book review: guy’s guide to god, girls, and the phone in your pocket

I’d like to introduce you to a new favorite book for teenage guys: The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket, by youth ministry author, speaker, and leader Jonathan McKee.

McKee writes to teenage guys in a creative and captivating way. He covers a wide range of topics, from proper use of cologne to nudity and sex. Each “chapter” is titled with the bottom line advice and is followed by stories, personal insights, scripture, questions, and final thoughts.

Guys Guide

Some of my favorite pieces of advice for teenage guys that McKee includes:

  • “God wants you to enjoy a naked woman… one naked woman.”
  • “Learn a skill that would help you survive a zombie apocalypse.” (A clever reference to McKee’s zombie apocalypse devo for teens.)
  • “Don’t text and drive until you’ve learned how to juggle straight razors nude.”

One of my favorite aspects of the book is the opportunity for reflection included with each piece of advice in the form of questions. It would be a great book to explore with a guys small group or even as a father and son study. It could get awkward, but it can lead to very important conversations.

It’s a great read for any teenage guy, but I would say that it would be best for guys ages 14 to 16. At the same time, anyone who reads these pages are bound to learn something useful. I found the advice about sleep and smartphones profound. I know the consequences of looking at your phone right before dozing off to sleep, yet I keep doing it. I also know that if I want to live a healthy life and be an example to the students in my ministry, I need to follow McKee’s advice:

“Turn off your phone at night. The consequences of leaving it on are pretty straightforward, and let’s be real: you aren’t going to miss much if it’s off. Do yourself a favor and power down when you brush your teeth” (McKee, page 20).


hsm serve seattle – day 2 & 3

Wow. The last two days were so full of amazing things! Lots of work, lots of laughs, lots of fun.

I was going to write a post about all that we did, the projects we did, and the people we served, but all that matters is simply this: God is at work.

Our students are engaging in community. We’re serving with joyful hearts. We’re seeing God at work, both in the city and in our hearts. I’ve had multiple conversations about how God is wrecking our students for Him. I’m so excited for you to hear more, but for now, we’ve been going non-stop for the last 17 hours, and it’s time for bed.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

hsm serve seattle – day 1

We made it!

I’m sitting in the cafe of Ballard Church, watching a small group of students playing a quite game of cards and hearing another group play a loud game upstairs.

Today was a great day! We bonded over the 7 hour (with stops) trip to Seattle. All of our students are super excited about the week, and we can’t wait to start serving Seattle!


Highlights from the day:

– We prayed. We began with prayer at the very beginning of the day. I loved that parents prayed with us. What an awesome gift! We prayed throughout our trip for our truck. It’s having electrical issues, and we literally laid hands on the truck after lunch at McDonald’s in Moses Lake, WA. It was weird, it was awkward, but it was GOOD. It showed that we rely on God. It modeled to our students that we really aren’t in control. And we continued in prayer when we arrived, thanking God for safe arrival, that the truck made it in one piece, and that we have a place to lay our heads at night.

– We grew closer to each other. Through long ours in the church van and other vehicles, we got to know each other’s music likes (and dislikes), we learned who falls asleep with their mouth wide open, and we shared stories. What a great phone-free environment. 🙂

– We instituted the Image of God Awards. These awards (toy crowns from Wal-Mart) are awarded to individuals at dinner who exhibited Christ-like attitudes during the day. It was great to hand these to students with the anticipation of them handing them to someone else tomorrow night.

Thanks for your continued prayer! We’ll keep you posted

i’m tired

Tomorrow is the final day of preparation for our high school mission trip to Seattle. It is the final day to rest before seven days of early mornings, late nights, manual labor, and exceedingly long stints of extroversion.

And I’m already tired.

tired.jpgCaffeine has been one of my closest friends the past few weeks. It’s always been there for me during the long days of preparing for this trip and maintaining other daily tasks. But there is only so much this legal drug can do. Only so much energy it can fake before the inevitable crash. And while caffeine will continue to be there for me through the thick and thin of this next week, it, too, has it’s limits.

