

Click here to learn more:  SundayMessage

This morning I started another helps page:

Click here for SundayMessagePlus
At this site, I am asking people to offer their input as potentially illustrative material as I prepare Sunday's messages to be propagated from 707 Bell Road in Auburn, California.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I'm up at 4:30 this morning preparing for the first message in a new sermon series.

Some have wondered why last Sunday's message wasn't available for download in an audio format. Unfortunately, the software (Roxio) used to record it was giving Ben trouble during transfer to CD.

I have a copy on cassette but haven't had the time or wherewithal to digitize the message. Since it most likely hasn't been fixed yet, I'm guessing that the writing I have done may be the best way to recall what will happen in the pulpit a few hours from now.

Last Sunday, we baptized a woman named Marlene. The Resurrection Morning message challenged us as a church with a very important question: what next?

In part, that question was answered for Marlene. She was enrolled in Sharon Cole's Wednesday night class:
                   40 Days of Purpose.
Tonight, we will begin the Sunday night sessions of BellRoad University. These class offerings are different than those on Wednesday night. As well, Sunday mornings will continue to be a major building-block for the ongoing discipleship of all members. My message for today should make mention of this important question and answer:

Q.  What might be our action-plan for following the Great 
      Commission's admonition that we make disciples
      through teaching each other to obey all of Jesus'

A.   In Acts, Luke states that his former work compiled "all
       that Jesus began to do and to teach", along with
       instructions He had given His chosen apostles through
       the Holy Spirit.
       Luke speaks of His Suffering and tells us that the 
       resurrected Christ appeared among them for forty
       days--speaking about the Kingdom of God. 

      It makes perfect sense to also refresh our awareness
      of this first book as we work our way through Acts and
      In his opening remarks for that first book, "The Gospel
      of Luke", the author again addresses Theophilus.
      Here he is called 'most-excellent' Theophilus. It is for
      the sake of Theophilus that Luke wrote these orderly

      He admits that there had already been several 
      other accounts written and passed down from
      eye-witnesses and Servants of the Word.
      Having become somewhat of an expert on the whole
      story of Jesus--through what he called his own 'careful 
      investigation', Luke wrote that it 'seemed good' to
      him to produce an orderly account. 

      (an excerpt from SundayMessage: click here)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My Dad called a couple days ago. He has a prayer concern and asked me to share it with any people who actually pray.

A mover/shaker senior in my hometown is going through Chemo-therapy. His name is Larry Hoffman. Dad says that Larry was instrumental in reviving the County Historical Society.

He has also arranged for Coldwater's first-ever, Civil War reenactment with cannons, cavalry, President Lincoln and family. (My buddy, Jebby, will be very interested to hear about this.)

Dad said that Larry is also caring for his wife who is in a nursing home.

So, will you pray for Larry Hoffman?

As well, another of my very best friends, Greg Brayton, has been told that he has Cancer again. Here's a note from him:

Well the biopsy results came back cancer. The doctor thinks that Chemo is worth doing. If it doesnít shrink the tumors, there are 3, small ones, then thereís another new thing coming we can try. So weíre going to go for it.

He did say this form of cancer gets some people in a big hurry, 2 months or so, and some last awhile. Heís not a big one for giving you numbers that heís not sure of. He said this would probably contribute to my demise. He just doesnít know when.

Heís seen the therapy make the stuff go away. Heís also seen it not work. He also said, because Iíve had this for awhile, and thereís been no real big change, I could even wait awhile and see what happens. I think God wants me to keep doing music and writing these emails for some reason! So hey, weíll go for chemo first and leave the outcome in Godís hands.

Sometimes I donít feel like Iím getting all the help I want. Thatís probably because Iím putting myself ahead of what God wants. I gotta quit doing that!

At the very least Iíll feel better, and as I keep in touch with God, I will feel that peace that passes all understanding, my understanding, your understanding, the doctors understanding.

Everyday I thank God, for the last time this cancer went away, and for how happy Sally was. I mention lots of other things as well, but those are two biggies!

I know in my heart, that God loves us all. I believe that if we ask, Jesus will forgive. Many times Iíve felt the Holy Spirit working in my soul. All those good things are magnified, when I pray and reach out to good friends so I email you, in the hope that you will be blest, not distressed!

Iím gonna play Godís music till He says,
               "Itís time to come home!"


You can hear Greg's great contribution in my life by listening to nearly any of the songs that are linked in the left column of my daily journal. With the exception of "Whatever", Greg produced and played on all of them.

