Check out YSMarko’s post on creative ways to decorate your office. These would be so much fun to do to a coworker.
Check out YSMarko’s post on creative ways to decorate your office. These would be so much fun to do to a coworker.
I have been busy the last two weekends at home. We have painted two of the kids bedrooms and I have just finished a big project. We tore out the carpet in Luke’s new room and installed a hardwood floor. I rented a big pneumatic floor nailer and spent all weekend on my hands and knees nailing the floor. I think it turned out great. There are some pics below of the new floor. We bought the flooring from WoodPlus in town and got a great deal. I’m sore all over but it was worth it.
I was at my favorite bookstore, Master’s Loft, in Winston-Salem over the weekend. I love the store, not just because of the free wifi and good coffee and deserts, but because they have a great selection of both new and classic Christian books and music. I also like the live music they host every weekend. As I was walking through the store, a new book by Phil Vischer caught my eye, Me, Myself, & Bob. I had previously posted about the downward spiral and bankruptcy of Big Ideas, the parent company of Veggietales. This book looks like an in-depth look at all the details.
I also bought two books I hope to read and review soon.
The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus, Pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles. I have listed to his podcast for a long time now. I love his passion, his vision, and the way he speaks to your soul.
The other book is The Truth About Spiritual Warfare: Your Place in the Battle Between God And Satan by the late Dr. Mark Corts. Dr. Corts had an incredible influence on my life. I had just graduated college, got married to Jennifer, moved to a new city, and taken a job as a crash test engineer in Winston-Salem, when I stumbled on Calvary Baptist Church. We loved it from the first visit. Dr. Corts had a great way of explaining Biblical truth. We ended up only living there for a year, but in that time I felt like a sponge, just soaking up truth as fast as I could. From the great messages on Sunday morning, to a Sunday School class in which I had the freedom to ask difficult questions and learn, to Sunday night messages by Gary Chapman, the Senior Associate Pastor and the writer of The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, from all those experiences, I grew as a Christ follower and my commitment to serving Christ was solidified. I truly believe that God placed me there in that job for the purpose of preparing me for ministry. From time to time, I still go back and visit. I view Calvary similar to the stone altar at the Jordan River for the Israelites. I look back and remember how God has worked in my life.
Dare2Share has come up with a list of predictions. These are interesting to think about. We must constantly reflect on the methods we are using the present the unchanging message. I’m starting to feel old in Youth Ministry because I have seen so many changes in the last ten years in youth culture. I never thought I would get to the point where I’m constantly thinking “back in my day …” But I find myself thinking about how different culture was when I was a teen. No internet, no cell phones, no instant messaging. Teens live today in a world where they are super connected through technology, but relationally disconnected.
For Youth Ministers, think about these things, and think about how your ministry will address the changing culture of your students. We all need to understand the world our teens live in.
The New Year prompted international youth ministry Dare2Share to assemble the top five teen predictions to watch for in 2007. The Dare2Share team predicted the following adolescent trends for the new year:
1. There will be an increase of teen volunteers or new programs for community involvement managed entirely online.
Teens will continue to be a generation that is a study in contradictions, i.e. being involved in the community while isolated in their bedroom. You will see them exhibit unapologetic self-righteousness, then flip the switch and be a paragon of tolerance. Teens today are moving in a direction that is comfortable with conflicting worldviews. For example, they will spend time and resources on “me” items (ipods, downloads, games, etc.), and at the same time spend time and resources giving back to the community and others around them. They exhibit strong individualism AND communal-ism (Everything today is customized, but teens want to be part of a community too).
2. Major media production houses will follow the lead of Christian production companies and begin to include spiritual elements to their releases.
This is a generation that increasingly responds to faith-based marketing like the Christian productions of Amazing Grace, Left Behind video games, etc. Sales and stats are showing a rising popularity among teens to explore spiritual themes. Companies and businesses are responding to this with a variety of options for this generation and in 2007, more movies, TV shows, and video games will be released with spiritual or faith based elements in them – specifically targeted to the teen audience.
3. Teens will increasingly individualize their beliefs
This is a generation that embraces a “Starbucks” spirituality. Teens today are used to customizing every aspect of their life, so why wouldn’t this spill over into the area of spiritual beliefs? When forming their opinions about faith-based matters, picture most 13-18 year olds ordering up a Grande Carmel-Kabbalah latte with a dash of Buddhism and a Hindu Krishna cookie on the side.
