Monday, December 31, 2007

My New Wheels

Well, they were my "new" wheels for the weekend. This is the vehichle that we rented to go to the retreat. This was my "economy" car from Enterprize. I "digged" the free upgrade since they did not have an economy car. It drove very nice but I was shocked at the lackluster amount of power. I was expecting some muscle. I guess that is why you need a HEMI.

Out at the Sk8 Park

The boys got Fusions for Christmas. Today (due to us traveling and me at the camp retreat) was the first day that we were able to get to the park. I am going to put 3 videos up for your viewing pleasure (hopefully the one does not embarrass Jacob too much).

Isaiah and Jacob riding the park (23 seconds)

Isaiah Going Down the Ramp (14 seconds)

listen to the words of Jacob at the end ... it will be needed for the next video

Jacob ... Not Quite Ready (22 seconds)

2007 Is Behind Us

The great thing about driving and looking forward is that you can see what is ahead of you but you can also glance and see what is behind of you. Well, for me today, I look ahead and see that 2008 is right upon me and 2007 is behind me. My eyes are focused ahead and waiting to see what is going to be around each turn and hill in 2008. But I want to briefly take a glance in the mirror and see what happened in '07.

2007 was a roller coaster ride year for our family. Stacey had a battle with her Crohn's. It knocked her down for awhile and it occurred without insurance which caused a royal nightmare. However, we were able to get her back on her feet.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, we had a very short tenure in Indiana and we made another move and ministry change. In June, we packed up the house in Lafayette, Indiana and made the move to Wooster, Ohio.

The boys had to adjust to another new school in a different state. Thankfully, they adjusted to the transition well. Unfortunately, I think that they did it well because they had to make one between their 1 & 2 grade year as well (Alabama to Indiana).

However, the last 6 months of 2007 were wonderful. We settled into a fantastic community and a wonderful church that has showered us with love. We have begun living in a great community and connecting with the community through various avenues. We began to take many strides and touches on the church and the ministry responsibilities that I oversee. We are so looking forward to '08 at Zion.

My family has wonderful health care coverage and health care providers through the Cleveland Clinic. They are all doing well and the monitoring is going great. I am so thankful that Stacey and Bethany are able to be under their care.

As I mentioned, it was a brief glance back because we are looking forward and moving on into '08. We are excited to see what it brings. We look forward to church, the schools and all the extra-curricular activities that the kids are able to participate in and will be participating in. We also are looking forward to the ways that we will be able to serve our new home community.

2008, let's rock.

No Turning Back

This weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Hopwood, Pennsylvania. In Hopwood, there is a beautiful camp in an amazing setting. The camp is called: Jumonville. It is a camp that has historic value to our nation as well. However, I did not go there for the history lesson. I went out there to help lead a weekend retreat. The youth ministry was SMX and they are part of the Greensburg First UM Church. the group of students there was wonderful.

Brad did a great job of putting the theme together for the week. He gave me four messages/lessons to develop and place into the overall theme of the week.

I will Not Give Up (Friday Night)
I Will Not Let Up (Saturday Morning)
I Will Not Back Up (Saturday Night)
I Will Not Shut Up (Sunday Morning)

I think that each of the lessons and sessions went pretty well. I am still waiting for some feedback from some of the critiques. I had the opportunity to take two of my students from Zion with me. I am thinking about (in the fall) using the method that I used there (the retreat) for Sunday School or for a week night event. Thus, I will be interested in hearing their response and see if they believe that this might work in our current setting; I am not quite sure.

I changed up a few things with each session. I am going to give each session a seperate post and give highlights of the message lay out and the main points of the talk. Maybe someone here could use them ...... But, it is also just for me to have them in my memory bank :)

Wow ... it is the last day of 2007 ... maybe I will do a year in review.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Heading Out ....

We arrived back home around 6 pm from our trip to Illinois. After getting the car unpacked, I went over to the church to check in on the room renovation at the church. We are changing up a few things in high school room. When I get back from my trip, I will post some pics. After the church visit, I came home for an hour+ to watch some of the Texas / Arizona State game. ASU got it handed to them. I also went to Wal-Mart to make a resource run. I needed to buy a few items for the weekend trip that I am headed out on.

Tomorrow afternoon or in about 11 1/2 hours, I will be heading over to Hopwell, Pennsylvania. I will be speaking / leading 4 teaching sessions for a retreat. I am also taking 2 of the students from Zion. I am looking forward to this weekend. I am looking forward to doing some teaching and I am looking for some time away at camp and I am looking forward to the time with two of the students. The lessons / teaching times were already themed out; so I have been preparring messages that go with their theme.

Upon my return, I will give the four themes and how I approached the sessions. I am hoping that everything will run smoothly. I put this 4-part series together a lot quicker than I normally would and I did it over a holiday period.

Thus, on Monday, I will try to catch up with my posting. I will give more details on the church service, Christmas, the trip in general and the weekend in Pennsylvania.

I hope that everyone has a great weekend.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you.

I hope that today is a fantastic day.

We are having a great time in Illinois. The kids loved their Christmas and Stacey's family is over for a wonderful lunch feast. I can't wait.

Cheers to you.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

In Illinois

We arrived in Illinois late Friday night. The drive was uneventful for us for the most part. There was misty rain, bad fog, a carthat caught on fire that stopped us for 30 mins .... but he travel overall was good and we even took a dinner break at Cracker Barrel.

Saturday was our family day. Stacey's brother and wife was in and Stacey's dad's brother and mom were at the house. We had tons of food and the kids received their christmas presents. It was a fun and relaxing day.

I have also been previewing my lessons/messages for the retreats. I am preparing 4 of them. 2 of them are going well, the other 2 are moing along. I am having major problems with the computer and software though and I want to chuck it :) Don't worry, I am not chucking it. I am hoping that I can figure it out though. I need to give Eric a call from Alabama.

Today we went to church at Second Church of Christ in Danville (will blog about that later) and then went out to lunch. This afternoon, I have been reading and checking scores via yahoo.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Church Arrogance ?

We were traveling back to Ohio tonight and on our way back, we saw a church (well, we say a number of them) that caught our eye. It was their sign. Stacey was the one that actually spotted it. She told me what it said. I had to stop and take a picture of it. Maybe arrogance is not the right word to use in the title.

However, there is just something that "rubs" me when I see or hear a church that say, "you need us". Maybe, it is just me ... what says you ?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Family Confirmation

Family Confirmation that is what I am investigating. We have just recently finished our first quarter of confirmation here at Zion and I am re-evaluating. I think that we may need to be making some whole-sale changes.

Now for those of you from Zion, sit back and take a few deep breaths. This is not a guarantee. It is not a definite. But it is a sincere investigation and I am hoping to have a proposal on the table for the Jan or Feb council meeting.

There are numerous reasons for the change but if we go this route, the main one is going to be taking a look at it from the biblical perspective - putting it (teaching the faith) back in the hands of the parents. We will do this cautiously and have numerous steps in place to make it easy and not overwhelming for the parents.

The parents will also be "facilitators". Using the technology that is available to us, we will still be providing the teaching via media resources. However, the parents will be the one "in-charge" and "guiding" the process.

I am looking forward to getting on this project as soon as Jan turns on the calendar and seeing what resources that we might be able to pull off to make this dream a reality.

What a Morning ....

Yup, it was one of those mornings. It was a pull your hair out morning. In the scheme of things, maybe it was not too bad but this is what occurred. We had staff meeting at 10 am and there were a few things that I needed to get ready for the meeting. Thankfully, I got a lot done yesterday evening before council.

When we woke up this morning, Stacey was not feeling good. Thus, the first small wrench was put into the day, but nothing that would make it a pull your hair out day.

I woke everyone up, pulled out some cereal, directed them to the clothes and was making sure that they got ready. Stacey was up enough to do Bethany's hair .. dad doing that in the morning for a doctor appointment is not good ( at least not for this dad ).

