Showing posts with label Fun Stuff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fun Stuff. Show all posts

Monday, May 26, 2014

Movie Review Haikus

Not all films I see
can get a full review. So,
I turn to haikus. 

Five films. Five haikus. 5 x 7 x 5 syllables per line. I've also included, for the first time, my score for each film out of 5 stars. You can find all my film scores at my film journal. (See past movie haikus herehere, and here). Enjoy:

Captain America: The Winter Solider (2014, dir. Joe and Anthony Russo)
Thrilling action with
Moral gravitas makes this
Marvel's best sequel.
(3.5 out of 5 stars)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014, dir. Marc Webb)
A perfect Parker
Performance in action-packed,
Shoddily-written film.
(2.5 out of 5 stars)

Godzilla (2014, dir. Gareth Edwards)
Surprisingly fun,
But, more Cranston and Binoche!
Hey, it's Vancouver!
(3 out of 5 stars)

Philomena (2013, dir. Stephen Frears)
Two souls embark on
A (spiritual) journey to
Find her son--and God.
(4.5 out of 5 stars. A new favourite)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, dir. Wes Anderson)
Quirky, with dry wit;
Colorful, ornate design.
The most Anderson.
(4 out of 5 stars)

What have you been watching lately? Share a haiku in the comments, or a link to your recent film reviews.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Correlation Doesn't Imply Causation

Tyler Vigen is posting graphs he labels "spurious correlations." They're two completely unrelated pieces of data that just happen to be parallel:
Cheese Consumption correlates to Death by Bedsheet Entanglement
Age of Miss America correlates to Murders by Steam/Hot Vapors/Heated Objects
U.S. spending on Science, Space, and Technology correlates to Suicides by Hanging/Strangulation/Suffocation
Swimming Pool Drownings correlates to Number of Movies with Nicolas Cage
We often need more than just two pieces of data to make wise and logical conclusions. The truth is frequently more complex and intuitive than simply looking at pieces of quantitative statistics. As you likely know, 87% of statistics are completely made up.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oobleck and Church Systems

Here's a church leadership lesson I've learned recently, as well as a great do-this-at-home experiment with your toddler (thanks to my friend Blair for pointing out this substance!):

-Take one cup of water and pour it into a bowl.

-Add two cups of cornstarch.

-Mix it around together for a minute.

You get Oobleck, a non-Newtonian fluid named after a Dr. Seuss book. Oobleck is a strange liquid-solid, akin to silly putty, but far more messy and interesting.

If you pick up Oobleck slowly, it pours off your fingers like water. Stir it around with a slow, steady rhythm, and it looks much like a bowl of milk. It's a runny liquid.

Turn your hand into a fist and punch it, and it immediately hardens. Roll it around swiftly in your hands and fingers, and it stiffly crumbles and rolls into a rigid solid, until it leaves the pressure of your fingers and instantly becomes a liquid again.

When engaged with slow, steady, and smooth movements, Oobleck is malleable and easy to navigate. When engaged with quick, abrupt, forceful changes or stresses, Oobleck offers significant resistance and becomes brittle and inflexible.

Church systems are like Oobleck.

In Leading Up, I wrote about navigating church systems, how each church has a complex life of its own in the same manner of a living organism. Each part affects the other, and each system is unique for every context. Navigating those church systems requires patience, grace, and a smooth and steady leadership.

Make abrupt, swift changes and address people with sudden force, and you'll meet a great deal of resistance. Add significant unaddressed stress to people's lives, and they'll be far less open to change.

Make slow, smooth, steady changes, and you'll be met with far more flexibility and a willingness to move. Address people and their stresses with steady rhythms and even tones, and you'll find people more open to change and growth.

Just like Oobleck, it's always a bit messy.

How are you navigating your own church system?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Slip-n-Slide Kickball

Allow me to introduce you to the greatest youth ministry game ever:

Slip-n-Slide Kickball.

It was first introduced to me by my friend and mentor, Mark Staples. I've played it in at least three different countries, and its appeal certainly transcends cultural boundaries. Basically, it's awesome.


  • Four (4) inflatable kiddie pools. The sturdier, the better.
  • Four rolls of plastic sheeting or tarps of at least 6 x 25 feet. Again, the sturdier, the better.
  • Dish soap (more slippery) or baby bath soap (less eye-burning)
  • Five (5) plastic tubs or buckets that hold water.
  • Twenty-four (24) tent pegs (heavy duty plastic or thick metal)
  • Kickball (rubber playground ball or a softer volleyball work best)
  • A grass field
  • Hose
  • Water


1. Set up the inflatable kiddie pools as a regular baseball diamond with first, second, third, and home bases. Generally, I keep the bases about 50-60 feet apart. Make sure they're exactly where you want them, then fill with water.

2. Place the plastic sheeting or tarps as the baselines, creating a kickball field. Fold the corners and edges of the tarp, and stake it down with the tent pegs--one peg per corner, and two near the middle section on the edges of the tarp.

