Thursday, January 24, 2008


Here's part of a text message exchange I've had with a student as of late:

Student: lets have a group nite at in n out sometime.

Me: Um. Ok. Not sure that they really want or that we could do a bible study there but maybe we could eat there.

Student: Ok. How about a challenge- more burgers wins.

Me: I saw a kid eat an 8x8 once.

Student: ya so what if u r scared. U can't beat me I understand.

A few days later...

Student: So, there's group tonight right?

Me: Yes, 6:30.

Student: ok. great. I'm taking a crap at school right now.

later that day...

Student: Hey, there's a great book called a Christian Manifesto by Francis A Schaeffer. U need to read it.

Me: Did you read it?

Student: I'm on chapter 4. I really like it. I'm in class right now and my teachers don't pay attention. Ok.. you should read it. See you at church tonight.

Me: great. see you then.

right before group that night....

Student: Hey my parents r drunk or a little buzzed so I can't get a ride. See you wednesday.

Me: Ok. When do you get your license yo?

Student: wen I study the papers I have.

Me: you should get on that.

A few days later:

Student: We have group tonight rite?

Me: We have a worship night. 7 to 8:30pm

Student: K, I'll be be there.

Later that night:

Student: sorry I could not make it tonight.

Me: No big deal. you were missed. Is everything OK?

Student: kinda. I have to return a saw to home depot. I need to pay for it.

Me: I'm confused, did you steal it?

Student: Yes, I stole the saw last sunday after church. I was at my friends house last weekend and we have always wanted to make a treehouse so on Sunday we went after church.

Me: Dude. We we need to talk on Sunday.

Student: Ok, on sunday can we talk about how God could help me stay away from porn.

QUESTION: is youth ministry still needed?

ANSWER: um... this exchange references drunk parents, classic christian reading by Francis Schaeffer, the bible, stealing, and porn. No wonder he's confused. I also took a student to grab some ice cream after school last week and we discussed the pitfalls of drug dealing, and what God would have us do with $10,000 in cash piled up from such an activity.

CONCLUSION: Either my youth ministry isn't working or discipleship sure is a long, slow, process.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I just saw this post on marko's blog and I clicked this link and watched the trailer for an upcoming movie called Expelled. Wow. I'm hooked.

In college I was the president of an organization called "truth seekers" for about a few years. We brought philosophical and theological debates from the foremost thinkers in their respective arenas to UC. Davis. We hosted debates on creation/evolution, the foundation of morality, and the existence of God with speakers of high reputation and writings on both sides of the coin. I don't really love the debate format, but college students a Universities do, so it made for some interesting experiences in a format that often packed the largest rooms on campus to overflowing. This movie trailer brought back some memories and made me want to rush to the theatres. Very interesting. I'll be watching in the spring of this year with my old UC. Davis alumni jersey on just for old times.



I've been wrestling with some questions as of late:

1. How can I care for creation, while ensuring that I do it as an act of worship of the Creator and not the created?

2. Is it really evil to live in a suburban house or drive an SUV? These two things have become the symbolic epicenters of the image of all things godless and evil among some Christian writers/bloggers I've been reading lately. Are they right or wrong and why do I agree or disagree with them?

3. Is there ever such a thing as "over-populating the earth"? Or is overpopulation actually really about sin and selfishness more than resource management?

4. How many of our planet's resources are actually being used up for the sole purpose of keeping human beings from stealing what is not theirs? I wonder how many more products are being made to replace ones that are stolen or destroyed? I wonder how many trees have died and how many millions of tons of plastics have been created to keep people from stealing the product? Isn't this the reason my son's 2" toy must come in a 12" box or the reason my digital camera SD card must come in a box 500 times it's volume. Maybe part of it is marketing, but how much? I think the sin of stealing causes a huge percentage of the earth's resources to be unnecessarily used up. I wonder if all stealing stopped, how it would change our world economy and the planet as a whole?

