Thursday, November 24, 2011


My family did the "normal" stuff for us again this year.  I bbq'd the bird.  My mom and Shannon's mom made the "side dishes" and desserts.  TJ finished the whole leg for the first time. The "blessing pot" was passed around (I'll write about that next time) and our post-meal dominos game was fun.  Bottom line: our table was full and we are all thankful for so much.   Seriously, I am beyond blessed.

One random reminder of that fact is oddly enough, the pile of legos that is in the "playroom" at our house.  I've had some of the pile for over 30 years and the rest is stuff my kids have steadily addd to on their own via gifts for the last 10 years.  It's grown to be a GINORMOUS pile of legos that probably weighs close to 80 pounds.  It has parts from space ships, planes, star wars, cities, police, castles, cars, and so much more. Really, it's gotta be at least 100,000 bricks and such.

Well, while in Disneyland earlier this month for Shannon's b-day we poked around in Downtown Disney and went into the Lego store to poke around.  While in there, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the pile of bricks in the corner that were in bins sorted by color and style. It was like magnetic for me and it really bad made me want to fill a ginormous cup with parts and pieces and just buy bricks by the pound like I was 10 again.  I did not do that, but what I did do was think, "I bet if we organized our bricks at home like this, we'd have a great time playing with them."  I bet I would have a great time playing with them.

So, last night Jake and I started sorting bricks in search of new inspiration.  We commandeered a rolling bin from my wife that was not being regularly used and started sorting away into it.  The result was awesome (we're still only 1/3 of the way done though) and it also came with 3 reminders:

Seriously, we still have pieces I've had since I was 8.  I used to carry them around in a green pillow case with a draw string.  Now the pile is simply too big.  I don't even want to add up how much money we've spent over the year building this set of bricks.  It is A LOT though whatever it is.

Clean your office and you'll feel more productive.  If you organize toys... old toys become new.  When you clean your car, you want to drive it more.  I mean even when you clean your own body, you feel better.   If your life lacks some inspiration, trying re-imagining a space you're in.  We cleaned up the pile and made it into style and shape piles and the result was a forgotten pile of bricks became a blank slate of newness to enjoy.  Cleaning stuff up is simply inspiring for everyone.

Creativity is a terrible thing to waste and legos are just as fun if you're 10 or if your'e 40.   I found every white one I could get my hands on and told my kids, "I'm gonna build the white house".  TJ then started building a horse stable/police station/jail thing. Jake and Billy made houses.  Becky chose a hospital.  Tyler chose a fire station.  No plans.  No directions. Just a pile of bricks and an active imagination. So much fun.  The pictures don't show it... but these buildings are all like 5 inches tall and as long as 18".   I think everybody should have a pile of bricks in their life somewhere.  So go ahead, be a kid again.  


Thursday, November 17, 2011


Several years ago, we set a goal in our youth ministry to sponsor one kid on every continent that we could sponsor a kid on as a youth ministry.   We're not there yet, but so far, our Encounter High School Ministry sponsors 5 kids or organizations monthly by asking students to bring $1 a week to our weekend services to help us sponsor them.  Here's who we've been sponsoring for quite some time now:

  1. A boy named Marvin in El Salvador through World Vision
  2. A girl named Ruby in India through World Vision
  3. A girl named Luyando in Zambia through World Vision
  4. A boy named Hector in Tecate, Mexico through HIS Ministries.
  5. An orphanage called Welcome Home where I adopted 2 kids from in Uganda
We are still very much committed to trying to help our students wrap their heads around the larger needs in the world through education and action for those who live in extreme poverty and this month, we did 2 things to add some more fuel to this fire:


We made a day trip to Mexico on 11/11/11 to visit Hector and some of his peers at a Day Care center in Tecate where he goes daily and through which we sponsor him. In the process, we played with him, loved on him, put a name to a real face with some of our students and Hector, and we brought he and his family some food & household basics:  rice, beans, flour, sugar, potatoes, avocados, salsa, salt, oil, pots/pans, dish soap, and laundry detergent.   In the process, we found out that Hector's Dad whom I've met before recently left his mom for another woman and kicked Hector's mom and he and his siblings out of the house.  They are now living full time at the daycare center.  Words cannot describe how huge an impact this partnership is having with our students and Hector's family.  Maybe these pictures might help.


