Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007


Merry Christmas from our house to yours!!!


I hope it was a blessed and great time with family and friends! Thanks for being a part of our lives!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Little Christmas Laughter for you!

I got a big kick out of this, and I think you will too-especially if you are a fan of Jeff Dunham. There are a couple of words and a bit of off color humor, so if you are easily offended you may want to skip it. I appreciate the thanks Achmed "unofficially" gives to the US military. Thanks to all the men and women serving! Enjoy and get a good laugh!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wii like to play!

Once I purchased a Play Station 2 a few years back, I swore off Nintendo forever. I didn't need Mario, because Crash Bandicoot was just as entertaining and as much of a platform game as any Mario title out there. Well I sold the PS2 earlier this year since I didn't play it anymore and thought I was done with gaming except for at the church in the game room. That was until I had the chance to play the Wii at NYC this summer. From the first go around I realized how fun it could be...and how out of shape I was since it definitely requires physical activity to play it. So with all that said...Meg and I are now proud owners of a Nintendo Wii!

So here's to having a lot of fun with it...any maybe losing a few pounds getting some exercise playing. (I really think this was a BRILLIANT move on the part of Nintendo making a system that requires you to exercise to play it. If you are looking for a system that is family friendly (most of the games are rated for younger families) and that gets you going instead of just sitting I would recommend getting one (as soon as you can find one-we got lucky)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Meeting and idol...

We had our annual teen Christmas party Sunday night, and after an evening of feasting, gift "stealing" and stuffing our faces, we headed to a local church to hear Chris Sligh in concert. This was an unplugged show where he gave his testimony and talked about his faith journey through American Idol and beyond. I have to say, he is as genuine and light hearted in person as he was on the show. This was an awesome event for me as he was one of my pics to win last year and I really liked his voice all through the competition. I picked up a copy of his album (I think it is with his band pre-idol) and he rocks out as good as he sings a ballad. Here are a few pics including Meg and I getting to meet him after the show...


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Politics 2008

With the year almost over and an upcoming year of what is likely to be filled with political jargon and propaganda, I thought this picture spoke for itself...
As the primaries arrive next year do your homework and know who you are voting for. I don't care who you choose-just vote...it's your opportunity to make a stand and if you don't vote, don't complain about what happens.


Monday, November 26, 2007

It's time for a playoff...

Okay, so I am thrilled that there is still a snowball's chance in the place of eternal punishment that the Buckeyes may make THE game. It also helps that we beat Michigan...AGAIN! I do feel bad though, Lloyd car was a great coach and I hope it wasn't just because of the loss to OSU. Best wishes to him though.

With all that said though, It is time to let the BCS go and just have a playoff...put them all on the field and let them battle it out. Most likely Hawaii will remain unbeaten and we'll be in the same boat we were with Boise State last year.

Here's to a screwy season and maybe another chance for the Buckeyes...and to hopefully at least tailgating at the game if the Buckeyes make it since it is SO close. We'll see!

PS...check out my good friend Briana's profile sporting the Scarlet and grey as a Michigan fan (since she lost a friendly "wager"). Here's the link- www.myspace.com/BrianaNStopp

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oh Well...

Well I guess it was bound to happen eventually. We lost today against Illinois of all teams. But the good side of all of it is that now the pressure is off and it is ON against Michigan. It should be a great game and the winner gets the Big 10 title...GO BUCKS BEAT MICHIGAN!!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On the record...

Can ya help me?

I've just signed a petition to the 2008 presidential candidates asking them to go on the record and tell us exactly where they stand on fighting extreme poverty and global disease.You can take action on this important cause too by visiting http://www.one.org/ontherecord

Thanks!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Thoughts on the fall tv season...

Well I have finally had a little bit of time to check out the fall shows and get into a viewing pattern, so as promised here are my thoughts on fall television thus far. Let me know what you think...

MONDAY-NBC takes the cake again this year with their lineup. Chuck is perhaps the best new "dramedy" on tv. Heroes is even better this year and I find myself hating the wait for the next weeks new episode. Finally there is Journeyman about a reporter who is an unwilling time traveller. It is defintely worht watching. The only other show I watch on Monday nights (or when I can get to it) is the new CBS comedy Big Bang. It is a comedy about two geniuses who live next door to a not so genius blonde. It provides some great humor and is a good look into society and the stereotypes we have about geeks and blondes. It's worth checking out.

TUESDAY-Tuesday finds me flipping between NBC/ABC. First it's The Biggest Loser and then over to Boston Legal. TBL is good again this year, but I hate the fact that at the beginning of the season they made some of them feel like rejects again before letting them know they were still going to be on the show. Boston Legal I got hooked on last year late, simply because I think the Denny Crane character is hysterical, and i find the cases (althought unreal) intriguing. Two to skip on Tuesday though are Cavemen and Carpoolers. Cavemen was a HUGE letdown and is not the least bit funny. Carpoolers just doesn't keep my attention . I don't see either of them lasting (but I've been wrong before)

WEDNESDAY-Wednesday of course is church night but I record the shows I like and catch them later. Pushing Daisies is a hit as far as I am concerned. It is original, witty, and I love the fairy tale type storylines complete with narrator. It has a bit of a Tim Burton-esque feel that catches my attention. The new Bionic Woman is okay, but I am not 100% sold on it yet. The same goes with Private Practice-I am just not commited to it yet. Two shows I could do without are Kid Nation-I had high hopes for it and didn't even make it through one episode and Phenomenon, which even though I love magic is just not good enough for me.

THURSDAY-Thursday of course includes all the returning shows with Survivor-which is decent this year but I fear on its last leg, The Office and My name is Earl on NBC, and one that I wrote off last year but am now a big fan uf-Ugly Betty on ABC. In fact Ugly Betty is perhaps one of my favorite shows right now, although the adult themes (all of the craziness in the fashion world) do bother me sometimes. Another ABC staple that I have started watching is Grey's Anatomy. While it is more drama than I like sometimes, it provides a good medical drama since ER just isn't good anymore (i'm surprised it is still on).

FRIDAY-When we are home Friday sees us watching Friday Night Lights, which I had written off last year, but again turned out to be a good show. This year it is a little bit edgier but the stories are more compelling. Also I have started checking out Numb3rs on CBS. This cop drama intrigues me in the fact that I know there are people that smart out there.

So that is my viewing pattern for the fall. Any others I am missing that I should check out? I am still getting caught up, but there are others that I am starting to check out like Big Shots, Life, Moonlight, and Dirty Sexy Money which I haven't watched yet.

thoughts?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Speaking of radio...

I mentioned the radio station in one of my earlier posts, and so I thought it would be good to mention that I had my first official show at q100 tonight as a part of our "Flashback weekend." If you heard it, let me know what you thought. I normally of course am just the producer of the morning show, so this was pretty cool. I am not sure what will come of it yet but it was fun to do it and know that it was "my" show.

Movie Review-Bee Movie

So Meg and I had the chance to go catch a movie tonight for the first time since I started working at the radio station, so we decided on the new Jerry Seinfeld movie "Bee Movie." Since I haven't done a review for awhile, I thought I would throw in my two cents...

Honestly I would have to give it a "bee minus." It wasn't bad, it just wasn't that great as far as I was concerned. There were some pretty good puns and some adult humor, but some of the subtle messages about relationships were a little too disturbing, but maybe I was just reading a little too much into it who knows? Not to mention the fact that there seemed to be a little bit of the "love the earth, everything is a part of the greater planet" mentality-again I may be reading too much into it though.

Overall the story wasn't bad, it's about a young bee who gets out of the hive and experiences the real world. I won't say more so as not to spoil the plot, but basically the whole story revolves around his experience and what he learns about the outside world.

There were some decent messages mixed throughout that I think are good to note. And these could possibly be used for illustrations, the biggest being that everyone has something to offer to make a difference, not matter how big or small. I did like that aspect.

