How can this be happening? It’s the question many of us are asking as another story surfaces of a black man being murdered by white aggressors.

Racism is alive and well. It wasn’t abolished alongside slavery or with the civil rights movement. It doesn’t stay on the fringes or in secret meetings. It lives and breathes in the everyday systems and structures of our country. For many in the white community, this time particularly feels like a wake up call. It’s a moment of utter shock. And it should be. But for those in minority (especially black) communities, this is not a new phenomenon. Ask the families of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling (and many others). And now, in just the last few weeks we can add Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd to the list that no one wants to be on. The shock that we are feeling reveals that we have been unaware of realities that exist outside of our experience.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know how we fix this. But I do know this – we have a responsibility to move beyond hashtags. We can’t just be shocked. We can’t just post our outrage. We must do more.

For me, that begins with educating ourselves. A number of years ago I realized I had a real gap in my knowledge when it came to issues of race. As a white man, race was an issue I had the luxury to ignore. The world I had known had always leaned in my direction. I was completely unaware of systemic racism. I had no idea about prisons for profit and mass incarceration and voter suppression. I didn’t know that bird watching was enough to make someone afraid enough to call the police. I didn’t know that black mothers and fathers have “the talk” with their children that has nothing to do with birds and bees, but rather with badges and batons.

But not knowing is not ok anymore. So let this moment move you. Let it anger you. Let it shock you. But please, let it change you. You and I have contributed to a system that allows this to happen. We are not innocent bystanders. We have been unaware long enough.

Below is a list of books I’ve read over the last few years. You don’t have to use my list, but please start to learn. Start to listen.


So my blog has basically devolved into one post a year – this one right here. Enjoy this year’s version of the books that shaped me over the last 12 months.

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Rowling
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Rowling
  3. How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit – Tozer
  4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Rowling
  5. The Holy Spirit: An Introduction – Bevere
  6. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit – Chan
  7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Rowling
  8. The God I Never Knew: How Real Friendship with the Holy Spirit Can Change Your Life – Morris
  9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Rowling
  10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Rowling
  11. Servolution: Starting a Church Revolution through Serving – Rizzo
  12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Rowling
  13. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Sinek
  14. Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News – Zahnd
  15. The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction – Earley
  16. I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies: Inside the Game We All Love – Kurkjian
  17. The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life – McManus
  18. Man’s Search for Meaning – Frankl
  19. The Life-Giving Leader: Learning to Lead from Your Truest Self – Reagin
  20. Reading Romans Backwards: A Gospel of Peace in the Midst of Empire – McKnight
  21. Talking to Strangers: What we Should Know about the People We Don’t Know – Gladwell
  22. Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise – Schulze
  23. Divine Direction: 7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life – Groeschel
  24. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – Thiel
  25. Faith for Exiles: Five Ways to Help Young Christians Be Resilient, Follow Jesus, and Live Differently in Digital Babylon – Kinnaman
  26. Telling God’s Story: A Parents’ Guide to Teaching the Bible – Enns

The first part of this year I was doing a deep dive on the Holy Spirit. I really loved stretching and learning things that weren’t a part of my experience growing up. In some ways, I find it almost too perfect that I was also reading Harry Potter throughout that time. There’s something great about what fantasy does to us. Narnia, Middle Earth, Hogwarts… these fictional places open us up to the places where heaven and earth intertwine and make it possible for us to accept a God we can’t always understand.

In terms of cultural importance, I think Malcolm Gladwell’s book on Talking to Strangers was one of the most important books I read this year. He powerfully describes the mistakes we all make when passing judgment on people we meet and urges us to question our assumptions in a helpful way.

At any rate, as always you can follow me over on Goodreads if you’d like and see what I’m reading and interested in reading. See you next year!


These are the books that I read throughout the year in 2018. If you like to read and want to interact over books, you should join me over on Goodreads.

  1. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Vance
  2. The High Definition Leader: Building Multiethnic Churches in a Multiethnic World – Gray
  3. Dream With Me – John Perkins
  4. Empowering Leadership: How a Leadership Development Culture Builds Better Leaders Faster – Fletcher
  5. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups – Coyle
  6. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen – Miller
  7. The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old School Views on Success in Sports and Life – Matheny
  8. Onward: How Starbucks Fought for It’s Life Without Losing Its Soul – Schultz
  9. The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life – Ankiel
  10. A Dirty Job – Moore
  11. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church – Rachel Held Evans
  12. Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet – Itzler
  13. Paul: A Biography – NT Wright
  14. Ninety Percent Mental: An All-Star Player Turned Mental Skills Coach Reveals the Hidden Game of Baseball – Tewksbury
  15. The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper Place – Crouch
  16. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row – Anthony Ray Hinton
  17. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Brown
  18. Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money – Ramsey , Cruze
  19. The Idiot – Dostoevsky
  20. Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff – Chip Gaines
  21. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose – Hsieh
  22. Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People – Goff
  23. The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth – Heuertz
  24. Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration – Chand
  25. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World – Stanley
  26. How to Break Growth Barriers: Revise Your Role, Release Your People, and Capture Overlooked Opportunities for Your Church – George, Bird
  27. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society – Peterson
  28. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – Cron
  29. From This Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage – Groeschel
  30. I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle with Yourself – Lusko

