Tuesday, October 29, 2013

blogging in the dark.

it's not dark yet, but it's getting there.

bob dylan said that.  kind of a cryptic message.  haunting, actually.  but it always gets dark.  everyday.  but the light eventually pierces the blackness.

and a new day dawns.

i started blogging just over 9 years ago.  my first post was the track listing to the new U2 record.  Bono called it "their most personal record." 

753 blog posts later, here we are.  a history.  a diary.  of free-expression.  of hope.  of creativity.  of art.  my art.  in words and pictures.

it's obvious to the few who may have frequented my blog that i have largely neglected it for some time.  not a post since May.  yeah, i have been blogging about discipleship over here and have some random music posts over here, and tweets here.  but fantastic distraction hasn't been such a distraction it once was.  to me or perhaps to you.

i have no regrets.  this is my life for 9 years, on digital paper.  i look back in kindness from time to time.  fond memories.  forgotten diatribes, expressionsand random musings.

it's not dark yet, but it's getting there.  i know.  prevalent neglect.

but the words remain.  they'll always remain... so long as there's electricity.  and energy.  and google.

and for that i am thankful.

and when the darkness comes and goes, a new day will dawn.  and perhaps more words will return.  i don't know - but the archive is here.  for me.  for you.  use it as you please.  or neglect it too.  it's o.k.  sometimes it wasn't about getting others to read the words i wrote - as if i was that important... it was about the expression of self.

i've just found new ways to express thy self.  so have many of you.

until the new day, good evening.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: Do the Work

Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own WayDo the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way by Steven Pressfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

nothing earth shattering in this book - but it was a refreshing reminder of what it takes to get things done... what it takes to make dreams and passions come to fruition. Do The Work is the kind of book that can be read quickly - which is perfect - because it should be read before anyone is about to begin their next big project. Similar to books by Seth Godin, in Do the Work, Steve Pressfield writes a catchy, easy to digest, in your face manifesto for overcoming resistance in order to create something beautiful.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

it's all about perspective

LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas] 

this past November, i led a retreat with the youth group and decided to become intentional about taking a simplified approach. i designed a series of mini sessions with the flexibility of adding to or deleting from any given session at any given time. the retreat was dubbed the Q Retreat. the Q stood for Quest - whereas looking at life's big questions involves a 'quest' of sorts, a journey leading deep into one's very soul.

perhaps the deepest question was this "What does your soul look like?"

Some inspiration for the retreat derived from Rainn Wilson's Soul Pancake website and book. Other ideas came from the power of music (U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For; Katie Herzig - Make a Noise; Mumford & Sons - Awake My Soul etc), images (workisnotajob.com - the artwork gallery), creativity (howies® - life is complicated), film (nameless moment from erwin mcmanus) and scripture (among others: james 4:7-10; john 21:1-14)

discussions ranged from 'How to deal with the unbalance of life' to 'Things we search for' and to 'Things that make life complicated'. At one point the students made a list of 'Life's Biggest Questions.' This, no doubt, was most meaningful and impacting.

After a lengthy discussion on the tough questions of life (why do bad things happen to good people?, how do i know God's calling on my life?, what is my purpose? etc.) i showed this video: (a video made In Association with: the Melbourne Skydive Centre)

Experience Human Flight from InfinityList on Vimeo.
Experience Human Flight from Betty Wants In on Vimeo. [info]
after it completed i said "The next time you get consumed with life's big questions, remember... someone in Australia is skydiving."

in other words: it's all about perspective. for the person experiencing human flight the view is simple yet magnificent... the challenge overwhelming yet exhilarating. basically, God is in control. He enables mankind to do great and mighty things. and some things can make our problems look small... from His perspective, there is a plan and that path leads to full life.  life's problems may seem big - but God is bigger than our questions, our problems & our doubts.

