Category Archives: Family

Loving One Another: A Survivors Reflections on the Las Vegas Massacre

It’s been just over a week since Route 91 in Las Vegas, and I still can’t shake the thought of losing a dear friend. The tears may not be as often, but the emptiness remains. I haven’t even started to process the personal impact to bullets flying over my head, the thought of dying or losing my wife, or the bullet that went through my wife’s hat. I want to erase it all from my mind, and even my life, but I can’t so instead I reflect.

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As I reflect, I am a victim, a survivor, a husband, a father, a Christian, a pastor, and a citizen of this great country. I reflect on the unity I saw in the moments of terror and distress, but also on the division that quickly came back into view. Until we realize what our problem is, we will never find a solution to the acts of violence we (all too often) experience.

As I crouched down below the bleachers with my wife doing our best to avoid the hundreds of rounds of ammunition flying everywhere, I couldn’t help but notice the people. There were people everywhere. It was dark but I could see them nonetheless. Off-duty police officers and firefighters, ex and present military, medical professionals and random people (including one of my best friend’s) that attended Route 91 for a weekend of great music turned into first responders. They put themselves into harm’s way in hopes of helping an injured person. Most didn’t even think twice. What they definitely didn’t do was inquire of the injured person’s race, religion, political affiliation, or sexual preference before trying to help. They were human beings helping other human beings.

I also heard countless people crying out to God. They were begging for protection and preservation. I know enough about God to know that he didn’t only listen to certain people. He heard every cry of every person in that area. Whether they believed in him or not, he listened. Whether they truly knew who they were crying out to or not, he listened.

Not too long after the bullets stopped flying, and for the days that have followed, the unity has diminished. Maybe not between the people that attended Route 91 that night, but definitely from much of the rest of the country. Instead of learning about what to do in crisis from those that were in the crisis, the rest of the country went right back to pointing fingers and blaming others.

You’d think that as a pastor, I’d shift to talking about how great the church was in it’s response to the horrific Las Vegas shooting. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. Yes, there were a few wonderful churches that stepped up. But too many individuals that make up the whole body of Christian’s which proclaim to follow Jesus participated in the finger-pointing and blaming just like everyone else.

What has this world come to? Do we longer have concern for our brother’s and sisters? I don’t have the perfect answer, but I do have some thoughts. And as a victim, a survivor, a husband, a father, a Christian, a pastor, and a citizen of this great country, I felt it was my time to speak.

We must recognize that we are part of the problem. Yes, you and I. Prayerfully, we aren’t the ones taking other people’s lives. But we take sides on every issue, whether that issue is race, religion, life, guns, you name it. We blame everyone else without considering our fault in the matter. We are willing to overlook or ignore the facts for sake of looking bad or being wrong. We demonize people because of their affiliations. We will never be at peace with one another until we realize that none of those things leads to peace. That division leads to war, much like the one I was in on October 1, 2017.

The Bible says that the greatest commandment of all is to love God AND love others. Jesus spoke those words together. Even if you are not a Christian, or don’t believe in the Bible, you have to admit that loving one another makes a whole lot more sense than hating (and hurting) one another. But what does this love look like?

Loving one another means being willing to sacrifice ourselves for others, much like those first responders were willing to sacrifice themselves for complete strangers (and some paid the price for doing so).

Sacrifice may mean being willing to squash our pride in needing to always be right.

Sacrifice may mean considerately listening to someone we are vehemently opposed to.

Sacrifice may mean we may need to step across “party lines” to make things better.

Sacrifice definitely means that we must be willing to give up some rights to protect the ultimate right, the right to life.

 

So the question is now, what will you do?


