Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

Here I am preaching in "big church".

Live video chat by Ustream

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

I got this sent to me by a friend so in honor of the season:

Reasons why Santa was once probably a Youth Pastor

1. His office is hard to find.

2. He is fashion challenged.

3. He assumes any and all snacks he finds are his to eat.

4. He has no adult workers.

5. He is only seen on rare occasions.

6. No one seems to know who he reports to.

7. He laughs way too much.

8. He is nobody's definition of a physical specimen.

9. He is always trying crazy stunts like climbing down a chimney.

10. No one seems to know what he does during the week.

11. He does an impossible job with no visible means of support.

12. Kids love him.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

I hate snow and icce. Today we had a very little bit of snow and an above average bit of ice. I really, truly hate this time of year. It is not even that I mind the cold, it is the sloppy, stupid weather. I hate that the frost, ice and/or snow slow me down. I hate slick roads and sidewalks. I just hate it all.

I read a pretty disturbing note on Facebook today. It was posted by one of the kids I used to teach. It was basically a suicide note. I feel so helpless. I don't have a way to intervene. I have tried to write him. I pray that God will move in his heart. If you have a moment, please lift him up to the Father. One of the most telling parts of the note was his accusation of the young people in his life who claim to be Christians. He attributes his final dissapation of his belief in God on how hypocritcal the Christian teens in his life have been. He does cite some specifics that make me think about my current kids in the youth group. As much as I want to think they are living out their faith when they leave the church, this note reminds me that there really can be the chance that the students are not necessarily being the best representation of Christ to their world. I am praying for this kid. I sent some information to someone who may be able to help. I pray it is not too late.

So, as you can see in the sidebar, I am reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It is really messing me up --- in a good way. It is so convicting. So far I am very impressed. Maybe the best book I have read in years. I will hold off on a full review until I am finished. I should be done soon. Crazy Love is making me wonder even about how well I am doing at living all this out. Am I lukewarm? Do I live out the greatness of God to those around me or am I poser?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

So I FINALLY finished Washed By Blood By Brian"Head" Welch. It was a good book over all. It was a simple read (which is why I am ashamed that it took me two months to get through the 200 pages). Throughout the book Welch is candid and up front about his struggles and what led him to Christ. It is an interesting story of God bringing an "impossible" person into the Kingdom. It was interesting to read about the people and situations that brought Welch to a realization that he needed a savior. Discussing people from his childhood right through his years in Korn, Welch reminds us how God brings people into our lives for His purpose.

I found it refreshing that Welch steered clear of going into too much detail about life on the road with Korn. His restraint was perfect. We got the facts without all the details. His honesty about continued struggles was also well articulated.

I would have a hard time giving the book to a young Christian student because of the turn it takes in the latter chapters. It is in these chapters when Welch discovers "Pentecostals" and so some of the theology would raise questions that I am not sure a young Christian could tackle. I would not be hesitant to open up those discussions but I would want to be prepared for questions particularly about tongues and visions as a result of their reading the book.

In the end the book is a chronicle of redemption. It is about trying to fill the God shaped hole in our hearts with everything but Him and how the emptiness remains. It is about how a loving God can change anyone. It is an easy read and one of encouragement (*** out of *****).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

On the wall on my office is a poster from Uth Stuph that has the many faces of Youth Ministry. It is a guy who makes all these different faces and underneath the pictures are sayings that correlate with the looks and have to do with my line of work. It is pretty funny. There is one that says "Sure I cleaned out and refilled the van" and one that says, "I think it was the Children's Pastor". They all crack me up.

Tonight the one I am pondering is, "Tables and chairs, how is THAT Youth Ministry?". I am tired of the Youth Minsitry in churches being the place where everyone assumes all the grunt work comes from. It isn;t that I think that we shouldn't be minsitering in our congregation. I understand that ours is a ministry of the young and healthy. We should be available to meet needs of our fellow church members. But why is it that when leaf raking, babysitting, carrying things and other storts of manual labor come up we are usually the ONLY option?

I think I am having a particulary hard time with this because tomorrow we are doing an event I really don't want to do. It is one I feel like we were somewhat backed into doing. Sure we will make a minnimal amount of money but the time and effort don't equal the outcome. Also, when these events happen (at least the ones like we will do tomorrow night) we have a VERY small turnout of our adult staff. I am not happy about tomorrow. I hope this will be the last time we do this particular kind of event --- at least for a really long time.

So there is my gripe. I guess that I will just suck it up. Grrr... I can always pray for an attitude adjustment. UG!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

I cannot believe that this year is almost over. Tonight was our last Reality Check of the year. Next week is our Christmas Party. It has been a good year. I think the kids have really been growing. We have seen kids saved. In this year I have gone from being a part-time interim Youth Pastor to a full-time Youth Pastor again. I have loved being back in the full-time game. I love affecting lives for Jesus. I love the flexible schedule. I love that Kendra has been able to stay at home. God has been so great to us.

I miss my mom today. My family is having struggles. She would not approve. I miss hearing her voice. I miss talking to her. I wish I could just have another conversation with her. I mean I know all the right answers. She is in Heaven. She is without pain. We will be together again. Still, I have an ache inside that is full of missing her. I cannot believe it has been nearly eleven months since she passed away.

I am not trying to be a downer here. Life is good. I have a beautiful wife. I have the greatest kid in the world. I have a dad who loves Jesus and me. I have a sister who is my best friend. I have another sister who is so tenderhearted it almost hurts. I have nieces and nephews who are funny and good to be around. I have many, many friends. God is so good to me.

I am rejoicing that God has a plan. Trusting in the plan. I am ready to shout about Christmas as I am full of excitement, treasuring all that He has done for me in my heart, ready to tell others and ready to live the call.

So, yes, I am a bit manic depressive these days. But I know God is good and I have joy in that.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

From journalling through Breathe: Devotions for the Youth Workers Soul

Devotion Day #1:

Scripture: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

What is a creative dream you have but don't think is possible?

I have several. I would love to write a great book of Christian fiction. I would love to write and act in a major motion picture. I would love to write, act and sing in a moving musical.

Where, in your life and your ministry, does it excite you to be creative?

Almost everywhere. I learned when I had drone jobs that the thing I missed most was creating. I love putting together events in our ministry. I love to design graphics for work and home. I love to think and write about creative things.

Where, in your life and your ministry, is it challenging to be creative?

Also in a lot of places. If I am tired, I don't create all that well. I can have a difficult time creating things in my life when I am easily distracted. Oddly enough, sometimes it is harder to be creative if I have a longer amount of time to do it. I guess that is all from my lack of discipline.
Jasper Speaks:

Consider yourself tagged.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 16 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 16 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. I am ABSOLUTELY nothing without Jesus. Nothing.

