David vs the Strip Club Owner

Posted on: 04/6/11 5:37 PM | by Jonathan McKee

David R Smith, the guy who writes well over half of our Youth Culture Window articles, was talking to me on the phone earlier this week about an upcoming debate he has at his college ministry on the campus of The University of South Florida. He told me that he was hosting a debate on pornography at his ministry facility with Joe Redner, owner and operator of the Mons Venus, a world-renowned strip club in Tampa, FL.

The debate is going to center on the effects of pornography; are there any, and if so, are they good or bad?

David has told me he’s taken a huge leap of faith in this arena. Redner has made millions of dollars through adult entertainment, and has spoken at hundreds of venues like the one Thursday night, espousing his views on pornography. Simply googling the name “Joe Redner” reveals tons of information about the guy; he’s also on Wikipedia. In short, this guy is a giant in the adult entertainment business.

David wisely met him for lunch earlier this week; at that meeting, Redner made many disparaging remarks about the idea of God, verbally embraced atheism, and promised David he’d embarrass him in front of the campus body.

Hmmm…sounds like another story involving a giant who hated God and a guy named David….

I’m using today’s blog to ask you to pray for David. He’s going to have audience with an incredible amount of college students Thursday night, and he’d greatly appreciate your prayerful support. Who knows what could come out of this night. Clearly, David has the truth. Let’s ask God to give him the words, the insight, and the clarity to communicate those truths to college students in South Florida.

The debate starts live at 8:15pm EST, Thursday night (for those in the Tampa area who would like to attend, it’s at the Crosswinds ministry building on 50th Street next to the new athletic fields). David has told me there’s a tech team in place to film the entire event so we can make it available to our blog and Ezine users at a later date. In addition to determining a winner and loser, college students will also be given a chance to state whether their belief AND USE of porn will shift as a result of this conversation. We’ll share that with you as soon as we can.

Thanks for your help in this. David has already expressed his gratitude to me on behalf of your prayers for him.

In Korea

Posted on: 01/14/11 1:07 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Yesterday I flew to Korea. I’m hear to speak for the weekend. So far we’ve had a great time.

I think the highlight was when my buddy Lorin, who traveled with me, asked our host (a U.S. civilian who runs a youth ministry on the Yongsan military base over here), “So is it true that they eat dog over here?”

More on that hilarious conversation in a minute.

We flew over here yesterday on a direct flight from San Francisco (2 hours from my house) to South Korea (near Seoul). The flight left at 11:30 am and was about 12 hours. So we landed about midnight California time, but it was 4PM the next day in Korea.

I didn’t sleep on the plane for two reasons:
1. It’s uncomfortable anyway in coach!  🙂
2. I figured that I wanted to sleep a good night’s sleep when I arrived… so I didn’t want to mess with my sleep.

Mission successful. I stayed awake for the whole flight, reading, watching the in flight movies, etc. then met the people I’m going to minister with for the weekend, went to my hotel and slept a good 8 hours right away!

So it was on our ride from the airport that my friend Lorin asked, “So do they eat dog over here?”

Randy, our host, says, “Yes, but it’s not like they just kill dogs on the street. They raise then like cattle.”

Lorin says, “What!!!”

I’m laughing. So I ask, “What kind of dog?”

Randy says, “I don’t know what kind of dog it is. They kind of look like Old Yeller.”

Lorin and I both say in perfect unison, “They raise Labradors for food?!!!”

“Yes, it’s not bad.”

To which Lorin says, “You’ve had it!!!”

I can’t even talk at this point because I’m laughing at Lorin. Plus, I’m trying to figure out how to tell my daughter that they raise and eat yellow labs. I’m sure they aren’t really yellow labs. I think I’m going to have to research that one. But it sure was a humorous conversation.

We eventually got on the military base and met some of the workers for the ministry here reaching out to the teenagers that have parents in the military. Great group of people. I look forward to ministering with them for the weekend (I speak to the kids Saturday, then preach Sunday and doing a parenting workshop)

Today I speak three times to the kids here at the ministry here on the US Military base. Pray for this time. There are going to be about 200 that I’m speaking to. Most of what I’ll be doing today is outreach. So pray as I share the Gospel and invite the kids to respond.

Also pray that I don’t eat Old Yeller!