Again-not a bad movie overall, but I would say save your money and catch it on DVD when it comes out. Grade B-

a W is a W

Well it was ugly, but a W is a W as far as I am concerned...play like today against Michigan though and we'll lose! Still unbeaten though-GO BUCKS!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Waiting on Kirk and Spock...

So watching the new season of Heroes-which is amazing of course, I have noticed that it seems that there is an abundance of appearances by the original members of Star Trek. First it was Sulu as Hiro's father, now Ohura as the aunt/grandmother of the Nikki's son, I half expect Denny Crane (boston legal-william shatner) to show up defending some unknown Hero character played by Leornard Nimoy. Any idea why they are showing up on the show?

Meet Gizmo...

Here is the new addition to our family (at least for now). We are calling him Gizmo because of the size of his ears...Here are a few pics of the little guy (who is really cute and up for sale):

Can you believe the size of these ears?

Tuckered out after playing...


Hiding in the closet during a storm...


I am trying really hard not to get attached. He sure is cute, and my fear is that if we don't sell him soon he will be a permanent addition to our family.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tornado...

I have received several calls, so let me fill you all in. Yes, a tornado did touch down in Pensacola today, but we are just fine. It hit the southern part of the town in the downtown area and while there is some damage all is okay on our end. I did happen to be at the station when all this went down and so I got to see us in emergency mode and also did some "on site" stuff, but we are all just fine here in Pcola, thanks for asking about us!

-Matt

Monday, October 01, 2007

Did you catch it?

So I am still working on my thoughts on the new TV shows this fall, but did anyone catch the quick reference in tonight's episode of "Chuck" to Oceanic Flight 815 (LOST in case you didn't know what it was from)? I thought that was kind of cute-especially coming from an NBC show. Anyone know why they might throw that in there?

just curious and amused...LOVE "Chuck" by the way, definitely one of this seasons best new shows!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fall Sweeps...

Fall sweeps begins this week with all the new shows and season premieres happening over the next couple of weeks so keep tuned to hear what I have to say about the new seasons and new shows...

2 things I am excited about...
Another new season of Survivor (with a return to the more traditional format)
FINALLY a new season of Heroes!

-Matt

Monday, September 10, 2007

Go Big Blue...

Well this is a couple days late since I have had limited access to the net, but I just have one quick statement...

HOW BOUT THEM WOLVERINES!!!
They're playing the kind of football I like to see! GO BUCKS!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More new puppy pics...

Here are a few updated pictures of the new puppies...ours is the one on the right... They are starting to get the little fuzzball Yorkie puppy look...

Brothers playing with each other...

Wanting Meg to put them down so they can play...

Snuggling and giving Meg a kiss...

We're still not sure if we're going to keep him or not. Meg is getting attached. I told her if we keep him, I'm naming him "Cash Money" to remind us of what we would have had if we had sold him...he is cute though!

You never know who you'll meet on the street...

So last weekend when I was working with the radio station on a remote at the Wharf in Orange Beach, I see this guy who looks familiar. I sort of pass him off as "just one of those guys" but then I heard someone confirm who it was and I was right-sure enough it was Cledus T. Judd from country music and Celebrity Fit Club fame. He spent some time looking through the store we were promoting and also visited with anyone who wanted pictures. He was in town opening up for Gretchen Wilson that night. He was VERY nice, approachable and was just all around a good guy. He has kept the weight off as well. Here is a pic...

I guess you never know who you'll run into some times!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Here's the skinny...

Okay sorry for the lack of posting of late...truth be told I have just been running ragged and have not had the chance to blog. I've been hinting at a few things recently and I can finally talk about them so here is the skinny on our lives right now...


  • The biggest change is that I am going "part time" at the church. This is on a month by month basis, but given the financial situation of the church it was necessary. Since a large portion of our salary is the house, it was easiest to work with my salary to balance the budget. I have a perfect peace about this and the church has made it very clear that they are going to take care of us and I believe that with my whole heart. It is obvious that God is working through this situation as we have had some amazing services since I agreed to this and He also provided the radio job at the perfect time. It seems like every time I looked away from here God pointed us right back in this direction. As it relates to "part time" we all know that really doesn't exist in ministry and I am as dedicated as I always have been to the church and teens and am keeping VERY busy.
  • Speaking of radio, I am still loving it. I go into the station every weekday morning to run the morning show which means I am up at 4:30 every morning. This has been a rough adjustment, but I find that I have a lot more energy since I don't lay around in the morning anymore and when I go to bed I am finally sleeping good! I am not on the air yet, but will hopefully soon be doing news and weather during the morning show. I have done two remotes live and recently cut my first spot (commercial) so my voice has been out there, just not regularly yet. Also this weekend, I'll be heading to see Taylor Hicks in concert for the station and get the chance to take listeners backstage for a meet and greet session. I was a huge fan of his on Idol and so this member of the "soul patrol" is going to have a great time (even if he can't dance). Needless to say, it's a lot of fun!
  • On top of everything else I was recently told that I am now the "interim" (but looks like it's official) district youth president, which means I am the point person for all the district activities relating to teens in the North Florida district. This was also a goal of mine, so I'm excited about it as well.

So life is crazy busy, but needless to say, I am happier than I have been for a long time and with the Lord's help I am managing it all. Thanks for your prayers over these last few months, there have been several times when I wanted to give up, but with your prayers and the Lord I was able to make it through-so if times are tough...HANG IN THERE! I'm praying for ya'll!

PS-Meg is doing great as well, she just started back teaching music again full time and loves it, but could use your prayer as it is at an inner city school and it is tough on her at times.

weight loss battle 07-? weeks in

So not much is really happening in the weight loss realm right now. I have gained a few pounds currently weighing in at 338. I am not too discouraged though as I am wearing pants that are a size smaller than when I started the year so that is good.
I'm still trying to get into the gym, although it really is a struggle to go most of the time since it is a circuit workout and I just don't find joy in it anymore. I just wish I could find some type of exercise that I love.
On the good side of things though, I have more energy than I have for a long time, my blood pressure is down and hopefully when I get my labs back next week I'll see good numbers there as well.

The battle continues!
-Matt

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I knew it!

I knew it wasn't all my fault that I was fat! Now, here is all the proof I need that my weight is caused by a virus....

Now can someone just give me the antibiotic to fix it...and it better not be "Alli" because I don't know about you, but I don't want the "intestinal discomfort" and "potentially embarrassing situations" that are warned about on the label!
Hope ya laughed!
-Matt

Thursday, August 16, 2007

4 years!


On a more serious note, today marks four years of being married to the most wonderful woman in the world...my lovely wife Megan. She makes my life so much more wonderful, I don't know what I would do without her! She is always there when I need to laugh, cry, or simply just be quiet, and she is AMAZING! I love her with all my heart!

Long live the King...

In honor of the remembrance of the passing of Elvis, the "King of Rock-n-Roll," I thought I would post this picture...may his legacy live on forever in the lives of people like this guy:



Long live the king!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Desire...

God is good. He always has been to me, and although I've known it for a long time, I sometimes too easily forget. One of my life verses has always been Psalm 37:4 which states that God will grant you the desires of your heart. That verse means more to me today than it has for some time.

I have now been in ministry for 11 years. I love every minute of it. You may or may not know this, but my other major is in broadcast communications. I am so glad to be working in radio again part time. It has always been a love of mine. I was lucky enough to get into it when I was in high school and continued with it through college. However, when God called me into ministry I sensed the Lord asking if I would give up radio for Him. I was hesitant at first because it was such a love. However, I knew that I simply needed to trust God and He would take care of the rest. Who would have imagined that 11 years later I would be doing BOTH things I love, radio AND ministry. God is good! I do not know what the future holds for me, but for the time being God is granting my desire to do both.

