Thursday, December 20, 2007

Every Blessing

A little over two hours ago, I finished my last final exam (intro to music technology), and, for all practical puposes, finished my first semester of college study. In a few hours, I will check out and move out of my residence hall for a three-week break.

These last four weeks (the weeks since returning to school from Thanksgiving break) have been quite exciting. Two weekends ago was the Wheaton College Christmas Festival, a rather large undertaking that involved over two hundred students and a bit of a stressful week prior. But the performances (there were two) went quite well, I am glad that I had the oppotunity to get involved on the house staff.

Then last week, all the end-of-term activities began in earnest. My final exams actually began last week Wednesday with class piano, and, as mentioned above, concluded today. Although I had a lot of time with nothing to do (there is only so much you can study for the exams in the classes I have), it was nice to have my finals spread out over the course of nine days. It gave me a chance to get things done and get ready to leave.

This past weekend included a special treat. Zach Vander Laan, an Oak Park alumnus and friend of mine since junior high, and now a freshman at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, was home for break a week earlier than most of his friends, so he came out to Wheaton to visit Heidi Jahns and me (the three of us all grew up in the same church). We went out to dinner with a couple of Heidi's friends and then the three of us spent some time together catching up and sharing stories of our experiences this semester. Both Zach and Heidi have been around for and even present at many of the significant events of the last few years of my life, and I really enjoyed spending some quality time with the two of them.

This past Monday night, Wheaton observed its monthly All-School Communion. Dr. Gary Burge, professor of New Testament, gave a message based on the story of the Magi. His challenge to us was to be, like the Magi, curious and "permeable," and see what God might have planned.

One of the songs for worship on Monday night was the hymn "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." My first experience with this hymn was several years ago, playing in my home church's orchestra, accompanying the sanctuary choir. It was a powerful arrangement, and I remember teaching myself to play it on the piano soon thereafter.

Monday night, though, I was particularly struck by the lyrics in the third stanza of the modern text.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

I've written before about how in the past few months, God has really moved me to stop trying to control my life and let Him quide me along the path He has for me. This third stanza, particularly the last four lines, seem to be a perfect representation. I am prone to wander, and try to do my own thing. The second stanza states that "Jesus sought me when a stranger/Wandering from the fold of God." While that, I think, speaks specifically to salvation, the concept of Jesus bringing a wanderer back to God pertains to my recent experiences as well.

So there's my reflection at the end of my first semester of college. It certainly was an adventure.

Merry Christmas!

This is Rubio, over and out.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back to the Ranch

This afternoon marks just the second time I have returned to Wheaton after a break, the first being fall break over the penultimate weekend of October, and this most recent one being Thanksgiving. It's a different feeling, coming back to a residential school after being home for a few days. Not quite like coming back from a youth group retreat, but it's the closest similar situation. I am glad to be back, though. A year ago, I was in the midst of the period of waiting between application and notification, and now this 80-acre campus, recently decorated for the Christmas season, feels like home.

Home. It's an interesting word, isn't it? The Oxford English Dictionary defines "home" as "the place where one lives." I'll accept that. I do refer to the house where I grew up and where my parents and younger brother currently reside as home, and when I say "I'm going home," that is the geographic location to which I refer. But the reader knows what I mean when I use the phrase "feels like home." So there must be some other connotation to the word.

Note the use of the word "feels" in the idiom. So the object of the phrase, while not a replica, has some quality that resembles home. Wheaton College has many qualities that resemble my parents' house in Oak Park. Material things, of course, but obviously the phrase means immaterial entities that remind one of home.

So, what immaterial qualities does Wheaton College have that remind me of home? I could come up with a list of decent length, I'm sure, but at the top of it, without question, is people who love and support me and whom I love and support back.

I have said it before, and this is something else I will continue to say: it's the people around us that make life worth living. It's through them that God expresses His love for us, and we demonstrate our love for Him by loving the people around us.

