Wednesday, August 31, 2005

hurricane thoughts

Well, I think that just about everyone is putting something on their blog about Hurricane Katrina and the massive amount of destruction that has ensued. Over at Scott Hodge's blog are some comments that are exactly what I was thinking regarding the question of "what is an appropriate Christian response to such a tragedy." What should we... what can we do to represent Christ well in this situation?

(by the way, I recently connected with Scott live for the first time via Google Talk, he is a cool dude)

One form of action that might be appropriate can be found over on Sarge's blog. He posted a link to a church who is making an effort to bring hope and healing to so many broken people. Click here to see the church and to find out more about getting involved, Healing Place Church.

A good friend of mine named Joe Dworak over at Bethel Seminary has a pretty cool post as well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

something that bothers me

You know what I am curious about? I have wondered quite a bit why many large churches charge so much for their materials, when other churches could really be blessed and be a blessing in their communities if they used them.

Here what I mean:

Why do places like Granger Community Church, Willow Creek, North Point, or Fellowship Church charge people to download the weekly sermons? It seems like it should cost them next to nothing to record the message and put it up on the website. I know that I have grown so much from pastors like Perry Noble, Brian Tome, and Rob Bell, where I don't have to fork out $3-10 just for a message download.

I think churches who have been blessed by God with great amounts of resources and staff should let some of that blessing flow out to other churches who can't afford to pay $20 for a drama script or music chart. I mean come on, seriously? We are in this together, let's bless all other.

I just want to say thank you to Brian Tome at Crossroads Community Church for really getting me thinking about this idea. Hopefully some of the guys like Tony Morgan and Terry Storch will pick up on this post and give me a reply. I think we could be doing better, and I know the Kingdom would be better for it.

Monday, August 29, 2005

major soreness

Man, have you ever been beaten up so badly that you can barely move? Yesterday I pounded on myself like I haven't in awhile. Many of you know I am training for a marathon, and yesterday was the next step in my training. Just a short little 18 mi. jog. Yikes. That is by far the longest I have ever run and I am paying for it today. My calves and hamstrings just keep saying 'I hate you!"

The service went awesome yesterday. I spoke about making sure as followers of Jesus that everything we do represents him well. My main text was Colossians 3:17 -'whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Jesus Christ.' In the middle of the message we did a great drama (way to go Brandt, Justin and Jesse) based off Donald Miller's confessional booth story in his book Blue Like Jazz. We ended the service offering ourselves to Christ in prayer and singing Chris Tomlin's remake of the hymn Take My Life.

Update: Praise God! Jason and Janelle had their first child, a cute baby girl Sunday morning at 4 am by C-section! Please pray for Janelle's recovery and the continued health of the baby.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

bumblebeetuna are champions!

What a fun day today was! This afternoon the Quarry had a men's/women's sand volleyball tournament. The turn-out was awesome. But the best past was that my team won! Way to go Stephanie, Steph and Brandt. We started off slowly but then picked it up and won some great matches, including a 2-0 win over Pastor Michael's team that was a bit of a domination.

Anyway, if you were not there you missed out bigtime. Props to Jamie and Stephanie (my awesome wife and teammate) for setting it all up. I am still picking sand out of my eyes and ears.

By the way...
Stephanie's brother's wife (Jason and Janelle) is in labor with their first child today, and I am preaching tomorrow on the movie Kingdom of Heaven So if you have some prayer time happening pray for us. Thanks.

Friday, August 26, 2005

do people want to come back here?

You know something I like about Best Buy? They have this person who stands at a little desk right inside the door, and every time I come in they smile at me and say "Hi!" And then when I leave they say "Have a good one!" And they don't try to sell me anything or put any pressure on me. They just greet me and then say goodbye. And they make me feel comfortable to come back.

How many churches really make you feel welcome when you come and visit?

Last fall when I visited Eagle Brook I stopped by an informational booth to find out where to bring my son. Instead of just telling me where his class way, or showing me a map, the woman came out from behind the booth and walked me all the way to the room (which was quite a walk). And the whole time we talked about the church and her involvement with it and how much she loves Eagle Brook. I was super impressed by this. I would go back there. Just like I go back to Best Buy.

Does your church make people want to come back?

One thing the Quarry doesn't have is 'Goodbyers' (is that the opposite of Greeters?). I wonder how helpful it would be to have people hang at the exit door and just thank people for coming, or offer to help them get kids/gear to the car? I'll bet that would be huge for single mom's and others with big loads to carry out of church.

Did I stumble on something big here? What do you think?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

starbucks hates kids?

