Thursday, August 30, 2007


Surprise, Surprise... but today I got this e-mail:

Congratulations, the iStockphoto administrators have determined that your images are commercially and technically ready for Please begin uploading at your convenience.
So now I am officially a provider for I have been brewing on doing this for some time now, and with several people saying, something like, "you should sell your photos". So, I decided to give it a whirl. So last week, I took 3 of my photos and uploaded them onto an application to be a provider for a professional graphics site that I buy pics off for ministry slides a lot. Maybe my photos will be on a billboard someday. How cool is that?

Here's the 3 pics I applied with in low quality dpi.... no stealing now ya know :).


Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Not sure what has caused my usually family picture oriented blog to go so deeply theological lately... but I find myself thinking a lot based on a lot of stuff racking around in my brain.

I think evangelicalism- for lack of a better term- is in a funk these days. It seems like with the threat of subjective truth floating around, people are so scared of the unknown, or that it might threaten their establishment, that we spend a lot of time fortifying what we believe and why.

Maybe that's what I'm doing. I don't know.

But this post and this post both seem to express two sides of a Jesus loving coin. Maybe they know one another. Maybe they don't. But both authors love Jesus. Both, I'm confident to say, are loving and serving the same Jesus and have been redeemed by the same Savior's blood. One questions if being hated is evidence of the gospel. (side note: I once read an article about Billy Graham in the 90's and how the author didn't think Billy really was a believer because he was liked by too many non-christians). The other sees it as a badge of honor and a responsibility to express so as not to be unclear about the gospel.

I hope heaven is happier and more peaceful than the church. I sure hope there is not a baptist or charismatic or episcopalian or seeker sensitive or yatta yatta sectors. Won't that be a relief. Sadly, I guess either Jesus will come back or we have to die before we'll experience it.

In the meantime, the more I read of the Bible and the more I read of God-fearing, God-loving people disagreeing on similiar issues (both modern day and ancient), the more convinced I am that there are few and fewer hills I'll really really die on. Yes the Bible is very clear in spots. Other places, are great to converse over... just really lousy places to build a fort.

I'm not claiming either post I linked to does one thing or the other.... I just think they make me think... and they probably are both right and wrong.

That's the story of my life I think.



Lately kids have been kicking my butt.

TJ has 40 pages left in book 3 of the Harry Potter series. Dude reads me under the table.

I've also been reading this book:

While reading this morning Peterson recalls going to Israel to a synaogogue to watch and listen as children read the Torah early in the morning. He says it was actually children pretending to read, because they had all 5 books of the Torah memorized. Genesis through Deuteronomy. I've read before that this was a tradition of the first century jews.... but I just didn't realize it still continued on. I've been trying for weeks to memorize Psalm 1. Today... I was told by a child in another country through the pages of an American Author to get my butt in gear.

These kids these days are taking me to school. I gotta get a move on.



Last April I passed up my 13th year as a youth pastor. I've blogged here several times about my feelings of inadequacy and insignificance.... which is a voice I have to beat down a lot to keep from quiting on a bad weekend. I have a friend who recently posted this article on the subject. I guess it goes with the territory. Though I must admit, it had been a while since a student said to me the kinds of things in the notes given to him.

Today I got this e-mail. I removed the name, but other than that- here it is:

Dear Pastor Berry

It has been more than 10 years since the last time I saw you in Fremont and you probably do not remember me since it's been so long. I wanted to take this time to thank you for being a great godly influence in my life the last year of high school and for making sure that I would be plugged into a great church/community when I went to college. I wanted to apologize for basically being an arrogant, ignorant, I think I know everything high schooler who didn't know when to keep my mouth shut. Looking back I was a complete idiot and when I left for college I said some things that were uncalled for and hurtful. This has been on my mind on and off for the last decade and today at work my mind wandered off to the days of youth group and so I felt compelled to write you to ask for your forgiveness.

I am happily married to a wonderful God-fearing woman. We currently live in Sacramento and are expecting twins next spring. I an indebted to your presence in my life during my spiritual infancy for helping me to be the man I am today. You worked very hard as our youth pastor hosting early morning prayer, coordinating trips, and so on. I hope you can forgive me. Take care.

