Tuesday, October 10, 2006

NYWC Back Home

I am home and very tired now. It's kind of hard to explain that good tired where you are physically in need of a lot of sleep, and yet you feel very refreshed. That's exactly what I'm going through right now. However, there's no time to take a nap as I have to hit the ground running with the new found fire I've recieved this week.

I have three bags full of exhibit hall junk, freebies, seminar notes, and things I bought from YS to sort through. I try to keep everything filed because I never know when I'm going to need that address for some company I heard about at the convention four years ago.

Today, I attended the funeral of the person I talked about earlier in the week. There are sometimes in my life as a pastor that I have no idea what to say, and sometimes that I just know that nothing I can say will work. This time was both of those at the same time.

Time to get to work...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

NYWC Day 4 Post 1

Well, we're coming down to the end of the convention. The funny thing is, right away I need to tell myself the exact same things that I would tell the students at the end of summer camp or a mission trip. Beware of the mountain top experience. God has been showing me some great things this week. Now it's time to avoid the same pitfall that every youth goes through, making sure that I live out the things I've learned and professed to this weekend.

Coming from a conservative Baptist perspective, the greatest thing for me this week was to immerse myself in the emergent worship items they had all week. So today, I worked up the nerve and took time to take care of my soul in the Labryinth. What a wonderful idea! It was such a great way to start out the day and remind me to eliminate the distractions in my life.

Focus. That's the name of the game. With three jobs, sometimes that is going to be difficult, but that's what I'm called to do. It's time to take the steps to manage myself, so that I can effectively be a great youth pastor while being a great taekwondo teacher at the same time. Just takes planning.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ that I met this week and have been hanging out with, thank you for taking time to get to know this shy and crazy youth guy from East Texas.

To Marko, thanks for the exposure, the affirmation that my perspective matters, a wonderful convention, and great slap upside the head (literally and figuratively). :) Words cannot begin to express my gratitude for all that I have learned this week.

NYWC Day 3

Ok, this has got to be a quick one as it's already very late.

The day started out with my first trip to the Starbucks across from the Center. Thank God for all his wonderful gifts like coffee!

I went to Jim Burns' session on Partnering with Parents in Ministry. All I can say is wow. The Youth Team is going to get bombarded when I get back with all this stuff. I definitely would like to shift into more of that family minister role.

Then we went to lunch to meet up with the YMX members. Nothing like a plan getting trumped out by an Independent Music promoter with a food giveaway and good music. We got our meals for free, then escaped to the Starbucks for quieter conversation.


So then, it was time for the Super Seminar time. Doug Fields hit it out of the park with his talk on Crafting Messages that Matter. It's about high time that the voice record feature on my Palm Zire gets used. Usually, I just keep things here and use them later, but the idea of keeping an audio journal with me at all times and collecting everything I can was a great one.

Went for dinner with three wonderful youth workers in the UMC after the seminar. I can't remember what the name of the Mexican place was, but outstanding! We had a great conversation sharing our struggles, laughing at our differences, and just enjoying being around people who understand.

Then, it was time for the session with Donald Miller. Wow. I may not agree with him all the time, but I love the way his mind works and the way he presents himself with authenticity. (A word I've used before this week.) When he laid it out there and said "Perfect ministry is a great commercial for the church business" I knew exactly what he meant. Sometimes ministry is messy. It's a hospital. Hospitals smell. Patients throw up. They bleed. They make messes. Ministry needs to be messy sometimes.

Then, it was time for the late night comedy club. My cheeks still hurt. Thor Ramsey, Ron Pearson, and of course, Taylor Mason. I've been a Taylor Mason fan since the last time I was at YS (2004 Dallas) when they gave out the free Bananas DVDs. Melissa is an even bigger fan. During the bit, Romeo not only lost his shoe, but his foot as well into the second row. We were rolling. Afterwards, I went up to Taylor and talked to him for bit. He's a wonderful man of God! He took a picture of him and Paco with me, then autographed my Bananas DVD to Melissa in Paco's name.

Tomorrow, I'm heading to Marko's Middle School seminar and Duffy Robbins' on understanding teenage spirituality. I'm not sure yet, but I may skip the 8am to take the labyrinth. I could use a time of prayer, and I've been eating light, so I can afford to buy one CD.

Sorry for the incoherent ramblings tonight. It's already 1:00. Later on, I'll talk about some of the things that God is revealing and what it will mean. Until then, keep your feet on!

P.S. Now 1 1/2 Sea World bags full of exhibit hall and giveaway stuff.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Update

Just to update from earlier. I'm here with a bit of a heavy heart as I have found out that the father of three of my taekwondo students was killed the day I arrived here. When I get back, I will be heading immediately to the viewing if I can make it time. Funeral is the next day. He leaves behind four kids, including the three we have at the school (all under 12). They're a great Christian family and it hurts to see them go through this.

Friday, October 06, 2006

NYWC Day 2 Post 3

Wow. What a day. It's been a long day, but a very good one. Here's what's been going on.

First off, I had a chance to meet Marko today. Very nice guy. There are just some people that when you meet them, you just know automatically that they are authentic about their faith. That's one of them. Just wish I could grow hair like that.

I knew that the theme of Reveal was going to be getting me all weekend, but I didn't know how quickly God was going to get a hold of me and tell me things. Authenticity is a big thing with me. I need to take steps to make sure that 1) I am living an authentic lifestyle of Christ-following and 2) I instill that same lifestyle into the youth that God has trusted me with.

If you are here at the convention, and you haven't done the One Life Experience yet, skip a seminar and go do it. Absolutely moving, powerful, and gut-wrenching. I won't ruin it for anyone, but let me say this. When I went for the hand stamp, I actually cried at the result. Especially when nobody from the other side came.

I think one of the greatest things about this convention is realizing that I'm not alone. Living and working in small towns, I sometimes get the feeling that I am the only one who cares that these students are hurting and need the love of Jesus. So I go out there and do all I can with the time that I have between taekwondo teaching, after school, all the office work, music work, starting my family, and caring for my wife. Then I wonder why I've been getting so tired.

I know that God has put me in ministry and continues to give me His strength each day to face the challenges. Today, I looked around at the crowd and realized that I am not the only one. There's 2500 or so other people here who love students like I do and want to see them grow up with an authentic life in Jesus. As we all prayed and lifted our hands while Mike Pilavachi asked us to clear ourselves of cynicism, I knew I'm not the only person here tired and worn out. I am not alone. We all share the same struggles. We understand each other.

Looking forward to the YMX meet tomorrow.

Bag count = 1 Sea World bag filled to the brim. It's now retired and all free stuff from exhibit hall now goes into bag #2

Tic Longhorn. I like it.

Only David Crowder can stop a worship song, crack a joke, and then keep himself and the congregation engaged with the Holy Spirit. You have to live in the Spirit for that to work.

Kudos to the Jesus Painter for playing through pain.

Jared Hall, great as always.

NYWC Day 2 Post 2

Greetings from the Digital Lounge! Just a quick couple of thoughts that I can get down right now.

Right away, let me say that Dan Kimball is a treasure of God. Before the convention "officially" started, my feet hurt, my calves hurt, and my backside hurts. (to steal a line from one of my church members. When he asked "are you a youth group leader or the leader of a group of youth missionaries" I was about out. Wow. What a question. I had never thought of that before. This is one of those NYWC moments where you just realize that you are in the right place, and that God has put you in that room to hear exactly what you needed to hear.

I realized this morning that I never really had a break between my last day in San Augustine and my first day in Cumby. I went straight from my last Sunday, to getting married, to honeymoon, to interviewing, to starting at a new church, to starting the taekwondo business, to getting programs off the ground with the new pastor. I am tired. I'm much more worn out that I thought. The great thing is, though, that's ok. God is revealing to me that it has all been incredibly worth it!

I want to make sure that these students are living the life of Christ because it's a wonderful thing to have and not because it's a set of rules. I want to do ministry because God is wonderful, not because I have to get the numbers up. This church is great and I believe they will help me to do that. I have to believe that God can do astonishing things in Cumby, even things He has never done before.

It's only the first full day and already I feel refreshed in a way that I cannot possibly describe. It's like they know what you need, the Spirit prompts you to hear it, and great things happen.

