Thursday, March 29, 2012


I walked downstairs this morning to find this playing on our kids computer.  Evidently Tyler saw it at his Middle School and was playing it for his brothers and sister.  I've been laughing for hours.

If you haven't heard or seen LMFAO's "I'm sexy and I know it", it won't' be as funny.  Half of the reason that it's so funny is because the actual LMFAO music video is a huge teen sensation and so wrong in just about every message it portrays- regardless of it's tongue-in-cheek lyrics.   In fact, the video is so wrong that I can't show it or even use it in my youth ministry because I don't need male genitalia in thong underwear shaking all over the screen.  So, you can skip the video and save yourself just fine.  

But this elmo spoof thing tuns it into something so innocent it's hysterical.   Don't stop watching until wiggle wiggle wiggle becomes ....  HAAAA  just go watch it!!!  So stinking funny. 

I can hardly wait to use as a bit in our next series in Encounter... which is our sexuality and dating series called "bow-chicka-bow-wow".   Going to be the best youth group moment ever.

Sesame Street is my hero. :)


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Well, I broke down and read the Hunger Games.  I was hearing all kinds of hype and read a ton of reviews about the movie and I thought, I'd better get in the pool and swim before I comment on the water content.  So I did.

I bought the kindle version and read it in 4 sittings in 24 hours.  It was addicting. 

Here's my plot summary minus spoilers:  
It takes place in a post nuclear war North America that has been divided up into 12 districts that are separated by vast expanses of wilderness, traveled between by train, and walled in by electrified fences. It feels like holocaust Germany to me. There were 13 of these districts, but one of them is a poisoned wasteland that is now uninhabitable after an attempt to overthrow the Capital's harsh rule.   
The Capital of "Panem" is portrayed as a materialistic, ego filled, plastic surgery addicted luxury land of plenty where the people arrogantly live off the enslavement of the other 12 districts and the goods they provide.  For "sport" and as a punishment for the rebellion, each of the districts have to annually send one 12 to 18year old boy and one girl into the "Hunger Games": a large televised reality show drama where 24 teens must fight to the death, emerging one victor who then is paraded around like some kind of hero. It's like the Roman Coliseum really.  
Told from the point of view of the 16 year old teenage heroine, Katniss, she is humble and simple and lives in he poorest of the districts and ends up in the hunger games when she volunteers to take the place of her 12 year old sister who had won the lottery and was surely headed to her death. Enter Katniss Everdeen and cue the rest of the story... 

At first, I didn't really know what it was about it that compelled me so much, but it sucked me in from the beginning and I couldn't put it down.   So I started analyzing my own emotions and here's what I think about the book and why it speaks to so many of the students I work with at least. I haven't seen the movie, so I have no idea about that, but here's my take on this book and what it says about our culture.

FOOD IS A LUXURY BILLIONS CANNOT AFFORD:  I was surprised by how much time was spent on food.  Maybe that's why it's called the Hunger Games.  But there is a theme in this book that reminds the reader that food on a table is a luxury.  Katniss lives in the poorest of the districts where she is a day away from starvation all the time.  The contrast between her life of need and the life of luxury of those in the Capital could not be clearer.  Having personally spent 60 days in Uganda and now having friends who live in mud huts and have very little to eat, with starvation on their door front everyday, this theme spoke loud and clear to me. The food in my fridge is a luxury that literally billions cannot afford.  The articulate reader will find themselves looking at disgust with the people in the Capital and an all too familiar reflection in the mirror.  (Ie: re-read my summary above and think of Panem as the U.S.)

1984 SOMEONE IS WATCHING YOU FACTOR:  There is an erie sense in this book that you're always being watched and that those in control could kill you any minute if they wanted to.   It reminded me of reading 1984 in high school.  It makes you wonder who is really in control of your reality. I think most people wonder this on some level when they think about God. 

THE ABSENTEE PARENT:  Katniss is a young woman who has been forced to grow up faster than most.  Her dad died tragically at a young age in a coal mining accident.  Her mom spiraled into depression and Katniss became the sole provider for herself and her little sister.  To this end, she perfects hunting and cooking and becomes a skilled and capable adult.  She is both mom and dad to her sister really.  And honestly, if you wanted to write a book and have connection with a vast majority of American teens, then write the heroine as a teenage girl in a single parent home without a Dad.  You just described at least 1/2 of the young women I work with today. 

