Organic Community

I just finished reading Organic Community by Joseph Myers.  Amazing book that covers a lot of the same stuff that A New Kind Of Youth Ministry talked about as far as making sure people don't have to follow your 5 step plan to find God, but designing a structure in which they can discover God in their own way.  It was a good read and I know it's shaped a lot of the ideas that our high school guy and college guy are implementing now, so I'm definitely glad I read it.  JM

First Time

This morning was my first time speaking to my new middle school group.  I think it went well.  All I did was talk about myself.  I covered my basic rules, what they need to know about me, and what I'm going to do for them.  They seemed to respond well.  Lots of laughs, which is what I was hoping for.  
Right now I'm just trying to get them to like me and trust me.  Then hopefully I can give them Biblical truth and they might actually try to implement it in their lives.  JM

Acts 10:17-23

It's tough to earn respect.  It's even tougher when people have prejudices going against them.  Whether they're fat, or dumb, or white, or whatever, it can be tough to overcome that and earn respect.  
One of the lame things about my job is that I know that some people will not respect me pretty much no matter what I do.  They are unhappy with something and so they will find something wrong with what I do.  Or don't do.  I guess it would be dumb to demand their respect.  Or wear myself out trying to earn it.  The best thing to do is probably just do what I know is right and let them do what they have to do.  Life's just easier that way.  JM


Logo Lounge

I love logos.  Really I love everything about marketing.  I stumbled across this site that talks about trends in logos from 2007.  Pretty interesting to see.  JM

Acts 10:9-18

A lot of the stuff that happens to us doesn't make a lot of sense, because we're not God.  We don't have the benefit of seeing time laid out before us from beginning to end.  We're concerned with the here and now.  With our own little piece of the world.  So when something bad happens to us, we ask God why.  When something really good happens to us, we wonder why.  That's kind of the whole point of faith, though, trusting that God has our best interest in mind.  Just think how screwed up life would be if I got everything I wanted.  JM



I now partially own a 2007 Toyota 4Runner.  It's really a pretty cool car.  I can't wait to own it all 5 years from now.  JM

Acts 10:1-8

It's incredible to me how people in the Bible respond to God's directions.  Almost always they obey immediately.  They don't sit around and wait for confirmation, they go ahead and start doing what they need to do.  
I know some of those stories are different than how God usually speaks today, but people seem to never react the same way now.  When we feel like God has spoken to us, we sit around, we study, we pray, we talk to people, we make sure everything makes sense, and then we obey.  I bet God finds that pretty frustrating.  I love when I tell my son something once and he does exactly what I asked rather than having to explain why.  JM


I'm Dating Jesus

In student ministry you hear about a lot of break-ups that happen because someone has decided to "just date Jesus" for a while.  It always seemed weird to me.  I love this post (which is about that and so much more) by Prodigal Jon.  Here's my favorite lines:

Me: (Nervous and a little sweaty) “Hi, do you want to go to Outback Steakhouse? (At our college that was considered a 5 star date night)
Girl: “Thanks, but right now I’m dating God.”

I love that answer. Basically, it makes me feel as if instead of asking you to have a blooming onion appetizer I have in fact asked you to break up with God. The only thing standing between me and a possible date was the Alpha and Omega, the very creator of the universe was blocking me. No wonder I was sweaty.


This year we debated waking up early to go out shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.  After reading this post, I'm so glad that we didn't.  I never thought about how once I get in the store after waiting in line, I might have to wait an hour to actually pay for my item.  So not worth it.  JM

New Car

My wife and I are going to look at cars tomorrow.  We're going to check out some used Highlanders.  We really like them, but the bad thing about them is that they're not free.  Too bad, because that would work better in our budget.  Hopefully we can get something cheap and nice.  JM

Acts 9:36-43

If you died, would people care enough to want you back?  More than just your family, I mean generally would people in your community want you back alive?  I know the answer for me is no.  But what if I lived differently and constantly was known for my kind acts.  I bet the answer would be different.  
Obviously, that shouldn't be the desire of our lives, but it kind of shows the power of a life lived selflessly in community.  My life will have to look a lot different to get there, though.  I'm so self-absorbed.  We all are.  We don't like to take time to really know people.  To really understand.  If we help people, it's for our own personal benefit usually (a happy feeling of doing our good deed quota).  JM


I've always felt that people, and students especially, love to meet expectations.  If we expect them to be respectful, then they will generally be respectful.  If we expect them to misbehave, then they will generally misbehave.  
Here's a great post from Danielle about the importance of treating people with respect and the human desire to meet expectations.  Interesting read so click through, but here's my favorite part: 
And as we listen to her relay this story to us, we are all stunned --our mouths gaping open in horrified amazement.
"Weren't you scared? " We asked.
"Of course I was."
"Why didn't you just let the cops take him away?"
"Because, if you treat someone like an animal, they are going to act like an animal.
Because, you guys, if you want someone to act respectful, you must first treat them with respect."