Focused on the Important This Christmas

Posted on: 12/23/10 1:44 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week one of our “The Source for Youth Ministry” board members, John, and his wife Heather were hit by a drunk driver on the way home from a church dinner.

By God’s grace, both of them walked away from the accident… with a huge change of perspective!

Americans sometimes are distracted by materialism, especially during the holiday season. Events like this tend to wake us up to what’s really important in life. Here’s the email my friend John sent out the night of the accident- some great words of wisdom:  (emphasis mine)

Last night on the way home from the (church) dinner Heather and were hit by a drunk driver. We were traveling west on Douglas Blvd towards home in my GMC Denali when I noticed in the rearview mirror a car approaching from behind very fast. I had just enough time to shout out to Heather that we were going to get hit right before the impact. The rear end impact was pretty violent and it put us into a spin pushing us over the curb and into the landscape/sidewalk. As we were spinning we struck a tree on the right front, deploying the air bags. Miraculously, we threaded and bounced through 5 other trees narrowly missing any broadside impacts, coming to rest backwards against the residential block sound wall. The truck is totaled but we were spared, praise God! 

The CHP officer and a witness both estimated the speed of the car that hit us to be 90-100 MPH. The only skid marks at the accident were from our truck so we received the full impact of his speed. After impact, he bounced off us and went into the center median and struck a pine tree across the road. He stumbled across the street after the accident totally oblivious to us, I’m not sure if he knew he hit us. CHP confirmed he was very drunk, he was taken to the hospital and then most likely to jail. We were well taken care of.   The first fireman on the scene was an old friend from (our church), our insurance agent and good friend Jeff came to the site with a jacket for Heather, we were on the phone with our pastor Ray within a few minutes of the accident and our Men’s pastor Greg came to check on us and give us a ride home!
We are both doing well today other than having soreness in our necks from the whiplash. Obviously we are very thankful for God’s provision of safety, I guess He decided that our work here isn’t finished. This is the first time I’ve been involved in an accident of this nature and it’s interesting to me how these things can be confusing and clarifying at the same time. Confusing in that we will always wonder why things like this happen, and there will be ramifications from this that we’ll have to deal with that don’t make sense. But more importantly, these types of experiences provide clarity about what is really important in life and who is in control. Our immediate reaction after the accident wasn’t to check the car for damage, but rather to get out of the car and hug each other, tears of joy and thankfulness to our God for sparing us from injury. Our minds jumped right to the “what if” scenarios. What if we had hit that tree? What if the kids had been in the car? What if we’d been in a smaller car? In the initial moments, and upon reflection today, we are reminded of how fragile life is and how quickly circumstances in life can change. Because of this experience, today my thoughts have been focused on the love of my God, my wife, my family and my friends. Is there anything more important? My prayer is that I won’t lose this perspective and that my life won’t be the same. I’m grateful to God for this gentle reminder of HIs love, and the love we share through the common bond of our Savior Jesus Christ.
I hear John loud and clear. Earlier this year I received a phone call from my wife that she and my daughter Ashley had just been in an accident (I tell that story here). These moments remind us of the important things in life: our relationship with God and our relationship with others.
I pray that you all experience some great time with family and with God your Father this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas!

Posted in Faith, News, Prayer |  | Leave A Comment

Justin Bieber’s “Pray”

Posted on: 12/9/10 12:01 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Have you seen what video just moved up to the #1 downloaded video on iTunes?

It’s a song called “Pray” from Justin Bieber.

Here’s a snippet of the lyrics.

Children are crying.
Soldiers are dying
Some people don’t have a home
But I know there’s sunshine behind that rain
I know there’s good times behind that pain, hey
Can you tell me how I can make a change
I close my eyes and I can see a better day
I close my eyes and pray

The video gives a glimpse of soldiers with their families, homeless people, and poor children on the street– all this mixed with shots of Justin interacting with needy people… and him praying. You can take a peek at it here.

I have two reactions to this video, and the fact that it’s at the top of the iTunes chart:

1. Excitement. The number one spot in the video charts aren’t often held by a clean video. Look at other videos that hit #1 this year: Teenage Dream, OMG, Like a G6… the list goes on (David and I are actually writing a Youth Culture Window article right now reviewing all the #1 songs of the year). Bieber’s “Pray” is not only a nice break from the typical racy content of #1, it’s wholesome and uplifting. Thanks Justin, truly.

