Friday, December 29, 2006

And You .. You Are ?

Last night, we went to a family Christmas party. The party took place at a church fellowship hall - away from the venue that it has been at since I was a tot ( family member's home ).

I have to admit that I missed it being at the home, it just did not have the cozy, jammed packed homey feel. I understand in a sense that it is tough to have 60+ people in a home though - especially when it is cold and people can not roam the outside. Overall, though, it was nice to see cousins that I have not seen in a long time .. HOWEVER .....

I felt like the "title" quite abit. I was asking the following question: " and you .. you are who and how are we related ..... "

I am not sure how I feel about it. Sometimes, I laugh and sometimes I cry because of how "distant" the family has become. Grant it, I understand that some of it has to do with the vast number of cousins that I have and some of it has to do with the fact that we do not live close together but .......

Here is one example:

One of my aunt's came to me and asked me if I knew ( and pointed to a young teen ) ?

I went no. She was like, well this is ___________. She is the daughter of __________. So, my first cousin has a teenage daughter and I am clueless. This could be played out all across the room with my family.

I really need to get a list of all my first cousins ( no, I could not give you their names ) and get their marital status, where they are living and their childrens names and where they are living and try to make some connections.

Enough of the me admitting that I do not know my family. We head back to Indy tomorrow and we are almost into 2007 - unbelievable.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bless The Trash Collectors

I just came back from the store - picking up some Christmas photos and saw the mass of trash, debris, boxes and the sorts littering the streets. To all the trashman and trashwoman that are out working and clearing up our garbage - I thank-you. I do not think that it is a great job in the first place and on cold days after Christmas, I can only imagine how hard and tiring the work days will be for you.

Side Note: We head to WV tomorrow.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve: Candlelight

It has been 4 days since I have posted and it will probably be a week before I make another post ( the holiday season ). Today has been a long day and it is not yey over.

Recently, three weeks agod, we moved to three worship services: 8:15, 9:45 and 11:00 am. So, today ( being Christmas Eve ), we had all three of those services and are having two christmas eve - candlelight - services.

I just came home from the first service and it was fantastic. I absolutely love seeing 450+ individuals from the craddle to 90+ worshipping together - especially on such a special evening.

I absolutely love lighting the candle and passing the light. The symbolism is so strong from the first candles being lit from the Christ candle and each of us passing the light.

Tonight, we are going to rest / relax / eat / make cookies and .... I will then help tuck the kidios to bed and then head off to the 11 pm service. The late service is the one that I really love.

There is just something special about walking out of the church at midnight - knowing that it is 'Christmas Day'. I hope and pray that all of you have a great Christmas.

For us, we are at home for two days with my wife's parents and then we are off to WV for a few days to be with my parents. Then we are back on Saturday.

God Bless You.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Having A Bad Day

Somtimes, life happens and you do things that you wish that you did not do .. it happens.

Take a look at this video from individuals who "messed" up. Hey, don't sweat it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Boiler Up !!

Tonight was a very good night. Earlier today, I was in my office and a gentleman came into my office and asked me if I liked basketball. I said, "yes". He then asked me if I was free tonight. I went, "yup, nothing on the docket". So, he handed me two tickets to the Purdue game tonight.

They were playing no one tonight ( sorry, Wagner ). But, I got to take Isaiah to the game tonight. He is an absolute blast to take to games. Our seats were in section 1 -almost mid-court ( about 17 rows from the court ). I will have to put pics up later .. a few good ones.

Have a great night.

Family Surival Kit

The holiday's are upon us. Some of us ( not me ) have some rough families and our time with them can be very dreading.

Maybe you need to purchase a survival kit. If you think that you may be in for a rough holiday experience, you may want to check out the product below.

Lighten up, it is a fun and cute video.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Knicks Nuggets Brawl 12-16-06

Well, it has been a little wow since I have made a 'sports' post. Thus, I figured that I would make a post.

I put the top 10 sports stories ( my ranking ) in a hat and pulled one out .. it came out "the fight".

It is pretty pathetic when a fight at the NBA game is more exciting then the NBA itself.

Does anyone really watch the NBA till April anyway ? I mean, really, we need to get through the NCAA bowl games, NFL playoff's - SUPER BOWL and then gear ourselves up for March Madness ( NCAA Hoops ).

Oh well .. there is the video and my lame sports post.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Staff X-Mas Party

Tonight was our staff X-Mas party. Unfortunately, due to illness in the family, I went flying solo. Hopefully, next year Stacey and the kids will be healthy so that she could join me.

I really like our staff and make-up of the staff at the church. We have ages that span the horizon. For a matter of fact, I think that we have individuals in all decades - meaning, we have an individual in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, and 70's.

