Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sam's art

Sam's depiction of an apple being murdered.

Living in the Story - Lent #4

"Truly I say to you that tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you (scholars and leaders). For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him."

This is found in the gospel of Matthew. Matthew had previously been a tax collector so I find it beautiful that he vividly remembered Jesus saying this specific thing. It would have been a moment he held on to the rest of his life.

Having grown up in church and mostly avoided the pitfalls of "public sin", it's easy to keep myself out of the "tax collector and prostitute" category. Do I hold others at bay? Do I keep myself in a "higher" category? Am I beyond all this?

Where have I sold myself? When have I given away something precious for temporal comfort? When have I sacrificed my humanity for things? When has my heart strayed?

Along with the rest, I can only beat my chest and say, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Please help!

This letter was sent to me by friends with Compasio working on the Thai/Burmese border...please read, pray and help if you can...

Subject: Prison Baby Campaign

Hi Friends,

I just wanted to let you know about an immediate and urgent need that came up here in Mae Sot with Compasio!

A couple weeks ago when Sia was taking some of our children to visit their parents in jail, one of the prison guards approached her and asked why the children were with her. She explained that we have a safe house for children that have been abused, neglected, abandoned or were at risk and formerly living on the streets. Some prison officials were very interested and said, we have some babies here that were born in the prison, can you take them too?

Well we are faced with a dilemma, we were asked to help children, that are obviously in a bad situation, surrounded by criminals, and they have never even seen the outside world. But we do not have a place or staff at the moment to meet this need. We were told that we had until the 5th of March, and then to come pick up the toddlers if we wanted to help. There are five babies from ages 2-3, three boys and two girls. What will we do? Well our motto has always been, Risk on the side of love. And we're believing in faith that the needs will be met and taken care of. We've said Yes, okay, we'll take them!!!

The challenge is this: We have 10 days to find a home, caregivers, and funding to take care of these five toddlers!

Please pray for us to find safe loving staff to care for the children, for us to find a house to rent, get it cleaned, stocked and prepared with diapers, beds, and bottles.

Look for more information on our Website: over the next few days, and to donate to this cause specify that your donation is for: The Prison Babies Project.

Thank you!
Compasio, Mae Sot

Living in the Story - Lent #3, 2009

"And when He had taken the cup and given thanks, He said, 'Take this and share it among yourselves...'"

Before the proclamation of "this is my blood" it was just a cup...a cup of wine at a holiday meal. Before "communion", they just drank together, ate together.

That mystical connection between spirit and physical, the ritual of remembrance, the symbolic sacrament, the sacred started with a group of friends sitting around a table sharing a drink and a meal.

First we walk and learn together. Then we simply eat together. And it's a mystery how but at some point, our sharing life becomes more than is communion.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Global Youth Network

We partner with a Canadian organization called Global Youth Network. Every year they bring a batch of young leaders to Modesto for a week of outreach and training...which really means they hang out with us and do what we do with us. We love Global teams! Here's some pictures from the week...some from my phone and others from the team...

Day #1 - The obligatory touristy day in the city...Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Sunset over the ocean and awesome curry!

Day #2 - Church in the morning and a tour of Modesto and where we work for orientation.

Day #3 - the team spent the whole day downtown with no money, food or resources. They had to rely solely on homeless people to find out where to go for food. They ended up making some really good friends.

Day #4 - We spent the morning with Advancing Vibrant Communities hearing about their work and then we went and did a project with them...chopping and stacking wood for an elderly lady and her daughter...

...then we barbecued for the South 9th St. community...

This team dug in to our heart to make friends and let relationship and compassion lead the way.

Day #5 - Yosemite!


Day #6 - We went back to 9th St and reconnected with friends from earlier in the week...

These guys were more than just another team...they dove into our heart for people and became friends and co-workers. We even dreamed together about the future. Yay team!

And I think we wore them out a bit.

Living in the Story - Lent #2, 2009

Many Christians observe some kind of fast during the season of Lent. Traditionally it is a giving up of meat and flour to eat only vegetables and fruit or nothing at all. It is a way to identify with Christ and his 40 days of fasting in the desert. To take time away from our normal life and devote ourselves to an intentional season of prayer.

These days, people fast from all kinds of things...TV, the Internet, caffeine, etc. A common question around this season is "What are you giving up for Lent?"...I even saw it among my facebook friends last night. While this can be fun to talk about and hear what creative ideas people have it's not so much a "what" as it is an issue of time. Giving ourselves time to hear from God and to pray.

Don't we always want to do that? Of course but there is something to intentional seasons. I always want to be a good husband but that doesn't hinder me from making special "date nights" or weekends away with Amie.

