judge wapner rides again

Is it just me or does anyone else find it a bit strange that Judge Wapner has been hired to appear in a political ad? For those of you too young to remember, Judge Wapner was the original judge in a television show known as "The People's Court." Those were the days before Judge Judy, et al. Every show ended with his sidekick saying, "Don't take the law into your own hands, take 'em to court."

After getting over the cheesy nature of the ad (it ends with an echoing, "No on 77. No on 77), I began to think ... I wonder who they are going after with this ad. Unfortunately, it's probably the same people who tuned into People's Court to watch "justice being served."

I wouldn't be surprised to see Stone Cold Steve Austin make an appearance in a political ad.


google earth

At breakfast this morning the subject turned to Google Earth, a nifty little piece of software if there ever was one. So ... I decided to download it to my laptop since I already had it on my desktop. If you haven't downloaded it yet, do it now. It's fun to play and you can travel the world for free. Some of the areas I wanted to look at -- like my hometown -- didn't have really good satellite pictures but most metropolitan areas do. And you can find places to rent a movie or grab a cup of coffee. Interestingly enough, it also lumps together "Churches/Cemeteries." Ironic or not.

learning curve

I've decided to tackle video editing software and have been playing around with two different programs: Adobe Premier and Sony Vegas. I've used Adobe Photoshop for years (through several versions and upgrades) and thought I'd be able to pick up Premier fairly quickly. Wrong. It looks like the type of program that requires locking myself away for three or four days of straight experimentation. Granted, there are times that is a very appealing concept but not right now.

Now on to Sony Vegas. On the surface, it appears to be easy-bake software but has surprised me with how robust it may actually be. Thanks to several online tutorials, I was able to figure out panning still images (commonly referred to as the "Ken Burns" effect). It has a healthy amount of effects, transitions, etc.

Where will I land eventually? For now, it appears to be Sony Vegas though everyone tells me Premier is the way to go for Windows-based video editing. Software ambiguity ... that's something the Mac fanatics never have to deal with.

men who eat breakfast

Eight guys met this morning to eat, talk, and get to know one another. We had a great time learning more about each other ... where we come from, what we do, and what we have in common. There may even be the beginnings of a little flag football action ...


nice new sign

This just in ... I just picked up a new LifePoint a-frame sign from Sign-A-Rama in Clairemont Mesa. It looks really good. I may be forced to go back and order more. We also ordered a vertical banner as well. Haven't unrolled it yet but it's the same design as the a-frame.

On another note, I had a good lunch with Scott Julian, the lead planter at SeaPointe Christian Church in San Clemente. It was the first chance we've had to meet in person. If you're in south Orange County, go straight to SeaPointe this Sunday.

being coachable

One of the things that attracted me to planting a church through Stadia is their approach to planter care. A key part of this strategy is that I'm assigned a coach. We meet once a month to discuss the nuts and bolts of starting new churches ... plus he is available by phone or email anytime I have a question or idea. In addition, I know he is going to ask me tough questions about how things are going and what I can do better.

I've come to believe that every pastor should have a coach and someone they are coaching. In established churches it's very rare for a pastor to have a coach/mentor that they meet with on a regular basis. It's just not the way things have been done. Having been one of those pastors for a number of years, I know that most of them try to offset this by reading and attending conferences. But it's not the same as having a real person who knows you and your church and knows you well enough to ask the right questions.

Which brings me to another observation: the need to be coachable. Quite honestly, a good number of people are not willing to be coached. This is as true inside the church as it is outside the church. Perhaps it's pride, or youth, or an unwillingness to expose oneself to tough questions. Whatever the reason, it's not healthy.

As LifePoint grows and continues to add key volunteers and eventually paid staff, a person's ability to remain coachable will be a top priority.

Recommended link: Leadership Network.


putting in a good word for lifepoint

Each day I get an email entitled, “Online Spin.” It’s written for people who market products or services electronically. I take what it says and then translate it into church principles and ideas.

The goal in electronic marketing is to make it as personal as possible. Why? Because word of mouth of advertising is always the most effective. No matter how personal an electronic campaign can be, at the end of the day, it is still more effective to write a handwritten note, make a personal phone call, or speak in person.

One of the things I love to see are people bringing friends to LifePoint. This has happened every Sunday since our Grand Opening! I am humbled by the confidence you place in us every time you invite a friend or neighbor.

Having said that, I want to pledge this to you: We will strive to make every Sunday gathering a meaningful and enjoyable experience. If you will bring your friends, we will do our best to see that they experience the best of God.


investing yourself in community

The following is from LifePoint's weekly newsletter.

