Author Archives: bobegods

The Iceman Cometh

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” (Luke 4:36)

A long while back, I was a graduate student in English at the University of Idaho. As a teaching assistant I taught three sections of freshman composition each year. Since I was only slightly older than most of them and younger than a few, I had to establish some sort of authority based on something other than age. I finally settled on experience. I would start the first day of class by saying, “I’m up front here because I know something that you need to know.” That generally took care of it. The students accepted it at face value.

Except for one guy. He had failed the class twice before and came into my section with a BIG chip on his shoulder. I wasn’t overly concerned. I’d had problem students before. I’d do what I always did. My plan was to ignore him.

From day one it was clear that this guy resented everything and everyone that suggested he didn’t know it all already. The very first day he came in late, dropped into his desk with a disdainful crash, folded his arms across his chest, and leveled an Ayatollah stare at me that could have oxidized metal. In that terrifying instant I knew I was looking at the most demonic academic terrorist I would ever see in my life.

And so did the rest of the class. Their gaze shifted from me to him and back to me. Whether I liked it or not, the stage was set, the gauntlet thrown in my lowly, teaching assistant’s face. The whole universe stopped moving in those moments. I could hear the wooden tick, tick, tick of the clock on the wall. My palms went ice cold; my heart pounded in my rib cage like a wild animal; I had to pee like you wouldn’t believe.

There was nowhere to run. I knew if I lost this one, I’d lose the class for good. I would be known as The Wimp. (And trust me, when you’re trying to teach 800 pound football players how to read poetry, you don’t need that hanging over your neck too.) There was only one thing to do. I gathered all my remaining strength and composure, braced myself against the podium, took a deep breath and . . . ignored him hard.

But he wouldn’t let me. He taunted me every day by coming in late, loudly enough to disrupt whatever was going on. He would talk when I was talking (though I never saw any student actually listen to him), whistle during in-class work time, mumble “This is stupid” audibly enough for the others to hear whenever I made an assignment, and generally keep turning the intimidation screws tighter and tighter into my psyche.

Through it all I clung desperately to my strategy. I smiled feebly at his fiendish behavior and pretended not to hear his caustic remarks. But I could feel (as, no doubt could he) the slow, but certain weakening of my defenses. Like the siege of a walled city by a superior army, he was biding his time, starving me out. The rest of the class watched in morbid fascination as their instructor slowly melted away like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Then one day he launched the mother of all attacks. I was returning their essay assignments which I had spent the better part of my valuable weekend grading. As usual his had a lot of red ink on it (my one feeble satisfaction). I handed him his paper and continued doing the same with the others. All of a sudden he held up his essay, pointing dramatically to my scarlet-inscribed comments, and spit venomously, “What’s this garbage?”

Once more the class froze. They saw the ax falling inexorably toward my vulnerable scholastic neck. From all around me, quietly at first, but growing louder and louder until they became a swarm of jeers, I could hear hundreds, no millions of voices chanting “Wimp! Wimp! Wimp! Wimp! Wimp!”

This was it, the moment of truth. There he was, holding his essay in one hand and my future in the other—Satan himself. This was Judgment Day. The face off could not have lasted more than a few nanoseconds, but it was long enough for a transformation to happen in me. Gone was all pretense to meekness. Gone was my weary, time-eroded mantra “Knowledge is power.” Gone were Gandhi and Yoda and Mr. Rogers. I’d had enough. I was no longer Mr. Dweeb. I had no more cheeks to turn.

Rising from the primal engine of my soul roared a thunderclap, a divine firestorm of indignation and retribution. I stopped in my tracks, slowly straightened my back, and turned toward him with the terrible certainty of a gunslinger. With a voice like steel, as level, controlled, and potent as anything Clint Eastwood ever said, I said to his face, “That’s funny, that’s exactly what I thought when I read your essay.”

He blinked, then sank slowly back into his desk like a leaky air mattress. It was over. With a word I had cast the demon out—well, made him shut up anyway.

