Post 19: I will not celebrate post 20.

Greetings friends.
Today's Bridge faced more technical problems than Apollo 13.
First of all, it was a day where I was both the preacher and the worship leader. I hate those days. A lot of people don't really see why, but it's so hard for me to keep my focus on both of those identities. So much so that I actually left my guitar at home this morning, and had to ask Ed to break into my house and get it. 
For a sermon today, I basically walked us the whole way through human history. Only took me 20 minutes. I was actually trying out my sermon for First Presby in Murrysville in two weeks, just to make sure I could actually preach something without an outline. So far I've been pretty free flowing, and I don't think it's been messy.
I spoke about Jesus being our Everlasting Father, and how Jesus has been with us every step of the way. Furthermore, I worked us through how because Jesus always was, is, and will be, that means Jesus wants to work us through our past, present, and future. I feel pretty good about what it will look like at First Presby, save the few minor issues we had:
#1) The microphone didn't work.

After spending about as much time as I was willing to spend trying to fix it without results, I wound up screaming my whole sermon. Which any other day would have been fine, except that I was the worship leader as well, so a scratchy voice did wonderful things to the last two songs of the day.

#2) Christmas Lights
My sermon illustration for the day involved Christmas lights. However, during the set up, it turned out the light string was about six inches shy of the extension chord that would provide them power.
(4th and inches)
I was comforted a little by Ed's laughter.

(Moral Support)
*Sidney Crosby is not a human being

*I am on vacation this week, so I will probably not be posting.
*GLOW starts this week, you should come (yes, I will be there) (yes, during my vacation)



The Consumer Word, and why I would not fit in...

Hello friends,
I am still learning where this Blog fits in terms of topic. It started out as a blog for youth ministers, by youth ministers. Now I think it's sort of the hub of the Youth Ministry/Bridge/GLOW at Westminster. I'm more than OK with that, I just hope that people will hop on and read and comment and take part in the conversation. Otherwise it will only be me and some goofy youtube videos:
I took the afternoon to come down here to Farmhouse Coffee and enjoy a cup of Java and hopefully gain some ground on the more creative items on my to-do list. No dice there so far, but I have seen something that truly disturbs me.
They have placed a Starbucks right across the street from Farmhouse. That drives me crazy.
(Personal Note: Blogger fixed the issues with photographs, making it much easier to add them now. I am happy!)
But serriously, Starbucks? I am a big fan of coffee, and I know that they have some success, but I feel like it's so cold and overdone in the dining room of your typical 'bucks. I'd much rather sit in a place with a little bit of personality and warmth. 
So this is a call to arms.

We must keep Farmhouse alive. Everyone come here to drink their favorite caffeine infused beverage. They must remain, and the corporate giant must be shown they cannot push us all around.

Love one another?


Sorry it took me so long to post my typical after Bridge thoughts. It's been a rather weird day, complete with an incredibly long nap.
Tammy had the hill today. She always does an incredible job. Today we were looking at 1 John 4:7-16, about how God has called us to love one another. Tammy had the guts to use that passage to deal with the usual tendencies to want to kill your family members at the Thanksgiving dinner table. On the one hand, I was really glad that someone had the guts to take that issue on. A lot of times, we like to pretend that everything is OK when our worlds are in turmoil, and that's not the essence of Christianity. 

But then I really started to think about the Thanksgiving Holiday, and how my family doesn't really fight at all. The closest thing to drama we got was the one year that my Grandfather (who doesn't hear well at all) thought that Sarah was pregnant and that she and I were hiding it. Turns out, he had overheard my aunt talking about her friend Tara who was pregnant. (In case anyone was wondering, Sarah and I are no where near ready to have kids). Though certainly I'll always be able to entertain our kids when the time arrives:
So what's the funniest Thanksgiving story you have? If we can't laugh, we're just not living.



Christmas Worship Leader


Hello friends,
I spent the day today working out most of the Christmas worship here at Westminster. It was a wonderful moment, because the snow was starting to come down outside our window, and I was listening to some examples of Christmas songs, and I had a wonderful cup of coffee. Rather cozy. 
Every year, our Christmas songs take on a certain flavor, mostly based upon whatever band had put out the more influential Christmas album that year. This year, we're about a year behind, and we are definitely being influenced by Jars of Clay and their last album:
Pansy Rock Christmas.
Question of the post: What's your favorite worship song?

Kids do the darnedest things...


I shalln't be long, but tonight super things were done. 
The kids all gave up pretty much their entire youth group. 
We did not play dodgeball.
We did not have a time of goofy worship.
We did not spend an evening focused in on ourselves. 
Instead, we spent an evening patrolling the neighborhood, collecting can goods. 

We took a video of the proceedings, because it seemed magical. We collected somewhere in the neighborhood of 813 cans of food. Estimating that each provides two servings (which while many of the items were way bigger than that, we figure that's a pretty good average) that means that 1626 people will be fed as a result of our actions tonight. 
It warms my heart. 

Video tomorrow.

I'm sick, and technology is ridiculous!


Hello everyone. 
Sorry there hasn't been much posting lately, I've been on the couch the last day and a half with a killer migraine. I feel as though it is just now leaving me, so I thought I'd pop online and make a post. Thanks to everyone who was praying for me!
I've had issues with technology lately, and they've been resolved. Being a huge dork, I thought I'd share my joy.

Everyone in my office works on a PC. This disturbs me greatly. I have been a Mac guy since I graduated college. My aunt bought me an iBook G4 for graduation, and I've been hooked ever since. Not just for personal gains, but for the ability to make such wonderful additions to my ministry:


However, the Mac was having a very hard time communicating with the other fine folks in my office. But then PJ (our wonderful tech dude) brought home the bacon.

