Friday, February 29, 2008

New Kittens... Zelda and "Yet Unnamed"

Jackie and I spent about an hour with 2 kittens that we are planning to adopt in the next 10 days or so. Ever since we had to put Spot down, it's been pretty empty around here.

We have visited several animal shelters, had several conversations with Julie Brooks who works with an animal rescue organization in the area and had a couple of other good leads. But nothing concrete had ever worked out.

Well, being gone over the weekend, Jackie was lonely and without Spot in the apartment made it worse. So she spent some time at Petsmart playing with the kittens that are there for adoption. While she was there, she met a lady with H.E.L.P.S., a local animal rescue mission, that had three all black 5 or 6 month old kittens up for adoption. They aren't spayed yet. And we would like to have our's front paw declawed (keeps the furniture looking like furniture).

So, we went over and visited them for about an hour last night. They are great! We had a blast playing with them. They are all very playful and very great kittens. We are planning to adopt 2 of the 3... Currently their names are Delilah and Rosie... Daisy is the other kitten's name but she is a little more independent and so we are planning to take the two that are a little closer. We would take all three... but our apartment complex will only allow us to have two. I'm planning to rename Delilah as Zelda (I just kinda dig that name) and Jackie is thinking about what to rename her's.

They are going to the vet today for their shots. If everything is well, they will get scheduled for their spaying and front paw declaw for next week. Then we will pick them up officially after Believe (March 7-9). It will be great! They are great! As soon as we get them, I'll be posting some pictures!!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cubs win!!!!

Cubs win... 12-6!!! Go Cubbies!!!

Jim Clark
Student Minister

Sent from my iPhone...

Thursday morning group...

We had a great discussion this morning in our Thursday morning group on Matthew 6:10... and what does it mean to follow "God's Will" or even to seek it. It was a very interesting discussion... and one that I am hoping will pop up next week as well.

As for Thursday mornings... it was rough to pull myself out of bed this morning. The last couple of mornings of sleeping a little bit have been great. But alas, it's back to normal... whatever that looks like.


Master Mentor #11

Now... you might be saying to yourself... "It's been a while since I've seen this post thread." And you are exactly right. The last couple of weeks have been insane. And I am about 14 or 15 days behind in my Master Mentor Journal... don't tell Dr. Rea... But I am working to catch up. So don't be surprised to see posts to this thread on the weekends... which wasn't the plan... or a couple of posts a day as I work to catch up.

But regardless... I'm back today:
Chapter 10 (Book 2, Chapter 5)
CS makes a great little gospel presentation at the end of this chapter. He is in part discussing those three things in us that create a “new life” in us… baptism, belief and the Lord’s Supper. But for some reason, the conversation turns to discussion of God’s return. In part, CS seems to do this in answering the question of why doesn’t God just show up and then everyone would naturally become part of his movement. CS states that God is delaying and giving us an opportunity to choose to join him before his return.
But he said something earlier in the chapter that I want to react to… and it’s something that I really like. He says on page 64, “In this same way (he has been discussing how the body can repair itself to a certain point if it is injured) a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who in enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble – because the Christ-life is in him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out. That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good.”
I think one of the misconceptions that non-Christians have about Christians is that we are a group of people who are claiming to have it all figured out. And there are some Christians out there that reinforce that stereotype. They act like they never make a mistake. They walk through life like they never mess up… like they never have a problem… that everyday is filled with wins and triumph. And to some degree, that is a Christian’s life. There are wins… there is triumph. But there are also mistakes. There is always sin. And if there isn’t sin, then there is pride… which is sin. The Christian life isn’t perfect life… but it’s forgiven life. It’s life that has the power to bring about renewal. Not because the Christian is so “good”… but because God IS good.
That’s one of the things that needs to show up in my teaching. That’s one thing that I think I do fairly regularly… sharing those mistakes and messu-ups. But I think in part, there are some that never share that. Some that never say they stumble. And so the perception continues that Christians aren’t real people with problems. I have problems. I’ve just found the one that fixes problems. I’m not perfect (my wife will tell anyone that)… but I’ve found Perfection. And I’ve invited it into my life and I’m trying to do what It says I should do. (And Perfection and It is the Spirit of Jesus Christ.)
It’s the opportunity to “choose” which side to be “on” that makes life interesting.


Cubs fever begins today!!!

Cubs Fever 2008 begins today.

I'm sporting my Soriano jersey today in honor of the Cubs' first Spring Training game... set to square off at 2:05 pm CT (6 hours, 31 minutes) this afternoon. The AM will be jumping in my office with the game on... if it's on the AM.

I'm looking forward to it. I've been missing out on a sports fix since the Super Bowl about a month ago. So the Cubbies will come along at just the right time.

Let's just hope for a win today!!

According to THIS article, Dempster will pitch and Fukudome will make his debut. Should be fun!!!

Go Cubbies!!!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

National Youth Ministry Conference 2009!!!

I'm already totally stoked about next year's conference already. I already have the dates on my calendar. I might even have a place to stay already... my sister and brother-in-law live near Columbus... cheap place to stay and good conversation with my sister and brother-in-law (who is in youth ministry and is extremely sharp). Should be fun! Can't wait.

It's always a blast!!


Finally back at my desk...

It's been close to a week since I sat down at my desk and my computer sat down in it's place. We're jamming on some work... before we (the computer and I) rock out to a 3:30 pm meeting. But I was just sitting here working and thinking to myself: "I've missed my office. It's good to be back. It's cluttered... really cluttered right now... but comfortable."

Work on!!


Dealing with article

I saw and read a great article on this morning from Todd Szymczak

Here's a taste...
"Anyone who has been in the crosshairs of someone’s negative criticism knows how easy it is to become discouraged and disillusioned.
Long ago I had the na├»ve belief that if I was a believer, worked in the church, followed God’s purpose for my life and cared about students and families, those I served would be thankful, gracious and appreciative. Most often that is true; however, there are times when criticism can shake me to my core.
If you are anything like me, I take my ministry seriously (and personally), and have been wounded many times by a critic’s words or actions. Everyone who has been in ministry and has dealt with people will experience criticism. Here are a couple things I have learned in the trenches:"

Todd then goes on to encourage youth workers to LEAN, LEARN and LET GO. To read more about what Todd means, click HERE.