In a couple minutes, I'm about to head off dinner with some new friends from Missouri. During the first General Session, Tic made everyone who was travelling alone stand up. Even though I am rooming with a family from YMX, and we have the YMX meeting tomorrow, I am here by myself. So these guys from the great MO and I are about to meet up. Thanks, Tic, for a great idea.

That's about it for now. Pictures and maybe a video or two to come later.

NYWC Day 2 Post 1

It's morning of day 1 and I'm about to get ready for the day of seminars. Since I'm not in a CCC, I have until 10am before my first one. Time to test out the power of the internet. I'll be at Dan Kimball's seminar at 10. I still haven't made up my mind for the 4:00 seminar series. I'm torn between three of them right now.

It'll be great to see Jared Hall again at the general sessions. Last summer, he was at the camp I took my students to. This guy is awesome. He's definitely one of the best illusionists I've ever seen. Then, of course, there's the worship with David Crowder. I wonder how long the "Crowder" is now.

Well, anyway, it's time to get ready and get going.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

National Youth Workers Convention Thursday

Well, I'm here at the National Youth Worker's Convention! From the first impressions, it seems to be even bigger than it's ever been before. I'm having a hard time deciding what seminars I'm going to take tomorrow. I may even be deciding right up until I actually walk in the door. I have an entire bag full of brochures from everything from coffee sales to mission trips. Plus, I'm on the list for about 10 Ipods. If I don't win one this year, fate is against me. :)

Here's video of the exhibition hall area.

Now it's time to relax and enjoy, but my heart is heavy with some very sad news from back home. I can't go into it for confidentiality reasons, but a family I know is really hurting over the loss of their father. It's one of those situations that make it difficult to understand why. If you read this pray for them, God knows who you mean.

On My Way

I'm out the door and on the way to the National Youth Workers Convention in Austin! It's only about a four hour drive or so. I'll be there in plenty of time to check out all the booths and vendors. YMX members, I'll be putting the signs out tonight for us all to be gathering at Stubbs. (mmmmmmmmm). The only thing I haven't figured out yet is where is the nearst Starbucks to the Convention Center. I must know. 8am seminars make this a must!

I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

In the Year 2056

I used to watch Conan O'Brien a lot while in college. One of my favorite sketches was "In the Year 2000" where the trombone player would sing in a falsetto, then Conan and a guest would predict the future. Of course, now that it's 2006, the joke is gone, yet they still do the sketch.

Predicting the future is a scary thought, but also a little bit fun. Well, Mark Oestreicher from Youth Specialties blogged on his site about this article in Christianity Today about youth ministry in the next 50 years.

When I first saw it, I thought, "How can we predict the church in the next 50 years?" I mean, I have enough of a hard time figuring out how my youth group will be next year after my seniors graduate.

But it's put some interesting thoughts in my head. Here, from my humble little corner of North Texas, is what I think will be happening.

1) As more colleges and seminaries add youth ministry as a major, the church will begin to realize that not every youth pastor is a senior pastor waiting for a job to open up. As the culture continues to challenge everything that the church stands for to our youth, churches will begin to realize that youth ministry is an important position that must be filled by someone absolutely committed to them. Because of this shift, the church will find more and more youth pastors still working with youth well into their 50s and beyond. The first string of youth pastors who never senior pastored a church will begin to retire by the 2030's.

2) As more churches begin to reintegrate their youth into the workings of the church, we will see the beginnings of the end of the "youth are the church of the future" doctrine. Churches and youth pastors will realize that youth need to see how the church works and be part of the bigger Church. More churches will realize that their baptized youth are voting church members and allow them on committees, service teams, and small group leaderships.

I think that what needs to happen is a renewed commitment to service, not only to the world, but the town in which we live. Students need to know that they can make a difference, even while they are young. This knowledge will then permeate throughout their entire lives and even into the ministries they are involved in as they mature.

A very much agree with Chap Clark's comment that we need to create "'a theology of intergenerational community' that helps a whole church to feel responsible for its youth." Along with that, however, I feel that it is our responsibility as Youth Pastors to create the same theology in which the youth feel responsible for the older members of the church. Every Sunday morning, we are all there together whether we are 5 or 85.

So, in the next 50 years, will the Church look very different? That is very hard to say. But using the foundation that the older generation have laid for us, and putting our own spin on to for the future, I feel very secure in how this generation will take it. As long as we keep in prayer, follow God's will, and let the Holy Spirit guide all of our decisions, the Church will be more than fine. I believe that the next great revival is coming.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Days away

Only a few days left until I leave for the National Youth Workers Convention in Austin! It's going to be a great time for me to learn a lot about what I do, and have some fun while doing it. I sure hope the internet works where I can log in and do this once in a while.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fried

You know what? I am amazed at the number of things you can deep fry. After a trip to the Great State Fair of Texas today, I have decided that you can fry just about anything, put up a sign, and sell it for $5 or more. Seriously, they had (I kid not) Fried Corn on the Cob, Fried Oreos, Fried Snickers Bar, and Even "Fried Coke." The guy at the booth tried to explain it to me, but I decided to keep safe with my giant turkey leg. I wonder what I could batter up and stick in that deep fryer I got as a wedding gift... hmmm.........

Fried pizza anyone?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

How We're Seen

Lately, I've been really into wondering how the non-believing world percieves things and people identified with the term "Christian." Many times, the term is percieved automatically as negative because of the many negative things that have been done or said in the name of Christ over the past 2000 years. I came across this photo essay today about Christian rock concerts and festivals. At first I was taken back by how anti-Christian this person was, until I realized that this was how she understood the Christian culture. So I'm glad that she had the honesty to tell how she felt about these pictures. I think it gives a great insight into how the world sees Christian music.

Great Kick

One of the best jump kicks I've seen this week. :) Seriously, what was this guy thinking?

Not a Yankee anymore!

See, this test proves it!

Your Linguistic Profile:
70% General American English
20% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern
0% Yankee

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My new Song.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Three Trophies

3rd in Forms
3rd in Sparring
1st in Weapons
at the tournament in Lufkin today!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Back online!!!!!!!

Woohoo!!!! A couple weeks ago, the church passed a resolution to get DSL in the office! That means I actually have usable internet in the office!! Hopefully, I can get back to blogging more and more as the time goes on.

I'm going to be heading the National Youth Workers Convention in Austin at the beginning of October. I've been to two of these in the last four years, and it's always been an exciting time. I have so much fun at these things, and always come back refreshed and with great ideas to use in the church. So I'm hoping that this year is no exception. I'm going to be blogging from the convention, especially if there's good internet in the convention center, (please please please. :)

I must get back to working, but hopefully I can get back to putting my thoughts here, so I can use them in messages later. You students who read this, you may see my illustrations before everyone else! :)

Later

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why do We Do This to Each Other?

"The single great cause of atheism in the world today is Christians..." I'm not sure who said this, but I heard it on a DC Talk cd when I was in college. Why is it that Christians do the worst things to each other and to the world? Then I get lumped in with those who call themselves that. Today, I read this...

Pastor, Family Accused of Molesting Young Female Congregants.


I was so shocked that I had to read the story twice to make sure it was really saying what it did. Apparently, a pastor and his family told little girls that by having sex with him he was "preparing their bodies for service to the Lord." Things like this really seem to get to me, because I spend so much time trying to get my students to focus on living their lives for God so that they can shine their light before all men. These little girls have had their lights blown out by men claiming to be pastors.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An Interesting Decision

This is going to turn out to be very insteresting, I belive. Last week, I went to the school campus for what I thought was going to an easy trip to meet the principal of the school in the town I had just started serving before heading to lunch in the cafeteria with the students in my ministry. Turns out, the school has a closed door policy to all groups so that no one can question who gets let in and who doesn't. Not my favorite idea, but I respect the decision. At least the superintendant is fair about it.

