Saturday, June 30, 2007

Please pray for our church (and me).

Our worship pastor left our staff this week, so we've begun the process of seeking God's direction on the next step for our church. Can't go into too many details here, but I'd appreciate your prayers for guidance, wisdom, direction, creativity and discernment as we move forward with crucial conversations and decisions.

I've been visiting the gym.

And contrary to what one friend wondered, I haven't just been "visiting" the gym; I've actually been working out. At least, that's what I call it. So far, my visits have consisted of 30-minute stints on the treadmill, run/job/walking at least 2 miles at a slight incline. Heartbeat has gotten as high as 181 on the first day, but most of the time it's been around the 150-155 range. Just this week, I made it down there on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wanted to go today, but never got away from the fireworks booth. So, I definitely need to be there tomorrow.

Fireworks: Day 3

Not a superbusy day, but we DID sell our huge $500 assortment. That was pretty cool. Other than that, a few purchases here and there. Great conversation and interaction with the volunteers at the booth, and that's always fun. But a long, long day; was up at 7AM for an 8AM coffee meeting, then the booth from 10AM until 9:30PM. Managed to get more sun than I wanted, so my face is kinda glowing tonight.

Tomorrow has a nice, strong lineup of volunteers, so I should be able to break away at some point. Our BBQ after church may bring in more customers, too!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Fireworks: Day 2

Perhaps we aren't selling as many fireworks as I'd like, but I definitely won't complain about the first two days of weather! It's been pleasant cool all day, with lovely evening breezes. This evening, some of our volunteers even grabbed sweatshirts and blankets during our long breaks between customers.

I wonder: Do people wait to buy fireworks until it FEELS like fireworks season? The temperatures will remain pleasant all weekend but should start rising next week. We might even break 100 degrees by the Fourth of July. I'm not eager for heat, but if it takes heat to bring out the customers...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fireworks: Day 1

Slow start to the fireworks booth. Didn't open until the afternoon. Warm day but nice breeze kept things tolerable. Only a few sales. Maybe slowest first day ever for me. But full weekend ahead. Lots of volunteers lined up. Lots of stuff to sell. Lots of fun to be had! But maybe few blog entries because of my insane schedule for the next six days. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

United Outreach Video.

Here's the video we created for the final service of our outreach event last week. We're doing a modified version for our students tonight. Enjoy.

Monday, June 25, 2007

5 stories worth a read: part cinq

Comin' at ya straight from Las Vegas...or Sacramento...five more stories worth your mental energy:

1. Huge auction shows boom in housing going, going, gone from the SF Chronicle (on

2. The 'new' NEA: Reading gets bigger from

3. Waiter, there's deer in my sushi from the International Herald Tribune

4. Does the iPhone have 'It'? Early signs are good from the International Herald Tribune

5. 'Sicko' not the whole story of Cuban health care from Reuters (on


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Incredible outreach week.

Wow, what an awesome six days we just had. Our youth ministry teamed up with 2 other churches for our United outreach week, and we saw God do an incredible work in our students' lives.

I'm pretty exhausted from the full week of ministry, community service, prayer, nighttime services and deep fellowship. So for now, I'll throw up a few pics for you to look through. If I have enough energy later today, I'll return with some stories and highlights from our week.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Outreach week begins.

This afternoon, we begin a weeklong outreach with 2 other nearby churches. It promises to be an awesome time as we do community service projects, worship God and reach out to our neighbors.

I'm going to attempt to blog during the week, but we have very full days planned. So if you don't see much from me over the next few days, you'll read plenty of stuff over the weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Billy Graham's wife died.

Sad to read this online just now, but glad to know she's in a better place:

    Ruth Graham, who surrendered dreams of missionary work in Tibet to marry a suitor who became the world's most renowned evangelist, died Thursday. She was 87.

    Graham died at 5:05 p.m. at her home at Little Piney Cove, surrounded by her husband and all their five children, said a statement released by Larry Ross, Billy Graham's spokesman.

