Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

In the spirit of our Advent Conspiracy, my wife Jodie and I have decided to deliver our Christmas love electronically this year!! I know, I know...it's a cheap thing to use technology to fuel frugality. But I mean this sincerely, so here it goes:

This year,
I am thankful to Jesus for the life that He has given me.
I am thankful for my wife Jodie, my daughter Alex, and my son Caleb.
I am thankful for the incredible people of Overlake Christian Church, for their dedication to Jesus, for allowing me to be on the journey with them, and for the staff and leaders there who make it a truly dynamic place to serve.
And I am thankful for you.

This year, in sincere humility, I encourage you to thank Jesus for ALL of His gifts in your life. I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and an ADVENTUROUS 2009! Join us for Christmas EVE, if you are up for braving the roads!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow Day

I spoke on Humility last week at church.

God chose to use that as a springboard to teach me humility. You see, here is a brokenness that almost all pastors have…and certainly, that I deal with from time to time, and that is the brokenness I call “Attendance Validation.” It means that, as a pastor, you are actually validated as a human being if the attendance in your church is strong and growing. If the attendance in your church has plateaued or is declining, you really have no purpose in life, and you might as well make an end of it. The Samauri call this hari-cari or seppuku, but some pastors I know perform emotional self-disembowelment every Monday morning.

The problem with serving at a church in the Northwest is this: the weather freaks people out. A lot. It rains a good amount, and rain freaks people out which makes their cars only drive as far as Starbucks. Occasionally it’s nice on a weekend, and it freaks people out and they scatter to the mountains, which they can suddenly see for a change. But it also happens, from time to time, that it snows, and when it snows here, people lose their minds.

They buy up ALL the gas at the gas station for their generators. You can’t find a BBQ lighter for sale in the state, people buy them by the gross. If we had bunkers, everyone would be hiding in them, as if was RED SNOW, with high radiation levels. Here is a true story…when it begins snowing people abandon their cars on the side of the road and walk home. I’m not making this up. It is an M. Night Shyamalan dream.

Back to my point: It snowed this weekend. It snowed last weekend. Attendance at my church was affected. (That’s the politically correct way to state things.)

I’ve been humbled. It’s a lesson I learn with some regularity…

So Jesus, I know my validation doesn’t come from attendance, but that it comes from who YOU say that I am. My value comes from the worth that YOU ascribe to me…and since worth is determined by what someone is willing to pay…and since you gave your LIFE for me on the cross…I have to conclude that my worth to you is priceless. THANK you, Jesus, for re-teaching a fundamental truth. I love the liberation that your truths bring…and…and...

I’m pretty sure I’ve been humbled enough, Lord.

So…maybe it could just be cloudy next weekend.

With a slight chance of no weather. Amen.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Come, see real
of this painful world.


Some people like Milton or Chaucer, but the poem form that speaks to me is Haiku. It might be an attention-span-thing.

Today, I walked with my 6 year old son, Caleb, through the World Vision Experience: AIDS exhibit. It was masterfully done, like you are stepping into Africa, and we both listened on the same Ipod to the story of Emmanuel, who was orphaned at age 4 by AIDS. You get to experience Emmanuel's story, which culminates in a clinic where you find out whether you test positive or negative to HIV.

Caleb was wide eyed, but not terrified. He gripped my hand firmly, but not desperately. At the end of the guided tour, the narration instructs you to pick up a photo of a child to pray for. Caleb grabbed a photo, placed it between his hands folded in prayer, and squeezed his eyes tightly shut. He prayed fiercely on behalf of this child...and suddenly I began to cry. It was my son's unbridled faith that really got to me. With the complete assurance that God loves kids, Caleb petitioned God on behalf of a little boy from Rwanda. The fragrance of a six year old, praying with determination for a 4 year old orphan, was overwhelmingly lovely.

Yes, this is a painful world.
Yes, the tragic is all around.
But that's not the story.
The story is that, for those with eyes to see, there are real flowers here as well.

Caleb, through World Vision, now sponsors Emmanuel, who shares a name with the boy whose story we heard. My daughter Alex also now sponsors a child.

Today, I simply recognize...
that God has given me two real flowers...
bringing the aroma of His love...
into this painful world.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Snapshot of AIDS

One of the nicest people I know plays percussion in our worship band at Overlake. She’s also one of the most amazing people I know. Everything that follows is her story, in her own words. It’s a bit more powerful than most of my blog-posts, but it is absolutely worth the read. -Mike

It’s not a secret that HIV is a dangerous disease, but when you hear about it, it’s through people who are mainly advocates. But you also pray to God, that it never infects anyone you know. I was one of those people who thought, it clearly would never happen to me…I was wrong, because now it’s what I have to deal with on a regular basis. At first I was in denial about it, I didn’t it want it to be a reality. So I chose never to discuss it and until this day I’ve only told five people.

After being at the AIDS forum at Overlake a couple weeks ago. I immediately knew that God wanted me to share my story. My first reaction was, why Lord? Why would you want all those people to know something that sensitive about me? Deep down I knew it was His will, but I still was hesitant. After lots of praying, crying & clinging to His words, I knew that God would never give a situation I couldn’t handle. HIV has been like a raw wound that I didn’t want to open. It’s so real, it just brings back bad memories, I had chosen to bury & nightmares that I don’t want to re-live. I have seen it affect my family and friends. It wasn’t until four years ago that I found out that they were all diagnosed with same disease, AIDS. So for the years before that, I wasn’t given an accurate explanation as to what seemed to kill some of the closest people in my life due to culture. In Uganda, when you have HIV, it’s such a disgrace and the most shameful thing you could ever bring to people who know you. You get shunned, disrespected and everyone considers you as a dead person walking. You’re feelings, actions even presence don’t matter anymore and I know exactly how that feels like.

My world came to a screeching halt when I received a phone call from my mom. She said, she needed to tell me, some not to so good news before I found out from anyone else. When she told me that she would have preferred telling me in person, then I knew it was serious. And those two hours were most excruciating pain I’ve ever endured. I found out that my mom and my youngest sister were infected with the HIV. She told me, she found out before my dad passed away and that my dad had had it as well. Here I thought he had passed away from complications due to pneumonia. Which was technically true, he had had a stroke a couple of months before. They both found out, through routine tests that were done before he got discharged from the hospital. After they came back home, the mood was different. My mom cried a lot, I thought she was worried about him and I clearly remember trying to comfort her and tell her that he was going to be fine. I missed talking to my dad, due to his speech being slurred, but every time we came in the room, his face brightened and he used his good arm to stroke us. Then one night, he got pneumonia & by the next afternoon we had lost him. After that, everything turned upside down, the only thing that calmed me was that he was with God. My mom assured my sister & I that God always takes care of all widows & orphans and not to worry at all. To be honest, I was relieved that Papa wasn’t in pain anymore, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t angry because he went too soon. I didn’t think it was fair, that I would never have him carry me on his shoulders, take me for walks in the neighborhood, while we chased each other’s shadows. I would never make breakfast with him. I would never have him pick me up from school to go & have ice-cream which happened twice a week without my mother’s knowledge. But of all the above, the most thing I was going to miss, was when he came back from work, he always called out excitedly, “Abaishikyi bagye.” Which meant,” My girls, where are my girls?” We would all literally scrabble from different corners of the house screaming, “Papa yigya” which meant, “Papa’s home!” And we just fought for all his attention. Overall I was going to miss being a typical Daddy’s girl!

After that phone call, so many things began to make sense. I found out he got infected through a blood transfusion, he had to get after we were all involved in a car accident. A drunk driver hit us and while we escaped with bumps & scrapes, my dad wasn’t that lucky, the broken windscreen glass had cut his head, neck & one of his wrists. By the time he got to the hospital he was in & out of conscious ness because he had lost a lot of blood. Back in the late 80’s hospitals at home just checked to see if the blood matched your blood group and they never tested it for any other diseases. As soon as he passed away, so many changes happened, traditionally my dad’s side of the family is entitled to take anything. So they wiped out my dad’s accounts, took some and sold some of our property. I guess to them, they thought it was only a matter of time before we died as well. My mom had finally had enough when someone suggested, that she should send Maureen (my sister) and I to the village to live with grandparents until we were old enough to get married & then she would receive half of our dowry (a groom’s payment to the bride’s relatives for their daughter). My mom had finally had enough after that statement, she became like a mother-bear guarding her cubs & she didn’t really care for what tradition & culture called for anymore. She put us up in Catholic boarding school when we about six & five. And made sure the headmistress knew that nobody was supposed to take us unless they had contacted her first. It wasn’t easy for her not to see us every other 3 months. But at least she had a little peace knowing that we had a safe place to stay, 3 meals a day & most importantly having an education. She also made sure that Maureen and I were tested for HIV as a precaution, every other semester for the first year. And by God’s amazing grace, we tested negative every time.