Good article. Thanks for the thoughts and insight. I think the hardest thing in getting criticism is to slow down and remember to do these three things. Most of the time, because ministry is so personal, we jump to being emotional and defensive and we miss the opportunity to learn. Good thoughts Todd.

Recent Google Searches leading here...

Since the National Youth Ministry Conference over the weekend, hits on my blog have been up... I'm averaging close to 50 hits per day. Which is great for me. But I thought I would take a couple of minutes and find out how people are ending up here.

Here's a rundown of some searches that people are using and ending up here:

First... A number have been coming through Josh Griffin's Blog... 19 hits out of 60 hits...

Here's what else:
-National Youth Ministry Conference
-guitar hero legends of rock playlist
-tunak tunak tun translation
-jim clark, blog
-"Guitar Hero" Legends of Rock PLaylist
-blogging National Youth ministry conference
-national youth ministry conference 2008
-middle school band blog
-saddleback church student ministry
-Greg Stier Cincinnati National Youth Workers Conference
-tunak tunak tunak english translation
-rock river christian camp
-space bears

I don't know what's up with that last one... but oh well, hopefully they stuck around a bit and read some of my ramblings.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Knight Rider movie...

I watched the NBC Knight Rider movie from a couple of weekends ago tonight. It has been a busy week and I would say that if you are one of my regular blog readers, you will know that I've been a bit busy. But I had a chance to watch it tonight and overall, I was fairly pleased.

Here are a few things that I thought that I liked:
-The car... even though a Ford... was awesome.
-The guy that they got to play Michael... Michael Knight's son... is actually pretty good.
-The Hoff made an appearance at the end... passing on the legacy of the show to another.
-The storyline was pretty good, but cheesy at times... but had enough action to keep me connected.
-The technology, which seemed far-fetched at times, did have a note of realism.
-They sampled the old theme song for the intro and outro... very excellent.
-The car seems indestructable... that's the only way to have it.

Here are a few things that I didn't like:
-KITT's voice was weird and didn't have as much humor as the original.
-Too many commercials... especially annoying Ford commercials... if it becomes a weekly series, they will have to tone those down or I'll have to watch it on tape every week... too many... too annoying.
-There was a high level of cheese with some of the action. But the car is super sweet.
-The show started fairly slow... introducing characters and setting up the plot. But the last 30 minutes were pretty good.
-I don't like that KITT is a Ford... the original was a GM car (Trans Am) and they should have made an effort to maintain that consistency. Plus, this car doesn't have T-tops... if it becomes a series, they are going to have a hard time with those occasional times when they need to launch Michael over a wall or onto a roof.

All in all... it was interesting.
My verdict is... if they made it into a series show, I would watch it. Knight Rider rides on!


Tuesday night HS Small Group... longest game ever!!!

Tonight I jumped in and taught a night of HS Small Group. We had four guys there and I decided to play a game with them before starting. I brought a 100 piece puzzle and some prizes.

The game was to see who could put the puzzle together faster. Here was my thought: these are high school guys... it will likely take them 8 to 10 minutes to put together an easy puzzle for 5 - 8 year olds.

It took two of them... I won't say which two... 27 1/2 minutes to put together a 100 piece puzzle!!! Holy cow!!! That was like the longest game ever!! Just to put it into context, the other two students goofed off and really didn't work very hard and they put it together in 15 minutes...


Oh well... We had fun and relationships were built... and we did get to the lesson. Fun night!


The End of the World as we know it... Starbucks closed for 3 hours...

Tonight, Starbucks will close it's doors for 3 hours of mandatory training for all Starbucks employees... Check out a story HERE.

It's actually a pretty good thing. My wife works for Starbucks and is required to attend tonight's meeting. The standards company-wide have gotten somewhat lax. Supposedly all employees tonight will be getting some much needed re-training or training in their area of expertise.

So... bottom line... You'll live for 3 hours tonight while they're all closed. But in the end, everyone will be getting better drinks as the standards will be back where they as supposed to be.

There might be a good youth ministry principle here. Sure, it's tough to do the needed training. But in the end, everyone wins. What would you be willing to do so that your youth ministry wins? What do I need to do so that my youth ministry wins? Especially if its something difficult.


Great coming back news...

I am always a little concerned when I'm away for the weekend at a conference. I always get the conference "high" and get really excited about Student Ministries (which I am right now) only to come back to some "problem" at church that someone "needs" to talk to me about that squashes my "high" and returns me to "normal." Which is a bummer... because I like the high.

I get back in last night and checking my email noticed an email from our church's financial administrator. (Always a little bit of a scary thing.) But this was good. She was letting me know that the Student Ministries had received a "designated funds donation" Sunday at church. (Basically that means that someone went above and beyond their weekly offering at church to make a special donation to student ministries that isn't a part of my budget but I can use it for anything I want... special purchases... scholarships... gifts for volunteers... etc... etc).

That's great!
That's a great way to come back from a conference and very encouraging. To go away, get excited about the work that I do, and then come back to "someone" seeing the value in the student program and seeing the value so much that they went above and beyond to meet their needs... that's incredible. (I'm almost without words... which is difficult to imagine considering this is post 800+).

Let me just say that it's incredibly encouraging. So... THANKS to whoever you are. My guess is that this person... and I don't know who they are... isn't reading my blog. But since I can't say thanks personally... I'll say it here. Thanks.

And thanks not just for the financial gift. But thanks for the encouragement. It's great to know sometimes that someone outside... possibly... of my volunteer team sees the value in what's happening in the student program. And that is more encouraging than the financial amount.


NYMC was good for my blog... thanks for visiting...

As many of you know, who read regularly, that I have become a pretty active blogger in the last few months. I have really begun to enjoy it, even if sometimes some folks wonder why I blog what I do... I blog what I do because I like to blog what I blog... if that makes sense.

