Monday, December 29, 2008

One good thing about being back in Ohio...

There are several great things about being back in Ohio again, this being one of them. Ironic that I am posting this after the Sarah Palin picture, but here goes-ya gotta love deer season. They are so thick here that they NEED to be thinned out, so I am just doing my part and Megan and I both love venison so we are good to go for a while. Here's the pic from my cell phone, I hope to have a better picture later this week...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

That explains alot...

No wonder Santa didn't make it to our house last night...Merry Christmas from the McKee's! No we had a great Christmas, I'll post pictures later. Hope yours was awesome too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I wonder...

As we celebrate the birth of Christ this season, I just have to wonder if maybe it might have gone down something like this? We all know it REALLY wasn't a "silent" night. :) Merry Christmas and hope you got a laugh!

Monday, December 22, 2008

No line on the horizon...

It's official...March 2nd is the release date for the brand new U2 album entitled "No Line on the Horizon." Needless to say, I'm stoked and can't wait to grab a copy of it. Not to mention that it probably means a summer tour next year. Anyone up for a show?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Weight Loss update...

Well I am weighing in at 360 which is only 2 pounds lighter than the last time I posted about weight loss, but I am encouraged. I haven't gained through the holidays and I am starting to exercise more.

I finally figured out how to trick y Wii Fit into working even though I am overweight for it, so that will GREATLY enhance my workouts. I am doing it about 45 minutes each day and to say that it is kicking my butt would be an understatement. I like all the aspects of it, and the cool down of yoga is the craziest part. It is MUCH more difficult than I thought, and its kind of funny...a fat man doing yoga. But it does help to cool down with it.

So who knows what's next...the game actually takes your character and makes it realistic, so needless to say my Mii is now "obese" and looks shall we say a little more realistic...just wish the game didn't say...YOU'RE OBESE!!!

Day by day, one step at a time. That's all for now!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Too Cute not to post...

This is one of the cutest videos I have seen for a good while. Unbelievable!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving - Hope it was a great one!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and it was wonderful for you. Enjoy this completely random and strange song. And remember to give Thanksssssssss........

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Movie Review-007:Quantum of Solace


Here are my thoughts about the new Bond movie: All in all I liked it because of the new twists with the character of James Bond. I don't think it was as good as last year's Casino Royale though. However, the action sequences were good and I think Daniel Craig pulls off a good James Bond. I like the character of M, but if these are supposed to take place before the other Bond movies it would be better if they would have a younger actress playing the role instead of Dame Judy Densch.
The only problems I had with it was the fact that the movie seemed to be 2 hours of Bond traipsing around the world angry, killing anything that gets in the way. I know the character is supposed to be dealing with grief and a desire for revenge, but it just seemed to consume the movie more than the underlying story of figuring out who was behind the Quantum organization. Also the said action sequences seemed to go back and forth a little too fast for this guy. It almost made my head hurt to watch it.
As for teachable moments, this isn't a movie I would take a youth group to see, but I'd go see it with students if they were going. You could have some great discussions on dealing with grief, anger, and revenge after seeing the movie.
Overall not a bad flick, it's not the best Bond movie, but not the worst either. Grade B-

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Become a follower of mine...

I don't claim to know everything or be an expert on anything, but I am curious who reads this blog. If you do-whether regularly or occasionally, would you join my following? I'd just like to know who reads this and I'll check out your blog as well if I don't already. Just click on the follow me tab to the right just under the about me section. Thanks! You ALL rock!

Senior Adult Choir Hip Hop

I couldn't pass this up. Props to Josh over at morethandodgeball.com for posting it first. I guess it was an opening video for a fall youth retreat meant to be funny, but has actually helped bridge the gap between the senior adults and teens. It makes me wonder what else we could do to bridge that gap. Anyone have any ideas that have worked for you?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

300!

THIS
IS
SPARTA!!!
had to put that in there since this is offically the 300th post. Thanks for reading-whoever you are...

NYWC in pictures...

This was a new band called NewWorld Son. I had never heard of them, but was impressed by their eclectic mix of music-sort of rock-a-billy meets funk meets a little electronica. They put on a heck of a show as well. Definitely worth checking out!


Tic Long decked out in the leisure suit-I'm pretty sure it was just for Halloween but if anyone could pull it off it's Tic.



Starfield led worship for the first two days. I really like these guys. They were everywhere in Nazarenedom and that's how I got hooked on them. They are a great worship band and they have to attitudes to match. Awesome guys!


Tommy was thrilled because he got to meet Sarah Palin...not sure if you can tell or not, but there is a girl dressed as a moose in the background. Funny stuff-didn't have the heart to tell him it wasn't the real Sarah Palin.


This is the Monongahela incline-yup it's that steep. It took us up to the top of the Mountain where we took a scenic walk to the other incline and grabbed lunch. Beautiful views of the city and well worth the 5 dollar round trip!


Vinny,Tommy, and I just goofing off-Vinny tried to mess with Tommy a bit! These guys are awesome!


The three amigos with the city in the background-beautiful view of downtown!


This is the area of the city called the "Golden triangle." That's point state park in the foreground and the point where the three rivers meet. You can't see the convention center, but its back beside the two twin yellow bridges in the background.



Back at the convention center with mercy me-yup we were that close! I just thought it was awesome that one of the focal points on stage all weekend was this RIDICULOUSLY large disco ball. AWESOME!


You can't see the sign on the front of this old church, but on the way through the strip district we found this old church now called the "Altar" bar. Ironic huh? I suppose it could be a nod to post modern thinking and is an inner city outreach but judging by the Jaegermeister yellow tape on the handrail I am doubting this is the case. Sad-wonder what the story behind the church is?

This is the menu on the wall at Primanti brothers-a local dive where we had lunch at one day. You know it's local when it is open 24 hours a day in the hood and has the menu on the wall. Not to mention you get EVERYTHING on the sandwich and it didn't look like the place to ask for something special to be done to the sandwich-it was pretty good though.


Vinny and Tommy in anticipation of their first bite posing with the sandwich. I guess this place has been featured on the food network.


And a picture of my sandwich-the roast beef. Here's what you get-the sandwich with fries, slaw, and tomato on the sandwich. I picked the tomato off.


Vinny REALLY enjoyed his sandwich-but he might have been posing for the camera. I guess we'll never know!
All in all, it was an awesome weekend. I also had the chance to reconnect with another friend of mine named Eli. We all grabbed hibachi one night, but I forgot the camera. I didn't post any Crowder pictures because we didn't get close enough to get good pictures that night. Here's to friendship, networking, and a chance to be refreshed. Can't wait until NYWC 09!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

YS Podcast-NYWC Pitt recap

Since most of you didn't get to make it, here's just a little sample of what went on courtesy of the YS podcast. Enjoy!

NYWC-Monday morning

I always hate Monday morning of the YS convention-not because it isn't as good, but because it means it's back to reality. Now normally I am excited to get back into action and that wasn't any different this year, but I just hate saying goodbye to what feels "safe."

I had the chance to check out my friend Tony Myles' seminar entitled "secrets from the other side," which dealt with thoughts about youth ministry from someone who has been there and who is now serving as a lead pastor. I was really looking forward to this seminar because I went to school with Tony both in my undergraduate and graduate times at IWU. I have always been inspired by his thoughts and enjoyed trying to glean as much as possible from his wisdom...not to mention the fact that he's just a cool guy to hang with. The seminar dealt with various aspects of ministry from being in it for the long haul to working with your senior pastor. as I expected I was left with a lot to chew on but one thing I want to pass on are the following four points to remember:
  • Your senior leader is more than a tool (literally and figuratively-work together/they can be an asset)
  • Your peers are more than competitors (not to quote the musical from Hades High School Musical-but we are all in this together!)
  • Your students are more than numbers (still a big ouch for me knowing that there is that expectation placed upon us unfortunately)
  • Your calling is more than your own (it goes beyond ourselves and our gifts alone)

After the seminar we headed in for the final session with Marko. After a time of personal reflection and prayer which I really appreciated Marko shared his heart with us. When I say that I mean literally shared his heart-he scrapped his original message to share what he felt God was leading him to share. It really hit home as always-I appreciate his transparency with us as youth workers. The coolest thing he shared which was encouraging to me was the fact that we already have all we need to do youth ministry. We don't need all the "stuff" (whatever you perceive stuff to be whether programming, big budget, appearance, etc) because we are the equipment that God uses to reach young people. While that was scary to think about, I appreciate the fact that God is using me to hopefully impact if anything just a few students. I pray I don't forget that and get caught up in the craziness and pride of what youth ministry can be if it is all about the program.

