3 comments Saturday, February 28, 2009

Well, I was for about .5 seconds. I went snowboarding for the first time today and despite having learned how to skate, surf, and windsurf in my youth it has been too long since I used those skills so balance was my enemy today as much as gravity.

Anyways, I was pretty tired at the end of training session and couldn't even stand-up on the board much less try what I was being taught, but I got out after lunch and tried some more with more success. I still have trouble stopping without landing on my butt, but I did get pretty good at making turns and such.

At one point, though, I tried something different while stopping and avoided landing on my rear. Instead I went flying head first just like Superman.

Anyways, I will be writing my SYP post in the morning because I'm too tired to try and get it right.

Comments Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today I am going Snow Boarding for the first time. I'm also taking my 5 year old daughter for her first ski trip. We are leaving the church at 5:30 in the morning so yeah short post today.

Anyone got ski or snowboard stories?


I knew this day would come. I spent way to long getting my BA so when I was done I didn't want to think about education anymore. I made a mistake this week. It has been 4 years since I finished my undergrad degree so I guess the disdain I have for learning has worn off. I was reading Group magazine and saw an ad for Seminary. That is all it took.

Next thing I know I'm looking at the website and then checked out about a dozen other seminary programs. Most cost too much, but I found that Liberty caps their tuition for Seminary at $2000 per semester for 9-15 hours. I can complete my Master of Arts in Theology, a 36 hour program, in one year online for about $6500. Then, if I want, I can go back to get a 60 hour degree and only need to take 24 hours extra in another year or two. After that I could get my M.Div. which is 90 credits and will only have to take the last 30 credits.

Of course, taking 12 credits a semester online for a year straight is gonna be murder, so I am feeling very anxious about this fall. Of course this all assumes I'm able to get some things in place that will let me cut back some on my church hours and also pay the $2150 per semester.


The last Wednesday of the month is game night. Tonight we had a murder mystery party. I looked into buying a kit but didn't feel like spending the money when I didn't know if the students would enjoy it.

I say about 75% or so got into the game and the ones that got into it enjoyed it. I made 50 character cards and used most of them. The game was pretty involved, but I think it might have been a bit too involved for them.

There were the obvious players, a dead person, a murderer, and everyone had some reason to kill the dead guy. Most people had alibis but a few didn't. There were also assassins, mobsters, investigators, federal agents, smugglers, spies … each with their own objectives. For example, a police officer was investigating the mob and various players knew who the mob guys were, but only the informant knew who the head of the mob was and was only allowed to tell the police officer. The mob was supposed to find and take out the informant before he could share this information. The ATF agents were trying to identify and arrest the smuggler and Booth and Oswald (the assassins) were trying to find the entrance to the theater and a grassy knoll respectively.

I think there was just too much information for them, plus they didn't really write down things as well as they should. One guy had it all practically solved. He had figured out who everyone was and narrowed the murderer to 4 characters before my final clue was revealed and that clue eliminated 3 of those 4 leaving the murderer, but he didn't write any of it down so couldn't remember whodunit.

I had lots of fun playing with the names to. With 50 names you need to have fun so I got some classic assassin names, some fun word plays and other such. For example, at one point I had, Frank and Bean which led to Rocky and Road and then Chunky and Monkey which made me think of Bones and then logically Jones.

Anyways, I'm planning on doing this again but I'm thinking of buying a party set to see how they plan things out before I try my hand at this again. If anyone is interested in the set I made I will make it available for free once I get a couple little things done to make it easier for others to use. I need to write up instructions and such. Let me know.

3 comments Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yesterday I was disappointed to read a comment suggesting that pastors should stick to the preaching time because it is inconsiderate to cut into "my time." Now maybe I misunderstood this particular commenter but this is something I've heard said about long winded preachers.

The basic problem I have is this idea that the pastor is actually cutting into someone else's time. I wonder how this measures up to reality. Let's assume that the minimum we should give to God is 10%, which I think can be justified by the Bible so it seems like a good place to start. Now let's say that this can be applied to everything; also supported by the Bible. Time is part of everything so it seems that we owe God 2.4 hours per day (if you are curious this is 2 hours and 24 minutes) or 16.8 hours per week (16 hours 48 minutes). Of course most of us work so I'll be generous and assume 40 hours of work and a tithe on that income offsetting 4 hours f the 16.8 hours. This leaves 12.8 hours. Now lets also be generous and assume that we give God an hour every day so we are left with 5.8 hours. Now if a person goes to church for Sunday morning, evening and a midweek service then that 5.8 hours should get covered with 3 hours Sunday morning and about 1.5 hours Sunday Evening and midweek. This is actually pretty accurate for someone going to Sunday School and the other service so if you give God your tithe and an hour a day plus Sunday morning, evening, and a midweek then you have reached the minimum.

Of course the people I have heard complain about cutting into "my time" are not there for Sunday School, Sunday Evening, or the midweek. I doubt they are making up this time by giving more than the hour a day. I'm not trying to tear someone down when I say this, but I think we need to think a little before we get mad that the service is running long.

How much do we give to God and how much does He give to us? If we love Him shouldn't we want to spend time with Him? What if we all gave God 10% of everything? Wouldn't that be amazing. Then the preacher wouldn't have to preach long because of so many people that can't feed themselves.

Of course it is much easier to get upset at the preacher than to look at ourselves so I guess I shouldn't go there.

1 comments Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I wrapped up a discussion on sex with my youth last week and I hope it went well. I think this is something that we tend to avoid because it makes us uncomfortable. I believe we have done a disservice to entire generations based on the way we have approached sex. In the past sex was a total taboo, at least coming in from the Victorian era. Personally I think there was a lot of sex talk going on in Victorian England but just not around the queen. Here in America there seemed to be one church movement after another that focused on how wrong sex was. Of course the point wasn't really that sex was wrong but that sex outside of marriage is wrong but that particular nuance kind of got lost in translation.

The result is that people feel uncomfortable talking about sex outside their peer group. I think most people feel like everyone else will think their weird or something because of the way they feel, but the truth is most people feel the same way. The truth is sex is good.

Yep I said it. Sex is good and we really need to make it clear that sex is even better in a marriage. Well, it should be. Think about it, in a marriage there is a long term commitment to openness and honesty. That is the theory, but since we have been taught that sex is bad it feels weird to talk about it with our spouse. That is a very important part of sex though. Being willing to explore and experience each other, but that isn't done by randomly touching or poking.

They say the most powerful sex organ is the brain, but the most powerful sex tool must be communication. Talking before during and after, making plans, and listening to your spouse. Media portraits married sex as dead and lifeless sex, but that is only true if we allow it to be. A person that goes from partner to partner cannot ever learn that person they are with. That takes a lifetime.

In other words, marriage is the best venue for sex because it creates an environment for long term study of your partner.

If you are married then think about your sex life. Do you actually talk to your spouse about sex? When was the last time? Your partners likes and dislikes can change from one moment to the next so don't assume that the spot behind the ear still does the trick. Ask and listen. If you aren't satisfied with your sex life then try talking more. Check out the 30 day sex challenge.

If you aren't married then consider why sex is best for marriage. There are so man reasons why but the kind of commitment that should be in marriage is a powerful reason why sex is better in marriage, or should be.

Comments Monday, February 23, 2009

So I was reading the Group magazine that has been sitting in my mail pile for a few weeks just now. First time I've had time to be honest. I'm almost done with it and one of the articles was written by a guy with my name. I don't have a super common name, sure there are a lot of "Nick the Geeks" out there but that isn't my real name. The fun part is I was really getting into the article thinking it was a really cool idea and wondering how I could implement the suggestion when I saw it was written by me. I don't remember writing it but it might explain why I've been so tired lately. Apparently I write in my sleep and do a much better job of it than I do while I'm awake. I'm gonna take a little nap and see what I can come up with.


And now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

I wrote the post below on Saturday because our annual church business meeting was scheduled for yesterday and I knew that I wouldn't have time to write anything last night. I was correct. The meeting started at 4pm and ran till 7:30 then we had a time of worship and took communion. I left a bit before 9 and went to fill a prayer slot for our 24-7 prayer. I made it back home around 10:20 to exhausted to even think about writing. Actually I didn't even turn my computer on which is saying something for an internet addict such as myself.

Anyways, the meeting went well. It took forever mostly because of the financial report. I ended up fielding a lot of the questions myself because I've been so involved in getting our finances sorted out. Things are still not great but we are going in the right direction with getting separation of duties and such taken care of. There have also been a lot of other changed in the way we record various transactions.

None of that was reflected in the report given at the business meeting and so there were a lot of questions about exactly what specific expenses were and why we had money we can't use and such like that.

Just so you know, if you make a donation to a non-profit organization please make your donation as general as possible so it can be used where it is needed. If you write a letter with your donation explaining that the money can only be used to buy a very specific piece of property that the organization is never going to buy then that money will sit in a bank account untouchable as far as the IRS is concerned.

