Friday, June 27, 2008

What Energizes You?

I was walking around Wal Mart today, killing time while I waited for my wife, and stumbled on something I didn't expect. If you are like me you love electronics. I love the newest gadget, computer, Ipod, TV, Phone, Camera, you name it. I marvel at the time we live in and how we are so connected and inner connected; and it is all because of the electronics we have created. I am looking for a new TV. LCD or plasma, 720 verses 1080 and what contrast ratio, 37 inch or 47, well you get the idea. I wasted all of the time I could at the TV's waiting for my lovely bride when I wondered over to the music.

Now I don't buy much music at the store anymore, I download most of it from Itunes, but every now and then I make a discovery that is worth a purchase. Tonight I found a Garth Brooks box set with four of his most famous concerts and a best of DVD music videos. Five DVD's for, get this, five dollars. I do love a bargain and I threw that treasure find into my cart and headed off to find my wife with a new found urgency to get home and watch these DVD's that I didn't even posses just a few minutes before, but now were possessing me.

I love country music, mostly because I can understand the words, unlike most of the music my kids listen to every day. I also love ballads, and country music is full of them, so I naturally gravitate toward that genre. Now, Garth Brooks was one of my favorites during the time he hit it big. His music takes me back to a different time in my life, a good time, a time when life was simpler, or maybe it just seemed that way.

Well you may be thinking what is the point? Indeed the point is simply this, I began to watch these videos and found myself becoming energized, full of enthusiasm and ready to do whatever needed doing. You may remember a Garth Brooks concert was a happening, the man would run from one side of the stage to the other and full tilt (with boots on) and have his band behind him and get to the other side, which was a long way away because they had built, well, runways for him, and he would sing without even breathing hard.

It energized him, he loved what he was doing and was exceptionally good at it. His career was a rocket! I can't help but think his energy and enthusiasm made him the rocket he became and the icon he is today. He loved what he was doing and it showed and it was contagious.

As I watched Garth in Central Park in New York City and across the pond in Dublin, Ireland I found myself taken back to a time in my life when passion fueled my days. Tonight with that new found passion and a joy in the simple things in life, I was able to do some planning, write some posts and spend some time with my kids. Why? Because I was passionate again and something that I enjoyed was the catalyst.

What do you love? What fuels your passions? What can help springboard you into your passion and have you look at life the way Garth did, with an unbridled zest that made him run across stage and act like a kid. Find your passion, do whatever it takes to rekindle or maybe discover what it is that makes you the person God designed you to be, it is worth the time.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Who says TV isn't good for anything?

I have recently been discouraged after our youth events. It seems each time it has become more and more difficult to hold the attention of those who attend. And then I am concerned about those who didn't attend: why, are they not interested anymore, are they in trouble, do they not like the topic, should I change the way we approach Youth Group? All of these questions and many more have been floating through my head the past several weeks. I feel as if I have to "drum up" interest. That is not fun, for leader or participant.

And then from the most unlikely of places I found the answer to that little voice that has been nagging at me for weeks. The source? American Idol. Allow me to explain: Last week American Idol held a show where they highlighted the conditions in Africa, New Orleans, Eastern Kentucky and a Boys and Girls Club in LA. What did they do? They showed the need that each of these areas have. The one that hit me the hardest was the Africa Story. Every 30 seconds a child in South Africa dies of AIDS. I couldn't believe it! Every 30 seconds? In just one African Country?

As I watched with my two teenagers and wife, they were all equally moved by what they were watching. We saw how for just a few dollars lives could be saved. We couldn't believe that things were that bad, so we did some research and found that, yes, things are that bad. Here are a few stats:

  • In 2005, more than 2.8 million people died because of AIDS – that’s equal to a plague killing off the entire population of Chicago.

  • 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Think about it – that’s around the same as the total number of high school students in the U.S.

  • By 2010, an estimated 20.2 million children worldwide will have lost a parent to AIDS.
    In Swaziland, one of every three people is HIV-positive.
  • Imagine if that were true in your youth group? Your church? Your own family?


So what does this have to do with youth ministry and my life and possibly yours? This, we are not here on this earth for hedonism, even Christian hedonism. The Gospel, if it is to be pertinent to the next generation, must have legs. It must be active (because it is). It is not enough to tell a young person that "Thou shall or thou shall not" without the reason behind it! In other words, we are to be people of action, faith without deeds is dead! And I cannot believe that God is content with our being content when a child in South Africa dies every 30 seconds from a preventable disease. Dollars and action are what these folks need, in other words they need to have their felt needs met BEFORE anything else. When your child is ill with Malaria you need to know that those who profess to love you will help you with a four dollar pack of medicine to spare your child!

