weird al’s pancreas
Thursday November 09th 2006, 10:23 am
Filed under: personal, humor

well, i can’t say i’ve ever purchased a weird al yankovic song or album in my life, until now. a co-worker tipped by off to the fact that weird al has a song on his new cd (straight outa lynwood) called ‘pancreas’, which is, in fact, about the function of the pancreas. and, given my new attention to and affection for my pancreas, i have paid the 99-cents to download it from itunes.

and here, in all their beach-boys-y glory, are the lyrics:

by Al Yankovic

Oooh ooh ooh eeoo ooh ooh
Ahh ahh ahh ahh ahh ahh-oooh oooh

I’m always thinkin’ ’bout it
I don’t know what I’d do without it
I love, I really love
My pancreas

My spleen just doesn’t matter
Don’t really care about my bladder
But I don’t leave home without
My pancreas

My pancreas is always there for me (ahh oooh ooh)
Secreting those enzymes (bop bop ba-ooh)
Secreting those hormones too
Metabolizing carbohydrates just for me

(Ooga-chaka) Ba-ba ba (ooga-chaka) ba-ba-ba ba (ooga-chaka) bah (ba-ba-ba)
My pancreas (ooga-chaka)
(Ooga-chaka) Ba-ba ba (ooga-chaka) ba-ba ba bow (ooga-chaka)
My pancreas (ooga-chaka)
(Ooga-chaka) Ba-ba ba (ooga-chaka) ba-ba-ba bow (ooga-chaka) (ba-ba-ba)
My pancreas (ooga-chaka)
(Ooga-chaka) Ba-ba ba (ooga-chaka) ba-ba ba bow (ooga-chaka)
My pancreas (ooga-chaka)

(Ooga-chaka) Ba-ba ba (ooga-chaka) ba-ba-ba ba (ooga-chaka) bah (ba-ba-ba)
My pancreas (ooga-chaka)
(Ooga-chaka) Ba-ba ba (ooga-chaka) ba-ba ba bow (ooga-chaka)
My pancreas (ooga-chaka)

My pancreas attracts every other pancreas in the universe
With a force (with a force) (with a force) proportional
To the product of their masses
And inversely (Oooh ooh-ooh ooh) proportional
To the distance between them

Woo-ooh woo-ooh woo-ooh woooo

Don’tcha you know you gotta
Flow, flow, flow pancreatic juice
Flow, flow into the duodenum

Won’tcha flow, flow, flow pancreatic juice
Flow, flow into the duodenum

Won’tcha flow, (insulin) flow, flow (glucagon) pancreatic juice
Flow, flow into the duodenum
(Comin’ from the islets of Langerhans)

Lipase, amylase and trypsin
(Won’tcha flow,) (insulin) (flow, flow) (glucagon) (pancreatic juice)
They’re gonna help with my digestion
(Flow, flow into the duodenum)
(Comin’ from the islets of Langerhans)

Lipase, amylase and trypsin
(Won’tcha flow,) (insulin) (flow, flow) (glucagon) (pancreatic juice)
They’re gonna help with my digestion
(Flow, flow into the duodenum)
(Comin’ from the islets of Langerhans)

Can’t you see I love my pancreas
(Won’tcha flow,) (insulin) (flow, flow) (glucagon) (pancreatic juice)
(Lipase, amylase and trypsin)
Golly-gee I love my pancreas
(Flow, flow into the duodenum)
(Comin’ from the islets of Langerhans)
(They’re gonna help with my digestion)

OH MY! after i prepared the first part of this post, someone sent me this wonderfully odd video of the song! (i can still barely believe i’m posting a weird al video on my blog)…

the onion sums up election news
Wednesday November 08th 2006, 11:55 am
Filed under: humor, news

what a fantastic headline from the onion today:

Politicians Sweep Midterm Elections

a teaser…

“It’s a good night to be a politician,” said Todd Akin, an officeholder from Missouri. “The American people have spoken, and they have unanimously declared: ‘We want elected officials to lead this nation.’”

