Category Archives: Observations

Top 25 90’s Songs – Hip Hop

Last week, I debuted my “Top 25 90’s Songs – Rock” list and it stirred up a little discussion about some things that were left off. This week is my Hip Hop edition and this was probably the hardest of the Top 25’s lists that I’ve made (R&B coming soon!).

These songs are snapshots of what was going on in hip hop during the 90’s (commonly known as the “Golden Age”). In order to get a good representation, I decided to only take one song from each person/group. There are a couple cross-overs, but that is because it’s part of a duet or a guest-spot on someone else’s song.

Again, these songs are in no particular order, just as I thought of them. If you think I left one off that should be on there, let me know in the comments.

1. “Tha Crossroads” – Bone Thugs
2. “Nuthin But a ‘G’ Thang” – Dr. Dre f. Snoop Dogg
3. “California Love” – 2pac f. Dr. Dre
4. “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” – Diddy f. Mase
5. “Regulate” – Warren G f. Nate Dogg
6. “Triumph” – Wu-Tang Clan
7. “Can I Get A…” – Jay Z f. JaRule
8. “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” – Busta Rhymes
9. “Sabotage” – Beastie Boys
10. “If I Ruled the World” – Nas f. Lauryn Hill
11. “All I Need” – Method Man f. Mary J. Blige
12. “Rosa Parks” – Outkast
13. “Bow Down” – Westside Connection
14. “Gangstas Paradise” – Coolio
15. “Get At Me Dog” – DMX
16. “My Name Is” – Eminem
17. “Ready Or Not” – Fugees
18. “Jump Around” – House of Pain
19. “What They Do” – The Roots
20. “What’s My Name” – Snoop Dogg
21. “Hip Hop Hooray” – Naughty By Nature
22. “Ghetto Superstar” – Pras f. Mya and ODB
23. “Richter Scale” – EPMD
24. “I Wish” – Skee-Lo
25. “Hypnotize” – Notorious B.I.G.

***I purposely left off Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” because while it’s cultural impact and overall greatness cannot be ignored, I never really listened to Public Enemy.

Alright, what songs are on YOUR  list?

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Top 25 90’s Songs – Rock

Having grown up in the 90’s, I have a natural bias toward the music/movies/pop culture that came from that era. I will tell you it’s better and then offer no defense because I feel that none is needed. Having said that, I have compiled 25 rock songs that sum up the decade for me. Some have sentimental value, some I heard on the radio a thousand times, and some are tied to a specific place and/or time.

That’s what music does. Whether we like it or not, it becomes the soundtrack to our lives. Whether it’s playing in the background or in our headphones, it’s the songs that carry on. So here are my Top 25 90’s Rock Songs (Hip Hop, and also R&B to follow). No links, no commentary, just titles and artists. And if you’re from the 90’s, you won’t need any of that stuff anyway.

1. “The Way” – Fastball
2. “Semi-Charmed Life” – Third Eye Blind
3. “Rock the Party (Off the Hook)” – P.O.D.
4. “Ironic” – Alanis Morissette
5. “No Rain” – Blind Melon
6. “Virtual Insanity” – Jamiroquai
7. “Basket Case” – Green Day
8. “Follow You Down” – Gin Blossoms
9. “Higher” – Creed
10. “Jeremy” – Pearl Jam
11. “Wonderwall” – Oasis
12. “Where It’s At” – Beck
13. “Iris” – Goo Goo Dolls
14. “Only Wanna Be With You” – Hootie and the Blowfish
15. “Who Will Save Your Soul” – Jewel
16. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
17. “Spiderwebs” – No Doubt
18. “Machinehead” – Bush
19. “Kiss From a Rose” – Seal
20. “Interstate Lovesong” – Stone Temple Pilots
21. “Buddy Holly” – Weezer
22. “Down” – 311
23. “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” – Smashing Pumpkins
24. “Amish Paradise” – Weird Al Yankovic
25. “Under the Bridge” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

What’s on your list?

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The CATALYST Guide to Fashion

This is the last CATALYST post from me, I promise. I acknowledge that the conference was almost 4 weeks ago, but I’ve been sitting on this for awhile and knew that it was now or never.

This was my first time going to CATALYST and my first time in 3 years that I had gone to a Christian conference. I was excited about everything, except for the fact that I didn’t know what to wear. I’m pretty much a t-shirt and jeans kind of person, and even though I know Jesus wants me to come “Just As I Am”,  I wasn’t sure if that was acceptable attire at a Christian leadership conference.

Well, I took some fashion notes on what I saw (trends, looks, styles) and thought I would save you some grief if you were to ever find yourself at CATALYST (or a Christian conference like it). So for all of you who might be thinking about going next year, here is my CATALYST Guide to Fashion.

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– Hats – Be on the lookout for the guy wearing the stocking hat pulled up halfway on his head. There’s also the flat-bill with the gold sticker on it (you know, like the cool jr. highers wear). If it’s not either of those, it’s one of those half-bill hats that I’m pretty sure are called “military”, but c’mon, it’s pretty much a green baseball hat with half a bill.

