Oct 16, 2008

bye bye blogspot

I'm moving over to wordpress.

I'll be at ryanguard.net so come on over and check it out.

farewell blogspot.

new creation

I know this video has been pretty viral, but I wanted to showcase it here too! So good.


New Creation from FC Post on Vimeo.

Oct 15, 2008

about a baby

About 7 months ago, while I was working at Cornerstone, I got a call from a very concerned woman. She didn't go to Cornerstone but she needed to talk to a pastor. She connected with me because she was concerned for her granddaughter who was a high school student, and I was the high school pastor.

Her granddaughter Chelsea was 15-years-old and had just become pregnant. To make things worse, she was about to get an abortion. Here's a portion of the email I sent out to our church staff after my first conversation with Chelsea:

"I got a call today from the grandmother of a 15-year-old girl who is pregnant. She is heavily considering getting an abortion, and to make things worse, her mom thinks it is a great idea. Apparently her mom and even her grandmother have both had abortions in the past. The grandmother and mom are pulling her in two different directions on this one. At first, her grandmother asked the pregnant girl (Chelsea) to meet with a pastor. Chelsea said absolutely not, but a few days later she called her grandmother in tears and agreed to meet with one. So I got a call just now from grandma, who put me in touch with Chelsea. Chelsea agreed to meet with me on Thursday to talk about everything. Apparently her mom is pressuring her to make a quick decision, even recommending that Chelsea end the pregnancy tomorrow. Chelsea told me on the phone that she won’t make any decisions until after we talk on Thursday. She seems very much in favor of getting the abortion."

So I asked for prayer, and did my best to prepare for our conversation a few days later.

I can imagine what their thoughts and conversations must have been like on the way there.

"Maybe this is the best thing for the baby."
"I'm just not ready to be a mother."
"Maybe we'll just go ahead and do this today before it gets any harder."

Here's the second email I sent my team:

"I got a call from Chelsea's grandma (who has been opposed to the abortion the whole time). Chelsea's mom, who has been pressuring Chelsea to get an abortion quickly, set up an appointment for her today at an abortion clinic she found online. Chelsea agreed to go with her mom, saying that she would at least listen to them... but saying she didn't want to get an abortion today.


So they get in their car, on their way to the abortion clinic. They arrive, and the first person they see is a woman who is from Cornerstone. Why would they see a woman from Cornerstone at an abortion clinic? Good question... The mom had made a mistake. She searched online for an abortion clinic, but to her dismay she accidentally located the CHANDLER PREGNANCY CENTER which is a CHRISTIAN Pregnancy Center that exists to help young women handle unplanned pregnancies.


It gets better. After realizing their mistake, they still agree to hang out and listen to what the Chandler Pregnancy Center has to say about abortions (they are very gentle by the way). After watching some videos and listening to the details about abortions, Chelsea left feeling absolutely opposed to the abortion plan. Not only that, her mom apologized to her for ever having pressured her to get one. She told her daughter that it is completely up to her what she does with the baby!!!


I was upset before I learned this because I was planning on asking Chelsea to go and visit that very same clinic... but we weren't meeting until Thursday night at 6:00, and the clinic is closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I knew that waiting the entire weekend was way too long. So God went ahead and did what only he can do.


Chelsea said she still wants to meet with Lindsay and I on Thursday. She said she wants to talk more about some of the options that the clinic told her about. As best as I can tell, it sure does look like this baby is on its way!!!"

Chelsea and I actually got to share this story at a banquet for the pregnancy center a month later, and this past Sunday she had her baby dedicated at Cornerstone.

Oct 14, 2008

are you fat?

I got to have lunch with a guy named Fred Morse today. Fred has been working in church ministry for over 40 years. It was awesome to share a table with him for an hour.

He told me that I will speak to the masses as a pastor, but that I will have the greatest impact by focusing in on just a few lives. He told me to find a few fat guys to pour into, which was a whole lot funnier to hear him say than it is to read me writing it!

"Fat friends are faithful, available, and teachable."

Are you fat? Are the people you're leading fat? Do you like acronyms as much as me?

Oct 13, 2008

humbled

I played 18 rounds of golf this morning for a "pastor's appreciation" tournament... and I was horrible. horrible. horrible.

And then I played in our first softball game tonight and we lost, and I was horrible again.

This was my worst day of sport-playing ever!!!

I am sitting here in awe of my badness.

Anyone wanna play some Scrabble on Facebook with me?

:(

Oct 9, 2008

we we our we our we we we us we we us our we

The confusing title is the exact order in which John unleashes these plural pronouns in the first four verses of 1 John.

Fourteen of them in 4 verses. It seems a little bit redundant, doesn't it? Perhaps a bit excessive?? We, we, our, we, our, we, we, we, us, we, we, us, our, we...

But then I remembered the story of Ephesus.

Just 70 years before John moved there, a small group of Christians moved in, and God used that small pack of Jesus followers to turn the entire massive city around. A group of people committed to living out this new way of life, smack dab in the middle of the scariest, nastiest, sex-crazed'iest, goddess-worshiping, self-castrating, erotic festival attending community of people that you can imagine.

But things had changed as we know. It wasn't just John. It wasn't just one man with one story. It was a WE story. To John, it was an US story.

I can just picture him writing this opening paragraph; maybe looking up and down the street he lived in while writing this from his home in Ephesus. Maybe he was with some friends. Maybe they were sharing stories. And John, who had all the authority that anyone could ever have, couldn't help but mention that it was a group effort. It was a group experience.

I'm so grateful that it is a group thing, and not a lone ranger thing.

Oct 7, 2008

is that in Newport?

Every time someone talks about something being in Newport, I can't help but ask, "Is that in Newport?"

Here's why!

