Friday, February 27, 2009

Lenten 40: annointed feet

i've always like the story of Jesus reclining at the house of Lazarus. he is there with his disciples are enjoying a nice meal served by Martha. Lazarus, still in awe after his recent death and all, has invited them over... i imagine this meal was a small token of gratitude to the one who restored his life. This story (found in John 12:1-8) really gets interesting when Mary anoints and massages her Master Jesus' feet. Judas realizes the cost of the expensive perfume that Mary used and plays a trump card of sorts. "we could have sold that perfume and fed the poor!." who knows what Judas Iscariot's real intentions were. after all, he was the guy holding the money bag for the disciples anyway. maybe he just couldn't stand to see such value go to 'waste'.

But Jesus doesn't view it as waste at all. He views it as sacrifice... as honoring. as a sign of her great love for her Messiah. "you will always have the poor but you will not always have me." Jesus says.

What? serve the poor? yeah... put that on the back burner for now, he says.

Later on, a few days later, actually, the disciples get in to a bit of a dispute. I can hear Peter saying "Shirley, i would never abandon Jesus." "Nor would I!" said the others. "I am the greatest." No, it's me." i can imagine the guys puffing themselves up, gloating about all of the good deeds they have done... thinking the Jesus was surely impressed by them.

Jesus corrects them. "But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves." (Luke 22:26)

Check out what else he says: "For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones..." (Luke 22:27-29)

Quite a dichotomy here. a servant king? a kingdom based on service... based on childlike faith... based on humility and awareness.

Mary was aware of her Master's need to be served and thus set the tone. She served Him and honored him even when it seemed like it would have been better to sell that fine fragrance and give the money to the poor. Here's the thing, it is that willingness to be with Jesus and to tend to that relationship that then empowers us as disciples and followers of Christ to go out and serve the poor and the oppressed and the needy and the weary.

Attending to our relationship with Christ is #1, above all. experiencing that love from Him compels us to do great and mighty things in the most humble of ways.

Love compels.

Mary's love compelled her to sacrifice.

Jesus' love compelled him to sacrifice.

that love is exemplified through service.

You can't separate sacrifice and service.

If your relationship with Jesus isn't right, how can we possibly truly encompass what it means to serve? Let's be honest... that is a difficult value system to live in the midst of. But Jesus seems to be telling his disciples - both then and now - that there is no other way.

"The church then, both washes the feet of Christ and wipes them with her hair, and anoints them with oil, and pours ointment upon them, because not only does she care for the wounded and cherish the weary, but also sprinkles them with the sweet odor of grace; and pours forth the same grace not only on the rich and powerful, but also on men of lowly estate. She weighs all with equal balance, gathers all in the same bosom, and cherishes them in the same lap.

Christ died once and was buried once, and nevertheless He wills that ointment should daily be poured on His feet. What then are those feet of Christ on which we pour ointment? The feet of Christ are they of whom He himself says; 'What ye have done to one of the least of these, ye have done to me.'" ~ from Letter 41; Saint Ambrose (as quoted in The Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God)

posted @ Starbucks @ Washington Square while listening to the Appleseed Cast

Here Comes Everybody

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
my link Jonny Baker blogged about this book and recommened it... it seemed interesting so i went to and read a preview of the first chapter. i liked it so I ordered it.

There were sections of this book that were very interesting to me and others that were hard to grab on to. the most positive thing that i took from this book was seeing how practical it is becoming for people to collaborate without the formality of an organization. Most of the examples stem from internet based options where people have or are working together to create, modify or maintain useful and helpful programs.

Shirky has definitely done his homework. Telling a meaningful story and relating it the power of organizing is his strong suit in this book. The opening chapter was captivating. Who knew a story about a lost cell phone could be so interesting.

Other chapters talked about leaderless, collaborative organized groups on the internet like Flickr, LiveJournal, Meetup, etc. The chapter on the inception of Wikipedia - it's failures and it's success were particularly interesting.

Here comes Everybody was in ways empowering because it displays the low cost of failure in the right type of setting. Those failures generally lead to future success.

