Friday, May 30, 2008

Photo Friday: Old Park Bench

An old bench. You can tell it has seen better days.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #71: Splash

answer #70 - The Tomorrow Show

question #71 - Who played the mermaid in the film Splash?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dog Litter

I got this coupon/flyer in a bag of dog food recently. I found it strange.

A few thoughts:
1. I like the blurred face on the dog, it definitely hides the identity of the dog.
2. Its a dog with an attitude.
3. Its called "secondnature" for a reason. The first nature is to go outside and use the bathroom.
4. Just wow.

If you know anyone who uses this, or you use it yourself, please leave a comment and tell me why.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Youth Ministry through the Judges: Othniel

As I have been reading through the book of Judges, I am drawn to the lessons we can learn. Reading about the cycle the Israelites kept going through reminds me of myself. It reminds me of the students I work with and the adults I know, too. I thought I would go through each of the judges and share my thoughts on them, from a youth ministry perspective. First up...

Othniel (Judges 3.7-11)

  • First let's look back at v. 4, "They (surrounding nations) were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the LORD's commands," God does leave people and situations in our life to test us and see if we will obey Him. Do your students recognize this? Do we (parents & youth workers) allow people to be there that might test the students or do we try to buffer them? Think about a few of your students. Who are their testers?
  • The Israelites did not do well with this test. They quickly forgot God. (v. 7) How often does this happen to students? I think the Israelites forgot about God because things were going well. They didn't have any major conflicts with the surrounding nations; besides the people seemed nice. When we become comfortable with our surroundings, we lose sight of God. This happens rather quickly for students. Keep God in the forefront and remind them of what God has done in the past.
  • They got themselves into trouble, and God was willing to get them out. How amazing is that? Inevitably, the trouble is always our fault. Your students will make stupid decisions. They will make bad choices. They will think they are too far gone to be forgiven or loved by God - they might even think that all the bad stuff in their life is God punishing them. Take time to remind them of God's love. Remind them that God wants to be there for them and will provide a way out of their struggles.
  • After a war, led by Othniel, the Israelites enjoyed a time of peace (40 years). Two things about this; first, it took a war for them to get to the peace and the peace only lasted as long as Othniel was alive. In youth ministry, there are times where the only way to get to peace is through a rough time. You have to wade through some negatives in order to get to the positive. Working with students means there will be some seasons that feel like battle. When you get through those, you get to enjoy the season of peace. Be willing to go through the tough times!
  • Students can depend solely on the youth minister. This is taken from the fact that the Israelites enjoyed peace as long as Othniel was alive. Just like the Israelites relied solely on Othniel, there will be students who live for God only when the youth worker is around. This could mean until the youth worker leaves the ministry or it could mean only moment to moment when a youth worker is around. Teaching the youth to wrestle with their faith helps them to not rely on the adults. The students have to be able to grow on their own or they will fall when the adult leaves. Be mindful of this as you work with students.

Next up, Ehud the left-handed.

Small Town Youth Ministry: Meeting Locations

Another benefit of working in a small town is the ease of meeting someone at a location. When I want to meet someone or a group of people for lunch, all I have to say is "Let's meet at Subway" or "Let's meet at the chinese place." That is enough. There are not 2 of any restaurant, so just saying the name is enough. You don't have to give directions. You don't need to search a map online. You just know. It makes getting together with people a little easier when you don't need to decide on a location.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Reflections on: leaving a ministry

Leaving a ministry is part of being in ministry. Everyone who ministers will do it at least once in their ministry (there are a few who do not, but that is rare). Every exit is different. Every leaving is unique in its details. But there are a few similarities. At the end of your ministry, you will pack up, clean up, and haul multiple carloads of boxes, containers, shelves and other office furniture from your office to your house. You will probably do a lot of thinking about leaving your ministry.

What follows is some of my thoughts on leaving a ministry. Maybe they will encourage you in your ministry. Maybe they will make you laugh. Maybe they will give you the resolve to keep going. Maybe they will be the same thoughts you are having about your ministry. Whatever it is they are to you, I pray it is helpful.

