Monday, September 29, 2008


This last week, Monica and I rented "Bella." I'd heard quite a bit about the movie, it having been out for almost two years now. I greatly enjoyed it - it wasn't fast-paced or melodramatic, but it drew me in to the relationship that develops between the two main characters over the course of the film. The pace reminded me of Lars and the Real Girl, another slowly developing but strangely heartwarming movie that Monica and I watched a few months ago. The flashbacks and flash-forwards are a bit jarring at first, but by the time the final scene rolls, it all comes together in a beautiful and moving celebration of the endless beauty and joy of life. (I love kids.)

This movie has also gotten a lot of attention and press over it's pro-life message, which is communicated in such a winsome way that it has impacted and influenced many parents to keep their children or give them up for adoption. This story took on new meaning today when Brian informed me via a blog post that his family was working to adopt a pair of 5-year old Ugandan children that they met while there on a missions trip this last summer. How beautiful it is when those created in God's image experience God's love and provision through a pair of loving parents! A big part of the heart of this film has to do with Eduardo Verastegui, one of the main characters and producers of the film who went from singing in a Mexican boy band at the age of 18 to having a resurgence of faith and deciding to do only "films that matter." Here is a link to an article talking about his personal transformation, and below is a YouTube clip of him on the Today Show. See you soon!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Part of my call as a youth pastor is to to know the world that teens today inhabit. My society's current definition I still am a adolescent, but being removed removed by almost a decade from our incoming freshmen (WOW) means that I don't know a whole lot about today's youth culture. Because of this, I have to intentionally enter into the music they listen to, the books they read, and the TV they watch to have an understanding of what kind of world our kids inhabit. Our teens need to a caring Godly adult more than they need some 20-something who know the lyrics to "I Kissed a Girl" or knows what happened on last week's episode of "The Hills," but I still think it's a valuable part of incarnational ministry. Hence me reading Twilight.

I'm not going to take this space to review the books - I'm only halfway through the series! - but these books have topped the bestseller lists for months, so I figured I would see what all of the hoopla was about. Having finished half of the series, I can see how these books strike a chord with teen girls - so much so, that teen girls have been visiting the actual town where the books take place: a tiny town in northern Washington called Forks. Read the news article here. Crazy stuff - how badly we long for meaningful relationship, to be loved with a supernatural love. See you soon.

Monday, September 22, 2008


One year ago today, Monica and I tied the knot. Woohoo! To celebrate, we got away for the weekend to Mendocino, about three and a half hours north of us here in Benicia. We actually stayed in Fort Bragg, about 10 minutes north of the town of Mendocino, because Mendocino itself is bank and a half.

The weekend included a trip to a place to called Glass Beach (where they dumped a gang of glass bottles in the 1930s that have now been worn town to tons of pieces of worn glass in the sand - really cool), a trip to the tidepools at Mackerricher State Park, a walk through Mendocino Botanical Gardens, and a trip to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. Not to mention some delicious coffee, pastries, and good grub. I posted some of the best shots on my Picasa page.

It feels like this past year has flown by, and it's hard to remember what life was like before coming home every day to the love of my life. I can't begin to say what a joy being married has been, and how becoming one with Monica has deepened my understanding and experience of the unconditional and forgiving love of our God. Having someone who knows more about me than anyone else, and still loves me, has freed me to be myself in a way that was never possible before, and it is our privilege and joy to paint even an imperfect and broken picture of the love that Jesus has for his church. We've come this far by God's grace and mercy, and we're looking forward to loving one another with the love of Jesus more and more for the rest of our lives. Thanks to all of you guys who have supported and encouraged us to grow closer to God and to one another in our marriage covenant - I wouldn't trade it for the world. See you soon.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Well, if anyone's still reading, you probably know the truth by now: my blog, like the economy, is in a recession. But it's not the end - it's a new beginning.

Yesterday, September 20th, marked the end of the third month of my second year in full-time vocational ministry as a youth pastor here in Benicia. In the past couple weeks, I have begun to reflect on just how significant and profound the changes in my life (well, the changes in Monica and I's life - one of the big changes!) have been.

I hit the ground running that Sunday in June that I started my first job as a full-time youth pastor - I turned 22 a week later, moved from the college town that I had called my home for the past for years, got married to the woman of my dreams three months later, and threw myself into the vocation that had made such a profound impact on my life. Every week exercising my passion for God's Word in preparing messages, planning camps and events, and connecting with and shepherding leaders and students.

But for any of you who have read my blog for any length of time, you probably noticed that although my last post was in April, my real posts stopped quite some time before that. As life got crazier and crazier, my blog was one of the things that got the axe. But it wasn't just the blog - it was the time that I took to be still, to reflect, and to explore my heart and my mind as I typed out electronic words. As this last year wore on, I spent the majority of my time either fretting over the past or worrying about the future.

This last week, I picked up the novel The Shack. I've heard a lot of to-do about it, from the glowing endorsement from Eugene Peterson on the cover (I've been reading Peterson's book Under the Unpredictable Plant - it has been good for my soul) to getting ripped by some for purporting faulty trinitarian theology. (That's a mouthful!) I wanted to judge for myself, so I picked it up this week. Today, I read a passage consisting of a dialog between the main character and Jesus that really spoke to my heart:
"'When I [Jesus] dwell with you, I do so in the present - I live in the present. Not the past, although much can be remembered and learned by looking back, but only for a visit, not an extended stay. And for sure, I do not dwell in the future you visualize or imagine. Mack, do you realize that in your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?' Again Mack stopped and thought. It was true." (pg. 141-42)
This struck me to the heart - I have fallen into the habit of both dwelling on the past and worrying about the future, a future without the abiding and loving presence of my Savior, Jesus. And this is where I feel the need to begin again; to forsake dwelling on the past and worrying over a Jesus-less future to focus my mind and my heart here and now, and remember that the Lover of my soul is shaping me, loving me, and transforming me into His glorious likeness. And part of that, for me, is to take the time to slow down, be still, and share with you (if you're still out there!) a glimpse into the life of someone trying to be too busy loving Jesus to be concerned with anything else. See you soon.