Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Little Bit of Cheer

I feel like we are always being bombarded with negative news. Awful statistics. Violent tragedies. Depressing outlook for this new generation. But I don't think that is the whole picture. I wanted to take just a moment to share with you some of the really encouraging things I've seen this week:

*dozens of teenagers donating their time after school to help clean up the elderly
living apartments on Mill Street. These young men and women have worked hard and
been faithful even when the temperatures dropped on Wednesday. They also took the
time to talk to and help some of the residents.

*Our youth ministry getting excited about giving to the needy world-wide this
Christmas. In just two weeks, our teenagers have already given $200 towards the
needs of children in foreign countries.

*A large team of adults who have been willing to give their time and money to
making these projects with our teens successful. As I have not been able to be at
the apartments after school, it has been so amazing for me to have these committed
adults helping out.

*A young man telling me in a lengthy conversation how he is seeking truth and
answers and attempting to make his faith his own.

*A young lady trying to follow God's direction for her life amid many struggles.

This list could go on. Sometimes, with all the negative press we read and hear, we wonder about this generation and where our world is going. But I believe if we open our eyes, we will see how God is raising up those in this generation who love Him and are going to make a difference in this world. Will you rejoice in these encouragements with me by continuing to pray for God to change the hearts and lives of us all!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Call to Knees

So I think God is trying to tell me something.

In last week's blog, I'd mentioned how I couldn't get that statement out of my head about needing more prayer and less activity on my life. That has continued this week along with situation after situation that is pointing me to prayer.

My daily Bible reading has been from the book of Revelation. Let me give you some snippets of what has jumped off the page at me.

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who live for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (Rev 4:9-11)

Then I heard every creature in heaven and earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshipped. (Rev 5:13-14)

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God (Rev 7:11)

Do you get the idea?

Every time you turn around these people are falling on their face praying and worshipping. And like I shared last night - since I'm white & nerdy, I looked up what that word "worship" meant in the original language. It means "to fall down, prostrate oneself, adore on one's knees."

You add to all of this the fact that several situations happened this week that I had no good answer to other than to just pray, and I'm pretty sure that God is calling me to pray. So I'm going to.

One of the interesting things I've been reading in a book about prayer is how transformational it can be for us to pray in the places where people who need him are. So I'm starting to spend some time praying in my school bus. I'm going to try to come early and pray at church for church. I'm going to spend some times praying for altar call time at the altars.

I don't know what this all means, but I feel that it is time to stop praying to receive stuff and answers and start just sitting at God's feet waiting for Him to guide and direct. I feel that God is trying to affect a change in me, and part of that means the period of constant activity with little or no prayer is over.

Will you pray with me?

Beard or No Beard - That is the Question!

This is seriously my new favorite YouTube video! I cannot get this song out of my head.

For more pro-mustache propaganda, check out

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Frizzle Fry

So I'm sitting here with smoke almost literally rolling out of my ears.

I just got done looking through my 254 new emails. Many were spam but many were important information: updates on accounts I have, ministry training, lesson ideas, articles about social justice, updates on youth ministry events. I cannot believe the amount of information that comes into my life each day. Why is it necessary for me to have so many emails?

I'm reading like six books right now other than Bible study. I read numerous magazine & journal articles about faith and culture and generational studies. I try to stay current with world news. I meet new people almost everyday and try to remember their names. And sometimes it can all be a little overwhelming.

So in one of those six books I'm reading, I came to this line this week: Then I began to think about my life, my journey. I knew that God had been affecting a change in my life - the era of constant activity with no prayer was over.

Did you hear that?

No I guess you didn't. You probably read it.

Let me say the shocking part again: the era of constant activity with no prayer was over.

That is not a statement we hear very often in our society. Usually everything we see or are taught points us to greater activity rather than less. But that's, of course, if you see prayer as inactivity.

We live in this world of craziness and I'm the number one subscriber. But these words, they are haunting me this week. Maybe I'm not supposed to keep up with all of this activity - all of this information. Maybe I'm supposed to build margin into my life. Maybe I'm supposed to slow down. Maybe I'm supposed to give God some room to work in my life. Maybe I'm supposed to pray, trusting that God is going to take care of things.

But the real question I have is, how do we do that? How do we stop doing so much stuff? What are the things that are going to have to change in my life? What will I have to give up? What sacrifices will I have to make to move to more prayer and less activity?

Let me know how you are building margin and space into your life this week.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shameless Plug

Ok, so I really don't want to use this blog space for announcements and stuff, but I am getting really pumped for the Youth Conference we are going to on November 16th & 17th. I've been looking online at info on the group that will be leading the conference - OneTimeBlind - and it has been like getting reacquainted with old friends. OneTimeBlind is this incredible drama group who used to perform at all of the CIY conferences until about four years ago...and then they dropped off the face of the planet. But now they are touring around, doing different conferences, and they are leading the Youth Conference at Windermere!!! How exciting!!!

