Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Occupy Your Street

Occupy Wall Street!
There's been a lot of talk lately about how the wealthy should act, what they should do with their wealth and who is entitled to it. The problem is everyone points at the people wealthier than themselves. Have you considered the fact that you might be wealthy?  There's a story told about Bill Gates (I can't verify it's validity, but the point it makes stands) visiting with a poor widow in India while doing work for his charity. When he left a reporter ask the woman if she knew she had been speaking to the richest man in the world. She looked at the reporter unimpressed and said "Everyone who visits us from the West is rich." To this woman there was no practical difference between the person who lives in a 1,200 square foot 3 bedroom house making $35k a year and the person worth billions with several mansions. They both drink clean water from a bottle or tap anytime they want, they sleep on a mattress in their own bedroom, when it's hot they turn on the a/c, when it's cold they turn on the heater. When they're hungry they go to the refrigerator, pantry, restaurant or grocery store, they drive a car or rely on safe public transportation when they need to go somewhere. Because to her, clean water, food and a roof over her head are luxury items, everyone who has them is living in luxury;  the people who have those things are "rich people". The funny thing is most of us don't feel rich. This is because we only feel rich when there is a margin between what we earn and what we spend. However we live in consumeristic culture. We were taught from an early age that there are always bigger, brighter, newer, safer, faster, cleaner and better things that we need. The message comes from every TV, radio, magazine, billboard, retail store and corner of the internet; "You haven't arrived yet, you don't yet own the thing that will really make you happy!". So, while many of us intend to be generous, we want to be generous when we have all that we need plus a few luxury items; once we're "rich". It's obvious though that we never become "rich" because rich is a moving target, as soon as you arrive you realize you're not there yet. We spend every dollar we earn and often a lot we haven't yet earned and we never have any margin in our lives. We never feel rich, so we never act rich. We never get around to being the generous person we intend to be. In a culture where so few are "rich", very few are generous. The result is that the truly poor, both here and around the world, are left without the things that should never be considered luxury items: access to clean water, food, basic shelter, basic healthcare and basic education. The problem is not a political or governmental problem it is an "us" problem. We need to recognize our wealth, be grateful for it and live generously. We need to let gratitude and generosity occupy our hearts.

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. ~1 Timothy 6:17&18

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In Honor of My Many Mom's.

I've had a lot of "mothers" in my life. My biological mom, my adoptive mom and quite a few substitute "mothers" in between including the years my Dad played Mr. Mom. I wanted to thank and honor them this Mothers Day.
Jesus (the one in the bible not my neighbor across the street) once said that "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." It seems to me this is the ultimate description of what mothers do. They lay down their dreams, desires, comforts, restful nights, etc. in order to give life to, provide and care for, guide and love their children. They give of themselves for us.
My birth mom epitomized this spirit.
She was diagnosed with cancer at the same time she found out she was pregnant with me. Her doctors told she and my Dad her best hope to survive this disease was to have an abortion. They were told there was little chance that I would survive the pregnancy wether they treated her disease aggressively or not at all, I would either succumb to the cancer or to the cancer treatment. She and my father made what had to be the hardest decision of their young lives, they decided to keep me and told the doctors to do what they could to fight the cancer while protecting my tiny life.
"Greater love has no one than this..."
It didn't matter that the Dr's told her there was little chance of my survival or health and great peril for her. My mom decided to put her life on the line to protect mine.
My mom Vanita Kay Barrows/Colaw did what mothers do, she laid down her life. Vanita died before my first birthday. During Vanita's illness and in the following years a whole lot of "mothers" came through my life. Aunts, grandmas and family friends jumped in and helped my dad. Feeding, changing diapers and caring for me while dad was at work or with my mom at the hospital. I wish I could recognize you all by name but I'm sure I would leave someone out (please give me a break I was a baby). Each of these women and my dad as Mr. Mom made sacrifices in their own lives in order to care for and love me. Thank you.
While I've had many "mothers" I've only have memory of one mommy. When I was three years old my dad met, wooed and married Joyce Lynn Baker. I have no doubt, None; that I would not be the man I am today if it were not for her influence in my life. I believe for a person to thrive they need to know unconditional love. This is the gift that keeps our kids going even when we blow it as parents, what kids need more than perfect parenting is to feel the unconditional love of their parents. Every parent expresses this love in different ways, but a child always knows when it's there. This kind of love empowers children to become their best selves. I could tell you all sorts of stories about how my mom loved me; baking me cookies, teaching me to skip, bandaging hurts, studying spelling lists (to this day I can't spell together without hearing her voice saying "to get her"), editing book reports (Misty of Chincoteague is after all a book about Horses not whores), listening to me talk about a girl I broke up with, teaching me that Dorcas is both a woman in the bible and a proper way to insult someone in a loving manner etc., etc., etc.. But the greatest gift she gave me was unconditional love. When my Dad married her, my mom adopted both my sister and I. Occasionally when I share my history someone will say "oh so Joyce is your stepmom", my instinct is to pop them in the nose and yell "No she's just my mom!", but I always refrain. In the 35 years she has been part of my life, there has never been a nanosecond of time that I have not felt that I fully unconditionally belonged to her. Even though she later gave birth to my brother Patrick (by the way don't ever call him my half brother unless you want to be popped in the nose) I never felt less than 100% her's, and this love had profoundly shaped me.
I have been fortunate enough to have two mom's one who gave me life and gave her life for me and another who laid down her life daily and taught me to love unconditionally.

