Archives For musings

In this episode, Josiah and I explore Woodward Park in Fresno, Ca. It cost us $5 to drive in, but you can always park across the street and walk, run or bike into the park itself. Subscribe to our channel and see more Go.Do videos!

Your local public park can be a great source of adventure. Most people take their kids and sit on a bench while their kids play. They (we… I’m guilty too) use the time to catch up on email or Facebook. But what if we helped their imagination bloom? What if we became part of their games? What if we participated with them? We’re making these YouTube videos to encourage people to play together and Go Do Something. Life is actually pretty amazing and my kids are growing up fast, so I’m trying to be more proactive in enjoying each day with them. Sometimes it’s little and simple and sometimes it’ll be bigger, but it’s something.

What kinds of things do you do with your kids to create memories together?



In our second episode on Go.Do, our new YouTube channel, we go to a brand new pet store in Fresno called Lost Realms Pets. It’s awesome and you should go! Check it out:


THE PROBLEM WITHWhat’s the real problem with Fresno?

I grew up here and I grew up hearing your words. In many ways, your words have shaped what the people who grow up here, think about here. Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • Ugh, it’s just so hot! I hate it here!
  • The only way to survive is to never go outside.
  • Fresno is the armpit of California.
  • Nothing good comes from Fresno.
  • Fresno, the drunkest city in California.
  • Fresno, the meth capital of the world.
  • I can’t wait to graduate and get out of Fresno!

And maybe you graduated and left. But like many of us, maybe you found yourself being pulled back by a gravity you did not understand. And maybe you acted on that gravity or maybe you stay away. Either way…

We need to change our verbage for the next generation. If we continue to talk about how hot it is, how miserable, how awful Fresno is, the best and the brightest will pick up on our scorn and they will leave and they will take their talent and their insight and their drive with them. They will build and contribute to the economy, the industry, the art, the humanity, and the aid of some other people in some other place.

I lived in Malibu for five years and Sonoma County for almost four years and surprisingly, I met a lot of people from the Fresno and the Central Valley area. At the church I worked at in Santa Rosa, we joked about how so many good people come from the Fresno area. We routinely said, “All good things come through Fresno.”

Now, since I’ve moved back and lived here for four years, I’m in love with our cities, with Fresno and with Clovis. There’s so much to love. From a great education, to a police chief that talks to the people and pleads with them to make wise choices, to a mayor who desperately believes in the revitalization of our downtown area, to local restaurants trying to make a genuine impact, not just a dollar. And the list goes on…

I’m not saying we’re perfect, far from it, but we have a strong community and we’ve got people working hard to make a real impact on our problems. People like Feed Our Future Fresno and the Pinedale Impact Center (more on this later).

So, back to my original question, “What’s the real problem with Fresno?” Well, it might be how you think about it.

If you’re going to continue to contribute to the defamation of Fresno, you should probably go find some place to live that you’ll be proud of. I mean it, we don’t have the water or the jobs to support you, so go find someplace that does. Life is too short to live in a place you despise. What’s holding you back? Sell everything, uproot and go. I don’t want my kids to grow up hearing about how awful you think their hometown is. I want them to love it and be motivated to contribute to it. We don’t need to be defeatists, we need to be optimistic and hopeful.

So if you plan on being here, let’s make here the best here it can be.

Let’s be generous and lend a hand to the things that need fixing.
Let’s be active and positive about the future of our great cities.
Let’s be educated and proud of our heritage.
Let’s be supportive and loving to the disenfranchised and marginalized.
Let’s do the things we know we need to do to make our cities even better.

My family and I moved back here to contribute and partake. That’s what being a good citizen is about. You add value to your environment and you engage in the richness of its culture.

But here’s my hunch; a high percentage of you who will move away in the coming months and years, you’ll find yourself in a similar situation, a similar mindset as you have here. You may like the summer temperature in your new location or even the air quality. Those things might be significantly better for you, but in a year or two you’ll find yourself complaining again. The complaints may not be the same, but they will linger. Because your attitude about your city is more about your attitude than your city. Changing your perspective, changes your life and you don’t have to move cities to do that. You may have to move away from relationships or situations, but you may not have to leave your city.

Feel free to disagree, but I love these two cities and I think you should too.

Related Content: 8 Things I learned about Fresno from @HiddenCash



Tripp and Tyler are at it again. Here’s their follow up to A Conference Call in Real Life. If you work from home or have a virtual job, you know #TheStruggleIsReal.
A few months ago I was on a call with a church-planting coach. We, Two Cities Church, were coming up on our One Year Anniversary and my coach had a few insights into what year two may look like. As always with any coach, there’s a good amount of encouragement and then a warning or a “Hey, you should probably be prepared for (fill in the blank).” I should know to expect it by now, but it always throws me a little off.

Those who have gone before us know a bit more about the process, the trends and what to expect than we do.