About six years later, my mom started to date again and when she got pregnant, things didn’t work out between her and the guy she was seeing. When she found out she was having twins, she was excited. In a way, she was lonely when we left for school and now she was going to have babies to fuss over, which would occupy her thoughts & free time. I now know she was scared of the possibility that the twins could be infected. Since she was already on medication, she looked fine & healthy and had unwavering hope that God’s will would be fulfilled. Unfortunately the babies were born premature, Robert my brother couldn’t make it and Melanie tested positive for HIV. My mom was so devastated she had just lost a son and she didn’t know if Melanie was even going to make it. I look up to Melanie in so many ways, she’s one strong fighter. She started the medication early which was a little strong for her already frail & weak body. Her baby teeth were so charred & black. We were always in hospitals when she couldn’t breathe on her own. And yet she never complained about taking her medicine everyday, she couldn’t play much but she didn’t sulk about staying indoors all the time. She just looked forward to much better days. She and my mom never let bad situations get to them. And we went through some bad experiences with relatives. I never could figure out why they treated us in a distant manner. They wiped down everything we touched or sat on. We were given special plates, cups even bed sheets & they would discard all these items immediately. It was so obvious that they want not going to be used again. When we questioned our mom about it, she calmly said, “Yes it was interesting, but don’t dwell on it, its snake-like behavior and I have taught you to be gentle like doves and to be like miracles to all you meet & know.”

I have another whole new appreciation for my mom, sisters & friends. I talk to my mom every week and am rejuvenated every time. My sisters are just incredible best friends to me and I continue to praise & glorify God for the time I have with them. I know that when that day comes when the tissue that makes white blood cells can’t produce anymore and their days are numbered, it will be scary and I don’t look forward to it. I worry for them, but then at the same time I know that God would never let me carry that burden, He simply asks that I play a role in handling it, it’s not my task, it’s His.

So join me in playing a role this advent, let’s give hope to others who are in my position, if not even worse. Let’s give them a good reason to wake up in the morning. Let’s educate more people both here & all over the world on how to prevent & control HIV. People in there 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s are all dying, which leaves seniors or grandparents to take care of the multiplying numbers of orphans. Instead of spoiling their grandchildren, they are working to put food on the table. Let’s give the orphans some dreams back. Dreams to go to school, to be ambitious, to get careers and be better examples for their communities, hence creating a better tomorrow.

I want to end with this quote from Fredrick Wood, “The only life that counts is the life that costs.” It reminds me that true discipleship means true sacrifice and yes there is some element of cost as always. But as living sacrifices, we should remember that resources are not insufficient when God is involved. Let’s give thanks to the Almighty, for all he has provided and to show more gratitude especially in this time of Advent.

Thank You for hearing my story.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ferris Bueller

Because someone dropped a Ben Stein video on my desk, and because of a recent frustrating discussion the details of which I shall spare us all, (imagine my teeth clenched as I type) I am reminded of a noteworthy line from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It's in the scene where Bueller pretends to be the Sausage King of Chicago, at Chez Quis. After receiving a half-hearted apology from a snooty (snotty) host, who thanks Bueller for his "understanding." Bueller replies:

"It's understanding that makes it possible for person like me to tolerate a person such as yourself."

I'm just guessing here...but I'm pretty sure Jesus himself might feel this way. About some of his more obstinate children. From time to time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

AIDS: Powerful Exhibit

Today’s blog is a newspaper article. About something that's happening at my church. It is a good article. This will be a great exhibit. I’m truly excited for what God is up to in all of this…

Redmond Reporter Reporter
Dec 05 2008, 1:18 PM
Redmond's Overlake Christian Church, 9900 Willows Rd. NE, is hosting the free exhibit "World Vision Experience: AIDS" from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14; and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15.

This 3,000 square foot, interactive exhibit recreates an African village where children are gripped by poverty and life-threatening disease. Through powerful photography and audio presentations, visitors gain a new understanding of the AIDS epidemic. "This is the first time it's been at Overlake. Since the prototype was first on display in 2005, more than 150,000 people in 80-plus cities throughout North America have walked through the exhibit," noted Josh McQueen, Serve the World pastor at the non-denominational church.

We asked about the incentive to bring this program to Overlake. McQueen explained, "The heart of Overlake is to simply love God, love people, and serve the world. Overlake has partnered with World Vision on other humanitarian projects in the past and this seemed like the perfect fit, given the church's 'Advent Conspiracy' initiative for the 2008 holiday season — where the church is encouraging people to purchase one less gift this year and give what they would have spent to help others. In this case, HIV/AIDS relief."

Some might question the timing of the exhibit, shortly before Christmas. On one hand, Christmas is a time when Christians are called to think about the less fortunate. However, it's also a joyous season and some might see this exhibit as depressing or disturbing. McQueen responded, "Overlake and World Vision truly believe the exhibit will bring HOPE to visitors — hope that even individuals can make a difference in the lives of children and adults touched by HIV/AIDS around the world. This exhibit helps people learn more, in a very heartfelt way, about the human side of HIV/AIDS and also shows what can be done by individuals to help change a life — in essence, to give a gift of life during a season that's all about giving."
He added, "As we celebrate the birth of Jesus and his mission in the world, that was in a large part to care for and heal the sick, we think Christmas is the perfect time to remind ourselves about the needs of the afflicted in our world and of Christ's love for them. Just as an interesting side note, a recent survey by World Vision found that seven in 10 adults plan to spend less money on holiday presents this year, but about half say they are more likely to give a charitable gift than a traditional gift. Americans care ... and we, as a church, want to help people channel their goodwill toward a cause that has touched, in some way, the entire world."

More than 1,000 people have already reserved their free tour times for "World Vision Experience: AIDS" at Overlake Christian Church. McQueen expects that this number could more than double, or potentially triple, as we draw closer to the dates of the event and through word-of-mouth promotion from people taking the tour early. Although not required, tickets are recommended. The self-guided tour takes 20-30 minutes. To reserve your tickets for a specific time, visit www.worldvisionexperience.org.

Also, please note that parental discretion is advised. Some portions of the exhibit may be frightening or inappropriate for younger children. The World Vision Web site includes a page explaining the content and why kids under 13 might not be candidates to tour the exhibit. For additional information, contact Josh McQueen at (425) 702-0303 or joshm@occ.org.
Redmond Reporter Reporter Mary Stevens Decker can be reached at mdecker@redmond-reporter.com or (425) 867-0353, ext. 5052.

p.s. This is Mike again: I did want you to know that I edited a few things: Josh is one of our Serve the World pastors, called Reach ministries in the original article. OCC pursues three purposes: to Love God, Love People, and Serve the World, reported originally as two. And the number of 1000 signed up has increased significantly, and is creeping towards 2000 as I write this. Jodie walked through the same exhibit in a neighboring city two months ago, and so we’ve decided to take our kids through this one. I’ll walk Caleb through it (with a splitter so we can share the Ipod) so if there is audio that’s too intense, I’ll just FF.

p.p.s. I’m praying that hearts are broken this Christmas…broken for the things that break God’s heart. If you can make it, I bet this is one experience that you’ll never forget.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Last night, after the single-parent craziness of my week (my wife is in South Africa volunteering two weeks with AIDS babies at an orphanage and comprehensive elementary HIV prevention program called iThembaLetu), I felt shaky, like I was just emerging from the depths of the flu.

My kids have been phenomenal, but what is amazing to me is the amount of human resource management that is required, even as I’m trying to keep my own ducks in a row. Without a partner in the fight to stay sane, to laugh with, to double-team kid-tasks…I don’t know how it’s to be done…AND I’m amazed that single parents actually pull it off. I consider this a Herculean feat.

Jodie and I SKYPE-d this morning (Luddite Note: Skype is this Jestsons-esque kind of video phone you can download for free). She cried when she saw our frowsy-headed kiddos, and they made her laugh by doing goofy faces into the camera. She told us about how the camps have been going that her team has pulled off…the amazing work with elementary school kids teaching them their value in God’s eyes, that Jesus loves them, and to embrace healthy behavior because of that value. She told us how their team took the whole house of AIDS babies to the beach yesterday…splashing and playing with these toddlers and just loving them like crazy. It’s hot in South Africa right now, so even as she was relating these stories, she was sweltering.

After we hung up the phone, I spent a moment sitting at my desk in silence.

I love her so much, and I miss her desperately. But what I felt more than anything was peace. Overwhelming peace. Peace that she is exactly where Jesus wants her right now. Peace that she is caring for those who are close to Jesus’ heart right now. Peace that she is once more modeling for our kids God-values right now. And a peace that, right now, no matter where she is, no matter what frenzy of pace and exhaustion consume us, Jesus is with her, Jesus is with us, Jesus is HERE, and He is the Prince of Peace.

I sat quiet for a moment thankful for His peace.

Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27,28

My prayer for you is that you are able to sit quiet for a moment today.
My prayer for you is peace.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The “F” Word

Disclaimer: sorry to be so potty mouth in such a short span of time. It won’t happen again.

Yesterday, Scout, our 9 month old puppy, was being walked by Alex (age 8), Caleb (6) and I after school. As we walked the trails near our home, some dogs started barking. Scout is a bit skiddish (the folks at the shelter guessed that he might have been beaten as a young pup), so he lowered his ears and slinked as far from the barking as possible. The kids commented that the dogs seemed to be yelling at Scout. Here was their conversation:

“It's like the dogs are shouting bad words in dog language.”
“Maybe they’re saying the ‘F’ Word,” Caleb says, matter of fact.
“The ‘F’ Word is so bad adults go to jail for saying it,” Alex adds, solemn.
“Do you know what the ‘F’ Word is?” I ask my first grade son.
“Did Alex teach you?”
Instantly Alex looks up at me, with both giggle and fear behind her oh-so-busted blue eyes. Her face reads: passing knowledge along to my younger sibling really IS my job…I’m just fulfilling my duty.
“What is the ‘F’ Word?” I ask Caleb, gently.
He whispers like we’re in a museum…“Fub.”