Happy Mother's Day Moms, you are wonderful examples of Gods love!

Happy Mommy's Day Mom
I Love You unconditionally too!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Would Jesus Drive Someone to Get an Abortion

Recently my wife blogged about her struggle to make a decision about wether or not to drive a young lady to an abortion clinic. Quick before your knee hits you in the nose go read her blog post. (Do not read the rest of this post without reading her post first. I know you’re tempted, but Don’t Do It.)

Here are the things I learned about God and following Jesus from watching my wife struggle with this decision.

1) God loves people more than he hates sin.

Does Becky hate abortion? Absolutely, she is a black and white–right and wrong kinda gal. However, Becky loves this girl more than she hates abortion and this has caused her to look beyond the obvious answer and struggle with how to best love this young lady. I’m not sure how often Christians reflect this sentiment. As a whole we tend to be known for what we’re against. The old hymn, They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love may need an update. Perhaps They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Ban Gay Marriage Bumper Stickers. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take a stand against things that are, by Gods standards, wrong. I just wonder if we shouldn’t reflect on wether we’re more passionate about loving broken people or keeping them from sinning. It’s good to remember that Grace was God's answer to how to best love us!

2) God understands our struggle because He created us and came and lived among us.

Becky is struggling with this decision because she knows and loves this girl, she knows and understands the circumstances that lead to this moment in this young women's life, and that knowledge leads to empathy and love not to judgement. Becky doesn't see this girl as a good person or a bad person she sees her as a hurting person with lots of hard choices in front of her, some right and some wrong. Becky sees this young lady as desperately in need of love and grace and truth.

3) Being obedient to Jesus is better than being "right".

Becky knew immediately what the "right" thing to do was. She grew up in conservative midwest churches. The "right" answer is: no good Christian would ever drive someone to get an abortion. Fortunately Becky's maturing faith allows her to ask not “What seems right?”, but “What

is Jesus leading me to do in this circumstance?” When the religious leaders of Jesus day chastised Him for healing someone on the sabbath (the day of rest declared by God; in the ten commandments no less) it was because they knew what was “wrong”, no one is to labor on the sabbath, therefore you shouldn’t heal people on the sabbath. But Jesus knew God’s heart and His decision to heal was based on God’s heart, not rules established to uphold God’s laws.

4) Simple slogans can be a barrier to understanding complex issues.

Because “Abortion is Murder” driving someone to get an abortion would make you an accessory to murder right? I wonder how often we get caught up in the slogans of our faith or movement and how often they begin to shape how we think and how we act. Nothing in life is simple enough to be understood through slogans printed on bumper stickers, cardboard placards and church signs but Christians really tend to love their slogans. There is an abortion clinic just a few blocks down the street from my wife’s office and every day there are people holding signs up outside. I don’t know one way or the other but I wonder if they spend any time ministering to people who are likely to have “crisis” pregnancies? I wonder, if you’re holding up a sign that says “Abortion is Murder” are you more likely to see the people that pass you going in and out of the clinic as murders or as people God loves and Jesus died to redeem.

5) Life following Jesus is difficult, messy and uncomfortable.

