Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tooth Fairy is Dishing Out More Than Last Year

Poor guy is losing out, but our kids are reaping the benefits. Kinda like us consumers paying for gas (don't get me started...arrrggghh) where the oil companies are making out. Click here --> WebMD

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Neverland could be yours

Looks like Michael Jackson's home in California may go up for auction. Maybe we can pool our resources and put in a bid. Neverland Ranch

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Post WGA Writer's Strike Death and Life

No one could be happier than an admitted TV addict that the strike is over. The part that stinks is that it has left a few shows I thought had great promise canceled and some others with the dreaded TBD mark. Below are "my" shows that have life and death. You can view the whole list here TV Guide

Bionic Woman
No new episodes expected. Ever.

No new episodes expected. Ever.
Man I really enjoyed that show. I watched the whole season over a weekend.

Prison Break
Its season has wrapped. Not yet renewed for fall.
What?!?!? They better renew it or else!

No new episodes until fall.
Very smartly written show. IMHO.

Friday Night Lights
No new episodes expected for this season. Future TBD.
One of my fav shows about some great "youth workers."

No new episodes until fall.
Quirky, but I like it.

No new episodes expected until fall.

The Unit
No additional episodes expected this season. Future beyond that TBD.

Season 7 postponed until January '09.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pics From The Group Conference Trip

Here are some pics from this trip. I will upload more later. These are the ones I took with my phone.

My favorite pic of the weekend. We had a lot of fun. Doug tans funny. I want one soooo bad!!!

There were 50 pound weights in each box...but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

A nice moment at our track on Mentoring with Bo Boshers and team. They did an AWEsome job!

1st show.
2nd show.
3rd floor...bunch of youth leaders.
Decisions, decisions.
(man those cats are funny)

These are cat beds. Funny.

Warning, the pic above may cause disturbing dreams.

this is the sign I saw half way down that staircase.

This was the sign I was looking at when I almost biffed it down the stairs that were extremely slippery!

The 2 hour drive back to Indianapolis airport.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Interactive Audience and Bon Jovi Singing

One thing that they have been using this weekend that I think is soooo awesome is the interactive audience response system. They have been asking us a bunch of fun questions and then we click our "clickers" and vote. Then we immediately see the results.

They use them for messages as well. So stinking cool!

They used it last night to choose who would be the guest singer to cover Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name." I was one of the 5 that tried out. The guy after me got up and said, "I am only half white so I only know the chorus." Hilarious! He could sing. Then there was a big guy who got up next and he could blow! They were by far the winners. I got 6 % of the vote and they split most of the rest of it.

But it was very fun.

My Question of the Day to Answer


Am I talking too much?

I need to shut up more.
I need to listen more.
I need to be quieter.
I need to ask questions and be OK with silence.

This is hard.

I like to talk.
I like noise.
I like responses.
I don’t like awkward silence.
I am talking too much.
I agree with the statement that if I will just be quiet maybe I will be able to hear what others are saying.

Do we love Jesus? Then we need to feed His sheep.

Sunday Evening Session

Greg Stier – Dare2Share
He shared a story of his argument with his wife right before Bible study. It lead to a very awkward conversation of his wife blowing up and the exec pastor challenging him to take care of his family first. He came flying at him and then dropped to the ground in the fetal position and wept like he never had before.

Jesus had challenging conversations all the time.
Peter, do you love me? Then feed my sheep.

He did a reality show 6 weeks ago and brought a bunch of students together who all have different faiths and backgrounds that they found on craigslist. One of the girls asked the producer off camera, “If I become a Christian do I have to quit masturbating? Because I love to masturbate.” He replied, “Just believe in Him and He will help you figure all that stuff out.”

Wow…that is reality. Hard conversations. Real stuff.
He discovered the more he listened the more they were willing to listen to him.
Why are there less seniors than juniors and juniors than sophomores, etc? We are not having challenging conversations with them.

Do you know why students are deaf to us? Because we are deaf to them.

Matthew 10:19-20 – do not worry about what you will say…depend on God…He will speak for you.

Saturday Night Session Notes

Saturday, February 23, 2008
Evening Session
Doug Fields

“Why I am not good at caring about others.”

1) Personal insecurities;
2) Fear (I don’t have the answers; I might not do it right)
3) I’m too occupied
4) Feeling Uncomfortable -

It’s tough to care about others when I am worried about myself.

