Joakim Noah

Man, he's talented, but Joakim Noah may be the ugliest player in college basketball. JM

Gideon Vs. The Midianites

I'm always amazed by this story. God uses Gideon and an army of 300 men to take out an army of over 100,000. That's being outnumbered 1 to 3300. I use this story to talk about courage during our Rite Of Passage event. Last year, one of the guys that runs it for me was talking about how in the army, they like to outnumber the enemy by 3 to 1 before they attack. Amazing. I love how God takes away any glory that Gideon could have possibly received by making it obvious that it wasn't just a great military strategy. The strategy was insanely stupid. But because God willed it, it worked. JM


Steps To Delinquency

I just saw this article over at cnn about two 10-year olds and a 17-year old that beat up a homeless man. Certainly the rise in this type of criminal behavior has to be at least partially attributed to the glorification and proliferation of homemade fight tapes on the internet.
But as I skimmed the article I noticed this paragraph:
"Daytona Police Sgt. Billy Walden said the teen and two boys were walking in their neighborhood around 9 p.m. when they saw 58-year-old John D'Amico. They began throwing rocks at the homeless man."
As a parent, you have to know a little bit about what your children are doing. 10-year old boys should not be walking around their neighborhood at 9:00 pm, especially with a 17-year old. I know when I was around that age, I had an older teen spend time with me, and his intentions were not good either.
Parenting is hard work. It's tough to stay on your kids, and sometimes they hate it. But man, if you care at all about them, you have to be involved in their life. JM

Matthew 14:22-23

Jesus does something amazing. He feeds 5,000 people from just a negligible amount of food. Then he sends his helpers away, and all of the 5,000 people and goes off by himself to pray. How incredible is that?
Every time that God uses me to do something, I don't immediately go to pray. No, I'd rather sit and think about it, share the news with lots of people, and glory in how I'm suddenly effective. But Jesus wasn't like that. He went off to pray. By himself. The more I study the life and ministry of Jesus, the more I realize how pathetic my prayer life is. JM

My Backyard

We bought our house new. When we bought it they gave us $3500 worth of sod. That worked out to covering all of the frontyard and about half of the backyard. We've been here a little over 3 years now, and I still have dirt in my backyard.
So now I'm sick of looking at it. I'm going to try to buy some seed tomorrow and seed the hill in my backyard. You're supposed to like dig up the top 2" of soil, seed it, and then water it twice a day for like 2 weeks. Now that sounds like a lot of work to me. I figure I'm going to try a little parable of the seeds on my hill and see what happens. I'm just going to throw the seed down, water it a couple of times, and hope for the best. Hopefully it will end up with a good illustration of the grass becoming viral and taking over the yard. JM


Passion vs. Abrasiveness

I hate it when people substitute the word passionate for the word abbrasive. Example: That pastor is just passionate about God, that's why he says things like that. What they should say is That pastor is abbrasive, that's why he says things like that.
I know many people must like that style, as evidenced by large and quickly growing churches, but I am certainly not one of them. To me it just seems like a throwback to the old "give 'em hell" preachers. Why would we desire to revert to that? JM

Matthew 14:15-21

God loves to use people. Even when Jesus was on earth, he still used people. I love how Jesus asks the disciples to feed the 5,000 people. They realize they can't unless they rely on God. With the help of Jesus, they are able to feed all of the people, and they have tons left over. But they personally got to take part in the miracle.
There is a principle in their that we need to adopt more. Jesus could have performed the miracle and never asked the disciples for any help, nor challenged their faith at all by asking them to feed the people. But he did.
It's always easier to do things yourself, but it's not the most productive. I mean, after I die, if I've always done everything by myself and failed to teach anyone, then I'll be missed, but people will have to learn to adapt quickly in my absence. But if I train someone and grow them, then I can take myself out of the equation and the task can still be completed. It takes more time and is way more frustrating, but Jesus definitely saw it as important. I guess he saw his ministry as more enabling because he knew he would be gone soon.
I think one of the things that stops us from having an enabling ministry is that we like to feel needed and important. If we train someone to do what we're doing, then we won't get any of the credit anymore, and we won't have anything to do.
But imagine what you could accomplish if you trained someone to do all of the tasks that you currently do. What could you do for God? Most of us can't even imagine that far, but maybe creating an enabling ministry is how we should all live. JM


Deep Thoughts

If you could do one thing for God and knew that you would not fail, what would you do speaking within the construct of my local church?
That question was posed to me the other day. I'm supposed to have an answer when we go away on staff retreat in April. Without the last part being there, I would say plant a church. But with it being there I would say create a congregation within our church focused on reaching post-moderns via an experiential worship gathering, open-dialogue small groups, and community-focused service.
I'm not sure if I can say that, though. I mean, I'm a middle school minister. It should be something like "start a skate ministry" or "have a huge pizza party rally and invite an evangelist". But that's not my desire.
I'll have to think about the prompt some more. JM

