Family

45 Things

Here’s 45 things you might not know about me…

  1. I was born and raised in San Mateo, CA, just 20 miles south of San Francisco.
  2. I trusted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior in August ’80 at Camp Sugar Pine in Oakhurst, CA.
  3. My first official job was at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in San Mateo.
  4. My first car was a ’67 Volkswagen Bug. Deep red with a sun roof.
  5. I was a DJ at KCSB and KGFT while in college at UC Santa Barbara.
  6. I traveled to the Soviet Union during the summers of ’86 & ’87, in the era of communism.
  7. I was interrogated by the KGB twice, while traveling in the Soviet Union.
  8. I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Communication Studies.
  9. I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ after graduating from college and served with them for 4 years.
  10. I met Jennifer while serving with Campus Crusade for Christ at Sacramento State.
  11. I love to dance!
  12. I was in five productions of the Living Christmas Tree at First Baptist Church San Mateo.
  13. I sang the National Anthem at the Houston Astrodome.
  14. I have been part of the live studio audience for Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Conan (click Conan link to see me).
  15. I was the first customer at In n Out Burger in Folsom when it opened in January 2009.
  16. I graduated from Western Seminary with Honors in 2003.
  17. I love baseball!
  18. My favorite National League team is the San Francisco Giants.
  19. My favorite American League team is the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem.
  20. My favorite color is blue.
  21. I wish Seinfeld was still on the air.
  22. My uncle, Billy Hardwick, was a professional bowler and Bowler of the Year in ’65 & ’66.
  23. My middle name in Allen. It was also my grandfather’s middle name.
  24. I love Mexican food.
  25. My weakness is ice cream!
  26. My favorite ice cream is Roselani Kona Mud Pie (only available in Hawaii).
  27. My ’93 Honda Accord has 245,000 miles on it.
  28. I was a traveling sales rep for DaySpring Cards, a subsidiary of Hallmark.
  29. When I need a good laugh, I watch I Love Lucy!
  30. Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer. I went to college to pursue a career in broadcasting.
  31. My favorite concert of all time was the Amy Grant Unguarded tour at the Santa Barbara Amphitheater.
  32. My favorite section of the Bible is John 13-17, known as the Upper Room Discourse.
  33. My favorite book of the Bible is Romans.
  34. My son Zachary’s name is derived from Zechariah, which means “God remembered,” as we were told by the doctors that we would never be able to have children.
  35. The first president I voted for was Ronald Reagan in ’84. Reagan won every state but Minnesota that year.
  36. I was an early adopter of Twitter, opening my account December 19, 2007. I have “tweeted” almost 3,000 times since then.
  37. I love reading the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis to my son Zach.
  38. My favorite vacation spot is Hawaii! I’ve spent two summers, my sabbatical and celebrated my honeymoon there.
  39. I have a file of encouraging notes and letters I’ve received over the years. I read them when I need a little perspective or encouragement.
  40. I love my wife’s blackberry pie!
  41. I love to BBQ!
  42. I met the entire cast of Leave it to Beaver back in the 1980’s.
  43. I enjoy playing racquetball and golf.
  44. I want to write a book someday.
  45. I love Disneyland!

The goal of this post is to build bridges of commonality and interests. So please take a minute and tell me something unique about you!

God’s Love Letter

You may not know me, but I know everything about you…Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up…Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways…Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered…Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image…Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being…Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring…Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived…Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation…Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book…Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live…Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made…Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother’s womb…Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born…Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me…John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love…1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you…1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father…1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could…Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect Father…Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand…James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs…Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope…Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love…Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore…Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing…Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you…Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession…Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul…Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things…Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me…Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart…Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires…Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine…Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager…2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles…2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you…Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart…Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes…Revelation 21:3-4
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth…Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus…John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed…John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being…Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you…Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins…2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled…2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you…1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love…Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me…1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again…Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen…Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father…Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is…Will you be my child?…John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you…Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad
Almighty God
www.fathersloveletter.com

Lessons I’ve Learned from Disneyland

For the last three years I have had the privilege of being an annual pass holder at Disneyland! Being that we only live eight miles from the Happiest Place on Earth, we have enjoyed countless days laughing, riding roller coasters, making memories, and visiting with friends.

This year we’re going to let our passes lapse and probably won’t renew for a while. So with our passes expiring, I did something I’ve never done before, I went to Disneyland by myself for one last visit before they did. I went to pray, dream and recount the incredible memories I have of this place. And in the process, I wrote down some of the things I learned from Disneyland that relate to church and leadership.

