Thursday, December 27, 2007

Best of 2007: YMX Nominations

1. Best youth ministry book (copyrighted 2007)
getting students to show up by Jonathan McKee
Speaking to Teenagers by Duffy Robbins & Doug Fields
Youth Culture 101 by Walt Mueller

2. Best innovation (new thing.. chubby bunny need not apply, lifetime achievement there)
taco-in-a-bag (its new to me). Its been a great food idea for big or smaller events. We've also done variations on it - taco in a trash can, taco in a bowl.

3. Best worship song for use in youth ministry (copyright 2006 or 2007)
everything glorious by David Crowder*Band

4. Best Christian artist for youth ministry [who your students like the most; not limited to Christian labels or "CCM genre"]

Relient K
Aaron Shust

Discussion Starter?: Reserve a Spot in

As a Christian (not to mention a youth minister) I know that there is only one way to get to Heaven: through Jesus Christ. See Jn. 14.6

But there is a website offering another way, its called And for the right price ($13 for basic & $16 for VIP), you can reserve a spot in heaven for yourself or a loved one (they even have group discounts).

The VIP package description:
This exclusive package contains all necessary materials to get you into Heaven and experience all of the elite areas that are normally off-limits to normal citizens. If you want the entire Heaven experience then this is your package.

Heavenly issued certificate of reservation registered in the Book of Light™
A First class ticket to Heaven. Why walk those stairs when you can fly?
The Official Heaven Identification Card so you can get around without getting hassled.
Heaven 101 mini informational guide. Don’t be a victim of culture shock. Get acquainted with the land..
All access VIP pass. This pass will grant you access to “VIP exclusive areas” including the Land of Milk and Honey, where all the elite get together and kick it.
(basic package contains everything except VIP pass)

Use to start discussion on what it takes to get to heaven, salvation, can you buy your way to heaven?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Commitment & Love

All around the world, yesterday was Christmas. At my grandparent's house it was more. It was their 65th wedding anniversary. WOW! 65 years. I remember going to their 50th anniversary party when I was 14 (okay, so its not the clearest memories, but I do remember it).

As a youth minister, I am exposed to all sorts of family structures. I do not know the percentages, but it seems like a lot more of the students come from a broken family. Even some of the families I've known over the years are not separated or divorced. It seems like to some, staying married is not as strong of a desire as it was a few generations ago. Sometimes I get discouraged when I see all of the pain and brokenness that broken families can produce.

I have see some great people come from broken families, but I always wonder what could have been for the others (who do not adjust as well). Yesterday I was reminded that it is possible to stay married for the long haul.

So, there I was with an example of commitment and love standing in front of me. They have been in front of me for years, and each year the example grows stronger and stronger. You should just hear them talk about each other or reminisce about their wedding or just talk about their memories of the other - it is an honor to be a part of it all. Honestly, I do not remember anything but my grandparents being together and living in the same house they live in today. The impact is not new, I've always told people I wanted to grow up to be like my grandparents. I admire them in so many ways - not the least of which is their longevity in marriage. I pray Amy and I have a good 60 years (and more) of life together ahead of us.

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Gen. 2.24

New Poll: Are you having a New Year Overnighter?

Simple Question: Are you having a new year overnighter?


I'm just curious if any of you are having some sort of overnighter for New Year's Eve. If there is anything unique or "cool" about it, please share in the comments.

Poll Results: Do you regift?

The votes are in. The gifts have been opened and some of them are already in the "regifting" pile in the closet. According to our poll...

66% (4 people) of you regift every year
16% (1 person) of you will not regift
16% (1 person) of you wonder why you would give away something that someone else gave to you.
2% of you were lost in the percentages.

Next time you regift make sure you are not giving someone back something they gave you!

Trivia Wednesday #49

answer #48 - "Bah Christmas"

question #49 - How many Gospels contain the nativity story? (bonus if you can name them)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

May the gift of Jesus Christ be more than enough.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Jesus & Insecurity

Hebrews 4.15 tells us the Jesus understands our weaknesses, that He's experienced all of our temptations - yet He did not sin.

I have had a tendency, at various times in my life, to struggle with the feeling of insecurity. I was wondering, did Jesus struggle with insecurity? Did He ever feel insecure about something He did or said or what others were saying about Him?

I want to say "no." But I can't dismiss it that quickly.

What do you think... Did Jesus struggle with insecurity? If He did, how did He deal with it?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Photo Friday: 1/2 Snow Covered

The other day, by the time I got out to clean off the car, it was already half gone. I love it when the sun gets rid of the snow for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jesus Ashtray

Saw this picture on Gman's site tonight. All I can say is "wow, someone really made that?"

(gracias a Gerrard for the laugh)

study says teens delay sex when taught sex education

I just saw an article that says new research claims sex education helps teens delay sex.

The good news - Teens delaying sex.
The bad news - Teens delaying sex.

One thing about the study mentioned in the article that stands out was this statement:

The researchers did not evaluate the content of sex education programs, including whether students were taught about contraception or about abstinence only.

Another study to look at as a youth worker.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Trivia Wednesday #48

answer #47 - Batman & Robin

question #48 - Originally "Bah Humbug" was going to be "Bah _____" what?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Youth Worker Strike?

I was thinking this morning about the writer's strike. It is greatly affecting the television season and is going to start affecting the movies.

Do you really think that writers are not writing? I tend to think they are still writing something. It may not be a specific script for a specific show. But I bet they are writing scripts of some sort. That is, unless they are not passionate about writing or don't enjoy their job.

I think that most youth workers would have a hard time not working with youth. Even though I'm not a guru at this job, I still love working with youth. I'm constantly learning more about what that means on a daily basis. But I can tell you I would never be able to not be a youth worker if the youth worker union went on strike.

I would find ways to sneak around and minister to teens. I would learn to call it something else.

I think if a youth worker would be fine going on strike there is a problem. It should be a passion, a desire (a fire in your bones), a driving force.

Would you be able to ever be on strike?

Photo Friday: Fire

Do you have a fire inside of you?

Jer. 20.7-13 (esp. v.9)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If only every good book affected us like this...

I just saw this picture over on Tim's blog. I don't know where he got it, but I'd like to share it with ya'll.

(if you have problems reading the book title, click on the link and look at it over on Tim's page.)

Trivia Wednesday #47

answer #46 - False

question #47 - Which comic book character and friend had a successful prime time TV series in the 1960's?

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Poll: Do You Regift

So, with Christmas right around the corner I have wondered how many of you regift. So this new poll asks that very question.

Do you regift?
yes, just once though
yes, every year
what is regifting?
why would you want to give away something someone else gave to you?
I will now.

Please share the best/worst gift you have ever regifted. Or the best/worst gift you've been given (that you know was regifted).

Poll Results: Which white item would you rather have

According to our poll ...

33% of you (2 people) want a white squirrel
50% of you (3 people) want a white chocolate candy bar
16% of you (1 person) wants a white head of hair

and no one wants..
a white Christmas
a white jumpsuit
a white wall tire

I hope you get what you wanted.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Restickable Glue Stick

How would/could you use this in ministry?

Restickable Glue Stick

* For most papers, fabrics and photos
* Cap size meets regulations to reduce choking hazards in children under 3 years, as defined by the U.S. Consumer Product Safe Commission
* Restickable formulation allows any piece of paper to self-stick, then remove for repositioning
* Dries clear and is non-toxic*
* Adhesive is acid-free, photo safe

-hang notes around the office
-hang promotional posters/flyers
-hang event signs
-hang set lists
-hang memory verses
-use to put covers on binders/folders
-hang notes to your spouse/children
-hang pictures of who is the teacher in a children's class
-put your sermon notes in your Bible
-glue someone else's book pages together

any others? anyone use this restickable gluestick before?