We walk along in silence, with leaves crunching under our feet, but the laughter inside me was bubbling up like a torrent of joy. Innocence truly is a lovely, and fleeting, commodity. Today, I simply cherish it for the gift that it is. Because, yes, someday there will be a day when even the pastor's kids will have a grasp of all sorts of colorful language. But today I simply thank Jesus for the innocence of my angels. And I pray to God for wisdom to be a good dad.

And mostly I pray that I don't fub things up.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"F@#K Africa!"

At church last Sunday, we had a very agitated man berate Pastor Josh for the message that he gave to kick off our Advent Conspiracy series. To see the message, click occ.org. To see the video that explains Advent Conspiracy, hit occ.org. It’s that easy.

Anyway, the man didn’t make a ton of biblical sense, (he was trying to argue that Jesus didn’t care about Africa because America has problems of its own) and since he opened with, “F@#K Africa,” it did make it a bit hard to take him seriously. Hard to imagine Jesus opening up a conversation with that line. I believe Jesus loves Africa. It's one of his favorite continents (top 6, anyway).

I spoke with him, (I stepped in to protect Josh’s heart) and he ended up leaving feeling heard, and, I believe, loved; but knowing that he was not going to change our direction this month. I let him know that this is a safe church, and that you don’t have to agree with everything I teach in order to come to our church. I’m not interested in Stalin-Church where we go after Thought Control. In retrospect, however, I probably should have told him that just about every conversation I have is blog-fodder.

But it made me think about why I’ve been charging this Advent Conspiracy direction. I consider it a personal challenge from Jesus to get Matthew 25:31-46 in front of as many people as I possibly can, starting with my Overlake Christian Church friends, my Blog friends, and my Facebook Friends…you get the picture. I consider it a personal challenge to invite as many people as I possibly can to our World Vision Experience:AIDS tour here from December 12-15th. I consider it a personal challenge to encourage as many people as I can to buy two less gifts this Christmas, and for Christ’s sake, to give the money that would have been spent on those gifts to AIDS relief.

That’s where I’m landing.
You sure don’t have to land in the same place.
I’m not Stalin.

But if you disagree loudly enough, I’ll probably blog about it.

P.S. I should note that MOST of our church is thrilled about the direction of this Advent Conspiracy Series, and that we already have well over 1000 people signed up to the World Vision Experience:AIDS tour. We’d love to have you join us!

P.P.S. It goes without saying that the title of this blog was a quote, and a hook to get you reading it, and as a sentiment, couldn't be furthur from my heart.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I am so desperate to write something beautiful and moving, something pithy and uproarious, but today I feel like my brain is full of sawdust, and the words in my head sound like the parents on the Charlie Brown Christmas special.

So instead I would point you places where interesting things are already being said. Here are some books that give art and soul a swift kick in the shorts, and you might like them this holiday season:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Miles to Cross by Mike Howerton (shameless, I know!)
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
Why Guys Need God by Mike Erre

Take them all with a grain of salt, learn, apply, discard, soar.

Here’s a Lamott quote that for some reason got me today:

What did it mean to be saved, I asked, although I knew the word smacked of Elmer Gantry for both of us.
“You don’t need to think about this,” he said.
“Just tell me.”
“I guess it’s like discovering you’re on the shelf of a pawnshop, dusty and forgotten and maybe not worth very much. But Jesus comes in and tells the pawnbroker, ‘I’ll take her place on the shelf. Let her go outside again.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Homosexuality and Jesus

This weekend at Overlake, we're wrapping up our Hot Topics by tackling a very difficult topic that we see our culture wrestling with. Every person who is connected to this issue comes from a unique perspective. We have been highlighting testimonies during the series, this is just one more of those unique stories, from a cool young woman, twenty-something, following hard after Jesus:

"There are two main things I hope you get from my testimony, The first is that the devil can use anyone for any crazy thing if you stray from God. I'm sure as I am sharing this many of you are wondering what my connection to homosexuality is. You might think a previous boyfriend left me for a man, or maybe you think one of my siblings or one of my parents is gay. I know few people look at me and assume I ever identified as a lesbian. From the age of 15-21 I identified as bi-sexual. When I was 21 I claimed lesbian as my official sexual orientation. Yes, I even went so far to change my status on my myspace and facebook. Now, to help you pull this picture together let me give you a brief background on me. I played barbies, not sports. I wore make up not baseball hats. I walked in stilettos not sneakers. And no, I never had short hair. My path to lesbianism was not your stereotypical path, if there is such a thing. However, my motives for getting started, are ones we can all relate too. I was searching.

Searching for something and thought I could find it in someone. The problem was, I didn't know what I was searching for and for the most part, I didn't consciously know that was what I was doing. For so long I wasn't able to connect my emotions of loneliness to my actions of lust. It took years for my emotions to catch up with my actions. I made sure to live a very fast life in order to prevent that from happening. My first sexual experience happened when I was 15 in the form of date rape. That experience left me with a lot of confusion, guilt and denial. I was broken and tried to put myself back together by having relationships and physical encounters with men that were briefly entertaining but still left me feeling empty. After several years of poor choices and disappointment, I found myself in a new environment. My transition of teams from bi-sexual to lesbian was made easy in part because all of my close friends were gay. When I decided to come out, my friends threw me a party. Even my parents, who were non-Christians at the time, took the news with ease. When I came out to my mom her response was "We already know. We saw it on your myspace." I left the conversation more confused on how my mom who can't even check her voicemail was able to track me down on myspace and see my sexual orientation. What I received from identifying as a lesbian provided me with a few relationships to temporarily fill that empty void I had, but I also found something else that at first, fulfilled that feeling even more. I found an identity. I allowed a community to tell me who I was, what I liked and how I acted and reacted. This fulfillment I found in my insta-identity only lasted so long however. Eventually the drama of my relationships, friends and lovers caught up to me by my 23rd birthday. I remember waking up that morning with this disgusting feeling of "Where am I?" And not in the situation of partying too hard the night before and just not knowing, but just feeling completely lost. I had no idea how I ended up where I was but I knew I hated my life. It was that morning I knew I had to discontinue dating girls. I know the church ideal testimony would be for me to say that I made that choice because I called out to God and He showed me the biblical truth about my lifestyle. Well, my testimony doesn't quiet go like that. Honestly the push for me to leave that lifestyle is because girls are too much drama for me! I was done. From the manipulation, the nagging and especially the game playing. I realized that unless its the Seahawks playing I'm just not interested in games. Although I had made a good choice by discontinuing a destructive lifestyle, it took me a couple months to finally make the right choice. My life wasn't yet submitted to God. I believed in God at this point, but I didn't know Him or His word. The whole time I was identified as a lesbian I knew I needed to get to church. To be honest, I was terrified to go to church. At the time my image of Christians, espicially evangelical ones, was one of hate and hypocricy. Isn't it tragic that Christians today are known more for what they don't believe in then what they do? Well fortunately, as much as I desired to be church, God desired it even more and provided me with what I needed to get to church. From the right church, the right pastor and espicially the right people in my life. All of a sudden, all these great Christian women were being brought back into my life and were an amazing support system. There is one in particular who had been there all along, starting in first grade. My best friend Rachel was the first one to take me to church. I was terrified she wouldn't want to be my friend anymore or would try to change me or condemn me. Thankfully, she is a woman who truly reflects God's grace. Although I shocked her, she still remained my best friend. I never doubted where she stood on the issue, but at the same time I never doubted her love for me. It was through that demonstration of Christ's love that made turning my life around a lot easier.

Eventually my search for church transitioned to a search for God. I came looking to Him not because I felt convicted or condemned. I came to God because I hated my life and felt like I had made everything else I enjoyed into a god in my life and just figured what could I lose by trying to put God as center in my life? It's funny that as soon as I put God in His rightful place in my life, He put me in mine. When I was at a point where I felt I had nothing left to lose I was proved wrong and ended up losing a lot. Through my authentic relationship with Jesus I lost my guilt, the suffering I silently endured, the drama I told everyone about, the neediness, and an identity that was falsified and did me no good. What I found was truly unconditional love, grace and mercy from the only true God. Jesus said "Come as you are." And I did. And it was through my relationship with Him that I realized that it's because of Christ's great love for us that He wants us to change. I could change my lifestyle, but only Jesus can change my heart. I finally stopped looking at the world to justify my actions and attitudes and now only look to His word. The only source of truth. It was through Jesus opening up my heart and mind to His word that I was able to find my true identity. I am who I am only by the grace of God. I was done with all the other labels: femme, butch, tom boi, pretty boi, androgynous, transgender, power lesbian, gender queer. I know I just rattled off a list of identities that only a handful of followers of Jesus have any relation to or understanding of. So let me try another list: repentant, forgiven, redeemed, restored, born again. This is another list of words that you might have heard many times. But not enough of us take the steps to have any real understanding of them. At the beginning I told you there were two things I wanted you to get from my testimony. The first was that the devil can use anyone or anything to prompt you to stray from God. The second, and always most important is that God can use anyone for greatness if you submit to Him." -A.L.

