Posted by: Chris Sandel | May 5, 2009

Extreme Shepherding

Talk about some impressive shepherding.  I’m sure if David were around today he’d be doing something like this.  That is if he wasn’t killing bears and lions with his paintball gun. 


As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. – Ezekiel 34:12

Posted by: Chris Sandel | May 4, 2009

Church Sign Debate

So I haven’t posted in quite some time.  Most of my energy has been going toward by infant son and helping him with his daily blog posts (you can check them out at  After a while I start to feel like I can’t post unless I’ve got something really good or really deep.  But I don’t have time for much deep right now and I haven’t posted in so long I just thought I’d post a few fun & random things over the next few days.  Enjoy…

To put it politely, I’m not a huge fan of church signs. I think they can’ be used well if they let people know your service times.  That can certainly be beneficial but almost any time you put words on your sign, it ends up coming off poorly.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven past a church only to be disappointed (or occasionally disgusted) by their poor choice of message for their sign.  Does anyone really thing, “Eternal Reservations: Smoking or Non-Smoking” is really going to be a good outreach tool?

Exhibit A: Two churches get into a debate argument through their church signs.  It’s good to know that they’ve got their priorities straight. 






Posted by: Chris Sandel | April 18, 2009

Extreme Cameramen

As with all real men, I get a kick out of the TV show Man vs. Wild.  Who can resist Bear Grylls randomly peeing on his headband and eating raw animal flesh for no apparent reason.  That’s what real men do…more because it is stupid than because it is tough.

One thing I always wondered about though is how they get some of the camera shots they do.  It is one thing for Bear Grylls to scale a 100 foot waterfall but how do the guys with him do it while holding cameras?  Those are the real tough guys.

This video though, shows me that it can be done.  The cameraman is mimicking a video game called Mirror’s Edge by doing lots of free running/parkour style moves.  Basically is is like a cross between some kind of urban acrobatics and some sweet ninja moves.  At first I thought he must be wearing a helmet cam (still impressive) but later you can see that he’s actually holding the camera.  Wow!  If the guys from Man vs Wild ever get tired of following Bear to the most inhospitable places on earth, I bet this guy could give them a week off.

Posted by: Chris Sandel | April 17, 2009

Bouncing off the Walls

I’ve been to some pretty cool church youth buildings in my life.  Two of the coolest were at Saddleback and Mariner’s in California (hit the links if you want to see them for yourselves).  Melissa and I got to check them out when we visited last year.  There were skate parks, sweet technical setups, lots of game tables, etc and one even has a double decker basketball court (half court on floor one, half on floor two) that is open to everyone (just closed off by some fencing) right in the middle of the building.

If we ever build any additionally student ministry space at West Side, I think I’m going to put in a request for one of these babies.  Then we’ll literally have kids bouncing off the walls and we won’t even need the Mountain Dew.

Posted by: Chris Sandel | April 16, 2009

Father and Son Day Off

With a little guy to look after now and two schedules to juggle I’m going to be taking Thursday’s off with Jack from now on.  Today was my first real full day with him and it was a lot of fun.  We played some and he slept a lot while I worked on some video/birth announcement stuff for him.  Overall it was a very babycentric day but I really enjoyed it.  I’m looking forward to many more testosterone filled Thursdays for years (or however long it ends up being) to come.


Posted by: Chris Sandel | April 14, 2009

Wipeout Promo

We’re starting a new series called Wipeout in adult worship this Sunday.  It is about forgiveness and it should be a great follow up to Easter.  In order to prepare for the series Bethany & Gabe, from our worship & arts staff, asked Fitz and I to take one for the team.  Last Monday, during the threat of an April snow storm, we donned our high quality safety gear (random goalie helmets and some cheap wrist pads for kids from walmart…which I snapped after one fall) to intentionally fall on some skateboards.  Not a stretch since neither of us have any skills…at all. 

Aside from my bloody elbows and Fitz’s bruised ribs it was actually a lot of fun.  I am, however, finding that my sore muscles and bruises aren’t healing quite as fast as they used to.  Still, how many jobs would call for you to purposely throw your body down at a skate park?  I love my job!

Posted by: Chris Sandel | April 13, 2009

Scandal at Disney

People are making a big deal out these clips.  They are pretty crazy.  Looks like Disney did a little copy and paste work when they made their movies.  I have one alternative explanation though.  Maybe the annimators had been stuck in their cubicles for so long that the only knew one way to dance. 

Posted by: Chris Sandel | April 12, 2009

Britain’s Got Talent

What is the deal with Britain’s Got Talent?  Melissa and I have enjoyed America’s Got Talent over the last couple of summers.  It’s fun seeing all of the random acts (with a little talent mixed in there).  But the really amazing stuff always seems to come from Britain.  I’m not sure if they’re just more open to giving the less “polished” acts a shot or what but they regularly have these kinds of diamonds in the rough. 

Last year I posted about an unassuming cell phone salesman who blew the doors off of the competition.  Now there is a new woman sweeping through the show.  Check out Susan Boyle, age 47:

Posted by: Chris Sandel | April 11, 2009

My Friend Mike

My first memory of Mike is from a Sunday morning at West Side.  He was sharing his story of how a co-worker reached out to him and shared the love of Christ with him and the difference it had made in his life.  His story was really cool but beyond that, we don’t get a lot of big, bald men with a Chicago accent and lots of tattoos on our stage that often so he was pretty easy to remember.

