I'm surrounded ...

I'm at the Padres game and I'm surrounded by Mormon missionaries ... At least there won't be a drunk guy within five feet.

the earth just moved

All I can say is "Whoa!" Sitting here at my desk at 11:42 on this beautiful Tuesday morning I felt my desk (and floor!) sway back and forth. It must have been an earthquake of some sort. Of course, it's comforting to know we work in a 100-year-old building!

Revision at 11:45 ...

According to the Union-Tribune website, it was a 5.8 on the Richter scale and located just north of San Diego.


I read a book last night

Every now and then I get in a reading mood. This past Sunday I picked up a paperback copy of "Night" by Elie Wiesel. I faintly remember reading it while in high school and had seen a hardback copy of it at Barnes and Noble recently. That being said, when I saw it for 99 cents at a thrift store (and in good shape), I gladly plunked down some loose change to buy it. Three hours later, after a grande coffee at Starbucks, I finished it and went home.

"Night" is Wiesel's recollection of being sent to a German concentration camp during World War II. It's a short but powerful read. The particular edition I had purchased also contained a copy of his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. One line in the speech jumped out at me and forced me to re-read it several times:

"Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately."

If you haven't read it before, I'd recommend you do so. If it's been a while, read it again.


leaving on the train

Tonya and the girls left on Wednesday on a train bound for Texarkana. We drove up to Union Station in Los Angeles and the girls boarded an Amtrak train. Here are a few pictures I snapped ...


random thoughts on prayer

Since I'm starting a new teaching series on prayer at LifePoint, I’d like to share a few reflections on prayer in general. These are drawn from quotes I have found meaningful as it relates to prayer.

“Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.”

That quote is from Phillips Brooks, a Boston pastor in the late 1800s. During his life he championed the cause of ending slavery and gave one of the most moving eulogies of President Abraham Lincoln the Sunday after his death*. He lived through difficult times and knew the temptation to pray for an easier path. But there is also an expectancy in his words -- pray for powers equal to your task and you’ll receive them.

“The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” - C. S. Lewis

My first thought: easier said than done! But what we do in those first few moments of the day really do set the tone for the rest of the day.

“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” - Samuel Chadwick

Chadwick once burned seven year’s worth of sermons because he felt he had been relying too much on self and not enough on God.

* The sermon on Lincoln is part of the "Making of America," a really cool portal that is a collection of historical works.


custom spa covers

We just released a new custom product builder at Blue Haven Pools and Spas Supplies Direct. It allows you to design a custom spa cover online. Of course, you need to be able to measure your existing spa ... we haven't figured out how to do that for you ... yet.

Custom Spa Covers


podcasts updated

I just pushed up another batch of podcasts for all of my twelve faithful listeners.

baseball's all-star game

In a few days, major league baseball will have its annual All-Star game. This particular game is significant (as far as baseball fans are concerned) because it will be the last All-Star game played at Yankee Stadium. Long considered baseball’s hallowed ground, Yankee Stadium will be torn down and a new stadium will be built for the Yankees.

A piece of American history will be lost. No longer will fans be able to refer to the Yankees ballpark as “the house that Ruth built.” Instead, they’ll have to point to a parking deck across the street and say, “That’s where it used to be.”

Gone will be the spot where Lou Gehrig stood after being diagnosed with ALS disease and said, “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”

Gone, too, will be the mound where Don Larson pitched the only perfect game in World Series history.

Converted to condos will be the grass where Notre Dame once played Army in a college football game. The game during which Knute Rockne delivered his “Win one for the Gipper” speech.

For people outside of the baseball family, those sorts of things seem trivial. After all, it is just game. Let me say it again -- it is just a game. But for people who love the sport, it’s a part of our national identity.

Perhaps that’s why I like the following quote from Leo Durocher. Known as one of baseball’s old-school managers, Durocher was often blunt and straight-forward. The fact that he managed the Cubs for a few years also endears him to me.

Durocher once commented on the similarities between baseball and church: “Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand.”

As both a baseball fan and a pastor, that hurts. It hurts because it’s often true. It’s one thing to sit through nine innings and not know what’s going on. After all, it is just a game.

But it’s unfortunate that some churches don’t make much of an effort to be understandable for newcomers (and old-timers, too). Because church isn’t a game -- it’s about life.

May God help us to help others understand what that life is all about.

I originally wrote this for our newsletter at LifePoint Church.


do it yourself lasik

A friend of mine referred me to this site today. It's too bad I didn't find it before I had a professional surgeon do my lasik surgery. I could have done it at home in the kitchen.

Lasik at Home

When you go there, make sure you click on the tab that says "Four Easy Steps."



fourth of july

The Fourth of July has always been a special holiday for me. My childhood memories are of going to Fondulac Park in East Peoria, establishing a beachhead with the family, and then racing around the park for hours with friends.

Later, when I was able to drive myself around, I started going across the river to the fireworks in Peoria. The Peoria fireworks had live music and grilled bratwursts -- it was big-time compared to running around Fondulac Park.

Tonya and I have carried on the tradition with our girls. When the girls were little, we went to Old Navy and bought these matching gray t-shirts that had a flag emblazoned on the front. We put Hope in her stroller and went to the 4th of July parade in Concord, a town just east of San Francisco. I kept that t-shirt until it was almost see-through ... something I didn’t wish to inflict on any passerby.

This past Friday, we took the girls to the fireworks show at Lake Murray. We walked down from the house to the lake with a few friends. Along one of the walking trails we set up camp, which consisted of a few chairs and a blanket. In the background we could hear a local band playing cover songs from the 1980s. Closing my eyes, I could almost smell the bratwursts grilling alongside the Illinois river.

The 4th of July reminds us of our story as Americans. It celebrates the birth of a great experiment -- the experiment that mixed liberty, freedom, justice, and democracy.
Has the experiment been conducted flawlessly? The obvious answer is no. Our story contains less-than-noble chapters: slavery, segregation, the Japanese internment, political scandals, moral failures. We have people who fall through the cracks and those who help push them through.

But that’s not our entire story. The American story contains many more chapters of personal sacrifice, creativity, entrepreneurship, benevolence, and individuals who simply did the right thing.

On Independence Day, we remember and celebrate our freedoms. Freedoms that are often used in ways our founding fathers never might have imagined but for which they gave their lives. As did thousands of men and women from subsequent generations, including today’s.

For whatever reason, God has made you a part of this story. What will history have to say about the chapter you are writing?