It has been almost ten years since my mother died. Tonya and I were living here in San Diego, not far from where LifePoint meets. In the course of about three weeks, I experienced the true meaning of Christian community.

When mom was put on life-support, our friends at church purchased an emergency airline ticket for me to travel home. When she died two weeks later, they did the same – this time also paying for Tonya to travel with me.

Mom was hospitalized in Peoria, IL, across the river from my hometown. During the time we waited in ICU, we had a steady stream of visitors come sit with us. Almost every single one of them was a friend from church. Many of them stayed for hours while we took turns spending time with mom.

One episode remains vivid. It was Thanksgiving Day and we were gathered at the hospital. It was raining cats and dogs. That afternoon we were joined by a church leader who had recently been transferred to New Orleans. He had just flown back into Peoria to be with his family. Before heading home, he came to the hospital. I’ll never forget that simple yet generous gesture.
Though my personal ministry style was much different than the church I grew up in, I was never more proud to be from that church.

Four years later, the scene replayed itself when my father died of cancer. It was shortly after his funeral that I had a conversation with one of my brothers. He was struck by the level of support our church had shown us and wondered what it would be like when he died.

In the kindest way I could, I said, “Did any of your drinking buddies come sit at the hospital with you? If you don’t build these relationships now, they won’t be there when you need them.”

Are you investing in the kinds of relationships that will be there when you need them?

another great day

Another great Sunday at LifePoint. Our theme for the day was water:community. We looked at the need for investing ourselves into relationships ... if we don't do that now, they won't be there when we need them. Part of the message was autobiographical -- how my personal family has been blessed by our church communities.

Our band did a few acoustic numbers and it was a good change of pace. We're continuing to make progress on many fronts and it's great to be a new church. We also had 28 newcomers between our 9:00 and 10:45 gatherings!

Our LifePoint podcasts are now listed in the podcast directory on iTunes! You can go here to subscribe yourself. Or browse the podcast directory on iTunes and download it there.

I'm recording our podcasts directly to my iPod using a Belkin voice recorder. I'm very impressed with how well it records. I plug it into the jack, hit record, stick it in my shirt pocket, and start talking. Then the next time I sync my iPod it automatically transfers it as a voice memo. From there I convert it from a wav to mp3, upload it to our server, and that's it!


drowing in ankle-deep water

This is one is to be filed under the "for what it's worth" category.

Wading through the shallow water on NBC's 'Today' show
2:12 p.m. October 14, 2005

NEW YORK – If Michelle Kosinski's canoe had sprung a leak on NBC's
"Today" show Friday, she didn't have much to worry about.

In one of television's inadvertently funny moments, the NBC News
correspondent was paddling in a canoe during a live report about flooding in
Wayne, N.J. While she talked, two men walked between her and the camera – making
it apparent that the water where she was floating was barely

Matt Lauer struggled to keep a straight face, joking about the "holy men"
who were walking on water. "Have you run aground yet?" Katie Couric

"Why walk when you can ride?" Kosinski replied.

Later, an NBC News spokeswoman explained that Kosinski had been riding in
deeper water near an overflowing river down the street, but there were concerns
that the current was too strong for her.

"It's not like we were trying to pass it off as something it wasn't,"
spokeswoman Lauren Kapp said.

Of course not. The news would never do that.


two stories from the bay area

This morning as I was watching the news, there came an update regarding a murder that happened near where we used to live in the Bay Area (read story). It involved a 16-year-old suspect who beat a woman to death, carved satanic symbols on her back, and then used her shower to clean himself up. The story was so gruesome it even appeared to impact one of the reporters -- which is no small feat these days.

The other story involved a mother who threw her three small children into the Bay because the voices in her head told to. A passerby saw what happened and called 911; the San Francisco Fire Department was there within four minutes. The children were no where to be found. Later two bodies were recovered and they are still searching for the third child.

We live in a dark, fallen world. The San Francisco area is a good example of what happens when the church retreats from her mission. Whenever God's people give ground, the enemy is there to occupy it.

Too often the church assumes a defensive posture when it should be on the offensive. Jesus told Peter that he would build the church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:17-19). Gates are not offensive weapons but defensive positions. In other words, when the church storms the gates of hell to fight back the powers of darkness, hell cannot hold it back.