It’s easy for me to sit back and write about the lessons I’m learning from Becky, but if you read her post, you know this is a real emotional struggle. The American dream is to lead an easy, neat and comfortable life. Be honest with yourself and examine how many decisions you make are in the direction of easy, neat and comfortable and how many are in the direction of difficult, messy and uncomfortable. From what we drive, to what parts of town we’re willing to drive through we like things comfortable, but what if following Jesus means embracing discomfort, messiness and difficulty? I’m pretty sure it does, because the people most in need of God’s truth and grace live in a difficult messy and uncomfortable world. The more we follow Jesus in His redemptive plan the messier things are gonna get.

6) Proximity and Time begets love like nothing else can.

From a distance it’s easy to judge this situation and this girl. From a distance you can’t understand the circumstances, you can’t feel the emotion and you can’t know the hurt. From a distance the situation is black and white. However, because Becky has spent time with this young lady, because she is close to her, Becky has a perspective very few other people have and it allows her to look past the facts of the situation into the heart of the girl. It allows her to react out of love. If we want to really love people the way God does we need to spend time in relationship with them.

As of this writing Becky is still doing everything she can to convince this girl to put this child up for adoption, so please if you are a follower of Jesus pray for Becky and this young woman. Before you decide to give Becky unsolicited advice, remember she is striving to follow the Holy Spirit. My opinion is that there isn’t a right or wrong decision here, only an obedient one. I know my wife and if, God forbid, this young woman decides to have an abortion Becky will prayerfully seek godly council from a few trusted men and women before she decides what to do.

Just in case your blood was boiling too hot to read straight, this is not a question of wether or not abortion is acceptable for this woman. Becky believes abortion is wrong. The question Becky is struggling with is, how is God calling her to love someone who has chosen to get one.

So, would Jesus drive someone to get an abortion? I think it’s a question worth struggling with.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mexico Gone for Good

Last week was a Gone for Good (G4G) week at Kaleo. For anyone who doesn't know, roughly once a month instead of our traditional Sunday gathering Kaleo heads out into our community to serve others and show God's love in tangible ways. We've cleaned up an alley in Southwest Bakersfield, painted a dorm at one of the local homeless shelters, thrown a party at a local park and last month we sent out teams of five to six people with $50 and the mandate to prayerfully and creatively go bless people. We called it the Fifty Dollar Experiment, you can read some of the participants experiences here. This month we joined Christ's church of the Valley and went to Mexico for a day and helped build houses for Casa de Amor. (see all the pics here) We had an incredible time I took James and Jason and Becky stayed home with the little ones. 
I was so proud of the boys, Jason helped where he could and kept an eye out for one of the younger kids who came with us, and James worked like a man, really. He stirred cement (by hand) lugged stucco around two hoppers at a time (those things are heavy), applied stucco,  shoveled sand and anything else that needed to be done. All the adults with us were impressed. The down side for him is that my expectations for him are significantly raised. 
I'm hoping to go again in the not too distant future, although I'll probably have to arm wrestle Becky over it since one of us will need to stay home with the youngsters.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What's missing from my reading list?

I read a buddy of mines blog the other day about parenting books and how he has no use for them and never reads them. 2 Months earlier I would have agreed with him flat out. I had never spent any real time reading parenting books. I started a Focus on the Family book called Bringing up Boys once because a group at our church was reading it but I don't think I made it even 1/4 of the way through it.

However I was at a bookstore/coffee shop a few months ago waiting for a friend and a book entitled Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids caught my eye. I'm not sure why but I bought it, it just seemed to fit how I'd been parenting lately. It sat around for a couple months until it got moved to the bathroom. As with any good man, I'll read anything while sitting on my throne, and so I picked it up. It's very good (I wish I had read it years ago), I'll blog about it at a latter date.

So today I came across a blog iamhusband.com (women don't go check it out. But if you must, please don't start commenting on the posts and ruin it as a place for us guys to hang out.) and on it links to a few other marriage/husband blogs. The thought hit me-I've spent a lot of time reading about every topic concerning any job I've ever held, but I've spent very little time reading about parenting or marriage. I read about development, vision, and leadership when I was at a development consulting firm–design and creativity when I was at a creative agency–small groups, discipleship, evangelism, outreach etc when I was on staff at a church and church planting, leadership and entrepreneurship as a church planter. So why would I not be reading about parenting and marriage? If the saying "show me your wallet and your calendar and I'll show you what's important to you" holds any truth, certainly my reading list would also reflect to some degree what I value.

