Sunday, October 26, 2014

Local Churches Make a Difference in Fremont, California

Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison, Resonate Church Pastor Ryan Kwon and Thornton Jr. High Students
Make a Difference Day 2014

Several local churches poured their hearts into Thornton Junior High on Make a Difference Day, October 25, 2014. Registration had to be closed because of the overwhelming interest in the project, as 450 volunteers signed up to do handyman chores, cleaning and landscaping. Despite pouring rain for most of the morning and a maxed out parking lot, people came in droves. The school, located at 4357 Thornton Avenue in Fremont, also heavily promoted the event, and many students were there to help.

Make a Difference Day in Fremont, California

The Junior High is well maintained, but needed some beautifying after years of normal wear and tear. Principal Stan Hicks asked for landscaping at the front of the school for curb appeal, something he'd always wanted but could never find room for in the budget. He was pleasantly surprised when he was asked for a longer To-Do list for the cadre of volunteers, and he provided his wish list.

Principal Stan Hicks, Vice Principal Harry Pabley, Pastor Scott Taylor and
Volunteers With a New Picnic Table

Hicks said, "I've been here eight years and this is the biggest community outpouring I've ever seen." The basketball court needed re-striping and new hoops and backboards, the stage and a boys' bathroom needed paint, classrooms needed cleaning and weeds had to be removed. Students have been eating their lunches sitting on the blacktop, so eight new picnic tables were purchased and installed outside. One extensive project was rebuilding the bleachers with new lumber.

Thornton Jr. High Students Thank Sponsors

Christine Szeto, Coordinator for the workday from Resonate Church, says that the only reason they were able to accomplish as much as they did was because students, parents, community members, and multiple churches came together for one cause-to make a difference at Thornton Jr High. Businesses and organizations also participated by donating food, supplies, and funds. Sponsors included Chipotle, Dale Hardware, Dino's, Francis Donuts, Friesen Painting, Prime Metropolis Properties, MM Landscape Services, Noah's Bagels, Peak Performance Physical Therapy, Starbucks, Sunstate Equipment Company, Thornton PTSA, Sayf-T-Bar and Kelly Moore Paints.

Repaired Basketball Hoops

Make a Difference Day is a yearly national event, and the City of Fremont always participates. 100 projects were in progress, and Resonate Church's effort was the largest. It attracted the attention of Mayor Bill Harrison, who came midday to see the volunteers in action. "I've seen so much energy here," he said. "Thanks for giving back; that's important." Superintendent Dr. Jim Morris and School Board Members Desiree Campbell and Larry Sweeney also came to express their appreciation.

Repairing the Bleachers

photos by Christine Szeto and Steve Davis

Resonate Church strives to be of benefit to the City of Fremont and the surrounding community. They meet on Sunday mornings at American High School, 36300 Fremont Blvd., Fremont, for services at 8:30, 10:30 and 12:30 a.m. Grace Church Fremont meets at 9:30 a.m. and Cedar Boulevard Neighborhood Church meets at 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Saved By Jesus

Big Cross Christianity Mark
photo by

"Would you like to come to a revival service with us tonight?" my classmate asked. I was seventeen, searching for meaning and purpose, and overcome with shame and guilt over some things I'd done. My high school had a few students who curiously carried Bibles, and I wondered if they had any answers.

Salvation Testimony

Overcoming my pride and embarrassment, I ventured some questions. "How do you know God exists?" And then, "Would He really care about me?" I felt so insignificant in the cosmos. 

I agreed to go, but the service that night wasn't the Billy Graham experience I'd expected. It was in a small church attended by only a handful of people with a speaker from Tennessee. His dramatic sermon about Jesus' death on the cross hit me squarely, and I felt my spirit stirring. At the close, the congregation sang, "Just as I am without one plea, but that your blood was shed for me, and that you bid'st me come to you, O Lamb of God, I come, I come," An appeal was made to the audience: "If anyone wants to know how they can go to heaven someday, please come forward and there will be someone for you to talk to." 

I felt awkward but compelled to learn more, so I left my seat and walked down the aisle, where the preacher's wife took me aside to answer my questions. She showed me sentences in the Bible but had to decipher them because the ideas were so foreign. I wondered if God would truly accept me as I was or if He would require me to clean up my life first. I was resistant to change though I desperately needed it. "Do I have to quit drinking?" I asked.

That elegant woman, who I later learned had never touched a drop of liquor, assured me, "No, you come to Jesus as you are." Jesus has already done everything on the cross, so all I had to do was lay my sin at His feet and accept the salvation He freely offered. There was nothing I could do to make Him love me more, and nothing I could do to make Him love me less. I didn't know how to pray a non-repetitious prayer, so in my head I spoke my thoughts. "God, I want what this lady is talking about."

