Two Years Ago Today


For every story there is a beginning, middle and an end. But when finally reaching the end one may look back and wonder; how did I get here? Can I ever go back? Is there anything to go back to? Is this the way the story has to end?

I sit staring at the same blank wall. It’s a different wall now but my frame (or should I say pain) of mind is still the same. I still can’t believe he is really gone…

It was a normal Saturday, nothing eventful that I can or can’t remember. I went to sleep to get up early for a three year anniversary celebration of a church plant called Clarity. When I awoke in the morning I was getting ready and I noticed I had a voicemail. Listening to the message I became alarmed. My Dad had stopped breathing in the evening and was now in the ICU on life support. Sheer panic took a hold of me.

I raced to the hospital with Reni as soon as I could. Met and hugged my distraught step mom. Still in a state of Shock we entered the hospital room where my father was. He was hooked up to breathing machines and unconscious. I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing him there. And even now as I think about it, it still cuts so deep. I tried to be strong but my voice broke and a few tears came down as I gripped his hand and told him, “You have so much to live for.”

We exited the room and the doctors and nurses began explaining things to me that I never knew about or wanted to know. He was sick and had pneumonia. He also had sepsis which is why his body was bloated. They said his kidneys may be shutting down and mentioned kidney dialysis. When I asked a nurse about odds and what was really going on she said we should pray.

I didn’t really understand the weight of the situation. My dad had been in the hospital at the beginning of the year with blood loss and stomach bleeding and he pulled through and was strong. He almost just laughed it off. We had even been working on his porch in the previous weeks and everything seemed to be fine. Still Reni and I headed back into the room to pray.

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We held each other’s hands and my dad’s, squeezing with hope and human frailty we prayed. We prayed for healing, we prayed for a full recovery, we prayed for his soul. Somewhere during our prayer my dad had an unmistakable jump. Like a sudden jerk, almost violent. I believe that he heard our prayers on some level. I never told my brother or stepmom about that encounter but I believe his soul was touched.

Other family members arrived and pulled us out of the room. I had offers from other pastors to come and pray but I thought there was tomorrow…

We left to go to the Clarity Banquet at night and I remember telling my story to all our friends there, numb, hurting inside, confused at how quickly life can change when you aren’t ready for it. We ate and shared and had a time of worship. I remember the worship sounded so angelic with everyone singing and God’s presence. I cried and wondered what it is like to worship God in Heaven in all His glory.

Morning came but that night was the last night of my dad’s life. He passed away before the sunrise came. There were frantic messages on my phone telling me that if I wanted to see Dad I had better come to the hospital quickly. They only keep the bodies in the room for so long after death. I had already seen my Aunt Robin’s body the day she died almost a decade ago so I knew that there was nothing there anymore. (On a side note my past addiction was heavily fueled by her loss.)

The moments, days, months, and now years that have passed are forever changed without my father in this world with me. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through in this life and it’s difficult in a whole different kind of way than the other things. They say that grieving is the inward emotion and mourning is the outward expression of the grief within. Sometimes I just feel like a stone, like no one knows what’s going on inside or could comprehend it. I know I’m not the only one that suffers but my pain is my pain. It’s not stronger or more important than others’ pain it’s just that this is mine. Sometimes I feel genuinely connected to my father, knowing that he heard our prayers on his death bed and that God saved his soul. I know that he knows more about God and is experiencing Love in ways unimaginable. God gives me comfort and strength. Slowly, I chip away at myself and forge a stronger man. Yet, sometimes I simply, dearly miss that man.

I still have “Dad” in my favorites on my phone.

I’m not sure how to end this because it’s never ending but I hope my story may help you in your grieving process.

“It can be painful and seemingly never-ending but the only way out is through” ~ Carl Jung

“Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, ‘It’s gone, and I’m better’. They’re wrong. When the people you love are gone, you’re alone. I miss being a part of their lives and them being part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here – what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be,” ~ Keanu Reeves
You die twice, once when you stop breathing, and again when somebody mentions your name for the last time. ~ Unknown

Dad Castle

Surrounded – Beautiful Moment


Certain moments in life sometimes seem to perfectly align.

