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If you are going to be in
Northern California tomorrow night
Come pray, meditate, hang out,
& catch the vision
Worship night at Gina's house
December 30, anytime between 7-11pm
Everyone is welcome
Bring friends

CLICK HERE to email me for directions


merry Christmas

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The Byzantine Museum-Athens


tattoo stories

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I got this "half sleeve" done over the summer. Each part of the tattoo has significance and I thought I'd take a minute to show off my ink! The symbol on my shoulder is known as the "Sacred Heart". It's a Catholic symbol. It symbolizes the heart of Jesus Christ. It has a crown of thorns and the side is pierced and blood and water both flow out of it. The cross at the top is symbolic of death, and the cross is being consumed because Christ conquered death and the grave.

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On the back of my arm is a drawing of Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China in the late 1800s. Hudson dressed, ate, worked, and spoke as the Chinese when missionaries typically told natives that they needed to become "western" in order to become Christian. He had become one of them and had earned their respect. As a result the missions organization that Hudson founded, "China Inland Mission", is to this day the most successful Chinese missions organization.
I've always considered Hudson Taylor a kind of hero in the faith.

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Oh, by the way... Did you get your tickets to the GUN SHOW?!?!?!?

I have the Greek word "Doulos" tattooed on the inside of my arm. Doulos means "Slave, Servant, or Bondservant". Doulos has a connotation of service, not because you seek reward, or because you are were purchased as a slave, but that you are compelled to serve. As if something within you compells you to serve this master, no matter the reward, or the cost.

I also have a tattoo on the back of my neck. You can see a picture of it, and read the story behind it by CLICKING HERE.

Yes, they hurt.

The inside of the arm hurt the worst, especially up towards the armpit. The top of the shoulder was pretty bad, and right on the spine on my neck didn't exactly tickle either. The outside of the arm was cake though, I actually fell asleep in the middle of a 4 hour session.
The whole half sleeve took about 20 hours altogether.
I can see what people mean when they say that it's addictive but I'm pretty sure I'm done. I'm not planning on any other major pieces anyway. I'll probably have a little black and gray clouds in between the waves and the Sacred Heart at some point, but that's all I'm planning now.

I'm really happy with the way they turned out!
Sim does a great job if you're looking to decorate your temple. www.simtattoo.com


semper reformanda

Semper Reformanda:
Forever Reforming

At my church we recently had a series on the attributes of God. One of the topics was: God is Immutable.

Pronunciation: (")i(m)-'myü-t&-b&l
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin immutabilis, from in- + mutabilis mutable
: not capable of or susceptible to change

We illustrated the point that God never changes by showing in contrast how much we as human beings change.
Our bodies change as we grow. Our fashion sense changes as the years pass by. Our opinions change as we become educated.

We are "Always Reforming", always changing. In a very real sense without change there is death. Our human bodies are finite, and ever changing. Some changes are more visible than others. For example, my hairline is slowly receding, and gray hairs are starting to pop up on the sides of my head, while my belly is not quite as tight as it used to be.
Some changes are completely invisible to us. At the molecular level our bodies are in a constant state of change.
The only time that the process of change stops is at the time of death.

And that's only the physical change that our bodies experience. What about the way that we change our minds?
When I was 18, I was pretty sure that I knew it all. I had it all figured out.
Then I got to 21 and realized that I had been totally wrong about many things at 18.
When I turned 23 I got married and realized how truly juvenile I was back when I was 21.
Then when I turned 25 and had my first son I realized that I was just a kid when I got married.
Now I look back and wonder "who are you?!?!?"

Katie says, "You're not the man I married." And I say, "Yeah, no kidding, I've been like three different people since we got married!"

It's fascinating to me that we constantly go through change, we are always "in process". I'm thankful that God understands this and that God does not change. His grace is always available to us so that we can live the lives we should. His mercy is always there when we jack things up.
God is much bigger and more complex and more beautiful than we will ever be able to comprehend with our feeble human minds.

It's a challenge for us to realize that we are still in process. It's tough to admit that we don't have it all figured out just yet. It's important for us to realize that we are "semper reformada".

We see through a glass darkly.

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modern day job

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"Job hearing of his ruin" by Gustave Dore

Sheriff's deputy Andy McDowell was forced to live a parent's worst nightmare twice in a matter of minutes.

After he was taken to the site where his 23 year old son, Rory, was killed in a car crash early Wednesday, McDowell was driven past another fatal accident. Only later did he learn that the fiery wreck took the life of his only other child, 21 year old, Cory.

