I came home today to find out that it only took 10 days for our passports to arrive. Sweet.
We're good to go. I heard someone say that the turn around time is quick because we are having China make them. If that's true, there is something seriously wrong and weird with that idea on multiple levels. What's the point of paying other countries to make our passports so we can visit their country. That's crazy.
Either way, everyone now has one. One more Uganda detail now behind us.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I came home today to find out that it only took 10 days for our passports to arrive. Sweet.
Last night I had to go to seminary class. Shannon called me and told me that she and the boys were going to go find free ice cream from Ben and Jerry's on free scoop day. I said sounds like fun, but I gotta go to class. That sucks.
Anyway, I came home and Shannon told me I needed to talk to my boys. I asked, "Why?". She said because of the conversation in the car on the way to ice cream that followed Jake's learning about farm animals in kindergarten this week. Here's how it went:
JAKE: Mommy, did you know that only mommy cows have udders?
MOM: Yes. They feed their babies with the milk from them.
JAKE: Only mommies can give their babies milk?
MOM: Yes... (more talk about Udders and boobies and feeding babies and stuff followed this line of thinking for a while evidently and caused Jake to proclaim...)
JAKE: Mommy cows don't have pee pees.
MOM: No they don't.
JAKE: Does that mean you don't have a pee pee Mommy?
MOM: No, I don't.
JAKE: After clearly a confusing barrage of thoughts raced through his head, he asked, "Were do you go pee? Does it come out the same hole you go poop?"
MOM: No, um I have a different spot for that. You should talk to your dad I think.
This week Neil Diamond made the front page thanks to American Idol Neil Diamond week. Tonight I came home from youth group to see him performing on my television set. I'm so glad Neil finally made the cool cat list.
This is a little known weird fact about me- especially here in San Diego- but Neil and I are close. I used to joke around about it a lot with my old youth ministry and torture my students by making them listen to Neil while we drove around in the church bus. But since I have no bus, I have a limited audience to torture while driving. I think I might have to add some Neil to our weekend service playlist.
here's how tight Neil and I are:
- I saw Neil in concert twice as a kid with my parents. He actually encored "Forever in Blue Jeans" 13 times at one concert I was at.
- A friend of mine in college and I once performed Forever in Blue Jeans in a talent show just for fun.
- Every year, it was a law, that once headed back across the border from Mexico, Neils version of "America" must be played.
- A few years ago, I spoke for a friend in his church, and he sent me an itunes store credit for Neils latest album. He knows how much Neil and I bond.
- Several years ago I saw Neil in concert in San Jose. I think I was the only one under 30 in the room.
- Now, he's got a new album coming out in 6 days and he's coming to San Diego on October 7. Tickets are on sale now anywhere from $125 for the cheap seats to $2200 for front row seats. WOW!!!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
One of the traditions of our desert trip has been some team building activities.
Year 1 was a task that involved taking a 20ft 4x4 and moving it though a set course in the vertical position, using only ropes to keep it off the ground and upright.
Year 2 was a GPS activity where we had hidden pieces to a giant trebuchet in the rocks a mile from camp and students had to find them using only a GPS coordinate. They then returned to camp with them and we assembled the pieces and it to chuck huge rocks until we broke it, and then we burned it in a massive bomb fire!!!
Year 3 (this year) was a PVC pipe tallest freestanding structure contest and two other pipe games too in the morning
and then a rope maze game later in the day:
While I loved all of them, this years were more mentally than physically challenging. But nothing can top the depth and teaching impact that the rope maze had. It was awesome! By far my favorite team building activity I've ever done or facilitated... and that's saying a lot cuz the 4x4 one from year one was sweet. But, I'd do the rope grid thing again in a heart beat. It was so awesome that I blogged an entire post on how to repeat it for your own youth group or family event on the PDYM Community Blog. You should check it out here. It's so worth it!!!
Wrote another article for Simply Youth Ministry that surfaced today.
Here's a bite size chunk:
Some surprises are fun. An unexpected birthday bash with your best friends. Christmas presents. The prize winning bottle cap from a Snapple Contest. A Willy Wonka golden ticket. Your boss gives you a raise because you are doing such a great job at the church. (In that case, it would be a miracle.)
While all of these surprises are very cool, they are also very rare. But over my years as a youth pastor, I’ve come to realize that most of the surprises youth pastors experience in ministry are not this much fun.
Surprise! We can’t find one kid at the theme park and we’re supposed to be on the bus and headed home now.
Surprise! We don’t really have a purpose for this meeting we just called.
Surprise! You’re leading this week’s teaching.
Surprise! Your annual budget reports are due on Friday.
Surprise! Small Groups are canceled for this week.
Surprise! Our summer camp is one month away and it’s going to cost $450.
Surprise! Our senior pastor just resigned.
If you’ve ever experienced one of those surprises, then you’ll agree with me—they are overrated and not much fun. So in the name of healthy surprises, here are some ways to keep from catching your team off-guard.
You can read the whole article here.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
That's what I'm expecting this weekend on our annual high school mens trip to the desert.
This year we're taking 23 high school young men and 9 adult mentors from our church along with 12 students and 3 adults from a church across town. 47 total. This is the one trip I vowed that I'd never stop doing as long as God has me in youth ministry. The women go to a resort on the beach and the guys to the desert. I don't really care where they each go, but getting them alone with one another and inviting God to change them into men and women whose lives are fully devoted to Jesus- that's a non-negotiable for me.
In preparation, today I went around and bought duct tape, buckets, rope, and stakes needed for some team building activities we're doing.
Then I went to costco with some of our team and bought the food. $1012 to feed 47 men in the desert for 2 days. Dinner number one:
- 38 lbs of steak are soaking in two 5 gallon buckets of yoshida's terriaki sauce in the church fridge right now awaiting a HUGE bbq.
