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Sunday, December 25, 2011

With the Angels We Sing!

Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Joyful, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With th’angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!” Refrain Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!” Christ, by highest Heav’n adored; Christ the everlasting Lord; Late in time, behold Him come, Offspring of a virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail th’incarnate Deity, Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel. Refrain Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. Refrain Come, Desire of nations, come, Fix in us Thy humble home; Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head. Now display Thy saving power, Ruined nature now restore; Now in mystic union join Thine to ours, and ours to Thine. Refrain Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface, Stamp Thine image in its place: Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love. Let us Thee, though lost, regain, Thee, the Life, the inner man: O, to all Thyself impart, Formed in each believing heart.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Demise of Guys

Interesting TED talk by Psychologist Philip Zimbardo. The presentation is only a little over 4 minutes long (one of the short TED talks I've ever heard). In it, he asks, "Why are boys struggling?" He shares some stats (lower graduation rates, greater worries about intimacy and relationships) and suggests a few reasons -- and he asks for your help! Watch his talk, then take his short 10-question survey:

I have been working with teenagers for well over 16+ years. I have seen this almost every day working adolescent boys. So much here in this short presentation. Not a lot of new revelation, but the data is great to reflect on then ask, "What can we do to change the tide of the demised guy?"

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Confessions of a Christian Homeseller/buyer

We have been trying to sell our home for about 2.5 months. It's a really tough market and going to get tougher as we can see by the economic news of recent days. So needless to say when we got the first offer to buy our house, we moved heaven and earth to get the deal done honorably, fairly, and reasonably without losing the proverbial shirts off our back. We got the deal done in about 3 hours with our realtor on vacation in northern MI (thx, John, you rocked it!)

Then we turned around and started the mad rush to find home very quickly given we were closing in 30 days and needed to get the kids registered in a new school district and school in less time than that. Long story short: we found our house on the first day and put a reasonable and negotiable offer on that day. That was a week ago. Time seem to come to screeching halt or at least move in slow motion as negotiated with the realtor of a 89 woman whose kids live in KY and CA.

So here's the confession. Because we like the house so much and have to move rather quickly to get the other pieces into place, I have been praying like a man on fire! Talk about your prayer without ceasing. The problem is...I've prayed more for this house deal in the last week than I have in the last year for friends of mine who are far away from Jesus. I've prayed more in this week that God would work a miracle to sell that house to us than I have for those being rocked by famine and unjust food distribution systems. It seems like I have prayed more in this week for that house to move into our possession in a timely fashion than I have for my own children's hearts to be soft to Jesus. Ugh. Those hurt.

I'm sorry, Jesus. Please forgive me.

This has consumed me. And I have to ask myself honestly why? Materialism? Security? Selfishness? Care for my family? Whacked priorities? Lack of faith? Need? Desire? Both? Etc etc etc.

Can you relate? Have you gone/are you going through similar circumstances? What were/are you consumed by and how did/does that differ from other things you should be consumed by? How do you respond? How does God respond?

I believe through it all God is not up there pointing the finger at me going, "Shame on you, Seth. Shame. On. You!" No, I believe he is down here nudging me/prompting me/leading me saying, "This house selling/buying is important. I know it is. But don't let it blind you to what is more important to me: loving Me by following Jesus and loving others. Let what consumes me consume you. I'll take care of you. Remember I have your best interesting at heart."

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Shock Waves of Marital Selfishness

Life is good...yes. But life is also hard...especially relationships. And no relationship can be harder than the one between a husband and wife in the context of marriage.

How can I say that? Because my 16 years of marriage (this month) to my amazing wife, Kelly, tells me that much. Hard painful realities about me, she, we, and everything in between that scream we are selfish, prideful, and hurtful people (me more so than Kelly) who are in desperate need of saving, healing, and loving. Our marriage takes tons of work (more work than I'm sure I give it).

And what's crazy is that my marriage is a cake walk compared to other marriages I have seen up-close or from afar. I have counseled, married, re-counseled dozens upon dozens of couples who have struggled with trust, abuse, power, anger, violence and affairs in the context of married life. It's brutal what many endure/have endured in the name of "love".

