Matthew 9:27-31

"Because you believe I can make you see again, it will happen."
Jesus has a pattern of blessing people who have faith. I've seen that over and over again just in the past few chapters. Jesus gives people what they want. But the stories all have several things in common.
1. They ask Jesus for it. They don't just wish that they had something, but they take the time to approach Jesus about it. Some are even carried to him, just so they can ask him.
2. They make their request specific. The blind didn't ask to be better, they wanted sight. The guy who couldn't walk asked to walk.
3. They believe that Jesus can do it. One guy believed that Jesus could heal his servant, even if Jesus wasn't present. One guy believed that Jesus could raise his daughter from the dead. Two guys believed that Jesus could give them sight.
God is not done granting requests. While I certainly don't believe in the "health and wealth" gospel, I do believe that God eagerly desires to give us things when they are in line with his will. So why not pray for 100 middle school students at my super bowl party? Why not pray for 200? Why not pray for as many as we can physically handle?
Why not pray that God can get hold of the hearts of people in my church and make them passionate disciples of Jesus? If I ask Jesus for it specifically, and believe that Jesus can do it, then why would he not desire to grant it if my motives are pure?
Now of course there are other reasons why God may choose to not say yes. But that's not what I'm getting at. God wants to bless us. We desire to be blessed. It's not God's fault when we are not blessed. JM


Matthew 9:8-26

Jesus is about to raise a girl from the dead. He is about to do the impossible. Nobody has ever seen anything like this before. He goes in to the room where the dead girl is. There are a bunch of people mourning her there. He tells them that she isn't dead, but asleep. Their response is "But the people laughed at him."
Man, how tough is that? Jesus is about to do something awesome, and everybody is just laughing at him for having such a stupid thought. Of course people can't come back from the dead. They're dead. To suggest that they can is ludicrous. It deserves laughter.
We all have dreams. Some of us even dare to do great things for God. Maybe even impossible things. These dreams often elicit laughter and ridicule. But if God has pushed it into our hearts, we dare not shrink away from it. I'd rather be laughed at by people so that I can hear God say "Well done." JM


I love watching my daughter achieve new milestones. Right now she's trying to stand. She can stand on her own for about 4 seconds. We're encouraging her to stand and hopefully take some steps pretty soon. She's really close, so hopefully she'll be walking sometime next month. She doesn't turn 1 until 03.07.07 so it's not like there is any rush. It's just exciting. She's also the most beautiful girl in the world. That last picture looks like she's trying to breakdance. JM


Matthew 9:14-17

You're doing great. Everything is going well in your ministry. Things are clicking along nicely. Your volunteers are excited, your students are passionate, and your parents are supportive. All of a sudden, like from out of nowhere, somebody decides to criticize you. They don't like that the scarcity of activities. They don't like the message topics. They don't like the loud music. People like to bring you down. If you're succeeding then you must be doing something wrong. Especially if others are not succeeding. Unfortunately for me, I haven't been succeeding lately. It's tempting for me to get excited about other people's struggles. It's a selfish desire I have. I pray that God will take it away and when I hear of other's struggles, I will instead be motivated to pray. JM

Day 1

Today was the first day that I ran in 2007. Not a good sign, especially since I want to run 1,000 miles this year. I ran 1.93 miles tonight. Not a lot. I wasn't running to distance, I was running to time - 20:00. Slow, I know, but not slow enough. My heart rate was running in the mid 160's. I'd like to keep it in the low 150's. Next time I'll have to adjust my pace to match that. I think what I'll start doing is posting my weekly, monthly, and yearly mileage and time in each running post.
A little background on my running. I've run off and on for about 10 years now. I've never taken it seriously for more than 6 months at a time. My PR's are pathetic. The closest I come to respectable is a 5k in 22:27. In the fall of 2003 I was running 40 miles a week and able to run 21:00 or so for 5k. I was training for a half marathon with a goal time of 1:40:00. Then I got patellar tendonitis, moved, had a kid, and got fat. So we'll see how I do this time around. Hopefully this will be a form of accountability for me.
Week - 1.93 - 20:00
Month - 1.93 - 20:00
Year - 1.93 - 20:00


Discipline - training to act in accordance with rules
Getting rid of a habit and resisting temptation is tough. It requires discipline. You have to replace a bad habit with something. If you're tempted to eat when you're bored, then when you're bored you should do a crossword puzzle. If you're tempted to view porn when you're alone, you should limit internet access to only when others are around. If you're tempted to procrastinate when you only have a final deadline, you should set up intermediary deadlines. JM


So I ran across a newsclip talking about this site called The Blasphemy Challenge. Basically they challenge people to say "I deny the Holy Spirit" in a video and post it on youtube. I think it's sad that they are preying on the rebellious spirit of teens in trying to get them to embrace atheism and reject spirituality.
So I was watching some of the videos and ran across this one. It is especially interesting to me because the guy that is taking the "challenge" was raised in a Christian home. He embraced Christianity as a child. Somehow the church failed to connect him to a real sense of the spiritual and probably to spiritual disciplines as well. I think he was also burned because of the horrific example he had from within his church. He notes in his video that he was baptized by Joe Simpson, the father of Ashlee and Jessica Simpson. Joe Simpson used to be a youth pastor, but from viewing the Newlyweds show that used to be on MTV, he has pretty much abandoned any evidence of Christianity in his life.
It saddens me that the church is so ineffective at helping students deepen their faith. We're so dependent on programming to pacify students. Then once they leave for college, they don't have that programming, so they have no way of staying connected to Church and God.


Seth Godin posted today about powerpoint and how it is so often misapplied. If you've sat through any powerpoint presentation, it's probably been bad. People love to have bullets and list out exactly what they are saying. The problem with that is that I can hear. I understand what the speaker is saying so I don't need to read the exact same content. Seth offers some great advice on how to use powerpoint to deepen your presentation.
On a related note, this powerpoint presentation cracks me up because it's so bad, but that's kind of the point. JM


The Amazing Power Of Faith

Today's message at my church was awesome. We're going through a series called "The Amazing Race: The Four Clues to have a Great 2007". God really used it to speak to me on a very personal level.
Some of the highlights for me "What would I attempt if I knew I could not fail?" Man, that really hits at my fear of leading a church. I feel like God is really leading me in that direction, but I'm so scared of failing.
He also talked about how God will give us the What, How, and When. I know I have the what, but now I need to pursue the how and when. So I'm going to keep researching and praying so that I can discover those last two.
The last thing that really hit me was that "Faith is being willing to risk failure." This kind of goes along with what I read in Prayer of Jabez today as far as living with a dependence on God. It's easy for me to stay in my comfort zone. But stepping out of that to where I have to look beyond myself is difficult because I have to rely on God. It's sad that I so often fail to rely on him when I should look to him first.
Everything I've been doing lately is really pointing me in the lead pastor direction. It's really exciting for me. JM

Matthew 9:9-13

I love that "sinners" felt comfortable around Jesus. I think that's a great example for us to follow. I'm sure he talked to them about their sin. And I'm sure that they were extremely aware that he was different. Nevertheless they still hung out with him. I think it's because he offered them hope. Here was a guy that was happy, and didn't sin. He lived a life that was others-focused and had a great time. The sinners felt empty even though they were enslaved to selfishness. It makes me think about what I can do to make sure that sinners are comfortable around me. I want to display the reason for the hope that I have prominently, but I want people to feel like they can be real around me. JM

