Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ten years of Marriage

This last week Charity and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. As we’ve talked about this milestone I’ve joking said: “These have been the best 10 years of your life Charity!” The reality is, this has been the best 10 years of my life!

I don’t have a list of the top 5 things you need to have a healthy marriage. I’m not going to share my 7 failures in marriage. Nor have I done a hours of research on stats to tell you 25 things to stay married for 25 years. I just want to share a handful of things people have shared with me and I’ve tried to apply to our marriage.

Kiss Before Bed
I’m pretty sure it was on our wedding night, or maybe a few months before, an older man I respect said this to me: “Kiss her every night before bed.” Now I love kissing my wife. When you tell an engaged man to kiss his wife every night before bed its a great idea so we did this. As I began traveling for ministry and school there were nights we couldn’t kiss. We tried our best to talk on those nights but just with being apart we couldn’t kiss; we wanted to though!

The longer we stayed married, as you could imagine, there were times we didn’t want to kiss. There were nights when we argued or just weren’t talking before bed. We didn’t feel like kissing. Most of this was probably my fault, I’m stubborn and brought a ton of baggage to our marriage. It has forced us to talk. Sometimes the kisses were colder and some nights they were steamy, but we’ve made it a point to kiss every night before bed.

Fight Well
One of my earliest memories of my parents is seeing my dad physically harming my mom. I was young and don’t recall the entire situation but I know my mom was crying and my dad was inflicting the pain. This obviously had scared me. I can’t recall a time when I saw my parents fight well. They fought, but not well.

With my past and the education we’ve both received, we’ve learned to fight well (please note the word learned). Fighting well doesn’t mean you just bury the pain deep inside (think; Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights). Fighting well doesn’t mean you just say whatever is on your mind.

Fighting well means you implement better ways of communion. One could be to use “mirroring”. Mirroring is a technique where you repeat back to the person what they said to make sure you understand them. Another method is to just simply listen and not interupt. Another application is to pray for wisdom while your listening. Fighting well has been a success to a healthy marriage, we are going to fight so let’s do it well.

Laugh Often
One of my favorite things in life is to hear Charity laugh. Actually, when were dating, she had such a loud laugh it made me smile. Charity still laughs a whole bunch when we’re together. The more we laugh, the more we enjoy life. When we are laughing its a sign to me that we are enjoying the company of each other. It reminds me how much fun we have together. It reminds me of the joy of life we share.

Submit to Each Other 
This can be a tough one for couples. As humans we desire to be in control of our life and our situation. We want to take control and make our destiny. In a marriage it can be easy for one spouse to be domineering and demand to get their way. They can ignore their spouses feelings and selfishly care only about themselves.

The Bible talks about men and women submitting to each other out of reverence for Christ. This means that I don’t always get my way. This means that I need to listen, carefully, to my wife. I need to hear what she is saying when a decision must be made. I also need to listen carefully to God so my family makes the right decision. We believe in an equal voice in our marriage.

Have Sex
What would a good marriage post be without talking about sex! Someone once told me that if couples in their first year of marriage put a gum ball in a jar every time they had sex in the first year of marriage and then took one out every time they had sex the next five years there would still be gum balls in the jar. That is sad!

We have decided to maintain intimacy (obviously, we’re having our third kid). But it means meeting each others needs. It means sex isn’t just about getting what you want and rolling over. Its about growing as a couple and learning each other. Now you might be thinking: “This is weird reading this.” And it’s a little weird writing it, but if I don’t you might just keep thinking that what you see about sex in the movies is normal.

There is a trend in our culture to believe that you meet a person, take them to dinner and then have sex with them. We have such an over-saturation of porn that many people have no clue what sex in a marriage relationship looks like. I’m sure there are great books you can read to learn more. My point is the need to maintain sexual intimacy, mainly sex, in the marriage relationship. Have such a great marriage that you can’t imagine not having sex with that person!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Chasing God- Book Review

Title: Chasing God 

Author: Roger Huang

Publisher: David C. Cook

Pages: 244

Quotable: "The hunger for money and security was being replaced by a hunger to set people free."

Last year City Impact gave this book out at our church. I took a copy and it sat on my shelf for many months, just sitting collecting dust. Then for some reason I was looking for a book to read; something not too heavy but a light read. I grabbed it a week ago and couldn't put it down. This rarely happens to me.

