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.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Potty talk

In light of a recent post about manhood and the said faux (I like that word) characteristics about what truly makes a man a man (IE-farting, grunting, etc), I must digress. The content of this post is purely immature, potty humor, none of which adds to my manhood but confirms one of many challenges I have to being a man: bodily functions. ( TMI?)

Although I (and countless other men) can laugh at my dysfunction, oh, my poor wife. She asks me to light a candle, (strategically placed through out the house), daily. This is truly an issue for most guys..and all canines. We can't help but expel foul smells from every possible place. Besides genetic make-up, I tend to blame tasty, not so-good for you, "ethnic delicacies." I guess I'd rather suffer the digestive consequences (that sometimes last for hours or days) for 15 minutes of blissful meal consumption. I could make zillions of spiritual parallels here but I'll just refer back to this post.

I mean, come on! What would you expect to happen when choosing to eat a menu item named "SHRIMPS OF THE DEVIL?" Nothing less than a sort of exorcism of the bowels.

And what's with Taco Bell's newest menu item? Are you kidding me? I call this as Jim Gaffigan's next act. The Volcano Taco? Cheesy lava sauce? Who comes up with this? We know where that's gonna explode. You won't just be running for the border, that's for sure.
Do tacos need any catchy, colorful, explanatory, name whatsoever? Taco. Burrito. Enchilada. They speak for themselves and we know what to expect. But if we really need a new name that appropriately explains consequences, I have a suggestion.

MONTEZUMA'S ENCHILADA! The ultimate Explosion!

(Only 89 cents).

(BTW, I dedicate this post to my friend Derek Balavac who by far wins the Oscar in adding to the foulness of society's olfaction. His wife deserves your prayer).

Fall imix

This imix comes out of starting the Fall in September, dealing with death, and remembering my weaknesses and need for God. I found myself weeping and dancing all at the same time while listening to this mix in a coffee shop. Some of these songs are ones we sing as a church together on Sunday Nights at PCC, others are songs I've found (and had for a while) that lift me up.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hallowed this Saturday 10/25/08

6th Annual Hallowed: an underground awakening – This Saturday, October 25th at 7 pm – Club Oasis, 200 N First St. San Jose. The theme is “Lens” which will be focused on compassion. View Short films and photography. Experience partnerships with other churches, and hear a myriad of music genres. Hear music by this band AFTER SUNDAY.

Here are videos from the past:



Hear music by this band AFTER SUNDAY.

Please support the arts. This is quality art, music, and film produced by Christians. We have participated in this event over the past few years and always been glad we did.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Crazy long post re: Revelation 2:8-17 notes

As a Church, we are studying Revelation and being blessed for just reading it. We are approaching this book as a tool for growing in our discipleship, for learning more about Jesus and who he is, who we are, and who the church is called to be. Revelation is about REVEALING who Jesus is. Listen to my talk here: and if you like check out my scrapbook of notes below.

Sunday I did a quick recap:
John, last listing disciple of Jesus, wrote it. He was in his 80's.
Imprisoned/exiled on the Island of Patmos
96AD (Remember some say the Disciples were teens at the time of Jesus)
This revelation came to him AS HE WAS WORSHIPPING. Jesus revealed himself and spoke to him about the churches, his kingdom, himself, and his future reign. During a time when there was much persecution of the church under the reign of a king named Domitian. I suggest listening to the previous talks by PCC's lead pastor here.

THE BOOK OF REVELATION IN GENERAL IS MORE THAN JUST PROPHECY AND APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE-in fact theologian N.T. Wright says that Revelation was more about inspiring 1st Century Christians in the truth then forecasting dates and times. IT WAS AND IS MEANT TO BE A DISCIPLESHIP TOOL both for early Christians and for us today!
In the beginning of John’s Revelation-Jesus spoke a word to seven churches. These seven churches really existed at the time (see Map above), and had real teaching, warning, praise, and correction. But in totality all 7 letters summarized are a complete word to the whole universal church. Symbolically in the Bible 7 is complete number! In Revelation 2: 8:17 Chapter 2 focused on two letters-the one to Smyrna and to Pergamum.

