Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Modern Family

So I had an interesting situation present itself at the coffee shop the other day...I was sitting at the Beanery over off Park st. getting some studying done. I was in the middle of a great chapter in Dallas Willard's "The Divine Conspiracy" when this lady walked in. She had a little bit of a hippie vibe to her, a little earthy if you will. She immediately recognized the woman who was sitting next to me who was in her late 30's - early 40's, wearing workout clothes with lots of makeup on. (not earthy at all)They proceeded to exchange pleasantries and started to catch up on life.

My hippie friend didn't seem to have much in the arena of volume control, and proceeded to have a very public/private conversation with the Stepford wife sitting across from her. As I listened to their conversation, this is what I gathered.

The "flower child" had just recently gone through a divorce - the paperwork had been finalized last August. She was currently going on a few dates with a guy that had just broken up with a mutual friend of the two ladies at the coffee shop. There was some drama coming from this situation - and it was definitely coming from our earthy friend. She seemed to have a flair for the dramatic in an especially gifted way.

Mean while, her ex-husband (whom she had just divorced) has since "traded teams" and is now dating a guy in town. Our hippie friend is ok with this however because at least this guy treats her 2 kids well.

As the conversation continued, I couldn't help but have a deep sadness creep over me. I felt sad for this lady who has had to endure the pain of divorce, all the while presenting an "everything is great" attitude to this other lady in the coffee shop. I felt sad for the Stepford wife who didn't have anything of substance to offer in terms of genuine friendship. I felt sadness for the husband who is overcompensating during this painful time with a pendulum swing to the complete opposite side. But most of all I felt and still feel a deep sadness for her kids. Kids who have to add these things to their story, and deal with the repercussions of their parents mishaps for the rest of their lives.

Sadly this is the 3rd time in the last 4 months that I have heard almost this exact same scenario. A divorce happening with one of the parents immediately entering into a homosexual relationship. As a youth pastor I deal with a lot of the fall out of situations like this. Kids that are hurt, confused, and eventually convinced that this is "normal". That this is what family looks like. That this is how to deal with conflict and temptation. That the happiness of the individual trumps the responsibility that one has in the family unit.

How we desperately need to re-establish how life is meant to be lived in this day and age. How desperately this town needs Jesus.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

High Street Bridge

So the bridge in the picture on my blog is high street bridge. It is our closest connecting point to Oakland, and is a bridge I cross a half a dozen times a week. It is also the dividing line between Alameda, and Oak Town. Cross it, and you literally are in a different world.

East Oakland is one of the sketchiest places around. The amount and type of crime that goes on around there is enough to cause concern even for the most Urban of people. The poverty there is in your face, and the amount of hopelessness that you see is almost palpable. Outside of an Oakland A's game or a mission to find the best burrito or bahn mi sandwich in the bay area, there is no reason for most people.

Then there's small town - 25mph - family laden - tree lined Alameda. Outside of the odd stolen bike - or jay walking incident, crime is non-existent here. The houses are old but well kept, lawns are mowed, dogs are walked, and smiles are exchanged.

What I don't understand is how these two worlds NEVER intersect... It's eerie how these two place are literally separated by this bridge, but behave as if they are worlds apart. I don't like it, I don't think it's right, and I don't think it's what Jesus would establish if he were mayor. But at the same time, I like the safety of the Island, and I like that I don't have physically needed people all around me. I need to figure out how to make heads or tales of what Jesus is asking me to do in light of this reality.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

the complex

jan 15th, the day i started living in alameda (aka- the east bay). it is now cinco de mayo and i feel like i am at the tip of the ice burg when it comes to discovering just how complex life is up here, especially for followers of Jesus. we are not numerous, visible, or loud and proud. our existence is minimized (if not ignored), marginalized, and mocked. the news stations and public voices takes on a whole new version of the "liberal media", and the intellectual establishments mock our naivety. yet the presence of God is not squelched, and his power and ability to move in peoples hearts is not diminished. But the incredible challenge of being a loving example of Jesus to those who mock him, while maintaining a biblical world view in this moral wasteland is daunting. i miss the ease of life in san diego, where the biggest dillema of the week is whether to go hear phil wickham lead worship at maranatha, go hear miles preach at the rock, attend a steller service at flood , or support one of a dozen up and coming church plants in the area. don't get me wrong, i know life is still dark down there... there are just a lot more lights. but god has brought me here, so here i am.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Nor Cal

What a different world it is up here. Being a So Cal native I am just starting to understand life up in the Bay Area.

