Monday, December 31, 2007

Best Sports Stories of 2007

1. The Anaheim Ducks win the Stanley Cup!! See my post here.

2. UCLA fires Karl Dorrel - read my request for his ousting on September 15 here.

3. The Angels sign Torii Hunter. We didn't get the big bat yet, but this will help.

4. Joey Chestnut beating Kobayashi in the Hot Dog eating contest. USA! USA! USA!

5. Stanford beating USC. They say this could possibly be the greatest upset of all time because of the implications for USC. I love when USC has implications.

6. The Comeback Season for Brett Favre - I can't help but love the guy, plus he was on my Fantasy Team this year.

7. The Patriots go 16-0. Wow! You love to hate them, but they are pretty amazing.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best TV Shows of 2007 (That I've Seen)

The Best:
1. The Office - This show is smart, funny, and weird. The best part is that it's almost always "funny cause it's true."

2. The Unit - I get made fun of because of how much I like this show. I hate most the parts about the lives of the wives, but the missions they do are the coolest on TV. The missions are better than any 24 episode.

3. The Soup - this show is on "E" on Friday nights and is hilarious. Joel McHale, the host, has the best comedic timing of anyone. The clips of shows from the week are sidesplittingly funny. I also love that they don't redo the takes when he messes up.

4. 30 Rock - the writing and the guest stars are awesome on this show. I love Alec Baldwin in comedic roles. My favorite scene is when you have Alec Baldwin in a tuxedo and someone says, "Why are you so dressed up?" He replies, "It's after 5pm. What am I? A farmer?" Classic.

5. CSI, CSI NY, Law & Order SVU - these are all pretty much the same show to me and I love them all.

6. Scrubs - laugh out loud funny.

The Way Down (disappointments):
1. Man vs. Wild - why does he have to be a faker? Bear Grylls is so much more entertaining than the Survivorman guy.
2. 24 - they need to do something new this year or this show is finished.
3. Lost - I love this show but it has been so long since I have seen it that I don't even remember it. They are going to need a refresher episode.
4. Survivor - will it ever end? We used to love this show but it's just boring now.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best Experiences of 2007

1. Birth of Elizabeth Noel Wakeling
The birth of our second daughter in June was amazing. She was taking a while to come and then suddenly burst out before the doctor could even bring the stirrups out. She had a mohawk from birth and she is an amazing little girl.

2. 10 Year Anniversary
On July 5, 1997 I married my amazing wife Bea. We stayed at the Grand Wailea in Maui back in March for the celebration of our anniversary because of Experience #1 above.

3. Trip to Kenya
Going to Africa for the first time with high school students from Calvary Church was definitely life-changing. You can read all about it at the Calvary to Kenya blog.

4. Coaching Grace in AYSO Soccer

This was crazy as Ella was born about a week into the season and we only missed one game. It was a good way for Grace to feel loved and receive attention during the newborn phase for Ella. I was a little nervous because I hadn't played soccer since I was 11 and I have never coached soccer. But they were four-year-olds. It was fun, silly, and pretty rewarding. Check some pics at this post here.

5. Watching the Anaheim Ducks win the Stanley Cup.

Every round of the playoffs was intense. This was especially fun after hanging out with my family up in Canada this year and trash talking about the Canucks and Ducks. Also, with my buddy Ashdown having to listen to me gloat after his beloved Detroit Yankees lost to the now-mighty Ducks. Hopefully, now that Scott Niedermayer is back we can regain some of the glory from last year.

Honorable Mentions:
Getting a promotion at church.
Living in an apartment for the first time since college.
Looking for a new home.
Dropping out of my PhD program.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Best Movies of 2007 (That I've Seen)

I know that many of these didn't come out in 2007, but that's when I saw them. Hey, I have kids. We don't go to movies often. Of these six films, we saw two in the theater.
The Best:
The Bourne Supremacy - I think Matt Damon is one of my favorite action movie stars. He kicks butt in a cool and somehow believable way. I like that he's not huge and buff like Arnold or Sly and he's not a martial arts expert. He is just well-trained and kicks butt. I loved these books when I read them while traveling Europe so to see them turned into amazing films has been really fun. Also, why do I love Julia Stiles??
Dan in Real Life - This movie surprised me and made me cry. Anything father/daughter seems to get me and this definitely had those scenes. I am just so blown away by the range of Steve Carell. Think about the despair in his character from Little Miss Sunshine, the annoyingly hilarious Michael Scott in The Office, the big star in Evan Almighty, and the pained and awkward widower in Dan in Real Life. He is an actor.
Blood Diamond - this was probably my favorite movie of 2007. Leonardo DiCaprio is SO GOOD! I don't even like him normally. It's truly a story of personal redemption and sacrificial love. Leo is a messianic archetype in the film (not without sin of course) and I love those kind of roles. Great action. Exposes injustice. And I went to Africa last summer and I watched this movie on the plane ride home so that gave it a pretty cool context.

UPDATE: I forgot HOT FUZZ on the Best List. That movie was amazing. See it now.

The Worst:

Facing the Giants - this movie completely frustrated me as a "Christian" film. It's everything that is wrong with "Christian" film-making. Horrible plot-line where everything goes right if they become Christian. No more problems. Cheesy with a capital V for VELVEETA.
Nacho Libre - Here's what I think. Everyone that likes this movie, likes it because they think they are supposed to or will be cool if they like it. This movie was STUPID and BORING!! Jack Black needs to retire and retire now!
Hollywoodland - Oh my gosh, if you haven't seen this movie and are suffering from insomnia, go rent this film. It will put you right to sleep. Boring, contrived, and some of the worst acting ever from good people like Adrian Brody. Is Ben Affleck the worst actor on earth? The answer is a resounding, YES!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Best Books of 2007 (That I've Read)

I'm starting a "Best Of" thread of posts because I love that kind of stuff.

Best Books of 2007 (That I've Read)
1. Church Related Category - Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. I love the message of this book of making church more simple. Create one simple statement that says what you are about as a church. Then devote yourselves wholly towards that purpose. Finally, basically ignore everything else or let it be icing on the cake. The cake needs to be simple and the cake is the most important part. I want to be Simple Church in 2008 after reading it in 2007. Other than the Bible this will be the book that drives Calvary Church this year - IMHO.

2. Novel Category - I liked Kite Runner, but A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway began my strange love for this uniquely talented and depressed author. I hated the book when I finished it, but it has left a wonderful aftertaste for the last several months. It is a drunken love story set in WWI where an American soldier meets a British girl in Italy. They fall in love when he is injured and she is the nurse. The dialog is the most interesting I have ever read. Hemingway's style is staccato and witty. They get married, she gets pregnant, they escape to Switzerland, and then they keep drinking too much and taking too much anesthesia and everybody dies except the soldier.

3. Honorable Mentions:
Reveal by Willow Creek.
When Pride Mattered - A biography of Vince Lombardi.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thoughts

1. I'm getting into the new position at church of Executive Pastor of Ministry. Things are going pretty well. We have formed our Strategic Leadership Team of a group of 9 pastors who will meet weekly to cast vision, create strategy, and delegate tasks to accomplish our general vision of making disciples through Connect, Grow, Reach. I have been meeting with people who I will now be working with and people have been supportive and excited for our future.

2. Ella is doing well with the eating. It's still pretty funny as she doesn't totally understand swallowing food from a spoon. We did bananas today for her first fruit.

3. My dad bought a Lexus SUV. It's a 2005, but he is still a punk.

4. My Fantasy Football team will lose if Chicago can't score one more touchdown in the 4th quarter. It's the semi-finals and I don't want to lose to Pizzuto.
UPDATE: I lost to Pizzuto. Sad.

5. I have some of Bea's Christmas shopping and all of the kids shopping done, but I haven't done anybody else. I need to get on that.

6. We did a bunch of filming on Friday and today for our College Group Christmas Party video. The party's theme is after the tv show, The Office. So the video is called The Student Ministries Office. I am playing myself, but as the Michael character. I think it will be pretty funny. It's frightening, really frightening, how much Michael I have in me.

7. I need a day away for prayer - soon. I'm feeling my tank emptying quicker than usual and really feel the need for connection to God. I love when you are in a new area of challenge that causes you to remember how much you need God.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ella's First "Solid" Food





We fed Ella rice cereal for the first time today. It's pretty hilarious when kids eat with a spoon for the first time. She gags and makes a disgusted face. She is starting to swallow some of it. Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Letter to Darfur

Dear Darfuri Refugee,

I need to tell you about something horrible happening here in the United States. You may not believe it but it is actually true. You see, here in America we have these giant stores that sell things like furniture, clothing, hammers and waffle irons. These stores get very busy during the month of December because lots of people buy presents for their friends and family to celebrate holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah. Over the past few years many of these stores have stopped issuing the usual "Merry Christmas" greeting to shoppers and on their mail order catalogs and instead say, "Happy Holidays". I know, it is hard to imagine, isn't it!?! Here we are trying to live out the true meaning of Christmas by spending lots of money on things people need really bad, and we can't even get a little "Merry Christmas" from the check out girl.

