Turning 40

Forty years ago today I was born. Two years ago today my son, Benny was born. Yesterday and today.... we partied!

Last night Robin threw for me the best birthday party I have ever had! Seventy five of my closest friends and family joined us at the church for what was supposed to be a surprise party. Ended up not being a surprise, but that's a whole other story. It was great! So much fun and did I ever feel honored. Made turning 40 a whole lot sweeter.

Today, Benny and I celebrated together. So cool to be able to celebrate our birthdays together! I look forward to many years of traditions together! Man, has he changed over these two short years.




Robin shared with me a quote last night to live by.... "You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely." Yes!!

Here's to another 40. I'm ready.... I think.

Winter Youth Reflections

We have returned from another year at Winter Youth. I return very tired and very filled up. Tired because the lack of sleep and lack of nutritious food. Filled up because of what I saw God do in the lives of our students and staff. Filled up because of what God did in my life. It was an incredible four days!

Aaron Geist did a great job blogging while at the event. I encourage you to check out his thoughts.

The theme of the week was the Gospel. At first glance one may think, well what's so revolutionary about that? The Gospel is the good news of Jesus, the message that keeps us out of hell and gets us into heaven, and yet it is so much more. The Gospel is a way of life. It is a life that realizes that we need a Savior because we cannot save ourselves. A life that realizes that we are accepted just the way we are. A life that realizes that we win, because He won. Even as believers we tend to think that we must perform for God in order to receive His acceptance. That kind of living only leads to an overwhelming sense of failure.

As we understand the Gospel we come to understand that we don't engage in all the spiritual disciplines that we do (prayer, Bible reading, fasting, giving, etc.) to gain His acceptance. When we do, we fall into guilt, because we are going to fail. We must understand the why of all those disciplines. We engage them because He first engaged us. We live them out because He lived and died so that we might experience life and life to the full.

Throughout the week painter Scott Erickson was on stage painting as the speakers spoke. What came out of his work as He listened to God and depicted the the central theme of the message was simply amazing.

Thank you for those that prayed for us while we were at Winter Youth. God did tremendous things in each of us and I am confident that we will continue to do so as we continue to seek Him and understand that... He won...we won!

Go here to see all our pics.

Winter Youth

Today our high school ministry heads to Winter Youth Celebration. WYC is a large scale high school conference held at the Red Lion Inn in Portland, December 27-30. I'm excited about this year's theme...The Gospel. We will be taking a look at just what the Gospel is, and what it is not.

Presenters this year are Craig Gross, and Eric Knox. Music by Falling Up, and Something Like Silas, and the emcee is Dave the Horn Guy.

WYC is always a great time with students, great times of worship, and teaching, and just plain fun. I'm sure I will have much to report.

You can read my reflections on last year's WYC experience here.

Power of YouTube

Because Carson Williams did this to his house last year

he got this gig this year.

That is some serious holiday spirit!

What I Am Listening To

It's Christmas time and I love the music! This year my favorite is a disc I got for Christmas last year.... The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Dig That Crazy Christmas. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a little rockabilly!

May you have a blessed Christmas celebration!

Real. Life.

In recent days God has been showing me more and more the need for the church to respond to the needs of the poor. With over 300 references to the poor in Scripture, it is clear that they are close to the heart of God. Today was another step in my journey.

This morning Aaron and I visited the Real.Life. Exhibit at the headquarters of Northwest Medical Teams in Tigard. We spent an hour and a half experiencing their walk-through exhibit. It drew me in even closer to the heart of God. It was much to take in and even more to process.

In the exhibit we stepped into:
•A medical triage clinic at the New Orleans Convention Center after Hurricane Katrina
•A room with a 25-foot tsunami wave
•A Ugandan camp for people displaced by a rebel group that abducts children and forces them into their “army”
•An Albanian refugee camp housing Kosovar refugees who fled from ethnic cleansing
•A Mozambican village where HIV and AIDS has taken too many lives
•A Mexico garbage dump where garbage-pickers live and work
•A Romanian placement center for orphans and abandoned children
•A burn unit in a Moldovan children’s hospital

The purpose for our visit was to preview the exhibit, as we plan to take our students through it during our 30 Hour Famine in February. God had an even bigger purpose...we were changed.

