My Birthday

We went to church as a young child but my main memories of church are attending Christmas Eve candle-light services. As a seventh grader my parents sent me on a church retreat for seventh and eighth grade boys. There were 90 of us on that trip, those volunteers must have really loved us. I didn’t want to go on the retreat but my parents made me. I cried into my pillow on the bus as we drove up. (I cried in my pillow so nobody would see me, duh!)

I heard and understood the Gospel on Saturday night of the retreat and I knew I needed a personal savior. I asked Jesus to save me from my sins on January 29, 1982.

What Do You Make?

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”

To stress his point he said to another guest; “You’re a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?”

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, “You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began…)

“Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental… You want to know what I make?” (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
I make my students stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, because we live in the United States of America.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.) “Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want t know what I make?

I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make?”

Stolen. . . er. . . found @ Grant's


The Nativity Story

I'm watching The Nativity Story right now since I have to send a DVD Review in for it by this weekend.

Healing Our Memories
by Henri Nouwen

Forgiving does not mean forgetting. When we forgive a person, the memory of the wound might stay with us for a long time, even throughout our lives. Sometimes we carry the memory in our bodies as a visible sign. But forgiveness changes the way we remember. It converts the curse into a blessing. When we forgive our parents for their divorce, our children for their lack of attention, our friends for their unfaithfulness in crisis, our doctors for their ill advice, we no longer have to experience ourselves as the victims of events we had no control over.

Forgiveness allows us to claim our own power and not let these events destroy us; it enables them to become events that deepen the wisdom of our hearts. Forgiveness indeed heals memories.

I don't agree with everything Henri Nouwen wrote but this I can vouch for in my experience.

Senator Schilling?

Should Curt Schilling make a 2008 Senate run against Kerry?

If the Red Sox win the World Series in 2007 he would win in a landslide.

Update: Guess he'll have to wait until 2012, he's planning on pitching in 08 and wants it to be with the Red Sox.

Where Youth Minsitry Must Go…

This would be great to go to if I was in Michigan had the time and had money.

Details, details. :-)


A reality check and Parcheesi
(My brother-in-laws letter to the editor in Stripes.)

A group of petitioners has signed a petition asking Congress to cut off all funding of the war in Iraq (“More than 1,000 servicemembers sign petition to end fighting in Iraq,” Stars and Stripes, Jan. 17). The group’s leader, Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, says “If you are funding a war that puts troops in harm’s way, you are not supporting the troops.”

Is Madden the new authority on changing definitions in Webster’s Dictionary? Did I just hear that a war (“a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations”) is going to put soldiers (“one engaged in military service and especially in the army … a skilled warrior”) in harm’s way?

And then there is Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., supporting this absurd petition by saying “If that means cutting off funding, that’s what we need to do.”

Let’s bring everyone entertaining this petition back to reality. Yes, war is an ugly business. Yes, soldiers may be harmed in combat operations. Yes, we all signed by our own free will to join the greatest military in the world. And no, cutting funding will not speed up the withdrawal of U.S. forces, it will only put more soldiers in harm’s way.

So, let’s put this petition where it belongs (toilet), come up with a better way to protect our soldiers (dollars, armor, supplies) and better ways to waste time (Parcheesi).

Sgt. Jonathan K. Settle
Landstuhl, Germany


Could Have Been Much Worse

I went to the doctor today after my fingers touched a moving fanbelt on a compressor for our jackhammers. I reached in to get something of mine in the storage area and I put my hand against the interior but wasn't paying attention and I found the fan. Hurt, didn't realize what it was, turned to go to work and looked down to see bleeding.

Went to my foreman who was 15 feet away and then went to sit down to take care of it with the Big On-Site Boss. The foreman was amazed that I didn't cuss. It was the pinky and ring finger of my left hand. Fingertips turned blue/purple and were hard and swollen in about three minutes, Backs of those two fingers were cut. Pinky looks like cat scratched it from the middle of the nail to the middle joint. Ring finger has a spot of skin missing below the middle joint and a bigger cut above it.

So washed it out, put ice on it and went to the doctor. Should be normal in 10 days or so. I got a tetnus shot and bandages around each finger. One is red and the other is blue. (Go Red Sox!) I knew my youngest would approve.

I went home and ate some comfort food, chocolate covered cherry ice cream from Blue Bell. All is good but not sure if it's the ice cream or the perscription pain killer.

Remembering a Youth Ministry Hero

Chris blogged about spending out of pocket money in your youth ministry and asked for responses.