THE LACK OF DESCRIPTIVE VIOLENCE OR SEX: Lots of people die.  In fact 11 on day one of the games.  But that's about all you know.  I think there's only 3 or 4 deaths in the whole thing described with much detail.   Despite the fact that Katniss finds herself naked in the book on several occasions, the author never describes her naked features. Ever. It was really pleasantly surprised.  I don't think the script writers had to work hard to keep it to PG-13.  The book isn't much more than that honestly.

MY CONCLUSION:  At first, I thought I was going to find the book to be morbid.  But what I really found was a book that as I engaged it, reminded me of the power of allegory. I have no idea what the author's primary intentions were.  But I could lead a lot of really great discussions with teens based on the issues that arise in this book.  There are those with noble character to be applauded, there is evil to be identified and called out, there are tests of wills, there is bad stuff that happens to good people, there is  love to be considered and choices to be made.  There is selfishness and selflessness.  Seriously, this book is chalked full of great visuals. Actually would be pretty interesting to do a summer book club or something and invite students to discuss the feelings and issues this book brings to surface when considered as an allegory, instead of merely a novel.  

If you haven't read it, I'd encourage you to.  It's not a chick flick and it's doesn't glorify or patronize the horrors it describes, but it is eye opening and it will help you engage those who read it in some cool ways if you choose to seize them.  Case and point would be the random table discussion I had on it before service with some students last Sunday.  Game on.  


Sunday, March 25, 2012


Is easier said than done.  But this TED video from a man who was on the plane that miraculously landed in the Hudson River in NY in 2009, narrows it down pretty well.

I have no idea where Ric is in terms of faith, but if you- like me- are trying to honor God with every moment, loving your spouse, and care passionately about being a great parent, then this is as close to a mandatory 5 minute listen as you're ever gonna find on the internet.

Hey Ric Elias, I'm with you in this! I'll raise my cheap wine glass and agree with this!  I'll strive with you to be a great Dad.  With you in that. I'll seize the day for this goal everyday.  Thanks for the reminder.

(PS: I found it this via my friend Michele who has a great blog post on being present as a parent. Thanks Michele.  It's worth the read too)


Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I have a friend who asked me some questions about my book I recently wrote, "As For Me and My Crazy House".  In case you're wondering what this book is about, you can read my responses.  Here's a sampling of the 5 questions he asked me:

What is your favorite story from the book? Were there any stories cut or deemed too far over the line?

Here’s one from the second chapter that still makes me laugh: “When our boys were little, they found great joy in naked running. No, we didn’t raise them in a nudist colony, but that didn’t stop them from running naked wherever they could. Change a diaper without a new one ready to go, and they’d likely break free running naked. Give them a bath, get mostly dry, and sprinting naked would often ensue. They evidently found great joy and laughter in the hilarity of naked feet slapping the floor and unrestricted movement of clothing-
free moments. We often would joke and call out ‘NAKED PARADE’ as they went by laughing. We even have a child who, if you sent him to the bathroom, would strip naked to poop. We called him the Naked Pooper. Thankfully, he only did this at home.”

Um, lots of stories were cut to keep the thing at a level I’d be willing to read myself. As for too far over the line… sure, but if I printed it here I’d be in trouble too. Ha!  Take me out for coffee and we’ll swap ridiculous stories.

That’s awesome – you’re on for coffee. Have you got a failure story from parenting just to prove you’re human?

A few months ago at Christmas we were shopping in the mall. We decided to stop and go to dinner. After we were done, we headed to the bookstore next door. We were in there for a good 15 minutes when this random lady walks up to us and says, “Hey, did I see you guys eating next door?” We said, “Yes, that was us.” Then she said….

if you want to know what she said and what happened.. well head over to more than dodgeball to get the rest of the story.  


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Last week I watched this free web training called "".  It was loaded with some great reminder about what good teaching consists of and how to be a better communicator.  Here's my summary of some great ideas I stole.

The content is not mine.  The summary headings are my way of making sense of it all. Hope you steal some great reminders as you teach students and parents and your staff or whatever.  Some really great truths for any communicator really from a variety of voices...  

