Category Archives: Personal

Book I Read in 2013

My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern BelieverKnowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual KnowledgeInsurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, DivineEmerging Prophet: Kierkegaard and the Postmodern People of God
The Skeptical Believer: Telling Stories to Your Inner AtheistChristology and ScienceThe Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond BeliefThe Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction
Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life EvangelismThe Open SecretHolding Your Family Together: 5 Simple Steps to Help Bring Your Family Closer to God and Each OtherAnatheism: Returning to God After God
The Battle of Corrin (Legends of Dune, #3)The Machine Crusade (Legends of Dune, #2)Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America (Gospel & Our Culture)The Fault in Our Stars
To Live as Francis Lived: A Guide For Secular FranciscansA Year of Biblical WomanhoodThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessWhen "Spiritual but Not Religious" Is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church
The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy, and FaithThe Bible, Christianity, & HomosexualityI Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough"The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in CommunityPastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

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I’ve got this thing about embarrassing comedy

I am unable to watch people embarrass themselves, even in purposeful comic situations. The American version of the television show “The Office” was so painful for me to watch. Every time Steve Carell’s character did something embarrassing, which was all the time, I turned away. I couldn’t look at the screen. It was like if I didn’t look at the screen my I saved him from the shame that he was putting himself through.

I’ve done this in lectures too. In school, if there was a question that was particularly ridiculous, I couldn’t look at the person asking or the teacher. I had to avert my eyes. It was too painful to watch.

Does anyone else do this?  Why? Are you able to name what is happening inside you when this happens?

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Cute Aggression

I was recently watching a Youtube channel called Soul Pancake and came across this…


What I found so interesting is that people are starting to look into that feeling people get when we see a baby who is so cute that you want to bite his/her face. I know that I really have this with my two children and really tiny babies.  My Aunt Lupe, well, let’s say it’s an art for her. She is a connoisseur of such a feeling, indulging many different layers and textures as if it where a transcendent experience.

Until now, I have have never heard an English word for this feeling. The word given is called, “Cute Aggression.”  I am glad that there is now a word in English for this feeling.  In Spanish it’s called “nervio.”  In Chamorro it’s called “magodai.” I think we can say that the U.S. is playing catch up here.

I wonder why, until now, there has been no English word for this.  Is it cultural? Are Latinos and Chamorro more uninhibited than those from the United States?  What is going on here?

It would be fun to do some research on this.



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Steps to Cleaning a Coffee Maker (A Story of Failure)

I was preparing coffee for tomorrow morning and I realized that the buttons were sticking. I couldn’t set the automatic coffee maker.

I decided to try and clean them. This turned out to be a big mistake.

Here is what I did.

Step 1:  Removed Buttons from machine.  Cleaned thoroughly.


Step 2: Try and put button back on machine and realize that I can’t do it.

Step 3: Panic.

Step 4: Plug machine back in and realize that I can’t stand the blinking “12:00” copy

Step 4: Fix Blinking light problem by placing a piece of duck-tape over it.

photo copy 2

Step 5: Drink Beer

photo copy 3Yes, this really did happen.

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The Side Look

Many of you know that I am a twin.  Often, people ask questions that are well intentioned but not well thought out.  Questions like, “What’s it like being a twin?”  I would respond, “I don’t know, what’s it like not being a twin?”  This response is intended to expose that I don’t know what’s it’s like because I have nothing to compare it to.

There is also something that I have gotten used to and learned to easily recognize.  It’s “the side look.”  This is the look that someone gives me because they think they know me, but aren’t quit sure.  So, they pass buy me to get a closer look giving me “the side look.”  Another variation of the look is that people smile and realize that the blank stare in my eyes does not recognize them as a friend, because, well, their not. They know my brother not me. The smile then turns to confusion.

Often people don’t believe that I’m a twin. After I tell them, they act as if I’m joking, dismissing my comments and continuing with the place we met before, or picking up where a conversation left off.  For instance, a long time ago, I went to my brother’s church and the head pastor wanted to to talk to me about church business in the parking lot.  I told him that I was looking for Jeremy and he didn’t quit get that I wasn’t joking with him.

Some would think that I would get mad that people get me confused with my brother.  They think that I would get mad that they called me the wrong name. But, really, it’s never bothered me. It’s never been a detriment to my personal identity because there is another guy on this planet that looks exactly like me. In fact, he’s one of the best people I know.  I am honored to get confused for him.

I’ve learned over the years that when I am getting “the side look” to just introduce myself and be prepared to say things like, “No I’m really not joking. Yes, we really do look and sound alike” and, “I don’t know what’s it like not being a twin?”

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The Spiritual Discipline of Parenting: Children in Church

I have a friend over at Caught By Christ who wrote a good article on having your kids in the pews.  I commend this article to you and have some additional reflections.