When you feel the hunger pains, thirst, heavy eyelids, craving, emptiness, boredom or lack of some comfort, don't just endure, let it drive you to Jesus to be comforted with his presence. Let it remind you of your need for him that is at the heart of every need. Let's let him fill us up from the inside out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Living in the story - Ash Wednesday, 2009

One of the things I appreciate about the perspective of liturgical churches is the way they celebrate seasons. More than hollow ritual, these seasons, if approached with grace, humility and even, in my opinion, a touch of humor, can go a long way to remind us of what's important.

Lent is a period of re-commitment to spiritual discipline, reflection and prayer in the days leading up to the celebration of the resurrection. A pet peeve of mine is when we use the word "myth" to describe something that's not true. Myth is something that's truer than what we see and these seasons in the liturgy are traditions that help us live inside the myth of Christ.

As we read and reflect on his story, it lays over our story and we begin to experience Jesus, the gospel and the spiritual life (which is our whole life) in deeper ways. These are more than just stories that happened in history...they are that, of course...that's why Tolkien referred to the gospel as the "true myth" of Christ. They are stories that we can live inside.

This season, as we near the resurrection celebration, let's walk with Jesus and watch his miracles. As we see him make water into wine, maybe we'll notice when he takes our plain existence and turns it to celebration and joy. When he raises Jarius' daughter, perhaps we will hear him tell us to get up and live. When he clears the temple, perhaps we can sense those things in us that have kept us from prayer and let him deal with them.

This morning, the sun came up behind dark rain clouds here in the valley. As it got brighter, the clouds dispersed and a clean, fresh sky poured in from the west. That's like Jesus. We are in his story and that changes everything.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Club Awesome!

We didn't mean to start a kids just kinda happened. The kids were there at the motel every week and we knew we should hang out with them somehow. We started taking side walk chalk and games, then we bought a Bible story book, some snacks and it was all over from there. It's such a privilege to hang out with these guys through the weeks. Here's a couple of shots too great not to share...

Monique and a puppy.

Selena...I love the t-shirt : )

Junior helping make the hot dogs.


Anastasia, hot dog and actual dog.

Lisa has her own, special personality : )!

Jeremiah, trying to figure out how to catch fish.



These aren't all the kids but please pray for these, their families and all the kids from "Club Awesome"...he has a unique destiny for each one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ok, last time but go see Andrew Peterson!

This is Josh (my son) and Andrew Peterson at last night's concert near Fresno...he signed Josh's copy of "On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness", Andrew's first novel that Josh is reading. We had a great time...Andrew sang every song from his new album "Resurrection Letters, Vol. 2" and told the stories behind them. If you have not heard of Andrew Peterson, you would do well to get to know his stuff...great stories and perspective on scripture and how we all fit into Jesus' story.

If you're in the Northern California area, you can catch him Wednesday night near Sacramento here...

Cameron Park, CA
Wednesday, February 11th

Venue: Church of the Foothills
2380 Merrychase Dr.
Cameron Park, CA 95682 Google map link

Doors Open: 7:00 PM
Concert Starts: 7:00 PM

For more information call 530.677.3057 or go to

And here's a great video of the opening song of the show (if you're reading this on facebook, you have to click "view original post" to see this in my real blog)...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

South 9th St. Barista

We take coffee out to S. 9th St. every Friday...I think I mentioned that was Arlie's idea. So people come now and sit to enjoy something hot and some company. Everyone's favorite is something called a "Cadillac" that I think was started by another group of ladies that comes down scoop of coffee, two scoops of hot chocolate, one cream, one sugar.

This is Amy, she lives near S. 9th in a trailer park. She stayed with us all day and pitched in to help make coffee. She was so awesome! Undeniable service with a smile.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Somewhere Green

We don't know him that well but we're becoming fast friends. We met him on South 9th St. at a barbeque we were throwing with a bunch of Canadians. He doesn't really have any where or any one. He loves to sit and talk...mostly about fishing. He told us his world is noise and concrete and he hadn't been anywhere green in a long time. This is where we went to soak up the quiet, talk about fishing, tell our stories and just be in a place that's not concrete and noise. A great day.

Arlie went too. He jumped in. He said it was pretty February!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


He is alone, in despair, bound by chains of which he will not let go

He is taken advantage of, almost helpless, fallen through the cracks

He played piano, had good work, never seemed to fit

He is unkempt, uncared for, written off

He wants to live, he craves friendship, he is not beyond hope

Please, pray for James.

this sign posted by Jimmy after spending a day helping James clean his apartment