We partnered with One Meal, One Day - an event that Compassion International puts on and we invited our students to skip a meal (or all their meals for a day) and bring the money they would have spent on food that day to youth group for a worship event so we could sponsor the poor around the world.

The result?   Students fasted and prayed and gave $354 toward the Famine in the Horn of Africa and pledged enough money each week for us to add another child to our sponsor list.   I'm so excited to introduce our students to a girl from Thailand that we now sponsor through Compassion International.   Her name is Keke.  May God use our youth ministry to completely transform her life as we partner with Compassion.

Here's some pictures to tell this new story.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I sometimes post stuff over on on a blog called Slant 33.  It's a blog where 3 people give their slant on an issue at hand that relates to youth ministry and youth pastors.

I recently posted an article in response to the question, "How do you find safe friendships at church?"  Here's part of what I wrote.

Let me just start by affirming two things: 1) We all need safe friendships at church. All of us. 2) When you’re the youth pastor or youth leader, they are hard to find.  
Part of this is because you spend a lot of time with teens, and teens are not safe or healthy for accountability for you. So, the group you work with—unlike an adult ministry—is not a possible option for a safe friendship. Another reason is that, unless you’re at a really big church, if you’re the youth pastor, the pastors on your team are often people you answer to. Try as you may, it’s really hard to have a safe friendship with your boss who signs your checks or, when you confess your sins, doesn’t also muddy it with your leadership responsibilities. Which leads us to another reason we both need and find it hard to have safe friendships. Everyone around us is looking to us for leadership and guidance, and a safe friendship is one where you can be the uninhibited you. In a safe friendship, you share joys without creating jealousy and failures without creating judgment. So it’s hard. Understanding all of that, here are a few thoughts about how... 

Well, now next week I have another slant that is due, and this time, I'm wondering if you have thoughts you might want to contribute to the process.  Here's the next question I have until Nov. 21 to post a response to:


Weigh in through the comments if you want.  I have a few ideas of my own, but what are some of the cliche's that come to mind from your vantage point?


Friday, November 11, 2011


This year I have a middle schooler again in my house.  Just as TJ exited stage right and headed into high school, Ty entered on stage left.  This week he went off to 6th grade science camp so I thought in his honor I'd talk about the joy of Middle School in my home.

I can't speak for all Middle School Boys- and I've been a high school pastor primarily for the last 18 or so years of my life- but just in case he's stereo-typical, here's what I've been reminded of about Middle School boys again:

MIDDLE SCHOOL BOYS LIKE TO LAUGH AND EAT.   He likes inside jokes especially and most of the time comes back from his small group telling me about something that he thought was silly and whatever they ate.  He just got back from middle school camp today and I asked him how it was and he said, "GREAT". I thought this was awesome and asked why.  His single word answer was "Food".  Evidently the self-select all-you-can-eat buffet was great for this growing boy.  He is very proud of how much pizza he managed to pack away on pizza night.  It's like a badge of honor or something.  

MIDDLE SCHOOL BOYS LIKE TO SERVE AND BE SIGNIFICANT.  Tyler wants to serve.  He begs me to get up early on Sunday and come and help in the sound booth.  I'm his soccer coach and he decided to cut soccer and left me on the sidelines alone with the team one week to go join our Middle School ministry for a community service day that was here in San Diego with a bunch of churches a few weeks back.  We have a GREAT middle school ministry that he LOVES and they sent me these pics of him after the serve weekend.  So great.  So much fun.  I love the smiles on his face in these pics.  I love how he feels believed in and how he is striving to be a significant difference maker in his world.  

MIDDLE SCHOOL BOYS ARE CREATIVE.  Tyler makes duct tape wallets, watches youtube videos to steal and gather new ideas, and most recently, got together with his fellow middle school buddy from our street to make his first ever custom Halloween costume.  Tyler made it by himself using our printer, some paint, some glue, and a a couple of cardboard boxes.  He was a soda vending machine and our neighbor was a candy machine.  Too funny and so creative.  It's like he's just oozing with a desire for more of that. 