So yesterday, I get a call from the same school asking if Mel or I would like to come after school once a week and teach taekwondo for the after school program. Since I have the more flexible schedule and can be away from the do-jahng better than her, it seems like a natural fit for me to do it. Maybe this will give me the door into the school that I couldn't get as a youth pastor. Looks like ministry and martial arts can combine.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Black Belt


Guess I should have posted about this a few weeks ago, but I am now a first degree black belt in the American Taekwondo Association!.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back to Blogging

Wow. It's hard to get online to blog when you're a newlywed. Not that I'm complaining. I mean I love my wife and I love being married, so the writing can just wait a bit :)

I have been on the job at the new church for two months now. I do miss the kids from the last group, but I love these new guys. We're going to spend some of the first weeks of the school year going over Dave Burchett's book "When Bad Christians Happen to Good People." Tomorrow, I'm going to sit down and try to see how I'm going to adapt this into youth lessons. I can't wait to see how it works out.

Today, I had my first bad experience though. For seven years, I've never had a problem being allowed on the school campus. Today, I found out that my new school system is a closed campus. They allow nobody on campus so that they don't have to worry about people from "undesirable" groups filing a lawsuit. I certainly understand their decision, but that doesn't make it any easier. There may be a way around it, but I'm not sure I want to do something that could cause a problem between me and the school board. They do a great job with the kids, and I want to be a support to them, not a harm.

In July, I tested for and received my first degree black belt! I tested at the school in front of Master Sustaire from Dallas who was there to judge Mel in her final midterm toward her fourth degree. We now own the entire school and so I've been doing a lot of the business side of the school to let her be on the floor with the students. With the back to school sign ups right now, we have 74 students with hopefully a bunch more coming. The record has been 80, so we'll see if we can pass that up by the end of the month.

Well, work is calling my name back to what needs to get done. So, it's time to have fun with Elijah on Mt. Carmel. Hope the stuffed buffalo doesn't mind pretending to be a sacrificial cow again...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Worlds

Greetings from Little Rock, Arkansas! I'm sitting here at the business center in the hotel checking in while my wife and our friends are all taking a nap. After teaching the youth ministry at Cumby back on Wednesday, I headed for Little Rock to go to the ATA World Championships.

This is an awesome event. It's my first time here and I'm overwhelmed with all the stuff going on. Last night we went and watched the high rank testings. Wow! I can't wait until I'm able to do things like that.

Then this morning, I went to the School Owners and Staff Training with Grand Master and the Master's Council. Sore does not even begin to describe how my legs feel right now! :) But it was a great workout and I learned a lot of things about balance, self-defense, and techniques. Today was the Top 10 Championships. Soon, I'm going to be driving over to the arena to watch the Master's Ceremony. A bunch of high ranks are going to be testing for 7th and 8th degrees, so this should be a very interesting night.

It's all been really fun so far! Tomorrow a couple of the students from Meli's school will be compteting in the Opening tournament. Then I'm heading home to see how the church vote goes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Married Life

Wow! I haven't been online to do this blog thing for a while now.

Married life is awesome! I've been a married man for almost three weeks now. It definitely has been quite the adjustment, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

The honeymoon trip was absolutely incredible. There are way more stories than I can put on this blog, so maybe they will come out over the course of the next few weeks. I'm actually working on putting together the video right now.

On the job front, First Baptist Church of Cumby is about to vote on calling me to the the Minister of Youth and Music. It's a small, but loving congregation with a really good youth program. It feels really good to be back in front of a youth group again.

I'm going to keep this one short, but I should be back online more with a lot more to say.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

It's HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE

Saturday, June 3. That's what it says on the title of this post! The day that has looked so far away for so long is now today. It's on the calendar. I checked. The little post comment options at the bottom of this window as I'm typing says it to. Checked my Palm Zire, it says June 3, too.

This really is the day that I'm going to get married. By now, she's getting her hair done. I'm, ready to head over to the church pretty soon. Rehearsal was excellent last night.

Now, I'm sitting here hanging out with two really good friends who stand by me through all of this. Dave and Crystal, thanks guys!!

Pretty random quick thoughts, but that's what's going through my head right now. A lot of quick thoughts. One thought I can say is not in my mind is running away. No cold feet here. Then again, four pairs of socks will take care of that. Just kidding.

So, with that, I say C-U-L8r to the Blogosphere until I return. I will have lots of pictures and stories for the ocean blue. Check back and see what happens!!!

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Day Approaches!!!

Hey! I've just got a few quick seconds before the circus starts again. Well, that's not really an accurate way to describe it, because everything is happening for a very good reason (I'm getting married!) Anyway, I'm staying a hotel that has wireless internet which means a quick chance to blog! David and Crystal are with me here, and we stayed up way too late catching up on things. They're zonked out right now, but a 16 hour car trip will do that to you. I hope one day I can return the favor for them (seperately or together). :)

Family and friends have been arriving since early yesterday. Today is the rehearsal and decorating day. She's even making me get a manicure today lol. Even more meeting and greeting today and then it's time for the countdown. Within 30 hours from now, I will be a married man.

I thank God for the wonderful gift He's given to me in her.

Keep checking here, maybe I can post a few times before Monday when we're out in the middle of the ocean.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Monday, May 29, 2006

Moving Part II

Well, just a quick post while I take a break from packing. I've got two out of four rooms completely finished and packed up. Thankfully, I'm not actually moving anything until after the honeymoon so if anything doesn't get done it's not a huge crisis. I've got some of the students coming over tomorrow to help out, so everything should get done.

Today, Meli went back home so she can teach tomorrow. I just realized that this was the last time that one of us will ever have to get into our car and leave the other to go home. Next week, our home will be together! :)

It's pretty amazing how quickly you can accumulate junk. I'm already over five full bags of stuff out the door and into the trash with probably one or more to go.

I've got a lot left to do, so off to it. I am leaving tomorrow to head up for the final plans and getting the marriage license! Later!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Last Day

Well, today is my last day at First Baptist Church. I have no idea what to expect, or what is going to happen. I trust that God is going to bring about whatever He wills, so it should be an interesting day. I'm really not sure how emotional I'm going to be, or at least how much I will show. On the inside, however, will be an entirely different story. I am truly going to miss this church.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Thank God for Congress!

Finally, the Congress did something right!

Congress bars military funeral protesters


This may not make me into the favorites of certain people, but that's fine. It's a hard thing to believe that people could believe they are following Christ and do things like that. I've read the whole bible (as a youth pastor, I better have) and I have yet to find one time where Jesus either a) carried a picket sign, or b) ever used the word fag (or any other similar form). I believe that love is the better way. Love covers all. The love of Jesus is powerful enough to change anyone. I would rather focus on that. I love that Jesus loves me, and I want to share that with everyone.

Before someone from there comes here and misreads me, let me be clear. Homosexuality is listed as a sin. It is wrong. I will freely say that because it is the biblical truth. However, seriously, how many people do they expect to be bring back to Christ by acting like this?

Dave Burchett in his book "When Bad Christians Happen to Good People" likens things like this to the small percentage of policemen who have done wrong. Although 99% of them are honest, hardworking, wonderful public servants, it's the 1% that get on the news, stir up trouble, and make the job harder for everyone else.

So, for the record

1) I believe that love is the better way because Christ loves us enough to have gone through a horrible, painful death for us.

2) I wish I could have nothing to do with certain groups of people. However, since they have the words "Baptist Church" in their church name, I am going to be lumped in with them sometimes. That's fine. I still believe that love wins.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Moving


10-1

In honor of my last day with the students...
A survey stolen from from Myspace bulletin board.

10 Favorites...
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Food: Pizza
Favorite Band/Singer:U2
Favorite Song: right now, My Jesus by Todd Agnew
Favorite Movie: Airplane
Favorite Sport: Taekwondo
Favorite Season: Spring
Favorite Day Of the Week: Saturday
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Cookie Dough

9 Currents...
Current Mood: Out there
Current Taste: Pepsi One
Current Clothes: Sleep pants and the same shirt I had on today.
Current Desktop: Matt Hughes, UFC Welterweight Champion
Current Nail Color: clear
Current Time: 1:02 a.m.
Current Surroundings: Boxes for the move
Curent Annoyance(s): The boxes again
Current Thought: I love Meli!