Well, I knew you of all people would be able to relate with our difficult plight, since in your country of Sudan over the past few years over 200,000 of your people have been murdered through acts of genocide and 2.5 million have been forced from their homes like you and now live as refugees. I hope you will forward this email to your people so they will understand the atrocities happening here in the United States and will be encouraged that they are not the only people in the world who are suffering.

Merry Christmas!
Your Concerned American Friend
www.savedarfur.org

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Job

Well, it's official. We announced to our Calvary Church staff today that I am moving into a new position. Starting sort of now and officially in January, I am the Executive Pastor of Ministry at Calvary Church. Michael is the Executive Pastor of Administration. If you're not in ministry, it's like Michael is the CFO and I am the COO of the company under the CEO/Senior Pastor.

This is a huge change for me. I will be overseeing the majority of the ministries of Calvary Church including having a level of oversight of the school and preschool. We have something like 150 employees in the church, school, and preschool. So this is a big responsibility. I feel like this is the kind of position that God has created me for. It's going to be a challenge with preaching still in our Elevation service about 15 times per year, giving some direct oversight to Mens Ministry, and overseeing Children's, Students, Young Adults, Outreach, Assimilation, Counseling, Recovery, Small Groups, Adult Ed, Seniors, and some other ministries.

I also can recognize that I am on the younger side for a position like this. But I know that's part of why I am in this position - to bring a fresh and new approach to ministry at Calvary Church. Please pray for me and for a ton of other changes taking place at Calvary.

One of the biggest aspects of this change for me is that I won't be a "Youth Pastor" anymore. My identity (for better or for worse) has been pretty tied into being a youth pastor. It's odd to be on the other side. I think I will be grieving that for a little while.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Church Security

Did you realize that New Life Church heard about the YWAM shootings and beefed up their security? They had an armed security guard on the premises who was the person that shot and killed the gunman who had killed the church-goers. They said they had a plan for this kind of thing.

Right now my prayers are with the families who lost loved ones. But this is such an interesting question - should churches have armed security guards? Maybe just high profile churches? It's also crazy to think that a paid church "employee" shot and killed someone? I know that this security guard saved tons of lives and I'm not saying we shouldn't protect ourselves, but it's just an odd thing to think about - church staff with guns.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Happy Hanukkah!!



Last night we celebrated the fourth night of Hanukkah and Shabbat with some great friends. Some good friends of ours are Jewish and I love sharing the Jewish traditions with them and with our children. It seems to me that most Christians forget that everything we believe about God has been through him working through His chosen people, the Israelites or Hebrews or Jews.

First Marilee lit the candles of Shabbat or Sabbath because it was Friday and shared a prayer and we broke Challah break and passed it around and drank the fruit of the vine. They do an incredible job of bringing Christ into the Jewish traditions and rituals. It's almost hard not to bring Christ into it because it's so obviously pointing straight towards Him.

Then Matt shared the Hanukkah story with all of us, including the 10 kids present. Then they lit the servant candle representing Christ who then lights the other four candles which represents sharing the Light of the World with others. Then we enjoyed some tasty latkes and other great food. We also learned about and played some dreidel games. Hanukkah is a great story of God's faithfulness to His people and to preserving the line of Christ who is the Light of the World. Awesome. I love that myself and my family have friends like this with whom we can celebrate the richness of this tradition.

See Erin's blog for pictures of the kids. She took the pictures in this post.

Friday, December 07, 2007

In a Blog Funk Again

This is another one of those moments in life when there are big things going on that I can't write about on my blog but it's hard to have anything else on my mind. More to come soon.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas Tree

We got our tree on Saturday morning and did the whole thing with decorating the house, drinking MarieBelle hot cocoa, and playing with the ornaments. I should post pictures but I'm too lazy right now. I love Christmas. We bought a really cool advent calendar for Grace and we put Bible verses on little pieces of paper in every other day with the toys or pieces of our olive-wood nativity set from Bethlehem. We put the verses in every other day so that we could work on casually memorizing them. The first verse was, "And she wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger for there was no room at the inn." Today was the angel speaking to Mary, "For nothing is impossible with God." Grace is into it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Church Should Be Simple

I have been reading Simple Church lately and it's a good book. We do make church too complicated. We need to simplify what we do and be willing to cut programs to make the ministry we do more effective. Making disciples is the key. How to do it? Get people to connect with God and each other, grow in their faith and knowledge of God, and then reach out to others in your own community and around the world. That's what makes sense to me. I know there's a lot of opinions on this. This seems basic and sort of "duh" in some ways, but it's so easy to make church about programs - more, more, more! Simple Church = effective church. Any thoughts?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Love Mr. Rogers


Grace and I watch Mr. Rogers in the morning. The guy is awesome. I watched him when I was a kid and now Grace is watching the same thing. Learning about sharing, kindness, what to do when you are angry, feelings, exercise, identity, pretend vs. real, and how things are made. The man was a genius. He was a minister before he started in TV and you can see the fingerprints of Jesus all over his show.

Who else loves the man who changes shoes and sweaters every day?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

14 Years

This January 1st will mark the date that I have been a youth pastor for 14 years. Wow! That's a long time. Being a youth pastor is a wonderful thing. It's crazy how much of my identity is in that role. It's weird to know that I have been in youth ministry longer than some of my students have been alive. I was an intern for about a year before this too so I have been in youth ministry for about 15 years. Just thinking...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Strength Themes

I have done the Strengthfinders test from Now Discover Your Strengths or Living Your Strengths a couple times now. We have been discussing them with our VP3 group at church lately. Here are mine:
Responsibility - this means I feel a deep sense of ownership in the things I do and I feel personally responsible for making things happen.
Significance - this means I want to feel significant in what I do and that I want to do things that have significant meaning. It also has a dark side of needing to be significant or feel important.
Belief - this is where I have to do things that I feel a strong sense of calling about. I have to believe in something for me to succeed in it.
Maximizer - this means I'm gifted at taking something good and making it great rather than starting something new or rescuing something that is in the dumps.
Relator - this means I connect really well with a smaller group of people, but I'm not as good at working the room or talking to people I don't know.

We had a good time yesterday seeing what each others strengths were and how we all relate to each other through them. Who shares strengths? Who has strengths that no one else has?

What are your strengths? What do you think of mine? Agree/Disagree?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Service Sunday


Today is what we call a One Service Sunday at Calvary Church. We cancel all children's, youth, and adult Sunday School classes and have everybody in the big Worship Center for one service at 9:30am. I don't have any responsibilities in today's service. I will show up a bit early and Bea and I will do some greeting, but other than that I am a "normal" church-goer.

I love that I am still sitting on my couch in my pajamas at almost 8:00am.

It's been good to have a restful few days. I feel like this is going to be a big week or two coming up at church.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Headed to Simi

We are leaving tonight to Bea's parents for Thanksgiving. We are going to hang out there until Saturday night. I'm looking forward to just relaxing and chatting and watching football. The boys are going golfing on Saturday which should be really fun. It took Kevin and Michelle 4 hours to get to Simi Valley today when they left at 2:45pm when it normally only takes a bit over an hour. Hopefully leaving at 8pm should be better.

We switch off every other year which family we go to for Thanksgiving. My family does crazy stuff and spends Thanksgiving in Joshua Tree. We eat the whole meal outside after bringing it in containers that keep food warm. We scramble around on the rocks. We have a spot where we know some caves to go spelunking in. Then we make a campfire and everyone smokes a cigar around the fire - even the ladies. It's pretty awesome but totally different. So I also love going to Bea's house where it's the super traditional meal around the table and we all watch football and hang out at the house all day. It's a pretty good arrangement.

Monday, November 19, 2007

On My Own

Yesterday at about 1:00pm my lovely wife, Bea, left for a Lutheran Teacher Conference in Palm Springs for three days. She gets home on Tuesday evening. We had our small group last night which was cool but I was nervous about trying to manage the kids and lead the small group. But Kevin and Michelle come to our small group and so they helped out a ton with the kids.

