Monday, December 29, 2008

Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds


This might come as a shock to some people, but I'm not incredibly surprised.

"New research shows that, whether or not they wear purity rings or make other pledges that they will protect their virginity, more than half of American teenagers become sexually active before they get married."

Read the full article here

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

To all my Ohio Friends

I'll be coming home to see family and friends this Thursday Dec. 18 and will be sticking around until Saturday Dec. 27. If you'd like to get to get together and hang out, just drop me an email, text message, or call me. My contact info is on my Facebook page or you can message me here too :)

I can't wait to see some snow!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another year older and knowing less

It was my birthday yesterday. For the most part it was a rather uneventful and restful day for me. A few of my youth took me out to Panera for a birthday lunch which was nice (although, technically, I "took" them since I drove).

As I find myself sitting here today reflecting on my new-found age, I'm taken aback not by my accomplishments or how far I've come, but rather now much uncertainty there is in my life and how much I really don't know. I guess when you're young and your head is full of dreams, it can be easy to be sure of yourself, to know where you want to go and go for it. As I'm getting older, I'm realizing that in fact, I don't know all that much. Even in ministry, I feel like I'm just making it up as I go along sometimes - I have so much growing to do!

I guess where I find myself is in a place where I'm constantly reminded how small I really am in the grand scheme of things. There are still so many great opportunities out there, people to meet, adventures to live, jokes to laugh at - and here I find myself at 28. A little older. A little wiser. But still lost in the grand scope of my life.

I don't have all the answers. I don't even know all the questions. What I'm finding that as I continue on my journey to know God and serve Him with my life, that I am truly lost in His hands. There is so much I can't do without God's help. Perhaps I can do nothing without Christ, and maybe - just maybe - I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

These Frail Hands

In this broken place where I was born
It seems there is no peace,
And the very soil that we walk upon
Is filled with tears that never cease,
And you can trace the scars of hopelessness
Like sweat upon the backs
Of all the outcast downtrodden,
Water slipped through cracks

Hold on,
Hold tight

And I am overwhelmed with grief,
to see such suffering,
For those who lack the voice to speak
For those of us left stuttering

May this not prevail,
Dear Lord, your love will never fail

And these frail hands,
They tremble as they pen perhaps their last
And these weak words,
Can never say what cannot be surpassed

When the concrete of the world
Becomes too cumbersome to lift,
And the cataracts of fear and doubt
Cloak truth beyond what we can sift
And darkness, darkness bleeds its way,
When crippling anguish clouds our sight,
The ghosts of dusk have bared their teeth,
Set their claws to bring the night

Hold on,
Hold tight

Darkness can’t perceive the light,
though lightlessness has chilled us numb,
And though its wings may cloud the skies,
The dark shall never overcome

Light of the world,
Your love, has never failed

And these frail hands,
They tremble as they pen perhaps their last
And these weak words,
Can never say what cannot be surpassed

I need your love,
And most of all I want to feel your peace,
I need your love,
Let everything that you are not decrease,

(Your love,
Your mercy,
Your light unending.
Your hope,
Your peace,
Your strength my heart is mending.)

(Daylight,
Save me)

Lyrics by Reese Roper
Brave Saint Saturn - Anti-Meridian

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A brief rant about Christian book stores

I was at a local Christian bookstore today and was rather perplexed/put aback by a sign that was placed under the new book by Rob Bell - "Jesus Wants to Save Christians." The label reads:
"This book may contain thoughts, ideas, or concepts that could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology..."
I am all about using discernment when I'm reading a book - even the bible. The thing that got me a bit worked up was the fact that this sign was only applied to 2 books that I could find in the store. Are we supposed to blindly believe all that is written in the other thousands of books there and only use our discernment on these books? What's the deal? While I'm please that Lifeway would carry a book that is controversial and that they might not fully agree with, this specific labeling as "dangerous" is not only bad marketing, but insulting to me as a customer.

What do you think? (your opinion of the author/book aside)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New layout

Well, I warned you I was going to do it, now it's done.  I have a new layout.  Let me know what you think.  Can't take all the credit though, I got the layout off another site and tweaked it for myself :)

Reese Roper on the Christian Music Industry

Do you have an opinion on the Christian market today?
"Yeah, it would be to say that it is just as insular and backstabbing as it ever was, but somehow more appealing. There are a few bands out there that do a great job at spreading the love of Christ to the world (Switchfoot, you guys know I love you!), a few more who equip and encourage the church, and a great mass of musical hatchet-jobs that could never survive anywhere else but for the appeal of the forgiving and under-schooled ears of the Western Church. They only exist to add padding to our already comfortable church pews. Sadly, I have been each of these things, so if I am pointing fingers at anyone, it is myself. I know that “whether for good motives or bad, what matters is that Christ is preached”, and most of us have amazingly good motives; we just suffer from horrible nearsightedness and can never quite get past the safety of the Church. I wish it were different from 10 years ago, but it’s the same, only bigger and with more money to waste"

- Reese Roper, Five Years After Five Iron, RelevantMagizine.com


Read the full article on Relevantmagazine.com

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blog, you are on notice!