2. I really wish my life were a musical.

3. My wife and kid are the most important people in my life ... I fear something happening to them.

4. I like chicken livers. Fried. MMMMMM.

5. I have a man crush on Doug Fields and even I think it's kinda creepy

6. I am a pretty insecure guy, I crave validation and that stinks.

7. I miss my mom. Everyday, A lot. Really, a lot.

8. I love teenagers. Working with them makes me feel right.

9. I want to be skinny or muscular or both ... if that is possible.

10. I want to write a book and get it published before I die.

11. Perhaps one of the sweetest sounds I have ever heard is "Thank you daddy!"

12. Kendra is so much more than I deserve in a wife. I REALLY married up,

13. I think Thanksgiving without turkey is not Thanksgiving at all.

14. I wish I was a good singer. I envy people that can sing. I like to think I can in my head but in my heart I know I can't.

15. I can't narrow down a favorite movie. I kind of like chick flicks and I hate to admit it. I can quote Steel Magnolias from beginning to end with the sound off but I think Rat Race is the funniest movie ever made.

16. A Seth Green movie changed my life. Seriously.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I updated! WOW! It has been busy. We had a marginal good time in Nashville for NYWC. It jsut is pretty much the same every year and I think I may be getting over it. I am searching for a new conference for next year so if you know of one let me know.

Thanksgiving was good and mostly drama free which is also good. We went to my sister Darla's on Thanksgiving day and then traveled to Podunk to be with Kendra's family on Friday and stayed through Sunday.

We have started Christmas shopping. With Kendra staying at home, we are cutting corners a lot. I am so busy preparing for Christmas and post Christmas student events. Yikes! The year has flown by!

My absolute favorite Christmas flick is A Charlie Brown Christmas. Every year I look forward to watching it. It is such a simple story. A boy who feels like no one likes him is on a quest to remind people that Christmas is important. Along the way he is overwhelmed by the commercialization of the holiday and in his frustrations he shouts, “Doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is all about?!?”. His best friend Linus steps out onto the stage and quotes from Luke 2:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lordcame upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Linus walks off stage and says, “That’s what Christmas is all about!” As I sat watching the cartoon this year, I could hear my mother’s voice in my head shout, “Praise the Lord”. She was impressed every year that the simple, profound, life changing Christmas story was shared in homes across America through this beautiful children’s Christmas program. I always loved A Charlie Brown Christmas but as I have gotten older I have learned to appreciate it more. It is a reminder in a crazy season that the heart of Christmas is still the story of God becoming man. God became one of us so that He might save us. The cradle in the stable is overshadowed by the cross on the hill. The baby, sweet and mild, would one day die for me. He would lay down his life for me, even though I didn’t deserve it. He took the fall and thought of me. The entire act of salvation could no be without Christmas. I love that our media has not yet find a way to silence Linus’ words of truth from God’s love story to us. I hope you take some time and think about how important Christmas is this season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

I am leaving tomorrow for the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville. This has kind of sneaked up on me. I must admit that I am a bit leary of going. The last time that I left town I had a lot of cleaning up to do when I got back. Drama. It is so much of what Student Ministry can be from time to time.

I am looking forward to seeing several people. My friend Scott who I haven't seen in almost twenty years is supposed to meet us for lunch while we are there. I will see my friend Brian who lives in Nashville at the convention. Allison, one of our college kids, is taking care of Jackson some while we are there. On our way home we are planning on lunch with my cousin Tom and his wife. So, it will be great to be at the convention and even nicer to reconnect with so many people.

When the convention is over I am taking time off to get in a bit more of vacation in for the year before it ends. It will be nice. I will spend time with the family. Thanksgiving may be stressful with my family this year. Christmas will be packed with drama! So fun!

I think the convention will be good. It should be a nice time to get away and learn and network. So here we go!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

Admittedly stolen from My friend Matthew's blog but too good not to post:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

It has been a frustrating half a week or so. Some things went down on Friday that mad me upset and we have not totally bounced back. I feel better today than I have all week so maybe I am getting through at least letting the junk mess with my attitude.

One of the things has to do with a parent who came to my office on Monday and we had a "hearty" discussion about when it is appropriate for Young Adults to move on from the Student Ministry. It was his opinion that anyone who wishes to stay beyond twelfth grade should be allowed to have full participation as a student in the ministry until they are comfortable with moving on to other areas.

This was a new argument for me. I have had people question why a young adult cannot be a leader in the ministry in the year directly following their high school graduation. I had never before had someone feel that I need to let a young adult just remain in the ministry as long as they wish as a student. We spoke (sometimes loudly) for about fifteen minutes.

So I have spent some time asking other Youth Pastors about their policies about this. I find that for the most part ministies always ask students to take this "sabbatical" year. You may or may not be in ministry but if you have an opinion on this, add a comment. I would like to know what you think.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Jasper Speechless:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

One LAST political post here today. I want to go on record to say that I am saddened with the outcome of the election (which surprises no one I am sure). Still, there is one GIANT good thing I see. I think America has broken through a HUGE barrier by electing a bi-racial man to the office of President. When I woke Jackson up this morning I held him close and said, "You will never know life where there has been no man of color as the President of the United States". I pray that this will open doors for my child. I pray that he will not be held back by small minded people.

Do I wish this breakthrough would have come from another person? Probably. However, I do understand the significance of this moment in our country. I can really say to my son today, "you can be ANYTHING you want to be". That is a great thing that has come from this.

I am done being political (for now) .

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

Tracy you inspired me. Although, I disagree with your choice, I admire what you wrote in your letter to Joey. Although I haven't had many political discussions with my two year old, here is a similar letter I would like to leave to Jackson.

Dear Son,

I voted this morning. This year has not been the most compelled a candidate ever made me feel but I do believe I made the right choice. It may turn out not to agree with the popular vote of my fellow Americans but I do believe that my conscience couldn't let me vote otherwise.

Although my vote for the McCain/Palin ticket was not completely heartfelt, let me explain why I chose what I did. First and foremost, I believe that character is extremely important. I think many Americans have lost the idea that character isn't something that can be overlooked. For years now our leaders have not been men and women of integrity. Most often they seem to be self loving and greedy. It is frustrating that we have come to expect the worst in our leaders.

