Monday, May 21, 2012

Be a part of the awesomeness!

I'm super excited about our Give Clean Water "Change the World Event" in July. We'll be holding our first golf tournament/walking event to raise funds for the great work we're doing in Fiji. To date, Give Clean Water has given clean drinking water to over 38,000 people. We'll surpass the 40,000 mark in two weeks!

If you've kept up with my blog, or gone on a trip to Fiji with Give Clean Water, you know first hand what an awesome impact we're having on the poorest of the poor in Fiji! With every filter we install, a family's life is changed forever. No longer do they have to worry about getting sick from their poor water supply. Bacterial diseases like typhoid fever and dysentery are eliminated with our state of the art water filter from Sawyer.

What really sets Give Clean Water apart is our follow up process. Using our GCW staff, community leaders, village head men, and Ministry of Health workers, our follow up process leads us to our goal of a lifetime of clean drinking water for every family who receives a filter. We document all our install and follow ups!

I'm trying to raise $2,500 for our "Change the World Event". I'd love it if you would consider making a donation in my name for this great cause! Our goal is to give everyone in Fiji clean drinking water in the next 10 years. With your help, we can reach that goal together!

Here is a link to my fundraising page. Come change the world with me!

http://championevents.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=8312




Sunday, May 20, 2012

Give Clean Water and the Volcom Fiji Pro

I am so stoked that Give Clean Water is partnering with Volcom and Tavarua Island to provide clean drinking water filters for 2 villages and 2 schools in Fiji during this year's Fiji Pro surf contest. The event will feature the top surfers in the world at one of the elite surf spots in the world. During the holding pattern of the contest, the surfers, sponsors, event staff, and the Give Clean Water staff will provide 140 families with clean drinking water filters!

Volcom and Tavarua Island have a rich tradition of giving back to the world. Their efforts in sustainable, eco-friendly projects are leading the way in the surf industry! What a perfect partnership for Give Clean Water!

During the event, you can log on to the Volcom website to keep up to date with all the latest news from the event. You might even catch us in the villages!

I'll keep you posted with lots of pics from the event!

Of course, if you'd like to be a part of changing the world with us, you can make a donation on the Give Clean Water website.

What if you could change the world?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Free Hands-On Photo Class at this spot...

This Saturday morning, May 5th, 6:30am, I'll be teaching a free hands-on photo class from this spot in Coronado, California. We'll learn how tell our cameras what to do to capture shots like this. This photo was taken from the spot of the class.

If you are in San Diego, come join us. Once you cross the Coronado bridge, make your first right. At the first stop sign, make a right and take that street back to the parking lot where the park is. Walk towards the Coronado bridge and you will see a bunch of row boats on the shore. That is where we'll meet.

Bring a tripod if you have one. See you there!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Standing By in Anticipation

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. Our teaching team at Newbreak is going to talk about miracles. We'll be in a really cool passage that anticipates what God can do in our lives.

Tomorrow night I get to speak at God's Extended Hand to the Homeless, and Friday night at the San Diego Rescue Mission. As I anticipate all the people there in need of God's life-changing power, I can't help but think...how many miracle stories are going to be written in the lives of those at GEH, the SDRM, and Newbreak this weekend?

Standing by in anticipation...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Forward Thinking

Wednesdays are always full of forward thinking. On any given Wednesday, I've got at least 3 different sermons to go through. Our team works on the message for this weekend, creates an outline for a message 6 to 8 weeks away, and plans big ideas for messages 14 weeks out and further.

This afternoon was quite fascinating. Not only did we do the above mentioned things, but we planned out our sermon series ideas from September 2012 through August 2013! We all brought in ideas for different series' and planned out the calendar. It was an amazing process!

I have to say...it is such a privilege serving as a pastor at Newbreak Church. Our staff is full of some of the most talented, dedicated, and fun people around! Pastor Mike told me before I started working at Newbreak that we'd have a blast working together for the Kingdom of God. He wasn't kidding! I'm so blessed to be part of such a great staff!

So as my head is spinning with more sermon series ideas than my little brain can hold, I'm going to bed knowing that the rest of 2012 and 2013 are going to be amazing times in the life of our church! We will continue to shake the planet with God's love! It's the kind of forward thinking that we could never pull off on our own, but we know we'll never wear out God's capacity to do great things! He'll supply whatever is needed...just like he always does!

Are you ready for a great planet shaking journey with God?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Full Circle

Sorry for the week long break from blogging.

Yesterday was a great "full circle" day for me. I written a few times about my homeless friends who are no longer homeless. One of my favorite guys in the world, Michael, is doing great! He's been working for a special events business that specializes in hot dog, cotton candy, pop corn, funnel cake and other vending carts. They do lots of events around town and work and have been known to work the NASCAR circuit.

Michael worked for 30 years as an electrician, but dropped off the map of life for about 8 years. Well...he's back on the map now. He's the warehouse maintenance man and keeps all the cart in working order. He loves his job, and he loves the place where he lives! God has done a miracle in his life! The guy that owns the business is a real gift from God too!

Yesterday I called Michael up and asked him if he wanted to go to lunch. I was in the area and thought it would be fun to catch up. I picked him up and we went to Denny's...that's where he wanted to go. When the bill came, he picked up the check and said "I'm buying your lunch today! I've got a whole pocket full of money!" I can't tell you what a cool moment that was. Not because I got a free lunch, but because Michael was so proud to be able to buy it! He was so proud of the fact that he earned every dollar.

The process of watching Michael grow from where he was when I met him, to where he is now, has been a roller coaster. But as time has gone by, the good days now way outnumber the bad days for Michael. Almost every day is now amazingly good!

Don't ever give up on those you love! God is always working and it's worth the wait to see the miracle that will unfold!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In the Presence of Greatness

Not always do you get the opportunity to be in the presence of greatness. Tonight, my good buddy Patrick invited me to a drum clinic with Bernard Purdie, a living legend known as "the world's most recorded drummer." He was Aretha Franklin's drummer for 25 years and played with James Brown, B.B. King, Steely Dan, and Joe Cocker...just to name a few. He and legendary harmonica player Rob Paparozzi...B.B. King, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, and Whitney Houston...put on quite a clinic.

Rob Paparozzi, Me, Bernard Purdie
Bernard was an amazing showman, super funny, and such a solid, grooving drummer. It was 2 1/2 hours of awesomeness if you were a musician!

Tonight was great, but it was nothing compared to this weekend, when you all will get a chance to get a glimpse of true greatness! No living legend could possibly compare to the one you could meet this weekend! This weekend is Easter and the living legend of all living legends will be at a church service waiting for you to be there. His name is Jesus!