So in addition to hearing the word I am going to become a doer of it as well. What is interesting to me is that when I presented this to the kids at our church I received a pretty enthusiastic (at least for teens), "Yes, we're on board".

Dr. Rick Warren, of Saddleback Church, has made it his aim to end this pandemic of AIDS in Africa, I don't know if he can get it done, but I am willing to help him by signing up the next generation to help him. If we say we love Christ but do nothing, that is not love, at least not the kind He showed at Cavalry. But hey, that is just what I think, how about you?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ft. Davis Trip

We recently went to Fort Davis as a family. It was great! We left Midland around 9:15 am and got into Ft. Davis before lunch. It was a quick trip, less than 175 miles if you go through Balmoreah on 17. I had never seen the Fort and was interested in seeing it and some of the town. We first went to lunch (my youngest son T.K. wouldn't have it any other way) and ate at the drugstore in town - The Old Texas Inn. It is an unique place. It has an old soda fountain and rooms upstairs. Each room has no phone or TV, although they do have a sitting room with a big screen TV, old school style that T.K. didn't recognize. I had to tell him what it was a TV. Lunch was good, mostly burgers, BBQ and comfort food. I did get a salad that was huge, they called it the "Wagon Wheel". The price was reasonable as well. For six of us the bill was just over $44.00. After lunch we drove around the town and got a feel for the houses and the neighborhood, we liked what we saw.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that during lunch we had a "visitor". A lady from the town came by the drugstore to order lunch, seems she was working on her house and didn't feel like cooking. She asked Todd Jr. to move over so she could sit down, only in a small town. We enjoyed her company though, she told us a little bit about the town and told us property had gone up quite a bit, but it was still a good town to live in, cool summers and mild winters. She got me thinking about it (just kidding Missy). We noticed how open and friendly the folks were; we were invited to go upstairs and check out the rooms they had. All were sincerely friendly, not that false politeness because they want your business, but rather a sincere joyful attitude.

We finally got to the Fort at around 2:00 pm. It only cost $3.00 per adult, I thought it was a great deal. We got an orientation from one of the Park Rangers and headed off to the movie that was narrated by none other than Kareem Abdul Jabar, he did a fine job. We saw barracks of the enlisted men, the commissary, the hospital (under renovation), officer's quarters and the commander’s house (on the right). I was struck at how "civilized" the officer's quarters or houses were. If the men were married, there was furniture, regular beds, books, china, sitting chairs and several other items that one would think could only be found in the East. Fort Davis is remote by today's standards, can you imagine how difficult it must have been to get this stuff to the fort back in the 19th century? The commander's house was especially impressive. This house was no "thrown together" endeavor. German stonecutters were brought over from Fredericksburg to do the brickwork and it turned out famously. There were two parlors, a dining room, a formal entryway, two bedrooms and sewing room. The kitchen was in the back in a separate dwelling for safety purposes. In case of fire, they only had to replace one dwelling instead of the whole house. I suppose if fish was on the menu you didn't have to smell it all day either.

The fort was operational from 1854 to 1891 and was part of the fort system in West Texas. It was abanded during the Civil War and then reoccupied in 1867. The 9th and 10th cavalries were stationed there. Those regiments were the Buffalo Soldiers, or black cavalry. The Fort also was the first duty station for the first black graduate of West Point. To see how they lived was amazing, it must have been very boring. The officers at least had their families and each other, while the enlisted men spent much time just outside the fort in "traditional" activities. I heard of one death in the fort when a corporal was shot by his Sergeant while he lay sleeping. Life was tough at Fort Davis. Several died with TB and others succumbed to dysentery.

I highly recommend the trip to you, short and much to do. If you wish more info on the fort itself here is the website, For the town of Fort Davis check out this website:

Besides taking care of my history fix, the trip had another benefit: family togetherness. We really did have a good time together. The kids did some hiking after their interest waned, and Missy and me got to spend some time together as well. I recommend taking these trips with your family, they are memory makers. I still remember some I took as a kid, build some memories with your kids, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Our Youth

I just finished creating the calendar for the spring and summer for our kids here at OSLC. And I as look at it I pray that it is more than just a thing to do or a place to go. I mean, what is the youth ministry all about anyway? Why do we do what we do? Why do you let your student attend our events? Our programs? Is it because you want them to be raised to be "good" adults. I certainly want that for my own children, but I long for something more than that, something that has passion, value, purpose and the ability for them to look back and say, "That time shaped my life, made me a different person, the person I was designed to be."