The book starts out describing the pain Roger saw in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. He quickly turns to the immense pain he dealt with as a child growing up in Taipei... but the story is far from over. Rodger grabs your attention and then shares openly and honestly about the pain and struggle of his life. He shares about beatings, meeting his wife, meeting his Savior and the radical call to go into the city.

Most people in San Francisco are looking to get away from the Tenderloin, God called Roger to the Tenderloin!

If you are looking for a book that is going to reveal the grace of God, the honesty of a Christ follower and seeing the radical work of God at play I encourage you to grab this book and open it. Once you open I have a feeling you will be like me and find it tough to put down.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Movie Review: Annie

Movie Title: Annie

Year: 2014

Director: Will Gluck

Stars: Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx

The tune is catchy! My daughters saw Annie in the theater and pretty much came home singing "Its a hard knock life". Although I'm sure they had no clue what it meant; they were singing it.

Annie has the same plot line as the original. Its a modern version of the orphan kid who went to live with Daddy Warbucks. Well instead of a millionaire, now we have a billionaire! Mr. Stacks is a mobile tychoon who needs some help in his current mayoral race. What better way to get publicity and have the people love you than to let a foster kid from the wrong side of the tracks stay in your place. You will be captivated with the singing, storyline and humor in this modern version.

Honestly when I saw the trailer my first thought was: "This is lame, how can you redo Annie?" Well I like to admit that they have redone the classic and its a catch! We just bought it from Costco today and my family texted me to see if I could come home early so we could watch the movie. It made me laugh, smile, laugh, ponder and I might have had allergies also because I teared up.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Cambodia Food


Last month I had a very unique opportunity to travel to Cambodia. My hope in this blog post is to share an overview of the food I experienced in Phnom Penh. Not only the food, but the ability to eat at restaurants that helped others out.

Let me start out by saying, “I love Asian food!” Asian is one of my favorite cuisines. Eating Khmer food was a new experience but a great one! The first night in Phnom Penh we went to the best Vietnamese place I’ve ever been to; I’m still thinking about the egg rolls they served! We did end up eating there another night while in the country.

If you are in Phnom Penh here are two places I would recommend to eat at. All of these locations can be found in Lonely Planet (get the kindle version to save on weight).

This location, near the river, on the north side, was our favorite place to eat. We found it after our first full day in the country. It serves tapas (not my favorite) but the food was savory. They had wonderful salads, meet, rice and great shakes!

The food wasn’t even the best part! They had junior servers who would assit the regular server. The junior servers were young adults/teens who had once lived a risky life and are now receiving on the job training. After you eat, walk next door and find some great souvenirs to bring home to your family.

Located near the Russian Market, same street just a block south. This location was my favorite lunch place. They had some great options and the staff was very friendly. When we walked into the restaurant my first thought was “this is small and not what we’re looking for.” Then a staff member said, “we have more seating upstairs.”

The upstairs is the place to sit. Its like a mix between a comfy living room and a great coffee shop that serves killer food! I really enjoyed all we had to eat there and wish we would have eaten lunch here everyday. My absolute favorite part, ok two favorite parts, about this restaurant are their love for Jesus Christ and the great little shop they have. 

They have a page, in their menu, dedicated to their story and how Christ is their hope. The store was a great place to get cute little dresses for my daughters; my only regret is not buying two more.

So if you're in Cambodia check these places out, eat good food and help others!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

No Facebook February


We have catchy titles for all sorts of things in our culture like: "No Shave November" or "Februhairy". Well After returning from Cambodia I realized something, I cared too much about social media. I also found myself clicking more links and being sucked into a certain app on my phone. At that point I realized I need a Facebook break and quick.

The break was great for me! I was able to avoid the website for all 28 days of February and as I look back on what I've called No Facebook February I've very thankful for the decision. Here are some positives of this experience:

More time with family
I had more time with my family. I noticed that I wasn't automatically going to the app when there was 5 seconds of downtime.

Increased Focus
I felt like I was more focused on things. I was dedicated to what I was working on. I was present when I was on a date with my wife. I wasn't tempted to tune out of a group conversation and grab my phone.

