Saturday, March 31, 2007


Well, when TJ was just turning 3 years old an tyler was 6 months old and jake was no where... I stayed up late late late one night and finished a fort we built from scratch for TJ to surprise him. He loved it.

4 1/2 years later we moved. But, with 3 boys and all the money and time spent on building a 12 foot high monster fort, I unbolted it and brought it with me to San Diego. We also, with the new house, inherited a smaller fort.

So, my Dad and I rebuilt the old one, added a bridge, and modified two forts into one "mother of all forts kinda fort". It's like 30 feet long with 3 swings, 2 decks, and 2 slides- one of which is 12 feet long. You'd think that would have the kids elated... and it did!

...initially... but times change and 2 years later, TJ is almost 10 and now he wants walls, and doors, and stuff to hide behind so he and his brothers and their buddies can have full on WAR with each other.

So... enter FORTIFYING FORT BERRY- a 6 day set of after work/school projects that TJ and I did together. Jake and Tyler sorta helped. Sorta.

  • DAY 1: Trip to Lowes to buy plywood, paint, rope, couple of pulleys, and some hinges. Then we painted the plywood brown on both sides.
  • DAY 2: Add plywood to the sides of the fort and cut holes to shoot through. Added doors to a few of the holes for cool factor. It's always better to shoot through a hole and then slam the door shut on your enemy evidently.
  • DAY 3: Move the ladder from outside and angled to inside and straight up and down. Add trap door in the floor. Add plywood to upstairs railing.
  • DAY 4: Add dumbwaiter to keep trap door from falling on it's own (which 2 of my kids can testify really hurts) and make it easy enough for Jake to open. Add rope pulley system to get guns and ammo to the top deck.
  • DAY 5: Build and install the door downstairs.
  • DAY 6: Camo the place up and add the climbing holds to the 9 foot high climbing wall.
  • DAY 7: Dad rests and the kid start a war, ambush the neighbors, and climb like crazy.


Thursday, March 29, 2007


Thursday has become "thursdadsday" lately. Thursday afternoons I'm trying to spend some one-on-one time with TJ. Friday after school has become Jake's time- usually on the trampoline- till his brother's get home. Not sure where Tyler and I are going to bond alone... but I'm gonna have to make that happen soon. But lately, I've also had 2 consecutive weeks of Thursday events with the boys school.

Last thursday tyler played the role of a servant to the Giant in his school play, "Jack and the Beanstalk". It was fun to watch him. He was so excited to have his family there. He is NOT our actor, so I was just excited that he actually sang the songs. We sent him to VBS last summer and the whole stage was filled with kids belting out the songs and Tyler was standing there- with this look that said, "These people are so lame. I have no idea why they sing. I'm too cool for this." So, his participation was a HUGE step in some direction.... I guess in the singing direction.

Then, today, I went with TJ's class to a local nature preserve. We spent the first 20 minutes in the museum being indoctrinated into Kumeyaah Indian creation stories by a movie about how the world came about .... really made me wonder if the Genesis story sounds this utterly ridiculous to those hearing it for the first time... made me think maybe I'm as nuts as this Indian guy telling me that two creators made the place and after a war, one of them died and the coyote jockeyed for position to end up in charge, eventually eating creator number one's heart and causing the dirt to turn red as he spilled the blood.

We then went on a hike down to the river to see this rock where the Indians would make their bread and such by mashing acorns with a rock. That's a lot of mashing of acorns to eventually make bread. And by the way, since they must have been eating rock in minuscule amounts in their bread... I'm gonna try adding a pinch of granite dust to my cereal in honor of those who used to have to grind acorns.

We then ate lunch, hiked back out, and I learned the fine art of how as a teacher- by the end of the day- you want to strangle the kid who won't stop breathing on you as you walk... Oh... and teacher's evidently have hand signals for everything. I have not maximized this learning yet and I need to get on it. She raises her hand and everyone has to shut up before her finger count down goes from 5 fingers to a fist. I'm thinking maybe this would work in youth group- yeah right.... Then she also does this thing where she has numbered the class, and if she wants to know if anyone is missing, she just does this count down thingy and everyone has a number that is memorized that is their number. They count down from 1-20 and these kids even know who is missing- by number alone. Like walk up to class and say, I'm missing #11- who is gone. They can tell you. Yep... my kid is being indoctrinated. Lord help us.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Well, Day 4 started before the sun got up. I decided I wanted to see a sunrise, which I'll show you in some pics to come soon, but in the mean time, I offer these two photo collages of our trip to go cave tubing in Belize: a country south of Mexico and right next door to Guatemala in Central America. They speak English as their national language because it used to be a British Colony. Anyway, this cave tubing thing was one of the things we signed up for the very first day on the boat. And it turned out to be quite the memory maker. Here's the trip:

  • Take a boat to the shore. We had to anchor off shore and then they send a "tender" boat to come get you and take you the 2 miles to shore. This does not mean the boat was gentle. It's just one of the many new lingo terms you should get used to if you're going to go cruising. Aft. Starboard. Muster Station. Tender. yatta yatta.
(side note: some knucklehead jumped off the same boat we were on at the same itinerary we had this week. 2 am. Pitch black in the Caribbean. Somehow they were miraculously seen "falling" into the water and then got saved after several hours of searching by the ship and it's rescue boats. As an FYI- you don't "fall into the ocean" off a cruise ship... you end up in the water cuz you jump. Which is why we have decided they won't let us [us being the men of our cruise party] rent an expensive suite with a balcony off the back of the boat. 1. cuz every morning when we woke up, we'd pee off the back. Just cuz it sounds like a lot of fun. 2. Upon arrival to port, when it comes time to disembark, we won't need the ramp. We WILL be jumping in. Guaranteed. 3. Upon port departure, someone will likely bare their buttocks. Not me of course. But someone would be tempted to do that as you were leaving... especially ports that have other cruise ships watching you leave.)
  • ok.. back to my story. Upon arrival at the port, we got in line and got on a hour long bus ride to the caves we're going tubing in.
  • 45 minutes into the ride. Our bus blows an oil cooler- engine is broken beyond repair.
  • They have us exit the bus and wait on the side of the road in the shade of the bus. Driver climbs on the roof to call for help using his cell phone.
  • 5 more minutes go by and another tour bus comes by and says they'll go the extra 10 minutes up the road, empty their passengers, and come back to get us.
  • 20 minutes go by and no bus.
  • now American tourists show what spoiled rotten idiots we are.... and some of our bus starts demanding they get a refund from Saul, our guide. Cuz their perfect vacation just got a little bumpy.
  • 5 minutes go by and the Belize army comes by. Our driver asks them to take him take to go fetch another bus
  • Andrew and I start a rock throwing competition and try to see who can hit a tree stump first. Andrew's been to Iraq to serve in the Army. Andrew is not rocked by the fact that our bus blew up it's engine. Big freakin' deal. I love Andrew. Perspective is everything for me these days.
  • Now we've been on the side of a dirt road for 30 minutes. I think some people are going to call the US embassy and demand an international subcommittee get on this problem.
  • 35 minutes and then we get a ride in a "new" bus. Our group picks the name "busted group" for our trial hike and code word in the caves.
  • We arrive at our destination, Jaguar Paw, and are given a life vest, head lamp, and an inner tube and we hike 20 minutes or so in the jungle.
  • We then go down to the river and jump in the water and on our tube.
  • Float for a couple of miles (about an hour) inside two major tunnels where there is no light and lots of cool rock formations. Some bats. A couple of occasions where there's a hole in the tunnel in the middle of it and you can see the jungle coming in from the side.
  • Float ends much closer to the starting point. So you only have to hike like 200 yards on the end of the trip and then you're done.
  • Beautiful vegetation. Amazing rocks and stuff. Lots of fun. Chance to see some of the world in ways I never would get to otherwise. Very cool.
  • Re-board the bus for an uneventful hour long ride back to Belize City for some shopping and lunch.
Pictures of the float portion are a little fuzzy cuz my cool water proof camera feature works awesome while under the water, but I've got a learning curve on how to make sure there's no water spots to blurry the photo when it's not submerged and needs a flash... which is the case for this whole excursion inside the caves.

'aight... enough yappin'.... here are the pics:


Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Monks. Brewin' Booze. Prayer. Money for God's work. Evidently they all go together.


Monday, March 26, 2007


Here's a photo set from the evening attire of day three: good solid proof that if you add to good friendships, a back drop of a beautiful Sunset, mix in some red wine, dessert, and an ice basket of fruit- then what you've got is a good old fashioned recipe for good times and great memories.



Today on the way to school he asked me this theological quesiton: "Dad, is God a boy or a girl?"

Go ahead theologians. Tell a 4 year old that the answer is "yes". God is neither male nor female and both male and female.

Sure. Makes sense to me.

Jake thinks I'm nuts.



"If sinners be damned, at least let the leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there UNWARNED & UNPRAYED for."
- Charles Spurgeon



QUESTION: In our Bible Study we are having a debate on whether or not a person can lose their salvation. One gal is taking the position that a person can loose their salvation and I am taking the position that a person cannot loose their salvation. Do you have any advice to point me in the right direction? Off the top of your head, I'm curious to know if their are denominations that strongly feel one way or the other. Any direction you can give me is appreciated!!!


Ok… so everyone comes to the table with a history that influences what they believe: family, culture, scripture, etc. I’m no different, and my response below is shaped by that- so you’ll have to factor that in as you read. My experience comes from the fact that I’m the spiritual equivalent of a denominational mutt. I mean I grew up in a Methodist church, I became an “official follower of Jesus” my freshman year in high school through a Christian Missionary Alliance church that I attended through high school, while at college I attended a First Baptist Church, I took my first job as a youth pastor at an Evangelical Free Church and now I’m serving in a “non-denominational” church with Calvary chapel roots. So, I’ve had a lot of various teaching about salvation and such through the years. In your reading on the subject, you may run across the word “soteriology”, which basically is a big word for your belief about salvation is. And there are lots of “soteriologies” that people teach, all of which they believe are rooted in the “correct” understanding of the Bible’s teaching on the subject. But you can basically boil all of them down into one of two categories.

1. Those who teach salvation in a single event.
2. Those who teach salvation as a process.

Of those two categories, you could also generalize what those two groups believe about whether salvation can be lost.

1. Event people teach salvation cannot be lost.
2. Process people teach salvation can be lost or taken away.

Ok… so now let’s break down some main proofs each grouping uses.


Basically those who claim that salvation is an event treat it as a “spiritual birthday” and look for confirmation that one is “saved” based on the precise ability to name a day when they were spiritually reborn (John 3). They would argue that even if the record has been lost by bad memory, all Christians have a spiritual birthday when their names are written in the “lambs book of life”. (Rev.13:8) Like a physical birth, it is an event that is permanent and in the past for every soul that has been promised eternal life. This realization places great confidence in the Christian that all their sins were paid by Jesus and no matter how they live from this day forward, they have an inheritance guaranteed by the deposit of the Holy Spirit in them. (Eph 1:13-14) This is the message preached in evangelical sermons all over the world, many of which (including the church I’m currently serving at) also offer a chance for an individual who is listening to “receive salvation” by praying a prayer of repentance and accepting Christ’s shed blood as payment for their sins.

If you’ve ever seen or read or used the “Four Spiritual Laws” gospel tract put out by Campus Crusade for Christ, then you know a classic example of this kind of teaching. Basically, Humanity is Sinful. Sin separates us from God. Jesus died to do what we could not- which is pay the penalty due to us for that sin and reunite us with Jesus. We receive this gift, and ultimately become “saved” by praying a prayer, asking Jesus to forgive us, and then forever more you are now a Christian. The Holy Spirit has put his deposit on you, guaranteeing what is to come . (2 Cor 1:20-22) and you’re good for all of eternity.

