Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

This year Wendy and I wanted to do Christmas differently. We really trimmed down our gift giving. For so many reasons (spiritual satisfaction, living on one income, avoiding materialism) we wanted a simple Christmas that focused on Jesus. I'm very convicted of my own materialistic tendencies. I confess I love to get and buy stuff, and I know that this Christmas I had to make some intentional choices to downsize the gift giving, so I can implement this more in my whole lifestyle. I told a lot of my family not to worry about gifts, and I really think it helped prevent the stress of the season from overtaking us.

For my daughter, our morning started out singing songs and making our way to our living room where she received three wrapped gifts (books) from us. With out so much time gathered around gifts (that she'll quickly forget about and not want anyway) we were able to spend more of our time simply being together as a family, playing, eating, etc. We gave her this one specially,created Dora book from Shutterfly, and it was so hilarious her reaction.

Wendy and I decided not to exchange gifts and to find other ways to express our love and appreciation. We really felt like we truly did get that this season. After our Dora book reading session, we made our way to our friend Jenni Ingram's house for what we fondly called, "WAFFLE BALLS!" They were out of this breakfast world. So good. It's actually called Aebleskiver, a Danish delicacy. They are like waffle donut holes. My daughter ate 2. I ate 11.
Too bad the gym was closed today.
After our waffle balls we took a nice, long, family nap. Then made our way to my in-laws for some more celebrating.
Overall, We enjoyed great times with family and friends in California and Chicago this Christmas 2008. We had times of intentional conversation and prayer. We were able to serve together and have time to reflect, read, and pray. I have to share this, though! Here's one gift I did get that had a positive effect on me!
Compassion International is a well-known organization that I love, and have sponsored a child with them for about ten years. It's a great way to give and help children in poverty. This was one gift that fit just right and felt good that it wasn't about ME! And since this is my 1st Christmas in California (since we are usually in Chicago) I was able to join our Street Church family to celebrate tonight, another great gift.Ending the day with my friends on the street was one of Christmas' true blessings! To be outside in the cold, simply celebrating with others by eating together and singing was a real gift. It was such a special way to for me to feel that the true celebration of Christmas wasn't lost in my busyness or the typical holiday commercialism. Thank you God for coming into our lives. Thank you Jesus for coming into our cold and broken world, being a homeless king, and choosing humility. We worship you and thank you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Stance


So, I'm a bit nervous with this post. I know there are a lot of hard core Santa lovers and I'm afraid I'll have a candy cane drive by tomorrow morning. So hear me out, and beware to all Santa believing children (and parents) that this post may be hazardous to your Christmas spirit. (Run for the hills--this post contains a SPOILER!).

My wife told me my Santa stance can sound self-righteous, and I really want to avoid that. But I have a problem with the Santa thing, and for that reason, we wont give presents from Santa, or set out cookies, etc. I admit, as a 7 year old kid I couldn't sleep Christmas Eve hoping to catch a glimpse of Rudolph and I'm not too messed up, but I just can't do it to my kids.

My buddy Matt posted his 2 cents on his blog and I'm feel the same way. It just feels like lying to me. I know it's about the magic of Christmas, but I wonder if all our Santa effort really does take away from the real meaning: God's love for the world through Jesus' birth. I was saddened while watching a documentary that talked about how commercialized Christmas has become that it practically squeezes out focus on Jesus.

I remember reading about a woman who's own personal faith in Jesus Christ was shattered when she discovered the truth about Santa. She remembers stumbling upon evidence that her parents were actually wrapping presents and writing out tags. (How many times has that happened right? Come on parents, get a clue.) This made her wonder about God and her belief in the "story" of Jesus. Had her parents just finagled some lie about the Messiah, too, just so she would be "good?" It caused her to walk away from Santa and her belief in Jesus. She wondered if Sunday School teachings were the equivalent of cookies and milk left out every Christmas eve. She had huge trust issues with her parents. Eventually later in her life she reconciled that Santa was a fairy tale and Jesus was the truth, but it didn't' come without heartache and difficult confrontations with her self and her parents. How could something so innocent as Santa damage a person like that. I believe it was about truth/trust which is a foundation to all relationships. Her story caused me to form a very strong conviction. Like Matt said, I want to tell the truth to my kids so that they trust me. I want to handle Santa the same as I would the story of Cinderella or any other fairy tale. This doesn't mean I''ll ostracize any parent who doesn't:) So, ok, to lighten this up a bit-have you seen Macy's ads? Trump, Jessica Simpson, Tommy Hilfigger..are you serious?

Too self-righteous? I hope not. Now, the bridge we'll have to cross some time in the future (your suggestions are welcome)is how to protect our kids from spoiling others hopes and dreams for ole' Saint Nick to drop by their pad every 12/24. Till, then, Merry Christmas. May we savor and enjoy time with family and the thoughts of how much God loves us that he sent his only son.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dance Party

Chalk this up to another reason I love my daughter and being her father.


