Saturday, May 30, 2009


I have a friend Andrew who has been bugging me for a while that I need to take a silent retreat. In fact, it was something that I was feeling strong enough about that I got our Exec Pastor on board and these mini-retreats became part of my soul care plan for the ministry year.

It also turns out that I'm going to be teaching about the spiritual discipline of silence/solitude next Sunday. And since I've passed things over to Josh for the next few weeks, I figured that now was as good a time as any.

The more I think about it, the more nervous I get.

I'm not a silent guy.

But I think I need to unplug and listen.

Have you ever done a silent retreat? What do you do?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Geek alert...

I've noticed a few mentions of Google Wave throughout the day. So, since Erin was out and about and the kids are in bed, I figured I'd be a total geek and watch this video of Google Wave.

What will be some ministry implications and possibilities of this gem?

Student ministry moment of the week...

I get back to the office yesterday after lunch and I'm looking forward to a solid 2 hour chunk of time where I can do some prep work on some premarital counseling. I've been struggling to even find the time over the last few weeks to work on this project, so I was hopeful that this would be a productive window.

Yeah, the key word being "hopeful".

Instead I had one of my high school guys waiting at the church for me with this comment:

"Hey. I was coming over at 3 for the drop in, so I thought I'd just come now since I wasn't busy."

I think I may adopt a new student ministry motto.

"Students: they're not busy, so why should you be?"

Seriously though, I'm glad that my students feel like they can just stop by and hijack some of my time.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

European Champs...

Congratulations Barcelona.

I think it would have been a more interesting game though if Manchester United had actually showed up ready to play.

I don't think I've been this disappointed in how my team played in a long while.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What system...

Yesterday I sat down in the Youth Centre with Jamie and Josh, cracked open a Coke and listened to Andy Stanley talk about systems. (Go buy the DVD here.)

It did more than just inspire me. It rattled me to my core.

"Systems create behaviors."

We are all surrounded by systems. Our family, our work, our sports teams, our churches. And each system will elicit a behavior or action from the individuals involved.

So, what do you do if you don't like the behaviors that are showing up? Do you just get rid of the people? No. You change the system. did I miss this?

I will not change behaviors of my students or volunteers over night. But I can recreate a system that will allow their behaviors to change over time.

As a leader, I need to take responsibility for the systems that I have put in place, whether I did so intentionally or accidentally. Somewhere along the line I have been rewarding the wrong things, which in turn has created a system, which in turn has brought about certain behaviors and attitudes.

I cannot let that continue.

The system needs to change.

I'm neck-deep in asking big questions and re-evaluating how we are currently "doing" student ministry, because I think we've got some poor systems in place.

I'm curious to know, what systems around you need to change?

Monday, May 25, 2009


We occasionally watch Jon & Kate Plus Eight.

It's on in the background right now.

Jon is trying to explain himself and his actions over the last few months. I'll spare you any commentary on that, but he did say something that I found completely profound.
"One day my kids will Google me and I will have to explain myself."

So...what would your kids learn about you if they Googled you?

Does that motivate you to pay attention?


I woke up Saturday and wondered what I got myself into. I usually do a little morning blog reading in between cinnamon buns and soccer, so when there was no soccer to watch it made the commitment to being offline that much more difficult.

It got a little easier as the weekend went on.

In fact, I was quite surprised by how quickly I adjusted. I know it was only 2 days, but I figured I would spend 2 days fully regretting it. I didn't. Instead I find myself thinking I should do this more often.

It gave me some more time with the kids, more time outside, more time to read, more time with my wife. It's somewhat discouraging to think of how much time I've wasted away in front of this computer when I could be spending the time more appropriately with real life human beings.

What's next? I need to come up with some sort of plan for computer usage. I'll work on that and get back to you. I'm not going to go dark. But I will try to be more selective about when I'm online.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Online sabbatical...

I've been bugging Josh that he's a Facebook addict.

He has co-accused me of being a Twit addict.

It's a never ending argument.

But I recently read a post by Anne Jackson that says some good things about how to know if you are an addict. Quit for two weeks and see how long you last.

Now, I won't be silly enough to do that. But I do need to try this on a small scale. So I'm unplugging for the weekend. No blogging. No Twitter. No Facebook. Nada.

I'll plug back in Monday afternoon and see how things are going.

I'm hoping this can also help prepare me for a message I'm preparing for on June 7th. What is it? Making room in our lives for intentional silence so we can listen for the voice of God.

This is one of the things I need to do in order to make silence.

