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Thought for Today

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Read this during my quiet time this morning from Zephaniah 3:17 (not a place I typically read from). The italicized text in the verse is mine.

The LORD your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will bring [you] quietness with His love.
He will delight in you with shouts of joy.

The footnote reads: LXX, Syr read He will renew you

I hope and pray that God brings you quietness and renewal today as you experience His love.


Mystery Road Trip

Monday, July 30, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Ben and I worked today on some of the details for our upcoming Mystery Road Trip. I can't give away much since then it wouldn't be a mystery. We're not even telling our drivers where they're going....they'll just get handed an envelope at each stop. Should be fun. I'll post the details once it's been de-mystified.


Skinny Mike

Saturday, July 28, 2007 by Mike Lovato

I just put on a belt that I bought a few months ago because I was too fat for my other one. And....I have it on the last hole and it's totally comfortable. I've dropped some of my waistline recently which also means my pants are sagging like crazy. I have a whole section of my closet that has clothes I've never worn that are just waiting for me to lose a few pounds......I might be getting close.



by Mike Lovato

Ok, so I totally haven't mentioned this story from last week yet. When we were at Camp Pendleton with our youth choir, we finished up the performance and headed out to get some pizza. I was the first car out and headed out to go past a little guard shack to exit the firing range we were in. I pull up and the guard makes this fist gesture to stop. The exchange went something like this:

Guard: We have a 15 mile per hour speed limit on the range.
Me: Oh?
Guard: You were speeding. You need to head back to "something something something HQ"
Me: (blank stare)
Guard: Do you know where that is?
Me: No
Guard: It's the building over there with the flagpole, "something something something walk up"

So I head back thinking I need to some sort of punitive drive back up to the guard shack. I drive back to the parking lot, warn one of our other drivers to watch the speed limit, and head back to the guard shack (going 15 mph).

Guard: You have to go IN the building.
Me: Really?
Guard: Yes, you have to sign something
Me: Oh, ok, can I turn around this way?
Guard: Yes.
Me (after pulling away): I REALLY hope someone else gets stopped.

So I go back and park (really far away because all the other spots were marked and I didn't want to get in trouble for that too). I had to go in and sign this little log book with hand-written columns, writing "civilian" under all the ones that didn't apply to me, gave them all my contact info, and wrote "speeding" for my infraction. Oh, and the guy in there gave me this explanation: "There are a lot of recruits on base and they tend to jump out into the road." Really? These people are training to be US Marines and they randomly jump in front of cars? Ok.

Best Part: 3 other cars also got stopped for speeding. This included our youth choir director, my secretary, and our senior pastor's wife. I felt much better after that.

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Friday, July 27, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Good News: Nicole and I were doing some shopping a couple hours ago when she made a strange squeal/yell. I thought we were about to get hit by a car and prepared to take evasive action. But, no, no car. Way better, she saw a Chick-Fil-A under construction in Riverside!!!! I'm stoked and I'm ready to camp out and get my year of free meals.

Bad News: It almost couldn't be any farther from my house. It's on the far east end of town and if you cross the street you're in another city.


Lunch Today

Thursday, July 26, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Had lunch today with Daryl Watts and Paul Turner ended up joining us. Daryl is the student ministry specialist with my denomination's state convention and Paul is a key student ministry guy at Lifeway. We had a good time (except for the fact that my voice is crapping out today and I sound like either a really manly man or a kid going through puberty.) Daryl and I were talking some initial date stuff for next year's PK Retreat. I took the leadership this year of a retreat for pastor's kids in our state. It's a pretty cool event and has special meaning for me because I attended this retreat as a teenager and really renewed a commitment to Christ there. We had a small group of students there this year, but are hoping to grow it next year.

Other thoughts/observations:
  • Daryl has ADD
  • Are there any models of churches out there doing both Sunday School AND small groups in homes....that are functioning as the same deal, not a different program?
  • Simple Church by Rainer.....good book, how do we apply it? Paul thinks giving models to apply wouldn't help because people then just copy the model (I think I agree).
  • Lifeway has a new curriculum for students coming out next year called "Known" partially based on some research that we participated in last year. I'm interested to take a look. My BIG thing I'm always looking for in curriculum is "does it get students TALKING?"
  • Paul totally lives in the South and is deeply involved in Southern Baptist work, but has a real fresh take on things. Sometimes I get frustrated with my denomination, but he gives me hope.
  • I asked Paul which churches in the SBC are doing a killer job of Sunday morning Bible Study right now. Both churches he named don't have a youth pastor right now. That's definitely doing a killer job - when your ministry thrives PAST your leadership, something's working.


