Wednesday, October 28, 2009


While at the NYWC in LA, I heard a talk by Shane Hipps on the dangers of technology and the myth of technological advancements and the intention behind invention and the reality of our world and yeah... it really got me thinking.

So much so, that months later, I'm still thinking about it. It was really an interesting talk.

His talk was based on this book which I have not read. But in a nutshell however, he doesn't see technolgy as evil, but thinks we need to understand what we exchange when we embrace it.

All technology is a tool, but it also comes with a price tag. Consequently, some of the questions that this generation will have to ask are:

  • "What is the value of being literally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually fully present?"
  • Is there ever any need to travel to meet or do something face to face or can we actually live and do life together virtually? What is the cost of a facebook friendship maintenance plan?
  • Can someone attend church in their living room over the internet? Is there any need to physically be together?
But the thing he said that really got me thinking was that we think that technology allows us to do more than one thing at a time.... to multi-task. However, this is a myth. Literally, he said, the body cannot do two things at once. He said,

"There is no such thing as multi-tasking. It doesn't multiply anything, it only divides."

For example, if you take a glass of water and pour it into 4 glasses, you don't generate any new water, you just divide up the water you had. The same is true of "multi-tasking". You don't actually generate any new work or multiply energy, you just divide up your attention and lessen your influence.

So.... for me, this really jacked with me. For a long time, I've been saying that I need to try and "maximize the ministry of the moment." But this means to be fully present, I have to be fully present. It means:
  • I can't watch my kids game and answer the phone.
  • I can't surf the internet, and talk on instant message.
  • I can't text someone, and listen to the conversation before me.
  • I can't e-mail and blog and listen to music and watch the clock.
This seems to be very true when the task is very important... Like I know that big things require big attention and focus. But I think I'm only kidding myself if I think that less important tasks can be done all together. Maybe I'm just slowing all of my tasks down and reducing the influence and effectiveness of all that I'm doing when I do more than one thing at once (if that is not an oxymoron all by itself).

This messed with me because most people say they can do just that. But the longer I try it, the more I agree with Shane. If I really want my life to matter, then I need to fully devote myself to what I'm doing at that moment. If I'm preparing a sermon, I need to do that. If I'm writing e-mails, I need to do that. If I'm reading a book with my kids, I need to do that. I even wonder if having too many windows open on my computer screen is more of a distraction than not. Maybe I need to put a death bullet in the heart of the multi-tasking lie and just BE. Just do one thing. One at a time. Fully.

So... to that end, I'm trying to learn and relearn to be one dimensional. I'm trying to choose to fully ignore my cell in a meeting or when I'm in a conversation. I'm trying to only do one thing at a time. I'm trying to hold a conversation with my kid. I'm trying to work out. I'm trying to pay bills. I'm trying to do one thing at a time, one moment at a time, and line my day up with successive things, but not multiple things. Somedays I'm better at it than others. I failed in a meeting today, in a family event last week.... etc. But I'm working on it.

In the end, to see this happen it means saying no to the right stuff. It means saying yes to the right stuff. It means if I want to be successful and impactful and effective, then I need to put a dagger in the multi-tasking myth and call it what it is.... A LIE.


Friday, October 23, 2009


Every weekend we put in our high school ministry weekend program a small section titled "We kid you not." We also have an outline to follow and bible verses and a bible study and announcements and yatta yatta. But this part is usually just random junk we found on the internet that remotely associated with the topic and dumped in just for sheer comedy sake.

This week, we are talking about "Anthropomorphism". Which is speaking of God in human terms. So of course, I decided to go in search of some half god, half ______creatures where people merged humanity and imagery and deity into something funky. I found this greek mythology website and some facts and well... this week I compiled them into the following list which our students will get this weekend.

Maybe I'll start posting them here every week, just for pure blog reader boredom comedy too.

SATYR= half human, half goat. roamed the woods and mountains and were very sexual beings. We just type what we read people.

CENTAUR = half human, half horse. body of a horse with the torso of a man attached where the horses neck would start.

SPHYNX = half bird, half woman. Sits at the base of a mountain pass and asks travelers a riddle. If they fail, she eats them.

ECHIDNA= a half woman, half-serpent monster who ate men raw. Note to self: not a good prom date.

MINOTAUR= a half man, half bull. This one has a man’s body and a bull’s head. It ate 7 teen boys and 7 girls sent annually from Athens. If you text in service, we will let it loose in here. It’s hungry. Athens stop feeding it a long time ago. It will eat you and your phone.