Here's one of their skits.

So, anyway, the conference is going to be amazing. I really love how OneTimeBlind communicates truth in such a conversational, real-life sort of way. I mean, I think that is really what we are all looking for - a way we can understand how Jesus and God and the Bible really relates to my life. I was talking to a student last night after service and he was saying how he has went to other churches and they just feel "preachy", like they are talking some foreign language.

I was listening to a podcast from Rob Bell, pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, this morning. He was talking about how truth isn't so much about the words as it is about the actions that the words produce. He was saying that what we believe isn't found so much in our written-down-hung-on-the-wall-in-Grandma's-needlepoint statements of belief, but in what our lives really look like. That really challenges me. So often I am so worried about making sure I say just the right thing in just the right way. When I'm preparing a message, I often feel like I need to make sure I put certain words and phrases in there. But does my life reflect those words and phrases? What truths and beliefs does my life speak about?

I really pray that you get to come to the Fall Conference with us. I also really pray that all of us who go are brought to a place - a crisis of belief - where we have to apply truth to our lives. God Bless -m.e.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Child of the 80s Comes Full Circle

I know it may be hard for you to believe by my apparant hip cultured up-to-dateness, but I am really a nerd from the 80s. That's right. I wore parachute pants and Batman Underoos. I listened to Def Leppard and Cyndi Lauper. I identified with The Breakfast Club and wished I were Ferris Bueller. I played with Transformers before Shia LeBeouf was born. And, yes, I cried when I saw E.T.

What is really interesting to me, though, is how trends seem to come full circle. All of the old toys from my childhood are suddenly popular again. They are making movies and TV shows based on my childhood heroes. It is really strange to see things cycle. So, as I was surfing the 'Net the other day, I was particularly intrigued to find this video.

How amazing the similarities between a favorite movie of mine from the 80's - The Goonies - and the current pop icon - The Pirates of the Caribbean! Why is that? Creative Theft? Coincidence? Greed overcoming art?

I believe it is deeper than that. I believe all things cycle. Whether its art and fashion or economy and careers or faith and spirituality. As a Youth Pastor and a follower of Christ, it is interesting to me particulary to see how the cycles of revival work. It seems like every couple hundred years, the world becomes a mess. People are living for themselves. Money has become god. A few people start saying it may be the end of the world and...suddenly there is this great revival.

In our world today, there is so much talk about selfishness and disconnectedness and the sad state of everything, but I am starting to see signs of things changing (or coming back around again). There are people out there like Shane Claiborne who has taken a vow of poverty and is working with underprivileged people in the ghettos of Philadelphia...and people are joining him left and right. There are people like Mike Foster who is founding organizations like The Junky Car Club because he doesn't think we need more, we need to realize we have enough. There are people like Andy Freeman and Pete Greig who have been used to start a 24/7 Prayer Movement that is spreading across the world, inviting people to slow their lives down and center themselves on prayer and study with God.

And these things make me feel like I'm coming around to myself as well. They speak to deep parts of my heart and soul that say, "Things aren't as they are supposed to be! I need to slow down! I need to live differently than the world's system!" This current cycle of coming revival is showing me it is possible to be in the world but not of the world, as Jesus prayed for His disciples. That it is possible to not live under this high-pressure, must produce more, must never have free-time mentality.

So, how to wrap this up? I guess I want us to be encouraged that there is a hope for things to be set right. The ultimate cycle is that Jesus is coming back eventually to set an end to all this suffering once and for all. The other challenge is to start that process in our own lives this week. So let yourself have some down time. Create some space to breath and listen to God. Maybe watch one of your favorite shows from your childhood and remember the joy that you had when you were little...and know that within that joy is the fingerprint of what God hopes for us now! God Bless, m.e.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I just finished looking through several hundred pictures from our Panama Mission Trip, and I am reminded of so many things. It's amazing how that was only two months ago and in some ways it feels like forever. I saw pictures of things I don't even remember happening. I also saw pictures of so many people - so many children - that had moved my heart and that I had wanted to pray for and stay connected to. Yet time has passed and in a lot of ways, I have already forgotten.

It's funny to me how quickly we forget our commitments and our passions. I don't think it's funny to God though. But I also don't think it's a surprise to Him either. You know as you look through the Bible, I see so many things God has tried to do for us to help us remember Him and his commandments. He gave us Moses & the miracle of the Red Sea. He gave us the 10 Commandments on a tablet to be kept in God's temple. He gave us all of these festivals and holidays to remember how He delivered us or saved us or gave us grace. He's always telling people to pile up rocks in remembrance of something. And yet, the people always forget anyway. And we forget too.

