Wednesday, November 29, 2006

On Eagle's Wings

This is how much God loves His children:

In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and
carries them on its pinions. (Deut. 32: 10, 11)

Here is the same passage from The Message:

He found him out in the wilderness, in an empty, windswept wasteland. He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him, guarding him as the apple of his
eye. He was like an eagle hovering over its nest, overshadowing its young, then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air, teaching them to fly.

I love and marvel at the fact that God cares for us that much. That He treasures us. That He lavishes attention on us. We are never forgotten. We are never alone.

I guess it's the teacher in me that makes me appreciate the second part of the passage so much. God watches over us, His little chicks. He feeds us. He protects us. And then, when the time is right, He puts us on His wings and takes flight. We glide through the air with Him, powered by His mighty wings. We see how He does it, rising and falling while we hold onto Him for dear life. And suddenly, at some point, probably a different point for each of us, we look around and realize that it is our own wings that are beating. He hasn't deserted us, He is still there right alongside. But He has taught us enough that our own awkward flapping is keeping us aloft.

It is a theme to which I find myself returning often. Jesus left the world in our care. He taught his disciples and then trusted them enough to ascend. They taught others. And others taught us. Now we must use those lessons to do for others what Jesus would have done and we must return to his teaching whenever we need, whenever we can.

As we mature and are transformed, our wings beat stronger and faster. And we carefully lift the newborn and rise into the air. Teaching them to fly.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Civilization IV

I didn't do much blogging during my week off, but that's not to say I didn't spend any time in front of the computer. Civilization IV is highly addictive and should be covered with warning labels. The problem is this: it's a turn-based game so there's always something about to happen. Have you ever read a book where the author develops a new plotline even as he is wrapping up an old one? You keep turning pages because there's always a new discovery around the corner. This game is like that. Something is always about to happen. So you think to yourself, "Just one more turn," and then you realize it's two in the morning.

So if you've ever wondered what it would be like if Alexander the Greek had ICBM missiles at his command...or if Queen Elizabeth had a defensive treaty with Cyrus of Persia...or if Ramses had invented Rock and Civ IV. But if you have little or no willpower and you just have_to_know_what_happens_next, stay away. Far away.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thankful Week

Yet another list of things I'm thankful for, in no particular order. By the way, the sheer number of times that I resort to "thankful lists" as my blog entry of the day does not mean that I am creatively challenged. It just means that I am very blessed and very aware of it.

I am thankful for... wife. She runs a business, works another job, and keeps doing all the other things she has to even though she's the first to admit she doesn't like to. These things would, of course, include the laundry that is being done in the next room as I type this. Plus, she's a lot of fun and just gorgeous. I mean drop-dead, catch-your-breath gorgeous. house. We were able to have people over this year because there wasn't a gaping hole in the kitchen and we weren't standing around on cold, concrete floors. God got us through an ordeal and made us better on the other side. Maybe His ultimate goal for all of us is to make us better on the other side. Hmmmm.... son. He has been so good this week. He loves his family and loves spending time with them. I love that this makes him happy. He also totally cracks me up. new computer which seriously kicks old computer butt. And... new car which is just totally sweet. And...
...James Bond because the new movie is awesome and Pierce Brosnan wouldn't last two seconds in a room with Daniel Craig. A full-on review of this spectacle is in order. Maybe later and I'll promise not to read anything Josh writes about it so my perspective isn't tainted.

...having the rest of the year off from preaching. I enjoy it. I really do. But I'm a tad worn out and I'm looking forward to a little time off. I'm not rubbing it in to you full-timers. After all, you don't have to put a lesson together on Optimization Problems on Monday. job. I am just blown away by my kids this year. On Friday I finished my lesson early in one of my classes and told them they had 10 minutes to talk about all the things they were thankful for with their teammates. After 10 minutes of raucous noise, the bell was about to ring and I told them, sincerely, that I was thankful for them. They all "Awwwwwwwwww'ed", but to my surprise I noticed it was a sincere "Awwwwwwwwwwww," and then many of them said, "We're thankful for you too, Mr. Thurman." I was really touched. I mean, if you know any teenagers at all, try to imagine that scene. I have awesome, awesome kids.