I'm also tentatively planning on a mini silent retreat On June 1 & 2. I'll keep you posted.

Strange grads...

This stems from a phone call at 9:15am from a recent grad of ours. This is part of the conversation:
Grad: "Hey Mike, have you been in your office yet?"

Me: "No. Why?"

Grad: "Oh...nothing. I'll ask you later then."

It's my day off and now all I want to do is go and find out what a group of grads may have done to my office last night after their ceremony. I know I shouldn't have left so early.

Should I worry?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

In a world of students...

It's grad season. And since our church building is one of the largest in the city we host most of the graduation ceremonies for the high schools. As it turns out we have a group graduating tonight and then another group graduating tomorrow!

And when did I find out? This week!

And do you think we actually have tickets? Well, after a quick scramble by some of our awesome admin staff we were able to get access to tomorrow night's ceremony, but not tonight's.

But that's not a big deal since I happen to have keys to the building. I'm playing the "I'm on staff" card and I'm going to see if I can just walk in if I make it look like I know what I'm doing.

Is that dishonest?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Star Wars wins...

Payback to the Star Trek universe for stealing the Star Wars plot.

(ht/ Josh Griffin)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book #19...

The Sacred Echo
Margaret Feinberg

I bought this after sitting in on Margaret's session at Catalyst West and it was also driven by my desire to have some new voices to listen to. I loved the idea of listening for those echoes of God's voice. Those moments in our life when it seems like God keeps saying something over and over again. Those moments that we cannot afford to ignore.

As I was reading, I'm reminded of the scared echoes that I hear from God from time to time:
  • I love you.
  • Love people.
  • Slow down.
  • Keep going.
This was a great book. I'd suggest that you buy your own copy and try to pay attention to some of the echoes of God in your own life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Book #18...

Jack Kilburn

I've been reading J.A. Konrath since some time last year and I've been enjoying his writing. Sure, it's not exactly family-friendly reading, but I find his books to be a good change of pace where I don't have to think too much and I can jump in and out of the story whenever I feel.

While stumbling around the web I discovered that Konrath had written a new book under the name Jack Kilborn and decided that I should read it. But I forgot about it until I was wandering through the Seattle airport and saw it sitting on a shelf. So I bought it and dove in.

This is definitely not a detective mystery like the other books he has written. It's not good reading for those with a weak stomach, or with too vivid of an imagination as it might keep you awake at night for weeks to come. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's classified as a horror.

But, once again I was sucked in and found that the short sections (there actually are no chapters in this book) made it easy to pick the book up and set it down at almost any given time.

Good read.

Long Weekend Recap...

We ran away this weekend to Seattle. We've been saving up our Starwood points for a while and realized that we could trade them in for a free night's stay, so I took Sunday off and we headed south.

We spent some time at the zoo, we shopped some used music & book stores, we swam in the pool, we slept in, we wandered the Pike Place Market, and we ate on the waterfront. A nice way to spend the weekend.

After we returned home last night we had some friends come over to watch our kids so we could head out with Erin's parents and with Josh to watch the new Star Trek movie. A few random observations from the movie:
  • It's way too distracting when the idiot behind you keeps kicking your chair through the ENTIRE movie
  • Somebody had brutal gas. And it wasn't me.
  • This Star Trek movie was a lot like a Star Wars movie I saw years ago.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Free music...

If you would like some free live Coldplay music, go here.

Scamming the Tooth Fairy...

Yes, we are heathens and our kids believe in the Tooth Fairy. Or the Tooth "Person" as I like to call him/her.

Here's the background for this story.

Aidan lost a tooth a while ago, but he accidentally swallowed it. He didn't place it under his pillow for obvious reasons and he missed out on the $1 reward. We all pretty much forgot about the incident.

Fast forward to last week when Aidan lost another tooth. (And lets give me a shout out for pulling that thing out. It was my first tooth pulling as I'm normally quite adverse to yanking things out of anyone's mouth.)

Aidan gets the idea to place a note under his pillow explaining to the "Tooth Person" that he didn't get his money for the last tooth he swallowed.

You got to give the kid props for trying. So I (uh, I mean the "Tooth Person"), showed a little mercy and gave him a quarter with a note explaining that a full $1 is only given when the tooth is under the pillow, but we could "sneak" him the $0.25.

He was thrilled that he got the quarter.

But then Becca gets an idea to leave a similar note. But she decided to take things to a whole new scamming level. She writes a note to the "Tooth Person" about how she lost 4 teeth and swallowed them.


