Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July with Jim

The month of July is now just hours away and I am preparing to meet my good friend and mentor, Dr. Jim.  I first met Jim when he was instructing a Dale Carnegie class on a night both of us still talk about twenty three years later.  He later told me that I was either going to be a strong student or a trouble maker.  Here is my side of the first encounter...

It was St.  Patrick's Day, 1987.  My friend Laurel and I decided to check out this Dale Carnegie class which is designed to help you become better at communicating as well as improve human relations.  At the front of the class was Dr. Jim.  He was sharply dressed.  The class of about fifty donned mostly business attire while Laurel and I flashed green hats with matching green suspenders.  The only thing missing was my dad's "world famous" shillelagh (click here to find out more about his walking stick).

Jim and his team of GA's (that is, graduate assistants who wanted to come back for a double-dose) did not know what to think about this odd-looking couple.  My thoughts kept drifting to the St. Patrick's Day celebrations going on at a pub nearby.  One of the GA's, Mike, impressed me with a memory technique he used to learn everyone's first and last names (that's fifty first and last names in less than sixty minutes).  Interesting, I thought... this class looks like something worthwhile.  I shook Jim's hand and headed out for some green beer, excited to return the following week for more fun. 

I met my future wife while I was attending this class and brought her to my graduation night.  I guess the class fulfilled it's mission...improve human relations.  My instructor told me, you don't take the class, you live it.  After graduation, I became a GA and these people became part of my inner circle.

When I left Phoenix twenty one years ago...Jim showed up at my home a couple of weeks later just as I was departing for a cousin's wedding.  I gave him the keys to my new home and told him, "mi casa es su casa".  My new bride was honking the horn...time to leave my friend and his family on Mulligan mountain.  I told him, come back next summer and we'll do it again.  This has been going on every July since 1989.

We always go to a Padres baseball game and dinner.  His two boys are now grown adults and his wife looks as beautiful as she was the first day I met her.  There have been times visiting Jim when I have seen the sunrise before getting home.

Yes, July with Jim is almost here.  I thank him for giving me permission to use his first name here and for being one of the first to review my manuscript before it goes to press.  After much classroom time, he has earned the right to be called doctor, an achievement he pursued over the years that we have been friends.  I am thankful that he has agreed to offer his opinion of my book and his words will be on the back cover.

One of my favorite memories of "July with Jim" was one evening after dinner.  His youngest son was about five and he whispered a question into my ear, "Are you and Helen going to have relations tonight?"  I paused..."I don't know, ask Helen."  Then my friend and his family departed.  His youngest son had a big smile on his face as he watched me and my wife drive away.

May your life be Blessed with friends like my buddy, Jim, and his family.  He is right about what he said, "you don't take the course, you live the course."  I will launch my book on the 24th anniversary of our first meeting in the Dale Carnegie class.  It will also be my daughter's 18th birthday and Zoom's 6th birthday.  Thank you, Jim, for all you continue to teach me and for being my friend on this roller coaster we call life.  See you in July...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Fruits

It is early Sunday morning as I write this post, to be published a couple of days into the future.  I got the opportunity last night to "make a confession" in front of my pastor and the whole congregation regarding my secret activity with another church (Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church) these last months.  I stated before the stunned crowd that I had been stealing food (that is, if you call buying restaurant quality food valued at $75 to $100 for a just $30 per box stealing).

I will be repeating this confession a couple more times this morning in order to let others know how they too can get food at a major discount.  The final hurdles are about to be removed... soon, the Treasure Box will be rolling in monthly for the good of all.

As I was on the phone with my pastor, he asked me to please be the chairman on the dinner/auction committee for an event in February.  My first thought was to say no as it is in the final month prior to launching my first book and life is a little bit crazy right now.  After a brief pause, I decided to go for it.  At the end of the conversation, a thought entered my brain...why not just donate the very first copy of the book to the highest bidder at the auction and give the proceeds to our church?  This will be the first fruit of my labor and I want to offer it back to my Creator.

It looks like there won't be any TV for me for the next nine months.  It has been especially hard to miss out on Wimbledon (that is the "other sport" going on besides the World Cup) because of my full plate.  Everyone tells me how exciting it was to watch two tennis players set a record for the longest match in history which played out over three full days and I missed it.  Darn...this book writing is now going full throttle and there will be even more sacrifices ahead.

Stay tuned for details on how you can bid for the collector's edition of "God's Black Sheep Squadron" and other amazing items.  Anyone who has anything to donate, just send me an email and I will acknowledge you at the auction.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Trepidation Nation

Don't be afraid, little flock. Your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom - Luke 12:32

There is a reason the word fear is used so often in the Bible.  Jesus knows our hearts.  Do any of these words look familiar?...fear, apprehension, dread, fearfulness, fright, agitation, anxiety, worry, nervousness, tension, misgivings, unease, uneasiness, foreboding, disquiet, dismay, consternation, alarm, panic; informal butterflies (in one's stomach), jitteriness, the jitters, the creeps, the shivers, a cold sweat, the heebie-jeebies, the willies, the shakes, jim-jams, collywobbles, cold feet.

Millions in our country take Zoloft or Paxil to deal with fear.  We have become a trepidation nation.  As I was waking up this morning, the word trepid would not leave my mind.  What is causing me to dwell on this?  Maybe, it has to do with living outside the cave in a community that is very much afraid.  I can feel these vibes coming from others.  They are also being transmitted by forces that are not of this world.

It is strange to see how fear and it's opposite, "equanimity", that is...composure, calm, level-headedness, self-possession, coolheadedness, presence of mind; serenity, tranquility, phlegm, imperturbability, equilibrium; poise, assurance, self-confidence, aplomb, sangfroid, nerve; informal cool can co-exist in a person at the same time.

In my personal life, I can clearly see why the forces of evil want to stop me and why the Heavens wish to offer assistance.  I see the wall of black clouds on the horizon.  The passengers in my boat are fatigued.  I have been asked to trade in the cross I have been carrying for a larger one.  Compared to the one Jesus carried, it is but a small twig, yet I feel it's weight and all the negative emotions that come with it.