So much of what we do in ministry is "busyness," a shroud that we are getting something done. We are competing with the church down the road that we have as many programs, or ours are better. So what? What if they are? Then what? No, what we need are relationships, forged in real life. To have (notice not create) real communion with each other without regard to what others are doing. But as parents and youth ministers, we are so concerned with making our kids "good" or making sure, they "own" their faith so that when they go to college or move away from home they maintain their trust and, I am sorry to say it, belief in God. So we create, make, design programs and events that will move them closer to becoming "good" kids.

But is that enough? Are we creating kids that are able to develop meaningful relationships with each other and with God? Or are we more worried about what we think, than the kids we are developing and leading? You can answer that question for yourself, but for me I know the answer, and I don't like it very much! Adults are scared of teens, they make us uncomfortable, they dress differently, talk differently and heaven knows they are better at technology that all of us. But did you know teens are afraid of adults?

In Mark Yaconelli's book, Contemplative Youth Ministry, he interviewed a group of teens about their observations about adults and he overheard this observation:

"Adults have no friend, adults have no passions, and adults are stressed out."

Sadly, I think this teen was on the mark for many of us. No wonder our teens don't listen to us, who wants to become this type of person?

I have a story from my own life that illustrates how teens and adults think differently. The other day I attended a basketball game with my 14-year-old son. We got the time wrong on the game, but did run into a friend. As it turned out it began to rain heavily. I asked my friend if she would like a ride to the other side of campus, where her son was holed up working on a video, she said sure. I drove her over and parked. As I was parking, I pulled to the curb and began to back up to close the gap with the car behind me, which just happened to be my friend's son's car.

I backed up a little too much and backed right into his car. I was horrified. Fearful I damaged his car, my car, worried about the cost to fix both, worried about my reputation as a driver, worried about how the car would be scarred and how bad it would look driving it around time, in short, I was "stressed out". So was my friend, she was worried about her son's car I'm sure. On the other hand, my 14-year-old son in the back seat found this absolutely hilarious. He couldn't believe his dad could be such a "goof" and back into a car I knew was there. As he laughed, I grew irritated and more worried. I got out of the car and found my care to be damaged with a dent and scratch, and thankfully his car unscathed.

I was embarrassed and stressed over what others might think, my reputation, my car, how could my life ever be the same (a little melodramatic I know), but my son continued to get a big kick out of it, in fact, he loved it.

Now this little story showed me how differently we think: adults worry, kids laugh. But something happens, the laughter stops and the worry creeps in. Is this our desire for our teens? I say no! But you don't understand, you say, kids do drugs, have sex, and they are so violent, we have to do something.

Curiously, that is not the case. According to authors, Bill Strauss and Neil Howe say the following:

Never before has there been a generation that is less violent. Less vulgar, less sexually charged than the culture being offered them. We fail to recognize it's the adult culture that is far more "at-risk" than the youth culture." (taken from the book: Millennial Rising: The Next Great Generation)

What do you think about this quote? I think it has a lot of truth in it. So our charge is to raise our kids to be self-sufficient, socially conscious, aware of others and in tune and connected to Jesus Christ. This isn't done with a program, just look at how many teens leave the church and their faith when they go off on their own. We need to give them authentic relationship, with adults, other teens and with God.

Interested? Let me know you want to get involved and together we can "git er done". Oh, almost forgot, please let me know how the calendar works for you and your family, and if you want to comment on my article, I would welcome it.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


I can hardly believe it has been almost one year since I pulled up stakes and moved east. But it has, and it has been quite eventful I must say. Allow me to recap some of the events and highlights of 2006:

I started the year with a baby (almost, she was born hours before 2006, thank you Tori for the tax deduction) and a move. I came out before Missy and the kids. I used that time to meet with many of you and get the “pulse” of the church. It was enjoyable for me, I hope for you too.

Finally, in February, Missy and the kids made their way to Texas and we found a house and settled into our new surroundings. The kids were taught by the best teacher in the whole world, my wife. They enjoyed it even if Missy was less thrilled about it than were they.