That is why Jesus taught about how light dispels darkness. God help us to shine our lights.

whew and i'm rediscovering apples

Our youngest daughter, Hope, decided to come down sick this past Tuesday night and I had to rearrange my Wednesday schedule to stay at home with her. All I can say is ... whew, it wore me out. By mid-afternoon she was feeling much better and we began the marathon Uno sessions. That typically means we play until she wins.

On another note, I've rediscovered apples. I can remember eating apples as a child and I've enjoyed apple pies since then. But I haven't been one to sit down and eat an apple. Until today. To go along with my meat and cheese lunch, I decided to have an apple, too. It was nice. I may have to do that more often.


we be podcasting now

I was just thinking ... if my parents were still alive, I'd be spending much of my time trying to explain technology to them. Anyway ...

We now have LifePoint's weekend messages available as podcasts. You can listen to the mp3's at http://lifepointcast.blogspot.com by clicking on the title of the message. Or, if you prefer the podcast you can subscribe using this link. For those of you using an aggregator like iTunes, simply past http://feeds.feedburner.com/LifepointPodcast into the box under Advanced/Subscribe to Podcast. This will allow you to be automatically updated.

We'll try to have them up by Tuesday afternoon each week. Of course, you don't get the smell of the coffee but it's the next best thing.

the variety of life

I've decided to take a break from preparing my message for the end of this month and blog a bit. It's all because of a book title: "The Violin Explained." No, I haven't grown soft and decided to take up the violin -- though I might just to spite you.

It's the title of a book a lady is reading on the couch at Twiggs. The title made me want to look around and see what everyone else was doing (especially since I'm probably the only one writing a sermon). There's an elderly lady doing her crossword puzzle; most days she brings a book but today must be puzzle day. Another lady is working through a textbook of some kind. I'm not curious enough to be nosey. The guy in shades with his iPod is hiding behind a laptop screen. A middle-aged man with the only pressed shirt in the place is flipping through pages of a spreadsheet. Trumpet boy is blowing his horn at an outside table.

This is what I love about Twiggs -- and San Diego in general. It's variety. It's a daily dose of different.

I like preparing my messages "out in the open" because it gives me a sense of the sights and sounds of our community.

I wonder what they would think if they knew I was listening to George Winston play Charley Brown tunes on my iPod.


a great wedding

Saturday evening Tonya and I attended the wedding of a young lady who was a part of our first church ministry. It was a fantastic event. The wedding was held at the La Mesa Church of Christ and the reception was downtown at the Westin. Gene and Sandy Watkins are the proud parents and Shannon was a beautiful bride.

We still remember when she got braces ...

i'd still be waiting at red lobster

Last Friday night rolls around and Tonya and I had a night without the girls. So we make our way to Red Lobster to enjoy dinner before catching a movie. We sat down at 5:00 and I left at 6:15 without ever seeing even the shadow of our food. But I did enjoy four refills of Diet Coke and a bowl of Gumbo. Our waitress took our order, went on break, came back from break, and apologized for our food taking so long.

What did we order that required such lengthy preparation? Tonya ordered fried shrimp and I asked for a salad!

Finally, sometime around 6:30, the manager appeared and gave our food to Tonya for free. I did enjoy the salad ... the next day!


urban, postmodern church planting

I attended a breakfast meeting of several San Diego-based church planters. We're a bunch of guys in our 20s and 30s (and maybe 40s) who've planted churches within the past two or three years. We meet on a semi-regular basis to catch up and fine-tune each other.

Like myself, each of these guys have chosen to plant in urban areas rather than in suburban subdivisions. There obviously needs to be healthy, missional churches in the suburbs but we also need healthy, missional churches in our urban areas. Our urban areas of today are not the urban areas of the 1970s. They are increasingly populated with young, educated, passionate, artistic people. Here in San Diego we are experiencing a renaissance in our urban areas. The church must be a part of that.

From a purely pragmatic standpoint, it may be a bit tougher to plant in urban areas because you don't have the exponential population growth that you may see in suburbia. But God has always been concerned with cities and there is a certain energy you only find in urban areas.

I believe our culture will be more urban than suburban in the future. Some sociologists and demographers use the term exurban to describe the renewal happening in older neighborhoods. Whatever you choose to call it doesn't matter. What does matter is that Christ-followers develop a plan to impact those neighborhoods.

It's exciting to be a part of what God is doing in the city.

news map

If you're a news junkie like me, and I know there's at least two others, you'll like this link: http://www.marumushi.com/apps/newsmap/newsmap.cfm. It's courtesy of Will Edwards and it's fascinating. It takes news stories and ranks them according to what people are paying attention.