I do not like the feeling of doubt.  These feelings will require a more intense prayer life and even greater focus on the priorities over these remaining months.  Today, I will reach out to my prayer warrior friends.  My hope is in the Holy Spirit and my prayer is that I will become qualified in time so that my mission on this planet will be fulfilled to His satisfaction.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Danger, Danger, Will Robinson

I was barely five years old when the sci-fi TV series, "Lost in Space", debuted in black and white.  Although Guy Williams (he was the dad) and Jonathon Harris (Dr. Smith), are no longer with us, you can still view them on old episodes that never seem to go out of style.  I can still hear the robot yelling out "Danger, Danger, Will Robinson", as he flails his mechanical arms nervously.

Wouldn't it be so nice to have a robot like this to warn us every time danger is in the air?  Perhaps, this would help to keep us out of trouble?  Imagine, you are on the Internet and something pops up that arouses your curiosity.  Before you blink your eye, Will's robot shows up on your monitor..."Danger, Danger, unsafe material ahead!  Exit now or you will be lost!"

You are on the road with your family.  Suddenly,  the car in front of you cuts you off.  You feel the rage building inside and you are ready to retaliate...the robot pops up on your dash mat repeating his words, "danger, not engage the enemy."

Most of us have a mini-version of the robot inside of us.  Somehow, the enemy has figured out a way to short-circuit this warning device, otherwise known as our conscience, and we have become deaf to it's voice.  "Relax, nobody is looking...just have a little fun" says another voice.  The temptation causes your heart to beat a little faster and you try to de-activate the robot so that you don't have to feel guilty.  Why does the enemy know your greatest weaknesses?

Maybe, He has studied us for so long that He sees patterns in our behavior.  Or, could it be that He uses the rapid-fire approach?...just keep shooting at us until something finally causes us to fall.  The lesson I learned from dealing with the Enemy is that I need to keep the volume turned up on my robot.  The first time I hear "danger, danger", I need to heed the warning and walk away from the temptation.  Beware, the enemy is more clever than ever.  His purpose in life is to destroy your robot and then invade your soul.  He may be lost in space forever, but this does not have to be your fate.

Here is a video clip that was made before Dr. Smith left our world for good.  May his soul rest in peace...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gilligan and Skinny Mulligan...the Untold Story

Long before the skipper's "little buddy" became famous on Gilligan's Island, Gilligan hung out with his best friend, skinny Mulligan at his home in north Phoenix.  It was a fun place to grow up...hiking in the mountains, catching giant chuckawallas (see picture), and playing military games with neighbors and cousins. I can still smell the pinto beans and my grandmother's homemade tortillas.

There is one particular moment that the Mulligan clan rarely discusses...a dark memory from a childhood prank gone bad.  You see, growing up in our family, it was normal to play tricks on people.  After all, our "grammy" was the one who taught us how to play practical jokes on others, much to the chagrin of granddad (may their souls rest in peace). It was not uncommon for one of us to crawl on the floor during class or stoop down in the boy's bathroom to untie a classmate's shoe in order to win a challenge.  In fact, I still double-knot my shoes to this day nearly four decades later!

The last day that Gilligan was allowed to play with us, we were hanging out in our front yard playing Red Rover.  I was the runt of the bunch, so Gilligan decided to exploit this weakness in the link.  Gilligan knew of the Mulligans' competitiveness, so he came at my cousin (don't worry, JRM...I won't reveal your name here) and me at full speed.  Just as he approached the weak side of the wall of Mulligans, my partner in crime (not even Alcatraz could keep us captive) and I let go, sending poor Gilligan right into my parents' blue '71 VW Van.  Gilligan went down hard and there was blood everywhere.  Luckily, we found the missing tooth and returned it to it's owner.

As I watched Gilligan on his TV show, I was always amazed at how good his teeth looked.  I think some of his quirkiness was a result of the brain damage from his encounter with the VW van at 30 mph.  He only brought my name up a few times on his show and it was nice of him to keep the Red Rover thing a secret.

As for the rest of the Mulligans, somehow, we managed to overcome our silliness and have grown up to become somewhat-productive members of society.  I am hoping to see some of my cousins at the concert put on by Mark Mulligan (see family/friends link above),  on August 26th...he's the one who lives on the real Mulligan's Island.  If you see Gilligan (or any of my cousins) at the concert, let's keep the Red Rover story between us, he was never really the same after that little accident as you can see any time you watch him in the re-runs.  Thank God the skipper was able to keep him in line, unlike we Mulligans.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bailing Water

When the passengers set sail for a three hour cruise on the S.S. Minnow, they got much more than they bargained for.  A storm appeared out of nowhere and swept them far away from their old lives.  I couldn't resist offering this video for those of you who spent countless hours watching "Gilligan's Island".

Did you notice the sign that the skipper used to attract passengers?... the one displaying "free lunches"?  Funny, I have probably seen every episode and never once noticed that free lunch offer until today ( stuff usually has some kind of hidden price tag).  One more tidbit, it's a trivia question...who was Gilligan's best friend?  If you said skinny Mulligan, you are definitely a fan.

When that little boat got caught in the storm, life changed for everyone.  Real life is the same way.  We are forced to bail water in order to keep our boat from sinking.  I am convinced that some of these storms come from the Evil One.  He just cannot stand to see people connecting with our Creator and with each other.

Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann, is a real-life example of how evil attacks when you are trying to use your gifts to help others.  I got an opportunity to meet her and the professor when they were in San Diego to sign autographs.  I told her about my special friend, James, who called me Gilligan and repeatedly asked me where the skipper was.  Wish you could have seen the look on his face when I gave him autographed pictures from the professor and Mary Ann.  Mary Ann wrote, "James, Gilligan found me and the professor, where is the skipper?"...I bet James still has those autographed pictures on his wall.