There was ice on the windows of the car, so I went out to scrape them off. The game plan was to get the kids in the car. I was going to drop the boys off at school, take Bethany to the doctors and then drop her off at the house and get to church for staff meeting .....

Well, I decided that I would turn the car on after I scrapped the windows. I would then go inside and get everyone out. By the time we got to the car - 3 mins ? ... the car was dead. I tried and tried and it would not start. It looked like we were out of gas. The gas light had been on ( I was not aware of this ). So, I take the kids inside.

I go out to the garage and see if we have gas in the gas can. We had about a half gallon. I put it in the car. I tried to start it. It almost starts. The car is on an incline, so that is not helping - gas is moving all to the front.

We cancel the doctor appointment and I walk the kids to school. When I get back, I try to uncover my van from the ice / snow. It was a little harder because it had been there for a few of the storms. After finally getting it defrosted, I start it up. Did I tell you that the transmission is almost out on this van. I jerked back and forth in the fan most of the way there .. it was a rough ride.

I get to the gas station and fill up the container and head back home - jerking back and forth all the way home. When I get out to Stacey's van; I try to put the gas in her van. The lid on the container breaks and spills all over my hands and wrist.

I was able to get enough gas into the car to start it up. I then drive to the gas station and fill her car up with $ 55 in gas. I then drive home and get ready to head over the church .. What an hour it was for me.

I get to church and print off some of the materials that I needed. The rest of the day was the following:

10:00 - 12:00 Staff
12:00 - 12:30 Unload Items to Youth Room (Project)
12:30 - 2:30 Volunteering at the Free Clinic
2:30 - 3:15 Youth Ministry Retreat Preperation
3:15 - 3:45 Pick Up Boys
3:45 - 4:15 Work on my Teaching Lessons
4:15 - 6:45 Went to Edgewood Basketball game (Cheer on Zach)

Now, a little blogging before dinner.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bye Bye ... Rich

Hey, he can almost wear the same colors. Hope you have fun in Michigan. I can not believe he took off and how he did it. Oh well, I enjoyed your offense and the recruits that you brought in, but I think that your coaching and play calling cost us the opportunity to play in the National Championship game.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You're Nothing But a Bunch Of ....

You are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites who are only focused on getting people saved. You are a bunch of homo-phobia sheltered individuals who are too political and are judgmental freaks.

There you go. It is now out in the open.

The Barna group has come out with their newest study and their findings from a new book called: UnChristian:What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity.

There were six broad themes that are the most common points of skepticism and objections raised by outsiders.

1. Hypocritical
2. Too Focused on Getting Converts
3. Anti-Homosexual
4. Sheltered
5. Too Political
6. Judgmental

The thing that once again gets to me is that we (Christians) are perceived for what we are against (or they think we are against) rather than what we are for. Of course, it could be do to the fact that we do that quite abit.

We are good at telling them what we are against. They see us boycotting The Golden Compass, they see us holding signs that say ABORTION KILLS, they see us carry signs that say Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve *rolls eyes* and the list can go on forever.

It would be nice if we were known for our "love". Yup, that cheesy song that we use to sing. Wow, it would be great if we did live that out and people (outside the church) would see us for us loving each other and *gasp* loving them as they are.

Take the challenge. Grab one of the six broad themes and talk and discuss ways that we can overcome the perseption. The one that I am going to take is # 4 - Sheltered.

In the study, people think that we are out of touch with reality. They also believe that we do not respond to reality in appropriate complex ways. They also do not believe that we are willing to deal with the grit / grime of people's lives.

Well, I think they pretty much hit it on the head. We are the champions of pat answers, throwing out key scriptures (God's will) and our 3 step sermons and 7 keys to success and everything will be alright.

It is tough to step out of our comfort zone and live in their lives. It takes time and energy to walk and journey with them. Life is messy. There may not be a light at the end of the tunnel. There may not be a rose ready to bloom. We may not have the right words to say. There may be nothing but silence. But, we are there with them. We are living with them in their reality. We can / should do what Bonhoeffer wasy, "we need to be place-sharers".

Can we get out of our Christian Bubble ? Can we see the world for as it really is ? Can we truly be willing to loe and expose ourselves so we can be with them.

Let's take a stroll through our lives and see who we come in contact with that may need a fellow individual to come alongside them - be that person.


So I went up the mountain
But all I saw was another mountain
So I came down the mountain
And I said, "leave me here lord"
So I went up the mountain
And all I saw was another mountain
So I came down the mountain
And I said, leave me here lord
Leave me in the valley
Let me rest my weary head
Give peace to your survivor
Put all my fears to bed

As I was doing some administrative work, I had Rhapsody playing. The song Wind and the Mountain came on by Liz Phair. I took a minute break and "rested". As I closed my eyes, I imagined myself in the song.

Presently, I am not weary and there are not many fears that are looming but in the journey of life, you never know what is coming and I am sure there are a few out there who need to hear the words: it is okay to rest and it is time to put your fears to bed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Crying Alone in Pain

Matthew Murray is the individual behind the shooting. There are many sides of this story. Individuals are talking and debating about gun laws. There are groups who are talking about the heroism of Assam who shot and killed him. He had over 1,000 rounds of ammunition (who knows how much pain and damage he could have done ). Then there are some who are posting and blogging about the fact that he posted on forums about what he was about to do. They include the following lines:

I'm coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed . . . And I WILL shoot to kill . . . All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you . . . as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world

I want to take a look at the poem that he wrote. There is some "bad language" and thought process in the poem. JUST A WARNING

Crying Alone in Pain (in the nightmare of Christianity)

Crying all alone in pain...losing all reserve….I can't wake up out of this nightmare........ Insane? Am I the only mother f***** with a brain?........

Maze...psychopathic daze...I create this waste
Back away from tangents, on the verge of drastic
ways...can't escape this place...I deny your face
Sweat gets in my eyes, I think I'm slowly dying

put me in a homemade cellar
put me in a hole for shelter
someone find me please, all I see is hate
I can hardly breathe and I can hardly take it!

lost...ran at my own cost...hearing laughter, scoffed
learning from the rush, detached from such and such
bleak...all around me, weak...listening, incomplete
I am not a dog, but I'm the one your dogging……

I am crying here in a buried kennel
I have never felt so final
Someone help me please, losing all reserve
I am f***ing gone, I think I'm fu**ing dying

You all stare, but you'll never see
There is something inside me......

Cut me! beat me! molest me! abuse me! @#%$ me! hate me! break me! Rape me! kill me! show me! Here is my purity……
Enter this nightmare…..I am willing and able and never any danger to myself
Knowledge in my pain, knowledge in my pain, just....@#%$ acknowledge all my pain, acknowledge all my

pain.....knowledge in my pain......
Or was my tolerance a phase?
Empathy! out of my way!
I can't die.....I can't die.....I can't die.....trancing out into another dark reality as the pain

fades purity.....
You all stare, but you'll never see
There is something in you I despise.....
have you ever seen God?......have you ever seen God?!
have you ever......

Those words tear me up. I am not sure what the answer is folks. However, I will tell you that there are a lot of people in this world that are hurting and screaming. We need to hear their voices and try to help.

I am not sure how many attempted to reach out and I am not sure if he was willing to receive help or if he even realized that he may have needed it.

This could be a wrong perspective on my part and I might be using this to beat a dead horse or draw wrong conclusions to point to an issue that I want to stress ... so take the following through whatever lens that you want to see it through or filter it through.

We, Christians, need to keep our eyes and ears open to what is occurring around us. We, as churches, really need to see what our purpose and priorities are and make sure that while we are reaching for the stars that there are those around us falling through the cracks screaming and we are deaf to their screams.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Shooting at New Life Church

Early this afternoon, there was a shooting at the church and the gunman was killed by an armed security staff from the church. Security was on higher-alert this afternoon due to a shooting during the night at a missionary training center in Arvada. The church also has offices for the training center. They are not sure if they are connected at this time.

