Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scattered

Spike the Bearded Dragon is at Bob & Gina's house in Studio City.
X and Gracie, the goldfish, are at Dominic & Lisa's house in Simi Valley.
Lou and Anna, my in-laws, have our stuff in their shed in the backyard and stuffed into various nooks and crannies throughout their house.
We have a 10 x 20 storage facility in Simi Valley stuffed to the rafters with almost everything else we own.
Scamper Jr., the hamster, is here in Redwood City with the Bartoshuks for the summer.
The Corolla is staying with John & Lorraine in Redwood City.

Now the Nightingales, with just the minivan and all we could stuff into it (and the carrier on top and the bikes piled on the back) are heading to Bellevue, Washington. This is pretty fun.

[6/8/08 EDIT: The goldfish died.]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Parents' Nightmare - Pray for the Chapmans

Sometimes I am forcefully reminded of the fragility of life and the precious gifts my children are to Luanne and me. Steven Curtis Chapman was a favorite of mine back in the day (I sang "I Will Be Here" in our wedding!), and I respect his work with international adoption advocacy as much, if not more, than I respect his music.

His youngest daughter, Maria, was killed today... To make matters worse, she was struck down by an SUV driven by her older brother in the family's driveway.

Please keep Steven, MaryBeth and the Chapman family (especially the driver of the vehicle) in your prayers.

Update: Here's a link to Steven's website. A tribute blog has been set up where we can see a video of Maria and Steven and leave messages.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Access/Vox

It's Thursday night (Friday morning, really.) I think I'm ready to write about my time in Houston. I spent last weekend in Texas with Ted Law and his team at Access/Vox. We met back in February at the Covenant Midwinter Conference in Chicago. I was hanging with a bunch of my worship/arts buddies in the lobby and he walked through with Greg Yee. We talked a few times there in Chicago, and then in subsequent phone calls and Facebook messages, decided that it would be good for me to come to Houston and check out what was going on.

So on Friday I boarded a plane and flew from LAX to Houston's Hobby Airport. Ted picked me up and gave me an impromptu tour of Houston. We ended up at a restaurant in the Chinatown area called Cafe 101. It was the first of many meals with many people to meet and many conversations to enjoy. After a few hours there, we moved next door to Juice Box and had shaved ice with condensed milk, fresh fruit and ice cream on top. Never tried that combination before, and it was delicious. The place was packed and loud and really fun.

I stayed with Ted and Amy and their girls. Tried my first Sleep Number bed. (After three nights of experimenting, I decided that I'm an 85.)

Saturday was spent hanging out, eating, meeting more people and talking! Had breakfast at Access's office, moved to someone's house for my more formal "interview" time with the lead team and then on to lunch at a Phoenician deli. Then it was on to a big indoor game place (the name escapes me at the moment) for bowling and video games. Then dinner at a BBQ place. Back to the Laws' house. Compared iTunes libraries. Laughed at Youtube videos. Have you seen this guy?

Sunday was sweet. Access is in its infancy. In fact, they have not really "launched" yet. (That's coming this fall.) So far, it's about 50 adults and 10 kids in a small office in an industrial park. They have breakfast together and then Ted preaches. People get in discussion groups and share their lives and respond to questions that Ted poses. Announcements and then dismissal. They didn't take an offering.

I loved the simplicity of the worship gathering and the "blank slate" feel of it. It's not church as usual, and that really appeals to me. I know God called me out of PCC for something really different, something new. Ted interviewed me and asked how they could be praying for me. I sang a few songs I had written and then led them in three worship songs. They don't have music worship very often, so I think it was a refreshing thing for them and we all were able to enter in and express our hearts to the Lord.

Then it was another lunch together (this group loves to eat and be together!) and then home to Ted's. We hung out and watched a movie (Cloverfield), and then he took me to the airport in the morning.

There are a few other things I haven't mentioned. First, Access is primarily an Asian-American church (Chinese-American, to be precise). This would be a new experience for our family, since we have been in nearly all-Anglo churches our whole lives. But we're excited about it. I've been feeling for some time now that the Lord wants to teach, grow and use our family in a multi-ethnic setting. The weekend was a great experience to explore that possibility, ask questions and deal with stereotypes head-on. The authenticity that I experiences was refreshing.

Second, Access is really only half of the story God wants to tell with these people. They have already started a non-profit community development/arts organization called Vox Culture Houston. From their website: "Vox Culture Houston brings people together through music, culture and food from different parts of the globe in order to do something good. Vox is the Latin word for voice. We are combining the voices of artists, merchants and entrepreneurs to speak up for those who don’t have a voice."

So far, they have had one event called "The Global Cafe" featuring local musicians, artists and food. The money collected went to a local elementary school and also to an organization called Floresta that does microcredit, community development and environmental work in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Tanzania.

I've been dreaming/praying about stuff like this for a long time. See my previous post on this subject.

