A Blessed Mess!?!

This usually happens to me between 4:00pm to 5:00pm when my last toddler-age grandson is just about to be picked up from a day of adventure, play, laughing, lunch, a nap and more. The house is in a bit of disarray. A few of the kitchen cabinets are open (the safe ones) where the plastic and metal measuring cups are scattered over the kitchen floor from the joy of fitting them together and using them as drums over a plastic mixing bowl. The glass in the doors to the back yard are smeared with little finger and mouth prints as the boys are trying to get the dog’s attention. The baskets and little books in the living room have been dropped far from their original decorative place, discarded for something more interesting. There is a TV/DVD player remote and Wii controller in the hallway, one in the couch, another on the floor of the office, all from one particular grandson who just has to have something in his hands at all times. He starts with the remotes/controller and exchanges them, on the spot, for something else he enjoys in his precious little hand. Oh yes, and the toy basket, well, it looks like it erupted in the family room with the toy flow pushing throughout the house. If you were to look at it you might say, ‘wow, what a mess!’

Now sure, we start singing the clean-up song and get much of the ‘mess’ back in order before they head home, but the mess was not a wasteful or destructive mess, but more of a blessed mess of two little boys having some crazy fun with their Papa. It’s not that the only fun is messy fun or that fun can’t be neat or orderly. The truth is there are unpleasant realities to all that we do; fun, recreation, relationship, or productive work. Play requires clean up, relationships experience conflict (that’s how we grow), work has with it tasks that are difficult and hard.

In thinking of the mess and the good things that naturally come with it, a proverb from the Bible came to mind…
Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

Another translation put it this way…
NLT Proverbs 14:4 Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.

In other words, the mess of using ox to till and work the fields will mean there will an unpleasant (and smelly) mess to deal with. Sure the stable are clean if there are no oxen, but that also means little or no work is happening. It’s the same with relationships; friends fight, couples argue, team mates clash, siblings squabble. But as another Bible proverb says…
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Like the friction of two knives used to sharpen each other, two people through the mess of a conflict can actually sharpen each other. Now that takes a lot of humility and love and more than we can talk about now, but relationships are, at times, messy and that mess is a blessing because it means growth and sharpening are happening.

It’s not that we need to be a mess or live with a messy stable, but at times a little mess is ok and actually a blessing. A blessing that even makes the mess a bit of a joy to clean up. How sad if a toy never gets worn or a house never gets used or a relationship never goes deep or a job never gets challenging or schedules never get interrupted. Maybe the mess you are experiencing is really a blessing of a life well lived, an abundance that has with it the normal natural mess, like ox in the barn.

Another messy place is the church. Yep, an imperfect group of people seeking to know God and live for God, and it’s messy. Some feel you need to be better or mess-less to attend. It’s just not true. Church is a just the kind of place where we can get encouraged, challenged, inspired to deal with not only life’s messes but also life’s difficulties. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . We would love for you to join us. You might even find a few blessed messes as we have a lot of fun in and around our building.

Enjoying taking care of the blessed messes of life along with you,


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be Brave

I imagine you know someone who you would say is brave. As I have been taking in the Olympic Games, there have been a number of stories of bravery, stories of athletes overcoming tremendous obstacles, facing their fears and bravely putting forth the effort to train and compete. One brave gymnast, Samir Ait Said from France who, in the preliminaries, was ready to stick his landing from his vault but instead hit the mat at just the wrong angle and snapped his left leg. Some of you might have seen the painful photos that flooded the internet of his leg, now bent where it should not be bent! All that training, all that sacrifice, gone in a moment. And if that’s not all, they dropped the stretcher on the way to the ambulance! You would think Ait Said would have been so depressed and dejected that he would just fade into the disappointment and move on with life. However, with a smile and a thumbs up, he has vowed to return to the sport. Now that’s bravery; the grit and will to push through the pain, the emotions, the impediments, and press on in life.

Now there is more to this story as reported on August 6th by USA Today. USA Today found that at the European championships, just a few months before the 2012 Games, Ait Said broke his right leg, his tibia, in three places, again on the vault! Yet, even after these two setbacks, he is vowing to come back. That’s being brave.

Bravery comes in many forms; the new kid at a new school with no friends reaching out to get to know others, the single mom balancing work – parenting – finances – life all on her own stepping up to have joy regardless of the circumstance, the small business owner overcoming discouragement by sharpening their skills and being good at their craft, the cancer patient facing another round of chemo or those difficult words, “its back” and pressing on through the fatigue, the retiree pushing aside the temptation to just exist to take on new adventures, the person in financial ruin, grieving the loss, yet getting back up and getting back to making a living. See, bravery is overcoming fear and pressing on.