Reflections on: leaving a ministry:

  1. There is never a good time to leave. Regardless of what you might think or feel, it is never a good time to leave. When things are going well - you don't want to miss out on the joys and growth. when things are going bad - you feel like you are just running from something that is difficult.
  2. There is a God time to leave. This is the "time" where God leads you to leave. It could be when things are going well (like Gerrard) or it could be when things are not going so well (like a youth minister I know who got forced out because the sr. minister wouldn't resign after moral failure). But when it comes to God time, you can't plan it. You don't know when it is coming until it gets there. Though you can't plan it, you need to be ready for it.
  3. There is a difference between being a minister and doing ministry. One is the job title and one is a lifestyle. You can leave one, but you can't get away from the other.
  4. Its hardest to leave the students. Now, don't misunderstand me on this one. Saying goodbye to the adults and parents is difficult. But, for me, saying goodbye to the students is even harder. On some level, the adults "understand" the process more and adjust more to the situation (either good or bad). But its trying to respond to those students who says things like ... "Have you thought about staying in the area?" "Why do you have to go?" "Don't forget to stay in contact." "What am I going to do without you around?" Leaving those students who have allowed you to enter their world is one of the toughest things I've ever had to do.
  5. Awkwardness is normal. Most people do not know what to say. The other people can't really say what they are thinking (because they don't want to really hurt your feelings) or they just don't want to talk to you. Because of this, it is awkward to be there on Sunday after it is announced you are leaving. I think that even though you may feel, as the youth minister, you are the only person feeling awkward - you need to remember that others are feeling awkward, too.
  6. You have to trust God. You may know where you are going next. You may be clueless, without any leads. No matter what you know, you have to trust God to take care of you. This trust might be financially, with your job, with your reputation or something else. Regardless of what happened (good or bad, right or wrong) God is bigger than the situation. God is bigger than your worries. God is bigger than your bills. God is bigger than everything. He will take care of you. It may not always be comfortable, but God will provide.
  7. Integrity is crucial. When leaving a ministry, always act above reproach. Do not say hurtful or harsh words about others (even if it is the truth). Do not try to stir the pot. Maintain a level of integrity that brings glory and honor to God. Finish strong. Whether you will see anyone from that church again or not does not matter, you must continue to act in a Christlike manner.
Whatever your situation, I want to encourage you to leave well.

Photo Friday: Fence Posts

Thursday, May 22, 2008

pray for the Chapman family


NASHVILLE, TN...5/21/08... At approximately 5pm on the afternoon of Wednesday May 21st, Maria Sue Chapman, 5 years old and the youngest daughter to Steven and Mary Beth Chapman was struck in the driveway of the Chapman home in Franklin, TN. Maria was rushed to Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in Nashville, transported by LifeFlight, but died of her injuries there. Maria is one of the close knit family’s six children and one of their three adopted daughters.

go to Steven Curtis Chapman's website to find out more and see how you can pray and help. They have set up a website dedicated to her memory, go here to meet Maria

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #70: NBC late night

answer #69 - a trunk

question #70 - Which late night NBC show was replaced by Late Night with David Letterman?

Monday, May 19, 2008

7 Wonderful Years

Today is my 7th wedding anniversary. What a crazy 7 years it has been. As I look back on the first 7 years of our marriage, I just shake my head. What would we have done if we would have known the future? Thank God we didn't know (and still do not). I would not want to go through life with anyone else by my side.

7 years of being married to the greatest women in the world. She has truly been a comfort during tough times and a blessing at all times. I am honored and blessed to have Amy in my life and I thank God everyday for her.

I love you babe!! Happy Anniversary.

Prince Caspian: My thoughts

Disclaimer: I need to state right from the start that I've never read any of the books. I tried to start reading "The Magician's Nephew", but only got a few chapters in. So, I don't know how the movie compared to the book.

Prince Caspian is an edge-of-your-seat movie. If you liked The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you need to see Prince Caspian. If you didn't like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you still need to see Prince Caspian.