From CNN: A gunman attacked worshippers at a Colorado Springs, Colorado, megachurch Sunday afternoon, killing one person and wounding four others before being killed by a security staff member, the city's police chief said. Emergency vehicles gather near New Life Church in Colorado Springs on Sunday.

Chief Richard Myers called the person "a courageous security staff member who probably saved many lives today." He said some of the shooting victims being treated at the hospital have life-threatening injuries. Several "suspicious devices" were found at the church, Myers said.

From Fox News:

The program that runs mission training in Arvada has a small office at the New Life Church's World Prayer Center.

A gunman in a black trench coat and a high-powered rifle entered the church's main foyer about 1 p.m. and began shooting, according to the church member, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the police department had asked that it release all information.

The church's 11 a.m. service had recently ended, and hundreds of people were milling about when the gunman opened fire. Nearby were parents picking up their children from the nursery.

Three people were taken to Penrose Community Hospital in Colorado Springs, where they were listed in critical, fair and good condition, said hospital spokeswoman Amy Sufak.

The first shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, a Denver suburb, police spokeswoman Susan Medina said. A man and a woman were killed and two men were wounded, Medina said. All four were staff members with the center, said Paul Filidis, a Colorado Springs-based spokesman with Youth With a Mission.

From MSNBC (16 mins ago):

Gunman, victim killed in Colo. church attack
Police: Four others wounded, no link yet to earlier Colorado shooting


My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the greater COS area and with the church and ministry. The church has gone through a great deal lately. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be led in worship with 5500 youth workers at the National Youth Workers Convention by their worship band: The Desperation Band.

Steelers ......

I wish FOX would be showing this game today ... I mean Pittsburgh vs. New England .. C'Mon. But, no .. they are on CBS and I can not watch it due to regional coverage. We get to watch the Browns vs. Jets ... *blah*

I apologize for the following:

1. First to those in our town who are reading this that are so thankful that the Browns are playing.

2. To those who are rooling their eyes at another sports post

3. To those who are going, Jeff, there are more important things to be upset about than what fb game CBS is showing.

I know and I am soory. But, I want to see if the Steelers can knock off the "perfect" NE Patriots. My plan was to tape it and watch it when I got home tonight. So, now, I am getting the 10 sec refresh from yahoo before things get going and then check in around the 4th quarter .....


Well, may I should be glad that it was not shown; they played horribly. Get your act together Steelers or the Browns may catch you ...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Golden Compass

Well, we went to the movie tonight. I will not write much about it though. I do not want to spoil it for those who may want to go and see it. I do have to say that I am becoming a fan of good vs. evil. I thought that the action was good. However, I did think that it was a little slow and it did seem like we were in the theater longer than we were.

One of the things that Christians are worried about is that they are afraid people may now run out and buy the books and the other books are more "dangerous". I have not read the series. I have read inserts / reviews. Thus, I am not 100% where it is going. They say it gets darker and evil. I am not sure. But, they (Christians) may be right in there will be a "flood" to buy the books.

The reason: I am sure that people are wanting to know what happened. They just saw 1/3 of the story and they are going to want to know what happens to Lyra.

The controversy does crack me up. I did go see it with some teenagers. We enjoyed being together and our conversation afterwards at Starbuck's.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

God Goes Out Of Business

"Just my luck," I said. "The High God goes out of business just the moment I need him."

wow. Those words are the words that are screamed out in Psalms 77:10. One of my favorite quiet/devotion tmes is reading through the Psalms. At times, it is just raw. We, as Christians, are not good at raw. We like things neat and pretty and please have a bow on it ...

Here is Psalms 77 in its entirety in the message format.

1 I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.

2-6 I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord; my life was an open wound that wouldn't heal. When friends said, "Everything will turn out all right," I didn't believe a word they said. I remember God—and shake my head. I bow my head —then wring my hands. I'm awake all night—not a wink of sleep; I can't even say that's bothering me. I go over the days one by one, I ponder the years gone by. I strum my lute all through the night, wondering how to get my life together.

7-10 Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good? Will he never smile again? Is his love worn threadbare? Has his salvation promise burned out? Has God forgotten his manners? Has he angrily stalked off and left us? "Just my luck," I said. "The High God goes out of business just the moment I need him."

11-12 Once again I'll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.

13-15 O God! Your way is holy! No god is great like God! You're the God who makes things happen; you showed everyone what you can do—You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble, rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.

16-19 Ocean saw you in action, God, saw you and trembled with fear; Deep Ocean was scared to death. Clouds belched buckets of rain, Sky exploded with thunder, your arrows flashing this way and that. From Whirlwind came your thundering voice, Lightning exposed the world, Earth reeled and rocked. You strode right through Ocean, walked straight through roaring Ocean, but nobody saw you come or go.

20 Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron, You led your people like a flock of sheep.

When was the last time that you had a true heart-heart with God ?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It Snowed Last Night

Last night, we had our first "real" snow of the season. It started after midnight and continue through the night. I think that we got 3-4 inches. I am not sure. But since it came during the night; the kids did not have school. They enjoyed it. Anyway the pic is from our family room. You can see the back yard and the lacrosse field (which is at the bottom of our hill).

Born Again Lazy

I was reading a story from Craig that I thought "hit home". Here is the story, read it and tell me what you think.

They were out to lunch with the minister, minister wife and a few others from the church and Craig shared a story about reaching out to an "untouchable" and them (untouchable) getting their life turned around.

Craig continues: To know God has used us to help another find redemption and start a new life in Christ was a great and humbling testimony for us to share.

The nice, southern, evangelical Christian pastor's wife looked across the table with her beautiful smile and well-intentioned life and stopped the Gospel dead: "No matter what you or others do, God would have taken care of it, if he wanted it done. It doesn't matter if you gave her money or not, God would have taken care of it if he wanted."

My jaw hit the table as she finished her sentence and smiled at us like she had just dispensed the greatest Christian wisdom since Christ hung on the cross. I grabbed for my coffee cup and prayed: "Lord, don't let me kill this lady."

"So basically it's okay to look the other way when we see others in need?" I asked politely.

"If God wants something done, he will do it." She said with a smug righteousness.

J.R. (my friend and partner in ministry) buried his fork in his napkin, which was translation for "Lord, don't let me kill this lady." We think alot alike.

I leaned forward, "If we all adopted that way of thinking then the Bible becomes a moot point." She smiled. I just about vomited all over the table. Moments like those suck. The "Born Again Lazy" have no idea they are even lazy. The church grows this attitude by never confronting her crazy rhetoric. She truly thinks it is okay to let God have the bulk of responsibility. After all: he's God. Nevermind the countless opportunities He will hand you in your lifetime to help those around you. Why bother if he can do anything he wants.

Many Christians see the world as a mission field, but the sad truth is that many of us never leave the driveway of the church to do anything about it. Our pastor wife may never get it.

I liked the story.

Let us follow Jesus: Go and Do

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

There is a God

I was watching the MNF game and flipping channels during the timeouts. I came across CMA channel and this video was playing. Now, it may not be a "worship" song in the sense that most would define; but I would say that this is a great worship song.

Here is the video and the lyrics are below the video:

Try and put your arms around
the 100 year old tree
Climb up on a horse
and let it run full speed
Take a look out at the world from 30,000 feet
on your next flight

Watch a flock of birds
against the morning sun
Close your eyes and listen
to the river run
Catch a firefly in your hand
or a raindrop on your tongue
That's right

There is a God
There is a God
There is a God
How much proof do you need?

Plant a seed and see
what comes out of the ground
Find the heartbeat on your baby's ultrasound
In a few years hear it laughing,
and don't it sound like a song?

Stop and think about
what you don't understand
Things like life and love
and how the world began
Hear the doctor say he can't explain it,
but the cancer is gone

There is a God
There is a God
There is a God
How much proof do you need?