Behind the Scenes of our nice Jesus plays
Matthew 1 – Joseph didn’t want to disgrace Mary publically. An angel of the Lord said, “Do not be afraid.”
He said this because Joseph was afraid. He was not this calm and cool guy we picture.
Mary was not this cute little just came from the day spa girl. She had to tell her family that she was pregnant.
Luke 2 – they go to Bethlehem. Mary was “obviously pregnant.” They took a 70 mile ride on a donkey. Not comfortable.
The Inn Keeper – Luke 2:7 – There was no room at the inn. Occupied.
Go behind the scenes of your life. What is there? What is reality? What are your faith blockers? The things that keep you focused on you rather than doing youth ministry by faith and allowing God to do the ministry in and through you.
When you identify those things God uses you in spite of them.
When you name them, you can’t hide behind them anymore.
Isaiah 40 – God’s power is always available. He never grows weary. He has unlimited energy.
2 Corinthians 12 – God said, “My power works best in your weaknesses.”
We just need to go by faith.

Joseph was told 3 times to do things by faith.
We need t go by faith.

Hebrews 11 – What is faith? The confident assurance of what we hope for is going to happen.
He read through all the people
Hebrews 12 – cloud of witnesses

He had us write down our faith blocker on a piece of paper with our name. Then we crumpled it up and tossed it in the air. We took someone else’s and took it to pray for that person. I will put this on my desk and be reminded.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Live Podcast Last Night

last night we got to sit in on and ask questions of Doug Fields, Josh Griffin, Matt Mcgill and Jana.

here is what I learned:
The key thing I learned tonight from Doug was, “You want to know Doug Fields youth ministry? I get students to do stuff that I am too scared to do.”
Also, when you are tenting with guys he flashes a flashlight in someone’s eyes and when they cover their eyes he drops the flashlight on them.
Never eat a taco from Matt McGill. You may find some armpit hair in it.

Here is what you can win! Comment and you might win

Jr High What's Next? from Simply Youth Ministry

It’s one of life’s biggest questions—What happens to me when I die? In this two-week series, Kurt Johnston lays out the two options, what we know of each, and emphasizes the importance of salvation through Christ.
Using ample illustrations and his usual humor, Kurt takes on a tough one and gives you the tools you need to do the same.

This one sets up pretty easily:

* Week 1 — Hell
* Week 2 — Heaven

This digital download will be given away to the person who has the best comment on any of my Group/Simply Youth Ministry Conference blog posts. So fire away!

Saturday Morning Session

What a great kick off to the day.

Saddleback brought their 9th grade worship band to lead us in worship. They were amazing!

Rick Lawrence talked about our need to play. even in our conversations with Jesus. He delights in us.

Something I love that they do at this conference is having us break into small groups and interact with what is being talked about right in the middle of the sessions.

Immediate participation.

off to my first workshop.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Are you in Youth Ministry? Wanna Win some cool Stuff?

I will be blogging all weekend long about what I am experiencing at the Group Conference. I have been given a free digital download from I will be taking comments all weekend long and the best comment, as judged by me and some ministry friends, will win the free download.

So comment away!

Day 1 Group Conference

FRIDAY, February 21, 2008
Because I don�t want to pay some exorbitant fee for Internet in the convention center I will be uploading most of this from my phone and then adding in pics later.
First day of the conference�Great start! The bottom floor of the Duke Energy Convention Center is hosting an auto show. Some really cool cars. The amazing stuff is inside where you have to pay. But you can peek and see from outside a little bit.
Its drizzle raining and there is snow and ice on the ground. People are using umbrellas here. Weird. We don�t use them in Oregon. There are actually laws against them. McCormick & Schmidt�s was on tap for dinner
Tim Timmons lead worship. He plays a mean guitar and does a great job of intertwining old and new songs. Mostly I like his heart.
Tony Dungey spoke and did a fantastic job. It was not deep or new; it was, however, right on. He talked about mentoring. He started off by talking about how important the jobs are of youth ministry leaders and how unimportant, when you compare it, football coaching is. We just don�t get the press they do.
Here are a few notes on what he had to say:
Youth Ministry is Like Coaching
Mentors � 80% of new NFL players don�t have a dad in their life. �Who was the dominant male influence in your life?�
What we do is important. How do we do it effectively?
You�re not going to win every game.
Learn your craft. � conferences, Bible studies, seminars, etc. Get trained.
Connect. � make it personal. Be yourself. Take a personal interest in others. A bad teacher can teach an A student, but a good teacher can help every student.
Recharge. � rely on Christ. Take time away. Walk as close to the Lord as possible. Do not let God�s Word depart. Trust Him in everything.
This is the theme of the weekend and he did a great job of connecting to the theme.