I look at John McCain and I see a man who has displayed high moral character in so many situations --- not only his great resolve while a Prisoner of War. Although I don't agree with all he did as a senator, I do respect that he has stood up for his beliefs no matter what the political tide. He has consistently been a man of his word. He is an American hero. He is strong and proven. He understands that we cannot just give up on things, even if they become unpopular. He knows that once we have begun something, we have to finish it. He understands that what is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right. Has he had missteps, absolutely. Has he stood unyielding for what he believed no matter what popular opinion would sway him away from doing? I believe so. He has had years to experience things like foreign policy and economic issues and has stayed true to his character throughout those times.

His opponent has not in my opinion, displayed the character that I long to see. His associations with questionable ideologies and people of questionable character themselves, makes me hesitant. His meteoric rise to power leaves my soul unsettled. His lack of genuine experience leaves me haunted by the idea that he could soon be the leader of the free world. I cannot get on board with "change" for change sake. It has to be the right change.

Jackson, you were a beautiful gift to your mom and I. I didn't know the person who birthed you. I do, however, know the one who gave you life. I know many will not agree with me, but for me, life is the most important issue. I often think about the importance of life as I look into your big, brown eyes. I consider the sanctity of human life as I hear the giggles come out of your mouth. More than once I have said, "Thank God, your birth mother chose to keep you". Your life has added so much to mine.

I have been saddened to hear people compare aborting pre-born children to death in war. The comparison is fallacious. Are innocent people killed in war? Yes. Is the primary goal of war to kill the innocent? No. The sole and primary purpose of abortion on demand is to end life. Therein lies the difference between the two. I believe that difference is monumental. This is a heated and difficult issue but there simply is no logical comparison between death in war and the calculated taking of a life for "convenience". I believe Senator McCain (and even more so Governor Palin) would fight for life with this in mind. Their opponents have said that they would not want their children "punished" with a baby. I think the difference in thinking is between blessing and punishment and that the value of life is spoken in those terms. Maybe I am sensitive to this because of our lack of being able to conceive and the true blessing your life is to me everyday. I cannot understand how anyone could call a child punishment.

Many people say that this issue is not pertinent to the political process. That it is a moral argument. Still, I believe that God would have His people take stands for our beliefs. I think time after time in his Word people were called on to do this very thing. Often in Scripture it happened. There are many times when God called His people to voice their opposition a political ideology. Think about Esther, Moses, Daniel and Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, just to name a few. They stood up to the political leaders in their time fighting for moral issues in a very public stage. Each of these stands changed the politics of their time.

Because of these examples, I was compelled to vote the way I did. Can I stop abortion on demand in this country? Perhaps not. Still, I believe God is calling us to stand up to the status quo. He is calling us to say that there are some things that we have to fight to preserve. Just because the enemy has won this battle in the past does not mean we should give up and sit on the sidelines. Although, I doubt in my lifetime we could ever go back to become a legally abortion free nation, I do believe that God can and has done the impossible. He could again if He willed. My faith is not dependent on what I think will be God's reaction but on what I believe is consistent to His will.

Character and life are the two things that led me to vote the way that I did. Were there other "issues" that I considered? Yes. They were more secondary to my conscience and truthfully, I am not sure that either candidate articulated an argument for how they would "fix" them to make them any more important to me.

I believe that the vote I made today was for your future. I feel that the McCain/Palin ticket was the best choice to help you understand what character is all about and what your mom and I believe to be one of the most important stands for a Christian to take. I long to be an example of a Godly man and an informed citizen for you.

I wanted you to respect that character and life still mean a great deal to me. Others may disagree with whom I have chosen to believe best represents those things but I must follow my convictions. I have to follow the strong sense within me that this choice is right. Let me say, God is in control. He knew before time began how this election would come out. I pray that as you grow into a fine young American and the man of God I pray daily that you can be, that your dad's stand for character and life will be something you remember and respect.

The best part of America is that we have a choice. I respect others for their choice even if I don't understand them. I pray that you will respect opposing viewpoints as well as you grow up. I made this choice because I care about today and tomorrow. For me and for you.

Jasper Speaks:

I was pleasantly surprised to read this article:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

It has been awhile, so here is a mindless Get to Know You:

Where is the pers n you gave your heart to for the first time?
Lives in South City St. Louis with a hubby and two kids. Good for her!

What were you doing at ten last night ?
Watching Gray's Anatomy with Kendra

What was the last thing you drank ?

What' s going on between you and the last person you kissed?
He's my son and he kissed me good morning

What' s something you really want right now, be honest?
McCain/Palin to win the election

Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
Wednesday night just before my message at the RC

Anything annoying you right now?
Teenagers making bad choices

Who was the last person to make you cry?
My dad but not in a bad way.

Anybody you' re looking forward to seeing soon?
Kendra and Jackson when I get home tonight.

Are you going anywhere for the next summer?
Raleigh for Mission Trip and Bolivar for Super Summer. Summers are the busy season.

Who was the last person you hugged?

Who was the last person in your room?

Did you have a dream last night ?
Yes. It was bad. I hate confrontation. I hate dreaming about my struggles. It was both. UG!

How many piercings do you have?

Have any tattoos?
Tattoos are gross. They just get wrinkly and faded when you get old and I am too close to old to bother with them. Maybe I could get hair tattooed on my head.

Are you good at giving directions ?
I can tell people where to go ...

Last time you cried really, really hard?
I am a guy, you so are not going to get this answer out of me.

What is your favorite thing to eat with peanut butter?

Could you go out in public looking like you do now?
How else would I look?

Have you ever made someone so mad that they broke something?
Not that I know of.

What is your favorite color ?

Do you think your last ex deserves to die?
Uh .. that is harsh.

When was the last time you saw your Grandpa?
1975 when he was in a casket.

Do you know anyone with cancer?
Yes a little girl who is supposed to have a brain tumor removed today but it seems the surgery has been rescheduled. I think she is four. Man this is a depressing survey!

Who was the last person you talked to in person?
Ken Litton, Minister of Music and Senior Adults, Parkway Baptist Church

Do you think you can last in a relationship for 3 months?
Uh I have been married 9 1/2 years so uh, I think so.

What is the last text in your inbox ?
Kevin saying he would help me move furniture today.

Have you lost friends in the past 3 years ?

Do you talk about your feelings or hide them?
I don't want to talk about that, thanks.

Do you think someone is thinking about you right now?
I am paranoid, so someone is always thinking about me.

Are you excited for anything to happen in the next 6 months?
Kendra quitting her job. Jackson was extra cranky about going to daycare today.

What should you be doing right now?
Printing Sunday School Lessons.

Do you believe in true love?