5. If we were living perfectly in harmony with the earth, do we really believe that means the earth stops changing? Any run of the mill geologist would tell us that volcanoes are still building new mountains, while erosion of snow and rain is destroying others. Continents are shifting, climates are changing,and life is in a constant state of change. Most scientists even believe we at one point had an "ice age" and that one could even return in the future. Some changes I can influence. Some I'm merely at the mercy of the earth and God on. So if that's the case, perhaps the real question is how can I live in harmony with the earth, the Creator, and it's changes without being a catalyst to unnecessary planet change or harm due negligence on my part?

still thinking.....


Friday, January 18, 2008


Meet Geofrey Kakooza.  

No we didn't adopt another son.  Well, I take that back.  We sorta adopted one.   

Our last family that we sponsored with World Vision moved to a region that World Vision does not have resources in, so we had to discontinue our support of him.  In the process, World Vision sent me a letter explaining the situation and told me they'd select another child for me at random unless they heard from me or I had a specific request.  Well, the honest truth is that I was feeling like a bit of a loser in my ability to communicate with my boys about our sponsor child in Zambia.  I'd leave the helps that World Vision would send in a pile and then forget to talk it over with my boys before the due dates for christmas cards and easter calendars and stuff.   We sent our monthly money, but we didn't do a very good job with the day-to-day prayer and regular pen pal stuff I think we could have done better with.  Part of that was because of the hap-hazard nature of our berry bonding nights to remind me and part was just me.  But either way, I really needed a fresh start, but never felt like that was a real option.

So, this time, I was hoping for a situation that would lend a little more accountability and motivation to do just that.  So, since my sister and brother-in-law and their 3 boys are moving to Uganda for 2 years and since we are going to visit there this summer as a family, I asked World Vision if they could get us a sponsor child in Uganda, within driving distance of Kampala.   

Well today, Geofrey Kakooza arrived.  Born April 14, 2002, just 5 1/2 months older than Jake.  He lives with his grandmother and 2 brothers- meaning he is from a family of 3 boys too. Over the coming months we're going to make he and his family a weekly part of Berry bonding and a daily part of our family prayer life and I'm super excited that there's a good chance we'll be able to work with World Vision for my boys to put a person with this face.  It will be so good for them to get a global view of faith and love and poverty and hunger and culture and blessings and so much more at a young age. How awesome would that be for us to know a kid in Uganda who needs our support and to even build a face-to-face friendship with a kid half a planet away.  That's a sweet idea and one of the rare blessings of living in our day and age of mail and airplanes.

Welcome to the family Geofrey.  I pray we bless you as much as I know it will bless my boys to know you.  


Thursday, January 17, 2008


We had some family photos taken over Christmas. Since my sister and brother in law and their family are headed for Uganda this summer and since it's so rare for us to get all of us, our 6 boys, and my parents together, we decided to take the chance to get some professional photos done.

Well the pictures came today. The shot above is- due to living hundreds of miles from one another- a very rare pic of the whole family. (Shhhhh. don't tell anyone. but one of the heads in this picture has been swapped out with the head from another picture. Oh the beauty of the digital age.)


Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Started working out again. The holidays and last years school schedule put it on a hault.

Trying to live a balanced, healthy life. Sometimes I suck at that. I'm trying to get better. Read more. Play more. Rest more. Excercise more. I'm sure that if I'm going to do all of that more something has to be done less too, not sure what that is yet. But I'm sure something is getting the axe soon.

Anyway, as I sit here working on seminary project #1 for this quarter, I sneezed and it hurts bad. I worked my abs the other day and right now they are pissed at me.

No more sneezing or laughing. Right now, both hurt.



Today I got 3 more books to add to my mounting stack of fatherhood reading in my venture to help my boys transition into young men in the coming years.

I picked up 2 by believers and one recommended secular read:

Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph

Better Dads, Stronger Sons by Rick Johnson

King Me by Steve Farrar

I'm about a third of the way through my first read. Once I get each book done, I post my learnings on each one and then compile a grand poobah conclusion when I'm done. If you're the praying type, I'd covet your prayers in this journey I'm on.



