Thursday, December 22, 2005

Congratulations to the Nicholas'

Our good friends, Mark and Becca brought a new baby boy into the world at 11:59 last night (that's squeaking it in, isn't it?)!

And they gave him the best name possible: Joshua Sebastian Nicholas (I'm partial to the first name).

Congratulations! If I get a picture, I'll put it up. In the meantime, here's the guy who brought me into the world.

A Picture of My Parents

I love my parents.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More Pictures

Elements Christmas Party!

Well, last night we had a blast at Elements (our high school mid-week program at our church) celebrating Christ's birth with a party.

Each week this month we have learned about different aspects of Christ's coming to earth. The first week we learned about how God came in one of the dirtiest places on the planet, so we had our service by the dumpster of a hotel. The second week we learned about how Christmas is about giving, so we went caroling. And the third week (this week), we focused on how Christmas is about celebrating. Here are some fun pictures from the night...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


An eighth grade student in our ministry had a stroke yesterday and has been admitted to Hershey Medical Center.

Pretty scary for him and his family. He's 14.

Please pray for him.

We also have a friend of the youth group who has lymphoma and is Hershey as well. We've felt the urge to take him under our wing as he goes through the treatments and such.

Please pray for him.

Also, pray that we would be a blessing to him.


Good thoughts on the chaos and confusion of homelessness.

York has a good section of this type of population. So I found it interesting.

Check it out on NYTimes.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Great Christmas Thoughts

Check out this page on

Neat reflections and fun games. What a combo!


So I saw King Kong and Syriana this weekend.

I think I could write much about both. But I won't. I will say that both of them do an excellent job of exploring the evolution and continuation of corruption.

King Kong was surprisingly cool and engaging. I was hesitant. Giant ape falling in love with blond girl just didn't appeal. But it plays with the themes of beauty, mystery and corruption really well. And there were scenes that took my breath away because they were so intense.

Syriana was a good political thriller. My favorite part was how they told the story, because it followed the lives of different people and brought them all together in the end. It was very complex and intriguing (isn't that supposed to be a good review word?).

Friday, December 16, 2005

My Parents

I love my parents. I think everybody should have parents like I do. I was thinking the other day that the best relationship a person can have with their parents is to know that they love you like crazy and to their best ability, but to also know that they aren't perfect.

I think two extremes in parenting are 1) parents who don't show their love for their kids and 2) parents who want their kids to think they are perfect.

I always knew my parents loved me.

I also knew that they didn't pretend to be perfect, but they did always intend to be better and to grow.

I love that about my parents.

Check out the site!

They revamped the NYC 2007 Website and it's flippin sweet.

NYC 2007

Save it in your favorites, send it to your friends, show it to your children!

It's informative and it's got a sweet fun section with games. Gotta love the games!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wesley Style

A question that's been running through my mind...not much time to explore, but want to put it out there.

How much was the movement for the second crisis experience (entire sanctification) a cultural thing?

Could it be possible that Wesley was grabbing onto something eternal (the idea of becoming like Christ) and re-explaining it in a way that his culture would get it (second crisis)?

If so, could it be possible that as followers of Christ, we are called to take what has been handed down to us by Wesley and move forward?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

These are some of the ideas for logos for our retreat...

What Jesus started is to be continued in our lives...

He didn't want to be the only one bringing goodness to others...

He wanted his way of life to be continued in ours...


Well, tonight our high school students are going to romp around York singing to some of the shut-ins of our church.

I'm pretty excited about this.

I've been praying about ways our group can be a blessing to the world. Thinking through how Leslie Newbigin describes what it means to be "chosen" and how he traces Abe's chosenness back to God's desire for Abe to a blessing to all nations. So at the heart of being chosen is being a blessing to those around us.

So, I believe our group is chosen. I believe God has chosen us to make the lives of people around us better. I believe that God in us will work through us to do that. I believe caroling is one way we can do this.

Another way we are doing this is through caring for an friend who is going through treatments for lymphoma. He doesn't go to church and we're not really pushing him to. We just want to be a blessing.

I believe that in blessing him, he will see the goodness of God and be attracted to Him. Maybe that means he will come to our church, or maybe he will start treating others the way we have treated him. I don't know.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Stink

When Aubrey and I moved into our new house, one of the things we noticed in our first couple weeks was that sometimes when we got stepped out of our cars to come into the house there was a smell that absolutely reeked.

Now sometimes we get good smells, because we are 30 yards from a McD’s. Sometimes we can smell their breakfast, which is pretty nice.

But sometimes we can smell a serious stink. At first we thought it might be the garbage from the daycare center behind the McD’s. Maybe it was the smell of a compilation of dirty diapers. I imagine that is one compilation that wouldn’t produce a great smell. Then we remembered Spring Grove. Spring Grove has a paper mill which produces a smell not unlike cow butt. And so we asked our neighbor what they thought the smell was. They said it was most likely Spring Grove.

When there’s a stink, you want to know where it’s coming from. You don’t just ignore it. You smell it, your nose cringes and your face scrunches up like you have to sneeze or something.

So every time we got out of the car and smelled the stank, we would think, “Geez, that stupid paper mill.”

One of those days that we got out of the car and smelled the stank, Aubrey looked down and you know what she saw?

She saw the top of a sewage line (what’s the word for it?), which was broken off. And the smell was coming from it.

The whole time we thought the smell was coming from Spring Grove, but really it was coming from our own yard. It was our stink.

I think sometimes we can sense when something is wrong and often we attribute it to other people, when in reality the problem is our own.

Think about bitterness. We think that everybody is making our life hard, when in reality, maybe it’s me.

Think about anger. We think that everybody is screwing up, when in reality there’s something inside of me that is making me so unhappy and angry.

Sad News in Australia

It is sad to see the Racial Unrest that is happening.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christians Partnering With Jews

Well, I heard about something quite interesting.

Emergent is going to connect with a few Jewish leaders to talk about how to live out social justice and the godly life.

Check out some of the debate going on over it all.

Xians and Jews

Ah Snow

There's just something exciting about snow. I waited up last night, just so I could see the first hints of snow. and I woke up early so that i could the results. Ah, I love snow.

And I wanted to play in it so bad, that me and Andy (co-worker here at the church) went out after our lunch break to indulge in the frivolity of it all. The snow wasn't quite up to snuff for packing big snowmen, so we made a snowmen scene and then ended up using all the little snowmen as targets for snowballs.

We need to play more, I think.

In an ideal world, there would be space for fun at work. Created space.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Relevant Magazine Online

I think everybody should check out this website: Relevant

And they have a webTV program here.

Good thoughts on God, Life and Culture.

Recent Movies I want to see

So, since I've gotten out of college, I've noticed my intake of movies has dropped. Drastically.

So I thought I'd put some of the movies that have come out recently that I haven't seen but want to.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


Chronicles of Narnia

Walk the Line

The Constant Gardner

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sweet: Plowed Over

So, we got tired of the Sweetness and decided to just plow through the last 3 chapters and put our thoughts down on those.

So here are my thoughts on the final three chapters. Since he reads like proverbs, I'll list these things as proverbial thingies...

1. Listen deeply. Complaints often hold wisdom or misunderstandings that need to be addressed.

2. Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.

3. We all need rest. Sabbath. Peace. Too often we run run run, so that we cannot hear the heartbeat of God, because we are consumed with the running than the reason for running.

4. Find ways for your team to be creative. I have a hard time with this. How do I create space for my youth workers to be creative?

5. There is a difference between planning and preparing. Planning lays out a distinct order of how things are going to go and then is surprised when things don't go that way. Preparing figures out all the possible scenarios and is ready for whatever comes. It's mostly a difference in attitude. Because planning is needed for preparation. You have to plan to be prepared. You have to prepare to plan. But I want to run with this one. What does it look like for me to be prepared in ministry? What does it mean for me to prepare my youth workers? What does it meant to prepare my students? if it is all preparation (not H), is there any direction?

Those are my final Sweet thoughts...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Current Books

Well, I usually like to write a little review of the books that I have read. But I've neglected this duty and have read several books while not reviewing that's what I'll do right here.

