Monday, December 12, 2005

Hodge podge

A hodge podge entry...

With our new baby, there’s not been much time to sit down at the computer. Mama and baby are resting right now, the boys have just gone to bed and I’m stealing a few moments here. We’ve been a little overwhelmed.

Stella has a cleft palate. The doctors say she’s healthy. She’s eating well from the “cleft palate” bottles the hospital gave us and she’s trying to get on a good eating/sleeping schedule. She’s not quite made it...4-6am this morning little miss sunshine decides to wake up! Oh well, we’re doing this like we’re not new to this cause we aren’ to we’re going to do it. yeah. Barring a miracle, she’ll need surgery in a few months.

All five Whitlers together with all five Sustars and Aaron went to see “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” today. Stella slept the whole time and we all had fun. It’s a good movie and very faithful to the book. It’s almost a scene by scene match. The only thing it lacked was the thing I worried about it lacking. Much of the charm of the books is that C.S. Lewis’ voice is telling it to you. That whimsical style is kinda represented in the professor’s character and Mr. Beaver. But in the beginning of the book, the story doesn’t have much action but it’s ok cause you have this charming way of getting the set up through Lewis’ naration...the movie doesn’t have that. But it was very good and I would heartily recommend it.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the advent season this year. Aaron’s advent meditation in church this week was good. He shared about the joy of owning nothing. How much of our joy is stolen, ironically at this time of year, by the pursuit of material goods. He encouraged us with the joy of being rich in good works and poor in material things. The angels announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds who were living in the fields with good tidings of great joy. Who is living in the fields today that need an announcement of joy?

Delanora lives by the train tracks downtown. She is undernourished, embarrassed of her appearance and has a voice like an angel. She stands in front of the Brenden theater downtown and sings christmas songs. We were able to record her here at the church so that she could have a CD to sell. She’s trying to make money for a bus ticket home for christmas. If she ever needed tidings of comfort and joy, it’s now. Let’s do what we can.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thoughts from the day after...

The day after Thanksgiving is a holiday for many. People head out to the shopping mall or to the parade to jockey or position. It ‘s the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season (although we’d do well to shop[p throughout the year...not as painful on the wallet. We’ll learn one of these years). I heard on the news yesterday about how people were hurt in fights and overcrowding as the stores opened with their unbeatable deals.

There are many things wrong with the way we live out this season and all we can do is, loosely quoting Ghandi, “Be the change we want to see in the world.” So it’s probably good to not buy things made by corporations that enslave children to make their goods in celebration of Christ’s advent here. Simple handmade gifts are best I guess or “experiential” gifts like gift certificates to local shops and restaurants.

There are a few web sites and stores where you can buy things that help provide a sustainable life for people in the third world. Online stores like global exchange or the YWAMers in Thailand that help former prostitutes learn a trade like making candles and greeting cards to help them start a new life. There are many things we can do (with a little research and preparation) to make this season a little closer to being a “christian” experience.

The day after Thanksgiving, we went back to work as we had a whole van load of bread to deliver. We went to the motels and to the parks. It hit me in a new way that cultural holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, the way we classically think about them, are just not experienced the way we think of them being experienced by the poor.

Quiet time with family over a nice big meal or sharing presents with each other is a distant dream for so many. More than you think. Many more than you think. For the poor, these things are a major source of stress like no other time of year. These holidays remind them that they are not “normal”. We get desperate calls to the church for turkeys or help with presents as people look for any way to help their kids feel like the rest of us. One couple I talked to yesterday had sandwiches for Thanksgiving dinner, another man had to work, many more did not have anything.

Then there are the “working poor”...the ladies at the checkout at Wal-mart or the grocery store where the day after Thanksgiving is just another day at work. Economics is a funny thing. The Christmas season makes up so much of the corporate yearly profits and these corporations (like Wal-mart and Target) give people jobs...not great jobs mind you but usually just enough to keep them off the streets. I know a grandma that works at Target who lives in a motel and can’t get into a house with her income as she supports a daughter and grandchildren. I know another grandma who works at Wal-mart and lives in “low-income housing” and cannot afford a phone or a car. Wal-mart and Target are all these folks you can’t just say “no discount stores!” without sustainable alternatives. Who is stepping up to this plate?

And here I am in the middle of it all lost in a quagmire of thoughts and “well, but the other side of the coin is...”

The Roman church chose this time of year for the celebration of Christ’s advent not because it’s his birthday but because of the symbolism of the midwinter celebration. The days grow darker and shorter through the Fall, at midwinter that tide turns and the days get lighter and longer until summer. I can go along with was using an existing cultural celebration and infusing it with the gospel...the thing missionaries have done for thousands of years in “pre-christian” cultures. Why not just say “pagan”? Because people from every tribe, tongue and nation will be around the throne praising God.

It is my goal this season as I seek to live a christian life in America with integrity...