Discussion Starter: cheap gas - what would you do?

33 cents for a gallon of gas? According to this article, it was at one gas station thanks to a mistake.

So, the question (after hearing that story) is what would you do?

Would you have filled up your car?
Would you have then gone back home and picked up the other car to fill it up, too? Would you have called a few friends to tell them?
Would you have felt guilty and drove off?
Would you have called the police to let them know?

How do you think the employee felt afterward?

Use this story to start discussion on: forgiveness, stealing, right v. wrong, mistakes, taking advantage of someone, honesty, being taking advantage of

Friday, December 07, 2007

DSL has arrived on my office computer

Yesterday, it happened. I now have DSL hooked up on my computer at work. It has been a long wait to get it hooked up for me. It didn't have to be this long, though. All it took was going to get a Compact Wireless-G: USB Network Adapter.

Yeah, it was much easier than the amount of time it took to get it done. :)

One more office to get "wired" up and the whole office will be set.

to quote someone else: Seth Godin (longevity)

"Most people are waiting for the tested, the authenticated, and the proven."
taken from The Dip by Seth Godin

Sounds like a good reason to have longevity as a youth minister. And not just longevity in ministry, but longevity at a specific congregation. People don't really want a flash/bang youth minister. They want to know you'll be around for a long time.

It takes time to be tested.
It takes time to be authenticated.
It takes time to be proven.

Are you in ministry for the long haul? Are you determined to have longevity at your current ministry location? You have to be willing to be there during the good and the bad - even when it gets really difficult.

If you are willing to be there for the long haul, you will see the benefits.

Photo Friday: Sunset

Sunset: a beautiful reminder of God's creation.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Prince Caspian: New Trailer

Here is the first trailer for the next installment in the Chronicles of Narnia series: Prince Caspian. It will be in theaters May 16, 2008.

Trivia Wednesday #46

answers #45 - The Messiah

question #46 - True or false? Most of the world's penguins live at the North Pole.

American Gladiators: They are back!

It looks like American Gladiator is back. On one side, I think its pretty cool. I remember quite a few afternoons watching the original (see videos below) with my brother. But on the other side, its never gonna be as good as I remember it. Anyway, I figure it'll come up sooner or later with the students you work with. So you should at least be aware its coming back.

Here are two clips from the original...

The new official American Gladiator website.

New promo video on

Monday, December 03, 2007

Good Idea, Bad Idea: mailing notes

Good Idea:
Connecting with students by sending notes and cards. You can send them for birthdays, to say hello, to let them know you're praying for them, inform them of upcoming events. No matter what the occasion, notes are a good way to communicate and stay connected. You can find cheap ones at the bookstore (8 little notecards for $.99), so they won't break your budget either.

Bad Idea:
Only putting a 26 cent postcard stamp on them. They will not get delivered.

lesson: pay more attention to which stamps you pick up when sending mail out. Or just be willing to face the "embarrassment" of having a stamp and the "post office" stamp on the same envelope showing you messed up.

Strong Tower

The song, Strong Tower by Kutless, really stood out to me the other day as I was driving in my car.

When I wonder through the desert
And I’m longing for my home
All my dreams have gone astray.
When I’m stranded in the valley
And I’m tired and all alone
It seems like I’ve lost my way

I go running to your mountain.
Where your mercy sets me free

You are my strong tower
Shelter over me, beautiful and mighty, everlasting king
You are my strong tower
Fortress when I’m week
Your name is true and holy
And your face all I see
Your face is all I see

In the middle of my darkness
In the midst of all my fear
You’re my refuge and my hope
When the storm of life is raging
And the thunders all I hear
You speak softly to my soul
Now I’m running to your mountain
Where your mercy sets me free.

Where do you run when things are going bad?
Where do you run when your hurt?
To whom do you run when life's storms crash in on you?

Ps 46.7 says "The LORD almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

Do you run to God? He is the best place to go - always comforting and safe.

When your ministry becomes difficult...
When things just do not seem to work...
When people say mean things to you...
When people say mean things about you...
When you mess up and need to apologize...
When others hurt you...
When you feel all alone... to the strong tower. to God.

Friday, November 30, 2007

put a book back on the shelf today - partially read

Recently I posted on the topic of saving time. One way was to stop reading a book if it wasn't great or you got tired of it/stopped getting anything out of it. Well, today I did just that.

I decided to stop reading the book Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant. It is a conversation between Preston Jones, a assistant professor at John Brown U and Greg Graffin, frontman for Bad Religion.

Though it is definately not a bad book, I do not need to try to read it right now. Maybe I'll pick it back up later.

Any books you've stopped lately?

Nehemiah's wall found

A wall mentioned in the Bible's Book of Nehemiah and long sought by archaeologists apparently has been found, an Israeli archaeologist says.
I just saw this story over at PlanetWisdom.

They have found archeological evidence of the wall Nehemiah lead the rebuilding of. Here is the story, from the AP.

Its a nice support to what we believe, as found in the book of Nehemiah. Another instance of archeology supporting the Bible.

Photo Friday: View from the Cue Ball

This is a picture I took at my grandparents' house.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The white squirrel

Since I put the white squirrel as an option on the latest poll, and since I haven't posted anything about them yet, here is a quick peek at the greatness that is "the white squirrel."

There are 5 towns that use the white squirrel as their "claim to fame." Olney, IL; Marionville, MO; Kenton, TN; Brevard, NC; Exeter, ON

Before moving to southern IL, I had never heard of the white squirrel. Once here, I assumed that Olney was the only place, but I stand corrected. To find more about these five towns and the white squirrel events, go to Roadside America's page on white squirrels. My favorite line is this...

Laws on the Olney books give the squirrels right-of-way on every street; residents are fined if they try leave town with one.

But wait, there's more - lots more. If you would like to have some art depicting the white squirrel, then whitesquirrelart is your destination, from the fine folks in Brevard, NC. They have White Squirrel Note Cards, Christmas Cards, Postcards, Photo Gift Book, and DVD's. (Now you can get all that Christmas shopping done in one place)

But where did the white squirrels come from? A few theories (at least from Olney, IL) can be found here.

Now you know a little more about a white squirrel, would it be the "white" item you want for Christmas?

Before you go, you have to check out this video done for the city of Exeter, ON:

Practicing Passion by Kenda Creasy Dean

Youth are looking for something to challenge them.

Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church by Kenda Creasy Dean

Practicing Passion had me thinking from the first page to after I finished the last page. Why would a 260 page book stir my thinking so much? Because I believe there are a lot of us in ministry who would like to think we are a part of a passionate congregation. We want to be involved with a passionate body of believers. To an extent, I would say we are a part of a passionate congregation. The question, though, is what are we passionate about and what does it show to the youth?

Students are full of passion; both good and bad. This inner passion draws them to search for something more; something deeper than anything surface-level and empty. As Dean says, “Adolescents do not want to suffer, but they do desperately want to love something worthy of suffering, and to be so loved.” And talking about the absence of passion from the church, Dean says this, “Without passion, Christian faith collapses. And young people know it – which may be why most of them are not spending time in church.”

Practicing passion is not about another program or class. It is about a lifestyle, an attitude and a response to what Jesus did and continues to do.

In a chapter on the longing for communion, Dean makes this statement about intimacy, “Intimacy represents the deeply spiritual search for another who knows what it is like to be ‘me.’” This is why young people are drawn to Jesus Christ, He understands what is it like to be them. This is also why teenagers are not drawn to some Christians or churches. They do not feel like they are understood.

