Top Ten Signs that You Might Want to Consider Living Life at a Slower Speed

Each and every one of these “examples” below were pulled straight out of the actual real life of, well, yours truly. I, of course, am not promising to do anything about it. Just sayin’ …

(1) Those brief periods you find yourself in where wifi seems to be non-present or non-functioning cause you to grit your teeth, tighten up, and possibly even hyper-ventilate

(2) You find yourself upset at how long your Keurig coffee machine is taking 

(3) You get upset when a light is green instead of red because you wanted to reply to a text or email

(4) You travel with three portable iPhone chargers, two wall iPad chargers, two wall iPhone chargers, one surface pro charger, four wall USB chargers (for the portable iPhone chargers), and three chargers that you have never known what they were but are petrified to throw away

(5) You can proudly claim that you took in the gorgeous tundra of Alaskan glaciers with How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America

(6) You refuse to even consider entering a restroom without an analyst report in hand – home or otherwise 

(7) In fifth grade you were middle of the class in math and science but did an “extra credit report” for no extra credit whatsoever on the Falklands/Argentina/Britain mess and another on the problems with UNICEF

(8) You stop going to restaurants not on Open Table (this one may be legitimate)

(9) The blessing you cite most often after years of vision impairment being surgically healed is that you can take your glasses off to read in bed

(10) Your morning jacuzzi respite at your desert home requires three or more research reports, a book, an iPad, an iPhone, and two cups of coffee 

“When I Think Back to All I Learned in High School – An Autobiographical Reflection”

For those paying attention, the title to my article is, of course, edited in terms of what Paul Simon actually said in his masterpiece song, Kodachrome. “When I think back to all the CRAP I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I learned anything at all.” So said the great songwriter, and in it, captured what so many have said over a couple generations, and even worse, what is completely true for so many over a couple generations.

When I think back to the four years I was in high school, I confess to having mixed feelings about a lot of what happened. I haven’t spent a lot of time publicly discussion much of this, but my high school years did coincide with three events that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Three days after my freshman year ended, my mother took off, never to be seen again, eventually marrying the 21-year old kid she ran away with. A year after that, the high school I attended, the high school my now late father taught for, the high school I loved, closed down. Six months later, the church my father planted when I was five years old went through an ugly church split. Three events covering the middle high school years of my life. Readers can use their imaginations on the impact these events had on me and my family.

But here’s the thing – my high school years were among the greatest years of my life – those pivotal years where so much of who I am and who I would become were developed in a formative basis. They were filled with many occasions of joy, the kinds of memories people make a collage for or a bad teen movie. I had disappointments. I had exhilirations. I experienced ups and downs. And I began the process of getting to know myself, and ultimately, developing the one attribute I literally feel compelled to thank God for every day: Despite all the challenges I have experienced in my life, and believe me, I live a blessed life, but coming out of my high school years the early foundations were there to be content – to take what life gives you, even if sometimes it is on the chin – and to live with a sort of Fight On spirit that can enables one to survive significant moments of pain, stress, and worry. I don’t believe all I learned in high school was crap, and I don’t believe it’s a wonder I learned anything at all. Friends, this is the point I am making: I believe one’s high school years are SUPPOSED to be the greatest years of their life. I believe it is supposed to be positively remembered. I believe it should have an impact of formation and character development – even when it coincided with the deterioration of one’s family, school, and church. In that sense, what I am saying is that the high school years are a sort of bridge into adulthood that represent a certain magic. People should exit high school ready to fight the good fight; ready for adulthood; armed with joy and contentment.

It is among the great burdens in my life that for so many this is not the case. And since that date 25 years ago that the Newport Mesa community lost its aforementioned high school, there has been a void in this community, despite the existence of some very good schools. For those seeking a faith-based option with a particular academic rigor, the options have required significant commuting. Many have done so, such is the commitment parents often have for their children. I would drive my children to Sa Diego if I had to – that is how badly I want them to have a memorable and positive high school experience (okay, I’d hire a driver, but you get my point). Today marks the recreation of a high school learning institution in this community I live in – one that is dedicated to teaching kids to think and live well. Today we open Pacifica Christian High School of Orange County.