Well, thanks to Josh Griffin... I had the opportunity to share some of my NYMC posts with others. I also had the opportunity to give away a sweet prize to Ken Compton (from outside of Philly). That was fun... especially getting a note that was written by Doug Fields who was thinking that he was writing to Jim Burns... but was actually writing to me. Fun fun...

But one of the fun little things about the Conference for me was watching the number of hits on my blog over the duration. And looking at the picture, the conference showed up quite a few hits... 72 on Saturday... 74 on Sunday...

So, my hope is that some of you who found my blog through the NYMC would continue to come back for some fun posts and youth ministry musings. But if you should choose to go to another blog (like I'll try not to cry...


Monday, February 25, 2008

NYMC - Back home!!!

I'm in my pajamas... sitting on my couch and I thought I would throw out one final blog from the conference.

It was a great time.
Thanks to Doug. Rick Lawrence. Tom and Joani. Josh (the stud) Griffin. Jake. And all my friends that I always look forward to seeing at these conferences.

But honestly. The best part of thew whole conference was about 15 minutes ago when my butt hit the couch for some relaxation and time connecting with my wife!!



Monday morn...

Its the last session...
Monday morn...
We just enjoyed a great super session by Kurt Johnston and picked up a
free book. Good stuff! The session, the book and the conference...


The starbucks line was shorter this morning... And I am glad......

Jim Clark
Student Minister

Sent from my iPhone...

NYMC - Jumping Announcement Video

Jake and Josh have another great announcement video.

Just stupid fun...


Check it out HERE.

Wafflehouse and late night meals...

So... Jeff and I have pretty much gotten into the habit of the "late night meal." And last night was no difference. We hit "Wafflehouse" with Tom Roepke.

I think one of the things that I like the most about these conferences is the chance to catch up with friends from around the country. It's always great to sit across the table from someone, catch up, ask what's been going on in their ministry, have a chance to breathe some life into someone else and allow them to breathe some life into my ministry.

It was great. Thanks Tom.

But that brings our official 11:30 pm dinner rotation to last night's Wafflehouse... Saturday night was Shanghi Mama's... Friday night was Skyline... It's going to be rough going back to eating at regular times...

Oh well.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Late night 321 improv

Carl and Adam doing a little late night comedy... Good stuff.

Kutless... Live!!!

Kutless came out tonight!!! They were great!! Rock on!!

3...2...1 Improv - NYMC

3...2...1... Improv was here tonight. Very funny!!

Session 2... Doug Fields...

Doug gave us a true treat last night at Session 2.

I love to listen to Doug teach. I feel like we have a similar style and a similar humor and so I always get a kick out of listening to Doug. So, I was really looking forward to this. And he didn't disappoint.

He talked about the three barriers in his life to having "caring conversations" in his life. Those three things are:
1. uncomfortableness
2. fear
3. occupied.

Then he went on to talk about this in terms of Luke 2 and Matthew 1 by talking about Mary (uncomfortable), Joseph (fear) and the innkeeper (occupied). And I would have to say that all three of those blockers show up in my life... there are times when I feel incredibly uncomfortable when working, talking and leading students... there are times when I'm afraid almost every day... and there are a lot of times when I am too occupied to develop deep relationships.

Doug... you always knock it out the park. Thanks for knocking it out last night.

Tonight, we're going to enjoy some Greg Stier... Dare to Share... Should be great!!!


"Hooked" on winning... Ken Compton!!!

Ken Compton picked up a FREE copy of SYM's Super Series "Hooked."

He brought me some "demon sauce" and a hand written note from Doug Fields to grease the skids. It was great. Ken is from outside of Philly. We had a good little talk while we waited for Andy B. and Nadim to help get him "hooked" up.

Thanks for reading Ken. Hope to keep checkin' in.


Overnighter - NYMC

Jake just rolled out an incredible new video yesterday. It is awesome. Check it out.


Click HERE.

Car show at nymc

There is a cars show going on at the same time as the conference... So

Cadillac Ranch

We grabbed some Cadillac ranch for lunch. Kathy and Chris are headed
back today. So we went big for lunch. Maybe I'll go ride the bull...

Sunday morning

That alarm clock was not my friend this morning... But we're up and
going again.

Taffy and Saddleback's 9th grade band led worship. And it was
great!!! Way to go Taffy

Still "Hooked" for FREE

So... I've still got this... no one has claimed it yet... better get you some...


I have the privilege of giving away a FREE... totally... absolutely... positively... FREE copy of Simply Youth Ministry's "Hooked". "Hooked" is a $40 value!!!! Check out this description:
"Money. Sex. Pride. Drugs. Glory. The lure of temptation is strong, and all it takes is one bite to get hooked—sometimes for life. Temptation is everywhere! Even if you’re not experiencing temptation at this moment, it will be knocking at your door in no time. Help your students get a big-picture perspective on how God wants to help them deal with temptation. "

And I would like to give it to a conference attendee...

Here a couple of questions for you to answer and see if you qualify to meet me for this FREE resource.
1. Are you attending the NYMC?
2. Are you alive?
3. Can you complete this task... to see who's worthy? Bring me... see picture of me above... a Skyline Chili napkin signed by Doug Fields or Josh Griffin...

You've got until 9 am on Monday will get this awesome FREEBIE from Simply Youth Ministry!!! Happy hunting!!! Hope to see you soon!


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jeremy Riddle - NYMC

Jeremy Riddle came and shared a great concert!!! Thanks Jeremy!!

Doug Fields rocked it

Doug gave a great talk tonight!!!

Skit guys!!

The Skit Guys were here tonight. They were great as usual! Thanks
Tommy and Eddie!


Josh is getting the night jumpin!!!

Rock n Roll

Group Announcements - Friday Night - National Youth Ministry Conference

Here is a great video that my buds Josh and Jake put together to help announcements be a little more exciting.

Way to go guys!!


Check it out HERE.

Applebees... Longest lunch ever...

Jeff, Kathy and Chris and I hit Applebees for lunch today.

