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...


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

Monday, March 13, 2006

March is here!

This is the absolute best month to be a sports fan! Usually, you've just got Spring Training games, but I'm getting in to this whole World Baseball Classic thing. Hockey and Basketball are winding down. Now, the NCAA Tournament has been chosen.

Well, since the Sycamores went from 9-0 to not even making the NIT, I do still get to root for four teams from the Valley. As much as it hurts me to think this, I think that Indiana is upset-bait with a lame duck head coach.

So anyway, here are my picks from the ESPN Tournament Challenge. I think that if you click on it, the big picture will come up.

Rant on the CCM Industry

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a seminar about how Christians can interact and relate with the culture of today. Being a musician myself, I was really curious to what the professors and guests were going to say.

Well, for the most part, it was a really good seminar, but I had one big problem that has been on my mind ever since. We had this one session about Christian music and the Christian music business. Now, I've never been the biggest fan of the whole CCM industry. Basically, the speaker tried to make the point that no Christian music can be used for outreach because the music is sacrificed for the content.

Now I agree that a lot of what ends up on stations like the XM32 that I have set on my radio is not very good musically. Also, it is very true that some of the CCM that hits the radio only gets to be played because either 1) the content is happy and good-feeling and 2) the secular company behind the Christian label is promoting the music.

Now, my problem hits when someone tells me that the music has no place because people who don't believe in Christ will not understand it or like it.

Last month, I took my youth group to a Casting Crowns concert. As far as I know, Casting Crowns have not had a single hit that has crossed over into the mainstream music world. They are promoted by a record label and promoted to play on Christian radio stations. So already, we're two points down according to the opinion expressed earlier.

So explain to me why when they sang their songs, the whole crowd was into it. Then, when the gospel was being presented, over 500 out of a crowd of 6500 came forward and accepted Christ. If I've done my math right that means that almost 8% of the crowd did not believe before hearing the music. So something in the music and the words spoken went straight to the heart of those people.

Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 that "If an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming 'God is really among you!"

Now, I am definitely not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination, so I don't want to dive into prophesy. At least, not yet. But I think that this needs to be the goal of Christian music. To create a worship experience that brings the secrets of people's heart to the front.

So I think that CCM type music serves two purposes.

1) CCM that is open, deep and honest can relate to people going through hard times. It can be an outreach tool for those of us who know people that could use that song. Worship needs to be deep and direct to the throne of God. Troubles don't magically disappear when we become Christians, and I think that we need to let people know that. We struggle too, but we know and praise God for the peace that He gives us to get through them. See, Derek Webb, Caedmon's Call, MercyMe, Casting Crowns, etc.

2) Sort of on the same vein, we who are already Christians need an outlet to focus our hearts on Jesus during the normal day. Christian music does have a great effect in that regard. When I turn on channel 32 or KSWP, I know that I am going to be uplifted and the music (for the most part) will be focused on God.

There are a bunch of groups and singers out there that are doing just that. However, many of them are being stifled by the system. Maybe it's no wonder why the best Christian music out there right now is coming from the rockers like Thousand Foot Krutch, Pillar, Kutless, and Skillet. Is it just me, or is there more freedom in the Christian rock genre because of less radio promotion?

Anyway, this is what happens when I get thinking...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Mama Said Knock You Out!

I went for it and bought a video game. So far I'm a 4-0 pro and moving up in the ranks! Nothing like a pastor gettting good at beating people up.

Anyway... off to practice my red belt form for Taekwondo class tomorrow :) But I have to get the nunchucks out of the car first...

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Whole Shower Album

I just found a pretty cool site that will make photo albums that you can load to a blog like this, but it doesn't have limits like Flickr does. So, as a way of testing, here is all the pictures from the wedding shower the church threw for us. Enjoy! I'm off to go see her this weekend!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Another New Hero

This week is turing into the week of finding true gutsy people out in the world. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a guy fight through physical pain and win a 25 minute martial arts fight. Today, I found out about a youth pastor like myself who got his local high school to let him come back for two weeks AS A STUDENT! I'm having a hard time figuring out who's tougher.

