Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Q: What am I talking about?

A: This website being promoted by these full page ads they have taken out in magazines like Time, Newsweek, and National Geographic. Someone behind these has their feet on the ground where Americans are living today... and I'm guessing some money too.

The official UMC website indicates this is the goal of these ads:
  • A print advertisement directs people to www.10thousanddoors.org, a new website launched April 20 as part of The United Methodist Church's Rethink Church awareness campaign. The site encourages people to think about church as a doorway to service in the world. (primarily those who are 18-34 and unchurched or with a negative church experience is their target)
Here's two tv ads they have taken out too.

I grew up in the Methodist Church as a kid. I taught a seminar for Youth Specialties, hosted by a UMC church in Texas last weekend. I've attended the local Methodist church in our community and liked what I heard and saw. I surfed their official theology on their national website and I can't find much to disagree with, though I know some of the practices of certain communities with this label outside the doors I would not support.

I attended a Christian Missionary Alliance church in high school and did my internships there too. I attended a Baptist church in college. I served in an Evangelical Free Church for 11 years in Fremont. I now work in a non-denominational church with Calvary Chapel roots. I'm officially a denominational mutt.

The resulting bottom line is I don't give a royal rip what name you stick outside of the door of your building. If I can walk through it and find the conviction and truth of God's words, the love and grace of a God-fearing community, and the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit, then we're good. I really have ZERO denominational loyalties.

As a result, I really like what these Ads stand for- especially if they are not merely social justice ploys. I think that the church is losing ground in the culture we live in and if God's people are going to make a difference, then we better wake up and leave our four walls and start being real salt and light to the world around us that people can actually taste and see or we're going to loose even more ground and be even less the people of God than many "churches" already are today.

For what it's worth, I hope a lot of people join this UMC movement and find
  1. a real, life altering connection with their Creator through Jesus Christ
  2. they are part of a lot of churches with thousands of denominational doors that are doing this too.
  3. the opportunity to join God as the ones who spread the Spirit's influence in practical redemptive ways all over the planet.
May God's Kingdom be Advanced. Period.

PS.... if you really want to hear what's behind this thing, watch this 9 minute video explaining, what, why, who, when, and how this is all planned out by the UMC. This is a fully orchestrated event.


Monday, April 27, 2009


The last time my wife logged on, this is what she found her desktop to say.

It is sponsored by the Berrytribe Adoption Committee.

She is officially now a supermom.  Don't jack with her.  She is holding down the homefront. 



... but definitely the best I've ever been in, was last week in Austin, Texas.

I went there to teach my final weekend of the YS One Day team this year. But before I arrived I searched facebook for those who where around Austin and found a former student and friend of mine, Nathan, who lives in the area. So I said, hey... let's meet for java somewhere.

He said, "I know the perfect place. It's called mozart's." And after I spent 6 hours there last Friday writing, reading, and enjoying friendship... I now proclaim it is AMAZING!!!!

Here's what makes it the best.... I tripple dog dare you to tell me where else you can get all of this:

  • free internet
  • 2 levels of ample seating everywhere, both inside and out, with massive quantities of places to plug in your laptop- even on the outdoor deck!
  • water front views with natural shade provided by giant oak trees.
  • roast their own coffee on site from raw beans
  • brewed coffee is bottomless. Buy it once, you're good all day, no refill fee!
  • nice espresso drinks by people who know what they are doing.
  • the staff is genuinely nice and loves what they are about.
  • java and pastries are served on real dishes if you're staying on site- and who wouldn't?
  • custom baked and nicely prepared pastries and desserts that look awesome.
  • serves a small selection of local ice cream, java shakes, and gelato.
  • a fridge that has non-java drinks, and custom italian sodas for those who are java free.
  • a nice selection of teas
  • small sharing library of books you can read.
  • live local music on many nights, especially the weekends
  • open til midnight, Friday and Saturday til 1am!

If Mozart's was in my community, I would officially never be in the office and would just carve my name in a table and set up office hours there. If I was single, I'd just sleep in my car and shower in the river.

One day, if Jesus let's me, I'm gonna open a place just like this... only difference will be these additions...
  • I'll add a "mom" room where you can drink and your kids can play.
  • I'll have some seminar rooms where we'll teach basic classes in both Christian life and beliefs as well as practical living like music, writing, computers, and photography and stuff- some will have a small fee, some will be free- you can sign up online.
  • It'll be "closed" on Sundays from 8 to noon, cuz that's when we're gonna turn it into church. You can come and enjoy community with java, sing some songs, and some interactive teaching around tables all over the place.


Friday, April 24, 2009


I really like this shirt. 

I've seen it in lots of colors and in New York, Texas, and California.  Each time I see it I think, I like this shirt and I want to "live simply" and walk more and drive less and yatta yatta.

