Polyphonic Spree

Polyphonic Spree may be the most aptly titled band in the history of music. I saw them on the MTV music awards several years ago but never gave them a chance because it just seemed like kitsch because there were so many of them.
A couple of days ago, though, I watched one of them free concerts on DIRECTV and they really aren't that bad. I might even call myself a fan. JM

Matthew 26:26-35

Why do we always look to get offended. Peter and the other disciples are told that they will stumble in their faith on account of Jesus, and they all react like no way. It wasn't even that bad of a thing that he said. It's not like he was like you'll all kick a puppy. He was just saying that they would struggle with their faith because their leader would be dead. Who wouldn't be disheartened and disenchanted.
In general, I think we are far too easily offended. People will say things to us that they may not even mean to be bad, but we look at it like somebody just shot our mom. We need to toughen up. JM


Constructive Criticism

I hope I'm always open to criticism. I want to constantly improve how I function and how I perform. If I'm not able to listen to objective criticism, then I'm refusing to grow. I like showing my messages to people. Not so that they can be like Josh, you're so cool, but I want to hear what they didn't like, what they didn't get, and what didn't connect with them. We always have room for improvement. JM

Matthew 26:17-25

Morale is a tricky thing. You want to encourage your team and make sure that they are pumped up. But at the same time you need to face the reality that sometimes you must make difficult decisions and address grave situations. It's interesting to see Jesus handle this. I love the reaction of Judas when he's like, oh not me. Uh..... JM


The Big Idea

Finished The Big Idea by Dave Ferguson today. Great book. Great ideas. If you're unfamiliar, the main thought is that each week your church should strive to communicate one big idea to your people. This one idea is touched on in every aspect of the large group gathering, in small group curriculum, and anything else your church produces.
Love the ideas on collaboration. Definitely check it out. JM


The conversation went well yesterday. I'm excited about the opportunity, but remain ignorant of what my involvement with it will be. Exciting to hear what is going on, though. JM

Matthew 26:14-16

Judas is one of the most interesting people in the Bible to me. He hung out with Jesus constantly. He witnessed it all. He was there just like the rest of the disciples. And yet he didn't get it. Experiencing the same events as everyone else, he had a radically different reaction. It's kind of refreshing that someone that close to Jesus didn't get it. I look back at all of the students that have come through my ministry and didn't get it and I wonder what I did wrong. How did I not communicate God's love and truth in a way that changed their life. Seeing Judas helps me to realize that some people refuse to get it for whatever reason.
This is also an interesting little passage. Judas was taking money from the treasury bag of Jesus ministry. If he turned Jesus in, then he would be losing his source of income. So he would have to turn Jesus in for a large sum to make up the difference. But he didn't get a large sum, so there must have been something else Judas was looking for. Either he wanted to be accepted by the Pharisees or he didn't like Jesus. That's going to take some research to figure out. JM



So pumped about my meeting tomorrow. Hopefully it will go well and soon I will be able to talk about it here and the adventure that will start. I know that's vague, but pray for me please. JM

Matthew 26:6-13

We're called to give. It's fun to give. People like it. But if nobody will receive, then nobody can give.
I think there is huge ministry in receiving, especially in the right way. Jesus was given an incredible gift. He didn't go "oh, you shouldn't have" or mumble a thank you, instead he received the gift with humility.
It is a humbling experience to receive something that someone sacrificially gives. I think that's probably why so few people do it well. JM


Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince

I finished book 6 tonight. The last 150 pages or so were great. Pretty exciting, intense stuff. I just keep thinking these books would be a lot better if she cut out about 100 pages from each one. But, yeah, book 6 was great. I'm now ready to finish the series.
As I've read the Harry Potter books, I've taken about a 6 month break after each one, but I may try to read the last one fairly soon. I just don't normally read a lot of fiction, in fact I don't read any at all.
I've heard that book 7 is great from several people. I'll have to borrow it from somebody fairly soon.

The Blogosphere

I know blogs are for dorks, but man are they cool. Not only does it seem like the quickest way to journal thoughts in a searchable format, but the information that is transferred through blogs is almost viral in the way that it spreads.
I also like the community that blogging creates. I've been able to email guys for advice that I wouldn't have known from anything without reading their blogs.
Something else that's cool is I noticed on Friday that two separate guys posted about their willingness to pray for anyone that would send them a request. I'm desperately in prayer right now over a specific circumstance, so I emailed both of these guys.
So now I have two amazing guys praying for me, even though they have no idea who I am. I just emailed them the situation and they're praying for it.
Now that's harnessing technology for good. JM

Matthew 26:1-5

These next few chapters are awesome. I love how Jesus sets up the whole scene by reminding his disciples that he's about to be crucified on Passover. Then it talks about how the Pharisees said that they wanted to trap Jesus, but they were going to wait until after the Passover. Of course, Jesus ends up being right.
I wonder if the disciples were curious about Jesus word choice of saying he will be "given" to his enemies. I wonder if they thought about who would be doing the giving.
I love to villify Judas and make him the guilty guy, but really I'm just as guilty as he is. It wasn't Judas who gave Jesus over, it was Jesus' desire to rescue us. Kind of puts sin in perspective when you see the consequences of your selfishness. JM



