Sunday, September 30, 2007


We prayed that our house would be a place kids feel welcome. As I type, after 4 doorbell rings, there are:

11 kids.
5 bikes
3 scooters.
and 2 dogs (yep, even the neighbor dog came to play)

in our house, on the trampoline, in the yard, and eating my food.

thank you Jesus.

I think.



I was inspired by this post to share a list of questions that I have acquired/created over the years to ask myself when teaching. I don't get to all of them-all the time. I don't always have an answer to all of them in every message, but I try to at least consider them and wrestle with them. I've tried to internalize this list so it becomes part of how I teach, but it's good to go over the list and edit/add to it with new learnings. So I re-read it and added my most recent learnings.. After my seminar at YS on the big picture, I'll post some learnings on how I plan messages and such.

For those of you who teach out there, here's my current list of questions/learnings:

Dealing with the text:

  • What is the historical context? Does my theme fit the theme of that context?
  • What is the author talking about? What is he saying about it?
  • What problems do I have? What doesn’t make sense to me?
  • Which did I do: a) bend my thoughts to Scripture or b) bend scripture to support my thoughts?
  • Have I crawled into that context and asked, “What was this like? How would I feel? What was I thinking?”
  • Have I prepared the listener for the text before it is read? Use scripture to open the eyes not confuse the reader. Allow them to discover it themselves and say “ah ha”, not “huh?”
  • Have I given the listener enough (history, language, other texts, etc.) so that they can check my interpretation themselves?

Structure of the message:
  • Who cares? So what? Have I grabbed the attention of my listener? Why should they bother to listen? Is there an element of mystery, confusion, or curiosity developed so that they lean in to listen?
  • Title should: capture attention, be clear, be positive, let it relate to everyday life.
  • Can I state in one sentence the essence of my message? (my subject + my solution)
  • Are my main points my application points? Do they have a verb?
  • Have I trimmed my outline to give not all of what I know, but all of what is needed?
  • Have I used my file/library resources well?
  • Have I legitimized the listener’s doubts/unbelief? Will people buy it?
  • Do my points make sense? Is there a logical flow of thought? Why these points in this order?
  • Can it be said simpler? Keep the cookies on the lower shelf. Be clear and concise!
  • Have I presented the gospel? Did I make a beeline for the cross?

Application of the truths:
  • Have I been genuine and authentic sharing failures/successes in me?
  • Have I clearly gone beyond illustration into application? Have I applied it to more than one demographic group?
  • Can it be communicated visually? Do I have an object or picture I can use?
  • Have I made application to not just Christians but seekers/unbelievers too?
  • Where do I see this in today’s world? How does it fit with current issues/headlines of today’s listener? Is this culturally relevant today?
  • How does this fit into the bigger picture of the kingdom of God?
  • How does this message meet the needs of our church/youth ministry?
  • What would happen to our church if all the listeners actually applied theses truths to their lives? To our nation? To our world?
  • Did I give them the first few steps but not the last few. Leave some mystery and questions in there. “the problem with most communicators is that when they’re done, it’s over.”- Rob Bell

Personal Presentation:
  • Smile, let them know it’s a blessing they are there.
  • Don’t preach. Don’t teach. DO COMMUNICATE- be genuine and real
  • Don’t push. Do lead
  • Say it once. Restate it. Move on
  • Talk to the hurting. They’re always there.
  • Use voice inflection and pauses on purpose.

When teaching a Narrative in Story Form OR creating a drama:
  • Who am I?
  • Who is the audience?
  • How will I begin- once upon a time, I’ll never forget the day, etc.
  • What provides tension: Who is the antagonist. What is the “but then, one day moment?”
  • Ending: Did they live happily ever after… is it to be continued?… what?
  • Can you smell it?
  • Can you taste it?
  • Can you hear it?
  • Can you see it?
  • Can you feel it?



Just got this to help with this presentation so I don't have to stand there clicking my computer by myself, the problem I've run into the last 3 presentations I've given. It also controls itunes (so I'm going to use it to control my playlist in youth group too), idvd, quicktime, powerpoint, and about a million other things. SWEET!!!