But can you please, for the love of all things simple, tell me how in the world you think it is "living simply" to pay $30 or in this case, $42 for a t-shirt.  Please tell me at least $25 of that is going to fix some social ill that is complicated and expensive. 

I can't live simply and pay 30+ bucks for a stupid t-shirt.   If I do, I'm wearing a lie.


Thursday, April 23, 2009


I learned that "fubar" is an acronym for a very bad thing.  Maybe I was living under a rock.  But I had no idea.  I also now wish I wish in the brainstorming meeting when they named this.  Bet that meeting was hysterical.

I learned that the oscar meyer weiner mobile passes out a toy they call the weiner whistles.  The weiner website says they were invented in 1952 by the weiner inventer himself and are given out everywhere this truck goes.  That's all I'm gonna say about that.

I learned that youtube now lets you straight up download from their website any video for free in one of three formats.  They just put all the other websites that did this for you out of business.  So funny and so cool- unless you own one of those other websites and then um... bummer.

My facebook account can import my blog posts and now they show up as notes.  Nobody told me this and well, I was farting around on facebook and saw two "notes" from two people whose blogs I read and figured out it was just their blog on facebook and so I did some research and whalla... my blog now posts to facebook too.  I think I might love facebook. Not more than my wife or kids or soccer or photos... but maybe more than Christmas. 



Ok... so I went to this "worship concert" thing with Hillsong at a church in San Diego.

I was looking forward to going.  I was looking forward to singing with a lot of people and some very gifted musicians.  Maybe I'm a pagan, but I was also looking forward to testing my new camera that came in the mail that day in a low light indoor situation.

But, before I could get in, I had to have my bag checked- by the bouncer guy. This church doesn't have ushers, they have bouncers... or at least the 3 times I've been there, they always have bouncers.

I know because welcome people say, "Glad you're here.  Welcome to our church.  Thanks for coming.  Let's worship God together tonight" ... and stuff like that.

Bouncers don't even smile before they say, "I'm gonna check your bag."  Then this time they stapled a sign to my bag saying it's too big and for everyone's safety, it's against policy for me to bring this bag. 

Bouncers say, "You can't take pictures in there."

I said, "um, ok."

Bouncers then say, "If you do, we're going to kick you out."

I really bad wanted to say, "I love Jesus too.  Let's worship him together."  I mean this is a "worship thing" where everyone paid $25 a pop to sing to God.  Are you kidding me?   I really wanted them to kick me out of church for taking pictures of people singing to God without a flash.  I would have taken their picture when they did it too :)

So, I didn't get kicked out... but here's 2 of my illegal pics.  Don't copy them. You'll probably go to jesus jail.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


... when you are driving on 805 south and you see a giant Oscar Mayer wiener next to you and your co-worker is jumping up and down in the back seat begging you to catch up to it so she can get a picture? 

Christina took a pic with her iphone and was gonna twit pic it.... which she did.  In the end, she chose simply "805 south".  Here's some tag lines that were voiced in the car but not used:
  • I just saw a giant wiener.
  • That's one speedy wiener.
  • Hey Oscar, have you lost your wierner?  Cuz I just found it.
  • If you love wieners then you're gonna love this.
  • Check out this wiener.
    Oh man... sometimes there's nothing funnier in the world than a giant weiner truck on the freeway.


    Monday, April 20, 2009


    I get that question a lot. If you follow this blog, then you've seen my pics and people always want to know what I've taken them with.

    I got into photography as a kid of about 10 with a fully manual screw on lens pentax camera from the 50's or something that I bought at a camera swap meet with my dad. I then took some photo classes in high school and upon graduation, bought a minolta automatic focus with 2 lenses. I was stoked.

    Fast forward to eventually digital came around and I've had 2 or 3 different pocket sized digital cameras until June of 2007 when I bought my first digital SLR- a sony alpha 100.

    Well, for my birthday I got a new camera from my folks- the sony alpha 700. It's got some more bells and whistles the other one- but the old one still works awesome and does me right.

    So, I'm selling my sony a100 and a brand new lens- the 18-70mm. This camera sells new for about $500 today. I paid over $700 when it first came out. It has another year on a 3 year warranty I bought so I'm selling it for $280.

    It has never been dropped and has no dings. It does have some wear and tear on the dial on the top where some of the pictures markers have faded some. The screen is scratch free, it comes with the orginal box and manuals, a battery, charger, and a lens. You'll need to buy an SD data disc to store your pictures on it.

    Anyway, if you're interested, just leave me a comment or shoot me an e-mail.

    here's some pics of my camera for sale.

    Oh... and I'm selling this Tamarac backpack that holds a laptop and a lot of camera gear. It's in perfect condition and I used it only once. But I decided to go another route. It sells for $140, I'm asking $75.

