Friday, December 31, 2004

tsunami pictures

there are some amazing pictures of the tsunami damage on flickr.

you can view them by going here.

and here is a different set.

here are pictures of the people who were effected by the tsunami. these are the people who are missing.

asian tsunami

here are a few links on the asian tsunami. some of interest and some for purposes of helping.

consider helping in any way you can.

speaking in tongues

i just read an article about gentry tate speaking in tongues by using basketball player names - here it is.

the whole thing is a farce from the the holy observer but i think it is funny none the less.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

predictions for 2005

the evangelical outpost listed predictions for 2005. here are a few of my favorites:
  • tim lahaye will receive a vision from GOD warning him that he will be “left behind” if he writes any more novels about the apocalypse.
  • in preparation for the 2006 elections the g.o.p. reveals that its strategic plan consists of nothing more than relying on the democrats to implode.
  • when discovered alive and well and living in a beach house in nice, france, yasser arafat will confess that he faked his death because “living in palestine sucks.”

you can find the entire list here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

set up for the view - december 29, 2004

here are photos from the set-up of the view, december 29, 2004. this was our samson service. the back of the room was set up as a place to confess our failures to GOD (each corner of the room was a station that had cards and pens. the back center of the room was set up with two columns and a paper shredder. the columns were there to remind us of GOD using samson in the end inspite of his past failures. the paper shredder was a contemporary way of "erasing" the past. the sounds of the shredder were intermingled with our singing. each grind bore testimony to someone who had gotten rid of their guilt.

the view - setup december 29, 2004 - picture 1

the view - setup december 29, 2004 - picture 2

the view - setup december 29, 2004 - picture 3

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

new year's eve prep

we're not doing a new year's eve youth service - this way i get to spend some time with my family and personally i hate lock-ins with a passion. because of this i am using the service at the view tomorrow night to get our kids and adults focused on the new year. we are going to do a "redo" service based on the story of samson.

i love samson. he is such a major screw up. he had everything going for him. he was incredibly strong, apparently nice looking, and most importantly called by GOD. yet samson got all egotistical and screwed it all up. he messed up bad and it appeared that GOD would drop him. nobody would have blamed GOD for dropping samson. i mean samson did everything wrong and selfish. samson wasted the amazing gifts that GOD has given him.

i can relate to that. "wasted" is the word that i often feel like describes my life. i'm not incrediblly strong, nor am i very good looking, and truthfully i'm often not so sure that i have been called by GOD. the little bit i have i usually waste on myself instead of using to accomplish something for the greater good. most times i don't bring GOd glory. in fact, most times i'm too busy focusing on myself to really care if GOD gets any glory at all. i wouldn't blame GOD if he dropped me.

yet, GOD did not leave samson. when samson asked GOD for HIS help GOD was there. if you read the text you'll find that samson didn't even ask in a good fashion. samson didn't ask for GOD's glory, or say he was a worm or anything like that. nope! samson just asked for GOD's help, admitting that he needed GOD's help, and GOD gave it.

the LORD gave samson a "redo". right then and there between 2 colmuns GOD forgot about samson's past and used him. if GOD would give a screw up like samson a "redo" then HE'll give me "redos" also. i think allot of my teens need that message. i know i do.

so tomorrow night we're going to set up a coupe of columns and a paper shredder. i'm going to give each kid a card and then tell them the story of samson. after i'm through i'm going to tell them that if they have failed GOD during the past year and that failure still haunts them then this is the time to get rid of their past. paper shredders destroy what we don't want others to see or what we wish had never existed. during worship our teens will be invited to write down their failures, ask GOD to forgive them, and then put their failures into the paper shredder.

