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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Movie Trailers Rock

I'm just going to admit it: I LOVE movie trailers. I like 'em almost as much as I like the movies themselves. I hate missing movie previews in the theater. In fact, if I feel like I am going to miss previews, I try and find another movie time later in the day or another day all together so I don't miss previews. Kelly can attest to it...I'll probably be late for my own funeral, but I will NEVER be late for previews at a movie!

With that being said, when I saw this Yahoo! link to the most viewed movie trailers of 2009, I had to see it. But this movie trailer was the best and I TOTALLY missed it this year. How?! How did I miss the trailer AND the movie? Crazy. Needless to say, I am putting it at the top of my Netflix queue. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

O Holy Night

Is there a more anticipated night in all the earth than the one on Christmas Eve? If there is, I can't imagine it. Kids wondering if Christmas morning will ever come. Parents wondering if there is enough time in the night to put together and wrap those last minute gifts. I pray that on this most holy and silent of nights that you and I would not forget Jesus gave up heaven for a barn and a life of poverty to show us a new way of loving, a new way of living...a trill of hope!

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Do They See What I See

I dig that Christmas carol that goes "Do you hear what I hear?" Cool tune which ironically I have not heard much this Christmas season. But the one time I did hear it, I got me to think about the other senses we use: see what I see, smell what I smell (could be gross), touch what I touch (could be awkward), and taste what I taste (could be yummy).

But I began to reflect on see what I see and a connection to my kids. I began to think about what my kids see in me and how that molds and shapes their views of Jesus. Good or bad. And to be honest, I've been a little shaken by that. What a daunting responsibility.

As I have been thinking of that during this past week, I've both critical of myself (that I fall way short and will never be the "model" my kids need me to be) and challenged to embrace my inadequacy with Jesus at work within me and point them to Him.

But like the New Testament writer and apostle, Paul, I do want my kids to "follow me as I follow Christ". So I began to make a list of the things that I perceive my kids seeing in my that they might think to be true of Jesus. Then I made a list of things that I desire my kids to see in me that honest pursuits of being like Jesus.

My perceptions list: discouraged, temperamental, sad, loving, "on my own time", disengaged, critical, frustrated (even angry), and maybe somewhat loving/nuturing. That's a pretty rough list and to be honest I've been struggling the past few weeks with some depressive feelings. Maybe it's not that rough, but that is my perception at the moment. But even in good times, I don't get it right all the time and there are somethings that I do because of habit, wiring, or learned that healthy spiritually, emotionally, and, thus, parentally.

My wish list: honest, humble, brave, dependent, gentle, just, servant, diligent, gracious, engaging, and loving. That's a pretty huge list where the bar is set high and sometimes, maybe most times, I feel as though uber unattainable. But God has been reminding me that even in the dark, depressive times it's not about me trying harder, working harder. Instead, it's about trusting Him more, choosing the way/life of Jesus more, living in grace more, asking for courage more, choosing joy more, and ultimately pointing to Jesus more.

So what do Sarah, Parker, and even Kelly for that matter see in me? A deformed Jesus? A sad Jesus? A passive Jesus? Or do they see an authentic, redemptive Jesus who makes old things new, desolate places full of life, scared ones braves, and jacked up people beautiful?

Just some thoughts I need to put down where I write the truth that I am working on stuff in my life with Jesus because he's working in/on me.

How about you? What is your perception (good or bad) about what your kids or others for that matter see in you that they project to be true about Jesus? I pray for God's grace as you trust and follow him so that 1) you see Jesus for who he really is and 2) you might be able to help other see and experience an authentic life pursuant of Jesus and then hopefully an accurate (or as accurate as we can model) reality of who Jesus is.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

U2 360 Tour Highlights - Unknown Caller

I would pay to go see U2 again simply based on this songs live performance. My video doesn't do it justice, but it was awesome!

Friday, November 06, 2009

A New Addition to Our Family

After 14 years of wanting and waiting we have finally taken the plunge into puppydom. Ever since I graduated and got a full-time school counseling gig and we got Kelly home, we have been in serious talks about getting a dog. We knew what we wanted and after weeks of just looking and waiting, we finally found the right breeder, with the right dog, at the right price, and in the right location.

So on November 1st we packed up the kids for a surprise road trip to "search for an early Christmas treasure. We meet the breeder (who amazingly cared for 11 puppies from the litter), her two kids, her mom, and two of the puppies on the IN/IL border to discover our new puppy.

Long story were stoked when the puppy exchange took place. In fact so excited that Sarah was speechless with almost a sad look because she couldn't believe this was really happening. We hung out for about an hour and got to know each other (both puppy and people) before we packed the car back up and headed home for Dayton with our new puppy...Foster (named after the Australian lager).