Man, I love that guy. I hope and pray that our Lord will bring healing to him in this chapter of his life!

I slept in this morning until 7:00 a.m. 1.5 hours later, I'm still up in the nest--working on my new sermon series:

      "Line-by-line, Verse-by-verse: 
                A New Chapter at BellRoad"

The Sunday Morning pulpit at BellRoad will be a blend of expository-topical messages--the result of continual, collid-o-scopic consideration of these three New Testament books:

Acts, Luke,
and Romans

Lord willing, It will be a three-year series (give or take a year...).

I hope to conduct a portion of my studies,
    gather my thoughts and store the results 
    in this semi-private webpage that I have 

Click below and take a look at the progress
          I have made thus far..


Regarding tools I am planning to employ in this endeavor.
I will link through the BibleGateway to share different renderings of any given passage.

For Greek word study, the page has included a link to the
BlueLetterBible website (as well, it uses the KJV as a default text).

Through hyperlinks, I will keep other study helps one click away. For example, click here to see how I'll store some extra-biblical research on the intended recipient of Acts and Luke: Theophilus.

At a Dollar Store in Auburn, I found KJV Bible CDs. Fortunately, they had several copies of Acts, Luke--but only one copy of Romans. These CDs will most likely become part of my drivetime audio diet.

I listened to Romans  yesterday while cleaning our kitchen (from the beginning through the 16th chapter). Through the window, I could also see Zach, Ben, Cathy, Cory, Daniel, and Barry do their bushwhacking follow-through. You can imagine how happy mama is with all that work. The yard...  and the kitchen...yeah!

As I write, I'm listening again to the Romans CD but I'm not truly 'hearing' much from the audio stimuli. 

This level of multi-tasking isn't working as well for me (as kitchen clean-up/study).  Still, it doesn't distract me and certain passages do impinge upon my consciousness as I continue to work.

I don't recall having preached any sermon series through Luke or Romans (although I'm quite familiar with them).

I have preached through many passages from Acts through the years. In seminary, I completed an in-depth study of Acts as well as a study of the Holy Spirit (in Luke and Acts).

For my study of Romans, I am also considering one of the commentaries that I was given as recipient of the Holman-Broadman Seminarian Award (May, 1996). Are we impressed with my scholarly achievements yet?

Anyway, I am reminded of all the worthwhile books on the shelves (and in the boxes) that I never had time to read during my decade in Galt. I'll do more hardcopy book-study more during this pastorate.

I didn't remember ever spending time with this particular volume (New American Commentary, Vol. 27, Mounce). However, I found some notes on chapter 4 and an early hand-drawn map of Galt's eastside.

I have already enjoyed a brief reminder on the role Tertius played in Paul's recording of this message.

At the Ross Dept. Store in Auburn, I found an interesting DVD compilation of 'Sacred Classics'. Among the eight old-school films which were digitized for this collection is a copy of 'Martin Luther' (105 min. 1953).

Luther's LifeMission and his interaction with the message of Romans may be valuable as a backdrop for this series.

During the
7 Days of Dedication, I received direction from the Spirit about my post-easter pulpit ministry. I intend to be proactive in maturing through this year of Jubilee. I'll turn 50 in July.

Friday, April 13, 2006

Today, I will continue preparing for this Sunday Morning's Message as I whack some bushes of my own in Galt.

      "Line-by-line, Verse-by-verse:
                        A New Chapter at BellRoad"

         (Acts 1:1-3,     Luke 1:1-4,     Romans 1:1-7)

I hadn't visited the Auburn Journal comment section since the day it posted (5:51 a.m.) I asked if anyone wanted to make s'mores. Only Bob answered my question. The rest of the people were talking 'bout all kinds of stuff.

Church leaders air differences in roadside debate
The most visible member of the maverick Church of the Divide squared off Easter Sunday at the side of an Auburn road in a verbal donnybrook with the pastor of an Auburn Baptist Church.

Dick Otterstad's son, Luke (aka pasto-sauce) recently edited and posted another accusatory video on YouTube. This most-recent posting documents their rationale for picketing our Sunrise Service and Morning Worship last Sunday.

Ironically, my calling to defend 'authentic' Christianity and to 'protect the flock' has, by necessity, involved resisting the demands of the Church of the Divide. I have included their video and shared my feelings about this whole situation on a myspace video-blog:

 Click here: Church of the Divide and the Real World

I have written to Luke and told him that my scriptural basis for this response is Matthew chapter 7.