To make or buy as close as I can to socially conscious gifts for family and friends.

To remember the poor and encourage my poor friends to not feel like they have to measure up but to be content during the holidays with simpler celebrations.

To support other groups like the local Gospel Mission, Salvation Army and international groups like Compassion International or World Vision or Samaritan’s purse that help the poor feel included in the season.

To be kind and patient on the road, in the stores and with clerks.

To mark the dark days before advent during this holiday by meditating on expecting Christ, my only hope in Christ, joy at Christ’s appearance and the love that Christ has shed on my life. To celebrate Christ as the world’s Savior. He has become a light to this gentile. My people did not know God but a way has been made. Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Thanksgiving day is upon us and I am grateful to my friend Dave Skene who helped me see the importance of Gratitude itself. I am far from having this perspective with me all the time but any relationship with God must begin with gratitude. It’s our initial touch point with understanding our lives in relation to the divine. God is and he is good. He gave everyone life and for that we must be thankful. It’s something that we could not give ourselves. Even if our life is a train wreck, even if bad things happen...we’re still alive, we still have a chance, we cannot give this to ourselves. We can waste the gift, squander it, be ungrateful for it, complain about it, despair over it but through it all there is still the chance...the option to live it gratefully.

Of course, negative experience will come. We cannot be “happy” all the time. But where am I miserable? Where am I not content? Where am I impatient? Where am I not kind? Where have I lost sight? It is in those places that I am not grateful, that I am not remembering the most basic gift given to life. If all else fades, today...while it is still called today...I have the greatest gift I could ever have, another chance.

And so much more...

Pardon for sin
A peace that endureth
Thine own dear Presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine with ten-thousand beside

“Enter in His gates with thanksgiving...”

Monday, November 14, 2005


I had almost forgotten that it's not bad to take a break. To let up for a little while. Aaron mentioned going for an extended stay home this Christmas holiday as none of us have really taken a rest from our responsibilities at the the church for a while. You can rest physically and then there's the "all the way" rest. To get away. That's what this week has been for us. I'm so thankful to my family that opened up their home here in Oregon so that we could have a cheap, fun, restful vacation. What's funny is that we've done quite a bit. So far I've...

Seen 3 movies
Been late to my niece's concert (because of traffic) but the evening was salvaged at a nice gelato/esspresso shop
Read a 734 pg. book
Been for walks with my pipe
Had great talks...even a nice debate.
Went to the Oregon museum of Science and Industry
Impulsively went to a Geoff Moore/PHIL KEAGGY! concert (awesome! Phil Keaggy is from space.)
Had the best Indian food of my life...Chicken Vindaloo. Oh my has changed my life.
Journaled, studied and gotten farther on a personal product
Had Burgerville twice...mmm...Tillimook Cheesburger and sweet potato fries
Had some great time with family

This is the kind of rest that has sunk down into my bones and gives me new perspective for my responsibilities at home. I'm a grateful man.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Fast and Pray

I’m not impressed with the streets or “street life” anymore. Created long ago, way under those streets is God’s good earth. It was there first. The “street” is a facade and I will no longer be impressed with it’s culture, menace or power. It is false.

Too many of my friends are under the sway of the “streets”. They feel there is no escape. They feel powerless to get up out of it’s grasp on their lives and I am sick of it.

Isaiah wept this week, so overcome with grief over his life. He doesn’t know why he can’t just get up out of the park and get over it. But it is too overwhelming for him to imagine something else for his life. He wants to change and is scared to death of change. “This ain’t me” he says, “I know what I need to do but I can’t seem to do it.”

Pearl used to be involved in the life and outreach of a church. She’s hooked on drugs and prostitutes herself on 9th street. She says getting to where she is now was one little step at a time and doesn’t see the way back. We offered her our help but fear and addiction keep her where she is.

Patti has let CPS take her children because of her drug use. She is so far inside herself that it is impossible to get a real human response from her. She cannot stop. She is powerless in her addictions. There are so many layers over her heart that she doesn’t even know who she is anymore. She is Gollum. She is almost a non-being. Her room is filth. She is abused and abuses.

For so long, our attitude toward the poor has been to say, “well, they got themselves into this mess and that’s that...there’s nothing we can do.” Good thing Jesus didn’t say that about us. He didn’t help us problem solve our way out of hell. We can’t pull our bootstraps up that far! HE SET US FREE!

“This kind comes not out but by prayer and fasting.” The words of Jesus. How else do we expect it to work? How can we pray if we do not know? How can we know if we are not there? How can we be there if we do not go?

"The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.” Ez. 22:29-30

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Someone I knew

Rick was one of the first encouragements I had when I came to this valley to reach out. Back in 2001, I had come here to work but felt really alone. The only house we could afford was 30 minutes from the church here. I did work with other people but no one else was full time like me. I wondered why we had come here, what was our purpose?