Scott Greene, from my old home state of Indiana, has checked himself into Warsaw Community High School as a sophomore. He's hanging out with students on their turf, doing homework, even taking PE.

I thought, "Could you do this, Daron." You know what... I really don't think so. :) Every time I go to eat lunch at the high school I get flashbacks of losing my lunch on the 8th grade English teacher. Or the laughs after playing a very controversial character in the spring play one year. 10 years after high school, I still remember those things.

Anyway, go check out www.twoweeksback and see what I mean.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

That which was lost...

One thing I really don't like is when I think I've lost something, only to find it in the most obvious place possible. That happened to me today when I found the DVD that had my engagement pictures on it. I thought it had been lost during the last round of house cleaning. Imagine the panic going through my heart right then.

Well, it's now back safe in the CD holder by my computer. So I decided I would share some. I'm really beginning to like putting photos with my blog. These were taken by a friend of ours at the Botanical Gardens in Fort Worth.

I Have Found The Man

There are a lot of people out in the world who claim to be tough. Ever since getting into martial arts two years ago, I love seeing people who have no idea how to fight. Well, I've heard the story of a man who absolutely knows how to fight, and wins the award for the "toughest man I've ever heard of."

Saturday night, Rich Franklin was defending his UFC Middleweight title against David Loiseau. Into the second round, Franklin starts shaking his hand. During the break, he tells his corner guy "My hand hurts a little." A LITTLE???? It required surgery! But wait, it gets better. The corner guy tells him "Don't worry about the pain." Now I've only broken one bone in my body one time. And I cried every night for a week! (Of course, I was 7) This guys goes out with a broken hand and immediately throws punches with it! You've got to be kidding me!

The fight goes 25 minutes, 15 of it with the broken hand. He also has a broken foot. Total domination! I thank God that he is a Christian man, because I would want nothing to do with him in a dark alley. I love the front of his website Psalm 144:1 - Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.

This puts a whole new meaning to me of Colossians 3:23

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wasn't I a Cute Little Thing?

What happened to my blond hair? That's what I want to know.

I have been going through a bunch of old pictures trying to get them together for my wedding. So I stopped to think about that. As I look at my now brown and even slightly graying hair, I look back on those simpler times and think, "Thank God I made it through my childhood!!"

Not saying that I wouldn't trade in office work and returning phone calls for Atari and legos, but I thank God for the person that I became 22 years after this picture was taken.

If you had told my parents that I would be living in Texas and working as a youth pastor, my parents, who know that this was only a smile to cover the mischeif I had probably done that day, would laugh at you. I was always trying to get into some kind of trouble.

You know what... I really hope my kids take after Melissa. :)

87 Days Away

Free Image Hosting at
87 days from now, that wonderful woman is going to be my wife!

Monday, March 06, 2006

It's Shower Time

Yesterday, the ladies of my church threw an absolutely incredible wedding shower for Meli and I. We weren't sure what to expect when we got there, but the ladies totally outdid themselves and really helped us out for when we get married. Mel had her car loaded down to where we could barely get her bags in, because of all the stuff.

It's hard to believe that we're finally in the season where people are beginning to throw us showers. I mean, a year ago, we were talking about how awful it was that we were waiting so long from the engagement day to get married. Now, it's so close.

People keep asking me if I'm ready for the wedding. Well, I'm not sure about that, but I know this...

I'm absolutely ready to be married to her. Anyways, here are some pictures.

Melissa's neice took a liking to that flower at once.

Opening the gifts

Check out the haul!

She made the skirt herself! Doesn't it look great?

I'm Back

TypePad was nice, but I've got to save every penny I can before my wedding :)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Thoughts from the Fajitas

This message was originally printed in my student newsletter in February.

So I'm at the local Mexican restaurant with my computer and I start thinking. Of course the first thing I realize is that trying to type while eating fajitas is not a good idea. So after five paper towels and a prayer over my keyboard later, I'm back and I'm still thinking.