How did the forces of evil try to destroy Mary Ann's  "girl next-door" image?  Watch her video below.  Dawn had to bail a lot of water to get back on track.   The lesson I learned from her is that it is better to keep bailing water than to give up.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Smoke Signals

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.  But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,  but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast - Genesis 4:3-5

Long before Twitter, Facebook, and the Droid, the Native Americans communicated using smoke signals.  The first human family knows all about smoke signals in the story of two brothers, Cain and Abel.  They both made offerings to our Creator.  Only one was pleasing to God, evidenced by the smoke that rose up to the Heavens.  Cain became jealous and killed his brother.

Today, I am sending modern day smoke signals to past friends and leaders who have since become disconnected from my community.  I want all of you to know that you are on my heart every day.  My days of living in the cave are behind me.  The smoke I am sending up in today's post is meant for you...your time teaching me and guiding me will soon bear much fruit.

It is sometimes difficult to stand up to the evil in our world because of the relentless attacks.  My community and my family are being bombarded both internally and externally.  The reason some of you are disconnected is because these evil forces hated everything you stood for, especially for inviting the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.

It has been years since that ancient technique called "laying of hands" was first applied on this servant.  It became a "smoke signal" for the enemy and has attracted Him to this beautiful community.  There will be thermo-nuclear style attacks in future days and much prayer will be needed.

Please see today's smoke signal rising to the Heavens and know that wherever you are, you are still connected to all of us.  It is time for this community to heal.  I came here twenty one years ago to escape evil and it found me while I was hiding in the cave.  The Holy Spirit has called me out and my fire is blazing.  The enemy is pulling out all the stops to thwart what God has planned, however, God has heard the cries of His people and He has seen their smoke signals.  It is enough to give the committed follower a migraine that won't go away.  For anyone in my community, past and present, I pray that you see today's smoke are not alone, and you are loved.  God is sending in His troops.  Yes, help is on the way...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Sidelines

It may seem like a paradox to go out into stormy waters in order to gain peace and serenity.  Yesterday, I mentioned that those who want to stay in calm waters are sissies.  There is a difference between leaving your boat docked in what appears to be a safe harbor vs. sailing into rough seas.  The one who faces the storms finds tranquility while the one who remains on the sidelines becomes restless.

All over the country, students are graduating from grade school, high school and college.  It is time for them to depart and begin a new adventure, a new chapter in their lives.  The unknown is perhaps a little scary.  Pirates are lurking, waiting for their prey.  Hurricanes are on the horizon.  Why not just avoid the inevitable storms?

Deep inside you, you already know the were created to sail.  One day, you will find calm waters with sandy beaches.  You will marvel at the corral.  Like you, this corral found it's magnificence in the thrashing waters that broke it repeatedly.  Without an antagonist, this corral would not be so colorful or shapely.  It found it's purpose in the treacherous conditions far from those who stayed on the sidelines...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dangerous Prayer

God is looking for people to use, and if you can get usable, he will wear you out. The most dangerous prayer you can pray is this: 'Use me.' - Rick Warren

Are you experiencing some stormy weather?  Most people would prefer for the dark clouds to pass and for everything to just calm down.  Want to try something bold?  How about the dangerous prayer Rick Warren is referring to in the quote above?

Rick knows from experience just how daring it is to ask God to use you.  In order to help you decide if you would like to ask God to use you, why not click this link and read the first seven chapters of his book, "the Purpose Driven Life", for free?  Warning!  Clicking is dangerous...This link may lead to dangerous prayer-click here if you feel brave.

Did you skip over the link (just click on that red text)?  Well, you may end up thinking about it all day.  Don't fret, those free chapters will still be here tomorrow.  A lesson that I have learned is that most free things have a price.  Sometimes, passing on stuff offered gratis also has a price.  My recommendation is that you go back and click that link you avoided.  Be bold.  Besides, calm waters are for sissies... only God knows where the calm waters are... how do you get there?...that's right.  You have to leave the dock and go where the not-so-faint-hearted go, an adventure that will last a life-time.  Ready to sail?

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Void is Filled

On Friday night, I met with the people who will be running the Treasure Box in Ramona.  The Holy Spirit has been working in the hearts of several people at the same time and now His plans are being revealed for the benefit of our community of 65,000.

I have received emails from my friends at RB Presbyterian Church down the hill offering to assist with any brochures or materials we may need.   I cannot thank these people enough for donating their time so that I could get food for my family at such a great price over these last months.

Someone handed my firefighter buddy, Pat, information about this great program and asked him to "get it done".  He and Martha met with the top leaders of the Treasure Box to get Ramona included in their territory.  Ramona is no longer "out of bounds".

There are a couple of final hurdles that we need to overcome in order to launch.  The first is due diligence regarding insurance.  Our team has suffered some legal trouble due to past mistakes and failures.  There are some other teams out there that resent our shortcomings.  My job will be to reach out and ask these other teams to please forgive us for our sins and join with us to get these treasure boxes delivered to our community.

This program is not a hand out, it is a hand up, an opportunity for people to save money on food.  It is not designed to hurt our local grocery stores.  It is set up to help anyone who wants to be prudent with their money.

I can't wait for Thanksgiving.  Last year, I missed out on the extra special Thanksgiving treasure box because it sells out so quickly.  I have a feeling that this former "out of bounds" community will soon reach 1,000 boxes a month.

The last minute details of checking out insurance requirements and how to handle money appropriately will be worked out so that anyone in my community wanting to order a box will be able to do it online through

In an effort to keep this program from overwhelming the volunteers who staff our church, all Treasure Box inquiries will be handled by Martha Johnston and her secretary, Michelle.  Her phone number is (760)789-4105 and her email is  Once the final approval has been given, the best way to get your treasure box will be to go directly to the website, type in your zip code and place your order.  A new kid's box has just been added and it will be a big hit.  Make sure and look at the variety of boxes before placing your order.