So with all that said, if you are struggling with offering something to the Lord, know that He has your best interest in mind and He will always give you what is best if you trust Him!

Stay strong!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

GGD concert...


Here it is...our pic from the meet and greet w/ the Goo Goo Dolls. Great show along with Colby Caillat and Lifehouse who did a great job as well. If it comes to your town, it is worth checking it out if you are fan of any of the bands. Here's the pic...thanks guys for taking the time!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The New Puppy...

Here ya go...he sure is cute. Anyone interested?


Here he is making his first appearance while we were looking at the other puppy. We did not set this up, he did it on his own.

Here's a close up of his cute little face

You can see just how little he is...

No bigger than the palm of my hand...but still so cute.

Finally a good shot of mom and pups-once we got her to settle down a little bit. We'll have more pictures as he grows so keep watching.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Jack's a daddy!

We received word tonight that Jackson is officially a daddy. Heather (the girl Yorkie we mated Jack with) had her first pup this evening. We don't know yet if they'll be more or if it is a boy or girl and it seems a bit early to me (we're still under 8 weeks) but so far it seems like mom and baby are doing just fine. I'll post pics and more news as I have it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

200 and counting...

Well not much more to say, I just wanted to get this post in so I officially had 200 posts. With that in mind, I am just curious who all reads this thing. I know who some of you are, but I am curious who else reads what I occasionally have to say. Just leave me your name and social (okay no social) and how (if) we know each other. Thanks for taking the time to read occasionally. Ya'll are awesome!

-Matt

This is gonna be cool...

You have heard me talk about Dave Ramsey before. One of the main things he suggests doing as a way of helping to get out of debt quicker is to pick up some extra part time work that doesn't interfere with your job or family life. After much talking, I decided to do that and the result was getting hired on at Cumulus Media here in town. I will be working with them doing some part time radio work. This is awesome as I have been wanting to get back into the broadcasting realm for some time now.

So it looks like I am going to be working mainly with Q100, the modern rock/mix station as well as possibly doing some with the AM news station and perhaps even the soul station (guess I better get in touch with my inner Stevie Wonder). I start tomorrow helping with a remote (man-on-the street at a local business) but the coolest part is that I am helping next Wednesday night with the "VIP Sound check party" (private sound check) for the Goo Goo Dolls concert which will be in town...man this is gonna be cool!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

We're going to be grandparents...

Okay before you freak out and want to know how in the heck this is possible, let me explain. Obviously we have no children yet, but we found out last night that Jackson is going to be a daddy which makes us grandparents. So if you know of anyone who is looking for a pure breed Yorkie, we'll have one for sale this fall. He/She should be ready the first part of October since the litter is due mid-August. Pray the litter is healthy and the mommy does well since it is risky for the female giving birth. I'll post pictures when I have them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Meet me in St. Louis...

Well I am in St. Louis this week for NYC-Nazarene Youth Conference. For my Wesleyan friends, it is basically the equivalent of our big youth conference that happens every four years as well. There are some similarities, and ALOT of differences, but this week I am running around with 9500 other people from the US and Canada. It is a great event and the speakers are wonderful so far, but if I am being honest I sort of feel like an unknown in a sea of strangers. This is good as I am meeting more people in the Nazarene Church and starting to figure out who is who here, but it also makes me miss the Wesleyan church since I am not likely to run in to anyone I know like what happens at the Wesleyan youth conventions.

It is a great even though, and it isn't about me. Pray that God will open up new doors in my life and ministry this week and also that He will work in the lives of the students I am here with!

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Movie review-Transformers (2007)


Well I said I would be there opening night...actually what I meant was that if I was lucky enough, I would be there BEFORE opening night and that was the case. We have a new member here at the church who works in radio and so I had the chance to be a part of a special pre-screening of the movie last night. Needless to say despite my fears from disappointment in the novel I was not disappointed in the movie one bit. It was like every childhood battle scene brought to life. From a Transformers fan standpoint, it was AMAZING...Michael Bay and ILM did not drop the ball on this one.

Let me say this though...it is not a family movie. This is a "man's man" movie full of action from start to finish. There is a considerable amount of language and there are sexual references and innuendo, so don't take the kiddos to this one.

My message to all the fanboys out there who are complaining about the changes is GET OVER IT! Sure there are changes, but it still gets the theme across of the original and I think does a great job of bringing the Transformers to the 21st century. Most of the popular characters are back and there are a few new ones

I wouldn't make a youth group trip out of it, but most likely teens are going to see it so take advantage of that and talk with them about it. It is a good relationship builder and there are a few "jewels" of teachable moments in the movie. Of course just like Hollywood today, the language and sexuality is very prominent-so use discretion.

I give it an A!

Thoughts?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Closure...

Well today I finally feel like I have some closure in an area I have been dealing with for a couple of months now. Today I received an answer to prayer, and truth be told although I didn't like the answer I got at first, God very specifically answered the prayer I asked.

This whole topic is a long story, so here is the short version. Two years ago I left Jackson, Ohio to come here to Pensacola. I left on good terms and still to this day am very close to the members of the church. Deep down I have/have had the desire to return there some day. Given the situation there at this time as well as my current situation here I had been praying about sending my resume and applying to be the senior pastor there. Last week I had a conversation with my current senior pastor and decided that it was at least worth looking into. I had been hesitant to send my resume and put in for the position, because I did not (and still do not) know for sure what the future holds for us. Honestly I was afraid to send it because I didn't even want to consider the possibility of breaking the hearts of the people there again-they mean so much to Megan and I. However, we both prayed and decided to at least throw our name in the hat.

Be careful how you pray, as sometimes God does answer just as you ask Him. My prayer was very specifically that if we were not to go back to Jackson that I would not be offered the chance to candidate there or be offered the position. That was exactly how God answered my prayer. I spoke with the vice-chairman of the board there who I respect very much, and he told me that while they have seen growth and maturity in me they felt at this time they needed someone with a little bit more experience. I understand completely why they went the direction they went. So for now I have received the closure I need in that area. Although I was a little sad, I know that God answered my prayer and He has big plans both for the church and for Meg and I.

There still are some uncertainties that I will share as things develop, and we would appreciate your prayers in all of this.

God is good!
-Matt

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Movie review-Evan Almighty

Had the chance last night to check out the new Steve Carrell movie "Evan Almighty" with the teens. I have to say it was great. I knew it had a little bit more of a religious spin on it that "Bruce Almighty" but I had no idea it would be an hour and a half full of teachable moments.

Plot wise it is a little slow and sort of predictable, but honestly I was looking for teachable moments this time around. Needless to say I was not disappointed. There is so much material that can be used for discussion about faith in this movie. I personally found that there were several moments where you just have to say "wow"-one in particular for me came in a conversation with Evan and God where Evan makes a comment about "his plans" and God just laughs. I have often wondered how God views it when we talk about "our plans" and I sort of picture it happening this way. That was just one moment, there are several others that you can use.

Family wise I think you are okay with this one, the kids will find the animal humor funny and I only counted one swear word, but there are a couple of references to human/animal anatomy...use your discretion though.

All in all I have to recommend this movie. I think it is worth seeing on the big screen. So here's the final breakdown...it is a bit predictable and is not a blockbuster by any means, but the teachable moments and faith conversation that will come after it make it a winner for me. Grade A+

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Movie Review-Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I'm not going to to lie. I liked it. Again though, I am a comic book junkie who grew up reading Marvel. While the FF have never been my favorite super family I felt like they did a good job with the treatment of the storyline of the books. It sticks to the "dysfunctionality" of the team just like the original comics . It also brings the enigmatic character of the surfer to life which of course is a key part of the FF story lines. I will have to admit though, I was disspointed to see Galactus brought to life as nothing more than a big cloud. Of course we also saw the return of Dr Doom since you can't have a good FF storyline without the Latverian villain.