I remember the student. I don't remember the stuff he said that he recalls as hurtful. Guess I must have gotten over it. But needless to say, it was an easy request for forgiveness to grant.

To all those who serve in student ministries... be encouraged. God is working. Sometimes we never hear about it. And sometimes it evidently just takes a decade or so before you hear about the fruit.


Monday, August 27, 2007


I think I've told all 12 of you that read this blog that I also follow or skim several other blogs from friends and ministry professionals and such. I have no idea how I ran across this one... but I read it occasionally.

I read it cuz he's someone I might enjoy a cup of coffee with, but I think we would end up on opposite sides of the street on several issues. It makes me think sometimes. Sometimes it makes me rethink. Sometimes it makes me even more confident as to why he and I would disagree. Sometimes it just makes me jealous of his job description: Stay at home Dad and teaching pastor at his church!!!

Anyway- the blogging world I read can easily be a discussion of all those who simply agree with everything I think... and I'm trying to be intentional about not doing that.

But this post about pragmatism (placing value on what works over anything else) seems cliche to me. It seems to smell of those who think if you have a video or lights or whatever, then you somehow have bowed to the culture of all things pagan. It's the stone everyone likes to throw at any growing church that happens to have a light board. It's the "well they must be shallow, lame, and nothing but an entertaining dog and pony show". It seems to very narrowly define what is spiritual or what tools God can or can't use to accomplish a divine purpose. I agree with points 6 and 7... but it seems that there's a lot of accusations or assumptions in the other points.

Then however.... as I kept reading, this post speaks of how his church has a staff member who is in charge of lighting. Oh.. and it's his best friend who is leaving to go work at the epicenter of all things pragmatic tied to the spiritual (willow creek community church).

Then while I wrote this post today, he rants about a divided church that is a movement of the anti-christ and then he starts naming names of those he doesn't like and evidently why they won't be in heaven but are worthy of throwing stones at them... which seems to be divisive to me all over again.

This kind of stuff makes me go Hmmmmm? God doesn't seem to like our boxes so much.



If you're up for a good post to get you thinking.... read this post by Scot McKnight. If you have 3 days... you can read all like 100 "comments" it generated. Wow.... guess that's a hot topic.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Those who do youth ministry are rare. Owners of the vision of youth ministry are even harder to find. Those who own it as their own life calling are an endangered species.

Last night I had the privilege of taking Sarah Merk- my partner in crime in high school- and 7 key students who all graduated this last year and truly, truly, truly owned our ministry out for a thank you dinner at BJ's. It was fun to see then as they head off to college and see them making decisions to stay involved in ministry both locally and across the state. They are the "owners" that keep me going some days. Now I pray that their big shoes get filled fast.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Last Sunday for Jakes 5 year old birthday- we went to see the stage show called GO DIEGO GO. Jakes birthday isn't until Sept 2nd, but the show was only in town for 2 days and he wants a "diego" themed party, so we went. No photos allowed inside, but here's a couple from outside.


Monday, August 20, 2007


Today I had a conversation with an old ministry friend who was telling me about his family going to Brazil on a missions project to work with the over 1 million kids who live on the streets of Brazil. That number staggered me. Less than 1% have a father figure anywhere in their lives. UGH.

I relayed this story to him from a previous post about how amazed I was at how far $100 can go in another spot on this spinning ball of dirt.

We then talked about how many people live on less than $2 a day. This article says it's 3 billion people- 50% of the population of the world. We talked about how both of us are richer than Solomon was... or at least live nicer than he did. Running water, electricity, fresh food in a fridge.... yatta yatta. We were amazed and saddened by our own prosperity.

I told him it was WRONG that the world is this lopsided. It's NOT RIGHT. It is ridiculous. I'm doing small things like buying fair trade coffee, helping the needy in my community when I can, and sponsoring a world vision child, etc. But it doesn't seem like it's enough. It's never enough.