I'm taking the next couple days off work to just hang out with my sweet daughters. It's funny because I know how to take care of my kids and I love being with them, but I had this mild sense of foreboding as these days were coming.

My biggest fear - doing Grace's hair. She isn't going to look as cute as normal.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Ultimate Date Night

Tomorrow night will be an amazing date night for Bea and me. I can't wait. Kevin and Michelle will be watching the kids overnight. We are having dinner at Pizzeria Mozza in LA which is an incredibly delicious and fun restaurant owned by Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton. I had the best bread and caprese salad of my life there. Then we are heading to see Wicked with decent orchestra level seats. After that we are staying at the Renaissance Hollywood and Highland Hotel and enjoying some Hollywood nightlife there. Then we will have a nice breakfast at the hotel and hang out and shop in LA for the day. We don't have to be home until late afternoon on Saturday.

It's going to be amazing!! Thanks Kevin and Michelle. You rock!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dan in Real Life


Bea and I had a wonderful date night last night where we had a nice dinner and then we went to the movies for the first time in FOREVER. We went to Dan in Real Life because it looked good, Bea didn't want to see American Gangster, and Randy wrote a great review of the film. We didn't know much about the movie ahead of time. We just knew it had Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, and Dane Cook. We thought it would be indie style, but on the lighter side.

We were wrong.

I literally had tears streaming down my cheeks during this film. Without giving too much away, it's a story of a man with three daughters whose wife died four years earlier. They are at a big family reunion of sorts and an awkward love story ensues. Anything that has to do with daughters ruins me because I love my girls so much.

It was fun to watch their family interact. I want to be a family like that. They were honest and fun. They played charades, took walks, played football, ate big meals together, and went bowling.

This was a great film, but don't think of it as a comedy. It's a crying movie.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on God Bless America

I've been thinking about this and I think the biggest thing for me is that in a church service we have opportunities to teach our people something. To teach them a different point of view than what is our default setting as people who live within our western culture. To just thank veterans for fighting for America and say "God Bless America" at the end is not teaching something new to our people. To pray for those fighting because we don't want to see anyone hurt is one step. To say thank you for fighting because now we have religious freedoms is one step, but still obvious. To thank our veterans by praying for those in persecuted nations is good too. But I just thought that putting "God Bless America" at the end just keeps people thinking the same way. To put at the end, "God Bless the Nations" or "God Bless the Whole World" would have taught something that if we are fighting these current wars for democracy around the world would be something our nation should hope for - secular or Christian.

To copy Matt Doan, my prayer for this is:
Thank you God for blessing America in so many ways
Please help us to be a blessing to the world
Please keep the soldiers safe
Please help peace to come to our world

Sunday, November 11, 2007

God Bless America

This past week we were going to show a video for Veteran's Day in church to honor those who have fought for our country. In the past, I have struggled with displays of honoring America during church. But I thought this was going to be really good because Sunday was actually Veteran's Day and also the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. So what we were going to do was show a video honoring vets and then pray thanking God for them and acknowledging that without their sacrifice we might be like one of the persecuted countries. Then we would spend some time praying for those who are persecuted for their faith. (I'm typing this before church so I'm not saying how it went, just what we were going to do).

At the end of the video for veterans it said, "God bless America." I raised my hand and asked if we could change some of the wording to be more about thanking veterans for allowing us to have the religious freedom that we have. I also said, "Could we take out 'God bless America' too because I don't understand it. Don't we want God to bless the world?" People don't understand me sometimes and I think most disagreed with me, but they thought it would be ok to take that out. I just saw the edited version this morning and it still says, "God Bless America" at the end. Oh well. People don't understand me. But I would rather sing and pray that God blesses the nations and that God blesses the oppressed, the hungry, the diseases, the less fortunate, the persecuted, and the hopeless of all nations rather than just saying "God bless America."

Trevor said to me that by saying "God bless America" we are not saying "and forget about everyone else." That has some merit. I do pray for God to bless my family and my children and my ministry, but I'm not praying for God to curse other families or churches. But I still just think there is so much American Pride in evangelicalism that it gets confusing to people. We should be focused on our purpose of loving God through loving people...all people...not just Americans.

Preaching Today

I'm preaching today in Elevation on 2 Samuel 7. Pray for me if you think of it. The service is from 10:45-12noon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Still at ASF, Wanna Join Me?

I'm still volunteering at AIDS Services Foundation (ASF). It's such an interesting place that is doing so much good to help people who are suffering from a horrible disease and who also are low-income/poverty level. The people who work at ASF only have their image of God-ness that is within all humans to motivate them to help those afflicted with HIV/AIDS. It continues to be fascinating in a tragic sort of way that more Christians aren't volunteering at this place and helping to make an impact in a part of the world that needs Christ so badly.

We all have parts of the world that we are called to impact. I don't like when people say that "everyone" should help in something. I have friends who have an Orphan Care Ministry, friends who work at a homeless shelter, friends who work with inner city kids, and friends who build playgrounds across the world. All these are good. A pet peeve of mine is when someone claims that their ministry is the most worthwhile. So that's not what I mean.

What I mean is this: If you feel called to make an impact in the world for Christ, do something. Anything. Just don't sit around and watch TV and that's it. I love my TV shows, but I feel the need to get out there. If you feel called to impact a place that isn't comfortable with the message of Jesus and has people who are poor, sick, and lost, then come join me at ASF.

Click here to volunteer with the Orange County AIDS Services Foundation.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ninja Turtle Mask

Last night a Jr High had a superhero theme and I was wearing a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask covering my whole head. It was fun to walk around and have nobody know who you are. I would walk up to people and not say anything and it would freak them out. They would all say, "Who is that? Who are you?" I would just walk away, but some would guess or get me to laugh and then they would know. It was funny.

Then we rocked out and led worship. Here is a classic Jr High worship moment.

We played a few really loud songs with a ton of energy. The third one was My Glorious and at the end we dropped all the instruments out and we backed off the microphones and all the kids are singing the awesome chorus, "God is bigger than the air I breathe, the world we'll leave, and God will save the day and all will say, My Glorious." In the middle of that sweet moment we had been working towards, the Jr High tech helper accidentally hits the play button on the CD player and the Rocky theme song, "Eye of the Tiger," starts playing real loud throughout the whole room. Let's just say that it broke the mood but it's still something I love about Jr High.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

So Tired

I have felt like my eyes have been super heavy all week and at any moment I could lay down and sleep. Last week was pretty crazy and I think my body is just tired out from it and Ella has been waking up a bit lately in the middle of the night (I'm not complaining though because Bea goes in to get her back to sleep about 95% of the time).

I preach again in Elevation this Sunday and I'm looking forward to it, but it's weird when the last Sunday was so awesome that it takes some effort to get pumped up for this weekend. It's a different focus of a message with God saying no to David about building the temple, but then God says that He will build a house for David. I am also leading worship tonight for Jr High for their BARF Night which is an outreach focused Wednesday night. We are going to rock hard!

I have a lot on my mind with waiting for a response about the house, wanting Moses back soon, thinking about my sermon, thinking creatively about vision and branding for the church, waiting for decisions to be made about the consultant process, and then dealing with some volunteer staff issues at church.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So far, So good

It's been a good day so far. I was pretty nervous about today. I didn't feel as prepared for preaching in Elevation and teaching at our staff meeting than I would have liked to be. But I got to church really early this morning and spent about two hours tightening things up and finishing some stuff that I couldn't get done during the week with all the meetings I was in.

I thought Elevation was amazing today. We talked about 2 Samuel 6 which is the passage where David dances in an "undignified" way before the Lord. I felt like I was really able to "preach it" today and I enjoyed being on stage. There were tearful moments, funny moments, and "gospel preacher" moments. Until I listen to it I'm not sure how my clarity, flow, or delivery was, but I like that the crowd (and myself) were laughing, crying, clapping, and passionately worshiping.

It was a strange morning in a vocabulary sense. Victor said from stage that he felt like he was "on crack" because he was so hyper. Then Dave quoted a lady from the fire relief crew that said "Does it look like I know what the hell I'm doing?" I actually liked it.

Then the staff meeting with a seminar on how to do youth counseling went really well. I'm proud that we are equipping our staff with how to minister to their kids. I was a little disappointed that only about 60% of our staff was there. It must have been the Patriots/Colts game. They should have DVR'd it like I did. I'm watching it now. 4 minutes left with the Colts winning 20-17. GO COLTS!! Hold on.

Big Day

I'm about to leave the house at 5:55am. It's a huge day for me.

1. We have a Combo Service with JH, HS, and College at 8:45
2. I am preaching in Elevation at 10:45
3. I am leading an all volunteer staff meeting on "Restore the Hurting" or counseling youth at 12:15
4. I am hosting and facilitating our small group at 6:00.

