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)