8 Firsts...
First Best Friend: Clint
First Kiss: Amber
First Screen Name: themusicman
First Pet: dog
First Piercing: no thank you.
First Crush: won't say that a week before my wedding :)
First Music: Oldies
First Car: 1984 Ford LTD

7 Lasts...
Last Cigarette: never
Last Drink: The day we got engaged, the manager opened up a $450 bottle of champagne. See My Engagement Story for details
Last Car Ride: To work today
Last Kiss: Saturday
Last Movie Seen: X Men 2
Last Phone Call: Meli
Last CD Played: I listen to XM

6 Have You Evers...
Have You Ever Dated One Of Your Best Friends: Yes
Have You Ever Broken the Law: only speeding
Have You Ever Been Arrested: No
Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: No
Have You Ever Been on TV: Yes
Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn't Know: No

5 Things youre wearing:
Didn't we cover this?
1. Sleep pants
2. Christian T-shirt
3. Big glasses
4. socks
5. None of your business :)

4 Things You've Done Today:
1. Blogged this
2. Hung out with the youth ministry
3. Packed up my office books
4. Took out the trash

3 Things You Can Hear Right Now:
1. Computer fan
2. TV
3. The air conditioner

2 Things You Can't Live Without:
1. God
2. Meli!

1 Thing You Do When You're Bored:
1. Play video games

Last Night

Well, tonight was the last Wednesday Night service with my youth. It's been an awesome time over the past two years, but today, I had to say goodbye. It was definitely one of the hardest things I've had to do in a long time. It's unfortunate that in order to have a the wonderful marriage God has given me, I have to leave them behind. However, I know that God has an incredible plan for each of them, and for the student ministry we've built together.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Countdown

Well, as anyone can see, my blogging time has been very limited. I'm coming down to the final days before my wedding. I can't wait, but there is a lot to get done between now and then. I'll try to blog as much as I can, but I can't promise anything. Until then, keep checking by, and be sure to leave some comments!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Break


So, this past Friday, I tested for the rank of recommended black belt. In the ATA, it's the belt level just before full black belt with your name on it and everything. It's been a long struggle, but in the end, the whole thing will be worth it in two months when I test for the full black belt rank.

The great thing is that during the test, I had to break boards. This has always been my hiccup. Most of the time, they go through, but a while ago, I was having a technique problem and mental block that led to me not breaking. Melissa and I fixed the problem, and this test was the time to prove that it had worked. Well...

First try, buddy! Both boards on the first try!

Perseverence. That's the name of the game in martial arts and in life. I can't wait to pick up the new belt on Thursday.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

My Preaching Adventure

This is my first attempt at hosting a video online, so I hope this works. This is the sermon I delivered to the church last Sunday morning. It's a pretty big file, so I would recommend a high speed connection for it. Well... here goes.




Thursday, May 11, 2006

AGGHHH

If I didn't know that I already lost my mind years ago, I would think I'm losing it now! :) Just kidding, but I have to say, all these last minute things are starting to really pile on. This wedding is coming really quickly.

Tomorrow, I go to test for recommended black belt. Everything has been working in practice, so really, all I have to do is go there and do it at the test. Even the board breakings are going well. I'll post some results real soon.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Busy Week

What a week this has been already! Now that I'm less than a month away from getting married, it seems like the days are just flying by. Of course, one thing I've noticed is the increase in the number of people who ask this question (or something similar)

Are you ready to get married, yet?

How do you respond to that? The silly side of me wants to come up with a creative, Bill Engvall-esque snappy response. I mean, if I wasn't ready, why would I have asked her? :) So, if anyone has some good comebacks to that, let me know. I'd love to have some fun in these last weeks with that.

I have another shower to go to followed by my final premarital counseling session. It's going to be a good weekend to just spend some time with Meli before it gets really hectic.

I am testing for my recommended black belt one week from today! It's been a long journey, but the trip has been worth it. My flexibility is way up compared to what it was, and I'm consistantly 10 pounds lighter than when I started. Both breaks are going through, so now it's just a matter of doing it!

Then Sunday, I am delivering both the morning and evening sermons to the church. These are some of the last chances I'll get to address the whole church before I leave. The morning sermon is already finished, with just some fine tuning to go. I hope to have it up on Youtube or something like that sometime next week. I can't wait to give this one. I've had so much fun writing it.

Ok, enough rambling. Then again, that is the title of the blog right?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Waking On


I hadn't even heard of Christian Contemporary Music until 1997. While in college, I found the faith that I thought I had lost. When I did, I went full bore into CCM music and the subculture that goes with it.

That is a good thing in a way and a bad thing in a way. (But I talk more about that in my CCM article at YMX).

As I get older and approach my marriage, I have been starting to break out of that mold. Also, I think my year with an XM Satellite Radio attached to my hip has had something to do with that. Sixty-nine music channels lead to a little bit of channel surfing.

Anyway, when I saw this book at the local Christian bookstore, I was intrigued. I knew very little about U2 other than some of the songs that had played on the radio while I was growing up. Then, as I was in the Christian subculture and working in churches, Bono's use of the F-word and their shying away from the Church was something to be avoided.

It only took a couple chapters of this book to see that something was going to be different. Steve Stockman did a wonderful job of chronicling the development of each member of the band, as well as telling their journeys through their faith. I was particularly interested in the story of how their church asked them to quit.

Each album is analyzed like a bible study, with Scripture references and personal stories from the band. Stockman also tells of Bono's almost obsession with using the social standing God gave him for good, like the DATA and One.org projects.

This is a great read for anyone interested in music, or even Christians who want a positive influence in secular music.

Edit 12:46 a.m. 5/3/06 -- If you're here from Bonowatch.com, be sure to comment!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Breaking Power


So, this past weekend was a pretty good one. In class on Saturday morning both of my board breaks went through. If the same thing happens in two weeks, I will have my recommended black belt! Today, a friend of mine will be testing for his black belt.

Then, I rode my first horse. It's amazing, I work at a children's home that was a farm for two years, and never got to get on one of the horses. So, Saturday, I got the opportunity to ride Primera. It's an interesting view of the world to be up that high and let the horse take you where you want to go.

Anyway, it's going to be a busy week. I am speaking in the main church worship service both morning and evening this Sunday. My Sunday morning one is finished, but the Sunday night study still needs a lot of work. Hopefully, I can post either video or audio of my sermon next week.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Shaking my head

Continuing the theme of Christians who are making my job 10 times harder...

While driving through a town that I pass through many times, I took notice of a certain church's sign. A couple month ago, this church purchased one of those light up signs that can display a bunch of messages. Unfortunately, this place has chosen to put up some of the most spiteful, hurtful, almost hateful messages I have ever seen a church place in public.

A few weeks ago, the message board was doing nothing but listing all of the different types of sinners who would not be able to enter Heaven. Today, "Hell is a lonely place... You will have no friends in Hell." I actually thought about stopping and watching the sign for a while just to see what else they could come up with.

Although it is biblically true that Hell is a real place and people really do go there, the preocuppation that the sign writer has with it is most likely driving more people away from Christ than bringing to Him.

In college, we had Mad Max. Honestly, that's what we all called him because he would never stop shouting long enough to tell his real name. This was one of those guys who would come to the center of the university, stand up on a small wall around the fountain, and spend two hours sending everyone that passed by him to Hell. I personaly was condemned nine times during the second semester of my junior year.

It saddens me to this day to think of not only how much joy that man was missing, but how many people he led away from Christ.

Of course, the last thing I want to do is point fingers, because, I wonder how many times I've done that myself. How many times have I kept someone from seeing the fullness of God's love because I was too busy, or in a bad mood? Hypocrisy is too dangerous of a topic to deal with without looking at myself in the process.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ouch

Wow. I'm only two chapters into When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by Dave Burchett, and already my backside is beginning to hurt. I can tell that this is going to be one challenging, wonderful, face smacking read.

Recently, I heard of a church who had a guest come in that was less than desirable. Apparantly, one of the "leaders" greeted this person with a request to "dress better or not return." :(

I won't mention the church because I can't completely verify that this happened, but I have seen more than my share of this in my 21 years in the faith. It saddens me when I see the hospital of sinners I proclaim become a nursing home for tired saints who don't want to heal people any longer.

