Friday, February 26, 2010

Hammer's SYMC Fun

One of my buddies is planning a little fun at the conference this weekend. Check it out:

"I will be giving away prizes throughout the SYMC weekend. Why? 1) I love to be generous, 2) PEOPLE LOVE FREE STUFF! and 3) Sincerely, I love to connect with people. So if you want a chance to win, here's what you need to do:

Follow my twitter:

It's that simple. That's where everything will come from. It may be "find me here" or "bring this" or other random things, but it will be fun - and that's the whole point.

Please tweet this to your friends:

Random fun @ SYMC planned. Want FREE stuff? Check out or @ypmhammer for info. Pls retweet! #symc2010"

Sounds like fun to me. Can't wait to get started today.


Daily Read February 26, 2010

Psalm 90:1-2 (New International Version)

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.

2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

a time of change...

Last week I shared a very difficult decision to resign my position with Fox Valley with the elders and staff. This has been a very difficult time of praying, wrestling, thinking, talking and deciding. We feel, however, that we have arrived at a place of calm and clearness. We love this Fox Valley and we love serving with you and it has been incredible to serve with you for 5 years.

Over the past couple of years, many of you have invited us into your family. We truly appreciate your willingness to make us a part of your family. We have been thinking a great deal about family over the past year or so and have come to a difficult decision. We feel that it is best to be in a position where we can be near family.

There have been many ministry moments here at FVCC that we will treasure. Thanks for allowing us to serve with you and alongside you. We will be praying for FVCC through this time of transition.

We will be serving with FVCC through late April and the Middle School Believe trip. At the beginning of May, we will begin serving with North Terrace Church of Christ in Zanesville, Ohio.

We are grateful for your prayers during this difficult time of transition.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

I've Seen It All Music Video (HD) from NYMC - Jake Rutenbar

One of the best things about each Simply Youth Ministry Conference is an original Jake Rutenbar video. This was last year's... Can't wait to see this year's.

Here's a couple from the past HERE, HERE and HERE.


Daily Read February 25, 2010

Numbers 14:6-9 (New International Version)

6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Free Music... Derek Webb - Stockhold Syndrome

I love music!!!

Especially free music!!!!

So I was excited when I saw and heard that I could download the new album from Derek Webb - Stockholm Syndrome (HERE). That's awesome. At first, I thought I was just getting a track. Then after it took 5 minutes to download and I opened it, I realized that it was the whole album!


To get it, you've got to hook them up with some information. You've gotta give them your email address (where you'll get a code in a few minutes) and then either tweet about it or post it on your facebook page. But in my opinion, that's a small price to pay for a free album.

Check it out (HERE)!!!


Daily Read February 24, 2010

Numbers 9:15-23 (New International Version)

15 On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 At the LORD's command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD's order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the LORD's command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the LORD's command they encamped, and at the LORD's command they set out. They obeyed the LORD's order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Daily Read February 23, 2010

Numbers 6:22-27 (New International Version)

22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

24 " ' "The LORD bless you
and keep you;

25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;

26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace." '

27 "So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2010

The Simply Youth Ministry Conference is THIS weekend here in the Chicagoland area!!!

I'm excited about this for a couple of reasons.

First, I get to see some awesome people that I love to connect with. I traded emails with some great friends today (Ben, Dan and Ken) as we set up dinner plans for Friday night. It will be great to see some faces that I haven't seen in a year or so... and it will be great to catch up on ministry and life with folks that I have been connected with for 5+ years... that's awesome!!!

Second, I get replenished with some great encouragement. This conference has some top notch talent. We will be taught by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins. We'll be entertained by TobyMac and Nicole C. Mullin! That's worth the price of admission right there. Plus I'll rub shoulders with people who always challenge me and my thinking.

Third, it's right here in the Chicagoland... so I get to sleep in my own bed and still do the conference. I love to travel. But I also love to be home. It's great that it's here in Chicagoland... so I can drive in... do the conference... but then drive home and sleep in my own bed and hang out with my wife. Always a plus!!!

