Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cool Story of God's Work in My Life



I do not believe in fate.  I do not believe in coincidence.  I do not believe in luck.

I believe in providence.  I believe in sovereignty.  I believe in divine orchestration.

Don't stop reading!  This isn't a post about doctrine.  I'm not picking a fight.  I have a cool story to tell.  Press on good friends!

About a month ago I was invited to the table of a discussion about marketing, social media, web design, and online presence.  I was invited because I had shown initiative, skill and passion.  I was asked my opinion, my impressions, my vision and my ideas.  

It was an invigorating conversation that made my mental and creative energy soar.  

I immediately felt God's hand in bringing me to that place, and I prayed that he would continue to bring something out of the conversation.

Well, that one invite brought about two more, and then came a conversation, and now a new opportunity is before me.  It is so exciting.  God spoke a word into my heart in March about trusting in His provision and not manipulating situations to try and achieve blessing.  He told me to trust in Him and to wait for Him to provide.  At the time I figured it would be in the next few weeks but nothing ever came of it.  So I continued to trust and wait.

I believed in the word He spoke to me, and now I can see His plan coming together.

It is so awesome to experience how awesome Jesus is!  I'll share more details later when all the final pieces are in place, but the short story is that I will be using my passion for social media and blogging in order to help grow a business in a way that will require very little tweaking of my current responsibilities.  I believe God has been preparing this convergence of ability, passion, and need for a long time and that he is going to use it to bring a great blessing to our family.  So cool!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Updated Pictures of My Garden


This is the first year I have had a vegetable garden at my house.  I didn't get it planted and growing until early in June so everything is still kind of small.  I also vastly underestimated the amount of space the garden would take up.  Despite those two things I am having a really fun time learning and enjoying some home grown food.

Some of the first things we've been able to eat out of the garden have been lettuce and cucumbers. How good is lettuce in your salad and on your BLT when it comes straight from garden to plate!  


The cucumber plant has gotten so huge it is taking over everything.



The green beans and the peas are growing well but they are far from being ready to harvest.





We are really looking forward to enjoying some jalapeƱos, tomatoes, green peppers, and carrots!



I'm not sure what will happen with the corn but it just seems right to have at least a few stalks growing near the garden.

I am already making plans for next year's garden.  There are so many things I want to try and different foods I want to grow!

Friday, August 01, 2014

11 Things You Should Know About Introverts (and Me!)

My neighbor and pal Megan Kraby shared this blog post with me on Facebook.  She read it and said many of things written reminded her of me.  I clicked through to the post, read it myself, and felt like I could have personally written all 11 points.  If you're interested in learning more about introverts and how they function you should read the complete post

Here's a few highlight of some things that resonated with me the most. 

- I try to avoid situations where I feel that way, so I may decline your open invitation to some random event. It doesn’t mean I don’t like to be around you, it just means I like to have more control over my surroundings.

- I can turn it on to dazzle a crowd, but if you take me out for lunch afterwards, I’ll probably just listen to you talk.

-Did I get quiet? Do I have a mean look on my face? I’m not judging you; I’m just wrapped up in my thoughts with my [crabby]-resting-face on.

- When you have a strong monologue constantly running in the background, it is pretty easy to settle-in and listen for a while. I have to work through things in my head before I proceed, so I usually need a few minutes.

And my favorite....

- That time after an event or meeting ends and stragglers hang around to talk – yeah, I know this is the perfect time to make more plans, connect with new people, and get involved with future projects, but I really really really hate this. I’m probably already checking my phone in my car before you have even picked up your purse.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Notes and Quotes from my sermon on Friendship (taken from various Proverbs)


Last Sunday I had the privilege to preach the sermon at Cedarbrook Church in Menominee, WI.  Any time I am asked to preach is special, but this Sunday was especially special because I was invited out by my good friend Kyle Gunderson who is the Associate Pastor at Cedarbrook.  We have been close friends for 16 years and it is so cool to see all the things God has done in his life.  It was a fantastic day of sharing a word from the Bible and then hanging out with Kyle and his family.  


He and his wonderful wife Anna are amazing people and their four little boys get along with my kids like they have been best friends forever.  Stephanie and I both felt such an instant connection with Kyle and Anna even though we go way too long between times seeing each other.  We were all definitely blessed being together.