Maybe you’re wondering about my favorite? It’s hard to say. I would say that the most impactful, meaningful book for me personally was Eugene Peterson’s “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” Eugene Peterson died this year but left an incredible dent on the world through his quiet, faithful life. I loved learning from his experience.

As always, I’d love suggestions for 2019!Facebooktwitterpinterestmail

I set some pretty lofty goals for myself in 2018. Lofty enough that I knew that for them to happen, I was going to have to be disciplined. Everything was going to have to go right and I wasn’t going to be able to get lazy or distracted. Well, I don’t know that I got lazy, but certainly other things happened that disrupted my plans. For instance, I set a goal and planned to run 750 miles in 2018. For me, that was a TON. It was going to be at least double what I had done before. I thought that I had a good plan in place. But then life changed. Less than a month after the start of the year we added a not-yet two year old to our family through fostering. I also began working outside of the home more, spending more time in the car, and leaving the house earlier to get my daughter to school. All that said, I ended up running over 560 miles. For me, a HUGE achievement. And truthfully, the pace I ended the year on over the last two months is exactly what it will take to actually reach that 750 plateau in 2019.

Similarly I set a goal to read 40 books. My usual pace is two a month – 24 for the year. I knew it would be a push for me but I set the goal and planned to figure it out through a combination of audio books, kindle, and old fashioned paper. Reading for me goes through phases. There are some phases where I read in a sprint. I can finish 4-5 books in a month. Other times, I can let one book drag for 6 weeks or so. All in all, I finished 30 books this year. Well short of my goal. But on the other hand, I can’t remember a time when I read 30 books in a single year.

So a few takeaways for me:

  1. Every goal needs a plan for accomplishing that goal.
  2. Every plan will have to be adapted. Plan to change the plan. There’s always going to be a sickness, an injury, a change of routine. How will we accomplish the goals even though the circumstances change?
  3. Celebrate the reach. While I didn’t reach the goal, I reached farther than I ever had before. That’s worth celebrating.


DSC0991629703894408_2934faf6a0_k(pictured: our moving crew, then and just last week for the 10 year reunion tour!)

A decade. Wow. 10 years ago today we packed it all up, pulled out of our driveway in Southern California and left everything we ever knew to go on the adventure we call Story Church. My daughters were 4 years old and 7 months old. My son was still just a dream. We had NO IDEA what we were doing or what we were getting ourselves into. We had some financial support, some prayer support — but not enough of either. I so quickly realized I was in over my head that I started reading voraciously. Church planting books, entrepreneurship books, leadership books. It was such a surreal time. There were so many dreams and ideas of church in my head but nothing in reality. The steps between dreaming it up and seeing it happen were so uncertain.

When I think back and try to feel or remember that time I can definitely recall lots of uncertainty, a feeling of “this is crazy!” But there was excitement. I knew we were walking in faith. It was a courageous moment. In the face of fear and the unknown, we were doing it. We had resigned a steady job and paycheck. We left family and friends and support systems behind. We only knew one person in the entire state of North Carolina. Every interaction we had was a hopeful connection.Every trip to the mailbox was expectant (did someone remember us today and send us a letter or…. Money?!?!). Every prayer was faith-filled. Some were desperate prayers.

The truth is, sometimes I really miss those first years. Today our lives are different. It doesn’t feel like we are hoping to survive anymore. We’re established. We have a wide circle of friends and contacts here. There’s a church, with a building, filled with stuff. We have a board and a staff, ministries, a Dream Team of volunteers. We have traditions. But make no mistake, this church was birthed through courage and faith. I’m so proud of that fact. We’re not yet everything I dreamed of — and that’s ok. The road has been longer and more difficult than I ever could have imagined. But’s it’s been the adventure of a lifetime. I’m so grateful for how God has provided. He’s never failed us. These ten years have been hard. painful at times. Lonely. Filled with insecurity and self-doubt. There’s been loss, failure, stress, depression even. But God hasn’t let us go. We are more blessed today than ever.

