Thursday, February 28, 2008

Si, Se Puede!

Sorry for all the videos and pics lately, but this video is too good not to share. I guess it shows my bias in a candidate, but is inspiring regardless of your political views. "Si, Se Puede" everyone!

Awkward Pic

I'm not really sure what to make of this picture. McCain looks like he just woke up from a bad dream and ran into "Papa George's" room to cuddle. Maybe he is trying to get W's endorsement. Not really sure. Take it for what you want.

Here's my caption for the pic:

"Hey your hand or it's going on the 'Axis of Evil'.

Feel free to write your own caption in the comment section of this entry. Let's see who is the most creative!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Weird Video

This is a shocking video I came across of a Baptist preacher rant (way out of context) about an obscure Old Testament passage. I couldn't stop laughing. Enjoy the shock value!

A Sweet Video

This is an inspiring Rob Bell video I came across today. I am sort of obsessed with the man, so I thought I would share his thoughts with you all. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I AM Legend

I am a self-proclaimed lover of movies, but anytime you hear me talk about a movie I have recently viewed, it will most likely be old news to most of the world...because I am cheap. I very rarely see a film in our expensive theater when it first premiers, instead opting to sink into the 30-year-old seat of our 'cheap theater'.

My wife and I saw the movie "I AM Legend" on Friday night and I have been thinking about it ever since. It was a very suspenseful movie (a bonus for me as Mandy and I cuddled while she hid her face in my shoulder for the scary scenes) and had an interesting plot, but I felt unsure as to my opinion after it's culmination. I was left with a lot of unknowns and wasn't clear if I approved quite yet. The more I think about this flick, though, the more impressed I am with it.

The movie has very clear spiritual implications as the theme of Jesus Christ runs through the entire plot line. In short: the world had fallen into a time of "darkness" as humanity had thought they could control the metaphysical, the transcendent, but proved themselves wrong. In the end, the "Savior's" blood saves the world from it's ultimate demise as "light overtakes the darkness".

Even the title of the film seems to have a biblical ring to it. After the movie was over I couldn't figure out why it was titled "I AM Legend", but after thinking through the messianic theme of the movie, the reasoning dawned on me. The movie is the 'Story of God'. In Exodus 3 God tells Moses that His name is simply "I AM" (all CAPS). Also, a legend is simply another word for a story. So, the title really refers to the "Story of God'.

I highly recommend this movie and look forward to watching it again myself as I look for other ways in which the "story of God" appears throughout this film.

Friday, February 22, 2008

50 Facts...

The other night I ventured to Barnes and Noble to spend some time reading without having to purchase any literature. There are a couple of books that I would like to read but don't want to buy, so I plan on just reading them over a cup of hot chocolate and a giant cookie over the next few months. One of the books is Barack Obama's new book "The Audacity of Hope", while the other is the book recently made into movie, "Into the Wild," by Jon Krakauer.

On my way to the bookshelf to pick up Obama's book, however, I stumbled upon an interesting looking read called "50 Facts that Should Change the World", by Jessica Williams (this link allows you to read the book word for word on the internet). This was a great read, full of incredibly interesting and monumentally important facts about the world we live in. Some of the facts were simply humorous and told a story about our current lifestyles, like "There are 161 Starbucks in a 5 mile radius from one London intersection." This book is not a "Christian" book, but many of the facts really made me think about the trends of our world and what the church should be doing about them. Here are some examples:
  • Every cow in the European Union is subsidized by $2.50 a day. That's more than what 75% of Africans have to live on
  • One in five of the world's people live on less than $1 a day
  • There are 67,000 people employed in the lobbying industry in Washington DC--125 for each elected member of Congress
  • Everyday, one in five of the world's population--some 800 million people--go hungry
  • 150,000 people die every year from global warming
I believe that God's heart breaks at the truth of these statements and that the gospel of Jesus Christ really does have something to say about falsifying each fact. I am so excited to be going to a school where these types of statistics are important to study because of the belief that the gospel really can change the world. May we partner with God in His redemptive work in the world and not simply add to the problems.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Last night I had the task of trying to tackle the theme of 'Faith vs. Works' in the course of a 7-10 minute sermon. Not an easy challenge. Growing up in a staunch Conservative Evangelical home, my background immediately tells me that it is by faith that we are saved and that works has nothing to do with our salvation. I would quickly quote Ephesians 2:8-9 and not think twice about our actions.

I'm not that guy anymore though. While I definitely agree we are saved by grace, the Bible is full of the beautiful mystery of paradox and tension and the church too quickly dismisses this mystery in an attempt to explain away that which we don't understand. In titling my sermon last night, I simply removed the spaces and the '&' from 'Faith & Works'. We need to see the two as one and the same. As my friend Zach says, "Faith is a way of life that we live into." Faith isn't just a set of beliefs or presumptions that we is an entire way of living and breathing and having our being. As The Message paraphrases James 2:20, "Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?" The idea of separating the two is "outrageous nonsense."