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– HAIR (cranial) – Faux (for the uneducated, it’s pronounced “foe”) hawks are ALWAYS good. Regardless of age, personal style, or what color your sweater-vest is. It’s either the faux, or the ‘bie’ (pronounced ‘bee’), as in Justin Bieber. It’s longer hair that looks like you don’t care about it, but it has really taken you an hour to get it juuuuuuust right. Watch out for the neck-jerk that happens about every 11 seconds to keep the hair out of the eyes.



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– HAIR (facial)In years’ past, I’m sure the goatee was the prominent face-grooming template. But if you want to keep up with the current Catalyst trend, just don’t shave at all. Grow out your facial hair until Grizzly Adams calls you about copyright infringement. And due to the current rise of actors like Zach Galifianakis, anybody that CAN grow a beard, DOES grow a beard. But for the sake of the nation and the guy sitting next to you fending off the birds living in there, try to keep it under control. Signed, that guy.


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SHIRT – There are different variations in this category. If you’re going for a t-shirt, it’s gotta be either a free one that you got at the conference about 11 minutes ago, or a v-neck. No exceptions. If it’s a dress shirt, it’s gotta be long-sleeved and have a GIANT cross on the back or a MEDium decal diagonally across the chest and some pseudo-spiritual word somewhere on it. If it’s a sweatshirt, zip it up and pull the hood halfway up on your head, but not too far, so we can still see the stocking hat pulled up halfway on your head.

*DISCLAIMER – I like Perry Noble (the guy on the left). I just couldn’t find another picture of a guy with the kind of shirt I was talking about.

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SHOESThis one is simple. It’s either: TOMS so you can let me know you care more about poor people than me without actually saying anything; or Converse All-Stars, so you can tell me that you care less about fashion than me even though your shoes match your hoodie which matches your hat, which matches your sunglasses that are hanging from your v-neck.

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ACCESSORIESYou’ve got a laptop, your Catalyst notebook, and a whole lot of free cra-, stuff and you can’t be expected to just carry it around with your hands. What do you do? You throw it in your over-the-shoulder bag. Don’t have one? No problem, just use your Swiss Backpack this is big enough to smuggle out one of the guest speakers in it. Oh, you’d like to let me know that you’re creative? Be sure to carry around your Moleskin notebook and pretend to write in it as much as possible.

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Luckily, I had a few of these things with me, so I wasn’t a complete disaster down there. If you don’t have these things, you might want to get on it so you can be set for next year. And if you’re still not sure what shirt to wear or how to comb your hair, all you need to do is follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming  a Catalyst Fashion Champion of Destiny!

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Dear…

I’ve been compiling a list of open letters to certain common nouns that I feel once they are written, sent, read, and put into IMMEDIATE action, everyone’s lives (especially mine) will be a little more bearable.

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…Giant Face-Tattoo Guy – Please don’t act offended when I stare at your giant tattoo on your face; you have a giant tattoo on your FACE!

Radio Shack – Just because you sort of changed your name to the seemingly much hipper and cooler “The Shack”, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re still America’s #1 supplier of 3rd rate electronics.

…Lady At Wendy’s Who Shakes Her Salad for Adequate Dressing Coverage – I think 53 seconds of solid shaking should just about do it.

…Guy Picking His Nose in His Car – I can see you, please stop.

…Starbucks – McDonalds, Applebees, and Payless (will soon) have free wifi and yet I have to pay for it at your place. Stop acting like you invented both the double mocha latte AND wireless internet.

…Jason Derulo – You really don’t have to say your name at the beginning of all your songs. I can tell its your song because of the over-processed vocals, trite lyrics, and overall lack of creativity.

…Rest of the American Idol Judges – Hate to say it, but nobody cares what you think or say. Simon is the show and when he leaves, there will be no show. Start proofing your resumes.

Creflo Dollar – I’m really not trying to judge you or anything, I’m just saying that it’s kind of hard to take you seriously as a pastor when your last name is “Dollar.”

…Guy Who Follows Me In A 15 Passenger Van So Closely That I Can’t Even See Your Bumper – You just bought yourself another 5 miles per hour under the speed limit.

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I Already Know A Lot About You

One of my favorite bloggers is a guy named Tyler Stanton. His videos are hilarious, and his blog posts are everything that I wish mine were. He also recently wrote/published his own book that I’m not sure why I don’t own yet.

He also has this series of blog posts called “I Already Know Alot About You” and each one of his entries I say, “Oh man, that’s so true!” Anyway, his posts have inspired my own observations, but I wanted to point you in the direction of my inspiration. Check out his site, subscribe to it, and frequent it often. And in the meantime, see if any of these people sound familiar.

MOVIES

…if you’ve ever said, “It’s not as good as the book.”