Click here for a webpage that has taken up s'more of my sleep-time. I hope that all of this ends soon. I hope to be able to once again concentrate on much more important matters. I am annoyed at the judgment of others about by my response (or non-response) to their calling.

I will quickly forgive and forget the offense if they simply walk away quietly.

Thursday, April 12, 2006

When I was a kid I collected stamps for awhile. I'm guessing that my collection was not as well categorized as little Ricky Warren's but still there was some formative discipline and prevenient shaping goin' on in my life.

The few B-strip characters who have annoyingly buzzed around my head during the last two weeks continue to feed off of my great fame. lol

Now, Luke (PastoSauce) has posted a serious expose' on his website.

 I know... I know... I reap what I sow."

During the days ahead, I will make s'more valuable use of my time but feel that it is important to organize, classify, and label the harassment I have endured from that fateful day when Dick sent me his first passively-aggressive email...

The launch of BellRoad University was a great success last night. I had three other guitarists and one listener for

MA  203
  Guitar Circle: Praise and Worship  
Wed. and Sun. 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.  

and fourteen adults attended the first session of

MA  277  Spiritual Formation: Fasting and Prayer
                  Wednesday only 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Sharon Cole had a good number of adults in her class:

MI  302  The Purpose-Driven Life 
                 Wednesday only 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Jack Caulder had to postpone his class until next week:

MI  377  Experiencing God    
                Wednesdays 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Anyone who wants to enroll in these Wednesday night studies, please email our church office:

Please check this page for Sunday night studies as well:

BellRoad University

Today, I will begin studying for this Sunday Morning's Message.

      "Line-by-line, Verse-by-verse:
                        A New Chapter at BellRoad"

         (Acts 1:1-3,     Luke 1:1-4,     Romans 1:1-7)

Mary and I are meeting Dennis and Thelma for lunch today. We will head back to Galt sometime later in the day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It is my hope that Pastor Shamas Pervaiz will be able to attend the Asian Baptist Congress in Mia Chiang during the first week of May. A couple of us sent him enough funds to make the trip from Pakistan to Thailand.

A strange number showed up on my cellphone this morning. When I answered I heard a delay reminiscent of calls from Liberia.

"Pastor Wesley?", I asked.

"No, it is Experito...from Uganda." We weren't even able to dialogue beyond one more sentence because the connection was lost. He still hasn't called back.

Yesterday, I met with several pastors from the local ministerial association. While I was away, I asked Mary to view the Shirley Phelps-Roper videos (click here) as we have been discussing recent events on the home front.

Last night, I met with Zach Rosenau to discuss Sound Reinforcement. His mind is fresh with theoretical and practical knowledge in that specialized language. It is feels good to hang with others who speak in a dialect similar to one's own. We talked about phantom power (lest someone misunderstand our control-room talk had absolutely nothing to do with Marvel Comics).

Later, Brandon Willette and I met again for MI 399 (Mentoring for Ministry). Our guitar dialogue began with one of the hymns that Curt Harjo has chosen for this Sunday. It was written in 6/8 time and young Brandon was puzzled about how best to approach that song in a team context.

After playing all four verses in F, we shifted down to the key of E, then down to D for a much different flavor. Later we went back to E and allowed different fingering to open the eyes of our hearts.

Curt has chosen "Give Thanks" in the key of D--much too low for me to feel it in my chosen range. Looking straight into each other's soul, we connected with a vision for future ministry by attempting the song in the key of G. At Praise Baptist Church (Alpha and Omega Ministries), we always played it in G: 

G,  Bm,  Em,  Am,  C,  G,  F,  Dsus/D
bridge:  Bm,  Em,  Bm,  C,  D,
                 G, walk-down to Em,  F,  D

I shared the  I  and  IVmaj7  drift for the young man's consideration. We discussed a team ministry concept for his future work, then discussed a few pages from 'Working the Angles' by Eugene Peterson. He didn't head home to mama and babies until 9:20 ...oops.

"I never cared much for Marvel Comic characters or plots."

Between 1964-66, I read a great number of comic books borrowed from Ricky Green's collection. Spiderman was the only story I followed from that team of heroes. Thus, this blog's recent mention of Peter Parker now has a better frame-of-reference.

The Superman (and Superboy) of the Sixties were definitely my favorites. Batman and Robin were enjoyable as well. Sometimes, Superman would make an appearance in their stories.

The movie 'Mystery Men' reminds me of deep-seated reasons for certain preferences held as a child. Even as a teen and now as one gaining on a hoary head of righteousness, my reasons for reading, reflection, and reaction are part of my S.H.A.P.E. (mostly the P and that bothers some people). That's why it is good to develop the ability to transpose and play in different keys.

