Monday, October 30, 2017

4 reasons to take your kids camping

Since I was a little boy, I can remember loving being outside. I remember going camping with my dad on the weekend or during our summer break. He would take us on these great adventures to all these different places. Camping did it only happened with my dad. Coming from a divorced home my mom would also take us camping. It was a little less rugged but still great adventures. She would take me fishing and to Yosemite.

Now that I'm a dad I've longed to take my children, to help them experience some of the same great things that I experienced when I was younger. To be honest I kind of avoided camping with them for years. I struggled with how to get all the gear, when to make the time and even questioned if I could really do it. It was a small voice in the back of my mind, it kept telling me: "you'll never accomplish this with them. They're going to hate it! "

A couple months ago I told that small voice to "shut up!" We went to REI bought a tent, started gathering up some other gear on craigslist. After nights of looking at locations I finally made our first reservation for a camping trip.

I'm actually writing that sitting on the beach watching my kids play in the water. As I've been thinking for the last couple days here for reasons that I would encourage you to take your kids on a camping trip soon

1. Being in nature is good for your thinking in your mind

There has been significant research done on how important it is for people to be outside. The outdoor stimulate your thinking. It makes you become more creative. It get you out of the monotony of your daily life. There's research also that shows being by running water is even more helpful in this process. It spurs your creative thinking. There is nothing I enjoy more than being outdoors!

2. You can explore new areas

Once we set up our tent we went right down to the beach. The sun was gone but the pink/purple on the horizon was amazing. The girls ran down to the beach and started looking at the edge of the ocean. The tide pools were still submerged but the edges began to show. I had to pull them away from exploring that night, they would have stayed until the batteries in their headlamps died!

The next day we did more exploring! We climbed on rocks, explored the sea line, played in the waves and stared at stars in the night. We enjoyed God’s creation. We watched waves crash up against the rocks of Malibu. We looked for hidden sea caves and even saw different animals scurry around the camp.

3. It might bring back some memories from your childhood

Camping brought back some great memories for me. It reminded me of my dad. My passed away just over four months ago now. I thought about all the camping trips we went on together. I thought of some of the bad memories but for the most part they were good. I thought about my old sleeping bag and wondered what the tent looked like. Being outside created some room for me to search my mind for lost memories that I want to never loose.

4. You have the space to have great conversations

Our campsite had no cell service. Some people might consider this a curse while I look at it as a blessing. The lack of cell service meant the increase in time with my kids. Brian Berry once said "quality time happens in quantity time."
My kids asked some great questions. We talked about God, homeless people, fish, plants, creation and how far away the stars really are. If we had stayed home I can’t image those conversations taking place. If I had better cell service I might have been interrupted during dinner or another time and missed out on it.

As I look back at this first camping trip I’m hoping for many more. Might I encourage you to take your kids camping and create a list of your own?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Stranger in the Woods- Book Review

Title- The Stranger in the Woods
The extraordinary story of the last true hermit

Author- Michael Finkel

Publisher- Alfred A. Knopf

Pages- Audio Book

About 3 years ago I started listening to book on Audible. I tried to listen to one but struggled making it through. I like to hold the book, read the words and underline. I like to go back to have things to quote from and be able to re-read at a moments notice. I deleted the app and went back to paper.

The other day I was listening to the Craig Groeschel leadership podcast and heard Craig talking about listening to more leadership books. I figured I'd give it another try. My friend in the Bay Area had told me about Overdrive and being able to check out audiobooks from the local library. I logged in and started away.

The Stranger in the Woods is the first book I listened to the entire way. I would mainly listen while working out at the gym or walking. I couldn't stop listening in fact. Micheal does a great job at telling this true story of a man, Christopher Knight, who lived in the woods of Maine for 27 years alone. He had human contact twice and only spoke one word... Let that sit in.

The story goes through his life, how he lived, what he did and how he was captured. The story is fascinating. We start out by hearing of his arrest. Christopher would burglarize the cabins near North Pond and do his best to be unknown. He would only steal very little from a cabin in an attempt to make a person think they simply misplaced their batteries or left that steak at the grocery store on their departure.