Not long after that, Mike ended up joining our small group.  He brought a really different dynamic to the group and it made for some cool conversations.  In addition to being fairly new to his faith (most of the rest of us had been Christian for a long time), Mike also had a rougher past that most of us.  He’d gone through some difficult things growing up and he’d regularly tell us about old friend’s he’d visited in prison.  But despite the relative newness of his faith, he pursued God more passionately than any man I’ve ever met.  He did everything at 100% and just knowing him challenged me.  I’d like to think that I live my life full on for God all the time but I know that far too often, I settle for what is easy and what is comfortable.  Mike didn’t care what was easy, he just wanted to follow Christ.

Mike’s passion for God was evident in lots of ways.  Even though he was pretty new to his faith, he was constantly sharing the story of how God changed his life with the people around him.  He wouldn’t just talk to individuals though.  He’d tell any group that would have him (students, adults, schools, etc).  Beyond all of that, there was one thing that stood out to everyone who met Mike…his tattoos. 

Mike wanted everyone to know the impact Christ had on him and one way he let people know was through is tattoos.  And I’m not talking about some wimpy little cross on an ankle.  He got tattoo after tattoo in places that he knew people would see.  He had several on the outsides of his hands and he even had the insides of his palms tattooed with a Bible verse.

hirsch-45 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. – Isaiah 49:16

One of my strongest memories of Mike is from the grocery story.  One day I was at the store and I remember seeing Mike several aisles down from me checking out.  He hadn’t seen me but I noticed him get into a conversation with his checker and the people in line with him.  They noticed his tattoos and just like that he was able to tell people why he’d gotten them and how important Christ had been to him.  It isn’t often that you get to see people you know sharing their faith like that but I think it was a pretty regular occurrence with Mike.  I was so proud to know him that day. 

Mike made a big impact in the lives of his friends and I’m sure he touched countless strangers.  But his biggest impact was on his family.  In the few years since Mike became a Christian he was able to baptize both of his children and his wife.  The day his wife came forward I was so excited I ran to tell Melissa and another woman from our small group.  There were in charge of an event outside of the service.  I ran over and told them that Amelia had come forward and they were so excited that they jumped up and down and ran over to the service (leaving their class) in time to see Mike baptize her.  I’ve never been more excited to see someone make a decision than that day.

Several years ago, Mike was diagnosed with brain cancer.  He fought it with all that he had and I never heard a negative word from him.  This week he passed away.  He left behind his incredible wife Amelia and two great kids, Madison and Tucker.  His funeral was Thursday night and I don’t think I’ll ever be at a more inspirational funeral.  I’m not a big crier but the whole night I was just so thankful that I had the chance to know him.  I couldn’t help but get emotional. 

One moment I don’t think I’ll ever forget is when we sang In Christ Alone.  I’ve sang the song many times but it never hit me the way it did then.  I always sing this verse in reference to Christ (and I’m sure that is how it was written) but for a moment I realized that it really applies to all of us…especially Mike. 

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

Mike is not longer here in his earthly body.  He has left behind the cancer that caused him so much pain.  Now he is experiencing the promised resurrection.  He really is bursting fourth from the grave standing with Christ in victory. 

We’ll miss you Mike but I am so grateful for the chance I had to know you.  Thanks for living every minute of your life completely sold out for God.  Thanks for helping me see what it looks like to really love people the way Jesus does.  Thanks for reminding me that people are hurting and in need of a savior.  Most of all, thanks for challenging me to get out of my safe, comfortable little bubble to share the love of God.  I can’t wait to see you in heaven.  You’ll have to show me all the new tattoos I’m sure you’ll have gotten by then.

(I made this short video to conclude the service.)

Posted by: Chris Sandel | April 9, 2009

Jr. High Missions

This week I was asked to highlight the missions related activities the Jr. High ministry has done over the last couple of years.  It was pretty cool to see it all in one place.  We’ve done some neat stuff.  I think we could have done more (and I hope do do more this summer, and beyond) but just our Jr. High students have definitely had an impact.



Just Add Water (Summer ’07)

  • Individual projects like babysitting and lemonade stands to raise money
  • Group fundraisers of a car wash, garage sale, work day and dinner/auction
  • Over $9,250 raised to build 3 wells in Kenya

Shape Shifting (Summer ’08)

  • Twelve different teams were formed to meet throughout the summer.  They served in ways like sewing, photography, cooking, landscaping, etc
  • As a group, we served 1,500+ hours over the course of the summer.


Feed 500: Breakfast Edition (December ’08)

  • Collected 500+ boxes of pop tarts and 500+ boxes of cereal
  • Helped move and organize food items for 500 food baskets (30,000 meals)


Shoes for Haiti (March/April ’09)

  • Hundreds of shoes collected by our Early Childhood-Jr. High ministries to send down with the Jensen’s this summer

Mission Trips

  • St. Louis Urban Mission Trip (Summer ’03-’08) – worked with an inner city church VBS, distributed food and clothing to the homeless on the streets, cleaned and work to rebuild a run down church building, organized a back to school party for neighborhood children
  • Champaign-Urbana Mission Trip (Summer ’05-08′) – helped organize & distribute food and clothing for Salt & Light, completed work projects and the Christian Campus House and did multiple random acts of kindness activities.

Financially Supported

Pretty cool what one group of 6-8th graders can do!

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