Quick letter recap: Each of the seven letters has the same pattern.
1-Jesus introduces/identifies himself—and in a different way each time
2-Jesus encourages the church
3-Jesus rebukes the church (if they needed it)
4-Jesus corrects the church
5-Jesus promises to the church

-Smyrna-Revelation 2:8-11
Is the modern Izmir, in Turkey. A port city. A beautiful city. Smyrna claimed -on its coins-- to being the "first city of Asia in size and beauty.” Perhaps this is why Jesus presented himself as the 1st and the last to this city took pride in it’s being “1st.” They had lots of wealth (and gold) in which to glorify themselves, but the Christians there remained separate.

Smyrna was one of the only two churches in which Jesus does not rebuke for sinful behavior. Jesus commended his church for not worshipping the glitz of the city or bowing down to the emperor and pagan idol worship. In fact, Jesus commends them for being rich (in faith, integrity—eternal treasure) which was reflected in their perseverance through tribulation. It was said that these Christians were rejected and boycotted by the city because they wouldn’t conform to the culture (of idol worship,etc) and their businesses and livelihood were affected—literally impoverishing them. But what was more important was their heart and posture of worship and God-honoring living. Jesus blesses them—and doesn’t say he’ll take the persecution away—in fact-- the message to Smyrna promises that the congregation will soon face a more persecution, linked to a synagogue of Satan (v. 9) ---composed of those who say they are Jews and are not. Like the "false apostles" who had come to Ephesus, these “said” Jews are liars claiming to be something other than what they are. Most commentators identify this group as actual ethnic Jews in Smyrna who refused to accept Jesus as Messiah (See Paul's distinction between "outwardly" and "inwardly) –And history says these Jews were even responsible for reporting their refusal to worship to Rome and it’s said that these Jews could even have participated in the martyring of faithful Christians.

What stands out here in the commendation is connected to what James 1 says.

Jesus closes his 2nd letter with a promise to those who “overcome.” This is again reference to the affliction in vs. 9, and the testing in 10. Both of these refer strictly to persecution (Greek word thlipsis means "being pressed upon from an outside source." Although God wants us to cast our “other” cares on him and overcome our personal struggles such as debt issues, relational woes, health issues, etc—this particular passage strictly deals with overcoming the persecution of our faith. So how does this apply to us here in America? Much like we talked about when we studied Daniel chapter 3 during the summer, a majority of our persecution in the US here won’t be like that of 1st century Christians-or that 21st century war stricken/extreme Muslim controlled territory. But we do have "idol worship" here (comfort, culture, money, sex, things, etc) and we will face possible rejection from our friends/families, co-workers, teachers/professors, neighbors etc., when we don't bow down to it. —we may be labeled intolerant, stereotyped and misunderstood for taking particular stands. Now remember this does not give us license to be rude, condemning, cold, argumentative, condescending, or snobbish.

The Christians in Smyrna were being rejected for the bold stands-so much that their businesses were going under—losing homes, etc. Today, the stands that we might take for God i.e.-for integrity in your business practices, you might not be in a relationship because of your purity standards, you definitely won't be POPULAR on your high school an college campuses. You might not be the most sought after story-teller in the locker room, but what you will have is God's affirmation on you as you stand firm. Jesus says to his disciples in Mark, 13:13 that people will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm until will be saved. So what do we do with real life issues and conversations around the water cooler, coffee shop, cafeteria, park, and neighborhood or wherever you find yourself.

Two topics currently come to mind that might bring a "persecution." For example totally relevant right now is current political issues in the election like life and propositions on definition of marriage. Or even Halloween (Purchase an E-book here). Glorifying murder and evil acts, entertainment by fear. We need to be informed. If the Bible is our authority we will take stands that make us different from the world.

How do we handle these things?
With grace and patience. We must not argue, we must not fight or condescend .
Are we willing to be labeled? Intolerant, misunderstood, prude, and unpopular? Are we as Christians in business with honest practices, willing to "become poor" in order to honor God?

1 peter 3 But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 1

Jesus was commending the church in Smyrna for holding their faith and integrity—and weren’t willing to give it up for financial security, popularity, nothing..

The heart of Jesus’ message was to continue be faithful to the end—to be free from the 2nd death (hell/lake of fire, eternal separation from God. -rev 13 & 14 foreshadow the need for the saints to be patient and have endurance.

