The Car Wreck


It had been a great day.

A few weeks ago, my two oldest kids and I spent the day at Dollywood Splash Country, a nearby water park. Though both of my oldest children tend toward caution, they each took huge steps of courage by riding down the largest slide at the park–something they swore they would never do. To celebrate, we stopped at Chick-fil-a on the way home to get dinner and milkshakes.

These are the days I live for as a parent. When I get to share uninterrupted stretches of time with my children. When I watch them do things they didn’t think were possible. I love these moments.

But then, on the way home, something unpredictable happened. As I neared our house, I exited the Interstate and merged onto a curving highway. As we rounded the curve, five raccoons appeared walking across the street in single file, effectively blocking the road. I had only a split second, not enough time to make a rational decision, and I made a small instinctive jerk on the steering wheel to the left. I remember the horrible realization that I had lost control of the car. And within a second, we smashed headlong into the guardrails on the left side of the road and then bounced back to the other side where we collided with the concrete wall twice.

Raccoon sabotage.

Maybe not such a great day after all.

My car was full of smoke from my airbag, and my kids were crying out in shock and alarm. The milkshakes had exploded everywhere. As we got out of the car and moved to a safer location, we assessed our situation. We were dazed from the sudden impact, but we were okay. The car was totaled, but we were not. We were all sore, and my neck was killing me, but we were alive with hardly a scratch on us.

I don’t think I quite realized it at the moment, but it has been clear to me in retrospect that just like my kids with the slide, I was facing my own test of courage. Just as I had observed their decision to rise to the occasion, they were watching mine.

Looking back at what happened, I realize now that I could have died. My kids could have died. Any of us could have been injured in a life-altering way.

And that doesn’t make me feel afraid. Instead, it makes me even more committed to using the time I have to make a difference. I want to do my part in God’s Kingdom work here on earth.

I’m more convinced than ever before that God is doing a great thing through our Internet Campus, and I’m still praying that God will give us His favor and allow us to reach record numbers of people

Please join me in praying that God will work in a supernatural way through our Internet Campus and that we’ll see significant growth in our online attendance and new volunteers through the second half of the year.

Halloween 2015

Once again, my wife, kids, and I dressed up in new homemade Star Wars costumes that I created over the last few weeks. Like before, it was a ton of work and a ton of fun.


From left to right: Ahsoka Tano (from the animated Clone Wars series), young Jedi, Rey (from upcoming Star Wars movie), another young Jedi, Sith Acolyte Eradicator (from a Star Wars video game that I’ve never played), and Luke Skywalker



Dang, my costume looks tough! Fierce, even.


And a huge dose of adorable cuteness.

For photos of our last family-wide Star Wars costume fun, go here.

For photos of my Sith Acolyte costume build, go here.

Sith Acolyte Eradicator Costume




For several years, since I first started working on my Boba Fett costume, I’ve thought it would be fun to build a costume that would be worthy of joining the 501st. If you’re not familiar with the 501st, it’s a international volunteer Star Wars costuming organization. It’s the organization that provides characters to zoos, events, hospital visits to sick kids, and even the characters at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends.

The only problem is that the 501st are very picky about costume details, and I knew that I would have to spend several hundred dollars to finish out my Boba Fett costume. Instead, I decided to sell off the parts and use the money I made to build a new costume. The character I picked was the Sith Acolyte Eradictor from one of the Star Wars video games (that I’ve never played).

Basically, I wanted to carry a lightsaber and wear a mask. And this guy looks awesome. In fact, I think he might be able to take Boba.

Well, after many hours of work, I’ve finally completed my costume, and this afternoon we did a little photo shoot. This evening I submitted my application for the 501st. :)

I made everything except for the mask and the lightsaber. Below, I’ve posted a bunch of photos that I took during the build. As you hover over these images, you should see some notes related to each.

[update 11/2/15: My costume didn’t get 501st approval. Plan on working on an updated set of armor over the next few months.]

Thanks for checking things out! Hopefully I get some good news on my costume approval soon!

If you’re interested in seeing more things like this that I’ve built, check out the category here.

And here’s all the parts bagged up into two large suitcases for the photo shoot:


Millennium Falcon – for the Kids


After a bit of an intervention from my wife a few days ago, I have come to realize that I’m a bit of a project junkie. And especially if that project has to do with cosplay, prop making, Star Wars, or Lord of the Ring, I’m hooked. I mean, really. I have almost zero resistance to such urges.

