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"How can we practice the presence of God when we can barely practice his existence?" (Paraphrased)

--Phillip Yancy



Moment of Zen

I'm not a big Dean fan, but this is a great idea. He's currently running a campaign called "Switch to Dean". I am now going to give this campaign 12 gold stars for creativity, as they've taken capaigning to the masses--joining the indie publishers of the web. This is no banner ad. They now have a site where not only can you dialogue in a Dean based blog, but where you can submit videos of why you personally endorse Dean, shot right from the comfort of your own computer camera, which they will post for you on the site.

My, how political campaigning has changed. Check it out, and make sure to visit the Switch Blog too. Mr. Dean himself has even blogged on it. It's pretty hard not to like that.

My hat is officially off to his creative team--I just discovered that they've even connected his supporters through Meetup, and they've got over 180,000 members regularly meeting--let alone the many hundreds of local websites and blogs that Dean links to and displays. Here's just a brief sample from his official site: Deadheads for Dean, Mormons for Dean, Petsitters for Dean, Dykes for Dean, Hack for Dean, and Security Moms for Dean. Wow.



Our trip down to San Diego was fantastic. We left Friday morning, made a pit stop at Sid's Tattoo Parlor in Santa Ana, and then arrived at the hotel about 10:00pm that night. Saturday night we went to the San Diego Opera to see Turandot, which was fantastic. We also got to see a couple movies while down there: Big Fish, Mystic River, and Runaway Jury. All of them were fantastic. Other than the fact that it was about a month and a half too short, our getaway was a blast.

But right now, I'm still spinning from the dialogue last night.

Pivotal points of last night's dialogue at the Bridge Community gathering included the imagery of coal, and the evolution of its form as it enters a furnace. Intent and agenda are often the gatekeepers of engaging our God, and may enable or disable us from engaging him.

A great illustration was presented to understand this. As technology has evolved, we have become less burdened from and less engaged with creation. For example, consider heat. Whereas once we were burdened with cold, it is now common to walk into most buildings or homes and find that heat is already present, regulated by a thermostat. No longer are we engaged with the process of creating or generating heat from raw materials. At one time we understood the process of creation; now we understand heat as a commodity that we consume.

With a mindset that has transitioned toward consumerism, we often lack the knowledge and desire to move beyond what has been made readily available to us. But engaging God requires us to move beyond the automatically regulated spiritual environments that we're in, tossing ourselves into his furnace.

Consumer vs. Consumee

At the same time, our agenda in that furnace can also prevent us from engaging our Maker. Should we necessarily have agenda when we go to God? When we wait on him? When we call on him? Should we always have our requests and entreaties--always be asking him to accomplish something? Yes, we know that we should "Make our requests known to God...". But if our requests are our agenda in engaging our God, does that inhibit his ability to change us--does that limit our ability to become consumed?

This then led us into the brick wall of all questions, "Do we even know what prayer without agenda looks like?" Uncomfortable silence. Hmmm...

I wonder if maybe prayer without agenda has to do with a posture of longing...a posture in which "his presence becomes our agenda". Greg used the illustration of the disciples in the upper room in Acts. They just went and waited. We don't know much about how they waited--only that they did. They waited without regard to when that waiting would end. And, in the absence of agenda, they were engaged and consumed by a violent wind--the breath of God--and were lit on fire.



Is This Thing On?

My, how full life has been.

Work is insane right now. I'm burning the candle at both ends (last week I worked just under 70 hours in about 4 and a half days), trying to get things in place for a business merge on the horizon. In the last two months, I've made a decision(a no-brainer, I might add) to create a partnership with another advisor, and we're preparing right now for a fullscale merge of our practices in April. God's grace is so good. My partner has about 18 years in the industry with Morgan Stanley, and is a good man. He's a man of character--someone that I can respect in both business and personal realms. I cannot even tell you what a God-send this opportunity is. Not only is the timing impeccable in the evolution of my own practice, but this is an opportunity that very few are ever offered in this industry. I'm beneath the median office age by at least 15 years--maybe 20--and I never approached him. He came to me, and asked if I would consider joining practices. Yeah, let me sit on that for about 5 seconds. I would never have considered this as an option if I didn't respect his integrity and business model (enter: 99% of the industry), but being that I do...Again, a total gift from God.