Home Page Maintenance

One of the tasks that I do at my job is maintain the home page for our church. It was kind of just thrown at me, but I don't mind doing it. A couple of things frustrate me about it, though. First, most of the time I have no idea what events should be posted on the home page. I try to stick with major, church-wide events, but usually since they are church-wide, they don't have an individual champion and don't have more information that I can copy text from or add a link to. So I'm stuck trying to create copy for a brief description of the event.
Second, people throw things at me and expect me to put them on the home page, even if they aren't that important. One time somebody wanted me to announce a meeting on the home page. I didn't do it, but I hate the pressure and expectation.
Third, people hand me things and expect me to create entire pages for them that either they should be creating themselves or should be having their assistant do it. We use Contribute, so it's exceptionally easy to learn. They just don't want to take the time to do it.

Matthew 14:13-14

I love being alone. If I can't be with my family, then I'd rather be alone. Especially when I have stuff that I'm thinking about. It just seems like people get in the way of me being able to process things and feel emotions.
What I think is so amazing about Jesus is that even when he was placed in extremely frustrating situations, he never let it show. Jesus had just learned that his cousin had died and he wanted to be alone. But people followed him because he's Jesus. He doesn't get mad and magically disappear. Instead he heals people and ministers to them.
I think that's incredible, how Jesus was constantly moved with compassion despite his personal desires to be alone. It must have been so frustrating for him to be in a cage of human flesh. JM


Matthew 14:1-12

How many stupid decisions have been made in the world to save people from being embarrassed. Your hanging out, having fun, say something stupid, and then somebody calls you on it. Rather than being embarrassed and not saying what you said was dumb, you follow through with it. As if that's what makes you a man. JM

Know Your Market

Our worship gathering this week was different than most of the ones that we've been planning. It started with a choir singing an anthem that had a gospel feel to it. Then the worship host talked for like 4 minutes and started singing the anthem again. The music was fairly normal otherwise. The thing that was interesting was that the people seemed to love it. More than a normal worship experience for us.
I hated it. I thought it was one of the worst worship experiences that we've created in a long time. But I'm beginning to realize that I'm not our market. I'm kind of an anomaly at our church. So if I'm going to continue to be on our worship planning team, then I need to change my mindset.
Now I just need to begin to prepare ideas for when we have the ability to do a worship experience for the students and those that desire a more experiential, contemplative gathering.

I Hate Dora

Man, this is stupid funny. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sb7eLgaddI4
I love that except for one stupid line, it's clean. Awesome. JM


I'm 30 now. Man, that's crazy old. I don't really feel old, but that is such a big number. I wonder when I'm going to be the weird old guy with earrings. I'm looking at this as my last chance to get in shape. I'm going to have to start running again. We'll see if I can pick up some mileage to hit my resolution goal of 1000 miles this year. JM



Sometimes I wish I were part of something great. Not that I'm not, but I'm definitely not part of something where the only explanation is God. Tony Morgan posted today about Living Hope Church. Their growth is incredible, but look at the baptisms: over 2,000 in 2 years. We do about 30 per year. They are also hoping to baptize 1,000 people this Easter. Wouldn't that be incredible to be a part of that? JM


Granger Regional Workshops

I registered 4 people tonight for the Granger Communications workshop that's coming to Atlanta. I'm really excited about it. Should be a good time. The information we learn will probably translate better to our situation than the Newspring Unleash conference that several of our staff went to last week. Hopefully we can learn a lot and integrate it into what we're doing to improve it. JM


Kem Meyer points out a wonderfully useful demographic website that helps you discover basic information on any zip code. This is amazingly useful in determining programming, marketing, church design, and really anything else that you might do.

Matthew 13:52-58

Sometimes it's tought to shake your past. Everybody knows who you are. Then you try to change and all people can think about is how you used to be. When I first became a Christian, I had to shake what I had done as an atheist. I was a moral person, but my thought patterns were based on atheist logic.
It's amazing that even though all Christians are dependent on God's grace, it's the new Christians that we like to make feel like they are the only ones who need it. What I mean is, we like to forget about all of the junk that we did, and all of the sins that we've had forgiven, but we like to bring it up with other people. It's almost like we thing that everybody else is under grace except for us.
I think one of the things that holds students back from becoming passionate for God is they feel that their friends won't understand the change. They'll have to become known for something else. They have their identity in being the snobby girl, or the party guy, but to change that perception is more daunting than changing the actual behaviour. JM

