Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Backlash Against the Gender Genie!

Mmm. Me want eat meat. Me want kill bear with hands. Me want hunt and fish and kill. Me a man! 

Gender Genie

So there's this interesting website called Gender Genie that lets you paste any text into a text box, and then tells you using some fancy pants algorithm whether the author of the text is a male or female. I'm easily amused, so I decided to give it a shot, putting my blog to the gender test. So I pasted the text from my previous post, "Encouraging Words," and the result was overwhelming that I, apparently, am a female writer! (apparently the fact that I talked about myself and actually wrote my name, Adam, was not enough of a dead giveaway in the world of algorithms!) Yikes...

The implications? Perhaps males are less encouraging than females...or maybe I just write like a girl? I don't like either of these options. Sooo...I proceeded to paste the entire text from the first page of my blog, and here were the results:

Female Score: 1814
Male Score: 2039

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Whew. I guess I can be secure in my manhood again, although the margin was a little too close for comfort!!!

**Link love to Kara for passing on this website.**

Encouraging Words

A few years back, I started a file called "Encouragement."  I believe it was Dave Engbrecht, my pastor growing up at NMC, who tipped me off to this idea.  He said that because ministry and life can be so discouraging at times, it's important to keep a file of encouraging words from others. That way, when the discouragement comes, you can always have somewhere to look to remind you to be encouraged and to think positively.  

Well, this week I was able to file yet another encouraging word.  I recently received a card from a pastor friend of mine that read:

I really appreciate you. If I didn't already know Jesus, your life would encourage me to find Him. I am praying for you, your dad and your whole family during these difficult days...

That meant a lot. Things have been tough at home recently, and it was encouraging to know that he cared. Even more encouraging was his confirmation of my life and ministry. I'd love for my gravestone to read something like that someday...

"...his life encouraged others to find Jesus."

Never forget the power of an encouraging word. And if you don't do it already, start storing up the encouraging words you've received for those rainy days...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh no, am I an adult?!?!

In the past two weeks, I have:
  • Hung out with a high school friend, his wife, and their baby!
  • Set up my Roth IRA retirement fund.
  • Gotten pre-approved for a mortgage loan from the bank.
  • Officially put an offer on a house (got outbid!).
  • Done my own laundry (I know...I'm pathetic!).
  • Gone to work at a full-time job (been doing this one for a while now).
  • Had my body shut down in the middle of a youth all-nighter.
And thus the sad but true realization...I AM BECOMING AN ADULT!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Jim Look-A-Like?

In honor of the return of my favorite TV show tonight, The Office, I thought I would try a quick survey with my few faithful readers. A co-worker of mine recently commented that I reminded him a lot of the character "Jim" from The Office. This was not the first time I had been compared with Jim, played by actor John Krasinski. Personally, I take it to be a compliment because Jim is one cool dude on the show. Anyway, you make the I?:

a. A Jim look-a-like?

b. A Jim wanna-be?

c. Way too smokin' hott to even be compared with a low-life office worker like Jim?

d. (fill in the blank)


To cast your vote, leave a comment below!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Book Review: Making Vision Stick

The other day I was home alone and bored, and like most people the first thought that went through my head was, "I think I'll turn on the TV." But recently I've been really trying to cut some of the unnecessary things out of my life like watching a bunch of TV, so instead of wasting away countless hours in mindless drivel in the form of sitcoms or analysis of the latest happenings in the sports world, I decided to read a book. I know, something is wrong with me, but I'm okay with that.

So, I sat down and did just that...I read a book...from cover to cover. Now, before you start getting too impressed, this book was only 74 pages long, and it began on page 11...just the way all books should be! It was obviously a quick read, but at the same time it was very concise, insightful, and powerful.  The book was Making Vision Stick, by Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Community Church, a megachurch on the outskirts of Atlanta, GA. Here is a quick review of the book.

Stanley opens the book by challenging the leader that it is their responsibility and no one else's when it comes to making vision stick. Once the leader has accepted this challenge, he provides the following 5 insights into "increasing the adhesiveness" of your vision:

1. State the Vision Simply--"...if your vision is going to stick in people's minds, it must be memorable" (p. 19).

2. Cast the Vision Convincingly--" must communicate [your vision] in a way that moves people to action" (p.24).

3. Repeat the Vision Regularly--" need to find ways to build vision casting into the rhythm of your organization" (pp. 33-34).

4. Celebrate the Vision Systematically--"...a leader needs to pause long enough to celebrate the wins along the way" (p.39).

5. Embrace the Vision Personally--"Living out the vision establishes credibility and makes you a leader worth following" (p.47).

Stanley concludes the book with some thoughts on what he calls "Vision Slippage Indicators." He also includes a personal testimony of how he has been able to live out his vision.

A quick read that packs some power with the punch.  Well worth the 45 minutes it will take to breeze through this book. As a piece of advice, though, don't get suckered into paying $9.00 for this book. Just sit down at your nearest Barnes and Noble and give it a quick read while sipping some Starbucks coffee (or if you're like me, peppermint hot chocolate!). Overall, I give this book an A+ for it's positive and challenging message from a proven leader and powerful communicator.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Things that Stress Students Out...

We had an awesome time at Impact Group last night discussing the worry and stress that we allow to creep into our lives. As an activity, I had each guy and girl in my group of freshman try to list 10 things that stress them out. Here's what they came up with:
  • Homework
  • Boredom
  • Family
  • Myself
  • Public Speaking
  • First Impressions
  • School Days
  • Long School Days
  • Extremely Long School Days
  • School
  • Tests
  • What People Think of Me
  • People Being Mad at Me
  • What to Wear
  • If I'm a Geek, Prep, etc.
  • Getting Things Done on Time
  • Spending Enough Time with God
  • Guys
  • Who I'll Marry
  • My Future
  • Heights
  • Future Plans
  • Failure
  • Getting a Job
  • Getting a Haircut
  • Grades
  • Football
  • Getting Up Early
  • If and Where I'll Go to College
  • Watching the Chicago Bears
  • Money
  • Exercising
  • Doing Devotions
  • Getting Enough Sleep
  • Catching the Bus
  • When I'm Going to Eat
So there you have it...a sneak peek into the minds of 15-year-olds. This is what occupies their thoughts. This is what they worry and stress out about...

User-Generated Content

In an effort to keep up with today's youth culture that thrives off of user-generated content** (the 'web 2.0 generation,' if you will), we are starting a new series tonight called Choose Your Own Adventure. Throughout this series, students are able to vote for different elements of the night including which songs to sing and what topic will be addressed.

The vote is in, and here are the results...

The top 5 issues that the Middle School students chose to address were:

1. Gossip
2. Stress (tie)
2. Lifestyle (tie)
4. Money
5. Parents

Our High School students had these as the top 5 hot-topics they wanted to discuss:

1. Stress
2. Social Justice
3. War (tie)
3. Lifestyle (tie)
5. 3-way tie (Gossip, Parents, Bitterness)

It's always interesting to get feedback from students like this, and as a youth pastor it is helpful to get a feeling for where students are at and what issues are important to them.  Notice that "stress" was very high on the list for both age groups (not too surprising at this time of year, I suppose).  So tonight in both the Middle School gathering and the High School IMPACT GROUPS we begin the series by discussing stress...where it comes we can handle it...and how to avoid it all together.  It should be a great night!  I'm pumped!

**(For a good laugh, this ESPN commercial provides a hilarious parody of this recent 'user-generated content' phenomenon).