One other downfall of many youth ministries is a failure to challenge the youth to something deeper and greater than themselves. “Failing to invite these youth into deeper theological water only convinces them that, because they are too big for the baby pool, they have ‘outgrown’ the church.” Thankfully, Dean spends many pages sharing ideas and practices to help get your students out of the baby pool.

Why should you read Practicing Passion? Because when a youth ministry is made up of people of Passion, people who live their life for Jesus and then ask the students to do the same, there is change. This type of youth ministry will transform young people, and it will transform the church.

My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (4 out of 5)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Discussion Starter: Dishonest man tries to deposit $1M Bill

I just posted about an honest man who didn't try to cash a rather large misprinted check. Now this, a story of a man who actually tried to cash a bill the federal gov't has never even printed. Next thing you know, someone will try to cash a Trillion Dollar Bill :)

What is even sadder, for me, is that it took place where we used to live. I thought most people in Augusta were smarter than this. Apparently all but one of them are.

Use to start discussion on: honesty, cheating, stealing, finances, ways not to put money in the bank

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

One of many (we can bet) "movie spinoffs" from the X-Men Trilogy is going to be Wolverine. I think I heard Jackman is going to be Wolverine. Who else could play that role now?

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is set to release on May 1, 2009. Set your Outlook or Google calendars.

Trivia Wednesday #45

answer #44 - Beyond the Poseidon Adventure

question #45 - What is the term for the promised deliverer of the Hebrews?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Discussion Starter: Honest Man Returns Mistaken $2M Check

Honest Man Returns Mistaken $2M Check

That is the headline of a story out of Salt Lake city. Really, though, what other kind of man would return a check for that much money?

Think about this excerpt from the article tomorrow when you open your mail:

Expecting a $15 refund from the Utah Department of Commerce, the Draper man opened his mail recently to find a $2,245,342 check.

Would it have been a temptation to cash the check? It is really unfortunate that honesty is not common anymore. There are probably too many people who would have cashed it and not thought twice.

Use this story to start discussion on: honesty, mistakes, wise choices, money

Jr. Highers say the funniest things

A very jr. high fashion to start a small group discussion:

Me: What is the earliest memory you have?

Girl #1: What do you mean earliest? Like today or when I was a kid?

Girl #2: I don't understand what you mean by earliest.

Me: (start to laugh and put my face in my hands)

Girl #1: Do you mean since we started this small group? I had cereal when we got here today, is that what you mean?

Girl #3: No, that is not what he is talking about.

Girl #1: Do you mean when I was a baby? I have watched video of me as a baby, is that what you want?

Girl #4: I don't understand what you are asking.

Girl #1: What do you mean 'earliest'?

Girl #3: He means what is one of the first things you remember.

Girl #1: Today?

Me: What is one of the first things you can remember? What is one of your earliest memories from childhood? This is not based on something you have seen on video, but something you remember without the aid of technology or storytelling by a family member.

Girls #1,2,4: I still don't get it.

My wife summed up the greatness of this conversation from another room by adding this; "I wish I could videotape this and show it to you in two years." The changes over the next few years will be great and seem extreme. Right now, the conversation was real, honest and hilarious (to me and others in the room). In a few years, the conversation will be real, honest and embarrassing for the students. They'll say they were never that immature.

One of the girls also felt the need to explain to me that her grandma is her mom's mom. It was funny, but makes sense because she was comparing that to her dad's mom.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sweep the Leg - by No More Kings

I heard this while listening to a Relevant Podcast. Brings back some great movie memories. You can watch it here or go check out RelevantTV for this and other great videos.

New poll: which "white" item would you rather have?

The other day, I got to thinking. That thought turned into this new poll. If you had to choose, which "white" item would you want (for Christmas, to make it seasonal)...

Your chooses are:
a white Christmas
a white squirrel
a white chocolate candy bar
a white jumpsuit
a white head of hair
a white-wall tire

For me, its a toss-up. I really like white chocolate, but the tire would be pretty cool, too.

To defend your choose or to persuade others to your side, leave a comment.

Unexpected Encouragement

I was given some unexpected encouragement by a parent the other day. We were at an event and a parent told me he needed to talk to me. I didn't know exactly what to expect next, as the conversation could have went many directions. Instead of anything negative, I was given a little encouragement.

This parent told me that there has been a change in his children, a good change. They like the environments we have created for their ages and enjoy coming to various events and classes. These were encouraging words to me. A lift to my spirit amid some otherwise negative moments as of late. This parent went on to say that beyond the "programs" we have for his kids, they really like me. His children like being in my class and like hanging out with me.

That statement was like fresh water to a half empty well of encouragement. I'm not trying to say I want to or need to be "liked" by every student that comes through the doors (though that would be pretty great wouldn't it?), but making a connection with them is the goal.

He wanted to let me know I was making an impact. I was positively affecting his children.

May you be reminded today that you are making a difference. Your ministry is impacting those you minister to. God is using you to change lives, don't ever forget that.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Photo Friday: eye of jove

I don't know exactly what the "eye of jove" is or does. But the picture looked interesting to me. Its looks like a sci-fi planet that can see you coming. (Though I don't know what a planet could do to get ready for your arrival)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving blog world, if that is your real name.

Poll Results: How many things are you thankful for

In 1 minute how many things can you think of to be thankful for...

20% (1 person) can think of 11-20 things
60% (3 people) can think of 21-40 things
20% (1 person) can think of more than 40 things

Today, try to think of all the things you are thankful for. May you find a few more reasons to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Trivia Wednesday #44

answer #43 - Bruce

questions #44 - Name the sequel to the film The Poseidon Adventure.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sesame Street DVD comes with a warning label

I saw this story over at ChurchRelevance today and just about shook my head off. Are they serious? Really? Our society sure has changed when a show like Sesame Street is not suitable for young children.

Why are they not suitable for young children? Because...

Well, in the parody 'Monsterpiece Theater,' Alistair Cookie — played by Cookie Monster — used to appear with a pipe, which he later gobbled. 'That modeled the wrong behavior,' explained a Sesame Street executive producer, adding that 'we might not be able to create a character like Oscar [the Grouch] now.'"
If only MTV and other channels would feel this way about their current programming.

Culture has changed. The students we work with grew up in a different world than we did. The students we will work with over the next X years have grown up in a different world, too.

How are you changing the way you minister to them? Or are you?

Excuse me, I feel an urge to go gobble up a pipe and be extra grouchy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

to finish or not to finish...

Have you ever wanted to put a book down and stop reading it because it just wasn't that good? Have you ever felt guilty for doing such a thing? I have.

Have no fear, Michael Hyatt - President & CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers writes about doing just that. In a post on shaving 10 hours from your work week, he mentions stopping a bad book at the point you are no longer interested in it.

He offers other ideas for shaving work time, go take a look for yourself. Personally, I've noticed a huge difference once I started spending less time online. (one of his tips to saving time in your work week)

I've also tried to start being more organized with my workday. Things like, when I do what task and how long I will give myself to complete it. Trying to only do writing during certain times of the day, planning during other times of the day, etc... This structure has also helped me stay more focused and on task - thus accomplishing more in the office and allowing for more time out of the office with students and parents.

What do you do in order to be more efficient and effective in the office?