- 40 lbs of potatoes are in my oven baking and awaiting aluminum foil so they can be re-heated in the fire coals.
- 10 loaves of french bread are ready for garlic, butter, and some heat.
- A bucket of carrot sticks are awaiting a vat of ranch dressing.
This year we have a 50 man tent to set up army/circus elephant style, tons of firewood to create the ultimate bonfires, a shooting range for both 22's and shotguns, a battle planned with 30 sling shots firing paintballs, and several talks lined up on Moses and what God taught him in the desert.
Should be a memory maker.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
This question comes in waves, maybe every 6 months or so. It's been mentioned 4x to me in the last week.
The last time I gave it any real thought I was looking for a job and in a state of transition and I actually seriously considered making a run at this. I even pitched it to some of my friends with a start up proposal because people kept asking me and I thought maybe God was trying to tell me something. Yeah, well since I'm not a church planter, guess you can decipher for yourself where that ended up. God said no.
What's the answer today: "Um, I have no idea if or when this will ever happen."
There ya go. Let me know if God tells you something he's not told me. I'd appreciate the advance notice ya know.
I saw this on the 268 generation blog. It's how they started a sold out woship event called Passion Atlanta last weekend. Cool reading to do for yourself in silence today or a great way to start a worship service I think. Kinda freaked me out a little to see my name in the last paragraph though. Made me read it a few times.
Welcome To The Silence.
Hi. Welcome To The Silence. Life Is So Loud Sometimes And Just Being Still Even For A Few Minutes Can Powerfully Rearrange Everything That’s Assaulting Our Minds And Our Hearts. Especially When God Is In View. After All He’s The One Who Said Be Still And Know That I Am God.
So We’ve Turned The Volume Down As We Start What We Hope Will Be A Beautiful And Raucous Night In The Hopes That The Things We Need To Hear Most Will Become Really Really Loud
God Knows Who You Are. Where You Are. And He Knows What You Need In This Moment. He Is Not Looking At A Massive Crowd But The Eyes Of The One Who So Easily Spoke Galaxies Into Their Places Are Looking Right At You. Amazingly He Knows Your Name And The Color He Painted Your Eyes. And He Knows What Makes You Laugh And What Makes You Cry. He Is Not Distracted By What You Think About Him. Or What You Want Him To Think About You. He Knows What He Thinks About You And How He Feels. And He Wants To Say Something To You In The Silence.
I Love You.
Let That Sink Into The Silence And The Stillness And The Soil Of Your Heart.
God Loves You. Oh Don’t Believe The Words On The Screen Or The Words Of Somebody. You Don’t Have To Take It From A Third Party. No. The Father Has Spoken Directly To You. The God Of All Creation Is Engaging You In A Pretty Stunning Conversation. And As Is Always The Case God Is Speaking First. Not Waiting For Your Proposal Or Assessment Of Where You Feel You Are. Or If You’ll Ever Be As Amazing As Something Deep Inside Tells You That You Were Meant To Be. He Isn’t Waiting To Hear About All Your Screw Ups Or Your Great Deeds To Make It Up. No God Is Eager To Share His Take On You.
Here It Is.
Both Are True And Both Things Set Him In Motion Shaping History With A Story Fueled By Unstoppable Grace. You See God Was Not Shut Down By Our Failure. Nor Did The Consequences Of Our Rebellion Dim His Beautiful Heart Of Love. No We Were The Ones Shut Down When Sin Caused Our Souls To Die. And Die We Did. It’s Bad News Death.
Because Dead People Can’t See. Can’t Breathe. Can’t Help Themselves. Dead People Can’t Do Anything. That Is Why They Call Him Savior. When We Were Dead And Could Not Touch God Jesus Came Down And Touched Us. It Is The Most Phenomenal Thing That Has Or Will Ever Happen To You And Me. Divinity Rushing Into Humanity. God In Skin Marching Steadily To The Beat Of His Own Love. And Nothing And No One Could Alter His Course.
We Were A Mess.
Yet We Were Deeply Loved.
Because Of Our Mess His Embrace Would Demand A Cost Beyond Compare. Because Love Was Accompanied By Justice And Justice Demanded Someone Cover Our Debt Of Sin And Shame Someone Would Have To Stand In Our Place And Pay Our Fee. Someone Would Have To Come To Our Aid.
Even If We Wanted To Pay Off The Price Required By Our Mistakes It Could Not Be So. Dead Men Cannot Stand Up For Themselves. So Another Would Have To Take Our Blows And Swallow The Death Our Sins Deserved. But Who Could Do That For Us. It Couldn’t Be Just Anyone. Because If The Price To Be Offered Was Death The Price Would Have To Be Exacted From Someone Who Was Alive. Yet The Whole World Was Dead In Darkness Until A Miracle Happened And A Light Shone Above And In A Manger.
In The Night The Hope Of Us All Was Born Alive. The Only One Ever Born Alive. And The Only One To Live A Spotless Life Of Pure Faith In God. So On The Friday We Call Good Jesus Was The Only One At The Cross Who Could Possibly Die. Because He Was The Only Living Soul On Plane Earth. Hallelujah. Jesus Was Alive When God’s Love Drove The Nails Our Sin Screamed Out For Into His Hands And Feet. Nails Of Love Punctured Flesh As Blood So Precious Streamed Down To The Ground. A Puddle Of Incomprehensible Love Soaking Into The Soil.
His Innocence Now Gone He Gasped And Cried. Purity Now Covered In Muck And Shame. And When The Sun Fully Scorched The Beautiful Bloom Of Grace Jesus Could No Longer Suck In Enough Air To Breathe. And Finally His Heart Stopped Beating.
In An Instant All Hell Broke Lose And Darkness Covered The Moment As His Lifeless Mangled Body Hung For All The World To See. God’s Undeniable Expression.
I Love You.