Christ calls us to far more than than a life of charity. Christ calls us to a life of compassion. Christ is looking for a holistic approach to life and faith where everything we belief has everything to do with the way we live our lives. May we be people who are perfectly comfortable living in the mystery of Christ. May we embrace the tension and paradox of a life of faith and realize it can't be separated from the life lived out. May our heart slowly become one with the strong, yet broken, heart of God.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another Ski Trip...All Tired Out

One of the perks of being a youth pastor are all the trips you get to take with the students in the youth group. This weekend I was FORCED to take 13 of my students on a ski trip to the Black Hills. We had a blast! It was so great to see them try things they had never done before and the proud look they had when they succeeded. These times away from the everyday routine are such a great time to think deeply about life and I always cherish the trips with my students.

My body, however, did not enjoy the trip quite as much. I still feel young, as I am only 25, but my body just doesn't recuperate the way it used to. Here I am on Tuesday afternoon and I am still feeling the effects of this weekend's activities 3 days later. I had come home from the Black Hills on Wednesday night late and returned on Friday afternoon. After skiing all day Saturday I had to drive 6 hours home through bad road conditions and I am still feeling tired today. I'm too young to be feeling this old! Pray for my body!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Great Ski Trip

For those who know me, you know that snow skiing is one of my favorite activities in the world. However, living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has greatly limited my ability to take part in this cherished pastime. About once a winter I get the opportunity to take a big ski trip and I am forced to savor each and every run as I never know when my next chance to ski will come.

The past 2 days was that trip. Three friends and I traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota to ski for 2 days. We spent one day at Terry Peak Ski Area and one day at Deer Mountain Ski Area, basking in the wonderful, fresh snow from our recent storm.

It was a great time to reconnect with God and with friends in our enjoyment of nature. It was a trip full of laughter and fun, discussion and dialog, the replenishment of my soul. I am so grateful for these times of reconnection and cannot wait for my next ski trip (tomorrow actually).

P.S. My coveted landing of a 360 has still yet to be mastered...but hopefully on Saturday!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Recent Movies

My wife and I are sort of movie junkies. We find ourselves watching all sorts of movies, including those with no inherent value, only meant to entertain, but it has been nice lately to see a few films that really make you think and challenge your worldview.

"Into the Wild"

One of those recent films was the real-life story of Chris McCandless, "Into the Wild." This was a great story of a 20-something who was tired of the ordinary lifestyle and desired to experience the fullness that life has to offer. After college graduation he sold all he owned, donated his savings to a charity, and took to the road with only the clothes on his back. The lessons he learned and taught by simply engaging in people's stories touched my heart and reaffirmed my call to a life of ministry. May we all be so daring as to abandon the trappings of this world and experience the full, abundant life Christ has to offer. May we understand what Chris finally grasps in the end, that "Happiness is only real when shared."

"Charlie Wilson's War"

"Charlie Wilson's War" was another great film that left you thinking at the end of the movie. Charlie had worked for years to try and make a difference through war, and in the end was left wondering if he had accomplished anything of value. It made me think about the war we are currently engaged in here in America. It made me think about war in general. Are we really accomplishing anything? Is there another way of ending terrorism in the world? Is war ever the solution? Have we simply slipped into the myth of redemptive violence?

I by no means feel I have all the answers but I feel like things must change. I pray that we will see radical changes throughout the world when it comes to conflict. We need leaders, in churches and the White House, that will stand up and resist the evils of this world and will strive for justice. We need leaders who will care about the things God cares about. We need leaders who will be angry about the right things and will be fighting the right battles. May we join God in his effort to put this world back together. May we support God's cause and not oppose it.

Political Insight

Throughout our voting career, my wife and I have been the type that have not been incredibly informed and tend to lean toward our conservative Christian upbringing when it comes to filling out the ballot. So this year we have vowed to take the 2008 election seriously and be ready to make our voice count. We have found ourselves glued to CNN, watching nearly every debate.

The irony for me is that it is not usually the Republican debates that we are tuning in to. I am a registered Republican and still find the issues of the Republican ticket important, but my heart is pulled toward the Democratic Party and the things they are trying to accomplish in this world. Mandy and I recently took this online quiz ( to find out which candidate you are most closely affiliated, and 5 out of the top 6 for me were Democratic candidates. I am still surprised that this is happening, but I am thankful that Mandy and I are finally thinking for ourselves. I can't wait for November.

P.S. Check out that link. It is a great site to explore the issues of this election and to get more info about each candidate.