New Book

So I've been reading "Do they run when they see you coming?: Reaching out to unchurched teenagers". It's pretty good. It falls in line with other stuff I've been reading lately as far as taking the church to the community and not expecting them to come to you. It's an interesting concept that I'd like to flesh out over the next few weeks in middle school ministry.
My Saturday Night Reality Check program that I've run every other week this fall has not done well. I'd like to change to something along the lines of taking things out into the community, but I'm not sure what that would/could/should look like. Hopefully I'll get clarity on it soon. We'll see.
This book is interesting, though. I'll be posting some thoughts from it soon, just to kind of help me struggle through the issues that it raises. JM

Mission Impossible

So last Saturday night we had our Mission Impossible event. I had hoped to have just over 100 kids there. Last year we had 96, so I figured 110 would be awesome, especially since I lost a strong 8th grade class since then.
Turns out we had 129 kids. 47 of those were from our church. That means that we had 82 students who do not go to our church doing an event with us. It went amazingly well. We had one girl accept Jesus. I started going through the registration cards the other night to see just how many legitimate prospects we have and it looks like it will be at least 15 kids or so that don't go to church anywhere.
It proved to be a good event for us. Good times. JM



So this weekend we run a program we call Mission Impossible. It's an outdoor capture-the-flag type game that we play in a field at night. It's really cool and will be the biggest thing we do all fall. I've hyped it for about 8 weeks now with flyers, posters, talk, and some love on the website.
But before I do anything like this, I always start to get really nervous. What if I forgot something? What if something doesn't work right? What if a kid gets hurt? What if only a few kids show up? What if too many kids show up?
So I start making lists. I start out with what I call a needs list, which is a list of everything that the program will need. Then I create shopping lists, event maps, program guides, job descriptions, and stuff like that. I spend so much time stressing over it, that by the time it actually gets here, I'm just ready for it to be over.
I say all this because I think that it's part of the way that Satan gets me to overlook the potential spiritual impact. If I focus so much on the miniscule and mundane, then I probably won't spend a lot of time in prayer for it. I'd like to see a chart on the average program I run with time spent for planning the event vs. time spent praying for the event. I definitely need to up the time I spend in prayer. I've done better this time. I'm more relaxed and less frazzled. I'm definitely in more of a "Be still, and know that I am God" kind of mindset as opposed to the "What if the generator breaks?" mindset. I'll let you know how it all turns out in the end. JM


Lonley Update

Well, it's amazing how fast a week can rush by. I had my week alone and had great intentions of accomplishing myriad tasks. My attempt was nearly futile. I found that opportunities expand proportionally to fill any anticipated free time. Basically, I had a really busy week, and got little to nothing done. Of my original list I did plant flowers, get the car inspected and cleaned out a closet. But that's it. I certainly could have been more productive, but I had some activity every night except for Friday night, so I stayed pretty busy. I guess that helped the time pass and now my family is back, which is definitely more desirable than having grass on the hill in my backyard. There's always tomorrow. JM


5:00 AM News

I have a baby girl named Ana who is 7 months old. We haven't trained her to sleep very well, so she still wakes up sometimes to have a bottle. It's pretty easy, because we'll just prop the bottle up with her in the car seat, she'll drink it all, and then I can go lay her right back down.
Yesterday Ana woke up at like 4:55 AM. Not a problem. So I take her downstairs and get her bottle. I turn on the TV to check the weather because we were about to take Eryn, Noah, and Ana up to Nana's house in St. Louis, so I wanted to see if the drive would be nice.
So the 5:00 AM news comes on. There are two news anchors talking to me about traffic, weather, some robbery, and a host of other things that I really didn't pay attention to. All I kept thinking was, I wonder what time these people have to wake up? If they are ready to go live at 5:00 AM, I bet they have to be there by 4:00 AM. That means they would have to wake up at like 3:00 AM so that they could get showered and drive in to downtown. So in order to get enough sleep they would have to go to bed by like 8:00 PM.
Wouldn't that really limit the things you could do? They have to TiVo everything in primetime. They get no time alone with their spouse because as soon as the kids are in bed, they have to be in bed, too. They don't get to go out and have fun at night. It just seemed like a sad life to me. I felt really sorry for them. I almost cried, but by then Ana was done with her bottle, so I turned off the TV, put Ana back in bed, and went back to sleep. JM


