Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

2009 Winter Retreat Video

I finally finished editing the video from our retreat three weeks ago. As always, I continue to love our community and I am especially encouraged after spending hours editing. I always have sweet moments of prayer and reflection looking over clips (over and over again. And this time I did a lot of laughing). I remember what God did on the retreat for us as a whole but as I see the faces of the people in the video, and I also remember God's work in each of them individually. I seriously love thinking about how God has written each story and transformed each person, transforming us all. I completely enjoy my calling to pastor in our church family and to invest in the lives and futures of each of PCC's young adults. Not only is it fun, but it's deeply fulfilling and worshipful to be a part of this community, this awesome family of God!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Emergency Prayer Request for Angelina Jolie

I say that tongue in cheek, but I hope we really do pray for her, but not necessarily for the reason I'm going to share. I often like to tune into the newest films, music, and pop culture happenings like this and like that. Usually when I check the online news I see what's going on in entertainment (sometimes 1st sadly). But today I just rolled my eyes at the headlined "scandal" of the day. Angelina Jolie was.....wearing her dress backwards.
OH NO! Somebody call a paramedic! Brad, how could you let that happen? Would some stylist please save her, do her nails, or at least cover her up with a silk scarf from Dolce & Gabbana..Something! QUICK!!
Seriously what in the world? Every three seconds children are dying of hunger and we waste our time on this. Sometimes I wonder if all the high schoolers who refuse to grow up after graduation (even through they continue to age) make their way into Hollywood reporting. So, although somewhat sarcastic, I do still feel committed to pray for Hollywood. Think how many Hollywood types put on the "happy face" of fame, wealth, and satisfaction but suffer in secret sadness as they derive their value from the continuous public critique of their personhood, let alone their work (or clothing). So, that's one reason I pray for celebrities. And I pray for Hollywood because it's one of the biggest influences in today's culture..including the church so it must also be our mission field. God save us all....even those who are fashionably challenged.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hankies and Aprons

I've been incredibly struck with God's power lately. I can't seem to get away from seeing his power revealed through scripture when I read it. I've also been so stoked on listening and reading Francis Chan's work (You can podcast his message free on itunes). Here's a page from my journal after reading and listening:

The Greek word for power (dunamis) in Ephesians 3: 14-20 is the same word for dynamite! POWER. Explosive power! God wants to display his power through his people the church. Are we seeing that happening today? I can't seem to get to get away from reading about God's awesome power to raise the dead, give sight to the blind, heal the sick, and do amazing things. I'm pretty sure God didn't just intend for us to get together once a week for a service and then another time for a small group. There must be more...I see it in the book of Acts (especially chapter 2!) I know those aren't just stories for "way back then." I mean, God even used handkerchiefs and aprons to heal people. Read this from Acts 19. God's power came out of stinkin' hankies. My mind is exploding. This can happen today. I'm starting to see a little more. I'm starting to believe a little more. God's opening my eyes. I want my eyes to open more!

That's why I need to have faith in situations like this, and remember God can do anything. And if you haven't, check out THE FINGER OF GOD.

Friday, January 23, 2009

death by war and abortion

Death is not an easy subject to talk about especially when it comes to such, often considered "politically charged," issues as war and abortion. A friend sent me this link and the numbers saddened me.

Whatever your stance these are heartbreaking realities.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Facing a Giant

Occasionally I get cool opportunities to live into one of my passions and hobbies--acting! This post isn't exactly about one of those opportunities. This week I was a "stand in" for a commercial. Not quite acting nor the most lucrative job in the entertainment industry by any means, (it's one of the lowest places on the film industry totem pole, besides being an "extra."). Although it pays fairly well by the Screen Actors Guild, most stand-ins (and extras) are not treated all that well. Extras are sometimes referred to as background furniture and another stand-in and myself joked how we were referred to as "things." That's why I often avoid these roles. But this opportunity gave us as some extra finances, the ability to give to a ministry we love to support, and it was a really cool (ironic) commercial. It was for a new MLB Video game featuring the SF Giants! That's the laughable part, I am the farthest thing from an actual baseball player. BUT HEY..I CAN ACT LIKE I'M ONE and this week I was the stand-in for an SF's celebrity, Tim Lincecum, the pitcher for the Giants. We just happen to both be 5'10" and 170lbs.