Prince Caspian starts off quickly and puts you right into the thick of the plot within the first few minutes. From that first scene until the last, the movie is full of action and suspense. And along the way, there is woven in moments of humor and lightheartedness. In fact, this Chronicle of Narnia seems to be filled with more sarcasm and humor than the first. (a nice change of pace)

There are a few great battle scenes, though they did remind me a lot of the Lord of the Rings. And if you are looking for some great Aslan moments, they are here, too. The characters are rich with depth and insight. Prince Caspian himself is a lesson on vengeance. Peter is full of pride. Lucy learns to believe in herself and not worry what others think.

I highly recommend seeing Prince Caspian. Then after you have seen it once, take someone else with you to see it a second time. You cannot go wrong with this movie. You will walk away pondering the depth of the story.

One last thought: near the end of the movie there is a moment between Aslan and Lucy that in itself is worth the price of admission. Lucy is sent to find Aslan to help fight in the final battle. After some trouble, she finally arrives at the place where Aslan is. At one point in the conversation, Lucy tells Aslan that the others didn't believe her and that is why she didn't come to him sooner. She knew he was there, but did not want to search for him by herself. Aslan's response to her statement is, "Why did that stop you from coming?" What a great moment. What a great lesson. If you get nothing else from this movie (which I believe you will) then you need to walk away with that understanding in your head - why would you let others determine how you interact with God.

my advice (rating) - go see it in the theater(5 out of 5)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Poll: Summer off day

With graduations done and the temperatures rising, we must be entering summer. For youth workers this means the busiest 3 months of the year. But this busyness got me thinking, do most youth workers still take an off day during the summer. Thus, that is the newest poll question.

During the summer, do you still take an off day during the week?

  • yes, my normal day
  • yes, varies from week to week
  • yes, when I'm not on a trip
  • no, no time

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on a summer work schedule.

Poll Results: Graduation Ceremonies

The end of the school year means graduation. And graduation equals graduation ceremonies.

What do people think about graduation ceremonies? Well, according to my poll, on this site, (of mostly youth workers) a majority of people do not enjoy the ceremony part.

Do you enjoy graduation ceremonies?
20% (2 people) do enjoy the ceremonies
80% (8 people) do not enjoy the ceremonies

This could be due to the fact that a lot of ceremonies last for hours. Or that most ceremonies are in places without A/C. Or it could be the fact that most youth ministers only know a small percentage of the graduating seniors. Even with this large percentage of people not enjoying the ceremonies, I don't know a single youth worker who would miss it. That's how much we love the students!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5 most mentioned men in the Bible

As I was cleaning my office, I ran across this little tidbit of information, the five men who are mentioned the most in Scripture.

In order, from 5th to 1st

  • Saul with 338 mentions (He'll probably want a recount)
  • Aaron with 339 mentions
  • Moses with 740 mentions
  • David with 1,118 mentions
  • and Jesus with too many to count
This list got me thinking. Who are the people you talk about most in your ministry? (people from Scripture, not pop culture) Do you spend a majority of your time talking about Jesus? Or do you spend most of your time talking about pop culture and other frivolous stuff?

What are the five topics that are talked about most in your youth ministry?

Discussion Starter: The story of stuff

If you haven't seen this video (20 minutes) yet, you need to watch it. You can find it here.

Use this video to spark discussion on: consumerism, waste, money, the planet, taking care of creation, and anything it might spark in your students.

(gracias a Marko)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #69: Elephant

answer #68 - Maharishi Maresh Yogi

question #69 - What name is shared by the base of a tree and an elephant's snout?

Monday, May 12, 2008

4 Leaf Clover: God's good luck charm?

As I was cleaning out my office, I ran across this little poem. I think it came from some 4 leaf clover thing we got as a wedding gift many years ago. I thought it was a little odd, so I would share...

One leaf is for hope
and one is for faith.
And one is for love, you know
and God put another in for luck.
Really? Someone actually believes that God would need to put a fourth leaf on a clover for luck.
Anyway, enjoy.

Amos 4:4-5

Amos 4:4-5
"Go to Bethel and sin;
go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three years.

Burn leavened bread as a thank offering
and brag about your freewill offerings—
boast about them, you Israelites,
for this is what you love to do,"
declares the Sovereign LORD.

