Tuesday, July 31, 2007

5 stories worth a read: part sept

Take a spin past these unique, cool stories:

1. A second stint as first daughter in U.S.? from the International Herald Tribune

2. Taliban claim to kill a 2nd South Korean hostage from The Associated Press (on iht.com)

3. OK, who REALLY wrote that song? from The Associated Press (on cnn.com)

4. Anti-abortion leaders size up GOP candidates from The New York Times (on msnbc.com)

5. Despite glitches and a security warning, iPhones faring well from the San Francisco Chronicle (on sfgate.com)


Friday, July 27, 2007

We're back.

Had a great week at camp. Too tired to really post about it tonight. Maybe some posts over the weekend, and some photos too.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Drew Carey? Hmmm...

OK, so I've really been out of it this week up here at camp. Missed the most important news of the week -- that Drew Carey will replace Bob Barker on The Price is Right.

Not sure how I feel about this. I have fond memories from TPIR... screams of joy in high school when someone won both showcases (back in the under-$100 days), screams that upset our speech coach in the middle of class... sick days, when I might awaken around 10AM and watch Bob and his Beauties... Thursday mornings lately, on my day off, when attempting to make breakfast while guessing prices... seeing the video clips of Josh Griffin making it to the stage and kissing Bob on the cheek.

Ahh yes, memories.

Sermon highlight.

We've had great sermons at camp all week (our leaders are Donnie Moore and his Radical Reality ministry team). Too many thoughts to share in writing, but I figured I'd post some highlights from one of the strongest sermons of the week. It came from Donnie Moore during the Tuesday evening service.

Sin opens the door to the enemy and gives him a foothold
You know it's spiritual warfare when:
1. My thoughts are irrational
2. It's an unsolicited thought
3. The opposition is bizarre and outrageous
Ephesians 6:10-12 key verses

1. Satan comes in disguise
  • He makes the little issues big, and turns the truly big issues into little things
  • Fear can captivate our hearts and destroy our future
  • Worry cannot change one situation

2. Satan comes to divide

  • He creates division from God's Word
  • He creates division from other people
  • The way you leave a relationship is the way you will enter the next one, whether it's a dating relationship, friendship, or relationship with a church
  • If the enemy can divide you from your shepherd, he can cut you off from a source of being fed
  • When you see division, you know the enemy is involved

3. Satan comes to destroy

  • He wants to destroy the home
  • He wants to destroy the church
  • If he can injure your parents or leaders, he'll injure you
  • Bitterness is a cancer to the soul
  • Are you trapped in yesterday because of pain or unforgiveness?
  • Forgiveness is NOT a feeling; it's a choice, an action
  • In Genesis, Joseph had many reasons to be bitter, but God healed that hurt; the names of Joseph's children (Genesis 41) reflect this change
  • Jesus had the right of justifiable unforgiveness, yet He chose to forgive while He was on the cross

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hello from camp. Truly.

Wow! It turns out they have an unsecured wireless network here at the camp facilities. Yet no cell coverage. Oh well.

The connection is slow and spotty, so I don't wanna waste energy writing too much about tonight, but we have an awesome service. If I can get a stronger connection somewhere tomorrow here on the grounds, I'll do a more complete post about it. Great time.

And got to bring a little joy to my students' eyes tonights when I surprised them with "free" bottles of water and some granola bars. That's especially good for the kids who are already outta cash. And we're here 'til Friday...

Hello from camp.

OK, technically I'm not AT camp right now. I'm sitting inside a Starbucks inside a Barnes & Noble inside the city of Chico. Got it?

I came into town for the following reasons:

1. It was super hot in my room last night and I forgot to bring a fan this week. So, I had to buy one so I can actually sleep at night.

2. I missed lunch at camp, so I needed to get some food.

3. I need more water and Snapples to carry me through Friday.

4. I had some bills to pay online, which I forgot to do before leaving town.

5. I thought it might be good to check voicemail and email early this week, because things and life are much busier right now than they normally are during camp weeks.

