Thursday, September 30, 2004

down with the bell

i'm not much of a protester. i do stand up for what i believe in and even try to make my views known to the powers that be on those matters - i write letters, send emails, and more on pretty much anything that cheapens human life (i.e death penalty, abortion, certain types of research, etc.) yet, i'm not the type of person who goes out looking for the next organization to boycott or next protest to be a part of.

with that said, i think i've run across an organization that i will begin to boycott until they begin to value humanity more. the business is taco bell. the reason i'm starting to boycott them is the coallaition of immokalee workers. the coalition of immokalee workers (ciw) is the organization that represents the tomato pickers for taco bell. the ciw is looking for a 1 penny raise from taco bell - they are still making the 1980 rate for picking tomatoes. that's absurd! it wouldn't cost taco bell much, if anything, to give this small raise.

in scripture the book of amos is all about justice. justice does not just mean the administration of law. no in the book of justice we find out that GOD defines justice as treating fairly those who have less power than you. justice means to protect the weak. therefore, i have to respond to taco bell. i'm not very powerful. i don't have a mighty voice that corporations will listen to and be swayed by. all i have is a family, a ministry, a my own pigheadedness. but i will use what i have. i won't eat at taco bell and my family has agreed to do the same thing. the only other thing i have is leadership within our youth ministry and using that i will not bring my teens to eat at a taco bell again until the ciw gets a raise. i have emailed taco bell and told them this.

even if it isn't enough to make them change their minds right now, i will still not give my money or encourage my teens to give their money to an unjust company.

protect the weak!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

love / hate relationship

i love wednesdays - i hate wednesday nights.

i love wednesdays and preparing for our youth worship service, the view. i love the constant work of getting everything ready. it's a constant rush to make sure that everything is set for when we start the service. computer work has to be done, programs have to be printed, sound system equipment has to be put up and tested. there is always something else to do. i never have to wonder on wednesdays what i'm going to do next because there is always something else to do. even though we plan many parts of the service weeks ahead of time there is always something else that needs to be done.

i hate wednesday night because it's over and now i begin to wonder. did GOD speak tonight, did i get in the way, did the kids "get it", did i "get it, where we prepared enough? wednesday nights are when the questions begin to pour into my head. u start feeling pretty insecure concerning what we've done. i begin to ask why more people didn't say something about the service or why so many people did say something. i start to wonder and there don't seem to be any immediate answers to the questions that keep running through my head. the answers won't come until later in the week.

i kind of wish that i could always just keep preparing for the view and never actually finish it. then i wouldn't have to go through wednesday nights.

the feast of tabernacle

tonight at the view we celebrated sukkot - the jewish feast of booths. we've been dealing with the days of awe. we've approached the tradition from the angle of understanding why the forefathers of our faith celebrate as they do, and what parts of those celebrations point to CHRIST. the series ended tonight.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

start a revolution

the new church budget year is about to begin (friday, october 1st) and this means that i can buy a new laptop. i used to have a laptop that was 4 1/2 years old. it's was a compaq presario 1200-xl119 and it really worked fine. i would still be using it if it wasn't for the fact that the power plug-in broke. i tried to have it fix but when they told me it was going to cost $650 i decided it might be time for a new computer. it's amazing to me that i can buy this small little part for about $10 to $15 but it costs $600 to have it put in. it's a great, big, stupid world.

the problem with buying a new laptop is that our ministry has now entered the video age. because of this i have to consider video editing when i look at a laptop. this changes the standards for the laptops that i consider. now after a great deal of research i have finally ordered one. it's an apple powerbook:
  • 15" screen
  • 1.33 ghz cpu
  • 512 meg ram
  • 64 meg ati radeon video
  • 80 gig hard drive.
  • dvd/cd-rw

since i order an apple i did of course also purchase finalcut express 2. i am very excited about getting my hands on this. this is going to offer me mny more features than pinnacle studio 9 does and i was able to get it for only $99.

right now it should arrive in baton rouge on friday, october 8, 2004. of course, i leave for the national youth worker convention on the 7th so i'll probably miss it.