I enjoyed most of this book.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lenten 40: the beginning

40. it's a significant number throughout the bible.
the great flood lasted 40 days/nights.
Moses was on the Mt. Sinai in the presence of God for 40 days/nights.
Elijah spent 40 days fleeing from Ahab, but found God in the process.
Jonah preached in Nineveh, within 40 days the people repented; Jonah lamented.
Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness alone and was tempted.
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples over a period of 40 days.

40. it's also the number of days (not counting Sundays) for which we celebrate the season of lent.

Ash Wednesday was yesterday and the lenten season has now begun a new... this time symbolizes where we 'roughly bump up against our own mortality.' (Rueben Job) This parallels Jesus' time in the desert where he fasted and was hungry and was then tempted by the evil one. This test of Jesus' humanity is essential for us who are/were/will be saved through his sacrifice on the cross. He had to be fully human and yet fully God for us to fully connect the dots between his pain and suffering and our sinful nature (and thus - a need to be saved from it)

for 40 days in the desert, Jesus sacrificed - so that he would be prepared for what was to come. the 40 days of Lent is our time to connect with that sacrifice. (Matt. 4:1-11)

Some choose to give up something of worth over this time while others may choose to add something to their life during this period leading up to Holy week. Whatever you choose to do - may it bring you a deeper understanding of God's love for us all - through the eventual sacrifice of His son Jesus - so that we may experience life to the full. (John 10:10)

Si Smith has created a series of illustrations (as well as a short movie available for download at Proost) simply titled 40. the drawings depict the 40 days Christ spent in the desert alone. mayBE has posted the entire series. Check it out. Day one shows Jesus closing up his carpenter shop and preparing for the journey ahead.

[view Day 1 illustration]

Jesus... standing there giving up the life he had known for 30 years... walking away into the desert... about to embark on the toughest challenge his life had yet to face.... giving up his livelihood, so that all may have the potential to experience true love, compassion, healing, restoration and wholeness.

and so it begins.


note: it is my goal to post regularly about this lenten season. i plan on reflecting about Jesus and his time in the desert. I am also using A Guide To Prayer for All Who Seek God as a soft guide during this time. We'll see what insights are gained as a result.

for insights gathered during the Lenten season 2 years ago, check out Lenten Hobo.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jesus Wants to Save Christians (a very llong review of said book)

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've enjoyed Rob Bell's previous books as well as what he does with Nooma, so it comes at no surprise that i enjoyed Jesus Wants To Save Christians. Bell and co-author Don Golden paint a nice picture of the dysfunctional first family found in Genesis and about how God provided a 'better way'.

Compare that with the story of Exodus, the story of those opposed to Jesus and the story of today's 'church'; God has been, throughout the history of our existence, showing us a better way... and time after time we have rejected His message and done our own thing, albeit often in the name of God and under the guise of 'Christianity'.
This book builds upon itself and it doesn't take long for the reader to figure out that Bell and Golden are pointing fingers. Some will take offense to it. Some will reject it without even reading it. Some would possibly even read it but think that it is about someone else.

The fact is Bell and Golden are calling the church out, in not-so-subtle ways. Frankly, it was a message worth sharing... a message that the church globally (at least the church domestically in America) needs to digest.

*Spoiler Alert*

If we go back to Sinai, God made a covenant with the people. Ever since, mankind has chosen other lovers. The Israelites were brought out of slavery and into freedom... yet, again and again everything falls apart and they cry out for help... stuck in exile... oppressed and hurting. Egypt repeats. We were born into this same slavery... it may not be the Egyptians enslaving us... it may be sin, greed, violence, death. But God provided 'a way'

Bell and Golden connect the dots between Israel's slavery and the need for a savior, for one and all.
from chapter two:
"What began as hope for a Jewish leader for Jewish people needing an exodis from exile in Babylon evolved over time into the expectation of a leader who would be for everybody."
Hope for a particular group of people turned into a hope for all.

