Randy's Ramblings

Monday, March 31, 2003

We're Baaack!
Well, we made it back safely from California! Our flight finally arrived in Grand Rapids at 1:15am today.. I guess it was today.. seems like a long time ago now. We got home around 2:00am, made it to bed around 2:30am. I finally made it into the office at about 11:00am today and stumbled around in a daze most of the day! Hopefully tomorrow will be a little better! The conference was great, although it was, in Doug Fields' words, "like drinking from a fire hose." They pack about 6 weeks worth of information into 3 days. The most beneficial time for me was actually attending their Jr. High program on Saturday night. It was good to just see how their program works and what types of things they do. It's one thing to talk about it - it's another thing entirely to see it happen. Sorry for the lack of posts, but my brain was mush for most of the week...

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Leighton Ford addresses three questions on the War with Iraq...
In the weeks since I have wrestled with the question of this war, and its moral defensibility. I had thought of writing an open letter to the president. But he has more than enough advice! So instead I write this to you, as young pastors, evangelists, and mission leaders to ask you to confront honestly and prayerfully three questions that we who follow Jesus should be asking of ourselves and those we lead. Keep reading...

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

wwiTV.com - Your guide to Internet TV
If you have a broadband connection and you're a news junkie like myself, you're going to love this website! Watch television feeds from over 600 stations all over the world!

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Here we are, in Sunny California...
We made it! It was quite an unusual day of flying - all of our flights were on time and we arrived at LAX about 30 minutes EARLY! When we arrived, we walked to the baggage claim area and had our bags in about 5 minutes. We took a shuttle to the car rental facility and were on the road by 2:30pm local time! We are staying at the Crowne Plaza in Irvine, CA and are planning for a great week!

On the Road...
Becky and I are off to the airport this morning. We are headed to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California for the annual Purpose Driven Youth Ministry Conference. Our plane leaves from Grand Rapids, MI at 10:35am and, after a brief layover in Cincinnati, we arrive in Los Angeles at 2:20pm Pacific Time. We're looking forward to some time away, and I'm looking forward to hanging out with some other youth workers from around the country. Not sure how much I'll post this week, we'll be gone until LATE Sunday night, maybe an audio post or two. Have a great week - talk to y'all when we get back!

Monday, March 24, 2003

Re-Imagining Youth Ministry
I have just joined a group blog dealing with the topic of rethinking youth ministry. It is a bit of an experiment to see how the whole 'group blogging' experience will work, but I look forward to hearing others' ideas on where youth ministry is going in their setting and to being challenged to rethink my own ideas about youth ministry.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Watching the War LIVE
This is a new experience for us all - watching a war on live television. Of course, I wonder if Americans would accept anything less than live coverage, with our insatiable appetite for "Reality TV." For those of you who know me, you know that I am a self-proclaimed 'news junkie' and that I spend a lot of time following current events on radio, television and the internet.

I am not quite sure what to do with this new type of war journalism. On one hand, the whole idea is exciting that we could have real-time updates on what is going on inside of Iraq during this conflict. Seeing and hearing the explosions, listening to embedded reporters and following our troops into battle is amazing and exciting. On the other hand, I wonder at what point we know too much. Is it necessary for us to know exactly what's going on when it happens? Would it be so bad to get an update of the day's activities on the nightly news? And there are other questions that arise from live reports: What are those explosions that we see in Baghdad? Who really set the oil rigs on fire? What building is that on fire?

I suppose as we continue on with Operation Iraqi Freedom, we'll experience war on live television - and when it's all over we'll hear about the pros and cons of seeing it all as it happened. I hope it's not just another way to feed the American appetite for "Reality TV."

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Powered by audblogBlogging: Talk it or type it?? Click here to listen.

The Arab World Tunes In
Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, is by far the most powerful, with some 35 million viewers. It still reflects an Arab point of view, but it is far more independent than the old government-controlled broadcasters that dominated the Middle East until a few years ago. In addition, CNN has expanded its own reach. The network estimates it now has viewers in 10 million households in the region.
As a result of this widespread dissemination of information, the fundamental structure of Middle East politics has been altered, if not over-hauled. Today, political pressure develops quickly and independently from the ground up, not just from the top down, a dramatic difference from a decade ago.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Do Games Still Work? : Youth Specialties
The best way to ruin a game is to tell kids that you're going to play one! Youth groups across the nation consistently use this pathetic transition: "Okay, we're going to play a mixer now!" But does the average junior higher off the street know what a mixer is? Yeah! It's the thing you use to stir cake mix!

This is a great article about the Seven Deadly Sins of leading games for youth ministry. Great stuff for anyone who works with students!

Talk dirty to me...

It was time again for the "Sex Talk" with our Sr. High students at GLCC tonight. These guys have heard this stuff so much; 4 or 5 years of sex ed at school, countless talks at church, and who knows what they hear at home. We know they hear about pregnancy, STDs and abortion - all the physical stuff - so we decided to tackle the emotional consequences of inappropriate sexual relationships.

It went well; I took the guys and my wife took the girls. Believe it or not, the guys actually talked!! Of course, the first question was the obligatory, "How far is too far?" But hey, I'm not complaining - any time you can get guys to actually talk openly about sex it's something close to miraculous. We had some good discussion - I hit really hard on pornography because it is becoming such a huge problem, especially with the easy access to online porn. I read today on the XXXChurch website that the typical consumer of online porn is 12-17 year-old boys - unbelievable!

No more sex talks for a while... I can't wait until my daughter reaches that age...