Then tonight I came home after 3 1/2 hours of soccer practices with my boys and sat down to dinner in front of what remained in a pre-season game for the NFL. (Solomon never did that!) They interviewed a defensive player named Freeney who on his "off season" landed the NFL's most lucrative contract for a defensive player in history. The dude makes 72 million in 6 years. I did the math. That's $32,876 and change per day. Or if he plays all 16 games and a few post season things... maybe make it 20 games total and he does it for 6 years straight... then it's 600,000 per game- To play sports... which generates billions of dollars worth of profit across the board in ONE country on the planet.

That means that if this guy gave away his salary for one month of his "off season" (which is really like 7+ months long) when he does nothing anyway, he could pay the way for over 500,000 people on the planet to eat and work for a day. That's $%@#$%@$#^@#. (I can't type what I really said. There are rules about that kind of language you know).

And I'm tempted to think that the problems of the world lie on that guys shoulders. But they don't. They are not his responsibility before they are mine. No matter how much ridiculous money the guy makes. Dumb money. I mean he really could wipe with it if he wanted, he's that rich.

Sadly, if I look just 15 miles south of where I live. I'm that rich comparatively too.



TJ turned ten while we were on vacation this year and he asked if we could re-do his room. So he and I sat down with the drawing board and dreamed up some stuff in late June/early July. Then we got started....

  • We decided to get rid of his old closet. So we ripped it out along with an old a/c unit that someone had installed in the wall.
  • Then we fixed the holes we just made, moved the ceiling fan, fixed the electrical and added some new sockets, put in new trim on the windows and doors, added some crown, and painted the place to match his surf themed bed spread.
  • Then we built in a loft for a bed/hang out space that would fill into the old closet space.
  • We then re-made a new closet for under the loft, added a bookshelf, and a new desk for under the loft.
  • Then the other side of the room got fitted with a new small couch from ikea and a surfboard shelf from an old board we cut up.
  • Then, finally, after weeks of a day here and a day there, on Saturday I put in the window shade and declared...... It is finished!!!!
Here ya go.... wanna be 10 again? I do.



Well, today officially marks a new season in the Berry Tribe.


Today was the first day of school for Jake who is going to all day Kindergarten and he will be following his brothers every day to school this year. This is also the first and ONLY year when all three of our kids will be at the same school for all day in their entire school career.

Next year TJ goes to Middle School.... so I'll be trying to take every minute of it in as getting kids to and from where they need to be will get a little more complicated from here out. Man..... time flies.

Also, Shannon is now for the first time in 10 years, free to substitute teach, meet with friends for coffee, run errands, do chores... whatever she wants for an entire day. This is both exciting and sad for her as today marks the first day in over a decade where she hasn't had some little boy by her side needing her full time assistance. Man.... time flies.


Saturday, August 18, 2007


I read blogs in a program called bloglines. It lets me read them faster and I only have to visit the actual site if I want to comment or if I want to see a video they posted. Some are friends. Some are ministry related. Some are just cuz they make me think. Some blogs I skim. Some I read word for word. Most I do a combination there of.

Anyway tonight... I was reading Scot's blog when he said he was 52% addicted to blogging. He posts a set of links to other stuff on the web once a week on all kinds of subjects. This time, he had 2 posts linked I'd already read from friends/colleagues of mine (which made me feel important in a stupid sort of way), a bunch of others I skimmed, and then one on blog addiction.

Now, Scot must read WAY more blogs than I do. Plus, according to Marko.... Scot is somewhere next to Jesus in the number of people who subscribe to his blog and view it on the web and whatnot. I did my own study tonight and according to bloglines alone... this blog I'm typing right now has 9 readers who have subscribed to my blog. (and if I knew who they were, I guess I could just list them all off rather fast). Scot has like 600+. That requires like a phone book of names.

There's a million reasons why such a difference in readership.... not the least of which is that, Scot blogs several times a day and I blog several times a week- if I'm lucky. I sometimes even feel like I've committed some social ill if I don't blog more often... but I just beat that voice down cuz I simply don't have (1) the time or (2) much worth saying- and my 9 subscribers don't seem to be bothered much by it anyway.