Science says it's all just circumstance
That this whole world is just an accident
But if you want to shoot that theory down,
just take a look around

Oh just look around

Now there is a God
There is a God
Oh there is a God,
How much proof do you need?

Now, There is a God.


Ummmm, two late night post with both having to do with country music. I feel dirty; I think i need a shower :)

BTW, the game had a great finish.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Stupid Boy

I heard this song today and it reminded me of an individuals who came across my blog and sent me an email telling me a little bit about her story.

This is by Sarah Buxton. I think Keith Urban did the song originally (as well). I am not sure, I am not much of a country video person. But here is the video, the lyrics and my thoughts to the one this goes out to ...

She was precious, like a flower:
Yeah, she grew wild; wild but innocent.
Perfect prayer in a desperate hour:
She was everything beautiful an' different.
Stupid boy: you can't fence that in.
Stupid boy: it's like holding back the wind.

She laid her heart an' soul right in your hands,
An' you stole her every dream an' crushed her plans.
She never even knew she had a choice.
That's what happens when the only voice,
She hears is tellin her she can't:
Stupid boy: you stupid boy.

So what made you think you could take her life,
An' just push it, push it around?
I guess you built yourself up so high,
You had to take her an' break her down.

She laid her heart an' soul right in your hands,
An' you stole her every dream an' crushed her plans.
She never even knew she had a choice.
That's what happens when the only voice,
She hears is tellin her she can't:
Stupid boy.

Ah, you always had to be right,
An' now you lost the only thing,
That ever made you feel alive.

:. Instrumental Break .:
(Whoo, yeah.)
(Na, na, whoa.)

She laid her heart an' soul right in your hands,
An' you stole her every dream an' you crushed her plans.
She never even knew that she had a choice.
That's what happens when the only voice,
She hears is tellin her she can't:
Stupid boy.

Ah, it's the same old, same old stupid boy.
Mmm hmm.
It took her a while to work it out she could run,
But once she did, she was long gone, long gone.

Stupid boy, yeah.
You're just a stupid boy.
You never get it right, do you?

Rob Bell: Church & Community

I came across an interview that the WittenburgDoor done recently and it "touched" something today. Here are two questions: back-to-back that got me thinking today.

DOOR: Why do you think we have so many Jesuses? My Jesus vs. your Jesus, Conservative Jesus, Liberal Jesus, Pentecostal Jesus, Episcopalian Jesus ...

BELL: People will grab all aspects of the truth. I guess it would be hard for one person to wrap their arms around that much truth. Easier to grab small pieces, I suppose. I'll take all the good. I want the best of the Assembly of God Jesus, the Latin America Jesus; I want the best of all of them. Jesus talked about fruit, told great stories—you can say anything, but its actions that you can't argue with.

DOOR: How did this Mars Hill thing happen, anyway?

BELL: Seven years ago, a group of friends were just dreaming of something better. I guess the natural evolution of each generation is to explore what it means. How to live the way of Jesus here and now. So we started and it now feels like fifty years packed into seven. Mars Hill is an old mall. Our "architect"—I say that as a joke—says everything about the church should scream "Welcome to our church service! Now get the hell out of here." We say, "This isn't the church, this is a church service. It's just an hour where we have some teaching, some singing and you'll hear about things in the community." If there are 43 "one anothers" in the New Testament—serve one another, carry one another's burden's, confess to one another—you can only do a couple of those in a church service. Until you have a community that you are journeying with, please don't say you are a part of this church. You just come to a gathering. We are very intentional about that. The question is, "Who do you call when your brother ODs on cocaine? If your mom is in the hospital, who comes and sits in the waiting room with you? When you cannot pay your rent, who do you go to and say please help me out?" That's your church.

I really liked the answer that he gives and it has caused me to think how we can help people plug into a true community (if they so choose). Also, it fuels the desire for me to be in that type of community in "our church" and to connect others to this; so we can truly journey together.

Desserts @ Church

This past weekend, we tried a new event at the church. From a numbers standpoint, people would have not considered it "a success". However, events like these are events that I am really beginning to love.

The concept of the event was the following: everyone bring their favorite dessert to the church and meet in the fellowship hall. We would then all sit around the tables trying all the desserts (everyone would bring the recipes so we can try them out over the holiday season) and fellowshipping with one another while we had Christmas music playing. After about a half an hour, we would put Charlie Brown's Christmas on while we continued to fellowship. We would then have St. Nick do a reading on Christmas trees and their meaning (tie in with CB).

Even though there were only a few individuals that came out, we enjoyed the desserts and we enjoyed the fellowship with one another.

St. Nick & The Kids: Here is a picture of St. Nick up by the trees reading the story. Everyone brought Christmas toys for us to give to the People to People Ministry. the pass out toys to the families in the community in need. The younger kids seemed to really enjoy watching CB and listening to the story.

Pastor: He always has a great time at these events and he is a great 'sport'. He has a heart for people. We just had to have him put on the ears. Don't you think they look good on him ? Of course, you can tell by the picture that he was not was not watching CB. That is okay though. CB was "background" for the fellowship that was occurring.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Are We That Dumb ?

Are we really that dumb ? The question goes out to fellow youth ministers or to individuals who "watch" youth ministers? There have been many individuals and groups who have been doing numerous studies about youth ministries and if they are successful.

One of the things that continually make me scratch my head is our complete lack of knowledge about the communities that we live in. For instance, do you know that there hve been studies done and ym's do not mention or recognize that stuctual issues affect teens ???

In one study, I fell off my chair when I read that youth ministers would consider relational youth ministry a success when we are in each others weddings. Ummm, can we please mention a few things like: improved education systems, lower crime rate, eliminating poverty, and more youth attending trade school / college.

I know that I am no where - where I need to be but c'mon.

There is much injustice in our community. We must be willing to step up and deal with it. As I mentioned, I am early into this game but it is a ourney that I (we) must be on.

Ashley Tisdale: Two Different Worlds

Okay, I can't believe that I am making a post on Ashley Tisdale. But, my three kids love to watch Disney and one of their favorite shows is The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Ashley is on the show. She plays Maddie ( candy counter girl ).

Anyways, she is now in the music scene. Disney does an amazing job in introducing charachters and then putting them in their own show and then spinning that into musical careers ... money makers.

I am not sure who writes her songs (should do a search on that) but there is such a diversity to them ( I think ). Even though she is not a teenager anymore, I believe that her "split" personalities show what a lot of teenage girls go through. They are really tring to figure out who they are and where they belong.

I haved included two of her videos in this post with lyrics. They are in stark contrast of one another. At the end, I will make a few notes of reflection.


Suddenly I, am in front of the lights
Everything, I'm feeling
Scary and beautiful at the same time
And every day, I try just to breathe
I want to show the whole world
The truth inside of me

Suddenly people know my name
Suddenly everything has changed
Suddenly I feel so alive
In the blink of an eye
My dreams begin to reign

Suddenly time, it feels like the wind
It changes everywhere I go
I'm just trying to fit in
Now here I stand
And I'm still just that girl
I'm following my heart
In this amazing crazy world

Suddenly people know my name
Suddenly everything has changed
Suddenly I feel so alive
In the blink of an eye

Suddenly I am center stage
Suddenly I am not afraid
Suddenly I believe again
In the blink of an eye it's happening now

As my dreams begin to reign
I want to say love me for me
What's inside
I'm gonna be positive, not run away, so much for you
This is life

Suddenly I am center stage
Suddenly I am not afraid
Suddenly I believe again
In the blink of an eye
My dreams begin to reign

He Said She Said

Boy walking the spot he so fresh and
He got what he needs impressin'
Just look at the way that he dressin'
Ain't no question chicks like ooh!

Girl walkin the spot she stop traffic
She got everything you can't pass it
So Jessica Alba fantastic
Instant classic boys like Woooo!