So that's why I'm here! Oh, and #1 and #3 and #4 would have been non-issues, but I forgot to write a LIST before coming to camp. I always write lists! But I forgot to do that this weekend. Ugh.

Camp started well. Great message last night from Donnie Moore, and great worship from their team (as always). Looking forward to yet another meaningful week of ministry here at camp.

And so far, temperatures haven't broken 100 degrees! Amen to that!

I might blog again Thursday, if I come back into town. We'll see.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Mmmmm, it's 2:15 in the morning. I'm still awake, atempting to complete a project that needs to be submitted before I leave for summer camp today (Monday). It's a fun project, and I'm having a blast doing it...just kinda wish I had a few more days until our camp begins. But I don't. Thus, today's deadline.

And to make things worse, I'm drinking soda (Dr Pepper) to keep myself awake and focused. Water and Diet Snapple just weren't cuttin' it tonight!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Simply poems.

Some silly summer sonnets. Well, not really sonnets. But poems nonetheless. The same theme, in two variations.

the season quickly comes
like the beating of the drums
the camps, the trips, the movie clips
my summer is so much fun

we always stay up late
finding ways to celebrate
the games, the pranks, the helium tanks
my summer is so much fun

the lessons are sometimes short
not enough to take me to court
the songs, the skits, the cheesy bits
my summer is so much fun

the end is almost near
time for a brand new year
the schools, the classes, the crying masses
my summer was so much fun

the joy of summer, from camps and trips to movie clips
we all love summer, from games and pranks to helium tanks
can’t get enough summer, with songs and skits and cheesy bits
and then summer’s gone, with school and classes and crying masses

Friday, July 20, 2007

Crazy bike riders.

Had some friends from Turlock up here for our youth service Wednesday night. They stayed around Thursday, then I drove 'em home last night. We got a late, late start because I had a board meeting at church. By the time I got near my mom's house, it was almost 1AM.

As I was dropping off the second guy (he lives near my mom), we drove past two people on their bikes -- AT 1 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING! Who goes out bike riding that time of day? Well, apparently those two people do.

And so do TWO OTHER PEOPLE we saw on his own street. Just seemed superodd to me, to see bicyclists on the streets so late at night.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fascinating moments.

Got an interesting email tonight that could open the doors to some really cool opportunities. Don't want to go into detail right here, right now, but a couple of conversations last week could turn into a new creative outlet for me. It's been a long time since I read an email and responded with a loud "woo-hoo." But opportunity isn't enough. It must be met with discipline and commitment and hard growth to become reality, in this case. More details later, perhaps...or, I hope!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My friend Gym.

Nah, it wasn't a typo. I'm really becoming good friends with my Gym. That's a huge deal on several levels.

1. I've known Gym for three years now, but only recently have I actually started spending time with Gym.

2. My visits to Gym leave me energized, especially after running/jogging/walking on a treadmill for 40 minutes.

3. Whenever I visit Gym, I seem to run into people from my church. In fact, in my "less than 10" visits over the last month or so, I've seen more folks from my church with Gym than I've seen in my regular grocery store in months and months and months.

4. I need more energy in my life, and Gym seems to be a great place to find it.

5. My students can stop giving me a hard time about my Gym membership that was sitting unused for so long.

Anyway, I'm outta here...and off to see Gym!

The challenge of fasting.

Just read a blog post from Josh Griffin (actually a reposting of someone else's thoughts) on the idea of students "fasting" from text messages. Interesting thoughts. Earlier this year, I did a four-day music fast while up in the mountains. I had my iPod and my car stereo, but I didn't listen to any music on them for those four days.

Fasting is an interesting notion. It's biblical, it's beneficial and it's incredibly difficult. Maybe I'm not supposed to admit that as a pastor, but it's true. Fasting is tough. I have my daily and weekly routines. I like my food. I like my music. I like my media. I like my -- well, all kinds of things!

