Monday, September 25, 2006

Our 4th BBQ

A great BBQ yesterday (which was Sunday, Sept. 24). We had about 150 folks out to our church from the downtown community and we all enjoyed a delicious tri-tip meal together. For you easterners, tri-tip is an excellent little cut of beef sort of in the shape of a triangle that everybody uses out here (especially our lovely taco trucks...mmmmm!). What I love about this annual event is how much more “family” oriented is has become. It was virtually stress free.

Every year, we shuttle our homeless friends from downtown out to the church. Last year a local car dealer provided us with big vans to do it. That fell through this year and nothing else surfaced no matter how hard we tried to find something. In the end, we felt convinced that we just give the problem to God, so we did and the body of Christ came through with plenty of donated vehicles.

Also, we had a bunch of ice donated from our local icery...whatever they’re called but we were not aware that we had to get it at a certain time. We were too late. Again, no panic, just go with it. My friend Josh and I went up to the supermarket and the manager just gave us 140 lbs. for free! So awesome.

The first year was all about the event and it went great. The next year was about political action and from that came the salvation army shelter at 9th and D. last year was really small as we planned our event on the same day as the now defunct “international festival”. This year was just right...a good group of people happy to be together, sharing music, food, scripture, prayer and fun. That’s the kind of stuff I love to be a part of.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thank you

It’s been a week since Stella’s surgery. Last Wednesday and Thursday were the longest days of our life so far...especially the time that the surgeon had our girl. We have had a lot of grace on us. Stella did fine. Her mouth is healing and her pain is decreasing. We have another few doctor’s visits coming up to check her progress.

Thank you, friends, for your prayers, help with our boys, help with food and kind, encouraging words. Nothing can compare to the support of God’s family in times of trouble.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Grab Bag

Family Photo - Well, this one’s pretty good. We had a hard time getting all of us to look at the camera with appropriate looks on our face but I think we did ok. Our digital camera is not the greatest. I always go for the cheaper version and then get mad at myself later. Grrr.

Youth Evangelism - Our youth group, along with 6 other area youth groups and Youth For Christ, hosted a youth evangelism training day this past Saturday. It was great! We had about 80 student leaders come out for a day of training and fun with YFC’s own Fred Lynch...formerly of PID!!!! You know...PID...Preachers In Disguise! The late 80’s and early 90’s groundbreaking Christian rap group. He was a great communicator and he still raps...he’s working on “The Epic” which is a rap translation of the whole gospel of John...chapter for chapter, verse for verse. He did some of it and it was, in this non-rap liking, white guy’s opinion, awesome.

Newly Homeless - Our friend, who has been comfortably and cleanly living in his sister’s back yard in a small camper surrounded by a tall, private fence was kicked out of his trailer by our city’s government a few weeks ago. Here we are with one of the highest percentages of homelessness in the Western U.S. and we choose to put another person out on the streets. Modesto would rather him be homeless than safe. What a solution, eh? He’s sleeping where ever he can find a place instead of in his own bed. Let’s here it for beurocracy!

Stella - our baby’s surgery is coming up this Thursday. We are trusting and stressed all at once. Please pray for her.

Jury Duty - I waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited. And then they sent me home. The parties reached a settlement. Hooray. They do make jurors as comfy as possible...internet connected computers, free phones, snack bar, cable TV going and a quiet room to read in. I got a lot of reading done.

MAI - I finally finished a book today I’ve been working my way through for a while called “Multiplying Salt and Light”’s the story of the development of CHE (Community Health Evangelism), an integrated approach to medical missions focusing on prevention of disease and disciplining individuals to take ownership of their own solutions while sharing the gospel. Some really good stuff and the sole strategy of Medical Ambassadors International, a global mission based right here in Modesto.

9/11 - Today is September 11. I don’t really know how to mark this day in my internal self yet. Right now, we are letting the media take the lead in how to treat this day and I don’t think I really like that as so much of what they do is divisive and ratings/money centered.

And the war continues as many confusing voices and so much loss. It’s overwhelming to try to take it all in.

A soldier who just came back from Iraq was at our church on Sunday. Our congregation thanked him for his service. His parents and wife are so happy he’s home safe. Thank God.

Amie heard a story on TV about a woman who lost her husband on 9/11 and is now raising money to help the poorer than poor women of Afghanistan who have lost their families. That’s all the way forgiveness. It’s beautiful. It reminds me of Jesus.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The city is a clique

Amie and I just spent a day in San Francisco under the gracious hospitality of our fellow YWAMers there. We had to go in for some testing for Stella prior to her surgery (which is next Thursday the 14th). She was a trooper and we had some fun there too. Good curry...mmmm!

But I noticed something about cities. If you are an outsider, it can be like entering into a clique. You know what i mean? A group of people that all know each other and what’s going on. They do not have a lot of patience for outsiders...people who do not know their ways. Figuring out the transit system was a hoot! We rode in on BART and used MUNI to get around. Wow, quite the adventure.

At one point we got on the wrong train and realized it after about 10 minutes but then the driver just stopped the train in the middle of an unknown part of the city and made all of us get off without explanation then he took off in the opposite direction leaving us all on our own! Even the locals were stupefied!

A kind/gruff woman at the same time helped us find our way to the right train. In fact, every time we came up to something we didn’t know how to do, there was a bit of frustration and then a kind soul would reach out to us and help us on our way. Just like in any group of friends there is usually someone who is watching the periphery to see if there’s someone else that can be included and tries to make the new comer feel welcome...that’s usually the case... I hope I’m that for others. And then there’s the group that is just full of jerks...which can happen and at that point, they all deserve each other.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

An old-fashioned burnin'

This past week, a good friend of mine did a courageous thing. He dealt ruthlessly with things in his life causing him to toy around with sin. In 2 Chronicles, King Hezekiah did a similar thing in Judah. He took all the objects of false worship and tore them down throughout his country. That’s what my friend did.

In these times it might be funny to think about those days around campfires with the youth group and everyone throwing in their rock and roll tapes and LPs but this was not an emotional response of fear. This was a calculated obedience. It was such a privilege to be there and a challenge.

Is there anything unhealthy that I am holding on to?

“...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrew 12:1

This is in the abstract and in the actual...throw off every THING that hinders AND the sin. Our junky attitudes and stuff have got to go if we’re going to get on with real life.

Friday, September 01, 2006


It is precisely the illusion that mechanical progress means human improvement that alienates us from our own being and our own reality. It is precisely because we are convinced that our life, as such, is better if we have a better car, a better TV set, better toothpaste, etc., that we condemn and destroy our own reality and the reality of our natural resources. Technology was made for man, not man for technology. In losing touch with being and thus with God, we have fallen into a senseless idolatry of production and consumption for their own sakes. We have renounced the act of being and plunged ourselves into process for it's own sake. We no longer know how to live, and because we cannot accept life in it's reality, life ceases to be a joy and becomes an affliction. And we even go so far as to blame God for it! The evil in the world is all our own making, and it proceeds entirely from our ruthless, senseless, wasteful, destructive, and suicidal neglect of our own being.

Thomas Merton