We wanted to grab a sit-down lunch so we could talk, decompress a bit and catch up. We've been going, going, going non-stop since we got here. And so we thought that a little salad and conversation was just what we needed.

But we picked the slowest Applebees ever!!!

All four of us had salad. And we were there for an hour and a half!!!! We were there so long that Jeff and I missed the afternoon session (when we got back to the parking garage, it was full. So we ran an errand for a few minutes hoping that the lot would open up... but it didn't so I had to pony up the $20 for valet parking... ugh!).

But I'm looking forward to tonight. It should be great. There will be more pics...

And I'm hoping that someone is going to bring me a napkin with a signature on it... Check it out HERE.


Tony Dungy... National Youth Ministry Conference...

Last night we were blessed with an incredible message from Tony Dungy... Head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Tony has a best selling book on the New York Times Best Selling list.

Even though the NFL Combine was going on in Indy, he came and gave us a powerful message.

One of the things that he said that resonated with me. He said: "Any bad teacher can teach an "A" student... But it takes a great teacher to help every student get an "A"."

I think there is a great deal of truth in that.

This really resonated with me. I think part of the reason why it resonated with me is that it's easy to look at the students in our ministries that aren't getting it all that much and wish that they were getting it or were like the students in our ministry that are getting it. But the reality is, they aren't those students. And its unfair to wish or hope that they would be like those students. Those students are the unique students that God created them to be. And they are there for a specific reason in our ministries.

We are always going to be blessed with students who "do get it." They understand the ministry... they are personally passionate about learning about God and following God... and they want to encourage others.

But there are always going to be students who "don't get it" or "don't want to get it." For those students in that later group, I have to work twice as hard and use twice as much skill to reach those later students. I have to use my abilities to reach those students. That's hard. Sometimes impossible. But it's part of the calling.

It's hard.
It's tough.
It's difficult.

I can be discouraging. There are days... almost every day... that I feel ineffective. But...
You keep going.
You keep praying.
You keep loving students.
You keep encouraging them.

Because in the end, the great teacher is the teacher who helps every student not just pass... but succeed and get an "A".


Starbucks line...

the line at the Starbucks line was this long........... This
morning... Too late of a night the night before....

Morning on Saturday

Morning came early....
We got back from Skyline last night about 2am from hanging with the
Saddleback. It was good... But morning came early.
The morning session got off with some great worship from Saddleback's
9th grade worship band!!! It was great!

Rick Lawrence is doing some wake up questions... Morning on!!!

"Hooked" for FREE


I have the privilege of giving away a FREE... totally... absolutely... positively... FREE copy of Simply Youth Ministry's "Hooked". "Hooked" is a $40 value!!!! Check out this description:
"Money. Sex. Pride. Drugs. Glory. The lure of temptation is strong, and all it takes is one bite to get hooked—sometimes for life. Temptation is everywhere! Even if you’re not experiencing temptation at this moment, it will be knocking at your door in no time. Help your students get a big-picture perspective on how God wants to help them deal with temptation. "

And I would like to give it to a conference attendee...

Here a couple of questions for you to answer and see if you qualify to meet me for this FREE resource.
1. Are you attending the NYMC?
2. Are you alive?
3. Can you complete this task... to see who's worthy? Bring me... see picture of me above... a Skyline Chili napkin signed by Doug Fields or Josh Griffin...

You've got until 9 am on Monday will get this awesome FREEBIE from Simply Youth Ministry!!! Happy hunting!!! Hope to see you soon!


Skyline chili!!!

Skyline at 1am!!!! It rocks!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Live podcast

Live podcast baby!!!


I'm getting ready for the live taping of the SYM podcast!!! This will
be sweet!! Go Doug and friends...

Jim Clark
Student Minister

Sent from my iPhone...

Sara Groves

Sara Groves gave us a great concert tonight... But more on Tony Dungy


We made it. Got into some snow in Indiana... But we're here and
ready!!! Let's go!!!

My bags are packed... almost... NYWC...

My bags are almost packed for the conference... And here I am blogging...

But I'm up... excited... getting ready to go... looking forward to what's going to happen this weekend for myself and what God is going to do among my team... thrilled and nervous all at the same time.

Should be fun!!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Northern Illinois University: One Week....

It's been one week since the brutal shooting at Northern Illinois University.

As always, it seems like so long ago. But it's only been a week. This post was made at 3:06 pm (the time of the shooting) in honor of the University, it's students and the victims.


National Youth Ministry Conference begins tomorrow...

I am really looking forward to this tomorrow.

Today is kind of the last minute blitz to get some things done before I get to go out of town to the NYMC in Cincinnati. I've got about 10 or 12 things on my punch list for today. In fact, I'm at home right now getting ready to get down on some writing before I head into the office after lunch.

But I am really looking forward to this conference. I've already blogged some about it... but I won't link those. But I guess the biggest thing is that I've just felt over the last couple of weeks that I need a breath of "fresh air" in terms of ministry. There are times when as a student minister, I feel so overwhelmed, under qualified and ineffective and I need a fresh idea, a fresh thought, or a fresh challenge. Sometimes, I just need someone like Doug Fields or Kurt Johnston (and I mention them because I know that they will be there... but there are others...) who can say something from their experience that I NEED to hear. And I always come back with a fresh attitude and a fresh perspective.

So... there may not be much blogging between now and 4 or 5 tomorrow afternoon. Mostly because I will be punching things off my list and driving to Cincy. But once I get there, I will be firing up the "live blogging" and trying to capture some of that freshness here on my blog.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Skiing yesterday was great!!!

I hit the slopes yesterday with about a dozen or so middle schoolers and it was a great day. Not as great as a few weeks ago (HERE), but still a great day none the less.

It was about 25 degrees for most of the day with some light snowfall. The slopes were pretty crowded around noon, but they opened up some other lifts and got the crowds moving. Overall, it was pretty good day.

And the best part of me was that I got to ski twice this winter!!! Good stuff.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Skiing tomorrow!!!

I'm hitting the slopes in the morning with our middle schoolers. I'm really looking forward to getting to hang out all day with some of my students. It should be a great day for skiing too... not too cold... and plenty of base.

