Monday, April 30, 2007


i love the sound of my daughter’s laughter.
absolutely love it-
its like- better than any music i’ve ever heard.
i love it so much, that i do just about anything to hear it.
i’ll completely humiliate myself
or drop all sorts of cash on a random toy
if it will let me hear the sounds of her laughing.
i’ll totally wear myself out swinging her or tossing her
just to hear her laughing,
i have it recorded on my voicemail
and i listen to it from time to time.

and she loves to laugh.
she doesn’t just laugh, she squeals.
she shrieks with joy- she laughs until she’s out of breath.
its hilarious and wonderful.

tonight i was lying on the floor
and she was sitting on my stomach
and i was lifting her up over my head
so that she was upside down.
i’d let her head tap the floor and then i’d bring her back to my stomach.
she thought that was a crack up.

then she was laying on the floor and i was standing over her
dropping a stuffed animal onto her stomach and face.
it was bath-time, but she kept saying
“mmmm-oh da-da!” (more daddy!)
i couldn’t say no to a request like that!

i was thinking later-
when did i stop laughing like that?
when did things stop being hilarious?
when did i learn that laughing uncontrollably wasn’t cool?
i wish i could unlearn that!
i want to laugh like that again! it sounds like fun!
is there a connection between age and joy?
innocence and laughter?
peer-pressure and freedom?

if i, as jane’s father love to hear her laugh-
does my heavenly father love to hear me laugh?
does he delight on my joy?
i like this one:

psalm 30:11
“you turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.”

clothed with joy… that’s a cool picture-

and this one from jesus himself- laughter is a promise:

luke 6:21:
“blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

isaiah foretells that heaven will be a place of laughter:

isaiah 35:10:
“they will enter zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

that’s a cool picture too-
of everlasting joy as a crown-
and being taken away with joy and gladness-
like a 2-year old.

well- if i’m going to spend eternity clothed with joy
and overtaken with gladness,
i better start practicing now!
i better start laughing along with my heavenly father-
and make that promise made by the psalmist:

psalm 31:6
“i will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.”

so if you see me being happy or silly or laughing out loud-
i haven’t gone crazy or started on drugs-
i’m just practicing for what’s next.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

That Guy

ever since i started working in ministry full time,
i’ve always wanted to be That Guy.
That Guy who you could give something to
and know that they would give it their best.

i was reading in genesis this morning
and i found the perfect example of That Guy-
and i learned a lot more about what it means to be That Guy.
in genesis 24 That Guy is abraham’s servant.
he is nameless- i think that’s part of being That Guy-
its filling your role without making a name for yourself.

in genesis 24 abraham is dying and
wants his son isaac to have a wife from his native people.

so abraham called on his servant
to travel to his native land to find one for him.
its here where That Guy goes into action.

so what does it take to be That Guy?

first it takes a sense of purpose- a single-mindedness.
and abraham’s servant had it.
abraham asked him to find the girl-

and he didn’t rest until the job was done.
even after he found her,

her family wanted her to stay around for a few more weeks,
but he wasn’t interested in that-
he wanted to finish his job.
he went for it-

no questions asked, no complaining.

being That Guy means being totally surrendered to God

and tuned in to His voice.
abraham’s servant stepped into mesopotamia with his eyes open

and his mind ready to hear the slightest whisper from God.
and when he saw her he knew it.

being That Guy means not just listening,

but in constant communication with God as well.
this servant asked God for success in finding isaac’s wife.
he told her family:

“when i came to the spring today, i said,
'o LORD, God of my master abraham,
if you will, please grant success to the journey on which i have come.
see, i am standing beside this spring;
if a maiden comes out to draw water and i say to her,
"please let me drink a little water from your jar,"
and if she says to me,
"drink, and i'll draw water for your camels too,"
let her be the one the LORD has chosen for my master's son.'
"before i finished praying in my heart,
rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder.”

that’s a man of prayer-

but that’s also a man who is listening for God and trusting Him to act.

when he prayed, he didn’t just ask for things-
at least twice in this chapter, he took time to thank God-

and thank Him immediately.
again, being That Guy is not about collecting kudos-

its about getting the job done and serving someone else.

last, being That Guy is about representing your Master well.

when he met rebecca, he had jewelry to present her.
he had expensive gifts for her mother.
he was polite to her and to her family.
only the best for his master.
it was never about him and his fame.

