Friday, January 25, 2008

10 Things I Think...

I was browsing around on awhile back, and I noticed that nearly every week a very renowned sports reporter named Peter King does this thing where he lists 10 things he thinks about sports and what's going on in that world. I thought that was pretty cool, and I'd like to adapt that for my own unique mind, and share with you 10 Things I think, and's not going to be limited to sports only. In fact, it won't even be close. Oh, and I'm making it my goal to post 1 of these lists a week along with 1 normal muse about life and faith. Cool beans...hope ya like it. And if you don't...bah. It's not your 10 thoughts--create your own.
10 Things I Think...
1) The movie Atonement is completely overrated. Yes, there's cool camera shots, beautiful people, and pretty accents, but it didn't do it for me. Like, all I walked away with is don't be a deranged, obsessive-compulsive little child who imagines up fairy tales with your crush in them. Come on, there's better uses of my time out there.
2) You should check out "To know your name" by Hillsong. In a word: unreal. This group just has God flowing through them when they create these ballads of praise which just capture my expression of worship and devotion to Jesus. Listen to the lyrics--simple, but clever.
3) I'm worried this extreme cold-weather might somehow be related to a sliver of Gore's theories on the planet. Okay, so even if his numbers were skewed, he still might be on the right path. Hang in there, polar bears.
4) There's nothing like a well-timed flatulation. And understand, it doesn't have to be from me. Actually, the one I referring to occurred in the 3rd-4th-5th grade class I'm now teaching on Wednesday nights. I had just opened up to this text in Romans, and we're all in a circle with our heads bowed, ready to pour over God's word, and then...squirt. And them some chuckles. And there's really nothing you can do about it except acknowledge the slippage and move on. I suppose if it odor was a horrible determent, you could grab air freshener.
5) I'd like to Eli Manning to achieve something Peyton hasn't. Ya know, it seems to me that it's harder to be the younger brother of a famous successful older bro, and here Eli is at a younger age than Peyton was playing in the Big Game. I'm not sure I'm rooting for any team, but more just a good game--in my book, either outcome makes a good story because I really can't stand the giraffe-necked QB of the Colts.
6) That ultrasound wand-stick-thing is mighty cool if you think about it.
7) Heath Ledger blew it. Whatever the reasons for his death, it still frustrates me. No, he's not perfect, and I hurt for his family and friends. Yet, there's this part of me that gets irritated when a young celebrity fails to realize his/her place of influence within their generation--they'd rather play roulette with substances and night-life and just do whatever the heck they please. It seems like this happens every couple years, ya know? I'll miss not seeing him grow old on the silver screen--and it's gonna be weird watching any of movies from here on out.
8) I need to learn more about this new tax return thing--$$$$ for you and me??
9) I also need prayers to not be angry, competitive, or condescending with my future son. I'd like to aim at being a daddy he loves, respects, and wants to be like.
10) LOST Season 4 will completely recapture the Worldwide BUZZ that it had in the early ventures of Season 1. Mark my words,'s gonna happen.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hasta La Vista, baby...

So, my friends, before you read on let me begin by saying thanks. Thanks for taking just a few moments to let your eyes glaze over these letters, words, and sentences that I have somehow shaped into thoughts and insights. I don't quite know why you choose to keep pace with my randomness (it's a like running a marathon or anything difficult), but I am so honored you take a few moments to check in on me in the digital world. I'll have you know I'm doing well, and that God has blessed my life in numerous areas, and I suppose the whole reason for this blog thing is to record my continual awe & wonder at how He's living and active in the world all around us.

So, with that being said, let's move on, my friends.

I am ready to commit to a new TV show--call it boredom @ the Writer's Strike, call it giving a bizarre over-rated movie franchise a chance, whatever...but the Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox seems kind of intriguing. Like, it looks like it's trying for the edge of the early 24 Seasons, and that's saying something. And so I got to thinking about this whole idea of The Terminator & what God is doing in my life right now.

Carly and I have been called by God to serve Him in Children's Ministry. There, I just came right out and said it, for those of you reading this who haven't heard yet. And understand that it's got nothing to do with being "done" with teens, or giving up on teens, or evening feeling like we're not effective in ministry with them anymore. No, it's more of God re-aligning us, re-positioning us where He wants us to be in this spiritual effort for the Kingdom.

Some people were praying for us today @ church, and I love some of the words/phrases that were used during their prayers to describe the situation and all our hearts at this time: "(Bartees)...are opening up their hearts & arms to even more people..." & "(youth group)...simply sharing the Bartees with others who need them right now..." Man, I'm digging all that. I'm loving the perspective, the honesty, and the sincere well-wishing right there from those prayers. It's always something to marvel at when people communicate love and appreciation and you feel it's not really as deserving or you simply don't see it coming. God must delight in blessing His children in those unique ways.

Back to Sarah & Jon Connor. (For those of you who've heard these words/analogy come from my lips in the last 24 hours, I apologize--although I do sense I can articulate even better what I wanted to say then.)