3. Spread soap on each of the tarps and hose them down with water so they're wet and slippery. You'll need to keep the hose running and ready to keep the plastic wet, especially at first base.

4. Fill four of the plastic tubs with water and place them near the kiddie pools out of gameplay. These will be used as your backup to refill pools and keep the plastic wet.

5. Place the final plastic tub where the pitcher's mound should be, directly between first and third base.


The goal of your team is to score the most runs. Runs are scored by getting a player around each base and ending at home.

One team (Team A) starts up to kick; the other team (Team B) is in the field. Each player on the kicking team will get one chance to kick the ball per inning. There are no strikes or balls; fouls are called for balls kicked outside of the playing field, but there are no strikeouts.

When the ball is kicked, the kicking player from Team A runs to first base. They must run/slide/touch the plastic baseline; they cannot run around it. The player is "on base" when they have at least one limb (hand, foot, elbow, head, etc.) inside the kiddie pool. A player on base does not have to run when a ball is kicked. Each base can have multiple Team A players on base at a given time, and runners can run all at once or one at a time after the ball is kicked. There is no stealing bases or leading off. A run is scored when a player has made it to all four bases in order without getting out.

The pitcher for Team B (usually the youth pastor or leader) gives a slow, smooth roll as the pitch. Team B players must remain behind the pitcher until the ball is kicked by Team A. When the ball is kicked, Team B in the field must get the ball back to the pitcher's mound and into the plastic tub or bucket. A player from Team A is considered "out" if they are not "on base" when the ball is inside the bucket. A caught ball, tagging a base, or tagging a runner from Team A with the ball does not get them out. Only getting the ball into the bucket while the runner is not on base will get a player out. There are no limits for outs per inning. The inning is over when all players from Team A have kicked. The teams then switch, with Team B kicking and Team A in the field.

Play at least 5 innings, or until your kiddie pools have deflated and your plastic sheeting is torn to shreds. Keep the pools filled and the plastic wet with refills from the hose and a few more squirts of soap. Also, warn the teams ahead of time about avoiding the tent pegs, as well as keeping field players off the baselines and out of the pools, lest a collision occur. Disclaimer: this is a full-contact game with potential for injury, so play with caution!

Let me know if you play slip-n-slide kickball by leaving a comment or emailing me a picture of your group enjoying the game!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Fun-Spiritual (False) Dichotomy

I'm noticing a continuum in the language of the youth I disciple. It's subtle, but it comes up often. Students talk about how much they love and want the fun events, the places where they can hang out, the dodgeball tournaments and movie nights and trips to the waterpark. Students also share about how God changed their life through a discipleship retreat or a missions trip, how they heard His voice through prayer or finally saw something amazing in Scripture. But they rarely describe the two together.

It's the fun-spiritual dichotomy.

It's how many youth and parents describe events, programs, and youth group gatherings. They fall into one of these two categories. It's either fun, or it's spiritual. And never the two shall meet.

It's deep or it's wide. It's relevant or it's religious. It's games or it's Bible study. It's ice cream or it's vegetables. And we can't possibly do both.

Or can we?

What does the fun-spiritual dichotomy reveal?

When merriment and the mystical, cheerfulness and church, joy and Jesus, are divorced from one another, we have a deficient view of the abundant life Christ promised. If a youth ministry fosters this dichotomy by creating ONLY spiritual events/programs and ONLY fun events/programs, then we further this dichotomy even more in the minds of youth and parents. This paradigm ignores the reality that God is the creator of humour, laughter, friendship, singing, dancing, and joy. It turns ministry and worship and Scripture into an overly-serious duty rather than life-giving and joy-inducing practices.

We need a better theology of play and games and fun:
What if games were used to create an environment of laughter that occurred not at the expense of others (laughing at) but as a community of people experiencing joy (laughing with)? What if games were used to break down social barriers that prohibit deep relationships to grow? What if we created shared experiences and memories of simply having fun together, with no other agenda? 
How do we break down the dichotomy in youth ministry? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Environments of belonging. The "fun" of an environment directly correlates to how much a person feels like they belong. If they feel like an outsider and are unsure of where to go, who to talk to, where to sit, etc, people will disconnect. Be intentional about youth and adult leaders making relational connections and have plenty of active things for people to do together (board games, video games, sports, etc.)
  • Clear programmatic transitions. Having an intentional and smooth schedule in a program helps break down the fun-spiritual barriers. When our games and hang out times don't transition well into a time of worship and contemplation, or we try to move from a serious talk to a silly video, it unintentionally makes a program feel disjointed and furthers the disconnection.
  • Laughter. Whether it's a silly video, a goofy game, or just giving announcements in a random accent, find creative ways to make people laugh. I'm against doing pranks that make people laugh at others; find humourous ways to help people laugh with each other.
  • Food. There's something about eating together that is both enjoyable and spiritual. Have good food at everything. I think this is why communion is a beautiful practice; we remember the atoning work of Christ while also having snack time.