So, I'm going to pick this back up tomorrow and let the author challeng me even more. In the mean time, Dr. Daron is off to read up on some Biblical anatomy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I'm a Dot Com

Well, I went and did it today. I've been mulling over buying a domain for a while now. Today I decided that since I'm going to be looking for a church to serve in, I wanted an easy way for people to access my resume, this blog, my writings on the Psalms, and other things about me. So...

www.daronbilyeu.com will now take you to my website. This blog is now known as www.daronbilyeu.com/blog I'm going to have my other information put up on the website as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tract This

I can't stand tracts. Let me just put that one out there right now. You know those little things that are filled with messages of God's love that we're told will bring the masses to Christ if we just give them out and walk away? Now, I guess I should say that they can and sometimes do work. If that happens, wonderful!

But for the most part, all I've ever seen in my 27 years has been people who use tracts to substitute building a relationship with someone who does not know Christ. Seven years ago, I was a college sophomore out with some friends at a Steak 'N Shake. As the waitress cleaned up the table next to us, there it was, a gospel tract and a note.

"This is worth more than any tip we can give you."

She started laughing. One of the more outgoing members of the group asked what was going on. Her reply...

"I'm already a Christian, and I make $2.30 an hour. I could have used the tip."

I guess that's why I'm so against using tracts like that. Two simple questions could have figured that information out. So we pooled our money together and left enough of a tip to cover our table and theirs when we left. It's ok, because I actually liked Ramen noodles back then :)

There is no substitute for actually getting to know someone and knowing their situation. If we're going to show this wonderful love that I claim, we have got to demonstrate it in everyday life! Then maybe people will see that Christ is not a religion, but a way of life leading to everlasting life!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Coffee Shop Office

What is it about the coffeehouse that makes me be able to write? I've been working for a week on a sermon that I'm going to give next Sunday. (Being a youth pastor, I get the luxury of a month notice of giving a sermon to the main church.) Well, today, I'm in my office trying to write, when the power goes out. I'm sure it was just because a squirrel sneezed 50 miles away. For whatever reason, it lasted too long for the battery backup to keep going.

So I packed up and drove the 30 miles to the nearest coffee shop for some recharging mocha, and a nice quiet spot upstairs. In the process of an hour and half, I had written the sermon, my youth message for Wednesday, and a newsletter article for the church. Then the mocha kicked in. :)

It's odd, but I think I'm more productive away from my office than in it.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

It's Official

It's now offical. I have told the church that I am going to be leaving when I get married. It's been a complete secret in my small town, that means that everyone pretty well knew already. But today, I confirmed what I have been told in prayer, that my life is going to continue at her side and not here.

It's never easy to leave anyone you care about like this. But I'm confident that God has already raised up another to take my place and lead this church, and it's students. I'm just going to miss them, though.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Same Differences

You know what? Girls are different that guys. It sounds like a simple statement, but sometimes that has been getting lost. And you know what? I celebrate those differences! I love that Melissa is different than me. She has ways about her that I can never have, and God created us that way.

Tonight, I had the girls of my youth group to come over to the gym for a special event only for girls. We had Melissa teach some of her basic self-defense, and a friend of ours teach about makeup. The girls had an absolute blast and many of them transformed into young women before my eyes.

I praise God that he made women the way He did.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Stormy Weather, stormy day.

It's about to storm here real soon. I've always had a love/hate relationship with thunderstorms. When I was little, I was very scared of them, but at the same time, I loved to see them. I'm still that way. I get a little nervous, but I love to stay up and watch them roll by. So it's 1am and I'm sitting at the computer.

Today, I had to make a trip to the eye doctor long before my scheduled yearly appointment. This past week, I haven't been able to keep my right eye from believing that my contact lens was not something trying to destroy my body. It's been getting redder than my face after reading that Derek Lee is out for 10-12 weeks.

After a while, you just get used to the way you look. So, when something changes, it takes you for a ride for a while. That's how I've been while having to wear my glasses around all week. But thankfully, there is nothing seriously wrong with my eyes. Except that the wonderful, beautiful pine trees of the Sabine National Forest have got my immune system on super overload.

So here I sit, counting the time between the lightning and the thunder. This should be a good one.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Blogging Psalm 8

Psalm 8

Every once in a while, I am completely taken back by the incredibly awesome Creator that our God is. He is an absolute artist. Everything that we can see was created by Him and for His glory! What a wonderful thought that is!

In fifth grade, I was sure I was going to be an astronaut. I used to go out with a little el cheapo telescope and check out every star I could find. I even spent time after school with the Young Astronaut Club (go ahead and laugh). It only took one time in the gyroscope at Kennedy Space Center to realize that I wasn't going to be making the Space Program. However, I did retain my love for God's Creation.

Every once in a while, I like to just look up at the stars in the huge Texas sky. I like to try to name off all the constellations and the major stars. I used to be much better at it. After reading this psalm and looking outside, it took on a strange new meaning.

In Revelation, John says that Jesus held the stars in his right hand. Just a few verses later, Jesus uses the same right hand to comfort John. Check that out. The same hand that holds the stars in the sky can hold me, too!

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? (v. 3-4)

The same God that created the universe cares for us in ways we can't possibly imagine!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Letting Out the Cat

Dumbledore said in Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone "It's a complete secret, so naturally, everybody knows." Well, today I had to let the worst kept secret out. I leaving my church at the end of May.

It was one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do. I'm still really trying to take it all in. As much as I love the idea of getting married, it still hurts to leave these wonderful kids that I've spent the last two years with. My biggest hope is that they will continue to build their ministry just as hard as they have been while I have been here.

To any students who are reading this: Thank you for two awesome years as your youth pastor. Keep letting the Spirit roll you to greater things!

Pray for me as I look toward the future, and look for a new church to call home.

Welcome!

wow. Thanks to Youth Specialties for making this a featured blog! Of course, this comes right when life got absolutely crazy and my blogging time has been limited. :)

But since YS felt enough in me to recommend this site to everybody, it is only right that I return the favor by getting on the horse. So tonight, after I've been with my student ministry, I will give an update on what has been going on with my wedding plans, as well as my thoughts on Psalm 8.

I hope you like what you read here. Don't hesitate to talk to me anytime by hitting the contact information to your left.

Here is a link to the actual YS Update Newsletter featuring this blog!

God bless!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday thoughts

Hey. Things have been absolutely crazy this week, so I haven't been able to blog very well late this week. The good news is that as soon as I log off, I'm on my way to go see Phantom of the Opera with Melissa! I'll be back later.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cue the Organ

In just two days, I am going to spend a night living way above my income, and I am going to enjoy every second of it. I have no desire to ever have a lot of money, but once in a while, it's kind of fun.

I am going to drive up and pick up Melissa after she gets done with teaching. Then we have 5:00 reservations at the same restaurant I spoke about in the Psalm 1 post. After devouring one of the greatest steaks I've ever had in my life, we have two tickets to the Phantom of the Opera in Dallas. This is going to be a great night!

Blogging Psalm 7

Psalm 7

One of the things that I have been noticing now that I’m seven psalms into this experiment is the number of times that the songwriters will end with praise. No matter how bad things are going, they end the song praising God for the assurance of what is to come.

These praises were offered in advance. Here in Psalm 7, David does exactly this. The whole psalm is an appeal to God to help him, most likely during Absalom’s rebellion. Like in Psalm 6, he is crying out in a moment of incredible need, but God hasn’t sent help yet.

Finally he ends up praising God in advance “I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.” (v17 NIV) What an incredible display of praise in the hardest of times!

Blogging Psalm 6

Psalm 6

I had my first encounter with depression in college. It wasn't me personally, but I watched a good friend of mine suffer through some really hard times. The biggest problem I had was not watching her go through what she did, but seeing how the Christians around us were reacting. For a while, it was as if the thought that a Christian person could be sad was seen as a sin. In the dark times, when the quickly quipped "God loves you" and "Everything will work out in His plan" continually backed up this notion that negative feelings were against God.

When I see Psalm 6, I see a man desperately sad and crying out for relief. This has gone beyond sadness, to a despair that can only be described as depressed. David needs help. He knows he's going to get it, but that still doesn't stop his heart from breaking during the wait. The Message translation says that David's bed could float from the lake of tears he was crying. Obviously, this is a metaphor, but I had to stop and think about how much crying it would take to do something like that. Through all this, however, David still believed in God's deliverance.

