Showing posts from December, 2005

listening to others well

Grace Janzten, commenting of the life of Julian of Norwich, regarding one of the tasks of an anchoress(ancient spiritual practice where a woman would lock herself voluntarily in a small room for prayer, contemplation, solitude, and occasional counseling of visitors to the cell) writes,

"To be able to listen effectively and sympathetically in this way without allowing her own preoccupations to determine what she heard would require much inner quietness and discipline, the ability to be fully available to listen, without being mentally involved with other concerns. It would also take a great deal of grip on herself for the anchoress not to yield to the sense of urgency and offer hasty 'solutions' which might give immediate relief, but would only cover over the wound instead of allowing the gentle though painful process of prolonged exposure and healing....Considerable humility would be required of the anchoress to desist from applying remedies, which, even if they were the r…

re-framing negative emotions in our minds

Anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, worry. These are all states of mind that people experience over the course of life. Occasionally this is good.

Anger can lead us to right something that is unjust or wrong; look at the ancient anger of Jesus Christ at the misuse of the Temple, or look more recently at the positive result of the shared anger of people joining forces against the sub-human treatment of African Americans in the 1960s.

Worry can also be good. Worry and anxiety prompt us to think through our actions, to count costs, and to consider what negative consequences may come as a result of our behavior. Worry can drive a mother to protect a child from a spreading cold at school, or it can compel a man to have a doctor look at the growing mole on an arm.

Even sadness has its benefits, as it causes us to slow down from the normally horrid pace of life that we lead. This slowing creates a pause in life that can be used for reflection, remembrance, and grief.

But, too often, these mental sta…

what I'm thinking about at 1:15 am

Thomas a Kempis asks the question:

"A clean, pure and constant heart is not broken or easily overcome by spiritual labors, for he does all things to the honor of God, because he is clearly mortified to himself. Therefore, he desires to be free from following his own will. What hinders you more than your own affections not fully mortified to the will of the spirit? Truly nothing more."

I don't really want to comment on this anymore than to ask you to please read it again and really think about it. Especially the bold part. This is 'spiritual meat' that we all need to be chewing on way more than we do.

minnesotians love their coffee

My friend signed my email up for Dunn Bros. fanchising information. Here are some stats they emailed me:

The Minneapolis/St. Paul market is the 6th largest coffee shop market in the United States (in actual number of units open - NPD Group research - Nations Restaurant News - March 2005). With approx. 60 Starbucks (non-franchise), approx. 130 Caribou Coffee (non-franchise), approx. 40 Dunn Bros Coffee (yes, you can own one of these), plus many independents, Minneapolis/St. Paul is a highly competitive coffee house market!

I have probably been in 1/6 of these. Crazy. That leaves quite a few to visit.

creatures of habit never change

This is a quote from Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence

"The underlying basis for our level of ability [re: emotional intelligence] is, no doubt, neural, but as we will see, the brain is remarkably plastic, constantly learning. Lapses in emotional skills can be remedied: to a great extent each of these domains represents a body of habit and response that with the right effort, can be improved on."

I believe that most people have no idea how habitual they are, and yet it is our habits that largely determine who we are. To change something about ourselves (if we even notice that a change is necessary, which is a rarity in itself) we have to change our habits. We have to be intentional about self-reflection and redirected behavior.

laundry is fun

If you don't know Isabelle Balvin then you probably have no idea what a sweet, beautiful, strong-willed, little terror she is! Last night was one of those nights that make you question ever having kids in the first place. I guess the positive is that I discovered we are now getting the Fox News channel and that it has pretty good programming from 2-5 am.

The thing about Izzy though, is that during the day she can melt your heart with a smile, a wet kiss and the exclamation 'Dada!'

This afternoon we were having some fun with the laundry...and no Grandma(s) I didn't really run the machine!

is that sidney crosby?

Today I took Jacob ice skating for the very first time. He is 2 years old and some change with a little pair of Bauer skates that his mom got at the thrift store. We headed out to the local rink and took his first strides towards superstardom.

It was fun and Jacob really liked it. He would probably still be skating if my back wasn't hurting so much from holding him up. Now he keeps asking, 'Hockey skate again Daddy?'

Look out Sidney, it won't be long! (is there a ban in the NHL on pacifiers...because Jacob could be in trouble if there is!)

a SportsCenter reminder

The Christmas season in the Tony Dungy household will forever be plagued by the memory of their son's death. To read more about it, click here.

