Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I went on a fan-page-o-rama the last few days on facebook.
  • I created one for our summer evangelism and apologetics training experience called OGN.
Feel free to "fan" them too if ya want.

But if I wanted to really go crazy, I also would create one for www.blog2print.com cuz I've been searching for this for a long long time and I'm definitely a HUGE FAN ! Yes, I finally found a way to get my blog into print form.

For about the the last 3 or 4 years, I've been occasionally searching the internet for a way to print my blog and finally, I stumbled upon a way to get r done.

I ordered just one as a test of my first year and a half of posts..... from 2005-2006. Well, yesterday it came in the mail and it looks AMAZING! All my posts are now in book form, including pictures. Obviously, links don't work and neither do videos, but it comes with a table of contents, a hard bound binding if you want, and all kinds of ways to customize your final product before going to print. I even got the whole thing in a pdf too!

I loved it so much, that I just ordered a 200 page book of posts from 2007 and will be ordering one for 2008 and 2009 soon, once I save my pennies. They aren't super cheap, but for me, it's so worth having a hard copy of my online journal. I'm stoked.

Here it is, appropriately covered in my childhood stuffed animal... it's my first baby :)


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I'm not a numbers or a statistics guy. I don't think that more students in church makes for an effective morning or anything.... but that said, numbers do speak. They say something and sometimes they say more than pictures or paragraphs.

Here's some I've been stockpiling as of late:

  • This is all about the numbers in the Olympics. 80 nations, 5500 athletes and judges, $1.6 billion in IOC budget. NBC paid $820 million for the TV rights, 6.8 tons of old computer boards were recycled to make the medals... yeah. Crazy stuff like that.
  • Or perhaps you have $1400 to throw at a Swiss Army knife with 112 functions. It's 8" wide, so I have no idea how you'd even use the dumb thing. But evidently someone must be buying this stuff.

If you want to know how those numbers compare. How about this:
  • 2.5 billion people live on less that $2 a day. I would take them 2 years to earn enough to buy the knife above, assuming they saved every penny. In reverse, if you gave that money away, you could pay for 2 families budgets for a year.
  • The average well cost to drill a fresh water well is about $8000. $20 can provide 1 person in Africa fresh water for 20 years. That means you can drink water from a $2600 bottle or you could provide water for 1300 people for 20 years. The 6 foot statue above could sit in some dudes entry or be sold to buy 13,000 fresh water wells. Charity Water has built 1549 wells to date that provide water for 820,000 people. That means that 6 foot statue would provide enough money to give everyone on the planet access to clean water.
That's ridiculous! Dang it. I need to give more and this is proof enough that money, greed, and social structures are completely stupid.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Exactly one year ago today, our whole world changed.

We brought Becky and Billy home to officially become part of the Berrytribe on U.S. soil.

Since that time, we've had a year of firsts, especially for Billy and Becky. Here's a small list of what they had to wait almost 6 years before experiencing or getting:

  • fly in a plane
  • have a mom and dad that live with you
  • have 3 older brothers
  • actually pet an animal and discover they won't eat you
  • go to the dentist
  • go to an amusement park
  • ride in a boat
  • ride a train
  • have their own big bed
  • experience Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Halloween, and Birthdays as family traditions.
  • go camping
  • watch a movie on TV
  • own your own clothes.
  • have a pair of shoes that are not communal property.
  • use a phone
  • play a video game
  • go on a picnic
  • drink a slurpee
  • drink clean/safe water straight from the faucet
  • ride a bike
Tonight, in celebration of this year, we told stories of the time in Uganda around a dinner table and I made a traditional Ugandan feast. Shannon thought I had school, but by providence, tonight was a night off and we were able to grub down and celebrate with some traditional food I learned how to make while in Uganda.

My sweet Jake saw all the food on the table and said, "Wow Dad, this is a feast." I said, "Yep, straight from Uganda." Jake then said, "Oh man Dad, I feel bad for all the people there who don't have enough food to have a feast." I said, "I agree Jake. We are blessed." We thanked God for all he has given us and the bounty of life and food around the table and dove in.

Here's some pictures of me learning to cook with my Ugandan mentor, Prossy- our host in the Ugandan guest house who cooked meals for me for like 6 weeks of my life in 8 months time.

