I love the show sci-fi show Firefly. I got into it just this past year, after the hype had died down along with any hope that the show or its spaceship would ever return to the air.
I love the show’s main protagonist, Mal Reynolds. Mal is essentially a cowboy in space (it was a weird show). Mal has an understated, uncomplicated way of life which is a breath of fresh air in a genre usually characterized by either brain-cracking philosophy or brain-numbing special effects.
Does this look like a man who wants to ruminate? Continue reading →
Today’s post is from a guest writer, Mark Gray. I met Mark many years ago when he was a counselor at a camp I was speaking at. He has gone from a brash counselor to a wiser program director for this same camp’s teen program for at-risk teens (my heartbeat). I’ve been honored to have been along the way with Mark all these years.
I’m not sure what inspired Mark to write this but he sent it to me on a whim for me to read. I thought it was worthy of sharing with a bigger audience.
Truth is essential for us to know, understand, apply to life, and communicate to others. Christians, especially those involved in paid ministry, generally do a good job identifying basic truths about the gospel. We adequately unpack details and store them in our minds so, when the argument arises, we can be “ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us.” Continue reading →
When I see strip clubs, I think of math.
Bear with me. Once upon a time, there was this mathematician named Enrico Fermi. And he was was really good at estimates. He could estimate things with astonishing accuracy. He once estimated the number of piano tuners in New York City, based on his own estimates of how many pianos were in NYC, how many would get tuned, and how many tuners would be needed to service those pianos regularly.
Now, near my hometown, there is a highway surrounded by no fewer than three different, (ahem), gentleman’s establishments. The only one I can remember the name of is called Babylon, which I was tempted to call Babylon 5 before remembering that that’s the name of a sci-fi show from the 90s.
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WARNING: I was halfway through writing this when I realized that oh, this isn’t actually how flowers work. This isn’t actually scientifically correct at all. How did I pass first grade? Anyways, I understand that this isn’t correct. I just liked the idea too much to completely erase everything and start over with a new analogy. Try to overlook the problems and get my underlying meaning, okay? The truth is that I am trying my hand at inspirational writing again after a mind-numbing haze, and it’s really difficult. Really. I’ve spent a long time just staring into my computer screen wondering where to begin. I promise it’ll get better. I promise. Just bear with me until I get my brain back, alright? It may be awhile.
Inspiration is all around us. I like to imagine this inspiration as a field of flowers. Each of us as an adorable, fuzzy bumblebee flying next to our heads. The bumblebee pollinates are own personal field and no one else’s. The InspiraBee is ours. When a flower is pollinated, it begins to bloom. When it’s in full bloom, that’s when we get a brilliant idea. Sometimes the ideas bloom for a very long time. Sometimes they die off immediately. This is caused either by the lifespan of the flower, or our diligence in taking care of it. When we neglect to tend to an idea or cultivate it, it withers away. Sometimes it dies forever, sometimes the petals just fall off until it’s pollinated and restarts the entire process over again. So mostly, we have a fair amount of control over what we do with our inspiration flowers. Continue reading →
On November 25 I referenced the Sunday Assembly in a wonderful quote one of the founders gave about the value of church. After one year of existence, this “godless church” has experienced its first church split. No one can make this stuff up!
Sunday Assembly NYC has broken away and formed their own “denomination” called Godless Revival. According to Godless Revival founder Lee Moore, Sunday Assembly has a problem with atheism. “(Sunday Assembly founder Sanderson) Jones advised the NYC group to ‘boycott the word atheism’ and ‘not to have speakers from the atheist community.’ It also wanted the New York branch to host Assembly services in a churchlike setting, instead of the Manhattan dive bar where it was launched.
“Jones denies ordering the NYC chapter to do away with the word ‘atheism,’ but acknowledges telling the group ‘not to cater solely to atheists.’ He also said he advised them to leave the dive bar ‘where women wore bikinis,’ in favor of a more family-friendly venue.” Continue reading →
I am honored to know another long-termer in youth ministry who has been in it longer than me. What a good man, Brian Farmer of First Baptist of Salisbury, NC, is. January 9 is a special anniversary to him. On that date in 1978 two friends of his were murdered. In reflecting on that anniversary Brian wrote this to me:
(Part of a long email entitled “Another Reason Why Youth Ministry is Still Important to Me”)
“This past October (when the murderer was executed) I relived the events in my mind, with more detail than I wish I had remembered. As I did so, one thought continually kept coming to the forefront, ‘did anyone ever minister to a young John Ferguson?’
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From a report by MediaPost entitled “5 Trends for 2014 (And Beyond):
One trend is “Random is the New Funny:”
“Humor has always had a strong influence on teen consumers, but lately it’s taken on a whole new tone. While adults scratch their heads at the latest video from Ylvis, teens (and the rest of the youth population) are cracking up. Random humor has become mainstream and youth marketers are starting touse it to great effect, from Skittles’s long-running campaign to Kmart’s recent commercial puns to the Dodge Durango spots featuring Ron Burgundy. The tactic is key for youth marketers today; with teens’ media saturated lives, it takes random, unexpected humor to grab their attention. This trend gives marketers the freedom to try just about anything in their ads, which can be a blessing (when an idea works) and a curse (when a concept falls flat). As an added bonus for advertisers that take the risk and succeed, teens love to share random humor, helping to spread the marketing message.” Source.
So possibly that random youth ministry idea you have could speak to that targeted group of teens you’ve been praying and seeking God for. Continue reading →
At the start of every summer, I make a mental list of all the things I’m going to be during the next school year. I get this image of a perfect, confident, straight-A, beautiful, helpful young woman. Everytime. When September comes, I follow through with it–for a few weeks. Then school and/or life problems become too overwhelming, and I have to refocus my energy. By the end of the year, I look back and feel disappointed with myself and the girl I did not become. And so the cycle begins again.
But earlier this year, in June, I was determined to be that girl. I was going to do it! I was! So when September started, I hit the ground running. I kept running. The only way to succeed was, in my eyes, to set my expectations for myself unattainably high. So I never lived up to my own standards. As soon as I started coming close, I’d raise the bar just out of reach.
It crushed me.
I need something or someone to blame for my predicament, because I’m so sick of blaming myself. Because I don’t really believe in blaming other people, that rules out the someone. I’m going to blame perfectionism. But who brought on the perfectionism? I did. It was me. See? As soon as I try to find another reason, I realize that it really is my fault. Continue reading →
Here is a big welcome to 2014.
Tired of those Weight Watchers and Nutri-System commercials yet? I’m a Weight Watchers success story and I am.
Here’s a kick a wonderful idea for better health. Moscow city and Russian Olympic officials recently placed a vending machine in the entrance of a subway station that allowed commuters to perform 30 squats in exchange for free train rides. Riders had to complete the squat challenge in less than two minutes in order to receive the reward without taking any shortcuts, since the machine could detect cheating. The campaign, promoting the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, created community as passengers cheered on their fellow travelers. More importantly, it helped reduce people’s guilt for taking the metro instead of walking, and motivated them to incorporate fitness into their regular routines.
Watch the video here. It’s in Russian but there is no language barrier in this message.