Oct 6, 2008

domain name

I have been TORN between a few domain names... wanting to ditch the blogger account pretty bad. I have a Wordpress blog set up, but I just can't decide on a domain... will someone hack into ryanguard.com and steal it for me? God will forgive you. In fact, he already has ;)

Any ideas?

Oct 4, 2008

drafts

how many drafts do you have saved in your blog? sometimes i write these ranting manifestos of madness late at night, usually to just save them into the "drafts" category for no eyes to see but my own.

do you write things and delete them? do you have a hard time articulating what's going on upstairs, or maybe a filter that just won't let your thoughts come all the way through to the publish button?

do you tell everyone what you really think?

i usually don't hit publish because i occasionally come to disagree with my own rantings... but isn't that all a part of the process of maturing?

i need to be a better journaler...

on my face

A few years ago I skateboarded out onto the patio of my church as all of our students were arriving for the Wednesday night gathering. As soon as my 6'3" awkward body came into full view of everyone my skateboard decided to remove itself from underneath me. It was like someone had tied it to a plane that was taking off... and I was AIRBORNE! I came crashing down in front of everyone, and played it off by laughing as hard as I could and them stumbling away.

Last night I was walking towards a group of students, separated only by a two-foot wall. They saw me coming, and watched as I started to hop over the itty-bitty wall. But my right foot didn't quite make it... instead, my toe caught, which sent me spinning forward, crashing my shin into the aforementioned wall, giving the inertia of my tumbling body enough of a boost to send me into a complete cartwheel. And I just laid there on my back, wondering if God hated me.

Two-foot tall wall... I have a huge lump on my shin, not to mention the emotional scars.

Oct 2, 2008

love and legacy

I just spent the past four days with the Calvary pastors at Hume Lake's annual Pastor's Conference. We actually played hooky from most of the planned programs so that we could hang out as a team. We spent most of our time talking about the strengths of each and every one of our teammates. It... was... awesome. I'm not just saying that. I mean, it was remarkable. I am so grateful to be on a team that loves one another as much as these people do, and that has a legacy of building relationships and ministries as powerful as the ones that are on display here.

Tomorrow night at Calvary we have an event aimed at drawing hundreds of high school students to Calvary's campus. We have all sorts of lures in the water for this one. I'm supposed to take the stage for about 7 minutes to explain that we are a community of people that wants to journey through life with everyone in attendance. I'd rather say that we are a group of people who are convinced that the 2,000-year-old teachings of a Jewish rabbi have demolished our previously held worldviews and left us completely dissatisfied with any and all competition, oh and that our world is screwed up, and that they are way too smart to fall victim to the same old lies, and that change is possible, but that none of the candidates on TV can deliver the type of change that we need. And that our way of life is better, but that they will never know that unless they come and taste and see that there is nothing better than Jesus.

Sep 29, 2008

hume lake

Heading up to Hume Lake in an hour for their annual pastor's conference. I've been to a few of these in the past at Hume, but always to the "youth pastor" ones. I guess I'm growing up.

I don't even know what to hope for. I really don't even know what I need. I haven't slowed down long enough to listen to myself. I don't even know what that last sentence means...

The speaker has the beastliest goatee I've seen in a while (how did my spellchecker not underline "beastliest" just now?). I hope that his messages are at least as compelling as his goatee. Worship is being led by a married couple, which has me a little bit worried.

The conference could be wretched but it'll still be sweet hanging with my team for the week! We'll just sit in the back and make fun of everyone if it's boring (like my back row kids on Wednesday nights).

Sep 25, 2008

bailouts and babies

A few years ago I had an idea- a bad idea, but an idea nonetheless. It started out like this...

I was tired of reading and seeing story after story of people having babies and mistreating them, abandoning them, or just being rotten parents in one way or another. So often we see people having unplanned pregnancies, but the parents in many of these situations have no interest in being parents, or even the capacity to do so. They lack the skills at times to take care of themselves, let alone a newborn, a toddler, or a child of any age for that matter. So my idea was this:
Tie everyone's tubes very early on. As early as possible. If people want their tubes untied, they should pass a test that would in some way demonstrate that they are capable of caring for another human being. This way there are no accidents, and at least we have a test to blame if things go wrong down the road.

I told you it was a bad idea. But I liked it because I didn't like people having the freedom to create life so easily. Now, I know the verses about God knitting people together and seeing us before we were created, and I affirm that, but this is about babies being born into destructive, toxic, impossible situations because two people who should never be parents became parents.

But God is God, and he can handle all of that.

But this idiot has an idea and its even worse than mine. And the difference between his idea and my idea- I was kidding.

*Speaking of bailout money- why don't we think about spending 700 billion dollars addressing the poor and sick and starving people in America, instead of using it to bail out big business once again??? But that's another entry for another time...

Sep 24, 2008

mario bros!

this is so stinking CREATIVE!

Click HERE for some advertising geniusness...

leadership

I've thought a lot about how infatuated the Church has become about "leadership" in recent years. It's one of those sexy topics that are fun to blog and write books about. I was clicking around on Dallas Willard's website today and I found this three-part interview he did for Relvant Magazine. Here's a chunk of it:
[RM]: “So, are you saying we have a crisis of follower-ship rather than a crisis of leadership?"

DW]: “Now you’re going to get me in trouble. (Laughs) The fact of the matter is this leadership thing has just gone crazy. It is actually not from the Church, it’s a carry-over from the Culture and it’s one of the many ways that the modern church has bit and swallowed the contemporary culture whole. It is just shameless the way we go on about leaders and various kinds of figures. You’re absolutely right, it’s a crisis of ‘follower-ship’ and of leaders themselves living as disciples and inducting others into discipleship, not to them, but to Christ. It’s just heartbreaking to see this thing on leadership and how this has progressed. You remember Jesus saying, ‘Call no man Master, you have one Master.’ Don’t call anyone Teacher, don’t call anyone Leader or Doctor or whatever. We’ve got a leader, let’s follow Him!"