The Prayer Of Jabez

Pretty interesting little book. I'm going to try praying it every day for 30 days. While I certainly don't believe that there is anything magical about the actual prayer, there certainly must be something to praying for those things specifically. I think it will also make me more aware of God's blessing in my life.
My greatest takeaway was the power of being convinced that God can do anything and asking him to perform miracles for his glory. "Because for the Christian, dependence is just another word for power." I love that line. The more I am dependent on God, the more I have to rely on his power as opposed to my own gifts and talents. That right there is enough reason to pray that God would overwhelm me. JM

Inspiration From Ketchup

Sometimes you can find the most profound things in the most unusual places. At lunch today I glanced at the back of the heinz ketchup bottle and noticed this statement "To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success." How awesome is that? It's common to want to communicate the truth of the gospel. All churches and all Christians are in this business. Or at least they should be. So why not do it uncommonly well. Focus on doing it better than anybody has ever done. We should be striving for excellence as opposed to just getting the job done. It was definitely the most encouraging and inspirational thing I've ever read on the back of a condiment bottle. JM

Blogging Church

I just got my copy of The Blogging Church today. I'm so excited. I really think it will help me a lot as far as using my blog and then encouraging my church to embrace blogging technology. I'll probably try to read Prayer of Jabez today so that I can start reading The Blogging Church tonight. JM



I love having my laptop because I don't have to deal with the internet filter that's on the computers at church. Not that I'm trying to get to porn or anything, but my wife can get to myspace, I can use google image search, and I can go on youtube. I've been reading about how to film and edit video here, so it makes me want to design stuff for my ministry. I'm trying to think of something I can do to promote an upcoming program or event. I'm also enjoying finding old music videos to kind of relive my childhood. Here's a good one. JM

Paid In Full

We paid off another credit card today. It's such an exciting feeling for me. I can't wait until we're debt free. We're down to about $8,000 in debt besides our house. We should be fully out of debt by spring of 2008. Then we'll get to move into a new house that summer and hopefully never have to worry about debt payments again. My only concern is having to buy a car, but I think we will have enough time to save up some cash to get that used minivan I've always wanted. It's weird to think about, but I really want a minivan. They're just so stinking practical for families. Hopefully I can get an odyssey. I wish I could add it to my amazon wish list. Then maybe somebody would buy it for me. JM

Matthew 9:1-8

I love the first line Jesus says to this paralyzed guy "Be encouraged, young man. Your sins are forgiven." It's kind of like he's saying, okay, I know you're paralyzed, but at least you get to go to heaven. If everybody hadn't been thinking that it was blasphemous for him to forgive sins, I wonder if he would have healed this guy. I think it's cool that Jesus focused on the real problem, not just the temporary one. I focus on the wrong thing a lot. I like to try to fix symptoms instead of attacking the root issue. It's easier that way. You don't have to deal with as much resistance because there is usually less change involved. But God wants us to attack the core. He desires to change my desires and passions, not just my behavior. JM


Yesterday was an awesome day for me financially for two reasons. I had refinanced our house back in November. My property tax ($1100) is also due in November, so they built that into my loan. Unfortunately, my old loan had already paid the property tax. This meant that I paid twice. I had talked to the county tax collector about a month ago to find out what happened to the second check and they said that they had sent one back to the mortgage company. So after talking to the mortgage company they said they didn't have it. My money had basically disappeared into thin air. I have my insurance bill coming up ($360), and I had planned on using money from this check. Yesterday, the check magically showed up in my mailbox. Awesome.
Then, I was working on my income tax and it kept saying that I was going to owe $3600. That's a lot of money to owe. I started stressing. I fixed whatever the problem was and now we're getting a refund of $2700. That's a lot nicer. What's great is that this is all money that I had planned on. If it had all worked out exactly as I planned, I wouldn't have thought about God once. But because the situations got stressful, I'm thanking God for it now. JM


Stock Photography

If you have to do any kind of print layout or still backgrounds for worship like I sometimes do, you might struggle finding good, free pictures. I ran across this search engine the other day that searches stock photography. There aren't previews, but the pictures seem to be pretty high quality and you can find almost anything. JM


I love the Indianapolis Colts. I was born in Indianapolis, so when I started getting into football, they were the team I chose. And no I'm not a fair-weather fan. I've suffered through some rough times (3-13). I'm watching the game of the week recap of the AFC championship from last Sunday.

I love watching Peyton Manning. He's such a great leader. He knows so much about the game, but he's always trying to study and learn more. I love that he led them back after being down 21-3.

I also love that they were supposed to lose 3 weeks ago to Kansas City because they wouldn't be able to stop Larry Johnson. They were supposed to lose 2 weeks ago to Baltimore because they wouldn't be able to move the ball against such a strong defense and the Colts wouldn't be able to stop Jamaal Lewis. They were supposed to lose last week because Tom Brady is so "clutch" and Bill Bellichick is a coaching genius. And yet the Colts will play in the Super Bowl in 9 days. I'm so pumped. JM

Out Of The Pit

I just finished In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day. Pretty good read. I definitely enjoyed it, but I don't really think that I'm the books target. It seemed to be more of a "Go get 'em tiger" sort of book, and I'm more of a here is what needs to be done and here is how some people are doing it. My enjoyment level of it rose tremendously after hearing Mark speak the other night.
My greatest takeaway thought is "People who live in prayer mode see opportunities that other people don't even notice." That sentence and that whole section of the book really spoke to me since I'm really trying to organize my prayer life. Now I'm on to The Prayer Of Jabez. Not really a new book, but I've never read it, and I'm trying to focus on prayer. JM


Perry Noble pointed out this video from youtube about a Newspring attender who got his dad to go to church for the first time in 20 years. It's long (9:06), but it's informative as to what new people think about church. What I found to be interesting about it was that his dad really enjoyed the music and the whole experience in general. It shows that so long as you do something with quality, people will appreciate it, and maybe even enjoy it. JM

Meeting Of The Minds

This morning I had the opportunity to meet with Mark Batterson of National Community Church for a small group discussion of his thoughts on church and leadership.
I have a standard fear of meetings like this because they have a tendency to quickly devolve into "What's your favorite color?" or "What's on your ipod?" sort of discussions. This was not like that, thanks to Walker Maginnis for that. The other thing that tends to happen is that people say things just to hear themselves talk and so that the celebrity (Mark) will say something positive about them. We also, for the most part, avoided this as well.
It was a great time and it was awesome to hear his humility. He had some excellent thoughts on branding and marketing. My take-away from this morning is what he said about internal marketing. They try to produce all of their pieces with a commitment to quality and creativity as opposed to just producing external pieces with those traits.
Lately, I've been focusing on external pieces, but have neglected doing high quality internal marketing. I really enjoyed his insight on that. JM


Like Father

I love watching my son play. I especially love it when I see traits of me in him.

Tonight, when I got home, Noah was playing with his cars. He doesn't play with them like normal kids do, though. He clears out all of the space he can in the living room. Then he lines all of the cars up and then he takes 4 of them out for a race.