"poof." they're gone. it's a redo.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

giving up what belongs to us

i hate it when we CHRISTians give up things that are actually a part of our story. case in point - santa claus. there has recently been a debate santa on the youth specialties forum and on some pastor's wives forum that my wife goes to every now and then (usually to get mad because we don't agree with much that is said there). in both of these discussions i've been amazed by the number of people who are willing to simply give up on the legend of st. nicholas. some people are so upset by the commercial aspects of view on santa that they are willing to completely forget about the legend which shows nicholas as an amazing example of following CHRIST. nicholas is a part of our story. yes the world has ruined and corrupted parts of the legend but that is because we have let them. nicholas is a part of the line of followers of CHRIST and a part of "the family." you're suppose to fight for family. yet we are so willing to give him up and let someone else claim him (consumerism). i hate it when we give up our heritage.

the history channel's website has a great article on the development of the modern santa claus myths. the history channel give credit where credit is do. they recognize that st. nicholas is ours (CHRISTIans'). i just wish we could recognize what the world already does.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

set up for the view - december 22, 2004

welcome table 12 22 2004

here's the set-up for the back of the room for the view. this was our "welcome table".

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

CHRISTmas truce

Last survivor of 'Christmas truce' tells of his sorrow - guardian article

i had heard about this story before, of an unauthorized cease fire that took place around CHRISTmas day 1914, but i never really believed it was true. apparently it is a true story and this article details some of the memories of the last survivor of that day. the stories say that the two opposing sides just stopped shooting and began celebrating the only thing they could celebrate in the middle of that war ravaged land. they exchanged gifts, the sang songs, they even supposedly played football (soccer) in "no man's land."

it's a really cool story. yet the sad thing is that the unofficial truce eventually ended and the people who were moments before celebrating "GOD with us" began shooting each other and destroying the image of their MAKER later during the same day. if only we could follow the PRINCE of PEACE all the time in such away that everyday would be a CHRISTmas truce.

state religion

yankee doodle santa?the picture to the side is from my youngest' school second grade musical. the picture is from the song they sang named "yankee doodle santa". it's basically a combination of the song yankee doodle dandy and basic modern commercial santa claus mythology. santa at least started out as a spiritual icon. he was a hero of the faith until his basic history was stolen for commercialistic gain. so santa is not completely a spiritual icon anymore, yet "yankee doodle santa" is still basically a combination of a religious and national image.

this is just a children's musical yet this one song does convey a tendency within american CHRISTianity that i hate and that is the deification of all things patriotic and american. just consider the painting that is within the rotunda of the capitol building in washington. it's called the apotheosis of washington and apotheosis means "deification". at the center of our government is a mural depicting our first president becoming "divine". this actually sounds very similar to the imperial cult of rome or the deification of egyptian pharaohs. both of these practices happened to get people to worship the state. the nation in and of itself became the focus of the people's religion. if the people worshipped the state then they would support it.

modern american CHRISTianity has a tendency to fall right into this. often we like to think that agreeing with the state is the sign of a good CHRISTian. this is called "state religion" or nationalism by some. i just call it wrong. so we smile when our kids sing songs like "yankee doodle santa." we also turn our churches into huge patriotic parties during the fourth of july and our conservative churches barely ever cry 'foul" over what our nation does.

the santa, or saint nick, who has been turned into an image of commercialism and now nationalism was originally a follower of CHRIST who because of his love for JESUS gave out gifts to people in need. the original nicholas was an example for us to follow. "yankee doodle santa" is just a joke to be laughed at because he has no real hope.

Monday, December 20, 2004

justice in housing?

jordan cooper recently quoted the following from an ap story. here's the quote:

    in only four of the nation's 3,066 counties can someone working full-time and earning federal minimum wage afford to pay rent and utilities on a one-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday.

    a two-bedroom rental is even more of a burden - the typical worker must earn at least $15.37 an hour to pay rent and utilities, the national low Income housing coalition said in its annual "out of reach" report. that's nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.

you can read the rest of the article here.

this is absolutely amazing to me. it kind of destroys the concept of a "livable wage". how can a wage be considered livable when you can't even afford a one bedroom apartment on that wage? i'm not trying to support the concept of "entitlement", or trying to argue that the government should "ordain" that everyone get a certain amount of income. it just seems that a worker should be able to at least afford housing (without any luxuries) on the minimum wage.