Finally, I get to make some new friends and encourage others. One of the unique and incredible things about this conference is that they shoot for relationships. The conference is big on relationships and relational time. I'll walk away having had some incredibly challenging conversations with people that I haven't met yet... but will after the weekend. I'll also walk away having invested in someone that I don't currently know. That's exciting.

I'm looking forward to this weekend. Looking forward to seeing old friends. Looking forward to catching up on life with them. Looking forward to making some new friends and new contacts. Looking forward to being taught by the best.

And looking forward to being replenished!!! Can't wait!!!


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Daily Read February 21, 2010

Leviticus 23:3 (New International Version)

The Sabbath
3 " 'There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Daily Read February 20, 2010

Leviticus 19:11 (New International Version)

11 " 'Do not steal.
" 'Do not lie.
" 'Do not deceive one another.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Running and diet update

It's been a while since I've updated everyone on my progress... and since today was a good day, I'll share.

The past couple of weeks have been a struggle. Just when I was starting to hit some respectable distances (5+ miles), I picked up my first (of many I'm sure) injury. I developed a pretty minor one... but irritating one... for my first. I've got some Achilles tendon "irritation."

My Achilles doesn't "hurt." It just feels irritating and irritated. It is more of an issue in the mornings and after running. There has been a little bit of swelling... which I've been fighting with time off (10 days), lower mileage (back down to like 2 and 3 miles), ice (almost every night) and Advil (3 times a day). And today, I pulled a great 3 mile run and didn't feel any Achilles irritation until I was past the 2 mile mark. (Which is better than when I started back... first time, felt it immediately... second, felt it about 1 1/2 miles in... so better).

But today, despite my nagging little issue, I put down a good run. I ran 3.13 miles at a 9m 55s pace. That was good because I was watching the time and trying to get 3 miles in under 30 minutes. So I was pleased. And the weather was awesome today... about 40 degrees (which is awesome for February in Chicago) and sunny... so I felt great.

On the diet front, I've broken through the 246 mark. This morning I weighed in at 243.0. And have been weighing in around the 242-245 marks. My new low weight barrier is 242.0. So... we're making progress.

Still shooting for 200.0 pounds by October 17. Can't wait to get done with this Achilles injury so I can hit the trail with reckless abandon.


Daily Read February 19, 2010

Leviticus 19:2 (New International Version)

2 "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daily Read February 18, 2010

For those of you who are reading along with me... keep it up. Some may think that I have stopped or fallen behind... because I haven't posted in a while. That isn't the case. If you are reading with me, then you will know that I'm in the middle of Leviticus... and frankly I've been struggling to find verses that I want to blog.

So... I'm still reading...

And I thought I'd jump out and post from a different place... even though I'm still reading in Leviticus... So here you go... you can read from a little prophet...

Zephaniah 3:17 (New International Version)

17 The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Muppets: Beaker's Ballad

This just kinda cracked me up... senseless craziness!


Watch it HERE

The Olympics and discipline

I get excited about the Winter Olympics.

So for the last few days, I've been on cloud 9. There are a couple of things about the Winter Olympics that I really like.

First, they happen during the winter... when the weather is no good outside... there's no grass to mow... or other things to keep me out of the house. So I can spend some extra time watching the games guilt-free that I should be doing something else.

Second, I love a lot of the winter olympic sports... I love the snowboarding (Shaun White), snowboard cross, downhill skiing (Lindsey Vohn), hockey, speed skating (Apolo Ohno), biathlon, luge and bobsled. (Just for the record... can't stand figure skating... ick!)

Third, because I ski and pretend to be athletic on the slopes, I enjoy these sports a little bit more because I feel a connection to them.

So I've been living high the last couple of days.

But as I watch these games, and so far, the competition has been really good. I keep thinking about discipline. These guys and girls make it look so easy. They make it look like they are having an absolute blast... which I'm sure they are. But they make it look effortless.

