Psalm 119 ends on a Blue Note

This week my leadership/mentoring/accountability group read and mediated on Psalms 119. I saw struck by the last verse of the song.

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant/ For I do not forget your commandments.”

This is David’s magnus opus, a massive acrostic Psalm outlining the merits of God’s Word and his passion for it– from “A” to “Z”. 176 verses on the benefits and beauty of the Torah and here’s what David doesn’t say….

“I’ve arrived.”


“My life is perfectly order around the Word.”

Instead, David concludes his celebration of the perfection of the Word with a realization of how fragile he is and how dependant he is on God.

How depressing.

How wonderful.

Leadership applications? No matter how long you and I handle the Word, we will always be profoundly weak and utterly dependant upon God.

And the best selling video game console is…

… it’s not the PS3, the Wii, or the XBOX 360… but the PS2. While Wii is the most popular of the new generation of consoles, the PS2 reigns in sales. Sony has taken a beating over the lack of buzz surrounding the PS3 and has chose to continue to support and sell their old console. Read more at Slate.

Book Review: Myspace for Moms and Dads


Connie Neal / Zondervan  Reader Appeal: Parents 

Genre: RELIGION/ Christian Life/ Family THE REVIEWPerhaps it’s inconceivable only to me, but, somehow, I’ve found myself the parent of a teenager this past year. And right on cue, my son is asking for all of the adolescent accessories—email accounts, a cell phone, and a TV and Internet access in his bedroom. I’ve conceded on the email account but the rest will have to wait. A teen should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning. “Caution: Raising a teen may result in sleepless nights and increased anxiety levels.”
If you’re the parent of a teen, you owe it to yourself to introduce yourself to Connie Neal. Connie is an author and speaker who specialty is understanding “the intersection of parenting and pop culture.” Connie is the deep breath that every parent needs to take before hyperventilating over all the challenge of raising godly children in the American culture.

Connie’s latest book, MYSPACE FOR MOMS AND DADS, is designed to help busy parents understand the Internet phenomena known as social networking. “Social Networking” is using home computers and the Internet to connect with peer and to make new friendships. Some of the more popular social networking websites include Myspace and Facebook. Parents might be aware and wary of social networking due to a rash recent news stories that detail how sexual predators have used Myspace to connect with teens and lure them into face-to-face meetings.  Connie uses her calming logic and sanity to calm parents and to give them the tools they need to navigate this new world of social networking. Connie defuses the emotional charge surrounding social networking with her methodical treatment of the book. Part One explains what the history of social networking. Part Two walks as parent through the mechanics of setting up a “Myspace” account. In Part Three, Connie explains the draw of Myspace on teenagers. Teens use social networking to meet God-given developmental needs. Connie helps you connect with your teens’ needs by reminding you of their basic relational needs to connect and to express themselves. Finally, Connie offers a Christian framework to Christian parents decide if Myspace is right for their teens.  

One of the most valuable features of the book is a section that trains parents how to customize the Myspace profile to reduce the risk of teens encountering unsafe people or on-line “friends” with unchristian values. Parents will also be equipped with the proper questions to ask their teens to help monitor their healthy use of Myspace.  Readers familiar with Connie Neal’s writing know that she is biased toward engaging culture and for using cultural trends to train discerning teenagers. Connie’s “Walking Talk in
Babylon” is her manifesto calling parents to train children capable of interpreting and discerning the cultural messages that surround them. Don’t expect to hear a simplistic “Myspace is good” or “Myspace is evil” from Connie. Instead, she’ll give you the information you’ll need to engage your teenager regarding this important issue.

After reading MYSPACE FOR MOMS AND DADS, I’m not ready to give my teen permission to join for now. However, this will be a valuable guide to refer to when my oldest is a bit older and wiser.   You can connect with Connie on Myspace at 

Pastor Todd asked for a reading list…

Here’s a list of what I’ve read in the past couple of months. I tend to cycle through the topic of leadership, theology, fiction.

 Recently I’ve read…

“Myspace for Mom and Dad” by Connie Neal. I’ve  known Connie for years. I met her at Group Publishing years ago. She inspired/aggitated me to start the Harry Potter reading clubs a few years back.

I’m on an N.T. Wright kick. Wright is a brilliant theologian who has the rare gift of being able to communicate plainly. I’ve finished “The Challenge of Jesus”, “Evil and the Justice of God”, and “Simply Christian.” I think it’s crucial for children’s ministers to constantly self-educate themselves theologically. Otherwise we run the danger of passing on a simplistic (instead of simple) faith to children. Reading N.T. Wright has inspired to dust off some curriculum I wrote several years ago on the Beatitudes/Kingdom of God, revise it, and teach it again.

My editor at regularly mails me books to review. He’s sent me some great fiction reads lately. “Sinner” by Sharon Carter Rogers is a brilliant first time novel. And I’ve discovered the joys of Ted Dekker. I just read “Who Really Cares”, a book about charitable giving and how relgious and political beliefs influence it. Next month I’ll be posting reviews on “Who Really Cares” and “Palestine: Peace Not Appartheid”, as well as Connie’s book.

