Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Love Mr. Rogers

Grace and I watch Mr. Rogers in the morning. The guy is awesome. I watched him when I was a kid and now Grace is watching the same thing. Learning about sharing, kindness, what to do when you are angry, feelings, exercise, identity, pretend vs. real, and how things are made. The man was a genius. He was a minister before he started in TV and you can see the fingerprints of Jesus all over his show.

Who else loves the man who changes shoes and sweaters every day?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

14 Years

This January 1st will mark the date that I have been a youth pastor for 14 years. Wow! That's a long time. Being a youth pastor is a wonderful thing. It's crazy how much of my identity is in that role. It's weird to know that I have been in youth ministry longer than some of my students have been alive. I was an intern for about a year before this too so I have been in youth ministry for about 15 years. Just thinking...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Strength Themes

I have done the Strengthfinders test from Now Discover Your Strengths or Living Your Strengths a couple times now. We have been discussing them with our VP3 group at church lately. Here are mine:
Responsibility - this means I feel a deep sense of ownership in the things I do and I feel personally responsible for making things happen.
Significance - this means I want to feel significant in what I do and that I want to do things that have significant meaning. It also has a dark side of needing to be significant or feel important.
Belief - this is where I have to do things that I feel a strong sense of calling about. I have to believe in something for me to succeed in it.
Maximizer - this means I'm gifted at taking something good and making it great rather than starting something new or rescuing something that is in the dumps.
Relator - this means I connect really well with a smaller group of people, but I'm not as good at working the room or talking to people I don't know.

We had a good time yesterday seeing what each others strengths were and how we all relate to each other through them. Who shares strengths? Who has strengths that no one else has?

What are your strengths? What do you think of mine? Agree/Disagree?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Service Sunday

Today is what we call a One Service Sunday at Calvary Church. We cancel all children's, youth, and adult Sunday School classes and have everybody in the big Worship Center for one service at 9:30am. I don't have any responsibilities in today's service. I will show up a bit early and Bea and I will do some greeting, but other than that I am a "normal" church-goer.

I love that I am still sitting on my couch in my pajamas at almost 8:00am.

It's been good to have a restful few days. I feel like this is going to be a big week or two coming up at church.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Headed to Simi

We are leaving tonight to Bea's parents for Thanksgiving. We are going to hang out there until Saturday night. I'm looking forward to just relaxing and chatting and watching football. The boys are going golfing on Saturday which should be really fun. It took Kevin and Michelle 4 hours to get to Simi Valley today when they left at 2:45pm when it normally only takes a bit over an hour. Hopefully leaving at 8pm should be better.

We switch off every other year which family we go to for Thanksgiving. My family does crazy stuff and spends Thanksgiving in Joshua Tree. We eat the whole meal outside after bringing it in containers that keep food warm. We scramble around on the rocks. We have a spot where we know some caves to go spelunking in. Then we make a campfire and everyone smokes a cigar around the fire - even the ladies. It's pretty awesome but totally different. So I also love going to Bea's house where it's the super traditional meal around the table and we all watch football and hang out at the house all day. It's a pretty good arrangement.

Monday, November 19, 2007

On My Own

Yesterday at about 1:00pm my lovely wife, Bea, left for a Lutheran Teacher Conference in Palm Springs for three days. She gets home on Tuesday evening. We had our small group last night which was cool but I was nervous about trying to manage the kids and lead the small group. But Kevin and Michelle come to our small group and so they helped out a ton with the kids.

I'm taking the next couple days off work to just hang out with my sweet daughters. It's funny because I know how to take care of my kids and I love being with them, but I had this mild sense of foreboding as these days were coming.

My biggest fear - doing Grace's hair. She isn't going to look as cute as normal.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Ultimate Date Night

Tomorrow night will be an amazing date night for Bea and me. I can't wait. Kevin and Michelle will be watching the kids overnight. We are having dinner at Pizzeria Mozza in LA which is an incredibly delicious and fun restaurant owned by Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton. I had the best bread and caprese salad of my life there. Then we are heading to see Wicked with decent orchestra level seats. After that we are staying at the Renaissance Hollywood and Highland Hotel and enjoying some Hollywood nightlife there. Then we will have a nice breakfast at the hotel and hang out and shop in LA for the day. We don't have to be home until late afternoon on Saturday.

