Stand-Up Comedy

I did it.  But really we did it.

I used Michael Hertzog and his pending performance as an excuse to get out there and try to do open mic comedy.  I’ve always wanted to try it, and I was prepared to suck, and it went way better than I thought it would.   I was nervous about this all week.  I don’t really ever get nervous, but this was something totally different.  I had nothing to hide behind except the microphone.

I am so glad that I had a ton of friends in the audience.  Thanks to everyone who came out.  It was fun and terrifying, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my friends.  Chris recorded this for me.

I’ll let you know if I ever do this again.

Vacation Reading – The Value of Story

Over the past week my family has been on vacation.  We went to Ocean Shores, WA.  In October Ocean Shores is closed.  You can still go there but there are 4 stores open and it rains the whole time.  This is a great vacation destination for me because my favorite thing to do on vacation is . . . nothing.  Not so great for a 3 year old and a 1 year old.  They like to be very busy.

However, on my vacation I was able to do something that I don’t get to do too often.  I read a novel.  All throughout Jr. High and High School I read tons of novels.  I loved fiction.  I had my favorite authors and I read everything the released.  But during college my love for fiction was beaten out of me.  Instead I read text books that, while interesting, rarely grabbed my attention or forced me to turn the page.  Reading became enjoyable work.

I still read a lot.  I’m back in school so I’m reading all the time.  And while on vacation I brought a couple of my text books to try to work through.  I also brought along Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.  I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about little brother so I checked it out from the library to see what all the fuss was about.

The Story is about a high school student, Marcus, who is a tech whiz.  He lives in San Francisco and during the aftermath of a terrorist attack on the Bay Bridge, Marcus and his friends are aarrested by DHS and interrogated.  Marcus engraged by his wrongful arrest and the dissappearance of his friend develops a way to circumvent DHS’s attempts to watch what he and his fellow SF natives are doing.

Doctorow does a great job of writing like a teenager, he doesn’t try too hard to sound hip.  Also, the author isn’t just telling a story, he very clearly has some opinions on DHS and the political entities that created DHS protocol after 9/11.  Of particular concern to Doctorow is domestic spying on innocent US citizens.  Make no mistake Little Brother is a very political piece.  But the political principles can easily be absorbed in the power of the story.

One thing that I think education is lacking is helping students to understand that story is just as powerful as principle driven non-fiction.  Story helps us see how principles play out in the every day situations of life.  Even if the situation seems far fetched, the story still carries principles farther than bullet points, statistics and graphs ever could.

Love it or hate it, The Shack is a successful book because it attempts to teach theology in the form of a story.  The same can be said for Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian series.  These are stories about people trying to come to grips with challenging ideas and the implications that those ideas have on life.

The conference that I want to go to the most is Story.  It’s next week.  I don’t really have time or money to go to this conference so I’m eager to try to get some audio or video afterwards.  The organizer of Story, Ben Arment, has seen the value and power of stories, and he want church leaders to grow in their understanding of story’s power.

Much of the Bible is a story, and Jesus was the master story teller.  In just a few sentences he could communicate a powerful truth through the story of a farmer who was sowing some seeds, or a woman looking for a coin, or about a son who left his father’s estate.  These stories are gripping.

I want to fall in love with story again.  All of life is a story and I don’t want to miss my story.  I also want to pay better attention to the stories of those around us.  But I also want to communicate through story.

I don’t know what my next novel read will be but I’m looking forward to the experience.

Ordering My Digital World pt. 1 – Distractions

It’s so easy to get distracted by all the digital noise around us that we can lose sight of what we need to be doing.  And by writing this post I may be adding to the digital noise.  But I hope to be a help.

Watch this video from Pastor Josh Harris:

When I watched this I was in a place where I knew that I needed to change my interaction with technology or it would continue to dominate my schedule and hinder me from getting things done that I need to get done.  So I’ve been taking some steps to help organize my digital world.

Step 1) Twitter

Instead of getting on Facebook to update my status and then getting sucked into status updates, new pictures, people surveys, pillow fights, etc.  I decided to be active in Facebook without needing to use Facebook all the time.  That solution for me is twitter.  I can updated my status from my phone and twitter is connected to my Facebook profile so it looks like I’m on there and using it but I’m not.  I do hop on Facebook.com from time to time but this little work around has been a huge time saver for me.

Step 2) Email Hours

Usually I keep my email open all day, and when a new message comes in I check it and reply instantly.  I have been trained like a rat with cheese to get that immediate gratification of pushing the button to get more cheese.  It’s insane.  But I’ve also realized that I’m not very good at responding to email when I have it open all day.  I just tell myself that I’ll get to that email later.

My hope is that by making my email checking intentional I will actually answer email and I won’t be distracted by every message that passes my inbox.  We will see.

I also send out an auto response to people saying, basically, thanks for sending me your email.  I’m going to answer it at either 8am, 11am or 3pm.  So that gives me a little bit of accountability as to when people should expect a response from me.  I think this will help me quite a bit.

Ideally, I would like to check my email once a day.  I’m stealing this idea from Tim Ferris and The 4-Hour Work Week.

Step 3) Blog Checking Hours

I follow about 95 blogs in Google Reader.  I don’t read that many blogs every day but I at least scan through them.  Blogs have been a valuable resource for me.  I can get news, ideas, and inspiration from leaders and and thinkers around the world.  So I’m going to limit my blog reading to 8:30-9:00 am and 8:30-4:00 pm.

My hope is that all of these little things will help me to eliminate distractions and help me to get things done.

What ways do you order your digital world?

The Body

Ephesian 4:11-16

“And he [Jesus] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

This is the pastors job description, and the goals of our job.  Ultimately, Jesus has called pastors and teachers, and leaders in the church, to help the church grow up.  Pastors are instructed to build maturity, equip people to do the ministry, and to keep the Church on course, instead of being blown about by the trends and waves of the times.

This passage is often used as a proof text for giving away ministry to the church members, and that’s there, it’s important.  But what kind of ministry?  I think it’s supposed to be all kinds of ministry.  From teaching and preaching to serving behind the scenes.

This is really hard to do, because as I give up more and more of what I do, what am I going to do?  Well the pastors who are doing this are able to steer the ship, and keep it all focused on the mission.

But also the more I give away, the more I can love and serve the members of the church.  And the more I love and serve the more that will be reproduced in the life of the church.  What’s keeping the church from growing, I think, is love.  True biblically love for other members of our communities.

Just some thoughts.