Foster is a very good puppy. A bit shy and timid, but that is to be expected in the environment without his brothers/sisters and with new owners. We are working on positive reinforcement to boost his confidence as we play, walk, and train. Kelly and the kids are walking him to school each and everyday and everyone loves it! He does great with new people and new dogs (he has 3 new dog friends in our cul-de-sac...they play and play and play). He loves to play in the huge pile of leave I have in the front yard.

He is doing well on potty training with just a few accidents in the first couple of days. The last couple of days I believe we are accident free. He is even going all night without getting up (we are stoked about that!). Plus he loves his kennel.

We took him to the vet who said he was healthy and had no worms so that's great. Everyone who comes in contact with him adore and who are we to disagree! They love his markings, coloring and overall look. We are grateful for such such a cool pooch!

11/21 addendum: I would be the worst son-in-law ever if I forgot to mention my favorite mom-in-law. She was a big part in tipping the scales for Kelly in favor of getting a dog when she told her how easy it would be to train and care for a dog in the fall/early winter. Thanks, Mom!

Here are a few pics from our first day together as a fam:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Taste of Oak Hills

Wow! It's been a loooong time between posts! Crazy how in some ways I really miss blogging regularly and in other ways I don't.

I need to finish my posts from the U2 concert as well as share about the new addition to the Rings family. But for now, I'll share a little news video done on the school where I work, lead, and serve. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Saturday Morning Experience

I remember these days so well as a kid. I am now experiencing them as a parent. Life comes full circle in some funny ways...Saturday morning cartoons is one of them.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Little Soldier Girl

One of the more heart wrenching photo's I've seen in a long time. Here is a taste of the article which can be read in full here:

A family photo that shows a little girl beside her father and his fellow soldiers in uniform as they prepare to go to war has resonated well beyond the tight knit Bennethum clan.

Four-year-old Paige Bennethum really, really didn't want her daddy to go to Iraq.

So much so, that when Army Reservist Staff Sgt. Brett Bennethum lined up in formation at his deployment this July, she couldn't let go.

No one had the heart to pull her away.

May you and I not simply pray for the soldiers, but also their families - wives, husbands, sons, daughters, parents - who have to live with the agony not knowing whether they will see their "daddy" ever again.

I can hardly imagine what that must be like.

U2 360 Tour Highlights - Until the End of the World

Another great song. Not my favorite of the night, but still awesome!

Oprah's Flash Mob

Used to be a huge Oprah fan, but have lost touch with her since she became overly political and preachy. But big ups to her staff and the Black Eyed Peas who surprised her with the HUGE flash mob on Michigan Avenue.

Does this mean flash mobs are now mainstream? You be the judge. But regardless, I still love these things.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

U2 360 Tour Highlights - The Unforgettable Fire

A great albeit unexpected song - The Unforgettable Fire - was on the show docket in Chicago. I was stoked!

Monday, September 28, 2009

U2 360 Tour Highlights - Vertigo

Uno. Dos. Tres. Catorce! Vertigo was one of the funnest songs of the show.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

U2 360 Tour Highlights - I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight

One of my favorite songs from the cd, No Line on the Horizon, and one of the best performances from the night of the concert...

Prayer for the Weak

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

U2 360 Tour Highlights - Sunday Bloody Sunday

Maybe U2's opus: Sunday Bloody Sunday from War and Live Under a Blood Red Sky. Simply one of the all-time great anthem's for any and all generations.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

U2 360 Tour Highlights - Walk On

One of my favorites from All That You Can't Leave Behind...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

THE Most AMAZING Basketball Shot EVER!

This is insane! This clip is from the third level of the stadium:

This clip is from the field level:

Read the story here from the Ball Don't Lie blog.

Monday, September 21, 2009

U2 360 Tour Highlights - One

From Achtung Baby, I give you "One".

Sunday, September 20, 2009

U2 360 Tour Highlights

Last week on this day, I was walking Michigan Ave. in Chicago with my wife, Kelly, sister, Marcie, and sis-in-law, Toni getting psyched up for the concert that was going to take place in a few hours: U2. I got this great idea while waiting in line for concert t-shirts: why don't I video 30 secondish clips of each song that U2 plays!

Well, it was a great idea until I realized about half way through the show that I didn't have enough memory! AAAHHH. So I had to do some editing/deleting on the fly. And so what I was left with was some of my favorite snippets of the best concert I have ever seen live.

I'll be posting one clip a day until I have no more clips left to post. They are any where between 15-60 seconds long. It'll give you a glimps into my experience, the show, and where we sat in relation to the stage (the video makes it seem like we were further away than we really were. We had great seats!).

To start if off, I'll post three of the shorter clips from concert day/night:

Opening Act on Michigan Ave

Opening act was really Snow Patrol. Didn't see much of them, but they sound good.

