6/30/2007

The Dramatic Chipmunk...

If you don't think this is funny then you have no soul. And by "you have no soul", I don't mean that you couldn't dance to a James Brown song. I mean you are a hollow shell of a person who only sees the world in muted shades of gray and probably kicks puppies...

The Gospel According to Adam Sandler...

I believe that I've mentioned before that my church, every year, does a series called God At the Movies. It's our church's biggest series of the year as far as visitor attendance goes. A lot of that has to do with how easy it is to invite someone to a church service revolving around a current movie. This is the last weekend of the series and it was "people's choice". Well, the people chose the movie Click.

Now, you might think that there could be no redeemable truth contained in an Adam Sandler movie, but you'd be wrong. When I watched it upon its initial release, I thought a lot about it afterwards. But, some of the things that our teaching pastor, Ed, pointed out tonight were quite new, and very needed, to me.

Here's a little taste...

  • There can be a big difference between the life that we choose and the life that we want.

    Life Saving Corrections
    1) The who is defining "happy" correction. (What is the good life?) Most of the time we all feel tension between our desire to persue excellence in our professional life and our various loves in our personal life. We feel like success is keeping both going at full steam all the time. Too bad it's not possible. You can't give 100% of yourself to more than one thing. Let's be clear: we will always be disappointing someone.

    2) I can't pick and choose which moments to really live! (Being present with God in the moment takes practice!) I don't know if this is true for you, but I feel like every birthday that I have makes the following year go by even faster than the last. If we're not very purposeful in how we live our lives, always inviting God into them and really living each moment as if we'll never get it back, then out tendency of going on autopilot can take over and we'll blink and miss everything. Parents, back me up on this. How long did it take for your kids to go from diapers to prom dresses? Be careful about waiting for things to "slow down".

    3) This has to be a constant correction: Live life one choice at a time. We choose our destiny (who we are and who we are becoming) one choice at a time. Our spiritual battles are fought (and won or lost) one choice at a time. It's the whole "eat the elephant one bite at a time" principle. We tend to think that we can't change who we are. That we are what we are. But the main thing we are doing is becoming! We are (or can be) in a constant state of flux. I think that the 3rd biggest gift that God gave us was the gift of choice. (The first two being life and salvation.) We have an amazing power in being able to choose what our lives look like and who we are becoming. God help us if (and when) we waste it. It's also important for us to remember that practice makes permanent. I mean, we can make the same choice over and over again thinking it's the right thing, but unless it truely is, our practice isn't making us perfect. It's making us perfectly wrong in a very permanent way.

    4) The glass plate correction. Ed said that he and his family used to watch Ed Sullivan every Sunday night. He said that they used to have a guy come on all the time that would spin plates on these dowel rods. He'd have about 6 or 7 going at once. As soon as he'd get the last one up, the first one would begin to wobble. SO he'd run back to it and spin it some more. Well, as much as he tried, every now and then one would still fall. The secret, Ed said, was that some plates were made of plastic. So, he always made sure to pay more attention to the glass plates than he did the plastic ones. We're always going to have plates that drop, we have to be careful which plates we let drop.


    So many of us tend to live in (work toward and plan for) the future while thinking about (dwelling on) the past. But, what would life be like if we could live, I mean really live, in the present while thinking about the future? The thing that I love the most about God is that he can redeem your past, present, and future (no matter what they may hold) if only we would trust Him!

    And you thought Adam Sandler movies were all about fart jokes and frostbitten foots. Want to listen to the message yourself? Just click here...
  • 6/29/2007

    RIP Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip 2006-2007...

    For the second time this year, I'm forced to say goodbye to a show I love before I'm ready to. Goodbye Studio 60. No one ever gave you a chance...

    It's the Final Countdown...

    Editor's Note: G.O.B. Bluth reference... check.

    I'm heading out to the gym right now, but I wanted to make sure that I posted something really quick. I saw this on some other blogs and thought it looked interesting. Here's a countdown of stuff in the residence...

    10 seasons of F·R·I·E·N·D·S on DVD...

    9 neckties (that I never wear)...

    8 Eggo waffles...

    7 back issues of Ultimate Spider-man...

    6 mason jar drinking glasses. Editor's note: They just make me feel more dude-like...

    5 books in my "to read" pile (Confessions of a Pastor, Practicing Greatness, Energy Zappers, Sex God, and The Audacity of Hope)

    4 12 oz. bottles of Texas Pete hotsauce...

    3 videogame systems...

    2 pairs of Rainbow sandals, brown and black respectively...

    1 dude that seriously needs to go work out...

    6/28/2007

    A Face For Radio...

    This Friday marks the release of Disney/Pixar's newest movie, Ratatouille. And, if early reviews are any indication, it's going to be their best yet.

    Well, as I've been waiting to see it, I began to think of all of the
    UH-mazing Disney movies that I've seen over the years. Movies like The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King. And then I started to think, "I wonder what the actors who provide the voices for these characters look like." So, of course, I did some digging on the internets. Here's a few of my faves...

  • Ariel, The Little Mermaid as voiced by Jodi Benson



  • Peter Pan as voiced by Bobby Driscoll



  • Baloo as voiced by Phil Harris



  • Lumiere as voiced by Jerry Orbach



  • Megara as voiced by Susan Egan



  • Belle as voiced by Paige O'Hara

  • 6/27/2007

    The Journey of 1,000 Steps Just Began...

    I mentioned in a past post that I'd like to write a book someday. I've kind of been saying"someday" for about 6 years now. Well, this summer, I'm going to take the first steps toward my goal.

    I had lunch with a friend yesterday who's involved in publishing and I asked him if he could offer any advice on getting started. He offered up some helpful direction and, as I listened, I came to a realization: this is totally possible. I mean, Pamela Anderson has "written" 2 novels herself. And, in relation to her, I'm certain of two things about myself: 1) I'm as smart as her. And 2) I've got to work on my content. Because if I put a picture of myself on the cover, I might sell as many copies as her. But I'm not certain...

    So, I offer this goal to you, the public:

    By September 1st, I will write 2 sample chapters of around 3,000 to 5,000 words each. Also during that time, I will submit 2 articles to some magazines.

    After September 1st, I'll evaluate and see where I'm at, an then go from there.

    Here we go...

    Never Trust a Big Butt and a Smile...

    I've been sitting on this one for a while. But I think that now is the time to share with you one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite shows. Editor's Note: The title of this post is taken directly from a lyric in the song "Poison" by Bel Biv Devoe.

    If you've never watched Scrubs, you're totally missing out. No matter how many times I watch this scene, it never fails to make me laugh. In it, Turk demonstrates his lip synching ability to a skeptical audience. I think that I might memorize this routine and perform it one day in church spontaneously...

    Scared Utility Vehicle...

    OK people, I've got a bone to pick with some of you. Those of you who drive SUVs, stay with me. Those of you who don't, take a break and check out these videos.

    SUV drivers, you might be misunderstanding the purpose of your vehicle. You travel in a sport UTILITY vehicle. The original idea behind them was to be able to provide comfort while still being able to go wherever. However, in the past decade, you've turned the SUV into a wimpy neo soccer mom ride. Most of you don't even take them off road anymore. Could you do me a favor? STOP DRIVING SO SLOW OVER SPEED BUMPS! If you have a giant Chevy Tahoe, you can rest easy that it can handle the stress that they put on the suspension.

    Next time you see my Xterra in your rearview in the Target parking lot, just hit the gas and get out of my way. I need to get in and buy some shampoo...

    6/25/2007

    R.I.P. Chris Benoit: 1967-2007...

    FOX SPORTS is reporting that at 2:30pm today, the bodies of WWE superstar Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their son Daniel were discovered dead in the family's suburban Atlanta home.

    As of tonight, police say that they're treating the case as a murder-suicide.

    Out of respect for the tragic loss of a great wrestler, WWE canceled it's scheduled Monday night program to be broadcast from Corpus Christi, TX to broadcast a 3 hour tribute to "The Crippler".

    Benoit was always one of my favorite wrestlers to watch, whether he was a face or a heel. You could always turn on the TV or walk into the arena knowing that, if he was on the card, you'd get a great show.

    Please pray for the family and friends of the Benoits as they cope with such an unbelievable loss...

    (Half) Day 3 With Dad...

    This morning came WAY too early! Dad woke me up at 7:30am and I grabbed a quick shower and we were off again!

  • I took Dad to breakfast at one of my all time favorite places in San Diego: Kono's. It's a little surf café in Pacific Beach right in front of Crystal Pier. I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say that they have the best eggs on the face of the planet. (I can't, however vouch for what eggs are like below the earth's crust.) If you ever come to visit San Diego, make sure that you go. If you ever come and visit me, I'll probably take you and pay. Here's a picture of paradise...

  • We took a walk on the pier and then I got Dad to walk along the beach and actually get his feet wet in the surf. He was so stoked that he can now say that he's been in the ocean on both sides of the country.

    Dad's flight left at 12:40pm, so I had to take him to the airport after that. It was awesome to have him here and for him to finally get to see what I've given my life to. Hopefully, after this, he'll be able to come out more regularly...
  • Day Two With Dad...

    I was stoked to be able to show Dad around my church this morning. The downside to this was, of course, having to get up early after such a busy day yesterday. So, here's how today was filled...

  • Dad came in to watch our first Middle School service. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I worked super hard to make sure it was one of our best. I think we did a pretty good job.

  • I went with him to our adult service during the second hour. Dave Garza, one of Willow Creek's worship leaders, was here this weekend guest leading. With him on music and our teaching pastor, Ed, knocking another one out of the park, I think it was a great morning! It looked like Dad liked it too!

  • We had lunch at In-N-Out. I think it's just one of those places out-of-towners just have to have.

  • I haven't done this since I was a little kid, but after lunch I watched today's NASCAR race with Dad. It definitely reminded me of all the times he would fall asleep in his chair while watching the race and I would try to stealthily steal the remote. Of course, he would wake up, tell me to change it back, and then fall right back asleep.

  • I tried taking him to the Cabrillo National Monument, but it was closed. So, I took him to Sunset Cliffs. He thought it was super sweet. He also got nervous when I got too close to the cliffs. Here's a pic...

  • We left the cliffs and went to walk along the harbor. Dad took lots of pictures of boats, especially the Star of India.

  • We met Brian for coffee at Starbucks. My dad's been a builder for his whole life and I thought he and Brian would get along great. Turns out I was right. They talked all about things I had no understanding of at all. 4 by this and cross bolt that. Good times...

  • We got home and I made a barbecue chicken pizza. Dad and I played some video games and then he called it a night.

    He leaves tomorrow at noon. We're getting up bright and early to go eat breakfast at my favorite spot in San Diego: Kono's. It's going to be sweet...
  • 6/24/2007

    Day One With Dad...

    I picked up my dad at the airport last night and got him back to the residence around 11:30. When he walked in, I had a San Diego Harley Davidson shirt waiting on him. Needless to say, he was stoked! I had today all planned out and ready to go. Here's what we did...

  • We started the day off right by having breakfast at Janet's café. I had a giant waffle and Dad had two giant ham steaks. It was awesome...

  • From there, we went on to Mt. Helix. When my aunt was here in October, this was her favorite part. I didn't get to take Dad at sunset, but he loved it just the same. You can see all the way to downtown and Mexico from there. Pretty sweet...

  • On to the El Cajon Harley dealership! As Dad was checking out the latest models, I had my eye on this boss scooter...


  • Del Mar fair was next. Let's be honest: I just wanted to go for the food. Turns out, I didn't eat that much. But my favorite thing (that I saw) was a booth selling chicken sandwiches made of a piece of chicken between Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Check it out...


  • This was my favorite part of the day: In all of my dad's 52 years on this earth, he's never been to a pro sporting event. I got the chance to take him to his first. Tonight we saw the Padre's beat the Red Sox 6-1 in an awesome game. Were the tickets overpriced? Yes. Were the seats great? Yes. The Padres ran the show the entire game and the Red Sox manager was thrown out. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah! And I bought my dad his first churro!
  • 6/22/2007

    Once Again, I Am Embarrassed By the Print Media...

    For my first embarrassing moment involving the written word, click here...

    This morning I got up bright and early to make sure I had everything in order for my dad's visit. Editor's Note: There are some things in my apartment that I've let slide for a while now. Dad's visit is the perfect catalyst for improving or replacing them. So, as I do almost everyday, I went to Target.

    As I stood in line, waiting to purchase my brand new toilet seat, my eye caught the cover of last week's People magazine, pictured above. I picked it up and began to flip through it in search of the cover article on the new Harry Potter book. That's when the person in front of me completed their purchase and moved on. Of course, I didn't realize this until I heard the cashier say, "So you think Matthew McConaughey is sexy too?"

    Immediately my head was flooded with possible denials. "Oh no, I was just reading about Harry Potter." or, "I'm doing research on what women want in men.", or even "He's my cousin." But, by the time I waded through the thought flood of responses, all I could muster together was, "Who doesn't?" This was, of course, greeted with giggles from at least 3 women standing around the register.

    Thank you, People magazine, for providing the patrons of Target with a bit of humor, albeit at my expense, this morning...

    First Indiana Jones 4 Pic...

    Comingsoon.net has the very first picture from the upcoming Indiana Jones 4! Click on the image below for a larger version...

    6/21/2007

    Prayer of a Father...

    One of the many reasons why I love my church:

    We have a couple of different prayer teams at our church. One of these teams is specifically committed to praying for the personal and professional needs of us pastors. Well, one of the men on this team heard about my dad's visit this weekend, as well as a little bit of background on my story. He said he felt a strong nudge from God to pray for me, so he stopped by my office this afternoon and did just that. He told me all about his relationship with his dad, and how God had provided healing there. Then, he listened as I relayed some of my story. Afterwards, just as he said he would, he prayed for me.

    I couldn't help but feel so incredibly blessed that God would send someone to me just to pray for me.

    Thanks so much for putting me where you put me, Lord. I love my church...

    Body Double 13: Body DOOble...

    I'm trying my best to get stuff ready for my dad's visit tomorrow. I've been cleaning my apartment all week long and, tonight, I went grocery shopping for some things I remembered that he loves: Fritos and french onion dip, Frosted Flakes, Mountain Dew, and an ash tray. (Hey, what can I say?)

    As I walked down one of the frozen food aisles in search of some Eggos, I came across this Round Holiday Challah. Now, maybe it's just the Middle School Pastor in me talking, but does it bear a strange resemblance to a certain novelty product? I think we've got a double...

    6/20/2007

    The 4400...

    I've told you before that I'm a nerd. But some of you didn't believe me. Let it be known across the world that there is no bottom to the well that is my nerdiness.

    Well, on top of the two books that I'm reading right now, I've picked up a new TV show too. The 4400 is a sci-fi show that comes on USA. Here's a brief description from wikipedia:

    What is originally thought to be a comet deposits a group of exactly 4400 people at Highland Beach, in the Cascade Range foothills near Mount Rainier, Washington. All of the 4400 disappeared at various times starting in 1946 in a beam of white light. After their return, none have aged, all are disoriented, and remember nothing between the time of their disappearance and their return.

    It's a mix of The X-Files and Heroes. Kind of a conspiracy meets destiny kind of thing. In other words: sweet...

    Editor's Note: I realize that with every post I write like this, the chances of people (especially girls) who read this blog thinking that I'm not a complete lost cause are greatly diminished. I think I've come to terms with that. Maybe... Wait. I haven't? Nope. I haven't. So, scratch this post. I only watch Sportscenter and others of that ilk...

    6/19/2007

    What If...

    I found a sweet article listing out people who passed on, or were considered for, movie parts. Ever wonder what your favorite movie would have been like with someone else playing the hero? Check out the full article here. Here's some of my faves...

    Little Miss Sunshine
    Bill Murray turned down Steve Carell's role, which reportedly became one of the few choices in his career that he regretted.

    Speed
    Halle Berry turned down the role of Annie, later picked up by Sandra Bullock. Stephen Baldwin turned down the role of Jack - which went to Keanu Reeves.

    The Passion of the Christ
    Jason Patric turned down the role of Jesus in the Mel Gibson epic. Jim Caviezel put his hand up.

    Pretty Woman
    Daryl Hannah turned down the role of Vivian because she felt it was denigrating to women. She later appeared in Dancing at the Blue Iguana as a stripper. Molly Ringwald also passed. Vivian's role was snapped up by Julia Roberts and the rest is history. Al Pacino turned down Richard Gere's role.

    Across the Universe...

    I've seen this trailer attached to almost every movie I've seen this summer. I can't help but be stoked...

    Feel Good Inc...

    There were a couple of different times today that made me pause and think, "This is something that is very right with the world, and I love it." Here are a few of those...

  • The music of Michael Bublé. It just makes me smile everytime I listen to it.

  • Von's grocery store. Everytime I've ever been to Von's, because of my Von's Club Card, they call me by my name as I leave... I like that.

  • A clean kitchen/dining room. My dad is coming to visit for the first time ever this Friday. I figured that, rather than wait until the night before to clean like I usually do, I would clean a little bit at a time all week. Having a clean space just makes me feel more together.

    What's right about your world...
  • 6/18/2007

    Bat-Pod...

    The L.A. Times is reporting a story on the new bat cycle, or Bat-Pod, from the upcoming sequel to Batman Begins called The Dark Knight. Check out the article here and the pics below...

    Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer vs. Shrek the Third...

    Here it is! The first vote for the summer's best movie! As I said here, voting runs from Monday, June 18th through Monday, July 2nd. Make sure to vote for which one you liked the best. The winner will move on to face the winner of Stardust vs. Ocean's 13. By the end of summer, we'll have our first ever "Part of the Process..." Summer Movie Champion...

    6/17/2007

    I Love You, Beth Cooper. But I'm Tired of You Making Me Look Up Words...

    I took two books with me to Chicago: Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times and I Love You, Beth Cooper. I picked up the latter based upon Alice's recommendation.

    So far, after only 8 hours, I'm halfway through. It reads like a teen comedy movie. (Actually, after being on the shelf for only a short time, the movie rights have already been picked up.) It's a great book and it's super funny, but I keep running into a problem. You see, so far in the 106 pages I've read, I've had to look up 11 words. I love expanding my vocabulary!

    Here's a quick list of the words I've learned from Larry Doyle...

    Esoteric
    Supercilious
    Anthropological
    Penumbra
    Lubriciously
    Sebaceous
    Phobophic
    Gait
    Mien
    Insouciance
    Defenestrating

    Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer...

    "All that you know is at an end."

    After a great, but long, week, I needed a little escape. What better way to decompress than to fully embrace my inner comic book nerd and enjoy the latest summer fare from our friends at marvel. The first Fantastic Four movie was a critical disappointment but a surprising success at the box office. So, how did this one fare? Let's take a look...

    Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer
    Running Time: 89 mins.
    Directed By: Tim Story
    Starring: Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Ioan Gruffudd, Julian McMahon, Doug Jones

    If it's a comic book movie, you'd better believe that I'm going to see it. Last year's FF1 was OK, but definitely had it's missteps. At first, I'm inclined to say that it's director Tim Story's fault. As his only pre-fantastic credits are the two Barbershop movies. Because when you're searching for a guy to steer the vision on a film about one of the greatest comic books in history, of course you go after the guy who worked with Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer on a movie about how a haircut can change a man's life. But, truth be told, movies are collaborative efforts that have checks and balances just like the United States government. And we all know that that runs as smooth as olive oil.

    So, here's a basic rundown of the plot: Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben are back and prepping for Reed and Sue's wedding when a cosmic anomaly, the Silver Surfer, shows up and starts causing climactic chaos all over the world. The army steps in and forces the heroes to aid in bringing the surfer down. All this goes down as Dr. Doom shows up on the scene again.

    I had read a lot of negative reviews for this movie before I went in, so I already had a bad taste in my mouth. But, as the opening credits (which were awesome) started, I tried to clear my mind...

    What follows is a SPOILER FREE review.


    So, what was good?
  • The Silver Surfer. Doug Jones is an amazing actor. He's the guy behine the prosthetics in Hellboy, Pan's Labrynth, and a myriad of other movies. The guy has a background in mime and is a contortionist. He is officially the only cool mime in the history of the earth. This guy is a working Andy Serkis. Not to mention the special effects. The Surfer is the best looking effect in the whole movie.

  • Chris Evans. He gets his character, the Human Torch, just right. Cool, cocky, loud mouthed.

  • Stan Lee's cameo. My favorite so far.

    But...
  • Jessica Alba. IS BAD. First, the look is horrible. The character is blonde hared and blue eyed. So, what do they do? They cast the only young working brunette in Hollywood. Her blue contacts in the movie are the worst ever. You'd think since they'd changed so much in the movie anyway, they would've just let her have brown eyes. Her acting's better this time around, but still not great.

  • The Silver Surfer. I know. Wasn't this just in the good section? Yeah. But, if you put a character on every poster for your movie and put his name in your title, wouldn't you put him in your movie for more than 20 minutes?

  • Dr. Doom. Julian McMahon is horrible in this, and the last, movie. "Nuff said.


    It just felt like the story was rushed. I could go on and on with all of my fanboy complaints, but I'll spare you from that. And so, to Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer, I give the honor of being awarded a certified 2.5 Yarmulke™ rating.


    I would say that this is an OK movie to see if your first choice is sold out. It would also be a great one to take your little nephew or son to see. Dads, it would make a great Father's Day outing for you and your son. Check it out, but go for fun...
  • 6/16/2007

    Blue Like Jazz: The Movie...

    This is straight from Donald Miller off of the front page of his website. Such great news! I can't wait...

    What's Now

    Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson have been in Portland for the past week and we’ve pretty much completed the screenplay for Blue Like Jazz the movie. We’ve been working on the script for about a year, either with me flying to Nashville for a week at a time to sit around a table and hash out the story, or with Steve and Ben coming to Portland to stay at my house. When studios became more excited about the screenplay, we felt the need to wrap it up, and in the last few days we’ve pretty much done so. And I dont know if I’ve had more fun, or been more challenged, with any other writing project. I’m excited to see how the guys end up shooting the story.

    To say we’ve given the book a Hollywod treatment is an understatement. The book itself would be, of course, difficult to turn into a movie, and so we took creative liberties. But in my opinion, the movie will be infinitely better than the book. Essentially we’ve taken the major, real life characters from the book, and gave them a story all their own. The end result is provactive and humorous and in my opinion quite moving. I cant wait for people to see the film.

    We think production will be able to start next year, and the film will be shot on location in Portland. And I am as excited about showing off my town as I am about telling the story. I will keep you posted.

    Willow Arts Conference: Day Three...

    Such a bittersweet day... On the one hand, it's the day that Donald Miller is doing one of the general sessions. But on the other hand, it's the last day and we're heading home tonight. The Arts Conference has become one of my favorite times during the year and I can't believe it's already come and gone. Here's the highlights of the day...

  • I had a great time having some morning coffee with Scott and Phil. These guys are amazing Jr. High pastors and great dudes. I didn't even know Phil was in Chicago!

  • The morning session started with some great worship and kept going with a great message from Donald Miller, author of some great books that have been very influential in my life in the past year. Here's some of what he talked about:
    *Artists are so important to communicating the Gospel.
    *The enlightenment was what seperated art from the church. It changed how we look at truth. It used to be holistic. Now, it needs to be proven scientifically.
    *After the invention of the printing press, the communication of truth became almost exclusively written. But the problem with that was that most people were still illiterate.
    *One of the reasons why the early church had icons was to sommunicate truth to those who couldn't read.
    *Three main parts to the brain: Left (details, logic, TRUTH), Right (creativity), and the Amygdale (emotions). We've taken the Amygdale out of the brain and put it in the heart.
    *"Study the trinity and then study the human brain and ask yourself how humans are made in God’s image." You come to conclusions holistically whether you realize it or not.
    *Illus. of his friend Tony loving his wife. Why do you love your wife? Brains, Beauty, she has a huge love of God. If you found someone who ranked higher in these categories, would you trade away your wife and love her? Of course not. Part of why we love someone is a mystery.
    *After the enlightenment, we don’t like mystery anymore.
    *Coming to a conclusion and justifying our decision are two seperate things that work differently.
    *Truth and meaning go together especially in a relational context.
    *Jesus never used bullet points. He used stories, kind of "poetic grunts". Not because he was stupid, but because the reality of it (the kingdom of God) is too big!
    *“It’s not the poet that goes mad it’s the mathematician. The mathematician is trying to get heaven into his head. The poet is trying to get his head into heaven.” -G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy. (Three different speakers quoted this book this week. I think it would be wise for me to read it.)
    *Miller then presented how Romeo and Juliet relates the story of the Gospel as he did in Searching For God Knows What.
    *We can’t communicate the Gospel without art.

  • The last session was Erwin McManus and a ministry group from Mosaic called Scribble. It was mostly the group dancing and doing some drama, with an occasional interjection from McManus. One thing that resounded with me was when he said "Asking what kind of church do we want to become is the wrong question. If we ask what kind of future we want to create, we can figure out what kind of church we want to become."

  • I love this conference! I'm sure I'll be posting more on things that I've learned as I have time to process it over the next few weeks...
  • 6/15/2007

    Star Struck...

    I'm in the middle of the last main session right now, so I can't post much. But I just wanted to let you know that i just met another hero. Thanks for what you do, Donald Miller. You've changed my thinking, my heart, and as a result, my life. More to come on this later...

    Quote of the Day on IMDB...

    When I was a kid, My dad would read the paper every morning. He said it was so he would know what was going on in the world. I think it was because he had to know what was going on with Beetle Bailey. Anyway, as an adult myself, I have my own morning information gathering routine. I have a series of websites that I visit everyday to see what's going on. The third on that list is IMDB. One of the daily features it has is a daily quote from a movie or TV show. Today's quote comes courtesy of one of my favorite shows of all time: Veronica Mars. Reading it makes me long for the glory days of the show...

    "Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything. Creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle and then you choose. You can live in the wreckage and pretend it's still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild."

    Coz Every Girl Crazy 'Bout a Sharp Dressed Man...

    SHH! is reporting on Batman's new costume in next summer's The Dark Knight. Check it out...

    Willow Arts Conference: Day Two...

    Today was all about special topical break outs that we pre-registered for. Last year, I didn't have a chance to pick ahead of time, so I had to take what was left. This year, I was a little more purposeful and preemptive in my registration. So, I got the four that I wanted. Here's some on each:

    The Art of Teaching by John Ortberg
    I've never been a big Ortberg guy. But I thought that this was a great workshop.
  • For a church to do well, 2 spiritual gifts have to be present: Leadership and Teaching. If they're not there from the start, it's difficult for a church to get any traction.
  • How do you tell if you have the gift of teaching?
    *You have a positive anticipation for the preparation process. (Reading, research, outline process)
    *Where this gift is present, there will be a simultaneous process of illumination and communication. (As soon as you learn something you think, “How do I communicate this to people”.)
    *People with the gift live with a deep conviction that God’s word can transform a human life.
    *There's a God-given ability to discern and respond to a congregation. (A radar to read an audience.)
    *People with the gift receive widespread affirmation from others for their teaching. (Not just "you're a good speaker", but lives changed, reconciled relationships, job shift, addictions broken, a shift in belief, hope given.)
    *People with the gift receive the quiet assurance of the Holy Spirit that they are in the right roll for the right reasons.

  • How do you you hone your gift of teaching?
    *Listen to a variety of great preaching, (As you listen, discern why they’re doing what they’re doing) brainstorm with people who teach.
    *Understand and be very clear on what is at stake. (James 3:1)
    *Cultivate a deep rich inner life with Christ. (If my teaching doesn’t flow out of my own life, we’re all in trouble.)

  • The 7 deadly sins of teachers:
    *Lack of authenticity
    *Jealousy
    *Laziness
    *Fear (In order to teach people well, you need to be free of the need for people to like you.)
    *Plagiarism (Lack of integrity)
    *Narcissism
    *Discouragement


    Got Blog? by Kem Meyer
    I wanted this to be a great workshop. But it was basically an introduction to blogging. She spent a lot of time defining what a blog is and even spent about 25 minutes showing the group how to set up a blog on Blogger. I feel like I could have picked something that could have been a little more beneficial to me. Here's a couple of things I picked up:
  • Read The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey and Terry Storch
  • Why blog for ministry?
    *People are skeptical. They don’t want to hear from the establishment. They want to hear from a person. Blogging shows the unfiltered work of a real person.
    *It provides a face and personality to leaders in the church. You can’t disciple 1,000 people face to face, but you can post something personal that can touch 1,000 people.
    *It provides a face and personality to leaders in the church.


    These next two were Weekend Service showcases meant to give tons of examples of ideas on how to do some things differently in your own setting.

    Mosaic Church
    I was the most excited about this workshop. i've heard for so long that Mosaic is a church that's bent towards artists, that I've always wanted to check it out for myself. I kind of felt like I could belong there. Unfortunately, this was the biggest letdown of the whole day. Instead of presenting us with ideas, they put on a mini-service. But I'm sure not like the ones they put on there. Here's what they did: 3 songs, a dance, and a 45 minute message on John 10. No video. No ideas. Not that it was bad. But it was just... ordinary. I could have seen the same thing, minus the dance, at any church anywhere on any Sunday. I was so disappointed. My teammates that went last year said it was bad then too. I'm not sure I'd reccomend this workshop to anyone. I still want to check out the church.

    Granger Community Church
    Here's the deal: Granger is revolutionizing what it looks like to use technology and creativity in a weekend service setting. Rather than me trying to prove it, just go to their website, click on their media player and watch some awesome videos. Start by clicking on extras and then selecting "viewmaster". Be careful though. It's a video from their sex series. So, you know, use discernment. I'll post some of their processes on creative programming a little later. I would highly recommend going to anything they do.

  • The evening concluded with a "short film" festival that churches submited entries into. Very cool to see some of the work others are doing...
  • 6/14/2007

    Josh Goes to White Castle...

    Editor's Note: I'm sure that this, in no way, helps with my half-marathon training. Last year, while here in Chicago for the conference, one of the things I wanted to do the most was get some White Castle. But no one else wanted a piece of those oh-so-delicious mini-burgers. So, I had to go without. BUT NOT THIS YEAR! Tonight, as my roommate and fellow staffer, Jim, was bedding down, I took the rental car, cruised down the road and got my grease on. That's right: 4 mini-cheeseburgers, a regular fries, and a Diet Coke later and I'm a happy dude. Editor's Note: It should be noted that White Castle has a 30 burgers for $10.99 deal and I, and my inner overeater, briefly considered buying it. But I decided to abstain, in favor of postponing my inevitable heart attack during the previously mentioned half-marathon...

    6/13/2007

    Willow Arts Conference: Day One...

    Such a great opening day at the Arts Conference! This is my second year in attendance and, once again, I've been challenged and inspired by what I've been presented with. Here's some of what happened...

  • David Crowder* Band opened the day with an amazing worship set! The intro to Deliver Me, Here is Our King, I Saw the Light, a brand new song called Oh the Glory of it All that I loved, and Oh Praise Him.





  • Nancy Beach came up to welcome everybody.

  • Dewitt Jones was the first main session speaker. He was a photgrapher for National Geographic for 20 years. His talk was all about creativity. Lots of pictures and lots of great inspirational motivation. Here are some thoughts that hit me pretty hard:
    *The best way to give ourselves to God is to give ourselves to each other.
    *"We need to celebrate what is right with the world instead of wallowing in what is wrong." This has become a major theme throughout the conference.
    *Robert Frost said "My object in life is to unite my avocation with my vocation."
    *To love what you do, you have to make sure you keep your cup filled.
    *You need to hang out with people who love what they do.
    *Sometimes, to fall in love with what you do, you have to fake it for a little while.
    *Don't worry about making a difference. Make a contribution. I'm not sure if Jones is a believer. So I added to this, "Make a contribution and God will use you to make a difference.
    *It's important to practice one breath meditation. "Take all of life in and give it all back."
    *The light that makes us shine is not from the outside, but from the inside.

  • B-boy/Breakdancing/Hip-hop worship. Or as I like to think of it: You suckas just got saved! You know, kinda like the movie... Anyone? Alice is booing me right now. I can feel it...

  • Nancy Beach was the next main session speaker. I always love hearing Nancy because she seems so genuine in her passion for the arts and for artists. Here's some key points from her:
    *We must embrace the truth of pain and loss in order to point others to the light.
    *Never before seen clip from the Bono interview at last year's Leadership Summit!
    -All music is worship. It may be worship of the self. It may be worship of women. But it's all worship.
    -One of the main things Christian music is missing is the tension between hope and despair. Where are our songs of despair. Gospel songs are primarily about how great and happy the world is. That's the ideal. But I relate more with the blues.
    *Cynicism lacks courage
    *Make sure to look up G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy!
    *It's not enough to be people of hope. Our hope has to penetrate the lives of others.
    *Have the audacity to hope and just watch what our God can do!

  • Dan Kimball was up next. Now, I've traditionally not been a big fan of Kimball. Not because of any particular theological issue, but mainly because he's a very soft spoken person and slightly monotone. And, quite frankly, he puts me to sleep. But today, even though I struggled a little since it was after lunch, I was captivated by some findings he presented. He did about 25 minutes, then took part in a panel discussion. Here's some of his stuff:
    *There's a growing interest in Jesus in our culture, but a growing disinterest in the church and christians.
    *"I like your Christ. I do not like your christians. Your christians are so unlike your Christ." -Ghandi
    *6 things non-believers think about the church and christians:
    1) The church is "organized religion" and all into right wing politics.
    2) The church is judgemental and negative.
    3) The church is male-dominated and oppresses women.
    4) The church is homophobic.
    5) The church arrogantly believes that they're right and all other religions are wrong.
    6) The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.
    *Most christians and churches aren't like that.

    And then, Brian McLaren said this and blew me away: "Dan's title is they like Christ but not christians. Part of our problem is that the church likes Christ but not them."

  • After all of that, we attended another free pre-screening of Evan Almighty.

    Tune in tomorrow for more learnings...
  • Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite...

    Editor's Note: Let me start with a qualifying statement. The picture that you see to the left is not mine. I didn't take it. I found it on Google. But it is an accurate, if exaggerated, representation of what I just experienced.

    It's 1am Chicago time. I'm in room 235 in the Red Roof Inn in Hoffman Estates. I've been watching Deadliest Catch for a couple of hours now. After a long day of flying (with a MEGA loud baby two seats over from me) all I wanted was a quiet, peaceful night of relaxing sleep. But that's not what I'm getting. About a hour ago, as I lay on the bed, I felt a little tickle on my bare ankle. I shrugged it off for a few minutes thinking it to be a simple itch. But, upon checking, I discovered it was, in fact, a bedbug. I've killed three so far IN MY BED!!!!

    Needless to say, the front desk will be hearing about this in the morning. How am I supposed to fall asleep now...

    6/12/2007

    Newest Tourney Bracket...

    Here's the latest tourney bracket for Best Summer Movie. Remember, the first vote happens after the release of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer this weekend. It'll be a vote for which movie you liked better: FF2 or Shrek 3. Voting will be open starting on Monday, June 18th for 2 weeks from opening night of the latest movie. Sweet...

    3 Quick Movie Reviews...

    I've been meaning to post reviews on these three for a couple of days now, but haven't had the time. So, now I'm in Chicago and I've been traveling for the whole day and I'm tired. So, here's three super quick reviews for these three movies...

  • Evan Almighty- I got the chance to see a special pastor's screening of this last week. It was a good movie with a great message. There are some lines in this movie that are some of the most profound I've heard yet. It's super family friendly! I give it the honor of being awarded a certified 4 Yarmulke™ rating.


  • Surf's Up- I took my 7th grade guys small group to see this movie. If you like the Office or thiis is Spinal Tap, you'll like it. It's "filmed" like a documentary. It reminded me a lot of Shrek, in that it was funny to the kids but made the adults laugh too. Only, it wasn't because of innuendo like Shrek was. I thought it was great! I give it the honor of being awarded a certified 4 Yarmulke™ rating.


  • Ocean's 13- Not as good as the first. Not as bad as the second. Too long of a set up for to small of a payout. Al Pacino is good. Ellen Barkin is great. Clooney, Pitt and Damon phone it in. I give it the honor of being awarded a certified 2.5 Yarmulke™ rating.

  • Second City...

    I leave later today for Chicago to go to Willow Creek's Arts Conference. I absolutely can't wait! Last year was my first year and it was amazing. You can read a littlle about it here and in some other posts that follow. Anyway, I'll be posting everyday on what I'm learning. If any of you are in the Chicago area or will be at the conference, let me know on here and we'll hook up for lunch or coffee...