Saturday, October 23, 2004

Getting An Ulcer

Jasper Speaks:

So as you look at the date and time of these entries you may be wondering how a poor Cardinals fan trapped in New England can be blogging during game one of the World Series. I am the least competative person you will ever meet. But this post-season in baseball is giving me high blood pressure that could induce a stroke. I guess I just care way too much about the outcome. I spend most of my time in the chair with my eyes closed and a horrible burning in my stomach.

So tonight, as the game started getting too intense for me, I got up and came to check email. I never returned. My wife is watching the game and giving me commentary but the Cardinals seem to do better without me watching and my stomach is better without hearing the game as well. Right now the Cards have blown their tie and the Dead Sox are ahead 9-7 again. If I was in viewing and good hearing distance, I would need a Pepto Bismol smoothie to make it through the rest of the night. So, I am escaping by retreating to our home office and trying to not listen too closely to the game playing in the other room.
Quote For Today:

Jonathan Edwards Speaks:

"Grace is but Glory begun, and Glory is but Grace perfected."

Jasper Speaks:

God's grace never ceases to amaze me. I look at my own life and how little grace I can show sometimes. The things that are offenses against me as so small in comparison to the things I have hurt God by doing or not doing. I have thought a lot about grace being getting what we don't deserve as well as not getting what we do. I have benefited in both areas. Still, I am nowhere near at a place where I can understand God's incredible grace in my own life. I know I will never be able to fully grasp it. However, I am so deeply appreciative of His love and the grace He gives in every situation n my life.
Useless Fact For October 23

The Fact Speaks:

Minus 40 degrees Celsius is exactly minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the only temperature for which the readings on both scales are equal.

Jasper Speaks:

Any way you look at it, that is just down right COLD!
When Adults Are Annoying: Word Of Life Superbowl 2004

Jasper Speaks:

So, Friday night was the Word of Life Superbowl. For those of you who are not familliar with this event, it is an all night party of sorts. It starts with attending a hockey game. After the game there are about two hours of games and giveaways along with a 15 minute gospel presentation. Then youth groups spend half the night bowling or roller skating and the other half in an open gym with extreme games and basketball, soccer, volleyball and video games. This is an event our church has been involved in attending for thirty years or so.

Our church doesn't own it's own transportation so it is a logistical challenge to get people to donate vans for us. It is also not a lot of fun to organize drivers and where kids will ride for the night. But I have accepted it as a once a year event that is successful in meeting the purpose of fellowship. It is genrally one of the highest attended events we do all year.

So, last night was the event for 2004. I have some observations I would like to share. I am always a little bored during the hockey game. I have mild A.D.D and watching the little puck is a bit of a challenge when there are all the signs to read in the stadium. Anyway, the Portland Pirates won in sudden death overtime so I guess that is cool. Then the time for the giveaways began.

This was a frustrating time for me. As I sat amongst the attendees, I was amazed at the number of adults who were intent on getting the giveaways for themselves. A fifty-ish year old man pushed one of my 15 year old girls out of the way to grab a ball thrown into the crowd. Another guy about my age fell into another girl in my group about five times diving for stuff. Maybe I am old school but I thought the giveaways were for the kids not us.

The organization of this event is a frustation for me as well. They just drag stuff out a lot and no one ever really seems to know what is going on. Last night each vehicle was informed as we entered the attached parking garage that it would close at midnight and the last car had to be out by 12:45 or it would be locked in for the night. So having about ten vehicles full of kids, I felt it was important to keep my eye on the clock. We were told that our group would be eating at the stadium other than our first activity stop (which is not how it usually works). The giveawy time did not end until about 11:50. When we went to the room where the pizza was being served, the food was not out and ready and there were no staffers around. After about another 15 minutes or so, the pizza was put out and the event director pulled in two of my leaders to serve drinks. With the closing of the parking lot looming, our kids grabbed their pizza and inhaled it and we took off to the bowling alley.

When we arrived, the place was packed. It was smoky and there were several inibriated people inside. We were told by the staff of the bowling alley that we would not be allowed in until they closed at 1AM and they had time to cash everyone inside out and vaccuum out the smoke. Now while I was happy they were going to vaccuum out the place, I could not understand why Word of Life would send us to a place where the lanes didn't close to the general public until 1:00AM. There were about five churches and 200 students waiting out in the 30 degree weather to go inside. We were there about 45 minutes before they let us in.