...lots more things too. This week has had its ups and downs. I had one of my worst migraines ever on Tuesday and my allergies have been lousy. But I always get through these things. And I've had lots of time to rest and rejuvenate. So I'm grateful. And as always, I'm grateful for my fellow bloggers. I've been a bit out of it but how wonderful to know that your prayers are just a request away. God has put us in a special community. I pray for health and happiness for all of you. That you know Him more every day. And that you feel His love for you today and always.

We are blessed.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I'm thankful that I have the week off. Fresno Unified has never had a full vacation week for Thanksgiving. Truth be told, I was against it. I would rather have the longer summer break. But I may as well enjoy it while it's here.

It was cold today but I played golf anyway and life was good.

Tomorrow Ashley comes home and we can't wait to see her.

Blogging will be at a minimum this week. But that doesn't mean that I'm not thankful for all y'all.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


14 Then the Lord raised up against Solomon an adversary, Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom. 15 Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. 16 Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom. 17 But Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father. 18 They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking men from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food. 19 Pharaoh was so pleased with Hadad that he gave him a sister of his own wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage. 20 The sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh's own children. 21 While he was in Egypt, Hadad heard that David rested with his fathers and that Joab the commander of the army was also dead. Then Hadad said to Pharaoh, "Let me go, that I may return to my own country." 22 "What have you lacked here that you want to go back to your own country?" Pharaoh asked. "Nothing," Hadad replied, "but do let me go!"
(I Kings 11: 14-22)

I thought I'd share my opening text for tomorrow's sermon with you all. I love the OT and haven't had a chance to get into it for a while. So I'm cheating a bit to include this, but it does make a point.

My topic surrounds the idea of our Heavenly citizenship. Hadad's story interests me for a number of reasons, but chiefly because of his desire to go home. In Egypt he had it all. And yet, he wanted to return to the country and the people he knew as a boy. (Who does that remind you of?) He lived most of his life as an Egyptian, but his heart never left the land of Edom.

Where is your heart? Do you long for home? Or has Earth become your home? I think of it as mine all too often. I long...for my own country.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Cat Is a Mime

First things first. If you haven't shared any personal experiences in response to yesterday's post, would you skip down there and leave a comment? I'm very interested in when God has been REAL to you.

We have a cat named Tabby. Tabby used to belong to our next door neighbor and then they got a humongo dog. That forced Tabby outside and, eventually, to our house. When our neighbors moved away they asked if we wanted to keep Tabby and we asked them why we wouldn't want to keep our own gol-durned cat! She had already become part of the family and (I'm sure this will warm Judy's heart) we love her very much.

Tabby likes to eat. In the morning if her bowl isn't full, she goes through a little routine. It mostly consists of rubbing up against me and then running to her bowl. When I'm in the shower, she stares at me. Just stares. Occasionally, she'll look over at her bowl and then back at me. One morning she jumped up on the tub by the shower, looked at me until I looked back, then jumped down to her bowl and then up to the food tin. Then back to me again. I have a feeling that if Tabby had opposable thumbs she would sign, "FEED ME, DUFUS" every morning.

Tabby is slightly deranged. Every night she will spend about 10 minutes dashing madly from room to room and then coming to a screeching halt. We call this period of the evening "getting her crazies out." If she can mix in a toy mouse to this proceeding she is in kitty heaven.

Tabby thinks she is a lapdog. She loves curling up next to us. She will also often lay down in front of us and roll over on her back, inviting a tummy rub. This will make her content for long periods of time until you try to stop and then she will grab your hand with both paws and pull it back. She usually sleeps on either our bed or James' and especially loves it if you are sleeping in that "on your stomach with one leg pulled up" position, because she nestles in the triangle created between your legs and is out like a light. All well and good until you want to turn over. Tabby is not light.