And what better place to do that than at a place that feels like home? In the few hours I have been back on campus, I've reconnected with some of the other men on my floor, and I'm looking forward to seeing all my other friends here at Wheaton throughout the day tomorrow. I've had more than one tough week this semester, and this one is a prime candidate for that list also, but it's the mutually encouraging and supportive relationships I have, and the grace of God manifested through them, that get me through.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Reflections on Friendship

It's been a very full week here at Wheaton College. I had three substantial tests (all of which went reasonably well), lots of evening activities, and the cold weather is finaly here to stay. I'm particularly excited for what's happening tonight: the Artist Series is presenting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra! An upperclassman friend told me that this is the first time in something like 20 years that the CSO has come to Wheaton. Two of my favorite institutions will be joined tonight. I can't wait.

All three chapels this week were connected under the series title, "The Making of Friendship." Last month, a sociology professor and a CFM professor sent out a survey via e-mail to the whole campus community, asking for objective information on our friend situations and also some subjective thoughts on the same. I took the survey with mild curiosity as to what the results would be.

On Monday, these two professors presented the survey results with some commentary based on their professional expertise. Most of the statistics were about what I expected, and I was also interested to learn that the faculty, staff, and administration had been included in the survey (I hadn't known that when I first took it myself).

For Wednesday's chapel, the student body was divided by gender. At men's chapel, two graduate students spoke about their same-gender friendship and two faculty members spoke about their opposite-gender friendship.

Then today, the student body was divided by class. At freshman chapel, a psychology professor spoke about "The Theology of Friendship" and a panel of freshmen spoke about their experiences making friends at Wheaton.

I really enjoyed this chapel series. I have had very little trouble making friends here at Wheaton, but it was really encouraging to here the institution acknowledging and encouraging the cultivation of friendships within the Wheaton community. On Monday and Friday, the topic of balancing friends with all our other responsibilities as students. The professors who spoke acknowledged that the school does put a fair amount of pressure on the students to achieve high standards academically, but by no means recommended that we ignore the people around us in the interest of our grades. We were encouraged to invest time into our friendships, because at the end of the day, when the books are closed, it's the people in our lives that make life worth living.

Wheaton College isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We are quite skilled at getting results academically and professionally, but sometimes we forget the One who blessed us with those skills. But then there are times when we do remember, and we see the people around us the He loves so much, and it suddenly feels natural to choose them over our homework.

I've said it before, and I will say it again as long as I have breath: I firmly believe that God wants me at Wheaton College. He has brought so many amazing people into my life in the last two and a half months, and He has allowed me to maintain a lot of the relationships I developed during my high school years, and He has blessed me with the ability to stay in touch with my family. It's my relationship with those people, the men and women who love me and care about me, that God is using to show just how much He loves me more than any other experience I could have.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Seven-and-a-Half - But I'm Not Counting

If you know me well enough, you are aware that I occasionally like to count down to things, primarily Christmas, but also the start of trips and exciting events, like starting college. With the end of the first half of the 2007 fall semester yesterday, it would be mathematically correct to say that I have only seven-and-a-half semesters of college to go. But I am NOT counting down. Rather, I am reflecting on the last eight weeks and the clear hand of God in all that has happened to me.

Where do I even begin to summarize my first half-semester of college? It certainly was a unique mix of adventures. I have totally revised my sleeping habits. It takes me five minutes to get from my bed to the breakfast table. I now have friends from places as close as the city of Wheaton and as far as the continent of Africa. I've eaten Ramen. I've taken more rides on Metra (the train system serving the six-county area of northeast Illinois) since starting college than in my whole life before. I've learned how to play clarinet. I've been to a college football game. I've entered about a dozen new phone numbers into my contacts list. I've taken more rides in an elevator than I can count. I've used the word "Doctor" in normal conversation even more times. I've performed in Edman Chapel. I've heard amazing, challenging, encouraging speakers like John Piper live. I've taken my last-ever math or science class. I've had more coffee in the last eight weeks than in my whole life before.