God loves you, A.L.
Jesus loves you, reader.
See you this Sunday...it's gonna be a HOT Topic, handled with love...


Give all of your worries and your cares to God, for He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

Earlier this morning I was running on the trails with my dog Scout. The wind was blowing gently, and the rain had not yet started. The last of the autumn leaves were coaxed from their moorings and were cast about and listing lazily towards the earth. I was struck with the thought of the wind as an analogy of how God moves, works, how He carries and cleanses. I couldn't see the wind. But everywhere I looked this morning, I could see it's touch. I could FEEL the wind buffeting me as I ran, I could feel it's fingers chilling the tops of my ears.

One yellow maple leaf, in particular, caught my eye. It was virtually alone on it's tree. The wind was playing with it, and for a moment, I thought the leaf would hold on fiercely. But then, as if with a sigh of relief, it quit the tree, rose up, twirling, and wafted over the trees on the other side of the trail, gone in a blaze of golden joy.

I wonder if that's how I hold on to my worries. They're all I know. If I release my cares, can I honestly trust that God will take care of them, of me? But if I can, with the help of God's gentle prompting, let go...suddenly I realize that God doesn't lift my cares and worries away...He lifts ME! When I let go of the anchor of life's burdens, God lifts me, God carries me, God helps me to see that the adventure He calls me on is the adventure of joyful flight.

As I watched the leaf disappear, I felt my heart release just a bit of my burden.
And there was God.
And Carrying.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Coffee. Pray. Journal. Let the dog out. Read to my son. Get the kids to the bus. Take Scout on a run. Shower. Christmas shopping with Jodie. (Adults in my life, be prepared for my friend Jesse’s new CD called Homecoming. It’s that good.) Hide aforementioned presents in strategically kid-free zone.

Lunch. Read. Write a rough draft message. Shoot said message to trusted pastoral friends. Scramble home. Make dinner. (Like for the third time in 12 years of marriage.) Set table. Burn Garlic toast. Try to wave the fire alarm off. Open the doors. Plug in a fan to remove last of smoke.

Feed dog. Family arrives home from Tae Kwon Do. Eat together. Notice it is our first dinner at home together in over a week.

Do dishes. Light a fire in the fireplace. Wrestle with kids. Oversee homework. Oversee piano lessons. Carry laundry up. Straighten house. Snap some crazy pictures with kids on photo booth. Happy soldier my kids through teeth-brushing and into bed. Let the dog out. Realize that it has been a week since I last blogged. Remember that pain of chaos is somewhat universal. Decide to turn my chaos into one more blog entry. Try to remember what I did today. Forgot that I also cleaned up the utility closet. And answered email. And thanked Jesus for loving me.

The fire is dying down now, and the kids are in bed, and Scout is somewhat subdued. The few flames left hardly make any noise. My wife is not yet home from her PTA meeting. I just inhaled really big, and exhaled. It is quiet, quiet.

I suddenly became really aware of great joy in my heart.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

be my friend?

Facebook is an addiction.
It is a joy to connect with folks that you haven’t seen in a long time…
It is a trip to actually be in touch with people that you knew way back when…
It is a bit fun to think that all of your friends are somehow connected to you…
It is a challenge to post something funny, pithy, and relevant to all of your friends…
It is a charge to pray over those God has brought into your life…

And it is just nice to have a reminder that, despite how you might feel right now, you actually do have friends.

So, I’d love to be your Facebook friend.
Tag me with a friend request.
I’ll say yes.
I’m kind like that.

p.s. Also, my friend Jesse has more friends than I do, and it kills me. Help me bury him. Please.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life is Beautiful

In 1997 a film came out of Italy called Life is Beautiful. It starred, and was directed by, Roberto Benigni, and, you might recall, won a couple academy awards.

Set in the Mussolini days, the film begins as a cornball love story reminiscent of a Charlie Chapman bit. Benigni himself plays Guido loud, tenacious, and bumbling…like the cartoon Goofy brought to live-action. Some of the early romance scenes are so cheesy that I have friends who couldn’t stomach it, and walked out. It IS rather unfortunate, but serves to introduce the characters: Guido, his love and fight for Dora, their son Giosue. However, when the Nazis take the father and his four year old boy to a concentration camp, the film turns brilliant. Guido embarks on a single-minded mission to ensure that his wife and his son make it out of the camp alive. To keep his son’s spirit up, right from the very beginning, the dad tells him that it (the camp and the work and the uniforms) is all a very competitive game, and that first prize is a real army tank they will drive home. He weaves an elaborately constructed rule system together, and Giosue is hooked.

The boy faces the days with excitement, he faces the challenges with anticipation, and he views his dad as heroic, all because of the focus of winning the game, and riding in a tank.

As you might imagine, the tragedy becomes harder and harder to mask, and as the war comes to a close, the Nazi’s try to cover their tracks by destroying everything and everyone. The father plays his last card, he convinces his boy to hide, and helps Dora escape…but he is caught in the process. He is marched across a courtyard, where he catches his son’s eye. Knowing this is the last chance to provide hope for the boy he loves, he smiles real big at his son, winks, and then marches, Goofy-style, out of the courtyard and to his death.

Giosue never doubts it’s a game. He remains hidden until everyone else is gone. He slowly emerges, wondering where to go next, when an Allied tank comes rolling into the courtyard. The boy is ecstatic. He gets his ride. Together, he and his father were victorious.

I watched the film again last Sunday afternoon. To say that it calls to the very best of being a man, a husband, and a father…that’s not an understatement. I found myself yearning to be that kind of single-minded man. Getting messages to his wife despite the danger to himself. Going to extreme measures to protect his son’s mind, and heart, from the brutality surrounding him. Sacrificing himself at the last, for the life of his family.

It’s a good movie.
As a pastor, I hear stories all the time of people who choose themselves. People leave their spouses. People abandon their kids. They have affairs and choose divorce, and embrace a life that puts SELF as the highest good. Convenience as god. MY choice. MY way. ME. I even see those temptations in my own heart.

But there is something higher and holier we are called to. Something grand and glorious. Something that is majestic in sacrifice. Jesus calls each of us to Himself…to the selfless love that he gives freely…to the selfless love that cost Him everything. And He calls us to give in that same selfless, sacrificial way. This is true heroism. This is laying down your life for your friends. This is husbands loving wives like Christ loved the Church.

And why does Jesus heroically, sacrificially, lovingly give Himself away?

Life is Beautiful.

Advent Conspiracy

I am so proud to be a part of my church.

This December we are truly seeking to get beyond the consumerism that has hijacked Christmas, to get back to what matters (loving Jesus, loving people), and to give back to those who find themselves in need. I LOVE that the people of Overlake are willing to step up to the plate and to make some changes for the sake of significance. I'd be honored if you'd watch this video, and then decide to join us...

Monday, November 10, 2008

AIDS Awareness

Thank you, Bono.

We are now in the place in our culture, specifically the part of our culture that identifies itself with Jesus, where we can talk openly and lovingly about AIDS. Where we can, with compassion, come alongside those whom HIV is claiming. Where we can, with great love, seek to stem the assault of the greatest pandemic the globe has ever seen. By and large, the church is a latecomer to the discussion. And scoff as you might, we can be thankful to Bono for bringing it to the forefront.

Here’s how our church, which is only one in 400,000 churches in America, is trying to play a role:

Tonight, we are hosting an AIDS Awareness Forum with World Vision President Rich Stearns. We are inviting our church and community in, seeking to increase our understanding, as well as dialogue practical ways to respond.

Landing near World AIDS day, we are partnering with World Vision to host their award-winning interactive exhibit called Experience AIDS at Overlake December 12-15th. Our goal is to see 4000 folks be impacted by that tactile learning experience. The Mayor of Redmond has declared these dates AIDS Week in Redmond, Washington, so get on it, people.

We are seeking to strengthen existing partners on the field, and to build new ones as well. Right now we have a team in Kenya, serving and strengthening the orphanages and schools of Christian Ministries in Africa, specifically built for AIDS orphans. A team is preparing to head out in December (led by my wife) to the ministry of Itemba Letu in South Africa, which is many things…an AIDS orphanage, a breast-milk bank to feed their infants non-contaminated breast milk, and an extensive education club that seeks to come around grade-school students and teach them of their intrinsic worth as children of God. Living Hope is another ministry in South Africa that Pastor Josh led a team to this summer. We are developing ministry partners in Thailand and India to work with this issue in places where the problem is rapidly becoming toxic.

Through hosting the AIDS Experience, and through our specific challenge with our upcoming Christmas Eve Offering, we want to give over $100K to AIDS relief. We call this initiative: Advent Conspiracy. Just one church, one drop in the bucket, one bucket in the ocean, but it’s an ocean filled with love.

Join us.
We can’t do everything. None of us can.
But each of us can do something. Conspire with us.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Abortion and Jesus

This Sunday’s message at OCC is a biggie.

My prayer has been that over this message a complete covering of GRACE would flow. That gentle, Biblical TRUTH would cover all.
And that at the end of the day, LOVE would win out.

