A Positive Evangelism Experience from an Atheist

Posted on: 12/31/08 2:02 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Greg Stier over at Dare 2 Share just emailed me about a YouTube video he just saw… fascinating!

I don’t know if you are familiar with the comedian Penn, of “Penn and Teller.” They are quite popular. Penn is an atheist and is always quick to point out phonies. In this particular video… he surprised me. He had an experience with a guy in his audience who kindly gave him a Gideon Bible. Penn was very complementary of this guy’s attitude and methodology. That’s huge!

Penn, a self-proclaimed atheist, goes on to argue that if we think someone is going to Hell, we should definitely warn them. He argues that we shouldn’t keep our religion to ourselves. We SHOULD prosthelytize. After all, he says, “If I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it. There’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

Yeah. Very cool.

It takes him a couple minutes to set up his story (he’s very artsy)… but it’s worth the wait. Watch what he says. Good stuff.

(Click here to see the video if you received this via email)

Wow! Good job Mr. Gideon Bible dude! Very cool.

Greg blogged about it as well on his blog today: http://www.gregstier.org/

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New Year’s Resolutions

Posted on: 12/29/08 10:36 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m trying to take a little time off with the family the next few days before I fly off again… so I’ll leave you with a list of my 5 resolutions for next year.

1. Yell less. I’m a parent, I’m Irish, and I’ve got teenagers in the home… there’s usually some yelling involved. I’m going to try to handle situations more like Clint Eastwood. Instead of yelling at my son, I’m just going to ask him, “Do you feel lucky… punk?”

2. Read more of the Word with my wife. This resolution will probably help the first one. In the last year Lori and I have spent some time studying the Bible and praying together, but not nearly enough. Lori loves this time, and I do too… when I actually do it. I’m wanting to have more of these times, so I’m resolving to make it happen.

3. See the 160’s on the scale. Some of you remember me talking about my weight before. I LOVE food. It’s my vice. That’s why I hit the 200’s a few years back (not a pretty picture). In the last year, I’ve really been working out hard and got down to the low 180s, I even hit 179 for a few days (before the holidays). But I really want to see 169 at least once. I’d be happy to settle in the low 170s… I just want to see my old friend 169 just for a day!

4. I want to bench-press 300. Call it what you want, but part of my getting back in shape has been hitting the weights again. Realize, in high school I was a lightweight (135 poundish), but I always liked lifting. I got close to benching 200 in high school, but never hit it. A few years ago I hit that mark. Now that I’m trying to get into shape, I’m up to about 235 on the bench… and trying to increase. Yes, 300 is a pretty lofty goal. Can I up it 65 pounds in one year and hit the 300 mark? I have no clue. But I’ve gotta have something to strive for.

5. I want to see our Training Tools page come to fruition. Most of these goals have been personal goals… but I’m pretty dang excited about this ministry goal. David and I are working on a training tools page that would offer youth workers two needed resources: online computer-based training for all youth workers, and “ready-made” power point  and training outlines for youth leaders. We’ve already started this, we hope to be launching three of the training outlines with powerpoint in the next couple months. This resource is gonna rock. And like all the other stuff on our site… it will be free.

How’s that?

Wow… that would be cool if I could look back and have accomplished those 5 things by the end of 2009.

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My Hot Wife and THE Best Cookie Recipe

Posted on: 12/25/08 7:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Yesterday I went into the kitchen to see what all the clamor was about. The sound of pots, spoons and mixers… my spidey sense was telling me that cookies were being made. Sure enough, there was Lori (my smoking hot wife) in an old pair of jeans, looking as beautiful as ever… baking my favorite kind of cookies.

I get to see my hot little lady daily (although those old jeans had her looking particularly steamy). But I only get to taste these cookies once a year. I’m not sure why, now that I think about it. These cookies rock! They are amazing. Maybe one step from a Giordanno’s Pizza (that’s huge by my standards). I should barter to see if we can make these cookies more often. They are Oatmeal Chocolate Chip. They aren’t a recipe I’ve seen anywhere else… only from my wife’s friend Dixie. And every time someone tries them, they say, “Oh my GOSH! I’ve got to get that recipe.”

These aren’t normal cookies… they have an 8 oz Hershey bar crushed into the mix. (drool… slobber). When you get to the final stages of the recipe… you almost have to break a few wooden spoons (we have) to stir them. I had to step in and do my part yesterday. Lori needs my huge biceps to stir the mixture every year.

An hour later, I was on the couch, eating the cookie dough. Oh! Amazing!!!

My favorite cookies and my hot wife… a great Christmas memory. It doesn’t get better than that.