TYPHON= half man, half snake. Almost killed Zeus. But with some help, Zeus killed him. Don’t mess with a typhon or Zeus.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Ok... so I'm a big fan of narrative teaching. I have taught a few series in my day in a narrative format with characters and such and they are always very memorable... and a lot of work.

My favorite one is the story of Jesus and the passover that I did as a sermon back in Nor. Cal. after a trip to Israel. That trip radically changed the way I viewed Jesus last week of his life for me and inspired the story in me. I told an Easter message from the fictitious perspective of the son of the owner of the upper room. People still talk to me about that sermon. God was all over it and my pastor told me I should take it on the road.

I think I love narrative teaching because it really sticks and helps people to keep a message, so much better than a series of points. This is probably why I tell so many stories in my sermons too. I love a good story.

Well, to that end, I'm trying something in our guys groups that was introduced to me a while back through Youth Specialties and the YS One Day material I taught last spring. (You can find it on this website and in this book.) It's a series of stories.... 21 in all, that walk you through the OT and NT to give students a sense of the common threads, themes, and proper order to the key stories in the Scriptures.

I took a risk and we kicked it off at our fall retreat with the guys in the desert and 4 discussions. I decided that if it was a success, I'd keep going. If it bombed, I'd scrap it. Well, It was a HUGE success!

Here's how it worked:

  1. We review the memory tool, main point, and any critical details of each of the previous stories.
  2. I then set the scene and encourage them to get ready to really listen.
  3. I read the story out loud, as dramatically as I know how.
  4. I ask one question: "what did you hear?"... and the students re-tell the story back to me. I ask them to try and stay in order and to share one piece at a time, not going farther in the Bible Story beyond this story... even if they know more of the "rest of the story".
  5. We make observations along the way.
  6. In small groups we ask 2 questions: (1) What does this teach us about God. (2) So what... what difference does this make for your everyday life?
  7. Then we conclude by compiling our learnings into one bumper sticker statement we agree upon as a group. I also have been bringing a memory tool of some sort (the book suggests pictures, but we are using physical objects, and now we have added slide pics for our projectors too).
So now we have completed one week of small groups to build on our 4 stories from our retreat. Thus, every small group table has an old school ammo can on it that has 5 items inside: An artist brush, a broken chain link, a compass, a piece of duct tape, and a knife.

Here's why:

EPISODE ONE: the artist brush. (Genesis 1-2)

EPISODE TWO: the broken link (Genesis 2-3)

EPISODE THREE: the compass (Genesis 6-9, Noah is the only one going towards God)

EPISODE FOUR: the duct tape (Genesis 11-18)

EPISODE FIVE: the knife (Genesis 22)

It was great to be in the desert with our guys and have them truly be able to wrestle with scripture as men, like an old school oral synagogue midrash of the jewish culture. The result is that most can still tell me the 4 stories we discussed in the desert, the symbol, and the main points from memory. Now if it just gets from the head to their heart to their hands and feet.

Here's a pic of some of our younger men under a "chuppah" being prayed over by our older men after the Sunday Covenant message as these young men covenanted with God in the desert. Each of the posts is being held by a father of teens or older. The contrast of these generations and the decisions they are making is so critical in this fatherless generation. I love this pic of Greg praying with some younger guys in the background. I'm super blessed to play even a small roll in this kind of mentoring.



I hate shaving.

I have an electric razor that I can only use if do so regularly- otherwise I have to use the old school razor. Cuz if I wait too long, the hair gets too long and then it takes 500 days to shave. I hate that. I also hate trying to shave with it after showering cuz my stupid hair is all softish and folds over and the dumb razor suckola at working when it's not all prickly and angry looking.

So yeah, I hate to shave. Thus the electric one is often in the car and I shave while driving so I don't have to give it my undivided attention- shaving that is. Yes, it's against the law for me talk on my cell phone while driving, so I traded. Now I do that in the bathroom and shave while driving.

I inevitably miss some critical piece of my face, regardless of what I use to shave, and then feel awkward all day.

Maybe if I bought one of these shavers it would be cool and I'd like it. Maybe I'd become a celebrity or something.

But I'm pretty sure no one really buys these things and the blades are gonna be like $5000 each, just like the fusion ones at Target. When I am rich, I'm gonna give away razor blades to youth pastors who can't afford to shave.

Why not just grow something then you say?