Air Problems

We've got our staff planning retreat coming up Sunday April 15th through Wednesday April 18th. Then that weekend I'm gone all weekend doing the crucible with the 8th grade guys. Since I'm going to be gone for basically a week, my wife is going to go to St. Louis to hang out and have her mom help with the kids. She's trying to fly, but the problem is it's unbelievably expensive. AirTran is going to start flying to St. Louis in May, which will drop the price of flights tremedously, but right now it's like $400 and we would have to buy 2 tickets. So I'm looking at trying to get her a flight out of Birmingham or something. It's only about 2 hours away and would be about half as much money, it's just not extremely convenient. Just kind of frustrating. JM


I got to hang out with another youth minister from our area tonight. Carson Thaxton is the youth minister over at First United Methodist Church Of Fayetteville. Our daughters are about the same age, so we thought it might be cool to get our families together. We had them over for dinner tonight. It was cool to be able to hang out and meet his family, talk about ministry, but mainly just have fun, eat and get to know him better. Carson's a really cool guy who I'll hopefully get to know better.
I love being able to hang out with other guys doing ministry. It helps me reduce my stress level. It's also cool just to be able to hang out and talk ministry and other stuff with no agenda. JM


SBC Problems

I love the SBC. Well, sort of. I grew up in SBC churches and love many of their ideas. I do have problems, though, with their stances on unimportant cultural issues. Steve McCoy has a great post about some of his problems with the SBC. It almost seems shocking to me that they hold to their tenets so staunchly. On one hand, I respect that, but on the other hand it seems so trite. JM


Disciple Now Recap

We had about 170 students participate this year (I'm not sure how many of those were middle school) and I know that anywhere from 8 - 10 made commitments to Jesus (2 we're unsure about and will need to clarify in follow-up). The speaker (Anson Mcmahon) was good, but I wish he would have used some visuals and used something to emphasize his points more because I tended to get lost. The band was exceptional, but a few times they would go from singing a worship song to performing it, which always makes the audience uncomfortable. A great time overall. The students definitely enjoyed it. JM

Dancing Game

Saturday night during the last Disciple Now worship session, they did a game. They called up like 5 students. Then the youth minister that was running the game said that since I had been abusing the students with my game that morning that he was going to have me do the game with them. Fair enough.
Turns out it's a dancing game. We were all blindfolded and told to do our best dance moves and that they would kick somebody out until they declared a winner. Blindfolds were placed on all of the contestants. Then they were removed, except for mine. Turns out it was a joke on me. So I have to dance (which I am no good at) and impress people more than the other people who may or may not have been dancing. Around midway through the game I figured out that I was the only one blindfolded. I could barely see out the bottom of my blindfold and noticed the shoes of another contestant. I reached out my fist to "pound fists" or whatever that is called, and she reached out to hit mine. I'm dumb, but I'm not that dumb.
The joke was on me. I wasn't the greatest person to use for this game, though for a couple of reasons. First, I'm not overly goofy. I struggle in situations where I'm supposed to be the goofy youth minister. Second, I'm not easily embarrassed. So at the end of the game I pretended to be, but I don't think I pulled it off too well. JM

Spiritual Sensitivity

Saturday night during our final Disciple Now woship session, I could totally feel the Spirit moving. I mean it was like wicked thick. I had just finished doing my stupid little dancing game (which I'll post about later), the band went into a song, and the spirit just fell. It was an awesome time to praise my creator.
At least for most people. I know the student that was sitting next to me is not a Christian. During the song I wanted to turn and ask him if he could feel anything, but I couldn't figure out a way to phrase the question without making it awkward. I mean, I know he's not going to be as spiritually sensitive, but I just wondered if he noticed that something was different. Maybe the soul inside of him was groaning in hunger to commune with his creator. JM

Princess Party

My daughter had her birthday party on Saturday, and man, was it slamming. Tons of people, tons of gifts, and loads of cake. She didn't really dive into the cake or anything, so that was kind of disappointing, but here are some pictures of her walking around and hiding today. She's pretty stinking cute. JM

Psalm 69:13-36

Man, I wonder if it's okay to pray for people to go to hell? To me that seems a little harsh. I mean, I can understand being frustrated and not liking people, but to want God to send them to hell seems to be a little much. I do like that David is amazingly transparent with God. He knows he can't hide anything from God, so why even try?
I don't think I've ever wished that someone would go to hell, but I have wished that they would fail, or be miserable, and I have definitely enjoyed the suffering of others. I'm getting better, though. I mean, there are very few people that I hate. JM


