Recent Random Reflections

A few thoughts/updates from the last several days:
  • We held our first annual leadership retreat for Living Hope Church this weekend. It was great! I loved the interaction. Loved the opportunity to do some leader training. Loved the location (Occidental, CA). I love the leaders we've been blessed with and if we can accomplish even a quarter of the things we discussed this weekend, we're going to be one heckuva church!
  • Phil Lockwood led us in a concert of prayer to kick off the retreat on Friday night. The first part of it was about 15 minutes of us vocalizing 1-sentence prayers just loving on God saying our favorite attributes of His. I don't know any other way to describe it, but God immediately entered that room and I was weeping like a baby. It was really a powerful moment!
  • Of all God's creations, the coast redwood is my favorite!
  • Jamie turned 38 yesterday, so for the next 3 months she's a cradle-robber.
  • We welcomed two new Living Hope babies into the world this last week! Love that "natural" church growth!
  • Great worship service this morning. That song "Mighty to Save" slays me every time!
  • Borrowed from Ron Hunter's book, Toy Box Leadership, and taught lessons on leadership by using a slinky dog and a weeble. Awesome!
  • Learned that the weebles I played with as a kid are considered dangerous and they don't make them anymore. So I got on eBay and purchased a vintage Goofy weeble for $5. (Kinda makes me want to start collecting them!)
  • The final season of LOST starts Tuesday. So excited!
  • Mollie becomes a teenager on Saturday. So not excited.


Christian Generosity 2

Now that I got that angry tirade out of my system, I thought I'd post some Biblical reasons why Christians need to be responding to brothers and sisters in need around the world.

This is Paul's comments to the Christians in Corinth about the Macedonian believers who responded to the need of hurting Christians in another part of the world. Even though the Macedonians didn't have extra to be giving.

2 Corinthians 8:1-15 (ESV)

We want you to know, brothers, [1] about the grace of God that has beenh given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and i their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave j according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly k for the favor [2] of taking part in l the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they m gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.6 Accordingly, n we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you o this act of grace. 7 But as p you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you [3]q see that you excel in this act of grace also.

8 r I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, thats though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter t I give my judgment: u this benefits you, who v a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable w according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply x their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, y “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”


Christian Generosity

I've been blown away by the generosity that many Christians and churches have shown toward the people in Haiti. This is a beautiful example of the church being the church. I've also been equally blown away by the number of Christians I see posting ignorant, close-minded, and hateful things online expressing disapproval of giving money to Haiti when we have people in need in our own communities. People who do this unknowingly reveal way too much about themselves. I know people well enough to know that those who gripe the loudest are the ones who never do, never give, and never listen. In most cases, those who have responded to the Holy Spirit's leading to give to the Haitians, are the same ones who also respond when the Holy Spirit leads them to give to people in their community or their local church.

Which has brought me to respond to the following gripes (Caution: Heavy Sarcasm Zone):
  • We shouldn't be giving to Haiti when we have people foreclosing on homes right next door! --- Yes, you're probably right. Even though millions of people in Haiti just had their homes and the few possessions they owned reduced to a literal pile of dust, it's much sadder that my neighbor has to downgrade from a 5 bed/3 bath/3 car garage home with A/C, satellite TV, a hot tub, and a pool, to a 3 bed/1 bath/2 car garage home with A/C and satellite TV.
  • It makes me mad that my tax dollars are going to help people in foreign countries! --- Me too! Please stop this insanity and resume spending my tax dollars on abortions and offensive "art" and war and congressional slush funds and...
  • Why would you want to adopt an orphan from Haiti when we have orphans right here in the U.S.? --- Oh yeah, we should all love on orphans the way you're currently doing it. Oh wait, I forgot, you don't give a CRAP about orphans! You just enjoy sounding intelligent and topical at their expense!
This is the bottom line. If you barely give 1% of your income to anything other than yourself, you haven't earned the right to have an opinion so keep your selfish, foolish mouth shut! If you haven't reached out to orphans here or in other countries, your heart is evil if you criticize those who do! People who sit back and criticize those who are ACTUALLY doing God's work when they are doing NOTHING themselves are pathetic and lead by Satan instead of the Holy Spirit.

For those of you who are actually responding to God's leading and helping those in need, both here and abroad--don't let ignorant people deter you from serving God.



Originally posted this 2 years ago. Still can't watch it without tearing up.
As we come up on this MLKJr. Day weekend, I wanted to post Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. I listened to this speech in its entirety for the first time a little over a year ago and it just knocked me out. It is truly one of the greatest speeches of all time. In fact, I would probably rank it second only to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. This may be a little forward, but I seriously have to believe that if you can listen to this speech and not, at least, get a little lump in your throat, there's something wrong in your soul.



