Friday, March 31, 2006

It's Selfish Night!!!

So, it's selfish night. My ibook G4 is pretty sweet, the only problem with it is the panzy white color and the broken screen. If you don't know, a shelf fell on it at work and kabang, just like a windshield. Then it started to bleed purple, so you have to be strategic about how you write emails.

Anywho, in a perfect world, one where we weren't up to our ying yang in debt and we didn't need to buy diapers, pay bills, and all that. I would race to the Apple store and buy the MacBook Pro. I would. I love it. I love it a lot.

So, it's selfish night.

A tribute to

So my brother, James Raitz, has many names. He started out as Jamie, then it was James, then Jim, then Ice, and now it's

Here's some cool rock star pics of my younger brother.

My brother Sucks

I dream of someday owning a Treo 650. I know, I know. What do I need with a Treo 650? Well, my good friend Dave Kurt, somehow got me a Treo 600 last year and now I am hooked. It is wonderful! All of my contacts, 778 and counting, my calendar, my emails...oh that is great, and now I am dreaming. So, now the natural progression has occured and now I dream of the 650. Day and night. I even bid on one on ebay. The funny thing is, I don't have any money, but I bid on one way early in the race.

So, my brother goes phone shopping and guess what he got it, the Treo 650. I have been setting it up for him tonight and I have hard time letting it out of my hands. I mean, it is beautiful. I love it. I dream of it. I know, I am sick. Maybe someday.

What a great lunch

Today's lunch was pretty darn awesome. First of all, it was at the Blue Cross Blue Shield building in downtown Detroit, so that was cool. For some reason I do love downtown Detroit, and it was cool going there. Second, Mark's office was off the hook. It was at the top of the building and his office had a great view of the Ren Cen and the Detroit River. It was actually the best view of the Detroit River I have ever seen, it's not that much to talk about.

Mark is a non profit guru and it was great to bounce ideas off of him and to get some advice for Project311. He is man who loves God and his family. He is even going to come to a future board meeting to talk with our board. Very cool lunch.

Pretty cool lunches

So, I have had some pretty cool lunches/coffees/dinners in my time. I love networking and connecting and it's sort of one of my passtions in life. I love relationships and picking people's brains and I invest a lot of time doing it. One of my coolest lunches ever was with Joe Dumars, yeah, the President of the Detroit Pistons. Every time I have dinner with Marko, it's always a great time, last time he bought for Tracie and I. The last NYWC I met & had coffee some really cool people, people like, Mike King, Steve Argue. Sean Meade, Kurt J., Vince B, Jim Burns and your mom. Anyways, my friends will call me a tool because I did some major name dropping here.

But, probably the coolest person I have had lunch with is YOUR MOM. Man, it never gets old, I love the your mom jokes.

Anyways, today I am having lunch with Mark Bartlett, the CFO of Blue Cross Blue Shield. He is a follower of Christ, and a non profit expert and for some reason he agreed to meet with me. So, I am can't wait.

I do have to say that the absolute funnest person to have lunch with is my wonderful wife. I love when we can sneak away and just her and I get to go to lunch.

Reason 1.2...Mega vs. Plant

Reason 1.2...So, I have gone from working at a Mega Church (9000 plus attenders...oohh, aren't you impressed?...isn't it amazing how numbers in ministry automatically means SUCCESS...well, that's up for grabs) a plant church.

I actually feel a part of the staff and it's stinkin fun. Our team is so creative and so full of energy and passion, it's just plain fun being around them. The wildest part, I get to talk to my Sr. Pastor. Yeah, that's cool.

I am waiting for the phone call

Man, is it me or are my boys cute? I don't know, I know every daddy thinks his kids are the cutest, but come on. I know I am being pretty darn selfish or self-centered, but they are so adorable.

We were actually in a Wendy's the other day as a family and an older woman comes up to Tracie and I and says, "I have to tell you, your kids are so cute and so well behaved". Well, we thought that was cool.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The best

A few years I got to take a group of students to Jamaica for a missions trip. Well, on our day off we got to go to Dunns River Falls, man that was awesome.

I will never forgot how passionate the church was that we worked with. I also will never forget eating Goat, not so fun.


Man I hate her as well! I hate Lex, where is Pete. That's it, I am starting a petition to bring back Pete.

We want Pete, We want Pete.

"I don't Love You"

I hate Clark Kent, I do. Lana just said..."it's over". I am crying, my heart aches, my body is shaking, my hands are quivering, my knees are a knockin, and my heart is broke.



What the Heckiddy HECK!

What the heck is going on, who is this Simone that is ruining Clark. I can't believe he just did that to Lana.

How does he do it

I was reading last week that Rick Warren listens to 3-5 sermon tapes a day! Man, I don't how he does it.

I have been trying to listen to a teaching tape/cd on the way to work, then a podcast at work, and maybe some on the way home. 3-5, that's a lot.

The Thing was huge!

A few years back I spent a week in Arizona on an Indian Reservation, one of the wildest experiences of my life. Wild for a few reasons.

I have never felt a darkness like I did there. It's tough to explain, but it was a dark place. No hope, love, joy and not many smiles. One of the poorest places I have ever seen. Empty beer bottles everywhere and at that time kids were getting high off of hair spray cans, so empty cans were lying around everywhere. I also remember all the dogs just running around and how poorly they were treated.

We stayed at this little, and I mean little church deep into this reservation. It took almost an hour to get back to it off the highway because the roads were so bad. The dust was crazy bad, all of a sudden you woud be wrapped up and it was everywhere.