I don't mind explaining these things I just wish it didn't take so long. I felt like I was having to teach the first couple classes from my church finance course in college. The annoying part is that I gave the same lesson last year. I think this year I'm going to write a short manual on how we handle our money and what it can be used for legally. I figure I can write say 10-20 pages on the subject to cover the highlights. That is pretty good considering the book on my desk right now covering the ins and outs of church finance is 544 pages.

Oh well, thank God this meeting went as well as it did. Last year was kind of nasty so we are moving in the right direction.


I loved GI Joe almost as much as Transformers when I was a kid. They did a remake of the show and I watched it. Quite frankly I was more than a little disappointed. The show itself wasn't terrible but they really dropped the ball at the end. Back in the 80s they finished each show out with very important information where the characters from the show taught kids like me how to deal with stuff and stay safe.

This seems like something they really should have kept because the lessons they taught are still important. Like the video above says, don't hide in the fridge. Sure kids now might now spend as much time playing out by themselves. When I was growing up pretty much the whole neighborhood went out shortly after school and played till dinner and if it was light still we'd go play till dark. I guess if you just sit in front of the TV or computer then you don't need to worry about the messages they share on the show, but there are other important messages they could have shared with kids today. They need to know to get off their butts and go play for one. They need to be told how to eat right and to not share personal information online.

Of course, just like they say in every episode, "knowing is half the battle." The other half is actually doing or not doing. They said in one episode not to fly kites around power lines, but I'm sure some kids saw this and didn't really pay attention. This is something I learned from the show. I know a lot of things, probably too many things for my own good. I know how to make thermite, for example. If you don't know what that is I'm not gonna help you because it really isn't something your average person should know. Knowing these things is only half the battle though. I think wisdom is the other half the battle.

I know how to make various things that burn and or explode but wisdom tells me not to try those things out or to tell the Youth how to create these concoctions. OK wisdom and my wife tell me that, but you get the picture. Wisdom tells us when to act and how to act something knowledge by itself can't help us with. Knowledge taught us how to make nuclear bombs, fortunately wisdom showed us that we needed to be more responsible with them.

And now you know …

2 comments Saturday, February 21, 2009

This is the fourth part of a series in the exploits of SYP. If you need to start at the beginning of the series please visit part 1, part 2, and part 3.

When last we saw our daring hero he had just realized the danger of the nefarious plots around him. We join our hero as he is surrounded by Love Crazed Teen Zombies with only the Naïve Intern for backup. Griz, the grumpy old volunteer, was gathering supplies for the night's festivities, but who knew when he would return. SYP didn't have much time to plan. A group of LCTZs were ambling toward him. He scanned the room for the Naïve Intern and saw him backing into a corner as the infected crowded around him.

SYP had never been trained on how to handle Zombies, but he did have a few tricks to deal with lust crazed teens. When it reached this level he knew the only real solution was a cold shower. Fortunately he had water guns and balloons ready to go if he could just get to them. Unfortunately they were in the storage closet on the opposite side of the room.

SYP would start cutting them all down with his super sarcasm, but he didn't know if they could be saved. If only he could fly like some other super heroes it wouldn't be a problem. What he needed was a distraction.

"Hey Intern, got anything you can distract the dead with?"

"I'm not sure, I can try something but it is unbelievably stupid."

"Well sometimes stupid plays what do you need?"

"Here, catch my iPod," The Naïve intern shouted as he threw the iPod across the room.

It was a terrible throw but SYP was able to make the catch knocking one of the zombies back into the rest of the group approaching him. This gave him a few extra seconds. Thank goodness zombies are so slow or they would have already caught them.

"I've got it, now what?"

"Hook it up to the sound system and play the song I have cued."

SYP looked at the sound booth and saw a zombie couple in the shadows under the board. He figured he could vault the half wall so he wouldn't have to go through the zombie crowd but what would he do with them once he got up there. He considered his options as he cleared the rail and as he landed the couple took no notice of him at all. They were so intent on each other it was as if he didn't exist. He worked quickly watching the couple the entire time but they never knew he was there. He hit play and instantly recognized the familiar beat. It seemed appropriate but SYP didn't know how this song would help. Then he looked up at the platform just as the Naïve Intern ran through a small group of zombies and started dancing to the music. To his amazement the zombies he had run through started dancing as well. It seemed that Love Crazed Teen Zombies couldn't resist dancing to Thriller.

The zombies out on the floor instantly lined up and started mimicking the Naïve Intern as he danced. SYP knew he didn't have long to get to the supply closet but something was bothering him. All the zombies in the light were dancing while any zombie in shadow was occupied sucking face with another zombie. Suddenly SYP knew what he had to do. It went against every instinct he had as a Youth Pastor. It violated the training he had been given in his Bible college classes, but it had to work.

SYP went to the master light consol in the booth. He reached for the blackout switch.

"Intern, get into the hall. It's about to get dark."

SYP struggled with the decision just a moment longer and then plunged the room into darkness. The song was still playing but the Zombies stopped their dance and began pairing up. He could see clearly in the dark and was glad to see the Naïve Intern made it to the hall without too much trouble. He walked through the crowd of moaning teen Zombies who were too busy to bother with him. Even when he bumped into one couple they didn't even look up from their entanglement.

He got the supplies and did what he was best at. SYP began pumping the biggest water blaster and let fly a couple of water balloons. The zombie couples pushed away from each other in shock and then ran from the room. As he worked his way to the hall where he hoped the Naïve Intern was waiting safely he broke up couple after couple with an icy spray. It was invigorating. He opened the door to find a shaking intern.

"Hey, sup" he quavered, "how freaky is that?"

"I think I've got the solution. If we spray them with water they run and so long as they are in the dark they won't attack."

"That's fine for you but I can't see in the dark."

"Don't sweat it, I need to you try and get Griz. It is going to be a long night and we need all the help we can get." SYP started to go back in the room and saw that the Naïve Intern was still shivering with fear. "Hey intern, good call with Thriller you'll do just fine if you can think that quick on your feet."

SYP dove through the door ready to start spraying lusty teens but was surprised to see most had left the room. It seemed that the ones he had sprayed were returning to normal but the rest decided to find some privacy. This wasn't good. At least he knew the zombieism wasn't permanent. SYP made it to the sound booth and tapped the blackout switch again. He heard a groan and jumped back. The couple was still under the sound board. He almost sprayed them right then but stopped when he remembered water doesn't play well with electricity. He grabbed his flashlight and illuminated the undead duo. They slowly turned and climbed out of their love nest. They limped towards him and he sprayed them once they were clear of the sensitive electronics. As he sprayed them they began to change. The water seemed to wash the death off of the pair. In the light he could see a faint purple sludge dripping off of them as they were cleaned from their disease.

A quick glance around the room revealed several piles of purple goo. It seemed the LCTZs were actually making purple. Curiouser and Curiouser.

SYP went to the bathroom to fill his water tanks and found three other couples. A few quick blasts and they were trying to gain their bearings as he guided them back to the multipurpose room. He went back into the hall and got the intern and had him take over the room. SYP distributed what water guns he could afford and let them know to spray anyone that didn't look well before letting them join the group. SYP then went on a zombie hunt after finding that the Naïve Intern couldn't raise Griz on the cell phone. In fact it seemed that they were cut off from the outside world.

The next few hours went by slowly as SYP went to every dark place he could find hunting the lusty dead. He ended up finding 70 or so students including the ones from the initial counter strike. This was taking way too long and Griz was way overdue.

"Intern, this is taking too long, we need a better plan."

"Sup, I don't have a clue. I could play Thriller again but I think that was a onetime deal."

"You're probably right, but we can't spend the rest of the night hunting. I'm afraid that when the sun comes up the zombies will start tring to break out and attack others."

"Um, Mr. Youth Pastor," a weak voice called, "I think I might be able to help."

SYP turned to see the Recluse emerging from the shadows.

"Stop right there. How do I know I can trust you, as far as I know you did this to get even with me."

"Yes, um … I might have tried something like this but please believe me when I say I didn't do this. Once I saw what was happening I hid until I could figure out how to get away. It seems that I will need you if I am going to escape this place."

"I still don't trust you but what is your plan?"

"Well, you've been trying to find them but you need to find a way to attract them."

"And how do you propose we do that?"

"Simple, make this place exactly where they want to be. Play some make out music and turn the lights down low. Set the mood and they will come."

"That might work, but we'll need a plan for when they get here."

"It seems that water is the solution, you'll just need to lock the doors until you can inoculate everyone."

SYP made the plans with the Naïve Intern and the rest of the group. They would all go to the annex and wait for him. He went through the church turning on every light he could find and then activated the mood lighting and playlist they selected. It wasn't long before the first of the LCTZ couples found their way into the room. SYP waited while they came in over the next half hour and wondered if this was the best plan as the zombies paired up and shutout the world around them. The last couple found a nice spot in the corner as he walked around the room locking the doors. He was going to the last set of doors when Griz kicked the door in.

"Did someone order takeout?"

"Griz, where have you been? Things have been crazy."

"I see that, what are you doing man?"

"We lured the zombies here to stop the whole group."

"Then finish the job boy before you have zombie babies on your hands."