How much of that did I expect would happen? Bits of it, I'm sure. I knew, for example, about how long it would take to get from Traber Hall 512 to Anderson Commons. But the Wheaton experience thus far has been, overall, better than I could ever have imagined. I have said it before and I will continue saying for the rest of my life: I know that God wants me at Wheaton College because He will use my time there to form me more into the man of Christ He wants me to be. I am so excited for the next seven-and-a-half semesters. If they're anything like the first half-semester, I'm in for some wild rides.

In the interim, though, I am enjoying my long weekend of a fall break. It is really nice to have a few days to relax at home, catch up on local news and sleep, and just see whatever else happens.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Man Plans and God Laughs

Tonight marks five weeks since I moved in to Wheaton College. I just stated that fact to my roommate, Sam Ostransky. His response was that it feels like a lot longer, and I agree. The past thirty-five days have been some of the most exciting of my life. I'd like to reflect on them briefly.

Thirty-six days ago I was going to bed in my childhood home in Oak Park, within a few steps of my parents and brother, and wondering what the next day would hold. Practically, of course, I knew it would involve driving out to campus, unpacking my belongings, meeting Sam and my RA, Craig Miller, and a few other orientation activities. But I was also thinking about what would happen as I transitioned into a completely new social and somewhat new spiritual environment. Over the summer, I had met a few other members of my freshman class on Facebook, and I was looking forward to meeting them. I was also looking forward to being in a distinctly, actively Christian community.

Being the task-oriented, organized person that I am, I thought that I had college life all figured out by the time I arrived. I may have, to some extent, as evidenced by the lack of major problems for me during orientation week. But, as I have realized, that attitude of thinking I was in complete control of my life was keeping me from fully experiencing what God had in store for me even in the first month of college. So He shook my life up a little bit. Allow me to give a specific example.

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were both very busy days. Monday night, I was a little worried about how I would get to all my scheduled activities (a few more than usual) and complete all my homework and practicing in the time I had. I was also suffering from a slight cold, which meant that I was trying to get through busier than usual days with less than the usual amount of energy.

So Monday night, before I went to bed, I asked God to help me get through the next two days. I think it was in that moment that I stopped worrying about how I would do that and started trusting God to take care of everything. And, praise God, He did. It's almost ironic: the minute I stopped worrying about how I would get everything done, I was able to do just that. I was able to get to all my classes, rehearsals, and meetings, get all my homework done, and even have some time to enjoy the company of my friends.

Letting go of the control I have over my life has always been a struggle for me. I have a natural tendency to want everything planned, defined, identified, and free of complications. Quite obviously, life is very rarely like that (even in pure mathematics you have variables!), so I've had more than the usual amount of frustration when life doesn't go the way I'd like it to. Sometimes I try to do things my way even when I know that God would have me do it a different way. In those times, I often find myself failing, but God is always ready to restore me and lead me back to the path he has for me.

Giving God control of my life is something I've been doing little by little since I became a Christian almost six years ago. Going to college has definitely triggered a substantial amount of letting go on my part, and as a result, God has blessed me richly. He has given me wonderfully supportive friends and teachers, not to mention my unendingly supportive family back home. He has given me physical, emotional, intellectural, and spiritual strength when I thought I had none. And He has given me a little taste of the future He has in store for me. I truly believe that it was by the perfect will of God alone that I am here at Wheaton College, and I truly believe that He will use my time here in ways that are better than I could ever have imagined. I long to be the man of Christ that God has designed me to be, and I know that as I surrender to Him, He will continue to mold me into His image.

The verse that has defined my life for the past few years is First Timothy 1:12: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who gave me strength, that He considered me faithful, appointing me to His service." My prayer on this five-week mark is that God alone would receive the glory from my accomplishments here at Wheaton College.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Wheaton College - Academics

I have now been at Wheaton for two weeks. I already wrote about what went on during the first six days, orientation, but I've almost been too busy these past eight days to even think about how much has happened, let alone reflect on it and write about it. But I think now I'll give it a shot.

I have seven classes this semester. Here follows a list with some commentary:

Aural Skills I - Easily my hardest class. Sight singing and dictation are the two components. But they are two very important skills for a musicians, so I intend to give it my best.