Aaaagggghhhhh!!!! Too much. I don't like it. After today I will be feeling better for next week even with preaching again.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm So Happy I Could Cry


I just found out last night that when we get into our new house that I get to have Moses back. He has been staying at the Campbell family's home. They are great people from Calvary and have taken care of him for a year. I literally wept when I had to give him up and I'm so excited that I get to have him back soon.

I love you Moses. I will see you soon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Wife is Funny and Smart

Check out Bea's most recent post on her blog here. It's her take on what she would write on a Starbucks cup. She is a funny girl.

New House??


We are trying to buy a house right now. We put an offer in on a pretty cool place yesterday. It's in Tustin and seems like a good amount of space for us for a decent price. The only hard part is that it's what is called a "short sale" or a "short pay" situation. This means that the seller owes their bank more money than they are asking for the house. So our offer has to be approved by the seller and their lender. We have heard that lenders can take up to 30 days to approve the offer. We are praying and hoping that it works out, but mostly praying that we would be able to submit to and be content with whatever happens. It's hard because once you put an offer down on something your mind starts getting excited about it and thinking about everything you could do to the place.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Big Week

This is going to be a big week.
Monday - Working on my sermon for Elevation this Sunday. Working on big volunteer staff meeting where I teach on the second point of our Student Ministries Mission Statement - "Restore the Hurting." Go looking at houses. We are going to try and get back into a home this next month.
Tuesday - Morning staff meetings. Sermon prep. Then a meeting with the Sr Pastor and other Teaching Pastors about upcoming sermon series. He asked us to bring our thoughts and creativity to the meeting.
Wednesday - Sermon Prep. Big Halloween alternative event at our church called "Light the Night."
Thursday - Vision Meeting. 4 hour Elevation Brainstorm Meeting. Sermon Prep.
Friday - Sermon Prep for this week and next week. Work at AIDS Services Foundation for three hours.
Saturday - relax, probably do some house hunting or offer making.
Sunday - Preach in Elevation. Teach at Volunteer Staff Meeting. Lead Lighthouse (small group).

This is going to be a big week with a lot of mental challenges.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Update on Tim's Church

If you haven't already seen his post, click on this link to Tim's Blog to see pictures of where their sanctuary was burned and some other news. The fires in San Diego, Orange County, LA County, and the mountains are still going and it looks like we have lost lives now which is really sad. Tim and Natalie Nellis and Rancho Bernardo Baptist Church are where I have the most connection so it's where my focus is even though I am praying for everyone affected.

Tim said that he is being interviewed by 700 Club today which we both laughed about a bit last night. He has a great attitude towards this whole thing - recognizing the presence of God with him and the people of his church who lost homes. He said that World Relief is in there already helping people in need. They have a bunch of smoke removal machines in their Youth Center (it is still standing, but wet and smoky) and they will meet in there this Sunday. This is an awesome ministry opportunity for many churches in SoCal to reach out to people in need. It's been cool to see how The Church has stepped up to help people in need.

Here is a picture of the inside of Tim's church. It's awesome to see how the cross is still standing in the middle of the wreckage. There's an illustration in there somewhere.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Waiting, Not Wanting

That's the title of this chapter of my life. They asked us in the closing session of the Youth Specialties conference to give a title to this chapter of our lives. I felt like this is what I was learning at the conference. I have wanted a lot of things lately - opportunities, possessions, Angels to make the World Series.

People of God wait upon him when they need something or need God to work in some way. I need to stop wanting and striving and trying. I need to wait upon Him.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire Hit Home


The fires are crazy in Southern California right now. The really sad thing is what happened to our friends Tim and Natalie Nellis. Their church, Rancho Bernardo Baptist, got burned down in the fire in San Diego county. Several of their students lost their houses too. Please be praying for them.

NYWC - Sunday Report

Sunday was more of a day of relaxation for us than intense seminar attendance. It felt good because Sunday is usually such an intense day of work for us in the church. Plus, Mike Yaconelli, Marko, and Tic have always encouraged us to ditch sessions and make sure we leave refreshed. So we skipped the morning General Session.

Before I talk about the evening General Session, I have to talk about the fires. It was weird being down here in San Diego when all of SoCal is on fire. Our friends, Jeff and Lisa Myers who are youth pastors too, had to evacuate their house and they only live a couple blocks away from us. Bea actually took the kids down to my parents' house in Capo Beach because it was too smoky in our house in Irvine. It was a bummer for me to not be there for her in that hassle.

The General Session started at 8:00pm which I think might be a little too late for people because it seemed like people were tired and leaving early. Our buddy and brother to Josh, Mark Matlock, was the main speaker. He had a good message for the church of pursuing the Kingdom of God and not pursuing culture so much. Pursuing community and not pursuing structure and schedule.
Desperation Band led worship and I thought they were good, but I guess I'm not as into their songwriting as some of my friends are. I think they are a great band at leading people in worship. I also think having a guy on stage without a guitar and just walking around and singing is kind of weird. He seemed almost mad at the crowd and sort of bored. I don't know. Maybe it's just me. I know tons of people really like them.

Change from Last Post

I was thinking about what I said at the end of my last post. I said that in the past half the speakers were boring, but this year they have been really good. I was trying to say a positive thing, but I think it was actually negative. I have a problem with doing this and I actually think that this could be the kind of thing that Doug Fields was even talking about.

I should say that at times in the past I have maybe connected strongly with four out of the seven speakers in General Sessions and that a few haven't connected with me as much. Some of those speakers have even been people that everyone else really loves.

What I really meant to say is that every speaker this year has really connected with me and I have found them all to be interesting and life-changing in their own way. This year has been more impactful to me than any other year.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

NYWC - Saturday Report

I forgot to say how amazing this band called Family Force 5 was. Both awesome, hilarious, and mind-blowing at the same time.
Also, Phil Wickham was unbelievable. I loved his short set. He has the most haunting, beautiful voice and I love his lyrical complexity. I have always known and listened to some Wickham, but this made me love his stuff and I want to buy his new CD.

Then, for the General Session 4 with Doug Fields.
  • Grits played which are cool and all, but I was just over it
  • They had a girl share from stage who was raised as a Compassion kid in the Philippines. She was the best part of this session. She has been able to do so much through God and the work of Compassion.
  • My only critique of the general sessions has been these weird "That's My Story" videos about a guy named Mark. They are Velveeta cheesy. The production is over the top sappy which I don't usually expect from YS. We think they might be the story of Marko's life and so I must say that it's not the story that's bad, it's the production.
  • Then Doug Fields spoke on "Ministry Envy" which was good for me to hear.
  • "Our critical comments are a mask for envy"
  • "When we talk about everything we are against, we lose the message of what we are for."
  • "Celebrating others is the antidote of envy"
  • "At the heart of envy is the lie that God owes you something."
I have been very impressed with the General Sessions this year. Usually I am bored by half the speakers, but this year has been hit after hit after hit.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

NYWC - I Cried Today

I cried today. I cried hard. God was working through Francis Chan today. Here are some highlights from the General Session with Francis Chan.
  • I have no control over any kids and their hearts and it sucks because I'm a control freak.
  • Do I really say everything Jesus tells me to say?
  • If all I had was the Bible, would I come up with my current version of church and youth ministry?
  • If I read the Bible and came to know God and then I went to my first church, what would I expect it to be like?
  • If I read the Bible and nothing else, what would I think and expect about the Holy Spirit?
  • I'm tired of reading this book and not taking it seriously.
  • If I had a friend that I beat everyday at one-on-one basketball and then he says that he met God and God filled him with His "basketball spirit." So then we play again and I expect him to be incredible. But I beat him again. What would I think about my friend. He is a liar because he isn't any different.
  • He quoted John Piper about heaven which was something like this, "If heaven was filled with all of your friends, all of the fun activities you like to do, all your family, all the leisure time you want, all the money you want, no problems, and no pain - would you be satisfied? Would you be satisfied without Christ?"
  • He asked if we have fallen out of love with Jesus. Then at the end he closed with asking his 7-year-old daughter to come up and he held her tightly and she wrapped her whole body around him. He asked us, "Does your relationship with your Heavenly Father look like this?" and he walked off the stage.
That's why I cried. I was convicted of almost all of it.

NYWC Friday Report

Here is the report from Friday. This has been my first wi-fi accessibility.

We got here at 10am and the first session I went to was Jim Burns on Teaching Kids Lasting Values and Morals. I have known Jim forever and had all three of his girls go through my JH group, but I thought it would be fun to see how his sessions are going these days.