If you are anywhere near the Portland, Oregon area you must experience this exhibit. It was originally a traveling exhibit. Now it is permanently housed at their headquarters. Everyone must see this.

Staff Dinner

Last Friday night was our church staff Christmas dinner. We, along with our spouses, met at The Ram, a beautiful restraunt right on the bank of the Willamette River. Such a good time. I feel so blessed to serve with such a great group of people. We are more than just a staff, we are friends, and good ones at that.

It was a great time of sharing stories of the great things God has done, as well as lots of goofiness, and a laughter, not to mention over eating!


I see a real future for Jack Baur.

Global Rich List

Last month I posted here about how rich we are. Now I know just how much. I am in the Top 0.99% of the richest people in the world! Find our how you rank at the Global Rich List. What an eye opener!

I'm the 59,805,858 richest person on earth!

Discover how rich you are! >>

The question is, what are we doing with our wealth?

"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern." Proverbs 29:7

HT to Marko

Watch Out Santa

Santa better be careful up there.

I hope not too many kids fly this airline. Could be a bit traumatic.


I love the people of Mexico. I lead a trip to Mexico each summer to build a house and share the love of Jesus with the wonderful people there. I received a letter today from a missionary couple that we have ministered with, in Ensenada Mexico,

One of the paragraphs in their letter really captures my heart for the Christmas season. Here it is...

This year as I have looked around at my surroundings I have noticed that some of the poorest homes have a strand or two of Christmas lights. Something to call attention to the season. It is fun to see their Christmas spirit come alive. There probably will be no Christmas tree in the front window or a warm fire in the fireplace or not even a present to be found but I can guarantee you there will be a tamale or two on every table. There will be joy and family and Jesus in the manger to point them to the most important reason for the Season "Jesus was born in Bethlehem." I love it here just for the simplicity of it all and how gifts and money don't get in the way of the true meaning of Christmas. There is no big build up or no big let down just a special day to be with family and celebrate the Savior.

Our culture of affluence has robbed us of the pure joy of Christmas, and in many ways of the pure joys of life. The people of Mexico don't have all the stuff that we have. The stuff that gets in the way of what is important, that being relationship. We have a lot to learn from them.

May we this Christmas season maintain a proper perspective of that which we celebrate...Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Near Death Experience

So yesterday morning as I was racing around the house to get out the door on time for church, I ran upstairs to say goodbye to Robin and Benny. She had just given him a bath so I went into the bathroom to drain the water from the tub. As I leaned over the tub I instantly heard a KUR-PLUNK! I look down only to notice my new Motorola RAZR sitting at the bottom of the tub completely submerged! In the midst of my racing, I had put my phone in my shirt pocket. Never do that if you are going to be leaning over water!

After listening to the counsel of many, I took it all apart to let it dry over night, praying like crazy the whole time. You see, pretty much my life is on that phone, all my contacts, my calendar, email, and more. Not to mention, it's just a cool phone! Well I am happy to say God had mercy on my dumb soul because as of this morning.... it works!

My hat goes off to Motorola!

Advent Devotional

I have recently discovered Following The Star, an excellent online devotional created by d365.org. Followingthestar.org is a wonderful daily guide to the Advent season.

Go here to experience.

Sunday's Message

In this, the season of advent, we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ. Over 2000 years ago John the Baptist called on people to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. Today we must also be preparing the way for Jesus. We must be preparing ourselves for Him to have His way in our lives. It is His desire that the world see His glory through us. This will only be accomplished as we allow Him to have full control of our lives.