Some day I will be a responsible blogger and post pictures of Tabby.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spiritual Discipline

Richard J. Foster's book, "Celebration of Discipline" was one of the first Christian books I read that wasn't The Bible. I've read it twice and need to read it again. It reminds me of many of the things I can do to get closer to God and, more importantly, the joy of doing those things.

I was going through the book last night in preparation for Sunday's lesson. While reading about such acts as prayer, meditation, study, service, and worship, I was trying to remember specific times in my life when those things had brought me an undeniable feeling of God's presence. We've all had them. Those prayers where you felt Him sitting right next to you (or inside you) by the time you reached the Amen. Moments of clarity in study when you felt like you knew Him better than you did the moment before. Times of worship when your spirit soared so high you had the feeling of leaving earth behind. I hope Sunday to help people tap into those memories so that they don't think of spiritual disciplines as hard things, but as instruments of transformation and joy.

This isn't to say that the disciplines aren't hard work. It's to say that, as we mature, the work becomes enjoyable work and the results of it are measurable and profound.

Do you remember times like that? Care to share?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I Didn't Make It

I knew this whole "blog-a-day" thing was gonna get me.

Yesterday I taught three classes where things went non-stop. They went well but I was worn out by the end of the day. Then it was off to the Worship Committee meeting at church which also went very well. Some great ideas were tossed around for our Christmas and New Year's worship days and Sandra and I collaborated on this coming Sunday. Then I picked up James and took him home. Lisa had a big event so I made us some yummy steaks. James helped me cook so things took a bit longer, but we had a lot of fun. By the time he was done with his second helping, it was bathtime. Then it was bedtime.

I vowed to work on my sermon last night, but after I finally got him to bed, I found that I couldn't even think. So I went to bed too. This morning I realized that I had gone blogless yesterday, so the streak is over. But I got some much-needed rest, I'm thinking again, and tonight I'm going to get that sermon going.

At least, that's the plan.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Thanks to everyone for prayers and encouraging responses. I'll post more about this later I'm sure, but it's sad to see that it is such a widespread thing.

Still, I am very grateful for the people that work so hard and so consistently. I'll try to follow their example.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Attendance at College has been down for the last couple of months and I'm depressed about it.

I would say that these things are cyclical, except that College has shown a fairly steady decrese, albeit a slow one, over the past 8 or 9 years. We are dwindling. And I'm not sure what to do about it.

Of course I give it over in prayer...on a daily basis. But this is my family, my home, and I hate to see people go. I have always been one to say that folks should go where they are happy, so long as they GO. But we aren't even reaching 250 on a regular Sunday and this is a place that used to have 700 or more. It's also hard, as a speaker and a Worship Committee-er, not to take it a little personally. I can't help but ask, "What could I be doing different? What could I be doing better?"

Maybe hiring a preacher would help. Maybe not.
Maybe focusing on study more would help. Maybe not.
Maybe we need an event. Maybe we need more outreach. Maybe we need more faith.
Maybe I should just be patient.
Maybe God is teaching us a lesson.

I don't know. I have tremendous love for the people still there. But there is a persistent feeling of floundering. The Israelites wandered for 40 years. Is that what is in store for us? And at what point do we have to just turn off the lights?

My prayer, and it's a confident one, is NEVER. That we will not just survive, but we will thrive. And that we will come out the other side strong and faithful. People will come to know Christ through us and people will learn to love and follow him through our example.

For today, that is my single prayer.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Multiple Choice

Which song is better?

A. Saturday in the Park (by Chicago)
B. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting (by Elton John)
C. The Theme Song from Saturday Night Live (by Howard Shore)
D. Saturday (by The Carpenters)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Weekly Wrapup

Things that have happened this week that I either haven't blogged about or have forgotten in the mere days it's been since I blogged about them:

My mom treated us to dinner on Sunday and my family showered me with birthday presents. I got a killer Sam Moore CD, a beautiful new Bible (TNIV Bible squared...big margins for notes), a framed picture of the two most beautiful people in the world (NOT Brittany and K-Fed, wife and son) and the last book in the Lemony Snicket series called "The End." More on that later.