Sep 23, 2008

quotable

I wrote this one down a few years ago at Passion '05, or '04, or '98 or... I can't remember. It's Louie Giglio dropping a Romans 7'esque chunk of truth on us.
"God had an idea. He said 'I'm going to put the one who can live the Christian life inside of the one who can't live the Christian life so that the one who can live the Christian life can live the Christian life inside of the one who can't live the Christian life'."

Sep 21, 2008

wasting time

One of my hugest pet peeves is wasting time. I'm not a fan of:

Sleeping
There is no greater waste of time than sleep. I understand the restorative effects, and I don't care. I once heard someone say that God forces us to need sleep to reinforce that He is God and we are not. I would rather have the extra 24 years of life than a daily reminder of my utter dependence on Jesus. I'm reminded of that dependence about every five minutes when I'm awake!
Attending meetings that have nothing to do with me
Thankfully this hasn't happened at Calvary yet. I become a whiny mess when I'm in a meeting about parking lots, Goldfish Cracker consumption in 3rd grade Sunday School classes, etc...
Youth ministry programs and events that add little or no value to students' lives
I'm constantly questioning why we do what we do, whether that's a weekly gathering or an event of some sort. This is only my third month at Calvary. and for the most part I have played the role of spectator/evaluator/hand shaker. To clarify, I'm definitely not saying that I feel like we're wasting time at Calvary. Quite the opposite. I couldn't wait to come and be a part of a church that prioritized that things that Calvary does! I've spent the past few months watching, critiquing, brainstorming, daydreaming, and praying for our youth group. I feel like God is bringing a new vision to life on our team. There's such a discontentment among the students and staff for anything that is stale, repetitive, predictable, or sacred in the cow sense. I really do love the elements we currently have in place (Sundays, Wednesdays, activities, etc...). Matt Doan has done a phenomenal job over the past nine years, and I'm never going to live up to his comparisons! But I'm excited to keep questioning our priorities, clarifying our goals, adjusting our approaches, and doing all of that in a place that hates to waste time to!

Sep 16, 2008

sometimes John Piper says things I disagree with

but this is not one of those times. You may have seen this already, but its a good rerun.

Sep 13, 2008

lazy day update

I visited Talbot yesterday and got to meet a couple of advisers. There's really only one degree that is appealing to me so far- the MA in Spiritual Formation. Only about 20% of people that apply for the degree program get accepted, but I'm an optimist. I would love to check out Fuller Seminary, but they're just too far away, and I'm not interested in studying at their extension campus in Irvine. Too small.

Got to watch the Angels beat the Mariners last night, courtesy of a walk-off homer by Mike Napoli. The crowd went nuts... those Angels fans know how to watch a game!

Hanging with Linds at home today. She's coughing a bunch, which won't stop her from screaming for her Buckeyes tonight at 5pm. I hope they win so she feels better.

Hoping that there are no more Ikes or train collisions this week. Seems like there has been an abundance of bad news this week- more than usual.

Sep 9, 2008

Romp 2008

Here's a peak at what went down at ROMP this year. Love my students... they know how to have some fun! Big thanks to the parents that did all of the work for us.

Sep 8, 2008

poverty, justice, and the fruit of the spirit

Brian Walsh (co-author of "Colossians: Remixed") has a great sermon transcript up over at the Empire Remixed blog. Check it out- it won't take ya more than 5 minutes.

Sep 7, 2008

"anger is a gift"

That’s a lyric from the song “Freedom” by my old favorites “Rage Against the Machine”. I used to listen to them daily as a teenager, feeding off of the songs big time (although I never had a clue what they were talking about!). Their songs would make me angry, and I enjoyed the feeling, but it was a completely pointless emotion. My anger wasn’t fueled by anything that they were singing about- instead it was a mixture of testosterone, pure teenage rebellion, and music being played really loud.

I talked to our students today about channeling their God-given capacity for anger towards something that was actually worth getting angry about. We spend so much time getting frustrated and angry about things that don’t matter, while we don’t get angry at things that we SHOULD get angry about! I’m pretty sure that it was this guy who I first heard this idea from years ago.

We looked at the account of Jesus healing a man’s hand on the Sabbath in Mark 3. As he was preparing to heal the man, Mark writes that he was “looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart”. They had completely missed the point of the Sabbath. Their hardened hearts were blinding them from seeing the better way to live out the commandments. But Jesus didn’t unleash the lightning bolts on them this time... (maybe if it was an OT story he would have). Instead he controlled and used his anger to fuel his next move: fixing the guy’s hand.

Then we looked at a couple verses from our old friend Amos- who pretty much lets us know that God hates church, if as a community we’re not getting angry at the right things and sticking up for people that need our help. I was going to take a look over at a time when the Apostle Paul got pretty angry, but it seemed a bit too vulgar for 9am.

I’m grateful for my gift of anger. I’m glad that I am frustrated by certain things. I’m excited to be a part of a church that gets angry about the same things, and to be alive at a time when the Church at large seems to be getting angry about them too.

Here are a few of the things I mentioned... do they make you angry?

Over 1 billion people still use unsafe drinking sources

Of the 2.2 billion children alive right now, about 1 billion live in poverty

About 5 million people in Sudan have no access to schools or health care

More than 1 billion people in the world live on $1 a day

More than 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation needs

114 million children worldwide don’t get even a basic education

584 million women around the world are illiterate

More than 800 million people go to bed hungry every day

Someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds, and most of them are under the age of 5

There are approximately 27 million slaves in the world today


All of my “SUPPORT THESE PEOPLE” links on the right are organizations that are doing something about these problems.