I was super stoked my friend brought me to the drum clinic tonight. If he wouldn't have invited me, I would have missed it. The same thing goes for your friends this weekend. If you don't invite them to Easter services wherever you are, they will miss out on a life clinic beyond compare...an opportunity to experience the Savior of the world...an opportunity to maybe begin a relationship with Him...an opportunity for their life to finally make sense and have freedom, forgiveness, and purpose!

Invite your friends to be in the presence of greatness this weekend! Text them, email them, or call them right now. If you haven't been invited as you read this, then let me invite you to attend a church service wherever you are. If you are in San Diego, come to one of our 13 services at Newbreak Church!

Make it a priority to put yourself in the presence of greatness this weekend!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sold...but here's the deal...

Today was a day of closure for Sheri and I. We both like closure! But getting closure on something doesn't always mean you get what you were praying for.

A few weeks ago, we got the wild idea to sell our condo. Our HOA fees were going up dramatically and we didn't really like it. So...we called up our good friend Danny Davis, our Realtor over the past 12 years. Danny had sold both our previous houses in 1 day for full value. He also got us into new houses for the best value. We thought...let's try this.

Well, sure to his epic form, Danny listed our house on a Tuesday, and we sold it the next day! Three for three!... Plus he totally got top dollar again! We thought we were on our way. We had decided to rent a place for a while until we could settle on a new one. We have always felt we'd eventually end up more North, closer to our Mira Mesa Newbreak campus.

So we found a rental, close to where my office is located. It was perfect! The landlord was awesome! The only thing left to do was to have our appraisal done. We did that and continued to pray...and wait...and pray more...and wait more. The deal made sense, but "short sales" in our condo complex were pulling the comps down. So we prayed with great faith for the deal to go through, then waited some more.

Today, we got the news that the appraisal came in too low to make a deal. There was a brief sadness, but that was quickly replaced by great peace. Sheri and I figured that if we had so many Godly people praying for this deal to happen and it still didn't, God must have something amazing for us in our future. We have no idea what it is, but we are confident He does!

When God gives His final answer, it may not be what we like, but ultimately this is about HIS plans and purposes, not ours! His plans are perfect, and though we don't understand them, they will all make sense some day. So...life goes on...but not in a mediocre kind of way. It's a thrilling way in which we will anticipate the great things God has in store for us in our future!

Tonight, we will rest well. Tomorrow we'll wake up the same way we did today...looking forward to an amazing Easter weekend!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Waiting

Tom Petty said it best..."The waiting is the hardest part."

It's the Passion week leading up to Easter. What were the disciples thinking that week after Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? I can just imagine their anticipation that Jesus would become a great king like David. He would, but not in the way they thought. They had to wait and trust.

I can imagine when Jesus told his disciples that he must die and be raised from the dead on the third day, they were a little confused. When Friday came and he died, the wait till he rose on Sunday must have been full of all kinds of thoughts...some faith filled ones...some not so faith filled ones...but they waited and trusted.

It was on Sunday that their faith became sight. They SAW Jesus raised from the dead! Three days that seemed like forever became worth the wait when Jesus rose from the dead and PROVED he was the Son of God!

Our lives are similar to Jesus' disciples. Sometimes we have to wait and trust. We wait as we pray for family members to find a relationship with Jesus. We wait for that new job that takes forever to get. We wait for that new house that gets tied up in mortgage red tape. It seems like we're always waiting for something or someone!

But just because others are slow, it doesn't mean God is! He's always right on time! While the waiting IS the hardest part for us, God already has it all figured out. So pray, wait, and trust in Him.

What are you waiting for the Easter season?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Unexpected Blessing!

Last week when I was in Mexico, we were just finishing up stuccoing one of the houses we built during the week. As we were getting ready to dedicate the house to God and present the keys to the family, I walked around the corner and saw the coolest sight. There was a shadow of a cross on the house. I ran and got my camera and snapped this pick. It was such a great reminder of God's love for the family receiving this house...an unexpected blessing in my day.

If you look around, there are all kinds of blessings in our days. Take time to notice them...especially the unexpected ones!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pavement and the Bumpy Road

Today I got back from 4 days in Mexico with Amor ministries. It was a very good few days. I got to be a part of helping hundreds of volunteers build houses for 25 impoverished families. It was very good for my soul!

As I was driving around this week I got to see lots of interesting things. My back definitely took a pounding on the dirty, back roads of the poor communities in which we were serving. Every time I got to a paved road, I was thankful. I thought I'd share a little video with you to show you what I mean.

video

Don't forget to be thankful when you get to drive on the pavement of life!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Development at the Mission

Last night was a great night at the San Diego Rescue Mission... 150 guys worshiping God with all their hearts! It was awesome! I got to speak after worship and it was just one of those nights where I really felt the guys were connecting with God and His word.

It's great seeing familiar faces each month as our team serves the 4th Friday. There is a whole bunch of them ready to graduate from their one year program... more success stories of how God is transforming their lives! It just doesn't get any better than seeing a bunch of guys who used to be strung out and homeless who are now sober, and with purpose in their lives!

If you live in San Diego, you'll have to come with us some time. If you live outside San Diego, you should check out a Rescue Mission in your area and get involved some how. It's totally worth it!

I wanted to let you guys know that I won't be blogging from Sunday night to Thursday of this coming week. I'll be taking a few days of vacation time. I'll be back Friday ready to share again!

Thanks for all the kind words from those of you who are following my blog!

In the mean time, check out my photography website at www.tropicalphotosbylarson.com.

See you Friday!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Listening and Recklessness

Listening for God's voice is critical as we navigate through life. He may speak to us through His Word, someone giving us wise Godly counsel, opening or shutting certain doors, or other methods. God has lots of resources at His disposal. Once we hear from Him, we must be careful to not become reckless in our journey.

I was reading the story of Balaam in Numbers 22. I love this story! It's kind of like a scene out of Shrek, where a donkey does some serious talking, trying to keep Balaam from reckless destruction. You see Balaam initially listened to God, but after listening, he was about to be reckless. While the donkey was protecting Balaam from his recklessness, Balaam beat his donkey 3 times. You'll need to read the whole story in Chapter 22 and 23 to get the whole idea.

My favorite two verses are verse 20 and 32.

Numbers 22:20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you."

Numbers 22:32 The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.

Now here is a good word from God..."Do only what I tell you...and don't be reckless." Seriously...that would save us so much trouble if we could just get that right! Ultimately Balaam gets it right...he listens to God...he only does what God says...and he stays steady, not reckless in the process. The result is that God blesses Israel.

So as we learn from Balaam...Listen to God, do only what He tells you, and don't be reckless. It will save us a bunch of grief.