Though I’m an addict, I find a huge amount of creative joy when working on projects of this sort. So when I decided to use my free time over a week to put together a Millennium Falcon cockpit playhouse for my children, I had a blast. And if my son sleeping inside of it whenever he gets a chance is any indication of how much he likes it, then I think it was well worth the effort.

Someone also recently showed me an inexpensive way to tie audio to multiple buttons, so that’s probably an addition that’s happening in the near future as well. How fun!







For a full writeup of the instructions I made and photos I took while putting the thing together, go here.

In addition, this project has been featured in several blogs, including:






Renovating Our New Church Campus


Over the past few weeks, we’ve been in the process of renovating our new location for our North Knox Campus. Though I’ve worked to design the space for our last few campus launches, this has been the largest and most in-depth project I’ve taken on.

First, a few photos that were taken before renovation began. As you can see, it really is a great campus – the lobby and worship center were in great shape already, and the kids space was very well laid out. Unfortunately, we had a limited budget, so replacing the carpet and painting all the walls in the worship center was out of the question. Most of my focus would be on the downstairs area.

I digitally mocked up the spaces to pick out hallway flooring, room colors, and hallway colors. Also, I had to redesign our giant mural files to fit the spaces. Once they were ready, I sent off mural and sign files to be fabricated and worked with our awesome general contractor to get flooring replaced and walls painted.

I’m very happy about how everything turned out – just in time for our soft opening this weekend.




















Of course, all of this happened with tons of input from people on our staff. Without feedback from Heather Burson, Mike Baker, Kandice Baker, and Josh Whitehead, I would have been toast.

Thanks to Noah Case and Chris Shumate for helping me hang signs.

Also, Heather was picking up all my slack on other projects and making sure that our billboard, mailer, tshirt, and invite card advertising were all ready to go.

A Special Birthday Video for My Wife

My wife was having dinner with a friend, and while the kids and I ate supper without her, I had an idea for a birthday video for my wife. The only problem: her birthday was the next day.

I explained the premise to my children, and once we cleaned the table, my two oldest kids began illustrating the characters, and I sat down to formulate a script. 15 minutes later, the script was finished. Ten minutes after that, the illustrations were complete. Next, we recorded the vocals on my iPhone (mostly in the utility room – lots of sound dampening clothes hanging up to block the noise of the twins). Everything was going exceptionally well – my six year old’s monster drawing was a perfect fit, my nine year old daughter nailed the script after just one read through, and the twins were contentedly coloring.

After just a few minutes, we had all the major pieces we need to pull the video together.

We took a break to play before putting the twins in bed, and afterwards I started “cutting out” each of the illustrations in Photoshop. Another break to tuck in the big kids, then I took a minute to do vocal sound effects. I wasn’t sure how the sound effects would work, but I think they add a lot of fun to the piece. I have exactly zero experience with layering sounds, but the audio came together nicely.

After that, hours of animating video in After Effects. By 5:45 am, I was ready to render the video and pick up some milk for breakfast.

I love how the project turned out – almost exactly like what I had in my mind.

But the best part was Keri and the kids’ laughter when they saw the the video later that morning.

Paper Skull Mask

Skull-head selfie.

Since I’ve been pretty useless with the kids the past two years at Halloween, dressed up like Boba Fett, my wife asked me to do something different this year. I figured I wouldn’t dress up at all until I saw this amazing paper skull mask template on one of my favorite blogs. Like the instructions say, it took about 3 hours to complete, and it’s wonderful.

I didn’t intend this to be a creepy mask, but in the dark, it’s a little terrifying. I think that I’ll probably end up making paper fox masks for Keri and I instead.

Dollhouse Project


For my daughter’s 9th birthday, we bought her a Real Good Toys dollhouse kit. Since she enjoys projects like I do, we assembled it together, and we had a blast.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pics during the first 6-8 hours of the project – dying shingles, painting each part, gluing the walls together, and and installing some wall paper. Suffice it to say that it was a beast of a project. It took over a week to complete, but she and I were both very pleased with how things turned out.