SYP hefted a large water balloon and smiled at Griz, "Glad to see you old man."

"Bah, that isn't gonna do it, take way too long." Griz pulled out a can of hair spray and a lighter and aimed at the sprinkler system.

Before SYP knew what was happening Griz torched the sprinkler and the entire room took a cold shower. SYP couldn't believe it. It was over. It was finally over. Then the laughing started.

SYP looked around to figure out what was going on. There in the center of the room the Cool Kid was laughing. It was just plain scary.

"Not so cool now are you Sup?"

"What are you talking about?"

"All of this was my plan to make you look like the fool you are. How did you like having to break all you own rules?"

"Kid, you did this?"

"Sure, but it gets better." The Cool Kid just kept laughing as SYP looked around the room. The great piles of purple were slowly creeping towards each other. The whole time SYP felt frozen in place trying to understand what was happening. The slime began to take form. In moments he saw the figure of a beautiful purple woman.

He stared amazed at this purple creature when he heard, "wow, he's cute," from the crowd. That is when he figured it out. The purple became the object of lust in each person that was looking at it.

How will SYP deal with this new threat? What took Griz so long? Did the Cool Kid have any help? Join us next week same SYP time, same SYP blog.

5 comments Friday, February 20, 2009

So I hear that Garfield hates Mondays. I'm not a huge fan of them myself but for totally different reasons. My work week starts on Sunday but I'm usually pretty excited about that. I guess I'm just an optimist like that. Often I am so exhausted tired by the end of the night that I really don't want to get up on Monday and I'm just not quite there all day. Some less holy folk might call this an anointing hangover but I'd never go there. I have to go in on Monday though because I have to clean my office and plan my week on Monday or the rest of the week is shot. It's just not pretty when I have meetings on Monday morning like I've had for the past few weeks. My office is a very scary place right now.

Anyways, Mondays will come with a new feature. I had been keeping that day random but I got a great idea from a post over at SCL today. On the off chance that you read my blog but not Jon's go check it out. From now on Mondays will be about the best things in life that I learned from 80s cartoons. Sure the 80s gave us terrible hair (be honest did you have a mullet?), downright scary clothing, and the 3rd worst musical fad of all time (80s hair bands *shudder*), but we did get a few awesome things from the 80s. We got Cyndi Lauper, The Princess Bride, Goonies, and most importantly the best cartoons ever. Sure the 90s had a few good cartoons but it also spelled the death of the before and after school cartoons. No the 80s had the real GI Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, He-Man … and also some stuff that girls liked but I didn't watch them because I didn't have a sister to share the TV with.

Come on a journey through my childhood and learn things that explain why therapists charge so much money.

My first lesson is this.

Sometimes Heroes Die

Yep, it's true. The hero of the story can die. I was 7 when The Transformers Movie came out. Not the new live action version I'm talking about the old cartoon movie. It is the first movie I remember watching in theaters. I'm sure I watched others but this one stands out. I was addicted to Transformers like nothing else. My parents bought me several of the toys and they learned the difference between Transformers and Go Bots because that was very important to me. Transformers were cool and Go Bots were the cheap knockoffs that the pariah of the 2nd grade played with. I was so hip in 2nd grade because I had some seriously awesome toys. I had an Optimus Prime die cast transformer. I weep a little when I see how much those sell for now but mine didn't survive because of the movie.

If you aren't familiar with the movie Optimus dies in the opening sequence. Honestly that is all that I really remembered from it until I bought the movie for my son (that is what I told my wife at least) last year. I had it in my head that he dies at the end of the movie because it is the last thing I remember. Apparently like so many other things I have blocked that from my childhood. I had a good childhood but anything unpleasant gets filtered so … He can't die though. He is the hero that always saves the day. Don't they know the hero never dies?

Well, if I had read The Princess Bride I could have understood the lesson without the shock that lead me to destroy my Optimus Prime action figure. It is explained in the beginning of the book that sometimes the hero dies, and so it happens in the book. I think we do prime our kids to think that the hero always wins and get the girl and all that stuff, but I learned that this isn't always true. I don't know that modern cartoons would do something to dramatically risky. That is hard for me to imagine in today's society but it is something we need to understand. We try so hard to keep our kids from heart break that when it does happen it is that much harder for them.

The good news is that even though the hero died, an unlikely character stepped up to the plate and saved the day. Also Optimus made a comeback in the cartoons and I regretted the whole "destroyed my toy because of that stupid movie" incident, but hey I was 7 not like I could predict the future.

PS, I also learned that when your hero dies it is ok to cry but that is a post for another day.

2 comments Thursday, February 19, 2009

So for the third week in a row we had new kids. I'm pretty excited about the new teens this week because one of the visitors from last week brought friends and family this week. Generally things went well tonight. There was some minor drama but overall it was calm compared to the first night when we had so many extra in a single night. I finished our "love, lust, and sex" series tonight by talking about our relationship with God.

I really love preaching for Youth. I have learned that the attention span of Youth is roughly 2 minutes longer than mine. I try to keep my sermons between 10 and 20 minutes. When I speak to the adults I usually run 45-60 minutes. In other words I basically do about 1/3 of the time. Now I typically take a given sermon and split it into three parts and then I had a nice three part series. The great part is that I can memorize the sermons because they are in my attention span. I typically have a very basic outline for my sermons and at the end of each point I have to go back to my notes or else I'm off topic.

It is awesome not having to preach off my notes. I feel much freer to engage the students when I'm not working from my notes. Very liberating.

Anyways, I preached the first night on how we tend to look at sin like a line that we cross and we ask the question, "What is crossing the line?" I put a duct tape line on the floor to illustrate this. Then I talked about how this is the wrong question. If we focus on how close we can get to God rather than how close we can get to the line then we will never have to worry about the line. There was a bit more to it but that gives you a good idea. So last week I talked about why we don't want to cross the line because of the consequences, physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. I was specifically talking about sex of course but I did give some examples of other kinds of sin. Finally tonight I brought it back around to how God relates to us after we cross the line. I focused on how God wants to have a relationship with us. I related the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 to them and how Jesus isn't interested in tearing us down but rather lifting us up.

Well that is the short version at least.

Tonight we did have a small bit of eww. There was certainly the typical teen drama. One guy that came reeked of pot so bad I was about to get a contact high while I was preaching. I'm not complaining though. I mean other than not having any Oreos to scarf but that's fine. These are the people I really want to get to know so I think it's cool that they are coming to the church. Of course I'm waiting for some of the uptight people in church to complain about it. I've already had one say something to me. I figure he'll have to get over it though. The issue was pretty bland compared to the other things that he didn't see.

Well that was last night. Any thoughts?

7 comments Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not really feeling like posting anything about my Young Adults group today. We are transitioning to a new unit and mostly just talked about what was coming up but nothing really blog worthy. This means I can show off my geek with some random fun facts. I love that widget at the bottom of my blog.

I think the one I've been thinking about the most lately is the way our eyes work. We have cone and rod receptors in our eye. Basically the cones pickup three colors (red, green and blue) and the brain combines them into all the colors we can see. The rods are much more sensitive to light but are pretty much grey scale. The center of your eye is almost entirely cones so we can focus and see the best detail in what we are looking at. The periphery of the eye has more rods because it is important to see motion but not so much detail in what is going on around you. Imagine being out hunting. You want to have detail and depth perception to pick out the animal you are trying to kill but you want to see things coming at you like a bear but the motion is much more important that the detail otherwise the brain gets information overload. For those ADD people out there imagine if everything in your field of vision was in sharp detail. You would never get anything done.

Now this is why I've been thinking about this. It turns out that since the rods are much better at low light work and movement you shouldn't try and look directly at things in the dark. You should try to look above, below, or beside what you are trying to see when the light is low. I take my dog potty in the woods at night. He is large and black so he tends to disappear into the shadows. If I try and look at him I will lose him every time, but if I look a couple feet above him I can track him quite well without my flashlight.

Try it out. Seriously you can see all kinds of movement in the dark so long as you aren't actually looking right at it. The hard part is training yourself to look at things differently than you do all day long.

I'm betting there is a sermon illustration in that.

This has been a random fun fact by Nick the Geek

4 comments Tuesday, February 17, 2009

As a minister I have already decided I will not perform a wedding unless I am satisfied with the premarital counseling the couple has received. This is a very important part of preparing for marriage. The simple truth is dating does not prepare a couple for marriage. Anyone that is married can validate this fact. To be honest, even good premarital counseling doesn't completely prepare a couple for marriage. Most couples go into it thinking they already know what they need to know. "I love him/her." That is enough isn't it? Well, to be honest no it isn't. There will come a time when you will doubt your love. There will come a time when you will be angrier than you thought you ever could be. That is what happens when you are close to a person. You open yourself to them and little things that wouldn't bother you in a friend or dating type of friend will drive you crazy in a spouse.