His Death Shocked Everyone In Heaven And Hell. Everyone Except His Father Who Was On A Mission Of Love And Saw This Day Coming From Before There Was Time. But All Else Missed It. That’s Why Some Wept In Disbelief As Others Exuberantly Shouted Death Has Won.
The Darkness Threw A Party. But As It Turned Out Hell Partied Too Soon. God’s Story Was Just Getting Interesting As He Spoke To His Son. Rise Up Son I Love. Rise Up Oh My Son.
From The Clasp Of Death Christ Rose His Father Exhaling Glorious Breathe And Neverending Life Into His Lungs. So Tonight We Will Throw The Party And Invite The World To Come. Because Our God Is Mighty To Save. And The Christ We Celebrate Has Overwhelmed The Grave.
He Is Here Now. This Same Jesus Is Here Now. Offering His Life To All Men. To You. Not You Trying To Live A Better Life. But Christ Living His Life Inside Of You. If You Want A Big Theological Word It’s Called Incarnation. It You Need A Simpler Word It’s Called The Gospel Of Grace. Christ In You The Hope Of Glory.
I Don’t Know What The Loudness Has Been Pumping Into Your Heart And Brian. I Don’t Know If You’ve Been Dragged Into The Depths Of Despair Or If Your Standing On The Deceptive Heights Of Your Own Doing. But In The Stillness Hear This. A Miraculous Offer Is On The Table. God’s Love For You Moved Christ To Take Your Blows So That Now In Him You Can Stand Forgiven And Alive.
And There’s More. Christ Lives To Be In You What You Alone Could Never Be.
Monday, April 21, 2008
This means that I'm ok with a lot of music styles and good with learning what they're listening to and why. I frequently ask to give whatever their ipod has on it a listen. I'm good with hearing about their hobbies and understanding the things they like to do are not the same things I like or liked to do. I'm ok with sucking at texting or being a lousy musician or the fact that I can't dance or talking about tatoos or discussing why it is they like the rod they just stuck through their tongue or if they can pull the one out of their lip to shoot soda out of the hole it leaves behind... etc. I'm good with a lot of our differences I think.
However, one of the cultural trends I can't get my mind around and constantly hound students for is the sag that some of our guys have going on. (For the record, I'm kinda glad that most of the girls stopped wearing the low cut jeans and most of our guys stopped wearing their sisters pants too. Yep, that emo thing killed me.) Anyway, I'm ok with some droop in your drawers or a little freedom from a butt hugger wrangler jean trend, and I'm not sure we should outlaw the sag like some town in Georgia or Alabama or something I recently read about. But I will say, I don't get why anyone would be willing to wear a belt around their knees to keep their pants up or be so dedicated to the droopy drawer that they'll walk 4 steps, pull them up, and then walk 4 more steps. I'm ruthless about doggin' the students in my group who insist that plumber crack is cool and that I should be fully aware of the color of their boxers. Last week one student was sitting on a stool in our small groups and I kid you not, his boxers were so visible that when he sat down, his pants were not even touching the chair.
So tonight, when my dad sent me this pic. I laughed out loud. This cartoon kills me.
1. Cuz I find this kind of stuff on my friends blogs.
2. Cuz my dad sends me links like this.
Who has time for tv with friends like that?
I'm a TV, movie, pop-culture trivia idiot. I don't have any grand moral reason why I don't care about or know much about this stuff. I've seen lots of shows once or twice, but I can't seem to follow faithfully pretty much any show. I bounce around here and there, but I just find myself absorbed in other things. Some of which are just as pointless and time consuming.
When I was 25, my claim to fame was getting carded for buying spray paint for a church sign with a bunch of students from our youth group.
Well, today I was on the phone and answering questions for a mom about a spring retreat that we're going on this next weekend, and after about a 50 questions, I told her that I would feel safe taking my own kids on the trip. She then said, "Oh, you have kids? You sound like you're 17".
I wanted to say, "No freaking way!! That's so cool... Yeah, I'm the youth pastor you send your kid to on the weekends and I'm 17?" But I restrained my balding head and just told her I was 36 and had been taking high school students on retreats for 14 years now.
Evidently I need more face time in the main service. Several months ago I did a funeral with a family that has attended journey for like 8 years, and didn't even know we had a youth ministry and just last weekend I answered a bunch of questions for a mom that had missed the information we put in every easter program and the 2 weekends following. Maybe we need like a student ministries booth every weekend or something.
On our families end, TJ and Tyler and I went to help a family move from Journey on Saturday morning. They, along with 3 other high school students helped us to raise $250 for our team.
Today, after school we went to go get our passports (Side note, um... TJ and Tyler's passports had expired, Jake never had one, and Shannon and I's were stolen out of my car, so um $455 later, we were done with passports. Ouch.) Anyway, my family took in a bunch of recycling we started collecting at church. 3 weeks worth of cans and bottles amounted to a $50 loot. I never thought I'd be finding $50 in the trash, but over this school year alone, I bet my family has collected about $400 in cans and bottles for the kids school or our church.
I'm going to start sending some letters out this week to some of our friends and family who might want to help us change the world, a few kids at a time. I'll post that letter on this site soon for all of you who drop in here and maybe feel like you've been a part of my family's journey while you follow my blog. That way you can join in helping us send our family to Uganda too if you want.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Whenever I go watch TJ play a musical instrument, I'm reminded that I'm not smarter than a 5th grader. Tonight was a talent show at his school, and since TJ has made advanced band at school, he and his classmates played 2 songs. When it was over, I said, "I could do that". But I only said that so he could remind me, "No you can't." I think it's so fun that I'm musically stupid and my kids are not and love reminding them how proud I am that they can read music and stuff. I so wish I could. It's my wife's fault that they can. If they can kick a soccer ball, that's my fault.