Here's the feast 10,000 miles and 365 days later. Chapati, Rice, Beans, Cabbage, and Roasted Chicken. I think I'll leave this to an annual experience. I spent 3 hours gathering and making dinner tonight since I vowed to not use any resources that Prossy didn't have- minus fresh water from the sink- so no electric mixers/food processors and no short cuts allowed. I can't believe Prossy did this daily for us.



When was the last time you asked yourself, "Why Me?"

Not "whyyyyyy meee?" like you have some bone to pick with God.

But, "why me?"... like how did I get here and not there?

When I see the tragedy of Haiti or drive 30 minutes south of my house into Mexico or look through the pictures of my months in Uganda, I can't help but ask myself, "Why me?"

Why is my house still standing, why are there 3 cars in my driveway, why did I get to go to college, why do I have fresh water in my pipes in 6 different faucets, why do I have any money in my bank account, why is my family healthy, why did I not die at 17 in a car crash, why have I never lived in a mud hut?

Speaking of mud huts though: some of my family actually has lived in a mud hut. Becky and Billy spent their first 6 months of life in one and and the next 5 in an orphanage and trust me, there is a very stark contrast to what those two kids consider "normal" today.

As far as I was concerned, I never thought it was really possible for someone to live on less than $1-$2 a day. I even doubted that statistic all together. I mean homeless people with a sign and a tin can in San Diego live on more than that. I didn't "get it" until I wandered through the streets of a village in Uganda, just minutes from the nearest "city". Here's how it is done:

  • you have no water bill. to get water, you either walk long distances to get fresh water in jugs you carry or you go to a closer, often unsafe source.
  • you grow/catch/hunt/raise your own food and barter for what you need. You share with your family and neighbors. you eat very little and only what is locally available. Ie: if your country's climate doesn't grow grapes, then you don't eat them. Etc.
  • you don't have property taxes or a house payment, cuz your home is made from sticks, mud, wood, bricks, grasses, and other locally available resources.
  • you have no electrical bill, no cable bill, no satellite bill, no internet bill, and no mail box to get them in anyway.
  • you have little more in clothing than what is on you
  • you have no furniture
  • you have no life insurance, car insurance, dental care, or health insurance
  • you have no car and walk or take cheap public transportation everywhere you go.

And you don't just live in "Africa". What I described is "extreme global poverty"and it hits people all over the world. And not one or two. Not even hundreds or thousands. What I described is BILLIONS!!!!

So, my answer to "Why Me?" is not really all that clear. What I do know is 2 things:
  1. I may have made some good choices along the way, but I did not die on the battle field to ensure I could. I did not choose my parents or the social class they belong to. I did not grow up in the 1500's. I did not choose to become a citizen of the wealthiest country on the planet. I did not do a lot of things that have radically shaped my life and who I am today.
  2. I can do some things to make a difference with what I've been given. I can and must!
There are some great ways I try to help both practically and financially.
  • I give to KIVA: an amazing way to lend to small business with as little as $25, and the small businesses you lend to, pay you back!
  • We sponsor children around the world in organizations like World Vision.
  • We give fresh water via people like Charity Water.
  • And most recently, I gave my days wages to One Days Wages.
Regarding One Day's Wages, it was started just this past September by a college friend, fellow pastor, and Alpha Gamma Omega fraternity brother of mine, Eugene Cho... and it is a GREAT ORGANIZATION with a simple and yet profound vision:

To end extreme global poverty and to fight the issues that are systemic from it.

How do they intend to do this? By rallying people around the globe to give just 0.4% of their annual income to the task. Yep, Just ONE DAY'S WAGE.

  1. Join the over 770,000 fans of their facebook page. Follow their Twitter feed. Just pump whatever avenues you have to make some noise about this group.
  2. Visit their website and let their wage calculator tell you what your daily wage is and give it to the cause. One day's wage.
  3. Give these two short 3 minute videos a listen. They will inspire and challenge you.


Sunday, February 07, 2010


Today was a day that I don't think I could have done church any better. Truth is I'm our own worst critic and I don't say this often, but this Sunday was legit.

  • Student involvement was high.
  • Our hosts did a great job with the morning.
  • The room environment was fun and there were moments of laughter.
  • Several conversations I had this week with volunteers and students paid dividends.
  • Our team worked together well.
  • The music was so well done and inspiring and honest and encouraging.
  • We used relevant pieces from youth culture and solid conclusions from Scripture on the subject of dating.
  • I told someone that if I could have done baptisms afterwards, it would have been an A+
  • A freshman guy said to me after first service, "Hey, that was a great message." Another student sent me this text: "Great message today brother. Hit it dead on." Another one is asking me questions about the Bible Study I put in every outline so he can do it on his own. Are you kidding me? I never get feedback like that! Never! And certainly not from the teen guys in our group.
So, you'd think I'd be on cloud nine.