Well, I (I mean the "Tooth Person") started leaving notes with her each night about how her smile does not show any more missing teeth than what she has already been paid for. I also wrote about how lying is not right and it may place future "Tooth Person" visits at risk.

The good news is that she apologized in her return notes. And now she has hung the notes from the "Tooth Person" up in her room as a reminder to tell the truth.

While somewhat humorous, this story is only the tip of a large iceberg. Our little girl has been having major problems with truth telling lately. This has been a tough week on us as we have tried to figure out what to do in order to help her get out of this habit. Let's just say that there have been some significant changes to her little life that we think will help bring about some behavior changes.

So, if you think of it, can you pray for us all?

Sometimes it's tough being a parent.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Here's a few things that have popped up lately that I'm totally digging musically.

Eddie Kirkland - I was on the hunt for some new music to teach my students, and came across Eddie by way of North Point Music blog (which you should definitely subscribe to if you're involved in worship leading at your church). I immediately bought a few songs from his album Orthodoxy from iTunes. I like Eddie's music, vocals and lyrics...aka the trifecta! I'll suggest you listen to "Hands of the Healer", "Nothing But You", "Sweetest Mystery" or "Never Failed Me".

Glare of Rockets - Mariah sang at Catalyst and I thought she had a great voice, but I'm particularly digging the song "Standing At the Scene".

Dave Matthews Band - This is probably no surprise, but since their newest single hit, I've had it on replay. I wouldn't classify it as an epic DMB song, but I'm still liking it.

Tim Hughes - Once again on the lookout for new music for the band to work on, I discovered this gem called "Holding Nothing Back".

Death Cab For Cutie - Picked up "The Open Door EP" and have enjoyed it.

U2 - Our copy of "Medium, Rare, Remastered" arrived in the mail and I've been enjoying what seems like new music.

Catalyst West Review (part 8)...

A few thoughts from Friday, April 24 at Catalyst West.

Erwin McManus is a creative genius. And his talk challenged me to look around me to see how I could possibly help others to awaken their dreams.

Rick Warren was interviewed by Andy Stanley. Good stuff. And funny to boot. Rick is a wise man with lots of great insights, even if you aren't a fan of the whole "purpose driven" thing. The guy loves Jesus and loves people. You cannot miss that when you see him talk.

Particularly helpful is his advice to:
  • Divert daily: know what energizes you
  • Withdraw weekly: if you aren't taking a day off every week, you are breaking the commandments
  • Abandon annually: the world can get along without you.
Craig Groeschel hit the stage to break apart some common myths that he had been taught, but then eventually began to think himself. The idea that the church should be a safe place, the idea that building his ministry was his highest calling, and the idea that success is only found in the big numbers. I appreciated his honesty and could see how I myself have bought into these myths from time to time.

He also introduced us to the concept of 3rd line believers.
  • Line 1: I believe in the Gospel enough to benefit from it.
  • Line 2: I believe in the Gospel enough to contribute comfortably.
  • Line 3: I believe in the Gospel enough to give my life to it.
Think about it. If you are currently involved in church leadership of any sort, what are most of the people around you living like? What are you living like?

Me? I'm Line 1 with gusts of Line 2. I need Line 3 and I'm realizing more and more that I have a long way to go and that some major changes are needed in my own life in order to do so. Maybe I'll share more about this in the future.

Francis Chan was the wild card for me. I've heard so much good stuff but never heard him before. I had also read Crazy Love and wasn't crazy in love with it. But after hearing the man pour his heart out, I've got nothing but the utmost respect for him.


I should point out that I am not doing justice to any of these speakers. And if you're tempted to dismiss anyone based on what I've typed here, please be kind enough to reconsider.

I'm still working through some of these thoughts/words/challenges in my won life. It's a work in progress that I'm hoping to spend some more time reflecting on at an upcoming personal retreat that I NEED to take.

All in all, I'd say Catalyst was worth the time and money, and I'd like to take it in again next year. The only change I would like to make is being able to attend with some more team members so that we could spend time processing together.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Catalyst West Review (part 7)...

Continuing with some thoughts of Thursday, April 23rd.

Jud Wilhite used a creative visual for his talk (his summary notes are here) that I'm bound to steal for the future. He wrote words on a mirror that could reflect how we view ourself. Then at the end he smashed the mirror revealing the words "In Christ" (or something close to that). I've since seen a similar version pop up here at Josh Griffin's blog too.

If it works, it works.

Brian Houston may not have captured me much with his overall content, but his lead in words sunk in and bounced around.

