Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I know the Israelites had manna fall from the sky and they ate it. Then they started to complain about it and they woke up to a hailstorm of quail. (Exodus 16) But, I'm not thinkin' this was a future marketing ploy by God. And I don't want to be ungrateful, but I'd like to complain a little. Here goes: who told a local realtor that it would be a good thing to rain down bags of microwave popcorn on my driveway? I think I'd like to toss a few quail their way. Where do Dawn and Victoria live?

I woke up in the morning and someone (I'm assuming Dawn and Victoria paid someone and did not do it themselves) had driven around my neighborhood and tossed out their windows clear cellophane bags with candy corn pictured on it and a twisty tie on top. It's like raining here- not a lot- but my enough to cancel my kids soccer practice last evening. Now there's a wet dewey bag with popcorn on my driveway and I'm supposed to run inside, pop it in my microwave, feed it to my kids, and then call Dawn and Victoria so they can help me sell my house? Somebody went to one too many cheezy marketing seminars.

Dawn and Victoria, please stop throwing food products on my driveway. When my house gets toilet papered, just so you know, we don't use that stuff either. (except my freshman year in college, when I was really poor and I took it with me to school in bags :) Maybe that's it- go to SDSU and huck popcorn at the students on their way to class. Maybe they'll appreciate it more and when they get out of debt, you can help them get into their first home.


Thursday, October 13, 2005


UP: Phone calls from former students who keep on loving Jesus.

DOWN: My phone ringing and e-mail chiming with messages of and from friends, both young and old, who for a moment -or for good- are choosing to put Jesus in a box in the attic along with other things they once thought they loved and displayed prominantly in their lives.

LATELY: More reports of down than up by about 3 to 1.

SO I BREW: The hit and miss of youth ministry and the seemingly inability after over a decade of pouring my blood and sweat and tears into it to make a lasting difference, makes me wonder... it makes me question... it makes me feel like a failure some day. Other days I feel like a swimmer headed up stream and making little progress on an river that is rushing harder and faster for the cliff behind me. So what do I do?

OPTION 1: BLAME GAME. Someone is to blame. There must be a reason. Bad parenting. Sucky youth pastor. Poor friendships. Lack of ownership of truth. The media and music. Somewhere, somehow, there must be someone to blame. Most of the time I want to point the finger at the man in the mirror and think I could have and should have done more. A call comes from someone who says, "I know you're far from this situation now, but I also know you poured a lot of time and energy in to so and so and I thought you'd want to know this is the story today.... yatta yatta." I then call or e-mail to hear the truth from the horses mouth... sure enough. Yatta yatta ain't good and Jesus is in the attic in a box to be dusted off one day or forgotten for good... time will tell I guess. So, I blame myself for my own mistakes, for other's mistakes, and for a failure to seem to have a lasting impact in others and enough personal discipline to employ them myself.

OPTION 2: QUIT. Decide I suck at being a youth pastor and the evidence around me proves it. Start digging ditches for a living where the only thing I have to watch out for is gas lines and water mains. I tried this option once (not the ditch digging but the quitting part). God wouldn't let me. Most days I thank him for that... some days we have a "chat" about it.

OPTION 3: RETHINK THE IF/THEN THEORIES. Rethink the idea that there is a formula. I want there to be a clear "if/then" clause in Scripture. I want there to be like 100 of them. If I love students, then they'll love Jesus. If I love my wife, then marriage will be happy all the time. If I love my kids, then they'll grow up to love me. If I love my God, then serving him at the church will be a great experience. But near as I can tell there are just a few really.
Here's one: Romans 10:9-10 "That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." That's amazing and I'm glad salvation is a promise... but I want there to be an "if/then" for everything- not just the end product. However, more often than not, it seems like I'm told, "if/then/maybe" or "if/then/more likely". If I eat right and excercise more then I'm more likely to have a healthy heart and avoid a heart attack..... but no guarantees. If I teach students the truth about sex and alcohol and lies and hope, then maybe they will decide to trust Jesus with their activities and obey him.
Here's another if then fact we don't often trumpet in the church and perhaps is why so many chuck the faith... cuz it just isn't always fun to love God in a culture that does not. Jesus said to his disciples in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I know it doesn't say "if" or "then", but basically it does. It says, if you love God, then you will have trouble and receive peace. Not 2 points of a message people sign up for much. 1. Trouble. 2. Peace. In fact the first one evidently is enough to get believers to chuck Jesus before he can give the second.