Worship was led by a band that I had never heard of called Worth Dying For. We have been looking for some edgier worship for our teen praise band because they don't want to do the pop style worship of Crowder and Tomlin. These guys were amazing. Not only did they put on a great show, but they have the message and personalities to follow it up. They really did a great job of leading us to the throne-even thought the music was loud and hard. They are worth checking out if you are looking for some edgier music.

All in all, it was an awesome convention as expected, I'm already stoked about next year in Cincinnati. I'll post some pictures of the event later-I know I've already done a couple of videos, but I did get a few pictures.

Friday, November 07, 2008

NYWC-Tony Jones

Sunday night we had Tony Jones speak and before his message we were treated to a little bit of what you just saw in the video. Although it was just Tony speaking all three guys were there, and I think it would have been cool to experienced the whole church basement event.

I will have to admit though, it was different and I wasn't sure what to think at first when they began. At times I wondered if there was a little bit of making light of the revivalist movement in the 1900's, but what I believe they were getting at was helping us to take a look past to where we have been, where we are, and where we may be going to realize that our faith is about so much more than a building or a system of beliefs/worship style, but it is about realizing the concept of God in flesh. He was one of us and gave up everything for us and He experienced life just like us! Although the presentation was different than what I was used to and at times I found myself thinking more than listening. It was a reaffirmation of the fact of just how awesome this Gospel story is. It's so much more than something that fits into a little box of my understanding. It is a faith that is real, a faith that is radical, and a faith that is life changing.

Even cooler was having the chance to meet Tony just briefly after the session. I grabbed a copy of his latest book "The New Christians" and got it signed. Even cooler than that was the free bottle of Healing Balm of Gilead that I got for my own use. You'll have to watch the video and listen to the song to get the humor about that.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NYWC-David Crowder sing-a-long

I can only get short little snippets of video on may camera and they aren't great, but here's just a little shot of the Crowder band leading worship Sunday night. I've seen them several times, and there is just nothing like it. It's a party and it's just a great way to worship. He may be one of the ugliest men in the world with the hair and goat, but that doesn't take away from the cool factor. Thanks again guys for leading us in worship!

NYWC-Yaconelli disco fever...

I was REALLY looking forward to Mark Yaconelli's session on Sunday morning. The main reason is that I knew it would be an opportunity to step back and slow down on purpose. I was first introduced to Mark two years ago when I went through his soul care critical concerns course. I was ready to give up before I took the class, but God really did a work in my life that weekend (you can read about that journey in the October 2006 archives)and I believe my life was changed forever. Even though I am in sort of a sweet spot in ministry right now I knew that God would have something for me I just didn't know what. Mark spoke on the "soul" and how it functions in our lives. First he suggested that the soul is the place of constant wonder and encouraged us to step back and become members of the "slow club" taking in everything that God has to offer around us and in our lives. He also mentioned that the soul is the place that holds suferring, but it is also the place that waits for joy. After saying that he talked about how he danced through his sorrows as a child and then encouraged us to remember the "dance" in our lives. For me that meant remembering the good times and seeking for joy even in the midst of sorrow. The he did what you just witnessed, he broke into dance. I'll have to admit disco is not my inner dance (I think I'm a little more MC Hammer), but I wept as I remembered just how awesome it is to serve God and the amazing things he has done in my life. I am praying that I will daily find time to "dance" and remember to take care of my own soul while trying to help save the souls of the students I work with. Thanks again Yac, your dad would be proud!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Final election thoughts

The election is over. Another president has been elected. For some he was the right pick, for others not so right. Some see him as a positive leader who can help bring a divided nation back together and others see him as the Antichrist (I'm not joking, there are those out there who have done their "research" and think he is the one) or simply a liberal "baby killer."

Whatever your opinion is of President-elect Obama, he is the next president and we now have a choice to make. We can choose to stay divided and talk about how he's not the best one for the job, how he is setting back the pro-life movement, and how he will soon be moving us to a socialist nation with big government control, or we can choose to get behind him and pray for him. More than anything, he needs our prayers.

I am not talking about praying for him to have a Damascus road experience where God changes him completely (only God knows where he stands) and makes him into what we feel a follower of Christ should be, but we need to pray that God will give him wisdom and guidance as he tries to lead this nation. Yes he has been elected, nothing will change that now regardless of your opinion of him-America spoke and the decision has been made.

I have heard people say why they chose not to support Obama and I have heard people say why they support him. Most of the time it is revolving around one issue, maybe its abortion, maybe its the economy, the war on terror, or maybe even health care-here is what we need to realize though, it is about so much more than one issue. That is why I chose a long time ago to not align myself with one particular candidate because of their party affiliation. I am a member of one of the political parties and always will be, but I do not vote along party lines. If we align ourselves to a candidate because of one party or another because of our specific beliefs then we have just made God about politics. Sure we should vote with our Christian convictions, but if we choose our candidate specifically because of one issue then we miss the bigger picture.

So now that the election is over we have a choice to make. Obama has been elected whether or not that was your pick. We can't change it now, but we can choose to pray for our new president and our nation. I'm sure I'll officially be branded a liberal now and I probably just ticked a few people off, but will you join me in praying? Thoughts?

Proud to be an American,
-Matt

NYWC-quick thought from Margaret Feinberg

I ran out of time at NYWC to do all the blogging about it, and I am still processing all of the stuff I took in this last weekend. So I will continue to blog over the next couple days about various elements from the NYWC and what I learned, thought about. With that said, today I found a quote that I took down from Margaret Feinberg. Here's what I had written down...

"When we listen to the echoes, we hear God more clearly."

When I wrote that down, I just wrote it in passing, but after the fact the more I think about it, the more I realize how profound that statement is both for my life and ministry.

In my life, especially when I am looking for direction I try so hard to look for a "sign" that I think sometimes I miss what God has placed right in front of me. My prayer is that as I continue to grow in Him I will allow myself to simply step back, listen to what is proclaimed in Psalm 46:10 and just "Be still..." Perhaps then I'll know better what God is trying to show me.

In my ministry as I have already said, I like the wow factor when it comes to the kids I work with. I am so afraid that I will lose them if I don't wow them. I think they have become accustomed to that as well so I know I need to try to learn how to lead them in "slowing down" and listening for the whispers. Many of them want to know God's will for their lives and maybe if I can figure out best how to help them do that, we might be able to go deeper on this journey together.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

VOTE!!!

Just a reminder...make sure you vote today, if you don't vote you remove your voice. So if you choose not to go to the polls because you don't like either candidate, I don't want to hear about it after the fact. Your vote is your voice. However you choose to vote is up to you, but just make sure you do, it's our right, and this is an important election.