This leads to a discussion in chapter 3 in which Power and Leadership and connected with Serving and Humility - found in Jesus Christ. The end result of that kind of power is Compassion, grace and love.
"The misuse of power always leads to the escalation of violence."

"If evil always takes some form of violence, then more violence isn't going to solve anything."

put two and two together and you can see the subtle parallels to some of the actions our country has taken over the past decade. This, will no doubt be a point of contention for many, but i think that in the context of Jesus Wants to Save Christians, things are presented and connections are made. I felt myself inspired instead of fired up.
What i particularly enjoyed was Chapter 5, which reminded me of Nooma 13: Rich. "God bless America? He has." Through story and statistics the idea of the dangers of Empire is presented. I couldn't help thinking - is empire really what God desires? All-to-much we seem to place 'empire' about faith... putting party affiliation 1st, Jesus 2nd. or maybe it's the accumulation of wealth or technology or what have you, being placed ahead of God.

The most gut-wrenching part of the whole book took place on page 136. A story of a youth minister asking the question "i just can't get my students interested in Jesus." Bell's response: How does a 12 year old who has never been hungry, to the point that he/she didn't know where there next meal would come from understand the story of another 12 year old providing fish and bread for thousands of chronically hungry people?

Among other things, this book was an eye opener and my approach to ministry, hopefully will change as a result.

I will admit that i may be considered a fan-boy of sorts... so i am hoping that as things sink in, i will be able to process more what it is that i am taking away from this book.

For too long the church has been missing the point and thus people have been missing out on Jesus. Jesus wants to save us from our distractions, confusions, good intentions, misinterpretations and lack of focus. He wants us like the husband wants his bride. Forever to be in relationship, with love abounding.

We have been given a good gift. This book has reminded me of that gift and hopefully will compel me to share that good gift with others.

View all my reviews.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

25 Albums tht Made Me (with explanation)

on Facebook i was tagged when a friend of mine completed a survey titled 'The 25 Albums that Made Me'. I replied with my own list. I'll explain the reasons i chose the albums that i chose. these aren't necessarily my 25 all time fav. albums, but more albums that had a huge impact on me.


(in no particular order)