Cedarbrook has been going through a sermon series this summer called Life Apps.  The point of the series is that just like apps on a phone are only beneficial when they are used, the principles in God's Word need to be engaged if they are going to have an impact in our lives.  The Life App I chose to speak on was Friendship (based mostly on assorted Proverbs).  You can listen to my sermon, or any of the other Life App sermons by clicking here.


Here are some notes and quotes from my sermon on Friendship…...

- My thoughts on this come from my conviction that you / I are designed by God to travel through life with other people, and that friendship is one of the primary avenues in which this takes place. The key thought, if you’re taking notes (or tweeting) is this ----> our best friends are the ones who make us better in the areas of life that matter most.

- The Bible teaches that God designed us for friendship, and it also teaches us about the importance of picking good friends.

- Pastor Andy Stanley says it like this, “Your friends impact the direction and quality of your life.

- C.S. Lewis from The Four Loves, “Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one."

- Pastor Craig Groschel says that “you and I are just one friend away from a completely different life,” and I believe it with all my heart.

- I have to engage in the process of friendship if I want to experience the good things that can come from it, because, remember, application is everything.

- ...the more I thought about the power of friendship, the more I was forced to consider my own friendships, and the more I did that, the more I longed for more out of them.

- Even when we are ditched by everyone in this world we have one friend who will never leave us. That friend is Jesus Christ.

- You may be just one friend away from a completely different future. And Jesus is that friend. Today by simply acknowledging your need for him, you can be among those whom Jesus calls his friends. If you do that, I promise you, Jesus will drastically change the quality and direction of your life.

* Scriptures references: Pr. 13:20; 25:27; 27:17; 17:17; 25:20; 18:24; Hebrews 10:24-25; John 15:12-15

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How (and Why) I Use the Foursquare App


In the last couple months I’ve started to use a new app on my iPhone called Foursquare. When my wife started to see Foursquare updates on my Facebook timeline she said to me, “That’s an app for people trying to find single people to hook up with.” While it may be used that way by some people, that is DEFINATLEY not why I use Foursquare.

Here’s how it works.

When you open up the Foursquare app it uses your GPS location to identify the names of business, restaurants, parks and other places around you. If you are in one of those locations you can ‘check-in’ there. Then, depending on how your options are set-up, you can share your check-in information on other social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. By sharing you are letting other people know where you are and giving them the chance to connect with you.

Also, Foursquare can send you alerts when other Foursquare friends have checked-in to a location near you. Here’s a good example of why this is cool. Last Saturday I went to Canterbury Park to watch some extreme animal racing. I checked-in using the Foursquare app, and I was immediately able to see that a friend from college was also at the track that day. I texted him and we had the opportunity to arrange a meeting and say hi to each other. Pretty cool. Imagine how much fun this could add to your experience at baseball games and music concerts!

Another neat thing about Foursquare is that you can leave reviews and tips about the locations you check-in. When you do this, anyone else who checks-in to that same place can see the reviews and tips about food quality, service, pricing, and many other things. Reading these check-in tips can improve your user experience.

What has been your experience? Are you a Foursquare user? If you are we should be friends and connect sometime when our paths cross!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Notes and Quotes from my Sermon "The Wheat and the Weeds"



Today I had the pleasure of preaching at Main Street Moravian Church in Northfield, MN.  I have been preaching there once or twice a month for the last couple years.  They do not have a full time pastor and so I am part of a team of pastors who come in and rotate in the pulpit.  My philosophy has always been to preach as directly from the Bible as possible and to relate everything back to the person and work of Jesus.

The sermon today was from Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.  It is the parable Jesus told about the wheat and the weeds.  Here are some quotes from the manuscript.

- So, what we know from the story so far is that it is about a wealthy, powerful landowner who had a rival. And that rival, in an act of secrecy, wickedness, and jealous has polluted the wealthy man’s good field with weeds in an effort to destroy him. It seems like a simple story, easy to understand. But what does it actually mean?

- What Jesus is saying is that in the world he has children, children who have been sown in the good seed of faith. They are adopted children, joined in the family of God through faith in his son Jesus.

- In my garden I have wanted to pick out weeds but I have needed to wait to make sure they are not plants developing. Unknowingly I may have picked out something that was to produce a good harvest. I really had to stress this with Isabelle when we were first getting the garden going because she just wanted to rip out everything.

- This is what the Master’s servants wanted to do. They wanted to immediately go and rip out all the weeds but the master was wiser than they were. The master knew that in recklessly ripping out weeds some of the good wheat would risk being destroyed also.