  • TIME MATTERS:  Most of the people you are talking to will see you again.  Don't one shot wonder it.  You have time for one sermon.  Let it be what it is.  Say one thing and then save the rest for the next chance.  It's one lap, not the whole marathon.  Brevity can be a huge win in this. 
  • VISUALS MATTER: If your story can have a physical object, then get one.  I LOVE visuals, so this totally resonates with me.  But seriously, if you can give someone something to see or even touch that's not just a picture in their head, it adds so much to your message. 
  • TEAM INPUT INTO MESSAGES MATTERS: When was the last time you gathered a group of people around to interact with and help you refine and better communicate your talk, message, teaching or whatever before you gave it?  We do this more with whole message series brainstorms or game ideas, but it reminded me that when I've done this with my message and with students, it's way better.  Perry talked extensively about using variety of illustrations and feedback from people who had experiences he did not and the benefit of multiple voices into your message.  
  • PLANNING AHEAD MATTERS: He said something like, "When I plan ahead, my creative team does a better job and feels empowered. Planning empowers others for success. It’s not about me, it’s about me serving them."  Kicker is that can't do this the night before or even the week of usually. Even if "you are your creative team", if you can get ahead, your visuals and your videos will be way better.  It also will give you space to invite others to help use their skills and talents too.  This only works if you're willing to plan ahead and work on stuff farther out.  Andy Stanley said he's preparing this week a message he'll give 3 weeks from now.  I'm 6 months out with a lot of stuff, but not even 2 weeks out with message prep. I need to work on this. 
  • AUDIENCE MATTERS: Picture a freshman guy, a girl who is so hurt she can't speak, a senior with one foot out the door, a troubled teen who is thinking of ditching God, a guy who loves sports and a girl whose parents are getting a divorce... think about all the students in your audience and then ask, "What difference can this message make for them? What do they need to hear from me?"
  • LANGUAGE MATTERS:  Avoid insider language and assuming people know the stories.  Inside jokes are only funny for insiders.  
  • SIMPLE ACTION MATTERS: Every message leads to 1 or 2 steps.  Be clear on what you want students or your audience to do and be.  Don't complicate it.  Make it simple. 
  • MY FEELINGS MATTER: We’re not the only ones who feel like we do.  Truth is, everyone is a lot like me.  This is why jokes are funny.  If you feel it or think it, truth is someone else does too.  Don’t think I'm talking to the “lowest common denominator, think MOST common denominator.”
  • TRIMMING THE FAT MATTERS: Don't over detail.  Think simple.  Detail can clutter instead of enhance.  One-liners are clutter free genius.  Trim your illustrations to their essential core. 
  • RELATIONAL CONNECTION AND STORY MATTERS: Think of "preaching" as less about an information transfer and more about a journey you're going on with your audience.  Set up a tension in the first 5 minutes and then wrestle with it with the rest of your time.  Here's how Andy does that in 5 marker points of his message: 
    • Me – Start by answering and communicating: What am I feeling or struggling with today? 
    • We – The ask, "Don't we all struggle with this? Can you feel me?" Help them understand this is how we all feel.   
    • God – Remind them that God speaks to this thing we all wrestle with.  Let's look to the Scriptures together.
    • You – Think:  What would happen if you did this thing we just talked about?
    • We –Act:  How would the world be different if we all did this? 
  • THE BOTTOM LINE MATTERS:  Every sermon needs a bottom line and it needs to have a burden.  If you can't feel it and if you don't know it, the reality is no one else will either.  I need to be able to communicate most of the message in a single sentence or phrase before I say even one word.  


Monday, March 19, 2012


I remember the day when the only people that had cell phones were rich executives and drug dealers and you had to have some kinda suitcase with you to make it work.  I remember in ministry deciding that I needed to get a pager because I couldn't afford a drug dealer phone, but hating the fact that I was constantly searching for a pay phone to call people back.  Pay phones! Hah!  Remember when phones only made calls?  Now it's like my personal secretary, news source, friend updater, ministry workhorse, and file box all in one.  So much has been replaced by my iPhone that it's fully changed how I do my daily life and much of ministry.  It's ridiculous really on some level.

So, for what it's worth, here are my top 9 apps I use in ministry and how I use them.  I'm skipping some of the general ones I think everyone uses like facebook, twitter, dropbox, youversion, and evernote and such.  Some are available on more than the iPhone or iPad, some have desktop versions and websites, some are free and some cost a few bucks. (I usually prefer to pay a buck to ditch the ads) Anyway, they are below in no particular order, but all are worth it:

360 PANORAMA- Fun app if you're trying to capture an idea in one shot.  Maybe you see a restaurant that inspires a design theme for you or maybe you're visiting a friends church and their youth room is awesome and you want to steal some ideas.  Well, just start snapping pictures and this lovely little app stitches them together into one panoramic view.  Pretty awesome and super helpful.   SIDE NOTE: I no longer take notes of white board brainstorm sessions either.  I just snap pictures with my phone and transcribe what I need to later.  