As a father my heart aches for the loss that the McDowell family is experiencing right now. Join with me and pray for the McDowell's as they deal with this unimaginable grief.

CLICK HERE to read the article, "Brothers die in crashes just minutes apart"


emo driven life

"Every man has a Jessica Simpson fantasy. Here's mine: Jessica, hold your sister Ashlee down so I can kick her in the throat!"
Dave Attell

I'm not a huge Ashlee Simpson fan. I definitely don't dislike her as much as Dave here does, but I'm not lining up to buy her CD or Tivo'ing her latest reality show, so when the latest issue of Blender showed up with her on the cover I almost didn't open it up. I somehow got a complimentary subscription to this magazine, probably because I subscribe to other music mags like Rolling Stone. Anyway, I haven't been all that impressed with the writing or the reviews so I rarely even open up the magazine when it arrives. Last night I had some time to kill so I flipped through the pages and came across an article entitled "Emo Driven Life". Much to my surprise this secular magazine had an eight page spread on the worship team "Team Strike Force" of Mars Hill Church in Seattle! I've never seen this much attention given to a church organization (other than maybe Saddleback, or Willow Creek) in a secular publication. The article was surprisingly complimentary too! It even had a nifty little timeline that featured the history of Rock n' Roll in the church.
The best entry in the timeline was this: "Circa A.D. 30; Jesus establishes rock & roll credentials by hanging out with a prostitute, Mary Magdalene, and turning water into wine at a party. Your move Tommy Lee..."
The article talked a bit about the Church, the pastor, and the different worship teams that lead at Mars Hill.

Here's a small excerpt: "A thousand people are on their feet for Team Strike Force tonight. The band, in Converse and corduroy, smash out the power chords of an emo anthem. 'Give me a heart, a heart that is full,' moans Luke Abrams, his dirty blonde bangs flopping over his brow, his slight frame bent rapturously back. Matt Johnson smacks down the drums, sweat dampening his Dischord Records T-shirt. The room shakes with the crowd's singing. Hands raise invisible lighters aloft. This moment should be followed by cold beers in the dressing room as Dave Grohl drops by to say hello, a couple of skater babes in tow. But in the green room at this particular venue, none of that awaits. There is a deli tray with olives and turkey sandwiches, but the only alcohol is a chalice of sacramental wine resting next to a worn Bible on a side table.

'Our church attracts the young, urban, hip, arty, cool, play-guitar-on-the-weekend, workin'-a-desk-job-during-the-week, people. Some have grown up with church experience. But most haven't been for a couple years. This is cool enough that they can relate.'
'Many of us were going to churches where the music was cookie cutter and dry' says Claudine, 31, who's been attending Mars Hill for three years. 'Team Strike Force is something we can understand.' Pastor Mark Driscoll and his team of church elders have invested much thought and energy in making the physical environment of worship one where people like Claudine feel not only comfortable but impressed.
Everything in this vast former hardware store is sleek and modern, even the church motto: MEANING. BEAUTY. TRUTH. COMMUNITY. Aside from a distressed-metal cross that looks more like a design element than an icon and the shifting images on the 'digital stained glass' video screens, this could be any room Fall Out Boy would play on a nationwide tour."

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CLICK HERE to check out Mars Hill's website. Click on the downloads button to listen to music from Team Strike Force.


the next great philanthropist/social activist?

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I just read an article by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker about Pastor/Author Rick Warren. In this article Rick talks a little bit about the newfound fame and wealth that his book "Purpose Driven Life" has brought him. Here is a short excerpt from that article:

"In the wake of the extraordinary success of "The Purpose-Driven Life," Warren says, he underwent a period of soul-searching. He had suddenly been given enormous wealth and influence and he did not know what he was supposed to do with it. "God led me to Psalm 72, which is Solomon's prayer for more influence," Warren says. "It sounds pretty selfish. Solomon is already the wisest and wealthiest man in the world. He's the King of Israel at the apex of its glory. And in that psalm he says, 'God, I want you to make me more powerful and influential.' It looks selfish until he says, 'So that the King may support the widow and orphan, care for the poor, defend the defenseless, speak up for the immigrant, the foreigner, be a friend to those in prison.' Out of that psalm, God said to me that the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. That changed my life. I had to repent. I said, I'm sorry, widows and orphans have not been on my radar. I live in Orange County. I live in the Saddleback Valley, which is all gated communities. There aren't any homeless people around. They are thirteen miles away, in Santa Ana, not here." He gestured toward the rolling green hills outside. "I started reading through Scripture. I said, How did I miss the two thousand verses on the poor in the Bible? So I said, I will use whatever affluence and influence that you give me to help those who are marginalized."