Marriage is hard. Plain and simple

So when I saw that Jennifer Lopez broke her silence about why she and Marc Anthony decided to divorce, I was curious as to what she had to say. An affair? Domestic violence? Financial deceit? Nope...none of was this:

"'It’s not that I didn’t love myself before. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are compromising ourselves. To understand that a person is not good for you, or that that person is not treating you in the right way, or that he is not doing the right thing for himself—if I stay, then I am not doing the right thing for me. I love myself enough to walk away from that now,' she says."

There is so much in this statement I don't know about, but if I take it at face value, it reeks of selfishness. And that kind of selfishness is already running rampant in so many marriages. But when a star of J. Lo's prominence states it "for the record", the shock waves can have a huge impact on marriages calling it quits simply because "I love myself enough to walk away."

Marriage is easy to enter into. Marriage is hard to live out. Divorce is easy to enter into. Marriage fallout is hard to live out. I would suggest entering into either having done all the hard work of seeing if marriage/spouse is right for you and then divorce if you've done everything to save it, seek understanding about yourself and serve the other.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

History of Rap 2

Rappin and rockin and bringin da funk again! Justin and Jimmy and The Roots flip another killer performance of the history of rap through the last few decades. Awesome! Once again it's why I love the interwebs and think Al Gore is super neato for inventing it.

Here is MTV's article walking us through the set list:

"Over the next five minutes, he and Fallon ripped through two dozen classics, opening with Kurtis Blow's legendary "The Breaks," before segueing into another early rap totem, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message," complete with both men busting out their best robot dance moves.

It's easy to sound great when you've got the Roots backing you up, and the band was more than up to the task, hitting the right bass-heavy tone for N.W.A.'s "Express Yourself," as Fallon and Timberlake traded off on a verse, then nimbly pivoting into a peek at Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise." Curiously, it was Fallon who did most of the heavy vocal lifting, taking on the chorus to Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock's "It Takes Two" as Timberlake jived behind him and added the song's indelible yelps.

From there they busted through a variety of hip-pop standards: Salt n' Pepa's pelvic-thrusting "Push It," a tiny taste of Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby," Black Sheep's "The Choice Is Yours," Cypress Hills' "Insane in the Brain" and a hip-swiveling throwdown of DJ Kool's party anthem, "Let Me Clear My Throat." The pair had clearly rehearsed the bit to a T, because neither stumbled even for a moment during the routine. Whether it was their thuggish ruggish take on DMX's thudding "Up in Here," Timberlake's swishing falsetto break on Nelly's "Hot in Herre" (which lead to an awkward moment where both men seemed to question their sexuality for a brief second), or their intertwined duet on 50 Cent's "In da Club," the music just flowed seamlessly.

Timberlake gave the crowd a bit of sugar during Outkast's "Hey Ya," shaking his booty while Fallon sang the verse, before both men took on the falsetto chorus. They then teased Lil Wayne's "A Milli" and got their Auto-Tune on for DJ Khaled's "All I Do Is Win."

While Fallon needs a bit of work, clearly nobody has to school Timberlake in the finer art of Cali Swag District's "Teach Me How to Dougie," though the former boy-band star did have to ease his co-star back a bit when Jimmy got a tad too into character and in the cameraman's face during a menacing trip through Rick Ross' "Blowing Money Fast."

"Jimmy, Jimmy, stop ... why do you always do that?" a concerned Timberlake said as he pulled his pal back.

The whole shebang ended with the boys trading lines on Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" and then rolling out into the studio and getting the audience to help them sing the chorus. "Clap your hands, everybody, if you got what it takes, cuz I'm Justin, I'm Jimmy and we want you to know that these are the breaks," they chanted as they brought it all home."

If you missed the first one, click here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why and How to Save Great Teachers

Living in Ohio and working in education make for a tumultuous time of employment. Our governor has proposed a radical state bill (SB 5) that has come under serious fire. It's filled with some radical ideas as to how to save money and reform education (among other things) in the state in order to bring about change and save money in an economy that is wrecked.

He has a done a horrible job communicating the values/ideas behind the bill. I think he thought he was going to ride the coat tails of New Jersey and Wisconsin who have passed some radical legislation as it pertains to education and unions. Along the way he's said some stupid things that have infuriated people and have blocked them hearing some of the honest, necessary change that parts of this bill really propose (and that we need).