Class Piano I - The Conservatory requires that I pass a piano proficiency exam in order to earn a degree, and I have elected to do so by completing the class piano sequence. So far, no problems. I am somewhat self-taught at piano, I just have never had formal instruction.

Intro to Music Tech - Now this is a fun class. Tuesday, for example, we had a lecture on the interior hardware of Apple computers. I am really glad that the Conservatory requires this class; technology is only going to become a more important tool for musicians in coming decades.

Music Theory I - I took AP Music Theory in high school, but even amidst the topics that are review for me, I am learning a few new ideas. Here's something my instructor said during yesterday's lecture that really stood out to me: "Music is not always an exact science; sometimes more than one answer exists. The important issue is the reasoning behind each answer, and if it lends something to the listening experience."

Physics of Music - I did not register for this course when I originally registered for classes in June. But, after consulting with my advisor early last week, I dropped a literature course that AP English Literature credit made unnecessary and replaced it with physics. I think I'll like this class. It's basically acoustics, so half the curriculum is studying how instruments produce sound and the other half how auditoriums and similar facilities are built. And I just finished two years of physics in high school, so the physicist's methodology is still fresh in my mind.

Single Reed Techniques - To teach music, one has to be proficient enough on every instrument to correct students. The first instrument I will learn (after trombone and piano) is the clarinet, and then, next quad, saxophone. Clarinet isn't all that hard, actually. I'm sure my tone is horrible and my intonation is worse, but I am getting the notes!

Wellness - This is the required introductory course for applied health sciences, both as a major and within the general education program. It's half lecture/half lab. The lecture components involve study of contemporary issues and biblical perspectives on health and wellness. The lab component involves varied physical activities. I think that I might actually get something out of this class. It's certainly unlike anything I've ever formally studied before.

In addition, I am taking private trombone lessons and performing with the symphonic band, both of which are credit-earning courses. So I have a very full academic schedule this semester, but I'm confident that I will be successful.

But of course, there is more to Wheaton College than its rigorous academic programs. More on other elements of the college life later.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Community of Worshippers

That's what Wheaton College is. A community of worshippers.

Both tonight and last night, I participated in some very intense worship services. Last night was just new students, held in Pierce Chapel. In addition to being led in worship by the gospel choir and chapel worship team, the orientation committee administered foot washing to all the new students and prayed individually for us while doing so.

And not a day later the whole student body gathered in Edman Memorial Chapel for the first all-school communion. This event is held at the end of each month. The service featured intense worship, devotional thoughts from two students, and, of course, communion.

There is no question in my mind that Wheaton College aims to foster community. Some might say that the orientation is too long (six days), but I value each day I have had between arrival and starting classes to meet and spend time with new people and participate in several worship services. A week ago, there was only one person in my freshman class I would have actually considered a friend (that being Heidi Jahns, who also grew up at Calvary and was involved in Allied Force these past few years), but after spending time worshipping with all my new friends, I really feel at home here.

Classes start tomorrow, and I'll continue to be busy, though in more routine ways. But feeling at home here will probably even make that seem exciting at times. As one student leader mentioned tonight, even classes at Wheaton are an effort to glorify God. There is no higher calling, and I am excited to be able to do so as a member of this awesome community of worshippers.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wheaton College - The First Few Days

Well, I made it. I am sitting at my desk in my dorm room in Traber Residence Hall on the campus of Wheaton College. I just finished registering on the campus network, so it's the first chance I've had to use the Internet in my room. Fortunately, though, I wasn't completely cut off from the world, as Buswell Memorial Library has public Internet access.

It's been an exciting two days and a bit. My mom drove me out here Thursday around midday with a full carload of clothes, bedding, books, my trombone, piano, and personal possessions (well, okay, I guess everything in that list could qualify as a personal possession, but I wanted a more sophisticated term for "other stuff"). I checked in and got unloaded with no trouble. My roommate, Sam Ostransky of Iowa, arrived shortly after I did, and we got busy moving in. There were notices on the doors informing residents that the building was without air conditioning or hot water. In fact, the pipe that normally allowed us to have hot water had just burst this week.