Yeah, that's the hardest thing about being a youth pastor in my opinion. 16 years of youth ministry and I'm not sure I ever feel like it's enough. I know too much about the bigger picture.
  • I heard about a parent who is concerned about "clique" and how her student doesn't want to come. No matter how long I do this job, this one still bugs me. Is there a church on the planet that does not have cliques? Never mind, don't answer that.
  • Another gal was upset by something this morning (maybe totally unrelated to encounter)- but she was in tears outside and I when I went to help, it was clear she didn't want to talk to me. I didn't have another female leader who knew her well to connect with her. That killed me.
  • I called out the same table of 3 freshmen guys for ignoring me and talking in my message 3x in first service.
  • A bunch of my small group guys were not there and don't seem to be concerned about it.
  • I had a another parent say to me their student doesn't need to hear a discussion on dating because their student is not allowed to date anyway. I don't think that was the point. This left me scratching my head for hours.
  • There are 130 students in 2 services, not nearly enough adults, and way too many faces I don't have names for, family stories, or the ability to tell you a bunch about.
  • For every student who is invested, owns the ministry, and can't get enough of it, there's 2 more who are on the fence and don't seem to really connect and 10 more who are not in any church anywhere.
It is so hard to rejoice in the good when you're aware of the not-so-good that is waiting for you on your desk just 2 buildings away.


Friday, February 05, 2010


I could write for days about the deep need in me for real friendships with men my age in a similar life stage. I could write about hopes and dreams and hurt and regret as I have pursued this over the years.

But that said, last weekend was like therapy for me. I have been planning last weekend through over 2 years of conversations.

4 days in Huntington Beach with 4 friends in ministry.

Our agenda:
  • eat well
  • play
  • talk about life, ministry, marriage, parenting, our souls
  • deep, authentic, real, vulnerable, brutally honest, life on life friendships
  • long term and tight knit group
It was all that and more. Not sure I've ever been on a ministry conference or retreat that was better for my inner peace than these few days.

And as a bonus, we stayed in a SWEET donated pad just blocks from the beach/main street pier downtown. But it wasn't really even the location so much as it was the craftsmanship that I fell in love with. I really really LOVE a house with amazing woodwork. I would have just moved my family in and said, we're not going anywhere. I wished I could have been on the design end of this house. It easily has $200,000 in cabinetry and finish work alone. The wainscoting up 3 stories of staircases was to die for and nearly every room had beautiful built in units... not to mention gorgeous hard wood floors throughout.

I know it was really all about the friendships, but dang I dug this house.



At journey last weekend we had a parenting seminar.  This was the fourth one we've had since I've been here and was the first time we:

  • combined with children's ministry to reach an audience of parents beyond just student ministry.
  • had it on a Sunday afternoon/ evening instead of a Saturday morning/lunch.
  • had Kara Powell from Fuller Seminary come and share her learnings from research and her own experience. 
It was a long day, but in the end, it was probably one of the best things I've been apart of all school year.  I loved the reminders.  I loved the learnings.  I loved the chance to do life with 130 parents who are trying to raise kids who love God along with me.

Here's my take aways I'm still stewing on and will be for years ahead:
  • I really really really want to raise up kids who "Know how to think and not just what to think".  If you asked me what is my mantra in ministry and as a parent, this might be it.
  • Faith that sticks is integrated.  If students learn how to express faith in part of their life without it being the central thing of their life, then it's not going to last.  It will be chucked when it is convenient.  Identity and behavior must be married to one another. 
  • Students need multiple mentors, from multiple generations, no matter how good ones parenting is. 
  • My faith story must be authentic and vulnerable before my watching kids if theirs is truly going to be authentic, vulnerable, and real.
  • Parenting is hard.  It is what God has called me to.  I cannot let up on a commitment to being excellence in this task.
  • Part of a parent's role is to fill the emotional tank of their kid and if we fail to do this, someone else will and who knows what fuel they'll try to fill it with. 
  • Quality time is an accident that happens during Quantity time.  This is true and pure genius. 



Tonight we came home from church and Shannon worked with Becky to yank out her tooth.

My pretty little girl is toothless.  I told her I'd glue it back in.  She says that there's a new one coming that I can't see.  Mom and I clearly are telling different stories.