jonnybaker: open source conferencing...

jonnybaker: open source conferencing...

i'm mainly blogging about this article because i want to remember it and i don't desire to keep it as "new" on my bloglines feeds. it's an interesting concept for doing "church" or maybe more "sunday school". you set up different rooms for that are then filled with "themes" that have been suggested by individuals within the group. the only person who has to stay in these rooms are the ones who proposed the "theme" for that room. everyone else is free to roam from room to room. this way they will "cross pollinate" the conversations from each room. at the end of the day all the groups give outline of what was discussed in each room.

i want to remember this because i would like to do it someday. pasting it here on the blog is easier than filing the thing away somewhere only to be forgotten.

Friday, December 17, 2004

setup for the view - wednesday, december 16, 2004


here's the set-up for the back of the room for the view for wednesday, december 16, 2004. this is our "welcome table".

Thursday, December 16, 2004

in need of prozac?

i haven't posted in a few days because i have had a mini-depression in regards to ministry.

every now and then i go through periods of depression in regards to the work of CHRIST. during these times i sometimes feel like i'm not doing anything worth squat or i'm not making a difference at all or it just feels like nothing i do goes the way it is supposed to. i can't always tell you why these times happen and there never seems to be much that is predictable about them. sometimes they are related to a specific event that has happened or did not happen but sometimes they are related to events at all. sometimes they last for three to four months, while other times that are over very quickly. sometimes they are times that i can later look back on and see significant progress and growth that took place during them, both in my own life and within the ministry. other times it is just a bland time that i was going through. they never really seem to make sense.

for the past week i've gone through a brief one. i say "brief" because for one it was only a week and second i believe it is actually ending. i don't know why it happened but i do know that i didn't enjoy being around myself and therefore i am fairly sure that no one else enjoyed being around me either. i sure do hope it is over.

i don't like these times but because of past experience i am always able to tell myself that "it will pass" and i will enjoy ministry again.

Friday, December 10, 2004

how stupid are we

mood cross jewlrey

how stupid can we CHRISTians get? have we really been reduced to making "mood" cross pendants? the sad thing is that some of us will spend money on buying these things and will like we are honoring GOD by doing so. good, GOD fearing parents will buy these things for their kids and by doing so think that they are helping their kids to stay close to GOD.

    I hate, I despise your feasts! I can't stand the stench of your solemn assemblies. even if you offer ME your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept [them]; I will have no regard for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle. take away from ME the noise of your songs!I will not listen to the music of your harps. but let justice flow like water,
    and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.

why couldn't we spend our time on justice rather than inventing "mood" cross pendants?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

an unwed, pregant teenage girl

i just ran across ben bell's CHRISTmas card for his church's congregation and i think it is amazing. in my opinion it really conveys what CHRISTmas must have been like. mary would have been view by the powerful people of her time as just another insignificant statistic and an indicator of why the hebrew race was below them. they would not have viewed her pregnancy as anything of importance. they would not have cared at all what was happening with her, joseph, or her unborn child.

you know that joseph and mary would have had to have been scared to death and confused by GOD's plan. of course, the incarnation freaks all of us out so it should have done the same thing to the first two humans to experience. "GOD with us" is a scary concept. "GOD for us" would be so much easier for us to handle. then we would just have a power that was helping us do the things we wanted to do. "GOD with us", the incarnation, means relating with GOD, HE becomes a part of our lives and we become a part of HIS.

the incarnation scares the crap out of me. truthfully GOD scares the crap out of me. HE is so completely "other" and mysterious. HE is someone that i can not define and i can not control. yet, i am constantly drawn to HIS "otherness". i long to be engulfed by HIS mystery and experience the fear that "otherness" produces. this is why HE is the answer to life.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

violent acts & our church

for some unknown reason my church has been linked to a fair number of violent acts over the past three years. we have several church members who have suffered from or been the victims of murder recently. over the past three years one of my teen's father (who was separated from the family) killed her two half-sisters and is now on death row in another state, then one of our church members and the mom of one of my youth was killed by a local serial killer, and then tonight the body of a teen church member was found murdered after being missing for three months. the teen and his family are church members though he was never involved within the youth ministry. my pastor and i went out to the church members' house tonight just to let them know that we care and will be there for them.

