Call It Like It Is

So I haven't been posting lately. I'm busy. I'm sick. I'm tired. I'm stressed. I'm excited. I'm sad. So let's call this what it is: a blog hiatus. I'll start posting again in 4 days. JM


No Posts

I'll return to posting tomorrow. I took my laptop with me on Thanksgiving vacation, but not my charger, so it didn't do me a lot of good. We got back home a couple of hours ago. It's so good to be back in my house. I love it. JM



A lot of stuff is happening right now that I can't talk about publicly. I'll talk about it on 12.02. Until then. JM

Help Wanted

So on my drive up here I saw a help wanted sign at a gas station. Here's what it said:
Are you at least 18 years old? Can you pass a drug test? Do you want
to work?

Ummm...they sure aren't setting their standards too high. But what if they changed it just a little bit and instead of focusing on the requirements for employment instead focused on what would make a great gas station employee.
Do you like interacting with people? Do you like a busy
atmosphere? Can you efficiently handle transactions and make people smile?

I'm betting they'd be a lot happier with that person than the person that would respond to the first ad.
Usually when we're filling a lay ministry role, we focus on the first kind of description because we're consumed with the present. We need somebody now and we don't care who. But wouldn't it be better for everybody if we went about it like that second description? JM


Big Day

Tomorrow will be an interesting day for me. I have to have a couple of tough conversations in the morning and then drive for 9 hours up to St. Louis to see my kids. I'll post my final thoughts from the NYWC on Tuesday. JM


NYWC - General Session #2

Most of this session was fairly non-descript for me. Until Shane Claiborne spoke. He got up, did a couple of fire tricks, read Matthew 4,5, & 6, and then said this is the greatest sermon ever spoken, God give us the courage to live it.
Several things were cool about this. To start that way was to almost come out and say "I'm not here to do tricks". Most people were expecting some stories about his ministry. He's a really unique guy, so I think most people were excited. Then he read the sermon on the mount kind of saying God's already said it all, what more can I say. But the last line he said of "God give us the courage to live it" really hit me. We know the words of Jesus' sermon so well, but most of us live as if we don't.
Eryn did not enjoy Shane. All he did was read the Bible. Anybody can do that.
That's true. So maybe Shane wasn't really great, but he was definitely different. JM

NYWC - Seminar #1

I went to the "dark side of teenage girl world" seminar by Ginny Olson. Great information. Basically it dealt with sexual promiscuity, sexual identity, self-mutilation, and relationship aggression. Ginny did a great job of balancing information to create awareness with strategies for empowering healing. I have her book, but I haven't read it yet. After this seminare, I'll probably make it the next book I read.
It made me sad to think that Ana is going to grow up in this girl culture. I hope she's able to see herself as a beautiful, confident, unique girl of God and that Eryn and I will be able to help her develop into the woman that God wants her to be. JM

Acts 8:25

Sometimes it seems like Christians live in two separate modes. We are either in ministry mode or in selfish mode. We have trouble translating our Christianity into our everyday lives. When we're on a mission trip or doing a service project, then we're all about talking to people about Jesus. But the second that we leave, we're back to our normal selves. We're rude, obnoxious and selfish. I wish there was an easy way to get this to become a normal part of my life as opposed to some mode I get into or am out of, but it seems really difficult to do. I just hope that I'm getting better at it and that someday I can truly be a disciple of Christ who evidences it at all times. JM

NYWC - Day 1 - Afternoon General Session

So yesterday was the first day of the National Youth Workers' Convention in Atlanta. This is the second time that I've gone with my wife, and the third time that I've gone total. It's a lot more fun having my wife there. Sometimes I can be a little bit too into the art side of things, and usually she's able to be more realistic in that respect.
General session was pretty good. The band was Flatfoot 56, a Celtic punk band. They were awesome. Really old-school true punk sounding. It's cool too because it sounds like they are accepted in the punk scene and play a lot in bars as opposed to the usual Christian band that bounces around churches, conferences, and festivals.
Andy Stanley spoke yesterday afternoon about what to do when you realize that you are the most powerful person in the room (serve). This was the first time that I've heard him since reading his book about how he creates his messages (Communicating For A Change).
There was also this cool sand/light artist guy. Interesting. JM


Where'd You Go?