He and his wife, Kay, decided to reverse tithe, giving away ninety per cent (over $14 million in 2004) of the tens of millions of dollars they earned from "The Purpose-Driven Life." They sat down with gay community leaders to talk about fighting AIDS. Warren has made repeated trips to Africa. He has sent out volunteers to forty-seven countries around the world, test-piloting experiments in microfinance and H.I.V. prevention and medical education. He decided to take the same networks he had built to train pastors and spread the purpose-driven life and put them to work on social problems.

"There is only one thing big enough to handle the world's problems, and that is the millions and millions of churches spread out around the world," he says. "I can take you to thousands of villages where they don't have a school. They don't have a grocery store, don't have a fire department. But they have a church."

CLICK HERE to download the entire article (PDF)


blood:water mission

Last weekend I led worship at a multi church, multi denominational community worship night. There were several leaders involved both in musical worship and in leading short segments of prayer, and exhortation. I was asked to do a little of each. The music part was easy to plan for. I’ve done that a million times. However, speaking is not my strong suit. I did have a message on my heart though, so I took a deep breath and dove in. Here’s what I said:

“Thanksgiving… How many of you have something to be thankful for? Personally I have so much to be thankful for. When I take a moment to sit back and count my blessings I feel a responsibility to give back a little bit. I want to do something for those in need. To whom much is given, much is required.

About a week after Hurricane Katrina a few friends and I drove a truck load of supplies down to Louisiana and Mississippi. It was amazing to me to see that with a fairly small investment you could have such a huge impact on a community. Let me ask you a question. What was the first thing that hurricane survivors asked for? What was the most urgent need?” The unanimous response was WATER! I held up a water bottle and continued.

“This water is fairly cheap and we’ve seen the huge impact it can have. You cannot sustain life without clean water. After returning from Louisiana I became acquainted with the organization started up by the guys of Jars of Clay called ‘Blood:Water Mission’. I learned that two of three children born into third world countries will not reach adulthood because of one thing: unclean water. I also learned that with a fairly small investment we can help. For a few thousand dollars we can dig a well that will provide clean water for an entire community for years to come. In a room this size (about 500 people) if each and every one of us gave up Starbucks for just one day we could dig this well. It’s not a huge deal, just one mocha."

Then I said, "I’ve placed two water cooler sized water bottles at the corners of the stage and during the next few songs I want you to get out of your seat and come down to the water bottles and put your Starbucks money in the bottle to provide clean water for those in need. This is a very real way that we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to the fatherless, the widow, and those in need. Jesus called that ‘true religion’ and tonight we want to be a part of that.”

Then I prayed and started leading the congregation in the doxology, and then we sang Grace Like Rain. It was really hard to hold back tears as hundreds of people came up and gave as an act of worship. It was a beautiful thing.

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I was hoping for around a thousand dollars but I was blown away at the final count. When all was said and done our group of worshipers had given over $1800.00!!! I am absolutely amazed at the generosity of these beautiful people and am extremely humbled to have been a part.

If you would like to be a part CLICK HERE to go to Blood:Water Mission’s website and click the “Donate Online” button. Join us and give up your coffee money for a day or two and be a part of a life saving effort to bring clean water to Africa.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the work of Blood:Water Mission



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What's crazy is, the attendance was up by 200 percent that weekend...


poster child for christianity

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Meet Margaret Perrin.
Margaret was a part of the television show "Trading Spouses" where the mothers from two diverse families trade places for one week while the cameras roll tape. Margaret is from Louisiana, and is a church going, Bible believing, Revelations quoting, "God warrior". She spent a week with a new age family as the new age mom spent a week with Margaret's family. What a wonderful opportunity for Margaret to be an example of Christlike grace, love, and acceptance. Unfortunately Margaret couldn't get past the "dark sided" ways of the new age family she landed with. She didn't really make too many friends in the family. It did however appear that she reinforced many preconceived notions about Christians being close minded, narrow, unloving, selfish and unaccepting.

Is that really what Christians are about? Why would anyone want to be a part of that family?

CLICK HERE to see the clip from "Trading Spouses"
CLICK HERE to hear Margaret's new single from her upcoming album

**NEW** CLICK HERE to see the Margaret Perrin Bobblehead figurine!


you had me at Jesus Juice

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A Los Angeles couple has petitioned the Copyright office in an effort to market a wine labeled "Jesus Juice". The label features a man looking an awful lot like Michael Jackson in the pose of the Crucifix. That's not distasteful at all.