Hey Gary and Cheryl. I spent your birthday money. I bombed the hills with Zeus tonight near my house. Tons of fun. Can't wait to see my students faces when they see my new ride. Every Sunday night I steal Summer's board when she brings hers to youth group and she always yells at me and says that she wants to ride it and I never let her. Now, she can fight me for mine. Thanks!
This morning on the way to school TJ screams, "THERE SHE IS. STOP!"
I stopped and said, "there who is?"
The mom duck.
For reals. There she was. I snapped a pic. She is/was raising at least 11 ducks in our coyote infested neighborhood. She left one in our yard. So now she'd down to 10. I wish you luck oh duck mom. If you need help, we live on the last house on the right before the park and my wife will save you.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
(my cell rings. It's my wife)
Hey babe, how's your day going?
Fine. Thanks. What's up?
There's a baby duck in our backyard.
There is a little duckling in our backyard. What should I do?
Um, I don't know. Catch it.
Then what am I going to do with it?
Put it in a box and call someone.
Who am I gonna call?
I don't know, Seaworld? Take the duck down there and give it to them.'
I don't have time to drive to Seaworld.
(my office now floods with high school girls who overhear my conversation from across the hall)
I want the duck.
Yeah she wants a duck.
Let me ask my dad.... um... my dad says I can't have a duck because the dog will eat it.
Brian, this duck is cornered outside and like hiding in our backyard. I think Zeus has it scared.
(coworker now enters the office)
Call project wild life. They'll come get the bird.
Who knows this kinda stuff? No wonder you work with junior high.
(An hour later)
Ok, I called project wildlife. They said they'd call me back. But I have to go to Jakes t-ball game so I put the duck on the porch in a cardboard box with a towel to keep it warm. Any other ideas?
Give it some water?
Um... like a dish or something.
They said they'd come by and look at it.
I said it was brown and yellow and fuzzy.
They said it sounded domestic and they don't take domestic birds.
I told them it wasn't yellow. I'm just kidding. It was just brown then.
(2 hours later)
The duck is gone.
Yeah they took the duck and left me a brochure about project wildlife. Today I saved a duck.
Good for you babe. You win an award.
it's not every day you save duck's life. (no, we have no photo proof. I was not home and my wife doesn't take pictures evidently)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
So I googled it in class and found it on her website here. She has put a lot of energy into this because this book study she's doing with author Eckhart Tolle on his book, A New Earth ("awakening to your life's purpose" is the subtitle which I swear I've heard before somewhere!), is available to be downloaded for free in one of 3 forms: audio, video, or written transcript.
I downloaded the transcript from episode one and read it during my extremely engaging seminary class. I found this piece very interesting. Seems to be along the lines of Dan Kimball's, "They like Jesus, but not the the church" pretty well. This would make great material to get students talking in a discussion group on what they believe. It is super new age and trendy and full of cultural norms we need to address. It is very western trendy all religions should just like each other in a happy soup bowl- a thought the middle east will never ever buy into, but that western cultures seem to think is very natural. I just might download the whole thing and use it to frame a whole series of talks that might really get students thinking. Here's several paragraphs from a 43 page PDF transcript that capsulate it pretty well in the framework of a question a viewer asked live via skype I think:
KELLY (ILLINOIS): Well, my question is regarding religion and spirituality.
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Big one.
KELLY (ILLINOIS): I had a Catholic upbringing, I married a Catholic, and we're raising our children this way. In reading books such as Tolle's, I've really, it's really opened my eyes up to a new way of thinking: a new form of spirituality that doesn't always align with the teachings of Christianity. So my question is to you, Oprah, how have you reconciled these spiritual teachings with your Christian beliefs?
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Oh, the question's to me. I was resting knowing it was going to about—I've reconciled it because I was able to open my mind about the absolute indescribable hugeness of that which we call "God." I took God out of the box because I grew up in the Baptist church and there were, you know, rules and, you know, belief systems in doctrine.
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): And I happened to be sitting in church in my late 20s, and I was going to this church where you had to get there at 8 in the morning or you couldn't get a seat. And a very charismatic minister, and everybody was just, you know, into the sermon. And this great minister was preaching about how great God was and how omniscient and omnipresent, and God is everything.
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): And then he said, "And the lord thy God is a jealous God." And I was, you know, caught up in the rapture of that moment until he said "jealous." And something struck me. And I was like, I think about 27 or 28. I was thinking, "God is all, God is omnipresent, God is—and God's also jealous? God is jealous of me?"
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): And something about that didn't feel right in my spirit because I believe that God is love and that God is in all things. And so that's when the search for something more than doctrine started to stir within me. And I love this quote that Eckhart has, this is one of my favorite quotes in Chapter 1, where he says, "Man made 'God' in his own image. The eternal, the infinite, and unnamable was reduced to a mental idol that you had to believe in and worship as 'my god' or 'our god.'"
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Now I think that's very eloquently put by Eckhart Tolle in Chapter 1. But that is exactly what I was feeling when I was, you know, sitting in church that Sunday listening to the preacher. And you know, it's been a journey to get to the place where I understand, as I said on the preshow here, that what I believe is that Jesus came to show us Christ consciousness.
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): That Jesus came to show us the way of the heart and that what Jesus was saying that to show us the higher consciousness that we're all talking about here. Jesus came to say, "Look I'm going to live in the body, in the human body, and I'm going to show you how it's done." These are some principles and some laws that you can use to live by to know that way. And when I started to recognize that, that Jesus didn't come—in my belief, even as a Christian, I don't believe that Jesus came to start Christianity.
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): So that was also very helpful to me. And as I said earlier in the preshow here, there is a wonderful book called Discover the Power Within You by Eric Butterworth, which helped me reconcile the two. So that might be really good for those of you who are Christian and trying to balance the two. What would you say?