Drive Almost Full

by Mike Lovato

What the heck? My hard drive has 193 MB free on it right now. It's an 80 gig hard drive. What the heck do I have on there that's filing it up?


Getting Better

by Mike Lovato

Ok, I'm feeling somewhat better today. I'm drugged up on Sudafed and made it into the office. I really wanted to be able to come in today because I have a lunch meeting with Daryl that I don't want to miss.



Wednesday, July 25, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Well I mentioned I was getting sick the other day and now it's totally hit. I leave for London in just over a week so I hit up Urgent Care yesterday when my throat starting hurting pretty bad. I think the doctor thought I was some kind of idiot. Yes, I'm so sorry that I sought medical treatment for something medical that was bothering me.

Anyways, she said it doesn't look like strep but took a throat culture to check. However, it takes almost two days for that to run. That's crazy to me.

So then this morning I woke up at 3:30 and then at 5:30 with what was probably the worst sore throat I've ever felt in my life. Gargled some water and tried to sleep. A few hours later, throat still hurt and I was feeling nauseous and a little short of breath. Oh, and a headache. I called in to the office and told them I wouldn't be in. Our receptionist told me she'd had a sore throat and it turned out to be bronchitis. That could be fun.

So now I'm chilling in my bedroom watching what appears to be a Jim Carrey movie marathon on USA. I'm feeling somewhat better and Nicole's taking good care of me. That's a good thing because I'm usually a very moody and not fun patient (just ask my mom, she reads this blog).


Day Off

Monday, July 23, 2007 by Mike Lovato

I decided to take a much-needed day off today. The past month has been crazy busy and it's been weeks since I've had a full day off to just relax (which by the way we're commanded to do by God - I hate it when I move past that). So my day today consisted of the following:

Slept in a little
Played around on Google Earth (I'm a nerd)
Watched an episode of West Wing
Exchanged our money into pounds for our London trip
Watched two episodes of Alias
Ate an actual meal at home

It was pretty sweet. Bummer is, I'm getting a bit of a sore throat. I've already hit the AirBorne so hopefully that lessens it. I always seem to either get sick when I slow down or get sick so that I slow down. Oh well.


Camp Pendleton

Sunday, July 22, 2007 by Mike Lovato

We spent last night with our youth choir who was performing down at Camp Pendleton for 500-something recruits. It was a pretty cool experience. They'd gone down there at the end of June and had an amazing experience, but I didn't go with them. Last night, it was a pretty tame crowd for the first few songs and then something hit right in the middle. People started standing up and clapping, raising their hands, putting their arms around each other and coming down to the front. Pretty cool. We caught a bunch of it for a video that we'll hopefully be showing in church next week.

After all that, Mike Pierpoint (evangelism pastor), got up and shared a message. He presented the gospel clearly and directly. He led a prayer for anyone interested in beginning a relationship with Christ. Following the prayer, 97 guys stood up saying they had just prayed that for the first time. It was pretty incredible to see. He'd asked me to count and there were so many that I gave up. We only have a number because of a volunteer who took a count.

It was a great experience and I think it's really cool too to think of the dispersion that will happen with these guys as they literally head out all over the world. The hard part is that many will be heading to war quickly and some of those in the room will give their lives. I'm just glad we could make an impact.



Thursday, July 19, 2007 by Mike Lovato

I like seeing this graphic on the website builder we use.


VBS Update

by Mike Lovato

Well, the 6th graders don't seem quite as crazy as they did on Monday. We're clicking pretty well with them now. A few of them have brought friends and our class has grown from 10 kids the first night to 15 kids last night. Plus there's another 13 or 14 sixth graders in the class next door, AKA the most prepared class ever. They have prizes like crazy over there. They've got every resource you can order. They have a stocked snack bar with items for sale. AND, they have one lead teacher, three high schoolers helping, and like 4 other adults helping. They're rocking it next door. And then if they come take a peek at our class, they'll see kids running around screaming and being crazy. Oh well, they're having a blast at church and hearing about Jesus. That's what matters.