Once in we did have a great time. I bowled with a couple of students and hit an all time high of 85. I am thinking of turning pro. We usually go "candle pin" bowling. It is a style that is unique to the New England area. You get three small balls and the pins are tall and thin like a candlestick. Last night was the first time we bowled with full size balls and pins. It was the first time a lot of our students had ever bowled like the rest of the world. We really did have a good time.

The open gym was fun for the kids. I got some fun pictures of them on extreme games. Also, my students and volunteers did an old guy/young guy basketball game and it was fun to see my 30-50 year old leaders put the smack down on some mouthy teens! LOL!

In the end, I had a great, fun van of guys and had a pretty good time. I had to wait for the always can be counted on late parent at the church for about 45 minutes. I stayed a bit longer talking to my friend Bob. So I didn't get home until after 7:00 and just crashed. This is an event I am glad only comes once a year!

Friday, October 22, 2004

A Review of Max Q by Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall

Jasper Speaks:

Okay, let me start off by saying The Seven Checkpoints is one of the best books I have ever read about youth ministry. I used the concepts and ideas all the time. I read that book in about three days and gleaned so much from it. So, I was very excited to start reading Max Q. At first, because of a mishap with a not so bright phone operator at Harvest, I received the Student Journal in the mail. I leafed through it but didn't take a lot of time with it. Then finally my leader's hardback copy arrived from Amazon.

The concept of the book is that our students are at critical mass everyday in their world. They are under huge pressure all the time. We need to prepare them for the world. We need to help them understand how they can be people of influence to the world around them. The book speaks of how our students can be the light in the dark world of their schools and work places.

I agree completely with the theory of this book. I believe that our youth ministries need to be preparing our students for the opportunity to affect the real world. I think one of the hardest parts of being a Youth Pastor at my current church is that we have such a large home schooled group of teens (51% of our total group are home schooled) that they just don't know any non-Christians. I have heard that come from them every time we speak about evangelism. That concept makes me sad. It is as though the parents in our congregation, in an effort to shield their children from evil, have removed them as influencers in the world. This book encourages wisely handled friendships with non-Christians. It presupposes that if we have prepared our students for the "real world" then they can become influences on their non-believing peers.

There is caution given by the authors that students need to be careful to be sure they are always doing the influencing. It also encourages us as leaders to remind students of grace if they fail. I think Stanley and Hall are right on in their assessment of the need for Christian students to be making a lasting impact on the spiritual life of their friends.

Where I think the book is weak is in the area of how that works out practically. I think that time and time again they go back to the point that students should be doing this without offering situations where they can actually be living out this concept. It gives some hows but I think in all it had to say, the book of about 225 pages was way too long. I found it very repetitive. Again, I agree with the concepts but felt like they offered me a challenge without helping me to see how to obtain the goal.

I have discussed the concepts of the book with my Senior High Guys Small Group and we agree the need is there. I have encouraged them to be on their toes and remember they are always representing Christ. The book was a great reminder of that concept. I just wish it would have spent less time on proving the need for such relationships and more time on how I can help my students live that life out in a practical way.


Jasper Speaks:

So, everyone seems to be thinking and talking about the Dead Sox and their amazing rise to the World Series. I, however, am much more happy that the Cardinals have made it back to the Big Dance! The sad part is I have to keep a low profile here in New England. The New England fans are mean spirited and pretty big jerks. That includes most of the Christian fans I know.

So, I have decided that my stock answer to people when they try and talk trash (and I say when NOT if) will be, "Wow, I am so excited for you that the Red Sox made it to the World Series". So far that has stumped these trash talkers and they are stumped because I will not argue with them. I am very convinced that these people are incapable of enjoying the game of baseball without being evil, so my kindness throws them off and they kind of make that confused sound the Scooby Doo makes when he doesn't understand something. I started a thread on the Youth Specialties Forums when the ALCS started. It only proves that Boston fans are completely clueless in their annoyance. You can check out the thread by clicking here.

The best part of this is that I will be in St. Louis whenever the deciding game happens. We leave on Wednesday (Game 4 day) and return on Monday after the whole series is over. I don't even want to go to church on Sunday because I am going to be bombarded by a lot of mean people. But Monday is my day off and Tuesday I will go into the office for a few minutes or so and then have my small group. Small group should be okay because most of the guys either don't care about baseball or are Yankees fans and they will be on my side.