I got to play guitar with the youth praise band as they led worship in big church today. It was a lot of fun. I really liked the songs that we got to play, and I feel like we made nice arrangements of them and played them well.
My 3 year old son, Noah, had practiced with us the day before and the morning of. He was pumped about playing, but couldn't understand why he couldn't be on stage to play. So he's crying in the back of the sanctuary with my wife as daddy and the rest of his friends are playing.
So a friend of mine picks him up and puts him on the stage with his little fake guitar right next to me during the second song. I thought it was going to be amazingly distracting, but people seemed to respond well to it.
It was really cute to watch him strum his little guitar and get into it. I'll see if I can post some video once I get it.

Matthew 25:41-46

So much of being a Disciple of Christ is about action. It's not just praying Jesus into your heart, and it's not just getting baptized, but it's about making a life commitment to discipline yourself to the standard that Jesus has set. It's awfully high, but there's always help. JM


Emotional Check

One of the things my mom taught me was not to get too excited about things until they were a sure thing. I don't like to talk about things unless they are for certain. Sometimes I'll get pumped up about them, but I try not to get overly excited about possibilities until they become more sure.
I talked to a friend last night about a cool opportunity and was able to set up a meeting to further explore this opportunity next week. It's crazy because it sounds so cool, but I don't want to get too pumped about it because I don't know if it's going to happen.
Still exciting to see God answer prayers. JM

Music Links

Not sure if you've heard about Pandora. I've seen a lot of people talking about it, but for good reason. Basically you go in and type in the name of a band that you like. Then they play songs by that artist as well as artists similar to it. It's pretty accurate and you can discover a lot of new music.
This is the 10th anniversary of Radiohead's OK Computer, which some consider to be the greatest album ever released. It's definitely one of my favorites. Stereogum had some bands do covers of all of the songs, and they've posted them for free on their site. Some of the covers are very good. I especially like David Bazan's cover of Let Down. It's great because he already writes depressing music and he's covering a depressing song, so it becomes this great depressing song. Check it out. JM

Matthew 25:35-40

So many people like to take these verses literally and think that Jesus is just talking about helping the poor. But I think it's about so much more. Yes, we need to actively help the poor, but we also need to help everyone in need no matter what the need is. Some people just need someone to talk to, some people need help getting through financial struggles, some people need help with a family crisis. This is the essence of what church should be about - serving others. What's cool is that the church is finally starting to get this. We've made it about us for so long, but now we're starting to see that it's not really about us at all. JM


Matthew 25:31-34

Verse 34 is one of the most beautiful verses I've ever read: "Receive the kingdom God has prepared for you since the world was made." That will be so awesome to hear Jesus say that to me when I get to heaven. Imagine how awesome heaven is going to be if he's been working on it since the world was made. He made the universe in 6 days, and it's really not all that bad. He's had a lot more time to work on heaven, so I'm going in with pretty high expectations. But God doesn't usually disappoint. JM


Ben Arment

If you don't read Ben Arment's blog you should be shot. It's my favorite. I love his writing. Right now he's doing a week of confessions talking about secrets he has. The first one is that he is a much better blogger than church planter. It's insightful to see other people's struggles and to see real transparency. JM

Eric Geiger

If you read simple church then you are familiar with "Main Event Church" and the farcical job posting they made for a "Pastor of Extreme Worship Arts". Eric posted the full job description they put up on churchstaffing.com. It's really funny to read, and sad to think about how many responses they got. How many unhappy people do we have in ministry. It's worth the clickthrough, but here's the highlight for me:
Desires to develop an emerging handbell choir


Matthew 25:14-30

The reward for doing a good job is more responsibility. Responsibility is reward. If we are responsible with the things that God gives us, then he will give us more responsibilities. We will receive greater levels of influence and importance.
Verse 29 is a tough one:
Those who have much will get more, and they will have much more than they need. But those who do not have much will have everything taken away from them.'
That's different from almost every other verse we read in the Bible. God wants to reward those who are willing to work. If you are willing to work hard for God's glory, then He is willing to bless you beyond what you will ever need. JM



Camp was awesome for us again this year. We had 3 students get saved and about 12 commit to full-time ministry. It was also cool to see our students get more involved and into camp. Last year was our first year at Crossroads camp after being at Centrifuge for like 12 years. So we battled a lot of negativity. This year, there was a lot less of that. Kids did great and really seemed to enjoy it. I love camp because it's just constant hanging out with students. Plus I love the recreation opportunities. JM

Matthew 25:1-13

You have to be prepared. I like that they don't share. I mean, it's a Bible story, so you think the bridesmaids would share, but they say that they are concerned about themselves above all else. They won't let anything compromise their chance of getting into the wedding feast.
I'm not really sure how that relates to how we should live our lives, but I know there's something there. Maybe we should always be willing to help people find their way to God, but we don't need to go so far as to compromise our own relationship with God. We can go to a bar to talk to people about Jesus, but we can't get drunk. Just a thought. JM