Dream Big

Love this post by Brody Harper on the importance of keeping your dreams alive and not settling for mediocrity.  I like to say that people sacrifice their dreams at the altar of practicality.  It's sad, but we all do it.  I just hope to do it less than most people.  JM

New Computer

I got a new computer the other day.  It's a Macbook Pro.  I like it, but I don't love it, yet.  I'm still trying to get acclimated.  I was told that I'll love it because it's keyboard shortcut friendly, and I've always been a fan of those.  Of course, Safari just crashed on me, so that doesn't seem all that different from my PC.  At least I'm cool now.  JM

Acts 9:32-35

The emotional part of a decision is usually the easiest.  Like saying you want to lose weight, or quit smoking, or whatever.  It's the follow-through that gets a little bit tough.  But that's really the whole point of commitment.  That's what makes change remarkable: it looks so dramatically different.  Getting out of our "bed" is one thing, but it's something altogether different to "make our bed".  JM


Merry Christmas

Daily posting will start again tomorrow night.  Until then, enjoy your Christmas.  JM


Losing My Computer

I won't have a computer until Wednesday because my church that I'm leaving owns it. Consequently, I won't be posting until then. Pray that my house sells quickly. I'll be staying with family until it does. JM


Acts 9:29-31

Sometimes the best thing to do is to run away. Everybody loves to make a glorious stand and fight for justice, but that's not always what God wants. Sometimes the fight will be to distracting to the goal. Sometimes the fight cannot be won no matter what you do. So you do what you have to do and move on. JM


Dreams Of Flying

These photos seem so cool to me. I'd love to have something like this with my kids. JM

prevaricate = lie

I didn't know that to prevaricate means to lie. Now I do thanks to my handy-dandy internet vocabulary game that also donates rice through the United Nations to end world hunger. I'm stuck on level 40, but I'm giving tons of rice away. You should too. JM

Gift Cards

A lot of times we are pressured into foolish decisions simply by the culture we live in. Seth Godin has a great post about the gift card industry, which last year profited companies more than $8,000,000,000 dollars. The post is definitely worth the clickthrough, but here's my favorite paragraph:
Along the way, we bought the story that giving someone a hundred dollar
bill as a gift ("go buy what you want") is callous, insensitive, a crass
shortcut. Buying them a $100 Best Buy card, on the other hand, is thoughtful.
Even if they spend $92 and have to waste the rest.

I know I've wasted money on gift cards before and never really thought about where that money was going. JM

Acts 9:27-28

It's tough to become a new person. It's tough to change. It's easy to be stuck in a rut. Once you're known for something, people expect you to keep it up. They wait for you to do more of the same. Whether it's something positive or negative. The problem is that these expectations make it harder for people to change. If a student is known as a troublemaker, the other students freak out when they don't do something bad. If a student is known as a perfect kid, then they have to basically kill somebody and eat them to shake off that image.
That's why the role of Barnabas is so important. Somebody that will come alongside people and encourage them. Help them through their transition and see the desire for change, for improvement. I wish I was more like that. JM


Student Ministry

Student ministry is not my job. It's not even my career. It's my passion.
I hate it when people think it's only my job. I hate it when people think it's only my career.
I didn't take a new position because I have family around. I didn't take a new position to use it to further my career.
I took it because I feel that it's where God wants me to be. It's a chance for me to expand my passion.
I love students. I think a lot of student ministers have lost that. They love talking about ministry. They love coming up with ideas. They love using trendy words, reading books, and going to conferences. But they've lost their love of students. It just got kind of left behind. That almost happened to me. I'll fight however hard I have to to prevent it from happening to me.
I hear about student minsters leaving churches all the time to go to bigger churches or better opportunities. Sometimes they're not even at their church very long and then they go to a different church in the same town. I wonder if they love their students, or if they just love their career. JM

Acts 9:22-26

This is going to sound lame and trivial, but I feel just like Saul in this passage. He had just made a major decision and was going through a significant life change, but nobody was with him. The people that he was going to didn't believe that he had changed, and the people that he had left had just kind of let him go without helping him transition.
I feel like right now my wife and I are all alone. We're leaving our church. I know the people there care about me and love me. We're going to a church where I know God wants me to be and I know that people will love me. But for some reason I don't feel it. I'm just kind of overwhelmed by the emotion. When it comes down to it, I'm a pleaser. I want people to be happy. I want people to like me. And I hate hurting people. Especially people that I love. It hurts me. I mean, it really grieves me.
When I first started talking to my new church about going up there I had no idea it would hurt this much. I'm extremely excited about my new job, but right now this sucks. JM


Care Enough To What?