I’m VERY excited about this weekend.

Three different stories will be shared, each one completely unique, as are all stories regarding this issue. In each story, the love of Jesus absolutely overwhelms.

This issue isn’t about politics (that was last weekend). This issue is about caring for the most fragile and frightened in our society. This issue is about being a voice for the voiceless. This weekend is about bringing JESUS into the very center of the discussion.

Please join us.
Please bringvite a friend.
Please pray that Jesus moves powerfully to hold, to guide, to heal, to convict, and to cherish.

If you don't live near, feel free to check out occ.org to track with our current Hot Topics Message Series. Blessings.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Every so often, a comedian shines wit, timing, and truth with such dazzling clarity that one's only response is to put the clip on one's blog. Stephen Colbert has given us such a gift. Enjoy. (Warning: there is a reference to "intersexuals" that you just need to be warned about. Not a clip I'd watch with my son Caleb in the room. Hopefully the last line redeems it all.)

Monday, November 3, 2008




We covered a bit more this last weekend at church, and if you missed it, I'd love to invite you to check it out at occ.org...message title: Politics and Jesus. I was uncharacteristically exhausted by the end of the day. But at the end of the day, I truly believe that believers in America are called to pray like it's 1999, and vote like it's 1776 (or whenever they started voting in America...I could find out when we started voting in America on google pretty easily, but that's how exhausted I am).

Speaking of 1776, here's a quote from good-ol' Ben Franklin:
“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.” He could have added, "Pray. Vote." But other than that, it's a pretty solid quote.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Every year, I know that a ton of followers of Jesus struggle through the Halloween holiday, not knowing how to approach it in a Christ-honoring way, and not wanting to just pull away from the fun entirely. Parents of grade-school kids struggle with this the most, for obvious reasons. Because of the pagan/pre-Christian roots of Halloween, many Christians do choose to boycott the day entirely.

A couple of problems I have with boycott:

1. The 31st of October happens. We have to deal with it. Even staying in bed all day you’re doing something. So the question is, how to spend the day best?
2. Yeah, pagan roots. I get it. But how is it different from the pagan roots of bringing a pine tree into your home around the winter solstice? How is it different from celebrating Easter on the Sunday when they tell us to, which also has roots in the pre-Christian/pagan past? Native Americans were at the first Thanksgiving, and we know they had a pantheon of spirits they prayed to. Shall we boycott Thanksgiving as well, and everything that once was tinged with some belief system not our own?
3. We are called to be a LIGHT in a dark world…and if this night of Halloween is as dark as some theatrically skilled Christians say it is, then we better figure out a way to bring the light.

Here is the way my mind currently leans…towards redemption. Just as a pine tree can be redeemed from the pagan past, and brought into the present as a way that I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ…that is a picture of redemption. Just as we honestly celebrate the resurrection of Christ every year at Easter, we redeem what once was popularly used for pagan practice, now bringing all the honor and the glory to Jesus. I say we do the same thing for Halloween. Let’s use it to honor Jesus.

Now, I’m not totally sure how to do this. Our church hosts a HUGE carnival in our building…inflatables, games, candy by the dumptruck-fulls…and thousands of kids show up in costume, because kids love to show up anywhere in costumes. We do ask that the costumes be non-frightening, and non-violent, which is basically what the public schools ask, and it’s for the sake of the little, little kids that come to party.

Maybe Christians get more pro-active on hosting themed Halloween Parties. Maybe instead of letting people show up in any old costume, we take the lead and host parties with a theme: Come as your favorite Athlete, come as your favorite Historical Figure, come as your favorite inanimate object. Maybe that’s lame, or maybe it’s brilliant. I say that about a lot of my ideas.

All I know is this: Jesus specializes in taking things that once were used for shameful things, and redeeming them for His glory. Chances are, He’s done it in your life. Personally speaking, I know He’s redeemed THIS ween.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I think I'm hanging out around the top of my chaos threshold.

I don't need to go into examples, I'm sure your life is chaotic as well.
I feel like my life is triple booked. No bad things, but too many things. I just counted, and by next Tuesday, I will have been out 15 of the last 16 nights. Last week, Jodie and I got a new dog, a new car, and a new bank. We're consistently stacking things up in the same night (host an afternoon soccer party, then hit piano lessons, then rush to the church for this nights particular activity). I'm not complaining. I'm sitting here, however, thankful that God is near, closer than my breath, caring for me, even in the chaos.

I'm reminded that He has always played this role. We read:
The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1:2 NLT

Today, this verse speaks to me. Do I feel that I'm in the dark, and that I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel? God is here. Do I feel that I'm drowning in waters cold and deep? The Spirit of the Lord is here. God reached out in Jesus, Jesus is God reaching down taking my hand, assuring me that He is here, loving, carrying, bringing wisdom and sanity, ushering in peace.

He is still hovering over the chaos. Out of chaos, He still creates beauty.
More than anything, today, I'm thankful simply for His presence. I breathe deeply.

Now off to the next thing...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eastside Beauty

The last two mornings I've gone for short runs training a new puppy that my family has adopted from a local shelter (I'm sure he'll be the source of future blogs--both my kids want to blog about him first). But as I was running yesterday, with the morning crisp and clear, I thought of a bit I wrote for the local newspapers the fall I first moved to Washington. Enjoy.

"How in the world has the glory of the greater Seattle region in autumn gone unnoticed by the American population in general? What veil of secrecy has been erected to keep the hordes of traveling wilbury’s from tooling around the wooded hills and leafy lanes of King County? Who conspired to keep all of this beauty a thing hushed and hidden?

I’m the new kid on the block, living for the first time through a fall in the great Northwest, God’s backyard, and am amazed daily. I’m not a runner, but I’ve been running lately, two or three mornings a week, just so I can get out in it. There are trails around my neighborhood, and they connect with the Tolt Pipeline, and when I hit that thing right as the light lifts, it’s as if fireworks set off inside of my skull, the colors of fall exploding before my eyes. The rush is endorphin, beauty breathed deep, a connection between the beauty that dwells somewhere within me and the beauty that dwells all around me, the source of which is the same. Whether the fog clings to the trees like my grandma’s fuzzy white shawl, or the sky is high and the mountains are singing; either way the pulse is firing. Anyway, I can’t figure out what to do with it. I find myself amped like a triple espresso, in love with everything I see, joyfully ready to tackle the giants in the land, and it’s a hard sell to come back home and shower up for the rest of my mature, responsible, adult, crossing the “i’s” and dotting the “t’s” day. Oh, there is a different kind of passion that comes with a clear work road to travel, a challenge and a purpose to pursue that makes things better in the world as well as providing some basic necessities for my family, and I’m lucky in that I choose to do what I do from a deep sense of conviction, but it’s still not the same as being in love with life.

It’s not the same as seeing the deep mystery peaking out from behind each leaf.

Which is why even at my office I find myself looking out the window at the row of poplars that are shimmering their way towards a blond greenish gold. Which is why I almost run my car off the road as I’m looking at the snow capped Cascades, or the majesty of Rainier thrust forth, emergent and free. There’s too much going on to merely focus on the road. Obviously, safe driving has its merits. I’m just saying, the extravagance of beauty demands attention.

As you drive home today, notice things. Listen to a song that breaks your heart as you marvel at a nature so abundantly wasteful that it would discard its multi-colored foliage, most of which is currently covering my front yard. Translate the beauty around you into beauty in action…love somebody tangibly however you’re inspired to by the assault of glory that swirls about. But for crying out, don’t tell anyone about it, especially not anyone living outside of Washington. The last thing we need is more people moving into the area, telling us how great this place is…"

Friday, October 17, 2008

Arranged Unions

My daughter Alex and I were at a wedding last week. I performed a portion of the ceremony, which Alex watched from the back. When my bit was done, I turned it over to the Father of the Bride, who was also a pastor, and he officiated the vows while I took my seat.

Suddenly I discovered Alex slipped into the seat next to me, because she carefully took my hand, and kissed it. “I love you, Booger,” I whispered. “I love you too, Daddy,” she whispered back. Then I turned back up to watch the ceremony, where the Father of the Bride choked up a bit recounting his personal joy over his daughter, and her choice of a husband.

For the briefest instant, I saw myself in that role (a blubbering mess) and I saw my baby girl standing with joyful pride next to her man. In that moment, I prayed silently the same prayer that I’ve prayed hundreds of times: That God would guide my daughter and protect her, that He would ground her in wisdom, courage, and graceful strength; that He would carry her to that day when she leaves my care and enters the adventure of covenant. And I pray for that special, God-favored man, that he is growing even now in wisdom tempered by grace, strength tempered by gentleness, great joy tempered by great responsibility. Most of all, I pray that He knows God and pursues Him with all his heart.

I realized as I was praying that my daughter probably didn’t know as an eight year old that her mommy and her daddy were praying for the man that she would someday wed. So I decided to tell her. “Baby,” I lean down and quietly whisper, “I want you to know that your mommy and I are already praying for the man that you’re going to marry.”

She leaned her head forward and eyed me from over her glasses. Her expression was curiously skeptical, serious, and I could tell in this matter, she didn’t completely trust my judgment.

Deadpan, she asked, “Who is it?”
Even at eight, it seems, arranged marriages don’t land on receptive soil.