To what extent am I responsible to know the political agendas of the companies I buy product from?

I very, very rarely ever think twice or do any research of this type. But a recent article posted by Terry Storch has made me reconsider at least the amount of Starbucks coffee I consume.

Check out this article and let me know what you think.

Starbucks: A habit easily broken by Meghan Kleppinger

the big transition

We made a big move tonight, a major parenting transition...Jacob moved out of the crib and into his 'big boy' bed. It is almost unbelievable that this day is here. It comes so incredibly fast.

So far its going well, he is laying down and quiet as I type. One cool part of it all is that Jakey is sleeping in a bed I grew up sleeping in. For some reason that is really neat; its like a little part of me is still in there with him.

I am blessed to have two healthy kids filled with love and joy. I could never have imagined how amazing it is to be a parent. To watch your children grow and learn is something that can only be experienced, words are not adequate.

Monday, August 22, 2005

champs conversation

I had a sad moment today. I was sitting in the entranceway at Champ’s restaurant waiting for some friends to arrive and feeding Izzi a bottle. As I was sitting there I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a woman sitting at a table not far from me. She was on and off her cell phone constantly but smiling and looking happy. Then I overheard her talking with another woman about why she was having such a wonderful day.

Do you want to know the reason? Too bad…just kidding. Any guesses? It wasn’t because she had just got a promotion after all her hard work. It wasn’t because her child had made the Varsity football team. It wasn’t because she was just coming back from serving the poor. None of those things were even close.

The reason this woman was so happy was because 1) her home refinance was going through, and 2) the divorce papers were finally being processed. I was sad. Sad because she was happy to see a marriage end. Sad because the highlights of her day was saving a few bucks and getting rid of a spouse. Sure, I don’t know the whole story…but I don’t care….the whole deal just made me sad.

Luckily the rest of my day was great. Ask me about it if you care.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

my saturday

Today was a good day.

It started off at 6 am. I rode up to Mora with a friend who is a local pastor in my area. We went up there to run in the 24 annual Mora Half Marathon. I ran a reverse split and felt good running at the pace I am hoping to go for the Twin Cities Marathon in October. My finishing time was 2 hrs. and 2 min. Not bad for a guy like me.

Then I came home, got the family and we drove up to Lindstrom to visit our friends Corey, Andrea and Malia McKinnon. I played golf with Corey and Mike Frost and John Bradley (all Bethel hockey buddies) at Chisago Lakes Golf Course. We had a real fun time playing a scramble and my putting was on fire. Our -10 was even good enough to win the low score. It was good to spend time with all of them. Chad Anderson came up after golf and we all just hung out talking about life. It was fun and relaxing.

So that was my day. It was a good one. I hope your was too. Peace out.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

kids matter!

At Quarry Community Church we believe that kids matter. And with that in mind we will be rolling out a new Bedrock format this fall. In the nearly 5 years we have existed kids have always participated in the first twenty minutes of our service. At the announcement time they are released to go to their child-specific activities. But that is changing. Starting September 4 kids will be gone the entire hour.

Why? How can we do that? Don't we care about kids and families worshipping together? Yes we do. We wholeheartedly encourage parents and kids to spend M-Sat and all of Sunday except an hour worshipping together. Worship is a lifestyle, not a church experience.

Here are some of the main reasons we are making the change:

1. Being together all hour will give kids and adult leaders more time to process the lesson, participate in music designed for kids, and complete activities. We have been too rushed and, in the process, have sacrificed quality learning and growth.

2. Removing kids from the service will give parents the chance to be still and quiet before God without having to worry about distracting the people around them. Church services are designed to engage the hearts and minds of adults, not children. Why bore kids in parent church when just down the hall they could be experiencing dynamic, relevant and life changing ministry targeted specifically for them?

That's just a couple of reasons for the change. It is a big bold one, but it must be done and it is a win for both parties in the long run.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

customer service and church

Ok, I never really know what to blog about but I just had to say something about this. Customer service is everything. It is the difference between you getting my repeat business and you getting my absence. It is the difference between you getting my word of mouth recommendation and you getting my word of mouth condemnation.

Here's an example.

Sunday night a small group of us went to Applebee's restaurant in Buffalo and had 2 for 1 appetizers. On the way out I realized that Applebee's doesn't give you any mints. That is a bummer. I really wish they did that. I really like eating at places that do that. It is a small thing but it makes a difference, it leaves a mark that this place will go the extra mile to serve me.

Today I stopped by a pawn shop in town. While waiting to talk to the shop owner (who was the only one working while 7 or so customers roamed the store needing help) his 3 month old puppy was sitting at my feet biting me ankles and pulling at my shoes strings. How annoying is that?