Riddle me this:

How might Proverbs 1 and Proverbs 11 help one to better prepare for this very day?

Tonight we will begin the first semester of BellRoad University. At 5:00 p.m. there will be a guitar circle--followed by the classes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007  

On 4/10/07, Luke Otterstad <Luke@churchofthedivide.org> wrote:


You mentioned in your blog, "Out of respect for his son, this will be the end of postings from me about the Church of the Divide." I have no problem with you posting about Church of the Divide, if there is an offence, it should be addressed, not swept under the rug.

I thank you for coming out and talking to us, I believe that is one of the first times that a pastor has done that and it shows that you want to address the issues we brought up.

Don't shy away from that "out of respect for" me, instead, out of respect for me you should keep talking about it. If
we are in err, you need to say so, and back it up with the Word of God.


  *Feel free to post this email on your website

Hey Luke,

Fair enough. You should check out the videos I sent to you last night (at the email address posted on your website).
The daughters of Shirley Phelps-Roper do not know if they will ever find anybody who would be remotely interested in them.

The BBC on Shirley Phelps-Roper Family  (click here)

I thought you might be a likely candidate for one of them. That's not a joke.


It is 4:50 a.m. as I write. Mary and I are soon to be 'on the road again' toward Auburn. This is her week to be with me for her studies. She will work through the novel 'Oliver Twist' as a major assignment during the next three days.

Tomorrow, we will begin the first semester of BellRoad University (an attempt at classroom discipleship). Classes are free--write me for more information.

Here's the Word from a monthly tenth in 2005:
    Proverbs 10

Monday, April 9, 2007

Today's Auburn Journal reports:

Church leaders air differences in roadside debate
The most visible member of the maverick Church of the Divide squared off Easter Sunday at the side of an Auburn road in a verbal donnybrook with the pastor of an Auburn Baptist Church.

It happened. The picketers showed up at our short, simple (yet significant) sunrise service. Cathy and I arose at 4:45 and made our way with guitar, flute, and scripture to the three crosses on the hill. There is some barbed wire fencing which places a boundary line near the crosses. I stood alone up there--picking the guitar strings--in thought as people began to arrive for the intimate gathering at 6:30. Then I saw the picketers start to show up. It was all a bit surreal.

The contemplative songs chosen as prelude music were

"Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord"  and 

   "Create in me a Clean Heart".

Both of those songs always help me to come apart from the anxieties stirred up by inner sin that entangles me (like pride, worry, bitterness, etc).

 "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Yes, we all need that reminder. God hates haughty eyes. I don't want to miss his grace. I regularly need to be humbled by hearing the Word and adjusting my heart's attitude.

A newsman, Gus, from the Journal showed me Dick's press release which had informed the media that

 Two Churches will have a Showdown on Easter

I went down the hill to meet these guys. Looking over each of their signs, I affirmed those with substance. I have no problem with anybody holding a sign that reads:

"Judgment begins with the House of God"

However, the sign that said "This church is dead" stirred me. Dick Otterstad doesn't know these people I have spent two months getting to know.

I got into his face because I wanted to see through his intense stare--into his eyes--into his soul.

I was not able to penetrate the barrier he has in place.

I really didn't get angry with Dick (though I was demonstratively passionate). A couple ladies driving by wanted to speak to me. Their names were Cathy and Diane. Cathy calmly shared that I appeared agitated. I thanked her for the calming effect of her message and headed back up the hill.

The Special Ministries class had previously invited me to an Easter breakfast during their Sunday School class. So, after a cooldown, I went in and hung with them awhile.

I enjoyed meeting Dick's son, Luke Otterstad. Luke answered honestly that he had used a humorous alias
<pasto-sauce> to post comments on my Auburn Journal article and his Dad's letter to the Editor challenging pastors to 'defend christianity'.

Luke was holding two signs:

1)  Pastor Rob will not speak for Truth 


2)  Pastor Rob will preach for money

That's why I offered to preach him a brief message from
1 Corinthians (free-of-charge). I think he videotaped it.

After the message, I got personal with Luke.  I told him that I had given some thought to the whole situation--about how Joe might feel if someone had called his Dad a 'wanna-be'. I think that he had affirmed that my remarks had bothered him.

I had read the press release they sent out. They didn't like that I had used a wrong last name 'Otterback'. I told Luke that it was simply a mistake on my part. I apologized.

I told him that I had also re-thunk the heart of this remark:

  "Why don't you guys go google yourselves again?"