It's been a great run, this little blog template and me.  We've laughed, we've cried, we've spent many hours trying to get you to look "just right."  But I think it would be in the best interest of both of us to stop seeing each other - really it's for the best. 

As soon as I get a spare chunk of time and some creative inspiration, I'll be updating the "look" of this blog.  Hopefully, the new investment will encourage me to become more regular in my blogging once again.  We will see.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Incredible new music

I'm a bit of a music junkie so I wanted to pass along what music is currently rocking my world, first up:



Any of you who know me know that Five Iron Frenzy is/was my favorite band. Several members of the band formed a side project, Brave Saint Saturn and they just released their 3rd (last) album. It's epic! It's not out on iTunes quite yet, but you can order it from their website.

Other great new music:


House of Heroes has a brand spankin' new album: "The End Is Not the End" that is one of the best new albums I've heard this year. Their style is indie/alt rock. The album is a concept album that is loosely set in World War II/Cold War times. You must check this album out, you can pick it up on iTunes or amazon MP3 store (I would suggest the later, you get higher quality files that aren't locked like the iTunes tracks).


I discovered Jimmy Needham through a few of the teens in my youth minstry and I instantly loved his sound. He has a fresh blend of honest lyrical writing and great soulful music style. His new album, "Not Without Love" is better than his first, which is saying a lot.

Next up, Edison Glass - "Time is Fiction." I had wanted to pick up their first album, but never got around to it. After reading some great reviews I made the leap and picked up this gem. Great writing and stellar music make this album a must buy for alt-rock fans.

Those are my most recent purchases, but I wanted to point out some other great new albums:

Jars of Clay - Closer EP
The Khrusty Brothers - Jonas is Back
Waterdeep - Heart Attack Time Machine
Sixpence None the Richer - My Dear Machine EP

(those last 3 can be downloaded for FREE from NoiseTrade.com)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A great online poll & form creator

I just found a great way to create easy to manage and access forms and polls using Google Docs. If you're not familiar with Docs, check it out at http://docs.google.com

If you are familiar with Google Docs, then go to the main page and select New >> Form from the drop down menu and then get started building your form or survey. It's really easy to work with and you can have everything from required date fields (like name, address, etc.) to multiple choice check-boxes and select from list kind of questions.

When you're done, you can email the form to your Gmail contacts, or link to an online version of the form through a website, blog or email. Where does the info go? Into a Google Docs spreadsheet where it can be exported and opened in Excell if you want. There is even an experimental response summary that displays little graphs of your results.

As a youth pastor, I used this Form Creator to make an online poll for my teens and I'm loving it. Try it out and let me know how it compares to other services like Surveymonkey.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Make Firefox use Gmail for mailto links

I love Firefox, it makes me happy.  Every once in a while I come up with an idea of something that would make my browsing life easier and most of the time, some brilliant person has figured out some way to make Firefox do it.

Ever click on an email link only to have your email opened in Window's mail?  If so, this trick is for you.  Let me direct you to this cool lifehacker article:

http://lifehacker.com/392287/set-firefox-3-to-launch-gmail-for-mailto-links

Once you set everything up, click on a link and then set gmail as your default mailto program.  Just remember to "middle click" these mailto links because they will open in the same window as the link.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

For those Christian leaders who come off as jerks

I've heard a lot of very well meaning Christian leaders in the name of being honest and straight forward virtually explain away the fact that a lot of times, they come across as arrogant jerks.

I agree that we should share the truth in love... the thing is, I think we have a low view of what love is. While I'm a full advocate of "tough love," what I have been reading recently in the scriptures seems to clearly define what love is (and isn't)
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If 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. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

So when we share the "truth in love" - are we being patient, kind, not rude, not angry, to protect others, etc. I know that for me personally, loving others no matter what is probably the hardest thing about being a follower of Jesus Christ. To love unconditionally in a way that is civil, kind, and considerate of not just my agenda, but God's love and work in the lives of others as well.

So what do you think? How do we speak the truth in love without coming off as jerks?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Extravagant Worship

I sure hope you had a chance to catch a glimpse of the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in Beijing.  Never have I ever seen artistic expression on a scale so massive as I have seen during the ceremony.  It got me thinking...

Will our worship of God be as extravagant as this opening ceremony?  It was apparent that hundreds of thousands of hours of time and millions of dollars were put in the preparation for this opening ceremony.  I wonder, if a ceremony on a world scale is worth that effort, what does our God deserve? 