I tried to watch the office this year. Everyone in the world I think watches it. I don't watch much TV, so I even DVR'd the first episode and thought, dude, this is going to be great. I picked a time when I was ready for a solid 22 minutes of vegging. I thought, "I'm going to get cooler. I finally will be in on the jokes and can laugh with my friends and feel like I am funny." Problem is:

  1. I tried, but I don't think the office is funny. I just sit there, trying to laugh but only smiling in hope that soon, I'll bust a gut.
  2. I feel like I'm at a party where I'm the only one in the room who doesn't like the beverage everyone else is drinking.
  3. Since like 5 billion people do think it's funny, I must not be that funny.
  4. I still don't think the office is that funny.
  5. I think I'm the only person my world who doesn't think the office is funny.
not funny Brian out.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


...encourage your soul and be #4 on the itunes album chart list. Be the Remedy!!!


... be the number seven download on i-tunes on the same day as the above and be very cool sounding, but be Godless in it's lyrical content. If you work with students, they know this song, like this song, dance to this song, and will turn this song up on the radio. In fact, when I visited a girl in the hospital, it was on the TV in the bed next door today. The groove is that cool. The lyrics are not as bad as almost anything by 50 cent, but they're godless for sure. See for yourself.

The music video makes me think they might think they are being satirical. I asked my high school men's group what they think a few weeks ago. They are split a little. Some say it is, some say it's not. I think it's cuz some really like the band. I do too. However, I think, it's too cool and too vague to be truly satire.

here.. see the video for yourself.

what do you think... can music as satire work if it's this vague? Is it satire?



Here's a study of those ages 16-29 by the Barna group that most could predict the results of- but worth the read regardless.

Here's the quote that worried me the most:

Yet, the research shows that millions of young outsiders have significant experience with Christians and Christian churches. The typical young outsider says they have five friends who are Christians; more than four out of five have attended a Christian church for a period of at least six months in the past; and half have previously considered becoming a Christian.

Sometimes I think that we should spend 5% of our time trying to bring people into the Christian faith and 95% of our time trying to help those who enter it, understand and own it. I think they might stay longer than 6 months before they head for the door. I'm deeply concerned about lasting impact these days. I don't want to be a stopping place for high school students on their journey to disenfranchisement with those who claim to follow Jesus.

Here's the quote that surprised me.

The book (Unchristian, by David Kinnaman) also includes exclusive perspective from 30 Christian leaders, including Mark Batterson, Chuck Colson, Louie Giglio, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Kevin Palau, John Stott, and Rick Warren. Kinnaman described their contribution as an effort "to make sense of the complex and challenging project - both why the problems exist as well as what Christians ought to do in response to the information. We looked for the biblical space in order to respond to the sharpest criticism. Beyond simply reporting the problems that we discovered among a skeptical generation, my partner Gabe Lyons and I want the book to help Christians find a way forward, to read positive examples and find hope that their life can provide a clearer picture of Jesus to skeptical people around them.

Check out that list of contributors to this book. I might buy it for that reason alone. Should be a smorgasbord of opinions.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I started Seminary again tonight. I'm in a christian ethics class from 7:15 -10 pm for the next 10 weeks. I tried really hard to enter class today looking forward to it. I tried to decide that I'd make the most of it. I tried to decide that I'd go ready to learn and listen and have a good time. Here's what I was reminded of in class tonight:

  • Seminary is serious business. We don't laugh. Smiling is allowed during breaks.
  • Seminary is about big words. The bigger the words, the smarter you are. (there's probably a big word for this too. I'm just too stupid to know what it is)
  • Seminary is about listening, not conversing.
  • Seminary is about surfing the web on your computer while acting like you're taking notes. Really, this happens every week. My mac won't get the web in this place, otherwise I might have to confess my sin of distraction here too.
  • Seminary is a place where I put my big foot in my big mouth. I had to apologize after class for laughing at the professor's use of a german word to clarify a students lack of understanding of a bigger word. I thought it was kinda funny. Bad idea. Mostly because I let an air of sarcasm slip out of my big stupid mouth. That and the fact that seminary is a serious serious place proved I was not funny at all. UGH. I think I'll just sit there this quarter and take notes and mind my own $1200 worth of business. I was already thinking this, but after today I decided it's pretty much a must do decision. I'm supposed to be talking in Big Church this weekend about Moses and "Dealing with difficult people." Instead, I'm going to change the title to: "Dealing with Brian Berry". I hope my professor comes and I hope my "alternative better self" is listening.
  • Seminary is set to be home for me once a week for the next 5+ years of my life. I better get this thing figured out soon. Year 3 for me is starting a little rough.