In the first few weeks of outreach, I met Rick who was severely strung out on crank. Just a “hello” at first and some kind conversation. Then I discovered that he was a Christian who deeply felt conviction for his current lifestyle. He asked me to make him a tape of Christian music. He wept and prayed with me and my brother-in-law. We encouraged him to clean up and go to a recovery house.

When I next saw him, he had done just that and had relief and joy. He was dealing with his problems, working everyday, fellowshiping with believers...the difference was overwhelming. He was at that house for quite a while.

Then the recovery house closed down due to leadership issues and Rick fell off the wagon again. Back to living a homeless lifestyle, we would see him every now and then. He was always kind and friendly. The last time I saw Rick, he came to the bread truck again, broken and weeping and needing prayer and an ear. Aaron, Leah and I prayed with him and once again encouraged him to give recovery another chance. Another house had opened up in the neighborhood and he left us to go to their meeting.

Rick sent me a wonderful message through my Father-in-Law who regularly frequents this house to bring them donated food. He wanted to tell me that he was well and happy. He was right where he needed to be.

Last week, tragedy struck in Ricks family and in his despair he turned to drugs. He overdosed and died. The folks who run the recovery house say there’s no doubt where Rick is right now. Finally free of the addiction he desperately fought, he’s with the Lord and has no worry of where to lay his head down or what he will eat.

I am not responsible for Rick’s successes or failures. I am not the hero of this story. I did precious little but listen with other brothers and sisters and agree in prayer for Rick. I did not know him well. Christ knows Rick though. Through all the turmoil, failure and steps forward and back, Jesus carried Rick and knows him even now. His faithfulness is truly great.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Not a normal day

Just before we set out to give away our big load of bread yesterday, we had a prayer time. After prayer, I like to ask if anyone had felt any specific direction from God. One of the girls working with us said she felt God telling her that it was not going to be a normal day and added that she didn’t quite know what it means.

Typically on bread day, we go to the gospel mission and pick up their leftovers, have some friendly joking around with the guys working there. Then we go to a park in the airport district and distribute to 60 - 100 folks there. After that we go back to the mission to load up again and go to another park in the west side and give it away to about 30 - 50 people.

That’s what happened yesterday. In many ways, it was a normal day. I thought about this later on and wondered about Leah’s impression that is was not going to be a normal day. And I know God spoke to me...

It wasn’t a normal day because I got to meet and talk to Charles, an older gentleman who comes to the bread line. I’ve never spoken to him and he seemed to brighten just by having someone pay attention to him. It wasn’t normal because one of the men working at the mission treated me so kindly that it refreshed my heart. I got to help an elderly (and very cantankerous) lady find the closest thing I could find to a pie. I got to smile and encourage people. The poor, who are usually ignored, looked at with disdain or somehow locked out or expected to jump through hoops, got bread and a dessert for their family without any red tape. Neighbors thought about each other. God was with us all as we were all together.

It was not a normal day. God keeps his promises.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hard week

No miracles to report. Just the slow daily struggle to progress and see something, even just a little something, be better.

Last week, just two hours after a good friend got out of rehab, he chose “street” life again, not being able to handle the challenge of a changed life. Old habits do die hard. One councilor of mine likened it to water that runs on stone and for years it cuts a path until soon water flows down that path very easily. My friend needs a new stone.

Some kids we’re working with may have been taken from their mother down at the motes this week. Hopefully, CPS will work with us to let us stay in touch with them.

Our physical labor seems to never end. The property here is constantly springing leaks and messes pop up out of no where.


This morning is new and so is God’s mercy. There is good work to my hand to and good friends to do it with. There is provision and good food. There is a baby in my wife’s womb kicking and moving around with life that I could never give. There are two boys still asleep in their beds that make me laugh every day. There is never a lost hope as long as there is breath. The poor still need the dignity of being human. The homeless are my flesh and blood that I cannot turn away from. Healing and reconciliation are possible. Anthelono, a man who we share bread with, helped us start our van yesterday when it seemed we were gonna be stuck down on 9th St. A big youth group committed yesterday to serve our mission as their own and work with us at least once a month to refresh the heart of the poor and forgotten in Modesto. All I have and experience is from a grace too immense for me to understand. All I can do is be thankful.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Cds and Veggies

I had a very productive day, gardening and doing yard work gave me a nice Saturday rhythm. Except for one hiccup. In the middle of all that I decided to check my e-mail and various web interests when I get roped in by a pop-up window with an offer for a free new laptop. The promise was that if I try out just a couple of their promotions that they would give me a new laptop. Now, my brother in law has won a new laptop from the internet and gave it to me so I thought I’d give it a try.

I got lost in the longest survey ever, then I picked a couple of promotions, then they wanted me to do a couple more, then they wanted me to do 6 more! An hour later, I’m fuming and give up. Now I’m enrolled in stuff I didn’t really want to do, my productivity has dropped and I’m all stressed out.

