Archive for March, 2009

‘Idol’ Recap

Posted in Culture with tags , , on March 31, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

Interesting week this week. Some really high highs, and some pretty low lows. The usual best performers were the best, and the usual worst were the worst. I just gotta say, even though she didn’t make my 3-Up this week, I love L’il Rounds. She’s not my favorite as a musical artist, but I want to see her go far in this competition just so that America can see what a stong nuclear family looks like week after week. Also, does anybody else just really want to see Adam Lambert tackle ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ by the Darkness?


Danny – I’ve made no secret over the last few weeks that I’m getting tired of Danny, and I’m still no huge fan, but he was really good tonight. It was great to see him drop the cheesiness and pretense from last week and get back to what he does well. I’d still love to see him shine on something other than a power ballad, but to quote Randy, this week was ‘a thousand, million percent’ better than last week. And I don’t even like Rascal Flatts.

Scott – I think everybody likes this guy’s personality, and he’s got a cool story. Tonight’s performance was intimate and very solid. I definitely think he found his groove with the singer/songwriter/pianist mold, although if he wants to stay in that groove he’ll limit his song choices pretty severely. My biggest thing with Scott is just the facial expressions! I understand that because of his blindness he doesn’t squint when most others would, but it’s just a little off-putting to see. Maybe some sunglasses, a la Stevie or Ray Charles?

Kris – I liked the arrangement a lot. He took a song that I’ve always heard in sort of a Chicago blues style and turned the beginning and end into something haunting, ethereal, almost mournful. A girl I know said it was sexy. The middle section didn’t do as much for me, but I suppose it had to be done. Kris is improving every week, and that’s cool to see.


Megan – Time to go home. Not only is her vocal ability starting to resemble Sanjayah just a little too much, but her arrogance is really beginning to annoy. This week she defended a terrible performance (the judges were spot on in their criticism, despite being a bit mean-spirited towards her) by saying, “I enjoyed it, and I think my fans did, too.” If by ‘fans’ she meant ‘my family’, she may be right.

Allison – Wow. I love this girl’s voice, but tonight was a huge mess. As a music-phile and guitarist, I cringed at her clumsy attempt at playing her own instrument tonight. (Paula called it her ‘Axe’, apparently not realizing that you can’t truly call it an axe unless it’s plugged in through an overdriven amp). Tempo and rhythm are huge issues in music, and she had neither. The judges seemed preoccupied with her outfit and hair, and I can’t say I blame them. Neither was good. Plus the vocal was far from her best.

Matt – The “Top 40 Piano Player” in him came out tonight. His vocal tone sounded like a mediocre karaoke version of the Fray’s Isaac Slade. The musical arrangement wasn’t great, either. The judges were right on. Wrong song choice.

That’s that. No Idol recap from me next week, as I’ll be on a mission trip in Haiti. I look forward to some discussion about this week, as I think my opinions might not be shared by all.




Posted in Life with tags , , on March 31, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

So, I just spent the better part of 3 hours trying to learn basic html so that I could create my own CSS stylesheet and personalize the look of my blog. Then I found out that you have to pay extra money to be able to save your changes. Thanks, WordPress…


Posted in Theological with tags , , on March 30, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

The short countdown has begun. Michelle and I leave VERY early Thursday morning for a weeklong mission to Haiti. Seriously, we’re leaving so early it might as well be Wednesday night.

Our goals include delivering rice, beans, peanut butter, and other food stuffs to an orphanage in Jacmel on the south side of the island; delivering mattresses to the same orphanage (most of the kids sleep on boards laid across the bedframe); packaging food for a program to feed elderly Haitians who can’t provide for themselves; and building a chicken coop to hold more than 400 chickens for food, eggs, and profit for the Christianville mission. Not bad for a week’s work, huh?

