A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

I have a prayer team that regularly prays for me and I try to send them regular updates on ministry and life so they can pray more specifically for things.

Here's a response I got with my last prayer letter:

I will pray for your request & I will Praise Him for sending you to Lubbock

A big smile appeared on my face as I read that short line filled with lots of love.

I hope people are praying for you and your ministry and I also hope we all remember to give encouragment to others because even a little encouragement can go a long way in someones heart.

Finding Longevity in Youth Ministry

I had the privilege of writing an article for Brenda & WildFrontier earlier this month and here it is.

Finding Longevity in Youth Ministry

I put the Loooong in Longevity when writing it but I don't know which parts I would have taken out.

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts on my thoughts.



Mission Trip Season is Around the Corner

I thought this might interest some of my youth ministry tribal mates.

Our daughter is going to Japan next week with the Lubbock Junior Ambassador program so we decided to look into travel insurance for her.

We found two companies that are about the same and be purchased a policy for her, just in case.

I just sent this out to the parents of our students who are going to Mexico City on our mission trip in July.

Thought you guys and gals might want to pass it on too.

Company #1

Company #2

Cost should be in the $10-$15 range for a week and probably 750K - 1M in coverage.

Because you read this far, here's some bonus mission trip humor: Kids Who Should Have Stayed Home.

Around the Horn

1. Kara Powell is the latest to be interviewed on the Youth Ministry Interviews Blog.

2. Chap Clark started blogging.

3. Chuck Swindoll posts about Stepping Out In Faith. Thought of a few friends who are doing this now through a variety of circumstances.

4. $4 Gas it's here or it's coming. From a friend who lives in SD.

5. Jesus is not a CEO, despite what some pastors and church leaders may think.

6. Bob Hyatt aka Mr. PastorHacks oozes with joy over Evernote. (I have 18 invites left, if you want in on the beta version.)

7. All things Matt McGill can now be located at Hokma.com.

8. Peacemaker Ministries is now blogging but more importantly for my friends, (cyber-lurkers & cyber-stalkers included) they've finally produced The Peacemaker Student Edition: Handling Conflict without Fighting Back or Running Away.

Today's teens face conflicts at school, the workplace, at church, and at home. But instead of responding with anger or giving up on the relationships, they can be peacemakers! Writing to teens, parents, and youth workers, Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson show how applying biblical principles to contentious situations can bring about forgiveness and reconciliation. By distilling the biblical principles found in The Peacemaker into an accessible format--filled with stories and scenarios that teens can easily relate to--this much-needed resource is ideal for individual or group study (discussion questions are included for each chapter).

Chapter one is free on their site.

9. Baby Baptized at the Cathedral of Baseball: Fenway Park

HT2 Tim Ellsworth


The Dental Floss of the Spiritual Disciplines

Trinity Baptist Church in Fairfield, CT is doing a 40 day Spiritual Disciplines Blog devotional for their church family. It's being written by members of the church. I was their youth pastor from 2000-2004. Once while I was there I had the nerve to tell the students if 25 of them memorized 4 passages of scripture (about 9 verses) I would recite from memory the four chapters of Philippians. I had memorized Philippians in college and I needed an excuse to get it down pat again. Well, much to my surprise, 28 students agreed and about 2 months later I recited Philippians to the youth group. At the time, the women's ministry was finishing a Bible Study on Philippians and they asked me to come recite it to them also. I even did Philippians 2 for a sermon, I think, at one point when the pastor was preaching. All that to say, I guess it made an impression on them and they asked me to write a devotional about memorizing scripture for them. It's an honor to be able to still contribute something to a group of people I still love:

Flossing is one of those things that we know we should do but most of us don’t do it regularly, if at all. The benefits of flossing have been told to us since we were children. They invented mint floss to help with the flavor and the new “flossers” that make it easier to reach those spaces between our teeth to help us form a good habit and yet, most of Americans still don’t floss. 28% of Americans say they floss daily but actual sales of floss don't match that claim.