This message entitled Prepare The Way, is what I shared on Sunday. It is more devotional in nature as it was a communion Sunday. At the end of the message, and before we shared in communion, we spent several minutes in silence listening to God and preparing our hearts for Him. Projected on the screen during this time was 1 Peter 1:13-23. We used it to allow God to guide our time of silence.

The recording of this message ends at the beginning of this time of silence. At it's conclusion spend some time reading the 1 Peter passage and allow God to further speak to you.

To listen to the message click here.
To listen to this message as a Podcast in iTunes click here.

To view the accompanying powerpoint click here.


Some things just leave you scratching your head. Like declaring that a public Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story.

Read the story here.

Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos

Back in June I posted here about a good use for Diet Coke and Mentos.

It seems the guys from EepyBird are back at it. This time with 251 bottles of Diet Coke and 1,506 Mentos mints. This giant Coke and Mentos chain reaction is one that has to been seen to believe!

HT: Gman

Jesus Revealed?

Over 2000 years ago Jesus revealed Himself to the world in bodily form. Acts 1:8 tells us He now reveals Himself through His people, the Church.

According to others He has also revealed Himself through images on muffins, burnt toast, rocks, and freeway underpasses. Well I guess He has now chosen to reveal him self through the bones of a dead fish. See the story here. The couple says it has brought them good luck for the last 10 years and now they are selling it on ebay so someone else can have a turn.

The article says, there is a legend that the type of fish the bone came from, a sailcat, was chosen by Jesus to remind people of what he went through. I guess all I can say to that is...... really??

Prepare The Way

I have always admired, and been intrigued with Mission Aviation Fellowship, or MAF. They are a ministry that supports missionaries in some of the most remote areas of the world.

In 2005 their fleet of 54 aircraft flew 36,761 flights, logged 3,461,427 miles, transported 111,666 passengers, and delivered 10.8 million pounds of cargo. In only a 12 month period MAF planes saved Christian and humanitarian workers 71,684 days of travel. That translates into 296 years redeemed for productive Kingdom work!

The grabber is all this is accomplished through skilled pilots flying in and out on extremely primitive and rough airstrips. Had these airstrips not been prepared beforehand, the message of Jesus would not be reaching some of the worlds most needy people.

This Sunday I will be sharing these facts as I preach on the need for us to prepare the way for Jesus.

We read in Isaiah 40:3-5 the prophesy of John the Baptist. John traveled about, calling on people to prepare the way for the coming ministry of Jesus. This year as we enter the Christmas season, and begin our holiday preparations, may we not just celebrate His coming to this world, but may we be reminded to prepare the way, not just for the coming of the Christ child, but for what Jesus wants to do in and through our lives.

As MAF has prepared the way for their pilots to come and go, so that the glory of God is seen, and experienced, by so many, so ought we prepare our hearts for the work God desires to do through our lives. May we too be agents of spreading the Kingdom of God, by preparing the way for Him to have His way in our lives. In doing so we also prepare the way for Jesus to be glorified in the lives of many others.


We're getting out first snow right now! As I sit here looking out my window the flakes are flying. Beautiful! It's always fun to get snow, but especially welcomed now due to the fact that we have had record breaking rainfall this month.

With 11.61 inches of rain this month we have broke the all time rainfall amount for November. Crazy! The previous record was in 1942 with 11.57 inches. I say, bring on the snow!

Here's how the rest of our week is shaping up.

Winter is on it's way baby!

How We Dress

The Chicago Sun-Times recently ran an interesting story on how people dress for worship. See the story here and the pictures here. I thought it an interesting read in light of my recent post ...."How You Lookin'?"


HT: Tony Myles

Change In Plans

Our Thanksgiving plans were to drive over the mountain to Sisters, Oregon to spend the holiday with Robin's brother and family. You know..."over the hills and through the woods..." Well God had other plans. Here is what the road to Sisters looks like right now.

Up to two feet of snow is expected just over night. Not my kind of driving!

We are disappointed, but will have a good Thanksgiving none the less. Our friend Vicki has now invited us over to join their family. What a blessing! This year we are thanking God for good friends.

