Sunday, June 29, 2008

Curious Eyes of a Child

Today, during service I was caught by the wonder in my son's eyes. As he was sitting on my lap, he just kept looking around. He watched the people behind us, in front of us and next to us. He was so curious to see what people were doing. He was not disruptive. He was not drawing attention to himself. He just wanted to know what people were doing.

His curiosity got me thinking about my own curiosity and wonder. There are a lot of times in my life where I become so used to how things are that I do not even think about them. How many times do I go with traditions and not think about them?

Today I was encouraged by my son (through watching his actions) to not lose my curiosity and wonder. May I encourage you to do the same. Watch and listen. Do not stop asking questions. Keep both eyes open and do not move through life on autopilot.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Photo Friday: Sunset in a Tent

This was our view from our backyard camping adventure.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

3 Reasons to read a blog

As best as I can determine, there are 3 main reasons to read a blog.

1. Personal connection
The first reason to read a blog is because you know the person writing it. Whether its a family member, coworker, friend, or a neighbor you want to know what they are thinking. You want to know what is going on in their life. You enjoy seeing the pictures and reading the funny stories. It doesn't matter if they post daily, weekly or monthly.

2. Great content
The second reason to read a blog is because you enjoy the content. Most of the time you do not personally know the author of the blog. The content will: encourage, challenge, make you think, cause you to laugh, provide help or just be enjoyable. It does not have to have quotable content every day, but it does happen regularly.

3. High Profile Author
The third reason to read a blog is because the person writing it is a big name. You know about and respect the company they work for. You may not know about the person's character, integrity or work ethics. You read solely because of the high profile status of the author. This might even keep you reading the blog despite a lack of quality. You will read it to keep up with what "everyone else" is talking about or reading. Content can be anywhere from questionable to excellent.

What other reasons do you have to read a blog?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Job Search Tips: Do you really want the job?

Everybody wants a job. No, let me rephrase that. Everybody wants to have an income which comes from having a job. But what job do we want?

Allow me to share 2 quick tips on job hunting. Both of these tips deal with showing your potential employer that you really want to have the job they are offering.

1. Dress appropriately (for the job).
Do not show up for an interview in cut off shorts and flip-flops. That is only acceptable if the boss wears that to work. If you are applying for an office job, wear something better than you would on an average day in the office. If you are applying to be the bat boy for the Cubs, you don't need to dress in a suit.

2. Pick a job that is right for you.
Apply for a job in a field you are interested and capable in. You will not do well in a computer design job if you do not like computers. You will not last in a ministry job if you do not like people. Do not just apply to a job because it pays well or its in your area - make sure you really want to work there. Remember, hopefully you will be spending many years in this job.

I will give you two real-life examples to help show my point. A friend told me they knew a guy who wore a sleeveless shirt, cutoff jeans and flip flops when applying to work in a factory type job. I know of another person who applied to work in a lumber yard, but they were allergic to wood. It just doesn't fit.

Trivia Wednesday #75: Color

answer #74 - Pacific Princess

question #75 - The human eye can distinguish between _________ different colors.
(64, 1000, 2 mil, 1 bil)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Poll: Promoting to the next grade

With summer in full swing, I thought I'd see when you promote your students. When do they go from 6th to 7th grade within the youth ministry?

When do you promote your students?
- at the beginning of summer
- they stay in same grade, but can be involved in older group
- at the end of summer

Have you found one way works better for you? Why?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Poll Results: Summer vacation

With summer in full swing, here are the results from the summer vacation poll:

As a youth worker, when do you take your summer vacation?

42% (3 people) don't take summer vacations
14% (1 person) takes it before summer starts
28% (2 people) take it during the middle of summer
14% (1 person) takes it after summer is over
0% take it a few days here a few days there

I hope you have a great summer of ministry. I also hope you have a chance to relax a little and enjoy some of it, too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fun church signs

Over the last couple weeks, I have seen a few fun church signs. And though I don't have pictures I wanted to share the fun with you. Here are two of them I remember:

1. Need directions?
Follow Jesus.

2. Tomorrow's forecast:
God will reign and the Son will shine.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Youth Ministry through the Judges: Ehud

The second judge in Israel's history was Ehud, the left-handed. Here are some thoughts/lessons from a youth ministry perspective:

Ehud (Judges 3.12-30)

