Archive for August, 2011


Todays writing assignment was not possible because it asked for me to look at a dictionary. Having already memorized the whole thing, I threw it out years ago. In reality, I go online if I need something defined, so practically the assignments parameters were beyond my control.

My new assignment I’m self directing is to remember a recent writing thrust requested by YouthWorker Journal. I have joined their “writers only” email list, as I would be interested in contributing to their periodical in the future.

If I recall correctly, they recently asked potential writers to write on the subject of worship. More specifically, “How do you gets teens to worship?”

A decade ago I became the youth pastor at a church that had not put any value into worship outside of the primary worship service containing adults. As such, most teens had the working assumption that our youth meetings would be 90% for games, and 10% for a time when a youth leader would get spiritual and blather on for a whole 10-15 minutes about something God related. They might even open a Bible. Maybe.
One of the early changes we made was to start discussing and demonstrating why worship was a value we needed to have followers of Christ. This had to happen on many levels, from head, to heart, to hand.
HEAD We took time in adult leader meetings and in teen leader meetings to discuss scriptural reasons why we should worship. This was not just a dictorially driven discussion, but a fresh and honest interaction with scripture and each other.
HEART We worshiped together as leadership teams, by bringing in capable experienced worship leaders that would help bring us to a collective and personal point of intentional times of worship. By doing it as a team, the “buy in” by the leaders made the eventual transition in large group youth times less of an unnatural hiccup.
HAND. There were musicians in the church, teens and adults. It was not an overnight process, but we slowly invited many of them in to help lead the teens in worship. Usually these were short-term invitations. But with each successive musicians and worship leader, we began to get a stronger sense of who might be able to skillfully lead our group into regular times of worship. THEN WE….

time up



My instructions is to write for 15 minutes on picture #14 from a photo album. Write on all the feelingsit makes me feel without censorship.

One of the iconic buildings in the Chicago skyline was featured in an 80’s movie called, “Adventures in babysitting.” I don’t really remember much about the movie, except some of the kids end up on the side of the building in the climax. The building iscommonly referred to as the “Diamond Building,” which is currently owned by Smurfit-stone.

My picture #14 features my best friend Kevin Stanfield standing in Millennium park, with the Diamond Building behind him in the background. I love this picture for a variety of reasons:
– It’s Chicago. I have similar pictures of each of my children standing in approximately the same spot with same background.
– It’s Kevin. This guy has stuck with me as one of my closest friends for 20 years. We were in each other’s weddings. I’ve visited him on the mission field in Africa. He is on my Board of Directors with Exago (a ministry I helped launch).
– It was a special trip. Kevin and I don’t usually get much time together outside of Skype. When your best friend lives in Africa and you live in Arkansas, getting coffee or doing just about any other thing together is impossible most of the time. Kevin and I intentionally planned to meet in Chicago in early July, as he was on a brief trip back to the U.S. We had an amazing time for eating, hanging out, seeing U2 in concert a Soldier Field, and numerous other epic times together that coincided with deep conversation about life, marriage, fatherhood, and ministry.

This particular trip to Chicago was Kevin’s first experience in visiting Millennium park. He used to live in the city with his wife Tonya, but that was while he was a student at Moody Bible Institute in the early 1990’s. Millennium Park wasn’t actually built until 10 years later. In classic Chicago fashion, it was over budget, over time, with scandelous corruption all over the place. But the end product is gorgeous. There is an open air band shell area i the park, a reflection pool, and a huge bean shaped mirror ball that draws tourists and city residents alike. It’s an amazing place. To be in amazing place like that with my closest friend for a few days, was nourishment to my soul.

That may sound like overstating, but I had just finished spending much of the previous couple of months ministering to my wife Marque. She has serious health problems, so it was an incredible change of pace to hang out with Kevin in Chicago, rather than hanging out at the hospitals feelings helpless to do much more than pray and love on my wife.

15 minutes up.


My instruction is to write for 15 minutes on a prompt, and to NOT edit it.  The prompt states that I need to recall as much detail as I can about an object in the room, and I’m not looking at it.  I haven’t looked at it intentionally today either.


Behind me and on a side wall is a poster of Mike Ditka.  It’s there because I am sitting in my son’s room, and it happens to be heavily decorated in Chicago Bears colors, logos, and posters.  Mike Ditka was the head coach of what was probably the greatest football team of all-time, the 1985-1986 Chicago Bears. 


The poster is laminated because at one time it was mine.  If I remember correctly, it was on my wall in my bedroom about 25 years ago too. My wife laminated it to protect it.


The poster features the word DITKA in bolded letters that are orange around the edges, but white in the middle.  It also has a photo of him holding up a fist in a menacing manner, with a snarky look on his mustached face. His hand has his Super Bowl ring on it too.  It was definitely a picture that was posed for, as there is some sort of grayish-blue backdrop behind him, like what one might see in a photography studio.


Ditka is wearing a blue sweater over a dress shirt with a dark tie.  The sweater is the color of the navy blue that is similar to what the actual Chicago Bears wear in their NFL games.  The sweater also has white block letters that say “BEARS,” and there is some orange trim that is the same color as what they have on their uniforms as well.


Mike Ditka is caucasian, has piercing blue eyes, and his hair is short brown but combed back in a very typical old school manner. He has a thick brown mustache, which was parodied as on a Saturday Night Live skit that featured the actors all wearing similar mustaches while they imbibed and talked at length about “Da Bears.” 


As I think deeper about the color scheme of the poster, I recall that I think his shirt may have had a slight pinstripe to it.  Also, the edges of the poster are framed in block white, which pulls in various elements of the whole.


If I were to describe the feeling the poster gave me as teenager, it was one of pride and arrogance that we Chicago fans (and our team) was the best in the world, and we knew it.  There is an air of, “anyone, any team, any time…we will own you.”  And to be honest, I still have that illogical sense of confidence about Chicago teams.  This poster, along with other ones that were on my wall (Jim McMahon, Walter Payton, William Perry, The Black and Blues Brothers) all contributed to this overreaching confidence in all things Chicago from an early age.  And now, it’s on my kids wall.  Interesting.


15 minutes up.


I dont’ have fifteen minutes to type away at the moment, but I want to get started. I’m glad that Patti and I finally have been able to connect despite the medical drama in our life. I’m looking forward to improving my writing abilities, because currently I feel inadequate.
Those feelings are largely based on a lack of passion for writing. It seems that usually when I write, it’s out of professional need. I would love if writing was a more natural flow and something I enjoyed doing at rate greater than 140 characters…but it isn’t. Me theory behind this is speed. My brain works much quicker than my fingers, and I’m impatient to get it out when I have something to say. Which is normal. But I need to learn to tricks to finding a good rhythm to writing that can allow for me to use the medium for professional if not personal communication and development.
We will see how it all works out, but I’m glad to get started.