-Pergamum-Revelation 2:12-17

To Pergamum,16 miles inland, Jesus presented himself as the one who hold the
Double-edged sword: which represents the word of God (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus presents himself in this way because 1st—the church met in city that had huge thrones for idol worship-Zeus being one of them (So much that Jesus calls it the place where Satan lives.—some say Satan actually could have been dwelling there at the time, since he is not omnipresent or that this reference was to one of temple gods Asklepius.

thought to be a healer who healed with snakes-hence the parallel Satan. Interesting though, that the AMA uses the symbol for this Greco-Roman medicine god, today. (I am not saying that modern medicine is evil, no, just interesting that it's a part of our culture today and not many of us know that).

Do you recognize this symbol? It is used today. Does this mean that all medicine is evil? No, I am not saying that, just goes to show that there are many influences in our culture that come from the Greco-Roman pagan culture.

Some Christians in Pergamum were lost in waves of theological confusion because of the Nicolatians—who believed that there was a separation between what we did with our body and our Spirit—encouraged people to do whatever they wanted with their bodies-which brought Sexual immorality from within the church. IT wasn’t about their being influenced from without, but from within-they might not have been worshipping pagan Gods—but they were just a little off in their theology which affected how they acted.

We as the church have a responsibility to uphold God’s standards of holiness. Have you taken the spiritual life survey? This is for PCC members, —EXPECTATIONS ON LEAD PASTOR) We all share in the privilege of teaching the ways of Jesus Christ---What was happening in Pergamum happens today. 2 things standout. Within the Church I think there are two groups of people--Somehow some people just miss the complete story—the story of God’s love through Christ, and his plan for our life how it entails right doctrine, right behavior—so we need to teach people, we need to disciple, young believers on the truth. That's why Jesus introduced himself as the double edged swoard! 2nd is simply there are some within the church in outright disobedience. There are Christians who know God’s design but secretly reject it and givein to temptation,. It can come through poor boundaries, weak faith, immature convictions, and lack of self-control. Much like some teachings Paul countered in Corinth. “Everything is permissible.” Do whatever you want with your body, God forgives, and you are separate physical and spiritual. But God wants us body, mind, soul, consecrated for holiness. This was plain truth from Acts 15, 1 Cor 10:7-8. Jesus is giving them time to repent, before he himself comes against them—and FIGHTS THEM (whoa) with the sword of his mouth. Paul calls us as the church to “judge”-meaning call out right and wrong—within the body of believers .

John Macarthur says this is done poorly by the church at large. I think it’s done poorly because we expect the paid pastors to do it (hence the spiritual life survey expectations for lead pastors), or like me sometimes, I'm fearful of confrontation. It’s all of our responsibility to speak the truth in love.

Grand/Parents, are we approving and condoning sexual immorality with TV shows, magazines, books, or movies we allow in our children to watch? Are we engaging in deep, authentic conversations with our friends, brothers, and sisters in Christ? Could our children see any of our habits as characteristics as those that Jesus might be rebuking and addressing here in Revelation 2?

Singles—are you keeping your friends accountable to God-honoring living, and asking your dating friends about their purity? What's your view on couples living together? So you have scripture references to share with your friends about purity?

Lauren Winner in her book, “Real Sex,” says that within the church community—sex is everyone’s business.” That when we correctly handle the beauty of God’s design for sex—only between one man and woman in marriage—we don’t keep those conversations “private/personal”--we celebrate it and discuss it in healthy ways as means care about it for each of the church’s members. Jesus loves us too much not to point this out and hold his church to a high and holy standard. Hebrews 12:14-15. Galatians 6:1-6

Inadvertently, or unintentionally we may allow ungodly behavior to exist within our church family. How does this play out with things like: what we wear, PDA (public display of affection) joking, entertainment choices, magazines we read, facebook status updates and picture postings?
MY ENTOURAGE ISSUE, ya know I LOVE entertainment, films, etc. I was into watching DVDS of HBO's entourage because it was about this actor living in LA and all the behind the scenes stuff with agents, casting directors, etc. But what the show did was glorify one night stands and hook-ups.

I really began to feel uncomfortable watching it. I wondered, what if my wife was in the room? How would she would? I was convicted that I didn't condone this type of behavior and didn't want to spend half of each episode fast forwarding through sex scenes. Overall, this show perpetuated the idea that women were just objects to be used. I didn't need those lies swirling around in my head. I have enough battle to do with out adding to my mind's images! I stopped my viewing of this show to honor God, keep pure, and honor my wife. These are the things that God wants us to compare with his word. Are we truly purified in all that we do?

