Five Youtube Videos That Earned My Thanks

When my family makes it’s way around the table so that each person can offer something for which they are thankful, I am going to be pretty tempted to say thanks for Youtube.

I know I am not the only one either.

How many times have you found yourself in a situation and you didn’t know what to do? Sure, maybe the first thing you did was think, “Oh, I know! I’ll Google it.”

Then your browser takes you to a list of videos on Youtube showing you how or to a list of blogs which include said videos within the text.

It may seem trivial, but, man, I am thankful for Youtube.

Since I am in such a festive mood, here are 5 videos for which I am particularly thankful:

1.  How to Carve a Turkey (from Art of Manliness)

One thing I am doing in a current discipleship group is working through what we call man-plans. We each chose 2-3 things we wanted to learn from a list found in this great book on biblical manhood.

One of the things I chose to learn (or really re-learn) is how to carve a turkey. This video was just what I was looking for. The corresponding blog article also includes step by step written instructions.

If you’re a guy whose never taken the reins of the holiday bird, check out the video and step up to the serving plate this Thanksgiving.

2. How to Tie a Tie (from Tie-a-Tie.net)

I am not embarrassed to say this video might be one of my best-friends.

Before serving at a church where tie-tying knowledge is a necessity, I didn’t really have much of a demand in my life to step up and learn how to tie a tie. As I hit graduation from seminary and went through the interview process, the demand picked up quickly.

At this point, I no longer need to watch the video. But I do find my way back to the site to brush up on my technique or to look at other knots.

Still don’t know how to tie a tie? Check out this video to learn how to tie a half-windsor knot.

3. Kings to Win Protest Against Grizzlies

One, I am thankful for the Memphis Grizzlies. I am thankful for the Grit-Grind. I am thankful for their NBA-best start to the season.

I am also thankful for really funny videos. When I first watched this video, I was overly anxious that the NBA was going to strip the Grizzlies of their controversial win over the Sacramento Kings.

Lastly I am thankful for Rickrolling.

4. Surge is Back!

When I found out that this once-extinct beverage was making it’s way back to the market on Amazon via a Facebook campaign, I ordered several cases.

I am thankful for the many memories it brought back from my days growing up in a crazy youth group.

I am thankful for Surge, as it helped me accomplish one of my initial goals when I became a youth pastor: Make a kid throw up. 

It was glorious.

5. Katy Perry – Dark Horse – Ten Second Songs Cover

For one thing, I am thankful that people who have talent (not talking about Perry here) still have an outlet to showcase their creativity. This guy is awesome.

But I am also thankful for this Katy Perry song for another reason.

One night this fall, some students decided to play some pranks on the youth pastor.

They didn’t know what they were setting themselves up for.

I may or may not have kept the students up til 4 a.m. I may or may not have poured water on all of them as they slept in their sleeping bags. I may or may not have thrown their stuff in the street.

I may or may not have played this song and sung some of the lyrics in a very menacing voice while blowing up balloons filled with shaving cream.

No matter how long I live, Dark Horse will be a song very close to my prank-loving heart.

So thank you Youtube for letting me reminisce on my night of terror in 20 different styles.


Obviously in the endless spectrum of Youtube videos, there are a number of other videos that I have enjoyed or benefitted from this year, but these are 5 for which I am especially grateful.

What about you? Send me a link to a Youtube video that you are thankful for this year.

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Wisdom in Action: From the Baseball Diamond to the Real Life Battlefield

THIS POST IS PART OF THE NEW SERIES, “A GOOD SOLDIER” – A SERIES OF REFLECTIONS ON THE MILITARY CLASSIC ONCE AN EAGLE AND HOW THE LESSONS WITHIN THE BOOK CONNECT TO BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP. FOR AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Doing the Right Thing

When You Don’t Know What to Do

Sam Damon not only was a good soldier. He was one heck of a baseball player.

He excelled at the high school level and continued to play competitively after graduation. Soon after joining the army, Damon finds himself on the familiar diamond in a scrimmage between the troops. Even among a group of athletic soldiers that included former professional athletes, Damon stood out.

He could throw and hit a baseball harder and farther than most men, and he knew it. (p. 58)

With two outs in the last inning and Damon’s team clinging to a marginal lead, Private Sam Damon gives the reader a glimpse at true wisdom.

First, Damon accurately assessed the situation.

Davis, a solid hitter in his own right, is standing at the plate. If he gets on base, Damon’s team will find themselves letting the victory out of their clutches. Damon watched from the outfield as his pitcher stared the batter down and considered carefully his next pitch.

Sam knew what the big man was thinking: if he didn’t get Davis he would have to face Corporal Hansen, a big blond Swede who had hit him all afternoon, who could always hit him — who would drive in the two runs and the game would be over. (p. 59-60)

From over a hundred feet away, Damon observed what was happening and knew what would happen next if immediate action wasn’t taken to deal with the batter at hand. This at-bat, one way or the other, would determine the game.