Here's an e-mail I got from Shannon today. Enjoy:

Tuesday mornings I volunteer in TJ and Jake's classrooms. Thursday I'm in Tyler's.
This morning during my time in Jake's Kindergarten room, it was library time. The librarian had all the kids sit down and showed them the cover of the story she would read to them- "Jamberry". She went on to ask the students to tell her some different kinds of berries. The kids said strawberries, blueberries, etc. Jake raises his hand and is called on. He says, "Jake Berry. That's me!" The grin on his face went ear to ear!!! The librarian threw her head back and laughed and proceeded to call him 'JakeBerry' the rest of the time we were there. I have no doubt that she will know Jake Berry's name his entire career at RSD!

I turned bright red and had to work really hard to stifle my own laughter!! This one is for the books-so glad I got to see it for my own eyes!! :)


Monday, September 24, 2007


Not sure how I found myself on this post. A link to a link to a link or something. But from what I can figure, this image war below is months old.

But if you're like me and are late to the party too- here's a set of pictures that someone made taking a stab at "motivational posters" for the emergent church and such. They are satirical but feel a bit on the offense to me. But, I like this one- it made me laugh.

Here's a set that are in contrast to them. They are very good. They seem more sincere to me. I like them better. Probably because I'm not a big satire fan. This one is my favorite.

Here's the website you can make your own with in case you're late to the party and want to dance anyway. Very cool website widget.



Activism is a big deal these days in Christian circles. Especially the post modern or emerging ones. I hear lots of ranting about taking care of the poor. I hear lots of noise about war. I hear lots of talk on taking care of the planet. I'm a fan of the conversation and I'm trying to take healthy steps in all 3 of those areas.

But I have not heard of anyone suggesting we should boycott products made in places that do huge injustice to people based solely on their proclamation of faith. I recently started reading this blog for the purposes of opening my eyes and praying more intentionally for those who are persecuted.

This post
made me ask, "Why do we buy I buy so much stuff made in china?" I've never been much of a protest guy, but maybe I should think before I purchase based on this fact alone.

Either way, I prayed for Pastor Zhang today. I wish there was more I could do. Maybe there is.



Truth be told, I don't really enjoy doing weddings or funerals. The time, energy, effort, and money involved never make up for the time, energy, and cost to my family. I just don't have Saturdays or weekends or evenings to burn to do them. It's not my passion.

However, when it's someone I know, then I love doing them. I didn't love doing my father-in-law's funeral when I was 25. But I did love being able to serve our family and his memory in that role. I've done a few weddings or funerals as a favor in the past. I've regretted it in the end- often saying no to my family for little in return and believing that any number of other pastors or ministers could have done just what I did and found more joy in it. In the end, they're hard for me and I feel like the guy in the suit who prays and talks and stuff.

The ones that I never regret doing are the ones where I know the people involved.

In the case of a wedding, the ones I will drive/ fly/ and volunteer my time for are the ones that I know I'm not there to perform a wedding, instead I'm there to begin a marriage. I LOVE DOING THOSE. I love serving a couple who I know and love in this day of their life. So fun.

This last Saturday I had the privilege and honor of doing that for some former students of mine: Max and Monica.

In case you missed it, and perhaps know them. Here's the part of the ceremony where I shared some memories and my thoughts with them. Weddings and funerals are the only things I script when teaching. I usually just teach from an outline. But for a wedding, I really want to pray and think over every word as much as possible- so much is on the line. (It also allows me to give them the text to read in the future as my gift to them, because most couples hardly hear or remember a word I said due to the pressure and anticipation of the rest of their day, first night, and the honeymoon that all lie just ahead)

So here's my script in the part of the ceremony I titled in my notes: MY FRIENDSHIP HISTORY WITH MAX AND MONICA:

Max and Monica our friendship goes way back into your days as high school students in Powerhouse where I had the privilege of playing the role of youth pastor and friend. It goes back into water ski trips and summer camps and Mexico trips and countless Wednesday night conversations. You have been in my house and spent time with my kids and at my dinner table and even helped us do projects in our new house a few years ago when we moved to El Cajon. We hadn’t been in it two weeks and you were already there helping us paint and move and get set up both in our house and at the church. Your friendship is very dear to Shannon and I.