If we justify little things, we slowly erode. Little things can become big things very quickly.

Galatians 5:7-9,

I’d love to see us be a safe, trusting, grace-filled church that we can say, “Hey I noticed that your updated your facebook status yesterday-and it said you were hanging out with so and so at 11:54pm, how was that? Or I noticed the pics you posted from your Halloween party—had a lot of people holding a lot of plastic red cups. What was in those cups? Or, "Because I care about you and your relationship with God so much, I want to ask you a couple questions about what I'm observing between you and so and so!

Galatians 5, we must care 1-about God and his kingdom values 2-and care about each other enough to address these issues.

When I was in college I did some extra work as a fundraiser/telephone recruiter. It was for a Christian organization and it was really just an easy job and a lot of my friends did it, we could make our own schedules and eventually I because a student director, which meant I got a set of keys and had a few extra responsibilities. One night I went in after hours,because I had left something at the desks— all the lights were off and I took the elevator up to the third floor and walked down the hall way toward the caller cubes—when I saw a light toward the end of the hallway. That's when I saw one of my supervisors looking at pornography.
The flickering computer light and bodily images sucked him so much that he was in a trance. He didn't even see me—I backed out, frozen, and didn't say anything. Ever. More than a decade later, I wonder (with grief and sorrow in my heart for not confronting the issues)
What has happened to him? Did he have an addiction? Did he ever get help? Is he married now? Divorced? Did he ever damage anyone else in the wake of sin? I felt a tremendous sorrow for not taking action for what I might have helped prevent. I was too scared of the reaction. I didn't rely on God's Spirit for courage. I didn't care about him, God, or the community at large. I cared more about myself and how I might feel if the confrontation didn't go well.

It reminded me how Uncle Ben, PeterParker/Spiderman's adopted father, lost his life because Peter didn't stop a burglar when he had the chance.

He was too self focused to take a stand and therefore the consequence was the murder of his Uncle by this very same burglar later in the day.

Doesn't the same thing happen in the church when we aren't willing to confront sin from within?
Will you be willing to step up and help other beleivers in our church with their walk with God? Jesus is looking that his whole church be pure and holy and this means that we all have the priveledge of helping each other do so!

If you or someone you know has pornography issues, visit NOV 6th's event by PornNation in San Jose. Pass this info on.

Are you aware of anything—any attitudes or behaviors that don’t obey God’s standards--or are you waiting for someone else to deal with it?

I ask those of you who are mature Christians to step into mentoring roles and leadership roles. We have many young men and women—and new Christians who need your guidance. (PCC Student Ministries is currently lacking leaders for their small groups).

PARENTS—this is a givein—but let me remind you what PCC has been teaching for years—YOU ARE THE PRIMARY PASTOR..we get the great priveledge to raise up godly men and women that live lives that hoor God—to be a part of his bride the church..

Do you need some affirmation in your faith? Who knows you to be able to see where you are growing?

Are you fearful of stepping out in boldness for fear of persecution?
Are you aware of anything in your life, or in the life of another that needs to be gracefully pointed for repentance?
Have you overlooked something that has caused damage?

Are you running the race as if to win?

There are many interpreations to this white rock reference in Revelation 2: 17. The one I thought was especially meaningful was this the white rocks given as special invitations to victorious atheletes. In ancient times white rocks symbolized entrance to the victory celebration. Just like those of us who are invited into the celebration of enternity with a new name-a new identity given to us by Jesus in our newness after we die!

So today, celebrate someone for standing firm. Pray with and for someone who lives out their faith authentically and with perseverance.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sex is everybody's business

I am loving preparing for my message this Sunday on Revelation 2:8-17. Thanks to the 2 (uh, what's  up the that, come on help me out) people who helped contribute digitally (one on my blog and one on facebook).

I'm especially challenged with the need for the church to actively participate in encouraging holiness! Check out Revelation 2:12-17. If we are aware of any followers of Jesus that are involved activity that compromises God's design for sex, we need to LOVE THEM  enough to point it out. It's all our business. In fact, that's what Lauren winner says in her book (I just got it) Real Sex.  She has this chapter called, "Communal Sex: Or why your neighbor has any business asking what you did last night."

