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May 2007

Up All Night

It's crazy, but just about the time that my creative writing juices start flowing I look at the clock and it is time for me to go to bed.  I should go to bed.  I should get some sleep so I am ready to face tomorrow's challenges.  Jesus said that each day has enough trouble of its own and I need to (or should I say I "get" to) get up and face those challenges in about six hours.  But I can't go to sleep just yet.  As the night moves closer to the morning and I reflect on the last few minutes of the day and gaze toward tomorrow, I find that I am thinking about you.

As I am going to bed here in South Korea you are just getting up to a new day in the States.  As I am pushing through the lethargy of my mid-afternoon workday, you are just entering into a much needed night of sleep.  When I am up, you're in bed; when I am asleep, you're living out your day.  I am living in your tomorrow and you are living in my yesterday seems like we are living a world apart from each other but really it is only a half a world apart.

I am thinking about you-in fact, I am praying for you.  The miles, the time zones, and the calendar pages recede to nothing as I hold you in my heart.  As some of you know, all too well, each day does have "enough trouble of its own."  I want you to know that I am sorry, I care, and that I am lifting you to Jesus in prayer.  As you start out the morning, know that I am offering up evening prayers for you.  When I begin to battle mid-afternoon drowsiness it will serve to remind me to pray for you as you enter into an evening of rest. 

I am thinking about you and so is God.  In fact, God has never stopped thinking about you and me.  In Psalm 121 it says,

"My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.  Indeed, he who watches over Israel (you) never slumbers or sleeps.  The Lord himself watches over you!" (NLT)

Wow.  The miles, the calendar pages, the time zones and date lines mean nothing to God.  He never sleeps-He stays awake watching over you and me.  He knows about the troubles of the day and He is there with us, watching over us. 

Rest assured knowing that He never rests.

Good night.



There are no lawns and there isn't much grass here in the neighborhoods of Daejeon, South Korea but it doesn't stop the kids from playing.  In every parking lot, dead end street and busy street for that matter kids can be seen playing--soccer, badmitten, riding bikes, baseball (with a bat and tennis ball), roller skating--and much more, and they actually look like they are having fun!

Here are a group of guys that I came upon this evening as I was exiting our apartment building.    They were brandishing plastic swords and transformer robot toys.  They were hilarious to watch.  I smiled at them and poked some fun at them and they all tried out some English words on me.  After I admired their toys I got them all to line up on the steps for a picture.

After a short sword fight and a round of high fives (actually three times around) I slipped away from the group and headed on down the street.  I left that time with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.  I found myself missing my days of teaching elementary school.  Children are amazing.

Jesus is known to have said,

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these"


"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." 

I could ramble on about the why and how of Jesus and children and us but......

Just take a look at the picture.


"O Christ, my life, possess me utterly. Take me and make a little Christ of me.  If I am anything but thy Father's son, 'Tis something not yet from the darkness won.  Oh, give me light to live with open eyes.  Oh, give me life to hope above all skies.  Give me thy spirit to haunt the Father with my cries." 

--George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

"Don't shut up any avenue of your nature, let God come into every avenue, every relationship, and you will find the nightmare curse of "secular and sacred" will go."

--Oswald Chamber, Run Today's Race

Each morning I try to do a little devotional reading-hoping to align my heart and mind with Jesus and move into the day's work, challenges and adventure with my eyes fixed on Him.

The passages above, from MacDonald and Chambers, were part of this morning's readings and my heart was quickened and challenged as I found in them a congruent message speaking directly into my life.

How many different people am I?  I am husband, a father, an assistant principal, a friend, a son, a brother, a boss, an ordained minister, a music and worship leader, an uncle, here in South Korea a Westerner, a............ the list goes on.

How many different people am I?  How do I act and think when at home, at work, when I am alone, in a crowd, at a restaurant, in a store checkout line, in a crowded subway car, on vacation,  ...........?

 As creations of God, people are amazing; there are so many facets to our lives, minds, and souls.  There are so many rooms in the house of who we are and the glory of God is realized in the very depth of each and every individual.

Because our complexity is from God it is most fruitful as it is lived out and realized in God.  That is what I think the writers MacDonald and Chambers are touching upon.  We are not to live in multiplicity, we are not to compartmentalize our lives and dwell within the "nightmare curse of the sacred and the secular."  For this is a place of diminishing returns.  Rather, God wants access to every part of our lives--to possess us "utterly."  It is in this place of "oneness" with Jesus that we live most fully and completely.

How do I do this?  MacDonald says to cry out to the Lord for help.

Romans 12: 1-2 from the Message translation sheds some light on the why and the how.