    "Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team," Billy Graham said in a statement. "No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.

    "I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we've had in the mountains together. We've rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."

5 stories worth a read: part quatre

Welcome back, friends. Today we offer you an exciting edition of 5Stories, and we hope you enjoy your stay with us.

1. Berkeley street behavior law draws some unruly remarks from the San Francisco Chronicle (via

2. Survey: Working dads want more family time from CNN/

3. Futurism’s past is littered with faulty forecasts from

4. Barroso waves off notion of 'United States of Europe' from the International Herald Tribune

5. Old Latin Mass makes a comeback from the St. Louis Post Dispatch

And before you go, let's play a round of Jeopardy...
ANSWER: The reason Rob's posting on his blog before noon on his day off.
QUESTION: What is because one of his students called him at 7AM today? Ugh!

DOD: Grocery store update.

Last night after our youth service, I stopped in to check out our "re-opened" grocery store around the corner. Now that it's a Save Mart and not an Albertson's, I wanted to see if prices had changed much. The answer? Ehh, sorta. Some of their prices are now down into the Safeway (without club card specials) range, and others might be a little bit lower. In any case, it appears that many prices DID come down from the Albertsonstratosphere range. And that's good news. Having a grocery store is a good thing for a neighborhood, and it's likely I'll spend a little bit more of my money just around the block.

Me and my labels.

I still think I have too many labels for my blog. But interestingly, my list of labels here bears a lot of resemblance to my filing system in my office. Every now and then, I'll create a new folder to hold some material -- only to discover weeks later that I already HAD created a folder for that subject, leaving me with duplicate folders and wasted energy trying to find stuff.

Often I'll tell people I'm a failed perfectionist. My filing system proves it. Would Matt McGill say I'm mentally weak?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Great thought.

Best quote for today:

"Only people of weak character are won over by negativity."
- Doug Fields, "Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry"

Gas price miracle.

On my way to lunch today, I came across this glorious sight:

My apologies if you can't read it clearly; I was a couple of lanes away, so I couldn't get a really close shot. The price for unleaded has dropped to $2.99 9/10 at a local gas station. First time I've seen gas for "under" $3 in long time -- even if it IS just 1/10th of a penny less.

Back to basics.

As noted yesterday, I've been here at Antelope Christian Center for 4 years as youth pastor. I've decided one of the best things I can do to mark this occasion is to re-read "Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry" by Doug Fields. I read this book just before starting this job in 2003, so I figured this would be a good way of reminding myself where I'm doing well and where I need to continue to grow (though, some people are really good at emphasizing that latter area, in much unkinder words). Should be a fun adventure!

Monday, June 11, 2007

DOD: Our grocery store closed.

Yes folks, you read those words correctly. Our neighborhood grocery store closed today.

And I couldn't be happier.

Don't worry. I'm alright (I think). I'm happy because the "closed" store was an Alberton's location, and the "soon-to-reopen" store will be a Save Mart. I've shopped occasionally at the store because I believe in the value of a grocery store in my neighborhood, but the prices are WAY too expensive. Save Mart SHOULD have lower prices, based on what I experienced back in my Turlock days.

In any case, come Wednesday, the store will be a Save Mart, and I'll give them a shot at saving me some grocery cash from my budget.

Four years. Wow.

This totally crept up on me today. I was looking at my calendar, and I thought there was some kinda significance to June 10 or 11. Looked back a few years in my PDA and realized that four years ago yesterday, on June 10, 2003, I had my first youth service here at Antelope Christian Center.

Four years. Wow.

In one post, I can't even begin to capture all the memories, experiences, lessons, trials, challenges, and rewards I've seen over the last four years. I've been stretched, refined, challenged, satisfied, frustrated, overjoyed, overwhelmed, excited, honored -- the list goes on and on.

