Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December's Song of the Month

"Sweet Treats At Christmastime"

I wrote this song in December of 2008. This inspiration hit me as our YWAM team was preparing to go down to 9th Street. The first line in the song is directly from a prayer Jimmy prayed before we took off. He said something like "God, help us experience you in sweet treats at Christmastime together on the street." I wrote most of this song on the way to 9th St. in the van and the rest of it down there.

This is a snap shot of our work on 9th Street. We have some treats and coffee, we have some chairs, we have us. We go, we sit, we listen. Some of the people have changed but it's still what we do. As I look back, I am humbled and dumbfounded at the miracles our simple, little cafe on the street has experienced. It has all happened, with God's help, through the beauty of friendship.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Top 10 indicators that Youth With A Mission, Modesto is way more female than it used to be:

#10 - team members now wonder if I’ve noticed their new hair highlights

#9 - If you serve team members coffee, it’s best to have fancy creamers like “French Vanilla” available.

#8 - Coded language like “BF” and “BFF” is used way more frequently.

#7 - Team members are already planning a staff party to watch the royal wedding in April.

#6 - Everything kind of smells better.

#5 - There is much more giggling.

#4 - Amie actually shows up to meetings.

#3 - Conversation could be incredibly deep one minute and in an instant, “Jersey Shore”.

#2 - Public burping (among other functions) are at an all time low.

And the #1 indicator that Youth With A Mission, Modesto is way more female than it used to be...

We actually think through the details!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Fairy tales and the Soul of YWAM Modesto

I was reading last night in "Blue Like Jazz" by Don Miller (I know, everybody read this 5 years ago) in his chapter on community. He says that he always assumed his life story was about him. I guess there's a way that we all kind of do this. We see ourselves as the star of our own little show. It's easy enough to live this way, our eyes are literally the eyes through which we see the world.

I woke up this morning thinking about stories. Have you noticed, in many imaginative stories (fairy tales, fantasies and the like), the plot boils down to a group of three? If you read literary critics much smarter than me, they would explain that a lot of imaginative stories work with what is know as the "soul tryptic", three characters that represent the soul...body, mind and heart (or spirit).

In the Harry Potter stories, Harry is the heart, Hermione is the mind and Ron is the body (always eating!). In The Lord of The Rings, Frodo is the heart, Sam is mind and Gollum is the body (" catch a fish so juicy SWEET!"). In Percy Jackson, Percy is the heart, Annabeth is the mind and Grover is definitely the body (always hungry!). Dorothy's quest is aided by three who are looking for a heart, a brain and physical courage. After being made aware of this, it's fun to look for. There's Trinity, Morpheus and Neo; Gayle, Peeta and Katniss; Luke, Leia and Han and Peter, James and John!

The "mind" and "body" in these kinds of stories exist to help the "heart" find it's goal or accomplish his or her task that usually involves saving the world from a great evil.

I have been a part of a beautiful working tryptic for the last few years in YWAM Modesto. People would refer to Jimmy, Aaron and I as "the guys" or "the YWAM guys" and they meant the three of us. Even though Amie, Kelly, all our kids and John and Rhiannon have all been with us to varying degrees, we three have been seen (for good or for ill) as the core of our work here.

And like any short sighted person may do, I have assumed for my self the role of "the heart" of this story I'm living. It's been easy to do. Of the three, we were here first. It's the only reason I was given the role of "director". I've been hailed as the leader, the pioneer.

If I'm the heart, then Jimmy is for sure the body. He has always pushed me to my physical limits. From learning how to build things to getting in better shape to actually pushing me up a mountain, Jimmy has been a great challenge and encouragement to me. And Aaron is most definitely the mind that has served me. He has helped me think a better way more times than I can count. He has handed me book after book and sat with me through many dark hours to help me see things more clearly.

But as the Sustars have left for Thailand and Aaron took off today for a Sabbatical year away in Canada and who knows where else and after I read what Don Miller wrote about assuming you were the star of your own show and after pondering this idea of the tryptic while in the shower today, I'm changing my mind.

What if Jimmy was the heart? His passion has pushed us to try things we would have never thought of. Jimmy has picked up the banner of love for the most vulnerable and run with it straight to Thailand. His and Kelly's obedience has been heartbreaking and beautiful to be a part of. If Jimmy is the heart then Aaron is his body. Aaron has been there to reassure, go along and serve, and be a true under-girding in regards to Thailand. Aaron has been Jimmy's traveling companion there and will be the one to show up way more than I will to support and encourage. That makes me the mind. Jimmy bounces things off of me. My role in his life has been to listen...sometimes to give advise but mostly to let Jimmy hear himself think and figure things out. Yep, Jimmy might be the heart.

Or maybe Aaron was the heart? The way he has supported struggling people has, in a way, been the soul of who we are together. His unrelenting hope for lives who many would say are hopeless and his willingness to fight for a better day has been the drive for much of what we have done together. If Aaron is the heart, then Jimmy has been the mind, faithfully cutting through fogginess and uncertainty to get to the heart of the matter for Aaron. And if Jimmy is the mind, I am surely the body for Aaron. I often ride along to help be eyes, to push us physically into a new spaces, I suggest places to eat and ways to be with people.

Looking at it this way, it seems we all carry a piece of a bigger heart and we can all serve that heart in others in a great variety of ways. Jesus is the heart, His Spirit gives us his mind and we are his body working his will in the world. We can all be these things for one another according to the natural gifts we carry and the specific grace God gives us for the circumstances we face.

And of course, you realize these things as you get far down the road and look back. Our little fellowship has made some wrong turns, we've not seen the whole picture, we have not been a perfect team. But that's not ever the point of any story. As long as the Heart is served by His friends, even through missteps and short sightedness, the world gets saved, evil is pushed back, sacrifices are made and light is shed in the darkness.

Amie and my kids and Aaron and Jimmy and Kelly and Dave and my Church and my friends and my extended family and supporters and countless others have faithfully served my heart, so much more than I deserve. I hope I have served them too. I can only pray for the grace to notice ways that I can be a physical presence, a listening ear, a comfort, a strong shoulder, offer a clearer perspective, a prayer of faith, encouragement and stubborn hope that a new day will come.

"But now faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."

May our lives be marked not by great deeds and accomplishments, but by great love. Love for God, each other, and the broken world around us.