I e-mailed him this:

I've been fortunate to serve in churches with decent to very good youth budgets that covered curriculum, leader costs, my taking kids out etc but a friend of mine was in a small church and he entered YM as a 2nd career. He spent about $80-$100 per month on his students out of his pocket. I remember this because he is one of my youth ministry heros. Dave was in youth minisrtry full time for only 2.5 years before he died of spinal cancer. He was a 44 year old who rediscovered joy and significance as he loved and served students.

Dave went to the National Youth Worker Convention one year on a wing and a prayer. He registered at the convention and stayed at a Salvation Army because the hotels were totally full.

He loved youth ministry like few of my friends have and I think it was because he realized how special it is and he found great joy in it. Talking to him about his students and God was like talking to a kid about their trip to DisneyWorld.

Dave went to the doctor one day because his back had been bothering him for a few weeks and he couldn't sleep well. Doctor found tumors wrapped around his spine and he died three weeks later.

We are strangely content as we wait for the next chapter in life to be written yet I'm looking forward to having that kind of joy about youth ministry once we discover our next "little place".


Upcoming Theme for The Journal of Student Ministries
July/August 2007: Language

How does our language not only express our thinking but also form it? In what ways do the words we choose form our students? What barriers to understanding are caused by our language choices, and how can we compensate for those barriers? How about in the ways we communicate to others? What are the benefits to language sensibility? What are the dangers? What are specific ways we can be careful about our language without being over-the-top about it? What do we need to simply be aware of ourselves, and what do we need to specifically pass on to our students about language?

If you have article ideas on this theme, write "July/August 2007 proposal" in the e-mail subject field and send the article idea — with at least an outline and opening paragraph — by March 1 to proposals@thejournalofstudentministries.com

You’ll receive a reply no later than June 1. Please include a picture and bio with your submission, and multiple submissions are welcome.

If you'd like The Journal of Student Ministry to send this directly to you, please click here.

Be a Barnabus

A couple of years ago while at a National Youth Worker Convention, I met Hoon Kim. We met at a breakfast of writers and we connected. We've touched base randomly since then and I knew he was working on a book and I saw that "Creative Bible Lessons in Genesis" is now available.

I dropped him an e-mail of congratulations and he wrote back:

had it not been for God allowing our paths to cross, the cbl would never have been made. thanks for talking to me a few years back about this!

You never can tell the difference you will make in someone's life by being an encouragement at just the right time.

Necessary Fanaticism: Combating the Slave Trade

By Chuck Colson

This March marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the British Parliament’s abolition of the slave trade—the culmination of a twenty-year struggle by William Wilberforce and his fellow abolitionists, a story brilliantly captured in the new Hollywood release coming next month titled Amazing Grace.

Wilberforce would be appalled to learn that, two hundred years later, however, people are still trafficking in human flesh.

An estimated 27 million people in the world today are in slavery. They are sold into sexual slavery or forced labor from sub-Saharan Africa to suburban America, from big-city brothels to small-town sweatshops. Every day, men, women, and children looking for work and a better life are tricked, coerced, or forced into slavery.

If this is news to you, don’t be surprised. This is a silent horror. No one is paying any attention.

Read the rest

A Turning Point Devotional by Dr. David Jeremiah

As we go through life, we're to sow the seeds of the Gospel; but it may take a while for them to germinate. William Carey was seven years in India before seeing his first convert. It took seven years in Burma before Adoniram Judson saw his first conversion. Robert Morrison toiled for seven years before the first Chinese national was brought to Christ. Robert Moffat waited seven years to see evidence of the moving of the Holy Spirit on his field in Africa.

It might take seven years or seventy—but there's power in the Gospel seed, and our job is to plant. So don't lose heart. "He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:6).


Blog Posts You Need to Read

Teaching from the Heart by Steve Argue

Enabling a Team by Ian

Not fed: Timeless youth ministry conversation #1138 by The Misfit

Major Wisdom by Grant English

The Michael Jordan Effect: A Surprising Leadership Lesson by Bill Allison

What is youth ministry? An unfolding thought… by God is My Director

"The Turning," rediscovered at NPR by Jeffrey Overstreet

Stealing from Seth

A quote from the book, Why Men hate Going To Church: "One New Year's Eve I asked my pastor a very straight forward question: 'How many adults came to faith in Christ at our church this year?' The pastor, a very diplomatic man, said, 'I am not sure. I'll have to get back to you on that.' But he and I knew the answer. It was zero."

"I added it up. That year our church conducted 104 regularly scheduled worship services, 7 special services, some 250 adult classes, 600 committee meetings and 1,000 small-group meetings and ran through a $750,000 budget to produce exactly zero new adult followers of Jesus Christ. We gathered. We worshiped. We loved each other. But we produced no crop. Our church was a contraption worthy of Rube Goldberg: lots of sound, motion, fury to produce a tiny amount of fruit. . . How do we conceal this scandalous lack of productivity? Some clever churches have simply changed the definition of crop. Churches now judge success by the standards of a family reunion. How many people came and did everyone get along?"

