Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Before the Christmas season hit, Erin and I had a little discussion about Christmas. Specifically, the rights and wrongs of it, as are so often dictated by others.
Is it wrong to exchange gifts?
Is it wrong to listen to Bon Jovi sing Christmas songs?
Is it wrong to boycott Christmas?
Is it wrong to not boycott Christmas?
Is it wrong to enjoy the time as a family around a tree?
Is it wrong to wrap a present?
I've heard the whole rally against over-rampant Christmas consumerism and how we need to get back to the real meaning of Christmas. And some part of me completely agrees. However, another part of me has absolutely no problem with the giving and receiving of gifts, the decorating of houses and trees and the never ending supply of Christmas songs.
I could just never put my thoughts into words.
So I will let David Crowder do it, with his post on the same subject.
I'm going to agree with him.
Monday, December 29, 2008
As many of you are well aware, I started this reading journey with a goal of hitting 26 books this year. Well, apparently some healthy competition from Erin combined with the fact that she has been working on lots of school work this year means I've been able to keep ahead.
The last week or so has seen these books added to the list. See if you can tell which one was a stocking stuffer.
Book #55 - The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
I had to buckle down and stick this one out especially after Keller opens the book with a comment that his interpretation of the parable of the prodigal son is the "true meaning" of it. But I'm glad I stuck it out. Some great thoughts (not new, but refreshing) on the story of the prodigal son and how God is constantly reaching out to not only the lost, but also the modern day "Pharisees", those who have already "found" God but fail to let His lavish grace transform their lives. I also picked up his other book (The Reason for God) at the library, but it will wait for 2009.
Book #56 - The Chris Farley Show by Tom Farley Jr and Tanner Colby
This was like watching a train wreck happen. It's almost captivating as you watch how Chris Farley's life unraveled and how those around him responded, or failed to respond. The book is a collection of other people (friends, family, co-workers, etc) giving glimpses of what they saw happen in Chris over the time they knew him. All in all, if you've ever laughed at the antics of this man (and who honestly hasn't?), I'd recommend this.
Book #57 - The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey
On the hunt for some new fiction I stumbled across this story of a criminal trying to right his path in life but ends up sucked into a kidnapping plot. It's one of those stories where the good guy makes some poor decisions all while trying to keep himself clean. I found the plot line a little frustrating and non-believable. And the ending is pretty typical "feel good" Hollywood stuff. But I enjoyed it overall so I'll probably give the author another try.
Book #58 - The Bro Code by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn
Of course Barney Stinson is only a character on How I Met Your Mother. And yes, this was a stocking stuffer. But I should point out that it didn't end up in my stocking. I had to borrow it. But this show has slowly become a Knott household favorite over the last year, mostly due to Erin's persistence. But it has provided an endless number of inside jokes and non-stop laughs. Just ask Josh (our intern).
Friday, December 26, 2008
Either way, the fluffy white non-dandruff stuff is falling. I may be trapped here in the basement forever. But that's ok. I think I have lots to keep me occupied.
Boxing Day around here means sleeping in, avoiding the paper/cardboard mess that was left from yesterday, eating junk food (my breakfast consisted of spinach cheese dip), watching TV (soccer and hockey), reading, building toys, playing games, and anything else we feel like.
And now I'm waiting for the World Juniors Canadian game to start.
How do you spend your Boxing Day?
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Becca's comment this morning when we were waking up is fairly descriptive.
Becca: "Mom, look out the window."I don't know where kids come up with this stuff, but it's true that you could probably bury a goose in our back yard.
Becca:"It's snowing and it's deep as a goose."
Erin is hoping we'll make it down the hill today. She wants to drop goodies off at the hospital and then our tradition is to head over to the Christmas Eve service at church before coming home for games and goodies. But I think we'll be stuck here.
Thankfully, the whole family is here. So, let's get this Christmas started.
A very merry Christmas to you and yours.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Having grown up in the Canadian version of the denomination and having worked in Alliance churches since 2000, I think it's great to see our US counterparts thinking outside the box. I hope we see more opportunities like this in the future.
The following is from Craig Gross' end of the year update:
The Christian Missionary Alliance is joining up with us as well. They are a denomination founded by AB Simpson.
➢ In the 1880’s Simpson was the pastor of perhaps the most prestigious church in New York City and perhaps the nation.
➢ Simpson spent considerable time reaching out to men and women who were often rejected by ‘the church’. Included were the Italian dockworkers, to sailors, to streetwalkers, to unwed mothers.
➢ This all resulted in Simpson leaving his prestigious church and beginning a church on the backstage of a NYC theatre creating a SAFE place for people that had the greatest needs.
➢ Simpson was merely living out the example of Jesus Christ, who spent most of His time with the people the religious leaders often rejected.
➢ The Alliance DNA was established by AB Simpson with a passion to bring the healing Christ offers to broken people.
➢ The first Alliance church plant planted by Simpson in NYC was known at The Gospel Tabernacle. Central to the church were numerous rescue missions, some of which exist to this day. This was happening 130 years ago in The Alliance.
➢ Now today The C&MA is made up of 26000 churches worldwide with critical ministries reaching out to people that have been entrapped by the grip of the sex industry in places like Thailand, Cambodia, Mali and the continent of Africa. It’s what we do!
➢ For XXXChurch to partner with The Christian & Missionary Alliance makes all the sense in the world.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
(And incidentally, this is book #54.)
I picked up "Getting Fired For the Glory of God" when I was in Sacramento. It's a collection of some of Mike Yaconelli's writings that showed up in Youthworker Journal over the years. The book also comes with a DVD and some MP3's of a few of the talks that he had given over the years.
I never met Mike, but we did trade emails once. And even in that brief communication he stayed true to everything I have ever known or heard of him. Wise, to-the-point, and extremely blunt.
