Archives For September 2011

Huddle at Bluffs Middle School

I remember a sort of nervousness as a high school student heading out early for See You At The Pole. Who would be there? What if I’m the only one? What are they thinking as they walk by? Hey, why didn’t that kid stop and pray with us? As a youth minister, I’ve seen the same anxious thinking in my students when they start thinking about SYATP (or other very public evidence of their faith). They deeply want to know they’re not the only one…

This is my first year as a parent of a Middle Schooler, so I got an even closer look at that angst in my own house this time around. Emily was nervous that she’d show up early and be stuck like “the cheese”, standing alone. Her fear was assuaged a little bit by the fact that her friend Faith was riding with us and would be there, too, but it was obliterated when we rounded the corner and she saw several of the older Middle School students already there. “There’s Austin… and Maddy… and Emily… and Liz…” The list continued.

Praying at Bluffs Middle School

After dropping the two girls off with a handful of friends, I drove a couple blocks to a coffee shop where I’ve been meeting a group of men for our own time of prayer on Wed. mornings to let them know I wasn’t going to be staying today. I was hoping to stop back at the Middle School to pray and take a couple quick pictures. By the time I got back, the cluster had grown to include more students, a couple teachers, and a few parents and younger siblings – and everyone gathered to pray.

The SYATP Remnant at Scottsbluff High School

Hoping to make it over to the High School, which was starting a little later, I snuck away as the students prayed. As it turned out, the High School kids had bumped the time back up so that the band students could be there. They were mostly done when I arrived, but half the group was still there, so I got to wrap up the prayer time. I’m proud of our students who’ve stepped out and brought people together to pray. God is working in our students and they’re eager to see what He will do.

I enjoyed stopping by the closest 2 schools this morning to pray with my students and their friends and teachers and a few parents. I wish I could have made it to my students in other schools that aren’t so close, but I’ll just have to wait until tonight to see how their mornings went.

Youth Ministry with Guys

Mike —  September 27, 2011 — Leave a comment

I’ve had a series of articles posted lately over at YouthWorker Journal about ministry with guys:
     – The Risk of Discipleship – raising the risk level in youth ministry
     – Have Fun – making ministry enjoyable
     – What Did You Expect? – raising expectations of young people

In each of the articles, I’ve brought up some issues that I think is important in regards to working with boys in my own youth ministry: doing things that are risky, having fun, expecting great things from and for our students. These aren’t necessarily the three most important things about boys ministry, but they’ve been among the first to come to mind. I’ll be sharing more from these articles here on the blog at some point, as well as other thoughts from the rest of the series, but I also want to know what you’ve seen in ministry with boys.

What are the greatest successes and failures that you’ve seen or experienced in ministry with boys? Whether you’re looking at it from the perspective of a student or parent or youth leader… what have you seen that’s worked well and what have you seen that’s flopped?

2011 See You At The Pole

Mike —  September 26, 2011 — Leave a comment

During my freshman year of high school, a small group of kids in TX had decided to go pray at some area schools one night. They went and prayed for their friends and teachers at school during a weekend discipleship retreat they were having. I didn’t hear a thing about it. Why would I? It was just some kids a thousand mile away, praying for their schools like God was urging them to.

I may not have heard about it, living several states away, but God was up to something that I did hear about not long after that first year. Their little prayer time together became the epicenter of a movement of prayer that is still re-shaping lives and schools, not only in Texas, but around the world. Later that year, about 45,000 students in several different states met at their school flagpoles for the first See You At The Pole. This week, over two million students worldwide will take part in this time of prayer.

“I am there with you.”

 -Jesus

SYATP isn’t about taking a stand or some political agenda for forcing God back into schools. It’s not about staking a claim to anyone’s rights… It’s about the dependence of God’s people on Him. It’s about young people humbly begging Him to use them to reveal Himself to their generation. It’s about recognizing His powerful presence “where two or three are gathered…” It’s about depending on that powerful Presence to help us become what we’ve been created to be.

This Wednesday (the 28th) is the official day of See You At The Pole 2011. Take some time Wednesday morning to pray for students you know, for their teachers and administrators at their schools, and for the leaders of our communities. (If you’re a student, get to school early and meet the others at the flagpole to pray.) And listen with an open heart for His side of the prayer conversation. God used the obedience of a handful of school kids about 20 years ago to spark something that’s still burning bright. What will He do with yours?
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Here at WestWay, we’re getting a number of community youth groups together that night at 7:00 to celebrate what Jesus is doing as His people converge to reveal Him to the world around us. If you’re in the area, you don’t want to miss it. (Our building is located at 1701 W. 27th St. here in Scottsbluff.)

Where’s Our Focus?

Mike —  September 22, 2011 — Leave a comment

All of life is flavored or  colored by our focus. Two people can see or experience the same thing and walk away with completely different descriptions, feelings, & thoughts because of what they were focused on.

Check out this post from Perry Noble about focus.

Where’s your focus in life?