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cool New Gadgets

I came across a few new gadgets that look cool. Thought I'd pass them on to you.

The Optrix HD Sport case transforms your iPhone 4S/4/iPod into an HD action sports camera. It's like a Hero cam in iPhone format.


The Flashpoint 500 is a hard drive/memory card reader in one. Great for the field or trips.








Best Electric Razor ever! The Panasonic Arc 4! Smooth and closer than a blade!

Kind of random, but kind of cool. I can't help the nerdy, gadget side of me from coming out every once in a while.

See you tomorrow.

What does my team look like?

Stepping out in audacious faith to do something can be a mix of emotions...scary, exciting, discouraging, thrilling. It doesn't matter if you are switching jobs or going on a mission trip to another country, the unknown is not for the faint of heart.

That's why it's important to have a group of people who will be there with you in the process. You'll need people praying for you, and giving you wise counsel along the way. You'll need strong people of faith in your life. They will be the ones who will be a part of your encouragement team. I like that team! They are helpful to the process.

There will also be a group of people looking to be a part of your journey who are not so helpful. It seems like every audacious faith journey is filled with at least a few people who think you need a discouragement team. In their own weird way, they might think they are doing you a favor. When they speak, they want their world of fear to become yours. They'll be the ones who try and talk you out of going somewhere on a mission trip because they are afraid to go. They are not so helpful to the process.

Although others may choose to live their lives in fear, God never has that plan for us. So...let God help you build your team of faith...and minimize, tolerate, smile, and speak God's potential into team fearful.


Living a life of audacious faith is way more fun and fulfilling!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Prepping For The Experience

I was in college when I was challenged with a new thought. Would I continue to just show up to church on the weekend, most of the time straggling in late, visiting with a few friends, and slowly focusing in on the message? You see, this is what I had done since I was a little kid. Hey...at least I was there, I thought.

I remember when the idea was passed on to me that I was about to have an encounter...an experience with Almighty God on the weekend. I was about to spend time with the One who created the heavens and the earth, who forgave me, and saved me from my brokenness. Would that be something I would ever take lightly again?

What if I spent time preparing for my weekend worship encounter (church service) in advance... one hour, or even a few dedicated minutes? What if I would dare to get there early, eagerly anticipating my experience with God? I guess the thought never really occurred to me until then. But that challenge was a life changer for me. From then on, I vowed I would prep myself for the worship experience on the weekend. 

I realized that I had really been treating what we commonly call, "worship time" (music), kind of like the "warm up act" for the message (sermon). For much of my life, I had not prioritized meeting with and experiencing God during the entire church service. I must have thought that it was really "only about the message."

Boy, was I missing out! From that day on, I began putting a high priority on the whole worship experience. The time I spent before a church service took on a whole new look. I was very aware that I was about to encounter Almighty God with a community of people who were there to do the same thing. Prepping for the worship experience took it from an event, to an encounter. It was much more fulfilling. 

So my challenge to you is the same one that was given to me...will your church service this weekend be an event, or an encounter? Prep for the experience and be amazed!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

FREE Photography Class

For all of you photo enthusiasts, I wanted to let you know about a FREE digital photography class next Thursday night, March 22nd, 6:30pm at Hage Elementary School in Mira Mesa. Hage is located at: 9750 Galvin Avenue, San Diego, CA 92126.


The class will be taught by a good buddy and photography mentor of mine, Fred Greaves. Fred is an award winning photographer who will teach you all about your camera. He'll help you get your camera out of the "Auto" mode and really start capturing some great images.


As a follow up to the class, you'll be able to sign up for a free 2 hour photo shoot at La Jolla Cove with me. We'll take what Fred teaches us into the field for some "hands-on" practice.


Spread the word! Bring a friend! Let's have some fun with our cameras!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Here's My Sign

In the life of a homeless person, their sign is their job. "I'm going to work" means I'm going to run my sign. And let's just say, if they can stay on a corner for a couple of hours without being run off, they can rake in some great money.
 
But when life transformation starts to knock at their door, their sign can become their crutch. Guys I know who have been in the San Diego Rescue Mission had a hard time with the idea of getting rid of their sign. It was always something to fall back on.
 
Today, I received a call from my buddy who recently got a new job, and a new place to live. When he told me he threw his sign away, my jaw hit the floor! I couldn't believe it! Even though a new sign is just a piece of cardboard and a Sharpie away, this was a big moment in his life. The new life that God has given him just keeps getting better. Getting rid of his sign was his way of embracing God's blessing of forgiveness and life transformation.
 
For many of us, we may not have a cardboard sign, but we have our own crutches. They are the things that keep us trapped in our past or present, and keep us from the kind of life transformation God has for us right now. The truth is, God has taken care of our past, wants to meet us in our present, and transform our future. This truth takes on radical new meaning when we come before Him and say, "Here's my sign."
 
What sign are you still holding on to? Don't let it define you any longer. Let God define you! His sign says, "You are amazing because I made you amazing!"
 
 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The pieces of the puzzle

I've been with our pastors and directors for a couple of days of planning for our church. We have such an awesome staff at Newbreak! This is going to be an great rest of the year!

I want to share a idea from our lead pastor. He was speaking of our faith journey being like a big puzzle box. If you've ever put a puzzle together you know that it's way easier to put it together if you have the box cover. That's where you'll find the picture of what the puzzle should look like. 

Here is the idea: Jesus has the box cover, we have the puzzle pieces. Most of the time we can't see the box cover, but by faith we still have to put the pieces of the puzzle of life together. Sometimes it takes a quite a while to figure out how all the pieces fit together. It can even be very frustrating!

As we walk in faith and continue to put the pieces together, we start to get an idea of what the finalized puzzle will look like. We begin to see clarity take shape.

The great news is that Jesus totally knows what the puzzle will look like. Not only is He holding the box cover, but He created the picture on the box cover! We can take great comfort in that, especially when we experience times in our lives when the puzzle pieces just don't seem to be going together well. 

In those times, remember this is only a puzzle to us! God holds the box cover!

 

Heart first...Head second

I was with our worship pastor and some of our church staff today and we were talking about worship. He spoke of a worship concept that really made me think, and I totally agreed with it.

 

I tend to be a very calculated person. It's a part of my wiring to care about details, sometimes to a fault. One of my biggest challenges toward being more versatile is learning to be more spontaneous. So what our worship pastor shared was definitely something I'd like to grow into and champion.

 

Here's what he challenged us with..."in worship, let the first draft come from the heart and let the second draft come from the head." What he meant was that we tend to get this the other way around. We tend to think about worship in a calculated way first, then try to get our heart into it. Today's worship experience with our staff was a challenge to let the first draft come from our hearts, from a spontaneous place where we could simply meet God where we were at. 

