Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jack Bauer as a Pastor

My dad emailed this to me . . . I don't know where he got it from, but so true.

The other day I was thinking, what if Jack Bauer became a Christian, and then suddenly felt a call to ministry?

What would his church be like? His counseling sessions? Here’s what I think it would be like…

- Counseling sessions would be fast. Really fast. Because he only has two minutes, and you better tell him what’s going on or he’s going to mash your knee with his oversized Bible.

- He would scream the word “now” a lot. As in, “Tell me why you were impatient with your wife. NOW!”

- Every counseling session would end with a confession, because Pastor Jack can pull a confession out of anybody. Even if you didn’t do it.

- In every elders meeting Jack would inform the elders that “he did what he had to”.

- He would answer every theological question the same way: “It’s complicated…”

- He would probably fake his death several times as sermon illustrations.

- Scripture references in sermons would be called “backup”.

- The church would meet in an abandoned warehouse. The ushers would also be snipers and would establish a perimeter around the building.

- At least three times a week Jack would be misunderstood by his congregation and have to go “dark” until he could clear his name.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Girl's Soccer Team

Yesterday our girls soccer team defeated its arch-rival, Milken, for the first time in team history. What a great game! Here's a little slideshow of pictures.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The New Year, Sort Of . . .

Remember, only a few short years ago, all the fears of Y2K?

"Every computer in the world will shut down."

"Life as we know it will end."

No one knew, though everyone claimed to, what would happen the moment the clock changed from 12/31/99 to 1/1/00. My only memory of that moment was that somehow I was driving when the clock changed. What was I doing on the road for the final minutes of the twentieth century? That I'm not sure. I remember where I was though. I had just merged onto the empty stretch of I-79 north of the Crafton Exit. I turmed the radio on. I watched as the digital clock in my Buick Regal switched from 11:58 to 11:59. Of course the clock wasn't exactly aligned to Eastern Standard time. I guessed the eastern seaboard would step into the new century a few seconds before the car's clock would. Moments before the big change I suddenly wondered if the car would shut down when the clock switched. Would I see nuclear explosions light the distant horizon? Would house lights flicker off around me? Just as those thoughts flowed through my mind the radio commentator began the final ten second count.

10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6- Should I start slowing down the car in case it turns off? - 3 - 2 - 1- HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I waited for a long moment, my eyes scanning the horizon for billowing mushroom clouds.

Nothing happened. The car clock flipped to 12:00 a few seconds later and still nothing happened. A part of me was a little disappointed. I wanted something, anything to happen for all the stupid commentary that had filled airways for the previous twelve months.

Still nothing took place. The radio promised an upcoming performance of Creed, and I turned it off. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts.

It was the year 2000. Here we were beginning not only a brand new year, not only a brand new decade or even century- we were bringing in a new millennium. How many times had that happened in world history? Six? Ten? Who knows. I reflected on the privilege of living through such an occurrence. I remember my wry smile and quiet laugh at bringing in a new year, decade, century, millennium by myself on I-79 in a Buick Regal. My goodness, the least I could do for such a momentous planetary occasion was find some cute girl to kiss.

Then my thoughts moved to the future. What would this coming decade hold for me? I remember thinking this exact thought. "I wonder where I'll be in ten years? I wonder what my life will look like in 2010?"

Well, here I am ten years later. Strange that as I sit and type this in Panera (a restaurant I'd never even heard of in 1999) I'd hear the song "How Great Thou Art" on my iPod (an invention no one had thought of in 1999). God truly has been great to me over the last ten years. He brought me debt-free through five years of college. He placed me at a wonderful ministry in Butler, PA for seven years and moved me to another phenomenal ministry this year. God allowed me to visit Suriname, Turkey, Israel, St. Vincent, and Mexico. He opened the door for me to travel across the United States with a drama ministry. God brought a great husband to my sister. He gave them a precious daughter who in only a few months will become a big sister to another baby. God allowed me to work at camp, meet hundreds of new friends, preach at a dozen different churches, minister to countless young people, begin a photography business, and most of all . . . enjoy the sweet presence of Jesus Christ in my life.

