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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