  • the key phrase throughout Judges appears in v. 12, "Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD." I am always amazed at how often the people of Israel slipped back into sin and disobedience. Then I look at my life and remember I do the same thing. So do you and so do the students you work with. It would not be hard to replace "Israelites" with a student's name: "Once again ___________ did evil in the eyes of the LORD."
  • After having peace for 40 years, they forgot about God and ended up in slavery for 18 years. Teens do the same thing. It might be days, weeks, months or years. They go without struggle or crisis for some period of time and begin to neglect/forget what God has done for them. Often, it is during the easy periods of life that teens do not depend on God.
  • Ehud is pretty sneaky. Since he is left-handed (not normal for those days) he can put the double-edged sword on his right leg and no one will look for it. This gives him an opportunity to sneak it in past the guards. This is like how people sneak candy into a movie theater using a purse or winter jacket. (Just take a poll of your students and I would say at least 90% have snuck something into a movie.)
  • I do not know too many teens who do not like v. 22. "Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it." This verse will always get their attention in class.
  • Whenever you are on a youth trip involving a restroom break, remember this one piece of advice. Learn from the servants of the king in Judges 3.24-25.
  • Ehud brought the people of Israel peace (being used by God, of course) because he was willing to take a chance. He was willing to risk his life to take the "message" (v. 19-20) to the king. Teenagers are willing to take chances. They are willing to risk embarrassment. They are willing to risk being outcast. They are willing to risk giving up free time. They are willing to risk for something they believe in. Teenagers are going to change the world because they are not afraid to be different.

Next up, Shamgar.

(go to YM lessons from Judges to find others)

Photo Friday: evil cat eyes

Cats are evil and this picture proves it. See how their eyes glow funny.

I don't really think cats are evil, I just thought this was an interesting picture.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reflections on: backyard camping

Last night was a first for the family. We had a backyard campout with the boys. It was as close to a perfect evening as I've ever seen for a camping adventure (minus a few non-nature issues). The temp. was high 60's. There were few clouds, if any. The moon was full.

In the afternoon the tent got set up, which helped make it a little easier. After dinner we got all of the boys' things together and our sleeping bags and set up inside the tent. We took out a few of their games to play and had a snack in the tent. It was pretty fun, and special, to do that as a family. After the games, we read our Bible stories and got ready for bed. (At this point, it was well past bedtime for them)

Amy and I tried playing some Boggle up on the deck until the boys fell asleep. But that didn't happen, because they wouldn't fall asleep. I think it was a bit too bright (with the full moon) outside for them to feel like it was bedtime. Plus, we do not live very far from the city ball fields. Last night one of the jr. high age games lasted until around 11:30pm. It is hard to fall asleep with the noise of a baseball game in the background.

Eventually we all fell asleep and woke up at 6:30 - thanks to the sunrise.

As a dad, it was a great night of fun, laughs and memories. Going camping in the backyard is the type of thing I want to never stop doing with my boys. It might be a lot of "work" to set up and get ready, but its worth every minute. Time with my boys is going to go by so quickly.

I'm not sure what things you do with your family (if you are a youth worker and have a family), but I hope you are doing things. Special things. Memory making things. Fun things. Silly things. Out of the normal things. Take some time out of your busy schedule and plan (or just do it spontaneously) to do some stuff just with your family.

The same applies to youth ministry. There are many things a youth worker has to do throughout the year. During the summer, one of those things is spend time with students. Do things that have one purpose - spending time with students. Spending time with students does not always have to be about teaching or lesson focused. Do some fun events. Hang out at the park. Go fishing. Play some ball. Sit and watch others play sports.

Trivia Wednesday #74: The Love Boat

answer #73 - Murphy

questions #74 - Name the boat on TV's The Love Boat.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jr. High Questions: your thoughts

Here are some great questions from jr. highers...

Why are temptations so hard to ignore?
Why is God so big?
Do my friends even care about me?
Why do people act different at school than they do at home or church?

How would you answer them? And I don't mean just the "textbook answer" but a real life answer. You know the difference, don't you. The first is the answer you would use if this were an assignment for a youth ministry class. The second is the one you give to the student sitting across from you, the student who doesn't need a quick fix.

I'd love to hear some of your thoughts. I'll post my thoughts/answers later, but I wanted to put these questions out there to hear what other wisdom there is out there.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fatherhood: from 2 perspectives

Fatherhood. Its such a great word. Its also a scary word. For me, fatherhood represents the highest form of accountability and responsibility. As a father, you have a big job description.

A few of the duties included with fatherhood;
- teaching your children about God
- teaching your children about life
- being an example of being a man
- teaching your children about how to treat others (esp. women) with respect
- modeling a humble faith in God as Lord and Savior
- loving your children

Most men learn a majority of what they know about being a dad from their father. I am one of those men; my dad has taught me many things about fatherhood.

5 Fatherhood lessons learned from my dad:
1. Pray for your children. Pray often and specific.
2. Teach your children to appreciate and know God's Word.
3. Spend time with your children playing sports.
4. You do not have to have all the answers to be a great dad.
5. Even dads need to say "I'm sorry" sometimes.

