The Life of JaWS

A blog by Jason Sansbury

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A public Proclamation...

I wanted to announce it publicly.
I am off of sodas. No canned or bottled drinks.
Farewell root beers, cokes, etc.
Been this way for several days. Drinking water, milk and water with the Kroger brand of Crystal Light.
And I decided to start the weekend I am pulling an all-nighter.
Pray for my sanity...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Exporting America's Finest...

Okay, so my buddy Turff recently moved jobs and is now big time at his new company. One of the first acts that happened in his new job is that he is taking a safari to South Africa for business.

So today, he makes a very expensive phone call to me to say that at 11:15 PM he arrived back at his hotel, turns on the TV and on one of the 5 channels is the creme de la creme of American television. That's right ladies and gentleman, Joey Greco is global! Cheaters was on South African television. I wonder if they have seen the one where Joey gets stabbed yet...

So here's to Cheaters, America and learning of the evils of cheating on your signficant other!

Catalyst Day One, Session Two

Catalyst Conference
Session #2: Marcus Buckingham

I just recently have become aware of the work of Marcus Buckingham. When I arrived at Bethlehem, one of the early things that I was asked to do was take the Clifton Strengths Finder from his book Now, Discover Your Strengths. (For the record, I scored as Restorative, Input, Intellection, Achiever and Connectedness.) And in my “To Read” pile is his book First, Break All the Rules.

The focus of Buckingham’s talk was focused on the idea of strengths. A great deal of what he talked about was the process of being a manager, which I took as being applicable to my work in helping volunteers discover their gifts and talents.

“The job of a manager is to turn one person’s talent into performance.”

“The best managers see small increments of growth in others.”

"Great managers find out what is unique about each person and capitalize on it."

Sharpen, refine, contribute.

Our people’s strengths are our greatest asset.

3 Myths:
1. As you grow, your personality changes
The truth is that you become more and more of who you are.
2. You grow the most in your weakest areas.
Areas of growth are really in the areas of our strengths.
3. What the team needs you do is to chip in at your weakest areas.

What I Took Away:
For me, it was a confirmation of the idea that I need to realize and focus on my strengths. My passion drives me to take the gifts that God has given me and to not focus so much on what I am not good at. In short, I cancelled my registration for the Dale Carnegie course on “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

So what is the take home?
I have been praying that God will give me opportunities to use my gifts and strengths in a way that glorifies him. Secondarily, I want desperately to help people discover their strengths and free them up for ministry. I am learning that a major part of my task and call is to help people be who God has called them to be. Lots of people have occupations and I think God wants me to help people to discover their calls.

Catalyst Day One, Session One

Catalyst Conference, Day One starts:

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I was working on about 4 hours of sleep the morning of the start of the Catalyst Conference. I drove all night and had bad directions to the hotel and the night clerk wasn’t exactly Mr. Mapquest. So I arrived late, dove into the bed and it felt like 10 minutes later woke-up and grabbed a shower.

A Panera Bread run, a short drive over and we arrived at the Gwinnet Convention Center, which is an amazing facility. A few steps from the car, we jumped into a limo. Yes, a limo. Kevin and Shannon (from Lighthouse) and I shared a limo with some folks and got out to a red carpet welcome. Pictures were taken, including me doing an amazing high-five with like a 6’ 5” guy with long arms. Pride entered as we walked away and one of the Catalyst staff people said “Dang, the big fella really got up!”

Session #1: Andy Stanley.

I will say that for me personally this session was the most meaningful and directly related to me. The basis of the session was on leadership being a gift from God and Andy taught from Daniel 4. The key quote, which now hangs over my desk in the basement office is “The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men, and he gives them to whoever he wishes.” From there he talked over the ideas that leadership is a stewardship given from God and he can take it away whenever he chooses. Real leadership is marked by diligent, fearless and humble.

What I Took Away: No doubt God spoke directly to me through this talk. As I have written about and shared with most folks who read this, I was asked to leave a church and youth ministry that I loved at the beginning of May. The pain of that situation still haunts me and I am dealing with it and learning to deal with it.