Baby I can see us Movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than He said She said

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

He said girl you winning
She said boy where you been at
Stop talking lets get with it
Just like that they

He said you're amazing
She said then why you waiting
No more deliberating
What you doing lets get moving
Just like that they

Boy acting as if there's no pressure
He'd do anything to impress her
He say anything to just win her
Money spent to diamonds sent her

Girl playing cool but she winning
She loving the fact that she's gifted
Everything that he do she get lifted
Feel so wicked dancing like ohh

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

He said girl you winning
She said boy where you been at
Stop talking lets get with it
Just like that they

He said you're amazing
She said then why you waiting
No more deliberating
What you doing lets get moving
Just like that they

One day with you
Boy just one day with you
all the things we can do
Everyday I think of
Being with you
No one else but us two
All our dreams would come true
If we just get together!

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

Ohhh what you waiting for?

He said girl you winning
She said boy where you been at
Stop talking for a minute
Just like that they

He said you're amazing
She said then why you waiting
No more deliberating
What you doing lets get moving
Just like that they


Your gunna like it
your gunna want it
your gunna like it
We don’t need no more than he said she said
your gunna like it
your gunna want it
your gunna like it
We don't need no more than he said she said!



I think that her lyrics in Suddenly can actually sum it up very well. Maybe, I am taking too deep of a look at it but I see this in individuals too well. They are "thrusted" into a position that they are unsure about and they do not know how to act - they do not know how to act because they are uncertain who they are.

This is not to slam Ashley at all but I wonder if there are parents who see her "dingy" self on The Suite Life .. see the "ballad" Suddenly and take their kids to the concert and then fall out of their seats on some of the stage presence.

Back to "normal" posting .. whatever that means for me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stellvertreter: Place-Sharer

Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran Theologian, had this image that he loved to use. The image was one of a place-sharer (stellvertreter). A place share for him was the following: one person must stand in the place of the other. Place-sharing can and does take place when we are willing to place ourselves fully in the reality of the other. WE MUST refuse to turn away even in the worst of the horrors. We "share" the space of living with them. Unfortunately, I do not see much of this occurring today.

I am reading a very interesting book about relationships. The intruiquing thing to me about the book is that in one hand I am reading this book and the other hand I am looking at our community and seeing how we can build networks (relationships) and make a difference. The difference isn't to "change" their lives (inside - make them one of us) but it is to end poverty, welfare and unemployment. So, here are some words that smack me on the side of the head.

Relationships aren't about making things better, they are about being together in each other's most difficult moments. Now that is love. Why is it that we always want to make things better for others ? Why is it that we want to "build relationships" so we can speak truths into someone's life so they will make better choices (change this habit or that habit) ?

In youth ministry, I see this all the time. It is done in love, but it is wrong (I think). We build relationships to "earn trust" and then we believe we can influence their lives. When we influence their lives, we can "manipulate" what they do / don't do and / or we can get them to believe this or know that .....

Andrew Root says in beautifully when he is referring to the incarnational youth ministry. He states: I was more concerned with their decisions, behavior or commitment than with their broken humanity that desired someone to share in their deepest sufferings through relationships. When I tried to influence them, I had neither the patience nor the vision to truly share in their suffering, to make it my own and to joing my own broken humanity with theirs. I was so busy making assertions about heaven that I refused to see and accompany them in the darkness of their personal hell's.

My Prayer

God, please allow my eyes to be open. Let me be "incarnate" with individuals. Give me the encouragement and the strength to walk with them in their brokeness. Allow me to open up with them and allow us to journey together. Please let me allow it be about accompaniment and not about influence. Daddy, this is a big step. I want to be with people and share life with people. Also, please let me be reminded of all the structual issues that are in place that cause the brokeness and do not fall into the trap that says, "being a friend will fix all the problems" Shine through me. Amen.

To my friends out there, if you need me to walk with you, be there with you and live life with you; please let me know.

There is going to be more on relationships, youth ministry, Bonhoeffer, incarnate living and figuring out life. There are numerous books, readings, life and conversations that are so intertwined ... I am looking forward to the journey.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hot Under The Collar

I got a little "hot under the collar" today. I usually try to remain cool and calm but I might have "lost" it a little bit today. I also broke a "Jeff Rule". The Jeff Rule is not to answer an email that you disagree with right away. But, I did not do that today. I "fired" a reply to all after about 10 seconds after reading it. I should have went and picked up the boys and then answered ( I was leaving to pick them up in 5 minutes ).

Here is the deal. I spent the morning listening to the program on ending poverty in Wayne County. With the program, came the statistics. We have a lot of families struggling. No need to go into details. I hear from agencies in the county that are struggling to make ends meet and they need volunteers, coaches, mentors and people to care about people. I then have a conversation and find out that the Pregnancy Center in town is in need of supplies and the list goes on with other agencies in town and our community.

In the midst of that I was taking care of some of the administrative items I do on Monday and met with a volunteer from our church regarding Children's Church and an email comes across my desk.

It is an email regarding The Golden Compass. *sigh*

The email is from a fellow youth minister in town. He is encouraging me to make announcements in youth and have the senior pastor make an announcement from the pulip to SKIP THE MOVIE - it is evil and they are tring to kill off God (more of what it is really about later). He then wants all of us to contact our local movie theater and have us convince them to BLOCK THE MOVIE. *sigh*

So, I quickly fired off an email. I was nice and apologized if I offended. But, I did state that I would not make announcements. I would not try to block the movie. I told them that I probably would even take a group to go see the movie and then hang out at a coffee shop and talk about the movie.

Friends, we have alot more important things to worry about than banning a movie. Heck, the movie may even be a message that we need to hear. Once again, more on that later. We have people around us that are hurting and they need us. We must help make change occur. We must show them the love of Christ. We must be his hands and feet. Maybe, I am wrong. Maybe I should be more concerned about "banning a movie" but right now; I am not in that place.

If you want me to come and mentor a kid. If you want me to come and help at the food bank. If you want me to go and purchase some clothes for those in need .... (list can go on) then shoot me an email. I will carve time in my life for that.

I am going to be doing some posting now on The Golden Compass and the "trilogy" His Dark Materials. It will have to do with the books, the movies, conversations and my reviews. I will also share some of the discussions that I have about the movie with my students. What amazes me is that this book has been around for over 12 years. The series has sold over 12 million copies and now ... we (Christians) are getting the books banned *scratches head*

I am also going to be posting on both sides of the issues. I will dwell in the world of "fox news" (he he he) I Report ... You Decide

Ending Poverty

Today, I went to the Circles Campaign meeting. This was put on by Move the Mountain and aha! Process, Inc. The representation from our community (county) was diverse and was attended by various community leaders, agencies and churches. I believe that we as a county will act upon this measure and begin the process of implementing Circles in our county.

To do this, we will have to make numerous changes in our structure and agencies but I am hopeful that this can be done. One of the things that Circles is dependent on though is for individuals to step up and say, "I want to break the cycle of poverty and I want to get out". The concept of Circles (in theory) is simple. The individual in poverty has a team that "emotionally adopts" them. The team then helps them come out of the grips of poverty. The team consists of allies (people there to love, encourage, and support them), coach (professional: service worker), peer (individual in the same boat: giving back & helping) and finally ad-hoc allies (individuals to assist: servants). This team does life together. The team is driven by the circle leader (individual in poverty). The cast (team) is put into place by Circles. However, this puts the responsibility at the feet of those in poverty.

Highlights That Stood Out

1. Circles intentionally builds relationships across class and race lines to end poverty.

2. Research shows that it takes social capital and education to bring individuals out of poverty ( I Love the Concept of "social capital". )

3. For individuals to move out of poverty; it takes more than just the individual. It takes the community, agencies and policy changes (good examples were given).

4. Our goal has been wrong ! Our goal has been to get people off (out) the welfare system. The goal should be to end (get them out of) poverty.

5. Community mindset MUST CHANGE. It needs to shift from: some poverty is normal and tolerate to the following: no poverty is tolerable or necessary.