The Bible challenge us with bravery, but bravery that comes not from mustering it up from within ourselves, but from a faith in a loving and caring God.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

God is with you and wants each of us to trust in Him.
Proverbs 3:5-8 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

The truth is there is much to fear in life; relationships don’t always blossom as we hoped, finances are fleeting, some people are mean or hurtful or unkind, accidents happen, risk is risky, persecution is real, sometimes evil/wrong/dishonesty seems to win, growing old is a bit scary, and life is not certain nor pain free. Yet, despite the fears of life we can be brave knowing God will be with us.

Not only can we be brave because of God, but as we grow in faith towards Him, we are given a brave heart.
2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

It is that brave heart that has a steadfast trust in God that, regardless of the circumstance, He will work it for His glory and our good. That good may be different than what we expected, but a good that is in line with God’s purposes and character.

So be brave. I’m sure you face fears, obstacles, and difficulties, so turn to God, trust in Him and be brave as you face the trials of the day.

One place to be encouraged and inspired on to brave living is a church. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net .

Seeking to be brave alongside you,


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What We Behold Matters.

The Olympics Games provide for us the thrill of watching human beings achieve great accomplishments, the notoriety of experiencing history-making events, the captivating-intensity of competition, the exhilaration and national pride of our country winning the gold, and the inspiration of people who sought a goal and achieved much. It is those inspiring stories that enthrall us and rivet us to the details of what made that athlete into the kind of person that could extend themselves to be the best in the world. We want to know what made them into an Olympian, and what kept them on their path despite the obstacles and defeats.

One story caught my attention out of this first week of the 2016 Summer Games. It was a story, yes of achieving an Olympic medal, but for me it was more of where these athletes chose to set their focus. They undoubtedly were on a path to be the best they could be at their sport, but they had a deeper value they beheld that shaped their outlook on life, formed their character, and infused their self-esteem with a grounded and humble outlook. That is rare among those who achieve such accomplishments, be it in sport, in business, financially, or in fame. Many let what they achieve define them, and as they behold their own greatness they become prideful, arrogant, demanding, and some even get belligerent.

What we behold matters because what we place as majorly important in our lives influences us, for we become what we behold. We are shaped by what we set our heart, our core attention on. The Bible says this about our heart:
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 27:19 As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.

What influences our heart is what we behold, what we value, what we set as those deep truths of life. The athletes I am speaking of are David Baudia and Steel Johnson, silver medalists in the Men’s synchronized 10meter platform diving event. They both had worked hard to rise to the precision of an Olympic medal, but they had chosen to behold something deeper.

In an interview with an NBC reporter asking what it all means for this team to win the silver, Baudia said, “Yeah, I just think the past week, there’s just been an enormous amount of pressure, and I’ve felt it. You know, it’s just an identity crisis. When my mind is on this, thinking I’m defined by this, then my mind goes crazy, but we both know our identity is in Christ.” Steel Johnson responded as well, “I think the way David just described it was flawless. The fact that I was going into this event knowing that my identity is rooted in Christ and not what the result of this competition is just gave me peace.” These two have beheld Jesus and it had an incredible impact on their lives. Beholding Jesus does influence us.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
To behold Jesus is to learn of Him and set our hearts on who He is and what He has done. I know it has made an amazing difference in my life and I know it can in yours. Regardless if you have great knowledge of the biblical Jesus or know little, to seek Jesus and behold Him matters.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Why not give it a try. Investigate Jesus. Pick up a Bible and read the accounts of Jesus’ life in the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Beholding Jesus matters.

Church is also a great place to behold Jesus. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net .

This could be just what you are looking for in life.

Beholding what matters along with you,


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Olympic Attitude

There is so much I love about the Olympics. I love seeing the best of the best perform and do what seems to be the impossible. I greatly enjoy seeing the fastest, strongest, most elegant, most agile, and the greatest in all the world show what can be accomplished. It is the beauty of pushing God-given talent to its maximum, even against all odds, and achieving the gold. I love the intensity of competition with the thrill of victory and even the agony of defeat (those of you who are old enough remember those words from the TV series “The Wide World of Sports”).

I also enjoy the international flavor of the Olympics as all nations come together in unity of sport and competition, where culture is celebrated and national pride is elevated. It is fun to, yes, root for your country, but also the country of your heritage or the country of a friend or even those countries where, in the opening ceremonies, only one or two athletes are representing their people. The Olympics brings the world together and we see people for people, seeing all humanity as the created beings God loves just as much as you and me. All through the Bible God points to “all nations,” “all peoples.” His love, blessing, care, and call to seek Him is not for certain peoples, it’s for every tribe and language and people and nation…everyone in the world.
John 3:16-17 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
Psalm 96:9-10 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! 10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.”