…if you’ve ever dressed up in character to go to a movie premiere at your local movie theater

…if you have dvd’s on your shelf with the plastic still on them

…if you call movies “films”

…if you’ve ever told me about a movie and finished your sentence with, “You’ve probably never heard of it.”

…if you’ve managed to work, “Why so serious?” into actual conversation within the last week

…if you’ve ever had a framed “The Riddler” picture from Batman Forever on your wall

…if you’ve ever watched an entire movie with the director’s commentary on

…if you have imdb.com as your homepage

…if you own a movie that you’ve never watched

…if you’ve ever bought and worn an Independence Day shirt

…if you’ve ever sneaked in a #7 from McDonalds into the movie theater

…if you own any movie that Shaquille O’Neal is in

…if your surround sound system is worth more than your house

Did I miss any? Got any to add? Can you guess which ones/how many of these are true or have been true about me? And again, don’t forget to check out Tyler’s page.

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Things Youth Leaders Need to be Okay With

If you’re thinking about working in Student Ministries, there are a couple of things that you need to be okay with. If you’re already hanging with students, this list might look a little familiar. And as a youth leader, if you’re not okay with these things (and others), you might want to try an internship at Dunder Mifflin or Initech (Bonus points for tv/movie references) . Let’s check out this less than comprehensive list.

– Awkard conversations with students where you say everything and they say nothing

– Having  a year of awkward conversations and then having that student open up because you didn’t give up on them

– Waiting forever for students to get picked up after an event

– Getting to chat with students about how their life is going while they wait to get picked up after an event

– Watching students make bad choices

– Watching students make wise choices

– Barely anybody showing up for an event that took months to plan

– Having TONS of students show up for an event where you’re not sure if you’ll get more than 5

– Eating pizza at every event and eating all the leftover pizza from that event that took months to plan that hardly anybody showed up for

– Never leaving your work at work

– Seeing students not using their God-given gifts

– Seeing students using their God-given gifts

– Seeing students and families light up with gratitude when you show up to their event/game/program

– Watching adult leaders develop hearts for students

– Meeting students’ friends that they’ve been praying for and finally had enough courage to invite/bring them to church

– Going to THE fair (this is a Wayne County one)

– Having a front row seat for what God is doing in the hearts of students

Just like anything, youth leaders have their ups and downs. But the ups FAR outweigh the inevitable downs. And the last one I listed makes it all worth it. Any youth leaders have any to add? Feel free to drop them in the comments. One rule: if you post a “down”, you have to also post an “up.”

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What’d You Just Call Me?

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the “Sticks and stones…” rebuttal to the name-calling that was so pervasive on the playground while we were growing up. The funny thing is, the more I said that little poem-ette, the less I believed it. And as a 4th grader, I had trouble refuting what they were saying because I hadn’t really found my identity in anything more than how well I could play Tecmo Super Bowl on Nintendo (let alone in Jesus).

I think I began to believe it less and less because if they were calling me that over and over again, maybe it was true. Maybe I was a (fill in the blank). Their name(s) for me started to affect how I saw myself and what I thought of myself.

It happens in ministry too. So many times we call people certain names or give them titles that really, aren’t that encouraging. They’re innocent enough and to a certain extent might describe that person exactly. But these names lack vision, direction, and might convey something totally opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish as a ministry.

Here are two ways that we at Wooster Grace Student Ministries have changed how we refer to people in our ministry.

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What we used to say: Volunteer

What it implies/conveys: It implies a lack of ownership, vision and even a separation between the leadership team and the people brought on to see that vision come to life. There’s a sense of “come and go as you please” with little to no accountability. There’s not a lot of connection or commitment because the “volunteer” says that if he/she doesn’t do it, then someone else probably will.

What we say now: Adult Leader

What it implies/conveys: This conveys an idea of partnership between the leadership team (paid and unpaid) and gives a vision for what is expected. We are looking for people to do more than just “show up”, we are looking for leaders, adult leaders. Regardless of position or rotation or level of involvement, an Adult Leader acknowledges the opportunities to speak into the lives of students and make a lasting impact for Jesus.

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What we used to say: Kid

What it implies/conveys: When you’re referring to a 3rd grader, okay, it applies. When you’re referring to an 11th grader, not so much. Once “kids” get into 7th and 8th grade, they are looking to be challenged and treated more and more like adults. And once they get into those grades, the word “kid” becomes more like an insult than an accurate descriptor and carries an ever-increasingly negative connotation as the “kids” get older.

What we say now: Student

What it implies/conveys: It tells them exactly what we should be telling them as they get into 7th and 8th grade, that they’re not a kid anymore. They need to see that we acknowledge that they are growing up and with that they are asking questions about themselves, about faith, and the things they’ve been told all their lives. By using the word “student”, it separates them from jr. church and their little siblings and gives them a chance to grow as “students” of the Word.

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Now, I’m not going to say using words like “volunteer” and “kid” is an altogether bad thing. But we have chosen to go a different route with our verbiage; one that we think conveys a little more identity and vision and hopefully pushes each of those groups to a better understanding of their Savior.

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