Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm the cat.

This is Aaron and Bucket. Bucket is one of the last of our wild cats at the church. Bucket has lived most of his life outside hunting for his own food and living by pure instinct. He's always fearful and on edge. His life is pure survival. Aaron has been working with Bucket, being very careful, keeping his distance and slowly, over time, getting the cat to trust him enough to eat out of his hand.

When I snapped this picture I was thinking about being on South 9th Street. We go there on Friday mornings bringing food, cold drinks, chairs in the shade and the offer of friendship. The culture there is so paranoid that it takes a long time of being there to develop trust.

But tonight, sitting with my family and some friends from church over a meal I thought of this picture again. I thought about the long faithful pull of God in my life leading me through darkness and fear and continuing to offer grace, provision and patient love. I thought about how God bides his time and doesn't get antsy or worried. How his slowness is from patience not willing for anyone to perish.

I realized that I am the cat. I don't trust God. I am afraid of how life moves. I take what I can get while I can get it because I am afraid it won't be there tomorrow. I live in a kind of soul-survival mode. I get by. I lay down with one eye alert and waiting for something to go wrong.

But there is God, crouched at a distance with a handful of good food and purity in his intentions. If I only knew that I could rest and trust and receive. If I only knew that there is a life beyond survival, that I could be near him and happy.

He doesn't give up. He waits and knows how much I can handle and probably chuckles a little at my protests at his kindness.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..." 1 John 4:18

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Umm...there's this...?

A contemplative intersession exercise...

I've been exploring contemplative prayer and I want to share a little exercise here. Different than the list/request style of prayer that I was raised with (and, of course, has it's place)..."God please do this and this and also this," contemplation teaches us to carry prayer with us in our heart in specified times of quiet and through the mundane movements of the day. It may sound a little more "spooky" than it really is.

And of course, intersession is a kind of prayer offered on behalf of others. So, set aside 15 minutes and do this with me if you can...

Psalm 17 is subtitled in my Bible "Prayer for the protection against oppressors" and I'll post it here below. Take a minute and think of a people or group that you know about facing oppression. If you need any help you can look here, here, here or here. Hold these people in your heart by picturing them in their plight. Slowly and quietly read this on their behalf. Take your time.

Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea;
listen to my cry.
Give ear to my prayer—
it does not rise from deceitful lips.

May my vindication come from you;
may your eyes see what is right.

Though you probe my heart and examine me at night,
though you test me, you will find nothing;
I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.

As for the deeds of men—
by the word of your lips
I have kept myself
from the ways of the violent.

My steps have held to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.

I call on you, O God, for you will answer me;
give ear to me and hear my prayer.

Show the wonder of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings

from the wicked who assail me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.

They close up their callous hearts,
and their mouths speak with arrogance.

They have tracked me down, they now surround me,
with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.

They are like a lion hungry for prey,
like a great lion crouching in cover.

Rise up, O LORD, confront them, bring them down;
rescue me from the wicked by your sword.

O LORD, by your hand save me from such men,
from men of this world whose reward is in this life.
You still the hunger of those you cherish;
their sons have plenty,
and they store up wealth for their children.

And I—in righteousness I will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

Did God speak to you through this? Write it down. How can you respond?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A different perspective...

There's a friend from Thailand visiting here in Modesto this weekend and she wrote a nice entry at her blog about our 9th St. Cafe. READ IT HERE. Thanks Rachel, this was really encouraging.

Friday, August 21, 2009

9th St. art project

Down on south 9th St. today we found this. Someone has taken it upon themselves to decorate this stretch of fence with hundreds of old cigarette boxes. It must be a collaborative effort that somebody started and the neighborhood is keeping going. I don't know why but this gave me some feeling of hope for South 9th St.

I've written about 9th St. before
and this is something I have not seen down there. It's just not a place to participate in a whimsical, colorful thing. I've been surprised before, like when a guy (now a close friend) played bagel toss with us and when I saw a woman run a hug our friend playing Santa around Christmastime. But these are few and far between. My heart lifted today when I saw these boxes. On one hand it's litter, but on the other, it reveals that there is something there still in the heart of the most desperate people that wants to play, laugh and appreciate.

I guess it's another lesson in hanging out long enough and looking through the right lens.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

North! Or Be Eaten.

I'm excited to be a part of the blog tour coming up for "North! Or be Eaten" (out today)...Andrew Peterson's much anticipated follow up to "On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness" (blogged about it here). I should receive my copy in a few days and will be reviewing it here in the next month.

But I really wanted to re-post here something he wrote (here) about stories, art and creativity in the life of children...heck, for all of us...

"Those of us who write, who sing, who paint, must remember that to a child a song may glow like a nightlight in a scary bedroom. It may be the only thing holding back the monsters. That story may be the only beautiful, true thing that makes it through all the ugliness of a little girl's world to rest in her secret heart. May we take that seriously. It is our job, it is our ministry, it is the sword we swing in the Kingdom, to remind children that the good guys win, that the stories are true, and that a fool's hope may be the best kind." -Andrew Peterson

Friday, August 14, 2009

Loser. (unashamed plug)

Many of you know that I have been losing weight. I lost a lot right up front there in March and April and have been slowly and steadily going down since then. I don't have an accurate read of when I started but I know I've lost a bit over 60 lbs since the middle of March.

Some benefits...

-My knees do not hurt near as much
-My blood pressure has gone from high and borderline high down to the "normal" range
-I'm lighter on my feet and have more energy
-I am not hungry on the program

It has been so easy as some friends are helping me do the "Take Shape For Life" program so I thought I'd post their info here. A helpful difference is that this program is run by "health coaches" who check in on you, have done the plan and help you through rough patches (I'm due to call Bob as I write!)