It's going to be amazing!! Thanks Kevin and Michelle. You rock!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dan in Real Life

Bea and I had a wonderful date night last night where we had a nice dinner and then we went to the movies for the first time in FOREVER. We went to Dan in Real Life because it looked good, Bea didn't want to see American Gangster, and Randy wrote a great review of the film. We didn't know much about the movie ahead of time. We just knew it had Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, and Dane Cook. We thought it would be indie style, but on the lighter side.

We were wrong.

I literally had tears streaming down my cheeks during this film. Without giving too much away, it's a story of a man with three daughters whose wife died four years earlier. They are at a big family reunion of sorts and an awkward love story ensues. Anything that has to do with daughters ruins me because I love my girls so much.

It was fun to watch their family interact. I want to be a family like that. They were honest and fun. They played charades, took walks, played football, ate big meals together, and went bowling.

This was a great film, but don't think of it as a comedy. It's a crying movie.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on God Bless America

I've been thinking about this and I think the biggest thing for me is that in a church service we have opportunities to teach our people something. To teach them a different point of view than what is our default setting as people who live within our western culture. To just thank veterans for fighting for America and say "God Bless America" at the end is not teaching something new to our people. To pray for those fighting because we don't want to see anyone hurt is one step. To say thank you for fighting because now we have religious freedoms is one step, but still obvious. To thank our veterans by praying for those in persecuted nations is good too. But I just thought that putting "God Bless America" at the end just keeps people thinking the same way. To put at the end, "God Bless the Nations" or "God Bless the Whole World" would have taught something that if we are fighting these current wars for democracy around the world would be something our nation should hope for - secular or Christian.

To copy Matt Doan, my prayer for this is:
Thank you God for blessing America in so many ways
Please help us to be a blessing to the world
Please keep the soldiers safe
Please help peace to come to our world

Sunday, November 11, 2007

God Bless America

This past week we were going to show a video for Veteran's Day in church to honor those who have fought for our country. In the past, I have struggled with displays of honoring America during church. But I thought this was going to be really good because Sunday was actually Veteran's Day and also the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. So what we were going to do was show a video honoring vets and then pray thanking God for them and acknowledging that without their sacrifice we might be like one of the persecuted countries. Then we would spend some time praying for those who are persecuted for their faith. (I'm typing this before church so I'm not saying how it went, just what we were going to do).

At the end of the video for veterans it said, "God bless America." I raised my hand and asked if we could change some of the wording to be more about thanking veterans for allowing us to have the religious freedom that we have. I also said, "Could we take out 'God bless America' too because I don't understand it. Don't we want God to bless the world?" People don't understand me sometimes and I think most disagreed with me, but they thought it would be ok to take that out. I just saw the edited version this morning and it still says, "God Bless America" at the end. Oh well. People don't understand me. But I would rather sing and pray that God blesses the nations and that God blesses the oppressed, the hungry, the diseases, the less fortunate, the persecuted, and the hopeless of all nations rather than just saying "God bless America."

Trevor said to me that by saying "God bless America" we are not saying "and forget about everyone else." That has some merit. I do pray for God to bless my family and my children and my ministry, but I'm not praying for God to curse other families or churches. But I still just think there is so much American Pride in evangelicalism that it gets confusing to people. We should be focused on our purpose of loving God through loving people...all people...not just Americans.

Preaching Today

I'm preaching today in Elevation on 2 Samuel 7. Pray for me if you think of it. The service is from 10:45-12noon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Still at ASF, Wanna Join Me?

I'm still volunteering at AIDS Services Foundation (ASF). It's such an interesting place that is doing so much good to help people who are suffering from a horrible disease and who also are low-income/poverty level. The people who work at ASF only have their image of God-ness that is within all humans to motivate them to help those afflicted with HIV/AIDS. It continues to be fascinating in a tragic sort of way that more Christians aren't volunteering at this place and helping to make an impact in a part of the world that needs Christ so badly.

We all have parts of the world that we are called to impact. I don't like when people say that "everyone" should help in something. I have friends who have an Orphan Care Ministry, friends who work at a homeless shelter, friends who work with inner city kids, and friends who build playgrounds across the world. All these are good. A pet peeve of mine is when someone claims that their ministry is the most worthwhile. So that's not what I mean.