Luke had been offended by that remark--thinking that it had a sexual connotation.

"Naw, it was just a jab at a perceived desire to see one's name show up in a google search."

Dick Otterstad has had his showdown. Out of respect for his son, this will be the end of postings from me about the Church of the Divide.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Paul wrote: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospelónot with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

   "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
      the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised thingsóand the things that are notóto nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from Godóthat is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

                                           1 Corinthians 1:17-31

(Click Here: Scriptures for 7 Days of Dedication)

Last Sunday's Sermon on Day One of the Seven
         Seven Days of Dedication:  Listen Here

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Yesterday, Cathy and I attended the Good Friday Noon gathering of the churches in Galt. We were edified by singing the songs that had been chosen and hearing the gospel stories through the imaginary testimonies of Barabbas, Malchus, and one nameless person who, fifty years later, was recounting the event witnessed on the place called the Skull.

Last night in Auburn, the Christian Ministerial Association of the Foothills sponsored an annual Good Friday service at a downtown church. Again, we were taken to the Cross. The preaching was certainly led of the Spirit as I laid my burden down and heard this good news.

About Dick Otterstad and his latest 'outreach' project:

a friend wrote: "I sincerely hope that you stop replying to them.  All it does is fuel the fire. That seems to be exactly what they want you to do. . . .You certainly don't have to answer to this "man" in regards to your character and faith."

No, the Church of the Divide is not going away. This small group of antagonistic bushwhackers has taken over the comment section on my Auburn Journal article.

Ironically, this small persecution fire is so minimal compared to what we will most likely face in the years ahead. This infestation of mosquitoes is truly annoying for me but has worked to bring my flesh-dross to the surface.

(--that's not psycho-babble, it's scripture hidden within.)

I choose to remember that "....all things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose."

I once heard that Martin Luther said, 'even the devil is God's devil'. Likewise, the Divide can be used of God--even if their motives are wrong. Only God can read the heart of these men. However, their fruit is unsavory to my taste.

John 3:17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Someday Dick and company will learn that I have, in deed, publicly stood out against the national sins of abortion and sexual immorality (of all types). The next time I testify about such matters definitely needs to be led by the Spirit--not as a result of man-centered pressure to align myself with their 'new wineskin'.

God didn't call me to preach condemnation to Auburn. I do not have the calling of Jonah on my life. Sorry, Church of the Divide, ...if that's your 'calling', so be it.

Maybe I shouldn't have told those guys to go google themselves. Yeah, that was an offensive statement. It wasn't the direct result of fasting and prayer. It was probably the prideful remnant of a teenage smart-alec (activated by indignation--righteous or otherwise).

...and if that also sounds like psycho-babble. That's me.

The name's Rob . . . pastorob

It doesn't seem likely that Dick and company will ever seek to make peace with me. Of course, I would be willing to sit down with them--at least, at this point, I still am.

Having been swept up into the midst of their need for drama, I've felt like Peter Parker (knowing that the Green Goblin is watching over my shoulder--planning his next attack). Totally unnecessary drama, by the way.

Since the real power of God is in the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus, that's what I hope to share during the remainder of my days.

I will try to ignore this plague of mosquitoes--knowing that it is preparatory for 'real persecution' that may accompany my Spirit-led footsteps in the future.

Hope to see you tomorrow on Easter ... 

     um, I mean ...   Resurrection Sunday.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Years ago, Cathy and I began investing our time and resources into the lives of other people.  These small, unseen deposits build our interest over time. With prayer, communication and the giving of thankful praise that very interest is compounded.

We have tried to remember that not everyone who comes to us has a pure heart. The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy. It is important to be alert and to ready ourselves for the thief's intrusion into our lives.

The greatest juxtaposition of imagery comes to mind when I think of Jesus and His Good News:
       "I have come that they might have life
                              and have it more abundantly."

Troubled by the harassment of divisive 'brothers', I was feeling somewhat drained yesterday afternoon. Therefore, I am encouraged by starting this new day in remembrance of one small investment we have made during the last year.

On July 25, 2006, I received an email from a young man in Uganda. (excerpt below):

I am Semakula Experito, a Ugandan from (East africa) male age 18 yrs old. Am an orphan, and a Christian.  I was born in the small village near our capital city Kampala and I live with my grandfather because my lovely parents died in an accident with my beloved sister when they were coming back from the village.

 I was schooling before there death, but now I no longer school because my grandfather is too old and heís not well finically to pay my school duals. But I want to continue with my studies so that in future I can help my self, because of that, am looking for help/Advice from my fellow Christian. Please I kindly ask you to help/advise me.