(as a side note: this is the dominate position of most churches that would call themselves “evangelical” and it is the basic premise that I grew up under for most of my early years as a “Christian”)


By way of a word picture, for those who see salvation as a process, they see it less like a legal transaction or spiritual birth date and more like the constant adjustments one makes while driving to stay on the road. There may very well be a distinct day when a teen gets their drivers license that one could point to as the first day they got behind the wheel and started to officially drive (or it may be a series of moments starting with just watching Dad drive as a kid), however the act of driving- like the act of being a follower of Jesus- itself is made up not of one decision, but of many. They site examples like: Jesus called His disciples to, “take up their cross daily”. (Luk 9:23) Paul’s challenge to the Philippian church was to, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil 2:12-13). Peter, speaking to “believers” scattered around the Roman world, tells them, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (1Pet. 2:2)

Even famously chosen verses by the “salvation is an event” group like 1 John 1:9 are in the context of a bigger plan of salvation. 1 John 1:9 tells the reader that sins are forgiven upon a prayer of confession. However, 1 John 1:7 reminds the reader that, “if we walk in the light, as [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” The question becomes, “Which piece of this sentence is it here that produced a purity from sin?” Was it the blood of Jesus? Was it the life lived in fellowship of other believers? Was it the walking in the light with God? Can we dump one of these three character traits of a believer as optional?


So, if you’re going to say one cannot “lose their salvation” then you have to decide when one officially becomes “saved”. For the event folks, this is easy. A classic example is the apostle Paul. He was living against God. Jesus met him on the road. He changed. (Acts 9) Or take Abraham. God met him. Offered him a covenant. He agreed. Faith was initiated. (Genesis 17)

For process people, it’s more complicated than that. Like when do you have enough salvation in you to be “saved beyond a doubt”? And what do you do with the varied experiences of believers in the New Testament? Take Peter as an example. Like when did he finally officially become saved? Was it sometime in childhood growing up as a young Jew- waiting for the Messiah and preparing him to be ready to answer the call when Jesus came around? Was it when his brother introduces him to Jesus and Jesus promises he’ll get a new name? (Matt 4) Was it when Peter confesses he’s a sinner in the presence of God after Jesus gives him a huge catch of fish one morning when he was done fishing and throws down his nets just because Jesus says to do so? (Luke 5) Was it when Peter correctly answers Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am” at Caesarea Philippi? (Matt 16) Was it only after Jesus dies and is resurrected and calls Peter to return to feeding and loving Jesus’ sheep? (John 21) Was it on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon him? (Acts 2)


I’m a process person. Here’s why:

  1. I believe, like a marriage, there is value in knowing the day and time this commitment began. I’m a fan of an official vow and making it public. I have no problem with offering people a chance to declare an “event” and pray a prayer and decide to start following Jesus. I have no issue with getting baptized and think people should as the scripture commands to make this commitment you have made to Jesus public. Like I mentioned in my own “denominational mutt” description of me… I can tell you a basic time when I think I really started “following Jesus” and a day subsequent to that where I was baptized.

  2. I don’t think that’s the whole picture. Jesus came to not just for "justification" from our sins, but for "sanctification" for our souls as well. Both are part and parcel to salvation. And with regards to the "justification piece": It’s not always so easy to name a date and time, nor was it the goal of salvation for the early church fathers. They were seeking disciples, not merely decisions. As long as the prayer is the beginning of a life of change; Awesome. But too often it’s a prayer; Period. I feel this great pressure as a parent to help ensure that my kids have this “day and time” when they “officially began their life in Jesus”. Like the salvation prayer. I even tried to initiate it once at a family devotion. That’s a long story… but it resulted in my kid crying for no good reason. My problem in my own family is this: Take my oldest son TJ as an example. TJ is striving to follow Jesus. Ask him and he’ll tell you he is. As best as he can at 9 years old. However ask him when that “officially began” and he can’t tell you. Does that mean he’s unsaved? Every morning that I take Jake to school, his brothers leave and we have like 10 minutes of us time before he goes. We read a passage of the bible in my car. We pray. Should I be trying to make sure during that time that he has prayed a prayer asking Jesus into his heart? Lots of 4 year olds do. Shouldn’t I make sure he does this as a parent? Especially as a pastor parent?

  3. As a youth pastor, I’m not primarily interested in giving students confidence they are “saved”. That, for me, is a fear based soteriology I don’t think is the essence of the gospel. This is really the reason we feel that we need to give people a “guarantee”. It says that I have to help you know you are saved so you can be confident, that no matter how bad you screw up, God won’t remove his blessing from you. (However, this is not what God told the nation of Israel through Moses. Deut 30:15-18) I don’t think that’s why Jesus died on the cross to give us confidence, that no matter what we do, God will always save us, even if we stop serving him. Yes, I think his death guarantees something for those who place their faith in Jesus. However, the process of becoming holy is a life long one. I’m not supposed to cross a line and stop. I think this is what the teaching that “salvation cannot be lost” does.

  4. What do you do with verses like Matt 7:21-23? There are a lot of people evidently living a life that looks like they made a decision for Jesus, that are not really following Jesus. That scares me to death. God only knows how many people over the centuries have “prayed a prayer” to commit their life to Jesus and never done another thing about it- maybe even confident that they were good with God because of the words of well intentioned pastor. I don’t think this is what the Scriptures have in mind when they speak about salvation.

  5. Personally, I’m trying to live with a healthy Fear of the Lord in my life. I don’t live fearing that God will send me to hell if I screw up. The life of David should set that fear to rest. He royally screwed up a grip of times and yet the scriptures claim that he had a “heart after God’s very own heart”. However, I also don’t want to claim that I’m invincible. I think that I have a long ways to become like Jesus, and I need to be careful every day, to make sure that my heart is devoted to God. Like my marriage- no, I don’t live in fear that my wife and I will get a divorce. But I also don’t take that as an impossibility- I think Satan loves it when people let down their guard based on a false belief that they will never ever do what others have done. It’s not a one time decision that I live with in total confidence could never be undone. It’s a daily commitment to purity, devotion, and relationship that I need to daily reaffirm. I think it’s a scary thing, an even an unbiblical thing, to decide that my salvation is so secure, that my obedience to Jesus is now optional.

[Final note: If you happen to have read this post this far and you would like to have a paper I wrote on this subject, just leave a comment asking for it with your e-mail address and I'll send the full 11 page word doc to you that some of this post comes from.]


Sunday, March 25, 2007


Well, Day 3 found us at my favorite port. It's an island off the coast of Honduras called Roatan. We stopped off at a port called Coxen Hole and then got on a bus that took us on a 30 minute ride through the jungle terrain, down the side of a mountain, and to a private beach resort called Tabyana Beach. Palm trees. Beach Lounges. Music. Sun. Sea. Snorkeling. Our new friend Oscar who worked there and would watch our stuff when we left it. It doesn't get any better than this.