Monica, it was on one of those water ski trips where you decided to make following Jesus your life devotion. You made a commitment that day that you have proven truly devoted to. I have seen it in the way you smile, the way you mentored young girls in Powerhouse, the way you speak and the way you live. It is all so clearly evident that you are a woman on a mission to love others into God’s Kingdom.

Max, while bonding with you in a high school men’s retreat in the snow in Tahoe, you chose to give your life over to Jesus. You too have proven good on that step of faith. While at college at Davis you wrestled with what does it look like to love and serve God around a group of men in AGO- a brotherhood that is also near and dear to my heart as you know. You examined your life and faith and chose to fall farther and farther in love with your Creator. I see it and hear it in your blog posts. I remember the time you came back as a college student and told your testimony to a group of guys standing around a fire on the shores of Shasta and the impact it had on them. I remember baptizing you on my last snow ski trip in the parking lot in the frigid air with a 5 gallon bucket of water where you said, “I want everyone to know I’m serious about following Jesus with all my life.” You’ve even chosen to do so as your fulltime vocation- serving students in Benicia. I’m honored to call you my friend and now- a colleague.

Shannon and I have loved watching the two of you become the young adults you are who passionately love and serve God. It is truly an honor to be in the bloodline of the work of God in you. I cannot think of anywhere else I’d rather be than witnessing this kind of union downstream of student ministries. You are the evidence of the greatest joy I have in ministry. Seeing students grow up to love and serve God for themselves.

I am beyond honored to be here. I’m truly humbled at what I see in you both.

Max and Monica. Three cheers for you and I pray blessings on your ministry, marriage, family, and years ahead. THANK YOU for inviting me to join you in this amazing day in your life. What a great memory this day will be for me, as I know it is for you.



If you do, then here are 3 people who do not, sharing a view from the pulpit and the pew on the subject.

and here

I don't agree with all their conclusions. I do have my opinion. But rather than make my list, I'd love instead to see a post like this from Taffy or Crowder or Redman.

Not that a blog post is inappropriate from someone who does not lead music, but I wonder how well preachers and seminary professors would respond to a post from "music pastors" on the essence of a good sermon or teaching advice.

... and if you're leading worship and looking for that kinda stuff from someone in the worship music mode- you might try registering for this site for free from Chris Tomlin. Looks like it might hold some good practical, theological, and been-there-done-that help.


Sunday, September 23, 2007


This is an interesting read on how to blog well. I like a lot of what this post says. I doubt I'd make the list of regular reads of seminary professors, but I thought there were some good nuggets here on good blogging and some stuff I hope is true of me.



This last week I was with some other pastors from around the country. It's a group of men and women who are trying to do student ministries and help all types of middle school and high school students find their way to love and follow Jesus. It's called the pdym community and during one meeting, they announced that we would now be having an online conversation through blogger where others could read and interact with our learnings.

Today I posted my first "article or post". Bounce over there and take a read. Add it to the spots you visit on the web. I think it's worth your time, especially if you're one of the youth pastor/leader types who read this blog.


Thursday, September 20, 2007


I'm so pumped about this series we are starting in high school this weekend. I really wish I was teaching all of it. I have good reasons to be gone which I'm excited about too (I'm doing a wedding for some former students in Nor Cal this weekend and then I teach in main service next weekend.) .... but I still love this series idea. It is about our core values or purposes. It's called, "... and I meant it." Here's the breakdown.
  • Week one: "I said I'm living for an audience of One... and I meant it."
  • Week two: "I said I love you.... and I meant it."
  • Week three: "I said my lost friends matter to God... and I meant it."
  • Week four: "I said I want to be like Jesus... and I meant it."
  • Week five: "I said it's better to give than receive... and I meant it."
We have a a different student or group of students telling their personal story in video format each week. They were dreamed up/nominated by our student production team and Daniel (a sweet video guru at church) is putting them together.

I made a new semi-permanent wall with one of our volunteers behind the stage that our students painted this week with the logo. It looks awesome!!! I think it looks inspiring. I'll post pictures later. I can't wait to teach in this series and I'm really praying it inspires and challenges our students in HUGE ways.



