trolley adventures continue

This morning I arrive at the trolley station, trot up the stairs, and start to wait for the trolley to arrive. Feeling a bit cold (OK, by San Diego standards it was cold), I decided to run back to the car to get my coat. As I'm returning to the station I see my trolley roll off into the distance. At least I was warm while waiting for the next trolley.

So ... when it's time to leave work, I get down to the street (from my 3rd floor office) and remember I had left my coat up in the office. Jogging back up the steps, I grab my coat, and hit the street again. I'm zipping up my coat as I see my trolley rolling off into the distance. In my mind I'm saying, "unbelievable." I guess I could have said it out loud and no one would have thought anything about it since it is downtown.

So ... I wait for the next trolley to arrive, which takes about 30 minutes. When it does arrive, it is a two-car trolley as opposed to the normal four or six car trolley. It's barely started on its route and it's already crowded like a cattle car. And it only gets worse with each successive stop.

Directly in front of me is a lady talking out loud, to no one in particular. My first thought is that she was talking on a bluetooth. Then I notice she doesn't have a bluetooth. Then I try not to make eye contact because the stuff she's talking about is really strange.

But at least I had my coat. And I was warm.


a bit melancholy

Back when my father died, we divided up dad's belongings among myself and my four brothers. This included dad's coin and silver collection. Since 2000, my share of the coins and silver has traveled with us from San Francisco to Atlanta to San Diego. Every now and then I would take it out, look up information on the Internet (because everything you find on the Internet is true), and update a spreadsheet I had started years ago.

Yesterday as I was reading the newspaper, I noticed a three page ad for a traveling coin and jewelry show. I had been considering selling part of the collection -- having just looked up local coin dealers last weekend. So I packed up my collection in an old camcorder bag and went to the show. The buyer quoted prices for the different pieces and then asked me what I wanted to sell.

I hadn't told him where the coins had come from. I sat there for a few moments and then decided to sell less than half of what I had brought. Even then, I was extremely torn. As I left the show, I felt bad for selling what I had saved for so long and had hoped to pass down to my own daughters. I know dad's intentions were to benefit his children and he saved what he had in order to bless his family. Even still, it was a time of mixed emotions. I think I drove home on auto-pilot because my mind was elsewhere.

I was thinking about my dad and my children. I was thinking about the relatively small worth of the coins and silver compared to the immeasurable worth of the memories they carried. I allowed myself a few moments of sentimentality -- or maybe I'm just getting old and weepy. Either way, or a little of both, I'm thankful for memories and traditions and legacies. And a bit sad, too.

man versus food

How do you get a job traveling the country and eating food? That's what I'm wondering as I'm sitting here watching Adam on "Man v. Food" on the Travel Channel. This has become one of our family's favorite shows.


blessings and challenges

Starting a new church carries with it a great number of challenges, some more mundane than others (think bureaucratic paperwork). Church planters start new churches because they actually enjoy change and the challenges that come with it. That’s why so many of us new church pastors are a bit odd.

Just as starting a new church brings many challenges, it also brings many blessings. We get to see a people discover God and grow in their relationship with Jesus. There is the slight but significant change in language, when newcomers shift from talking about “your” church to “our” church.

The greatest blessings always involve people. The lifeblood of any church is her people. Here at LifePoint, we were privileged to start the church with a handful of people we already knew. When stepping out into uncertainty, it’s good to have a few familiar faces to accompany you.

We also have had the opportunity to meet many new people along the way. This has been one of my greatest joys as a pastor: watching God bring people into our church community and then making them a special part of our lives.

Justin and Claudia Gramm are two of those special people that God graciously led into our church. Justin came to us at a time when we were struggling to have good music during worship. From a humble beginning with just one person in the band (himself), Justin helped put together a fantastic team of musicians and vocalists. In a world of uncertainty, I could always be certain of one thing: our music would be done well.

As many of you may know, Sunday, January 25, will be Justin’s last day leading worship at LifePoint as he and Claudia begin to seek God’s next place of service. There has been no falling out or conflict. Life simply has seasons. God brought Justin and Claudia to LifePoint at just the right time and we believe God’s sense of timing is still intact.

Beyond the music, Justin and Claudia have added a friendliness and joy to our church that will be missed. While we will miss them at LifePoint, we can celebrate that they are still a part of God’s kingdom and God’s kingdom will continue to benefit from their many gifts. It’s an irony of the Christian faith that we can mourn and celebrate at the same time.

I thank God for the season we had together.


vote for this dorrito's commercial

My buddy Bobby from Opportunity Camp is in one of the last four commercials competing for the Dorrito's spot during the Super Bowl. Go to www.crashthesuperbowl.com and VOTE for "too delicious." He is the one who winks.


turbo tax commercial

Very rarely does a commercial cause me to laugh out loud but when it does ... I find it on YouTube. Turbo Tax has been running commercials featuring green men from U.S. currency. Here is the one that made me laugh.