I hope she grows a heart to worship God like David did, with dancing and all her might. May this be true of every one of God's worshippers. May we all have a heart to worship like we do the things we love, for it is in living passionately like this that we bring God worship, too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My recent movie viewing

Here are some of the movies I've seen over the past month.

In Theaters:
Bolt-Cartoon, sappy, silly, the hamster is the highlight. Rent it, or skip it all together. 

Twilight-Curiosity got me. Yes, I confess I saw it. Now, I know why we have a problem in this generation with unhealthy dating relationships. Why do girls go after the bad boys? Especially boys who could kill you by sucking your blood to death. It's not quite the next Harry Potter, but if your curiosity gets you, rent it. I saw it with two other dudes, and we were overwhelmingly outnumbered by female tweens. Not enough action, but great soundtrack. 

7 pounds-Will Smith. Who is really good? Twists and turns make this movie intriguing, just wait until the end. But afterward you wonder--what is the real message and is it a good one? It's a good conversation piece. It's no Memento, or Babel, but tries to be. See it with a friend and converse. What's with the title first of all?

On DVD:
What Would Jesus Buy? A wacky, zealous, weird documentary that convicted me. Sometimes I wondered if I was watching heresy, but it's actually a performance, and I like Morgan Spurlock's work. A traveling, musical, protest. It makes you think and challenges the American way. This Christmas we might not just be consumers but we might be CONSUMED.  The Reverend Billy reminds of a crazed out Bill Hybels. Rent it, converse, and stop shopping. 

The Visitor: Stellar performances. Diversity. Relationships. Questions issues of immigration. Heart-warming. Rent it and consider banging on a drum.

And again, I still recommend FINGER OF GOD

Saturday, December 20, 2008

the fruit of the Spirit can grow in airports...

Seriously, this is how bad Christmas movies are made.

Airport cancels flights because of snow. People have to wait in long lines for hours, for their re-booked flights, to do simple things like print boarding passes cause machines were out of order.

Meanwhile five airline employees huddle together and talk to each other behind the counters while irate travelers cuss and throw luggage. These five women supposedly are only trained at putting labels on luggage. There were only 2 trained ticket agents for all hundred people in line. I manged to keep my cool, miraculously, and step in and talk to each person in line so that we could go to the front within ten minutes to make it to our flight. (Did I tell you they left our stroller in the snow and the pilot had to get it? He returned it to us with 3 inches of snow piled in it). Ug, thankfully God's Spirit reminded us to be patient and kind. He knows at times, I too, wanted to throw some luggage around and drop a few choice words, but I saw that behavior doesn't help one bit
And somehow, thanks to God, we managed to make it home with only a "pair of wings" pin to show for it. Our flight took 4 hours 49 minutes. Again, we were thankful to God that although energetic Isella didn't sleep one wink, (but fell asleep in the car 2 minutes before we arrived home) she was happy and not fussy on the plane. I have many ideas for a straight to DVD Holiday flick.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Snowed In" Chicago

I've been spending the past short week with my family celebrating an early Christmas and my Dad's 60th birthday. It's been great. And today, it snowed all day on our intended departure day. A 30 minute car ride turned into 2-3 hours for many, including us to and from the airport.
Our flight said ON TIME up until the minute we got to the gate when it was delayed one hour. We then got on the plane bout 2 hours after our intended time, and they said they'd have to de-ice the plane for two hours while we sat on the plane. You can imagine how frustrating, and tiring it is in general being alone, let alone with a child. God was obviously with us as our little toddler was completely flexible and go-with-the-flow. We were amazed even more when they said our flight was cancelled (along with hundreds of others) and re-booked for tomorrow. I called my parents and they had just gotten home from dropping us off and turned around to come get us again.
Here Isella plays with other kids stranded and waiting in the airport. There was such sweet joy in this experience when all around people were cussing, angry, and short with one another. God used Isella to remind me to relax and be patient--not easy when you just want to get home!
We watched people snuggle up on airport benches prepared to wait out the night with no hotel or luggage in sight. Although our luggage is somewhere, hopefully destined to be in Sf at some point, I'm grateful we could come back to my parent's house for the night. As I put Isella to bed I did our usual routine. We prayed, sang songs and recited scripture. Tonight she said, "Again," in an unusual place. It was right after I sang her Jeremiah 29:11-13. Usually she wants me to repeat, "The Wheels on the Bus," or "Jingle Bells," lately. But tonight it was the reminder that God's got a plan. That was cool So, we'll try again tomorrow and see what God has in store.

