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


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 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.