I like this thought captured in that post about text message fasts: "I told them that if they could not then that cell phone had too high of a priority in their life." Ouch! Anything I'm not willing to sacrifice for a day, or two days, or a week -- that thing probably holds too high of a place in my life.

That's what worship is all about, isn't it? Setting aside our needs, our agendas, our priorities and focusing our thoughts on the creator, lover and redeemer of the world. Fasting helps us grow spiritually because it can recalibrate our priorities and reorient us toward God...who was, and is, and is to come.

Monday, July 16, 2007

5 stories worth a read: part six

After a short summer break, we're back with some suggested reading to dull the pain of those hot, humid, scorching days of July:

1. Harrison Ford, 65, still fit for Indiana Jones from The Associated Press (on cnn.com)

2. Japan learns dreaded task of jury duty from the International Herald Tribune

3. One of 'worst quarters' for Los Angeles Times from Bloomberg News (on iht.com)

4. A new 'modesty movement' aims to teach young women they don't have to be bad, or semiclad from Newsweek (on msnbc.com)

5. UC Regents to consider raising pay for some of system's professors from the San Francisco Chronicle (on sfgate.com)

Have fun.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Some leadership conference pix.


They (heart) Josh.

My guys are obsessed with all things Josh Griffin right now. This morning, during our youth class (rather informal, since I didn't get home until 11PM last night and hadn't prepped during the week), they were sending Josh text messages. Here's an example.

THEM: "Hey Josh"

HIM: "Hey guys! Hey why don't you go ahead and cough right now in the middle of whatever Rob's doing."

THEM: Cough, cough

ME: "Stop poisoning my students minds"

HIM: "I just told your students to cough"

ME: "Wow, my students have joined the cult of worshiping Griff and Fields. Now they're becoming ur puppets."

HIM: "hahahahaah"

HIM: "Hey Steven, drop to the ground and pretending ur dead"

STEVEN: Falls to ground. Pretends he's dead.

ME: "Weird things r happenin to my students. Good thing I'm not like, at church or something...lol"

HIM: "Amazing. lol"

Anyway, Josh Griffin is a great guy, and I'd rather have my guys looking up to him than some idiot celebrity or some sports star who's shooting up on steroids.

Oh, and speaking of steroids...funny story...

Saturday evening, we're driving home from the greater L.A. area (we spent the day Saturday at Magic Mountain). We stop in Kettleman City, which isn't really a true city, just a collection of various gas stations and fast food joints. We walk into Chevron to buy some water and snacks, and some kid approaches Steven. He kinda mumbles something, Steven gives him a weird look and walks away, and then the kid mutters some colorful word under his breath.

I was a few feet away, so I ask this other guy what he needed -- thinking perhaps that he had a real, legit need. "Um, I'm trying to get some stogies." The dude wanted Steven to buy him cigars! Here are some funny observations on this moment:

1. Steven isn't even 18. He turned 16 in May.

2. The guy was traveling with a group from the YMCA.

3. Dude kept watching me the whole time, probably afraid I'd go tell one of his leaders. I didn't.

4. Steven actually thought the guy was asking for or offering steroids, not stogies.

5. One of our team members had no idea what the word "stogie" meant.

Fun moment out on I-5 in the middle of Nowhere, California!

And for those of you care, I did get some photos from this week's experiences. I'll probably post some later tonight once I'm home, fed, napped and rejeuvenated -- and once the pics are donwloaded.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Student leadership: Final highlights

Right now, we're sitting in a hotel room in Valencia, preparing for our final day of this leadership adventure. We'll be at Magic Mountain much of the day Saturday, and then we hit the road back to Sacramento. I know it's gonna be a fun day -- and a long one, too!

So, what are some closing highlights from the final day of this leadership trip?

1. Chats with Doug
I didn't talk with Doug Fields just today, but it was cool catching up on things and talking about ministry. It also was fun for our guys to meet him and for him to remember the "sweaty" nickname from yesterday.