    Blog readers get first dibs, next week I'm sending it to craigs list.



    I have come to enjoy photoshop from time to time.  I don't retouch many photos cuz it takes me a while and the truth is, I'm sure there's an easier way and some cool plug in to do it correctly in photoshop that I don't know about, but I still do it occasionally.

    The last time was Friday after a day at the Zoo with our family and the Taylors- friends from Nor. Cal. that date all the way back to high school.  It was great to share some stories, some time, and get caught on life again.  I posted a bunch of pics on facebook, the last of which was titled, "I changed 3 pieces of this photo, can you find them." 

    So here's the original 3.

    I stole Becky's face from the first one.
    I removed the stow-a-way daughter we got from the second one.
    I added the sign from the third one.

    Here's the meshing of them into one final product. 



    Yep, I'm a self professed pop culture idiot. If you ever end up on one of those "call a friend" game shows and you are in need of anything about music, movies, or famous people... don't call me or you'll lose.

    Why?  Cuz the memory function in my brain is about 90% stupid and the remaining 10% that works right has zero space alotted to memorizing stuff that is cool but useless to me.

    Want proof?

    Sunday I'm teaching in high school and we are talking about pride so in our brain storming meeting a student suggests we use a clip from Anchor Man.  I'm told it'll be hard to find a clip that is "clean enough" and I've never seen the movie, but they swear it'll be funny and perfect so Sarah agrees to find the clip.

    Sunday rolls around and I set up the clip per what I've been told- "this clip is the epitome of pride"- and no sooner do we press go, everyone starts laughing.

    After the second service when this occured, I asked this question, "Hey, just out of curiosity, are you laughing cuz you have seen the movie or because you think Chevy Chase is funny."

    Answer:  a unanimous "that's not chevy chase" came from the crowd.

    Me: "Um, oh... yeah.  Who is it?"

    Answer: a unanimous and simultaneous voice of about 100 kids says, "Will Ferrell".

    Me:  "Um,... yeah, I was just testing you.  They are like brothers anyway."

    yep... I'm an idiot.


    Tuesday, April 14, 2009


    As promised, here are some old school memories I found in my office drawer. I have a pile of old stuff I figured I'd post in celebration of 15 years in youth ministry and my first days via pics I scanned in.

    It all started with the mentoring and example of my own youth pastor, Mark Teyler here at Yosemite with an old school musician, Reggie Coates in the darkened background- circa 1988

    Before I got my first job, I spoke at a water ski trip for the Evangelical Free Church of Fremont. I thought it was just a speaking gig that Mark Teyler had recommended me for. Little did I know it would be the most life changing weekend I'd experienced to date. This is me teaching at that retreat at Bullard's Bar in Nor. Cal. in July of 93.

    Following this teaching gig I was asked to turn in a job application as Dale Goncalves- the current youth pastor- was going to step down into the adult world :). Anyway, I did and part of the process included going with the group to Hume Lake for winter camp in like January of 94. This is my then fiance Shannon and I on a tube run.

    I even found a copy of the bulletin from my first Sunday where I taught in the night service and shared my testimony in the morning services before the congregation voted me in or out.

    That resulted in me becoming the youth pastor of the Evangelical Free Church and the youth goup, Powerhouse- and this old school logo I dreamed up that I is no longer just a logo, but a sweet memory marker of a lot of stuff for me.
    Here's some pics from those days, just a sampling I found on top of the pile and a few that happened to have been mailed to me recently. They are not necessarily my favorite or most significant, but they are a kick and each has a story that I could do a whole blog post on by itself. But I'll just post the pics:

    Lastly... here's 2 family pics I found. My first youth ministry job was also the place where all three of my biological children began cutting their teeth in ministry themselves.... literally.

    This is TJ sleeping on the ground in a Mexico Trip.

    This is TJ and Tyler and Shannon and I on a train ride we used to do for Christmas for our leaders.

    I'm sure for a lot of you that was a post you skimmed like a bad family slide show. But for me... it was posted through a mixture of joy and tears. Man there's a lot of memories. If the next 15 years looks anything like the last, then strap in... cuz it's gonna be a ride.



    None of the stuff mentioned in this interview below is new criticism. The satire is funny, serious, false, and true all at the same time. I guess that's why they call it satire.

    Anyway, got this clip from Ed Noble, the teaching pastor at Journey... guess somebody at Journey sent it to him and well, it's worth the listen. If you are following Jesus, one of the best things I think you can do is crawl out of the hole that is the Christian community and take a look around at what the rest of the world is saying- especially those who passionately disagree. One of the best books I read in college was by Origen- a 3rd century defender of the faith who wrote a book against a strong critic of Christianity, "Celsus". The book was called "Against Celsus" and it not only quotes Celsus, but it also offers some soid arguments for why one might intelligently choose to disagree.