We arrived and had finger foods. They were pretty good. We then played 2 games --- 2 games that I was cluelss at ( naming songs and movies ). Then Pastor Jim ( Sr. Pastor ) had bought gifts for the staff. I sat amazed at the presents that he bought. THEY WERE SO INDIVIDUALIZED !

We then did WHITE ELEPHANT. There was not much stealing presents though - everyone brought horendous gifts - it was quite amusing. I can not believe that Greg was not 'stoked' when he picked mine .... I mean who would not want a Sacred Heart candle and Pigs Feet .....

Teenagers and Acceptance

I am going to 'copy' two small paragraphs grom an article that I came across tonight - from a new website that I learned about tonight ( live science ).

Teenagers do crazy things. They take drugs, have unprotected sex, ride with drunken drivers, and pretend to be asleep when it's time to do the dishes.

But it's not that they don't ponder the the potential consequences. In fact, a new study finds teens spend more time weighing risk than adults and in fact often overestimate the odds of a bad outcome. But the desire for acceptance among peers wins out in the decision-making process of a young mind.

The more that I work with teenagers, the more that I am amazed by them and love them with all my passion and heart. Teenagers today want to do so much, they want to accomplish everything and they want to please all.

From a logical stand-point, they fully know ( usually ) the decision that they should make but when they look across the room and see their peer ... their sense of acceptance kicks into high drive.

I was reminded of this ... this morning. I taught the middle school sunday school class today( I LOVE TEACHING THEM ). Our lesson was based on God sees everything. Our cultural relevant moment ( we have on each week ) was on cameras / camcorders and how they are everywhere. So, that led into discussions on MySpace and YouTube and what someone might have caugt you doing on tape.

Anywhooo, back to teenagers. I hope and pray that our ministry can truly create this relational ministry where they are authentic and the decision making process will be a little easier because the acceptance they will 'search for' will be from students that love them no matter what and thus ... they may be pointed to make wise decisions. I can not wait till that lesson series at Infusion.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sudan: Reason U.S. Stays Away

The picture makes me sick. Genocide is occurring everywhere in the country.

WARNING: This is going to be very opionionated and I am going to throw out a very undocumental theory. To me, it is a hypothesis that I would love to be explored.

We as a country are borrowing HUGE AMOUNTS of money from China. One of the unknown aspects ( in my opinion ) is that China is a major player in Sudan. How much of a one is SURPRISING.

Sudan began exporting crude oil in 1999. Guess What ?? Sudan sends 2/3 of its oil to China. Thus, the country of Sudan receives 3+ BILLION dollar a year from China .. that is HUGE $$ for that country.

China does not want ANY sanctions on Sudan. China receives about 5% of its oil from that country.

So, is there a connection ? Our (U.S.) hands are tied to China .. China holds Sudan in high regards. Thus, my question is the following:

Are we not going into Sudan because of our $$ dependance on China ?

Am I off my rocker ?

We Must Change

“ Nothing stops an organization faster than people who believe that the way you worked yesterday is the best way to work tomorrow. ”

Jon Madonna is credited with the quote above. To me it is one of the better quotes in life that deals with change, transition, growth and vision. He is speaking in terms of the business world but I believe that it transcends across the board.

Too many times I think that we as youth ministries get in a "rut". We get into this mentality that we need to do ministry the exact same way. Sometimes, we are scared of change. Sometimes, we hide behide the following facade: don't change for change sake.

things may be going great in the youth ministry and you may need to change. people will shake their head and go/say, " what in the world are you doing - why are you making changes, things are going so well "

The reason, we as leaders ( being led by God ) know that just because it is working now - does not mean that is what is going to work the next time.

So, the question to me and for those who are reading this ... what do you need to change ? What is up at the curve that will knock you down - if you do not prepare for the change ?

Are you willing to change ?

I think that it brings me back to the tale that shows the difference between a youth group and a student ministry. In this scenario, it is the following:

Keeping Tradition vs. Evaluating for Effectiveness

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It Is Not About Me

I know that it is not about me. But, for the first time in a long time ... I am struggling with it. I think that with God's help and a tremendous group of leaders that a fantastic ministry was put into place at Discovery. A great theme and vision was laid. There were a lot of great strides that were taken and there were leaps and bounds of growth that took place in the lives of the students while I was there.

When I left, I worked tirelessly to ensure that the ministry would grow and flourish w/o me because I always pointed them to God and we did ministry as a team. In fact, I had curriculum in place for the entire year, so the leaders and the new ym that came in would not have to worry about it.

Well, the new guy is in and everything is gone. the ministry name, a lot of the leaders, the theme of the room, the vision ... it is all gone. So, I sit struggling with ... was it worth it ? what was the point of that work ?

In my heart, I know that the things that I did and the peoples lives I invested/impacted did make a difference. I know that it is not about me but it is about God. But I hurt.