Tim's a phenomenon really. Look him up. Despite being quite the celebrity, he was really cool and friendly. No traces of arrogance or pride at such a young age, and that was cool to see. He was very willing to take pics or sign autographs. He even was willing to leave a phone message for a friend of mine who's a huge fan (who ended up answering), and autographed a ball for me, too. (I felt like a weirdo fan asking for it, but he quickly obliged, with the caveat it wasn't for me).

The cool thing about opportunities like that is that I am trying to be bold in my faith and I'm trying to make the most of every opportunity God gives me. I want to be used by God, so after spending the day in small talk and surface conversation I asked Tim if he needed any prayer (after the commercial wrapped). Yep! Awkward? Sure. Hard, yes. Intimating? Uh huh!..But hey, God put us in places for a reason and I don't ever want to be ashamed to pray or speak out for God..to anyone..celebrity/athlete or not. Here's how it went:
Me: Tim, hey man can I pray for you?
Tim: uh.. What?
Me: Prayer? Is there anything I could pray for you about? Do you want any prayer..for anything?
Tim: No, that's cool..oh wait. Sideburns. I really want sideburns. I can't grow a lot facial hair.
Me:...uh..what?.... OH...Kay... Sideburns. I'll pray for sideburns for you.

Usually, I offer to lay hands on the person and pray no matter what they ask for--(like last week when I prayed for a guy with a drug addiction outside Safeway or in a gas station when I prayed for a guy who wanted a dirt bike)..but this time I just assured him I'd pray. It's not that I don't believe God couldn't instantly grow Elvis sideburns the size of Mt. Rushmore on this face, it just wasn't quite the right time as other eager fans with sharpies requested his autograph on Sports Illustrated magazines and other random objects. So, I'm praying that crazy amounts of hair start growing out of the side of that pitcher's face and he remembers that he asked for prayer for it!

Here's to miracles and wonders. God please give me the faith and the Giant's pitcher MAMMOTH SIDEBURNS. Wouldn't that be awesome? Like a Bruce Almighty moment!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

God working in a magician

This video Vlog from renowned magician and atheist Penn is very interesting and reminds me that others will see our love...even if they don't agree or believe in God and his love. 1 Peter reminds us that in our love we should be kind and respectful so that even if people disagree or disrespect us they'll end up realizing the truth.
Sincerity, looking people in the eye, and genuinely caring...hmmm..that actually touches people, even atheists.

Monday, January 19, 2009

InnerChange

This Sunday we have a special guest speaker joining us for our Street Church Team lunch (Sunday 1/25 12:30pm). His name is Matt Miles, he actually interned with PCC back in 1999. He now serves with Innerchange in San Francisco and has a great heart and ability to serve with the poor- seeing God's Kingdom come. This video here describes a little bit of what InnerChange is all about. If you are interested in hearing about innerChange and/or learning how this can help you be more effective in ministry please join us and RSVP to me at tonyg@peninsulacovenant.com

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby Theology

We can already see my daughter's creativity, imagination, and theology coming out at 21 months old. She now says she's "pretending" and talks to her baby dolls and animals, showing them around, asking them questions and even answering for them. She has suggested we pray for them, too so I make sure to thank God for making teddy and koala bears. She has also used her Koala bear to lay hands on me when I asked her to pray for my mouth. It was really a sweet moment that I wasn't sure if I was going to laugh or cry. She also has started changing the lyrics to some songs, like Mary had a little lamb. Sometimes Mary has a panda, or a teddy, and sometimes a monkey. Today she was singing:

Mary had a little Jesus...

And actually, she's theologically correct. Jesus Christ is the lamb of God.

Dating...

Let's be honest it can BITE. Dating is not easy for a lot of people. It wasn't easy for me cause I brought a lot of relational and sexual baggage from my past. (And thanks to a lot of prayer, hard conversations, and years of counseling I was able to make a commitment and now enjoy a great marriage to my wife). That's why every year (at least once but it usually ends up being more) we have intentional conversations on the topic of dating, love, marriage and sex. It's one of my passions and callings in ministry: to teach and disciple people in healthy relationships and God's design for sex and marriage. If you are a PCC young adult please join us at my home, February 6th at 7:30pm, with special guests Debbie and Wyatt Anderson. A new movie coming out this year depicts just a few of the problems human beings face in the relationship department. Can someone please send the world a memo: THERE IS A BETTER WAY.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Meet one of my new mentors..

