Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm not sure whether or not to be proud of this...but I am.

I submitted my blog site to "The Blog Readability Test," and within seconds got this response:

cash advance

This probably is a bad sign, it probably means that I need to use smaller-easier-to-understand-words... but somehow it feels pretty satisfying. ;-)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Count your blessings

Anytime that Jesus says: for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. It's probably wise to pay attention.
Here's the full pericope:

9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

I'm familiar with this passage, and find solace in knowing that God is a good father, who gives good gifts. But I was reminded on Tuesday night at Rob Bells, The God's Aren't Angry tour how much God has given me, and how hesitant I am to trust him with the future. I realize that it is dumb not to trust God, but it is insane to not trust a God who has showered blessings upon me.

A friend from Matilija who also attended Westmont with me, always reminds me of the goals for my life that I shared with him in College. I wanted to

1) Live in Ojai
2) Have a manicured front lawn
3) Own a truck

Add to that the non materialistic goals that I've always had

a) Get married to a woman who loves Jesus
b) Have two daughters
c) Be a pastor

Alright, so maybe I was/am a bit shallow, but these were my stated goals as an 18 year old, (mixed in there somewhere was the whole goal to teach others about Jesus, but this post isn't about that).

So, I'm sitting listening to Rob Bell while I realize that although I am in fact generous and share with others, my initial reaction is to horde. What makes it really messed up is that out of my 6 stated goals, I now have all of them, and had very little to do with receiving any of them.

1) We can only live in Ojai because family has opened homes up to us.
2) I only have a manicured front lawn because my mom trades tutor services for lawn services.
3) I only have a truck because my Grandpa gave it to my family.
4) Amber married me because...(who really knows how I pulled off that one?)
5) I have two daughters because of something having to do with X & Y chromosomes and God.
6) I'm a pastor because God chose to call me and send me back to my home church.

So, my 18 year old goals have been achieved as gifts from God, none of them were achieved by my pulling myself up by my boot straps, and my initial response to another need seems to be hording. That sucks.

May I recognize that everything I have is a gift from God, and may I hold them with an open hand, trusting in Him.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


So, some of you have probably already heard about the new addition to the Smith House. When I was a sophmore in college, my roommates and I went in quarters on a new 25" TV from CostCo. After we were evicted 6 months later I bought my roommates shares of the tv and gave it to my mom. Then, when Amber and I got married we took the TV with us, and it was our first TV that we used for 6 years. Then, earlier this year, Amber's aunt gave us her CRT 35" monstrous TV. It was huge, but had no style...poor us ;-)
Then, last week, much to my excitement, Amber's sister let us know that they had replaced their rear projection HDTV with a plasma, and that we could have their old one.
So, Tim and I took a trip to LA and we picked it up. It had some bizzare blue lines going through some of the images, but after some internet research I took apart the front access panel, twisted a knob and "boom" the TV turned off. After I calmed myself down, I tried to turn it back on again, and there it was, a beautiful 50" image*, sans blue lines. It seems that it is only a temporary fix, and that sometime this year a tube may go ($500 to replace 1 of 3). So, I don't know how long we will get to enjoy watching Grey's Anatomy & Heros larger than life, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Before and After

*Further research leads me to conclude that 50" is the perfect size for my living room, (Viewing distance /2 = ideal diagonal dimension)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

When am I going to stop seeing myself as a Pharisee?

The Evangelical tradition, (of which I am probably a part), makes a big deal about the heart. We ask questions like, "How is your walk with God?" And we make statements like, "Well, Jesus cares about the heart of the individual."
I was recently listening to a sermon on Matthew 23, and was stunned by these words of Jesus, "You have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness." I know that Jesus cares about how I treat the poor, the wronged, the alien... I know that I am to show mercy to others, but I have also lived with the assurance that what was really important was my heart. I have cared about justice, but I have equally (if not more so) cared about religion. I would estimate that I spend more time being"religious," that is, acting in a way that a Christian Pastor is expected to act, than I have seeking merciful justice.
The Pharisees were super religious, they had their tithes down to a science, they didn't omit anything, even the smallest spice, however they missed the more important matters, they missed the obedience that God really was hoping for, they missed the point that obeying God meant more than just being concerned with their own walk with God.