6. Our agencies must change. We must move from: We will deliver services to you on behalf of the community to the following: We will help you build community around your family and neighborhood so you can reach your dreams.

In a blog post, it may be difficult how we as a community or a county can/will achieve this. But, i am hopeful and am going to look into a few of the cities in the U.S. who have implemented this and are showing success.

This was the first time that I have been in a meeting or a conversation where I could say, 'YES, ENDING POVERTY IS A POSSIBILITY'. It will be hard work, but I think we can get it done.

Who Are You ?

Recently, I came across another one of Merton's quotes that has caused me to sit back and reflect. The quote is the following: In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be. To me this is profound and difficult at the same time. At times, you need to "give-up" your pursuit so you can be who you really are called to be.

Too many times, individuals "speak" to us and by their "speaking"; they have designated who we are and who we are destined to become. Thus, we are chasing goals and aspirations that are not truly who we are.

What about you and your life ? Do you need to give up something to be yourself ?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Leadership in the Church

Today, I want to share a scripture from 1 Timothy and then discuss how this scripture may impact us (churches) on who we place into roles of leadership. We will take a look at 1 Timothy 3:1-7. We will look at the scripture from 2 different versions: Young's Literal and New Life.

1 Timothy 3
Young's Literal Translation

1 Stedfast [is] the word: If any one the oversight doth long for, a right work he desireth; 2 it behoveth, therefore, the overseer to be blameless, of one wife a husband, vigilant, sober, decent, a friend of strangers, apt to teach, 3 not given to wine, not a striker, not given to filthy lucre, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money, 4 his own house leading well, having children in subjection with all gravity, 5 (and if any one his own house [how] to lead hath not known, how an assembly of God shall he take care of?) 6 not a new convert, lest having been puffed up he may fall to a judgment of the devil; 7 and it behoveth him also to have a good testimony from those without, that he may not fall into reproach and a snare of the devil.

1 Timothy 3
New Life Version

What A Church Leader Must Be Like

1 It is true that if a man wants to be a church leader, he wants to do a good work. 2 A church leader must be a good man. His life must be so no one can say anything against him. He must have only one wife and must be respected for his good living. He must be willing to take people into his home. He must be willing to learn and able to teach the Word of God. 3 He must not get drunk or want to fight. Instead, he must be gentle. He must not have a love for money. 4 He should be a good leader in his own home. His children must obey and respect him. 5 If a man cannot be a good leader in his own home, how can he lead the church? 6 A church leader must not be a new Christian. A new Christian might become proud and fall into sin which is brought on by the devil. 7 A church leader must be respected by people who are not Christians so nothing can be said against him. In that way, he will not be trapped by the devil.

In these scriptures, we see 15 characteristics that an elder should have. I believe the 'key' word is characteristic. Here is the list:

1. Self-Controlled
2. Hospitable
3. Able to teach
4. Not violent but gentle
5. Not quarrelsome
6. Not a lover of money
7. Not a recent convert
8. Has a good reputation with outsiders
9. Above reproach
10. Husband of one wife
11. Temperate
12. Respectable
13. Not given to drunkenness
14. Manages his own family
15. His children obey him

We could argue and debate who wrote this letter and when it was written and who the "real" audience of the letter was intended for. These are all very valueable because it helps us distinguish the context and context is vital. However, for the look into the characteristics; I am going to by-pass that process.

I find it very intriguing that the "qualifications" are more about a persons character and how they live than their skills and how they apply their skills to their "work".

What implications does this have for the church ?

When we as a church are looking to fill deacons, elders, church council members or the various committees that we "need" to fill; how do we look for individuals ?

When there is a staff position that has a vacancy and we are pursuing candidates, what is on the top of our list ? When we as leaders in the church are recruiting "servants/volunteers" who do we target ???

I think that we may need to look at a persons inside a lot more than we normally do.

too many times, we look at their skills, the talents that they bring to the table. We get "awed" by their talents and think how their talents can soar us to the next level. we need to examine their hears and what their actions would be like when they have "power".

Maybe, we would be more 'successful' if we looked at the heart. If we took the look of characteristics and that was our priority. The skill or talent could be learned.

In my case, I know that I want individuals who love God, love others and express a servant's heart and brings a side of gentleness. this is much more important than _______________.

What is the "decision factor" for you ??

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NYWC: Atlanta - Saturday

Saturday may have been my favorite day of the convention. Now, I know that it was my favorite day this year. I mean it may have been my favorite day of all the years that I have gone (9 years) I believe.

The morning started out with a great seminar called: Creating a Rhythm of Life With God by Mike King. In the future, I will definitely epound on why this seminar was so great. I am more and more intriguide about the "rules of life" or "rhythm of life".

After class, I went to the next general session. This was the session that I was waiting for. The entertainment was The Skit guys, they always make me laugh. Worship was led by The chris Tomblin Band and the message was delivered by Phyliss Tickle. She did an UNBELIEVABLE job. Do yourself a favor and find the DVD. She did a great job explaining "the new reformation" that we are in.

After the session, we went over to Jock & Jill's with one of our former volunteers. We had lunch while we watched the first half of the Michigan / Ohio State game. We had some "beauty queens" behind us with "their cheerleading daughters" rooting at the Georgia/Kentucky game on the next TV.

After lunch, I went to the next seminar (super seminar - 2 1/2 hours). This seminar was fantastic. It was called: Story, Signs & Sacred Rhythms: Narrative Approach to Nurturing Students I took notes after notes after notes on this class. It was packed with information. I am looking forward to processing all the info from this class.

We then had a bite to eat from the food court and went to the next general session. The general session included the concert by Family Force 5. The worship was led once again by the Tomblin Band and then Louie Giglio got up and spoke. I heard about 75% of this message before (at Big Stuf). It had the theme of HOPE. I think that message is very vital and can be very vital to those in ministry. I am sure there were many wounded ministry workers that needed to grasp a hold of the message. I know it did a lot for me in June when I heard it and was in time of transition.

Afterwards, we stayed and watched Rob Bell's newest video (Name). Afterwards, we made the walk back to the hotel - in time - to see the last quarter of the WVU / Cincy game.

A great day for sure .....

NYWC: Atlanta - Friday Afternoon / Evening

The afternoon "kicked-off" the convention. It opened up with the General Session. They always have some "lite" stuff to open it up (the session). The comedy is always a good way to smile, laugh and lighten yourself up a little.

The General Session was opened with the Desperation Band leading worship. I think that they did a fantastic job in leading us in worship. The concert was by Flatfoot 56 and I think the crowd overall enjoyed them. The opening session was delivered by Andy Stanley. I think that his message was very important. His message was on power. He was stressing that we need to be thinking of what we will do when we are the most powerful person in the room.

I have to admit, I tend to shy away from those moments and "deflect" the attention away from me. But, at times, I know that i am the "most powerful person" in the room. It may be when I am speaking, it may be when I am leading an exercise, it may be when someone is looking for me to make the decision or as will be the case in a few minutes; it may be when a teen cmes to me seeking advice.

So, what do you do with power ? As Andy pointed out, we need to look at Jesus. When He had the power, what did he do ? He served. He took off his outer-garnments and washed His disciples feet. The power MUST be underneath. We can not have over-the-top power. It may be tough, but we need to serve.

After the main session, I went to a seminar that I knew that I would "struggle" with. The seminar was called: Party With Purpose: Evangelism in the Adolescence Party Scene It was led by Mike Flavin. He leads a ministry called Fire Escape. I am very skeptical of this type of "attraction" ministry. However, I wanted to go and try to evaluate the concept and what place (if any) it has in the church and more importantly in my context.

I think that if we "threw money" out to create the type of atmosphere that he is calling for; that we could create a great place for kids, a safe alternative and have "numbers". However, as I look at my community, I think we need to feed and cloth individuals ..... *sigh*

After the seminar, I tried to process the info as we gathered to eat in the CNN center at the food court before moving back to the convention center for the second general session. I was waiting excitingly for the session: SHANE CLAIRBORNE was speaking.

