Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I've been trying to abolish a phrase from my life as of late. I no longer want to use it. I no longer think it is of God. I don't think it is redemptive in any way. I don't think it is Kingdom minded. It embodies all of what i don't want to be. It is subtle in how it creeps up on me though. It's this phrase:

"It's not my problem."

Here's why I don't like it:
  1. IMPLIED STATEMENT: Um.. sucks to be you.
  2. IMPLIED FALSE TRUTH: Humanity is not connected. Your problems don't affect me.
  3. WHAT IT REALLY MEANS: I don't have time for you or your problems.
Here's how this is playing out in my life these days:
  1. TRASH: I keep running into trash. I ran into some when I kicked it on my way to work last Sunday. I almost hit a wood chair on the freeway today. This new motto of mine, means that I had to stop and pick both of them up. Neither of them were my fault. Neither of them were "my problem" technically. But, do I really want to drive safely past a chair in the freeway, assuming everyone else will avoid it and it's the cops job to get it out of the lane? Who is supposed to pick up cups in the street? Lately... it's been my job. Because it is my problem.

  2. TEACHING: I can no longer let myself or my students get away with the idea that the problems in the world are not our problem. AIDS is not Africa's problem, it's humanities. So is poverty and child abuse and bigotry and racism and hatred and neglect and you name it... broken systems lead to broken lives and as a God fearing follower of Jesus, I can't ignore the pain around me. I recently watched an interview with Desmond Tutu who said that "all life is interconnected. " He spoke of how humanity is humanity. Race, continents, economic status... all of it cannot separate us from the fact that we are all connected. Intimately, inexplicably, and irreversibly. We all must care. Paul calls us to "mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice." That means everyone matters.

  3. DO SOMETHING: I can't solve all problems in the world. But I can do my part. Lately my pastoral role has led me to help a few women in our church whose problems are large enough that it would be easier to write them off, as not my problem. But I cannot. And because of those in the Kingdom of God who refuse to just leave them wounded, they are better today. Not because of me. But because of a redemptive community. Because of that a mentally unstable woman has found a group of caring friends and some help. Because of that mindset, a young teenage girl is no longer homeless, but instead part of a caring family. But while I don't know that I have changed the tide of sin and it's consequences in our world today, I do know that I have been used by God to affect a life or two for Him. I'm striving to do what I can do and pray that God fills in the big gaps in the stuff I cannot do.



This weeks Time magazine cover article is on whether Al Gore should run again. I was skimming the article when I got totally distracted by this picture of his home office:

  • Dude has- count them- 3- 30" Apple Flat Screens. Holy Moley. I'm jealous.
  • Nice flat screen TV... my office needs one of these.
  • Um... I've read a lot about the efficiency of a messy office, but this dude has piling crap down to a science. I think if my desk looked like this, I'd have to bomb the place. I certainly wouldn't let Time photograph it and publish it for the world to see.
  • What's with the frog?


Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Well, this weekend our family is having a garage sale.

TJ is turning 10 this year and we're redoing his bedroom. So, we're selling off some stuff we can't use anymore and some stuff our boys have outgrown- including TJ's bedroom set which happens to be my wife's grandma's set- it's like 80 years old or something.

My 3 boys also decided to put away the toy wooden train tracks and such. It's the first real
"keeper" toy to see it's last day. I boxed it up and put them in the attic. It's gonna be a while before they come back down I think. Unless I need to rediscover my inner child.


Thursday, May 17, 2007


I knew it was gonna happen one day. I'm surprised it took 2 years.

Our church office has exterior doors that only open with the key. From the inside or out- doesn't matter. If they're locked, you need the key to go through them from either direction.

So, tonight, it's like freakin midnight... and I'm trying to go home. I'm at church later than my normal late night after small groups cuz we have this HUGE serving project called Help Us, Help You on Saturday for student ministries to help our church raise the funds to keep us in our building:
  • Saturday. May 19. 8 am to 5 pm. Students serving in houses all over our community.
  • 56 different locations in San Diego, El Cajon, La Mesa, Spring Valley, Lemon Grove, Lakeside, and Santee
  • 87 middle and high school students
  • 11 car wash teams washing 45 cars and 1 motor home
  • 7 house cleaning teams going to 24 homes
  • 9 yard work teams serving in 21 different places
Well, anyway.... I was preparing for that when I finally decided to call it a night and go home.