MIDDLE SCHOOL BOYS ARE CONSTANTLY GROWING AND CHANGING.  It's like his body is in full fledged tilt mode.  Changes are knocking on the door of childhood and his body is pushing him into a young man. He just lost a molar last week & it was as if his body was saying, "Get the child out, it's time to grow up now!"  As a dad, I both want to embrace and celebrate the change and also put the brakes on it too.  I'm eager to see who he will become as a young man, but I'm celebrating his fleeting childhood right now too as it's literally ticking away day by day.

I love me this Middle School boy.  


Monday, November 07, 2011


Hey friends.

The statistics on this blog say hundreds of you visit this blog weekly. Thanks so much.

If you noticed, I started blogging 5x a week in January and stopped for the summer. Then when I got back it was fall and work, family, and coaching hit the full swing of fall and I got considerably more inconsistent.  Then the demands of several other writing contracts hit and well, I failed at blogging.

The main conflict with carving out time to blog was finding time to carve out time to write as I've been in the crunch season of my first "real book" that's due out early next year.

It's titled "As for me and my crazy house" and is tagged "Learning to protect your heart, marriage, and family from the demands of ministry".

I'll blog some more about it soon and am turning in my manuscript to the publisher today.  But in the meantime, I need some cover feedback.  I have one art piece from the publisher and one from a friend and I'm looking for your votes.  It won't tell you who did what or which one I like and why, but I'm wondering what you think.  If you click on either of them you should get a bigger picture to view.

We'll call this one COVER 1- the door.

We'll cal this one COVER 2- the house.

So how about it?  Which one do you like?  Any feedback on colors and such?  Go ahead and comment away, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011


I was sitting in our high school youth group on Sunday and we were having a pumpkin coloring contest.  You know, like kindergarden where you have a sheet of paper with a giant pumpkin on it and a box of crayons to color with.  It was awesome I tell you... and it gave us 7 minutes of mindless and pointless competition to talk through as we raced to color the award winner.  It was great fun.

As I sat and colored during our 9am service and asked about how the weekend was, most told me about the homecoming football game.   I went to one this year for the first time in a long time and sat in the stands and tried to be an observer.  Since TJ was the first of 10 years of high school in the Berrytribe, my wife and I figured it was a good tradition to start.  So we took the family on Friday night for the homecoming game at Steele Canyon.

But as we talked, one of them said that a local high school in our community, Patrick Henry, elected a lesbian girl to be prom King.  I thought they were joking or surely had their story wrong.   But it turns out they did not.  I went searching and found the news story.  Patrick Henry High School named a girl "homecoming king".  Why?   Because she says she's attracted to girls and therefore can be king?

I don't get it.

Is this just a way for high school students to mock the process and call the contest stupid in the first place? If so then I get it a little.

Or is this legit? And if so, I'm back to not getting it.  Regardless of your views on same sex attraction, isn't homecoming King for a man and Queen for a woman?   If the school let the students give a girl the "homecoming King" award, what else can she/he do?   Does that mean she can use the men's restroom at the dance?  What other gender specific roles will the administration allow students to redefine?  Can men now claim to be women and do the same thing?  What if a gay man wants to play girls volleyball, can he?

Is there really this much confusion over anatomy?  It's not a sexuality issue in my mind, it's biology 101.

I still don't get it.

Turns out the girl who won homecoming Queen is the newly elected homecoming "King's" girlfriend. But homecoming is not a dating couple contest, it's one guy and one gal elected to be King and Queen of a dance and usually awarded during a football game.  So in other words, if they elect a lesbian girl as queen, her King is not her default date for the prom, he's just a guy at school who won the opposite gender award.  So why the need to elect a dating couple of any gender combination in the first place?

But what do I know. I'm evidently crazy... and this officially makes high school ministry an entirely different world than the one I went to school in.  I'm gonna stop telling students it's kinda like when I was in high school.  Evidently I'm late to the party I've been at for a long time.  Seriously late.

Only rich drug dealers used to have suitcase sized mobile phones. Now even drug-free students have phones smaller than my wallet.

Writing notes to people you liked used to be so cool & a way to cheat on tests.  Now you date, cheat on tests, and even break up with your date via text msg in an entirely different classroom.

I went to school in the late 80's.  Now they have 80's day at high school to mock my coolness.

And now the King is a Queen.

I sound like my grandpa.  I must be getting old.



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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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