Monday, September 27, 2004

being genuine

let me be transparent for a moment - i hate the word transparent, i'm fed up with people saying that they are being real, and i think i'll puke the next time someone tells me that they are genuine. current catch phrases that's all they are. they're the words that are current right now and ministers, speakers, and other various youth worker wannabes say them so they will sound good. but to me they're basically just words with very little meaning behind them.

the reason i think this is because i actually do have a theory on being "real" - kind of ironic isn't it. my theory is this - we are most real when we admit how fake we are. we are all pretty much a bunch of posers. i screw up regularly and i want to keep those screw ups as well hidden as possible. even though possibly the best thing that could happen to me would be for you to know each of my sins so that i would no longer have to pretend, that's not what i want to happen. i want to hide my sin and keep on pretending like i'm perfect. i am one very fake person. in fact, i am so fake that when i begin to become "transparent" i am usually thinking in the back of my mind about how secure in myself i am to let people see my weaknesses. i'm not secure. i'm pathetic.

the good news for me is that i'm not alone. i'm surrounded by pathetic people. people who desperately want to be "real" but don't know how to because we are so completely fake. in my heart i want to live the life of the velveteen rabbit but in my mind i don't want to go through all the pain and anguish of getting rid of all the layers of fakeness within my life. what if under all those layers of "fakeness" i find out there's nothing real in the center - the equivalent of a fake onion, simply made up of layers.

thankfully JESUS loves fake people if only we recognize that we are fake. hypocrites don't realize that they are posers, hypocrites think that they are "real". JESUS loves fake people who understand how "unreal" they are. one day JESUS will take all of us "posers" and make us real.

i'm not trying to offer up a cheap, little, sunday-school answer here. i'm not trying to just cover a very difficult problem with the simply phrase "but JESUS will take care of things in the end." i know life has difficult problems and the answers to these problems aren't easy. it's just that there's not another answer to the problem of how fake we are. if JESUS doesn't love us as a group of wannabes then we are all basically out of luck. there's nothing else we can do about it. none of us are real enough to find an answer to our fakitivity (my wife's word). either JESUS loves us in spite of our fakeness and helps us to become real or we're doomed to live and die in a world that only pretends to be genuine

so let me be as transparent as i can be - there is nothing transparent about me. i am so fake that i even trick myself into believing that i'm being real. yet there is still hope for me. that hope is found in the only ONE WHO is real.

am i as clear as mud?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

made, loved, kept

julian of norwich was an anchoress and a mystic (1340 - 1426). during her "first showing" she saw all that had been "made" as a little object sitting in her hand. it was only about the size of the hazelnut. she was amazed by how fragile it look and bewildered that it could survive. looking upon it she made the following statement:
in this little thing the ("hazelnut of everything that has been 'made'") i saw three properties. the first is that GOD made it, the second that GOD loveth it, the third that GOD keepeth it. but what is to me verily the MAKER, the KEEPER, and the LOVER - i cannot tell; for till i am substantially oned to HIM, i may never have full rest nor very bliss: that is to say, till i be so fastened to HIM, that there is right nought that is made betwixt my GOD and me.

  • made me
  • loves me
  • keeps me

i'm not sure that it can get much better than that. now if i could only remember that this is true and live based on it.

a good day

i spent a wonderful day with my family - tossing the football, wrestling with my kids, eating at the table, taking noah to a birthday party, etc. it was a great day.

Friday, September 24, 2004

gemar hatima tovah!

pam and i were going to go to a yom kippur service tonight at one of the local synagogues. we were really looking forward to it because we are both very interested in the hebrew faith. i have nothing but profound respect for judaism.

we wanted to make sure that it would be okay for us to visit the service, since it is a very important service, and we wanted to find out if there were any customs that we needed to know about before coming to the service. so i called the synagogue.

when i asked if the service was open to the public the secretary said "you mean to ... like ... non-jews?"