Please pray for Martha's team.  She will need the help of all church groups and community organizations to recruit volunteers and to spread the word about this amazing program.

Okay, time to get to work.  Feel free to email me at if you have questions or if you would like me to speak to your organization regarding the Treasure Box.  The order deadline for the July 31st delivery is Sunday, July 18th.  You will be able to place your order online as soon as the final papers are signed or you can place a cash order directly with Martha.

Come back soon for updates and thanks for spreading the word.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

God Multiplies

The math that I learned in school is so different from God's math.  I cringe as I remember struggling with calculus, although I was attracted to algebra because it was all about solving the unknown, like putting a puzzle together.

God's math is not like anything I ever studied.  Like algebra, it is full of does not make sense when you attempt to understand the way He can multiply or perform any other equation.  Imagine what it would have felt like to see a little boy come forward with a few loaves of bread and some fish when Jesus asked the crowd to share their food.  Are you kidding me?  Feed 5,000 men plus their wives and children...with scraps?

God's math includes us in all of His equations.  He does not need us in His arithmetic, yet He desires to share Himself in all of our problems.  That crowd was treated to something out of this world that day they gathered to hear Jesus.  The first followers also got something really special...a first-hand look at how God multiplies.

Math is just one of God's subjects.  He has a huge list of things that He wants to share with our world.  In order to witness all the good that is in store for us, it starts with a math question,   "what do we have to add to God's equation?"  Take a look at what you have to offer and throw it in to the mix...let's see what happens when God multiplies...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Counterattack

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest - Revelations 6:1-2

Those of you close to me know that the enemy has been relentless in attacking all aspects of my life.  I think of the followers of Jesus who were facing a massive storm.  They thought they were going to die.  Jesus slept as the apostles feared for their lives.  After waking up, He calmed the seas and the followers settled down.

When facing an enemy that is intent on destroying you, you have choices.  Number one, stay in the foxhole and continue to take on heavy casualties.  Number two, retreat.  Number three, raise the white flag of surrender.  Number four, COUNTERATTACK!

I am sick and tired of watching those close to me get hurt just because the enemy wants to stop God's plans for me and the people I am connected to.  The word retreat is NOT in my vocabulary... nor is surrender.  That's right, you've got it, bring on the counterattack...

I sing God's praises as I apply bandages to the wounded.  I will stand with Martha, Pat, and the rest of the team that will bring much needed supplies to the hungry in my community and I promise to stand tall no matter what weapon the Enemy launches at me or my team.

Weapons?  Oh yes.  My arsenal is well stocked...together we will counterattack with artillery that includes faith, hope and love.  The hand grenades of forgiveness will be distributed for everyone on God's team and all of us will join together.  We will surround ourselves with God's angels.  St. Michael, the archangel will bring in his battalion to protect us while "God's Black Sheep Squadron" defeats the Evil One.

Armor?  It's state of the art.  It starts with a bath in cool, running water.  Each is asked to be Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This guarantees eternal life for all who receive the armor of God.

So, just exactly who will join this squadron of black sheep?  It is anyone who ever felt lost, fallen, or defeated.  That includes me, my family, my Zoom partners, my community, and a host of outcasts from all over the planet.  Our Creator has already announced which side will be victorious.  Read the final chapter of the Bible to confirm my words.

Satan, I know you are trying to stop me.  You have wreaked havoc on many that are close to me.  I refuse to leave the front lines and I am fighting you with everything I've got.  My songs of praise to God may be filled with sharps and flats, but God hears my songs and He delights.  The book, "God's Black Sheep Squadron", will be published on time (March 17th, 2011) and God's team will celebrate victory at ground zero.  The counterattack has been declared.  Please join me on the battlefield...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is There a God?

I don't think there has ever been a time in my life when I doubted the existence of a Supreme Being.  I did mistakenly believe, however,  that the universe was too big for Him to pay attention to an insignificant creature like me.  This thinking got me into a lot of trouble.  Possessions became my identity.  The more stuff I had, the more valuable I was.  Image was more important than feelings.

The million dollar question is, "Does God love me?"  If you can answer yes, the next question is, "Does God have time for me?"  Since He has power over time, the logical answer is yes.  The question I overlooked is, "Do I have time for God?"  My belief is that God is constantly at work, sending the right people at the right time to show me He loves me and He has time for me.  These people are around me to encourage me to make time for Him.

It is difficult to comprehend that this Creator of the universe sent His only Son to die for me and for you.  For most of my life, I could see the faults in others, yet was blind to my own shortcomings.  I had trouble with the idea that Jesus died for people on my hate list and never considered myself valuable enough in God's eyes that someone would die for my sins.

Jesus hit the nail on the head.  He made the meaning of life simple, love God with everything you have and love your neighbor unconditionally.  The more we do these two things, the more He reveals Himself to us.

My prayer for you today is that you recognize just how much God loves you and that you make time in your busy life to be with Him.  I also pray that you share that love with your neighbor...maybe it will help him or her to know that there is a God.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Treasure Box Coming to Ramona

My good friend, Martha, who runs "Martha's Kitchen" (that is our nick-name for the soup kitchen she runs for the needy) in Ramona is stepping it up big time to expand food distribution to anyone looking to get great prices on food.  Rich or poor, there are no restrictions.  My firefighter buddy, Pat Byrne (see post, "Private Faith", from May 26th), has volunteered to pick up the food down the hill until we have enough orders to qualify for free delivery.  Pat wants to get this food all the way to Julian and to some of the people now in prison near Julian (Hey Pat, are you going to put that flashing blue light from K-Mart on your truck again when you make the food deliveries?).

Many volunteers will be needed to distribute the food once a month on Saturday morning.  This program will be run out of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, but it is for EVERYONE, regardless of faith or no faith.  Let's bring these churches together for the good of everyone in our community.