Not too much later, the hot, sunny skies turned dark and stormy. We actually had a power outtage in my residence hall, and then a tornado warning forced us to take shelter in the basement. It could have been worse, though; Fischer Hall had a fire alarm concurrent with the storm and tornado warning, so they had to evacuate.

But, the weather cleared, although the area showed signs of some damage. Dr. Duane Litfin, our president, mentioned that his Wheaton-area home had some flooding. In the evening we had an orientation kick-off. The orientation committee (a very lively group) welcomed us, and then we broke up into "Big Sib" groups. My group has two sophomore "Big Sibs" and ten freshmen, evenly split between men and women (no more boys and girls at college!). The evening ended with time to relax in Beamer Student Center.

Yesterday, Friday, I attended an orientation meeting for all the new music majors (53 freshmen and six transfers). That meeting I really enjoyed. The Conservatory faculty and student leadership introduced themselves and presented some information pertinent to my tenure as a music major.

Friday afternoon was the orientation opening program. It differed from the kick-off in that the administration were there and it was a more formal official welcome to Wheaton. Dr. Liftin spoke to my class as a whole for the first time. I have to say, Dr. Liftin is an amazing speaker. I don't think he had speech notes with him at all! And besides that, I can tell that he has a heart for leading this amazing community of believers. We also had a presentation on academic life at Wheaton, with a panel of professors representing the four undergraduate division (Bible and theology, humanities and social sciences, natural sciences, and the Conservatory).

In the evening we had a presentation from student development on student life and the Community Covenant, our school's statement of how we live together. The RA's performed some humorous skits about dorm life, which did get their points across. Friday evening, too, concluded with time in the Beamer Center.

Today, Saturday, has been just as busy. We had an orientation to computing and the campus network this morning, followed by a presentation on the multicultural experience at Wheaton. Things calmed down a bit this afternoon, as evidenced by the time I have to write this.

Words cannot adequately describe how grateful I am to be here at Wheaton, and how much I love the school. Actually, I am still trying to get used to the fact that this is my school, and that I am here to stay. Being at Wheaton is a dream come true for me. And I am having a great time.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Gift Card

I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on one of the most ingenious ideas in commerce: the gift card. That little piece of plastic is quite an amazing concept.

Physically, a gift card is about six square inches of thin plastic, with a logo and/or design on one side and a magnetic stripe and fine print on the reverse. But within that piece of plastic are many things. They may be collectively called Options.

For example, suppose you have a Starbucks gift card, something that occasionally appears in my wallet. With such a card, your options include various hot drinks, cold drinks, and pastries. Or suppose you have an iTunes gift card. Now your options are limited only by your taste in music and movies. And Starbucks and iTunes are only two of a vast number of different gift cards available.

Then there are gift certificates, available from restaurants and independent businesses. Gift certificates make the possibilities even more endless.

Well, that's my discourse on gift cards. I don't know why that was on my mind while I am busy packing for college. Only two days, now. I may be offline for a day or two when I move in, so no promises as to when I'll blog again. Until then, GO CUBS!!!!!!!

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

As Summer Was Just...Ending

I have indentified three signs of the end of summer, which are as follows.

1. It is sixty-eight degrees, overcast, and rainy in Oak Park. Folks, it looks and even feels like the middle of October. Which would be nice, because in the middle of October, I will have just celebrated my nineteenth birthday and be looking forward to a few days at home over fall break. But no, all I get from this fake mid-October is the weather. It's put me in a very lazy, unproductive mood.

2. I have finished my summer job as a pool maintenance technician for the Park District of Oak Park. Given that it is a seasonal position, I am required to voluntarily resign at the end of the season, which I did, effective today. It was a good summer at the pools. Certainly much more interesting than last summer.

3. My friends are either going or gone. New undergraduates arrived at the University of Illinois (all campuses) this past week, so that's probably a good two dozen people I actually know. My class's departure dates are fairly spread out, actually. I know a few people leaving this weekend, a lot leaving sometime next week, at least two leaving next weekend, and even one friend who isn't leaving until the weekend after that!