Not bad for the couple from our church who put all this together. They have a cool story. The wife had heard about the conditions in Haiti from a friend (Haiti is, by a comfortable margin, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere), and convinced her husband to go down for a short term mission. They were so moved by what they saw that they started Haitian Christian Projects, and they have taken anywhere from 3-6 short term trips to Haiti per year for the last several years. And that’s why their story is cool to me – they’re not big time, fully-church-sponsored missionaries. They’re normal people. The wife doesn’t work, but devotes nearly all her time to planning and organizing trips to Haiti. The husband manages a small golf course near here. Normal people. People who are doing something great for God’s kingdom.

And I guess that’s where I’m really going with all of this. You don’t have to be Billy Graham to make a difference. This couple from our church just went to Haiti, saw a need, and began making phone calls to see who they knew that could help, or had friends who could help. And because of their care and concern, there are nearly 100 children in orphanages in Haiti who get food every day, who have shelter to sleep in, and most importantly are being taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Where can you make a difference?

‘Idol’ Recap

Posted in Culture with tags , on March 25, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

Tired tonight… Here’s a quick 3-up, 3-down…

3 – UP

L’il – If she had mimicked the physical mannerisms of the early Motown ladies a little more, I might have sworn that she was straight out of the early ’60s. She looked amazing. A little shouty towards the end, but otherwise great.

Adam – The look was cool. The arrangement was laid-back and awesome. The vocal was tender and heartfelt – almost made Smokey Robinson cry. Best of the night.

Allison – She can rock, she can pop, and tonight we found out that she can soul. If she can avoid getting roped in by the Disney Channel, she’ll be a superstar for a long long time. I think she passed L’il as the female front-runner tonight.

3 – DOWN

Meghan – I agree with Simon that she might be in trouble after tonight. If she’s not, she definitely should be. The worst of the night.

Michael – He apparently interpreted Smokey Robinson’s advice to ‘pound it a little more’ to mean ‘over-accent all your consonants directly into the mike so that it makes a popping noise’. Should have asked for clarification… Plus, the ending stunk. Bad.

Danny – The cheese factor is mounting… He sounded okay tonight, but he’s in the 3-Down for one reason: You can’t listen to advice from Smokey Robinson, say you’ll take the advice in the rehearsal, and then perform it without taking the advice.


Peace. I’m going to bed.


Posted in Reflections, Theological with tags , , on March 25, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

Here are some thoughts/reflections from a discussion with some middle schoolers that I was a part of last week on worship.

Worship – ‘The declaration of what you value most’ (this from another youth pastor)

                     – ‘Worship is everything you’re about’ (from a student)

                     – ‘Worship is more than just singing songs’ (from a student)

My favorite definition of what worship is comes from a message that I heard Louie Giglio deliver several years ago (summer of ’03, I believe). He said, ‘Worship is what you see when you see me.’ What he meant was that we ‘clothe ourselves in’ whatever we worship. When people see us, do they see a sports addict, a doting parent, a media-monger, a driven worker, etc.? Obviously as Christians we are called to clothe ourselves with Christ (Rom. 13:14). People should see Jesus when they see us.

The discussion turned, at one point, to something that really convicted me – the things we substitute and fool ourselves with in our worship of God. As a worship leader, it is exceedingly easy for me to fall into the trap of worshipping the ‘kumbaya’ feeling of a body of people moving together instead of directing my worship towards God. Worship leaders love it when people engage, when they sing loud, clap strong (and preferebly on-beat), when they are expressive. It’s all too easy to make that kind of worship environment the end instead of making it what it is – the means to achieve an end. And the proper end? Being in and experiencing the presence of God in a meaningful way.

How’s your worship?


Posted in Life with tags , , , , on March 22, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

I am astonished and saddened once again that the US baseball team couldn’t make the finals of the World Baseball Classic. At least we made it to the semis this time around. But, alas, we just couldn’t hold off the Japanese team.