Good News for your Ipod: Christmas Version

Friday, December 12, 2008

Javaluya

During Christmas we as a church hope for people to join us as we celebrate, right? This spoof is hilarious, again reminding me that Christians are weird, and sometimes we have to be really sensitive about our insider language to not ostracize those taking a risk to seek God with us. This video speaks for itself.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lost and YOU FOUND ME

After hearing the bum news that one of my three fave shows Pushing Daisies is being cancelled, I stumbled on the new song, YOU FOUND ME, by the Fray. This great song is also being featured on Lost (one of my other faves). Cool thing is the Fray guys are all Christ Followers doing their music and art in the pop music scene. So if you listen, you can hear echos of their faith bounce through. I've also hung out with their drummer, Ben, as he married one of our young adult women (who also was one of the photographers at our wedding four years ago). So although I'm seriously bummed to lose this artistic and spiritual piece of TV, I'll now make room for Lost which starts 1/21!


PS. My third fave show is 30 Rock. I used to be in to Heroes the 1st season, but haven't made the time to watch any of the DVR recorded episodes since.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Make a Caption

One of my favorite magazines always has a comic caption contest. They post a picture and then have people send in their captions. I keep hoping to have one of mine published. It can be so funny how one picture elicits so many different responses. So, until I make it big, I thought I'd try it on my own. Post your captions to the picture below by leaving a comment. (This is not my daughter by the way).
Later in the next week I'll also post my "Santa Stance." What I think about Santa and how our family will deal with that little holiday "issue. "

Monday, December 08, 2008

72 hours of fun and craziness

What do rehearsing and performing a sketch, finishing a 10 page paper, hosting a young adult event, seeing my wife off to vacay in Portland have to do with each other? They all happened in the same 72 hours as I was solo dad with Isella.

Leave it to me to let that happen. Seriously, though, God really provided me with strength and power to thrive through it. I had AMAZING times with Isella. She was so fun and sweet. I finished my paper and felt good about it 1.5 hours before it was due to be emailed in Saturday Night 10:30pm. The sketch gave me some much needed creative outlet and it went off with out a hitch Sunday Morning at our Church's worship gathering. In-laws helped out, Wendy had fun and returned safe. I'm so thankful.

Every Church Christmas celebration needs a little nativity sketch. Here's one written and acted by Darin Adams (who is PCC's worship pastor for the month of December). It takes a different twist on the 3 Kings. I got to play a "wise-guy." The youtube video starts a little way into the story where the kings are bragging about what they've done to honor the new king. I play King Melchoir, "Mo," who is a little into his gold and gift giving. They visit Mary and Jesus...and then Bada Bing they're outta there.



Saturday, December 06, 2008

Finger of God

It's after midnight and I have a Seminary paper now due in 11 hours, 51 minutes. But I'd rather be doing lots of other things. 1-Reading this film maker's blog, 2-Doing my own blogging 3-blogging about this documentary. 
Finger of God. I've watched it three times now. 

Watch the trailer below--or watch this interview (give some grace to the cheesiness) on this "supernatural" talk show.  (Supposedly all of the movie can be watched on YouTube). I really like this guy Darren Wilson, the director. He's real, humorous, honest, and he's witnessed a lot. Listen to his story

After viewing this film I've concluded:
We/I have a small faith. 
We/I am comfortable, lazy, fearful, and too busy to really experience God's power. 
We/I need to act on God's word, his promises... and I will...!

Just tonight, after viewing the film,  a group of men took to the street of Redwood City simply to pray for people and God is at work. I'm already getting text messages about the way God moved and opened up conversations for people to pray. 
I wish I could write more, there will be more on this, soon. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Let there be lights, and more lights, and more...

I wanted to avoid shopping like the a swarm of mosquitoes on Black Friday. But we had set up our Christmas tree and of course we were short one string of lights. So, we made a dash to the mad-crazy Target filled with after Turkey day bargain shoppers. I beat my way through the crowds to the light aisle. The amount of lights to choose from is ridiculously big. I just wanted one regular, old-school strand of white lights. There is now a crazy 22nd century selection, Jetson style. Blinking, moving, mesh...you name it, they have it. Speaks to how this season has has the potential to be so glamorized that we sometimes miss really enjoying why we even have it to begin with.

On another note, I always notice when manger scenes have other random additions to Bethlehem. Santas hanging out with shepherds, snoopy leaning up on sheep, or Winnie the pooh on a Ferris wheel. Like this one. Did you know there were penguins hot air ballooning over the manger when Jesus was born?

Please share and make me laugh if you've seen anything like this on a front lawn near you.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Adoption and Foster Care

Kudos to the churches in Colorado! I hope this for our state, for our country.

Would you pray for the God's people to take up the cause of the orphan? Will you consider praying how you can support children in need so we can fulfill God's command.
I can't help tearing up watching this. I hope that I can be a part of bringing this vision to PCC and beyond.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Advent Conspiracy...again

I posted this once, but it's worth the reminder.