Anyways, one of the ministries of the church was a backyard bible study type deal. But the church had build a go cart track for the fun part and the thing was flippin sweet. The youth pastor would actually drive this bus, this huge double decker bus on these horrible roads and pick up hundreds of kids and bring them back, it was really cool.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lost is so Good

Lost was so good tonight! Man, it was slow in the beginning of the season but it has gotten so good. Tonight was good, especially the last 10 minutes. Wow! Darn that Henry Gale, I never believed him, but I am glad to know now.

What a great lunch

Today I had the privledge of attending my first Livingston County Youth Workers lunch and it was great. If you know Jason Raitz at all, you know that he barely passes up an opportunity to get together with other youth workers, barely. Was I just talking in the first or third person there, well, maybe the second person. Anyways...

I love getting together with youth workers, I do, I am an addict. Mostly I love listening, asking questions, finding about their journey, their church and what I really love is helping, however I can. Providing ideas, resources, a listening ear, whatever.

This network has some really great leaders and they even have a website, check it out
  • here
  • . They have been going strong for some time and are a great support to all the youth workers in Livingston County. I had a great time even though I had to run out early to race to the other side of town to speak at my daughters school for a chapel. I didn't get to speak to her chapel, but one for the middle school.

    It was fun putting a face to some of the names that I have in my database. I have spent time praying for them and now it's great knowing what they look like.

    I have a problem with Alcohol...

    I do, I admit, probably not the best place (the world wide web) to deal with it, but I am going to anyways.

    Now, before you get all ruffled and get that super christian know the one..."you can't be a christian and drink, you can't be a christian and have fun" know the voice.

    My problem is not with me drinking, it's just that I hate alcohol. The only alcohol I have ever had was 8th grade when I graduated from confirmation and I could now partake in communion. So, my problem is not with me drinking, it's just alcohol in general. For some reason I have a serious hate for the stuff. I know it's not wrong to drink, it is wrong to get drunk, ok, I know that. But still, for some reason, I just hate it. That's my problem. The problem gets bigger for me when I realize that most of my friends drink and for some reason it just drives me crazy. I know I am the biggest hypocrite out there, but it still bugs me. I don't know, maybe some day I will figure it out. I don't know if I don't drink because my family has had it's share of alcoholics and down deep I worry about not being able to be disciplined enough to not let it consume me. I mean, I lack major discipline with eating, so would that spill over. I dont' know. I am on a weird journey when it comes to drinking. Also, I married a woman who hates it as well and whose family had it's fair share of alcoholics. So, I dont' know.

    Feeling lots of pressure

    Wow, today I am feeling a lot of pressure. Coming from where, I don't know, but it's there, oh yes, it's there. The To Do list is honkin huge and I have no idea how to get it done. I have a lot to do for church, lot's of time consuming stuff. It's all fun stuff, dreaming and getting a plan together on how we are going to re-launch our student ministry in the fall. I am submitting a proposal and I will be praying. Project311 has a Jr. high youth worker training coming up and I have been getting ready for that. Lot's of promotion to still do, have to work on my part of the training and lot's of personal phone calls inviting local folks. Lot's of family stuff, never ending work on the house, and I need to spend some just playing with the boys and the princess.

    So, with everything going on, all the pressure, the stress of finances, new job, all of that, here's what I read this morning:

    Colossians 3:1,2...So if your're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ---that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

    Huh, much needed verse to read.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    My wife has a Blog!

    How cool is this, my beautiful wife now has a blog! Yeah! How fun.

    Check it out.
  • Tracie's Blog
  • Monday, March 27, 2006

    I watch way too much TV

    I know I watch way too much TV, I know it. Lately it has become for us our tool for unwinding. We put the kids to bed and watch TV. This is funny because I used to be very anti-TV, very. I thought it was from the Devil and Christmas Trees, but that's another story. But, I am embarrassed how much I watch. I watch so much I actually put my favorite shows on my calendar.

    Everwood on Mondays, Gilmore Girls on Tuesdays (JUMP OFF), Lost on Wednesdays, Smallville on Thursdays, Reba on Fridays, and so on.

    Well, the last week of April is national give up TV week and I getting ready to do it. I am going to give it up for a week and go from there. I would like to just get rid of it in my perfect world that only exists in my looney mind. We would save on our electric bill, our family could spend oodles of more time together and the list goes on.

    So, I am going to start with giving it up the last week of April.

    My Bobby

    Bobby is around 2 years old in this picture. I love it. What a great smile.


    New Blog Coming Soon....

    Suppose to Run today, but...

    Well, I was suppose to start running again today, but I was just too tired. That is my crazy, lame, weak, worthless reason for everything lately, but today, like the previous 5 days I am just tired. It's 7:18, dinner's over, I am looking at a stack of dishes, a messy living room and I have to start jammies, but I am searching for the energy. I really can't remember a time like this in all my life, when I have been this tired.

    Normally, most of my adult life I have been the energizer bunny. I mean, I could just go and go and lately it's just not happening. I think it's a culmination of life events, but mainly I think it's because I am a wimp. At least that's my excuse.

    I really do look forward to running again, I really do love to run. The hitch is, it has to be a good back day. My back usually feels crappy when it's cold and rainy, and Saturday it was. Today, though, was Great! The sun was out, and I drove with the windows down, YES! I love warm weather, the warmer the better. A few years ago I got a phone call from a friend in sunny CA asking if I had any interest of interviewing at their church, boy that was tough to turn down. I mean, I am a major moma's boy and the prospect of moving away is a tough one, but I would love the warmth. My back feels great in the warmth and warmer the better. I spent a week in Ft. Worth, TX this summer and I didn't even feel my back once.

    Anywho, I will start tomorrow. Yes, I have to. Maybe it was our morning workout that really kicked my tail, who knows. But my goal is run 5 miles by September 1. Actually, I have a crazy goal of losing 25 pounds, reading 25 books, and running 5 miles by September 1.

