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Showing posts from July, 2005

this would be bad, (update: scratch that)

Have you heard about this...Manny Ramirez wants out of Boston and he may be headed to the Mets.

Read the story, here

As I was typing this post ESPN came out with an update. Good news for Manny fans in Boston. Check it out, here

starbucks vs. caribou

So what do you think is better Starbucks v. Caribou? I prefer Starbucks personally. I sort of got hooked on it while I was stuck on lay over in the Cincinnati airport back in June. Unfortunately there is no Starbucks in Monticello.

Thursday I brought my old Starbucks cup to the Caribou drive thru and asked them to refill it. They didn't really think it was that funny, but they took my old cup and gave me a free Caribou so that was cool.

So which do you prefer? You could throw Dunn Bros. in the mix too.

some new technology

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It is now official. My cell phone is totally uncool and way out of date. I am a total techno loser. Check out this new gear from Motorola and Oakley:



Thanks to Anthony Coppedge for tuning me in to this.

Check out the press release, here

doing it 'my way'

My message on Sunday is going to be focused on Jesus as the "Way" to life. Part of it will be confronting the truth that most people never give Jesus a chance to lead because they are too busy trying to do things there own way; this attitude of individualism is perfidious exemplified in the lyrics of Frank Sinatra's song 'My Way':


And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit i…

being a leader v. doing leadership

Many people want to be a bigtime leader, but few people really want to do what a bigtime leader does. In chapter 10 "Being President Versus Doing President" Sample talks about how much of a leaders time get spent dealing with trivial ephemeral things.

One thing Sample talks about really got me thinking. He remarks about how many people bust their butt trying to get to the top of a organization (or a church, etc.) before realizing that they are constantly unhappy when they get there. This is because too many people think they are supposed to lead, when really they would be much happier (and successful) doing the things they really want to do and are really good at, instead of trying to be the 'top dog.'

This resonates with me. I could never have predicted how much time I have to spend subordinating the things I really want to do (or the things I am most interested in) because of the urgent needs and demands of the people that I lead. Leadership really is not glamorous. …

the result of average

Seth Godin had this to say on his blog:

Average is often the goal. Average rarely leads to growth.

Sadly this is an unintentional comment on what so often happens in the church. We settle for average services, drama, music and preaching and then we sit around and wonder why our churches don't experience growth.

I am not saying we need more show on Sunday. But we do need more people caring enough about the life changing message of Jesus Christ to put in the necessary effort to communicate such an unaverage message in a more than average way.

rob bell speaks

Teaching Pastor Rob Bell from Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI is the man. Check out a few things he had to say at a recent satellite training deal. Props to Mike DeVries for posting these notes.

Weekly teaching can be destructive to creativity.

I don't teach something that has not been a part of me for six months to a year. You need to live the text... let it ferment in your soul. People will know whether you have lived with the text. Think about it, if I asked you to talk about your wedding or something else that has changed you, would you really need notes?

The old way of teaching was to set aside a prep time and seek God to act in that moment. A new way of teaching is to let the text speak. Let God speak to you over time, then document how the text is being lived out in real life.

What would happen if on Monday morning you sat at your computer and instead of staring at blank screen, you're already looking at ten teachings that could take place and deciding which one …

truminian (and contrarian) leadership

Harry Truman once said something along the lines of this: the essence of leadership is getting others to willingly move in a direction that they are not naturally inclined to move on their own. This is especially necessary for people whose leadership field is ministry. Few people naturally move towards spiritual things.

In today's world there are numerous causes and leaders who compete for people's time and talent. Things that distract well meaning followers of Christ from bringing about his kingdom. Because of this inevitable drift towards the secular Christian leaders must have a clear and compelling vision for what God is calling his people towards. People who believe in the mission and vision will make great sacrifices for it. But if they don't believe in it, or they don't see the importance of it, they are out the door and on to something else.

One way to inspire people to accomplish spiritual mission is to treat them as the vital components to success that th…

what do I live for?

Tonight my wife and I rented Ladder 49 from the local McDonald's RedBox station. This is the best way to rent DVD's. Its cheap (only a buck a night!) and no membership fees, plus a reason to buy a medium dollar fry or an ice cream cone. Anyway...we watched it with our friends Darryl, Amy, Jesse, and Andrea.

