Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Meeting of Ends

Originally posted December 23, 2008

Chapter 1- Forever More
I'm yearning and learning 
I'm wound so tightly I feel like i could spin forever 
and I don't eve know what "Forever" means!
I'm growing and flowing and what drives me is THRILL
I should probably care more about tomorrow but for now, I have now... Today... right Now
I could go here or there or wherever and hangout with friends
I don't much care about the meeting of ends.

Chapter 2 - Forever Comes
My hands are calloused and dry
and my belly is evidence of too many a pie
when I get up in the morning my bones creek
and I could hardly see past the end of my nose
The once lonely yawns are accompanied by groans and moans
Yesterday I thought about tomorrow ... what happens next, where will I go
Who will she be? What will we do?

Today, it seems Tomorrow (if I could get there without being there), is about Yesterday
You see somehow doing, planning, going
becomes Lamenting
and Rejoicing... 
which are the SAME thing.
Remembering... Oh the good old days... 
The Good Times and the Bad... were All Good

Come With Me to Africa

Originally posted June 6, 2008
Why is it that when we think of missionaries we think of "older" people that are "really nice" and "are doing neat things for God." (yay God!) We might imagine them as having couple of very quiet, obedient, and smart children (at least when they are young).  These same children will most assuredly be the wildest teenagers of the youth group that will eventually leave the Church and live their lives in a non traditional yet politically correct manner. Of course we won't talk much about their kids... except with my close close friends that can be discreet.  In a moment of honesty we would have to admit that if that same missionary couple lived in our city we wouldn't necessarily run in the same social circles.  What I mean is I wouldn't invite "Missionary Mike" to my house on Friday night for pizza, beer, and poker.  I would, however, happily bring him and his family the box of "hand me downs" that we couldn't sell at the garage sale because they might be home on furlough (from the deepest regions of Africa) and don't have a lot of money for the luxuries of life like clothes or furniture. It's cool though because they are used to living in houses with dirt floors so anything they get to use here will certainly be considered an "upgrade." When Missionary Mike and his wife Theresa (mother to the children) speak at the annual missions conference at church... well, let's face it, they are probably gonna be boring as anything!  I'll probably find any excuse I can to go to Carl's Jr. during second service so I don't have to sit through the entire presentation on how by the year 2020 there will be more Christians in Africa then there will be people.  I mean it in the nicest possible way but... THANK GOD I'm not called to be a missionary!

errr wait...         

Well here I am 40 years old and I suppose it might be fair to describe what I've been going through lately as a "mid life crisis."  A mid-life crisis is stereo typically going out and getting a sports car or a girlfriend.  (I haven't done either one by the way)  Really what happens is a man realizes intimately that he is not going to live forever and asks the question "Why am I not doing the things that I WANT to do"  For me it was the realization that I don't want to go through the rest of my life building, fixing, looking for, or selling widgets. 

I've been wrestling with the question "What REALLY matters?"  The answer is somewhat of a moving target.  I know this... Becky and I LOVE people and between us have many spiritual gifts that, frankly, we aren't using.  Well it's time. 

My wife Becky and I have decided to become missionaries.  No we aren't going to go to Africa, in fact, we are not even going to be leaving Roseville, the city we live in.  We are going on staff with Young Life in the South Placer County Area.

  Young Life brings the good news of Jesus Christ into the lives of adolescents with an approach that is respectful of who kids are and hopeful about who they can be.

Specifically, we are going to be working with the high schools in the Roseville Joint Union School District. Becky and I are right now helping to start an all city Young Life Club that would include students from serveral of the high schools in the area.  Last year I started my coaching career as a volunteer on the freshman football squad at Woodcreek High School and hopefully coaching will serve as a springboard for the "Contact Work" that is such a huge part of the Young Life Model.  Becky and I want to model Christ incarnationally to these kids that we believe deserve hearing about Him. 

Funeral Sermon for My Kuya

Originally posted May 11, 2008

This is the message I gave at my brother Josias Jose (December 1952- May 2008)

 On behalf of the family I would like to thank you for coming to help celebrate Josias' life.  