Tuesday, July 17, 2007 by Mike Lovato

I'm helping out with our church's Vacation Bible School this week. I'm teaching a 6th grade class with two of our recent high school grads. Oh my gosh, can I just say I'm glad I work with teenagers. 6th Graders are crazy. Our week is sports-themed and so we have all this sports equipment decorating the room. This means that we had kids chasing each other with a bat and tennis racket. We're giving out points to different teams in our class so at one point one of the leaders goes, "5,000 points to the team that stays the quietest!" Totally worked. Anyways, I'll endure this week, but I can't wait to get back to youth ministry world next week. Those of you who children's ministry (which I seriously doubt any readers of this blog do)....more power to you.


Blogs I Dig

Monday, July 16, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Just added a couple blogs to the Blogs O' Sweetness list on my blog.

Rob Cunningham - Rob is a youth pastor up in the Sacramento area. I'd seen his blog a couple times and then met him last week at the Student Leadership Conference. Nice guy and yes, ladies, he's single.

Taffy - I met Taffy when I interned at Saddleback. Every time I see him he gives me a huge Filipino hug. He's the student ministries worship guy at Saddleback. He's married to Sue, my favorite Swiss person, and has a new daughter, Lea. I'm stoked that he's started blogging.


Customer Service

by Mike Lovato

We had some issues with the hotel we stayed at last week for the student leadership conference. The front desk was a bit rude to our students as well as to my wife and myself. So, I gave them a little bit of an earful on their e-mail survey. BUT, they redeemed themselves somewhat when I got this letter from the General Manager of the hotel within 10 minutes of filling out the survey.

Dear Mr. Lovato:

Thank you so much for sharing your valuable feedback about your experience last week. It is through the input of our guests we are able to achieve the excellence in service that is the goal of every associate.

I am disappointed to learn we fell short of your expectations in regards to our Staff friendliness, their “Can do Attitude” as well as the operation of our key system. Rest assured, your comments will be shared with the appropriate management & team members so we may address these concerns and take corrective action in the future

Please allow me to be your personal contact on any future stays. Please do not hesitate to call me if you would like to discuss this challenge further.

Again, thank you for your stay & your comments. We look forward to welcoming you back to _________________________ when time and travel allows you to return.

It stinks when an organization messes up. But, it's a big deal when they own it and seek to make it better in the future. It stinks when our churches make a bad first impression on people. But, it's a big deal when we learn from it and make it better in the future.


3 Weeks

Saturday, July 14, 2007 by Mike Lovato

I'm stoked because I get three weeks at home! In the last few weeks, the most nights I've spent at home in a row is 4. I'm ready to have somewhat of a routine. In 3 weeks, we're heading off to a mission trip in London. My wife started a new blog for our trip that you can check out. We'll be updating it both as we prep and as we're in London.

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SLC Final Session - Live Blog

Friday, July 13, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Ok, I'm finally caught up on posting about all the other sessions....for this one I'll be blogging live. I'm sitting in the back of the tent here at the conference. I've never blogged quite like this so we'll see how it goes.

Taco Bell Olympics game - they did this the other day and I almost broke my leg slipping on a taquito. Now they're doing it again - the Crunch Wrap discus throw....I think Nicole just got hit by some debris up there....she just walked by doing something with her hair.

Worship time with Jadon now.

Taffy's about to come up and share....I'm pretty stoked. (Side note: Allison is sitting next to me about to blog about smelling like a dude.)

Thoughts from Taffy
Mike's definition of worship: my response to who God is and what He does (I know that's kinda seminary sounding-ish, but....I did go to seminary)
Talking about worship with Florida State Seminoles......huge celebration for 13 weeks each fall....doesn't stop there.....talk about it at home.....work....all through the week. Why isn't it like that in our Christian culture in regards to God's presence?
It suddenly becomes all about me.
Revelation 4 - "Holy, holy, holy"...huge emphasis, only reserved for God.
What's on the throne in your life instead of God?
Definition of worship: Romans 12:1-2
Will/intellect & feelings as a train - can't feed our faith with our feelings
"Your spiritual life is not a hobby"
When we honor God, we're saying "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, who is, and is to come."


SLC Celebration Night - Zach Hunter

by Mike Lovato

Zach is a 15-year old high school student who decided he wanted to do something about modern slavery when he was just 12 years old. He started an organization called Loose Change to Loosen Chains that raises money to abolish slavery. He's truly a modern day abolitionist. He seemed like a super cool guy, very articulate. He had a great understanding of God's heart for justice and is actually doing something about it. My gut is that he was probably one of, if not the, biggest hits of the conference for our students.