Damon knew something had to be done.

Next, Damon instinctively acted with skill and with decisiveness.

Pitch by pitch, Damon predicted what would happen as if he were the pitcher and batter himself. Damon knew the pitcher was about to unleash a fastball right over the plate to try to bring the count back in his favor. He also knew that the batter would anticipate the fast pitch and would take a hard swing.

Seconds later, a line drive soars in Damon’s direction in left center. Time almost freezes as the outcome of the game lies in the balance.

Davis is about to get on base… Hansen’s coming to the plate… Damon’s team is about to lose.

As Damon chases down the line drive bouncing in the rough grass of the outfield, Damon, in an instance of spontaneous awareness, processes everything that is happening and everything that is about to happen and executes a deceptive play on the ball – all on a whim with the game on the line.

Without any conscious thought he dipped down, trapped the ball deftly; then spun around in the wilted yellow grass as though bewildered, took a step back. There was an outcry and he could hear Merrick distinctly now, shouting, “Go on, go on!” He wheeled and threw with all his might…

Out. Out a mile. The game was over. (p. 60-61)

Even as the ball screams towards him, Damon isn’t entirely sure what he’s going to do. He finds himself in a position that requires immediate action. Damon obliges and acts.

Later on, after the spectacular game-winning assist had caused a scuffle among the troops, Damon admits to his commanding officer that this wasn’t a scheme he had tried in other games. This wasn’t planned out ahead of time. This wasn’t a case of knowing what to do because he had “been there, done that”. This was a man in the face of conflict, executing with skill and decisiveness.

Sam Damon, a humble Private in a scrimmage among troops on a baseball diamond, exhibits for us, biblical wisdom.

Wisdom is not just knowing truth; wisdom is the ability to live life skillfully.

My church is working through the book of Proverbs on Sunday mornings right now. In his introduction to the sermon series, my senior pastor offered several definitions of wisdom.

My favorite was this:  Doing the right thing without precedent.

Commenting on this definition of wisdom, Pastor Darrin explained, “[Wisdom] means you know what to do in a situation even though you’ve never experienced it before. You have built up such an understanding of life from God’s perspective that you have skills not from experience but from intuition.”

Wisdom is Sam Damon in the outfield.

In life, you are going to get a line drive hit right to you with the game on the line. There won’t be time to do research or take a survey from friends and counselors who have been there before.

You are going to have to field the ball now or you’re going to lose the game.

You are going to need wisdom.

Great. Thanks for obvious. I need wisdom. How am I supposed to get that?

Whether we turn to Chris Pratt guarding the endangered galaxy or Mitch Hedberg pointing out the irony in the mundane like the way escalators can never be “out of order” because they just turn into stairs, we are a people who love one-liners.

Star-Lord delivers the one-liners at a rapid pace. What? You’ve never heard of Star-Lord?!?

But the king of one-liners was also the king of wisdom.

He was a man wiser than any other – one who could step into a situation he had not faced before (such as handing over a baby claimed by two women) and execute with skill and decisiveness (threatening to slice the baby in half):

King Solomon, son of David.

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon drops the one-liner of all one-liners to answer the fool who doesn’t really buy into the idea that he needs wisdom to field the line drives of life with skill and precision. He says:

The beginning of wisdom is this… GET WISDOM.

Proverbs 4:7

If we want to live life with skill and decisiveness, we can’t just wait until the line drive is already heading our way and hope that we can handle it. Skill and the ability to make a decision with decisiveness come from a lifetime pursuit of discipline, character, and conviction.

Solomon sees you facing a situation you’ve never met before – parenting your kid through a new phase of growth and maturity – going through an interview process you’ve never had to endure – putting the food on the table with an income not quite at what you’ve been accustomed – and he offers a word of advice.

You need wisdom?

Get after it.

Go. Get. Wisdom.

God will be gracious to grant wisdom to those who seek it (James 1:5-6).

But wisdom requires some exercise and discipline on our own end.

Damon would not have been able to field the line drive bouncing awkwardly in the grass…

He would not have been able to fire a rocket to home plate with such accuracy and might…

He would not have recognized the likelihood of his team’s defeat in the present situation…

He would not have the wisdom needed to execute his trick play…

… had he not put in years of disciplined, physical training and rigorous study of the game of baseball.

Being prepared for life to come our way does not mean we will always know what to do when crisis strikes. But when the ball takes a hard bounce the other way and we need to fire a line back to the plate, we need to be in a position where we have done everything we possibly could ahead of time in order to be in a position to live life skillfully with decisiveness.

When life demands some hard work, we need to have taken the time to put some wisdom in our tool belt. The job is not going to get done without it.

There isn’t always time to consider options or get second opinions. The game will be over unless we act with wisdom.

So let’s go get it.