The whole concept of The Terminator movie franchise is this: in the future, there is war between machines and humans--and this pre-dates The Matrix Trilogy--and the humans are ultimately victorious because of their incredible leader, one Jon Connor. The machines are super clever, though, and devise a plan to alter time/history/the future by killing Jon Connor before he ever assumes the mantel of leadership. Thus they send a Terminator back in time to destroy Jon Connor's very existence by killing his mother (the original), then Jon as a teen (T2), and then as an up-and-coming leader (rise of the machines).

However, the humans are just as clever, if not more brilliant. They, too, send someone back in time to defend Jon Connor and protect his life from the shiny-steel assassins. And I guess that's the cool part about the whole plot. We never get to see what Jon Connor ultimately does in the future in the war with the machines, but we are drawn into this story of protection, justice, sacrifice, and hope. It's a story that parallels with my own.

You see, the Enemy is stepping up his game with every passing day. The things that were once considered to be adult, college, or even teenage struggles are now being presented to little children on a silver platter. And let me tell you, it's disturbing that some kiddos out there are gobbling it up. You know, the classic temptations we hate such as alcohol, sex, violence, the Internet, drugs, and addicting behaviors are beginning to plague our children @ church and school. And so I see Satan changing up his strategy--he's going back to the early stages of a person's life, where they can first begin to make choices, and he's trying to eliminate what is sacred. He's to destroy what is beautiful and precious...he's trying to crush hope.

And here is where I find God's call. I am convinced at my core that He desires my best efforts in ministry to meet Satan at the very spot of his attack--at the kid world. I believe God would have me defend combat the Enemy, defend His sacred, precious, and beautiful children, all the while showing them how incredibly HUGE His love for each of them is. Even though I don't understand all of what that will look like right now, I am ready for the sacrifices that God may want to ask of me.

So, I'd like to ask for your prayers. Prayers because we need them as we launch into a new ministry adventure. Prayers because it's very sad & bittersweet to really fully leave youth ministry--I mean, it's all we've ever's what we do...we absolutely have loved the relationships, experiences, and memories that the teens & their families have provided us. We feel incredibly blessed for the time we've served with students, and are excited about what the future holds for our ministry, and the Kingdom in general. And, as far as this blogging thing goes, quote the man himself,

"I'll be back."

Friday, January 11, 2008


I've been watching a lot of random TV lately...and by that I don't mean any new shows, just more strange and bizarre television events. Somewhere between the New Hampshire debates, the Roger Clemens circus, and Hannah Montana, I find myself processing something very new.

We have a hard time believing in anything or anyone anymore.

And ya know, part of it is related to some cultural & age differences between the generations. For instance, people my parents age might be more inclined to extend the benefit of the doubt more generously with athletes, politicians, and celebrities. There was a time when you could take someone at their word, and it was more than Coosh's dad saying, "My word is stronger than oak." (if you're in the dark, see Jerry McGuire on TBS just as soon as ya can)

Nowadays folks don't buy it. The words that come out of people's mouths in front of cameras, microphones, or in print often dissolve like cotton candy in the hands of a child. And as someone who is just trying to keep up with all the promises, the "he said-she said" stuff, and the sacred truth, I find myself very discouraged and filled with a growing cynicism.

Let's face it--we've become a bunch of hungry sharks who race miles across the ocean of decency and morality to FEAST when we smell blood in the water. We just seem to gravitate towards the saucy, we seem mesmerized by the violations and mistakes of others, and we are more than happy to pronunce social sentencing of a person in our hearts, minds, and sphere of influence.

Lately I am wrestling with the profound thought that how in the heck are people supposed to believe in Jesus, how can they take him at His word in a world where the audience doesn't sit with open ears and open hearts to listen as much as they stand behind the flag of skepticism and's like their thinking, "All you can hope to accomplish with me is to change my mind, and you better understand that the odds are not in your favor. I've been burned too many times but false hopes, false promises. Talk is cheap, my friend, and I'll have you know right now, I'm probably not buying."

I don't know whether Roger Clemens used steroids or not. I don't care. That's on his integrity, that's a place for he and God to be honest, not me. I don't know about politicians. Some of them, even with their best intentions/plans/speeches just come off so shaped, forced, and un-geniune. I'd like to believe Barack Obama. I'd like to believe in a change of more than words, but deeds of good and service for others (particularly the poor). Who knows what the future holds with this. And good grief--can we just let Britney recover in peace? It's nobodies place to know, care, or video her coming apart @ the seems. Let's have some decency.

I do know this...I believe in God the Father, Almighty Maker of Heaven, and the Maker of Earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord.

Jesus is not standing in front of any mics or cameras today, or at the source of such controversy that the paparazzi is hounding Him...but His words pierce my heart. His lifestyle captures my attention. His intentionality with hope for all people captivates me at my core. I will follow that. I will believe Him at His every word, no matter my cynicism or doubt.

I love you, Lord.