Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: God is Faithful

On January 1 of this year, I made the following comment in my journal:
And now it’s a new year! Lots of stuff to happen this year, most of which (quite literally, about seven and a half months’ worth) I can only wildly speculate about. But in the first four and a half months are some exciting things too.
Those first four and a half months had all the exciting things I anticipated, and on the other side of the latter seven and a half, I can recollect many exciting things I did not. Like every other year of my life, I look back on the whole of it and can see clearly, through all the challenges and struggles, God’s faithfulness.

The year began with my student teaching semester, the climax of my undergraduate curriculum, and quite a shift from the previous seven semesters. Gone was the typical day in the life of a college student, replaced by the typical day in the life of a pre-professional educator. It was lonely at first, being away from all my peers all day, arriving back in the late afternoon, having missed a full day’s worth of activity and being too tired to participate in a full evening’s worth of activity.

But there were incredible blessings during this intermediate term between the college lifestyle and the professional lifestyle. Time spent with friends was more rewarding simply because it came about because of intentionality. As for my student teaching itself, I was blessed with two talented cooperating teachers, each with something different to offer me based on their different backgrounds and experiences. Under their guidance, I finally put some of my training into practice and found my calling to teach affirmed.

February saw The Blizzard, and the fun of a spontaneous break in routine. In March, Conservatory of Music ensembles – many of my friends included – performed at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, and I was privileged to assist the leadership in the planning and execution of the event, which made for quite an enjoyable evening “at the office.”

April saw the conclusion of my student teaching semester and a few weeks of few obligations except to enjoy my last days of college. It was hard to believe what I was typing as I updated my Facebook status at the end of the month: “Eric Rubio has successfully completed all requirements for the Bachelor of Music Education degree.” It all ended tearfully with Commencement Weekend in May, as my classmates and I celebrated God’s faithfulness to us during our undergraduate years. Lisa Beamer challenged us to go forth from Wheaton, embrace the lives the Lord had prepared for us, and watch in wonder as He uses us to make whole the world He loves so much.

Then began one of the hardest months of my life. Having no idea what lay ahead, I felt disoriented and lost. Seeing so much emptiness in my calendar scared me, if I am honest about it.

But God was faithful. Apparently convinced that I had spent enough time resting, in contrast to plowing through the heavily scheduled days and lengthy to-do lists of the last four years, God brought some opportunities for work and service into my life. Vacation Bible School at Calvary, the summer band program in one of my student teaching districts, and my first few engagements as a member of the Artist Series Board of Advisers got me out of the house in June and July. At the end of July my family took a vacation to Washington, D.C. – the first family vacation I had been able to join in a few years. We saw sights we had not on previous trips to the capital and also saw two of my old roommates.

When we got back, I saw that my calendar looking forward was still empty, and moodiness set in again. But God was faithful.

One Saturday in mid-August, I was again checking job search engines for openings (something I had been doing since the beginning of the year). I found a new one in my area, and within an hour had sent an application. I had essentially forgotten about that application until the following Thursday, when I woke up, checked my email, and saw a message from the principal of Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn, asking me to come in and interview for that position – that afternoon. I ditched my leisure reading plan for the day and instead spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon learning all I could about this district, that school, and the music program there. The interview, I felt, went well.

The following morning, I was painting my grandma’s deck when I received a call from the HR assistant, informing me that the principal had recommended me for employment, effective immediately, and could I come in on Monday to do some paperwork? I spent all of that Friday afternoon calling and emailing family members and friends with the news.

Monday afternoon, I signed my contract. Tuesday morning I reported for duty – I had been hired just in time for the last institute day before the start of the school year. Wednesday morning at 8:30, I stood before my first class.

Needless to say, several weeks passed rather quickly. Before I knew it we were well into the semester, and I was pleased to be able to give positive answers to queries about how things were going. Glen Ellyn being the next-door neighbor to Wheaton, my job kept me in close proximity to Wheaton College, facilitating my role on the Artist Series board. My moderately frequent stops at the College for that reason in turn kept me in touch with many of my friends in the classes below mine, and it was a real blessing to see them all doing so well – and to be able to attend many of their recitals and concerts. At the same time, I was pleased that I was able to keep up, by more technological means, with many of my friends from my class, currently spread around the country and the world.

Church involvement increased, too. The Sanctuary Choir began its season in September, and Adelphoi weeknight gatherings began, and I was privileged to be a part of both. Opportunities at church was one of the main reasons I was looking forward to moving back home to Oak Park after graduation, and my expectations have been met and then some.

October turned into November, and activity increased at work, church, and elsewhere as the calendar headed toward the year’s end. My district’s last day of school was Wednesday, December 21, and when I arrived home late that afternoon, I could not believe how much had happened – how many blessings I had received – since the beginning of the previous winter break.

So there you have it. In about 1200 words, a summary of my year. I do not know how to further analyze it than to say that God is faithful. “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) I pray God’s faithfulness will be evident to us all in the year to come.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Christmas Music Advent Calendar

Perhaps you are familiar with the Advent Calendars that contain compartments for each day of December before Christmas Day, each holding a small piece of candy or a small toy. I decided to take that idea and write a different kind of Advent Calendar – one with a Christmas anthem, carol, hymn, or song, each with a biblical theme, for those days of December. Some are masterworks of the classical tradition, some are hymns, some are contemporary creations. Most are Nativity-themed, but a handful are specifically Advent-themed (these will come first on the calendar). I will update this post once every day (no exact promises on when during each day, but ideally sometime in the morning) with a new link to a YouTube video featuring that day’s chosen song.

You will notice that each item is an arrangement or setting of a text, or simply an original text-based anthem or song. I picked each item in this calendar primarily for those texts – words that I found timeless and true – and secondarily for the artistic skill of the arrangers and performers featured in each video. Where the performances are in languages other than English, I will provide translations. Special thanks goes to Jenni Boisse for her suggestions for this calendar.

Please share these links with your family and friends – and may you and them be blessed by the joy of our Lord’s first coming and the hope of His second.

