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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.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The NBA Finals: Showtime. Laker Time.

I love the NBA Finals...especially when the Lakers are in it. This should be a good series verses the Orlando Magic and the beast that is Dwight Howard.

But I am calling my shot. Lakers are too deep. Defensive length is too much. They are too hungry after last years ars kicking they got from the Celtics. And Kobe aka the Black Mamba has a will that is too strong and a game that is too good.

Lakers in 6.

Shake it; don't fake it!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Where Is The Light?

This map is a great visual of where Christians are populated and where the gospel needs to go. It should humble and challenge us to consider how we will be a part of expanding God's kingdom into to darkened regions of the world.

Mindset. Money. Means. Mission.

Mindset = how will you/I think and pray differently in light of this?

Money = how will you give to get the gospel "there"?

Means = what can you do to serve these people, nations, and organizations that need us?

Mission = how will we live locally, nationally, globally to share this wonderful gospel?

(bu to Brian Larson, a friend from seminary)

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Tonight Show with Conan O'Briend

Are you staying up for tonight for the big debut? If you are a Late Show with David Letterman fan will be converting now that Conan is on earlier? Or will you switch simply for the first week and then go back to Letterman?

I, for one, think I am making the switch...for good. I am a long time Letterman fan from the days of dropping stuff off a 5 story building and Larry "Bud" Melman. But recently Letterman has lost his edge (except for the coup of having U2 as the guest band for an entire week...genius!) and gotten way too political.

On the other hand, Conan is fresh, different, innovative, and a guy I'd rather have a beer with on a Friday night (as opposed to Letterman unless he's buying). Maybe I'm just jumping on the bandwagon since I couldn't stay up for Late Night all these years. Maybe I'm just ready for something different.

So tonight at 11:35pm EST, I will be tuning into NBC and seeing how Conan rolls in his new digs and his new time slot.

What about you? Who will you be watching, for how long, and why? I'm so nosy!

If I Had a Mulligan in Youth Ministry

Thought this post over on Jesus Creed by Chris Folmsbee was thoughtful, honest, inspiring, and timely. Some really good stuff.

- Act theologically before methodologically
- Be more of a spiritual director than a program director
- Hire a parent to be a part of our youth staff
- Spend more time investing in interns/co-pastors
- Experiment with more learner-centered education models
- Ask less of my volunteers and yet equip them more
- Communicate change to the church leaders, staff and parents more
- Create more opportunities for students to "learn up" instead of me "teaching down"
- Celebrate the successes in the lives of students with greater regularity and intensity
- Worry less about the retreat themes and spend more time with the students on the retreats.
- Take students on way more spiritual retreats
- Work hard to be more collaborative with the youth workers in my city
- Take more time off to be with my wife and kids
- Be more intentional with a confirmation process
- Find time to laugh and play more
- Be more grace-filled with students who were goofing off and causing trouble
- Try to learn more from the staff instead of thinking I have all the answers
- Take the criticism of others more seriously and less defensively
- Meet with my spiritual director more often
- Take personal retreats more often
- Be way more missional and a lot less attractional in my approach or model
- Try and get more pulpit time to advocate for the students in the church and community
- Pray more and develop a team of people to pray with
- Provide inspiring training for the parent of the students
- Call the students to greater levels of holiness
- Spend a lot more time creating opportunities for students to practice justice
- Allow the more artistic students opportunities to express themselves and their love for God.
- Teach much more conversationally
- Try to enter into the joy, pain, loss, doubt, hurt, etc. of the students and their families

Out of this there are few that really challenge me as I look at my run in youth ministry as a pastor and now volunteer: Students/holiness, pray/develop people who pray, personal retreats, opportunities to learn up, worry less about retreat themes, hire a parent, and take criticism more seriously/less defensively (tough one for me)

The Hunger Site

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