Do you miss your past?
To quote Pumbah, "You've got to leave your past in your behind". But I do miss my mom. UG! This is like the most depressing survey ever! I would stop but I think I am committed now! And BTW there is a song playing in my office right now that was sung at my Mom's funeral (and that is following me skipping the one that was playing in her room when she died that came on two songs ago)! GIVE ME SOME PROZAC!

Do you think that your ex still likes you?
DO I care?

Has a person of the opposite sex seen you in your underwear?
Uh ... yeah

If you could go back 3 months from now would you change anything?
Yes I would .

Where 's the last place you went?
Church. I am still here.

Are you looking forward to something as of right now?
This never ending survey ending!

What color are your eyes?

At the moment, are you more warm or cold?
Just right.

What are you listening to?
The death music has ended and now I am listening to Beautiful Like This by Josh Wilson

Do you prefer an ocean or pool?
My shower.

How long is your hair?
Oh survey thou art cruel!

Last thing you ate?
A big yummy brownie. Screw the diet!

Are you a bad influence?
I wish I had influence. One of the things I am down about is my apparent lack of influence.

Would you share a drink with a stranger?
Probably not, unless he had his own glass.

Can you easily tell if someone is fake?
Yes, it is a gift. But Tracy is blank.

Looking back did you ever waste too much time on a certain boy or girl?

What' s your favorite card game?

Know anyone who' s been drunk recently?

Do you enjoy drama ?
Fake ones, like a play, yes. Real ones, like teenagers, no.

How many months until your birthday?

Where is your number one right now?

Do you believe every one deserves a second chance?
Yes. But some people want 47th and 49th chances and I am not so sure about that.

Last three people you texted?
Kevin, Kendra and Garrett

What are you doing tonight?
Fall Festival at church

Is smoking one of your turn offs?

What' s the last kind of soup you ate?
Uh ... this is probably the dumbest question I have ever seen on one of these. Black bean.

What kind of dog do you want?

Do you currently have a sunburn?
Uh ... It's Halloween in Missouri. What do you think?

Could you eat nothing but grilled cheese for a week straight?
Probably. I mean I have nothing against grilled cheese.

What color was the last drink you consumed?
Okay so I renig. This is the dumbest question I have ever seen!

Would you rather shave your head or dye your hair bright orange?
Thanks for continually reminding that I am bald!

Could you last an hour without talking?
Without a doubt. Haven't you ever gone to a movie?

Has anyone told you they missed you lately?

Are you a Hollister/Abercrombie kind of person?
Okay so the question get more and more stupid!

Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?
I would like to pierce the heart of whoever came up with this survey.

How many hours of sleep did you get last night ?

What makeup do you wear on a daily basis ?

What curse word do you use the most?
The one that I am thinking about this survey right now.

Do you own an ipod?
Yes and am using it at the moment.

Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture?
Be in it. I am vain.

Has anyone ever called you lazy?
Yes. And if I wasn't such a slug I would have fought them about it.

Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep faster?
Mmmm ... Nyquil.

Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?

Can you whistle?

How big is your local mall?
Uh ... big I guess.

Are you currently wearing glasses?

Have you ever had Jamba Juice ?

Do you own any band t-shirts?
Only a REALLY old DC Talk T from the Free At Last Tour

How many aunts and uncle s do you have?

Do you crack your knuckles?

What is your favorite salad dressing?
Blue Cheese

Do you read for fun?

Can you speak any languages other than English?
I taught English to American HS kids--- it was a foreign language to most of my students.

Where is your cell phone ?
My left pocket

What color is your bedroom painted?

Are your parents divorced?
No just one of them is dead. Thanks for making my day EVEN MORE CHEERY!

What do you like to snack on at the movie theatres?
Popcorn with Milk Duds added.

Have you ever dated someone out of your race?
Dated, no. Liked a lot in that special way, yes. Opposed to interracial dating, absolutely not.

What was/is your favorite class in high school?
Theater. I went to gay high.

If you were born the opposite sex, what would your name have been?
Marcia Vahntee

Were you a " planned" child ?
I was the oops heard 'round the world.

How old will you be turning on your next birthday?

Ever eaten an entire thing of frosting?

Have you read To Kill A Mockingbird?
Read it. Taught it. Seen the movie. Killed the Mockingbird. Lied about killing it. Blamed someone else after he cut up my chiffarobe.

What instrument would you like to learn?
Nose flute

Were you ever a safety patrol in elementary school?
For like a week. It was a bloody week of death and destruction at Clay Elementary.

Do you like dodge ball?
I dunno.

Ever order anything from the tv?
I love HSN.

Can you write with both hands ?

Do you get cold sores a lot?
Not as bad as I used to.

Chapstick or lipgloss?
Bleeding lips! I am a DUDE!

Last time you got poison ivy?
I grew up in the city. There is not poison Ivy in the ghetto.

UG! I am finally through! You owe me to take it too!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

Do you ever feel like living the Christian life is just plain hard? I would say that if you have never felt that way, you are not REALLY living out your faith.

The truth is living the Christian life isn’t hard ---it is IMPOSSIBLE! We can’t do it on our own. We have to stop working and striving to do things and let Jesus live the life for us. A verse that sticks out to me when I think about this is Galatians 2:20. It says: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. Not only do I think that this verse tells us to live a life that is surrendered to God’s plan and not our own, I think it tells us to let God take care of everything in our lives. I think it tells us to lean on God during times that are hard.

How do we do that? Everyday you face challenges and you have to react to them. Maybe your friends or family don’t understand your faith. Maybe you are going through a time of loneliness. Maybe you feel like there is so much going on in your life that you can not keep up. Maybe you just feel like the day to day struggles in your life are too much to bear. Let Christ do the living then.

I think the first thing you need to do in order to let Christ do the living is give yourself a relationship check up. Think about your relationship with Christ.

How vital is it? Are you really taking time to spend in His word? Are you communicating with Him about your life regularly? Are you living out the life that the Bible requires of you?

Spending time with God is essential to letting Him live for you. Reading His word (the Bible) is a daily reminder of all He has done for us and the promises

He makes to us. I love the passage in The Message version of the Bible in Lamentations 3 that says, “I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!” DON”T OVER LOOK THE LITTLE WORDS! NEW EVERY MORNING! So, each day you can sit down with God’s Word and find new things that will remind you that God is in control and wants to live the life for you!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says simply, “Pray continually”. Being in communication with God throughout your day will greatly increase your ability to let Him do the living for you. If you are approaching a difficult time, pray. Sounds simple but it is amazing the way God can change your attitude or give you courage if you just take a moment and ask Him to help. Prayer is vital in the struggle to let go and let God live for you.

