Saturday, April 25, 2009

People from Fresno rock!

Over Easter break we hosted a team from Fresno...the youth pastor had a great idea for a mission trip. Instead of going abroad, they came to Modesto (2 hours away) and spent 3 days with us...learning how we reach out in our valley city. Then they went home to Fresno and implemented what they learned from us in their own valley city for the rest of the week.

This was one of our best high school teams...very eager to learn, jump in and go for it. This picture is them serving food on south 9th St. in the rain. Not one complaint and lots of laughs. Laughter and rain cleaned 9th Street a bit...and we had some great burger dogs (we got a donation of hot dog shaped burgers...weird and really good)!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Living in the Story - Lent #40, 2009

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' " (Mark 16)

No commentary to add...just "Amen and Hallelujah!"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Living in the Story - Lent #39, 2009

"...the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle." (John 19)

The link below is to a good article about a great song for Easter time over at the Rabbit Room. Click the link and scroll to the bottom of the article to listen...happy Good Friday!

High Noon - CLICK HERE

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Living in the Story - Lent #38, 2009

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4)

"As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." (John 20)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Living in the Story - Lent #37, 2009

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."

They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"

Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?"

Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you." (Matt 26)

Our friend John from Canada is touring his show "Alive - the Easter Report" around our area. I was with him for two performances today (4 more to go) and this passage is included in the presentation. In his inflection, he highlights the fact that Judas calls Jesus "Rabbi" which means "teacher" and not "Lord". That's an interesting nuance.

Is Jesus just a giver of good advice? Is he only a great man? Good teacher? Does he just have good things to say about peace and love?

Or is he Lord? Have you given yourself to him? Have you thrown in your lot and put your future and plans and hopes all on him?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Living in the Story - Lent #36, 2009

Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?"

Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."

Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."

Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!" (John 13)

Our mighty declarations, the things we know we can do, our proud work, our plans, procedures and programs have to fail in order for Jesus to do his greater work. Then, broken and humble, we can follow. He ALWAYS has something different, better and more complete in mind.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Living in the Story - Lent #35, 2009

"You will always have the poor among you..." (John 12)

This verse has been used as our excuse to not engage the poor. That is wrong. That is not why Jesus said this. This was a response to Judas' false concern for the poor. Jesus was setting him straight. He did not say this to excuse us for all of time from considering, befriending and being with poor people. In fact, part of his point was that we would have plenty of time to be with the poor.

Tonight, I was with a group of young people that are getting it. They are going to be church leaders, mayors, business people, parents and a whole host of possibilities. But I know that whatever they do, they will remember the poor and that gives me great hope. We can get it right too.

No excuses, no false concern...we can do it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


This is Amie's recent entry in the choreographer's showcase at Modesto Junior College. This was Amie's first year to just focus on the movement and not actually be in the dance. She did a great job with these's so fun to see her in the creative process and I love the finished product. Enjoy! (If you're reading this in facebook, glonk on "view original post")

Living in the Story - Lent #34, 2009

"...many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him." (John 11)

Two weeks ago, at a local high school, after a year of prayer, some friends from our local youth pastors network working with students from the Christian club at the school hosted a week of evangelism meetings. Rough estimates report 1300 kids attending the meetings and at least 45 giving their life to Christ.

Friends introducing their friends to Jesus still works. Who do you know that needs to hear about, see and encounter Jesus? Why not just talk to them about it?

Pray for opportunity. Look for the door to open. Humbly be yourself. Share Jesus.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Living in the Story - Lent #33, 2009

"...Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, 'Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.' And in that place many believed in Jesus." (John 10)

The gospel readings this year during Lent have focused quite a lot on those stories where the people get so mad at Jesus they want to stone him or throw him off a cliff or plot to kill him. I don't think I realized how often this happened. There are so many places where Jesus just isn't welcome.

I loved this scripture...having just been persecuted with death threats, Jesus goes back to a place he had been "in the early days."

Jimmy, Arlie and I hiked the river trail today to look for homeless camps. We were looking for someone in particular but being down there made me remember the early days when Aaron and I had no clue what we were doing. We were banking our whole lives on the fact that friendship is the thing that makes a difference in the lives of the poor. We used to go down with snacks or cold water and soda, we'd take information and sit and talk with people. We would be and do what we could. Here now, years later it seems that God is bringing us back to that...but not in a "going back" kind of way...more like going forward toward completeness.

Remember your first love? Do you remember when you first fell in love with Jesus? Do you remember the electric air and bursting heart entering a whole new world? Do you remember wanting to soak it all up? Do you remember how clear his voice was? Prayer was spontaneous, worship infused with life...repentance brought joy. Was there ever a time when evangelism wasn't a chore or something to feel guilty about?

Let's return.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Living in the Story - Lent #32, 2009

"If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me." (John 8)

There is a great talk by author Donald Miller (you can find it here) about stories. In a nut shell, he says that the things that make good stories also make good lives...we are co-authoring our lives along with God.

As I read Christ's words this morning, they made me remember a part of that talk. One of Donald's points is that no hero of any story can think that he is better than others. Jesus was accused of arrogance and exalting himself, and the world, even his own students, didn't understand that he came to serve. He left the Glory up to his Father. Jesus was and is very secure.

I love Dean Sherman's definition of Biblical humility..."an honest evaluation of the way things are." If I play the guitar well, it is not humble to say that I don't. If someone thanks me for a job well done, it is not humble to say, "no, no, I give the glory to God." while pointing up to the sky. If I screw up, it's not humble to spin a bunch of excuses..."I'm sorry, please forgive me" will do.

Today, how can we be more like Jesus? We can speak matter-of-factly, with no dramatic exaggeration or arrogance. We can be ok with the good gifts he's given us. We can leave the glory to God. We can live grateful lives.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Living in the Story - Lent #31, 2009

"...if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8)

"He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners..." (Luke 4)

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
(2 Cor 3)

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." (Gal 5)

"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence."
(Eph 3)

"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom..."
(James 2)