Josh and Jake did the announcements with their shirts off (they are not the skinniest guys on the planet) and slapped each other during the announcement. You could see the pain in their eyes. The slaps kept progressing�from the chest to the face and ear. Very funny.
We saw a 90 second trailer to the �Soul Searching� movie based on the book. The book is excellent. Looking at lives of students and where they really are at. They will be showing the whole movie tonight.
Sarah Groves did a concert.
One of the songs she sang was in response to her trip to Rawanda. They played a video of her there with words that would ease into the video that would fit with what she was singing. It was awesome! Here are a few lines from her song.
Your pain has changed me
Your dreams inspire
Your courage asks me what I�m afraid of
I like this girl. She�s good.

I off to the SYM live podcast. Have you listened to this? It�s good. Lots of fun banter with Doug Fields, Josh Griffin, Matt McGill and Jana. Should be cool. I think you can watch it live at

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm Stuck

Headed out to Cincinnati to go to the Group Conference and I landed in Minneapolis and discovered my flight was canceled! I did not know what to do. So I headed to the ticket counter and they said I would get in at 2:45PM the next day. What?! There is a ton of snow falling in that area. She found another route that I could take. I was with Northwest and she put me on United Airlines to Chicago and then on American Airlines to Indianapolis, which is actually where I was originally supposed to land and then drive to Cincinnati. That was good news, but unfortunately I cannot get my suitcase until tomorrow in Indianapolis in the morning.

My friend Kurt is stuck in Atlanta and he was supposed to be speaking to a group of Alliance guys in the morning and that is not happening. Thankfully I was able to cancel my first night in my hotel even though I prepaid for it so I could get a really great rate.

I am now waiting in Chicago as my flight is delayed, but it is not weather related, it is because the crew is not here yet. Will I get anywhere tonight? Sleeping should be interesting. I am hoping that a hotel will be cool and give me a “stress” rate. We’ll see.

People are funny. So many people live in the world of entitlement. Check out this guy who was going to make sure he got his 1st class privileges of walking on the TINY red carpet for 1st classers.

Stay tuned for all sorts of updates on the weekend and what I get to experience there. I hope it is an encouragement to you.

I am now in Indianapolis at a hotel and will head out in the morning. It's snowing here, which I love, but I hope it does not get to be too much or it will make it difficult to get to Cincinnati.

On my way to Group Conference

I am on my way at about noon on Thursday. I will be joining a team of other bloggers all brought together by Josh Griffin from Simply Youth Ministry and current interim High School Pastor at Saddleback church.

I will be blogging and sharing what is going on all weekend long. Josh will also be giving me something really cool (don't know what it is yet) to give away to my readers. So make sure you comment on the blogs. It could increase your chances to win.

I will also upload pics too. I am pretty excited about this conference, as it was a highlight for me last year. Perhaps my favorite one I have been to in a long time. (even though it is right after dyc) :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What a weekend!

DYC is over. This is a high school conference held at the Red Lion in Portland. We had great weather and our largest group ever! I want to give you a few snapshots.

- There were almost 800 of us there.

- Josh Mann did four messages that "cryptically" hit the four fold Gospel our denomination (C&MA) is founded on. Christ the Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King. He used different terminology. Jesus our Redeemer, Refiner, Restorer and Returner. He knocked it out of the park!

- One of those sessions, Sunday night, was on healing. Josh invited a couple of elders from our church to me up and lead a team of people to pray for anyone who might come forward. When Josh was done, we went for 1 1/2 hours. Logan Martin and band played and the team prayed and students came forward in mass.

There were some amazing stories from that night. I want to share 2. The first: A high school guy felt God was calling him to go forward for some healing from a personal life struggle and was so nervous he decided to go to the bathroom. When he was in there he saw a paper that said "Talk to Erik w/a "k"." He went in to look for me but couldn't find me. Then he turned around and there I was. It was powerful.