Four years in one job, one position marks a personal milestone for me:
* Longer than high school (August 1987-June 1991)
* Longer than college (August 1991-May 1995)
* Longer than my first post-college job (October 1995-February 1999)
* Longer than I've lived in one apartment (May 1996-March 1999)
* Longer than my stint in Berkeley (March 1999-July 2000)
* Longer than I was on a church staff in Turlock (February 2002-June 2003)

Wow. Four years. It's both easy and tough to believe it's been that long. Sometimes it seems like I just arrived here yesterday. Sometimes I feel like I've been here forever.

Guess I suddenly find myself in a pensive mood today, and thought I'd share.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

5 stories worth a read: part trois

From the land of cybermilk and honey, here are 5 stories you should read before the end of today. And none of them has anything to do with Paris Hilton. Well, maybe one of them does:

1. Viral campaign spreading: Online marketing effort may germinate into business leads from The San Francisco Chronicle (on

2. Agreement reached in street-naming squabble: Turlock commissioner's design appeals to most from The Modesto Bee

3. Clemens’ never-retiring act has grown thin from The Associated Press (on

4. Cracking Down on "Murderabilia" from Time Magazine

5. We all wanted to see Paris get fabulous comeuppance from The San Francisco Chronicle (on

As always, enjoy!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Rob got robbed.

Every now and then, Mark Oestreicher from Youth Specialties will post a photo in need of a caption. Seeing how's the big man at YS, he can actually give away a prize to the winning caption. Thus, he gets lots of entries.

This was his most recent photo:

I, along with several dozen other people, submitted our ideas, and my caption was actually considered a contender:

“Luke, I am your father. And this is your mother.”

Well, Marko decided that instead of him deciding the winner, he'd call on Josh Griffin, the uberfan of all things Star Wars, and Griff would pick da winner.

I didn't win. Joshua picked some lame caption about "Begun, the squirrel wars have."

(Actually, I did think that one was pretty funny. I just wanted to win a book.)

My only consolation is knowing that my caption got high marks from Marko's son Max, who "really loved this one." And if a 9-year-old thinks your caption is cool, who else's opinion really matters, right?

Episode 50 is not a myth.

Contrary to what I previously wrote, Episode 50 of the Simply Youth Ministry podcast is not a myth. It's now a reality. The team was back in action, but it was a swan song episode for Natalie. Apparently she's actually paid to design and create things for Simply Youth Ministry; I thought she was a professional bell-ringer.

They promise many changes for the future. We'll see. But an enjoyable episode once again (even if no one really won their "best ideas for the 50th episode" competition).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Me and my DVDs.

I own a couple of DVDs. Well, maybe more than a couple. I was stoked yesterday when I found out that the 8th season of 'Seinfeld' was finally being released on DVD. It got me thinking about all the different TV shows I own on DVD. Let's review.

The X-Files (9 seasons)
24 (Seasons 1-5; Season 6 not yet released)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (45 episodes)
The Lone Gunmen (13 episodes)
Fawlty Towers (12 episodes)

Seinfeld (Seasons 1-6; 7 & 8 on their way from
The West Wing (Seasons 1-4)
The Simpsons (Seasons 1-3)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Seasons 3 and 4)
Lost (Season 1)

5 stories worth a read: volume deux

Here are 5 more stories you should read online if you're bored, looking to grow in your potential as a human being, or owe me some kind of favor.

1. If it's not tennis elbow, it may be 'Wiiitis' from Reuters (on

2. Senior prank gets Palo Alto High School senior arrested from The San Francisco Chronicle

3. Bob Barker tapes final 'Price Is Right' from The Associated Press (on

4. British turn up their noses at London Olympics logo from the International Herald Tribune

5. Rapper with attitude updates 'Frenchness' from the International Herald Tribune

Enjoy the reads.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Food fight fun.

This is an awesome article from The Associated Press:
    Aurora, Ill. -- A high school senior accused of starting a massive food fight that left a police officer injured was among three students arrested in the prank.