Forgot to mention that I'll be at camp all this week. I'll post about the week on Saturday, but you can track how our week is going on our camp blog. JM


Civil War

I got to see several hours of The Civil War documentary by Ken Burns today on PBS. I am always entranced by it. It's so well done and it's such a fascinating time in history. I love the hearing about the passion with which these men fought and died, all for an idea, or two different ideas. JM

Matthew 24:40-51

So yeah, I guess if you want to go to heaven you better act like a disciple of Jesus. At least that's what I'm getting out of this. JM


Home Movies

I love watching our home movies. Especially of Christmas. It's just cool to watch our kids and see how much they've changed. Plus it's awesome to see their excitement. JM

Hanging Out Discipleship

So last night we had several of the students in our youth group over. We didn't really do anything, just kind of hung out and talked. We watched the US v. Brasil U-20 Soccer game in the background. I love doing stuff like that, though.
It amazes me because the conversation will always turn spiritual. Students greatly desire to talk about stuff that matters, but they don't really care to talk about it unless you really show that you are willing to hear them first. Be available. Listen. Care. We so quickly want to jump to the life-changing cathartic moment and skip the steps we have to take to get there.
I love the journey. JM

Attack The Bees

This is awesome. This guy had a clump of bees on his swingset and he decided to strike back. Thankfully he documented it for the world to see. Here's a picture from it, but trust me, it is so worth the clickthrough. JM

Matthew 24:32-39

It's sad to think about how many people are going to die at the end of the world. And they don't even know it. It's like we're headed for this giant train wreck, God has tried to warn us, but nobody seems to care. Like in the days of Noah, people will be eating and drinking and enjoying themselves before the stuff hits the fan. Man, that's sad.
I talk about the reality of the flood a lot with students. We use it as a cutesy kid story with animals, but really it was the death of millions of people - babies, women, small children. It's sad. Hopefully I can channel that emotion into something productive, rather than feeling hopeless. JM


Church Web Sites

Right now we're working on updating our church website. Before we spend the money, though, we are trying to determine what we want our site to accomplish. My thoughts are that it should simply give basic information about our church, show ways to find out more, and the home page should communicate no more than 3 opportunities for visitors to our site. The overall site should be focused on non-members, especially on the home page, with click-throughs to more member-specific content.
Not everyone shares that same idea, though. I know some people want it to always have 4 main items on the home page, even if they are not current opportunities. I know other people want it to talk about current events, whether or not they are available opportunities. Case in point - I was told to put something up on the student ministry camp trip coming up this week. Registration has been closed for several months, so it is listed as a way to pray for our students. I think that's great, but don't want to see it on the home page.
I just think the home page should be reserved for basic information for visitors, and should be laid out as simply as is feasible. Hopefully, I'll win. JM

Cooking Meat

I celebrate Independence Day a little bit differently than most people. Our church hosts a massive BBQ and the youth ministry is in charge of cooking the food. So on Tuesday night we started smoking around 1600 pounds of meat - brisket, pork, and sausage. We smoke it all night and start pulling it off to slice it on the afternoon of the 4th. Then we serve dinner for free to anybody that happens to show up in our parking lot starting at 7:00 PM. We really have no idea, but we guess that we served about 1600 people this year. It's a major production, but we see a lot of guests at it, and it really gives us a presence in the community. I just wished I like BBQ better. It seems like such a waste of time. JM

Matthew 24:23-31

It's really important to know what's going to happen. I mean, if you're just kind of familiar with the Bible and Jesus, and somebody says that he's in Nashville, and there is some guy in Nashville that really is doing miracles, you could probably be duped. But if you know how the end is going to go down, and how Jesus will return, then you're not going to fall for it. You'll know it's just some punk kid or something. JM



So Pownce went live. Aren't you so excited. I don't get it. I know people are trying to make money on creating the new social networking site, but this one seems to accomplish the things I can accomplish through email. I know it doesn't have the aesthetic, but it's certainly just as functional. I guess I'm just not the market for this kind of thing anyway. JM

Matthew 24:14-22

Man, the tribulation sounds horrible. I can't imagine having to go through it. Makes me thankful that I have a relationship with Jesus. JM


Garage Sale

We had a garage sale this weekend. There's not really much that's fun about them, but I guess it's worthi it. Several positives from this:
  1. We got to hang out with a couple of our neighbors since this was one of them fancy multi-family garage sales.
  2. We got to go through our stuff and decide what we didn't want to keep.
  3. We made $106.00.

So I guess that's not too bad. Not a huge return, but at least we got rid of some clutter. We don't hang on to a lot of stuff, so it's kind of hard for us to find a lot of valuable things. JM

Matthew 24:10-12

I'm always amazed by examples of love. Especially when it's completely random. Like I love those commercials for Liberty Mutual ad that talks about people randomly doing the right thing for other people. I hate to imagine a world where most people will stop showing their love for each other. It saddens me to think about it. JM