Sorry about the sporadic nature of the posts lately. Last night I fell asleep with Noah and missed the time that I normally take to read and write. Tomorrow morning we'll be up early to take the kids up to Paducah to meet my mother-in-law. So there probably won't be any posts until Friday.
We're voting on a Japanese pastor at our church on Sunday and they mentioned we needed a song to play while we took up the votes. This was my suggestion:



We're trying to plan our Christmas Eve service right now. Two things are bad about this. The first is that we're at least 6 weeks late on planning it and the second is that we're battling against doing what we've always done. I'm trying to change it up this year and push us to do something that is more similar to what we would typically do on a regular Sunday.
I think when we take high-attendance gatherings like Christmas (and Easter) and produce something that is formal and expected we perpetuate the idea that going to church is something you should do on Christmas and Easter. And in doing this we fail to reach any of the guests that are willing to come out on only those two days.
So I'm trying to come up with what that might look like in our church's context. I'm pushing for something with kind of a raw feel featuring an acoustic guitar and one vocalist. Then weaving a concept throughout that in a laid-back conversational manner with video backing and illustrating that. We'll see what happens. We'll probably end up somewhere in between the two. JM

Acts 8:9-24

What are the limits of grace? We pressure people so much to instantly demonstrate that they are a Christian with their actions. They might have been an addict for 20 years, then trust Jesus and we think they're not going to struggle with addiction anymore, instantly, forever. Now granted, God has the ability to make that happen. But I think that is a very rare occurence.
So why do we put limits on grace. We call someone out on cussing, or drinking, or sloth and yet refuse to honestly evaluate our own lives and the sins with which we struggle. Any accountability that is going to provide for true life change is going to happen in the context of a reciprocally accountable relationship.



Yes, that's right. Chessboxing. (ht:Marko) JM

My Undying Love For Wikipedia

I love Wikipedia. I've mentioned it before. It's great for nearly everything. I've been doing some print layout work and was struggling to understand the difference between vector and raster graphics. Luckily somebody took the time to explain it and post it to Wikipedia. Technology is beautiful. JM

Writer's Strike

I didn't understand what this strike was about, until I saw this video featuring some guys from The Office. Seems pretty unfair. JM

Be Ready

It must be tough to be Jim Sorgi. He's Peyton Manning's backup and rarely comes into games and never in a meaningful situation. But he's always ready to. When he plays, he actually doesn't look to bad.
Sometimes it's tough to be part of a team. I mean, it's easy to be the star, but harder to be the guy whose role is less glamorous. Not really going anywhere with this, but just wanted to get it out. JM

Acts 8:7-8

I wonder what sound a demon makes when it comes out of somebody. It mentions that it was a loud noise, but no real description. Maybe it sounded like a gunshot, or a car crash. Wouldn't it be cool though if it was like a fart sound, or like the super mario brothers theme?
I love that Philip is meeting felt needs, though. He's not just up there preaching and yelling and condemning. He's helping people with real needs they have. The problem with the church today is that we're willing to help people, but usually only after they have already changed to be like us. We don't like to care for people when they don't act like Christians. Sad. JM


So Much To Do

I can't sleep right now. I keep making lists in my mind of all the things that I need to do. I feel like I am cramped for time and need to accomplish so much. Whenever I start thinking like this I always think of this passage from Mark:
A very strong wind came up on the lake. The waves came over the sides and into the boat so that it was already full of water. Jesus was at the back of the boat, sleeping with his head on a cushion. His followers woke him and said, "Teacher, don't you care that we are drowning!" Jesus stood up and commanded the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind stopped, and it became completely calm.

We like to look at our circumstances and not at God. We look at what's going on around us and get overwhelmed. All the while, God is simply waiting for us to let Him step in and take over. The problem is we refuse to just be still. JM


Not All There

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I'm storing up some links and articles, but don't have the time right now to post them. I should have more time on Saturday. Until then...JM


Acts 8:5-6

People don't care about my message. At all. No matter how well I present it or how I package it, it doesn't really matter to them. That is, until I back it up with actions.
We were talking about how to publicize an upcoming event at our church today and several different ideas came out: newspaper, radio, direct mail, door-to-door flyers, etc. All of these will see very little return. They're all just spam because the information is outside of the context of relationship.
I suggested just creating really nice invite cards and giving them to our people to invite their friends and neighbors. Blank stares.
The point is that any message we try to communicate will have very little retention if it is outside of the context of relationship. I guess the old cliche is right: you have to earn the right to be heard. JM


Colts Win

I wish the Colts would have won. They lost 24-20, but the Colts looked good and I think they could have won the game. The Colts were missing a couple of key guys and if they are healthy for the AFC championship game, which will likely be a rematch of this game, then I think the Colts can win.
In other news, my fantasy football team won this week, so it's not all bad news. JM