- And after all there is deep truth in the charitable saying of Augustine, "Those who are weeds today, may be wheat tomorrow."

- Human beings make poor eternal judges. Did you know that? There are way too many religious people running around doing the job of the angels and God, rounding up sinners and condemning them. I would advise this. If we can’t judge the authenticity of a $100 bill, then we would do best to avoid judging the souls of men.

- There is coming an end to all the world. This place as we know it will no longer be as we know. And Jesus will return as a triumphal king to rule over the righteous. All sin and evil will be eradicated from the presence of the righteous and they shall live in peace.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Feeling of Being Buried Alive


Buried alive.

It is the nightmare of every mountain climber and high altitude skier. Thousands and thousands of pounds of snow slowing down the mountainside and trapping everyone and everything underneath a dense blanket of snow and rock and ice. The weight crushes the chest and the lungs scream out for oxygen but there is none to be had. There is little chance of survival in such a scenario. People buried alive simply do not usually claw themselves back out and into safety. To have any chance at all a rescue operation needs to happen, and the victims must be dug out by another in order to be saved.

Have you ever felt buried alive? Maybe you’re suffocating because of financial hardship and debt that is sucking the oxygen out of your life. Maybe you screwed up and made a choice with consequences that seem to be crushing you at the core. I know what this feels like. I have feel the crushing weight of consequences, I have felt the oxygen being sucked out of my lungs. My biggest problems came years ago, but to this day, this very day, I still have moments where it all seems way too heavy to bear. I am grateful to my wife, my family and some wonderful friends we all worked in various ways to help dig me out and get me to safety.

The Bible says that because of the sinful attitudes of our hearts, and the sinful ways we rebel against God, that we are condemned to eternal separation from God. In essence, an avalanche of sin, of our own causing, has buried us alive and there is no way any person can dig themselves out. Let like this we will surely die. But there is good news. Jesus Christ, God’s son, came to earth to save us. In the ultimate rescue mission Jesus not only digs us out and pulls us to safety, but he heals us of all our sin and empowers us to live new lives. He doesn’t just rescue, he also redeems and restores and rebuilds. No one but the perfect Son of God has the power to do this.

By Jesus we are no longer buried alive, but instead we are made alive to worship Jesus and live transformed lives.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

8 Questions to Ask to Examine the Condition of Your Heart



Here's an excerpt from my recent sermon on The Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.....

Here’s what is scary. A lot of us hear the parable of the sower, and because we’ve heard it before, or because we’ve been going to church for a while, or because our parents go to church and have a Bible in the home, we automatically default into thinking that we are the good soil without ever stepping back and asking, “Is my life bearing fruit?” This is a critical question. Jesus said twice in Matthew 3 and in Matthew 7, that every tree that does not bear fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.”

So, get out your mental paper and pen and checklist. I’m going to read through a list of questions. I want you to think about these questions and assess yourself to see if you are growing in faith. This isn't going to be one of those funny, youth group story time moments. It is actually going to be more like a colonoscopy for you heart. Uncomfortable, a little scary, and not a blast for the doctor either, but important because it is potentially life saving.

We're going to take a few moments to examine ourselves. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and reveal to you the things in your life that you need to hand over to him, the ways in which you are failing to bear the fruit of God in your life.

1. Is my language consistent with the kind of language that pleases God and brings him honor, or do I use my words to cut others down, to speak harshly, to be profane and vulgar, or minimize the honor of God’s name?

2. Am I concerned with the approval of men or the approval of God? What motivates my behavior? Am I obsessed with being popular, having a boyfriend or girlfriend, impressing my teachers, or having everyone like me? In what ways am I tempted to compromise my values?

3. How do I treat the people around me and in authority over me? Do I respect and obey my parents even when I disagree? Do I show love and concern for my siblings and help them out however I can joyfully and not begrudgingly? Would teachers, coaches, administrators, and bosses say I am a delight and an asset to the school, team or job...or would they say I am difficult, trouble, and disrespectful or unreliable?

4. How do I spend my free time and my money? Does God get what is leftover after I have spent money on myself? Do I give God the leftover time of the day for prayer and Bible reading, or does God get the first and best time of the day? Would be ready and willing to live sacrificially or do you only give to God when you can and then still maintain your comfort levels?

5. Where does my mind go when it wanders? Do I think about God, who he is, how he loves me, how I can love him and serve him and give him glory, or do I think about FaceBook, Twitter, being with my friends, and all the concerns of my life?