With all that said, here is what I think. It was definitely better than the first, not as bad as Daredevil, and just a bit better than Ghost Rider. The storyline was decent and although it is a bit campy at times, remember it is a movie about comic book characters. It's not an award winner by any means and truth be told Jessica Alba doesn't look good with a blond wig and blue contacts (okay so she still looks good but it just doesn't work for her). All in all though, not too bad. Grade B-

Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What a ride...

Lord,
Help me to have this same passion, this same fervor, this same desire to pass on the legacy of a life dedicated to following you. Thank you for the example that Mike set for all of us in youth ministry, may we all catch the same type of vision of reaching people. Help us Lord!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

weight loss battle 2007-25 weeks in

Not much to report this week. I am back down 3 lbs putting me at 339, but my body fat percentage is up which is frustrating. I am still having problems being motivated enough to go to the gym and I am tired all the time. I am trying to switch up my diet some for more energy as well. So I guess its good that I am down three, but I still have a long way to go. Oh well, I'll get there eventually!

A Little Leisure Reading...

One thing that I have enjoyed about being done with my masters is the ability to read something just for the fun if it without having to worry about reporting on it or trying to decide whether I understand it or not. With that in mind I have been knocking off novels left and right. Here are my thoughts on two that I have just finished.

The first book is "Kingdom Come" by LaHaye and Jenkins and is the final book in the Left Behind Series. I have been a big fan of the series and have always dropped whatever I was reading to read the newest book. The only books I have not read yet are the prequels and the teen series. Since I loved the series, I eagerly grabbed a copy of this book as soon as it came out. I'll have to admit, I was a little bit disappointed. It is a good read, but seems a little anti-climactic. There just wasn't as much plot as I would have liked to have to have seen. I felt that the authors were stretching a bit to describe the millennial kingdom (no one knows really what it will be like) and although they were using scripture they obviously had to use some imagination which I felt took away from the book. Without spoiling any of the plot the book basically brings all of the favorite characters back together during the millennium and deals with how they handle reaching those born post-tribulation and the opposition that comes from those who follow Lucifer who will be released one last time at the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth. It is a decent read, but I would have stopped with the "Glorious Appearing." Grade C-The second book "Transformers" by Alan Dean Foster. This is the official novel based on the upcoming movie. Of course in anticipation of the movie I HAD to read this book. The book is almost always better than the movie so I was really excited to read this book. I have to admit though, I am hoping the Hollywood special effects of the movie make it more exciting than the book. I honestly was a bit disappointed and now my excitment for the movie has dropped somewhat. There were a couple good action sequences in the book, but other than that, it just didn't carry it for me. The whole book builds up to one final climax (as it should) but a really good book will keep you through the whole thing. More frustrating to me was the fact that Optimus Prime and Megatron don't appear until later in the novel. All in all I hope the movie is better. Grade D

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kid jump

final camp video for fun...let it be known, no junior high students were harmed in the filming of this video...as much as we would have liked to harm them sometimes...enjoy!

camp slide-2007

We hit a waterpark in the middle of the week as a "getaway" for the group...on a dare the students asked me to go down the freefall slide, which always winds up in a big splash and the wedgie from hades...for your laughing pleasure...enjoy!

camp Baywatch-2

This was the follow up to our camp baywatch video. The first was such a big "hit" that we decided to do this follow up at camp. Watch out Hasselhoff, Pam Anderson-be on the lookout, PMatt's coming to the shore!

Camp baywatch-1

This was a promo that we did for camp just as an add on to our "top 10 reasons to come to camp." It was just to have fun and get a laugh at my expense

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

weight loss battle 2007-? weeks in

Well its been awhile since I have posted a blog about my weight loss and unfortunately the report this time is not good. I have no excuses other than the fact that I have been lazy and now I am back up to my starting weight this year of 342. This is beyond frustrating for me, but it is my own fault. The human side of me wants to grab a bag of chips and eat the whole thing and just say screw it all...but I can't do that, so it is back to trying to get into the gym at least three times a week and watching what I eat better. Hopefully I'll have good news to report next week.

The battle continues...

Better than I deserve...

"Better than I deserve" is a phrase I have gotten used to hearing on an almost daily basis as I listen to the "Dave Ramsey Show." If you aren't familiar with Dave Ramsey, I would encourage you to become familiar with him, as his ministry has been life changing for Megan and I.

In January we started "Financial Peace University" which is a 13 week study on personal finance that is offered through his ministry. I cannot tell you how much this program changed our life. The whole premise of the program is to help you begin to better understand your personal finances, live by a budget, and get out of debt as quickly as possible. Megan and I since January have paid off almost three thousand dollars in debt, have built up a "baby emergency fund" (no not that kind of baby yet) of 1000 in savings and should be debt free by December of next year...all because we began to live by a cash budget system.

I don't know where you stand financially, but I can tell you that this class and this ministry is a blessing! If you want more information, check out www.daveramsey.com and see what is offered. You can also check out the principles of good living in his book "The Total Money Makeover". Check it out, I promise you won't regret it.

Thoughts?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Oh the joys of being a camp director...

Well there are good things and bad things about being a camp director.
THE BAD:
  • dealing with angry parents who have homesick kids
  • dealing with noise complaints
  • paying for broken things
  • camp food
  • lack of sleep
  • being the first to arrive for set up
  • being the last to leave due to a broken down van for one of the groups

THE GOOD

  • kids having fun
  • stories being told
  • original pranks I wish I would have thought of
  • lives being forever changed

Don't know about you, but I'll take the bad since the good outweighs it any time. Camp was good, I felt it was a good week and all seemed to have a great week. GOD IS GOOD!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Laughing baby

sorry for the silence, I am at camp this week...and I am the director so life is crazy but fun. Since I can't write a whole lot here is something to keep you entertained and brighten your day. I'll post more later!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Final Idol rant...

Well it is over again until January-whatever will I do? I'll survive trust me! Here are my thoughts about the finale...
I would have rather seen Blake win but obviously Jordin was the better singer...I have still been blown away though by Blake's beat boxing and I am still a little bitter than Sundance didn't make the final cut, but life goes on. By the way does anyone no if the Scott Krippayne that wrote "This is my now" is the Scott Krippayne of Christian music? Just curious.
The performances last night were great, I enjoyed the mix and match of old and new with the guys/Smokey and girls/Gladys, but could have done without Gwen Stefani again. I found myself fast forwarding through most of the performances that I didn't like and it was kind of cool to see BeBe and CeCe together again and finally know who Melinda sang back up for...btw I still think she should have won! I also could have done without the Beatles montage. Has anyone ever been to the Idols live tour? Is that kind of stuff what they do during the concert? Finally of course it was cool to see Taylor sing again-I know most people don't like him, but I just think he's kind of old school Doobie brothers and I like it!
Overall, not bad...pretty good, could have been better if they would have cut out some of the fluff. You know I wonder how much the people they make fun of get paid if anything? It was cool to see some of the memorable ones "win" prizes last night, but nothing beat last years performance with the Clay Aiken wannabe that was "surprised" when Clay (with really bad hair) joined him on stage.
Well Idol is over so I guess I'll have to find something else to rant about...like cancelled shows that left me hanging-but that's for another blog!
Thoughts?

Movie review-Shrek the Third

So before I write this, I have to preface the post with the understanding that the Shrek character will always be close to my heart. I am going to like the character and the movies, no matter how many they put out. There are two reasons really-the first being that one of my first dates with Megan was going to see the original Shrek at the drive in theater. I also like the character because he is a lovable big guy with self-esteem issues and I can relate to him-granted I am not a big green ogre, but I can still relate.

So with that said, let me say that I did enjoy this movie. I thought it was better than the second one, but not as good as the first. Again we see Shrek setting off on another adventure that will cause him to come to a better understanding of who he is and how he fits into the world in which he lives. All of the movies have carried this similar theme and I like them for youth ministry because we all have students who are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit into the world. There are several teachable moments in this film as in the other two.