(gracias a Tony)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Photo Friday: 40" pizza

This is a 40" pizza from the Pizza Machine. I know the lighting isn't the best, but you get the idea.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

ICTC Highlights

Highlights from ICTC ‘07

1.Relient K sings a song about The Office – awesome

2.Jon Foreman (Switchfoot) sings in the crowd. Then later does an acoustic set in the hotel lobby

3.During the first message, Jayson is talking about games we play to pass the time during a sermon; games like the dot game or counting ceiling tiles. While he is talking about these games, one of the “orange coat security” volunteers is looking at a yearbook and not paying attention at all.
4.Put a “honk for Jesus” sign in the van and counted the cars that honked. Its all fun until I (the driver) forget that there is the sign and start wondering why everyone is honking at me.
5.Jayson holds back on something he wants to say. Appreciated the self-restraint and willingness to not just “shock” the audience.
6.The Pizza Machine

7.“Whatever we begin to tolerate, we begin to accept.”
8.Invisible Children – what a chance to help others.
9.The group we took desired to do something and not just stop at “that is so sad, somebody should help them.” Not only did they support IC by buying some bracelets, but they have now started a Schools for Schools program at the local high school. Awesome!
10.Getting to hang out with students.

free from demons

In our small group discussion this week, we were looking at the chapter on Mary Magdalene (from Losers Club). The main question for the chapter is, can God use me after all I've been through?.

I asked the jr. highers to describe, in one word, how it might have felt for Mary to be free from the demons. Here are a few of their responses:

Not a bad list. No matter what the "demon" is we are facing (greed, lust, pride, anger, hatred, pressures...) once we are free from their grasp there is a peace that we feel.

What has a hold of you? What is keeping you from feeling refreshed? What is keeping you from feeling loved?

What do you need to do to be freed from the chains?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Youth Trip Truth #1

"If you send it, they will spend it"
I've been on many trips where at least one student doesn't have enough money for the last meal because they spent it all on other stuff. Sometimes that stuff is snacks or a t-shirt. But I now just remind parents that if they send $40 with their child, their child will spend $40.

There was this one trip, where the student was doing really well at not spending too much money. Then on the last day, he lost a $20 and had no more money. It was sad. A few of his friends helped him out with dinner, but I don't think he ever found the money.

Do you have a good (bad) story about a student spending all of their money days before the trip was over?

Trivia Wednesday #43

answer #42 - Third (5-4-3)

question #43 - What was the name of the mechanical shark used in the 1975 hit movie Jaws?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Photo Friday: NYWC Storyline

Here is a picture of the main stage from NYWC last week in St. Louis. I love the four screens.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Heading to ICTC

ICTC (IL Christian Teen Convention) is this weekend. We are leaving tomorrow (Friday) at 12:15 from the church. No one should be late because they don't have any school. We get back late on Saturday, around 9pm or so.

I'm excited about the trip and the convention. There is a great group of students going with us.

The theme is "Remixing Religion" taken from James 1.27

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Trivia Wednesday #42

answer #41 - Wayne Rice and Mike Yaconelli in 1969

question #42 - An "around the horn" double play in baseball begins at which base? Bonus points if you know how it would be scored.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

NYWC: St Louis Day 7

The last day and a 1/2 was pretty full; therefore, I didn't get to post any updates. So, this will serve as a post on what the last 2 days of conference were like. (for some, this would be 1/2 of their convention).

Mark Riddle,
guy from Nova Scotia - who got a call from his wife while I was talking to him telling him that their power was back on,
Had dinner with Tim & Dana Schmoyer

Pretty much stayed inside the convention center all the time :)

It was tough to know it was ending and that the "real" world would be awaiting. But in the end, it has been a long week and I was really ready to get back to see my family.

I'll post more later - you know final thoughts, what I'll take away, what I'll miss (stuff like that)

and I'll try to get some pictures up, too

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Me, My Family & DST

Today is day 6 to be gone from home...

I really miss my family!!

Its been a long week, good - but long, and I'm really starting to miss my wife and boys (and when I say start, I mean intensified). This trip has been a lot tougher being away from home. I will be so glad to be back home Monday night (before I leave on Friday for an overnight event).

Okay, now for the "fun" part of my morning...

Last night, my roomie and I tried to change our hotel alarm clock. Had some trouble and the front desk said it was going to change on its own. So we set the alarm and left it alone. This morning the alarm went off and I turned it off. Then when I woke back up it was 15 minutes til I had to be in the store. So I did the smart thing, I checked my roommate's cell phone to make sure the time was correct. I was late, it said. So I rushed to the convention center. The scrolling banner on front said the same time. I continued to rush. I got into the convention center and made my way to the store, only to find no one. At this point I checked my cell phone. Instead of being 10 minutes late, I was 50 minutes early. :)

So I went back to the hotel and had breakfast. Only I could be potentially late on DST, where you get an extra hour of sleep.

But the first general session is going on and its very peaceful with Jeff Johnson leading.

(and to top it all off, I haven't gotten to watch The Office yet this week)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

NYWC: St Louis Day 5

Today was a long day at the convention. I got to have a lot of great conversations with people in the bookstore. I got to take a short nap during the general session (always a nice treat). Here are some "highlights"

1. Lynne Hybels read her new book - which was a powerful story. I talked to many women who were really touched by her message.
2. Spoke to a lady who is working with the jr. highers and is trying to train other adults who want to help, but don't have the training. She was really excited about what they are doing.
3. Talked with a guy doing outreach ministry with students. They have more visitors each week and he was looking for some curriculum to use. He said the students are staring to bring their siblings to the church, too.
4. Talked with one guy who was telling me about an adult class he teaches where they are really becoming a great group. One of the adults bought an mp3 player and the Bible on mp3 so that one lady, who can't read, could hear the Bible. Very encouraging.
5. semiquote from Doug's message tonight..."envy forces you to create an enemy out of someone who shouldn't be your enemy." Being envious is not good, don't do it :)

More tommorrow, this sure is getting good.

Friday, November 02, 2007

NYWC: St Louis Day 4

(quick updates, its late...)

Now, we're cooking. Two general sessions are done and a lot of seminars have been taught. The convention is in full swing now.

I've run into some old friends from college, some more cool youth workers (one guy who has been in youth ministry for 25 years, that's where i want to be). I ran into Tim and Dana, too.

For me, today was about one recurring theme...

Trust God.

I was shown this theme in multiple places throughout the day.
-In the Labyrinth.
-In the story of woman with bleeding, from the Gospels.
-In Duffy's message.

(I'll post more on this later)

Have you trusted God in your ministry? Are you trusting God in your personal life? Am I? Will I tomorrow? What does it mean to trust God?

Photo Friday: Changing a Flat Tire

The other day Nathan wanted to help me change a flat tire. I had to take the tire off (it had gone flat while sitting in the driveway) and take it to the tire shop to get fixed. So Nathan helped me jack the car up. It was really nice to get to show him how to use the jack and have him want to help me.

NYWC: St Louis Day 3.1

This morning, we prayed for everyone coming and all the different areas.

Had a couple good conversations with youthworkers last night. Talked to one lady who just started her position and is trying to change the mindset of her teens. She has some great ideas and passion. I pray she has the patience to make the changes and trust God.

Talked to another guy who just hired an associate to help with his growing group. He said he was tired and "spent", but is excited about the ability to share responsibilities. It is exciting to hear him talk about being where he is at and hearing the places he has come from over the last few years. To hear how God has blessed his ministry and the youth is a great reminder of God's care for each one of us.

Another youth worker is starting as the interim youth pastor at his church. He doesn't know how long he will be in the position, but even when he is done he'll still be in the church and connected with the teens.

Three youth workers. Three lives. Three stories. All connected together in God's story.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NYWC: St Louis Day 2.5

Youth workers have started to show up, mostly for the Critical Concerns. Tonight is the big madness sale in the store and the exhibit hall reception.