The biggest problem, though, is that even couples that go through premarital counseling don't think about how to continue to strengthen their marriage down the road. Most professions require additional training and certifications as long as you are in the career. Sure, you can be in many entry level type jobs without continuing education but who wants a marriage equivalent to flipping burgers for a living. I'm not knocking that job but let's be honest. It is a much better job for teens and college students than for someone in their 30s or 40s.

All marriages will benefit from regular counseling, seminars, or other marriage building sessions. A good marriage will get better. In fact a couple in a good marriage is probably involved in some kind of program to improve their marriage. Maybe they read couple books together or try to go on marriage retreats once a year. They might actually go to a church couple's class or some other kind of class like that. The point is that they understand that a good marriage takes work. We can always learn new things about our spouse and ourselves. Couples that think that going to something is admitting a problem probably have a problem they are trying to cover up. Those kind of problems will eventually come out and usually in a bad way that leads to the marriage dissolving.

If you are planning on getting married then make sure you get good premarital counseling. If you are married then get involved in building a stronger marriage even if you think you have a strong marriage. Start now before you have a problem.

What kinds of things have you done for your marriage lately?

2 comments Monday, February 16, 2009

I haven't had much time to rest in the past couple of weeks. We had a pretty fun bit of puky sick going through my wife and kids last week plus our v-day event and our 24-7 prayer week next week on top of all my normal sort of stuff.

I've been pretty blessed that I didn't have to miss any with sick myself. Sure I did feel a bit queasy the other day but I think that is because my daughter puked on me and that can make most anyone feel a bit ill.

I took today off and my wife wanted to go shopping. I really need to buy some new clothes and we have a couple of gift cards to spend on clothes. This morning I wake up feeling ick and not at all like making a shopping run.

My wife puts up with quite a bit but she isn't that in to it when I cancel shopping trips. Oh well I'll make it up to her another day. Not much I can do when my body finally gives in to all the nasty traveling through the family.


We had a valentine's party for multiple churches on Saturday. It was a great time and we had more come than we really expected. The next time we will need a bigger space so that is pretty awesome. Don't tell anyone but we had dancing. We brought in dance instructors and taught swing dance. The teens seemed to really get into it. The only downside to the evening is just as we were getting ready to shut it down some kid pulled the fire alarm. We know who did it but we couldn't stop the alarm and the firemen came and kicked us out even though we explained it.

This brings up two very important and related things. Why are so many Christians against dancing? I had to keep the dancing side totally top secret from the adults at the church. It was crazy. The couple of times that I accidentally said the word around an adult you would have thought I said we would be pairing the kids up with porn stars or something. I think they are still stuck on the idea that dancing leads to sex or something. I am assuming this is generally based on ignorance and legalism. What if life really looked like this?

I was an sweet, innocent girl until one day I attended a chaperoned church dance. I don't know what came over me. Most of the night I stood against the wall like any good Christian girl refusing to get into that evil moving my body in rhythm with the music stuff but then a guy asked me to dance. I looked at my friends and they seemed to be having fun and not running off to have sex. How little did I know. We danced for one song but the next morning I woke up pregnant and addicted to crack. I don't even know how it happened. Don't let this happen to you. Friends don't let friends dance.

I might be wrong but I think that was the essence of what the adults in my church were taught as children. They probably wouldn't approve of my wife and I dancing so please don't tell them we are taking dancing lessons because we thought the swing dancing looked fun. We arranged it with the dance instructors and some of the other YPs and their wives that night. It will be a great way for us to build our friendships as we build our relationships with our spouses.

The other related issue, thought I forgot about that, is the mentality that the rules must be followed in all circumstances. The rules say that if there is a fire alarm that the responding fire unit must clear the building until they verify that there is no fire. This is perfectly reasonable under most circumstances. At some point, though, it becomes a complete waste of time. We tried calling them to explain that we caught a kid pulling the alarm. One of the other YPs actually saw the kid as he was pulling it so this is not just a theory. The alarm panel said it was from the pull so it backs up our story. We explained that when they pulled up and they still made us all go out into the cold for an hour while they went through the entire building checking for a fire that we knew didn't exist. Rules are great, but at some point we are expected to use our brains when interpreting the rules.

If the rule says that the building needs to be checked for fire and there is a witness that can say a kid pulled the alarm as a prank, then I would say the building has been checked. I'm not saying lie. The building really is fire free and any measure of common sense validates that. They don't just randomly go into buildings looking for fire. They came to this one because of an alarm but the origin of the alarm was explained and it had nothing to do with fire so no need to actually inspect the building to verify that it isn't on fire. The problem is when we let the rule replace common sense. Let's try and use our brains for once.

What kinds of pointless legalism and blind adherence to rules have you had to deal with?

5 comments Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day to all those who enjoy such days. This is the third part of a series in the exploits of SYP. If you need to start at the beginning of the series please visit part 1 and part 2.

Last we saw SYP he was locked in the church with the Naïve Intern and 138 teens. The Naïve Intern had planned most of the evening's events including a surprise Murder Mystery event. The only other help able to make it for the evening is Griz, an old, grumpy worker that would give Mother Theresa flak for not living up to his standards. Griz was picking up much needed supplies for all the unexpected attendees.

SYP looked around the room trying to pick out some of the more reliable students. The Sickly Student was able to make it. That was great since she was going to be one of the major parts in the murder mystery game. There was Drumdom, the worship band drummer, and Di his girlfriend. Kelly was here and she was another of the student leaders. As he looked around he saw a couple dozen more or less reliable students. He would have to push them a bit for the night but they would do well to keep things organized. They would be his eyes and ears. Some of them were more mature than him so things would go pretty smooth with their help.

In the dark corners of the room he saw a couple getting a bit too comfortable. Just as he started heading that direction a scream pierced his ears. Heart pounding he whirled to see Jan on the floor a small pool of blood starting to spread from her chest. He ran to her pushing students out of his way. He rolled her to find a knife sticking deep into her ribs.

"Did anyone see what happened?"

The students gasped and pulled back. They were shocked and surprised. He heard crying and one girl screaming, "Oh, no who would have done this to Jan?"

At that moment he felt they had enough and pulled Jan to her feet, knife still sticking in her blood stained shirt. Some students were slow on the uptake and screamed when she took a bow. Most figured it out and started clapping.

"It seems we have a murder on our hands," SYP announced to the group. "Those who were near the scene might have a clue who did it. Tomorrow morning any person able to identify the killer will be entered for a chance to win the Wii. You will need to know the killer's motive as well. As you investigate you will need to share information and help with certain tasks to uncover further clues. Be careful who you approach and what you share because the killer is out there and he or she might have accomplices carrying a variety of weapons. If you are dead you can't claim your prize."

Jan took another bow and the crowd cheered her on. SYP heard several friends congratulating her on the ear piercing scream. SYP knew it was coming but it did scare him for a moment as well. The excitement was spreading through the crowd as he listened in on whispers of plans for finding out who killed Jan and why. It would get much more complicated as the night went on and multiple murders and attempted murders added to the confusion. The Naïve Intern had really out done himself.

SYP remembered the couple in the corner and turned but saw they were gone. The scream must have scared them off each other for the time being but he knew the energy of the event would bring them back together soon. Too bad he didn't see who they were before Jan went down. Then he could warn some of his Student Leaders and the Naïve Intern who to watch for. Then again, with this many students it would probably be best not to focus on any specific couple.

He started looking for the Naïve Intern to congratulate him on the first death of the night and warn him to watch out for couples getting too friendly. He spotted him on the far side of the room. As SYP was trying to make a beeline to him through all the students he spied the couple necking behind the tables setup for the pizzas. He veered off to break this couple up when Sam stopped him to try and get some information on the murder. By the time SYP had convinced Sam that he was more like a referee and unable to give clues or bargain for anything the couple has disappeared again. As SYP thought about it he was certain that it was the same guy but a different girl. He sighed as he realized just how long the night was going to be.

SYP made it to where he had seen the Naïve Intern but he was somewhere else as well. That is when he saw the girl from the first couple holding hands with another guy. It seemed that there was some drama going on outside the planned murders. Hopefully it wouldn't be as violent but his experience with teen love told him that it would probably turn much, much worse.

He saw the Naïve intern and kept his eyes on him as he parted a sea of sweaty teens. He saw other couples forming but he knew that if he didn't regroup with the Naïve Intern this would get out of control quickly.

"Niv, we need to get with some of our student leaders and try to keep things from getting out of control. There is some major drama brewing and some of these kids can't keep their hands off each other. I'm going to turn the lights up and you get the next part of the mystery going."

"Sup, we can't get ahead of schedule or people will get bored later in the night."

"Listen, Griz is getting the pizzas and supplies and we have way too many teens for just the two of us. If we can keep them occupied till the food gets here we'll do alright. While they are all eating we can discuss how things will go with the student leaders and adjust for so many extra visitors."

"Fine but don't turn the lights up till after the next scene. It will look better without full light. I'll need a few minutes to find the players and get them in place."

"Sounds good, and try to put some space between that couple as you get going." SYP indicated a guy and girl that were groping each other nearby. They seemed to be getting braver and SYP wondered if the light would control the teens as they were drawn to each other.