Desperation Band led us in worship again and once again, it was great time of worship. The concert was "old-school" *cough* Third Day. I think that i am actually enjoying them more the older that we (the band and I get).

Shane came up to speak and it was not what I was expecting. BUT, it was what I needed. I was looking forward to hearing about the "simple way". I was looking forward to hearing about his fantastic ministry. I was looking for insight on how i might be able to implement some of his thoughts and ideas into my life and my community. He did none of that. What he did instead was gave me Jesus.

He read the SERMON ON THE MOUNTAIN. After the first 10-15 versus, I had a sense that he was not going to give application but he was going to give us "the greatest sermon ever give". Thus, I sat back, closed my eyes and listened to the words of Jesus. I imagined that I was in the cowd and I listened for the words that God wanted me to hear. It was powerful.

Wow, what our life would be if we just listened to Jesus and follwed Him.

Grace is Gone

I do not think that I would make it through the movie; thus I don't think that I will be seeing it. If anyone goes and sees it when it comes out (December 7th) let me know what you thought.

NYWC: Atlanta - Friday Morning

I woke up early Friday morning after a short sleep (I watched the Arizona State / Oregon game) and headed off to my Critical Concern Class. We had three more hours of instruction.

Critical Concern Class

There were two importan themes that we covered during class; along with the project of building our "dream church". The areas that we covered were cow hunting and youth ministry in 2020.

Sacred Cows of YM

These are the cows that they believe need to be destroyed:

1. 3 Step Methods (pat answers for everything)
2. Fear, Guilt, and Presuure Evangelism
3. Consumption Gospel
4. One-Eared Mickey Mouse (having ym disconneded from the church)
5. Numbers driven youth ministry
6. Christian Ghetto (Bubble)
7. Defending Western Culture Values ( can I hear an .. amen ? )
8. Relational Youth Ministry

Note on # 8: What they were "warning" was doing so much one-on-one that there is no communal between individuals (connecting)

Youth Ministry in 2020 (Probably)

1. Programs to People (it is about people not programs)
2. Compartmentalized to Holistic
3. Shallow Spirituality to Deep Theology
4. Attractional to Missional Attractional
5. Centralized to Decentralized
6. Orthodoxy to Orthopraxy
7. Agenda Driven to Serving
8. Individual to Communial Individual
9. Separists to Collaborators
10. Church Building to Campus / Central (neutral ground)
11. Proclaiming to Guiding
12. Salvation to Way of Jesus
13. Surface to Broken Places

The Critical Concern was a great way to begin the convention. In the near future, I am going to try to break down the future of ym (13 points above) in a posting group. There are a few of them that I want / need to expound on for my own sake.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Interpreting Family Force 5

Here is a small (15 second clip) of Ang interpreting portion of the Family Force 5 concert. Family Force 5 brings high energy to the room and watch an interpretor doing the show is priceless. I absolutely love it.

One of my favorite songs that they do is eathquake. Here is another small segment of them and her interpreting that song (about 30 secs).

I would love to had more pics and videos but we left the media card at hom (doh) and only had the internal to work with.

NYWC: ReThinking Traditional YM Models

On Thursday morning, I woke up at 4 am and preparred to get myself ready for my departure. I had to stop by the church for a few things and I left the church around 4:45 in the morning. I got over to the airport and had an easy time getting parked, walking to security and getting to the gate.

A little after 7, I was in the plane and ready for departure. We had a ground delay. Why can't the delay happen in the airport instead of the plane ?? Anyways, we got up in the air and landed in Atl. I jumped on MARTA ( I love that travel ) and got checked in at the hotel. After checking into the hotel, I grabbed a Pittsburgh sandwich ( yummy ) and went off to my Critical Concern Class: ReThinking Traditional Youth Ministry Models

The class session was 5-hours long and was led by Mark Hesel and Brock Morgan. They did a good job in leading and facilitating the discussion. I think that if you had to summarize the 5 hour session in one sentence, it would be the following:

Culture has changed over the last 40 years but youth ministry has not changed.

Yes, I know that it is not "earth-shattering" and it was probably information that most people know but I think that it is vital to have that in-front of you as you begin to think about how we should do youth ministry.

Now, the greatest underlying message that was developed as the foundation was the following:

We, as youth ministry, need to make sure that we are not seperated from the life of the church.

I think that this is vital as we begin to shape and/or re-shape the youth ministry culture and the landscapes of our churches. The class time was really focused on us looking at the history of youth ministry and how it came about and what has led us to where we are.

Keywods in the context of YM

Late 60' to 80's: Decline & Disillusionment
1990's to Presnet: Restlessness and Searching for Answers

We then began to take a deep look at the teens in our culture and seeing what it means for us as a church as we see teens with the following mindest: Moralistic Therapuetic Deism.

I think that the most poweful concept to grasp was how the shift from who the influencers are in their lives and how we can "tap" into this to create ministry opportunities.

It seems like a contradiction (for students they are fine with the concept though) but the powerful force that we need to examine is the following:

Hyper-Individualistic and Communalistic

Maybe more on that later.

After 5 hours of class, I went and got a pizza and drink and waited for the exhibit hall to open. When it opened, I went in an saw the 350 booths. I have to tell you, I struggle with this ALOT.

We are SO CONSUMERISTIC !!!! I think it saddens God with where we put all of our money. I think we might be doing more "kingdome work" if we would place the money in other avenues. I am struggling in this area and I do not have it figured out.

I did stop by and chat with the YMX crew. I was not sure how that would go. I had not been there (to their site/forums) in 2 months. I enjoyed seeing / meeting them. I had met a few of them face-face before and for quite a few, it was the first time. It was nice to put a face to a screen name. Numerous people have asked if I was coming back. The answer is ....... I am not sure. I will make a post on that in the near future and it will be a response to Adam's post about being a "niche".

Monday, November 19, 2007

Back from NYWC

I am back from the National Youth Workers Convention. I decided to go to the one in Atlanta, this year.

The theme this year was STORYLINE; even though I am not sure why they "choose" a theme. To me, their theme is in name only. The reason for that is the general sessions and the seminars are not "based" on the theme. But, I do like the meaning behind the storyline concept.

I flew out on Thursday morning and I flew back in today. I have been in for about three hours. I have had the opportunity to read a few individuals blogs that were at the convention and decided to begin the process of blogging about the convention, my experience and thoughts about what occurred and happened.

Thus, over the next few days, before Thanksgiving hits, my posts will be centered around NYWC and labeled as such :)

Overall, I really enjoyed the conventions. I will blog about some of the general sessions, the seminars that I attended, the fellowship times that I had and individuals who I connected with.

From the start, I do have to admit it was great to see my friend Ang. She absolutely rocks and was a HUGE ASSET for our ministry at Discovery. One of her passions is interpreting for the deaf community. There were a few from the community who attended NYWC (which I think is GREAT). Anyhow, she had the opportunity to interpret for The Skit Guys and Family Force 5 among others. It is great to see her passion and love shine through as she does it. Here is a pic of her and FF 5 show:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

See You Next Week

Have a great rest of the week my friends. I will be back on Tuesday. On Tuesday, I will have several posts geared up and ready to go. The topics will be very diversed and I look forward to sharing them with you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Medical Bills & Our Life

Ten years ago, we entered the world of financial troubles. The financial troubles though were brought about because of the greatest blessings in our life - our children. Most of the financial burden came from our man - Isaiah.

In 1997, we moved from Atlanta, Georgia where we were trying to "plant a church" to New Cumberland, West Virginia. My wife was very sick, so we moved to my hometown. I was back in school and working ungodly hours for us to make ends meet. The job at insurance. However, it was a straight 90/10 insurance with no "ceiling" (no max benefit). Isaiah and Stacey had a struggle and our hospital bills soared over the $300,000 mark. Thus, we faced medical responsibilities of over $ 30,000. We, as a family, always believed in her staying at home with the kids.

