Every year we host students in our home for Thanksgiving. Today we will have just shy of three dozen. They come from around the world and find it difficult to make it home for such a short break.

Since Thanksgiving in a novel cultural experience for many of them, I always give a quick explanation before the meal. For the curious, here’s what I’m planning to say today:

American Thanksgiving traces its roots back to 1621 when the European colonists of Plymouth Plantation celebrated their first harvest on the new continent. 45 colonists and 90 native Americans celebrated together for a three‐day feast.

This became a custom in many colonies, but the schedule and the details of the celebration would vary from place to place. On October 3, 1789 George Washington called for the first Federal Thanksgiving with this proclamation. It’s a bit long so I’m going to read the highlights:

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be….

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually….

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

That proclamation regarded a single occurrence, not a yearly event. A few generations later on October 3, 1863 Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday which we still celebrate to this day.

I am a Christian, and so this day is very special to me because gratitude is at the heart of Christianity.

As the apostle tells us in 1 Thess 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (ESV)

And we do this because even when circumstances are bad, God is good. As we read in Psalm 107:1

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (ESV)

And so this Thanksgiving, join me as we offer thanks for the food.

Creator God, we are grateful for your provision of a universe for us to inhabit filled with wonderful things, including delicious food. Help us to enjoy it and the conversations that fill this room. Most of all, thank you for giving us Jesus as a savior and a Lord.  Today we declare with the Psalmist: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, ESV)

Now let us eat with grateful hearts!


Three recent conversations, presented verbatim:


A Conversation With My Daughter
I set up a line of dominoes running around a corner and had my seven‐year‐old daughter sit where she could only see the end. I tipped the first domino over and we watched the entire chain fall.

Then I asked her, “How do you know there was a first domino? You didn’t see it.”

She stared at the fallen dominoes with a furrowed brow for a few seconds, then said, “If there was no first domino there would be no world. Nothing could exist.”

Look out, Aristotle. My daughter is gunning for you.

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A Conversation With My Son
Yesterday I took my children to Happy Hollow. As we were entering the park we passed by an Asian gal dressed up as an anime character. I’m not sure which one, but she had on some sort of bulky white body armor. More to the point, she had also dyed her hair purple.

So I said to my wife, “If I was Asian I would totally have purple hair.”

My four‐year‐old son overheard and said with a dismissive tone, “If I was Asian I’d have black hair.”

A Conversation With A Student
A text message conversation with one of my students (verbatim with a few words removed to preserve anonymity):

Student: “Is public nudity a sin?”
Me: “What?”
Student: “Is it just kind of weird or is it something to avoid altogether?”
Me: “Search for the term ‘modest’.”

And Then What Happened?

Warriors ...I got back from a trip yesterday and was greeted by my three‐year old son. He had something to tell me about preschool:

He said, “Matthew hit me today.”

So I said, “Really? And then what happened?”

He said, “I hit him.”

Reasonable enough for a three‐year old. And around this time the teacher is probably about to get involved, and I’m pretty curious about what she did. “What happened after that?”

He said, “He hit me again.”

Uh‐oh. This might not be a very good story. “And then what happened?”

He got a big grin on his face. “I tumbled him.”

I started to grin back. It was partly a response to his grin, partly amusement at his inventive use of the word “tumble”, and partly pride in my warrior son.

“I see. And then what happened?”


I burst into laughter. So did Paula. What would you have done?

Is Jesus On Fire?

Fire man!Every morning before my daughter heads to kindergarten I read her a Bible story. This morning I read something Jesus said and asked her if there was anything she didn’t understand.

“Well.… where was Jesus when he said this?”

“In Israel. Why?”

“I was wondering if he was on earth or in heaven when he said it.”

“He was on earth, honey.”

And then my three‐year old son said, “Or on fire.”

That’s almost certainly not as funny to you as it was to me, but I present it here for your consideration. Whenever Jesus said something, he was either in heaven, on earth, or on fire.

Settling In To Our New Digs

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes. Oh, and a U-Haul truck with yet more boxes.Some of our faithful movers take a well-deserved break.We just moved from our old apartment to a house elsewhere in Menlo Park. So far we love it! The kids are especially jazzed about the yard and the ensuing prospects for outdoor play.

A big thank you to those who helped us move!