There have been a series of events in the planning, visioning, and launching of this school program that suggest God has been driving it each step of the way. Providence has ruled the day, and doors have opened, and individuals found, and events unfolded in such a way that some of us wonder if it has been a supernatural experience. My co-founders on the board are people of leadership and character. Our administrative team is what we call the “A team”, and having an “A team” in ANYTHING in Christendom these days is, shall I say, not common. Our faculty are first class educators who embody a relational model of teaching. God has been in this place, and He has not despised the day of small beginnings.

I do wax and wane nostalgically about my high school years. I had good friends, good times, and a sort of social structure came about that became a substitute to the tough things I had experienced in my personal life. I wish I had ready 60-70 pages of systematic theology, because I do truly believe the 10,000 I read was (a) Excessive, (b) Unassigned by a teacher, and (c) Damaging to my development. But I think of those years with a smile – with gratitude – from the basketball team to everything else. But here is the thing I want for Pacifica that I suffer from not having today as a 41-year old man. I am a highly productive person – I was very goal-oriented even in high school, and it has carried with me. My lifestyle is one many would not understand. I wake up very, very early, and I run at the speed of sound. God wired me how He wired me, and thank God my wife loves me for who I am. But when we talk about the young men and women of Pacifica being taught to think and live well, it is my heartfelt desire that this project we have embarked upon will create producers, culture changers, and people who impact the communities in which they live. I pray they will be taught first things, understanding the basic precepts by which a cohesive and coherent worldview can be formed. I pray they soak up every moment of social interaction, learn to interact with adults, learn to have friends, and learn to be a friend. BUT I ALSO pray that they learn to live their lives at a slower speed than I live mine. I pray they live through a prism of grace and truth, always and forever, never allowing one to exist at the expense of the other.

Today, the new journey begins.
Family PCHOC photo

Angelina Jolie and Louie Zamperini – A Broken Story

I have rarely looked forward to a movie release more than I did Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. Zamperini is a hero, a national treasure, and happens to share two things near and dear to my heart: A faith in the one, true God, and the fight on spirit that is the heart of Troy (yes, in that order). He was from the same city I was born in (Torrance, California). The story of an Olympic medal winning track star who became a World War II fighter pilot who survived 47 days stranded on a lifeboat at sea before being taken as a prisoner-of-war by the Japanese army and ultimately freed is a pretty remarkable story. Angelina sort of told that part (let’s give her 20 minutes for narrative and two hours for blood lust torture porn). She got about 5-10 minutes in of his childhood and family life. And then the movie ended. Having spent 75 minutes more than she needed to on Japanese torture, she had to roll the credits. She managed to skip over 70 years of his life, like the years where he dived into abusive alcoholism, severe PTSD, and then went to a Billy Graham crusade, accepted the Lord, went back the next night, and devoted the next 65+ years of his life to a sober service to God. Louie believed in good and evil, and he spent his life seeking the former.

Jolie was given the blessing of making a movie based on a phenomenal book, about a phenomenal person. Jolie doesn’t believe Louie’s faith is relevant to this story, so she broke it out of the movie. She stuck to her dumbed-down Hollywood vomit about generic love, peace, and harmony rooted in the goodness of man blah blah blah. It was ideologically childish, creatively irresponsible, and cinematically insulting. She broke the story of a man who couldn’t be broken, and in the transcendental truths of life found redemption. If you can’t make a movie about THAT, you shouldn’t be making movies.

Annual Thanksgiving Day Reflections – 2014

This should be one of the easiest Thanksgiving Day reflections I have ever written, for the very simple reason that I am staring at the handiwork of God as I type, and I have the added inspiration of that handiwork being my backyard view here at our house in the desert. I should just get this part out of the way now – I don’t mean to say, “I am thankful because I have a house in the desert”, or “look at me, our view is awesome”. I take the risk of it coming off that way in setting up my piece as I am, so I want to crush that to the best of my ability. Yes, I am thrilled to have this respite home in Rancho Mirage, and certainly the morning view is stunning. BUT I am mentioning it and sharing it NOT to say, “look what I have” – I swear. I am starting off this year’s reflections this way because I want to say , “look what God has done”. The double meaning here is that He created this, AND He has blessed me with the ability to see it. Seeing it as I draft these reflections requires me to share it. I hope that’s all clear enough.

