Idea Camp today

heading down to Idea Camp now.

Looking forward to some good workshops and sessions.

I hope this is fruitful and I look forward to sharing with you (anyone who will listen) what resounds with me.



30 Down ... sheesh.

So, this past week I was really contemplating what turning 30 will produce in me.  I knew that there were some things that I wanted to really make stick looking back on the past thirty YEARS.  It felt like something big was to be decided.  I wanted to make a decision or two and dig down deep with those decisions... make the roots go down deep.

I woke up yesterday without any specifics on my mind.  Yet, I wasn't discouraged.
Had a modest birthday... probably a good thing.  Heather asked me about turning 30 and it, almost immediately, prompted some answers for me.

I had a time this past week being able to lead some elementary kids into worship at church with some very close friends.  It was really, really amazing.  I love it.

After the worship session, we found ourselves chatting--hanging out.  We were definitely enjoying each other's friendship and company and basking in the good time we just had with the kids singing to God and worshipping Him together.

Suddenly, I find myself slipping into my sarcastic mode and joking around with some close friends.  I don't know what got into me, but I started teasing some of my friends (in love, of course) and ended up probably joking too much with them.

After some apologies and forgiveness, I realized how quickly I can slip back into doing my own thing and losing the mindset I have when worshipping God.

This glimpse that I got into myself has created some resolve not to blend back into the fabric of society and shallowness in my friendships with people whom I love and respect.

So, here's 3 things that I look forward to tackling with 30 years under my feet and behind my back:

1)  Create "worship pairings."  I used to work for a green-logoed, coffee chain where we had a business technique of offering the 'perfect food pairing' with a cup of coffee.  Now, I don't know if this was legit, or just a clever marketing ploy to get people to buy a muffin when they bought their coffee.  I learned that effect blend/roast of coffee from *$ has a perfect food flavor that compliments the coffee.  The right food and the right coffee roast would create the 'perfect pairing.'  One item complimented the other just right as to create a more full and more rich consuming experience...BLAH BLAH BLAH.
Yet, this is a good picture for what I think could be a practical step to adding depth to my worship time with God.  It's amazing how I can expect to have (and often do) such an deep, intimate connection and view of God when I sing to Him and worship Him the right way (most often at the big church building), yet when I leave the big church building it is SO easy to lost that connection because of the distractions of life 'n' such.  I want to, now, be even more deliberate with my worship.  The worship that I give to God so earnestly in the big church building should have insane and life-changing implications, ramifications, and other "-ications" that are obviously evident to people around me.  IF I claim to have been in the presence of the God of everything, shouldn't my actions be reflective of that... especially in a timely fashion?
I suggest (to myself) that I pair my worship to God in the big church building with an act of mercy and justice outside of the big church building.  I want an extension of that worship to be visible and connected to the invisible.
Simply, do something for someone that shows that my worship for God is real... not confined to a big concrete box.

2)  I want to be made aware of the things that are wrong with me.  Here I am talking about those subtle, little things that I assume are 'part of me' or that I might not even notice until it's way too late.  I already aware of the obvious, glaring ugly things in my life (and I equally hate them).  But, now, with 30 year old eyeballs and a redeemed eyeball of the heart, I'd like to become more aware of these things (like my sarcasm, and seemingly harmless joking) that tear down my relationships and my relationship with Jesus.
Wow, kinda scary actually looking at what I just typed.  (shrug).

3)  I really need to let more people see and hear what following Jesus means for my life.  I want to be a better friend.  I want to be a friend to those who NEED a friend-- a good friend.  I want to SHOW the Good News, not just speak it.  People need to see that what I believe is real-- not just words on a page to be proved to someone.  Feet to the pavement type of stuff, ya know?



LA Times account of a homeless man

Here is one man's story of living on the streets.

Following Christ happens on the margins.



Homeless Count 2009 (LAHSA)

Hey everyone,

I was able to participate in the 2009 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count about a month ago.  
It was a good experience and a strong vibe of teamwork was definitely found among volunteers at the event.

Thanks to those who helped on our small team counting in the South Bay for this event.
There is still opportunity to be involved in another phase of the 2009 Homeless Count.

From www.lahsa.org

Homeless Demographic Survey

LAHSA is currently recruiting 800 volunteers to conduct the Homeless Demographic Survey. 