2. Seeing the SYM offices
Yes, I finally got to stand inside the offices of Simply Youth Ministry... engage in a fun chat with Jack Guiso... see where Matt McGill attempted to break into the SYM podcast room... check out the actual room where the podcast is recorded... and get one last sneak peek at the SYM catalog, which should be in the mail sometime this summer. It also was fun to just hang and chat with Andy, Nadim and Natalie (and yes, we DO miss Natalie on the podcast, though Jana is a highly qualified, worthy replacement).

3. Getting a gym workout...sorta
Our hotel has a small gym with some equipment that actually works. I went down there and used the machines, but the treadmills had some real issues with the running surface; it just didn't work the way it should. But I did manage to get in some time on the stationary bike, so at least I got a workout today...sorta.

Student Leadership: Day 4

It all came to an end today, with one final session at the PDYM Student Leadership Conference -- this one built around the biblical purpose of Worship. We had some awesome time of worshiping God through music (we've had great sessions all week led by Jadon Lavik), along with some fun and games. The Taco Bell Olympics proved to be a messy but enjoyable competition this week; fortunately, I never got hit by any flying food, but plenty of people did!

Today's speaker was Taffy, who oversees the youth worship ministries at Saddleback. He's a funny, energetic, creative speaker who probably has more energy than the average high school student (but he might get beat by a typical junior-higher). Here are a few highlights from Taffy's presentation:
  • When it comes to concerts, sports, big events, we make the experience about the team; yet when it comes to being in the presence of God, we think it's about US and not HIM
  • It isn't worship if you're asking, "How are you going to please me?"
  • What have you placed on the throne of your life -- relationships, priorities, success, identity, money, popularity?
  • Mountaintop experiences are great, but when you go back home, how will you live a lifestyle of worship?
  • Best biblical definition of worship can be found in Romans 12:1-2
  • We're called to be deliberate, intentional, living sacrifices
  • You were made for God's pleasure
  • Feelings go up and down; that's a constant struggle in the area of worship
  • Our faith shouldn't feed our feelings or we'll go nowhere; when our faith feeds our intellect or will, our spiritual "train" will move forward
  • Your spiritual life is not a hobby
  • When you live a life of worship, you're saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty," even without saying those words
  • When God is everything to you, everything else will fall into place in your life
  • Yes, living a life of worship will be difficult, but that's because Satan attacks those who are making a difference

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Student leadership: More highlights

Here are some odds-and-ends notes from today's leadership conference. What a wild day, once again.

1. Josh, the matchmaker
Emcee extraordinaire Josh Griffin has been playing matchmaker at this leadership conference, and today (with a little encouragement from my students) he decided to turn his attention my way. He brought me forward, gave me a Starbucks gift card and then told single women in the room to find me later so I could get their numbers. So far? Zero numbers. Desperate? Nah.

2. Odors, odors in my car...
I don't know what my guys ate this week, but everyone has been afflicted with severe gas conditions. It's a guy thing, of course, but it just seems like everyone is EXTRA gassy this week...and we're not even on a missions trip.

3. That "sweaty" guy
Right now, we're using some Sunday video curriculum featuring Doug Fields. Early on, one of our students, Tyler G., made a comment that "Doug really looks sweaty in that video." On Tuesday evening, I introduced the guys to Fields and recounted Tyler's comments. After tonight's service, the guys were getting Doug to sign some books, and Doug signed Tyler's book with "Doug Fields (Sweaty)." As he walked away, Tyler G. shook Doug's hand and said, "Bye, Sweaty." So, I'm now the youth pastor who has the student who calls Fields "Sweaty." Priceless.

4. Lots of cute girls
That's what my guys are saying, anyway. Can't say I've been watching the teen crowd as closely as they have, but it is a good reminder of a reason many guys go to things like leadership conferences, youth conventions and other big youth events.

5. Steven wants to be mentioned
Good old Steven Nelson was just awakened from his sleep by Tyler Gillespie. Steven is upset that I didn't mention him earlier in this post, so now I've mentioned his name. If only he'd start blogging again...