1 U2 - The Joshua Tree
probably my all time favorite album. i remember the first time i heard the song With or Without You on the radio sitting in the front seat of a friends car. My sister had this album on cassette and i always seemed to get my hands on it. This opened the door to a passionate love for all things U2. that passion hasn't waned since.
2 The Appleseed Cast - Low Level Owl vol I & II
I can't separate these two albums... they were released two months apart and are virtually one cohesive piece of atmospheric musical bliss when played back to back. i love how every song blends into one. this album opened my eyes to a whole different style of emotion found in lyric and instrumentation.
3 South - From Here On In
I stumbled upon this band when i saw their video for Paint the Silence on MTV2. I found a free download of that song and i was deeply intrigued. I searched and finally found this album and a newfound love for Britpop and British alternative rock was born. I still tend to lean towards music and artists from across the Atlantic... all because of this album. Listening to it is like spending the afternoon in an art museum.
4 Portishead - Roseland Live NYC
Portishead is not the most 'normal' sounding group. Their self-titled second album was my first exposure to them. I loved the eclectic mix of haunting vocals with instrumentation put on wax and then sampled with a DJ. I still have a copy of this Live album on video cassette. I think i am drawn to their different style... not like any music made in America.
5 The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
I had always heard of this album and remember the cheesy album cover with members of the Beach Boys at a petting zoo. I was even familiar with some of the classics on the album (mainly 'Wouldn't It Be Nice'). Probably 5 years ago or so I was watching one of those VH1 specials about the 10 greatest albums of all time. I've always been drawn to lists. I had a collection of Rolling Stone magazines with lists of best albums, songs, guitarists, etc. This VH1 show had Pet Sounds and Sgt. Peppers (by the Beatles) at the top of their list. I was intrigued. I went on a quest to find some of these classic albums and to add them to my collection. After purchasing Pet Sounds and listening to it through, i was blown away. What a musical masterpiece. And reading about the history of this recording made it even more special. It's one for the ages... a must have for any music guru.
6 Johnny Cash - Live at Folsom Prison
Everything about Johnny Cash is rough and tough and full of bravado. At Folsom Prison is unique in that it's a live record and yet it's probably more popular than any studio recording he's released. I've always been drawn to Cash and this album is special because my 5 year old son and my father (God rest his soul) both cherished this recording. Cash's love of the railroad connected me with my father as he loved trains. So does my son. This is a sentimental choice for me.
7 Decoder Ring - Somersault
A soundtrack to an Austrailian film, I stumbled upon this band and album when, for a brief time about three years ago I subscribed to eMusic. I liked the sound, bought the album, and then a few years later, finally saw the film. I subsequently found other albums by Decoder Ring - and enjoy them very much. I think the pursuit of other Decoder Ring recordings furthered my love for 'hard-to-find'/'rarely-heard-of' music. I connect with the rhythms of Decoder Ring.
8 Manic Street Preachers - Everything Must Go
I was in an indie record shop somewhere in Los Angeles in the fall of 1996. I've always loved going to indie shops. This was the kind of shop lots of vintage records that you could spin as well as bargain bin cd's for a dollar. Most of the cd's in that bin were trash - but every once in a while you'd find a gem. I found the single 'A Design For Life' by Manic Street Preachers and bought it strictly based on the album art. I loved the single and did all that I could to track down the entire album. The fact that i discovered this band randomly means a lot. I searched for years for other Manic albums and some have been hard to find here in America. Everything Must Go holds a special place in my heart for many reasons... one being the history behind the album and that it was recorded after one of the Manics, Richey Edwards disappeared, never to be seen again. A few years ago I was trying to track down an import of their 1994 album, The Holy Bible at a local record shop (it was never released in America). I asked the owner if he had any Manic Street Preachers or knew anything about them. He replied "I know one of them is missing."
9 The Prayer Chain - Mercury
A chilling record from start to finish. This album reminds me of my college years and is part of a deep connection of music and friendship with my college buddies. I've often wanted to make a movie with Mercury serving as the soundtrack. Elements of the album are haunting and disoriented. The sound is uniquely it's own. I dream Mercury.
10 Underworld - Second Toughest in the Infants
My love for electronica can be traced back to the film Trainspotting. Underworld contributed a couple of songs for that movie/soundtrack. I liked what i heard; found a copy of the Pearl's Girl EP; loved it and then purchased the album from which that song was on. I like Underworld because their music plays like a soundtrack in my head.
11 Future Sound of London - Dead Cities
At the same record shop in which i found the Manic Street Preachers - A Design For Life single, I found My Kingdom by FSOL. There was something different about the music. It was various sounds meshed together that formed something unique. Dead Cities is a Kaleidoscope of sorts... a wall of sound. I've always been drawn to creative sounds and that is why i love this album. We Have Explosive is a timeless track, the best on the album.
12 Michael W. Smith - The Big Picture
Might seem like a weird choice - but I wore this cassette album out. in the fall of 1986 i went to my first concert ever. MWS and The Big Picture was his most rocking album, as was the concert. I have vivid memories of that show.
13 Amy Grant - Lead Me On