Yes, Will might seem to be a mild-mannered musician but he's a news junkie, too!


chicago still tugs at my heart strings

As a self-admitted baseball fan, I must confess to being a die-hard Cub fan. Along the way I've cheered on the Padres and Giants, and went to a few Oakland A's games as well. But I've never been a big fan of the Chicago White Sox. For people from in and around Chicago, it's rare that someone cheers for both teams. This is in spite of the fact that they are in different leagues. You just don't do it.

Most of my lack of affection for the White Sox has to do with my lack of affection for the American League. In my mind, real baseball is when the pitcher bats. That's just the way I am.

So ... for that reason, I've never really followed the White Sox. But here's where the Illinois in me comes out. The White Sox are in the ALCS and I'm cheering them on. Well, not enough to actually watch any of the games, but I'd still like to see some team from Chicago make it to the World Series. And if my Cubbies can't get the job done, that only leaves the Sox.

Go Sox!


pardon my grouchiness

I'm actually not real grouchy but I assume I should have some sort of feelings about getting a speeding ticket. A motorcycle cop pulled me over less than a block away from Twiggs and said he paced me going 50 in a 25. Impossible!

making a difference

When was the last time you woke up and thought to yourself, “I have the opportunity to make an eternal difference in someone’s life today”?

Perhaps each of us should have those word printed on little cards and stuck to our bathroom mirror. It wouldn’t hurt. In fact, it might help us to see our daily interactions as divine opportunities to bless someone else.

Too often we see a situation through a temporary set of eyes. It’s an interruption. It’s a chance meeting. We miss the clues that allow us glimpses into people’s real needs – the needs for love, forgiveness, and purpose.

Tomorrow morning take a look around. See people not as a certain age or gender but as people who have eternal destinies. Not as a waitress or clerk but as a person destined to spend eternity with or without God.

It may be your smile or word of encouragement that helps set a person down a different path.

Don’t shy away from putting in a good word for Jesus to a friend or neighbor. You might be the only person who ever does.


words of wisdom from a.w. tozer

I receive a daily dose of A.W. Tozer (and so should you). Here is today's installment.


Failure and Success: The Small and the Great

..Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." --1 Peter 5:5

Some time ago we heard a short address by a young preacher during which he quoted the following, "If you are too big for a little place, you are too little for a big place."

It is an odd rule of the kingdom of God that when we try to get big, we always get smaller by the moment. God is jealous of His glory and will not allow anyone to share it with Him. The effort to appear great will bring the displeasure of God upon us and effectively prevent us from achieving the greatness after which we pant.

Humility pleases God wherever it is found, and the humble person will have God for his or her friend and helper always. Only the humble are completely sane, for they are the only ones who see clearly their own size and limitations. Egotists see things out of focus. To themselves they are large and God is correspondingly small, and that is a kind of moral insanity. (This World: Playground or Battleground?)

"Lord, help me never to be too big for a little place. In humility let me serve and revel in You as my 'friend and helper always.' Amen."


i've been goosed

After enjoying the Julian Melodrama and returning home, I did a quick turnaround and zipped over to La Mesa for a concert by the Gooses. Little did I know that it was also Octoberfest in downtown La Mesa. The closest I could park was about a mile away (not such a bad thing after eating apple pie in Julian).

Cosmos Cafe was packed to standing room only. And it was good to see people ordering coffee. The Gooses played for about an hour and hammed it up as usual. Dave decided to sport a nice 80s-styled headband. They play an unusual brand of music that is somewhat reminescent of Barenaked Ladies -- both musically and lyrically. In other words, it's just plain fun.

I'm not sure where their inspiration comes from but I have suspicions that it involves late-night television and old Mexican food.

melodrama in julian

If you've not ever been to the Julian Melodrama, you need to go. It's a blast. A melodrama is a play that is purposefully over-acted. But what sets the Julian Melodrama is that it encourages audience participation. You get to boo the villian and cheer for the hero. You can even talk back to the actors on stage. In between acts you get entertained by the Julian Triangle Club chorus, also known as the "Floozies." When the average age is somewhere around retirement ...

Go. Make plans and go. Eat apple pie afterwards.

saturday morning cartoons

Kids nowadays. They take so much for granted -- like Saturday morning cartoons. Back in my day (I can say that now), we didn't have round-the-clock cable channels dedicated to cartoons. We had Saturday mornings. We had ABC, NBC, and CBS. Or, if you were predestined to be an engineer, you had PBS. Even the commercials were special because that was about the only time you would see them.