So, I'm thinking, if I take this stupid test, I might end up like 25% addicted.

Not so fast....

62%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

I think either Scot cheated and let his pet bird slam on the keys at random or this test is a farce.


Thursday, August 16, 2007


While preparing for a message on foolishness/wisdom for our middle school program today, I ran across this prayer from Proverbs:

"Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, a“Who is the LORD?”or lest I be poor and steal band profane the name of my God." Proverbs 30:8-9

I thought how unAmerican. I've never lived anywhere else... so maybe it's so "unhuman" but regardless- I think it's unAmerican to pray for less or that God would give you just what you need and nothing more. It's also unAmerican to fear the influence of materialism or even poverty on one's faith as a possible negative.

I'll never forget watching a group of women in Mexico crying with our girls after a week of ministry with them years ago. I thought they were crying because we were leaving. But, upon further investigation, I discovered the Mexican women were actually crying because they feared for these girls going back to what they perceived as the "land of materialistic distractions". Maybe we are in greater danger than those in poverty of leaving God.

Last night Shannon and I had some money to spend... 2 VERY RARE THINGS IN OUR WORLD:

  1. A wed night where I had NO commitments so we went out on a date.
  2. We had "money to spend" at Costco and gift cards for a Cheesecake Factor dinner afterwards.
I have a "business" card for Costco which means we pay a little more annually to get in at 10am (an hour early) and because it gives me a "percentage kick back" of what we spend here (mostly for church) as a gift certificate at the end of the year. I had 2 certificates- one of which was going to expire in about 10 days- so we decided to go spend them. They totaled $165. We never get to go through Costco and ask- what do you want to spend it on?

  • I bought a dvd set, socks, coffee beans, and some cereal.
  • Shannon bought a shirt for herself and a CD for the boys, and some Bear Naked trail mix.
We had like 20 bucks left over. But.. in the process... I felt a little weird. I had money to spend however I wanted... and as I browsed the store I discovered that they sell a watch for $19,000!!!!!!!!!!!! Um... I can't imagine being wealthy enough to spend almost 20G on a watch. (by the way- they don't make those in America- the world has "richer" taste in some places than we do- Americans didn't invent Ferrari, Mercedes, or BMW either. Maybe this is a human condition issue.)

Anyway.... I wonder if that's not the fear of Proverbs 30 lived out. I dunno. But it makes me scratch my head and wonder what this world is all about.



For mother's day this last year, my mother's day gift to my bride was a family photo op. We decided it was time for the beach scene. We did some in balboa park a couple of years ago- so we decided we needed sand and waves.

This is the one we chose from the set. I like to call it the "pretending to be the perfect family".... cuz we don't look or act this happy and loving all the time... but it's a good target to aim for I guess. It took forever to get a digital copy from my photographer- copyright concerns and such... but after I needed a copy for my teaching this last weekend, he hooked me up.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007


TJ turned 10 (the end of last month) and with it, his grandma bought him all 7 hardback copies of the Harry Potter series. Tonight, he came down to kiss me goodnight and told me he finished book 1- almost 1 week to the day since he got home from our camping trip and started reading it.

I better get crackin'.... my kid is kickin' my reading butt big time.



I spent most of today reflecting on learnings from the past few years and planning for the future- both personally and professionally. I still feel like I could use another day or two to finalize some things and I know I'll have to revisit these decisions every week to keep them going... but I at least got the ball rolling I believe.

One of the things I did was go over some notes from previous leadership summits. In so doing, I ran across this quote from Jack Groppel at the '05 summit.

"If you experience something that moves or motivates or challenges you… you have 3 days to put some action to it, or you’ll likely have done nothing at all a year later."

Um... so I have good news and bad news:

GOOD NEWS: I started to do something with this years teaching and I'm putting action to it within the 3 day window.

BAD NEWS: It took me 2 years of doing virtually nothing with a lot of stuff to figure out Jack was right. I suck!