I don't know him personally, but Francis Chan is being used by God to speak to me. I'm getting ruined, messed up big time. He speaks God's word and I've been encouraged, convicted, and flat on my face humbled listening to the Spirit work through him.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Feeling the Love and Affirmation

We had a great Winter Retreat with our young adult community this past weekend (video coming soon). I had some good time connecting with people and most importantly with God. One of my prayers was to live and minister out of God's truth. Sometimes my insecurites and people-pleasing tendencies lead me to "feel" unloved when my contributions aren't acknowledged. I think it's a natural human issue but it's a sign of being unhealthy when we depend on the affirmations of others to feel loved or worthy. It's putting our value in what we do or what others think of us instead in how much we are loved by God. I just don't want my ego boosted I want to be solid in my identity as God's son. So I prayed about this and asked God to remind me that I serve him for his glory, not my own, and for his affirmation not the kudos of others (even though it's always great to feel appreciated, I just don't want to be codependant on it or pity myself if it's not there). So I prayed and chose to focus on God and I was doubly blessed. For one, I had some great conversations on the retreat and left feeling genuinely loved and love for others. 2-Sunday night I received a card from Leo and Ruby ( a great mentor couple in our church family) sharing one of my favorite truths on this very subject, and 3-I woke up this morning to my car looking like this. (totally anonymous by the way!)
Humbled, thankful, and feeling loved and affirmed by God and community.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Big Boys Don't Cry???

Warning: Soap Box Alert! Some of you may cringe, especially you parents. I must share- this is something I've always thought about doing, but never had the guts to do what I did yesterday. I offered unsolicited parenting advice. Well, not exactly, but here's the story.

My men's group was hanging out in Chipotle for dinner. We were having one of the deepest talks about some of our darkest hours of manhood. No joke, when we overhead a parenting conversation between a mom and her two year old son. They were leaving the restaurant and the little blond haired boy was upset he didn't have his toy to play with as he put his coat on. We heard her telling her son, "Big boys don't cry," and we all looked at each other realizing that WE DO CRY, sometimes. So boldly, with some humor, we had the following exchange:

Mom: Big boys don't cry. Stop crying. We have to leave.
Me: Ma'am, we can't help but overhear and we just wanna say, big boys DO cry... sometimes.
Mom: Do they cry when their dump trucks are taken away prematurely?
Me: Sometimes they do. This guy (pointing to Rocky in our group) just got a new car and he was crying cause his old car was jacked up. But he's happy now.
Rocky: I had a truck and it was a dump.
Me: Cars do make us cry, sometimes, so do girls, broken hearts, and any other time we're sad. Just want to remind you that it's OK for big boys to cry sometimes.
Mom: Your right. It's just an innocent peer pressure tactic that really seems to work his age.

Obviously I don't want to make this a habit but I really felt compelled. Thankfully the mom was receptive and jokingly accepted our quips. Maybe it'll spare this kid years of therapy and his future wife from complaining her husband is emotionally distant. I know from my own experience that these seemingly "innocent tactics" are dangerous and can have lasting, harmful effects. If I had a dollar for every man I know who has emotional issues, including myself, from some stereotypical, misrepresentation of manhood expressed to them growing up, I'd have a lot of money to give away. Regardless, I know parenting a toddler is hard and I pray grace on this mom and her son and the ability to live (and parent) with God's help and power.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Praise Jar

Happy New Year 2009!

Every New Year's day we read through all the year's blessings kept in a jar. Through out the year we try to write down every good and perfect gift that we are given by God so that we can remember God's goodness and provision, even in the challenging times.

Here are a few that stick out from 2008! We are so thankful. God gives, takes away, and answers prayers!

iPhone gifted by PCC young adults
Isella loves the nursery
2nd Pregnancy!
New place to rent in PCC owned home
Brother Chris is married
Great summer of ministry, Mercy Cafe
Safe and smooth flights from Chicago and Dallas
Great times with family and travel
God spoke to me through poetry
Our Niece was born
Fun weddings officiated
Financial gifts from friends and family (for anniversary and randomly)
Prayerful conversations with strangers (in dental offices, at weddings...)
Great ministry conferences
Seeing people come to know and follow Jesus
AND...
Free Starbucks

Here's to another year where we see God's goodness. This year was filled with challenges, on-going dental pain, step-brother's death, and the learning curve of being parents of a toddler, but we are choosing to trust God and his love for us.