3/31/2008

Poetic License...

Mrs. Adams

My dearest friend,
How I miss you.
I long to be with you,
to hear your voice whisper,
to feel your hand on mine.

I think about you everyday.
Mourning… noon and night.
When will you come
back? To waiting, no more.
I can no longer bear the burden.

Your laugh, music.
Your heart, tender.
Your thoughts, great.
Your eyes, brilliant.
Your love, mine.

You’re worth the wait...

3/28/2008

Rod is Good. All the Time...

I had a late lunch today with my friend, Rod.

Rod is an amazing dude who, like me, loves movies, TV, comic books, and other geeky things. But he's also got an incredible mind for leadership. This is displayed, and enforced, by his habit of reading a tremendous amount of books on the subject.

About a year and a half ago, after I began to see this, I began to encourage Rod to start blogging about his learnings. I talked to him about it for a long time. A long time. And he finally started. He's been at it for about 8 months.

I know that there are a couple of blogs that people go to to check out current leadership trends, and I hope that you'll be prodded to add Rod's blog to that list.

Check him out here...

ZZZZZzzzzz...

Two days ago I took a trip up to Orange County. I stayed a little later than I planned and, as a result, didn't get back to The Residence until about midnight.

Well, without going into any details whatsoever, I had three things on my mind. I've posted before on how I tend to be a worrier. But, on this night, I was overtaken. I had, what I have called in the past, a thought flood.

I tried everything I could think of, but I couldn't stop my brain from spinning. I tried drinking some hot tea. I tried putting on a dvd and laying on the couch. But nothing worked. So I watched the clock tick off minutes until about 7am, when I finally fell asleep for about an hour.

Last night, I didn't want to have a repeat of the night before, so I decided to take some precautionary pharmaceutical measures. So I went to Target and browsed through the sleep aid aisle. I discovered that the chemical that helps (forces?) you to fall asleep is Diphenhydramine citrate. And, of all of the sleep aids/pain relivers, Advil pm had the most of it. So that's what I bought.

I got home and (even though the directions said for an adult to only take two), just to make sure I got to sleep, I took three. Now, before you accuse me of trying to OD, I want to say that these types of medications (Tylenol pm and the like) have never had an effect on me before. But this time, they did.

I began to feel a little weak-kneed within an hour. So, I laid down on the couch and fell asleep pretty fast. Mission accomplished, right? What I didn't anticipate was that the effects would carry with me into the morning.

I woke up about 8 or 8:30 and still felt a little weird. So, I got out of bed and back onto the couch. And that's where I laid falling in and out of sleep until about 1pm. Oh yeah... Advil pm means business! Right now, it's a little after 6pm and I'm just starting to feel the effects wear off.

So, blog readers, be warned. When taking sleep-aids of any kind be sure to follow the directions carefully. You never know what it can do to you.

Hopefully, everything will be back to normal tonight...

You're the Best Around: VI...

If I were a rich man, then I would buy a bunch of these blog posts...

  • Lauren reports on CATT's first Easter...

  • Josh meets an American Idol...

  • Julie is write here waiting...

  • Marko and his fam have one of the coolest Easter traditions ever...

  • Taffy is my hero...

  • Chris is jealous...
  • 3/27/2008

    AFI's Top 100 Movies...

    Some time ago, I remember seeing a special on TV on the American Film Institute's top 100 movies of all time. They original list was put out in 1998, but it was updated in 2007.

    As a movie guy, I was a little surprised at how many movies on the list I hadn't seen.

    So, I figured I'd post the list. Those movies in bold letters are ones I've seen. Looks like I've got a lot of work to do...

    The American Film Institute's 2007 list of the top-100 American movies:

    1. Citizen Kane, 1941.
    2. The Godfather, 1972.
    3. Casablanca, 1942.
    4. Raging Bull, 1980.
    5. Singin' in the Rain, 1952.
    6. Gone With the Wind, 1939.
    7. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962.
    8. Schindler's List, 1993.
    9. Vertigo, 1958.
    10. The Wizard of Oz, 1939.
    11. City Lights, 1931.
    12. The Searchers, 1956.
    13. Star Wars, 1977.
    14. Psycho, 1960.
    15. 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968.
    16. Sunset Blvd., 1950.
    17. The Graduate, 1967.
    18. The General, 1927.
    19. On the Waterfront, 1954.
    20. It's a Wonderful Life, 1946.
    21. Chinatown, 1974.
    22. Some Like It Hot, 1959.
    23. The Grapes of Wrath, 1940.
    24. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 1982.
    25. To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962.
    26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939.
    27. High Noon, 1952.
    28. All About Eve, 1950.
    29. Double Indemnity, 1944.
    30. Apocalypse Now, 1979.
    31. The Maltese Falcon, 1941.
    32. The Godfather Part II, 1974.
    33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975.
    34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937.
    35. Annie Hall, 1977.
    36. The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957.
    37. The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946.
    38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948.
    39. Dr. Strangelove, 1964.
    40. The Sound of Music, 1965.
    41. King Kong, 1933.
    42. Bonnie and Clyde, 1967.
    43. Midnight Cowboy, 1969.
    44. The Philadelphia Story, 1940.
    45. Shane, 1953.
    46. It Happened One Night, 1934.
    47. A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951.
    48. Rear Window, 1954.
    49. Intolerance, 1916.
    50. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001.
    51. West Side Story, 1961.
    52. Taxi Driver, 1976.
    53. The Deer Hunter, 1978.
    54. M-A-S-H, 1970.
    55. North by Northwest, 1959.
    56. Jaws, 1975.
    57. Rocky, 1976.
    58. The Gold Rush, 1925.
    59. Nashville, 1975.
    60. Duck Soup, 1933.
    61. Sullivan's Travels, 1941.
    62. American Graffiti, 1973.
    63. Cabaret, 1972.
    64. Network, 1976.
    65. The African Queen, 1951.
    66. Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981.
    67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966.
    68. Unforgiven, 1992.
    69. Tootsie, 1982.
    70. A Clockwork Orange, 1971.
    71. Saving Private Ryan, 1998.
    72. The Shawshank Redemption, 1994.
    73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969.
    74. The Silence of the Lambs, 1991.
    75. In the Heat of the Night, 1967.
    76. Forrest Gump, 1994.
    77. All the President's Men, 1976.
    78. Modern Times, 1936.
    79. The Wild Bunch, 1969.
    80. The Apartment, 1960.
    81. Spartacus, 1960.
    82. Sunrise, 1927.
    83. Titanic, 1997.
    84. Easy Rider, 1969.
    85. A Night at the Opera, 1935.
    86. Platoon, 1986.
    87. 12 Angry Men, 1957.
    88. Bringing Up Baby, 1938.
    89. The Sixth Sense, 1999.
    90. Swing Time, 1936.
    91. Sophie's Choice, 1982.
    92. Goodfellas, 1990.
    93. The French Connection, 1971.
    94. Pulp Fiction, 1994.
    95. The Last Picture Show, 1971.
    96. Do the Right Thing, 1989.
    97. Blade Runner, 1982.
    98. Yankee Doodle Dandy, 1942.
    99. Toy Story, 1995.
    100. Ben-Hur, 1959.

    American Idol: 2 for 3...

    And then there were nine...

    Even though my prediction was right, I'm not sure that America got it right when they voted off Chikezie. For the first time in a while, Kristy Lee Cook wasn't in the bottom three. But Jason Castro was. And, even though Griff loves him, I have to say that he's got to go!

    After this week's performances, I'm thinking that David Cook may be a lot stronger than I originally thought...

    From the Toolbox...

    Lately, I've been praying a lot for God to send me some encouragement.

    The last time I prayed this prayer, God answered it in a day. So, I prayed with belief and anticipation as to how God would deliver this time.

    Although He hasn't answered in the same way as last time, a few small things have trickled in. Here's one...

    This morning, in my email inbox, I received the latest edition of Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox. (If you don't get this email newsletter, sign up for it today!) It always contains one or two "Saddleback Sayings" from one of Rick's messages, and today's provided me with some hope. Here it is...

    "When God wants to change us, he starts by getting our attention, by putting us in a frustrating situation that is totally beyond our control. If we’re experiencing a crisis right now, it’s because God is getting ready to change us for the better." - Rick Warren

    I know that God is behind all of the changes that are taking place in my life right now. But this just gave that little bit more of a reinforcement to that.

    I hope that you can be encouraged as well...

    3/26/2008

    SiX78th...

    A few nights ago, on another Borders session, I found this magazine, SiX78th. It's cover proclaims it as a "junior high lifestyle" magazine. After looking through the magazine, and its website, I can see it actually talks about some issues applicable to Junior High girls.

    I'd love to hear what some female middle school workers have to say about this...

    Web Wednesday: Do the Test...

    Time flies when you're... well... It's Web Wednesday!

    I saw this on someone else's blog last week (I can't remember who or I'd link them). I've always considered myself more than a little Monkish, so this video was quite surprising to me. Check it out...

    How To Completely Mess Up Your Child...

    Just found this on digg.com. Please, from a youth pastor, don't ever buy this for your child...

    Paging Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine...

    I dropped by Borders tonight for my daily reading session. As I walked up to the door, I noticed a stretch limo and some am 600 banners posted outside. As it turns out, Dr. Laura Schlessinger was there signing books. So, I did some cell phone picture sniping...

    She looks a lot different than on her book covers...

    3/25/2008

    Chicken Pie Shop, IKEA, Parkway, and Me...

    I got a text message from a former student last night.

    After I asked him if things were good, he said, "Yeah. Kinda. Not really." So, I asked him to lunch so we could talk.

    After I dropped by his house to pick him up, it didn't take long for him to start spilling his guts.

    We didn't talk about anything revolutionary. Mostly his desire to belong, what the future might look like, girls, parents, friends. All stuff that was on his mind. (Not to mention constantly on mine.) We had a tremendous lunch at the Chicken Pie Shop and then, just to continue the BRO-venture, we hit IKEA (which he had never been to), and then the mall (where we saw another former student).

    It was a great afternoon and provided me with some confirmation on a few things. One, there really is no replacement for relational ministry. Because of the time I've spent and trust I've built in our relationship in the past, I was able to encourage him even in the small amount of time we had today. And two, I can't imagine myself doing anything else but student ministry. I was born to do this. I was made to do this. I love it.

    I'm so thankful that I was able to be there for him today. It makes me look forward with even more anticipation to the time that I can once again be a part of leading a ministry...

    3/24/2008

    More Lap Guitar...

    I've posted before on Erik Mongrain's amazing talent of playing guitar on his lap (kind of like a hammer dulcimer). I just ran across another video of his with a song I've never heard before. Check it out.

    Man, I wish I could do this...

    An Open Letter To Rashida Jones...

    Dear Rashida Jones,

    Looking at your trivia section on IMDb, I can see that you are neigh perfect. I mean, you're a Harvard grad. Your dad is Quincy Jones. You have a photographic memory. You sang backup on 3 of the songs from Maroon 5's CD "Songs About Jane". AND you're hot, as People Magazine recognized in 2002 by including you on their list of 50 Most Beautiful People. And all of that before I even mention that you've appeared on Chappelle's Show and The Office.

    But something's happened...

    I'm not sure if you were challenged to a dare or maybe somebody slipped some stupid juice into your POM tea, but what's the deal with Unhitched? You expect me to believe that you chose to leave The Office for this steamer? You graduated from Harvard! You're supposed to be smart! You left one of the most critically acclaimed and most watched shows on TV for a show produced (read as: let's slap a name on this pile without having to involve them too much) by the Farrelly brothers?

    Do you think there's any way Scranton would still take your call?

    If you need any help making future decisions about what projects to take, I will gladly offer you my help. After all, I've got some time on my hands right now.

    Seriously...

    Also, if you and Jim ever stop seeing each other in real life, my friend Alice and I could offer sympathy to each of you. We could grab some coffee or something. It'll be great...

    3/22/2008

    Back to the Future...

    I got a new moleskin journal a couple of weeks ago.

    This past week, I've been organizing (hacking) it, and transferring and consolidating a few things from other journals. Today, I came across some things I had written on a personal retreat in last year.

    Way back on August 29th of last year (2007), I took a retreat out into the desert. I left before sunrise and returned after sunset. I fasted for the whole day and spent the day praying, reading, meditating, and journaling. Today, as I went back over my six pages of written notes (which I haven't done since originally writing them), I was amazed at the similarities between what God was saying to me then and what He's been saying to me in the past month. Here's a few.

    8-29-07
    We don't pray to get the answer we want. We pray to get the answer God wants.


    2-29-08
    From my post called Good Advice...: There's a big difference between praying for God to show us what He wants and praying for God to bless what we want. There's been so many times that I've gone to God thinking that I'm praying for His will, and that He's remaining silent. When what I'm really doing is telling Him what I want and asking Him to make it happen. You've got to figure out how to want what God wants more than what you want. I think Jesus said something about this in Matt. 6:33...



    8-29-07
    Do I really know how to love? Do I really know how to die to myself?


    3-06-08
    From my post called Birth Control...: Why is it so easy for me to put others before myself in my professional life, but so hard for me to do it in my personal life?



    8-29-07
    Could God be using this as another call to trust Him? Could He be asking me to trust Him to work for what's best?


    3-11-08
    From my post called You Say, I Only Hear What I Want To...: Every time I worried, I stopped and prayed for God to help me move past what I want, and asked for what He wants for my life.



    8-29-07
    Knowing about someone is not the same as being in relationship with them, allowing yourself to fall in love with them.


    3-03-08
    From my post called Important Thoughts #9...": Every now and then, I wonder whether or not I've fallen in love with God. I wonder if I would cast everything aside, and risk looking like a fool, all for the chance to win His favor.



    8-29-07
    When considering a choice, ask "What gives me life more?"


    2-29-08
    From my post called Good Advice...: When you find God's calling for your life, you get two things: you get peace from the feelings of chaos that are a result of God shaking things up in your life, and you get energized to move into the next stage of it.



    Spooky huh? Why would God tell me something back then, and then without me realizing, tell me the same things again over the course of the past month? Perhaps because I didn't learn the lesson the first time. Or perhaps because I couldn't learn the lesson back then.

    This REvelation definitely gives me more to think about heading into Easter...

    50 Pop Culture Last Suppers...

    Yes. The above depiction of Da Vinci's The Last Supper depicts James Woods as Christ. Yes, it also depicts him as all of the disciples. And yes, Robocop is also a disciple.

    I have no explanation.

    Here's a website with 50 pop culture depictions of the famous painting...

    Wooo...

    Here's a pic of my brother meeting "The Nature Boy" Rick Flair.

    Flair was making a special appearance at a Hummer dealership in Columbia, SC this morning. Plus, Mayor Bob Coble is declaring Monday, March 24th, Rick Flair Day.

    Caleb got a couple of DVDs autographed. I'm so stinking jealous...

    Stupid Is As Stupid Does...

    This morning has brought news of, what should be considered, the stupidest use of money in quite some time.

    Click here for the whole article. Here's a clip from The Associated Press:

    "Two sisters from Virginia sold their Illinois-shaped corn flake on eBay Friday night for $1,350.

    "We were biting our nails all the way up to the finish, seeing what would happen," said Melissa McIntire, 23. "There's a lot of relief involved."

    The winner of the auction, which lasted more than a week, is the owner of a trivia Web site who wants to add the corn flake to a traveling museum."


    And just in case they take it down, here's the world's most valuable piece of cereal...

    3/21/2008

    You're the Best Around: V...

    Gold medal blog posts served piping hot...

  • Allison seems to be thinking like me...

  • Bethany gets a Wii...

  • Rod continues one of my favorite traditions of Easter...

  • Marko posts a quote that turns out to be one of my favorite blog posts ever...

  • Puddles reviews a book... and then the author comments on his review...

  • Sue starts blogging...
  • Curious Josh...

    I am, by nature, a curious person.

    There's not really any specific subject that dominates my curiosity. But sometimes, I find myself unable to resist the urge to explore things unknown to me. Which is why I'm starting this new series of occasional posts. I figure, if I'm going to expand my knowledge on all kinds of random things, I might as well share it with you.

    Tonight, as I was watching an old episode of Monk, I heard one of the characters mention (erroneously, I might add) how something was included in the constitution. It was then that I realized how uneducated I am on one of our nation's most important documents.

    So, I looked it up. This website contains the entire constitution: all 7 articles and all 27 of its amendments.

    Take a look. Try to pepper it in to your conversation sometime. I'm sure it'll impress your friends...

    3/20/2008

    Just In Case...

    Just in case you need a little comedy in your life as we approach Easter (one of the busiest times of the year for a youth pastor), I figured I'd post one of my favorite SNL Digital Shorts ever. Courtesy of hulu.com, I give you "People Getting Punched Right Before Eating"...

    Now I Know. And Knowing's Half the Battle...

    Hollywood has been at work on a live action version of G.I. Joe for a while now. After the success of last summer's Transformers, things got sped up a bit. Some of the cast has been announced, as has a release date (August 7, 2009).

    Today brings the release of the first official picture from the movie. Not only is it the first, but it's of the best character in the whole series: Snake-Eyes (played by Darth Maul himself, Ray Park).

    Gaze upon it in wonder...

    I added in the comic picture for comparison's sake...

    And We Keep Waiting...

    Last week, my great uncle encouraged me to begin reading Psalm 143.

    In fact, he even went as far as to encourage me to pray it. So, this past week, I did. I started each day by praying this incredible Psalm.

    I'm not sure what the background of the Psalm is, where David wrote it or what was going on that inspired him. But, after reading it many times, I think he may have been feeling a bit like I have: confused, isolated, unsure of his next step...

    I'm continuing to pray this psalm as the days go by. Maybe it will be of some encouragement to you...

    Psalm 143

    LORD, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
    in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief.
    Do not bring your servant into judgment,
    for no one living is righteous before you.

    The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground;
    he makes me dwell in the darkness
    like those long dead.

    So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.

    I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.

    I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.

    Answer me quickly, LORD;
    my spirit fails.
    Do not hide your face from me
    or I will be like those who go down to the pit.

    Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
    Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.

    Rescue me from my enemies, LORD,
    for I hide myself in you.

    Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
    may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.

    For your name's sake, LORD, preserve my life;
    in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.

    In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
    destroy all my foes,
    for I am your servant.

    American Idol: 1 for 2...

    We're got our touring ten...

    After tonight's elimination of Amanda Overmyer, I think America got the vote right. (At least according to my predictions.) I mean, come on. She was terrible... But you know what America didn't get right? Putting Carly Smithson in the bottom three. Seriously guys, you're telling me you think she's worse than Jason Castro or Ramiele Malubay?

    And by the way, why is it that they make the departing contestant sing their last song again after they've been eliminated? Isn't that like asking them to swallow poison all over again? Why not sing their best song? You know, leave on a good note. Instead of the sour one that got them voted off...

    I'm 1 for 2 after this week. Let's see if I can get to 75% next week...

    3/19/2008

    Scrumtrulescent...

    Since I was in High School, I've had an ongoing (read as: obsessive) interest in movies. One thing this interest has led me to is the show Inside the Actors Studio, hosted by James Lipton.

    It's such an interesting show because it examines the person behind the role. The episode featuring Dustin Hoffman is one of my favorites of all time.

    After spending time discussing the guest's career, Lipton concludes his portion of the interview by asking the same series of 10 questions. As a self indulgence, I figured I'd pretend I was in the hot seat and answer them myself...

  • What is your favorite word?
    Grace

  • What is your least favorite word?
    Can't

  • What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
    Creatively: When old stories are told in new ways.
    Spiritually: Learning new things about my God, and how they can apply to the world He created.
    Emotionally: Finding even the smallest bit of common ground with someone.


  • What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
    Creatively: Unevaluated tradition.
    Spiritually: Selfishness. (Wait... this window is a mirror!)
    Emotionally: Dishonesty.


  • What sound or noise do you love?
    The sound of a far off train's whistle, late at night, as I fall asleep.

  • What sound or noise do you hate?
    People blowing their nose in public.

  • What is your favorite curse word?
    I think this is one that you'll have to ask me in person...

  • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
    History Teacher.

  • What profession would you not like to do?
    White House Press Secretary.

  • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
    Well done, son. Welcome home.
  • Web Wednesday: Lifehacks...

    Wow. Where did the last week go? Web Wednesday moves fast...

    Do you ever search the web for little tricks to make life run a little bit easier? Well, search no more. This site is a collection of feeds of almost every lifehack site on the net. This could keep you busy for hours. Tell your boss I said sorry...

    I'm Not...

  • a finished product...

  • good at goodbyes...

  • sure what I'm going to do for Easter...

  • at all interested in eating sushi...

  • going to recommend the movie I saw this weekend to anyone...

  • sure if what my friends suggest I do is what God wants me to do...
  • 3/18/2008

    Ridiculous...

    Last May, I posted about the price of gas in Southern California. Well, I thought it was high then but, I guess I was wrong. Because here's a picture of what I paid for regular on Thursday night...

    Ugh...

    Weird Cell Phone Picture: #14 (Nine Inch Nails)...

    I spent this past weekend in Orange County. Four days of friends, serving, reconnecting with former students, music, frisbee golf, meeting new people, Max and the B, and seeing a terrible movie with McGill was like spending time in Heaven. It felt like going home again.

    On Friday, Puddles, Becky, and I met a ton of people at Chick-Fil-A for lunch. Delicious food + great company = awesome meal.

    But, there was one problem. As I sat down outside to eat, I looked under my chair and found a giant pile of fingernail clippings...

    Yeah... Someone sat outside, ate a chicken sangwich, and clipped their nails. And then left them...

    Sick...

    3/13/2008

    American Idol: 0 for 1...

    After tonight, American Idol has its top 11...

    After making my predictions, I have to say that i was quite shocked at tonight's elimination of David Hernandez. I had him pegged to go all the way to the top six! I guess I was right on guessing that his controversy would turn America off. But still, how is Amanda Overmyer still here?!

    My predictions are 0 for 1. I guess I'll wait and see how I do next week...

    3/12/2008

    Yankee Hotel Foxtrot...

    One of the many random things I'm curious about... I've always been able to recite the military alphabet up to "J". Hopefully, I'll be able to get farther now...

    The Incredible Hulk...

    Are you a fan of 'ol green skin? Were you one of the 7 fans (myself included) of the 2003 movie? Did you love the late 70's Bill Bixby TV show? Then you're going to love this...

    MTV just premiered the new trailer for this summer's The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, and William Hurt.

    It looks a lot more action-packed than its Ang Lee predecessor. Go here to check it out...

    Body Double 24: Once Upon a Time...

    All the way back in August, Julie wrote a post proposing that there may be a Body Double match between Once star, Glen Hansard, and me. This perked my interest a bit, as I've always been told I looked more like Junior. So, I did some research. I watched the movie, I bought the the soundtrack. I'm still not sure...

    What do you think?

    Wait... Maybe this will help...

    Eh... Maybe not...

    Web Wednesday: Mid-West Celebrities...

    Whoa... It's Web Wednesday!

    This week's edition asks the question, "What would it look like if celebrities packed up and moved to Oklahoma?" This Website has documented their version of it in pictures. Check it out...

    You Say, I Only Hear What I Want To...

    Hello, my name is Josh, and I'm an obsessive thinker.

    And over the past few months, I've had a lot to think about. However, I've recently learned that the difference between meditative thinking (what I thought I was doing) and worrying (what I was actually doing) is what you're focusing your thoughts on. The funny thing about worrying is that it really doesn't do anything but bring you down.

    So I decided to use it to my advantage...

    When I got up yesterday I decided that, every time I found myself awash in a sea of worry, I would pray.

    A couple of weeks ago my friend, Rod, gave me some good advice. He said that there's a big difference between praying for God to show us what He wants and praying for God to bless what we want. So, that's what I prayed.

    Every time I worried, I stopped and prayed for God to help me move past what I want, and asked for what He wants for my life. Editor's Note: Which, if you've ever prayed this prayer before, you know how dangerous it can be. This served a dual purpose for me: first, it helped me to see exactly how much I worry. Second, it helped me take something that I know Satan can use to squash my spirit, and use it as a reminder to go to God with my troubles.

    I continued in this practice today.

    To be honest with you, there were times when it got quite annoying. I had no idea how many times throughout the day my thoughts turn to worry. I would find myself in the middle of reading when I would have to stop and pray. Ugh...

    The reason why I share this is that I hope it serves as a testament that, with God's help, we can conquer anything. Even ourselves.

    Oh... There it goes again. Time to pray...

    3/11/2008

    Hi-Ya...

    Have you ever seen a person karate chop a brick in half and wondered what effect it has on their hand? Well wonder no more...

    3/10/2008

    Wheelchair Dude...

    I just came across this article on how Wheelchair Dude lives inside my Apple thesaurus. But I didn't believe it...

    I had to see for myself. So, I typed "observe" into it, and it gave this back to me...

    Weird...

    Bring Me Down...

    A week ago, Alice wrote a post on how a certain scent brought up some pretty strong memories. Isn't it funny how we associate meaningful people, places, and events with certain things triggered by our senses? I don't think I have any specific scents that remind me of anything, but there are other things...

    For instance, just this past Friday I was browsing around iTunes in search of some new tunes, and happened upon Miranda Lambert's page. I clicked around for a few minutes, listening to a few samples of her singles and watching a few seconds of her videos, when I came across the song Bring Me Down. The song was catchy and, after looking up the lyrics, I decided I liked what it had to say. So I bought it.

    After I listened to it, I thought, "This song sounds so familiar." I figured that it had to be a cover song. So I searched the internet to try and discover who it could have been by originally. Nope, a Miranda Lambert original. So I let it be, and decided it was just a case of déjà vu. But it still haunted me...

    I thought about it for the next two days. I'd sing it in my head, and out loud, but couldn't place where I'd heard it. It wasn't until Sunday night that it hit me. The song had been the ringback tone of a girl I had dated a little under a year and a half ago. As soon as I came to this realization, I was immediately excited because I had solved the mystery. But, no sooner than I had achieved this sense of excitement, I came crashing down because of some of the memories that were brought back to mind. And now, the song is ruined. Well, not totally. But mostly.

    I reached for my phone to call her. "What a funny story! She'll get a kick out of this," I thought. But once again, I realized that calling would be a bad idea, and I was bummed.

    It's funny how our past can stay with us on the notes of a song or scent. It kind of makes me want to be more careful in how I live my life today, in anticipation of the memories I'll have from it tomorrow...

    Harrison Ford and the Amazing Six Year Stretch...

    In preparation for this summer's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I've decided to watch all three previous installments of our hero's adventures.

    After doing some digging around on IMDb, I've decided that Harrison Ford may be the biggest movie star that's ever lived. As proof, I offer up a six-year piece of his resume. Ford did these movies back to back from 1980-1985. What a stretch...

  • Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back 1980

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981

  • Blade Runner 1982

  • Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi 1983

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984

  • Witness 1985
  • 3/09/2008

    Important Thoughts #10...

    As promised, from my reading session in Kitchen Confidential last night, an Important Thought...

    ""That's not my job" was not in the Bigfoot phrase book. Toilet overflows while the chef is at hand? He's going right in with a plunger, and fast. No waiting for the toilet guy- he is the toilet guy now. In Bigfoot's army, you fight for the cause, anywhere you are needed. If it's slow in the kitchen, you pick an old sauté pan and scrub the carbon off the bottom."

    When I was an intern in Orange County, we had a weekly ritual of stacking half of the chairs in our meeting room every Saturday night after service. Now, since we had quite a large paid staff (8) + volunteers, it wouldn't have been a big deal for our boss (the Jr. High Pastor) to use this time to talk with parents or students. But he never did. He was always the first one grabbing chairs to stack. There was never a job that was too small or unimportant for him to pitch in on (provided he was able). After we, as a team, were done with tear down duties, he would spend time talking with everyone.

    As a leader in ministry, there are certain things that only you can do. But, there should never be anything that you won't do. Empower others to do ministry, but not for the sake of elevating yourself. "I'm the pastor. I don't have to do that" should never come from your lips. Sometimes the best way to lead is to stack chairs alongside everybody else. If we're all priests (1 Peter 2:9), then we're also all plumbers...

    iTunes Receipt: Part 9...

    Here's my latest round of iTunes purchases...

  • Merry Happy by Kate Nash

  • The Underdog by Spoon

  • Hate it Here by Wilco

  • Crushcrushcrush by Paramore

  • Nothing from Nothing by Billy Preston
  • Bigfoot...

    I just got back from spending some time at Borders reading Kitchen Confidential, which is the first book that the Josh & Puddles' Book Club is tackling.

    I'm always surprised when I'm reading a book that's nowhere near Christian and stumble upon something that speaks to my relationship with God or my ministry. Tonight, I found some great insight in Bourdain's recollections of his old boss whom, in the interest of keeping his identity secret, he refers to as "Bigfoot". In fact, one thing that he wrote was so good, I'm going to turn it into an Important Thought tomorrow...

    Here's some other sweet tidbits from Bourdain's stories of "Bigfoot":

  • "I was rail-thin, shaky, and the first thing I did was ask my old pal Bigfoot if he could lend me twenty-five bucks until payday. Without hesitation, he reached in his pocket and lent me two hundred-a tremendous leap of faith on his part... he must have had every reason to believe I'd disappear with the two bills, spend it on crack, and never show up for my first shift... I was so shaken by his baseless trust in me... that I determined I'd sooner gnaw my own fingers off, gouge my eyes out with a shellfish fork and run naked down Seventh Avenue than ever betray that trust." -I love how, after showing Bourdain some unexpected compassion in a time of need, Bigfoot gained his trust and loyalty. I think that's such an important value for us to hold to in ministry. Treat our people like family, show them we care, and they'll do the same when we need them...

  • "Bigfoot understood... that character is far more important than skills or employment history... Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don't have." -So true. No matter how great a team member may look on paper, if they're not living a life of passionate pursuit of God, they're not the right person for the job. I'd rather have a team of four leaders who are completely in love with God that I have to train, than a team of ten luke-warm veterans. Ministry is about relationships and character and love for God shines most brightly in that context. You'll be able to see, almost immediately, if a person if for real...

  • "He had a near-supernatural sense of exactly when, at what precise moment, one of his employees had had enough... He knew just when to apply that well-timed pat on the back, the strangled and difficult-for-him "Thank you for your good work" appreciation of your labors." -This is an incredibly important piece of management wisdom. We have to constantly communicate with our team so that we can know how they're doing. It's so easy, without care, to get burned out in ministry. Part of our job, as leaders, is to do everything we can to guard our team and help guide them away from it...

  • "The most important and lasting lessons I learned from Bigfoot were about personnel and personnel management- that I have to know everything, that I should never be surprised." -I take this as an exhortation to get to know my team. Who are they? What do they do? What are their passions? The better you know your team, the easier it is to care for them. The better you care for your team, the more you can empower them to minister...
  • 3/08/2008

    700: Winter Forward...

    Remember that Daylight Savings Time starts tonight at 2am! Set your clocks forward before you go to bed...

    American Idle...

    I'm not your typical American Idol viewer...

    I know some people who delight in watching every little bit of AI: from the first audition episode to the crowning of the winner (not to mention the random recap weeks thrown in towards the end). However, I've never really taken interest until the final twelve are announced (which was this past week). I just can't watch the beginning episodes with all of the bad auditions. I get too embarrassed for the bad contestants. Editor's Note It was for this same reason that I didn't like Meet the Parents. It just made me too uncomfortable. But, this year is different. This year, I have an infinite amount of time on my hands. And so I've seen every episode.

    That's right, this year, I'm invested. Editor's Note: Which hasn't happened since Kelly Clarkson competed.

    And so, it's because of that investment, that I'm going to make my official predictions as to how the final twelve will fare. I know that the judges have said that they think this is the most talented group of contestants they've ever seen, but I disagree. I think that (out of the final twelve) there are two great, two bad, and eight good singers.

    So here are my best guesses as to the fate of each of this years remaining contestants. My guesses aren't free of my own taste, bias, or arbitrary preference. They're simply my opinions. Here we go...

    David Archuleta-
    Many are considering Archuleta the odds on favorite to win this year. I've got to tell you, this guy creeps me out. Yes, he's got a good voice. But he has this wide-eyed, never blinking, creepy perma-smile look that weirds me out. This combined with the video of him singing And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going to the season one contestants in a hotel lobby is making it pretty tough for me to root for him. But, even I have to admit, his rendition of Imagine was pretty good...
    My Best Guess: Final 2

    Jason Castro-
    I think Jason seems like the kind of talent you'd see play at your church and everybody would say, "Aww... He's so good!" But put him in front of people who know what they're talking about, and they'd say, "Ehh..." Simon thought his version of Hallelujah was great. I hated it.
    My Best Guess: This is his last week

    David Cook-
    I think that his version of Lionel Ritchie's Hello was one of the best songs I've ever heard on AI. Hopefully, his originality can carry him far. What remains to be seen is how versatile he is...
    My Best Guess: Final four

    Kristy Lee Cook-
    I think she's really hot, but I'm shocked she hasn't gone the country route yet. Her voice is so country (a lot like Leanne Rhymes) that she needs to start leaning that way fast. She's a bit awkward on stage, but sweet and engaging in her videos (something Kady Malloy wasn't).
    My Best Guess: Top eight

    Chikezie-
    I really like Chikezie. I loved when he sang Donny Hathaway! That was the first time I had voted since I voted for Kelly Clarkson over Justin Broccoli Head in season one. Unfortunately, the judges aren't very keen on him. And at this stage of the game, that's going to be tough to overcome. I think he picks great songs, and I hope he goes far...
    My Best Guess: Top ten

    David Hernandez-
    I think Hernandez is a good singer, but not a great one. He's a guy that equates holding a high note with being good. The truth is, the best singers know what their voice can do, and they stick with that. I think he would have gone farther if the whole "used to dance in a male strip club" thing wouldn't have come out. That's going to scare America off.
    My Best Guess: Top six

    Michael Johns-
    This guy seems really legit. He's got a voice. He's got the on stage presence. He just needs to engage with an off stage personality. I loved that he sang a song from the Breakfast club. I think he's a strong number 3...
    My Best Guess: Final four

    Ramiele Malubay-
    She's so 50/50. She can sound good and bad in the same song! And no personality at all! I'm totally indifferent to her...
    My Best Guess: Top eight

    Syesha Mercado-
    Who? Another good singer. I think she really wants to be a Whitney Houston, but just doesn't have it.
    My Best Guess: Top ten

    Amanda Overmyer-
    How is she still on TV? Terrible... Just terrible... Where are my earplugs?
    My Best Guess: This is her last week

    Carly Smithson-
    Wow. I think she's the only person who can challenge Archuleta. She can sing, she knows what her voice can do, she's got ink, and she's lives in San Diego. I hope she goes all the way!
    My Best Guess: Final 2

    Brooke White-
    Someone who's younger than me, but sings like she's performing for my parents. She seems like she could have some success in the adult contemporary genre. Simon likes her, but I don't think America will get excited by a girl who picks Carly Simon-esque music. Plus, for some reason, she always looks scared to me...
    My Best Guess: Top 6

    Time will tell if I'm right. Do you have predictions? Enter them in the comments...

    3/07/2008

    So Happy Together...

    This is a list of things that, if they are within 6 feet of me, automatically make me happier than Prince Charles playing a kettle drum...

  • Banjos...

  • Waverunners...

  • Swords...

  • Miniature Golf...

    If any of you would like to earn my eternal love and devotion, maybe you could find someway to combine all of these into the greatest activity known to man...
  • You're the Best Around: IV...

    If I were a monster, and I ate delicious blog posts, these would be the tastiest of the bunch...

  • Steve begins serving with a former student of his...

  • Lauren writes a new song...

  • Steve celebrates his best birthday ever...

  • Josh talks about 5 things a youth pastor should do everyday...

  • God provides for Joshua's winter camp...

  • Kurt announces the new name for the student center...

  • Mike's got a sweet plan to change the way his group ministers to others...

  • Marko gets a mouth full of stink...

  • Leigh sees a live reenactment of an episode of LOST...
  • Twitter Me This...

    I have a couple of friends that are using twitter...

    Josh, Rod, and Rick, all use it to show what they're up to. So, I figured I'd try it out too.

    You can check out my twitter home here, or just look over in the side column at my new "What I'm Up To..." section.

    Is this a bit exhibitionist? I hope not...

    3/06/2008

    Eddie Would Go...

    A couple of years ago, I saw a report on ESPN on Eddie Aikau. To say that Eddie was a stud would be quite an understatement...

    In 1968, he became the first lifeguard hired by the city and county of Honolulu to work the North Shore. Not only was Eddie the first, but he was given the task of covering every beach from Sunset to Haleiwa (which is about a five mile stretch). During his time as lifeguard, not one life was lost in Waimea Bay, as he braved waves that often reached 30 feet high or more. He was even named lifeguard of the year in 1971.

    In 1978 (when he was 31), Eddie joined the crew of a 30-day, 2500 mile journey to follow the ancient route of the Polynesian migration between the Hawaiian and Tahitian island chains. While on the voyage, the double-hulled voyaging canoe developed a leak in one of the hulls and later capsized about twelve miles south of the island of Molokai. Trying to help, Eddie set out toward Lanai paddling on his surfboard. The rest of the crew was later rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, but Eddie was never seen again. The ensuing search for him was the largest air-sea search in Hawaii history.

    Sometime during the 80's, bumper stickers and t-shirts started springing up all around Hawaii and the rest of the world with the phrase "Eddie Would Go" on them. According to maritime historian Mac Simpson, "Aikau was a legend on the North Shore, pulling people out of waves that no one else would dare to. That's where the saying came from -- Eddie would go, when no else would or could. Only Eddie dared."

    I feel like, possibly in preparation for what may soon come, God brought this story to my mind today.

    There are times in life when God calls us to things that are bigger than what we can do on our own. Things that, were we to try and understand from our own Earthly perspective, we would never attempt (mainly out of fear or ignorance). It's during these times that we have to remember that God never intends for us to do what He calls us to by ourselves. No, He much rather prefers that we graft ourselves onto Him and, through His strength, attempt to accomplish what only He could.

    I don't know what Eddie Aikau's relationship with God was like. But I do know that he faced down wave after wave (literally) of discouragement, and went out every time to save lives. I can't help but see the spiritual parallels in his story. As those of you in ministry undoubtedly know, discouragement can come easily. Sometimes, it can feel like a never ending storm is batting you down. It's in those times that we must remember to turn to God. And sometimes, that kind of faith takes courage.

    I love that Eddie's legacy is that he gave his life to save the lives of others. I love that, on his memorial plaque, is John 15:13. I love that he was brave.

    I want to be brave. I want to be known as someone who recklessly follows God, even when he should be afraid. I want to be the kind of guy who lays his life down for his friends. That's what Eddie Aikau represents to me.

    So, in times of fear, I'll remember that "Eddie Would Go". And hopefully, I will too...

    Thoughts From a Volunteer Small Group Leader...

    My friend Mindi has an amazing post on her experience leading a small group of Middle School girls through their entire time in MS. For the whole article, click on the link above. Here's a short clip...

  • Introduce yourself. send a letter, email, or make a phone call to get started. make a point to meet them in person.

  • Make yourself available. be sure they have your phone number and email. let them know you're available as a support and resource for them and their student.

  • Help them connect to the larger ministry--make sure they're in the loop on total group events, upcoming outings, etc. (I can occasionally be absent-minded about this)
  • Birth Control...

    Marko had a post a few days ago detailing the cost of raising a child from birth to age 18. The grand total (according to this survey) is $249,180. Wow...

    As I watched last night's episode of Supernanny, my jaw hit the floor. The featured family, which lives in northern California, had seven kids in eight years. Seven in eight... On top of that, the mom of the family is 28 years old. That's one year older than me. And, during the day, her husband goes to work and she stays at home to care for their seven children.

    I've had a lot of time for soul searching in the past month. I've had time to think about what my life is and what I want it to be about. One of the questions that I struggled with a few weeks ago was whether or not being a pastor was something that I do or something that I am. Since I'm in the process of searching for another church to serve at right now, am I not a pastor? I don't think so. After talking with some friends and praying and meditating on it, I think it's more of who I am. But this, as well as Marko's post and Supernanny, has led me to another question: "Why is it so easy for me to put others before myself in my professional life, but so hard for me to do it in my personal life?"

    I've never had a problem sacrificing in ministry. Not only because it's what I understand is supposed to happen, but because I genuinely want my kids and volunteers to succeed more than anything else. But, in my personal life, I can't always say that. But I want, so desperately, to be able to.

    I feel like God has been rocking my world in the past month, and this is just the latest example of that. Looks like another item to add to the prayer list...

    3/05/2008

    Web Wednesday: Grill Skillz...

    Is it Web Wednesday already? Wow...

    This week's edition comes to us from the wonderful world of 1980's fast food. As rap began to become more popular in mainstream culture in the 80's, corporations began to wonder if they could use it in accomplishing their goals. Wendy's, in particular, saw it as a brilliant tool for instructing their employees in how to make their burgers.

    Don't believe me? Just check out this training video...