I'd just grow a full on man beard, but my wife would never kiss me.
If I grow a mustache, I might have to watch endless episodes of Magnum PI or something.
If I grow a goatee, my chin looks like it starts about mid chest and I look like 5000 other youth pastors.
If I grew a fu man chu, I could move to china and my wife would never kiss me.
If I keep a 5 o'clock shadow, my daughter complains I'm scratchy and won't cuddle with me.

So there you go. I hate shaving. I only do so to get kissed.

In my next life I'm gonna become a monk, grow a beard, and hide stuff in it.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


It took me 8 years in ministry to figure out that we needed to get just our men and women away, by themselves, as a gender group... to talk about life and faith and what it means to be God-fearing men and women. I think, "I'm a slow learner." Truth is, most youth ministries don't do this trip at all or see the value in it. When I left powerhouse, it was one of the first things the next leader let go. I've said it before, but after almost 15+ years of youth ministry, I'm still convinced it's the one retreat I think I'll never let go. As long as God has me in youth ministry, I'll be doing this trip or something like it.

From the "man" perspective (since I've never been to "our" women's retreat for obvious reasons), I don't care where we go or what we do, just so long as we get to help young men find godly mentors, father figures, and a chance to officially leave boyhood behind and make a step towards manhood. It is good for their hearts and souls. It is good for mine.

I've done this trip in the sierras in a cabin with snow, on a a houseboat on a winter lake, and now a grip of times in the desert. (like here and here) This last weekend was trip #5 here in San Diego.

  • 10 seasoned adult men. 31 teenage young men/dudes.
  • 30 lbs of steak. 40 lbs of potatoes. 120 tortillas. 240 eggs. 8 gallons of OJ. 125 gallons of water. etc...
  • A homemade spud launcher. Tons of sling shots for sling shot paint ball. A 300 foot zip line. 10 model rockets and engines.
  • 2000 rounds of ammo. 7 -12 guage shot guns. 3 hand guns. 4- .22's. A grip of clay targets and stuff to knock over with the .22's and such. (If you're a mom, and your heart just stopped... relax. No, we don't let them shoot without adult supervision. Think safety controlled shooting range on Sat. afternoon, not like wild west chaotic showdown.)
  • A truck bed of fire wood and some random stuff that makes the fire more fun :)
  • An assortment of rope, tarps, duct tape, safety equipment and such.
  • 2 guitars, 45 pens, 41 ammo cans, notebooks, and memory tools (I'll break that down in the next post).
  • A HUGE army tent.
  • 7 off road vehicles.


The first nights sunset was AMAZING!

One of our photographers snapped this pic of a cloud. Think it's a sign the spirit of God descended on us as we prayed. Super cool looking cloud either way.

Here's the campsite we set up- complete with HUGE 50 man tent thing- mid right of the photo... looks small in comparison to the massive rocks we camp near.

I love watching young men have genuine fun. At one point, a random circle showed up and one student had brought two pairs of boxing gloves and a body shot only duel session busted out. You just can't do that in your living room. Paintball with sling shots, teaching them to shoot a gun properly (I even shot a pistol for the first time), rockets... man this trip is good dude time.

Every year, before free time, we do some old school team building. This year, it was three- 30 minute rotations. One was this thing where you have to pick up a 20 foot 4x4 using only ropes and holding it vertically and move it around a pre-set course. Another was a rocket building station. The last one was a zip-line that one of our leaders dreamed up and tested last weekend for us. Super fun.

And of course, we spent some time bonding by the fire as friends, brothers, and children of God. Here's a final couple of pics and then the next post I'll outline what we talked about... cuz I tried something I've never done before in that setting and i turned out sweet.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


... for me to stay motivated to finish my Masters of Divinity (MDIV)

WHY?  honestly? I have struggled with this for years due to philosophy and ideal differences, but today while cramming for Greek, I pondered my own soul too and I think there are 3 main reasons.  I'm not saying they are good or whatever, just that they are what they are: 
  1. COMPARISON GAME:  I'm really tired of hearing about friends and co-workers who got it done in less time.  There are days when I just want to quit because my life is blitzed and one class at a time is all I can afford in both finances, time, and energy.  Honestly, I don't think I would ever do this again this way.  If you are headed for ministry, I would get the seminary thing done ASAP... being a dad, a coach, a student, a pastor, a leader, a husband and yatta yatta is just plain too much and too hard.  This thing just might kill me... especially when Greek is requiring something like 10-15 hours a week.  I would never try and hold all these hats high at the same time if I had another choice.  
  2. ENDURANCE:  This pace means a 2 year full time degree is taking me something like 15 years to finish.  Yes.... 15 years.   So, I'm whittling away, and it's hard to keep the light at the end of the tunnel in view, especially when I say no to hanging out with my wife or kids on my day off so I can study.  
  3. PURPOSE:  Today while cramming all day for my Greek class, I got a text from a friend who lost his job.  He has a baby on the way, recently became a first time home buyer, and now is looking at no job and no severance.  I wonder what difference my degree will make as I strive to help people relate in the real world.  After hours of writing papers, memorizing stuff I easily had access to in an instant on my computer or shelf, and reading stuff that none of my neighbors even care about, it just wears on me.  Today I spent 5 hours memorizing greek words... and it still wasn't enough and I had to guess on 5 words on my test.  Really....  I know that knowing Greek can help me study and teach, but sometimes this degree thing seems so far removed from the real world of parenting, soccer practice, hurting friends, and student's real life struggles. 