I am a big believer of children being in church. This is shocking I know. But, I am also very cognizant of when my children are being very loud in worship.  Other children could be just as loud as mine and I don’t notice it very much. But, if it’s my children, I start trying to get my wife’s attention. After I’ve gotten it I give her the look to have her try and calm them down. I understand why people with children don’t take their kids to worship. Their noise level may jump exponentially for minor reasons.

As I think about this I have to remind myself that worship is not all about me and my children.  This is my selfish desire to think that somehow my children will have such an impact on what is going on in worship, that it will somehow throw off what God is doing.  It seems to me that this might turn out to be a good spiritual discipline.  By having my children being formed in church I am giving them access them to God’s Word and Sacrament, which many don’t have. When they start to make noise and I want them to go to the nursery, I must stop and remember I am upholding my baptismal promises for them, they have to be there.  I am taking them to worship and it’s not about me or my children. Worship is a messy event.  When my children are loud I have to let go and realize that my children, or I, have not become the center of attention.  So here is the spiritual discipline: take your children to church and when they are noisy remember that this worship is centered on God, people won’t focus on you, and rely once again on God. People are generally very kind to parents with children.

Live with the messiness of worship, loud children and all.  It helps me to remember that I and my children are not the center of the universe, even though it could feel that way when their fighting over a hymnal.


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On Waiting

For one of the first times in my life I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Since I was twenty I knew that I wanted to be a pastor. I have known each step I needed to take in order to arrive at this calling has taken years to accomplish.

This path has ended and I now arrive at a fork in the road. Now I wait. Which path I take is mostly not determined by me. I don’t have any control over whether a congregation wants to interview me. I must be invited to interview with a congregation. So, I wait at the fork in the road.

Waiting isn’t easy. It isn’t easy not knowing the next step in my life. And in this waiting I have a bunch of conflicting questions and emotions. Am I going to be called? When is this going to happen? Will it be the right fit? Will my family like it there? I am excited about embarking on a new journey, but also sad that I am leaving my family in San Diego and a wonderful congregation.  All the questions begin to morph into one ultimate question.  Has God brought me this far to abandon me at the fork in the road?  And when I ask this question I immediately know that no is the answer. God does not abandon us.  God has never abandoned us.

This leads me to thinking about Advent. This is the season in our church calender to wait. We wait for Christmas; to remember that Jesus is the Word made flesh that God dwelt among us. It’s during Advent the church especially prays,  “Come Lord Jesus.” We look forward to remembering the birth of Jesus and we also look forward to when Jesus will come again and finish establishing the Kingdom that will have no end. We remember the both now and not yet of the Kingdom of God. It’s during Advent we remember that God didn’t abandon us, but became us.

We all wait for something.  In fact we all spend a lot of time waiting. What happens if we turn waiting into a spiritual discipline? What would happen if during times of waiting we were reminded that God always keeps God’s promises? We can’t do anything about waiting. Nevertheless, while we wait, we could practice being very present in whatever moment we find ourselves. Henri Nouwen once wrote, “For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place.”  Waiting is like a desert. I like this quote because it’s the way I feel right now waiting for a call. But I know that it’s in this place of waiting that I can be fully present to God and to others.  I can be fully present because there is nothing that I can do to hasten the object of my waiting.  I can only wait and see the beauty a desert can bestow.

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Who Holds Our Faith?

I have been thinking a lot about people who do not have the capacity to understand their faith. I think of infants who have not yet developed and the elderly whose brains have started to decay because of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. We baptize the infant and commune the elderly even though their is no recognizable sign that they understand the sacrament that now resides in their bodies unifies them with Christ.

So many times I have visited the elderly who are shells of what they used to be. I know that their brains and bodies are shutting down. Some don’t recognize the wine and bread before them. They relive a conversation with a relative or speak nonsense while we pray together. Sometimes there is a glimmer of recognition when praying the Lord’s Prayer, they repeat it with me and then go back into their own cognitive record skipping, sometimes there is not.

So I’ve been thinking about how my faith is really not held by me. We are too fragile to think that we are capable of being constantly cognizant of being Christ’s Body. Our faith is really held collectively as the body of Christ and therefore God. I wrote in a sermon I gave on the tenth anniversary of 9-11 that I knew that for some people forgiveness is not possible at this point, but that the beauty of community was that when one person in church could not forgive the person sitting next to them was able to. I also wrote that we pray until we ourselves are transformed by the Body of Christ or should I say being conformed to the image of Christ. So when we baptize, commune, or pray with and for people, we as Christ’s Body are holding their faith. We hold their faith because they are me and I am them. The body cannot be separated.

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