Andy Root & I Talk Youth Ministry

Earlier this afternoon, I was on Andy Root’s podcast talking about the 2nd chapter of The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry, his latest book co-authored by Kenda Creasy Dean. We talk about the role of imagination and storytelling within the scope of youth ministry, as well as, look for ways in which we can bring some of life’s biggest questions into the scope of God’s action and our action with youth. Some pretty important stuff. Here’s the link.

The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry-Post 3 Chapter 2 10/31 by Andrew Root LiveBlog | Blog Talk Radio.


Steve Jobs’ Final Words

In yesterday’s New York Times there was an op-ed written in by author Mona Simpson. Mona is the sister of the late tech guru Steve Jobs. She wrote a beautiful eulogy of him, which you can find in its entirety here. But the ending of it was particularly beautiful. It’s an incredible story. I’m not going to take any kind of stab about what was going on inside of his brain or what he was seeing, but I think it’s a pretty phenomenal story. This is the last little bit of her eulogy. Enjoy.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.

I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.

What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.

Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.

His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.

He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place. Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night. He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again. This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing. But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later. Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:

Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.

What are your impressions of this? What struck you? What will you take away from it?


John Caputo on the Calling of God

I do not believe in the existence of God, but in God’s insistence. I do not say God “exists,” but that God calls, God calls upon us, like an unwelcome interruption, a quiet but insistent solicitation, which may or may not come true.

In what ways do you welcome God’s call? In what ways do you resist? How can we more closely listen to the God who, not only exists but, actively calls us into ministry?


Music Monday: Avett Brothers Edition

Last Friday, my wife, Megan and I go to see The Avett Brothers live down here in Mesa. And they killed it. I mean absolutely killed it. They have so much energy and are so great live. I’d highly recommend seeing them if you get the chance. To whet your appetite, I decided they needed to be the focus of Music Monday.

Here are some of my favorites of theirs. I put a couple of their better known ones on here so you had a frame of reference.

  • “I and Love and You” is the first single of their latest disc. No matter how many times I listen to this song, it still hits hard.
  • “The Ballad of Love and Hate” was actually the first song I ever heard from them. Such great imagery. I almost used this song in my sermon on love this past weekend.
  • “January Wedding” is Megan’s favorite song. I think partly because of the line “True love is not the kind of thing you should turn down”… But that’s just me. It’s very sweet and showcases some of their incredible harmonies. Enjoy.
  • “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise” is a phenomenal song. You almost can’t help but sway with the rhythm of the beat. It also has the awesome, awesome line “Decide what to be, then go be it”.
  • When I was going around youtube looking for some different live versions I came across this sweet little version of Scott doing “Just a Closer Walk”. His daughter kind of steals it, but it’s still a very sweet video.
  • BONUS: I figured since I saw them, I should post a video from the concert. Here’s them at the Mesa Amphitheater doing a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Slip Slidin’ Away”. Actually has pretty good sound quality too.
Which one struck you as your favorite? If you are familiar with them, what are some of your favorites that I didn’t post here? They’re a great band and, like I said earlier, I would definitely recommend getting their music & finding a show close by because they are wonderful live.

Words For the Future of the Church

We had our council retreat this morning, which looked at a lot of long-term goals — 5-year plans and such. After I got home, I remembered a great poem/sermon from Oscar Romero. What follows is that meditation. It has some great images and words of challenge and hope for the church.

“A Future Not Our Own”
By Archbishop Oscar Romero

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.

The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water the seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

What images or phrases stuck out to you? What can you take away from this for your faith life today?


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