2. Hesitation. Yes, I’m always a little scared when celebs speak out about prayer and their faith, simply because so many of these celebs turn around a month or two later and live out the exact opposite. Most followers of Christ probably feel a little bit burned and hurt by the “Gospel according to Hollywood.” But I’m not going to throw stones at Justin in any way here. I don’t know him at all, and I haven’t seen put out anything really racy. Let’s just say… I’m holding my breath. (…and just closing my eyes to pray!)

The video ends with these words… some great advice to us all:

God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.

please pray for my dad

Posted on: 07/30/10 11:33 AM | by Jonathan McKee

A quick note… I’m on the run. I had a huge scare this morning… if you could please pray. My dad, Tom McKee, had a mild heart attack this morning and was rushed into surgery.
He was actually on a plane to go speak in Shreveport, LA… and he started having chest pains. He asked them to stop the plane (it was still on the ground in Sacramento Metro backing away) and next thing he was in an ambulance to the hospital.
Long story short, he had some blockage removed from a major artery, had a stent put in, and the nurse’s comments afterwards were, “We caught this in the nick of time.”
They are keeping dad there at the hospital through Sunday. Mom is doing better now… a little shook up this morning when it was all going down.
I think we’re over the hump! 
For those of you who don’t know of my dad, he’s the guy who actually wrote the helpful article in the WHAT’S NEW box on our front page this week, the article titled, The Delicate Art of Asking Questions When Being Interviewed. He’s the founder and creator of www.VolunteerPower.com
Thanks for your prayers.
God Bless,
President, The Source for Youth Ministry

Posted in Personal, Prayer |  | Leave A Comment

Lori and Ashley in an Accident

Posted on: 05/13/10 12:36 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Today everything came to a screeching halt for me in my office at 2:42 p.m. My wife called from her cell phone in tears—she and my youngest daughter Ashley had been in a bad car accident.
If you’ve been in these situations, you might have noticed that time freezes. Seconds before the phone rang, I had been at full speed finalizing my workshop presentations for this weekend in NJ … none of that mattered now. I just sat there, frozen in time, staring at the texture on the wall, feeling as if my throat was closing up on me.
I blinked in slow motion. It felt like a minute, waiting to find out if she and Ashley were okay, but it probably was only a nanosecond during that pause in my wife’s sentence.
Even though time was frozen, my thoughts were running at 30-images-per-second. I saw it clearly in my mind—a gurney being loaded into an ambulance with my daughter’s 12-year-old body strapped tightly. An EMT in a blue uniform holding an oxygen mask to her tiny face, trying to keep his balance as he stepped into the ambulance with the gurney.
Fast forward to the hospital waiting room… a group of faces surrounding me, some patting me on the shoulder trying to assure me of some hope, others saying words of encouragement, but I don’t hear a thing. My thoughts are in an operating room right now with Ashley’s petite frame laid out on a table, doctors franticly working, trying to save her life.
I hit my knees right there in the waiting room and cry out to God, “Please don’t take her. Please!”
I’m not thinking about a totaled car. I’m not worried about increased insurance rates. I could care less if I lost it all at this point. Just not Ashley. “Lord, don’t take Ashley. Nothing else matters.”
I blink again.
I’m back in the office, staring at the textured wall. My wife catches her breath and finishes her sentence. “We’re fine. But the car is totaled.”
I get all the details, but I don’t care about any of them. Lori and Ashley are safe.
It was heavy traffic on a main road by my house. Lori was trying to get through two lanes of stopped traffic to a shopping center. Two cars left a gap and waved her through, not knowing that a young kid was coming full speed in the far right turn lane. Lori poked her nose out to look and it was too late—that teeth grinding sound of metal crunching and glass breaking. Our little Sentra was totaled, with Lori and Ash right there in the front seats.
It was Lori’s first accident, ever.
An hour later Lori was crying, “I’m sorry. I can’t believe I totaled the car.”
I looked at her and smiled. “I am not worried about it at all. You two are safe.”
God answered my hospital room prayer… and I was never even there.
The funny thing is, last week I prayed that very prayer. I was praying and I asked God, “Please keep my family safe.” I went on. “I don’t care about this recession, my salary, home values, bills… none of it. Just keep my family safe.”
He answered it.
So I’m keeping my end of the bargain. I don’t care about the car, the deductable, insurance increases, body shop bills… none of it.
The girls are okay. That’s all that matters.
God is good.
(You can keep Ash in your prayers. Lori seemed to fair fine, but Ash’s head actually hit the side window or something. She’s got the beginning of a black eye and a little bit of headache. A fire truck actually did show up at the accident and they checked her out—said she was fine. She was in good spirits a couple hours later. The black eye makes her look tough. I told her to tell everyone at school that she got in a gang fight!)