Boba Fett Scratchbuilt Jetpack

It’s been a couple of years since I built my Boba Fett suit, but over the last few weeks I’ve been working on a jetpack. There’s a reason that I put this part off – it’s an incredibly difficult part to build from scratch. But since the unpainted resin kit costs $350, I chose to make the pack out of sintra and upholstery tubing which I managed to pick up for free. Other than that, it was just the cost of Bondo, spray paint, some wooden balls, liquid mask, and a few wooden dowels.

This was my first time to do something so elaborate, but I’m very pleased with the results.



For a full writeup, see my full list of instructions on Instructables.

This project has been featured on:

instructables laughing-squidfashionably-geekmakeadafruittechnobob

Trying to Lose Weight? Three things to avoid eating at all costs.

Call it a conspiracy of the food industry, if you will, but these three items are rarely discussed when it comes to weight loss. If you’re trying to manage your weight, here are three things you need to avoid eating in order to sustain a healthy diet.



Item One: Jacks


Believe it or not, these tasty morsels can actually wreck a diet that is otherwise going well. Like chips and other snack foods, it’s hard to just eat one or two. Once you open a box, most people will impulsively finish the whole thing. Don’t put yourself in a losing situation.


Item Two: Drano


During any diet plan, there are often times you’ll begin to feel intensely thirsty and dehydrated. While your first instinct may be to dig around under the sink for this sweet libation, repeated studies have shown that the effects of this beverage are actually hazardous to your health. Don’t listen to your thirst – grab a tall glass of water instead.


Item Three: Razor Blades


Contrary to common belief, razor blades are not actually considered a whole food. Though they may be low on calories, most health experts agree that razor blades are highly processed and may be the easiest way to wreck your diet.

By avoiding these three items, you’ll be well on your way to a heathy and fulfilling food plan that will enable you to achieve your weight loss dreams.

My Visit to Israel (Part 7)

This is the seventh part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.

We started off the morning with a great breakfast at the Inbal hotel, then packed up our bags and headed to Bethlehem for our final day of shooting video. Since our Jewish guide and van driver were observing Shabbat, we connected up with a Christian guide and his friend, a Muslim driver.



The Garden of Gethsemane is a heavily visited location, so we knew that we would have to capture video for that spot in a different place. This olive grove outside of Bethlehem was the perfect location for some peaceful footage.


This little boy got some candy from our thoughtful Campus Pastor, Mike Baker.


Beautiful almond tree in bloom in the middle of the olive grove.

Once shooting was done, we drove to the Shepherd’s Fields where the angels brought the message of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus, to the shepherds. Unfortunately, like many places, our large tripod bags called a little too much attention to ourselves, and we were turned out when we didn’t have express permission to shoot video in that location.


So we headed into Bethlehem, the city of Jesus’ birth, and as we scouted out a nativity-looking location, we went ahead and shot a video overlooking the city.

Continue Reading…

My Visit to Israel (Part 6)

This is the sixth part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.

The morning of our fifth day was started early so that we could get to the Garden Tomb, one possible location of Jesus’ tomb, before the rest of the public would arrive and make our video shoot impossible.

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Up the path to the entrance to the Garden.


Inside the Garden. The entrance to the tomb is in the middle of the screen above.


Inside the tomb.


Video of setting up for a shoot at the Garden Tomb.


From the garden, we also had a view of the area that could be the location of the crucifixion – Golgotha.

Leaving the Garden Tomb, Chad Funk and myself split off from the rest of the group to visit the City of David, the oldest part of the city, and in particular Hezekiah’s tunnel.

King Hezekiah built this aqueduct, channeling water into the city, in preparation for an Assyrian attack after he refused to pay tribute. Biblical mention >>


Here I am, with a GoPro harness strapped to my chest. This was one of the things on my wish list for the trip, and I was fired up that we were able to make it work.


Standing in the area that many believe to be the ruins of David’s palace.


Another view of the palace ruins.

Continue Reading…

My Visit to Israel (Part 5)

This is the fifth part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.


Another delicious breakfast in Efrat where we stayed.

After breakfast, we headed east towards the Jordan River. On the way, we passed through the desert, and as we drove through this area, we could see Bedouins and their camels.

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We passed by the modern city of Jericho as we neared the Jordan River.


This area is built up to accommodate the large number of visitors that come to this site each day. The Jordan River plays a significant part in several Bible events such as the Israelites passing over the Jordan with the Arc of the Covenant, Elijah being taken up to heaven, John the Baptist’s ministry, and the baptism of Jesus. Biblical mentions of the Jodan River >>


Setting up for a video shoot at the Jordan River. The ropes denote the border between Israel and Jordan.