Psalm 69:1-12

Do you ever feel like you're drowning. Like you're trying to swim, but slowly sinking. That's kind of how I feel right now. I'm so glad that people in the Bible felt that way, too. It helps me know that God is there with me if somebody else went through it, too.
Whenever I feel like I have an answer from God, I'm ready to make it happen right then. But that's not exactly how it works. God works on his own timeline. It's just tough to wait. JM

Accepting Failure

You can't always win. That's sometimes tough to swallow. I mean, you can only do so much in ministry. You can try to help people, but ultimately they are in control of their lives. 18 months ago I had the opportunity to help a young man named Kevin that had to spend a week with a minister. He was finishing up a 12 month inpatient drug rehab stint. The week I spent with him, I kept trying to talk to him about what his plan was to stay out of trouble. His plan was to say no.
I encouraged him to instead try to change his core group of friends and get involved in some activities that would help him stay busy. I could tell that he didn't care for my advice.
Unfortunately, Kevin was at a party last year, got drunk, smoked some pot, and accidentally shot and killed his best friend. Last week he was sentenced to 8 years in prison for his crime.
I feel sorry for Kevin. I wish there was something more that I could have done. I feel like I failed him. But, I'm not the one at fault. It's Kevin. It's just tough for me to really believe that.



I made it through the weekend. I'm super tired right now, but I've got tons of stuff to post on. It's just going to have to wait until tomorrow. Thoughts I'd like to get down:
Spiritual Sensitivity
D-Now Recap
Youth Ministry through Parent Ministry
Psalm 69
Ana's Party
Car Problems
Gambling Sin
Dancing Game
Right now all I want to do is sleep. JM


Prayers Of A 2-Year Old

Here's my son's prayer at lunch today:

"Dear Jesus,

Thank you for food. Thank you for juice. Thank you for outside. Thank you for bird. Amen."

I love hearing him pray. JM


Stinking Busy

Man, I haven't posted in two days, that's pretty messed up for me since I normally post like 4 times a day. We're busy getting ready for disciple now, my mother-in-law came in town tonight, I have friends from St. Louis coming in tomorrow night, we've cleaned the house, and I'm trying to fix my car. So yeah, I'm pretty slammed with stuff to do right now. Hopefully I'll have some time to get some thoughts down tomorrow. JM


Matthew 13:47-51

I love that the disciples struggled to understand things. It makes me feel better about myself because a lot of times I struggle to understand stuff I read or experience. Some of the Bible is tough to really grasp. It's just kind of tough to wrestle with and drag the meaning out of it. I think that's what makes it such an incredible book. If it were like read it, understand it, apply it, then it would get really boring.
Sometimes I don't understand stuff that happens to me. We're finally starting to do well financially, and now we're having rather expensive car problems. It's very frustrating. I don't think I'm trusting in my bank account, but I guess I must be because God keeps smacking it down.

St. Patrick's Day

Tomorrow is our work St. Patrick's Day party. I still have a lot of stuff to do for it. I'm kind of the person that is in charge of planning the stuff like this. We just do stupid games, eat some food, laugh, and have fun. But I think the time is extremely important. It helps our staff hang out and enjoy each other with no agenda. I especially love that it helps the ministerial and support staff interact in a positive manner with no "I'm the boss can you do this?" side to it. Stupid I know, but I really think it's good. JM

Gym Results

I really enjoy the gym. I know I'll never get big and buff, and the only results I'll ever see will be minimal, but I just feel better when I go. It's like when I take my vitamin. I feel smarter, my clothes look better, my carpet is cleaner, my car drives nicer, and my job is more fulfilling. Hopefully I can continue to be disciplined and go to the gym every morning. It's a tough thing, discipline. It takes a lot of work, but the payout is huge. JM

Car Problems

This morning I woke up to go to the gym. I hopped in my car, turned the key, and listened to the silence that ensued. I hadn't changed the spark plugs in a while, and since that is a cheap electrical fix, I figured I'd try that (the battery is fine and it sounds as if the distributor and starter are fine as well). When I changed out spark plug number two, it was covered in oil. I don't know if that is the main problem or not, but I definitely need to change out my valve cover gasket.
This kind of thing is way beyond me, so I'm going to try to get a guy at church to help me. Hopefully the gasket will fix the problem and my car will be running fine with only a $30 investment. JM



I love the dialogue that blogging provides. Here is an interesting discussion about Acquire The Fire's "Battle Cry" event that is being held in San Francisco and the attention that it is creating. Fascinating. For the record, I'm not a big ATF fan. Nor am I necessarily a fan of the "youth rally". I strongly feel that the way to see life change is not to emotionally fill them up and embolden them. I think this can create embarassment once students get older or can create a perpetual "divine anger" sort of mentality. I certainly believe that emotion is a powerful tool in creating passionate disciples of Jesus, but I feel it must be heavily balanced with logic and compassion. JM