Well, another element of the Olympics that will glue me to theTV will be those great stories of athletes who were not blessed with all the opportunity of affluence, yet with that determined attitude of sacrifice, hard work, self-control, and grit set out to be the best in the world. I love that Olympic attitude. Like the team of refugee survivors who have fled wars, kidnappings, persecution, and famine to compete, having no home or flag or national anthem to play if they receive a medal. These and others took the risk of doing what it takes to achieve their goals and some even to give honor and glory to God. Eric Liddell, a Scottish athlete in the 1924 Olympic Games said this, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast! And when I run I feel His pleasure. And when I win I bring Him honor.

As I think about this amazing Olympic attitude, I wonder how different our lives would be if we applied it to our marriages, friendships, work, school, sure our recreation and sport, maybe our health or character, and our own relationship with God? Actually, God has given us that challenge from the Bible:
2 Peter 1:5-8 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The words “make every effort” can also be translated “at your own risk.” It is this idea, as we seek to grow in faith and live, we take the risk/put on that Olympic attitude and strive to be pure, know more about God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be self-controlled, persevere, seek to take on the character of Christ, and loving people. I wonder how many marriages would be saved, how many relationships would be salvaged, how many great carriers would be forged, how many helpful ideas would be fostered, how many lives would be changed if more and more people took up an Olympic attitude for life. I’m inspired. How about you??

Church can be a great place to get inspired. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net .

Our world needs you to step up, strap on that Olympic attitude and go for it. Will you?

Seeking to engage that Olympic attitude along with you,


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Words Matter

I don’t know if you were ever taught the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” I remember coming home from school and being teased about my weight (I was a bit over weight) and even getting a few jabs from family. I was given that phrase to, in a sense, let those words bounce off me and not affect me. However, they did not, and actually that phrase is not true, words really do hurt and some are like arrows that pierce deep into our being and can shape our self-esteem and world view. Words do matter and regardless how purposeful or careless we are, words make in impact.

I find it interesting knowing the weight of words how much careless words, get thrown out. I was running some errands a few weeks ago and I walked by someone on their phone. They were in an intense, loud, conversation spewing out all kinds of angry, hurtful words at the person on the phone. So much so that it was awkward as people passed by. The sad reality is this is not uncommon. We were enjoying an evening out taking in some ice cream and another uncomfortable conversation erupted where both parties heaved out hurtful words in angry tones. We also have been seeing a whole lot of ‘mud-slinging’ as the news media tends to enjoy subjecting us to angry rants and biting comments.

Why is there so much angry, hurtful, careless words thrown around. The Bible would say the mouth speaks out that which fills the heart Matthew 12:34-35. I know that was true for me. As a young kid I had a bunch of anger, frustration, and hatred due to a growing up in an alcoholic family, being teased at school and home. I was unsettled and raging inside and it came out in all kinds of obscenities and cruel words.
Luke 6:43-45 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Yet that all changed when I took in the soothing words of God’s truth from the Bible. I learned that God loved me unconditionally
Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
That word “steadfast love” means the loyal, committed love of God that continues to love us regardless of who we are or what we have done. It is an always flowing, ever present, love.
Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This love is not only God’s delight in us (see Zephaniah 3:17) but providing us the way of salvation from evil, anger producing sin that has affected us all.
1 John 4:9-10 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (atonement) for our sins.

These words matter. For to take them in, to believe in them, changes us. I know it did me. When I realized how much God loved me and what He did to secure that love, I believed. In choosing to embrace God’s love, my heart was changed and my mouth, my words reflected that change.

What do the words you speak reveal about your heart? Let the good words of God’s truth sooth the core of your being, soak in His love and see the change.

Church can be a good place to soak in the great love of God. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . It would be a great joy if you could join us.

Letting the good words of God soak in with you,

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank You for Being A Friend

I was doing my usual grueling gym routine yesterday and I was on the tortuous stair machine, which puts you at high vantage point to see much of what is happening on the floor of the gym. I noticed something that caught my attention and brought a smile to my face. No, it was not the hilarious antics of those of us who are not quite sure how to use certain exercise machines, though their continual repositioning and experimenting is quite entertaining. I’m sure I have been the source of others’ amusement as I tried to look like I knew what I was doing, yet doing the exercise completely wrong! No, it was also not the person who spends most of their time flitting from one station to another doing one or two reps on the lightest setting, showing no real strain, yet resting as if that had just spent the last 20 minutes pushing hard with that exercise. Yes, I know it’s better than nothing, but if there is no strain there is no real gain! Anyway, what did bring that smile to my face was a group of people working hard at their workout yet interconnecting. I later discovered were friends.

As I finished my ‘stairway of agony,’ I started heading to my next exercise, which happened to be in ear-shot of this group. They were encouraging each other to push harder and take another rep or add a bit more weight. They greatly affirmed and reassured each other’s efforts, cautioning the need for breaks and getting back at it. This group also took moments to ask about each other’s family, where they were going on vacation, how things were at work. They also made jokes with each other and laughed about funny stories. As I was finishing my next machine, still in the area of this group, one of the guys who was really giving his exercise his all, finishes to the applause of the group and wiping the sweat from his brow said, “Thanks guys, you all are true friends!”