What are you doing to be different this Christmas? It's 24 days away.

How about serving in this way: Send a letter of prayer and scripture to one of our troops serving abroad.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good News for your iPod. November 2008, iMix

My November mix is inspired from Thanksgiving, travels to Dallas, Twain Harte and the cinema! Yes-Twilight to Fireproof. Oh, how God can use anything! I will post my December mix in exactly one week to celebrate the great month of Christmas!

Friday, November 28, 2008

PCC's Thanksgiving Lunch

50ish volunteers who serve over 200ish people can be a challenge. I simply call it Beautiful Chaos. It was beautiful amidst the craziness. The craziness had nothing to do with organization (because this year we had the best of our 6 years) but simply due to the amount of people. There were a lot. But like I said, organization was not an issue. It was top notch this year-another reason I am thankful. The servers were lead by an amazing duo who took it to a new level, the kitchen's always been under control by the same woman (and her family) that has done it every year, we had a "dispatcher" this year coordinating the driving, greeting was led by one of the warmest people around, set-up was perfect, and clean-up happened..somehow the whole time. The most exciting part was the people who came. God's kingdom was represented. It's been a great day. Thanks God.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful, thankful...(video and poem)

Bloggers around the country are all posting today so here's my 2 cents on my Thanksgiving! I have so many things. So I'll post this video of my little scooter girl and share a poem. I'm thankful.



Here's the START of my list, it's just the tip
hopefully not just service of the lip,
but I'm thankful. I'm thankful for God's crazy love,
my wife,
my daughter..
pretty much our whole, crazy life,
our baby due February,
my family, the coffee in my mug, the food on my plate,
the long, long, long.......... wait
For God to move, and heal, and do his will,
cause it's not just an easy swallow
of a pill...
it's waiting, wondering, and realizing..he's a provider
a giver of love, simplicity, and truth..
he's a provider of the clothes in my closet,
friends who pray, friends who call,
friends who help me see the writing on the wall.
Enough money to deposit,
in the bank, or in my pocket,
enough electricity to come out of our sockets,
in-laws who babysit, young adults who don't quit,
California living, Italy visiting,
my dental nightmares,
that reveal my anxious cares
that keep me seeking the Lord
to confess, and to cling
to Him and his love,
which is better than anything....every thing!
I'm so glad he's MY KING...
Thanks God that there's always more
for my heart to out-pour,
so I will settle in, within, not just next of kin,
but son, child, beloved, object of your affection,
the middle of your heart!
So thanks for calling my name,
may I do my part
for your kingdom to come
your will be done
on earth as it is heaven.
To you be the Glory forever, and ever...Amen.
and Thanks again!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My heart Christ's home

Being part of a small group is one of the highlights of community for me. Seven guys get together each week to study and apply the Bible. Our group's emphasis is on becoming Godly men equipped in leadership. Each week a different person leads and last night's group went through My Heart Christ's Home led by Luke Wilkerson. I'd encourage you to read the story and make your own house, like we were encouraged to do. Here's mine.
After we read the story and processed each of our own personal "rooms," we shared about what God was doing in our life and how those things were driving and directing our lives.

Are you a part of a smaller group of people meeting weekly to share life, pray, confess, and study God's word? What's God doing in your group and in your life through meeting together?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What are your church's views on same-sex relationships?

I received an email from someone who attended one of the weddings I officiated this past weekend. This person asked, "What are your church's views on same-sex relationships?" Here is my response. Comments?
----
Dear ________, I'm glad you asked. We believe God loves and values all people. Isn't that awesome? :) It's too bad that he gets such a bad rap in our culture sometimes. He made and created each person to be loved by him and to know him.
The Bible says that all people have been made in his image and with a purpose to be loved by him and to love and serve him (through which like I said
yesterday he reveals this all through the Bible-which by the way is such a great book. What's your history with it?). So based on these truths we then also view relationships by God's design revealed through the Bible. So, to answer your question about same-sex relationships we believe that people are most satisfied and fulfilled in relationships by following God's design which he created between one man and one woman. But we welcome gay people to be a part of our church family. Our church welcomes all people to belong with us as we seek God together. God desires that all people understand his invitation is unconditional to be loved by him and be a part of his family. We love all people in same-sexed relationships. Something that's important to this discussion is that we don't expect anyone to share these same relational beliefs if they don't have a commitment to follow the ways of Jesus, nor do we condemn anyone who doesn't. We are more concerned 1st that people understand God's personal love for them and his desire to restore the world with hope and peace! It's not our desire to bash, harm, or make anyone feel less than. I assume that when you are asking this question it's a personal matter for you or someone you love. This is a personal issue for me in general as my wife and I have close family members and friends in same-sex relationships. We desire to love and accept. I don't know your background with God or his people (the church) but I hope in some way you'll simply hear through these words that God is a loving God, you are loved, and all of humanity is loved by our creator God, and that he has a special design for each person to be loved by him. Email isn't the best venue to discuss these issues, for sure, since it's very easy for misunderstandings. But I would be MORE :) than happy to meet and talk with you or anyone else that is questioning these views. What do you think?