I have been buying two boxes every month at the Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church.  These volunteers have been exceptional.  Now, it is our turn to help others.  Send me an email if you are interested in helping out.  I will be helping Martha's team by speaking to the other churches in Ramona and making some announcements after church.  It is really exciting to be helping out for such a great cause.

check out their site for details,  Martha will have everything ready in time for the July delivery.  Thanks for spreading the word and check out the July menu below...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Point - Counterpoint

I would like to start today's blog with a big thank you to my friend, Olivier.  He is the real-life person behind the fictional character I created on this blog (see the earlier posts about "Atheist Alex").  I wanted opposing views to be expressed without violating anyone's privacy, however, Olivier has given me permission to use his first name here from now on.  He has also agreed to be a special guest blogger and will be featured here in the near future.  Olivier promised that his wife will also be participating and to expect many questions from her.

This is what this blog is all about, an opportunity for people of all faiths, or no faith to come together and share ideas or questions.  The hard part for me will be to defend my position when my good friend is so well-versed in history, culture and logic.  After all, he was raised in France and has much more experience from the world's view.  If you read my Kindergarten report card, you know that I started out as a "C" student.  Perhaps I am not the best choice to be representing the Christian side of this discussion?  Oh well, I always love a good challenge and I am no stranger to being the underdog.  My hope is that Olivier will discover the driving force that is inside of me.  His backhand is one of the best in all of Ramona and he is a national level ping pong player.  I will be calling on the Heavens to sustain me in the debate ahead.

I do feel a passion burning inside of me to learn more about history.  Our country was founded by a bunch of rebels who pursued freedom.  They were willing to die for it.  What was in their hearts and minds as they wrote the "Declaration of Independence" or the constitution?  What did they believe?  I am learning so much about our history and world history.  While our ancestors fought to protect the rights of individuals, separation of church and state was a foundation that was used to set up our country.  This may work in politics, however, history and religion can never be separated.  So much of who we are today comes from man's desire to search for our beginning and for our purpose.

If my seventh grade teacher is still alive, I want her to know that I am heeding her advice.  Yes, I agree... I think I can do better and I promise to share my faith without holding anything back.  Tune in for the guest post from Olivier.  We were on the same side of the fence when are ancestors fought against the English and we are on the same team as we battle opposing tennis players from "down the hill".  When it comes to God vs. No God, we are far apart.  Olivier, I promise to treat your views with dignity and respect.  This site is not about attacking others, it is about finding answers to profound questions.  You and your wife are special people.  Our country is better because you have chosen to come here, start a couple of businesses, and create jobs.  Regardless of what we believe or don't believe, we can agree that this country we both live in is filled with opportunity.

If you would like to follow this blog, please add your name to the followers.  There are some exciting topics ahead and you will get the opportunity to see them unfold, one day at a time.  It is a preview of the main event, to be published next March...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Lighthouse

I would like to welcome all of my tennis buddies to this site.  Over the weekend, at the house warming party, I shared with you for the first time that I am a writer and blogger.  I know, it is shocking to learn just how little we know about each other even though we have been on the tennis courts for so many years.  So, Lynn, Tim, Larry, Katie, Chris, Stacey, Tori, Jim, Olivier, Sybil, and Corri (and all my other team-mates who missed the party), I welcome you to my blog and I look forward to autographing copies of the book next March for you.  It was a real treat to get to know all of you on a deep level and I look forward to spending more time with you in the future.

The funny thing about lighthouses is that they don't have complicated brains.  The owner of the lighthouse flips the switch, and whoa, instant light.  Ships are safe and nobody is lost.  We have that same switch in our heads, however, all that circuitry in there gets tangled up and confused, making the choice to become like a lighthouse difficult.

Since my cave exit, I have been selective about the times when my lighthouse switch is on and off.  It has been easy to share my faith with people on my team on Sunday.  Slowly, in my life, I have been turning on this invisible switch more and more.  The house warming party was another example.  It was the coming together of people from my church team and my tennis team.  I think my tennis buddies were shocked at what they heard about this book thing.  They laughed when they asked for the blog address and I spit out this very long name.  Hard to remember, isn't it?  Yes, that was my original plan, turn on the light house switch, but use low wattage so this little light house could be safe from criticism or embarrassment (the only thing perhaps more embarrassing might have been filming the naked cave man video while covered with welts from Larry's forehand strikes).

The only problem with this low-wattage thinking is that the Holy Spirit has different plans.  There are dangerous waters out in the world and God wants a lighthouse that is always on, shining at full capacity. There is much writing to do in these next six months.  I wanted to take the time today to say thank you to those of you that follow this blog and welcome my friends.  The world needs more lighthouses, are you willing to become one?  All it takes is one flip of the switch, go ahead, become a follower of this blog and encourage others to flip their switches...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mulligan's Island Comes to San Diego

My cousin, Mark Mulligan, is coming to San Diego on August 26th to put on a concert with his buddies, Gary Seiler, Rob Mehl, and Kelly McGuire (Los Quatro Amigos) at the Silvergate Yacht Club on Shelter Island.  My wife, Zoom friends and I will be supporting Mark and I hope you will join us for a great evening of fun.

Reservations are needed and this event will be sold out quickly.  If you are ready for some great entertainment, click on Mark's calendar to make reservations (my wife and I already put in our reservations, when you contact Karen, let her know you are with the Mike Mulligan party).

Today is Mark's one year wedding anniversary.  Happy anniversary to both of you, Mark and Elsa, and congrats...the new baby is coming in August!

By the way, the last time they let two Mulligans in the same place at the same time was in grade school and I heard our teachers are still in recovery.  God Bless them.  Yes, there is a special place in Heaven for them.  Now that my "timeout" is finally over, I am ready for a great night of fun.  Please join my wife and me for a great night.  See you on the island...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Juggling Act

Ever feel like your life is a juggling act?...keeping fifteen different balls in the air at the same time...praying that none will fall to the ground?  This blog is all about hope, so there won't be any complaining from me, however, this place is also about being open and honest.  Perhaps you can see that my life is Holy Spirit driven...without Him, these balls I am juggling would have hit the ground a long time ago.