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Because one of the things that Eckhart says in the beginning of this book on page 6 is, "This book's main purpose is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind, or to try to convince you of anything, but to bring about a shift in consciousness, that is to say, to awaken." He says that on page 6. And one of the reasons why I appreciate him so much is because he truly isn't out to become your next guru. He doesn't want, you know, all of you who are online with us tonight and those millions who will now hear about this book, he's not interested in being your guru, correct?
ECKHART TOLLE (AUTHOR A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE): Yes, correct.
OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Yeah. How would you respond to that? That's one of the biggest questions that we have coming into our message boards about the same thing that Kelly is addressing here from Alton about spirituality and religion. This is not trying to tell you how to believe. And how do you advise people to reconcile this with their religious beliefs?
ECKHART TOLLE (AUTHOR A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE): Well, religion can be an open doorway into spirituality, and religion can be a closed door. It prevents you from going deeper. So that I love reading the New Testament, and I also read the Old Testament. Sometimes there's some incredible jewels in there. And when I went through this inner transformation, and for the first time accidentally I picked up a copy of the New Testament at my mother's place.
ECKHART TOLLE (AUTHOR A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE): And I started reading, and I immediately recognized the deep truths that is there, and I realized the truth that is deeper, that is expressed in what Jesus said, is much deeper than what you, how the church interprets it. There's a depth to it. And it reflects your own depth when you read it. So there's no conflict between this teaching, which is purely spiritual, and any religion.
ECKHART TOLLE (AUTHOR A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE): Because if you go deep enough in your religion, then you all get to the same place. It's a question of going deeper, so there's no conflict here. The important thing is that religion doesn't become an ideology—so, "I believe this." And the moment you say "only my belief" or "our belief" is true, and you deny other people's beliefs, then you've adopted an ideology. And then religion becomes a closed door. But, potentially, religion can also be an open door.
This fine day made me want to buy this bike. I got some money for my birthday, and I think I just might need a cruiser now. My old mountain bike is 15+ years old and makes some pretty sad creaking noises, and it's time for a smooth flowing ratrod electra alluminum cruiser to hang at the beach I think!
Then Sunday was a jam packed day at church and on Monday I went with TJ to the zoo for his 5th grade trip. It was fun to hang out with him in what is sadly, his final 2 months of elementary school. As we get closer to graduation, my wife cries a little more each day. Her baby boy is headed for middle school and well, the tears are flowing.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
I read this article in Time last week. It's about the changes that founder of starbucks is instituting to get his company out of a financial slump. Here's what's in the mix:
- They are replacing all their espresso machines with ones that are lower so you can have eye contact with the baristas again.
- You may have noticed all their chalk boards have the same sign on them as of late- either we make your drink perfect, everytime, or we'll make it again.
- They are returning to grinding coffee in their stores so it smells like a coffee shop and so stuff is "fresh". I noticed a sign that says they are brewing coffee every 30 minutes now.
- Evidently smell is a big deal cuz they are also getting rid of those ovens they just put in to warm your breakfast sandwich... which is also going to go bye bye cuz they say they smell like a McDonalds.
(Which by the way is my advice to starbucks.) Why don't you have recycle cans for the cups? You serve like 2 million cups a day and all your paper cups and sleeves are 100% recyclable. I'm sure it's cuz it costs money to save trees and cuz people are stupid and will throw all kinds of trash in there too, but there's gotta be a way to recycle all that paper, even if most of the cups are leaving the store, some stay and drink them.
There you have it. Starbucks saves me money.
Now what can I do to help my local coffee shop that I frequent more often to hook a brother up and save me some money. I have to pay to park on the street in front of them (a buck an hour) and then they don't give me a cup discount and they charge me for syrup. Oh the expense I go to for some local love. :)
I am planning a trip to Uganda this summer with our high school students and I have had to make a few international calls and faxes to set up an overnight in London and such. And, since I use Skype to talk to my sister and her family who live in Kampala, I never really have a need to do much international calling. In fact, since I don't do a lot of international travel and since we have e-mail and since I have very few friends oversees and since I sound like a loser now...
I was stoked to find this site. You just type in the country you're calling from, where you are calling to, and the number you want to call and walla... it tells you what to do and even what might be wrong if you've typed in a phone number that doesn't seem right for that area of the world. So cool.
If you need some help. You should hit it up.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
I've been reading some blogs recently and for whatever reason, I keep hearing puns and tongue-in-cheek jokes about churches doing helicopter egg drops for an Easter outreach event. I figured there was like one famous church that did this and made some CNN story and they probably had some guy on staff who flys a helicopter for fun and did it for free or something. So finally, feeling totally out of the coolness loop, I googled church helicopter egg drop and got 116,000 hits!!!! The first few pages of which appear to be totally on subject.
There are youtube videos of this.
There are legitimate news articles from papers and tv channels and stuff.
My friend Eugene ranted about it here. And referenced it again here.
- side note: about Eugene- - you should read his blog. The guy is an amazing thinker, a great risk taker, a man of faith, an inspiration to me, Spirit led, and gifted beyond most people I know. He's a church planter, business man, entrepreneur, dreamer, and visionary currently in Seattle with his wife and kids. My favorite memory at Davis with Eugene ---who was a double major and graduated in like 3 years- dude is smart and like never sleeps--- anyway, he was an hour into taking a 3 hour final exam when he figured out he was super tired, and couldn't think straight. So he leaned over to his classmate next to him and asked if he'd wake him up in 20 minutes. His classmate looked all crazy at him and said yes. Eugene is the only guy I know who has ever taken a power nap in a final. Crazy. I tell you the guy is crazy and you should read his stuff)
I guess watching a helicopter bomb a field in eggs is a draw for thousands from the community. I'm not sure what they are made of, but evidently they don't break from 2000 feet up.
I found this church blog post where the comments say that people were pushing, stealing eggs from little kids, and leaving crying due to the fact that they had 3000 people more than they expected and only 18,000 eggs to drop and not enough for a kid to feel blessed by the Jesus Helicopter Bunny thingamajig. Happy Easter!