Generous Orthodoxy by Brian MClaren
A journey through his brain, going through his thoughts on different aspects of his Christian faith. He goes thru different traditions and brands of Christendom (Calvinism, Methodism, Catholicism...etc.), pulling out the strengths of them while warily pointing out their weaknesses. My favorite chapters were on being Biblical, Missional, Incarnational and Emergent. Each chapter presented a new angle on each topic that I hadn't totally considered.

A Long Way Down by Nich Hornby
A tale of four people who meet on top of a building where they had each planned on killing themselves. Hornby does an excellent job of showing the despair of each of the characters and also the hilarity of each of their situations. There were several points where I laughed out loud. Major tone of the book was how much humans need each other.

The Travelers Gift by Andy Andrews
An interesting journey through history, gleaning quality wisdom from different characters. The ending was close to, if not the worst ending I have ever experienced. This guys learns all these tidbits of wisdom and then launches into the future where he sees how wildly successful his life will be if he follows them. I liked that it was a modern parable, using a story to teach timeless truths, but the whole book lost any merit to me, because the end fed into a consumeristic success story where success is defined by power and money attained.

Absolute Truths by Susan Howatch
This is the final of Howatch's Starbridge series, which follows characters through the life of the church. This final book portrays Charles Ashworth dealing with his attachment to the Absolute Truths, and finding that the only thing that will always be with him is the only absolute, God. He had trusted in his previous understanding of God and country, when in reality those things had served as a pacifier for his deep desire for control. Honest and poignant.

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
Interesting. Mostly stuff from his sermons. But I liked it again. He writes like he speaks. What I took away from it was his take on Jesus coming to offer the best way of life, not a new religion.

I recommend all of these save Travelers Gift.


Alright...I'm plowing through the last couple chapters of Sweet's book.

Here's what I am thinking. I'm thinking that this books reads more like a collection of proverbs than a story or regular leadership book (which usually builds on itself).

Patience means Salvation

Peter talks about God's patience in his second known letter to the Church.

He says that God is patient and not desiring that any should perish (3:9).

Then after a brief description of the terrible nature of the end times Peter urges the followers of Christ to strive to be spotless with the reminder that "our Lord's patience means salvation" (3:15).

I want to dig into this a bit more. Because at first blush it looks like Peter is saying that because of God's patience salvation comes to us.

I ask these following questions.

With what is God being patient? Followers of the Way? The Second Coming? non-followers?

Does his patience always mean salvation?

By salvation does Peter mean entrance into eternal life?

Could grace or mercy or love be inserted where "patience" is found? Could it be said that God's grace means salvation, that God's love means salvation, that God's mercy means salvation?

If God's patience means salvation, what does that say of our patience? Does our patience bear a potency like Hers?

If our patience means salvation, what does that look like?

Does that mean when I am patient with a child, that I am creating space for salvation? Obviously, the only person who can accept salvation for me is me. Others (as our friend Morpheous from the Matrix says) can only show us the door. So, when we are patient with others, perhaps we are showing people the door to salvation. First by granting them grace to screw up. Second by continuing in their life and not abandoning them. Third by modeling the way of salvation, the life of God.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Congratulations to Sam!

Well, I must say a word of congratulations to my friend Sam. He just went through the ordeal of a Master's presentation at the University of KY. I believe it was on some bridge thing. He could probably explain it better that me. But he has a Masters in Engineering!

You can check him out on his blog.

I personally think he's a great guy. I try to talk with him and our good friend Nate at least once a week to encourage each other and laugh at each other. They are part of the caulk of my existence, helping hold my life together.

So congratulations Master Sam.

Possible Retreat T-Shirts

Well, we were thinking of having the theme of our Sr. Hi Winter Retreat be "Breathe". So I had Andy (our church's media/tech/whatever guru) come up with some t-shirt designs for the retreat and here is what he came up with.

I like them...they're a little silly...but I like them.

But our intern, Laura, hates it. She says no way. And it was vehement.

But it's funny because when Brad (our speaker for the weekend) and I talked last night, we realized that where we were headed originally is taking us further. And it's taken us to what it means to follow Christ as our rabbi. So, he's going to spend much of the time going into the life of a typical disciple, and then is going to bring it over into today. So we don't really have a theme, per se, but it might be something along the lines of "follow the rabbi" or "Who's your rabbi?" Here's a design that Andy spanked out...

Other Tag lines might be:

"Can your rabbi do this?"

"Is your daddy a rabbi?"

"Do you do what your rabbi does?"

High SchoolQuestions

So, I taught the 11-12th grade group this past weekend and we had a Q & A session. I thought the questions were pretty good, so I am going to put them on here.

1. What makes Christianity better than any other religion.

2. If you're born in another religion that's not Christian, how will you know if it's wrong?

3. Is it okay to date someone who isn't dating?

4. What kinda music can I listen to that isn't really bad?

5. If God is God than why would he allow so many different divisions of Christianity?

6. In the Bible somewhere it says, "I am the highest in the house of gods." Are there other gods?

7. Why are the French such A-holes?

8. I'm sick of liberal wackos and I don't know what to do.

9. Why do Christians get treated differently?

10. How do we really know if the type of church we're going to is really where God wants us? So many people, like Catholics/Buddhists think they're in the "right" place: what if we're not?

11. Why do people get pissed off when you have no intentions of pissing them off? It's like you didn't try to do anything.

12. After the flood, Noah's sons split off into separate areas. Yet our populace is a great size! Does this mean that I could technically be dating my sister or other relative? Please explain.

13. Why do people take God for granted?

14. I don't understand why any school can have other religions like Jewish in their school events, but when Christianity comes up it is kind of pushed off? (Such as singing in a concert, can sing about Hannacka but can't sing about Christmas...the church-state idea)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More Llama!

Nothing like some good llama shots to fill the time. A youth group friend sent these in...

Summoned to Lead-Chapter 5

Well, Sweet has certainly learned the power of repitition. He goes over the idea of being humble and having confidence, of listening to others...he gives more sound facts...

But other than that, I think there were some quality points in this chapter.

1. Difference between skulls and ears. Skulls think they have it down. Ears are ready to grow and learn more.

2. We can complain about the past systems and their failures, or we can move on and adjust to current problems/issues. this is big for me, because it's easy for me to nit-pick and not try to improve the overall scenario.

3. "The Jesus School is not a school we graduate from quickly." There's always room for growth, always room for change and adjustments.

4. Tips for listening (finding direction?) better: My two favorite were detox and play. Important to have times to stop and sift through the sounds that have been banging into us. And it's important to have fun and ask stupid questions. I love stupid questions.

5. Three types of stories with a group. Tradition stories, vision stories and map stories. Tradition says where we've come from. Vision says where we're going. Map says how we'll get there. this is helpful for me in thinking of how I can convey the story of Jesus to the students and youth leaders.

So here are my questions to Len Sweet after this...
Can you be a learner and not really learn? Meaning, can you consume yourself with learning and then become consumed with learning and not living?

How do you determine what it is you need to learn? this may be a stupid question...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Aubrey and I are heading down to VA to be with her family and my family. My sister and Nana are down there...

We're excited about the possibility of resting.

Also, it's my sister's birthday! Happy Birthday Susan!

It's always good to reconnect with family...this past weekend, we went to Allentown to be with my Uncle Jeff, Grandma Joan, Aunt Elain, Jonathan and Linda. I love being with them. Jonathan and Linda are brilliant kids who always beat me when we play chess. And they love to wrestle. They tell me that I am like a walking ferris wheel, b/c I spin them around so much...that's fun!

Summoned to Lead-Chapter 4

Following up on how to go about choosing people for our organizations/communities, Sweet takes the next chapter down a very appropriate passage: understanding our mission.

You can have the greatest people, but without direction, without a common mission, nothing comes of it. Yeah, maybe there are good feelings, but nothing substantial.

In the past, the mission of organizations was often “growth.” And Sweet suggests that mission isn’t about “growth” as we have come to understand it.

