Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Am Second

Tonight we used a few videos from the amazing website,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Text & Chat Acronyms

Today while leading a workshop for youth leaders on social media, questions about the new language of the media age were raised. Below is a list of text and chat acronyms put out by the CPYU (Center for Parent & Youth Understanding) (click the picture to enlarge). You can also consult websites like Netlingo.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Sentiments Exactly!

My Parenting Principle

Protection is important.
Nurture is more important.
Equipping is the most important!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Leadership & Popularity

"If the goal of your leadership is growth, just do the popular thing. If the goal of your leadership is maturity, you're going to have to do some unpopular things."
- Kevin Mahaffy, Jr.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Difficult Road

"There is not always a nice, pretty road AROUND problems.
The way to victory is usually the ugly, difficult road THROUGH problems."
- Kevin Mahaffy, Jr.

Texting & Walking, Falling, Now Suing

And, yes, of course it's America, and now she's suing the mall! Of course, on the positive side, she's not suing them for the fountain; rather she's suing them because she was embarrassed that someone released the video and she was embarrassed! Here's a thought ... no one knew who you were until you went public and filed a law suit! She should have just left it alone. She herself said it was funny to watch. People used to be proud of these goofy mistakes, send in their video, and then sit in the front row on America's Funniest Home Videos and hope for $10,000. Now they get a seat on Good Morning America with a lawyer going for $10,000,000!

Monday, January 24, 2011

When Parents Say, "They Won't Tell Us"

“They won’t tell us.” That’s a common response I get when I ask parents how their teens enjoyed the Winter Retreat. I happen to know from being there that God did something very special in all of their lives, and that they had a really fun time, so take comfort that God was at work in your teens. Regardless of my assurances, wouldn’t it be nice if your teen would tell you themselves? Part of their secrecy is just normal teen behavior.

But there is another aspect of why they don’t tell us what’s happening that we can do something about. Sometimes our teens don’t tell us things because we don’t know how to approach them in a way that makes them want to disclose information to us, and more importantly, engage in healthy and meaningful conversation. Whether it’s about a youth event, what’s going on at school, or what they’re doing with their friends, here are some helpful tips from the chapter “My Teenager Won’t Talk To Me” in the book Bold Parents, Positive Teens.

How to Jump-Start Talking for Even the Most Reluctant Teen:

  • Use Praise. Few teenagers can resist a genuine compliment. . . . So every day tell your teens something different that you like about them. Include personality characteristics, wise choices, and appearance. . . .
  • Be Present. Be available at the time when your teens process the stuff of the day. For many this is right after school or when they get home from school and other after-school activities. Consider picking up your non-driving teen so you’ll have uninterrupted time to listen. Or stop what you’re doing when he or she walks in the door. If you’re at work, call daily at the time your teen arrives home, or have them call you at this time. This habit gives regular opportunities to connect.
  • Prompt but don’t Pry. Ask open-ended questions: “What did you like about that?” “How do you think they’ll act next?” “If you could do it over again, how would you change things?” Use your questions to invite conversations rather than pry.
  • Be Predictable. Establish talking time that your teen can count on. For [us] it’s the tradition of telling three things at supper. For you it might be working on a jigsaw puzzle every weekend, or just-you-and-me talking time during the regular drive to soccer practice.
  • Don’t Pounce. Pick up tidbits carefully so your teen won’t withdraw. Your teen will test you by sharing simple stuff before sharing the deep stuff. So when he says he saw a duck on the way home from practice, show that you’re interested. Even if he’s teasing you, go ahead and ask: “What was the duck doing?”

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Complete New Testament Resource

Just finished giving a talk to students using The Complete New Testament Resource for Youth Workers. Great lessons! Easy to use. Include Ice-Breakers, Discussion Questions, Talking Points, and even Media leads to go with the lesson. Volume 2 is now available for pre-order. Volume 1 & Volume 2.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Great blog post by my buddy and fellow-youth pastor Brian Berry! Enjoy and be inspired as I was.

"My kids are sponges. Maybe all kids are. But I'm acutely aware of my own.

