Cool Site

Ran across this site tonight. Pretty cool layout and feel. The only thing I don't like is that the text is sometimes difficult to read because they didn't darken the background quite enough. JM

Live Blogging From Buzz Conference

Ben Arment is live blogging from the buzz conference in DC right now. It's great to get a feel for what's going on, but also to see what's happening through the filter of somebody who has some amazing thoughts on ministry already.
He had a post earlier today that talked about how his mind races to personal points as an offshoot of what the speaker is talking about. It's a great read, as will be all the others from Buzz and his blog in general.
Best statement in the post was this:
The worst fate, in my opinion, that our church could suffer is not running out of money, not losing people... but being ignored by our community.

Man, that's an awesome thought. JM

Matthew 24:3-9

My favorite part of my quiet time is when I struggle with God. When I don't understand something and I can just tell God that I don't get it. That I don't see why something happened, or what a passage means, or why I feel a certain emotion. I'm able to do that, though because I'm alone with Him. I wouldn't be able to do it as much in a large group setting, and definitely not as much in a worship gathering teaching format.
That's why I love small groups. It makes people willing to be more vulnerable. Their more willing to expose their true feelings, emotions, struggles, and doubts. JM


Nevermind Baby

The baby (Spencer Elden) who was on the cover of Nevermind by Nirvana turned 16 today. Makes me feel old. Amazing how old that album is now. I still remember the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit. I can't say that for many songs. JM

Matthew 24:1-2

We love our church buildings. We love to point out how cool they are. How beautiful the carpet is. How nice the steeple is. How great the technology is.
Jesus wasn't really into that. I think if I walked Jesus through our church and tried to tell him about our building he would be so insanely bored. But I think if I walked Jesus through our church and told him about how we're trying to live out his commands, he would be excited. Buildings are nice, but they are tools. If/When I do a church plant or pastor a church, I almost hope that we're portable. JM


Matthew 23:34-39

It's pretty bad when God writes you off as a lost cause. I mean, God is kind of one of those hope springs eternal kind of guys. He always hopes for the best. You could punch him in the face 99 times and he still wouldn't flinch on the hundredth because he thinks just maybe you'll learn.
But man, when God is done with you, he's pretty much done. He'll make sure you know that you lost something special.
This is one of the great mysteries of God to me. How he can be that trusting. I'm one of the most untrusting people in the world. I'd rather punch you and run if there's a chance in my mind that you might try to hurt me. I think we could all stand to be more trusting. To seek out the good in people. To help them realize their potential. JM

You Version

So the geniuses (not sarcastic) over at lifechurch.tv have come up with an amazing idea called you version. Basically it's an only Bible where you can study different versions. But what's incredible is that you can associate audio, video, text, and images with any passage you want. Basically you can create your own study Bible. This seems like a great resource for pastors/teachers to use to organize thoughts and ideas for later use. I'm excited. JM

Oh My Gosh

Words cannot express my excitement. Now all that we need is someone to make a Buck Rogers movie. The guy that wrote the screenplay for the Knight Rider movie also created the series and the Buck Rogers series. No wonder both mesmerized me as a child. JM



I continue to be amazed by Wikipedia. I just saw a blurb on TV that some wrestler that lives near me and his family died. I could wait until 11:00 to get some of the information or I could hop over to wikipedia and get all of the information immediately. Here's what's already there:

This section documents a current event.Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.
On June 25, 2007, Chris, Nancy, and their son Daniel were found dead in their home in Peachtree City, Georgia[83][84]. It was first reported to fans of WWE on their WWE Mobile Alerts Service and posted to their official website soon after. Exact details are not yet known, and an investigation is ongoing.[2] On their website, World Wrestling Entertainment released the following statement[85]:

World Wrestling Entertainment is deeply saddened to report that today Chris Benoit and his family were found dead in their home. There are no further details at this time, other than the Benoit family residence is currently being investigated by local authorities.
Tonight’s Raw on USA Network will serve as a tribute to Chris Benoit and his family. WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family’s relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy.