I ran across this church website the other day. While I am certainly not this church's target demographic (judging by the music and the picture), I found their slogans interesting.
The first (by position only, I'm not sure if it's more important than the next one or not) is:
Where Families Fellowship in Fayetteville
I think they were just shooting for alliteration here, but why use the word fellowship? Why is the only emphasis on families fellowshiping? Why not emphasize the spiritual?
The second slogan is:
Small enough to know you
Big enough to grow you
Care enough to show you
I don't get the first two lines (are big churches incapable of knowing me? are small churches incapable of growing me?), but the last one just doesn't make sense to me grammatically. I don't have any idea what they're saying.
This site is not alone in doing a poor job of marketing, and I certainly screw up marketing my ministry everyday, but I really found their site interesting.

Teen Drug Preferences

Here's an interesting study on teen drug use. While overall drug use is down, teens prefer prescription pain killers. Good information for anyone in student ministry. JM

Acts 9:20-21

It's awesome when God transforms a life. What's so incredible about it is that it is such a catalytic event for God to minister through that person to transform other lives. When there is a dramatic storyline, and really every redemption story is, it's exciting to hear about. It's exciting to watch the change. It's exciting to be a part of.
And that excitement rubs off. The most exciting ministries to me are the ones that are reaching people for Jesus. I'm not trying to discount the necessity of creating disciples, but the actual redemption event is the most exciting thing in the world. I hope I never lose the desire to be around it. JM


Work Party

Tomorrow is our work Christmas party and I'm in charge of designing the game. I'm going to be up for a while doing this. I'll post something exciting that happened to me today tomorrow. I'm continually amazed at the generosity of my church and the people in it. JM

Acts 9:17-19

I cannot imagine the relief that Ananias and Saul felt at the end of this. Ananias was worried that he was going to be killed. Saul was worried that he would be blind forever. It's amazing how much your life changes when you encounter God. It makes you think about all the stuff you did before. Your impurity stands in sharp contrast to God's holiness. It's an extremely humbling and grateful position. JM



Change isn't easy. Here's a fascinating photo essay about a guy that was in prison for 16 years for a crime he didn't commit. It's interesting to watch his transition to freedom and his struggle to fit in and the refusal of our society to accept that which does not fit into a norm beyond interacting with them as we would a carnival freak-show. JM

Observational Worship

As times continue to change, I think the average worshipper is changing from being a responsive participant in worship to being an observational participant. Check out this video. It's from a recent opening from Buckhead church. Notice how hard everybody is working to pull off such an amazing opening. Feel the energy of the song. But watch the heads. They barely even move in response to the beat. Interesting.
At our church we talk about how to get our people to participate and be responsive in worship. I'm not sure if it's really like that anymore. I think people will respond by observing and praising, but we won't see anything that will make them stand out, especially if we continue to interact with them in the same format.
If we give worshippers a chance to interact in a personal way with a spiritual truth (prayer stations, experiential activities) I think they'll respond and really be engaged. Just thinking.

Acts 9:10-16

I love reminding God of stuff that he has overlooked. I mean, it's cool that God gives me direction and leads me and all, but He's busy with so much stuff that He sometimes forgets some of the details.
Case in point: I feel like God is calling me to a job that I've accepted in St. Louis. The problem is that God forgot that my wife is pregnant. So we need to get up there now and get situated. God also forgot that I have a house that I need to sell before we're able to get a place of our own up there. God also didn't notice, and why should He, that the housing market is really rough right now with home sales declining along with prices.
What's really crazy, though, is that God hasn't forgotten these things. He's known all about them the whole time. He's working it all out for my good. But my actions don't reflect that fact. Instead, I worry about it. I feel like I need to be doing something rather than just sitting back and letting God sweat the details. He's a lot better at it anyway. JM


TV Addiction

I hate TV. I don't really watch a lot, but find that I can spend several hours in front of it without even realizing it. Here's a great post about how to break your addiction to TV. Pretty insightful, if you struggle with it. JM

Fogo De Chao

Some very good friends took us to Fogo De Chao last night. I had been to a churrascaria twice before, but that was in Brasil. This was my first time to go in the states. If you're not familiar, basically it's a bunch of meat that guys walk around with on skewers and serve you at your table.
It was awesome. The meat was amazing. If you ever have the chance to go, you should go, just make sure you're not paying. I would guess that our bill for our party of 4 was around $300. Pretty steep when you consider Chick-Fil-A would have been around $20.