Later, after a discussion on life's big dreams and a challenge for students to 'dream big' i showed this video:

Experience Zero Gravity from InfinityList on Vimeo.
Experience Zero Gravity from Betty Wants In on Vimeo. [info]
after viewing it, i said "the next time you think and feel your dreams are too big to accomplish remember... someone is base jumping in Switzerland."

lastly, at the end of the retreat after a final discussion about how life can become overwhelming and tempt us to go back rather than go forward (see John 21) i showed this video:

I concluded by saying "the next time you let life overwhelm you remember... someone is surfing off the coast of California."

it's all about perspective. form God's POV he's got the everything under control. he's got a plan for one and all and his creation speaks of his power and might and order.

life is complicated - but when we utilize our senses to see, hear, taste, touch and smell all that God has for us, our perspective suddenly simplifies our life - even if for a moment... it's a moment given to us by God himself.

it's all about perspective. sometimes a change of scenery is all we need...

God is good... All the time...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sigur Rós - Glósóli (glowing soul)

LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas] 

Sigur Rós - Glósóli from sigur rós on Vimeo.

(i was listening to iTunes on shuffle this morning and was reminded of this wonderful video)

the video to the Sigur Rós song Glósóli is a captivating piece of art.  
Sigur Rós is an Icelandic band that has a unique style, a unique sound with unique lyrics.  some of their songs are sung by lead singer Jonsi in a sort of made up language often referred to as 'hopelandic.'

the song Glósóli means 'glowing soul'.  
(from Wikipedia:  The name is a combination of gló- from the verb að glóa meaning "to glow, shine, glitter" and sóli meaning "sole." The second element of the name, sóli, shares its grammatical stem with the word "sól", meaning "sun". In combination "glósóli" can be understood as a childish way of saying "glowing sun" or "let the sun glow".)

the song is said to be about a boy who wakes up only to find the sun is gone... the sun has gone dark... so he searches for the sun.  the video creatively shows children on some sort of mission - upon reaching their destination - they take a 'leap of faith' and jump.

i think there are many metaphors that could parallel to youth ministry here.
1.  a search for hope.
2.  taking a leap of faith.
3. trusting that the sun (or Son) is out there to be discovered and enjoyed.
4. the innocence of life
5. a challenge to have a child-liek faith and a glowing soul.
6.  faith in something greater than ones self.
7.  parallels to Jesus gathering 'fishers of men' to follow him.

how might you use this video or song?  

Addendum 1:  I remember stumblign across a blog post in 2007 from Tall Skinny Kiwi (an emergent blogger).  Click HERE to see how they used the video with a series called THE DANGEROUS WORDS OF JESUS.
Addendum 2:  i found THIS youth group that tied in the video to a youth worship service - in which they took a deeper look at each of the characters in the video.  

below is a YouTube upload of the video:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Come to Us or Go to Them?

LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas] 

[from a CMS church planting website in England - but i think it can apply to youth ministry.  what do you think?

This is a movie produced by church from scratch – part of the growing swell of material encouraging churches to shift to an outward focused or missional imagination.

[Church from Scratch describes itself as a "dirt under the finger nails, living faith sort of church with a network of home-based groups."]
It’s certainly a good discussion starter…

They come or we go? from Incarnate Network on Vimeo.

how does this apply to ministry?
in what ways are we too inward focused and not outward focused?
how do we balance our inward/outward focus?
what should our missional approach to youth ministry be?

Friday, May 17, 2013

wall of investment

Fundraising is always a touchy subject in student ministries. I borrowed an idea from Adam Cleaveland and it truly leveraged our budget for several items this past summer.  The idea is fairly simple.  I printed out two sets of envelopes numbered 1 to 100.  Inside the envelope was a response card along with a card that listed out the various items we were trying to fund: summer camp scholarships, vacation bible school, mission trip to AL, etc.
I used a sheet of steel roofing in a wooden frame and magnets to hold/attach the envelopes in sequence.  I cast vision from the front during our announcement time that we would have the Wall up in the cafe for two weeks only.  Members were encouraged to take an envelope for the amount they wanted to donate.  (if you took #45, a check for $45 should be included)  The beauty of compounding takes 200 envelopes, if all are returned and creates $10,100. In our effort we raised $7,000. 
I was clear in the promoting that this was a "special" opportunity and should only be contributed to if it was above and beyond their normal support (we've learned that when special offerings are taken, many times members just shift their giving, which isn't helpful because it creates shortages in the general and building funds).

tom roepke
pastor to students

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

making text meaningful

LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas] 

I used this video to open a message on Ecclesiastes. Using visuals along with the Scripture helped the students connect with the poetic nature of the text. It wouldn't be too hard to make your own version of this using other Scriptures. If understanding a text is what is important in your message, and it is difficult to understand or interact by hearing alone, we need to find ways to make text stand out. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

move. eat. learn.

LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas] 

What is your calling in life?

here are three great videos from Rick Mereki - an Austrailian film maker.  these short 1 minute films were used for an Australian travel agency.  but they are brilliant and creative.  i used them as part of a youth worship service on 'Understanding Your Calling' (becoming the person God called you to be). 

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

how can we know our calling if we stand still?

EAT from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

embracing + consuming the life God gives you is part of your calling.

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

willingness to learn new things will help you connect with God's purpose for your life.

i also tied in the Bethany Hamilton story from I Am Second.
you don't have to be perfect in order for God to use you - in order to fulfill your calling, etc.

scripture references:  1 Peter 2:4-10 (the message); the story of Josiah; Revelation 2:17

also used insight for designing this service from Grace - a fresh faith fellowship in London (titled The Becoming, Sept 2011)  [i adapted it for youth]
and from Jonny Baker (you've arrived / you've not arrived)


Sunday, May 12, 2013


LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas]


White Owl (full lyrics) - a powerful animated video by folk musician Josh Garrels

carry visions from above into the places no man dares to follow
Every hollow in the dark of night
Waiting for the light
Take the flame tonight

Like a messenger of peace, the beauty waits be released
Upon the sacred path you keep, leading deeper into the unveiling
As your sailing, across the great divide


possible themes:
journey; purpose; carrying the light of Christ into a dark world; learning to trust; learning to rely on God

what themes do you find within this video?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

free fall

LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas] 

Free Fall from Prolifik on Vimeo.


a great video telling the story of creation and the fall of man.
painting by Scott Erickson.  (anyone who has been to NYWC or DCLA will recognize Scott's work)

for more info or to purchase an HD digital download of this film - check out Prolifik Films

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

television is a drug.

LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas]
Television is a drug. from Beth Fulton on Vimeo.

This an amusing video about our addictions to technology - notably television. it's rather funny and catchy... will definately hold a teenagers attention. This could be used as part of a lesson or talk on priorities, unplugging, time management, slowing down to recognize God's presence, etc.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

We Are None of Us Alone (VIDEO)

LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas] 
(original concept blogged in Dec. 2007)

We Are None of Us Alone from Tim Beck on Vimeo.

an ancient proverb.

We are none of us alone.
Even as we exhale, it is inhaled by others.
The light that shines upon me, shines upon my neighbor as well.
In this way, everything is connected to everything else.
In this way, I am connected to my friend even as I am connected to my enemy.
In this way,there is no difference between me, and my friend.
In this way, there is no difference between me, and my enemy.
We are none of us alone.

[i created this for a youth worship service with the theme of 'baggage'.  i used the video to help students understand that they are not alone.  that when they walk with Christ together - they are connected... the joy and the pain is shared by all - and we can give our burdens over to Jesus.  we don't have to go it alone.  side note:  this idea was originally inspired by a Dec. 2007 episode of the television show LIFE - which enjoyed a brief 2 year run on NBC]

Monday, February 25, 2013

Scared to Death

[LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas] 

it's a simple video about one of the most dangerous jobs in the world:  guys who climb thousands of feet to repair radio antennas.  yes, the video is a bit long (7 min. 27 sec) but i felt intrigued the whole time.  the POV camera mounted on the helmet of the repair man made me feel like i was climbing thousands of feet above the ground.  i nearly lost my stomach a few times.  

this video might work well with a lesson on FEAR or RISK or PERSPECTIVE or STRESS.  things could always be worse!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

the beauty of a second

[LOST BLOGGER ENTRIES: a series of ministry and worship related blog posts ideas]

The Beauty Of a Second - 3rd round compilation (Instant Bliss) from The Beauty Of A Second on Vimeo.