It got me thinking...what do we do at the Quarry that serves our guests, and what do we do that is like a small dog biting people's ankles and annoying them? I am not going back to the pawn shop. And people will not come back to the Quarry if their experience is horrible. Customer service is huge and we should never kid ourselves into thinking its not.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

izzi update

It's all ready Tuesday. Man. Time goes by so fast sometimes doesn't it. Too fast.

Anyway, I spent 4 hours at Children's Hospital West today. Time did not go fast there. My 8 month old daughter Isabelle has a large bump on her head that is filled with fluid. She had a CT scan done and they told us she has a skull fracture. Kind of freaky. We think her injury may stem from when her 2 year old brother Jacob threw a large plastic Elmo sprinkler that Izzi while they were in the swimming pool.

Thankfully there should be no permanent damage. The poor girl had to be restrained though for the CT scan, and then again for twenty minutes while 30 skeletal x-rays were taken to make sure she has no other fractures. I think child services requires x-rays like this to screen for possible cases on abuse.

It was a hard day, especially for baby and mom. Praise God everything is going to be fine. Thanks to everyone fore your prayers.

my strengths - check 'em out

I have a lot to report so keep checking back for updates on the Quarry, Isabelle's skull fracture, my golf game, Jacob falling off the back of a counch, the leadership summit, and life.

But for now check out my Strength Finder profile on my friend Joe Dworak's blog. I left some comments there. Go read it and learn more about me.

Friday, August 12, 2005

quarry in the news

The service project we did on July 24 was not intended for publicity or marketing, but getting some for free never hurts. On Monday I met a woman at the Caribou in town and spent some time talking about what our church did that day and why we did it. It was pretty fun to be interviewed and I think the write up is pretty good.

The paper should be out now. To read the article online click, here

strength finder blog

I want to take a post to quickly let you know about a good friend of mine and what he is doing on his blog. Joe Dworak is a guru in administering and interpreting a leadership development tool called Strength Finder. On his blog Joe profiles different people and discusses how their strengths can best be used for God. I am being profiled anytime in the next few days so make sure to visit him and leave me some comments. OK? Peace.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

finding Jesus in hollywood

Tonight some friends came over and we watched this amazing movie called To End All Wars. The reason the movie was so amazing is because it has such powerful illustrations of Christian love, sacrifice and behavior.

The movie is based on a true story and it tells the account of some American POW's in a WWII Japanese prison camp in Thailand. There is a constant struggle in the movie which centers around justice, and revenge, and mercy, and hope, and love. The movie shows soldiers trying to decide how to live and treat the people who are enslaving them.

In one powerful scene, right before an American soldier (who was caught spear heading an insurgence) is beheaded, the man who acts like the camp pastor steps up and offers to take his place. The Japanese mock him by hanging him outside of camp on a cross to die.

And so I'm left thinking...who do I love enough that I would die for? Do I even love those closest to me enough, let alone someone with whom I disagree? Furthermore, I have to evaluate, does my life reflect the words and teachings of Christ? Or am I just a clanging symbol?

My Prayer: God fill my heart and mind with an awareness of the enormity of your sacrifice so that I may learn to love and serve the world like you did.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

leadership summit 2005

I didn't know for sure until today, but it turns out thatI am going to the Leadership Summit satalitte site at Eagle Brook Church in White Bear Lake. There is a great line up speakers this year and I am expecting to have my leadership batteries juiced up and recharged.

The Summit is so great for energizing me and reminding me of the vast importance of what I do. It is a place to connect with other people in the same game where we share stories and struggles and dreams and visions. It is an awesome three days.

Leading an organization can be exauhasting and the church is no exception. But the stakes are so high. The local church really is the hope of the world and I am blessed to give me life to it. There really is nothing I would rather do (except maybe play on the PGA - but that's it!)

I will be posting some highlights and would love to hear from you all on your journey's in leadership.

Monday, August 08, 2005

snapshots of Acts 2

Stephanie and I had some folks over today for grilling and hanging out. It was a blast to eat and celebrate life in community. If you are not experiencing this type of thing please find a group of people and plug in. Do whatever it takes. Life was not meant to be lived alone. After we ate lunch the guys went golfing at the Monticello Country Club. I made a 33 ft. birdie on number one and ended up shooting a 42. Peter Corniea's brother-in-law caddied for me and did a great job. I could get used to having a caddie.