I'm sure they have the best intentions.

CLICK HERE for the full story
CLICK HERE for the winemaker's explanation


questions facing the early church

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I'm watching a fascinating documentary called "from Jesus to Christ: the First Christians". It is all about the cultural setting that Jesus was born into. It also follows His ministry, crucifixion, and the aftermath for the newly formed community of the followers of Christ. It's about a four hour documentary and I'm only two hours in, but already I've seen some fascinating stuff I wanted to talk about. The thing that struck me was that the early church faced many of the same questions that I face as a follower of Christ who wishes to be true to my faith while maintaining cultural relevance. Check this out. One of the commentators was talking about the struggles of the first generation of Christ followers, much of which is documented in the book of Titus. They had several questions that they had to sort out:

How Greek am I to be?
How Roman am I to be?
How Jewish am I to be?

When read in context these questions mean this:

How Greek am I to be, how strongly do I identify with my nationality, race, and heritage?
How Roman am I to be, what is my place in the political scheme of things?
How Jewish am I to be, do I have to be a religious person in order to be a follower of Christ?

These are the problems that the followers of Christ faced as they asked themselves, "what is my place in today's prevailing culture?"

These are relevant questions for today. I see a sense of national pride in the USA, and have seen the terms "American" and "Christian" used interchangeably, yet many things that are done in the name of the good 'ole USA are not Christlike at all. Should I speak up, even if I seem unpatriotic? I've seen churchgoers used as political collateral, and told en masse who to vote for by someone in leadership who has done all the thinking for them. Do I follow the rest of the sheep, or do I rock the boat? Is it even my place to be talking about politics? I've also seen so many people who love Christ but want nothing to do with organized religion. Is there a place for them in Christianity? How "religious" do we need to be?

One of the first major controversies that the early church faced was based on the last question. How Jewish am I to be? With the spread of the gospel of Christ came new converts. The first question a heathen (gentile) convert must ask themselves is,"must I become Jewish (religious) in order to be a follower of Jesus?" Did they have to take on the Jewish rites? Did they have to follow the letter of the Levitical law? Did they have to leave behind all connections to their family and their community? Did they have to become circumcised so that they could take on the appearance of the Jews? Did they have to look religious in order to be a follower of Christ?

I knew it would be interesting to watch this documentary but it was fascinating to me to discover that I could relate to some of the same questions that they faced.

How American am I to be? Do I have to stand by everything that is done in the name of the USA even if I feel like it is contrary to what is true, and right, and Godly?
How Political am I to be? When I decide to become a Christian do I vote with the rest of churchianity and leave thinking to the qualified?
How Religious am I to be? I hate neckties. I like beer. I cuss every now and then. Do I really have to listen to that music? Do I have to learn to talk like other christians? What the hell does "traveling mercies" mean anyway?

I truly love Jesus Christ, and I really want to live my life in a way that would honor Him. So I struggle my way through these questions because I really want to know:

What is my place in today's prevailing culture?



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Nudist pastor holds naked services.

Pastor Robert Wright has begun hosting Nudist Church Services at a naturist resort near Brisbane Australia. His services have drawn as many as 200 naked worshipers to partake in the Lord's Supper in the buff. Pastor Wright says, "I am not trying to get Christians to become nudists, I am catering to Christians who are nudists. There are more Christians in it than people realize. We are not into sex orgies, we are very well-adjusted people."

The problem is, everyone can clearly see when he's "adjusting".


sometimes you can't make it on your own

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In the current issue of Rolling Stone there is an interview with U2 lead singer/activist Bono. It’s a fascinating read, and shows some great insight into this mans spiritual life and his views on modern christianity. Here’s a small excerpt from the article:

Soon after starting the band you joined a Bible-study group -- you and Larry and Edge -- called the Shalom. What brought that on?

We were doing street theater in Dublin, and we met some people who were madder than us. They were a kind of inner-city group living life like it was the first century A.D.

They were expectant of signs and wonders; lived a kind of early-church religion. It was a commune. People who had cash shared it. They were passionate, and they were funny, and they seemed to have no material desires. Their teaching of the Scriptures reminded me of those people whom I'd heard as a youngster with Guggi. I realize now, looking back, that it was just insatiable intellectual curiosity.

But it got a little too intense, as it always does; it became a bit of a holy huddle. And these people -- who are full of inspirational teaching and great ideas -- they pretended that our dress, the way we looked, didn't bother them. But very soon it appeared that was not the case. They started asking questions about the music we were listening to. Why are you wearing earrings? Why do you have a mohawk?