Last night was Berry Bonding. We decided to do dinner and then take the boys to see the latest Veggie Tales movie.

We went to a monday night showing at 7:05pm and welp, we had the whole place to ourselves. All to ourselves. My kids danced during the songs. We laughed loud. We moved around. If we'd had popcorn, I think I woulda started a food fight. I probably should have made a cell phone call, but I didn't think of it till now. Who needs a home theatre system when I can rent one bigger than my house for under $50.

As for the movie... I'm not much of a movie critic. I laughed and it was nice to be with my kids, who liked it. It was kinda scary in spots and jake sat on my lap, occasionally pulling my arms around him. There is a random appearance from man eating cheese curls which surely was the snack in the brainstorm room when at 2 am they tried to finish the script and decided to toss them into the mix. Totally random.

I was happy to see that Phil Vischer had lots of influence in it after all the Big Idea corporate takeover funk I heard about in him telling his story at the YS convention. I hope it makes him smile. Though I'm sure my family's private showing of his movie on opening week probably doesn't.


Thursday, January 10, 2008


Called my seminary and got a $3 fee dropped.

Called U-haul to complain about renting me a car dolly with 8 lbs of pressure in the tires when they required 50 lbs and the dumb thing only has 2 tires and some wires. Seems like they could get that right and I should not have had to work so hard to make something useable I paid to use. 4 days and 4 people later, they finally gave me a 50% refund. $120 worth.

Called ebags to ask for a $10 credit. I asked because the same day my new backpack arrived from them, visa sent me a promotion saying that if I bought a bag from ebags in January, that they'd give me $10 off. Since I paid with Visa already, I figured it was worth a try to get a refund. Well, the lady told me she'd have to research it since I used google checkout to buy the bag. Today I got an e-mail saying I win and they're giving me $10 back.

Woo hoo. $133 back in grocery bucket.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Thank God for grandma's who love ice cream.



I don't do those online surveys everyone sends around. But for some stupid reason I keep entering myself in those contests where you could win a grip of money if you answer a bunch of questions and enter some secret pin number on a website that is listed at the bottom of almost all store receipts these days.

Tonight, instead of sleeping, I entered my name in 3 surveys from sales receipts:

$10,000 at Best Buy
$1,000 at Starbucks
$5,000 at Target

I've almost got the buttons memorized I swear. I also wonder if anyone actually ever wins these dumb survey prize thingys. I'm not holding my breath that I will. I'm guessing I should go to sleep and not stay up waiting for my phone to ring with my prize money.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Just watched another episode of Planet Reality with my kids that we had not seen before they went to bed. I love that DVD set.  This episode was on caves.  There's a cave on the island of Borneo- the largest cave in the world- which has 3 million bats in it.  Every night for they all leave the cave in swarms-so many that it takes over 2 hours for them to exit.

In the process, I found out that several things eat bats.  I didn't know anything ate bats.  But evidently there are snakes that cling to the walls and catch bats as they fly and peregrine falcons that hunt bats in the air.   Owls do too evidently.   Go figure.

What's weirder than birds eating bats?  The fact that the ground in the cave is alive with millions and millions of cockroaches that feed on a mountain, 100 meters high, of bat dung. Oh now that makes cave exploration in Borneo officially something I'm not interested in.   That makes Indiana Jones' snake floor seem like something I'd rather walk through.  

Makes my back twinge just letting the image play through my memory. 



Per my previous post on Berry Bonding, I'm also acutely aware of the impending boyhood to manhood transition that is fast coming upon me. TJ is 10 1/2 and enters middle school next year. I have the infamous birds-and-the-bees father/son sexuality talk to consider. I feel fairly prepared for that talk. What I'm not so sure I'm prepared for is any kind of rite of passage or milestone marker to help my young boys clearly step up and into young manhood as they enter puberty and then beyond. I'm not sure what kind of men weekends I should be planning with them. What kind of conversations I want to have for sure or even a fine tuned list of 4 or 5 critical character traits I think they each must embrace if God is going to stick for them or they are actually going to become real men. I know they'll be anatomically men one day. However, I'm not at all sure the culture I'm raising my boys in can help me or them be much more than that though.

