Friday, October 31, 2008

Writing & Speaking

Today I have been working on two additional lessons for the Youth Specialties project I have been privileged to contribute to. I finished my 20 lessons last week, but since I was the first one done I offered to pick up a couple more to help out. Once these are done I am looking forward to a bit of a break and then taking on some new writing projects Lord willing. I have another book of 500 questions just about done that I put on the back burner in order to fully devote myself to this project. So, I'll dust that one off, clean it up, and see if anyone wants to pick it up and publish it.

I am also beginning to receive a lot of invitations to speak. A few weeks ago I taught a class at NYACK college in Manhattan. Next weekend I will be upstate New York. The following weekend I will be speaking at a youth retreat in Michigan. I have also been asked to speak at a retreat in February, so I am hoping I can get the time off to do that as well.

I am excited for these opportunities of greater influence. Please keep me in your prayers. Thanks!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Friends Doing Youth Ministry

What do all of the following things have in common?

A grandma eating 4 spoonfuls of baby food. Uno. An Alpha-Bits Cereal spelling contest. A beautiful time of sharing and praying together. Hours of Spoons. Jenga. Waking up and looking out over the ocean from a balcony. Lunch at a place called Shagwong. A trip to the Montauk, NY lighthouse and bluffs. Four hours in a shuttle.

Answer: Our Adult Leaders’ Retreat 2008!

Last weekend our leadership team shared a fantastic weekend of relational connection and a bonding of our hearts together as friends. Youth ministry is not easy. Usually fun, often exciting, hectic, busy, sometimes frustrating, adventurous, tiring, but never easy. That’s why we need times to just get away and rest in the spirit of Jesus and His disciples.

In Mark 6:31, after some intense ministry adventures, Jesus said to
His disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” It’s easy to forget the importance of rest and relaxation in the business of ministry. But if we want to avoid burnout and want to serve Jesus for the long haul, we need to give our minds and our bodies time to rest and recharge.

I love retreats, especially with my leaders, because more than a time of rest, they are also a time of relationship building. In John 15:15 Jesus said to His disciples, “No longer do I call you servants … I have called you friends.” Do you think Jesus said that simply because the disciples were in ministry with Him? I don’t think so. All of those conversations walking from place to place, the conversations in the evenings when they couldn’t fall asleep, the meals they shared together, the getaways—these were the times during which their friendships were built; times of BEING together. While very important, the other stuff was doing-oriented. I have come to the place that I am simply not interested in just working together to get a job done. I want to be able to say, “I served Jesus faithfully, reaching students for the kingdom, and I didn’t do it with hired guns. I did it with friends. We worked hard. We played hard. We laughed. We cried. We prayed. We struggled. We learned. And through it all, we were friends.”

Today let me leave you with a Scripture to live and a statement to ponder.

“Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2).

The following is a rather full statement that I came upon recently in a devotional. Read it through a few times slowly. Meditate on it. Wrestle with it. Digest it in your spirit.

“In all the ordinary forms of Christian life, service is apt to have more or less of bondage in it; that is, it is done purely as a matter of duty, and often as a trial and a cross. Certain things, which at first may have been a joy and a delight, become after a while weary tasks, performed faithfully, perhaps, but with much secret disinclination, and many confessed or unconfessed wishes that they need not be done at all, or at least that they need not be done so often. The soul finds itself saying, instead of the 'May I?' of love, the 'Must I?' of duty ... I am ashamed to think that any Christian should ever put on a long face and shed tears over doing a thing for Christ which a worldly person would be only too glad to do for money.” - Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911) in The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life

For Those With a PhD

In promulgating your esoteric cogitations or articulating your superficial sentimentalities and amicable philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity.

Let your conversational communications possess a compacted conciseness, a clarified comprehensibility, a coalescent cogency and a concatenated consistency.

Eschew obfuscation and all conglomeration of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement and asinine affectations.

Let your extemporaneous descants and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and voracious vivacity without rodomontade or thrasonical bombast.

Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous prolificacy and vain vapid verbosity.

If you are really interested to know, the above means: “Be brief and don’t use big words.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

YWAM Colorado Springs @ Youth Group 2Night

Tonight we had the privilege of having a team from the Colorado Springs Youth With A Mission (YWAM) with us. They ministered to us through dance, music, and preaching, really challenging us to be active in partnering with God to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). It was fantastic and many students responded with great interest in learning more about how they can serve the Lord.