SO WHY DO I STAY? I did some soul searching there too.... 
  1. FINISH:  I'm too far to not finish.  Quitting now would be pointless. I can't quit.  I'll regret it for the rest of my life if I do.  
  2. BELIEF:  I believe that the subjects and learnings are important- even if I often disagree with the philosophy they employ in teaching it.  I'm determined to be a better pastor by being a smarter student of theology, my Bible, history, and even a better me as a result. 
  3. OPPORTUNITY:  I have no idea what God has for my future.  But the last time God moved me, it became clear to me that without a masters degree, my options were limited.  Whatever God has in store for my days ahead... if it's in pastoral ministry, a seminary degree will only open doors, not close them.  I can't say that confidently of the reverse.  
So, here I go... a grip more classes and hundreds of hours of language studies left to go.  Wish me luck.   


Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I did a couple of video podcasts for YS while at the NYWC a few weeks ago.

One is more "devotional" in nature.  One is more "training" in nature.

The first one came out today I think, it's the "training one" and is like 5 minutes of yappin' about calendaring to defeat they tyranny of the urgent in student ministries.

If you have 5 minutes and want to give it a listen...

You can hit it up here on itunes.

Or you can download it directly here.


Saturday, October 03, 2009


Yeah... I'm not much of a big word guy.

Every once in a while my wife will say something to me and I'll have to go look it up to see what the proper response should be.  I pause to look up words sometimes when reading an e-mail, cuz I have no idea what someone just said.  Some people like to shorten several small words by dumping in one big word that means essentially the same thing.  Which makes them sound really smart.  You'd think with a Bachelors degree from UC Davis and a grip of seminary classes in pursuit of my M.DIV- I'd have a better handle on the big words, but nope. I'm dumb.

So, last night in church, Ed used the word "despondent".  Yeah.  Because of context I knew it was bad, but essentially I had no idea what it really meant.  He kept saying it, even threw out "despondency" and then he even had it in the printed outlines as a subtitle for a section of Elijah's life.

This left me feeling dumb again.... so I searched my trusty iphone dictionary app while sitting in church and here's what I discovered.  That cool word means, "feeling downcast and disheartened and hopeless."  "Oh", I thought, "Like how I feel when everyone acts like they understand the big words and I'm scratching my head like an idiot."

Also last week, in my Greek class, our prof kept using the word "declension".  Which he then told us is a "pattern"- to which one of my brave peers asked, "why not just call it a pattern".  I laughed out loud.  Classic.  Those were my thoughts precisely!

Now what is to follow, will surely be shocking to you because the next series we are starting in Encounter in 2 weeks is called "BIG WORD THEOLOGY" and yes, it's about BIG words.  BIG BIG BIG WORDS.... mostly cuz the have crazy BIG implications for us, but they are also big and letter filled.

So, wish me luck.  I'm gonna have to double my study time this next month or something.  We're gonna look at 4 BIG THEOLOGY WORDS (or groups of words in some cases) and talk about what their implications are for our lives.

  • WEEK 1: The Omni-God:  Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent.
  • WEEK 2: Anthropomorphism: expanding our view of God.  (HA! That's a mouthful.)
  • WEEK 3: Sanctification: being and becoming holy.  
  • WEEK 4: Hypostatic Union and the Trinity:  thinking and rethinking the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit thing.   
There you go. If you just read that and didn't have to look any of it up... you should teach seminary or something cuz mine really really loves Big words.

Anyway, there's really ZERO possibility of doing any real justice to any of them in a 35 minute talk, but hopefully I'll get some students walking out the door with the assumptions turned on their ear and with an increased desire to study more on what it means for their daily lives and their connection with God.

I think I'll just preach to myself this whole series and hope someone else is like me :)



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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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