Amazing Grace

Irish Boy

Prayer for the Weak

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Musical Mecca

This weekend is big deal for me. It's a long time coming.


Since I started listening to them in elementary school on mix tape made for me by my brother, Blane, with War and U2 Live Under a Blood Red Sky, I've always wanted to see these guys live. Had a chance in Denver, but had no money due to being a poor seminary student. Then I had a chance to see them in Pittsburgh, but the asinine powers-that-be at the church I pastored at wouldn't let me have the time/evening off.

But through it all I kept telling we are going to see them if it's the last thing we do, before they become a crap band (at which time I know U2 will pull their own musical plug). And so, long story short: We are going to see U2 this weekend in Chicago on their opening nights of the USA leg of the 360 Tour. Kelly, sister, sis-in-law are going, too.

I am stoked beyond belief. It will be a Beautiful Day!

I just saw this on a buddies are my top eleven favorite U2 songs:

1. Bad - The Unforgettable Fire
2. New Years Day - War
3. Running to Stand Still - The Joshua Tree
4. 40 - War
5. All Because of You - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
6. I Will Follow - Boy
7. Elevation - All That You Can't Leave Behind
8. Walk On - All That You Can't Leave Behind
9. One - Achtung Baby
10. Pride (In The Name of Love) - The Unforgettable Fire
11. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - Joshua Tree

11b-z: Gloria, I Fall Down, October, Vertigo, Out of Control, Sweetest Thing, Grace, Mysterious Ways, Trying to Throw Your Arms Around The World, Vertigo, Where the Streets Have No Name, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, Hawkmoon 269, When Love Comes To Town, Surrender, Desire, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own...

How about you? Got 1 or 10 favorite U2 songs or albums?

Michael Jackson Remix

This is a pretty cool remix/video edit of a one man acapella vocal band performing some Jacko stuff.

Long Time No Post

Wow! It has been a long time between posts. New job, another part-time job, and two hour commute puts on a damper on some things I really enjoy...blogging being one of them. With that being said I've had to put some things on the back burner and Held Up High falls into that list.

So here we go with some quick hits about stuff I'm doing and enjoying. I'll post some picks later this week or next of my growing family, thoughts on my trip to California, and reflections on my new job as a school counselor.

Grace and peace to you and yours!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I'd Rather Have Jesus

I'm going to admit something here that I have never shared with anyone else other than my wife. Ready? Here it is:

I'm a closet Gaither music fan.

There I said it. It's out there. If it's on PBS, TBS, Mtv, VH1 or wherever, I'm usually watching it or flipping back to it if I'm also watching something else. Whew...I feel so much better now! Can we can move on.

So tonight I am relaxin' on the couch when I flip by this Gaither promo advertising one of their dvd/cd collections when the song "I'd Rather Have Jesus" is being highlighted by the vocals of the Crabb Family singers. You can click here on the link to see the performance.

Well, I was completely surprised by the Holy Spirit in this moment to the point of tears. These lyrics by Rhea F. Miller and music by George Beverly Shea overwhelmed me and resounded in my soul. Here are the words:

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

I so want these lyrics to be true of my living, breathing, and loving. I want my bank account to reflect these heart cries and realities. I want those around me - near and far from Jesus - to see these words in me. I want my values and behaviors to find soil in truths like this.

So for the next few days or so, this poem/song is going to be the springboard for prayer in the mornings as I drive to work. From there, may my life and, if necessary, words invite others to move deeper with Jesus and/or wonder what it means to "rather have my Jesus" than anything.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Youth MiniSTARS Music Video

All I can say is awesome! Kanye (kinda, but not really) meets youth pastor in this parody music video. When I watched this video for the first time, I'm 99.9% postive that whoever filmed this lives in, around, or in close proximity to West Chester, OH. Why do I know this? Because they filmed a scene from the video at The Cone (love that place!) which is right by where my sis, bro-in-law, and nephews live.

I see that Student Life produced the video. Any of my Cincy area peeps recognize any of the playaz in da vid?


(bu to Tim)

Prayer of the Weak

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sign of the Apocalypse

Potbellies unite! Just when I started losing mine, the "beer gut" became hip. I was ahead of my time and didn't even know it. This clearly is a sign of Jesus coming back or at the minimum, Jenny Craig.

Here's a taste (pun intended) of the NY Times article:

“I sort of think the six-pack abs obsession got so prissy it stopped being masculine,” is how Aaron Hicklin, the editor of Out, explains the emergence of the Ralph Kramden. What once seemed young and hot, for gay and straight men alike, now seems passé. Like manscaping, spray-on tans and other metrosexual affectations, having a belly one can bounce quarters off suggests that you may have too much time on your hands.