It came out at the height of my Christian music fascination. It was not like other Christian albums. It was not mainstream... and at the time, Christian artists didn't make these kind of albums. I've always liked the fact that it broke barriers.
14 3rd Bass - The Cactus Album
1988-89 was the peak of Rap & Hip hop (in my opinion). The Cactus Album had some really great sampling with some creative MC's. Being that they were one of the few white rappers who could actually rap. For awhile, back then, i had dreams of being an MC like the guys in 3rd Bass. God had other plans for me.
15 The Police - Synchronicity
It was the second cassette i ever had (Michael Jackson - Thriller was the first). Needless to say, Synchronicity got more airplay on my walkman. It was the first album to consume my time.
16 Nirvana - Nevermind
Who can forget the first time they saw Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV? Obviously that album changed things... and grunge became part of the mainstream as a result. Maybe it was the 'i don't care about anything' attitude of Kurt Cobain and maybe it was the timing of it's release (Senior year of high school, beginning of college). I connected with it because it was easy not to care about anything then... the stresses of college made it easy to not care.
17 Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
Progressive rock, Post-rock or whatever you want to call it... Most of Explosions in the Sky is uncategorizable (is that a word?). EITS brings something so unique to the table - their music is all instrumental. I've always love the instrumental track. Their music - and this album is filled with so much raw emotion. I can't explain it. I connect with their songs more than any other band. If i were to be honest, i probably appreciate EITS more than even U2. hard to believe. Seeing them in concert last year was one of the top 10 things that have ever happened to me. (live video)
18 The Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole
After my return from Film School in California, i had been exposed to lots of new sounds. The big beats of The Chemical Brothers was unbelievable. Along with Underworld, The Chemical Brothers were one of my most played artists from the late '90's. That was a pivotal point in my life, leading up to my eventual engagement and marriage.
19 Over the Rhine - The Darkest Night of the Year
A holiday album that can be played year round. The first and last songs (both instrumentals) are bookends to a simplistic, genuine approach to a simplistic, genuine event, the birth of Christ. Those instrumentals draw me in every time.
20 Sixpence None the Richer - This Beautiful Mess
My roommate in college, freshman year, had the first cd by Sixpence None the Richer - so i had many chances to hear them and grew to like them more and more. When This Beautiful Mess came out, it struck a cord with so many. It alternative christian music at its best. It takes me back to seeing them play live many times in the mid '90's. i get chills when i listen to this album even today.
21 Radiohead - OK Computer
I mean seriously.. do i really have to explain the impact this album had on so many? After hearing the first single, Paranoid Android - and it's epic sound scape were captivating. I bought the album at Best Buy and fell in love. Literally. The documentary film Meeting People is Easy makes the album that much more enjoyable. The turmoil of celebrity seemed to make the music all the more emotional. This album is a huge part of me and is still listened to frequently. The climax of Let Down gives me chills every time.
22 DJ Shadow - Endtroducing...
I love the mixing of sounds from many other pieces of music. With Garage Band and other music maker programs, i've often attempted to recreate what DJ Shadow does. I've never been gutsy enough to even attempt to DJ with two turntables and a microphone - but i've often dreamed of it. This was another album that i originally purchased based on the album art alone. What a pleasant surprise. In some ways - i think one of my best attributes is the ability to 'remix' things - meshing together music, video, words or whatever - to a single purpose. This comes in handy in youth ministry and keeps things fresh, i think... sort of a 'remixer' of the Gospel, possibly.
23 Sigur Rós - ( )
The dawn of the message board in the early 2000's led to many discussions on various boards about music. It was easy to be exposed to new things. This is where i heard of Sigur Rós for the first time. i bought ( ) - yeah, that's the name of the album... and was surprised to see virtually no text on the cd of album art. There was no track listing at all. Upon placing the cd in my computer, the song titles came up Untitled 1, Untitled 2, and so on. Listening to the album brought to life another unique sound. The vocals were mostly in 'hopelandic', a made up language - not in the native Icelandic tongue. It's just a beautiful album. It has more meaning to me as it was in heavy rotation around the time that my son, Micah was born. I used songs from this album when i edited together videos of his first days on earth.
24 Led Zeppelin - II
I think most guys from my generation at one point in time get into Classic Rock. Led Zeppelin epitomizes classic rock. Led Zeppelin II is timeless and makes me feel like i was part of generation that preceded me. The instrumental jam during Whole Lot of Love is not like any other classic rock sound. Mody Dick was often played to get us pumped up before a major event in college, although my roommate Steve and I swore that something bad would end up happening if we played it... that song still freaks me out.
25 Rush - Counterparts
Rush has never really received the respect they are certainly due. Counterparts came out my freshman year of college down at Asbury. an upperclassman down the hall listened to them a lot. His name was Brent. I looked up to Brent. A bunch of us then went to see the Counterparts tour live in Cincinnati and it was pretty sweet. I became a huge Rush fan and spend a good amount of time after that seeking out as many Rush cd's as i could find. College is a monumental time for many... this album kick started my time after high school and made me feel connected.