4. Student-led campaigns will be created to raise awareness of social justice issues.
This generation is already known as a generation that is drawn to community relationships and activism. From the Gap/Bono iPod for Aids relief, to the uber success of myspace.com, it is obvious that teens today are tribal and feel a strong need to make a difference in the world. They really do exhibit a “think globally, act locally” attitude with the addition of global concerns as well. It wouldn’t surprise us to see students create campaigns that raise awareness of child prostitution in Asia or orphaned kid soldiers in Sierra Leone.
5. Students will no longer see value in formal education as much as street education.
This is a generation of “what have you done for me lately?” teens. Much like the young people of the 1960’s, these adolescents do not have an inherent respect for titles and/or positions. Yet unlike the Woodstock folks, they generally aren’t actively anti-establishment. What registers with them is personal authenticity and passion about life regardless of background, education, or societal “rank.” Formal universities and seminaries are going to have their work cut out for them to keep teens engaged in pursuing a formal degree.
I’ve been waiting for a good while now to see what Apple was going to come up with next. Now we know. My inner tech, geek self gets excited every year for the CES show and the MacWorld show. I posted several months back about the iTV, now officially named Apple TV. I would love to get my hands on one of these to try out. Apple’s website is taking orders now at $299 and they should ship in February. It takes music, videos, movies, photos, and podcasts from your computer and plays them on your tv. It hooks up to the network through wireless or wired home networks. Apple is now supporting 802.11n as well. It comes with a 40 gig hard drive and intel processor. One of the main problems I have with most current media streaming devices is that they won’t play protected or purchased content. Since I use iTunes, this new product would fit perfectly with my home entertainment system.
But the appleTV was not the big announcement, everyone was expecting it. The big announcement was the new iPhone. Man, this thing is sweet. No buttons. A phone that is all screen, and from the looks of the pictures, they nailed the interface. Apple has been known for simplifying the user interface of their products. They take an existing market and make it accessible to the common person who’s not a technology expert. This is not just a phone, it is also a full featured iPod with video and an internet browser. They added an accelerometer that can tell when you rotate the screen and automatically changes the display to landscape mode. They’ve added the cool coverflow scrolling of album titles from iTunes 7 as well. There are so many cool features to this phone. To get the full effect, you really need to check out the demos at Apple’s website. It also supports bluetooth and wifi. Can you tell yet, that I’m really impressed by this thing. I was expecting just another phone with iTunes support, but they really revolutionized the market with this one.
Now the bad news. It is only going to be available through Cingular for now, and not til June. For those of us in CDMA markets, that means it’s going to be a long while, if ever, before we can buy this thing. And it ain’t cheap. $499 or $599 depending on memory, so this thing will definitely set you back a little. Living in the country has great benefits, but the benefits don’t include living on the edge of new technology. Apple is calling the new touch screen interface “multi-touch”. My only thought in watching the preview videos is that the on-screen keyboard looks pretty small. I’m not sure how that will work for most guys with big hands. But it is really cool how the interface responds to your touch.
Here’s the weird part. Apple is able to generate such a buzz with their announcements. I took a short lunch just so I could get back to my computer and hit refresh every minute to see the pics coming live from MacWorld. AND I’M NOT EVEN A MAC FAN. I’ve had PC’s for a long, long time, and I have not been a very big fan of Apple. But they have been able to design products that are easy to use and that fill a void in the marketplace and do it with style. And because of their peripherals, I now am even thinking it would be nice to have a mac computer, especially one of their laptops. So their marketing plan is working, by focusing on the smaller items that people can use everyday, they are able to increase market share and entice people to purchase computers.
I love my iPod, and it has enabled me to listen to a lot of sermons, radio shows, and podcasts, that I would not have had the opportunity to listen to otherwise. Technology can easily become an idol to us in this day and age, but I think we can and should redeem it for God’s Glory!
I haven’t posted much lately because I have been pretty busy at home. We have been switching all the kids bedrooms around. Emma is going into Drew’s old room, Drew is going into Luke’s old room, and Luke is going into Emma’s old room. Are you confused yet? Because trying to coordinate all the furniture, toys, and stuff is crazy right now.