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."

The Big Story

  At TCIS I am currently serving on the Bible Curriculum Committee.  Yipes, this is a daunting task.  On this committee we are redesigning a new 6th through 12th grade Bible Curriculum for the school.  Our discussion today centered upon designing a benchmark that communicates that the Bible message is not "A" meta-narrative but rather it is "THE" meta-narrative.

What is a meta-narrative?  Good question.  If you Google it you will find hundreds of attempts at defining "meta-narrative."  For the sake of childlike simplicity I will define meta-narrative as-Big Story.  There are lots of Big Stories these days that describe, define, guide and delineate the meaning of life.

As a Christian I believe that the Bible is not just another Big Story of the origin and meaning of life but rather I believe that it is "THE" story.  At this point some of you are ready to launch into debate and discussion with me and some of you are saying, "So....?"

If I were reading this blog I would be a part of the "So....?" group.  Personally I don't have the time nor do I have the intellect to philosophically joust over the issue of whether or not the Bible is "a" or "the" meta-narrative. 

However I do have some thoughts.......(thus my blog title,................ Ryan's Ramblings)

If someone were to ask me, "What is the Big Story of the Bible?" I would answer that, "The Bible is the story of God's continual effort towards loving relationship with humankind."  I believe that the deepest heart of God is realized in loving relationship and that God created humankind for relationship with Himself.  God wants to have relationship with you and with me.

The antithesis of relationship is coercion.  God will not force our love, worship or relationship with Him.  He wants genuine relationship, thus he gives humankind freedom of choice.  Throughout the Bible we see God reaching out, pursuing, and wooing his children unto Himself.  The Bible is the story of One who will do nearly anything to draw His children into loving relationship.

In the Bible we see God using signs, prophets, miracles, calamity, even an entire nation of people to draw humankind unto Himself.  Amidst the dust and grime of a Bethlehem stable the story of God takes an unexpected turn.  God comes to earth to make the way for relationship with Him.

In the Story of God we see God's heart in His beloved son, Jesus Christ.  In Jesus we see God reaching through the sin that separates Him from his children and making the ultimate sacrifice so that we all might have relationship with Him.  At this point in the story I find myself considering the cross and as I scan the crowd of onlookers I see myself standing among them.  "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us." 

He died so that I might live.

At the point of Jesus' death on the cross the Story of God dims towards blackness.  Where is the hope?  From the darkness of a tomb the light of hope and life bursts forth.  Jesus has broken the chains of sin and death-making the way for unending life, hope and relationship with God...forever!  At the point where it seems that the Story of God is coming to an end, in reality the story is just beginning.

God is still reaching out to you and me.  He loves us and He wants to be in true relationship with us.  He has given us His Word to hear and to know Him, He has given us the Holy Spirit for guidance and for power and He has given us one another-In our love and relationship with one another God is pleased and realized, in this we then become His hands and feet to the world around us.

The Story of God continues.....

It is the lens, the worldview, the context in which I live my life.  This Big continuing Story is not realized in the university classroom or in the pews of a church.  Rather, this Big Story is realized in my work, my leisure, my relationships, my spending, my words, my thoughts and my actions.  This Big Story is realized in my every day life of joy and doubt and fear and anger.  This Big Story plays out in the bleachers where I watch my child play baseball and in the doctor's office where I am confronted with report of cancer.

In the Big Story there is evil but there is also good.  The good is God-the almighty creator of heaven and earth, the God of love who desires a rich relationship with His children.

At the end of the Bible, in the book of Revelation we get a sneak preview of the end of "this part" of the story.  It reads,

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.   He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever."

"And the one sitting on the throne said, "Look, I am making everything new!" And then he said to me, "Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true." And he also said, "It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega-the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.  All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children." other words, "They lived happily ever after."

Today #1

". . . you pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering."

- Professor Harold Hill, The Music Man

When I was an elementary school teacher I used to have this quote from Harold Hill posted on my classroom wall.  Each morning when I greeted my fourth, fifth, or sixth grade students I would either recite this quote or I would say to them, "Today is the only May 17th, 2007 (or whatever day it was) you and I are ever going to get........ so let's give our best in all we do."

Over the years I could tell that this daily occurrence of focusing upon "today" made a lasting impression on my students.  In all honesty, I said it as much for myself as I did for them.  I wanted to remember the value and realize the potential of the day ahead of me.

I don't teach elementary school anymore and at times I find that I forget the value of "today."  I take "today" for granted and rest upon yesterday's successes or set my hopes on trumped up plans for tomorrow.  In reality all I really have is "today"--yesterday is gone and there is no guarantee of tomorrow.  I need a reminder of the gift of "today" in my life.