So, I locked and shut my personal interior office door (which locks without a key) and headed for the main office door (which only opens or locks with a key) only to discover that I have my truck keys but that I had in fact blockaded my church keys inside my personal office and the main office is now locked and I'm now gonna have to sleep here.... or kick in the window to get out.

But... there's still one guy here. It's the finance dude. He could let me out of my suburban glass office cage. But he's in the next building over. I can see his car. I know he's there. He's even come to this side of the office once in the last 30 minutes. I call his office, but the punk won't pick up. I call it like 12 times. Still.... won't pick up.

I call every office over there. But nope- won't pick up. I even tried paging on the church facilities radios from inside the office. I'd call his cell but evidently it's like top secret or something cuz his is the only cell not listed on the staff directory...

So, I call Josh and he gets up, drives to church, and opens the door for me. At midnight. Now I owe him one or two or three or 5 bagillion.

I'm getting a hide a key for the office. This is ridiculous. And I'm a total dork.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I know..... this is old news. But my wife and I got to go out on Cinco De Mayo this year... and I figured what better place to spend Cinco De Mayo than old town San Diego? It was quite the experience. Thousands of people. Music. Crafts. Art. Warm, fresh, hand-made tortillas. Grilled corn. A couple of good beverages and a nice meal. Some cold stone ice cream for dessert. I even found a parking lot in our favorite "secret" parking spot in Old Town.

It was great. But my lovely bride says it's one of those things, "We did, but won't be doing again." There were a few too many crazy drunk people evidently. She definitely should not hit the beach on July 4th with me. That makes cinco de mayo look like a prohibition re-enactment.



Well, last weekend I went to my first wedding. Shannon coordinated it. It was a wedding for Jared and Emily. Two of the first people I met here in San Diego. Emily and Jared were dating then and Emily was a senior when I got here, leading worship in high school. Here's the highlights:
  • It was a fun outdoor wedding in a great park on Coronado Island. That's where every wedding should be I think.
  • The reception was on the Mission Bay waterfront.
  • They invited a guy named John. I loved the braided foo man he had on his face. You gotta love this guys commitment to facial hair. 4 1/2 years. I know I'm supposed to be watching the bride, but this dude's face totally distracted me in the audience.
  • The father of the bride performed the wedding. I think that's cool. I wonder if my kids will ask me to do their wedding.... maybe?
here's a photo set.... check out John's mug in the top left.



This caused mixed emotions in me.

Much of me disagreed with sooooo much with what this guy had to say. I often found myself wishing he'd stop saying anything at all to the press (at least on behalf of Christianity), that I confess, I was glad it was over.

Not long after that feeling though... I felt bad. I know...

I certainly don't wish death on anyone. I feel for his family and friends that saw sides of him I never did. I trust there was much I did not understand.

But, then again, there are days when I think the Lord should return so my family can go home too. Truly home. The longer I live and work on this ball of dirt... the more I truly pray that heaven comes to earth. Fast. I'm trying to bring it. I'm really trying. But I feel like I fail most days in that endeavour. Instead I just do what I've always done and get stuck in a rut. (I had a professor who once said that, "a rut is nothing but a grave with the ends kicked out." )

On mother's day I felt, yet again, that I was preaching to detention center in high school.

I HATE THAT FEELING. I'd rather preach to passionate lovers, or angry hatters, or cynical critics... but apathetic forced sleepers.... UGH.

I haven't felt it in a while. I felt it almost my entire first year here. I do not want to bore students with the gospel or Jesus. I don't want this to be my legacy: decades of talking to a wall. We were talking about the feeding of the 5000 and how God can do great things through us when they let him and well.... I think I could have been talking about the physics of printing press for all they seemed to care. I quit after church. Then I went to the wild animal park with my wife, kids, and the in-laws.