It's been a good decade. Through the tears, through the joy, through the doubt, through the victories God has been so good to me.

If God wills it, I'll enjoy the next ten years basking in the goodness of his love.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Many people celebrate their birthday with a party, a trip to Disneyland, a romantic getaway, or hanging out with friends. Not me. I celebrated by driving into the desert. By myself.

Tuesday afternoon I piled food and water into the Explorer. Last thing I wanted was breaking down in the middle of the Mojave and starving to death three hours from LA on my thirtieth birthday . Not my idea of a great way to go out. If anything bad happened at least I'd be prepared. I also dragged the twin mattress off my bed and threw it in the back of the SUV. Not quite like spending a night at some hotel in Paris or on the beach in Hawaii, but that's ok.

By the time I arrived in desert territory the sun had disappeared. In the darkness I wasn't sure I'd be able to find the little side road leading off into the wilderness. I'd been here before. Two years ago I took a weeklong road trip that lead me up through the wilds of Death Valley, across Yosemite, down into King's Canyon, and back to Santa Clarita. During the first day of the trip I'd come across a dry lakebed just north of Barstow. It's called Cuddeback Lake.

I cruised down an almost empty 385 until I saw what looked like a good sized trail leading back off the road. This was just what I was looking for. I hoped anyway. For eight miles I bumped and jostled down a sandy trail praying my directional skills proved correct. When the path suddenly emerged onto a parched brown, cracked and hardened lake bed I knew I'd been right. This was it. There was little sign of any other human life. Off to the north, many miles away I saw three lights quite spread out. To the south, barely visible, flickered two more. That was it. Other than those five dim reminders that there's still life in this world, it was just God and I. I can't think of a better way to turn thirty.

I drove my Ford Explorer three more miles to the far side of the lake bed and turned to face back the way I'd come. Something inside of me doesn't like sitting in a restaurant with my back to the door. In the same silly way I wanted to be able to see if any other vehicles drove onto the lake bed that night. Sure, that left my back to the wide open desert, but I doubted there was anything out there. What if there was though?

There are certain blessings to an active imagination. Of course, there are many curses as well. One of those curses resulted in the thousand thoughts that ran through my head. What if some sicko killer camped out in that desert and saw my vehicle as the perfect opportunity to commit his next heinous crime? What if deranged ex-Army zombies lived in the hills overlooking my car? What if in the flash of my camera, suddenly the exploding light revealed a rush of crazed creatures hurling themselves toward my car? Yeah, all those thoughts ran through my head. I'm telling you, my imagination is WAY overactive.

After I settled in for the night I stepped out of the car into the beauty of the desert night. A half moon lit the lake bed as far as I could see. I stood in the blue-grey light of the moon and stared up at a sky full of stars arching above me. To the north I made out the faint threads of the Milky Way stretching across the sky. It was just me, God, and the overwhelming sense of his awe-inspiring creation.

For almost an hour I stood alone just listening, looking around, enjoying the moment, trying to take it all in. This was how I spent the last few hours of my twenties. No party, park rides, dinner conversation or friends. That's ok. I enjoyed the silence. I appreciated the solitude.

Monday, November 23, 2009

“In every change He faithful will remain . . .”

Last night I attended an evening service at Placerita Baptist Church. The song leader began our worship time by announcing that we’d be picking favorite hymns; so for several minutes I waffled between “Like a River Glorious” and “And Can It Be” eventually choosing the latter. Ahh, the hymns, I thought. I love the hymns for the clarity and truth packed into only a few lines of text.

Immediately after my choice the song leader pointed to the back left corner.

“Be Still My Soul,” was the song title called back.