They soak up everything around them and everything I do. They watch me on my phone. They watch me drive. They watch me ..." Read the full article here.

Henri J.M. Nouwen on LONELINESS

"Creating Space to Dance"
by Henri J.M. Nouwen

When we feel lonely we keep looking for a person or persons who can take our loneliness away. Our lonely hearts cry out, “Please hold me, touch me, speak to me, pay attention to me.” But soon we discover that the person we expect to take our loneliness away cannot give us what we ask for. Often that person feels oppressed by our demands and runs away, leaving us in despair. As long as we approach another person from our loneliness, no mature human relationship can develop. Clinging to one another in loneliness is suffocating and eventually becomes destructive. For love to be possible we need the courage to create space between us and to trust that this space allows us to dance together.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Just finished reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It was an easy read, and I felt like I was listening to Chan give a teaching live. I have read very broadly so there was nothing about it that blew me away personally, but it was a good read (and included cool media leads to check out online as you were going through it) and did more than entertain the mind. He really tried to get us into a deeper contemplation of the enormity of God's love for us (to get us to "feel" it, if you will), and challenged us to live in that love in relationship to others. The book could be utilized in a wide variety of ways. I would highly recommend it as as a book for seekers, nominal Christians, or people who are just wondering if we are missing it as Christians. It would also make a good book for small groups to work through together. Enjoy!

God Loveth Adverbs

By Philip Yancey
The Puritans wisely sought to connect all of life to its source in God, bringing the two worlds together rather than dividing them into sacred and secular. They had a saying, “God loveth adverbs; and careth not how good, but how well.” Adverbs describe verbs—our words of action and activity. The proverb implies that God cares more about the spirit in which we live than the concrete results.
Pleasing God doesn’t mean ... Read or Listen to the Full Article HERE.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Love & Respect

My wife and I are currently watching the Love & Respect Marriage Seminar on DVD and doing the workbooks together. It's a great resource if you have a couples small group. I would also suggest it as a great curriculum if you are working with couples in a pre-marriage or pre-covenant class. You can also purchase the book by the same title.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blake Griffin's Top 10 Dunks

First Book Read in 2011

Just finished my first book of 2011, The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. It's a little lengthy but is a great challenge to the American church to wake up and start living out the teachings of Jesus, specifically in relation to caring for poor, in very real, practical ways.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Retreat 2011 Speaker & Band

Our family with Winter Retreat 2011 Speaker Doug Fields & Band Unhindered.

Martin Luther King, Jr. ... one of my heroes!

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech & His prophetic last words the day before he was assissinated.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

RISE 2011 - January 29th

RISE 2011
Cost: Only $15 (includes lunch!)
Sign Up TODAY!
(Click the pic to enlarge)

What Does the Bible Say About Sex & Holiness?

Live Different by Youth Ministry 360 Now Available

Friday, January 14, 2011

20 Winter Retreats!

"THANK YOU!" To all of you who helped us pull off another incredible Winter Retreat, thank you! Each and every one of you played a key role. We couldn't have done it without you. I appreciate the total team effort!

I want to especially honor Bob Zuber who was serving at his 20th Winter Retreat! What an exemplary leader whose faithfulness should inspire us all. Please join me in expressing gratitude to Bob, his wife Maryann, and his son Justin for their selfless and sacrificial service.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Career vs. Calling

"A career is something I choose for myself;
a calling is something I receive.
A career is something I do for myself;
a calling is something I do for God.
A career promises status, money or power;
a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering
- and the opportunity to be used by God.
A career is about upward mobility;
a calling generally leads to downward mobility."

(Ortberg, John If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001).

Coast to Coast Lunch

Today my friend Mike Lovato, his Jr. High leader Ben and I were able to meet up in Jamaica Queens. They flew all the way here from California for a few hours of meetings this morning in preparation for a student missions trip in the spring, and it was cool of him to look me up to get together briefly before they headed back. They're doing some great work in Riverside!

Famous & SIGNIFICANT Last Words!

