Tuesday, November 29, 2011

3 Books I'm Reading

Here are a few of the books I am currently reading ...

Order here

Order here

Order here

Monday, November 28, 2011

Family Outing to Joshua Tree National Park

Yesterday after church our family packed a lunch and headed to Joshua Tree National Park for a picnic, some rock climbing, and a beautiful sunset drive. We bought a season pass and are looking forward to many returns to this gorgeous place!

Some rock climbers (unfortunately, not us.)

See the full album here

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Wire Announcement Video 11.27.11

Daddy-Daughters Hike

Yesterday was a beautiful 80+ degree day. Adriana had to work, so the girls and I packed a lunch and headed to The Living Desert and embarked on a hike of their longest and most rigorous trail, The Wilderness Loop. It was strenuous, but we all made it. I was so proud of the girls! See the full album of pictures here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Use Your Head to Guard Your Heart

This weekend we will be wrapping up a series on media in our middle school ministry. We played a popular music video then took time to engage in dialogue that took students behind the music for a deeper look at the messages being communicated both explicitly and implicitly. We have had some fantastic, lively interactions about pop culture and the biblical worldview.

A few years ago I picked up the How to Use Your Head to Guard Your Heart: A 3(D) Guide to Making Responsible Media Choices by Walt Mueller, founder of the Center for Parent and Youth Understanding. We have been using this resource to help steer our conversation, and it's amazing how engaged our students have been. 3(D) is a sweet little resource that will empower you to help your students in the high-speed, ever-changing world of media. The 3(D) approach stands for Discover, Discern, Decide, and is a practical tool that parents, youth workers, teachers, and other caring adults can use to engage students in discussion about media. Rather than just telling kids they can or cannot watch or listen to or play something, this tool encourages discussion about how to make wise choices in terms of what we should and shouldn't be embracing from the media. Only 12 pages long and small in size, it is a great little booklet to keep handy next to your computer or television. Dirt cheap at only about $1.50 each, youth pastors would do well to purchase them and give them to parents ... Perhaps as a little Christmas gift. (Hint! Hint!) Parents will get involved in their kids lives in a deeper way. What could be better than that?

Ordering Information: Use the 10% Off coupon on my blog to get a discount on this and other great resources from Simply Youth Ministry.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

7 Things I'm Thankful for from the Past Year

We have much to be thankful for this year. Here are 7 things I am thankful for this year:
  1. I'm thankful for family. I am so grateful for my heritage and the privilege of having a beautiful wife and daughters to share life with.
  2. I'm thankful for a good ending to our season of ministry on Long Island. I was able to secure my successor for the church so that the students would not be without a pastor.
  3. I'm thankful that God provided a new ministry context for us in California. Being part of a team, a family-friendly, grace-filled church that is all about reaching people with God's love is an exciting thing to be a part of.
  4. I'm thankful for the cross-country journey that our family was able to experience together. 9 days seeing some of the incredibly beautiful landscape of the United States, and more importantly, seeing several family members and friends along the way was a great joy.
  5. I'm thankful for God's grace and provision. Beginning a new job, finding a new home, learning a new culture (both geographically and church), the girls beginning at new schools, etc. was challenging and stretching, but we are thankful that God strengthened us and has faithfully supplied for our needs.
  6. I'm thankful for friends. Moving caused us to see how dear our friends in New York are to us. It has also been neat meeting new people and making new friends here. Just today I was appreciating the fact that we have such wonderful friends all around the world from all walks of life. 
  7. I'm thankful that I was able to go on a missions trip with my daughters. A few weeks ago we were able to join a team from our church and venture to Ensenada, Baja, Mexico to build a home for a family - one of five our church built that weekend. How special to be serving the Lord with my own children.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    2011 Middle School Turkey Bowl

    My Squad. Claudia definitely won the most stylish outfit!

    The Trophy!

    Notice that I fixed the typo on my jersey so that it said COWBOYS baby!