He said, “At the beginning of year two, you’re probably going to experience some people getting off the bus and some people moving seats. Don’t be alarmed, it just happens.” Well, when you’ve started a church with close friends… that’s alarming! He asked me a few questions that really messed with my head. He asked:

  • Who is on the bus that needs to move?
  • Who needs to get off the bus?
  • If you had to remove one person from the team, who would it be?

Talk about questions you don’t want to answer! Geez! But that’s the hard work of leadership.

Our One Year Anniversary was on October 4, 2015 and since then we’ve had a good amount of movement on our volunteer staff team. We’ve had 4 people take a step back, 1 move to a different seat and 4 new additions. All of the people who have taken a step back needed to do so for personal reasons of capacity or time. Here’s the good thing, we’re all still friends and here’s what I’ve wanted each and every one of them to know as they step back, move seats or jump on board:

“I care more about you than what you bring to the table.”

All of this has forced me not to just accept that this sort of thing happens as you head into year two, and probably continually, but I want to know why this happens. So, I’ve been working on this theory and it is a working-theory.  I don’t have a great name for it yet, so let’s just call it: The 3 Keys to Staying Missionally Engaged. I’ve recently had the opportunity to bounce these keys off of other church planters who are farther down the road than we are and their experiences have been very similar. So, I want to share these and hope it helps.
While there are tons of different reasons people need to take time off or take a step back, I’d like to offer three things that I believe every staff person or volunteer needs to stay missionally engaged in the church.
I believe people need to be experiencing at least 2 out of 3 of the following in order to stay missionally engaged:
  • Experiencing Personal Wins:
    Inviting and seeing people come and get involved; Being in a small group and watching other people grow; Being personally connected to someone who is getting baptized or recently gave their life to Christ; Serving on or Leading a team that is winning; etc.
  • Experiencing Personal Growth:
    Growing in your own personal relationship with Jesus; Developing healthy habits; Surrendering previously un-surrendered areas of your life; Becoming more Self-Aware; Working through hurts, habits and hang-ups; etc.
  • Experiencing Extraordinary Care or Community:
    Involved in a community group (small group) or strategic service team that loves each other; Feeling cared for or caring for someone when life hits the fan; Gaining support from people in times of high stress or personal tragedy; etc.

I know there are other factors at play, external factors like having a baby, changing jobs or job loss, stress at home, health issues and more. But these principles, when applied over the lives of your leaders, will help you see where they’re at and how engaged they are.

When you feel distance coming between your team and the mission, ask yourself if they’re experiencing these 3 things. If not, try to help them head it off before you’ve come to a point of crisis. I hope this helps you as you engage your key volunteers and staff.

If you’re looking for ways to keep yourself from burn-out, check this blog post and podcast from Carey Nieuwhof’s interview with Craig Groeschel.

It’s been one year since we launched Two Cities Church into every week Sunday services. We had been networking, fundraising, and praying for what seemed like forever. It took us 6 years of waiting, praying, seeking, listening, learning and dreaming, plus two years of ground work, to get to our launch day. We were filled with expectation, curiosity, and nerves on that day. I remember being a ball of nerves. I don’t get nervous, but on that day I was. We launched with a vision message that we called #WeAreTwoCities. One year later, we took a look back and celebrated what God has done. [You can listen to that here or on our iPhone app.]

These photos were from our One Year Anniversary after party. See more Photo Booth pictures from our One Year Anniversary here.

After one year, a lot of heartache, ups and downs, changes in our team, changes in the faces that volunteer and attend and more… I continue to say, “It’s Worth it.” It being church planting that is FOR our community and the people in our community. But here’s the thing, it’s worth it because Jesus said with his actions, “You are worth it.” When he spoke to people the religious leaders avoided and he forgave people who didn’t deserve forgiveness and he taught and healed and loved… he communicated that each person, each individual is worth it all. And ultimately, when he died a gruesome and embarrassing death, he did that to pay for the sins of each “worth it” person. You and me.

When I say, “It’s worth it” — it’s worth it because of the stories depicted in the video below, and many more untold stories that have arisen within our community at Two Cities Church.

I know I’m right where God wants me and I can’t wait to see what he does in and through Two Cities Church in our second year.

It’s Worth It. Part 1
It’s Worth it. Part 2
It’s Worth it. Part 3
It’s Worth it. Part 4
It’s Worth it. Part 5

autumn moments

Yesterday I got a screen shot in the form of a text message from Chris Loach, a good friend and one of our volunteer staff at Two Cities Church. It was an email sent from… me. Only it wasn’t from me and I immediately thought, “OH NO! I’VE BEEN HACKED! WHO ELSE IS GETTING THESE?!!!” I’m sure you can relate to those kinds of panic moments. I haven’t had a hacking situation like this since MySpace was a real social media option. Here’s a screenshot of the email Chris received.


After a few minutes of digging around, I realized I wasn’t hacked, I was Spoofed.