Sex, in the church, is every one's business. (Listen to part 1 of her talk here). (And Part 2 Here) Since God designed for it to be celebrated between one man and one woman in marriage it's supposed to be a good thing. And ultimately keeping it like that affects everyone around. We should be encouraging Christian singles, marrieds, divorcees, widows, etc. all in the same way to keep, honor, and celebrate God's design. Which means it's OK (and we should) to ask a fellow follower of Christ, "How's your sexual purity and how's it going honoring God with your sex life?" In doing so, we honor God and bless others. If some one's not a proclaimed follower of Christ, it's NOT OK to expect that they uphold, or would want to honor, God's design. But it's great to dialog with people in grace-filled ways that
are respectful and kind. 

Also. Check out Hebrews 12:1-16, especially vs 15-16  that says many (that's us, and people you know) can be "defiled" if we don't honor God with our lives and our sin isn't held accountable. It's all our responsibility. 

Join us Sunday October 19th, 9:15am, 11am, 5:30pm

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

While trying to study Revelation...I checked entertainment news.

Ok, so I already confessed this a few posts back, but I've always liked Madonna's music (note I said her music). I grew up with posters of her on my wall and busted dance moves to her honor in my basement (we had those things in Illinois).  Ya, it was probably a boyhood crush, but she was, and is, an amazing, expressive artist-even though she causes much controversy. So, for whatever reasons, I've followed her, prayed for her, wondered about her, and tonight I'm sad for her. 

According to Yahoo News, Madonna is getting a divorce, for the second time. I don't share this as entertainment gossip, but as real prayer worthy news. She's a celebrity and think what you want about the glitz & glam of Hollywood culture (I have this on-going love/frustration tension with it), but  she's an icon in our culture. She influences millions. And even though I'm sure her publicist will say, "they'll remain close friends," or something that publicists often say, she's hurting and her kids are hurting. I just see her as one very public figure on a huge quest to find herself ....and the true God who made her.

Pray for her. Pray for Guy Ritchie. Especially the kids. Lourdes, Rocco, David (adopted from Malawi). Pray for her to come near to the real God and to see the truth through her (incorrect theological) practices of Kabbaalah.

As a child of divorce myself, I know the pain of broken family. So tonight, I pray for families, children, spouses, and anyone who has suffered through this kind of pain.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Studying the last letter in the book

Peninsula Covenant Church (PCC)  is studying the book of Revelation. What an undertaking. We have every Sunday slated until June to study and discuss the book. Before the great, sometimes misunderstood,  battle of the dragon and the lamb come some great theology about Jesus and the Church. The letters to the seven churches are full of amazing encouragement, warning, and correction in the beginning of John's Revelation. This week I am tackling Revelation 2, the letters to the churches that met in Smyrna and Pergamum (Rev 2:8-17). I will be speaking at PCC's worship center at 9:15am, 11am, and 5:30pm. I would love your prayer. I would also love your insight. I want to know what people think is important to include in interacting with this part of the apocalyptic scripture. 

What do you observe, from simply reading the text, that stands out?

What questions arise from this scripture that you, or others might have?

I'd love your help in shaping the message. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Don't Go church (Part 2)

I want to encourage us AS the Church to be adamant about using the word correctly (See here for part one). I truly believe that this correct use of the word will help the people  understand more clearly who and what the Church is called to be. We are called to be a part of a movement, a group of people who serve and live out a mission of good news. This good news is of God's love and his plan to redeem of all the world's brokenness into order, family, grace, and the peace of his kingdom through Jesus Christ.

Think about this. If we use the word incorrectly because of cultural traditions, old habits, or because we are too lazy to use it correctly, we actually spread wrong theology. Here are some examples:
1-Wanna come to church? (Aka what people hear: wanna sit in  a building, be bored, and be religious?)

2-I'm getting ready to go to church. (I have to dress up and do this thing once-a-week religious thing).

3-Meet me at Church (park your car in a parking lot and meet me inside a building). 

4-What are you doing after church? (aka: After we're done singing and praying, lets eat and talk about other things).

See how different this sounds?:

1-Interested in joining a movement that will change your life? I'm a part of this really awesome community that is devoted to being like Jesus. We study the Bible and we have discussions about applying it to our lives. It's interactive and they actually encourage questions. . We really want to make a difference by serving people in our community and world. 