Monday, October 27, 2008

National Youth Ministry Conference

The Early Bird Special Ends This Week! Save $40 when you enter promo code SYMPODCAST.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Animation vs. Animator 2

Dad just sent me this hilarious video. Follow the link and enjoy:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Talking to a College Football Team

Today I had the privilege of giving a pre-game talk on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) to the Charleston Southern University football team which was in town to play Stony Brook University. I spoke on the "7 Keeps to Success." I was told by several of the coaches that my talk was really timely for the team. One of the coaches said he had taken notes and was going to steal my talk. lol

Being my first time in this setting, it was very interesting to see the team's preparation mode on game day. My FCA friend Steve said that I would see their focus, but I had no idea it would be like it was. I was expecting to find a team having meetings and getting themselves pumped up. What I found instead was a very quiet group of about 100 men. Here are 5 things I observed:
  1. Intense Focus. There was no talking except for a few minutes when the assistant coaches were meeting with their respective teams around the tables. And even then the talking was never above a whisper. Some guys had iPods on, but other than that each person was simply sitting and apparently concentrating on and envisioning their job for the day.

  2. Tremendous Attention to Detail. Each group was talking through their different plays for the day, and there was no question that everyone understood exactly what was expected of them. I was sitting next to the head coach who was going over his plays for the day. At one point he whispered across the table to one of his coaches to make sure that the code word for a certain play was the right word. They were leaving nothing to chance.

  3. Order. Prior to my visit I was given a copy of the team's schedule from Friday through Monday. It looked like an agenda from a youth retreat. Everything minute was accounted for and filled with a purpose. Being in the room with these guys on game day was like being in a military setting. Roll call was taken, each player standing when told to stand and sitting when told to sit. There was no talking; there were no questions asked. When it was time to eat, the only thing that was heard was: "Seniors," "Juniors," "Sophomores," "Freshmen." "Coaches & Staff." It was quite a well oiled machine. They ran a tight ship.

  4. Leadership is an Honor. After roll call, one of the assistant coaches informed one of the players that he was the team captain for the day. He said that this player had earned the right to speak to his teammates as a leader. If he saw something he didn't like, he had the right, privilege, and responsibility to speak to them.

  5. Servant Leadership. Finally, I noticed that while the players were eating, the coaches were running back and forth coordinating things with the caterers, serving drinks to the players, and making sure they had everything they needed. They made sure their players were taken care of before they even thought about sitting down to eat themselves.

It was a great experience, and I was glad I got to take one of my students, Tory, with me to share it. We had a good time together! I hope I have further opportunities along this line. The team also gave me tickets to the game, so I was able to take my family and Tory to the game. They lost by one point with just one minute remaining in the game. Bummer! Well, I guess my motivational talk got them within one point of victory. Not bad for my first try. Next time I ought to be able to motivate them to victory. Ha Ha!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Shack ... A Must Read!

Last night I finished reading the New York Times Best Selling Book The Shack by William P. Young. It was very well written, absolutely gripping, and some intriguing/interesting thoughts on the nature of God and His interaction with us. A must read for everyone - Christian or not. It will touch you to the core and challenge your perceptions!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yoda on Small Groups

Yoda Groups from Fusion Church on Vimeo.

Another NBA Player Gets Hustled!

Nets guard Devin Harris gets schooled by a London streetballer in jeans and a sweater!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Teaching, Free Food & Finding Friends

Today I was in Manhattan to teach an Intro to Youth Ministry class at NYACK college. It was a great time interacting with some great emerging leaders. Not only did I have a chance to hopefully instill some things in them, they really help to sharpen me as a leader. Having them push back on things keeps me on my toes and causes me to think more deeply about my own ministry. I really love that.

I was also able to capitalize on the train rides to get a bunch of work done. Getting out of the office helps clear my head and focus on getting some tasks done that so easily slip down the pile when the phone is ringing and people are walking in and out of the office.

After getting off the train in Hicksville I drove to Chipotle to grab a quick bite to eat. I was wearing our new small group shirt which I designed and the guys at the register liked it enough to say that my meal was on them. That was sweet!