Growth used to be this ideal that was touted by leaders and CEO’s. (Believe it or not, it still is touted in the church.) But Sweet points out that “growth-oriented companies are now treated with more than a measure of suspicion; a growth obsession is now seen as a liability, not an asset” (104). Often the mission becomes more about getting bigger than actually providing the world with a better way of life.

Mission “has to be bigger than ourselves—certainly bigger than ‘growth’” (104).

This fits with a certain discomfort I have had with the “church-growth” movement…

Some of my favorite thoughts of Sweet’s on mission:

“We can’t control missions. Circumstances will change. Plans will fail. Instead of planning our missions, we must compose them without plans. We must schedule in the serendipity and improvisation.” (105)

“Mission needs to be related in narrative form. Narrative flair and rhetorical prowess go a long way in persuading people to join the mission.” (107)

Rob Bell had a sermon recently (part of his directions 2 series still available for download) where, for the first 20 minutes of his sermon, he told stories of people in their community reaching out to others. Rob did an excellent job of laying out the mission of their church through a narrative form.

“Great leaders also invite participation…None of us is as smart as all of us. The mission depends on everyone.” (107)

I'm not big on plans that say that there are people who are dispensable. The only people who are dispensable are the people who are against the mission, who somehow find ways to undermine the goodness of what is happening. But even then, our mission should include how to reincorporate those people when they want to return...

He points out that there has a been a false dichotomy between work and spirituality. Instead we should work at our jobs with a “mission”. Not totally sure how to work that one out.

He never points out what the mission is. He just says that we all have it. I like how he left it openended.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sleepy Squirrels

So I was in bed the other day and Aubrey shouts from downstairs, "Josh, come down here quick! There's a sleeping squirrel."

Now, it's not everyday that you get to see a sleeping squirrel. So, I put on some clothes and rushed downstairs to look out my kitchen window. Right outside the window, in the nook of a tree, was a squirrel with it's tail over it's head and it's eyes closed. And sure enough, it was sleeping.

Anyway, I made some coffee and while I was making it, I saw his eyes open. So I watched a little more. I've never seen squirrel morning rituals, so I watched.

First he looked around.

Then he started washing his body by wetting his tail and then rubbing his tail on his body. But he did it really fast.

I envy the animals that only require spit to wash themselves. Such an easier existence.

Then he climbed up the tree a little and turned to face the ground. And as he was facing the ground, he extended his front paws in the air towards the ground in a stretch, and then balled the paws up like he was punching the air. Never seen that before.

Then he scratched himself profusely.

Then he licked himself...

And then he tried to copulate with a not so cooperative female squirrel.

It was at this point that I thought I should probably give him his privacy.

So I did. I pulled out my, I took a shower.

Anyway, that's the morning ritual of a squirrel. Much like his human counterparts, except for the saliva bath and licking ourselves and sleeping in a tree.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Summoned to Lead-Chapter 3

Well, I'll just say that I didn't really like the last chapter. I thought he had already said everything he was trying to say in that chapter. But thanks for keeping the "sound" analogy going.

Now, I thought chapter three blew the last chapter out of the water. Mainly I loved it because he was emphasizing how things sound better when there is more than one.

So there are like three things I will walk away with from this chapter (I chose three, because that's the perfect leadership number but I might actually have two or four).

1. The test of an organization is not the mission statement, but instead the spirit of the group. (78) Now, there might be a bunch of good people with great spirits doing the wrong things, though, so I think this has to be thought through. You don't want to put somebody in a place where they are doing something that they're not good at. But I like the idea of when searching for somebody to do something, you look at the heart before you look at the massive skills.

2. The best spirit is confidence and humility.

3. A team needs inspiration more than guidance (87). I think about this in light of my youth worker team. They don't need as much training as much as they need somebody to encourage them and give them hope for what they are doing. Remembering some of our youth staff meetings, some of the best ones were when we created space for me to tell them the possibilities and then to have them tell stories of victories that they've seen.

4. Difference is good. We don't want everybody on the same note. Difference produces harmony. So, on my youth worker team, I don't want a bunch of hyper 20 somethings, or a bunch of laid back parents.

5. Confidence in the leader is needed. not cockiness, but confidence that says, "I think we can do this, and I believe in the people who are doing this."

Shackleton's Story

1. He brought a banjo. he made sure there was a musician and that everybody could sing.
2. He took risks. He knew they couldn't stay where they were.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Second Weekend of November

What a good weekend this was.

1. Thursday Night with Richard. I have an across the street neighbor who moved here from Montana with his wife in hopes that she would recover from the cancer that wracked her body. But when they moved here she died. And now he's here by himself. He's a self-proclaimed hermit, actually making a sign above one of his doors that says "The Hermit".

He caught me coming into my house on Wednesday night. He wanted to talk...I think he just wanted to be with somebody. He showed me all of his amazing model airplanes and ships and trains. Somehow in our conversation, I found out that he hardly ever has anything good to eat, and I suggested that we eat together on Thursday night.

So I came over and we ate stuffed shells (aubrey made them...but was at class) and watched the first half of "The Greatest Story Ever Told". He got choked up several times during the movie and said that there are days when he can't stop crying when he thinks of how wonderful his wife, Mary, was. He said they were lovers till the end.

After the movie he played some big band music on his CD player and we talked about the war (WW 2) and his history. Then I went home. I like Richard. I wish he didn't have to live all by himself and never see his family.

2. Friday Night with Randy, Lorena and Brendan. Aubrey and I hung out with my good friend Randy and his family. We went to a viewing of Joann's father and then out to Red Lobster for supper. Aubrey and I were thankful we had two gift cards for the place, b/c it's stupid expensive there. But we had a great time talking with them. I mostly joked around with Brendan, Randy's son...he's a funny guy.

3. Saturday hike with Aubrey. Aubrey and I went to Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Geez, it's nice to get away and relax with the most beautiful woman in the world. She's a quality lady. A deep thinker and a compassionate heart. And the weather was beautiful. The hike culminated in a breathtaking view from the top of a cliff that jutted out above the treeline, giving us a perspective on the lake and valley below us.

4. Sunday lunch with Doris and friends. Doris, from church, invited us and other pastor's over to her house. Wow, she is a great cook. My favorite was the smoked pork and the corn pudding. I walked out of that house feeling like it was Thanksgiving or Christmas.

5. Sunday supper with friends, Amy and Jeremy. Aubrey new Amy from Messiah. They are a fun and deep couple. We laughed, we talked about what matter, we laughed some more, we enjoyed Aubrey's great cooking.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Darkness Tuesday

Well, Tuesday night was the firts night for pain at Elements. It was a special night, designed so that students would face their pain, name their pain and hopefully see God's hope in spite of the pain. I think it was a great time together.

We started off with the lights completely off and the chairs separated from each other.

In the dark we talked about the similarity between darkness and pain.

In the lament Psalm 88, the last verse says, "the darkness is my only friend". The last word in Hebrew is "darkness".

The Jewish conception of pain and darkness is that God is not absent during those times, but that he will do something with those times.

Gen. 1:1 says "darkness covered the deep". God created out of the darkness.

So God desires to create out of the darkness of our own lives.

Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, "You were once darkness, but now you are light..." So we have the choice to live in the darkness of our pain, or start moving toward the light.

As Christians we don't try to avoid the pain. We name the pain and find God beside us in it. And in that we choose whether or not we will be bitter or better (to borrow a Rob Bell phrase).

This isn't necessarily a fast process. It takes time.

As I spoke about the light, I lit candles for every aspect of light I could think of (comfort, joy, peace, understanding, lack of bitterness).

Then we played David Crowder's "Come Awake" as an invitation to examine our own pain.

After the song, they could use the candles under their chairs and come to the candles as a symbol of accepting light into their darkness.

Then they could write their own lament Psalms or talk with an adult.

It was a quality experience for many of our students and I'm glad I was able to be a part of it.

It is my prayer that our students will continue to wade through their pain and find God right there beside them in all of it.

Sweet: Chapter 2

Well, I am not finished with the chapter, but I will be soon. But I want to get out of the office, so I am going to finish my thoughts and put them on here on Monday (no internet at the house).