    I pray that our students learn less from me about what to think and more from me about how to think... and that's way harder to do than it sounds.

    The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
    Bart Ehrman



    Easter left my family and I with much to celebrate.  For me, it started early setting up for high school before I headed to main for the 8am service and then two services in high school.  That was followed by an egg hunt with our kids (they know we hide them and they go searching), a HUGE lunch/dinner, and then taking my parents off to the airport after a week with us.

    All in all, it was great time on a very very sunny to cap off a great first week of Spring Break:

    And... one pic set from a day to the Sea Life Aquarium last week at Legoland. 


    Monday, April 13, 2009


    Got tired of stressing over hard drive space.  So I decided to go ahead and replace the one I had in my macbook pro with one that went a little faster and holds 2x the space.

    But, for the first time, I decided to do the repair myself.   Todd gave me some phone advice and a tip that I could find all I needed on ifixit.com and well, he was right!

    I have now finished reformatting and transfering all the data I wanted.  1 day and $120 later, I have 320GB of space at 7200 bpm.   So, 3 cheers for a clean slate and a fresh harddrive with lots of real estate.  Now I think I'll try filling it up with pictures :)


    Saturday, April 11, 2009


    Today I turned 37. I spent the day being lazy with my family, shopping at the flea market, eating some lunch and ice cream, drinking too much java, watching my dog play in the waves, and stuff like that....

    At lunch, for the first time, my kids asked me if I'd still be a youth pastor when they were in high school. I've always feared this transition, wanting my own kids to explore their own faith and OWN IT absent my leadership if they wanted. I've seen the "pastors kids" have great experiences. I've also seen them have horrible ones. I'm not willing to risk the latter at any cost. Having them beg me to stay is sweet. Some days I can't imagine why I wouldn't. Other days I think some subliminal youth pastor time clock will tick off before they get there. TJ is only 2 years away, so the reality is on the horizon. If God lets me stay for all of them to finish high school... I'll be a 27 year veteran before it's over, serving here at Journey for 16 years with Becky and Billy graduating in 2021!!!

    Regardless, this month is 15 years in ministry. A milestone for me. (Shannon and I will also celebrate 15 years of marriage in June too.)

    As I look back on these years, here's my top 10 learnings...
    1. Taking care of myself is not selfish, it is necessary. When I've failed to lead myself well, everyone and everything around me feels it.
    2. My marriage and family are not my most important ministry, they are my ministry. My ministry flows from my pursuit of Godliness as father and husband. If I fail at those, the rest will fall apart too.
    3. Leaders are learners and I have come to believe that there are only 2 ways to learn things: (1) the hard way and (2) from someone who learned it the hardway. The smartest thing I can do in ministry is keep learning- from my own mistakes and especially from the mistakes of others. It is a huge way that I can gain the wisdom to avoid doing or repeating them myself.
    4. Never ever ever let bad news surprise your supervisor. When you falter or fail (not if but when), be the first one in line to share and offer a solution. Supervisors hate surprises- especially when there's bad news inside- and especially when it's from someone else.
    5. More is not more. Deeper is more. I'll take quality over quantity every day of the week.
    6. Facebook might be the greatest gift I've ever been given in the effort to keep in touch with and pseudo mentoring old students. Without it, I would never hear from so many. I praise God for facebook.
    7. I suck at all things music, I hate managing money, I get distracted by both posessions and pleasing people, and I might be the worst name memorizer in the history of youth pastors. If I get fired- one of these will be why.
    8. 75% of a youth pastor's job is spent reminding everyone what it is we're trying to do, when we're doing it, and why it needs to get done.
    9. Work smart and hard. The people in ministry that I admire with longevity and a top notch reputation all have a solid work ethic and manage their time wisely- knowing when to take time off and when to work overtime. The longer I'm in ministry, the deeper appreciation I have for both of these character traits.
    10. There is no such thing as a relationship short cut. All relationships take time. The ones that mean the most to me also cost me the most. And know this, NOTHING I've done of any significance over the last 15 years has been done alone. I owe a ton of volunteers 15 YEARS OF THANKS!
    The coming posts this week will have some old school pics from the last 15 years and some memories.

    If I can find time, I have a bucket full of old powerhouse flashback videos I need to upload and host on facebook someday. I gotta make that happen :)


    Wednesday, April 08, 2009


    Grandma and Grandpa arrived in town yesteday morning and we seized the chance as a family to do some bonding after having been gone all weekend in the desert. So we decided to take Becky and Billy for their first taste of one of our favorite family walks that includes lunch, a chance to see the seals, and some great photo ops. As many times as I've done this walk, it still doesn't bore me.

    Here's the photos of our day in La Jolla. So blessed by the family God has allowed me to be a part of and ridiculously lucky to live in such a beautiful place:



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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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