 

I have to tell you...for a calculated person like me, this was a challenge, but it was very liberating! A core value of mine is to strive to live a life of balance, not letting the pendulum swing to far in either direction. I know my heart still has room to move toward more spontaneity and I will look forward to the journey of meeting God in that place.

 

Heart first...head second.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tough Love...Victory!

Last week I wrote about a tough love situation where I helped a homeless guy...a friend of mine I've been journeying with for the last 4 years. You can see my previous post for the details of my tough love situation.

 

It's only been a week of clean and sober for him, but there was a huge break through before the weekend. He actually was offered a job and a place to stay. The job was for a maintenance position for a event vendor here in town. His first job was fixing all the electrical problems in their warehouse. My buddy was super excited because before he was homeless, he was a journeyman electrician for almost 30 years. This guy totally knows his stuff. Over time though, he had lost confidence in himself. 

 

Well, he totally amazed the owner of the company when he installed a brand new breaker panel, and fixed a bunch of the vendor stands. He did such a great job that he was offered a permanent job! Plus, there is a small apartment inside the warehouse my buddy gets to live in. 

 

The greatness of this is, this is the first time in 8 years he's actually worked a real job instead of holding a sign on the street corner. This is the first time he's live in anything besides a tent under a bush...besides when he stays at my house, and his time in the San Diego Rescue Mission. Development is starting to manifest itself.

 

This is the forth homeless person who has come to our church, and is now mainstreamed back into society with a real job and a home to live in. That is super cool! It makes all the effort worth it. God is totally changing their lives and it's amazing. So I write this to celebrate with each of you who has played a part in this recovery situation. Your consistent love and prayers have made a difference! 

 

Never quit loving and praying!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Poverty Alleviation

Another segment from a great book on helping the poor...When Helping Hurts

The goal of poverty alleviation is not to make the materially poor all over the world into upper class North Americans, a group characterized by high rates of divorce, sexual addiction, substance abuse, and mental illness. Nor is the goal to make sure that the materially poor have enough money.

Rather, the goal is to restore people to a full expression of humanness, to being what God created us all to be, people who glorify God by living in right relationships with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Epic Day... Guess and Win

My wife and I are getting a jump on our day off tomorrow. I love it when our days off line up together. I LOVE living in San Diego. 


First person to guess what beach we're at wins a print of your choice (up to 12X18) from my website www.tropicalphotosbylarson.com.

One guess per person. You must guess in the comments section of my blog. I'll announce the winner in my next blog.

Good luck. Have an Epic San Diego day tomorrow!

 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Promise

31 years ago today, I was a freshman at a Jr. College in my hometown of Oceanside, California. I had met a girl that swept me off my feet. Even though we were young, I knew this girl was worth waiting for. So, on March 7th, 1980, I gave a girl named Sheri, a promise ring. What I wanted her to know was that I was committing my life towards the journey of falling more in love with her every day. I knew that some day she'd be my wife.

That year, I went away to Texas to college and we continued to dedicate ourselves to each other. College presented many opportunities to date other girls, but I didn't. I knew I had the right one and I didn't want to do anything to mess that up. During the times we apart for 3 1/2 years, we literally wrote each other letters every single day. We never missed! Here is just one box of the letters I wrote to her.

I have to say, after all these years of being with her, my love for her just keeps getting stronger. She is absolutely my best friend and I love spending every moment I can with her. She is the most amazing, loving, thoughtful, selfless, caring, devoted person I've ever met. Every day I thank God for her!

I may not get everything right in my life, but 31 years ago when I said "I Promise"...I totally got that right! I love you Sheri!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tough Love

One of the hardest things in working with the homeless is the slow pace in which progress seems to come. How does one share hope and change with someone who has lived their whole life running from responsibility and living in addiction?

From a big picture view, you can see the changes that took someone from "most every day was bad" to "most every day is pretty good." But the day-to-day journey is filled with much frustration.

As relationships develop, consistency, boundaries, and tough love must go hand in hand. Quick types of relief like some spare change, a warm shower, or a night out of the cold, must ultimately transition into rehabilitation and development. If not, those things will only temporarily revive the addict for brief amounts of time, usually making them feel 6 foot 10 and bullet proof. They will always believe that they've had their last drink, only to be thrust back into surroundings that breed more failures. The cycle never seems to end. But I have to remember that God created them for way more than this! So, I keep speaking this into them until the light bulb turns on in their lives.

This week, I picked up a guy who was in pretty bad shape, gave him a hot shower, and a warm bed for the night. Though he had not taken a drink in 24 hours, the effects of alcohol poisoning were taking its toll. It's hard to watch a guy with cold sweats and the shakes, but it's all a part of the process of healing. The tough love part was sending him back to his home...a tent down by the river...while he was still withdrawing. Although I wanted to keep him, I knew that wasn't the best thing for him. What he really needs is to check into a recovery program that will help him with counseling, job training, and the ability to become all God has created him to be. This week, he wasn't ready to do that.

The good news was, he called me today and was feeling much better and thanked me. He is talking like he is close to seeking the help he needs...checking into the San Diego Rescue Mission. Until he's ready for that, I'll keep being his friend, dispensing God's love, but being OK with tough loving him towards the healing he needs. Maybe next week will be his week!

Who will you speak God's love and purpose into this week? It doesn't have to be a homeless guy, but someone in your life needs to hear it. Maybe this will be their week!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Pocket camcorder reviews

I can't believe how much video camcorders have improved and changed over my lifetime. OK...so I'm going to play the old card now. When I got married, I remember the "state-of-the-art" camcorder was a big shoulder model with VHS tape. The quality then was considered good, but if you look at it now, it was pathetic! Seriously, I think the Fisher Price model could out do it now.

As technology improves, the cost of shooting high quality video keeps dropping. I'm going to do my best to review a couple of pocket camcorders currently on the market...Sony's Bloggie Touch, and Samsung's w200. Both are $99 models capable of shooting 1080p HD. I must start out by saying...just because something shoots 1080p, doesn't mean the quality is going to be awesome! The awesome factor has everything to do with the size of the sensor in the camcorder. The same goes for a camera. Just because you have a lot of megapixels, doesn't mean you'll have quality images. The smaller the sensor, the less the quality.

Both the Sony Bloggie, and the Samsung w200 have small sensors. The Bloggie has a touch screen on back, and comes with 4gb of flash memory (not expandable). There is also an 8gb model. It claims it can shoot 2 hours of video at 720p. The Bloggie is smaller in size than the w200, but has a larger screen than the Samsung model.