I was watching some discussion on SportsCenter this morning and the commenter inadvertently made a remarkable observation. He said, "Last week all Tony Dungy had to worry about was going 16-0 and having a perfect season. Now all of that couldn't matter less."

We are promised not tomorrow. The Bible makes it clear that our days are like a vapor, a blowing wind, the blink of an eye. You and I have no guarantee that we will be here another day, yet alone another minute.

So live well this Christmas Eve. Stop spending time fighting with family and enjoy one another. Be gracious to strangers, patient with kids (and in-laws) and intentional about passing on the blessing and love of Jesus Christ to anyone you can.

Merry Christmas Eve!

an eight-dollar bed

A friend of mine sent me the link to this article and I want to share it with all you. It will only take a minute to read (maybe 3 if you read slow) but it is a great article that deals with homelessness, faith, and life. Maybe some of us [Christians] need to rethink the criteria we use when we show God's love to the world. Read this and you'll know what I'm talking about.

I should warn some of you though that the writer uses the word 'damn' once. Hope you can read through it to the heart of the article.

Link: "An Eight-Dollar Bed"

positive fear as it relates to faith

Got this from Seth Godin's blog.

In the following riff from Jarvis on BuzzMachine, just replace [the newsroom] with the name of your organization.

The first job is to instill fear in [the newsroom]. Oh, there's fear there now. But it is fear of the unknown. What we need is fear of the known: the facts about falling readership and advertising and the reasons behind both and about new competition. Fear alone won't lead to a strategy, of course. But until there is an imperative to change inspired by that fear, it won't be possible to move past the complacency and resistance that populate so many newsrooms now. In later posts, we'll look at means to replace fear with excitement about new opportunities. But first things first.

A couple days ago I talked about the positive power of fear, which I called the Power of Action. In this post the point is that having a healthy sense of fear motivates people to act. This is why intelligent people stop smoking when they find lump…

relationally mature conversations

I had a wonderful conversation tonight after everyone left and the craziness of small group ended. The best way for me to describe it is 'relationally mature.'

I would define a relationally mature conversation like this:
relationally mature: adj. meaning... "sharing the details and doubts and struggles of our lives with people we love and being open to learning and changing from their input"

I want to do more of this (especially with this person.)

the power of fear

I was talking with a woman a couple weeks ago about the power of fear. We were discussing the positives and negatives of using fear to motivate children to behave in a certain way. Last night the topic of fear came up again, this time because of some circumstances in my own life, and so I've been thinking a lot about the power of fear.

The way I see it fear has two kinds of power, one positive and one negative (by saying that fear has power I am arguing that the emotional feeling of fear inside us has the ability to make us respond in a physical way). The positive power of fear might be called the Power of Action. Feelings of fear can move us to act, to respond, to do something. If I am afraid of a creepy looking person I will walk away. If I am afraid of being punished for my bad behavior I may choose to act differently. If I am afraid getting sick I may not drink the week old milk.

Conversely, the negative power of fear might be called the Power of Paralysis. Sometimes when peopl…

Quarrier of the Week

I have to say that I am excited about naming this person as Quarrier of the Week. The QotW is a young woman I have known for the last couple years and she is someone I interact with almost daily. She is my neighbor and friend, Amy Becker.

Amy has an amazing story that I will summarize here only by saying that God has done wonderful things in her life to protect her and call her to his side. It has been a gift for my wife and I to meet and share our lives (and refridgerators) with Amy and her husband Daryl. Amy was baptized at the Quarry last year and has been growing in her relationship with God. She is an intelligent and hard working woman who loves to shop!

Last week Amy spear-headed an effort to purchase poinsettias and bring them to the residents of a local nursing home. She contacted the home, rounded up friends and other Quarriers and spent a couple hours bringing some hope and joy to a place that needed it. The coolest part of it all is that Amy did this out of response to what…

its all about how you frame your invites

I get email updates from Bill Hybels every so often (ok, me and 30,000 other people) and this one struck me. In the email Bill talks about a recent trip to Africa where he realized clearer than ever the need for the church to take a leading role in eliminating the worlds poverty, AIDS and hunger. But the part of the email I want to share is his call to Willow people to invite neighbors, co-workers and friends to church. Read this:

This weekend I will be video casting from Zambia at each of our weekend services. Gene and my wife Lynne will be hosting the service and the entire Willow family will be asked to take the next step in our engagement with the largest humanitarian crisis in world history. Can I ask a favor? Invite 10 people from your workplace or neighborhood to come with you.Don't make the ask on the basis of simply inviting them to church. Take another approach. Try saying, "Hey, this weekend I am going to an event that will help me get smarter about the larges…

the daily cell

This is a new tool for discipleship that I haven't seen anywhere else. It is something being done by Dave Ferguson and the people at Community Christian Church.