Posted in Family, Personal, Prayer |  | Leave A Comment

Speaking on YouTube

Posted on: 05/4/10 11:15 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Tonight I spoke locally to a youth group near my house. The youth pastor is a friend and had done me a favor, speaking and endorsing our ministry at one our THE SOURCE fund-raising dinners- I owed him. So I spoke to his group tonight about communicating with God, the same talk that we just released on the newest episode of our podcast.

We also have a video excerpt of this talk posted on our YouTube page.

Click here for that video.

I love that Matthew 6 passage. So much in there. I could do a 6 week series on that passage. Fun stuff!

Posted in Prayer |  | Leave A Comment

A Silent Junior High Room

Posted on: 10/12/09 10:23 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’ve never heard 35 junior high students be so quiet.

Some of you might know, I volunteer at my church working with the junior high group midweek. This is fun for me. My youngest daughter is in the group and being involved keeps me “hands-on” with kids on a regular basis since the focus of my ministry is speaking, training and writing right now.

Last Wednesday night I saw something I rarely see in a junior high room- complete silence.

Chris, a 20-something volunteer in the ministry began having seizures a few months ago. There was all kinds of speculation as to the cause, but the seizures keep coming.

Last week he had one again and the doctors want him to come in for a battery of tests- the result might be brain surgery.

We announced this to the junior high students on Wednesday night. They all know Chris, he had just been tagging a bunch of them with dodgeballs the week prior. The students were really receptive. Kevin, the youth pastor asked that we just stop and pray. He asked someone to open and another to close, then opened it up to anyone who wanted to pray.

The time to follow was amazing. 6th, 7th and 8th graders, many who never have the guts to pray out loud amongst their peers, all began praying for Chris.

I wish you all could have heard these precious prayers. Far from articulate, some very repetitive, but all very authentic and sincere.

You could have heard a pin drop. I’ve never heard junior highers quiet for this long. None of them seemed restless or in a hurry. They simply brought their requests before God in a very real way.

It was an amazing experience.

If you think of it, please pray for Chris today. He’s at a hospital in Oakland going through tests all day.

David’s Car Wreck Yesterday

Posted on: 07/23/08 9:03 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you who are loyal THE SOURCE users are getting to know our writer and speaker David R. Smith. David develops and manages much of our content you see at THE SOURCE, and most weeks he writes our Youth Culture Window article that appears in the big magnifying glass on our front page.

Yesterday David got into a car accident- he’s fine- the accident wasn’t really that bad. But it was amazing to hear how God revealed Himself through it. Here’s the email he sent out to his friends and prayer supporters yesterday:

I told you I would email you when “big things” happen in the life of the Smith family. I think today qualifies!

It started when Jenn (wife) asked Josiah (2 year old son) and me to go grocery shopping. He likes to help…mainly because he gets a free cookie while Daddy does all the work! But on this day, we never made it to the grocery store.

A woman swerved into our lane and spiked the brakes at an intersection because she missed her turn, and we rammed straight into her. We hit her so hard, my glasses literally flew off of my face and landed in the passenger floorboard. I was wearing my seatbelt and so the only “injury” I sustained was a slightly aching arm. Josiah was in his car seat in the back, but was given a pretty solid snap at impact. He began to cry immediately (from the pain or the shock or both…I don’t know). I popped out of the car, grabbed him and went running to the car stalled ahead of us in the intersection.

Leah and her 7 year old son Nathan were both OK. Now I could further inspect Josiah. No bruises, no cuts. But he did want to lean his head on my shoulder and cry a bit. That was fine with me.

Problem one, safety, taken care of.