Acts 9:3-9

A lot of times following God will not make a lot of sense to the people around us. We can be convinced that it's what God wants us to do, but sometimes people will look at us like we're crazy. When I told people that I took a ministry job back where my family and my wife's family is, they all thought it was solely because of family. I guess that's part of it. It will be nice. But really, the youth ministry that I will be a part of is awesome and that's the reason I'm going. God has opened the door for an amazing opportunity for me, and I seized it. It's just tough for other people to see it that way. It's important to remember that God hasn't spoken to them about it, so they're just seeing it on face value. JM

Censoring Comments

The other day I commented on one of the blogs that I subscribe to. I disagreed with something that the author had said and wanted to give her a different perspective on her subject. The blog moderated comments, though, so I knew it would be a while before my comment showed up. I personally don't moderate comments, but I don't have the traffic that more professional blogs do, and most of the stuff I write about is far from inflammatory, although you might disagree with me on the adorability of my children.
Two days have passed, and my comment has still not appeared. Meanwhile, 4 other comments have been posted all praising the author's genius. If you're going to allow comments on you blog, and I think you should, then let people disagree with you. That's the beauty of blogging. Not only is it an online journal and idea repository, it is a dialogue between you and anybody else who happens to stop by your little corner of the internet. JM


Noah's Christmas Concert

Noah had a good show tonight. About 500 people came out to hear him sing. Pretty full house. Not a lot of merch sales, but we expect that to pick up later on from the online store. Here's some pictures. My kid's the one in the striped sweater. JM

Acts 9:1-2

Being passionate about something doesn't mean your right. A lot of times, especially in Christian circles, if someone speaks passionately or emotionally about something, the we feel we must support them and to not do so would be not Christ-like or sinful. I don't think that's true. You still have to evaluate the actual content of what someone is saying even if they're crying when they say it, or they speak emotively on the subject.
About a year ago someone suggested a new ministry for our church. I didn't feel like it was the right move for our church because of our cultural context. But the person presenting the idea spoke to the staff emotionally and passionately. They got choked up at a particularly sensitive and personal part. At the end of the presentation, there was no discussion whatsoever as to whether or not we should pursue this ministry. There was no discussion at all about researching it to find out more about it. The ministry was officially part of our church from that moment on. Since then, the ministry has kind of floundered along, not doing much, wasting energy and effort, and with few others who share this person's passion.
Just because you cry, you're not right. Just because you yell, you're not right. JM


Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye properly is important. It's great to leave on good terms when you can, and you usually can. And even when you leave on bad terms, you can still leave well. I'm trying to do whatever I can to make sure that I leave well and don't burn any bridges.
I read a great post by Seth Godin on leaving well the other day. Check it out. JM


Here's a great post about how distractions can prevent us from achieving what we really want. So many times we get carried away with doing lots of good things it prevents us from doing anything truly great. Click through, but here's a quote for you:
"You know how sucky Stevie Wonder’s songs would have been if he had to run a
&*^%#$’ clothing company and a cologne line?"


Acts 8:32-40

I love how Philip used that passage to transition into presenting the gospel to this guy. And what's really incredible is that he talked about more than just salvation, he talked about baptism, too. A lot of people like to use this verse as proof that baptism is part of salvation. I don't really see it that way. The guy just wanted to be baptized because he so passionately wanted to show that he was a follower of Jesus.
I think it's important for us to be able to think on our feet. So many people have certain methods of presenting the gospel that require the person to ask a certain question and sit through a 5 minute presentation. That seems lame to me. I think if we're familiar with it and truly understand it, then we should be able to communicate that truth however we feel we need to. JM

Great News!