WWE canceled the scheduled three hour long live RAW show on June 25, and replaced the broadcast version with a tribute to his life and career, featuring his past matches, segments from the Hard Knocks DVD and comments from wrestlers and announcers.[7]
Fayette County, Georgia police are investigating Benoit's house following the discovery of the bodies, and no details have been released other than to announce that Benoit was not shot to death, and it is being investigated as a possible murder-suicide.[86]

Pretty impressive, I think. What I don't get is that all of the students in my ministry say that their teachers will give them an F on their papers if they site wikipedia as a source. Of course, education is one of the latest adopters that exists. JM


If you ever have a bad day with your kids, just watch that supernanny show. It really makes my parenting skills look good. Plus most of the advice on their is really good. I just wish the nanny lady would let the parents whoop the living trash out of some of those kids. JM

Matthew 23:23-33

Man, how accurately does this passage describe the church today. We love to look great on the outside, but inside we are rotting away. Really, it describes all of American society. We're gilded. We love to look great on the outside, but we care very little about the reality. We'll dive ourselves deep into debt so we can have a nice car and a nice house.
This idea permeates all of how we live, though. It's sad. I'd like to say I'm different, but I'm no better. I love to give people a good impression, and not talk about my struggles. But I struggle just as much if not more than most people. JM



This will sound really weird if you know me, but I love to play sports. I went and played Ultimate Frisbee tonight and had tons of fun. I used to play every week. I'm horrible, though.
But I love being outside and running around. It's fun just to work together as a team, enjoy the outdoors, and sweat. I really like to sweat. Not really sure why, though. I think it makes me more attractive. Well.... JM

Matthew 23:13-22

What ways do I hold people back from coming to Jesus? I know I do. I know I don't take advantage of every opportunity in my ministry to do that, but I'm thinking of more on a personal level. One of the big things that I struggle with is my introversion. It takes effort for me to be outgoing. Because of the nature of my job, most people presume that I'm outgoing. I'm not, though. Well, I guess I am.
Really, I'm just confident. I know who I am and what I'm good at. The problem is not that I'm not outgoing, the problem is that I'm introverted. I enjoy reading and running and doing introspective things. They're not really group activities. So a lot of times I'll struggle at parties and stuff like that (my wife gets annoyed by this).
But people take my introversion for snootiness or holier than thouness or something like that. I know it's how I'm made, but I think it can hold people back from the kingdom of God, so I need to work through it. JM



This is smart. This guy is counting to one million. He is doing a live feed from his house streamed over the internet. You can watch online. That idea is nothing more than Cindy and Peter trying to break the teeter totter record on the Brady Bunch.
But he goes a step further. You can bid to sponsor a block of 1,000 numbers. You'll receive a banner ad on the site while he counts and he'll read your info and a message from you. You can also buy advertising space in his house while he counts. This is the kind of stuff that I wish I could think of. JM

Matthew 23:5-12

Humility and servanthood. I think the church is just now starting to catch on to these principles. For so long we have set ourselves up as a different way of life. A better way. We've said the only time that we can mix with the general population is when individuals from that population reform themselves to our standards.
But that's so not what Jesus wanted. Jesus lived his life as the greatest example of servanthood. And he had more right to demand respect than anyone.
My desire is to run a ministry and live my life that embraces the ideas of humility and servanthood, respects individuals no matter their lifestyle, and shows them the love of God through service.
One of the great quote's in Contemplative Youth Ministry is that we should see each person "as the only Jesus we may ever know." I've been trying to remind myself of that as I start every one on one conversation. It's an awesome reminder of the importance of really hearing each person. JM


Running In The Heat

Yeah, it gets hot down here. For some reason today I had the brilliant idea to go for a run at like 2:30. Full sun. No clouds. 96 degrees. I haven't run in probably a month, and this is the day and time that I choose to run. I didn't make it all the way. I only ran 24:00 and I was trying to make it 30:00. I walked the last part. It was either that or die.
I'll have to try to run in the mornings, it's just too hot later on in the day. Hopefully I can get fairly consistent at running every day and then I can run the Peachtree City Classic. It's supposed to be a really cool race. JM