You can’t get something for nothing...unless...

One redeeming moment yesterday happened in our church garden. We had planted cucumbers in one spot and they didn’t seem to take so we pulled up the dying plants and planted zucchini. This we watered like crazy. I was picking zucchini, feeling around for the best one when under the plant I noticed a weird looking zucchini. It was, in fact, a cucumber growing under the zucchini!

God’s order is so beautiful and full of joy! First, you know what you’re going to get. There is no hidden agenda. When you plant squash, you know that’s what’ll come up. And every once in a while there’s a nice surprise like cucumbers under the squash. A wild, wonderful order.

And if anybody wants 12 CD’s for the price of one I know of a good promotion going on. Grrrrr!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Condi? Part Deux

Just as a follow up...At that same visit to the bookstore I checked out the bargin bin. What was in there? A compilation of Keith Green's music coupled with an hour documentary of his life on DVD for $5.77! I got it and this last Tuesday showed the documentary to my youth group.

It's been too long since we've had a voice like his speaking to the church. When I say "like his" I mean, one who not only talks about the works of Christ but does them as well. I told the kids that maybe God doesn't want a big celebrity to be that voice. Keith was uncomfortable with celebrity in the first place. Maybe God wants us to be that voice and live that life.

Keith Green's intense search and passion for God is not some unattainable thing because he was so much holier than us. He was not. He was serious though. Serious about living the gospel, about pouring out his life and going as far as he could in taking the love of Jesus to a dying world.

Where is the musician so passionate about his message that he will just give it away? Where are the people who are willing to live life alongside the hurting and addicted? Who will stop promoting themselves and promote Jesus? Who will work tirelessly to see the church come alive and be what God wants it to be?

It's only gonna be us folks. Keith Green is dead.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Why is it that our local. big, christian bookstore does not have “No Compromise”, the biography of Keith Green or “An Arrow Pointing to Heaven”, the biography of Rich Mullins but they do have the biography of Condoleeza Rice? Boo.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

9th St.

She was lying on her filthy bed with her closest companions, her cats, milling about the room. A half empty bottle of cheap beer still in her hand as she lay passed out. It was an extremely hot central valley day but she wore a coat. She is mostly inside of herself when she’s awake but as I looked on her sleeping with her motel room door open and the window left wide I was glad she was having this moment of peace. Sleep is rest for the body and a troubled mind. I left the prepared bag of bread and pastries inside the door on a little cluttered table. We try to leave things we know she likes. I realized then that I am just one face in this window. I am here maybe twice a week but she is always here. The realities I see and break over are hers all the time whether I witness them or not.

There is another woman in this motel in a wheel chair. She has a big dog for friendship and safety. He’s quite protective of his mistress so I only see her for a brief minute each week. A knock, then boisterous barking, a shouting match between her and the dog, then the door opens and we hand her a bag of food (she prefers chocolate cookies), “God bless you, Evelyn.”, “Thank you , you too”. and that’s it. Just a face in her door bringing what I can.

This is not enough. More and more, we are being pulled down to 9th Street. We now schedule to go twice a week. But even beyond that we need to engage in real relationships here in the most forgotten place in our town. No lunch truck comes by here. No park for the kids to play. The traffic is fast down 9th. The motels are surrounded by auto shops, trailer parks and vacant lots. It is not a nice place to be. No grass, just unforgiving concrete and broken glass. The working girls walk up and down past the 7 year old girl who has been sent to the store to get something for her drug addicted mother.

Please pray for 9th Street. Pray for us. Pray that God would help us find more ways to engage this toxic neighborhood with his grace, forgiveness and love.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I like spam but this is ridiculous

How can you get Spam in your comments! Does anyone know how to stop this or edit it or anything!?! Sheesh.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Too much everything, so little time

This afternoon, Amie and I watched “Stand By Me”, a Rob Riener film written by Steven King. This film is a part of the cultural psyche. Who hasn’t seen it? Me, that’s who so we rented it. I loved it. One more notch on the pop-cultural belt.

I’ve started to read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Again, who hasn’t? Me. I don’t even know the story except that it has something to do with kids and a trial and racial tension and someone named Boo Radley. So I’m about to join the rest of you in knowing the story. I have purposefully not watched the classic movie so I can read it first.

But I missed my chance to read “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”...It’s just one of those things I’ll probably never do. I stopped reading “Les Miserables” because Amie and I got tickets to the play. “Big Fish” the novel is on my shelf because “Big Fish” the movie is in Aaron’s video collection.

Who are these people with the time to do all this stuff? There are so many things to do and experience sometimes I feel like I’m late on an assignment when the “no late fee” movie just sits on the counter and I’m not watching it cause there’s just so much to do! I leave books for weeks at a time...books that can be read at my leisure but every time I see them I get a little stressed cause I’m thinking about the next book I’ll read.