It provided me with my first opportunity to try out my new cover I got for my digital camera that makes it into an underwater camera. I immediately got my snorkel and fins and went out to check out the reef. My boys were so excited when I told them I managed to land a picture of a small octopus. Shannon and I went for a walk on the beach, ate lunch, and were basically lazy all day. Shannon spent most of her day reading. I spent most of mine in the water checking out fish and coral and wondering what was out in the deep. I really bad wanted to see some shark or dolphin or sting ray or something out there.... but nothing but big blue ocean beyond the reef. But, you know when you're getting far from the reef cuz the water temperature changes drastically and it gets colder, which is a little freaky.

After the day at the beach, we took a shuttle back to the dock and decided to go walk the neighborhood and do some local shopping. We immediately were approached by a local junior high kid named Marcos. He was fluent in English and Spanish and he began, unsolicited, to give us a tour of the city. We told him what we were looking for and he took us to what he said was the best local shop. We looked around, I bought a pound of local coffee beans, and then we had some ice cream with our "guide". I knew that the conversation we were having with Oscar was going to cost me some money... but I didn't care. He never actually asked, but we did tip him nicely. I loved this kids stories and he was tons of fun. He's in the lower left corner of the first collage. He made me want to come back someday to work with the locals.

Here's the photos from the day at the beach.... I made 2 sets.



This... is AMAZING... and a good reason to watch tv... or at the very least to spend several hours browsing the discover website. I haven't watched TV in forever. I even sorta gave up on 24. I'm like 8 episodes behind on my DVR. But tonight.. I'm giving this planet of mine and the God who created it 3 hours of my attention. And between now and April 22, I think I'll make it part of my Sunday night ritual.

here's some facts about the filming:

  • 5 years in the making
  • 2000 days of footage
  • 204 locations
  • Every Continent
  • Sigourney Weaver is the narrator
Basically- this thing is sick. Rock on.....


Saturday, March 24, 2007


Lately, I've had a few former students e-mail me with questions about the Bible and faith. It's cool to know they feel like their time with me in high school resulted in some adult desire to seek out a trusted friend. This is both humbling and a great honor.

But, as I answer them, I do so with some fear... cuz I certainly don't have all the answers, but for what it's worth, I was praying about it the other day and thought maybe others would enjoy them. So I made some minor changes to the questions so they'd be situationally neutral, and still keeping their feel and honoring the anonymity, since I didn't ask if I could post them.

So, this post, and at least one more to come later in the week will be about theological questions others have asked me to expand on from my point of view.


Sorry to only hit you up or information...but when I thought "Wise Councel" I thought of you. [see honored and scared note from me above] I've been attending this great church. At first I was resistant, mostly because of all of the baggage from the past few years, but I'm returning to the Lord, and it's exciting - but scary. The scary part is being filled with the Holy Spirit, sure that's not really scary - but this church is so Spirit filled and focused, that because of my background, I'm not super comfortable. I wanted to know what you felt about being baptized in the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts. It's a nondenominational church, but they believe in a prayer language, or speaking in tounges (only to God of course - not as a congregation so much) and I have just heard so much against that - or more like an attitude of negativity to speaking in tounges, etc. I keep hearing in my head "oh those crazy babbling people..." you know? :) But the more God is working on my heart, the more I want to be free in him - i don't want to be held back from biblical truth and all that God has for me - but I have this fear...a stupid fear really, of being a "fool".


"Good to hear from you. I'm glad that you're finding your way back into connection with the church and God and exploring your faith in new ways.

As for the baptism of the Holy Spirit- here's the scoop. On the one side. No problem. Sure, I think God uses tongues or other languages and I know some very connected people who have a prayer language they believe that God has given them. It sounds as though this church embraces "all the gifts" and that they control the use of them in the contexts where Paul gives clarification for these in 1 Cor. 14.

On the other side. I'm concerned about 2 things.
  1. That there is no pressure or idea that somehow, these are the true sign that you are holy spirit filled. Some churches read the day of pentecost in Acts as a sign that if the spirit of God is in you, then by default, you will speak in tongues. This has several problems, not the least of which was that in the book of Acts, they were speaking in languages that were "known to others" but "unknown to them." Like all of a sudden, by the power of the holy spirit, you can now speak fluent Cantonese, etc. So, as long as they are "permitting" the gifts to be expressed and encouraging people to explore them without some sense that you must exhibit this character trait or you're not filled with the Holy Spirit, then I'm good with it.

  2. I'm concerned that they don't also indicate some sort of heirarchy of the gifts. Like your prayer life is going to be amazing if you start praying like this, and not so much if you don't. That super prayer people pray in tongues and idiots don't. I think you should ask God to show you what is truth and what is not. You should read up on the texts that deal with this in the New Testament, and then you should be open to whatever gifts God might give you or express to you through others. If this church believes in prophecy and someone comes to you with a "prophetic" word, go ahead and hear it. But then do what 1 John says and test it too. Test it against Jesus and against the Bible and against your own convictions.

I went to college and got involved my freshman year with a Bible Study I was enjoying. But before I knew it, they were telling me that I had to go to their church and that unless I was baptised by their church, I was not a true follower of Jesus. I bolted. It was false.

However, don't let your "conservative protestant" roots keep you from exploring the whole truth of God's word. Some churches would say that some of the gifts are no longer used today. I would disagree. I don't see any evidence for that in Scripture... I do however see evidence of ways the "other gifts" and often those called "spirit gifts" which really they all are- but you know what I mean... tongues, prophecy, etc.... those gifts are often said they are dead today.... I don't think so. They should however be used properly and with checks and balances. Don't fall for the lies or pressure. Trust the Holy Spirit's voice in you too.

Also... depending on your involvement at this church and such, you may want to set an appointment with someone on their team and ask them what they think or what they teach specifically about this. Because it's kinda "controversial" sometimes, they may also offer a class or have a pamphlet or a part of their website that expresses their opinions too that you could check out and read or attend or whatever.

Ok.. hope that helps. Praying that God continues to restore and build you into the one he created you to be..




Well, it's been just under 2 years of blogging my life experiences, rants, family photos, ministry stuff, and such. This marks my 200th post. Some people achieve this really fast. I'm kinda slow I guess.

