Thursday, August 18, 2005


Me and my dad go on bike rides twice a week. There is a trail that begins right next to our house, that runs alongside Alameda Creek. It's awesome time to hang with my dad, and we have fun talking together as we ride alongside each other. We've done it quite a few times - so many times, that I know how many miles we've gone by specific landmarks on the trail. 3 miles is Quarry Lakes, 5.5 miles is my buddy Matt's house, and 9 miles is the glorious halfway marker. At mile 5, there is a little picnic area right next to the trail. It's nestled behind a housing development, and there's a little parking lot next to the picnic tables, outhouse, and water fountain. On our way back home on our ride today, me and my dad stopped for some water. The headwind was really strong as we headed out towards the bay, so we needed some refreshment. As we rode into the picnic area, I noticed only two cars in the parking lot, parked next to each other.

I'm not going to specifically describe the two cars, but as I went to get my water I noticed that there was no one sitting in the one car, but there were two people in the other. They were kissing. My hope and prayer is that they just wanted to be romantic, but coming in two separate cars to a secluded park in the late afternoon makes it difficult to think that their intentions were pure. This broke my heart.

I was listening to a Tony Campolo talk that brought me to tears a few days ago, while he was telling a story about a kid named Teddy Pollard and a teacher named Ms. Thompson (Listen here.) Teddy was in elementary school, a "problem child" who has dealt with the death of his mother and an absent father, and the way that his teacher, Ms. Thompson, chose to invest in him and love him and the way in which Teddy's life is changed. The part that really got me was this, from a letter from Teddy to Ms. Thompson:

"...I'm going to be married in July - The 27th, to be exact. I want you to come, and I want you to sit where my mother would've sat. You're the only family I have now - daddy died last year."

Marriage is such an amazing thing - the mysterious union in which what GOD binds together no man can rend asunder - that when Godly people get married, it warms my heart. It pales in comparison to the great union that exists between GOD and his children by the righteousness of Christ, but to see such a gorgeous proclamation of commitment, LOVE, fidelity, devotion, and sacrifice. Not just in the marriage bond, but in relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ, and how mightily love flows between those who have been changed by the love of GOD. But when I see infidelity, sexual or not, it flies in the face of this glorious tapestry that Godly relationships can be, and it hurts. But I know that it's GOD's desire for his children to be pure, to be commited, to be holy. My hope is that one day, GOD willing, I can stand at the altar, before my GOD, my family, and my friends, and stand tall - free from shame, guilt, and fear. It's amazing how freeing fidelity is. Amen.

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)

We'll be standing face to face, everybody in the place

Says "I know they'll be happy"

And as we walk back up the aisle
I will turn to you and smile
Cause I know we'll be happy
And I will look to you and you will look to me

A million thoughts race through my head
But my smile is all you see
And I will stand beside you, I'll hold your hand and say
"You were worth the wait"

Though I often stopped to ask God why

I always knew that He was right
When He told me to wait for you

When I was weak and couldn't see the way

I'd look ahead and see your face
And God would always bring me through

I had so many chances to throw it all away
But I knew if I stayed strong I'd meet you someday

I'd kneel and pray and I'd ask God to keep you safe

Because I knew you were worth the wait

It seemed so very hard sometimes, but you were always on my mind

I couldn't bear to hurt you

So grab my hand and hold on tight, we'll run together through the night

Just you and I

We'll be walking side by side, I'll be yours and you'll be mine
And I know we'll be happy

I made the choice to wait for you, you made the same decision too

And I know we'll be happy

We had so many chances to throw it all away
But we both stayed strong and God brought our lives together that one day

Now I kneel and pray and I thank God that you are safe

You were worth the wait
(Worth The Wait, Philmore)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Coming Home

I've always liked to be recognized. I remember in the 4th grade, me and this dude named Joe Bradley would always compete against each other to see who could finish arithmetic worksheets first. He usually won. In the 5th grade, I wanted so badly to represent our class in the school spelling bee, but my teacher picked a girl instead (Props to excellent female spellers.) When my music history professor would pick out papers to read to the class, a small voice in the back of my head would hope that he would read mine.

Here's an intimate fact for you: My mother is a dental hygenist, but I have poor dental hygeine (she reads this, too.) I think it was all that camping I did when I was a kid, when I would go for a week at a time without touching a bar of soap or a toothbrush. Ah, being a little boy definitely had it's perks - kept the girls away, that's for sure. But that's no proper excuse for a 20-year-old dude, but it's the truth. So there will be stretches where I perform no kind of dental cleaning on myself except for a piece of Orbit gum. I'll go around and talk with people, laugh, smile, pray, preach, yell, and sing, and no one says a thing to me. But all of the sudden it comes crashing down when I catch a whiff of my own breath. It doesn't happen very often, but for some reason, one breath will waft up through my nostrils and I'll recoil with disgust and say, "Have I been walking around all this time with breath that kicks like Jackie Chan?" I've heard that we're immune to our own body odor too, but other people can only wish that they were immune. Sometimes, I'll catch someone's nose wrinkle up, or a stifled laugh, and I'll do a quick pit-sniff, or just turn red in the face. For some reason, I'm the last person to realize that I stink.