Matthew 13:44-46

Would you give up everything you had to get Jesus? I mean everything? That's a really tough thought. I mean, I can imagine suffering a little. I can imagine being poor (I kind of am), I can imagine having people reject you because of your faith (some of my neighbors are uncomfortable around me because of my faith), I can even imagine having friends reject you (I've had several friends say they just didn't "get" my faith). But can you imagine not having anything. Can you imagine your family rejecting you. Your wife. Your kids. Your parents. Can you imagine not having anyone but God.
I hope and pray that my life never comes to that. I hope that I'm never tested in that. I think I could do it, but I would be so sad. JM

Experience Makes Me Sad

I just heard a story on our local news here in Atlanta about a middle school boy that found a dead baby in a bag on the side of the road. The police aren't sure if it was stillborn or if the baby was murdered. It's so sad for me to think about. Before I had kids, I wouldn't have cared at all. Now, I can't imagine. I hurt for the mother, I hurt for the child, and I hurt for the boy that had to discover that.
Georgia has a "safe haven" law that allows mothers to drop off newborn babies to a hospital, police station, or fire department if they feel that they are unable to care for it - no questions asked. Completely anonymous. I can't imagine the sorrow and stress that poor mother must be feeling.
I love my kids. I want to go lay with them right now. JM


Daylight Saving Time

How sad is it that we stress, whine, and complain over losing one hour. One hour! What can you really accomplish in an hour. And yet tomorrow, everybody will be talking about how they miss that hour. How they overslept because of fatigue or forgetfulness. We are far too programmed. JM

Matthew 13:36-43

I love the disciples. They are naturally curious, and they're never embarassed to ask dumb questions. I mean, here's the people that are closest to Jesus that should know what he's saying the best, and they ask him questions. They don't care that maybe they should already know. They still ask.
I think God likes to reward the curious. People who want to know him better by not just listening to what he says and being amazed, but who try to apply it to their lives and wonder at the true meaning. I'm naturally kind of a curious person, and that usually carries over to my discipleship. I hope I never lose that. JM


Leadership Commitment Service

Last night at our church was the leadership commitment service for our financial campaign. Basically it was a time for the leadership in the church (about 390 people were invited) to come together and make their financial commitment to the campaign. This total will be announced to the congregation at large on Sunday as some form of motivation or example for them to follow.
It really was a nice night with good food and all of that. Once the service actually started, though, I felt weird. Not like weird those BBQ chicken fingers are messing with my stomach, but weird, I can't do this right now.
My wife had signed up to work childcare that night for this event, so she wasn't with me. We had already talked about what our commitment would be, but I didn't want to make it without her there. I know it's just filling out a form, but to me that takes away from both the spirituality of it and the togetherness of it. So I left when they started turning in their commitment forms. My wife and I will turn ours in together on 03.18 with the rest of the church. I just think too often we trivialize what could be great spiritual moments in our church, our families, and our own lives. JM

Fashion and Shopping

I'm certainly not into fashion, and I'm not too big into shopping, either. But there is something confidence boosting about gettting new clothes. You feel cooler when you wear them. Like you're a brand new car or something. I don't think that we should always look great, but we should take pride in how we look. I mean, would anybody desire to be a Christian if we all dressed frumpy? JM


I love the excitement and drama that sports provide. To me, there is nothing greater than the college basketball that is played in the month of March. So much drama. It seems like nearly every game is exciting. It's certainly always meaningful. Right now, my IU team that I love is in overtime against a pesky Illinois team that is fighting to win their way into the NCAA tournament. Hopefully IU will pull out the win and improve their seeding in the tournament.
How would your life be different if you lived it as if it were your last game, as if it really mattered? I know my life would be a lot different. I think reaching your potential means getting rid of the disparity between what I settle for and what could be. JM

Matthew 13:31-35

I just did a little bit of research to find out what "the kingdom of heaven" is. Most things that I read say that it is referring to Jesus as the gateway to heaven. Thinking about that, it's awesome to see how Jesus was already foreshadowing what his sacrifice would do. Basically he's saying that he's the only human that could get into heaven, but because of his sacrifice many people will get into heaven. That's why sacrifice is such an amazing thing. It motivates and inspires others. It also provides opportunities for people that they almost certainly would otherwise not have. JM

Typically Atypical

So last night we got home from an event at church that I'll post about later on today. I put the kids to bed around 9:00. Then, as usual I went to bed with my wife and watched some TV with her. I rub her back for a little bit. By the end of this it was about 10:15 or so.
Typically at that time I would turn off the light and TV for her because she's asleep, go downstairs, do my quiet time, blog, work, and read.
Last night, however, for some reason I just fell asleep. Pretty atypical for me, and I don't really know why I did it. What's weird, though is that I'm like kind of mad about it. This should be something that is just like, oh well, but I'm like disappointed that I didn't get any work done. I guess it just means more work today. Of course today is my day off, so I've got tons of time to do anything I need to. JM