a year-long speaking sabbatical
Wednesday November 08th 2006, 10:50 am
Filed under: personal

ok, time to admit some very-painful-to-admit truth: my life is completely out of control these days.

really, it’s my travel schedule. that’s it. i’m not out of control in other ways.

but my travel schedule is causing me to be somewhat disconnected from my family and from the people i work with. i love the stuff i travel for (well, most of it); and so much of it seems “essential”. i’ve had a bit of a cyclical thing going for a few years, where my travel gets to be too much, then i make an adjustment, and have a season where it’s ok again, then back around again to insanity.

this past summer, our whole family was home together one week. we were together quite a bit, so i didn’t feel overly disconnected from them, but i felt really disconnected from my ys relationships. this fall, my travel hasn’t let up much, but my family hasn’t been with me.

something had to give.

jeannie suggested a few weeks ago that i consider taking a year-long sabbatical from outside speaking engagements (optional stuff, non-ys). i instantly hated the idea, because i love being with youth workers on their turf, and i love talking about jesus and the kingdom of god to students, and… well… probably because it makes me feel important and special to do stuff like this (if i’m really honest). oh, and the extra money i make from speaking always comes in handy.

i’ve been stewing on it and praying about it and pondering it for a few weeks now. and this past week jeannie and i decided the following:

from may 1, 2007 through may 1, 2008, i will take a one-year sabbatical from speaking at events that aren’t part of my work at ys. i only have two non-ys things in this window: one is a trip to ireland, and my dad is going with me (so there’s alternative value to the trip), and one is a large youth event for churches in the florida panhandle and southern alabama, and one of the churches is my grandma’s church (so there’s alternative value to the trip).

from now to january 1, 2008, i will not entertain any speaking engagements. if someone wants me to consider something past may 1, 2008, they’ll need to wait until at least january of that year to ask, or i’ll have to decline.

we’re hoping that, after taking this full-year pause, we’ll be able to discern how much i can add back into my schedule without taxing my family or co-workers.

this is really hard for me. i don’t want to do it. i don’t like it. but i’m really convinced it’s the right thing to do. and choosing to do it feels like an issue of obedience to god and a commitment to my priorities in life.

research: Faith-based youth groups stand out in fostering teens’ growth experiences
Wednesday November 08th 2006, 10:50 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth work

here’s some fanstastic research out of the university of illinois at urbana-champaign… (ht to bob carlton)

Public release date: 1-Nov-2006
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Faith-based youth groups stand out in fostering teens’ growth experiences

Of all the organized activities teens participate in, faith-based youth groups provide the highest rates of personal and interpersonal growth experiences, according to a new University of Illinois study published in the September issue of Developmental Psychology.

Religious youth groups also stand out from the classroom, part-time jobs, and hanging out with friends as contexts in which such growth occurs, the study of over 2,000 eleventh graders reported.

“Faith-based youth groups give teens rich opportunities for identity development, learning to regulate their emotions, and developing positive relationships with peers and meaningful connections with adults,” said Reed W. Larson, the Pampered Chef, Ltd., Endowed Chair of Family Resiliency at the U of I.

The teens in the study rated faith-based youth groups higher than sports, performance and fine arts groups, academic clubs, service groups, and community-oriented activities such as scouting, said the researcher.

“Youth reported frequent personal and social growth experiences across these activities, but they reported them most often in religious youth groups,” he said.

For example, in the study, 66 percent of students in faith-based activities reported “This activity got me to thinking about who I am,” compared to 33 percent in other organized activities, he said.

Forty percent of students in faith-based groups said they “got to know people in the community,” compared to 20 percent of students in other organized activities. And 46 percent of teens in faith-based groups reported “This activity improved my relationship with my parents” versus 21 percent of students in other activities, he said.

Why are growth experiences so frequent in faith-based youth groups? “We think it is because these groups–whether at church, synagogue, or mosque–provide a positive belief system that addresses the issues that teens struggle with.