As 2015 ends…my personal reflection

Personal Mission Statement
I have always been a pretty big “goal” guy. I have been writing down goals since early in my sales career and about 5 years ago I added personal goals to the mix. But in mid-2014, I really thought through the purpose of my goals. Because I follow Jesus Christ, and desire to live for him, the purpose of my goals had to be Christ-centered. So in June 2014, I committed to the following personal mission statement:

To love and lead my family well as a husband and father.
To preach the word of God and disciple the people of God as a pastor.
To provide for my family and grow my sphere of influence in order to image Christ as a business professional.
To live a life full of joy in Christ, regardless of my circumstances, as a disciple of Christ.

The Journey of 2015
2015 was both an exciting year and a difficult year.

Fitness, by way of Crossfit, became a more significant part of my life than it ever had. I am part of one of the best gyms (Resolution Crossfit) and many of the coaches and members have become like family. The difficult workouts and supportive environment have pushed me to achieve many of the fitness goals I set for myself. Though I am not at my ideal weight nor do I sit at the top of my gym’s leaderboard, I can complete 5 unbroken muscle-ups, a 305lb front squat, and a 325lb back squat (all specific goals I had set for 2015). I’ve achieved many other personal records while flirting with lots more.

My business, RJM, saw more success in 2015 than it had since I started in 2011. I jumped back into the employed workforce in June 2015 by accepting a position as Director of Sales and Marketing with one of my clients, Centennial. I can say that it is hand-down the best company I have ever worked for and I am thankful everyday for the God-given opportunity. Taking this job allowed me to exceed my monthly income goal for 2015, which provided stability at home while offering my family opportunities to support needs outside of our own through the year. It has also provided an outlet for me to steward many of the gifts God has blessed me with in new ways. I am being stretched daily and I love it!

Our family is flourishing, though we have seen our share of hard days. I am daily blown away by the fact that God graced me with an amazing wife and two beautiful girls. We are regularly pressing to grow closer together, and do so by going on mini-adventures (with crazy family selfies), by seeking God, and by sticking together when times are tough. Memories have been made, but what lies ahead is even more exciting.

Personally, the year has been interesting to say the least. I had some of the best days of my life and I experienced depression for the first time in my life. I’ve questioned most every facet of my life (personal, professional, spiritual), yet as the end of 2015 draws near I stand confident in Christ believing with all my heart that I am exactly where He has called me to be. One of my big goals was to begin memorizing a book of the Bible. I chose Ephesians and sought to memorize the first chapter. It took a (long) while for me to really get going but I’m excited that 60% of the chapter is stuck in my brain!

I am happy that I achieved many of the goals I set out to achieve in 2015 while sticking close to my mission statement. That said, I have a long way to go in fulfilling that mission statement well.

Creating unbelievable outcomes in 2016
2016 is going to be the “year of the outcome” for me. I want to see awesome outcomes in fitness, family, personal, professional, and family aspects. Some of those areas have very specific numbers set to them, while others are tied to specific dates. But I know this. If I seek each one of those goals through the lens of my personal mission statement, 2016 will be my best year yet.

 


Does My Christianity Even Matter to You?

I have been thinking about that question a lot lately. But not in a theoretical way. I am really considering the point of my Christianity to the people around me. Specifically, to people around me that are not Christians. And even more specific, to those that I care about and/or care about me. This really stems from a lot that I have been reading lately as well as conversations I have been having. And this question then opens up a whole host of others:

  • If you knew me before I became a Christian, do you see any positive differences in my life?
  • How about in our relationship/friendship? Are you treated better now than then?
  • If I quit Christianity tomorrow, would it change how you see me? For good or bad?
  • Do you avoid certain things/areas of life with me because of my Christianity?

 

So does it? Does my Christianity even matter to you?

 


Fearless Living

I just finished the book “Fearless”, a story about the heroic life and death of Naval SEAL Team Six Operator Adam Brown. I loved it for so many reasons, but for lack of desire in writing a book report I just want to share a few thoughts that have stirred in my heart as a result of reading it.