"Your deduction needs a diaper change."


podcast updated

I just uploaded the first three messages in our new series at church entitled "Chasing Your Lions," based on 2 Samuel 23:20-23. You can find them here.


more thoughts about the kidney

As a pastor and a Christ-follower, I’m generally not a fan of pre-nuptial agreements. To enter a marriage with a pre-arranged exit strategy seems to undermine the whole “till death do us part” business. In my mind, a pre-nuptial agreement seems to presume failure -- that the marriage won’t last.

Having said that, if you do decide to craft a pre-nuptial agreement, you might consider putting in a few clauses concerning organ donation. Not in the end-of-life-become-a-donor sense. More like: what if your husband or wife needs a kidney and you decide to donate one? Should you get it back if the marriage ends in divorce?

One husband thinks so. Richard Batista, a Long Island doctor, donated a kidney to his now estranged wife back in 2001. After a long divorce battle, he has decided to ask for his kidney back.

I’ve heard of couples arguing over jewelry, paintings, houses, even pets -- but never have I heard a couple argue over a kidney. One of the best lines I’ve read in news reports comes from Lisa Bloom, a legal analyst for CBS News:

“She ripped out his heart, but he doesn’t get to rip out her kidney.”

Pardon me for being insenstive, but that line would make a great country song. You might have to shorten it a bit, to something like: “You tore out my heart, now gimme my kidney back.”

Left to themselves, grievances will only fester into something worse than the original offense. That’s why Jesus tells us to be proactive in settling matters with those who have offended us:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Holding grudges and exacting revenge may provide a temporary sense of relief but in the end only do greater damage to ourselves and others.

Put another way, if you give someone a kidney, let them keep it.


kidney follow-up

Writing that last post about the custody battle for the kidney reminded me of something I overheard on the trolley a few weeks ago. Riding home from work I hear this lady say right out of the blue: "Would you hold my liver?" I didn't look because I didn't want to know. Remember, it's the trolley.

kidney: common property

Has anyone else heard about the couple that's getting divorced and the husband wants some of his property back from his soon-to-be ex-wife. He wants his kidney back. It seems that prior to falling out of love he donated a kidney to his wife. Now he wants it back. Can you do that? Here's a blog post from the New York Times.


upcoming message

I've been asked to speak on the topic of "leading through discouragement" in a few weeks. A few thoughts are mulling around in my head ... leaders need to press in to God and press on when things get discouraging. Anyone have any thoughts?

softball draft

Went last night to the softball draft for the 8 and unders for Navajo softball. It was pretty laid back -- no wheeling and dealing. As far as I could tell, no cash was passed under the table and swearing was kept to a minimum. A certain redhead was drafted pretty high, too.


wednesday thoughts

These are rough times for a lot of people. Companies are down-sizing. Those that are left behind are picking up more of the slack. I left the house this morning with thoughts of paying the rent, bills, tuition, and trying to do the math in my head. Although we've thought of cutting the kids back to one meal a day, we haven't done so (yet). Even though I'm a pastor, I still need to remind myself that God is in control and doesn't need a government bailout. And he has also created us with freewill -- the ability to make choices. Even when life seems bleak, we still have a choice. I stopped doing the math long enough to remind myself of that. I can choose to let God be in control. As ironic as it may sound, that is a most liberating of thoughts!


change your tv, change your life

Has anyone else seen the new commercial for Sharp HD televisions? The tag line is "Change your tv, change your life." I wish someone would have told me that years ago ...


new teaching series at lifepoint

It’s not the end of the world to be small.

In the land of the National Football League, Darren Sproles is a boy among giants. Facing off against defensive lineman who weigh in the neighborhood of 300 plus pounds, Sproles is a small man in a big man’s world. Standing 5’6 and weighing only 181 pounds, Sproles would seem to have the odds stacked against him.

Yet as yesterday’s game shows, sometimes having the drive to win is more important than size alone. Darren Sproles darted past men nearly twice his size as he scored the winning touchdown in overtime. If the prize goes to the biggest on the field, Sproles would have finished near the end of the heap.

Today we are starting a new teaching series that looks at how we can live an extraordinary life by facing challenges head-on rather than shrinking back. We’ll focus on a person in the Old Testament who embodies the spirit of a Christ-follower.

Based on a book by Mark Batterson (In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day), the seven principles we’ll cover are:

  1. Having a Big View of a Big God
  2. Facing Your Fears
  3. Overcoming Adversity
  4. Learning to Embrace Uncertainty
  5. Taking Faith-Based Risks
  6. Seizing Your Opportunities
  7. Willing to Look Foolish

As we start a new year, I’m excited to be starting this new series. I’m even more excited to think of what is possible when God gets involved in a person’s life (in your life!).

If you're in the San Diego area, I hope you’ll join us at LifePoint for all seven messages. And bring a friend along, too. These are principles which have the potential to up-end the world and impact a person’s destiny.


old high school friend on cnbc

Here's a video of Jeff Ostrowski, a fellow East Peoria Community High School graduate, on CNBC commenting on the Bernie Madoff scandal.