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LIFE AS A MIDDLE MANN

Bono's Top Ten

I've got little more to offer these days than links to those who have much...here is one such link.

Bono's take on the top ten things he hopes the next ten years bring from the New York Times.

TOP TEN

Back to grading and painting for me, more blogging later.

Why Adopt From Ethiopia?


• One in six children die before their fifth birthday
• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
• 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.
• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
• In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)
• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
• Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.
• Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.

My preaching needs your help.

My preaching does need help. In more ways than one.

One way my preaching gets help is by sitting down each Friday AM with these clowns and discussing a few things related to the previous weekend's message.



We ask whether the message was true to the text, relevant, interesting and applicable. This group is good at what they do and they're helping my preaching improve by leaps and bounds. I don't always like and agree with what they tell me, but that is kind of the point. I don't need 'fans,' I need coaches, and I've got a great set here. We also discuss the message that is going to be preached the upcoming weekend and take a look at the outline for the message in 10 days. It helps bring four different styles and communicators onto the same page and headed in the same direction.


I also get encouragement cards each weekend from 10-20 people each weekend I preach that help me understand what resonated and how God used what I shared to teach, encourage, or build up. If I don't listen to those who listened I miss something significant. I love feedback. If teachers aren't teachable then what do they have to say? As a teacher it's my job to push my pride aside and listen objectively to the response that my message brings. Sometimes my grammar is fixed, sometimes my references are corrected, sometimes my theology is challenged, sometimes my intention is questioned, but I'm always affirmed. I love this place and appreciate the affirmation of the preacher I am and the preacher I'm becoming. If you ever want to listen to one or pass one on they can be found in one place here.

*I'd hope this would go without saying but let me be clear. I don't preach for the response and approval of people. I speak as accurately, clearly and convincingly as I can what I believe God wants me to say and how he wants me to say it. But, I can often tell how well I listened to the Spirit by listening to the listeners. Preaching is increasingly about listening for me.

Another way my preaching needs help is from you! I'm on the weekend of Dec 26/27 and I'm attempting something unique. To pull it off I need YOUR help. Would you be willing to listen to a message from this last year and pass on to me the 2-3 points that especially spoke to you? This is going to be a collaborative effort looking back on the significant year of 2009 for Salem Alliance. It should take around 30 minutes and there are 20 more spots available! If you're interested, follow the steps below:

Step 1 Go to this page and find an available date. It will be updated as they are taken. Once you find one...come back to this email and go to step two

Step 2 Fill in your name and date you’re taking here.

Step 3 Download/listen to your message at the link here or from iTunes. Listen for at least 2, no more than 3 solid/passionate/anointed/summarizing/powerful (5-25 seconds/1-4 sentence) sound bites from the message you listened to.

Step 4 Click this link and let me know what your sound bites were and when in the message they occurred! Then click submit, that’s all!

IN REVIEW Pick a message Listen to a message Find 2-3 nuggets from your message and input into form.

THANKS!

March 4?

My last blog post was March 4? I know, I know, back so soon you ask? Well, here I am. back on the wagon determined to invest more energy and writing into this wonderful little spot on the internet. Anyone still here? I'll try to take this whole thing less seriously which will lead me to post more.

Are you buying it?

No, not another money post.

A creative way to engage a community on a relevant topic that extends to billboards, radio spots, direct mailers and tv commercials. Wow. I'm curious if my reader(s) like this stuff...I think I'm still curious if I like this stuff.

Are you buying it?

Money Money Money

A wise person once said something witty and profound about money. But I don't remember and don't want to look for anything. So, instead I give you four recent blog posts/articles (all 60 second reads or less) that focus on the topic.

If/when I'm leading an organization/church/anything/non-profit, I'm going to make a big deal about money. I just decided. That's not true, I have felt that way for a long time but it seems more dramatic to say you just decided to do something.

That being said, said articles:

Joe Biden Ticks Me Off

Let's Give $1 Million Away

It Just Makes Cents

The Surprising Truth about American Generosity

Drunk Pastor

Huge props for creativity on this one. Fits the 'made to stick' paradigm of Simple, Unexpected, Concrete...

Link

Services I'm using

Every once in a while I appreciate the twitterers and blogs I follow letting me in on the services, products or websites they're utilizing. Here's my latest:

Mint

Twitterfeed

Things

Pandora

Indexed

Think

Now your turn? What must I check out?!

Did you mean:

That's just funny. Do you see it? Click for a closer look.

No, no that's not what I meant.

Denominations

Like em? Love em? Leave em?

Well, if you're the latter you're not alone. Irregardless, me and my Christ-following homeboys and homegirls are a part of one. I prefer to call it a worldwide network of churches but it's all semantics. Actually, I take that back, as I recently was reminded in a book I'm reading called Axiom, "language matters" and here's a link to that chapter summarized.