It's so awesome to watch him. Easily one of my favorite things. JM

Chase The Lion

Tonight at my church we had a men's event with Mark Batterson as the featured speaker. It was a great night. Interesting to hear Mark speak. His speaking style is very close to his writing style. A lot of times you'll see guys who are gifted at one and not the other, but he really does well in both arenas.
Several things were cool about the event tonight. First, there were about 530 men there. That's a huge turnout for our church. Second, it wasn't just our church. There were tons of other churches represented as well as tons of guests. Third, everything from the meal, to the music, to the decorations, was done with excellence. I really felt like this was a high quality event and something we should be proud of.
It was really cool to have something like that at our church. It makes me proud to be a part of it, even though I had absolutely nothing to do with this event.
Hopefully we can carry some of that momentum over to our weekly programming and channel some of those people into it. JM

Matthew 8:28-34

This passage is incredible to me. Jesus heals two men of demon possession. We see two men whose lives will be dramatically changed. They lived in burial caves at the town cemetary. People were so scared of them that they wouldn't even walk by.
Then Jesus shows up and heals these men. In doing so, a herd of pigs dies. Not too bad of a deal. But the town reacts in a peculiar way. They come out and "they begged him to leave their area." Think about that. They see that this man is able to do amazing things. They see that what he does is positive. But they are so scared by this power that they send him away. They want nothing to do with him.
This happens a lot to Christians. People we encounter don't really understand what we're doing. We live by different motivations. Even though a lot of what we do (hopefully all) is positive, they still want nothing to do with us.
My neighbors don't like to hang out with me. One neighbor who I am friends with said it's because they feel guilty about their lives when they hang around me. I don't judge them. I don't say anything about it. I try to just hang out and joke around with them. But they still feel awkward. It's a tough situation, and I don't know how to overcome it. JM


Prayer Time

I hate group prayer. Okay, I really don't so long as there are like ground rules. I hate praying for people that nobody knows (this boy in Indiana has a tumor...). I hate general prayers that aren't attached to anything that anyone is passionate about (People in Africa are sad...). I hate prayers that are for traveling (my parents are going to Florida on a vacation...). And I hate prayers for minor illnesses (my grandfather has a cold...). I wish it didn't annoy me, but it does. Group prayer to me should be about things that are important enough to go to God as a group. Not about sick puppies. JM


One of the greatest struggles of leaders is the lack of finding a mentor. We always feel like we are the ones pouring out and leading, but it is so important to have someone who can challenge you, be intimate with you, and with whom you can share your struggles. I met with mine today. We meet sporadically, but it works out to about once a month. I love the time that we get to spend together. I really feel like he challenges me. One of the great things about it is that I know that he puts time into it. He doesn't just show up and talk to me, he really thinks about what God wants him to say to me. That's the kind of person you need to have around you. Not yes people, not no people, but God people. JM

Matthew 8:23-27

I'm always amazed at how much the disciples didn't understand. Here they're in a boat with Jesus. They appeal to him to save them. Then after he calms the storm, they say to each other "what kind of man is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!" It seems like they never realized that he was God. They obviously knew that he was and continually saw evidence that he was. So why did they not get it?
I think the reason is because Jesus constantly met them on their level. He always seemed like just another guy to them. Yeah, they knew he was special, but they had trouble remembering that when they were all hanging out together.
What an awesome example for us. Instead of always trying to be so spiritual and pious, why can't we just hang out with people and let them know that we're just another guy like them. JM



My son sees every day as an adventure. He never has any idea of what he will do that day, but he knows that he will play. He might play at church, he might play with his friends, he might play with his sister, he might play with mommy and daddy. We can learn a lot from kids. I hope I can always see life as an adventure. I think I'm starting down the road to a fabulous adventure of really seeking what God has for me. JM

Matthew 8:18-22

At times Jesus seems so inaccessible. One guy tells him that he will follow Jesus any place that he goes. Jesus reply isn't "Great!" Instead, he says that he has no home. He pretty much tells the guy that it's going to be a tough existence. Then another guy tells him that he wants to bury his father before he follows Jesus. Jesus replies "Let the dead bury their own dead." I don't think that Jesus was trying to come across as mean, or inaccessible, but rather I think he was trying to expose people's weaknesses. The first guy had a security issue. He wanted to know that he would always have something. Jesus tells him that he will end up with nothing, not even a place to call home. The second guy had a dependency issue. He wanted to be able to tie up things with his family before he was ready. Jesus tells him that other things are more important. All of this seems really mean, unless you take into account what Jesus said a few chapter earlier: "Don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself." When you look at it like that, all of our insecurities and excuses melt away in the calm reassurance that Jesus has our best interest at heart. JM

Office Depot

Have you seen the new office depot ad campaign? Their new slogan is "lending you a hand" or something like that. The commercial I've seen is two swamped office employees discussing how they could really use a hand. Out of a box pops a hand that takes them to Office Depot so that they can get all of their supplies, become organized and efficient, and discover cold fusion.

I have two issues with this:

1. It is remarkably similar (potentially intellectual property level) to the Staples easy button commercials.

2. Hands coming out of boxes not attached to anything are creepy.

Oh, and after messing around on office depot's site, I can't even find the hand. They still have their old slogan. Horrible marketing. JM



I read an interesting post on race over at Michael Lukaszewski's blog today:
Imagine the fallout if Bill Belichek won the game and in the post-game interview
said, "This was a great victory not just for our team but for the whole race of
white people." He'd be unemployed.


Matthew 8:14-17

I was born in 1977. In 1980 The Empire Strikes Back came out. This movie contains the infamous line "I am your father". I grew up saying this line. My life has been lived knowing it and it's meaning. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to be in the theater and hear that. How shocking would that have been. I would have been like "Holy Crap!! What did he just say?!" That must have been incredible. I wonder what the buzz was like. Like did people know going in, or did they soil themselves when they found that out.

I grew up knowing that Jesus healed people. That he said he was God's son. I've known that all my life. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to be in this passage where Jesus is healing people. How shocking would that have been? Now that is a holy crap moment. JM


High School Musical

I saw the stage version of High School Musical tonight. Made me want to sing and dance. I really enjoyed it. I was kind of surprised at how young the audience was - average age of probably 7. I was also surprised that there was a gay character. While his actions could be perceived as simply effeminate, he definitely reacted to certain situations as if he were gay (like when the star basketball player touched his shoulder).

My wife said that it made her want to join a traveling musical theater production. I was more into the sound aspect. I wouldn't mind running front of house for something like that. I wanted to talk to them and find out how they miked all those characters. Pretty good show, though. JM

Contagious Vulnerability

Ever notice how certain things are contagious. Not just viruses, either, but like emotions and character traits. Excitement is contagious. Passion is contagious. Vulnerability is contagious, too. Today in our connection group, our leader was vulnerable about his passion for following God. It was awesome to hear him speak about it. What was even cooler, though, was how others responded. Several people opened up and shared stuff that made themselves even more vulnerable than our leader. It was an awesome time to experience. JM

Matthew 8:5-13

I wonder how hard it was for this army officer to come to Jesus. I think three things probably made it difficult for him.
1. He was a Roman and he had to ask the help of a Jew. This had to be an extremely vulnerable position for him as the Jews did not appreciate the Romans taking over their land and ruling them.
2. The request was for his servant. Servants are supposed to be dispensible. For some reason he really valued this servant.
3. He had to beg. This must have been uncomfortable for a high-ranking military guy. He probably was used to just giving a command and something being done, but here he had to beg for it. But also in the military, you earn things. You don't beg for them.
Pretty amazing amount of vulnerability shown by this guy. JM

House Hunting

We're planning on moving either in Spring or Summer of 2008. While that's over a year away, my wife and I love to look at houses, so today for our date day, which culminated with seeing High School Musical at the Fox (more on that later), we went out and looked at new homes. We saw some that we definitely loved.
Now I love to save money and live comfortably, but the one area where I am extremely tempted to overspend is on our house. We had been looking and loved a house that started at $260,000 (or $60,000 more than we should spend). We were talking over dessert about what it would take for us to get it and my wife said that she wouldn't want to have to worry about making the house payment.
It's awesome when she says stuff like that. I would want to move in, eat rice, and have no furniture. We would have an amazing house, but we would have to set the heater on 60 degrees. So we decided to go back to our original plan and try to get a more reasonable house that we can actually afford. I love my wife. JM