My son Caleb informed us last night that he has found the girl he’s going to marry. “She’s everything I ever wanted.” My six year old tells us. “She’s blond and she knows God.” Cool, bud. So that’s done.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Guy's Night

My wife Jodie and my daughter Alex were away tonight.
Caleb and I had a Guy’s Night.

He has school tomorrow, so we still needed to pull off the basics of normalcy, with regular bed-time, homework, bathing, brushing teeth and all that goes with the everyday responsible side of life. But since it was Guy’s Night, I opened it up to some elements of fun. I told Caleb that he was in charge, and we could do whatever he wanted until bedtime.

So, when he was finished with Piano practice, he grabbed my hand and said, “Come on!” He led me up to the computer, where he wanted to play games with me for a half-hour. Then he chose Caramel and Apples for dessert, and he helped me cut the apples. Then he wanted to watch a twenty minute Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV show with microwave popcorn. Then he wanted to read in bed together…my bed, of course…and have a sleepover.

So right now I’m in bed, typing on my laptop, and listening to his steady breathing beside me. I’m struck by the joyful way Caleb crashes into life.

Earlier today, when we were on our way to soccer practice, he told me that he had a pet moth, and that he kept his pet moth on his Bible, so the moth would have good dreams. He said, “Dad! You can get a pet moth too! All you need is a moth! And a Bible!”

The only punctuation my son is familiar with is an exclamation point. It’s all that important.

The Bible says this about kids:
Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3,4 NIV

I only have one son, and one daughter, both of whom I love very much.
So I don’t know if my quiver is full or not.

But I know my heart is.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

When Church Works

...it looks something like this:

-revealing a grace so vast none can fully exclude themselves from it
-a discipleship so rigorous none can fully include themselves in it
-a love so close, so overwhelming, so mysterious none can begin to explain it, save this:
-that Jesus is present here, enticing a spiritually starving, junk-food generation to His banqueting table.
-that Jesus is present, wooing an adulterous and lust-sick people to His satisfying intimacy and our deep fulfillment.
-that Jesus is glorified here, leading a stumbling through the dark, lost, alone, and frightened humanity into the warmth of his illuminated embrace.

When it works, it is light for the road.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Porn and Church

This weekend, we’re launching into a Hot Topics Series…in fact, you probably got a postcard invite in the mail. We’re kicking the whole thing off with a Porn Weekend! That is probably the exact opposite of what it sounds like.

HERE is the schedule of EVENTS: Friday night, October 10: PORN AND PASTRIES. For women only…how the porn industry dehumanizes and literally creates a cycle of dependence on substance, shattered lives and money…testimonies from some whom Jesus has saved…the rising amount of women who are getting hooked on porn, and the hope of Christ to bring freedom.

Saturday morn, October 11: PORN AND PANCAKES. For men only…tangible help for creating structures of freedom, friendship and accountability…how the church and Christ can help on the journey to wholeness…and the joy of living clean.

Saturday afternoon: PORN AND PARENTS. For moms and dads who are looking to create a porn-protected home, where the issues of lust and pornography are dealt with in a Christ-honoring and biblically based way, focusing on protection and freedom, and not shame.

You can sign up on the events page at OCC.org. These three events are held at Eastlake Community Church, which is pastored by my very good friend Ryan Meeks. The events themselves are run by the xxxchurch guys…you can find them online…

Sunday, all three OCC Services will address the topic of Porn…and Jesus.
We truly are praying that the love of Christ will come right into the heart of this issue, bringing freedom and wholeness and life. It will be a FREEDOM-Fest as we experience the cleansing grace of Jesus together.

Since we know that our topics in the HOT TOPICS Series are, you know, hot, we want to provide the following two special considerations:
1. During our 11am service every Sunday during the Series, Pastor Gary will be hosting a Q&A in the gym, and even drilling down a bit deeper on the issue that we discuss in the message.
2. Not all of our topics will be equally hot, but they all will be hotter than normal. So, for safety’s sake, I want to rate them all M for mature content. That means if you have children, this would be a great series to have them check out our World Class children’s ministry! (I don’t want your toddler’s first word to be “porn-a-graffy.”)

So, you’ve been warned.
Is it HOT in here?

And exactly where Jesus would want to be…
Don’t forget to BRINGVITE a friend.

Love you. Loving Jesus.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Overlake's New Hot Topics Series begins Sunday, October 12th when we will be talking about Porn...and Jesus. Be sure to check it out.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Do NOT go to my wife's blog today.

Do NOT go to sunbreaksintherainycity.blogspot.com.

If you do, because it truly is a great blog, do NOT watch the Yatta video that she posted from the Jimmy Kimmel Live show.

And if you do watch the Yatta video, and the song, with it's accompanying visuals get stuck in your head all day, do NOT say I didn't warn you.

You're probably wondering, is this blog for real?
Not half as real as the Yatta video you're about to watch.

Just Courage

I was reading Gary Haugen this morning, from his book Just Courage, and he was describing the general listlessness that he sees in much of what passes for Christian practice. He’s not condemning or saying that it’s bad, he instead argues that most of it feels like the movie Groundhog Day, where Christians are stuck living out the same inconsequential day and boredom is really what saps life. The big unspoken question is, NOW WHAT?

Haugen writes, “This is, I believe, a voice of divine restlessness. This is a voice of sacred discontent. This is the voice of a holy yearning for more. This is the moment in which we can see that all the work that God has been doing in our lives and in the life of the church is not an end in itself; rather, the work he has been doing in us is a powerful means to a grander purpose beyond ourselves.”

I am simultaneously stirred by these thoughts, and proud of my church. Not proud in an arrogant way; proud like a parent is pleased over a child who displays compassion. One immediate example: Our Women of Purpose group has organized a Charity Golf Tournament that takes place tomorrow. My friend Marisa has been one of the chief movers behind this thing. All of the proceeds of this event go directly toward the issue of human trafficking, specifically in the South East Asia region where the sex industry is the biggest culprit, enslaving hundreds of thousands of young girls.

Here’s why I’m so proud.
Marisa went to Thailand last year, saw the need, interacted with women who were in the industry, who were being saved from the industry, women who were in the half-way house learning a trade and being taught the life-skills to be able to take care of themselves and not re-enter a horrid cycle. As Marisa prayed and served in Thailand, God broke her heart. Now she’s come home, and stirring up a hornet’s nest of activity to make a difference. It took her hundreds of hours of blood, sweat and tears to pull this Tournament off, thousands of prayers, and at the end of it all, God receives His glory, and girls will be changed for eternity. And I would argue that as Marisa has allowed her life to be impacted by this issue close to God’s heart, that Marisa herself has lived more fully, more abundantly, because she has followed God on this adventure.

Live courageously.
That’s the loving call on all of us.
It is the gentle call of a graceful Father to really LIVE.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I’ve been traveling a ton lately, and when I travel, I miss my kids like crazy. I get homesick. I truly can’t imagine how my buddies do it, living out of a suitcase and spending their weeks in three different time zones. For me, there is something that is simply missing when my family isn’t connecting in life and love.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had a great, productive time on this trip. I have. My wife Jodie and I were in Colorado Springs on a leadership retreat, being challenged to implement an intentional leadership development process in our church context. It was convincing. I’m excited to see how this can impact our staff and leaders at Overlake.

Jodie and I connected. It’s always good to remember why you married one another, and this was a couple days where we looked at each other and said, “I really LIKE you.” We watched a movie in our hotel room and ordered room service, and laughed a lot.

I ran both mornings in the brisk Rocky Mountain high, and I remembered again how beautiful and how majestic God’s great world is. Yesterday I came across a doe with white tips on her ears. I stopped and she stared at me for a full minute, with her gentle eyes, chewing flowers, and then walked on. Later two red hawks landed above me and eyed me for a meal. Today I ran past five elk, and I wondered if I was in a Disney movie.

Now I’m on the plane home.
The sickle moon is orange, and dipping low in the west.
The last of the twilight fades.

And I can’t wait to be home. I can’t wait to tuck my toothless boy in bed and hear how his time was this week, what adventures he had today that need telling, and feel his strong, wiry boy arms around my neck. I can’t wait to snuggle next to my warrior princess and pray for her, and tell her again how much I love her, show her with my presence that I’m here for her.

There is an excitement about heading out on a trip, winging away for a new adventure.
But there is nothing like coming home.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Playground Theology

My buddy Jesse was at the park with his boys last week, pushing them on the swings. On the swings next to his boys, two 8 year olds were swinging. Here was their conversation:

Kid A: I’m nine.
Kid B: No you’re not, you’re eight.
Kid A: I know.

Kid B: God hates liars. Liars don’t go to heaven.
Kid A: I know, liars go to hell.
Kid B: We don’t say hell. We just say ‘don’t go to heaven.’

Kid A: (after a pause) I want to go to heaven.
Kid B: yeah, good luck with that one.

Pretty funny dialogue between Kid B, our fundamentalist in training, and Kid A, who needs a caring adult to build into his confidence level.