In grace and peace,
Tony

Monday, November 24, 2008

Same suit different tie

2 weddings in 24 hours. One on Saturday and one exactly 20 hours later on Sunday. Now, I now only own one functional suit (that's not a costume). So my one cool suit got some good use this weekend. I just changed my shirt and tie.
Here we are (me and Prego Wife Wendy-isn't she cute? Her bump kinda blends in the black) with our Friends (and owners of fave cafe La Tartine) Huy (Andrew) and Monique, who wed in Palo Alto at the Garden Court Hotel.
They gave away biscotti, a fancy tea bag and cool espresso cups.
It was so funny, because they both already had the same last name. No, they weren't related, but Nguyen (new-winn) is the Vietnamese equivalent of Smith. Convenient for the Bride when it comes to name change.

Angelo and Christina got married in PCC's worship Center. They are becoming a blended family. It was very emotional to witness and a great crowd of their neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers showed up that got to hear about God's love and design for marriage. This was a special ceremony because Christina came to Christ about a year ago and has been changed in some great ways.

Of course I got my groove on.

I love doing weddings. I love being able to bless a couple and speak the truth of God unashamedly!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

Even though Thanksgiving is next week, it's not too early to start talking and preparing for Christmas. I'm so ready for some major change this Christmas. I'm really way over buying and getting gifts. If we don't change simply because we are Christians maybe the economy will be a good enough reason to be different this year.

I love this video challenge, (besides the fact that is says, "go to church." GRRRR). It reminded me that I just really want to be with my family, hang out, eat, see the lights, and possibly even serve together. The exchange of words (and maybe some coffee) would be so much more meaningful that lots of gifts that might not fit--or lets be honest... that we might not like. Besides, it hardly seems right to spend so much money on ourselves with millions of children without parents, clean water, and simple health necessities.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fencing lessons 101

1 Timothy 2:15: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
The only weapon God encourages us to wield is the sharped sword of his word. How are you doing in your fencing lessons? It's sad that most of us can quote sports stats, historic dates, and lines from movies more than we can verses in the Bible.
Remember how Frodo had no idea how to defend himself. As a Hobbit, he wasn't trained how to use a sword so he was at the mercy of his enemies. And we know how he spent much of his time running from those who were after him. This is true of many followers of Christ. We end up weak against worldly pressures, with out integrity, void of God's power, and defeated by our enemy. It's our privilege and responsibility to read, study, memorize, apply, and share God's word. How are you doing in this area?

My wife has spiral bound index cards next to our bed.
A few weeks ago she pulled them out and challenged my knowledge of scripture. She uses each card to write a verse that speaks truth in her life, reminds her of her identity, and points her to God's love and purposes. This little spiral thing now acts as training in the sword to combat lies. Now, I am doing it and I also passed out 30 of these spiral guys to those who attended our fall retreat. My small group is using it as a way to memorize the word, find truths that apply to specific situations, and keep accountable. I encourage you to be proactive and accountable about learning and applying God's word. Too many of us are believing and living lies when we have full access to God's truth at our finger tips to right our mind.
If you have other ways of memorizing God's word please share.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving lunch

A week and a half away from Thanksgiving 2008.
Would you like to participate? Do you know someone who would?

This will be our 6th consecutive year!
Thursday November 27th. 11:30am-2pm @ PCC

Would you like to be involved? Here are our needs! Many of these are great 1st SERVE OPPORTUNITIES to invite people to join you. REMINDER: This is not just an “outreach” lunch. It is a family gathering for our whole church and community. A time to be together. Please simply call it: THANKSGIVING LUNCH In fact, if you just want to come and eat with your friends and family, THAT’S GREAT, TOO! Please pass this on to anyone in your ministries and distribution groups!

If you would like to be involved reply back with what area you would like to serve in.

1-Driving/picking up our guests (using your own car or PCC vans people from Street Church and other local areas):

2-Greeting and welcoming people (hosts/docents on the day of to greet and make people feel comfortable)

3-Decorating: (Create a beautiful atmosphere in the fellowship center for our lunch--which starts Wednesday night)

4-Live Music :( Acoustic, Piano, singing, anything to spice up the air with sound).

5-Clean up Crew: (We must leave our facility better than when we walked in-and we need a whole different crew to relieve those who are cooking/setting up).