this Guy- was nameless, obscure, with a supporting role-
but he fulfilled his oath to abraham-

and delivered to isaac the mother of israel.

its not bad being That Guy.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


(btw- this is all in sarcasm- i'm not on drugs- i'm just poking fun at myspace junkies)

a myspace page
is the drug of this age-
and it makes you feel euphoric
when a friend comments your pic.

i’m addicted to comments!
i need some more comments!
seeing them makes my heart rush!
i’ll take them! any way i can get them-
with posts that would make my mom blush

i guess i’m a junkie-
on my back, there’s a monkey
and my dealer goes by the name Tom
myspace is myPlace
to show my true face
to everyone except for my mom

i’ll share everything!
i’ll spill out my guts!
i just need some compliments-
without them i’ll go nuts!

i’ll take pics in the mirror-
i’ll take pics with my phone-
i’ll shoot pics with my digi-cam-
but don’t leave me alone!

i need a fix!
i’ll comment your pics!
if you promise you’ll comment mine
i’ll take a survey! i’ll take a quiz!
i’ll tell you my age!
i’ll tell you my sign.

if you leave me comments
i’ll reply using code!
i’ll say things like:
“btw”, “lol” and “repost in 30 seconds
or your mom will explode!”

i’ll tell of my first kiss and my most recent one
all by using one word-
i’ll tell you the books that i’m reading
and the shows that i watch-
just make my soul feel reassured

i need new messages! and new comments too!
i need pages and pages of friends
i got a new default image-
have you seen it? have you seen it?
come on now- I leave comments for you!

i’m so hopeful each time i log in
to find something new-
a comment- and message-
a kudos or two-
but those times where there’s none
and my life is no fun
and sadness takes over my mood.

do they make rehab for myspace?
because i think that i need it
and lots of others do too-
does that mean i need to quit it?
well then you can forget it!
now- how ‘bout a kudos or two?


a frantic phone call came to a handsome youth pastor
it seemed that one of his students was having a disaster
the call came from a student that everyone seemed to know
a student that everyone referred to as ‘arrogant joe.’
the youth pastor said “what’s wrong joe? are you ok?”
joe answered “pastor, I think that I’m falling away!”
the pastor said “to be honest, I kind of had a hunch-
“would you like to talk about this over some lunch?”

at noon, joe and the pastor began eating and chewing
the pastor asked joe “so- how are you doing?”
joe answered “i’ve decided that being good isn’t important to me anymore-
“and so there are lots of new things that I’ve begun to explore-
“for example, I’ve experimented with smoking and drinking-
“and cussing is fun! now I talk without thinking.
“and I’ve met lots of girls and have done lots of kissing-
“let me tell you pastor- you don’t know what you’re missing!”

the pastor said “joe- all of this seems kind of odd-
“just recently we had a long talk about God.”
joe said “pastor- its not that easy to explain-
“no one understands how my heart has felt pain-
“my friends are all worried how this sheep has gone astray-
“but doing these things helps my pain go away.
“and don’t you think I look cooler? rebellious and mean?
“when I smoke I look tough- I look just like james dean!”

“joe” said the pastor in kind and gentle voice-
“you know I love you, but this is a bad choice…”
“pastor- I’ve heard it from all of my friends
“I know this lecture and I know how it ends-
“everyone is judging, while saying they love me-
“why can’t they just accept me, and not try to shove me?”

“well joe, it sounds like you’re doing what you want to do-
“I want to remind you that I love you and God loves you too-
“and God wants to heal that broken part of your heart
“and God wants to be close to you- like you were at the start
“and though you’ve walked away, you can always come back-
“God wants to make white, out of what you have made black.”