I finished handing out the papers and taught the class like nothing happened. But it took everything I had to keep from kissing myself and breaking out into some kind of primitive victory dance. In fact, I’m not so sure I didn’t do just that when I got back to my little office. The iceman cometh.

a-005Fred Allen heads up Burning Bush Ministries, teaches literature, draws cartoons, and writes a lot. He is the author of Our Daily Fred, an alternative online devotional, found at www.ourdailyfred.wordpress.com. He and his family live in Salem, Ore.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Lead Story, The Daily

Finding Jesus

I knew when I decided to take an eleven-day trip overseas last year that I would see things that would wake me up, things that would change me. That’s partly why I wanted to go so badly. I wasn’t disappointed. Shortly after flying from the US to the Philippines, I found myself at a home run by a group of nuns with some of the most beautiful hearts. It’s a place for the very sick, the very old, and the very young. It’s a place for those that have the least chance of surviving on the streets of Manila. It’s often a place for them to spend a few weeks or days of their lives being cared for and shown the love of Jesus before they die.

Walking inside the front door of the first house in the compound, there were kids everywhere, more than one piled on some of the small beds. Dying kids. Kids with diseases like encephalitis or tuberculosis. I looked at the few nuns scurrying from one child to the next and realized that there was no way they could possibly care for so many children properly. I guess they just couldn’t turn anyone away despite the overcrowding. The smell in the air proved that many of the children needing washing or changing. Overwhelmed, I looked up and caught the eyes of one of the sisters. “How can I help you?” A few minutes later, I found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor holding a bowl of runny rice gruel. Gathered around me in a semi-circle were half a dozen tiny malnourished toddlers. They reminded me of scrawny baby birds, opening their mouths and staring at me with eyes that seemed too huge for their tiny bodies. The bowl was empty all too soon. One of the sisters took it from me and motioned to me that she would take care of the babies.

I stood up and wandered into another room, this one holding children of various ages with handicaps or deformities. I found myself drawn to a yellow crib near the center of the room. In it lay a child whose limbs were badly twisted and bent, looking like nothing more than a tangled mass of skin and bone, really. The child’s hair was closely shaved, and I couldn’t determine the sex. It was impossible to tell the age of the child – could have been 7, could have been 13. The child couldn’t speak and didn’t have much mobility, but was responsive to my voice. I watched as the child’s eyes fluttered open and fixed on me. I reached down and grasped the child’s hand, and my grip was returned firmly. I began to sing softly, an old hymn my mother sang to me as a little girl, as tears began to well up in my eyes:

“I am Jesus’ little lamb
Ever glad at heart I am
For my Shepherd gently guides me
Knows my needs and well provides me
Loves me every day the same
Even calls me by my name”

It struck me how fitting those words were. I didn’t know this child’s name, or anything else besides what I could observe, standing beside that crib. But I didn’t need to. This child was known and loved intimately by the Good shepherd who gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11). I knew that the indescribable love that I felt flooding through me for this unknown child was not mine, and I felt privileged to be an extension of Jesus, holding that hand and singing the words that He wanted to be sung to that child. I think that my words were understood despite the barriers of language and physical disability.

“Who so happy as I am
Even now the Shepherds lamb
And when my short life is ended
By His angel hosts attended
He shall fold me to his breast
Ever in His arms to rest!”

As the last few words of the song escaped my lips, my friends began to call me, telling me that it was time to leave. I didn’t want to go, but I began to peel those little fingers off of mine. The child wouldn’t let go! I couldn’t believe that a child who looked so weak could have such a vice-like grip. And those eyes, they were starting to bore into me. I gently tugged my hand away. Not ready to give up, the child’s hand closed around a fistful of my hair as I bent over the crib. One of the sisters had to come over to help me disentangle myself.

My encounter with this child had lasted for only about three minutes, but those three minutes were enough to make me a misfit. I turned and walked out of the door of that room entirely wrecked. That’s when everything changed for me. I knew that I would never be able to go back to my life as it was before. That little one’s grip had reached around not only my hand but my heart, and I still haven’t been able to pull away. I will forever be thankful for my three minutes with Jesus in the form of that child.

a-004 Hannah Neumann is learning to become a global-thinking Christian. She enjoys random adventures, music, community, and learning from culture and history. You can connect with her at livingpsalm82@yahoo.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lead Story, Rethink Women

Rethink Women

Thanks for visiting the page for our special issue of Rethink Women, a one-time publication brought to you by us (Rethink Monthly).

Please click here to view the magazine online. You can also read the articles in this issue by clicking on the appropriate links below.

Also, feel free to leave your thoughts about the publication in the comments section below.

FEATURED ARTICLES:

A Chick With A Mission
An interview with Becca Wells, founder and brains behind an all new podcast that’s all things girl

Finding Jesus
An article by Hannah Neumann

I Heart Dream Center
An article by Lindsay Blackman

Answers for Darwin
An event coming to Portland, Ore.