The fun-spiritual dichotomy is false. Let's foster environments of belonging and joy and laughter that create memories and live into the abundant life Jesus offers.

Where does your heart or your ministry lie on the fun-spiritual dichotomy? Are you all fun-and-games, or serious-and-somber?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


This is the best animated film, and arguably the best on-screen romance, of last year. And it's only 6 minutes long. (Click here if the embed below doesn't work)

Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Make Your Own Infographic

This little tool from GOOD allows you to make your own simple infographic. You have two options: pie chart or Venn diagram. See below:

I could see these being creatively used for a sermon series. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kurt Vonnegut and Story Shapes

This brief and amusing talk by author Kurt Vonnegut is fascinating as he uses a simple axis on a chalk board to capture the trajectory of common stories. Almost makes me want to bring back the use of chalkboards. (Caution: mild language)

(ht to kottke)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Covenant Monkey

We began our high school small groups this past week, and I wanted to start off the school year right. I'm one of the leaders of the sophomore boys group, who are an eclectic and hilarious group of young men. My fellow small group leader--an incredible volunteer named Nate--and I wanted to set the tone as a bit more serious and dedicated, yet maintain the fun we've always had as a group.

So we cut a monkey in half.

In the Old Testament, when people would make a covenant with someone else, they would cut animals in half and walk through the halves. (eg. God did this with Abram in Genesis 15). It sounds quite messy, but relationships always are. The image is a powerful one, essentially stating that we are two halves coming together as one. If I don't meet my end of the deal, then may I be like this mutilated animal.

Now, we couldn't go and cut a goat in half in the middle of a church classroom. I'm sure I'd get a phone call or two from that kind of stunt. But we can certainly bisect a stuffed monkey.

After a brief stint with a pair of scissors, our covenant monkey was in two halves on the floor. I read a passage from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14:
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
We spoke vision into their lives, calling them up to be men of God together, to make a covenant with God and one another to pursue Jesus and have Godly character this school year. Then I gave the opportunity for each guy to walk through the monkey halves and say one thing they were committed to pursuing this year. After a minute of awkward silence, one guy, Jordan, took the initiative and spoke beautifully simple covenant words, leading his peers as he committed to growing in the Lord. Others followed with their own personal commitments.

Maybe it was cheesy. Perhaps it felt strange to connect the beautiful Biblical idea of covenant with dismembering a stuffed monkey. But I doubt these guys will forget it. The covenant monkey will return every so often to remind us all of our commitments--to act like men, being watchful and strong, standing firm in the faith and living lives of love.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Parkour School

The following video exudes awesomeness:

Tempest Freerunning Academy from The Cool Hunter on Vimeo.

Sign me up.

(ht to kottke)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Floating Soccer

Take 5 minutes to watch this inspiring short film. This Thai village is mostly floating on water due to the rocky landscape of the island of Panyee. So when the boys of the village wanted to create a football (that's "soccer" for us Americans) pitch, they had some obstacles to overcome. And overcome they did.

Difficulties + passion + perseverance = creativity.

(ht to kottke)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Walking in Circles

(RSS readers: click through to see the video)

Fascinating fact of the day: It turns out that human beings cannot walk, swim, or even drive in a straight line without a reference point. We simply end up going in circles.

Sermon illustrations aboundJesus as our reference point, wandering through life until the blindfold of sin is removed, contrasts of light and dark, etc.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

White Knuckles

The latest OK Go one-take music video.

Ikea furniture + trained dogs + white clothes + semi-catchy pop music = weirdly creative awesomeness.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Parkour with Ladders

This is just an ad for a New Zealand energy drink, but I guess it also might be real.

RSS readers, click through to see the video.

(ht to kottke)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Micah Sermon Wordle

A Wordle word cloud of this morning's sermon notes on the book of Micah.

Guess I talk about God a lot.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Movie Narrative Graphs

Ever get confused by multiple characters in a film's long narrative timeline? The web comic xkcd has an extremely detailed graph showing a timeline for the films Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, 12 Angry Men, and one of my favorite sci-fi films, Primer. The LOTR graph is quite enormous and intricate, and the Primer one is just funny (you'll have to see the film now!).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Randomness

Al Franken draws an impressive map of the United States by hand.

(ht to kottke)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Circular Reasoning

This puzzle from the New York Times is really difficult. It's taken Katie and me the past two days of Google and Wikipedia searches to get halfway done.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mad Men Yourself

We're busy watching the second season of arguably the best drama on television. And now you can put yourself in Mad Men here. That's me as a Sterling Cooper ad exec keeping it cool with Don Draper.

(ht to kottke)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bearded Music

Glen Hansard - The Swell Season
Sam Beam - Iron & Wine
William Fitzsimmons
Mat Kearney
Justin Vernon - Bon Iver

If you play folky guitar music and can grow a ridiculous beard, then I will probably buy your album.