    Had lunch with Dave today

    I was late to lunch today and I hate being late. I really hate being late for Dave (he's the guy in the white sweater standing up), his schedule is crazy and I was bummed I didn't get a lot of time with him. Anyways, it was fun. He is the Chairman of the Board for Project311, a great friend, a huge supporter of mine, my number one encourager (outside of my family), a guy who I really respect and admire and let me tell you what, the man's got muscles. Oh yes he does.

    What I love most about Dave is his for Christ, his love for his family and his love for his friends. I guess that's three loves but I am blessed to have him as my friend, advisor and mentor.

    Good Intentions?

    Funny story...I was talking with a bunch of kids yesterday at church and this 9th grade boy says to me...

    You are just like this chubby, short kid at my school. I mean he is really short and fat, but everybody loves him.

    Huh, imagine that. Took all I had to not show him how fast and lethal us short & chubby types can be.

    What I did love though was his innocence, I think.

    2|42 Yesterday's Highlights

    So I have been at 2|42 almost a month and I have to say it's going pretty well. I made a promise to Tracie that I would really try to pace myself at 2|42. Usually my pattern for starting at a new church is to jump in and go crazy. Plan big nights, outreach events, say yes to everything, and burn out myself and my family. Well, I actually said the the "no" word last week. Our creative arts director, who is one of the most talented people I have ever been around, asked me to co worship lead with him for Sunday's services. I actually said no, it killed me to, but I did. The kids were crazy sick last week, again, and I knew Tracie needed some much needed relief, so I said no. It was very hard, but I did it. Plus, the musicians at our church are stinkin incredible and deep down I would feel weird playing with them, because I am not good, unless I am playing Hootie, YOU KNOW IT.

    So, both services went very well. Our 4 & 5th grade ministry, Kid Fusion, had their own worship team for the first time, and the cool part of that is a couple of them are in our student ministry. Nothing better than students serving in the children's ministry.

    We are in a cool series called Difficult People and our pastor Dave, really hit it home. It's cool being at a church where I really track with the teacher. The worship did great and they played the doxology and it was sweet. The older I get, the less I like loud and the less I like super clappy songs. WHO WOULD OF SEEN THAT ONE COMING. I am like the president of the Every Move I Make fan club, but I am on a weird journey when it comes to emotions and worship, and the physical act of it all.

    So, the only part that I really don't jump for joy at is getting there at 7am to set up. Sorry, I feel bad about that. We have an unreal group of servants and I feel bad, because I have been there for 4 Sundays, and they have done a year's worth. I am praying about that, that I would love to get there and set up and serve.

    The Workout Kicked my Tail

    Man, today's workout at 6am, YES you read that RIGHT, 6am. KICKED MY FLIPPIN TAIL.

    I can't believe a medicine ball could do that to me, I won't even go into detials, because I know I will get vulgar.

    And today is the day I start running again, yeah great day. But the good news, my pants fit better, and my hunger lately is really dying down.

    So, It's Working!!!!

    Email Problems

    Have you ever waited to send a ton of emails because you were tired the night before and you thought, well, I will just send them in the morning. Yeah, that's me. So, today, for some reason our Project311 email has some major problems. Hopefully I can contact our web guru, Matt Farina and get it fixed. Hope so.

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    Why can't I see people how God does

    One of my favorite authors is John Ortberg. Actually, I could read his stuff over and over, I absolutely love it. His book, The life you've always wanted, literally changed my life. Anyways, I was in our local Family Christian Store, which is always a trip. I love being tempted to buy...Testa-Mints, and the newest Purpose driven flash cards (no offense Rick), but something happened this trip that has me shocked and appalled.

    I was being helped by a cashier who I judged as soon I laid eyes on him. Why the heck did I do this? What the heck is wrong with me? One of favorite verses to teach on is 1 John 3:11...The message is simple...Love one another. It says to love, no matter what or who. So, I wish I could see people how God sees them. In John Ortberg's book, Everybody's normal till you get to know them, he talks about the As is principle. Too often we won't take merchandise because it's damaged or messed up, but God loves As Is. Every part of us.

    My daily prayer is that I will love As is.

    The screen is going

    The screen on my ibook is going. It's crazy, I have never seen anything like it. Like a windshield, started small and it's spreading. Talk about computer problems, I win the award for 2005-2006. Yes I do.

    Friday, March 24, 2006

    You know you worked at a big church, when...

    So, I am walking through the mall after finding out that apple won't replace the screen, and I hear Jason from the off in the distance. I turn around and it's Bradley, a former student from NorthRidge. He's like, you have to come and say hi to everybody. A bunch of former students were in a resturant and just hanging out. So, it was fun saying hi.

    Then one of them says, Hey, can I be a leader at summer camp this year? I was like huh, I don't know. She's like, well, I am a junior now and I really want to help out with jr. high. I was like, well, I haven't been at NorthRidge since June, so you will have to talk to the new jr. high pastor. She was like, who is that?

    Weird, you know you worked at a big church when former students don't even know you left.

    A trip to the pool

    A couple of weeks we got to hang out with some of our best friends in the entire world, Tom & Kara. It was a blast and we took the kids swimming, which was so much fun. My kids love the water and we have a great pool by us, one of those beach type pools.

    Tom's son Isaac, loved it as well. Actually he really loved it and didn't want to get out. This guy is a walking miracle, he is something pretty amazing. I can't even count how many times he's been the hospital and doctors and all that. Tom and Kara are amazing parents and I am so blessed to have them in my life.

    Trip to the Apple Store

    Well, my trip to the apple store didn't go to well. They said because it was accidental, it's not covered by my apple care. And to top it off, my screen will probably go out very soon. Right now it looks like a windshield. Guess how much to fix, come on, guess.