How did you end up leaving that?

I think we just went on tour.

And forgot to come back?

Well, we'd visit. If you were going to study the teaching, it demanded a rejection of the world. Even then we understood that you can't escape the world, wherever you go. Least of all in very intense religious meetings -- which can be more corrupt and more bent, in terms of the pressures they exert on people, than the outside forces.

What draws you so deeply to Martin Luther King?

So now -- cut to 1980. Irish rock group, who've been through the fire of a certain kind of revival, a Christian-type revival, go to America. Turn on the TV the night you arrive, and there's all these people talking from the Scriptures. But they're quite obviously raving lunatics.

Suddenly you go, what's this? And you change the channel. There's another one. You change the channel, and there's another secondhand-car salesman. You think, oh, my God. But their words sound so similar . . . to the words out of our mouths.

So what happens? You learn to shut up. You say, whoa, what's this going on? You go oddly still and quiet. If you talk like this around here, people will think you're one of those. And you realize that these are the traders -- as in t-r-a-d-e-r-s -- in the temple.

Until you get to the black church, and you see that they have similar ideas. But their religion seems to be involved in social justice; the fight for equality. And a Rolling Stone journalist, Jim Henke, who has believed in you more than anyone up to this point, hands you a book called Let the Trumpet Sound -- which is the biography of Dr. King. And it just changes your life.

Even though I'm a believer, I still find it really hard to be around other believers: They make me nervous, they make me twitch. I sorta watch my back. Except when I'm with the black church. I feel relaxed, feel at home; my kids -- I can take them there; there's singing, there's music.

What is your religious belief today? What is your concept of God?

If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe there's a force of love and logic in the world, a force of love and logic behind the universe. And I believe in the poetic genius of a creator who would choose to express such unfathomable power as a child born in "straw poverty"; i.e., the story of Christ makes sense to me.

How does it make sense?

As an artist, I see the poetry of it. It's so brilliant. That this scale of creation, and the unfathomable universe, should describe itself in such vulnerability, as a child. That is mind-blowing to me. I guess that would make me a Christian. Although I don't use the label, because it is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I'm the worst example of it, so I just kinda keep my mouth shut.

Do you pray or have any religious practices?

I try to take time out of every day, in prayer and meditation. I feel as at home in a Catholic cathedral as in a revival tent. I also have enormous respect for my friends who are atheists, most of whom are, and the courage it takes not to believe.

How big an influence is the Bible on your songwriting? How much do you draw on its imagery, its ideas?

It sustains me.

As a belief, or as a literary thing?

As a belief. These are hard subjects to talk about because you can sound like such a dickhead. I'm the sort of character who's got to have an anchor. I want to be around immovable objects. I want to build my house on a rock, because even if the waters are not high around the house, I'm going to bring back a storm. I have that in me. So it's sort of underpinning for me.

I don't read it as a historical book. I don't read it as, "Well, that's good advice." I let it speak to me in other ways. They call it the rhema. It's a hard word to translate from Greek, but it sort of means it changes in the moment you're in. It seems to do that for me.

You're saying it's a living thing?

It's a plumb line for me. In the Scriptures, it is self-described as a clear pool that you can see yourself in, to see where you're at, if you're still enough. I'm writing a poem at the moment called "The Pilgrim and His Lack of Progress." I'm not sure I'm the best advertisement for this stuff.

What do you think of the evangelical movement that we see in the United States now?

I'm wary of faith outside of actions. I'm wary of religiosity that ignores the wider world. In 2001, only seven percent of evangelicals polled felt it incumbent upon themselves to respond to the AIDS emergency. This appalled me. I asked for meetings with as many church leaders as would have them with me. I used my background in the Scriptures to speak to them about the so-called leprosy of our age and how I felt Christ would respond to it. And they had better get to it quickly, or they would be very much on the other side of what God was doing in the world.

Amazingly, they did respond. I couldn't believe it. It almost ruined it for me -- 'cause I love giving out about the church and Christianity. But they actually came through: Jesse Helms, you know, publicly repents for the way he thinks about AIDS.

I've started to see this community as a real resource in America. I have described them as "narrow-minded idealists." If you can widen the aperture of that idealism, these people want to change the world. They want their lives to have meaning.