Monday I took off to be with my wife and daughter, Tuesday I was out of the office in Palm Springs visiting a client, and tomorrow I'm taking my wife to a quick getaway to San Diego for the weekend--a much needed break with my bride. We'll be seeing Turandot--a fantastic opera at the San Diego Civic center--and spending Friday through Sunday morning relaxing in the Southern California sun. So I've had to get 5 days worth of work done in two this week, in order to catch up.

I'm basically making up excuses for why I've not blogged in a week...Hope it's working.



My Recent Stirrings

Thoughts firing in synaptic chaos:
1. My excitement for The Passion of The Christ. Just the stories of others' experiences watching the film have shaken me. February 25th cannot get here soon enough.

2. 13 Conversations about 1 Thing. My wife and I rented it this last Friday--and it was amazing. Haunting. I keep replaying the scenes over again in my mind. If you haven't seen it--go rent it. It's a fantastic antidote to the numbness I often have to my relationship and connection with the rest of the human race.

3. My wife. It is not uncommon at all for Regina to make deeply impacting, profound statements--but for some reason, she still catches me offguard. Last night, she made several more--and I am still buzzing. "Generosity has nothing to do with the resources you have; it is a function of your faith, motivated by love." & "Why do we feel like we have to ask--even plead with--God for what is in his nature to do? I would hate it if our daughter came up to me and said, 'Mommy, please love me. Please provide for me, bless me, protect me, care for me when I am ill, etc.' Of course I'm going to do those things! I love her. It is my nature. Yet we ask God constantly for the same things, as if we believe that he is solely motivated by our request, rather than by his nature--the unconditional love that set the world in motion, and brought us the sacrifice of Christ. Not to say that praying for those things is bad--often it's a way that God allows us into the process, and builds our faith as we witness him operate....Honey?" (brief silence, as I try to force words from my gaping mouth) " I love you Gene." It's not these thoughts are incredibly complex, or deep--it's actually the opposite. Sometimes, in our authentic desire to please God in our spirituality, or because of the natural osmosis of religious conditioning, we start to believe that Truth is something difficult and deep, mysterious and hard to find. And maybe sometimes that's true. "...But God has chosen the simple things to confound the wise..." But I wonder if maybe we often miss out on encountering Truth because we look right past it in our earnest efforts to find it.
"God's glory is on tour in the skies, God--craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words aren't heard,
their voices aren't recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere...

That's how God's Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of GOD is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
and point out the right road."

Psalm 19



New Additions to the Family

It's time that I announce a couple new additions to the blogging family. Check out their blogs and welcome them to blogosphere.
1. Michel Cicero. Michel's a very witty and accomplished writer, who has made The Bridge Communities her home over the past year. She is also the author of this fantastic article (see post for August 20th).

2. Tim Garrety. Tim's a man of many talents. He's a thinker, designer, and leader; he facilitates all digital and creative media for The Bridge Communities, founded and manages the Foreward Media Group as well as Skate Street, one of the premier skate parks in the U.S. Additionally, he is a husband, father, an advisor to The Bridge, and a good friend.



Friday 5

What one thing are you most looking forward to . . .


Going home to my wife and daughter, and enjoying my weekend with them.

2. ...over the next month?

Tomorrow: the virgin voyage of my Christmas/Birthday gift--my brand new surfboard.
Next Week: My first trip out to Vegas, a birthday gift from my wife.
The end of January: Our annual family trip out to Mammoth Mountain.

3. ...this year?

Buying our first home?

4. ...over the next five years?

Taking my daughter to kindergarten, & coming home to play with our two other children.

5. ...for the rest of your life?

Being a husband to the love of the my life, being a father to children that will be great people, experiencing more of the mystery of Christ, walking Selah down the aisle, teaching my son to play ball, listening to my wife sing, and Starbucks.


Happy New Year!

I hope all of your New Year's Eves were well celebrated. I thoroughly enjoyed mine, as I spent the evening celebrating the five year anniversary of The Bridge Communities. What a great night. We celebrated with two venues that we ran simultaneously in our building--one with a DJ and the other with The Phantom Riders. The music was great, and there was tons of dancing, eating, and talking.

At about 11:45, we ran a video (great job tim!) with various clips form the past five years--running right up to the 20 second coutdown to the New Year. As everyone began to cheer and toast the New Year, my wife turned to me and planted one of those very memorable kisses--right on me. I love her. After I caught my breath, I toasted a few people, and joined everyone in the center of the main room, as David Ruis led us in worship for about an hour. What a great way to ring in the new year.

I've made some changes to the site, so I hope you enjoy them. If you have any ideas--for the site or resolutions--let me know.


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