Hopefully I'll get some pictures up throughout the day. I'm really looking forward to it.


Knight Rider tonight!!

I have to say that I'm at least a little bit excited about the new Knight Rider tonight.

I'm not going to be able to watch it... I've got some church work and some school work to get done before I got skiing tomorrow with our middle school students.

But I am going tape (poor man's TiVo) it and watch it later on. I have to say, I'm a little bit disappointed that KITT is a Ford. I have nothing against Fords... but I tend to be a purist about things like that. And I think that if you bring back a show like that, the car has to be at least in the same auto family.

So, I'll likely watch it on Wednesday night... that will be the first time that I'll really get a chance. And then I'll blog my opinions. I am a little bit excited that there is a Hoff appearance promised.

So, we'll see.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Double overtime freshman bball

I headed out to Matt Ray... One of our high school freshman's...
basketball games. It went into double overtime... 38 - 38... Wow!

EDIT: Matt's team went on to win in double overtime... 41 to 40... It was a nail-biter!



I saw this picture this morning on the Kane County Chronicle's website.

And it just made me think... In the midst of all that is going on out there in terms of the investigation, the interviews, the stories, the pictures and everything that has the media in such a frenzy, are any of those answers going to really bring any healing to the campus of NIU?

My sense is not.

What will really bring the kind of healing that they need is prayer, thoughtfulness and time. I was watching some of the news coverage last night and the now that young man has been identified, the media has surrounded his father's home in Florida. And I thought to myself, why? Why in the midst of this man's grief are you trying to ask him questions? How silly and thoughtless.

Let's pray for the NIU community. Let's be there for them in the midst of this. Let's help them heal at the pace that seems appropriate to them. Let's give them the time and the space that they need.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Mrs Prindables...!!!

So... My mom got Jackie and I these caramel apples for Valentine's Day
from Mrs Prindables. And yes there are apples in there.
Jackie got home from her conference and we're going to eat one or more
of them tonight...

Should be great!!!

Northern Illinois University prayers...

This morning my thoughts and prayers went out to the community at Northern Illinois University. I watched all of the press conference this morning talking about new information and answering questions.

As I watched the conference, I was impressed by degree of professionalism by those who were on stage answering questions, while I struggled with the degree of blame that the reporters were trying to place on "someone."

This is a tragedy. No doubt about it.

But these reporters were looking for someone... other than the gunman... to blame for this... the gunseller... the door on Cole Hall... someone who saw the gunman but didn't see the guns and who should have stopped him... the federal law that should have prevented this guy who legally bought the guns from buying the guns in accordance with the gun purchasing time-line... the school for not taking "appropriate-enough actions" with a couple of other seemingly unrelated threats that they had previously received... the medicine that the gunman was on but had stopped taking... etc, etc, etc... They seemed to be looking for someone to place the blame... someone other than the person responsible.

It's a tragedy.
No one could have predicted what this guy was going to do before he did it. Other than him. It stinks. It's hard. That's what tragedies are.

My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the NIU campus, Brian and Russ at the Christian Campus House at NIU and others who are involved.


24 Season 7 will have to wait... ugh!

I knew this would happen when the writers' strike started.

24's next installment... Season 7 will have to wait until January 2009.

Here's a bit of an article found HERE:
"So "24" represents this television season's most prominent casualty due to the writers strike. A January 2009 start seemed the best way to comply with viewers' wishes that a season's episodes run without interruption to conclusion, Fox said on Thursday."

So... It sucks that 24 will have to wait, even though the writers' strike is over...

And it stinks double because now that the writers are back, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno is back to it's normal lameness. I love the Tonight Show and watch it every night before turning out the light. And I actually thought that the Tonight Show was better in the last 6 weeks since it came back without writers... But that's just my opinion...

So no 24... and a lamer Tonight Show... This writers' strike stinks... on both sides...


Thursday, February 14, 2008

NIU Shooting this afternoon

Most people, at least in this area, have heard about the shooting at Northern Illinois University today. Scary, scary stuff. Chris Genders, a former paster at FVCC, was close to campus. He went over to make sure that all the students were safe. For a short time, we (Chris and I... cell phones were down in the area and so he asked if I could try to call him) were trying to get ahold of one of the campus pastors. But shortly thereafter, all in the Christian Campus House, which FVCC supports as a local mission were reported as safe.

Still... scary scary stuff... especially so close to home. NIU is about a 30 minute drive from my house and I have been in Cole Hall where the shooting took place today.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the students and faculty of NIU.


Thursday Morning...

The first couple of weeks, I was great at getting up and getting to Bible Study on time. This week again, not so much. When I get up, feel like I have a ton of time. But then when I get out the door, I realize that I am going to be very close, if not late. Last week, I had a bit of an excuse because the roads were terrible. But this week, I didn't have that excuse... although I wasn't the last to show up.

But much of our discussion centered around the possibility of an upcoming "Men's Ministry Activity." In the midst of the discussion, the conversation reinforced in my mind the need for a clearly defined purpose in ministry for our programs and events. Without this, it becomes impossible to plan and execute anything of substance.


Master Mentor #10

In this chapter, CS launches into a description or picture of redemption in the person of Jesus. In the midst of this picture, which CS admits is a picture, there are some struggles.
But the thing that I like the most about this chapter is the simplicity with which he tells the gospel. On page 59, CS says, “We are told that Christ was killed for us that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity.”
I think what I like the most about this is that it is simple. Much of the remainder of the chapter, he attempts to draw pictures of what happened and how it should be relevant for all. And many of his pictures have value. But at some point, they all break down. They all become so tedious in trying to keep the various aspects together, that they can’t continue to function as a workable picture.
But what he says there on page 59 is simple. Many times in the church, our explanations of who Christ is and what He has done become so long and tedious that those who are listening have “changed the channel” so to speak in their minds. They have moved on to other thoughts and we lose them. This simple explanation of the gospel is something that we should all learn that we might have the privilege of sharing it with others.


