My Beautiful Wife

Yeah, I married up. She's been a means of grace for 7 years and counting.

My kids

The greatest challenge I face is raising these three well. How I love them.

My Passion

This is how I live out my discipleship.

My New Obsession

Getting healthy and making this part of my motivation.

My world

It's real and it's coming. My thinking and hopefully my living is built around the fact that He is alive.

7.26.2008

night strike

what up everyone, just got back from my cousin's soccer game, go bekka, and decided to write about my night last night. we went to this thing called night strike because of a strong recommendation from one of mandy's closest friends, jolleen. night strike is something put on by an organization called bridgetown ministries. everyone who works for them were wearin these shirts that had a person climbing out of a box and they said something like, Get out of the Box. needless to say, they had my attention.

basically, bridgetown ministries goes underneath burnside bridge (where portland's saturday market is) and they set up a city. there's a station with food, a bible table, popcorn table, footwashing table, water station, hair-cut station, sno-cone station, clothes table. and about 300-400 people show up and just hang out together...and over half of those people also happen to be homeless. so we had the joy of spending 3 hours last night with some of the homeless in portland. you want to be humbled...you want a swift kick in the goodies to remind you that there are people who are suffering...go do something like this.

i sat at the Bible Table where i would be giving out Bibles, talking with people, and maybe reading with people. "you'll be amazed how many people will come talk to you and want to ask you questions and read with you" at least that's what the trainer said to me...dude was straight lying...i sat there for like 20 minutes and talked to one person while everyone else wandered around. so i looked at the Gideon who was at our table, grabbed some of the little new testaments and said i'll be back. and in about 2 minutes i met James.

...if you are still reading...this is gonna be a long one, so...yeah, you've been warned...
James looked at me and said, 'hey Jesus loves you'. i said, yeah, he loves you too. i introduced myself and in about thirty seconds any knowledge i had about sports was put to shame. James could not only name football and basketball players from almost every team, he could tell me where they went to college too. and as we bantered back and forth (dude's a Raider fan...he forgave me), we would laugh and project the coming season...and when he laughed...you better provide like a 5-6 ft radius...brother laughed with his whole body, jumpin, clappin and shakin...joy, pure joy.

he mentioned his brother being a 49er fan and i asked him a bit more about his brother, and his whole demeanor changed...one brother in prison, another brother strung out on coke...and this look of desperation and 'what the heck am i supposed to do' came over his face. we talked about that for a second and wanting desperately to talk about something else, he asked me my opinion of T.O....and the laughter resumed, full force with jumping, clapping and red faces...

I met this guy John later, mandy had brought me over to meet his girlfriend whom she had been talking with and after meeting her and chattin for a second, i decided to get some more male bonding. so i said hey again to lance and said, 'hey man, tell me about yourself'...his response, straight-faced and with all seriousness and matter-of-factness...

...i'm homeless and i don't do nothin all day...

...strike one. (insert nervous laughter here)

i tried again, 'aight then, well what brings you joy' (why i asked that question, i'll never know)...he smiled, turned to his girl and said, 'that's her'. (insert the chic flick 'awh' here). but for real, i was touched. these two look out for each other, protect one another, they're family. Lance and i chatted for a bit about his current situation, how he got here, how long he's been here, and how hard things are. he told me stories of police raiding homeless camps in the woods just to make them move...he shared about being woken up by cops with tasers instead of nudges. he shared his frustrations of just wanting something to eat and store-owners putting locks on the dumpster where they threw away the food they don't want or that's a day away from expiring, so now no homeless could go through them. i was wishing desperately i could have handed him some kind of Safeway grocery card so he could go get food anytime he wanted...like you and i can...

and as i left, to go back to my house with a bed, couch, and backyard, both James and John said, 'thanks for talkin man...you comin back?'

i hope so...so many stories from this night, so many things that brought joy to my heart, and anger and pain in the same place...