Recently this past summer I was driving to the beach with my glowing fiancée. We were holding hands, smiling, laughing and slowly making our way through the L.A. traffic. The music was the perfect volume and we made this turn under an overpass where the sun became brilliantly blinding. And in this moment so many inexpressible feelings from many spectrums collided in a vast array of emotions. Tears welled up in my eyes. Sometimes things are so beautiful in life there is an ache, but when all the colors bleed together the collimation is Joy overtaking. A sense of something far greater than self or those we are connected to but the one who is infinitely connected to each of us. Deeply and personally, never waving in His love.

And this moment was merely a whisper of affection and a display of the vast beauty He creates daily, for us to enjoy. We are surrounded by majesty and too many of those moments can pass in vain if we aren’t careful to stop and observe the soaring whispers all around. Let the beauty and ache of life resound in your soul and recoil a greatness that can only be experienced through the eyes of knowing God.



Pen meets paper with strokes of imagination inspired from the artist’s eye. As ink dries it paints the picture from the poet’s mind. He meditates on the perfect words, contemplates on the similes and metaphors, and intricately dedicates time to every jot and tittle. An endless pursuit of his greatest masterpiece yet, still he appreciates his older works for it is the compilation that has built him up to where he is now. And though he works in the now, he has hope that there are greater works yet to be done once this is accomplished. And so he continues to write with painstaking detail and love.

“We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

We are God’s, and we are His Masterpiece. In awe already? I know I am. And it gets even better! The Greek word for masterpiece used here is “poema” – which we would translate into “poem.” We are God’s poem. Moments in our lives are his lyrics; days are stanzas that the master writer is composing. God doesn’t make mistakes. God made you to be exactly who He wanted you to be – gifts, talents, dreams, experiences and all. And through the good and the bad He is shaping us into the image of His Son.

We are valuable because God created us. We have worth because Jesus died for us. And we are precious because God has put the Holy Spirit in our hearts and the Kingdom of God in our hands.

And so the Grand Creator continues to create.

Recapturing Day One


It was a crisp warm summer day in an afternoon that would be forever burnt into my memory. I was a little boy with my father and he was teaching me how to ride a bike. I had training wheels on, of course, and he thought I was finally getting the hang of it. We had been at it all day and the time had finally come. He pulled out some tools and detached the safety device. Now I was on my own. I remember not being able to balance at first but soon I was flying! (Picture E.T. video cover – at least that’s how I felt) I eventually learned how to ride and it became second nature. Not without my fair share of crashes and accidents though.

So many things in life are like that: new, scary, thrilling, uncertain, dangerous, exhilarating. But once we “master” them we can lose that first love we once had. Learning guitar was a similar experience of trial and error and finally learning something just to see a new hill to climb.

Recently, I was driving to lead worship for a service and I had all these thoughts. It occurred to me that God had been preparing me all my life to do the things He’s called me to do (Ephesians 2:10). What a profound thought. I was amazed at how easy it was to forget the time the Father had been training me. That there was a destination and a goal. My whole mindset changed as if this was the first day I had ever lead worship. And though the songs were familiar and I had played the chords many times, I found a new joy and passion in the small things I do that God considers great. I found assurance and confidence not in myself or anything I possessed but in God’s plan (Romans 8:28-29).

You were created with a purpose, goal and destination. It’s awesome to stop and feel the hand of the Father on your back as He removes the safety wheels and propels you into a great unknown future.

Change Agents


“Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself.” –Leo Tolstoy

In order to change, you must change.
In order to change the world we must be the change we want to see.

While profoundly obvious, it struck a resonating chord in me. At the beginning of 2013 I wrote an article on sustainable life-long change and how to implement it. Now in another New Year I find myself reflecting on the ways that I’ve changed, what’s made that possible, and why change is so important.