Master Mentor #9

There is something in my mind that has a problem with Calvinism. I have read many of this writings and studied them. I have had discussions in class and with other students. But there is something about the idea of predestination that my mind struggles to get its arms around. I guess, I have a problem with the idea of God determining the fate of a man. Or more specifically, I have a problem with the idea of a loving and irresistible God determining that I will never know Him, salvation or the peace that comes from a relationship with Him. I get the whole irresistible grace idea… but I struggle with the thought that some have no chance to experiencing it. Maybe it’s the “American freedom” that is lodged in my bones (since I have grown up in this country where freedom is such an abiding thought that it is impossible for this thought to not flow over to my relationship with God) that I find it difficult to know what to do with passages of Scripture from God’s Word that seem to lean otherwise than in the direction of freewill.
I liked the first part of this chapter because CS deals with this argument straight on. And as I was reading it, it made me think of our cat “Spot” that we had to put down a couple of weeks ago. We are considering adopting a new cat or kitten (preferably the kitten aspect). But in thinking about this adoption, it seems rather silly to consider the idea of adopting a cat, spending the money to feed it and take care of it if there is no possibility of it ever loving me (in the way that cats and dogs and other animals can ‘love’ a human being) or at the very least appreciating me (in that animialish kind of way). To me, that would be a total waste.
It would seem the same with humans. It would seem like a huge waste of time for God to have created all of this and all of mankind, spending countless hours (as we understand it) designing and setting up this up, only to be rewarded with a fraction of the whole who worship him but really don’t have a “choice.” Instead, they worship because he has set it up that way.
But then I’m stuck with the idea of how can a God who set it up and designed it and is completely sovereign, not be a God who knows and understands the future and the outcome of every man? And so I find myself stuck. But I tend to find myself stuck more in terms of talking myself into predestination (Calvinism) than into free will (Arminianism). I tend to find myself more on that side of the fence than on the other side. And I guess it’s that part of me that resonates with what CS says on page 53… “The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman…”


National Youth Ministry Conference

There's just something about this conference next weekend that really thrills me...

And I'm not really sure what it is. I was catching up on some blogs this morning and I was browsing Josh's. And as I was reading his couple of posts (HERE, HERE and HERE)... I just found myself getting excited.

I can't really put it into words. I'm just really pumped!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

45.2 inches of snow this year...!!!

I was watching the nightly news on ABC7... which is my usual habit.

They said that we have already gotten 45.2 inches of snowfall this year (at O'Hare) compared to 11.5 at this point last winter. Wow!!! I know we've gotten a lot of snow, but that's a lot more than I had thought.

And they are calling for another inch tomorrow... ugh!


Weird Al Yankovic - I'm Fat

I stumbled on this today on YouTube and I just had to share it... classic!!!


Check it out HERE.

Looking forward to the National Youth Ministry Conference

I'm totally stoked about the National Youth Ministry Conference coming up in a couple of weeks.

This morning I'm working from home as I try to get a couple of outlines written so that I can hand them off to volunteers to teach while I'm gone. (I'll be gone on the 24th for the Conference and then on March 9th for CIY Middle School Believe.)

I'm pumped about going to the conference for a couple of reasons... but they aren't the usual reasons for going to a conference. I've been to conferences before, but this time it's different...

First... I'm pumped because I get to see some old friends. This conference is being put on by friends... I've already got soft plans to do Skyline with Josh. That will be awesome. But it will be great to catch with Doug, Neely and Jana as well as other PDYM guys from around the country (I'm hoping that Neil will be there... as well as Vince, Joby, Danny, and others are there...). The PDYM Community is a great thing to be a part of and so even if there wasn't any conference going on, I would still show up just to see my friends.

Second... I'm taking along 3 of my volunteers. Jeff and Chris, two of my weekend leaders, and Kathy, one of my small group leaders, are going with me. I remember back in 2004 going to the PDYM Conference at Saddleback with Jackie, my wife. She had never been before. And I remember some of the conversations that we had following that conference were incredible. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to have those kinds of conversations with some of my leaders.

Finally... I'm looking forward to the recharge. Going to a conference like this is always incredible. There is so much to think about and process. Plus, there's just an energy about being in the same room with 2000 or 3000 other youth workers that is hard to miss. I always look forward to those times of refreshing.

Josh posted this morning about the live bloggers at the conference... of which I will be one... but when he did... I started to think about why I'm so pumped!! And that's why!!!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cubs... Spring Training Starts tomorrow!!!

14 hours... 54 minutes...

Until Spring Training starts. Officially, the pitchers and catchers for the Chicago Cubs are to report for Spring Training tomorrow... I can't wait until baseball season starts!!!

Go Cubs! This is the year that the curse is broken!!!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Sometimes ministry pays off...

I got an email over the weekend from a former student of mine. He is an incredible kid with an incredible heart. One of the things that I always appreciated about this student, and I won't use his name since I didn't ask him if I could, was that he always did what was asked of him without lip or question... which is rare in student ministry.

This student was a part of our weekend worship band when I was in Meadville. He worked in the tech area for a while running the powerpoint show. But then felt the urge to get into playing the bass. Now, and I didn't even know this, he plays the bass, guitar and sings. I didn't even know that he could sing!!! But he does an incredible job!

But he sent me an email over the weekend about how God has been calling him to ministry... especially music ministry. What a thrill!!! Here's a snippet of the email that he sent me:
"I just want to say thanks. You always encouraged us to discover our spiritual gifts and to pursue that. I've been blessed with the gift of music and I really feel led to pursue that, plus I just love music. You were always such a positive influence in my life and you really helped to shape me into the Christian I am today. And for all of that I want to thank you."

I just finished emailing him back. And one of the things that I said to him as this... over the last almost 10 years of full time ministry, my mind tends to go to those students who "missed" it. They showed up... they went on trips... they paid their money... we hung out... we have conversations... but somewhere along the line, it didn't sink in. All the great messages (at least I thought so)... all the trips... all the thought and intentionality that went into trips and events and they just seemed to miss it.

But then... You get an email like that... and suddenly in the midst of the chaos, student ministry begins to make sense. You begin to feel like you are having some kind of impact in this world.