Although the Samsung w200 has a more rugged and larger body, much of that is due to the fact that it is waterproof up to 10 feet. This would make for a great pool or snorkeling camcorder. There is a white balance setting for underwater too.

In head-to-head outdoor video shooting, the Samsung is richer in color. Both have image stabilization and do a pretty good job with that. In low light shooting, the Samsung is still richer in color. The Bloggie did a poor job with color in low light. The Samsung also uses a micro SD card so you don't have to worry about running out of memory, as long as you have enough memory cards.

After shooting both, I choose the Samsung over the Sony. Easier menu options, micro SD memory, waterproof, and richer color make it my winner. Both are available at Costco.

I have to say that my Canon s95 point and shoot camera does an even better job with video, as does my iPhone. But if you need a cheap, waterproof option, the Samsung w200 can be a great choice.

Happy videoing!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Camera Awesome!

Yesterday, I got a message from SmugMug telling me about an awesome new FREE app for my iPhone. It's called "Camera Awesome" and it is just that! Camera Awesome takes your photos to the next level by shooting fast, and taking better, exposed shots.

It has a built in level for leveling your horizons. You can adjust focus and exposure separately. You have 1 tap sharing to your favorite social media sites. There are special effects, an "Awesomize" button for auto correcting, and a cool video feature...so cool you'll have to check it out for yourself. There's even more than this!


Did you miss it the first time? This is a FREE app. So what are you waiting for? I'm not sure if this comes in a Droid app, but I'm sure it will soon.

There is one more phone camera app that I love. It's called SnapSeed. It's a very powerful little app. It comes in iPhone and Droid versions, and was just released for Windows.

Have fun making awesome photos and videos with your phone!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Unlikely Hero

Last night in my life group we were talking about how God wants to use our time, talent, and treasure to build His kingdom. We talked about which one was the easiest to give, and which one was the most difficult to give. The answers covered all the possibilities, but there was one thing that was common. We all had something in which we felt we didn't have enough.

We looked at a story in the Bible where Jesus did one of His most amazing miracles. He fed 5,000 people from a little boy's happy meal. Now really it was more like 20,000 because Matthew records that there were 5,000 men, besides women and children. No matter what, it was a ton of people.

Not much was said about the unlikely hero of the story, except that he had a 1st century happy meal, and he was willing to give it to Jesus so he could do some big-time math. But it struck me that the unlikely hero was a little boy...not Jesus' disciples, not someone important in the crowd, not the owner of the local market, just a little boy.

From the little boy's perspective, what could he possibly do to satisfy everyone's hunger? It seemed like a drop in the bucket with his little lunch. But he didn't let the smallness of his lunch keep him from doing something that he could do. He could for sure share what he had. He was cool with letting Jesus do the rest. You see, Jesus is really good at multiplication! We do the simple math, He does the complicated multiplication.

So, what do you have that God might use to build His kingdom? Time? Talent? Treasure? It may not seem like much to you, but when you give it to Jesus, He can turn it into a big time multiplication miracle...with leftovers!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fighting the Funk

It's going to happen. No matter who we are, there will be times in our lives where we get into a funk. Our motivation takes a back burner and we just get funky.

I find that most times when I am most like this, it's because I haven't built exercise into my schedule. Isn't it weird that the more you don't exercise, the worse you feel, the less you are motivated to go to the gym, and you just start feeling funky.

The opposite is true too. The more you exercise, the better you feel, and the more motivated your are to keep exercising. That's because when you exercise, your body produces endorphins that cause your body to feel good.

Usually my exercise cycle gets broken by too busy of a schedule, or catching a cold or something. I'll be cruising along, working out, and feeling great...then something comes along to break my rhythm and and I skip a few days. It doesn't take long before the funk sets in...I don't feel like working out...and the funk goes on.

I learned a long time ago that when I begin to feel like this, I have to push myself past my "lack of desire" and just go workout! Immediately I start to feel better! It's a discipline thing.

Can anyone relate to this?

For more ideas on "Fighting the Funk", check out this blog.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Relax and charge your batteries...

Today was going to be a day of relaxing...quiet time with God early this morning, an allergy doctor appointment at 9am, then off for a day of visiting with my dad, and my wife's mom in Oceanside. I decided to grab my camera before I left. I new it was supposed to rain, but sometimes storms can produce some great photo opps.


One of the things I always do before I take my camera is check my batteries to make sure they are charged. Not today however, and when I got to my dad's house, my camera batteries were completely dead. You know it's impossible to take a photo without your batteries charged.

The good news was, I actually did have a good relaxing day off. The bad news was, it would have been more fun if I had paid attention and charged my batteries before I went out.

Life and my camera have a lot in common. Relax and re-charge your batteries, then go out and create and capture an awesome memory. It doesn't work the other way around!

A word of advice...Don't leave your batteries sitting in the charger too long after they are charged. They won't do you any good in there. They were meant for action and purpose...just like us!


Friday, February 24, 2012

This is how we change the world


I've been working for a while with our global mission's team at Newbreak to define who we are, and where we are going in the next 10 years. I have to tell you...I'm super excited! With God's help, we will be a part of some amazing ministry!
Here is what we're about: Capturing and connecting people to God's global heart.
We're committed to living out the heart of God in sustainable, justice seeking missions, with a cultural sensitivity and adaptability that will eternally change our world
We have some God sized goals. 10K in 10 years is Newbreak Church's drive towards eradicating social injustices around the world.
10K families in Fiji receive clean drinking water.
10K children rescued from sex trafficking.
10K children educated in Latin America.
10K houses built for the homeless.
10K families receive the Bible in their own language.
Let's change the world together! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Easy Panoramic Photos

I love panoramic photos! There are many ways to make them. Some cameras have built in stitching that pieces different shots together into one panoramic photo. Some software can do this as well. One of the easiest ways to do it is take a regular shot and crop it to a panoramic measurement.

Here is a shot I took of the OB pier in San Diego. I liked the look of the pier, but there was a lot of plain sky and plain water, so I decided to crop it into a panoramic photo. I liked the result. I had this one printed from my website on metallic paper and it really popped!

You should give it a try some time.





Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Afraid of the crosswalk?

Everyone lives by faith every day. By faith, a person walks up to a crosswalk, presses the crosswalk button, and crosses the street when the light turns green. Besides maybe looking left or right, nobody gives much thought about crossing. We just do it and assume that we'll make it across safely.

Now here is an interesting fact. In 2009, 4378 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents, mostly in crosswalks. 69,000 pedestrians were injured in traffic crashes. 80% of those were in crosswalks. A pedestrian is injured in a traffic accident every 8 minutes. With those kinds of statistics, you'd think nobody would ever want to cross the street. I'm surprised there is not a National Travel Advisory to not cross the street. Yet...people keep living in faith every day and crossing.