I sure hope that though this ceremony, we merely caught a glimpse of what it will be like as the host of heaven and the saints of all time unite in extravagent worship to our Creator, sustainer, and eternal Father.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm on my way to Ohio....

I'm on my way to Ohio. I'm spending this week with my family and friends. I'm looking forward to the time off. Hopefully, it will be a refreshing time for me. And I'm going to Cedar Point as well, so that is exciting, and I'm really looking forward to it. listen

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Noisetrade.com



I found this amazing new site that lets you download free music and all you have to do is tell your friends! Basically a bunch of music artists got together and are offering their music for free if only you will help them promote themselves.



You can also choose to pay for the albums if you want.Some bands you might have heard of that are selling albums on the website are Derek Webb, Waterdeep and Sixpence None the Richer.



There's a lot of indie and folk music there as well.Check it out https://www.noisetrade.com

Friday, June 27, 2008

Urge to merge

Well, back in 2006, I switched to the new version of blogger and my old (more frequently posted on) blog was deserted. Well today blogger finally is allowing me to import my old blog. So for your viewing pleasure, you can now view my blog posts all the way from 2005. Wow, have I been blogging that long?

If you would like to import or export a blogger blog, visit draft.blogger.com and try it out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Out of the silence...

I admit it, I'm a bad blogger. Most of the time, I don't feel like I have anything new or worthwhile to talk about, so I don't. My life isn't too terribly interesting so posts are few and far between.

I was reading an article by Francis Chan recently about remembering God's goodness in our lives when it hit me - I'm not very reverent about God. This is a big thing to say for someone who is a pastor of a student ministry, but as I begin to think about it, I often make God out to be a really good person instead of, well - God.

I think often in our quest to get to know the eternal creator, we use very human terms and expressions to talk about God. This is helpful, because God is sometimes to get our minds around. But when we use human phrases and imagine what God is like, we sometimes assume that we have a fairly accurate picture of who God is. It's like going to the beach, playing in a tide pool and afterward saying you understand the ocean.

I make this mistake way too much when it comes to Jesus. I think it's because Jesus is a lot easier to get my mind around, He's God in the flesh: tangible, understandable, touchable. All around us, pop culture has it's jokes and views of who Jesus is. Just look at our comedy programs and routines, there are tons of humor at the expense of Jesus. Sure, most of it doesn't directly demean His name, but the subtle messages are there.

I want to know God in his fullness, to understand my creator though an un-filtered lens. This might ultimately be impossible in this world, but it's still worth striving for.

How about you? Do you find yourself trying better understand God/Jesus/Holy Spirit though common humor or human ideas and concepts? What can we do to better honor the true nature and name of God?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Get Firefox 3

The brand spankin' new Firefox 3 Browser has released today. I've been using it for a few months now on the beta builds and I must say, it is the best web browser I have every used. Today, Firefox is trying to create a world record for most files downloaded in one day, so download FF3 today!

www.getfirefox.com

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Back from Camp

I just got back from our District Teen Summer camp and boy, it was a great week! My friend Marko came down from Nyack to help us with video and he brought with him a nice school camera. Here are some of our highlights and videos from the week.

Highlight videos from the week:









And here are the other videos we showed:











Friday, May 30, 2008

My strength this next week:

"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty"

Zechariah 4:6

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Lark Ascending - (excerpt)

Taken from a poem by George Meredith (1828–1909).

HE rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,

For singing till his heaven fills,
’T is love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup,
And he the wine which overflows
To lift us with him as he goes:

Till lost on his aƫrial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Are we too pessimistic?


I was just watching one of those disaster shows on the History Channel. You know, those shows that focus on how the dinosaurs might have been wiped out and then shows how our planet might be obliterated by a comet, earthquake, hurricane, or super volcano eruption? It got me thinking -why does the modern world seem to have a fascination with our destruction? It seems like we have become incredibly pessimistic and cynical as people.

Sure there have always been stories of humanity's destruction. From biblical accounts of floods, plagues, and apocalyptic visions to ancient Greek mythology it seems there has been some history of this talk of pending destruction.

I just finished a great book called Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die. In this book, the authors David Crowder and Mike Hogan talk about how culture thinks of death and they explore the history of the soul. Reading this book I came to realize... we're afraid of death. Could it be that humanity has an acute sense of our own mortality and that causes much of the pessimism and focusing on how we might be destoyed?

In many ways, our planet is suffering from incredible brokenness: Wars, disease, famine, natural disasters, cultural shifts, the destruction or erroding of family systems. We can feel the destruction... the despair. It rocks us to the core. As we (maybe subconciously) consider our impending death, it causes us to express this dispair in various different forms: pessimism, depression, sarcasm, cynicism, selfishness, hedonism.

How has this pessimistic culture affected me? I'm noticing as I get older (and wiser?) that I have become increcingly a more cynical and sarcastic person. The weight of our world - the despair and harsh realities are stripping away my joy little by little. How do I avoid slipping down this dark path?