6-Donating/Cooking food-We need tons of food: pre-cooked and delivered to our PCC kitchen. We also need chefs and those gifted in hospitality.-Led by Cheri Hurst.

7-“Coat Room”: Each year we the fireside room is filled with coats and other clothes for people in need. We need set up and items arranged and monitored.

8-Kids’ coordinator: Each year we have many children join our lunch and we would love to have someone coordinate a craft or activity.

9-Community Promotions/Reservations Coordinator-We are looking to bless our community and need someone gifted in “public relations” that can get the word out and connect with shelters, and other facilities that house people who may need a good lunch and a ride on Thanksgiving Day.

If there is some way you would like to serve but don’t see it on here, just let me know. All coordinating will be done by email and then we will have a meeting on November 23rd, at 12:30pm the Sunday before Thanksgiving, to firm up final details!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fall Retreat Video, 2008

From last week's retreat in Twain Harte. Can anyone help me? Why is the video so fuzzy--and other youtube videos seem perfect?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dallas LeadNow Day 3

The final day of the conference.
God knew what I needed. I need time to hear from him. It's obvious that my life (busyness, practicality, ministry) can often crowd out God's voice and plan for my life. My eyes are puffy from tears, my mind is overwhelmed with truth, my heart is full of emotion, my body is tired... but I feel refreshed. He removed me from my normal life/responsibilities and spoke over and over truths that I know that I need to work and act upon. Is it any surprise that 1-God yearns for alone time with us to shower his love and 2-God wants to use us to bless and restore the world? NO! We know these things, right? Why aren't we taking more action? I could not get away from God's wooing of me and I can't avoid his call on my life. Part of that being to care for orphans. I will be actively praying and seeking ways to act on God's mandate to care for children. We (the Gapastiones) and WE (the Church) need to take action on this. Please pray as I seek God's direction and the resources of his people.
God loves a cheerful (hilarious) giver. -2 Corinthians 9:7.
If you are a part of PCC's young adult community, you'll hear the stories of God's working these past three days. When truth is spoken, and his people are receptive, change is inevitable. I'm really excited to see what God does in this group who came and how they grow into God's leaders within our community!
It was great to see, hang, and pray with Matt, too. He got some pics that I didn't. Check it.

I also found a new song I liked (used in one of the conference videos) by the Killers. It's called Human which has an interesting explanation here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dallas LeadNow Day 2


Let's see. Day 2. God is speaking to me. My journal is filling. I'm overwhelmed, amazingly encouraged, tired, ready, scared, raw, and loving my savior more. Getting voice mails from my wife and daughter don't help keep my eyes dry, either. I can't believe my little 19 month old can say, "Hi Daddy, I love you."

So, I've been in sessions, meals, and concerts for 14 hours today. I don't have much but I know I must get a few thoughts out. Here are some quotes:
Washington D.C. isn't going to change the world, the Church is.-Erwin McManus
If we truly read the word of God, and lived it out, what kind of Church would we be?-Francis Chan.
The Bible isn't a book of "How to's" it's a book of "Why's."--Donald Miller
Above is Erwin Mcmanus, who seriously looks a lot like Lou Diamond Phillips,
reminded us that faith is NOT safe. We must dream dreams that we are passionate about and that will also benefit and bless the world (not just merely ourselves). This takes discipline to do something risky, that might fail, but that completely depends on God. Francis Chan than challenged us to live by the Spirit and not minimize his power to events/messages/movements that depend on human accomplishments. And Donald Miller confronted us with living in God's story and exhorted us to live a GOOD story: significant, purposeful-with the expectation of conflict, that will draw others in and bless the world.

God change us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dallas LeadNow Day 1

I'm blogging from a hotel in Dallas after day one of LeadNow.
We arrived late last night in Dallas, with a sad goodbye to my wife and daughter-- who I already miss greatly. After two short flights we found ourselves eating pizza at midnight (TX time). It was a great start to our 1/2 week together. 8 of us quickly got real and shared stories prompted by questions while mowing some ZA and taking in the Texas air. We started the morning with a Starbucks run before connecting up with my best bud (and former PCC pastor) Matt Nightingale and his new bud and co-pastor Ted from Houston.

So far, it's been great. The building (the facility where the church meets) is great. Colorful, modern, extra-technical, and fully equipped with a cafe. Great speakers, including a favorite: Marcus Buckingham, who emphasizes leading in the areas we are good at and passionate.

Let me recap how God has moved in me (numerous times to tears).
I've been journaling like crazy!

He's touched me and affirmed me in these areas:
*He speaks repetitively: I love you, follow me, take care of my people, & surrender.
*Leaders lead themselves (develop their inner life) before attempting to lead others.
* I am who I am, accept my abilities, lead from my specific strengths, manage my weaknesses- & team with those who are strong where I'm weak.
*Adoption and foster parenting is in our future.
*Leadership must be bold & beneficial, but expect to be misunderstood & possibly not liked when the truth is spoken--in love.
*He uses times of wilderness and pain to increase our dependence on Him.
*God's people are a people of many colors and we must seek to connect with them all.
And that's just day 1!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reflecting love to my wife on our anniversary!