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The truth is that the material blessings in my life are a very small part of what I most feel grateful for this particular Thanksgiving morning. I look at out at these mountains across the fairway and lake and so forth and can only see a God who is big, and it reminds me that I am small. Maybe I am getting old and maybe God has changed my priorities, but I cannot believe how many blessings exist in our lives that we do not have to pay for, that are readily available for us to enjoy, if we just open our eyes. Sure, my backyard looks out at this view, but I don’t own the view – anyone can see what I am seeing, and all of us have eyes on a world that is utterly remarkable for how it was made. Oceans, mountains, lakes, waterfalls – pick your poison – there is creative evidence of the creativity of God right in front of our faces, no matter where we live. I am thankful for this.

I spent years of my life not seeing what was in front of me. Dealing with my own issues or wrestling my own demons or just being too plain self-absorbed, I couldn’t see the mountains because I was too focused on affording the house. Today, if I could afford 100 more of these houses, but didn’t have open eyes to the awe and power of God, it wouldn’t be remotely worth it. I mean that. I am thankful for this perspective.

There has never been a moment I was not thankful for my kids since the day they were born. I don’t really like even thinking about what kind of person I would be if they had not been born. I have always thought they were precious, adorable, and utterly special. But today I am thankful for their unique, personal, total individuality. They think a certain way, act a certain way, dream a certain way, and will become a certain person, because God made them with souls, image-bearers of Him, for whom He has a plan. As a parent this reality has not been real enough to me, and over the last year it has become more real. For this, I am thankful.

Speaking of not wanting to think about what kind of person I would be, my wife and soulmate, Joleen, is the embodiment of my Thanksgiving in so many ways. She is her own person, with her own personality, driven by what she is driven for, and simultaneously she is my partner, at my side, a total part of my life. She is a model of sacrifice and love for others, and she is determined, industrious, productive, and amazing. We have passed 13 years of married life together, and I am grateful for all 8,087 days we have had together.

I worry that people think I talk too much about my career, my clients, my love of portfolio management, etc. So I won’t pile on here. I am thankful for this moment this year, which was a symbolic summary of gratitude felt up and down my professional life.

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There has been a lot that has happened in my life over the last 523 days, but there has been a lot that has happened in my life the last 6,930 days as well. The former number may seem random but the latter number is how long it has been since my father died. In a lot of ways adulthood started that day, though I had been pretty well prepped for it (by him) beforehand. I could never explain the nature of the journey I have been on since my dad died, both to find myself, to find God, to find peace, and to find success. That journey continues today, albeit with a lot of progress made and a lot of clarity. That progress and clarity I reference are things for which I am thankful.

2014 has enabled a long-time dream of mine to come to fruition, and that is the birth of a faith-based, rigorous private high school in my hometown of Newport Beach, CA. Fall 2015 will see doors open with the inaugural class, but the work we have done over the last year to make this dream a reality has been a blessing. I have incredible partners in this dream-actualizing – Keith, David, Mike, Scott, Matt, Luis, and Ben – and countless others who are joining the team to create a multi-generational institution for liberal arts learning, and more importantly, life preparation. For these men and this opportunity, I am thankful.

There is nothing I am more thankful for this year than the enhanced serenity God has given me, even when I have least deserved it. I live life at a fast pace, and i am at peace with the fact that that is who God made me. But people like me are at risk of a severe “miss” in their lives if they are not careful – missing the mountains in the backyard, missing the funny things their four-year old says, missing their wife’s smile when they head off to work, missing those “moments” in one’s life where the greatest joy and satisfaction can be found. I have a certain symbol of the success God has given me here at this house and in this backyard. But I swear to you this beautiful Thanksgiving morning, that what I most have, is a symbol of moments I never want to miss. And yes, for this, I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
– Abraham Lincoln