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Powered by audblogWeekend Update - Click here to listen.

: : : x x x c h u r c h . c o m : : :

Pornography is a huge issue in our society - especially among Christians. Finally, there are Christians willing to take on this monster. Kudos to these two pastors leading this ground-breaking ministry fighting pornography on the web.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Powered by audblogAudio Post - Click here to listen!

Friday, March 14, 2003

HIV, Bono and Christianity Today
What bothers me is how some Christians insist on putting Bono through some sort of "Christian-authenticity" test. Is her or isn't he a believer? It reminds me of those how-to-tell-if-he-really-loves-you quizzes advertised on magazine covers you stare at blankly while waiting in line at the supermarket. So you can imagine my surprise at seeing something similar in a recent issue of Christianity Today.

All this talk about war makes people nervous. I'm a news junkie, so trying to keep track of all of the political posturing going on over the past few weeks has made my head spin. I like to think that I can listen to all of the evidence and come up with a logical solution. I like to pretend that there is a simpe answer to this world crisis. But I know better. So I ask myself, "Where do I stand on this issue?" I don't think that I've really come to a conclusion, but here are some thougths that I'm pretty solid on:

All people are created by God and are equally valuable to Him.
God created us in His image and He loves us. No person has the right to take the life of another person, regardless of their differences.

There is a time for everything - including war.
"..a time for war and a time for peace." There comes a time when war is necessary - either it is impossible to avoid, or the costs of NOT going to war greatly outweigh the costs of going to war. I'm glad that I'm not the one that has to make that decision...

God is still in charge.
Sometimes, when things get crazy, I wonder if God is on vacation and has given control of the world to some carefree angel. But I know better. I can't see the big picture, I am stuck looking at whatever is in my limited field of vision. God not only SEES the whole picture - He CREATED it!! He controls it and He knows a lot more about it than I ever will.

Prayer is powerful.
Now is the time to pray for George W. Bush. Now is the time to pray for Saddam Hussein. Now is the time to pray for world leaders, United Nations delegates, North Korean leaders, American soldiers around the world, Iraqi citizens, Israelis, Palestinians, Serbs, France, Germany and Russia. God hears our prayers. God is in control. "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

I worry sometimes when I listen to the reports from Iraq and when I listen to the debates of the United Nations. But I know that it is completely out of my control and I've learned what to do about things that are out of my control: Pray.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

wzzm13.com - WZZM 13 News Coverage
Grand Rapids-School officials have solved the mystery of a bag of marijuana that ended up on the court during a basketball game.

It's Relationships, Stupid

This is nothing NEW - but we lose sight of it all to often...

I have been thinking a lot lately about the changes that we are making to the youth ministry here at GLCC and wondering how we can make these changes last. Not that the programs have to last forever, but that the ideas and principles that we put into motion will have a lasting impact on the students that we minister to. I believe that there are three components of a healthy ministry that we need to consider in all that we do. I list them here in the order of their priority.

  • Relationships:
    Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. Being a Christian is about having a relationship with the living God. Before we think about anything else, we need to think about the relationships that we are establishing with students and the relationships that we are asking them to establish. If we are not aware of the relational nature of youth ministry and the importance of the relationships developed here, we are spinning our wheels and going nowhere.

  • Purpose:
    God clearly lays out the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, service and evangelism in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. All that we do should be an attempt to live out one of these five purposes. If we have an event or a program that is not achieving one of these purposes then we are putting our energy into something that serves no purpose.

  • Programs:
    Programs are a tool to achieve relationships and purpose. We need to create programs which provide a way for us to establish healthy relationships with students and to fulfill God's purpose in our lives. There is no rule book on how often a program should take place or what components of a program need to be in place for success. The intended relationships and purpose will determine the content of the program.

Too often, we put programs first. Programs are an important piece of the ministry puzzle, but they are a TOOL to achieve more important ends. We should not have a program in place because 'we've always met at that time' or because it has been on the calendar for the past five years. All that we do should come from a desire to build relationships with students and to live out God’s purposes in our lives.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Global Nomads Group: fostering dialogue and understanding among the world's youth
Global Nomads Group is a non- profit organization dedicated to heightening children's understanding and appreciation for the world and its people. Using a combination of Live satellite broadcasting and videoconferencing, GNG brings youth together face-to-face to meet across cultural and national boundaries to discuss world issues that affect and unite us all.

Bill Wilson Survives Robbery, Shooting
Crediting God for saving his life, inner-city children's ministry pioneer Bill Wilson is recovering from a gunshot wound after being assaulted and robbed at gunpoint. The president of Metro Ministries International (MMI) was making his regular visit to the homeless on Wednesday night, when he was accosted by two men near a Brooklyn, N.Y., waterfront.

Friday, March 07, 2003

TechTV | Weapons Go From Smart To Brilliant
According to Pike, "the military is now linked together by e-mail, internal Web sites, chat rooms and video conferencing." And just as such digital connectivity has helped the corporate world conduct business more efficiently, it will help US-led forces wage war faster. MORE

Monday, March 03, 2003

CNN.com - Pledge ban set for March 10 in nine states - Mar. 3, 2003
Public schools with some 9.6 million students in nine states have until March 10 to stop reciting the pledge after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals backed its prior ruling that the words "under God" in the pledge are a government endorsement of religion.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Switchfoot in Concert - Orlando, Florida, 2/27/2003
There was no call for salvation, no complete Gospel delivery and yet I truly believe God moved tonight. I have to believe this is good, that tonight mattered. Tonight was important. And it was opening night. And I am excited once again.