Finally, how you live out your life everyday is essential in the battle to let God live for you. In short --- practice what you preach. St. Francis of Assisi may have stated this best when he said, “Preach the gospel everywhere. Use words when necessary”. Put action to what you believe. Stand firm in your commitments. It may not always be easy but step three is made more simple when you have step one (Spending time with God) and Step Two (prayer) down.

Hard times will come and for many of us, they are here everyday. Still, God says, “Don’t sweat it. Let me take control”. This week I am praying that you would let God do that in your life!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

So, as I sit in my office this morning I am thinking about mortality. Maybe part of it is because I have turned 39 this week. I had a very nice birthday. Even though it was a Wednesday and very busy, I had lunch with my favorite sister, got gift from my wife I really wanted and the kids showered me with love at Reality Check. Still, 39 is kissing my 40s. That seems SO OLD. I can remember being a kid and thinking that I would be 30 in the year 2000 and thinking that was ancient. Now I am nearly a decade beyond that.

Then today I got a phone call from my brother. His best friend's 38 year old son died suddenly last night. Mortality. It makes you think about what you are contributing to the world. If today is my last day am I leaving a legacy behind? I look at my wife. Am I loving her so much that I am truly earning my place as the love of her life? Am I loving my son as he deserves? Am I teaching him to be a godly man even at his young age? Am I the son and brother that is leaving his mark? Am I the pastor that is leading in such a way that my ministry will survive long after my life has ended?

Even now, my iPod is playing Elijah by Rich Mullins. I want to go out like that. I want to leave in a chariot of fire that is consumed with the relationship I have with God. I want to be so ready to go that I just shut my eyes in this world and trust God to usher me into the next.

Mortality. It is something we all will have to face head on at some point. I pray that I am doing all I can to make the most of my life. I pray that I am somehow, in my unworthiness, striving for a life worthy of God's grace for today.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

One of the perks of being a Youth Pastor is that you get to spend time supporting kids. I love going to Aaron's football games. His team is not so great but he is so eager to play. I love to sit on the sidelines waiting for #61 to get put in. I enjoy hanging out with the High School Senior and College Freshman from our church who go with me to watch. Yesterday I sat with Aaron's dad and grandpa as well.

I am not the football expert by any means. The only sport we really watched in my family was baseball. Still, I love the smell of the stadium. The bad cheerleaders are funny. The traditions of the fans are great to watch as well.

Still, for me, the best part is I get to be there to cheer on one of "my kids". I love being an encourager. I love supporting my kids. I love that I have a job that PAYS me to do that. I think of how encouraging it is for me to know that God is watching and supporting me. That in the games I am playing everyday, He is not only on the sidelines cheering but, if I am living the way I should, He is calling the plays as well. I am certainly not His star player but I am in the game everyday and looking at Him for guidance on what to do.

I am really appreciating this first year back in full-time ministry. God is blessing me beyond my imagination and I am excited to see all He still will do. Sometimes I sense His blessing in something as simple as watching a JV football game and realizing that it is God's incredible grace that has me cheering from the bleachers that day.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

God is really moving in our ministry right now. Since the beginning of the school year we have been having a lot of guests. Like tonight, we had about ten visitors and they are all seekers. I am finding that I need to clearly share the gospel every week. Tonight especially I felt compelled to outline the plan of salvation. Then we had a kid ask a great question about baptism that really seemed to get people thinking. It is amazing what God can do when we are forced off script and let Him guide the message on the spot. Although I wouldn't recommend this on a regular basis, when the Spirit leads however, you should let Him move in the moment.

After the service one of the visitors, Ashley, came up to me and we started talking about baptism. We ended up talking and discussing what baptism is and what needs to proceed it. After talking for a few minutes it was amazing to see where the Lord had been taking her. As we continued the conversation I was able to lead her to the Lord. It is awesome! She is our third salvation of the school year. It is awesome to see God moving.

Also, we are seeing some real depth to our students. Tonight during our testimony times that we call God Stories, it was great to hear how God is using our students in their world. Also, one of our kids is making major sacrifices to do what He feels God wants of Him. Sometimes it hurts, but he is trying to understand and pursue His will.

I am humbled that He wants to use me. It is great to be on this end of all He is doing. I am waiting to see what is ahead. We have at least five students waiting to be baptized. I am excited to wait as He continues to work. Go God!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

It was an oddly productive day. I got a new laptop this week. Along with a nicer computer comes my new curses of Vista. It is so bad! It isn't compatible with so many things. I cannot even print on all the printers at church due to the dumb operating system. The tech literally worked all day and there are still issues.

Still as he worked, I grabbed the old laptop and took off to St. Louis Bread Company and wrote my message and created some ads for upcoming events. I really got into a groove and got so much done. It was amazing! Very rewarding. Here are some of the fruits of my labor:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

I love being a dad. I really do. My son is the cutest and most incredible kid God ever blessed a man to father. He is such a happy, obedient little boy. He is smart (already counting to four) and friendly. I really love him more than I ever thought I could.

He is now starting to really talk. He is making sentences. He is truly communicating with us now. Today, on our way to daycare, I passed him part of a Nutri-Grain bar and I heard him chirp from the carseat, "Thank you Daddy". My heart melted. I love to hear him call me Daddy. His voice is a little high pitched and very clear. Daddy. It is pretty much my favorite word.

It got me thinking a lot about God. Jesus called him "Daddy" (Abba) in the garden. In Mark 14, in His most desperate hour, He used this familiar word to ask His father to spare Him the agony of the cross. I think about when Jackson is hurt or scared and he cries out for me. I wonder if that same sound of desperation was in the voice of Christ that night.

In Romans 8, we are told that the spirit gives us the right to become children of God. We are children with a deep relationship where we have the right to call Him Daddy. Because we are led by the spirit, we now have the right to call out to God by that sweet name.

In Galatians 4, we are reminded that it was the sacrifice Christ made on the cross that gave us our sonship. Maybe this is particularly striking to me because my son is adopted. He is not one who shares my DNA but one who, by an act that he had no control over, gained the right to call me Daddy. He was not born to me but is now as much a part of my heart as any natural child could ever be.

I believe that there is no sweeter sound to God's ear than when we say, "Thank you Daddy". As that phrase made my heart skip a beat this morning, when we say it to our Heavenly Father, it gives him great pleasure. I love to hear my son's voice. I love to hear him say Daddy more than any other word he knows. Today, as I pondered that one little word, I am convinced that my Heavenly Father feels the same about me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

So, we are hosting a babysitting night for parents tonight at church. We wanted to offer it so that couples could go see the new movie FIREPROOF. Kendra and I saw it at a pastor' s sneak preview a few weeks ago. It is a great movie with the potential to change marriages. You should find it near you and go see it.