Mark- you should really dig this for your redeeming technology thoughts)

The idea is called The DailyCELL. Basically, it is a subscription service where people receive on their cell phones a 2 minute message each week that delivers the Big Idea of the message.

This is a pretty cool way of reinforcing the main point of the message and helping people keep focused on what they are learning during the week. CCC also does 'short films' where the recap the Big Idea in video form. You can watch them by clicking here.

What do you think? (esp. all you Quarriers) Do you like it? Would you use it?

the heartfelt prayer of a 2 year old

I have been meaning to post this for the last couple weeks....

I was praying with our 2 yr. old son a couple weeks ago before he went to bed, when he informed me that he wanted to pray himself. So I guided him through the process, prompting him to say thank you to God for certain things. This was his list:

- Izzy (sister)
- Mom
- Devin Corniea
- Jaden C.
- Erin C.
- Peter C.
- Chicken Nuggets
- Dip

It was so funny and cute. Those are all the things he loves the most (though I was suspiciously left off the list).

Tonight Stephanie, Jacob and I are going to the Minnesota Wild hockey game. Should be really fun. Jacob loves hockey.

Have a great weekend.

the kill of anticipation

I believe that our experience of life is enhanced when we live with the thrill of anticipation present. However, it would be unfair of me to not mention the kill of anticipation. Going back to the Christmas gift analogy, who hasn't opened a box they thought was one thing, only to find something else inside. It is hard to hide your feelings when your hoping for an iPod Nano and Santa brings you a portable 8 track player.

When we put too much emotional energy into the anticipation of wrong things we are setting ourselves up for disaster. Too many times have I heard people complain 'He didn't even notice my hair cut' or 'She doesn't even care that I got the car's oil changed.' The thrill of anticipation, when projected onto the responses and actions of other, is a dangerous emotion, because no one is ever as excited about something as we are. And if you're married to a good faker - congrats.

This is really why only God can satisfy us. I know it sounds cl…

the thrill of anticipation

Remember when Christmas morning was fun? I mean, back when you were a kid and you didn't know already know that your gifts consisted of little more than a Starbucks giftcard and a new pack of white socks. Oh, the thrill of anticipation, the excitement of ripping open the paper and seeing what new thing there was to play with; I would sleep downstairs by tree, get up early and drive my parents crazy begging for the time to come when we would open presents.

Somewhere I've lost the thrill of anticipation for Christmas. Maybe its because I'm older or maybe its because I get the stuff I asked for and so there's no surprise, but either way I've lost something that I used to experience.

I was reading the birth narrative in Luke recently and was struck by the quiet stories (at least in my circles) of Simeon and Anna. We don't talk about them much at Christmas, but their stories are stories of anticipation. They were awaiting a Messiah, the consolation of Israel, and they…

250th post

Wow, this is my 250th post since I started blogging. Pretty amazing. I love the chance blogging gives me to express some of my thoughts and to connect with people. I have met some cool pastors and church leaders, as well as people from a host of other professions. Now I feel like I have friends all over the country.

Many of you have blessed me and my church community by allowing me to steal your creative ideas or by providing content that makes me think and stretch and grow. I appreciate it. It is sweet to see the Kingdom of God expanding and functioning as one global body. Some special thanks to Scott, Mark, and Ben. Keep it rocking guys.

Quarrier of the Week

Due to many different things I didn't recognize anyone last week, but all is well because this week's Quarrier of the Week deserves a couple weeks recognition anyway. His name is Curt Abfalter, and unless you have been directly introduced to him you may not even know him. Curt is one of the most humble and faithful servants of God at the Quarry. He has been the guy who has built most of our sets, including the Easter bridge, the September garage, and the Narnia wardrobe.