First, I want my life to be different. Not necessarily different than it is now, though it will have to be, but definitely different than the “norm.” I want to exhaust myself in loving my wife and loving my children. I want them to know that they mean more to me than anything or anyone else on this earth and are only second to God in my heart. I want them to know that because God is first, they are able to get more of me than I could give them on my own. I want to enjoy more silly, irresponsible, and ridiculous times with my kids. I want to be more romantic and caring with my wife. I know I just don’t do those things enough.

Second, I want to worry less about the little things. I don’t want the temporal junk in this world to have so much weight on my attitude and demeanor. I realize wasted time in God’s economy is such a shame and absolutely unnecessary. There are just too many great things going on to get hung up with junk. Instead, I want to spend all my time in life pressing into what matters most (God and family).

Third, I want everyone around me to realize that every bit of good in me (my talent, recognition, achievements, and good days) is the result of a God that loved me. I try to take credit at times to my own fault, but it’s always been God. I didn’t know or understand it was God until August 13, 2001 but He knew it before he formed me. Without God, my life would be so meaningless but because of Him, everything has a purpose.

So what will I do? How will the inspiration from this book last longer than the night? I am not completely sure but I do know that I will try my best to fearlessly attack each one of those areas above. If the life and death of Adam Brown taught me anything, it was that if I set my mind to something and trust God with it, failure is nothing more than an opportunity for a greater appreciation of eternal victory!

 

Oh…and go read the book!


It Has Been Redeemed

At the age of 6, my parents divorced and I began visiting my dad on weekends and extended holidays. Though I didn’t see him as much as a child should see his father, I have fond memories of spending time together. Memories of being in the desert for his birthday (and many other times) riding motorcycles, burning Christmas trees and just laughing like crazy. Other memories include vacationing to the Grand Canyon and Lake Mead. We had a great time. 

In the middle of high school, I moved in with my dad wanting to know more about him and experience life with him every day. I have fond memories then too. He worked with me to get my driver’s license and taught me to drive a boat as we were out in the ocean fishing. 

But as the years passed and I started becoming an adult, the fond memories faded as the negative ones came front and center. I began to feel the hurt from years passed and they were strong. In 2001, I severed all ties with my dad and it stood that way for almost 10 years. They were years of complete silence on my end. I had hardened my heart so much that when he would call to talk, I would ignore all attempts. Thankfully, God began to lay on my heart the need to reconcile with my dad. God said that not only did I need to forgive for what I was angry for, but I had to ask for forgiveness for my wrong doing as well. 

I thank God every single day for burdening my heart for that. I’ll never forget the day I walked into BJ’s Restaurant in Temecula, nervous as I had ever been in my life. I wasn’t expecting much, but when I saw my dad and the emotion on his face I knew that the restoration process had already begun. As we talked, we shared with each other that during the time apart we had both come to salvation in Jesus Christ. It was amazing.

It’s been about a year and a half since that day at BJ’s and our relationship is the best it has been in the 34 years I have been alive. I see things in my dad I never saw before. I remember all the great times we had from when I was just a little boy. If I died today, I know that God has already redeemed every single minute we were apart. 

I am not good about sending cards and didn’t send my dad one for Father’s Day. Instead I choose to write this blog so everyone reading it would know what God did for me and my dad. And I write this as a gift to my dad so he could hear maybe for the first time ever how grateful I really am. For what you say? Here are a few reasons:

  • For running up and down Walnut Street as I learned to ride my first bike without training wheels.
  • For giving me opportunities to enjoy vacations I may never be able to provide for my kids
  • For instilling in me a strong work ethic and a sense of pride in all I do
  • For teaching me to fix things that are broken and improve things that need it
  • For being the strongest dad a little kid could ever know
  • For accepting every fault I ever had and still loving me the same
  • For reaching out to help when my pride tried to stand in the way
  • For giving me an excuse for being loud, for being outspoken and for getting into a new hobby every other week 🙂
  • For waiting patiently when I wouldn’t give in
  • For accepting Jesus Christ into your life so we will spend eternity together in heaven
  • For loving me