In light of the bill and other budget cuts, school districts across the country are forced to lay off amazing teachers in the name of an asinine rule: Last In. First Out. After watching Waiting for "Superman" last night and visiting its website and, I truly believe that this practice must go now!

Here is a video that does an amazing job of communicating values and vision behind one component that could help save great teachers and put students first in our mission to help them achieve academic success.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Are You An Open-For-Feedback Parent?

So today we had a great time celebrating Sarah's birthday with 11 of her friends. Great time. Great girls. Great memories.

Tonight as Kelly and I were looking back on the day, we couldn't help but talk about how unique and different each of Sarah's friends were. Extroverts and introverts. Funny and serious. Critical thinkers and expressive thinkers. Tomboys and girly girls. So fascinating to watch them all laugh, play and interact with each other.

As we were talking about each girl, Kelly says to me, "What do you think people say about our kids?" To which I said, "I have no idea, but I would love some real, honest feedback on what others see when we aren't around."

I think this would be so helpful to have these insights from others who maybe see things we don't about our kids weaknesses and/or strengths. Why you may ask. Because we don't have it all figured out. We need help like everyone else.

I would also love to give some honest parenting feedback to some friends, family and strangers, but most of us get too defensive. "How dare you talk about my kids that way." "Who are you talk talk bad about my kid or my parenting?" "You have no idea what you are talking about...I work hard at being the best parent I can be!" Those are just a few of the things we might say in defense.

One thing I try and do is ask as honestly and transparently as I can when I pick my kids up from somewhere being with someone is how were they? Did they behave, play nicely, use manors, treat others with respect? In other words...I'd love some feedback if you have any that you think might help me parent/raise/mold/shape my kid.

So let me ask...why is it so hard to receive good, honest, and, yes, sometimes hard feedback about our kids? What keeps us from being open to parenting feedback? What keeps us from developing the kind of community or friendships where we can give this kind of feedback? I know I want to and need to keep growing in this area.

I really believe we can and would become better parents raising healthier kids if we made ourselves available to becoming open-for-feedback parents.

American Pie + Grand Rapids = Awesome

In the immortal words of Liz Lemon...I want to go to there.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How Dogs Sleep

I don't know about your dog, but our dog, Foster, sleeps like this more often than not.

Words that come to mind ouch! What the?!

How does your dog sleep?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why I'm a Comment Voyeur

Is it a sign of getting older or more lazy? Maybe it's my love of people watching. But I almost enjoy reading the comments on an online article more than I enjoy reading the article itself. I find myself skimming the post or article so fast that I barely get the gist of it just so I can get to the comments faster.

I think the bottom line reason for this is: the comments tell me a lot more about people in general than the article ever will. The comments tell me hopes and fears. Ideologies and theologies. Purposes and passions. Loves and hate. What makes people tick and think. What makes them zig and what makes them zag.

Take this interesting short blurb of an article on Stephen Hawking's take on the afterlife. It's short, sweet, and to the point as to what he think of previously published views of God and science and current views of the afterlife and what will win. All interesting stuff.

But look at the comments...all 19,343 by the time I wrote this post. They are fascinating! They tell us so much about people and their views of religion, the religious, God, His people, and their experiences with all of the above and then some.

If you have a hard knowing and/or understanding where people are at in regards to spiritual things (whatever the article is about i.e. politics, culture, parenting, education etc), skim the article and READ the comments. If you have a hard time thinking about how people think about God, Jesus followers, the church, etc (as well as America, Republicans, Democrats, Lady Gaga, teachers etc) then graze the article and devour the comments. They are a treasure chest full of insight as to how people think, feel, and believe. And if we know that stuff, we might - with God's help - just be able to better love, engage and serve those that are far away from Him (or whatever is we might believe).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Young Adult Book Review

One of the great thing about my job when I was a youth pastor and now as a guidance counselor is that I get to be a cultural exegete. I get to dig into the culture (probably sub-culture) of teenagers and see what it says, figure out how it impacts teenagers, and use it as a means to tell a story whether it be about motivation, reconciliation, character, courage, forgiveness, empathy, bullying, boundaries, hope, dreams, meaning, purpose, friendship, community, etc. I use music, movies, books, fashion, language, places/spaces, etc to help understand the world of teenagers for me, them, youth workers, teachers, and parents.