Student Leadership: Day 3

Another full day for our team here at the PDYM Student Leadership Conference. Highlights included a morning session on the theme of ministry, a morning and afternoon filled with real-life, hands-on, student-led ministry projects, and an inspiring evening with a 15-year-old having a global impact.

MINISTRY/Erik Rees, speaker

  • Only you can be you
  • Ministering in your "shape" is a form of stewardship
  • Learning who you're NOT is vital
  • When you do what God designed you to do, the benefit is pleasure
  • I must SURRENDER my life to God
  • What do you listen to when the music isn't playing?
  • I must SEIZE my S.H.A.P.E. from God
  • Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences
  • Are you "in" shape or "out" of shape?
  • I must SERVE people for God
  • Do. Try. Fail. Grow.
  • As you serve others, you'll begin to see how God can use you to do incredible things
  • Take one step forward to serve
  • I must STRENGTHEN my life with God
  • Does anyone in this world know you as well as God?

Morning activities included a PB&J-making station, a station where students discovered how far spare change can help people in the Third World, a room where students wrote letters to "ignored" people and groups, and a spot for organizing used shoes that have ben donated to help homeless people.

In the afternoon, our teams all left the church campus and went out into Orange County. We were assigned the task of collecting spare change from people. The students were in charge -- totally! Basically, I was their driver, their chauffeur. Wow, did they enjoy that! Most of the time, I just sat in my car waiting for them to walk around and ask folks for spare change.

EVENING SESSION/Zach Hunter, speaker
Zach is an incredible kid. He's 15 years old. He's written a book. He speaks to crowds of thousands on the topic of freeing modern slavery victims. He motivates teens to collect spare change to help free those slaves. Tonight, Doug Fields did an interview format with Zach, keeping the service flowing well. Zach also took questions from students and adults in the crowd. Here are some highlights from his presentation and discussion:

  • Loose change is underestimated, just like teenagers can be; people often don't expect much from loose change or teens
  • Go find one thing you're passionate about, and research it, and live for it
  • Passion is something Satan doesn't want us to have
  • Tech gadgets can become an antiseptic that makes us apathetic
  • So much suffering remains in the world because we're not willing to be used by God
  • There's nothing I can give to God that He doesn't truly already have
  • This generation is dying in a desert because of thirst for real ministry, real relationship with God
  • See a need, get your passion stirred, and do something about it

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Student leadership: Other highlights

Here are some odds-and-ends moments from day two of the Student Leadership Conference.

1. No dinner with Josh
The great Josh Griffin was going to have dinner with us. Really, he was. But then he had to back out. This is the second straight conference I've attempted to buy him a meal, and it's the second straight conference when he's been unable to join me for food. Interesting...

2. Students drive my car
Yes, two of my students drove my car. Not at the same time, of course. Steven and Tyler G. each took a spin in my car -- a manual, stick-shift transmission. Tyler had driven a stick shift once, and Steven never had before. Let's just say that it was, um, an interesting experience. My car was crying. Seriously, the guys did fine -- but we also did the driving in a near-empty parking lot this evening.

3. You don't like Chick-Fil-A?
Neither Steven nor Tyler G. enjoyed their chicken sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A at lunch today. So, Tyler B. and I got extra food. Mmmmmm...

4. Dinner and games
We ate dinner at Dave & Buster's over at the Irvine Spectrum. We had some decent food, and then played some fun arcade games. Dave & Busters is something like a grown-up John's Incredible Pizza Co., which is a more exciting version of Chuck-E-Cheese. Great time.

Student leadership: Day 2

Great second day here at the Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry Student Leadership Conference. Today's sessions covered three of the biblical purposes for the church: evangelism, fellowship and discipleship. Here are a few highlights from the main messages today:

EVANGELISM/Jeff Maguire, speaker

  • Good deeds are as important to evangelism as the words we speak
  • Evangelism happens in the context of our whole lives
  • A good deed is anything connected to what we do or live that reflects the image and glory of God
  • Our intended purpose is to reflect the image of God into the world
  • Christians can choose to condemn the world, copy the world, or create good

FELLOWSHIP/Video + Doug Fields, speaker

  • Growth happens through friendships filled with trust, acceptance, investment and concern
  • It never stops with you; someone invested in you, so you should turn around and invest in someone else
  • "Fellowship" is a deep but abused word in the Church
  • We're better together
  • True fellowship happens when we KNOW each other, SHOW each other when we're headed to trouble, and GROW together in our relationships with Jesus Christ
  • Fellowship should be intentional
  • What would it be like to REALLY be known?