Oh… I guess I should share the recipe.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dixie’s Recipe

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
5 cups oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
24 oz. chocolate chips
one 8oz. Hershey bar
3 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream together- butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside.

Using a blender, grind all of oatmeal into fine powder (do a small amount at a time). Pour into a LARGE bowl. Next, grate chocolate bar and combine with oatmeal. Now add flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda to same bowl and mix well. Combine creamed ingredients and dry mixture (here’s where the stirring takes some real strength… and a big bowl!) After well blended, add chocolate chips and nuts. (and this is where I eat a bunch of the dough!)

Make golf ball size cookies. Place 2” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for about 9-11 min.

You are soooooooo lucky I shared this recipe with you!!!!



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She Blew Her Nose and I Liked It

Posted on: 12/23/08 10:11 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m always amazed at the “perceived” value of things. Things like… a snot filled tissue.

Yeah, that’s right. Currently, a snot filled tissue is on Ebay selling for over $2,000. Not any snot filled tissue, mind you. This is the mucus from the snout of the one and only Scarlett Johansson. And the tissue was handed to her by Jay Leno on his show. She blew her nose… and the rest of history.

Check out whole story in this small USA Today article.

I wonder where the highest bidder will keep it? Will they buy a plexiglass case? What will they label the case?


Using Popular Music to Springboard Discussions

Posted on: 12/22/08 9:05 AM | by Jonathan McKee

As I look back at the most popular music of 2008, I can’t say that I’m happy with the content that found its way into kids’ iPods. Most of it was highly sexualized and foul. Unfortunately, sex sells. This year’s Top 10 downloaded songs are, by majority, no exception.

In our last Youth Culture Window article of the year, David and I reviewed the Top 10 Downloaded Songs as charted by The Nielson Company. I find this list fascinating, not only because it reflects some of the most popular music of the year, but also the fact that downloaded songs offer explicit lyrics… and most parents have no idea what is on their kids’ iPods.

Do you know what’s on your kids’ iPods?

In this article we quickly review what kids have listened to in the last year and a little about each artist. Then we encourage parents and youth workers to dialogue with their kids about this music and this content.

Benjamin Button

Posted on: 12/19/08 10:52 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last night I got a chance to see a screening for the new film coming out Christmas Day, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. If you’ve seen the previews, it’s the peculiar film with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett where Pitt plays Benjamin Button, a person who ages “backwards.” He was born old and wrinkled, and “grew” younger each day of his life.

The film was truly remarkable. It started with a very “Forest Gump” feel, with plenty of humor and heart. Unique creative storytelling… like nothing I’ve ever seen. Then it transitioned into a romance much like “The Notebook.”

I really enjoyed the film, and I can see why it’s getting so much Oscar buzz. Pitt was amazing. But Pitt is always amazing. Don’t discount his talent because of his pretty boy appearance or his reputation in the tabloids. Pitt has proven himself over the years with a range of roles and accents (think of the range from Kalifornia to 12 Monkeys, Meet Joe Black, Snatch, etc.).

Blanchett was equally good. It took me over half an hour to recognize her under the makeup of an elderly woman- the makeup and special effects in this film were mesmerizing. (You’ve seen films where you could tell that someone young was playing someone old. Not in this film.)

So, was it one of my favorites of 2008? No. It was a little long, and slow at parts. And I have nothing against long films. Several of my favorite films of all time are over three hours long (i’ll share those in my podcast tomorrow). This film was 2 hours and forty five minutes. In its defense, I didn’t look at my watch once until an hour and forty minutes. After a 10 minute lull, it had my interest back for another 35 minutes and I looked at my watch again.

It was good… just not the best of 2008. I’ll be sharing my top films of 2008 in our podcast coming out tomorrow on our podcast page.

It’s not for kids. Sensual at times (like The Notebook), and very much reflecting the world’s values and philosophies.

I’ll be giving my complete take on the film on our movie review page the day before its release Christmas Day.

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All the Hype About Teens and Their Cell Phones

Posted on: 12/17/08 1:21 PM | by Jonathan McKee

We’ve seen a bunch of articles lately about teenagers and cell phone use. The biggest concern… teenagers browsing porn or forwarding racy pics to each other.

Call me biased, but my favorite article I’ve read about this topic so far is David’s informative summary about many of these concerns in this week’s YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW article titled, Mobile Porn.

