Saturday, November 25, 2006


There are rare moments in the youth ministry world where one gets the opportunity, nay, the privilege of freaking out their students. The new look provided that moment.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Paul Revere

I love being a daddy. It seems like Izzy discovers something new everyday. Today's major discovery came because daddy was feeling old school. He threw some Beastie Boys on and sat back to watch the kid. For only being 18 months, she's got some tight moves. She didn't get into Van Morrison as much, I guess we'll have to educate (read: indoctrinate) her on that later.
Isabella is off to a good start at appreciating great music. Now if only we could say the same about mommy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


We celebrated my birthday Sunday and yesterday in what will be a day I store in the memory banks for the rest of my life. It wasn't so much what I got or even what we did that touched me so deeply. It was much more than that.
Our youth threw a surprise party for me during Sunday School that started the love fest for Mike. I know that Melissa and Hannah organized most of it but the love I felt from the kids was still sincere. I felt as though we were celebrating together as a family. We're not a perfect family but we are a family and much love was felt in that room toward one another.
Yesterday was family day. We walked, we played, we talked and we ate a LOT! All of it was done together and dinner even included more family through the Friar and Geeta. They have become family and we love them dearly.
I don't rejoice often enough at this family that being a member of the Kingdom of God provides for us. No matter where we go, we can join together, worshiping One God. That moves me.
We were able to video chat with my parents and talk over the phone to my sis and bro-in-law, all spreading that love that only a family can.
To make the day even more special, I have heard from a handful of former students that just wanted to spread the love. So much of our ministry in Minnesota was spent introducing students to the God of love that it was very special to be on the receiving end of that love through students.
And finally, the love that my wife demonstrates is simply other-worldly. I don't just love her, I admire the woman that she is. She demonstrates the love of Christ in such tangible ways that you can't help but want that kind of relationship. That's why so many are drawn to her. It's fun to see our daughter reflect that kind of love even at 18 months.
Thanks to all that have made this a very special birthday. Yep, I'm 29 and according to Daniel, that means I'm only young for another 364 days so I better enjoy it.


After two months of trying to decide whether or not to put windows on a mac, the guys at MediaShout convinced me. This weekend was the big adventure. It was surprisingly easy and well spelled out from the mac end. In fact, it was almost too easy. I still feel a little dirty knowing this computer has been infected with windows.
The positive side of this is knowing that we have a backup for MediaShout for the church and youth min. Logos Bible Study software is finally usable again!!!! And, I got to watch the 4th quarter of the OSU Mich. game on sunday morning.
Come Monday morning, as a reward for my windows installation, Windows took well over 3 hours to install 63 updates on my computer! Holy Cow! 63 updates! That seems a little excessive!!!!!!!!!
Alas, I guess we'll just have to live with it. Watching sportscenter last night made up for everything! Maybe all really is good in the world!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

not so divine revelations

There've been a few enlightening moments over the past couple of days:

1. A 65 inch plasma television does not fit in our building's elevator. I have to go ahead and ask, given the size of flats in our building, the 52 inch seemed too small?
2. Don't ever rely on an ambulance in case of an emergency. They're all sitting in traffic somewhere with the rest of us!
3. BonActive Tangerine Lime tastes neither all that limey or all that tangeriny
4. Took one hour and five minutes to travel less than three kms round trip today. All to make a stop that took thirty seconds
5. Steve Argue just won a trip to go to Greece with the Journal of Student Ministries!
6. My wife is the most disciplined health nut I know. Thanks for making me healthier and better!
7. Isabella has become an official toddler. She colored on our walls yesterday.
8. It's Autumn in Hong Kong. The temp dropped all the way down to 25 celsius. You American snobs will have to convert that :)
9. Hannah's going to Thailand on Monday. She deserves a break. She's been a great addition to our team. I hope she doesn't get lost.
10. I love what I do. It's hard at times but I wouldn't want to do anything else!
11. I think my feet have randomly grown. I have two pair of shoes that are now painfully small.
12. Our tv has been busted since I left for the states. I can't really say I've missed it, other than playing Tiger Woods Golf. (okay, so the Friar brought his projector over last night and we played a significant amount of baseball. I suspect there will be a rematch). Other than that, haven't missed it at all.
13. No matter how hard we try to order our lives, they are still just plain messy. I like it that way.
14. Isabella's favorite guard to our building just gave himself an English name. He's now Martin. I don't know how I feel about that.
15. I'm diggin' Vienna Teng this week. Thanks for the hookup Athania. So sorry to hear about your loss.
16. OSU vs. michigan--Sunday morning, 4AM. I'll be up!!!! GO BUCKS!!!!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Arrogant II

Continuing thoughts from the final session at YS this year: Marko commented how many youth workers write him saying they feel called to speak professionally and travel around. It made me sad that we can so easily get caught up in the glory of all things big.