    Neat getting to meet Steve Garvey who was there watching his son.

    The 2011 Champions!

    See all the pics here

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Fun Family Outing

    On Saturday we went on a family outing to The Living Desert - which is only about 10 minutes from our home. We invited a few of the girls' friends and we had a fun time seeing all of the animal and plant exhibits. After a few hours we went for pizza and spent some time at the mall. Click here to see the full album of pictures.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Snow on the Mountain

    Here's a pic I took this morning from our church. Beautiful view of the snow on the mountain.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    New Family Pics

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    "The Internet is My Religion" By Jim Gilliam

    Just watched this video on Walt Mueller's blog Learning My Lines. Intriguing. Heartwarming. Yet also tragic. Sad. Heartbreaking. Two lines that really caught my attention were:
    "God is just what happens when humanity is connected."
    "Together WE are the Creator."
    You can read Walt's thoughts here. Like Mueller I want to know more about his past - where in his mind the church let him down.

    Watch live streaming video from pdf2011 at livestream.com

    Topography of Faith

    Check out this interactive map to see faith breakdown by state. Really interesting and informative!

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    A Prayer: "Disturb Us Lord"

    Disturb us, Lord, when
    We are too well pleased with ourselves,
    When our dreams have come true
    Because we have dreamed too little,
    When we arrived safely
    Because we sailed too close to the shore.

    Disturb us, Lord, when
    With the abundance of things we possess
    We have lost our thirst
    For the waters of life;
    Having fallen in love with life,
    We have ceased to dream of eternity
    And in our efforts to build a new earth,
    We have allowed our vision
    Of the new Heaven to dim.

    Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
    To venture on wider seas
    Where storms will show your mastery;
    Where losing sight of land,
    We shall find the stars.

    We ask You to push back
    The horizons of our hopes;
    And to push into the future
    In strength, courage, hope, and love.

    - Sir Francis Drake, 1577

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Time Lapse: Building a Basketball Court on an Air Craft Carrier

    If you were unable to watch college basketball game between UNC and Michigan on Friday night, you missed out on one of the neatest sporting events you could ever ask to see. They played the Carrier Classic on board the Carl Vinson in San Diego. Check out this awesome time-lapse video of the court build which took about 10 days.

    Hammer Pants ... YEP, I Used to Wear These! Can't Touch This!

    My dad sent me this pic of a guy still wearing Hammer Pants in 2011. Awesome! I had a pair back in the day, but mine were blue, purple, and black. I definitely did not have a sweet shirt like this guy, though. Bummer! Really compliments the pants!

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Pedro Has His First Desert Kill!

    Our dog Pedro used to love bringing us moles he would hunt and kill in our back yard in New York. Yesterday morning he brought us a nice present after being let out to do his "business". He thought we would appreciate him killing a rat for us, which we did. Good Boy Pedro! lol!

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Student Ministries Team Retreat

    Yesterday we had the wonderful opportunity to have a getaway with our student ministries staff and our spouses. We went up to Beaumont in the mountains about an hour from us. We spent the day visiting local country stores, enjoying the scenery, and had a nice picnic lunch with dialogue about life in ministry. It was a great time of connecting our hearts together through laughter, play, and conversations. I have found through the years that these times of getaway/retreat are vital to the success of team ministry. Have you done team getaways? What have you done during your time that was fruitful in terms of connection and equipping? Would love to hear your experiences.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Mexico Build Loft House Pics

    To see more pics. click here

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    The Wire Announcement Video 11.6.11

    Home Safely

    This morning we got up at 3:45am and were on the road by 4:30am. We crossed the border at Tijuana after an hour-and-a-half traffic jam at 7am. We drove to Temecula and stopped for some breakfast, then trekked up over the mountain and back home to the Coachella Valley. We arrived at the church at 12 noon on the button. Glad to be home. I gassed up the van and took it in for a serious car wash. The guy at the carwash said it took them quite a while to clean the van then clean their floor of all of the mud with the power washer. lol! Tomorrow I'll get some pictures up for your viewing enjoyment. Thanks for keeping our team and the people we were reaching out to in your thoughts and prayers.