The movie Ladder 49 (stop reading here if you don't want to know the end - though it is pretty obvious from the get go) is all about a guy (Joaquin Phoenix) who devotes all he is to saving people from fires. Rescuing others from death is what this guy lives and ultimately gives his life for. And sure the fires scenes get monotonous, but the movie makes me ask myself two questions: 'What do I really live for?' and 'Am I willing to give my all, my very life, so that someone else can life?'

Really, this movie is about what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. He willingly sacrificed himself so that I can be rescued from certain death (see Romans 3:23, 6:2…

way to go Quarry

Jesus was the ultimate servant. And as his followers we want to follow in his footsteps. Today the people of the Quarry proved once again that God is doing something unique and awesome in the hearts of his people. I am proud to serve and lead in this church.

Instead of listening to me talk about serving today our community gathered in the school lobby and bagged rice. For 45 minutes children and parents worked side by side, packing a crazy total of 17,496 meals, which will be shipped to the children and families of Indonesia and Somalia through Feeding Child International and Church World Services.

Big props to:
Jeff B., Scott B., Daryl B., John and Kris R., all our nursery and Pebbles people, and Kids Against Hunger for setting the whole thing up and brining the project to us

PS- Even though I cruised around sipping Caribou I was heavily involved in the process. So everyone who was 'chirping me,' as my bro would say, can take a deep breath and just relax :)

alone with the kids

I just have to start this post by saying that I am married to the most amazing woman in the world. For those of you who don't know, my wife Stephanie has spent the last three days in Las Vegas for a business convention, leaving me at home with our kids (Jacob - 22 months, Isabelle - 8 months). Stephanie is a regional Tupperware Sales Director who is awesome at what she does (ps. if you have any Tupperware needs, or if you want to have a real fun time hosting a party drop me a comment).

Spending the last few days with my kids has been great, but it is tough. Things are different. Now, instead of Stephanie, I am the one getting out of bed at night to get the bottles warmed up. Now I am the one driving around the neighborhood so the kids will sleep and now I am the craving quiet and adult conversation.

There have been some real fun times too. Last night the three of us went to Maple Lake to watch a friend play some town baseball. That was really fun. Jacob wore his A-Rod jersey and …

more contrarian leadership advice

About two weeks ago a South American friend of mine told me that my blog reads like a newspaper. I was not happy about that but I can understand the statement. So I am revamping my comments on Sample's leadership book.

"Work for Those Who Work for You" is the title of chapter 8. This chapter focuses on the idea that a great leader spends much of his time making sure the people who work for him succeed. This makes sense and has huge implications for church ministry.

If a leaders followers are encouraged, equipped, and energized they will do good work and the leader will look good. The majority of people who serve in a church are volunteers, and too often the church doesn't do a good job of encouraging, equipping and energizing these people. Right now our church office is too small and the computers are too old. This is not a good environment for volunteers to succeed.

Working for the people who work for you means promptly returning calls and emails, being availab…

faith in action

On Sunday July 17 the Quarry kicked off a 17 day challenge to raise 17,000 dollars. We laid out 200 hundred water bottles on stage and asked people to come forward and take a water bottle with the intention of filling it with $100. The response was amazing. The people of the Quarry stepped up big time. It will be awesome to watch God move in the hearts of people in this Jesus community. Here is one story that has been posted on the Quarry Talk board.

Just wanted to share a story about God's faithfulness in my life. Last Sunday the Quarry challenged the church family to help erase a debt by filling 200 water bottles with $100 each... my husband and I struggled to know how many water bottles we could afford, eventually we settled on one more than we thought was possible for our current financial situation - trusting God would provide. I say "trust" with a bit of hesitancy because I went home Sunday night and fretted about how we were going to afford to give what we promi…

a contrarian's guide to leadership - pt. 7

Chapter 7 is entitled 'Know Which Hill You're Willing to Die On.' I have always heard this saying used with regard to which battles you want to fight with others. But Sample uses it in regard ethical leadership and morality. He has some interesting things to say. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Once a leader has determined how far he will go or bend with regard to a particular situation or ethic he should keep it to himself. Sample says that a bit of discretion about one's inner self is always the better part of valor.

2. Every leader needs to know where his ethical convictions come from. One step towards accomplishing this is to ask one's self "How do I feel about God?," because essentially no one really believes in mechanistic determinism.

3. Develop and hold your own moral convictions, while being as open as possible to the strongly held moral beliefs of others.

Ethical leadership is extremely important. As corporate American models for us, decisions…

leadership insight

Do you struggle with how to get everything done in ministry that you feel like you need to get done? I am feeling this even more now that I am done with seminary than before. Here is something I just read that seems to make some sense. It is in an article by H. Dale Burke.

Burke recommends using a '4 R' system for time and ministry allotment. His '4 R's' are:

1. Rest time - focusing on my spiritual and marital health
2. Results time - focusing on the main things God has for me personally in advancing his mission
3. Response time - focusing on administration and following up with others who need my input
4. Refocus time - focusing on evaluating what my priorities should be

I will be trying out some of this in the future.

that's quotable

I just finished reading Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy. I really enjoy reading McLaren's stuff. I think his ways of thinking about Christianity and faith in our cultural context and world are fresh, logical, and compelling. His challenge to rethink how we as followers of Jesus live, think and act has profound implications for the future of Christianity. We cannot just blindly continue with former ways of ministry and doctrine without engaging our cultural context. This is a great quote from the end of the book:

To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have the truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall. It is rather to be in a loving (ethical) community of people who are seeking the truth (doctrine) on the road of mission (witness) and who have been launched on the quest by Jesus, who, with us, guides us still.

a contrarian's guide to leadership - pt. 6

Chapter 6 is entitled "Give the Devil His Due." No, this isn't some chapter on spiritual battles or anything like that. It is actually a reflection on some of the leadership principals that can be drawn from Machiavelli's The Prince. I've read the book. There are many leadership lessons in it, though not all applicable today, especially for church ministry. But here are the chapter highlights:

1. Check out pages 96-97 for a long bullet point list of Machiavelli's most cogent and controversial points.

2. Machiavelli believed that it is all right for a leader to be either loved or feared but that he must not be hated. If the leader has to choose between the first two, it is better to be feared than loved.

3. The failure of a leader to set and enforce rules out of a desire to incur the affection of his followers can bring that leader ruin in a hurry.

4. Machiavelli advises leaders: don't humiliate an opponent unless you're sure you are able, and want, to eli…

a contrarian's guide to leadership - pt. 5

Chapter 5 is entitled "Decisions, Decisions." The main point of this chapter is how good leaders make decisions. Sample gives two main pieces of advice in this chapter.

1. Never make a decision yourself that can reasonably be delegated to a lieutenant.
2. Never make a decision today that can reasonably be put off to tomorrow.

The rest of the chapter expounds on these two principles. Here are some of the highlights:

1. A leader must reserve the very most important decisions for himself and delegate the rest. This helps to develop strong and mature lieutenants.

2. The leader must make the decisions that have the greatest potential impact for the organization or movement he is leading.

3. While sound judgment must be used, a considerable amount of decisions must be made with the understanding that luck plays a role in the final outcome.

What principles guide you when you make decisions? Any thoughts...

golf and church

Congratulations to Tiger Woods for winning major number 10 and completing his second Grand Slam. He is easily the most dominate player in golf and quickly become the best of all time.

I played today at The Links at North Fork. It was hot and windy but I played pretty well. I shot 50-43=90. My new driver (330cc Cleveland Launcher, stiff shaft, 8.5 loft) worked out great. The course was pretty dry but still nice. My threesome had no one in front or behind us which was great.

The message at Buffalo E. Free went well. The people didn't laugh as much as I hoped, but they were very kind and I think what I had to share was relevant and meaningful. Being somewhere else really makes me appreciate the uniqueness of what God is doing at the Quarry and reminds me how lucky I am to be a part of it.

traveling man

I am preaching at Buffalo Evangelical Free Church tomorrow. It should be a fun experience. The message is looking at Genesis and chronicling the story of how humanity has gotten so messed up and far from the beauty and wonder that God created it for. It will be fun to preach in front of people I don't know, but I will miss my Quarry community.

I could never understand how people could so easily decide to skip church on the weekend. I love going to church and being with the people there. Nevermind that I am the pastor. Many times Sunday is the only time I have to be with people I don't see during the week. And the only time I have to sing praises to God and be taught about his word. How could anyone miss that!

PS - Did anyone see the Red Sox game on Friday! And, go Tiger!

i hate the doctor

I went in to have a physical today. I may never go back. I hate the doctor.

They made me sit there for nearly 1.5 hours before I finally saw the guy. He then went on for 20 minutes asking me random questions about dizziness, and bowel movements, etc. Don't they think I would come in for that reason if I had that problem? Then he lectured me about not wearing my seatbelt enough. You'd think he wouldn't mention it and go for more business.

Then I went to get blood drawn. Except I was lucky enough to have blood drawn from both arms because the guy said my left vain was too small. I think it was really because he was from Queens and I made the mistake of telling him I was a big Red Sox fan.

But everything checked out OK and I have the green light for my marathon.

PS - Tiger is going to win the British Open. That guy is something else!

a contrarian's guide to leadership - pt. 4

Chapter 4 is entitled "You Are What You Read." I was excited about this chapter. Unfortunately the majority of it was spent discussing the importance of reading what Sample calls 'super texts.' These are texts that have withstood the test of time and are being read hundreds of years after they were originally written. Here are some highlights:

1. A leader's time is so limited it forces him to make exclusionary choices as to what he will read. Therefore a leader must choose wisely.

2. A leader should maintain his intellectual independence by never letting someone else choose his reading for him, and by reading things across a wide spectrum of topic and genre.

3. Sample suggests creating a spectrum with regard to value/worth of various reading materials. He placed things like newspapers and periodicals on the far left, and the supertexts on the far right. Newer books and bestsellers go towards the left, and older books and biographies head to the right.

There are …

a contrarian's guide to leadership - pt. 3

Chapter 3 is entitled 'Experts: Saviors and Charlatans.' The title was a lot more intriguing than the chapter itself which dealt mainly with experts in science, technology, and the law. There were a few things that are helpful. Here are the highlights:

1. To paraphrase philosopher Eric Hoffer: a leader should pay close attention to experts but never take them too seriously, and should never trust them completely.

2. Warren Bennis says an expert should be a 'deep specialist' offering greater insight than a leader in one or a small number of areas. Conversely a leader should be a 'deep generalist,' being sufficiently broad so as to be able in integrate the advice of several expert into a coherent course of action.

3. Know ahead of time what you hope to expect from an expert. Develop trust and mutual sympathy between the two of you. And demand that the expert be able and willing to explain everything he is doing and plans to do in terms you can understand.

4. Never…

fun game to play quick

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Check out this game I linked to from Scott Hodge's blog. It is based on Google image searching.

I didn't do that great. 204. Try and beat me and then come back and tell me about it. Be careful though, you might get addicted.

a contrarian's guide to leadership - pt. 2

Chapter 2 is entitled "Artful Listening." Here are the highlights:

1. A contrarian leader is an artful listener not because it makes people feel good (though it does), but rather because artful listening is an excellent way of acquiring new ideas and gathering and assessing information.

2. Artful listening enables a leader to see things through the eyes of his followers while at the same time seeing things through his own unique perspective - a process Sample calls 'seeing double.' Leaders must be able to hold these two perspective simultaneously, listening to what others say without compromising personally held convictions and creative judgment.

3. When it comes to elected and appointed advisory boards, the main challenge for a leader is figuring out for whom they really represent and for whom they can credibly speak. Similarly, unsolicited advice must be wisely considered. Often unsolicited advice can provide a leader with an opportunity to learn something but it can …

sheep at the middle school

Taking a page out of the Rob Bell playbook Quarry Community Church brought a life sheep on stage today. The message was about Jesus as the 'Good Shepherd' (John 10) and to liven things up I stood on stage dressed as a shepherd holding a leash with a sheep attached to it.

things went well with only a small urination and bowel movement. They easily cleaned up and provided some comedic relief for the congregation. Michael gave a great message on Christ as the shepherd and wrapped it up with the picture of Jesus in John 21 passing the shepherding responsibilities to Peter. He challenged the people of the Quarry to shepherd our community and to carry the bright love of Jesus Christ into a dark and hurting world.

People will remember this Sunday for a long time. It is fun to be part of a church will to take risks and be creative for the purpose of advancing the kingdom.

a contrarian's guide to leadership

I am started to read this book called A Contrarian's Guide to Leadership by Steven Sample. The first chapter is called "Thinking Gray, and Free." Here are some highlights:

1. Leaders think differently from people around them. In particular, such leaders are able to maintain their intellectual independence by thinking gray, and enhance their intellectual creativity by thinking free.

2. The essence of thinking gray: don't form an opinion about an important matter until you've heard all the relevant information, arguments and facts, or until circumstances force you to make a decision. (this is the opposite from black-and-white, right-or-wrong thinking) Thinking gray is a skill that needs to be practiced and developed because it is contrary to the way most people make up their minds about things.

3. The essence of thinking free: allow your mind to contemplate really outrageous ideas, and only subsequently apply the constraints of practicality, legality, cost, ethics, ti…

stuff that makes ministry tough (for everyone)

Disclaimer: every so often I am going to be posting on the challenges that people face when they do ministry. I am going to be drawing from my personal experience and from the array of experiences others have had and have shared with me in conversation. This is not in any way intended to be a grip list about my church community or the Christian community at large.

Disclaimer #2: this list should in no way be taken to indicate my personal level of satifactsion in my ministry setting or calling. It is simply a way to put issues out there for us as a community of bloggers and blog readers to begin thinking about and discussing. My aim is to strengthen and enrich people's thinking and leading until we begin to view all of life as an experience of ministry and mission.

The first thing that gets in the way of my ministry effectiveness is what I want to call the 'mundane life stuff'. I know this is one that trips up many of us. Our good intentions get crowded out by sick kids, hous…

welcome to Gmail

I am officially welcoming myself to Gmail welcoming all of you to update your address books and start contacting me at brentonbalvin@gmail.com.

I love so much of what Google does and Gmail is just the next step. One cool feature that I am excited to begin using is the search tool that Gmail offers. I can type in a concept I am looking for and Gmail will search all my archived emails to find it. Looks great. There are many other tools offered by Gmail that I can't find anywhere else also.

I have used Hotmail for quite awhile but I am going to start making the switch. It is sort of sad in a way. I am the type of person that likes to stick to the stuff I know. But I am ready to make this change.

church at the campground

Sunday morning we held our worship service at a local campground. It was fun. The rain held off and the sun actually began to shine later in the day. We brought the sound system so the music was loud and great. Then I spoke on Jesus as the vine in which we as his followers need to remain if we want to truly have life and bear fruit.

How do you remain in the vine:
1. Spend time with Jesus
2. Look for God interrupting your day
3. Join with him in doing his work
4. Live a life characterized by love of God and love of others

I know that God is advancing his kingdom and changing lives at the Quarry. Sunday was a day for us to celebrate that and to enjoy all the different people we made up the Quarry community. I am sorry for anyone who missed it. It was a great day. I love this church and, most importantly, I love Jesus.

Any other stories or thoughts from the 'Church at the Park?'

a few updates

We are supposed to have our church service at a local campground today. It has rained all night and is still raining 2.5 hours out from the service time. We'll see how it goes. Come on Lord stop the rain. I know you can.

Yesterday I ran a new personal best for distance: 10 miles. It took me an hour and forty minutes, so not the fastest but I was just happy to make it out alive and not have to walk. I am paying for it today though as I am a little sore.

Played golf on Friday at Silver Springs with Michael. I played pretty well. I am just missing the consistency that is necessary to lower my scores, especially with the driver. I just cannot hit that thing! I am taking offers on a Cleveland Launcher 400. It is under two years old. Leave me a comment if you're interested.

Took a reading quiz yesterday. That means I have only have two papers to write before I get my diploma from Bethel Seminary (M.Div. NT concentration). Then I have the rest of my bill to pay off.

Hope you are all doin…