I’m beginning to feel more and more that the American way of playing most sports is just inferior to the rest of the world. Football – we’ll destroy anyone in the world, but probably only because nobody else except the Canadians play it. Baseball – we invented the sport, and we can’t even make the finals of an international competition. Basketball – after nearly a decade, we seem to be back on top. Golf – we’re pretty even with the rest of the world here, thanks mostly to Tiger and Phil. Soccer – we’re pretty much the laughing stock of the rest of the world.

You want to know what I think it boils down to? Teamwork, or lack-thereof. Why did the US go so long without winning the Ryder Cup in golf? We don’t know how to play as a team. Why have the Yankees been so poor when it counts for the last few years? They’re a baseball club filled with all-stars and MVPs who have no idea how to play as a team. Why did the Dallas Cowboys struggle to even make the playoffs this past year? Same story. Our American culture sets us up to aspire towards individual greatness, and as a result we suffer in team competitions.

If you’re a fan of baseball, you have to love the way the good small-market teams (the Rays in ’08, the Diamondbacks and Rockies in ’07)  play. How in the world did the Tampa Bay Rays make it to the Series last season?! They were exciting to watch. They were loose. They had fun. They played small-ball. They hit for contact with 2 strikes. They did everything, in fact, that the Japanese and Korean teams have done to dominate international play for the last few years – and I love it! I love watching the style of baseball played by these teams. I think the days of steroid-induced, ‘live ball’ fed, power baseball may be numbered. ‘Chicks dig the long-ball’ was the great commercial quote of the late ’90s and early ’00s. ‘Teams who want to win play lean and fast’ will be the new mantra, I think.

Watching the Japanese and Korean teams in the WBC is a cartoonish thing of beauty. Cartoonish in that the players bat, pitch, and sometimes even field and throw with the strangest-looking hitches, pauses, and twitches. Beautiful in how fluid it is. The body motions of the Oriental players is strangely reminiscent of the early days of the major leagues. Maybe we Americans should get back to our roots. After falling short in the ’06 WBC, the ’08 Olympics, and now the ’09 WBC, it couldn’t hurt. Kudos to Japan and Korea for setting up what should be an incredibly entertaining final tomorrow.

I’ll be supporting Korea since Japan knocked my country out of the competition. Plus I drive a Korean car…

‘spring break is broken’

Posted in Culture with tags , on March 21, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

I just watched the end of a very disturbing program on the E! channel about the spring break behavior of high school and college students. If you’re not aware of how some older students choose to spend their week off in March or April – get your head out the sand! Strictly as a culture-watcher, flip on MTV for a few minutes sometime in the next couple of weeks. What you’ll see in just a short amount of time looks like one of Paul’s lists of the products of our sinful nature in his letters – drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, orgies, etc. What is unbelievable about the whole thing is not even the fact that all those things are occurring; it’s the fact that these students seem perfectly willing to let themselves be filmed for international television doing these things.

The last segment of the show contrasted that picture with the ‘alternative spring break’ movement. Alternative spring break is where students choose to travel somewhere and do service work instead of going to South Beach or Cancun to party. One female student said the quote of the program, as far as I’m concerned. She said, “What you choose to do for spring break says a lot about who you are.” I totally agree. Another great quote from an alternative spring break-er, “Spring break is broken.” Again, total agreement from me.

So the questions become – 1) If what students do for spring break says a lot about who they are, then doesn’t what we do on a daily basis say a lot about who we are? What do we choose to do instead of serving God’s kingdom?, and 2) What can we do, as parents and youth leaders, to help our students say the right thing about themselves during spring break this year, and every other year? More importantly, how can we take part in changing the popular cultural beliefs about spring break that lead so many students to make poor decisions?

I welcome your comments on this because this is something I will be dealing with for many more years of ministry to come. It’s not that I think a bunch of my students are going to run off to Cancun for binge drinking and random sex. But the dominant spring break mindset for our culture is ‘Party party party!’, and that’s something we need to be aware of.