7.20.2008

from the gut

last night was an odd night for me…mandy is headin out today to join her nnu girls on a 3 day party at the beach (crew, when we doin that again?!). so they all rolled in last night, I did what I like to do when company is there…I bbq’d…broke out the arthur bryant’s sauce and did it up right. we all ate, talked for a while, and then they wanted to see the church building.

now many of you know me, and know I’m all about church without walls…but if there is a building, we can figure out a good way to use it. but our hope is to use it missionally…not for the church’s sake, not to focus inward but to reach outward. so we went over there, and when we entered the sanctuary, I gave the brief history of the building and then began to share the vision mandy, celina and I had been sharing with one another. as I shared, I was overcome by the presence of something supremely powerful, far more than any of us in the room. understand something, I’m the first to say there is no boogie man, i’m very hesitant to give satan too much credit for anything, and I’m very hesitant to say I felt God’s presence…but let me tell you something…God was in that room last night, there’s no doubt about it…kinda freaked me out a bit :) .

As we left the church and drove the girls through New Columbia, the government housing projects by our house that was re-done recently, there were kids out, people on the bball courts, people sittin at the picnic benches in the park and instantly, out of nowhere and for no reason…i was overcome with emotion. Now, I cry, I’m not afraid to say I cry…but I’ve never started crying for no reason. Tears began to drip down my cheeks as I looked around at the people and this neighborhood…and I could feel a real and true passion and love for this community…beyond the heady understanding of this is what I’m supposed to do. This was the real I CARE about these people from some place deep down that we can only go once in a while, and its often a place that shows up when we can’t explain it. We can’t conjure it up on our own power…that type of emotion that type of passion often surprises us…and in those moments…we know it’s real…

…we know He’s real, and we know He is here…Lord I pray to follow your path endlessly and I pray the gut-emotions would be fed by your love, by being rooted and established in your love…

7.17.2008

...what we do...

you know what's funny? The last passage I wrote about ended up being the passage where we got our name for this new collection of disciples (or whatever we are calling ourselves). And I had thought about using something that came out of this passage in Isaiah...Sanctuary 61...not really funny though huh? more like, oh, that's cute...move on?...got it....

Anyway, Isaiah 61.1-2 is the passage Jesus quotes in Luke 4 to say, this is what I am going to be about. I'm going to be about preaching good news to the poor, setting people free from what entangles them, healing brokenness, and proclaiming the year of the Lord's Favor (Jubilee). The passage in Luke 4 lends itself to so many thing, so many thoughts, so much that I could and might write about. But since no one wants to read a blog post made of 2000 words...I won't, you can thank me now.

but one thing Jesus does, i feel is very important...in verses 23-27, Jesus tells of how the prophets of old, twice, went to people who weren't jews. they went to those nasty gentiles. why did he say that, what does that have to do with anything from the Isaiah passage...the Isaiah passage was hope written for the jewish people in exile, why talk about elijah and elisha helping out a woman from sidon or a syrain soldier? what's the point of Jesus bringing that up? what could have made those in the synagogue so angry they tried to chuck Jesus off a cliff...

maybe...maybe it was because Jesus was saying, the fulfillment of this passage of hope you all know sooo well from isaiah...it includes everyone...even those people you despise, even those outside the 'chosen tribe of israel'. let that sink in...even from the beginning the mission of God, the missio dei, included everyone...

we value this passage, because we believe we have been called to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the addicted and imprisoned, to bring healing for the broken, and proclaim liberation for the oppressed and the year of Jubilee to anyone and everyone we meet. no matter who they are, what they've been through, what they've done, or how people would view them...we believe God has called us to be radical witnesses to the reality of the kingdom of God...

so what's that look like...i can't wait to find out...

7.15.2008

Sho Baraka

Aight, so i know i said i'd post at some point about some of my favorite Christian Hip Hop artists, but I couldn't wait, sorry. so below you've got Sho Baraka's Higher Love:



I love this dude...his stuff is deeper than some of the others and he is quite the wordsmith...check out his MySpace for more songs and more about Sho, the 116Clique, and Reach Records...be sure to check out Lecrae, Trip Lee and Tedashi...

7.14.2008

who i hope to be...

i remember back when i was in middle school, i was getting into rap music. i think this mortified my parents, so my mom went and purchased me two Christian rap tapes...yes, tapes...the groups name was the Rap'sures. yeah, that's right, the Rap'sures...a group of 8-9 white kids rapping about living for Jesus. in the pantheon of great rap...this crew...well...let's just say, one of the tapes never got played...