I pray that what the new guy is attempting to do will be successful. I pray that the ministry will flourish.

from the whispers that I hear, I am not sure but the whispers I am giving back is that God is in control and we as humans can not see the big picture.

Then of course, I am on the other end as well. I am the new guy and what are individuals doing/saying about the ministry changes occurring.

the things that we wrestle with sometimes when we should all just be pointing to God.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rodney Atkins - Watching You

I first heard this song on Saturday on my trip back to Indy. So, I looked it up to see the video. A great song about role-modeling.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Greyhound Ride

Well, the bus trip was pretty much uneventful. There were three small "instances" that I will share with you. There are definitely some interesting charachters that you meet and have the potential to meet - especially ay the 2:30 - 4:00 am lay-over in Nashville.

# 1 - Bus driver, please stay on the road. I had just fallen asleep - a HUGE accomplishment and heard a grinding sound. The driver of the bus at went off the road - and we hit the bumps. He overcompensated when getting back on to the road - it was quite of a jolt. After a few yells from the bus .. things quieted back down and I went back to zzzzzzz land.

# 2 - Please Watch the Kid. A parent was traveling with their youngster. The kid was out cold. So, dad put him on top of the duffle bag - pillow under the head and blanket over top of him - it was freezing in the waiting room ( bus terminal 0. All was god until Mr. Idiot wasn't paying attention is kicked and then tripped over the kid. The kid awoke to a horrific scream. He did settle down into dads lap rather quickly. If I was dad, I would have kicked the **** out of Mr. Idiot.

# 3 - No Mr. Geography, Birmingham does not have an abundance of Palm Trees. I am on the bus and the guy next to me is chatting up a storm. He is asking me where I was headed. I told him .. Birmingham, Al. he goes on a 10-minute tirade about how he loves the palm trees in B'ham. I just looked at hime dumb-founded. finally, I stopped him and said, " dude, there are no palm trees ". he did not believe me. I said, " wait till we roll in there, you will see ".

Now that I think about it, there are a lot more stories that I could share but, you would not believe them. Do yourself a favor, book yourself a ride and meet some charachters that you will not believe exist and that you will remember for a life-time.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My Heart Aches

I have been watching and reading a lot of news stories lately. One of the stories that really pulls on my heart strings is Darfur. There has not been too much on it. It is a "sacred cow" topic.

However, there are a few organizations that are trying to push it to the front burner and I want to apllaud them.

There have been commercials popping up on the tv to begin to show awareness. We need to do something.

Who is We and what We need to do can create controversy. But, my heart breaks for the families getting killed, the families being displaced and those who are starving.

Here is one person's effort to spread the word. Please take time to view the video, it is approx. 3 mins and 20 seconds and then answer the question:

Is there anything that you can do ?

Off to Alabama

Well, in about 8 hours, I am jumping on a Greyhound and going to Alabama. If everything goes well, I will get to birmingham in 12 hours. There are a few "waits" at bus stations in Louisville and Nashville.

I have made this trip once before and we were stuck in Louisville for quite awhile because of all the people wanting to be on the bus. It was quite interesting being at the bus station in Louisvilee for 5 hours .. especially when the 1 - 3 am time frame when people wanted to be out of the station.

When I return ( picking up a car ), I believe that I will have a few great stories to share about the trip. In a sense, I am not looking forward to the trip ... but there are two things that will be nice:

One, to see a few people from down there. I absolutely loved my three years down there and miss numerous of them. I am not sure if I will see them though - Hoover High School is getting ready this weekend to play in their 7th straight state championship ( football ).

Secondly, I find these bus trips and then a long drive back home a great time to clear the mind, think, and brainstorm and dream about the ministry that is occurring.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jeremy Camp - Understand

God, thanks for being there for me. Thank you for understanding me. Thanks for not leaving me.

God, I pray that when I get knocked down, when I get frustrated, when I want to throw my hands up in the air .. that I will have enough faith to get back on my feet again and rest in your arms.

The song below speaks volumes:

Here are the words to the song:

Every time I fall down on my face
I see the one who bore all my shame
To know that you are everything I need you to be
You're my ever present help in time of need
I know you understand it all
So why don't I get back on my feet again
Every pain I feel inside my heart
It takes a faith I know I can't depart
To know that you hear every cry I raise to you
Bringing thoughts of hope the words I bring I know are few
I know you understand it all
So why don't I get back on my feet again
You hear me when I call
You're there when I fall
You hear me when I call
I know you understand it all
So why don't I get back on my feet again

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This Is 4 My Wife

As I am sitting at my desk working on attendance is Excel, I have random songs playing.

This song came across the comp and I was brought to my wife. She really likes DC and their music. She even has this as her ringtone.

This post makes me remember that I need to write two posts:
one on her phone and two on databases for student ministries.