It’s impossible to imagine where the next ten years will lead us, just like I never could have imagined how these last ten years would unfold. But I’m confident that some things will forever be true: God will be faithful. He will provide. He won’t abandon us or forget us. A life of courage and faith is better than one without.Facebooktwitterpinterestmail

Black History Month

February 12, 2018 — Leave a comment

I grew up in a small community in southern CA. It was mostly white with a growing hispanic population as well. There were very few black families. I don’t know specific demographics, but if I had to guess I would put the number well south of 1% of our city.

Today I live in a city without a majority population. It’s roughly 45% white and 43% black with a collection of other ethnicities as well. I absolutely love it. I love that my daily interactions in the world are always going to include people different than me.

That being said, I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to Black History. It wasn’t exactly a topic we spent a lot of time on in my city growing up. In fact, there were very few voices in my life from people of color at all (if any?). So one of my goals the last couple of years has been to really grow in this area of my life and one of the best ways I know to do that is through reading. So here’s some of the authors I’ve been reading the last couple of years. I’d encourage you to check some of these out!

  • Rod Hairston – Cover Her (Rod’s a friend, a pastor and a real mentor to me)
  • Derwin Gray – HD Leader (former NFL player turned pastor)
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu – The Book of Joy (the funniest Archbishop you’ll ever read)
  • Lisa Sharon Harper – The Very Good Gospel (holy smokes. Incredible.)
  • John Perkins – Dream With Me (a legend in the civil rights movement)
  • Tony Dungy – Uncommon Marriage (NFL guy, commentator with an incredible ministry to dads)
  • Michelle Alexander – The New Jim Crow (One of the most important books in the world right now, in my opinion)


Well, after a whopping 2 blog posts in 2017, here’s my first of 2018 – an annual tradition for me of posting the books I’ve read in the prior year.

  1. Dare to Serve – Bachelder
  2. Art of Neighboring – Pathak
  3. Jesus Feminist – Bessey
  4. The Sabbath: It’s meaning for Modern Man – Heschel
  5. The Power of Your Words – Morris
  6. Open (Audio) – Agassi
  7. The Worship Pastor – Hicks
  8. What is the Bible? – Bell
  9. Bonhoeffer (Audio) – Metaxas
  10. Love is an Orientation – Marin
  11. Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World – Grant
  12. How’s Your Soul? – Smith
  13. Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues (Audio) – Feinstein
  14. Macbeth – Shakespeare
  15. Leading on Empty – Cordeiro
  16. Uncommon Marriage – Dungy
  17. Born Standing Up (Audio) – Martin
  18. Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike (Audio) – Knight
  19. The Book of Joy – Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu
  20. Living in the Light – Piper
  21. Finding God in the Waves (Audio) – McHargue
  22. Steve Jobs (Audio) – Isaacson
  23. The Storyteller’s Secret (Audio) – Gallo
  24. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Audio) – Tyson
  25. The Soul of Shame: Retelling the stories we believe about ourselves – Thompson
  26. The Everything Store (Audio) – Stone
  27. Meet Generation Z – White
  28. Braving the Wilderness (Audio) – Brown

This was the year of the audiobook for me. I spend a lot of time in the car apparently (and I did a lot of housework painting and installing floors!), so listening to books became a great option for me. I can’t imagine listening to books that I would really want to read carefully or take notes in, but listening to biographies or just good stories seems like a pretty good fit.

I had a goal to read more biographies this year and that ended up being the highlight for me this year. I was fascinated by Andre Agassi’s story, of Bonhoeffer, Steve Jobs, Phil Knight, Steve Martin and Jeff Bezos.

I think one of the more significant books of the year for me was “The Book of Joy.” It was fascinating to read about the secret to a joyful life from two old spiritual giants. Their friendship and joy despite (maybe because of?) their hard lives was profoundly impacting for me.

Did you read any of these? What was your favorite book of 2017? What would you recommend I read next?Facebooktwitterpinterestmail

These are just a few random things that have become a part of my life and have helped me, so I thought I’d share them with you:

1. Slack – This is an app that runs my work life communication. I can’t imagine doing what I do without it now. It has virtually eliminated email between me and my team. It’s where we share ideas, plan things together and touch base on everything from the major to the minor. We can share documents, links, photos and more.

2. A treadmill – It was this time last year that we made the big purchase. Every once in a while I’ll still go outside and run but then I remember why a treadmill is so nice. Mainly, I don’t hurt as bad. My joints and my feet thank me. I get to watch Netflix to forget that I’m running, and I get to dress the same every time – no special arctic running gear necessary. I don’t run for the joy of it like some crazy people, I run to be healthy. So anything I can do to turn a discipline into something more enjoyable is worth it to me.