But I don't want to forget. I want to remember the way I sensed God as I ministered to little kids who I couldn't even talk to because I didn't know their language. I want to remember how God has always pulled me through every tough and low time I've ever had. I want to remember the joy of being in worship. I want to remember what it felt like when I first realized that Jesus died for my sins. And I think it's going to take things like what God told the Jewish people to do. Set up a monument - a reminder - something that you can't miss that will put you back to where you were when God did something in your life. Maybe it's a picture you hang up somewhere you look everyday. Maybe it's posting up Bible verses. I don't know. But we need to think about this.

I'm going to hang the picture at the top of this post up at my desk with the verse Matthew 19:14
"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'"

What are you going to do to remember?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

answers, Answers, ANSWERS!!

Well hello fellow internet surfers! i just thought i'd share this amazing picture i took on my bike ride yesterday (if you haven't been outside to enjoy this weather, do so once you're finished reading this; its gorgeous!!)
This is the portion of the blog site where some deep, mind bloggalling (haha, i know it's corny) questions we all have, attempted to get answered; so lets begin this quality time!
Q: "In the ten commandments, they say "thou shall not lie," well everyone has lied at lease once, if not as an adult, as a kid. So does that mean that we are all goin' to hell? cuz it's a sin right?"
A: Yes it is a sin that every single person has committed, whether it be to stay home from school or to tell your teacher you like math so hopefully you'll get a better grade, everyone has lied before. Since we've committed a sin against God and are separated from Him, we are destined to live without Him for eternity,which is hell. But Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for all of humanity's sin against God. So it's our decision to accept what Christ has done so we can be cleansed from our sin and have a relationship with God now and for eternity. if you accept Jesus into your life, your sin is forgiven and hell isn't an option once passed away, but without Christ, hell is where someone will go.

Q: "Konnte Jesus andere sprachen sprechen?" or translated in english: "Could Jesus speak other languages?"
A: Well I assume He could since He is both fully God and fully human, ha ha, but the last time i knew, the only language we know that Jesus spoke as Aramaic.

Q: "Is it our job to get people saved? or are we only called to show love and share truth with them? Are we suppose to convince people to get saved, or is that something that God has to reveil to them in their hearts?"
A: Good question! i know i've wondered about this too! I think the answer is what you said after your first question: we are to be a light in this dark world so they can see the truth, but we can't make people recieve salvation, that is the job of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin and convince's them of God's reality and redemption that can recieve. So it's not up to us to convince them. The 10 commandments shows people they need a Savior and God works in their hearts, but is ultimately up to them whether they want to recieve His grace and mercy or not.

Q: "Today's society says: Got a bad habit or problem? use a self help method (ex: books, group meeting, etc.). God provides us with the "Holy Spirit" as means of supernatural help. Please explain how the Holy Spirit does this."
A: Great point, today's society is very much so a "do-it-yourself" culture. To be honest i don't know if anyone knows how the Holy Spirit changes people in supernatural ways and i dont think we'll ever know, whether it be He changes peoples habits, changes chemicals in their brain, gives them the strength to do whatever, no one really knows. And it's interesting to notice that in the Gospels, Jesus never heals someone the same way twice, so maybe the Spirit of God is that same way too; He treats everyone with help that is relevant to just them. i hope that somewhat helps! :)

Q: "If God can speak to us through dreams, then does that mean Satan can too?"
A: Wow, i've never thought of that before, it's a very interesting thought! To be quite honest, i have no idea, and i don't know if we could find that answer in Scripture (let me know if i'm wrong!), but maybe we can look to the book of Job for some help. In the first two chapters, we see that before Satan can do anything, he needs permission from the Lord before he acts. i dont know if the Bible says he can or cant communiate through dreams, but maybe Job chapters 1-2 can give us some insight. (you should read the chapters, they're fasinating!)

Wellp friends, there is more to come! Some questions have got me having to do some tough looking through the Bible, asking about salvation and what some words really mean, so keep checkin back on here from some intense questions or maybe they'll be answered at one80 on wednesday! WOOT WOOT!
Have a merry weekend!
benjamin guganhime.......what?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Little Bit of Heaven

As I sit here this morning, typing on this lovely blogsite, I am enjoying what may be the best drink known to man - A Bull & Berries found exclusively at Today's Technology right here in Buffalo, MO!! It is a perfectly balanced blend of the finest berry juices mixed with a couple of cans of the world famous Red Bull energy drink! I recommend it for anyone needing a pick-me-up or an anxiety attack. It probably has enough caffeine in it to kill a small herd of African rhinos. It is exactly what this youth pastor needs!