This all started because my old office room, which had it’s own bathroom, turned into a nursery when Drew was born. Now he is climbing out of his crib all the time, so we decided it was time for a change. Emma wants that room so she can have her own bathroom and get away from the boys. Luke wanted Emma’s room because of the big closet, and Drew gets leftovers since he is the youngest. But they are all excited and we have been busy moving all their stuff around. The only complication is that Luke’s new room has this real ‘girly’ carpet with a flower pattern all over it. So we are going to put down a new wood floor in his room. So I plan on being busy at night for the next week or two while we get everything settled. It’s Trading Spaces, family style.
People make all kinds of New Year’s Resolutions, but few people ever keep them. When I was planning for this past weekend’s message at church, I really thought about motivating people to live radically for Christ this year. In a message from Seacoast last weekend, their focus was on New Year’s Revolutions instead of Resolutions. That really stuck with me and resonated in my mind all week during my preparation. What would it take to live a revolutionary life for Christ? My brain is a scary place, but I wanted to share how this message came together. How do we make a fresh start? By focusing on our hearts, our opportunities, and our relationships!
For the youth, I have been posting about getting back to the basics. What I mean by that is that we focus too many times on actions and ignore the underlying beliefs and values. We ignore the heart. We have all this “head knowledge” about Christ, but too often it doesn’t change how we live our lives. If we allow that knowledge to seep in and penetrate the depths of our hearts, then we will see change happen naturally. May our hearts be strengthened (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13) so that we will live Holy lives for Christ. We strengthen our hearts by going beyond the do’s and don’ts, and by actually focusing on the why and how. By establishing a proper view of Christ in our hearts, we build the foundation to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
I have also just finished reading, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Pastor Mark Batterson. I definitely want to do a thorough review soon, but I almost wore out my highlighter when reading through the book. There are so many nuggets of truth to motivate and encourage you to take advantage of the God-given opportunities in your life that often come disguised as problems. The book draws on the story of Benaiah from 2 Samuel 23:20 when he chases a lion into a snowy pit and kills it. Most people would view a lion as a serious problem, but he took it as a God-ordained opportunity. The back of the book has the following quote, I think it is definitely a revolutionary statement for the new year, “What if the life you really want and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure … your greatest fear?”
I posted last week about Billy Graham and the lessons he shared with Reader’s Digest. When I think about our relationships in the new year, I want to live in a way that honors God in everything I do and say. My final revolution is to focus on my relationships. I think Billy Graham’s advice is not only wise, but timely for the new year. It bears repeating again, so hear it is to think about one more time.
1. Make it your goal to live at peace with others.
2. Treat others as you’d want them to treat you.
3. Guard your tongue. Use it for good instead of evil.
4. Never repay evil with evil.
5. Avoid revenge. Don’t be a captive of the past.
6. Practice the power of forgiveness.
Not only do teens sometimes make bad choices because of their need for affirmation, but there can also be physiological reasons as well. I read an interesting article about the teenage brain. We all know it’s a scary place, but this article explains why. It seems like the brain actually “rewires” itself between the ages of 11 to 14. It then takes several years for all the new “circuits” to work properly. We should remember back to our teenage years to think about how our own emotions were amplified and about how we struggled to make logical decisions at times. We should keep this in mind as we work with teens and not underestimate their feelings and their pain that they experience.
If you are a teen, then this should make you think about those times when you over-react or those times when you make crazy choices. It shows the importance of listening to your parents and other Godly people that have been placed in your life.
From ages 11 to 14, a young person loses a substantial fraction of the connections between cells in the part of the brain that enable him or her to think clearly and make good decisions. This loss is a vital part of growing up. It clears out, or “prunes,” unneeded wiring to make way for more efficient information-processing in adults.
“It certainly seems possible that normal adolescents who are experiencing these brain changes can react emotionally,” said Ian Campbell, a neuroscientist at the University of California-Davis Sleep Research Laboratory.
“Teens may process emotions differently than adults,” said Giedd, who calls the teenage brain “a work in progress.”
The process brings about “an improvement in speed in information-processing and a greater ability to build the long neuronal chains required for complex problem-solving,” Campbell said.