For the last week, Luke and I have been playing through the Lego Star Wars video game on our computer. I don’t play games too much because I really don’t have the time, and my priorities prevent me from spending so much time at the computer. I spent way too much time in college playing the original Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem, and Doom, so I try to avoid getting hooked on games now. But now that Luke is almost 7 years old, I can play and have fun with him at the same time. This game is awesome. The puzzles are not too tough, and it’s fun for two people to play at the same time. When the going gets tough, Luke can just drop out for a minute and let the computer take over while I get through the difficult parts. Then he jumps right back in the game and starts destroying legos. Just last night he played as R2D2 and figured out he can disable robots so I can get them with the lightsaber. He’s laughed and had a great time. He now thinks his dad is cool because he can play video games. I still plan on holding off on any game consoles for as long as I can. But we have had fun playing together clearing a level or two each night. Fun times that bring back memories of old atari’s and arcades.

Weekend At Home

January 21, 2007 — Leave a comment

I’ve had a great weekend, mainly because we had no big projects going on and no place we had to be. I got to spend some great times with Jennifer and the kids. Also, because of the ice and snow this morning, both church and evening youth meetings were canceled. I was able to catch the service online this morning at Seacoast on their new Internet Campus. I really like how their pastor handled the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate. I enjoyed something different this weekend.

I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about some tough issues. I find myself too easily becoming frustrated when I focus in on problems. I need to trust God and know that He will work out the problems, but knowing when to push through and when to wait is tough. And that brings me to another reason I love youth ministry. Tonight, out of the blue, I got an email from one of the youth just telling Jennifer and me how much we are appreciated. Youth are sincere and I love them for it. The timing was perfect, so thanks. I needed some encouragement this weekend. God knows what I need and when I need it. The time with the family and the email were definitely divine guidance for what I am struggling with.

American Idol Again

January 19, 2007 — Leave a comment

I hate to admit it, but I really like watching American Idol, especially the later rounds of competition. And so it has started yet again. But after watching the first two shows, I’m left with a bad feeling. Here it is: Should we as Christians watch something that is based on humiliating and making fun of people auditioning? I know we can rationalize it by saying that they are the ones trying out and they brought it on themselves. But after watching the show, I really think some of the people are not mentally capable of knowing they aren’t talented. For the sake of entertainment, the producers push the limits and keep showing people way past the point of making the viewer uncomfortable. For me, it’s really not funny. I find myself feeling sympathy for those who don’t know any better. Now there are always some on there who are just trying to get on tv, so it doesn’t really bother me to see them get exposed. But what about those who really think they are good?

And I haven’t even brought up the topic of children and teens watching it. I can’t help but think this really contributes to what we don’t want to teach as youth ministers, that it is fine to criticize and make fun of others who are different and not popular. I find myself constantly telling my kids that we shouldn’t make fun of people like that. For me, I think I will hold off really watching the show until Hollywood. So, it’s something to think about.

Thanks to fellow pastor Mark Batterson, I now know that “that African elephants poop eighty pounds per day” and that cows can really put out some serious emissions. Makes me glad to live in the country. It reminds me of one day a couple of years ago when Emma came running to me and told me we had cows in our back yard. Before we managed to find out where they came from (with the help of the local police I might add), they managed to make quite a few deposits in our yard. I guess cows not only make cheese, they cut it as well!

According to a United Nations Report, cow “emissions” are the greatest threat to the environment.

The 400-page report by the Food and Agricultural Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, says that the world’s 1.5 billion cattle are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. That is more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.

Cow farts account for 9% of all carbon dioxide emissions. Their “wind” and manure account for more than 33% of methane. And their farts produce 100 other polluting gases including ammonia, one of the major causes of acid rain.

Check out YSMarko’s post on creative ways to decorate your office. These would be so much fun to do to a coworker.

My Weekend Project

January 16, 2007 — Leave a comment

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 don’t want to leave out Emma’s room either. We repainted it and fixed it up to be a “girly” room.

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.

I read this over on the Shift Conference Blog and the ChristianPost

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, 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.

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