But I will have to say that I am kinda peeved so far with this chapter. He seems to be saying the same thing over and over and over and over. He keeps saying that leaders listen, that listening is the best thing, that there is noise everywhere, that leaders listen, that listening is the best thing, that there is noice everywhere. Come on, Sweet!

My favorite part was when he said that leaders need to listen to others more often. Yes!

If you read Bonhoeffer's (a revolutionary German pastor who was part of a group who tried to overthrow Hitler) "Life Together" you will find that listening is one of the best things you can do for your brother, because you are acting on behalf of God, the Great Listener.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Turtle X-ing

On my way to church yesterday I was in a long line of cars driving down Church Road. It runs by Cousler Park which has a creek and a pond. As the line of cars was driving past the park, the lead car swerved to the right, and then the following car did the same until I came to the same spot and I saw why they were swerving. Right next to the double yellow line was a huge snapping turtle trying to cross the road. It had it’s huge head sticking out looking around trying to figure out which way to go. Something in me urged me to stop and help it across the road. So, I quickly pulled off the road and ran back to the spot where the turtle was. Guess what! It was still there (yeah, it’s a turtle).

So when I was right beside it I pointed it out to the cars coming by so that they wouldn’t hit it. But there was one guy in a little Japanese car who was barreling down on it. His driver’s side tire was in line to run over it. Horror creeped over me as I realized that he was going to hit it. But at the last moment he swerved into the middle of the road so that the middle of the car went over the turtle. So, what did I hear? I heard a huge KAH-NICK! I was worried that it would be majorly hurt…but I couldn’t even see where the car nicked it. The turtle’s shell was so thick.

I had to do this fast, because there were a bunch of cars on the road going to different churches. So I dashed out there, grabbed it between it’s front legs and back legs. As I grabbed it, it’s head went into it’s shell (as far as it could go…which wasn’t very far), and it hissed. And he dug at my hands with his claws. He dug at me until I put him down on the other side of the road.

But he was safe.

I would take the clawing if it meant he would be safe.

It made me think of being with in community. Sometimes I get hurt when I am trying to help my friends. And they dig at me and dig at me the whole time I am helping them. It’s not until the end that they realize what was happening. And they might not even realize it then.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Summoned to Lead-Chapter 1

Well, let me warn you. This is long.

Chapter 1: The Power of Voice

“The church has it all wrong. It is trying to train leaders. Instead, it ought to train everyone to listen and to develop their own soundtrack. Only when you find your voice will you harness the God-given power to truly lead.” (35)

What I love about the idea that leadership is more about the ears than the eyes is that it takes time to listen. You have to stop to really do it. You have to turn down the CD player to listen to the birds. You have to turn off the heater to hear the creak in your stairs. Being who we are called to be takes time and is not sudden. You must stop to hear your soundtrack and then live in tune with that. What a mess life is when you are trying to live to another person’s beat.

Sweet suggests that in order to hear your own “soundtrack” you should be committed to four things.

The first is a commitment to truth. Truth about today, truth about what tomorrow can be. In naming the truth as it is and can be, we participate in making beauty out of ashes. This means being honest about ourselves. Sweet even says, “A good leader is different than a leader that looks good.” (36)

The second is a commitment to social justice and spiritual vibrancy. He goes on to say that leaders should be committed more to values which work themselves out through virtues than the shiftiness of self-interest. “What matters is not the products you make, but the virtues that make you.” (38) If it’s about results, then Hitler was great.

Being committed to values is probably a lot like being committed to truth. Values are truth statements. Virtues are truths lived out.

The third is a commitment to originality. I loved this section, because Sweet didn’t push for innovation, but for going back to the what has already been said. “True originality is homecoming.” (39) Again, it’s back to truth. Truth is the most original. Sweet points out that “the striking thing about Jesus is not his originality. It’s his derivativeness.” (41) It’s not about being new. It’s about being in tune with what God’s doing.

The fourth is a commitment to experiencing the breadth of what life offers. This allows a person to really find truth in all it’s various forms…

“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
Than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”
e. e. cummings

It’s about teaching others how to sing, not how not to do something. It’s about positive motion, not negative reinforcement. We are showing other people that they have a voice. It sounds like a Barnabas thing if you ask me. It’s about coming beside people and hearing their voice and pulling it out.

So this looks like what? Paying attention to our friends. Commenting on the strengths we see in others. This takes way more commitment than I think we realize. Is anybody able to see the gifts of others? I find it’s easier to see the gifts that I have in other people. Or if I have a good friend who has a particular gift, I see that gift in others too.

The continued story of Ernest Shackleton is inspiring to say the least. It makes me want to get on a boat and push myself out to see with some friends just to get lost and experience life at sea. But then I think to myself…that’s stupid.

Anyway, Shackleton’s survival story makes Survivor look like a cruise. But what it took to get through the ordeal was optimism, integrity, idealism and endurance. We must take note that not one person died on his journey. Even though their boat wrecked and they floated aimlessly for hundreds of miles and were in the depths of freezing weather for months.

My complaint is this. If this is an anti-leadership book, why does sweet use the word leader so much?

Halloween Tricks

Well, this was the first halloween for Aubrey and I to be in our very own house. We were so excited that we went (when i saw we, I mean "me") and bought tons, I mean tons, of candy for the trick-or-treaters. I came home and put all the candy (like 10 different types) in a cauldron that we have. And it was almost overflowing. And then I waited for all the little kids to come in their costumes. And I waited. I waited. I waited.

No kids showed up. Probably one of the most disappointing nights of my entire life (okay, a slight exageration, but it was a downer). I sat in the living room with hopes that they would show up. I even went out onto the front porch and shouted to all who could hear me that we had plenty of candy left. I would have let any kid take as much as they wanted...

I think everybody went to the rich neighborhoods. And you know what!? As soon as the time limit went by, all the lights in my neighborhood came on. They had been waiting until the time was up to turn on their lights. Humbug neighbors.

So, if anybody wants to stop by and get some candy...

Make sure you're dressed up.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Barn Party 2005

Well, last night we had our annual Barn Party with our youth group. Although there was no barn this year, we had an absolute blast!

I am kicking myself for not having a camera, but it was so dark that a camera wouldn't have mattered anyway...

We went to the Metzlers, a family in our church, who have 4-5 acres which they bought just to be a blessing to others. Codorus Creek (the clean part of it) runs through the back of their property. The back of their property (where the creek is) is covered with woods, but has a cool clearing that is dotted by trees. It was down in a little valley, while their house was up on a hill. And they had a zip line set up for kids to get down into the valley. How cool is that?!

Anyway, the kids had a blast.

The apple bobbing contest was probably the most fun part of the night. I've never had that much fun with apples. Ever.

And Erin was the best. Maybe 1 second. She went down and came up with an apple before you could say Micheal Jackson. It was that fast. Way to go Erin!

We got on kayaks. I rode with Xavier...his first time in a boat where he had to paddle. Wish I had known that before we got out there so that I could have shown him what to do on shore so he could see me...we had so much fun...

And we didn't provide a bus to get the kids out there, so parents came and stayed the whole time. That was probably one of my favorite parts of the's so cool to have the parents around. Too often we do things where we separate them so it was good to go against that grain...

So it was great! I give it two thumbs up!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Summoned to Lead

So, me and a couple friends are going through this book by Leonard Sweet. So I'm putting my thoughts about it on here. My friend Brian is doing the same thing. You can find the link to his site in my sidebar. So here are my current thoughts...

Sweet opens up with the idea that we have gone about this whole “vision thing” the wrong way. In this age we have learned so much about leadership (10 K books on it out there), but there is so much corporate scandal. So, where have we gone wrong? (11)

He suggests that leadership isn’t about seeing things, but about hearing, and about hearing the summons to lead and following it (interesting that in leading, we would be following).

Leadership is something that we are put in by the situation we are in. (12)
This concept is helpful in helping others see that they can change and affect the situation that they are in.

I love Collin’s metaphor of the flywheel. (16) It takes a bunch of pushes for it to get spinning. But you can’t tell which push was the final one to make it spin the fastest. Not sure where to head with that one. What I like about it, is that it seems that there is no “key” to leadership. All the components come together in the end. Does that mean that there are no specific “keys” to leadership? Does that mean that leadership just happens?

