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Our Church Website

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Our poor church webmaster accidently deleted the entire left navigation page on our church website today and has to re-create it. But she has been talking about doing a total re-design so I guess now is the time. Our site needs some love anyways.


Fall Retreat Meeting

by Mike Lovato

Had dinner with Stephen and Swanny the other night to talk through some thoughts on the Fall Retreat coming up on the 15th. Stephen was supposed to speak for our Deeper event that was cancelled earlier this year. So I think he's going to use some stuff he had prepped for that. Still kinda focusing on going beneath the surface and looking at Jesus' comments of "You've heard it said....but I say..." Should be a good weekend. Thinking about calling it "Beneath the Surface" or "Sub-surface" or something of the sort. My personal favorite right now is to call it "Subterranean" like the show on MTV2. But I still need to run those name ideas by Jon.


Stinking Hilarious Rainbows

by Mike Lovato

Check this out. Nothing funnier than rainbows puking.

(HT to Josh)


College Website

by Mike Lovato

Our new college website is up and running. It's a little bare-bones at the moment, but we had to get it online quick because I put it on our promo posters and flyers. Putting something in print will make you get the job done fast! You can check it out here.


Blogger Beta

Tuesday, August 29, 2006 by Mike Lovato

I've been up on Blogger Beta for a few days now. It's pretty sweet. You can actually easily add links and tons of stuff to your template without messing with HTML. And you can add labels (categories) to different posts. If you're a blogspot user, make sure you check it out as soon as you're eligible to move over to it.

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The Latest

Monday, August 28, 2006 by Mike Lovato

I apologize for not keeping as up to date with my blogging as I'd like to. I think summer's thrown me off, but hopefully with fall pretty much here I can get back into blogging at least once every weekday. Here's some of what's going on in my world:

  • School starts back today for our high school students in Riverside. I'm going to send a quick text message to all the students I have in my cell phone wishing them a good first day.
  • On that same note, school starting up seems to have multiplied the amount of traffic on the road. Alessandro (for any Riverside readers) was a parking lot from about Trautwein till almost Arlington. Took forever.
  • On that same note, it feels like every major street in Riverside is under construction. It will be good when it's done, but there's a lot of orange cones everywhere right now.
  • This afternoon I'm having dinner at BJ's with Stephen Perry who will be speaking at our fall retreat in a few weeks. We have 18 students currently signed up and will probably take about 40 after the deadline this Sunday.
  • College stuff - working on getting the website up, getting flyers for our welcome lunch out today, trying to find a workable room situation for our thursday night gathering

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Cara's Teeth

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 by Mike Lovato

We have a student in our ministry who's about to start her junior year of high school. Last Friday night she was playing capture the flag with her siblings and some friends and fell flat on her face. Hard. Her front two teeth were knocked out and the three next to those were jammed up into her jaw. She had to have surgery that night. On top of all that, her parents are former missionaries to Southeast Asia who have currently returned to the states because Cara's mom is undergoing a second battle with cancer. Incredible people. Now check out Cara's response to this whole thing. Wow.

A Planned Accident

...The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day

--Psalm 139:16 (The Message)

God is never surprised. And as I rode to the emergency room in the front seat of our mini van with my front teeth resting at the bottom of a cup of milk and a blood-stained rag held up to where they used to be, God was not alarmed. Even as I sat there crying over the 5-tooth empty space in the front of my mouth, I had to chuckle as that verse in Psalms came to mind God let me know that he had known this would happen even before those 5 teeth came in.

He had planned that my two front teeth would come flying out by the roots when I bit the sidewalk and that the other three would be jammed up into my jaw. He had measured and counted each step I would take before I tripped over that curb, and lined up those steps perfectly so that would happen. He had thought out all the variables... that I would play “capture the flag” at 9:30 at night, that I would threaten to go back inside but chose not to, that my team would be one point away from a tie, that Travis would be about to tag Alisa and that I would come running up to her so she could pass me the flag. But that I wouldn't make it past the curb. Eleven years ago when I first moved into this house, He looked down on that place and already knew what would already happen to me there. And even before that, when construction workers poured the cement sidewalk, God knew that the City would plan to place a water meter there. That the top of it would stick just enough out of the ground that my teeth would hit it but no other part of me would be touched.