Curt is a wonderful guy who loves God and loves people. He comes early each week and quietly helps set up our musical equipment and staging. He is trustworthy and reliable. Curt and his wife and daughter are major blessings to our church and to many families in our church community. Because of his huge heart, faithful service, and shiny bald head Curt Abfalter is my easy choice as Quarrier of the Week.

traditional service? yeah right!

We had an awesome church service today with many arts ministries out doing themselves as we wrapped up a two part Narnia series.

The worship set was great (way to go Erin and band) with some sweet Christmas songs that totally didn't sound like stale old Christmas songs. They rocked.

We had a custom built Wardrobe (thanks Curt and Ben) on stage with a Christmas (or should I say 'holiday') tree and a lamp post.

We also has two propane heaters blasting hot air at a 5 gallon block of ice that had a tulip frozen in the middle of it. The goal was to create the image of melting ice and the coming of spring.

Our pastor gave a message on the return of Aslan and what his sacrifice entailed. In order to illustrate how sin grabs us he had me come on stage with some wrestling mats and he put me in some old wrestling moves. He is no Hulk Hogan but I surely wasn't going anywhere. Ah, the magnanimous sufferings I go through for that man's illustrations. They have no end. (:

living a life that calls others to respond

Read this on Seth's blog. Loved it. I want to be this kind of a person.

Every once in a while, you work with someone who carries a distortion reality field, someone who impacts everything he touches, causing it to respond.

What really hits me is the part where he writes about causing others to respond. Does my preaching do that? Does my behavior do that? Does my faith do that? yes. yes. yes.

The question is more along the lines of what kind of response I elicit. A positive one or a negative one? Do people move closer to God or further from him?

Just questions...not many answers.

wearing turtlenecks in summer

Thanks to some messing and wrestling around at home this morning I ended up with a big welt on the back of my neck. It looks kind of weird, and I'm only writing about it here so that people at church tomorrow won't be wondering things. But it makes me think...

Remember the kids in junior high who would show up at school in May wearing a turtleneck? I don't know how their parents didn't suspect anything (or maybe they did but just didn't know what to do about it) because everybody in class knew. No one wears a turtleneck when its 70 degrees unless their hiding something; that something being the result of a bad decision that they had made, doing something they shouldn't have been doing.

Isn't that the way it always seems to work? When we make bad decisions we get busted. That has always been my experience. Everytime I have tried to do something that I shouldn't I get caught. I think that God has something to do with this. Like he loves me enough to disci…

what? no church on Christmas Day?

We decided to not have church service at the Quarry on Christmas Day. Many other churches across the nation did so as well.

What is amazing is that the decision, most markedly by several notable mega-churches to take Christmas Day Sunday off, has sparked quite a bit of controversy and discussion. To read more about it check out all the articles in national newspapers on Google News or read the post on CT's News weblog.

To me, arguing that churches should never take a Sunday off effectively equates Sunday as some 'special' day for Christians to be together. But no matter how hard I look I can't find any Scripture verses that say 'thou shalt meet every Sunday morning.' Is that like the 11th Commandment, did I just miss that seminary class?

In the Letter to the Hebrews Christians are encouraged to 'not give up meeting together.' However, I don't think that closing the church doors on Christmas Day should set off any alarms in that regard. In fact, what …

what color should your blog be?

Thanks to Chris and Chad for pointing me to this little test. Funny that my blog is actually green. How does your results compare to your blog?

Your Blog Should Be Green
Your blog is smart and thoughtful - not a lot of fluff.
You enjoy a good discussion, especially if it involves picking apart ideas.
However, you tend to get easily annoyed by any thoughtless comments in your blog.What Color Should Your Blog Be?

looking into the spiritual mirror

I'm a guy that looks in the mirror every so often (ok, maybe more than that). And I confess that the reason I do it is because I care what I look like. I want to take care of myself and present myself in as clean and appropriate a manner as possible.

But what is more important than looking into a mirror to make sure my appearance is in order, is looking into the spiritual mirror to make sure that my walk with God is in order.

I had a mirror experience recently that reminded me of the value of this spiritual practice. A very good friend of mine noticed a couple things in me, just a few actions and attitudes that need some tweaking. I think Mark Batterson would call them 'spiritual leaks' in my life. Areas where I am tempted to 'drift' in ways I don't want to go. Anyway, the beauty is that my friend had 1) the perception to notice, and 2) the courage and love to bring it up to me.