Affirmation
I didn't find my affirmation in what I posted. I wasn't constantly checking my Facebook to see if people liked my picture or cared about my status update. To be honest, like gut level honest, I struggle with acceptance and No Facebook February really helped me find my acceptance in God.

Like anything there can be some downsides in a commitment like this. Here is what I noticed.

Less Connection
I felt less connected. I felt like people were talking about things that I had no clue about. I did see the picture. I didn't watch the video. I didn't know she got engaged. I didn't know he lost his job. The list goes on and on. There is a reality that Facebook keeps us up to date on information.

It's a ministry tool 
Facebook is a ministry tool for me. When I hesitantly logged back in on March 1 I had 7 messages. Some were the typical group message but some were people reaching out. This isn't the first time this has happened to me. Facebook is a great ministry tool that needs to be managed.

If you asked me to sum it all up it would sound something like this. Overall, I didn't miss being away. In all honesty I enjoyed it. I felt more present in my life. I wasn't distracted by the thought and I'm sure I'll do it again in the future.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to post this on Facebook so you can read it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cambodia Transportation

Last month I had a very unique opportunity to travel to Cambodia. My hope in this blog post is to share an overview of what I experienced in transportation in another country. I’m not going to talk about air travel but I would recommend flying Eva airlines after my experience.

The first full day we spent in Cambodia I rode in a new type of transportation for me; Tuk Tuk. Say it just like it sounds; Tuk Tuk. Let me try to explain what a Tuk Tuk is. It’s basically a motorcycle with a trailer on the back. The Cambodian people are so intuitive to think of adding a tow hitch to the back of a moto and then creating a cart, with seating, where you can drive people around.

Now, I’m not going to say its the most comfortable form of transportation. Its almost like a small couch on wheels, there is a little give but you’re still aware that you’re not in a luxury car. While riding in a Tuk Tuk you have a great view of what’s going on around you. You get a full view of the whole city, streets, people, shops and what’s coming up. You can even choose to sit in a way where you get to see what’s behind you! Another positive is, this type of transportation is inexpensive.

The downside to riding in a Tuk Tuk is the fact that you get a little dusty. You’re in an open air cart so you’re not protected from the elements. Now, there is a roof so you avoid getting sunburnt while riding. When sitting in traffic you also have all the smog rising up around you from the other vehicles in your presence.

Even though I didn’t ride a motorcycle there are tons of them in Cambodia. They are really all over the place. I was shocked to see how many motorcycles there are in the country. I’m told it didn’t used to be that way, that people use to ride bikes throughout the country. I saw a few people riding bikes but not many. Also, there are cars but we only took those to and from the airport.

Check out this video to get a better look at transportation about Cambodia.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cambodia 2015 Overview

Last month I had a very unique opportunity to travel to Cambodia. My hope in this blog post is to share an overview of my experience and then I’m going to write separate posts to go into more detail on other parts of the trip.

Almost eight months ago my Lead Pastor invited me to go to Cambodia with him. He had already been to the country four times and this would be his fifth trip. The goal of the trip would be to teach the book of Revelation of 80-100 pastors. We partnered with Paul Nuth, one of our missions partners, who is originally from Cambodia.

(Left to Right: Neal, Paul and Mark)
This was my first trip to Asia and it was a great experience to see this beautiful country. In another blog post I’m going to talk about some of the sights we saw and what we learned about the post communist country.

It was a long flight! We spent over 17 hours in planes and almost 5 hours in airports just to get there. The transportation was a new experience for me upon arriving in the country. In another post I’ll go more in detail on Tuk Tuk’s and the thousands of moto’s driving around.

Obviously anytime you travel there is going to be good food and bad food. Thankfully I love Asian food and would consider myself to be a semi-adventurous eater. I really enjoyed some, ok most, of the food we had to eat. If you ever visit Phnom Penh I want to give you a few places you must try while there!

Finally the thing that makes a country isn’t the transportation, food or sights. The thing that makes a country so great, like Cambodia, is the people. I met some of the most caring people who had smiles on their faces despite all the loss they encountered under the communist reign of Pol Pot. I want to take more time to just share about some of the men and women who impacted my life on the trip.

Well, I know this is a short post to prep you for what’s coming on the Cambodia update front but now you know what you to look forward to!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bible in a Year

For the last almost decade I've read the Bible from cover to cover. I've read it in different versions and even done the chronological Bible (super cool). For those of you who are looking for a challenge this post is dedicated to you.