Sep 5, 2008

Dear loved,


I am writing to let you know how much you mean to me, and I'm hoping you'll start to see yourself the way that I see you. There's a lie out there that says that your self-worth equals your performance plus other people's opinions. I want you to know that's a lie. If you're thinking that life is hopeless, that you cannot change, that you are what you are, then let me free you from that. If you have feelings of shame or hopelessness, let me help you, please. Through my Spirit, new life and new possibilities are awaiting. You are my new, precious creation; in my hands. There is hope, I mean this.

Sincerely,

God.

}"The Search for Significance" by Robert McGee

bus stop monster

I saw this video over at Anne Jackson's blog. The idea is so simple and so thoughtful, it makes me want to open my eyes even wider to the needs in my neighborhood.



what?

Sep 3, 2008

one hit oneders

That's the name of my softball team. We've gotten together a few times to practice for our season opener on September 22nd. To put this all in context: I am fairly athletic, and I can usually compete pretty well at just about any sport. I'm probably best at basketball, but that doesn't matter right now. I disclocated my shoulder a couple weeks ago, and have been sore ever since it got shoved back in. So, hitherto therefore, I have been in a pretty considerable amount of pain during our practices, sometimes resulting in erratic throws and a lack of "bendage over" for ground balls... so what does our team captain do?

He assigns me to catcher, oh and right field as a secondary position when needed. That's sort of like if Barack Obama were to offer McCain a position at the White House as say... a tour guide. Now, no offense to White House tour guides- my lovely wife used to be one I think. But is that how you treat a war hero? Is that how you treat a guy that has given everything he has for his country (or perhaps his church)?

Catcher? I dare say not, Mr. Dedmon. He's not a blogger, so he won't read this. He doesn't even Twitter... He's too busy assigning himself to short stop and/or left field.

But I still love him- because Jesus tells me I have to. Plus he seems to feel pretty bad about the whole thing.

Aug 31, 2008

storm coming

"He knows there is a little storm coming, but as long as I am here, he's happy."

- Tracy Bayley, referring to her 4-year-old son who has been told about Gustav.

Aug 28, 2008

Getting Fired for the Glory of God

Cracking this one open tonight:

{update}

I deleted this post and a few of the comments because it was turning into a witch hunt. There are plenty of places to gripe and gossip on the internet, but I'd rather not have it take place here on my blog. I received some great advice and encouragement- but a couple of the comments frustrated me so I did some erasing. I'm at peace with the situation I originally wrote about- trusting that God is plenty capable of shining light where it needs to shine.


Aug 27, 2008

chris gniffke

Our 5/6 pastor has got some serious skills... watch out Chris Tomlin.

planning

I'm spending the next couple of weeks planning/finalizing the calendar for the 08/09 school year! I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders this year. I finally get to be in a place that cares about the things I care about, and embraces the style and philosophy of ministry that I do. I was getting tired of striving for goals that weren't my goals, and feeling like my pink slip was right around the corner if I missed my mark (little did I know that it WAS, haha, heh, eh...).

I get so frustrated with routines, pointless programs, and sacred cows. Thank God that the leadership at Calvary does too! I'm excited for this new school year. And I'm especially excited to have such a fantastic team at my side to tackle it with!

Feel free to chime in if there's anything you'd like to add to the planning conversation! What needs to come back? What needs to go away?

Aug 26, 2008

clueless

I'm getting ready to speak at an event here in Santa Ana, and I decided to look through some of my notes from when I first started teaching and sharing my story. I opened up the notes from one of the first times I shared my testimony in church. The first thing I noticed is how wretched my speaking notes were eight years ago! How did I ever teach using these? They are scattered and sloppy and WORDY (sorta like ME sometimes).

I see in my notes the line, "I don't know what's happening to me!"

I said that on September 1st, 2001 at Forest Home, after a long weekend of God wreaking havoc on my life. I was a Christian at that point, but I couldn't explain the way I was thinking and seeing the world any more. It had all just changed so rapidly. I sat there in front of the crew I had come with and babbled for a minute, trying to come up with words, and then I just sat there silently for a while and soaked it in as much as I could.

I had no idea what I was in for.

Aug 24, 2008

seminary shmeminary

I've spent about a jillion hours on the computer comparing Talbot and Fuller seminaries. I'd like to get started on my Masters Degree in the Spring of '09, so I'm trying to get registered this month!

Right now I'm leaning towards Fuller, but the biggest obstacle is that its about an hour drive each way. They have an Irvine extension campus, but it's in a boring office building, and they primarily use adjunct faculty from other universities and churches nearby. I'm sure they're great teachers, but I'm worried about getting a second-rate experience being away from the main campus. Talbot, on the other hand, is right down the street from me (on the Biola campus). Hmm.

My lead pastor is on "the board" at Talbot (not sure which board that is), so that makes Talbot a bit more appealing. Oh and like ten of our pastors have their Masters or Mdiv from Talbot too, so they're always wearing their t-shirts and trying to convince me. Both schools have some pretty impressive alumni to brag about. Rob Bell and Rick Warren went to Fuller, which is a pretty well-rounded pair when it comes to philosophy and doctrinal stuff.

I think this might be a win-win decision either way I go, despite what criticisms and opinions the zealous alumni on both sides have to say about the other school. If Fuller can offer me a top-notch experience (without forcing me to drive two hours once a week for three years) then... I'll probably land there.

What would YOU do if you were ME?

Aug 19, 2008

concert for a cause


This Sunday you're invited to come to a sweet concert at Calvary (and for a good cause)!

Bring a beach chair and a picnic dinner- we move the show out to the patio!

I'm a big fan of Trevor Davis, and I've heard nothing but good stuff about Project Hangout, so Linds and I will definitely be out there!

Aug 18, 2008

praise the Loooooooooord

Modesty is cool?

It's on CNN, so it must be true... right?