In case you haven't ever been to a Mexican restaurant, or been living in a cave outside of Broaddus, you have experienced the most wonderful phenomenon when someone orders a fajita plate in a good restaurant...

the sizzling plate.

It calls to you. It says, "hey Bro. Daron, I'm here to fill you up and you are going to love me." It calls to me like when I drive past a Starbucks logo. The sound fills the room and lets everyone else know that a fajita has been ordered. Then you start hearing other people say, "mmmm, that smells good," and "I'll have one too."

Recently, on a TV show that I won't name on the grounds that it may incriminate me into loads of teasing from all of you, someone referred to a performance as being "All sizzle with no steak." Meaning that it had a lot of spice and difficult things, but the meat was not there.

What would have happened if today, I heard that wonderful sound as the waitress came to me, only to find nothing on the plate but sizzling onions?

Paul, the best-selling author of half of the New Testament, warned us about things like this. No, he wasn't a food critic, but he warned us about making a lot of noise in our lives but not acting like it.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

People all around me know who I am here in town. I am watched because I am a pastor and people expect certain things out of me. But that is how it should be with every Christian, not just those with three letters in front of their names. People will look to all of us to see what God looks like in our lives. If we say we are Christians but then live as if we weren't, we are like a sizzling plate with no fajitas. We need to show the love of God with the way we live each day (our steak), not just with our words (our sizzle).

P.S. Try the shrimp mmmmmmm -D

Beacon Article March 2006

Pastor Erwin McManus, from one of the largest churches in Los Angeles, tells a story of the first time somebody refused a gift that he had given. He was having a conversation with this man, and at the end of it, McManus offered the gentleman a copy of his latest book. The man looked at the book and asked "is this a Christian book?"

The tone in the man's voice was enough to make the point. Eventually, Pastor McManus realized that this man had been hurt in church as a child and wanted nothing to do with church. One line from McManus has stuck with me all week, "We have to work 10 times harder because of people who hurt people with their actions in and out of the church."

It's kind of like the guy at my college who would come by every Friday and start yelling at the students who were passing by that they were all (despite not knowing them) going to Hell. No doubt, some of them were, but because of his attitude and condescending words, I believe he may have sent many people there himself. One student who came to visit the college ministry I went to told me that he didn't want to be "like that guy [at the fountain]," and never came back.

Jesus spent most of his time on Earth challenging the religious customs and traditions of the day. If the commands of the rabbis got in the way of loving people, he always chose love. We have opportunities every day to do the same. There are people hurting all over San Augustine and the surrounding area. Many of them have been hurt by things or people in their past. Are we, as a church, willing to work the 10 times harder it will take to bring them to the unconditional, saving love of Christ?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Great Kind of Faith

I’ll bet you, there is one in almost every church in the nation. It’s that one person that everybody else stares at because they are very different than everyone else. As much as you try not to have a prejudice against it, you find yourself focusing on the differences instead of noticing the person. It’s the reason we take a second look when somebody handicapped rolls by in the wheelchair, or exaggerate lip movements when talking to a deaf person who can read lips just fine if you talk normal.

I have one of those people that amazes me more and more every Sunday morning. A brain injury left her physical body nearly shut down. It seems to talk all of her concentration to move her hand off the armrest just to greet me with the same smile I get every week that she feels well enough to be at church. Her mind is still working perfectly, but the body is not willing to go. Sort of a “my spirit is willing but the flesh is so weak” coming to life.

Yet last Sunday, as I was singing the hymn on the stage, I heard something coming from the front row. She can’t hold a hymnal, but when it’s a song she remembers, you can’t stop her from singing out. Sure the words were about a line behind where I was, but it was filled with such passion. It was true, uninhibited worship, despite the circumstances.

I have to admit, there are times where I don’t think that I would have that same kind of spirit about me. I think to myself, “How can I not feel like praising Him today?” I need to take a life lesson from a wonderful lady living in a long-term care facility.