Acts 8:4

What would it look like if evangelism was really a part of our lives? If we didn't compartmentalize everything and get all nervous about having a spiritual conversation. I'm guessing that it would be a lot different. It's like we have our lives and then we have the part of our life that we let God rule. And we don't want the two to mix. We love God and we're committed to him, but we refuse to let him invade every part of our life.
I think it's because we're too busy. We're too busy to be available to people and really listen to them. We don't want to spend time with people. Evangelism is work when you do it right. When it flows naturally out of relationship. I think that's why God asks for laborers and not managers. JM


New Car

So I'm starting to look for a new car for us. We won't get anything for several months still, but I like to research stuff to make sure I'm getting the right thing. We want to get a vehicle that can hold 3 car seats and is not a minivan or some massive SUV. There's not a lot out there. So far all I know is that we're going to get a used vehicle, probably a 2003 or 2004, but I still don't even know if it will be an SUV or a car. From looking around a little bit tonight the frontrunner so far is a VW Passat Wagon. They're cheaper than I thought and I saw on some message boards that they can hold 3 car seats in the rear seat. Plus, I think they look cool and I know Eryn likes how they drive. What would be great is if we went out and got one because our neighbor across the street has one and she literally hates us. JM

Acts 8:1-3

It's easy to play for a winning team. Things are going great. It seems like no matter what you do, you win and you always go to Dairy Queen after the game.
The tough thing is when you're not winning. When you go out there and get beat up. That's when being a team is really important, and when you find out if you really are a team. Typically what happens is that everybody starts fighting and complaining. You suddenly realize how annoying someone is, or you see how someone is holding you back. Or you break up the team all together.
That's why you have to live in community. You can't go out constantly and get beat up without someone having your back. Miserable experiences become endurable experiences when you experience them together. JM


Trick Or Treat

Below are some pictures of Noah and Ana in their costumes and trick-or-treating. The Darth Vader mask isn't really part of her costume, but we couldn't keep it off of her. She kept grabbing for it and putting it on. Here's more. JM

Noah's Halloween Party

Noah had a Halloween party on Wednesday at school. There's some pictures below, and if you want more, then just click here. JM

Hallelujah Night

Our church runs a festival in the fall as an outreach. It's targeted at kids 3 - 10. The kids are encouraged to dress up in costume. The kids are given candy. We host it on October 31st. So naturally, we call it Halleljuah Night. I hate the name. What's so bad about saying Halloween. Other people agree with me. JM

I Hate The Patriots

I've started to appreciate Tom Brady's ability a lot more this year. I used to fault him as not being all that great of a passer because the Patriot offense revolved around short curl routes or crossing patterns. He rarely, it seemed, would hit guys in stride running deep down field. That's changed this year, and he has shown himself to be a great quarterback. Unfortunately he is either naive or stupid. Check out this quote from Tom Brady:
I don't think anyone ever takes any cheap shots. Not in football."

Maybe Brady forgot about the cheap shot that his teammate took at the end of week 4 of this season:
OLB Mike Vrabel was fined $5,000 by the NFL for unneccesary roughness
Sunday's game against the Browns. A league spokesman confirmed the fine,
which was for driving an opponent toward the quarterback after the ball was
The play in question came with 11 seconds left and Browns
Derek Anderson spiking the ball.

Just in case you were wondering, the score of the game at the time of the cheap shot was 34 - 17 or 3 possessions. Seems pretty cheap to me.
Embedded below is the video of the play for which he was fined. Note at the end the commentator says "somehow Mike Vrabel was still playing". This brings up another point about why the Patriots are stupid: they leave their star players in the game well after the outcome has been decided. Brady, Moss, Welker, Vrabel and all of the other first teamers should be pulled out of the game with the leads that the Patriots have built up. This would not only protect them from injury, but also give the backups experience in case there is an injury. But Belichick is a stubborn, vindictive man. JM

Acts 7:1-60

Passion is powerful. Passion can get you killed. Passion can make other people think you are crazy, or a heretic. The problem is that other people don't care what you're passionate about. At least not naturally. Sure they may be nice and listen to you, but you have to convince people to transfer passion. It doesn't matter if you're trying to communicate vision, talk about your favorite restaurant, or share the gospel, you have to find the common ground with your audience. JM

The Colts Have Perspective

Another reason I like the Colts is that they have perspective. Dungy lost his son in December 2005 and then won the super bowl the following season. I think that along with his personal relationship with Jesus helped put winning the Super Bowl in perspective. Yes, it's awesome to succeed in your profession, but it's not the reason we're alive. I love this picture taken shortly after the Colts won the Super Bowl last year (note the Lombardi trophy just kind of sitting there). JM