Last night I was up until just after midnight giving this blog a face lift.    As a rookie blogger, the first ten months have been filled with lots of wandering and learning on the job.  This blog and the book I am writing are two more balls that God added to my juggling act and I am starting to get the hang of it (remember...He does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called).  I first learned to juggle so that if I faced a rainy day with my tennis students, I had something to teach them.  The truth is that I can only handle three balls at once, however, I have about seven variations.  That's what happens when you see a lot of rainy days.

In my life, there are about fifteen balls up in the air, the top ten are quality time with my wife, parenting, building a business, exercising, blogging, writing a book, finances, chores, time with friends, and time with God.  There is one ball not mentioned in the top ten, however, I have been holding on to it very tightly to make sure it never falls.  This has made it more difficult to juggle all the other balls with just one hand.

Sometimes, you just need to realize when it is time to let go of a ball.  Our first pet, Lady, is an example of this.  When she began to suffer from old age, I held on too tightly to her.  I could see the pain in her face and tried to cover it up with pain medicine.  She got to the point where she could barely stand up.  She was afraid and knew it was her time.  I held on far too long for her own good.  When I finally made the decision to let go of her, she stopped shaking.  It was as if she knew that I was taking her to the vet to let her go.  She proudly walked onto the scale so the vet would know how much anesthesia to give her.  Then, she did it one more time to show off.  It was her last trick.  It was an incredible family moment, one that I will cherish forever.  A chapter in our lives was closed that day.  It was so hard to let go.

Now, it is time for me to let go of another ball that I have been grasping like the "Lady ball".  God cannot give me more to do unless I am willing to let go of certain things that are getting in the way of serving Him.  This experience is humbling but necessary.  It is like letting go of 8th grade so that you can enter high school.

As I look at the new count-down meter on this blog, I realize just how little time I have to get this first book published.  There will be more about my juggling act in the book and I will share just what those other balls are that I have been holding on to (read "Tip of the Iceberg" - April 16th for a little sneak peek at what the book is about).  The lesson I learned about juggling is that sometimes you just have to let some of the balls drop in order to give better attention to what is really important...serving God and taking care of the ones you love.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Power Within

What lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The biggest mistake we can make with our lives is to think that we are insignificant, that we cannot make a difference.  The world cannot afford to have you remain on the sidelines.  Silence means that the status quo is acceptable.

I remember a story of a small town that produced wine from the vineyards.  Every year, each person contributed wine into a community vat.  They would have an annual celebration and share the wine with each other.  One year, life was difficult and some felt that nobody would notice if they skipped on their contribution, they added water instead.  On the day of the festival, only water came out.  Each member of the community was ashamed.

Recently, I wrote about how each of us is like a car part on the automobile.  We are connected to each other for the good of all.  My Zoom Autos car has four lug nuts on each wheel.  Perhaps, I could get by if one lug nut disappeared.  What about two?  This would lead to a car wreck and everyone would suffer.

Do not underestimate the power that is within you.  It is in the hard times that your gifts are needed the most.  We need to stick together to survive.  At the end of your life, you will have an opportunity to review it with the Creator.  You will see how your contributions, no matter how small you thought they were, helped to change the world around you.  Your life is special and the world needs you stay connected.  Lets make sure that water does not come out of the vat when everyone is counting on wine...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Far Away Connections

Jars of Clay,  a Christian band, has been working on a project to bring 1,000 wells to Africa.  It has been five years since they started working on this and they have less than fifty wells to go to reach their target.  I heard them on K-Love radio talking about visiting these far away communities.

It struck me right in the heart when this group shared about their visit with our African brothers and sisters.  First, it was the joy.  These people were singing and dancing non-stop.  There was so much hope that a well would transform their village.  Children would no longer need to spend hours traveling miles and miles just to fill their water jugs, they would be able to go to school.  Families would be able to drink water free from deadly parasites.  Disease related to lack of water could soon be eliminated.  Yes, there was reason to sing and dance.

The best part of this story comes from the prayers of these far away people.  They are praying for us, for our lives to be abundantly Blessed.  These are prayers of thanks for reaching out to strangers and extending a helping hand.  A caller phoned in while the band members were on the air and said he had just bought a bottle of water for a dollar at the store.  That same dollar can buy water for one person in Africa for an entire year!

When much is given, much is expected.  We are the country that has been Blessed with so many resources.  Jesus does not just ask us to help those far away without safe drinking water, He COMMANDS it.

Consider making a donation (click here) to this worthy cause started by some people who sing about God for a living.  Listen to one of their songs below.  Many of the artists that I have featured in past videos have joined with Jars of Clay to help those far off.  Let's help them make a difference...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Body of Christ

Imagine what would happen if just one part on your car failed.  Even the smallest hidden component could cause your automobile to break down.  This is how the body of Christ works.  Each of us is connected for the good of all.  There is no one part that is better than the rest.  If the fluids are right, there is gas in the tank and all the parts are doing their job, we have all we need to get to our destination.

One of my customers owns a salvage yard.  People are coming in every day looking for that special part that needs to be replaced.  Sometimes, they ask for odd parts that I have never even heard of.  Without this strange-looking part, these customers are stranded.

The worst thing we can do in this world is wish that we were something else.  God knew what He was doing when He designed you.  He knows how important you are to all the other parts.  Like a car part, you may only be needed at specific times, like supplying the heat in winter or the ice-cold A/C in summer.  Maybe you are like the airbag that is only used once, however, without you, a precious life is lost.

Do not judge your worth on how often you are called to work in the Kingdom of God or how visible you are.  Instead, make sure that you are ready to function at the peak of your ability when you are called upon.  We will never reach our final destination without all of us doing our part.  Let's work together to stay on the road...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


It is easy to be kind to friends.  We seek the company of people who are like us.  The hard part is showing hospitality to people who are different from us.  It is so easy to walk past the man on the side of the road that is holding up a sign asking for food or work.  These outcasts are praying for someone to show them hospitality.