CONCLUSION; Quitting won't fix it. Ie: If I quit then more students will live for Jesus. (Lord I hope not). Blame game won't work. If I blame so and so, then the problem will get better. Wrong again. My only option appears to be Rethink. Rethink faith and trust and hope and what it means to serve God today and love Jesus as best I can. Accept his grace for my failures. Trust that God is not finished working in or through me and pray that somehow, some way, the seeds of his grace and truth and mercy I try and plant in and through youth minstry find a few fertile hearts to grow abundantly in Him. To this I press on.... I think.


Saturday, October 08, 2005


Reason number 1001 why I do not recommend swallowing your food whole. Here's a hysterical article from the boston globe. By Denise Kalette, Associated Press Writer | October 6, 2005
A 13-foot Burmese python recently burst after it apparently tried to swallow a live, six-foot alligator whole, authorities said.
The incident has heightened biologists' fears that the nonnative snakes could threaten a host of other animal species in the Everglades. "It means nothing in the Everglades is safe from pythons, a top-down predator," said Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida wildlife professor. Over the years, many pythons have been abandoned in the Everglades by pet owners. The gory evidence of the latest gator-python encounter -- the fourth documented in the past three years -- was discovered and photographed last week by a helicopter pilot and wildlife researcher. The snake was found with the gator's hindquarters protruding from its midsection. Mazzotti said the alligator may have clawed at the python's stomach as the snake tried to digest it. In previous incidents, the alligator won or the battle was an apparent draw. "There had been some hope that alligators can control Burmese pythons," Mazzotti said. "This indicates to me it's going to be an even draw. Sometimes alligators are going to win and sometimes the python will win." It is unknown how many pythons are competing with the thousands of alligators in the Everglades, but at least 150 have been captured in the past two years, said Joe Wasilewski, a wildlife biologist and crocodile tracker. Pythons could threaten many smaller species that conservationists are trying to protect, including other reptiles, otters, squirrels, woodstorks and sparrows, Mazzotti said. Wasilewski said a 10- or 20-foot python also could pose a risk to an unwary human, especially a child. He added, however, "I don't think this is an imminent threat. This is not a `Be afraid, be very afraid' situation.'"


Sunday, October 02, 2005


I saw three signs in like two hours. One made me laugh. One made me mad. One made my heart smile. Here they are in the order of their appearing.

A FUNNY SIGN: On my way to search for coffee this morning I ended up walking down a 3 foot wide section of concrete that weaved it’s way through a planter bed. When I got to the other side there was a post placed right in the middle of the path with a sign bolted to it that read: “not a walkway”. I laughed. Call it what you want, but you made a sidewalk through the planter box… the very fact that you need a sign like this should be a problem. Not sure why? But someone has way too much time and money on their hands. Wish I had my digital camera with me.

A NOT SO FUNNY SIGN: I found coffee.. Now, I'm sitting in the Sheraton at the National Youth Workers conference in Sacramento put on by Youth Specialties because their lobby has free internet (woo hoo! the hyatt charges 10 bucks a day). Anyway, out the door is a guy in a white hat and black vest with a with the words "JESUS SAVES" in big huge yellow letters on his chest. Really wish I had my digital camera with me now. Anyway... he has a sign about the size of an interstate billboard that reads, "HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN".

I don't understand people like this. I've seen them hundreds of times on campus in college and around events I've been to around the country. They always drive big trucks with signs and carry banners and sometimes they scream and sometimes they don't. But never once in all my life have I ever seen any of them with a sign that reads, "I'M A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE."… or “FORGIVEN. WILLING TO SHARE.” It's always about everyone but the guy in the mirror. I have a hard time stomaching judgmental spirits that lack humility.

A HAPPY HEART SIGN: After I left coffee at the Sheraton- I headed to this morning’s general session. On the walls of the convention center halls there were 2 foot by 2 foot signs people made and taped to the walls. There was one that read, “Brian Christopher Berry. I love you. Thanks for being an amazing leader, mentor, and friend.” I really really wish I had my digital camera now. Next year I’m bringin it. Buch- you warmed my heart... you rock.



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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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