being at the home of parents who just found out that child was murdered is an experience that nobody really tells you about at seminary. i never had a professor at southwestern seminary tell me how to handle circumstances like this. not knowing what else to do my pastor and i just went to the house and stayed for a little while. we really didn't have any great words to say but there aren't really any words that would make this situation better. when we got there we found out that members form the church had already been making contact with the family and letting them know of our care and concern - it's nice to see the church work the way it is supposed to.

i hate that our members have to suffer through this things. yet, i love that our church is responding as the church is supposed to.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


in february, alan l, came on board with the youth ministry as the assistant youth minister. when he started one of the things i wanted to happen was for us to swap off speaking at the view every other month. before alan arrived i had been speaking consistently with a few other people every now and then. now i'm speaking one month and then listening to alan the next month.

at first, i didn't really like this.

after years of preferring small groups (small groups have feedback and interaction while large groups don't) i've finally gotten to the place in ministry where i enjoy speaking in front of larger groups. so, at first the thought of speaking for a month and then listening for a month wasn't that thrilling. i felt like it threw my groove off.

that was before i went to the national youth workers' convention and heard rob bell do his critical concerns course (8 hours of conference) on having "a revolutionary voice". during the conference he talked about letting messages and ideas "ruminate" in your head for awhile. i've tried to do this before by having my messages planed out for a while. yet, i have never done this anywhere near as well as rob bell. he said he never speaks about anything unless it has been bouncing around in his head for 3 to 6 months. the advantage of this is that GOD starts to provide teachable moments and ideas during this period of "rumination". these things then relate to your messages and add freshness and depth to them.

this "rumination" is what has changed my mind concerning speaking every other month. during my off month i have the time to simply listen to GOD concerning what HE wants me to speak about during the next month. i've planned out by prayer what i will be speaking on through november of 2005. everything i read, watch, listen to, and experience has the possibility of becoming something that GOD can deliver the message through. having the extra month gives me the time to figure out how to communicate what needs to be said. i throughly believe that my messages are getting much better simply because of the fact that i have the time to let them simmer a little while.

i am very thankful for this system now.

i kind of think that this might be a good system for churches. have two main speakers and have them swap off months or message series. in order to do this you would have to have two people who were very secure in their positions and humble. it would have to be two people who would not end up in a sense competing against each other. i know a few ministers and unfortunately i think it would be hard to find allot of people who would fit in this system..

Monday, December 06, 2004

counselor preveldge?

it's been a very weird day of ministry that i can't type about right now. maybe one day i will be able to discuss it. who knows. what i do know is that i have finally learned that it is best to simply shut up when you don't know what else to say. i couldn't comprehend what in the world to say today and i merely kept my mouth shut. turns out that the person who was talking to me took my quietness for good counseling technique and continued to spill their guts to me. after it was all through i still didn't know what to say and the person who had been talking to me told me that they really appreciated that i had given them my complete attention and had really listened.

of course, i didn't really listen. i was too busy trying to figure out what in the world to say.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

now that's ministry

article - mind, body, & spirit by ben edson

i love it when CHRISTians are truly creative in reaching out to the world - i only wish that i was more creative in doing it. the above article describes a church, sanctus1, in england that decided to be a part of the manchester mind, body, and soul conference, a new age spirituality conference. sanctus1 joined in the conference and offered a wall of prayer, plasma ball (which i'm not sure i understand), bread and wine, and foot messages. unlike all the other new age groups who were there sanctus1 did all of this for free. everyone else had consumeristic minds sets behind their spirituality. the free foot messages really amaze me because they strike me as modern day foot washing. true servant-hood in a environment that is hostile to CHRIST.

what an amazing idea. sanctus1 conveyed real CHRISTianity in an environment that many followers of CHRIST would completely avoid. what a great idea.

i pray that all of us followers of CHRIST could be inspired by our creative GOD to reach out in amazing acts of love and service.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

the perfect youth ministry day

yesterday was the perfect youth ministry day. by this i don't mean that everything about it was good. in fact, allot of what happened during the day wasn't good at all. it was the perect youth ministy day because the events that happened during it display why youth ministry is the greatest of all ministries. here's what happened.