Unfortunately, I am a bit stressed over hoe many kids we will have. I hope we have enough leaders. The while Student Minsitry Team decided to do this. The kids on the team neglected to inform us that it was the night of homecoming at three of the high schools we serve. So, student help is at a premium. We may have about seven or so leaders for about thirty kids. Not really undoable but I am still apprehensive.

I was somewhat pleased to find out that I did okay on the diet while I was gone. I haven't come close to the weight loss of last week but I lost a pound even though I haven't ahd a chance to eat right hardly at all. My goal is to try and lose three pounds over the weekend. We will see.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

So, overall my trip was not all I expected it to be. Still, there were some nice guys that I hope to maintain some relationships with. We did take FOREVER to get home. I walked into church JUST as Reality Check was starting. We had a nice, different service. I wrote it on the bus on the way back.

After some worship and sharing about each school's SYATP events, we split up into groups. I had written some small group activities. We read a Psalm and then prayed for our nation. We read another Psalm and then prayed for our schools. We read another Psalm and then prayed for our church. Lastly, I had each group individually read a Psalm and then share prayer requests and pray.

I have gotten some good feedback from the students about it. It was quality and I didn't have to really speak at all.

I was wasted when I got home. I slept pretty well. Today I kept Jackson home because he went through a pretty big Daddy separation this week. He was cute at lunch with my dad today. He is napping now and I am catching up on e-mails and TV I missed.

Tonight there is a football game we will go to. It will be Jackson's first. We will see how he does. It should be fun.

This is the only picture I took all week. They DO say a picture says a thousand words:

Now if someone would just tell Clay Aiken and Ray Boltz.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

I am in Nashville for the Lifeway National Youth Conference this week. It hasn't been all I had hoped. It is a small event and although that can be a good thing, it just needs to beef itself up a bit to be more worthwhile. I am looking forward to November when I will return to Music City for the YS convention. I have enjoyed most of the speakers. I was particularly impressed with Derwin Gray (The Evangelism Linebacker). He did a great job.

I was looking forward to getting to know some of the other youth pastors from Missouri that I came here with. The guys are all very nice. We just aren't gelling in the way I would like. It is hard for me. One of my fondest memories of being a YP in St. Louis in the past was the great network of YPs that the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association had. It doesn't exist anymore. I was hoping this trip would open up some doors for new relationships and perhaps it has but I am not seeing much of that sort of thing really come out of it.

So far, the highlight of the conference has been meeting up with a few Internet YP friends. Today I had lunch with Brian Senecal and Mike Lovato. These are guys I have been online buddies with for awhile. It was nice to meet them face to face. I have found over the past few years that a lot of my true networking has come from online communities. I have a lot of friends in ministry. I just don't have a lot of them in my area.

We head home tomorrow morning. I am hoping to get to church almost literally just when things are getting started for Reality Check tomorrow night. I tried to plan the service to rely heavily on music and SYATP testimonies because I knew I wouldn't have much time to prepare anything.

I am typing all this in the Rockettown Internet Cafe. I am waiting for the rest of our group to come out of the late night comedy club so we can go to the hotel. I realized how old I was on this trip when one of the YPs said, "Why is this place called Rockettown"? Sheesh! I am SO OLD!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

So, I am struggling with my message for this week and have to admit, I am ashamed that I am. It is part of our two week series called, "How to Connect with God". It is on prayer. I am trying to form a good, relevant message with new facts for students on the topic but I just keep hitting a brick wall. Finally today I came up with an interactive element that I hope will work but puts a lot of pressure on me tomorrow to get it all set up.

I wish I was done. I am not. Alas, (my word) tomorrow is quickly approaching no matter how I feel about it. That makes me sad.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

Back to the world of "lifestyle change" I go. In about a year or so I lost 140 pounds. I was still very big because I was GINORMOUS before but I was feeling good and liking the (still fat) but slender me. Well, then we got Jackson and crazy schedules and I fell off the wagon. I have gained about sixty of those pounds back and it is time to stop. So Matt McNutt is offering this challenge:

So, Kendra (who had lost 80 pounds herself) and I are going to get back to it by trying to use this as an accountability program. Matt was on The Biggest Loser and a fellow Youth Pastor in Maine. He is an honest, good, regular guy who has succeeded at his weight loss goals. If you read this before Tuesday I encourage you to hop on board.

Maybe I will post some of our before pictures on here and keep track of the loss online for all of you to share with us! Scary but accountability is the key I think! We'll see! We did go and stock up on our healthy options today. I had forgotten what it was like to buy healthy food. I is more expendsive but I actually had a great time getting it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

Top Five Things to Help Build Student Ministry Unity

A huge struggle in student ministry is unity. How do we take a group who
seem to be totally different from one another and make them a unified
Christian front? How do we foster a caring community that has residents
who are all on the same page and know and care for one another? I have
been in student ministry nearly two decades and I have found some
fundamental things to be true when thinking of student ministry unity.

5. Unity comes when there is a leader who is welcoming and loving of all students.

It is important that the primary leader of the student ministry
do all he or she can to reach out to all students in the group.
As leaders of students, it can be very difficult not to spend most of our time
with the outgoing, charismatic leaders and/or the students who are
drawn to us. Still, if unity is going to be achieved, the leader has to
set the tone. If we are going to preach love and tell students to welcome
everyone, we have to be the best example of that. Greet new students.
We have to involve the fringe kids. We need to celebrate the lesser known
kids in our groups and get to know who they are and their abilities. For unity
to begin, the example of how to show love and find unity has to be us.

4. Unity comes when we encourage student leaders to embrace all students in our ministry.

There is a scene in the movie NEVER BEEN KISSED when I
think that one of the truest statements about teenagers ever
said on film is made. David Arquette says to "Josie Grossy" Drew
Barrymore that all it takes is for one person to think you are cool
and you are in. I have seen that time and time again play out in
student ministry. It only takes one person. I think because we are
naturally drawn to the outgoing, charismatic leader type students (and
often them to us) we need to take advantage of the relationships we have
that come easy. We need to encourage those students to do what
we are doing in our attempts to build unity. We need to encourage
(and sometimes prod) them to be a warm, welcoming force in the group.
Encourage these students to talk with new or fringe students. Challenge
them to sit with someone who is not their close friend in student meetings.
Challenge them to learn something new about a different person every week.
It is a lofty goal but I am all about raising the bar and watching students
consistently fly above it. Students like it when an adult leader makes them
feel known but they love it when that comes from their peers.