So with my new position, I've been very intentional about asking good exegetical questions about the students world in my building. What are you watching, listening to, and reading? Where are you going/where are you hanging out? Who are you going with? What are you doing? All of these questions and more.

One of the worlds that I've always talked about tapping into is the literature of teenagers...specifically the books that they are reading. Two books I have read over the past year have been The Hunger Games Trilogy and Unwind. Both books are Dystopian books (think opposite of utopian).

Even though I'm late to the game, here's my attempt a review:

The Hunger Games Trilogy:

Great series! Loved this book about post-war America that is divided into 13 districts and rules by a central government. There is lots of death (grim and gruesome), propaganda, war, violence, a love triangle (nothing sexual), addiction, courage, self-discovery, sacrifice, and lots of twist and turns that affect those coming of age. It is an amazing non-stop ride of action, adventure, and suspense with lots of character development along the way. This is not your momma's young adult book, but well worth it. My wife even loved it!


This is one intense book not only in the plot but also in it's content. This is post-Second Civil War which is fought under the umbrella of the abortion issue. This book deals with the cultural, familial, relational, political, and spiritual dynamics that affect the meaning and sanctity of life. This book and it's issues are not for the faint of heart. Bring your thinking cap as you wrestle with the themes that are laid out in the story of three kids on the run from perceived meaning to real value. You will dig this book, it's themes, and how they make you take stuff of things that matter in life.

(bu to my good friend/mentor, great thinker, book devourer, and adolescent guru, Marko, and his many book reviews for inspiring me in this area)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Shot Rings Out in the Memphis Sky

As America watches college men play for a basketball national title, may we take a moment to remember a man who lived and died for so much more. May you and I remember the humble and passionate Martin Luther King Jr. who gave his life for something greater than himself: his God, his country and his people.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Takers Not Makers

It's a sad stat and state we find ourselves in as Americans: we take more than we make. An editorial article in the Wall Street Journal by Stephen Moore outlines this fundamental shift in values. Now I know he is talking about some seemingly archaic industries, but trend is alarming none the less and raises the question...where are we going as a nation?

Here is a taste of the article:

"More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?"

Read the rest of the article here.

But you know what else I find interesting...this is true in the Church. Our American culture, ecclesiastical consumerism, and church values have led to this. We'd rather sit in our pews, chairs, or theater style seating and take in a message and music without having to give sacrificially out of time, money, and/or talents. We leave it to the pastors, ministers, and priests to do the works of ministry where all of us should be making, creating, and creating ministry opportunities. Francis Chan in his book, Crazy Love, talk about the characteristics of takers in the Church or as he puts in, Lukewarm Christians (Chapter 4).

(bu to David S via Facebook status update)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love Story Meets Viva la Vida

I dig Coldplay. My 8 year old daughter, Sarah, digs Taylor Swift. So when a friend tweeted the link to a video "Love Story Meets Viva la Vida", well, I just had to listen.

It brought a smile to my face...

...and a tear to my eye.

His story/his version of the song (in this link here) and it's inspiration is tender and sweet and about the connect to music and the heart between him and his little girl.

This video version of the song is for my Sarah. I love you, baby!

Check out his music of "Pachelbel's Canon in D Meets U2." Very I want a do-over for the song that Kelly's walks down the aisle to at our wedding...

(bu to Kiel K)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dysfunctional Ramblings

I'm not quite ready to move. Thought I was, but...

I was thinking over this thread and am going to wonder "out loud" with you all. We are all in this place together like it or not. We have a part to play, a script to speak.

I wonder if we've become unsafe to each other. Time and distance can dull our hearts to trust and empathize with each other. I've known that to be true in my journey, but it's become more real for me with us, too.

I wonder if we've become judgmental in how we view each other: how we follow Jesus, how we parent our kids, how we handle our marriages. Judgment puts me in a position where I draw lines that communicate I'm better than you, I'm right and you're wrong, and somehow my shit don't stink.

I wonder if we have some unconfessed sin in our life towards each other that keeps us from living authentically. This one is working on me, I must confess. Still trying to unearth what God wants to reveal to me here.

I wonder if we have some unshared hurt, pain, wound, pivotal piece of our story that no one else knows about (save our spouse) that keeps us from drawing close to each other. And even if we've shared those issues with someone else do we feel like we've truly been heard.

I wonder if resentment, bitterness, jealousy, etc. blocks our paths of truly being connected to each other.

I wonder if we don't like what the other has become. Have we placed some internal or external expectation on one another as to what we should have become? And in those expectations have we fallen short of what we thought you should be or do?

I wonder if we will ever have the courage and humility to listen to each other, share with each other, comfort each other, apologize to each other, speak truth in love to each other (outside of Facebook).

And, lastly, I wonder with you (reluctantly) this...where is Jesus in all of this? Is he leading you, me, us? Or is he here, but standing back waiting for us to acknowledge his presence with us in this mire? Are we praying for each other? I'll be honest...I haven't been until now. We might even have to start praying for each other as...dare I say...enemies? If that's the only command that will get us to pray for us...I say yes. I wonder what some outsiders who know us and love us would say if we brought them in to look, listen, and share with us their insights?

No need to respond. This is just me writing some thoughts down for myself, but also for you and since this pertains to us and our future, I share it with you as well. Just thought I'd share it with you.

Now I might be ready to move on. Maybe...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

On the Rise?

This was one of my favorite commercials from the Super Bowl...


Sunday, January 30, 2011

30 Days Homeless

Since I haven't been blogging consistently for 1.5+ years, I miss opportunities to highlight some really cool things that cross my path, make me think, challenge my living, etc. I really should have highlighted this earlier in the month, but just wasn't thinking that way. Shame on me. Better late than never?

Anywho, the church we attend has been highlighting this month a pastors pledge and passion to bring awareness to the plight of the homeless here in Dayton. Ryan Riddell is bringing light to a very dark place and giving names to those men and women who live on the streets of the city I live in. He is doing this by living homeless himself for 30 days in the month of January. Some really powerful stuff as he brings the homeless statistics to life by interacting with the very people these numbers represent.

You can follow Ryan and his buddy's journey at by watching video journals, interviews, and sketch work art. It's pretty radical and powerful stuff. I'm not sure what to do with it yet. We are tapped in regards to where/how much we give. Is there a time element that God wants me to give away? Is there a relational component that he's asking me to invest in? Is there a prayer piece that he's calling me to partake in? Something else?

I wonder what is going on in your city to bring to light a very dark, depressing, and desperate world. Is your church doing something? Is your small group reaching out? Are you engaging the issue spiritually and practically and financially?

I know for me this is an issue/these are a people that sometimes I'd like to wish did not exist. It's a scary place to enter into with the violence, drug use, and mental health issues. Plus sometimes it doesn't fit my "pull yourself up by your boot straps or self-reliant" cultural/political ideologies.

It wrecks me. Jesus wrecks me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What Keeps You Working Where You Work?

This is one of my favorite articles in the year. It's about the best companies to work for in America as rated by employees. I've been reading this article for about 4-5 years now.

But this year an employee quote really got me. Got me thinking. Got me wondering. Got me looking (not for another job or employer). Got me listening. Here's the quote:

"People stay at SAS in large part because they are happy, but to dig a little deeper, I would argue that people don't leave SAS because they feel regarded — seen, attended to and cared for. I have stayed for that reason, and love what I do for that reason."

People don't leave...they feel regarded. Seen. Attended to. Cared for.

Wow...that is deep...vocationally, emotionally, communally, and spiritually deep. It speaks of value both for the individual and to the team. It speaks of value that who I am and what I do matter to the company, to the culture, and to the coin (or bottom line).

You can hate what you do even though you love what you do because you are not valued. It doesn't mean you don't become a slacker and not work hard or do the right thing. Even though your boss (bosses) is an ass, egotistical, aloof, etc. can play a HUGE part in what you feel about what you do that doesn't mean you pass that on to your staff, students, clients, and/or team.

But it's a reality that how we value people matters...and not just with words, but with some jack/perks/schwag/etc that is creative, thoughtful, and intentional. This article is filled with all sorts of value-added perks that make people feel regarded and, thus, love doing what they love doing, simply like doing or maybe even hate doing.

Makes me what want to lead, serve, and be apart of creating a culture of seeing, attending, and caring for those that work for me and with me. Makes me wonder what I'm doing to make that happen right now in the school in which I work. Makes me what to take account of my work/ministry culture by asking and listening to the heart of those in the trenches with me.

The Hunger Site

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