Is it because we doubt the experts?


Is it because we don’t know the truth?


It’s because we don’t choose what is best for our dental health.

I believe memorizing scripture is the dental floss of the spiritual disciplines. We all know we should memorize God’s word in one form or another. The righteous man is to meditate on God’s law during the day and night. (Psalm 1) Hiding God’s word in our heart helps us resist temptation. (Psalm 119:11, Matthew 4:1-10) We are told to write God’s commands on our hearts. (Proverbs 7:1-3)

Sometimes God’s will is hard to discern but in this area God’s will is clear. It pleases God for his children to meditate on his word. Memorizing scripture marinates your mind with God’s truth so you are more prepared to do his will. (Romans 12:1-2)

We need to put our knowledge into action and not just soak up truth. (James 1:22)

Three keys for memorizing scripture:

1. Review
2. Review
3. Review

The Topical Memory System is a great place to start or you can write down your favorite verses on note cards. Keep them in front of you and read them in those spare moments during the day (red lights, waiting in line at the store, etc.) Before you know it, you’ll have God’s Word hidden in your heart.

If you prefer, you can do larger portions such as favorite chapters of the bible or even a small book, like Philippians. It’s actually easier to do large chunks than random verses but we all need to have some basic verses in our mind so we will also be prepared to give the reason for our hope when people ask. (1 Peter 3:15)

Choose what is best for your spiritual health.

If you are motivated to begin and want more basic details read: How to Memorize Scripture.

The Journal of Student Ministries

You can now view the current The Journal of Student Ministries online for free. You have to fill out a quick survey but it's like a PDF. Get it here.

Saw that my friend Dave Decker had an article put up today, The Journey of Life.

My blog post What If? is now up at The Journal of Student Ministries, too.


It could have made national headlines

A coach for the opposing 8yr old girls machine pitch softball team seemed to want to get in a fight with me, last night.

It was the strangest thing I've experienced in a very long time. My daughters team was getting trashed, I think the final score was a lot to a little. I was sitting behind the plate with my wife, other daughter and two other parents when the umpire made a call to send the opposing player back to third so she didn't score.

This coach was upset about the call argued some and then the next girl struck out. The coach was sill upset about it as a he walked past the umpire and looked at the guy next to me and said, "Look at at scoreboard." I laughed out loud because the guy was trash talking about the score for a girls 8 year old machine picth softball game which pretty much equates trashing taking over a boy's t-ball game.

I got up to go coach first base, which is how I volunteer, so I walked through the opposing teams dugout and through the team. As I did and I walked past the coach he made some comment to me under his breath has I walked past him.

I said "Excuse me?" (Maybe i shouldn't have said that, I don't know.)

He replied with, "You think it's funny, huh?"

I said, "Yes, the umpire made the call to call time out and they kept running, I thought that was funny."

He said something else which implied if we weren't around the girls he'd hit him.

I said, "Listen, i'm a pastor, I have no desire to get in a fight. If I've done something to offend you, i'd appreciate knowing what it is so I can apologize."

He said, "I can see your cheeks getting flushed why don't you just keep walking before something happens."

Again I said, "Listen, again, if I did something personally to offend you i wasn to know what it is."

He said, "You better just keep walking away."

I extended my hand to apologize, he refused to shake it so I turned away and as I did he said, "So you're walking away, huh?"

I turned back and said, "you asked me to walk away and I did, why does that bother you?" No response.

As I walked back by him after the inning was over, I again offered my apologies if I in some way had offended him but he said, "Just keep walking" As I extened my hand to him.

I went back and told my wife and friends that the seemed to want to get in a fight with me but they at first didn't believe the story.

The coach finally shook my hand after the game as we all lined up to shake hands with the opposing players and coaches. It was very weird. I'm almost 40 years old and I'm not going to get in a fight over an 8yr old girl softball team..