And as I look back at my time with this student, I remember the first time any of us had any idea that he could play the bass. Our student band was leading worship at a church and I was preaching. We went over the day before to set up our gear, practice and make sure that everything was tuned up. For whatever reason, our bass player couldn't make it. So Kraig, who was leading our band at the time, asked this student if he would play and reluctantly he said he would. I remember Kraig saying to me... "He's not half bad..."

And now... he's being called by God to serve him full time in ministry! In the words of Mike Yaconelli... "Woo hoo!!!" Woo hoo indeed!

And if you need to meet Mike... click HERE.


Sweet... AT&T WIFI at Starbucks!!!

I saw THIS story today!!!

This is awesome. I would totally spend more time at Starbucks if I could get Wifi. But this should be great... when it goes through.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

I've heard some lame ones... but this one...

In close to 10 years of student ministry experience, I've heard some pretty lame excuses... But this one might top them all.

I had a conversation this morning with a student who hasn't been in church in a while. We talked about the need to be connected and some different things along that line. She said that she would be coming tonight. I told her that I would be looking forward to it. In times past, when she's said that she would be coming and then punked out on me, I've called her to see what happened.

Tonight, she called me just a few minutes ago to tell me that she couldn't come. She had stayed in the shower too long and wouldn't have time to get dressed and ready to get here. She's 15!!!! Not 5!!! Plus, she was in the shower for over an hour!!!! Are you kidding me???

I've heard some lame excuses in my day... but that one's pretty dang lame!


Wisdom On - Week 4 outline

Hey all...

Here is the weekend outline from both High Voltage and Live Wire. I'm posting it mostly so that parents from our ministry can get a look at the outline in ministering to their students. At the bottom of the outline, there is a "Where to take it from here" section. If you have questions, shoot me an email.

Wisdom On
Week 4 - Loving Learning
Live Wire/High Voltage – Jim Clark – January 27, 2008
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52
Wisdom is making right decisions… Making wrong decisions leads to pain…
Learning does not always mean school…

As followers of Christ, we need to have a regular pattern of learning.
Cherish learning.
He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers. Proverbs 19:8

Apply what you are learning.
Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD. Proverbs 16:20

Reap the rewards of learning.
He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded. Proverbs 13:13

Learning can come from a variety of sources:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? Deuteronomy 4:5-7


The Bible
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Psalm 119:34
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 111:10

If you are a Christian, you need to be learning about what it means to follow Christ.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Action Steps:
1. Establish a plan or schedule that works for your life.

2. Examine your motives for having or not having a regular time in God’s Word.

3. Encourage others along the path toward learning.

The Bottom Line: A relationship with God that is active and alive is a relationship that is growing and learning.


Where To Take It From Here:
*This is just an idea... it isn't the only idea.
In the lesson, the comment was made that when we study, learn and grow, we honor God because God gave us a brain and he is honored when we use to it's fullest. One direction that you could take this lesson with your students is in that direction... "Do you feel that you honor God when you use the brain that God has given you to learn and grow? Would having this view change your opinion about studying?"


bachen it all week!!!

I'm bachin' it all week.

My wife is out of town at a conference, which means I'm going to be bored ALL WEEK. Struggle. Man... if I had my XBox 360, I could get some serious gaming in. But I'll likely get some serious school work in.

Off to the bachin' (adj. from the noun: bachelor).


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Super Bowl 42 Trivia

I uploaded a powerpoint game based on last weekend's Super Bowl...

You can check it out HERE. It's pretty good... but then again, I made it.


Car Craziness...


As some of you know, I flew out to Pennsylvania to pick up Jackie's car yesterday (it looks similar to this Sebring... but it's olive colored).

Man... what a long day!!! I spent an hour an the flight... 2 hours driving to Meadville... a couple more hours working out the paperwork...

then 10 hours in car... ugh!!!

But it's all taken care of today.

Then I spent about an hour outside putting on new windshield wipers. Putting on new wipers has become one of those tasks that I hate... and I did use the word "hate." I'm a relatively intelligent human being... although there are some out there who might disagree with that statement (shut-up Nate). But putting wipers quickly and easily requires some sort of advanced education in some field that I'm not sure anyone is up to speed on (the package says that they are "easy to install." Whatever!!).

But finally... after about an hour in the snow, outside in the Wal-Mart parking lot... I finally got them on.

Hopefully... I'm done messing with cars for a little while.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Life winner!!! Jackie!!!

Jackie won the Iife game!!!

Jim Clark
Student Minister

Sent from my iPhone...

Dinner for 5!!

We had a little dinner for 5 tonight... Will, Boone, Paige, Bailey,
and Matt came over for some pizza and old school Life...

Fun fun!

Leaving on a jet plane...

I'm catching a quick flight to Pennsylvania tomorrow. We are purchasing Jackie's mom and dad's 2004 Chrysler Sebring coupe. I'm flying out at 9:25 am (weather permitting of course... please... please... please) and will be returning tomorrow night to St. Charles (please... please... please...).

Should be fun!!!
And long!!!


Wandering in the "desert" until April 10th

It's Thursday morning...

I'm hanging out and doing my morning reading at Panera Bread. I am starting to look forward, not just to the Bible study time, but also the 2 hours following Bible study when I can sit and read and do a little work. The getting up has struggled the last couple of weeks and especially this morning because it was snowy from last night and quite icy this morning.

But this morning... I entered the "desert" in my Bible reading. I'm working my way through the Bible in a Year. This morning I read Exodus 26:1-27:21. This begins the section on the law given to Moses by YHWH. I get that it's God's Word and I get that it's important. It's just really hard to read.

But it's making me look forward to April 10th. That's when I will begin Joshua!!! Oh, April 10th is so far away.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Book #2... I Am Legend

At Christmas-time, I went with a couple of friends and watched "I Am Legend" (blogged HERE). After I watched it, I knew that I wanted to read the book ("I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson).

But I found the book to be quite different than the movie. In fact, the only similarities that I saw between the book and the movie (aside from this cover) was the name "Robert Neville" and the general set-up of the plague situation. Other than that, there was very, very little similarity between the book and the movie. But I'm not sure which one I liked more.