It's not that I think these people are wrong or shouldn't want to share their gifts, I just wonder if aspiring to be big is as beneficial as aspiring to be fulfilled. Let me explain. I have no doubt there are many men and women that God has called into full time speaking careers. As a youth worker, I will be forever indebted to these people. But to the rest of us, I believe that we may be running from what God has put right in front of us. I think we've embraced the western attitude of keep climbing the ladder so fully that we easily look past the ministries God has given us. I have done that more times than I'd like to admit.

It's not the big moments or big crowds or special honors that I remember most fondly. It's those times when my boys in Nowthen would pop in just to hang out in our basement. It's those times when Luke in Alabama would call at 8:30 on a Saturday morning asking when I would pick him up to go hiking. You can't beat cramming 26 people into one very small flat just to eat and chill or the conversations with a kid that no one had time for but was desperate for hope and a Saviour, he just needed to be introduced.

These moments haven't been in within the framework of "big time" events, they've come within the context of ministry in my local church. Right where I'm supposed to be. And right where I think more of us should be thrilled to be. Instead of reaching higher for something bigger and better, I would love to sit down with other youth workers who can get excited about the challenges God has for them in their specific seeting. Maybe the church isn't treating us so well, maybe it's hard and the kids don't care and maybe that's exactly why He's placed us there. Maybe we'd be better off digging in our heels and asking God to move that mountain than seeking to live on some mountain top of glory.

I experienced some bigness the past couple of weeks. I've only been home 3 out of I think the past 15 days and that's plenty. I'm not cut out to be world famous. Though I was less than an hour and a half away from the wife and kid the past 3 days, it felt like an eterninty. Those camp kids were a blast. I am honored to have been asked to speak, I just don't know that it's who I want to be all the time.

I think I'm in a pretty great situation. I'm all the way across the world on a small peninsula just across from Mainland China. If I were to aspire to great speaking heights, there would be nowhere to go. It's great to be small and I'm happy to stay small.

I know Marko doesn't read this, but to him, I'd like to say, "I don't feel called to be a professional speaker or anything else particularly big." Thanks for the inspiration.


Monday, November 13, 2006


I'm off to Camp today with the 5th and 6th Graders from CAIS. I'm stoked to share with them what God has laid on my heart and also pretty nervous as I've not done much with students that young. It will be a great chance to get to know many of them and I can't wait to be in camp atmosphere again.
Please pray that this bronchitis I have won't act up. I only need a voice for 3 days, then it can go if need be. Even more, please pray for Melissa as she's with Isabella alone a little longer. Izzy's not been feeling well making her a little bit of handful.
On an amazing note, I got to talk with a young guy last night that wanted to follow Christ. This was a kid that no one thought would ever want to know God. I am amazed at how God works. I'm also so humbled that I get to be a little part of that.

That's all for now.

Friday, November 10, 2006


(R)evolve tonight (our Friday night youth gathering) focused on the concept of wisdom.
As we dug a little deeper into what it might look like in our lives, a great question was formed. Angela noted that most teenagers wouldn't be considered wise and she wondered why. The answers ranged from stupidity to hormones and lots in between. That's what was great about it. It became instantly personal because we were trying to work it out together.
I believe that teenagers have just as much potential for the demonstration of wisdom as adults do. I understand that their decision making abilities aren't fully developed yet and that they are still maturing but wisdom goes beyond these things. I fear that part of the reason teenagers choose not to act wisely, as our group suggested tonight, is that there is no expectation for them to act wisely. It's as if we have communicated to our teenagers that wisdom can only come with time. That is true, partially. But much of wisdom comes from the willingness to take a risk in making the hard choice. I think teens are better equipped for that than anyone. Everyday presents hard choices, many that are presented to them for the first time.
Maturity is a major component of wisdom, no doubt, it's just not the only one. I asked our group tonight what would happen if they really focused on living a life of wisdom. No one said much. That's okay. My prayer is that they won't say anything, they'll be too busy working it out in their lives.