Avid Free DV

I downloaded Avid Free DV tonight. I don't know why more people don't take advantage of the free versions that professional software companies produce. It seems like the masses are content with Windows Movie Maker. Personally, I'd rather have the limitations of a professional application that is offered for free. The learning curve will be greater, but the capabilities are so much more immense. Hopefully I can figure it out fairly easily. It will be cool to be able to make DVD's of Noah and Ana for the family, plus creatively edit stuff just for my personal enjoyment. JM

Senior/Teaching Pastor

I took a first step towards me becoming a senior/teaching pastor today. I still think it's years away, but I typed up my resume and made it current. I probably won't start applying to positions for a while, and I'll probably revise my resume many times over the next year, but it's cool and scary to begin down that road. I'm excited about what God has in store for me.
I saw a job posting last night for Mid Rivers Baptist Chapel, which is a church just down the street from where I grew up. It might be interesting to apply to that, although they are probably looking for experience and seminary.
So now I need to create a DVD of me speaking and start looking into seminary. As far as the DVD goes, I looked around for some DVD authoring software and I discovered what kind of firewire cable I need for my laptop to communicate with our miniDV camcorder. JM

Matthew 8:1-4

Two things catch my attention here. The first is that when Jesus heals this guy with leprosy he touches him. He certainly didn't have to. I've read where people have said that it was to show compassion to this guy and the impact that physical touch can have. While that might be true, I think it also shows that Jesus is God. He can do things that are supernatural at all times. It makes the miracle even greater. I guess really it's like two simultaneous miracles, the leper is healed and Jesus doesn't contract leprosy.
The other part that is cool is that Jesus wants the man to go through the regular process of restoring himself to society because "this will show the people what I have done." Jesus chose not to buck the system. So many people talk about how he dealt with the pharisees and what a rebel he was. I think that Jesus loved the law, but he hated the pharisees' religious devotion to it as opposed to passionate devotion. Incredible. JM


Matthew 7:12-29

I can't help but focus on right after Jesus ends the sermon on the mount. It says "the people were amazed at his teaching." It goes on to say that he spoke with authority. I wonder what that means. The pharisees had the authority to teach. They certainly were devoted to what they taught.
I think the difference was the passion. Jesus taught with a passion that we can only hope to grab. That's one of the things that I need to work on. Being passionate when I speak. I'm good at being funny and making points, but I don't make them passionately. I can't wait until I get to craft passionate messages every week to help people meet and love the God who created them. What an awesome privelege. JM

Matthew 7:7-11

God is willing to give me stuff. He wants to give me stuff. All I have to do is ask. When I was in college, I had a prayer closet that had pictures of things for which I was praying. I was thinking about transferring to a different college, so there was a picture of the school, a picture of a guitar I wanted, and stuff like that. I'm going to do that same thing again. I'm going to put up a picture of a church for the church that I want to pastor, and a picture of a house, for the house we want to move into in 2008. All part of creating a more potent prayer life. JM


My wife wants new curtains for our living room. She's going to make them. So I'm thinking they'll be cheap, right. Not quite. It would take 4 panels at $90 per panel. Dang. Lots of money. I started thinking about how we like to dress up our windows in life. We feel so stuck where we are that we don't have the ability to imagine actually changing the view. We presume that the view is constant and rather than try to dramatically change what we're looking at, we just change the presentation. We add some fabric or some blinds. Imagine what God can do to change your perspective and your dreams. JM


New Book

I started reading my next book today. I'm reading "In a pit with a lion on a snowy day" in December with your grandma. I added the last part, but that stinking title is way too long. I'll read the first chapter tonight. I know it's trendy right now, but the reason I'm reading it is twofold:

  1. They are hosting a men's event at my church on 01.25.07 where Mark Batterson will present his "lion chaser's" message.

  2. I need to find a book for this year's Crucible guy's rite of passage.

So that's what I've chosen. Hopefully it's good. Everybody else seems to think so.

Matthew 7:1-6

Tonight at church I saw some people who didn't fit in. The guy had his lip pierced and was wearing a Raiders jacket. Our church is more of a clean cut, lacoste type of church. So this guy stood out pretty big. My first thought was "isn't that great that we are reaching people across socioeconomic boundaries". I had made several assumptions about him:

  1. he is poor

  2. he is a new christian

  3. he had a "hard" life

Probably none of these are true. It's sad that I think they are, though. I mean, it's great that I didn't go "who let in the trash?", but my presumptions about this young man were still there. I hope one day I can get past all of my judging and just let people be who they are and let Jesus make the call.


My wife and I had a discussion tonight about how frustrating it is for her when I try to solve every problem that we encounter with logic. It's my nature. It's who I am as a person to find the root cause of things, find the solution, and discipline myself to that solution. But it's not that way for my wife, and probably most women. They love emotion. They want to argue and fight and vent. It's in their nature. They are passionate people. I could learn a lot from my wife's passion.
I'm more disciplined, but what is the point of discipline without passion. That's just religion. That's not what I want to be about. I want to have passionate discipline. Man, how amazing would that be. Imagine what God could accomplish through passionate disciples. JM


Matthew 6:25-34

Man, after holding my daughter and worrying about her because she's sick, how comforting is it to read that I don't have to worry. God has everything in his control. That statement by itself is impressive, but it's not comforting until you combine it with the fact that he is working everything out for my good (Romans 8:28). Pretty incredible combination.
Verse 33 "The thing you should want most is God's kingdom, and doing what God wants." I hope that I can truthfully say that is what I want most. I think it is, but I just have distractions like finances, pride, popularity. I wish I could minimize those distractions and just desire God's kingdom to grow. Change can only happen through prayer.
I think I'd like to work on my prayer life. I'm going to talk to a couple of people to see how I can better organize it and structure it. Not to make it stuffy, because I still want to have a sense of awe and mystery to it, but I want it to be effective. JM


My daughter is sick right now. I'm holding her as I type. It's sad because she's wicked tired, but she can't sleep because she hurts. She's way too young (10 months) to tell us what hurts, so all I can do is just hold her. Sometimes that's all we really need. JM


Matthew 6:16-24

Man, sometimes I really want stuff. Like the new IPhone, or Adobe Premier, or a Mini Cooper S. It's tough to look at that as stuff that is just going to be destroyed. I know I'm only here temporarily, but 80 years is a long stinking time. Until you compare it with eternity. I think it's okay for us to desire those things, and even acquire them, but we can't place our hope and joy in them. JM

Quiet Times

I missed two quiet times on the days I was sick. I started to feel guilty about it. But that's not what God wants. He doesn't want religious devotion to something. He wants our affectionate devotion. He wants us to "miss" our quiet times. I'm not sure if I'm there yet, but I'm definitely getting closer. JM

Sick Days

I haven't posted in two days. Something must be wrong. Well, yeah. My wife, my son, and myself were all ill throwing up and pooping down all night on Saturday night. I learned that my son is amazing. He would get up, go to the bathroom, throw up, and then go back to bed, all without us doing anything. I also learned that friends are amazing. A great friend came and picked up our daughter on Sunday morning and took her all day so that she wouldn't become sick.
Being ill is horrendous. Glad it's over. Just trying to get my energy back now. JM