Last summer I was in the heart of the "OC" with some students from our high school program for a leadership conference. There was a day when all the groups were sent out to various service projects around the city with little-to-no-warning or plan. All they gave us was a sheet of paper with a proposal to see what we could do to help in a per-determined area of need. Some groups collected money from strangers, others distributed sandwiches to the homeless, while our group was given the task of gathering food items for the needy.

We decided to park our crew in front of a Ralph's grocery store in a fairly nice part of town. We asked the manager for permission, set up some tables and made some signs at both doors, and then started collecting food. All in all we had like 300 items and something like another $200 in cash donated in a several hour project in the afternoon.

After our food collection time was up, we went over to the Golden Spoon to get some frozen yogurt and while there, these 3 girls walk in dressed to the nine. They pulled up in like a mercedes SUV and were dressed identically. Each had spent a lot of money and time on themselves and all had like some kind of cheetah/leopard print thing going on. When I asked what they were dressed up for, they said they were going to their friends MTV Super Sweet Sixteen birthday party. Which if you've ever seen the show, is like the most ridiculously over the top, comparison game of a birthday party for a spoiled rotten kid in the entire world.

Then today, I was reading ypulse (a great teen culture trends sight) and found an article about this kid who is turning sixteen. By the looks of his personal website, he's not too financially hurting. He's also heading to the House of Blues in downtown Hollywood to host a personal birthday party with a $5 or $10 cover charge- all going to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition which provides aid and services to the over 90,000 people who are homeless in the area.

Interesting. I wonder if MTV will cover this? I hope he'll be having a sweet 16 birthday. Only thing that would make it better would be if after the party, everyone went out into the community and spoke to, and loved on, and encouraged those without homes. Maybe dropped by the shelters and then handed a check to the LAHSC personally that night. I think it'd also be cool to walk the streets before hand and find some sober and hard on their luck homeless who really need a leg up on life and invite them to come and forget their worries at the party too. How sweet would that be. The high school elite of LA mingling with the homeless, all trying to better the community. That, I think, would be something Jesus would do.

3 cheers for youth who value serving others when most people say they serve themselves.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


There is an interesting article online from Leadership Journal/Christianity Today with some interesting conclusions in the world of pastors and pay.

here's an excerpt:

Our annual compilation of ministry salaries is out, and this year’s tally produced a few surprises:
• If you want to make more money, switch denominations.
• Female solo pastors make more.
• The extra degree is worth the money.
here's the whole thing if you want to read it.

Guess if I want to live at the top of the paid pastor pool I should stay in seminary, join the presbytery, and get a sex change.


Sunday, September 16, 2007


The last two summers, I have gone to the PDYM Student Leadership Conference with 3 high school guys, 3 high school girls, and our weekend programmer for High School, Sarah Merk.

Both years we have driven a sweet motor home that has been donated by a family in our church. It's tons of fun and is pretty tricked out. We use it as like a mobile office/meeting space of sorts while there and do lots of planning for our school year. We stay an extra day and use it to apply some of the ideas and plan out school year events and teaching. This process, or something like it is how I've planned my school year teaching and such for high school for the majority of my 13 years in student ministry. I'm actually teaching a seminar in about a month or so at Youth Specialties on the process I go through every year to develop an overall big picture plan for our high school ministry.

Anyway, this year we decided to start off our school year with a series called ONLY YOU. We just finished it today.
  • WEEK ONE: Only you can be you- Psalm 139.
  • WEEK TWO: Only you can take a risk- Peter/Jesus walking on the water.
  • WEEK THREE: Only you can do your part- 1 Corinthians 12
  • WEEK FOUR: Only you can control your attitude- Philippians 2
This turned out to be a great start to our school year, but one of the best things about this series was the set design and the level of involvement/enthusiasm in generated. We really wanted students to participate with it and to feel like they were a part of something bigger than themselves. We ended up stealing an idea from the PDYM leadership conference that Sarti designs dreamed up. But we didn't have the space they had or the money to use full canvas pieces and the paint they used would take more time than we had to dry, so we made a giant jigsaw puzzle instead. Here's how:

  1. Bought a template to make a custom jigsaw puzzle off istockphoto.
  2. Imported the template into Adobe Illustrator and made an 8 foot square design with about 160 pieces in it- minus a hole in the middle for our series logo.
  3. We then counted the number of each puzzle piece we needed and printed them on 11 x17 cardstock.
  4. Cut all 160ish pieces out of cardstock with lots of high school help.
  5. We then printed a master copy of the design to scale on an overhead.
  6. I made an 8 foot square backdrop out of plywood and covered it with soundboard so it would be soft enough for students to use a push pin to eventually place their puzzle pieces onto.
  7. We then painted the backdrop white and projected the image from the overhead onto it. We then outlined where all 160 pieces would go and painted a master puzzle outline with black paint. Kinda like a kids puzzle with the impressions of where the pieces go on it- but huge. This results in a puzzle outline on the stage without any actual pieces in it- if that makes sense.
  8. Then, on week one, we taught on student's uniqueness and gave them 10 minutes in service during my message to make a puzzle piece that represented themselves.
  9. Lastly, during our worship set, we encouraged students to put their own pieces on the stage during the songs using push pins in a slot that fit their piece. Much to our surprise, the first weeekend, over a hundred students actually filled one out.
Here's the pics of the end result and some of the students. Today we let them take their piece home as a reminder of the things that are true of ONLY YOU. I really hope these lessons last- I think the messages were so needed as we look to get a lot of students involved in our ministry and serving this year.


Saturday, September 15, 2007


About 3 weeks ago we had all those who wanted to be in student leadership over to our house for a BBQ. It amounted to about 30 students. We talked vision and purpose and why we do what we do and asked our students to write a one word description of what they wanted our youth group to feel like or embody or be. They wrote them on sticky notes and then stuck them on a big piece of paper we had hung up.

I asked one of the admin assistants in our office to type them up for me. Tomorrow is our next training time and we're going to talk over these words they listed. How cool would it be if our youth ministry was this:

  • A HOME
  • COOL
  • DEEP
  • FUN
  • JOY
  • LOUD
  • NICE
  • OPEN
  • RAD
  • REAL
  • SAFE
  • WHOA

MY FAVORITE IS: Leaves you wanting more. I think that is what I pray God does every week. Leaves a student hungry for more of God. More friendships that matter. More life change. More fun. More chances to serve. More conversations. More thoughts. More. I pray our students find a longing for God in and through this ministry. I pray they find and yearn for MORE.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007


In my mind, communion is for contemplating and baptism is for celebrating. And this year, I had reason to do both: think and party. I've been contemplating this day for quite some time. The day when one of my sons would choose to follow Jesus personally and obey the call for baptism. Last Sunday those contemplations turned to celebrations.

TJ asked me this summer if he could get baptized. He'd decided a while back to be a follower of Jesus. But now he wanted to put some specific sacramental action steps to it. So we prayed about it and read and talked through some Scripture and made sure he understood what he was doing and that he truly owned this decision. Then we decided to celebrate it together.

So on Sunday both sets of grandparents arrived with us to San Diego Bay to join our church for a baptism party/ceremony/celebration.

It was one of those days when I tried to burn the image in my brain. I tried to pray really intentionally. I tried to love more deeply and soak it all in that day- fully aware that what I was doing was a once in a lifetime experience. Baptizing TJ was one of the greatest joys of fatherhood to date. Now I'm praying for a triple repeat performance with Tyler and Jake.

Here's the photo (thanks for taking some pics Jim!) in case you were not there to eye witness it:


Monday, September 10, 2007


While in Medford, my parents treated their children, inherited spouses, and 6 grand children to a jet boat tour of the rogue river. It was tons of fun and well worth doing if you're ever in the area. The company we went with, Hellgate, makes their own boats custom style and works with fish and wildlife to keep the river healthy, flowing, and environmentally solid- so that's cool.

Here's the photos I've been promising my family for like a month and change. Thanks mom and dad and Brad and Alisha and well.... thanks everybody. Good memories all around.


Sunday, September 09, 2007


My brother-in-law Brad and I hiked Mt. McLoughlin's trail when I was in Oregon this summer. These pictures and my next 2 or so posts are long overdue. Brad has been heckling me for them. It was good times. We did it in just over 4 hours of hiking. About 11 miles round trip and like 5000 feet of elevation change. It was hard work, but rewarding. The views and experience at the Summit always make the work worth it.