Be Still My Soul, I pondered, Not something I would choose. I changed my mind as we began to sing the words, “In every change, He faithful will remain . . .” My heart echoed that thought again and again as the congregation sang on. “In every change, He faithful will remain . . .”

So true. So absolutely true.

As I left the service and began the short drive home I couldn’t empty my mind of that phrase. Before moving from Pennsylvania my head had filled with doubts. I was leaving behind everything I knew. I was leaving my friends and family. I was adopting a new school, new staff, new students, new parents, new procedures, and not least a new home. I’d have lesson plans to do, text books to study, wedding pictures to edit and mail.

“Thanksgiving,” I’d told a friend, “If I can make it to Thanksgiving break I’ll be ok.”

Well, here I am. This morning marks the beginning of Thanksgiving break, and everything is alright. All the lesson plans have been written, tests have been composed and graded, books read, friends have been made, students taught, pictures edited, an apartment furnished and put together. Everything that needed to be finished has been.

“In every change, He faithful will remain . . .”

As I drove home last night I choked up to think of God’s faithfulness to bring me through the process. His faithfulness, God’s goodness, is what brought me from Pittsburgh on August 17 and has sustained me to this very moment. It has all been of the Lord!

“Not to us, Oh Lord. Not to us, but to your name give glory, for your mercy and for your truth’s sake.” Psalm 115:1

Even this morning as I read, the Word reminded me of this simple, but crucial, truth.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers; they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2

Is moving and starting a new job the worst trial a person can walk through; by no means. Not even close. I realize that everyday people around me walk through much deeper waters and much hotter fires. That said, at this moment in my life God has led me, is leading me, and will continue to lead me all the way.

“Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side . . .”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not Quite Lesson Learned, But Learning

In the past I liked to think I did a mighty fine job of playing second fiddle. Not the actual instrument, but the position. I can humble myself. I can sit back and let others get the glory. My name doesn’t have to be hung in radiant lights.

God decided to test the pride I’d placed in my own humility. He put me in a place where I began as second fiddle, was pushed down to third fiddle, and may quickly become fourth. Now I wonder if there’s even a spot for a fifth fiddle. I’m thinking nobody actually needs five fiddles in their band.

Yesterday I stood off by myself lamenting my personal fall from power. Arrogant thoughts rushed through my head.

What about me? What about my talents, my abilities? What about what I can offer? Me! Me! ME!

I was so angry, disappointed, and hurt; when along came the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Apparently with the kind of attitude I had fourth fiddle was exactly where I needed to be. God has to teach me to work behind the scenes. He wants me to serve even if I never get noticed. I’m so used to being the front man. I’m used to being the camp counselor, program director, preacher, or teacher. I’ve grown used to people looking and seeing me.

So, this is what I need. Even as I write this, I’m so grateful God would put me in this position. I need to learn this lesson. My pride needs to be greatly tamed. My prayer is that I can learn whatever fiddle position the Lord puts me in, and learn to serve in that position with excellence, passion, and humility.

No, the lesson certainly hasn’t been learned, but by the grace of God I pray I can learn it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nexus - Spiritual Emphasis Week

NEXUS Closing from Ken Kistler Photography

This week Dave, my brother-in-law, spoke at our school's spiritual emphasis week. They decided to call it NEXUS. Nexus, of course, means "the central or most important place." What a great week.

Dave began the messages speaking on the majesty of God. Tuesday he spoke about the meagerness of man. Wednesday he shared about the grace of God. All these messages connected. The holiness of God is necessary to know and understand before you can see our own meagerness, lack, and need. Once you see the need of man then, and only then, can you see how incredible God's grace is. Thursday Dave spoke about love. Once you've seen God's grace toward you then the reaction should be love for him which overflows in love toward others. Friday we wrapped up with a focus on serving.

Again, it was a great week. There was so much to consider.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The other little boy I photographed yesterday was Darby. What a cute little kid!

Here are some pics.