In order to first change we must admit something needs to change. When I was drug-addicted in Las Vegas, at my wits end and falling beyond rock bottom, I knew that my life had to change. It was hard to stare into the unknown with the fear of losing the things I loved the most that were also destroying me; drugs, broken relationships, pain inside that I was running from…

There are many reasons (or excuses) why we fear change but what it ultimately comes down to is the unknown. The “What if?” Yet, that is where excitement and adventure live. In change we grow (hopefully for the better) and the more we change, the easier it can become to tackle things that at one point seemed insurmountable. You can conquer your mountains.

How do we change? See my post HERE for more thoughts on that question.

I will leave you with these words of wisdom:
“Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
– Martin Rooney

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman

Created to Create


“In the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1).

The first thing we learn about God is that he is a Creator. An inventor, an architect, a visionary. The words of God then go on to tell us that we are created in His image or likeness (Gen. 1:26-27).

In Hebrews it says that God “is the same yesterday today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

The implications of this are huge. God created us and made us to be like him. He not only created once, but continues to create and inspires creation. He’s given us the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and called us to join Him in the renewal of all things. Just as God breathes forth words of new life that feed our souls and awaken our spirits to dream and hope, so too, we are empowered to dream, create and speak forth God’s words and to be a witness.

For some this is preaching, others – musical gifts and worship, for others it is painting, visual effects or architecture; though all very different, they are together proclaiming the beauty of God. Creation. A universal language understood by all, the need and desire to create something out of nothing. To make beauty from ashes (Isa 61:3). To explode the beauty of our creativity from the abstract into tangible creations that stir the human spirit and touch the heart. We are different from animals in that we dream dreams and have the gift of imagination.

May God use the gifts and inspirations that He has given each of us to bring forth His kingdom, beauty and Love. Love is why we create and it is why we breathe and exist. God is love and without love we are nothing. Take heart in the things you were created to do and trust God to provide you with the inspiration. Create as you were created to create. For this is a true act of worship – to do what you were created to do.

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
-Eric Liddell (Olympic medalist)

Embrace Yourself


Just as God is a triune being so He also created us; three in one, we are body, soul, and spirit. We possess intellect, will, and emotions. These make up the core of every human being.

Intellect is what sets us apart from all other life. We can reason, plan, imagine, learn and create. Within the scope of our minds lie untapped potential and genius; we are, after all, made in the image and likeness of God.

Our will is what we strive for, what we want out of life and what we will do to make that happen. Our will is happening every day. We can choose to be selfish or selfless, giving or taking, caring in action or apathetic to the needs of others. Today is your will, what will you do today?

Emotions. We laugh, we cry, we jump for joy, and sometimes we fall down alone with no one to help us up. Some would deny their feelings and try to bury them as a weakness. The whole “real men don’t cry” gets drowned out over “Jesus weeping,” while others are so led by feelings that what they want out of life (will) and reason are sometimes sacrificed in search of satisfying a feeling (or not feeling).

In today’s culture so much of what is propagated is to escape and numb feelings. From our warped view of what true masculinity is to the constant overload of entertainment, viral videos, TV, video games, etc. It sometimes seems to me that the last thing people want to do is check in to themselves and ask the hard questions, yet those are the ones that matter most. When I’m dead in my casket will I be proud of what I accomplished? Today? Are the things I’m doing helping me achieve my goals? Do I have goals? Have I really forgiven that person that so deeply hurt me I couldn’t tell anyone what they did to me? Why am I so bored with my life? Why must I be entertained all the time with never a moment to reflect…

The point is that God created us to thrive in who we are. God gave us that gift of pain so that we could share our experiences with others and help in their liberation. God gave us dreams and visions that we may see a little more of His Kingdom on earth. God has given us the gift of today to reflect and forgive, to plan and move forward and ultimately to accomplish His will. Don’t squander your life away not facing the hard truth of who you are, why you went through the things you have and why you have that dream that only you can accomplish. Embrace yourself, turn off the TV, write out a few goals and find healing in the hurts you try to drown out.

I leave you with the opening verse from a song of mine entitled “The Dreamer’s Dream”

“These dreams could cost
These dreams could cost a lifetime
These dreams could cost
These dreams could cost a life”