Thankfully God reminds me.

Psalm 118:24 says, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Today is a gift from God.  As the morning sun rises and God hands me the gift of a new day, He assures me of His presence and says, "Let's go give our best and make today worth remembering."


"What deadens us most to God's presence within, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are engaged in within ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought.  I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort than being able from time to time to stop that chatter, including the chatter of spoken prayer." -- Frederick Buechner

The IPOD, cell phones, the internet, the radio, the telephone, the TV, the neighbors, the cars, the motorcycles, the dog next door, the noise, noise, noise (thanks Grinch)--when does it stop?!

Not there.  The real noise in our lives is in our hearts and minds.  The worries, the whining, the complaining, the muttering, the doubts,  the......

Take a moment, plan a moment, make a moment and just......STOP.

"Be still and know that I am God...."  Ps. 46:10

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him."  Ps. 62:5

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters..."          Ps. 23:2

 "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him..."  Ps. 37:7

"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you." Ps. 116:7

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Matt. 11:29

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  John 14:27

"...the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."  Rom. 8:26

"My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip--He who watches over you will not slumber...."  Ps. 121:2-3

 Shhh......listen to Him say.........I love you.


"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."  --Philippians 2:1-2

 Jesus, me, and.....others.

There is a praise chorus that we sing here in South Korea that I just love.  It is a peppy, fun and joyful song, yet I find myself deeply moved and on the verge of tears each time I sing it.  Here are the lyrics:

When I think about the Lord, How He saved me, how He raised me, How He filled me, with the Holy Ghost. How He healed me, to the uttermost.

When I think about the Lord, How He picked me up and turned me around, How He placed my feet on solid ground.

It makes me wanna shout, Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus, Lord, you're worthy, of all the glory, and all the honor, and all the praise... 

by James Huey

At times in my job as the assistant principal here in the high school I struggle with some of the "rough" spots in my job description, specifically.....discipline.  Most of the time when students are called to my office it is because they have done something wrong--they are in trouble.  No one likes to be disciplined and not many have "warm, fuzzy feelings" about the one who doles out the discipline.

I don't especially enjoy being the "disciplinarian" of the school, but I do it.

 When I talk with kids and deal with discipline issues I often put myself in their place--in the "hot seat."  There but for the grace of God go I.  God knows the many times that I have blown it and He knows my potential for blunder.  God disciplines, guides and directs me but He does so with mercy, grace

In the midst of the lectures, detentions, parent phone calls, and suspensions I try to be loving, understanding and caring towards the students.  Sometimes disciplining and being disciplined doesn't feel very "Christian".  I wonder at times, if there is any good that can come of it all.

Below is a precious email that I recieved from one of my students named Chris.  Chris had his struggles, and he and I went a few "rounds" together, but over time we also had a few good laughs and some meaningful talks together.  Chris ended up leaving our school because his parents were concerned about his discipline record.  I was sorry to see him leave.  Here is the email he sent me:

Hello, mr roberts how are you doing? is it a bit boring without me causing all the trouble?? Ha Ha Ha.  I just wanted to say hi to you and say that you were really good to me and that i really did respect you and appreciated you for all the things you did for me.  I know i was quite a pain sometimes getting in trouble and all.  so i really wanted to apologize for all the things i did to cause you stress.  I think that the school and me just didn't get along, but i think that if i did a little better on my attitude and my temper i would've gotten into much less trouble.  However, there was a good part about me getting in trouble so many times... i got to know you! (even though the way i achieved it wasn't very good...)  I always wanted to become friends with a principle.  I'm doing fine right now and i really changed.  i had some weeks of therapy and my temper have reduced alot! and i'm really into studying now and i have a big big big goal for me to accomplish.  mr. roberts i'm not going say that i'll be missing being in your office, but i am going to miss you and the whole school.  Well this was your student Chris reporting his status Sir!  OVER AND OUT~~~ BYE

PS: next time when i see you let's hope that i don't see you in your office with a frown, but with a smile ^

You never know do you?  This email serves as a reminder to me that my actions and interactions with other people matter.

Jesus lived in the real world and so do we.  We have to deal with real world issues and challenges.  We have to deal with things that are messy and difficult.  We have to deal with things that are hard--like discipline.  We have to deal with people.  If we have any fellowship with the Holy Spirit we can, and need to deal with all of these things and people with tenderness and compassion....

Just like Jesus deals with you and me.

"Be kind and compassionate with one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  --Ephesians 4:32