My best hobbies are football, gospel music, traveling and others.

Nearly a year has passed since that first letter. Semakula has not been able to finish school. His grandfather has also since died.

Although I was unable to find a sponsor for this young man's education, we have continued to exchange short notes back and forth. I have never sent him any money. My sincere interest has only been expressed in this love language: quality time.

Several months ago, his coach located a soccer camp in North Carolina. He found a Ugandan businessman who made a commitment to loan him the airfare. I made several calls on his behalf but it did not work out. Knowing that we made the commitment to help him with camp exenses, he continued to look for other options.

This is Semakula's great temporal hope--to invest his talent in one step at a time. So, here we are, another day, another email:

Praise God, Thanks for the caring email you sent me. Am really so happy to inform you that the sponsor who told me to give me money for air ticket informed me that he will be in position to give it to me as soon as I get the visa.

I also contacted the soccer camp office in US and they told me that if there is a person who is going to pay for me soccer camp fee, he is the one to fill for me the application form.

I want to take this opportunity to wish you and the family at large a wonderful, lovely and peaceful Easter holiday. Right now here in my country we have already entered in a Good Friday and am going to church there a youth conference itís going to start at 1: 00 pm

So I have to go right now please send my lovely greetings to my brothers, sister and mommy that I do love them very much and happy Easter to them.

Yours in God
Semakula Experito

May our cultures' mutual acknowledgement of Jesus' death and resurrection bring depth to all of us who desire to grow in Christ.

Semakula's great temporal hope is tied to mine as we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

*note:  If you are a stranger who has happened by today, you'll find the Scripture I'm meditating upon:

 click here  and  click here

Seriously, go back to those hyperlinks and get some of God's Word in you today.

It isn't important that you read the stuff below,

    because . . .

Today's entry is more for my friends, family, and local church. You probably won't be edified by reading it. I just wrote to work through my personal issue with a small group of people who are trying to use public-manipulation to exercise control over others.

I grew up as a middle-child (4th of 5 kids). Our mother had died and, for the most part, we lacked strong supervision. My oldest sister and brother were nice enough to me but the sister just over me had a mean-streak. She had it in her to play nice...as long as I did things her way. Since I didn't always do things her way, I had to pay the price. She was bigger than me and had developed skill at delivering a sharp kick, scratch, and succinct slap-in-the-face.

Perhaps that is why I have responded as I have to the guy who wants to preach 'repentance' to cowardly, silent pastors. They are being called 'chicken' because they ignore outside demands to write letters to a local newspaper about contemporary issues (like abortion and gay marriage).

Self-analysis: With my limited comments to the prophets of the Divide, I may have reverted to scrapping with my sister. This is probably why I am stubbornly refusing to give Dick Otterstad what he is demanding.

There are certainly issues which need to be addressed by American Christians. As a growing Christian, I have faced many challenging moments of public witness throughout the years.

Six days ago, Dick wrote me a letter wanting me to read and respond to his letter to the Editor. It had sat there on the Editor's Page for a whole week without anyone accepting his challenge to 'defend Christianity.' At the time I wasn't aware that Dick has worked diligently to make a name for himself on TV and in print.

Before I did the research,  I thought, 'well, maybe this is a guy with the prophetic edge'. God raises up certain individuals to challenge his people through unusual means. I hope to always respect that (whether or not I fully understand).

(God help me if I'm wrong) ...but I think that Dick is doing his own thing and calling it prophetic.

I've seen self-proclaimed prophets before. These are Law-Thumpers who claim that they are operating under the legitimate authority of the Lord, God Almighty. They misuse the Scripture because they misuse His Name. They claim that God has sent them. Matthew 7:15-23 speaks to people who live a religious life but who have not been authorized to preach the particular message they're preaching:  click here, Dick

Instead of taking the path of least resistance, I decided to go ahead and tell Dick that I'm not gonna do things their way.

Now, they are calling me names. My sister tried that too. She started her highly-publicized neighborhood torment by calling me "Watermelon Head". I never thought that I had a big head (but it was obvious that I didn't like it).

She tried calling me "Bug Eyes" but chose to stick with the Big Head theme. Later, she refined her humiliation by reducing my name to "Seedling" and later simply "Seed."

Yup...that's the real world--being called names by little men who carry big signs and say mean things.