Aug 16, 2008

jet lag

I've been wide awake since 3:45 this morning. I woke up and was sure it was at least 7:00 or 8:00... but nope. I tried to wake Lindsay up by rolling around over and over, but to no avail. She's still in there sleeping like a baby.

So, I did some reading, had some cereal, and now I'm trying to ignore the worldwide worship of Michael Phelps on NBC.

Now I think I'll try to figure out where to spend my next $30,000.

Aug 14, 2008

back from Boracay










Just got back from spending two weeks in Boracay with 16 students and 3 leaders. We partnered up with a local church in the community that is building a four-story community center (which should really just be called a church). The center will open up as a school, hospital, dental office, and church! We were able to put in the second floor, after tying a thousand pieces of rebar together, and pouring a few tons of concrete! My students did a fantastic job in less than ideal weather conditions. We also got to spend some
time visiting children in local neighborhoods- singing some songs, sharing some food, laughing a ton, and even playing a few games of basketball!

I have never sweated as much as I did over the past two weeks, which is saying a LOT. Right now it is 7pm here in California, but 10am tomorrow morning in my head... so I'm all messed up. I'm so grateful that I got to play a part in constructing this building, which will open the door to SO MUCH ministry in a year or two when they open it up! There is just nothing like this community center on the island, but there is so much need.

The people of Boracay were wonderful. They made us feel like celebrities, and they were so grateful for everything! I feel like they blessed us more than we blessed them.

Jul 30, 2008

ciao

I'll be taking a break from this blog for a couple weeks, but I will be one of the authors over at THIS blog while I'm gone! Swing by and say hello. I'll try to give a daily update on our happenings in Boracay (if I can make it over to the internet cafe).

We're helping to build a three-story hospital/school that will provide free medical care and education for the severely under-resourced people on the island of Boracay. We're also helping to feed somewhere around 600 small children that come every day for food and water. I'm so honored that I get to be a part of this.

It's about 90 degrees and up around 80-90% humidity, so I might be the hospital's first patient! I've got an awesome group of high school students and a few adult leaders that are ready to go. Send your prayers our way!

Jul 28, 2008

promise keepers

I'm heading to Boracay soon and I ran across this verse last night. It has been on my mind all day as I've thought about my role this week.
"I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
to open eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness."

Isaiah 42:5-7
The last four lines have all sorts of practical implications, but I have been stuck on that first line today. It says that the people of God have been not just given a covenant, but given as a covenant. We (or specifically Israel) have been called to embody the promise, to actually BE the promise.

This changes the way I understand my role as a follower of Jesus. I am to be a servant first- a living, breathing keeper and giver of God's promises. To shed light on the things of God. To help people see that God is very much available.

We're so much more than a message. Perhaps Marshall McLuhan was on to something when he said "The medium is the message".

Jul 26, 2008

camp highlites

I think I learned about 98% of our students' names, which I'm pretty proud of myself for doing.

The messages weren't what we expected, but God still rocked some worlds. Hume's program and rec are always top notch. No exception this year.

Some chump robbed the boys' cabin a couple times, netting about $250 when all was said and done.

I got to be a part of a "Dudes" seminar, answering questions from the 400-500 guys in the audience about everything from porn to weed to overcoming addictions.

The question "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Dane Cook" was asked of me at least 200 times.

I never went in the lake or the pool. I have no idea how that happened... I love the lake and the pool! It's hard for me to do anything else when there's a good volleyball game available.

We had the best "church wrap-up" conversation thing ever. We got all of our students together on the last day, and what happened there made me confident that God is alive and well, and that our students won't be satisfied by anything less than everything He has for them.

Jul 19, 2008

summer camp

We load up tomorrow morning and head to camp! I won't be bringing a laptop, and I won't have cell phone access, so I am shutting down shop here on the blog for a week.

I won't be anywhere near a computer for 27 of the next 35 days. Gonna have to bust out my trendy Moleskine!

superstition springs

Good to see my old friends getting some attention :)

I love that church!
I should stop trying to get their youth pastors to move to California.

Jul 18, 2008

debt vs. donation

What do you do when you have debt to pay, perhaps even high-interest debt, but you also know that people are starving to death each and every day? I've been trying to pay off some pretty significant debt for years now, and all the while I have been torn because I know that so many people are in desperate need around the world. In comparison to 95% of the world, I'm filthy rich. I haven't missed a meal in a long, long time. And even when I did, the gap wasn't very wide between meals.

But I have cable.
And I eat out all the time
And I go to coffee shops.
And I own a very nice car. Two actually.
I own a lot of clothes, even though it feels like I wear the same thing every other day.

I miss so many opportunities to help people. I have genuine desires and convictions- but I forget about them when I play the comparison game. I'm done with that.

It starts with the cable TV tomorrow. I'm going to send whatever money I used to spend on TV to Blood:Water Mission. I'll miss ESPN and all of my sitcoms, but none of that crap matters.

wordle

cool site I found via Nick Asolas' blog. This is what happened with the text from Colossians 1.

myspace is dead

funny, but not really...

Matt Doan wouldn't do that.

A handful of the leaders in the highschool ministry have been hazing me a little bit. Matt Doan, the former high school pastor, left behind a group of fellas that remind me constantly how big the shoes are that I'm co-filling. Their favorite reminder:

"Matt Doan wouldn't (say/do/think/wear) that."

Jul 16, 2008

go go go

This Sunday the high school ministry is loading up and heading to Hume Lake for summer camp. This will be my fifth or sixth time up at Hume, and it has always been an amazing experience. I hear that the feel is different this year. It will be a bit more analytical than emotional, which I think will be a nice break. The kids have started to anticipate the BIG nights (salvation messages, re-dedications and whatnot). Anything that keeps them guessing is a good thing.