Then there’s this blogging thing (which I love) but if I haven’t gotten to it in a while I start to feel pressure. What’s my problem!?!

Then I learn that my whole youth group is addicted to something called “myspace” which is a web service I’ve yet to figure out but all the kids love it so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m so not digital though. I can fake it pretty good but I look at some of these “myspace” sites and I just get a headache. But I signed up...

Then there’s my brother-in-law who is a computer programer and he can be doing four things at once on two computer screens and sill have the presence of mind to chat with me online. Do you know what I do while I chat online? I sit and wait for the other persons response then I respond. One thing. That’s all I can do.

So with all this blogging and myspaceing and chatting and reading and watching to do...who the heck is doing anything else?

One of my favorite movies is “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” about St. Francis of Assisi with a kickin’ soundtrack by Donovan...Good ole “They call me mellow yellow” Donavan. One of the songs says “If you want to live life free, take your time go slowly, Do few things but do them well, heartfelt work grows purely. Day by day, stone by stone, build your secret slowly. Day by day, you’ll grow too, you'll know heaven’s glory.” Ahh. That sounds right.

You haven’t seen it? Where have you been?! Watch it! Watch it now!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Can't complain

Well, it’s back to the ole blogstone...

I’m not going to bore you with the crazy details of my work lately but suffice it to say, I haven’t had much computer time. Thank you for your patience and I appreciate the comments I have received from friends awaiting entries. Here we go...

We have moved. We now live in a church in our own apartments that we built! How cool is that?! We aren’t settled by any stretch but we are in and it is very satisfying.

I harvested about 100 tomatoes from our organic garden yesterday and gave them out with our normal load of bread at the parks. This was fun. We read in Psalms this week that God feeds the hungry and He lets me be a part of it!

Tuesday, we helped a church group throw a BBQ for an impoverished community in our town. They raised the funds and a dear brother from their church gave us a brand new propane grill to use from now on. It worked beautifully and we had an awesome time pouring grace out on 9th St.

We celebrated a meal with our formerly homeless friend, Dave. He has recently gotten a much needed surgery on his foot and things in a nasty custody case with his daughter are looking very positive. Anytime Dave gets good news, he does this little dance and sings “We’re going to Sizzler, we’re going to Sizzler!” so we took him to Sizzler.

Some missionary friends are back in town for a visit and had our family and friends over to their host home for supper.

My boys used their hard earned allowance to buy me a present today.

My life is dripping with grace.

Friday, June 17, 2005


So sorry folks...if you read Aaron's blog, I've got the same trouble. I'm trying to remodel our new apartment space to move in on the 25th while setting up to run a fundraiser fireworks stand and oh, we need to pack and paint and find the septic tank and install the cabinets and hook up the plumbing and pack our stuff and....

See you after July 4th!

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Once again, Jones Soda is proving to be my greatest spiritual advisor. Working this month on remdeling our church into more useful space...something we thought we would never be able to do...and the money is provided, after some talk, it seems approval from the city will not be so hard, friends keep showing up to help and bring items that will help...after all this I buy a bottle of soda and the cap reads...

"There is new hope for projects you had almost given up on."


Friday, May 13, 2005

Mad at Oprah

Oprah makes me mad. Not really “her” but what her show does. She just did a sensational (and by that I mean “hyped up” not “really awesome”) show about child molestation. On this show, she played recordings a pedophile made while watching children load up on a school bus. Did we need to hear this? We are all well aware that there are sick people in the world, do we have to participate in their depravity by hearing all the gory details. This has become “journalism”. Oprah is this great hero who is not afraid to confront the real issues and talk about them frankly. No way.

Oprah gets good ratings and more money playing off the fears of her audience. So do all the other talk shows and newscasts. We have a national obsession with how bad it can get. TV drama that continues to explore the dregs of how evil people can be, movies that have to shock more and more with how disgusting the serial killer is, and the media jumps on any bandwagon they can. There is a kind of sick fascination with other people’s misery...talking about the latest “horrible thing that happened”.

All of this, of course. leads us to justify a society that moves farther and farther away from each other. Gated communities, vigilantes at the border, a neighborhood protesting a homeless shelter, a city shutting down a recovery house or a church wondering about men that “look bad” being around the property all come from this fear that you just never know...

Well, of course you never know. I’m not advocating we stop being wise but the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, not our neighbor...and God says to love your neighbor as yourself. He also has a lot to say about welcoming a stranger into your home. welcoming the foreigner into your country and being good and fair to the poor in your community.

I’m not advocating that we pretend everything is sunny and nice either. Of course the world is messed up! What I’m talking about is our something nigh upon enjoying the horror. We can’t just hear that there was a shooting in the park, we have to see the blood on the concrete and the arm of the deceased sticking out from under the blanket. The camera is right in the face of a desperate, crying mother. How far will they go? As far as we keep asking them to go.