Matthew 23:1-4

A lot of times we like to think we can not respect somebody's authority over us just because we don't like that person. Maybe they're mean. Maybe they're hypocrites. Maybe we just don't get along. But God still put them in authority over us. So we must respect them.
I struggled with one student in my ministry a long time ago over this issue. She said repeatedly that she would not listen to me or do anything that I asked her to do simply because she did not like me and had no respect for me. So I told her that she needed to respect the position that I was in, but not necessarily me. This can be hard if you really don't like somebody. I struggle with this a lot. JM

Workout Change

I think I'm going to change what I've been doing at the gym (like actually start going). I've been going fairly consistently and I really enjoy it, but I need to start running again, and have like zero motivation to do it for some reason, which is weird because I love doing it. It helps me think about things deeper than I normally do. I have been doing 2 sets of 12 reps 3 days a week on all of the exercises I do. But now I think I'm going to go down to 2 days a week and do 3 sets of 10 reps. It should accomplish about the same thing, build mainly endurance with a little bit of mass, but just going two days a week will almost force me to run on the other days so I won't feel like a pathetic loser who just sits around and does nothing.


I know I'm way behind the times on music, but I really think I might like Amy Winehouse and Mat Kearney. They both seem to write really catchy stuff. I don't buy a lot of cd's, but I have like $45 on a gift card to best buy so I may go get both of their cd's along with the Wicked sountrack.
I also just pre-ordered my friend's new CD. You should check him out. JM

Matthew 22:41-46

I love that the Pharisees finally give up on trying to trick Jesus with questions. Isn't it amazing how long they tried to do it, though. Consistently they looked stupid and Jesus provided them with amazing answers. This bolstered everybody else's belief that Jesus was more than a common teacher or pharisee. So while the pharisee's popularity was at an all time low, Jesus was steadily climbing.
It's amazing to me how long we can hold onto ideas that don't work. We think we have a brilliant plan, but it's just not working out. So we tweak it a little bit and run it into the ground until finally we give up and come up with a completely new plan.
That's basically how my ministry has been. Great ideas meet with little or no response. I revise the idea a couple of times only to receive the same response until finally I abandon the idea.
I guess instead I should seek out God-ordained ideas. There are tons of great ideas out there, but I'm not sure if God is willing to bless all of them. I think the key is to find what God is willing to bless and run with that. JM



My wife is pregnant with our third child. I'm pumped. I want a girl because my wife said that if it's a girl, then we'll definitely be done, but if it's a boy, she may want to try to have a fourth child. I'm ready to be done, though. Pray for a girl. JM

Website Update

My wife and I got a website when we first got married. The idea was for us to stay in touch with family and friends while we went through seminary and so that I could learn basic web design. I never went to seminary and never learned anything about web development, but we kept the site, primarily just to hang on to the name and to post some random pictures.
We never updated it, though, and it quickly became obsolete. So now it's a blog that will be updated on a fairly frequent basis by my wife. It should contain her thoughts, maybe some of my thoughts, and hopefully some pictures of our family, with a heavy emphasis on our kids.
Check it out. JM

Matthew 22:34-40

Jesus boils all of the commands in the Mosaic law down to just two, and they are still incredibly difficult for me. Love your neighbor as yourself is just so insanely hard. I've been trying something that Mike Yaconelli suggested by reminding myself that each person I encounter may be the only Jesus I'll ever meet. It's kind of a cool thought, and it helps you really realize the value of each individual.
But I also struggle on the other part of what Jesus is talking about here. We're to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. My soul is easy, because I've given it to Jesus. My mind is easy because that's how I fell in love with Jesus because I think he is truth. The toughest part for me is my heart. Sometimes it is tough for me to be passionate about Jesus.
The speaker at this program we went to tonight talked about loving Jesus and letting that be all we're trying to do. Not doing things for God so that we can get recognition, but simply because we love Jesus.
I don't really struggle with wanting recognition or anything like that, but a lot of times I struggle with doing things for God because I like to do those things. For instance, leading worship is fun, but I can't always say that I do it because I love Jesus. I also love music, I love the idea of worship, I love the mystery of God, I love the creativity involved in worship experiences. All of those things are good, but they aren't because I love Jesus. JM


Contemplative Youth Ministry

Well, I finished it finally. I don't know why it took me so long to read this book, but I'm so glad I did. It definitely inspired me. The main idea behind it is using contemplative practices to introduce students to Christian spirituality.