Then I'm back home for a week before I lead a mission trip with 20 peeps to Boracay. We'll be there July 31st-August 13th helping to build the 2nd floor (of a soon-to-be 4 story building) that will serve as a hospital/school where people can receive free medical treatment and an education. This is what St. Francis had in mind when he said we can preach the gospel without saying a thing. It's not the whole gospel, but meeting these physical needs is gospel.

THEN I'm back for like four days before I head to our high school ministry's annual RIVER ROMP. We're spending four days at a lake (irony), and I hear that it is an amazing, amazing week. Why we planned three big trips this close together, me don't know. But I'm excited :)

After that I'm taking six months off to recover on a tropical island with Lindsay. All we need is plane tickets and an island, some spending money, and a little bit of vacation time. Anyone wanna make a donation?

Jul 15, 2008

come on down!

I'm going to try to convince my AMAZING boss Eric that he should take the staff to The Price is Right for the next "day away". They film the show nearby and I REALLY want to go!

I played this game from my couch almost every day when I was jobless... I had a nice little routine involving the show, some coffee, my laptop, and some Honey Bunches of Oats. I almost ALWAYS do better than the people on the show, and I'm pretty sure I could spin that wheel right to the $1 every time.

I have a feeling that I'd get picked to be a bidder. I'm just kind of lucky like that. I hear that if you bring a crowd of 20+ they try to get at least one of you up there.

If Eric doesn't want to plan it, do YOU wanna go with me and Linds?

Jul 14, 2008

day away

Every couple of months the pastors at Calvary get away for a "day away". We spent a couple hours at Dana Point doing some solo time, grabbed some lunch, and then we got into some wiffleball action! It was a great time for me to see these guys at their best, especially our family pastor Jeff Biddle on the bottom left flashing some Hasselhoff chest hair as he rounds third!

Jul 13, 2008

colossians

I told my students that I'd send em to summer camp at Hume Lake for free in 2009 if they memorize Colossians by the time we leave ( a $500+ value). This is the second time I've offered this. I feel a little guilty for asking them to do something I haven't done myself. I was at a conference a few years back when Louie Gig challenged 15,000 people to memorize it. I wonder how many of them did it. I wonder if I could do it.

p.s. Giveaways like this are simple, and you don't have to sell your soul to make it happen. You just add a couple bucks to the cost for the other students. If they complain about the two bucks, tell them it's sort of like tithing. If they complain about tithing, tell them they don't love Jesus. If they complain about you saying that, well, that makes sense because you shouldn't have said that.

Jul 12, 2008

you might be a redneck pastor

if this is your youth group.

I've lost all hope...

Jul 9, 2008

Forgive me.

Is this a pointless prayer? Do you need to ask for forgiveness even when you already have it?

I said something in passing in my talk on Sunday that might have confused some of my students. I thought I was clear, but I got some feedback that has me wondering. I said that as a Christian, it doesn't make any sense to pray for forgiveness- Giglio said something very similar at a PDYM conference a handful of years ago. But do you agree?

Jul 8, 2008

bible error


PETA would have been all over Jesus for this one.

Jul 7, 2008

it could be worse

We're meeting all the students at the beach tomorrow to play some volleyball...

hope your job rocks like mine :)

Jul 5, 2008

things that still go bump in the night

So I walk up the stairs... and I'm pretty frustrated. Neighbor guy has been rattling our apartment all day AGAIN. I thought to myself that I should pray before I go up, you know, to have the mind of Christ. But I didn't. Thought I should confess that.

A guy in his 40's answers. I explain. He says it was his SON that was staying at his place when Lindsay went up (so it was his son who did the stomping). That kid's got a headlock coming.

Then he invites me to come inside his apartment. I concur.

It's totally quiet. He's actually watching the same show we're watching. But its sounds the same in his apartment as it does in ours. His speakers just bump, even when they're not bumping.

He turned the bass setting down.

fin.

Jul 3, 2008

if you don't own a bazooka




thanks brad!

things that go bump in the night

Noisy neighbor update:

Lindsay wouldn't let me go upstairs and talk to him. She thought I would be too intimidating or something... I was a little bit insulted.

"You don't think I can handle this? I'm not going to stab the guy or something! I AM a pastor, you know..."

"I just think it would be less intense if it was me, not you."

So she went to talk to him. Now, what I'm tempted to say here is "Never send a woman to do a man's job", but that would be a really jerky thing to say, and I'm a nice guy. Plus I thought it was a great idea. I had planned all of the gracious and unintimidating things to say, but I kept playing the wrong movies in my head about how it all might go down. You know what I mean?

Ya see... I used to be a pretty hardcore gangster. And sometimes I have flashbacks- like with the neighbor situation. I pictured something starting with a ninja kick to his door, followed by some cartwheels and a lot of shouting from me in German. I didn't foresee any violence in my movie, because I figured that the cartwheels and shouting would have sent him running out the back door. Then I would duct tape a thousand m80's to his stereo and escape just before the atomic subwoofer explosion.

But that didn't happen. Instead she went up and knocked on his door. She asked him to turn it down and he said "no problem". The apartment was really dark and he was alone, fyi. A one-man party.

About 30 minutes later he was bumping again. He played the nice guy when she knocked, but then went back to being thuggish ruggish. And to make things worse, he stomped his foot on the floor (our ceiling) five or six times... just to make it crystal clear that he was a punk.

So we went to the office to ask what was acceptable and the lady made us fill out a report. They sent him a letter, and it didn't work.

Thumper is upstairs right now, and he's got the bass cranked again.

I want to be friends, but Thumper wants war.

I'm going up there. Stay tuned :)

trust

If only this was the relationship that all of our military personnel had with our neighbors across the sea. I'd be much more compelled to pledge my allegiance.