So one of my goals for this year was to read 18 books. I finished my first one last night: "Simple Church". Pretty good, although I felt like a lot of it was covered in "Breakout Churches", but the ideas certainly deserved to be implemented. The main focus is on creating a simple ministry process for your church, helping the church understand that process, aligning all ministries in the church to that process, and eliminating anything that doesn't fit into that process. My favorite line is when he is talking about how to transition your church from complex to simple he says regarding timing "Get there as fast as you can but not faster". Good advice. JM


Mountain Dew MDX

Just saw a commercial for Mountain Dew MDX pumping their new site. What's cool about it is at the end of the odd commercial there is a random question on items that were in the commercial. Pretty cool concept for them. It's an energy drink, so in theory it should help me stay alert and notice stuff like that. Plus it turns it into a challenge. People love challenges. It would be cool to transition this idea into church marketing somehow. JM

Matthew 6:5-15

I do so much of my spiritual life as a show. I desire to be seen as spiritual. It's really sad. I think it's becoming more of a desire now to just sit and be with God, but I definitely need to spend more time in prayer. I love how Jesus says that God already knows the things we need, so just talk to him. Man, that's an awesome thought that all God wants from me in prayer is for me to talk to him. The creator of the universe just wants to have a conversation with me.


I love organizing things. I don't so much care about the cleanliness of something, but I really care if it is straight, in the right place, and lined up with everything else. I do this with almost everything. My garage has been an issue and I needed to organize it some so that I could park my car back in there after adding on my son's power wheel jeep to our vehicle list.

Today, I got my shelves. I'm so pumped. It needs to be organized better, but right now everything fits, and that's a good start. When I get to do stuff like this, it gives me a high that lasts a couple of days. Weird, I know. JM

Every New Day

One of the ways that I've been able to keep my job interesting and exciting is by taking on new responsibilities. I've been charged with maintaining our church's home page, and I've also been doing some layout design for sermon series and the like. Here's the most recent.

It's for a 2-week series we'll be doing in February. It hasn't been approved yet, or seen by anybody really, so it will probably get revised some. I'm still using Publisher because I don't know how to use InDesign yet, but hopefully my next one will be done with InDesign. JM

New Stuff

I love getting new stuff. Especially when it is something that is high quality. When we got married we got a cheap nasty vacuum.

Today, after our old vacuum broke this week, we got a nice, fancy new vacuum, the Eureka 4870GZ.

It was a consumer digest best buy and really highly rated on amazon. It has a switch where you can turn off the brush and use it on bare floors. I love it. JM


I think parental supervision plays such a huge part in raising children who are good. In my neighborhood, the parental supervision level is exceptionally low. I think there is probably a correlation between income level and the amount of supervision children receive.

There is a gang of kids in my neighborhood that are always riding bikes, scooters and other things in the middle of the street. Average age of this pack is probably around 6. I think that is WAY too young to let children play in a neighborhood unsupervised. Here is a picture I took this afternoon as the gang cruised through on their bikes, scooters, and now a jeep. All in the middle of the street. Something bad could easily happen. I hope it doesn't. JM


Church League Basketball

We have two youth teams that play basketball in the local church league, and tonight they played each other. The skill level is pretty low, as is the scoring. I always wonder what the purpose of church league is. I mean, I know what the purpose was originally, but wouldn't it be awesome if you took one team of students and let them represent our church in a city rec league? And they wouldn't be pushovers. You could have them practice and really take it seriously. Then after they kill some other team, they could win graciously. And if they lost, they could lose graciously. And if the other team was playing rough, they could respond in a Christ-like manner. Man, that seems like it might have more of an impact on our culture than some church league sport. But I guess you can file that under not my decision. JM

Matthew 6:1-4

I always act like I don't want recognition for stuff I do. And I really think I don't. But deep down inside of me their is that desire to be famous. Not like famous in the hollywood, rock star, big sunglasses sense, but in the "that Josh Mc Alister is one great guy sense." I want all the credit. That's why I like running sound. The goal of any sound person, I think, is to be unnoticed. You don't want anything to take away from the performance, whether it be mixing, micing, or cueing. The goal is to have all of the attention focused up front, and nothing on you. It's good for me to do that. JM

Church Promotion

So I love looking at other churches print promotion for upcoming series or events. It helps me get ideas as I critique what other people have done. A church near us does lots of direct mailings.
The two most recent are both 1/2 sheet postcard flyers. The first was an inviation to their Christmas eve service. On the front was a picture of "Santa", but he was bent over and the focus of the picture was on his butt with the caption "No ifs, ands, or butts". On the other side it explained what to expect at their service.
The other card was describing a series they are doing on sex. The front of the card had two sets of feet poking out from under a blanket with the words "pure sex" under it (a not so slight rip-off of the my lame sex life series at Granger Community Church).
Both cards had their slogan/catchphrase "We're a church for anyone, but not for everyone."
Now I know that all marketing is, or at least should be done, with a specific market in mind. But I always wondered how people outside of that market would respond. I just found a little bit of insight into this.
I was looking for something on the middle school hall at our church. This hall is shared by middle school at one hour an senior adults during the second hour. On one of the bulletin boards were both of these postcards taped with a copy of a letter from one of our members to the pastor of the postcard church. The letter basically said "I am so offended." It also said that our member would be praying that the pastor would get right with the Lord and that she would never set foot in their church. It also noted that she had kept the card and looked at it occasionally with disgust, which is pretty funny.
Obviously the cards need to come down and have the reason why explained to our member. But I hope that the pastor of the other church wasn't discouraged by the letter from our member. Marketing and churches are for specific markets. While I don't think we should necessarily try to offend other markets, I think it is important we shoot for our market unapologetically. If we don't, then we're unremarkable, and that's not the kind of Christian that I desire to be. JM


Ministry Process and Middle School Students

So I went over my middle school ministry process with my middle school students tonight. I do it once each semester, and I'm always glad that I do. Not one student knew what our process was and most didn't know what programs served which purpose. A lot didn't even know what our entry program was. I think the more that they understand it, the more it will help them know what programs they should be pushing with their friends. JM

Matthew 5:43-48

Verse 44 says "Pray for those who hurt you." I think that is one of the hardest things to do. I had somebody hurt me deeply when I was a kid. It still impacts my life today. I know I react to certain situations because of what this person did to me. If I think about it for a long period, I still get angry about it. I might go into a little bit of detail about it someday, but not today. I'm not ready, and that's not what this is about.
The thing is, I can remember the first time that I ever prayed for the person that hurt me. All I could get out was "God, help Bill". It felt good to be able to say that. I'm still don't think that I've forgiven this person (their name isn't Bill), but I'm getting closer. Perhaps that's why God wants us to pray for those who hurt us. Maybe it's all part of the process of forgiveness. JM

Windows Vista, I Hardly Knew Ye

So their removing Vista off of my computer. It's probably better that way. I'll be going back to Windows XP Pro. I'm much more familiar with it, so it's for the best. Plus, this way I can just wait on Vista to come out with service pack II to fix all the bugs. Being first in line is great, unless it's software. Also, I have no idea if it's pronounced "Vista" or "Veesta". JM


New Tricks

The problem with learning new things is that even though the end result may lead to something better and/or more efficiently produced, to learn it takes time. Probably more time to learn that it would be to produce the original way. Subsequent times would be faster and/or better, but it's all about sucking it up for that first time.
I just installed Windows Vista and am struggling to use it. It's frustrating. I'm also about to install Office 2007 and InDesign CS2. So lots of frustrations in the near forecast. JM


Bedtime is my favorite time of the day. First I get to lay my daughter down (10 months) in her crib. It's fun because she loves being in there and then she gets extremely excited when I giver her a bottle. It's so much fun to watch her attack it.