One of the big reasons this book resonated with me is because I'm going through a dry time in my ministry. We've had horrible turnouts for events, little response during programs, and no momentum on anything. The author is Mark Yaconelli. His father was Mike Yaconelli, one of the founders of Youth Specialties. Mark relates how frustrated he was during his first years of ministry. Nothing he did worked and he became incredibly frustrated and depressed until he learned about how to use contemplative practices in student ministry.

I've run my ministry on the premise of getting the students to think I was cool, to think the programs were cool, and then they would listen to what I have to teach them about God. It's a great idea with two problems. 1. Students won't always think I'm cool and 2. It didn't work.

Mark encourages us to help students as they struggle to discover their own spirituality. To remain open and available to them, and to truly listen to them. Rather than formal instruction, students learn about God through group discovery.

This book was inspirational for me, now I just have to figure out how to implement what it is suggesting within a ministry and a church that function differently. JM

Matthew 22:23-33

So many times we fail to grasp the spiritual. To some extent it's not really our fault. Everything around is physical, and so we try to take spiritual concepts and constrain them into the physical realm. I love that Jesus constantly tries to push us to think outside of that context. Imagine how different your life would be if you really accounted for the spiritual. If you saw people not as somebody that is in my way, but rather as a soul that Jesus loved so deeply he sacrificed his life. We are so easily mired in the physical.


Matthew 22:15-22

I wonder if the Pharisees ever said to themselves, hey maybe we should try believing that Jesus is the Messiah. Maybe he is who he says he is. Instead they continually tried, unsuccessfully, to trap him and make him look dumb.
I also thinks its funny that before they try to trick Jesus, they spend some time softening him up with nice words. They don't really care about him at all, but they want to try to get him off his guard. Make him relax or something. Satan tries the same kind of stuff with us. Tries to get us to not guess that temptation is coming, or to put us in a unique situation, or just surprise us. It's all just to make us look dumb, though. JM

Fun At The Gym

So this morning I went to the gym. I always start out doing the bench press where you lay on your back and push the weight off of your chest. I like doing free weights because I think they are cooler than using like a machine. That's for sissies.
Anyway, so I start doing my little bench press thing and it feels really easy. The goal is to do 12 reps, and it was going really well. I got to 10 and it still felt really easy. I wasn't straining all that much. I do rep 11 and it feels pretty much the same. So I go for rep 12. I lower the weight down to my chest and begin to push up, but the weight doesn't move. Odd. I try again and can't move the weight.
So there I am with 225 pounds stuck on my chest (it was really only 135, but 225 sounds so much more impressive). When I was a kid and would work out in my basement, I'd just lean the bar to one side, let the weights fall off that end and then it would tip the weights off of the other side. But that didn't really seem like a viable option.
I'm going to have to ask for help (if you know me you know that's a pretty big deal). I try one more time to see if magically I've regained my strength or the weight has become lighter, but I still can't budge it.
Thankfully, this guy goes "you need some help?". I said something like "Yeah, I got stuck." Then with like one finger he lifts the weight off of my chest. Pretty fun little incident to start my morning. Maybe one day I'll get strong enough to lift my own weights. For now I'll just stay small and wussy. JM


Last Comic Standing

I've had several people tell me that I should be a comedian. Man, after watching some of that last comic standing show, I really think I could do okay at it. Most of those people are terribly unfunny. The problem I have is that I don't know how to create a bit. I guess that comes with time as you just listen to different comedians and figure out what they're doing. Maybe when I retire from the ministry I'll go into geriatric standup. JM

Man Day

Well, evidently I did a bad job of communicating what I meant by Man Day for father's day. We gave out root beers and had steak biscuits for all of the fathers, but we sang to tracks, everybody wore dressy casual clothes, there was no stage design, etc.
The service was nice, and I think most everybody liked it, but it all didn't really flow together. Just seemed like a mish-mash of different ideas.
Oh well. JM