Why does this matter? There are lots of places in the world that have problems with crime, including our own city of San Diego. Every night there are shootings, car jackings, gang violence, burglaries, and more. Yet, San Diego is one of the best places to live and visit in the world. If people were freaked out by the news, nobody would ever come to San Diego, or any other big city.

The truth is...San Diego is a big place, and most parts are perfectly safe to travel in. There are certain parts and times of the day where you use more caution, but in general, one moves very safely in the city. Now imagine the whole USA. You can move very freely and safely in most of the USA. We live by faith every day on this fact.

So why is it that a giant country like Mexico gets a bad rap. Yes, Mexico has big cities just like the US where crime happens, but most of the country is fine to travel through. Ask my buddies who rode their bikes across Mexico last year. They said the people were awesome!

Now take a big city like Tijuana. It's as big as San Diego county. Does Tijuana have crime? Yes...just like San Diego. But Tijuana is a BIG place! I just got back from a mission trip to Tijuana and I still had people tell me they couldn't believe I'd go there. When I hear that, my reaction is always...really?...I do it all the time and never have a problem.

For me, Mexico is my crosswalk. I look at the crosswalk, push the button, and walk across the street. Thousands of times... never an incident... it's about faith, not fear. We all do it every day if you think about it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Did you earn the right...?

This past weekend as we drove up to the work site where we would build a new house for an impoverished Mexican family, we were greeted by one of the local Mexican Pastors who works with Amor Ministries. Pastor Haros was pulling off the concrete forms from the slab that he and a few others had poured the day before. Martha, the single mom who owned the property, and her two little girls looked on in eager anticipation for the rest of the house to be built.

Martha, Alexa, & Daniela
The house we were building for Martha was a gift from the local church in Mexico. Pastor Haros had recently visited the community to identify families who were in the most need of a house. Martha's family met the criteria. Now...she would be the recipient of a new house...free of charge...from the church in her neighborhood. Pastor Haros told her about a group from the US who would build her house. What Martha didn't realize, was that Pastor Haros would come back and pour the foundation for her new house.

It was quite amazing to me that Pastor Haros was not only laying a spiritual foundation for Martha's family, but also laying a physical foundation for her family's house. Martha's first memory of her neighborhood church was of a man of God who didn't just talk about God's love, but he first demonstrated it. Pastor Haros was "earning the right to be heard." That was inspiring to me!

Each of us would do well to follow in the steps of Pastor Haros. Will we be the ones who will not only speak of God's love to someone this week, but we'll model it as well? What foundation will you lay in someone's life?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekend Transformation

I just got back a couple of hours ago from a weekend trip to Tijuana, Mexico. Twenty people from our church loaded up tools, tents, sleeping bags, and a few days of clothes so we could build a house for a single mom and her two little kids.

The neighborhood we were in was on a hillside that overlooked a dairy with hundreds of cows. It was a picturesque setting, but one full of poverty everywhere we looked. Martha and her two girls, Daniela and Alexa, were super sweet! As we worked, they looked on with excited anticipation as they were seeing their new house being built right before their eyes.

Each day as we finished working, Martha would clean up the exterior and interior of the house, already taking such pride of ownership. This morning, we finished up a second coat of stucco and then had a house dedication. We presented Martha with the keys to her new house, and prayed a blessing over her and her kids. It was an awesome moment!

Last night it was freezing cold in our camp. It had to be in the 30's and our tents were like refrigerators. I can't imagine what it would have been like this weekend if it would have rained. I'm sure we would have handled it, but it made me think about families like Martha who struggle every day without proper housing to live in. Tonight will be a different story! Martha and her kids will tuck themselves into their house for a great night of sleep!

Today as we were finishing, another church group from Washington state came and started 5 more houses. Right around the corner, a Chinese church was finishing up their houses. We were all right in the middle of a complete community transformation. These houses were all practical expressions of God's love to this community and a gift from the local church in Tijuana. Amor Ministries made it all possible! It was an AWESOME weekend!

Several transformational things happened this weekend. Martha's family's lives will never be the same. Now Martha can focus what little money she has on feeding, clothing, and educating her kids. The next rain storm will no longer be a fear for her. In addition to that, our team's lives were totally transformed. We saw God through the eyes of the poor. It's not every weekend you get the privilege of building a house for someone. It's amazing what God can do through us when we work together to accomplish something bigger than we are! I'm praying that this was just the beginning for our team to make a difference in the world!

Now for all you Mexico haters who can't believe anyone would go to MEXICO because you think it's way too dangerous. Well...once again...my experience tells me something VERY different! Just like all of the other hundreds of times (probably into the thousands now) I've been in Mexico, we were completely safe the entire time! So my challenge for you is this...quit living your life in fear and start living your life in faith! God shows up big time when we live in audacious faith, not fear!

As for me and our Newbreak team this weekend...we can't wait to go back and do it again! You should join us!

Friday, February 17, 2012

When Helping Hurts...The world's view of time

We are very time conscious in America. Efficiency, timeliness, and getting a lot done is how we do it. After all, time is money. Now I'm a firm believer in a great work ethic, but when our views of time cross into other cultures, a major collision occurs. That's because most other countries look at time very differently.

Americans tend to have a monochronic view of time and see it as a limited and valuable resource. The majority of the world has a polychronic view of time and sees it as somewhat unlimited. "There will always be more time" is most people's view of time. These two views are explained in detail in the book When Helping Hurts.

Monochronic people are kind of "get 'er done" types. Polychronic people focus more on relationships and will get it done when they get around to it. That's why most of the world has "Fiji Time", or "Mexico Time", or "Tobago Time." They don't really watch the clock. They care way more about relationships!

Now...how does this play itself out on a mission trip. Let's use our church's 3 day house build trip this weekend. It would be very easy to put our heads down, work like crazy people, and BUILD THAT HOUSE! But a big price could be paid if we do it that way. We could miss out on the relationship with the single mom and her two kids who we're building the house for. We could miss the larger picture... that we are partnering with the local church in Mexico to build this house. We could miss building relationships with people on the house building team. Worse yet, we could miss seeing God through the eyes of the poor that he loves so dearly.

So, although I want to build a house this weekend for Martha, Daniela, and Alexa, I vow to do my best to take it all in. That might require me putting down my hammer or camera, but I don't want to miss all God is doing this weekend! I'll be a little more flexible and enjoy Mexico time. I'm going to make some new friends!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When Helping Hurts

I just finished reading a great book on helping the poor. The title of the book is: When Helping Hurts...how to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself. It's written by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert and is a must read for anyone who has a heart to help the poor. Hopefully that is all of you! :)

One of the key concepts of the book is discerning when Relief, Rehabilitation, or Development should be implemented. Getting this wrong is often why poverty alleviation efforts do more harm than good.