I've ran into a few people I didn't know were coming and a few people I didn't know before today (and have already forgotten their names:)) Plus I got to meet William Hartz in person.

Gotta get back to work. More updating tonight.

(I've got some pictures, but will probably post them after I get back home - it'll give you something to look forward to)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NYWC: St Louis Day 2

Everything is ready for all 3700 youth workers to show up. Well most everything. The store is ready, the stage is looking really good. The exhibit hall is still a little empty, but its ready for some great companies to show up and connect with youth workers. The labyrinth and prayer chapel are looking good. And for those with kids - the kids room is set up (I wouldn't mind spending some time in there myself :))

Another great day of getting to know the other volunteers a little bit better. Man, God is doing some great stuff in people's lives. And at the same time, there is a lot of pain and hurt that needs to be worked through.

Had some good Mexican for dinner (Downtown Cantina - I think), I would recommend it.

I'm ready for people to start showing up tomorrow. Even though the last two days have been amazing, I know the next five are going to be beyond amazing.

Trivia Wednesday #41

answer #40 - none

question #41 - Who founded Youth Specialties? In what year?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NYWC: St Louis Day 1

What a day!

We got the store set up most of the way today. The stage area got started, it'll be fun to watch it go up tomorrow.

Today was a great to start getting to know the other volunteers and catch up with the ones from previous years. I have already been able to have some great conversations about where God is working and what He is showing people. It's already been a great convention and it hasn't even started yet! :) (that is why I love this convention)

Those who are planning on coming later this week - you're in for a great convention.

Monday, October 29, 2007

NYWC: St. Louis Day 0

I am here in St. Louis. Not a very eventful trip, but it was a fast one. I've already run into a few other volunteers and a few YS staff.

It has been a long day, but I'm so glad I stayed a little longer to spend more time with my wife and two boys. (esp. since today is my youngest boys 2nd birthday) Tomorrow we start setting up. We also get to meet each other a little more and do some of the "fun" jobs like stuffing all the booklets and getting the bags ready.

More updates as the week progresses.

NYWC: St. Louis - its here!!

Today, I am leaving for St. Louis for the NYWC. I am going to be helping out in the YS Store, so I get to go down early and help set up. I'm excited to be finally going and getting to meet some new faces. Stop by the YS Store and say "hi"

I'm going to be blogging during the convention, too. So check back to hear what is going on.

New Poll: How many things can you think of to be thankful for in one minute

(Man, that is a long poll title - should have spent more time trying to use my words better and more effectively)

The new poll is up and its geared toward Thanksgiving, not just the holiday.

In one minute, how many things can you think of to be thankful for? I would love to hear what they are, and I'm sure other readers would to. Once you've taken the time to think for a minute and answered the poll question, leave a comment on this post and list the things you are thankful for. I think it will be encouraging to see and maybe be reminded of something in our life we forget is a blessing.

I look forward to hearing your responses.

Poll Results: Favorite part of Halloween

Halloween is Wednesday and the Poll is closed. Let's see what you (the readers) voted as your favorite part of Halloween.

36% (4 people) said the costumes
27% (3 people) said Halloween was evil
18% (2 people) said the pumpkins
18% (2 people) said taking their kids trick-or-treating
0% (0 people) said the candy or the treats

Have a safe and fun night.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lessons from The Office: Local Ad

I thought this was the first episode in awhile that really showcased a lot of the cast (and it was only a 1/2 hour long). It seemed like just about everyone had at least one or two good lines or scenes. That is minus Toby (I only remember him being in about 5 seconds of the ad when the paper airplane flew past him).

Lessons from The Office: Local Ad
1. Good brainstorming means you accept all answers - encourage people to give more and feel good about sharing.
2. Don't settle for something that is not the best you can do.
3. Find people's strengths and use them (stereotypes don't count - Oscar)
4. You can crush someone's willingness to help when you bash/belittle their contribution to the team.
5. Even when you are extremely mad at someone, you can still love them.
6. Advertisements do no good if people cannot remember the name of the company being advertised.

"Break me off a piece of that applesauce"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Willow Creek apologizes: will the local church change, too?

Christianity Today's blog, Out of Ur, has an article on Willow Creek's statement that the way they have "done church" for 30 years is wrong.

As interesting as the article is, I think the comments are just as interesting. Notice that even when a megachurch apologizes some people still find time to bad mouth and put them down. They just said they desire change and want to adjust their ministry to see a more effective ministry to the people.

I wonder also if this means those congregations who have modeled themselves after Willow will now also change. Time will tell.

(gracias a Ben and Brad)

NYWC: St. Louis - one week

After hearing just a little about the San Diego convention, I am even more excited about the NYWC. I will be leaving on Monday night to start setting up on Tuesday morning. I know its going to be tiring, but at the same time refreshing.

Hope to see you there.

Photo Friday: Dragon cloud

This is a picture I took about a month ago in our backyard. I think its cool.

Discussion Starter: Boundaries are meant to keep you from danger

Someone should have told these people that road barriers are meant to keep you safe. Even if your car can get through or around, it may not be the safest option.

My favorite part is the opening two lines from the article

As many as 10 vehicles drove around barriers and onto freshly poured concrete on a busy thoroughfare during rush hour. Two got stuck, Mequon police said Thursday.
10 cars, really? It must have been a really busy rush hour and they had really important places to go.

This is a good story to use when talking about rules or laws. It would also work when talking about peer pressure or following the crowd.

What kind of barriers do you go right past without thinking about the consequences?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lessons from The Office: Money

Money felt like a very serious episode. Now, don't get me wrong - it was not even close to being a drama. And I still thought it was pretty good. Here are a few lessons we can learn from the episode...

Lessons from The Office: Money

1. Declaring bankruptcy is not as simple as it sounds.
2. And you can't run (or take a train) from your problems.
3. When you are struggling with something (like a broken relationship), you are not going to give your work 100% of your effort and attention.
4. Being a good friend means sharing your hurts and being there when someone else is hurting. You do not have to have all the answers, either.
5. We all need someone who will stick with us through the tough times. Someone who will always be there, supporting us even when we want to run from our problems.

Trivia Wednesday #40

answer #39 - Pete Best

question #40 - How many gas-burning cars usually enter the Indianapolis 500?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Weekend Recap

This weekend was fun, busy and a little refreshing. Here are a few thoughts from this weekend (in lieu of multiple posts, enjoy the extra time you have to do something else instead of readying multiple blog posts)

1. It rained for a good bit of the 6 hour trip on Wed.
Darkness + Rain + Driving = Not my idea of a fun drive.

2. Seeing family, who you don't see very often, is such a blessing.

3. I got to hang out with one of my best friends from high school (who is still a good friend). It was fun to see him and talk about how things are going. I have to say - it was encouraging to hang out with him. And he helped me pack up the car topper for the ride home. thanks doug.

4. Played golf with my dad and brother-in-law. Highlights include: a birdie on hole 1, getting the golf cart stuck in the fairway mud, "speeding" through a few puddles, hanging out with my dad and brother-in-law.

5. Wes' 2nd birthday party. We had a pinata, great food, fun gifts, family time, yummy cake, sticker tag, wiffleball game, football game and a "Green Giant Incredible Hulk" (a picture to come later).

6. 10 Year High School Reunion. It was good and unexpected. More to come in another post.