Reading the Bible in a year is not for the faint of heart; its a huge commitment.

Reading the Bible in a year takes about 20 mins of reading a day.

There are days you are going to be behind, keep reading: Don't Skip!

You are going to be tempted to skip, don't!

Here is the plan:



Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Benediction

On Sunday I knew I wanted to share a Christmas Benediction to close our service but I wasn't going to have time to write one so I searched for one. In my google search I found this one, but it seemed a little too long so I tweaked it to fit my style.

Here is what I came up with:
May you be filled with
the wonder of Mary,
the obedience of Joseph,
the joy of the angels,
and the peace of the Christ child.
May almighty God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Something you want, something you need. Something to wear, something to read.

With the countdown to Christmas at t-minus 17 days my guess is many people have their shopping done. Its weird to think this way but with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon you can really get your Christmas shopping done quite early now. The days of rushing to the mall and standing in lines are (almost) over. The days of sitting on the couch and buying presents are in!

As we talk about Christmas at the Benson home, Charity said something that has really stuck out in my mind. It was this: “something you want, something you need. Something to wear, something to read.”

Now I thought about this statement for probably over a month before telling my wife she was a genius for thinking this up to which she replied, “I saw it on Pinterest.” Even though she didn’t make it up it sounded like such a good idea I wanted to share it with others. If you search this: want, need, wear, read on Pinterest they will give you tons of ideas!

This year our girls will be receiving gifts based on this idea.

Disclaimer: I feel the need to make the disclaimer that I tried to use Pinterest one night, while sitting next to my wife, but have since stopped. Pinterest has great ideas though as you can see!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

An Abstinent Engagement

"There's nothing more than I enjoy than an awkward conversation." - Said no one

One of the greatest roles I get to play is when I officiate a wedding ceremony for a couple. I say “one of the greatest roles” because for me its a culmination of everything we’ve worked on for the last number of months. Its a huge responsibility to sign a piece of a paper for a couple who is saying they want to spend the rest of their lives together.


See, when I was younger I foolishly officiated a handful of weddings for couples who I never spent adequate time with. I talked with them a handful of times but it was mainly about not leaving the sink dirty and where they squeeze the toothpaste. I didn’t have much marriage experience so I thought, “Well, they love each other so it will work out.” I wish it was the case.

Unfortunately I know a handful of weddings I’ve presided over have not worked out.
So how can we change that?
How can we help give couples the best foundation for a health marriage?

Let me share two things I’ve learned about setting couples up for a healthy marriage:

1) Ask them to abstain from sex
This is actually a requirement for me now. At our church we strongly encourage couples to remain sexually pure prior to marriage. For some people this is tough. I’ve actually talked with couples about this and some have opted to have someone else officiate their wedding. On the other hand some couples are embarrassed when I talk about this because they are already remaining sexually pure. There are also the couples who have gone too far sexually and they choose to commit to remain pure until their wedding day.

2) Mandate pre-marital counseling
This is where you talk about focus on the marriage and not the wedding date. Much of what an engaged couple is doing is talking about the wedding day. They want to make sure the time is right, the flowers are perfect, the cake is good and the list goes on. I want to talk about what happens the following day. I want to talk about waking up to that person for the next 50-70 years of your life and supporting them.

My pastor has been using A Handbook for Engaged Couples and I’m enjoying the book. In the past I’ve used books like: Sacred Marriage or Love and Respect to talk with the couple about marriage. These books, in my opinion, are more for a marriage couple. The handbook is great to bring up conversation related to practical advice of what they need.

I’m sure I will have more to offer on this subject the longer I’ve been married and the more couples sit at our kitchen table from 8pm-10pm as we talk about the greatest commitment, besides following Jesus, they will ever make.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Campus Pastor Qualities

Last month I had the privilege of attending Exponential West at Saddleback Church. This was my first time attending an Exponential Conference and I was through thankful for the opportunity to attend. I'm not solely thankful for the free ticket another church gave me to attend or for the teaching of the people who were there but also for the friends I was able to reunite with. The combination of all three of these made for a great 48 hour trip to So Cal.


As someone who is new to multi-site ministry and being a campus pastor I was very thankful for the breakout sessions I was able to attend. Its extremely difficult to find venues where guys are talking about multi-site ministry so to get anything was a treat.