But what makes this drink particularly wonderful this morning is it was an unexpected gift. I was sitting at church in my post-Wednesday stupor, trying to make sense of the numbers and letters organized on my computer monitor, when Anna Earls came walking into the Family Life Center with this amazing drink. It literally made my day. And isn't it funny, how such a little and seemingly insignificant thing like a ridiculously over-caffeinated beverage can be the difference of how you view your day.

One time Jesus was talking to a bunch of people on a hillside and he told them, "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." I am praising God this morning because Anna thought to bring me my favorite drink. So how can we follow Jesus' words and Anna's example today? Can you buy somebody a drink? Can you give someone an encouraging word? Can you help somebody in some way, even if it seems small? Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest impact.

Friday, August 31, 2007


I love fairy tales. Actually, I love all stories that have some sort of fantastic element to them. The best ones, to me though, are the ones that seem very realistic only to have this incredible, sci-fi twist in them.

So I'm reading this new book (Actually it's a really REALLY old book with a new cover that looks cleverly oldish) by this guy G.K. Chesterton, who lived like about a hundred years ago. It's all about how people have lost their minds and fail to admit that there is any absolute truth. (And we thought this was a NEW problem!) And it's pretty interesting and then it happened...

I turned the page to Chapter 4 and there it was.


My heart skipped a beat. I couldn't believe it. My mind starts racing. What amazing correlation to pointy ears and great archery skills could Chesterton possibly put in his book? Now this book is getting GOOD! So I read on as Chesterton tells how he learned all he needed about ethics and philosophy from fairy tales: chilvary & justice & pride from "Jack & the Beanstalk"; Humility & honor from "Cinderella"; love & inner beauty from "Beauty & the Beast"; the curse of death & sin from "Sleeping Beauty". But he goes on to say that we have lost that sense of charm, magic, the supernatural by our obsession with facts & scientific laws. We no longer believe in miracles. And we have lost our wonder at life because we are certain that pears always grow on pear trees and chickens only lay eggs and cancer equals death.

So my challenge for us in this thought is "How am I missing the supernatural presence of God by my literal interpretation of what I see?" It is not the norm to believe that donkeys can talk or cripples can walk or dead men can be awoke. These things are against the scientific laws of the day. But do you believe they are possible? What things are keeping you from expecting to see God do the unexpected?

Friday, August 24, 2007


So it was the Thursday morning after. I was sitting at my computer, thinking about the previous night's festivities - the excitement of all the new faces at our kickoff, the encouragement of responses to our new theme and the challenge to live differently - and wondered what I should do as a followup/response for all of that. And lo and behold, in my mountain of emails I got a link to the above video.

Besides being a really good song by a really good band (MuteMath is great - if you haven't heard them before, you have now and should continue to hear them) and an exceptionally creative video, the message of this goes right along with our challenge from Wednesday - How are you going to live differently?

As we talked about on Wednesday, I believe one of the biggest elements to this question is what needs to be made new. Not just covered over or taped up or temporarily fixed, but what do I need to let Jesus truly make new in my life. I want to hear from some of you. What are the things that you need to be new in your lives?

I pray that you are having an A*Typical day!

**By the way, you can search on under "Mute Math Typical Forward" to see the video the way it was actually filmed. Pretty amazing!**

Monday, August 13, 2007

In the Beginning...

"In the beginning God created the blog, and He saw that it was good."
...or something like that.
So Calvary Chapel's youth ministry now has it's own interactive blogsite, which is a part of our new website, our new theme - 180, and a new direction for our ministry. Over the next few weeks and months we hope to see this blog become a place to exchange information and ideas. We plan on using it to talk about events, convey some ideas, let you in on crazy fun stuff we find out about, and answer questions (such as those placed in our Question Box on Wednesdays). But even more than that, we want this to be a place to hear from you.
We want to know what is on your heart. What is it that is keeping you up at night? What are you excited about in your life? What is hard in your life? What are your dreams? What are your nightmares? How does God fit into your life? What about church confuses you?
See, we all have these questions. And for so long there has not been a safe place to ask them. We want this blog to be a place of community where we can start to see that a different world is possible. A place that communicates how relevant faith in Christ is for today, even if we don't have all the answers. A place where we can converse about our journey and offer encouragement to press on.
When Jesus invited His first disciples to come and follow Him, he was offering an opportunity to get to know who He was. Those relationships changed the world forever. We believe that relationship can do the same today. So we invite you to join us in turning the world right side up! God Bless.