I re-hired myself Tuesday morning for one more week. But on one prayer, "Lord, please bring heaven here every day and help these students to see it and embrace it and bring it SOON!!! And no fair doing that 'soon' thing Jesus did. I mean.... 'soon' like when my wife wants me home in time to help with the kids. SOON!!!"


Saturday, May 12, 2007


Tonight a friend of mine said there were no comments available on my treehouse post. I thought, "that's kinda random." Sure enough... they were turned off for that one blog entry. Go figure. So- for whatever it's worth... I turned them back on for that entry. Not like I get a lot of comments, but it was quite the crazy building project and you at least deserve the chance to say something if you wanted to.

By way of an update... Mark has been adding cedar shingles to the side and the roof way up in the tree tops and I should be getting some lovely pictures of the "pseudo finished" project (it's a constant work in progress ya know) and the interior soon. I'll post them when they come.


Friday, May 11, 2007


Ever wonder why life seems harder than it should be? I do.

I talked with a friend whose divorce was finalized this week. We concurred: Life is hard. Marriage can be harder. Harder than it should be.

I had a drop-in counseling appointment with a mom of 4 in my office this week. All four kids have different fathers. She has a long list of medications and issues and fears and ..... She has a long list of regrets... dating all the way back to her own childhood. The longer she sat and cried and clenched her hands, the more I realized her life is hard. Harder than it should be.

Our church is in a weekend teaching series that is challenging every level of our being: spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, mental, relational, philosophical... etc. It's challenging us as a community and me in specific, to rethink again what I really think this thing we call life is all about. It's hard to think eternally. It's even harder to live eternally today. It's hard. Harder than it should be.

Some days as a father, life is hard. Some days I feel that way as a pastor. Some days I feel that way as a boss. Some days I feel that way as an athlete, a mentor, a neighbor, a husband, a home owner, a friend, a seminary student, a ... well a lot of roles. It's hard to be me without letting others down. It's just plain hard. Harder than it should be.

This week, while reading Hosea, I ran across this small poetic statement if chapter 4, verse 16:

The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the LORD pasture them like lambs in a meadow?

You know what that verse says to me? It says that God wants to feed us and provide for us and protect us like lambs in a meadow. But he can't.

You know why he can't? My own stubborn rebellious heart.

Know what that does? It makes life hard. Harder than it should be.

I wonder: How much of life's difficulty is not brought on by the desire of God, but instead is necessitated by the stubbornness of his children?

I wonder: How much longer Jesus will wait to return? Sometimes, when life is hard- Harder than it should be- I ask Jesus to come. Now. So life can become as it was intended to be and so he can feed us like he desires instead of as he must.... like lambs in a meadow.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I have a small dream list of vehicles I'd like to drive/operate. I've driven the following: both random and amazing...

  • several tractors
  • big bucket loader
  • a lot of buses
  • ... in mexico. (You have not really driven a bus if it did not include dodging potholes and breaking down a few times and parking in crazy spots and brake checks and such in a Mexico)
  • two different types of double decker buses
  • a harley or two
  • a BMW 735i for a week and then to my senior prom. I felt like a king.
  • Some kind of really fast jaguar. I had a friend who was lent it and he let me drive it. It was fast. It was a jag.
  • a 1965 Shelby GT 500 ford mustang (its loud, fast, and nostalgic)
  • A 2005 Dodge Viper (very fast. stops even faster.)
On my dream list:
  • a ferrari or a lotus... but in needs to have doors that open up, not out.
  • a nascar race car at one of those training camp things. I have a friend who just did this with Mario Andretti's school. That sounds like a rush.
  • a crane- maybe one where you get to drop a car at the end onto a big pile of other cars.
  • a semi-truck and trailer
  • anything in a country where I drive on the left side of the road
  • and the Ford GT40 that I snapped a pick of as it drove past my kids baseball practice. You can go here to find all it's stats. I've seen one 3x in here in San Diego. No idea if it's the same one, just always passes me up going the opposite direction so I never get more than 3 seconds to drool. I think if I was single. I might sell my house and live in this car.