Over the last 9 years, I made anywhere from $20,000 - $ 38,000. During those years, we had two more children. We had better insurance (deductables and max amount) and we did not have major complications thus our responsibility for those bills combined was about $ 5,000. Thus, by being very disciplined, we were able to pay of the $35,000 over the last 9 years. We do have some cc debt that is still out there from some charges while we were making ends meet (about $3,000).

In 2006, when we left Discovery, we had $ 0 in medical bills. We were very happy and I remeber smiling on the last day of writing that check to pay off the final bill. We were able to accomplish this through some wonderful people's help in Alabama who eased some of our "rent burden". On a small note, please lift them (Discovery) up in your prayers. They have hit a few bumps but they are a GREAT church at heart and have a wonderful vision/mission/heart and I loved being with them.

Well, as some of you know, the past 6 months have been very rough for Stacey. She had to have numerous surgeries and the medical bills piled on. They piled on a lot more than we ever expected and planned. The reason: We thought we were going to have better coverage than we did. If we knew what type of coverage we was going to have in Indiana; we would have never left Alabama.

It has been a little dreading going to the mailbox beause the hospitals have turned us into the credit agencies. I have been placing the bills / letters into a file. In a sense, hoping they would go away. I know that is not the case. Today, I started to make the contacts with the hospitals and credit agencies. It was not much good news at all.

The credit agencies are wanting us to pay WAY too much money a month. The amount they want me to pay is 2x greater than my monthly rent. They referred me to a medical loan company. The company rold me to send them all the bills. They told me to do this as a formality because they will need to decline my request so I can show it to the credit agency. They can not and will not give us a loan because our loan amount is way more than we could pay back and we so not own a house so they can not secure the loan on that. So, what is the final damage ????

Because we did not have insurance ( well, we had insurance - technically - but the hospital considers we do not - because the insurance company paid less than 10% of the bill ), we owe $29,111.89

I am now trying to coordinate with 14 different hospitals and collection agencies. This is an absolute nightmare. We finally moved out of the financial tunnel after 9 years of hard work. Now, we are back to the beginning.


On the bright side ...... we now have a position that has fantastic insurance. We are now in part of the country that has phenominal medical centers. We are in a place (a church) that loves us, cares for us, respects us and is truly partners in ministry. I am sooooooo lucky and blessed to be part of a PHENOMINAL CHURCH.

My prayer is the following: God, I know that we can do this again (get out of financial mess, that is not fair); however please help me have wisdom in my words as I talk to the doctors, hospitals and credit agencies. May they allow us to set up a reasonable timetable. We are going to have to give up "stuff" to make this work; allow us to accomplish that. I also pray that fellow individuals out there will not have to have the same burden that we have because, it is just not right.

So, what do we do ???

I have no clue. I am glad that in 30 hours, I am headed on a plane to have 5 days of training, worship and rest. I will have time to rest my soul in a labryth. I will have the op to talk to some people that can offer advice. When I return, we will develop a plan and stick to it.

If this is too raw for some, I apologize. I know that is is extremely risky for me to place out here since I am not "anonymous". But, I try to real and honest and this is me.

New York City & Wordpress

Hey there. I hope that everything is going well for everyone today. Today has been a very good day. the morning started with me doing some reading on some family ministry studies (very interesting) and then we had staff meeting. After staff meeting, I went up to the free clinic and did some filing. I just got back to the office and a package has come to me. It is from The reThink Group. I am looking forward to reading some of the magazine after Discovery Class tonight ( who we are study at church ) and then watching the videos tomorrow.

So, why the heading ?????

Two reasons.

One, I want to give a shout out to NYC.

I have only been to NYC once and that was mostly spent in Queens. But NYC (outside of the town that I live in) has the most views to my blog. Thus, I wanted to wave to them and give them a shout out.

The second is that I have been hearing "wordpress" everywhere I look. I am not too tech savy in certain areas. There are a few things that I can do. But I am not sure what I am missing at WordPress and I am not sure how to do a few things over there. Maybe, I need to spend some time over there and check into it. Maybe, I need some help from readers out there to help / instruct me. I set up a site, transfered some items over there so I can see what it would look like .. but I am dumbfounded ...

Jeff at WP

I am not posting there yet. I just imported things there. Anyone wanna help explain why I should / need to jump on this bandwagon and help me see the features that I can add there that I can not here. I am not fancy here ... obviously.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Balancing Youth Group Events

Tim did a post on the following: 100 blog topics I hope YOU write. He put the challenge out there quite awhile ago and some have been written. If you want to see the topics and the articles ... click here.

I am going to attempt to answer number 27. The reason for attempt is that I am struggling with the question. I think it MIGHT be the wrong question. With that being said, here it is:

How to balance youth group events with athletics, homework and jobs ?

The simple answer for me is three-fold.

One, set a schedule and stick to it and communicate that you DO NOT have to attend everything. I know that a lot of individuals do not like that because they scream: WHERE IS THE COMMITMENT !! But, if we let individuals knows when we are having the event and they can count on it; they will know where to be "if they want to come".

Two, do not fill the calendar for the sake of filling the calendar. We, as youth groups, get to busy filling the calendar for the sake of filling the calendar and we drive this crazy train for competing for time / energy of families that are already zapped and maxed out and they do not need the church "pressurring them" and making them feel quilty. I understand when people first read this and scream "WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS"

Thirdly, incorporate ministry into where their lives are at. This is very difficult to do for individuals that like nice clean scorecards where they can say, "we had 120 youth at youth last night". Believe me, I was there with the counting, numbers and the come to us mentality. We really need to see where they are in create ministry for them in those places. This will do a couple of things:

1. Free up time (for the student/parent)
2. Take the "guilt off of them"
3. Influence the Community more
4. Places the focus on the Kingdom of God over the individual church
5. Maybe, just maybe, begin to place the spiritual guidance back to the parents.

How does this look ???

1. We have students sharing their lives with individuals who they are in contact with - being real and being accountable. We realize that having students "out in the world" in school, extra-curricular activities, jobs and "you make the list" places them in direct contact with more people than would ever come to the "church".

2. We go to where they are out and make it ministry. We share life with them. We are at their events, celebrate the accomplishments, mourn in the disappointments and create ministry time before/after events.

On Monday night when the girl soccer team is playing. Encourage the parents/players to eat at a local restaurant before the game or go out to the local coffeeshop afterwards. They share what is going on in their lives and we have the opportunity to share along side of them. It is part of their "routine". you pick the scenario in your community, church and context ... Dream about the possibilities.

3. Use Technology. We have the capability to reach students and have teaching opportunities for them in ways that we have not had before. We can "instruct" without them being where we are at. Use the technology format that works for you to connect the students to teaching and have ops for them to discuss without them being there "live".

4. Develop a life plan for each family. See what the family wants their destination to be and help them create that to happen. Each family is different. Just as each individual who goes to the gym and meets with the trainer as a different "plan"; maybe we need to do the same with the families we are in contact with.

I believe these are a few steps that we can take to help balance youth group with everything that is going on in their lives. I think that we often look at the "negative" aspect when we can be and should be focusing on the positive side.

I understand why the question is asked: How do we balance youth group events with athletics, homework and jobs ? But, I think that it might be the wrong question and we need to work with the church leadership team, volunteers, parents and students and begin to ask new and different questions.

What might be the new / tough question for this one ?

For me, maybe it is the following:

How do we, as churches, impower families to be Christ in every aspect of their lives (where they are at) ?

If we do this, I believe we will see a greater impact on the Kingdom of God than trying to develop a scheme/time that will create more ops for students to be at our youth events.

I doubt if this is what Tim was looking for or the hundreds of readers that read Tim. This is just where I am at and part of my struggle on the role of the church and what we are / have been trying to accomplish.

I struggle.