So let’s stop asking.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Books and Movies

Just spending a bit of the morning catching up on my friends posts and thought I’d add one myself.

Construction continues at the church. Most of the walls for the new apartments have been framed and I discovered on Saturday that it is really unnatural to hammer a nail into wood through a drop ceiling directly over your head while standing precariously on a ladder while having a bit of a weight problem.

I just finished “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis. This book has awakened me to joy in a way that I have not thought about for quite sometime. The way we hold on to pain and hurt and smallness when God has oceans full of fish to enjoy and infinite fields of starry light and things of which we could never dream. “Eye as not seen and ear has not heard...” I would highly recommend reading it.

Also, I finished a book called “Imprisoned In Iran” by Dan Bauman. This guy is a part of Youth With A Mission and is a friend of friends of mine. The title is pretty self explanatory ... an account of the time he was (who am I to make fun of quarterly news letter is called “From the Whitlers”). Like all “YWAM” books it’s not a literary masterpiece but it is a good story told with human honesty. I really appreciate the author’s willingness to not just tell a great missions victory story but he also includes his moments of great weakness too. A good read that renewed a desire to become familiar with more missionary biographies. But next on the list is a good ole’ Steven Lawhead fantasy novel that I bought with my birthday gift certificate.

I saw “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” last week and loved it. I’m ashamed of myself that I haven’t read it...there’s still hope but it’s not likely. Josh and Sam are still singing “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish”. They loved it too and I’m proud to have boys that catch absurd humor the way they do. Looking forward to “War of the Worlds” and “Episode 3”’s a good summer to be a geek! Also, “Kingdom of Heaven” looks promising. We may see it today which happily is a much needed day off.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Wow, has it really been since April 14?! Oh well, guess I shouldn't make fun of other friends that neglect entries for a while. Ok, go ahead and give it to me in the comments...I'll take it.

No excuse, just a reason...we're right in the middle of a major remodeling at our church to make housing for the YWAM families and other full time (or "mostly time")church workers. It's gonna be cool and nice to live right here at the church.

We'll be building all this month and a bit of the next. Pray for us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Part of a great company

I am Adam
Barefoot on the fresh Spring ground
Nothing but possibility in front of me

I am Moses
After freedom comes
The hard work of walking into the unknown

I am Joshua
Without my mentor
Fearful but determined

I am David
A reluctant leader
Full of poetry and fight

I am Jeremiah
Mourning for possibilities lost
Not giving up

I am Nehimiah
Making space to rally around
Not afraid to pick up a hammer

I am Joseph
Quietly accepting
That I can make a home for God's coming kingdom

I am Peter
Can't keep my mouth shut
For good or for ill

I am less than I want
I am more than I admit
I have a friendship with God

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Little is big.

When a group gathers at my house, we like to talk about big things...religion, philosophy, theology and politics and how they all relate to one another. There is much dissatisfaction with the way things are in America among my friends. Many of us are weary of not knowing who to believe in the media and political arenas. Some have given up voting, others feel it a moral obligation to vote but feel it makes no difference and still others are passionate with hope that we can make a difference. When I think about war, powers at work and the game of politics I get overwhelmed.

Our last heated discussion led me to think that America is just too dang big! There is this pressure to change make a difference on a national and global scale. To do something really huge. But in the end, I can’t do that. It’s too big. Most people don’t even have time to work for the end of an 8 hour work day, you just want to be home resting with your wife and kids. Poverty, war, violence, drugs, gangs, global sex slave industry, abuse of political power, corruption, hunger, aids crisis, the uneducated, street kids, orphans, religious persecution and a hundred other things fade into the realm of “someone else’s problem”. It’s so big and I’m so tired and I just want to be a good Dad or Mom or student or something...

Then I read this great article by Chris Haw in the Prism e-pistle. Here’s a piece of it...

“I cannot talk about big concepts such as "changing the world" or "making a difference" apart from the tiny, mundane and seemingly ineffective actions of helping others heal. In other words, I'm wondering if healing acts can be anything but small, loving, and personal. Leo Tolstoy rings through my head, competing with the cacophony of militarism, globalization, and the calls to somehow stop them altogether, crying out, "everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to change themselves."

He is part of a little house like ours in Camden, NJ. It’s a small group of people living together and trying to love a neighborhood. And I think, this is where it’s at. If we’re all doing something, what we can do, where we are at, the world will change.

Perhaps just a little extra effort and sacrifice...sposoring a child through world vision or compassion international, giving up a couple of hours in the week to volunteer at something, supporting a missionary or heck, a career change and being a missionary! Maybe you can’t be president but you can be on city council or go to the meetings and speak up. You may not be able to change the plight of the poor third world farmer but you can grow your own garden or shop the farmers market or buy coffee fairly traded (they sell it now on the internet, save mart and starbucks...look for “fair-trade certified”). You may not be able to change the environment but you can recycle and compost and buy in bulk and waste less. You may not be able to close sweat shops but you can look for union made labels or shop at the thrift store first.