And in mid-July, God began to nudge me and a church in Tennessee to partner together. So, God led me to Bethlehem United Methodist and I am truly blessed to be here.

What happened was that there was a disconnect in my heart and mind between the leaving of Cornerstone and the arrival at Bethlehem. In my head and heart, God sent me to Bethlehem to fix a situation that was made by folks who were out to get me. So on the Thursday morning of Catalyst, I felt like God was saying “Moron, I moved you. Yeah, it was a bad situation with some less than understanding people and it was painful. But I am sovereign and I moved you. And I then moved you to the place where you are serving now.” And I felt like taking my ball and going home because I knew that would be the most freeing thing I would hear all week.

So what is the take home? In all honesty, I made the decision to pray that God would send Cornerstone a new shepherd. And everyday that has been my prayer. That he would give those people and those opportunities to whoever he wishes. Secondly, I began to really engage in the lives of the people at Bethlehem. Timing was probably critical and there was no doubt a ton of administrative stuff for me to do the first couple months at Bethlehem. But I made the decision that the bridge God burned behind me wasn’t worth trying to escape back over. He is God and he has sent me here to do his work. And that is incredibly freeing.

From the Message (Daniel 4:17)
The angels announce this decree,
the holy watchmen bring this sentence,
So that everyone living will know
that the High God rules human kingdoms.
He arranges kingdom affairs however he wishes,
and makes leaders out of losers.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Stay Classy Miami!

Many of you may have seen video of the fight that occurred in the third quarter of the University of Miami and the Florida International University football game on Saturday. It is easy to find if you haven't. Needless to say, it was despicable. (Note the ridiculous comments of one Lamar Thomas, who I will discuss further later.)

Miami has a notorious reputation. It has long been the school of thugs, jerks and bad seeds. I mean, 2 Live Crew was on their sidelines at one point in their history. And all was forgiven because they won football games. Let's review the last 10 months of Miami football....

The 2006 Peach Bowl versus LSU. Miami evidently instigates a brawl. After get annhiliated on the field. And by all accounts, they lost the brawl. I mean, Miami can act like they are the filthy, dirty of the NCAA but a bunch of cajun boys from near the Big Easy smacked them around on and off the field.

So they clean out the coaching staff and declare the dawn of a new era. Larry Coker manages to survive as head coach. So the season starts. What appears to be a pretty bad Florida State team beats them. They beat Florida A&M.

They head to Louisville, make a big to-do about stomping on the middle of the field and on Louisville's logo. Cocky, brash, arrogant. And then, they get whupped 31-7 by a Conference USA team that is playing their back-up tailback and quarterback.

Then the brawl happens on Saturday. First, Larry Coker has lost all control of the program. I would like to think that had I been the head coach of Miami, I would have ended the game immediately. Forfeited. Explain to my team that if you want to play, then you act like men. Injured players using crutches as weapons isn't what I would want my team, my school and my conference to be known for.

Then, if I got any crap out of the players about it, I would end the season. Immediately. And if they fired me, then so be it. I hear all the time about how the joy of college football is the passion and enthusiasm because it is amaeur athletes. The truth is different and because it is big business, it will never happen. But maybe it is time to remind all student-athletes that their first and primary obligation is to behave like men. I would be ashamed to have anything to do with the University of Miami today.

(Side rant: Email CSS which covered the game and ask them to fire Lamar Thomas. There is dumb, there is stupid and then there is Lamar Thomas. Unbelievable. UPDATE: I got an excellent reply email from the VP of CSS and not long after this was posted on

A Massive Update!

A massive update….