I took Monday off. I was planning on it, but ended up having this nice cold anyway. So at least I wasn't lying about calling in sick. I spent the day lazing and getting to know my new computer. As nice as it was to lay about all day, the high point came in the evening when my sweet niece called to wish me a happy birthday. It was so great to hear her chipper (down boy! sorry Greg) voice. She is having a blast at ACU. I hope she doesn't think the football team is going to win this many games every year.

I spent over 5 hours putting together a single PowerPoint lesson for Algebra II. I got going with an idea and couldn't stop. Fortunately the kids loved it so it was time well spent. Now we'll see if they GOT it or not when I test next week.

I read "The End." I'm a huge fan of "A Series Of Unfortunate Events," the tragic story of the Baudelaire orphans and the tyranny of Count Olaf. Please disregard the movie. It stunk. The series was delightful (a word I use sparingly). I was sad to see it end but fairly satisfied with how it turned out. Don't worry, no spoilers here. I especially enjoyed Chapter 14.

James and I are bach'in' it this weekend. We're having some good time together, especially today. So I could write more, or I could go watch the extras on the "Cars" DVD with him.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


There are certain dates that stick with you. Hopefully, we remember birthdays of loved ones and wedding anniversaries. But other dates evoke sad memories. The dates that special family members died often knock us for a loop when they come around. November 9th is a date that we are not likely to forget any time soon.

One year ago today we were trying to cope with having a car in our kitchen.

Those of you who followed the blog back then went step by step with us through the torturous process. Cleaning out the destruction, living with renovation, eating every meal out, being cold all the time. Feeling as though we had no home.

One year later we feel nothing but blessed. We have our home back and it's better than ever. We were able to add a few luxuries thanks to insurance companies and a good lawyer. We both have brand spanking new computers. And, most of all, we remain grateful that God saw us through and helped us to remember what was truly important. We may have sneezed a bit from the dust, but none of us were hurt. We praise God that He gave us patience and trust so that a year later we can look back with gratitude rather than bitterness.

But we do still jump at loud noises. Especially in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Have A Cold

Let the sympathy begin.

How many of you agree that guys are much worse about being sick than gals? Most guys I know would try to act stoic if a chainsaw lopped off their right hand, but groan like it's the end of the world when they catch a bug. I'm no exception. There's just something in the sympathy that makes me feel better.

So here's your chance to minister. Ah choo. Groan.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An Exercise in Humility

From Barclay:

The battle of proof texts is a battle with no victory. Isaiah says, "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4). Joel says, Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, I am a warrior" (Joel 3:10). In the Bible we are constantly being confronted with this kind of contradiction. Clearly, what we must do is to find the total message of the Bible and to think about it.
There must be an end of the belligerent hurling of texts at each other, and a real attempt to bring the whole gospel to the questions we discuss.
If we are to do this, there is one thing that, perhaps above all we must try to avoid.
We must try to avoid going to the Bible in order to find in it material to support ideas and theories which are in fact our own.
When we study the Bible we must sit down in humility before it and listen, not to our own voices extracting our own meanings from the Bible, but to the voice of God as it speaks to us in His book.
It will be an exercise in humility, but it will also be a path to truth.

Monday, November 06, 2006

37 of Me
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I went a long time without Googling myself.

Boy, if you weren't up on technology that last sentence might really throw you. I'll try again.

I went a long time without entering my name into a search engine. (That's a little better.) When I finally did, the results really surprised me. It seems that of those 37 Steve Thurman's in the world, most are either preachers or math teachers. I guess it was fate that I be both.

I would also like to mention at this time that I had my wife wondering for quite some time if Uma Thurman was my cousin. I would refer to her as "Cousin Uma" and Lisa would say, "She is NOT!" but then keep looking at me for confirmation that she really wasn't. So the doubts would linger.

I never knew anybody else with my name. There was this one kid who I knew in elementary school named Steven Taylor. When he came along I had to start writing "Steven Th" on all my papers and that really bugged me. I was there first. Why should I change?