But it does bring up an interesting reality…on our own strength, it’s good luck getting into heaven. Due to the deceptiveness of our sinful nature, because of the habitation of dragons that our hearts are, we don’t stand a candle’s chance in a windstorm. There’s a Kid A in all of us, cocksure, rule making, judgmentalist, and morally superior creating the kind of proud, hard people that are incapable of seeing our arrogant position before God. There’s a Kid B in all of us, weak minded and weak willed, unsure of ourselves and doing and saying things just to fit in with the hard world around us, which means that moral compromise is a constant temptation. That’s why the good news of Jesus is such good news. He is the one who justifies, making it just as if I never sinned. He is the one who cleanses and forgives, who heals and makes whole. He softens our hardness and strengthens our weakness. He is the one who loves me, even in my unlovable places. He loves you in your unlovable places too. He loves both Kid A and Kid B, despite themselves.

The good news is that you don’t have to trust to good luck for heaven.
The good news is that you can trust Jesus.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Pray for Miley

Today on my run, I confess that I listened to Miley Cyrus on my wife’s ipod. Already my friend Jesse would be mocking me, that is, if he ever read my blog. Through my daughter, Miley, or Hannah Montana, has invaded our home, via Disney TV, cd’s played in our car, and merchandise like cups, nightlights, and toothbrushes. Miley is a big deal around here. So I thought I’d write Miley a quick note. You are welcome to read it, too.

Dear Miley,
I pray for you. I invite others to pray for you as well. I bet that might come across sounding hard, or meanspirited, but that’s not my heart. It is offered with compassion and grace. Here’s what I mean:

Miley, you have achieved the kind of stardom and wealth that very, very few people ever achieve. I’m talking Solomon-like wealth. Flipping through an issue of Time, I read that last year, your merchandise net alone brought in 1.3 billion dollars. Bring in the way Disney has packaged your TV personality into a product. Add in the CD sales and your 3-D concert movie. Remember that you can sell out a stadium concert faster than anyone ever has. There’s a lot of gravy flowing, and Billy Ray’s little girl is riding it at breakneck speed. Since wealth is power, I pray that you’ll steward yours well.

As far as I know, Miley, you are like 16 years old. I can remember how chaotic and circus-like my life was at 16. There was friend drama, the weeks that circled around our Friday night football games, the invites to parties, the time I crashed my car, and of course the pinnacles and heartbreaks swirling around the quest for a girlfriend. And if life was crazy for me at 16, I can’t imagine how crazy it would be for a person who is an uber-gazillionaire. In America, celebrity is royalty, and Miley, you are the current reigning princess. That has to mess with your head. So I pray that it doesn’t.

Not only that, but I remember making some pretty dumb moves as a 16 year old. And the thought of having every bonehead move photographed and splashed on the front page of a gossip rag is just shameful. I mean that literally…it produces shame. To know that everything you do, every boy you go out with, every fight you have with your dad will be news…I imagine that produces an overwhelming amount of pressure. So I pray for you.

I ran to the punk-pop-beat of your songs today, and I was admiring them. The come across like 80’s tunes (I cut my chops on the 80’s) filled with energy, and a bubble-gum-smack voice that cracks at just the right time, like Cosette from my Les Mis Broadway Soundtrack (I am hoping this is a compliment to you both). But here is why I truly like them…the Lyrics. Wholesome, filled with themes of love, of falling in love, and of empowerment. You sing a song to your deceased grandfather called I Miss You, and it’s touching. You have a song with a chorus that says, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not strong enough.” And when I see my daughter belting those words out with all that she’s got, I get this crazy lump in my throat. There are so many negative and hurtful messages in the songs of our culture, and I celebrate the ones that are joyful or quality. And so I pray for yours.

In fact, the biggest reason that I pray for you, Miley is my daughter, Alex. My daughter is 8 years old. She wears glasses and plays soccer. She has the most beautiful, innocent, compassionate soul that I’ve ever seen. She befriends everyone, especially the kids that don’t have a ton of other friends. Once her teacher brought in a new student, mid-year, who didn’t speak much English. Alex moved her seat to sit next to her, and stayed with her all day showing her around school, and introduced her to all her friends. The only reason I know this is because her teacher emailed the story to us, and both my wife and I teared up when we read it. I’m tearing up right now as I try to figure out how to communicate the absolute golden nature of this beautiful child of God who has Jesus in her heart and Hannah Montana on her wall. For one reason or another, Alex has made room for you in her heart. Miley, what you say matters to Alex. How you live matters. The lyrics in your songs matter, and the choices that you make…I just want you to know, they matter.

They don’t matter to the paparazzi who want to exploit you for a buck. They don’t matter to your PR folks who can figure out how to spin your life in an interesting way and sell the story to VH1. They don’t matter to handlers and managers, because the wild exploits of celebrities are what keep them in business. But they matter to little girls who have never had a hero before, and who have decided that you’re it. Life is going to try to knock those stars out of her eyes soon enough, and so I’m hoping…I’m begging…I am praying for you. I’m praying that you would please handle her heart with care.

And as I pray for you, I’d love to remind you that at the end of the day, this voice, this honor, this wealth, this ride, and this life that you’ve been given…you’ve been given it all by God. He loves you just because you’re you, I know you know that. And the greatest thing you can do, is to offer it all back to Him as a gift.

I’m praying for you.


Just a Dad

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


When I was 19 I lived in Heidelberg, Germany as a part of a study abroad program with Pepperdine University. My good friend, Toph, was there all year, and I arrived for the second semester. I wrote a book about it called Miles to Cross, which has sold dozens. You’d like it. I’ll make you a good deal. I’ve got a few in my garage.

That’s not what’s random.

In the fall of 1989, before I joined them, the Pepperdine Students from Heidelberg were on a field trip to Berlin. The city was in an uproar, with thousands of protestors on the streets, gathered at the Brandenburg Gate, and standing on the wall. THE WALL. The Berlin Wall, splitting the city and freedom in two, and standing on top of the wall, right smack in the middle of an historic moment, were my friends from Pepperdine.

That was the night the wall fell. People from the east were helped up and over, and the crisp wind from the west stung the tears running freely down hopeful faces. I visited the wall a couple months later, and chipped off some pieces to save before it existed only in memory.

None of this is what is random.

Today, I’m walking through the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. Billy is such a total and complete stud, a true hero of faith, and a pillar of integrity. Throughout the museum, there are film clips of moments of history that Billy Graham contributed to. There were clips of the times he visited behind the Iron Curtain, where people gathered in mass to hear him proclaim good news in a cold war. And he was able to enter soon after the wall fell and crowds upwards of 150,000 came out to try to hear him. Again, not qualifying as random.

Here is what is random:

One of the film clips shows two students helping people up onto the wall. One of the students is wearing round glasses and a red coat. Both students look familiar, so I do a double-take. My eyes pop out of my head, Roger Rabbit-ish. It’s my buddy Toph and our friend Barry, helping people up and out. A triumph of freedom, a pivotal moment in history, and two college students blissfully participating in the revolution.

Since I don’t really believe in random, I’m struck by thoughts: 1) the world is really small, and 2) God is really good. I imagine him smiling at the way he jumped me with joy and friendship in the middle of a Library in Charlotte.

And 3) you really never know when the camera is rolling.

Glosoli II

I found this poem, and it fits perfectly with the Glosoli entry from last week:

Come to the edge,
He said.
They said:
We are afraid.
Come to the edge,
He said.
They came.
He pushed them.
And they flew…

-Guillaume Apollinaire

Chalk Poet

I finished another long run on Friday. As I was walking to my car at Riverfront Park, I noticed a message. It was written in chalk on the pavement, in nice, curly script, as if it were written by a careful and intelligent young girl. Here is what it said:

“As I sit here
I have noticed
That the drop of a hat
Or the turning of a wheel
Can change everything.
I have decided that means
That I should make
My life count
And I think
You should too.”

It moved me, as I imagined a young girl, marred by tragedy in her life, nevertheless chooses to live.

I did a funeral for a man named Bill. He was a great man, a good husband, a gentle father, and a committed follower of Jesus. He used to say, by way of commentary on the difficult things in this world, "Life is but a vapor." It is.

Life can change. It can end, or it can reveal sudden glory, and many times it ends up doing both in an instant. At the drop of a hat, or the turning of a wheel. And this reminder, leaping suddenly upon me from the wet pavement, to make life count.

Jesus calls us to life. To make life count. Full life. Rich life. Abundant life. And then, eternal life. It’s being offered right now. He offers himself. And having Jesus crash into your life, crash into even the most broken and wounded places of your life, and covering it with this indescribable love…that is an event that happens in an instant, and changes everything. In an instant in my life, on a rainy beach in Malibu, everything changed. I have decided that means that I should make my life count. And I think you should too.

My thanks to the Chalk Poet of Riverfront Park. My prayers as well.

Let’s make it count.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Son's Tooth

Caleb lost a tooth.

He's thrilled. He really wants to meet the tooth fairy. He lost the tooth at Tae Kwon Do. His instructor pulled it out. It bled a little bit and Caleb grinned ear to ear. When I saw him I hugged him huge and he told me the story, with a new little whistle in his cadence.

Stop growing, I told him. And I meant it. Not really. But I want to savor these days while my kiddo is still a boy. This is one of those milestone days.

He's also shaving, I might add. He uses shaving cream, and a disposable razor that has the plastic cap glued on it. After he finishes he rubs his chin and whispers, smooth...smooth. Stop growing, dude!

