Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jesus in today's pop culture

Rev 1:12-20 in my own words:
I turned face to face with the one speaking to me. I saw seven huge, blazing torches like on “Survivor”. It wasn’t Jeff Probst there, but this amazing God-like gladiator-man. This was no special effects movie creation. He was awe-inspiring. His eyes glowed like shooting stars and his feet were like cannons of fire… more than Iron Man or any super hero. When he spoke his voice was like crashing tsunami waves overpowering my ears. In his hand he showed me what looked like seven Milky Way galaxies right out of "Star Trek". When he spoke it was as if his words were the blades of "X-Men’s" Wolverine. His words demanded attention, cut to the point, and were sharp truths. Looking at him caused me to fall to the ground. He was beautiful and mysterious all at the same time. I had to worship him. His face was brilliant, like “Watchmen’s” Dr. Manhattan, (but not blue or creepy). He put his hand on me and said, “I am more than you could ever imagine, creator of the world and all humanity and I control death and life. These torches represent seven (groups of people) churches who follow me and I want you to bring them a message.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The door night.

I was cleaning up my computer when I found this video clip.


It's from November 16th last year when some really cool things happened in our 5:30pm worship gatherings. Gary spoke on Revelation and used an illustration of 3 doors representing our decisions to belong to the church family, believe in Jesus and follow him, and intentionally bless others. Everyone was invited to "walk through a door." It was very moving. Some people made some decisions to follow Jesus that night. Since we tape each gathering I wanted to post it to remind our community, much like baptisms, of our shared privilege of helping others who profess faith to walk with Jesus and follow through with their decision. All the prayer and movement from that night just touched me. May we continue to be a community where people hear and respond to Jesus, and where each person finds accountability and grace to continue.
Hear the message that God used to inspire the decisions here.
Do you know anyone who needs encouragement or to hear the truth in love? Who are you praying for to come to know God or to come back to Him? Don't forget to share some love and prayer through phone call, text, email, or the best way--face to face contact. Hebrews 3:12-15.

Technical difficulties

I despise some of the (almost pornographic) ads on myspace. (What's with 90% of myspace users named something that sounds like a My Little Pony figure?). That's why I use Facebook, where they make users use their real names and there's way less compromising ads.
But I get overwhelmed with how many ways we can be contacted nowadays. I'm having to defend myself from the guilt that comes when I don't return these requests (or pokes) in a timely matter. The call back list seems to grow daily for me. Sigh...

Facebook messages, TEXTs, IM's, Voice mails on the cell, home, and office phone.
Then there's Email--most of us have not just one, but two, even three. Skype (video chat) and I can't believe I joined TWITTER, but I like the way you can connect it to facebook. So I dug my own hole, but I intend to use these avenues of communication for God with good, guiltless boundaries. I want to connect people and share stories, prayer, and scripture via my updates (I'll spare you *and my time* from taking any quizzes. Sorry to sound snobby, I just don't want to know what type of Bacon, Fungus, or Disney princess I am:). I'll accept anyone who wants to be my virtual friend even the most random people that I wonder why they requested me. Do they really want to keep in touch or just have a large number of virtual friends? I guess I'll never know. (BTW..how much time comparatively do you think we spend on the computer compared to face to face conversations with real humans and even with God praying or reading the Bible? I'm convicted). A friend of mine blogged about why she wouldn't get a facebook and a lot her points called me out.

Here's some questions I have in general about this growing part of American life:
Does all this tech stuff make us more
narcissistic?
FB, Twitter, myspace, and blogs give us us more ways to tell the world about US? I mean does the world really need me to update my status with:

7:48am I woke up. Still tired. Furry Teeth.
8:30-I ate cheerios, two bowls. Honey Nut.
9:30am-Deodorant. Old Spice. Ever Clear. Goes on smooth.
11:57-I'm chewing gum and it's really stale.

You've got to watch this Twitter spoof.

We have more venues to focus on ourselves and this isn't always good. See this article on MSN.
How do we monitor this and protect ourselves from overly indulging in our self?

2-Does all this advancement in technology just give us more distractions from engaging in real life? I think sometimes yes that's why we need good boundaries. I have to deliberately TURN OFF my phone and computer--everything to have some quiet and also to give my family my best attention. I'm ashamed at how much I feel "compelled" to check email in the car or anytime during the day. I'm trying to give myself some hours of use and I'm limiting my Facebook time to prevent an addiction. Shane Hipps thinks all this virtual engagement diminishes community. Watch his video. What do you think?