During the first half of March 2009, volunteers will dedicate a weekend morning or weekday evening 

to interview homeless individuals on the streets or in selected shelters. All volunteers will receive 

training: training sessions will be offered across the County in the last week of February.

The results of the 2009 Homeless Count will be published later this year.

In other news, the federal government announced "awards for the 2009 Homeless Assistance Program to local Homeless Continuums of Care. Under the SuperNOFA Competitive Award program, the Los Angeles Continuum of Care (LACoC), headed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), received the largest award in its history, totaling $68,902,729.00."  Along with other grants that were awarded, the total funding for the City & County of Los Angeles totaled over $73.4 million.

Read the press release at the following link:



try not to forget

I had a great discussion recently with a couple of friends.  We were talking about the thoughts and memories that plague our minds that stem from past traumatic and negative events.  These events are often as a result of choices we've made that lead to pain or some sort of trial.  As we talked, we shared a common frustration that comes when long forgotten memories rear their head at inopportune times.  There are countless pursuits to rid one's self of these memories, to compartmentalize the thoughts and isolate them, or manipulate them into the start of a positive learning experience.

I've often pleaded with God to take away these thoughts and memories of past events--many times to no avail.  I've meditated on the scripture that says "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 2 Cor 10:4-6."  But, many times I've become disillusioned to the proper meaning of Paul's words in the Bible--only to become further discouraged with the musings of my brain.  (Thankfully, I know what this means now.)

Most recently I've taken a different attitude towards these, at times, nightmarish thoughts.  What if there were a purpose to NOT having them vanquished from my mind?  I say, there is a purpose.  The hardest lessons of life are learned in the painful, dark night of the soul episodes we experience.  Of course, there are many tragic things that happen to us that are out of our control; however, there are many more painful things we experience that are a result of our own poor choices or miscalculations.  These are the things we shouldn't be so quick to forget.

Just as many cultures and nations throughout time have made memorials and monuments that remember tragic wars and their heroes included within, we too should create milestones and markers in our own lives that signify the 'big rock's that were moved in our life.  All too often we make the same mistake or choice when we find ourselves in recurring life situations.  It would benefit us greatly if we were reminded where we have come from and we were careful not to return there so easily.

These painful memories of tragedy and trauma offer potent reminders to maintain a course of reconciliation, redemption, renewal, and rebirth.  I once asked God for a 'spiritual lobotomy' -- some sort of magical, supernatural selective erasure of my mental past.  It would have saved me emotional pain at the time, yet it also would have deprived me of emotional healing and a timeless warning to avoid the mistakes of my own history.

Isaiah 43:19  
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.



The Idea Camp - 2/27 thru 2/28

I'm attending. Check it out!

One Year Bible stuff

While reading the OYB, today's reading created some good connections between 1st and New testament readings for me.  Looking into the legal description of sacrifices and how they should be offered, God was clear to add that "You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. (Lev. 2:13).  This created such a great connection for me to Jesus' proclamation that "you are the salt of the earth."  Jesus definitely knew what He was talking about when choosing His words.  He really knew His audience.  We could probably learn a thing or two before opening our mouths... and spouting off.  I know I could.  I am fascinated by God's inclusion of salt to the grain offerings.  The seasoning to the offering was required.  There is an extravagance that is reserved for our offering to God shown in our lives.  We often mistake the extravagance of our LIFESTYLE with the extravagance of our worship to God.  Those aren't the same things.  Would I give to God what I give to my wife, my kids, my friends, my co-workers, on and on and on?  Hopefully not.  Many of us have probably been made aware of the multi-purposes of salt throughout the ages (seasoning, preservation, etc.)  Whatever the purpose of adding salt to the offering was, God desires an offering that is not ordinary or mundane.  How much more should our lives have the effect of 'salt of the earth.'  There is a quality to the Christian that is likened to a seasoning, a flavor, an extravagant offering of giving ourselves to God and others.

I also liked the verse that says, "All fat is the Lord's."  Has a good ring to it.

Moving on...

Psalm 35:18
"I will thank you in the great congregation;
   in the mighty throng I will praise you."