If you think you'd like to learn more, I can help connect you to my health coaches to see if this plan might be for you. Here's their website...GLONK HERE! And I'd love to talk to you more about it

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Justin Fox live!

Youth With A Mission Modesto and New Hope Church present a day with recording artist Justin Fox!

Sunday, August 16 at 7pm, come out to hear Justin in concert in the Brunswick Hall at New Hope (corner of Dale and Pelendale behind the new bank). The concert is free and an offering will be taken to help cover Justin's expenses. Please bring your friends to an evening of great music! If you haven't heard Justin Fox's music before...go to his website

And ,as a special bonus...

Would you like to learn more about the song writing process? Justin will be offering a song writers workshop on that same Sunday afternoon (August 16) from 1 – 5pm (suggested donation $30). Bring your guitar, paper, pen and a willingness to try something new.

If you are interested in the workshop and would like to register or have more questions, please call Chris at 209-404-4027 for details.

Remember, two great events in one day...

Song writers workshop with Justin Fox, Sunday, August 16 from 1 -5 pm ($30 suggested donation)


Justin Fox in concert, Sunday night, August 16 at 7pm (free with offering)


New Hope Church (4220 Dale Rd. Modesto, CA) in the Brunswick Hall

for a map

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Whitlers in July! (and August)

Here's our recent family newsletter...enjoy! And yes, I know a lot of the links actually point to this blog : )

August 9, 2009

Howdy, thought it'd be good to send out a quick little update. This should be pretty painless and with a few links if you want to know more...

Camp Awesome - We took a bunch of kids from inner city Modesto to "The Lord's Land" toward the end of July for 3 nights and 4 days. The camp truly lived up to it's name. We were able to partner with Global Youth Network (they brought 9 down to develop the camp), YWAM Mendocino who provided the property for what we could afford and a generous donation from Central Baptist Church in Modesto to help us buy food and put gas in the vans. If you would like to see our pictures of Camp Awesome, GLONK HERE!

Camp Tsartlip - After an awesome time at Camp Awesome, our family and the Global Youth Network team traveled up to Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia in Canada to help with a YWAM couple's day camp program for Tsartlip Village, a First Nations community near Victoria. We had a great time and the day camp ran a lot like our own camp so it was easy to flow with. You can read more about that and see some pics by GLONKING HERE.

Back Home - After a little visit with family in Oregon (thanks Hewitts!), we're back in Modesto. This next month, our home church, New Hope Christian Fellowship, will move to a new property. We'll be moving our YWAM Modesto office (up until now has been at New Hope) to a space offered to us by our friends at Youth For Christ. And of course, continuing to be a presence on South 9th St. and working with the our kids club, youth group, church and our local and international partners.

Please pray...

- For all the moving to go well. - For our staff couple John and Rhiannon, working in Thailand with friends at Compasio for the next couple of weeks. - For the kids at Camp Awesome, that God will work in their lives and in their families. - For the Tsartlip community in Canada. - For us, that we handle all of our precious relationships with the care they deserve.

Keep in touch! How can we pray for you? What's going on in your life?

Here's how to find us online and other ways...

Family site/blog -

Whitler podcast (teaching, music and fun stuff)-

Amie on Facebook -

Chris on facebook -

YWAM site -

YWAM blog -

If you would like to support our work financially, all donations are tax deductible when made out and sent to: YWAM / P.O. Box 3000 / Garden Valley, TX / 75771-3000. Our name must not appear on the check but include a separate note stating the gift is for the Whitlers in Modesto, CA. Thanks!

Things you might want to know...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tsartlip village

It's hard to know how to begin this post. I don't feel like I have to be careful, I want to be. It's how I felt all last week in the Tsartlip village near Victoria on Vancouver Island off the West coast of British Columbia in Canada. The Tsartlip village is a reservation for indigenous people. In Canada, they say "First Nations" people or "aboriginal". The people in the village say "Indian" and "reserve" or simply "the rez".

We were there with a team assisting a YWAM couple that do community service and youth development there. Mua is Samoan. His wife Marie grew up in Tsartlip. We helped them run a day camp for the kids of the community. Nothing fancy, just hanging out with kids and having positive interactions.

We were welcome. The people's natural disposition is not overly warm but they are welcoming if a little held back at first. They did want to know who we were, why we were there and who these strangers were taking pictures of their kids. It's the way I would feel if complete strangers showed up to run a program for my children. I would check them out.

The wounding of indigenous culture by larger, invasive cultures is something I don't completely understand. But I know it's important to learn about here and all over the world. It's part of why I learn, listen and carefully seek out. It was a great time for our family and the team we were with.

Before I got there, I felt a bit intimidated going into an unknown...worried I would misstep or say something stupid. And then I remembered a meeting I was a part of in Fresno. A couple of friends and I went down to talk to some ministry leaders down there. We were talking to Brian King about his work with the gangs. One of the guys with us asked if we would ever have credibility with the guys in gangs as many of us came from middle-class families. Brian looked at us, smiled and said "man, people are people." Everyone responds to genuine attempts at friendship and understanding even if the attemps are a bit clumsy.

So that's what we did in Tsartlip. We flowed with the slow, methodical culture, asked questions, listened and played with the kids. We attended and volunteered at the Pow Wow weekend. We ate fried bread (mmm). We danced. Kids are kids. People are people.

Here's some pics from our time there (facebook readers will have to click "read original post up there at the top)...or you can view it by GLONKING HERE.