Saturday, September 08, 2007


I got the following e-mail of pictures forwarded onto me from a well intentioned member of our church. I think they meant to encourage me. Instead it highly annoyed me. It's just plain bad theology.

History lesson #1 on the comic strip like thing to follow: The image of laying down a cross over a gap of sin comes from the infamous 4 spiritual laws tract booklet which has been used all around the world. The booklet more or less says that once someone confesses their sins and invites Jesus into their life and accepts his blood as penalty for their sin, then a cross laid down across the gap (or bottomless chasm) created by sin is walkable from us to God. In the picture. God is on one side. We are on the other. And evidently the cross bridges the sin gap.

History lesson #2. At one point, the Bible records Jesus telling a crowd and the 12 disciples, after he just rebuked Peter for claiming that Jesus does not have to suffer or die, that this is not true and in fact one must "take up the cross, deny themselves, and follow Jesus" if they too are to live as Jesus does. This is recorded in all 3 synoptic gospels: Matt 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23.

Bad Theology Merger Below: In the following pictures, what evidently is supposed to be cute and convicting... is just a bad merging of the above two ideas. It claims that if you sweat and endure pain and carry a big enough load on earth, then your sacrifice or cross you bear for God will be big enough to get you over the gaps of sin. However, this means my redemption is about my work, not about the work of Jesus. And this is true heresy. Hebrews 9:27-28 is one verse that comes to mind. I believe that my salvation is not a one-and-done prayer type deal. However I don't think that means I earn it or my inability to carry less of a load means I'm somehow not going to make it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 comes to mind here. And I really really really really HATE the comparison image of others doing enough to get them across while one guy who didn't work as hard is gonna be left with a cross to bear that was too small. This is bunk. Here's a post that quotes Scot McKnight pretty much says the same thing in his new book, "A community called atonement". It's not about us or others, it's all about Jesus!!



No, I did not sprint my neighborhood in the buff.

However, last wed at small groups, I had the following true conversation between a high school student who comes to our small groups and attends occasionally on the weekend, but I haven't seen much this summer.

Me: Hey, good to see you. How's it going?
Him: Not great. I got suspended.
Me: Really. What for?
Him: Streaking.
Me: Um, do you mean like you got naked and ran across your school? (fully expecting him to say no)
Him: Yeah.
Me: Really, like at lunch?
Him: No, like at the football game just over here (points towards a campus near our church).
Me: By yourself?
Him: No, me and a buddy decided it would be funny. He chickened out and stayed in his boxers.
Me: But you went full on naked. Free as a bird.
Him: Yeah.
Me: How did you get caught?
Him: The narks were chasing us and he got away. I jumped the first fence and made it over the second when I dropped my clothes. Then it was pretty much over.
Me: So what did your parents say?
Him: Oh they were pissed. I got restricted for like 2 months.
Me: So what are your friends saying?
Him: I don't know, I haven't been to school since. It was really stupid. I would never do that again.

Well, there ya have it. The reason we evidently still need youth ministry. Though... I must say, I wasn't sure whether to laugh at the kid, give him a high five, or tell him he was a complete knucklehead.

Laugh at the kid: like from a movie set, I picture this kid running buck naked across the field and I still think it's stupid, but I can't help but laugh at the silliness of the thought of watching his skinny white butt run across a football field. This is one of those times when as a parent, I'm sure you must go laugh privately once you're done restricting the daylights out of your kid.

High five: This skinny white kid has enough self confidence and security to streak naked in front of his entire peer group. In a world where kids don't even dress down for PE anymore and where women are forced to believe that their body image is what matters most, in a twisted sort of way, there's something really healthy about this kids confidence. He evidently has no fear of what others think of him. (there's a million things I could be saying here by way of a pun that I'm intentionally omitting too. Please refrain from puns, snide remarks, and insinuations if you choose to comment on this. )

Knucklehead: I'm not thinking this idea was sparked by the Holy Spirit. So since we can't chalk it up as Godliness, it must fall under the category as he rightfully admits now, as stupidity.

A personal Confession: I once streaked naked for 5 bucks from my cousins to get the newspaper in their front yard in junior high, but it wasn't in front of 1000 people. And yes, once I got the paper and returned to the front door, it was of course, locked leaving me naked on the porch for like 5 minutes before being freed out of fear of the consequences when their mother drove up the driveway and they let me back in.

