Tag Archives: family


Craig Groeschel defines “Chazown” as: “dream” or “revelation” or “vision.” He asserts that we all need vision to  do what God has created us to do. He identifies four things that vision brings to our lives: focus, endurance, peace, and passion (p.12). Beginning with the end in mind, Groeschel takes the reader on a journey of discovering their personal Chazown.

Part field guide, part workbook, Chazown is a practical manual for developing and identifying God’s vision for your life. Along the way you will do some writing as you wrestle with a variety of clarifying exercises the author presents. As you walk through these 76 short chapters you will refer back  to those exercises and further clarify and modify them.

At about the half-way point of the book Groeschel identifies five spokes of your personal Chazown as:

1. Your relationship with God

2. Your relationship with people

3. Your financial health

4. Your physical health

5. Your life’s work

A brief self-inventory on page 106 helps you consider one of two options. You can either focus on one of the five spokes and develop an action plan to address it or you can develop action plans on all five spokes. A section is devoted to each spoke. If you are going to just look at one at a time then this is where you skip ahead to that specific section. (You can always come back to the other sections!)

I believe that most people will find Chazown to be helpful – especially if they feel that something is missing in their lives and they are looking for direction and meaning. This is not a book that you just read and then set aside. There is a fair amount of work that one must do to fully benefit from it. There are tons of additional resources located at http://www.chazown.com that will help you. You might find the 4-session group guideline included in the back of the book to be the best way for you to process what you’ve read. But whether you make this journey alone or with others, Chazown will help you bring clarity and direction to your life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Functionally Amish

I think we will all eventually become functionally Amish.

You know who the Amish are. They are a Christian sect found mostly in Pennsylvannia. They may be best known for rejecting modern conveniences and living a simple lifestyle that seems to be frozen in the 1850’s. Those modern conveniences include homes with utilities like running water and electricity, and gas-powered engines that run things like cars, tractors, and Harleys! Apparently, banks require them to keep the electricity hooked up to the house until the mortgage is paid off. At that time the homeowner removes the service to the house. I have to agree with the Amish here – mortgages are not a modern convenience!

So I wonder if we don’t all become Amish at some point – rejecting modern conveniences for the lifestyle of a bygone era? We see it in people who resist or flat-out reject technology. No cell phone. No email. No computer. Landline with an answering machine. Sometimes it pops up in fashion. Double-pleated cuffed pants. “Mom” jeans (especially on men!). Leather fringe jackets.Christians are really good at becoming functionally Amish. Locking into the hymns from the 40’s and 50’s (that’s 1840’s and 50’s!) or the Gaither music of the 60’s and 70’s. We insist that the bible translation that we grew up with is the best. And we are experts at resisting change of any kind.

But Christians aren’t the only people that become functionally Amish. We’re all good at it. We love the familiar and routine. It gives us a certain sense of comfort and security. Eventually we will all watch the History Channel, Turner Classic Movies, and re-runs of Gunsmoke. (Note: since the Amish don’t use electricity they certainly don’t watch old movies.)

The point is eventually most of us will pick a seemingly random point in history and freeze-frame our life in that era. Ten years from now I’ll be easy to spot. I’ll be that balding 65 yr old wearing Tom’s, a David Crowder t-shirt, and black skinny jeans with an iPhone in the front pocket! Which era will you choose to spend the rest of your life in?

Man Alive!

Are you a mentor? Are you a men’s small group leader? Do you disciple men? Here’s a really good book to check out if you lead or are involved in ministry to men. Patrick Morely has been producing resources for men and men’s ministries for years. This latest book from Morley may be his best to date.

In eight chapters and just 184 pages Morley lays out a model for an 8-week study – ideally with a small group of men. In chapters2-8 he zooms in on a separate “primal need” that I think most men will identify with:

2- To feel like I don’t have to go through life alone.

3 – To believe – really believe-that God knows. loves. and cares about me personally.

4-To believe that my life has a purpose – that my life is not random.

5-To break free from the destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down.

6-To satisfy my soul’s thirst for transience, awe, and communion.

7- To love and be loved without reservation.

8-To make a contribution and leave the world a better place.

Each chapter includes a few questions for reflection and discussion.