It amazes me time and again how much I can learn from our students lives. They are working out their salvation...

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Thursday, November 09, 2006


Humility is hard. I honestly believe ministry makes it harder. Why? Because people look to me for answers. People act like they value my opinion and even better, they need me at times because I am a supposed spiritual leader.

The honest truth of the matter is that I’m just like the guy Marko described in the closing session of the Anaheim YS Convention. I’m an arrogant idiot (words changed to protect the innocent). I like being important. It’s good to be needed, especially in those times of crisis. And yep, my ego likes having influence.

Where one would think ministry should make this humility thing easier it doesn’t. Instead, it adds more stumbling blocks to the path. It’s not the calling or vocation’s fault at all. In fact, at the very heart of ministry is a call to die to myself so I can’t blame it on that. Instead, I think I struggle with humility because of how I approach my calling: with my head.

Again, it’s not the fault of my mind that I’m arrogant. It’s how I use it. I have observed that there are basically two types of people in ministry: those led by their heads and those led by their hearts. It’s rare to see those who demonstrate a balance of both or are willing to jump into the other pond. It’s somewhere in that balance and willingness to explore the “other” side that I think humility takes over the selfish world of our flesh.

I haven’t worked all this out yet so bear with me over the next few days or weeks. There is a connection between our approach to ministry and the size of our egos. That’s not in question. The question before me is if I’m willing to change not just how I think about ministry but also how I feel about it?

What if I was really willing to treat the people in our churches with the respect they deserve, or worse, don’t deserve? What if I was just as willing to step away from things as I was to accept them in the first place.

The more I work through this the more clearly I see that my ego and my brain guide a majority of my decisions. It helps me stay in control. We all know that it’s essential for a minister to be in control at all times, right? So how bad would it be to realize how un-controllable life can be?

I know I’m called to die to myself. That call came again and again throughout the week. I just like myself so much at times. Like I said, I’m an arrogant idiot but I’d like to think I’m on the road to becoming a recovering arrogant idiot.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

That blows!

All week I've been attempting to take copious (thx Skit Guys) or at least legible notes throughout the week. The plan was that as I process all that's gone on I could go back to the notes, add to them, etc. It was a good plan. I mean, I'll have a 17 hour day of travelling to think so notes would help. Not exactly rocket science for normal people.
Then, in all my air-headed glory, I leave my Moleskine notebook in the passenger seat of Lem's sweet '86 Corvette. Crap!
Therefore, my blogs over the next week that help work through what I took in at YS will be scattered at best. I think the moral of this story is that I shouldn't try to be profound. I'm not, so why try?


Sunday, November 05, 2006


There are seasons in life when the picture of life seems a little clearer. There are those times when you've run out of ways to avoid looking into the mirror or listening to God. Today was that type of day. It didn't happen all at once. In fact, what God's been doing in my heart has been brewing for too long with me trying to avoid it.
There is a lot I still have to work through in relation to the condition of my soul and how it relates to ministry and service I want to share the progression of thought throughout my day:
Morning session--Matthew Barnett speaks
"Die to the dream of being a success and live to the dream of being a blessing."
my thought: I care too much about success and what people think of me
Exhibit hall time--Media Shout booth
This doesn't relate to anything but i'm stoked about how well media shout works on a mac using bootcamp
Afternoon--The Prayer Room
spent awhile literally looking in the mirror and into God's word
He directed me to Luke 11:37-44--The NIV calls it the six woes--
It was hard to read what felt very much like a commentary on my own struggles especially in relation to pride. I want so much to think I'm better than the Pharisee s and that I really "get" the Gospel yet time and again I come face to face with the reality of how little I really demonstrate true justice and love of God.
This conversation with myself then added Lem, Chris and Dan and continued over dinner at a sweet Hawaiian restaraunt. Those three men have a lot of wisdom. They stretch me.
Evening Session--Mike Pilavahci
Four quotes that hit the heart:
"He's God and I'm not and for some reason He prefers it that way"
"When Christ addresses sin He always affirmed and loved the sinner"
"Jesus started where she (the woman at the well) was, not where He was"
"Our calling is to break down the walls of the church--to be a church without walls"

The Gospel of Justice can't be just a program or a prescripted service project. It has to be more...