December 24 (Christmas Eve): “God is With Us” John Tavener composed this anthem in 1999. This Christmas Music Advent Calendar finishes with this performance by the Choir of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor:  

December 23: “O Come, All Ye Faithful” The text is a Latin hymn, attributed to John F. Wade, 1751, translated by Frederick Oakley et al., 1841. The music was composed by John F. Wade in 1751. Casting Crowns performs: 

December 22: “Birthday of a King” William H. Neidlinger wrote this anthem in 1890. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir performs: 

December 21: “Angels from the Realms of Glory” James Montgomery penned the words in 1816 and Henry T. Smart composed the music in 1867. The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, performs: 

December 20: “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” The text, by Marcus Aurelius Prudentius, is from the fourth century; John Neale translated it in 1854. The music is a thirteenth century plainsong. The Sons of Orpheus perform: 

December 19: “For Unto Us a Child is Born” George Frideric Handel wrote Messiah in 1741. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus perform this chorus: 

December 18 (Fourth Sunday of Advent): “The Lamb” John Tavener wrote this anthem in 1971. The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, performs: 

December 17: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” The text is a sixteenth century German carol, set by John Rutter in 1997. The Cambridge Singers perform: 

December 16: “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”  Charles Wesley penned the words in 1739, Felix Mendelssohn composed the music in 1840, and William H. Cummings adapted it into the version we know today in 1856. Charlotte Church performs: 

December 15: “God So Loved the World” John Stainer wrote this anthem in 1887. The Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, performs: 

December 14: “The Dream Isaiah Saw” This anthem is based on a poem by Thomas Troeger; it was set to music by Glenn Rudolph in 2004. The choirs of Alma College, Michigan, perform: 

December 13: “Love Came Down at Christmas” Christina Rossetti wrote a poem with these words in 1885; Reginald O. Morris set them to music in 1964. The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge performs: 

December 12: “O Magnum Mysterium” Morten Lauridsen composed this piece in 1994. The Nordic Chamber Choir performs: 

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

December 11 (Third Sunday of Advent): “The First Noel” The text is a traditional English carol, and the music is also traditional; John Stainer arranged it in 1871. The Celtic Women perform: 

December 10: “Once in Royal David’s City” Cecil F. Alexander wrote the words in 1848 and Henry J. Gauntlett the music in1849. The Westminster Cathedral Choir performs: 

December 9: “What Child Is This?” William C. Dix wrote the words around 1865. The music is a traditional English melody from the sixteenth century; John Stainer completed a harmonization in 1871. Andrea Boccelli performs: 

December 8: “Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah” Michael W. Smith and David Hamilton wrote this song in 2007. From the album It’s A Wonderful Christmas: 

December 7: “O Holy Night” John Sullivan Dwight penned the words in 1855 and Adolphe Adams wrote the music in 1847. Celine Dion performs (it took me quite a long time to find a performance of this hymn I liked): 

December 6: “See Amid the Winter Snow” Edward Caswell wrote the words in 1851 and John Goss wrote the music in 1871. The Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, performs: 

December 5: “In the Bleak Midwinter” Christina Georgina Rossetti wrote the words around 1870; the hymntune is “Cranham” by Gustav Holst (1906). The Robert Shaw Chamber Singers perform: 

December 4 (Second Sunday of Advent): “Magnificat” Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his setting of The Magnificat in 1722-23; here is the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra performing the first number: 

Magnificat anima mea Dominum
My soul doth magnify the Lord

December 3: “Breath of Heaven” Chris Eaton and Amy Grant wrote this song in 1992. Amy Grant performs:

December 2: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Charles Wesley wrote the words in 1744, Rowland H. Pritchard wrote the tunearound 1830, and Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged what we know today in 1906. Chris Tomlin performs:

December 1: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” The text is a twelfth century Latin hymn, translated by John Neale in 1851. The tune is based on plainsong, used by Thomas Helmore to set the text in 1854. The Robert Shaw Chamber Singers are the performers:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for the Liberal Arts

Just one of the many things I am giving thanks for this Thanksgiving is not just having completed by undergraduate degree in the past year, but for the Wheaton education that degree represents. Six months out, I am extremely grateful to have studied at Wheaton College (and to my parents for paying for it!), for many reasons I have detailed in other articles (see my article “Why I Still Choose Wheaton,” for example). An article appeared in The Foundry, the blog of The Heritage Foundation, today about the value of liberal arts education - the kind of education provided at Wheaton. Reading through Ryan Messmore’s explanation of the merits of a liberal education, I could not help but think of Wheaton's philosophy of the same, and made me incredibly proud and honored to hold a degree from such an institution. The liberal arts model is one I try to incorporate now into my teaching, as I attempt to teach in such a way that will help my students develop not just their skills on their instruments but also their broad artistic and analytical skills and their appreciation of great accomplishments of human culture.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Realities Behind a "Good Idea"

On Tuesday, President Obama announced a plan to relieve some of the burden of student loans. Not surprisingly, the announcement was welcome news to millions of Americans in their early to mid-twenties who are finishing or have finished college and are trying to establish themselves as independent adults (i.e., find a job so they can pay for their loans and then get on with life) in these hard times. However, when one stops to consider the big picture (and do some math), this new initiative is not as great of an idea as it seems at first glance.

This new initiative has two components: one allowing consolidation of different types of loans to reduce the interest rates, and one reducing the maximum percentage of income that will be billed monthly and the number of years before remaining debt is forgiven. On Thursday, the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce has released this statement on the impact of the initiative, based on some hard data. In the middle of their statement, they claim that the average student loan holder who takes advantage of the consolidation of loans component of the plan would see monthly payments decrease by merely a few dollars, or about $75 a year. And the statement notes that only sixteen percent of loan holders can take advantage of this component of the plan anyway. Regarding the second component, the statement notes that only four percent of student loan holders would be eligible for its benefits. Yesterday, the Committee released this statement on the second component of the plan for the general tax-paying public. While the White House’s press release (see my first link) clearly states that this initiative will “carry no additional cost to taxpayers,” the Committee’s analysis demonstrates otherwise.

In sum, this initiative in reality offers only minimal relief to student loan holders (and only a minimal amount of them) while at the same time burdening American taxpayers in general. This latter, negative effect leads to a “big picture” question: how much education do we have a right to in America, and thus how much of taxpayers’ money should the government invest there? Publicly-funded elementary and secondary education, I think most would agree, are a worthwhile use of tax dollars. But is higher education, which operates in a vastly different manner and, in general, with different objectives, also something the government should use its resources to make accessible?

I see nothing wrong with the government providing some money for students from low economic backgrounds to attend college, where they can study a discipline of their choosing and make connections with people from different parts of the country and world. But should a high school student be able to assume that he or she can just get a degree courtesy of Uncle Sam?

I think not. Pursuing a college degree, I firmly believe, is an extraordinarily worthwhile use of time and money – but it should be the time and money of the degree holder and his or her family. The American public should not be shouldering the burden of college costs for the minority of American who have them (I tried to find what percentage of Americans hold a bachelor’s degree, and I found numbers ranging from seventeen to twenty-nine percent, but suffice it to say it is far less than a third, if not less than a quarter of Americans). This article from The Heritage Foundation looks at these big picture issues further. While I admire President Obama’s desire to help my fellow twenty-something Americans get established as adults, continually reducing the amount of debt student loan holders must repay does the opposite – knowing that relief is available (and not understanding the limitations as outlined above), students will take on more debt (and more students will do so), which will further burden American taxpayers, which they become once they graduate and enter the workforce.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Secret Jesus and the Plans of God

For about a month and a half, ending in mid-September, I was studying the Gospel of Mark in my personal devotions. I read through the book three times, one chapter per day. It was not the first time I had read through Mark, but on this occasion I noticed a recurring theme.