So, in no specific order, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from Disneyland…

  1. Pay attention to the details – Disneyland is in the details! From hidden Mickey’s to trimmed trees in unique shapes and sizes, Disneyland pays attention to the little things, which serve to enhance the overall experience of their guests. Scripture tells us that God even knows the very number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30) and throughout the Bible, God is concerned about the details. The details communicate care, creativity, and create memorable experiences for people.
  2. Create a hospitable environment – Disneyland is all about hospitality! They’re genuinely happy to have you as their guest and go out of their way to make you feel welcomed and valued. They make your experience fun and engage their guests in a variety of creative ways. They truly live out the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”
  3. Never stop innovating – Disneyland was way before it’s time when it first opened in 1955. However, they have never stopped imagineering. In my three years as a season pass holder, Disney has done a variety of big projects to improve their parks. From adding a whole new land in California Adventure, to introducing the World of Color and 3-D to Star Tours, they live out their motto of, “moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…..And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
  4. Listen to your guests – You think by this point Disney knows all they need to know about running a theme park, but they are constantly seeking to gather information from their guests, seeking to discover more about their interests, needs and preferences. In addition, cast members are also very careful to listen to casual conversations. Over the years, a server or guest services member might catch that we’re celebrating an anniversary or birthday and I can’t tell you how many times they have done something special for us without any solicitation or mention. These little touches go a long way to create special memories for families and guests alike.
  5. Creatively tell the story – Disney tells amazing stories and their stories take you places you can’t otherwise go while engaging the senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch! Their stories capture our hearts and imagination and I think the church can learn a lot from them about telling the story of God to a whole new generation.

There truly is something special about Disneyland! And while our passes may be expiring, I know there are still many memories to be made and lessons to be learned from this incredible land of adventure, fantasy and dreams.

A Biblical Perspective on Marriage

In Genesis 1:26-28, God tells us the story of his design and purpose for humanity when he says,

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

As humans, we are made in his image and likeness of God and as such we are to reflect Him to one another. In Genesis 1:26-28, God tells us something about his design and purpose for marriage, and since God is the designer of marriage, it’s important that we look at what he has to say on the subject.

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to a number of engaged and seriously dating couples on the biblical perspective of marriage. Based on the book, Seriously Dating & Engaged by Roger & Becky Tirabassi, we discussed the type of partner that God wants to be to one another in the context marriage.

Here is a brief review of all six of those qualities we discussed. God desires us to be…

  1. A Perfect Partner – From the creation account, we can see that it has been God’s design that a man and woman be brought together such that they complement one another. (Genesis 2:20-23)
  2. A Permanent Partner – There are no throw away marriages! Marriage is a sacred covenant and it’s to be formed for the purposes of which, God the Divine Author, has ordained as well as blessed. (Matthew 19:4-6)
  3. A Dependent Partner – In marriage, our thoughts need to be for each other, rather than ourselves. Our plans mutual, our joys and sorrows shared. (1 Corinthians 11:11-12)
  4. A Loving/Respectful Partner – The husband is to love his wife. The wife is to respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33)
  5. A Sacrificial Partner – Marriage is to be a mutually submissive relationship in which the man and woman reflect the image of God to one another. (Ephesians 5:21-23)
  6. An Equally Yoked Partner – In marriage a couple needs to be going the same direction, with the same set of ideals, beliefs and values. A common faith needs to be foundational. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

We can’t take our cues on marriage from our culture. We need to take our cues from God, who created this sacred covenant and blessed it. If you’re not convinced yet, perhaps this spoken word might hit home…

5 Languages of Apology

Today, Jennifer and I got to go hear Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, speak at a Pastor’s Forum sponsored by the Center for Individual Family Therapy. Jennifer and I greatly benefited from Dr. Chapman’s writing early in our marriage and The 5 Love Languages is something that I have continued to teach and use as a tool in helping couples experience and express love.

Today, Dr. Chapman spoke about Two Essentials for Successful Marriage, which he stated are: 1) expressing love and appreciation;  and 2) dealing effectively with our failures. In the first half of his message he talked about the 5 love languages. But in the later half, he introduced the 5 languages of an apology, we he expressed we need to know in order to deal effectively with our failures in the context of marriage. In unpacking this concept, Chapman talked about how each person has different ideas about what an apology is and how to give an apology! In a nutshell, he expressed that just as people have a love language, people also have an apology language.

Chapman suggests that any of these apologies, which are listed below, could stand on their own, if they are spoken in the right language of the hearer. And while that’s probably true, I personally think that all five languages of an apology need to be part of the anatomy of a complete and genuine apology, especially if the offense is great.

Here are the 5 languages of an apology. Have a look and tell me what you think. What do you want to hear when someone apologizes to you?

  1. Express Regret: Say, “I’m sorry that I…(be specific)”
  2. Accept Responsibility: Say, “I was wrong! I shouldn’t have done that!”
  3. Make Restitution: Ask, “What can I do to make this right?”
  4. Genuinely Repent: Say, “I don’t want this to keep happening!”
  5. Request Forgiveness: Ask, “Will you please forgive me?”

You can also discover your love language by taking this free online assessment.