SYP broke apart 5 more couples as he went to the light controls in the back. He hoped it wouldn't take the Naïve Intern long to get things going. More than that for the first time since he started working in this church he was wishing that Griz was with him.

He had reached the controls and saw another guy kissing a girl. As he started to interrupt he was shocked to see the Sickly Student. He didn't think she was dating anyone and she tended to be one of the most responsible people he knew of any age because of her illness. He had to stop himself from yelling as he talked to them, "SS, what are you thinking?"

"Sorry Sup, I don't really know what came over me," she breathed as she pushed the guy away from her.

SS's eye seemed red so SYP didn't push it. She was a young girl and needed to be able to act out from time to time. This was pretty tame and she was usually so careful.

"You did it!" The emotional outburst shook the room. Everyone turned to see who was yelling.

"You killed my sister." It was Sarah, Jan's sister. The crowd figured out this was the next scene. It seemed all the couples had split up for the time being so that much of the plan was working.

"I … I don't know what you're talking about." Mark was back pedaling as he stuttered.

"Yes, you do. She loved you and you killed her." Sarah raised her hand revealing a very real looking pistol.

"Hold on. You don't know what …" The report from the gun cut him off.

SYP jumped. That was a real gun. Mark was falling in slow motion as smoke curled from the gaping mouth of the gun. Sarah just started laughing as people began to scream. Some thought it was part of the show but most were looking for cover. SYP started to run towards the scene when the Naïve Intern grabbed the still laughing Sarah by the wrist and wrestled the gun from her. It fired two more times into the ceiling as they fought but the Naïve Intern was triumphant and then he took her hand as they turned to the crowd to take a bow. Mark stood up and took another bow.

The audience roared their approval as they came from their hiding places. Once the noise died down the Naïve Intern announced, "It seems Sarah believes she knows who our murder is and has resorted to murder herself. Does she know any part of the truth? You only have 6 more hours to solve this mystery. It is best that you not waste time lurking in dark spaces when murder is afoot."

This must be one of the surprises that hadn't been shared with SYP. How had the Naïve Intern obtained the pistol and blanks for this? That had nearly scared the crap out of him. SYP needed to try and figure out what other plans the Naïve Intern might have.

That is when SYP remembered that he was going to turn the lights on. He had made it most of the way to where Sarah had "shot" Mark before he figured out what was happening. He rushed back to the light controls already seeing some couples getting friendly now that the excitement was ebbing. He could have sworn he heard "brains" being mumbled somewhere in the crowd. Probably some teens goofing around talking about watching horror flicks.

As SYP turned on the lights two things stuck him instantly. Nearly half the room was paired up and things were much uglier than he expected.

It seemed that everyone looked like they were half dead. Had the Naïve Intern somehow put makeup on everyone? Their eyes were sunk in and their skin seemed to be hanging off their bones. He could distinctly hear groaning calls coming from the mob. "Boobs" and "Bums" seemed to predominate the sounds he could make out.

What on earth was going on?

Will SYP and the Naïve Intern survive? Will Griz ever make it back with pizza? Who really killed Jan? Who shot JR? Join us next week, same SYP time same SYP blog.

Editor's note: In classic Zombie survival movies the zombies seem only able to utter a single word, "brains." Since these zombies are driven by a desire other than noming on brains it is only natural that they call after other parts of the body. As a guy it seemed reasonable that the zombies would speak of female body parts that adolescent boys are obsessed with. Since I am not female I don't know what girls would really groan after. I considered leaving in brains since wit, intelligence, and humor all come from the brain and girls often say these are important. I decided, though, that these girls had been reduced to base desires and so were not too concerned with talking and getting to know the people they are sucking face with. Since my favorite Zombie survival movie is also a British comedy, Shaun of the Dead, it seemed reasonable that the girls would become British in their carnal longing and so they go on calling for bums. This is a reference to bottoms and not homeless people. I hope this helps make that part clear.

8 comments Friday, February 13, 2009

I have mentioned the 24-7 prayer that we are planning. I explained how I feel God has led us to this and quite frankly God is working well to pave the way. Unfortunately I am running headlong into some of the same old crap that is the basis for why we need this.

I recently got an email forwarded to me by one of the other Youth ministers that I am working closely with to get the ball rolling on this. He informed a member of the local ministerial alliance so they could get the other ministers clued in and moving forward on this. OK fine we talked about this and it needed to happen. The guy responded back, "At some point I'd like to give you an outsider's (or insider's -- depending on where you stand) perspective on how some will understand/misunderstand the message of 24/7 and the video you put together." I get so frustrated with this guy. This attitude is the same kind of crap that pervades the ministerial alliance here. They can't get anything done because they focus on every little reason why they can't do anything. Before he started "helping" us we were doing just fine working with other churches. He is so concerned at all the little problems that might arise because we are non-liturgical and might offend liturgical churches with our mode of prayer or outreach or whatever. He wastes all our time in any meeting he is in focusing on the most useless details and we can't get anything done. Thank God that he doesn't come to every meeting. I'm sure somehow he is probably right, but in truth we have been working with the local Catholic parish since we got started and if they can live with our differences then I figure every church can.

The following is a public service announcement to this individual and anyone else that thinks like him.

I'm sick of worrying about who I may or may not offend. Let's face it, Jesus offended lots of people. Imagine if He had spend all His time worrying about that. There in Gethsemane He would have been all, "Hey Dad, I know that the whole cross thing is suppose to go down tomorrow but I've been thinking that the Jews will call it cursed and the Gentiles foolish and we don't want to offend them. Sure we are talking about salvation for the entire world but hey offending people is really the thing we should be worrying about. Let's go ahead and call this off for now and do a few more planning meetings. Ok sure we did have like an infinite number of them already but you can never have enough meetings to discuss every detail." The conversation would go on for hours and the disciples couldn't be blamed for falling to sleep.

Holy freakin' crap let's just get the job done. If you are so worried about offending people then just stay in bed because you are going to offend people. If Jesus, as in God Himself, offended people then what hope do we have with all our plans on how not to offend people. Sure we can worry about doing blatantly stupid things, but go check out the video we don't say anything particularly offensive. Ok I say the word "hell" and I say that thousands are going there in our little town. If that offends you then you probably aren't concerned with praying for the lost so I'm not going to worry too much if you don't join us. In fact I don't really care if you want to join our little group. More than that if you don't believe in hell and the fact that Jesus is the only way then I will go so far as to say that I hope you don't ever try to join our group so long as you hold to that view. I don't have time to put up with people that don't get it so get out of my way and let me do what God has called us all to do.

Come on, if we are going to worry about every little thing then don't even get up in the morning. Any number of things could happen so why bother living at all.

Hey if this offended you then get over it. I know not nice but deal with it. I don't really feel like putting up with anyone that gets so easily offended. Instead of getting angry with me why don't you just go do what God is calling you to do? Oh you don't think God is calling you to tell people about Jesus or something? Try reading your Bible. Time and time again this is spelled out. Jesus came to Earth and lived, died, and lived again just to save you and then asked you to go tell others about it even if it offends them. He said they would be offended and even hate you. Get over it. Boo hoo they don't like me … blah blah blah … What did they torture you and hang you on a cross to die? No? Really? Jesus went through that and totally forgave the guys doing it so grow up and stop focusing on the crap.

Now get off your hump and do something useful with your life instead of complaining to me because I'm about to put us both out of our misery via my steel toed size 12 upside your head.

This has been a public service announcement by Nick the Geek's disgruntled twin, Jon the Grump.

6 comments Thursday, February 12, 2009

So the new people trend continued last night but with much less drama. We had great weather so most everyone was outside before service started. I decided a few things from that experience. First, we need some new sports equipment. The basketball was totally flat and very hard to play with. We also need more great weather play games most the night kind of days. We have a local park not far away with plenty of things to do so I'm thinking field trip and bring our portable sound system. It'll be fun. Some people don't enjoy growth.

One of my youth told me last night, "I wish those people would go home," indicating a large group of new people. I asked her why thinking maybe there was some underlying drama but she was totally honest in her reply, "I like it when it is smaller. It's more special." I think that is the reason many churches and Youth groups don't grow. People like it small and special so they work to keep it that way.

I'm not sure how to fix that concept but my plan is to try and make it more fun the more people we have. With many things there is a kind of critical mass that is required before things get really exciting. Certain games and such get way better with more people. Speaking of games. I have one that we can't play all that often because we need people who have never played it before. We now have plenty of new bodies so I'll be rolling it out soon. Details to come.

Anyways, the weather was perfect before during and shortly after service. Just as the last group, mostly new kids, was heading out it started raining. They were getting ready to leave because it started sprinkling. They went inside and made plans but by the time they actually started to leave it was raining really hard. I offered them a ride but they said, "We're grown up enough to walk home in the rain." I just smiled and told them if they changed their minds they could come back for a ride. A couple minutes after they left the rain and wind picked up into a rain I hadn't seen since I was in a typhoon. Near vertical rain driving at 50mph so heavy you couldn't see 5'. It was wild. They turned around and walked back through that and came in soaking wet. It was terrible but so freakin' funny at the same time. Anyways, I gave them a ride to their homes in the church van. It was nice to talk with them on the way. Only one had been to the church before the rest came with her for the first time that night. So I got to spend several minutes talking with them while I served them.