"yep, i'm a gentile"

she said "i'll have to ask"

so she put me on hold and went to ask. she then came back and said it would be a minute longer. the second time she came back she said it would be okay for us to come to the service but that the ushers would probably have alot of questions for us. i told her that would be fine and then asked if there were any customs that we needed to know about. she told me, "no, but the ushers probably will have alot of questions."

needless to say i didn't feel very welcomed.

now i know from my past that this is not true of all synagogues. growing up i had a fair number of jewish friends who took me to synagogue every time i spent the night with them. their synagogue was always open and welcoming. from this i know that this unwelcoming spirit has nothing to do with the jewish faith and everything to do with the people in the building. there are unwelcoming CHRISTians who operate churches that feel just like the synagogue i spoke with.

i just can't understand why a church that worships the "most high GOD" would not be excited about others joining them. it makes no sense to me that you would not relish the opportunity to share the worship of the "LORD of hosts" with others. yet this synagogue was like this and many CHRISTian churches are like this too. how can we not welcome strangers when we know that they bear the image of our LORD in their flesh?

it scares me to think of the times i have been unwelcoming.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

you've got to be kidding - "priest idol"

priest idol
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Channel 4 to screen 'Priest Idol'
LONDON -With the working title Priest Idol, the show will give a vicar 12 months to boost the church's turnout. Backed by advisors, the vicar will be able to spend an undisclosed sum of money on anything he or she thinks will appeal to parishioners. Being filmed in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, the three-part series is due to be broadcast at the end of 2005.

have we as the church really fallen down this low? have we truly reached a point where we are reduced to doing this in order to revive lagging attendance at our churches?

please say it ain't so.

what happened to the hope that we have to offer this world? what has happened to the freedom that we have to offer the world? are these, and the other amazing joys of following CHRIST, not enough to grow a church? do we really now have to hold contests and bring in television cameras into our churches in order to stir us to reach out to a sick and dying world?

please say it ain't so!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

the rest of the story - ivan part 2

last wednesday i posted about the amazing ministry opportunities that happened in baton rouge because of the hurricane ivan. it was a wonderful day of ministry and i have been basking in the light of it for a week. i really didn't think it could get any better. then today happened.

this morning i received a call from renee the director of the covenant house, the group that stayed with us last week. she said that she and her director wanted to come up from new orleans and thank us personally for the assistance we had given them. i told her i would love to meet here but she really didn't have to come an hour to meet me because it wasn't really that big of a deal. i told her that i had only wished that we could have let them stay at our church, rather than merely giving them a place to rest for 7 hours or so.

"you don't know then do you?" she said.

i asked her what she was talking about and that's when she told me that a few of our youth parents had found them a place to stay in baton rouge. the place said they could stay there but they wouldn't be able to provide any food or anything. that was fine because my unknown youth parents hooked them up with dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. this had all been done without me ever knowing about it. the parents involved within the youth ministry saw the need, knew it was something we would want to do, and they jumped into action taking care of things. this is the way it's supposed to happen. the minister gives the ministry over to the church and the church responds.

i love my job.

Monday, September 20, 2004


YS Forums -> An open letter to Mike Yaconelli.
i'm a youth specialties forum junkie. i'm not really sure when it happened (i think around my 50th post i was hooked) but i know that it is true and there is no use in trying to deny it. i enjoy the banter, humor, encouragement, and fights that take place on the forum. i enjoy the fact that i am sometimes challenged to reconsider what i believe and sometimes i merely want to slap someone upside the head because they can't understand what i'm trying to say. it's an enjoyable place that i like to visit every now and then (actually i like to visit it alot).