My family-of-origin prepared me to face these big, bad religionists who slap others with legalistic, self-righteous proof-texts. It is ironic to hear a wolf in sheep's clothing accuse me of being a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Dick, Luke, Beth, and others are definitely 'purpose-driven.'  Dick's attempts to force others to follow his leadership apparently resonates with the others. I'm just not playing their game their way...and that seems to bother them. So go on, call me names.

   Try "Watermelon Head". It really gets me going....

Even with childhood scars, I still enjoy eating watermelon. Likewise, I'm still enjoying being the Coach of a winning team. Through effective teamwork, we will attempt to impact 21st Century culture. As we seek Him, we will expect God to direct our steps.

"Comfortable, CoffeeHouse Christianity"...
         . . . yeah, that's part of it.

So is traveling to uncomfortable Liberia or Pakistan, going on hospital visitation, preparing for VBS, officiating at weddings and funerals ...and more. Being a follower of Jesus sometimes isn't going to attract the media. That's fine with me.

Here is a passage that I really need to read today in order to stay on the right track as I walk in the real world.

Click here, Rob.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I was listening to last Sunday's Sermon and was reminded of my spontaneous rendition of a certain pop song from 1970. Considering the lyrics I couldn't remember, I googled "long haired, freaky people" and came up with these interesting lyrics (click here). Reading the last verse confirms that this was an appropriate song with which to remember a recent sermonic theme:

    Hammering on Legalism while Hangin' on Love"

Up at 5 a.m. this morning. Pakistani pastor, Shamas Pervaiz (my internet friend) would like to attend the Asian Baptist Congress in Thailand (May 2-6). He has been offered help with room, board, and conference fees.  I asked him to check on airfare from Pakistan to Thailand.

He wrote back this morning:

Greetings to you in Lord,

How are you? Today I ask from Travil agency about airfare. He say with return tickit Price is 542$ US for one person and Apply fees in Embassy for Visa 30$ US and Convence cost with Food from Faisalabad to Islamabad with stay is 20$US.

Travil Agent told me this is Today Rate. But if you will book after near about two weeks then perhaps some change in Airfare, perhaps some less or some high. He told me remember this.

God Bless You
Your Brother in Christ

He obviously needs help with his airfare. He would also like to take an interpreter to help him translate English to Urdu.

Even Google translators don't provide Urdu (click here).

Is there any out there willing to help see this come to pass for Pastor Shamas?  If you would like to see his progress as a leader, please look at these photos that he has sent me over the months since we first began corresponding.

Play & View All Images

More from Pakistan: Play & View All Images

This Christianity Today article was sent to me this morning. "Living with Islamists" also describes the celebration of Easter in one part of Pakistan (click here).

I hope that you will make plans to join Auburn area pastors at the Community Good Friday service. It is at 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Auburn (downtown).

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Yup. I guessed correctly. Dick Otterstad was coming after yours truly. What a waste.

Well, anyway, I wrote a reply to his remarks at the Auburn Journal. I've got so much more important matters at hand but I wanted to at least reply once.

IF you click below and read the comments, please don't forget to read the original article. It has two pages. I think that some people are missing the meat of the message (on the second page).

Jesus and the Real World

Monday, April 2, 2007

Just in from Pakistan:

Respectable in Lord Brother Pastor Rob,
March 31, we talk with Secretary of Auqaf Department.

Also Coordinator of Chief Minister with him for talk.
They were agree with us. They say Pastor will preach forever and their Bishops will their head.

After 5 Years Bishops will write to Auqaf Department their Pastors are still serving and they will give permission again for marriage certificate to them.

Also they agree with us. They say now Pastors will not go to Police station for Clearance of Pastors because their Bishops are their head and Bishops will give them Clearance Certificate.
Auqaf Department call Churches head on dated 7th of May at 10.00am at Auqaf Department Office.
I am thankful to Lord because He listen our Prayers.

On dated 7th May 2007 at 10.00am all will be done.

Thank you Jesus.
I am thankful to you all because you all pray hard for us.

God Bless You.

Yours in Lord
Bishop Shamas Pervaiz

news from Thailand:

Joe and Sharon are trying to get married in Thailand. They don't want to wait because they would like the freedom to travel on-mission together without bringing question upon their name(s) and character. Among other goals, they would like to attend the Asian Baptist Congress in May.

I suggested they follow the legal protocol in Thailand, elope (as modeled by Ronny and Hennie) and then have a reaffirmation of covenant when we see them in America.

I have had a chance to converse with Sharon over GoogleTalk and Chat. She is a faithful Christian and is the daughter of a deacon who passed away last year. Sharon has earned a Masters Degree in Missiology. She seems like a good match for our son.