We lost power at the house because of that so no update till now, but we have power back and my daughter is getting much better. We were going to take her to daycare for the first time today but she's still a bit sick for that. Hopefuly tomorrow she'll be well enough to go. We are planning on doing our V-day together time tomorrow since we have a party planned for the youth on Saturday. Actaully that is pretty cool since we are workgin with several churches in this event which is one of the things I'm really excited about.

Comments Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hey quick update on why my updates are a bit off schedule. My youngest daughter is ill and so my time is somewhat used up there. It isn't some life threatening thing so long as we keep her hydrated. If I had to guess I'd say it was rotavirus. My oldest had this and it was pretty much the same thing. She survived with no major problems but it does take quite a bit of my time right now so I'll probably off schedule for another day or two. It would be totally cool if you prayed for her though. Back to your regularly scheduled post.

Right now I'm working to get 24/7 prayer going in my area. This, of course, means I've been spending a lot of time thinking about prayer. This week is a week of prayer and fasting for my church as well. In all of this extra time dwelling on prayer I've been wondering what Jesus had to say on prayer.

See now you are already reciting the Lord's prayer and mentally breaking it down into its base parts just like you've heard a million times, but I'm going somewhere else today. There are very few specific things that Jesus tells us to pray for. One of them is found in Matthew 9:38. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Other translations say "ask" or "beseech" instead of pray so some people looking in their NIV will say "that isn't about prayer." For you I suggest that you let context be your guide. Jesus wants us to ask the Lord of the Harvest for something. The Lord of the Harvest, in this context, is God. When we ask God for something that is called prayer. In other words, just because the word pray isn't used in every translation doesn't mean that this isn't a command to prayer. On a side note I typically use the NIV so I'm not knocking it.

Now that that is settled what is going on here? Jesus knows that the job is huge and that more people need to be involved so He commands us to pray on the subject, but it's more than that. In the corresponding passage in Luke he tells them to pray for workers then sends them out to do the work.

That is the key. You can't pray for patience without agreeing to trials that will stretch and test your patience. It is just the way it works. You can't pray for workers without agreeing to be a worker in the harvest. That is just how it works.

You: Hey God I think it would be super awesome if you would send Nick the Geek workers for Youth because the harvest is ripe.

God: Hey nice try praying for workers like my son commanded, and it is really cool how you tried to find a loophole by praying for some one's ministry that is way far away from you so you won't have to help out, but guess what? Yep every time you see a teen your heart will break for them until you start helping in the harvest because you have put this prayer into your heart and I am answering it in full.

That is how it works. Ok maybe not exactly like that but pretty close. Real catch 22 though because if you want to pray for good and righteous things like James tells us to do then you have to pray for this, but if you want to have some peace in not helping reach the lost then you can never pray for this. What to do, what to do?

I know this, there is nothing better than to walk in God's will. He calls us all to pray for workers because He calls us all to become workers. That is God's will. If you have ever been sitting in church wondering why God doesn't speak to you like these other people it is probably because you aren't listening to the plain and clear. This is it. God gives this command to all of us and when we are ready to move forward then we will start hearing more and more from Him. The other cool thing about praying for workers is that you should be going into it knowing you are one of the workers. You are basically calling for backup and God is so amazing that He will put the call in the hearts of others. Sure it might take a while before you get your backup. How long did it take before you started walking in God's will in this? Yeah people were praying for your help long before you finally caved so start praying now for workers because we are slow to respond, but God is perfect in everything so if you start praying now He will work the timing out and those workers will be there when you must have them.

Finally, some people might be thinking, "Hey today you are suppose to be talking about your Young Adult Class." Yeah so this was part of our discussion last night so there it is.

2 comments Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ryan B put up a great post that I really wish I had come up with. Go check it out.


This is actually dated technology but it is coming mainstream sooner than I expected, which is wicked awesome. I first became aware of this kind of thing 4 years ago and last year (or late 2007) Apple showed some places they are headed with the technology. MS has started showing what they are planning and is talking actual rollout. Basically I need a few grand for the commercial unit but in 3 years or so they will be much more affordable so I'm gonna have to start saving now.

Me want.


So I just got done watching License to Wed with Robin Williams. I know I'm a bit behind having just watching the movie but it is totally relevant for the monthly topic so I'm willing to let my cool factor take a hit so I can make a point.

If you haven't seen the movie it is about a couple that want to get married and the minister asked to perform the marriage insists on a very intense premarital counseling program. Robin Williams, who plays the minister, is pretty irreverent at times. There is one scene in particular in which he is "healing" someone that really pushed the boundaries, but honestly I laughed pretty hard the whole time I was thinking, "he is going to get struck by lightening for this."

The movie can be pretty irreverent, but the topic is so important. The way they get to the point is like a caricature of what reality should be. That is what Robin Williams really does anyways. The whole time I'm laughing so hard because I get it. I really understand how important these things are and I'm thinking, "what would happen if ministers took marriage this seriously?"

Can you believe it? It take Robin Williams being totally off the wall for me to think that ministers aren't really taking marriage seriously. I know some do. Personally I do. I have decided I am not doing any weddings unless I am satisfied with the premarital counseling that they couple has gone through. I went through it at my own request. I have read several books on the subject and considered quite a few different styles. I have my own program that I have meshed together so it will be in place when needed. I've even had to teach one class for a couple that got married last summer. My senior pastor asked me to do the class on finances because he felt the couple needed to sit in with someone closer to their age so they would be more able to relate.

One of the authors that I have read, the name slips my mind at this point and my books are at the church, takes 8 weeks and spends the first 4 weeks trying to get the couple to break up. Then if the couple survives he equips them to thrive in marriage the remaining weeks. That is a pretty cool idea and that's basically what they do in License to Wed. They say in some of the commentaries and such, yeah I'm the person they put that stuff in for, that they thought through what they do to this couple. The point is to basically give them 30 years of marriage in 3 weeks. That's a cool idea.

I don't know if I can say this is a must see movie. If you are ever offended by what Jon writes at SCL or what I write for that matter then this movie is definately not for you, but if you can laugh at yourself and get that sometimes we need to see what we look like through the world's eye then definately watch this movie. I told my wife if they had a burning ring of fire or explosion I would have run to the store right then and there. As it is I'll probably be watching for it to go on sale. Heck I'm thinking of keeping this movie for a couple of days to show one of the scenes to my Youth group. It will cost me antoehr dollar or two but it is so funny.

Have you seen this movie? What did you think?

5 comments Sunday, February 8, 2009

Back in August I wrote a post about Love and Relationship: or how you deal with a homosexual.

Basically I expressed my frustration with how so many Christians express themselves towards GBLT oriented people and that is still true. Jake aka the comment novelist made a comment there today that I replied to. Long story short I'm reposting my comment because it ended up being super long and it bears saying often.


Thanks for being so open. I believe we need to do all that we can to try and reach people everywhere where ever they are. That is not a redundant statement. I specifically mean everywhere in the world where ever they are spiritually.

I think Christians really freak about certain sins as if they are more dirty than other sins and then they see the wrong thing as "sinful."

As a gay man I'm sure you can say that who you are attracted to is not a choice any more than who I am attracted to is a choice. We are who we are.

I do believe that being gay is not a sin any more than being straight is a sin. It is what we do with who we are that is sinful and so separates us from God.

Since we have all sinned in who we are then we are all living with a death sentence. Jesus came to restore us to God. He did an awesome job of it. I think the woman that was dragged before him as an adulteress is the best example. He sat there and drew in the sand while they were going on and on about how evil her sin was. Then they sat and watched while he continued to draw before he finally answered them.

"Let the one among you that is without sin cast the first stone."

BAM! He totally said that out loud. I know there are many times I've thought stuff like that and later when I tell the story I'll say, "and I was all like ..." then they'll say, "wow you said that?" So I have to respond, "No, but I thought it real loud."

Jesus actually said it though. Those guys started leaving. He completely diffused the situation and literally saved this woman's life right then and there. They wanted to throw rocks at her till she was dead and he stopped them. That is amazing, but it gets better.

After the last of them realized they couldn't go pick up a rock and chunk it at the lady Jesus turns to her and say, "where are your accusers?"

She replies, "they are gone."

"Neither do I condemn you," he says. He doesn't condemn her even though he is without sin. By his own statement he could have tossed the stone but he chooses not to. He chooses grace. That is powerful. It is the second most powerful thing he says in this encounter.

He finishes with the command "go and leave your life of sin." That is powerful. He doesn't condemn her but he doesn't want her to condemn herself with her continuing actions. He makes it clear here that she is in sin but he is letting her go. He also makes it clear that she needs to get out of it.

This is why Jesus changed lives around him. He loved people and so didn't condemn them. He loved people and so didn't leave them in their death and sin.