“It’s not cool to be seen spending so much time fussing around about your body,” Mr. Hicklin said.

And so guys can happily and guiltlessly go to seed.

And here is a reaction from a woman's website:

If the New York Times says “it’s hip to be round,” it must be true. According to the paper of record, it is officially cool for dudes to “rock a potbelly.” I’ve always been a secret fan of a well-rounded pot, and I’ve seen several of these burgeoning guts this summer with my own eyes, jiggling in all of their glory around the hip streets of Brooklyn, New York. I mean, who am I to judge? I’m rocking my own little “hot pot.” The day potbellies become trendy for the ladies is the day that pigs fly. But, seriously, why are our dudes getting porky? The hilarious theories after the jump.

  • Shirts are cut too small. Good point, but we know you’re buying a medium instead of a large to show off that pot!
  • Men need to have that extra layer to metaphorically “protect” themselves from all the women in the work place. Not buying this one.
  • In ironic opposition to the hotness of Obama. It’s true. It’s hard to live up to his superhero status. So, if McCain were elected, would our dudes be slimming down?
  • The recession. Stress increases stomach fat. Comfort foods. All very possible.
  • It’s too “metro” to be in shape. Kind of agree. I’m not really looking for a guy who spends more time at the gym than me.
How are you doing at rocking that apocalyptic potbelly?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sadly True Sometimes

Sometimes this is uncomfortably true.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Kings of Leon

Seems like I am always looking for new music, artists, and bands to keep me music library somewhat fresh and up to date given the fact that I am 37 years old. That's much easier said than done. But while I was in San Diego last week (more to come in another post), I finally heard someone talking about this band, Kings of Leon. I'd seen they were pretty popular on the music charts these days, but just hadn't talk with anyone listening to them.

I bit the bullet and downloaded the album, Only by the Night. Wow! Great album. Now I'll be the first to admit that I haven't disected all the lyrics, but music and vocals are right on. Just about every song on the album is outstanding. I've probably listened to it 3x a day, everyday since I've returned home from the west coast.

If you are in the hunt for some new tunes and dig an rock/alternative sound, check these guys out. If you are looking for the re-incarnation of Russ Taff (even though he's not dead) in a cool, hip new band (actually have about 4 albums), then Kings of Leon and it's lead singer are for you.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blogging at 30,000ft

I'm taking a new step in my internets journey and blogging experience. I'm writing this post at 30,000ft above the face of the earth. I know! Crazy!. Airtran was handing out free trail passes to experience gogo inflight internet. And I've got to say it's pretty cool.

Now what makes it so cool is it's free, but normally it's between $9.95 - $12.95. They have all sorts of expensive price plans ranging from one flight access, 24 hr access, and 30 day access. All of it is too right for my bank account. I wonder how long it will be before it's free (why do I think everything on the internet should be free?).

So there you have it. I can officially cross this off my bucket list.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wedding Entrance of a Lifetime!

I love traditional wedding entrances. Kelly and the wedding party came down to Pacbell's Canon in D. Beautiful, elegant, and amazing. I cried like a baby.

But I have to tell you, I love this wedding entrance. Love. It. In fact there is a part of me that is way jealous we didn't do something like this. This is full of love, celebration, exuberance, joy, and community as this man and this women and their friends and family join together to express in dance what is going on in their hearts!

I watched this video with a huge smile in my face and tears in my eyes at the joy expressed and the beauty danced. Simply awesome!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

100 Things Our Kids May Never Know About

Saw this great list over on Wired. Nothing sad about it...just a riot to think of some of high tech gadgetry/technology that I have lived through in my short lifetime. Crazy.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. High-speed dubbing.
  2. 8-track cartridges.
  3. Vinyl records. Even today’s DJs are going laptop or CD.
  4. Betamax tapes.
  5. Laserdisc: the LP of DVD.
  6. Scanning the radio dial and hearing static between stations. (Digital tuners + HD radio bork this concept.)
  7. Blowing the dust out of a NES cartridge in the hopes that it’ll load this time.
  8. Turning a PlayStation on its end to try and get a game to load.
  9. Joysticks.
  10. Booting your computer off of a floppy disk.
  11. Recording a song in a studio.
  12. Finding out information from an encyclopedia.
  13. Using a road atlas to get from A to B.
  14. Doing bank business only when the bank is open.
  15. Shopping only during the day, Monday to Saturday.
  16. Phone books and Yellow Pages.
  17. “Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.” But they’ve already seen episode III, so it’s no big surprise.
  18. Having to manually unlock a car door.
  19. Spending your entire allowance at the arcade in the mall.
  20. Relying on the 5-minute sport segment on the nightly news for baseball highlights.
This is just the tip of the iceberg as to how much parenting, youth ministry, education, and our kids have changed over the years. We wonder how we are going to keep up with the changes. How will I keep up with the times? What will the world like in the next 2-3 years (not 10-15 like we used to say)?