“A Good Soldier” – A New Series.

Part 1: 10 Practical Ways to Obey 2 Timothy 2:7.

When I was undergoing some pastoral training at my local church in Louisville, KY during my seminary days, a good friend of mine raised his hand during a brief time for Q&A.

“If there’s one thing I could read to help me understand leadership better, what would it be?” Rob asked.

Our lead pastor did not hesitate. He told us about a gargantuan book that he had recently worked through. He told us about a book that every man was given at West Point in order to prepare for a life of service. He told us about Anton Myrer’s Once an Eagle. And then after the session was over, he gave his copy to Rob.

Now, I wasn’t the one bright enough to ask such a helpful question. But after I had heard such praiseworthy comments about the novel and had seen its Large-Print Family Room KJV Bible size, I went home and immediately ordered a copy on Amazon.

During that time, I was working on a term paper on the significance of the apostle Paul’s usage of the soldier metaphor. My friend Rob and I had also been watching the HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers, together and discussing leadership principles we had ascertained from each episode. So to be introduced to a military classic with this kind of reputation was something I could not pass up.

Recently, my wife and I have begun to listen to this masterpiece on audiobook. The narration is a little too speedy at times for my taste but the book still manages to take over 41 hours of listening to complete. During the course of these long hours of taking in a tale of leadership, discipline, and loyalty, I have had plenty of time to meditate on some of Paul’s last written words to his disciple Timothy.

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus,” (2 Tim 2:3).

Being a pastor, a ministry leader, or just a Christian who is doing the normal Christian duty of making disciples is like the life and work of a good soldier. This was one of Paul’s go-to metaphors in his letters. Over and over again, he pointed to the Roman soldiers of his day to teach truths about the Christian life.

At the end of this passage, Paul tells Timothy to do something with this favorite metaphor.

“Think over what I say,

for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”

2 Timothy 2:7

There’s a command, and there’s a promise. Paul did not just talk about soldiers for fun. It wasn’t because he particularly enjoyed military history. He didn’t just happen to be a Stephen Ambrose type of guy.

The reason Paul went to this metaphor over and over, and the reason he commanded Timothy to meditate on it, is that the Lord has ordained the soldier (along with the athlete and farmer) to be inspired examples for pastoral ministry and the everyday Christian life.

God has chosen the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer to uniquely teach Christians what their life is supposed to look like. This, Paul says, deserves our attention.

This passage calls for a response. It demands some action. On a practical level, 2 Timothy 2:7 basically tells New Testament believers that if they want to understand their lives and callings as Christians who make disciples, they should buy some old military books, spend some nights watching sports, and get a little dirty planting something in the ground.

Here are 10 ways that you can follow Paul’s instruction on meditating on how the soldier, athlete, and farmer teach us about the Christian life and discipleship:


10 Practical Ways We Can Obey 2 Timothy 2:7

  1. Read military history, biographies, novels, and memoirs that give insight into the life of the soldier.
  2. Watch a military film like Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, or anything else besides Pearl Harbor.
  3. Talk to a military vet about their time in the service.
  4. Play in a sports league.
  5. Train to run a marathon.
  6. Grab some buddies and have a regular night where you watch the big game (Paul said to meditate on the athlete. No “I don’t like sports” answers allowed).
  7. Watch great documentaries like many in the 30 for 30 series to gain insight into the life of an athlete.
  8. Plant and maintain a garden.
  9. Visit a local farm and see first hand the work that goes into producing a harvest.
  10. Read some John Steinbeck or Wendell Berry that gives insight the life and work of a farmer.

While doing one of these simple tasks, follow Paul’s command. Meditate on what you are hearing, seeing, feeling, learning, experiencing. What about these tasks lines up with what you are called to be and do as a believer? What insight can you gain from these areas of life and culture that speak into our worldview as a disciplemaking follower of Jesus.

Don’t just do one of these tasks. Watching a war movie or playing a pickup game at the gym in and of itself will not help you reach Paul’s goal of understanding the Christian life. We need to do these things while seeking the Lord in prayer asking him to give us wisdom and insight into why he has chosen these unique metaphors to teach us about our lives.

 


 

In this new blog series, I am trying to do my own part in obeying Paul’s command in verse 7. What exactly is it supposed to look like for me to live my Christian life, to serve in my ministry, like a soldier? While working my way through Myrer’s military classic, I am trying to pull away principles from Once An Eagle and examine them in light of Scripture and Paul’s revelation that the story of the soldier is a parable for the Christian’s own sojourn through life.

I pray that as we give thought to the life of the soldier, we would see the fruit of the Lord being faithful to his promise — that we might be given “understanding in everything.”

I’d like to hear from you. Do you have a favorite military movie or biography? Favorite sports documentary? Have you ever read a single book about farming? Leave a comment below. I am always looking for new resources to help me in my own quest to think over what Paul has to say to us.