As it relates to kid friendly, I would be a little hesitant to take my younger kids to see it. Obviously it is laced with several "adult" jokes that we are meant to get, and there is also a reference to "where babies come from" that could result in an unwanted discussion with your yung'ins if you take them. Of course there is the potty humor which even though I am not a junior high boy I still find humorous that is good for a few laughs as well. With that said, use your discretion.

Overall it was a good movie. My fear is if they don't stop while they are ahead they will lose out. I am not sure where else they could go with it. There is no reason to bring back Farqwaad-they did that with Shrek 4d (also available as Shrek 3d on DVD) at Universal so that has been done. I think a trilogy is a good way to end the story, but we'll see.

For me I would say this is a matinee viewing unless you are a hardcore Shrek fan-which in that case you most likely have already seen the movie. It could also score as a rental, but I am just a fan of seeing movies on the big screen.

Well that's my thoughts about it...anyone else?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

U2 3D movie preview/trailer

Here's another one that will be aweseom to see-on the big screen nonetheless. I am sure it won't be quite as good as seeing them live, but a close second I am sure!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

again-I will be there opening night!

So I've said this a couple of times already, but I will definitely be there opening night for this one. You have to understand not only does this look awesome, but this is the culmination of my childhood come to life-I was a Transformers junkie, and still have most of my transformers toys! Take a look at this-anyone else planning on seeing it?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Almost weekly Idol rant-5/16

Okay, if there was ever a week I am going to rant, this is it! What happened tonight was an injustice as far as I am concerned. I know it is the final three, they are all good and one had to go home. I know they will all three get recording contracts and all will be good, but still there is no reason Blake should have won over Melinda. She should be in the finals. Oh well I guess you can't win them all though. I'll have to admit, I am not a huge fan of R & B music or female African American performers, but I loved Melinda's sass and if she releases an album full of the type of songs she did last night I will buy the album the day it comes out. Well Melinda, you may not have won AI, but you won my vote! Great job.

As it relates to who is going to win it now-I know it will most likely be Jordin, which I guess is okay, but she is not my pick.

Okay-done ranting...thoughts?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Happy Birthday Paige!

This post is in honor of my niece who turns two today-Malea...have fun with the terrible twos!

she really just wanted the bear...

nothing but trouble...

I've taught her well...


How could you say no to a grin like this?


Happy Birthday Paige...Uncle Matt and Aunt Megan love you!!!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Movie Review-Spideman 3

I am going to try not to spoil the plot in case you haven't seen it, but I cannot make any guarantees so be forewarned...

Okay so here are my thoughts on the new Spiderman movie. If nothing else, it is a big screen must see because I just don't think it will carry the same weight on the small screen. With that said, let me put out my opinion. I LOVED IT! There have been all kinds of reviews out there some good some bad, but I have to say as a movie itself it was great for a comic book junkie like me. So let me break it down by category for you-I know I am a geek...

The movie-As a movie, it was a little slower than I would have liked, but I can appreciate that for two reasons. The first is the character development-there seemed to be a lot of it with the rise of characters such as Eddie Brock/Venom and the Sandman. It was also good to see the continuing tension between Peter/MJ/Harry that is common in the comic book. All in all a great story with some of my favorite characters from the Marvel universe. The second reason is the message with the movie with teachable moments which I will share about later.

The characters-I was thrilled that they were going to bring the Eddie Brock/Venom character into the movie. I thought they handled the character of Venom very well, but I would have passed on Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. He just didn't sell it for me, but hey I am no Hollywood, evidently he is eye candy and works for them. I was also impressed the the Flint Marko/Sandman character. While this has never been one of my favorite Spiderman villains (s0rry Mr. Lee) I thought Thomas Hayden Church played the character well and I can appreciate the hero confusion that he feels throughout the movie. As for The Harry Osborne/New Goblin storyline I liked the story, but I really wish they would have stuck with bringing him back as Goblin 2 and not "new Goblin." Honestly the costume and glider were lame as far as I was concerned.

The comic-I can't really say whether the movie was true to the comic or not as I am more of an X-Men junkie than a Spider-fan but what I do know about the Marvel Universe tells me that there was some liberty from the comic book storyline. Truth be told, you have to do that most of the time to make the movies great and you'll always hack off some comic book nerd somewhere (a-la me when Transformers comes out I am sure) and you have to do what you have to do. Good story whether it was true to the comic or not.

The message-I would say that this movie definitely has some teachable moments for youth pastors with their teens. Some may disagree with me about this, but I think it would be a good trip with your teens. Most of them will see it anyway, why not make a night of it with discussion afterwards. I do not want to say much for fear of spoiling the plot, but the movie does a great job of pointing out that we have choices to make and those choices effect us daily. And there is at least one great quote a la "With great power..." There are definitely some moments that you can use to strike up some spiritual discussions.

Family friendly-I am going to have to say no on this one if you have younger kids. Even if your seven year old is running around in his Spiderman Underoos (do they even still make those?) flinging yarn like it is a web I would say don't take the younger ones to see it as it might still be a little scary for them. Venom can be a little spooky and the darkness is heavy sometimes. Plus there are a couple of "gotcha" moments that will catch you if you aren't careful. Older kids maybe, but use your discretion.

Well that does it for me...thoughts? I give it 3 stars since it could have been better, but all in all it is a big screener for me, not a rental. Go pay your money and give it a view!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Be careful what you ask for...the follow-up

So this post will probably be a bit random since I am just going to journal it as it comes to mind. This weekend was a very good weekend. Graduation was great, it was good to see old friends and professors and it feels good to finally be done with my master's. It was also great to spend a lot of time with family event though the weekend went faster than I wanted it to.

Now let me share a bit about Sunday morning. I had mentioned in a previous post that I had the chance to preach at Good Shepherd Wesleyan in Jackson this last weekend. This was the church I left two years ago to come down here to Pensacola. I was a little nervous to speak as the current pastor was recently voted out and there is some tension in the church right now. I feel however that God anointed my message and spoke through me. I chose to focus on unity by emphasizing the difference between be Inside focused or outside focused individuals. The premise of it is that if we are going to make a difference in the world today we need to be outward focused and turn away from ourselves regardless of our differences. Many of the people said that it was what they needed to hear and that was encouraging to me.

Also, I am a little hesitant to post this, but I will anyway. Can I tell you that for the first time in two years I felt like I was "home." I know there are still a lot of emotions attached to that church, but honestly it felt like we had just been gone on an extended vacation and were home. The people made us feel like family as they always have. I miss that, I really do. I know people in our current church care for us, but there is just that element of "home" that doesn't seem to exist here yet.

Now to the dilemma...as I was afraid of, several people "joked" that they would like us to come back. I am confident now though after speaking with the pastor that if I were to consider going back that there would be no thoughts of me trying to step in and get rid of him. I have always known that there was never that intention on my part and so I had nothing to fear, but my paranoid personality gets in the way sometimes. So I don't know-could God really point me back in the direction that we came from? I have learned a lot of these last two years and have grown spiritually and professionally and feel confident that I could pastor the church and be an effective minister with the Lord's help.

So I guess I would ask for your prayers for God's wisdom. It has been no secret that these past two years have been difficult, but with the Lord's help we have pressed on and will continue to do so unless the Lord points us elsewhere. Pray that if we are to even consider this as a possibility that certain doors will open on both ends (I do not wish to share those at this time though). Also I covet your prayers as I am struggling with what my role in ministry should be. I have always said that I wanted to be a "lifer" in youth ministry and I will always be involved with students, but I am wondering if maybe the Lord might be pointing me in a new direction of mentoring and training youth workers in my ministries while I am in the trenches with them.

There are just so many emotions and uncertainties right now, so please pray for me. I am also open to any thoughts you may have as well. Thanks everyone!