There’s different kinds of spoofing attacks, but mine was fairly simple and just about anyone can do it explains My spoofer simply sent an email from what looked like me, but when you press reply, it showed his real address. He or she was not using a very complicated method. However, sometimes they’re a bit more complicated as explains. So what did I do about it? The following is how I seem to have spooked my spoofer from spoofing me again.

5 Steps to Spooking your Spoofer

Step 1: Know When it Hits
In order to go from spoofed to spooker, you’ve got to know when it happens and you need to know fast because the chances are, they’re not stopping with one email. That means you need your contacts not to just delete the email, but to actually inform you that it happened, like my buddy Chris did for me. (Thanks man!) Once you know, you need to take immediate action to avoid fall out from your contacts.

Step 2: Hit Reply
I asked Chris to click on the name and make sure it says my email. He did and it did. Then I said, “I wonder what would happen if you hit reply” and boom. There it was, the real email that the spoofer was spoofing from.

IMG_6790 email 3

Step 3: Research
Once I had the real email this person was sending from, I went on a hunt for information about that person and that email. First stop, Google had nothing to say about that email address. No social media accounts. No other usages in forums. No previous articles, websites or blog posts mentioning the email ( So I decided to figure out what I could about the user via the gmail account recovery process. I went to and plugged in the address, then I clicked on “forgot my password” and chose the text me option. In order to actually get the password you’d need a lot more information, but I wasn’t trying to hack them. I was trying to get information about them. It revealed that their phone number associated with their account is **********77. Here’s what that tells me, their number ends in 77 and it’s one digit too long to be a number from the USA. So they are international.

Step 4: Invite Them to a GoogleTalk Video Chat
I invited them to a video chat. Imagine, what if they had actually accepted my invitation and I could video chat with this person? Wouldn’t that be shockingly amazing?! But they didn’t. But I’m sure that’s when they started getting a little spooked.

Step 5: Email Them and Block Them
I sent two emails to the address and explained that their attempts to scam my contacts would not work. They’re much too smart. People doing these kinds of scams are looking for low-hanging fruit, people who are frazzled by emergencies and many of whom are elderly. As soon as they realize they aren’t going to profit from scamming you or your friends, they’ll move on. In the email I sent, the point was not to make them angry, it was to scare them…hopefully enough to abandon or close the email they used completely and or out of the business. I’m hoping by the end of the time that they realized someone tried to log in to their real email, the person they were spoofing tried to video chat them and they were found out that they were spooked.

Bonus Step: Don’t Get Spoofed Again
I am the administrator of our church domain,, and so I have the ability to go into the admin console and block them from emailing anyone within the organization. I took great pleasure in that step.

Here’s the deal, you can’t stop people from being dumb and trying to scam you, but you can make it difficult for them and you can spook them. So let’s make it difficult for the spoofers who are trying to take money from your contacts. Have you ever been hacked, spoofed or scammed? What was your experience and how did you deal with it?

Tripp & Tyler are at it again. They’ve brought you some of the best comedy-shorts/commercials that YouTube has to offer. You may recognize their work with Email in Real Life and A Conference Call in Real Life. Here you have it… their latest comedy-short/commercial, Poo-Poo Parents Say. I definitely relate to this one. I say most of these things, multiple times a day and if you have little kids, you probably do as well.



Apple Inc. and almost every other major consumer electronics company are sued on a regular basis. If there’s ever a good reason to register your purchases, it’s those lawsuits. When companies like Apple are sued and you’ve registered the product they’re sued over, you may be eligible for some kind of payout and in fact, they’ll just send your cut to you without you having to do anything. But here’s the problem. You’ve probably moved since that purchase and you didn’t update your mailing address and your forwarding address has long expired.

What happens to your cut then?

If you live in the USA, it gets sent to your state controller. This doesn’t just happen with lawsuits and payouts. This happens when you have any amount of money in any account. Those .15 cents you didn’t care to cash out when you closed that bank account online. Those $40 rebates from Comcast and that $29.98 check Microsoft tried to send you for your mail-in rebate from 2002. Even mineral rights for loved-ones and life insurance you didn’t know your great-grandpa had. It’s all being held by the state controller.

So how do you get your cut?

They aren’t searching you out. You have to search it out. I wrote a blog post describing that, complete with links, here: Unclaimed Property.

The reactions I got from that post varied greatly with mostly skepticism. So I decided to write a blog post after I got my money and what I did with it.

I had 3 outstanding claims of which I have received 2 checks totaling $399. As soon as I got the checks, I deposited them and the next day I went down to the Apple Store and used that Apple money and bought myself a 42mm Black Apple Watch, sport edition. It feels good to buy Apple products with money Apple ows you. I have no idea the reason they owed it to me and I assume it had to do with some lawsuit about the early iPod that I bought, but I really don’t have a clue. But I’m happy to use it on their products.

The proof is in the pictures, right? Well here’s my proof.

check 1

check 2

And here’s my watch on my wrist.

Photo Jul 03, 4 50 06 PM

So tell me. Have you found any money held by the state controller? If so, what do you plan to do with it?