I really wish the church would get it. I wish Christians would stop making things either legalistic or sloppy agape. It isn't a question slapping all these rules on people and condemning them, but it isn't about saying grace covers it all so live life for today for tomorrow may never come.

We have to love people enough that we refuse to condemn them, but we also have to love people enough that we help them get up out of their sin.

2 comments Saturday, February 7, 2009

The last student walked in 28 minutes late and SYP closed and locked the doors behind her. So begins the next adventure of Super Youth Pastor. For details on the origins of SYP please see the following posts:

Even as he locked the doors the tension in Super Youth Pastor began to lift. The Naïve Intern had some great plans for games and pranks. SYP was really looking forward to scaring the teens early the next morning. Somewhere in the back of his mind a voice that sounded suspiciously like Super Wife warned him that the planned fun might be dangerous. She wasn't here to give strength to that voice and the call of awesomeness easily won out. SYP absentmindedly thumbed through the permission slips and medical release forms as he thought about everyone who couldn't make it to help for the night. It seemed odd that only the Naïve Intern and Griz, an older youth worker that seemed to believe the Salem Witch Trials were conducted to deal with out of line teens, were the only volunteers that could make it this evening. It seemed even stranger that almost every regular Youth came to the event and even brought friends. The Youth room had never been so full.

Even though all of this wondered through his mind it was a passing thought that glowed dimly against SYP's excitement over having so many Youth at this event. The Naïve Intern may not know soteriology from a soda bottle, but the kids loved him and so did SYP.

SYP had finished counting all the forms. His heart skipped a beat. 138. That couldn't be right. 138 students and only 3 adults? The voice in the back of his head got a little louder as he counted again. Once again he counted 138. The youth had never been more than 70 before. Nearly double in this one event. The worry was a little brighter, but if the worry was twice as bright the pride and excitement was ten times as bright. SYP was trying to do the math in his head. They had expected maybe 80 kids. They ordered 20 pizzas and that wouldn't be nearly enough. He would have to call for more. Griz would have to run and get more soda too. They had charged $5 per student which meant $690 for the night. They needed 40 pizzas, double what they had ordered. That would cost a total of $200 plus the sodas. Even counting the money they spent on secret supplies for later that night they wouldn't have trouble with expenses. That was a great feeling considering all the times he had come up short and over budget.

SYP called to get the extra pizzas and then went into the gym. He could smell the drama. Despite the pounding music and flashing lights he could hear the whispers about this guy or that girl. People that had been friends until this week and the breakup and make-ups, it was almost unbearable to hear all the murmurs at once like that. SYP tried to focus but that only made things worse. Eventually all the activity distracted him, which did much more to alleviate the discomfort than any concentration he could muster.

He grabbed the mic to make some quick announcements.

"Good evening everyone."

Hmm, hardly anyone responded. Maybe they didn't hear him.

"I said good evening."

Yep, much better that time.

"Tonight someone is going to die." He waited for the gasps to settle before he continued, "That's right, some time tonight one of you will die. It will be your job to try and solve the murder. No one will be allowed in or out so our killer cannot escape."

The crowd seemed to be catching on. The first big surprise was that this evening was a murder mystery lock-in. The Naïve Intern had helped him plan the whole thing. There would be games, clues, and staged events through the night. If all went according to plan they would easily double attendance at the next event. He could already hear the whispers about what friends will wish they had come and could see the not so inconspicuous texting to friends that thought they would rather stay home.

"Through the evening and morning members of our drama team will be spreading rumors and truth. Use your skills to sort the fact from the fiction and piece together the clues. The lucky person who solves the crime will win a new Wii."

The crowd was really getting excited and the mention of the prize pushed them over the edge. They were cheering and SYP had to wait for them to quiet down before he continued.

"Before we continue let me share a few rules."

  1. No leaving the gym without permission
  2. No PDA aka making Purple, bright pink, or bright blue
  3. No fighting
  4. You must listen to me, the Naïve Intern, and Griz
  5. We will call your parents to pick you up if there is a problem

"Mostly we want you to have a fun and safe evening. We will be having pizza and soda a little later and the murder will be soon. Until then have fun."

The music and lights started up again and the teens started talking again. Along the back wall he had setup a bank of video games. They were playing some zombie game. SYP couldn't remember any zombie games so they must have brought it with them. He considered shutting it down but then figured he wouldn't worry about it. That sort of thing might bother Griz though.

Griz, shoot SYP had forgotten to tell him to go get the sodas. SYP scanned the crowd and saw Griz lecturing some young couple. SYP guessed Griz had caught them holding hands or some other terrible sin.

"Hey Griz," SYP called as he walked up on the scene. "I'll take care of this. I need you to grab a bunch of extra sodas. Run up to me office and get the checkbook and a tax exempt form then go get more two liters and ice."

"But Sup," Griz started to say.

"Don't worry about it, we'll keep the hordes at bay while you get supplies," SYP interrupted.

The teen couple seemed relieved. Griz must have really been giving it to them though. They looked pale, poor kids. SYP smiled at them as Griz left.

"Don't worry about him too much. He'd gripe at Jesus for not wiping his feet when he got into the boat after walking on water."

The couple groaned. Coming from teenagers it was somewhere between a grunt and a moan. SYP chuckled a little inside. These kids felt more strongly than they would at any other age but were so insecure they couldn't really express themselves.

Just then the Naïve Intern bounded up.

"Hey Sup," he shouted. "Awesome showing tonight. We're gonna knock them dead with the mystery game."

"That was a great idea. They really got excited when they found out."

"Yeah, the surprises are gonna make them freak. Heh, I even planned a few that you don't know about. Better watch your back."

He was already disappearing into the crowd with that last statement.

What did Griz catch those two teens doing? Will he get too many diet sodas? What crazy plans does the Naïve Intern have? Tune in next week. Same SYP time same SYP channel.

3 comments Friday, February 6, 2009

I love watching the show Psych. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows on TV. It finally occurred to me why I love it so much. It is like they are reading my mind and building Shawn around me. The constant 80s pop references are what clued me in. If you want to know what a day in my head is like watch the show.

Now I just need to find a Gus and I can start my own psychic detective agency. Anyone know any extremely uptight black guys looking for a partner?


I'm going to claim this is planned, that I am writing this late as my freaky Friday flip, but the truth is that yesterday I worked real late making a video/audio clip to show to churches inviting them to join in a 24/7 prayer. If you are interested you can visit www.UNITEsmc.org/24-7/media/ and check it out. Now to my point for today.

What if we told stories backwards? You have the happy ending at the beginning. Life is perfect and then evil arises. The first battle with evil is intense and each battle after that is slightly easier as the hero forgets just how evil the villain really is. Eventually the hero and heroine settle into life separately surrounded by evil at every step but ignorant of what is out there.

I think we don't tell stories like that because it mirrors life too closely. As I've been preparing some of the Super Youth Pastor stories I've been going through my old creative writing books to refresh myself on how to build up to the climax and the path of the hero.

The path of the hero is compelling because the hero starts life just like us and is thrust into being great. The hero is made to overcome everything but just barely. Initially the hero is typically given help, but in the end they do it all on their own. I think that is why we like it. The story appeals to a sense deep within us that we can do it on our own. Of course this isn't true.

If the story followed reality it would probably run backwards until the hero finally got enough people supporting him. Through support he could overcome, but only with the help of others. We need each other if we will overcome. When we work in unity following God nothing can withstand.

That said, join me tomorrow to see how Super Youth Pastor moves along the path of the hero.

4 comments Thursday, February 5, 2009

There is an old saying, "Be careful what you wish for you just might get it." I don't know a better way to say this that that is the most freakin' true thing ever. I have been working on getting the Youth to grow and it has been very slowly building. I was just starting to think that I needed to get a couple of people in training to help with the Youth because we would need it soon at the rate the group has been growing. Basically I figured I had 2-3 months before it became an issue. Tonight proved me wrong. I have been saying that f most of the semi-regulars ever showed up the Youth would be back to what it was when I first took over before some of the fallout from a few events mostly out of my control. That almost happened tonight, but there was also a convergence of visitors resulting in more Youth than we have had since I've been coming. At the same time a couple of my workers weren't there and multiple dramas were unfolding resulting in me having to run around like mad putting out fires everywhere.

In my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined packing the building out like that so quickly. I was almost totally overwhelmed and of course it was on a night that I was talking about sex. I think I could outgrow our building in a couple of months if I plan on talking sex every week. I've only talked sex twice but each time we have multiple visitors.

I need to get some helpers and get them now. I don't know how I'm gonna get the people I need and get them trained by next week. In all likely hood the group won't be quite so large next week. This was a confluence of events leading to doubling the size of the group in one week, but I need the people in place for the next time something like this happens.

How do you get people involved with service? How do you wish leadership would go about getting you involved with service?

2 comments Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I've started yet another blog. I had an idea and I figured I'd make a blog for it. Go check it out.