“pastor, I’ll come back- I’m just not sure when-
“I’ll get this all out of me and then I’ll be holy again-
“all of these decisions will give me a more dramatic story-
“I will use all of my mistakes in speeches! and give God all the glory.
“its just like your sermon- you know- the prodigal son?
“I’ll come back to God when I’m done having fun.”

the pastor said “joe- be careful, be wise and be smart
“choices like this can leave scars on your heart.
“give me a call if you need to talk or just need a ride.”
then he got into his car and then looked down and sighed.
“God I don’t know if You used me in there-
“just remind joe of your grace and remind him that You care.”
then God whispered a message that couldn’t have been clearer-
“joe thinks I’m far from him, but I’ve never been nearer.”

you may be thinking “arrogant joe- what a FOO!”
but don’t get too prideful- it could happen to you.


on a cool sunday morning, arrogant joe sat in a pew
and in-between yawns, he noticed something new-
“here at the church there’s lots of ways to show off-
people here look up to their sunday school profs.
they look up to people who know lots of verses
and carry big bibles- big as big purses-
i’ve got a plan! i’ll be a smart church-dude-
i’ll be a theologian and quote beatitudes-
i can be a greeter! right next to the stairs!
i can be a leader! and pray lots of prayers!
people will be interested in what i have to say-
everyone will be amazed at the long prayers that i pray.
i’ll come to church each sunday and it will be all about me!
everyone will say “there he is! our spiritual-celebrity.”

the next week joe got to work on his spiritual-show
he got to church was early- his face was aglow-
he paid careful attention to how he was dressed-
he greeted people saying “mayest thou’s day be blessed.”
when it was time for small groups, joe shared for an hour
joe loved the attention, the respect and the power
he made people think he was some sort of theological master-
he made critical comments about the church and the pastor
joe hid all of his faults with his sunday morning smile-
and joe’s friends didn’t want to be around him after awhile.
“‘joe stop being a hypocrite and start being real!
we’re tired of your acting and your theological-shpiel.”

one brave friend said “joe there is something that i’ve wanted to say-
God cares more about your heart than your holy-display-
you can be honest- He knows your heart is cracked-
He loves you for you- you don’t need to put on an act.”
joe thought long and hard and then he just smiled-
he said “mayest my God bless you, my unspiritual child.”
God loved arrogant joe with a love that was true-
but even though joe was in church- God couldn’t get through.


arrogant joe from 95120, didn’t want to go to camp,
but his mom made him go.
“mom I just want to rest before I join the football squad…”
“joe- I’m paying good money, now go get some God!”
so off joe went to pack up his gear
he brought enough axe to last him a year.
he six brought pairs of jeans from abercrombie and fitch
in case you didn’t know, joe’s family was rich

when joe got to the church, all the students were there
joe got there late- he took extra time on his hair.
the youth pastor called out- “I don’t want to hear about kisses or cusses-
be on your best behavior and now go load the busses!”

the bus ride was long and the busses were stuffy
all that hot air made joe’s hair get all fluffy
arrogant joe’s stomach felt quesey and chunks almost flew
he yelled out “when my dad hears about this, he’s going to sue!”

when the crew stopped for lunch, joe got in an even worse mood-
the only options were mcdonald’s, in-n-out and other fast food-
joe started to complain and let out a yell-
“there aren’t any low-carb options at wendy’s or taco bell!”
“it’s gonna be a long week” said a volunteer, rolling his eyes-
he’s in your cabin!” said the youth pastor; chomping on fries.

the crew finally arrived, after many long hours
the boys checked out their cabin- joe checked out the showers-
“I can’t believe my parents sent me to this place-
the showers are tiny and there’s no counter-space!”
joe’s counselor said “its time to go to chapel and learn about God-“
joe said “get me the MP3- I’ll listen on my pod”
the counselor said “sorry we all have to go!”
“this better be good” thought arrogant joe.

when joe got to chapel, he found a big crowd
the skits were funny and music was loud
the speaker told the students “put God first tonight!”
but joe wasn’t listening, he looked at the girl on his right.
everyone at her church called her “stuck up sallie”
and she was prettier than any girl back in almaden valley.

for most of the week joe and sallie were exclusive-
their friends reached out to them but they were pretty elusive
when it came time for rec, sallie said “this is so lame”
joe’s counselor asked “joe- why aren’t you playing the game?”
“to be honest” he said “I think its kind of nerdy-
and these shoes were expensive- I don’t want them dirty.”
“joe you’re the best athlete in silicon valley-
but every time I look for you- you’re off hiding with sallie!”
joe’s counselor got frustrated and started to yell-
joe wasn’t that into sallie, but it was fun to rebel

unfortunately things didn’t last for this self-centered pair
but worse, they were distracted from worship and prayer
at the end of the week stuck-up-sallie’s proud heart went home broken
and sadly, neither of them heard the words that were spoken.
joe came home on saturday, with all of his gear-
God was trying to speak to him, but joe didn’t hear.