    Interesting Case Study

    I have been sitting outside the store hollister for about an hour now. My observations:

    1. The music is loud. I am at least 25 feet away from the store and I can hear the music very well.
    2. Everyone who works there is super skinny.
    3. 80% of the girls who have entered have had barely any clother on. Which is funny, because even though it's spring in Michigan it's snowing a little right now.
    4. Everyone who enters basically has the same look, that of a tool. (No offense to all you Hollister shoppers)
    5. Parents leaving with their children don't look happy.
    6. A group of chubby kids were outside and I could tell they were thinking about going it, and then a pack of skinny kids came out, and they went the other way.

    Now, I have never been inside a Hollister before, but these were my observations from outside the store.

    Off to the Apple Store, Again

    So, my ibook is messed up again. This time not my fault. It was sitting on my desk and a shelf from my wall fell and it and all the contents from it fell on my computer. It hit my laptop screen and now it looks like a windshield that was hit by a stone.
    Hopefully it will be covered by Apple Care.

    My new friends

    These are my new friends, Jess and Steve. They are the main reason that things have gone so well for StuCo. They actually moved to the Detroit area from Kentucky to help plant the church and they are in love with student ministry, especially Jr. high. I have loved getting to know them and they are just plain fun to be around. Jess was an instant hint with my wife and kids and so is Steve. Steve actually hung out at our house last week and our best friends in the world were there, and they gave him 2 giant thumbs up. They were giant thumbs up, because my buddy Tom is 6'5 and has the biggest hands I have ever seen.

    StuCo is going great

    My new youth ministry is called StuCo, short for Student Community. It's going really well. Right now our Jr. and Sr. high are combined and we meet every other Sunday night for a meeting called Elevate. The fun part for me is getting to know everybody. One of my ministry passions is learning everyone's name. My goal is for every person who attends to know that we cared enough to learn their name and to find out some stuff about them. This may be scary for some, but at least kids are known. When I was at my last church, it was really hard to learn names. Sometimes we would have 100 kids at one of our services and then they would leave and another crop would come in. I made up my mind at that point, that I would find adult leaders to do all the other stuff. Set up/Tear down/ Sound/Set up/Etc, and I would invest a lot of time and energy making sure I could call every student by name. I didn't always know everybody, but it's amazing when you put your mind to learning names how easy it comes.

    Just Tired

    I know I am the world's biggest panzy, but I am just flat out tired. Which is really intriguing to me because I went to bed at 8:30 last night and slept right through my alarm clock and woke up at 7:30am. Man, that's a lot of sleep. I wonder if it has to do with:

    ...Financial pressure
    ...Financial worries
    ...Financial worries for Project311
    ...Just starting a new job
    ...Getting to know everybody at our new church
    ...3 sick kids
    ...3 sick kids again! Bekah has strept, Bobby and Zach have some massive problems holding down food
    ...A sick wife
    ...My kids throwing up all over our couches and trying to clean them
    ...Straining to hear God's voice
    ...Weird emails
    ...Our Jr. high youth worker training coming up and again hoping we have enough to cover costs
    ...Blitzfest. My new staff must think I am crazy. Yesterday at a staff retreat we were going over
    our life maps. And outside of losing 3 relatives in a car crash, Blitzfest was and is the worst time
    of my life. My lowest point. So, while telling them this, I just lost it. I know a sissy.
    ...Trying to figure out how to be a good dad, scratch that, a great dad.
    ...Trying to figure our how to be sick in love with Tracie. I want our love to consume my thoughts, I want to dream about her
    and I want her to feel that there is nothing more important than here.
    ...Weight. I am so tired of being fat. 2 years ago, I lost 50 pounds and it was the best time of my life! I had more confidence that I have ever had, my back felt great and my life was disciplined.
    ...I am tired of trying to figure out a consistent time with God. Too often I get to busy to be alone with Him.
    ...I am tired of trying to make people laugh.
    ...I am tired of always being the one to make sure that nobody has a beef with me.
    ...I am tired...

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Whoops, there it goes

    So, you have probably never done this, but I am sitting at my desk, got my headphones in, jammin to some Amy Grant (Yeah, You Know IT) and I wasn't thinking. Not even paying attention and I just let out a massive fart, hate to be crude, but that's what I did. My desk is in a room with 3 other desks, whoops there it goes. My co-workers probably think I am a no good slob. Well, didn't mean it.

    The Project311 Board

    I have to say I love the Project311 board! I was having lunch with a youth pastor not too long ago and he asked who were the people at the lunch who opened it up, and I said, they are some of our board members. He was shocked, he didn't know or think there was anyone else apart of Project311 other than Jason Raitz. That is really cool to me, the fact that there are people who are apart and who believe in our vision of loving students and loving the people who love students. So, we had a board meeting last night and it went really well. We have some great plans and ideas for loving and encouraging youth pastors and we are excited about the Jr. High Youth Worker Training on April 12th.

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Jr. High Youth Worker Training Day

    I am so excited about our Jr. high youth worker training day. One of our dreams for Project311 is to be able to offer some training for our youth workers in Metro Detroit and on April 12th we have the honor of having Scott Rubin coming to town to do some training.

    We want to offer practical training, stuff that will help in the day to day grind of youth ministry. I can't wait. I hope some volunteers will be able to attend, but I know we partly messed that up by having it on a Wednesday, but hopefully.

    I have to get some information about it our website, I will do that now.