Matthew 22:1-14

Why would people not want to go to a wedding feast hosted by the king? Why would they say that they've got other things to do. It doesn't make a lot of sense. It makes even less sense to show up and not be prepared by wearing something nice. I mean, you are eating at the wedding feast of the king.
I love this analogy because we spend so little time preparing ourselves to worship God forever in heaven. I hope that when I get there that it is not all that shocking of a transition for me. That I am so used to following God and so familiar with his presence that it seems like I am home rather than in some foreign place. JM


My House

My wife and I are really starting to like our house and get used to the idea of being in it for a while. We may move at anytime, but we would be perfectly content being here for 5 years or more. Of course, we'd like to do stuff (hardwood floors, fence, granite) but can't really afford it. If we're in it next spring, it will be extremely tempting to just start doing stuff. Hopefully by then we'll be out of debt, so we can save up a little bit to do some nice little improvements. Can't go too crazy, though, because our house is way low end and we'd never see the return on our investment. JM

Man Day

So I tried stealing an idea from Reston Community Church to have man day at our church this year. They serve ribs for breakfast, root beer out of the beds of pickup trucks that are filled with ice, play hardcore music, and generally have a manly feeling.
We picked up the man day idea, but haven't really done anything with it. It will be interesting to see how it all works out, but right now I'm wondering who is at fault. I mean, I suggested the idea, it's kind of incumbent upon me to see it through to full fruition since it rests in my mind. However, the vast majority of the decisions that needed to be made and the approval that needed to be granted were not mine to make or grant, so I felt like I could pass along the idea, but that was about it.
We'll see what happens, but I have the feeling that most people won't get it because of poor communication on the front end and no real holistic "man day" feeling throughout. I'll let you know tomorrow. JM

Contemplative Youth Ministry

I have never read a book that speaks exactly to where I am more than Contemplative Youth Ministry. If you haven't read it, I strongly encourage you to get it. I'm going to have all of the middle school student ministry workers go through it. I'll post a full review of it when I finish it in a couple of days, but it's mindblowingly awesome. JM

Matthew 21:33-46

I love that Jesus uses stories to illustrate his points. I always wonder if he's just making them up on the fly, or if he prepared them like a few nights before. It's really great stuff. Such an amazing speaker.
I love verse 43 because it's my ticket into the kingdom of God. Man, I wonder if the Jews had really been obedient to God if I'd be invited to the party or if I'd be stuck out in the cold still. JM

Soul-Winning And Battle

Eric Geiger has a great post on why he gave up on what he terms heathen-hunting. It's a great look into why he uses relational evangelism and why he sees himself as an ambassador for Christ and not a soldier for Christ.
Here's a piece:

I viewed myself as a hunter. God viewed me as his ambassador (II Cor 5) and
as salt and light (Matthew 5). Once I understood how God views me, I left my
heathen hunting days behind. I embraced being his ambassador, representing him
in a world in which I do not belong.

It's definitely worth the clickthrough, though. JM

Contemplative Youth Ministry

This book is amazing. Easily one of the best youth ministry books I've ever read. I want to underline each sentence, which would totally negate the value of underlining. It's been a while since I read anything that resonated with me this much. I'll post more about it when I finish it within the next week or so. JM

Matthew 21:28-32

Words are powerless. Well, at least in a sense. God doesn't want us to just talk about things, He wants us to do them. God doesn't want us to talk about love, or to care about injustice, or to judge the culture. He wants us to show true love, to fix injustice, and to redeem the culture. We spend way too much time learning the right things to do, and way too little time actually doing the right things. What if instead of just instructing people what to do, we physically gave them opportunities to do those things, and expected them to do it. I wonder what ministry would look like then. JM



They're working on a redesign of our church site right now. They're still in the first stages of it. They asked us to fill out this little survey thing answering the purpose of our site, functionality, and stuff like that. Then they asked us to list church sites that we liked. After poking around at several different churches that I like, I only found 3 sites that I liked:
Mars Hill
Origins NYC
Reston Community Church
It seems like every other site wants to show you everything that they offer right on the home page rather than just giving basic information and then allowing people to click through to find out more if they want. Hopefully we can end up with a site like Mars Hill. I just love it. JM