i ran across the above thread and it has left me a little confused. i understand what mark riddle is trying to say in his letter but i don't understand how a ministry could get to the point that someone could say this about that ministry. mark riddle's basic point is that youth ministry separates teens from the church and thus is failing. i would have to agree that when a youth ministry does separate it's teens from the rest of the church then it does fail. you set these teens up for a fall. you set them up to think that the rest of CHRISTianity will be one big "youth group" and when that doesn't happen they simply turn their back on CHRISTianity. this is my problem with some (and i do mean "some" here) para church youth ministries. they separate teens from the church and IMHO guarantee that those teens won't become a part of a church after high school. i think it's destructive.

my problem with mark riddle's letter is that i don't see how any effective youth ministry can become like what he is describing. adults becoming involved within the youth's lives and the youth becoming involved within the lives of other church members is a natural thing within an effective youth ministry. i don't see how it can be any other way. maybe "youth groups" can separate from the rest of the church but youth ministries have to be a part of the church. the whole measure of a youth ministry is whether or not it is building up the bride of CHRIST, so how could the teens and church not be involved within each other's lives.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

10 reasons why your church sucks -

10 reasons why your church sucks
a very interesting article. i'm not familiar with ginkworld but if the rest of the article are like this one then i believe i will start reading it regularly. the whole article details a former church member responding to an abusive church leader over why he has left the former church and is now going to another church.
i wonder what someone would say about our church. i could attempt to answer but truthfully it would be very biased and not really accomplish anything. i think we would do a lot better than the church that is addressed in this article, yet i'm sure that there are some who have had bad experiences with our church before who may say the exact same statement about us. i know we can't get it write with everyone, but a lot do hope that we are usually doing a pretty good job.

why youth ministry is the greatest thing to do ever

hurricane ivan scared a bunch of people around here and started a MASS evacuation from new orleans, which is below sea level. tuesday afternoon i received a phone call from a run-away teen shelter in new orleans asking if they could stay with us. i told them that would be great but i would have to check with our pastor of administration first. turns out he had already told the red cross that we would gladly be a shelter for any needs that the red cross had - they put us as a secondary shelter asking that we stay open, ready, and available for them - most likely to be a meals location. this meant we had to be open for the red cross and i had to call the shelter back and tell them we couldn't. turns out this wasn't a problem because within the 10 minutes it took me to find out we couldn't host them and then call them back they had already received a call from a camp in texas saying they could stay there. i was pretty disappointed. i really wanted to be a part of helping them.

wednesday morning i went to substitute teach in our church school. druing the day my administrative assistant came running into class with a smile on her face and said "they're here!"


"the teens from the shelter ... and the have babies!" she was extrememly excited about the chance to help the teens and the chance to hold the babies.

it turns out that they had left new orleans soon after our conversation the previous day and it had taken them 13 hours to make the usual 1 hour trip from new orleans to baton rouge. they needed a break, saw the church, and thought "they'll help".

this was great. what was even better was that my leadership team, teens, and parents had already stepped into action. some of them had driven by at the right time, noticed the vans, and stopped to ask what was up. before i could ever get over to see out visitors (it took me about 30 minutes) our parents, kids, and leadership had already taken care of them. food was found. toiletries were brought. diapers were purchased. it was all done before i could even get over there. everyone encouraged them to stay and rest as long as they wanted to and every need was met. i was actually a little disappointed because all i actually got to do was go buy some water - every other need was met before i ever got there. these teens and their leader were refreshed and it wasn't because we had set up a program or trip for the adults and teens. nope they saw the need and decided for the glory of CHRIST they needed to do something about it. 7 hours later they left to finish their trip.

this would have been good enough but there was more. after our youth service last night i received a call from one of our youth. he said he had just heard from a former boss at jason's deli that help was needed in making meals for emergency workers in the area east of us that don't have power. he had already called some of our youth and wanted to know if i wanted to come. "sure" i said and i told him i could get some more.

