Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions in Review

It is my tradition (reflected in this blog) to create my New Year's Resolutions for the year when the year is completed that way I can ensure success. So without further ado... I give you my resolutions for year 2008.

X Get up at 4AM to watch the Superbowl from a foreign country (the beer and Israeli style Doritos are not recommended at this time of day).
X Travel to Egypt, see the pyramids, ride in an Egyptian taxi in Cairo
X Celebrate Palm Sunday in Jerusalem with thousands of Christians from all over the world.
X Have an "Arab-Style" BBQ outside the walls of Jerusalem with friends on Easter Day.
X Travel to Greece, walk the streets of ancient Corinth, sit with my kids on "Mars Hill" while staring at the ancient Temples, stay up all night with my son who got food poisoning from the lovely Athenian Buffet, and dream of returning someday with just my wife.
X Baptize my son in the Jordan River at the exact location that Jesus was baptized.
X Eat fish from the Sea of Galilee on the exact location where Jesus ate Galilean fish.
X Arrange a real archaeological dig for my wife and son in the ancient city of Ashkelon.
X Enjoy Arab coffee with friends in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
X Receive all "A's" from the same University that Albert Einstein studied at in Israel.
X Fly from London to Seattle without getting up so that I could hold my sleeping one year old baby for the majority of the flight.
X Return to America and try to bring the principles of simple living back with me to the simplistic culture of Orange County, California.
X Sleep through the night with uninterrupted sleep (this of course is now ruined with 4 am shifts at the new job).
X Use all of my education and experience to get a job as a supervisor at a local Starbucks coffee shop.
X Begin a "missional" church with an entirely different emphasis on the structure. (It promises slow growth, no prestige, and difficult discipleship).
X Enjoy the time with my three awesome boys and beautiful wife.

So that pretty much sums it up for 2008. I can't wait to see what my resolutions for 2009 will end up being.

Monday, December 29, 2008

While the Nations Rage

(This photo is from my campus at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In many ways I wish I were still there but I do not think it is a good time to bring that up with my wife).

We left our home in Israel several months ago to re-enter life in the comfortable and safe neighborhoods of Orange County. When we left we knew our friends who remained in Israel would one day see what is currently taking place in Gaza. Our thoughts go out to our friends as well as the people trapped inside of the Gaza strip and the Israeli soldiers who will likely have to enter those streets under orders from their government.

In times like these it is easy for people to give what they feel are all of the easy answers to this conflict but anyone who has spent time in the Middle East knows, nothing is as simple as "Western" thinkers want to believe they are.
The problem in Gaza is that 3 years ago the Israelis evacuated the region and handed full control to the Palestinian Authorities. In the summer of 2007, Hamas (a Palestinian faction) forcefully took over the leadership of Gaza through a civil war with Fatah (the Palestinian government legally in control). Since that time, Hamas has repeatedly launched rockets indiscriminately into Israel in an attempt to provoke the Israeli government. It is clear that Hamas is not interested in peace with Israel and actually wants what is currently happening. They know that when Israel finally responds like they are responding this week, the world will become sympathetic to the cause of Hamas and public opinion will go against Israel (and America just for fun).
In this case, I do not blame Israel for responding to this situation. With that said, I do blame Israel for provoking the Palestinians with their continued expansion of Settlements into the West Bank and land that has been promised to the Palestinians. Their treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank only hurts their cause when they rightfully defend themselves against the rocket attacks from Gaza. (See what I mean when I say it is complicated).

What is the answer? The truth is that in the Middle East, both cultures in this conflict believe in justice as a fundamental guiding principle. This means that as long as you have hurt someone in my family, I cannot rest until I avenge that death. Since both sides believe this and have it deeply ingrained into their cultural make-up, the only thing that can change all of this is for one side to lay down arms, and forgive at all costs.