6. Do acts of injustice and foolishness, sexual immorality, abortion, prejudice, starvation and malnutrition, unreached people groups, persecution of Christians, and others societal sins that Scripture speaks of - do they bother me or am I participating in their normalization either actively or by my silence?

7. Am I ever truly sorry for my sinfulness and the way I have offended God by my pride and selfishness and hardness of heart, or am I simply glad that I don’t have to pay the penalty for it and go to hell? Does God’s mercy and forgiveness lead to praise, or just a head nod of thanks?

8. Is there anything going on your life where you are dependent on your faith? Are you taking any risks, stretching yourself, do you really, honestly have any need for God in your life? How are you living that makes you any different from any other person?

We cannot assume we are good soil. We have to ask ourselves, regularly, “Has my relationship with God changed anything about the way I live? 

"Is there any evidence in my life that I am connected to God, or am I pretty much like everyone else, except I go to church and youth group? Do I just blend in with everyone else at school and work or is there something different about the way I date, spend money, treat others, respond to authority, talk, and live?"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Beef with Your Beef About the 2014 Fifa World Cup



I have a confession to make.  Every four years something inside of stirs and I become a huge soccer fan.  This year has been no exception; I have had a great time watching the Fifa World Cup matches. It was really exciting to see the USA club make it out of the pool of death and into the knock-out rounds.  I have also enjoyed watching other countries like Germany, Netherlands, and even Costa Rica play.

One thing that bugs me though is how suddenly everyone who doesn't like soccer thinks this is the time to bring up their dislike.  I've read many opinion pieces that trash soccer.  You hear people talking about how boring it is, how the players take dives, how the field should be smaller…blah blah blah!!! Here's a great idea I had.  If you don't like soccer don't watch it and don't talk about it.  Just go ahead on your merry little way and no one will be worse off.

What really cranks me up is when people make a big deal about diving (or it is sometimes called flopping).  Who cares if the guy flops?  It is part of the game and if you do it effectively congrats to you.  You think soccer is the only sport this happens?  You think guys in football don't pretend to get grabbed and held?  Wide receivers don't fake being interfered with on passes?  Ever see a baseball player pretend to be hit by a pitch?  Ever see a catcher move his glove to 'frame' a pitch?  Ever see a hockey player fall down a little too easily when he's hooked?  Ever see a basketball player flop?  Or jump into a defender to get a free throw?  There is a gamesmanship to faking out the refs and I support it.

I'm not a year round soccer guy.  Heck, I'm not even a bi-annual soccer guy.  I'm a World Cup guy and for two months I get a little soccer obsessed.  I understand the criticism but I'm not going to sit on my couch or behind my keyboard and call ever soccer player a stupid, socialist, wimpy flopper.

That's just crazy.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Preparing to Handle the Valley Times of Our Lives




Life is full of ups and downs.  The hard part is that it seems the downs are a lot lower than the ups are high.  And they come more frequently.  Would you agree?

One of the reasons I am such a proponent of Bible study, exegetical preaching and constant sermon listening is because you never know when the lows are going to hit, and when they hit is not the time to decide how you are going to handle them.  Think of the fire drills you did during your time in elementary school.  You didn’t do those fire drills so that you’d have extra recess time.  You did them so that just in case an actual fire occurred, you would be prepared and know how to react appropriately.

As followers of Jesus we need to be prepared for cancer, job loss, disappointment, frustration, and struggle.  I have walked through my fair share of hardships and it was my spiritual foundation that sustained me.  Jesus said a wise man builds his house on the rocks, not the sand, so that when storms in life come you can stand firm.  Isn’t that what we all want – to feel like we’re standing firm?  Therefore, we need to build on the rocks of God’s love, His sovereignty, His goodness, and His wisdom.  With a firm, Biblically-informed grasp of these things we are prepared to react when trouble comes.

Of course none of this is meant to minimize the pain and fear that come in storms or times of trouble.  If the elementary school is on fire the kids are still going to yell and scream and shake, but if they have prepared ahead of time they will still be able to safely navigate the fire.  That is what I want for myself, and what I want for all of you who read this.  Jesus Christ came to earth, died on a cross in our place, and has overcome sin and death to give us new life and an unshakable hope for the future.  My prayer is that we all may have a relationship with him that sustains us in all circumstances.
 

Blog Archive