I think that it just shows our need for a redeemer. A God that can pull us out of the mud and mire and breathe life into our hearts and lives. If this death and pessimism is at it's root all about dying, then becoming more hopeful and joyful must come from embrasing eternal life. Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Summer Movie Season is Upon Us

I'm looking forward to many of the summer movies this time around and one of those is the new Narnia movie: Prince Caspian. At the Switchfoot concert I went to recently, they played a new song they wrote for the movie and they just finished a music video for it, check it out:

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I just got back from...

I just got back from seeing Iron man tonight. It was completely and utterly amazing. If you saw the movie, go ahead and post your comments below and let me know what you think. listen

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Life Update

So here are a few little tidbits from what's happening in my world:

Things have been going well, I had a good weekend. Last night I went to a Switchfoot Concert with some good friends, Paul and Lynn. The concert was probably the best Switchfoot concert I've seen. They played quite a bit of their older stuff (probably because they don't have their Sony record label breathing down their necks). I was very happy that I got to hear their new song they wrote for the Narnia: Prince Caspian soundrack, it's very good (you can find it on youtube if you look hard enough). Jon Foreman also played one of his new songs off his new EP's - rocked my world.


After the concert, we ate dinner at Waffle House (greasy but satisfying). We got in a great conversation with our waiter and had an opportunity to witness to him. It was so cool to be used by God in what was obviously a divine appointment. This is ceartainly my style of evangelism - casual, relational, spirit-led. Paul and Lynn told me that they go to Waffle House frequently because of the kind of people they meet there and often they have a chance to share their stories and faith with customers/employees.

How about you? What's your favorite method to share your faith? Do you even have a favore method?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I am sending this message...

I am sending this message from a new service called Jott. Jott allows you to call a number with your cellphone and speak a message and it automatically sends it to your blog, your e-mail or any other one of many different services. listen

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Twitter

I've decided to try out a new mini-blogging platform called Twitter. It's basically text messaging combined with blogging. Sometimes I just don't feel up to posting long-winded blogs, Twitter allows me to make short pithy updates through out the day. I put a widget here on my blog as well as my Facebook if you'd like to keep up with me. If you're on twitter already, you can follow me at http://twitter.com/erikpasco

Monday, April 07, 2008

I just had to share this

I love improv comedy. I have done my fair share of acting (and miming). Sometimes I wish I could be apart of Improv Everywhere. If you've never heard of them, check this out. This is their newest "mission." They went to a little league baseball game and turned it into a major league event - complete with announcers, a jumbo-tron screen, and the Goodyear blimp!



Check out the whole story here: http://improveverywhere.com/2008/04/07/best-game-ever/

Friday, March 28, 2008

A victim treats his mugger right

I saw this story on digg.com today:
Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'"

It doesn't say anywhere in the story if this man was a Christian or not, but Matthew 5:39-41 says:

"But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."

Those of you who read this blog and are Christians, what do you think? Should we take this passage literally? What would this world be like if everyone acted as this man did?

You can read the whole story here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89164759

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Resurrection Day

I hope today is a day full of joy, family and friends. Let's remember the incredible victory we have over death through our Lord Jesus Christ and his resurrection. The tomb is empty, he has risen!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday, songs with questionable theology and random stuff

Tonight my church, like many is holding a Good Friday service. This past Wednesday, our student ministry spent the whole evening reflecting on the events of Jesus' last week through a worship service. It got me thinking, it's hard sometimes to come back to the cross and reflect. It's not a great feeling to be honest with yourself and admit that you're part of the problem, part of the reason why Jesus had to be brutally crucified. Sometimes worshiping in spirit and in truth is merely choosing to worship when you don't feel like it.

Speaking of worship, we did a song Wednesday that I always am a bit "ify" about: "Above All." This song has a great melody, and some spectacular lyrics about the cross...but one word seems to always throw me off. The line is "you thought of me above all." At first glance, it's a great sentimental statement - that Jesus would think of us when he was sacrificing himself on the cross. However, if we take this lyric at face value, we run into the problem of making God out to be some warm-fuzzy person who puts us at the center of his universe. This isn't scriptural. I've come to the conclusion (after reading the songwriters comments on the song), that the intention wasn't to make the lyric "me" centered, but to highlight God's tender love for us and show that if we were the only ones on earth, Jesus would have still died for us - God loves us that much, he cares about us above all creation. So yeah, it's a bit of a metaphorical stretch, but hey- if you have too many problems with it, don't sing it ;)

Finally, if you visit this blog directly (instead through a feed reader), you might have noticed I moved my "Recent Favorite Blog Posts I'm Reading" section to the top of the page. I don't post everyday, but I do share my favorite Google Reader items just about every day. So if it's new stuff to read you're looking for, it makes it easier to find on my blog. Do you like it up at the top like that, or should I move it back to the side? Or do you not care?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Puter

Well, I took the plunge. My old desktop at home was nearing the end of it's lifespan - nearly 6 years old (that's like 70 in computer years). I built my old desktop back in 2002 at college and I decided that I'd once again build a Frankenstein creation.