I think that someone from this culture once said, "turn the other cheek", and "bless when others curse". He also said "Blessed are the peacemakers". It is not that Jesus was just saying some nice sayings that make good memory verses, it is that he understood and lived in the Eastern culture where Justice takes precedence over mercy. He understood that the only way to peace is through unbelievably radical forgiveness and reliance on God's justice over man's. This is true in a conflict like the one in Israel and it is true in our daily interactions with others who may slander, gossip, or hurt us in other ways. An "eye for an eye" is more logical and pleasurable, but it adds to a never ending cycle. Now, as the whole world once again watches this conflict and when Western leaders will offer their idiotic solutions, let us remember just how radical it was for God to become man and walk with us in order to show us the ways of peace.

I now leave you with the words from a Rich Mullins song (The Nations Rage)
Why do the nations rage?
Why do they plot and scheme?
Their bullets can't stop the prayers we pray
In the name of the Prince of Peace
We walk in faith and remember long ago
How they killed Him and then how on the third day He arose
Things may look bad and things may look grim
But all these things must pass except the things that are of Him

Where are the nails that pierced His hands?
The nails have turned to rust
But behold the Man
He is risen
And He reigns
In the hearts of the children
Rising up in His name
Where are the thorns that drew His blood?
The thorns have turned to dust
But not so the love
He has given, it remains
In the hearts of the children
Who will love while the nations rage

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I wish you all a Merry Christmas. I hope that you can see this season for what it is. Take some time to relax and reflect on this moment in history that changed the world. Even if you do not believe in the story of Christmas, your world has been changed by this man Jesus Christ and that is a fact that cannot be denied. For those who do believe, the challenge is to not get caught up in buying too many gifts and rushing around so much that you don't even remember the fact that God came to earth. In the words of one song, his coming to earth means that "God was in us, God is for us, and God is with us". That is the most amazing thing of all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cold Nights Just Got Better

Every once in a while someone comes up with a great idea... telephones, flushing toilets, scotch tape, and now...


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Difference Between Moms and Dads

A few days ago my wife went out for the night and left me at home to complete all of the normal family routines alone. To demonstrate the differences between how I go about the normal routine and how my wife does I thought I would share our checklists.

1. Feed kids dinner.
My Wife- Use the available ingredients in the house to make a healthy meal while spending less money and preventing waste.
Me- Drive to Little Caesars for Pizza for two of the boys and stop at Taco Bell for the 3rd.

2. Get kids ready for bed.
My wife- Methodically get each kid into the bath/ shower and into pajamas.
Me- They smell okay and the marker lines all over the baby's face look like they will come out by using some "baby wipes" so we can forget the baths. I put the youngest in pajamas, the middle son likes going without clothes, and the oldest sleeps in his clothes so all is good here as well.

3. Spend quality time with them before bed.
My Wife- Read stories to them, talk about their day, and discuss what they will do tomorrow.
Me- Turn on the TV to check the score of the Laker game and then just go ahead and watch the rest of the game with the baby while the other two are off playing in their rooms.

4. Get them to bed on time.
My Wife- Pray with them and turn off lights at 7:30 PM.
Me- Pray with the boys, put one in his crib around 7:30, one goes into my bed around 8:00PM because he says he sleeps better in there, and the oldest I leave in his room with his lights on because he wants to stay up reading (at least that is good for his brain).

5. Misellanious-
My Wife- Make sure all of the boys completed homework, pack their school bags for the next day, make lunches, and set out clothes for the morning.
Me- I forgot to check homework and therefore the older ones both had no homework completed for the next day, why would I need to pack school bags, I didn't realize we fed them lunch, how could I possibly know what they would want to wear the next day?

This morning I had the rare opportunity of being home with the family while they did the morning routine so I took care of all of the morning details. In order of importance... I made coffee, changed the baby's diaper, ate breakfast with the older boys, decided I should probably get clothes back onto the baby, and informed the boys that we would be leaving for school in 10 minutes so they needed to brush their teeth and put on clothes.
My wife then came downstairs, informed me that things run much more effiiciently in the morning without me, made lunches for the boys, checked to make sure they had all the school work they needed, made sure they actually put on their clothes and brushed their teeth, and kicked us out the door so we would be on time for school.... but without me she wouldn't have fresh brewed coffee.