Monday, November 03, 2008

NYWC-Francis Chan

I realized last night that I had not shared my thoughts from Francis Chan's general session Saturday morning. Here is what I took away from his message as a whole...am I calling kids to a radical following of Jesus Christ or to a program? The way he illustrated that was through the way Jesus taught through parables. He spoke to the masses, but really he knew most wouldn't "hear" what he was saying, so he gave the message (knowing the masses wouldn't get it) and then built from that. Now the way I interpret that in my ministry today is that there are really high expectations to following Christ and being His disciple. So how does that shape my program? I've always been taught bigger is better-you've got to entertain kids to help them see how awesome it is to follow God. I am not sure that is the case. Jesus called His followers to give up EVERYTHING. It was a high cost, it meant losing friends and family, giving up everything that is familiar to them. It has to be communicated the same to kids today-Jesus is asking for a radical commitment of following Him, which means if my kids are REALLY following Him, they may lose friends, they may have to take a stand even if it means being made fun of or ridiculed. WOW-now how do you say that to a kid..."Sign up for this whole Jesus thing...by the way, your life may get really tough after this, but it's worth it!" Sounds like a hard sale, but it can work. For me it means completely re-learning how I do youth ministry which is an ongoing process. This was simply reaffirmed to me again this weekend.

So Jesus didn't reach all of the masses. If I think about that, it's somewhat freeing for me. I can't reach everyone, but I can focus on the ones that want to know Him closer. Jesus didn't use everyone that asked to follow Him and I can't reach every student. Here's a question I wrote down for myself to think through..."What do we do with the kids we can't use (Jesus didn't use everyone that asked to follow Him-they didn't all answer the call)? By that I mean what about the kids who hear the message but don't answer it. Do I just let them go? Do I not pay attention to them so I can focus on the ones that want to grow? I have a desire to reach as many as I can, but I don't want to help create another generation of shallow students who walk away from their faith in the future. I guess I just have to trust that I am planting those seeds and that God is big enough to do the rest.
Thoughts?

NYWC-Tommy in action on the streets of Pitt...

Tommy clames to be a world class athlete...of course he also still goes by his high school nickname "animal." As we were walking the streets this afternoon he promised us he could jump this double parking meter...guess he's not as limber as he used to be.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NYWC-Messin' w/ Tommy

I've had a great time hanging with a couple of fellow youth workers in Jackson this week. They are Vinny Powell who serves at First Baptist, and Tommy Long who serves at my old stomping grounds of Good Shepherd Wesleyan. Tommy falls asleep early so we've had a great time messing with him this weekend. Here's just a small dose.

NYWC Day 2-wrap up

To say that my head hurt at the end of the general session tonight would be an understatement. I honestly found myself struggling at times to stay focused listening to Phyllis Tickle. However, I am glad I did, because when she finally pulled it all together at the end I found myself thinking wow, I am really glad to be a part of what is happening on the horizon for the church as a whole.

Basically, the session was a bit like a church history class, minus the cup of coffee that I used to have to keep me awake then. It a was very much a lecture outlining the history of the church via 500 year time periods, with it being pointed out, that we are very near the end of the next 500 year period-meaning we are on the brink of most likely changing where the church views its authority structure. We've heard alot about this over the past couple years, but she really put it into perspective in showing that we are really moving away from our structured "natal" (born with church traditions) into more of a bridging/combined theological structure made up of a lot of different faith traditions within the Christian church. No longer are we simply mainline or conservative, evangelical or fundamentalist, but most likely as the new generation rises there is some combination of the crew. While I wonder if this is somewhat cultural in how it will unfold (I'm not sure I see a whole lot of it among the people in our community and with my students), I know it is right where I am at in my spiritual journey having grown up in a fundamental Christian environment and now serving in a more mainline/social justice driven tradition.

I really again am not sure how this is going to flesh out within my life and ministry, but she emphasized that we are shaping the church of the next 300 years with what we are doing now and honestly that excites me. I don't claim to be anything spectacular-I simply try to do my best to serve the Lord, but I am excited the think that maybe I might just have a small part in what the church will become. I'm really glad I stuck with the message until the end, it wound up being one of the best "lectures" I've set through in a while.

Thoughts-what is the church looking like in your area? What do you see happening in the future? What can we do now to help our churches and ministries during this transition? Is it cultural or is it happening across the board. Those are the questions I have...thoughts?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

a couple of quick rants...

Rant #1- When you think your bottle of cologne is empty, make sure it is before you hold it close to your face and spray it straight into your eyes...burns just a wee bit!

Rant #2- I've blogged this before, but I wish the hotels would get it. Hey Sheraton Hotel, don't ask me to help you be environmentally friendly by reusing my towels if you are going to go ahead and take them when you clean the room. I appreciate what you are asking us to do, but if you aren't going to do it, don't waste the paper to print the message.

Okay, I'm done. Day 2 is awesome, I'll blog more about it later...me and the boys are "chillaxing" this afternoon, we skipped the seminars to sight see a bit and grab some food at the top of Mt. Washington. By the way, if you are ever in Pittsburgh, make sure you check out the Monongahela and Duquesne inclines to the top of the mountain. We rode one up, took a nice stroll along the top of the mountain and then grabbed lunch at a nice little restaurant called the Coal Hill Steakhouse.

Allowing myself to be uncomfortable...

Last night's general session made me a little uncomfortable. Not because of the environment, room layout, or they way it was done (three speakers in a 1-by-1 format w/ discussion) but because of the topics. It was a bit of a stretch for my Midwest, conservative, holiness upbringing. The Lord and a few of you know I have been on quite the faith journey recently dealing with allowing myself to being more open to ideas that are different to me. I don't want to say that I have been closed minded, but maybe I have been more than I wanted to. It is just a journey I am on, and the guys who are with me felt even more uncomfortable, but that's okay right? That is how we move forward on our faith journeys...even when it is agreeing to disagree.

With that said, I didn't really have any issues with the first and third speakers, but where I wrestled the most came with Andrew Marin, who spoke on understanding and building bridges with the gay and lesbian community. Now, I didn't have issues with what he was saying, but I had issues because this is an area that God is working on in my life right now...because I am living it. No, not because I am a homosexual or struggle with this, but I have people in my life who are and I am really wrestling with how to relate to them. My traditional conservative upbringing says-"Love the sinner, hate the sin...but just don't let them in our church." (my assumption not an actual statement). I really sincerely believe that at least one of these people really does love the Lord and wants to serve Him, but in my head I wrestle with how can he have a relationship with God and still wrestle with it. The answer is I don't know, and Marin at least introduced me to the idea of working with those that are in this situation.

In addition to this whole idea, he challenged us to consider being the ones who would bridge the gap with those who wrestle with homosexuality. At our school right now, "bicuriousity" and homosexuality seem to be the "in" thing, and yet no one really wants to address the issue or work with these students. It's taboo. Last night, I really began to wrestle with whether or not God may want to use me in this capacity, but what will that look like in my small conservative town. What will that mean for me? What will that mean for these students? How will we get past what I know will be said in the community about it? I just don't know...and maybe it was all just gas from the supper? I don't know, but I am open to what God wants to do and praying He will show me...will you pray with me?

Ministering to Middle School girls...

As I was looking for which seminar to attend for the first session, immediately I was drawn to Heather Flies seminar on ministering to middle school girls. I did this partially because she is entertaining and high energy and if there is anything I struggle with in ministry it is relating to girls. There are two reasons, one because of the issues of boundaries with students of the opposite sex, and two because I just don't understand teen girls. There are the emotions, the ups and downs, and the craziness of being a teen girl in today's image driven society. I was not disappointed in the session and here are a few of the things I took away from the seminar.

Her basic points were these in the form of the acronym SHARE...

S-Show up (if you want to reach a middle school girl, you've got to be present in her life-the concerts, the events, the activities of school, there must be that relationship. Basically she said that they have to know you care about them beyond their attendance and what you need them for).
H-Hear her heart (look for what's going on BEYOND what she says, and then listen to it-really listen to it)
A-Affirm her character (acknowledge who she is becoming and affirm that-take notice of things like when she changes her hair, because she wants these things to be noticed-and guys we can acknowledge these things too, just be careful how you do it).
R-Reassure her of her source of worth (Help her to see who God made her to be and who she can become. Help her to see past the expectations the world places on her for image and how she portrays herself)
E-Encourage female relationships (Teen girls, especially middle schools are noticing boys and are driven by that in many ways. Make sure you encourage your girls to look beyond just those and plan deliberate times for just the girls-guys of course make sure we include our spouses or another sponsor on this one and maybe even remove ourselves from those times so the girls can be girls.