I want to be aware. Challenged. Connected to God and real community. But don't expect me to bail completely from all this tech stuff. I really do enjoy it and see it's benefits. It's good when used in moderation, for intentional purposes, and for a tool to inform and encourage. Still, I want to be careful for my own heart, and especially for my family as I make a statement with how I spend time time. And like I recently shared, I don't want to be known as a hubby/dad stuck to my cell phone or glued to my computer. Now with that: Turn off the computer and do something. Start a revolution. Play a board game with your spouse. Go outside. Talk to a friend. Hug a tree, just don't plant a virtual one on my facebook, please.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More from our Ugandan Girls

I wanted to share these funny and humbling quotes from when our Ugandan girls stayed with us.
Kids: (seeing queen size bed in our guest room)" Wow. Who sleeps in this room?"
Us: "It's just for us our guests who come to visit."
Kids: "So it's always open, no one stays in here? (Translation: You have an empty bedroom when we're accustomed to a whole family in the size of this room).
Us: (Gulp) Yes, but we also have our --um, two computers in here. It's also an office. (Yikes).
Kids:  This bed is sooo big. It's only for the two of us? There's plenty of room Auntie Wendy, maybe the babies want to sleep with us? Or Uncle Tony, you and Auntie can sleep with us."
(Here they are sleeping vertically across the bed in this pic).
-----
Listening to my daughter's kids music in the car by Vege Tales,  I explained the concept of the singing vegetables. Hours later when we were playing the CD again she said:
Esther: Are these the Vegetarians?
Me: Vege Tales, yes.
Esther: Wow, they sing so good, they sound like humans.
--------
After dying our Easter eggs I tossed the little wire dipper thing in the garbage. Again, Esther, one of the little girls saw me and said:
Esther: Uncle, why are you throwing that away?
Me: Because we are all done with it.
Esther: But Easter comes again next year
Me: That's OK, I can just buy another one. (Typical American consumer response, right?)
Esther: You need to save it. Take it out of the garbage and don't throw it way after I leave, either.
-----
Wow. She put me in my place.  What a simple reminder how easy it is to take for granted our comforts and instant accessibility to whatever we want.  My mentality is so materialistic, where her African perspective, (where they have so little and not storage units full of stuff or the ability to just throw something away and repurchase again in a year), cherishes the little things.

God change my heart.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Children of the World Choir, from Uganda

As a church we invited the this choir from Uganda to join us. It was a great celebration. Our family hosted two of the girls (age 9) in our home for the weekend of Easter. An adventure that exhausted us, but was a great gift.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Invisible Children



This is how I want my kids to know me

There are moments like these, when I'm relaxed, in the Word, and choosing closeness with my kids that I say to myself, this is how I want them to know me. I want love to be the hallmark of my life and my home. (Thanks to Wendy who takes pictures so that they, and I, can remember)!

I also want them to know me as a loving husband to their mom, patient and compassionate when I need to discipline, willing to get on the floor with them, a man of my word, a man of THE word, a man of prayer, and a man of God who acts like Jesus and lives a faithful, passionate life of love for others, one who blesses others, a man who and takes care of the poor and needy, a man who models healthy expression of emotions, a man who is a good steward of God's money, a man who beleives God for his power and ushers in the kingdom....Hmm..no small feat.

This is how I don't want them to know me:
Busy
Glued to the computer
In front of the TV
On my cell phone
Selfish
Stressed
Anxious
Always late to things that are important to them
Overworked
Negative/Harsh/Judgmental toward them and others
Complaining about life's challenges
Materialistic
Angry
Passive
Sarcastic
Fake
Legalistic


With God's love and power--this will be possible.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rewards

I get parenting tips weekly online. This one struck me. I know not everyone who reads my blog is a parent, but what can we learn about this in regards to God? I think it applies. God rewards each of us differently and uniquely, too. I love it!

Should You Give Rewards Equally?
Rewards can be helpful at times to encourage growth in character. If you have a daughter who continually interrupts, you may focus on the character quality of thoughtfulness. You may set up an alternative behavior so that whenever she feels like interrupting, instead of just talking, she puts her hand on your arm as a signal that she wants to talk. You might then put your hand on her hand indicating that you have "heard" her and that you will allow her to speak in just a moment. It's a great technique to teach thoughtfulness. What if the child is still having a hard time not interrupting? You may try a reward to raise the stakes for your daughter and get her over the initial hump to learn a new pattern.

Be sure though as you work with habits of behavior like this you're also talking about the heart. "I appreciate the way you're becoming more thoughtful." Or, "We're doing this to develop some self control in your relationships."

Sometimes parents struggle because when they reward one child, they feel they need to reward all their children. Should you reward one child when you don't reward the other? This thought comes from the belief that fair means equal. Children often point out what they view to be inequity in a situation and call that unfair. But children are all unique. Each child has different strengths and weaknesses, and should be treated uniquely. Parents get into real trouble when they try to treat all their kids equally.

Teach your children that you don't even try to treat them the same. If a brother sees his sister receiving a reward, and he wants one too, then you might say, "Your sister is working on something in her life and the reward is for her progress and effort. If you want to work on a character quality in your life, let me know and I'll think of a reward for you too." Don't be motivated by the "It's not fair" complaint. That's just an indication that children don't understand what fairness really is.

Fairness treats all children according to their needs, which usually isn't equal. Each child needs to feel loved and cared for. Each child needs to work on particular issues. Focus on each of your children as individuals and reward them according to their needs.