Jim Burns highlights:
  • John 5 (man at pool of Bethesda) is his favorite story to teach students. Why didn't the man stay and hang around the pool and help others get in after he was healed?
  • Sexual purity talks should be given to parents even more than students - how to talk to their kids about sex
  • Jim advocates listening, reading, and watching what kids are into. He would have all his kids' friends over to their house to watch the VMA's and have a running commentary.
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:8 is his life verse for youth ministry - "our lives as well"
  • There is a kid out there for you to believe in. Teach them values and challenge them to live their lives for God.
General Session 1 - Brenda Salter McNeil highlights:
  • cool animated moving hick face with live voiceover would be fun for announcements
  • Flatfoot 56 - celtic punk Christian band - cool!! Never heard of them, but I loved them. Bagpipes and punk rock!
  • The whole stage background was just a big scrim with lighting and projection hitting it. I liked it.
  • The seating is set up really weird with chairs facing sideways to the middle with the speaker moved out front. I don't really like it. I like the innovation, but it's uncomfortable.
  • "People begin when God dreams them up - not birth or conception."
  • "whatever" = if I don't care, it can't hurt me. Hakuna Matata. Her whole talk was based on the Lion King and it was actually pretty good. I was skeptical at first.
  • "You are Mufasa's boy" - when we go after a Simba we have to remind them that it's not about them, it's about God.
  • Youthworkers are Rafiki. Speak truth into their lives about who they are and what is their purpose.
General Session 2 - Phil Vischer highlights:
  • Phil Vischer was incredible and inspiring in all the right ways.
  • When God's people don't know what to do, they should wait. Wait on God.
  • If I have given God my life then where I am in five years is none of my business.
  • Impact doesn't occur when we are pursuing impact. It happens when we are pursuing God.
  • When you are ready to put your plans and dreams on the altar and kill them, you are ready to pursue them.

Friday, October 19, 2007

NYWC Friday Morning

It's before 6am and I'm already showered because I have to finish packing, make breakfast for Grace, tidy the house a bit, drop Ella off at a friends, and take Grace to school before meeting up with our team at 7:30am. Please be praying for my wife, Bea, this weekend. She has two kids who are getting runny noses and I'll be gone for four days. She is also supposed to play bass in this women's event at church that will probably have over 700 people. It's all kinda crazy while I'm gone. But I'm excited for the conference.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

NYWC Thursday

We don't leave until early Friday morning since we aren't doing any Critical Concerns and we only live about an hour or so away from the convention center. We are taking 10 people total to the convention. I printed out the list of sessions ahead of time so people can start thinking about what they want to attend. I'm always excited for new staff that have never been to something like this. It usually blows their mind how big it is and how many people are passionate about youth ministry.

My hopes for the weekend (these are for our team and for myself):
1. That my staff will bond together and that the guys and girls will spend time together. Not just the guys playing XBox the whole time. We have 6 men and 4 women attending and no spouses are coming - all staff.
2. That my passion for youth ministry will be rekindled in a fresh way.
3. That I will learn a thing or two about the following areas - youth ministry, service programming, and restoring the hearts of hurting kids.
4. That I will be able to spend time talking with other leaders in similar settings.
5. That I will have a bit of relaxation time.
6. That my minor surgery recovery will be complete so that I can walk around without being in pain.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

National Youth Workers Convention #1

Today is Tuesday night and the YS conference is in a few days. I'm looking forward to going and spending a few days getting motivated, spiritually refreshed, educated, and to bond with our team. It's always a great time. I'm looking forward to worshiping with Desperation Band. I've heard a lot of good things about them, but I haven't actually seen them play live. Crowder is of course a highlight.

We are pumped for Josh's brother, Mark Matlock, to be a General Session speaker. It should be cool. I have requested a "shout out" from stage, but it's kind of a big deal to speak at this thing so I doubt we will get it.

Phil Vischer, Veggie Tales creator, will be speaking as well as some of the standards like Marko and Doug Fields.

The other thing I love about YS is just hanging out with youth pastor friends and talking about life in ministry and share the good, bad, and ugly that we experience as pastors. It's so encouraging and motivating to be in a place with about 5,000+ other people that are doing the same thing as you. You leave with a sense that you are part of something bigger than yourself.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Inconsistencies

I don't like it when things or people are inconsistent. I just read this in The Week.

"Residents of a gay retirement community in New Mexico are organizing to prevent an influx of heterosexuals. The 13-acre RainbowVision community outside Santa Fe has historically been about 80 percent homosexual, but with half of the 120 units currently vacant, a resident council is lobbying management not to allow in too many straight tenants. "It does not matter how friendly they are," said Roger Bergstrom, 77, who shares a condo with partner Barry Baltzley. "It's not what we came here for."

Can you imagine if one non-sexuality based community in America decided to not allow one homesexual couple into their community? The ACLU and gay rights groups would be suing and it would be on every news channel in the world. I don't think that homosexuals should be kept out of communities, but why in the world should homosexuals be allowed to be prejudiced and keep out heterosexuals. Just be consistent.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dr. Barry Corey


I heard Barry Corey speak last week at an event in Orange County for "Christian leaders" or something like that. There were about 50 people there in a small classroom at Biola's Orange County extension campus. Barry is the new President of Biola University. I thought he was an excellent communicator and was great at winning over an audience. His views on Scripture were excellent and it seems like he is just an incredibly smart, thinking man who loves God. His only flaw I saw is that he is a Red Sox fan.

He told a story about how he drove from Boston to LA with his son and they stopped at 6 Major League Baseball ballparks for games and they never ate fast food or national chain restaurants. So they only ate local food. That sounds awesome.

Also, his first day of working at Biola he came in the parking lot at 5am and got stopped by Campus Safety for rolling through one of the pointless (my description) stop signs on campus.

He also brought up his commitment to the 30 units of Bible that Biola is known for. But that didn't stop Josh Matlock from questioning him for allowing the BOLD and Torrey Honors program from not using the 30 unit requirement. While I agree with Josh, it was typical Matlock fashion to have that be the first question asked to the new president of Biola.

By the way, we just booked Dr. Corey to be our MEN'S RETREAT SPEAKER for Calvary Church coming up May 30-June 1, 2008.

Friday, October 12, 2007

In Recovery

I'm recovering well and Bea is taking very good care of me. I'm in some pain, but that is to be expected. It hurts to move very much at all.

I also passed out after going to the bathroom. I woke up on the ground with Bea saying, "Eric, Eric, are you ok?" She caught me so I didn't hit my head, but I have no memory of falling down. Valium and Vicodin can do some funky stuff to you. But I'm good now.

Matt Davis brought me Matzoh Ball soup today. He is a good friend. Thanks Matt!

The Big Day

I have to have a procedure today that guys have when they don't want any more kids. I'm kinda nervous...actually really nervous. I'm looking forward to being forced to relax for a couple days, but I would rather be on the beach in Hawaii, not moaning on the couch.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Apple Picking




We went apple picking up at Los Rios Ranchos yesterday. It's always some good old-timey country fun. We picked Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, and Double Red Delicious apples. We also got to pick pumpkins off the vine in the pumpkin patch. Then finally we picked raspberries off the bushes. It was a super fun day. My sister, Leslie, came with us. We never do anything with just my sister so this was fun to be with her for the day. We also played the washtub bass, spoons, and the washboard with the bluegrass band that plays by the BBQ. We enjoyed the tri-tip, bbq corn, and apple pie. AWESOME!!

The crazy thing was that one year ago we were up there apple picking two days after we found out that Bea was pregnant. During the day, Bea had some spotting and we freaked out because we felt like the pregnancy was such a miracle after a previous miscarriage and tons of difficulty getting pregnant again. It turned out that the spotting was nothing. We enjoyed the day yesterday being there with Ella - our sweet little baby that was just about 6 weeks developed last year while we were there. God is good!!

Pictures coming...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Staff Evaluations

In our Student Ministries area of church we have been conducting Job Performance Evaluations in the past couple weeks. There are 9 full-time people and four interns in our ministry. I am involved in the evaluation of all 13 people. These are 12 one-hour meetings so they can take up a lot of time, but I absolutely love them. We aren't really harsh with people, but we do genuinely dig into stuff that needs to be improved. We also spend time reflecting on highlights of ministry, things they do well, disappointments, how their job affects their relationship with God, areas of improvement for the ministry, and areas for them to improve. We use some numerical evaluation - what score out of 1-5 do you give yourself in areas like Punctuality, Teachability, Use of Time, Attitude, Teaching, Relational Ministry, Organization, Time with God, etc.