When I was a very young child I got my fingers caught in an elevator door. I don't know if the door didn't have a safety release or if my fingers were just too small to make it swing back open all by itself. I do know that the door didn't open till it reached the next floor and that my fingers stayed in the door until it opened. I figure this is the basis for my disdain for elevators. I can ride in one but I feel out of sorts until I get off. Anything annoying is amplified and quite frankly if the elevator ever got stuck I would tear the thing apart to get out. A few other things make me feel that way and I'm ok with that because I know what makes me anxious and I confront those feelings take a deep breath and move on.

I discovered today that I am much more social than I realized. I never considered myself antisocial. I love people. That is really all there is to it. I will talk to most anyone and pretty much everyone is my best friend until they are out of sight. I don't turn on them when they are gone I just tend to not think about them until something prompts me. Often the thing that causes me to think about them is their presence at which point I remember that I said I'd do something for them which I forgot all about because I stopped thinking about them the moment they were out of sight. These are all things I know.

I have thought, however, that I do not require the face to face social interaction that I fall so easily into. It turns out that I do but didn't know it because I was meeting whatever level my brain needs by working and going to school. My whole life I have had regular contact with people for several hours a day. Now I spend much more time in front of a computer and much less time with people. I do make a habit of visiting people throughout the day. I talk to the church secretary regularly and make quite a few phone calls. I haven't had the kind of interaction that I need apparently because I have been feeling off lately. I know that some of this is SAD which I wrote about yesterday but there is something more than that. In the past two days I've been able to spend about 5 hours more per day with people just talking and not just business. I got to laugh and be myself, which is hard to do with church people, and generally had a good time. After each of these events I felt better. It has dawned on me that I need more social interaction.

I have never been without it so I never knew how much I needed it. This is a huge problem for me because I don't know how to get past it. The reason I opened with the elevator story is because this extra feeling that I haven't been able to put a finger on is the same feeling I get when I'm on an elevator, just a general sense of unease.

The good news is that I can address this by getting more social interaction. I am learning so much about myself lately. It seems so strange to be 30 and suddenly learn new things about yourself. I'd think after 30 years I'd have a pretty good idea who I am … So for the spiritual curve ball … wait for it … Isn't it cool that God can say He knows us before we are born when we don't really know ourselves after years of being ourselves? Didn't see that coming did ya?

So what things have you discovered about yourself lately? More importantly, what things should I do to up my social interaction.

6 comments Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I think I'm SAD. This is not an admision to depression but rather a statement about some disorder that people for centuries have suffered in silence with because they didn't have an acronym for it.

If you are not aware S.A.D is Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a fun little disorder where people tend to get moody, depresses, suffer from various sleep disorders, and all kind of other things like that. It is typically tied to the winter. I knew years before I was aware of this disorder that winter doesn't agree with me. I think it is the length of daylight that does me in. I'd die in the real north. I can't hardly sleep if the sun is up. The few times I've had to because of working nights or illness I've had to cover my windows with foil and heavy drapes. Once the sun goes down I get extremely tired and so I have to sort of reset myself everyday when the sun is setting too early. This means that when I'm ready to actually go to sleep my mind still isn't registering that so I lay in bed awake for a very long time and then wake up regularly all night long. It is very frustrating to not go to sleep till 1 or 2 am and wake up 10 times between when I go to sleep and wake up for the last time. The past few days that has been about 4:30. So I get a good 2.5 hours of regularly interrupted sleep. Yeah me.

It does make me wonder why they named it that. Seriously. I imagine that the name was to make the acronym cool because Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn't quite sound useful. This is the conversation I assume resulted in the name.

Psychologist 1: I've noticed that I get irritable during the winter and wish I could just crawl into a cave to hibernate.

Psychologist 2: Yeah me too, I was beginning to think I was just being pathetic.

Psychologist 1: No your just sad.

Psychologist 2: You know I've always wanted to name a disorder that. It ends with a D so it would work with the word "disorder" at the end

Psychologist 1: Why do you always make air quotes like that. It is kind of annoying.

Psychologist 2: I'm gonna let that slide, it is just your SAD talking. So what do the first two letters stand for anyway?

Psychologist 1: What about Seasonally Affected Disorder?

Psychologist 2: How do you make that italic sound with your voice? Never mind. I think that is close but needs to be tweaked some. We know that the V really makes the disease. How about Seasonal Affective Disorder? Hey I did it. Good buy air quotes.

At least that is how I reconstruct the conversation.

Presumably there are some drugs I can take for this disorder. There are also drugs I can take for ADHD. I think the cure for both is exercise. In addition to the issues with the sun I never get as much exercise in the winter. I think this is a huge difference. Exercise does a lot of things to counter the symptoms of SAD. Specifically it releases endorphins that alleviate depression and allow the mind to rest at night. It is important to not work out too close to bed time though because those same chemicals will actually keep you awake. When they wear off, though, your brain is able to shut down more effectively. This means more rest and so less fatigue and more energy.

Interestingly I think all of these same things apply to ADD/ADHD. When I was a kid they would have had me and all my friends on drugs. I still have the attention span of a gnat. Actually I'm certain gnats have much longer attention spans otherwise they would lose interest in pestering me and move on to something useful. The difference between when I was a kid and now is excersize. Anyone 30 or older must remember running the neighborhood all day. Literally I would get home from school and run out to play. Didn't get my homework done because of that. All of my friends did it and we would play all kids of games that involved running. The games would last till dinner and we would beg to go play after dinner till dark. Our parents were happy to let us play in the street so they didn't have to put up with our pent up energy. Parents now are happy to give their kids powerful drugs so they don't have to deal with the pent up energy or worry about the potential for cars.

Personally I'm more worried about mind altering drugs in children than I am about cars in my neighborhood so my kids get lots of exercise. They are skinny things too. We can't get clothes that fit them. Anything that is long enough it about 2 sizes too big. My poor kids' pants are always falling down even with belts on.

This ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would. I was just thinking about why I haven't been sleeping and why I'm so stressed lately even though I feel like I shouldn't be so I figured I post an extra today.


Today's title bout features two super heavy weights in the emotions that drive us. I wrote the following for our local paper on behalf of another organization that submits a weekly column to the paper. I was limited to 500 words so I chose to edit my writing on the fly. I had the general outline of what I was writing and so I knew about how many words I had left as I went along. This made the overall process easier, but it is still quite difficult to fit such a dense subject into such a small package. In the end I had about 550 words so I had to go back and remove a few sentences. After that I had 507 words so I went back and found 7 words that I could remove. In the end I submitted exactly 500 words. Overall I was pretty happy with it but since I don't have such a limit I will be adding some to what I wrote. Those new parts will be in italics.


For one human being to love another that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof; the work for which all other work is but preparation.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Love is eternal where lust is temporary. This is a plain and apparent fact as easily seen as the nose on my face, which is quite noticeable from even a great distance. The problem comes when one confuses love and lust. Often people claim to be "in love" only to "fall out of love," but in truth they were "in lust" which is as easy to fall in to as it is to fall out of. Consider the relationship between a parent and child. This should be our basis for understanding love because it is our first experience with love. Each party must fail severely and often before love might fail. Parents who truly love their children do so regardless of the choices the child has made and regardless of how painful those choices might be. Often terrible parents are loved by their children regardless of how much it hurts for that love to not be returned. Imagine if all relationships were so pursued.

Since love will always outlast lust, the lover must take time for lust to fade so that love might grow just as a great tree must grow slowly until the weeds around it die and it can be in full sun and grow great and true; then nurture that love through respect and care. Only after those first joys of lust have passed will a couple experience true love in their relationship, the kind of love that exists beyond the hurt and pain.

It is also true that love is patient and perseveres in all things. This is why waiting for love is the only way a relationship may endure. Often a person says to another, "If you love me you will …" but the truth is that if love exists, it will be patient and forgiving. Lust demands instant gratification where love will carry through to the end. Lust is a sprinter that expends all his energy in seconds while Love is in a marathon race and she knows to keep an even pace throughout so she will not tire too quickly or stumble in the many rough places along the way.

This is why so many relationships fail, love gets confused with lust. When those feelings of joy and giddiness fade the energy of lust is spent while love is just getting started. Love must be given time to grow in the absence of lust or it will never reach its maturity. This is a difficult process because lust is passionate and intense driving a couple to spend time together where love is kind and gentle liberating a couple to their own interests. In this, individuals growing in love must overcome themselves and spend time with their love so they might experience a deeper understanding of love. If the lover were to say to the beloved, "I just do not love you anymore," the lover is lost in confusion. The lover meant to say, "I no longer lust after you." Love is an endless ocean and lust is a desert wash. The rain will cause the wash to overflow and rage intensely but once the water has flown into the ocean the wash cracks with the desert heat. Follow the water into the ocean and love will never run dry.

In this season of love, consider that love gives while lust takes. Take the time to seek out the gifts of love. The gifts of love are not available at the store but can only be found in time, empathy, and compassion. These true gifts thrive in love but suffocate in lust. When you look into those special eyes and say, "I love you" please do not lie to your heart.


Here is something pretty freakin' cool that I found on Jon's blog Prodigal Jon. I plugged the article above including editing into wordle and got this:

Wordle: Love v. Lust