“Faith-based groups give teens the opportunity for self-exploration, discussing values, and figuring out where they fit in the world. This doesn’t happen as often in other settings,” he said.

The belief system provided by such groups acts as a “glue” that connects teens to their peers and adults in a positive way, said Larson.

“Although scholars tend to ignore the spiritual dimension of teenagers’ lives, research suggests that religion is an important part of teens’ experiences,” he added.

The statistics come from Larson’s survey of 2,280 eleventh graders in 19 diverse schools, in which Larson and collaborator David M. Hansen used laptop computers to ask the teens about their learning experiences in extracurricular activities. The study also asked teens how often they had such experiences in the classroom, at part-time jobs, and while hanging out with friends.

The six types of growth experiences surveyed were identity work, initiative development, emotional regulation, teamwork and social skills, positive relationships with peers, and positive relationships with adults.

Negative experiences, such as stress, inappropriate adult behavior, peer pressure and influence, social exclusion, and negative group dynamics, were also assessed.

“Other types of activities had high rankings in some of the personal and interpersonal skill categories but not across as broad a spectrum as faith-based activities,” Hansen said.

For example, students in organized sports reported high rates of initiative experiences; 61 percent said that they had “learned to push myself” compared to 36 percent in other activities. These students also reported high rates of learning about regulating their emotions. But youth in sports also reported higher levels of stress.

Performance and fine arts groups ranked high in initiative development, while academic clubs and organizations scored significantly lower than other activities in four of the six categories.

All types of organized activities ranked higher in the growth experiences surveyed than the youths’ school classes.

“Schools have to place so much emphasis now on developing cognitive skills that they’re less able to provide some of these other types of learning experiences,” Larson said.

“But these types of personal and interpersonal growth are very important to raising a family and being a contributing member of the community. Having emotional intelligence, being able to work in a team, and being able to manage your emotions in a group setting are skills that employers are looking for,” he said.

Yet even working part-time didn’t provide these experiences as much as faith-based activities, and 21 percent of working students said their jobs “stressed them out.”

“Hanging out with friends” also provided learning experiences across the spectrum, but it too was associated with more negative experiences,” said Larson. “For example, 18 percent of teens reported of their time with friends: ‘Youth in this activity got me into drinking alcohol or using drugs.’”

Larson and Hansen from the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois and Giovanni Moneta of London Metropolitan University co-authored the article. The study was funded by the William T. Grant Foundation.

right-brain reflections
Tuesday November 07th 2006, 12:30 pm
Filed under: church, thinking..., books, emerging church, emergent

a few times now i’ve referenced daniel pink’s book as one of the more significant books i’ve read in the past couple years. the book is about the world-wide shift from a dominant reliance on left-brain thinking and skills (and a dominant valuing of those) to the rise, at least in the states, of an era of right-brain thinking and skills. fascinating stuff. i posted about it a few times:

left-brain apologetics (btw, not sure i agree with everything i wrote in this post — brent kunkle of str has helped shift my thinking a bit)
a fun little right-brain exercise
the world in 10 years

a while back, i’d pulled out two quotes i really enjoyed and typed them into a place-holder post, which has been sitting in my admin area ever since. time to get ‘em out there…

the guy who invented the wheel was an idiot. the guy who invented the other three, he was a genius.
(sid caesar, quoted in ‘a whole new mind’)

i love this semi-absurd quote. and it smacks of mission to me. i have really enjoyed noticing, in the past two or three years, that the definition wars over emerging/emergent seem to be somewhat dying down. i think a primary reason for this is that most of the practitioners in the u.s. emerging church scene are now well past the deconstruction phase of post-evangelicalism and well into figuring out how to be the church in the communities to which they’ve been called. seems like u.k. and n.z. (and maybe aussie) emerging expressions had a jump on this, as there wasn’t as much of a need for deconstruction — the cultures of those countries had already done that work (i’m oversimplifying a bit, of course).