Sweet points out that humility is the guiding force. We’ll always hear this.
“It is the intentionally humble and quiet leaders who truly do make a difference. Humility can win out over more powerful organizational forces.” (16)

Humble leadership is a participatory, not a performance, act. It is like a conductor, guiding a group of people with various talents to play a certain tune, instead of a performer who plays his instrument for everybody else to hear. (19)

But going further with this metaphor. Sometimes the conductor has to hum out the tune so that others can get it, so that the other performers will hear that they need to play. This isn’t a controlling thing, it’s a releasing thing. It says this is what it can sound like, but what you’ll do is much better than my hum.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

November Themes

In the month of November, we'll be tackling the issue of suffering/pain in the lives of our's the general direction I am feeling we're going to go.

1. Name the Pain.

This week will just acknowledge that we all have pain in our lives. Hopefully it will be a good avenue for people to be honest with themselves. We will acknowledge God's presence with us, but leave it as a mystery as to what that means.

2. Know the hope.

This week will talk about what we do with our pain. How do we react to it? Do we just let it beat us up? Do we just linger in it? Do we just complain? God desires to take the rubbish as a way to make us stronger. (I'm worried about being pithy here...I want to make sure that when we talk about God making good out of bad doesn't invalidate people's pain, but instead validates the great work of God.)

3. Share the pain.

This week will be about how to walk with those who are in pain. Coming from Romans 12, where Paul talks about rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn. Also will look at how Jesus wept and didn't solve his friends' problem right away (Lazarus). I've asked several students for their thoughts on the topic as I am preparing it, and one student said that we are all in pain, and we just have to deal with it, because everybody is too consumed with their own pain to notice anybody else. So, if that's true, how do we respond?

Some more quality llama shots

These were sent to me by a cool student and her father. Thanks Amy and Mark!

Under the Bed

It’s been frigid cold recently in PA. It’s our first winter in our own house. Up to this time we have lived in college dorms together so we haven’t had to worry about heat bills or anything like that. But now that we do have to worry about it, we try to conserve energy by keeping the temperature at a low.

And we live in the upstairs of our house. Since heat rises you would expect that to be the warmest part of the house, but it’s not. It’s like an attic up there. (maybe b/c it was an attic…until it became our bedroom)

So we turned on the heat and our upstairs was still incredibly cold. We would get into bed and huddle like Eskimos under the sheets. We would dress up like we were getting ready to go out into the snow, but instead we were just bundling up to get into our bed.

Then one morning, Aubrey stepped out of bed and noticed that the floor by her side of the bed was warm. And upon more investigation, we found that there was a heat vent under the bed. Woohoo!

So last night we decided to move the bed to get to the heat. But in order to move the bed, we have to pull everything out from under there. We went through old letters to each other, all sorts of shoes, broken things, a hatchet (not sure how that ended up there), all sorts of bags. And then to move the bed, we had to take off the mattress and box spring, which wasn’t easy, because our ceiling is 5’7” and it slopes. So…yeah. Definitely some scratches on my ceiling and bruises on my head.

But moving everything made me think of God’s presence in our lives. It’s often by digging through the junk in our lives that we can get to the source of comfort. The comfort has always been there, but we’ve been searching for it, and yet have kept it covered by all sorts of stuff.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Well, I found this cool site. Not sure how accurate it is, but it has info on every single date of the year. People who were born, people who died, things that happened all on a specific date.

For instance: Today in history
1939 Mike Ditka coach/tight-end (Bears, Cowboys, NFL rookie year 1961) was born
1949 Country songwriter Stuart Hamblen, 31, underwent a spiritual conversion. Author of the popular 1954 hit "This Old House," Hamblen later wrote such Christian favorites as "It Is No Secret What God Can Do," "How Big is God?" and "They That Wait Upon the Lord."

So check it out here...

Monday, October 17, 2005

National Youth Workers Convention 2

Well, we're heading out today. It's been great.

More highlights.

Skipping the general sessions to catch up with Nate. It was good to hear his heart.

Talking with Dave Curtiss. He's got quality experience and great advice.

Reflecting with Rick. I asked him where he desired to be led, and he had some great pointers for our ministry.

Kansas City Chiefs won. Granted, it was against the Redskins, but they won.

Hanging out for dinner with Asbury grads.

I love the people who came from our church. It's been so good to just be away and let our proverbial hairs down.

Connecting with the Living Word (another church in York) youth workers for lunch at Pittsburg finest restaurant (the waiter yelled "F--- You" when we told him we were rooting for the Jaguars, who were playing the Steelers. We immediately asked him to bless our meal as he blessed us...)

It's been good for me to clarify where I think God is taking our ministry. I've had some good moments just being alone to think about it...I'll be posting some more about it. The previous post contains some of my rambling thoughts.

On the drive home today I'm hoping that we can work through some of the things we heard this week.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

To follow Christ in all we do, partnering with him in the recreation of the world.

We do this through...

Community (we need each other and experience God in each other)
Awareness (we create space to become aware of our Creator around us)
Service (we create space for others to know they are loved by the Creator)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

National Youth Workers Convention Part 1

Well, I'm here in Pittsburg with Rick, Matt, Trudy and Laura at the annual convention.

What I've liked so far.

1. Dan Kimball's hair. It's a mixture of Street Fighter, Fifth Element and Jimmy Neutron.
2. Dave Crowder Band. They do such a great job leading us to the throne.
3. Coffee with Nate this morning. It was great to just sit and chill with an old Asbury friend. He's a good man to have as friend.
4. Teaching by Doug Field's. "Just say No".
5. Supper with youth worker crew at Mahoney's. Great conversation with the guys from my church. They are great people, with hearts in line with our Creator.
6. The new Nooma preview. Rhythm. It follows Rob Bell's Ultimate Reality sermon.
7. Sleeping in the same bed with Rick. It's a full size bed. Well, my favorite part was waking up t 2:30 with our faces like 3 inches a part. What a riot.

It's my hope that I'll walk away with like 2 things I can apply. That's what I've told my friends who've come with me. We could walk away with 99 things. But we wouldn't do those things well.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Safe Things

"When something is new and hard and bright, there ought to be something a little better for it than just being safe, since the safe things are just the things that folks have been doing so long they have worn the edges off and there's nothing to the doing of them that leaves a man to say, That was not done before and it cannot be done again."

As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

MClaren Kicks if Off

I took notes (it's true) at the retreat I went to last week, and thought I'd share those here. The first time Brian MClaren talked, he spoke about the life of prayer.

7 Kinds of Prayer
Rediscovering a Treasure

Prayer of thanksgiving
(Prayer that Wakes us up)

Prayer of Confession
(Prayer that Weeps)

Prayer of Petition
(Prayer that Reaches Out)
-saying I don't have power

Prayer of Intercession
(Prayer that changes the world)
-moving to pay attention to things that are bigger than me
-make it personal-pray for the broken as if they are your sibling or child

Prayer of Lament
(Prayer that Groans)
-we need to be honest about pain and unresolved pain
-"We are suffering from a crushing weight of easy answers."

Prayer of Contemplation
(Prayer that Listens)
-God can be experienced in complete normalcy

Oh! Hallelujah
Prayer of Worship

The part that stuck out to me was praying for people who are suffering as if they are my family. So, if I am praying for someone who is suffering in the Pakistan earthquake, I might pray this way. "God, be with my mother who has lost her husband." Or, "God, be with my little brother who is underneath the rubble waiting for the rescuers to get to him."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Full Weekend

Well, this weekend was incredibly full. But Aubrey and I got to be together through most of it, so that was great.

Friday night we went down with the youth to the Rescue Mission. It's something we do the first friday of every month. The Mission makes these people sit through a service after which they get to eat. The food is free. Only payment is attendance of the service. So, we've tried to make the services lighthearted and tried to bring in good food. The kids are great at serving the men and women there. I'm always impressed with their actions and hearts.