    I am so lame

    I have wanted to submit an article to youthworker journal for years, but everytime I write something and almost get up the courage to send it, I chicken out. I have a million excuses for why I never send it, but this time I almost sent it. They are accepting articles for an issue on "teaching" and I have this idea on teaching that I that I have been developing for some time. My biggest passion in ministry is teaching, it has been since the beginning. I love teaching God's truth and I love telling stories to go along with it. Actually, in 11 years of ministry (don't you like how I throw in a number? I have worked for churches for 10 + years and I know how to use number, ha, I am so funny) I don't think I have ever turned down on opportunity to teach. Except the ones that I weren't able to because of my commitments at church. I have been so blessed to tell lots of kids about Jesus. Anyways, in all that time, here is the phrase that is behind my entire philosophy on teaching. My goal is to speak with students, not at them. That's it, not very revolutionary I know, but I have seen so many people speak at, talk at kids and nothing sticks. They check out and it's over. So, my thought is to speak with students. Bring them along, use a page from HollyWood and build mad tension, tell stories that come alive, and make students have to work at keeping up with you. Anyways, I almost submitted it. What a wuss.

    Just show you how bad it was...

    This is a post from my buddy Dave Kurt's blog about the workout this morning, yeah, it was rough.

    "Today's 6AM workout was kind of a greatest hits. It consisted of Crab walks, Bear crawls, one legged box hops, two legged hurdle jumps, bag pushes, push ups, split lunges, tricep dips and some others that I've probably blocked out at some point. This was one that we were all dying on today - the kind that makes you dig deep and I came up empty."

    Yeah, I could fall asleep at any time.

    Take a Coffee Break

    My body is dead!

    So, I have missed the last three weeks of our early morning workout. I have let some crappy life situations take over and I used that as my excuse to not go. So, today was my first day back and I can't feel my body. I can barely type these words or use my fingers, my body hurts.

    You don't understand! I know your thinking, this guy is a PANSY! You should come, 6am and work out with the ex-Detroit Red Wing trainer and you will know, oh yes you will.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    I have work to do

    I am driving home today with my daughter, Bekah Sue, and we are singing. We play this game, we made it up, and basically you sing whatever comes to mind and then the other person has to sing it. So, I start singing goofy words and I say, it's your turn.

    Well, Bekah sings...Daddy's to tired to play, he has to work, he's on his computer and his back hurts.

    Wow, humbled me right then and there. Right from the mouth of my daughter, hit me hard.

    So, I have work to do. Lots of it, because I cannot waste any moments of my kids lives. I am not going to be like the dad in the new adam sandler movie.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    This last Sunday I spoke on the Prodigal son, the well known story about an arrogant son, who demands his money from his dad, goes and blows it, hits rock bottom and then he gets the idea, maybe he could go back and work for his dad, as a servant.

    But, the dad is waiting and watching for his son, AMAZING to me! How often do prodigals mistreat me or I have friends who are struggling with their kids and my first thought is to say..."Fine, be a jerk, get out of my life". But as I read this story over and over, I just can't get past the part where the father was waiting for his son, ran to him, and threw him a party to welcome him home. It is amazing to me that my God waits for me, because the moral of the story is, I am just like the prodigal...self-centered, a know it all, wanting immediate gratification and God still loves me for who I am, amazing.

    My whole gist of the talk was, Now What? How do you deal with a prodigal? We looked at a couple of biblical principles:
    1. Unwavering Prayer. Not the sunday school kind of prayer, but on your face, crying out to God. Side note: I have to say it is refreshing being at a church that prays that way. It's been a long time since I have been at a church that actually believes our prayers will be answered.
    2. Unending Patience. How do we that? It is so hard, but God is patient with us, we need to be patient with our prodigals and our kids. This is where I mess up the most, losing my patience with my kids. Something everyday I pray about.
    3. Unconditional Love. 1 John 3:11 kind of love, Romans 12:9-14 kind of love.

    It just amazes me that a holy, loving God would wait and watch for me and welcome me with open arms.


    I am tired all the time! It is weird, I just always feel exhausted. Especially like last night, I went to bed at 8:30, slept right through my alarm at 5:00am and finally got up at 7:15am. Man, that stinks. Yesterday was a rough day, just emotionally and mentally exhausting.

    The morning was fun, I was the guest speaker at PCA's spiritual emphasis week, that was fun. It was fun because I totatally threw the kids for a loop. They were expecting the funny, what's coming next kind of talk, and I sat on a stool the entire time and taught out of Luke 5. There were actually a couple of kids sleeping, yes!

    Then the afternoon, that was the tough part. Let's just say this, be very careful before you plan events, especially if your the guy in charge, because everything will come back to bite you. Thankfully, two of our board members were available to help me out.

    Then the evening, it was fun. We got to have dinner with my mom and brother. My dad was on call, so he was driving hosptial equipment all over the state. But the family got to have a good KFC dinner with my mom and brother. And I guess, their might be a lady friend in my brother's life, but I think that's a secret. But you know what, there are always like 3 or 4 in his life. Went home, did jammies, watched a little 7th heaven, read that right and then crashed at 8:30pm.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Jay Laffoon in Brighton

    My family is having lunch today at Red Robin in Brighton and stinkin Jay Laffoon walks up and says hi. I love Jay Laffoon! I have loved him since I first met him in 1998 and he has been an incredible help/advisor/teacher/supporter of mine over the years. He is an awesome communicator and he has a great conference called Celebrate your Marriage and, oh yes, he is the chaplain for the stinkin PGA! How about that, the chaplain of the PGA.

    Anyways, it was really cool seeing him today out of the blue. Tracie and I have always wanted to attend one of the Celebrate conferences and hopefully we will soon. We actually dream of hosting a conference someday for just youth worker's and their spouses and I would love to pull in
  • Jay & Laura
  • and
  • Rand & Marli
  • , another good set of friends who do some great teaching on marriage and family stuff.