3. VidAngel – Well, this app is currently not available because of some legal issues. But if it ever comes back, it’s something you should know about. It allowed us to “rent” movies via streaming for $1 each. Before watching users got the chance to filter anything they wanted to filter out of the movie. It really helped to be able to feel good about what I was showing my kids, but I appreciated the filtering option for me as well.

4. The 5 year journal – I heard about the idea of a 5 year journal on a podcast. I’ve never been able to keep the habit of journaling, mostly because I felt this pressure to write a lot. This journal has a few lines per entry. It’s a place to capture a quick thought about the day, about something I learned, a prayer, etc. I’ve found that writing in it at the end of a day works best for me. I still don’t do it every day, but it’s more than ever. And the cool thing is that you keep using the same journal for five years, so at some point I’ll start seeing past entries and what was happening in prior years on that same day. Pretty cool. (The one I purchased is by Levenger and is linked above.)

5. Podcasts – I know, it’s not anything new. But I don’t know that I understand people who don’t use these as a primary way of learning and growth. Last year I added a few that were more storytelling than anything else. I binged my way through Serial, as well as Revisionist History. But my regulars include the Relevant podcast, the Andy Stanley Leadership podcast, the Craig Groeschel Leadership podcast, The Matt Keller Leadership Channel.Facebooktwitterpinterestmail

Time to dust off the blog. This is my annual list of the books I read and a little commentary on some of the highlights.

  1.  Jesus’ Son – Johnson
  2. Our Story Begins – Wolff
  3. The Heroic Path – Sowers
  4. Defining Moments – Heath (not yet published)
  5. How to be Here – Bell
  6. The most excellent way to lead – Noble
  7. The Divine Conspiracy – Willard (re-read)
  8. Girl at the end of the world – Esther
  9. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Lencioni (re-read)
  10. The Emotionally Healthy Leader – Scazzero
  11. The Ideal Team Player – Lencioni
  12. Band of Brothers – Ambrose
  13. Addicted to Busy – Bloye
  14. The Customer Service Revolution – DiJulius
  15. I don’t care if we never get back – Blatt & Brewster
  16. Intentional Living – Maxwell
  17. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Scazzero
  18. The Very Good Gospel – Harper
  19. Rooted – Liebscher
  20. Crucial Conversations – Patterson, etc.
  21. The New Jim Crow – Alexander
  22. The Bible Tells Me So… – Enns
  23. The Pastor – Peterson
  24. When your father dies – Veerman and Barton
  25. Extreme Ownership – Willink and Babin

So many good reads here. (Speaking of goodreads, see below if you want to connect there.) The theme of the year seems to be going deeper inside myself. I read a lot about emotional health (Scazzero books), about healthy rhythms and rest (Intentional Living, Addicted to Busy, How to be Here), and about calling and purpose (Rooted, The Pastor, The Heroic Path) and ultimately about grief and understanding loss (When Your Father Dies).

I love to read leadership books and this year was no exception. Probably my favorite in that department was a less traditional leadership book – Band of Brothers. I had finally watched the show by the same name this year on Netflix and so reading the book was me wanting more. I gleaned so much from the real life examples of this incredible group of men.

I tried to be intentional this year in learning and growing in my understanding of injustice. I’ve only just begun that journey but I was so moved by The New Jim Crow and The Very Good Gospel. The first was an incredibly eye-opening journey into inequality and injustice in current day America and the second was a more theological journey. Both have left a lasting impression on me.

I think my favorite book I read this year was “The Pastor.” It was written by Eugene Peterson (The Message translation author). It’s a memoir of his life and calling and the ways he wrestled with the role God gave him as a pastor. It’s packed full of wisdom from a man who has done this a very long time. I’m deeply grateful for his wisdom and insight and will come back to it a lot I’m sure.

So there’s the list. What would you recommend I put on my list for 2017?

**Connect with me on GoodReads here.Facebooktwitterpinterestmail

Some Monday mornings I wake up and wonder “Did I really say that yesterday?” Usually it’s more of a situation where I wish I had made my point clearer, or maybe not said that one joke that seemed to bomb. And then there’s today.

Yesterday at STORYCHURCH I shared the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Somewhere during the message I went out of my way to make the point that the Sunday school song and story we had all learned about the little boy offering his lunch was, in fact, not real. In my preparation for the message I read through Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s account of the story and the boy is nowhere to be found.

But then this morning…. I started having doubts. Something seemed… fishy. A very quick (embarrassingly quick) google search pointed me to that pesky fourth gospel writer – John.

John 6:8-9
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

So there you have it. That dang little boy. Right there in John. With his five loaves and his two fish and his puppy dog eyes.


So here I am on a Monday morning, thankful for grace and laughing at myself. Hope that gives you a little laugh today as well!Facebooktwitterpinterestmail