People sort of came and went all day, and we didn't turn the lights off until about 12:45 am. I loved it all. The kids playing and crying and napping and yelling. People eating and laughing and telling stories. Jesus converstaions popping up all over the place. Man, this is how life is supposed to be lived.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

17 in 17 - way to go!

Yep, I am sore. (see previous post)

For the last 17 days our church has been in a mini funds drive. Our goal was to raise $17,000 in 17 days. We concluded the drive today and the numbers are looking great. After the service money was collected and we had over $15,000! Plus, there is probably some more to come in from people who were not there today.

The War of the Worlds message went well. We were situated in a large commons area because there is a community play happening in the auditorium and so the stage was not availabel to us. It was fun to be in a smaller venue though; the seats where filled and the atmosphere was a little more lively and loud. I know that eventually this will be our reality in the auditorium. It will be so full we'll need to add another service for more seats. And then a Saturday service. And more and more people will discover the joy of following Jesus and more and more families lives will be changed.

I am so excited to watch God work in this way and be a part of what he is doing at the Quarry. He is using our little Jesus community to redeem his awesome world, and it rocks that I get to be a part of it all.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

red sox lose

What a disappointment last night was. I took my kids and wife to the Twins/Red Sox game. Boston played horrible. They couldn't make a play to save their lives.

I went running today, a new personal best - 15 miles. I will be paying for that tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow...I am preaching on the movie War of the Worlds. My premise is that there is a war going on inside each of us, and that we need Christ to give us victory. See Romans 7 for more on that one. I will be using some Rob Bell stuff...he gave a money talk on this called 'My Other Me.' And by the way...I just finished his book, Velvet Elvis, and it was very thought provocative and spiritually uplifting. I liked it. Check it out.

Got to go, my wife and kids are waiting outside in the car for a Sam's Club run. Peace.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

random ramblings

I said goodbye today to my laptop which will be traveling to Chicago for repairs over the next couple weeks. I sort of felt like a piece of me was leaving. But the pain was short lived because now I get the church's PowerBook G4 to use. So its a pretty god trade.

Last night my wife was on the road in Fairbault, MN giving a Tupperware party ( the way, she made director, she rocks!...) and so I was home with Jacob. After we went to drop off the computer at Best Buy we went to Northwestern, a local Christian bookstore. I was blown away by a certain corner of the store that was just completly loaded with Veggie Tales stuff. They have Veggie everything; I felt like I was in Veggieland or something. Crazy.

Just got the new Rob Bell book, Velvet Elvis (check out the post below). I'll post some thoughts from it as they come up. So far I am resonating with much of the stuff Rob is saying.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

the wonderful world of wireless

This is kind of freaky. My daughter Isabelle was resisting sleep tonight so we hoped in the car for a little 10:30 pm cruise around town. I stopped by the church and picked up my laptop, thinking I might be able to post using the neighbors wireless. And no problem, here I am, sitting outside his house in the car typing this up.

I hope this doesn't show a lack of character on my part. Is it illegal to tap other people's wireless? I mean...I'm not hacking, more like borrowing a connection.

In Os Guinness' book Character Counts there is a line that says in many instances the prompting to do good, and the last barrier to doing wrong, is the same thing - character. He goes on to write about character as that part of a person that is central to who they are and what they do when no one is looking or when their guard is completely down. I want to be the type of person whose core is connected to Christ and so my life mirrors the way he lived his life.

Monday, August 01, 2005

christians with the gloves off

Man, sometimes I get so bumed out by the behaviour of my fellow Christians. Gary Lamb has put up a post regarding the current Amazon debates going on with reference to Rob Bell's new book Velvet Elvis. Why do Christians do such a horrible job treating on another with respect and love when doctrinal disagreements arise? It is gross they way we treat one another, and it is a sad testiment to the world.

To read the reviews click, here.

monday musing

An except from my message yesterday. It is a quote from a Russian Orthodox Priest named Aleksandr Menn who was murdered on September 9, 1990 in Moscow...

Why Christianity? Is it because of the sacred scriptures? No, every religion has sacred scriptures, and sometimes with a very high quality of spiritual content. . . .

Then why Christianity? Morality? Certainly. I am happy that in our society the high moral values of Christianity are accepted, but it would be totally erroneous to maintain that there are no moral values outside Christianity. . . .

Then why Christianity? Should we embrace . . . a position that God is revealed and therefore can be found in any kind of religion? No, because then the uniqueness and absolute character of Christianity will disappear. I think that nothing will prove the uniqueness of Christianity except one thing--Jesus Christ Himself.

That is powerful stuff. Hope you had a great weekend. It's good to be back. And it is also good that Manny is staying in Boston. Go Red Sox Nation!