Craziness. I'm gonna pitch this in our next staff meeting as an idea for 4th of july. Maybe we can helicopter bomb the 1.2 million people who will be on the beach with little church pamphlets explaining how to get over a serious hang over and what to do if you end up drunk and naked in the morning and don't remember how you got there. We could be a full service church then.
Monday, April 07, 2008
I just finished reading How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and the late, Donald D. Clifton. It's a book that's been out for several years, first printed in 2004 and per my dust jacket on the printing I have, it has sold over a half million copies. So as always, I'm a bit behind the curve on this one. It's an easy read (110ish pages) and ignoring the fact that I've had it on my shelf for close to 9 months, I read it in a few hours today.
The book has a basic premise:
Everyone has an invisible bucket. This bucket is filled by encouragement and positive experiences and drained by negativity and destructive experiences. Every interaction we have each day either fills a bucket or drains one- both ours and the other(s) with which we are interacting with.So, as I read the book today, and as I cleaned and organized my garage, I pondered my bucket. What drains it. What fills it.
The principle is fairly simple then. The more you can do as a parent, coworker, boss, spouse, friend, etc... to encourage the best in others, the better all of you will feel and the more productive, enjoyable, and effective your lives will be. The authors do recognize that some constructive criticism is needed in all our lives, but they argue that studies prove that reinforcing the positive in people will result in quicker, more long lasting changes in the negative behaviors than harping on the bad stuff, any day of the week. So, bottom line, learn what fills and drains people's buckets- including
your own- and start filling today.
- money- managing it, spending it, saving it, counting it, entering it in my computer, paying bills- pretty much anything money related I hate and drains me.
- messy, unorganized spaces
- managing the clock
- doing what we've always done
- tyranny of the urgent
- working on a team, but feeling alone
- haunting tasks I can never seem to get to, but need to be done
- negative meetings
- academics without application
- criticism without context
- time to think and plan
- hazelnut americanos
- peppermint stick ice cream
- leisure reading
- clean, well organized spaces
- agenda free time with family and friends
- get away weekends with Shannon.
- time with my boys- where we get to be boys.
- being outside, especially in the mountains, near a lake, or by the ocean
- building stuff. Pretty much anything will work. But I like to build stuff. I think if God ever calls me out of full time working with the local church, it will be into Habitat for Humanity. I love to build stuff.
- creating things
- naps and rest
- turning something unwanted into something beautiful
- writing and developing
- future thinking
- the vision of what could and should be
- teaching when it helps people to "get it" and results in action
- When my mother-in-law offered to feed the boys, make lunches, and drive them to school so I could sleep in, my bucket began to fill.
- When I woke up at 10am and then made some coffee, ate some cereal, and read for an hour, my bucket kept filling.
- When I built new drawers and cleaned my garage, my bucket got fuller.
- When I shut the garage door and went for a drive with my wife, got an iced hazelnut americano, and picked up our kids from school, my bucket was doing just fine thank you.
- When I ate dinner with my family and gave the boys hair cuts, my bucket kept rising.
- When I ignored my e-mails and phone and went for a run, my bucket was almost full.
- Then when I turned on my computer and made the mistake of checking my e-mail and found one from someone wanting to meet with me about a complaint.... my bucket sprung a leak.
SIDE NOTE: In the last chapter, this book offers 5 suggestions as to how to fill up people's buckets, including your own. Interesting enough, several of them parallel Gary Chapman's 5 love languages pretty easily.
1. Prevent Bucket Dipping (this one doesn't fit any one of Chapman's 5 very well)
2. Shine a light on what is right (this is Chapman's words of affirmation.)
3. Make best friends (this chapter is written close to Chapman's time spent)
4. Give unexpectedly (this is Chapman's gifts in kind )
5. Reverse the Golden Rule (this is basically a call to learn the love language of others around you and to give affirmation to them in that language)
Well, if you read my blog tonight or early in the morning, I just called my local jamba juice and confirmed the rumor that I read on the internet last week is true. Free jamba breakfast between 6am and 10am on Tuesday, April 8th. I'm going with my boys in the morning before school. Hope the line isn't around the block.
Friday, April 04, 2008
I recently got a newsletter e-mailed to me form The Table Group- that had an article entitled "The Greatest Leader in America" by the highly acclaimed leadership guru/author- Patrick Lencioni.
THIS IS WELL WORTH THE READ. MAYBE EVEN TWICE.
I have been asked on a number of occasions, by journalists and curious clients, whom I believe to be the greatest leader in the America. And I usually respond with my own question. “Are you asking for the name of a famous leader?” This usually leads to a fair amount of confusion, until I explain that the best leader in the world is probably relatively obscure.
You see, I believe that the best leader out there is probably running a small or medium-sized company in a small or medium-sized town. Or maybe they‘re running an elementary school or a church. Moreover, that leader‘s obscurity is not a function of mediocrity, but rather a disdain for unnecessary attention and adulation. He or she would certainly prefer to have a stable home life, motivated employees, and happy customers—in that order—over public recognition.
A skeptic might well respond, “But if this person really were the greatest leader, wouldn‘t his or her company eventually grow in size and stature, and become known for being great?” And the answer to that fine question would be, “Not necessarily.”
A great company should achieve its potential and grow to the size and scale that suits its founders‘ and owners‘ and employees‘ desires, not to mention the potential of its market. It may very well wildly exceed customer expectations and earn a healthy profit by doing so, but not necessarily grow for the sake of growing.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where bigger is often equated with better and where fame and infamy are all too often considered to be one and the same. And so we mistakenly come to believe that if we haven‘t seen a person‘s picture on the cover of BusinessWeek or in a dot-matrixed image in The Wall Street Journal, then they can‘t possibly be the best.