Soon after the family arrived, I plunged into my youth responsibilities. Below are a few of the highlights 0f 2006:

Carmen Concert
Captive Free Concert
Led High School Small Group
Youth Alpha
Restarted Confirmation
Held a Last Supper Reenactment
Had numerous Supper-for-Six’s
Led Service on Mother’s Day
Held several Movie Nights
Holy Spirit Retreat
Schlitterbahn Trip
Held Lock in
Attended Hallowed House
Attended Rock the Desert (almost didn’t make it back alive)
Thanksgiving Servant Event
Numerous gatherings and parties
Knocked down wall in youth room
Taught Sunday School
Redesigned Crosseyed on Sunday Nights
Watched Janet Rutledge grow Lunch Bunch into over 130 kids on a regular basis – way to go Janet!!!!
Grew about 15 percent, and,
Got to know the kids and loved it!

In addition to all of that stuff I managed to make several conferences, visit most of you, preach several times and did a little personal study.

Why tell you all of this? You do not know where you are, until you know where you have been. So I am looking backwards with an eye toward the future. I am eager to see what and who 2007 will bring.

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to look at things afresh, anew and make several “resolutions.” The problem is we seldom keep these resolutions, you know what I am talking about, good intentions followed by reality, little or no change.

So I encourage you to set goals as you venture into 2007, goals are specific, measurable and time oriented. Break down what you want to do this year into several “doable” steps that allow you to win. Here are some of my suggestions:

Read more books this year, attend church more this year, help your neighbor more this year, volunteer in an area you are not comfortable with this year, spend more time with your loved ones this year, forgive someone who did you wrong this year, develop a hobby you always wanted to try this year, love like you never have before this year and pray like your life depends on it, because it does!

I have several goals this year, both personal and professional, set your own. As I look at what I want to accomplish this year I am grateful I serve a loving and forgiving God. My failures and sins are not tied around my neck to remind me of my unworthiness. No, my sins are cast as far as the East is from West. I can start anew, I am a new creation in Christ.

This year I want to grow our church (actually God grows it, but I want to do my part), both numerically and in Christ. I want our youth to grow into a faith that is their own and does not depend on myself or their parents or anyone else, other than Jesus.

I want to grow myself, be a better husband, a better dad, a better son, a better brother, a better friend and someone who stands for the truth of the Bible. It will not be easy, growth never is, but it will be worth it!

Join me this year and do not resolve to do something, just do it!!! We serve a mighty God who gives us more than we deserve, serve him with gladness and sacrifice this year. Try it and see if he will not pour out more blessings than you can contain.

As we begin a new year, I want you to know I am honored to serve God at OSLC, it is a privilege to be called your pastor. Be Blessed. See you on the web:


Monday, December 04, 2006

Am I Behind?

Is it me or is everyone struggling to catch up with the world. It seems the harder I try to stay current the harder it gets. This blog thing is still somewhat new to me, I mean I'm still trying to figure out how to use it. I mean is it really worth my time (and yours) to put down my thoughts on the world wide web? What it is the purpose? And then I am discovering this podcasting thing. I know, some of you have been doing this thing for a long time, but I am still trying to figure it out.

As a pastor (associate and youth) I think the podcast thing has real value and application. But then I check my web stats and I am disappointed at the number of hits from my congregation. I publish a weekly ezine to over 80 folks and direct them to different pages on my site and I get darn few hits. The thing that frustrates me is I hear complaints of not being communicative, what? I can't call all of you everyday, take some initiative! But then I think about how much "stuff" there is out there that we have to keep up with and I can't blame my flock.

But what if I could keep up and guide them? Exciting though and terrifying all at once. So I'm back to the "I feel behind" thing again. How do you keep up with it all. Just a few years ago the kids I was working with in the youth were cutting edge with email. Now that is passe, text messages, cell phones and My Space dominate (I'm still trying to get that figured out too), not to mention instant messaging, which I think I have licked.

I have heard it said that the average 17th century Englishman was never exposed to more information that is contained in a Sunday New York Times in HIS LIFETIME! No wonder I feel behind. But I will trudge on, and if anyone has any advice on this podcasting thing I would be forever in your debt. In the meantime I think I will turn off the computer, shut down my palm, finishing updating my IPOD and check my MySpace one more time before bed, after all I don't want to get behind.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mad TV - Buffy the Umpire Slayer

This is tough for an old Umpire.