Second: Josh was getting to the James 5:17 passage where it talks about healing and having the elders anoint the sick with oil. Somehow he knew that they had forgotten to bring any oil and was tempted to skip that part. Jeff, one of the elders, looked at Craig, the other elder and said, Do you think God could provide us with oil between here and the stage?" Well, they went up and sat down. As they were sitting there a lady walked up and looked at one guy then turned to Jeff, not knowing he was one of the elders, and said, "I think you are supposed to have this." It was anointing oil. After Jeff asked her how she came to have the oil. She got it at a conference a year ago and it has been sitting on her dresser all year long. Then she thought God was telling her to put it in her purse this week and that she was supposed to give it to Jeff. Crazy! Yes, that is God at work!

Oh, it may be that my friend's broken wrist was healed too!

- Over 400 went out and did service projects all over Portland and Vancouver.

- Monday morning there were a ton of students who went forward to commit to serving God in full-time missions, if that is what God would have for them. We also had an offering that went toward a text book project in Burkina Faso, West Africa. They had asked for $5,000. I did not think we would raise anything even close to that. The most we have ever raised was about $3,000 and last year was just under $2,000. I did think that we would be able raise enough to buy some books, so I thought it would be a good project. Well, this amazing group of students raised $5,100.81 plus a ring, 3 necklaces, 4 gift cards and 2 ipods! WOW!!! I was blown away! I have such little faith.

- Trace Bundy played 1 song Saturday night and 15 minutes on Sunday night during the session and then had a concert Sunday night. He is an absolutely amazing guitar player! Check him out at

- Logan Martin brought his team and lead us in worship. Logan has an amazing ability to "roll with it" when things go different than was planned. He has an amazing voice and is awesome on the guitar. Students love his leading. He also introduced us to to something called Mocha Club. This is where you can give $7 a month. He is going to take the money everyone who gives at DYC and it will all go to to build an orphanage. and is where you can join in under Logan's efforts.

- Scott Erickson came and painted Saturday and Sunday nights during the evening sessions. He painted during the music and the message. At first I thought it would be a bit distracting, but it fit so seamlessly with the whole night. You can check out some of Scott's artwork at

- I am truly pumped about this past weekend. It was actually a highlight that I heard no problems from the hotel staff. I walked up to the desk a lot during the weekend and just built relationships with each of the team there.

- Our fun night, Sunday, was filled with the Trace Bundy concert, inflateables, students learned how to do the Virginia Real and some break dancing. Of course there was the Labyrinth.

- Saturday night was our annual 4 vs. 4 basketball tournament and Portland Chinese Church youth ministry won. It was awesome! I was on a team from Salem Alliance and we made it to the final 4. We lost to the team that won, so that felt pretty good.

What a weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

24 unplugged! DYC is almost here.

With about 24 hours or so until DYC (our high school conference in Portland) starts I am getting so pumped up! There are still a few things left to do, but overall we are good to go.

I also got some very good news today and some very sad news today. The good news...the strike is over. April and May will be fun months for my itchy TV viewing needs. The bad 24 till January 2009!!!! ARRRGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!

(breath...take a moment...breath again...)

For you youth ministry types out there next weekend is the Group Conference in Cincinnati. I will be blogging through out the weekend there about what is going on. Along with a team of bloggers it will almost feel like you are there.

You can catch what is going on at DYC on our DYC blog at or catch the link from

oops, almost forgot to breath...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Jared's Funeral...out of the blue

Wow. What a day. This was the most unique funeral I have ever been to. 2 things really stood out to me. 1) Jesus was the center of it all. 2) Jared is loved by many and touched many lives (and still is)!

As we turned into the road of the church there was a long line to park. I walked inside through the back entrance and ran into Scott (Jared's dad). We hugged and he told me he was quoting my blog in the eulogy where I called Jared a punk when he was in middle school. We laughed and I walked into the the worship center. It was packed already and we were 20 minutes early. They say it seats 1200 and there was standing room only.

One of the things that was glaringly obvious was the attire of a large population of the audience. Jared said he never wanted people to wear black at his funeral. He thought it would be great if people wore bright pink. One girl came up with the idea of getting neon pink shirts made up with "Alive in Christ" written on it. On Jared's foot he had a tattoo of those words..."Alive in Christ." Paige, his girlfriend, told me that he got it so he would constantly be reminded that he was. He played soccer so he used his foot a lot.

There were hundreds of people with neon pink all over that worship center. It was really cool.

The service was the longest I have been to. It was almost 3 hours long. It was not drawn out, it was beautiful. A lot of tears escaped their ducts. I thought I had gotten completely dried out until I drove home. Then again laying in bed. Then in church this morning. God supplies what we need. :)

As I sat at the Nagel's house this week reminiscing of Jared stories we laughed a lot. Joyce reminded me that after I kicked him out she came back for like 6 weeks and sat in our small group each week. Not exactly the perfect set up for open discussion for middle school boys, but a great reminder of the love in that family. What we will do for our kids so that they can experience the best things.