Four years today! I love marriage and wholeheartedly recommend it. Although it requires work, sacrifice, humility, and much forgiveness, there is nothing like sharing life with your best friend, life-love, and parenting partner! This picture is from our bathroom mirror. Last week I wrote to her about how she models the character of the woman in Proverbs 31. Wendy is a gift to me and I want her to know it. I love using dry erase markers in this way. It's part of the way we work in our marriage to show each other love. It's something I try to encourage all couples to utilize as it's been a great tool for us. Try it. It's a simple way to be creative (with words or pictures) by showing your love for your spouse, roommate, or even yourself (write scripture to remind your of God's truth and how much you are loved by Him). I plan to use this as my kids grow up, too.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fall Retreat 2008



Here are almost 200 pictures. No joke. They aren't all mine but I shared a USB cable with two other cameras (see if you can guess whose) to expand the selection!

A video will come soon. 



I'm tired. It was good. It was really good. 


Loved being with our community. Loved being able to have my family with me. Loved having other couples join us. Loved being in the word. It was good. 

Btw, Crazy Hats won for the theme.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Put your thinking caps on...


I love retreats. In about 48 hours we'll be nestling in to Brown Bear Cabin, fireplace and all, in Twain Harte California. We eat, laugh, sing, pray, rest and have crazy fun. Included is a sort of "theme night" to give us any reason to dress up.  Last year we sported argyles and folded sweaters for  "Preppy Bowling,"  So I'm doing a poll here on my blog for this year's theme, so far fun hats/head wear is in the lead by 41%, but I'd love some suggestions. Any ideas? What are some fun/easy dress up themes that could work for a night out of bowling? Please share, if anything for just the fun of it and future possibilities. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

If you don't trust, just pray and repent

Remember that old 1989 Prince song, "Trust?" No? Well, that's not such a bad thing-it was on some old Batman movie soundtrack (that I can't find) and it pops in my head when I think about the word trust. We all have been let down in some way, shape or form which has contributed to our "trust issues." Trusting God, trusting friends, and trusting presidents is a challenge, but the votes are in and my prayer and support will be to our President Elect Barack Obama--while my allegiance and worship still belongs to God the Father through Jesus Christ. (McCain would have had my prayer and support, too, as this is not about endorsing political parties. I still have an aversion to claiming a party affiliation. I just want to follow Jesus and wisely engage in politics and culture from an independent viewpoint. As I've stated before neither candidate is the messiah and in my opinion shouldn't take so much of our focus).

So, with that, for my second political post I want to encourage you to read Marc Driscoll's recent blog posted before the election returns. It was insightful and I pray it can remind us to keep putting our focus on God and our need to humble ourselves and rethink what we believe and CHANGE the way we live! I read Romans 13 tonight and was reminded to continue to support and respect those in leadership. Go God, please use Obama. Amen!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Dear Mr. Future President.....

What a wild time for our country right now. I can feel the political tension and excitement rising. It's history in the making. So for my first political post, I wanted to (in a completely NON-partisan way) recommend a book (or two). To all those making hard decisions on this election's ballot, and to all who are fighting for one party or the other, for all who are wondering where your tax dollars really go, and for all who stick one sign or the other proposing whatever proposition in your yard you are proposing: I hope I can sway you to consider reading the story of Wilky. My daughter loves the library and books of all kinds. During our visit to the new library in Redwood Shores, this book caught my attention. I seriously read through the whole thing during the story time. I just smiled and laughed. God used a kid's story about a cockroach to speak to me. In the midst of name-calling, heated debates and a time when (party) pride is prevalent, don't we all just need to loosen up a bit? Shouldn't we all practice a little gentleness and do away with anxiety? I suggest reading this (or any) kids' book so we don't take ourselves to seriously and to remember life isn't always so figured out as we adults think it is. (For an slightly more grown up book I recommend this one). Don't get me wrong, I believe we need to take our country's (and state's) political issues very seriously! But with this who's right, who's wrong, media frenzied election, let's not worry. God is our father and Jesus is our king. There's hope America and his name is not McCain OR Obama. His name is Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, the King, our Savior. So please by all means vote, please pray, please propose, and please remember who's really Commander in Chief.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Rant

So, I really have no problem with dressing up in costumes, trick or treating, carving pumpkins, and having a pumpkin pie and/or candy corn stomach-ache. I've done all of the above. I just desire to do so with reasonable discernment and read a lot of stuff that's helped me do so. 