43 Things I Love About Jennifer

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share 43 things I love about my wife Jennifer…

1. Her love for God.
2. Her smile.
3. Her gentle spirit.
4. Her tireless devotion to our family.
5. Her love for God’s Word.
6. Her faithful prayers for me and our family.
7. Her cooking!
8. Her frugal ways.
9. Her love for baseball.
10. Her optimism.
11. Her good looks.
12. Her incredible ability to lovingly keep me in line.
13. Her love for our son Zach.
14. Her love for the San Francisco Giants.
15. Her commitment to help build a ManCave in our home.
16. Her love for Trader Joes.
17. Her growing passion for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
18. Her brown eyes.
19. Her picture perfect teeth.
20. Her stubborn personality.
21. Her sense of humor.
22. Her loyalty to others.
23. Her willingness to be on God’s adventure with me.
24. Her love of nature.
25. Her passion to read.
26. Her selflessness.
27. Her thoughtfulness.
28. Her willingness to come alongside a friend in need.
29. Her sacrificial ways.
30. Her family.
31. Our friendship.
32. Our ability to laugh at each other.
33. That she can speak to me without saying a word.
34. That she makes our house a home.
35. That she listen to my rants without judging me.
36. That she loves the simple things of life.
37. That she isn’t pretentious. What you see is what you get.
38. Her hugs & kisses!
39. Her hospitality.
40. That she never talks bad about others.
41. That she said “yes” to me 19 years ago.
42. That she still sends chills down my spine.
43. That she is my one true love.

Yep, that’s one thing I love for every year of her life. I love you sweetie! I am truly blessed to be able to share life’s journey with you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Recalling God’s Faithfulness

Tomorrow marks our three year anniversary in Southern California! Yes, three years ago, on February 13, we closed on a new home and moved in the last of our boxes and furniture just seconds before a torrential down pour. There are so many crazy God stories that got us to that eventful day. We sold our home in El Dorado Hills in a down economy, just days after Christmas! We managed to have our home in Cypress remodeled during the escrow process. And Jennifer successfully navigated a drive down the I-5 in the pouring rain all by herself with Zach, Maggie, three goldfish and our hamster Minnie in tow.

Three years later, our family looks a little different. Zach is now in 4th grade. And two of our three goldfish, Humu and Nuku (named after the state fish of Hawaii) are still amazingly with us. However, Maggie, our sweet companion of 14 years, along with our hamster Minnie and one of our goldfish have passed on.

We have enjoyed all that SoCal living brings! After all, we only live 8 miles from Disneyland and 6 miles from the beach. However, amidst all the fun we’ve had taking in the sights and sounds of Southern California, we’ve learned some incredible things about God, ourselves and life. Lessons that we probably wouldn’t have learned, unless we were willing to follow the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit’s work in our life.

While we’ve certainly experienced some of the challenges that come with uprooting and leaving the proximity of family and friends, we’re grateful for the lessons we’ve learned. Lessons in courage, contentment, community and closure. Throughout the Scriptures, God invites his people to remember. In remembering, I see just how faithful God has been, which in turn gives me faith to depend on him in the present and trust him for the future.

I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
– Philippians 1:6, NLT

My Son is a Tween!

According to About.com a tween is a child between the ages of 9 and 12. When you think about it, tweens are no longer children, but they’re not quite teenagers. They’re not yet in the midst of adolescence, but approaching puberty, with increasing responsibilities and exposure to peer pressure and the like! And the thing is, I have one, and it scares me! Especially as I watch my little boy make dramatic changes in his lifestyle and conversations!

Perhaps it caught me off guard, because I don’t think I’m ready to have “the talk” with my little boy, who’s not quite so little anymore. I already miss the boy, who once woke up with the sunrise, and who now needs to be motivated to get up and get going in the morning. Yet the real hit came the other night, when Zach told us that he didn’t want his “beautiful music” played as he falls asleep anymore. What!?! Was the long-standing musical serenade of Twila Paris’ Bedtime Prayers & Lullabies really coming to an end after 10 years of peaceful worship? This couldn’t be! How could it be? Where did the last 10 years go?

Yep, the reality is, I have a tween! And like it or not, I need to face it! Deal with it! Get over it! And prepare for this new season of parenting! So I guess I better catch up on some reading and figure this one out. Amazon gift cards and prayers are appreciated!

Say Wait?

They say “good things come to those who wait,” but frankly I don’t want to wait. Whether it’s some new toy, saving up to buy a new car, or working through a difficult situation, I want immediate resolve. And in an age of instant credit and microwave dinners, it makes it difficult to practice this discipline.

In Acts 1 the apostles were instructed by Jesus not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the Holy Spirit, which they heard Jesus speak of. In that culture it was a lot easier to wait, so this is what the apostles did. The outcome was phenomenal. A great thing happened in that the Holy Spirit came as promised. The result was that Peter was able to speak boldly about the things of God, and church grew by three thousand people that day.

I have to confess that waiting on God is hard. For years my wife Jennifer and I struggled with wanting a child and not being able to conceive. I was bitter toward God for not answering our prayers and giving us the desire of our hearts. However, I kept pursuing the things of God while I continued to wait. Then one day after a seminary class, I came home and Jennifer exclaimed “I’m pregnant!”  Ten years later we still rejoice over God’s blessing, our son Zachary.

Good things do come to those who wait.

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