wow. i can't believe i've spent so much time thinking about this and writing this. it was probably overdone... easy for me to do when it comes to something like this.

if you've bothered to read it all - good for you... i hope it wasn't a complete waste of time. hey, if nothing else, this gave me a chance to reminisce. music has always been a big part of my life... now you see why.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Life (is just around the corner)

new life will be upon us soon. ready for the old self to die...

photo by jen beck (her blog)

this photo will be used for a future youth worship gathering in march where (among other things) we will watch this.

songs that compel me

compel |kəmˈpel|
verb ( -pelled , -pelling ) [ trans. ]
force or oblige (someone) to do something : a sense of duty compelled Harry to answer her questions.
bring about (something) by the use of force or pressure : they may compel a witness's attendance at court by issue of a summons.
• poetic/literary drive forcibly : by heav'n's high will compell'd from shore to shore.

last nite my wife went to bed early so i went to bed early, too. she begged me not to turn on the tv in the bedroom... or at least to give her 10 minutes to fall asleep first. i decided to go get my iPod and listen to some music as a precursor to falling asleep.

i put on The Best of Simon & Garfunkel and the entry way to my lucid sleep was nothing short of blissfulness.

i began to think about the songs of old and about how much passion was in them. some of the music these days seems to be nothing but fluff... no substance. i suppose there are plenty of songs throughout the history of modern music that have been shallow... but none-the-less, i lay there in bed last night and i was compelled.

i am not sure what i was or am compelled to do... maybe that'll be worked out. first, i thought i'd list songs old and new that compel me.

Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer
Simon & Garfunkel - The Only Living Boy in New York (thank you to Zach Braff and the film Garden State)
Simon & Garfunkel - Dangling Conversation
Bod Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
Bob Dylan - Only a Pawn in their Game
Bob Dylan - Visions of Johanna
Bob Dylan - Gotta Serve Somebody
The Beatles - Because
The Beatles - Medley at the end of Abbey Road (You Never Give Me Your Money, Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard, Polythene Pam, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, The End, Her Majesty)
The Beatles - You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
Elton John - Tiny Dancer (thank you to Cameron Crowe and that scene in Almost Famous... hearing that song makes you realize that things are going to be alright.)
Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around
Johnny Cash - Sunday Morning Coming Down
Neil Young - Heart of Gold
The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe
The Talking Heads - Take Me to the River
U2 - Bad
U2 - Elvis Presley and America
Radiohead - Gagging Order
Explosions in the Sky - The Only Moment We Were Alone
Elbow - Scattered Blacks and Whites
Keane - Try Again
Travis - Blue Flashing Light
Nada Surf - Always Love
Over the Rhine - Latter Days
Squarepusher - Tommib (thank you to Sophia Coppola and it's use in the film Lost in Translation)
Underworld - Pearl's Girl
Sigur Rós - Untitled 8 (a.k.a. "Popplagið")
The Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye
Sixpence None the Richer - Bleeding
The Sundays - Can't Be Sure
Muse - Unintended

i could go on but i've already wasted to much time this morning.

Friday, February 13, 2009

a world without selfishness...

would be a world without:

drama queens
steroids in baseball
and terrorism
wall street tycoons with 120 million dollar bonuses
plots of deception
drug addiction
unwanted pregnancies
and abortions
western consumerism
ransacked businesses robbed of everything in the middle of the night
the love of money
1,500 calorie fast food burgers
and clogged arteries
empire building
bombs over bagdad
drug smuggling
the suppression of women in 3rd world cultures
and poverty
bloated bellies
a lack of AIDS medicines in Africa
mortgage crisis
stock market crashes
crumbling economies
400 billion dollar profits from oil companies
wanting more and more and more
and thinking i have a right to it
pompous behavior
puffed up status
neglected relationships
so-called christians following political parties over following Jesus
inward church communities expecting 'the lost' to wander in to their sanctuaries
hungry children
homeless men sleeping on park benches
as much guilt
as much pain
as much suffering
this blog post


i could go on... and frankly, you could probably add to the list, too.

i'm not striving to be like Jesus enough. i must strive towards humility and grace... and stop wanting so much.