7. Went to service at my "home church." They have just hired a new sr. minister - so it was good to meet him. Talked to some old friends and encouraged by others. What a blessing to be among people who I've known for years and who have known me since I was in elementary school.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Office weather

After getting back from our trip this weekend, my wife and I sat down to watch The Office, which we had taped (I know, we're way behind - we still "tape" stuff) on Thursday night. But we got a surprise. We had not taped The Office. We had taped an hour (yes, a full hour) of weather. Apparently there was a bad storm that came through our area that night and the local NBC station decided to spend at least an hour giving updates on the situation.

Just thought it was funny. I'm sure there were a few upset Office fans that night, but thanks to you can watch the full episode online - so no need to wait until the DVD or reruns. So there will still be a "Lessons from The Office" this week.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Photo Friday: Video Games

Playing video games with my boy. Thankfully, he's not better than me, yet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Going back to high school

Today, we are back in our hometown for a few days. The main purpose of the trip is our (Amy and I) 10 year high school class reunion. We didn't go to the 5 year (being 13 hours away we didn't think it worth the trip). We're looking forward to seeing our classmates again, for the most part.

I feel like we're going back to high school, though. I know everyone has probably changed - I know Amy and I have. But I'm still a little nervous about the whole thing. I have not talked to anyone from high school (sans my wife) since high school, except for some online communication through myspace and facebook. Due to this lack of communication, I've got a few questions...

1. Will there be the same cliques/groups?
2. Will it be just a "look at where I'm at..." night of comparison?
3. Who will be there and who won't?
4. What surprises will there be?
5. Will I have anything in common with my classmates?
6. Will we have more in common now than in high school?
7. How many people have actually moved away?
8. What kind of emotions will be stirred up when I see certain people?

We are both looking forward to the reunion, but are a little curious as to what will happen. The reunion is supposed to last 5 hours, we'll see how long we stay :) I think Amy and I are hoping to just be able to talk to old friends and share about where our life is and where it has been. To be able to share God's love.

What have your high school reunions been like?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Trivia Wednesday #39

answer #38 - Molly Ringwald

question #39 - Whom did Ringo Starr replace as the Beatles' drummer?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Football's newest enemy: the overhead camera

I had a feeling this was going to happen. Honestly, I am a little surprised it hasn't happened since now (if it has I missed hearing about it). Here is the story of an overhead camera falling on the field at the Seahawks & Saints game this week.

Thankfully no one got hurt.

Remember when you had to watch a football game and you could not see the player's faces at the line of scrimmage? Look at how far we have come with technology.

to quote someone else: Mike King (behavior modification & authenticity)

"When we engage in behavior modification techniques to achieve certain results, we nurture environments of hypocrisy and deception, training young people to pretend to be spiritual and to give the 'right' answers regardless of what they really think. We leave little room for openness and honesty."
taken from Presence-Centered Youth Ministry by Mike King

It seems like it is easier to go for the quick "fixes" than wait for the lasting change that comes from a transformation of the heart. A lot of youth ministers feel pressure to have the students look and act a certain way. Pressure from parents, church leadership, other youth ministers, or from within their own minds. Most of us would say our desired goal is the long-term transformation. We all want students to stay faithful and true throughout their life, not just until the graduate.

Is your ministry an environment of hypocrisy and deception? Is mine?

How do you keep your ministry from getting to this point? If a ministry is already there, how do you change to one of openness and honesty?

Here are a few quick thoughts:
1. Ask open-ended questions to help the student think. When you are asking questions, do you want a certain answer or are you willing to let the students be open and honest? Do the students know you do not want them to say the "right" answer? You have a lot of power in the way you word a question or how you ask it. Next time you are writing your questions or preparing the lesson, try not to word it in such a way to only have one right answer.
2. Next time someone shares honestly, thank them for being honest and open.
3. Build relationships with the students. This needs to be you along with your youth coaches who get to know each student.
4. Never laugh at a student who opens up about a private issue or struggle.
5. Remember the Christian life is a journey. One with setbacks and leaps forward (some within days of each other).
6. Pray that your ministry will be a place of authenticity and compassion, not hypocrisy and deception.
7. Allow God to work in the students' lives, its not your job to fix them.
8. If you need to, take time at a scheduled program (Sunday school, youth meetings, etc) and apologize for allowing the ministry to reach a point where the only acceptable action is the "Sunday school" one. Be open about your desire for the ministry to be one of authenticity and safety.

Monday, October 15, 2007

NYWC: St. Louis - 5 more things I'm ready for

1. Lost & Found (its been a few years since I've heard them in concert)
2. Worship w/ DC*B, Starfield
3. Great seminars (Developing a strong volunteer team, The big picture - planning, the expectations that killed the youth workers; just to name a few)
4. The exhibit hall: the good, the bad and the ugly
5. Freebies: the good (I won't take the bad or the ugly, well I might take some of the ugly just to show it to others)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Pop Wars

Sometimes a rivalry can go too far. Here is case in point.

INDIANA, Pa. (AP) - The long-standing rivalry between Coke and Pepsi took a physical turn Friday when a Pepsi deliveryman allegedly punched his Coke counterpart in the face at a western Pennsylvania Wal-Mart, state police said.

The two deliverymen were "apparently bickering back and forth" while unloading their wares at the Indiana County store, police said. When the Coke deliveryman left the store, his counterpart allegedly punched him in the face three times, breaking his nose and giving him a black eye, police said.

No charges have been filed, but police characterized the incident as a misdemeanor simple assault.

taken from this article.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lessons from The Office: L(a)unch Party

Lessons from The Office: Launch Party

1. There is more than 1 way to handle difficult people. (and some are pretty funny)
2. But you can't always change their attitude/behavior.
3. Being left out of a gathering/party really hurts if the person hosting it is a friend (or at least when you think they are a friend)
4. You should always read the fineprint on a coupon, or settle on the price before the pizza is delivered.
5. People will go above and beyond when trying to impress someone.

to quote someone else: Marge Simpson (internet)

"I don't want to bother the internet with my problems."
taken from The Simpsons on 10.7.07 Midnight Towboy

This has to be a new favorite quote, esp. in regards to the internet.

So next time you want to Google something, stop and rethink if your "problems" are worth the internet's time.

Photo Friday: two dogs

A few old pictures of my two dogs. The capes are great, aren't they?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Simple phone calls to students

Yesterday, I was making some phone calls to students and was reminded of something simple. A phone call can do a lot.

What holds youth ministers back from calling a student on the phone? I think there are a few questions that sum it up.

When will I catch them at home?
What do I say?
Why do I have to call _______, I barely even know them?

Here are 10 thoughts on talking to students on the phone.

1. Good phone calls do not have to be long.
2. Talk about what you know is going on in their life (sports, family, job...).
3. Ask a few simple questions (how was the test, how is practice, are you ready for ____, is your _______ feeling better).
4. Listen for verbal cues to what is going on in their life.
5. Be ready, some students can be a lot more open than you might be ready for.
6. Stop talking long enough to let the student talk.
7. If necessary, make sure you follow up with them personally.
8. Talk about things they are interested in.
9. Take the time to encourage them.
10. Talking with students on the phone should encourage you.

Pick up the phone this week and call a few students.

How do you connect with students using phone calls?

Trivia Wednesday #38

answer #37 - Star Wars

question #38 - Which actress played the character who turned 16 in the movie Sixteen Candles?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lessons from The Office: Dunder Mifflin Infinity

Lessons from The Office: Dunder Mifflin Infinity

1. It can be hard to let go of a past relationship (thanks Kelly for showing us how to not try to get someone back)
2. Change is not easy to accept for people, even if you give them a good presentation on the why and what.
3. Gift baskets are awesome!
4. It will take more than force to get people to see the need for change, as a leader you have to help them discover how it will benefit everyone.
5. Going from subordinate to boss is not an easy transition. People will often continue to think of you as the old you.
6. Never, never go back to retrieve a gift once you've given it to someone - it wasn't nice in grade school and its still not nice today.