Hope your Thanksgiving is a blessed one.

Say Hello

One of my favorite things about blogging is meeting new people. Since I began blogging a little over a year ago, I have met many very cool people from all around the US and even the globe. It has been great networking with people of like interests, particularly youth ministry.

Over the last few months I have noticed on my sitemeter that I have quite a few regular readers from many varied locations, and I am wondering who you all are. I regularly have visits to my blog from, California, Washington, Kansas, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Canada, Australia, and of course Oregon. I would love to know who you are!

I have installed a GuestMap on my blog and I invite you to sign it. You will find it near the bottom of the sidebar on the right hand side of the blog. Stick a pin in the map and say hello.

I look forward to meeting more of you.

Turkey 'N Thanks

To night was our annual Middle School Turkey 'N Thanks, or TNT as we like to call it. It is one of our best traditions and to night was a good one!

How often can you get a group of middle school students to dress their best and enjoy a formal sit down meal together? For us, it's once a year. It was a great time including amazing food (full on Thanksgiving meal), fun fellowship, good worship, and discussions on thankfulness.

See the pictures here.

Bombs Away

Who says being baptized is not supposed to be fun?


When you think of rich people who comes to mind? Perhaps Hollywood celebrities, rock stars, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Donald Trump? Do you ever think...me...as in you? I have been thinking a great deal lately about how we as American's have been so blessed. I often ask myself, why? Why do we have so much and yet a majority of the world has so little? I have concluded one thing. We have been blessed so that we can in return be a blessing to others.

This Sunday we will be considering these things with our students, as we focus on Thanksgiving. It is so easy to sit back this time of year and list off all that we are thankful for. That is good. I believe we must take it a step further than that. We must also be asking ourselves, how can I use what I am so thankful for, to be a blessing to others, and bring about a thankful heart within them.

As we consider and discuss these things on Sunday, we will be viewing the NOOMA video, Rich. Rob Bell does a great job of communicating these very concepts. Here is a clip.

There are so many ways that we can respond to the needs around us. In the Links section of this blog several are listed. The question is are we?

I was struck recently by Proverbs 14:31. It says, "He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." May we be a people committed to honoring our Maker by being kind to those in need of our help. In doing so, we truly will be rich.


Oh the things we blog about. Do people really care? At least I know my mom does.

What's the craziest thing you have blogged about, or read about on a blog?

HT to Marko

Ready for Season 6

Last winter Robin and I got hooked on 24. I mean how can you not like watching one guy save the nation from certain doom all in a 24 hour period. Let me just say... Jack is the man.

Having only watched season 5 we knew we had to get caught up before the beginning of season 6 this January. So we set out to watch season's 1 through 4 this fall. To night ended our quest. Thank you blockbuster.com.

We are now officially ready for this.

The Power of Giving

Found this in Relevant Magazine.

If Christians had given the traditional 10 percent tithe of their income to their churches in 2004, instead of the 2.56 percent that they actually gave, there would have been an additional $164 billion available, according to a report released in October called "The State of Church Giving through 2004." If the churches chose to funnel just $70-$80 billion of that additional income to missions and humanitarian works, the basic needs of every person on the globe would be provided.

Think On This

Art is a reflection of God's creativity, an evidence that we are made in the image of God.

- Francis Schaeffer

Breakfast With Jesus

I'm not sure this is what Jesus meant when He said we are to worship Him in spirit and in truth. This takes breakfast....err worship, to a whole new level!

Get your Jesus Pan now and start enjoying those heavenly hotcakes.

Two for only $29.99. Get 'em while there um... hot.

HT: Tony Myles

How You Lookin'?

A few weeks back on a Sunday morning prior to the start of our first morning worship gathering, I noticed a man and woman standing at the back door that I had not previously seen. The two were dressed to the inth degree, three piece suit and tie, with matching handkerchief, formal dress, with plenty of flashy jewelry to boot. They stood with a look of dismay on their faces. I went to greet them and introduce myself.