In 2:40-45, Mark records Jesus healing a leper. After the healing, Jesus commands the leper to keep the miracle to himself and go to the priest and make an offering as indicated by Mosaic law (44). This man, however, ignored Jesus’ instructions and began to talk freely about it” (45). As a result, Jesus “could no longer openly enter a town” (45).

Mark records a handful of other occasions in which Jesus gives similar instructions or commands to keep his identity or actions secret. In 3:12, Jesus orders demons to not make him known.” In 5:43, after raising Jairus’ daughter, Jesus charged them that no one should know [about] this.” And, most startlingly, in 8:30, after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, Jesus strictly charged them to tell no one about him.”

Such instructions are hardly what the modern-day believer hears at church. Keep Jesus’ power and identity secret? Hide him from a lost and suffering world?

To answer that question, one must merely look at the historical context. Jesus had not yet given the Great Commission. And further, look also at the context of redemptive history. Jesus had not yet fulfilled the task of being betrayed and executed as an innocent man. Had Jesus been subject to a wave of popularity, while many more might have heeded his teachings, the necessity of his death would have been jeopardized. Here, then, we see that God is carefully orchestrating events such that the plan of salvation comes to pass fully. 

A broader question comes to mind: how often do we think that our ideas, agendas, and plans are superior to God’s? Almost daily, I would imagine. The leper certainly thought that the idea of telling everyone what had happened was a good one, but look how it affected Jesus’ ministry. How often do we feel the Lord’s leading in some situation, only to go with our own flawed, human reasoning and rationale instead? Do we really believe that we know of a better way to lead our lives, minister to our neighbors, and redeem the world?

May it be our prayer that we would trust the leading of the Spirit, and let God move in our world as He wills.

This is Rubio, over and out. 

All Scripture quotations taken from the English Standard Version.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011 MLB Playoffs - My Predictions

The regular Major League Baseball season ended last night, and while my own team, the Chicago Cubs, were never close to a playoff berth, I do plan to pay some attention to the few weeks of postseason play that begins this weekend. I have some predictions for the series ahead.

My predictions are based on the season series results between each pair of teams. I use the home record component of each season series to predict how each team will perform in its own ballpark. For example, a team that has won four of six home games in its home park in the season series is predicted to win 2/3 of the home games in a given round. My predictions resulted in a World Series pairing of two teams who did not play each other in the regular season, so I used each team’s home record in interleague play to predict that result.

Some interesting facts came to light as I looked up the season series results. During the regular season, each pair of playoff opponents had an odd number of games together, and in three of the four pairings (all but Philadelphia and St. Louis), the season series were split as evenly as could be with an odd number of games (i.e., one team had a one-game advantage). Also interestingly, as you will note below, the prediction method, which I created several weeks ago, actually predicts a wild-card team (and both wild card teams this year came from behind in the last week to upset the leader) defeating the best team in its own league in the first round (see the Philadelphia-St. Louis series).

Here are my predictions (*home field advantage):

American League Division Series

New York Yankees* vs. Detroit Tigers
Yankees are 2-1 at Yankee Stadium; Tigers are 3-1 at Comerica Park
Prediction: Detroit in 5 games

Texas Rangers* vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Rangers are 2-1 at Rangers Ballpark; Rays are 3-3 at Tropicana Field
Prediction: Texas in 4 games

National League Division Series

Philadelphia Phillies* vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Phillies are 1-3 at Citizens Bank Park; Cardinals are 3-2 at Busch Stadium
Prediction: St. Louis in 5 games

Milwaukee Brewers* vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Brewers are 1-2 at Miller Park; Diamondbacks are 2-2 at Chase Field
Prediction: Arizona in 5 games

American League Championship Series

Texas Rangers* vs. Detroit Tigers
Rangers are 1-2 at Rangers Ballpark; Tigers are 4-2 at Comerica Park
Prediction: Detroit in 6 games

National League Championship Series

Arizona Diamondbacks* vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Diamondbacks are 1-2 at Chase Field; Cardinals are 2-2 at Busch Stadium
Prediction: Arizona in 6 games

World Series

Arizona Diamondbacks* vs. Detroit Tigers
Diamondbacks are 5-4 in interleague play at Chase Field; Tigers are 6-7 in interleague play at Comerica Park
Prediction: Arizona in 7 games

We’ll see where it all goes.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Next Season

Two and a half months since that glorious May afternoon when we all ceremonially processed from Edman Memorial Chapel, most of my peers from the Wheaton College Class of 2011 are well on to the next season of their lives. And I am proud to say that my class is well represented among career fields and new homes. Many have begun their graduate or professional studies, and a fair number are now on the mission field – and taking into account their varied locations, the sun currently never sets on the Class of 2011. As for me, the pieces of the next season of my life have slowly come together over the summer, and with the traditional end of summer coming up next weekend, I finally have a clear picture and can give a full report of what is in store for me going forward.

The big news for me recently is that I have officially begun my career as a music educator. Just last week, I was offered an assistant band position at Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. It was a bit of a whirlwind how everything happened. I signed the contract on Monday, and classes began on Wednesday. I have immensely enjoyed my first week. The faculty, staff, and administration at Hadley, and in the entire district, have made me feel very welcome, and I look forward to serving the students and their families. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing where this starting point of my career will lead me.

I must note here, for the record, that I write on this website as a private citizen, and not as a spokesperson for my district, or any other organization for that matter. To protect the privacy of my students and their families, I will not be naming any of them here, and will not give details about my interactions with them either. If you are a student or the parent of a student in my district and wish to contact me, please do so through official school channels.

I am also busy aside from my professional responsibilities, primarily at church. One of the reasons I was most looking forward to moving back to Oak Park after graduating was returning, for the foreseeable future, to my home congregation, Calvary Memorial Church. I had been very involved there during my high school years, and had been looking forward to resuming my active participation. There have been a quite a few staffing changes in the last few years, as the pastoral staff of my childhood has been largely called to minister in other places. In the few months since moving back home I have made a point to get to know these new ministers who I had previously only seen in passing when home on breaks. I am grateful to God for the godly, talented, visionary pastors he has given to Calvary. Great things are ahead for this church.

Including the upcoming launch of our restructured young adult ministry! Since midsummer, the leadership team for Adelphoi (the name of the young adult ministry) has been preparing for the fall. We have read excerpts from several, varied books on the topics of leadership and discipleship, and prayed intensely for what is ahead. Starting this fall, while we will continue to meet for a Sunday morning “Sunday school” class, our primary meeting time will be Tuesday nights. We will alternate between worship gatherings on first and third Tuesdays and home-based dinners on second and fourth Thursdays. The first large worship gathering is set for Tuesday, September 20, and the dinner gatherings begin the following week. If you are a young adult in the area and are otherwise free at 7 PM on September 20, feel free to join us at the church! All of us on the leadership team are excited about the new programming structure and how it might reach the young adult population in our area.