When I read this, I was struck by how it can be read with sarcasm. Did God say it sarcastically or is that just me reading it that way?

God goes on to talk about how no matter what He did, the Israelites would not return to Him. This got me thinking, how often have I sinned (strayed from God) and yet continue to tithe or do the right stuff on the outside without really returning to God? What would God say to me? What would He say to you?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Photo Friday: Sleeping Baby Opossum

I found this little guy sleeping in the trash can one day. Isn't he cute?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

thoughts on an end to a ministry

Sunday it was announced that my current ministry is coming to a close.

Due to this, the last few weeks have been pretty tough for us. They haven't been tough because people have been mean or anything. They have been tough as we worked through this decision. There is never a good time to leave a ministry. There are always events and plans you want to see through to the end. There will always be students you are working with and mentoring. There will always be ideas you want to see become a reality.

All of those are true for me. The last few weeks have been emotionally draining, too. There seems to be little I can focus on. Even as I try to write this my mind is wondering.

We are in the process of looking for a new ministry. As we work through this time, all of your prayers are appreciated and cherished.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #68: the Beatles

answer #67 - Rose

question #68 - Which religious leader was sought out by the Beatles?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

to quote someone else: Stormie Omartian (God & our future)

"He (God) only promises to reveal Himself to us, when we seek Him. That's because He doesn't want us to know the future - He wants us to know Him. He is our future. When we know Him, He guides us into the future He has for us."

taken from The Power of a Praying Husband by Stormie Omartian

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Helping others can be dirty

What do you do when you see someone in trouble? What is your first thought?

Maybe you start figuring out how to offer your help. Maybe you start praying someone else will come along and do "their" part to help. Maybe you glance the other way and pretend to not notice. Maybe you keep driving. Maybe you have never encountered it.

It happened recently to me. My sister, brother-in-law, and niece were visiting for a few days. One afternoon, while playing at the park, I noticed a truck drive near the pond. Normally this would not be a big deal - people drive up to the pond to go fishing all the time. But on this day, due to the massive amount of rain we'd been getting, it was a problem. The ground was really wet and there were puddles everywhere. The driver of the truck did not think about this and drove near the pond to go fishing.

As I was standing on the play bridge, at the park, watching him I started to think. The ladies had just left to work on getting lunch ready, leaving the three kids and two dads. I knew we were going to need to go and help try to push him out, but wasn't sure what to do. So I watched. I knew it would take a minute or two to get the kids from the park to the pond. And I was hoping he would be able to drive right through without getting stuck. But then he stopped. (not good)

I watched him try reverse and just spin his wheels. So, we collected the kids and started walking toward him. By this point, another car had stopped to try and help. The driver was able to help push the truck a little bit, but was not going to get him out. By the time we got close, the help was walking back to his car.

So, the three of us (driver who stopped to help, brother-in-law and myself) walked back to the truck and were going to push it out. Well, the other driver ended up behind the right wheel and my brother-in-law ended up behind the left wheel. I was the second guy there and went to the middle with little thought. We pushed him out, but not before getting a "little" muddy. Because I was in the middle, I only got some of the spray. Look at what my brother-in-law got...

This is what some of the pants looked like afterward.

This was his shoe.

Helping others is dirty.

You do not always get physically dirty, either. But you are not guaranteed to stay clean.

As we were walking home, I was reminded of one truth. It is always the right thing to do to help someone in need. My 2 year old told me, "Daddy, I'm glad you helped him." So am I.

Reminds me of something Jesus said.

Friday, May 02, 2008

New Poll:

This is graduation season, so the poll revolves around graduation. (clever isn't it?) It is a simple poll this week, only two options.

Do you enjoy graduation ceremonies?

I'm also interested in hearing about some funny, sad stories you might have about graduations. Maybe you went to the wrong one or sat through a four hour graduation and still missed seeing one of your students walk across the stage. Please share in the comments.

Poll Results: Summer Missions

The last poll asked whether you were taking a summer missions trip this summer. It turns out, this was not a big poll. Only 2 people voted. How did they vote...

100% (2 people) are not doing a summer mission event.


Photo Friday: Bowling

Let's just say it took the ball a little while to get down the lane.