After the pleasantries were exchanged the gentleman informed me that they were first time guests and had decided not to join our worship gathering that morning. When asked why he proceeded to tell me that he was very put off by how informal we as a church dressed. He went as far as to state that we had let the world creep in and take hold of us. He made it clear that God would not be pleased with our worship because of the way we dressed. After a little more discussion the man and his wife left and I was left with a saddened heart. Saddened that this couple had reduced worship and the Church, down to a service in which we dress to impress.

If it is indeed true that God looks at the heart and not the outer appearance of man (1 Samuel 16:7), and that worship is much more than a weekly gathering (Romans 12:1) then it most likely is for the benefit of man that we feel compelled to dress up, and "look the part." Am I saying dressing in your "Sunday best" to attend a worship service is wrong? Not at all. What I am saying is we need to first search our hearts and see if we are truly following after Christ's heart and worshiping him daily in spirit and in truth with our very lives (John 4:24, Romans 12:1), and are living out the role of the church on a daily basis (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). If that is our heart then I believe how we dress is irrelevant.

How do you say a follower of Jesus should look, dress, and act?

On a less serious note: I love that the Christ follower is the "Mac user."

Beatin' The Bushes

This last Saturday 10 of us from our high school ministry went to battle. We took on approximately 400 square feet of blackberry bushes that had overtaken the backyard of an elderly couple in North Portland. We even found a car burried under all those thorns!

Recently we have made a paradigm shift in our approach to ministry. That is we feel that God would rather have us as a ministry engage in serving others as opposed to merely entertaining ourselves, like many of our past ministry events have done. I believe this is a much more efffective form of discipleship and serves to unite a group better than just about any other event. This last Saturday we joined forces with Project Linkage, an organization serving the elderly in Portland, to accomplish this, and had a great time.



Our stated purpose as a church is to Love God and Love Others To God. I believe this to be our greatest calling as followers of Jesus, and also serves as some of the most fun we can have as His followers. Saturday certainly proved that out!

See more pictures here.

A Heavy Heart

I have a heavy heart. I have been reminded so many times this past week that things are not always as they appear. It is so easy for people to appear one way in one setting and then an entirely different way in another.

As a pastor I desire so much for my students to love God more than anything else in their lives. To love Him to the point of forsaking the temptations to live contrary to what they know is right and honoring to their God.

It is so easy for students to live the life God wants of them to live, when around their youth group and church community, and yet when they leave that setting, live an entirely different way. Chap Clark references this kind of living as the "world beneath", and that most teenagers live in these two diffenent worlds. I want to say, it doesn't have to be that way.

God never intended for us to live two separate lives. As a pastor I want to see this change. It is my greatest concern and prayer for the students I shepherd. In reading this morning in Philippians I read how Paul shared a similiar concern. His desire for the church in Philippi is my prayer for my students.....

"...become blamesless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life - in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing." Philippians 2:15-16

May we all live in such a manner that the world would praise our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Undignified Dynamite

What you get when you mix my favorite artist with my favorite movie.


For those of you who do not live in the Northwest...here is what you are missing right now.

I find myself singing the Crowder song...

You make everything glorious
make everything glorious
You make everything glorious


The story of Dick and Rick Hoyt...a beautiful picture of the love of the Father toward us His children, and an inspiration to fathers everywhere, especially this one.

Read more about Team Hoyt here.

A Sad Day

It's a sad day for the American family. Read the story here.

The Wonder of A Child

One of my favorite things in life is to see through the eyes of my children. To experience life, God and faith, in a fresh and new way. To watch my 21 month old son run around the yard or park with absolute wonder and amazement at what God has created for him is refreshing and beautiful.

We have some friends with a pond near their backyard. Yesterday we were at there house. Benny was filled with amazement as he watched the ducks swim around, and fly in and out. Why don't we look at something as simple as ducks with amazement and wonder?