Saturday, August 11, 2007


For about the 6th or 7th time now, I've had the privilege of attending the Leadership Summit from Willow Creek. I've never been to it live, I always watch it a few hours later on some kind of time delay satellite feed at some church somewhere. Once in San Jose, several times in Walnut Creek, and now 3 times here at Journey where we host it.

Each time I go, I try and summarize my learnings from each of the presenters or "faculty members" as they call them, in a sentence. This year, I'm also taking Tuesday to review and re-think and stew on what I heard. I'm going to turn off my cell, my e-mail, and the world and lock myself in a room to think and pray about what God might have for me. In particular, I'll be thinking over these one or two sentence learnings:

  • Session #1. Bill Hybels: founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church

Ownership of a vision is more important than the creation of a vision: As a result, good leaders spend significant time and energy involving others in the vision development process rather than simply declaring it from on high and unilaterally hoping for agreement.

  • Session #2. A live stage interview with Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP...

"Logic taught me the power of the right question. I have discovered that, knowing the answer is less important than asking the right question.”

  • Session #3. Floyd A. Flake: pastor, former congressman, business man, college president...

(This man was impossible for me to follow. He spoke very fast. Never paused. I couldn't follow his line of thinking. It was all over the place. Honestly, I learned more about his leadership by watching how he interacted with others in his intro video than I did from his actual words on stage. As I reflected on how this communicator got on such a world class stage, I discovered a truth I've seen proven in many an influential leader through the years)

A leader's public communication skills can be trumped by their interpersonal ones and still result in great success. However, if a leader's interpersonal skills are poor, no amount of public speaking can overcome them and they are destined to be a mess.

  • Session #4. Marcus Buckingham: world renown author, consultant, and strengths communicator
3 one liners worth stewing on:

Build on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses.

Move the best of your job until it is most of your job.

Good leaders can talk about strengths without boasting, and weaknesses without whining.

  • Session #5. Michael E. Porter: Harvard Business School Prof and a well recongized authority on strategic planning.
When working with a social need (poverty, aids, education, homelessness, etc), don't see yourself as someone providing a service, instead see yourself as someone trying to add value to another's life. This will force us to evaluate our results based on it's influence and aid on the recipient of the service, not on the execution of the service itself.

  • Session #6. Colin Powell: leadership genius... man I wish I could have coffee with once a month.... really bad.
Only people get things done. Mission statements don’t. Policies don’t. Only people do. So, take 1/3 of a given time period as a leader to devise a plan. Then spend 2/3 of the time allowing those who you expect to help do the task to interact with the plan so they can be own and discover a plan for their role in it.

  • Session #7. John Ortberg: Author, master of words, senior pastor of Menlo Park Community Church in CA.
A leader's greatest fear should be the pursuit of a "Shadow Mission." The distraction of the devil to devote their time and resources to that which is second best or even flat out evil. Consequently, every good leader must name their "shadow mission" and take specific and regular steps to keep it from consuming their life by it's natural pull it has on them.

  • Session #8. Richard Curtis: British Comedy Writer, Philanthropist dedicated to seeing poverty literally become a thing of history
As a youth pastor, looking over the sea of students who have come through our doors and either in high school, or in the years to follow, eventually walked away from Jesus, I identified with this statement more than I wished I did. I too feel like my energy is going to waste more times than not...

"The most depressing thing for me as a comedy film writer is a movie rental store. They are all over the place and filled with thousands of dead films. I don’t want to produce just another one of those."

  • Session #9. Jimmy Carter: Humble man of God, 39th President of the United States, Sunday School teacher of small 35 person church in Plains, Ga. where he and his family have owned land since 1835.
Accommodate changing times while clinging to unchanging principles . Those were and are the passions of Jesus Christ.

  • Session #10. Bill Hybels
Staying motivated or inspired in my job is my job, and no one elses.

Hybels mentioned 10 ways he stays motivated. 3 I held on to as critical for me these days:

  1. Spend time with and around friends who truly inspire me to live and lead well.

  2. Spend time paying attention to my own spiritual and physical needs of rest, excercise, eating, reading, and prayer.

  3. Spend time escaping in a non-work related hobby that re-fuels my spirit.



Last night at 6:43 pm... while waiting for the Friday service to start, which I was set to preach at, I discovered- much to my horror.... that all my recent Trinity Camping and Oregon pictures had been deleted by accident by me yesterday when clearing my computer desk top. I've kept the in a folder there as I worked on them. BIG MISTAKE!!!! UGH!!!