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My Visit to Israel (Part 4)

This is the fourth part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.


The city of Jerusalem sits between the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. Here we are standing on the Mount of Olives and looking down on the city of Jerusalem. All the small boxes in the foreground make up a cemetery.


This valley is called the Kidron Valley, and the small strip of green in the valley on the right is Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus and his disciples were praying on the night of Jesus’ arrest. On the left of the city, the area outside the wall is where the City of David once stood.


The Campus Pastors at the Mount of Olives.

Video panorama from the Mount of Olives.

From the Mount of Olives, we went back into Jerusalem into the Muslim Quarter and the Via Dolorosa, the path which in Latin mean “Way of Sorrow”. This passageway has been held to be the path that Jesus walked with His cross before his crucifixion.

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My Visit to Israel (Part 3)

This is the third part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.


Our third day in Israel began as we awoke in the beautiful small town of Efrat, the home of the Old Testament characters Ruth and Boaz. Biblical mentions of Ephrath >>

Every entrance door post in Israel, including each of our hotel room doors, had a mezuzah (pictured below – excellent Wikipedia article). These were sometimes ornate and occasionally modern, like above. These fixtures each contain a piece of paper with the passage of Deuteronomy hand copied onto it by a scribe. The Jews believe this fulfills the requirement of the Old Testament teaching to write the words of the Scriptures on your doorposts. As far as I could tell, there was no way to open up the container to read the Scriptures inside.


Breakfast was at a local cafe. The food was absolutely amazing, and our host for the morning, Rabbi Shmuel Bowman made these mornings in Efrat a favorite part of my trip.

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Rabbi Shmuel accompanied us on our drive to Jerusalem.


The next few photos are on the grounds of the Jerusalem Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.

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One of the box cars used to transport Jews during the Holocaust.

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My Visit to Israel (Part 2)

This is the second part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.

Next up was the ruins of the city of Capernaum (map) on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This is the town where several New Testament stories take place, my favorite of which is the story of the four guys who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus by digging a hole in the roof. In my photos you’ll notice a very modern (spaceship-looking) Catholic church structure that was built over the ruins that some believe was the home of Saint Peter. Biblical mentions of the town of Capernaum >>



The ruins of the ancient city of Capernaum.

Quick video panorama of the area.


The Catholic church building built over the ruins of the tiny room that might have been Peter’s house.


The tiny house under the Catholic church building.


Fish-eye view from the inside of the Catholic church. You can see Peter’s house through the window in the bottom of the church building.

Here in Capernaum there is also the rebuilt ruins of a Jewish synagogue (the white structure). The Bible mentions Jesus teaching in this synagogue at the beginning of his ministry and that the people who heard him were amazed by his teaching.

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My Visit to Israel (Part 1)

It’s been several weeks since I joined several other pastors from Faith Promise on a trip to Israel. Our time consisted primarily of visiting locations to film for our upcoming Easter series, but it also afforded us some time to visit a few locations not included on film. As the time since the trip continues to increase, I’ve finally set out to jot a few notes to accompany the huge number of photos I took in an attempt to share the details of the trip with those who are interested.

For those unfamiliar with the geography of Israel, the land where a huge portion of the Bible is located, it can be a bit overwhelming at first, but just understanding the location of the major bodies of water in the area has been very helpful to me and will make your reading of Scripture much less irritating.


Israel is just northeast of Egypt, is about the size of New Hampshire, and is mostly contained between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. I’ve linked the map above to the location in Google Maps, so you can look around and zoom in, if you’d like.

We flew into Tel Aviv, the city that is in the location of the biblical town of Joppa, well know for being the port town from which Solomon’s cedar logs for building his palace and the first Jewish Temple were received. It’s also the town where Peter was staying when he had his vision of the animals descending in a sheet. Biblical mentions of Joppa >>



From there, we drove north and east to the west coast of the Sea of Galilee in the town of Tiberias (map). The sun had already set when we arrived, but a few of us walked around the area of the nearby boardwalk. This is the place we slept there for our first night. I remember being particularly touched with the thought that this ocean at night was a common location for Jesus and his disciples, and the event of Jesus calming the storm was specifically on my mind. Biblical mentions of Tiberias >>

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