In following Christ, there are times where I am ashamed to be the last person to find that I stink. My prayers are stale and empty, My smiles are fake, my sharing and preaching of the Gospel is over-rehearsed, arrogant, and flimsy, and my soul sags under the unbearable weight of imagined expectations and shame. I try so hard to meet with and pray for everyone that I know that my time with everyone is rushed and shallow. There are times when I look at myself and say, "What have I become?" There are times when I look inside and see the very things that I hate; the very things that I tell other people not to do. There are times when I am speaking in front of a group, and I feel like just sitting down. Speaking scares the crap out of me - not because I'm afraid of public speaking, or because I feel that my small knowledge of the Bible is inadequate, but because I'm afraid people will write me off as a hypocritical, fake, unrealistic Christian. There are times when I scare the crap out of me, and I think about the phrase, "The higher you go, the harder you fall." There are times when I wonder if who I am, who I pretend to be, and who I wish I could be even matters at all.

But it's in that moment that I collapse back into the arms of GOD, my Abba. It's in that moment that a small, still voice whispers in my ear, "It's going to be OK - just stay awhile, and be still." It's in that moment that I close my eyes and I wonder why I ever left. It's in that moment that I remember what it means to surrender. And it feels good. Amen.

"For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" (Romans 8:13-16)

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I, I’m desperate for You
And I, I’m lost without You
(Breathe, Michael W. Smith)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I Don't Like Apple

I'm still chuggin' along on those China thoughts, and I'm sharing my experience in church tommorow, so I'll be able to put my thoughts down in a more timely manner here in the coming week.

I had about 30 minutes of thoughts about the Leadership Summit conference I attended these past three days, but I'm writing from my friend's iMac, and I accidentally pushed the delete button. On the iMac, apparently, pushing the delete button not only erases your work, but navigates backwards in your internet browser. And so all those thoughts are gone. Maybe I'm Mac inept, and I'm not being spiritually edifying by hating of a hunk of plastic and little chips, but I wanted to write this out so that I could have something to show for the time that I spent writing. If you're a Mac fan, much love for you - I was even thinking of getting one myself, if the Rapture doesn't happen before I save enough disposable money to appropriate one. But now I'm not sure if I could handle it. After I'm done with this post, me and the iMac are going to reconcile, because I don't want the sun to go down on my anger. I feel better already.

So here's the paraphrase of what I wrote: The conference = awesome. The truth - worshipping, learning, growing, and yearning for Christ simultaneously with 55,000 other Christ-followers around the US and the world is a cool feeling. Ken Ulmer = the man. Bill Hybels = stud. I love Jesus.

Well, that's all she wrote. Well, all I wrote. I was at the beach this last thursday - it was the bomb. I've been challenged through the things that I've heard this past week to have a renewed heart for the church, that we believers might make GOD known by our abundant love for each other, and as a leader, to lead with humility, passion, compassion, and with a reverence for the surpassing worth of JESUS and the leading of the Holy Spirit. That's some dense stuff, and I'm stoked for what GOD's will holds for me and for those 55,000 church leaders who've gone home with a renewed spirit and a vision for what GOD desires for his kingdom on Earth to look like. It feels so good to be refreshed, and that was just what I needed - to know that I'm not crazy, and that everything is going to be OK. See you soon.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I'm home. Well, sorta. Westminster Woods was an amazing place, and a really awesome chance to get some rest, build some relationships, and hang with some really awesome folks. The theme for the week was "No Matter What," and each day was a different "No Matter What" statement - no matter what GOD loves you, no matter what, GOD gives a second chance, no matter what, love one another, and some other really cool ones that I can't remember. I had the chance to hang around the Junior High camp and listen in on the talks, and that was the bomb.

And I'm home from China. I can't say how weird that feels - it took my body a week to get used to it. I'm still trying to form my thoughts and memories on my experience, but one of the most poignant memories that I have of the whole trip is that first big gulp of California air I took after we landed at SFO. I can't tell you the way that I felt when that smell ran through my nasal cavity, but I didn't realize how different the air in China was.

The Chinese province that we were in, the Henan province, had nearly the poorest air quality out of all of China. You don't really get to see the sky too often, because it's constantly obscured by a gray haze. One of the foreign teachers told us that if we left out a sandwich in our room for a day or two, it would be covered with a fine layer of gray dust. Most of the vehicles on the roads spew thick black smoke from their tailpipes - definitely wouldn't pass a smog check. The dumplings, the trees, the people, the buildings, the books - it just smelled different. Not in a bad way at all - I didn't really mind the smog. There was just a piece of me that took in all of those new things and said, "I'm not at home."

I noticed the change immediately when we landed in Beijing, but after a few days I didn't even notice anymore. But when that plane landed and I stepped off, the smell of redwoods, dirt, and a bunch of other stuff I can't describe filled my lungs, and that was when it hit me: I was home.

My earthly home, anyway. Because even though I had returned from an unfamiliar place to a familiar one, I know that though I am now called to be in the world, but not of it, soon I will be not in the world too, and then I will truly be home. I thank GOD (not nearly enough) for a place to sleep every night, a roof over my head, and loving family and friends, but I know that this "home" here couldn't hold a candle to the eternal house of GOD. If home is where the heart is, mine is surely in heaven, because GOD has captured it with his amazing love. But I'm not there yet, and I'm thankful for every moment I've got - it's good to be home.

When I get to heaven, I wonder what it will smell like. I can only imagine.
You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now
(MercyMe, Homesick)
P.S. Blogger has recently made it really easy to include pictures in posts, so I'll probably be using more of them.