Now Is The Time To Go
A Local Salem Girl Steps Up And Steps Out: The Story of Bethany O’Connor

The Power of the Spoken Word
An article by Renee’ Marie LaRochelle Oviatt

No Room For Fear
An article by Josephine Turnbeck

Leave a comment

Filed under Rethink Women

Women of Faith Brings Hope to Women

With families across the nation struggling, facing economic hard times and dealing with over 2.6 Million job losses in 2008 and record home foreclosures which skyrocketed 81% in 2008 (1 in every 54 housing units in the U.S.), women are under more pressure than ever before. With the weight of the world on their shoulders they are being stretched to make ends meet to keep a roof over their families’ heads as they juggle jobs and children. In these challenging times, they are turning to the Nation’s Largest Live Event for Women, which has attracted more than 4 Million women from across the country and which focuses on providing women with hope and inspiration.

Women of Faith’s Spring 2009 Tour A GRAND NEW DAY will hit Portland on October 9-10 at the Rose Garden Arena – where nearly 12,000 women are expected to gather from Portland and the surrounding areas for a much-needed opportunity to connect and be inspired as a diverse array of musical artists, authors, and performers take the stage in a weekend designed to offer them renewed strength and hope as they forge ahead. The Women of Faith event will bring together thousands of women in the nation’s largest experience connecting women from all walks of life in a deep and meaningful way – focused on helping them thrive in the face of the real, shared challenges they confront every day.

Independent studies by Harvard Medical School and UCLA both confirm that women who have more female friends in whom they can confide are less likely to develop health problems as they age, take less time to recover from trauma, and lower their risk of early death. According to Harvard Medical School, not having close friends (or confidantes), could be as detrimental to a woman’s health as smoking or obesity. Numerous experts recommend female friendship as a stress reducer – essential in this Recession when women are facing high levels of stress at work and at home. A recent UCLA study revealed that when women connect with other women, they release oxytocin – a hormone that counteracts stress and produces a calming effect.

The women who mentor and lead the events as speakers also embody the deep female connections forged at the events as many have been friends and colleagues for 14 years on the Women of Faith tour criss-crossing the nation together for over a decade and supporting each other through life’s ups and downs. The friendships of a few speakers span nearly three decades.

The Portland event will feature a diverse line-up of musical artists, speakers and special guests, including Lisa Whelchel from TV’s popular show “Facts of Life,” acclaimed music artist Sandi Patty, and Nicole C. Mullen, music artist and 8-time Dove award winner.

Throughout the 2-day event, women join together to experience music, comedy, drama and inspirational stories that leave a powerful, lasting mark on the lives of the women who participate. Women of Faith has been going strong since 1996 and has a proven track record as the Nation’s Largest Women’s Conference. Registrations sell quickly and well in advance of the event. They are available and can be ordered on www.womenoffaith.com or by calling 888-49-FAITH.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events

I Heart Dream Center

It all began with an idea, a passion, and a simple drawing.

Have you ever wondered what could truly happen when God’s children join their hearts, gifts, and passions together? Not only that, but with a sole purpose of blessing others while expecting nothing in return? I was honored to catch a glimpse of what that would look like this weekend at Salem Dream Center.

Every Saturday morning, a group of volunteers walk a few blocks to a low-income apartment complex that we have “adopted.” We round up the ready, waiting, and giggling kids to take them to Walker Middle School. We then proceed to play games, make crafts, eat snacks, and provide a safe and loving environment for them. Every week it’s an adventure to say the least.

This Saturday seemed no different than the last few Saturdays. But this time, we had a surprise for the kids. Rethink Monthly offered to partner with us, along with the community, to provide 140 custom T-shirts for the kids. They were able to use artwork that had been “face painted” on a little girl’s arm that said “I Heart Dream Center.” Little did we know the blessing that image would become.

Today was the day the kids were waiting for. The T-shirts had finally arrived.

The first thing every child did was put it on. Immediately. And every single little face that popped out of the shirt was covered with some of the most precious smiles I have ever seen. I began to think. What was it about a T-shirt that could bring that sort of joy? What was the real reason for that smile? As I began to look around I saw white “I HEART DREAM CENTER” shirts absolutely everywhere, it dawned on me. I believe the kids realized that the t-shirts symbolized something bigger than just “something to wear.” It symbolized someone cared for them. Someone gave them a gift. Someone they may never have met loved them enough to bless them. All of a sudden they were not alone as they looked around. They were included, accepted, and had a place to belong, together. It wasn’t just about a t-shirt anymore. It was about what those T-shirts represented. And what they represented was that they were ALL valued and wanted.