Arrogance and Running Late

I think one of the rudest things you can be is late. Last night we went to a community wide youth event that was supposed to start at 7:30 and end at 9:00. It didn't start until 7:45 PM. In fact, they didn't even open up the doors until 7:30. I'm sure they were doing something spiritual like praying or blessing the service or cramming in one last practice song, but at some point (15 minutes before) you have to open the doors, and you have to start on time.
So then they ran over on the end until 9:15 PM. Groups were leaving because they had to make it back to their church. The band played on, though. Caught up, I'm sure, in some rapturous spiritual moment. Whatever. Anytime someone runs over like that or starts late like that, or DOESN'T OPEN THE DOORS, it comes across as arrogance to me. I hate it. JM

Matthew 21:23-27

Too many people lack guts today. Some might call it fortitude, some might just call it balls, but however you say it, there seems to be a shortage of it. The pharisess were so against Jesus, but that's about all that they stood for. When they are trying to figure out the answer to his question, they never mention what they really think. Rather they just feel trapped by either answer they could give. I think Jesus would have respected them more if they just would have given their answer.
We're just like the pharisees, though. We look for the easy way out, or the "right" answer, rather than speaking our convictions. I wonder how different my life and ministry would be if I really spoke my convictions and held to them unswervingly. JM


New Music

Man, I've been looking for a way to check out new music and really discover if it's worth the time or not. It's not too hard to find mainstream stuff, but finding Christian stuff has proven exceptionally difficult. I recently started subscribing to Relevant magazine and noticed a blurg about their site www.relevant.tv. It's loaded with music videos from tons of different artists. Check it out. JM

Free Books

I love the internet. I ran across this tonight. It's 22 books by John Piper that you can dowload the PDF's of for free. Man, how cool is that. I'm going to start reading "When I Don't Desire God" as soon as I finish "Contemplative Youth Ministry". I'll have to try to finish that this week because I need to read the Half-Blood Prince before the new Harry Potter comes out on July 21. JM

Public Speaking

So on Guy Kawasaki's blog he posted 15 tips from a friend of his on how to improve your public speaking skills. It's really helpful to check out with a lot of advice on keeping your audience engaged. JM

Matthew 21:18-22

Think about all of Jesus' miracles. All of the stuff that the disciples have seen. Mind-blowing stuff. Then 4 days before he is cruficied, they see Jesus curse a fig tree and it dries up immediately, and they can't figure out how he did it.
It's like they constantly forget that Jesus is God and can do anything that he wants. They've seen it constantly, so why would they be so amazed by this.
This is so similar to my faith, though. I mean, I constantly am amazed by what God has done for, through, and with me, and yet I never think he can do it again. I always feel like I'm struggling to stay afloat and yet God is constantly showing me that he is perfectly capable of teaching me to swim.
One of my favorite characteristics of the disciples is that they were so dumb. They never understood what Jesus was saying or at least the true implications of it.


Sweet Child O' Mine

So during mission trip, one of the students showed me how to play the lead intro to Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine. Obviously this is one of the greatest songs ever written. I'm really bad at playing lead stuff, but I was messing around with it some today, and was actually getting it to kind of sound like the song. I'm still a long way off, but I'll be so pumped when I can actually play it.
Also during mission trip I learned how to play Helena by My Chemical Romance. It's the kind of song that when you play it you want to be in a rock band. Loads of fun. JM

Matthew 21:12-17

Well, if the religious leaders weren't mad enough at Jesus yet, he figured he'd up the ante on them. Pretty cool scene where Jesus goes into the temple and does some screaming and yelling. Then immediately afterward, people are coming up to him to be healed and little children are singing his praises. This kind of shows two things: First that Jesus wasn't all that scary of a guy even when he was turning over tables and yelling, and second that most of the people felt that the money changers and the people selling sacrifices were shady. They wanted to do what Jesus did, but they didn't have the guts.
So what am I too afraid to do because of the establishment? I'm not sure, but I think the lesson from this passage is to quit caring what the ramifications of an action will be and do it if it is God-inspired.
Seth Godin talked about that today on his blog referencing the moment when most people blink/pause to think about the situation. Jesus didn't do that. He just reacted. JM