It's been so good to hear stories of fulfillment in ministry and even the stories of frustration and try to work through it. I also am excited to see people improving areas of weakness.

I have the pastors of JH, HS, College, and our Admin Asst evaluate me. They all get to gang up on me and Josh Simpson, JH Pastor, takes a very strong leadership role. It's funny at first, but then we get into some really good serious stuff about my leadership and ways that it can be improved. I think that every leader should open him or herself to having people who are organizationally "under them" evaluate them.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Why?

Why do my 3-month-old daughter's pants have pockets?
A pacifier can't fit in there and that's the only thing I could possibly think she would need to carry around.

One Thing Makes You Unable To Think

It's weird when you have something on your mind and that makes you unable to think creatively about anything else. That's how I feel about blogging right now. I haven't had much to say this week.

As everyone around Calvary Church knows, we have been in a consultant process for the past five months. The "Big Report" is going to be revealed to the elders next Tuesday night for the first time. The consultant has met with three elders and our Sr Pastor, but the big 50 page report will come out next week and the elders will be making recommendations. We are a "elder-ruled, staff-run" church so they aren't supposed to tell us exactly what to do, but they will make broad recommendations or bigger decisions that staff can't make. It should be interesting. I know that everyone is either scared about it or just really curious. I'm not scared or anything, but I am hyper-curious and I'm excited to move forward with the vision that God and our leadership have for our church. To be honest, I also wonder how it will affect my areas of ministry.

So it's big stuff and I think about it a lot. Which makes it hard to have witty posts about other things.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ducks Take the Ice!!


Todd Bertuzzi in a Ducks jersey - weird.
Teemu Selanne not in a Ducks jersey - sad.

The Ducks playing the Kings in London for the first game of the season - dumb.

GO DUCKS!! Prepare for boring hockey posts that you all hate.

Update: It's dumb that the rink is 3 feet shorter in London. The neutral zone looks ridiculous. Also, I hope that Scott Niedermayer sees the Ducks losing 3-0 in the 3rd period to the measly Kings and will come back.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sick Family

Bea took Gracie to the doctor yesterday and it turns out that she has bronchitis and laryngitis. The laryngitis is a bummer for a little girl who never stops talking. She can still talk, but her voice is really scratchy. It's so sad seeing your little girl so sick. The chest cough is pretty bad, but they took an x-ray and it's not pneumonia. We would appreciate any prayers for our daughter.

We have all been fighting colds in our family which is just a hassle. The sad thing is that our trip to Los Rios Ranch to go apple picking, pumpkin patching, and raspberry picking will be postponed to the next weekend. I was seriously looking forward to going up to Oak Glen and doing all the country stuff like picking fruit, playing silly instruments with the bluegrass band, and eating tasty BBQ. It's an amazing place that you should definitely check out if you are in SoCal.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You know what I want??


A new U2 album and a tour. That would make my day, no my year.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Why I'm Like Michael Scott


It's kinda frightening but I'm realizing that I'm more like Michael Scott from The Office than I would like to think. I don't think that I'm racist or sexist or homophobic like "The World's Best Boss" but I have my ways that are similar.

1. I like to play in the office a lot.
2. I knock the phone out of my staff's ear sometimes and I have no idea if the conversation is serious.
3. I have a supply of "poppers," those little balls that explode on stuff when you throw them at things. I like to take them and throw them at people in the office every once in a while.
4. I want to be liked by my staff and I would call all of them friends and some good friends.
5. I'm sad when people don't like me.
6. Bea just bought me the same "World's Best Boss" mug that Michael Scott has on his desk. He bought his mug for himself. For me, my wife bought it. Neither one of has had a staff member buy it for him.
7. I know that "Boss's Day" is coming soon and I really hope they do something for me this year. Isn't that pathetic?
8. Michael Scott has Dwight Schrute that really wants to impress the boss all the time and is pretty weird. That clearly is Matt Doan.
9. When I need a break from preaching preparation study or computer stuff I will just walk around the office looking for someone who will talk to me.
10. I made something called "The Wheel of Lunch" which was from an old "Wheel of Fortune" wheel we had for games, but we replaced the money spaces with restaurant names for choosing lunch spots. I will post more about this later.
11. I hate policy and bureaucracy the same way that Michael Scott does. Except I don't hate our HR people the way that Michael hates his.

Which "The Office" character do you think you are and why?
Have you seen these Michael Scott traits in me?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why Do We Love Blogging?

I have been into this whole blogging thing for a couple years now and I have been thinking about why my generation connects with blogging so much. Tons of my friends have started blogs in the last year and I love it. I have never been a good journaler. I would always start a journal and then do about 10 entries each day, then that would turn to every few days, then once a week, and then nothing. But I keep blogging for some reason. I think that it has to be the connectedness to other people.

I like to write down my thoughts and that is helpful for me, but I love to write down my thoughts and hear what people have to say about it. The genius of blogs isn't about lots of people reading them - the genius is the "comments" section. I love comments. I wish I could have "comments" sections of other parts of life - preaching (most the time), meetings, driving, sports, etc.

Someone I know had someone say that they thought blogging was narcissistic. I vehemently disagree. It's not about me. It's about community and interaction. That's why I try to get all my friends to start blogs. That just makes the community even better.

Why do you love blogging?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm learning...

...that I'm a jerk sometimes to people and I hate that about myself. I really really hate it. I have to devote myself to changing that. I need help from my friends and family. I need help from God.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Peace Isn't Always the Answer

Most people who would read this blog know that I am somewhat of a pacifist - not a strict pacifist, but I definitely am a peace lover. I even mentioned this past Sunday in church how American nationalism intertwining with the church really bothers me.

I read this excert from an LA Times article in THE WEEK and it made me think. It didn't totally change me, but it made me think. Please read and tell me what you think.
"If you want peace, prepare for war," the Roman general Flavius Vegetius Renatus counseled more than 1,600 years ago. This was not belligerence, said Bruce Bawer, but wisdom based on history and human nature. Our world has always included rogues and bullies who prey on the weak, and the more prepared and willing a nation is to defend itself, the less likely it is that it will have to go to war. But the fast growing "peace racket" denies this age-old truth, insisting that all war is unjust.
It goes on to say how they have no quarrel with murderous dictators like Kim Jong Il or Fidel Castro, but that the U.S. is the source of most or all of the world's oppression and poverty. College courses teach that if terrorists kill American civilians, it is wrong to respond with violence. Instead, we should try to reason with these fanatics. It's a message that could only appeal to pampered young Americans totally insulated from the realities that Vegetius spoke of centuries ago. As George Orwell once observed, "To abjure violence, it is necessary to have no experience of it."

For me, it's the line about "insulated pampered young Americans" that really got to me. I haven't been in a situation where I have been attacked. But I guess Martin Luther King was in that situation and he responded without violence.

What do you think?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Crazy Day Confessional

Yesterday was an incredibly busy day. I only worked a few more hours than I normally do, but it was just that I was leading and speaking in every environment I was in.

#1: High School Group at 8:45am. The Kenya team presented to the High School students for about 35 minutes. I probably did too much talking, but we didn't have a video that we were supposed to have so we showed a slideshow of pictures with us talking about it.

#2: Elevation service at 10:45am. I preached in our second main worship service for about 35 minutes. I spoke on the story of David & Goliath as we are doing a series on the life of David. I liked the angle for this almost overly well-known story. The series is called THE PURSUIT: DAVID'S HEART FOR GOD. The whole series is supposed to be about us pursuing having the kind of heart that David did. So the angle on the Goliath story was, "What about David's heart caused him to be able to face the giant so quickly and without hesitation?" What about his heart allowed him to see the world so differently than everyone else? You can listen to it and see the notes and PowerPoint here. I felt like it was a pretty good morning. I felt differently than I ever have before preaching a sermon. I honestly didn't feel like preaching on Saturday. It was an odd feeling. Usually I am a bit nervous in a pumped up sort of way, but I was just apathetic. So I prayed about it a bunch - even into that early morning random wake-up time (4am) when I was out of it and I just started praying and dozing and praying and dozing and praying some more. Then I went into church and prayed while driving. Then I practiced my talk once more and I felt much different. Then I went into the Worship Center at about 7:40am and prayed some more. After that, I was ready.

#3: All Student Ministry Staff Meeting at 12noon. I spoke at our volunteer training on the first point of our Mission Statement - REACH THE SEEKING for about an hour. It was good, but by now I was getting tired and so were people listening to me - many of which were in all three of these sessions.