3. Unity comes when we offer a strong identity of our student ministry that helps
students embrace a team attitude.

In most student ministries, we have students coming from so many
different places. We have public school
students (and many times
several different public schools are represented). We have private
school students. We also have homeschool students. Often this
diversity only adds to the lack of unity in the group. Two years ago,
when we were praying the week before See You At The Pole, we
split our group of about 40 kids that night up by their educational
similarities. When we counted out of just forty students we had fourteen
different groups represented!

I would like to think that we are rare, but I am somewhat certain that
big numbers of various designations are becoming more of the norm.
So, in order to combat the lack of unity this may bring naturally, we
need to offer to students a place where they can come together and have
a common ground.

One of the best ways to make that happen is to have
a strong student ministry identity. Make students feel, as soon as they
walk in the door, that this is a place that knows who it is and why it exists.
Some people look down on naming your ministry but I think that a strong
name and and identity that is frequently referenced helps tear down the
walls of natural segregation in the group. My goal for our group is that when we
come together we are no longer students at Parkway North or Lafayette
High School but we are now, Get Real Student Ministries. We proudly display
our logo on everything from our welcome table to our projection screen and
every correspondence and t-shirt that we put out. Having a strong identity
helps students feel that they belong to something. That sense of belonging is
crucial to teens. Let's give them that within their student ministry.

2. Unity comes when we intentionally create a unity fostering atmosphere in our ministry.

Years ago I stopped letting students pick which van they ride in on trips.
Sure I get flack from time to time but as I personally assign each student
to a van before we go somewhere I can intentionally breed unity. I always
make sure that every person has someone they are comfortable with to ride
along with them but I also make sure that I break up cliques and disburse
them evenly throughout vehicles. Students may groan when they aren't
with their friends but I have found that there is nothing like a long van
ride to force students to get to know people they might not have the
opportunity to get acquainted with at a regular student group meeting.

Shared experiences are the crucial element in creating unity. You can have a
great identity and encourage people to reach out within the walls of your church
to begin the unity building process but until your students have things that
make shared memories, it is often superficial. Things like mission trips and camps
go along way in making shared memories. Inside jokes are created, dreams are
shared, guards are down and hearts are open in these types of environments.

In our ministry we do Monday Mystery Trips in the summer. We take the
students in vans to unknown destinations about three hours away. It is
a fun filled time but the underlying reason we do it is to offer time in vans
for students to talk to one another and a random shared experience at the end to
help establish memories that move us toward unity. [This past summer
we went to Metropolis, Illinois --- the home of Superman and Santa Claus,
Indiana, Both completely random but both are some of the highlights
of the summer that students are still talking about]. Shared experiences breed
natural unity.

1. Unity comes when we cover it all in prayer.

This may seem cliched but it is the very foundation of unity building.
You can foster unity in your group but it is the Holy Spirit that breeds
that unity. You have to continually seek His guidance as you seek ways
to create a unified group. Also, in praying for unity, you are following the
example of Christ. In His high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus takes
time to pray for the church. What is His petition to the Father? Make
them one. Unity. If Jesus thought it was important enough to pray for us
to obtain unity, then I think we should make it a priority in our prayer life as well.

Finally, I am not saying that I have all the answers to the unity issues that we
all face in student ministry. I do know however, that these things have
worked together to transform disjointed ministries before my eyes. I, too.
pray that all our ministries would be havens of unity in a world where unity
is hard to find.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

One of the reasons I love Student Ministry is that I get to spend vocational hours just hanging out with kids. Tonight after youth group it was great to just hang out in the youth hall with a couple of my students and talk. It is in those quieter moments that you really get to invest in a kid.

I love the way bonding occurs during this time. Inside jokes are referenced, secrets are told and fellowship truly occurs. Investing in students is an incredible thing. I just love sitting and talking with a kid and finding out about them. Tonight it was as simple as a girl telling us that she had written a metaphorical poem about her struggles with God last school year and the way He revealed Himself to her in a new way this summer. She used one of her favorite pass times to describe that struggle and victory --- swimming.

Now, I remember those struggles she went through last year. It hurt my heart to see her rebelling and pushing the envelope of her faith. Now, after a talk tonight, I see how God had His hand over her as she walked away. He lovingly taught her things even in spite (and possible through) her sins. She realizes the err of her ways now and appreciates her relationship with God on an entirely different level.

Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating teens walking away from their faith at all. The ideal is that they would stay on the righteous path and grow without any huge hiccups. I was just encouraged by this girl tonight as she reminded me that God's plan trumps ours every time.

God is really reminding me in this season that it is all about Him. He makes things happens. He keeps things from happening. He designs all things and I am just an instrument for His will. I need to learn to walk closely beside him as he guides my paths. He wants me to trust that He has placed me in this position for such a time as this and leave the results to Him. He proves this to me time and time again. It seems that honestly, when I am at my weakest, He is at His strongest and he uses me to do amazing things in spite of myself. That is exciting and mysterious to me.

Deep ponderings can come from sitting next to a senior in high school and listening to her seemingly random conversations. In those moments I hear God's laugh. I sense His presence. I listen to His voice. He is saying, "I have an amazing plan and I love you enough to let you be a part of it". Personally I think that is pretty cool.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

So, I was feeling a little guilty this summer. There is a guy in our youth group named Aaron. I had shared the gospel with him in May or so and he told me at the time he was not yet ready to make a commitment. I respected that and continued to pray for him. I wanted to get him alone all summer long and just kept getting pushed into the "stuff" of ministry and week after week opportunity slipped by and we didn't talk.

At the first Reality Check of the year I made a point to make a bee line for Aaron right after the service. We sat down and I simply asked, "What is God doing in your life"? He told me God had given him a job. It made me happy that he was acknowledging that but not really where I was going. About that time my two year old son ran up to me. I love that kid and want to devote all my time to him but realized that this conversation was important at the time. I also realized the conversation would be VERY difficult if I tried to have it with Jackson sitting on my lap. Kendra called him over to her and I asked Aaron to join me in a quieter place than the Youth Hall.

As we talked, I asked Aaron if he had thought more about our conversation about salvation. He said yes. We talked and he said he had a time over the summer when things were really bad and he broke down and realized he needed God. There was something in the phrasing that made me wonder if he had made a commitment but he said he had. So, we discussed baptism and talked about Church membership. I assured him that baptism was just the first sign of a Christian life and nothing more. I also tried to explain that membership was all about accountability and nurturing and not about salvation. We prayed together and he left. I was very excited.