Trusting Him...
-Matt

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Weekly Idol Rant-5/2

So I posted this video as a tribute to everyone's favorite idol wannabe since William Hung-Sanjaya Malakar. It almost hasn't been the same since he went bye-byeuh and so I thought I would post this video tribute for the week. Now on to the rant...

It is getting harder and harder to pick out who will go each week. I was prety impressed with the performances last night with props going to Blake for sure. I thought his performance was the best with Lakisha and Melinda coming in a close second.

As for the results, I am rather frustrated that Phil Stacey went home over Jordin. She is okay and had a great performance last week which I am sure is what kept her around. Phil's performance this week was much better than hers though. My fear is that she is going to win it all since they like her. She is just not an idol though in my opinion-although I have several people who say the same thing about Melinda. As far as Chris going home, no big surprise as far as I am concerned, he never really wowed me anyway. He's just a little too Timberlake for my taste.

Well that's the rant for the week-on to the final four!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Be careful what you ask for...

So yeah, always be careful what you ask for. As most of you know I am heading "home" this weekend for my master's graduation at IWU. I have been planning on attending Good Shepherd (my old church) ever since I knew I was heading up there. Earlier this week I joked with the church secretary who is a dear friend of mine and told her that I would be willing to speak if their pastor needed a Sunday off. I didn't expect it to happen, but it did, so I will be speaking there this Sunday.

Any other time I would be overjoyed at the chance to share at this church. After all, I invested 4 years of my life there and I am still close with several of the people who attend there. I am struggling though with where to go with my message as there is alot going on there right now. Just to let you know here is the rundown. The senior pastor who took my old boss's place was voted out the last part of March. Since that time there has been a significant amount of tension among the members there. Having been a pastor there I am very nervous because of all the tension there and I do not want me asking to speak to be misinterpreted by the outgoing pastor as my way of unofficially "candidating" there-which could in turn be misinterpreted as me trying to get him ousted in the first place. Does this make sense? I support him, and honestly I am not sure the church made the best decision in the first place by voting him out, but now I have to walk into it.

Please pray that God will give me the words to say and that I will be very cautious in the way that I share. I am leaning toward talking about what the church needs to do in the world today instead of talking about healing and moving forward after what has happened, but I am pretty sure that avoiding the subject completely would be like trying to avoid a giant pink elephant in the room. I am just not sure where to go, I am honored by the chance to share, but I am scared to death as well. I still believe that God has awesome plans for this church and I want to add to that-not take away from it by feeding the tension that is there right now.

Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Weekly Idol Rant-4/23

Well it has been a couple of weeks since I have officially commented on idol, but now it is back to the grind and time to share what's on my mind (small as it is) about Idol, so here goes...

The "Idol Gives Back" 2 day special was pretty decent. I could have done without the Celine Dion/Elvis Presley duet, but most of the other performances were pretty good. Of course I'll have to admit being the U2 fan that I am that anything that Bono backs is cool with me...I just wish he had sung along with the contestants.

Speaking of the contestants, it is getting more and more difficult to predict who will go home. I was pleased that they opted not to send anyone home tonight. All of the performances were great, but my guess is that Chris Richardson would have gone tonight and that would have been okay with me because his voice just doesn't wow me. It will be a tough pick though as they all did a GREAT job last night on the inspirational songs. I am still hoping that Melinda will take it home, but there sure is a lot of buzz around Jordin. I like her don't get me wrong, but I would still pick Melinda over Jordin.

On another note, I am glad that Idol chose to take a stand against poverty, but I'll have to admit, I felt a little convicted. I am so blessed and I forget how much I take for granted everything God has blessed us with. Another thing that sort of frustrates me is that we have to have Hollywood setting the standard for making a difference in the world in the area of fighting poverty and AIDS in Africa. It is great what they are doing, but I just get frustrated that the church is not doing more. I think sometimes we miss the boat and we focus so much inward as churches and we miss what being a Christ follower is all about and that is serving others. I know I was challenged. I need to do more and I am praying that God will show me how I can play my part in helping to make a difference beyond the four walls of my church. I did call as many times as I could last night since they were making donations...does that count?

Well that's my rant for this week. Next week I predict Chris will go, but we'll see what happens...until then (in the words of Ryan Seacrest)...McKee OUT!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

In honor of LCDR Kevin Davis-Blue Angel 6



This post is to honor Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis who lost his life this last weekend doing what he loved-flying Blue Angel 6. He was one of this year's opposing solo pilots and he lost his life in a tragic accident this last Saturday in Beaufort, SC as many of you have already heard.
I had never met Lcdr. Davis, but he was a part of the Blues, and the Blues are a part of our community. They are always out in the community serving in addition to everything else associated with being a pilot in the Blues, and they are top notch. When you lose one, it is a big loss to the community-almost like losing someone in your family.
My condolences go out to his family and the Navy who have lost a great servant.My prayers are with you during this time.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Weight Loss Battle 07-14 weeks in

Well only news this week is that I am holding at where I was. I am back up to 339, but at least I didn't gain any this week. I would pass it off as working on my masters, but that is still no excuse to not go to the gym. My goal is to make it into the gym four times this week if at all possible and kick start my loss again. I won't give up!

Techincal Questions...

Okay, so one other time before I threw a technical question out there and got an answer so here goes again...I've got two this time

1. How do I create categories for my entries (i.e. family, youth ministry, rants, etc.) If I do this can I do it with my archives or just posts as I post them?

2. What is all the stuff about "feeds" (i.e. RSS Feeds and all that)? I hear about it all the time and see a notifier on my browser about it, but it doesn't make sense to me.

Thanks for the help all you technical gurus!

-Matt

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fighting Discouragement in Ministry-Part 7

Well this does it-let me know what ya'll think!

Chapter 7-Conclusion

Everything you have just read is what I have worked through in my life over the last few months. I was ready to give up and call it quits. I was ready to get a “real” job and be done with this thing called ministry. I felt alone and wasn’t sure if I was going to make it any longer. This was because I was in a depression caused by discouragement in ministry. It was crippling, it affected me on a daily basis. There were some days where I even struggled to get out of bed and do anything productive whatsoever. It was a time filled with self-doubt, questioning where God was in my life (if I even knew Him), and how I was going to survive, whether in ministry or just life in general. It was very real and is a very real issue among pastors in the world today.
Discouragement in ministry is very real, I have lived through it, and I anticipate again, in the future. If left unchecked it can lead to depression and possibly even someone leaving the ministry. However with this tool we have just provided you may find encouragement that will help you through discouragement the next time you are faced with it. This project has been designed to be a tool that someone who is facing discouragement can use to work through the difficult time in their own life.
You have looked at several resources that address the issue and how to solve it. Additional resources are provided in the bibliography which follows. In addition to this, you heard words from your peers who are in the trenches with you. By answering the questions provided to them, they show what some of the warning factors are that we can be aware of before we even face discouragement. We know most of them to be things like lack of support, unrealistic expectations, self-doubt, apathy and poor communication among staff. The better aware of these stressors we are the more equipped we will be when we face discouragement. Finally you saw some practical ideas to put into place now before you ever face discouragement. If you choose to put into action the material provided in these pages you will be able to solve the problem of discouragement in your ministry. In fact, you may even be able to take discouragement and use it for your benefit the next time as a way of showing how awesome God is in your life and the lives of those you minister to. I pray that this has been a helpful resource to you and let me leave you with this blessing from Numbers. It is still one of my favorite passages of Scripture of all time:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
Always remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Works Cited

Akers, Tony. “Survival Skills for ‘Lifers.” Group September/October (2004):100-104.

Baker, Tim. “Avoiding the Crash: Understanding the Difference Between Passion and Adrenaline.” Youthworkwer Journal November/December (2002): 22-28.

Borthwick, Paul. Organizing Your Youth Ministry. Wipf & Stock, 2004.