Okay, so there is a massive amount of stuff soon to come to this blog. Just been busy doing stuff. Like life. So here is some consolidated news and random thoughts:

  • Sunday report: Sunday was great! Youth Choir sang at the early service and I was again the children’s sermon person. (FYI- Children’s sermon isn’t in my wheelhouse. At all. Definitely place it in the category of Things Other People will Do for Me Soon.”) Later in the afternoon we had a service day where we did some work on a couple of people’s homes in the church. Turnout was WAY better than I thought it would be. We ended the evening watching “Remember the Titans” and eating pizza. A good time was had by all. (And I must say, people were very, very nice to me in regards to Georgia’s self-destruction and loss to Tennessee. I can’t stand that crappy orange. God make me colorblind if you want me to stay here for a long time.)
  • Important podcast news: NPR’s “This American Life” is now available on podcast from the itunes store podcast section. Also, Mars Hill Bible Church (Rob Bell’s home) is now podcasting directly and is available in the itunes store podcast section. Previously, you had to go directly to their site and download it so this is a significant improvement. Both items are now in my play list. Along with many, many others.
  • When I moved to Tennessee I was due a new phone and I got a Motorola Q. It has been great and there are tons of great websites to help you know how to use it. So far I have been very happy and this week I got some accessories I needed for it- memory card, car charger, headphones adaptor. It will be my only carry everywhere device, which is nice.
  • Gearing up for the first big event of the youth calendar. The Lock-Out. Much of the plans are still top-secret but I have the necessary chaperones and all things are booked. Sign-up deadline was this past Sunday.
  • My “old” youth group is on their fall retreat this week. Pray for them.
  • Tech nerds: I switched to the new Google Reader for all my blog reading. So far, good stuff and easy to use.
  • I ordered the season passes for “Lost” and “Battlestar Galactica” instead of ordering cable. I hope my neighbor with the open wifi spot doesn’t move anytime soon.

Stuff coming up:

· My Catalyst Conference report. It was a great experience and I want to break it down per session, especially what my take-away was from each session.

· My Atlanta Hawks preview. Seriously. And, yes, I know they are hopeless. But they have a special place in my heart.

· Movie review of The Departed. I am hoping to see it this weekend at some point. Haven’t really done much in the movie front the last couple weeks. Been watching Entourage and House on DVD as well as some new show: Friday Night Lights (okay and getting better), Studio 60 (Good but I worry about a decline), Heroes (Has some really, really good potential). has most new shows online for watching if you want to kill some time at the office.

· Random sports thought: TO, quit listening to idiots (Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders) and demonstrating your own idiocy. Catch the football, score touchdowns and shut up. Go Falcons! Go Dawgs! (Mark Richt is a great coach and, more importantly to me, a good man who wants to build young men of character. I hope he is UGA’s coach for the next quarter century.)

· Fantasy football: Doesn’t look good for me to repeat as league champ. Trying, but it ain’t working. Next year, I will draft 4 running backs in the first 4 rounds.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New Church Plant labels...

In the “what the heck” category of web-serving, I recently headed towards a conference website to read their update, as occasionally it has some good ideas and thoughts. I noticed that in the capacity to search for new churches, there is an Ethnic Code section.

So, as my blood pressure rose, I thought “Surely, this is some kind of error.” Then I decided to check it out. And sure enough, you can search for new churches by the following “Ethnic codes”: African-American, Anglo, Asian/Indian, Brazilian, Chinese, Haitian, Hispanic/Latino, Kenyan, Korean, Liberian and Multi-Ethnic. By selecting one you are able to find your appropriate Ethnic Code.

I am deeply, deeply saddened for a lot of reasons.

  • I personally think that folks that are looking for a new church tend to be pretty web savvy. What kind of message does this send to new folks who are looking for a United Methodist Church in this area that we are segregating ourselves? We need to be launching new churches because we know and believe that we need new churches. Can we not trust God to send us the people He wants to entrust in our care?
  • Heaven will be diverse. It is about time that we moved away from the whole “White people worship with white people, etc.” model of doing church. It grieves the heart of God that we would so divide ourselves this way. (And I am not one to throw around the idea that we are grieving the heart of God, but you can’t read John 17:20-26 and not see that.)
  • It is abhorrent to think that the new churches we are starting carry on some of the worst parts of who we are, namely our divisions. And let’s not get all happy because there is a Multi-Ethnic Ethnic Code…it only has 2 churches in that category and one of those isn’t exactly in a diverse area.
  • I doubt the church planters involved are doing church with this division in mind. If a white couple finds their way into a predominately African-American congregation, do we not welcome them, love them and minister to them? “Open hearts, open doors, open minds” needs to be more than a weak advertising slogan that makes church people feel better about themselves.