Above all this she mentioned that there are exceptions to the rules as well. For the quiet girl-make sure find out what she likes and then let her talk about it. For the non-girly girl offer another option (she used the example of taking girls to the amusement park instead of shopping during the girls only event.

Another issue I am glad she addressed just briefly was the idea of how to deal with the "mean girls." This seems to be a growing issue. I know speaking as a guy here that teen girls can be catty, especially middle school girls and their relationships can come and go and they can be very abrasive at times-which can harm the ministry if not kept in check. She offered these three steps...first talk to the girls individually. If this does not solve the problem bring them together as a group. If that doesn't work, then do not be afraid to get the parents involved. I know this is a very real issue and PLEASE be aware of it. I can tell you, there was a rift in my youth ministry one year for almost a full year. Two girls who had been best friends since preschool decided to be enemies for an entire school year and it split our youth ministry. My suggestion in this are is to bathe it in prayer more than anything else except that God will move in your ministry.

This session was VERY helpful to me, and while I still feel I have a long way to go with working with middle school girls (that's why I'm glad I've been blessed with a wonderful wife), I think I took a few steps forward today.

Thoughts?

Disciples vs consumers

Well the first day of the NYWC is officially over, and of course it was amazing as expected. There were three key times that were a part of the day, so I'll make each of them an individual blog post to prevent one large one. So we'll start with Mike Pilavachi's message in the general session.

The premise of the message-or at least what I took away from it focused on the idea of making sure we are making disciples and not just consumers. Our kids are consumers by nature and if we aren't careful they will just come to our program until something better comes along. No matter how hard we try we cannot entertain our students into the kingdom. When I heard that concept it shocked me, because for so long, I have thought that the best way to do relational ministry is THROUGH the program, but truthfully we need to do ministry in spite of the program. He used the illustration of the disciples and how they walked WITH Jesus when he did ministry. They experienced it with him, they didn't just hear it from Him.

Something else that challenged me from his message was the reminder that it is not about us. Too often I find myself trying to make sure that I am the "coolest" so the kids will want to be a part of our ministry. However, it doesn't matter how cool I am, if the kids don't know I care about them by being where they are and including them in the ministry that we do at our church.

Finally, he challenged us to not be afraid to release our students to do ministry. Again he used the example of Jesus and the disciples when they went to cast out demons. There was one time when it went really well and another when it didn't we have to allow our students to serve, and even make mistakes the whole time walking beside them and encouraging them to continue. During these times we have to encourage them, correct them when necessary, and love them the most. I was really challenged to step up this are in my ministry. We have some student involvement, but I think I have held back because of fear of failure with the students in ministry-again probably more out of fear of looking bad myself. I am praying that the Lord will help me to expand my student led ministry when I return home in a few days.

That's my thoughts on Pilavachi's message (which the British accent just made that much cooler) Anyone else with thoughts?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Blogging from NYWC

I'm blogging from the NYWC in Pittsburgh. It is about to officially begin this morning and I am stoked! It is always an awesome time to step back, reflect, be refreshed and be filled for another year of ministry. If you see me running around grab me and say hey! More tonite after getting back to the hotel!

-Matt

Thursday, October 16, 2008

another political post

In case you haven't seen it yet...the latest take on the election courtesy of jibjab.com. Perhaps a bit off color, but funny nonetheless. Life to short not to laugh a bit and if you're like me you are ready for this election to just be over!

Do ya think?

I think maybe he should have picked a different song...say maybe "Too Much Time on My Hands" by Styx. Just a thought.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cell phone update...

How cool is the Lord...They didn't find the phone when they cleaned the theater, but the manager (THANKS MARK AND PALACE STAFF!) went to the seats we were in and there was Meg's phone wedged between two seats. So now unless by some fluke someone else lost their phone Meg will get her phone back tomorrow. PTL!

Please Pray...

If you don't mind, could you please pray for something for us? Meg and I were blessed with two tickets to see Michael W Smith And Steven Curtis Chapman in Columbus last night, but we lost Megan's cell phone at the theater. Could you pray that someone turns it in and that we get it back. It is a PDA phone, so needless to say, everything from her life (not anything that could compromise identity) was on that phone.
Thanks!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Experiential Worship

I'll have to admit, experiential worship is a newer concept to me, and at times a bit difficult because it requires you to step back and focus in a busy world which is tough for me. With that said, I had an amazing experience during a time of experiential worship this last weekend, and I want to pass it on to you to possibly use for your youth ministries. NOTE-this is not my idea, just something I wanted to pass on.

Here is how it works. You take 8-10 various spices of varying flavors-sweet, spicy, bitter, etc. and put them in individual bowls. You then have participants walk through the line and pick out three spices of their choosing. Once the person has their spices, they are to find a place where they can take the time to focus and then taste each spice one by one and listen/pray to see what the Lord has to say to them. That may sound strange, but the chance to step back and take a few moments was amazing, and I would encourage you to try it if you are looking for some experiential worship opportunities.

So for me, I chose seasoning salt, Italian spices, and sugar. I started with the seasoning salt and immediately it made me thirsty. As I sat there reflecting, I found myself thinking about the verse that says hunger and thirst for His righteousness, and I was reminded that in the busyness of life I need to remember to always long for more of the Lord. When I moved on to the Italian spices-which I love on pizza and other various dishes, I found that they were bitter alone and did not taste very good at all. This reminded me that things that are enticing may not always be beneficial, and if I am not careful they can get in the way of my relationship with God. Finally I tasted the sugar and immediately the thought of "taste and see that the Lord is good." God is better than anything the world could ever offer to me, and I need to remind myself of that daily.

As I said, this type of worship experience is difficult for me, but was awesome. I hope to explore this more, and would encourage you to do the same for yourself and your youth ministries if you are involved with one.

That's my idea for the week, thoughts?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Let's make sure the right thing is done with the bailout plan...

Here is one way that might help with this crazy 700 billion bail-out plan that won't affect us like simply passing the bill that failed would. This is courtesy of Dave Ramsey. Copy and paste this and send it to your Senators and Representatives...

Years of bad decisions and stupid mistakes have created an economic nightmare in this country, but $700 billion in new debt is not the answer. As a tax-paying American citizen, I will not support any congressperson who votes to implement such a policy. Instead, I submit the following three steps:

Common Sense Plan:

I. INSURANCE
A. Insure the sub prime bonds/mortgages with an underlying FHA-type insurance. Government-insured and backed loans would have an instant market all over the world, creating immediate and needed liquidity.
B. In order for a company to accept the government-backed insurance, they must do two things:1. Rewrite any mortgage that is more than three months delinquent to a 6% fixed-rate mortgage.
a. Roll all back payments with no late fees or legal costs into the balance. This brings homeowners current and allows them a chance to keep their homes.
b. Cancel all prepayment penalties to encourage refinancing or the sale of the property to pay off the bad loan. In the event of foreclosure or short sale, the borrower will not be held liable for any deficit balance. FHA does this now, and that encourages mortgage companies to go the extra mile while
working with the borrower—again limiting foreclosures and ruined lives.
2. Cancel ALL golden parachutes of EXISTING and FUTURE CEOs and executive team members as long as the company holds these government-insured bonds/mortgages. This keeps under performing executives from being paid when they don’t do their jobs.
C. This backstop will cost less than $50 billion—a small fraction of the current proposal.

II. MARK TO MARKET
A. Remove mark to market accounting rules for two years on only sub prime Tier III bonds/mortgages. This keeps companies from being forced to artificially mark down bonds/mortgages below the value of the underlying mortgages and real estate.
B. This move creates patience in the market and has an immediate stabilizing effect on failing and ailing banks—and it costs the taxpayer nothing.