Hadley and Adelphoi, together, will definitely keep me occupied this fall, and beyond, but especially these next few months, given how much is new about both (the former only in relation to me, of course). I am extraordinarily grateful for the Lord’s provision of these two opportunities.

Every night, before I go to bed, I read a psalm. I choose a psalm based on the current time: I take the current minutes past the hour and reverse the digits. Last Friday, the day I received the job offer, I picked up my Bible, noted that it was four minutes past the hour, and turned to Psalm 40. The very first verse stood out to me. In the English Standard Version, it reads, “I waited patiently for the LORD/he inclined to me and heard my cry.” I think I will let that text speak for its own appropriateness.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sermon Notes

A few days ago, I discovered a note on my iPod. It was sermon notes for a fifteen-month period from February 2010 to April 2011.

A bit about my sermon note-taking habits. Generally, I prefer to just listen, knowing that (a) if I am writing too much, I will undoubtedly miss the next point (or the punch line in an anecdote) and (b) most churches these days have all the sermons available as audio files for streaming or download on their websites should I wish to hear them again. However, once in a while, if the preacher makes it clear early on that he will have a set number of main points or is using an mnemonic to reinforce them, I will take out my iPod and make a note of those points. I also occasionally make note of an interesting and/or witty insight.

So below I have pasted the text of that note I found on my iPod. These are notes from sermons I heard at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park (those dated during summer months or around when I would have had winter break) and College Church in Wheaton (most others). There is also a Wheaton College chapel message or two noted in there as well.

I thought about editing these notes or including some commentary, but then I realized that what I found worthwhile about rediscovering my notes was seeing what had stood out to me as I was hearing the sermon live. Each set of notes generally begins with the date in mm/yy form and the text of Scripture on which that sermon was based.


1 Corinthians 4 (2/21)

When criticized...
Internalize the gospel (vv. 1-7)
Embody the gospel (vv. 8-13)
Enforce the gospel (vv. 14-21)

Spring Missions Festival (2/28)

"Trust God and do the next thing." - O. Chambers

1 Corinthians 9 (4/25)

text w/o context is pretext for prooftext - precursor to disaster

1 Peter (6/27)

if hardship results in anxiety and decreased joy, then you are under spiritual attack


good = something pleasing to God (attitude is a factor as well as content)


Spirit-led Christianity is God's Word about the Cross of Jesus

Nick Wolterstoff

8/25 President's Address
communal life - love
life of holiness - godliness
life of grace - gratitude
life of purpose/intentionality - faith
life found in Christ

8/29 - 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

encourages unity
proclaims the Trinity
emphasizes/enables servanthood over selfishness
tells purpose of gifts rather than defining them
shows the simple miracle of the Christian life

10/2 Matthew 6:19-21

investing in heaven is a way to release the heart

11/14 Genesis 1

in all things God is upholding His glory
God wants to share His glory via grace
we humans reflect His glory (Imago Dei)
our response to God's glory is to worship

correspondence btwn Day 1-3 (kingdoms) and 4-6 (inhabitants)
Day 7 was resting specifically from CREATING

11/28 Simple Christmas - John 1:1-5

darkness pervades our fallen world
unconquerable light has come

12/12 Genesis 3
Is God's Word sufficient?
Is God the King?
Is there ever any need to test God?

12/19 John 1:14-18

Travel a key part of Christmas?
Profound truth at the heart of Christmas: God has traveled a great distance so we could see, touch and be touched by his glory
The distance was both physical and relational - we were experiencing complete alienation from God
What "travel expenses" were incurred?
We have lost the sense of the transcendence of God and thus the costliness of the Incarnation
The most costly part of the "trip," however, was the Cross

12/26 John 17:1-5

Knowing God is not just knowing about God, not just obeying God, not just understanding and investing in God's purpose, not just high Scriptural literacy, not just knowing the facts of the gospel - in fact, none of these are strictly necessary for salvation

Knowing God is being in a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ
Knowing God is both gift and grace - it cannot happen under our own power
Knowing God is life eternal

Seek and ye shall find

1/23 Acts 17
The Gospel and Culture

How do we relate to a changing culture?
How do we influence the culture? Politics? Hollywood? ... the gospel?

Culture is a secondary construction imposed on the natural. -Niebuhr

Jesus did not found a state (nor did his apostles)
Should there be such things as Christian nations?
Does sanctification not work in cultural contexts?

The Christian way is to seek redeeming grace to transform our culture

1/30 Psalm 120

Psalms of Ascent = pilgrim psalms (JM)
devotional tools
prayer should be the first response to distress

the psalms are objective doctrine combined with subjective experience

2/13 Psalm 122

no individualism - community is essential for Christian discipleship
hell is the inability to love
the church is God's new society where true transformation is possible
Ps 122 rejects the individualized notion of gathering as the people of God
love people in general or people in particular
the psalmist has no cynicism toward the authorities or, by extension, the cynicism of God's Word
it takes considerable effort to find joy in the gathering of God's people

if you want to make God happy, love His people, for they are at the center of his heart

3/20 Psalm 126

"Some people are morning people. Other people are normal people."

You (restoration)

3/27 Galatians 3:6-9

God's blessing to Abraham is His solution to the world's problems

4/3 Acts 17:11

Listen Inspire Feed Evangelize


This is Rubio, over and out

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer Reading 2011 (Part 3)

It has been some time since my last post of book recommendations. The main reason is that the last month has been rather busy, especially compared to the month and a half before it. I taught summer school band for three weeks at the beginning of July, and last week, including the weekend before it, my family and I were on vacation in Washington, D.C. (It was a great trip – check out my Facebook photo album.)

But in between teaching and traveling, I found some time to relax with a book. Here are the three I tackled over the past few weeks.

Dominic A. Pacyga: Chicago: A Biography (2009)

This book is another part the reason for rather a long gap between postings about my summer reading. I had never really read any history of my hometown beyond what is in the occasional travel guide I sometimes browse, so I picked up Pacyga’s book with interest. Chicago: A Biography is a thick volume, and the content is substantial – more of an academic work in a trade package. It is also not strictly linear: Pacyga will often jump some years to discuss some related fact to the current topic. But in all, it was a worthwhile glimpse into some of the human stories of this great city. It was great fun to recognize place names, from neighborhoods to streets – and read about the origins of their names.

Speaking of origins of names, here is a fun fact: the name “Chicago” comes from the Native American word for “wild onion.” Before a city sat on the southwest tip of Lake Michigan, the area was a marsh saturated with wild onion growth. The smell was apparently both pungent and pervasive in the area, and word became the name for the area from the first settlers.