This verse reminds me of my childhood, believe it or not.  Growing up in church, I remember that at pretty much every church service people were standing up and talking about God and their own life.  It was 'giving a testimony' in the simplest form.  People would go up to the front, grab a mic, and say where they were coming from, how Jesus changed them, and where they were heading.  I really, really miss this from church.  To me, hearing the effects of Jesus on someone's personal life and seeing the real change in them gives such credence to the Bible and the God in the Bible.  King David, in this Psalm, talks about the 'congregation' and the 'mighty throng.'  It wasn't at his small group or on the phone with someone (duh)... this happened in front of tons of people.  He would put his own reputation on the line--publically--to talk about His God and how He is the rescuer from the junk and evil in this world.

Wow, it seems that these two sections of the Word talk about how we display the good things that God has done in us.  We offer an extravagant offering of worship and tell EVERYONE about it.



a picture of God's love and holiness...

My wife and I were having a lively discussion about the effects of the God's love on our lives and I was making my point to her that every Christ-follower must fall deeply in love with Christ and know the Father's love.  Here's how it played out...

My wife and I, joined by our two children, were enjoying our coffee beverages and pastries in front of our local coffee shop.  My wife was seated across the table from me on a bench next with our children.  I was in a chair (out of harm's way).  Our son began to climb on top of my wife attempting to plant himself in her lap.  As they wrestled on the bench outside, my wife put her small, non-fat latte w/ whip on the arm of the bench in preparation to subdue the toddler.  They jostled about and all of the sudden she screams!  The boy follows suit with a cry of his own.  Having some experience with hot coffee, I jumped from my seat ready to administer first aid to anyone in need.  Fortunately, no one was burned, however, the latte fell victim to the scuffle.

My point had been made.

After all were soothed back to contentment (and a new latte was purchased), I explained by point:

So many Christians mete out God's love and holiness in our lives in the same way we sip a piping hot latte through the tiny hole of a plastic lid.  We cradle the dangerously hot contents of God's love and holiness in a small, insulated cup with a trendy and functional cup sleeve as to not feel the true effects of that consuming love (all the while displaying our popular brand of faith to those around us).  We aim to 'play it safe' with God, rather than immerse ourselves entirely in His presence--submitting ourselves to whatever outcome is manifested.  It was made so plain to me that God wants, in essence, to burn us with His love and holiness (you know? get our attention).  We are not to take comfortable sips at our leisure-- when it seems appropriate and safe.  Instead, we are to be consumed by God's love and His holiness so that a lasting effect is made upon us.  We are to have a profound, undeniable, and transforming encounter with the true love and perfect holiness that God is.  This encounter is on His terms, not ours.

It is this type of encounter and relationship with God that I want more of.


Quitting Facebook, part I

...this article reflects much of why I quit Facebook.



Homeless Demographic Survey - 2009 (LAHSA)

I want to invite you in the Greater Los Angeles area to participate in the Homeless Demographic Survey coming up during the first half of March.

Here, volunteers will be conducting interviews with members of the homeless population either in shelters or on the street.  The purpose is to gather demographic data from the population regarding their homeless status.

Here is the link where you can sign up.  I already did.


Social Vandalism

this is my first post of my first blog.

I'm on the verge of turning 30 in about a week or so, and I've realized a few things about my life:

I've wasted alot of time on alot of waste (unfortunately, I still waste time)
I crave authentic friendships with real people (non-examples include: myspace, facebook)

God STILL loves me (it's taken some deep stuff to get to where I live like I believe this, everyday)

I directly impact my kids every single day with my time, my words, my emotions, what I believe
Having a new car isn't a 'big goal in life'
Whenever I get sick or its really cold, I still have it really good (I often think about the plight of the poor and homeless.  it would SUCK to homeless and sick and cold)
My wife is amazing (in many, many ways)
There are some things I wasn't created to do
Your kids are your responsibility
Even when you think you have nothing to give, you still have something to give
People waste alot of food
Politics is not the answer
There are so many things that are wrong in the world and we don't have an excuse for inactivity

so, I say, 'be a social vandal.  it's okay to be uncomfortable.  your complacency is NOT a gift.'

...a few things about my blog.  As you can see I put up a thing for the One Year Bible.  I'm reading it everyday.  Please leave comments about the readings if you want.  It is really good stuff.  The stuff of life.
I will hopefully get better at this.  The blog (I imagine) will change the way it looks over time (if I keep it goin').

talk soon... d