And that comforts me. To know that however I will look and do look after this... that's how God wanted me to look, that's how He planned it out. For some reason He had planned to put this even into my life... and it boggles me... all the factors that had to come into place to lead up to this. I don't really understand how this happened -- that me, a calm, unrecreational girl would have her teeth knocked out -- but to me that means that this really was no accident. This obscure fall has a purpose in my life and I plan to live this out for all it's worth.


My Job is Cool

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Every once in awhile, I just go... "my job is cool." Check out the picture Nicole created for Wednesday night. This is our last Midweek before school starts so we're going to play a giant capture the flag game. Should be fun. Blue is one team. Red is another. Green is the neutral zone. We're going to give each team a couple radios to let them coordinate strategy. We'll see how it goes.



Monday, August 21, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Tonight I start my first class of my final year of seminary. This is my fifth year at Golden Gate. It's been good, but I'm excited to be done. My last few classes should be cool though. I'm taking Intro to Missions on Monday nights and Working with Small Groups on Wednesday mornings. Then I just have an exit course to take in the spring.

Bat Attack

Friday, August 18, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Fullerton man chases man who robbed him with baseball bat

"When the victim found the robber, the robber took the bat and hit the victim."

Note to self: If someone comes at you with a knife to rob you....do not chase them with a baseball bat...especially if you are not able to keep hold of said baseball bat.

Book Meme

Thursday, August 17, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Ok, I've been tagged twice for this thing that I keep seeing everywhere - once by Sean Meade and once by Jason Pogue. So here goes.

1. One book that changed your life: How People Grow by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. This book has been pretty influential in the last few months personally as I've re-examined the way God works in our lives and uses people in our lives. It's given me a fresh perspective on grace and reminded me of the basic fact that God wants us to grow...He's not wanting us to stay the same so He can condemn us! Oh, and I think it will be helpful for helping others as well.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: I Want to Go Home! by Gordon Korman. I wore this book out when I was in elementary school. I'm sure there's much more substantial stuff, but this one was pretty sweet for a kid.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Survive on a Desert Island by Claire Llewellyn. Hello?!?!?! If I'm on a desert island I need to know what this city boy needs to do in order to make it more than two days.

4. One book that made you laugh: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I know most people list this as thought-provoking and life-changing (and it's a great book), but he has some stinking hilarious stuff in there - like the story of Don Rabbit and Sexy Carrot.

5. One book that made you cry: Hmm, can't think of one. I know a movie that almost made me cry is Cheaper by the Dozen. It's so touching when they can't find Mark at the end. The family really comes together and....oh crap, what am I saying.

6. One book you wish had been written: Life as a 20-Something Married Guy: How to Deal with Toilet Clogs, Cockroaches, Ant Invasions, and Flooded Apartments

7. One book you wish had never been written: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I had to read this my junior year of high school and it felt like we took an eternity to discuss it. I don't think I ever finished it.

8. One book you’re currently reading: Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today by David Hesselgrave. Yep, can you tell I start seminary classes on Monday?

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins. I feel like I hear references to this every once in a while and need to pick it up myself.

10. One book you’d like to write: No title yet, but I'd like to write something on student leadership that walks a youth pastor through a total process of finding and developing student leaders. If I ever figure it out, maybe I'll write the book.

Whew, that took awhile. Now, I'm going to tag Nicole Lovato, Eric "Puddles" Putman, Jon McWhorter, Lucas Miller, and Carlos Whittaker.


Dog Bites Man

Monday, August 14, 2006 by Mike Lovato

We made the outtakes...


Click on Outtake-Tromboner (I know...I know...)