Saturday was quiz meet day. Lots of people came from around the Nazarene District. It was great. Our kids did an excellent job. Amanda and Cody got in the top 10 for novice. Way to go, guys.

After that, Aubs and I went down to Gettysburg to meet with Andrea and Nate. Wow, we love those two. They are just so easy to be with and fun...

Sunday, we started our college prep course for juniors and seniors in high school. I think it went well. We had two recent college grads come in and talk about their first impressions and what they would have loved to have known before they came into school. I thought they did a good job. After that we had Mark and Becca over. They are a good couple. They're getting ready to have a baby in January. I think that will be cool.

Then our neighbor Carol came over to show us her vacation pictures. She and her grandson, Joe, went on a cruise through the NE last weekend. They loved it. The pictures were cool too.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I wonder if we have such a hard time with pain b/c our bodies, our spirits were made for a perfect world.

So, no matter how hard we try to figure out pain, we're not going to get it.

We weren't made to get it.

Sure, we can understand that things are broken. We can understand that things do hurt.

But we'll never really get it.

I think we were made for Eden.

And now God is coming beside us and helping us get back to that. Not promising understanding of pain, but understaning of hope.

4 Steps

I'm sure somebody has written this down somewhere, but in thinking through the ministry here in York, I've tried to come up with a way for me to understand the process of changing the way things are done. And I was thinking about how the way we think affects the way we act. I haven't put tons of thoughts into this, so what will be found here is very very raw.

But in the movement of ministry there seems to be about 4 or 5 positions.

1. Content with where we are. Satisfied with the way things are done. There is nothing wrong with the system.

2. Noticing something might not be right. So I criticize what's going on. Just looking at the system itself and complaining. Not ready to change yet.

3. Something's not right, and I want to change that. So, I examine current structures with a critical eye and look at what can be improved or changed for the better.

4. We move forward. We adjust to what we see as the problems and seek to create space for what we desire through a new/old/revised/revisited format.

5. Content with the way we are.

6. Notice something might not be right.

7. I want to change.

8. Move Forward.

I guess it's more than 4, b/c things are always changing. And maybe there is another step that I am missing.

Anyway, i think it's my responsibility as a leader to identify the direction of our ministry, and then to evaluate whether or not we are heading in that direction. And if we aren't, what are the good things that we should keep, what are the bad things we should throw out, and what are things that we can improve.

Also, my responsibility is to help others in the process. To help them move from 1, to 2, to 3, to 4.

What happens if people get stuck on any of these steps? Stagnation...if you get stuck on 2, then you start to complain and that becomes your life...that's not centered in the creativity and love of God.

if you get stuck in 1, then it's possible (unless you have the perfect system and if you do, please call me), that you don't have your eyes open to what's going on. That you are unaware.

if you get stuck in 3, then you're being lazy. You're not moving on. You're not taking the insight you have gained and acting on it.

if you get to 4, great...but that puts you right at one again.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Shadow Proves the Sunshine

Sunshine won't you be my mother?
Sunshine come and help me sing
My heart is darker than these oceans
My heart is frozen underneath
Crooked soul trying to stay up straight
Dry eyes in the pouring rain
The shadow proves the sunshine
two scared little runaways
Hold fast till the break of daylight
When the shadow proves the sunshine
Oh Lord why did you forsake me
Oh Lord don't be far away, away
Storm clouds gathering beside me
Please Lord don't look the other way
I'm a crooked soul trying to stay up straight
Shine on me
Let my shadows prove the sunshine

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot wrote this song.

I appreciate his honesty when he echos the psalms by saying "Oh Lord why did you forsake me/Oh Lord don't be far away". I've been searching for songs that complain to God, but have a sense of hope. Many of the psalms are totally about complaining. And it makes me wonder if the content of our own songs on Sunday mornings or whenever you worship, should have more complaint within them. I've heard some people having "doubt night" and stuff like that...but can doubts and complaining be regular parts of worship?

I think our times together should reflect where we really are and where we want to be. But I think many of our songs, if not most of them, only talk about where we want to be and are pretty superficial...that's just what I think.

Seasons Change

Well, the fall is coming in...the sun is setting earlier, the leaves are falling, the wind is colder.

We pulled out our down comforter to brace for it. Boy I love the warmth of the covers when it's cold in the room.

This past weekend, Aubrey and I went down to Richmond with the cover excuse of me getting expert advice from Gregg Paul, who did NYC twice for the VA district. I did learn some good stuff from him, but the highlights were definitely seeing our family.

We got in late on Friday night, but we stayed up a bit talking with Aub's parents. It was one of those times when you don't want to go to bed and you feel giddy and comfortable. I have great in-laws.

The next morning, I met with Gregg and then hung out with my good friend Douglas (he will be refered to as Uncle Dougles by our children...). Then we had lunch with the ladies; Aubs' grandmother, mother, my nana and sister.

Then we went on a walk with Sis. that was great. We walked through a park that Aubrey and I spent much of our dating time in. We talked about Sue's future and stuff. She's a great young woman. I'm proud of who she is and is becoming.

Then we came home.

Now we are getting ready for our annual Pastor and Spouses Retreat! Yay, free hotel, free food, good friends. And the coolest thing this year is that Brian MClaren is going to be there! I think it will be great for all of us. And we'll get to see our friends...but Brian and Carol won't be sad...we'll miss them.

Giving Charities but Holding Ourselves Back

"I came to a new understanding why Jesus passed up the religious establishment of his day, the economically secure, the socially prestigious, and sought out the poor, the outcast, the sinner, the broken, the sick, the lonely. He felt, as we so often do not feel, their sorrow. He was acquainted, as we too seldom are, with their grief. On Calvary he died of a broken heart. But that heart was broken long before Black Friday, by the desolation of the common people. 'In all their afflictions he was afflicted.'

"Most of the time we are not. We seem to have quite a different conception of life. We avoid as much as possible the unpleasant. We shun the suffering of others. We shrink from any burdens except those which life itself inescapably thrusts upon us. We seek arduously the wealth and power that will enable us to secure ourselves against the possibility of being involved with another's affliction. Lazarus sometimes makes his way to our door stop. We toss him a coin and go on our way. We give our charities but we do not give ourselves. We build our charitable institutions but we do not build ourselves in other's lives."

-From The Captivating Presence by Albert Edward Day

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Treasure Trove

19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Matthew 6:19-21

Thinking through this...brought some questions to my mind.

What does heaven treasure?
Are there treasures that can never be taken away? If so, what are they?
What treasures can be taken away?
What happens when treasures are taken away?
If my heart is attached to a treasure, what happens to it when the treasure is destroyed? Is my heart destroyed too?
Was my heart made to treasure anything on this green earth? If so, what?

I don't have all the answers , but I know I've felt directed to make what heaven treasures the things that I treasure.

I've also thought about those things that can't be taken away from me. I think nobody can take away love or joy. People can take away my clothes. People can take away my legs. People can take away my computer. People can take away my reputation. But nobody can take love from someone.

So, I think that heaven treasures love. I think the heavenly treasure trove is loaded with love, with joy, with peace, with freedom. I want to be like Uncle Scrooge in Duck Tales, when he dives into his piles of gold. I want to dive into the heavenly piles...and unlike Scrooge I want to bring others into it...

I'm lucky

Today, I'm going to have three different types of meat. Steak and chicken at lunch. Pork at supper. I have so many options. So much variety.

While I have brothers and sisters all around the world who have no choice over what they eat. I'm eating like royalty compared to them.

I feel kinda guilty about that...

Monday, September 26, 2005


Well, I'm currently listening to the new Anberlin album...I think it rocks. I tried to get a picture of the album up here...but for some reason the stuff ain't working...oh well.

You should check 'em out if you like rock.

Jr. Hi Wisdom

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to lead the Jr. Hi fella's small group. There were 20 guys there and me. We were reviewing the past 12 weeks of curriculum, which was over the basic topic of "Dares from Jesus". Marko (from Youth Specialties) wrote some excellent small group sessions in his Wild Truth Series...anyway, this book was about the dares that we can get from Jesus' words and actions.