Michael shares about how he lived in the Maine winters in just a tent. You can search Google to see his location and how he lived. Christopher was quite a meticulous man and very intentional in all he did. There is a line that goes something like this; "He is quite like us. In my conversation with Christopher he would talk about his plans to upgrade his tent and improve his life." I guess I didn't think that a person living in the woods would constantly be thinking about upgrading his tent.

Michael does a great job at learning from Christopher by visiting him in jail. I suppose he also did a great deal of research to help tell the entire story. I love the information he provides about hermits and others who have lived in solidarity. I was captivated by the book and have spoken with many others about it. I highly encourage you to listen to this book!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Listening to the Holy Spirit

Our church is currently studying the book of Acts. We've been in the first missionary journey of Barnabas and Paul. While I was preaching on the end of Chapter 12 and beginning of Chapter 13 I thought about how these men listened to the Holy Spirit as they were sent out to reach the entire world!

Listening to the Holy Spirit is a tough thing. We live in such a fast paced world with so many distractions that it doesn’t matter if you’re a brand new believer or a seasoned believer, it can be tough to hear to the Holy Spirit. Even if you've never been to church did you know the Holy Spirit wants to speak to you?

The church in Antioch gives us some encouragement about listening to the Lord. If we could talk with them, I think they would encourage us not to rush when the Spirit speaks. They might tell us how they were patient and stayed the course until the Holy Spirit spoke. The Antioch church would  also tell us to make sure there is unity when the Spirit speaks. There is no hint of division here in Acts 13; it is clear the leaders were unanimous because they all laid hands on the leaders to send them on the mission God called them to fulfill:
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:1-3
The church would also probably encourage us to live lives that are marked by worship, prayer and fasting. Worship is not simply singing songs but a lifestyle of praising God, and prayer is something we can partake in all the time. Fasting is also a discipline for those who follow Christ. When all these factors become a lifestyle, then we hear the voice of the Lord more clearly.

We often think that we need more training if we are going to tell others about Christ. But we don’t need more training, we need to spend more time worshipping our Lord. We need to deny our own inclinations and listen to what the Holy Spirit says to us. We need to reject distractions and increase our listening ears. We need to be surrounded with amazing people who encourage us to follow our Lord wholeheartedly. And we need people who will pray for us to take bold steps of faith.

You don’t have to go to seminary to tell someone that Jesus loves them. You don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Ministry to tell someone that God created them. All you have to do is have a willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit just like the men in the Antioch church did. It takes faithfulness in worship and a commitment to Christ for this to happen.

There is something special about Saul and Barnabas that we will see later in the book of Acts and let me tell you what that is: these men loved people in an extraordinary way. These men cared for people the way that Jesus cares for people. Ken Baugh once said: “One of the primary reasons that the early church took off is that Barnabas and Paul loved people the way that Jesus loved them, unconditionally and sacrificially.” These men knew lost people matter to God.

How have you slowed down to listen to the Holy Spirit lately?
How can you slow down this week to listen to the Lord?

Monday, October 09, 2017

7 Questions with Rob Hall

Rob Hall is a Christ follower, husband, father and pastor. Rob grew up in Hayward, CA (the East Bay) and currently lives in San Fransisco. Rob is married to Missy and they have three wonderful children who I've been able to know for almost their whole lives. Rob is the Lead Pastor at New North Church. Rob has a passion to see people who are far from God draw near to God by forming a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Rob and I met back in 2003 and started serving together in Henderson, NV in November 2004. Rob is one of the founding pastors of South Hills Church Community and actually hired me to be the Junior High Pastor there in 2004 (you should ask him about the picture I sent in with my resume). In 2012 I joined the staff of Central Peninsula Church where both served as Campus Pastors. Rob is one of my best friends in life. We've served the Lord together, laughed together, encouraged each other and traveled internationally together and through all that we still love each other! I'm so thankful that Rob took the time to answer these questions and I hope they help you in life and personal growth!

1. You’ve just started a new church in a city desperately in need of God. What do you find most exciting about this call from God?

The Bay Area is a crazy but wonderful place. As the center of the tech world, this is the place for innovation. In fact, every major company in the world has an office here. It's arguably the most strategic place in the world to do ministry. For me, I love being able to influence influencers. It’s also the least churched metro area in the country. For those reasons, God has us here.