When I go to church, it really feels good to be greeted by a person who has a warm smile.  Some of us have a special ability to do this.  I think of my Uncle Bill, who spent many nights visiting prisoners.  It is the kindness of others that attracts the lost to God's Kingdom.

If hospitality is your gift, try taking it to new levels.  Go outside your comfort zone and use this gift to reach out to the lost and the fallen.  Your gift could change the life of another forever...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? - Psalms 121:1

Without the Holy Spirit in my life, I am a bafoon...a fool, an idiot, one who pretends to know something but does not.  I know I am in good company too.  What about all those fisherman that followed Jesus?  Without Jesus pointing the way to the fish, these guys would have starved to death!  One time, they fished for an entire day without catching a single fish.  Along comes Jesus.  "Hey guys, try that spot over there", He says to his so-called expert fishermen.  You know the story, his buddies had to get help to make sure they could keep their nets from breaking.

Discernment is like fishing.  It is all about asking the right questions in order to get profound answers.  Each question is like casting your line into the lake.  In order to get the fish to bite, your bait (the question you ask) must attract the fish.  Jesus knows where you are supposed to fish and what you need to get the job done.  He has given you the gift of the Holy Spirit to make sure you are a great fisherman.

Most of my life, I stumbled.  I even stumbled upon the one question that changed my entire life.  God had been waiting for me for so long to finally ask Him something that would transform me into the real person He created me to be.  I asked the Holy Spirit to show me who I am in God's eyes (see "My Biggest Bible Lesson", September 6th, 2009).  I had the right "bait" on my hook, and the Holy Spirit bit...hook, line and sinker.  I wasn't sure about eating this fish but something inside of me told me it would give me new life.

Discernment is a gift from the Holy Spirit.  It allows you to look in the mirror and see what God sees.  It allows you to recognize the evil forces in the world that sometimes possess others.  You too can become a fisher of men by learning how to ask a question that attracts these lost fish.  You can become strong enough to reel them in even when the evil spirits fight you with everything they've got.  You learn to be patient so that all of God's fish can be caught.  Most of all, you learn to give all the credit for your fishing skills to the Holy Spirit, because without him, you really are no more than a bafoon.  Discernment is a free gift of the Holy Spirit...just ask and you shall receive.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened - Luke 11:9-10

Some of the best things in life are free.  A stroll on the beach.  A hike in the mountains.  Love.  Friends.  Money cannot buy these things.  Nor can it buy any of the gifts which the Holy Spirit offers.  When we invite the Holy Spirit to be with us, the spiritual gifts He bestows on us are according to God's will.

Many people mistakenly think that the Holy Spirit was only for the first followers of Jesus.  He came in like the wind, emboldened the followers to spread the Good News, and then disappeared when the job was done.  Others want to claim the Holy Spirit for their specific "team".  The truth is that the Holy Spirit is just as busy today as in the early days of the apostles and He will come to any person who asks, regardless of what team we play for.  This non-exclusivity makes some people jealous, just as the early followers resented that a gentile could receive the same gift without being part of the "chosen ones".

Jesus was a radical.  He came to us to turn our thinking and our world upside down.  When we accept His gift of the Holy Spirit, we have an incredible opportunity to become a new creation.  Once we choose to invite the Holy Spirit to be our companion, everything changes.

Please read my earlier post, "Shabbat Shalom" (May 11th), for some background on the meaning of "peace be with you".  In essence, Jesus was offering this gift to everyone He met, including people on the outside.  This made a lot of his followers angry.  Why should sinners be allowed access to something so special?

My favorite gift of the Holy Spirit is the ability to cast out demons.  Jesus was not the only one to do this.  Once He gave His "Shabbat Shalom" to others, they were able to drive away evil spirits simply by invoking the name of Jesus.  As powerful as the demons are in our world, they are no match for Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

The most powerful gift of the Holy Spirit that I have received is the ability to forgive others.  Prior to receiving this gift, any act of forgiveness was not real, only words I said to make myself look like a good Christian.  Inside, I wanted these people to be struck down.  I told people on my team that real forgiveness was just some kind of fantasy for me.  Not for the Holy Spirit.  Once he entered my very soul, He revealed how special these people are to God.  He showed me that these people are supposed to be in my life and that we are to be connected.  He did this in some mysterious way that I cannot explain to you.  I can only tell you that ever since that vision, my life has never been the same.

Your experience of receiving the Holy Spirit will not be the same as mine as each of us receives different gifts.  This is why we are so important to one another.  We NEED to be connected in order for all the individual gifts to work to their full potential and for God's Kingdom to come.

The only reason God's Kingdom is incomplete on earth is because we are the ones who are disconnected.  The Creator is seeking you right now, at this very moment.  The Evil One is trying to get in the way.  Do not be afraid to invite Jesus into your heart.  This will open the door to the Holy Spirit.  You will receive at least one gift, free of charge, that you can use to link up with all of God's people.  All you have to do is ask, and you shall receive...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Coat of Many Colors

Dolly Parton wrote a song, "the Coat of Many Colors" about a coat her mother stitched for her out of assorted rags.  Dolly felt special, that is, until she went to school and the other kids made fun of her.  Even though she had no running water or electricity, her mother told her that the family was rich.  Their wealth came from the love they had for one another.

Dolly's mother was able to share the Good News with Dolly by relating her coat of many colors to the character, Joseph (Genesis 37:11), who was given a special coat from his father, Jacob.  Dolly followed her mother's example and retold the story, first to her classmates, and then to the world in her autobiographical song below.  It was the kindness of a neighbor that gave Dolly's mother all the material she would need to make clothes and quilts out of rags.

Do you have anything in your closet that a neighbor could put to good use?  No matter how small it may appear to you, it could become a coat of many colors for someone in need...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Creating a Masterpiece

Behind every great musical composition or high achievement in life, you will find thousands of hours of basics.  For me, these daily blog posts are an important step in order to complete the ultimate goal, a published book.  It is often the basics that most people overlook as they pursue lofty goals.