Fashionable Clothing For Ministers

Carlos Whittaker has a great post that kind of talks about his internal dialogue on the importance of ministers dressing nice. This conversation came up in our worship team meeting the other day when we talked about having the speaker and worship leaders potentially dress more trendy.
I don't necessarily want them to look trendy, just nice. What's great about just saying "look nice" is that it means so many different things to different people. Looking nice to me means that I would wear trendy looking jeans, my cool skechers brown shoes that I got for Christmas, and a long-sleeved, button-down, fairly tight-fitting shirt that I would wear untucked. To our worship leader it means that he would wear a nice button-down shirt tucked in to fancy slacks with shiny shoes. To our pastor it means that he would wear a sweater with slacks and shiny shoes. To someone else it might mean that they wear a trendy t-shirt with a trendy jacket over it, gel their hair extra, and wear jeans with a couple of holes and paint on them.
The problem with trying to have everyone dress trendy is that it isn't necessarily who they are. Some people would look ridiculous in certain outfits, even though they might be considered nice in some circles.
An offshoot of the conversation that we had the other day was talking about the vehicle that our pastor drives. Our church is in an extremely affluent area on the south side of Atlanta. Most of our families drive nice minivans, large SUV's, or luxury sedans. Our pastor drives an old truck. It doesn't really fit in with our community, and it's not even really who he is, so I'm pushing him to get something nicer.
Just some thoughts. I can't really say much about vehicles since I drive a 1993 Saturn SL2 that has over 161,000 miles on it. But it still runs. JM

Matthew 13:24-30

How can God continue to let bad stuff happen? How can evil people continue to succeed. God's got a plan for everything, and protecting his people is part of it.
I think it's kind of cool that God doesn't get frustrated with this whole creation experiment. I mean, when you look at how he talked with Moses and how he always wanted to start over, and how he really did with Noah, I wonder what God is thinking right now. I wonder if I frustrate him so much that he wants to start over. I hope not. I want to make him smile. That's actually kind of like my life's mission: to make God smile. Pretty simple and general, I know, but that's why I like it. JM

Birthdays And Drums

Today was my daughter's first birthday. Not a lot happened because of it because, well, she's one and her party isn't until next Sunday. I'm sure it's going to be slammin'.
Noah's drums arrived today, though. Pretty easy to set up. I'm fairly impressed with the quality, what with them being $91.00 and all. Pretty nice. I just wish they had a hi-hat. I'll have to look for some used hi-hats with a stand because they are stinking expensive.
I think Noah is going to be a pretty incredible drummer one day. At least that's my hope. JM

Brilliant Media Usage

I love how lifechurch.tv uses marketing. Their new series is satanhateslife.com. The series by itself isn't all that attractive to me, but the use of billboards to direct people to an informational website is nice. And the site itself is genius. Just enough information to find out what it's all about along with the opportunity to find out more if you want. Well executed. JM


Photo Friday

Ran across Photo Friday today. It's a site that gives a photography title prompt and lets users submit their interpretation of that week's prompt. Kind of cool to see what some people come up with. If you're into photography, or just beauty and creativity, you should definitely check it out. Here's a cool shot from this week's challenge: alone.

Noah's Drums

I've been tracking Noah's drums shipping in from Kansas since I ordered them on Friday. So I got really excited when I saw that they were going to be delivered this afternoon. Then I noticed that it wasn't his drums, it was the stool. His drums won't get here until Thursday. We got the stool this afternoon. After I put it together, my son probably spent about 90 minutes on it from 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm. It's like he won the lottery. He loved it so much. I can't wait to see how excited he's going to be for his drums. I remember when I got that excited about stuff. JM

Run 9

I ran 3.0 miles today in 35:41 or something like that. My heart rate got up to 159 at the end, but the other times I checked it was under 150.
Week - 3.00 miles - 35:41
Month - 3.00 miles - 35:41
Year - 20.76 miles - 4:05:41

Matthew 13:18-23

What's awesome about this story is that every different type of person (besides those that don't understand) is capable of becoming the good soil. The only difference is the different things that the other soils let hinder them. All it takes to change is desire and knowledge.
This passage also made me sad to think about how some people don't understand the meaning of the gospel. I know that there are people whose IQ is too low to permit them to understand, but I think this part is also talking about those who don't understand because they have emotional or logical hangups on some part. There is always a way to reach people, that's why we have to get to know people to find out what they think so that we can minister to them. JM