But we still have to call the police to file a report. Leah did not have a cell phone, and mine had ran out of battery. So, God sent John to us. He pulled up, rolled down his window, and asked if we needed help. I said, “We sure could use a cell phone.” While the light was red, he jumped out of his truck, ran it over to me, and then scurried back through the lanes of traffic to his truck. He then pulled into the median and let Josiah and Nathan sit in his truck with the AC going. (It had to be 95 degrees today!!) Leah used his cell phone to call her husband, and I used it to call Jenn…and a bodyguard! J After all, it was HER car I wrecked!

John told me that he was en route to lunch with his pastor. Here’s this kid (maybe 22 years old, maybe!) on his way to get help with his needs, when he stopped to meet so many of ours. After the cops showed up, and we moved my car out of the road and into the median, the boys jumped into my car to stay cool, and John left.

Don’t you love it when the church is the church!?!?

Problem two, call for help, taken care of.

So, Jenn gets there and takes Josiah with her. I stay with the car, not knowing who to send it to for repairs…actually, not even knowing if it’s repairable! Gary, the tow truck guy, could see I was a bit shaken, and he assured me he would put me in contact with his boss (a mechanic), and I would be “taken care of.” Well, no offense to any mechanics reading this, but sometimes they have a bit of a reputation….  

So, 2 hours and 1 torrential downpour later, I handed Gary’s boss, Mr. Lee my business card. He said, “Oh you’re a youth pastor?” I answered, “Sort of.” J He then proceeded to tell me that he was the lead deacon at the Korean Presbyterian church in Tampa. This guy owns two collision centers, it’s raining, people are literally waiting in the lobby, and he says to me, “Grab your things; I will give you a ride to your house.” I told him I lived all the way over by the university, to which he answered, “No problem.” The guy WOULD NOT take no for an answer.

So, during our ride, we talked about how he had become a Christian, moved to America, and started his business. He assured me he would take great care of my car…and my finances, too!

Don’t you love it when the church is the church!?!?!

Problem three, money/repairs/car rentals, (mostly) taken care of.

OK, so it’s now 1:00am. The insurance company has been called, and a new car has been rented. I’ve prayed with my family more today than I ever have. (Which totally freaks Jo out…he usually only prays when it’s time to eat. J So every time we go to pray, he’s looking around for food! J) When I wasn’t on the phone with insurance companies, or car rental agencies, I was just thanking God for His abundant love for my family. I’ve now had a few hours to reflect on the day, and I’ve entered this day into the journal that I am keeping for Josiah. In it, I told Josiah that it wasn’t seatbelts or airbags or “crumple design technology” that kept us safe today; it was the mighty and loving hand of God.  

I am sending this to each of you because it’s part of our lives, and you said you wanted to be kept informed. We both know that I cannot thank you enough for your support of our ministry, and your prayers for my family. I am certain an emailed thank you falls short of my appreciation in the Lord for you, but I send it nevertheless. Thank you.

Keep David in prayer. He’s waiting on the insurance to find out if his car is totalled… you know how that goes.

Posted in Personal, Prayer |  | Leave A Comment

Six States in One Day

Posted on: 07/5/08 9:09 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Tomorrow my family and I fly to the East Coast where I’ll be speaking at a camp all next week. If our flight goes through (don’t even get me started about the reliability of the airlines lately!!!), we’ll be arriving in VA tomorrow afternoon, then hitting D.C., Maryland… the edge of Delaware, and finally New Jersey within 24 hours (and that’s including a night’s sleep).

In California if I drove that long I would just run into… more California. So it’s always a fun experience for my kids. “Hey kids, we’re hitting a new state!”

“Huh? I thought we just arrived in a new state 10 minutes ago!”

“We did. But now we’re entering another one. Did you enjoy Delaware?”

Once the flight is done (grumble…), I’m really looking forward to this trip. I speak a week at Long Beach island in NJ. The camp is on a huge strip of land that parallel’s the shore. Beach on both sides… the kids are pretty excited.

If you think of it, pray for the week. I speak a couple times a day most of the week. I present the Gospel and do an invitation on Tuesday night (you can really pray for that), and then I teach about making Jesus a priority for the rest of the week.

When I finish up Saturday we are heading to Philly for a day to visit family, then onto the D.C. area to visit some friends. We’ll probably spend a day in the D.C. “Mall”… the monuments, museums, etc. We haven’t seen the new WWII memorial so we’ll probably go check that out.

It will be good fun having the family with me again on this trip.

Good times!