Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Our family is loosing teeth like crazy.

  • Monkey #1 lost another one late last week. He has four gone.
  • Monkey #2 lost another last night and is missing almost the whole upper front deck.
  • Monkey #3 decided not to be left out and entered the land of the toothless lost his first tonight after shower time. His first question was, "Dad, will you take my picture?"
The tooth fairy is going broke visiting our house.



I wrote an article for Simply Youth Ministry last week. I didn't know it had posted to their site, but I just got an e-mail from an old friend who read it online. Funny.

Anyway- if you want to read it, click here.

I'll be writing 3 of them. My next one is due Friday. Just like 800 word "help from the field" advice and practical teaching stuff. Drop in on Simply to check it out in the future or to look up other quick articles to read from men and women in the trenches of youth ministry with me.


Monday, February 25, 2008


Tyler lost another tooth tonight. Evidently he's going to have to start eating all his food through a blender or just gum his food to death. Only one left on the prized top front row.



Crazy world we live in. Uganda is 11 hours ahead of us and so tonight I talked to my brother in law in Uganda via a video conference through Skype while he was experiencing the beginning of tomorrow. Great to get caught up and to see his face. Absolutely crazy that we can do that 10,000 miles away. Sometimes I really praise God I live in the internet age. Most of those days I wonder how I ever got along without it.

Also, we're planning our trip to Uganda this summer. We're currently putting together our team 15 and in late July we'll be headed to Uganda to serve in this orphanage and the surrounding communities. Should be awesome and I can't wait to see my family. I'll be there for almost a month this summer, staying after the "missions portion" to hang with my family and meet with the child we sponsor through World Vision. I think that will be AWESOME!!!


Thursday, February 21, 2008


Today I was stewing on some of the pressures I feel pretty regularly as a pastor- in purely a random list I started typing....

  • be funny
  • be young at heart
  • be athletic and physically fit
  • be a great communicator
  • be organized
  • be on facebook
  • be on myspace
  • be a pop-culture wiz
  • be aware of all things youtube
  • be a travel agent
  • be a graphic artist
  • be a web designer
  • be a great writer
  • be photographic memory man with student's faces and names
  • be a janitor
  • be ultimately responsible for the ministry
  • be caring
  • be loving
  • be available to those in need
  • be trustworthy
  • be a visionary
  • be a corrector
  • be devoted to prayer
  • be memorizing scripture
  • be reading my Bible
  • be fasting
  • be a videographer
  • be a seminary student
  • be a learner
  • be a booking agent
  • be great with money
  • be creative
  • be informed about politics
  • be aware of the big news in the world
  • be a blog updater
  • be a listener
  • be healthy
  • be ready to eat pizza and junk food so I can hang out with students
  • be on campus
  • be relational and know the lives of my leaders
  • be a small group leader
  • be connected with my students
  • be involved in our network
  • be willing to say yes
  • be willing to say no
  • be a friend
  • be a mentor
  • be raising up lots of other mentors
  • be a dad to the dadless
  • be wise
  • be a pastor
  • be a forgiver
  • be thinking about the future
  • be reading lots and lots of current books
  • be writing blog posts about what I'm reading
  • be at every youth conference in the country
  • be up on what the "emerging church" says
  • be up on what Luther and Ignatius and Spurgeon and Calvin and....
  • be up on what such and such a church is doing
  • be watching survivor, american idol, and the office
  • be aware of the latest and greatest on mtv
  • be a surfer
  • be mad skilled at all things xbox and such
  • be a movie goer
  • be texting my students
  • be e-mailing
  • be sending snail mail encouragement notes
  • be thinking of others
  • be a listener of podcast teaching
  • be a member of a pastor team
  • be a counselor for pastoral drop in needs in the office
  • be caring for creation
  • be playing some band on my ipod no one else has ever heard of but makes me cool
  • be a family man
  • be a manager
  • be a leader
  • be a pleaser of God
  • be a pleaser of people
  • be.......
Um... yeah. Obviously some of this is healthy and some not so much. Some comes naturally. Some I suck at quite naturally too. On a good day this list makes me give up and lean on Jesus and just be me and rest in God alone. On a bad day, it beats me up, makes me feel like a loser, and makes me want to quit under the weight of feeling like an utter failure.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Um... after my first day of facebook existence it has become clear to me, I'm obviously very late to the facebook party. Half the world is on facebook. I think everyone in my world but me.


30 DAYS OF....

My church just finished a 21 days of prayer and fasting period. Evidently we missed the mark.