Scott and Joyce both shared as did Paige and Sarah, his sister. They did amazing. Sarah said something that I loved because it was so real. She said she didn't agree with God's timing but she knows that God knows best. I loved that. We don't have to have all the answers. We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to respond "the right" way. I believe God's chest is big enough to handle us pounding on it. He is a big God.

His little sister wrote "Things I Remember About Jared." It was awesome! One of the things that jumped out was that she said several times things that he would do "out of the blue." Out of the blue he would tackle her. Out of the blue he would run and hug her. Out of the blue.

I think that characterized Jared very well. He was an out of the blue person. He lived life out of the blue. You never knew what he was going to do next. That inspires me.

After the service was over we went to the activity hall to have snacks and share and hug and cry some more. It was good.

The most amazing part to me was that there were at least 3 people who made a decision to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus. Wow! That was amazing. The Bible talks about celebration happening in heaven when even one returns to God. I believe more and more of that will happen as a result of Jared's life and death.

Death causes reflection. Reflection is good. I'm not the best at it. I am glad that I am in a place of reflection these days.

Out of the blue

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Loss of Life

Last night I got two voicemails from former students of mine. I could tell by the way they both talked that something bad was up. I called Jordan at about midnight and he told me that Jared had been in a snowboarding accident and died. Wow. Shock. Jared was maybe 19 or 20 years old. I won't go into the details as I have it only 3rd or 4th hand.

Jared was a total punk in middle school and was the only student I ever kicked out. We had a lot of long talks, but he made it difficult to be the "good guy." Now, I didn't dislike him at all. I actually really liked him. He was very funny and had a lot of life in him. He just wanted to push the boundaries all the time.

When he got into high school God grabbed a hold of his heart and things radically changed. I kept hearing this news from several people over the years. It was almost hard to believe that this was real, but I know that God breaks through tougher hearts than his.

As I do each year, I camped out overnight one year at Best Buy on black Friday and Jared called and asked if he could hang out with us. He did. We all had a great night and it was good to hear his story. god really has grabbed his heart and he has responded. We have many common connections, so I hear things from time to time and smile.

In talking to his dad this morning I think the reality of his loss hit me. I can't imagine losing one of my own children. I have been in a bit of a reflective place recently and I have been reflecting on this the last 14 hours or so (Karston was up all night sick and I was up with him).

Life is short. even if we get 100 years on this earth. When you put it in perspective of eternity, it is nothing. Jared had maybe 20 years with us. Who knows how much time we get here. I think most of us have this mentality of, "That will never happen to me." I know I do. That makes me think about how I am living my life. How am I treating other people? How am I using my words? Am I encouraging or tearing down? What am I doing with my time? Do I have compassion for people? Am I taking advantage of talking with people about Jesus? Am I missing out on opportunities because for some reason I get nervous when I feel like the Holy Spirit wants me to talk to someone about Jesus?

Again...I am going to make a difference. (read my old blog)

God has a reason for everything. He may just want Jared with Him now. I don't know. I think there are a lot of things we don't have answers for and won't have answers for while we are here on earth. I need to be OK with that. That is part of the mystery of God and part of faith.

See you shortly Jared.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bowling and NFL Ticket

Today we went on down to the bowling alley with our friends the Unwins. Bowling is always a great time, no matter what mood you are in. Karston and I got warmed up before we went by playing bowling on the Wii. I almost tied in real life with the 147 I had on the Wii. I got a 143. Not too bad for never playing anymore. I had a sweet 14 pound pink ball. The kids played on the lane with bumpers and we played normal. (although I think that some might have enjoyed the bumpers. haha)

You are probably amazed with my form as you look at that shot of me. Check out the sweet glow in the day bowling shoes too!!!

Kynzi is doing the "I Got A Strike" dance!

We had dinner at the Unwins last night and they have some NHL season pass on their TV and have seen some 30 games already this season. Then Meesh wondered out loud if you could still get an NFL season pass for TV this season. Steve says, "There's only one game left and it's the Superbowl and it is on TV for everyone to see this Sunday!" Oh man did we laugh. We could not stop laughing. I said, "I gotta blog about this." More laughter! She is a good sport. :)
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