So, yesterday to review I had two intentions. One, I wanted to find out which one they thought was the hardest, and two, I wanted to find out which one they thought their school needed more than any other. I was impressed with how open some of the guys were with what dare they thought was hard. Here are the dares we covered.

Dare to be humble.
Dare to put God before money.
Dare to not judge others.
Dare to love God before anything else.
Dare to live up to your word.

When we got to what they thought was the most important dare for their schools they all said that the dare to not judge was the most important.

All of them had different reasons, but it seemed that the prevalent theme at each school is that people are classified into certain groups, which classifies their behavior and what they are expected to do. Everybody had a story from their school (even the homeschooled kids did)...

I asked them if they thought it was possible for their schools to be rid of judgementalism. Nobody thought it was possible. One kid said it was possible if everybody got "saved". To which I replied by asking who thinks they are saved and who still judges people. Not surprisingly, most of the kids raised their hands in response to both questions. (I'm not downplaying "Being Saved"...just pointing out that even the "good side" is doing the judging)

But this issue of judging others...I think the kids were astute to notice. Most of them have been victims of it. But most of them don't think they can do anything to change the system. It was actually happening right there in the circle while we were talking (some guys made fun of another guy for the shoes he was wearing...)

But I think I should hit this up a couple more times through the youth ministry process...maybe make it a part of who we are as a group. We are a group who leaves the judging to jesus, and the assist Him in the loving of the whole world...whew...that's a hard one to live up to.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Cute Kid

Well, my good friend, Sam, has a brother named Kyle (who is also a cool guy). Kyle has a baby. That makes Sam an Uncle. Uncle Sam. You might have heard that name before. He's so popular his name precedes him.

Anyway, here's a picture of that cute nephew of his. The title is "Mischievous Naked".

Help, Help

I was walking from my office to the copy room that is right across the hallway when I heard some mumbling from down the hall. I hear, "Help, Help, Help", and I turn and see a woman stumbling down the hall crying out for Pastor Eric. The poor woman is heavily under the influence and all she can mutter is "Help".

I wonder if this is the way many of us walk around this world. Except we are this way in our spirits, and we don't give our spirits voices.

Monday, September 19, 2005

My Friend Dave

Well, I've got a friend. His name is Dave. He is currently serving with a mission organization in Europe. He's got great stories and he's a swell musician. He's using those talents to bring the good news/life to eastern european people. I like Dave. I think you should too. Check out his thoughts on myspace (

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Quick highlights from day...

1. Starbucks for breakfast again!

2. Walking to "work". We walked down to the convention center in the morning. I would love to live in a situation where I could just walk to my office. There's a cool connection to the community through that.

3. I remembered the ladies name who is from nebraska. It's Dynette. She won the iPod nano giveaway. I'm slightly jealous. I wanted to give it to Aubs, since I have a mini. But I think Dynette totally deserves it. She's so great.

4. I met some more people who know my parents. It's cool to have parents who have made an impact on different lives. it's like they've created ripples that have come back to hit me in unlikely ways. I hope my life creates ripples like theirs did and does.

5. We toured the possible hotels for NYC. Whew, that was a lot of walking. It's a tough decision. we'd like to be close to the convention center, but we'd also like nice sized rooms and a hotel that can accomodate us.

6. Morning seminar on life through the lens of a Jewish mindset by Darren Ojeda. He is a bivocational pastor who works in a Jewish Orthodox Synagogue and has developed some really quality relationships with the Jews there. From those relationships, he has found a deeper walk with the Messiah, and a deeper understanding of who God is (God is what God does...Jewish thought is always functional and practical).

7. Lunch with Darren and friends from the region. Stretch, Kevin, Terry, Adam and more went to lunch at some local pub. it was a good time to talk.

8. Got to talk with Aubrey for a little bit. Boy I miss being with her. I can't wait to be home.

9. Another midnight "emergent" conversation. (Funny, we almost went to a "Hooters" like place, without knowing what it was, but once we went in and saw how the ladies dressed, we walked out.) We focused on the detriments of thinking of our faith as a "personal relationship", and about how we can move from individual focus, to world wide was just great. we added 3 more guys to the was Brian, Kevin, me, Bryce, James, Joel, Kyle, Scott and Mike. Everybody but me, Brian and Kevin were from Ohio. Craziness.

10. Dave Curtiss' encouragement that we are in the movement of the Messiah, bringing hope and restoration to our world!

Cynicism Refound

Well, it happened.

I got on the plane to get to St. Louis and the first words from my passenger friend were cynical remarks and included the word "stupid".

It goes with what Hornby said in his book...cynicism is the common language...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Arch

We can totally see this from our window!


My four highlights from today.

1. Starbucks for breakfast! I had a Venti White Mocha and an apple-ginger spice loaf (Aubrey would have loved the loaf).

2. Throwing a football on the St. Louis Rams field.

3. The evening worship time was what Dave Curtiss calls, "God-drenched." Dave spoke about the broken state of youth ministry (perhaps even the complete misdirection of it), which really struck a chord in my spirit. He said that Barna says that close to 88% of 20-30 year olds who were involved in youth groups are no longer involved in church. What happened? He pretty much left us at the sad point, but said it was time for youth ministry to be redirected or thrown out for something different. After he did that, our worship leader sensed a real need just to pray for direction for youth ministry and the brokeness of our kids. I got a major sense that I needed to seek the Lord, rather than go into my brain and try to pull out ideas. Then we had a prayer time for each other, which was really encouraging.

4. The 'emergent/whatever' conversation at Friday's, 2 blocks from our hotel. Brian Hull (check out his blog at gathered some people together, and we worked through some good issues. Main focuses were how to handle homosexuals with grace (or how to teach our people to handle homosexuals with grace), the importance of Scripture, and how to help the Nazarene church become more missional and open.

Monday, September 12, 2005

More Jesus Pictures

Jesus Pictures


Well, DLC started today. Kevin got in yesterday and we went to Union Station (a place where Aubrey and I stayed on our honeymoon roadtrip). Then this morning we went down to Starbucks and chilled for a while.

We had to cool opportunity to set up the atmospheric stuff for the evening. We got to cajole the hotel management into letting us borrow 300 pound marble coffee tables. We also persuaded them to let us use the sham pillows for altar kneelers. I think our little area looks rather sweet. We're going to set up a computer station where people can follow online labrynth's, sacred space, power point picture slides. That should be cool. I've been searching the net for pictures of Jesus to use in the slide. I'll put them on my next post.

Met some people from Nebraska and Missouri tonight. Dennis, (pulling a blank), Mona and Mark (from Mizzou). Pulling a blank is a lady working as a pastor. She says that the percentage of woman Nazarene pastor's is %20. Not bad, but only 60 of those are actually head pastor's. The rest serve in support roles. Anyway, I am impressed by her courage and love for the people out there, even though she recieves flak for being a woman pastor.

The worship segment tonight was pretty cool. Mark (something) spoke about vulnerability with each other, and about how all of us compare ourselves to each other, and how that is not the heart of Christ. Then the worship leader led us in songs he had written, which were all very insightful. My favorite part was when we were singing, "Less of me and more of you" to God, and the director told us to sing it to each other. That was awqward, but neat.

We can see the arch from our window. We're like the closest hotel to the arch.

Well, I'm gonna head to bed.

Hologram Jesus

I'm working through A Generous Orthodoxy by MClaren and just finished the chapter called The Seven Jesuses I Have Known. In that chapter he talks about how he was introduced to Christ through seven different branches of the church. He points out the differences between the perspectives, noting their strengths and weaknesses. He suggests that the best picture/understanding of Christ is one that takes into account all of them.

He says, "Up until recent decades, each tribe felt it had to uphold one image of Jesus and undermine some or all of the others. What if, instead, we saw these various emphases as partial projections that together can create a hologram: a richer, multidimensional vision of Jesus?"

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Jon Powers is Getting Married

Well, this weekend, my college roommate, Jon Powers is joining the ranks of marriagehood (if it can be described as a hood). I'm psyched to go to his wedding and hang with him and our friends from college. Aubrey and I are heading out tomorrow morning to drive to Cincinnati.