Matthew 10:29-31 where Jesus said:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Interestingly, Josias is the name sake of one of the good kings of Israel Josiah.  Josiah the son of Amon became king at the young age of 8.   Now Kuya wasn't king of a nation but we siblings looked up to him with a similar respect. Kuya (my kuya) was 15 years my senior and he wasn't around a lot when i was growing up I was probably 3 or 4 when he moved out of the house.  So when I did get to see him it was always special.  He often gave me gifts or treats and out of the five of my brothers, he was definitely my favorite brother.  He is in some of my earliest memories as a kid.  I can remember when My mom was pregnant with JT our youngest brother (I had to be 4) and Kuya asking me if I wanted the baby in moms stomach to be a boy or a girl... I said "boy"... I was right!  I remember one time talking with him in the kitchen as he was cooking crab.  He gave me a piece and told me I could eat the meat inside the shell.  I asked him where the meat came from... do the crabs eat meat?  He said in a familiar yet profound manner "just eat it"

When I was a boy, I loved going to LA to visit him cuz he always was first to have the coolest things...

The coolest audio gear

the latest Photograpy equipment 

He had Intellivision when most people had an atari.

He had a Karaoke machine before karaoke anyone knew what karaoke was.

Recently JT was regaling me of a meal that Kuya prepared not too long ago.  He made a salmon skin salad and a sumptuous prime rib that was mouthwatering and delicious. When it came to food you see he was a man of passion.  If you've ever had the good fortune of sitting down to a meal he had prepared you knew that for sure.  We often talked about the various foods I might enjoy like Korean BBQ or the different types of tacos I should try if at an "Authentic" mexican taco stand.  If there is a lesson we might learn from Kuya's life, it is ENJOY LIFE NOW!  Of course this lesson I learned from his love of food is the same lesson that could be applied to all of life, If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well!  He could do anything he put his mind to from building kitchen cabinets to fashioning brackets on his motorcycle.  He was one the smartest guys you might ever meet.  He always seemed to have answers to lifes questions.  As you've already heard from my brothers and sisters, he was wise beyond his years and a father figure to all of us siblings.  He was passionate man and also a compassionate man.

I remember 6 years ago shortly after his last heart attack, we were in the hospital he was sitting up in his bed.  He tearfully said to me that I need to take care of myself so that I wouldn't have go through what he did.  He was always looking out for me, for us.  He was a compassionate man.  You see, physically, he had a weak heart and ultimately his weak heart was the end of him. Today I'm thankful that Kuya is in a better place with Mom and Tay in heaven. 

Today is a day to remember Josias and the awesome man that he was and our purpose for being here today is to honor him.  I believe the best way to honor him would be us to reflect on our own lives and the significance we each personally strive for.  In honor of him I would like for all of us for the next few moments to reflect on our own lives and on our own hearts.

Some observations about the Human Heart -

We describe a person without compassion as "heartless" and we urge him to "have a heart"  

our deepest hurts we call "heartaches"  

Jilted lovers are "brokenhearted"  

Courageous soldiers are "bravehearted"  

The truly evil are "black-hearted" 

and saints have "hearts of gold"  

If we need to speak at the most intimate level, we ask for a "heart to heart" talk.  

"lighthearted" is how we feel on vacation .  

And when we love someone as truly as we may, we love "with all our heart"   

But when we lose our passion for life, when a deadness sets in which we cannot seem to shake, we confess, "my heart's just not in it"

It has been said that there are 2 things that can pierce the human heart.  The first is BEAUTY.   When we are young, we believe that everything is beautiful.  Life is great and God is good.  Recently my daughter Annie wanted to learn to ride a bicycle.  I took the training wheels off of her bike because I agreed she was ready and off we went.  I ran beside her holding her up and before we knew it, she was riding by herself.  As she realized that she was doing it all by herself, she let out the most gleeful giggle.  It was the MOST concentrated pure unadulterated joy ever expressed.  I swear if you could just bottle the joy that she and I were both feeling, you could solve all of the worlds problems with getting along with eachother.

Sigh, I wish that the world only had beauty to offer but alas it doesn't.