In one of the sessions I attended they talked about what are the qualities you should look for in a campus pastor. Here is what I wrote down:
+ Be humble
+ Be teachable
+ Must be able to be a lead pastor but follow well
+ Know how to be under authority and also over it
+ Must be able to communicate the vision of the Church (not just the campus)
+ Empowered enough but enough room for themselves
+ Must believe in the model the Church is using
+ How to know how authority works
+ Work under authority and with authority (think what is best for: kingdom, church & community)
+ Strong emotional & relational  intelligence

What would you add to the list?

Thursday, November 06, 2014

We’re Pregnant!!! (I mean, Charity is pregnant)

It was a normal Sunday morning; nothing out of the ordinary. I awoke early, snuck out of bed, quietly shut the door to the girls room and headed to the couch so I could read my Bible before anyone woke up. As I’m writing this I can’t recall what I read but it was somewhere in the prophets, most likely Ezekiel.

After reading I crept back into the bedroom and quietly slipped into our bathroom. I heard Charity begin to stir in the house but thought nothing of it and just hoped our girls wouldn’t wake up. In a few minutes she found me in the bathroom; for some reason I thought something was wrong. It could have been the fact that was out of our routine, but maybe she just couldn’t sleep and wanted to talk.

She broke the silence and said: “Is this is a good time to tell you something?”

I wasn’t sure how to respond. Honestly, we had some rough conversations this weekend and I was feeling pretty bad about my actions.

I replied; “You bet, what’s up?”

There was silence.

Then she pulled it out. I’ve seen one of these before. Its been a while, almost five years, since she last showed me one of these. I was in shock. I vividly remember my mouth falling open… Charity is pregnant!


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

No Sugar Added

I’ve been trying to find different ways to deny myself.

Earlier this year I took a month off Social Media. During the summer I took a month off of watching TV. During that time I had been toying around with the idea of not eating sugar for a month. I brought the idea up to Charity during July because I knew if I was going to be successful I needed her buy-in. I pitched the idea of eating no sugar in August, to which she reminded me we had Sophie’s birthday party and should hold off until September.

September first it began, it was the month of what I call “No Sugar Added September”

The Goal
The goal of this month was two-fold.
1) I wanted to do some sort of fasting. I hate fasting. I like to enjoy all the good things life has to offer but I began to notice I was enjoying somethings in excess. For example: instead of having a bowl of ice cream as a special treat, I was eating ice cream almost every night after dinner. In my office we have candy readily available and I found myself heading straight to the candy dish after lunch. I wanted to deny myself and choose to focus on God to meet my needs instead of candy.

2) I wanted to loose a little weight. I’m not going to lie about this part of the diet. I thought cutting added sugar out of my diet would help me loose a few pounds. I was shocked at how quickly I lost five pounds. Now, loosing weight was secondary to connecting with God. But I do think this helped me get my mind clearer.

The Strategy 
For anything to be successful there must be a strategy. When I say “No Sugar Added” this could mean many things. Some people thought I was only eating celery with organic peanut butter or rice and beans for every meal; this wasn’t the case for how we planned our fast.

The fast would include removing items from our diet that added sugar to what we felt was normal and healthy. For me this list includes, but is not limited to:
Skittles
Slurpees
Milk Shakes
Jelly Beans
Donuts
Syrup
Creamer
Cookies

What we didn’t remove were foods we felt had healthy sugar. Foods like: beets, banana, apple, etc. For the most part my food consumption stayed the same, I just removed foods that I knew were high in sugar. I still ate oatmeal for breakfast or a smoothie. I still had sushi or a sandwich for lunch. I didn't examine the bread for sugar because we already buy healthy bread. I can go into more detail if you would like to talk about it.

The Conclusion
It was tough at the beginning. I would say for the first 10 days I had a pretty good headache at night. I found myself taking more Advil to help with the pain, but it soon left. Yesterday was the last day and I think it was a successful decision of giving something up to focus more on God. You may ask: "When do you start eating sugar again?" The answer: "I don't know, I'm not ready today..."

What do you think?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

People are (still) trustworthy

People are (still) trustworthy

I may sound old saying this, but it seems like people are becoming less trustworthy. I’m not sure if its our decreased human interaction or what. Since I’ve been feeling like this, the other day I figured I’d do a test to see if people are still trustworthy.

