Sunday, November 22, 2009


Disclaimer: I know that everyone has different standards on movies, music, etc. Please check into these yourselves. You may decide that they will be song or movies or books that you don't consider appropriate for you.

Song: Motorcycle Drive-By by Third Eye Blind. They had some hits. You may know Semi-Charmed Life, How's it Gonna Be, and Never Let You Go. This one is a bit under the radar. Great song. It builds toward the end. And, as was the case before, this song now plays when you come to the blog.

Movie: Stranger than Fiction. This movie is a comedy (and it is really funny), but it also takes on some really serious and thoughtful themes. Keep watch especially for the conversations between Will Ferrell and Dustin Hoffman. It is done in a light way, but they are dealing themes of life and death.

Book: Telling the Truth by Frederick Buechner. It is a short book about telling the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is simple, and yet very profound. You can read it in one or two sittings if you want. Great, great stuff.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Discipline of the Lord

So, I wrote this article for our church's newsletter, which will come out later this month. At Good Shepherd, we are, as a body, focusing on Hebrews 12. Some questions have come up concerning the discipline of the Lord. I wrote responses to some FAQs. I hope it is helpful (and thoughtful).
What is God’s Discipline?

Believers in Jesus Christ have all been adopted as sons and daughters of God. As a good Father, God disciplines his children. When God disciplines us, He uses challenging circumstances to refine us, so that we will be more and more like Jesus.

Is there a
difference between discipline and punishment?
A coach disciplines his players by having them run laps. An officer disciplines the soldiers under his command by having them run drills. A mother disciplines her children by giving them household chores. These actions are not always punishments, but they are always discipline. In each case, discipline is being given in order to train and grow the person being disciplined.
Discipline can include punishment, but discipline does not equal punishment.
There are certainly times when we experience God’s discipline in the form of direct consequences for foolish or sinful choices. But even when this is the case, God brings this discipline to help us grow, not to crush us or to push us away from Him. And many other times God disciplines us simply because there are areas of growth that need to be addressed. As a good Father, God wants to see us grow in endurance and strength. To accomplish this, He brings challenging circumstances to give opportunity for growth.

How do I know when God is disciplining me?

Again, don’t think of discipline solely in the form of punishment. We often respond to difficulties by asking, “What have I done to deserve this suffering?” In the book of Hebrews, the writer does not tell his readers that God is disciplining them because He is upset with them for something they have done. He says that God is disciplining them so that they will be able to endure (Hebrews 12:7).

It is not true that God disciplines us only in response to a specific sin that we have committed. However, it is true that God disciplines us because we need growth in certain areas of our lives.

Whenever we experience difficulties, we can consider it God’s discipline. It may be that God is exposing our sins and failures and is allowing us to experience the consequences of those actions. It may also be that God is exposing areas of weakness and compromise and is giving us an opportunity to be strengthened through relying on Him. In either case He invites us to draw near to Him and to be strengthened by Him.

How should I respond if God is disciplining me?

Hebrews 12 calls us to respond to discipline in verses 12-13: “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather may be healed.” In response to discipline, endure! Draw near to God. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:16 then invites us to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace and help in time of need.” Draw near to God. Trust Him. Ask Him to expose areas where you need growth. Ask Him to search you, and to bring healing and growth to your life.

Also, take note of the reminder in Hebrews 12:9: “Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?” If you are experiencing God’s discipline, don’t run from it. Accept it as the love-gift of a good Father. Some of us might pray, “God, give me strength so that I can be more disciplined.” Few of us, however, rejoice when God answers this prayer by bringing discipline.

We must experience discipline if we are going to be disciplined.

Stay under it. Endure. Thank God for caring enough to treat you as a son or daughter.

How can I get the most out of this Hebrews 12 study?

Continually ask yourself, “What areas of growth is God exposing in me right now?” Pray through those areas. Ask God for increased strength, so that you can grow in those areas of weakness. Also, pray for the entire church, including the leadership, that we all will be shaped and refined through this time, and that God will bring great transformation to us as individuals and to us as a church. Finally, pray for the team from Peacemakers as they prepare to return and to lead our body toward greater healing and growth.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Matthew is Five Years Old

This post is a couple days late, but I wanted to have pictures from Matt's Birthday party.
Last Thursday, November 12th, my son Matthew turned 5. He had a baseball-themed party with his grandparents, cousins, aunt and uncle, and some friends. You can see him in this picture, eating a baseball-decorated cupcake. You can also see that he himself is baseball-themed. He is wearing a Padres shirt (the one I wore in little league when I was 10) and a Dodgers hat. Don't worry, though, because his loyalties are not truly divided. He is a Dodger fan all the way.
Matt is already a pretty big baseball fan. He loves to play and to watch. But funny thing: Due to old video games and old videos, he is much more conversant in baseball from 10-20 years ago. He consistently watches the Dodgers' 1988 World Series video. Maybe the Dodgers will someday give us a more modern World Series video. We can only hope.

Some of Matt's Favorite Things
I already talked about Matt's love for baseball. It carries over also to football, soccer, and basketball. His love for any particular sports usually follows whatever sport is in season. Baseball is still king right now, but basketball and football are making some noise.
Matt also loves to read and to learn. He really amazes me with his ability to focus. I have mentioned that Karina is teaching him Latin right now. He is just eating it up. He is also trying to teach Jack as he goes.
Matt loves to be active, loves to hang with his friends (especially Jake and Ty), loves to help his Mom in the kitchen, and loves to be goofy (as you can see from the picture).