    This dream actually started with Tracie, the dream of hosting a conference for youth worker's and spouses. We, like most couples have had our rough moments in marriage, especially years 2-4 when ministry became my life. I totally forgot to communicate with her and she had a hard time vocalizes her worries and she just let it build up. That's not the case now, I try to over to over communicate, which I still end up failing pretty good at, and she rides my case if she doesn't know about something. Especially in ministry, communication is vital for a youth workers marriage.

    Project311 hosts our first Metro Detroit Youth Workers Lunch

    "What a great lunch"..."Enjoyed every moment"..."I left encouraged"..."It was great being a room filled with youth workers"..."Thank you for caring"..."Can't wait till the next one".

    Those were some of the comments we received after our first Youth Workers lunch. When we first started planning the event, I was really expecting around 20 youth workers to attend. But, I started going to town researching all of the youth workers in our area. They all received email after email, phone calls and the best part was that some veteran youth workers gave us the thumbs up to their networks, that was awesome. So in all, we had 95 youth workers attend!!! Wow, it was wild considering the room we rented comfortably holds around 50. Our board was great, and half of them were able to attend, which was very cool. Dave Kurt and Rod Dunlap did a great job talking from the front and we couldn't of done it without Jason Shinn and his hard work with the video and slides. And we had a huge set up team and they rocked!

    We were able to provide a great, free lunch for them, provided by SpringHill Camp. A time for them to share ideas and we will email them everybody's results, so more people will get lots of great ideas. And the fun part for us was the surprise! Yeah, we gave away stuff and they didn't know it was coming. The Project311 board really did a great job coming up with sweet give aways, we gave away:

    ...Books from Group Publishing and Baker Publishing
    ...Cups, T-shirts and hats from Springhill camp
    ...Gifts cards to Costco, Best Buy and a few resturants
    ...Gift card from our friends at
    ...2 tickets to the Core (Thanks to Youth Specialties)
    ...Detroit Piston Tickets and Detroit Piston Playoff tickets
    ...NCAA first round tickets
    ...2 tickets to the National Youth Workers Conference

    So all in all, our goals for the lunch were not to waste anybody's time, to provide them with some great resources, to give them opportunity to share ideas and we wanted to encourage them. I think we did pretty good. Can't wait till the next one!

    My kids are workers

    So, we have traveled a lot as a family. We have been on retreats together, they have sat through countless chapels and youth group nights and last Friday they helped out at our Youth Workers lunch.

    Huh, how about that

    I was driving the other day and I passed a middle school. Nothing special about that. But as I drove by, I read the school sign. It read...March is Reading Month. Huh, I thought every month was a reading month.

    I am such a Hypocrite!

    I am not sure if I spelled that right, but I am crazy hypocrite. This is extremely weird to write, but today I spoke, yeah, like I was the main teacher in our weekend services at 2|42. Why is that weird? Considering that's what I do a lot of...Because it's been a long time since I felt like I was a part of the church leadership at a church and it has been a weird transition to get back into that mode. It's really an honor.

    So, today I finished our series on Parenting and my topic was a tough one. We called it...Now What? What to do when you get to the Now What place of life, when your son/daughter or friend or family member is living outside of God's parameters and is living the life of a prodigal. It was an absolute honor! My pastor, Dave Dummit is a great teacher. Now, I am not saying that because I have to or to kiss up, actually I don't even know if he reads this, oh well. But, we have visited a lot of area churches the last 8 months and I have been at church's with descent teachers, but I haven't heard anybody as good as Dave. I felt like my last pastor just spoke at people and Dave really connects with a great style, great fun and great depth. So, it was honor to take his place for a weekend.

    So, why am I hypocrite? Because today I spoke about some biblical principles with dealing with prodigals and some parenting basics and tonight I already didn't do what I spoke about. I have been really tired this last week, a lot of late nights, 4 nights this week I got 4 hours of sleep and I had a crazy day on Friday with our Youth Workers Lunch, I studied all day Saturday and Sunday, I spoke twice, had two parents meetings, so I am beat! So, this afternoon, our kids were run down, I was run down, Tracie was run down, I had no energy, and I lost my patience. That's one of the principles I spoke about, having unending patience. Man, I dream of having undending patience with my kids.

    I Love Extreme Make Over

    I can't help it, I am in love with Extreme Make Over Home Edition. It is the best show on TV! I like it because it is so real and it is so genuine. I have friends around the country who were able to help out with projects on the show and they said that the main folks are the real deal.

    It could be because I love give aways. Giving stuff away is really fun and I love how incredibly huge the give aways are one Extreme Make Over.

    I am just going to lay this out, I would love to have money. Being a youth pastor for the last 11 years, and Tracie not working, our gross income isn't all that incredible, but we have always tried to be giving. I actually really screwed us up early in our marriage, because I love to buy dinner for folks. I love to be that guy who sneaks the bill and pay for everybody and I did that way too much the first 5 years of marriage and because of it I got us into some money problems. But, I would love to have money. It's amazing how money can change people's lives. I know it's not as important as faith, love, family and all that, but it sure can make a huge difference. My dream job would be traveling around the country visiting youth pastors and sr. pastors and just blessing them. I would love to give someone a mini-van, or cool stuff like that. That's why I love this show so much.

    At our Youth Workers Lunch on Friday, we were able to give away some cool stuff. And the best part was, the youth workers who attended didn't know we were giving stuff away. To see some of their faces as we gave away gift cards, tickets to piston games and stuff like that, well, it was just plain fun to bless youth workers.