The second thing that could pierce the human heart is AFFLICTION.  This is a certainty that we all know.  The arrows of Affliction come in all sorts of forms.  Sometimes they are little insults when we are children like "your ears are too big"  or "You are STUPID".   Some arrows are bigger like "losing a job" or "a failed business venture" or maybe a broken relationship.  Sometimes these arrows come fast and often and in order to provide ourselves respit we go search for significance bars and bottles. Maybe the biggest and worst arrow is the arrow we shoot into our own hearts and that is the disbelief in God.  We find ourselves shooting this arrow so as to kill the heart so that we don't have to feel anymore pain from all the previous afflictions.  The problem is that the arrows of affliction accumulate over time and when there is so much affliction without any healing, you lose heart and frankly life isn't worth living.

My question for you today is "what is the state of your heart"?   Here's the deal, I'm not even going to set up the joke, I'm just gonna give you the punch line.  The true source of Beauty in this life is Jesus.  Jesus can heal the afflictions you've experienced, he can remove the arrows that have pierced your heart and he could give you the significance your heart truly desires.  I'm suggesting that the compassion that Kuya displayed to me years ago is from the wellspring of compassion that only Jesus can bring.  Jesus wants for us to care for each other and for ourselves.

Each of us has a circle of influence.  There are a handful of people that are around us that we care for deeply.  Our spouses, brothers and sisters, friends.  I'm suggesting that you would honor the memory of my brother and honor Jesus by loving those that are close to you.  You can do this by performing spiritual open heart surgery.  Become an invasive instrument, get inside the chest of the person or people that you love... and help discover those long forgotten arrows of affliction and invite Jesus to heal them and restore you to a life of passion and compassion.

God Breaks Hearts

Originally posted November 1, 2007

The question begins... (and ends) Am I committed to God such that I don't care what happens to me as long as God fulfills His purpose of Redemption of the world?

Oswald Chambers put it best in Today's reading

The first thing God does with us is to get us based on rugged Reality until we do not care what becomes of us individually as long as He gets His way for the purpose of His Redemption. Why shouldn't we go through heartbreaks? Through those doorways God is opening up ways of fellowship with His Son. Most of us fall and collapse at the first grip of pain; we sit down on the threshold of God's purpose and die away of self-pity, and all so called Christian sympathy will aid us to our death bed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, and says - "Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine." If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.

Catch 22

Originally posted October 19, 2006

I dreamed a dream the same did she We started on a walk

One goal I had the same did she All obvious by our talk

She's the one for me thought I For on my face a smile she laid

I'm the one for her thought she For God's decrees had we obeyed

We spread our story all around To all who had an ear

Something happened what was wrong?  It was the second year

Those who knew us knew us well Or at least that's how it seemed

They didn't see us when we fell The perferct couple were we deemed

If I'd only been a gentleman she would've been a lady

I would've been a gentleman if she had only let me

When times grew tough my shoulder did I offer for her to lay her head

When tears came she turned down my offer she wanted my shoulder instead

Confused was I what was her plea?

Confused was she Why can't he see?

One dream I thoght did we both share There was to be nothing we couldn't do

So much sorrow is for both to bear Because our dream was not ONE but TWO

Questions of Life

Originally posted January 13, 2006

• Oswald Chambers May 28 “Until the resurrection life of Jesus is fully exhibited in you, you have questions about many things. Then after a while you find that all your questions are gone -- you don't seem to have any left to ask. You have come to the point of total reliance on the resurrection life of Jesus, which brings you into complete oneness with the purpose of God.”
• If anything is a mystery to you and is coming between you and God, never look for the explanation in your mind, but look for it in your spirit, your true inner nature -- that is where the problem is. 
• Once your inner spiritual nature is willing to submit to the life of Jesus, your understanding will be perfectly clear, and you will come to the place where there is no distance between the Father and you, His child, because the Lord has made you one. 
• "In that day you will ask Me nothing."
• If you still have lots of questions, then you aren’t there yet!


Originally published Jan 2, 2006

Difficult is a profound theme for the last while. 

My solace is that truly we as a community care about one another and are pulling for each other. 

My encouragement comes from Paul's prayer for us the saints:

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

My temptation is to believe that it is combination of my experience, effort, talent, and timing that is going to result in productivity both for the kingdom in the big picture but as well as prosperity in the here and now.

I'm reminded that we are simply the objects of grace and mercy "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Does this mean I should not use my experience, effort, or talents?  By no means!  But all the more should we work hard to accomplish that which is before us.  The difference is the comfort we can take in who gets the glory.