III. CAPITAL GAINS TAX
A. Remove the capital gains tax completely. Investors will flood the real estate and stock market in search of tax-free profits, creating tremendous—and immediate—liquidity in the markets. Again, this costs the taxpayer nothing.
B. This move will be seen as a lightning rod politically because many will say it is helping the rich. The truth is the rich will benefit, but it will be their money that stimulates the economy. This will enable all Americans to have more stable jobs and retirement investments that go up instead of down. This is not a time for envy, and it’s not a time for politics. It’s time for all of us, as Americans, to stand up, speak out, and fix this mess.

If we do our part as Americans together, we may be able to change what I think will be a bad decision on the part of our government. It shouldn't be our job as taxpayers to bail out companies that were stupid with money!

Thanks!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rock the Vote...

Well, we are just a little over a month from the big day, election 2008. This of course most would say is more monumental than any election of the past, but I still believe that any election is monumental because it is a celebration of one of our many freedoms, which many around the world do not get to experience.

With that said, I want to encourage everyone to continue to research the candidates and positions that you will be voting for, whatever they are, and as far as I am concerned vote for who/what you feel is right after you have done your research.

Here is why I say that, last weekend I noticed as a part of the pregame tailgating atmosphere at OSU where you can apply for countless credit cards, car insurance deals, and pretty much anything else you can think of there was a big push to get people to register to vote courtesy of the "Rock the Vote for Change" bus. If you have never seen it, it is a big tour bus that is set up at various events around the country where you can listen to music, hang out, and register to vote. While I think this is a great idea and we need to get as many young people to register AND vote as possible, I was a little disheartened by the propaganda that was present as well. It was not a bi-partisan thing by any means. Now, let me again say I am not bashing Barack Obama or saying don't vote for him. You should vote for the candidate that you most believe in and most align your beliefs with, WHOEVER that is-be it Obama or McCain. Please don't vote just because your favorite rock star is endorsing them, or because pop culture says this is the right candidate-you're not a lemming destined to go along with whatever everyone else is doing. Vote for who and what you believe to be right BECAUSE you believe it.

So please don't be a lemming. Don't vote one way or another because Christians can only vote one way or one candidate is cooler than the other and being endorsed more by the media. Spend time researching each candidate and issue and know what you are voting for. As for who I'll be voting for...sorry I'm not going to tell you, but know I'll be voting as it is my right and I am excited to do so. I won't be voting just along party lines or because it's time for "change," I'll be voting the way I feel I should as an individual, just as you should. Okay you twisted my arm, I'm voting for...ROSS PEROT IN 2008!!! :)

Thoughts?

Monday, September 08, 2008

2008 MTV VMA's

So as I expected to be I was none too impressed with last night's VMA awards on MTV. I am not a huge watcher of MTV, but I do like the occasional show of the "Real World," and I have recently gotten hooked on "Exiled," which is a new take on the "Super Sweet 16."

All that said, any doubt that I had about where MTV stood as relating to the message it wants to send young people went out the door last night.

It started with Russell Brand (by the way who the heck is this whacked out ugly guy anyway-wasn't the least bit funny) making comments about the Jonas Brothers and their stance on purity and continued with telling the whole country they should vote for Barack Obama just because he was black? I just don't get it.

Now I know most of this was supposed to be satire and a really lame attempt at humor from a guy who knows nothing about humor (or grooming from the looks of him), but think of how many students will begin to wonder if this is how they should think since it came from MTV.

Again, I could be wrong, maybe MTV isn't the cultural icon it was when I was in school, but still I was a little disturbed and frustrated with the show last night.

Thoughts?

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's finally official for November!

Props to my friend Tony for finding this, and also providing some friendly competition...

I have to admit, I have been struggling with this year's election. I'm still not sold on either candidate: I still wasn't convinced after last night's Obama speech, and I'm still not certain about McCain either-especially now with a completely unknown running mate. So after much thought and prayer, and a little bit of help from the Internet, I am officially throwing my name in the hat as a candidate for presidency of the United States. Here is the link to the "local" press coverage. We'll be operating out of the home until we can secure some additional funding...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

weight loss battle-an update

So it has been some time since I posted any kind of update about my weight loss struggles. Needless to say, I have gotten a bit off track with the craziness of summer and life in general. I hadn't paid too much attention until a business professional in the community referred to me as "big-un" since he forgot my name. Now I know that is a term of endearment here in southern Ohio and I just shrugged it off, but it did bother me a bit so I jumped on the scale the next morning...the judgement 365. I have gained back almost all that I have lost over the last 2 1/2 years. I need to get back on track.

To top it all off, I finally took the time to hook the Wii up and try my new Wii fit that I got for my birthday-only to find that I am TOO HEAVY for it. It really does wonders for your thoughts when a game you want to use to help you lose weight tells you that you have to lose 35 pounds before you can even play it. Way to go Nintendo! I have loved the Wii until now and was really excited about the Wii fit, but now I can't use it which is frustrating.

It just gets a little frustrating-there is all the talk about everyone being overweight and all of that, yet it seems that most of the stuff that helps you can't use if you are overweight. Seems like a bit of a double standard to me.

Okay so enough ranting-I'm back to trying again. I am hoping to start walking in the evenings since I struggle with mornings, and I am keeping track of calories and what I eat again, and maybe, just maybe I can get back on track.

Gotta love the up and down! The battle continues...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2 Movie reviews for ya...

So this weekend was a different weekend in that I got to see not one, but two movies. I thought I would offer up a few thoughts on them for you as I often do....

The first movie I saw was Mamma Mia, the musical set to the music of ABBA. Now I have to admit, I do like musicals, but I was not looking forward to this one since I can't say that I am a fan of ABBA and my only impression of this musical was that it was the one that kept me from seeing Phantom in Toronto since it took over the Pantages theater there. Not to mention the fact that it was opening night for the Dark Knight. But like any good husband would do I yielded and we went to see her choice. All in all it was decent. I think it has a high enough cheese factor to become a late night cult classic that people sing along to (it was somewhere between Velveeta and Cheese Whiz-not sure which one yet). It is a little campy, but the story is decent-a young girl getting married sends invitations to her three possible fathers and they all show up. Needless to say the hilarity ensues from there. It is definitely not a kids movie by any means but would make for a decent date night for a couple. I'll have to admit I am glad I went to see it, but as far as I am concerned Pierce Brosnan lost his Bond card I'm afraid, I was fine until one part where he spontaneously bursts into song. Overall I give it a B-

Luckily, I took my normal Sunday afternoon nap time to catch a showing of the Dark Knight. I have really been looking forward to this one since I loved Batman Begins and think that Christopher Nolan has done a wonderful job of taking the Batman franchise and literally blowing it up into a mega-hit. I was not disappointed at all. Heath Ledger's Joker character is amazing as predicted and it is just a shame he won't be able to reprise the role should there be a third movie. I have been a fan of the Batman movies (even the somewhat cheesy previous four before BB) but this one is the best as far as I am concerned. I did not find myself once looking at my watch to see when the end was coming. The story is encompassing and very well presented. One word of advice, it is definitely not a kids movie. Even though Batman is a comic book character this is a very dark story and is definitely too much for anyone under the age of 13 in my opinion. In fact I am somewhat surprised that it didn't get an R rating. It is definitely worth seeing if you want a good action movie! Overall rating A+

Thoughts?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bragging on a kid...

I love it when I get the chance to brag on a kid! This is one of my teens who at 16 already knows what he believes to be right in the political realm and is not afraid to stand up and talk about his beliefs. He also has a deep desire to grow spritually and dig as deep as he can in his walk with Christ. To say the least I am proud of him, and to make a long story short, he created quite the buzz last week at this town hall meeting with Senator McCain. Way to go Taylor!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Home owner update...

The AC is up and running and seems to work better than ever. Although it took three weeks to get it fixed the guys at Hughes Plumbing, Heating, and Electric did a phenomenal job. I guess I learned how AC is one of the pleasures that we take for granted too often since two of the three weeks were the hottest so far this summer.