So, that's life at the end of this last summer before college. I shall probably blog once more before leaving for Wheaton on Thursday. Until then,

This is Rubio, over and out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Private vs. Public vs. Both

My mother has a subscription to WORLD Magazine, and I read it, too. One of my favorite "departments" is the weekly column by Joel Belz, the founder. He always has something interesting to say. This week, he offers a theoretical solution to the poor quality of government-financed and -operated "parts of the infrastructure."

Belz begins with the recent collapse of the heavily-trafficked bridge over the Mississippi River that connects Minneapolis and St. Paul. He says that, almost counterintuitively, there are private companies who would like to buy the damaged property, rebuild it, and operate it. In fact, the same is true for damaged roads across the nation. Belz gives statistics about the state of Indiana autioning off the Indiana Toll Road and getting more than twice as much as they expected from private operators. But this concept is not just limited to the transportation system. Belz writes,
The real point of all this, however, is not about bridges and roads. ... The issue is instead how folks should respon when the government demonstrates that it doesn't have a clue how to handle the important facets of our lives that have become so badly broken.

Belz mentions several of these "important facets," including one that I deeply care about - a "shattered educational system." Reading that made me think about what it would be like if public education in America became privately owned and operated. Allow me to consider the possible ramifications.

Obviously, many thousands of private schools are currently in operation in the United States. (I am going to one starting in eight days, in fact.) Private schools can be and are efficiently run, with qualified faculties, responsible financial procedures, and strong success rates. But private schools are not completely subject to the standards set by the government. Most private schools, on the whole, meet or exceed these standards anyway to attract students, but there is little parents can do to change policies of which they do not approve.

And I agree that there are some problems in public education that lead back to the government. A combination of poor financial resource management and too many legislative loopholes that allow underqualified candidates to secure teaching posts are just two of the factors. But public schools do have a good point. They are affordable. Some families are not able to afford costly, if quality, private education. If education were privatized across the board, families would be exchanging part of their property taxes for tuition bills, but tuition would undoubtably be higher. That circles back around to educational vouchers, and you haven't really solved a problem if it just takes you to another one.

So, would privatizing education work? Let me say, first, that I do not think Mr. Belz is suggesting that to an extreme. But I do not think that privatizing all educational institutions would help when all the ramifications are considered.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Billy Graham

I just watched 20/20 on ABC. Tonight's subject was the Rev. Billy Graham and his personal relationship with every president since Harry Truman. An excerpt from the transcript:
He's preached to every president since Harry Truman. It is one of the most unique series of friendships in modern politics, counseling these leaders under the tremendous stresses of war, politics and personal scandals. But evangelist Billy Graham simply refers to the last 11 presidents as his "friends."
Graham has been a personal interest of mine for a year or two now, partially because he is one of the most famous alumni of Wheaton College. He was the subject of my junior theme. On of my primary sources for that paper was Graham's autobiography, Just As I Am. It's a thick book, but he covers in detail his life and ministry around the world over the past sixty years. I highly recommend it.

What impressed me most as I researched Graham's life and ministry was the consistency across the decades. He admits to mistakes and changes he has made, but throughout his autobiography he consistently gives God the glory for the success of Graham's ministry and many personal blessings. It is probably that humility that has attracted recent presidents to him. George W. Bush, interviewed on 20/20, credits Graham with leading him to Christ.

I had the opportunity last fall to see the Billy Graham Center Museum on the campus of Wheaton College. It was just before my Conservatory audition, so I probably wasn't entirely focused on the exhibit, but I do remember that it was an excellent showcase of Graham's ministry, and at the same time pointed visitors to Christ. If you are ever in the Wheaton area, set aside an hour or so to visit the museum.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I like summer. I really do. And I am enjoying this one. I've made a good amount of money, done a good bit of traveling, seen some good movies, and in general relaxed (thank God for air conditioning; it makes relaxing a lot more comfortable).