DISCIPLESHIP/Matt McGill, speaker

  • The idea of discipleship really means having a friendship with God
  • To be friends with God is to become like Him
  • A friend of God delights in beauty
  • Do we love what God loves?
  • A friend of God is driven by compassion
  • Compassion is a reflex that responds to others; it can be a slow reflex or a well-developed one
  • What moves you and grabs your attention?
  • A friend of God discovers the truth
  • To get a new perspective means admitting your last perspective was wrong
  • If you don't look back and see foolishness and mistakes in your past, then you're probably not growing spiritually

Great start to leadership conference.

I'm spending this week down in Orange County with a group of guys for a student leadership conference sponsored by Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry. The conference kicked off Tuesday evening with a great first session: dynamic worship with Jadon Lavik, some hilarious games (and banter) from Josh Griffin and Allison Hibbard, and a strong, inspiring message from Doug Fields.

Doug encouraged the students (and us adult leaders, too) to be the kinds of leaders who stop, learn to be quiet and make a connection -- three priorities that can help us refuel spiritually. Some other memorable statements:

  • Leaders can't lead effectively when they're spiritually empty
  • Each of us has a soul that needs to be refilled
  • Silence is an essential ingredient for spiritual growth
  • God won't fight the noise and distractions in our lives; we must make that choice

There are apparently around 750 student leaders here, from all over the country. Heard about some folks from as far away as North Carolina, maybe even further. We simply hopped in the car and drove 9 hours to get here (some meals and pit stops along the way, of course).

Wish we could have brought a larger group to the conference. I didn't have an adult female leader/chaperone to join us, so I only invited guys next year. It would be great to bring back a larger team next summer.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fireworks: Day 7


Sales? Picked up at end, but weaker than last year.

Weather? Hot, hot, hot today, but better on average than the previous 4 years.

Volunteers? Better than ever before in numbers, attitude, eagerness to serve, and wilingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Sometimes I think we do the fireworks booth for the money, to help with camp scholarships and ministry needs. But then I realize that the greatest investment may be the hours I spend sittin' out under the sun chatting with people from our church. And eternally speakin', that's a better investment than anything with a dollar sign.

Peace out.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fireworks: Day 6

Well, today finally felt like a "real" fireworks booth day. We did great business throughout the day, especially in the evening. It was hot outside, I didn't put on any sunscreen, and now I'm sunburned!

Oh, and we had three suspicious brush fires on the back of our campus tonight! A fourth fire happened in the adjoining apartment complex, and I'm convinced they were all the handiwork of 1 or 2 people.

I might not sleep well tonight thinking about the brush fires, but I'm so tired that I hafta head home or else I'll fall asleep right here at my computer. Night, all!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Fireworks: Day 5

I sure hope tomorrow and Wednesday are busy, busy days. We had a good day today -- but we had the kinda sales we SHOULD have had back on Saturday or Sunday. I hate overanalyzing these things, but I'm totally perplexed by this year's sales pattern. Maybe because the Fourth is a Wednesday...few people get three- or four-day weekends, so everyone's waiting until Tuesday or Wednesday to buy. I hope so. But that means I gotta brace for two slammin' days.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fireworks: Day 4

Wow, what a crazy day. We had good services in the morning, two great food events for the congregation, and then an awesome evening meeting for our worship team.

Oh yea, we sold some fireworks, too...but nowhere near as many as we should have on our fourth day.

Supertired now. Headin' to bed. Praying for lots of customers in the final 3 days!