new blog!

so i was on vacation this past week & finally bit the bullet & did something i've been intending to do for awhile: relaunch my blog. i moved it over to WordPress (new toys always help keep my attention) and i'm really gonna try & stick with it. so take a glance & add your two cents:




recently i've been enjoying the first fires of the new winter. i love everything about them. the sound, the smells, the warmth, the glow. they give me a new desire to stay home, a new desire to get work done. about the only issue is that i wish my fireplace was larger. it's not that it's tiny or anything...i just wish it was bigger.

sorry...i'm in twitter mindset. hard to think beyond 140 characters. : )


american tradition

so Jon Stewart hosted Bill O'Reilly on the Daily Show the other night. hmmm...think there were a few disagreements?

but the one that caught my ear the most was the two of them talking about the traditions that define the US. check it out:


and, surprise surprise, i disagree with both of them. first off, i don't think we're a "center-right" nation. secondly, i don't think that our tradition is defined by a "progression of individual freedoms."

beyond that, i often hear people, especially Christians, contend that our nation was founded (and thus its traditions begun) on Biblically rooted Christianity.

but with all of these i disagree. the tradition of the US includes the violent overthrow of a people already established on the land we happened upon (Native Americans). the tradition of the US includes the violent exploitation of a variety of ethnic backgrounds (African slavery from our founding through the 19th century, child slavery in our factories during the Industrial Revolution). the tradition of the US includes the suppression of countless voices through lack of voting rights until centuries after our country began.

the words that our country was founded on ("that all men are created equal") differed greatly from the actions that have been taken by our country.

this isn't to say that the US has not come a long way or accomplished great things along the way in terms of extending freedom and ending oppression. however, we need to be careful when we cite the "great history of our nation" that we don't forget the total history of our nation, which includes deeds both great and terrible, noble and ignoble. and i, for one, would prefer to work toward a brighter future while learning from our whole history than trying to recreate our history today.


smart man.

It's extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can't find $25 billion dollars to save 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases.

- Bono


Batman: In the Light of Day

a couple of my students from the Chapel wanted to make a movie this summer (one of them, Brad, is awesome at editing/directing) so this is the final product...

my debut as the Joker...

by the way...this is actually a sequel to the original one they made a year ago called "Batman and Vanilla Face"...some of the jokes may make more sense with context clues from it. Then again, they might not : ) Either way, here's the link.



sometimes i get the most random emails...like today:

"i just wanted to know what you do if you think a prayer isn't getting answered.


his name wasn't really jim-bob...but anyway...

it made me smile. and glad that i do what i do. and then i realized i actually had to reply with an answer. tricky. so here's what i put:

"hmmm...good question...

sometimes i get discouraged and stop praying. i don't think that's a very good answer, though.

sometimes i just keep on praying. God's got this whole sovereignty thing going for him (which means he always knows everything and, well, i don't), which means sometimes the timing is different than i think it should be or the answer is different than i think it should be or, well, a lot of things could be different than i think they should be...and keeping the "prayer train" chugging allows for God to show me one of these things.

and sometimes, as Mother Theresa noted, i realize that i need to be the answer to my own prayer. maybe i'm praying that God would speak to a friend's heart about who he is and it turns out i've never even bothered to share who God is with this friend. and so, while i keep praying, i also take some action to line my life up with the words i say in my prayers.

not all of those apply all the time...just some things i think sometimes. hope that helps..."

any thoughts on this? better answers for a middle schooler who's trying to sort out prayer (or a middle school youth pastor trying to sort out prayer)?

who (am i)?

Identity. In my mind it is THE topic of middle school. And for probably a lot more of life than any of would like to acknowledge, but especially middle school. So, being at a new place and wanting the youth group to grow together, i thought that a series on identity would be a great start. I'm aiming it toward our fall retreat in mid-october, at which we'll be launching the rest of the year...a new name (and logo), midweek structure, sunday structure, etc. What better time to talk about identity when you're sorting it out, right?

The question then became what to cover in six weeks on identity. Here's my approach this time around...

1st Sunday...general intro's. Why is identity important? Talked about how we all have a desire to be known for something. among other things, i showed a pic of Mark Hamill and while all the students could identify him as Luke Skywalker, none of them (!) knew what his real name was. And so we spent some time considering whether we let our true identity shine through (at school, in our neighborhoods, in our family, at church) or if we spend the whole time playing out some part we think people want to see.

2nd Sunday...What should we identify with? Well, the Sunday school answer is Jesus, and while being correct...why?! We spent the morning in Exodus, looking at the conversation between Moses & God (at the burning bush) and God's name of I AM. God is THE definition...of life, love, and all things good. And Christ wants to live that out in & through us (a la Colossians 1:27)

3rd Sunday...If Christ wants to live out God's goodness through us, what does that look like? I figured we'd spend the last four weeks on claims that Christ makes about himself, using the "I am" statements that show up in John that reflect week #2's Moses/God convo. This week is Bread of Life.

4th Sunday...Light of the World

5th Sunday...the Good Shepherd

6th Sunday...Resurrection and the Life

I've only done the first 2 weeks, and am still working on the last four. If you have any ideas for ways that weeks 3, 4, 5, or 6 could be demonstrated, illustrated, exemplified, etc, I'm open to suggestions!