8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
i spoke at one of our school's chapels - the elementary chapel. during this time i got the chance to try and help kids understand that even though JESUS may ask us to do things that sound odd to us, if we act in faith amazing things happen - i spoke about JESUS healing the man blind from birth by spitting on the groun and placing mud in his eyes. doing chapel for k through 5th grade is always allot of fun and this was no exception.

9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
i officiated at the funeral of a former youth whose husband and his family are also very important to me. the husband and wife were in a major car accident saturday morning. the wife was killed, the husband badly injured, and their child and a friend left the car uninjured. in the past i had been able to baptize her, then i was able to officiate their wedding, and finally i was the minister who dedicated their son. this family means allot to me and thus the funeral was not something that was easy for me. yet, i was also honored that the husband would ask me to do the funeral. i don't like seeing people i love in pain, but i am very thankful to get to be one of the people who GOD uses to bring them comfort. i was able to see their pain first hand at the hospital waiting for the husband's surgery to be finished and then later when i went with him to pick up the personal effects that were still in the badly damaged vehicle. i was so thankful that i got to be one of the people who comforted this family that i love.

2:00 p.m. till 5:45 p.m.
during this time i was focused on setting up and preparing for the view, our youth worship service. this included everything from setting up chairs, to decorating the student center for CHRISTmas, to practicing with the band, those who shall remain nameless, for the worship in music during the service. all of this involved working with youth to accomplish a common goal - of worship during the night.

6:00 p.m. till 7:15 p.m.
this is when the view went on. two things happened during this 1) we had a great worship service that even though i wasn't speaking during this night, alan my assistant was, i did get to lead kids in helping to lead the service, and 2) i got to clean up puke. that's right we had a kid "spew chunks" in the outside hall. we played a game at the beginning of worship tonight (something we do very rarely but this time it fit in with the message we were trying to convey and therefore we did it). we had a teen drink 52 ounces of egg nog. he tried to make it to the toilet after he had won the game but he didn't quite make it. i decided to clean it up instead of asking one of the volunteer adults to do it.

7:30 p.m. till 8:30 p.m.
i hung out with teens just talking about things

8:45 p.m.
i made it home - wednesdays are usually a late night but i make up for this by staying home in the afternoon.

here's why it was the perfect youth ministry day. there is no other ministry in which you could go from the very serious nature of a painful funeral to cleaning up puke. in fact, there is only one ministry in which it would be normal to consider going from such serious matters to such disgusting janitorial work. the only ministry in which this would be normal is youth ministry. youth ministry is the only ministry that would consider such extremes normal. this is why youth ministry is the greatest ministry in the world.

big things for GOD - by charles woodward - the ooze

article - big things for GOD - by charles woodward - the ooze article

a very powerful article in my opinon. it's nice to hear someone asking why it is that we feel that we need to do "big things for GOD." aren't small, and unnoticed things the most important? do our egos just push us to think that big things are the things that actually matter.

the author suggestion is that instead of imagining bigs things for GOD we should focus on the change within. i would agree with much of this. of course, some of my change is a change of becoming a person who is concerned about GOD's justice. this means that in order to focus on the change within myself i must be simultaneously focused on the world around me.

some would say:
"i have to find the vision for what GOD want's me to do for changing the world"

i think that's a great sentiment. we just have to remember that most likely what GOD wants us to do is to stay faithful in the small things. then maybe HE'll use us in the big things.