Then I get to lay my son down (2.5 years old). First I read him a Bible story, we go over the questions and then pray. And then he reads a book to me. It's usually The Berenstain's B Book. It's great because he looks at the pictures and kind of walks through what he knows it says because I've read it to him at least 50 times. It's just really cute to hear him say the words.
Then I get to lay my wife down. This usually involves a back rub. I really don't like doing it, but it is nice that every night I get to spend time with her even if it's just watching TV together while I rub her back.
Lastly, I get to lay myself down. I almost always fall asleep instantly. Bedtime is awesome. JM

Matthew 5:33-42

I hate prideful people. I was talking to a friend tonight and he was telling me something that he heard at passion. He's been dealing with a guy that he has trouble getting along with because of the pride and showiness of this other dude. This speaker at passion was talking about how we should still humble ourselves even when other people are prideful. God will bring the prideful person down and if we are not bent over in humility, we'll get knocked down with them. Kind of makes you think about how we should respond when we have to put up with difficult people. I pray that I'm always able to take the pure and humble way, even thought that's not my typical nature. When my pride gets threatened, especially when it comes to intellect or ministry, I like to boast about what I can achieve. Pretty sad considering God has given me every gift that I have. I don't really consider myself a prideful person, but I'm starting to realize that I'm wrong. JM


Ministry Process - Part II

The other day I talked about how my church is creating a ministry process and my initial thoughts on what it should look like (you can read it here). Basically my equation that I came up with was:
People + Christ = Justification
Justification + Teaching + Encouraging = Transformation = God's desire for the church.
So I started to think about what that might look like in a tangible phrase and I came up with:
Trust God, Follow God, Serve God
Here's how it matches up. To trust God is to have salvation, or justification. Once you have that then you need to follow God, which you do with teaching and encouraging to learn the disciplines of the Christian faith and then live that out in your daily life. Lastly comes serving God where you contribute to helping others trust God.
So if I were to assign programs to them it would be
Trust God - Worship Experience
Follow God - Small Groups
Serve God - Ministry Position
I debated different wordings on all of the phrases:
Trust God - Love God, Know God
Follow God - Love God, Obey God
Serve God - Love God, Live For God, Serve The World
I really like what I came up with, though. We're supposed to talk about it some more tomorrow during staff meeting, so we'll see how that goes. JM

Matthew 5:27-30

Man, how tough is this verse for guys: "But I tell you that if anyone looks at a woman and wants to sin sexually with her, in his mind he has already done that sin with the woman." Gee Whiz. Talk about raising the bar. One of my goals for this year was to really focus on purity. Talk about a hard assignment. Basically my goal is to not pursue anything that would distract me from purity and to not focus on it when it comes across my path. And I know it will. It already has tons of times.
Guys are just so visually driven that we can't help but notice it. I want to try to conquer that. JM


Tornadoes and the beauty of marriage

Part of what amazes me about being married is how opposite two people who love each other can be. Simple things. Tonight there was a tornado warning in our county. We don't have tornado sirens or a basement, so my wife wanted for all of us to huddle in the downstairs bathroom (interior room of the house). My preference and what I was doing until she ordered me in there was to look out the storm door with my sun to see the storm. If a tornado comes, I want to see it first, and then I'll take cover. My wife, who is much smarter, would rather protect her family first. It's just wonderful to me that our differences bring balance to our lives. Awesome. JM

Little Miss Sunshine

I just finished watching Little Miss Sunshine. If you can handle the F-bomb being dropped in rather copious amounts, then this is an extremely funny, and to an extent, moving film. At the end of the film the family rallies around their youngest member and places themselves in an uncomfortable and embarassing situation all so that the youngest girl won't be embarassed. The shepherd in me loves that. Really a good film, though. JM

Matthew 5:21-26

Relationships are so important. Especially the power of friendship. Verse 25 talks about how you should become friends with your enemies if they are trying to do things against you legally. I know that's kind of a stretch, but I think what's cool to think about is the leniency that come with being someone's friend. Kind of an allusion to what God did for me. Because I'm God's friend, I don't have to stand trial and be condemned for everything that I owe. I can just point to my friendship with God and let that carry me through. It's the magic blanket of friendship that covers over grievances.
Kind of fun to think about. Thank you Jesus. JM


Prayers Of A 2-Year Old

So last night I had to watch six kids all by myself. Ages on the kids were 4, 4, 2, 2, 2, and 10 months. Needless to say it was pretty live. At dinner time my 2.5 year old Noah says the prayer for the pizza. This is how it goes: "Dear Jesus, thank you for Noah pizza, thank you for Daddy pizza, thank you for Trey pizza, thank you for Mia pizza, thank you for Millie pizza, thank you for Caroline pizza. Amen." It was the coolest thing in the world to hear. I love it that he is starting to figure things out. It's awesome that he personalized the prayer for everybody too.

I love this kind of prayer so much more than that stupid "God our Father" song. That's not talking to God, that's getting through some formality before you can eat. I want my son to know that praying before a meal is an opportunity to thank God for what he has provided and the people he has provided to share it with. JM

Matthew 5:17-20

So Jesus came to fulfill the law. Verse 20 is really interesting: "I tell you that if you are no more obedient than the teachers of the law and the pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Jesus is setting people up to make sure they know that they will never earn their way into heaven. The pharisees were insane about keeping the law. That's all they cared about. They were uber-religious about it. Then Jesus says that you have to do even more than that to get into heaven. Obviously it would be nearly impossible to better than they were doing, so they must have been missing something.
Jesus was trying to point back to himself. I've done something more than the pharisees because I've placed my faith in Jesus alone and not in my religious devotion to rules. My devotion to rules flows out of my love for Jesus, and that's a key difference.
Jesus always had a cool way of putting things. He always made you think. Made things real and impacting. I wish I could adopt some of that style into my speaking. There's so much about Jesus that is amazing. JM

Men's Ministry

So I've seen several places that mention that the best way to reach families is by reaching men. If you reach the woman you have a 17% chance of reaching her family. If you reach the man you have an 87% chance of reaching the family. That's a pretty significant statistic. I didn't really understand why that would be until New Year's Eve.
My wife and I went to two different parties. When we left the first one she said to me that she wished that we could stay at that party because I get along with those guys better. My wife gets along with everybody. She just likes to be around people. I'm a bit more difficult because I'm not much of a man's man kind of guy. I'm not overly effeminate, but just not your prototypical alpha-male.
So wives are willing to sacrifice so that their husbands are connecting with other males.
I don't think that separating men's ministry out is the way to achieve reaching males. They need to enjoy and appreciate every aspect of the ministry that our church is doing.
I think this even carries down to students. I try to tailor my middle school ministry to what would be appealing to boys. If I have lots of boys, I remain fairly confident that the girls will come, even if it's just to look at all of the boys. JM


Matthew 5:13 - 16

Verse 16 is awesome. It's Jesus basic method of evangelism: "Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your father in heaven." There are two keys here. One is obvious: do good things. Lots of them. The way people should be able to recognize that we're connected to God is by all of the good things we do. It always makes me sad to talk to people who wait tables and how they hate waiting on people who just got out of church. They're usually the rudest, most demanding, and least appreciative customers out there. Pretty sad.