Here’s just a snippet:

Recently, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy conducted a study on exactly what kind of pictures (and messages) teens have stored on their cell phones. Here are a few of their disappointing findings:

  • 20% of teenagers say they’ve sent (or posted) naked or semi-naked photos or videos of themselves, mostly to be “fun or flirtatious,” (33% of 20-26 year olds have done the same)
  • 33% of teenage boys say they’ve seen nude or semi-nude images sent to someone else (about 25% of teenage girls have done the same)
  • 39% of teenagers say they’ve sent suggestive text messages (59% of those ages 20-26 admit to it as well)
  • 48% of teens have received sexually suggestive text messages (64% of young adults also have)

In spite of these risqué behaviors, most of those surveyed (73%) said they knew sending sexually suggestive content “can have serious negative consequences.” Several teenagers already know this to be true; just ask these 15 year old cheerleaders who are facing child pornography charges for snapping nude pics of themselves and sending them to high school friends.

I love this article because it combines research with youth ministry experience. As always… we link every source so you can see the research yourself.

This is the second time our YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW articles have covered the topic of cell phones. Earlier this year David wrote an article about when texting becomes “Sexting.”

Movies of 2008

Posted on: 12/16/08 9:16 AM | by Jonathan McKee

As the year comes to a close, we’re starting to see a lot of lists posted about the best movies, the most popular TV, music, websites, etc.

Last year we jumped on the bandwagon and launched a podcast where Todd and I shared our favorite films of 2007. This podcast episode was one of my favorites… that’s why we did it again this year. It launches this weekend. Check out the cool pic we took.

Todd really looks evil in that picture!  (Do you think that bowl makes my butt look fat!)

Todd and I are both movie geeks, but we don’t get caught up in all that artsy Oscar buzz. In other words… 1977 was a catastrophic year for us (Annie Hall won best picture! Come on… what film did you really enjoy more? Annie Hall, or Star Wars?) On our movie review page, Todd and I review films based on “enjoyability.” (and we also try to provide a little commentary on what we as parents should let our kids see)

This year, we not only reviewed a film together and came up with our personal five favorites of the year… we also came up with our favorite movie clip discussions from the past year. We know that many youth workers enjoy using movie clips to springboard discussion. That’s why our website provides an entire page of these ideas, most of them with small group questions, transition statements, scripture and a wrap up.

I can’t give away our favorite films of the year… but I’ll drop a hint: comic book characters were very big in both our lists this year. 🙂

Something else we did was each share our favorite films of all time! Fun stuff.

If you like movies, be sure and catch that free podcast this coming weekend on our podcast page.

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Christmas Shopping Tips for Clueless Husbands

Posted on: 12/14/08 2:48 PM | by Jonathan McKee

There’s not much to say about our newest FOUR MINUTES video on our YouTube pageother than it’s a lot of fun!

For all the dads and husbands out there… we put together what should be advertised as The Top 10 Christmas gift ideas NOT to get your wife! I’m giving you a sneak peek at it before it is put on our front page and gets mailed out to our EZINE list. It’s poking fun at clueless men this Christmas (and ironically, it will be sure to bring in complaints from numerous women!)  🙂


 Click here if you don’t see the YouTube link above. Or here for the high res version.

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Posted on: 12/13/08 12:03 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last weekend my little Ashley knocked the proverbial “ball out of the park.” We were so proud.

Ashley is my 11-year-old… my youngest… the craziest of the three! Ashley has no inhibitions at all (yes… scary at times). But that made her perfect for the lead role of this year’s annual Christmas program at our church. The role usually goes to an adult, but the director thought Ashley would be perfect.

She played a talk show host who interviewed different missionary kids from around the world. She hammed it up big time.

Lori and I caught glimpses of her at practices and practiced lines with her… but it was hard to know how she’d do in front of a big audience. Ashley had never done anything like this at all. She shows no fear in daily life (she regularly goes to the mall wearing striped kneehigh socks, patterned soccer shorts and a spotted shirt)… but I didn’t know what standing in front of 1,000 people would do to her.

It didn’t even phase her.

My dad and mom (her “Papa and Nana”) came out to see her, along with the whole family. Ashley did remarkable. I don’t think she was nervous at all. It was really amazing. Then she had a short little solo singing… she did beautiful. My wife was so happy she was in tears.

It was a great moment.

One of the funniest moments was getting her costume together in the weeks prior. You have to understand Ashley. In daily life Ashley wears oversized soccer shorts and a ragged t-shirt. It’s hard to get her to dress up. If you mention the word “dress” … she shudders. She gives new meaning to the word “tomboy.” I don’t think she thought that one through when she happily accepted this role. Because about one month into practice she learned that she would be dressing up in pantsuit or blazer. She almost popped a capillary!

After much wrestling, we found a little dressy red jacket and nice pair of dress slacks. She wasn’t happy. I had to put the smack down and just told her to quit her whining and tough it out!

Funny… she wasn’t worried about the lines, the audience… any of that. She just didn’t want to “dress up.”  🙂

The end result? She was amazing!

Pretty good for a little squirt! Daddy was really proud.

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