Little, done by a lot of people, turns into big. Changing yourself changes the world.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


I’ve got to stop getting life changing advise from soda bottle caps! If you will recall, my first journal entry on the old site was about a soda bottle cap telling me to start a I did. I started this fine web journal that I love doing...although, I must admit that I feel a lot of pressure to post but not so much anymore since my friends, Aaron, Terry, Aimee and Jaime don’t feel the need to post at all lately.

Last week, we watched “Riding Giants” a good film by Stacy Peralta (of Dogtown and Z-boys). It’s about big wave surfing and the men who pioneered Anyhoo...I would recommend it. It’s a fun documentary. The question I ask when I watch these “extreme sports” people is if I am missing a bit of what they have? What is this element that makes people want to try the seemingly impossible? I don’t think I have that piece. Or do I?

One of the stories is of a kid who noticed big, 30 foot waves breaking off the coast of Half Moon Bay, California. He loved surfing and had never tried surfing big waves. He tried to get a friend to go along but no one would try it with him. So he paddled for 45 minutes and surfed these monsters in treacherous, cold water. He did this all by himself for 15 years until the big wave surfing community found out.

What a challenge! If these guys can be that passionate about surfing, how many more other, more important issues in the world are there to lose your life pursuing. Some people actually die surfing these big waves. How much more is there to die for?

The call to follow Christ is a call to death. To lay down your life for your friends. Another thing that struck me about these guys is their willingness to die rescuing one another from a bad wipe out. But our laying down our lives can include but does not always mean actual death. I must lay down my life...lay down what I want to do and the things I feel important to serve the needs of others.

I felt such a challenge by this film that I wanted to show it to our little youth group. We talked afterward about what we want to do with our life and what we want to try that seems impossible. Several shared in the group and most shared one on one after. We talked about risk and dreams and reaching out for the impossible. Then Charlie bought me a soda from the grocery across the street, on the cap it reads, “Without risk there can be no pleasure.” What a wise little bottle cap. Someone told me once that faith = risk. As the song writer said, “If my reach doesn’t go beyond my grasp, then what’s a Heaven for and for what do I ask?”

The best inheritance I can leave my boys is to live a life of faith and watch God come through for us in ways we would have never guessed unless we took the risk of trusting Him. We do have that bit in us, we all do. The part that can look at the impossible and if you take the chance, have the ride of your life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The body of Christ

Our Easter service was one of my top three ever experienced. The first was the Easter that Amie and I decided not to go to church. We didn’t buy new clothes or lots of candy. It was our first year being married and we were living in christian community on a YWAM campus. We slept in, went to Pizza Hut and talked about Christ together.

The second was two years ago when our church joined a larger congregation for Easter in our building. Aaron and I decided not to go to church but go up on New Hope’s roof, listen to Andrew Peterson’s song “Rise and Shine” then we bought donuts and coffee and went to the park to bring Easter to the homeless.

This year, a new Christian in our body had the idea to have a sunrise service. The church leadership complied and many were afraid that no one would show up. One of the homeless guys in our congregation thought it would be nice to have a fire to gather around in the parking lot...he even found wood and cut it up so I brought over my fire bowl. At 5:45am, our little congregation gathered around the fire...most everybody came. We sang songs around the fire as the sun came up and affirmed our faith by reading the Apostle’s Creed together. We went inside for pastor Ken’s retelling of the Easter story and then we shared a breakfast together.

Here is this church that has some disfunction but the blue collar workers find grace and encouragement, the disabled are cared for, the elderly are affirmed, the homeless and cast down are welcomed in, the young leaders are released, the leadership is open minded and willing to change, the property is shared and made available, discipleship is pursued and true community, while not quite there, is developing.

How could I ask for more. I am grateful.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Boo on me....

It's one of those times again...I haven't really sat at my computer for two weeks. Have patience with me. I'll post soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Get on with it.

Sorry no posty in a long timey...I can’t find as much time to write here in Mo-town as I do when I’m away. It’s been good to be back though, just getting on with living life together with our friends. I had a great talk with my brother in law, Randy, in Kentucky. He’s been a worship pastor at a big ole church for quite some time.

I’ve often wondered what life would be like for him...just being in the church and solely working on music. He talked to me about the days he gets to be on call for hospital and funeral home visits. He told me they have become his favorite days of the week cause he gets the privilege of holding someone's hand while their child dies or can pray with someone who is facing cancer or can comfort someone that has just lost a loved one. His challenge to me...let’s get on with it! If we are not being Jesus to the world today in some way, the day is wasted cause that’s the only reason we’re still here. The scripture says in Ephesians 1 that the church is the full expression of Christ in the world...expressing Jesus’ nature to fill every part of everthing (or all in all as the Bible says).