So entering into this mission trip, there are two things I know for sure: (1) I’m tired, and (2) whatever success, whatever building of the kingdom, whatever individual growth happens on this trip has to be because of God, not me.

I’m reminded of Mike Erre’s thoughts in Astonished, “This is the paradox of strength and weakness: that I am strongest when I am weakest; I am most usable when I am in over my head; Jesus is most present when I am at the end of my rope.”

I’m thankful that I worship a God who is strong in my weakness. Who uses me in my weakness to be strong. And who will be present always. I’m starting this week with the realization that God is going to show up. God will continue to be present. God will work.

And I wonder if God is chuckling with Himself at my tiredness, knowing that if I was well-rested, it would be too easy to point to me in successes; but because I’m already so tired, it will be much easier to point to Him.

Again, I’m so glad that God is in control.

youth pastor fail

I am flawed. But God is not.

The pastor was calling those who he talked to last week to come forward and be available for prayer during communion. Yes, he emailed me to ask if I was willing to help, but because of the busyness of preparing for a mission trip, I forget to email him back.

So technically, I wasn’t obligated to be present to pray for others. And part of me was glad. I got to bed late the night before, there were so many things on my mind, and the last place I wanted to be was in front of the congregation, standing at attention, ready to pray with people.

Then something in me (let’s just call it the Holy Spirit) told me that I really should go. So after an internal struggle, I handed James over to his mother and reluctantly walked up with the rest of the “prayers.”

I stood there, doubtful that anyone would come to me for prayer.

Youth Pastor FailAnd then I saw him – the student who has been struggling with his faith, unsure of where he stands with God – walking toward me. Let me just say this: I’m so glad that I’m not God because I would fail. Miserably.

This student, who has such an authentic heart for trying to seek God, who has been struggling with what it means to be a Christ-follower, who doesn’t really know where he stands, proceeded to give his life back to God, rededicating himself to following Christ.

Wow. Again, I’m so glad that I’m not God, and that God is God. And I can’t believe that he would let a reluctant, avoiding, sinful person like me partner with Him in His mission. Of course, this student would probably have made the same decision if I was still in my pew, wallowing in my bad attitude. But I’m glad that God was able to use me, imperfect as I am, for His purposes.

What an amazing God!

what i’m reading – june ’14

I’ve decided to copy my wife’s “What I’m Reading” video post, and make one of my own.

Watch, learn, and let me know your thoughts.  I’d also love to know what you’re reading in the comments below!


love those you lead

The pastor stood on the stage, looking out over the congregation, and didn’t recognize a large group of people in the pews.  New believers?  No – These people had been attending the church for years.

The congregation looked up to the stage, not really knowing who the pastor was.  Was he new?  No – He had also been there for years.

The youth pastor sat down in her regular meeting with youth ministry leaders and looked around the circle and realized she didn’t know their likes and dislikes.  She had no clue what they did for fun or their favorite food.  New leaders?  No – Both parties had been working together for months.


This happens all too often in church – those who lead and those who follow don’t know each other.  There is a lack of relationship, a lack of compassion, a lack of love.

Without relationship, it is difficult to cast vision.  Without compassion, it is hard to relate. Without love, it is impossible to lead.  John Maxwell, in his book Developing the Leader Within You, states, “You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them.”

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ESV).

Even if I had all the talent and abilities of being a leader, without love, I am nothing.

I’m reminded of the once popular song by Chris Tomlin that declares, “Where you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay.  When you move, I’ll move.  I will follow.”

This song speaks of our willingness to follow God in our lives.  But this act of obedience is not without a prerequisite: we know that God loves us.  We know that God deeply cares for our lives.

As a leader, I must love others.  When love enters in, relationships are built and leadership takes flight.

Love is the key.  It develops relationship.  It shows compassion.  It builds bridges.

Are people not following you when you lead?  Try love.  

(Photo credit: silent shot)