Tithing is an unnecessarily controversial topic. If you don't know, tithing is a Biblical concept of giving 10% to God. Some people don't like talking about money so they get all offended when a pastor does. But as I remind Living Hope often, tithing is NOT about money. It's about faith. Hebrews 11:4 says "By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain." It wasn't the gift, it was the faith required to give the gift.

When we tithe:
  • our faith increases.
  • we care more about the Kingdom, because we've invested in it.
  • we are exercising a muscle that most of don't exercise enough -- generosity.
  • we communicate to God that He is a priority in our lives.
  • the Kingdom advances.
  • the church can grow.
  • missionaries can be sent.
  • the hungry can be fed.
  • the "least of these" of the world are served.
Today I was sharing some of my life goals with my 11-yr-old son, Isaiah. I told him that one of my goals was to eventually become a reverse tither (give God 90% and live off of 10%). He got this shocked/scared look on his face and said, "Is that going to be just for you or does the whole family have to do that?" I didn't think Jamie would ever stop laughing. Gotta love the honesty!

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today, January 11, is the first annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day. This is a very real, very large problem around the world and even in our own country. I saw this post from Katy Lost in Cambodia and had to share it. Let these 5 short facts sink in (and if you dare, respond).

1) There are more people being forced to work as slaves in the world today than there were at the height of the transatlantic slave triangle. Trafficking is over taking weaponry to become the 2nd largest illegal industry after drugs. It’s taking place in every single country in the world*.

2) It can be expected that 1 in 40 girls in Cambodia will be sold into sex slavery**. As in other countries, poverty, the hope of finding a better paid job by moving to towns and cities and the market for sex on demand are all root causes of this horrifying statistic.

3) 1.2million children are trafficked each year (low estimation)***. The point of each sale is for someone else to make profit from that child. People will pay $1000 to rape a virgin for a week particularly in the East where there is a common myth that it will cure the man of Aids and give him strength against illness. In Cambodia, that child will often be restitched without anaesthetic and resold to increase profit^.

4) 70% of adult sex workers entered prostitution when they were children or young teenagers^^. You may see a ’consenting’ 18+ prostitute but you wouldn’t see what might have been done to her when she was 13, 10, 8 years old.

5) The millions of girls and children who’ve been trafficked are so traumatised and ashamed by what has been done to them that are not in a position to speak up about this crime. They need help but feel worthless. That is how the traffickers and pimps remain doing what they are doing and why we hardly hear this subject talked about.

If you are shocked/ surprised/ horrified by these 5 points, chances are your friends will be to. Take 1 minute to pass this information on and you will be doing a really important thing, raising awareness and bringing this subject out into the open where it needs to be.

*Various sources - Wikipedia ‘Slavery’

** 2005 report by The Future Group

*** Love146

^ The Road of Lost Innocence

^^ Barnardos – Who’s Child Now? report. Published November 2009 - Uncovering the frightening number of vulnerable teenage girls from the UK girls that are being groomed by older man into prostitution.


Risky Business

2 Corinthians 5:7 -- for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Need a simpler translation? Faith is risky! It's not safe. It's rarely comfortable. It stretches us. It sometimes makes us look and feel foolish. But here's the deal. Taking a step or a leap of faith is scary, but where we land is a place called freedom.

So what risk is God calling you to take right now?
  • Does He want you to start leading your family the way you know you should be...even though you can't see how your spouse and kids will ever get behind it?
  • Does He want you to start tithing 10% of your income...even though you can't see that much margin in your budget?
  • Does He want you to solve a problem in our community or world...even though you can't see where the resources will come from?
  • Does He want you to lead a group or a movement...even though you can't see yourself leading anything?
  • Does He want you to start living your faith at work or school...even though you can't see yourself being that bold?
  • Does He want you to share the gospel with someone...even though you can't imagine what you're supposed to say?
  • Does He want you to change careers so that you can leverage more time for Him...even though you can't see what the next step is?
  • Does He want you to go serve Him in a place that's away from your loved ones or your hometown or outside your comfort zone...even though that scares you to death?
Ephesians 3:20 (MSG) -- God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!


15 Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

A few days ago I wrote a post called How to Stay Married for 15 Years. It was our 15th anniversary and I wanted to write something special for Jamie and hopefully give some tips to my brothers-in-arms (or brothers-in-rings?). I've received a lot of positive comments on that post. Since I'm generally uncomfortable with too much praise, and in the interest of truth in advertising, I thought I'd write a post about the flip side of that coin.