Sunday Recap

Sunday, August 13, 2006 by Mike Lovato

So today was the big day. I spoke in all three services this morning. Overall it went great! I felt fairly comfortable and felt like I got great feedback after each service. It was interesting to see how the response was different in each service. Couple interesting things happened though.

After the first service a guy came up to me, shook my hand, and said, "Thanks for the worst church welcome ever! Not a single person said hi to me!" And after a second of me being stunned and the lady next to me saying, "Well, welcome" (not helpful, by the way) I stammered out a "I'm sorry, sir" and he walked straight out of the worship center. Nice way to get in the right frame of mind for the next service. I had seen him against a wall in a lobby and, for whatever reason, didn't go up to him and say hi. Guess it made him angry. He must have been looking for something to be angry about though.

Second funny thing - I baptized two high school students during our 11:00 service and dipped my arm a little too low while bringing them under the water (I had waders and a cheesy robe thing on). When I got out of the water I discovered that my entire right side of my shirt was soaked. I found a hair dryer and tried to quickly dry out my shirt during the next two songs. Didn't help a ton. So I decided to tweak my opening and share about the experience. Definitely got people laughing with me (and at me) to start the message.

Volunteer Fit

Friday, August 11, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Have you ever had a volunteer that just didn't fit? Several months ago, Nicole and I had dinner with a couple who was thinking about volunteering in high school ministry. I plugged him in and, from the beginning, it wasn't a good fit. Most of the students he was working with didn't connect well. I think some may have stopped coming or switched groups to one they liked better. He had a very "in your face", almost confrontational approach. So he phased out as we ended our ministry year at the end of June.

But that's not the end of the story. I've talked to him a few weeks ago and then ran into him again today at Wanda's at CBU. I've never seen him so excited as the last two times I've talked to him. He's now interning with our senior pastor, has stopped his gardening business, and is about to finish up some undergrad coursework so he can pursue a Master's in pastoral counseling. This fits his personality of working with those in tough situations.

The moral of the story: not everyone will be a fit in your ministry. BUT, they will be a fit somewhere in your church.

"Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it."
- 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NLT)

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Thursday, August 10, 2006 by Mike Lovato

It's interesting to see the places where community happens. I'm sitting at Coffee Depot and right across from me was a guy in his 50's talking to a girl who's probably 20-something. Seemed like they were having a great conversation (nothing weird). As he got up to leave a minute ago, he asked her, "What's your name?" I find it interesting that suburban 50-something guy and tatooed 20-something girl could talk for probably an hour and then finally introduce themselves at the end. Everyone's looking for community.

Oh Crap

by Mike Lovato

Earlier, I mentioned I'm speaking in our church on Sunday. I'm sitting at Coffee Depot right now working on my message, and I just keep thinking "Oh crap, I'm speaking on Sunday!" The nerves have finally hit.


by Mike Lovato

Last night was pretty cool. We had our highest midweek attendance since I've been here which was pretty cool. Jon was originally going to speak, but wanted to go up to camp with his church from Fresno. So he arranged for a friend to speak who then cancelled. I tried calling several people to see if someone could fill in. I really didn't want to speak since I'm speaking on Sunday. But tons of people are gone or at camp or busy. So I ended up using a Revolution DVD from BlueFish. Turned out pretty cool. Some of our students filled in leading worship and did a pretty good job. They were super nervous because they hadn't practiced much. I had to pull them aside before we started to remind them it would be ok. They just needed to focus on worshipping God and not worry too much about the technical side of it. The technical side was fine, minus a few glitches and a slightly rough second set. But they did a good job. We've got a high school senior who will be doing a fantastic job after some coaching from Jon in the next few months. It'll be exciting to see what happens.


This Week

by Mike Lovato

This week is a little crazy. I'm trying to get used to a somewhat normal routine after almost 3 weeks of a vacation and a mission trip. I'm speaking in our services this Sunday for the first time so I'm starting to feel the pressure of that. Plus, I just finished reading Andy Stanley's new book and it's kinda kicked my butt in the area of speaking and preaching. So not only am I speaking for the first time , but I'm also speaking in an entirely different style than I normally do. Should be fun. By the way, if you haven't read Communicating for a Change you should. Full review is coming when I get some time later this week or next week.