On the financial note, God provided the funds as needed as I knew he would. The cost was just over our deductible so the insurance paid some and thanks to our "emergency fund" we learned about through Dave Ramsey we had just enough to cover the cost.

So here's to AC, planning ahead, and Lord willing no more repairs anytime soon-since we now have to rebuild our emergency fund.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Welcome to home ownership...

We could use your prayers today. To make a long story short part of our house flooded today via the toilet in the bathroom. We've had some hefty storms the last couple of days and not sure yet what happened, but the hose on the toilet tank began spraying water everywhere. Not normally an issue unless you catch it a couple of hours after it happened. Needless to say the water ran out of the bathroom into the vent in the hallway causing the HVAC tubing to collapse dumping water everywhere and beginning a nice waterfall into the basement-onto all of the boxes we haven't unpacked yet. The duct work (and maybe more will have to be replaced). It's frustrating and we'll have to file an insurance claim, but it is just stuff and we'll get through it. As for the finances of the situation-it'll be tough, but I serve a big God and I am trusting that He will work everything out. Thanks for praying! God is good! I'll keep you posted-thanks for praying!

Friday, May 30, 2008

We lost a good one today...

Hollywood lost a good one today in the form of Harvey Korman. He will be missed. I remember staying up on the weekends and watching many of these classic sketches with my family. Here is one of my favorites! RIP Mr. Korman, you will be missed

Friday, May 23, 2008

Working in a Methodist Church...

One perk of working in a methodist church...a beautiful pipe organ on Sunday morning playing the great hymns of the church.

One drawback of working in a methodist church...Having a beautiful pipe organ being played for hours by someone preparing for a weekend concert during office hours when your office is right down from the sanctuary.

It's beautiful, but I'm ready for a break. I can only turn my itunes up so loud.

Final idol rant...

Well it's over for another year. I'll have to admit, I was nervous that David A was going to win, but am pleased that David Cook won. I was a little off though on my vote prediction-12 million WOW! I think America spoke even though the judges favored Archuleta. I think I will definitely buy David Cook's album when it comes out. Does anyone know if the song he sang when he won was the traditional submit your own song? Just curious. I liked it, but it was a little hokey if you ask me. Congrats to both and to the top 10 as well who will wind up with deals or at least on a Wal-Mart past idol finalist CD (have you seen those?).

That's all the idol talk until next year! Thoughts?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant...

So it comes down to the Davids as I had expected. My fear is that we will have another Taylor Hicks moment where the best singer does NOT win. Archuleta is going to draw alot of the teen/tween vote-especially now that he has shown some emotion even though David Cook is by far the best performer as far as that goes. My hopes are that Cook pulls it off as he has just the right edge of pop and rock and would fit exactly what idol is looking for in a star. The thing not to forget though is that NEITHER of them will leave without some type of record deal.

My pick-David Cook wins...barely (to quote Seacrest..."in the closest vote in Idol history, your winner is...we'll find out after this....your winner is-long boring pause-DAVID COOK!")

Thoughts?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

FINALLY!!!

We are FINALLY in possession of the keys to our house. Nothing like waiting until day 29 of the 30 days after closing clause of the contract. Now the unpacking process begins....anyone want to do it for me?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant...

Anyone else think Idol is just losing its flair? I was not that impressed last night and we are just a couple of weeks out from the finale. I just find myself wishing it would get to the end because it just seems to be the same. Same comments, same performances, same outcome.

With that said...Sayesha is starting to win me over. For the third week in a row I thought she had 2 great performances, but it is probably too little too late. Again Cook was awesome (but a little weaker this week), Archuleta was "boy," and Castro messed up. I hope they send Castro packing this week, but with his "looks" it will probably be Sayesha and heaven forbid David Cook. It all depends on who voted. If all the tweens blew up the phone lines and text messages who knows. I guess we'll know at 9 EST tonight.

McKee- OUT!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant...

Finally we got rid of Brooke, the way things are going Sayesha will probably be next. I am pretty much running out of things to say since the competition is almost over, but I am still picking David Cook to win it. I again thought he nailed it the other night, and the other David ruined "America." I have decided that the reason I don't like Archuleta, but probably the reason he is going so far is that he is too "boy." What I mean by that is that is almost too Jonas Brothers, too poppy and just kind of show choirish...he puts me in the mind of Alfonso Ribiero's "Carlton" character from the Fresh Prince of Bell-Aire. He's just a dork I am afraid, but I guess he can sing. He may make it to the finals.

Thoughts?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes...

Had a good laugh yesterday at lunch and learned a valuable lesson...never say anything to a 2 1/2 year old you don't want repeated. My newest niece Chloe was dedicated yesterday morning and so we all went out to eat as a family after the service. Paige (the 2 1/2 year old), wanted to know why Meg and I were still dressed in our church clothes since her mom and dad had already changed her clothes. She asked and Megan why and then said she should change her clothes and take a shower (since that's normal right?). I promptly chimed in jokingly that it would be good for Aunt Meg to take a shower since she smelled like "poo." I don't have kids so I didn't think anything of it.

Fast forward 15 minutes....Paige is tapping the waitress on the shoulder, and boldly proclaims, and I quote, "My Aunt Meg needs to take a shower because she smells like poo!" Needless to say my side hurts today from laughing so hard. Meg wasn't embarrassed and laughed too.

So I guess the moral is when trying to tease and have fun with your niece realize that everything said WILL be repeated in some way, shape, or form.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant...part2

The bottom two should NOT have been the bottom two. I am convinced no more than ever that Idol has become a joke. I don't think that Carley or Sayesha had what it took to be the idol, but it is clear that something is up when the two worst performances are safe while two of the best are up for elimination and one of them went home. Oh well, I guess at this stage you can only have one winner, but still I think something is up as Carley Smithson should NOT have gone home. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant...part1

Props to American Idol for featuring the music of Andrew Lloyd Weber. Those who know me know that I love the music from almost all of his musicals. So to hear it last night on Idol was awesome, although I was a little concerned how much they would "pop" it up and the only one to do that was David Archuleta. I like ya David, but you ruined "Think of Me" by making it pop-sure it could be a hit, but it just took away from the flair and mysteriousness of Phantom.

As it relates to the bottom three, I'm struggling with a guess as to the last of the three. For sure I expect to see Brooke and Jason there, but I am not really sure of the third. I think last night we saw for sure who the final four are. If I have to pick a third I am going to guess Carly since she has been there before and although it was still a PHENOMENAL performance, there were some parts that were a little rough.

Going back to Brooke, I am glad she pulled it back together and I am with Simon, I think she did a great job by stopping and starting again...I've been to concerts where that has happened and I think when an artist loses it, it shows their human side if they start again. However, she lost it and I think it killed what could have been a great performance.

David and Sayesha hit it out of the park last night and I think Sayesha takes the award for best performance of the night. I'll write more after the results, and it will be short unless some shocker happens-which could well happen since Idol is so "real."

Thoughts?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU AMERICA!!!! You stopped voting for Kristy Lee Cook and she went home! While she wasn't nearly as bad as Sanjaya she just wasn't good. Speaking of Cook's David Cook sealed the deal as far as I am concerned for my vote for this year's winner. I'm not even a Mariah Carey fan and I thought he did an awesome job hitting it out of the park Tuesday night.

I am really excited that the music next week will be Andrew Lloyd Weber if I heard things right. I cannot WAIT for those performances, but PLEASE do not ruin the songs from some of the most amazing musicals out there.

We're winding down, and idol will be over soon as well as the other good shows and then it will back into summer re-run limbo, but hey at least we're used to that now since we had the biggest part of this year's TV season interrupted by the strike.

That's all for now...thoughts?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant...