Irre-irregardless, I was reading about the XXX Church dudes and the fact that they're starting a church in Las Vegas called Strip Church (what a sweet name for a church on the strip). They had a recent news and highlights section and what did I find there under recent supporters but the network of churches I call home. Way to go Christian and Missionary Alliance, props to you/us/them, whatever, you get the idea.

Bill Gates wants to change the world...

And here are some of his latest ideas from Ted.
Here.
18 minutes well worth the watching.

Apple products will get you laid.

Their words, not mine. Read here for a well-written blog post from the one-and-only Donald Miller with his latest take on an aspect of society.

You should follow his blog too, I do, it's free.

Read the article here.

Happy Birthday Me

In honor of my birthday the Academy has chosen to nominate my new favorite movie, Slumdog Millionaire, for 10 different awards, including best picture. This was so very thoughtful of them and I'd like to extend my warm personal thanks. To all those who are above the age of 17, I invite you to see if you'd like this movie! Here's a taste. And for those in Salem, the two closest places playing it are Salem Cinema and Bridgeport, enjoy!

Blue Tangerine

Quote of the Day

The easiest kind of relationship for me is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one. - Joan Baez

Dear City of Salem,

What a wretched man I am.



I took the personal journey tool a while back and my lowest "C" was character. I'll explain what that last sentence means at some point but the following story is the reason why.

Let me set the stage. I work at a church. Our church has a kitchen. I don't like to prepare food to eat and therefore often don't eat lunch, or other meals. On days when my day has stretched into the early afternoon without a noon meal I venture up to said kitchen to see if anyone has left some food. You see, with a lot going on at our church there are often leftovers. Some lasagna from yesterday's elder meeting, a vegetable tray from a Hearts at Home lunch and raw onions from someone who gives the staff bags and bags of raw onions.

Today, at 2:45PM I decided to venture upstairs and check the kitchen. There are two routes to get to the kitchen. There is the main-church-hallway/walk-past-the-staff-mailboxes/receptionist-desk route and the through-the-smaller-sanctuary back route. Because I don't want fellow staff members to realize I'm an above-average kitchen-checker I almost always use the back route. Then, I can listen outside the door to see if people are inside. If I hear voices, I usually scram. I can't let people know I was there. I prefer to do my kitchen sneaking in a, well, sneaky way.

By the time I reached the kitchen, at approximately 2:46, I realize I am in luck. On the counter is the better part of a chocolate cake (not really my style), a browning salad bowl of...salad, and two doughnuts. I probably shouldn't eat straight sugar on an empty stomach so after eating one doughnut I get a bowl of salad. I check the refrigerator for dressing, check. I see if there is any pop, check--some coupla-day old Diet Coke. I'm not above that. After chitchatting with some other kitchen guests (shoot, they saw me!) I'm again alone in the kitchen. I'm not proud of what happens next. Remember the two doughnuts? The two doughnuts in the kitchen for this staff of fifty people? The, I'm-lucky-there-was-any-food-at-all-three-hours-after-lunch-why-can't-you-share-you-selfish-doughnut-mongering-pig doughnuts, yeah, I ate both.

Someday, maybe when I'm fifty, I'll be 'that guy' that walks into 'that' situation and doesn't take all remaining food in sight simply because no one will ever know. 'That guy' will share 'then.' Until 'then,' the only sharing I'm doing is here, hoping to get some release from my guilty conscience.

A risky quote

A friend sent this to me and it resonated with me. What about you?

"The Bible says that Judas was a thief and Jesus knew it [see John 12:4-7]. Yet Jesus made Judas the treasure of his ministry. Why would Jesus make Judas the treasurer when He knew that he was a thief? ...there are only two reasons I can think of. The first one is that Jesus was trying to make Judas fail. But that doesn't seem like the Jesus I know....The second reason I can think of is that Jesus developed a culture of faith around Him. This faith culture was manifested in Jesus' trusting people before they deserved it. This resulted in eleven men becoming world-changers and one man hanging himself. World-changers are only developed in a culture of faith. Faith requires risk and the nature of risk is that sometimes you lose. ...If you don't produce a Judas now and then, you don't trust people as much as you should and you are reducing the number of Peters you will produce. The Kingdom is entered into by faith, lived in through faith, and extended with faith manifested through risk!"

Kris Vallotten "Developing a Supernatural Lifestyle"

Props

This is good...this is veery good.