CLICK HERE to read more of the interview at rollingstone.com
CLICK HERE to subscribe to the podcast of the audio from the actual interview


kyle lake 1972-2005

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Pastor Kyle Lake was electrocuted this morning when he reached for a microphone during a baptismal service at his church University Baptist Church. He is pictured here at left, with two members of his church staff, including his worship leader, David Crowder, at right.
Kyle leaves behind his wife Jennifer, a 5 year old daughter, and twin 3 year old sons.

Pray for the Lake family during this difficult time.
Pray for the University Baptist Church family.

Kyle Lake was a talented writer, a forward thinker, and a kindred spirit. He will be missed.

CLICK HERE for the coverage at CNN
CLICK HERE for Pastor Kyle's comments when he last visited culture driven life


happy birthday to malachi!!!

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Malachi is TWO years old today!!! Happy Birthday Son! I love you!!!

CLICK HERE to see how he celebrated


i'm a published photographer

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Relevant Magazine was doing a story on the relief effort following Hurricane Katrina and they used one of the pictures I took in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the Pulitzer Prize Photo Committee to call me up.
Should be any day now.


all saints day

Remembering the martyred and the persecuted.

If you will be in Northern California this Friday come be a part of this alternative worship experience.

CLICK HERE for gathering time, and directions

CLICK HERE to view past worship experiences


my reasonable service

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Katie recently returned from her trip to New Orleans with a team from UGO4GOD. That's her in the back row, in the middle... no, not the one with the mustache, the cute one. One of her teammates, Gina, posted her diary, and some pictures from the trip.

CLICK HERE to go to "Not Only Here"


art apart from the artist

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“self portrait, 1889” Vincent Van Gogh

I got a phone call the other day from a producer in the music industry. He was talking with me about a recent trip he had made to California and specifically the time that he had been at a worship service where I was leading the musical worship. He said that normally he would be unable to enjoy listening to music at churches because he would be analyzing the mix, or the musicians, or the arrangement, or whatever. But he said that he was able to fully relax and enjoy the service. Then he said that he experienced something that had never happened to him before. He said (in hushed tones, almost embarrassed, like he didn’t know if he should be admitting this) “I felt a warmth, a physical warmth wash over my body.” He said, “I’m not the type of guy who believes in that stuff, but it really happened.” He said that the musical worship was really amazing, and that he could really “feel” something special there.

I remember meeting him after that service and I specifically remember what I felt during that service. You know what I felt?


I hadn’t put in any extra special effort, or extra prayer time or anything like that. I was just doing my thing. That got me to thinking about the “art apart from the artist”.

How much do our acts of worship actually have to do with us?

I can remember several times of musical worship where I felt like the music sucked, or I lost my voice, or I was in a bad mood, or I felt like my personal sin would negate my acts of worship, and in those times people would say that they had never been so moved in worship. I’ve come to the conclusion that our acts of worship have very little to do with us. I think God will use vessels that are willing, I’m pretty sure that’s the main qualifier in His eyes. Even hugely flawed vessels are used by God, myself included!!!

My dear friend Dean and I have been talking about this lately. He pointed me to an excellent article “art apart from the artist” by musician/writer Manuel Luz on this subject.

Manuel writes, “There must be some aspect of art that has the potential for expression, interpretation, and ministry separate from the artist who created it. For art is a painting apart from the painter, a story apart from the storyteller, an expression apart from the expresser. It is as if art has a life of it’s own, used by God at his discretion, for His purposes, in His timing. In a sense, art becomes alive, self-existent, legitimate. And we as artists have an obligation to birth the art, and set it free.

The work of an artist can have meaning and ministry outside of the scope of the artist who created it. Because the nature of God is that He can and does not only redeem the artist, but the work of the artist as well. He can use the work of a psychologically flawed, self-destructive painter in spite of himself. He can use the work of a sinful, prideful king in spite of himself. And He can use my music in spite of myself.”

CLICK HERE for the full article from www.manuelluz.com


update: mercy killings?

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Did staff at the New Orleans Memorial Medical Center carry out "mercy killings" during Hurricane Katrina?

CLICK HERE for the original story

UPDATE: 10-17-05

The Louisiana Attorney General's Office is overseeing the investigation into whether or not there were indeed "Mercy Killings" carried out at New Orleans Memorial Hospital. They are also overseeing the investigation into the possible abandonement of elderly patients at a New Orleans nursing home. The scope of the investigation is staggering.

Over 20% of the deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina are now being called into question.