The other part of this verse is that our lives need to be lived in public view of non-believers. If we surround ourselves with Christians and all the good things we do are for those who already believe, how will anyone ever be able to see it. We have this typical mindset that says once you meet my criteria, then we can hang out and be friends. Pretty pathetic. JM

Nap Time

So we're trying to get Ana to only take one nap during the day. To do this we try to hold her off from sleeping until around 1:00 PM (she wakes up around 8:30 AM). This way she sleeps for a couple of hours, and then wakes up around 3:30 PM. The process is repeated in the afternoon trying to keep her up until at least 7:30 PM. But this way she sleeps 12 - 13 hours at night. It's awesome.

But it's tough trying to keep her up. This was taken at like 12:50 PM today when she was about to go down for a nap. She had just finished her corn dog and was full and tired. She's so stinking cute. JM

Take A Stand

My daughter is amazing. She'll be 10 months on Sunday and she already can stand by herself. Not for a long time or anything, but she can stand up just from sitting down. It's awesome to watch. I think she'll be walking within the next month or so. And she knows how to wave bye-bye. It's awesome to watch. JM

Goals Descriptions

1. Bring middle school ministry process in line with overall church ministry process - Currently we have a middle school ministry process, but we are just now developing one for our church. So once it is created and finalized, I'll just align what I do with that.
2. Do no programming simply to do programming - I try not to do time-killer babbysitting programming, but I still do some. I ended a program this fall that I felt was basically babysitting. What I'll have to watch out for is the programs that tend to pop up either to accomodate church-wide programs or to fill in "slow" times.
3. Have over 75 students and 25 visitors at our Super Bowl party - This is one of the biggest things we do all spring. Last year we had 72 students and 16 visitors there. I'm hoping we can increase both of those a little bit.
4. Create a time sheet for each week to budget time better - I'm hoping this can alleviate some of the stress between my wife and I. I'm pretty good about making sure that I don't always work, but it sure is tempting. This will also hopefully help me apportion the right amount of time to the right things.
5. Improve front-end portion of Crucible - The Crucible is our 8th-grade guys rite of passage event. It's a weekend event that has about 7 weeks of study on the front-end. I'd like to make this portion a bit more thought-provoking. This is the coolest thing I get to do all year. It's awesome.
6. Improve Chrysalis - This is the 8th-grade girls rite of passage event. It's a good idea, but it needs some attention, direction, and modification to make it life-impacting.
7. Have over 75 students attend D-Now - I can't remember how many we had last year, but I'm pretty sure we'll hit this number.
8. Have over 150 students and 75 visitors at Mission Impossible - This is the biggest outreach event we do all year. It's awesome. Last year we had 126 students and 68 visitors.
9. Spend at least 2 hours per week on UpRising opening - This is the opening for our Sunday morning small groups. Normally I spend about 20 minutes on it because it's a lower priority. With me doing less now, I can do more things with excellence. The opening is only about 20 minutes long, so 2 hours should be way more than enough time to bring in some creativity and excellence.
10. If UpRising small group attender misses 3 weeks in a row, they get a call and a card from both their leader and a peer - In our area, you can easily miss 2 weeks in a row, but 3 weeks in a row kind of shows some effort to not come. Currently they'll just get a call or an email from their leader. I'd like to increase that to a card and a call from both their leader and a friend.
11. Age and gender grade all A-Teams - Right now we would need to add 2 leaders in order to accomplish this, but I think it is probably our most pressing need. A-Teams our are small group discipleship classes, so I'd like to keep the topics relative and the sizes small (4-6 students).
12. Have crew teams have a gig at least once a week - Our crew teams (ministry teams) are currently under-utilized, so I think setting up expectations like this will help make sure they get the opportunities they need to minister.
13. Have all student ministers read "contemplative youth ministry" - This book is expressing ideas that I've had for the last couple of years. It's amazing. I haven't even finished it yet, and it's changing how I look at ministry to students.
14. Have at least 4 student ministers attend at least a portion of the NYWC - This is the National Youth Workers Convention, which will have a conference here in Atlanta this year. So I'd like to have several of my workers go to get some training. (I'm going to try to go to the whole thing.)
15. Develop a functional outreach program where students will attend consistently and be presented with the gospel - I've revised our outreach program at least 4 times in the 3 years that I've been here. I'm doing it again. This fall we created a program that was good for getting guests, but it didn't have consistent numbers (some weeks low 20's and some weeks mid 40's). I'm trying to create something that kids will enjoy so they will invite their friends and can hear an applicable Biblical-based message containing the gospel.
16. Have my title changed to remove associate and more accurately reflect what I do - Currently my title is Associate Youth Minister. Since I came, my position has fleshed out to be running the middle school ministry, the creative elements of the youth ministry, and creative development of overall church ministry. What my title should be, I can't say. Probably something like Minister of Middle School and Creative Elements. That's a horrible title, but at least it's more accurate.
So that's what I'd like to accomplish. We'll see how it goes. JM


Discipleship Equation

So my boss wants us to come up with a ministry process for our church. He started off by giving us the equation of People + Christ = Transformation. I think that People + Christ = Justification. While justification is a form of transformation, to say that this type of transformation is what God desires the church to be doing is incorrect, or at least not fully correct.
The church is supposed to teach, encourage, and grow strong (I Corinthians 14:26,31). If all we are seeking is justification, that is growth, but not growing strong, teaching, or encouraging.
I think the end goal of the church is to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus doesn't stop at salvation, or even baptism, but he continues to say "teach them to obey everything that I have taught you."
People + Christ = Justification
Justification + Teaching + Encouraging = Transformation = God's desire for the church.
If this is true, then to design a process for church ministry would require avenues for introducing people to Jesus, teaching them the disciplines of the Christian faith, and encouraging them as they grow. As people are transformed, they would need to be provided opportunities to serve and lead both inside and outside our church.
I'll probably develop my design based on this thought-process. JM

Ministry Goals 2007

So my boss wanted us to come up with our goals for our ministry for 2007. So I came up with this list for the middle school ministry:
1. Bring middle school ministry process in line with overall church ministry process.
2. Do no programming simply to do programming.
3. Have over 75 students and over 25 visitors at our Super Bowl Party.
4. Create a time sheet for each work week to budget time better.
5. Improve front-end portion of Crucible.
6. Improve Chrysalis.
7. Have over 75 students attend D-Now.
8. Have over 150 students and over 75 visitors at Mission Impossible.
9. Spend at least 2 hours per week on Uprising opening.
10. If Uprising small group attender misses 3 weeks in a row, they get a card and a call from both their teacher and a peer.
11. Age grade all A-Teams.
12. Have crew teams have a gig at least once per quarter.
13. Have all student ministers read Contemplative Youth Ministry.
14. Have at least 4 middle school student ministers attend at least a portion of the NYWC.
15. Develop a functional outreach program where students will attend consistently and be presented with the gospel.
16. Have my title changed to remove associate and more accurately reflect what I do.
I'll break each of these out for individual posts to explain them in more detail later, but I wanted to get them all down first. JM