Friday, November 03, 2006

Not quite deep thoughts

The Sunset Cliffs are great. I spent two more hours there this morning before heading up to Anaheim with Lem. The silence was truly golden.
The cliffs were the perfect place to reflect on the beginning chapters of Wright's Following Jesus. At one point Wright deals with the two main names Mathew uses to refer to Christ: Jesus, our Saviour/deliverer and Emmanuel, God with us. He brings out that Matthew "celebrates the coronation of the Saviour, the God-with-us King."
The life behind that statement is deeper than I'll ever fathom.

As of 7:30pm tonight, I am an official YS Convention attendee. Not only that, but a rookie. Thanks Chris and Dan for making sure everyone knew that :)
Some first impressions:
it's setup like most other conferences I've attended, only with a lot more energy.
it was fun to watch how different people interact with each other.
there is definitely a "cool" vibe throughout the exhibit area. (ps--i'm not sure i'm cool enough to be here--heck, after being in SoCal for two days, i'm not sure i'm cool enough to be in the state).
i saw erik williams, now the working with youth pastors in the Pacific Northwest District of the CMA. A LONG time ago he was my counselor at Delta Lake Bible Camp.
got sweet deals on a bunch of stuff. i love not having to pay for shipping! it makes me happy
jet lag makes it a bit harder to take everything in. i woke up too early this morning.
the coffee at the San Diego Christian College booth is darn good and has a great story behind it. Thanks Steve!
Lem knows a ton of people
the ys bags are pretty handy

i'm tired and too busy watching the colbert report. that's all for now.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

sunset cliffs

With YS starting up tomorrow, today was mainly about getting some chores done, hanging out with Lem, meeting some like minded ministry folks and spending a lot of time thinking about life. It's been good.
Three quick observations before I go to bed.

1. Wal Mart and Target totally rocked my world. I didn't know what to do with all the choices I had. I must have looked like the biggest dork in the world walking around with my eyes bugging. The weird thing is, I've only been gone a little over a year yet I felt so out of place. More on that throughout the week.

2. Chinese food in America is just not as good as Chinese food in China.

3. Lem sent me to a place called Sunset Cliffs for some time alone with God this afternoon. I'm not ready to say much yet, I'm still processing and hoping to spend a little more time there tomorrow before YS starts. I will say that it was one of those rare times in life that just felt deeply spiriitual. The feeling of being all alone just listening to the surft was surreal.

The week's off to a good start. I'm stoked to be here but am already a bit homesick. In all honesty, I'm not homesick as much as I just really miss my wife and kid. Maybe that's called homesickness. Who knows?




Melissa hosted a little gathering for other moms around our neighborhood on Tuesday. It was a great chance to connect with these moms and watch all their kids look cute. I can't say enough how proud I am of melissa. She is doing such a great job of living out the Gospel to these ladies in a way that is meaningful to them.
When I think about the concept of contextualization usually it's from a theoretical perspective like, how would we do this if? Melissa however is giving the Gospel a very real face as she loves others. That's my wife!!!!!

I can't write a post about dressing up our kid without a pic.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I've been in SoCal a total of 8 hours now and am on sensory overload. It was great to see Chris waiting for us as we walked into the arrivals hall. He even had a sign for us in Cantonese. It was awesome! Thanks Chris, you rock. He and Dan headed off to pick up Athania while Lem took me to the OC where he lives.

As I look ahead to the Convention that starts on Thursday, I do so cautiously. It would be easy for me to get caught up in all that's going on around me and forget to listen for the Lord. It would be easy to relax, get spiritually lazy and take nothing more than a few resources from this time. It would be easy to come here thinking I have experience, and don't have much to learn.

Instead, I sincerely plan on taking the not so easy road. The road that slows down and spends chunks of time alone with God tomorrow . Just because the conference doesn't start til Thursday doesn't mean I can't catch up with God sooner. I plan on finding some good resources for sure, but even more, I plan on learning how to use them more effectively. Most of all, I can't wait to learn from so many gifted men and women that have so much to give.

People have asked why I would come to Anaheim for a convention. That's the wrong question. The better question is how will being here transform not only me, but our ministry? That's the compelling question.

I came too far to just take the easy road.