My blog meter thingy says like 250ish people a week hit this thing up. Most stay on it for less than a minute. Don't know that it matters. Maybe in honor of my 200th post... if you enjoy this blog and read it psuedo regularly, you could comment as such and tell me what you like best or whatever. Might be kinda fun to know who really does drop in now and again.

Maybe if no one comments I know that I do this for myself. Peace out people. I'm going to bed.



Well, this day started rather lovely and unforgettable. We started off with our first (of what would become many) continental breakfasts ordered by us and delivered by a nice man from Mexico, straight to our lovely balcony. Shannon would hide in the bathroom (evidently strangers are not allowed to see you sleeping or standing anywhere in your robe) and I would stop my reading and get the door (I got up early each morning to read by the ocean and enjoy some java). He'd set up and then we'd eat. Danish. Cereal. Fruit. Juice. Java. Lovely.

After eating we went for something we had decided we wanted to try on this cruise that was a first for both of us. We had a couples massage. This meant that the two lovely ladies in the picture gave us a massage while we lied on two tables about 18 inches apart. This was weird on numerous levels:
  1. This was the first time we have both been naked in the presence of others together. Separately we've had to strip down for doctors and such, but never both of us for the same visit. Sure, we were covered up by a sheet, but basically- naked in front of strangers. I guess my wife's fear of the breakfast delivery man doesn't apply to the masseuse.

  2. They played ocean music on a boom box in the back ground to relax you. The last time someone played soothing ocean music in the background for my wife and I, it was the Lamaze class when she was pregnant with T.J. The whole scene was so fake and ridiculous since they were asking me to whisper to my wife that she needed to relax to the sound of the ocean while in imaginary excruciating pain, that while I was whispering the stuff in my wife's ears, she started laughing at me and I started laughing so hard we got kicked out of the class. She is still mad at me and blames me to this day for this episode. If I got kicked out of this massage I was going to end up sleeping alone on the balcony all week. But I really bad wanted to crack a few jokes. I bit my tongue the entire time.

  3. They use a lot of oil. Like enough to cook a 20 lb turkey. By the time I was done with this massage, I wasn't sure if I should step into the sauna to bake for a while or go shower to remove the 1/4 film that was now all over me.

  4. The lovely woman from Thailand, Christina, who gave me my massage kept moving my sheet that was covering me up. She would creatively fold and roll it around so as to expose various portions of my body so she could consequently give them oil and then rub them while I had my face buried in a pile of uniquely stacked towels. I was cool with this until she lifted the thing up to expose my right butt cheek. She then proceeded to oil my entire leg and rub my butt. Then she repeated the process on my other leg and buttock as well. This was really weird. I was not prepared to have my oily butt rubbed by some strange woman. Worse yet, I paid her a lot of money to do it and tipped her when she was done. And it wasn't even Vegas.

  5. Um... well they then leave and ask you to turn over. Um.. I was not expecting to turn over. Regardless of this thin little cover up sheet thingy they have over me. I was expecting to have my back rubbed. This roll over thing struck fear in me. Not nudity fear cuz I went ot college with like a gazillion roommates who took pretty much all the modesty I had left and flushed it down the toilet... but that's another story. It's a different kind of fear here. Anyway, I have lots of funny and ridiculous things I could share right here, but since I have no idea who reads this stuff, so I'm going to omit them... I will say that I spent the remainder of the massage thinking about chores I had to do and dead puppies and other non-exciting items. Not helping much they now had the towel that used to be under my head now blind folding my eyes and covering my face. They also nuked it or something to make it warm.
After our 1 hour and 15 minute massage, we went to our days events at the Mayan ruins which I described in my previous post below.

Then we came back from lunch on shore and 3 of the couples went to Sabatinis- an onboard 16 course Italian dinner restaurant. You pay $25 per person to ditch dinner in the main dining room to have dinner in this restaurant. You pick your salad, your entree, and your desert and then in between all of those courses, there are several others. Totaling like 16. They just come around and deliver up all kinds of various fruit, seafood, vegetables, breads, cheeses, several types of caviar, sardines, and a grip of other stuff. They pass it out to everyone, you eat as much as you want off your plate, and then they load it up with new stuff. It was amazing. I ordered a huge lobster tail and we split a lovely bottle of wine. We all agreed it was well worth it. We grubbed and ate stuff we never would have had even tried had we not experienced this.

When we were done, we waddled out to go dancing.

here's the photos... no there's no naked ones. Click on them to get a closer look at the amazing lobster I ate if ya want.


Friday, March 23, 2007


Today I picked jake up from pre-school. I asked him if he had anything in his box. He said yes and I went to pick it up.

Now close your eyes and picture this..... ok so that will make it hard to read, but you're going to need to imagine... however you choose to do that. Cuz I don't feel like scanning this art into my computer... so here goes:


  • One sheet of Pink construction paper.
  • On it, like 40 sea creatures are stamped on it in black ink.
  • Not 40 different sea creatures, just like 40 dime sized sea creatures of about 4 varieties.
  • Fish, crabs, sharks, and octopi (i guess that might be the plural of octopus.. I'm pretty sure it's not octopuses)

  • ...and 2 cows.
  • both are upside down.
  • Jake explained this to me. This one is a fish. This one is a cwab. This one is a shawk. This one is the octooopus. These ones awe the land animals. They awe dwownin.
  • Yep, my kid made an ocean seen and decided that it would be funny if 2 cows drown in it.

Aren't boys fun!!! These are among the givens of imaginative play time: someone dies, gets blown up, discovers a hidden super power, or decides to have a battle with another.


Thursday, March 22, 2007


No joke, I just got an e-mail titled that in my in box.

#1. a quick skim of the e-mail indicates someone, somewhere in Africa evidently, wants money.

#2. If this theology is correct, a grip of my volunteers are going to hell, because they don't read my e-mails.

#3. Is the reverse true too... like if I delete and don't read this e-mail, does that mean I send someone to hell? Guess I'm about to find out....


Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Well day two was my first ever view of the Caribbean sea in all it's multi-colored glory. I took so many pictures of the color of the water. Later in the blog series you should see some cool shots of it from the snorkeling ventures. You get a pretty good glimpse of it with the boat shot below.