The challenge to all of us is, "Are we listening to Him, and when He speaks are we obeying?"

Any thoughts?

Entire post stolen. . . er. . . borrowed from Seth.


Amazing Grace

I saw this trailer when I saw a movie around the end of the year.

Amazing Grace is a movie based on the life of antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce, a member of the English Parliament who navigated the world of 18th Century backroom politics to end the slave trade in the British Empire. The movie opens in theaters on February 23.

Also be sure to check out The Amazing Change campaign to find out how you and your youth group can do to help end modern-day slavery.


Yankees Hit With $26 Million Luxury Tax

World Series titles don't come to Yankee Stadium these days, just tax bills.

The Yankees were slapped with a $26 million luxury tax by the commissioner's office last month, raising New York's total to $97.75 million over the last four years.

Boston, which missed the playoffs, was the only other team over the tax threshold and will pay $497,549.

Tending the Temple

After writing book reviews for a while and losing 176 pounds on The Biggest Loser 3, Matthew McNutt is writing a new column for The Journal of Student Ministries in 2007. The column is called "Tending the Temple," where he'll share his insights on helping youth workers take better care of their bodies.

Oh and Will Penner has lost 51 pounds following Matt's advice.


Why Rice deserves a Cooperstown plaque

In recent years, one recurring and particularly feverish argument is the one over the status of Jim Rice. Depending on your perspective, Rice is either a deserving candidate whose numbers have been unfairly blunted by the steroids-era bestowals or a justified omission whose productivity was aided greatly by Fenway Park. When it comes to Rice's Hall of Fame candidacy, not many straddle the fence. So let's wander into this issue and examine whether Jim Rice merits induction into Cooperstown.

He was an eight-time All-Star.

He won the AL MVP in 1978 and five other times finished in the top five.

He led the league in slugging percentage two times, led the league in total bases four times, led the league in hits once, claimed three home run titles, twice led the league in RBI, once led the league in times on base, once led the league in extra-base hits and once led the league in triples.

In 1978, he tallied 406 bases, which remains highest AL total since Joe DiMaggio racked up 418 in 1937. That year, Rice also became the first player in major league history to lead both leagues in home runs, triples and RBI in the same season. He's also the only player in history to have at least 200 hits and 35 homers for three straight seasons.

A Good Death

I just realized why I liked the quote in the previous post. For years, nay centuries, a pastor's primary responsibility was to help people (of all ages) to prepare for a good death.

To call them to holiness so that when death was realized, they would have lived such a good and godly life that they were ready for death and eternal life.


Youth Ministry Quote

The purpose of youth work is to ensure that young people have a good death. Good youth work process gives young people tools to reach their full potential so that when they die, in old age, they can look back on a life of achievement and feel deep contentment.
Maxine Green (at a NYA/DfES spirituality meeting)

I found this and stole it from Roy. Thanks Roy! :-)


Oldest Living Red Sox Fan Dies At 112

As an 18-year-old, she attended her first game at Fenway Park in 1912 shortly after the ballpark opened. At 109, Gemme was greeted by catcher Jason Varitek and former player and coach Johnny Pesky during her last game in May 2004.

Team officials brought the 2004 World Series' trophy to her 111th birthday party in November 2005.

"That was a big day of her life," her daughter, Lucille Findley of Jacksonville, Ill., told The Boston Globe.

with thanks to Gman


A Succesful Man

by Bill Allison

If you really want to measure the true worth of a man's success, all you need to do is observe the countenance of his wife.

Sobering statement... isn't it?

If, as you look at the countenance of your wife, you are not pleased about what it says about the true worth of your success and effectiveness, then consider how you might apply the following words from Lysa TerKeurst:

"All women desire to be valued. Your wife is constantly reading the unspoken cues you give off as to whether or not you cherish her, treasure her, and value her. The total of these cues equals whether or not she feels loved. If she senses you value her as a person, not for what she does but for who she is, she'll feel affirmed and fulfilled in her role as your wife. If she feels taken for granted, ignored, and devestated, she'll start to build walls to keep you out and protect herself from getting hurt. The danger is that other people may be telling her the things she longs to hear from you. Every time someone else tells her she's beautiful, smart, talented, witty, etc., she mentally weighs the comments of others against your cues. Make sure the heart of your princess is only drawn to you." (From the book, Capture Her Heart)

Take a good look at your wife's countenance.

What is her countenance telling you about... you?

To-Do Lists

Lately my too many of my to-do list items keep getting postponed, I'm thinking about calling it my to-do-later list.

Mykel's Journey

Mykel is blogging again

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