She is now lying in bed with one eye open waiting for some silent tinker bell lookin' girl with money to kiss her and take her tooth for money.  I hope the tooth fairy doesn't get caught.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010


I never woulda guessed it. But Italy exists in San Diego. And no, I'm not talking about "Little Italy". I'm talkin' about the real deal, Gondola boat opera singing thing.

About a year ago, I subscribed to some e-mail in San Diego called the groupon. It's basically a "coupon" that is activated by group buy in. If "x" people want it, then you can have it for "x" bucks. Well I saw one back in September for a romantic private boat ride date for two for $40. Ok, so I'm cheap and a sucker and I clicked on it.

And it was for the Gondola company.

Who woulda known? ... but down in San Diego Bay, just south Coronado and Silver Strand beach, there is a company that gives hour long gondola boat rides in the bay next to multi-million dollar estates from like 3pm to midnight, 7 days a week or something like that. So, last Saturday, Shannon and I spent my coupon and went at 5:30pm. Just in time to get to see the sunset and some stars too.

We drank champagne and ate chocolate covered strawberries while our boat guy sang italian opera. Seriously, dude asked us if we wanted him to sing about half way into our ride and he busted out some opera thing in Italian. I won't lie to you, it was some crazy combo of romantic, silly, cheezy, and fun. But I didn't tell Shannon and I surprised her and it wasn't an anniversary or birthday or nothing, so I scored and looked like the man. 3 cheers for groupon and e-mail and Italian boat rower guys.

So if you're looking for some crazy date night in San Diego, you should surprise your spouse and hit it up.

OH AND WORD TO THE WISE: If you're going to propose to your girlfriend though, ask about the track record of the boat driver first. Ours had one right before we got on and she said, "yes." He said he had a co-worker who has had the girl say "no" 7 times in a row. Don't get on that guys boat.... or at least don't suprise your girlfriend on that guys boat :)


Monday, February 01, 2010


A few weeks back, we started the berrytribe point jars.

Tonight was a classic night for them. Here's a window into our world for all you reality TV junkies.


After dinner, everyone wanted to "buy" desert. A big cookie was selling for 2 green chips.

  • Jake assessed the situation and with 7 chips, he bought one. Usually he just says, "how much for an banana." I say, "it's free", and he eats fruit instead, saving his chip for some kinda windfall.
  • Tyler sizes up his loot and buys one too.
  • Becky and Billy just straight up buy a cookie, ignoring how many chips are left after said purchase.
  • TJ did something yesterday that landed him a black chip (I wasn't here. I don't even know what it was for, but it was there) and he was still 2 green chips away from redemption, so he didn't get a cookie. Last time I saw him, he was reading stories to siblings, doing dishes, and working on homework trying to dig out of his hole. It worked. Still no cookie. But he's free from debt :)

Then, after dinner, I asked Tyler if he would go start the shower for his brother.

He said "sure", stopped playing his computer game and ran up stairs almost immediately to start the shower. I was all prepared to award some green chips for his actions and attitude.

The next thing I know, Billy is crying. Alone. Upstairs in the bathroom.

I go upstairs to see what has happened and the kid is standing there naked crying. I ask what's wrong and he says he needs help with the shower. After like a 3 minute conversation about how standing naked crying is not a good solution to any problem in the world and 4 practice rounds of leaving the bathroom to come down the hall and ask for help, I finally check the water which has been running the whole time.

[SIDE NOTE: sometimes I think Billy forgets he is not in the orphanage anymore and his brain freezes and all of a sudden he is parentless and alone in some jungle of confusion. I think next time I'm just gonna splash him until he snaps out of it :) ]

... Back to the water I was checking. Yeah. It's freezing. FREEZING. So, I set the temperature correctly and started the shower for him.

I then go find Tyler and ask him if he "started the shower". He said, "Yes. You asked me to start the shower for Billy so I did."

I said, "Really, I coulda chilled my soda with the water spewing out".

He said, "You asked me if I'd start the shower and I did. I told Billy which way to turn the shower to get it hotter and what to pull to make the shower go and then left."

I said, "Congratulations, you just landed yourself a black chip. Next time I ask you to start the shower for a sibling, don't do it half way and then tell me all I asked you to do was start water flowing down the drain for fun." Unbelievable. From selfless saint to selfish punk inside of 60 seconds.

There you go. Parenthood in the craziness that is the berrytribe.



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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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