New Poll: Your favorite part of Halloween

A new poll has been posted. I'd like to know what your favorite part of Halloween is and why. So, take the poll and then make a comment on this post to add some reasons why you like _________ the best.

For me, its the time spent with the boys trick-or-treating. Which I won't be able to do this year because I'll be at the NYWC.

Poll Results: what version do you use?

Another poll is closed, and what did we learn? We learned that the "official" Bible version for this blog is the NIV.

85% of the readers use the NIV (that's 6 people)
14% of the readers say the NASB is their most used version (that's 1 person)

I have to say, I'm glad no one answered they use whatever version says what they want it to say.

I'll try to make 85% of all my Scripture references be NIV :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Baseball Season is over

for me. This year I got to enjoy 3 more games than normal. Thanks Cubs.

Next year, it'll be our year!

Now, I just sit and suffer through every other sport until Spring.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Photo Friday: The Maze

Entering the maze.

Do you ever feel like youth ministry is a maze?

Do you feel you are in a maze, trying to navigate your ministry, your life, and your marriage?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Unexpected hospital stay

Yesterday, Wes (my youngest) went to the dr. and ended up in the hospital. He has pneumonia in both lungs. Amy has been able to stay with him overnight, so that was good. We'll see how it goes today.

Please be praying for him.

NYWC: St. Louis - 5 things I'm ready for

The National Youth Workers Convention in St. Louis is just a month away! I am ready.

Here are 5 things I am ready for at the NYWC:
1. I am ready to connect with some fellow youth workers whom I only know as a profile picture.
2. I am ready to stay up late and get up early.
3. I am ready to hear great speakers and musicians.
4. I am ready to listen to youth worker's stories.
5. I am ready to be recharged and refreshed by God.

Watch this promo:

Are you ready? What are you looking forward to?

Lessons from The Office: Fun Run

Well, it has finally arrived (as of last Thursday) - the new season of The Office.

It was an hour long episode, which meant a lot of little stuff stayed in (and they still have 5 deleted scenes that will be up on - 4 up currently).

Lessons from Fun Run:
1. Things are not always as they seem
2. It is not always easy to forgive someone who has really hurt you
3. It is easy to base your belief in God on how things around you are going
4. Talking about your religious beliefs at work is not always easy
5. Forgiveness is given when you take actions beyond just words

Trivia Wednesday #37

answer #36 - -459

question #37 - In which films will you find the Millenium Falcon?

Monday, October 01, 2007

to quote someone else: Stalin (evangelism)

"A million deaths is a statistic, one death is a tragedy."
Stalin quoted by Richard Stearns (Pres. of World Vision) in an interview

Now, think of that quote in terms of the lost. It isn't until we see the unsaved as people instead of statistics that we'll be pushed to do something. We hear all the time about there being millions of unsaved people in the world, but does that really spur us to action? But when you have a friend or family member who doesn't have a saving relationship with Jesus - its a whole new ballgame.

Maybe we need to stop talking about the big numbers and start focusing on those around us. We need to help our students (ourselves, too?) see the need to save the one.

What do you do to help students feel the "tragedy" and not the "statistic?"

Friday, September 28, 2007

Photo Friday: Beef A Roo?

This is a sign we saw on our way to Wisconsin. It stood out to me because I call my oldest son "Buck a roo"

Less Journal, More Ministry Reflections: An Apology

I have, over the life of this blog, allowed it to become more of an online journal than what its intended purpose was supposed to be. Technically, having a blog about my thoughts, ideas and hopes of youth ministry will be a journal of sorts. It should be a collection of thoughts and resources for helping others in their ministries - not a personal blog from a youth minister who just writes about what is going on in his ministry. I know not all of my posts are journal-like, which is what I hope has been beneficial to you and your ministry.

I am not promising to never write another journal-like post, because I am sure I will. But I am promising that even those will be less private journal thoughts and more open conversation thoughts.

To anyone who has come across this blog and found something they deem to be careless words or less than loving in attitude, I would like to apologize and say I am sorry. I have tried to go through the posts and remove those things which needed to be removed. I truly regret feeling and believing those things, let alone posting them on this blog. As I have looked back, I have become aware of just how wrong I was in those thoughts.

Why, you ask, are you writing a personal journal type post about this not being an online journal? Good question. I believe I owe it to you (the readers of this blog) to hear my heart about this issue. I could have just deleted sections of posts and entire posts without mentioning anything, but I didn't feel it was enough. I want to be honest and open about how I messed up and to apologize for my failure to be like Christ in this manner.

Thank you for reading this.

I will end with these words from Ephesians 5, as a reminder to myself (and you) of how I need to be living my life (and using this blog).

"Be imitators of God...and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us."(v 1-2)
Verse 4 reminds us to avoid "foolish talk"
"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise by as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (v 15-16)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Creative Commons and Youth Ministry

The other day, I ran across an article (which I can't seem to find now) from Relevant Magazine's Slices that mentioned a lawsuit against Virgin Mobile AU for using a picture with a CC License from Flickr. Here is another article from MSNBC. The person in the picture knew nothing of the ad campaign nor the caption that would be added to her picture.

My first thought was that this has to be a concern for youth ministers. There are lots of youth ministers who take pictures at events and post them on Flickr for easy distribution. Some of these youth ministers are of the "sharing" kind and mark their photos under one of the many Creative commons licenses. Which is not an issue - until one gets used in a major ad campaign.

I would caution any youth minister to always keep your pictures "All Rights Reserved" if they involve people in your ministry or church. Now, if it is your personal photo of your backyard swingset - that is your decision.

Now, I know that CC has a non-commercial option (which I highly recommend). Just know that there are big companies who will try to save some money and use a "free" picture to make a few more bucks.

One of the advantages of the CC license is that people can find many quality pictures without much effort. They can be used in so many forms, but be careful you are not taking advantage of the photographer's generosity.

To read some of the discussion going on over at Flickr about this, go here (I have not read all the comments, so I can't say what all is being said or not said) Some of the discussion is just people going back and forth, but some of it is really good discussion on what can be done when someone takes advantage of a CC.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Starting a Local Youth Workers Network: Making Contact with area Youth Workers

This is the second post on the steps to take when starting a new youth worker network. I have included a link to the first post for those who may not have read it when it was first posted.

How to start a local youth worker network:
1. Become familiar with your area.

2. Making contact with the other area youth workers.

I know how easy it is to not do this step. This is a good step even if you aren't trying to start a youth workers network. In terms of the network, there is no way you can build the network if you don't make contact with the other area youth workers. Without others, the area network is just you sitting around talking to yourself.

Making these contacts gives you a better understanding of how youth ministry in the area works. If you are new to the area, this network can help you avoid mistakes or frustrations. Connecting with people who have been doing what you are trying to do (youth ministry) gives you a "safety net." Think about it like this, maybe you want to start a line dancing night at church. Will it take off? Will students show up? You can start it and find out or you can run the idea by a few youth workers who have been in the area longer and find out if line dancing is popular or not.

One other benefit of this step is the feeling of connectedness you will feel. Not just you as the youth worker, but your youth ministry as well. I think once you start connecting with area youth workers, you will be more willing/able to join forces on different events and combine youth ministries to help the students connect with other Christians in the area (even if they are from a different denomination).