I agree with my friend that every child is different and no one book can address how to parent every child; however I also recognize that I've never read a book that fully addressed any topic I was interested in, but I've also never read a book that didn't have at least some insight and wisdom I could use.

I guess all this has lead me to believe I really need to spend some more time reading up on marriage and parenting.

So I have a great parenting book that I'm just finishing, any suggestions for a book on how to love my wife better? or another parenting book?

featured on newchurches.com

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sarah Grace

What can I say about Sarah? Sarah means princess and being the only girl after three boys it's very appropriate. I realize I'm a biased father but she is B E A utiful. Her smile absolutely blows me away. She is already whipping her brothers in to shape, we all adore her. She may come out of this a little over confidant, but she'll never need to turn to some young man for a sense self worth. She has four men (future men) in our house who think she hung the moon. Of course with David around I'm not to worried about future suiters, at this point they're almost inseparable. At three we're only beginning to see signs of her personality. She definitely has David and Jason's charm it will be interesting to see if she gets Becky and James' sense of justice and strength of character. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


We like to say that David has an internal nuclear reactor. If you google perpetual motion pictures of David are always the first thing to pop up. When I was looking for pictures to post of David I had to search a little harder because so many of them are blurry, really. All of his pics basically fall into a five categories David running, David swinging a sword, David messy, David sleeping, David with Sarah. We take pictures of him sleeping because it's the only time he stays still unless of course he's posing with Sarah. He adores his little sister, he will be her great protector when they hit school. David is equal parts sweet and mischievous. He's incredibly difficult to discipline because he has a way of being naughty and hilarious at the same time. You try not to laugh or smile but it's usually to hard.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Jason our second is a charmer. I'm scared of what the next 5 years hold for us. At recess this year he had a girl (6th grader) write her phone # on his hand and asked him to call her. We told him to avoid those girls like the plague. I'm very proud of him, because he has worked very hard this year to catch up in school. This past semester he made Honor Role and was the student of the month for his grade last month. He has an incredible smile and a deep love for his siblings. If we can teach him to harness his ability to influence people for the Kingdom he will be a great leader.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Becky is the one who usually blogs about the kids, but I decided I needed to brag on them some. This blog is supposed to be about God's fingerprints on our lives and our kids are certainly the greatest gift (outside of salvation) Becky and I have been given. So I'll take one at a time in the order they were given to us. I took these pics of James about a week ago. They really show how he's maturing. He plays soccer like he lives life–he's intense but not too competitive, he gives his best, but always looks out for others, he loves to laugh and make others laugh. Of course he's in Junior High so most of his humor makes his parents cringe, but hopefully thats just a phase. James has an incredible moral compass, not that he doesn't also have a sin nature, but usually given time his conscience wins out. He is very tenderhearted and giving and deeply loyal. His friends are friends for life, as evidenced by all the emails we still receive from the ville. Here are some recent pics.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Swarm of Locust

Wow! What an awesome day. Kaleo partnered with Life Journey for our second combined "Gone for Good". [G4G is the outflow ministry of Kaleo, once a month instead of gathering for corporate worship and learning on Sunday, we go into the community and serve.] These absolutely thrill me because they hit the crossroads of two of my biggest passions 1)the unity of the body of Christ and 2)the church serving the community as a tangible expression of God's love. This month we went to The Bakersfield Rescue Mission and painted their men's residence.
I talked to the chaplain this evening and he said the residents of the mission described us a swarm of locus descending on the building. It was pretty cool a group of roughly 45 of us mostly teens (go youth power!) painted the entire building in about 3.5 hours. 
This evening I had the privilege of speaking to their "Disciples" crew. The Disciples are a group of men and women who are going through a one year program with the mission to grow in their faith. The worship was incredible! When people who are keenly aware of their brokenness and all that God has done for them praise Him, it is unforgetable. If only we could all understand our need for God's grace and appreciate it the way I experienced it tonight. I have so much to learn from these men and women that much of society has probably given up on. I was greatly humbled.
Also I wanted to give huge thanks to Becky for taking care of all the kids today. There's nothing sexy about staying behind and watching kids while everyone else is enjoying each others company and slopping paint or worshiping with new friends, but Becky did it (as always) without complaint. It freed me and our team to serve although there was no glory in it. She is the servants servant. I love her dearly and know none of my ministry would be possible without her. I also know she makes Jesus smile. I couldn't ask for a more Christ-like woman.

featured on newchurches.com