This year my wife and I dressed like Zoo Keepers and took our little Monkey around the town with some friends.
We walked around enjoying a really beautiful RWC Fall night (with only some light rain sprinkling here and there). Isella was a blast, looking cute and saying, "Trick or Treat," and "Halloooo-weeeen." We all just watched our friend's kid get the candy and at each house he made sure to get one for Isella, too. (We just didn't get candy cause my daughters still too young, in our opinion, for chocolate and sweets). 

Now for the rant: One obstacle to our enjoyment of night was seriously the amount of scary images, scary people, and down right scary sounds-in the name of "decorations." Honestly it just seems to me glorification of evil and horror. It was quite the experience in  a short 45 minute jaunt around a local neighborhood with our friends. We were greeted by  a scary woman in a scary-goth-nun costume with a swinging skull head (screaming murderously, non-stop) outside her door, hanging ghosts and goblins from windows and trees and other stuff that scares kids, little kids especially.  This acceptable part of society is really unacceptable to me. It made me feel uncomfortable. I found myself many times trying to shelter Isella's eyes. We wonder why children have nightmares. Thankfully, she's too young to really know what's going on, I hope. I know it's only one month a year, but I think we'll really have to deal with this in greater detail at some point in the future. As we drove home I wondered about maybe starting a safe, non-scary event,  held on our Church's campus. We'll see. When you know God and his goodness...When you know God and the values of his Kingdom, we must be different. I was reminded tonight that we are not of this world. The word of God speaks to us, and we must respond. I'm not trying to be self-righteous or too holy-but on the other hand, if we could do it, humbly, wouldn't we want to be more holy? Food for thought. End of Rant. Now I'm off to eat some pumpkin pie. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Valeri Lopez

Have you heard of Val Lopez? She was a huge hit when she joined us on our summer retreat, and she will also tag along with us next weekend to Twain Harte. If you are a PCC young adult are you going? Have you signed up? (November 7-9).

I love this song of hers. It's a great song for marriage but also a great song in relationship to God. Listen and see what you think. She will also probably be playing at La Tartine on Sunday night, 11/9, too. She sings some Italian in this song, too. Cool.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

God can use CHEESE

In this case I don't mean Gouda or mozzarella (which believe me I know God can use). In this case of the word Cheesy: I mean a word use to describe something that is funny but isn't meant to be, takes itself too seriously and is really not believable, is badly done, silly, and possibly deserves the big bang of the Gong.
It can be used to describe anything really. Clothing, catch phrases, music, message (sermon) illustrations, cars, music, and movies. In this case I am talking about FIREPROOF a movie recently released,


starring every one's favorite 90's actor Kirk Cameron. Before you send me Christian hate mail, I SAW the movie. I supported these Christians who are trying to make a difference, and I laughed and I cried, and was encouraged to love my life more. Seriously. (I'm looking forward to getting the Love Dare book).
But I want to be honest. It just lacked in so many ways. The story lacked the real umph to draw me fully in. The action, if they had a bigger budget, needed a major upgrade. The dialog seemed cardboard, perhaps the non-professional, non-paid actors are to blame, as some of the acting was just not believable. I've seen better acting on our PCC stage in a 10 minute sketch. I admit I have a high standard, but I'm thinking that if we are going to make an impact in the arts we've got to compete with movies that big studios are doing. And maybe that's not the goal: to compete. But I think we need to be careful as Christians not to just promote something as the best movie ever just because it lays out the gospel, has people praying, and mentions Jesus. With that still, I suggest you see it. Especially married people, if you can look past some of the cheese! Wendy and I laughed and rolled our eyes numerous times as some of the silliness, but afterward we prayed, hugged, and made out passionately. :) TMI? So it had a positive affect, gave us some fodder for conversation, and gave me a rant for a blog.

Kirk was actually OK. I'd recast the doctor and the wife. And even though it's a little cheesy, God is using it. People's lives are being impacted. Read stories about it here. I totally appreciate the hearts of those behind the movie (who say they are ministers before they are movie makers) who want to bring God's truths to the big screen and send a positive, Godly message about marriage to the world. I just wonder how many people in the world will see it.

Oh btw, The soundtrack is really good, though. I have it on repeat.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Potty Talk, take 2

Maybe this is true potty talk? No joke, my daughter's Cabbage Patch Kid (note: it was the boy one,) was found like this in her "potty."


 Did this CPK eat one these?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Reflection on Hallowed: art, film, music: Justice

Last night’s Hallowed was inspiring.
Short films, photography, and music all focused on taking action on compassion. Here are some images from the night.




I found myself praying that the church would rise up more in the arts. Why aren’t there more artists in the church serving in this way? The back wall of the space had a clothesline of photography. Beautiful. 


By the way, my new favorite song is POWER OF YOUR NAME by Lincoln Brewster.
Let's move church. Let's take action.