I am happy that Joe has found "somebody to love."

Thanks to all who have posted on the Auburn Journal story about Jesus and the Real World. I encourage you all to stop back and read the comments from those who don't know Jesus. You won't necessarily get this kind of feedback on a Sunday morning at church (click here).

"Who here among us has not been broken?
       Who here among us is without guilt or pain?"

Those are the words with which Renee and Anthony began their special song yesterday morning at BellRoad.

It is 6:10 a.m. on a dark, Monday morning in California, I posted the following just past midnight. There is so much to do during these final days of preparation.

I may not be able to complete everything I've hoped to accomplish but I want to put into practice this idea about 'perfected praise'. That practice will only happen if I focus my loving attention on my Lord and Savior today.

These days leading to Calvary and then to Resurrection Morning will involve much use of this operative modality:


That's the way I work best and I hope you'll be able to follow my method. If not today, maybe by Friday.

  "The day is coming when practice becomes history."
                                               --Coach  Monday, 2007

Dedication Meditation:   DAY TWO

Read and meditate upon Exodus 19-20 (click here)

Of special interest to me today is this passage:

Then he said to the people,

"Prepare yourselves for the third day.
                  Abstain from sexual relations."

In our message yesterday, I announced that our discipline of Spiritual Isometric and Scrimmaging will be going underground. No more overt mention of the alliances will take place on Sunday mornings.

Perhaps a friendly reminder of yesterday's forecast will prove helpful as the buzz of busy workers continue:

"The Bells shall tweaketh the Whistles
           as the Whistles ringeth the Bells.
 The Movers shall e-maileth the Shakers
         as the Shakers rattleth this Box
            with one simple question:

'Father, what will Thy Spirit reveal of the treasures    
               wrapped up for us in Christ Jesus?'

The Coach and all his assistants shall tip-toeth around in the early mornings of preparation . . .

        and they shall sneaketh a peek
            and they shall smile:
                  knowing that Day 8 is gonna be great!"

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Seven Days of Dedication: DAY ONE

Read and meditate upon Genesis 1-3 (click here)

Of special interest to me today is this passage:

"Then the man and his wife heard the sound
      of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden
      in the cool of the day, and they hid
      from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"

He answered,

     "I heard you in the garden,
                   and I was afraid
                   because I was naked;    so I hid."

Yesterday, before we went into the Teachers' Conference, Joe and I were chatting (Cathy was sitting next to me watching along).

Chat Log: Saturday Morning  7:49 AM

joe: Hey Daddy.    I wanna get married.

me: yeah... well, not yet, OK?

joe: yeah. not yet..  when?

me: when the right woman shows up!

joe: you wanna question the candidate?

me: If she's with you, I'd say..."uh...not right now..."

        I'm writing my blog...

joe: ???

me: and whatever is chatted might be shouted
        from the rooftop..

joe: OK with me
        or we can go "off the record"

me: uh...I'm in a hurry to publish and get to the church...

7:51 AM    can we 'chat' in about 30 minutes?

joe: OK

me: there's an associational mtg. there.   ok

joe: in 30 minutes?

me: be online in 30 minutes
        21 minutes after the next hour

7:52 AM joe: you will be online in 30 minutes

me: yup    bye

joe: later
17 minutes later (we've arrived at the Campus)

8:10 AM

joe: hey papa
        find some headphones and a microphone

        so we can Google Talk

me: no microphone...
        hey I haven't even left for the church yet

        I'll get on in 10-15 minutes...

        Read my blog...important.  bye

So, after we got to the church, Joe, Cathy, and I chatted in the second-to-the-back row of our sanctuary. Mom stayed and chatted longer, while I went to a session.

Later, Sharon google-talked with me and I got to know her heart. I learned that her father (a faithful deacon) had passed away just last year. I told her that I wouldn't mind having a missionary-daughter with a Master's Degree.

So, without publishing all of our private stuff, we will let you hear Joe. Gotta listen close because it was sent as a small-file mp3.

11:25 AM   CLICK HERE for Joe's voice

Hey Bell Road ... He is Risen!
This is Joseph Patterson. I am in Karen Camp taking refuge inside the Kingdom of Thailand. Just wanted to say Happy Easter and confirm the rumors that I am in fact ENGAGED! If you want more info, it's probably best to check out pastorob.com and you'll find links to pictures and all other information.

      I just can't wait to get up to Bell Road Again.

Hey daddy, you can download the voicemail as an mp3    
          and play if with the transcript if you like :D

Here are the photos: click here

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