"I'd rather be a church builder than a church critic."

I'll be the first to admit that I'm often cynical and somewhat lacking in hope, particularly when it comes to the "church". It's Brian's words that keep echoing to remind me that my focus needs to be building, not just critiquing. I usually forget the building part.

Would I rather be a church builder or a church critic?

Monday, May 11, 2009


I'm having a rough night.

Not much I can say except that I'm eating my words and starting to reap the effects of too many weeks running at a break neck pace. Now my body is making it known that it will have no part of this craziness.

Well, I decided to quickly check my emails (not my work ones) while transferring a few pictures from yesterday's Mother's Day outing.

I was greeted by these words,
You are receiving this email because you are one of the winners of Anne Jackson’s recent blog giveaway of The Fine Line, by Kary Oberbrunner.

Apparently I won a free book because I left a comment here on Anne Jackson's blog.

That was cool.

Also, I think I may live in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen with three of the most beautiful people on earth.

This was from our trip to Bridal Falls.

That was also cool.

Yes, I'm bringing "cool" back.

It's Monday...

The week begins again.

It will be a little more bonkers than usual.

But I will keep myself afloat and my priorities in check.

What's your week looking like?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Catalyst West Review (part 5)...

While I found this session less than life changing, I did find Guy Kawasaki to be fairly creative and somewhat funny. And his notes were easy to type out, so here's a summary on the "Art of Innovation":

1. Make meaning
-end bad things; create good things
-do something to change the world
2. Make mantra
-most mission statements are too long
-choose 2 or 3 words that define your church
3. Jump to the next curve
-don't define yourself by what you currently do
-get better
4. Roll the DICEE
-Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Elegant, Emotive
5. Don't worry, be crappy
-if we wait for things to be the best, the world will pass us by
6. Polarize people
-if you try to appease everyone you will achieve mediocrity
-if your create something great you will create controversy
7. Let 100 flowers blossom
-take what you get, even if it's not what you expected
8. Churn baby, churn
-keep working
-how can you evolve your product?
9. Find a niche
-what makes you unique and valuable?
10. Follow the 10-20-30 rule
-10 slides, 20 minutes to view slides, 30 point font
11. Don't let the bozos grind you down

Catalyst West Review (part 4)...

I think Andy Stanley is the man. Not in the same way as Brad mind you. I dared him to try and get Andy to sign his chest while we were at Catalyst and I think he actually contemplated it!

Anyways...when Andy talks I tend to listen. He's one of the regulars that I listen to on my iPod because I find that he oozes wisdom. He almost always has something to say that can force you to rethink or reevaluate your life for the better.

His focus was on "Leading in Times of Uncertainty".
"The higher up you go in an organization, the more complexity and uncertainty there is."

"Uncertainty is why we need leaders."

"Uncertainty is not an indication of poor leadership."

"I will always be uncertain. I'm certain of it."

"As a leader it's ok to be uncertain, but it's not ok to be unclear."

"Pull back to that thing that God called you to do in the beginning. It will help bring clarity."

"When uncertain, get clear. Retreat to your vision."

"We tend to fall in love with our plans and we forget about our vision."

"Where's the vision conflicting with the plan? Sacrifice the plan for the vision."

What one quote would resonate or bother you the most?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Catalyst West Review (part 3)...

A few quoteworthy items from Erwin McManus' closing session at the Origins Lab.
"We focus so much on a theology of being separated from God that we forget about the theology of everyone being created in His image."

"We're more committed to visual success rather that true transformation."

"Are we willing to risk the loss of our reputation to be part of what Jesus called us to do?"

"There's nothing we do in the first space that isn't heard or known in the third space."

Some of these are still ringing in my ears. As I look at how often I strive to be viewed as successful or I try to gain a good reputation, but I sometimes neglect to ask whether I am truly seeking to be a part of what God is calling me to.

I know that I'm not a complete washout, but I do know that I need plenty of healthy reminders (ie- kick in the butt) from time to time.

How about you?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Catalyst West Review (part 2)...

A few highlights from Dan Kimball speaking about the missional church and the need for us to recalibrate church.
  • We are the church. We don't go to church.
  • There is no status difference between paid and unpaid staff.
  • The building is our missional training and support center.
  • It's not God's house.Evangelism is caring about people and going through life with them.

"How can we know anyone if we're so busy with ourselves?" -Dan Kimball

"Not recalibrating theology, but recalibrating how we discuss theology" -Dan Kimball

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Catalyst West Review (part 1)...