San Fran Highlights and Lowlights

Monday, August 07, 2006 by Mike Lovato

  • Connecting with a really cool sports ministry that has their head on straight and knows what they're doing
  • Seeing a Senior girl take the initiative to sit down with her ex-boyfriend's current girlfriend and make sure things were ok between them before we headed out for the trip. Afterwards, I told her, "You know what you have to do next, right?" Her answer was something like, "I know, I know, I need to forgive him now."
  • Seeing five high school dudes stuck in an elevator...I'm sure this is a lowlight for them, but at this point (and at that point) I think it's pretty hilarious.
  • Having a Junior guy come to me and admit he's been messing with drugs for awhile now, but this trip made him want to change and no longer have them be a part of his life. I'm going to be baptizing him next Sunday and that will be pretty sweet.
  • Driving a 12-passenger van through crowded city streets. I know that stresses some people out, but I think it's fun.
  • Hearing stories of students whose attitudes toward the homeless changed. There were many who realized, "They're normal...just like me."
  • Getting to tour Monster Park where the 49ers play. Our contact for this trip is head of security there and he let us hang out in their locker room, on the field, in the press box, etc.
  • Enjoying a Filipino feast that a church prepared for us.
  • Heading straight into training right after vacation and a long drive...bad idea.
  • Not getting to sleep before midnight on any night.
  • Spending the first night in the ER until 3am with a sick student.


We're Back

by Mike Lovato

Well, after a long day of driving yesterday, we're back in Riverside. Had a great week. I never was able to give the full version of what this trip was about so let me try to now.

It's a combo high school choir/mission trip. I'd say the emphasis is on the missions part though. Each morning we sent teams of students out to different sites. We had a sports camp, a kids club for preschoolers, a rescue mission team, a labor team, an evangelism team, and a team at a community-type center (I think).

I was on the sports camp team (which is pretty funny if you know me). We had very few soccer players so I got to play a lot of soccer and drills this week. It was pretty fun. We had 9 kids accept Christ there at the sports camp.

The other teams also had a great time. The labor team did a ton of work and created a church library, among other things. The evangelism team did different stuff every day from man on the street video interviews to giving out socks to other stuff I don't know about. The rescue mission team got up close working with the SF homeless population. Nicole was on the kids club team and had a great time working with preschoolers. We were able to connect several new familes with Western Hills Church through both that and the sports camp. The community center team was at a place we called Page Street (I assume it's on Page Street. I wasn't there, but I am somewhat smart and assume it was on Page Street). They painted and helped organize some of the area there (I think).

At night and at other times we would go out and the students would sing at different places. They performed at Union Square, the Shops at Tanforan, Laguna Honda Hospital, San Francisco Rescue Mission, Calvary Hill Community Church, Western Hills Church, Doane Baptist Church, and 19th Avenue Healthcare Center. Following the performances some of our students were able to engage several people in spiritual conversations.

We also were able to spend an afternoon serving all together with the Rescue Mission and another evening surveying a community (Brisbane) for a potential church start/re-start. It was a great week of ministry. Our students really stepped it up.



Saturday, August 05, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Ok, so I head back home tomorrow and hopefully will return back to my normal habits of blogging. It's been crazy busy this whole trip with very long days and pretty crappy/spotty hotel wireless internet. But I had to share this brief story.

Five of our guys got stuck in an elevator at Union Square for an hour or two tonight. You could see them (barely) through the crack in the door. One of them had to pee so he went in a cup. Then another one did so my wife passed him her Forever 21 shopping bag and he used that. Awesome. Anyways, they finally got out and they all hugged the elevator repair man. In between peeing in different objects, they spent their time singing worship songs while trapped in there.

It's been a good week....more to come later....after I recover and get some sleep.


Mike Lovato is a follower of Jesus, husband to Nicole, daddy to Addison, and pastor to teenagers in Riverside, CA.


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