Confession #2. College dorm room experiences ruined any fear of being seen nude in me. I was walked in on while dressing, going to the bathroom, or taking a shower too many times to count. Nakedness is not a personal fear anymore.

Confession #3. My most embarrassing moment was when I was in college and my college roommate dropped my shorts to the floor in front of two girls who had come by for some homework they needed. I was getting ready for bed so I was wearing my shorts only. And, when he was done pulling them to the floor in one fell swoop, I was buck naked in front of them. They left laughing and embarrassed themselves. Needless to say, I didn't streak the campus, but I did go for a run to think about what just happened.

Confession #4. When in high school, after having gone out to dinner with my dad and mom and my girlfriend, we went back to my house. My dad was opening the door with the key when I dropped his drawers. Um, yeah. He didn't think that was funny either.

No more confessions....


Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Last week I got a call from 2 former students telling me they were going to be in town and asked if we could get together. Well, I took that as a sign from God to barbeque on Labor Day. I said, "Sound the alarm and we'll have an old school Powerhouse (my old youth group) reunion."

So I called a few who called a few who called a few and eventually, my back yard was filled with no fewer than a dozen former students. 3 of which were former interns. One is married. Two have answered a call into full time vocational youth ministry. All are still striving to love Jesus as young adults with their own unique gifts, personalities, and passions. What a sweet time this was.

There are days when I feel like an utter failure as a youth pastor. Every once in a while, some long term fruit is sweet. Especially when you get bombarded with "studies" that show how many students evidently blow off any time/energy you pour into them and dump Jesus like a bad habit. Evidently youth ministry is broken. These dozen are a sucker punch to the gut of that idea. Maybe they're the minority. But they're out there.

Thank you for loving Jesus and for loving me and my family! All of you.



Well, 5 years ago my wife redefined labor day and had a baby who is not so much the baby anymore. Jake started Kindergarten, is playing soccer, and reach the fabulous new height of 41" plus. Look out roller coasters here we come.

We celebrated these new developments by taking he and his brothers and Shannon's sister Caitlin to Sea World. There were several learnings this time around:
  1. It's great to sit in the Soak Zone when it's 100+ outside. Crazy hot and you dry crazy fast.

  2. Jake can grow 2" really fast. Too fast. Time flies. Too fast.

  3. Um, sea world "fun card" passes do not work on the sunday of labor day and memorial day weekend. Do not confuse this with being no good on the actual labor day or memorial day. Not that we figured that out the hard way, but if we would have come on Sunday night per se on Jake's real birthday.... well we would have found out we would have to come back on Monday instead. Go figure.

  4. Someone somewhere dreamed up a place where people would swim with killer whales and train them to work with people on a team. This is amazing to me, and for some strange reason, causes me to cry every time. I think it's the vision thing. Maybe it's the tribute to soldiers they do every time that sets me up to cry. But when I see this vision of someone realized in such a radical fashion, it always makes me want to see God do the amazing in my life. I know- it's sappy. It's just true. The stuff they do at this place with animals is mind boggling.

  5. I love nice landscaping. I've said this before. I'm weird like this. I'd go to sea world to look at the gardens. This time, I actually thought to myself: "I think I would enjoy working on the grounds crew here." I'm a dork.

  6. I am blessed. Very very very very very very... yeah pretty much very blessed.



Well, my wife got a bug in her side over the past few weeks that said we needed to redo the downstairs bathroom. So, we did most of it on Saturday and finished the final touches on Sunday night.

It's a half bath and we had no time or money to redo the whole thing, so instead we changed the light, the faucet, the door and hardware, the paint, and a few accessories. I also have a volunteer in my high school program who has a brother-in-law that owns a molding shop and they gave me crown for the ceiling, new trim for my door, and the mouldings for the mirror- all free I tell you!!! Anyway, we used some of it to turn an existing wall mirror into a mirror that looks like we paid hundreds of dollars to have it framed and custom cut. Really it's just the old mirror with a frame slapped on it- my wife's idea.

Looks pretty good I must say- especially for a place you and your guests are supposed to crap in.

Here's the before (as we saw it with the previous owners) and after:



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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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