Friends are a great blessing in life, not just to have friends, but to be a friend with others. The Bible has a lot say about friends.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Friendship is important in life, not only at the gym, but at work, in your neighborhood, at school, on your team, in your marriage and family. Friendship brings relationships into a whole new dimension that enhances life. So what are some key elements that bring relationship into that deeper connection of being a friend? Here are a couple of Bible passage that will help:
Colossians 3:12-14 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
1 Peter 3:8-9 8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
Let me pull out of these passages two key elements of friendship.

The first is affirmation. It’s noticing positive qualities and achievement and expressing them. It is the core of kindness.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
It is choosing to focus on the positive of the other rather than the negative. It’s pausing the sarcasm and inserting expressions of great qualities of that friend. It is sharing compliment, praises, tributes, accolades and commendations.

Connecting is the other key. It is essence of brotherly love that seeks to be a forever learner of the other. To know their likes and dislikes and favorites. Like in the true story of King David and Jonathan in the Bible (you can find their story in the Bible book of 1 Samuel). They grew into long lasting friends because they choose to keep connecting with each other.
1 Samuel 18:1 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
It is continue to inquire about what the other is thinking and experiencing in life. Yes sharing experiences like playing Pokemon Go together, but also discovering their interests, opinions, and past.

Now, church can be a fun place to make friends and be a friend. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . We would love for you to join us.

Seeking to be good friends along with you,

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be All There!

One of my most favorite moments is spending time with my grandsons (I have 3!). They each are so unique, and fun, and playful, and full of life lessons for me! Like the other day I was playing with one of them as we were trying build one of those wooden train tracks with interconnecting rail lines. I was showing him and explaining to him the fun of how they fit together and how the train moves on the track, yet he found his fun in using the straight piece of track as a sword and the curved piece as a phone. Nonetheless, we were playing and chatting (his words are not yet all fully formed, but he thinks they are and with a little imagination you can figure out what he is saying).

Well after a while, he flitted off to some blocks and as I sat there watching this little guy, continuing the conversation, something happened that pulled me out of my fun play-interaction with my grandson. It was not some big sound of alarm or startling incident. It was not even another person entering the room or dog barking. What it was, was an all too familiar sound that tends to divert my attention and move me to a conditioned response. It was the buzz that I had just received an email or text on my cell phone. So, without even thinking, I automatically opened up my portal to cyber interconnectivity (aka my cell phone) and I was captivated. I started viewing texts, emails, jumped on to Instagram and Facebook, and there I was, wide-eyed, staring at the little screen of my phone, taken from being all there with my precious grandson.

Well, he had noticed I had stopped my engaging banter as he played, and unbeknownst to me he was heading back to me with book in hand. Fully engulfed in whatever was happening on my phone I barley heard, “Papa”, “Paaa-pa”, “PAPA!” Just as he slowly took the phone out my hands, snuggled into my lap, and replaced my phone for a book, all this with a pleasant smile on his little face.

At that moment, I got it. I need to be all there! Sure it’s fun to multitask and yes, anything I can do to decrease my email inbox is a joy, but a friend once challenged me with this saying, “Where ever you are, be all there!” Honestly, that is tough for me, yet it is so needed, especially these days where there are so many distractions. Sure, conversations get awkward with long pauses to figure out what to say, yet we all need to work through those to learn how to communicate. Yes, we want to be productive, yet there are times when we really just need to play, enjoy a sunset, smell the flowers, and soak in the unique personality of another…or play undistracted with your grandson!

Jesus was/is a great example of being all there. In one incidence He was tired from a long journey and took a rest as the disciples went off to gather some supplies. A woman came by, and though it would have been out of the ordinary to engage her in a conversation in that culture, on that day, Jesus initiated an interaction. You can read about it in the Bible in John 4:4-29 (but read the whole chapter to see the rest of the story). Jesus’ interaction gave this woman hope for the life she thirsted for, yet had not found.

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Another interaction where Jesus was ‘all there’ was in Luke 18:35-43, where Jesus was walking towards the city of Jericho and as the crowd passed by, a blind man called out to Jesus. Jesus could have easily kept walking, but He stopped and healed the man!

Luke 18:41-42 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.”

There are many stories in the Bible of Jesus being all there as He interacted with others. I know I could do a better job at that. How about you?

Church can be a great place to learn of Jesus and behold Him. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . We would love for you to join us.

Being all there is an important life lesson. It can be life changing! Why not give it a try…be all there, where ever you are.

Seeking to be all there along with you,


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment