Showing posts from June, 2005

getting connected at our church

Connecting new families to the Quarry is something that is important to us. Our goal is to create a community of Jesus followers where people feel known, loved and celebrated. Clicks, groups and an 'insider' mentality are the exact opposite of our intentions.

One of the primary ways people connect at the Quarry is through participation in a small group. These groups usually meet weekly during the school year and sporadically during the summer. There is a quarterly small group sign-up, but if you would like to get involved with a group sooner you can do so by contacting the church office.

Another way to begin getting connected is to have your children participate in student activities. Currently our middle school group meets on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8 pm. John Torkelson is our Youth Pastor and he can be reached for more information by phone at the office (763-295-2039) or by his email address (

At least once every couple months (we just did this l…

slowing down

I read this morning. It is an except from something written by Gordon McDonald. It reminded me of our discussion a couple weeks ago on the activity driven life.

In the Warrack Lectures of 1958 delivered in Scotland (and published under the title The Preacher's Calling to be a Servant, D. T. Niles offered these words: "Hurry means that we gather impressions but have no experiences, that we collect acquaintances but make no friends, that we attend meetings but experience no encounter. We must recover eternity if we are to find time, and eternity is what Jesus came to restore. For without it, there can be no charity."

I don't want to live with no experiences, no friends and encounters. Recovering eternity with Jesus. That is an interesting thought. Slowing down. That is an attractive idea. Implementation...that is the issue.

what keeps people awake and engaged during a message

Tony Morgan from Granger Community Church recently posted this on his blog.

1. Be real. Let people see the actual human inside you. Most times that will occur through your personal stories.
2. Talk like normal people talk. I didn’t grow up in the church, so I don’t understand when you talk with a Christian accent.
3. Use humor. If you don’t make me laugh, I’m probably going to tune you out. By the way, the best humor is revealed through your everyday life.
4. Don’t tell me what to think. Lead me on the journey toward truth, but let me reach my own conclusions. In other words, don’t try to sell it.
5. Be honest. If I think you’re credible, there’s a better chance I’ll think your message is credible.
6. Avoid being too polished. In fact, I love it when you leave your prepared statements and share anything off the cuff.
7. Reveal your weaknesses. As silly as it may seem, it makes me smile when I hear about your mistakes. It helps me to respect the areas where you are gifted.
8. Be brief. Shorter…

quick thought

Are we waiting for God to move...
...or is God waiting for us to get off our butts and get going?


When I read the stories in the book of Acts it seems like bringing the kingdom of God into this world cost people quite a bit. There is one spot where it says the followers of the Way sold their lands and laid the money at the feet of the apostles and no one among them had any need.

This is tough stuff for me to consider. I wonder how extravagant a lifestyle I am called to live. I really believe that God blesses us and wants for us to enjoy things...even things like golf, ipods, and nice cars. The question that I have to ask myself is am I willing to lay it all down and give it all away if Jesus wants me to. And even I living in intimate relationship with him to the point where I would even be able to hear him call me?

These are hard questions. And it is even harder as a leader to bring people into a reality that is relatively unknown even to me. But I feel like that is the calling. To step out in faith and go on the journey, without the guarantee of safety or security, but…

bread update

The service on Sunday went well. It was neat that some of us are thinking along the same lines.

For the service we had two bread machines stationed in the auditorium and had the bread baking and the smell drifting as I spoke (we probably could have used more machines to make the smell stronger - big room).

Then we had some fresh bread delivered from someone's home so that when we ended the service with communion people were ripping off pieces of soft, warm bread.

We also had a guy on stage dressed as a chef who was preparing bread behind me. Many visuals and sensory items that connected with people.

For my message, entitled 'Jesus vs. Dr. Aitken's', I tried to show people that the bread of this world (success, beauty, materialism, etc.) can never fulfill the longing in our souls and that only Jesus the bread of life can truly satisfy us. Then I asked people to start living with a new health plan...characterized by the ABC's.

A: acknowledge there is a problem
B: believe t…

thanks babe!

Yesterday was Stephanie and I's three year anniversary. I can hardly believe that I just wrote that. Three years! It is awesome.

I have had so much fun being married and having a family. How could I not? I have a wonderful woman as my best friend and greatest cheerleader. Stephanie has been a huge encouragement to me as I've worked to get through seminary and follow the path God lays before me.

She has so many talents and abilities. Hospitality is something she excels at. Stephanie makes everyone feel at home and she works to connect people. She has an eye for helping others out (and she regularily points out those opportunities to me!). Before being a stay at home mom she was a great teacher in a tough place to teach.

She is helping lead the women's ministry at the Quarry and she has a passion to see women experience God. She is passionate also about strong marriages and healthy families. It is a total blessing to serve God alongside someone like her.

Stephanie loves and serv…

a couple of highlights from our trip to MI

This is a picture that we took in Tomah, WI on the way to Michigan last week. As soon as we walked into McDonald's Jacob wanted to sit in Ronald's lap and he stayed there the whole time feeding him hashbrown. We stopped at the same place for dinner on the way home and Jacob sat in the same spot. For that meal Ronald had french fries and some chicken nugget.

Stephanie and I decided we eat at McDonald's way too much. Now, when we drive by one Jacob will start saying "Eat? Eat?" and when we don't stop he whimpers like he's going to cry.

This picture is from a ice cream shop in St. Joseph. Stephanie and I took the kids there one afternoon last week to walk around. It was pretty hot and so we had a treat to cool off. It was nice to be a family and spend time together with no distractions. Plus I got strawberry ice cream in a waffle cone. What a blessing from above!

Here's a picture of Isabelle taken while we were in St. Joseph. She is getting bigger and cuter…

help me write a message

OK, let's see if this blog thing really works.

Sunday I am preaching on Jesus as the bread of life. The main text I am using is John 6, especially verses 25-69. Please read this verses and give me some input. I am interested in your thoughts as they could help me speak relevantly.

Read the chapter and respond...

What does this picture mean to you?
What do you need to hear regarding Jesus and this text?
What questions rise up for you?
What challenges do you have in reading, understanding, applying?
Is there something that is unclear? Something hard to follow?
How can I preach this text effectively to Jesus followers and non-Jesus followers?

Thanks for taking the time to help out and give some input. Obviously not all comments will be answered directly, but your feedback will help color my thinking on this subject.

life - pt. 3

Our discussion about life has gotten lively and interactive which is awesome. Many of your comments have stirred me to think even more about these issues. Thank you for the response.

The activity driven life seemed to really strike a nerve in many people. It is a struggle that we all face in such a go-go society that praises multitasking and busyness more than authentic relationships. And I don't foresee things changing much. Things like Wi-Fi and Cellular technology have us processing more and more information at faster speeds all the time. The expectation of people to be connected is stronger and stronger (i.e. - the frustration I feel when I can't get a hold of someone on their cell phone! Isn't that why they have one, so they can be on call for me?) So what do we do? I think we have to begin to ruthless cut things out and focus ourselves on a third way of life.


To be mission driven means to be sold out for a cause. It means having a purpose behi…

life - pt. 2

Ok, back to the discussion that I began yesterday on life. Before I talk about a second way to life I should clarify something. Someone wisely pointed out to me that life often blends and there is a time for pleasure (i.e. vacation) and time for others things. This is very true. It is a very rare person who finds themselves enmeshed in just one life type forever. That being said, I hope you see the progression of life types I am trying to lay out and that you will come to prefer one above another.

The second type of life as I see it is the activity driven life.

Activity Driven

An activity driven life is easy to spot. People caught in it's web are constantly on the move. They are hard to pin down, always referring to their PDA's and calendars. Activity driven people stay on the go and keep gas stations in business.

There are many types of activities that people become tied to. Work is a big one. (I think that as a whole people spend far too much of their lives at a desk/job - a con…

faith and government

I woke up this morning and found myself laying in bed thinking. Do you do this? Many people probably do but not usually me. When I wake up I typically hit the floor and start running right away. There is always some activity pulling me like a magnet. But not today. Today I woke up and I laid there and let my mind flow. And I had a thought.

"Where in the Bible are Christians ever called to participate in the legislative process of their government working to ensure that so-called Christian moral values are instituted at the national level?"

Then I wondered to myself,"Is this a Christian thought?" A flood of personal history entered my mind. I remembered conversations about morality and God's demand for people to be holy. There are questions like 'what would happen if Christians didn't lobby Congress', and, 'we can't lay back and roll over and let the world go to hell in a handbasket, can we?'

So I started thinking about Jesus who b…

life - pt. 1

Today I finished my very last seminary class! I just have some loose ends to tie up this summer and I'll be hanging my Master of Divinity on my cubicle wall before you know it. Wow, three years in seminary went by fast. It was a good experience.

Since my family is out of town I didn't know what to do with myself to celebrate. (My beautiful wife and kids are in Michigan for the week. I miss you guys!) And so, I ended up walking around Maple Grove. As I was doing it I got to thinking about life. This week I have pretty much gone to class and then come home and done nothing. Just sitting around, TV, blogging, some reading, some thinking, but pretty much nothing. And today I had some thoughts about it all.

As far as I can figure there are three three types of lives a person could live. You could be: 1) pleasure driven; 2) activity driven; 3) mission/cause driven. I'll comment about being pleasure driven today.

Pleasure Driven
This has been me this week. I have pretty much been abl…

knowledge doesn't mean action

I finally finished Miller's book today and find myself stirred in many ways. I started discussing some of the concepts with someone and discovered a few things over the course of conversation.

One thing I noticed is how willing people can in one breathe say 'Yeah that makes sense' but then finish with 'but...' and out rolls a defense of their old way of thinking. We acknowledge the new idea, but the need to protect and defend the old view is strong.

Here is what troubled me most about Miller's book. I found myself agreeing with much of his thought on social action and justice and loving people, but when I held that standard up to the light of my own behavior I was in trouble.

Healing racial injustice...I have one black friend. Loving homosexuals...I know none. Helping the sick and the poor...rarely. Loving the unlovable...I invite my best friends to my BBQ's.

I believe in the concepts. It is in living them out that things get grey.

props for my sister

My sister has created a blog for the kids and parents she works with at Maple Grove Covenant. She is doing a great job there and has a wonderful heart for the ministry. Check out her blogs and give her some feedback.

For the kids:

For the parents:

that's quotable

This is a pretty interesting quote. I see this sort of innovation for church and service ideas in my own life. It is in those out of office moments, in conversation and web surfing and many other places that ideas flow. The hardest part of the below comment is the remark about saying no to things.

I pulled it off a pretty cool blog by a guy named Tony Morgan. Check out his site.

"Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we've been thinking about a problem. It's ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea. And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We're always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it's only by saying no that you can co…

us v. them morality - stupid idea!

Currently Reading: Searching for God Knows What
By, Donald Miller

Donald Miller is rocking my world right now. I just read his chapter on morality. He says some amazing things. Listen to this:

Here is my position: As a Christian, I believe Jesus wants to reach out to people who are lost and, yes, immoral - immoral just like you and I are immoral; and declaring war against them and stirring (Christians) to the point of anger and giving (Christians) the feeling that their country, their families, and their lifestyles are being threatened is only hurting what Jesus is trying to do. This isn't rocket science. If you declare war on somebody, you have to either handcuff them or kill them. That's the only way to win. But if you want them to be forgiven by Christ, if you want them to live eternally in heaven with Jesus, then you have to love them. (pg. 188)

That is some powerful stuff. Too many Christians are into waging war against immorality in this world instead of simply loving people…

some thoughts on Christian obligation and Phil Jackson

So I'm sure many of you have heard about Phil Jackson coming back to coach the Lakers. He is going to be paid $10 million for one season. $10 million dollars! I am upset about this.

I never used to be so worried about social activism, but I am being moved more and more by the condition of this world. There is truly a spiritual dimension to our involvement in this world. An obligation to care for the world. Widows and orphans James says.

Think about how many kids could eat for $10 million?
How many pairs of shoes, shirts and pants could be purchased people who need them?
What kind of impact could be made in countries where water and farming are difficult?

The amount of money that people spend to watch sports is ridiculous. $10 million for one season! Come on. Jesus called people to a new way of living. Living that is selfless and that takes the call to redeem this world seriously. And you and I have a role to play. I have a role to play. And it is time to get serious.

incorporating kids into the worship service

There is nothing more fun than sitting in class while teacher and student debate about something that is irrelevant to the class topic - for 15 min. Luckily I have the internet!

Here is something I'm thinking about. How should kids (gr. 6 and younger) be included in the worship service? In/Out./Something combined?

Check out this link and let's dialogue:

why do I crave significance?

What is it that drives me to always feel the need to perform for people? My friend Joe tells me I have this 'strength' built into me that propels me to seek significance. This means I want to do big things and meet big people and be seen as big by others. Doesn't sound like much of a strength huh? More like a whole lot of pride and narcissism.
The goal I'm told is to do big things for God and to find my 'bigness' in him. That is tough. The desire for significance in others eyes creeps in so slyly. Last night I meet the teenage brother of a friend of mine. I think he is a seventh or eight grader. And yet, I still was trying to be funny so he'd think I was cool. Why do I want to be cool? Why do I want 12-14 yr. olds to think I'm cool?
Donald Miller says it is because ever since the garden people have been seeking approval from outside themselves. At first God gave that approval. But sin shattered that and now we seek fullness and approval from others. Makes…

trip update

I like to travel. Today I flew home to Minneapolis from Grand Rapids. It was actually pretty fun. I sat in Grand Rapids for a couple hours before flying to Cincinnati where I was supposed to change planes. There where some storms in the area and so my flight was delayed about an hour. But it wasn’t bad at all. I grabbed some Starbucks and some McDonald’s and just chilled with the ipod and a book.

On the flight to Cincinnati I might a nice women named Carmen. She was not feeling well because she is 9 weeks pregnant. We had a nice conversation about parenthood and what turned out to be mutual faith. I wasn’t eager to talk to anyone on the plane. That is just not my deal.

But I prayed that God would give me boldness to walk through any doors he opened for me. And so, I met Carmen. And at the end of the flight I was able to pray for her and her family. That was pretty cool. But I had this weird thought…how many people hope to be on a plane and to sit next to another Christian, rather than h…

trip update

We made it Michigan yesterday with no problems. We left home a bit later than we planned...4:22 instead of 4:00 am! But that worked great. Seeing the sun rise as we barreled across Wisconsin, with my beautiful wife sleeping next to me and Brian McLaren speaking to my soul through the technology of my ipod was sweet. It made the drive go so much faster.

Last night I played nine holes on this little course called Pipestone Golf Club. Pretty short course. I shot a 42, not bad, but I fluffed a few I shouldn't have. Today we played at Lake Michigan Hills. The course was wet and pretty tough. 51-52. It was a long day.

The best parts of the vacation so far have been walking along the river in St. Joseph with Stephanie and the kids, and laying out by the pool in the Fadel's backyard. It is good to chase Jacob around, play with the rubber ball, and hold Isabelle while she tries to suck on my face.

Today I was thinking about marriage. Tomorrow Robbie and Holly make the final decision to de…

off to michigan

My family and I will be traveling to Michigan tomorrow morning. We are leaving at 4 am to go and visit some friends. I am looking forward to having a chance to focus on my wife and kids. Even the drive will be fun.

I hope to play some golf, read a book and relax. Unfortunately I know not much of this will happen. I am officiating a wedding Saturday and then flying home Sunday night. Please pray for safe travel for us.

I have nothing profound left to write today. I just finished a paper on pain and suffering, and ironically, instead of feeling pumped up about it I feel sort of sad. That could be a combination of many things I guess. But I thought finishing school would be a greater high than this. Maybe I need to just give it time.

Anyway, if you read this an go to the Quarry I need some help from you. Leave me a comment with your ideas about how we can create more points of connections for people in our church. All we have no is small groups and service opportunities. What jumps to your …

Eulogy for Erin Corniea

This post is a eulogy of sorts. I have never given one of these before. Saturday I will be officiating my first wedding. Tonight I speak at my first funeral.

Today was Erin Corniea's last day in the office as Director of Worship Arts. She is no longer with us. The mother of one, with another to come any day, Erin has gone home to be with her family from Ecuador in Robbinsdale.

Only 22, soon to be 23, she leaves behind an Associate Pastor and his family who love her very much. She also leave behind a music team that will not be the same without performing the occasional offering song in Espanol. And she leaves behind a creative planning team that will just not be the same without her tired morning looks and quiet grunts while rubbing her eyes.

So young and so much to live for she was packed with talent. May God use her still untapped potential in a better place.

Good bye Erin. You will be missed.

erin, peter and d-man at a twins game last summer

thoughts on school and traveling pants, unrelated

Currently Reading
Is God to Blame?: Moving Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Evil
By, Gregory A. Boyd

Only a couple hundred more words and my paper is done. That is so exciting. I can't wait to get out of town for a few days to relax and play some golf. Today has been tough thinking about work and school and no wanting to do either. And I feel like I haven't seen my family for forever.

I went to a movie last night with Stephanie. We haven't connected much the last few days and I wanted to just hang with her so we went and watched The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This is not a movie for the tough guy who loves violence. But I actually enjoyed it.

The story line is about four teen girls who find a 'special' pair of pants they are sure will bring them good fortune over the summer while they are apart. In the end, each girl has some major realizations about life and their place in it. One girl finally deals with a dad who abandoned her, one girl deals with the suic…

life update

It is a beautiful sunny day and I am currently enjoying it through the glass window before me in the seminary library. It is crunch time right now, which is what always happens at the end of the semester.

I am working on a 4000 word paper with the topic of pain and suffering. How appropriate. It is causing me pain and I am suffering. But the light at the end of the master's degree tunnel is glowing brighter and brighter. In a couple days I will be free from my educational burdens and obligations and will have just enough time to take a breathe before a heaping scoop of ministerial ones are added on.

Ah, such is life. But I thank God for the blessings. The love of my wife and kids. The aroma of coffee. The taste of Blue Moon. The touch of Jesus giving me peace. The laughter and smiles of friends. The joy of seeing the sun set and the stars shine. Life is wonderful. Enjoy it.

God bless. Keep the revolution alive. BTB

story of revolution happening at the Quarry

Currently Reading: Searching for God Knows What by Donald MillerToday was an awesome day at the Quarry. Well actually it was an awesome day for the Quarry. We had a baptism service today at a lake. Four people were scheduled to be baptized, but when our pastor talked about the call to believe and be baptized, five more people responded and 'got dunked.' That makes 9 people in all declaring Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. It was sweet. Then we BBQ'd and played kickball.
The family of God is an awesome thing to be a part of. We celebrated and enjoyed what God is doing in the lives of people through our church. The Quarry exists to reach people with the Gospel and that is happening. Little by little, life by life, there is a revolution taking place in this world. God's kingdom is breaking into the darkness and rescuing people. And it is sweet.

having fun and being together

Tonight our staff all went out for dinner. We went to Maple Grove and ate. It was fun. There was quite a bit of laughing going on around the table. It is good to be together and laugh. It is hard sometimes to just relax and have fun. So often it feels like there is more to do, more stuff to get done. And what happens is we eliminate fun for the sake of work.

This is a picture of our Lead Pastor Michael and his wife. She is Philippino and an amazing cook. In the bottom of the pic is their newest baby...number 5! Her name is Atira, which is Hebrew for prayer I guess.

This is a pic of our Youth Pastor John and one of our musicians, Jason. I think they are discussing the differences between the modern and post modern approach to faith. Or maybe, they are trying to figure out if they should order the pot roast....which, by the way, they both did.

And this is my wife Stephanie and I. She is Hawaiian and an amazing woman. She surprised me early today with an ipod mini. I was pretty pumped. It i…

how will I be remembered

The frantic pace in which I life my life is scary. Seriously. I do way too much. And the problem is that I know it and keep doing it. I think I have a complex. Like the whole world will fall apart if I ceased to be a part of it. But what if I did? What if I ceased to exist...would anyone really miss me?

My family certainly would. My wife and my son and my daughter. They would miss me. And so would my parents. And possibly some friends, at least for awhile. But for how long? A couple months, or maybe even years, until life just sort of creeps in and over the memories and suddenly there isn't time for the dwelling on the past.

Isn't that what we say? Don't dwell on the past. But what about past relationships? I am the type who leaves past relationships in the past. I don't think about high school too much. I don't even want to. And I'm sure that in a couple years college will be much the same.

It's not that I didn't have a great time there. I did. I love the…

stuck in the kingdom of thingdom

Currently Reading
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian
Donald Miller see related

Here is a quote from the book I am reading that is actually pretty profound. The context of the quote is about how some people get overcome with the need to buy new things all the time. I get this urge sometimes, quite often actually, to be honest. Here is the quotation:

"The thing about new things is you feel new when you buy them, you feel as though you are somebody different because you own something different. We are our possession, you know. There are people who get addicted to buying new stuff. Things. Piles and piles of things. But the new things become old things so quickly. We need new things to replace the old things."