Heroes (week 7)

Of all the challenges that face our society, one seems to resonate more loudly than some others in the ears and hearts of millions. It is the pandemic of fatherlessness in our culture. Producing a child is not nearly the same thing as being a father. It’s a really common refrain among men with whom I study the Bible or members of our community of faith. My dad left or wasn’t emotionally available, or was abusive, or didn’t express warmth are things I hear all the time.

As a dad myself, I’m saddened by this state of affairs, aware of how far I fall short as a father, and convinced that selfishness is at the root of the problem.  As this issue is addressed, it’s tempting paint everybody with one brush, thereby not acknowledging the countless number of men that are great and devoted fathers. I want to mention two great examples.                                                                                       


Jason Hill and Jerry Gaona are both happily married men and great dads to their children. What sets them apart is that they have taken it upon themselves to fulfill that role in the lives of young men and women whose dads aren’t in their lives. Jason (pictured with his daughter Anna) leads a group called Young Warriors and volunteers untold hours to being there for a group of young and teenage boys whose fathers aren’t there for them the same way his father wasn’t there for him. Jerry (pictured with Lexo, Erica, Mackie, and Kiara) recently took these incredible teen girls to our annual Father Daughter Dance. Seeing Jerry and all of them dancing and having the time of their lives brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. Despite the state of fatherlessness in the world there are people fighting for what’s right and doing good among us. To Jason, Jerry and others like them, thank you and God bless!


Heroes (week 6)

Sunday after Sunday people like Kari, Coco, Azin, Juan Ato, Shandra, Joey, Steve, Henry, Bill and Kevin serve as ushers at our worship services. They arrive early, prepare and serve communion, help us figure out where we’re supposed to be, answer our questions and help us navigate our environment. This helps enable us to put the most into and get the most out of our time of worship. Thanks you all for adding value to our lives! The next time an usher helps you at a worship service, please thank them for their great work.  Let’s “outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10b (ESV)


Heroes (week 5)

Shawna Basick in known to most in our church as one of our Sunday service Worship Leaders. Her vocal and musical gifts are immense. She has one of the most beautiful and pure voices you’re likely to hear. Shawna is a professional musician and teaches Voice at Musicians Institute in Hollywood.

As impressive as the preceding information is, Shawna has an even more significant gift; reaching out to people and helping them learn about God. Through the years she has consistently had friends who have attended our services and other TP events. Some of these friends have had their entire life trajectory changed for the better by God. Their first glimpse of our community of faith was through Shawna’s authentic and apparent love for God and them. In her unassuming way, she has been a key part of the building of our church. Thanks Shawna for letting your inner light shine!      






Heroes (week 4)

For 19 years, Leo Mascarinia has served hundreds of people in our church and thousands through his many gifts. He has invested thousands of dollars of his own money and thousands of hours to build up and lead our Tech Arts ministry. Leo has repaired countless members’ computers as well as provided and overseen the graphics and visuals for our services for years. He has led small groups, led people to Christ, and counselled more people than I can remember. There are few people I trust and depend upon as much or more than Leo.  He, his wife Andrea, and their son Joel are irreplaceable in TP.                   Leo, we are indebted to you for holding on to God no matter what and for making all of our lives better. Thank you! ( Leo is pictured here with another great servant, Greg Knox.)


Heroes (week 3)

Part of our challenge as Christ followers is to be “doers of the word and not hearers only.” The spiritual force of decisive action can be lost because we confuse knowing all the stuff a disciple is to be and do with actually being and doing it. That’s why we need people among us to do great deeds of faith, without words or fanfare. Their examples call us to act too.

We’re fortunate to have such as person in Amber Coye. Amber was baptized several years ago in our singles’ ministry. She has always been full of life and energy. A while back, the call of God inspired her to move to mainland China as a missionary. She has supported herself by teaching English to children in China while she made disciples there. Amber returned back home to LA and to TP last week after a year of incredible service for God. Welcome back Amber! Your courageous action step of faith inspires and challenges us all!