    At least 200 students were in West Aurora High School's cafeteria when french fries, milk, sandwiches and pizza slices were hurled in a free-for-all, authorities said.

    "It was just insane," said senior Zach Little, who was in the cafeteria when the melee began Thursday. "Things like milk cartons, full pop bottles and blue slushies were flying around. Kids literally bought the food to throw it and, to me, that's a little expensive."

    The alleged instigator, Demetrius Oglesby, 18, faces a felony charge of resisting arrest after authorities said he ran from a police officer. The officer tripped over another student who had fallen during the food fight, breaking his foot. A school official also suffered minor injuries.

    Two juveniles also face misdemeanor charges from the incident, including a 15-year-old charged with mob action and disorderly conduct and a 14-year-old charged with assault.

    Students said rumors of the food fight had been circulating throughout the 3,000-student school all week as a senior prank.

    "A prank is something that's funny and doesn't harm anything or anyone, but a food fight is entirely different — a bad choice, bad judgment," said Principal John Glimco.

    Administrators increased security at the school 30 miles west of Chicago and closed the cafeteria on Friday. The lunch area will remain closed on Monday, the last day of classes.

    "There will be consequences for the students involved," said Mike Chapin, a spokesman for West Aurora School District 129.

Pentecostals and Charismatics.

Found a great article by Earl Creps, who teaches back at The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Mo. (For the record, my ministerial credentials are with The Assemblies of God, and I attended the A/G's main liberal arts college back in Springfield.) The article's been out for a year, but I just came across it today:
    From small beginnings the charismatic/Pentecostal movement attained global status in the 20th century, becoming one of the few renewals of its kind to enjoy a lasting influence. Expanding geographically in an almost viral fashion, the movement spread from one continent to another, earning the label of "a religion made to travel" by constantly shaping itself to what sociologist David Martin calls the "cultural receptivity" of its host.
    Academic studies of this "tourist" religion, such as Philip Jenkins' The Next Christendom, have produced a consensus: rather than disappearing from the planet, the future of Christianity is looking more and more like Southern Hemisphere Pentecostalism.

    However, these broad-scale studies can obscure the fact that the American stream of the movement, particularly in its Anglo version, is experiencing significant challenges.

5 stories worth a read

These aren't necessarily 5 stories that make the biggest headlines, and you may have seen the articles already. But these are 5 stories that I found intriguing as a youth pastor, as a leader, as a person:

1. Sex peddled as power in pornified girl culture from The Associated Press

2. Bank overdraft fees: Help may be on the way from MSNBC

3. Greece is awaiting huge wave of tourists from the International Herald Tribune

4. The Force is strong at MJC tribute to Lucas, 'Star Wars' from The Modesto Bee

5. '08 Dark Horse Running Strong ... in Cyberspace from

And for those of you who might complain that all 5 picks come from MSM (mainstream media) sources, well, tough. Deal with it, amigos.

Too much for one service?

Ever tried to do a lot in a single Sunday service? That was our 11AM service today. Here's a rundown:
  • 2 water baptisms
  • Worship in music
  • Communion
  • Baby dedication
  • Missions emphasis
  • Funny grad video
  • Honoring graduates
  • Sermon

Somehow, we managed to get through it all without "cheapening" any of the elements. Still, it made for a very full service.

A few added extras:

  • One of our graduating seniors used to always swipe, er, borrow my teaching stool during youth services. Today, we "retired" that stool by giving it to him as a graduation gift. Congrats, J.C., and all the other members of the class of 2007!
  • Last time I visited my mom, I found an old box containing my high school cap and gown. So, I put them on in the middle of service, and called off the names of our grads while wearing my high school colors.
  • My mom came up today to hear me preach in this service, and she covertly took a photo of me in my cap and gown. I'll work on posting it at some point; I had no idea she took the photo!
  • Had some people over to my house after service for a fun cookout. Lots of great food and conversation!