2-Our church meets Sunday Night as a large gathering of people, (and actually other times through out the week in small groups). You can come a you are.  You actually don't have to dress up, if you don't want. It's casual because what's more important than what you look like is who you are.
Ok, so maybe those things sound too formal or scripted. Make it personal and natural for you, just make sure you spread correct theology. I think this will take a lot of intentionality and practice. Just listen for how many times a building is actually referred to as a church in your own conversations.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dangerous Beauty

Although some would disagree, California does have a slight change in the seasons. The other day, my wife and I were hanging out and I was admiring this beautiful tree off our deck. 
There are these beautiful red leaves crawling up like a vine. It made me want to get all Tarzan-like and crawl off the deck to swing from the tree. I thought it was so beautiful. Then my wife chimed in,"That's Poison Oak." (Or for those biology geeks and horticulture fanatics: "Toxicodendron diversilobum.)

Wow. I  never would have never known. If I did follow my chest-beating/thong wearing tendencies, I might have ended up like this. I was completely ignorant. Since she's a California native she's wise like that!  Of course it made me think how careful we must be in living our lives.  It's our responsibility to be aware of what's going on around us, live life intentionally, and obediently if we are following Jesus Christ. This means we must know God's word. We are welcome to use excuses, but that sometimes won't stop the consequences. It's like sin. It acts like our friend and then quickly betrays us. Sin is deceitful. That's why we fall into it. We know it may be only temporary, and it may have negative consequences, but we do it anyway because we want to, we think it's beautiful, tastes good, will relieve pain, and won't really hurt us. And ultimately because we are willing to forego the results for immediate satisfaction, we suffer.

Like eating a whole bag of potato chips or a a box of Krispy Cremes (oh, yes, I've done this). 
Like clicking "just once" on a sexy, computer image pop-up. 
Like pursuing a woman (or man) for a quick, non-committal, good time, one night "hook-up."
Like thinking we can handle 3 drinks when we should stop at 2.
Like fantasizing about the new employee at work.
Like hanging out one on one with someone who doesn't share our convictions.

It can "just happen" in an instant. We do something that we regret. Even things that we thought were good or beautiful. And sometimes these little things, can lead to more things, bigger things, and dangerous/unhealthy things. 

We are all susceptible to sin,  the dangerous beauty. But thankfully we have God's grace (Titus 2:11-13 ) which teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Just like the Poison Oak, sin can creep into our lives like a vine, looking beautiful and inviting. It can come in a pill, a person, or a thought that lingers too long.  That's why knowing God's truth and sharing friendships/life with trustworthy, God-centered people is a priority. 
We need people who can point things out, share truth, pray, and partner with us in life to protect us from being deceived into sin. I shudder to think what would have happened if my wife didn't call out that botanical bully. Thanks to Wendy, I'm not rashy right now. 

Who's the "Wendy" in your life that you go for help? (And you don't have to be married to have someone like this!) Who's the "Wendy" in your life that can spot your need for truth? Has there been a "Wendy" in your life that pointed something out and saved you from being "rashy?" (I'd love to hear the story if you want to share).
Make sure you say thank you and love your "Wendy," today. 
And..make sure YOU ARE A "WENDY," for others. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I don't babysit daughter.

Another confirmation that the roles of men are slightly twisted in society.

I was pushing Isella in the cart up to the man checking out groceries (and no we don't use the super duper cart covers)

and had the following interaction:
Man at checkout: Hi who's this?
Me: This is my daughter, Isella.
Man at checkout: Oh, is daddy babysitting today?

Me: No, I'm just spending time with her as my wife's away right now.

I guess I felt a little off put. I don't babysit my daughter, ever. When it's just me and her, I'm spending time with her one on one, not babysitting. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be defensive and I'm sure this guy wasn't trying to be insulting whatsoever but it made me wonder about his perspective. Here's where I psychoanalyze.

I don't like the assumption that if mom's not around that dad "just babysits" Nothing against babysitting, but a father needs to be much more than just a short term, temporary caretaker.

There are assumptions of fatherhood. Wrong perceptions of a dad's responsibility. That's why this post is so important. Is this just because many dads aren't seen with their kids or it's assumed that dads don't spend time with their kids ? Or is it just more common that moms/women and kids are the ones shopping? Either way, it just struck me strange, and I felt a little sad because of it.

What I would have rather heard: "Oh is today a a daddy daughter day?, or "Great, some special one on one time with daddy and his daughter. That's great to see."