...Christian rap has come a long way, a looooong way, and while i might post about some of my favorites at some point, i want to reference Flame's song Like Christ...Flame took the old 'i wanna be like mike' commercials from the 80s and turned it into 'i wanna be like Christ'...really it was quite clever and done over a good beat...plus, Flame can flow. the reason I reference this song, is because I can't help but think about this song when I read:

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus..." (Phil 2.5)

...and so begins one of the two passages i mentioned last week. this passage has been so important to me because i believe this section in Philippians has the basics for who we are to be as disciples of Jesus...we are to be like him. Like him in how we see ourselves, relate to others, and relate to God...this was the basic 3 point outline for the first sermon i ever preached (filled with about a dozen football references, since that was my repertoire at the time)...but i want to focus on one word used in verse 7.

In verse 7 a form of the Greek word kenosis is used. in this verse it is used to describe Christ emptying himself of all personal desires, personal rights, to obey the Father and save us. When i think about who Jesus has called me to be, and who we believe we are called to be, it's people who empty themselves of all but love. i seek to empty myself in complete obedience to God...and that isn't an easy thing...i truly wish i did a better job. But imagine, imagine if all of Jesus' disciples sought to have his attitude...an attitude of complete obedience, an attitude that said my concern is for the others around me...imagine if Christians emptied themselves in love of God and service for others...who I hope to be is one who fulfills the charge Paul gave to the Philippians as he quotes what was probably a hymn sung by the communities of faith in the first century...

...so each day, i pray, i hope, i sing along with Flame and the kids "I wanna be like Christ"

7.13.2008

it's true...Portland is weird

so Portland has this thing about being weird. They have bumper stickers and a web-site begging all who read them, Keep Portland Weird. My father-in-law gave me a news article about this phenomenon complete with a man who was going around the city with 15 ft acupuncture needles that he was sticking in the ground because the city's chi was off...

...and last night, the city wanted to confirm its identity to me. First, as we hung out downtown with some new friends, there was a man who sped past us on a bike. Now, i know the typical bike riding gear includes tight spandex shorts...but, seems this man was in the mood to wear tight red tighty-whitey underwear. We paused looked at each other, laughed, looked ahead to see that he had stopped and was dismounting his bike. I pray to God that image would be burned from memory.

...then as we got back to their apartment in the city there was a lady across the street twirling these light up baton thingys. We smiled, stood and chatted for a while and 20 minutes later, she was still doing it. so Celina, Mandy, and our friend Kendra walked across the street to meet her and hear what she was about. They were told about her hopes to be twirling fire soon, because the rush of the flames whizzing by your head...huh, yeah, not what i thought about flames going by my head, but sure...and then they were invited to a pole party in a few weeks. What's a pole party you ask? Well, this woman had a strip pole installed in her apartment where she practices...for the fun of it...

i love this city

7.10.2008

who we are and what we do

Whenever you begin something new...you gotta take a second, sit back, and think about...ok, why am i in this position right now? How did i get here? Why am I here? And what am i hoping for? Last week, Mandy, Celina and I talked about this and decided to read two passages over the next week, and just reflect on them, what they mean for us, how we should move forward and such...

i have to confess that these two passages also happen to mean a ton to me personally. One of them is a passage that i got hooked on back in college, which has led to me trying to live my life by this passage, as well as leading to the name of this community. The other became very important to me in seminary...and it has fed into mine and Mandy's marriage, becoming what we believe God has called us to do and be in life. So, when i look at these passages...for me, one is who i am to be...and the other is what i am to be about...make sense?

Alright, so by now you are probably itching to know what these two passages are...Isaiah 61.1-3(Luke 4.18-19) and Philippians 2.5-11. Jesus quotes the Isaiah passage in Luke 4 and declares this to be his mission...Phil 2 is a beautiful, what was probably a hymn at the time, description of who Jesus was. Over the next week, i'll take time to write about these two things...but I wanted to point out something that i saw connected in the 2 passages. In each of these passages, right at the end of them...it points to the end result being God would be glorified. In the Isaiah passage, the broken, busted up, and forgotten become 'oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.' And in Philippians the end result of being obedient to God, even to the point of death, the end result of emptying himself is that Jesus is the name that all will bow to and worship, 'to the glory of God the Father.' So who I am, and what I do, are to be for the glory of God...not for me to feel better about myself, or because i want to do something nice, but because in the end God will be glorified because of it...