Immediately I felt as though someone had wiped my soul clean. The burdens I'd been carrying were lifted, and I could feel it in my heart. Then I remembered something a nun had taught me years earlier, that all the angels in heaven rejoiced when a baby was baptized.

It occurred to me that the kind, well-meaning sister probably had it wrong. It probably wasn't when a baby was baptized, but when someone was doing what I was doing right at that moment. Thus my first encounter with Jesus was followed with the realization that angels in heaven were rejoicing. Over me. Though in the universe I may have been smaller than an ant, the God of creation did notice me, and He did care for me.

My life has never been the same.

Read more: Remember The Cross

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Touring the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Taking a tour of the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) in San Francisco  is an educational, fascinating thing to do. The western branch of the United States' Central Bank is the largest one in the country, and a great resource for learning how American currency works.

Free Tours San Francisco

For tourists or locals sightseeing in one of the most expensive cities in America, the best thing about the tour is that it is no-cost. It begins in The Fed Center lobby at 101 Market Street, located above the Embarcadero Bart Train Station. The area itself is a tourist spot, near the Ferry BuildingEmbarcadero Center and Embarcadero Promenade, for those interested in more exploring afterwards.

First, every visitor must have a photo I.D. and go through security checks similar to airport security procedures. No cell phones are allowed inside, and the place is understandably guarded with bullet-proof glass, sensors and cameras to ensure complete safety. Once inside, a hallway lined with flags leads to a room with a map on the wall with the twelve Federal Reserve Bank locations and their branches. San Francisco's includes the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, plus the territories of the Pacific Islands. The FRB's purpose is to be an economic shock absorber, protecting the economy from its boom and bust cycles. The FRB's monetary policy is twofold: to help the economy maintain stable prices and to have maximum employment. - Travel deals to top destinations

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
101 Market Street, San Francisco, CA
Then visitors take an elevator to the shipping and receiving area in the basement. Money is the product the FRB processes, and massive amounts of it are taken in and out. Though bills as high as $100,000 were printed in the past, the highest denomination today is for $100. Workers operate under several checks and balances to make theft an impossibility, as millions of dollars daily pass through their hands.

Across the hall is a massive warehouse acting as a vault, and visitors can peer through its gated entry before moving on to the counting room, where dollar bills are examined and judged as fit, unfit or counterfeit. Bills in good condition sail through, but tattered ones totaling about $75,000,000 per day are shredded. The ones suspected to be counterfeit are set aside for the United States Secret Service to investigate, a duty they have in addition to protecting the President.

The tour progresses to the Currency Theater and Museum, where a short video is viewed before people peruse one of the rarest collections of currency in the world. Historic dollar bills line the room, starting with continental currency printed during colonial times. Engraved notes by Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere inspire awe, but each bill in the collection is priceless. After the American Revolution, private notes were used until the Civil War era, which spawned Union and Confederate notes, and interesting fractional dollar notes were circulated. The FRB came into being in 1913, which allowed a central currency, and a world currency that started during World War II. A $1,000 watermelon note similar to one in this collection recently sold at auction for 3.4 million, indicating how precious this collection is.

Visit the Federal Reserve Bank

The tour ends in a large exhibit area with interactive displays that teach facts about money and American finance. Also, each visitor receives a souvenir packet of genuine shredded U.S. dollars, which the FRB has such an abundance of, they recycle the paper into roof shingles, insulation and fireplace logs.

A limited number of people are allowed in each tour, which are scheduled two weeks ahead of time. For those interested in going, they will need to sign up on the FRB's website. The entire presentation takes ninety minutes. For those looking for something unique to do in San Francisco or are simply interested in how the Federal Reserve works, it is well worth the time spent.

Read more:

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Parent Coach

photo by Brian Sawyer

The Parent Coach

There goes a man
who loved a sport dearly
and tried to be great,
but others surpassed,
so he gave up the dream
and turned to his son.
“You will succeed,”
he said from on high.
“You will be great,
and all due to me.”

So he took on a team
and made his son star,
and told all his players
“I want only first place!”
He yelled at them all,
especially his boy,
and the son struggled hard
but it wasn’t his gift,
and in the end failed
and gave up the goal.

But the team knew the truth:
their feelings ignored,
their innocence crushed,
sport was now war,
and the casualties great.

The coach blamed his son
for his failure in life,
and the boy took the blame
because he was shamed
and never looked back
or loved it again,
for the memory stuck
of the coach who had trained him,
a man that he loved
There goes another
who shoulders a burden
most parents won’t touch,
for he’ll teach without pay
and care at great cost.
A fan himself,
he knows his game well
and chooses some boys
to pass on his skill.

Expecting so much
of the players he’s chosen,
he drills them with skills,
cheers and corrects,
and they give it their all
to learn and to win
not only for self
or just for the team,
but they want to win
especially for him.