Relief is the urgent and temporary provision of emergency aid to reduce suffering from a natural or man made crisis. Not very many people are trained to implement this well, although most opt for this method.

Rehabilitation begins as soon as the bleeding stops, and works with victims. This takes time and is often avoided.

Development is a process of ongoing change that moves both the "helpers" and the "helped" closer to being in a right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation. Development is not done to people, it is done with people. This takes even more time and is often avoided.

All of these methods are important, but each one is very specific in its function. For instance, relief is appropriate for immediate Tsunami relief, but can be more hurtful than good for people who really need rehabilitation or development.

If we are to really help the poor, we must choose methods well. This book is full of specific ways to do it. It will really challenge us to rethink some things we might believe are true. Read it, and let's lead well! Let's be a part of the solution to eradicating poverty, not contribute more to it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Portrait Photography Secrets...Nobody is that perfect

Did you ever find yourself in the check out line of the grocery store staring at the magazines? Most of the time the covers are filled with perfect looking people. Well...just like in real life, there is no such thing! I want to let you in on a little secret. If you are a portrait photographer and want to get that perfect, airbrushed look from everyone you photograph, you'll need a piece of software. It's called Portrait Professional and it is a miracle worker.

Go ahead and click on the link and that will take you to their home page. Run your cursor over the photo and watch the dramatic results! And yes...these are real results. This software is amazing and very easy to use. You have complete control over every part of a person's face. You can whiten eyes and teeth, take out wrinkles, take off shine, pucker the lips...I mean you can do everything!

So the next time you see that perfect person on the cover of a magazine, be assured they don't look that way in real life. Now that said, most everyone who gets the VIP treatment with Portrait Professional loves the results! I've never had anyone say, "Oh...I look too good in that shot!" LOL!

I don't mean to cost you money when you read my blogs. I'm just trying to keep it real! Real is where it's at! But if you need to dress up for the party and you can't afford your own makeup artist, don't worry...there's always Portrait Professional.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What I got to do for Valentine's Day...

Today was Valentine's Day and I got to be a part of two really great expressions of God's love going out from Newbreak Church. Here are some of the things I loved.

This afternoon, the Scripps Mesa campus of Newbreak was up at Hage elementary school doing a Valentine's outreach for the teachers and kids. I love it that our campus meets at a school on the weekends. I also love the awesome missional space God has placed us in all during the week. I love it that our campus gave a carnation to every teacher and kid at Hage today. I loved it when we walked into each classroom and all the kids and teachers knew that Newbreak Church was there! I love it when the teachers introduce me to the kids as "Pastor Darrel". I loved it when the 1st grade class sang me a Valentine's song. I loved it when one kid asked where the flowers came from and another one yelled out...NEWBREAK CHURCH! I loved that we got to invite the kids and their parents to two more upcoming outreaches. I love it that families from Hage are now a part of our church!

Right before Jesus died for all of us, he told his disciples this. He said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)

I love being part of a church that loves each other, our city, and our world!


The other highlight of today was knowing that on Valentine's day, our church was writing a check to an incredible organization called Project Rescue. They rescue girls in India from the sex trafficking trade. I can't think of a more awesome Valentine's gift than to show these girls God's amazing love by literally rescuing them from the abusive life they are currently living in. Dozens of girls will have their lives and their dignity given back to them. Their current nightmares will be turned into bright futures as God's children! That is awesome!

So tomorrow when people ask me, "What did you do for Valentine's day?"...I'm going to tell them that me and the rest of our awesome church got to radically love a bunch of people in Jesus' name! We loved the kids and teachers at Hage, and we got to rescue dozens of girls from the sex traffic trade in India!

Come have some fun loving our city and the world with us! www.newbreak.org

Monday, February 13, 2012

No longer Homeless

This coming weekend, I'm leading a team of 20 to build a house for a family on the East side of Tijuana. Martha Urena is a single mom with a 3 year old named Daniela, and a 2 year old named Alexa. She makes $25 per week when she can find work. She currently lives in a make-shift shelter where the roof is inadequate and the floor is unstable. They don't have a bathroom of their own, have no electricity, car, telephone, or refrigerator. They do have a gas stove, but that's about it. This is quite common in the poor communities of Tijuana.

This weekend, life is about to change for her family. In just 3 days, we'll build Martha and her children a brand new house with a concrete floor, stucco finish, and a brand new roof that doesn't leak. They'll have doors and windows for added security. This house won't cost her family one dime. It's a tangible gift of God's love from Newbreak Church, the local church in Tijuana, and Amor Ministries.


I LOVE these trips! They are so life changing for everyone involved. Not only will Martha and her family have their lives changed, but our team's lives will be changed forever! It's something that never gets old for me. Now Martha will be able to focus her attention on feeding and educating her children, instead of fighting off the rain and the cold every day. I can't wait to present her with the keys to her new home!

Friday, February 10, 2012

How we hit the finish line...

Today I had a day off and went to the Pomona drag races. I love NHRA drag races! You can't believe the energy of 8500 horse power!

We decided we'd watch the fastest cars from closest side of the track. I mean...we were right up on top of these monsters. The mechanics had worked all day for this moment, when these cars (rockets with wheels) would travel down a 1000 foot track at speeds of 310 mile per hour in less than 4 seconds. It takes your breath away!

video

This particular race looked like it would be awesome. Both drivers were ready to go. The countdown began and both cars took off like rocket ships. At about 800 feet, both of them blew their engines. All that work...all that hype...and they could barely limp to the finish line in a cloud of smoke...Fail!

There were other races where cars zipped pass the finish line at full speed and needed to be slowed down by 2 parachutes. The blown engine race lacked something the winners had...a great finish!

Life can be like that sometimes, especially our relationship with God. We may start out well and have the promise of a champion, but somewhere along the way, we have a blow out and find ourselves barely limping to the finish line.

God never meant for any of us to limp through life to the finish line! He wants us to use all our time, talents, and treasures for His purposes. He wants us to hit the finish line of life at full speed, having lived a life of planet shaking faith that changed the world by connecting it to God's love!

The question is, will you be a good finisher? Will you live a life of planet shaking faith?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lessons from the homeless - Part 3

A couple of days ago I wrote about different things we can do to help the homeless. In one section, I shared about not giving the homeless "Crunchy Bars" because most of them don't have any teeth. I got so much great feedback from that post.