Go out there and make contacts. Go to lunch, talk on the phone, meet at their church, do whatever it takes to make contact with other area youth workers (full-time, part-time, volunteer).

Trivia Wednesday #36

answer #35 - Charlie Brown

question #36 - What is the absolute zero, to the nearest number, on the Fahrenheit scale?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Poll: Which version of the Bible do you use most?

I just posted a new poll. This one asks which version of the Bible you use most often. Do you have a favorite or a "go to" version?

I'd love to hear your reasons why, so please post a comment with why you use the one you use.

I mainly use the NIV for teaching because of its easier understandability. But I like to use the NASB for study due to its word for word translation. There are times a paraphrase (like The Message) works well to get people to see a verse in a new way. But I would have to say the one I use most is the NIV.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Poll Results: Whose going to NYWC

Only 4 people answered the poll for this week. Out of those 4, 2 are going to the National Youth Workers Convention in St. Louis. 1 is not going. and 1 doesn't know what the NYWC is.

For a quick run down and better job at explaining it, go here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

'God' responds to lawsuit

Someone has responded to the lawsuit against God. To the left is a picture of the man who brought the lawsuit against God. I don't know anything about him and have never heard his name before. But I did think the photo was a little ironic. At first glance, I thought the fan that is behind him looked a lot like a giant halo.

You can read the article here.

Sound but no Picture

Recently, I decided to pull out our wedding tape for my wife and I to watch on a date night. Neither of us had seen the tape for a few years (the last time I saw it was when we watched it on our first anniversary in 2002). I was anxious to see how we had changed and to remember all the people who were there. How was everyone lined up on stage? When did we sing our praise songs? What did people say to us in their taped messages? We were really looking forward to watching the tape of our wedding day.

Well, we didn't get to watch it. I put the tape in and all that was showing up was static. It started to clear up, but the picture was extremely blurry and distorted. It was also in the middle of the tape, so I decided to rewind it in order to be able to watch the whole thing. (Bad idea)

After rewinding the tape and trying to start watching it, we discovered something bad. There was no picture, at all, not even a blurry one. All we had was sound. Normally you wouldn't sit and watch a VHS tape will only sound (that's called a cassette tape), but you might if its your wedding tape. We sat and listened to different parts of the tape.

But the crazy thing was that I (I can't speak for Amy here) found myself very moved by what I was hearing. To hear, even though we couldn't see, our friends sharing thoughts and words for us on our marriage and friendship made me emotional. To listen to Troy share his thoughts, to listen to Kevin & Darin lead worship, to listen to Tim sing Love Song by Third Day. It was moving. It was a moment that stirred my soul.

I am going to try to see if we can get a picture to show up or see if anyone in my family has a copy of the wedding and do whatever I can to try to get the video back. But if we do not ever get the video back, I'll be ok with the sound. For within those words are memories. Within those words is love. And I don't want to lose that.

Plus, I consider it a blessing to even have the sound. Amy taped a friend's wedding and the only copy of the wedding was on our camcorder. Well, that was the camcorder (with the tape in it) that was stolen from our house. So, we were never able to give our friends a copy of their wedding. Which I still feel bad about.

Photo Friday: Clean hands at the gas pump

Don't you just love being able to sanitize your hands right there after you've pumped $89 worth of gas into your 2 door Nissan. Maybe this is where all of our gas money is going.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Office: Season 4 Premiere in one week

The season 4 premiere of the Office is only one week away. While I am excited about the first few episodes (Fun Run, Dunder Mifflin Infinity, Launch Party), I'm more excited about the fact that we are going to watch the premiere at a friends' house. We are actually going to be watching the Office at a couples house without the boys.

I'm looking forward to just hanging out and spending time with these friends. It will be nice to spend time with adults our age without the boys and without it having something to do with youth ministry. Isn't that something we should be doing on a regular basis anyway? (spending time with people as friends)

So, here starts the countdown...

Free phone line: Ooma a new voip service

I just ran across an article on about a new (free) phone service. Well, its free with an asterisk.

It seems like the system is $400 (will be $600 in 08) and then you don't have to pay a monthly bill. That is unless you decide to keep your land line for emergencies, like your internet going out.

Though there is no way I will be buying one of these now, it does look like a cool concept. I guess I feel about the same as I do with the iPhone - wayyyy too much money for what I need/want/am able to do with it. Maybe this makes me a non-early adopter or maybe it just means I don't have a lot of money to throw around. Though I think I'd rather have this than the iPhone.

This pretty much sums it up (from the USA Today article):

Price: $399 for Ooma Hub ($599 starting next year), $39.95 for companion Ooma Scout devices.

Score: 3 stars (out of four)

Pro: No more monthly phone bills. Pretty simple setup and fine voice quality. Well-designed hardware. "Virtual" second line and answering machine with call screening at no extra cost.

Con: Expensive upfront cost. Requires broadband, and you lose phone service if your Internet connection is disrupted, unless you continue to pay for a landline (most likely on low-cost plan).

Small Town YM: school sports

I have now seen a full year's worth of small town school sports come and go. Over this time, I've made some observations about a few sports before. I can tell you I've gone to more sports this year than I ever have in ministry.

Small Town vs. Non-small Town

1. The basic sports are offered: football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball
2. Parents abound at these games
3. Students show up in full force to support their friends
4. Any sport played in the gym is going to cause you to perspire
5. Some middle school games seem to last forever

1. No track or cross country
2. More students who play multiple sports (some out of necessity, to have a complete team)
3. I know a lot more people at the games
4. It seems like more parents show up to watch their kids
5. Downtown businesses let people write "encouragement" notes on their windows

Neutral/Specific to this church:
1. I'm not sure if its the small town or what, but I seem to have a larger number of athletes in the youth ministry than I have before.
2. Just the other day, I was driving in a nearby town and saw some writings on their windows to show support for an upcoming homecoming football game. Only some of these notes didn't seem all that encouraging or friendly (keep in mind they tried to have a tie-in between their business name and the saying)...

"Corner the bulldogs" (at a store called "The Corner")
"Cruise over the bulldogs" (at a car dealership)
and my personal favorite...
"Break their 'limbs'" (at the Willow Tree)

Going to a sports event in a small town changes my purpose. In the past, I've tried to go to part of the game (usually the end, because you don't have to pay) and see the student and the parents if I can. Now, I have started going at the beginning and staying longer - trying to interact with the parents. Plus I get to see a lot more students who are not involved that I try to connect with. Then, you throw in that my family is there with me and I my goal is to spend time with them also.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Trivia Wednesday #35

answer #34 - Houston (Astrodome)

question #35 - "Good Grief" is the expression associated with which character?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kickoff DVD - a wanted treasure

This past Sunday, I put out a sign up sheet for anyone who wanted a DVD of the raw footage (over 2 hours) from the scavenger hunt we did as part of our kickoff. We had 31 at our kickoff and 23 people signed up for the DVD. That is just crazy to me. I thought there would be a few people who would want one, but almost 80% is unreal. A funny aspect is that there are 2 people who want a DVD that were not at the kickoff.

It is taking me forever to make the DVDs. I can only do one at a time and it takes like 3 hours to do each one. Plus I'm doing them on my computer at church, and can't on my Mac at home, so I can only get 3 done a day.

I never planned on having a DVD to hand out, but then I decided I needed to put all the footage on one DVD and get it off my computer. So, I figured I could make more copies if someone wanted it. When I first mentioned it, I had a handful of people say they would like one.

I am excited about what this next year will bring...even if I have to make 23 DVDs.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nebraska State Senator Sues God

Yeah, the title is enough to get your attention, is the whole article

All I can say is wow!