    Mexico Build Trip

    After a restless, cold, rainy night (and by cold, I mean probably 35 or 40) in our loft house, the girls and I woke up at 5:45am. Good news! Although we had no electricity in our house, the shower house did! And even better, there was HOT WATER! Yeah! Felt good after sleeping on a very firm wooden bed with a thin mattress. Breakfast was at 6:30am, and by 8am we were on the way to our start construction. The road out of the ranch to the main paved road is 10 miles and it takes 45 minutes to drive. It's one of the most bumpy roads - if not the bumpiest road - I ever driven on in all of my years of going on missions trips - rivaling Tanzania. Adventurous to say the least. We then broke off into 6 teams - 5 from our church, Southwest, and 1 team from another church - and went to 6 different build sites. Like all of the teams, our team spent the whole day building a loft house for a family with 6 children. It was absolutely amazing to watch a muddy corner of their lot have a fully functioning house on it by 5pm. The build even included a a stove, gas for the stove, some bags of rice and beans, beds, and cleaning supplies. After cleaning up the site, we had a beautiful moment giving the mother of the family a Bible, praying for her and her family, and presenting her with the keys to her new home. It was moving to see her gratefully wiping the tears from her eyes. The team effort was awesome, and I was so proud of both of my daughters. They worked super hard and loved playing with the local children. Unfortunately I didn't bring my card reader, so I'll have to post pics when we return. The plan is to shoot out tomorrow morning at 5am to get to the border at a good hour for crossing.

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Arrived Safely in Mexico

    We left the church this morning at 11am. We hit rain up in the mountains and it didn't let up the whole way to Ensenata. The road to the border crossing we were going to take was closed because of an accident, so we ended up stuck in traffic. I am driving our brand new church van, and, wouldn't you know it, someone rear-ended me in San Diego. No one was injured, and no damage to the van, thank goodness. The other guy wasn't so furtunate. He rammed the trailer hitch and poked a hole in his radiator. After getting his information we were on our way. Went through the border at Tijuana with no issues. Drove down the coast and finally turned off onto a very muddy, incredibly bumpy road which we took for about 15 miles to our ranch. When we arrived we had dinner with the entire team (about 75 people) then got settled into our quarters for the night. The girls and I have our own home. We are staying in the exact type of loft houses that we are building for 5 families on this trip. No electricity in the cabins (only in the dining hall). Roughing it. But I turned on my computer to check the time and found we had wireless. Go figure. lol! Heading to bed. Breakfast at 6:30 a.m. - and you know what a sucker I am for early mornings!

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    The Wire Announcement Videos 10.23.11 and 10.30.11 Caution: VERY FUNNY!

    Another Friend Visits From New York!

    Yep, you probably guessed it. The world-famous, world-traveling, Mr. John Long called the other day and just happened to be in the neighborhood of Southern California. He was kind enough to drive out and have dinner with us in Palm Springs at Ruby's Diner. We had a wonderful time with our very dear friend! We always enjoy hearing reports from back in New York and of his travel adventures. 

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    A Free Way to Help Students Honor God in their Studies: God's Way to an A

    Want to ditch the drudgery of study, the fear of exams, and workload anxiety and start enjoying stress-free study? Want to discover the role your faith plays in your studies? God's Way to an A is designed to help you discover faith-fueled motivation, a closer walk with God, and get better grades now!

    God's Way to an A is offering a FREE teleclass training for students and parents of struggling students on Tuesday, November 15th. Click HERE to Sign Up.

    This is for any student, parent of a struggling student, or educator who is looking for a more excellent way to learn and enjoy the process of study.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Chris Farley Reincarnated?