This idea was taken from the book, Home Improvement, The Parenting Book You Can Read to Your Kids, by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.
Continue to receive tips yourself, you can sign up at www.biblicalparenting.org.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Poem


I wrote this to celebrate Jesus' resurrection. I tried to put all the script over the video but it wasn't working so here's the words.
EASTER’S IT
I
He is not here
He is alive, the angel said.
She ran and ran to announce the news
But don’t confuse, what happened 2000 years ago
With a story, of faded glory,
But with the miracle of created beings
Simple and broken
Trembling and weeping
Transformed by the power of his story.
Like You.
Like Me.
Changed, forever because
He woke from this death
by the love and power of his Father
Now waiting to wake me, wake you, wake us..
Will you trust?
Abba?
Burst into my heart
And twist into my eyes
Free me from the lies,
That deny who you are
Easter is more than just a nice little day-
To make me sway
All religious and dress up all fancy
Cooking some potatoes and ham while I
Sit in a pew, with maybe a few of the same hands
That would mar
The God who created the mountains and the seas
In order to do what they-what I- please.
Could I be like them? Willing to dispose of the savior blinded by
His weird behavior, killed then and in some way today
By all those choosing to squeeze him
In a tiny theological box, or paper,
That tell us how to live, give,
as if to shine some little light into the cosmos maker,
Center of the universe He is
Eyes of the galaxy,
mysterious creatures
Wrapped around his holiness –singing-shouting-screaming
Sweetly- loudly as whispers so close like breath, like rain
May I not profane-the one, the great, I am-maker because
There’s no truth in the perfection of a happy holidays picture
If it’s just about eggs..
But the perfection of you, God with DNA
With the sounds of a donkey bray,
Heavenly beings warred and went to battle.
Because the hands that shook a rattle
Creator of a thousand hills and all the cattle
Was Ready for nails, whips, and scars.
FATHER FORGIVE THEM,
FORGIVE ME
FOR I KNOW NOT WHAT I DO
He deserves more than just bumper stickers on our cars
Or just Sunday mornings, or one-week trips, or twenty-minute quips,
God..You are here everywhere. Now and forever.
In my mind.
Sharing my pain.
Removing my shame
healing my anger
with your powerful finger…of God
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, in my life
As it is in your heavenly kingdom always..today, now, and forever more
Jesus, gone from the tomb
He can make a barren womb
Full, safe, and the objection of his affection
So will we live life as though doomed
In our money and in our marriage
Waiting for prince charming
or that perfect date
Are we willing to negate
Truth for what we can’t feel?
Just check the disciples, in Matthew 28
As he ascended, some still doubted
But that didn’t seal their fate
They still worshiped,
With lingering hurt
Because they had experienced him,
Eyelashes in the dirt
Face to the ground,
So profound.
Jesus said, "Peace be with you!
As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
The same Spirit that lifted him from the dead.
Is now in me.
In you.
Lifting you Up.
Filling your cup.
Lets praise him
It’s true what he said
And What he did
Will bless you.
If you let IT.
If you let HIM
Oh Happy Day,
That’s what I say
He washed my sins away,
He washed my sins away.
-my prayer. my poem. my desire.
tonyjgapastione

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Crucifixion

Good Friday. A time to reflect. A time to weep and mourn. But not for long.

Watch a video here.

May we all have perspective today of the love of God for the world demonstrated through the life and death of Jesus Christ. If you are near Redwood City join our gathering tonight 8pm in PCC's Worship Center for TENEBRAE.


Easter awaits...when we celebrate the end of all darkness, sin, and death as it's done away with forever because Jesus conquered the grave and the evil one. TO BE CONTINUED.

Are you living a good story?

I've heard Donald Miller talk about this twice, live, both with Lead Now in Dallas, (in which I hope to return this year again in November).

What is a story? with Donald Miller from Brian Mosley on Vimeo.

Imperative concepts!


Why does story matter? with Donald Miller from Brian Mosley on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Kidnapping Tragedy

As a human being, let alone a father, I've been beside myself hearing about this kidnapping case just a few hours from where we live. In reading the article in the above link I found out a pastor and his family are involved in the case. They lived close to Sandra, who was found dead in a suitcase, and has been missing for about a week when she was found Monday. I pray that the church can be a source of comfort and love during this sad time for the family. I am just hoping that there is no link to the church or anyone in the family or friends in this horrible event. I pray with sadness knowing God is our only hope in times like these.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Forgiveness is not human it's Divine

http://www.asweforgivemovie.com/
I'm trying to get a hold of this movie. It sounds awesome. In light of Passion Week, we all need to be reminded to forgive.



Here is a description about the movie:

"Could you forgive a person who murdered your family? This is the question faced by the subjects of As We Forgive, a documentary about Rosaria and Chantal—two Rwandan women coming face-to-face with the men who slaughtered their families during the 1994 genocide. The subjects of As We Forgive speak for a nation still wracked by the grief of a genocide that killed one in eight Rwandans in 1994.



Overwhelmed by an enormous backlog of court cases, the government has returned over 50,000 thousand genocide perpetrators back to the very communities they helped to destroy. Without the hope of full justice, Rwanda has turned to a new solution: Reconciliation. But can it be done? Can survivors truly forgive the killers who destroyed their families? Can the government expect this from its people? And can the church, which failed at moral leadership during the genocide, fit into the process of reconciliation today?"

Friday, April 03, 2009

Wednesday, April 01, 2009