Jul 2, 2008

thursdays

Tomorrow morning is our second summer bible study. About 30 guys come out to dig into the word. I'm going to bring all of my commentaries, concordances, a laptop, and some books with subject and verse indexes for easy searching- then put the guys in small groups, and have them go do some digging.

Then we'll come back together to put it all together. It should look something like a hunt for treasure, with every group having one piece of the map. We had a sweet plan for last week too, but then we ended up just talking about dating and, um, stuff.

Jul 1, 2008

prayer

I'm teaching on prayer this weekend, so I'm tracking down some videos to prime the pump before I dig in. Found a perfect one for this week!

video

Jun 30, 2008

what if

What if there was no heaven or hell- would you still be a Christian?

Why?

Why not?

Jun 29, 2008

Boracay

Looks like I'm heading to Boracay with a team of our high school students! We're over there on August 1st-14th to do meet a handful of needs.

When I Google "Boracay" I find all sorts of information on tourism, and a multitude of pictures that look very Hawaii'ish.

It's sad how often poverty and paradise are neighbors.

More info to come :)

Jun 28, 2008

staring contest

Let's see what you've got!!

loving my neighbor

video

new five dollar bill

Reason #486 why Lindsay should let me buy a motorcycle!!! My motives for wanting one are selfless and purely economical.


She just said "keep dreaming".

summer promo video

we played this a couple Sundays ago as a part of our summer kickoff

can you keep a secret?

You don't have to answer that question, and I'm sorry, but I don't have a secret to share with you. But... I'm not sure what blogs you peruse, most of mine are church workers of some sort. I subscribe to about 30 different blogs, and I've bookmarked a few dozen others that I check from time to time. In my perusing, I've noticed a common trend amongst the Jesus tribe.

Bragging.

I'm sure I'm guilty too, at least on a subconscious level. Maybe the main difference between me and the obvious braggers is that I'm more creative in how I share my awesomeness (sarcasm).

But is anyone ever really impressed by all of this boasting, name dropping, and chest puffing?

I'm going to spend this week chewing on a handful of verses I've found that revolve around this issue, like Matthew 6:3.

I feel bad for not sharing a secret, so... I pluck my eyebrows. If I didn't at least once a week I'd look like this guy.

Jun 27, 2008

week one

We had a great first week in California! We're headed back to the beach in a couple hours- for the third time this week. We took the high school students out for a bonfire on Wednesday night. Just sharing in the sufferings of Christ, ya know~










Jun 24, 2008

my holy name

This is the first week for our freshmen. They were a little nervous on Sunday, which is pretty understandable. It's a scary thing to be a freshman! They're vulnerable little creatures.

On the first day of my senior year in high school a few of my friends and I stood at the entrance of our campus and waited for the freshmen to arrive.

We walked over to them individually and asked if we could help them find where they needed to go. Because that's what nice guys do, right?
Innocent Freshman: "I'm supposed to be in the 'C Building' for math in two minutes!"
Wicked Ryan: "Oh ok, well you just walk down this path right here for about a hundred yards, hook a left, then a right, then another right, and you're there buddy! Hey look for me at lunch, you can sit with us!"
Well that seems pretty helpful doesn't it? Except that we would point them in the exact opposite direction than where they should be going, ha!

I'm trying to redeem myself! I know that there are so many names that our students will learn in the coming months, but only one that can point them towards the best kind of life. Only one that can satisfy them. I think that's why God is so protective of His name... he doesn't want anyone to be misled! To make any other name great, including mine, is to mislead them.

Jun 23, 2008

First Monday

Spent the beginning of the day at Huntington Beach with my team picking out a spot for our summer kickoff bonfire, and then the five of us went different directions and did some solo time. So good.

Last night we put together a Freshman Dessert to welcome the newbies to the high school ministry. We've got awesome freshmen coming our way! My favorite part of the night was watching the way-too-cool-for-this student go from completely indifferent to completely tuned in about 20 minutes later. Love it. I was that kid, so I have a lot of patience.

These first few days have been amazing.

Jun 22, 2008

wanna be cool?

Follow me as I follow Christ. - 1 Cor 11:1

almost settled

A heat wave hit Orange County this week... fantastic timing! I looked like Nixon during the 1960 Presidential debates this morning up on stage. A few days ago someone actually asked "Hey Ryan, are you ok???" as I was carrying boxes into our apartment covered in sweat. It's filthy hot outside...

This morning was Sunday #1 at Calvary for Linds and I, and "Promotion Sunday" for the freshman class. We've got a little party planned for them at 7:00, so I'm taking a break at Panera again. I love the food here, but Paradise Bakery was a cooler environment. They both have free coffee, so I'm able to indulge all day long in my socially acceptable addiction.

The sermon today in "big church" was titled "What Happens When I Die?", and it got me hungry to get back into some teaching. It made me wish that churches were set up in a way that was more of a tag-team teaching approach. Eric was bringing the heat, and I don't mean that I wanted to have him sit down, I just wanted to tap in and share some thoughts! This series looks like a great one.

This week is nuts. We've got the freshman shindig tonight, then tomorrow and Tuesday are full-swing with meetings and first week stuff, there's a bonfire at the beach on Wednesday for the high school kiddos, and then a Bible study on Thursday morning! It'll be a great week to get to know the team and the kids. Speaking of the team, they were awesome this morning. They stepped up big time when about 94 challenges were handed to them at the last minute. I'm really looking forward to working with all of them!!! First up, I think we'll run through Strengths Finders, and then some Made to Stick action after that!

Jun 20, 2008

we have arrived

We're here! We don't have internet access in our apartment yet, so we're hanging at Panera for a few minutes to check our email. Bella is with her new family, loving their humongous back yard and adorable kids. They have a little girl named Ella, which has got to be confusing them nicely...