    The Tea Party

    Well, our princess had the Tea party of all Tea parties last weekend. I took the boys swimming at the Family Fitness Factory and Tracie and Bekah welcomed 10 little girls over for a tea party. I have to say, I am so proud of Tracie. She made this party so cute. She made little fans, and little invitations, it was so cute. All the girls dressed up and they looked so sweet.

    Bekah, of course was Beautiful! Her friends really blessed her with gifts and she had a great time. My mom came over to help Tracie and Rachel our new Pastor's wife was over to help. It was awesome!

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    I wonder if life would be possible without her

    I wonder, and at this point of my life, I don't think it would. Tracie is so incredible. She has an amazing array of wisdom and actually I think that's one of her strongest qualities. She has incredible discernment and her gut feeling is normally right. She is incredible.

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    It's already begun

    Bekah and I are driving to school last week and I look into the rear view mirror and Bekah looks like she is about to cry. I ask, "Bekah what's wrong"? Bekah says..."Daddy, all the kids in my class are losing their teeth and I'm not. What's wrong with me? Why aren't I like all the other kids"?

    What the heck, I thought to myself. Peer Pressure at 6, that's just crazy!

    I Suck, not Mac!

    So, I know I am not the smartest person out there, I mean, not many of us can do our undergrad in 9 years, it's tough, yeah. You read that right, 9 long years. That's a whole other story. But, I just always have the craziest problems with my stuff. Like, why would my ibook need a new logic board? Considering I bought it less than a year ago. Is it because I was suppose to get a power book? I don't know. I am praying my new church in time, will get me a powerbook, but that's going to be awhile.

    So, the lesson I want to learn today...slow down and listen. I got a lot of great emails about backing up my stuff, buying an external hard drive and now I just have to do it and listen to them.

    Because I love my Mac, I do.

    Two days left!

    I can't even believe the response to our youth worker's lunch, it's been great! I was orginally hoping for 20, that was going to be successful to me, but it's going to be way more than that. Can you tell I have worked for the "church" for 11 years? Gauging success on how many seats are occupied, man, crazy.

    I hope this will be extremely encouraging for the youth workers attending. I am a different kind of person, I know, but you can't keep me away from stuff like this.

    my friend the incomperable Jason Shinn just arrived. the man is a genuis! he helps me write my talks, he's handsome, and dadgummit people like him. well, not many people like but i do and thats all that matters...

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Only in Jackson, MI

    So, I am walking into a grocery store near my in-laws, and right next to the pop machines is the Bait machine. Now, don't get me wrong, it seems helpful. But what the heck, how wild is that. I have seen them before, but this time it did something different for me. I don't fish, I don't hunt, but if I did, I would know where to go to get bait.

    Mac doesn't Suck, I Do

    Thank you to all of you who have given me the low down, the 411 on my mac. Very helpful, and good to know. What I love most about my Mac is how sexy everything is, I know that sounds weird, but it's just sweet looking.

    I have an ibook and I dream of a power book or the new one, a Mac pro?, I don't know what it's called, but I want it.

    Now I am on Firefox and I can do a little bit more on my blog than Safari, Sweet like butter.

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Mac Sucks or does it?

    So, Love Mac. I really do. I love how easy everything is, but I have had my ibook less than a year and I have monster trouble with it. This last time, they had to replace the logic board and I lost all of my stuff that was on my computer. Mostly because I am an idiot! They need a dummies manual for the dummies, I thought I had backed everything up, but I guess not. All my music, photos, word documents....UHHHHHHHHHH.

    Why is it that on a PC, my blogger account has so much more to offer. I can change fonts, sizes, everything, but on my mac I just have spell check. I have to figure that out as well.

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    The First Night

    Tonight was my first night with the student ministry from 2|42 Community Church. We call the Sunday night gathering of Jr. and Sr. high students Elevate, and we meet from 7:07-8:30pm.

    It was a BLAST! We get to meet in this Fitness factory, so we have 2 basketball courts we can use and so much other space. We had a lot more kids than I thought we would, I think we had somewhere in the 30's, it was crazy fun.

    Some of you know this about me, but I have really worked hard the last couple of years at remembering kids names. My first 5-6 years in ministry, I was horrible with names and never could remember kids names. Then I started working at a church where we had hundreds of kids in our ministry and it drove me crazy that I didn't even know half of their names. So, I started reading everything I could on memory tips and memory games. 3-4 years of hard work, I can now memorize a kids name, what school they go to and their grade all in one night. So tonight in about 25 minutes of hang out time, I learned every kids name and started our program off by going around the room and introducing everybody to each other, it was fun and it only took a few minutes. It used to take forever, now it's pretty quick. It's almost like it's become a digital camera for me.

    So, tonight went well. I talked about 1 John 3:11, one of my favorite verses. We did some worship, some games and then we hung out, lot's of fun. It was sweet and I really enjoyed it. It was really fun sitting around before it started talking with a bunch of the guys, too much fun.

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    I am tired of dropping the ball

    As a parent, I am so tired of dropping the ball. I get so mad at myself sometimes when I think of my parenting. My kids deserve so much more and so many times I find myself too tired to play, or losing my patience to or quick to yell. My kids are stinkin terrific and I need to slow down and give them so much more of me. My parents are my role models when it comes to parenting, they were great, and I admire them greatly. My mom made everything special, even when they had no money, she made everything an event. My dad has the patience of the wind, I don't know what that means, but the man will just sit with my kids forever and play, they love it. I need to learn from them.

    I want to give these boys and my princess a childhood that they will remember for their lifetime. I need to give them my whole attention, I need to make play time the best part of the day and I need learn to discipline better. I need to spend more time praying with them and reading the bible together. These kids deserve it.