this is a series of poem that i wrote for a group of messages titled: not-it
and yes- they're all sort of depressing.

deep in the heart of california’s south bay
is a beautiful city named san jose
and in san jose’s neighborhood, number 95120
lived a talented boy named arrogant joe

this wasn’t his real name, but the title stuck like a glove,
because arrogant joe was his own true love.
you see arrogant joe was conceited and proud
and when his talked with his friends, he always talked loud.
and when he spoke with his friends, they could never get a word in
and when they did get to talk he would always butt in.
arrogant joe could not share the glory-
so he would interrupt whenever his friends had a story.

when it came to sports arrogant joe was almaden’s pride
joe was the mvp at every sport he tried
whether it was soccer or baseball or football or hoops,
joe’s teams always took the win over the other town’s groups.
joe wasn’t a sore-loser because he just never lost-
but he was a sore winner, bragging in his shirts from lacoste.
his favorite topic was the review his big plays
that was arrogant joe with his arrogant ways
arrogant joe was smart and got grades in school,
but he bragged about that too, he thought he was so cool

arrogant joe was arrogant at his church’s youth group too-
he had a circle of snobby friends who sat in the snobby-friend-pew
joe and his friends put on a spiritual show-
but looked down on the kids who weren’t from 95120
they looked down on the ones who didn’t wear expensive jeans
and some students felt unwelcome around these arrogant teens.

when the youth group had a service project joe was too busy
spending time with his girlfriend: self-centered-lizzy.
but that relationship ended faster than stephen and lc’s
joe and lizzie argued over who had prettier knees-
and prettier hair, and prettier clothes
the couldn’t agree on who had the more perfect nose.
he broke up with lizzie and got a new girl-amigo
he liked her because she was popular and because she fed his ego

but with all of arrogant joe’s self-centered pride,
joe began to feel empty inside
even though joe won every game and aced every test
focusing on his own drama soon made him depressed
if only he could get his focus off of the mirror
arrogant joe might have heard god’s voice clearer.
and if he focused on others God could’ve helped his heart grow
but it stayed the same size- poor arrogant joe.


well- its been almost 6 years since i’ve lived in modesto-
there are tons of things that i don’t miss:
allergies, the heat, gang members, hicks, the smell of slaughtered cows-

but there are tons of things that i do miss- here’s what first comes to mind:
:: first b
:: bonanza books and comics
:: o’brien’s market- especially when they BBQ with chaka’s
:: mills avenue
:: MJC stadium
:: davis vs. downey football game
:: yesterday’s books- still the best bookstore ever!
:: J street
:: roseburg square
:: sock hops on graffiti night
:: live music on the weekends at the “new downtown”
:: the library- it still beats any library we have in san jose
:: beckwith road
:: graceada park on earth day
:: stouffer park- but that’s in ripon
:: hischer nursery
:: putt-putt
:: firework stands! they aren’t in the bay area!

as far as places to eat:
:: smokey’s
:: velvet creamery
:: david wong’s china express
:: the yogurt mill
:: hof brau
:: shaved ice at california ice factory!
:: brighter side- best sandwich shop ever
:: garcia jo-jo’s!
:: la morentita!
:: the taco trucks- i’m getting hungry!

places i loved that are no longer there:
:: mondo java- it was a cool coffeehouse before coffeehouses were cool.
:: modesto mike’s
:: regency game palace
:: tilt- is it still there?
:: the cow playground in the mall
:: royal ice-cream- in roseburg square- one of my first jobs!
:: wherehouse records
:: the beat music

while i lived there, i thought that certain places were super-cool, until i moved to the bay area and discovered that they had those everywhere.
but here is a list of spots in that category:
:: barnes and noble- i met lars ulrich at the modesto barnes and noble!
:: borders
:: starbucks
:: the mall
:: chili’s

since i’ve left they’ve added tons of things that were never there while i lived there:
:: panda express-
:: galletto’s
:: and my mom’s shop: queen mab’s- right next door to state theater- go visit her!

it’s a charming town- and i’m glad that i got to live there for so long-
i don’t really see myself living there again- but when i am i town i’ve got a long list of things that i want to do while i’m there, people i want to see, and restaurants i want to eat at!

hey former modestans! what do you miss?