Come, Lord Jesus...

Movie Reviews: Kids and Hustle and Flow

(Note: Both these films are full of profanity, some violence and other issues that kids shouldn't see and uptight people ought to leave alone.)

So over the past week, I saw a couple movies via Netflix. (The movie watching has seriously slowed down now that I have purchased an antenna for my TV and can get most broadcast channels.)

Kids. Ugh. Kids is one of those movies that tries very hard to be shocking and titillating and depressing. For my money it succeeds only in depressing. The basic premise is that it follows some New York City kids through their life, which is missing nearly any adult involvement. It tries to then show a bleak side of life, a young man who has HIV, doesn't know it and is set on conquesting as many virgins as possible.
Why it didn't work: It is a world I know. I know kids who are adult-less and, yes, they wind up in some messy, ugly, strange places. The film maker seemed to want to walk a line between condemnation and glorification. The end result is a boring movie with some now famous kids that I could use to shock the heck out of adults if I wanted to but real life does in a much better way.

Hustle and Flow. You should first know this about me: I fancy myself as coming up from a pretty poor background. Now, granted, South Street in Newnan isn't downtown Atlanta or anything but it isn't exactly Peachtree City, GA either. So I think I understand and feel a bit about the haunting of poverty. (And if you beg to differ, that is fine. Just take it up with me face to face.)
And Hustle and Flow is a tremendous movie about one man's attempt to make something with his life. Terrence Howard is an amazingly gifted actor who portrays a pimp trying to make it as a rap/hip-hop artist. The supporting cast are all outstanding and the film works. What I found particularly interesting was the "Making of" feature where it talks about how the director was unable to get funding for a very urban movie because he was white. Liberal Hollywood couldn't conceive that a white man might know something about poverty, depression and pulling yourself up out of it.
Why it works: The film doesn't try and glorify the characters. All of them have major flaws. Some massively so. But it strikes a chord because of that fact- all of us got our issues, our demons and our sins. But at our core, we all want to try and make ourselves into something better than we are. Hustle and Flow does a good job of it. I especially thought the ending was particularly inspired, as it sets you up for one thing and gives you something else entirely.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sunday Wrap-Up, 10-1-06

So as good as last week was this week was “ugh.” Not bad, just it didn’t work entirely.

First off, the game didn’t work very well. Dodgeball Dragon. Previously I have played it with kids and it has been awesome but it just never quite got there…oh well. I need a good game person and/or spend some time mapping out a long term game plan.

The talk went okay. We had a great turnout, which is awesome. The bad is that we still don’t quite have the space worked out well. So big crowd = less functional for talks, etc. Argh. Soon we will have built in bleachers, two LCDs and a nice sound system. (Folks- it is a dream. I figure dream big…)

This week I am headed back to the ATL for the Catalyst Conference. Turff, some folks from his church and their parent church are all going. I went last year and enjoyed it immensely. I am thankful for a church that will support me in my efforts to continue to grow as a leader. (And I suspect I will be blogging from there if I have wifi.)

Next Sunday is what I am calling Experiment Sunday. We are getting some kids together to go around visiting and doing some yard work for some of the elderly folks of our church. It is an attempt to motivate service as well as bridge some generation gaps that are present in our church. Word on the street is that the seniors are excited about our coming and cookies could be involved. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

And then because I will have been tied up all week doing office stuff and going to the conference (complete with the midnight drive on Wednesday) we will be doing movie night. The last 4 weeks I have been working on a series based in some part off of “Remember the Titans” clips, so we are ordering pizza and watching the movie. Should be fun.

Stuff you can pray for me about: high school small groups. (I feel like I am stumbling all over the place with them…) An administrative assistant. (The talk is we will be hiring someone come January. Pray I last until then…) Road tripping...