Burns, Jim & Mike DeVries. The Youth Builder. Ventura, CA: Gospel Light, 2001.

Chromey, Rick. Youth Ministry in Small Churches. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 1990.

Curtis, Brent, & John Eldredge. The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.

Erickson, Ned. “Who’s Following You?” Group May/June (2006): 86-94.

Evans, Len. “An Army of One.” Group September/October (2006): 92-96.

Fields, Doug. Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry: A Personal Practical Guide to Starting Right. El Cajon, CA: Youth Specialties, 2002.

---. What Matters Most: When NO is Better than YES. El Cajon, CA: Youth Specialties, 2006.

Hart, A.D. Coping with Depression in the Ministry and Other Helping Professions. Waco, TX: Word, 1984.

Johnston, Jon. Christian Excellence: Alternative to Success, 2nd ed. Franklin, TN: JKO Publishing, 2004.

Jones, Tony. “What’s on My Mind: On Sabbatical.” Youthworker Journal November/December (2002): 20.

Lawrence, Rick. “3 Dirty, Rotten, Youth Ministry Lies.” Group September/October (2006): 74-79.

Lloyd-Jones, D. M. Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cure. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965.

London, H.B., Jr. & Neil B. Wiseman. Pastors at ‘Greater’ Risk. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003.

---. The Heart of a Great Pastor: How to Grow Strong and Thrive Wherever God Has Planted You. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1994.

Matty, Danette. “Under the Gun: Dealing with Pressure from Above (Church Leadership, Not God).” The Journal of Student Ministries March/April (2007): 30-33.

McCartney, Bill. Blind Spots: What You Don’t See May Be Keeping Your Church from Greatness. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003.

Parrott, Les III. Helping the Struggling Adolescent: A Guide to Thirty-Six Common Problems for Counselors, Pastors, and Youth Workers. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

Penner, Will & Dan Sanders-Wooley. “Youth Workers and Pastors in Partnership.” Youthworker Journal January/February (2003): 23-26.

Peretti, Frank. The Wounded Spirit. Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 2000.

Seely, Andrew. “Youth Pastor in Exile: Grieving Over Losing My Job.” The Journal of Student Ministries Online March/April (2007). 17 April 2007. www.tjsom.com.

Stier, Greg. Ministry Mutiny: A Youth Leader Fable. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006.

Van Cise, Glen. “Ministering to Job. The Journal of Student Ministries March/April (2007): 40-43.

Warren, Rick. “Fighting Discouragement.” 30 Nov. 2006. Called to Be Free. 18 April 2007 http://calledtobefree.org/article.cfm?id=82.

Yaconelli, Mike. “Dangerous Wonder: You Just Hang On.” Youthworker Journal January/February (2003): 63

Fighting Discouragement in Ministry-Part 6

Chapter 6-Putting It All Together/Dealing with the Problem

So we have looked at various research, we have conducted research and shown results, we have examined the scriptures. Now we must ask the question what next? This chapter is where the rubber meets the road. We will rehash some of the thoughts from earlier and move forward to how all of this plays out in our ministries today. This chapter brings it all together for us and fills in the blanks.
The first thing we need to reaffirm is that discouragement in ministry is a very real problem. Restating the statistic from earlier in the paper, “45.5 percent of pastors say they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.” (Wiseman & London, 175) We will face discouragement in our ministry at some point in time throughout our service, but we don’t have to fall into that statistic. If we anticipate it coming just as a receiver anticipates where the quarterback is going to throw the football we can prepare ourselves for the difficult time we will face.
Second we realize that we are not alone in our struggle with discouragement. Others have been where we are and many may be walking with us right now. It doesn’t matter if you are a rookie or a veteran, you are not alone. Doug Fields points out in his book Your first two years in youth ministry that his journal entries today read almost the same as they did 23 years ago. Here are two small excerpts from those journals. In 1979 he wrote, “I feel so alone. Things are going okay, except I feel like I question my call to ministry everyday…even several times a day.” In 2002 he wrote this, “I’m feeling better today, but it seems like it has been several weeks that I have been in the pits.” (Fields, 44)
Now here is a guy that many of us consider to be the one that literally “wrote the book” on youth ministry. If he has struggled with discouragement and still does today, and he is the one so many of us look up to, we can have hope that our discouragement that causes us to feel so alone really isn’t that bad and we aren’t alone after all. It is still common among all of us. The other day I opened up an online article on the website of the Journal of Student Ministries (www.tjosm.com) that opened with this phrase, “By the time you read this I will have left my position as a director of youth ministry. This decision comes after much counsel, prayer, and pain. In the simplest of terms, I’m leaving this position a hurt person, both emotionally and spiritually.” (Seely, www.tjosm.com) This guy is one of us. He isn’t some famous author who is out there; he is one of us in the trenches of ministry just like we are. So realize if the pros still deal with discouragement, and everyday youth pastors like us deal with it, WE ARE NOT ALONE.
Third we need to realize the importance of networking. Since we know we are not alone we need to network with those who are fighting the battle right alongside of us. This can take three forms and perhaps more, but these are the most important.

1. Find a mentor/someone to disciple you: Doug Fields offers us a few tips for finding the right mentor in Your first two years-
· Who impresses me as spiritually mature?
· Who inspires me?
· Who intrigues me?
· Who has reached some of the goals I have set for myself?
· Who do others speak of highly?
· Who do people go to for advice? (Fields, 51)

Once you find this person, ask them specifically to mentor you and have a specific agenda to follow through on. If they are going to help you on your journey you have to have a map of where you want to go.

2. Hang out with non-ministry friends: When we are caught up in the busyness of ministry often times we forget to network with friends outside of our ministry circles. Foster these friendships away from ministry as long as they are friendships that will build you up and not contribute to your discouragement.

3. Find a network near you: One of the most encouraging times to me is the monthly meeting that I have with several of my brothers in Christ here in Pensacola. We are from all walks of life and denominations but our monthly meeting is a time to vent, fellowship, and pray for each other. It is so beneficial to me and has helped keep me off the “edge” during these past few months of discouragement. If you don’t have a network check online to see if there is one in your community. A great website to look at is the National Network of Youth Ministry (www.nnym.org). If there is not one listed in your town, call around to some of the churches to see what may be available in your area. If there isn’t a network-START ONE! Even if it is people from similar churches, get with people who know what you are facing and where you are coming from. It is living out Proverbs 27:17.
Fourth, realize that there is no perfect ministry out there. No matter where we go we will be faced with problems of some sort. The church is made up of people. People are sinful by nature. Sin makes us hurt others. Hurt people hurt other people. No matter what there will always be someone who will have some complaint about some aspect of your ministry. You are not perfect, so be willing to admit when you are wrong, offer a listening ear if necessary, and do your best to love those who choose to hurt you. With time, you will win over your critics if you love on them just like Christ loves on us. There are banners in Christian bookstores everywhere that read “bloom where you are planted.” That is the key to having a successful ministry and confronting discouragement in ministry head on. If you honestly have sought to do God’s will for your life and He has placed you in a ministry that seems tough, trust that He has something for you in that ministry, no matter how difficult it may seem.
Fifth, learn to take time for yourself. Ministry is about giving 95% of the time, but we need to learn to take time for ourselves. If we give all the time, eventually we will find ourselves empty which will ultimately lead to discouragement. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Take your day off: unless you are bi-vocational, most likely you have some time off throughout the week. Be deliberate about this. Guard it like a valuable gem. I understand sometimes things will come up, but try to protect it as much as you can. Turn your phone off, leave the emails alone (unless they are for pleasure) and just rest. Do something you love and do it with all your heart. If you will, you’ll find yourself refreshed.
2. Get away occasionally/take a retreat: One “lifer” in youth ministry that I look up to is Mark Ostreicher, the president of Youth Specialties. Once a quarter he will take a 3 day silent retreat designed to refresh and relax him and gear him up for the next quarter. You may not be able to get away as often, but plan some purposeful time away. For me recently when I was battling my deep depression because of my discouragement in ministry I planned a vacation to Disney World. It may sound childish, but for me it was the first opportunity in a long time to get away, forget about difficulties and learn to laugh again. GET AWAY at some point each year.
3. Set clear boundaries for you and your family: Have a regular date night. There will always be people pulling at you for your time, however the person most important to you is your spouse. He/She can make or break your ministry so be deliberate about setting boundaries and guarding your time together. Do not let ministry get in the way of what is most important in your life. I was always taught to live be this mantra, “God first, family second, and the church third.”
Sixth don’t be afraid to write it down. Until I was faced with this very difficult time of depression and discouragement I wasn’t much of a person for journaling. Now I cannot live without it. Here are some thoughts about journaling that will help you as you work through this battle with discouragement:
1. Write about anything-I do not always write about the struggles I am having. I write about whatever is on my mind and I enjoy. I have become an addict of blogging as my personal way of journaling. One of the ways I battled this depression was to write about whatever came to mind. Sometimes it was spiritual, sometimes it was “fluff” such as who should stay and go on American Idol. Just write it down it clears your mind and might even begin to help you process the very thing you are struggling with.
2. Don’t be afraid to share your struggles. You don’t have to have it all put together. It is okay to struggle-share that with other people. It proves you are real and who knows, what you write may encourage someone else who is going through the same thing or it may spur someone on to pray for you
3. Don’t be afraid to share your victories. When God comes through for you or you find yourself encouraged, write it down. Tell someone. Share your joy with others. Just as before what you say may help someone else.
Finally, Commit to being in it for the long haul. This world is full of letdowns-Especially in the lives of young people. Many of the kids we work with come from broken home situations and generally just face bad stuff on a daily basis. We may be the only sense of normalcy they have, so if we give up just because we are discouraged, what hope do they have? God is in it for the long haul with us, so we need to be there for them as well. When we get discouraged- be real, rely on God and work through it. You’re not alone God is right there beside you and you will make it through it (and even learn something) if you don’t give up.