The Beauty Of a Second - 2nd round compilation from The Beauty Of A Second on Vimeo.

Every Second Counts!

thee videos are unique and creative.  they could be used as a tie in to a discussion on making every second count or on the beauty of life.  Luke 12:27 comes to mind as well: "consider the lilies..."

art is beautiful because life is beautiful.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book Review: The Narky Nazarene

The Narky NazareneThe Narky Nazarene by Nathanael Gillett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

99 cents via the Kindle. very interesting... a series of short essays and stories about Jesus and his 'narkyness'

i really enjoyed this book. it's easy to read and very thought provoking. it's a series of 72 essays, anecdotes, stories, pictures and challenges.

I think this book would serve as a great discussion starter for any group that wanted to grow deeper in their faith walk. i would hope it might also compel readers to action. i am eager to share this book with others, so that we might discuss it and live it.

it's super simple. super easy. short segments make for easy reading and re-reading. a great book that is worth your time.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 01, 2013

Book Review: The Icarus Deception

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

if you've read anything by Seth Godin, you'll no doubt appreciate this new book, The Icarus Deception.  If you're not familiar with him, this book would be a great start.  this book is about the art of creating something of value - something new that matters.

i really appreciated part five:  To Make Art, Think like an Artist.  To Connect, Be Human.  This is a book that many would think is for anyone working or living in the business world - but there are so many usable parallels to what Seth is writing about in this book, especially in Part Five, that is practical on so many levels, no matter what you do or aspire to do.  I like the connection between making good art - and thusly connecting with others as a result.

I highly recommend this book.  I underlined a lot and took a lot of notes.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

best of 2012

the way i listen to music has changed.  to be honest, with the addition of Spotify (and now Spotify Premium) to my listening habits, as well as SiriusXM and even internet radio, my music consumption has changed.

i don't think i purchased as much music this year - at least not from iTunes - although i did purchase some via Amazon.com, much of what i listened to this year was via Spotify.  I'd routinely use the Shazaam app on my iPhone to 'tag' certain songs that i liked and heard on SiriusXM, then i'd build playlists of said songs in Spotify or on iTunes.

On SiriusXM, most of my listening consisted of channels 33, 34, 35 & 36.  (33 is New Wave; 34 is Lithium - grundge from the 90's; while 35 is XMU - indie rock and 36 is Alt nation).  XMU fulfilled the majority of my music time this year (or at least since April, when we got 6 months free of SiriusXM)

So i listened to a lot of new music this year - but out of that, i'd say that i listened to more singles than albums.  But none-the-less, here is a list of my favorite albums of 2012 - in no particular order.

Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
Metric - Synthetica
Bear in Heaven - I Love You, It's Cool
Grizzly Bear - Shields
Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory
The XX - Coexist
Mumford & Sons - Babel
The Lumineers - s/t
DIIV - Oshin
Tame Impala - Lonerism
Loscil - Sketches from New Brighton
Sola-Mi - Nexus
Josh Garrels - Love & War: B-Sides & Rarities
Dum Dum Girls - End of Daze
Beach House - Bloom
Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

Here are some great singles from 2012:
Purity Ring – Fineshrine
Silversun Pickups – The Pit
Passion Pit – Take A Walk
Of Monsters And Men – Mountain Sound
Mumford & Sons – Lover of the Light
Grimes – Oblivion
alt-J – Fitzpleasure
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti – Only In My Dreams
Atoms For Peace – Default
Beach Fossils – Shallow
Beach House – Wild
Django Django – Default
Dan Croll – From Nowhere
Dum Dum Girls – Lord Knows
First Aid Kit – Emmylou
Royal Teeth – Wild
Japandroids – Adrenaline Nightshift
Muse – Survival
Grizzly Bear – Yet Again
Santigold – Disparate Youth
Imagine Dragons – It's Time
Lord Huron – Time To Run
The Chevin – Champion
Blondfire – Where The Kids Are
White Rabbits – Heavy Metal
Wild Nothing – Shadow
Pinback – Proceed to Memory
Youngblood Hawke – We Come Running
Metz – Sad Pricks
Metric – Youth Without Youth
Bear In Heaven – The Reflection Of You