CLICK HERE for the updated story


good quote from a good book

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“There may not be a more dangerous weapon for violence or oppression than religion. It seems counterintuitive, but when human beings create religions, we use them to control others through their guilt and shame. True religion always moves us to serve others and to give our lives to see those oppressed find freedom. [The Apostle] Paul persecuted followers of Christ and even instigated their deaths, but then he risked his own life so that others might live. He once personified the very worst that happens when a religion becomes civilized. It moves away from God and oppresses humanity in God’s name. Paul was once consumed by religion, but then he was transformed by the living presence of God Himself.

We, too, must find the barbarian way out of civilization. How have we come to this sanitized view of the faith to which Jesus calls us? Somewhere along the way the movement of Jesus Christ became civilized as Christianity. We created a religion using the name of Jesus Christ and convinced ourselves that God’s optimal desire for our lives was to insulate us in a spiritual bubble where we risk nothing, sacrifice nothing, lose nothing, worry about nothing. Yet Jesus’ death wasn’t to free us from dying, but to free us from the fear of death. Jesus came to liberate us so that we could die up front and then live. Jesus Christ wants to take us to places where only dead men and women can go.”

Erwin Raphael McManus, "The Barbarian Way"


tattoos kill

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If only I had read THIS STORY maybe I wouldn't have gone and got myself all inked up...

Well, no, I'd probably still do it...

CLICK HERE to read the full story, "Man falls dead while getting tattoo"


Katie's been in the South for too long...

Katie just boarded the plane to head home. We'll be picking her up tonight. And not a moment too soon. She's been in the south too long! She's been eating jumbalaya and gumbo, chitlin n' grits, and collard greens...

And she even started talking like them!!!

CLICK HERE for a special audio message from Katie!


it’s the end of the world as we know it

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The death toll in the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Pakistan has soared to over 30,000 people. Officials say that the average age in the hardest hit areas is 18 years old. They say an entire generation has been destroyed.

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The earthquake was so strong that it could be felt across all of South Asia. The United Nations has warned that 2.5 million people are in need of shelter following the earthquake.

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Guatemala's death toll from torrential rains last week associated with Hurricane Stan are projected to reach 1,000 people.

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Mudslides a half mile wide and up to twenty feet deep have swallowed entire villages. Overwhelmed officials have declared some areas mass graves and have stopped recovery efforts.
“Panabaj will no longer exist, we are asking that it be declared a cemetery. We are tired, we no longer know where to dig.”

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WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!? Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Stan, earthquakes, mudslides… Is it me, or is this stuff happening with a lot more frequency than in the past?
Is it God's judgment? Global warming? Happenstance?

If I were the apocalyptic type I’d be gathering up my “left behind” books and heading for the bomb shelter.


the boy in the bubble

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I was reading a Q&A section in a christian publication the other day. One of the questions was this:

“Q. We are saturated today with morally questionable images and messages through myriad media outlets. Besides moving to a deserted island, what are some ways I can guard my kids and instill godly values-without over-sheltering them from the real world?”

Now, I’m sure that the answer given by the columnist was fascinating but I quit reading right after the question.
I thought back to the many discussions my wife and I have had since having our two sons on this very subject. Katie and I are products of vastly different parenting styles. This has made our conversations about our children’s future very interesting. Here’s a little background:

I was raised in a very strict family, with Dad being very much the authoritarian. I was very sheltered. I was home schooled, my parents “screened” my friends, I didn’t get to watch “dirty dancing”, I didn’t get to listen to secular music, I didn’t get to sleep over or do things like that.
Katie jokingly calls me “the boy in the bubble”.

Katie’s parents had a different approach. They were of the opinion that they had done their best to instill godly values in her as a small child and they were going to let her go out there and let her figure it all out. They said, “what good is the light that is in you until you take it into a dark place?” Don’t get me wrong, they cared, they were protective as well, she wasn’t a wild child or anything, but still a very different approach.

So, I guess that question in the magazine is my own. How can I teach my children to be real, and relational, and relevant, without compromise? I don’t want to over-shelter, but I certainly don’t want to under-shelter either.

We live in the tension. Where is the perfect balance point?


leavin' on a jet plane...

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Katie just sent me a text message to let me know that she was boarding the plane headed for New Orleans. She's going to stay for a week and help out the same group that I was with when I was in Louisiana about a month ago. Pastor Troy and his crew have set up a kitchen area to feed the construction crews, and the people of New Orleans that are slowly making their way back home. Pastor Troy tells us that they have been feeding over 500 people per day. Katie is going with several people from our church including Gina and Liz.

I would appreciate your prayers for the safety of Katie and her team. Katie asked also for everybody to pray that I will remember to feed the boys. I think she was being sarcastic, but I can't be certain.

CLICK HERE to go to the UGO4GOD blog.