Burkina Faso 2009

This past weekend had a lot going on especially as it relates to Student Ministry and missions at Salem Alliance. We had our second annual reach and was so thrilled on a variety of levels to see the dream of a 'new normal' become a reality as we take seriously our role in discipling students towards worldwide kingdom impact. It also marked the day of the first team meeting for our Student Ministry's second trip to Burkina Faso, Africa, in the last year. I was asked to lead this team and I couldn't be more excited, save one significant piece of disappointment. The excitement? Leading my first international team with two phenomenal other team leaders and nine ridiculously cool kids. Fifteen kids who all could have gone and done great applied which allowed me the brutal chance to crush/postpone six student's dreams for a bit. Not fun. But, March 19-April 1 will be another step forward for our Student Ministry, these particular student's lives and the work God is doing in West Africa. The significant piece of disappointment? There's some conspicuously absent from the team picture below...yuppers, my wife is not going to be able to join me. Which means two sad things, I take two of her small group girls on a trip that is right up her heart's alley, and I spend the longest time I've ever been away from her. The powers that be thought this first trip I lead would be best done with a seasoned short-term trip leader and a construction stud who volunteers for our high school ministry, two amazing individuals but not my favorite person in the world. The show must go on but it breaks my heart to go this one alone. Here's our good-looking team!

Reach 2008

A heart+creativity+good design=

Powerful imagery that moves people to action.

Here's my favorite from a cool page that shows 22 other examples of good design for good causes, check it out here.

Monday Miscellaneous

Welcome to Monday Miscellaneous! Aka, (all together now) "My only post of the week!"

Middle school fall retreat this weekend-good times had by all. The theme was snapshots and even had one of those photo booths that would give a string of four pictures! We took about 1/4 of our group, a little small unfortunately, maybe because of price. We had a powerful time as a group on Sat night as students opened up and shared some heavy stuff, it was so encouraging to see our groups grow further and together at the same time.

Got sick near the end of last week. Being sick is my least favorite thing in the world. My method of coping? Quarantine myself, drink gobs of water, stay away from sugar, down vitamin C, get a ridiculous amount of sleep and do nothing in hopes of wiping it out in a day rather than it lingering for a week. Here's to waking up healthy manana!

Decided to get my iphone unlocked/upgraded to 2.0, that way it can do all those fun things you see in the commercials. Another $35 though, hence why I had been putting it off. But I got some unexpected $$ love and decided to splurge!

Speaking five times at a spiritual emphasis week this coming monday at Western Mennonite school, I'm getting very excited. Theme verse- 21 Cor 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Overslept an early appt with my senior pastor this past week, of all my brilliant moments that is now near the top.

My wife's a stud and is a phenomenal blogger and is quite nice to me in said blog posts, i'm not as cool as she paints me out to be, check her out here! Not like that...

Monday Miscellaneous

This monday has twenty minutes left, I better hurry!

Finished the class I was co-teaching/TA-ing with my dad, leadership and culture. It really was a lot of fun, more work than I expected, but good to be done.

Only problem is I don't do well with 'less.' Just ask my wife. There's probably some deep-seated reason for that I'll have to pay some counselor to tell me what and why. I'm not sure what the time will get filled with!

My attempts at eating 3 meals a day are going great! Random, but, trying to stay healthy and so far I'm achieving that about 75% of the time.

My attempts at exercising 3 times a week...yeah, not so much. I used to play soccer once a week, no more. I used to play tennis once a week, no more. I used to do this thing called running, no more. I'm frustrated and feeling the effects of it. What to do.

Had an amazingly awesome wonderful start to our midweek last week. A solid, huge-energy night that had WAAY more students than we expected. Let's say we were 30% bigger than when we ended last year? What happened?!? Maybe our church is finally growing again...maybe starting in october instead of september allowed interest to grow, maybe...kids actually like it?

Watched Body of Lies over the weekend, wow, we completely loved it.

Spoke this weekend to middle school and high school (most were on their fall retreat) on nonviolence and the New Testament. Not a true sermon, mostly the things I've been wrestling with regarding Jesus' words on love, enemies, nonviolence, and the times in which we live.

Difficult Languages

As my wife and I explore learning a new language, which we've always been fascinated by, I'm reminded of the difficulty of our mother tongue, English. Here is something I came across that exemplified some of the odd aspects of the English language.

Let's face it English is a stupid language.
There is no egg in the eggplant
No ham in the hamburger
And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.
English muffins were not invented in England
French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted
But if we examine its paradoxes we find that
Quicksand takes you down slowly
Boxing rings are square
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

If writers write, how come fingers don't fing.
If the plural of tooth is teeth Shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth
If the teacher taught,
Why didn't the preacher praught.

If a vegetarian eats vegetables
What the heck does a humanitarian eat!?
Why do people recite at a play
Yet play at a recital?
Park on driveways Drive on parkways

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy
Of a language where a house can burn up as
It burns down
And in which you fill in a form
By filling it out
And a bell is only heard once it goes!

English was invented by people, not computers
And it reflects the creativity of the human race
(Which of course isn't a race at all)


That is why
When the stars are out they are visible
But when the lights are out they are invisible
And why it is that when I wind up my watch
It starts
But when I wind up this observation,
It ends.