However, I am presently fifteen days away from moving in to Wheaton College, and I am getting a bit impatient. I have this nagging feeling that I have a lot to do before I go. Like packing, for instance. I can't really start that in full until a few days before I go, because the majority of the items I will pack are things I use everyday at home, like clothes, my computer, my toothbrush, etc. I'm a tiny bit worried that I'm going to forget something small but important, like my cell phone charger.

Then again, if I do forget anything, it's less than twenty miles away. Some people would be in quite a jam if they forgot something important.

So, that's my current dilemma. It keeps me from getting bored.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

"Tied for First" and "Three More Weeks"

Good morning, world. I have two things to blog about today.

First, after last night's victory over the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers' loss to the New York Mets, the Chicago Cubs have moved into a tie for first place in the National League Central Division. If you want to get really technical, the Cubs are actually in first alone, because they have a slighty higher winning percentage. I must admit, I'm excited. This could be an exciting last third of the regular season. I firmly believe that the Cubs can get a good lead and hold it until the end of the season.

In other news, I am now down to three weeks before embarking on the next chapter of my life: college! That's right, in exactly three weeks (give or take a few hours), I will move into Traber Residence Hall on the campus of Wheaton College.

Naturally, I still have lots to do before then. I have to get myself over to Best Buy or some similar store sometime soon (alliteration not intended), I have to call the College itself and clarify a few things about the orientation schedule, and make sure that I say goodbye to all my friends properly. All that while working three shifts a week for two more weeks. It's going to be a busy August.

I did talk to my roommate the day before yesterday by phone. His name is Sam Ostransky; he's an English major from Iowa and a die-hard fan of the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bears. So this year should be fun.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Happy Lord's Day, everyone. I do hope you get a chance to get outside and enjoy the nice weather.

I just finished reading the Book of Zechariah as part of my personal devotions. I completed the fourteen chapters in seven days.

I learned from introductory notes* that the prophet Zechariah wrote the book during the sixth century before Christ. The Jews had been back in Palestine from their exile for about fifteen years, and were in the midst of rebuilding their temple. Zechariah’s contemporary, Haggai, wrote more on the subject of the rebuilding efforts; Zechariah himself wrote encouragement and prophecies about the future of Jerusalem.

A few verses/passages that stood out to me:

"Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts." - 1:3
Here is a promise: God promises to receive any who return to Him. To "return," in this context, is to repent, the conscious act of turning away from sin and turning to God.

Also, I noticed the triple use of the name "LORD of hosts." I remember hearing in a sermon that "hosts' is an archaic term for "armies." (Think "the heavenly hosts" in the Christmas story and at the Battle of Armageddon.)

"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." - 4:6b
The context here is the unfinished temple; completion of the task can only be an act of God. "Might" and "power" in this context refer to military strength that God’s people often employed to achieve God’s work. Only by God’s Spirit (i.e., the Holy Spirit) can enable God’s people (both of the Old Testament and in the Church Age) to accomplish God’s work.

Chapter 7 I like; it talks about the issue of the attitude behind service. Verse 5:
…"When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these
seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?"

Service rendered in the name of God needs to be for God’s glory. Such an attitude is more often than not difficult to hold, but it is precisely the attitude that God seeks to turn towards Himself, with the actions to follow.

The second half of the book contains prophecies about the Last Days and the subsequent Kingdom where God and His people will be together is blessed fellowship.

This is Rubio, over and out.

*For personal devotions and study, I use the Reformation Study Bible, containing the text of the English Standard Version. All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the same.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Welcome to My World

Hey everybody. As you may be able to tell, this is the first post on my new blog. I've had blogs in the past (this is the fourth), but they've all failed for various reasons, and I thought it was time for a fresh attempt. My posts will consist mostly of personal news, thoughts on current events (from local to international), and reflections on things I've read, seen, heard, or experienced.

For those of you who don't know me, I am eighteen years old, and in four weeks, I am starting my freshman year as a music education major in the Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. During the summer, I work for the Park District of Oak Park, as a pool maintenance technician. I attend Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, and recently graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School. I live in Oak Park with my parents and my younger brother, Paul.

This is Rubio, over and out.