Bottom line for me and my children, I want to be a very loving and present father who is engaged in their life.

Am I too sensitive or analytical?
Is this a true perspective as seen in our society, (why/how)?
Should we use the cart covers while grocery shopping?

Are you seeing this movie?

Many of us are flocking to the theater this weekend to see the (SELECT CITIES) opening of CALL + RESPONSE. Those in Redwood City are hitting up Century 20 for the 7:30pm show, but it will be there all weekend, including Sunday Night after our gathering. I had a pre-screening with some friends and I highly recommend seeing this flick. It will open your eyes even more and challenge you to live out the words of Isaiah 58.

Chicago, IL! October 16-23

Sexual enslavement happens to 27 million people all across the world and it happens right under your nose.

We need to do something about it.

If you can stomach it, click This link for a horrifying story.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Ok, where are the hidden cameras?

So my wife and I are at the movies last week. We're having a little coffee before the flick starts when my wife spots this:

Are you kidding me?

What would you do?
A-Ignore it, it's not my problem. I'm just here to see a movie.
B-Notify the manager asap, this is a matter of national, financial security.
C-Take a peak, what harm is there in that? I've always wondered what's inside an ATM.
D-Snag some cash and run. Or maybe get some popcorn, some new shoes, or a trip to Hawaii.
E-__________ (you fill in the blank).

This is where you comment. Can you tell I'm trying to create a little interaction here?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

DON'T GO TO Church (part 1)

I don't go to Church. I won't let my kids go to church, either. Because it's actually impossible to GO TO church. We ARE (a part of) the Church. This is a case where semantics are very important. You wouldn't say, "I'm going TO family would you?" Or how about, "Were you IN FAMILY Sunday?" It's the same thing. You see, the picture of the white building here is often wrongly referred to as a/the church. (As does this horrible definition)

It is very important that we use this word correctly. I believe it's a key (one of many) to the gospel, good evangelism, and good theology.
Here's a good biblical definition:
The word translated "church" in the Bible is ekklesia. This word is the Greek words kaleo (to call), with the prefix ek (out). Thus, the word means "the called out ones." It refers to PEOPLE! However, the English word "church" does not come from ekklesia but from the word kuriakon, which means "dedicated to the Lord." This word was commonly used to refer to a holy place or temple. By the time of Jerome's translation of the New Testament from Greek to Latin, it was customary to use a derivative of kuriakon to translate ekklesia. Therefore, the popularized word "church" in the english language is a poor translation of the word ekklesia --since when it is used, people imply a sacred building, or temple. A more accurate translation would be "assembly" because the term ekklesia was used to refer to a group of people who had been called out to a meeting. It was also used as a synonym for the word synagogue, which also means to "come together," i.e. a gathering. "Body of Christ" Since believers have been united with Christ through spiritual baptism, they are sometimes corporately referred to as the body of Christ. (Rom. l2:4-5; 1 Cor. l2:11,13,l8,27; Col. l:l8; Eph. 5:30) The idea seems to be that the group of Christians in the world constitute the physical representation of Christ on earth.

The church is the PEOPLE. It's better to refer to THOSE GOING IN the building as the CHURCH. So, with that said, WE CANNOT GO TO church. We ARE the Church. I know it's hard to change, but I believe we must work at changing the way we use the word.
Instead of: I go to church... Try: I am a part of a church (family).
Instead of: We are late to church... Try: we are late to the church's worship gathering.
Instead of: Good to see you in church today...Try :I love that you are a part of our church (that meets here). Instead of: Would you like to go to my church on Sunday?... Try: My church meets on Sunday if you want to join us sometime.

If we want to be Biblical, if we want to be good theologians, It's a must. If we refer to the building we worship in as the Church, I believe it transmits the wrong message. Think about it. What happens when people (the unbelieving world or even Christians for that matter) see the Church as a building or a place where people meet once a week?

more to come

Saturday, October 04, 2008

No grunting necessary

Maybe medieval boys celebrated it when they got their armor and a nice slap with a sword. And I'm sure boys within tribal communities experience this when they're presented with bow and arrow (or some other weapon that can clobber) and the right to hunt. But today, here in 21st century America, we really don't have anything that's a regular, exercised part of our culture. Although some wrongly think it's about belching, grunting, farting, money making, pumping iron, and womanizing.