The great 20th century theologian, Bono, put David's cries this way:

"'Where are you when we need you?' 'We're surrounded.' 'Your people are starving.' 'Are you deaf?' That type of thing. He'd be wailing, this militant mind, this poet musician with enough faith to believe he had a deal with God ... believed it enough to get angry when it looked like He wasn't coming through."
Jesus himself promised us that Christians would go through hard times. Are we supposed to just grin and bear it? Keep a stiff upper lip, as the British would say? I don't think so. Feeling sad is not a sin. When we feel negative thoughts, we can call out to him just like David did here and receive His answer. Through Jesus Christ, we can know that although we may be sad now, we can have a peace that He will comfort us with His rest.
Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NLT)
P.S. If you are reading this and you have been feeling sad for a long time, please see a licensed Christian Counselor and let him or her lead you on the path of God's recovery.

Bono quote taken from John Waters, Race of Angels (Belfast: The Blackstaff Press, 1994), 1.

It Broke!!!

It's amazing how one small adjustment in technique can make such a big difference. After weeks of a mental block that was taking away from the power to break though my board, Melissa figured out what was wrong. The result was a solid reverse elbow break through the brown board! Now, with seven weeks to go before I test for Recommended Black Belt, I am pretty secure in my breaks. I'm sure I'll be blogging more on this as the weeks go by.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

From the human perspective...

This is an interesting phrase to me. It's compltetely true, but it's still one of those hard truths to grasp sometimes. As a youth pastor, I've been to more funerals in this community than I can count. I think it's somewhere around 80, but I'm not entirely sure.

Today, I atteneded the viewing for a man in his 40s. He led the music at the church that I'm going to be getting married in. My pastor has this thought whenever something like this happens. He says "From the human perspective, it's a tragedy, but from his perspective, we should rejoice." "Absent from the body, present with God."

Sometimes, life is all about perspective. Maybe death is as well.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Six Months Ago

Today, I realized something. It has been six months since I posted Rita vs. the small town, my thoughts from when I came home to see my small town ravaged by the Category 2 leftovers of Hurricane Rita. The devestation was just unreal. As I mentioned, I live 100 miles north of the coast. Yet, the direct center of the storm passed right over my house.

I can still remember the trees down all over the place. I can still remember the converstations I had with people who were unsure about how much of their homes were left. I remember going home to a fully intact house thanking God that the only thing missing was the cable TV. I still remember going online each day and printing out copies of the Beaumont Enterprise so that the over 250 guests sleeping in our church gym could know little slivers of what was going on.

I saw the absolute best in people those weeks following the storm. A group of nurses and doctors from all over the country came to check on our guests and others. Some group of men from Idaho showed up in a bus and stayed for a few days.

The scenes I saw were just unreal. I know that I will never forget the things that I learned during that time of great trial for my town, and my church.

Blogging Psalm 5

Awesome is a word that is too overused these days. My generation was among the first to really downplay how much the word awesome means. The culprit: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Seriously, they're back on these days. Check it out. Every episode, they thought everything was awesome. I thought they were awesome. I wanted to be one. Of course, I wasn't a turtle. :(

I love the way that the dictionary defines awe. "A mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might."

David was feeling some definite mixed emotions here in Psalm 5. No one is completely sure, but most scholars feel that this psalm was written during Absalom's rebellion, just like Psalm 3 and 4. Troubles surrounded David everywhere he went at this time. He's crying out desperately to God to save him. He's upset. He's sad, angry, and even lonely. Yet he's hopeful because he knows the power that God has over his troubles.

"Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; with deepest awe I will worship at your Temple." (v7 NLT)

This is the God that led the nation out of Egypt and allowed them to cross the Red Sea. This is the God who came down in fire and engulffed the altar. This is the God who gave King David the strength to kill a nine-foot giant. He knew the power.

Even King Darius figured it out later on. The same word for "deepest awe" shows up in Dan 6:26 "...every part of my kingdom must fear and reverence the God of Daniel "for He is the living God and he endures forever; His Kingdom will not be destroyed."

When God truly shows up and changes lives, He produces those mixed emotions of shock, reverence, excitedness, and even fear. Yet everything He has promised He has always delivered. Everyone who runs into his arms for protection will receive it.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Blogging Psalm 4

The names in this story have been changed to maintain the confidentiality of those people involved.

I remember when he first came to the unit. He was scrawny little thing with loads of energy. This young man was very nice and polite, with a smile a mile wide. This little son of an immigrant from Africa had already taken to playing with the others. I asked the social worker checking him in what his problem was. He told me "nothing." It took five minutes talking to the new boy to figure out that the only reason he said "Yes, sir" to everything I asked was because it was the only English he knew at the time. For the sake of the story, I'll call him Michael.

I was working at a children's home. Most of the kids there we facing some sort of difficulty in adjusting to a regular school. This boy's issue was that he had just moved from Africa and spoke no English. Because of his age, we could only move him into a room with James, a fire-headed little boy who had experienced more life by age seven than I had by sixteen. James was constantly in trouble. My bosses were hoping that having a nice young man in the same room could benefit both of them.

After Michael learned his new roomate's name, they proceeded to play like they were old friends. Content with this arrangement, I finished out my shift and took my two days off. When I came back, I found the Michael was learning some more English, especially how to deflect punishment. Everytime I would find something going on that shouldn't be, I would hear "Not me!" It was one of James' specialties.

So, it was getting close to dinner time, and James and Michael were playing in their room. I walked down the hall and said, Michael. Without missing a beat, I hear, "Not me! James." Trying to hold back the laughter, I informed them that it was time to stuff their faces. Two smiling little heads poked out of their room. They had done nothing wrong... this time.

I decided that day that passing blame is ingrained in our minds right after the reflex that makes your nose itch when someone is looking directly at you. We're naturals at it.

David wrote a song talking about the very same thing. People were beginning to blame him for all the problems that were going on in Israel. This psalm is more than just a whiny country song. David is desperately crying out to God begging him to avert a civil war. Then he gives some great advice to the people:

"In your anger do not sin; when you are in your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the LORD. " (NIV)

When we're having troubles and hard times, it's so easy to go straight for the Blame Game. Instead, we need to take heart in the words of the songwriter. We need to offer our praise to God in the hard times as well as the good, always trusting in God. Then he will give us a "greater joy" than we've ever experienced before.

Blogging Psalm 3

Psalm 3

I wish my parents had bought stock in Nintendo. As much time as I spent in front of that thing as a kid, you would think that I have a stake in their success.

It's old hat now, but I remember getting the first Legend of Zelda the day it came out. What an incredible thing! The idea that you can play and save your game!

Anyone who has played knows the joy of getting that really nice shield. Now you can finally stop those rocks those little desert creatures throw a you. You have to have a defense.

Shields are very important in games, as they are in real war. David was very familiar with war. He had been in a lot of them. In fact, it the #1 hit on the Israeli Top 40 was "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands!" by the "Women of Israel." (1 Sam 18:7)

Now, David is facing a new war. This time, it's his own son. Talk about betrayal! He's gone from king to a man hiding from his kid.

Even in this whole problem, David pens that God is a "shield around me." You know the problem with shields is that they only cover your front. If someone sneaks up behind you and shoots an arrow or some nasty video game mystic fireball, you will get hit unless you turn around. I lost many hearts before figuring that out.

David is writing in his song that God is like a shield that goes all around him. We're talking more like a forcefield than Wooden shield #3.

Because of this realization, David was not afraid of losing the Civil War. He was not afraid of the new "tens of thousands" now looking for him. He sings because he's met "God our deliver, God our defender."

In our times of great trial, God is a shield around us who is faithful to deliver. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

I've Been Published!

After writing my "Rant on the CCM Industry" post a couple weeks back, I decided that I wanted to try and share the observations with more people than those who just happen to bounce by here. So I expanded it a little, and submitted it to the Youth Ministry Exchange. It is now there. The new and improved version is now at this link here, complete with a really cool intro picture.