On Friday we took Benny to a pumpkin patch. He was overwhelemed with all the fascinating things to see. I never realized that pumpkins were so amazing and intriguing. I do now. I had my camera with me. Check it out...

I love Jesus' approach to children.

"People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Luke 18:15-17

May we all see and receive the kingdom of God like a child.

Middle School Retreat • The Movie

On the weekend of October 6-8, 31 of us from our middle school ministry loaded up the vans and headed down to Camp Tadmor for our 7th annual Fall Retreat. What a great time it was. For more on the retreat see this.

For the movie see this...

Good times!

Think On This

We think if we can disperse adequate information, people will be convinced that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and turn to him. Those methods don't work any longer. I'm not sure they ever did. People aren't looking for information about God. They want to experience God, himself. Information leaves them bored, uninterested. Experience, especially the ultimate experience any human being can ever have, leaves them breathless. And that's exactly what we have to offer.
- Mark Tabb, Mission to Oz

Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago today I married my best friend. It has been the best and fastest eight years of my life.

Proverbs 18:22 says, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord." I have received much favor from the Lord. He has blessed me in so many ways over the years. His greatest blessing...my wife.

I love you hon. Happy anniversary.

A Beautiful Sound

This last weekend was our annual Middle School Fall Retreat at Camp Tadmor. What an incredible weekend it was. A weekend in which the Spirit of God moved in the hearts of everyone.

To hear the sounds of middle schoolers having a great time and seeking God together in the process is a beautiful sound to hear.

Some of the sounds heard were the sounds of excitement as students let go of their fear and swang from the giant 60 foot rope swing, sounds of encouragement as students cheered their teams on as the compteted in different competitions through out the weekend, and sounds of laughter and discussion, and the many "a ha" moments when students discovered new things about their God, and themselves, as we listened to speaker Marshall Snider share how we were all created for greatness.

Perhaps the most beautiful sound of all was when they worshipped. I was moved to tears as I listened to students pouring out their hearts before God. The Spirit of God was moving and led our students to worship Him like I have never seen middle school students worship! Never let it be said that middle schoolers don't know how to worship. Check out the video below to see for yourself.

It was an amazing weekend and I pray that what God stirred in the hearts of all that were there, would continue to grow and develop into something even more beautiful.

See all the pictures of our weekend here.

Wake Up Call

It has been a long standing tradition for NASA to give their astronauts unique wake up calls in the morning, typically with music. On the July 4, 2006 luanch of the Space Shuttle Discovery this is what Mike Fossum's family requested as a wake up call for him.

I can't imagine a more incredible worship moment. Be sure to catch his comments at the end.

HT to Tony Myles

The Next 50 Years

Christianity Today has just released a very brief, yet good article on what evangelical leaders are saying are priorities for the next 50 years of youth ministry. Check it out here.

I especially appreciated Chap Clark's contribution, "The greatest challenge is developing 'a theology of intergenerational community' that helps a whole church to feel responsible for its youth. Otherwise, he said, churches follow mainstream culture's market-driven vision—and, like secular culture, abandon adolescents to raise themselves."

Mark Oestreicher, Youth Specialties president, is quoted as well, and has a good discussion on the article going on over at his blog.

I am encouraged by the discussion and continual re-thinking of how we pursue youth ministry. It is my hope and prayer that it doesnt take the church 50 years to get where we should be.

The Weekend

Benny and I have had a great weekend. I decided to pack my video camera around to document the fun.

We're looking forward to mom coming home.

Guy Time

This weekend is now being declared Dude's Weekend! Robin just left for the weekend for our church's women's retreat. I'm sure she will have a great time. I'm thinking we just might have a better one!

Time for some good guy time! Me and the boy. Father and son. I suspect we will spend quite a bit of time at the park. Sure glad it's right across the street. There will also be lots of running, laughing, tickling, chasing the cat, you know...all the stuff of a 21 month old!

I sure appreciate Robin. I'm sure my appreciation of her will be much greater by Sunday!

I'll let you know how it all goes. Gotta run!