I'm talking about lost celebration of bestowing true manhood. I mean, I never had anything like what I read in this great book (which is a must read for all men, especially dads of sons):
Although not the most eye catching cover art in the world, the content is amazing. I read it single in my early-mid twenties. This book helped me figure out my manhood. It talks about fathers intentionally teaching their sons (through "threshold celebrations/experiences) how to become men by leading courageously, rejecting passivity, accepting responsibility, and waiting for God's great reward. It thoroughly rejects and doesn't recognize the faux characteristics listed above as true manhood. (If you are male and have never had a type of experience like this-I highly recommend putting something together, it's life changing no matter how old you are. I got to experience and practice what the book taught with the significant men friends in my life. Of whom one is the much missed, new Texan: Matt Nightingale, who actually turned me on to this book).

So the reason I post this is I was invited to participate in such a threshold experience for a boy in our church family who turned 13 this week. His parents arranged a one day journey of meeting (and eating) with Godly men (One of which was PCC's lead pastor, Gary, who has also been instrumental in my life) to talk about what means to be a man (as suggested in the book). For my leg of the tour I took newly turned 13 year old lad and his dad on a mini-hike. It was a very, very, short walk, lets say (in the forest behind where I live), as I didn't tell them ahead of time and so we lacked appropriate hiking gear, namely shoes that would prevent from slipping into the ravine. Nonetheless, it was great as we sat on a tree trunk out in creation and talked about manhood and the great adventure that it is.

* I read from Mark 1 and discussed the example of John the Baptist who led the way for Jesus, and didn't conform to culture. (What a man. A beast of a man who wore crazy clothes and ate crazy things. And he wasn't even in a college fraternity).

* I had Dad and son write letters to themselves to be sent a year from now, about how they want to grow as men. Real men live purposeful, goal oriented lives.

*We listened to Real Men Cry, by the Elms. (And yes it was via my iphone. It's not like we could truly "rough it," I said it was a mini-hike.) Real men are in touch with the way God made them and not afraid to express emotions in healthy ways. And yes, some men are very technically savvy.

* We focused on two attributes of men: Humility and Leadership (displayed in both John the Baptizer and Jesus) .

*We identified Jesus as our great model of manhood. (You knew that was coming). Because Real men are willing to sacrifice and even die for the truth and for God.

*We ended our time picking up large sticks and both the father and I 'knighted" the son (touched his shoulders) by speaking over him with attributes of manhood (integrity, leadership, confidence, etc) and prayed over him.

This is catching on and Dads are taking up the great privilege of leading their sons in our community. I love it.

What do you think about this? This isn't just about men, but women, too. Believe me, I've already starting reading up. (They have many threshold experiences for girls, one is a princess kiss book ala the same thinking ). What was significant in your life to affirm your identity as a man or woman? What did you wish you would have had? If you are a parent do you have any ideas? School me.

Friday, October 03, 2008

More good news is always welcome

I forgot to post this in the midst of all that went on last week, but here's the good news!

See this little baby girl? She's home.

This is Glory Ruth! Born three months early, with almost two months in the NICU, she's returned to be with her loving family. I am overhwhelmed with God's grace. Thank you to all who prayed. Please lift up the whole family as they adjust to new life and care for this little miracle.

Don't we all just need to hear stories like this? That's hope. That's God. That's God's Glory.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


PCC has has many staff policies.
Here's one of them.

Bereavement Leave In the event of the death of your current spouse, child, parent, legal guardian, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, or mother-, father-, sister-, brother-, son- or daughter-in-law, you may take up to three consecutive scheduled work days off with pay with the approval of the Church. Your supervisor may approve additional unpaid time off.

So I've taken advantage of the policy. I just long to have some time good time to read, process and pray. And the reality is as husband and father, time is limited so I will take what I can get. I've done some resting, went on a bike ride with Isella, and today Wendy and I got to get out and go on a mid-day date (thanks again Grandparents)! We
saw the new movie Eagle Eye (Good action but I suggest you wait to rent it on DVD). But what brought me inspiration was the trailers. (I know I'm not the only one who loves trailers, right? Seriously I have spent hours on this site. ) The Soloist. I'm excited to see this movie because it reminded me of some friends that I have made on the street. And it reminds me of God's heart for the poor. We'll see how it actually pans out on the silver screen.