"nope. i'll take care of that. you just come if you want to." is what he told me. today i took my wife and kids with me to the warehouse to find that 15 youth were already there making 3,500 meals. they had set the whole thing up. they called. they organized. they reacted.

i am not sure i have ever been so proud.

they get it!

Monday, September 13, 2004

if i had a shofar

after four weeks of waiting my shofar finally arrived. it's great. i ran around the church today shouting "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" and blowing the shofar as loud as i can. if only i had brought some clay pots with me to church today. i could have smashed them and made the image complete. i'm not sure if anybody else thought it was funny but i did.

wednesday, we are going to celebrate a very CHRISTianized version of rosh hashanah. i've been researching the "days of awe" as much as possible. i am finding the whole thing fascinating. if it wasn't for the fact that it is impossible to follow all 613 mitzvot i would want to be jewish. the tradition is so amazing.

the beauty of being a follower of JESUS, the jewish messiah (besides for the salvation and freedom and such) is that i am able to somewhat enjoy and participate within the jewish customs that HE would have participated within during HIS time on earth.

Friday, September 10, 2004

5th quarter

the parent organization (pbs - parents backing students) of the church's school put on a 5th quarter tonight after the football game (we played lawless and it wasn't much of a game - pbs 42 / lawless 0). pbs put the 5th quarter on taking care of all the details and i got to just walk in and say hey to my kids, meet some new ones, and basically just visit. i loved it. i didn't have to organize anything, take care of details, order any pizza, or stay to clean-up. it was their ballgame and i was just a guest. i thought they did an excellent job with the whole thing and the kids seem to have a good time.

youth ministry wise parkview has been going through another attendance boom. when i first arrived at parkview we had between 15 & 25 teens showing up on wednesday nights for the view. they had gone through a rough time with the old youth minister leaving and the interim youth director. the group had shrunk from 100 - 140 showing up on wednesdays. slowly but surely things began to change and after 3 1/2 years we are averaging over 100 again. the great thing is that we've done it without gimmicks. we are not the "fun" youth ministry in town. in fact, i sometimes wonder if we might be boring. sure we change everything around all the time but we don't do alot of "youthy" stuff. we worship, serve, and enjoy each other. that's about it.

anyway here's what sparked this trip down memory lane. tonight at the 5th quarter i had a senior in high school tell me he was going to start coming just because of the message series we are doing. this is the first time this has ever happened to me. here's the kicker. the series is not a "youthy" message series. over the next 4 weeks i'm talking about the jewish "days of awe" and their relation to CHRISTian belief and practice. i would suspect a kid to come just to hear about relationships or GOD's will for my life or something else like that. yet this is the first time i've ever had a teen say they were going to start coming to church just to hear a certain message. it's not even like his a "spiritual giant" that we're stealing from another church (which i hate). he doesn't go to church anywhere on wednesday night because his home church doesn't have a service. so he's going to start joining us for the midweek service. not because it's fun, not because of games or gimmicks, not because of a light show, or rocking music. nope because of a message series. i also tend to think that he knows that our kids and our adults love each other because of their love for GOD. i love my church and i love the youth ministry that i get to work with.

i have the greatest youth ever

the title says it all (except i would add their parents to the list of greatest also). yesterday one of my kids and her mom came by my study with a huge frame in their hands. the frame contained a matted collage of pictures from our recent nicaragua mission trip. it is absolutely amazing. i can't come close to figuring out how much time they spent on making this 3' x 4' montage. there was a card with it telling me how much they appreciate me. of course, they don't realize that it was attitudes like theirs that made the mission trip so tremendous.

i love my kids (and their parents)!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

too much time on my hands and it's ticking away

i've recently started cyber-visiting the youth specialties website forums and found some of the conversations quite good. i have also realized that two other things:
1. i don't like a large percentage of youth ministers.