This church issued 30 days of sex according to this CNN video. After watching this video, I have nothing to write here that is appropriate. Most of my snide remarks are going to remain in my head. I just voice these 4 ponderings:

  • their website they created for this "campaign" has crashed due to too many hits.
  • I wonder if this pastor is really trying to re-kindle marriages or just get on TV?
  • I really want to know what his wife thinks of his plan. I'm sure he thinks it's pure genius and gets him lots of high fives at the mens group.
  • I wonder if they're passing out condoms in the bulletins or if they just have plans for expanding their church nursery, but are struggling to get enough congregational support.



Today I got the chance to sit and have lunch at Bethel Seminary with about 50 people and Barry C. Black, the 62nd US. Senate Chaplain. In light of my frustrations with Politics, I was hoping to get some fresh eyes and perspective from a man much older, much wiser, and very much on the front row of history in America. He has a list of degrees and ph.d's and awards, and achievements that takes about 10 minutes to read. He's seen the world from so many vantage points. I was eager to listen.

Well, my lunch did not disappoint.

I loved the insights he had on ministry and faith on Capitol Hill. He is obviously a well studied and very very smart man. I felt stupid and ignorant just being in his presence- not because he was arrogant, just because he was so clearly so much farther down the road than I. Dude is sharp, witty, fun, sincere, humble, and clearly walking with the Holy Spirit. I wish I could have had a year of lunches with him. I'd pay for that.

But the nuggets I most walked away with today were ones for preaching. Here's what I gleaned today by watching and listening to Barry C. Black- a very eloquent African American pastor, Retired Navy Admiral, father of 3 boys.. and well... a whole lot more.

  • Read. Read. Read. I need to read more. Smart people read. Well studied people read. People who don't repeat the mistakes of the past and learn from History read. I need to read more. This dude clearly reads. A lot.
  • Pray. Pray. Pray. He holds 5 bible studies a week for senators. He is a father and a husband. He has a list of responsibilities and opportunities a mile long. He does one on one spiritual counseling for everyone from the president to the senate floor and still makes time to pray for one hour a day. He said he learned it from who he considers to be one of his greatest mentors in his life: Fulton J Sheen, a catholic priest of which he has read a lot of his works. Evidently Fulton Sheen prayed in a church for an hour a day every day for 20 years, only missing twice. It was the position they found him dead in, praying in church, on his knees. Black says he no longer has to write sermons, he just talks to God and listens to God and reads his word and talks to people out of the overflow of that time. Well, however he does it, it's working. Trust me.
  • Memorize Scripture. Lots of scripture. I'd be a better preacher if I had more of my Bible memorized. Period.
  • "If I have not experienced it, I don't preach it." Take that to the bank. That's good stuff.
  • Use pauses, voice inflection, and words on purpose. It really is a great speaking skill to master. Anyone can rant and ramble. Great communicators choose their words, tone, speed, intensity and volume carefully and intentionally.
If you ever have a chance to hear the Chaplain, Barry C. Black, drop what you're doing and go. It will be some of the best hours you've spent in the presence of a truly genuine man of God in a long time.



"It's a volcano".

"Let's shoot people with them. Peeneeer. Peneeer."

"Mine's bigger. Well mine's the cleanest. Yours is a sand monster."

"Look, it's like a video game controller."

We took our family out to breakfast and to dog beach after last monday. It had been a long week and I worked almost all weekend and we need some family time and the dog deserved some time too. But, despite out plans to just let the dog run in the ocean, um all 3 of kids got soaked. Soaked and sandy from head to toe. So the only way to get them home without ruining our car or causing me to have to clean it for 3 days was to strip them down and let them ride home, all 3 buck naked in the back seat. It was a warm sunny day, so what the heck- why not?

Well, um for future notice... naked boy boredom is the answer to "why not?". Shannon kept telling me I had to make them stop. I just sat there laughing to the point of tears and wondering what will happen to me if I get pulled over. Oh the joy of raising boys.



I have a myspace. Cuz several years ago I was told to be a good youth pastor and stay in touch with my students and some young college students at the time, I needed one. So, I created one. I have not spent anytime on the darn thing in like 4 months. It was kind of embarrassing tonight to respond to e-mails on there that were from November. I suck.

We have a student ministry myspace for our high school students cuz lots of them still use the site and I virtually pay a student to update ours for me cuz I'm so stinkin horrible at caring about it. It's a necessary evil of sorts I guess.