It turns out that with a wonderful program called Parallels, one can run Windows on a Mac. This seems to me to only point out Mac's supremacy, as it can actually be two computers at the same time. None the less, I can finally access a ton of stuff that I couldn't before, all while still making funny movies. 
So as soon as my migraine goes away, I'll be back to work with two computers in one. 
I'm a Mac, and super proud of it. the seat of my pants...


It is 11:10 PM on Saturday. 
The Pittsburgh Penguins have just finished yet another come from behind third period upset. This one was particularly wonderful because a group of friends joined us to watch the festivities. The blue uniforms (though a great look and nod to the past) are not at all intimidating. But hey, a win's a win.

All of the above mentioned events have led to unpresidented procrastination on my part. After watching some different speakers a few weekends ago who just seemed a bit more free-flowing, I dropped the idea of a massive outline. Last week, I was just totally off the cuff. It showed. There were a few times that the ideas that were in my powerpoint were either out of order, or I said them before I realized I already had them in my powerpoint. It was disorganized and sloppy. 

So tonight I just wrote the sermon for tomorrow. I still want that kind of free-flowing feel, but with a sense that I know what I'm doing in the background. This week I went with a three point outline, that I'll keep pretty big and set aside or even at my feet, so it appears that I'm winging it without actually having to wing it. We'll see how it goes.
I just love that at Westminster I've had an opportunity to grow a bit in my preaching. Not that I didn't in other places, but I never really had many chances to preach, so I never really had many chances to get a coherent and consistent style going. Let's see how tomorrow works out.
And just because they're on a six game winning streak, let's close tonight by taking a look at how the Penguins are actually big dorks.




the e-mail giveth, the e-mail taketh away...

I've grown to fear my e-mail inbox. 
I have learned that when I screw up, when I make a mistake that affects my ministry, rather than a phone call or a face to face meeting, most people will point out my flaw by way of a e-mail. Today, there was a bunch of screwing up, and a bunch of e-mails.
Related story is that I got a new phone to replace the iPhone. I had one simple "need" as I went into the ATT store to pick up out my phone, and that was that it "needed" to be able to hold my calendar and allow me to access my e-mails. So I wound up going with the Palm Centro.
That was stupid. Because tonight while I was teaching a drum lesson, one of "those" e-mails came in. I began pacing the room nervously, because someone was upset with me, and I hate that feeling. 
I don't like letting people down. It's like the worst feeling in the world to me. I want to make everyone happy and think that I am a super guy and that I will make their lives easier, not harder. I was about to drive home from my lesson, but I couldn't take it any more. I pulled over into the Dunkin Donuts (there may have been an ulterior motive behind this move) and wrote an e-mail back to the author of the previous e-mail. I apologized profusely, making her aware of how at fault I was in the whole situation. I had screwed up, thus making her life harder. I didn't make excuses, I didn't try to blame it on something else, I didn't try to turn it around. I was to blame, and I stood by it. Having watched the Pens/Red Wings game the night before, and seeing how Osgood always had someone else to blame for the goals he allowed, I figured I could be a little bigger than the Detroit net minder.
But when I got home, I had a reply e-mail from the previously mentioned author. She really pepped me up (which is odd, because we've never actually met) and gave me some solid advice as regards my self esteem. Then I got an e-mail from one of our volunteers, who wanted to tell me how awesome one of our kids was the other night during a mission opprotunity. Then I got an e-mail from a few different friends who are joining me for some Penguins watching action on Saturday. All of these e-mail worked together to warm my heart, and make me feel a bit more like this:

E-mail giveth. E-mail taketh away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.



are you at peace with this book?


Two blog posts tonight. Lots of stuff on my mind.
The first thought is this: Are you at peace with this book?
I get this question from a General Session at NYWC this year by Francis Chan. He began that talk with that question, and then asked it again at his church this week (I subscribed to their podcast after hearing him speak). But what really impressed me about this question was how well he backed it up. He spoke without any bells and whistles, without any other theologians backing up his thoughts. He walked up on the stage, asked that question, and then read the scriptures. 
As I've been planning my sermons for the Bridge in the next few weeks, I wonder what kind of preacher I would be if I just opened the Bible and tried to discern what it meant in a community setting. I wonder how much more powerful my sermons could be if I just got out of the way, and instead of trying to use a neat Rob Bell illustration or a piece of curriculum I pulled from the web I let God speak to our congregation through His Word. 
So to all of you youth leaders and other preachers who check in on this thing, what would it be like for us to only read the scriptures and do our best to let the do the talking? Obviously there are problems with this theory, but I'm curious as to your thoughts!

Where have you been Mr?


Yes, I have been asleep at the wheel. Things have just been crazy busy in my world, and blogging has taken a back seat to trying to get stuff done. I apologize for this temporary lapse in judgement, and am now ready to return to the blog full force. Ready set?

Probably the most exciting part of my week (and by exciting I mean horrifying) is that my wife and I tag teamed to run my iPhone through the wash. Apparently, submerging a piece of flawless technology in water and beating it up against the iron walls of a washing machine is no good. I went to Apple for a suggestion. What they told me almost made me pee my pants:

They asked me to place the iPhone in a bowl of rice. Apparently the rice will suck out all the moisture. I'll keep you posted. 

I preached today at the Bridge. I hope that this blog can be a kind of place where we as a church can gather and have a discussion that goes a little bit further than a simple sermon can. I walked everyone through John chapter 7, just trying to let the scriptures speak to us all. In John 7, Jesus seems pretty beat up and tired.

I wonder what makes us tired? I wonder what the things are in our lives that just make us want to sit down and cry a bit. I know for me that these things are many, and that they are too many to list. 

What makes you tired?