I have declared war on this as a youth pastor and have done a lot in my recent years to try and get teenage boys to step up and be young God-fearing men. I do not want to be a youth pastor with a legacy of raising up teens who have no spiritual backbone. I want them to be men of integrity, protectors, providers, lovers of God, responsible, respectful, filled with healthy habits, self aware, and passionate, respectful, faithful lovers of the women they may marry.... all of that and some more. It's a monumental task I often feel alone in against the culture and many absentee fathers.

But I have not, as of yet, had to ponder much how this will affect my own boys who are still very entrenched in legos and nerf guns. One day soon they'll discover girls, want to conquer the world, and need to take up the risk factor in their life. I don't want them to feel like they can't journey with God, or with their Dad, in that process. I really really really want to navigate it intentionally with them.

So, the next 3 months are a fatherhood/boyhood-to-manhood intense reading time for me.

Here's my reading list I'm hoping to take some notes on and compile a plan as to how to navigate these personally uncharted waters from some who have been there and done that. I'm sure I won't agree with all they have to say, but I'm hoping all of it will help me know what I want to do and don't want to do with my house full of boys....

You Have What it Takes, by John Eldredge.

The Dangergous Book for Boys

Passed through the Fire, by Rick Bundschuh

Raising a Modern Day Knight, by Robert Lewis

Bringing up Boys, by James Dobson

Any other recommended reads?


Monday, January 07, 2008


A long time ago we started family devotions with TJ that we called "Berry Bonding". It was a silly name we came up with for our family to have some intentional spiritual conversation- on a kid level. It has aways been after dinner with a brief bible story, dessert, and some kind of project or craft. It sometimes had a memory verse and sometimes didn't. Initially, we tried to do it weekly. It would work for a season, and then we'd end up with some conflict and have to put it off to a different night or take a break during summer or whatever.

Well, last night we started 2008 with out new series of Berry Bonding on Monday nights. For this quarter of school, we're going to be going through a Bible I've given the older boys to read along with their homework everyday. It's the One Minute Bible for Students and it has various readings from scripture and a brief thought; all of which amounts to one page per day. I'm hoping it will help my boys to be in the Word and asking questions about what they don't understand and stuff. It goes roughly along with the pattern of scripture from Genesis to Revelation and this week it's been filled with readings and reflections on Genesis 1 and the creation narrative.

So last night we picked up trash that the wind had blown the night before into the empty lot next door to us. Then we built lego creations- whatever we wanted. We talked about what we made and what cool things it could do and how proud we were of what we made. We then talked about how it hurts us when someone destroys it.

We read Genesis 1:1 and talked about how God created all of us and the world around us and how important it is to take care of our bodies and the planet and not destroy it. As cheesy as all of this may sound, my boys, at least for now really love this time in our world and often ask, "Is tonight Berry Bonding?" with some excitement in their tone.

But I know the window of their enthusiasm for this is natural as a kid and very unnatural as a pre-teen and teen and so I'm trying to really maximize this treasured time while we still can. Hopefully we can figure out how to keep it consistent later if we get enough of a running start in the coming year.


Sunday, January 06, 2008


It's been cold and raining in San Diego for a few days now. Pretty much been doing it all over California actually. So people have their rain and winter gear out. But in sunny San Diego, the terms winter and rain gear are laughable to most of the country who know what real winter looks like.

The California fashion trend that kills me is one I see pretty often, usually when getting coffee for some reason. It's some gal who is wearing a sweater and these trendy furry brown boots called UGGs.... and mini jean skirt. Tons of young women in our community can't decide if they want to be warm or show off their furry boot clad legs. I know that most body heat is supposed to be lost through your head and neck, but this seems to be taking that truth a little far.

I think I'm going to get some UGGs and so I can take out the trash in my boxers this winter. Bet I'll be warm as can be.



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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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