Friday, May 04, 2007


I'm a part of a community of youth pastors that try and offer their help/mentoring, some practical ministry resources, and basic life experience to those who are looking for it. I've actually done this in a couple of different formats with a couple of different organizations over the years, but currently God has me teamed up with the folks in the land of PDYM.... or purpose driven youth ministry.

Anyway, I recently submitted an article for their website on the subject of Delight. You can read it here if ya like.

Bounce around the site and read other articles or check out the free resources there. Can save you some time and money cuz it's all free and no sense in reinventing the wheel if you don't have to. I recently stole a welcome visitors slide off of it to use in our weekend. Took like 30 seconds. Sweet.



My 35 year old fears are coming true. My body is rebelling for all the crap I put it through.

I finally bought my family dental insurance and today I went in to be screened. She said my "enamel is amazing", but


duh. who flosses? Flossing is like driving the speed limit. Everyone knows you're supposed to do it, but very few do. Well, the cops caught up with me and the dentist slapped me with a bill. I evidently now have a cavity on the side of my tooth- because I don't floss. How do I get cavities in the side of my teeth? I thought they came in on top. I've never had a cavity... and now I do because I didn't listen to my dentist staring over funky glasses and saying.. "you know, you really should floss." Yeah, ok... great.


So, now, not only am I going to floss every day (cuz she says I have 2 other potential cavities that she's waiting on and that I can rebuild if I floss and rinse with fluoride) or she says I'm gonna loose my really nice teeth.... but now I'm supposed to sleep with a mouth guard just in case an NFL linebacker decides he might want to tackle me in bed. Or maybe in case my wife gets ticked and decides to punch me. It will probably make me drool all night too or something and now I can wake up in a pool of spit. Oh joy.


Does that seem very smart when I'm already too dumb to floss?

Pretty soon I'll be wearing depends to bed.



Twice in the past week, I have have been quoted by former youth group attenders (like 5 years former). Once in an e-mail. Once on a blog. Both quoted the same phrase I use when talking to high school students about life decisions. I realize, sadly, that most... like 99% of what I say does not stick in the brains in my students for very long. Evidently however, this quote has:

"There are only two ways to learn things in life: the hard way or from someone who learned it the hard way."

I wonder if it stays with them consciously when they hear it or is more like seed that only starts to push through in your 20's when the trials of life start to water it again? Either way, it's an honor to be planting seeds- hopefully of wisdom- in the next generation.



Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer. I'm not sure who says so or if it's really sponsored by our nation in any official form, but it seemed ironic yesterday to me on many levels:

  • I have never heard of any faith group, other than Christians, who do anything on this day. Like do Jews or Buddhists or Muslims see this as a day to fast and pray for this land and our leaders and it's future more than any other day?
  • A few days ago, I turned on my TV before bed and found myself watching like 20 minutes of the Bachelor before I scratched my head and clicked it off. It leaves you with a profound sense of "what the..... ?" " And are you.... ?" You can't quite complete the question because you know you're too confused and narrow down the question to just one. It's supposed to be a "reality show", but the premise and the ideas and the values and the pretty much everything about it... are absolutely unreal and say the opposite of a nation that would also sponsor a prayer day. I know who ever produces the show probably does not see themselves as a prayer day participant. Which is why a "national day of prayer" as a bit of a misnomer for me. Maybe we should call it the "christian pray for politics day".
  • I think 9/11 was a better example of a national day of prayer than yesterday.
  • 27 people showed up in our church to pray in our sanctuary. 13 of them were paid employees. Hmmm.
  • I think the pagan king of Assyria did a better job of identifying what a "national day of prayer" looks like than we do:
Jonah 3:6-10 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:“By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007


For as long as I've known Mark, he's been telling me that he wanted to put a tree house (read guest room/office) in his tree in his front yard. For as long as I've known him, I wanted to join him in this crazy idea. Finally, this last Christmas, while Shannon and I were having breakfast with Mark and Kathleen in their home, it came up again.
  • I said, "I want to fly up for a weekend and help."
  • He said, "Name the date this spring and you're on. I'll buy your plane ticket."
  • I said, "Are you serious?"
  • He said, "Dead serious."
  • I said, "Carve it in stone. I'm on booking a flight."
Then, for almost 4 months, on my calendar have been three large words spanning 3 days in April: "BUILD TREE HOUSE".

