Saturday, February 20, 2010

jungle junction

jane loves this show on this disney channel:

for several weeks, it was all that she talked about, and she tried her best to act it out and turn her toys into "wheelers" from jungle junction.

she got a big box of legos for Christmas, so I did my best to make wheelers for her out of legos. some looked alright, some were kind of a stretch-

but it was a fun thing to do together. we ended up making a few trips to the lego store to get more wheels and eyes for the wheelers.

every time I made one she jumped for joy and put it into action with the others. we even went to affordable treasures and got some palm trees to make a jungle for the wheelers to zoom around in. it was fun because jane was somewhat obsessed with jungle junction, and I became focused on making them, and we were sort of obsessed on the same thing for a while. we just fed each other's obsessions with our enthusiasm.

but sadly, jane's jungle junction phase is over. she has moved on to new things. she got a new playmat and needed cars to drive on it so the wheelers had to be dismantled. deanna suggested that I take a picture of my wheelers before I take them apart. what do you think?

being a dad is fun.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day

last Sunday, I went into “the green room” before the service to pray with the pastors, the singers, and all of the people working during the service. I saw my friend Luba in the green room- she was in there as a choir member. I always enjoy talking with Luba. I walked up to her and said, “Hi Luba! Happy Valentine’s Day!” she said, “yes- this is always a hard day for me- Valentine’s Day and my anniversary.” at that moment I remembered that Luba lost her husband of many years just recently.
I gave her a hug and said, “oh Luba- I’m so sorry…”
she said, “you know, I guess it shouldn’t bother me so much, but I just miss getting that little Valentine’s day card every February that says, “I love you.”
she had tears in her eyes.
I had tears in my eyes.
I said, “Luba! you’re breaking my heart right now!”
she said, “you know, my Alex had a knack for knowing when I wasn’t feeling right and he always knew just how to cheer me up- and he would tell me every day that I was beautiful.”
"He was such a good man.” I said.
she said, “I can’t complain- we have wonderful children who love me and love the Lord…”
and then she looked at me with those welled up eyes banged my chest and said,
“now you make sure that you cherish your family and tell them every day that you love them, because you never know when they will be gone!”
I’m sure that my pastor preached an awesome sermon on Sunday, but I doubt that I heard any of it. I just kept thinking of Luba and the pain of her Valentines’ Day. I tried to tell my friend and my wife about the conversation later on, but I just kept getting all emotional just telling the story.
after church I went to the grocery store to get a few things before I went home to lunch. The cashier looked at my things and said, “a little late for buying a Valentine’s Day card isn’t it?”
I said, “oh- this card isn’t for my wife-
this is for my friend Luba.”
tell the people that you love that you love them.
God is love.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

you are special.

we have been doing the r12 campaign at our church this month- each week, we focus on a different aspect of an r12 Christian. last week, we looked at the fact that an r12 Christian has a sober-self-assessment- or an honest understanding of their spiritual gifts and their weaknesses; they understand how God made them and what is true about them. the core verse is romans 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

I was talking with the middle school ministry last weekend and said something like, ”the point is to not think of yourself as a loser, and not think that you’re all that, just be honest with yourself.” a girl raised her hand in the front row and quietly asked,
“what if thinking that I’m a loser IS being honest with myself?”
time stopped.
God split the heavens and said to me, “you better get this right son.”
it was for this moment that God made me and called me into youth ministry.

time started again. I choked back tears and said:

“you’re not a loser. God has made you special. God loves you. God like to be with you. He calls Himself your Father- and He loves you like a father loves his daughter. You are important. God has a dream for your life that only you can accomplish- you are not a loser. that isn’t true. you are special. you are God’s workmanship- created in Christi Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for you to do.” and then I went on with my sermon.

this is why I am a youth pastor. to remind middle schoolers that they are loved, they are special, they are important.
you are loved. you are special. you are important. believe that.

God is love.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I was searching through my old blogs, looking for my chipper story, and I ran across this post from almost 3 years ago. I wrote it after an absolutely awful night in middle school ministry. looking back on that night, I can see that I had a message that I was really proud of; I had a game that I was sure was a winner; but I had very few adults there. also- I had a group of very rebellious middle school boys that seemed to run the show week in and week out.

I compare that night with what I experienced last night. last night I didn't speak at all. the game was pretty good, not legendary. and there was still a group of rebellious boys there; but last night was fabulous. the difference? an incredible team of volunteers. when the boys acted up, I asked one of the many male staff there to go and talk with them and they did- and the boys settled down. even though the game wasn't off the chart crazy, it was still super-fun because of the love and joy that was in the room. and instead of me speaking, each of those awesome small group leaders took a few students and listened to them, prayed with them, and taught them the Bible.

3 years ago I was ready to quit. I was sure that I had nothing to contribute to youth ministry. today- I'm looking forward to years and years of middle school ministry. my passion for this work has never been brighter. and it goes back to those amazing voluteers. tanya came to group, even though she had sharks tickets. I reminded john that he will be inducted into the small group leaders' hall of fame when he enters heaven. we had a brand new staffer come an hour early, just so she could be prepared. we had another brand new adult come out and ask to join the team. I could tell story after story- I'm sure that there were a thousand amazing things that happened that I dodn't even hear about. I walked the halls looking for some rebellious kids to put to work, but in every room I saw groups of students huddled around their leaders, having great conversations. God is good.

I needed to see things with new eyes- and I credit my friend justin for helping me to see the amazing value of having a large staff team. and I thank God for the gift that He has blessed me with in this wonderful group of leaders; and this incredible new paradigm for ministry. I often talk with other youth pastors and I hear them groan with the same tones that I did in that blog three years ago. and I tell them about the awesome team at 678. They never believe it when I tell them how many are on the team, and how skillfully they connect with kids. I really wish and pray that each of these leaders would be blessed like I have been.

so- the next time I think that I'm God's gift to youth ministry, and that I can do it all on my own, and that its all about me, I'll remember the night that we broke a broom off a kid's ankle and remember- that its not about me at all. its about WE.

God is love.