It, however, is nothing near easy or effortless.

These athletes have devoted all their energy and in many cases this lifetime to these games. They have worked, sacrificed, trained, learned, failed, fallen down, worked harder, got back up again, tried again and succeeded. And some of them come to these games and fail to win what they have sought so much.

It made me think of Paul's words... "12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 3:12-14, NIV

What are you striving for and pressing on toward?

"24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV

What are you training for?


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daily Read February 14, 2010

1 John 4:19-21 (New International Version)

19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Daily Read February 13, 2010

1 John 4:16-18 (New International Version)

16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Daily Read February 12, 2010

1 John 4:13-16 (New International Version)

13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daily Read February 11, 2010

1 John 4:7-12 (New International Version)

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Jesus is... (series)

I have to say...

I'm pretty pumped about our new series this weekend. For the next 6 weeks at High Voltage and Live Wire, we're going to look at Jesus.

Can't wait!

Hope you're there!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Daily Read February 10, 2010

Exodus 40:34-38 (New International Version)

34 Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Daily Read February 9, 2010

Exodus 35:20-29 (New International Version)

20 Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses' presence, 21 and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. 22 All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD.

23 Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. 24 Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. 25 Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. 26 And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. 27 The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

28 They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do.

TobyMac's new album "Tonight"!!!

It's been a while since I've been this excited about a new album...

But TobyMac's new album "Tonight" is awesome!!! (Pick up your copy of the deluxe edition HERE.)

I have always enjoyed Toby's music... but these tracks are so diverse in style. It's certainly his best work!!!

Good job Toby (not like you needed my encouragement...)!!! Keep turning out the awesome music!!


Monday, February 08, 2010

Daily Read February 8, 2010

Here's a Monday thought... one that we don't talk about very much in church... the need for rest. God believed that regular (weekly) rest was important. In a day and age when we're always on the go... go, go, go, go!!!!... Especially on Monday... Let this be a reminder for you. We all NEED a day of rest once a week!!

Exodus 31:12-17 (New International Version)

12 Then the LORD said to Moses, 13 "Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

14 " 'Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. 15 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.' "

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Daily Read February 7, 2010

Exodus 29:45-46 (New International Version)

45 Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. 46 They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Daily Read February 6, 2010

This verse has always made me chuckle... I'm not sure why...

Exodus 28:35 (New International Version)

35 Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Daily Read February 5, 2010

Exodus 17:8-13 (New International Version)

8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands."

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Daily Read February 4, 2010

Exodus 15:1-3 (New International Version)

1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD :
"I will sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea.

2 The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father's God, and I will exalt him.

3 The LORD is a warrior;
the LORD is his name.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Daily Read February 3, 2010

The blood of a lamb saved the Israelites... the blood of THE Lamb still saves us today...

Exodus 12:12-13 (New International Version)

12 "On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

D.R. Chili Dinner results!!!

We had a great D.R. Chili Dinner/Fundraiser.

If you missed it, not only did you miss the chance to enjoy some incredible chili. You also missed the chance to support our high school students and their upcoming D.R. trip over spring break.

We had a great turnout Friday night. We had over 200 folks show up and over $2,500 was raised for the trip!!!

That's great!!! Thanks to everyone who came!!!


Daily Read February 2, 2010

Exodus 4:10-12 (New International Version)

10 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

About Groundhog's Day... as it relates to youth ministry

I'll come right out and say it...

I hate "Groundhog's Day."

Actually the only thing that I like about Groundhog's Day is the movie pictured here (called Groundhog's Day) with Bill Murray. The movie itself is pretty good. Actually downright hilarious in places. But I digress...

I hate the Groundhog holiday. Not just dislike it... but actually hate it.