7.08.2008

...like a good neighbor...

you know, its always a good thing to have good neighbors...i had this neighbor who would constantly ask me, "Hey, you gonna mow the lawn soon?" one time he even asked me...WHILE i was mowing the backyard..."hey, you plannin on mowin the front lawn?" WHAT?! SERIOUSLY?! YOU'RE ASKING ME...WHILE I AM CURRENTLY MOWING?! you know what I said, "Nope...not today" and i waited 3 days until i mowed the front...just to be a punk. i can see my mother nodding in understanding after those many times she's try to get me to clean my room as a kid...still a punk she's thinkin :)

i say all that to say this, I love my neighbor. we've lived here about 3 weeks, I've had dinner with this dude, gone on a walk with him, been to look at an old table to see if we can fix it. Craig is the man...plus, if you want to know how to get anywhere for any reason...Craig can tell ya how to get there by bus, as well as tell you what is happenin all over Portland on any given night. dude's got some serious knowledge.

anyway, last night Craig came by...i hadn't seen him all weekend and chalked it up to our being out a lot. Craig told me about this family he's close to and how he ended up spending the weekend there to help calm one of the family members down from a probably meth-induced rage. he stayed, played with the kids...let them know they were going to be protected...talked to his friend and tried to encourage her in the midst of the drama...all while being the calming influence for his friend in the rage. Craig walked up to this dude, he was madder than all get out, nose to nose with a family member, about 2.5 times Craig's size...and Craig just gave the dude a hug...and things began to calm...he totally disarmed this man with a hug

...so do me a favor...in honor of Craig...give someone a hug :)

alright, alright, sappy at the end, i know. but hey, i couldn't be happier about my neighbor...at the end of our chat, Mandy and Celina had come outside so we all just kinda madea quick circle and began to pray for this family and for Craig...and Craig prayed the most honest prayer asking the God would be there and help him and this family.


i like this neighbor...

7.03.2008

Luv is a verb

DCTalk baby...Free At Last Album, second track, Luv is a Verb...

you know, i've spent the last week or so praying for more love in my life. I want to be able to love better, love my wife better, love God better, love my neighbors better...i think i fall way short in the type of love i should have...

...but as i was walking home from lunch today, it hit me that i had been praying to have love, to possess it, to be able to 'call upon the love i have' whenever i need it. i had been treating love as a noun. the only time I can recall love being treated as a noun is in 1 John when he writes that God is love. all other times love is referred to in the scriptures, it is in verb format...we are called to love God and love neighbor...and that something that is an action, something that happens, love is something we do...

...and maybe, just maybe, the more we begin to show love, the more love becomes a part of who we are...

...show me how to love...

7.02.2008

waiting

patience...we all know that virtue oh so well...maybe because so many of us lack it. For me...it's an ebbs and flows type of thing, and really it depends on the thing for which i am waiting. I can handle waiting for my food at a restaurant...after working in the service industry, you learn stuff happens unexpectedly in a kitchen that people can do nothing about...so I don't get too upset. I can wait for my coffee, i'm watching the baristas make 6 half-calf skim no foam double shot 1 splenda hazelnut vanilla mochas with whip...i can wait.

Why then, does it become difficult to wait on God...I mean, as the creator of the world...it is obvious, God knows what God is doing...so why am I in such a rush to get stuff done...

It's not that I'm waiting on God...I don't think I am ever TRULY waiting for God to do something...I believe that God is waiting for me to rest in Christ. To TRULY rest in Christ, rest in Jesus' sacrifice, to rest in being called son, to rest and realize that the Spirit is with me and all I need to 'do' is seek Jesus with all that I have and then, and only then will 'things happen'.

When I seek Jesus, things have a funny way of unfolding before my very eyes...the Holy Spirit does what it does and I'm left to sit back and marvel and the genius of it all...and my lack of genius in the first place.

So, here we are, seeking Jesus and praying to see where the Holy Spirit is already present in our lives.