Sweet, gnarly, and legit, are all words that show that I'm not from around here, and the fact that I refuse to incorporate hecka or hella into my vocabulary doesn't help. I miss the Sun and being able to wear my shorts and sandals on a daily basis. I miss the warmth at the beach, knowing where the best restaurants are, not to mention all of the people that I know and love. Yet for some reason God saw it fit to lead us on this adventure... So far it's been expensive, cold, and at times lonely (that's the glass is half empty talking). It's also been welcoming, adventurous, and delicious.
I love being near Nat's parents, grand parents, and my sister - I love that we have soooo many great things to do within an hour or two of our house. ( there's the half full)

The reality is that there are going to be some really tough things about living up here, and some great ones. What I do see though, is an incredible opportunity to see my love for Jesus be challenged, and grow. Stagnation isn't much of an option here, and for that I am grateful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Do you ever wonder how people have categorized you in their minds? It seems that people slap a label on you and put you on a shelf. When the time is right, or when they are in need of whatever you offer, they take you off the shelf, look you up, and utilize what they think you can give.

I know this is a little presumptuous, but probably not too far off. So what category do I fall in, how do people see me? I know that the title "pastor" automatically sets me in a certain genre, but besides that I don't know. Am I the fun one, or the one people feel obligated to involve in their lives? Do people genuinely desire my counsel or talk to me when they have no where else to go? Am I thought of as someone who is genuine or someone what pretends to be a certain way.

It's weird to get emails or face book messages that reveal how people see you. Some are humbling and encouraging, others are disappointing at best. Some make you proud to be who you are, others just remind you of your short comings. At it's best it causes me to want to be the best man of God that I can be, and at worst it makes me want to give up.

So to all you who have catagorized of me, I hope it brings out the best... in both of us.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Every year 50 of us load up for a 9 hour bus ride up to a small camp in the sequoias. In this unassuming small parcel of land, something extraordinary takes place. The children of God gather and spend some much needed time with their Father. They listen to His voice and are reminded of his love for them. They see His handiwork and stand in awe of Him. They tell stories of His goodness and have their hearts warmed as they reminisce of His faithfulness.

It is during this short time, these 6 days set aside every year, that God and his children re-establish the special bond that exists between the creator and his creation. In this time, conviction and comfort, rebuke and restoration, 1st time decisions and re-dedications take place. During this week the family of God seems to escape the complications and ill effects of the sin which plagues our world. They come back empowered, with a renewed vigor and hope, to address the issues that await each of them back home. They are reminded of the words of Jesus "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!". They are reminded that he is bigger than their problems, stronger than their weaknesses, braver than their fears, and able to accomplish his perfect will in their lives.

They come back changed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I've been thinking about taking a "vow of silence". I know it's not practical, and it would probably cause my son to need therapy 30 years from now as he recalls "the Silent years", but I it would be soo good for me.

I have been actively trying to listen to God more in the last month and a half. So far I've had mixed results. Some days God is very clear in what he is saying to me, other times I can't hear his voice at all. It's easy for me to blame the phone, people around me (it's not a quiet household these days), or the general business of life for my lack of hearing... but I think those are just cop-outs.

If I'm real with myself about these matters, I don't really want to hear a lot of what God has to say to me. His words challenge my way of life, my thought patterns, my desires to attain certain things in this life, and even what I want to accomplish in ministry. But they also breath life into my very being, they whisper of his love and grace, they remind me of the eternal significance of my work for him, and they empower me to be the husband, father, and man that I need to be.

Ultimately his words lead to life. I need to listen to them, whether I want to hear them or not... and the only way that can happen is if I am silent before him.

About Me

I'm a follower of Jesus, Husband to a beautiful wife, father to an amazing boy, and Pastor to wonderful people. I live in Alameda with my wife Natalie. I love food and have secret aspirations of being a chef. I would also love to live in the mountains some day, and have a closet full of flannels.