i actually found this out at a youth ministers' meeting. i know this sounds odd but i simply find that a large number of youth ministers are overly concerned with numbers, have large egos, and strive to be hip. i am definitely not cool and i have no desire to be cool. in fact, i probably have the desire to be even less hip than i already am. i do not constantly try to know my students' lingo, or what the top bands are, or dress in the latest fashions. i pretty simply love teens. i'm also not real concerned with how many kids we have (thought we actually have one of the largest youth ministries in town). i get fed up with people telling me how many they had for "such and such" event and then pressing me for how many we had. i think i am going to just start telling people that i've run all my youth off and i'm about to be fired. maybe that will shut up the talk about numbers. it might be fun to watch how they respond.
2. some people on this board have way too much time on their hands.

i was able to keep up with a few of the threads over the weekend but then tuesday came along and work began again. it was hard but i stayed in the conversations. that is until today. how in the world youth workers continue posting at the rate they do boggles my mind. i haven't posted once today because i've been trying to catch up with the parts of the discussion that have gone on since i've been working. wednesday is one of my busiest days, with the view and such. it takes me all day to get things ready for the worship service that night. how can these other ministers manage such a large commitment of time with these boards. it blows my mind.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

another video & another rant

we did another announcement video last night for the view. click here to see it.

now here's the rant.

i'm fed up with youth ministers thinking it is cool to trash on the church. it seems like right now it is hip to be disenfranchised with the church. i hear people talk more and more about how they are fed up with the institutional church but not with CHRIST. this then leads to youth ministers complaining about how the church is so broken. i end up finding this in the blogs of allot of younger youth ministers (not that i'm very old - i'm only 36 and have only been doing this since 1989). it seems to me that their posts are basically saying "if only all the church members were as well rounded as i am then it would work right." their vast experience of two churchs and four years of youth ministry has taught them how screwed up the church is and now they have decided to try and write about it like mike yaconelli. they write in their blogs as the "old sage" about how messed up working in and with the church is and how they have to go accomplish "real ministry" in other ways. they constantly grip about how much they have lost by working in and with the church (and never reflect on how much they have gained). every time i read a 24 year old writing this crap i laugh myself silly.

so i have only one thing to say ... "GET OVER IT!"

the church is screwed up! everybody knows that. it's full of bitter, mean, vengeful, backstabbing, adulterous, stupid, sinning, gossiping, fallen people (of which i am definitely one). these people will hurt and lash out at the very ministers who are trying to help and shepherd them. every CHRISTian should know that the church is full of screwed up people merely by the fact that they are allowed into the community. we are a community of the screwed up.

yet, the church is also the bride of CHRIST and HE is passionately in love with HIS bride. JESUS has chosen to work in and through really screwed up people like we have in the church and sometimes that sucks. but that's who JESUS has chosen to love and use and therefore because of my love for HIM and my sense of call from HIM i choose to work with and in HIS bride. being a minister means working with and loving difficult people (rob bell refers to them as "human sandpaper"). that's simply apart of the job. it's fine and dandy (i like that phrase) to vent every now and then but goodness don't set your personality around doing that all the time. you're talking about the bride of CHRIST after all. amazing things happen within the bride of CHRIST and ministers get paid (sometimes at least :)) to have a front row seat for much of it. what could be better than that. we get to see CHRIST forgive and renew the bitter, mean, vengeful, backstabbing, adulterous, stupid, sinning, gossiping, fallen people within HIS. sometimes HE has to forgive and renew us allot of times before we understand how new HE has made us and before we see how much HE loves us.

kind of ironic that i just vented about people venting. :)

btw, don't get me wrong about yaconelli, i loved him. he was a much needed voice within the body of CHRIST. it's just that it bugs me when "young en's" try to sound like yac. he had earned the right to speak like that. he had been through years of ministry and hardship and he was definitely still very much in love with the bride of CHRIST. it merely seems stupid to me for 20-somethings to try and talk like that. wait until you've "earned (your) spurs" through more than 4 years of ministry before you try to talk like a 30 year veteran. i'm not there yet and thus i'm still learning how this whole thing works.