Fighting Discouragement in Ministry-Part 5

Chapter 5-Ministry Discouragement through the Eyes of the Scripture

We have now taken the time to look at practical resources dealing with discouragement through books and journals as well as words from our peers in ministry. With all of that said, it is time we look at the idea of discouragement through God’s eyes. We do this by spending time looking at the Scriptures for information and encouragement that can help us as we fight the problem of ministry discouragement in our lives.
In the following pages we will look at various passages of Scripture that show us the following three things: First, you are God’s and He has a plan for you and your ministry. Second, you are not alone. Others in the Bible have faced the same discouragement we face today thousands of years later. Third, Ministry takes time and will be fruitful if God is in it with us.

You are God’s and He has a plan for you and your ministry
Genesis 1:27- “So God created man in His own image. In the image of God He created Him: male and female He created them.” With this verse we have the promise that God made us exactly who we are IN HIS IMAGE. Everything about us, He created. All of our short comings and failures, all of our little quirks that affect us, everything about us God made in His image. How can we be discouraged if we take to heart what this verse says? We are the Lord’s he made us who we are and no matter how hard things seem to get, we have this promise from His word.

Joshua 1:9- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Wow! What a promise. No matter what we are facing, God tells us not to be discouraged because He will be with us wherever we go. That is simply amazing and should be such an encouragement to us when we are facing discouragement in ministry.

Proverbs 3:5-6- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Ministry is tough at times. When we are hurting or discouraged, it is tough to trust. This verse shows us that if we will simply place our trust in Him, especially during the difficult times, He will guide us. I don’t know if you have ever been lost on a winding back road before, but it is not easy to see where you are going. It is the same when we get discouraged in ministry. We begin to focus on just trying to maintain and get by. However if we would simply place our trust back in the Lord knowing that His plan is ultimately better than my plan we will be encouraged because HE will direct is through the difficult time we are facing.

Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Wow what awesome words of encouragement God offers us in this passage. We have already established that there will be times of discouragement in ministry. There will be times when life and ministry just doesn’t make sense. However we know that no matter what we are facing God has a plan for our lives. He is not going to put us through anything that would cause us harm. Difficult times are still a part of His plan and we can learn from them if we will allow ourselves to.

You are not alone
There have been others thousands of years ago who faced discouragement just as you have and will. Let us look at a few of them and see what we can learn from their discouragement.

Moses- Here is a man who grew up among Egyptian royalty and then was asked by God to lead His people out of the bondage of slavery. Talk about an overwhelming task. He led the people through the desert for 40 years and faced discouragement of His own. He had to deal with people who wanted to turn back toward bondage every time it got tough. Ultimately his frustration and discouragement led him to do something against God’s plan for the people. In Numbers 20:12 we read these words, “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I will give them.” Wow, talk about your mistake to make when you are discouraged. The lesson here is for us to realize that we cannot act on impulse when we are facing discouragement. If we do, we may miss out on God’s best for our lives. Moses did show us though that even the best get discouraged, so take heart, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Elijah- In 1 Kings 19:4 we read these words, “I have had enough Lord. Take my life: I am no better than my ancestors.” Now if you are like me when you read this passage you scratch your head. Here is a man who has just had a hand in one of the greatest miracles of all time. He was a key player in an event where God came down and proved that He is the one and only true God. 450 prophets of Baal were slaughtered and God’s people saw that He was the one to follow. You would think that Elijah would be on the greatest spiritual high of His life. Instead we see him asking for the Lord to just let Him die. There are two things that we should take from this passage. The first is this- we should expect extreme lows just as we expect extreme highs, and often these will come after great times of victory. If we are aware of this, we can prepare for it and make the best of the situation when it comes. The second thing we see is that the first thing that Elijah does after this event is he rests! As we minister to people on a daily basis, we MUST be deliberate in making time to recoup ourselves. If we do, we may find that discouragement does not come as often since we are refreshed and ready to go.

Ministry takes time
Ecclesiastes 3:1- “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven.” This verse is more than a classic rock song from the 1970’s. It is proof that ministry takes time. Too often when serving, we try to make things happen in OUR time. The world we live in is results driven. We want what we want now and most of us have the resources at our fingertips to get what we want when we want it. Because of this we have become tainted. We expect the same to happen in ministry. As we are working with students, we expect to see results in their lives right away. We expect them to be spiritually mature without experiencing life. When this doesn’t happen we tend to get discouraged and frustrated. This if we are not careful can start us down the slippery slope of discouragement that can lead to depression and possibly leaving the ministry. Our time is not God’s time. There is a season for everything, and the sooner we realize this, the sooner we will face less discouragement in our result driven minds of ministry.

Matthew 13:3-9- “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Obviously we know this passage of scripture as the parable of the sower. Jesus goes on to explain the parable as it relates to the lives of those we work with later in the same chapter. This is an important story to us as youth pastors for one reason.
We cannot reach everyone. Ministry, especially youth ministry is about planting seeds. Although we want to see results right away, we may not because a deep relationship with God takes time to cultivate just as the crops did in this passage. In addition to this, not every seed we plant in the lives of our student will sprout. We may not be the ones to reach a certain student, but that is okay. All we can do is plant the seeds in their lives, it is up to them to cultivate them. The thing to remember though, is that the final yield of the crop was much more than was sown. It can be the same as well in our ministries. We may not get to see the results of our hard work this side of Heaven, but some of the seeds we are planting will take root and one of these days we will meet countless people who have been touched because we touched the life of one teen who perhaps we didn’t even think heard a word we said.

If we are to battle discouragement in this results based world, we must realize the truth in these two passages. Ministry takes time. If we know this and we remember it, when discouragement comes because we are not seeing the results we want we can take heart in knowing that in time we will see the results, so in the words of my pastor, “Hangest thou in there.”