Successful Return

I actually woke up and got to the gym this morning. I had planned on waking up at 6:20, but slept until about 6:35. I still had enough time to go to the gym and do almost a full workout. So now I'm nice and sore because it had been probably 4 weeks since I had lifted. I love the feeling of muscle soreness. I'm really impressed that I woke up since Noah didn't sleep well last night (he's a little bit sick). So hopefully I can wake up about the same time tomorrow and get my run in. JM

Sick Days

It happened again. I only got to work half a day today because my wife is still sick. I feel really bad for her because she just feels like trash. But it's also frustrating for me because I'm falling more and more behind on my work. I tried catching up some when I came home today, but you can only do so much with interruptions for little children. I was actually able to get two sermon series poster ideas started.
One is for an upcoming series called "sin city". I got pretty far on that one. I'll post it once I've got it finished. The other one is for our Easter message. I found an image for it, and I have an idea on the text for it, but that's about as far as I've gotten.
I'm still just using Publisher, although I have upgraded to Publisher 2007. I'm hopefully going to go through the 10 hour InDesign CS2 tutorial soon, I just need to find the time. I haven't noticed a lot of changes in the new publisher, but two that I have are awesome. The first is you can set the spacing width of columns when you are setting up layout guides. That is really useful for me since I do so many half sheet flyers. The other major improvement is being able to use an eyedropper to "grab" a color you want off of the screen rather than trying to create it through the little color maker graphic. Much easier. JM

Matthew 13:10-17

Jesus always used stories to teach. I guess, back then, that was fairly uncommon because the disciples ask him about it. I wonder if they were like, man, this guy doesn't know how to teach, let's tell him how, or if they were like, this is so stinking incredible, let's ask him why he does it.
Whatever the case, Jesus says he does it to make his message more inaccessible. That's an interesting thought. I wonder if sometimes my stories make my message inaccessible. I hope that they create a relational point so that the hearer has a greater understanding of me and through illustration a greater understanding of God's truth. This is really a tough passage for me to wrap my puny brain around. JM

Guys Night Out

I cannot wait for my son and I to go enjoy the cinematic epic that will be TMNT (teenage mutant ninja turtles). I'm so pumped. JM

Stupid Lists

It seems as though there has been a proliferation of lists running around the internet ranking churches and ministers and such. What a stupid concept. How do you determine who the "most innovative" is or the "most influential". While I can see some merit in these (study what these successful churches are doing and see what you can learn from them and apply to your context), the vast majority are simply incredibly inane. The ultimate prize winner for pointless lists seems to be this one ranking the top 20 youth ministers, and no, I'm not just ridiculing it because I'm not on there. The list basically just pulls the youth ministers from large, fast-growing churches and dubs them as the top youth ministers. While I do not doubt that the ministers who serve in those contexts are exceptionally gifted and being greatly used by God, they are simply working within the overall context of a large, successful church. They have been adept at taking the purposes/ministry process of the church and programming it out for students so that they can participate in the process. Certainly some gifted individuals, but to rank them out and say they are the "top youth ministers" is a ridiculous notion, one that probably even those named on the list would be embarrassed to be associated with. (ht to Mark Riddle) JM


Crucible Notebooks

We're creating a Crucible folder this year that will contain all of the stuff that the guys do. I'd like to basically build a version of it this year that I can tweak and modify so that when next year rolls around I can send it off to a printer and get something that feels more significant. Like fancy torn edges, off-white paper, a cool font, and stuff like that. JM

Go With What You Know

Mark Riddle points out this email from the CEO of Starbucks talking about how they have lost the idea of the Starbucks experience. Mark points out how this relates to megachurches, but I think it relates to all ministries regardless of size. We all have numbers in our mind that make us feel good (when 50 people show up on a Friday night, I'll feel good). But we can't ever be like that. It sets up a sense of entitlement and arrival. It doesn't leave you hungry for more. We have to be motivated to see life change by always staying hungry for more. God doesn't ever want us to coast. JM

Matthew 13:1-9

I love how Jesus always used stories to tell truth. I really like to do the same because I think it's so powerful. Jesus was amazingly visual. I wonder what he would have been like if he had the technology that we have today? It's just cool to see him use so many object lessons and physical illustrations. It helps people relate. I guess Jesus was a pretty smart guy. JM