So my new computer is here, and I'm getting used to *shivers* Window's Vista. So far, it hasn't been nearly as bad as I've heard about it. Aside from a few minor hiccups, it runs way better than my old XP system.

We'll see how it goes... it's not a Mac, but it's still pretty and nice. We'll see if it wow's me.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Reaching the Emerging Generation - w/ Dr. Ron Walborn

I just found this really great video through Shane's blog (thanks Shane, you're my blogging hero). It's pretty long, but worth the watch - especially if you are somehow involved with ministry to people 20-40 yrs old or would like to be more effective in your ministry to these ages.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Spring is almost here

It just snowed this morning here in Alabama which makes it hard to believe that spring is just around the corner. I can't help but think about hope as I see the buds on the trees and the flowers starting to bloom. I've had quite a rough winter and I'm looking forward to changes and new opportunities this year. Hope sure is hard to muster sometimes, like a sprout struggling to make it in the early spring.

What's your favorite part of spring? I've shared mine (hope), what's yours?

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Hermeneutics Quiz

I just took a quiz on how I interpret the bible... fascinating the questions asked. It a Hermeneutics quiz created by Scot McKnight for Leadership Magazine. You can take the quiz online here

I scored a 53 which (barely) puts me in the "moderate" category of interpretation. Take the quiz and post your score in the comments section here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bands I've seen live

I got this idea from Shane Bertou. Here's a list of every band that I can remember seeing live. I've been to many music festivals so it makes it hard to remember everything I'm sure I've missed a lot, but here goes:

All Together Separate*
Anberlin
Andy Hunter
Audio Adrenalin*
The Benjamin Gate
Bleach*
Brave Saint Saturn
Buck Enterprises*
Caedmon's Call
Celestial Static
Cool Hand Luke*
David Crowder Band*
DC Talk
Delirious?
Denison Mars
Derek Webb*
Dogwood
Eisley*
Element 101
Everyday Sunday
Five Iron Frenzy*
Fono
Geoff Moore & The Distance
Ghoti Hook
Grits
Hangnail
Hawk Nelson
Holland*
The Insyderz*
Jars of Clay*
Jeremy Camp
John Reuben
The Juliana Theory
Kutless*
Last Tuesday
Mae*
Mamma Grace*
The Micah Tawlks Band*
Million Time Winner
Mute Math*
MXPX
Newsboys*
The O.C. Supertones*
P.O.D.
Pax 217
Pedro the Lion
Philmore
Pillar
Project 86
Rebecca St. James
Relient K*
Roper
Sanctus Real
Sara Groves*
Sixpence None the Richer
Skillet
Sleeping at Last
Slick Shoes
Stavesacre
Steven Curtis Chapman
Superchic[k]
Switchfoot*
Testpilot*
Third Day
Thousand Foot Krutch
TobyMac
Unwed Sailor

* I put a star next to the stand alone concerts I've been to - either the band was headlining or they were one of 3 max.

My favorite concert of all time have to be the Skillet concert at Cornerstone (2003?) where they couldn't play main stage and we were all crammed in to a small tent. It was both crazy and amazing. Skillet tore the roof of weaving worship songs into their regular music.

Close seconds are Mute Math in Birmingham, and the last Five Iron concert I went to.

Bands I would like to see live:

U2
The Rocket Summer
Jon Foreman
Leeland
Shawn McDonald
The Robbie Seay Band
Falling Up

Monday, February 25, 2008

Congratulations to My Contest Winner!

Congratulations are due to Nicholas Williams from Lithia, FL. He was the furthest person (932 miles) from Cincinnati to post a comment. Sorry Corey (727 miles), you almost had it. Go ahead Nick and contact me and I'll get your prize in the mail.

NYWC Day 3-4, Final Report

Well, it's been a great weekend. I'm very appreciative for the time off and very, very appreciative to all the workers and directors of the National Youth Workers Conference. Everyone was helpful, friendly, and encouraging. I'll end my final post with some quick, pithy bullet points and then a few more pictures:

Sunday - was my "my church payed for this conference so darn-it, I'm going to run my self ragged and try to take in anything/everything all at once" day.
  • Rick Lawrance rocked our socks off with a message on "Improv" complete with a great contemplative picture exercise. Each day, Rick has challenged us to practice "play" with God and every single time, God has spoken to me through the exercises.
  • Marv Penner blew me away with the "Helping Kids Whose Hurts Are Deep" session of the Counseling Youth 101 track. We talked about unchallenged assumptions and how they can lead to a cycle of brokenness. If you were at the conference, you will want to purchase this audio as well as the next session on self-injury and give it to all of your youth leaders.
  • My worship affinity group was amazing.
  • My brain officially reached meltdown while attending Dan Webster's seminar on "Learning to Lead From Quiet." It wasn't what I was hoping for, but it was still good.
  • For dinner, I joined with other youth pastors/workers from my denomination: the Christian and Missionary Alliance to honor our retiring denominational youth director Kent Julian. Kent did a terrific job at directing our Alliance Youth and has prepared the denomination well to minister to our teens in culturally relevant ways. Kent is one of those guys with his finger on the pulse of youth culture. We will miss his hard work and inspiring vision (as well as his shiny bald head).
  • Greg Stier challenged us to have...er... "Challenging Conversations." I loved 90% of what Greg had to share, he's definitely an evangelist at heart. The reality show clip he showed was very interesting. I just hope that in our passion to share the good news through challenging conversations that us Christians stop acting like jerks about it.
  • Kutless rocked hard...very hard. I got to jump up and down like an idiot. It was great. I wasn't the only one.

Monday Morning - Last day... *tear*

This picture was created outside of the meeting hall over the duration of the conference

  • I pushed myself so hard Sunday, I decided to sleep in, pack, and check out during the morning seminar time. I was really looking forward to attending Kent Julian's seminar, but I didn't have enough time to do everything I guess.
  • The closing worship session was the best time of worship (besides Kutless) all conference long. We watched a clip about Craig DeMartino - a professional climber who has an amazing story of pain and redemption. Our exercise in "play" involved exploring the challenges that lay before us. God rocked my socks off once again.
  • I got to stop at Chipotle on the way home :)

For those of you from Birmingham, you may not have been introduced to the slice of Heaven that is Chipotle... well here's what it looks like


Sunday, February 24, 2008

So...tired...my head asplode

Ok, I admit it! I'm a conference junkie. I love to take in new information and meet new people. Today, I feel like I was drinking from a fire hose. I don't have the energy tonight to post a full update about today. I really do need to learn to pace myself at these events.

Josh, if you're reading this - try and plan some intentional breaks/downtime into the schedule next year. Even an extra hour once a day would be a great help. With the sessions, seminars, affinity groups and meals I run and don't stop. I could take an afternoon off... but I have an information eating disorder... I need help :)

One thing I do want to post while it is still fresh is an idea I had this evening. Everyone knows how encouraging Doug Fields is to youth pastors. I was thinking, we should get a Doug Fields pull string doll to keep close to the desk of youth workers. That way, when we're feeling down and out as youth workers, we just give doll-Doug a good yank and he spouts out some encouraging line. This could catch on ;)

Don't forget my contest for the comment from the furthest away. You'll win a suite of powerpoint crowd games from SimplyYouthMinistry.com. I'll close the contest out Monday at 12pm. So far, I only have one comment so you still have a great chance to win.

More pics to come

Kutless concert

Saturday, February 23, 2008

NYWC Day 2 in Pictures

the crowds




My college professor and seminar speaker Len Kaegler making a funny pose... looks like Zoolander



A shot of the Jeremy Riddle concert

Blogging NYWC Day 2

Wow... it's been a really long day. Every time I go to a conference like this I always push so hard the first day that by the second day, I'm exauhsted and unable to fully enjoy myself by day's end.

Here's a quick overview of my day and some info gleaned from the seminars/meetings

Saturday Morning 9am, Rick Lawrence
  • Jesus delights in our faith...He delights in us!
  • Faith is the substance of play
10:30am - Secrets to a Healthy Youth Ministry - "the Anatomy of Stuckness"
  • When youth ministry centers on one person, it gets stuck
  • stupid ideas with enthusiasm work pretty well
  • most churches are foiled by their successes...not failure
The Crisis of Capacity: 5 normals to shoot for in youth ministry
  • $1,000 a kid - salary, budgets... invest for growth (how many students you want to have). My church does this very well for our size.
  • 1 to 50 ratio - Paid staff to students - so far, so good
  • The 10% Rule - Average student ministry should be around 10% of the total church congregation. We have at 21% ratio at Brewster Road.
  • You can increase average percentage from 10%-20% by increasing investment and staff. Our seminar leader, Mark said that percentages above 20% are not sustainable on average...hmmm....
  • The 1 to 5 Ratio - One leader for 5 students should be the norm. We need 3 additional volunteers to make this ratio in our student ministry.
Saturday 3:00pm - Secrets to a Healthy Youth Ministry - "The 411 of Sustainable Youth Ministry"
  • To sustain a student ministry we need architecture (structure) and alchemy (climate, culture)
  • It is more effective to focus on the climate (alchemy) first before building structure (architecture).
  • Trust the process... takes time to create a healthy climate
  • Embrace positive stories and metaphors
  • Deliver results
  • Develop meaningful rituals and traditions
Saturday 7:00pm, Doug Fields
  • Faith Blockers - Things that keep us from ministering with full effectiveness: Fear, being too occupied, being uncomfortable. I tend to struggle with being uncomfortable for some reason. For all the extroverted things I do, I'm still an introvert at heart. It's a constant challenge for me to push beyond my comfort zone.