Mike had a way with youth workers in particular, that was always guaranteed to stir something up. I have always found myself challenged, encouraged, engaged, inspired, reprimanded, annoyed, and informed by his words.
Most of this book I had read at one time or another over my years of working with students. But that didn't change a thing. I constantly found myself looking at my own ministry and my own heart and wondering if maybe I'm missing the mark at times. Maybe I'm guilty of creating a ministry that focuses too much on numbers, fun, and entertainment and too little on Jesus. Maybe I'm forgetting about my own soul as I try so hard to look after everyone else's
Yeah...big stuff. And I'm slowly working my way through it.
Actually, these last few weeks have seen me doing a mental review of our ministry (and my personal life) and trying to evaluate. I'm trying to hear God's whisper in this slower season. What does He want us to do with these students in 2009? What does He want to do with me?
Either way, Mike's words have once again been a source for dreaming and reflecting. I only hope that other youth workers will continue to learn from this man. It's too bad he's no longer with us, but I'm sure glad that his heartbeat is still felt in the student ministry community.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I also had to leave my car at the bottom of the mountain with the other 2 dozen vehicles that couldn't make it up the incline. Hopefully it's still there and in one piece tomorrow. Last year my father-in-law left his vehicle down there and a snowplow took off one of his mirrors.
Thankfully I was able to catch a lift up the mountain with a Good Samaritan 4X4 owner. He doesn't even live on the hill but has spent the last hour shuttling people up the mountain.
Now the kids are playing. It's strange to think that this is abnormal for them. When I was growing up this usually happened in October!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
(pause to pat myself on the back)
Here's the latest additions:
Book #51 - Ministry Mutiny by Greg Stier
This has been on the shelf so long I almost forgot about it. I wasn't feeling too good last week and took Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning off, and I figured I'd get some reading done. I like some of Greg's stuff, especially when he challenges youth pastors to take their students deeper in their faith. He's also an evangelism guru of sorts. He writes this book in a "fable" style of one younger youth pastor (who is about to hand in his resignation letter) who meets to learn from a seasoned youth ministry veteran. But along with Greg, comes constant imagery of "gameday" which makes me nervous. It's a little too Ron Luce-ish for me.
Book #52 - Fuzzy Navel by J.A. Konrath
I've been reading all his other books this year, so I was happy to pick up this latest one at the library. And I'll say that this one has been his best. The cliffhanger is huge and I found myself visiting his website to get info on when the next book will be coming out.
Book #53 - Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
I've been reading this one with our intern and we've been spending some time at each weekly meeting talking about it. This book is pretty much pure gold for youth pastors of any stage in their ministry career. I got just as much out of it on this third time reading it as I did the first. If you work with students, read it. If you work with students and haven't read it in the last year, read it.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Do you have any thoughts? Possible implications? Push back?
Andy Stanley recently shared how church traditions are like an old couch - when you first bought it, it was awesome and made perfect sense. Now the couch, 20 years later, doesn't work but you're holding on to it b/c it has so much meaning and memories from the past.
Are there couches in your organization that you need to get rid of?
Friday, December 12, 2008
I always get my back up when I hear that because I don't see what makes the sanctuary any more holy or set apart than say, my office.
They both have sound systems, uncomfortable chairs, Bibles, musical instruments, unused hymnals, places to store books, and occasionally even people and a slightly funky odor.
How do you change this mentality?
Or maybe a better question is can you change this mentality?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
These days are unheard of. I will try to enjoy this.
I'm currently reflecting on last night's Christmas Bash. Basically it was just a gift exchange where we asked students to bring a wrapped slightly-used gift to put under the tree. Then we asked them to donate the money they would normally spend on a gift to our Compassion child. Personally I am a little disappointed by how little we raised and by how many students "forgot" to bring gifts.
We always have a few extra gifts nearby because we know some students just can't contribute. But this year it was an abnormally high number that just didn't bring something. We found ourselves scrambling around the Youth Centre and wrapping random things in yellow office paper and duct tape just to ensure that everyone would get a gift.
Next year we need to do something different. This just isn't working anymore.
But now it's time for a break. No more regularly scheduled Wednesday nights until January. Is it wrong of me to say that I'm looking forward to this?
In the meantime, I'm leading worship this Sunday with my youth band. Should be fun. Oh yeah, and worshipful.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Book #47 - No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke
Buy it. Read it. And please talk about it with your church staff/leadership. This book took me forever to get through as I wanted to reflect on it. And at times it completed disappointed me. Not so much the content (it's quality stuff), but the reality that so many churches don't foster an environment where people can come as they are. This book gives me hope of what the church could (and should) be.
Book #48 - Pornified by Pamela Paul
This was not a pretty book. I guess a book about the effects of porn should probably not be "pretty", but this book takes things to a whole new level. I found it to be an articulate work, with a bit too much information, that pushes for something to be done to stop porn from damaging any more relationships or lives. You'll ache as you read some of the stories of how porn has ruined lives. But I'm going to suggest you skip this one just because of the content.
Book #49 - Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell & Don Golden
A typical Rob Bell book with short sentences and even shorter paragraphs. I know lots of people don't like the style, but I can track with it. (I guess I'm a lazy reader.) While I wouldn't say this was one of Bell's best, I would say that it has a few gems, especially later on in the book when he starts to talk about what the church should look like. (Are you seeing a theme in my reading lately?)
Book #50 - Doors Open by Ian Rankin
This was in the "One Week" pile at the library last week so I thought I'd give it a go. It's all about an art theft in Edinburgh that involves multiple groups of people trying to rip each other off. It was a quick read, but I wasn't too thrilled with the ending or the vague epilogue. But it wasn't a bad way to kill a Sunday.