The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father
Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again;
He ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
One holy church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting.


An American Creed

I believe in my income and Standard of Living,
Maker of pleasure on earth.
And in Things-I-Own and Things-I-Want-To-Get,
Which are conceived by desire for possessions born of a regular paycheck,
Suffered under monthly payments,
Then glorified, cherished and admired.
They descend in their value,
But on a future day I'll acquire some more,
Ascending in my status,
'Til I sit in quite comfortable retirement,
From whence I shall come to enjoy them all without end.
I believe in my home or apartment,
My comfortable automobile,
My vacation with pay,
My insurance for life,
The satisfaction of my wants,
And a bank account ever increasing.


R. Vallet, Congregations at the Crossroads


purpose driven chameleon

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I’ve heard of being all things to all people… but this is ridiculous!!!

I don’t have a problem with a church having a service that has a specific style of music if that style of music helps them express their love of Christ in an authentic way. I don’t even have a problem with churches that have a certain theme. You know, different strokes for different folks… Whatever blows your skirt up.

The thing that bums me out about this is that it seems like Saddleback Church is trying to take over the entire church “market” in their hometown. Pastor Rick… why do you need a service with gospel music, and a big choir? There’s already a church in town that’s doing that. Why do you need a worship service with “Island” music and a “Luau”? There’s a Samoan church a few miles away that already does this. Why do you need a “Traditions” service? There are tons of churches in town that offer hymn singing and solid biblical teaching. Why do you need a “Country” service? Actually, why does anybody need a country service!?!?!?

Pastor Rick, your church is big enough.


good quote from a good book

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“The art of evangelism is not one to be mastered; it’s more lifestyle than duty and more natural process than calculated function of necessity. It’s God’s resounding request for His followers to participate in His story. Your spiritual, mental, and emotional involvement is key to being an engaged follower of Jesus who naturally and effortlessly shares your faith story. God has called you to participate. Will you?”

Matthew Paul Turner, The Coffeehouse Gospel

CLICK HERE to buy the book (under $10)

Hurrican Rita Update

NOT AGAIN...Just when the Gulf Coast thought it was safe to come out and play... Here comes Rita.
Hurricane Rita is Category 4 right now, which is a pretty major Hurricane.
It looks like it's headed for Houston. Our fourth team from Santa Rosa looks like it may be stranded in New Orleans because pretty much every flight from down south goes through Houston.

There are also tons of people getting stuck in Houston. Lizanne is a blogger that frequents this site and she wrote asking for prayer. Lizanne and her husband are church planters in the Houston area. Because of gridlock, and outrageous gas prices her family, and thousands of other families are being forced to hunker down and ride out the storm. Pray with me for those that are forced to stay in those areas...

UPDATE 9-27-05

Lizanne's electricity and internet are back up so she was able to let us know that her family is safe. They got lot's of wind but no damage to their home. She says that the kids are enjoying time away from school!!! Thanks for your prayers.



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I've finally put together the pictures and a little bit of the video that we got during the trip to Louisiana and Mississippi. It was way too much for culture driven life so I put together a site for the pictures and the stories that came out of my recent relief mission to the gulf coast. Please take a minute to check it out.


words cannot describe...

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Words cannot describe the destruction I've seen in the past few days. I'm heading home, in the Houston airport waiting for a connecting flight. I'm tired. I'm looking forward to being home. I can't wait to kiss my wife, and my boys. Hopefully I'll get to sleep in a little bit. After I've had a day or two to decompress I'll post a day by day description of my trip to Louisiana and Mississippi. I've got tons of pictures and a bit of video too.
Stay tuned...



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Tuesday afternoon September 6th, I will be joining a team that will be heading to Louisiana to help with the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts. We will be taking a 32 foot motorhome that will be packed with food, water, diapers, clothing, and other supplies. This motorhome has been donated to help set up a base for relief operations.

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Once we have set up a base for hurricane relief operations other teams will follow in the months ahead to help with the ongoing effort. I have to go. I’ve gotta pack. I’m sure I’ll have stories and pictures to share when I get back.

Please pray for us.

If you would like to help:

CLICK HERE to support our team, look for the “Donate” button (must have Paypal account), or mail your donation to:

Hope Chapel Santa Rosa
4983 Sonoma Highway STE. D
Santa Rosa, CA 95409 USA
(write: “UGO4GOD-Hurricane Relief” in the memo area of the check)

While we're gone...
CLICK HERE to check the “UGO4GOD blog” for updates from our team.

grace and peace, jimmy