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Highlights from the move:

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  • Noticing that a disproportionate number of students decided to wear their Chi Alpha shirts for the move. My heuristic was to wear a shirt I didn’t care about… which makes me wonder how our students really feel about our shirts. 😉
  • Happy Donuts for breakfast. Yum. Bonus: watching Ben get a sugar rush.
  • Hearing my name used as a virtual curse word when people realized how many boxes of books they would have to carry. They love the erudite sermons, they just hate the way I prepare for them. 🙂
  • Backing a U‐Haul into my narrow driveway. Yikes!
  • Chris getting scratched by a rose bush and me (for once) having the right line at the right time, “He doesn’t need a band‐aid — he needs a Y chromosome.”
  • New York Pizza for lunch. Two King Kongs and a Large. Excellent.
  • Having our internet activated on the day we moved in. Sweet!
  • Our new neighbor dropping off brownies. How very kind.
  • Having our super‐studly moving crew stay to help us assemble and lay out furniture. Way above and beyond the call of duty. THANK YOU!
  • Costco Hot Dogs for supper. Those dogs are delicious. And huge.
  • Double bonus: watching Ben cuddle up after a hard day’s work and drift into la‐la land.

For those to whom it matters, our new address is 1032 Ringwood Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025.down periscope free

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California Is Amazing

In the last few days, my work has taken me to preach in Sonora, CA (where I was able to take an excursion to Yosemite Valley and also stand upon Glacier Point divx machine girl the

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(near Santa Cruz) helping with a youth camp, and it’s allowed me to have lunch with a worship pastor in San Francisco. And in the middle I got to hang out with some of the most amazing people in the world at Stanford University.

If you’re keeping score, that’s two instances of mountainous beauty, one day of beachy fun, one incident of cosmopolitan elegance, and several heaping sides of academically elite intellectual stimulation. All in under a week.

I’m blown away at (a) how cool my state is and (b) how delightful my job is.

If your life is insufficiently fabulous, consider coming to California to do college ministry. It rocks.

Feeling Tired

I’m quite tired.

We had our final Chi Alpha worship meeting of the quarter last night. It went awesome. Worship was phenomenal, I think the message was well‐received, and we got to hang out and talk for a while afterwards. Plus we actually ended the year with more numbers than we began the year with. That’s rare in campus ministry. If you average the first three weeks of the year and multiply by about 80%, that’s a more typical number to end with. The growth has been great — but a larger ministry means more people to meet with, which means less flexibility in my schedule.

So I’m tired from the academic year.

I’ve also been teaching an extension class for AGTS in Sacramento every Thursday this month. Tonight is the final course. It’s a 2 hour drive there, a four hour class, and then a two hour drive back. It’s been very fun and I’ve learned a lot through teaching the course (which I’ve heard is the experience of most teachers).

But it’s pretty draining. That’s an extra 8 hour day every week. And that’s if traffic behaves.

And I’m serving on a task force for the Assemblies. We had a video chat this morning which lasted about 2.5 hours. It was rewarding, but also draining.

Finally, I’m supposed to be doing a lot of web stuff for Chi Alpha. I just haven’t been able to prioritize it lately. Yeek. Lots of low‐hanging fruit, but no time to reach out and pluck it.

All in all, I’m very much looking forward to the change of schedule that comes with the summer. I’ll still be busy, but at least I’ll be busy doing different things. 🙂download shuttle terror by night download

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Congratulations, Greg

My brother just got engaged. There are rumors of a YouTube video of the proposal waiting to surface, but for now you’ll have to be content with the written story download the golden compass


Congrats, bro. Wish you both the best.

It's Been One Of Those Days

Before starting the workday this morning, I finished online traffic school (you can do that in California) due to a speeding ticket from the end of last year. One of the more profound lessons I learned — and I quote — “do not drive with nails in your tires.” I guess I was speeding because I lacked that knowledge. Good thing I got that cleared up.

After finishing traffic school I headed for the shower. Upon emerging, I discovered that Dana had very nearly broken Xander’s finger by slamming the door on it. His pinky was compressed to about 1/4 of its normal diameter and was a dull gray in color. Even after it returned to its normal size and color, we were still a little worried. Fortunately, he had a scheduled doctor’s appointment and the doctor confirmed that his finger was A‐OK. And then gave him three shots. Poor guy.

On top of all that, Paula was sick.

And I got around to answering a letter from my district asking me to serve on the Parliamentary Committee at District Council. That’s right — the Parliamentary Committee. I am officially that guy. I told them yes. If you’re invited to serve then you’re already that guy

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Good stuff happened, too. For instance, I got to talk with a Ph.D. candidate about faith. She came to the Francis Collins lecture and wanted to follow up with some questions. We had a great conversation. I hope I was helpful to her. She seemed quite touched when we prayed at the end of our time together.

But on the whole, it just felt like one of those days.