But then, this last December, I got a chance to speak at the church I did all my internships at and there were like 15 or 20 people from my former youth ministry in the audience. Go figure. When I asked how they all heard about it, they said.. Facebook. I said, "Oh great. One more thing to suck at checking." Well, anyway, today I took the plunge and got a facebook account. I have no idea why and I have only one friend. Someone who had actually sent me some kinda e-mail through facebook to get me started.

Anyway, if you want to give me some facebook lesson or tell me what in the world a wall paper is or how to use my iphone to check my facebook or just join my friendship circle so I can learn the ropes of this new medium, well THIS IS ME. I'm told this place is not filled with constant invites from porn stars and hoochie ads like my myspace account is, and will change my life forever for the better. Guess I'll find out.


Thursday, February 07, 2008


I hurt.

Wednesday I got a call asking if I had time to go to court to support a friend whose marriage is being strained by domestic violence. I went. I hurt. I hurt for their young kids who wonder why there's so much anger in the home. I hurt for a husband. I hurt for a wife. I hurt for those around me who seemed to be regulars in the court system and who know their way around due to frequent visits there. I hurt for those who have never seen any other way of life modeled and who have accepted this level of pain as normal. I hurt.

I hope.

I hope in a God who can restore a marriage. I hope in a God who knows more than I do. I hope in dark times that there is a single light at the end of the tunnel leading them to God. I hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to overwhelm the power of sin and death in my life and the life of those around me. I hope this is not "normal". I hope this is not right. I hope in a God who is bigger than my problems. I hope. It's all I can do sometimes.

I hurt.

I spent all of today in a house and 2 hospitals. Grieving. Crying. Mourning. Hurting. Hurting for a family that lost 3 small children in a fire. I hurt for a mom who was in the hospital trying to get well from a virus when she watched her rented home burn and her children die while the news reported it to her hospital room. I hurt for a father whose life feels utterly hopeless to him and whose wife is now more sick and pain-filled than anyone could possibly imagine. I hurt for a student who I have tried to mentor and help find life with Jesus so he can get off drugs and alcohol- who made a terrible mistake of which his 3 cousins paid for with their life. I hurt for a young man who now, more than ever, wishes he was dead. I hurt. I hurt deeply today. Deeper than I've hurt in a long time. Today was a hard day to be a youth pastor. It was a hard day to be a friend. It was a hard day to understand God. Today hurts.

I hope.

I hope that this is not the end. I hope in a God who promises a resurrection. I hope in a God who does not let evil win. I hope in a God who sees what I do not. I hope in a God who holds a bigger view of life than I do. I hope in a God who holds children I cannot. I hope that the promises of my Bible hold true. I hope for those who in their deep deep deep hurt, turn their life over to God. I hope.

Psalm 33:20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

I hurt. I hope. I yearn for a day when that cycle no longer happens.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Today Lord.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008



  • I suck at understanding, following, and believing in the political system to change the world for the better. I don't understand the delegate system.
  • I don't believe that when I vote for a bill that I even know what I'm really voting for because everyone says you have to read the fine print which means two more things: I have no idea where to find the fine print and secondly, even when I read it, I don't know what I just read. I think the whole thing sounds like a circus and I'm constantly waiting for the next rabbit to be pulled out of a hat.
  • I registered Republican at age 18, mostly cuz my parents were registered that way. I'm not sure I want to be a Republican. I'm not sure I want to be a Democrat. I have no idea what a Green Party is but despite the fact that I'm trying to create new sources for acquiring green so I can be less dependent on my church income and despite the fact that I'm trying to green up my family's use of the planets resources, I'm still pretty sure that neither of those is really what it means to belong to the Green Party.
  • I'm quite positive I want to be a follower of Jesus and not sure any of those three really has that at their core... so it seems like I'm trying to attach an alter mission to the engine of politics. I'm not sure how to be influential for Jesus in this realm.
  • I don't care what color your skin is or what gender you are as a candidate. I don't need a white male president or a black female senator or a hispanic govenor or whatever. I think this kind of talk only perpetuates the problems they're trying to overcome.
  • Change is good. Right now... I hope someone finds a synonym for it soon. I'm tired of hearing it- even if I think we need it.
  • So yesterday, for the first time ever, I didn't vote. The primaries seemed like a waste- especially on the Republican end- and the stupid 90's ballot issues left me wondering if anyone was really telling me what the fine print really said. All I know really is that evidently we think Indian Tribal lands should be places where we go to gamble and give Vegas a run for their money.
  • For whatever reason, as a 35 year old pastor, outside of many mainline traditions I've never given up anything for lent or spent a day of repentance on it's beginning- today, which is Ash Wednesday- or the 40 day mark from Easter.
  • So, for the first time ever, I'm giving something up for lent.
  • I'm giving up sweets. No chocolate. No candy. Till Easter. And then maybe I'll tell my sweet tooth to take a hike. I also am not taking the candy jar out of my office.
  • But, I did not smear ashes in the shape of a cross on my forehead in honor of this new step of faith. Maybe next year.