But at the heart of even this funny/techy look at how the world of our kids is changing, one fact will always remain the same: they long to be known and loved by real life people (parents, family, friends, and healthy, caring adults in their lives). And you know what? We can do that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Very interesting findings on Millennial's take on the institution of marriage over on Ypulse. I don't necessarily hear this stuff a lot, but it's definitely the vibe I get from late teens and twentysomethings most of the time.

Here's a teaser:

- Among the unmarried young adults, despite all their romantic relationships, most say they aren't in a hurry to wed. Fifty-seven percent say they don't want to be married "now" and 17 percent are "neutral" on the subject. Only 26 percent say they are ready to take the leap.

- Almost everyone plans on getting married. Only 5 percent of unmarried young adults say it's "unimportant" to marry someday, while 50 percent say it's "very important." About 70 percent say they expect to marry by their early 30s.

- Cohabiting with a romantic partner, however, is a distinct possibility. When asked whether they agree with the statement, "It is all right for an unmarried couple to live together even if they are not interested in considering marriage," 57 percent of young adults say yes. Nineteen percent are neutral; 24 percent say no.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Neon Maze

Neon Maze is one of the more addicting maze games online. I'm up to level 15. It's a bit mind numbing, but a decent time waster if you've got it to kill.

You simply guide your "Star Trek Enterpisey" ship through the neon maze on his way to freedom. The levels get progressively longer/more complex the higher you go.

It was fun to play while the kids were having some rest time.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Live Baby Young

What do you get when you combine babies, old school rap, roller skates, and maybe just a little CGI? A slick little commercial promoting Evian bottled water.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Real Beauty

Sarah and I were sitting on the couch last night watching the end of the first couple of SYTYCD finish when the commercials began to roll. When you are sitting with your 7 year old little girl you have to be careful what is thrown on the screen for advertisement sake. It can get a bit dicey.

The first commercial was a plug for Maybeline eye mascara. After the commercial was done, I took this teachable moment to ask a serious and important question.

Me: Sarah, why do you think girls pay a lot of money on makeup and stuff to make themselves seem even more pretty than they already are?

Sarah: I don't know, Daddy. People have so much beauty on their own.

Quick grab the tape recorder! Dang it...none to be found.

She is so right. We have so much beauty on our own. God has been so good to the crown jewel of his creation. I hope she remembers and lives this out in a few years when teenage perceptions and reality begin to take hold.

Though our soul is marred by sin, we still have so much beauty bestowed on us by our Creator. He is constantly at work reminding us, showing us, leading us, and restoring us to the original beauty that we displayed in the garden before the fall. And this restoration project is not primarily physical, but mainly relational and spiritual in nature. It's not about externals, but it's about the heart.

I pray God's grace will keep that nugget of truth that Sarah spoke last night close to her heart. May this daddy foster a sense of strength and security in his daughter that comes from unconditional love and a knowledge of understanding who her daddy/Daddy is and how much I/He loves her.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Reflections on Michael's Memorial Service

OJ had the trial of the century. Prince Charles and Diana had the wedding of the century. So I guess it goes without say that this was the funeral of the century.

The international outpouring of love, admiration, sadness, and shock was incredible. To see people's connection to a man they cared about but really didn't know because they connected with his image, music, and humanitarian causes, as well as, fascinated about the surgeries and idiosyncrasies for which we felt confusion and pity.

As I sat there with my brother-in-law, Don, I wondered about what I was watching on TV and what an estimated 20,000 people were witnessing live at the Staples Center (not a church, sanctuary or cathedral, but an athletic arena home to the Lakers, Clippers, and Kings). Part memorial service, part tribute concert, and part entertainment extravaganza.

Now let me say this: all things considered, this was very tastefully done. Fairly simple given the person being memorialized and the scope/size of the event. It was thoughtful, honoring, and touching. All things a good memorial service has as elements.

But the whole time I was watching I kept wondering, "How will my Christian community react/slam this service?" How is it not holy enough? How is it not God honoring enough? How is it not sacred enough? And I began to answer to myself, "Yeah. How is that?"

But then I realized how could this service be all those things when those that put it together (most likely) know nothing of the One who gives meaning, beauty, and hope to times and places like that. Save for the pastor Smith that gave the invocation and possibly Rev. Al Sharpton, I didn't seem as though any of the other people had any relationship with Jesus. Spiritual people, yes, but in love with the God of the Universe and the Savior of the world? Probably not.