Heroes (week 2)

Pat and Robyn Foyle are true heroes in our church family. For years they have voluntarily led one of our most joyful, fruitful, and effective small groups. In addition, they have been used by God to change hundreds of lives through their voluntary leadership of our Chemical Recovery Ministry for the past 10 years! They and their daughter Briar Rose mean the world to TP. They are great people with huge hearts. Thanks guys…we love you!



CNN Heroes is inspiring effort by this renowned news network to profile people from all over the world that make it better wherever they are. For the foreseeable future, I want to use this forum to do a much less expensive, much less extensive, but no less heartfelt tribute to the TP HEROES – Everyday People in the Turning Point church family that are changing the world. 

      Ironically, we start with a woman who moved away to Seattle yesterday. She will be joining our sister church in Seattle, WA but leaves a noble legacy behind. a few years ago God put on Mikkell Jackson’s heart the dream of partnering with the Casa Hogar Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. Entirely on her own, she inspired our church to action. Now every month we have volunteers who visit, serve and connect with these 34 adorable kids. They have become a part of our existence because Mikkelllistened to God. They have changed our lives, which I’m sure was a part of God’s plan all along.  Vaya con Dios Mikkell! You are a hero, you are loved, and you will be missed. All the best, TP


Ouch USC!

I was talking to a proud USC alumnus about the recent sanctions imposed by the NCAA against the Trojan football program for a “lack of institutional control.” He had this pained look on his face and said that it’s a shame that one person’s misdeeds hurt so many. In June 2010, after a four-year investigation, the NCAACollateral damage is a sad reality. In many instances, we don’t consider how what we do might hurt innocent bystanders and others.  My biggest regrets in life stem from not thinking about the long term consequences of certain decisions I’ve made.

On the bright side though, the flip side is also true. One person’s noble deeds can benefit many. Where would we be without people who have made our lives better by the choices they’ve made? The things I’m most proud of in life are the good choices I’ve made that have benefited others. I am sobered by what happened and hope to learn from this teachable moment. USC can bounce back. Even so, I wish they didn’t have to.


The Incredibles

The Incredibles is a great animated movie about a family of superheroes. One of the things that makes the movie work is that it shows the that the characters have flaws and issues common to all people, despite their super powers. They have ups and downs but win in the end because they work together. They end up being much stronger together than they were being solo superheroes.

When I refer to the Incredibles, I’m speaking of the Single Parents in our church family. Over 120 spiritual superheroes from all over LA met last Saturday at a specially designed retreat. They shared about the challenges of fulfilling two roles, working demanding hours, raising their children to love God, wanting to be known as disciples first without any other label, and their love for God, his church family, and their kids. I walked away from that time ashamed of how ungrateful I can be in a much less challenging life circumstance. However, what stayed with me most was a heightened appreciation for all these remarkable men and women. Surely their reward from God and in their children is great. They really are incredible!





Life and the NBA Finals

One of the great joys of this time of year for me is watching the NBA Finals. This year the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are competing for the championship. Right now, the Lakers (the 2009 champs) are up 2 to 1 over the Celtics (the 2008 champs).

What stuck me today was how the past two games illustrate the way life works out at times. In game 2, Ray Allen of the Celtics was a sight to behold, Arguably the best pure shooter in the NBA, he made history by making 7 3-pointers in a row and 8 in the game overall. He torched the Lakers for 32 points, embarrassed Derek Fisher who was guarding him,  and carried the Celtics to victory, along with Rajon Rondo.

Just 2 days later in game 3 tonight there was a turnabout in fair play. Ray Allen who couldn’t miss in game 2 went 0 for 13, while Derek Fisher was the hero in the Laker’s victory scoring 11 points in the 4th quarter. Usually Kobe Bryant (the best closer and the best or 2nd best player in the NBA according to most) carries the Lakers in the 4th. Tonight however was Fish’s time. In just over 48 hours, the greatest became the least and the least became the greatest.

Two life lesson stuck with me:

1.  Treat people with respect and dignity when you score 32 because it’s always the right thing to do and because you’ll see the same people when you go 0 for 13. To his credit, Ray Allen is a class act, win or lose. So is Fish, for that matter.

2.  Don’t allow a defeat to permanently define you. You never know what’s in store for the next game.

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