My friends are wierd

Marko and me waiting for the evening session

Contest for Youth Workers

Josh Griffin from SimplyYouthMinistry.com gave me a Power Play Volume I to give away on my blog through a contest of some sort.

After almost no thinking about it, I have decided to award the prize to the youth worker/ youth pastor who lives the furthest from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leave your name, where you church is, and what your youth ministry's favorite game/activity is (the last one's optional, but I'm curious) in the comment section below to enter the contest. On Monday, I will award the furthest Youth Worker their prize.

Make sure that your email address is included either through your comment registration or your comment so I can let you know if you win.

Happy commenting!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Blogging NYWC Day 1

Well, day one of the National Youth Workers Conference is over. It's been a long day full of all kinds of fun and stimulating activities... so much so that I am sitting here trying to detox in silence (yes, Erik time).

Let me run you through my day briefly.

10am - I went out to dig my car out of winter's icy grip. I had a nice layer of ice all over it from the storm last night.

11am - Had lunch at Bob Evans - great food. For those down South, Bob Evans is the Cracker Barrel of Northern food.

12pm - Circled the city of Cincinnati trying to look for my hotel. Then circled my hotel looking for a good (cheap) parking spot. I sure hope I can remember where I left my car on Monday.

1:30pm - Meandered my way to the convention center to scope things out and register. The NYWC staff people were helpful, sarcastic, and made me smile.
There is a sweet car show going on downstairs in the Convention Center

2:30pm - Went to a seminar with Rick Lawrence. We talked about what it would be like to have a Jesus centered youth ministry. Here are a few notes I scribbled down:
  • check out the "impossible quiz" - google it.
  • "Being Christ-like" what do we mean when we say this phrase? We are not Jesus, nor will we ever be close to being Jesus. We need to follow Jesus not try to be like what we think he is like. What Would Jesus Do is a cool mantra, but we project all our presuppositions about what Jesus would do instead of getting to know Him.
  • "Listen to your life"
4:00pm - Met up with Marko then I wandered around looking for the worship leader Affinity Group (small group). They were well hidden, but I discovered them. I felt way under talented for this group but the combination between cool personalities and potential for me to learn a thing or two will keep me going with this group for the weekend.

6:00pm - Had 2 Skyline Chili cony dogs w/ hot sauce. Very good-not good for me. I'm still looking to have some "Cincinnati chili" before I go.

7:00pm - I met up with the youth ministry department group from Nyack College and sat with them in the main session. I got to see both Len Kaegler and Ron Belsterling, both of my YM professors from my college days.


The worship band (Tim Timmons) playing their set. They were very good.

Saw Sara Groves perform after the main session. Wow. Great chill music. Great lyrics You must buy one of her albums right away.



Here's a video clip from the concert, sorry about the crappy cell phone/concert audio.

10:00pm - I sat in with the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast. These guys are as funny in person as they are on the podcast. I finally got Josh Griffin to give me my t-shirt I was promised. Thanks Josh.


The Simply Youth Ministry Podcast "Gang of 4"

That's all for today, much more tomorrow!

I have arrived

After a little orbiting around the hotel looking for parking (found a spot for $9/day) I finally made my way to the room I'll be staying in this weekend. Low and behold, I have Wi-Fi access once again, so updating my blog will be easy.

I'll be heading to the convention center in a few minutes to register and check things out. I'll post more later.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stranded! (kinda)


So today was one of the longest driving days EVER! Not only did I encounter at least 3 traffic jams/slowdowns (some close to an hour), but when I got to northern Kentucky, old man winter threw a welcoming party for me. I started to encounter this so-called "freezing rain." Soon after, my car was sliding around on the road like a 4 year old on a slip and slide.

My plan was to get into Akron where my family lives around 7-8pm and have dinner with them before leaving the next morning to drive 4 hours back south to Cincinnati. Well, at 6pm, I wasn't even in Ohio yet. With 4 hours (or more with the weather) of driving left and a very real possibility of me totaling my car in a ditch, I decided to grab a cheap hotel and call it a night.

I'm bummed that I won't get to see my family, but the good news is that I can get to the convention really early (20 minutes away from here) and not only that, I have free Wi-Fi :)

Oh, and I get to watch Lost tonight in my hotel room *bonus*

Multimedia message

Stuck in traffic en route to Ohio

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Going to Cincy

I'll be traveling this weekend to the National Youth Ministry Conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio. It's been a rough month and I'm hoping this will be a great opportunity to unplug and connect with other youth ministers who share my heart and interests. I get to see my former intern Marko, as well as 2 of my youth ministry professors from Nyack College.