Monday, February 09, 2009



On Sunday night, January 25, 2009, our very own Student Action Leadership Team (a.k.a. SALT) took charge of the youth meeting. We proceeded to have a "listening party", so to speak. Each of the 9 members of the leadership team picked a song that was meaningful to them. They designed a whole night of Youth Focus around those songs. We had some discussion... some interaction and activity and we discoverd how God was able to speak to us all... through the music, the videos and the lyrics.

Below are some general notes, as well as video clips that helped make up this Listening Party.

Hope you enjoyed it. Leave us a comment below and tell us what you thought!

Song 1: Corey's choice: Brooks and Dunn - Believe (lyrics)

I raise my hands, bow my head
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red
They tell me that there's more to life than just what i can see
Oh i believe

QUESTION: Think about older people in your life who have had a positive impact on your life. What did you learn from them? Why did you look up to them?

Song 2: Rachel's choice: Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten (lyrics)

Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten, yeah

ACTIVITY: Youth were invited to write either a dream or a worry on the dry erase board. After the song, the words were erased... symbolic of God being in control of our hopes, dreams and even our worries.

Song 3: Aaron's choice: P.O.D. - Alive (lyrics)

Everyday is a new day
I'm thankful for
Every breath I take
I won't take you for granted (I won't take you for granted)
So I learn from my mistakes
It's beyond my control
Sometimes it's best to let go
Whatever happens
In this lifetime
So I trust in love (so I trust in love)
You have given me
Peace of mind

Song 4: Sam's choice: Goo Goo Dolls - Better Days (lyrics)

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cuz everyone is forgiven now
Cuz tonight's the night the world begins again

Matthew 1:21 + John 3:16

Song 5: Lacie's Choice: Lenka - The Show (lyrics)


(Created by P.Barr)

Song 6: Megan's choice: Lazlo Bane - Superman (lyrics)

Are you weary? (Matt. 11:28-20)

Desiring a 'full life'? (John 10:10)

How is your soul? (Matt. 16:26)

What is impossible? (Matt. 19:26)

Song 7: Brian's choice: Attack Attack! - Bro, Ashley's Here (lyrics)

Get up, get up, He's calling your name,
You don't have to be something you're not.
Someday came suddenly and now I'm standing here.
Get up, get up, He's calling your name,
You don't have to be something you're not.
Someday came suddenly and now I'm left standing here.

(Created by P.Barr)

Song 8: Katie's choice: Goo Goo Dolls - Before It's To Late (lyrics)

and the risk that might break you
Is the one that would save
A life you dont live is still lost
So stand on the edge with me
Hold back your fear and see
Nothing is real til it's gone

Take a risk... jump. kind of goes along with our theme for 2008/2009... JUMP!

Katie then showed us a clip from the Gilmore Girls that connects with the song played.

QUESTION: What risks might God be calling you to take? How can you share your faith with the world or show it to all?

Katie then had us go out to the gym and form small groups. We then put puzzles together with quotes written on the connected pieces... quotes about 'risk' and 'living life to the full'. Together, each groups individual puzzles then formed Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

The SALT did a great job leading. I hope you gained some new insight as a result of what they taught us. Leave comments below!

The common theme throughout all of these songs seemed to be:


We were reminded of John 10:10... Jesus said "I have come to give you life to the fullest."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

WORSHIP IDEA: Emerging...