    I take things way too personally

    So, it's true! I don't know why I am wired the way I am, but I just take everything way too personally. I have always struggled with people pleasing, but my latest struggle even surprises myself. So, Project311 is hosting a youth workers lunch next week, March 10th to be exact. Our goal is to simply encourage youth workers and provide an environment where they can get great ideas, resources, spend some time with other folks who love students and stuff we pray that will bless their lives.

    I know everybody isn't going to come, but I am surprised how many youth workers just won't return my emails or calls. I know they are crazy busy, and emails from students, parents and church leaders take presendence over mine, but I surprised how many just don't return them. I don't know if it's just me, maybe I am marked. I don't want to be like some of the folks from Teen Mania who call and call and call. [Please note, I admire Teen Mania and did not mean to speak bad about them, but I just think they drive people crazy sometimes] Hopefully that's not me.

    I just dream of a community for youth workers where all of the Metro Detroit youth workers (volunteer, part, full, jr, sr, college) can come together quarterly or twice a year for idea sharing or training or encouragement. We haven't had that in our area for years and I am praying that we can get it going.

    I am going to work on not taking every thing so personally.

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Huh, how about that

    I got a couple of emails and a few calls from friends about being mentioned on Marko's blog, check it
  • out here
  • . So, that was cool. Marko is someone I very much respect and admire and he has been an incredible friend, mentor and advisor. Now after saying those things, don't think we talk everyday or anything like this..."Hey Marko...Hey Jason, I miss you, I miss you too". No, not that way at all. A couple of times he year he makes time to have lunch or dinner with me and he always answers my emails. And he has a super sweet pool, yeah, it's nice. It's cool, I know he's super busy and it's cool that he takes time to invest in young leaders. That's actually one of my biggest pet peeves about some leaders, they never seem to have time for young leaders, not Marko, he's great in continually investing in leaders. So, there you have it, my thoughts on Marko.

    242 Community Church

    I am the new Student Ministries Director at 242 Community Church in Brighton, MI. Check out their website 242 Community.

    It all kind of just happened, I don't know if there is any other way to describe it. Quick history: I have been a youth pastor for 11 years...some call me the "Larry Brown" of youth pastors, the fact is, I have been around... if you know what I mean. We started at our first church in 1995 at good old Covenant Community in Redford (I don't think they have a website), then we went to
  • Ward Presbyterian
  • (I was only their Sr.High Interim Director), then we headed north to
  • Shepherd Fellowship
  • in Waterford, then headed over to the
  • River Community Church
  • , then it was on to
  • NorthRidge
  • and now 242. I never wanted to become a youth pastor who stays 2 or 3 years then jets, but that's how it has worked out. It actually took me a long time to come to grips with that. For a long time I beat myself up, others did the same and I really felt like I let down God, the churches I worked for, the students, my family and the local woodland creatures. A mentor finally sat me down a couple of years ago and said, stop beating yourself up, there is nothing you can do about the past. He also said something that's stuck, God has created every one differently...some are creators, some are developers and some are managers. I am definately a creator/developer and that's what I do well. I love to dream big, get it going, build a team, and replace myself as a leader. So how did I come to 242?

    We left
    NorthRidge Church in June of 2005 to start
  • Project311 Ministries
  • , a non profit, support the church ministry. Our dream for P311 is that it will be a "practical help" for youth workers. That's one my huge passion areas and one of the things I love to do...Help. What does it mean to offer Practical Help? Well, P311 wants to help by providing teachers/speakers/worship teams for youth ministries, by connecting with and connecting youth workers to each other through lunches, gatherings, forums, and training events...and our dream is host some events for youth workers to bring their students to. We hosted a music festival last summer called Blitzfest (we had skillet, grits, john rueben, stellar kart, starfield, kids in the way, tait, pillar and about 60 other bands) and our dream someday is host a conference for Jr. high students called...OH SNAP. So, I started raising support and started teaching at camps, mission trips, retreats, churches, etc. About 4 months in, finances were tight and because we already started out in the hole (Blitzfest fell about 1000 people short of what we needed), the financial pressure was intense! I have never had headaches like that before, stomach problems, you name it, it was intense. God always provided for our needs but we started falling way behind and the financial pressure was crazy. On top of that, I have always taken for granted that the churches that I have worked for have provided my family medical insurance, I just took it for granted. I will never do that again. It is so expensive and we have a child with PKU and we can't be without insurance and making that payment every month has been incredibly difficult.

    So we started praying, and we really felt like we needed to find other employment. A position that would give us some financial stability, some flexiblity to love the local church and would allow us to do what we loved, work with students. But, we had a little struggle, because Project311 is just now started to build some momentum and we didn't want to call it quits on 311. So we prayed about finding a church that would be flexible with Project311. I also did some praying at that time about working in the "real world" and even applied to be the Detroit Tigers mascott, yeah, funny story. But I believe God called us to 2|42 and opened the door for us to be here. From the beginning it felt like a perfect fit, a great fit. When we first visited, Tracie and I just felt at home, our kids loved it, the worship was awesome, the teaching was out of this world and they just did everything so well. All for a church that just turned 1, yeah, how sweet is that! So, we did the interview process and they offered and now I have started. My prayer is that we can build a healthy Student Ministry and it will give Project311 some credibility because we are in the trenches of day to day youth ministry. I pray that I will give everything I have to 242 and build a healthy ministry. So, there it is. My next post I want to talk about my some ways I would like to start this ministry and some commitments I have made to make sure that is a healthy ministy and that Project311 would never be a hinderance to 242.

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    My ibook is Back!

    Yeah, I will shout from the roof tops, I will run down the street barely clothed, I will run with the dogs in Tijuana, why you ask?

    My laptop is back!! I feel like my life came to a screeching halt the last couple of weeks without it. Well, now I just have to figure out how to get everything back on it, my database, and all that jazz.