It was that line of thinking that got me thinking that this is why I love being connected to the spiritual community of the Church through a common bond of Christ. It's the Church and followers of Jesus that help those faraway from Him to make sense of times like these. Because only in a relationship with God does death remotely make sense (and even then it is still a brutal and harsh reality/finality). And only He brings funeral services into clearer focus of what death AND life are all about...Himself: Father, Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

It saddened me that this service didn't point to hope. It didn't give meaning to our existence. It simply idolized a mortal man with a great talent. It communicated to me an emptiness in the biggest compliment paid on that day to a dead man: He was the greatest entertainer ever. Not the best father. Not the most compassionate human being. Not the dearest loving son or brother. So empty. So sad.

This service is a reminder to me and to all followers of Jesus that people need Him. We need Him for eternity yes, but we need Him to help foster in us a deep sense of his love, hope, and peace as we walk in and live our lives by faith in the one who conquered the grave and death so that all the world might live, fully live and share that sacred state with Him and the whole world.

I wonder how you will remember Michael Jackson's memorial service. What does God reveal about Himself even in that place that didn't honor him? How will you be moved to help others see that there is ultimate hope and meaning even when those we love die all around us?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Overreacting Parent

As a parent, I can totally relate. I remember as a kid thinking (and wanting to say) the exact same thing.

It is so easy for me to overreact especially when "things" or "my stuff" gets jacked with by the kids. It's one of those things/issues that I need to continually die to self on while teaching grace to those in my world, particularly my kids, who feel guilty and maybe shameful.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

(In) Dependence Day!

As Kelly, Sarah, Parker, and I celebrate the 4th of July here in central Illinois with our friends Charlie and Jen Dean and their boys, I've been reflecting on this day and what it meant, means, and will continue to mean for our future. While reflecting, I came across this piece by Seth Barnes (the guy I was kinda named after) on his blog.

Here is a taste:

"How ironic that today we celebrate independence from tyrants when only recently, we voted ourselves more government programs and more taxes, the very thing we fought a revolution to resist.

What a strange epoch in which we live, when the Prime Minister of Russia can chide America for becoming too socialist and for moving too far in the direction of dependence on the state. We are in the process of granting government increased control over our lives in many areas, and in the process, are setting in motion a cycle where our children or grandchildren will once more have to fight for independence.

God wants us free to choose him, but he also longs for us to subordinate our freedom and choose to become dependent, not on the state, but on him. We have swung the pendulum so far in the direction of independence when it comes to faith that we no longer really need God. Our stacks of insurance policies represent an effort to minimize the chances of having to depend on anyone other than ourselves."

Check out the rest here.

So as you and yours celebrate this day, may we thank God for those that sacrifice so much to keep us free nationally. But may we be in awe of the One who gave up his only son so that we would be spiritually, eternally, emotionally, relationally, and systematically free from sin, self, shame, and guilt for all time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Class IV and V...

...Here we come!

Communication will be down due to some serious white water rafting. We are taking roughly 35 high school students and adults to W. Va. to make an Epic run down the New River.

Pray for us as we connect with kids during a tough time of transition for the church we attend and the student ministry. Change is never easy.

Pray that students, wherever they are spiritually, take one step closer to loving Jesus and that some would even begin to follow Him. Pray for deeper friendships and student/adult community. Pray that we would have a blast and that Tuesday's weather would hold off somehow, someway. Pray that God and his angels would keep us safe on the road and on the water.

See you in a few days!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Dead at 50

I'm a classic rock and alternative/punk rock music guy. Boston. Eagles. Styxs. And the list goes on. Then there is U2. The Alarm. Black Flag. The Clash. And the list goes on via the alternative front, too.

But in the 80's, when music was defining more and more of my generation, Michael Jackson exploded onto the scene with the album: Thriller. It was huge. It came off the hugely successful Off The Wall album and preceded Bad. But it is Thriller that made me into a closet pop music fan.

I remember as a kid living in Omaha, NE, when we got our first color TV and subsequently cable TV that MTV actually played music videos...all the time. 24/7. No lie. And it was Micheal Jackson the blew up the cable channel with the music video to the song, Thriller. I remember the premiere and I remember it playing EVERY hour on the hour for what seemed like the next week/month (even though it may have only been a couple of days and/or the weekend). Regardless, it was huge!

On this day, I am going to choose to remember Michael as the insanely talented musical genius and dance savant who wowed billions with is art. The man with perfect pitch. The dancer to rival Fred Astaire. The international music icon to surpass Elvis.

It saddens me how far this star fell. How he bought into lies of externals and the pain of his heart the stemmed from his family/father dynamics. It's a lesson to us all to deal with our heat and soul as much as we would be relentless about pursuing the love or passions of our lives and careers.