We started our 8th grade guys rite of passage this morning (we call it "The Crucible"). I love it so much. It's awesome to see the guys respond to the challenge. We had about 10 guys there this morning, and several key guys were missing. I'm thinking we'll have somewhere between 10 - 14 guys go through it.
One of the cool things about the whole program is that I play such a minimal part in the whole process. It's really spearheaded by the small group leaders: Tommy and Curtis. These guys do such an amazing job. I really can't imagine it without them.
I'll be posting a lot about the process over the next 7 weeks because it's just so exciting for me.
A couple new things were trying this year are devotions as homework and adding in a "faith" characteristic.
We talked about faith today and I really think that it sets up the whole series well. I think the students enjoyed it as well. The homework devotion idea is so that we don't waste time together covering the background on a characteristic, but get to dive right into a deeper discussion of it. This week is about responsibility. We'll see how these guys take to it. I tried to impress upon them the importance of it, but you never know if they'll get it. I was really thankful that Tommy closed up the lesson today by making sure they knew that it was important, but that we weren't going to babysit them and make sure they did it every day. They're accountable for it. Pretty cool. JM

Computer Problems

I'm having three computer problems lately:
1. MyDVD 9 keeps crashing on me due to 2 errors. I've found the solution (I think) on their website but...
2. I don't have administrative rights over my computer. It's technically my church's computer and I understand them wanting to protect it and all, but it's frustrating for me since I desire to do more with it than just run the Microsoft Office Suite, and
3. My boss keeps borrowing my computer. He's having trouble getting his to sync up with the projector, so his solution is to borrow mine. I don't mind all that much. It just means that some high school kid is messing around on it every time and I usually don't get it back for the rest of the night. This is a problem because I like to do work late at night right before I go to bed (like right now). So tomorrow morning I'm going to try to address all 3 of these problems as soon as I get to work. JM

Missing In Action

Man, this past week was just wicked rough for me. I feel all out of sorts, and I wasn't the one who was sick. My wife got some kind of virus and has kind of been out of it since Tuesday. Wednesday, I barely was able to do any work. I didn't go in on Thursday or Friday, and on Saturday all I did was run a youth praise band practice for a high school event that night. Beyond that, my reading schedule is way off. I've only read probably 20 pages in the past week. I'm not an exceptionally avid reader, but I try to digest at least 20 pages a day. On top of that, I only went to the gym once this past week.
Thankfully every new day is just that: new. So tomorrow I'm going to go to the gym, then go to work and try to bang out a lot of stuff that needs to get done, then come home and do family time, and then follow up with some reading/personal time tomorrow night. Hopefully all will go well, and I can get my life back on track. JM


The Easy Way

There is always an easy way to do things, to increase sales, to raise awareness, to make yourself known, but it isn't always the best way to do things.
I ran across this AP article talking about a boycott they had on Paris Hilton news (if that's what you call the stuff that she does). They could have easily put out the same crap and made quick sales of articles to media outlets looking for the easy way. But they chose not too. It's an interesting little read.
My takeaway: What do you do simply because it's just easy? Is there a better way to do it? JM


Mother's Day

After our concert of prayer this past Sunday night, I took off Monday from work. Not because of that, but as comp time from my ski trip the week before. Yeah, my job is wicked rough.
So on Tuesday morning when I show up, the senior pastor asks me if I was going to be in town on Mother's day, and if I would preach. Evidently they talked about it during the worship planning meeting and someone suggested that I do it.
I'd like to think it's because they thought that I did such a great job on Sunday night, but I was probably just the first person they thought of.
Whatever the case, I'm so excited. I haven't been able to preach a full service since November of 2004, and this will only be my second time to ever do it.
I love doing it though. I get really excited and energized. I think I'm pretty good at it, too. I'm a pretty witty guy, so I use a lot of humor.
Nevertheless, Mother's day might be a tough gig for me. I'm looking through mothers in the Bible right now trying to find an angle to go at this from. I'm really not sure what God wants me to say yet. Luckily, I have plenty of time.
I'm just excited. It's a pretty cool opportunity for me, and one that I don't get a lot since there are probably like 6 people ahead of me in the guest preaching line. JM

Rough Day

I had a rough day today. My wife hasn't been feeling well for the last couple of days, so this morning she woke up and said that she thought she needed to go to the doctor. In order to accomplish this, that meant I had to stay home from work. Normally, that's just a minor setback, and I can make up the missed work fairly quickly either from home or the next day or so.
The problem was that we had an all day staff meeting today. Most people dread these kinds of things, but I love them. We were supposed to talk about how our church can implement the concepts of simple church. Specifically we were going to discuss our ideas for a disciple making process and what programs fulfill those ideas. I had been looking forward to this meeting from the moment that I heard about it.
But I wasn't able to go. Now don't read me wrong, I wasn't mad at my wife or anything. I was just frustrated at the situation. I miss being able to debate and argue with the rest of the staff. I miss struggling through ideas together and trying to grasp what it is that God has for us. Hopefully my input was missed as well, but I didn't receive a call saying that they couldn't go on without me or anything like that. I guess I'm less important than I'll ever know. JM