I had an old iPhone 4 and figured instead of just letting it be my new paperweight or allowing the kids to use it as a hockey puck I’d sell it on Craigslist. Now I love to sell on Craigslist and honestly, I love to buy too. There are some interesting people on Craigslist so I always get a kick.

I list the phone and wait… and wait… and wait… Finally I receive and email from a man interested in buying the phone. We email back and forth and the following day he calls me. I call him back and we begin talking about the phone. Now, he is basically asking me every question I’ve already given an answer to in the ad but its all good.

So he finally wants to see the buy the phone. He asks if I can meet him at the nearest Verizon store. The way my day, and week, were shaping out it was going to be at least 48 hours before I could make this happen. We talked about options, I had swim lessons. More options to meet, I had work. Finally I tried to convince him to stop by my house, see the phone, pay me, go to Verizon and if it didn’t work I’d give him his money back. His response: “My wife said I have to go to the store to make sure if works.”

We kept talking and I kept trying to convince him into my plan. I was trying to convince him to trust me. Finally I said: “I’m a pastor” but it didn’t work. I needed to change my tactic and stop asking him to trust me. I said: “Are you a trustworthy man?” He was shocked and responded: “Yes (hesitantly). Yes, I am trustworthy (with more confidence)”.

I changed the plan. I said: “How about you stop at my house, see the phone and if you like it take it to the Verizon store. If it works, come to my house and pay me.” It was a crazy idea. Actually, after I said it I was shocked. He like my idea and wanted to leave me with a check. I declined and said: “Let’s trust each other on this.”

He took the phone, I went to swim lessons. While at swim lessons he called and said it all worked and he would drop the money at my house while I was away. When I returned home I found the exact amount stuffed in an envelope with the simple words “Thank you” written on it.

So if you’re wondering if people are still trustworthy, they are.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why I'm not buying an iPhone 6

Normally I would be scrambling right now.

I'd be listing my wife's iPhone 5 on craigslist or eBay.
I'd be on Verizon's site looking for my upgrade date.
I'd be on Amazon trying to find the best new case I could find.
I'd be looking at our bank account, thinking where I could get the money needed to buy the new iPhone.

But I'm not doing any of those things today.

Today I’m planning train rides, checking seat locations and thinking about ways I can hang out with my kids because I’m not buying a new iPhone.

Now this is all a new concept for me. Consumerism runs in my blood just like the next guy but over the last year (since I upgraded to the iPhone 5S) things have changed in my life. Let me share a few catalysts to this change.

Conversations with my wife
At some point in the last year Charity and I had a conversation I don’t think I’ll forget. She said something to the effect of my love for new gadgets or toys. The comment wasn’t mean spirited or rude, it was just factual. I had the newest iPhone, the newest GoPro and was accessorizing. The comment stuck with me. She was right. I was so focused on what I could get and missed out on what we could give. My other iPhone, the iPhone 5, was in perfect condition when I upgraded. My GoPro, the same. Her comments began the evaluation process in me.

Preaching
This summer we preached a series through the parable teachings of Jesus. One message in particular I taught about Investing in Eternity. As I studied the obscure, and difficult passage in Luke 16, it became obvious to me that Jesus is calling me to invest in eternity. The investing in eternity He was talking about was with my money.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:13
Reading
I’ve been reading a book this summer that has been a refreshing change of pace. Its been a while, over 2 years, since I found a book I couldn’t put down. The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski has been helping me to contemplate slowing down, caring more for people and how I spend my money. You could almost boil all of this down and say, “Its caused me to think about the future more, mainly heaven and God.”

When I add up the sum of these three factors it makes it so easy to delete the emails from Verizon about an early upgrade for being a loyal customer and spend more time investing my time and money in what really matters to me.

That’s why I’m not buying an iPhone 6.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

God’s Not Dead: Movie Review

The other day at church a man told me, “You gotta watch this movie, I’ve already watched it 5 times!”

If I’m honest, I’m a bit skeptical when someone tells me ‘I have to watch something.’

It was a Sunday night and we had a long weekend so we decided to pull out the iPhone and see what Redbox was slinging that night. Right away there it was. It was like it stood out. It shouted to us in its quiet voice, “rent me, rent me!”