Monday, February 04, 2008


On Saturday, Marko mentioned at our parent training that with the onset of puberty, one of the brain changes we can observe is the ability to begin to think abstractly. Before that, kids can only think in concrete terms.

So about 2am that night, Jake hollers at me from his bedroom. He's about 95% of the way done with the whole wetting the bed thing, but that night he didn't make it. So, responded to his plea for help, got him cleaned up and then sent him to bed with Shannon and I, cuz I didn't feel like changing his sheets at that hour. Plus, it was the wee hours of Sunday morning and I'd be leaving in a few more hours to go to church, so he would be alone with Shannon in bed soon enough anyway.

When my alarm went off and I left for church, Jake woke up. Later I heard that he told Shannon, "Mom, I need a night light"

Shannon said, "Jake, I'm right here, go to sleep. You don't need a night light."

Jake said, "Mom it's dark, I need a night light."

Shannon said, "Jake, go to sleep. I'm right here. There's nothing to be afraid of. I'm your night light."

To which Jake replied, "Well, you're not shinning very brightly."

Ahhhhh that's funny stuff. Concrete thinking is way funnier than abstract thinking.




Last Saturday, we had our annual parent training seminar. We had about 85 parents come out for a half day of training and lunch catered from Pat and Oscars. We had some great parent feedback and this was another super sweet way for us to build some relationships and street cred with those who have not only kids in our program, but those with kids coming into our programs, and those with kids our youth ministry is missing too.

Christina (our middle school gal) and I taught on the value of teaching students how to think vs. what to think. Then Marko, the president of youth specialties, taught on adolescent brain development. Ed Noble, our teaching pastor at journey, then taught on what are some healthy and unhealthy patterns for parents while raising teens. As I was preparing for this, I came to the realization that collectively- the four of us share over 75 years of full time experience in working with teens. That's pretty sweet for a parent. I was definitely listening with my parent ears perked.

LEARNING FROM MARKO: I need to remember that this transition is a transition. I need to allow my boys to act like children while wanting to be treated like adults. Instead of seeing a hard fast line I need to cross, it's more like a fuzzy set of years I need to help them navigate. I pictured it like helping them go from freshwater (childhood) to salt water (adulthood), and being ok with the fact that there is a big chunk of brackish water in between. That brackish mix of saltwater and freshwater is natural for adolescents and I should expect them to show some movement towards adulthood, but allow them some experiences of childhood still too. That relieved a lot of pressure I was placing on myself.... seeing this transition as more abrupt than that in my head. He also said that the top three things we can do to help adolescent brain development from a scientific perspective are (1) give them plenty of sleep, (2) help them eat and exercise well, and (3) allow them to experience the consequences of both good and poor decisions, not shielding them from them. Great stuff.

LEARNING FROM ED: I need to keep the value of meeting with my boys one-on-one very high during this stage of their development. There will be a direct one-to-one relationship between their experiences with me as their Dad today with the ease or difficulty I will have in maintaining those patterns in their teen years. If I expect or desire healthy connection with them in their teen years, I better keep at it now or it'll only get harder as the years go on and their lives get more and more busy.

Then, on Sunday we launched our new dating series in our high school group- something we do every February along the "love is in the air time" of valentines day.

Sarah and I team taught on the differences between men and women and why dating relationships can sometimes be so hard. And hold on... we had 108 students show up in one service. More than any other service in 3 years here. And the coolest part, visitors are starting to stick. We have several students who have been coming for 5 or 6 weeks now. SO awesome!!! One of our "fringe students" texted me after service and said, "I just wanted to say that was a good service". I wrote back, "Sweet. I dug it too. Thanks for coming." He then said, "Ya, it really stuck out to me". I thought that was so great. What a great thing to hear from a student. I pray that God's voice sticks out to every student in our ministry.

Oh.. and Friday, I took the student from my last posting out for breakfast and after our conversation, he went home and decided to give his life to Jesus. He's now purposefully and intentionally following Jesus and looking for help in that process. So cool.

I don't often have ministry weekends that go so amazing that I feel like I should announce them from the mountain top. But this last one was one for the books. Hopefully we can keep this ball rolling.



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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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