not that good church leadership is all about the practical. in fact, practical only reflects our theology (whether intentionally or not). but a theological commitment to a missional ecclesiology is — wonderfully, i believe — being fleshed out in varied expressions all over the world with much less of a “look how edgy we are; you should book me to speak at your event” mentality. it’s just groups of jesus-followers figuring out to to add three more wheels. it’s praxis-ing wonderful single-wheel theology.

here’s another quote…

sidney harman, the eightysomething multimillionaire ceo of a stereo components company says he doesn’t find it all that valuable to hire mbas. instead, “i say, ‘give me some poets as managers.’ poets are our original systems thinkers. they contemplate the world in which we live and feel obliged to interpret, and give expression to it in the way that makes the reader understand how that world turns. poets, those unheralded systems thinkers, are our true digital thinkers. it is from their midst that i believe we will draw tomorrow’s new business leaders.”

and tomorrow’s church leaders, i say. seems this truth was completely understood in the OT and NT periods (well, moreso in the OT than in the less-than-poetic pauline era that followed jesus). so much to say — so much to extrapolate…

this is why seminaries need to change (and some are). we’ve taught bible and theology (and pastoring) like a spiritual mba program. that wasn’t useless. it just doesn’t produce the best leaders (it produces information repositories, not wise leaders who know how to think systemically and exegete culture).

this is why we in the church need to move beyond our obsessions with
mechanization and control and simple,
and more fully embrace
fluid and complex and messy.

this is why our preaching and teaching and evangelism need to be more about story-telling than argument-building.

this is why i’m trying to read as broadly as possible — fiction, science, history, graphic novels, humor, spiritual memiors, business/leadership/marketing, christitan thought and living, and more. i find that reading widely is akin to soaking in poetry — it helps me think more creatively and begin to see systemic implications and patterns.

anaheim NYWC blog round-up
Tuesday November 07th 2006, 11:29 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, blogs, youth work

one last time, here’s the final list of bloggers i was following during the anaheim convention. i removed those who didn’t post after all, and added a few more to the list as i found them…

andrew seely
ryan nielsen
josh johnson
ty hogue
friar tuck
joshua michael
d’caffeinated pickle
mike rose
josh cook
lars rood
mike king

lilly lewin
tony jones

thoughts for parents of young teens, episode 3
Monday November 06th 2006, 1:13 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, family, youth work

youth workers, feel free to copy and paste (or email) this series in a parent newsletter or email. i’d appreciate a credit line, but otherwise, go for it…

Bored with Church and God

When your kid was 9, he loved going to church, loved his Sunday school class, and seemed to have a real relationship with God.

But now, as a young teen, he seems bored. Maybe he’s even expressed this: “Church is boring; I don’t want to go.”

This is a natural occurrence in the lives of young teens. But the reasoning behind this boredom isn’t the same for every child. Here are a few possibilities:

Not Connected
Children (prior to the teen years) need fewer reasons to find church or Christianity engaging. A few fun moments in Sunday school or the reality of Christ in their parents’ lives can be enough. But young teens start to perceive a disconnect (if one exists) between real life and “church-world.” If they don’t sense a relational connection with people in the church (youth group leaders, other kids, adults in the church), it’s easy for them to make the small leap to boredom.

Young teens have a passionate need to be valued and noticed. Any place that doesn’t validate who they are as individuals, any place where they don’t feel known, can quickly feel awkward or boring to them.

Unless your family happens to attend a church with worship and sermons that happen to connect with your young teen (this isn’t common, and isn’t normally the aim of most churches), attending church can begin to feel like a monumental waste of time to young teens – even if they still have an active faith in God.

The forms most churches use (in song, spoken word and format) are pretty foreign to the world of a teenager. Frankly, they’re often pretty foreign to the world of adults too! But the variance from “church-world” to the world of adults is almost always less than to the world of teens.