This performance below is the from the Motown 25 year special that I watched live when I was a kid. His performance of Billy Jean launched him into the stratosphere and was the beginning of the "King of Pop".

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So Stoked

I don't care if I've already posted this and possibly even hogging bandwidth and making the internets run out of space...Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is going to be AWESOME!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving­kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

If I Don't Have Love

Today (technically yesterday - it's almost 2:00am) I saw love. Tonight on the last night of Vacation Bible School (VBS) at the church we attend, Far Hills Community Church, I saw love.

I was in the pre-school age kids' program time, where they learned about a young boy/man, named David who was guy after God's own heart. To set up the drama, the VBS team had some kid appropriate songs for this age a rockin' volume. But at one point early on in the music/worship set, a little boy in the back started freaking out.

He was screaming and crying as if he had been dropped on his head. The leader/volunteer that was assigned specifically to him (for he's a kid with special needs) pulled him into her lap and tried to comfort him by rocking him back and forth, back and forth. Nothing worked. I was thinking that it was time to get him out. He was annoying ALL the other children, but mostly just ME!

After a few minutes of unsuccessfully trying to calm him down she FINALLY walked him out of the room. It's was about time. Let's hope she doesn't try and bring him back because that is annoying.

But in just a few minutes there she and that little boy came, back into the room to enjoy the music. But this time with decorated fabric which she used to cover his ears with in order for him to enjoy the time with his friends and learn about God.

You see he probably has SPD. Sensoring Processing Disorder where touch or sound can send kids into a fit. And, yet, there was this woman with gentleness in her touch, patience in her spirit, and compassion in her heart sitting with cloth napkins over this boys ears for 20 minutes swaying gently to the beat.

Why? What makes someone want to do this? Because she has love. A love that says I'll do whatever it takes to help you understand that I care about you. And nothing - I mean NOTHING - will get in the way of my love for you. Whatever it takes. Whatever the cost.

You see, lots of times I lead people because that gives me power. I teach people because they stroke my ego. I care for people because other notice me and tell others that they noticed me.

What we the Church need more of...well, what I need more love. I am so thankful to God for people like this and what they do for no other reason than pure, simple, sweet love. What they do for children who are hard for me to love. What they do for adults like me who have hard hearts about serving from a place of love. And mostly what Jesus invites me to be and partake in: pure, simple, sweet love.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." - Paul of Tarsus (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dog Poop Matters

"The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" - Paul of Tarsus (Romans 13:9)

There has been a huge push in recent years for American Evangelicals to expand their circle of neighbors (and rightly so) to view others especially those who are oppressed, poor, hungry, imprisoned, etc. And this expansion is not meant for lip service which most "Christians" typically give, but to love those neighbors through a number of means and systems.

And what is so typical for me is that I lose sight of the trees for the forest (yes, I meant to say it that way). I begin to look at all of those neighbors "out there" in the inner city, homeless shelters, food pantries, and the third world and miss my real flesh and blood neighbor.

But this single mom of four who works full-time that lives right next door to me is someone I need to love. And it's hard.

Why? Because her dogs crap in my yard. I know, get over it, Seth. That's petty.

In all honesty that's no big deal even for those who know me and my "pickiness" about my yard. What gets at me is that she doesn't bother to pick it up. She leaves it for me to clean up. And that bugs the snot out of me.

Neighbors don't do that to each other! For the most part, most neighbors get that pets will poop in other peoples yard, but know and trust their neighbor to pick it up. It's how we live in community. But not my neighbor.

Here's my struggle: how should I love her? Tell her about in a tactful manner? Pick it up for her not saying a word to her knowing that this might happen to future neighbors? Pick it up for her and place it on her front porch with a note that reads "Just wanted to pick this crap up for you to show you God's love - no strings attached!"? Pick it up and chuck it into her yard hoping that one of her 4 little girls step in it?

You know, this is the kind of rubber-meets-the-road spirituality that Jesus and the writers of the Bible were talking about when they invited and commanded followers of the Way to love your neighbor as yourself. I wonder if they knew something else: if we could love our real, physical neighbor that we would have a deeper understanding and greater capacity for loving our other neighbors out there that live in our city, nation and world.

Dogs pooping in our yards really matters. Why? Because my neighbor matters and so does yours.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Taco Town!

In honor of having tacos for dinner tonight, I present to you one of the great SNL commercials ever: Taco Town.

There is nothing more awesomer!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers 2009 NBA Champs!

Game 5 was not so much about a game of basketball skills, but a test of championship will. The Lakers had it. The Magic did not. Kobe, Pau, D. Fish, Lamar, and the rest of the Laker squad imposed their will on the young and vulnerable Magic team. The Lakers seized the lead and broke their will half way through the 2nd quarter and NEVER let up, never let go all the way to the end.