I personally found chapter 8 – “How A Man Makes His Mark” – to be interesting and helpful. Morley describes the final ‘primal need’ like this:

“Every man feels a deep need to make a difference, to make his life count, and to leave the world a better place. Yet in the crush of daily duties, this powerful need often gets misdirected or ignored.” (p. 164.)

Morely adds this observation:

“I’d say that 90% of Christian men don’t go much further than professing faith. They’re saved but stuck – inside the stadium but not in the game. Their lives seem pointless, and they hate it.” (p. 165)

I’ve seen this so many times. Men going through the motions of being a Christian. They go to church most Sundays but don’t become engaged in the worship or the message. They don’t sing and barely remember a single point of the message by the time they pull out of the parking lot. They’re not in a small group and they don’t have any real friends in the church. They attempt to find meaning and significance in their work, their hobbies, or through their favorite professional sports team.

At the age of 55 I look ahead to the next 10-12 years of full-time ministry. I’m not content to go through the motions of life and ministry for those years. I want desperately to make a difference for the Kingdom. I want to see men transformed by the Gospel so that their lives have meaning and significance. I want to see men become the men they really want to be – better husbands, better dads, better men.  That’s why I lead 3 separate men’s groups, am coaching 3 men, and am working to develop a full-throttle men’s ministry team. I believe that introducing me to “Man Alive” will help me accomplish those goals.

Check out the Man Alive website for more resources.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Black Nativity Inspires!

Sunday night Julie and I attended one of the most inspirational and deeply spiritual events in recent memory. The Black Nativity was presented at the historic Moore Theater in downtown Seattle. As we found our front-row seats we wondered if perhaps we were seated too close. Those concerns were quickly erased as the program began and the auditorium was filled with music!

Langston Hughes wrote this “Gospel Song Story” fifty years ago and it has been produced on American stages every year since. This is the 14th year in Seattle and will hopefully be produced for many, many years to come. Through dance, song, brilliant colors, dramatic narration, and pageantry the story of Jesus birth unfolded before us with a beauty and intensity that I’ve never seen or heard before. Such talent! Such joy! Such energy! I worshiped Jesus that night!!

The second half of the program was a review of the immense talent of this cast as we were transported to a Gospel Church worship service. The host/narration here by both Pastor Pat Wright and Pastor Alphonso Meadows was outstanding. This portion of the program was filled with singing, dancing, and laughter – lots of laughter! A stand-out among a series of wonderful performances was the duet of ‘Ava Maria’ by Camella Recchi and Leonard Piggee. It was simply amazing.

I’m so glad that we had front row seats for this experience! I can’t wait to see it again and again year after year. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing again THIS year!

The Black Nativity appears at Seattle’s Moore Theater nighty through December 24.

I Sold Out for $4.99!

We are not major coupon clippers – just a few here and there. But when it came time to do our shopping for Thanksgiving dinner we assembled a stack of coupons and headed off to Fred Meyer in hopes of scoring a free turkey. We were pretty sure we could meet the $150 threshold required to get a frozen bird for “free.” Our strategy included a little stocking up and holding a few higher priced items ’til the end to toss in at the last moment if needed. No need. We were in great shape – coming in at about $160. So with the turkey bonus well in hand I did it. Something that I had never done before anywhere. I asked for the senior discount!

At this store seniors get an extra 10% off certain items every Tuesday in November and December. Altogether we discounted our purchases by over $60 when combined with a rewards card, store coupons, manufacturers coupons, the turkey coupon, and the senior discount. When I tallied up the individual discounts I discovered that the senior discount saved us $4.99. Hey – it’s five bucks! Nothing to sneeze at, right?

Well, maybe. But now I’ve gone public about the fact that I am 55. I voluntarily steeped into a demographic that I don’t feel at all ready for. What’s next? Senior housing? Safe driving classes? Eating off the senior’s menu? Am I going to arrange my shopping around senior discount day? Maybe I could take my parents with me! They’ve been collecting the senior discount for years.

And maybe that’s the real issue for me. Maybe that’s why I feel like I sold my soul for $4.99. I’ve become my parents. As hard as I might push back against the clock, time continues to move along. Days become decades. Children get married. Grandchildren are born. Refusing to take the senior discount won’t change that. So I will embrace my new economic windfall and ask for the senior coffee the next time I’m at McDonalds! I’ll save a seat for you.