Thanks to Derek and Adam over at YMExchange for believing in my writing!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

First Ever Audio Post

this is an audio post - click to play

Blogging Psalm 2

Psalm 2

Ever get those questions that you know have no correct answer? There is nothing like the words "do these jeans make me look fat?" to strike fear into a grown man's heart. It's amazing. Men for centuries have fought wars, sailed the seas, and ruled kingdoms, but we clam up as soon as we hear those words. We know that if we agree, we're told that we have to say that, and if we disagree... well... anyway.

Thankfully, My fiance doesn't do that to me, but I have been there. I know the feeling. Solidarity, brothers.

Psalm 2 opens with a question, but it is definitely not a no-answer, lose-lose question. It's one that is already answered for us before we read it. "Why do the nations rage?" The songwriter is asking a redundant question. This isn't just a man's question, but an accusation. It could be more like "Why in the world would countries near to our God even think to step out and do something so stupid like taking on God and our Messiah?" "It's in vain. It's crazy. It just won't work!" (Daron's really bad paraphrase version)

Then, the songwriter gives us a picture of a grand king who will take over the throne of David. In fact, he even uses the term "Annointed One" which is the same word from Hebrew that we get Messiah.

This song is not a question, but a promise. The LORD promises the Messiah to come and wipe out those who would stand against God, leaving a pure and perfect kingdom of heaven on earth.

My favorite 20th century songwriter, Rich Mullins, had this thought pegged. The chorus of his song, "While the Nations Rage" says,

Where are the nails that pierced His hands?
Well the nails have turned to rust
But behold the Man
He is risen
And He reigns
In the hearts of the children
Rising up in His name
Where are the thorns that drew His blood?
Well, the thorns have turned to dust
But not so the love
He has given
No, it remains
In the hearts of the children
Who will love while the nations rage

Copyright 1989 - Edward Grant, Inc.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Blogging Psalm 1

Psalm 1


I love food. The nice little tire in front of my otherwise very skinny body will attest to that statement. I am probably the only person in America who is at his ideal weight for his height and still be out of shape. In college, my fraternity brothers called me "the skinniest fat man alive." Or was it "the fattest skinny man alive." I can’t remember now.

Last year, I surprised Melissa by booking reservations at an incredibly nice restaurant on the shores of Lake Ray Hubbard near Dallas. We're talking one of those places where the wine list is longer than the menu. The sign on the front of the door read something like this. "Proper business attire required." I actually had to wear dress clothes outside of Sunday morning. Melissa put on a skirt and heels. When I say nice place, I mean it.

Now I've had many steaks before, but this one put them all to shame. When I go a "steakhouse" that I can usually afford, the first thing I ask for is the A1. The first bite into this one, and I knew that there would be no need for the waiter to return. "Does everything taste ok" turned out to be the most redundant question I'd ever heard. I look back and notice something. When food is that good, you just eat it slower. You chew slower. You savor every bite.

Psalm 1 talks about what the Word of God is like for those who believe in Him. It's a cry, a desperate plea for people to live right with God. David Crowder calls it "…a declaration of the intentions of obedience for [Israel’s] life of worship."

Verse 2 says that "His delight is in the Law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night." Eugene Peterson translates the word "meditate" in the Message version as "chews." He calls it chewing on the Scriptures. You take it in. You slowly savor every nuance, every flavor, and every word. Eventually, after getting every bit of taste sensation out of it your brain can take in, you digest it and it becomes part of you.

The writer here is calling us to listen to God through digesting His Word and listening for His voice. Even the greatest steak will leave us hungry again tomorrow. He will satisfy our needs in ways we can never imagine.

David Crowder quote from "Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi" (c) 2004 by David Crowder. Published by NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO.

Music of the Psalms

I've had people ask me before why I use "12String" in just about all that I do online. One of my favorites of all time was when I was chatting in a college sports room, and someone asked me, "Twelve Strings, does that mean you play two guitars at the same time?"

Very simply, 12string4jc like I use for this blog's address is simply to remind me that I am His, and I want to use the talent He gave me to further His kingdom. I play the majority of my worship leading on a 12-string guitar that I purchased almost three years ago when Mars Music was going out of business.

I've been a musician as long as I could reach out and grab things. My parents told me stories of banging pots and pans together as a little child. I'm very thankful to them for putting up with the noise, at least for a little bit.

That is, they put up with the noise until 5th grade, when I brought my first trombone home. It only took a few days of practice before my father came into my room and compare my Bb Major scale to the sounds of large bovine creature staring the Grim Reaper in the face. Thankfully, I improved a little bit and was able to gain a place in college majoring in music.

I spent four years in college going through three different music majors (education, history, and performance). While in school, I also began to develop a faith that I had lost over the course of my teenage years. Although this was a great thing, it also began to lead me to a crisis of faith regarding music. I was a pretty good classical musician, and I loved to play jazz and blues also.

Without going into too many details, two Bible verses really stuck out for me in this. Psalm 108:1 (NIV) says "My heart is steadfast, O God. I will sing and make music with all my soul." Then Colossians 3:23 (NLT) "Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."

So I am a musician who is a Christian. I'm not a Christian musician. The difference is that with everything I sing or play, I am going to give it to God and make it an offering to Him.

Being a musician, the Psalms are very important to me, but I've realized that I need to dive into them more. I've been reading them as theological statements and not the passionate, awesome, sometimes desperate songs of the heart that they are. So I'm setting up another blog where I'll be going through the Psalms, hopefully one each day.

If anything, this should be interesting.

Blingin for God

One of my students sent me this one...

Oops

I just realized that I had comment moderation turned on. That is now turned off. Please feel free to comment on any post.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

Please Welcome

You know, after a night of watching wrestling and now the UFC, I was thinking "Wouldn't it be cool to have a guy like Bruce Buffer introduce me doing everyday things?"

Sort of like when I get ready to speak on Wednesday nights...

"Ladies and Gentlemen. IT'S TIME....

For the main... event... of... the evening!!!

AND NOW... to deliver tonights inspirational, life changing, incredible message..

This man is an mixed speaker of the exponential and topical style. He stands 6 feet 3 inches and weighed in at absolutely none of your business.

Teaching out of the space right in front of you in the youth room... PLEASE WELCOME..."

Ok, that's being really silly. Although, getting Bruce Buffer to say existential theology could be fun.

A True Upset

So, not only am I in the YMX Pick 'Em game, but I've been running a contest with some of my youth group. (No $$, of course :) Well, I just totaled the scores and sure enough, we have an upset in the making. It's like a 16 beating the 1.

Our group in the contest consists of myself (a former college basketball broadcaster and reporter), three boys that play sports religiously, and a girl who, in her own words, "knows nothing about basketball." Well, week 1 is complete, and the girl is winning! I can't wait to tell her. She even has all four of her Final Four picks left.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Just like the title says. The Hits Just Keep on Coming. Yesterday, I talked about the wonders that are Pocky. I really thought my trip down memory lane was going to be ended after this discovery.
I was wrong.

I'm in Hastings today checking out the revised edition of "Walk On - The Spiritual Journey of U2," when I start looking at the checkout line junk. You know, all that stuff that they try to get you to impulse buy while waiting on the person in front of you to figure out how to write a check. Well, my particular line was filled with Japanese treats.

Pocky by the boatful. Then, right next to them were my second favorite import.
After much Google searching, I found out that this translates to "The March of the Koalas Cookies." They are wonderful little chocolate filled cookies. I'm not entirely sure why, but the chocolate inside tastes very different. Not to mention, they're just completely fun. Little Koala cookies. Two days. Two rediscoveries.

Melissa and I had a date tonight. The way our schedules are working, this may have been our last time of having to meet halfway for a date. I'm going to really miss that Starbucks, but I'm going to gladly trade that in to gain my bride :).

Looks like I had an ok night bracket wise while I was having fun on my date. I went 12 out of 16 tonight. Way to go Wichita State. Represent the Valley!

Friday, March 17, 2006

I Have Found Them!!!

So, a simple trip to grocery shop at Wal-Mart turned into a walk down memory lane today, and I am one happy boy. My last experience in college was going with the Indiana State University Wind Ensemble on a tour of Tajimi and Nagoya, Japan in 2001. I had an incredible time there taking in the sights, meeting the people, and performing in front of people.