I also decided that each day from here out- at least the port days- are going to require two collages per day. One for the shore activity of the day and one for the food events and such. We did eat a lot you know.... and it' should be documented- especially since every night we wore some "outfit" we took for the express purpose of eating dinner in it.

Anyway- we saw big Mayan ruins with our local guide, Diana. I got to use my first dose of Spanish and made my first purchase- a hand made wooden vase from a local artist named Servantes. He'd been making these vases for 3 generations. Very cool.

The Mayan ruins were nifty I suppose. Honestly, it was my least favorite day. I really want to say it was an impressive pile of rocks... but I actually was more impressed by the Jungle around them and of course- the color of the sea. I really badly wanted to get in the water this day, but our trip to the Mayan ruins took several hours and then they had signs all over on the shore near the boat that this stretch of beach was a "no swimming zone" for some ridiculous reason. Our only on shore swim option within reasonable walking distance was a HUGE wading pool in the center of this port side mall with a HUGE swim up bar... which makes the HUGE wading pool nothing more than a HUGE toilet for drunk people as far as I was concerned. So it was back to the boat to swim.

By the time we had returned to our boat, a Carnival Cruise Ship had also pulled up next to us.... here was a conversation I overheard from people heading to their boat:

"Hey John... oh man. It's so f'ing good to see you. We're so screwed. We ran out of money. (its the first day of their trip)"
"Oh... don't worry man. We got managed to get free drinks all day. We got your back."

2 lessons from this overheard conversation and others like it:

1. spend the extra money. unless you want a floating drunken party, skip Carnival. Even though Princess (which we were on) is owned by Carnival... the clientele were visibly more sober.

2. um... don't swim in the GIANT MEXICAN TOILET.

here's the picture set... as always, if you click it, it gets really big if you want more detail...



I love to watch David Crowder lead worship. I love joining with him as I sing. It makes me happy. It makes me think- and mostly that this must make God happy. At some point, he inevitably gets the whole crowd to bounce. I once saw him lead at a willow creek student ministries conference where they had the balcony bouncing so much that they did structural damage to it and had to shut it down for the last day of the conference. I thought that was hysterical and awesome.

Anyway.. he and his crew are coming out with a new album. I ran across his blog as a link on a friend of mine's blog once and currently he's blogging the recording process and basically any randomness he wants to on the net- which only adds to my joy. I laugh at him daily now... since he rarely posts... this blog is kinda fun to read and anticipate the result of if you're a David Crowder Band fan.

In his own words... "the jiggling has commenced."



It's been 2 years since I've seen a sign where my gas was the cheapest. I've been reunited with a long lost friend oh cheap diesel... if you can call 2.89 cheap.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Our first full day was a day at sea. We relaxed all day. I read in the morning. We ate breakfast in the dining hall. Enjoyed watching the water fly by. Enjoyed using my coffee card. Ate a fairly light lunch by the pool. I even sat around for a few minutes and listened to people by art in an auction. Go figure... who knew people went on a cruise to buy art at an auction. The auctioneer said that more art is bought on cruise ships than all the world's land based art galleries combined. They even were selling one painting they claim is worth 135 G. Yeah... I didn't buy anything except a nice martini, so I could at least feel rich.

Later I went for a 3 mile run on the deck that goes around the lower level. I was hoping to see a whale or dolphin or something cool like that... but no go. Just enjoyed the sea breeze and tried to burn some calories before we got dressed up and gorged ourselves at dinner.

Dinner was one of 2 formal nights we had on the ship. We asked our group when was the last time that one of us got dressed up to take our spouse somewhere to dinner when it wasn't associated with a wedding or work related function and pretty much... the answer was never... so this was a fun treat. After dinner we went and laughed at a comedian and then tried to get the DJ in the skywalker bar (this bar that was like 150 feet up above the water and looked like the spoiler on a race car for our boat) to play some good old school 80's tunes. He wouldn't do it. We eventually wore him down as the week went on and by the last night... when we came in he pretty much just turned it on so we could re-live our high school dance days and laugh at ourselves.

here's the photo's of formal night in front of the first of many sunsets I filmed... I made sure not to miss one on the trip.



Just saw this product advertised. I think I might need it. 3 boys. $25. Sounds like a no brainer.

2 problems however:

  1. Who wants to clean the blue thing- especially since the toilet will not be splashing any rinse water on it.
  2. Instead of decreasing pee "misses", it might increase them now that they have a reason to "aim" for something other than the water. The splash zone might just increase. Especialy when the sword wars occur habitually at bath time. It would be even more cool if you could order one with a target on the back. Maybe I'll add my own.


Monday, March 19, 2007


Our first day on the boat was more like a half day... we boarded at like 3pm after standing several hours in line we shipped off at like 5pm. It was kinda overcast and even drizzling- we were excited to get out of dodge. Here's the pics and the details of departure day....
  • We found our room on the 10th floor with a balcony
  • Walked the ship to get our bearings
  • Bought our coke and coffee cards to use all week (it's cheaper cuz you have to pay for drinks on these floating hotels)
  • Found out what a "muster station" was (a place you meet before you drown) and how to use your life vest if we have a titanic episode
  • Found our dinner table.. 8:15 pm at number 278 for the week and met our waiter- Thomas from Hungary.
    Lots and lots of fun... and tons of anticipation in the air on our first cruise, our first time to the Caribbean and a week of full on laziness and fun.



This was how my breakfast came to me on the first day of our cruise. Someone in the kitchen must have been laughing hysterically when they made this. Everything else I want to write or say here is now being omitted...


Sunday, March 18, 2007

CARIBBEAN CRUISE- welcome to Galveston

Ok.. this week I'm going to try and relive my cruise week. I'll post a photo collage of each day- one per day for this week. Something I've been wanting to do since we got back. I was going to do this while on the cruise... but my computer busted on day 1.

Anyway, this first one is a photo collage of our first day arriving in Galveston, Texas.

We met our new traveling party, our old friends Will, Jill, Elyshia, and Andrew in At the airport in Houston, Texas. We also met Jeff and Lisa for the first time: two new friends for us who are former coworkers and long time college/wedding party friends of Will and Jill. We then took a crazy cab ride to Galveston, about an hour away to the Hotel Galvez. Each couple had their own cab because evidently we missed the shuttle that Princess Cruises had for arriving guests - so they sent us in cabs instead. One cab got lost, one cab got a ticket, and few were driven like ours- by some guy who evidently believed there are two ways to drive a cab: full throttle and coasting. He alternated between the two the entire one hour drive.