Thank you to all who have been keeping up with the blog and praying for us during this transition time. Our God is faithful and will lead us to the place where we will be best suited for His purposes in the Church and in the community. I long to be in the heart of this intersection of faith, art and good works. Pray for God's guidance for our family and for the folks at Access/Vox. And pray that we would all act in obedience and faith. I can't claim to know whether this is God's will or not, but I know I'd be delighted to throw my lot in with these folks. We'll see what happens... To God be the glory!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This World *Is* My Home: Learning from N.T. Wright

Much to write about from my weekend in Houston, but I'm still processing. In the meantime, a recommendation:

Read Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N. T. Wright. I've been devouring it for the past several days. It's amazing. He deals with the true hope of the gospel... the bodily resurrection and the New Heaven/New Earth... not just some "heaven" in the sky where our souls will live forever with Jesus. What makes this so amazing to me is that we all think so wrongly about this doctrine! (Or at least I always have.) It's so elementary, so pervasive throughout the Bible, but it's still a very common pop culture/church misconception that the end result for Christians is to "go to heaven" and live there forever. I'm learning that that is UNBIBLICAL. Reading the truth from Wright is totally changing my thoughts, my actions, my language with my kids... The glorious truth of the gospel is that I will be raised to new life in the New Earth, when heaven and earth are joined together, when the New Jerusalem comes to earth. And then that impacts my living in the here and now... the way I live and share the gospel.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Summer in Seattle

Well, it's official, so I'll give you the details. And you've got to hear the cool backstory.

On my last Sunday at PCC, March 30, Barb Berens came up to Luanne and me and said she had something to share with us. Barb is an amazing woman of God. She is a part of the Prayer Team that prays during the 9:15 worship gathering at PCC every week. In addition to this, she was on my personal prayer team, and she sends Luanne and me letters and cards every week telling us how she's praying (even since we've moved). She has spoken God's truth into my life in significant and powerful ways on many occasions, so when she speaks, I tend to listen. Anyway, on this particular Sunday, she said she had been awakened the night before by a dream. I had come running up to her saying, "Barb, it's Bellevue. It's Bellevue!" Now, to be fair, she couldn't remember the exact word. She said it was either "Bellevue" or "Belvedere," and she asked if either word meant anything to me in my search for what God's next step was... I said no, honestly neither word meant anything to me. She said OK and she'd keep praying for God's plans to be revealed to us!

Jacob and I went to Squaw Valley the next weekend, and while I was on the slopes, I got a call from Mark Novak, superintendent of the North Pacific Conference of the Covenant. I couldn't get it, and I kind of forgot about it until I was home that Monday. I had just read a card from Barb that Luanne had left on the counter reminding me of the dream she had had. I remembered to call Mark back then. He asked how things were going and then proceeded to ask me whether he could pass my information on to a pastor who was looking for an interim worship pastor for the summer. Where was this church? Bellevue, Washington, of course.

And now we're heading there. I'll start on June 1, take a week off to lead worship at Mt. Hermon the first week of August (my family gets to come too), and be done on August 17. From there, only God knows where we'll be going. Maybe Houston? I'll know a lot more after my trip this weekend.

I'm excited about this opportunity. I will work with their musicians and leaders, giving their current leaders a break and hopefully helping to bring fresh expression to their community's worship language.

Thanks for your interest and your prayers!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Garage Sale Musings

It's been another very full week for us. I spent Tuesday through Thursday at Lake Tahoe leading worship for the Mt. Hermon staff. It was great to reconnect with them in such a beautiful setting, and I'm looking forward to leading worship for Family Camp 8 (August 3-9) this summer.

It was awesome hanging out with Ugur one last time (although he's playing with me in August too). He's been a great friend for these past couple of years, and I'll miss him. It's always so much fun hearing people try to pronounce his name. We get "You-ger" and "Oo-ger" and all kinds of great attempts. (Note to PCC folks: It's pronounced "OOO-wer." Get it right... He's worked there for 2 years!) Ugur is always surprising me - First he turned out to be a great guitarist, then an Olympic swimmer and now a winning craps player. He won $114 at Harrah's on Wednesday. Impressive. I lost $2.50 in the slots.

We got to hear from the great Mark Labberton, speaking on the gospel of Matthew. First, walking through the genealogy in chapter one, he reminded us of the scandalously inclusive gospel... one that includes non-Jews and notorious sinners, prostitutes and me. Amazing. Moving on, he taught on the Sermon on the Mount, saying that the teachings of Jesus are meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. We have sanitized and tamed the gospel, making it palatable and non-offensive to our modern sensibilities. Challenging stuff... We're hoping to get him to speak at the Worship:Connection in Chicago next February.

Now, after a very long day of driving (Tahoe to RWC and then down to LA), I'm back in Simi. As I type, I'm sitting in the garage and we're wrapping up a big garage sale. We made a few hundred bucks and rid the house of some clutter. Luanne has been working so hard at this all week.

I'll update everyone on the job search soon. Looks like Seattle is gonna happen for the summer!
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