Consider for a moment those high profile leaders we do read about in the newspaper and see on television. Most, but not all, of them share an overwhelming desire and need for attention. You‘ll find them in all kinds of industries, but most prevalently in politics, media, and big business. Look hard enough at them, and there is a decent chance you‘ll discover people who have long aspired to be known as great leaders. These are the same people who also value public recognition over real impact. And based on my experience, you might also find that they‘ll be more highly regarded by strangers and mere acquaintances than by the people who work and live with them most closely.
The truth is, our greatest leaders usually don‘t aspire to positions of great fame or public awareness. They choose instead to lead in places where they can make a tangible, meaningful difference in the lives of the people they are called to serve. The challenges and consequences of their decisions are no less difficult or important than those of higher profile leaders, even if they don‘t quite qualify for a cover story in TIME Magazine.
We'd all benefit from that wisdom. And many a church could read that as a staff devotional piece for a good gut check on their mission. Oh that I would be a leader like that! Well said Patrick. Well said!
If you took this test, here's the answers.
4 . c
5. b, c, e, d, a
6. b, e, a, c, d
12. c, e, a, d, b
13. b, c, d, a
If you want, you can comment on your score. I did not ace every test I took on the internet last week, but this one I did. Maybe seminary or my Bible reading is sinking in. Maybe.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
That is how one neighbor described the fact that there is now in Bend, Oregon a dude who is pregnant. My wife and mother-in-law are right now watching a DVR recording of some Oprah interview of the following "couple":
- A woman with a hysterectomy who thus can't have a kid.
- And her "husband" who is a "dude" that is really a woman who had a sex change, but kept "her" uterus and now is pregnant via a tube and some sperm bank I presume.
Ok, I'm a prude. I think this is stupid. I have no idea what I would say to this kid when she turns 15 and comes to my youth ministry and says, "My Dad gave birth to me, and I'm feeling confused." This seems to be a level beyond, I have two moms or two dads, and I'd have to just smile and say, "I'm confused too."
On a theological level, what do we do with the phrase, "God knit me together in my mother's womb". How do you explain that to this kid? Does genetics mean that God is not responsible for creating this life? This crap makes my head hurt.
And on a physiolgical level, the question the doctors are curious about is, "How is this "woman's" testosterone level (something that she takes pills for so she can have a man's voice and chest hair and stuff) going to affect the development of this child, since children are shaped under the influence of a mother's estrogen environment." My guess: the kid is going to come out with enough hair to pass as a chimp.
So I found this one:
Gary Burgeis a Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. He gives a test on biblical knowledge annually to his first year students. Even though almost all of his students come from Fundamentalist or other Evangelical denominations, he finds that they average only 50 to 55% on this test. He suggests that the result show that we are now living in a post-Christian era. The test is below:
- a. Nehemiah; b. Jude; c. Hezekiah; d. Joel; e. Song of Solomon
2. Who was the first king of Israel?
- a. Saul; b. Solomon; c. David; d. Samuel; e. Moses
3. In their later years, Sarah and Abraham had a son who they called "laughter." What was his actual name?
- a. Samuel; b. Moses; c. Isaac; d. Jacob; e. Ishmael
4. Who of the following is not a prophet from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)
- a. Elisha; b. Elijah; c. Aaron; d. Isaiah; e. Joel
5. List the following in the order with which they appear in the Bible:
- a. the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai; b. Creation of the world; c. the fall of humanity; d. the Exodus from Egypt; e. the flood of Noah
6. Sort the following characters in chronological order:
- a. Moses; b. Adam; c. David; d. Solomon; e. Abraham
7. Which of these is the name of a book in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament)
- a. Judges; b. Malachi; c. Deuteronomy; d. Hebrews; e. Isaiah
8. Who wrote the book of Philemon?
- a. Philemon; b. Paul; c. Peter; d. Onesimus; e. John
9. According to the Bible, who of these was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles?
a. Paul; b. Matthew; c. Luke; d. Timothy; e. Silas
10. Who was the man who Pontius Pilate released during Jesus’ trial?
- a. Barnabas; b. Peter; c. Silas; d. Barabbas; e. Paul
11. How many temptations did Jesus endure in the wilderness?
- a. one; b. two; c. three; d. four; e. five
12. Sort the following events in chronological order:
- a. The Holy Spirit descends on believers at Pentecost; b. John has a vision on the Island of Patmos; c. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River; d. Paul, Barnabas and Mark are sent out on a mission by the church; e. Peter denies that he knows Jesus.
13. Sort the following events in chronological order:
- a. The arrest of Paul in Jerusalem; b. Mary’s response to the Angel; c. Nicodemus’ conversation about rebirth; d. Peter’s denial of Jesus.
14. In which book of the Bible are the most commonly cited version of the Ten Commandments?
- a. Isaiah; b. Exodus; c. Genesis; d. Numbers; e. Matthew
15. In which book is the first Passover described?
- a. Genesis; b. Numbers; c. 1 Samuel; d. Exodus; e. 2 Kings
16. In which book is the prayer "Create in me a clean heart, O God" found?
- a. Proverbs; b. Ezekiel; c. Psalms; d. Deuteronomy; e. Luke
17. In which book is the Lord’s Prayer found?
- a. Matthew; b. Acts; c. Ephesians; d. Malachi; e. Isaiah
18. In which book is the phrase "in the beginning was the Word" found?
- a. Acts; b. Isaiah; c. John; d. Leviticus; e. Romans
19. Which of the following is the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah?
- a. Jesus; b. Samuel; c. Paul; d. Timothy; e. John the Baptist
20. Near which holy day was Jesus crucified?
- a. Passover; b. Hannukah; c. Tabernacles; d. Sabbath; e. Purim
I'LL POST THE ANSWERS TOMORROW. HAVE FUN. NO INTERNET CHEATING :)
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
According to the April chapter page of my One Minute Bible, Theodore Roosevelt said,
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.