Anyway, once we finally got there, we had a nice dinner, a good nights sleep, lots of anticipation in the air, and a lovely breakfast to start off an amazing, relaxing, and must do again kind of week.


Saturday, March 17, 2007


Ahhhh 30 minutes of set up and now I'm off to nap.

It's about time. I'm way ready to be lazy.



I don't know if you care, but my paper is done. I don't even know who "you" is...

But for what it's worth... I stayed up till 4 am finishing it and then screwed up on dad duty and missed getting my kid to the first inning of his baseball game cuz I read the wrong weekend on the calendar... and overslept till 8:30am- which was- much to my horror- when his game evidently started.

Add to that, that I ended up turning the paper in a day late and that makes me a dork for a dad and an excuse making seminary student.

I suck.

I really need to pray about this seminary thing. It's killing me. I have a lot of stuff I'd rather be doing than filling my filing cabinets with papers no one but my prof will ever read. Like I said, I gotta go pray.

After I take a nap. In my new hammock.... which I have to go assemble first. Which was one of the things I'd rather have done already instead of writting my paper. Ok... I'm rambling.


Friday, March 16, 2007


I'm trying to write my stinkin seminary paper and keep from eating myself into oblivion. I seem to constantly drink stuff and munch on stuff while I write. Anyway, this reminded me of my sunflower seeds, so I went and got some from my newly acquired loot. As I was typing I looked down and saw David Sunflower Seeds company theme applied to the front of the package: "Eat. Spit. Be Happy." Someone at David's deserves a raise. That has got to be the best company theme ever.

My new seminary theme: Type. Spit. Finish this ...




Gotta love crazy hair day.

Now I have to get back to "crazy write a seminary paper day". oh joy.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I went to Costco today. I went to buy spits. They don't sell the bucket. Sam's Club does but they told me they are out and have no idea when they'll get them back in. I had to settle for boxes. I also found "round up" (which I was out of) and my wife said I could have this cool hammock I've been eyeing for a while now for my birthday/fathers day. Though both of those events are occurring in the next few months... since it's a seasonal item, I bought it while it was in stock.

Now you know the contents of my cart:
  1. Sunflower seeds
  2. a hammock,
  3. weed killer.
When I went to check out. The guy next to me had 3 basic items in his cart too.
  1. Case of Beer.
  2. Couple of large bags of pigs ears.
  3. Case of motor oil.
I'm not entirely sure why I found this hysterical, but I couldn't keep a straight face all the way from check out to the parking lot. I just wished I had my camera and I really wished the guy had a mullet. Then I think I would have followed him to his truck just to see if he left his wife there with no teeth and his kids peeing in the bushes.


Monday, March 12, 2007


Tonight after bath, I was going to read a story to my boys. TJ reads by himself, Jake and Tyler still let me read to them. However, tonight, they wanted to read a book that is not really a reading book, it's like a "search for hidden stuff in the pages" book. They really didn't need me and I wasn't feeling like searching, so I said if they wanted to read that book, they had 15 minutes.

I went to talk to TJ in his room instead. 5 minutes into it, Tyler announces he has to poop. Next thing I know, he's convinced Jake to join him so they can continue their search for hidden things in the pages of this book while he takes a dump. It seriously stinks in there. If this ain't a picture of brotherly love, I don't know what is.



"Look Dad, I have machine guns."

I don't think we are a very violent family. My children don't go hunting with me. We don't buy them movies with particularly violent themes or have them play video games where they shoot stuff often. But rocks turn into hand granades. Today I trimmed the palm trees. They stripped the leaves off of them to get to the stalk and sure enough, they were swords. The dog was the enemy. Socks are good for a battle that would cause anyone with a brain to take cover. I only have boys. I have no idea what girls do. But boys... evidently like to blow stuff up and destroy things. Anything. And if you don't provide them something to destroy, they'll pretend. I evidently live in a war zone.



That's what my stupid radio in my truck is claiming to be it's personal diagnosis.

My tape player that I use as my ipod umbilical cord so I can listen to tunes and podcasts and such as I drive now claimes it won't work. Instead all it does is flash the following green letters at me. MECH ERR.

Somebody was smart enough to program my stupid stock radio to tell me when it is busted. If I had invented it, when it broke it would just flash: SUCK 2BEU. Then at least I'd laugh at my stupid busted radio.



Saturday was consumed by baseball. Pretty much the foreseeable future of Saturday's are consumed by baseball. 2 games every Saturday for my 2 oldest boys plus 2 in the week makes for a lot of baseball. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but baseball is long and well- boring. So, what to do while I pass 5 to 6 hours of Saturday's at baseball besides just cheer and wait for my kids to have a chance at bat or have the ball come their way?

Option 1: Whittle. I thought about it, but it involves a knife and I'm sure some crazy parent will think it's only a cover so I look like I have a purpose for the knife other than stabbing the ref in anger when he calls a bad strike zone. So, no whittling.

Option 2: Text Message. Sure, I could do a lot of this. But 2 problems. #1. I look like a technology dork who can't pay attention to his kid's game. #2. I hate text messaging. That's out.

Option 3: Eat. Well... I just got back from a cruise and while I love a good "dog" at the game, I'd get HUGE if I did this. Eating is definitely out.

CURRENT SOLUTION: Spits: I took up "spits" again. I think I'm gonna buy a 5 gallon bucket full and see if I can go through them in the season.

-It keeps you busy cracking them in the stands.
-It's socially acceptable to spit them at the baseball field.
-I get to be a kid again.
-Even 5 gallons of sunflower seed shouldn't make me super fat.
Or maybe I'm just willing to risk it.

Here's to baseball and spitting.


Thursday, March 08, 2007


America, according to USA Today, gets an "F" for religion. The basis- basically because America sucks at religious jeopardy. I don't dispute that America is continually a pluralistic society that is anything but primarily faith centered. I also don't dispute the primary point of the first chunk of the article about how the current global political climate and America's response to it is complicated by religious ignorance that could be solved by Americans and others doing their religious homework for themselves instead of depending on the media to inform them.