Also somewhat disappointing, the book, when I picked it up from the library is 317. But only 170 of those pages are the "I Am Legend" story. The rest are a collection of short stories that didn't have much to do with the "Robert Neville - I Am Legend" story. But I guess we can't have everything in life.

This is the second of 26 books that I am looking to read this year... The first was HERE.

On to other books. Although I'm not sure what it will be. But my copy of the "Memoirs of Alexander Campbell" by Robert Richardson came the other day. That one will count as two books if I start into it next as it was originally two books... combined in one volume.


Snowing like crazy!!!


It is snowing like crazy outside. I haven't seen any totals yet... but it's looking like we got close to a foot. I worked from home today. They have plowed our parking lot three times today. It's crazy and now the wind is picking up which is making it more crazy.

Oh well.
At least I'm home and it's warm.


Smiley face on Mars

I saw THIS this morning on Marko's blog (who is totally shaking in his boots over this diet... I'm coming for ya Marko... I've lost 5 pounds already...)

I'm not sure how you can say there isn't a God when you see things like this.


Master mentor #8

This chapter is one of those chapters that makes you scratch your head and put the book down… maybe permanently. What is mean is this: in this chapter, the usually clear and fairly concise CS Lewis begins a fairly simple discussion of Dualism (“the belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything in creation, one of them good and the other bad” to quote CS) and then spins into a page and a half of head-scratching discussion on goodness, badness and the origins of it all. I understand… at least I think I do… where CS is going with this. But the casual reader might say, “I was good up until this point… then I got lost.” And they would likely be right. But what I found so interesting was that in his discussion of Dualism, there are likely a lot of Christians who would say that they agree with what dualism believes and is.
What I really liked about this chapter was CS’s illustration at the end of the chapter. It’s not a new illustration, but one that I like nonetheless. It’s the image of Christianity as a civil war in which we find ourselves living the land of the enemy. A story of how the true king who had landed in disguise to call us to be a part of “a great campaign of sabotage.” There’s just something about that that brings chills to my spine. There is something about that that taps into the wild, crazy guy in me. Something that makes we want to go out and do something!!!


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Master mentor #7

Monday – February 4, 2008 – Chapter 6 (Book 2, Chapter 1)
As CS begins another chapter, he begins to draw some conclusions about God and what is different about the God that we find with Christians and what others believe about God. He divides all humanity into two categories: those who believe in God and those who do not. At this point, he calls those who do not the minority. I don’t know if I agree that this is still the minority. Maybe this is a product of the fact that this book is over 50 years old. But maybe not. Secondly, he separates those who believe in God into two categories: those who believe that God is beyond good and evil and those who believe that God is good or righteous. He holds up his argument here.
But I want to go back to something that he said at the beginning of the chapter. CS says that he is going to start off by telling the reader something that all Christians do not believe: that is that all other religions are wrong all the way through. This is a thought that has popped up time and time again in my mind and one that I would resonate with.
This semester I am taking a course on the Muslim religion. A couple of weekends ago, I was sitting in this class in Indianapolis and as I was listening, Dr. Douglas was talking about how most Muslims see Christians (and in some contexts Americans) as irreligious because they never see us pray. But yet, if you asked most people what was one thing that they would recognize about Muslims is that they are required to pray five times a day. As a Christian, there is something a little bit convicting about that. In fact, I would say that it’s very convicting to think that Christians pray very little. But I would say that it would be a fairly accurate thought. Muslims are known for their devotion to prayer (discussion on rote prayers versus heartfelt and spontaneous prayers aside for now). But if a Christian were to begin practicing the habit of going outside or into their church and praying five times a day, most Christians would think that they had lost their mind. But there is still something compelling about their devotion to prayer. And something that should be considered and assimilated into our way of worshipping God. I am betting that it would help my relationship with God a great deal if I were to develop the practice of regular times of prayer.
There are always things that other religions and definitely some within the Christian religion can offer to encourage my relationship with God. For instance, I feel that Protestants (myself included) have a very low view and a very poor practice of the Lord’s Supper (communion or the Eucharist). But you would not make that accusation against a Roman Catholic or Lutheran Church. There is something there for me to learn. I wouldn’t say that I would consider becoming a Catholic or Lutheran for their communion emphasis anymore than I would consider becoming a Muslim for their prayer practice. But again, there is something to be learned there.
I do however agree with that CS says in following up on that thought… “But of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic – there is only one right answer to a sum” (pg 43).


Super Tuesday...

I voted this morning!!!

Today is "Super Tuesday" around the country and here in Illinois too. I swung by on my way out of town for school today and casted my vote in the primary. Who did I vote for???

I'm not telling...


Monday, February 04, 2008

Tim Hawkins - Cletus Take the Reel

Funny, funny, funny...

I found it HERE on YouTube and HERE on the Internet (thanks Chris!!!!).


Marko's in trouble... Biggest Loser Contest

Today officially begins the "Are You a Bigger Loser than Marko" contest through Youth Specialties.

Check out Marko's blog HERE.

Basically the premise is that if you can lose a greater percentage of weight than Mark Oestreicher at Youth Specialties, then you score some sweet YS stuff. If you are the overall weight loser... and there are about 300 of us in it... then you get a free admission to a YS conference this fall.

You'll see this morning's contest start official weight. 259.5. Part of the reason why I jumped in this is that I've got 12 weeks to lose weight. Last May - Sept, I lost 53.5 pounds. That was close to 20% of my body weight. I'm betting that since I haven't been real serious with the diet, I can jump back into shape and lose 35-40 pounds in the next 12 weeks. The only problem is with the weather, I can't really walk consistently. But I might be hitting the Charlestown mall for some indoor walking. Actually... I kinda bulked up a bit over the weekend (don't tell Marko)... but I picked up a few pounds (at a killer Super Bowl Party last night where I ate like a champ) so I can drop them quickly today.

So it's on Marko!!! And I would dare say that you are in trouble!!!