My favorite thing he talked about was our circle of compassion. Our typical circle of compassion is very small - consists of myself, my family, things I like. God's circle of compassion, in comparison, includes all people everywhere. Our goal should be to increase our circle of compassion. I thought of it in terms of just making a small increase in our circle of compassion. Sometimes we want to go out and change the world all at once....in reality we need to find one cause we can be passionate about and increase our circle in that way.


SLC Session 5 - Erik Rees

by Mike Lovato

Erik came and spoke about the purpose of ministry. His talk last year was one of my favorites of the conference. This year was good, sort of a strong reminder. His overarching main point was: "Only you can be you." God designed each of us in a specific, unique way. He knew what He was doing and didn't make a mistake on you. It's so easy in ministry to try and be someone else - to try and speak like them, to try and operate off their management style, or to try and copy their ministry. God wants you to be you and no one else. It's good for me to be reminded of this and good for our students to be encouraged that God wants to use THEM, not a copy of someone else.


SLC Session 4 - Matt McGill

by Mike Lovato

Matt spoke on the purpose of discipleship. Doug came up afterwards and pointed out how sometimes Matt speaks and you either go, "I don't get it" or "I disagree." I didn't disagree really with anything that Matt said, but I didn't grab on either. I guess the way to describe it for me is that Matt had some little nuggets for me to chew on. I'd kinda just be listening along and then go "hmm, that's interesting." Way lame description I know, but I also don't have any notes with me. My wife, on the other hand, completely clicked in with what Matt was saying and got a ton out of it.

With that said, I think Matt is a super deep thinker and communicator and I enjoy listening to him. I think I just need to look back at my stuff and chew on it some.


SLC General Session 3 - Doug Fields

Thursday, July 12, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Fields spent this session talking about the purpose of Fellowship. I was glad it wasn't full-on message form because we'd just sat through another general session not too long before that. They showed a video featuring five different women/girls and the "pass it on" value of mentoring through small groups.

Then, Fields did a somewhat interactive time of talking through fellowship. He gave three points:

Know (each other's hurts, struggles, victories, etc.)

Show (correct when needed)

Grow (in faith together)

A key word he then mentioned was "intentional." I continually realize that meaningful relationships among students and between students & adult leaders don't just happen. We have to be intentional about creating space and environments for students to connect in. We have to be intentional about helping adult leaders cultivate relationships. It's tough work to develop this kind of genuine connection.

Our high school ministry is pretty weak in this right now, but we've made some steps lately to further enhance this. I think this will be a year where we make some big strides towards every student being known, loved, and cared for.


SLC General Session 2 - Jeff Maguire

by Mike Lovato

Jeff is the Student Ministries Pastor at Mariners Church. He did a great job talking through the biblical purpose of evangelism. Here are some notes:

Matthew 5:13-16 --> "let your good deeds shine before men"

Good: anything that reflects the image and glory of God
Deeds: anything connected to what we do or how we live
Good Deeds: anything connected to what we do or how we live that reflects the image and glory of God

(Genesis 1:27, 31)

Options for interacting with the world

  • Condemn the world

  • Copy the world

  • Create good

I thought Jeff's talk was great. His emphasis for evangelism was on showing people what God is like. Two quick thoughts:

1. This has always been important (even when we haven't emphasized it)

2. This is and will become more and more important in our culture


Fields' Notes from First Night of SLC

Wednesday, July 11, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Here is a recap of Fields' talk from last night on leaders needing to be continually refilled (Ephesians 3:19b)

Why Refuel?
  • Leaders can't lead effectively when they're spiritually empty
  • I have a soul that wants to be filled
  • We're spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience
Daily, Leaders Need to...
  • Stop
  • Be Quiet
  • Make a connection (When? Where? What?)

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Student Leadership Conference

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 by Mike Lovato

We're off with some of our student leaders at Saddleback's Student Leadership Conference. The weird part of this trip is we have all girls with us. That's cool because Nicole and I get our own room, but it's a bummer because right now we don't have a lot of guys in our ministry who are stepping up and leading.