Last night in my seminary class, my prof claimed that for far too long people have known too much about the Bible, but have not lived it, placing too much value on knowledge of the Bible. He said Christian spiritual maturity is not Bible knowledge, it's defined by 3 things: Character, Servanthood, and Generosity.
Hmmm. Well I think that we have a generation who are growing up largely Biblically Illiterate and that if they don't put two and two together, we're going to only perpetuate the mess and create people who behave differently, but when challenged as to why- will just stand there dumbfounded and give some lame humanistic or legalistic justification.
I agree that a true follower of the Way of Jesus will be of great character, serve others first, and generously give their life away. But I don't believe they will do this aimlessly. Instead I believe that they must do this based on a thorough ownership and their faith that is deeply rooted in the Scriptures. This will produce an ability to answer the "why do you do that question" from a foundation that will stand up as something other than founded in what so-and-so said or what the church taught them.
I think Theodore Roosevelt was at least half right. Knowledge is still worth a hundred grand, and among the teens I'm working with, I'm tired of watching them adhere to standards that lack rooting in the why's of the faith. They will not withstand the storms of life if we don't help them shore up the foundation of their beliefs.
One of the Grandmas and Papas gave our kids Target cards for Easter. Well, on Monday we went shopping cuz it was burning a hole in their pocket. Like to the point of tears for us being bad parents and not taking them to Target.
Jake got a Diego something or other. Which you can see caused this rarity to be built in my front room. I'm gonna miss the days when this table turns into some kind of mini city. I'm sure they are numbered. So they make me smile more when I see them lately.
TJ got two dvd's. The first two Harry Potter movies.
Tyler got "pegs" for his bike. Yesterday we called Grandma to tell her and well, there was some confusion. So here you go grandma. These are pegs.
[Side note: If you check out my previous Mexico post with our family and Hector's, you'll also notice that Tyler has left the family not only in the addition of pegs to his bike, but Tyler has also departed from the family tradition of the proper nice roll one should develop for their ball cap. This is a technique I have mastered and worked long and hard to get the proper roll. Since my boys were born, I have "fixed their caps" to give them the nice roll a fine cap wearer like myself demands. However he is officially a straight bill kid. Despite my best of efforts to teach and mentor him, he has left me behind for the tall lid with the flat bill. Ahhh... that's my Ty. How can you deny a kid with no teeth a flat bill. Even if it is wrong.]
Oh.. and here's how you use the pegs.... and how to take a pic of half of a Dad showing off his mad skills and tyler's elite photo skillage.
I realized today I forgot to post a draft I started one day. So today I did. But for whatever reason, it stuck it down in order on the day I wrote it, not the day I finished it. And rather than try to fix it, I'm so lazy I'm posting to a post. So, if you're a reader who likes to get all the info. The newest post is 4 down. OR here if you're as lazy as me.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Last Friday we took our students to Mexico on a "wing it" trip.
A few weeks before, we were set to work with a local church in Tecate when the thing fell apart due to a pregnancy complication with the pastor's family. So I was left with either cancel the trip, or come up with my own. So I prayed about it and decided that rather than cancel, I'd drop it to a one day trip to go visit Hector and his family (a boy we sponsor as a youth ministry) in a small town just south of Tecate.
[Side note: our goal is 1 kid sponsored on every continent that I can figure out how to- I'm guessing antartica is out. So far, we have one in North America and one in Africa.]
So, that's what we did, we went to visit Hector and bring his family some gifts. We really had no real agenda. We decided to just go, follow the spirit, and wing it. The only thing we did know is that they knew we were coming and would be home. So we decided to try an 8am to 10pm- one day shot. Fastest Mexico missions trip I've ever been on. Far cry from the 15 hour Nor Cal drive to Mexicali I did in a bus for years. Here's how the day went.
- 9am: leave church.
- 11am: arrive at Hector's house. Give them 50lbs of rice, 50lbs of flour, 50lbs of sugar, 25lbs of pinto beans, 4 containers of salt, 40 chicken breasts, 40lbs of beef, a box of toilet paper, a box of paper towels, a new set of heavy duty washable plastic plates/cups/bowls, some new kitchen towels, a couple of brooms, some cleaning supplies, a huge box of laundry detergent, a shovel and a few gifts for Hector: a baseball/bat and soccer ball and football for hector (and a few other things I think I'm forgetting.
- 11:30am-1pm: Play with Hector and his family and a whole bunch of kids from the surrounding neighborhood and help with some projects they had around the house- like clearing a six foot section around their fence to keep the snakes from having something to hide in near the house.
- 1pm-2:30pm: A fat BBQ lunch for the family/community.
- 2:30-4:30pm: Clean up trash in a local community park and then debrief our experience/get to know one another. There are 34 of us, about 25 of which had never been with us to this part of Tecate and lots of whom did not know one another before the trip.
- 4:30-6:30pm: Eat a lot of local tacos and quesadillas and plenty of manzana soda.
- 6:30-7:30pm: Visit a Tecate missions youth outreach center.
- 7:30-8:30pm: Enjoy some local ice cream
- 8:30pm- leave Mexico and arrive back home, hopefully changed and better for it.
On Sunday I lost an envelope with $445 cash in it- left over from some money I had as emergency cash for a day in on a Mexico Missions trip.
On Monday I found it under the seat in my car, in some random location I swear I looked at least 10 times before. I literally stuck my head out the window and yelled, "Thank you Jesus!" as loud as I could. I guess maybe I thought Jesus was deaf, cuz I can yell loud. I'm sure the mall parking lot thought I was nuts. I had been praying like crazy I'd find this envelope and searched my house and cars for like an hour plus too.
Maybe God stuck it there. Maybe it was there the whole time. Either way. I was super stoked. I can't afford to lose almost $500. I'm just not that lucrative.