[idea derived, inspired from JoelDanielHarris' blog & the Dr. DKS]
Joel had a contest to see who could use this YouTube clip in worship or some other form... here is what we did...


we have a worship service directed towards youth that takes place monthly, called the Breakfast Club.

at our Feb. 1st Breakfast Club the theme was Meltaway. we talked about what we need to do to avoid having our faith ‘melt away’ like snow in 40 degree weather.

get involved in Christian service, tame the tongue, confess, practice sound wisdom, & find and share your faith.

when we find our faith, we have to leave our baggage behind. baggage might be those outside influences that bring unnecessary hurt, anger, fear, etc… Baggage that weighs us down and prevents us from having true faith. We need to dump the baggage, leave the suitcases behind and run toward faith.

when we run towards faith and find God - it is impossible for us to contain our sense of joy and hope.

long story short… o.k. long story, i know, but here is when we got to the EMERGE youtube clip from William Lamson. I showed the clip and talked about how hard it is to contain our faith when we are in tune with God.

it’s like the balloons popping out of the water… they cannot be contained any more… not only do they rise to the surface, but they rise up and float away for all to see. i paralleled this by reminding the students that when they are swimming in a swimming pool, what happens when they try to hold a floaty toy, raft or beach ball underwater… what happens?

eventually the ball or toy will shoot out of the water… it can not be contained for too long.

this is what it looks like when we share our joy and hope and faith rooted in God’s love with others. It can not be contained… not meant to be contained!

one of our ideas that would have gone along with this was to have a 40 gal. tub full of water up on the stage with balloons in the water. we were then going to have a few youth come up and try to hold them under the water.

we secured the balloons, but it proved to be a bigger challenge to get a tub of water… it was possible, but better planning was needed.

none the less, this is how we used ‘Emerge’.

my wife helped me come up with the idea for this.

Tim Beck
Director of Youth Ministry
Christ UMC, Louisville, OH

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Christian Culture Survival Guide: The Misadventures of an Outsider on the Inside [REVIEW]

The Christian Culture Survival Guide: The Misadventures of an Outsider on the Inside The Christian Culture Survival Guide: The Misadventures of an Outsider on the Inside by Matthew Paul Turner

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The cover drew me in from the start. Turner hits the nail on the head. with tongue firmly planted in cheek he calls out the church and it's followers. if you can't take a joke you shouldn't read this book.

although some of the chapters neglected to come to any resolution, in my opinion, the book was entertaining and somewhat inspirational in that i know without a shadow of a doubt of whom i desire NOT to be.

too many in the church follow the church instead of Jesus.

Turner call's them out - but in a nonsensical, fun & humorous way. too bad most of the people he is talking about wouldn't get his 'jokes' anyway.

p.s. the church... and christians... we need to change. no wonder the world thinks we're fools. because we are.

View all my reviews.

Monday, February 02, 2009

XLIII Champions

  • 1st Quarter
    • PIT – Jeff Reed 18 yard field goal, 9:45. Steelers 3–0. Drive: 9 plays, 71 yards, 5:15.
  • 2nd Quarter
    • PIT – Gary Russell 1 yard run (Jeff Reed kick), 14:01. Steelers 10–0. Drive: 11 plays, 69 yards, 7:12.
    • ARI – Ben Patrick 1 yard pass from Kurt Warner (Neil Rackers kick), 8:31. Steelers 10–7. Drive: 9 plays, 83 yards, 5:27.
    • PIT – James Harrison 100 yard interception return (Jeff Reed kick), 0:00. Steelers 17–7.
  • 3rd Quarter
    • PIT – Jeff Reed 21 yard field goal, 2:11. Steelers 20–7. Drive: 16 plays, 79 yards, 8:39.
  • 4th Quarter
    • ARI – Larry Fitzgerald 1 yard pass from Kurt Warner (Neil Rackers kick), 7:33. Steelers 20–14. Drive: 8 plays, 87 yards, 3:57.
    • ARI – Holding penalty on Justin Hartwig in end zone for safety, 2:58. Steelers 20–16.
    • ARI – Larry Fitzgerald 64 yard pass from Kurt Warner (Neil Rackers kick), 2:37. Cardinals 23–20. Drive: 2 plays, 67 yards, 21 seconds.
    • PIT – Santonio Holmes 6 yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick), 0:35. Steelers 27–23. Drive: 8 plays, 78 yards, 2:02.