He told me those days bring depth to the other part of his job. And what are we all waiting for? Are we waiting to become perfect christians before we step out? This attitude seems humble but it is really a cop out. Randy’s words...Who do we think we are? Let’s just do a little Bible study on how many people God took away their temptations and struggles so they could feel better about themselves and then be able to minister. You won’t find anyone. In fact, God says His strength is made perfect in weakness...he LIKES it that way. That way he shows himself strong and no one will be able to doubt that it was God who touched them or moved because the and no way could pull off something like God when he works. All else if flashy, emotional string pulling. There are a few shysters who can make people emotional. But there is no substitute for God moving unexpectedly through a weak, willing, humble person.

Stop waiting. Let’s get on with it.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Older entries

Just FYI, you can read older entries at my old blog...

Rooms and hearts

When we came home from Kentucky,it was to a warm welcome by dear friends. We got home Saturday night and my official “I should start watching what I’m eating” began right after the burrito from “Taco’s Jessica #2” down by the bus 10:30pm. On our way back to our house, Jimmy and Aaron drove by the church to drop something off for a friend. They asked me to come upstairs and I protested that I was tired and just wanted to eat then sleep. Well, they finally got me up the stairs and revealed a brand new office they had fixed up for us!

New Hope has been so welcoming to us and the work we want to do, taking it on as their own. Free office space has been part of that. Our office has always been kinda cluttery and rushed. A “for now” kind of office. As in, “oh, just put that there for now.” Two years later, it’s still there.

The walls were painted, the room is ordered, everything is warm and comfortable and useful. There is artwork, a mini-recording studio set up, a nice computer area, a nice place to meet and pray. So much better! It’s amazing how being in an ordered space makes you feel so much better. Mom was right. A room is better when it’s clean and cleaned well.

On Sunday morning, Josh led worship and one of the songs he chose was “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me...” It made me think about the office. It was cleaned and order and rightness restored and it made things so much better. Why are we afraid to let God do this with our life? To have our heart be clean, living and beating it’s intended purpose, to love God and others...what a gift.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Kentucky Fat

It's a good thing I don't live in Kentucky. There's so much good food here and none of it is good for you! Now mind you, I find my share of bad food out west...I'm going on a serious diet when I get home but only after I have a sweet burrito from the taco trucks! If you've never had a burrito from the taco trucks, put it on your list of things to do before you die. Carne Asada...pocito beans and rice, salsa, cilantro, cheese and sour cream...mmmmmm!

But back to Kentucky. I've been in Owensboro, a town famous for it's particular style of BBQ. There is a resturant here with an all BBQ buffet...beef, pork, chicken, mutton...MUTTON! There's pictures of Bill Clinton on the wall when he came to visit. You know it's good and awful for you if Bill Clinton likes it! To say nothing of sweet's everywhere and so addicting and there's the Cracker Barrel, White Castle, Skyline Chili...all with various combinations of prepareing meat and starch and potatoes and deep fried everything! I gotta get outta here! HELP!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Only one life...

One week ago we sold all the things left over from my parent's 40 years of living on Southcrest Drive in Louisville, Kentucky. So many people came to the sale! People were in the yard at 6am with flashlights looking through all that we had set out the night before. When we finally opened the door to the house, people flooded in, rumageing through everything. They cleared most of the attic, basemnt and cellar storage. Dad's house has always been full of paintings, frames, books, lamps, nic-naks, exotic stuff, tapestries and just plain junk that caught his eye at the thrift store. My Dad loves to find overlooked treasures but his heart was never to resell any of it...he just liked strange, old things. Now, he would talk of how much something was "worth" or play with ideas of running his own antique store but he was never really serious.

These people picking through this stuff had the glint of the addict in their eyes...jittery and compulsively going over and back over every little thing. It was wierd. $3,000 in sales later, we started giving stuff away. That's when the diggers came...looking through the picked over piles and through our construction dumpster we had rented for all the unsellable junk. Then, just yesturday, the Salvation army came to take what was left and still useful...bags and bags of books.

The day of the sale was sunny and went by quickly but it had been rainy the days before so the ground was a bit muddy. While helping one customer out with a bigger item he had purchased, my eye caught a little something trampled in the mud. It was a small, woven bookmark my Mother kept in her Bible. I picked it up, wiped it off and straightened it out...

"Only one life, 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last."

I put it in my pocket and now it's in my Bible. My Dad has let go of a lot to make his recent move. And it has been quite a load off to be rid of all that stuff. We've saved a few things but what will really be remembered of all our lives? That we had cool stuff? That we made lots of money? Of course not. It will be love, laughter, shared grief, prayers, humility, time spent, each embrace, songs, stories, pictures, words of encouragement and challenge, meals, sacrifice and generosity.

This is my inheritance, I pray I spend it well.