I probably won't be blogging for a few days, but you can follow the twitter trail if you're cool.

Oops! Panera closed 18 minutes ago... gotta go!

Miss you Arizona.

Hello CALIFORNIA :)

Jun 16, 2008

the life and times of Lindsay Guard

So here’s what Lindsay’s last couple weeks have looked like. I was along for much of this ride, but she was there for all of it.

She left her job as a nanny two weeks ago, saying goodbye to two little adorable boys she has been watching for something like three years.

She then immediately flew to California and picked out an apartment for us (not one of the ones I had previewed, but a nicer one). All of that while waiting moment-to-moment for her sister to call and say when she was going into labor, with what would be Lindsay’s first nephew or niece (we didn’t know which at the time).

She then flew from California to Ohio and waited a handful of days for her sister to finally give birth. She then fell in love with baby Eli. Like... deep love. Pretty much all of Ohio and West Virginia came to visit the baby boy

Had to say goodbye to baby Eli, and the rest of her family, to come back to Arizona and say goodbye to our friends and family here before we pack up and head to California on Wednesday.

We then came to the realization that our two-year-old dog Bella was not going to be able to come with us to California. We’re still working through this one, but we know for sure that she won't be living with us in three days, no matter where she ends up.

Saying goodbye, then hello, then hello, then goodbye, then goodbye, then goodbye, and then hello… or something like that.

I love my wife… because she is strong. These past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions, and she has handled it so well.

"We are gradually becoming the kind of people that we will be forever." - Dallas Willard, "Hearing God"

bella

This is horrible.

We're moving into an apartment with a 35lb weight limit for dogs, and our Bella girl is at least 50. The biggest limit we could find was 50, and she'll be 70 by next year...

We're going to have to give her away... right now the plan is to give her to my brother and his wife. She works with a boxer adoption agency, so the people will have to pass some sort of tests, and be interviewed, and jump through some other hoops to get her. So we'll know that she'll be with people who definitely want her- but that doesn't change the fact that she's our dog. Our hope was that she would land with somebody we know, either here in Arizona or in California, but so far that hasn't worked out.

This is one goodbye that I wasn't expecting...

Anybody want an amazing dog?

Jun 15, 2008

needle and thread

If you asked me to play you one song on my iPod that I hoped you would fall in love with, it would be "Needle and Thread" by Sleeping at Last. I played this game with a friend recently, asking him to pick a song on his iPod for me to listen to and I picked this one for him on mine. He picked some rap song, which made me feel like a nerd for picking this one. But I'd pick this one ten times out of ten...

This song makes my heart burn. Like when the disciples were walking down the road feeling pretty low, and Jesus came right up to them but they were somehow oblivious that it was him. Remember what they said?
32They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

This week I was constantly humming and singing this song as I spent some time in the hospital welcoming Eli Stumpf into the world :) It's a perfect song for this little miracle man.

Take a listen to the lyrics of this ridiculously good song.

Jun 13, 2008

theyhadababyitsaboy

I've been in Ohio for the past few days awaiting the arrival of my nephew. He ended his days as a belly fish at 7:01 this morning! Welcome Eli Ryan Stumpf to the world:


He's an adorable little thumbsucker, and quite the beast, weighing in at like 9 1/2 bags of chips! For you vegetarians, that's 9 pounds and 6 ounces.

We're back on a plane this Sunday to head to Arizona for CRAZY WEEK! We leave for California on Wednesday morning :) :( :)

I can't wait to start working so I have something worthgwhile to contribute to the world (and by the world I mean this blog.)

p.s. That picture was taken with my Treo, which I still detest. I would trade Zack Morris straight up any day of the week.

Jun 9, 2008

a living house

This illustration from George McDonald has always been one of my favorites. Its a perfect reminder for me as I wake up every day to some new surprise.

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

Jun 8, 2008

solo time

I love having some solo time, but I miss my wife. She's been traveling for a few days now.

I love being around people, but I also love to be a hermit sometimes.

I love telling stories in a room full of friends, or speaking in front of crowds, but I also love sitting in a crowded room and saying nothing sometimes.

Today I did some reading at Paradise Bakery and sort of got to do both; I was alone, but in a room full of people.

Tonight it's just me and my boxer Bella. I've got some NBA action about to begin, and I got a manly movie from Blockbuster.

And I'm having a hard time enjoying it.

Jun 6, 2008

home sweet home!



Lindsay got the job done today!

She went to California and picked an apartment for us. Floor plans are always boring when they look like the one on the left, but she said this one's pretty cool. We wanted to keep it simple, and we got a better deal on the rent than what is listed on their website.

It is in the city of Tustin, which for you Lost fans out there, is the fictional hometown of John Locke!!!

It looks like we're moving on June 18th... we'll need some help packing on the 17th, so call me up if you're local and might be able to swing by!

Excited :)

Jun 5, 2008

thank you Google

For finding this little ditty starring a handful of my new cohorts at Calvary.

head=spinning

Lindsay flies out to California tonight to do some apartment shopping tomorrow. I'm not going because I've already been out there and seen a handful of ones I liked- she can pick whichever one she wants though.

Tomorrow night she hops on a plane from Orange County to Ohio because her big sister is about to bring a baby girl into the world! I'm guessing its a girl, because the dad is a big manly-man type, and manly men always have little girls. But we really don't know for sure.

When the baby is born I'll hop on a plane and head out there too. But I'm staying here until then to pack up our house, and also to drive up to Prescott for a little family get-together before we move.

We will both, at some point, come back to Arizona, load a Uhaul, and drive to California.

So Lindsay is in Arizona then California then Ohio then Arizona and then California, over a period of about 12 days. I'm not quite as hectic, but it's not pretty!!

Rock stars?

Jun 3, 2008

can you juggle?

This dude can. Get this guy on Letterman (and with some better music).