Then on Sunday he came forward in church to make public his decision. Because of that dreaded piano side organ side seating arrangement that fills most churches he talked with another one of our pastors when he came (because I hold down the organ side and Aaron sits on the piano side). One of our deacons took him out and I was proud. It was also joy filling to see so many of the kids in the youth group get excited about it. Aaron and his friends mostly sit alone and I hate that our kids haven't reached out more to them.

Anyway, after the service Aaron and the deacon came to me and told me that during the counseling session, Aaron prayed to receive Christ! See I was worried but God knows timing WAY better than I do. Aaron just kept saying, "I'm just so happy!" Me too! Now I have to get him into my small group. He really wants to come, so I have to find a way for him to get to me without having a car.

Then this past week, I was in the second week of our three week series on evangelism. We were talking about attracting your friends with your lifestyle. The sermon went okay and as I started down the steps a seventh grader named Ryan approached me. He simply said, "Jasper, I was wondering if you could lead me to the Lord". Of course I said I was really busy and needed to talk to the worship team about next week's worship set.


We immediately went to the same room that Aaron and I had talked together in the week before. Ryan had prayed a prayer once but realized it was just words before. When I asked him what made him choose tonight to talk about this, he said, "Just the things you were saying tonight". WOW! We then prayed together and as his mother came to pick him up she was SO excited! Woot! I got him a Bible and we headed on our way.

I love what God is doing in this group right now. It is amazing all He is accomplishing. We had four guys surrender to the ministry in just over a year as well. We have girls that are seeking how they may be used full time too. I am overwhelmed that God is using simple, sinful Jasper to affect lives for teens. WOW! This is the best job in the world!
Jasper Speaks:

One of the hardest things for me is to manage my time in a work day. I try but I can be so undisciplined! A few weeks ago I began keeping track of my tasks in Outlook. I did really well the whole week. Then I crashed and burned and didn't enter in a new group of tasks. So I have a wonderful list of things that have been marked through to make me feel like I am accomplishing something when I am not.

This has been a lifelong problem. I have struggled with it for years. Even in Kindergarten I would get an N (for needs improvement) on my report card for the space marked "Uses Time Wisely". UG! So, today, I did a lot but accomplished a paltry sum. I need to take my sermon for tomorrow night home to work on it tonight. Kendra will be at handbell practice so after Jackson goes to sleeep I will have some time.

I think it is funny that people write time management books. If I can't manage my time well already, how am I supposed to fit reading a book on time management into my day? So, as I sit in my office with about sixteen minutes left of the work day, I am again procrastinating and blogging instead of working. So, I guess I haven't changed much since Kindergarten afterall.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

So, Youth Specialties has designated Saturday Youth Workers Appreciation Day. That makes me stop and think about how poorly I have been appreciating my youth staff lately. I mean, I am certain they don't feel like I take them for granted, but I haven't "celebrated" them much. I try to be an encouragement and thank them for all they do but I WANT my team to feel like they are on the coolest team in the church. I want them to feel like they would rather serve with us than anywhere else.

The kids themselves have done a great job of helping with the "coolness" factor lately. The couple of people who worked with us for the first time this summer loved it. The depressing thing is, one was our children's ministry intern, who went back to college and the other is our church office manager who can't be a weekly youth leader due to her previous commitment to AWANA. (I don't really count my intern, Aaron, because he isn't a member of the church and is a resident of another state altogether). Anyway, those of you who are youth workers understand that there is no better place on earth but how do I encourage my staff?

I don't want to be cheesy and give them key chains or pencils or something like that. I have a book called, "Go Team" that I really liked when I was in Maine. Not sure where it is now. I have seen it since I moved into my office, I just don't know where it is now.

In my first full time position, I gave my workers handwritten thank you notes anytime they helped with a project. They actually told me to stop. They thought it was too much. I think it became insincere (although it never was) in their eyes. So I try and limit my handwritten notes to once or twice a year. I also think giving them gift cards and things gets sticky because of using church funds. I certaintly can't afford to do it all out of my pocket.

So, I guess I am saying I am open to suggestions. I want to make my team feel special and I am looking for the least cheese possible. How do we do this on an on going basis without it starting to seem hallow? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Like Youth Specialties, I just want to have my own Youth Works Appreciation Day!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Headline Speaks:

St. Louis Woman Dies in Another Fast-Food Dispute

ST. LOUIS — For the second time in a month, police say a fight over fast food has led to the killing of a St. Louis resident.

Decora Jenkins, 18, was fatally shot early Monday in her home in St. Louis after arguing about a fast-food meal, police said.

Jenkins died from a gunshot wound to the head shortly after 1 a.m. in her home in the 1600 block of McLaran Avenue in the city's North Pointe neighborhood, police said.

Jenkins, her boyfriend, 20, and Erika Wherry, 28, returned to Jenkins' home after ordering food from a fast-food restaurant.

Wherry and Jenkins' boyfriend began wrestling over the food, police said. Wherry then picked up a gun and fired it toward the boyfriend but instead hit Jenkins, who was standing behind her boyfriend, police said. The boyfriend was unhurt except for minor gunpowder burns. Neighbors said Wherry is Jenkins' aunt.

Prosecutors charged Wherry on Monday with involuntary manslaughter.

Neighbor LaJoy Andrews said she had dropped the three off at the house after a block party, about an hour before the three drove to a nearby Rally's Hamburgers.

Andrews, 34, said Jenkins lived with Wherry, her father and younger brother, and had just earned her high school equivalency certificate last month. Andrews said Jenkins had planned to go to beauty school. Andrews described Jenkins as a "high-spirited" and "positive" person who rarely let anything bother her.

"It's very heartbreaking," Andrews said. "All this came about over a hamburger. It's a terrible situation."

Andrews said tough economic times may have factored into the argument.

"It's sad out here right now," she said. "There's no jobs. Everybody is stressed out."

On Monday afternoon, a swarm of ants was attacking two Rally's hamburger wrappers on the front porch of Jenkins' home. A man who answered the door declined to comment.

On Aug. 3, Carl Sharp, 26, of Jennings, a youth coach and former basketball player for Jennings High School, was fatally shot in the 3800 block of Lee Avenue in St. Louis after a dispute over a hamburger order placed at a fast-food restaurant. Police arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with that shooting.

Jasper Speaks:

I hadn't read about the first incident. Dying for a Rally's burger seems like a bit much. This story is so sad in its near comedy. What a commentary on the shape of our world. Our students are growing up in a world of violence that we didn't ever know. In someways it makes me long for the old cold war days when the thing you were most afraid of was that Russia would go crazy and nuke us. Oh yeah, that may still happen! SHEESH! No wonder students today are so stressed out!