I jumped on a plane last month with Jamie (our young adults pastor) and headed off to Irvine, CA for Catalyst West. Since we were traveling so far we figured we might as well take in the Origins Lab the day before it officially started. The morning started off with everyone together in one room for a general session before letting us break away and choose our midday labs that were scattered across the campus of Mariner's Church.

I found my way into a session with Margaret Feinberg, one with Dan Kimball and a panel discussion with some of the pastors from different Mosaic campuses. While all three of those sessions were decent, it was the time with Erwin McManus that left the biggest impression.

Erwin McManus read from Acts 17. He went into a lengthy conversation about how we as Christian leaders need to move beyond the first space (our self made "Christian bubble") and into the second space (where we live and play everyday and rub shoulders with people that don't know Jesus). By doing so can find ourselves invited into the third space (the place we cannot force our way into; it's invite only). We only get there after earning the right to be present and to be heard in the second space.

If that's a little convoluted, sorry. Erwin actually needed to come back after he spoke in the morning and readdress it in the last session. Either way I found myself processing.

I was wondering if I get so content in my first space bubble that I completely forget about the spaces beyond. Where have I earned the right to be heard? Where do I have an influence? Where do I strive to be an influence?

"Just because I can't answer your questions doesn't mean there isn't a God. It just means I'm stupid. There's a big difference." -Erwin McManus

"Most of us really want to be popular in the first space, thereby limiting our impact in the second space, and eliminating ourselves entirely from the third space." -Erwin McManus

"Wouldn't it be amazing if we stopped playing around in the first space and started living and making a difference in the second and third space?" -Erwin McManus

Book #17...

Death By Love
Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

I started reading this as prep work for a message I was getting ready to teach on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The book consists of 12 letters that Mark writes to different individuals explaining how the death and resurrection of Jesus can impact their life. He dives into detailed descriptions of everything from justification to propitiation to expiation to unlimited limited atonement.

It was not a simple read. Nor was it always pleasant. Many of the personal stories of the individuals that Mark writes to are just plain uncomfortable to read. That said, it isn't something to ignore. I actually found that it brings new life to everything I'm reading.

I'll also admit that Driscoll's tone sometimes teeters on condescending. But, if you know that he's a "call-it-like-you-see-it" kind of guy, it tends to match up with what he's like when preaching and teaching.

This book is a great resource that I imagine I'll be dusting off time and time again. I'd recommend reading it.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Looking back...

Here's a photo update from the last month.

Playing Tanks at Easter.

The intern celebrates a birthday.

Meal #1 from the Catalyst West trip.

Walking Hollywood Boulevard before Catalyst West.

Reason #1 of why I have dented walls in my hallway.

Reason #2 of why I have dented walls in my hallway.

Guess what came in the mail today.

Better late than never...

10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe
Larry Osborne

This is the review that I mentioned was due while I was in California. Sure, I'm well aware that I've been back from California for well over a week, but I suffer from a mild case of "not-doing-things_itis".

As far as life changing books go, this is not one of them (at least for me). But it's not a horrible book either, by any means. In fact, I love the concept of trying to break down some of those "spiritual urban legends". There's just too many of them floating around.

The big ones that Larry focuses in on are:
  • Faith can fix everything
  • Forgiving means forgetting
  • A Godly home guarantees Godly kids
  • God has a blueprint for my life
  • Christians shouldn't judge
  • Everything happens for a reason
  • Let your conscience be your guide
  • God brings good luck
  • A valley means a wrong turn
  • Dead people go to a better place
I'd have to say that I wasn't completely enthralled with the depth of content, but I do believe that many of these topics would be great launching points for a small group study. I could see this starting some great conversations with people who have grown up in the church, as well as people who had no connection with the church. The thing is that in both groups you will likely find a pile of people who believe these previously stated "spiritual urban legends".

I've got 2 free copies to give away.

Let's go with the first two of you who can share a "spiritual urban legend" that you have had to unlearn. Leave an email address so I can contact you.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

I could do this...

How long would I have to ride my bike before I could do this?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

My wife think I'm crazy...

I do not know why I find these things so funny, but Erin is getting concerned.

Tell me, should she be? Or is this actually funny?

Get Your Dukes Up from Si on Vimeo.


What on earth happened to the sun?!?!

I'd like yesterday's weather back.

I'm sorry that I'm lacking any profoundity today, but I felt like I must blog after being such a slacker last month.

And let's not mention the fact that I still haven't gotten around to the book review that was due last week...sheesh!

Oh yeah...and go follow me on Twitter.