SUNRISE  If you're planning a retreat or an outdoor movie night and you want to know when the sun will rise or set or when it will get dark, even what will be the status of the moon for your night hike, then this app is super helpful.  I use it every year for our desert trip.

POSTAGRAM  So you're on a retreat with your students and you want to encourage parents and or your pastor for a buck.  No worries. We got you covered.  Get the free app.  Buy some credits (about $1 per postcard purchased in groups of 10).  Then you're off the races.  Take a picture of a your group or some of your students, add a message, type in their address or grab one from your phone address book quick like, and then hit send and off goes a color photo postcard.  Bammo.   Instant hero you just became. I'm using it for our spring break events this year.  Gonna be so fun.

INSTAPAPER  Ever been skimming your twitter feed and don't have time to read a link but want to come back to it... no worries.  Hit save and bammo, it goes to instapaper. You can forward monthly newsletter e-mails and such directly there too from your inbox using a custom e-mail address they give you.  I use it for stuff I want to read casually like a magazine article, but want out of my inbox. I use Evernote for stuff I know I want to save, like a virtual research file box, not stuff I've yet to decide on.  Instapaper is like a pile of stuff to read or skim later.  Super easy to use.

WUNDERLIST:  The reminders app from apple is a joke.  Wunderlist is the real deal.  It has web, iPad, iPhone, and desktop apps. It's free. It's amazing. Stop what you're doing and go get it. Best list maker I've found yet.  You can make categories, boxes, due dates, you name it.  Super easy and super awesome.

SHAZAM: Listening to a song and think, dang... I could use this for a talk or a slideshow or I just like this, who is it by and what are the lyrics?  Or maybe you're listening and thinking... seriously, this song is ridiculous. Who is the clown singing this?  No worries. Hit shazam, it will listen to the song and tell you song, artist, lyrics instantly.  Then you can even buy it if you want.  I use a lot of music during our annual dating series and this app is super helpful.

KIDS IN MIND: Wondering if you can show this movie in youth group?  Want to know exactly why it's rated what it is without some kinda judgment?  Then this app is awesome.  It gives you three categories: Sex/Nudity,  Violence/Gore, and Profanity and rating from 1-10.  It then describes all kinds of stuff in those categories to justify the number it was given... it's all matter of fact and maybe even overly detailed (like it could spoil some scenes for you). But you'll get a very clear picture of what you are showing and what kinds of complaints you will or won't get from parents.  Super helpful when answering the "Mom and Dad, can I go see 'xyz' movie?" question from my kids too. Helps me make a wise choice and at least know what I'm paying for them to see or not see.

LETS TALK and WOULD YOU CHOOSE:  Ever standing in line and need a random question?  Ever sitting with a student you're mentoring or even your own kids and think, let's just talk about stuff and see where this goes.  Well these two apps are awesome for that.  They have topics and questions from fun and silly to deep and inspiring.  I use these all the time with my own kids and even my small group Bible Study for students.

Ok, there's some of my favorites...  I'd love to hear some of yours.


Saturday, March 10, 2012


Evidently the best commercials are not during the super bowl, they are during March Madness.  I saw this Sonic commercial during lunch today with Jake and almost spit my lunch out.  I can honestly say the last statement of the guy in the passenger seat might actually be quoting me.

Forget the dad to 5 kids who have all dropped all kinds of stuff on the floor and eaten it factor... as a youth pastor alone, I've eaten, or had kids eat, stuff we don't even walk to talk. Here's my quick list of 80's games we played and one from last September too:

  • spam anything
  • live goldfish
  • crickets
  • scorpion suckers
  • a gallon of milk that never stays down
  • chewed up food from someone else
  • blenders of way too many ingredients to list
  • hot sauce concoctions 
  • various foreign foods
  • cat and dog food
ok.. that's enough.... but eating a popcorn chicken that's been on the roof for 3 seconds.  Done. Wouldn't even blink an eye.  


Friday, March 09, 2012


Several people have asked for some of the videos I showed during my seminars last weekend at SYMC.  I loved connecting with so many people from all over the country and the world... met one gal who comes from brazil every year. Crazy!

Anyway... here's 3 videos I showed that are well, just epic and awesome.

the funniest phone commercial ever. I've posted it on this blog before... but this one is now longer and has more scenes and is even more epic :)

a great and helpful video from the infamous internet sensations: Rhett and Link.

and an epic video that makes we want to go outside and tie a rope to our church sign and jump off.



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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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