I think it may still bother me.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Lazy Sundays

Raise your hand if a nap is part of your regular Sunday regimen.

I think the Sunday nap is actually part of scripture. III Timothy or Hezekiah or one of those lesser known books. It's part of the unwritten new covenant, right up there with potlucks and keeping the trash can under the sink.

No naps today, alas. And we're feeling it. So, as some kids I know used to recite before bedtime, "Shadrach, Meshach, and ToBedWeGo."


Saturday, November 04, 2006


I don't think I've ever posted on a Saturday before. Saturdays are meant to be lazy days, devoid of meaningful work. So if I'm going to stick to this post-a-day thing throughout November, I think Saturday posts (and Sunday posts) should be short.

Don't you agree?

Friday, November 03, 2006

They Say It's Your Birthday

It's my birthday too, yeah.

In fact I know a LOT of people who share my birthday or were born shortly before or after. Recently I figured out why.

Carolyn (timeless) sent me an e-mail which contained a link to a site where you could learn about things that happened on the day you were born. The news of the day, phase of the moon, that sort of thing. Mine was easy as LBJ was elected president on that day. (I always thought it was funny that I was born on Election Day, but my sister was born, more appropriately, on Labor Day.) Included on that site was the date you were conceived. Apparently, I was conceived on or about February 14. So I have an inkling as to why so many people have birthdays this time of year.

My family makes a big deal of birthdays. When I was growing up, we always got to pick dinner that day. My brother and I always chose barbecued steak and homemade ice cream. That still works pretty well. We didn't have a ton of money, but we always got a great present that day and our grandmas and aunts and uncles always remembered to send cards and cash. I have wonderful birthday memories.

And today I am 42, which according to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. So it's a good day to count my blessings and to praise God and thank Him for family, friends, job, health, and home. And my new, spiffy computer. I've been doing that all day long, a good way to spend any day. If you're reading this (and you are), it's a safe bet that I have already thanked Him for you today. By name.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Serving Our Friend

There are some great advantages to speaking in a rotation, the most obvious being that you don't have to do it every week. When you have another full-time gig, the weeks you speak involve long hours. To do that constantly, or even in consecutive weeks, would wear a person down.

There are some disadvantages however, and one of them cropped up this week. Occasionally after I preach, something comes up during my regular study that I dearly wish I had seen before...a point I wish I'd made, something that had felt muddy that had suddenly become clearer, or just a little addendum to one of my remarks. It makes me wonder how often you regular preachers take a little time to address something from the week before. It happens, right?

On Sunday I spoke about having a "servant's heart." I mentioned that many of the New Testament letters begin with the writer calling himself a servant. Paul, Peter, James, and Jude all did it in the first verse of one of their letters, and John did it in the first verse of Revelation. The disciples may have first been called "Christians" at Antioch, but the disciples called themselves servants. In the whole ridiculous realm of nomenclature, we could do far worse than forgoing the labels of "Christian" or "Christ follower" and simply tell the world we are servants. It's a title with a heavy responsibility, but a perfect description.

Then on Monday, I hit the following verse:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)

And now I wish that I could share that with the church. That Jesus doesn't call us "servants," he calls us friends! And this: the disciples called themselves servants anyway. We serve Jesus, not as a Master (though I'm uncomfortable taking that analogy away completely) but as a friend. We are servants taking the place of the Great Servant here on earth.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I learned on Wendy's blog that November is National Blog Posting Month. I don't think that's official or federally-recognized or anything like that, but it's not a bad idea. And while I can't guarantee that I will post every day, I can guarantee this: some of my posts will be really, really short.

James felt well enough to trick or treat last night and so Batman roamed the night in Fresno once again. The Dark Knight bagged 18 candy bars, numerous sweets, and The Riddler. Other children were afraid of the spiders and skeletons hanging from rooftops and door mantels...but the Caped Crusader put fear into them. He was going to find Two Face and put him back in Arkham Asylum, but it was past his bedtime.

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