Taking a couple of bites of my hee-youge burrito I realized I needed more napkins and went to the counter to grab some. When I did I saw my friend Jack Crabtree and his wife Becky in line. After getting their food they joined me and we shared a nice, unexpected dinner together. Jack, an experienced author with whom I am currently working on a project for Youth Specialties, really encouraged me in my writing and gave me some great ideas.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Awesome Proposal! Enjoy!

The AIDS Experience

All Planet Impact students are HIGHLY encouraged to participate in this event!

Shelter Rock Church and Arumdaun Presbyterian Church
Nov 13 - Nov 19, 2008
Bethpage, NY

Follow this link to get FREE tickets!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

College Roomate

Found these videos of my college roomate Jason Clark. So cool!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Big 7th Birthday!

Today was my youngest daughter's 7th birthday. She was so excited! She's been counting down the days for weeks. We had just a small family party, and in a couple of weeks she's going to have some friends over. Happy Birthday Squig!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Home, & Yes, Another Famous Person Was Met

We just arrived home from California. Actually, we thought we were returning home on Saturday, but Thursday night after I had fallen asleep I woke up to check our flight details to send to my mom and discovered that we were supposed to fly home on Friday. Good thing I woke up! Good flights. Crazily, when we were in the Cincinnati airport I saw this guy sitting next to us who looked so familiar. His daughter also looked so familiar. I told my wife I was almost certain that he was a missionary our church supports. Convinced it was him, I finally turned around and waved at him. He smiled and waved back, but didn't seem to recognize me. I knew if it was our missionary he would have known me, but perhaps the location had thrown him. I asked him if he was from Smithtown, and he said no. I told him that he looked so familiar - exactly like someone I knew (see pics). I just couldn't shake it. I knew I knew this guy, but from where? Finally our number was called and I said good bye to him. It was bothering me. Where did I know him from? And his daughter - I definitely recognized her as well. On the plane I told Ady that I hoped he was on our plane so I could figure out where I knew him from. However, she said that he was waiting for the flight at the other gate to Utah. Suddenly it hit me! Utah! The man was Ed Smart, and the daughter with him was Elizabeth Smart - the girl who had been kidnapped and was missing for almost a year before being found alive. I couldn't believe it! Well, that was our bit of excitement for the day. Glad to be home. Great trip.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Fun Today!

Today Ady and all of the wives went to Laguna Beach and had lunch at a resort while the rest of us were at Saddleback working. It was another great day of networking and brainstorming. One overarching thing that has really stood out to me that I appreciate about The Gathering is the focus on relationships before ministry. That has been so clearly communicated not just with words but through all that we have done this week. We finished up our sessions this afternoon and we just returned to the hotel for a little rest. Tonight we are heading out for dinner and then to Fields' house to watch Survivor. We've had a great time and met some tremendous people! Tomorrow we are going to have dinner with the college pastor from Saddleback and his wife and then going to watch Doug's son start his first high school football game as quarterback.

Brainstorming & Bowling

Today we had breakfast at Saddleback and then went over to their new student/community center called The Refinery for a brief tour. It's a really great place, but Doug was almost apologetic because the whole concept of a youth center really goes against his philosophy of ministry. Nevertheless, the church was determined to build it whether he wanted it or not, so he really oversaw the project to ensure it fostered the purposes and values of the ministry.

Following the tour we had a great day brainstorming with Doug for his rewrite of Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry. Good ideas to enhance and revise the book. We're going to be submitting some of the side bar comments for the book as well as some other input. It was fun for me as a writer getting a look at the creative process as well as the thought patterns of Doug when he's working on a book.

After a brief break to freshen up at the hotel, this evening we went for dinner and bowling at Lucky Strikes. It was a lot of fun fellowshipping and rubbing shoulders with so many great youth pastors. We were busting Fields' chops about his form (see the video), but he was cool under pressure and bowled a decent game beating most of us. lol

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Gathering @ Doug Fields' Home

Just returned from a time of fellowship at Doug and Cathy Fields' home. What a beautiful home and even better, a great time of sharing and fellowship with fellow youth workers. Great being around like-minded individuals who have such a passion for Jesus and youth ministry. More tomorrow.