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.