While we're over there, my friend Sam (a guy I talk to like every wednesday night with Nate...nothing like a little three way conversation...thank Bill Gates for technology), is going to drive up and we're going to have breakfast on Sunday. Really looking forward to that.

And after that, I'm flying down to St. Louis for DLC, an event which is supposed to help me in the planning of NYC for our district. It's also an event where my good friends, Brian Hull and Kevin Snow, will be attending. And I think there will be other cool people there. Can't wait!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Slow Day

It's amazing that light can be so distracting. I was just starting to type, when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye...movement on the couch, something shifted underneath the couch. so, I moved my eyes to figure out what was going on...and it moved again. It was the reflection of light from the door at Panera. Nothing more. It reminded me of when a cat chases a laser light...

Anyway, I'm at Panera bread, just tooling around on my day off. So, hopefully I'll get some more pictures on my blog from our AZ trip and other things.

I'm also setting up a blog site for ministry ideas with some of my friends...

And it looks like I'm going to be able to chat with my parents on MSN messenger. Thank God for that stuff.

More pictures from AZ

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Facts on Stupidity

This next month our mid-week services are focusing on having wisdom in life.

To start us off, we looked at the opposite of wisdom, stupidity. So I compiled a brief list of facts on stupidity. Here they are.

1. People usually don’t intend to be stupid.
It's not like people put it on their daytime to do things they regret. Wisdom is about intentionality.
2. Stupidity is often wasteful.
Wisdom is about making the most of every moment.
3. Smart people can be stupid.
Wisdom is about action, not just knowledge.
4. Being stupid is easy.
All of us have been stupid. It's harder to be wise, to think through what we're going to do.
5. It’s easier to see stupidity in others.
It's not as easy to see stupidity in me. But if others can see it in me, it would be wise to take their advice.
6. Stupidity never “just happens”.
Ultimately it’s a decision to be stupid. Every moment presents a decision. A wise person identifies those moments.

I believe God is calling us to be people who think through our actions and who ask him for wisdom. He is the source of all wisdom.

We'll be talking about having wisdom in friendships and with our time. Should be fun.

Brothers Grimm

Saw Brother's Grimm with Joe and Chris yesterday. It was a good flic. Good mix of action, suspense, myster and laughter. A funny take on fairy tales too.

There was a point in the movie where Jake Grimm (magic beans guy) is talking to the Angelika about the mystery that surrounds the village.

And he says something like:

"All the stories before haven't been real. This one's real. It's alive. And we're in it."

Would love to get a clip of that. Made me think of our story as followers of Christ. It's the first real story. It's the first story ever. It's alive. It's real. And we're in it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Thoughts from "How to be Good"

So I picked up another stuff...

Anyway, there were some interesting thoughts on cynicism and it's role in our society now.

“Cynicism is our shared common language, the Esperanto that actually caught on, and though I’m not fluent in it—I like too many things, and I am not envious of enough people—I know enough to get by. And in any case it is not possible to avoid cynicism and the sneer completely. Any conversation about, say, the London mayoral contest, or Demi Moore, or Posh and Becks and Brooklyn, and you are obliged to be sour, simply to prove that you are a fully functioning and reflective metropolitan person.” (163)

A common language...think about it. People are always downing something...even if it's small and inconsequential. Even yesterday, I was in the postoffice...and the lady was talking with a customer and for no reason at all said that certain postcards are stinky...

What if we walked around defying this common language?


What's the deal with forwards?

I have some serious disdain for any message that includes in the subject line: FW.

And what about the FW: Fw: Re: FW? You have to open like 5 messages to get to the picture. Come on.

So, I was talking with one of my students the other day. And we decided to send out a forward to our friends that talked about how much we hate forwards. And the bottom part said, "if you hate forwards, then send this to 5 of your friends." For some reason, we haven't gotten any responses on that one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Apocalypse

Well, I have found another comic strip that I find hilarious. I don't usually get the paper, but I saw this in a paper when I was at preteen camp. I think it was the Gettysburg paper, but I'm not sure. But I am sure that I think this is funny. If you can't see it properly...just click on it.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Stupid Advertisements

Well, i thought that blogs were safe, but no...I got a comment the other day that directed me to a site that was advertising for some stinkin loans.

And then I got an ad for some logging industry. What the heck?

How do these guys get our info, and how do they figure that I'm interested in loans or logging?

The only logging I'm interested in is the daily logging I do during my trips to the WC.

Our New House

Here is our new house. We like it a lot.

Look how close it is to our neighbor. We can reach it from our window.

Saturday Morning at Staff

Well, this is us at staff meeting this morning...

Got to room with Freddy (our worship pastor) last night. Sat up and talked for a while. He's a quality fellow. It's always sweet to commune and laugh.

Last night we played Guesstures with the staff, which was incredibly funny. You should see Pastor Dianne's "plunger"...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Pastoral Staff Retreat

Well, our pastoral staff is out here at Rhodes Grove Campground. So, that means I get to do some of my favorite stuff...meetings...

Actually, I think it's going to be a great weekend. I think it will be good to connect with the other pastor's and to unite on our thoughts about where God is taking us as a church.

And there is going to be a round table discussion tonight. We were able to submit questions about pastoral theology and pastoral ministry. I'm looking forward to that section...

And I think it will give me lots of time to update this blog thing...

Grand Canyon

Here are some pic's from our trip to the Grand Canyon with our Sr. Hi Mission Team.
1. Escape from the Grand Canyon!
2. A general shot.
3. Me and Aubrey...
4. A picture with the Hull's, a great couple who loves God and our students.
5. The whole student team.

Online Prayer Labrynth

I have recently experienced a prayer labrynth, which is an experience that uses all the senses to guide a disciple through a prayer journey. I did it at camp this past year and was overwhelmed with a cool sense of God's presence.

Anyway, I was wandering around on, and found an online prayer labrynth. It's a really good way to get centered and to listen to what God has to say to us. It's put on by Youth For Christ in the UK. Check it out here.

Our Vacation in Maine

Well, Aubrey and I went on vacation last year...probably the best vacation ever. We went to South Harbor, Maine. Wow, what a relaxing time. We stayed at a bed and breakfast and went hiking and did all sorts of cool stuff. We also ate some serious lobster one night.

One of my favorite things is that it's warm during the day and then at night you can wear sweaters. I love sweater weather.

Anyway, here are some pictures from our time there...

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Well, today is a brief break in the madness. No work today. Yes (pulling my right arm with clenched fist beside my side in a quick motion)!

But it's hard not to work when there's always more to do. Perenial struggle of youth ministry, I guess.

Pre-teen camp was quick, hot, and pubescent. My cabin of guys was a godsend. Fun and spontaneous, but not unruly or unmanageable. (Those guys were in another cabin.) We played lots of mafia...lots of it. And we swam three times a day. It seemed that was all there was to do. Eat, swim, fish, play dodgeball, swim, go to chapel, swim, eat, and swim. And we had a blast.

I'd have to say that our ENC team there was probably the best ENC team I've had around in quite some time.

I don't know how to process those experiences regarding younger teens and spiritual advancement/development/formation. Should I expect deep conversations? Should I expect them to deal with the crap going on at home? Should I expect responses in chapel?

What I do expect is that they be around people who love them. I do expect that they get to see what it means to be around people who treat each other with respect and who work through disagreements when they arise and who talk well of others. My hope is that seeds are planted/nurtured/watered. Seeds of grace, seeds of the divine.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Live to Tell

Well, I am reading this book by Brad Kallenberg, and it's really helping me understand conversion and evangelism from the postmodern mindset.

he does a great job of dealing with the change in language and mindset that happens during a conversion experience (which he points out takes a much longer time than most expect). It's cool because he comes from a background where he used to try to get people saved by having quick conversations with them, giving them the gospel message, and then helping them pray Jesus into their lives. But he's recognizing that that doesn't work anymore. that sometimes conversion takes a few years.

He places a lot of emphasis on the community having a part in the conversion experience, about how being inundated with the faith community is the best way to bring someone into full hearted followship.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book...check it out!

PS...I'm at panera again...rock on Panera Bread Company