Blogging Mojo Book Review

Mike —  September 14, 2011 — Leave a comment

A while back, I came across this guy from Intercourse (PA) who posts pictures of Amish people, blogs a series of cartoon videos, drinks vinegar on camera, and mixes some of the most humorously random metaphors ever known to woodchucks. Bryan Allain is a funny guy with a funny blog. As I first read his blog, I shouted out, “Wow, this guy has some serious blogging mojo! I wish I could find my own blogging mojo like that.” It was a big moment here in the office…

Ok, that last part is a total fabrication; I don’t think I’ve ever actually said the word mojo because it confuses my mouth. Wait, was that a Spanish word, or are we just making stuff up now? Do you really think you’re cool enough to pull off a word like that? Regardless, you should check out his blog. If you’re a blogger, or if you just like funny stuff, you should also check out his new ebook – 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo. You can find it on the book’s site as a pdf, or on Amazon in a Kindle edition.

Lost your mojo?

The books offers a 31 day walk-through before jumping into the big blogging game. Or maybe it’s more of a quick series of timeouts in the middle of the game to remind you what the heck you started out to accomplish with this whole blogging thing. Either way, it’s full of really good, practical blogging suggestions and ideas for making your blog better.

Allain begins by re-acquainting you with the core elements of your blog (the audience, the content, and… you’ll have to get the book for the other one) – these are the foundation of what will make your blog something someone else will read and to which they’ll actually return to read some more. He spends another 10 short chapters or so helping you tweak your content and focus in on what you really want to write, then fills the last third of the book with helpful tips on getting people to visit your blog and keep coming back for more.

Each chapter is only 2 pages and contains a short exercise that will help to put the idea of that chapter into practice on your blog. It’s written to probably take about 10 minutes a day, plus another 10 to 20 on the exercises, but it’s also pretty easy to read in longer chunks – you’ll just have to be careful not to miss the benefits of the action points.

I’ve been thinking about shuttering this blog and restarting a more focused blog, so I was glad to sign up to receive a free review copy. I was really glad when I found out I was lucky enough to be getting one. Bryan Allain will be even more glad when lots of you spend a measly $4.99 for your own copy. That’s like a couple boxes of really cheap cereal. Or one box of expensive cereal. The book’s definitely worth it.

In fact, if it was cereal, the box would say: Great Stuff! Start your blog off right. Dig in and find your blogging mojo.*


*CAUTION: Contents will not stay crispy in milk.

What Do You Do When Everything Sucks?

Mike —  September 13, 2011 — 1 Comment

I’m a Denver Broncos fan. Last season was brutal. Watching the team implode the way it did was awful. I guess they didn’t implode so much as they just sort of forgot how to play football against any other team… I don’t know. I remember some bad games when I was a kid, even tough seasons, but nothing was ever like that. I remember watching with my grandma and laughing as she got so irritated with John Elway that she’d be yelling at the tv. Grandma was little, but I think she was ready to step through the TV and put  on a helmet a few times and show those boys how it’s done. I loved watching games with Grandma. Even the tough losses. But last year… all the fun seemed to be sucked out. There wasn’t much to enjoy.

I didn’t get to watch the game last night, but as I checked my twitter feed occasionally, I saw lots of updates (thank you @milehighreport). There seemed to be signs of life at times, but the end result was still a loss. I bet it’s tough to get the tar knocked out of you and have nothing to show for it but a loss, knowing you’re going to get back out there and work to do it all over again.

But life is like that isn’t it? We have “seasons” where it seems like everything sucks. Maybe every single thing doesn’t actually suck, but it sure feels like it. After the horrible season last year, a time where nothing seemed to be going right, the Broncos fired staff, rearranged responsibilities, brought in fresh ideas to the organization, all in attempting to defeat the suckiness and bring back the joy (and hopefully some wins!).

What do you do in those times? How do you regain a perspective that lets you enjoy life again? Do you need to “fire some staff” in your life? Or rearrange your priorities? Where can you bring some fresh thinking into your day?

Does ‘reality bite’ or ‘life suck’? You can’t change it until you refuse to accept it. Make some move today to make it better.

How to Save Money Like An Idiot

Mike —  September 6, 2011 — 3 Comments

For some reason, Sunday afternoon seemed like a good time to start a project that’s been looming at our house since the city of Scottsbluff repaved our street several years ago. They’d contracted a landscaper to re-sod all the right of way areas when the job was complete. (You know that section between the sidewalk and the street that runs the full width of your house.) Since we’ve got no water to that area, we asked if they’d just put in some landscaping stone instead. They were glad to do so, but unfortunately spread the stone without putting any kind of weed barrier down.

So, for more hours than I care to admit on both Sunday and Monday, I got to partake in a level of work that is completely inappropriate for any holiday, regardless of its name. This weekend’s project essentially was this: move rocks, put down rolls of weed block, replace rocks. We also threw in a handful of shrubs for good measure.

One shovel at a time…

It was not fun work. It was not easy work. But it needed to be done. And now, it has been done. It’s nice to have a project started and completed. We seem to have a number of “less than finished” projects. Several times, LuAnn commented on how it would’ve probably been easier to just finish one of them (or two or three) instead of shoveling all those rocks only so I could shovel them again.

She’s probably right. This project could have waited. Why did we do this now?

Because I found some shrubs for sale for less than 3 bucks… So, because I could save roughly $15, I bought the bushes and started digging…

What an idiot.
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Ever done anything dumb to save a few dollars? Share your story in the comments…