We had something to look forward to, something to live for!


looking out a new window

I just realized that there are two liquor stores on the same corner as Twiggs. Generally speaking, I tend to be fairly observant about my surroundings and such. But I find myself today sitting at a different table and looking out a new window. It's amazing what you notice when you look out a new window.

Life is like that. What new experiences are all around us but we never see them because we continue to look through old windows? What new relationships could bless our lives if we only knew they were possible?

Sometimes major life-change doesn't require a major upheaval. Maybe it only requires looking at your current situation through a different set of eyes, to get a second (or third) opinion.

In some respects, I may be talking about the paradigm through which you organize your life. A paradigm is simply a set of boundaries or principles that guide your decisions. It doesn't have to be that fancy. It may just require a few extra minutes of brainstorming new solutions.

It might be a good experiment to try and look at life through a new window.


sad stories

As a father, there are certain news stories which especially grab at my heart. With the round-the-clock coverage of cable news, it's now possible to know what's going on in parts of the country you otherwise would never have heard of -- much less ever visit.

I watched this morning a mother announcing that a dead body was indeed the body of her 17-year-old daughter. The daughter had been missing for several weeks and was finally located in rural Virginia. As they typically do, as the mother is talking the network is flashing pictures of the daughter in a separate window. Young. Bubbly. A graduation photo. Having breakfast with dad. A freshman in college.

No mother (or father) should ever have to go through that.

There's little doubt in my mind that we live in a fallen world. With the bombardment of news, it's unfortunate that we often build up a tolerance to the pain that's in our world. Just because we don't feel the pain of others doesn't eliminate the reality of their pain.

Where's the hope? In Jesus Christ and his church.


get goosed

One of my favorite local groups will be playing a free concert this Saturday (10.8.05) at Cosmos Coffee in La Mesa at 7 PM. The Gooses play a style of music that's impossible to classify except to say that it's fun. Dave, Sam, Jeff, and Jesse play a mix of music that just makes you smile. You can't find better music than this FOR FREE!

I'm planning at getting there around 7:00 and hanging out for a while. For you LifePoint readers, you'll likely see them at LifePoint in either November or December for our local artist showcase.

Let's pack the house and get goosed.


film and theology night -- you're invited

It sounds much more formal than it really is. What we’ll do is watch a movie together and then follow it up with an informal discussion about the spiritual implications in the movie. It’s amazing what you can pick up when you just pay attention.

Our first Film and Theology night will start at 7 PM on October 14 at Jonathan’s house (5062 55th Place, near SDSU). We’ll be watching Bruce Almighty (who said it had to be a drama!).

You’re going to do something anyway on a Friday night … why not eat pizza, watch a movie, and fine-tune your spiritual radar.


another great day in the pocket

Week four at LifePoint has been packed up and we're already working towards week five. Each week we continue to make progress and move forwards -- this week being no exception. I'm humbled each week by the people who serve graciously and with a smile.

Today we unveiled a few elements to our worship experience. Dee brought the first of five new original paintings she's doing that tie in with our theme. Our creative arts team put together a prayer station that helped people focus on the stuff they're building their lives with. Our music continues to improve.

I made one slight change to my teaching style and read the Bible passages directly from my Bible rather than putting them on the screens. We really want to emphasize the importance of reading the Bible and felt like this would help reinforce that. With the exception of the times I've preached in settings without multimedia, I haven't preached this way since 1996 or 1997. In one sense it felt like returning to my preaching roots -- not at all a bad thing.

We also had Jason Turtle as our local featured artist. He did two very excellent sets and people seemed to take a liking to his music. I'm very excited about LifePoint becoming a bridge to the local arts community. Plus, we get to hear some great local music!

Right now I'm waiting for the girls to get out of choir practice (at Lemon Grove Christian Church) and we'll be heading over to The Rock tonight. We like to be able to enjoy worship as a family since our Sunday mornings have us running at high speeds in multiple directions.

God is good.


jason turtle live at lifepoint

i'm ipodding now

Yesterday, I broke down and entered the world of iPods. It's the first money I've ever spent on anything made by Apple ... a sure sign of end times if there ever was one. As I age, I have started to become more intrigued by the Mac and Apple in general.

So ... I bought this iPod (along with another iPod for Tonya) and have started putting my cd's on there. Actually, I first bought a few songs on iTunes (Lyle Lovett and Michael Tiernan) and have just now started importing songs. I can't see how these guys get 15,000 songs on there unless there's a way to batch load all 15,000. Which raises another question: who needs 15,000 songs?