Becoming (More) Organic

We live in an area where storm water runoff goes directly into Puget Sound. That means that stuff in our yards and streets that makes its way into the storm drain ends up in the water. Some of that stuff might include fertilizers and pesticides or petroleum products.

For years I have been an avid user of Scotts Turfbuilder fertilizer. If you are going to use a chemical fertilizer to get your lawn green and weed-free then Scotts is the only choice. If dark green, thick lawns that you have to mow at least weekly is what you want then that’s what you will get following their 4-5 applications per growing season program.

This year I decided to try organic fertilizer instead. I’ve applied it twice and this is what I’ve observed so far.

1) The lawn is green – not that deep emerald green I used to get, but green enough.

2) The lawn grows more slowly. When you’re not dumping huge amounts of nitrogen on your lawn you don’t get that overnight burst of growth.

3) I don’t have to mow the grass as often so I save time and gas.

4) I don’t have to use the grass catcher because it’s not as tall or as thick. So I save time and can mow the entire lawn without stopping.

5) Because of #4 I’m putting more organic matter back into my lawn and less into the curbside compost bin.

6) I’ve made my neighbor feel better because his lawn is darker green than mine, grows faster than mine, and needs to be mowed more often than mine. (I think I come out the winner here!)

So what started as an attempt to be kinder to the environment and have a lawn that is more natural and less toxic spun off some unintended consequences that have made my life easier. Who knew?

San Diego Restaurant Review

I recently spent 8 days in San Diego with my wife. We stayed in a downtown hotel near Little Italy and walked everywhere. Rather than give you a daily account of our urban vacation I’ll opt for a series of posts by categories. Today’s category: food!

Did I mention that we stayed near Little Italy? It’s a great district for food in San Diego. The first night we saw this line out the door of one restaurant and we figured that we had to check-out this one. Filippi’s Pizza Grotto is a San Diego tradition with locations all over San Diego. This is where it all started. A huge no frills menu just lists the traditional Italian meals – Spaghetti with meat ball, lasagna, etc. We waited over 45 minutes as the line slowly crept toward the door. Once inside we were surprised to enter this tight aisle through the deli/grocery part of the restaurant that extended the line another 20-30 ft! Being just two we got seated ahead of some larger groups. It seemed pretty obvious that we should go with the pizza – a simple green peppers and sausage version. Wow!! That was some pizza. Hot and tasty. We liked Filippi’s so well that we ate there two more times while in San Diego. It’s truly a landmark destination restaurant that should be on your San Diego ‘bucket list’ although the pasta dishes were pretty average.

Besides Filippi’s we also ate at the Burger Lounge three times – twice for their signature burger (simply amazing!) and once for the vegetable salad which we split. Burger Lounge is a very trendy stop for great gourmet burgers. At $8.95 for a burger without fries it’s not cheap fast food but cheap fast food never tasted this good. And it really looks and tastes as good as the pictures look!

We ate another dinner at Petrini’s that was also tasty but lacked some of the ambiance of other Italian restaurants in Little Italy. We wished we had eaten at more of the Little Italy signature Italian places. Other Little Italy locations that we included in our stops included a new coffee shop called Tazza D’ Oro with a great staff that was our frequent after dinner stop and Pappaleco for gelato.

In Old Town we scored a nice breakfast for $2.99 at the Old Town Mining Company, enjoyed a great lunch at Fiesta De Reyes (the best Mexican food on the trip) and stopped by the Living Room Coffee House for a late afternoon break.

In Coronado we had lunch twice – once at La Salsa (nice fresh ingredients) and once at Villa Nueva (French bakery and deli). Both restaurants are on Orange Ave.

At Balboa Park we ate on the patio at Prado. Very nice. Good selection of fresh salads and sandwiches. Really good service! This is THE restaurant of Balboa Park. I had one of the best tasting pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever had! The flat bread and humus appetizer was a nice starter.

It sounds like all we did in San Diego was eat but we enjoyed visiting this great city and exploring their many neighborhoods and attractions, too!

Where have you eaten in San Diego? What would you recommend?