Congrats to the whole team including Phil Jackson (coach) and Mitch Kupchak (GM) for staying the course, providing steady and strong leadership and never letting up on making this team the best in the NBA. To Kobe aka Black Mamba for becoming the teammate and leader that his team needed him to be. To Pau for playing a strong AND skilled game. To Lamar for not letting an off night keep you from playing 100%. And to Derek Fisher for playing a man's game...clutch (Robert Horry who?)!

Now...remember how sweet this feels and tastes. Remember how much work it took. Never grow satisfied and bring home the title again next year. #15 is oh so good, but #16 would be oh so sweet!

Prayer of the Weak

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Sweet Sarah Is Seven

Seven years ago today, God gave us a baby girl. That baby girl grew through the early years into a little girl who brightened our lives with little shake dance and lots of love for life. That little girl has now grown into a big girl with a big heart that shows love with gifts of art and flowers and dances through life with creativity and tenderness.

My biggest girl, Sarah, I pray for you today that you would know that the sweet love you show for friends, family and others in your life is only a taste of the amazing, unending, and life-changing love that Jesus has for you.

May you know that that meaning of your name - Princess - is standing that you have in the eyes of your daddy. You are my princess not because of what you do, but simply because of who you are: my daughter. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. No one will every love you more than your daddy.

Your royalty is rooted in your Creator who loves more than I can imagine and gave His Prince over to die so that you could live your life resting in the greatest love to be found...Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Happy Birthday, my sweet, sweet Sarah. I love you so much and count myself the most graced daddy to have you as my girl, my daughter.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions

Don't know if you saw this or not, but Andy Samberg and Will Ferrell poke fun at our favorite action movie cliche on the MTV Movie Awards Show. It also features a sick J.J. Abrams keyboard solo! Outstanding!

Monday, June 08, 2009

I Quit

This week has hit me hard with the realization that I didn't resign my last youth pastor position. No. I quit.

I quit on God. No trust in Him or sense of personal perseverance on my part to stick it out, work through the tough stuff, and get through the dark tunnel to the other side of success, blessing, impact, character growth, and/or leadership (whatever you want to call it).

I quit on my family. I had a real opportunity to engage in a tough, hard, and difficult season so as to model for them God will see us through - no matter what is on the other side of through. To say to them no matter what, your hubby/daddy is going to keep on keepin on.

I quit on my team, ministry, and students. I had the chance to demonstrate faith and diligence. Faith that declares that we live for a big God who comes through in faithful and miraculous ways when we lean into Him. Diligence that shows what pastors, shepherd, leaders do for their flock when the night gets dark, the scary things show up, and the pain sets in.

I quit on me. I had the chance to develop spiritual muscle, but instead skipped out for easier things. Less painful things. Maybe even less fruitful things. I hated the weight room when I was in high school. Though I did the work required of me, I never went the extra mile to really get to the next level or strength and conditioning. And so it was at GCC in Indy. I don't know what that "next level" would have been for me and it's not to say that I haven't grown a ton in this new direction, I have taken. But it does say that I regret quitting and not sticking it out to what else God had in store for me.

Do I feel that the church I worked for quit on me in some way. Absolutely. But I can't (couldn't) fully control that. I can only control my actions, behavior, character, and leadership. That in turn impacts (controls?) the church, school, or organization that I work for, but at the end of the day, only I can control what I can control. And I controlled it by quitting...eeerrr...resigning.

Right or wrong. Good or bad. Wise or unwise. God's way or my way. It makes no difference now. It is what it is. It's in the past. I'm learning from it. Hopefully, I will be a smarter quitter and tougher "sticker"in the future. God, help me!

I'm so glad You don't quit on me.

p.s. To read more about what sparked this reflection, pick up Seth Godin's book, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (and When to Stick).

(bu to my mom for buying me the book)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Prayer of the Weak

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Sign of the Apocalypse

I think Jesus will be showing up sometime Sunday night or early Monday morning after this church celebrates the 4th of July and the 2nd amendment by having the congregation pack heat on that Sunday!

I've heard of bringing a friend to church. I've even heard of bringing food to donate. But NEVER have I heard of bringing your Smith & Wesson to church as a symbol of worship.

Seriously, come back today, Lord. Come back today!

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Kentucky pastor is inviting his flock to bring guns to church to celebrate the Fourth of July and the Second Amendment.

New Bethel Church is welcoming "responsible handgun owners" to wear their firearms inside the church June 27, a Saturday. An ad says there will be a handgun raffle, patriotic music and information on gun safety.

"We're just going to celebrate the upcoming theme of the birth of our nation," said pastor Ken Pagano. "And we're not ashamed to say that there was a strong belief in God and firearms — without that this country wouldn't be here."

Read more here.

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