The longer I do ministry, the more I am convinced that nothing truly impactful and life-changing happens outside of the context of relationships. The bond that I have with the guys with whom I've done ministry and the ability I have gained to ask probing questions and receive honest answers is solely based on my relationship with those students.
Today after church I was talking with a student. He just wanted to see how things were because I hadn't seen him in a while. He just finished his sophomore year, so he's two years removed from being in my ministry.
Kind of randomly toward the end of our conversation he mentioned the fall retreat that I did in 2004. We took 3 vehicles on the trip, and I was in charge of driving the van filled with the luggage. There was only one other seat in the van, and for a large part of the trip, this student occupied that seat. I can't remember what we talked about, he probably can't either, but he mentioned that car ride.
Creating that memory with him and whatever we talked about at during those few hours I'm sure had more of an impact on his life than all of the messages that he listened to me give. There was no structure, just conversations about his life, my life, and any advice I could give him.
I don't think we should ditch all programming, but I do feel that the vast majority of ministry needs to be focused on free-form small groups where students and adults can interact in a casual atmosphere, can ask probing questions, and receive honest responses, input, and advice. The more I think about it, that's exactly how Jesus ran his ministry. Sure he had his big programs that impacted people, but I bet he relished the times he spent with his disciples around the fire at night. I wish I could have been there. JM

Matthew 21:1-11

The whole city was excited that Jesus was there. Jesus has finally come to Jerusalem. People have heard stories about what he's done nearby, but this is the first time that he's come to their town. Something obviously incredible is going to happen. They throw down palm leaves and their coats and celebrate.
People like to juxtapose this scene with his crucifixion 5 days later and wonder what happened. But when you read how his arrest and trial went down, it was all a carefully orchestrated plot by people in power. Jesus' impact on people was obvious, and people in charge were scared. He was bringing about change, and it was going to continue in their city.
The movement of God, and true Christian spirituality can be scary. We're unfamiliar with it, and sometimes it can be uncomfortable. It's a different mindset on how things should work within the church, and a lot of times people in power react adversely to it. I pray that I can embrace it and develop a ministry that embraces spirituality and encourages people to search for truth and fall passionately in love with Jesus. JM


The Resurgence

So I've been out for a while. We just got back yesterday from our mission trip to New York. I'll post more about that later. Right now I'm just trying to get back into regular life mode. Sometimes, I think that might be what God doesn't want for us. Life feels so much different when you're on a mission trip.
This trip was interesting because there wasn't a lot of like hard, hands-on, get dirty kind of stuff. It was mainly publicity and direct interaction with people. What I loved about it, though was the time that I got to spend interacting with students, especially the guys that were in my suite late at night. I'd go down and talk to them for a couple of hours each night and just hang out.
I think the key to life change is the stuff you talk about then. When the day is winding down and you can be real with people.
I talk a lot about the moments before sleep. When life is slowing down and you can really think about what is going on. That's one of the reasons that I do my quiet times at night, and the main reason why I blog at night. I just feel it's the most contemplative part of the day.
Spending time with the 9th grade guys makes me really miss them. They are such a great group of guys. It's tough, too, because right now there is just no student leadership in middle school. It's really hurt the direction of our ministry as a whole. I'm trying to assess where we need to go next year in order to recover. I don't care about numbers, or anything like that, I just want to spiritually impact the students that God gives me. The question is how best to do that. JM

Matthew 20:29-34

I think it's interesting that these blind guys use the word mercy and not grace. I mean, they want Jesus to heal them, even though they don't deserve it, so they were asking him to show them grace. I wonder why they used mercy, then? There has to be a meaning to it, I'm just not sure what it could be.
It's cool that Jesus felt sorry for them and healed them. I think that might be the key to getting God to seeing God answer a prayer request. We will never be able to earn anything from God and will never receive anything because we deserve it. So basically, we're just trying to get God to have mercy on us and feel sorry for us. Kind of changes your perspective on prayer. JM