#4: Lighthouse Area Fellowship at 5:00pm. This is our church's small group program. I lead our first Lighthouse of the fall and it was pretty good - a bit quiet at some points, but a decent start. Poor Kevin was in all four of these meetings. I feel sorry for anyone having to listen to me this much.

So a crazy day, but a good day. I'm happy to be chilling at home this morning. I'm tired, but grateful.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

FIRE KARL DORRELL

I'm so freaking mad and frustrated. AAAAGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

44-6

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blog Addiction

So what? Blogging is cool.
78%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Free Dating Site



Are you addicted?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Going to YS

We finally registered our team for the Youth Specialties National Youthworkers Convention yesterday. We are taking ten people from our team. It's always fun to have a bit of a crew at YS - talking about sessions during meals, playing video games in the hotel room until 3am, doing mischievous things, and just bonding.

The first NYWC I attended was back in 1993 when it was at a hotel by LAX. I think Amy Grant sang and everybody was all excited - I was the bratty young youthworker who thought all those people were lame. But I loved the event back then and I still do fourteen years later. Something special happens when you see 5,000 youthworkers in a big room worshiping God together and resonating with the speaker in the same way. We can feel alone at our different churches, but we come together and "everything is alright." It's big and loud and inspiring and has good training for my staff.

I also love taking my team to the Hume Lake Youth Pastor Retreat in May for a different sort of time. More quiet, smaller, and with a different method of caring for the soul.

We are going to the San Diego event. Anyone else going????

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Preaching Text-Fessional

I'm over doing the videos for these things because I hardly ever watch anyone else's videos - especially YouTube links. I don't know why. I'm usually blogging in a setting/environment where I can't just be watching videos all the time. Anyways, here is my Preaching Confessional on this morning's sermon.

We began a new series today called "The Pursuit - David's Heart for God." This will be a 14 week series through the life of David and how we can be people who pursue the heart that David had for God. My talk today was called "The Internal Pursuit" as we looked at David's anointing to be king and how God says, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

I think the morning went pretty well for me. I was a bit distracted by some other aspects of the morning that weren't going totally according to plan and I tend to be the kind of person that wants things to happen the way they are supposed to happen. Part of this is my weakness and part of this is people doing what they have committed to doing. But I'm not going to get into that here. I haven't preached in Elevation since August 5th which is actually not that long, but it seems like so much has happened since then with VBS week, then going to Africa for two weeks, and then getting sick for about a week. All this just made me feel like a stranger in my own church and feel a bit off when it came to preaching. I think I was connecting with people for the most part and I think they were genuinely challenged. I said a couple things that I'm not sure if people would get upset about. 1) I talked about how there are other churches in the area with fancier youth rooms and ministry "stuff" than we have. I was making a point that I can get jealous about those things but I have to remember that those are not signs of ministry success in God's viewpoint. I just hope that people didn't just think I was whining about not having a Student Center. 2) I said how I don't like how most churches just have successful white-collar businessman for their elders and how I don't think that is a sign of potential leadership in the church in God's eyes. I just hope people aren't mad at how maybe our church could be viewed that way. I don't think that's how we choose elders, but it could be perceived that way.

We also had people write a phrase on a piece of foam that can stick on their mirror or window as a reminder. The phrase could be something like "God looks at the heart." This way people can remember the "Pursuit" series everyday and not just Sundays.

The rest of the sermon went reasonably well. I think that people understood the challenge. I think that people understand the series. I think that people are thinking about this concept. It was a weird morning for me and a good morning at the same time. I'm looking forward to getting into prep tomorrow for my talk next Sunday on the David & Goliath story. It will be interesting to preach on one of the most famous Bible stories to ever exist. I think Noah's Ark and David & Goliath are probably the two most famous Bible stories. So how do I make it memorable??????????? I have some ideas.....

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Movie Knowledge

I dominated Chris G, fellow youth pastor from Florida (the state that wishes it was California) in this movie quiz. I think I could/should have done better, but here it is.
71%The Movie Quiz

FilmCritic.com - Movie Reviews

Friday, September 07, 2007

PAELLA!!

Last Saturday night my friend Jason made me an amazing dinner for my birthday. I was thinking about going to Black Sheep Bistro for paella, but Jason said he would make it. The guy is an incredible cook and the paella was excellent. There was the saffron Valencia rice, shrimp, swordfish, i think halibut, different types of spanish sausages, chicken, and mussels. DELICIOUS!! It was a very good night. Here are some pictures.
Paella whole pan
Paella close 2

Thursday, September 06, 2007

BEA HAS A BLOG!!

My amazing, intelligent, beautiful wife, Bea Wakeling, has finally started a blog. I am so happy it is beyond words. Her blog is called Vanishing Roads which is from a poem about choices we make in life and how the roads that we don't take vanish. She will explain it better, but I think it's a pretty sweet name.

Check her first post out at http://beawakeling.blogspot.com or use the lovely link I made her on the right.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Draft

We had our Fantasy Football Draft tonight. 6 of the 12 met at Tustin Brewing Company and had some appetizers and sodas and had an awesome time drafting. The rest of the crew was online at other spots. Here is a picture of those of us who actually had fun - without me in it because I took it. J-Lo, Greg, Doan, Peter, and Brent are looking good.
The Draft
Six laptops on a table at a sports bar is kind of dorky, but really fun! Sorry Victor. Don't hate me. It was a blatantly wrong decision on my part. I'm sorry.

Here is my team. There are 12 teams and we start 2 QBs every week.
QB - Phillip Rivers
QB - Chad Pennington
RB - Willie Parker
RB - Willis McGahee
WR - Roy Williams
WR - Braylon Edwards
WR - Chris Chambers
TE - Jason Witten
K - Jason Elam
Def/ST - San Diego
Bench - Clinton Portis
Bench - Wes Welker
Bench - Eric Parker
Bench - Najeh Davenport
Bench - Charlie Frye
Bench - Josh McCown
Bench - Kevin Jones

We'll see how the Wakebirds do. Hopefully pretty well. I play Matt Doan in the first week so it should be an easy win.

First Day of School

I just had a full-on "OC Soccer Mom" experience. I drove Grace in the new Sequoia to her first day of her second year of pre-school. I walked in with Ella in the stroller and then left. Now I'm at home until I go to work at 11:30am when Bea is done teaching.
This first picture is from "Meet the Teacher Day" yesterday. She has Mrs. Gish.
DSC03308
The next pics are from today outside of her classroom in her pretty new dress.
First Day of School 2
First day of School 1

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Our New Car

Bea's lease ran out yesterday so we were forced to get her a new car. We had saved some money from the sale of our house for a good sized down payment and I decided to keep my old car so we had some better options. We got this for a lower monthly payment than Bea's lease was before!!
New Car 1
New Car 2
A new 2007 Toyota Sequoia SR5. We love it!!

Kenya Thoughts 1

I know that I need to attempt putting some thoughts on the blog regarding my trip to Kenya. It's really difficult to synthesize everything that this trip meant for me. It was an amazing experience and so awesome to serve the beautiful people of Kenya. They were a people that embrace life and love in a way that is so different than America it is mind-blowing.

There is a concept of welcoming someone to your home or school or nation that they have mastered. Karibu is swahili for "welcome." There were countless times when someone said to us that we were "highly welcome" in their place. We knew that we could come back to visit them and be embraced as brothers and sisters. They would feed us even if they had nothing. I felt like I could go and live with them if I wanted to and it wouldn't be a question. How horrible am I (are we) at this concept in the West? I hate our concept of privacy but I am completely ruled by it as well. I am addicted to privacy. This has really been hitting me lately in lots of ways. We care more about privacy than we do about righteous living or unity.

This is a side issue almost compared to other things I experienced on the trip, but it came to my mind first when reflecting on the trip.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Books I Read in Kenya

I read three books while traveling to and from Kenya. By the way it was about 40 hours of flight time. I mostly watched movies on the plane. Virgin Atlantic was amazing. We had our own screen with our choice of about 60 movies to watch at any time. My highlights were Blood Diamond and Hot Fuzz - both amazing for different reasons.

Books:
1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It becomes a bit over-the-top at times, but the plot is riveting and the writing style is enjoyable while being literary. I think this has the potential to be a modern classic.

2. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I have never read this classic and I have just recently started exploring Hemingway. I actually really enjoyed this book even though most people I talk to hated it. I love the commitment and love the boy has for the old man. I love the old man's determination and love for the boy. I only wish Hemingway didn't always have to break my heart.

3. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. I avoided this book because of it's commercialization by Starbucks. I just get annoyed by people who think they can read a book from Starbucks or buy a (RED) product or go to an Invisible Children event and think that they are "doing something" for Africa. My mom gave me this book before I left and I LOVED IT. I highly highly recommend it. It's an incredible and true story of this boy who has his entire life turned upside down in so many ways. Go read it.

By the way, I officially HATE Sparks Notes and all those things. So many high school kids have never read a book because they just read the Sparks Notes. It's also weird that no one has heard of Cliffs Notes anymore. What happened to them? They should all be banned by the government. That's a legislation I would vote for.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Still Sick

I'm still feeling sick this morning but a little bit better so I'm going to go to our Elevation Brainstorm meeting, but I'm not going to go until about 10:45 or so when it starts at 9am to give my body some time to rest this morning. I'm half excited and half dreading going in. I wish I wasn't sick. I hate being sick. I feel like my body has been weak lately.

I got my first birthday present yesterday as the gift Bea ordered for me finally arrived. It's a cool backpack that is made for my laptop and other technological stuff. It has all sorts of cool pockets for iPods and my laptop. It should work really well!! So now that we have the iMac at home and I have this bag my MacBook Pro will truly go on the road with me everywhere.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sick and New Things

My body is shutting down from the stress of the whole trip to Kenya and being home and resting. I thought I was just really jet-lagged but last night I started feeling like I might be getting sick and I woke up this morning feeling crappy. I hung out with the kids in the morning and when Bea got home from school at around 11:30am I ate some lunch and then got in bed. I fell asleep instantly and was out for 4.5 hours. I just woke up about 20 minutes ago. It's hard because I was supposed to be back at church for my first day today and tomorrow we have a big brainstorm meeting but I don't think I'm gonna make it. I am also sweating every drop of liquid out of my body, but I don't think I have malaria - I really hope not.

Yesterday, I had a couple firsts when we went to Disneyland. It was at Disneyland where I thought I was just feeling jet-lagged, but at home I realized I was sick.
1. We went on the new Nemo Submarine Ride for the first time - awesome!
2. We went to the Blue Bayou Restaurant for the first time. This is the restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride. Not that awesome and really expensive.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm Back and Life Stuff

I got back from Kenya on Sunday afternoon. It's awesome to be back and weird to be back. Life was so different for so long that it's odd to enter into this world again. The freeway on the drive home from LAX was almost scary to me after being in Kenya where you don't really drive over 50mph very often. I felt like the cars were flying past us and it was weird. The jet lag has really been hitting me too.

It has been so awesome to see Bea and my two daughters. I forgot how much steady and constant attention that they need though. It's weird that it is an adjustment, but it is. It's one I love, but it still takes effort.

Yesterday was my 33rd birthday and it came on a strange day. It was my first day back home and it was Bea's first day of school (teacher) which is a huge day for her. So I was home with the kids in the morning trying to remember how to do everything for Ella and play with Grace enough for her to be satisfied with my attention. I was fighting falling asleep. So weird. We went out to BJ's Pizza for dinner which was yummy, but my stomach wasn't feeling so hot. Then I actually went to sleep before 8pm. Not the usual birthday, but oh well.

So I am 33 now which is the age our Sr Pastor says we will be for eternity. I forget exactly, but it's based on a verse that says we will be like Christ in our future bodies or something like that. I know that's kind of weird sounding, but you better get a good look at me now because then you can recognize me in heaven.

Monday, August 20, 2007

KEEP CHECKING KENYA BLOG

Please go to my Kenya Blog for lots of cool posts and pictures about the trip. We only have a few days left.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Check the Kenya Blog

There is good stuff on there now. We are in Kisumu and doing well.

http://calvarytokenya.wordpress.com

Monday, August 13, 2007

In London

We are on our way!! Everything has been nice so far. I like Virgin Airways. Tons of movies, tv shows, and games. Here is me in London.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Off to Kenya

I leave tomorrow for Kenya so I will be blogging much more sporadically and differently. I will mostly be posting on our Calvary to Kenya Blog which you can find at http://calvarytokenya.wordpress.com

If there are problems with accessing that blog I might be posting at http://calvarytokenya.blogspot.com

Please pray for team! Pray for:
Unity
God's Spirit to work in mighty ways
Life change for Kenyans and Americans
Luggage to make it
Safety
Health
Wisdom for myself in leadership

Friday, August 10, 2007

VBS Bears in Kenya

I leave for Kenya in two days. The first team is there now and took about 50 of these bears to give to kids in Kenya. Our team will be taking the remaining 900 bears with us when we go. The bears were made by the kids that came to VBS at Calvary Church this week. Here is a picture of Team One in Kenya after passing the bears out to kids in a village outside of Kisumu. This picture gets me pumped up to go to Africa.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

VBS

Vacation Bible School is pretty awesome at our church. There ends up being around 1,300 people here each day including leaders and kids. It's wild! I have a sweet job. I am basically the M.C. during the Opening and Closing General Sessions when all the kids are gathered in the Worship Center. My job is to transition and get people pumped up!!
CAN I HEAR YOU SCREAM!!!
I stayed up too late last night getting my new iMac all dialed in and transferring stuff from the MacBook over to the iMac. I'm loving that I have 250gb of hard drive on the new iMac. SO MUCH SPACE! But now I'm supposed to be getting kids pumped up and I haven't had coffee and I stayed up too late! I think a run to The Lost Bean is in order to make the Closing Session any good.
Our High School kids are so awesome to watch running the Games & Recreation part of VBS. They have totally taken ownership of it and I'm so proud of them. Our students from all three levels are being great leaders in up-front and behind-the-scenes ways. That's the best part of VBS for me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

NEW iMAC!!



I'm typing this post on my new iMac!! It's money baby! I need to get it all dialed in, but I am loving the look and feel of it so far. It's an awesome machine. The keyboard is so thin and cool. The 20" screen seems gigantic compared to my 15" MacBook Pro. I feel blinded by the light of it. Now it's time to transfer files and get the new Airport Extreme I bought set up too. The icing on the cake was that we got $200 off any iPod with purchase so we got a 30gb iPod for $50.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Calvary To Kenya Blog

We have a blog for my trip to Kenya. There is actually a team already in Kenya that is part of our Calvary Church High School Ministry. I planned the trip that this team is on as well so I am very excited for them to be there. My team leaves this Sunday, August 12th and returns on August 26th. The blog is for both groups so there are a couple posts already.

Check it out at http://calvarytokenya.wordpress.com

The Lost Bean


The Lost Bean is by far my favorite new coffee place. It's located on the corner of Irvine Blvd and Newport Blvd in Tustin, CA which is right on my drive to church everyday. It is an organic coffee house that is independently owned. I have been wanting a place to enjoy my morning java that isn't as corporate as Starbucks or even Peets. I also like that it is organic, but that's just a bonus for me.

Most of the other independent places that I have been in the OC just didn't have coffee I liked. I drink black dark coffee or an Americano. That's it. The Lost Bean's coffee is delicious and they have good pastries, even decent nonfat muffins.

Of course all of this will change when the new Calvary Church Bookstore and Coffee House is finished being remodeled. I love The Corner - Randy rules!

What's your favorite coffee place? Why?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Preaching Text-Fessional

I don't feel like making a video confessional and Victor was talking about worship text-fessionals on his blog so I liked the idea. Plus, I only watch people's videos about half the time.

I enjoyed this morning in the Elevation service at Calvary Church very much. We were talking about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in our Lost in Translation series. This is a recurring series where we have a small amount of messages on an area of God, theology, or Scripture than tend to get confused or "Lost in Translation." I won't get into details of my points here, but the key thing is that we are baptized "in the Holy Spirit" at conversion and we are all baptized "into the Body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:13). So we are radically changed for a purpose - to serve others as a member of the body.

I felt a good connection and energy in the room. I think I was communicating pretty clearly and with a good dynamic of speaking strong with conviction and then conversationally talking as well. Something I talked about was believing what is already true about ourself - that we have the Holy Spirit within us and we are new creations. I could have explained more about how we can believe that even when life is hard or when we still sin, etc.

We had a cool response station where people came up and dipped a cloth into dye to represent spirit baptism and then they placed that dyed cloth onto a larger canvas which represented the body of Christ. Everybody seemed pretty into it. Anna Gold and Nicole Gniffke helped make it happen. Here's a picture of it from my phone.

Victor and the band did a great job. As much as I give that guy a hard time and my job is to keep pushing him to continue to grow, he has the most rich, easy to sing with, beautiful voice of any worship leader I know. (Did I just say beautiful???). Victor - you are really good at what you do! Keep giving God the glory, but I love you man.