Annual Thanksgiving Reflections 2013

I am going to do this year’s reflections a bit differently than I have in past years. I sincerely hope that anyone reading my reflections, especially those who have read past years worth, know that I am extremely thankful for all I have in my life. I have an unbelievable wife whom I love dearly. I have three children who mean the entire world to me. I have countless blessings in my life including health and prosperity. Each day I work in a career I find deeply fulfilling and rewarding. I am beyond thankful for a plethora of friends – the kind of friends one will have for a lifetime (is there any other kind?). It is not that any of these things ought to be glossed over. My wife, my children, my friends, and my vocational calling are the essence of my life – meaning, the essence of what God has given me to find meaning and dignity and purpose in my life. They are that in which I am most blessed and most fulfilled. I know how many people in the world do not enjoy the prosperity I do, let alone the richness of family and friends, and I am humbled by that. So of course, as is always the case, I give thanks for my friends, my family, my career, and the blessings in my life I take for granted day by day.

But this year, I also thank God for the miracle of life. I thank God for the opportunity to be engaged in life on a daily basis. I thank God that he takes the years locusts have eaten away and restores them. I thank God that we can have an abundant life, even when so often we fight against it. I picked up some groceries for my wife this morning at 6:00 in the morning. I arrived a little early and waited until the store opened with a few other people sitting in their cars or standing outside the door of the store. Two individuals raced to the liquor section upon the doors opening at 6:00. One seemed homeless – disheveled – down and out. The other did not. He was in a very nice, new white truck. He reeked of booze. They both bought their bottle of booze and got out of the store. They seemed like they had marched through the desert sands for days to get to this sip of water. It was just heart=wrenching to watch. I do not have an ounce of judgment in my body for them. I have hope. I believe that God can bring them out of death and into life. That is what God does. He delivers people from a path of incomprehensible misery to a life of unfathomable blessing. And I am so, so thankful that in my life, with a lot of things over the years that I suppose ought to be called challenging, God has given me the abundant life I describe in my top paragraph.

It does not matter what one’s particular enslavement may be – I believe we have a God who can bring people from mourning into dancing, from ashes into beauty, from death into life. This is the God worthy of our Thanksgiving. This is the miracle of life. These two guys at the grocery store are not pitiful, pathetic examples. They are the norm. And they may not ever get to taste the miracle of God’s redemptive work, but for those who do – for those who get on the side of joy and peace instead of misery and angst – we have no right to be anything other than thankful. I am not suggesting that people do not have a responsibility to make better decisions in their lives; of course they do. What I am suggesting is that those who do make that decision make it at the prodding of a God who cares, and a God who empowers them to see it through. The issues in people’s lives that keep them from finding peace and joy will be all over the map – only a limited number of people could relate to the desperate need for a bottle of vodka at 6:00 in the morning. For many it is an utter loneliness, a deep-seeded anger, a self-pity, a propensity to violence, a self-loathing resulting in tragic sexual behavior – there is sadly too long a list of the items that keep us in the miry clay. But for those who have a lifestyle of joy and peace, we have no other option but to have a lifestyle of Thanksgiving.

And this year, I do not merely mean a Thanksgiving for Joleen, Mitchell, Graham, and Sadie. I do not merely mean Thanksgiving for Tom, Brian, Aaron, Eric, Luis, Mike, John, Andrew, Bob, Rich, Paul, Brian, and my brothers. I do not merely mean Thanksgiving for my small group, my church, Roger, and my spiritual mentors. I do not merely mean Thanksgiving for my team, my clients, my business, and my career. I do not merely mean Thanksgiving for USC, the desert, Palmilla, Le Bernardin, the sunset, and the morning. I do not merely mean Thanksgiving for C.S. Lewis, Larry Kudlow, Bill Buckley, Greg Bahnsen, Tim Keller, Andrew Sandlin, NT Wright, Marvin Olasky, Brian Wesbury, Father Sirico, James Hunter, Mark Steyn, Charles Krauthammer, Gresham Machen, Abraham Kuyper, FA Hayek, and John Calvin. Believe me – I mean all of that, and more. But what I really mean above all of that is that this year I have a heart of Thanksgiving for the source of all those things – the source who gives us not just friends and family, but hope and purpose. That one is God; may we all find Him now.

Happy Thanksgiving …

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

– Abraham Lincoln