I tried as best I could to put my head back in the game and actually preach last night, while internally totally distracted and reeling in despair. I had to do some repenting actually cuz I realized I put a lot of value- perhaps too much value- in the joy I get from pictures. I mean, I could lose it all one day in a fire or something. That would suck... made me really evaluate where I put my peace... and I didn't like the answer- cuz I find a lot of the time it's in my stuff.

Anyway... I did my teaching and then went home and tried to figure out if it was all lost beyond repair. I figured out that I still had all my originals from Oregon on my camera- so for that part, only the hours I've already spent sorting and editing them was lost.

For the trinity shots... most of my originals were gone. I recovered about 90% of them I think off my hard drive with an emergency purchase of this software. I use this company's software to back up my hard drive too, but hadn't done so since I got back from camping. Thank the Lord for people who have my back and for whoever created recovery software. I owe you huge.

Anyway..... I spent most the night unable to sleep, trying to figure out what I really lost... turns out most of what I lost was my time. Which if I had to choose between my time and the photos themselves, I guess I'd pick my time. All the pictures now have to be resorted and organized. I lost all the photoshop collage masters of this trip however, but I still have the jpegs from them. As near as I can figure, I think I only lost one collage completely... but I have the stuff to rebuild it I think.

Here's one I reclaimed like at 4 am. Guess the rest of my trip will take a little longer to collage now. Maybe next week.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Today Tyler got rushed off to the dentist at 9am for the horror of big needles and 2 cavities filled. Yuck. When it was over, he was NOT happy.

This however... is how Tyler looks when he is genuinely HAPPY!!!! I love it when high school kids laugh in my ministry. I love it when my own 3 kids do. I think laughter is a personal value of mine. I need to do it more. However, ironically... I cried several times when looking at my pictures of my kids this vacation. They are very happy. I wish I could make them this happy every day.

Thanks Will, Tom, Cass, and Zach for towing them all over Trinity lake to bring true joy to their world. As always... you can give the picture a click if ya want to really see a big smile fill your screen!!


Tuesday, August 07, 2007


While camping, one of my favorite things to do is to get in a little hiking. One short mile long hike that we as a family do every few years is to a place called Cherry Flats. It's a brief walk up a fire road/trail to a place right off the road in a cold snow melt fed creek. The boys all jumped the 10 or 12 feet off the rock into the swimming hole this year. Even the dog went for a swim. I took a grip of pictures. Here's some of them jumping, hiking, and even a few photos of our friends the Raby's. I personally think I could make some money off the photo of Cassidy kissing her nephew.


Monday, August 06, 2007


Well, the blog silence was due to a much needed vacation with my wife and kids. We left on Wednesday, July 25th and headed for the Sacramento area. We had dinner with some old friends, the Mullikins, in Roseville and then spent the night there. The next morning we got up and headed Northwest towards the Trinity Alps were we spent the week with the Raby clan on Trinity lake camping and enjoying good friendships, boating, hiking, playing, and celebrating TJ's 10 year-old birthday. It was soooo much fun for us and our kids.

Then on Thursday, August 2nd we headed 3 hours North to Medford, Orgegon to meet my parents and visit my sister and brother-in-law and their 3 boys. We hung out, celebrated TJ's 10 year-old and my nephew Grayson's 3 year-old birthday together as a family, played a lot, went on a a jet boat tour of the Rogue river, and Brad and I hiked Mt. McLaughlin. It definitely qualified as worth the drive. Then after hanging out for an action packed 2 1/2 days, we power drove home on Sunday, August 4th from Medford, straight on through to San Diego.... 14 hours total- virtually all of them on I-5.

I have lots of pictures to share, but to get things started, here's a pic of our ride all loaded up. 1726 miles and 12 days later, we're home and full speed ahead with "normal life".



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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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