Sad Day in the Mahaffy Home

This morning, sadly, our daughter Natalia woke to find her hamster Gus barely clinging to life. We did our best to revive him, but in he end he didn’t make it. Natalia was a very good mother to him, and we are grieving with our little girl.

Books I Read in 2012

  1. 101 Conversation Starters for Families by Gary D Chapman and Ramon L. Presson
  2. 1984 by George Orwell
  3. A Heart for the Community: New Models for Urban and Suburban Ministry by John E. Fuder and Noel Castellanos
  4. A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth by Matthew Dickerson
  5. Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
  6. Creative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of Reflection by Stephanie Dowrick
  7. Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
  8. Everybody’s Called to Youth Ministry by Darren Sutton
  9. Fragments by Dan Wolgemuth
  10. I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum
  11. If I Knew Then What I Know Now by Len Woods and Dave Veerman
  12. Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton
  13. Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich by Mark Kriegel
  14. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
  15. Simply Christian by N.T. Wright
  16. Speaking to Teenagers by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins
  17. Stretngths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
  18. Texts That Linger, Words That Explode by Walter Brueggemann
  19. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
  20. The Church of Facebook by Jesse Rice
  21. The Complete Short Stories of Earnest Hemmingway
  22. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
  23. The Necessity of Prayer by E.M. Bounds
  24. The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America by Gabe Lyons
  25. The Pastor by Eugene Peterson
  26. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  27. The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage by Glenn T. Stanton
  28. The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Rod A. Beckstrom and Ori Brafman
  29. There is a God by Anthony Flew
  30. Two Sides by Darren Sutton
  31. When Church Kids Go Bad by Les Christie
  32. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

Enjoying Plays in NYC

During the past two weeks our family was able to go to New York City to enjoy a couple of plays. The first was the 85th Anniversary of The Rockettes Radio City Music Christmas Spectacular, and the second was Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical. Very fun!

Music Video to Get You Thinking About My Message Sunday

This Sunday I will be preaching at Shelter Rock Church (Syosset campus). If you’re local, join us at 178 Cold Spring Rd., Syosset, NY 11091. If you aren’t local, you can watch live at 9:30 or 11am EST online (Click the Syosset tab above video feed):

Keeping Youth Ministry Simple

“Most youth workers are able to spend, at most, maybe eight hours a week with their most committed students, tops (unless it happens to be a mission trip week or a retreat weekend). Figure two or three hours on Sunday (unless you’re a parachurch youth worker), a couple more at some kind of midweek meeting or Bible study, and maybe another small slice of time at a church or school event.

“Each week has only 168 hours, which means we have access to our most committed Christian teenagers for, at most, 5% of their time during the few years they’re with us.

“Annually, we have access to our devoted church kids for, oh, let’s say 40-45 Sundays. And maybe they attend a similar number of youth meetings. That gives us a maximum of 80 to 90 shots at an extremely devout student’s heart and mind each year. Eighty-five chances to speak into his life. Eighty-five opportunities to teach him about God.

“Now, let’s say we have a highly involved kid for six years (seventh through twelfth grades). Add retreats and camps to the equation: then subtract absences due to illness, schedule conflicts, and family vacations. What you’re left with is – at most – about 500 ‘official’ chances to teach and train. And that’s for the most committed students whose families don’t relocate.

“That may sound like a lot of opportunities. But remember, we live in a big, ever-changing, messy, scary world filled with a myriad of mysteries, concerns, and questions. Time flies in the Information Age. New issues arise out of the blue. We can easily become reactive, following every new trend that emerges and becoming haphazard in what we teach.

“If I knew then what I know now, I’d have made the proactive, conscious decision to stick to a few basics. I’d have sat down in the first days of my tenure and come up with an irreducible minimum.

“What basic biblical truths do I want students to understand upon leaving the group? What essential spiritual disciplines do I want my youth to practice? What character qualities would I like to see growing in them?

“I’d sit down with my advisory team and my volunteer workers and list those things – the fundamental beliefs, nonnegotiable behaviors, and essential virtues. And that’s where I’d camp. I’d hammer them over and over. I’d come at them from every possible angle. Again and again. Reminding, Restating. Rephrasing. Teaching and reteaching. I’d embrace a simplified curriculum of the basics.

“Once I had my list of essentials, I’d get out the calendar and start scheduling exactly how and when we ‘d go about creatively emphasizing each of them. A planned series here. A scheduled message there. I’d avoid the common ‘hot topic du jour‘ approach, and I’d be more intentional, more systematic, more disciplined, more focused. I’d opt for the important over the weird, the essentials over the tangents. I’d ‘preach (and teach) the Word’ (2 Timothy 4:2).”

(Excerpt from Woods, Len & Veerman, Dave If I Knew Then What I Know Now, pp. 82-82)

Hangin’ With Friend & Youth Ministry Volunteer at Madison Square Garden

Today my friend Dominic and I went to the Gotham Classic between #3 Syracuse and unranked Temple at Madison Square Garden. Before the game we had fun watching warmups down close to the floor. At one point a huge kid stood next to me and I discovered he played for Syracuse. When Dominic saw him he greeted him enthusiastically. Turns out he went to high school in Syosset with Dom’s son. Temple won thanks to Syracuse not hitting their free throws.