The first session tonight was Doug Fields. I realized tonight that Doug is quite possibly my favorite speaker out there. I always get a ton out of his messages. He talked tonight about the importance of "Being." Actually the theme for the conference is "Be..." Leaders tend to be so focused on doing stuff that we forget to just be with Jesus. I need this reminder often. Looking forward to some time of being with God, being with our student leaders, and being with some old friends.


Last Day of Camp

Thursday, July 05, 2007 by Mike Lovato

The highlight of today was getting to partner with Horizon Urban Ministries and help serve their weekly homeless outreach dinner. Our students absolutely loved it. Here are some of the highlights:

  • One of our students decided to pull of a drama last minute because she felt like God wanted her to share it.
  • This meant I got to briefly share following the drama.
  • Two girls prayed with a homeless guy who, among other things, needed a job. Within a few minutes he had a phone call saying he had his old job back. It was pretty freaky/incredible.
  • Another student had a conversation with a guy that just became frustrating. It provided a good teachable moment. He has a lot of anger inside and it's just flowing out.
I'd highly recommend partnering with Horizon for your next mission trip!


Camp Day 4

Wednesday, July 04, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Not a ton to report on today. The holiday made it a pretty different schedule so we got some extra time to sleep in. That was sweet. Another feature today were some seminars by the different staff. I went to one on going through hard times and the leader did a great job of walking through some things he's been learning through the hard times he's currently in.

Then this afternoon we took our student leaders over to my friend Josh's church to check out their high school and jr. high rooms. Construction on our remodel starts in less than a month and I wanted to get some feedback from them on specific design features we may implement.

The highlight tonight was open mic night. Two of our girls did a little repeat of the Berries n' Cream commercial and then Jake played a little acoustic Dare You to Move. Fun times.


I Don't Know

by Mike Lovato

I'm learning to become more comfortable with "I don't know." Let me back up a little. I'm the type of person who's always been very driven and goal-oriented. I know what I want to accomplish pretty quickly and I head for it. So, when there's circumstances in life or in my head that don't make sense, I want to quickly sort them through and figure them out. But I've been learning (over probably the past year or so) what it means to be comfortable not being able to completely figure things out.

I think part of it may be my church background. As evangelicals we tend to emphasize nailing down exactly where we stand on different issues - whether it be theology or lifestyle practices. We don't exactly encourage mystery and that sort of thing (I guess we think we have the mysterious God all figured out).

But, I'm learning that it's ok to say "I don't know." I don't always understand my emotions. I don't always understand my motives. I don't always understand what I say and do. And rather than working it all out in my head (which believe me, I try to do), I'm learning to say "I don't know" and trust that God knows.

This may not make complete sense to you, but it's something in progress with me.


Camp Day 3

Tuesday, July 03, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Here's Day 3 at a glance for me:

slightly sun-burned
went on a sea kayak
girl went home
enjoying times of worship
students enjoying the camp


Camp Day 2

Monday, July 02, 2007 by Mike Lovato

Had a great first full day of camp today. Some sweet rec time and the four of us guys who are spent the afternoon at the beach. I forgot to mention that we're totally girl-heavy on this trip. It's kinda weird.

The speaker, PJ Lewis, did a great job tonight of talking from Daniel 2 and sharing how we sometimes have trouble trusting God because we don't believe in at least one of these three things - God's power, God's knowledge, and God's love. I can definitely see that there are seasons in my life where I struggle with one or more and those are the times I struggle with trusting God.

Ok, I'm ready to crash soon.



Sunday, July 01, 2007 by Mike Lovato

We're off at summer camp. It's been a busy couple weeks with finishing Going Public and trying to both rest and get ready for camp at the same time. I'll try and post at least a little more this week about what's going on with us here. We're doing Hume's San Diego camp at Pt. Loma.

  • My dorm room has an ocean view. I will be going to sleep in a few minutes to the sound of waves.
  • We have a pretty cool group of students who are going to be a blast to be around.
  • Speaker's great.
  • Program has been great so far. The camp is Viking themed - they opened with this huge production that included a dragon-type ship coming down the aisle of the chapel.
  • I get to go sea-kayaking on Tuesday.

  • The dorm building feels like it was last updated in 1964.
  • Sign-ups for camp were a little disappointing for us. We're taking a bit of a financial hit.
  • One girl doesn't want to be here.



Mike Lovato is a follower of Jesus, husband to Nicole, daddy to Addison, and pastor to teenagers in Riverside, CA.


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