Randy Singer: False Witness (2007)

My chosen work of fiction for this month was, as far as I can recall, the first novel I have read in the “thriller” genre. False Witness was briefly reviewed in WORLD magazine this summer, so I found it at the library and read through it on the way to Washington. It was, if you will pardon the cliché, a real page-turner. The intricate plot involves a couple in the witness protection program, some law students, the Chinese mob, and various government officials, all brought together because of a powerful breakthrough in computer security technology. I know relatively little about any of those groups or concepts (the legal profession, computer security), but I was able to follow the drama with no trouble whatsoever. Singer is a Christian, and he masterfully creates protagonists who are Christians but still struggle with difficult decisions and circumstances (in contrast to protagonists in some Christian fiction who seem immune to the effects of sin). Overall, a good story, and well narrated by Singer.

John Stott: The Radical Disciple (2010)

As you may know, Rev. John Stott, the influential British pastor and author, passed way last week. I decided to read a Stott book because I had heard of his passing, but I picked this one in particular because it relates profoundly to the current sermon series at my church. (As an interesting side note, my more regular readers may recall that I visited the London church he pastored for many years, All Souls Langham Place, during my trip to England last summer.)

The Radical Disciple is, quite explicitly, Stott’s farewell address. He addresses at a very basic level, eight “neglected aspects of our calling” as followers of Christ. He uses the word radical in its oldest sense, meaning of or relating to the root of something or someone. The book is filled with anecdotes from Stott’s life of traveling, ministering, and collaborating with others, as well as Stott’s straightforward commentary on relevant passages of Scripture – combining to offer unique insights on these aspects of discipleship.


What is on your reading list these days? Please share any recommendations.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Reading 2011 (Part 2)

Though my life is a bit busier in the midst of summer than it was right after I moved home, I am still finding time for a few books of my choosing. Here are some thoughts on the latest picks.

C.S. Lewis: Perelandra (1943)

I came across a C.S. Lewis anthology at my local library earlier this month, and have been browsing through it for a few weeks. It contains the complete text of Perelandra, and since it has been some time since I have read any of the space trilogy (at least five years, probably more), I decided to reread it.
Perelandra is the second volume, both in terms of publication and internal chronology, in Lewis’ space trilogy. Dr. Elwin Ransom, the protagonist of both this novel and its predecessor, Out of the Silent Planet, travels to Perelandra (the planet Venus). He finds an unfallen world and meets that world’s equivalent of Eve. Ransom is instrumental in preventing the Perelandran equivalent of the Fall. Through the narrative, Lewis offers some of his characteristically unique insights into major topics such as evil and its source, the nature of God and His relationship to creation, and the role humans play in redemptive history. It is a very deep work, though – I shall need more than one re-reading to fully grasp all of its ideas.

Tim Pawlenty: Courage to Stand (2010)

Tim Pawlenty was Governor of Minnesota from 2003-2011 and, as of last month, is seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States in the upcoming election. I had heard some good things about him from Minnesota friends at Wheaton, and decided to learn about him myself.
Courage to Stand is, for all practical purposes, an autobiography written in the author’s midlife. Pawlenty outlines his family’s history before chronicling with some detail his childhood, focusing primarily on the close relationships he enjoyed with his parents and the plethora of lessons he learned from them. The middle third of the book covers his college and law school years, his marriage and children, and the beginnings of his career in public service as a stage legislator. The final third is devoted to his governorship and the many challenges and successes of his two terms.
Pawlenty is a politician, and thus skilled in the art of self-presentation, but I could not detect any overt self-marketing in this book. He seemed to simply be relating the story of his life and work, and giving the credit for it to Jesus. He seems a pragmatic yet committed and quietly visionary leader. And he seems to have a solid biblical understanding of the relationship between God, the state, and the individual. The national stage has unfortunately been a bit rough on him over the last month, but after reading this book I can tell that he is a genuine, godly man. I highly recommend Courage to Stand for anyone interested in learning more about Tim Pawlenty.


What is on your reading list these days? Please share any recommendations.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Bad Diet

A few days ago, a Christian organization (that shall remain unnamed) proposed something called a “thirty-day worship diet.” People who took the challenge were to listen to only “worship music” for thirty days and “see how God speaks to you.” I have serious objections to both this idea and its implications.

First is the idea that God speaks through worship music (which I will broadly define as music based in contemporary popular styles with explicitly Christian lyrics) more directly and profoundly than through other genres. Such a claim, to be blunt, is theologically unfounded.

There are two types of revelation, general and special. General revelation is what David refers to in Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and what Paul refers to in Romans 1: “For [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” General revelation is, in short, the evidence of God’s presence and God’s work in the natural world. The list of what encompasses general revelation is virtually endless. Not so with special revelation. Special revelation refers to (and only to) the logos – the Word of God, Jesus Christ. No human-crafted art, even if it employs the mechanism of human language to explicitly refer to Christ, can speak to the human heart like Christ Himself can and does in His Word.

Thus, it is theologically inaccurate – biblically mistaken, in fact – to elevate worship music to the level of special revelation. It is a mistake to elevate any form of music to the level of special revelation, from Wesley’s hymns to Handel’s choruses to David Crowder’s praise tunes, no matter how much in alludes to or even quotes the Bible. Only the Scriptures themselves carry the power of special revelation – any music the text may be set to adds nothing of spiritual consequence, biblically speaking.

I do not mean, of course, that music has no value (having just spent four years in a Conservatory, I feel very qualified to assert that music does indeed have value) to the church. For the beginnings of a discussion on the value of music in the church, I recommend Harold Best’s Unceasing Worship, Phil Ryken’s Art for God’s Sake, and Steve Turner’s Imagine. It is not sacramental, however, or inspired, as the Scriptures are.

My second concern is that the challenge to listen only to worship music for thirty days, while it may seem like spiritual advice, is unfounded in Scripture. There are such Scriptural commands like Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” But this organization provided no support for their implied claim that other forms of music are untrue, dishonorable, and so forth. I, of course, do not believe such support exists because the claim is false. After all, it is not what goes into someone that makes him or her unclean, but what comes out (Matthew 15). It is how we react to our surroundings that determines whether they are honorable, commendable, and the rest.

Our entertainment choices, in my opinion, should be based primarily on whether or not they honor God by what they put into our minds. Put a different way, one should ask whether the entertainment draws one toward or away from Christ. A second criterion should be artistic and intellectual merit. I can think of many praise and worship songs that so honor God and are of immense artistic and intellectual merit, and I can also think of some works in this genre that do not meet those standards. Concerning other genres of music and types of entertainment, I can think of many works that draw one toward Christ and have artistic and intellectual value, and many that do not. (See my profile for some of my entertainment choices.)

I have written before about my belief that God values leisure, and by extension the use of entertainment. But as in all things, the process of discipleship involves careful consideration of our interaction with the world, and this includes our entertainment choices.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memoriam

I am posting this video in memory and appreciation of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, past and present, alive and fallen, particularly my grandfather, Martin Joseph Rupe, Radio Man Third Class, United States Navy.

Also, here are some brief thoughts on Memorial Day from the Heritage Foundation.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer Reading 2011

Ah, summer. Leisure time not seen since Christmas, and generally in larger quantities than at year’s end. As always, I like to spend some of my summer leisure time reading. Since I have already made my way through three books, I thought I would share some highlights.

Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)

I saw this play performed by Wheaton College Jukebox Theater, a student-run production company, two years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. I had mostly forgotten about it until I got home from college a few weeks ago. I went to the local library to (I shamefully admit) find a movie, and Earnest was on one of the displays of recommended fiction. Along with a movie, I checked out this play and finished it in two sittings, and now consider the time well spent.

Earnest is the lighthearted tale of two men each trying to impress a different woman, each by pretending to be someone named Ernest. The result is an amusing series of exchanges as the principles, in varying combinations, try to sort out who is who.

Being set in England, it brought me back at points to my trip to the United Kingdom last summer. I recognized some of the place names, as I had when I read Oliver Twist last summer after the trip. And who does not enjoy reading the unique British style of dialogue, with unexpected phrases, witticisms, and terms (even more prevalent because it is a play, a dialogue-based genre)? While I am far removed from the Victorian society of the play’s setting, I enjoyed the plot nonetheless, even though it was a little silly. Following from there, I thought the subtitle, “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People,” quite accurate.

Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley: Blogging for Dummies (2010)

Have you by chance noticed any changes to my blog? I have not made any extreme changes, but I have added or reorganized a few things after skimming this book. It gets into a lot of options that are above and beyond what a casual blogger like myself needs, but it was an interesting read (I would recommend a quick browse for my blogger friends) and, as I said, has led to a few changes on The Rubio Room.

Harold Best: Unceasing Worship (2003)

Harold Best is a former dean of the Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College. He actually spoke in chapel this semester, and he titled his message “Unceasing Worship.” I read some excerpts from this book as part of my senior capstone last fall, and after both those readings and the later chapel message, I put this book on my summer reading list. It is a unique juxtaposition between academic and devotional writing, making it both thorough (indeed, there were times I found myself wishing Best would get to the point already) and relevant.

The book is in two parts. Part One tackles the issue of defining worship. Best begins with the observation that humans are “continuously outpouring” themselves toward something – be it Jesus Christ or some counterfeit god. God, Best notes, is also continuously outpouring, and because humans are the Imago dei, we do likewise. Lordship, according to Best, is the infinite manifestation of continuous outpouring, while worship is the finite manifestation. To me, at least, it was a completely new way of thinking about the concept. Best also looks at the connections between worship and witness, prayer, and preaching.

Part Two is a multi-faceted discussion of the role of the arts in relation to worship, as defined in Part One. Best addresses such issues as the nature of art, including its limitations, its role in corporate worship and in the world at large, and the related topics of idolatry, culture and cultural value, and quality and excellence. On each issue, Best provides a new and well thought out perspective – each discussion definitely merits a reread.


And there you have a snapshot of what I have been reading in the first two weeks of my summer. I plan to read quite a bit more, of course, and intend to post about my reading again.

What is on your reading list these days? Please share any recommendations.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

End Credits

Tomorrow afternoon I will walk across the stage in Edman Memorial Chapel, shake Dr. Ryken’s hand, and have ceremonially graduated from Wheaton College. This occasion is, by all accounts, a milestone. I am extraordinarily grateful to have attended this school. As I wrote in a previous post, I grew a lot here.

At the moment, I want to recognize some people who have been instrumental in my time at Wheaton. These men and women have counseled me, encouraged me, challenged me, given me what I needed to flourish, and pointed me toward Christ in their own unique ways.

The Conservatory faculty, particularly, Kathy Kastner, Tony Payne, Dan Sommerville, Jerry Sundberg, Michel Wilder, and Tim Yontz, for going above and beyond their job descriptions to encourage and mentor me individually.

The Conservatory staff – Alice, Dave, Debbie, Janice, Michelle, Phil, Sharon, and Susan – for all that they do in general and for encouraging me in my role of service to the department.

Paul Chelsen, Vice President for Student Development, for his wisdom, counsel, prayer, and encouragement over the last two years.

The seven men with whom I have been privileged to live: Jeff Hobday, Nathaniel Olson, Sam Ostransky, Paul Nelson, Wes Reynolds, Jon Steely, and David Wynne, for providing a safe, encouraging, fun “home” environment.

Various members of the Conservatory class of 2013, who were freshmen when I was a junior, for letting me fill the big brother role for them – one of the most humbling, rewarding, and joyful experiences of my life.

Three members of the Class of 2010, Ben Alle, Izzy Hance, and Garrett Myers, for being my surrogate big brothers and sister and showing me, while I was a junior, what it means to be a senior at Wheaton.

And a few other peers who fit into no formal category but who, along with many of the people mentioned above, have seen me in my brokenness and loved me anyway: Naomi Attaway, Peter Held, Heidi Jahns, and Marit Swanson.

There are two other people who deserve the highest credit for my even having the last four years – my parents. My parents not only provided the funds for me to attend Wheaton, but they attended just about all of my concerts, allowed me to have a friend over once in a while, gave me a welcome home for breaks, and were there with encouragement, prayer, and support the whole way. They were not physically present with me at Wheaton, but their influence was extraordinary nonetheless.

Wheaton College: it has been an honor.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dignity and Worth

Yesterday, a group of Wheaton alumni (they call themselves OneWheaton) distributed a letter on campus. As I understand it, it was a response to part of a recent chapel series, “Sexuality and Wholeness” (itself part of a larger series of lectures, “Sexual and Sanctified”), addressing homosexuality. If you have not already, I suggest you read the letter and some background on the group for context.

President Ryken issued a statement late yesterday afternoon responding positively to OneWheaton’s goal of affirming the worth and dignity of and ending any sort of negative disposition toward people who have suffered or are suffering at Wheaton because of their sexual identity, and at the same time affirming our Community Covenant’s relevant sections. I thought his comments were gracious and Christ honoring as well as fully reflecting the mission of the College.

As I pondered and reflected on OneWheaton’s letter and press release, I noticed a particular theme in the contents of the documents that I believe may be at the core of OneWheaton’s views. It concerns the source of the worth and dignity of all human beings that OneWheaton seeks to affirm. This article, by the way, is not a full response to OneWheaton, it is merely some thoughts I had after exploring their materials.

OneWheaton’s letter states, “As people of integrity we [OneWheaton] must affirm the full humanity and dignity of every human being regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” I agree that it is indeed a show of integrity to make such an affirmation. But why should we make this affirmation? Why would it be a strike against our integrity to do otherwise? After reading through OneWheaton’s materials several times, I found no answer to this question.

I personally believe that God is the source of the full humanity and dignity of every human being. Genesis affirms that God created male and female in His image, and called this grand finale of creation “very good.” To demean any person, any of the unique image-bearers of God, would be to put oneself in opposition to the Lord of creation.