The Avengers Movie!

I was so sick, I didn't see Iron Man on opening night with my youth group. I'm planning on seeing it Friday. How sick was I? I slept so much on Thursday and Friday that by Friday night, my hips were sore.

Good news though for me is the Iron Man movie is a major hit with #2 coming out in 2010 and The Incredible Hulk movie opens in June. All this just increases my anticipation and hope for the film to be made after Thor, Captain America, and a rumored Ant-Man movie, which is The Avengers.

Now rumored to be in theaters by 2011.

Oh baby.

In related comic-book-cool-movie-news, Iron Fist is officially announced as a movie and he'll be played by Ray Park (who played Darth Maul is playing Snake Eyes in the upcoming G.I. Joe Movie.)


Hat tip to you Mr. Julio Franco

Franco was a fun player to watch with the Rangers while I was in seminary from 92-94 and if you love baseball, you love Julio Franco. Why? Franco simply did some things that made a mockery of what baseball players are supposed to be able to do.

Franco faced a pitcher who faced Ted Williams. Jim Kaat walked Franco in 1982, Franco's rookie season. Kaat pitched to Williams in 1959.

Franco became the oldest regularly playing position player in Major League history, passing Cap Anson, the first player ever to amass 3,000 hits. Anson played until he was 46. There have been pitchers who outlasted Franco, who unfortunately never learned how to throw a knuckleball.

Franco convinced a team — the New York Mets — to give him a two-year contract in 2005. The multi-year commitment made sense, since Franco was just 45 then.

Franco hit a home run on April 20, 2006 that made him the oldest player to ever go deep. His last blast came on May 4, 2007, off Randy Johnson.

Other oldest-ever records he holds: oldest to hit a grand slam, oldest to hit a pinch-hit home run, oldest to hit two home runs in the same game, and oldest to steal two bases in the same game.

Want Julio's Health Tips? Read Breakfast at Julio's from 2006. It's intimidating.

Most of the text came from here.

What If?

I just finished this for our parent's newsletter that goes out. I'm up way too late because I've been sick from Wed night till Sunday morning. I slept so much on Thursday and Friday, my hips were actually sore.

Here it is:

I like movies but I have a short list that make my “Movies I Love” List and Apollo 13 is one of them. There are many things about the story, both the true version and the Hollywood version, that I am enamored by. One of them is the team at NASA having a “What If Attitude”.

One of the major problems the crew and support staff faced was the rising levels of carbon dioxide in their “lifeboat”. The Aquarius was designed to support two astronauts so by having three in there at the same time the air was going to approach a dangerous level, very fast. A chemical called lithium hydroxide removes CO2 from the air and traps it.

The problem was there weren’t enough of lithium hydroxide canisters onboard to support three people.

There were more on the Odyssey but they were in a different shape so they had to design something out of the materials they had on board to function as a converter for the air filter. They used one of the canisters that didn’t fit, a flight plan cover, a sock, a plastic bag, a spacesuit hose and duct tape to create something that would save their lives.

It’s easier to have an If Only Attitude rather than a What If Attitude.

In the world of student ministry, it can look like this:

The If Only Attitude says things like, If only we had more money in the budget we could do better things, If only more students came then we’d be where we want to be, If only we had more support from the church or families we could . . . . . .

The What If Attitude says things like this, “What if we cancelled the mission trip and used that budget money to go towards. . . . What if we took care of the students who do come in such a great way they . . . . What if we communicated better with parents and the church about our needs. . .

The What If Attitude works with what you have and uses it in ways it was never designed for to accomplish great things.

In your own family which attitude is the norm, the If Only Attitude or the What If Attitude?

What would happen in your family, your marriage, your students lives and your church if you we were dominated by the What If Attitude?

I’m guessing it would look different for each of us and I believe God loves diversity that honors him.

I wonder. . . . . What If. . . . . . . ?

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