Putting away the Table

Hi guys.

On behalf of the the Table, I’m going to thank you all for the readership which you’ve given this website. Thank you for the support and the encouragement which you have given us on here. It has been truly appreciated.

When this blog began, it’s purpose was to collect the thoughts and writings from a group of friends which is why there were several contributors. However, as people have all gotten busy, there has been less and less contributions from the original collection and since I didn’t want to turn this into a personal blog when it wasn’t the intention of this site to do that, but I do want to get more serious about blogging so I’m going to open up a personal blog, end this group project because it’s been in its waning stages for awhile now, and invite you to follow the contributions of my friends elsewhere.

Once again, on behalf of all of us, thank you for your support, readership, and encouragement. May you continue to experience grace and worship in unexpected places. Here’s a list of sites from some of the contributors:

Jon Stefansson:  www.rufielroj.blogspot.com

Abner Campos:  https://aboutmisconceptions.wordpress.com/

Mine: http://bfrodriguez.wordpress.com/

Contributed by Bryant Rodriguez

Hoops and Individuality

In today’s American culture, non-violent, peace-loving Christians have to create their own places of refuge, especially on the television.

A haven for quality entertainment for myself has been the college hoops circuit. Something about the way the players play with heart and the fact that basketball is one of the least violent sports ploys into my weekly routine.

Analyzing stats and games is less interesting than appreciating the players for who they are. Every time I watch a game I’m looking for the players with the most individuality, and sparked with intrigue, then the stat crunching can begin.

It can range from a flat-top fade to a walk-on’s journey, or it could be the swagger of the starting point guard ­– in all games there’s a story to be told about individuals who so happen to crack the six-foot barrier (and some who don’t, å la Pierre Jackson).

In our walks with Christ we can forget others’ walks, which can be desensitized by the media. A tattooed guard may get an automatic write-off during game coverage when no one truly knows about the sincere Bible study in his/her dorm room.

The face of the game boils down to the old adage, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, but it goes deeper than that. Many young people from all walks of life are trying their best to get an education as well as keep their bodies in perfect order. Similar to football, I hope to see an insurgence of vegan/vegetarian athletes soon.

A New Year

As I leave the main auditorium I take a copy of the free Great Controversies they are handing out at the end of the GYC, and silently pray that God will help me give it to someone.

Few hours later I’m sitting in the airplane from Seattle to Chicago. I have an aisle seat and next to me is an older couple. She is reading a book and he is reading the magazine that was in the seat pocket.

My default thoughts begin, He doesn’t want the book; I always hear these colporteur stories and I never have one; What should I say – and they are answered with, Just ask him if he likes to read. Then say you have an extra copy of this book and that you want to give it to someone. It sounds so reasonable that I like it.

So do you like to read? I ask the man. He looks from the paper to me and answers, Yes. A second or two pass as I blank out. And what do you mostly read or like to read? I ask again. The Bible, he answers.

He listens as I tell him of my extra copy and immediately reads the back cover. I explain a little bit about the book to him – that it’s highlights of church history from the first century to our time, and then the last chapters cover what the prophecies say will happen. After that I don’t know if I should continue talking anymore, since he is already reading chapter one. My heart is thrilled with joy of having actually followed the Spirit’s prompting, for I have had my first divine appointment of the year. But I’m still tired after the conference, so I fall asleep for the rest of the flight. When I wake up he’s still reading.

Contributed by Jón Hjörleifur Stefánsson

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With Songs of Ascent 2013

This morning I have realized I am very blessed.  I am touring with Songs of Ascent 2013 as a speaker across the Eastern part of the United States. I get to hang out with musicians and develop my craft of preaching? Can it get any better? (Well, actually, it could but may be more on that later.)

Photo by Caleb White, used with permission

Photo by Caleb White, used with permission

In any case, I am so happy and delighted to be here. To be a part of this ministry and to help out the musicians and see the Spirit minister through wholesome music. So far, we have done seven concerts and not all have been our best performances, but all of them have resulted in people letting us know the ways in which they were blessed. At a few concerts, there have been specific stories and testimonies we have received from the attendants.

A young boy’s heart being moved to apologize and ask for forgiveness from his parents.

A father coming to me and letting me know he was going to take the message of the songs and narration to heart and seek to apply it in his family.

And even a few instances of folks driving out a couple hours, one father doing so when he was persuaded by his daughter whom he usually doesn’t have custody of during the week, just to come out to the concert and then none of them regretting having made the drive.

Photo by Bryant Rodriguez

Photo by Bryant Rodriguez

So God is definitely blessing and His hand is with us. However, to be honest, the way in which I am really growing and being blessed is by the first thing I mentioned: being able to spend time with Christians musicians who see their music as a way to minister, not a way to entertain. Observing two married couples doing ministry and living off grace has begun to teach me a lot about what it means to be a godly partner, a godly teammate, and yet still keep your sanity. Watching Eric & Monique Johnson and Matt & Josie Minikus interact as couples and as fellow laborers is showing me what it looks like to be an honest and responsible worker, what priorities need to be maintained while performing, how it looks like to care about your craft while relying upon God to give the increase, what a Christian husband can look like, and how to love a woman. And these are just the more ‘spiritual’ things I am learning because there’s plenty more ‘everyday’ things I am beginning to learn. Things pertaining to car maintenance, equipment preservation, how to shop for food cheaply while on the road, stewardship, minting good PR with churches and well, the list could continue but I will spare you.

All I am trying to say is that what Songs of Ascent 2013 is for me does include the developing my preaching. But really, that’s the smallest part. What it really is about for me is serving four musicians whom I totally support in what they’re doing and being able to pick up from their mentorship lessons and habits which I can then apply to my career in ministry and this is really the most important part of it for me. You know, the all important character development because after all, God is looking to develop characters more than gifts.

And this morning when I realized God has placed wonderful counselors and mentors in my life to instruct me is when it struck me, Wow, I’m so blessed.

Contributed by Bryant Rodriguez

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Have you forgotten?

Most people know the true meaning of Christmas, lets be honest. And people know that Christ is the center of it.

But then as we dig deeper into what it is, we begin to ask more questions; and for many of those questions there are no answers.

Soon, we realize that we hate not knowing but fall in love with mystery. God becomes very mysterious this time of year…if you want Him to be. But if you want to find revelation this season, that exists too. God revealed Himself; leaving many questions in the footprints of history, but that’s okay. We can deal with not knowing.

Lets work with what we have. Nope. Just kidding. Lets just ponder on it. Don’t say anything. Just think about the incarnation of God for a while–in utter silence.

Beautiful isn’t it?

Photo from Internet

Photo from Internet

My thoughts come in poetic form:

Some call it the Incarnation, others
The birth of a prophet,
Some call it Christmas.

Is it another holiday?
Or do we make it Holy Day?
Because in reality, it is a big deal.

It wasn’t just God as a baby, God in cloth and
laying in an unworthy bed.
He wasn’t just John’s cousin, or of “the shoot
of Jesse.”
It was the beginning of the end; the beginning of the
end of darkness.
The beginning of the end of confusion.

Because life began to die; food began to hunger;
Streams of water began to thirst; wealth
began to impoverish; strength began to grow weak;
Royalty became enslaved; divinity became
human.

Son of God changed like the gears of
a manual car in the blink of an eye.
And eternity paused to bow to a baby named
Majesty.
In silence, the stars sang pianissimo: Holy, Holy, Holy.
While dark agencies cried, “How?”
Shepherds bent knee; reflecting
That one day, seven billion will bend knee
and bow.

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