An hour ago I learned that my friend Heather died tragically after being hit by a truck. We had the chance to work together on a few occasions reaching students for Jesus, and until moving back to her home in Chicago a few months ago, I always enjoyed seeing her familiar face and hearing her booming-with-life voice almost every time I entered my real office, Starbucks, where she worked as a barista. She was one of the most optimistic, positive, funny, passionate people I have ever met. In visiting her Facebook page I was amazed to find that her last wall post had these simple but profound words:

"Don't just pretend to love others...really love them."

Heather had no idea that these would be her final words to the [Facebook] world, but I can think of no better message to leave! More than just famous last words, her message is filled with true meaning and significance. May we all hear and live out these words which are directly from the heart of God.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Retreat 2011 Planet Impact Group Pic

Hanging with Doug & Cathy Fields in NYC

Last week Adriana and I had a fun time hanging out with our friends Doug & Cathy Fields in Times Square. Doug was the speaker at our Winter Retreat this past weekend. Pics of the retreat coming soon.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Duffy Robbins Look

Monday, January 10, 2011

Church Growth vs. Church Seasons |

Healthy churches also plateau, decline, and receive pruning from God's hand. Read this insightful article.

Gray Can (Still) Seize the Day: Years Bring Advantages to Older Youth Workers |

I could really identify with this article and it really encouraged in my 10th year of full-time youth ministry.

"I was in my late 20s when I attended my first National Youth Workers Convention. Everyone there looked as if he or she was 20-something.

"No longer. The heads in the last few youth ministry conventions I've attended have been looking a lot grayer; or maybe I'm just aware of them now, having aged with them. Read the full article here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Henri J.M. Nouwen on Success vs. Fruitfulness

"There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another's wounds. Let's remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness." (Nouwen, Henri J.M. Bread for the Journey)

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Have a TEENAGER!!!!

Today was Claudia's 13th birthday! I couldn't be more proud of my girl! She enjoyed a party with her friends a couple of weeks ago, we went out for dinner as a family where she received her first cell phone as her present, and we had Claudia's Abuelita, Grandpa Tom, Tia Alma, & Uncle Rich over for cake. 

Doug Fields Has Finally Started Blogging!

Check it out HERE!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Books I Read in 2010

  1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  2. A Passion for Souls: The Life of D.L. Moody by Lyle W. Dorsett
  3. Adam by Henri Nouwen
  4. Amish Grace by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, & David L. Weaver-Zercher
  5. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
  6. Bar Barakah: A Parent's Guide to a Christian Bar Mitzvah by Craig Hill
  7. Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovan
  8. Contemplation in a World of Action by Thomas Merton
  9. Controlled Chaos: Making Sense of Junior High Ministry by Kurt Johnston
  10. Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
  11. Daily Seedings by Ivan Q. Spencer
  12. Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
  13. Freedom Behind Bars by Charles Colson
  14. God's Politics by Jim Wallis
  15. Hunger for Healing: The 12 Steps as a Classic Model for Christian Spiritual Growth by J. Keith Miller
  16. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  17. John Calvin: Father of Reformed Theology
  18. Just Walk Across The Room by Bill Hybles
  19. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
  20. Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic
  21. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  22. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive & Others Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
  23. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition by Christine D. Pohl
  24. Making Sense of Church by Spencer Burke
  25. Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (Reading to my daughters, OK! lol!)
  26. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  27. Radical Grace: Daily Meditations by Richard Rohr
  28. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
  29. Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
  30. Simplicity by Richard Rohr
  31. Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef
  32. Spiritual Classics by Richard Foster
  33. Suffering Loss by Stacy Cline
  34. Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
  35. The Art of Conversation by Catherine Blyth
  36. The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus
  37. The Land of Far Beyond by Enid Blyton
  38. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
  39. The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  40. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
  41. The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
  42. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
  43. The Rule of Saint Benedict by St. Benedict, Edited by Timothy Fry
  44. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  45. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
  46. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  47. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  48. Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens & Jenny Hwang
  49. Wired for Intimacy by William M. Struthers