The best book I read last year was Jim Palmer’s “Divine Nobodies.”

Hope that helps. And Keith should post his list. He might be the most well read children’s minister I’ve ever met.

Social Networking Updates… Myspace for Mom's and Dad's, the Fall of Tweenland, and Nick

A few months ago, Keith posted on and shortly there after the founder contacted us to provide information regarding the site. Unfortunately, the site was shut down. It was simply too much for one man to manage and investors didn’t commit to the site soon enough. Read more here…

In other notes on social networking. I just finished Connie Neal’s “ for Mom’s and Dad’s.” Connie makes the sense of social networking for busy parents, and offers helps on what questions parents should ask teens to be informed. If a  parent reads Connie’s book they’ll have the information they will need to be credible guides for their teens. (I’m still convinced that myspace isn’t safe for elementary-aged children, but Connie is writing for parents of teens.)

And Finally, is creating ME TV… a safe place for children to post their favorite video clips.

Child dies for want of an $80 tooth proceedure.

Here’s a tragic story about a 12-year-old from MD who died after receiving brain surgery. He needed the surgery due to bacteria which had spread to his brain. The bacteria was caused by a bad tooth going unaddressed. Unfortunately this story is being turned into a political football. Some are pointing to holes safety net and how difficult it is to find a Medicare dentist. Others hold the mother culpable. 

The story reminds us all that upcoming election will have large implications on the care of children.  

Twinkies Deconstructed

Steve Ettlinger’s new book examines the question, “Why can you bake a cake with as little as six ingredients while it takes 39 to make a Twinkie?”

The answer? A Twinkie needs to last forever on the shelf. So there can be no dairy products and nothing perishable inside.

In his new book Ettlinger examines every ingredient found in a Twinkie. He did so without the support of Hostess. He pain stakingly identifies every barely pronouncible ingredient therein…   calcium sulfate, a dough conditioner, earns the label a “food-grade plaster of Paris.”

Twinkies were a childhood fav. of mine. I enjoyed not understanding those moist cakes with the seven-year shelf life.

MSNBC.COM: FDA Approves ADHD Drug that is harder to abuse.

The FDA approved Vyvanse, a drug that stays inactive when snorted or injected. This is good news. When I was a case worker, I’d occasionally deal with parents who would steal their children’s ADHD medicine, either to take it themselves or to sell on the streets.

Pediatrics: More Children Exposed to Online Porn

“In the survey, conducted between March and June 2005, most kids who reported unwanted exposure were aged 13 to 17. Still, sizable numbers of 10- and 11-year-olds also had unwanted exposure — 17 percent of boys and 16 percent of girls that age.

More than one-third of 16- and 17-year-old boys surveyed said they had intentionally visited X-rated sites in the past year. Among girls the same age, 8 percent had done so.”

The results come from a telephone survey of 1,500 Internet users aged 10 to 17, conducted with their parents’ consent.

Overall, 34 percent had unwanted exposure to online pornography, including some children who had willingly viewed pornography in other instances. The 2005 number was up from 25 percent in a similar survey conducted in 1999 and 2000.

The latest survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Online use that put kids at the highest risk for unwanted exposure to pornography was using file-sharing programs to download images. However, they also stumbled onto X-rated images through other “normal” Internet use, the researchers said, including talking online with friends, visiting chat rooms and playing games.

Kidscreen: The Internet has not surpassed Cable TV viewing for children under 18.

Conventional wisdom has suggested that the Internet’s interactivity would lure teens and children away from TV. However, Kidscreen suggests otherwise.

Is the internet killing kids cable TV? Not so much

by Gary Rusak

“We heard a lot of talk at last week’s KidScreen Summit that suggested despite the proliferation of media options for kids, good ole TV is still king with the under-18 crowd. Two new reports studies in Canada and the US, respectively, bear that theory out.

Canuck kidcaster YTV commissioned Solutions Research Group to examine how kids while away their free time. The report shows tweens spend 45% of their media time watching television, 14% on the internet,12% on video games, 11% downloading music, 11% listening to the radio, 6% watching DVDs, and 1% using cell phones.

TV also has a substantial lead in the overall accessibility category, with 92% of children surveyed reporting they watch television, compared to only 55% who say they surf the web. While the survey shows that kids are adapting to new media such as cell phones, text messaging and gaming, TV still holds the hammer.

In the US, Magna Global has just released its annual report on kids and TV. VP and director of audience analysis Lisa Quan, who conducted the study, crunched Nielsen Media Research Data in the US and came to the same conclusion.

“Kids aren’t running away from television the way we thought they might be,” Quan says.

According to the report, tweens ages nine to 14 and teens ages 12 to 17 have not changed their television habits over the last year. In fact, kids between the ages of two to 11 are watching more TV than they were just five years ago.”

With files from Crissandra Ayroso