2. Doing ministry in California is far from life in the Bible Belt. What do you find most inspiring about being a pastor in the Bay Area?

Everyday I am inspired by the beauty of the place and the beauty of the people I get to serve. The place-ocean, cities, trails, fishing, close to Napa and Tahoe, food, etc. This is home to world class everything. The people-diverse, smart, driven, successful, broken and lost. Love it all.

3. Headlines seem to be full with pastors who’s marriages are falling apart. What is one thing you do to keep your marriage strong and fresh? 

My wife and I have been married for 15 wonderful years. We’ve had lots of ups and downs, but we’ve been committed to several things: dates, counseling, and transparency. We love to date each other. We have both together and separate, seen Christian counselors. We are committed to living our lives as authentic and transparent as we can. Our church and our small group knows we are two imperfect people, trying our best to love God and love people.

4. About five years ago you decided to adopt your youngest son. When a couple comes to you asking advice about adoption what is one thing you would tell them?

Count ALL the costs. It is wonderful, but will take an emotional toll on you, your marriage and your family. Go in, eyes wide open. However, we believe God calls us to do HARD THINGS all the time and adoption is a calling. Not all Christians are called to adopt, but we are all called to play a part in the process (pray, give, support, etc.).

5. There are many men who don’t have a life outside their work and family. What is one hobby you enjoy doing and that fills you up?

I love, love, love, riding my motorcycle. It brings me great joy! But, I dropped it in an accident recently! Yikes. Thankfully I am ok but the bike is not. So, back to fishing I go!

6. How would you describe your current sports teams and your excitement or lack of excitement for them?  

What do I need to say? Championship rings speak for themselves! Giants-3, Warriors-2, and Niners-5! Boom!

7. If you could give your 20 year old self one piece of advice what would if be?

Learn how to pray earlier and actually pray lots more.

Make sure to follow Rob on Twitter, Instagram and go check out New North next time you're in the Bay Area!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

A pastors thought's on Las Vegas

November 2004 I put San Diego in my rear view mirror and headed for Las Vegas. I was an engaged young man who would be married in six weeks to the love of my life. We bought our first home in Vegas. God gave us two children while we served in Las Vegas. I was ordained into ministry at South Hills Church Community and cut my teeth as a young pastor. After eight years of ministry God called us back to California but my heart stayed with so many people who touched my life.

October 1, 2017 I woke up to see what I never expected. My wife said: "Did you hear there was a shooting in Vegas?" I grabbed my phone and already had text messages. One message said: "Drew Bodillo’s sister, Karessa has been shot at Vegas event. Per Ric Royce. I’ll keep you updated."

I was shocked...

I jumped on Facebook to make sure our friends were ok. I read stories of people who had been at the concert and their account. There initial comments of hearing gun fire and seeing what they've seen rocked me. I started texting friends making sure they were ok. I barely read my Bible but more prayed and scrolled and texted that morning.

As I've talked with friends and pastors who are still in Vegas I am still in shock at what occurred. I can't imagine what the scene must have been like. My intention here is not to discuss that scene but to share about the Vegas I know, the Vegas that is gathering around the community to love their neighbor. The Vegas that is seeking God during a tough time. The Vegas that is strong, caring and loves everyone!

If you look on Instagram or Facebook you will see that Vegas is united. People are praying together, people are giving, kids are writing thank you cards to first responders, churches are opening their doors, college students are buying blankets for people, lines are wrapped around buildings to give blood and Vegas is united.

I know there are dozens of ways you can help during this tough time. As you think about Vegas will you do one of the three things:
1) Give blood to help out
2) Donate to someone's "GoFund Me" account (this link directly helps Vegas)
3) Pray for Vegas

This weekend I'm praying that Vegas churches will be packed this weekend. I'm praying for believers to be ready to share their faith. I'm praying for families to find hope in a confusing time. I'm praying for pastors to be strong in this difficult time. I'm praying for the Holy Spirit to use what one man intended for evil to turn into good for the Kingdom of God. Will you join me in that prayer?