Oh, and I think he has a girlfriend. I know he has a girl that likes him, and spends time with him at school, and who follows him around quite a bit. I was at the Ice Cream Social. I saw it. I don't know exactly how he feels about her, but I know he likes being friends with her. To be fair, he's got a ton of friends who are boys. But then again, there are also 5th grade girls who think he is just so cute, and wave at him, and hug him goodbye. STOP GROWING! Seriously.

For now, the tooth fairy is excitement enough.


The Bible says that a believer without a church home is like an organ without a body, a child without a family…
Or, I might add, a marathon without a running partner…

Last year, I rand the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego…this year, Portland. I ran the last one with my buddy Toph, this one with my buddy Stooky. I call him the The Stook. It sounds more like a mafia name, which is a plus. Don't mess with The Stook.

I haven't been training as well for this one. I ran a 22 miler last Friday, and my knees almost went into full revolt. Ice and Ibuprophen, both are gifts from Jesus, both helped tremendously on Friday night, both begin with the letter i, as in the sentence, "I need some help with the pain in my knees." Needless to say, I'm sweating this one. I was well trained for the last one, I knew my pace, I knew what splits I needed to maintain to hit my goal, I was ready. But even in last year's race, my knees started to hurt. My IT bands tightened up. And honestly, around mile 16, I was just plain tired. If I was running alone, I would have just bagged it, it was that bad. But you see, I was running with my buddy Toph.

And because we were running together, I WAS encouraged by him. He’d say things like, “Let’s just run the next four miles together. We’ll just do a little four mile jog. No worries. Anyone can run four miles.” We’d ask each other “how you doing?” but honestly, the biggest support I think we both gave and received was just the support of being in the race together.

And this faith is a race, and we’re running in such a way as to get the prize. But I guess what I'm trying to say is just this... that faith is one race is one you can’t run alone.

Herding Cats

Last year, I was the soccer coach for a team of five year old boys. The Starhawks. You probably read about us in the paper. My son Caleb was on the team as well, which makes for its own joys and sorrows. Mostly we had a blast, and I spent my time reminding the boys to stay focused on the point of our being together, which was, after all, the sport of soccer.

I had to keep reminding them, because focus can be an elusive sprite. Especially for five year old boys. Chaos was an understatement, a tamed concept of what I was dealing with. I would tell people I’m coaching five year olds, and they would usually quip something like, “Must be fun to watch them clump in a pack and follow the ball around the field.” “No,” I’d say, annunciating every word seriously, like Christopher Walken, “If my team followed the ball around the field, I’d lose my mind with joy! I’d celebrate if they realized that in the sport of soccer, the soccer ball matters.”

Instead, when the game would start so would WWF smackdown, boys wrestling in the dirt like dogs. We’d just get them on their feet when suddenly an air-guitar performance would consume our defense. The barrage of sound effects always impressed me greatly. Just about every kid on my team liked to make dirt angels during play. My favorite was one boy on the team who would literally hurtle HIMSELF into the goal, at random times and completely independent of the play of ball, and yell “SCORE!” Last year, we wore uniforms and arrived with a soccer ball, but the games we played had very little to do with the sport. Herding cats is not as glamorous as it sounds.

So, as a coach, I loved and encouraged, I prompted and I practiced, and if I felt frustrated at their lack of interest in the actual sport of soccer, I just chalked it up to their five year old maturity level.

I’ve been seeing the growth in my team as a metaphor to our growth spiritually. The transformation of a five year old air guitarist in a soccer jersey into a World Cup finalist is a journey very similar to the maturing of our lives in Christ. At the end of the day, faith, like soccer, is a team sport. Which means that learning must happen together.

As far as I can tell, the Church for 2000 years has met in the Temple Courts and house to house. So my challenge is to get in a group! In other words, commit yourself to a team that gathers for the purpose of spiritual growth! I promise you, there are churches all over the Northwest with excellent programs aimed at spiritual growth in small group settings. Some churches call them Community Groups, in other churches they are called Small Groups, or Growth Groups…at Overlake we call them Life Groups. The important thing is not what they’re called, it’s that you’re connected. And the way spiritual growth happens in groups…well…it’s a bit like herding cats. Which is why the following values must continue to be affirmed:

FOCUS. Since most of us have attention spans near that of a five year old soccer team, a valuable Life Group (and a good group leader) will continually bring the focus of the group back to the basic purposes of life. Loving God. Loving one another. And understanding more of God’s Word so that we’re able to accomplish these purposes. As always, Jesus is our foundation, He’s our teacher and our model, and because of His death, burial, and resurrection, He provides inspiration…the Holy Spirit living inside of us and working in us to live the life we’re called to live. So the focus needs to brought back to Him again and again.

CONSISTENCY. Life is busy, and there are many things that will wrestle against your decision to be consistently connected to a Life Group. One of the most obvious forces coming against this decision are spiritual forces. There is an enemy of God, and he desires to keep you isolated and alone in your faith, unsupported and unaccountable. Being connected in a small, Biblically focused fellowship means that you are consistently being loved, cared for, known, supported, challenged, growing and accountable. Your steadfast commitment to the others in your group makes you strong. I understand that being committed relationally is hard work. It’s always easier to love people in general than it is to love specific people. But its specific, individual, real people that God has called you to love. The Message paraphrase of James phrases it this way:

You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. James 3:18 MSG

Consistency takes hard work, but robust community and right living with God are worth it. Focus. Consistency. And the last value is:

TOGETHER. I believe God wants us to experience His grace together. The Bible says:

See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we really are! 1 John 3:1 NLT

So many followers of Jesus focus only on the gift God gives us in adopting us as His children, and forget that a major part of God’s grace to us is His family. God adopts us into His household, and it’s through His family that He showers us with His love. The church is the family that God has adopted us into, and it is His plan to use it to grow us, to nurture us, to experience more of His love, and understand more of His grace. Knowledge is only one aspect of growth, implementation is the true measure…and love can happen solely in context of relationships.

I can honestly say that for the last couple of years, my Life Group has become my family. I am challenged and encouraged, loved and supported and I seek to contribute those qualities to my Life Group as well. We celebrate birthdays and holidays together, we walk through difficulties and stressful times together. Through our focused consistency, I can honestly say that we are being grown in the character of Christ, together. I would challenge ALL of God’s people to be in relationships nurturing that kind of care.

I’m excited to report is that, now, the second year that I have the honor of coaching these boys, they actually DO follow the ball around in a clump. I’m thrilled. They’ve grown. Strength, stamina, interest, focus, and comprehension are all much improved over last year, and it is fun to affirm their growth, and to continue to influence them to pursue more.

And therein lies the great hope. I’m watching these boys suddenly bending it like Beckham, and it hits me…this is how God does His work of sanctification. He loves and he encourages, He prompts and helps us practice, and through His guidance and His family, we somehow become more like Him. All the while He keeps patiently reminding us, like an inspirational coach: “Focus! Consistency! Together!” I am so thankful that He has mastered the art of herding cats.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Tonight I took a run in the twilight.
I was running only a few miles tonight, just a warmdown from yesterday’s eighteen miler. And it was gorgeous.

Bats were flitting around the warm summer evening. I startled a well fed coyote. The silhouettes of pine needles and maple leaves were so sharp you could cut yourself on them. I was loving Jesus as I ran, thankful for this summer day, thankful for the soccer games and the sunshine, thankful for friends and family, thankful for church.

The music on my playlist changed to a song by Sigor Ros called Glosoli. This is a band from Iceland, and they sing not in English, but in some hauntingly mythic language (I’m guessing Icelandish). The song begins like a whisper, and then builds like a hurricane, but the whole thing is so beautiful it gives me a lump in my throat. There is a video that goes with the song.

It’s more of a short film.
A boy with a drum. He begins to journey. As he travels, he enlists other children to join him on his journey. Each child is so beautiful: they’re symbolic, they’re metaphoric, they’re Icelandic. These two are frightened and so they’ve hidden behind masks. These have learned violence, somehow. This one is isolated, alone. This one knows love. The boy with the drum calls them, and they all come. They leave whatever life they have known, they drop their nets, and they join this quest, this journey, this pageant. When the boy with drum arrives at the place he has been leading them to, he looks significantly at the horizon. He sets his face towards Jerusalem, if you will. And then he beats his drum.

He beats his drum.
He beats his drum.
With wild abandon, he begins to run with all that he has forward, upward, over a gently sloping grass-covered hillside. The other children join him. It is serious, ecstatic, jubilant, triumphant. The drum is cast aside. The final masks are removed. The children run upwards and upwards until they reach the very edge of an impossibly high cliff.
And then they soar off the edge.
They soar.
Faces beaming, they soar.

And that’s the end. We don’t know the back story, and we don’t know the future story. Here they are. They find one another. They journey together. They run. They soar. All led by a boy with a drum.

Jesus came to bring us life, and life to the full.
He didn’t just come to set us free, he came to set us free, indeed.
And I would argue, even now, he’s beating his drum, and ready to show you what it takes to soar.

It was dark as I finished my run. The song was over, and there was a lump in my throat. I walked the last bit in silence, listening to the sounds of the night. I felt joyful, quiet, serious. It is a good thing to know the drummer. It’s a good thing to follow him to the heights.