Faith System Disconnect
Probably the most common, and most healthy reason for young teens to feel boredom is their developmental need to grow up in faith. Pre-teens and children approach faith issues, obviously, with the mind of a child. But a young teen’s new ability to grasp (or at least entertain) abstract ideas begs all their concrete spiritual conclusions and understandings into question.

This shift in thinking ability has enormous spiritual implications for young teens, because pretty much everything we talk about at church, or in relation to faith in God, is abstract. Its like kids have a backpack of faith system “bits.” And during their young teen years, situations arise that call these bits to the forefront. When it becomes obvious to a teen that their childhood spiritual answer to a given situation or question doesn’t offer a strong enough answer anymore, they are forced to ignore this issue or struggle to allow their beliefs to evolve into a more adult form.

Don’t be freaked out by this process. Don’t be thrown by your teen’s expression of boredom. Instead, find constructive ways to come alongside her during this transition time of life.

Processing Boredom with Your Young Teen
Here are some ideas for coming alongside your young teen and her spiritual boredom:
Live it out. If your teen sees a vibrant and real faith being lived out day-to-day in your life (and being verbally expressed also), it will go a long ways toward helping him consider what an adult faith system should look like.
Talk about it. Our natural tendency is to lecture our kids about why they’re bored (“you need to do this”). Instead, work to create open lines of communication about faith and church. Process your child’s questions and reservations without jumping to easy answers.
Look for relational connections. Help your teen be (or stay) connected to the people of the church, not just the program. Look for creative ways to foster these relationships – with their peers and with other adults who will care about them.
Debrief. After a church service or youth group meeting, talk about what went on. Be careful that this doesn’t come across as a test. Helping your teen see the life-connection between what’s talked about at church and their world is a wonderful way to encourage the growth of their faith.

general sessions
Monday November 06th 2006, 1:13 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, youth work

we don’t tell the general session speakers at the national youth workers conventions what to speak about. all we tell them is that we don’t want it to be ‘training’ — we want them to speak to the youth workers soul. so it’s amazing when multiple sessions seem to fit together like they were planned.

frankly, if we’d tried to plan this, it wouldn’t be such a beautiful fit. clearly, it’s a god-planning thing.

like this:

session 1, friday afternoon: kenda dean talked about learning theology from our students, allowing god to speak to us through our students. i don’t know that she mentioned ‘humility’, but it was a clear theme.

[i missed efrem smith’s message friday night.]

session 3, saturday morning: matthew barnett talked about god defining success for us, and our only commitment being to bless those around us. it was a talk about humility and being broken of arrogance.

session 4, saturday evening: mike pilavachi talked about being humbled.

session 5, sunday morning: shane claiborne talked about living out our faith completely, giving everything we have in the pursuit of loving others.

[i missed philip yancey’s talk this afternoon.]

session 7, monday morning (later today): i’m talking about arrogance and humility in youth ministry.

a mainline united methodist ivy league professor, an assemblies of god pastor, a british charismatic anglican youth ministry leader, an urban missionary, and me. somehow all bringing different perspectives on the same theme. i just love that. it’s got god fingerprints all over it.

i don’t quite understand how this works
Sunday November 05th 2006, 12:16 pm
Filed under: faith, personal

ran into tony campolo yesterday in a hallway at the convention center. he grabbed me and said, “hey, i wanted to tell you that i felt compelled to pray for you this past weekend.”

i was in the hospital on saturday, with acute pancreatitus.

i love that. i mean, it’s pretty cool that god would nudge anyone’s heart to pray for me in a time of need, let alone tony campolo.

but, why? i mean, it doesn’t seem god needs that prayer. so is it purely to bless us? i mean — in this case, it was a blessing because both tony and i found out. but many time this happens, there’s no “finding out”. if tony and i hadn’t been at this convention together, he wouldn’t have called me to tell me — i wouldn’t have known he was praying for me, and he wouldn’t have known why it was timely.

who wouldn’t want a dr. laura doll?
Sunday November 05th 2006, 12:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

really. i’m serious. it’s a dr. laura doll.









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