What I dispute is that underlying and implied thought in the title and the rest of the "education" portion of the article that somehow knowing the 10 commandments or defining Ramadan is essentially the definition of someone who gets an "A" in religion. You can even quiz yourself on the sidebar of the same article based on your knowledge of a few basics of mostly the Bible, sprinkled with a few other faith systems. I recently even posted a similar link to a quiz on my own blog about the Bible, which I purposefully titled, "Do you know what Jesus said?" However, knowing it and living it are 2 separate things. Arguably, perhaps the one leads to the other. But not by default.

I wonder how many people in the world think that loving God or being faithful to a religion involves merely the lame memorization of trivial facts that are disassociated from their daily lives and thus proves, that God, faith, and understanding religious systems are truly pointless examples of European based learning tactics. For example: I have not memorized the order of the minor prophets in the later portion of the Old Testament- I fumble around or use the table of contents when I need to find them. GAAAAAAAASP. What a horror as a pastor- it's amazing God lets me live and my church ever lets me teach or hold a position. I should stop blogging right now and start memorizing before I get fired or the Heavenly realms smite me.

I think America should get an "F" for faith because we have reduced the life of Jesus to a trivia test of what he did in the Garden of Gethsemane instead of our ability to live out the implications of His prayer here today.

RANT OVER. I think.



Tyler and I went to old town San Diego with his first grade class. We were given a tour of old town by a lady who tried to help the class understand what life would have been like in the mid 1800's here in San Diego. Here's what I learned:

  1. It took 6 months to sail from New York to San Diego. I just flew to Texas, went on a 6000 mile round trip tour of Mexico and Central America, and flew back to San Diego in less than 10 days. Who decided I got to live in 2007 and not 1907? Times have changed.

  2. Usually when I go on these things it's just me and 5 moms. This time, it was me and 2 other dads and 5 moms. I tried to talk to one of them. I don't think either of them said 2 words the entire trip. Evidently, men on field trips operate under the same rule as men in front of urinals and men in elevators. You are not allowed to speak to anyone. Eye contact is bad. Grunts are ok.

  3. Old Town has pretty plants. All of which are protected. The red dye they used for paint or coloring clothes comes from the "guts" of a white fungus that grows on cactus plants. It's really weird.

  4. Soldiers used to carry women on their shoulders from the boat to shore so their skirts didn't get wet. I opened the door all week and waited for my wife to walk first on my ship and waited for her food to come before I ate and looked after her as best I could this last week. However, never once did I carry her ashore. None of the Mexican army offered either. Evidently, chivalry is dead.

  5. Teachers (who were always women) of the one room school house were not allowed to get married or eat ice cream but they could beat the children with a stick. Why would you starve a woman of enjoyable food, tell her she can't have sex, and then when she's good and pissed at the world... give her a stick and tell her to teach your kids? I must be missing something.
Here's some more pics.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I took my mac loptop in to get it repaired yesterday at an authorized repair center. It was under warranty.

They said if I just dropped it off, they'd get to it next week. I could not do that.

They said if I paid $50, they'd get to it the next 2-3 days. That wasn't going to work very well either, especially if they needed to order parts.

They said if I paid $150, they'd get to it now. So, being that I needed my computer to do my job, I paid the $150.

3 hours later, they called me and told me to come pick up the computer, they found a major software problem in the "directory" and fixed it and it was ready. I said, "I have no idea what you just said, but great!"

30 minutes and 2 freeways later, I showed up expecting to take my computer and go. They however said that a software problem is not a warranty issue, and that it cost's $89 to fix. They they told me that someone had refunded by $150 rush fee and that they in turn actually owe'd me $61.

This was great.

They then began to explain to me how this was because I had brought the same computer in on Saturday and already paid the rush fee for a motherboard issue. I then was faced with accepting my pure dumb luck based on someone's mistake or to admit that I was in Mexico on Saturday and did not bring it in. I chose the later and told them of their error.

They looked confused. Asked if I was Brian Berry and confirmed my address and said the computer serial numbers matched. I said, thanks for whatever money you want to give back to me, but I did not bring in my computer on Saturday.

The tech then went to go get a salesperson. The salesperson said he thought they owed me $61. I looked confused. He went to go get the manager- who was locked in a conversation/dispute with another customer for like another 10 minutes.

The manager finally came over and said, I don't know what seems to be the problem, we clearly owe you $61. At this point, I stopped pointing out the error of their ways, and by their demand- 20 minutes after I walked in to simply pick up my computer- took my $61 back on my Discover Card and left the building with my computer.

I wish all my transactions were this difficult if I'm going to get paid to tolerate them.


Sunday, March 04, 2007


Well, we're back from our 7 days in the Caribbean sea. Wow. What fun. What a restful time. What amazing food. What great company. What a beautiful and diverse planet God has created. We enjoyed our cruise immensely and are already talking about Cruise #2 somewhere in the future. I think I might have caught a travel bug. I could get addicted to this experience. I'll blog more about my learning's and post some pictures in the coming week.

That is after I get my computer fixed. On day one of the cruise- our first day "at sea" I was tweaking some photos for a few minutes and compiling pictures from out first day's travel and my computer froze and then stopped working. Bummer. But I guess in some ways, it caused any temptation to use the web services on the ship or to spend anytime at all on my computer. So it was a week where I watched zero TV, made only one cell phone call home, and never touched a computer. I watched every sunset and one sunrise from either my room balcony or the ships deck and read one 300 page book... an hour at a time each morning with java delivered "free" [umm I paid for it... just in advance :) along with everything else I ate and virtually nothing that I drank that week- the drinks are not free] to my room by a nice man from Mexico- same guy delivered it every day but I forget his name. We had some nice conversations- like 2 minutes each in my broken spanish. Our dinner table waiter- Thomas was from Hungary. Our room steward, Panya was from Thailand, and our drink waiter- Englebert was from the Phillipines. It was quite the experience. I met some amazing people- both on the ship and at the various ports. I'll blog more on that too.

Ok... well - we're home. Until my computer gets fixed... I think the blogging shall cease some more. Hopefully it's simple and something I can get fixed in a day or two. I really do have to get back to work and to working out now... I think I might fast for 3 days in repentance of all the food I gobbled... the majority of which was after 8pm. Dinner was crazy.



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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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