WOW! Michael Johns goes home? I sort of agree with the audience booing after that one. While his performance of "Dream On" was forgettable as no one can do that song like Steven Tyler from Aerosmith I am not sure it was a valid enough reason to send him home. My fear is that "votefortheworst" has picked up another contestant like they did last year and are keeping them around while getting rid of the ones that are good enough to stay (a la Sanjaya last year). Stuff like that frustrates me, but since it is an America votes competition nothing can be done. I don't think Michael was strong enough to win the competition, but he wasn't that bad either.

On the flip side, Idol gives back was good again this year. The performances didn't wow me necessarily (and I was not impressed in the least bit at the leather-or rubber-pants that Fergie wore during her performance of Barracuda with Heart), but it is good to be reminded again that there are those in and out of the country that need help. So I guess as much as possible whether through Idol or your church do SOMETHING to make a difference in the world. Give some money if you can or give of your time to make a difference.

Well that's it for the week, thoughts?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

As of today...

As of 12 noon today...WE ARE OFFICIALLY HOMEOWNERS!!! Now, if we can just get in the house. That should happen soon, but hey at least we are one step closer. Here is a couple of pictures for you to show of the place...

Megan is thrilled about the big kitchen...

This is the living room (formal), but the TV will be downstairs in my "man cave"

Thanks for all of your prayers, we have sure appreciated them! We'll keep you posted as time goes on!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant...

So Ramiele went home last night. No big surprise for me. She just never really had a WOW performance. Don't get me wrong, she's decent, but not idol material as far as I am concerned. I also PRAY that they NEVER do Dolly Parton songs again. I was ready to change the channel after the first words of "Jolene" and who is surprised that Simon thought that singing "I will always love you" didn't live up to the original or the Whitney version.

I love idol, don't get me wrong, but I pray that it gets better soon. The season is winding down and I am getting a little weary of it. I'll keep watching though since it gives me something to blog about.

Thoughts?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Weekly Idol rant-delayed

Well I missed Idol this week because of the move, but I heard that Chekieze got sent home. I'll have to admit, that is a bit of a shocker to me, it must have been a really bad performance. Anyone know what happened? I guess just when you thought the show was somewhat predictable, something like this happens! I really thought he would make it to the top 5 or 6.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A quick update...

Well the house in Florida is completely empty save for a few small items we couldn't fit in our cars or the truck (we'll get them this weekend when we head back down) and the truck has been unloaded...how we fit everything into the garage of the house we are buying I have no idea. Now we continue the waiting process as we finalize all of the paperwork for the house we are buying. We should close sometime in the next two weeks and hopefully have possession shortly there after...I am really excited although I still almost want to puke every time I think about the size of the loan we are getting. It's nothing unreasonable for a house, but is still WAY more than we have every borrowed before.

Tomorrow we'll head back south for TNT@TNU on the the campus of Trevecca Nazarene and then back down to Pensacola for our final service at Ensley. Then we'll head BACK up here to officially start at Christ Church in Jackson on the 1st. I think I'll need a vacation before all this is over with...but since we're buying a house it will probably a while until we take a vacation again.

Still filling out lots of paperwork and transferring insurance and all of that. I think I'll have carpal tunnel or wrist problems before I am done signing my name on all of this paperwork.

On a funny note yesterday after we loaded everything into the garage in a grand total of 45 minutes (Thanks to everyone who helped unload), I asked Megan where the box of North Florida t-shirts were for TNT. She said "what box of shirts?" Thus began the search of climbing over everything to the back of the garage squeezing my fat behind into places thought unlikely and looking for a box of shirts needed for this weekend. After searching almost an hour in the back with no luck I was ready to give up until we looked at the front one last time and it was within reach without no issues whatsoever...oh the joys of stress, I don't think I ever do anything the easy way, but all is good and we got a great laugh out of it.

I am not sure how much access I'll have to the net in the next few weeks, but I'll try to drop in as much as possible and keep up with the regular posts as well. My new email is matt@jacksonchrist.org.

Thanks for all of your prayers!
-Matt

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant

So with having my wisdom teeth out last week, I am on pain medicine and took two lortabs on Tuesday, so I don't remember a whole lot of idol as I went to bed early (BTW-lortab, that some good painkiller), but I wasn't surprised last night with the results. What I did see was good, of course I still like the Davids and I am officially sick of Beatles music.

While I am disappointed that Amanda Overmeyer went home last night, I am not surprised, and even though I liked her, I realized that every song was going to sound alike, so it was time for her to go. I'm pretty satisfied with the final ten, but it's still a toss up on who's going to win it all as far as I am concerned.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Movie Review-Horton Hears A Who

As far as I am concerned, it's a rental, wait for DVD unless you are just looking for a chance to get out as a family. While I am a big fan of Dr. Seuss, and have enjoyed the Horton stories in book form, the movie just wasn't memorable. Maybe I was just a little too anxious, but it just seemed to drag on and the story was just OK. I found myself looking at my watch several times and not laughing nearly as much as I would have liked. There are some great teachable moments though as it relates to commitment and willingness to help however possible, but it just didn't win me over like I thought it was. I give it a youth ministry C for teachable moments, but a D overall for the movie itself. Grade D

Of course I don't have kids either so maybe it's different for parents, thoughts?

Friday, March 14, 2008

We Got the house!!!

Well...almost, now the mounds of paperwork begin. I don't think I've ever had to follow a paper trail this long and we're just getting started. Anyway, to make a long story short, we were able to negotiate a price that worked for us, and as long as everything goes through with the financing (which we're already pre-approved for) we've got our first house! We are really excited, it is in move in condition, fully remodeled and I will officially have my own "man cave" which of course will be painted and decorated in all things scarlet and grey! I'll post a picture of the house as soon as the paperwork is looking good for the closing and keep you updated as time goes on. Thanks for your prayers, keep praying....next Friday is moving day...somewhere, even if it's into my parents garage for storage for a few weeks.

Ya'll rock!
-Matt

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Weekly Idol Rant...

It's time for the weekly idol rant since we're down to the final 12-or at least the almost weekly idol rant...Not bad on the performances last night. I am not a huge fan of the Beatles, but it was cool to hear some of the retakes on the classic songs last night.

  • Best performance as far as I am concerned goes to Chikezie, I wasn't a huge fan before last night and I am still not sold on him as this year's idol, but he was AWESOME last night.
  • Worst performance (not necessarily vocally though) goes to Kristy Lee Cook, I think she'll go home tonight, but I've been wrong before.

My favorites this year are Amanda Overmeyer (I know the hair is wild and the yelling is rough, but i kind of like that Janis Joplin, Heart, female rocker vibe that she has but she won't last) and David Cook, but I am a rock fan.

It will surprise me if David Archuleto doesn't win, and he has a great voice, but I have a problem with him being able to be in the competition since he already won Star Search as a kid. See my rant from before for my thoughts about that whole deal.

So there ya go, the "almost" weekly idol rant for week 1

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A housing update...

Just an update-the first offer was declined as we knew it would be, so we counter offered. So now is where your prayers count even more than ever. We should know more later today.

Thanks!

-Matt

Monday, March 10, 2008

A housing prayer request...

If ya'll could lift us up in prayer over the next couple of days, we would appreciate it. We made a marathon trip to Jackson this weekend to look at houses (and get stuck another day thanks to the snow) and found the one we really want, so we put in an offer. We've been told the offer is lower than previous offers, but I know I serve a big God who can work miracles. If you would, just pray that God's will be done as we try and get our first home.

Thanks!
-Matt

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Movie Review-U23D

Had the chance to check out U23D this weekend with Megan, and to say it was awesome would be an understatement. I have been a u2 fan for years and Megan is just starting to appreciate their music as well. The only way to describe the experience is that is was as if you were there...and then some. This was my first experience with digital 3d and it is unreal how amazing it is. If this is anywhere near your area, I highly recommend checking it out. It is a little more expensive than a regular movie, but it is well worth the money. You'll feel like you are right there at the concert (which I was really sad I missed when it was here in the states) and it is the best front row seat you'll ever have. I had the chance to see U2 on their Elevation tour in 2001 and while this isn't quite the same as being right in front of the band...it is a close 2nd. Rating: A+

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A green rant...