What I mean is this: If you feel called to make an impact in the world for Christ, do something. Anything. Just don't sit around and watch TV and that's it. I love my TV shows, but I feel the need to get out there. If you feel called to impact a place that isn't comfortable with the message of Jesus and has people who are poor, sick, and lost, then come join me at ASF.

Click here to volunteer with the Orange County AIDS Services Foundation.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ninja Turtle Mask

Last night a Jr High had a superhero theme and I was wearing a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask covering my whole head. It was fun to walk around and have nobody know who you are. I would walk up to people and not say anything and it would freak them out. They would all say, "Who is that? Who are you?" I would just walk away, but some would guess or get me to laugh and then they would know. It was funny.

Then we rocked out and led worship. Here is a classic Jr High worship moment.

We played a few really loud songs with a ton of energy. The third one was My Glorious and at the end we dropped all the instruments out and we backed off the microphones and all the kids are singing the awesome chorus, "God is bigger than the air I breathe, the world we'll leave, and God will save the day and all will say, My Glorious." In the middle of that sweet moment we had been working towards, the Jr High tech helper accidentally hits the play button on the CD player and the Rocky theme song, "Eye of the Tiger," starts playing real loud throughout the whole room. Let's just say that it broke the mood but it's still something I love about Jr High.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

So Tired

I have felt like my eyes have been super heavy all week and at any moment I could lay down and sleep. Last week was pretty crazy and I think my body is just tired out from it and Ella has been waking up a bit lately in the middle of the night (I'm not complaining though because Bea goes in to get her back to sleep about 95% of the time).

I preach again in Elevation this Sunday and I'm looking forward to it, but it's weird when the last Sunday was so awesome that it takes some effort to get pumped up for this weekend. It's a different focus of a message with God saying no to David about building the temple, but then God says that He will build a house for David. I am also leading worship tonight for Jr High for their BARF Night which is an outreach focused Wednesday night. We are going to rock hard!

I have a lot on my mind with waiting for a response about the house, wanting Moses back soon, thinking about my sermon, thinking creatively about vision and branding for the church, waiting for decisions to be made about the consultant process, and then dealing with some volunteer staff issues at church.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So far, So good

It's been a good day so far. I was pretty nervous about today. I didn't feel as prepared for preaching in Elevation and teaching at our staff meeting than I would have liked to be. But I got to church really early this morning and spent about two hours tightening things up and finishing some stuff that I couldn't get done during the week with all the meetings I was in.

I thought Elevation was amazing today. We talked about 2 Samuel 6 which is the passage where David dances in an "undignified" way before the Lord. I felt like I was really able to "preach it" today and I enjoyed being on stage. There were tearful moments, funny moments, and "gospel preacher" moments. Until I listen to it I'm not sure how my clarity, flow, or delivery was, but I like that the crowd (and myself) were laughing, crying, clapping, and passionately worshiping.

It was a strange morning in a vocabulary sense. Victor said from stage that he felt like he was "on crack" because he was so hyper. Then Dave quoted a lady from the fire relief crew that said "Does it look like I know what the hell I'm doing?" I actually liked it.

Then the staff meeting with a seminar on how to do youth counseling went really well. I'm proud that we are equipping our staff with how to minister to their kids. I was a little disappointed that only about 60% of our staff was there. It must have been the Patriots/Colts game. They should have DVR'd it like I did. I'm watching it now. 4 minutes left with the Colts winning 20-17. GO COLTS!! Hold on.

Big Day

I'm about to leave the house at 5:55am. It's a huge day for me.

1. We have a Combo Service with JH, HS, and College at 8:45
2. I am preaching in Elevation at 10:45
3. I am leading an all volunteer staff meeting on "Restore the Hurting" or counseling youth at 12:15
4. I am hosting and facilitating our small group at 6:00.

Aaaagggghhhhh!!!! Too much. I don't like it. After today I will be feeling better for next week even with preaching again.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm So Happy I Could Cry

I just found out last night that when we get into our new house that I get to have Moses back. He has been staying at the Campbell family's home. They are great people from Calvary and have taken care of him for a year. I literally wept when I had to give him up and I'm so excited that I get to have him back soon.

I love you Moses. I will see you soon.