The second place I learn about fatherhood includs hands-on training. I'm learning about being a dad from being a dad.

5 Fatherhood lessons learned from my children:
1. It is worth a project taking longer when you let your children help you.
2. Your children are a certain age, treat them like such. (don't expect them to be 13, when they are 8. Don't talk to them like their 4 when they are 15)
3. Model how you want your children to live, because they are watching you. And they will repeat what you do.
4. Celebrate accomplishments and milestones, no matter how small they seem to you.
5. Flexibility is part of the job.

As a dad, I'm striving to be better. Every day I learn something new. One thing I try to do with my boys is make them feel special every day. I want them to grow up knowing how much they mean to me (and Amy). But even beyond that, I want them to know that God loves them more than I ever could. Being a dad is a huge responsibility, but its an even bigger honor. God has blessed men with the privilege of leading their family. Being able to help shape a child's view of the world, of God, of family, of love - now that's something you shouldn't take lightly.

What are some lessons you've learned about fatherhood? If you're a wife/mom, what advice would you give to fathers?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Photo Friday: St. Louis Arch

The St. Louis Arch is a bit overwhelming when you stand at the bottom and look up to the top of the 600 foot structure.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #73: beds

answer #72 - goat

question #73 - Which kind of bed folds inside a closet?

Monday, June 09, 2008

A dad has many jobs through the years

As a dad, you have to wear many hats. And over the years, those hats change. Here is a quick look at how a dad's many jobs change over the course of being a dad (of at least what I imagine)...

When you have a toddler:
- toy repairman
- toy car mechanic
- financial planner
- story teller
- cartoon expert
- monster fighter
- comforter
- superman

When you have elementary age:
- math expert
- homework coach
- chauffeur
- wrestling opponent
- friend adviser
- financial adviser
- ball team coach

When you have a teenager:
- chauffeur
- relationship expert
- money tree
- rule enforcer
- college/career adviser
- car mechanic
- listener

Even though a dad's duties with his children changes over the years, I think there are a few things that never change.
1. Always love your wife. Model it to your children.
2. Show your children grace. It will teach them about God's grace.
3. Love, love, love.
4. Always keep the communication lines open. Listen more than you talk.
5. Pray every day for your children.

What would you add to the list of jobs a dad has over the years?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

My top 10 favorite films

I was tagged by Dennis to list my top 10 favorite movies. Here they are:

1. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (a Wookie & Ewoks, do I have to say more?)
2. The Truman Show (reality TV, before there was reality TV)
3. LOTR: Return of the King (great battle scenes)
4. March of the Penguins (I love penguins)
5. Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (some great, thoughtful moments)
6. Groundhog Day (or did I already say that?)
7. X-Men (all 3, plus hopefully Wolverine when it comes out)
8. UHF (classic stuff)
9. Jesus Camp (see my thoughts here)
10. The Princess Bride (inconceivable if anyone hasn't seen this one)

The rules:

  1. List your top ten favorite films (in no particular order).
  2. If you’re tagged, you’ve got to post and tag 3-5 other people.
  3. Give a tag back (some link love) to the one who tagged you in your post
  4. Give a hat tip (HT) to Dan

I'll tag:
1. Jeremy
2. Brad
3. Jason
4. Tim
5. Chris

New Poll: Summer Vacation

The last poll was about your day off during the summer. This time, I'm curious as to how you handle vacation during the summer. The summer is a very full part of a youth workers year. And this can make it difficult to take a vacation (even a small one).

When do you take summer vacation?
- I don't
- before summer starts
- in the middle of summer
- after summer is over
- a few days here, a few days there

In the past, I've taken my vacation sometime in the middle of the summer. It has to be an off week, as to not miss a big event. But this has helped me not be completely drained when the summer months are over.

What are you thoughts? What are the advantages to taking a vacation before, after or during summer?

Poll Results: Off day during the summer

It seems like a few people took an off day from voting on the poll.

So, what does your off day look like during the summer?
33% (1 person) take their normal off day
66% (2 people) take an off day, but it varies from week to week

I hope this summer you get to enjoy some rest with all that ministry you are doing.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Photo Friday: Penguin

I love penguins.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

to quote someone else: Mark Atteberry (Jesus' love)

"We can avoid, defy, elude, evade, rebuff, resist, or reject him (Jesus), but it doesn't change the way he feels about us. Nor does it diminish his desire to bless us."
taken from free refill by Mark Atteberry

Today, remember that there is nothing you can do to make Jesus love you less. Enjoy knowing how much Jesus loves you!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #72: Joseph's brothers

answer #71 - Daryl Hannah

question #72 - To cover his coat with blood, Joseph's brother slew which kind of animal - a cow, goat or sheep?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008