Paul affirms in his letter to the Colossians that Christ is the Lord of creation. Given that each one of us is a part of creation, we are thus all subject to Christ as Lord (whether we acknowledge Him or not). Paul states that “all things were created…for him” (v. 16). “All things” includes the minds and bodies of men and women, which means that every thought, every action, every behavior is subject to Christ.

And every one of us, without exception, has thought, acted, and behaved in ways that are dishonoring to Christ. I am not here concerned with any particular thought, action, or behavior, but rather the general idea that it is a violation of our integrity to act in a way that dishonors Him whose image we bear.

OneWheaton’s letter directly addresses students who feel isolated and oppressed because of their sexual identity: “Your desire for companionship, intimacy and love is not shameful.” I agree with the spirit of this statement. To tell someone that he or she is in error for having same-sex attraction is akin to telling someone that he or she is in error for being disorganized. Certainly, such tendencies may cause harm to oneself or others, but having the tendencies themselves is not itself a sin. We live in a fallen, broken world, and this is reflected in many ways.

The key is to surrender everything – our minds, our bodies, our thoughts, our actions, our behaviors, our tendencies – to Christ, our Lord. Only He can take them and transform them so that they honor and glorify Him. We are utterly powerless to do so. We must acknowledge our brokenness, surrender to Christ, and let Him do with us what He will.

To return to an earlier point: each one of us is guilty of demeaning our fellow men and women, for asserting our alleged superiority, whether noticeably or not. And we have all suffered from it, and thus we all know the terrible effects it has on our own perception of our worth.

But praise God, our dignity and worth does not come from the opinions of those who seek to tear us down! As I explained above, our dignity and worth come from Christ, and it is Him alone in whom we should put our identity. Not in our jobs, our education, our status, our possessions, our friends, our significant others, our sexuality, our heath, our wealth, our intellect – indeed, in nothing of this world. I have forgotten this so many times and found myself depressed because of having poor standing in one of these areas. But I – and you, and every other man and woman – can have high standing before the throne of God because of the blood that was shed on our behalf at the Cross. All we need to obtain this standing, that overrules our standing before any standard of this world, is to surrender all that we are to Christ.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why I Still Choose Wheaton

My relationship with Wheaton College began in the fall of 2005, during my junior year of high school, when I submitted my first inquiry to undergraduate admissions. Though I was not sure at the time that I was qualified, God in His wisdom saw fit to have me admitted, and on August 23, 2007, my mom, brother, and I pulled up in front of Smith-Traber Hall – it was the first day of my freshman orientation.

And now I am in the final month my undergraduate years. Some people get to this point and never look back. Yet I have every intention of maintaining ties with the institution, even though I will no longer be in residence. Wheaton College is a place that I will be proud to call my alma mater, and I will seek to give back to and invest in the College for as long as the Lord enables me. Here are just a few reasons why I still choose Wheaton.

First, Wheaton College is, quite simply, a fun place to live and study. I have enjoyed semester after semester full of memorable, often spontaneous, fun times with my peers. In fact, if asked what regrets I have about my four years at Wheaton, I would say that I regret not having been more intentional about pursuing those quality interactions. And we have so much variety of fun things to do both on and off-campus, from the lounges of lower Beamer to the streets of Chicago.

The excellent faculty at this institution is another reason why I still choose Wheaton. They have degrees from the world’s best schools, portfolios full of scholarly accomplishments, and years and years of experience. These men and women additionally have a passion for our development as whole and effective Christians and a commitment to the preeminence of Christ in all things, and as such the faculty members are certainly the students’ most valuable resource here at the College.

And finally, I still choose Wheaton because my time here has been a time of incredible spiritual growth – and I am not an isolated case, because I have seen similar spiritual growth in many of my peers. I have had so many encounters and experiences during my time here that have challenged me to think through everything I believe, and made my faith that much stronger because of it. I have also learned to be content in my identity in Christ and to trust God to have a perfect plan for my life, regardless of how much of the plan has actually been revealed to me. God has used this place in so many ways to bring me closer to and make me more like Christ, as I believe has been the case for countless previous generations of students.

This last reason, by the way, is not something I could have anticipated during my pre-admission visits and application and decision process four or five years ago. Certainly, I had heard phrases like “life-changing experience” during that time, but I could never have predicted the magnitude of Wheaton’s effect on me – I was very pleasantly surprised.

To my fellow seniors: Wheaton College has done so much for us. Will you join me in committing to return the favor and support our alma mater? Wheaton College is a special place, the recipient of untold blessings, and an institution that does good work for Christ and His Kingdom. Let us commit to bringing the College regularly before the throne, that the Lord might put a shield around this place to guard against harm and grant wisdom and guidance in the pursuit of Christ’s truth and the proclamation of the gospel.

Founding president Jonathan Blanchard, when asked why he chose to come to Wheaton, replied, “I believed that the Lord had need of Wheaton College, to aid in preparing the way for His coming.” Generations of students, faculty, staff, and friends have chosen Wheaton College for similar reasons. I still choose Wheaton not because it is perfect, for it is not, but because it is indeed a special place, and I believe God has a special plan for this institution, and I would not miss a chance to continue to be a part of it.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Reflections on Student Teaching

Earlier today, I completed my second of two student teaching assignments, the "clinical training" component of my bachelor's degree. One of my requirements is to submit a brief "reflection and self-evaluation" for each placement to my college supervisor. (I completed my middle school placement in January and early February, and my high school placement from mid-February through this week.) I have copied my responses to the prompts here.

What has this experience taught you about yourself as a teacher?


I have discovered many things about myself as a teacher through this first placement. I discovered that I am more flexible than I thought when it comes to actual instruction. I am quite good at developing highly structured and highly detailed plans, and I worried at first that I would not be able to respond appropriately to my students when they responded to my teaching in ways I had not anticipated. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I was able to use my plans more as an outline than a pair of handcuffs.

I also turned out better than I expected at classroom management. One of my large ensembles at this school, all sixth graders, was particularly prone to rowdiness. My cooperating teacher taught me a trick (refrain from saying anything until they stop talking, then wait that much time again before speaking), and I employed some of my own quick wit, and within a couple of weeks I was able to quickly put aside any distractions or interruptions and proceed with the lesson.


Though I still perceive myself as highly flexible in terms of instruction, I find that I still struggle in planning stages in anticipating how my students will respond – particularly students who have different learning styles than I did at their age. I often imagine how I would respond to a given lesson plan I am writing, which of course overlooks probably half of the students who will receive that lesson.

I also learned that, if I try hard enough, I can be very resourceful and creative in finding new ways to engage my students or get a point across. I found that I am especially resourceful in finding new ways to model or demonstrate ideas and in isolating the parts of an idea that are a particular challenge for students.

What has this experience taught you about your students and the process of learning?


This placement has taught me a lot about how students are best engaged – or at least these students in particular. The students I worked with responded best to me when I was serious about getting work done, highly confident of their abilities, complimentary of their achievements, demonstrably happy to be working with them, and happy in general about life.