I guess I did the "hat trick" today .. 3 videos. WoW. Tomorrow, I will make my second post on Tony.

TobyMac - Irene

Recently, we went to the Toby Mac concert. I absolutely love T-O-B-Y-M-A-C.

His concerts are fantastic. I like all of his work. His high energy songs - really get the concert floors pumpin'.

But there is a song that has always touched my heart and it was/is the song Irene.

Thus, the reason that I included his music video for it. There are two resons:

One, God loves everyone and two, it is a challenge to see ( look ) around us to those who may be hurting or may need a hand.

Can we extend a hand or maybe the more important question is the following:

Will we 9 I, you ) extend a hand ?

Baptism Is Serious :)

I love this video.

Baptism is such an important aspect of the Christian Faith.

It is a moment that is very important to an individual and their familes lives. A moment that everyone will remember for a long time. This baptism will NEVER be forgotten.

Did you laugh ? Or did it upset you ?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Video: Hurting Kids

A video that hit close to home for me. Too many kids are hurting. Are you willing to reach out and help. Yearning for an animal ? So sad.

Winter Wonder Slam Tour

The snow stayed away and we were able to go over to Ft. Wayne for the concert. It was a great time. The only bad thing is that we had 13 extra tickets and it was a sell-out show. But ( because of the drive ), we got there at 7:25 ( concert started at 7:30 ) everyone looking for tickets had already left.

All 5 did a great job. To me the highlights of the night was Family Force 5 and TobyMac. If you do not like scream metal, Family Force 5 is probably not your cup of tea ..HOWEVER, to see 1000 students at the stage jammin' was great to see. They are high energy and do the scream metal very well.

TobyMac once again put on a show. His band is just unbelievable. The talent that he has and the band surrounding him and their love for God is just an undeniable phenom. I look forward to every chance that I get to see him. He did not disappoint and the crowd of 1400+ enjoyed every second of the show.

What I Liked About Tony - Pt 1

Today, I wanted to start a few posts on Tony Campolo. I can not say that I am a huge fan of Tony because his books are not lined up on my book shelves. But, I have always kind of listened to him and followed him a little with his concern on Social Justice.

The last few weeks, Tony has been at the YS conventions. I went and heard him in Cincy. He just concluded speaking in Charlotte. A few of the Charlotte bloggers are having a hard time "digesting" him. I have also then done some researching and have seen numerous "slams" on Tony. Thus, I wanted to do a mini-series on Tony and what I liked about him ( no, I do not agree with him 100% ).

This portion ( part 1 ) will deal with his seminar: Developing Spiritual Depth in Young People.

1. I really like the emphasis that when we are spiritually filled, we will/should be socially engaged. Too often, I think we live in a vaccum and are completely shut off with the world and what is happening.

2. I ( coming from a UMC ) really enjoyed his "disertation" on John Wesley and how the practices from Wesley came into play. Cathloic Mystisim was a very crucial part in his life. We think of ourselfs as the "reformation" that we need to be "removed" from the Cathloic thought and that is not the case.

3. BE STILL. This theme seemed to be all over the convention. His seminar was the first place for me to hear it at ( not ever - at the convention ). Too many times, we are on the go - constantly running. We need to take a break and BE STILL.

4. Prayer. He spent a great deal of time focusing on prayer. He looked at centering prayers, the celtic thin place, prayer of examine and the contemplative prayer. This is going to be a focus in my blog in the coming weeks. A section on prayers and what they can do for us.

5. Holy Spirit. He talked in-depth on the importance of the Holy Spirit. His one statement that really caught me ( early in the morning ) was the following: When you are filled with the Spirit, you will look at people differently. We need to see people differently, so we can love them as a person.

6. Connect Spiritually. We need to engage our students. We can not just give them a bag of tricks and games. We need to engage them with the living Christ. Unfortunately, I still think there are a lot of churches out there who do not engage people with Christ.

One of my favorite 'radical' statements from him was the following: When Jesus said, " we are to love our enemies, he probaly did not mean to kill them ".

Thank Tony for the message. The next aspect from this mini-series that I will look at will be: Red Letter Christians.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mid-West Snowstorm

We have seemed to miss the storm. However, some of our friends to the west of us did not get sparred. The above photo is from Missouri.

I have to admit, I am very thankful that we did not get it. The wind is blowing like crazy though and the occasional hard sleet/snow is nasty. The reason: I am headed to Ft. Wayne ( 2 1/2 hours away ) in about 4 hours. This is a fellowship event for The Journey.

Tonight should be a fun night. We are going to the Winter Wonderslam Tour. This is a 'slammin' tour with TobyMac, Hawk Nelson, The Afters, Family Force 5, and Ayiesha.

Anyone ready for some slam dancin' ?