What a gift to give a child.

To you and me, it may just be a shirt. But every precious smile we witnessed today said so much more. Thank you to every single person who selflessly gave their time, resources, and gifts into blessing these precious kids. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Article by Lindsay Blackman, on behalf of Craig Oviatt and the Salem Dream Center. You can find out more about the Dream Center by visiting their Facebook site at www.facebook.com/SalemDreamCenter.

1 Comment

Filed under Featured Articles, Local

SONSOFDAY Latest Album "Autumn Heart"

SONSOFDAY is not your typical Christian band. The four-piece alternative rock group based out of Portland, Oregon, is unique, and their story reads more like a screenplay than a typical band bio. They immigrated from Ukraine to the United States in 1992 in pursuit of a better life and religious freedom, which Ukraine was only just beginning to experience after.

The four Belonozhko brothers make up SONSOFDAY, the Red Hammer Records band now traveling the country to promote their debut album Fragile People, which is now in stores. The quartet is comprised of Vlad, age 21, on vocals and guitar; Roman, age 24, on lead guitar; Bogdan, age 19, on drums; and Scott, age 17, on bass… Read More

“…a remarkable band that displays the best of what Christian music has to offer.” — Jesusfreakhideout.com Read Full Article

SONSOFDAY wants to give you a chance to not just pre-order the new album but be a part of it. When you pre-order the new album, your photo and name will be included in the album artwork booklet and you’ll receive a signed copy of “Autumn Heart” before it’s release date, October 12th 2009.

Leave a comment

Filed under Featured Articles, Local, The Daily, Video

Answers For Darwin

In this “Year of Darwin” celebration that marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s ideas and the 200th anniversary of his birth, a Portland-area creation group is providing counter programming with the “Answers for Darwin” conference on Sept. 27-28.

Answers in Genesis (AiG) and Creation Museum founder Ken Ham and AiG staff scientist Dr. Jason Lisle will present several sessions on how the Bible speaks to Darwin’s ideas and to culture today. The first session begins at 9 a.m. Sunday morning and the final session concludes at 9 p.m. Monday evening at Rolling Hills Community Church, 3550 SW Borland Road in Tualatin. The conference, free to the public, is recommended for ages 13 and up. (See a complete schedule below.) It is co-hosted by the Portland area’s Design Science Association.

In addition to being a renowned creation speaker and biblical apologist, Ken Ham is a prolific author, with more than 20 books to his credit. His latest, “Already Gone,” co-authored with America’s Research Group president Britt Beemer, is an in-depth study of the reasons why young people seem to desert the church upon reaching adulthood. A surprising finding was that only 11 percent of students are lost in college; almost 90 percent of those who leave the church do so in their hearts and minds in middle school and high school.

Ham and Beemer discovered that most of those teens who left the church were regular Sunday school attendees. The surprising conclusion was that Sunday school was actually more likely to be detrimental than helpful to the spiritual and moral health of our children. Ham calls for a total renovation of how most Sunday schools are conducted in Christian churches today.

Lisle, also an author and apologist, recently released his own response to evolutionary arguments, “The Ultimate Proof.” Emphasizing the Genesis account of creation, Lisle presents an irrefutable argument to rationally resolve the origins debate. Lisle will present a session at the Portland-area conference on “The Ultimate Proof,” as well as on “The Darwin Connection to Astronomy.”

Sunday, September 27, 2009

9:00 AM Ken Ham: Answers from Genesis on Darwin and the Culture Wars
11:00 AM Ken Ham: Answers from Genesis on Darwin and the Culture Wars (Repeat of the 9:00 am service)
6:00 PM Ken Ham: Defending Christianity from today`s Secular Attacks
7:30 PM Dr. Jason Lisle: The Ultimate Proof of Creation

Monday, September 28, 2009

9:00 AM to 10:30 AM Ken Ham: Dinosaurs, Genesis, and the Gospel (Grades K-6)
11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Ken Ham: How to Defend the Christian Faith Biblically and Scientifically (Grades 7-12)
6:30 PM Ken Ham: Answers for Racism: Darwin and Evolution’s Racist Roots
8:00 PM Dr. Jason Lisle: The Darwin Connection to Astronomy

Contact Information

Craig Hubler
503-968-5467
cwhubler@msn.com

Download the promotional video (23 mb)

Download the promotional flyer (4.89 mb)

Leave a comment

Filed under The Daily