Looking into the spiritual mirror that we are provided in friendships is not very of…

Quarry Narnia movie trailer

We started a two week series at the Quarry on Sunday using this video. It is our homemade trailer for the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe movie.

To watch it, click here.

church virgins and church divorcess

I read a thought provoking article today on the Leadership Journal Blog called The Jaded Driven Church: Re-Introducing People to God & His Church. The main idea of the article is that there many people who have a jaded view of church (the church divorcees) and that churches may need to be more intentional about reaching these people instead of focusing exclusively on non-churched people/seekers (the church virgins).

As the intro to the article states:
C.S. Lewis once said, "One courts a virgin differently than a divorce" (or something along these lines; I've had trouble tracking the exact quote). Even back in the mid 20th century, Lewis recognized that reaching people with a jaded perspective of the church (divorcees) would require a different strategy than reaching those without any church experience to begin with (virgins).

Certainly there are still some in our culture who are 'church virgins,' but it seems increasingly more common to find people who have had …

help for the homeless and displaced

Today we asked people at QCC to take a brown paper shopping bag and fill it with various items for homeless and displaced people this Christmas. The idea is that as followers of Jesus Christ we would give out of our abundance to help others in need.

This summer I heard Willow Creek Community Church's Lead Pastor Bill Hybels talk about the concept of a 'holy discontent.' This is the one thing (idea, cause, passion) that burns in the heart of a leader, the thing that a leader would gladly give his life to trying to fix. I wonder if God is growing in me a passion for homeless people. My wife thinks so, but I'm not as sure yet. I mean I want to help them, and it makes me feel good when I do it, but is that my singular biggest passion?

What really kills me is seeing churches and Christians growing fat with plenty of money in bank accounts, large buildings, Sunday School classes, biblical literacy, and a massive though unneccsary knowledge of the Greek language, while peopl…


Had a business meeting after the service today. Yuk! We presented the 2006 proposed budget before about 35 people. There should have been many more giving input who were not there. And the meeting still went on and on. Luckily I made it out alive...barely.

We had a big budget last year that we didn't meet. On paper this budget seems more doable (though it doesn't include some key staffing positions). The thing I hate about doable budgets though is this: doable budgets take God out of the equation. I believe that if God wants it done, he will bring the funds. We should always budget to his vision, and what happens too quickly is that we get caught up in the 'business meeting' side of things, which usually drives the discussion towards cheap, practical ideas rather than supernatural expectations.

what is true religion

I was reading an old issue of "American Baby" (takes a real man to admit that) and I came across this statistic:

In this country (US), there are about 118,000 foster children waiting for permanent families.

OK, Christian church... what are we going to do about this? How long will we keep producing our own children and ignore the needs of the needy?

Reminds me of James 1:27 -

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

dream, dream dream dream, dream

What do you think about dreams?

I have been having some crazy ones lately. Dreams that involve ministry and friends and family. Dreams that involve weirdness, past relationships, counseling situations, confession, and all sorts of wild things. Does God speak to us in our dreams?

He did to Joseph didn't he? Or at least he had Joseph interpret other peoples' dreams. Daniel interpreted dreams too. Paul says that a man appeared to him in a vision/dream. Peter had some sort of vision/dream involving food, as did the Gentile man whom Peter would later meet. But, does God still speak to us in our dreams?

I haven't always taken dream interpretation very seriously. I have always believed that our subconscious mind is constantly working, and that it re-represents reality on the screen of our minds while we sleep. So what we consume with our mind and eyes during the day, plays itself out in some distorted form during the night while we sleep. But maybe there is more to the story. Maybe …

world AIDS day

This is what an emergency looks like: every day in Africa, HIV/AIDS kills 6,600 people, 8,800 people are infected with the HIV virus and at least 1,400 newborn babies are infected during childbirth.

According to UNAIDS estimates, there were 37.2 million adults and 2.2 million children worldwide living with HIV at the end of 2004. During the year 4.9 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.

Around 95% of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing nations. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world. In Africa alone, more than 17 million people have died from AIDS and another 25 million are infected with the HIV virus, approximately 1.9 million of whom are children. Every day in Africa, HIV/AIDS kills 6,300 people.

To read more, click here.

The Christian church needs to step up and do something. I am signing an email …

true beauty

Even if it is covered in dust and bent over by the weight of the air around it, the beauty of a rose still remains, for its beauty is in what it truly is and not in what it appears to be.