I also found, in regard to the process of learning, how significant patterns are. Students always seemed to catch on to new material fastest when I would present it in a way that compared it to something they already new.


This placement has taught me that students need to be let in on my strategy for teaching material, at least to some degree. Simple explanations that begin with “the reason I’m asking you to try this…” often do wonders in helping the students focus their energies on the immediate challenge.

I have also seen first-hand the effect of positive reinforcement, namely in the simple acts of praise in front of peers. Finally, I have learned that varying from routine from time to time (while still maintaining order) has an incredibly motivating effect on students – something as simple as a new opening exercise to the class period seems to be very revitalizing.

How has your perception of the teaching profession changed as a result of your experience?


While I vaguely understood the concept beforehand, I realized during my time at my middle school just how many different hats at teacher has to wear, and how often a teacher must wear more than one hat simultaneously: lesson planning, curriculum design, and assessment (both as planned and when students need extra help); communicating with other teachers, parents, and administrators; keeping a neat and orderly office and classroom; various business-related duties; and, on occasion, supervising student teachers. Thankfully, multi-tasking and the like are strengths of mine.

I also have a better perspective now of the pressures teachers face from all sides – parents, administrators, and the students themselves, not to mention the personal pressures of family. Thankfully, my cooperating teacher was an excellent model of someone who has achieved a good balance.


One of the more difficult things for me to observe at this placement was the perpetually exhausted disposition of some veteran teachers (all three teachers in the department, including my cooperating teacher, were nearing the ends of their careers). While the still retain their skill and sharpness of mind from years of teaching the material, as well as professional development, many had attitudes of “I can’t wait to retire.” This was mildly discouraging to me. But it made me aware, as had my last placement, of the constant pressures teachers face, not only from students, but from parents and administrators, and how draining that can be if one is not careful to look after one’s own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.


In all, student teaching was an incredibly rewarding experience. It has been the clearest affirmation yet of the Lord's call for me to enter the teaching profession. I eagerly look forward to seeing how God might use me in the lives of young people.

I want to also publicly thank Dr. Tim Yontz, my college supervisor/advisor, and my two fantastic cooperating teachers, Mrs. Karisa Scheifele and Mr. Paul Loucas. Thank you also to everyone who prayed for me and encouraged me throughout my student teaching experience.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Suggested Reading for Lent

I found this article, "The Value of Lent and Good Friday," from, very insightful.

Also, I highly recommend this series of Lenten devotionals from Dr. Ray Pritchard, my former senior pastor and currently President of Keep Believing Ministries.

If you come across any other good articles, devotionals, or similar for Lent, please feel free to post any links in a comment!

This is Rubio, over and out.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Power and Authority

What would you say is the difference between these two concepts? I think that the first results from searches at are sufficient for our purposes:

power n. ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.
authority n. the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine.

In short, power is ability to act, and authority is justification to act. Power is derived, through Anglo-Norman French, from the Latin posse, “to be able.” Authority is derived, through Old French, from the Latin auctor, “originator, promoter.” The etymology of power makes logical sense with the above definition, but the etymology of authority is not so logical at first.

Originate is derived from the Latin origo, “source, origin,” and promote is derived, through Middle English, from the Latin pro-, “forward,” and movere, “to move.” So, by association, authority is the condition of being the source or origin of something or the ability to move something forward. Now we are getting somewhere: going back to the dictionary definition, it is logical to equate words like control, command, and determine with source and promote.

Now that our definitions are sorted out, here is my next question: between power and authority, which of the two, if either, is appropriate for humans to have?

Genesis, in the creation narrative, records God giving man (here meaning both men and women) dominion over the rest of creation. Dominion, to me, seems to be more along the lines of power, but then note the all-important point of God giving that dominion – in short, authorizing that dominion.

God is the source of all power, and God can grant that power to, for example, humans. Humans, then, seem to be best suited for authority, or the justification to act, as I paraphrased the definition above. Matthew’s Gospel records Jesus saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Thus, because of the relationship we can have with God through Jesus, we have authority also to exercise over the creation.

I think most would agree as to the danger of unrestrained or unauthorized power. Adam and Eve were not authorized to take the fruit, but they used their physical power to tear it from the tree and eat it regardless, and we can all see what consequences that has had on the whole of creation.

The Bible (and world history) is full of examples of people exercising power, and the good results that come when that power is authorized, and the bad results that come when it is not. The key, I believe, is that whenever we as humans exercise our capabilities to act freely, we must keep in mind the lordship of Christ, and submit to His authority over us. Jesus in fact modeled this submission in His relationship with the Father, and we would do well to imitate it.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Affirmations and Companions

I am three and a half weeks into my last semester of my undergraduate years. One of my roommates mentioned a few days ago that he did not know where the time had gone, and I agree. The thought of formally graduating from this place I have come to love is sobering. I intend to reflect more on that theme later; here I want to focus on some of my final experiences as an undergraduate that are already occurring.

In this last semester, I am completing the clinical training portion, as it were, of the education side of my degree: student teaching. I am currently midway through a six-week assignment at Spring Wood Middle School in Hanover Park, applying what I have learned over the past three and a half years under the supervision and mentorship of Karisa Scheifele.

Every time a family member or friend asks how my student teaching experience is going, I am happily able to reply that it is going really, really well. And it really is. I have good rapport with the students (sixth through eighth grade band students), I am using the knowledge and skills I learned in all my music and education courses at levels I did not think possible, and on the whole, I am having fun doing it all. When Dr. Yontz observed me two weeks ago, his comments were overall quite positive. And Karisa, who as it happens is a Wheaton alumnus, has been such a wonderful mentor to me. In sum, my student teaching experience thus far has been incredibly affirming of the Lord’s calling for my to pursue teaching as a profession.

Student teaching is comparable to a full-time internship, so I am off campus from early in the morning until mid afternoon, Monday through Friday. Current student teachers from all departments have senior seminar on Tuesday nights, but besides that class, I no longer have classes or rehearsals at the College. That change was hard for me at first, mostly because I missed seeing my friends throughout the day. I also missed being in the Symphonic Band, because there was another bygone regular opportunity to be with friends.

Happily, though, I have been able to spend quite a bit of quality time with many of my friends through the time-honored experience of sharing a meal. I am really glad that I have taken that initiative to be so intentional about my friendships this semester, because it would sadden me were they to just fade away due to lack of interaction, and at the end of my undergraduate years no less. My Wheaton experience would not have been what it has been without all the amazing people the Lord has placed in my life while I have been here. Thank you to all those people for affirming me, supporting me, loving me, and encouraging me along the way. I hope and pray that our paths cross many times in this world post-Wheaton.

This is Rubio, over and out.

P.S. Completely off topic, but it is momentous enough to warrant mention. The Chicago area is currently under attack from a blizzard of “historic proportions,” enough that Spring Wood has a snow day tomorrow, and Wheaton College has a partial snow day!