And last Thursday, it happened. I cannot even begin to describe the level of excitement I had for this project. I think it was only surpassed by Mark's own. He's been dreaming this idea for like 40 years he says- since he was 4 years old. Ever since then, he's been reading books and drawing sketches and day dreaming of this project. He's been saving old redwood beams and such for 4 years. He's been talking and praying and staring every day at a giant black acacia tree in his front yard for 15+ years- all the while thinking, "I've got to put a house in this tree."

When I arrived on Thursday morning about 9am, I found 4 steel poles - 7 feet in the ground in concrete and standing some 24 feet off the street level. There were piles of lumber and old doors and windows and tools and rope and pulleys and a few random ladders leaning here and there and 3 other guys ready to help.

Mark gave me a hug and said, "It's good to see you brotha." I said, "You too. Let's do this."

12 hours later, day 1 was over and we stood on the ground looking up a crazy staircase leading to a 9 foot walkway to a deck... all surrounded by bare posts that would soon hold the hand rails for both the entrance to the house and it's side deck. 4 large ones would eventually become the corners of the building.

Day 2 began at 7am with breakfast. It ended at 9pm with a beer and a euphoric conversation, still mesmerized by the fact that the deck now had a 4 walls, a vaulted ceiling roof with double dormers, and almost all the hand rails... including an amazing copper pipe railing up the staircase that one of Mark's friends and co-workers, Jaime, had made. It was truly a sight to behold.

Day 3 began just as early, but due to a plane flight, would end around 5pm for me. But when it was all said and done- before I left- all the windows where installed (including 2 operable dormer windows, a bay window and 2 side sliders), the front french door was in, and the back double french doors leading onto the observation deck were completed. Final bolts were drilled and a skirt was added to the bottom. And believe it or not, none of it touched the tree, but instead just gracefully wrapped around it and rested on the almost ignored steel beams below. All that was left was some trim and for the cedar shingles to be added as siding and on the roof. It was and is a pretty awesome sight.

I'll make you wait no further. Here's a before and after pic, somewhat sheltered from view by the tree itself.

Here's a progress collage.

Here's my lifes 2 big life lessons/learnings as a result of this grand project. I could write a book on it really... but for the sake of your time... I'll limit it to two lessons:


Hands down, my favorite parts of this project happened on 3 occasions.
  • The first was the successful installment of a HUGE 4x10- 20 foot long beam right up and through the saddle of the tree like 30 minutes into the build. It must have weighed 500 pounds and when it went up and into the slots prepared for it, like we knew what we were doing and with great ease, it was a huge rush. I screamed "YES. THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT." I knew this project was going to be a rush.
  • Second occasion was later that day: 2 workers had left, the sun had already set and all that remained was a few final rays of light and 4 of us pondering a 20 foot 2x12 staircase that was built but still needed to be installed. We couldn't leave it on the ground. It felt too much like defeat. 2 ropes. 2 pulleys. 4 guys pulling with all their might. Some crazy ideas. And eventually, the tug of a tractor... we finally got it into place. It gave me my second opportunity to yell, "YES. THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT."
  • Third was the end of day 2, staring up at the tree and realizing that just a few days ago, it was empty and now, was very clearly.... a house built for a tree. It was amazing. Especially since I know that mentally... 2 or 3 times in the weeks before, the project was almost called off due to fear of the risk and the impossibility this project had looming all around it. To see it have a form was beyond words.

  • I love building people.
  • I love building dreams and visions.
  • I love building stuff with my hands and wood.
  • This project inhabited all three of those things. It was for a great friend and brother in Christ. It was ALL about a dream and a vision. It involved my hands and wood. I think it was heaven. I absolutely loved it. In fact, I loved it so much I felt guilty that maybe I shouldn't love it this much. It was pure, 100 %, uninhibited fun-filled joy. It was my sweet spot- literally what I would do every day in one form or another if I could. Every swing of the hammer. Every lift of the board. Every decision. Every problem to solve. Every conversation. Every ounce of sweat poured was worth it. I LOVED THIS PROJECT.



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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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