The truth is, the first half of those 15 years I was a miserable failure as a husband. So here are some field-tested tips on destroying your marriage. I wish I could say I wasn't guilty of every one of them, but I am. All I can do is spend the final 70+ years of my marriage trying every day to make up for the first 7.
  1. Mentally check out of your marriage and pile 90% of the responsibility on her.
  2. Think of your own wants/needs before your wife's. Live your life selfishly like you're still 19 and single.
  3. In every big fight, say that one thing you know will cut her to the heart. It's different for every woman, but you know what it is. (Learning to fight fair is one of the best things you can do for your marriage.)
  4. Constantly compare your wife to every other woman you meet.
  5. Become more concerned with having the appearance of a happy marriage, than actually having one.
  6. Convince yourself that since you're not paying for it and it's only once in a while, you don't have a problem with porn.
  7. Make lots of inappropriate jokes to your friends about what a drag your wife is.
  8. Allow yourself to get involved in emotional affairs with other women by having deep conversations with them. All the while your wife is wishing you would turn off the TV and open up to her.
  9. Make fun of your wife's dreams and crush her spirit.
  10. You think you're funny and sarcastic, but the truth is you've just turned into a mean s.o.b.
  11. Become so spiritually bankrupt that your wife has to practically drag you to church.
  12. When you're not getting what you want, act like a spoiled brat and throw out the D-word (divorce).
  13. Never lift a finger to help your wife with the house and the kids, even when she's working a full-time job, too.
  14. Become so numb to her pain, that you don't listen anymore.
  15. Go out with your buddies more than you go out with her.
I write every one of these with pain in my heart right now. I thank God constantly that He brought me out of that. Guys, other than the salvation of your soul, your wife is the greatest gift God ever gave you. She's precious and valuable. Treat her as if she is!

Need a Good Reason to Get Right With God?

Psalm 7:12-13 (ESV)
If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
he has prepared for him his deadly weapons;
making his arrows fiery shafts.

There's "good news" even in this passage. Did you catch it? It's the first word -- IF.


How to Stay Married for 15 Years

15 years ago today, Jamie and I were married in a little Army chapel in Ft. Myer, VA. It was informal--us in our jeans, Chaplain Sullivan, a couple of my Army buddies, and the gospel choir that happened to be there having their rehearsal. (We had the big family, white-dress wedding in March.) We loved it. Afterwards, we ate at Chili's and then spent the night dealing with our overflowing toilet. It was the best night of my life!

Here's some thoughts on what it takes to stay married for 15 years.
  1. Tell her how much you appreciate every meal. Even when it's not your favorite dish, give loud and verbal thanks that someone cooked your sorry butt a meal.
  2. Get over yourself. Marriage is not about you. It's about glorifying God by demonstrating to the world around you His love for us by the way you treat your wife.
  3. Take her out on dates as often as possible. I'm cheap, but I don't mind spending some money on Jamie-baby. Dinner and a movie a few times a month is way cheaper than alimony.
  4. Even if she acts like she's too busy to stop and give you a kiss--stop her and give her a kiss.
  5. Plan romantic evenings/weekends/vacations. Romance is the dude's responsibility. If the romance is gone from your marriage, fellas, it's because you let your game get rusty. Put some oil on it (which in itself could be romantic).
  6. Pray for your wife. Ask God to protect her and do an extreme makeover to turn you into the man she deserves.
  7. Kill the spiders.
  8. Invest in a DVR or Tivo. This should be saving marriages left and right. Now when she starts talking, pause your live TV and politely listen.
  9. Teach your kids to love and respect their mother. Open up a can on them when they don't.
  10. Rescue her from herself at least once a year. She will give and give and give until she has nothing left. Lovingly help her put on the brakes and get her life balanced again.
  11. Ditch the World of Warcraft. She needs help.
  12. Do the hard or gross stuff that needs to be done. If you have working arms and legs, she should not be pushing the mower around your lawn.
  13. At least once a year, ask her what she needs from you that she's not getting. Fix it.
  14. Pastor her. Don't force her to make all the "God" decisions for your family. That's your job. She should be closer to God because of you, not despite you.
  15. Don't forget your 15th anniversary if you want to see your 16th. Happy anniversary, Jamie! You're more amazing every day. I honestly can't believe how my love for you continues to grow each year more than the one before. You make me a better man. I love you!

Picard Leadership

I've recently started re-watching episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I used to watch it all the time, but haven't in several years. Something that has struck me this time around is how great a leader Captain Picard is. I seriously can't think of a better show to watch if you're interested in studying leadership. He exercises reason and compassion at every available opportunity. He makes tough decisions when necessary. He is cool and thoughtful during stressful situations. He is passionate when he should be. He is constantly growing the leaders around him. He knows his duty to the organization he serves, but has a keen sense of his duty to mankind as well. If you're a student of leadership, almost every episode offers great lessons.