I need to start this post off by letting it be known that I am by no means a "tree hugging hippie" an Al Gore supporter, or a firm believer in global warming and the coming "inconvenient truth." I did however decide about a year ago that I was going to try and be a little more "green" and do my part to help the environment...not because of all the hype right now, but because of Psalm 24:1 which says "the Earth is the Lord's and everything in it..." I figure we should all do our part to take care of what God has blessed us with-whether or not there is a coming environmental crisis or not.

With that said, over the last year I have tried to do my part by switching light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs as old ones burn out, trying to consume less water in the house, adjusting the thermostat in the house during non-peak hours, and other things as I can.

Now on to the rant...have you noticed that every hotel you stay in now gives a spiel in the bathroom about how they are conserving water and resources by not changing sheets everyday and asking that you only get new towels if you would like them? Well that seems to be the case, and since I am trying to "do my part" I generally hang up my towel to reuse it the next day, but EVERY hotel I have stayed in STILL replaces the towel each day, which I don't mind, but don't waste the print and paper for a note if you aren't going to do what you say you are going to do. It happened again this last weekend at a large 4 star hotel in downtown Cincy.

Okay done with the rant....just do what you say you are going to do or don't ask! I'm trying to be a good citizen here people! :)

Speaking of hotels, I highly recommend using priceline to name your own price for hotels. I have always gotten great deals at expensive hotels ( I got into the convention hotel for $50 a night last weekend) so check them out and see what they can do for you!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

NYMC Day 3

Well another great day, that is for sure. I have to admit, I hate that tomorrow means back to the "real world" but I think I am almost as excited to get back into things as I was about being here. I still have a lot to process and a lot of work to do, but I think this conference has helped me take a few steps in the right direction.

So here is what I'll have to chew on from today. Greg Stier spoke tonight about "Challenging/Difficult" conversations. He emphasized the fact that we HAVE to have those difficult conversations with our kids even when we are afraid of the outcome. Again I thought-how do they know exactly where I am? In addition to the idea of having these conversations, he mentioned that we need to allow kids to question and process through the difficult questions and let God work the answers. Our job as youth ministers is to work through the issues WITH the students, and not necessarily always have the answers, but be committed to finding the answers with the students. Again this will be a challenge for me, because I have always thought I had to have all the answers since I was the youth pastor. So with that said I am glad that I now have the freedom to say I don't know, but let's find out together which will hopefully lead to deeper meaningful relationships with students.

So this has been an awesome weekend. I highly recommend ANY youth worker attending this conference next year...especially if you live in Ohio since it's in Columbus. I promise you'll leave feeling like you connected, learned some great things, and got fed.

Thanks Group and SYM for an amazing weekend and for pouring yourselves into us. You'll never know how much it has meant to me.

NYMC Day 2-part deaux

Alright, so I've had a good night's rest, and most recently a fill of another Cincy delicacy in the form of LaRosa's Pizza, so I think I am good to go to offer my thoughts of what God is doing in my life from yesterday and into today.

There seems to be a recurring theme in everything I have experienced so far that keeps pointing me toward the fact that I need to make sure the Lord is first in EVERYTHING in my life. I am not exactly sure why that is the case-I thought I was doing okay, and I am not sure what it means necessarily, but that seems to be the way the Lord is pointing me. I don't think I have strayed from the Lord that I am aware of, and I know I am not involved in some secret sin, but maybe I just need to refocus everything on Him because maybe-just maybe there is more than I am experiencing already.

This stood out to me in three areas yesterday...
  1. PLAY-I loved yesterday morning's session. I think for some reason or another I have forgotten how to play. I need to rediscover that "inner child" within me. I am a goofy guy, and love to have fun, but I have found myself not being as "fun" as I used to be-whereas I used to be the first one to rush the stage or do something as crazy as possible, I have begun to move into a role where I seem to step back more, and I really don't want to be that guy. In fact I am sensing that I need to relax more and just have fun...its OKAY to have fun, you can be "childlike" and still be an adult and still relate to kids...so God, help me rediscover that inner child.
  2. FEAR-Doug talked about letting go of our fears by faith in order to be able to have authentic conversations and relationships in ministry. I think the biggest are for me is my sense of inadequacy. I have discovered this about me and it has haunted me for some time. What I mean by this is the sense of "I'll never be as good as..." For some reason I have always been afraid of stepping out in faith or I have backed away from things because I compare myself to others and think I am not as good as they are in ministry. I thought I had beat this a long time ago, but the enemy still puts that thought in front of me more than I realize and I think it keeps me from being as effective as I can be...so God has been showing me that it is okay to be ME. I'm the only one (thank the Lord some would say) and God uses me as ME, not if I am some carbon copy of someone else. So God help me to discover who I am.
  3. EMPTINESS-I have been going through the deeper learning track dealing with lasting in leadership since to put it easy, I am worn out, tired, and empty. I think now I am realizing that it is more related to 1 and 2 than anything, but I am being filled this weekend and discovering how NOT to be empty again in a short time. God help me to lean toward you to be filled instead of trying to fill myself with things that are not YOU.

So that's what I've learned so far...I still have a long way to go, but hopefully I am not alone. Here's to discovering who I really am in the Lord!

-Matt

Saturday, February 23, 2008

NYMC Day 2

I'll blog in the morning about day 2...still trying to process everything, and I am beat so I am going to head to bed and maybe in the morning when I have a clear head I can place my thoughts into words-if I tried to night, it would be rambling that would make no sense...wait, that happens more often than not.

See you in the mornin!
-Matt

Friday, February 22, 2008

NYMC Day 1

WOW-so far awesome is all I have to say. I think the coolest thing is the intimacy level that occurs at the conference. I use that term loosely of course, but it really is odd how interactive the conference is. Normally when you go to a youth conference it is uncommon to see the speakers and trainers out and about-not so with this one, I think I had about four conversations today with leaders of the event and observed several others. I really appreciate that, but I am also a little nervous about the intimacy aspect too as it is not always easy for me to come out of my shell in a group of people and share with those I don't know, so pray that I am stretched in this area this weekend and that I will feel comfortable sharing my heart.

Coach Tony Dungy was the speaker this evening and it was awesome as expected, his testimony and challenge was quite an encouragement. Three things he hit us with that are applicable to my ministry...
  1. Learn your craft- Basically I need to know as much as I can about my ministry and the students I work with and also how I do this. I do think this is relevant to working with teens, but I am not as concerned about this aspect this weekend. I try to stay as fresh as I can about youth culture, so I don't expect to get as much of this during the conference. I am praying for an open spirit though that God will show me some new things while I am here.
  2. Make it personal- Be yourself and take a personal interest in the students you work with. I think I have some to learn in this area. Even after 12 years in youth ministry I still am trying to figure out who I am sometimes and how I can reach certain groups of kids. I am asking God to show me who I am this weekend-even more so than already. Do I have to look or be a certain way to be an effective minister or just be who I am? Also how do I reach the rough kids-how do I draw clear boundaries and still reach those who I don't connect with?
  3. Recharge-Rely on Christ as my driving force, walk as close to Him as possible, and trust the Lord when you experience setbacks. I think THIS as I said yesterday is the reason I am here more than anything. It's not that I am not walking with the Lord or struggling with some deep sin, it is just that I need some refreshment. I am praying that God shows me this weekend what I need to do to recharge.

So day one was awesome....just one more thought I am working through that I'll try and put into words later...just what does the perfect youth worker look like. That is meant more for humor than anything-but I am on the lookout this weekend for that one person who has the "look." I'll try and get that blog on later as well as a picture if I find him/her. Thoughts on what I should look for or today's thoughts in general?

Time to go to sleep-I skipped the late night sessions tonight because I am EXHAUSTED...I know I must be getting old.

Seeking to go deeper...

-Matt