10/31/2006

Change, by John Mayer...

On top of being ridiculously talented as a musician, and a super-funny dude, who knew John Mayer was also such a profound thinker? In his latest post, he introspectively examines his life in such a way that makes me think he might be searching for something more. Check it out here...

The Great(est) Pumpkin...

Today is Halloween. In honor of one of the reasons for tooth decay, I give you the truthiness-est pumpkin ever.

Stephen Colbert is amazing...

HT to CC Insider

10/27/2006

My Day of Birth...

Today is my day of Birth, or as most in the western hemisphere would say, my birthday. I'm 26. It's the first birthday that I've ever had where I was depressed about becoming a year older. Why am I depressed about 26? Because 25 was the last birthday left with an added perk for a long time. When I turned 25 I could rent a car. What do I have to look forward to now? I'll tell you what: My senior citizen's discount at restaurants. And I don't get that until I hit 65. All I have left are decades. And I've never heard of anyone enjoying turning 30, 40, or 50. Maybe 60. Maybe.

So what did I do on the day of my birth? I spent the day with my co-worker, Silas, finishing our work on the castle above. This weekend we are starting a new teaching series on the armor of God. So I built a castle.

I also ate at a Japanese buffet called Todai. Editor's Note: My friends pretty much regret the decision to take me there. I'll let you figure out why.

I also built my own suit of armor out of a 30 gallon trash can and some metal tubing. I'll post a picture of that after Sunday.

The rest of the weekend is filled with more church prep and, even though I'm not sure where I'll find the time, I'm moving into a new place tomorrow.

Editor's Note: I wish that I hadn't sliced my hand open 4 times while cutting the garbage can.

As it turns out, I've gotten a lot of gift certificates to retaurants this year. Editor's Note: I wonder if my friends are trying to tell me something? Let's see if I get even more friends now that I have the means to get free food...

10/25/2006

Web Wednesday: Another One That is Actually Useful...

Last week, for Web Wednesday, I posted about this gem of a website. To supplement that post, here is this week's Web Wednesday item: It's known as the NET Bible. It's pretty much the greatest commentary tool that you'll ever use. I think that the guy who invented it must have collected every footnote known to man and put them all here for safe keeping. Enjoy...

10/24/2006

Mind Trick...

Perhaps it's because I continue to post mega-long, self-examining posts (and you continue to read them), but I wanted to give you guys some more fun today. I tried this over on Jaime's Blog and began to lose it on about the third or fourth line down.

Here's what you have to do: Look at the picture above. Now, say the color of each word. NOT the actual word. Got it?

Enjoy...

Web Wednesday: Dude, You Do Know That Today is Tuesday? Right...

I know that Web Wednesday isn't for another 7 hours. But, this is a special edition that I dedicate to my good friend, Alice. Alice, because you were denied endless hours of enjoyment during your formative years due to such a curious absence of one of the greatest toys of all time, I give you the online Lite-Brite. Now, just so you know, this is not the "official" online Lite-Brite. That is found here. And while the "official" site has an option to share or print your work, it is tougher to operate. Therefore, not as fun.

So, Alice, I hope that you have the greatest birthday ever! I'm a huge fan...

Don't Stop Believin'...

Ever since I was a little, I've always had a problem accepting things as truth "just because". Whenever my mom or dad would suffice something they said with "because I said so", it would drive me crazy. I think that this may have been because I've always had a curiousity for understanding into why something is that way that it is. Why does this work like that? Why is this done that way and not this way? Why does so-and-so behave in such a way? I've always been driven by the question of why. Sometimes to the annoyance of others. And it's not as if I'm trying to get underneath people's skin, I just genuinely want to understand.

I've been dealing with this a lot lately. Something kind of unexpected shook out in my life and I've tried my best to understand the whys of it, but I keep hitting a wall.

A little while ago, I began reading through the book of Mark. I think that Mark is the least read of all the Gospel accounts for me. I came across a story in Mark 5:21-43 that spoke to me about understanding and belief, and how, sometimes, they fit together. And sometimes they don't. Pretty big stuff at the time. But, this past week, God brought it to mind two other times. Once when I taught from this story at a staff devotional. And once when I taught it to my small group guys.

The funny thing is, that even in the midst of my quest for understanding, I couldn't recognize my lack of faith. Here's an excerpt from my journal. It may or may not help to clarify what I'm thinking. I've made some notes to it to signify present learnings.

Mark 5:21-43
What God said to me: This passage is interesting because, like a good movie, there is a story that takes place within a story. First you have Jairus’ request of Jesus to heal his daughter. Then, on his way there, you have his encounter with the woman who had been hemorrhaging (or as the TNIV says: suffering) for 12 years. Two things in this passage strike me.

One, I can’t help but notice the woman’s humility in approaching Jesus. According to the text, she had exhausted every resource she had in finding healing from her ailment, yet to no avail. Nothing had worked. And apparently, the care she had received from other doctors had only made her worse. (vs. 26) And yet, as Jesus passed through her town, she reached out for him. In the midst of a crowd of people forcing themselves closer to him, she reaches out for a piece of his robe. I think that the context of that reach is really important. All around Jesus you have people crowding and pushing their way to the front to be the one beside Jesus. They want to be beside him. They wanted to be the one who saw what he was going to do next. And nobody was going to get in their way. And yet, this woman just wanted one touch. I kind of picture her being lower to the ground than the others. Waiting for any hole in the crowd behind Jesus to appear, she immediately squeezes herself into it until, eventually, she makes her way just behind him. And with, what to her, must have been an enormous amount of energy, she reaches between arms and waists just to touch a corner seam of Jesus’ robe. She didn’t try to get before him and plead her case. She knew that just a touch would do it. It almost seems like she didn’t consider herself important enough to waste his time. (Actually, upon closer inspection of the next couple of verses [33] it looks like she may have been afraid to talk to him.) She obviously recognized Jesus’ power. Maybe that’s why she was afraid to face him. In any event, she is brought to Jesus upon his realization that someone has touched him, and it has caused power to leave him. The Bible says that she tells him what happened as she trembled with fear. But Jesus leaves her with a recognition of her faith. "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering. " Jesus heals her in an amazing display of her faith and his power.

Two, in this passage, specifically in the healing of Jairus’ daughter, we see the fourth mention of fear in the past chapter and a half. Two of these mentions (Legion and the hemorrhaging woman) are a result of recognizing who Jesus is. But the other two (Jesus calming the storm, and his response to Jairus upon finding out that his daughter had died) seem to be addressing some lack of faith. Jesus, upon hearing the news from a servant, that Jairus’ daughter was no more, turns to Jairus and says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” It’s as if he knew that this news would shatter Jairus’ faith. Editor's Note: This is really the part that hit me hard this past week. So he speaks directly to Jaius, directly into his heart, and says despite what you now know; despite the present circumstance, despite what you think is possible or impossible: just believe. There’s no step-by-step process in how to fix the problem. There’s no if you do this, then this will happen and you’ll need to do this. There’s just believe.

Editor's Note: Here's what I've thought about since writing this originally: It's funny how the order of events in this story turn out to be so important. First, Jairus asks Jesus to heal his daughter, thereby displaying a great measure of faith in Him. Then, as Jairus and Jesus travel to Jairus' house to meet his daughter, Jairus gets to witness a miraculous healing take place in a woman who, since he was a synagogue leader, Jairus probably either knew, or knew of. So, he must have known that she had been suffering for twelve years. He's there. He gets to see Jesus heal her. Not only does he see it, but he hears Jesus say that it was because of her FAITH that she is healed.

One could logically conclude from reading an account such as this that Jairus' faith would be strengthened by witnessing such an unusual event. However, almost immediately after seeing this, Jairus' faith is tested when one of his servants come and tells him that his daughter is dead. In fact, the servant follows it up with, "Why bother the teacher any more?"

In a moment that would have probably brought greater clarity in his faith, Jairus is smacked in the face with circumstance. Jesus must have known what this would do to him. The Message says that he said to him, "Don't listen to them; just trust me."

I don't understand my present circumstance. And, in earnest, that drives me absolutely CRAZY! But I know that, Biblically, whenever fear and confusion are present, Jesus' response is always the same: Don't listen to them; just trust me.

Don't listen to your circumstance. Don't listen to what your feelings tell you. Don't listen to what your brain tells you is possible or impossible. Don't search for formulaic, easy, controllable answers to your aching hearts' search for a fix! Don't try to discover ways that YOU can fix things on your own!

Just trust Jesus...

10/20/2006

Shuffle Up and Deal: Jason Pogue...

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time for your favorite Friday stop: Shuffle Up and Deal! Today's edition is provided by Mr. Jason Pogue. Pogue is a great dude who I had the pleasure of serving in a ministry with in Orange County. He now works as a part of the staff at my former church. He also manages the Fantasy Football league that I am in.

Here's his first five...


1) You Alone by David Crowder* Band

2) Gratitude by Beastie Boys

3) In My Daughter's Eyes by Martina McBride

4) Fall Line by Jack Johnson

5) He Came, He Saw, He Conquered by Petra

10/19/2006

Fields of Gold...

Here's the deal: I love TV. I mean, I'll usually watch whatever. So, if love means spending a lot of time with and being comfortable with something enough to get used to it, then I love TV. But, every now and then, a genuinely good show comes on that makes me really love TV.

Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip is one of those shows.

I feel like, everytime I watch it, I learn a little bit about how comedy, TV, and (in a weird way) life work. Some of the ways that Aaron Sorkin chooses to articulate the feelings and thoughts of his characters ring very true to me. Watching this show makes me want to watch The West Wing. If any of you have it, and want to let me borrow it, it would be awesome.

This past Monday night, Sting guested on the show and performed his song "Fields Of Gold". He's one of my favorite musicians ever. Ever. Something in the way he did this song (with a lute no less!) combined with the interaction between these two characters ALMOST made me cry. But I didn't! Editor's Note: OK. I might have teared up a little...

Here's a clip so you can judge for yourself. Do yourself a favor: Go to iTunes and buy this version of this song, then, set your Tivos and watch this show...

UPDATE: The video was removed from YouTube due to copyright infringement. Sorry...

Bowling + Rollercoasters = Fun...

The title of this post, as much as I don't want it to be true (since it indicates that something is definitely wrong with me), is definitely a proven fact. I watched this, and started giggling as soon as I realized where it was going. Then, when it happened, I couldn't help but laugh...



HT to Marko

10/18/2006

Web Wednesday: One That Is Actually Useful...

I thought that this Web Wednesday, I would give you guys something that you could actually use. So, this week's entry comes to us from biblegateway.com. Every pastor at our church uses this website. If you need to look up a verse based on subject, keyword, or version, this is the place for you. It's got almost every widely-used version of the Bible that's in print. Check it out. Next week, I'll give you part 2 to this post...

Me, a Name I Call Myself...

A couple of weeks ago I posted on how I was beginning to feel a little bit burned out. It was a pretty tough post for me to write for two reasons:

1) I'm not usually a guy who is comfortable "putting himself out there" for people to see. Most people would call this a fear of vulnerability. I'm sure that everyone has it to a certain degree, but sometimes (to be completely transparent) I let it control me. Posting something so personal about myself let people see behind the curtain. I've always had trouble asking for (actually, it's probably more like admitting that I need) help. I knew by posting on what I was dealing with, it would leave me open to criticisms and encouragement. The interesting thing about that is that, most of the time, I handle criticisms very well. Taking them in and learning what I can from them. But when it comes to encouragement, I almost don't know what to do with it. It's like a Chinese newspaper to me. I know what it's for, but I don't know how to use it.

2) It forced me to take a hard look at some things in my life that, up until that point, I hadn't paid that much attention to. (I say that "I didn't pay that much attention" because some of these things I didn't notice, and some of them I purposefully ignored.) I had to take a long look in the mirror and ask myself, "Why am I, a 25 year old dude who has been in professional ministry for only 4 years, feeling as though I'm nearing a place where I am having trouble sustaining the balance between my personal and professional lives?"

In response to these two things, over the past few weeks, I've started to process how I can get myself back to a place where I am functioning at my highest level. I've asked myself a couple of questions to try to understand how I can best do this.

A) When was the last time that, for an extended period of time, I felt like I was at my most balanced and healthy?

B) What was it about me that, at the time, would lead me to characterize myself as healthy and balanced? (i.e. What disciplines, practices, philosophies...)

C) Where am I at right now? (i.e. What's the difference?)

D) What actions do I need to take in order to get me back to that place? Editor's Note: A great follow up to this question, for me at least, has been "Am I committed to doing what's necessary for health?" It's really easy to go through the process of asking yourself all of these questions, arrive at some conclusions, and stop short; thinking that finding the answers to such introspective questions equates achieving personal health. When, really, it's just step one. To finish the journey and reach the goal (of personal and professional health and balance), you have to actually apply your learnings to your life. Knowledge, when applied to life (or experience), is called wisdom.

As a result of asking myself these questions, I've arrived at some better understandings about who I am and the things that I need to do to keep myself healthy, balanced, and excited about all things Josh. This isn't an exhaustive list, mind you. I'm sure that I'll continue to add to it over the next few weeks (or lifetime). But, these are things that I've landed on so far. They're not universal principles for ministry. Nor are they universal principles for living a more Godly life. They're just personal learnings on how I can better get a hold on my life. Hopefully, they might spark something in you and inspire you to reevaluate some things about your own journey.

- In order for my mind to operate to its fullest capacity, I have to continually feed it. Looking back over the past 4 years, I've had all of my best learnings, ideas, and progresses (both professionally AND personally) when I've been reading books. It's almost like my brain doesn't work as well as it should unless I'm consistently putting fresh things into it. As a result of this learning, I need to read at least a book a month in order to keep my brain from atrophying.

- In order for my body to operate to its fullest capacity, I have to work out. I've never been much of an athlete. Unless you count marching band. Which I do. So, I've never really been one to do any type of regular exercise. That is, up until this past January. Over Christmas, I went home, looked down, and realized that I had gained 20lbs since moving to California. So, I got a gym membership, worked with a trainer, and dropped about 24 lbs. So many people have told me this before (and I've never believed them... up until now), but exercise really does make you feel a lot better! I haven't worked out regularly in about a month, and I can definitely feel a difference in my mood and energy level. As a result of this learning, I need to work out at least 3 (preferably 4) times a week in order to keep my mood and energy level up.

- In order to keep my relationship with God healthy, I have to set some practical boundaries that will help me make Him a priority. Some people operate best in the mornings. Some are night owls. As for me, I operate best in social settings in the afternoon or at night. But when it comes to working, studying, or concentrating on anything that requires me to focus and think, mornings work best. This might have something to do with me preferring mornings to be quiet, and solitary. Editor's Note: Read that last sentence as: I don't play well with others before 10am. As a result of this learning, I need to fess up to reality and make my time with God a priority by not turning the TV on in the mornings before work on Tuesdays-Fridays. I will, instead, use that time to be with my God.

- In order to keep me from hating my job, I have to have regular office hours where I actually do work and then leave. I've been so used to being able to goof off during the day if I wanted to because I could stay as late as I wanted. Even come in on Saturday! Yeah... That isn't working anymore. As a result of this learning, I will be in the office for 8 hours a day on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Wednesdays, we have small groups at 7pm. So, I might stay in between, I might go to Barnes & Noble. I WILL NOT work on Saturdays unless absolutely necessary due to an event or special activity. I will hold my Mondays sacred as my day off.

As I said before, this isn't exhaustive. Just what I have so far...

10/11/2006

Part of the Updating Process...

Every Wednesday at our church, all of the pastors meet together for lunch and to talk about important things in the life of our church body. For the past two weeks, we've been talking about things that, we feel, need to be improved in the way that our church operates. Today, our process for following up on visitors was brought up. So, as with all of the other issues that were raised, our senior pastor wrote it on a white board so that we could look at it as part of a big picture. The only problem is that, when he wrote it, he abbreviated "Follow Up" to save room...

What was then written on the board was "Update F.U. Process".

Needless to say, I began laughing very loudly. And when the other guys realized what happened, they joined in...

Web Wednesday: Baby Toupees...

Here we are on another beautiful Web Wednesday! Today's entry comes to us from www.babytoupee.com. The name says it all. So, if your baby is bald, or if you have an immensely tiny head (and are bald yourself), go to babytoupee.com for all your tiny toupee needs...

10/07/2006

San "D"-iego...

Since moving to California, I haven't gotten many chances to see my family. I suppose that's one of the sacrifices that you have to be willing to make when you move across the country. This past week, my Great-Aunt came into town. Her name is Daisy, but when I was a little kid, I couldn't say that. So I shortened it to "D". I've called her that ever since.

She's here for an entire week. I'm trying to do the whole "work and be a good host" thing, but I'm not sure if it's working out. Tomorrow I have two church services and a leader meeting right after. Hopefully we'll be able to see some things that she'll think are sweet on Monday.

The picture on the left is of us at the top of Mt. Helix. She said it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. But I think that she was exaggerating...

10/06/2006

Shuffle Up and Deal: Gerry Rojas...

This week has flown by! I can't believe it's already time for shuffle up and deal! This week's featured guest is none other than Mr. Gerry Rojas. Not only is Gerry a great friend from my days in Orange County, but he's an extremely faithful volunteer in the High School Ministry at his church. And, he might be the only other person I know who maybe would be willing to allegedly go to the Con with me for the past two years. Maybe...

So, what music do you get when you combine one part High School Ministry with one part alleged nerd? Only one way to find out...

1) Good by Better Than Ezra

2) Let Me Entertain You by Robbie WIlliams

3) Words of Wisdom by Jump Little Children

4) The Employment Pages by Death Cab For Cutie

5) Kissing the Lipless by The Shins

10/05/2006

Super Genius...

When I say that I work for a genius, I am not stretching the truth one bit. My boss, Brian, has an amazing mind for organizing.



He came up with the white board system that you see above.

I have always had a bit (read as A TON) of trouble managing my time. Deadlines and scheduling have never been on my list of spiritual gifts. I use the calander feature on my Microsoft Entourage program to make plans, but since it only shows one month at a time, I usually end up in an "out of sight, out of mind" scenario. Which is why Brian's white boards are such an amazing tool.

He took a regular sized, magnetic 8ft. white board and cut it up and reframed it into 2ft. sections. Then, used pin-striping tape to mark off calanders on each board. So, using magnetic labels, he put names of the month, names of the days, and numbers of the date on each month. He then plans his ENTIRE year out! But, the real beauty of the system is that, because they are in 2ft. sections (each containing 3 months), after 3 months are done, you take that section off of the wall, shift the others over, and reformat the old section. This way, at all times, you have an entire year in front of you. Brian was able to do this on one wall. But, I had to put three sections on one wall and one over my desk (as pictured). If you like the idea and want to reproduce it, let me know and I'll get you more details.

Do any of you have any tips that you can share with the masses on organization and time management? Leave them in the comment section and I'll compile them up into a post...

Web Wednesday: Too Little, Too Late...

Our small groups kicked off last night and, as a result, yesterday was a super crazy day. I know that you might have shown up at this blog expecting to be blessed with a bit of internet goodness on Web Wednesday, but might have felt a sense of disappointment when you found no such blessing. But fear not! For I have returned on Thursday to bless you with a dose of the internet's many goodies!

Today's amazing find comes to you courtesy of the 1990's: the decade of slap bracelets, silk shirts, Snow, and Hootie and the Blowfish. Go here to find a glossary of slang terms from the Nineties. It's "all that" and "the bomb"...