Thursday I'll be traveling all the way back home to Ohio to see my family before heading to the conference on Friday. It's a 12 hour trip, so pray that God keeps me alert and my car healthy and in working shape.

I plan on blogging pictures, maybe some video, and updates from the conference. I you are interested in youth ministry (or at least me) make sure to check out my blog for updates.

In other news, I lost my very cool flash mp3 player that I use to record my youth ministry podcasts on. So if you listen regularly, it will be a few weeks before I get something new to record with. I'm getting a device so I can record directly onto my ipod.

Tonight at Invert we are having our first of 2 "Doubt Night"s. I had the students write out questions and I'll do my best to answer them honestly and from the scriptures. It should be a great time.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

New Invert Site

Well, I got anxious and bored with the all-flash superhardtoupdate Invert site. So I made a new one.

Check it out at www.getinverted.org

Friday, February 01, 2008

Another Life Update

It's been a while since my last update so here is what's going on:

On the student ministry front, things have been slow and steady. It's remarkable the way God is working in the lives of my teens and it's a privilege to be a part of that. We've been slowly upgrading our youth room and have finally got our new sound system together. Our worship band is growing (and so are my guitar skills...a bit). This weekend we' re going to a Christian concert called Winter Jam which should prove to be a good outreach opportunity. I'm psyched about seeing Skillet perform.

On the private front, my iPod died. Luckily it's under warranty, so I just got to take it to the apple store, hopefully they'll replace it with a macbook.

I watched the season premiere of Lost last night and I'm looking forward to another season (what writer's strike?). Other than Lost, there really isn't much other TV I watch other than random things on the Discovery Channel and such.

I've been reading more recently (which is alway good). I'm currently working on two books, one by Donald Miller and the other is the first book in C.S. Lewis' space trilogy. Both books are really good and hopefully I can move on to one of many books waiting on my shelf.

Lately, I've been incredibly introspective (too much so). My thoughts of late have drifted from politics to ministry to love and relationships, quite the variety. I think now that I'm one step closer to 30 I'm really trying to figure out whether I'm where I want to be. Am I living out the life that God has for me? Am I missing anything? I really am not sure. But I have had this nagging feeling that something must change in the not so distant future. Now if I can only figure out what that is... oh well.

I'll be in Ohio at the end of the month for a youth worker's convention in Cincinnati. Hopefully the conference will provide a well needed breath of fresh air and new perspectives as well as some encouragement. Ministry (especially when you're single like me) can be incredibly lonely- especially at a small church with no one your age. If you're up to it, please continue to pray for me for encouragement and strength as I serve God here in Alabama. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Daylight"

Jesus Christ, Light of the World
You never did forget me
and when i bled in darkness,
You held me, still held me
when disparate nights i cursed You
You loved me, still loved me
Jesus Christ, You dry the tears
You break my heart of stone
Your words are life
cut marrow through
the darkness, to the bone
a heart of flesh You gave me
only You can save me

Savior
Daylight
I am coming home
Brave Saint Saturn - "Daylight"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Disintegrator

If you were a youthworker, you would understand. If you ever get that annoying teen that likes to shoot rubber bands at you, pull this thing out and make them sorry.

Liar Liar

Saw this slice of news on Relevant Magazine's Website:

According to this story, the average person tells 88,000 lies in their lifetime. The most common lie: "There's nothing wrong with me ... I'm fine." Other favorites are, "Nice to see you," "Sorry I missed your call," "I'm stuck in traffic" and "Our server was down" ...

Now that I think of it, the first 3 I struggle with all the time! How about you?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Politics and Jesus

I've been following the news lately and everyone seems to be a buzz about the upcoming primaries and presidential election. This has got me thinking about who I am going to vote for and what exactly a Christian's role should be in politics.

So here are a few questions for all of you:
  • As a Christian, is it our responsibility to vote?
  • Would Jesus vote?
  • What candidate would you vote for and why? I'm looking for specific issues and not things like personality or likability.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

To all my family and friends, I hope this year will be a year full of adventure, blessing, and hope.

There is something about the holiday cycle that always seems to leave me with a hangover of sorts (no, not that kind of hangover). I crawl out of my bed on January 1st (at 2pm... thank you youth all-nighters!) and feel like I have shed my skin. Everything seems to be new with a whole 365 days ahead. And the questions, predictions, and thoughts of the future are intriguing.

So... any predictions or resolutions for the upcoming year? For me, I want to better understand God's love for me this year (resolution). As for predictions... I just hope that this isn't the year the whole world goes to pot. I always look forward to new tech. Perhaps I'll finally make the switch to Mac. We will see :)