Best Song Ever Written

Okay, so on Austin City Limits with Coldplay, Chris Martin referenced some song I had never heard of (I think it was an REM song) as the best song ever written. I didn’t really like the song, so I would have to disagree with him. (I think Tenacious D's "Tribute" talks about the greatest song in the world.)
But I wonder what the best song ever written really is? Obviously it’s going to be a matter of opinion, but my opinion should count more than anybody else’s, shouldn’t it?
I’ve always liked “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead, but I’m not sure if I can say it’s the best song ever written. Other songs I really like are “Thank You” by Alanis Morissette, “Perfect” by Smashing Pumpkins, “Brothers On A Hotel Bed” by Death Cab for Cutie, and “Magical Myster Tour” by The Beatles. I’m sure there’s tons more (“Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys), but I doubt I could ever say one is the greatest song ever written. That’s tough. JM

I'm A Hopeless Romantic

Lately, Eryn and I have been talking a lot about romance. Basically the conversation goes something like this:
Eryn – “You’re not romantic.”
Josh – “I know.”
I’ve always assumed that I am both the least romantic and least emotional person on the face of this planet. I don’t cry, don’t laugh a lot, and I have a tendency to focus a little bit too much on logic.
The other night I was watching Austin City Limits on GPB. Coldplay was the band on there, and they did an amazing job. It made me want to start a band and tour, it made me want to watch a good movie like Shawshank Redemption, it made me want to go outside and stare at the sky. I wanted to feel small, but like I was part of something much greater.
I started thinking, that’s what romance is, the excitement of being part of something much greater. It’s the emotion of feeling as though you’re playing a part in the great drama of life.
It made me realize that I really am romantic, but that people have different things that tap into that romanticism. For me, it’s being out in nature and seeing the world that God created. For my wife it may be something different.
So I’ve planned a date for us on 01.14.07 that I think she’ll enjoy. The activities aren’t romantic in and of themselves, but I think she’ll enjoy it immensely. I’ll let you know how it goes. JM


Money As Substantiation For Living

So Terrell Owens the other day might or might not have tried to commit suicide. That's not really the point of this post. What is the point is what his publicist said about the situation. She said that he wasn't trying to commit suicide. As evidence of why he would not do this she said "Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive." The 25 million reasons was referencing his 3-year $25,000,000.00 contract with the Dallas Cowboys. After that she got up and left the press conference table as if saying "so there" or "that settles it".

How pathetic is our society that we would be able to say, yeah that guys got a reason to be alive because he's got money. I have many reasons to be alive, but certainly my salary is not one of them. I can think of many more reasons besides how much money I have in my bank account. Why not reference his love of football, his family, his charity work, or anything else. But to posit that the primary reason for existence is money is sad. Ah, the joys of a capitalist society. JM

Life Improvement In A Box

Are you tired of living a mediocre life? Well the good people at endless games have partnered with Joel Osteen to produce "Your Best Life Now - The Game".

So a lot of people are making fun of this and saying that it's pathetic in concept, execution, and in overall Christian "cheese" factor. I think it's actually kind of a cool idea. If he can get people to understand the concepts of his book without having people read it, then that's aweseme. Some people just will not read a book, so this might tap into their desire to really live a positive life.

Certainly, that's not who the consumers of this game will be. More likely it will be YBLN readers and Osteen fans who go out and purchase this. Hey, maybe you'll get lucky and get it for Christmas!! JM



My wife is going away for a week and taking both kids with her from 10.13.06 - 10.21.06. (I have a 2-1/2 year old and a 7 month old.) This means I can either sit around and miss them, or I can try to get a bunch of stuff done while they're gone. So far here's my list:

  1. Plant flowers
  2. Aerate the backyard
  3. Plant grass
  4. Clean out the closets
  5. Paint the stairwell
  6. Paint the living room
  7. Get both cars inspected

Well, that's a lot so far. I hope that I can get it all done. I'm pretty sure that I can. We'll see. I'll keep you posted on how well I do. I may add to it as we get closer. JM

What's That?

So what is the Ghost Of Mediocrity? Well, it's the spirit that haunts us, tempting us to do just enough to get by or all that is required. I'd like to make sure that he doesn't get me, so I wanted to create a spot where I could write down thoughts and to-do lists in a searchable format.
So why should anybody read this? While there's certainly no gun to your head, (or at least I hope not) this is mainly just for my own personal utility. If you can derive any form of meaning from it and apply it to your context, then more power to you. I hope it will help you avoid the GOM as well. JM