It's a great time to sell your house because home sales are at a record low and home prices have fallen 5.1% in the last year. Yet, if God wants somebody to buy my house, he'll make it happen no matter what the conditions are. JM


This movie looks incredibly interesting to me. It's Ben Stein doing a documentary on how scientists who support intelligent design are being mistreated and removed from important positions. JM



Here's my resignation as I read it to the second hour worship service. JM

Telling The News

It's so tough to drop a bomb like announcing your resignation, and I had to do it four times. I told middle school at 9:15, high school at 9:30, our first service at 10:10, and our second service at 11:45. Each one was unique, but I said the same thing to both MS and HS and something different to the services.
The notes of what I told MS and HS I posted yesterday.
Telling MS was tough because I work with these students every week. They took it really well. It was so quiet in the room. I didn't have any problems maintaining my composure (even though I don't ever cry, I thought I might doing this). At the end there were a few questions that mainly dealt with logistics. It was interesting to see their reactions afterward. Two of the 8th grade guys that I know very well just kind of walked right past me. I don't think they were mad or anything, but just didn't know what to say or do. It's weird for them. Heck, it's weird for me. The 8th grade girls spent their small group hour crying about it. It took me a long time to earn their trust, but I finally did about a year ago. They've been awesome this year and are really the best leaders I have. They help plan our events and plan an opening time for the MS girls every Sunday morning.
Telling HS was actually a little bit tougher because of my relationship with the 10th grade guys. They were sitting to my left and I had trouble making eye contact with them. I'm sure it hurt them pretty good. I know it hurt me to tell them. Most of them responded well, but some of them you could tell didn't know what to do. It's just an awkward situation all around. I'm sure I'll probably have to do it again at some point, but I really don't like doing it. JM

Acts 8:26-31

I love how when most people are speaking to students about quiet times, they just say read the Bible. As if a student is supposed to go home, crack open the Bible, and something magical happens. I hate that. I mean, the Bible is a tool that should be used to discover God, and it should be my job and the job of the church in general to help people learn how to use it. I'm so thankful that people took the time to explain how to study it to me. Otherwise it would just sit there unread like most other Christian's Bibles. I guess part of discipleship should be to "be Philip" to people. JM


I Quit

I quit my job today. It was weird telling the middle school and high school students. I'll post some more about all of this later as well as the whole process that I went through. I'll post the video of me announcing my resignation in big church tomorrow. I'll also post as we go through this transition. It will be cool to look back at eventually, but right now it's just kind of sad. JM


Here's what I told our church this morning.

I'm going to tell you:
1. What's happening
2. How it happened
3. Why it's happening
4. How it affects you

What's happening - I am submitting my resignation effective 12.17.07. Basically that means that I'm quitting my job as the associate youth pastor at First Baptist Peachtree City and that my last day will be 12.16.07.

How it happened - On 08.02.07 I got a call asking me if I would be interested in the MS position at First Baptist Harvester. This is the church that I grew up in and left 4 years ago to come work at FBCPTC. I told Harvester that I was happy where I was, but that I would be interested in exploring the possiblity at Harvester. I talked to them a couple of times over the next few months. In November, I flew up to St. Louis for an interview. I received an offer shortly after this interview, and accepted it on 11.20.07. I told Pastor Steve and Jim of my decision on 11.19.07 and we talked about what my departure should look like.

Why it's happening - I feel like God is leading me there. That's kind of a nebulous statement, so to break it down a little bit more, I feel like it's a great ministry. The student ministry at Harvester is amazing and I really feel like I line up closely with where the other youth ministers there feel that youth ministry is heading. This is also the church that I grew up at, so I have a heart for the ministry of the church. Also, both my and my wife's families are there.
Not why it's happening - This isn't happening because I'm mad at somebody, or because I'm frustrated with anything, or because I'm disappointed with something, or because I'm being forced to do it. I am leaving on very happy terms and Peachtree City is being very understanding of this transition.

How it affects you - I won't be at FBCPTC anymore. The nature of my job is that I will go to a different church now. And this church will be 600 miles away. It's normal to feel emotions about something like this. I certainly am. You may feel sad, mad, happy, or be apathetic about it. Or you may experience these emotions at different stages.
Please feel free to talk to me, Jim, your teachers, or your parents about any questions or concerns you may have, or just to help you process through this experience. Also, please don't forget me. I invested in your life because I want to see you become all that God has for you. Please keep me updated on how you're doing. Come and visit if you can, but wait until I have a house. Please talk to me. It may seem awkward at first, but it'll be worth it. My family will be leaving the south on 12.18.07 and moving up to St. Louis. I hope to see you before we leave and hopefully we can see you after we leave sometime, too. JM



One more day. I'm getting sad. JM