We reserved God’s Not Dead, made some popcorn and sat on the couch. While the movie began I realized it was going to be a slow starter. Slow starters aren’t too bad, except when you’re tired. Once the movie hit its stride it was obvious this movie was going to impact my heart. 

This movie tells an all true story of the many responses, attitudes and feelings toward Jesus Christ. This movie, in my opinion, is unapologetically Christian. The main character is a young man who runs into a dilemma his first semester of college: his professor hates God.

Throughout the movie you begin to see the pieces come together and hear the stories of where people are at with God. The young man takes a bold step when the professor challenges him to prove God is not dead.

Without wanting to give too much of the movie away I am going to recommend it to everyone to see. Instead of only recommending this movie to Christians I think its a good movie for everyone to watch. It addresses a pastor who is loosing his passion, a woman caught in an unbalanced relationship, a woman who finds out she is dying of cancer, a professor who hates God, an African missionary and a mother battling Alzheimer’s disease. 

If you don’t have plans tonight, or tomorrow night, go to Redbox and consider renting this movie. The worst cause is you will think about your faith! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Confessions of a Pastor: I watch “R” rated movies

I watch “R” rated movies

If I had shared this while I was in Bible college it might have gotten me kicked out, or a good talking to.

Now let me provide some clarity on why I’m sharing this. I’m sharing this because not all “R” rated movies are inappropriate. Take Saving Private Ryan for an example. Saving Private Ryan is a thought provoking movie reminding us of the fight that was fought for our country. The movie lays out what happened in history and shows the power of a group of men focused on one mission: heroism. What Captain Miller says to Private Ryan as he’s dying is powerful!

There are other great movies that carry a “R”rating with them. Many of these movies portray a difficult situation in history or a horrible circumstance. There is a movie on Netflix you can watch called Zodiac. Zodiac shares the story of the Zodiac killer from the San Francisco Bay Area. The movie contains no sexual nudity, but is violent and shows killing. Its extremely informative about gnarly circumstances that occurred in the Bay Area.

On the other hand there are “R” rated movies that, in my opinion, are invaluable for anyone to watch. There are certain movies that have more sexual nudity than any person needs to see. There are certain movies who use the “F” word more times in two hours than any person needs to hear all year long.

Unfortunately movies like this sell tickets. Think about “The Hangover” trilogy. This is a prime example of a movie that provides no benefit for anyone (in my opinion).

If you think about watching a movie carrying an “R” rating make sure to check the small writing about the reason for the rating. Another great resource to use is pluggedin.com. This website breaks down movies and let’s you know what you’re getting in to.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Summer Engaging: Engage Emotionally

This week we're looking at three ways to connect with our kids over the summer. The second way we can encourage our children and not embitter them is by engaging emotionally.

Being present is the large amount of time you spend with your child that allows you to have the moments to engage emotionally. In his book As For Me and My Crazy, House Brian Berry writes:
 “Quality time is an accident that happens in quantity time.” 
Being a father brings a lot of blessing, a lot of joy, and a lot of fun and laughter. But it is also quite costly to be a father. The biggest cost is not financial; it is emotional. Fathers must make an emotional investment in their kids. Kids need affirmation, encouragement, and expressions of love. Most of all kids need to be pardoned and forgiven.

In all honesty, the Bible gives us a whole bunch of examples of inadequate fathers:
Noah wasn’t a perfect father: he got so drunk he passed out and his children had to cover up his naked body.
Jacob had multiple wives and exhibited such immense favoritism to one son that his brothers threw Joseph in a pit and sold him into slavery.
David failed to discipline his oldest son, creating a rebellious child who attempted to take the kingdom from his father and eventually died.

Realistically, there is no example of a perfect father here on earth. To find a perfect father, we need to turn our eyes to God the Father.

It was a big day for Jesus as He walked down to the Jordan River to be baptized. As he came out of the water, Scripture records what happened next. Speaking from heaven, God the Father makes a bold declaration to the world saying, “This is my Son!” In other words, He’s saying, “No one make a mistake about it, He belongs to me. I am his Father and He is my Son!” God the Father makes no ambiguity surrounding His relationship to Jesus Christ. God was affirming Christ during a monumental time in the life of His son.