Be Happy

Matthew 5:1-12 is typically known as the beatitudes (I have no idea how to really spell that). But for me it's more of a list of qualities I don't have. How condemning is it to read that I should want to do right more than anything else, or that I should show mercy, or that I should be pure in my thinking? Man that's a tough list of stuff. Some of them are easy for me, but these three are pretty tough.
I act like I want to do right more than anything else. But deep down, I desire to do what's right for me.
As for mercy, I don't desire mercy, I desire accountability without mercy. Mercy is emotional. The only time I desire it is when I need it, which happens to be nearly constantly.
But the last one of these three is the worst. I am the least pure person I know. My motives are always impure for things. I feel like I secretly desire my own glory. It's tough to separate that out from the male desire to be a success in his profession.
But also the purity of my mind leaves something to be desired. It's a constant struggle for me. As I'm sure it is with most guys. Always good to have something to desire and to strain to achieve. If we're not improving ourselves, we're just dying. JM


Get Used

We have some friends that are very wealthy. A lot of times they will end up paying for stuff for us. We're always appreciative because we don't have a lot of money. But sometimes I wonder if they think that we're just using them. Do they think that we wouldn't hang out if it was us that had to pay for dinner that night? I hope not.
Jesus probably felt used a lot. I just read Matthew 4:23 - 25 and it talks about how all the sick from all over Syria were coming to him to be healed. People weren't coming to worship him. They weren't coming to listen to his message. They were coming out of selfish motivations. I bet that was frustrating.
But the paragraph end with this: "Many people...followed him." I think Jesus knew something that the church is just now starting to grasp. In order to reach people, you have to fill a need of theirs. People don't naturally care about God. They care about themselves. Until you can show them that what you provide benefits them, they're not going to be interested in what you have to say. But filling a felt need is like an open door to showing them that the best way to be selfish and lead a meaningful life is by discipling yourself to Jesus standard. Interesting. JM

Matthew 4:12 - 22

So you're hanging out at work. Doing nothing. Just the regular tasks of the family business. Some guy walking by on the street stops in the office and says "Come, follow me." What do you do? Can you imagine actually going with the guy? That's what the disciples did. Kind of shows you that people could tell that Jesus wasn't just an ordinary guy. He probably walked differently, talked differently, and acted differently. You could probably just tell that he was special. I know if I asked people to come follow me I'd probably be given a restraining order. Pretty incredible.
It's also cool to look at the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus. Jesus ministry didn't start until John was in prison. I wonder why? Maybe he didn't want to steal any of John's ministry. Who knows. Once Jesus started his ministry he preached the same message that John did: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.
By the way, John the Baptist is my favorit Biblical figure. JM

Pajama Party

Noah had his first real sleepover friend the other night. Here are Noah and Millie getting ready to go to bed. Millie was transferred to her own bed shortly after the story finished to prevent any rumors floating around preschool. Well, and because they would have killed each other.

Later that night at like 4:00 am I found Millie downstairs crying for her daddy after she had changed back into her clothes and turned on all of the lights. Pretty funny. JM


How much time do we spend fulfilling expectations that aren't there? We ordered Chinese tonight, and along with everything else we received a bag full of soy sauce, duck sauce, and sweet and sour sauce. We never open this bag. I wonder how many people do the exact same thing.

Perhaps we are a rarety and the average Chinese food consumer consumes the contents of the bag. We do not. If we are not the minority, how much does the bag and its contents cost the Chinese restaurant? If they discontinued providing these, how much money would they save?

In church work we spend a lot of time doing things that we don't want to do, or that aren't productive simply because we perceive that the expectation is there to continue those programs, even though nobody may even desire them.

How liberating is it when you only do the things you want to do that actually produce results? One day I may find out. JM



I love budgeting. Like I get way into it. I'm setting up my personal budget for 2007. I think I got it so it will work. It's like a game trying to get it so it will balance. Once I get my monthly budget to balance, then I go through and do my spending plans for each paycheck. That's fun, too. Trying to see when to pay the bills. Mostly, I just love having a plan. It makes life so much easier. JM

Pump It Up

So my 2.5 year old son went to a place called pump it up today. It's like a big indoor playground with loads of inflatable games. The problem was that when we told him where he was going, he kept saying the pumpkin patch. He loved the pumpkin patch, and I knew he would love pump it up as well. But I didn't want him to be confused. I get like this a lot. I think something is going to turn out differently than it does. I get all excited about my perceived result, but it doesn't come. So when the real result happens, I'm disappointed, even though it may even be a good thing. It all comes down to keeping your expectations real. JM

Matthew 4:1 - 11

Two things strike me as interesting about this passage.
First, verse 2 says "Jesus ate nothing for forty days and nights. After this, he was very hungry." What an understatement. Of course the guy was very hungry. Sure he was all God, but he was also all man. I wouldn't have made it past day one. I've never made a full day of fasting without a protein shake.
Second, in verse 3 Satan comes to tempt Jesus. He doesn't offer him food. Well, he does, but it's under the pretense of a dare. He challenges who Jesus is. Look at it: "The devil came to Jesus to tempt him, saying, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these rocks to become bread.'" I think Satan does this to us too. He waits until we're tired or distracted and then attacks our potential weakness. So he attacks our patience when we're tired. He attacks our pride when we're focusing on our patience. It's a smart tactic. It helped me to know how he works. After all, G.I. Joe says "Knowing is half the battle"! JM

The year of 500 Posts

One of my new year's resolutions for 2007 is to post at least 500 times to this blog. That's about 1.5 a day. One of my plans to accomplish this is to use this blog as an online journal of my quiet times. This will hopefully provide me with some accountability since the whole world will know if I miss a quiet time (the whole world = me and any random person that happens to stop by). We'll see how it goes. JM


Stage Awkwardness

One of the most uncomfortable feelings is when awkwardness is coming from a stage. I was just watching a giveaway during the halftime of the Fiesta bowl. A guy was throwing a football through a hole to win $100,000. After he did it, they told him he was getting a new house as well. Great stuff for him. The problem was that he was being paraded around like a puppet by the announcer. "Bring in your family", "Jump through the hole", do this, do that. Not a pretty moment. It becomes uncomfortable to watch when people don't have the right reactions, or people miss their cues.
My church is really bad about this, especially at the end of our worship hours. There are missed handoffs all over the place. As soon as the commitment song is over, someone is supposed to pray for the offering. But there is usually dead air. Then there is dead air afterwards as the host is unsure of what to do. The confusion makes everyone uncomfortable, right at the moment when you want to leave them feeling good.
The more you can communicate what is going to happen to people that will be on stage, the better things will go for you. It's always better to overcommunicate. JM

Beep! Beep!

My son was given a jeep by a family that lives nearby. It's not a real jeep, rather a power wheels kind. All the better as he struggles to drive this one, and would probably be much more dangerous behind the wheel of a larger vehicle. The problem is that the jeep doesn't fit in our garage. Rather, it doesn't fit in our garage along with our other two vehicles. So my car loses out and has to be parked outside.

Therefore, my most immediate desire is some nice storage shelving for the garage. If I can organize what we have, then we should be able to park all three of our vehicles in the garage. I wonder if we'll be able to advertise it as a 3-car garage for resale purposes. JM

Christmas Lights

I'm always sad when it's time to take down the Christmas lights. Well, not really. I'm always ready to get back to our normal living room setup. I just don't like the whole packing stuff away process. The reason why is because I would love to organize it all. Categorize it. Package it. Store it. But I don't have the time, or the proper storage materials. So what essentially ends up happening is that I just shove the stuff back into boxes. The ornaments will go back into their packaging and all of the other decorations will be boxed up. The one thing I do need to buy this year is a rubbermaid box for the Christmas tree because the old box no longer fits in our storage area thanks to us finishing off the bonus room.
So tomorrow night they'll come down and be put away for 11 months. Exciting times. JM