I totally forgot to tell you one more piece of important information about those kinds of bars. Although crunchiness is one problem, "fiber" is a whole other issue. Even as I write this, I'm cracking up! One of my homeless buddies (he's spending the night in my house tonight) told me "please, no fiber one bars!" He followed that up with, "if you're going to give me a fiber one bar, you'd better give me a roll of toilet paper to go along with it." I about fell out of my chair laughing!

It's true! Can you imagine living in a tent in the middle of nowhere, a mile away from the nearest restroom, and you ate something with hi-fiber content. Oh boy! You might as well give them some ex-lax and tell them it's chocolate.

Now you have a little more info on how to help the homeless. Have fun loving them with God's love!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lessons learned from the homeless - Part 2

Working with the homeless is filled with a range of emotions that include hope, discouragement, frustration, anger, and more hope. It can be like a roller coaster sometimes.

In a world where one can buy a 59 cent beer at the local liquor store, $2 for one that will sedate an elephant, or call the "pizza man" and get any drug delivered right to your tent, the surroundings of the streets present many challenges and temptations for the homeless. Match that with a desperateness that is always looking for a next meal, and you've got a recipe for a crazy cycle of wanting to "break out" and "trapped" all in one.

I recently learned of the desperateness that leads one to the "Hamburger Drop". That's when a homeless person buys a cheap hamburger at McDonald's, takes a bit out of it, wraps it back up, places it in a garbage can downtown, then proceeds to pull it out and take a bite in front of the crowd passing by. They know that there will always be someone who will stop them, tell them not to eat it, and give them some money instead. Those are sad, but true stories of desperate lives on the streets.

Some of the best things I've learned about helping the homeless are the great programs available to them, like the San Diego Rescue Mission. They have a one-year, live-in program designed to take someone off the streets and mainstream them back into society. Program graduates will be clean and sober, moved into transitional, sober living housing, and helped with finding jobs. Most importantly, they'll find out about a God who loves them, died for them, forgives them, and has great plans for them!

Our job simply is to be the ones who point them to the God that loves them. With much frustration, I've learned that the homeless have to be ready to change. They usually have to get "sick and tired of being sick and tired." But through consistent love, and always pointing them toward help, LIVES DO CHANGE!

So...don't give up on loving them and pointing them in the right direction. When they are ready, they'll know where to go because you will have consistently shown them God's unconditional love. Maybe it will be the Rescue Mission, or some other great program like it. I'll tell you one thing...when you see them change from where they were...most days being terrible...to where they are after graduating from Rescue Missions...saved, and most days being  great...you'll know it was all worth the roller coaster!

Have fun loving with God's unconditional love!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lessons from the homeless

Over my lifetime, I've learned so many lessons about serving the homeless. Many of those lessons have come from having them stay at our house from time to time. Yes, call my wife and I crazy, but it's true. Some of them are some of my best buddies.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the things I've learned by hanging out with them. For one, they are just like you and me. Sure, they might have lived harder lives, but they are all God's children. In our own way, we're just as banged up as they are, just in a more "tidy" and "socially acceptable" way.

So here is tip number one for helping the homeless. Most of us drive by at least a few on any given day. You might see them in front of a store, or on the corner. We have all kinds of thoughts that go through our heads as we pass them, but occasionally we come up with a brilliant idea and actually try to help them! That is a good thing. God loves the poor!

No crunchy bars!
Now when it comes to giving them something to eat, many of us think about something non-perishable, like a breakfast bar, or granola bar, of piece of fruit. That is all good, but I want to let you in on a little secret. Most homeless people don't have very many, if any, teeth. What they do have are usually pretty loose. So stay away from the Crunchy Bars. You know what I mean...those hard granola bars. They can't eat them. Matter of fact they usually give them away to someone else...like me. :) If fruit is what you like, give them a banana, not an apple. :)

Gift cards are good, but not to a grocery store. You might as well just buy them a beer. Fast food gift certificates are good. They like subway too. Mac & Cheese...now you're talking!

Speaking of talking, that's what many of them like the most. Not many people actually talk to them. Not all of them are mentally ill. Many are quite nice.

Anyway, they'd want you all to know this stuff, so there you go.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cost-Effective Compassion

My wife brought home a copy of this month's Christianity Today magazine. The cover story is, The Best Ways to Fight Poverty - Really. In the article, economists rate the impact of 10 popular strategies of helping the poor. Number one on the list of cost-effective compassion...Give Clean Water to rural villages.

There are lots of awesome ways of helping the poor in the world. With water borne diseases being the number on killer in the world, I'm super stoked of what we're doing in Fiji through Give Clean Water! It's such a simple, cost effective, and highly effective way of solving the biggest health problem in the world!

Today I spoke with our team in Fiji, and three guys who will soon be joining the Give Clean Water team in Fiji for 8 weeks. We're planning out our next visit to Nanoko village. This village is the one recently on quarantine due to a typhoid outbreak. We'll soon give clean water to all 107 houses in that village. We're also planning on installing filters in 2 schools that have been shut down due to poor water quality. These schools are located on Fiji's second largest island.

With GCW teams scheduled for March, June, August, and October, we'll make a big dent in Fiji's rural water problem this year! If you'd like to go on one of these amazing trips, visit the Give Clean Water trips part of the  website for all the details. It will be a week you'll never forget!

What if you could change the world?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Flooding in Fiji...Water problems on rise

I always read the Fiji Times every day, especially in the stormy months of November through April. Right now they are in the middle of cyclone season. The past 2 weeks have been very bad, 2 cyclones in a row, and 2 more on the way. The Western side of Fiji is always the most hit and this year is no exception. Damage reports continue to come in. I spoke with the Western Division Heath Minister yesterday, and he said they are super busy trying to bring order to the flooding. I shared with him that Give Clean Water will soon bring relief to one of their most critical villages where a recent typhoid outbreak has the village on lock down. He assured me the Health Ministry would stand side-by-side with us in our efforts.

Recent Flooding in Fiji
Two weeks ago, our Country Director for Give Clean Water lost everything in the first cyclone of the year. As he and his family are trying to put their lives back together, more storms are on the way. I was just reading how there has been $5 million of damage to the fragile Fiji water system. Unfortunately, that is the challenge of living in the tropics.

When we started Give Clean Water 3.5 years ago, we knew we had a great challenge ahead of us...to Give Clean Water to everyone in Fiji who needs it. Well...we are well on our way to doing that. New partnerships are developing as we speak that will change Fiji's water situation for good...one family and one filter at a time.

I'm grateful to everyone who is part of this journey. What we are doing MATTERS, and IS making a difference!

What if you could change the world? No excuses! You can!