My Favorite Things about Matt
I love how Matt is gentle with his little brother, and how he likes to help him learn. When they are in their bedroom at night clowning around, you can often hear Matt say, "Oops, I'm sorry Jack. Jack, can you say, 'I forgive you'?"
I love how Matt loves to learn. It is fun to watch him get joy out of life. He wants to know everything from Geography to Math to Science.
I love Matt's increasingly tender heart toward God. I am really thankful for how he is interested in learning about Jesus, interested in praying, and how he responds more and more to direction and correction. I pray that this continues all his life. One of our main prayers for him is that he will be responsive to God, and that, through Christ, the Father will draw him close and captivate him.

Fun Memories
It is hard to believe that I am the Dad of a five year-old. In some ways it feels like Matt has always been with us. In other ways it is crazy to think that we have been parents for 5 years. Some of my favorite memories of Matt involve his clever wit:
* Matt first word was a sarcastic "okay" in response to us telling him not to do something.
* While Karina was pregnant with Jack, and while she and I were joking around about outlandish middle names we could give him, Matt suggested that we could name him, "Jack Cantaloupe."
* A few months ago while I was trying to take advantage of a teachable moment, Matt said to me, "Well, we've been going around on this for a while now."

I thank God for both of my sons. I am truly blessed. Happy Birthday, Matty. I am so glad to be your father.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Joshua Radin Concert.

So, while I am on the subject of Joshua Radin. Here is a little about the concert.
Karina and I got to see Joshua Radin at the Aladdin in Portland. It is a relatively small venue (about 600 seats). It was a really fun evening for us.
Here we are outside the theater after the concert. We had to snap a picture, just to prove we were there.

Here is one of the pictures I got of the concert. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take videos. I don't remember what song is going on right now. You might be able to see that Joshua is wearing a smedium "Powell's" shirt. That was a real crowdpleaser.

This is during the song "Sky." The whole band came and gathered around one mic as they played the song. It was really fun.

I wish I had more footage, but we spent the time enjoying the concert instead of simply chronicling it. In case you care, Joshua did 5 songs off We Were Here. . .
What If You
Everything'll Be Alright
. . .6 songs of Simple Times
One of Those Days
I'd Rather Be with You
Brand New Day
No Envy, No Fear
You've Got Growing Up to Do
. . .and then several new songs that will be on an upcoming record.
It was a great show, and it was nice not to have our ears ringing after a concert. Mellow.
One of my favorite tidbits of the concert was that Joshua said he wrote I'd Rather Be with You while sitting on the Santa Monica Pier. That is one of my all-time favorite places. Fun connection.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


So, I am going to do this from time to time. This is my first post to draw attention to things that are underrated. In most of these posts I will probably point out an underrated song, movie, and book. Maybe, as I get into it, I will draw attention to other underrated things.

Disclaimer: I know that everyone has different standards on movies, music, etc. Please check into these yourselves. You may decide that they will be songs or movies or books that you don't consider appropriate for you.

Song: No Envy, No Fear by Joshua Radin.
I have grown to be a big fan of Joshua. Karina and I just saw him in concert last Friday. He has a lot of great songs. This one may be a little under the radar. I could recommend a lot of his stuff, though. Really great. Check it out in Itunes. And, in case you didn't notice, it is the song that plays right now when you come to the blog.

Movie: Minority Report. It may be tough to think of a Tom Cruise movie being underrated, but this movie just gets better each time I watch it. It is not a light movie. It deals with heavy themes such as murder, guilt, loss, justice, and free will.

Book: The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva. I could have chose just about any Daniel Silva book. Most of his novels are thrillers about a Jewish secret agent. Really interesting and engaging. I have read them all. They are fast reads and really enjoyable.


So, it has been a long time since I have blogged. I am going to get it going again. Sort of like a reboot. Tell your friends!

I thought I would start my first "re-post" with some pics of the fam.
Here is Jack. He is currently a big fan of Larry (of VeggieTales fame), dancing, and water. It is not so much that he loves to drink water (although he is not against it), but it is that he LOVES playing with and in water. In this picture he was roaming around a fountain near a Baja Fresh. He kept putting his hands in the water and then jumping in the puddles around it.
Speaking of water, we have made one run so far at potty training Jack. It did not take in one weekend. I think sometime around Thanksgiving I am going to try a crash course. Some of you may remember how that went with Matt. If you don't know, here is a link to the post about it:
Scroll about half-way down and enjoy the ride.

Matt is getting ready to turn 5 in a couple of weeks. He currently enjoys baseball (watching and playing), learning Latin with his Mom, doing crafts, and playing with his cousins. Matt is in preschool again and his favorite part about it is the crafts. He has been enjoying the Chronicles of Narnia as Karina and I have been reading them to him lately (we are almost through The Silver Chair!)
Here we all are during our Colorado trip from late June/early July. I may give some more pics on this later, but just wanted to give a somewhat updated picture of Karina and me (we always get a lot of the kids, but few with both of us in the same picture). Karina has been staying busy by teaching Latin to Matt and working with Jack to get settled into his big-boy-bed and to get less dependent on his pacifier. She also has been reading back through the Jane Austen novels.
I have been adjusting to some new responsibilities at the church (more preaching and overseeing small groups). Meanwhile I have been getting tackled a lot by my boys. I have also done a lot of great reading. More on that later also.
So, this is just a welcome back reboot. Stay tuned.