The affirmation doesn’t stop with God boldly declaring Jesus is His Son. God goes on, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” Affirmation is powerful and we all desperately need it! Right here God tells the world that He loves Jesus and is well pleased with Him.

Think about this. At this point in His life Jesus has not yet, preached a sermon, healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out any demons, called any disciples, or done any miracles. However God the Father validates Jesus not for what He has done or for the future works he will do. The Father affirms Jesus solely because of who He is—His beloved Son! What an encouragement!

If you’ve experienced a lack of encouragement from your father growing up, please don’t hold back encouragement in your children’s life. The power of our words can bring life to our children. Fathers with older children, keep in mind the age of Jesus at His baptism. God remained engaged in Jesus’ life through every step and every stage of His life.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Summer Engaging: Being Present

Did summer sneak up on you too? This week I want to take some time to address three ways for dads to lead their kids this summer. Dads, you have a vital role in the lives of your children so don't skim this page too quickly.

The first way dads can encourage their children this summer is simply by being present. Being present is more than just being there, it means being present physically and mentally. As an engaged father, you want to do your best to encourage your children and being present is the first step.

While living in Las Vegas I was playing with my kids at the park. While running around the play structure, a young girl about five years old looked inquisitively at me. She then asked, “What are you doing?” Quickly I responded, “Playing with my kids.” To which she quickly replied, “Can I play?” She joined in playing with a complete stranger and my children while her father sat on the bench with his face glued to the screen of his phone.

I continued running around the park chasing my kids, playing hide and seek, and pushing them on a swing when a grandmother approached me. She had a good eye on her grandson while she began to encourage me. If I remember the story correctly, she said something like this, “Thank you for playing with your kids. It’s amazing you are running around with them like you are. I am shocked at how many parents come to this park and almost completely ignore their children to be on their cell phone.”

Dads, your being physically present with your kids communicates more than you think!

Being present throughout our children’s lives is a big deal. When they’re young our presence shows we care, but how do we respond when they begin making their own decisions? What if these are decisions that don’t align with what we know is best for them?

The Bible gives us a great story in Luke 15. We see a story of a father who sets a great example for us of simply being present through negative and positive decisions his son made.

Jesus tells us there was a father who had two sons. One day his youngest son approached his father and asked for his share of the inheritance. After cashing the check at the bank, this son went to a distant land (probably Las Vegas) where he spent everything he had on booze, parties, fine food and loose women. After losing everything he had, he finally came to his senses and decided to head home and beg his father to simply hire him as a worker.

The whole way home he prepared his speech to his father, but when his dad saw him off in the distance he ran to his son, threw his arms around him, kissed him and welcomed him back home. Immediately he fed him and provided what he was lacking.

The older brother of this son became angry and resented his father for acting this way. His father was always present with him but the older brother couldn’t understand the love and compassion he displayed to his wild son.

Read what the father says to his son
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:31,32
The key phrase is, “you are always with me.” In other words the dad is saying, “Son I am with you, do you see my presence in your life?” This father was present physically and mentally for both of his sons, no matter what their life situation was.

Dad, how do you plan to engage with your kids this summer? How does that translate into the rest of their lives?

Monday, June 09, 2014

The Benson’s are Moving


Before you start asking LOTS of questions let me give you four quick facts:
* We are staying at CPC
* We are not leaving the Peninsula
* We are staying in San Mateo
* We are moving to the house across the street!

For about six months we’ve been praying fervently for God to open the door for us to move in a bigger home. We actually prayed very specially for this home we’re moving in to. 

Now, our prayer started out generally. We asked God to give us a place with another bathroom. Its become increasingly difficult having all four of us sharing one bathroom.

With the prayer for one more bathroom, we began praying for another bedroom. We figured while we were praying for another bedroom, we might as well pray for a backyard for our girls to play in. Before you think this move is solely about the house size, keep reading.

With our daughters growing up we wanted to get a larger home. Where the prayer gets even more specific for the move is staying in our neighborhood. We LOVE our neighborhood. Sophie loves her school, we love our neighbors, we love our location and its close to our church. With all the transition our girls have experienced in the last two years we figured: the less change, the better.

When our neighbor told us she was moving out and they were going to rent the house it was like God answering our prayers we’d been praying for months all in a matter of seconds! We are so excited to move into our new home that is directly across the street from our house on June 22, 2014!