When I studied the piano, I hated the repetitive part of playing scales.  Without a strong understanding of the musical notes, how can you expect to ever play a complicated song?  Professional athletes are always returning to the basics.  They attend training camps before the season starts.  Sometimes, the general public is invited to observe these training sessions, just as you are invited to be a part of my "spring training" on this blog.

Don't underestimate the importance of training as you discover what your unique gifts are.  Spend time on the basics every day so that you can prepare yourself for the masterpiece you were born to create.  Do not let any obstacle stop you from creating your unique contribution.  Remember, whether it is music, sports, writing, parenting, or any other important part of your life, without daily practice, you will never achieve your full potential.  Decide what you were created to do in this world and then commit to it.  Do the daily "scales" so that you can complete your masterpiece, then share it with the world.  It all comes down to practice, practice, and more

Friday, June 4, 2010

Small Faith Groups

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them - Matthew 18:20

The other day, I received an email about a gentleman who was in a small faith group with me for a couple of years before moving out of state.  He had sent out an email letting friends know that it was his time to be with our Lord and that his days on earth would end very soon (may Len Shumaker rest in peace).  This very special man and his wife had a special hunger for the Bible and we loved sharing with him.  Our church is so large that it is sometimes difficult for others to feel like they belong.  We joined this small group to study the Bible together and pray.

It is amazing what happens "when two or three are gathered in His name".  At first, I thought I was joining to help the others in the group.  The experience really was a two-way street.  Deep friendships formed and this group became like a spiritual family for me.  Together, we discovered the unique gifts that each of us has, and we began to share our talents beyond our small faith group.

God's timing is truly amazing.  At the time the group was formed, I had no idea that I would ever see my father again.  When he returned to us, he arrived in tattered clothes.  One of the men in the group was the same size as my dad, and he donated a bunch of clothes.  The group also had everything we would need to take care of my dad while he battled the advanced stages of cancer, wheel chairs, shower stools, etc.

Our group continued meeting at my sister's home where my dad and his wife were staying.  He got to meet the people who prayed for him to be protected while he was far away from us.  Eventually, the group disbanded when some of the members moved away and others became more involved in serving the larger community.  The senior members of our group formed a Bible study for our church that touches hundreds of lives every year.

There are many ways to join small faith groups, even for busy people.  I recently discovered a site,  People that are just like you and me from all over the world are connected on this site.  If you have a question, just post it, you will get an answer within minutes.  Like the small faith group that I was in, these people can help you to grow in your faith.

Many people make the mistake in thinking that their relationship with God is between them and God alone.  While it is important to have a relationship with the Creator, it is just as important to join with the community for the benefit of all.  There are people in this world right now that feel alone.  Reach out and touch someone, you can make a difference...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Trinity Times

Buried treasures were discovered by my mother as she was sorting through boxes of stuff that dated back to the early sixties.  Only a mother would keep a kindergarten report card from Miss Gabusi that gave her first born son a "C" average or a progress report from the seventh grade that noted "I think he could do better".  The real gem was the Trinity Times that sold for 5 cents a copy... with my first published article on the back page of the yellowed paper.

This student newspaper was typed on a typewriter, a device that can now be found only in museums.  The editor went from classroom to classroom to find students willing to contribute.  She was hissed at by other students, yet bravely ventured out to find willing writers.  In honor of this courageous student editor, Terry Walker, I am reprinting my article that my mother saved for so many decades, and I thank her for giving this "C" student from kindergarten an opportunity to begin working on a talent that could benefit others...

     Hello, I'm the red bike that lives down the street a few blocks away.  I live at the green house
     with my twin brother, the motorcycle.  My father, the airplane, is in Yuma for the summer, and
     my mother, the train, is the reason I'm here.  Without her, I'd be a rusty car wheel.  My older
     brother, the spaceship, went to Mars to be repainted.  I'm lucky my uncle is an ambulance.
     One day, my owner rammed me into a gate.  My uncle fixed my spokes and gave me new
     handlebars.  One day, my sister the tricycle, and I had a race.  My chain fell off and I died.
     I don't care because I was rebuilt.  Now, I'm a shiny police car that lives at 24th St. and Van Buren.

The lesson I learned from my grade school days is that I can do better, as long as I am developing the gifts that God has given me.  Search for that gift that is buried inside of you.  Once you discover it, develop it and share it with the world.  There will always be people in the world that will hiss at you, ignore them, and share your gift anyways.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Look Into Deep Space

 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth - Genesis 1:1

The video below gives us a look at the center of the universe.  It started in 1996, when Hubble astronomers decided to point the telescope at what appeared to be a black empty space in the universe.  At the end of the video there is an animation which shows the universe in motion, there are no words to describe what these scientists discovered when they looked at "nothing"...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Moment of Reflection

Today's post is being written three days in advance.  If you happen to be my mother, you are probably wondering if I have been abducted by aliens and replaced.  Everything was always done at the last minute. I even wonder if I was late for my own birth.  No mom, I have not been kidnapped, I just discovered why I am on this planet and the excitement has helped me to overcome that procrastination thing that I always thought was part of my DNA.

It is the start of a three day weekend and I am excited to share this special time with my family as soon as this blog message is complete.  I reviewed some of my first posts on this blog while waking up this is so amazing to take a step back for a moment and see how the Holy Spirit is inspiring me to write.

One of my wife's friends commented that she did not know I was a writer.  Well, I did not know this either.  Your encouragement and willingness to read these posts are helpful.  I promised God that I would do this even if only one person on the planet would benefit.

My prayer for you today is that you are not just a reader, that you discover who you are in God's eyes and that you take action.  Our time on this planet is really short.  Take a moment and just pause.  Close your eyes and reflect on your life in silence.  Do not look at your life as it is, but as it can be.  Do not be afraid to seek a new path if the one you are on is leading nowhere.