Here's why:
  • It's silly.
  • It's pointless.
  • It's dumb.
  • It makes us all look dumb because it's silly, pointless and dumb.
  • It means nothing and has no practical function.
  • It's based completely on tradition that has no basis in fact and is in fact counter-intuitive in nature in that sunshine should mean the end of winter but in fact this sunshine produces a shadow that drives the little varmit (supposedly... even though they drag him out of a fake hole in a fake stump in front of 40,000 people and 100 cameras... who in the world could see a shadow in the midst of that mayhem anyway... and which shadow of the 99 did he see from all the cameras flashes anyway... before he supposedly whispers in the ear of the dopey-looking guy in a top-hat (if I were Phil, I'd bite him in the ear... seriously!!???) back into his hole for 6 more weeks of winter!!!!
  • There is little to no benefit in it.
But I digress again... I told you... I hate this holiday... (which shouldn't be a holiday, mind you... if I could find the idiot who made this a holiday I'd smack him... and now the stupidity seems to be spreading... we have Phil, Dave, Chuck, Sam, Willie (2 of them), Mel, Jimmy, Spanish Joe (Spanish Joe?) and General Beauregard Lee giving different predictions... ugh! Don't we have Weather Channel and can figure out the weather from someone better than a rodent?) But I digress again and again...

But I promise this rant does have a youth ministry and leadership point. It's just that every time I start typing, I'm reminded of how stupid this whole thing is and my fingers just take off.

I guess here's the point:
What in our ministries are we doing that doesn't have a point, help our ministries and only drains resources?

I look at Groundhog Day and I think "really?" Are there things in our ministries that we should look at and say "really? we're still doing that? why? what's the benefit?"

  • Shouldn't we have some regular time of reflection on our ministries?
  • Shouldn't we step back every once in a while and say, "Do we really need to do that anymore?"

Obviously I think we should. (I think we should collectively rise up and say to those who make calendars... stop putting Groundhog's Day on the calendar because it's not a real holiday.) I think we should look at our youth ministries and say, "We don't need that anymore," "That isn't helpful," "That needs to be changed to be more productive," "That doesn't serve a purpose."

But I know that there are some Groundhog Day lovers out there. (And feel free to skip commenting on this blog because you won't convince me of its importance... and don't misunderstand my rant to be a PETA-save-the-animals thing... it's not.) I'm for evaluation. I'm for taking a look out what we're doing, why we're doing it and deciding if its still worth the time and energy that we put into doing it.

Most of us don't want to do that kind of heavy lifting. It's much easier to do what we've always done. It's much easier to let something happen than fight to eliminate it or change it. Why? Because somehow that "something" got on the calendar because someone thought it was important. And in order to change it, you might have to have a hard conversation with someone about why it should be eliminated or changed. Which will lead to conflict. So we avoid it. Because that's easier.

That's no good.

And it makes us look silly, pointless and dumb (although... maybe those are harsh words). Rather, it makes us look irrelevant, wasteful and out of touch.

And many times, that's how the world sees the church. In part, because some of our ministries (and I'm not saying all... and I'm certainly not immune...) are doing ministry like they did 15-30 years ago. We're not evaluating, questioning, taking a look at what we're doing. We're often not asking the hard questions. We've often not having the hard conversations. We're often not employing the creativity in our minds to come up with new solutions to old or new problems.

So... just like Groundhog's Day... we continue to do the same things over and over again.

So... what?
  1. We need to evaluate what we're doing.
  2. Compare it with what was important to Jesus and His vision for His church.
  3. We need to ask the hard questions.
  4. We need to have the hard conversations.
  5. We need to eliminate or change those things that don't fit the vision for Christ's Church. (Matthew 22:37-40, Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew 9:35-38)

So we can grow.

(And hopefully get rid of dumb holidays... like Groundhog's Day...)


Feel free to jump in and comment (unless you're just trying to convince me of the importance of this supposed holiday... in which case... save the keystrokes...).

Monday, February 01, 2010

Idol Worship - Skit Guys

An incredibly powerful video about idol worship. Awesome. Especially in light of the Super Bowl coming up this weekend.


Check it HERE

Daily Read February 1, 2010

Exodus 3:14-15 (New International Version)

14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.