Well, while staying with the host family, I got to take in a lot of the local food. (After we finally convinced the mother of the house that she didn't have to feed us American food all the time.) We went to the store, and that's when I found them. The most wonderful sweet of all time. Pocky.

I don't know how many yen I spent at the local 100 yen store (Seriously) buying these things, but suffice it to say, it was a bit. While many of my fraternity brothers were discovering the wonders of saki, I was hooked on these little things. I had no idea what the box said, but they were so good.

Pockys are these little biscuit sticks that are dipped in chocolate, vanilla, or my favorite, strawberry. Apparently, they are very popular kiddie treats.

Well, ever since getting back home, I've never been able to find them. Even a couple trips to some international food markets in Indiana turned up empty. I had pretty much forgotten about them, like memories of a long-lost love.

Then today, there they were. Hidden under piles of rice and just next to the soy sauce I needed -- Boxes and boxes of my estranged asian treat. I was in heaven! I've already torn into one of the strawberry boxes.

It's amazing how much little things can mean so much. I associate these treats with everything that was good about being in college. I think of friends, fraternity brothers, the professors that I liked. I remember getting a standing ovation from a packed crowd of Japanese people who came to hear a band concert. I remember the man who picked me out of a crowd just to ask me if I had seen Ichiro play baseball.

I think I understand a little better why there is so much symbolism in Christianity. The ark of the covenant, the Passover, the many feasts, the Last Supper. Little things that have a profound meaning to us, and help us to focus on Him.

Anyway, enough typing. I'm going to go finish the box.

Bracket Busted

Day one and I'm already facing bracket trouble... Way to go Syracuse. :) I went 10-6 yesterday. Here's hoping that today will be a better day.

Wait is Davidson really beating Ohio State? AHHHHHHHH!

Looks like the Valley is going to have to represent for me to have any chance.

Update: 1:18 p.m. Thank you Ohio State. You get a little nervous when one of your Final Four Picks is losing their first round game at halftime.

Update: 4:30 16-8 It keeps on going downhill. Northern Iowa didn't pull it off.

Update: 11:20 p.m. -- Final first round score 20 out of 32. Not good. But a lot of my sweet sixteen picks are still alive. I might still have a chance to win the YMX group. Yeah right :)

Day off!

I love days off...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Life in Reverse

Ever tried to back a 15 passenger van up for two miles? Neither had I, until yesterday. I definitely believe that 15-passenger van driving, both forward and backward, should now be included as a required class for first year seminary students. Hmm... 8:00 am Theology 10:00 am Greek 11:00 am Driving the Church Van 101

I was taking kids home from CROSSbow last night, and had to take a road that can only be described as a path that a car can fit through. Dirt road would be a generous description. We're going along past the third "fork in the road" of three when I come up on the bottomless pit to eternity that is an East Texas post-rain mud hole.
So, of course, the advice I'm getting from the back is to "just go fast and get through it." I wouldn't budge. So we tested it out. Not a chance. So I got the thrill of backing up the van until we could finally get back the fork and take the other way.

The thing I noticed is, this is a lot like the way we handle sin. I think we can see it coming for a mile away, yet we have to get as close to it as we can before really noticing it. We may even "test it out" by being in it for a while. If I had driven through and got stuck, the consequences would have been bad. Eventually, we have to "back up," fix things, repair relationship, repair ourselves, and get back on the right path.

This "finding God in the everyday" stuff is really starting to affect my way of thinking.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Creatures of Habit

It amazes me how much we can be creatures of habit.  Today, I did my typical Wednesday ritual -- A trip to the local Mexican restaurant.  As soon as I walked in, the waitress asked me, "The usual?"  Without missing a beat, I agreed to it.  No menu.  Nothing.  I knew what was good and I went for it.  

The problem was, my table was occupied.  MY TABLE!!  I paused for a second when I realized that I was actually bothered by that.  ( I couldn"t believe what I was thinking.  It's a table in a crowded restaurant.  But then again, I have sat there with my bible, the Wednesday night lesson, my palm pilot playing mp3s, fajitas, and Dr. Pepper (rice, no beans) for a long time now.  

We are creatures of habit.  As seen on the bar to the right, I'm reading Praise Habit by David Crowder now.  Odd fellow, but very insightful.  Just as he said, I have been finding God in really odd things lately.  Like my fajita thoughts from earlier this month.  Yesterday, I was able to get out of the office and find a coffee shop.  Just the ability to relax, read the Word, and focus on Him was much needed.  God is everywhere, I just hope I can slow down my mind enough to know it.  

Mama Said Knock You Out Part 2


15-0 with 15 KOs!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Thoughts of 3/14/06

-- What is it about the coffee shop that makes me be able to get so much more work done than usual? Seriously, I could spend 10 hours in my office and still not get as much done as two hours in Java Jacks.

I'm beginning to think that there is some cosmic force that surrounds the average non-starbucks coffee shop that allows people to increase their productivity. Then again, maybe it's just the caffeine. :) Take a look at the setup I had going today.

And yes, that's 24 ounces of Iced Mocha baby! mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!


-- David Crowder is a funny guy! I mean, I knew he was a great worship leader, but he is genuinely funny. I started reading Praise Habit today. I was laughing so hard that people were staring at me. Then the words Crowder wrote stung right to my heart. Great stuff. Can't wait to finish this one!

-- Melissa picked up her wedding dress, shoes, jewelery, and veil today!

-- I love it when paychecks come a day early.

-- Why do people feel the need to create their own speed limits on two-lane roads? If the speed limit posted is 70, please don't make it 45!

-- A family in one of the stores I visited today was arguing with each other. The teen girl (in a mini skirt and crop top) told her father that it was cold outside because "I'm not wearing enough to keep warm." I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry at that. Her father just yelled at her that she was whining. I wished she lived in my town so I could invite her to group.

--See above. Sometimes, I have to fight this feeling that I am able to change the whole world. I get a little bit of success (numbers, kids coming to Christ, etc.) and I think that I'm super-youthpastor. I have to put that away and focus on those around me. Only one guy could save the whole world and he had to die to do it.

They Obviously Don't Know my Profession! :)



Today, I went to a local Chinese restaurant to eat. Of course, I was looking forward to the best part of the meal... the fortune cookie. Then I get it and realize that the guy who made this never had a clue that a youth pastor would get it...

I'm not as weird as the kids think I am!

You Are 30% Weird

Not enough to scare other people...
But sometimes you scare yourself.

I'm not as old as the kids think I am!

You said your birthday is 8 / 6 / 1978

which means you are 27 years old and about:



61 years 9 months younger than Walter Cronkite, age 89
57 years 1 month younger than Nancy Reagan, age 84
54 years 2 months younger than George Herbert Bush, age 81
46 years 10 months younger than Barbara Walters, age 74
44 years 9 months younger than Larry King, age 72
38 years 6 months younger than Ted Koppel, age 66
35 years 1 month younger than Geraldo Rivera, age 62
32 years 1 month younger than George W. Bush, age 59
27 years 1 month younger than Jesse Ventura, age 54
22 years 9 months younger than Bill Gates, age 50
17 years 11 months younger than Cal Ripken Jr., age 45
12 years 1 month younger than Mike Tyson, age 39
8 years 0 months younger than Jennifer Lopez, age 35
2 years 7 months younger than Tiger Woods, age 30
3 years 10 months older than Prince William, age 23

and that you were:


23 years old at the time of the 9-11 attack on America

21 years old on the first day of Y2K
19 years old when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash
16 years old at the time of Oklahoma City bombing
15 years old when O. J. Simpson was charged with murder
14 years old at the time of the 93 bombing of the World Trade Center
12 years old when Operation Desert Storm began
11 years old during the fall of the Berlin Wall
7 years old when the space shuttle Challenger exploded
5 years old when Apple introduced the Macintosh
4 years old during Sally Ride's travel in space
2 years old when Pres. Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr.
a 1 year old at the time the Iran hostage crisis began

Thanks to my step-father for sending me this one!

You can do it too at http://www.frontiernet.net/~cdm/age1.html