Showing posts from February, 2006

creativity in my workspace

The Idea Sand Box blog posted a quote recently from Michael J. Gelb's book 'Discover Your Genius' that has me thinking about the new office I'll be moving into soon:

Einstein's parents encouraged his natural talent for imagination by creating a stimulus-rich, brain-nourishing environment. Psychologists have known for many years that the quality of stimulation provided by the external environment is crucial to brain development in the early years of life. Brain researcher Dr. Richard Restak emphasizes that this holds true for adults as well: "Throughout life, not just during the first few months, the brains' synaptic organization can be altered by the external environment."

Alter your external environment to liberate yourself from "cubicle-consciousness" and promote creativity in the workplace. Take over a conference room and transform it into an Einstein Room. Replace the standard office furniture with comfortable chairs and a couch, bring in …

tonight is a great night of TV

I know there are many better things to do with my time and mind but I'm not going to hide the fact that I am pumped to just hang out at home tonight and watch The Apprentice. Tuning in to the last two seasons has gotten me hooked and I can't wait for this new one to get started.

I enjoy watching the different business challenges the teams are given, seeing how the candidates interact with one another and trying to glean a few leadership principles in the process. I am pretty sure that if I wasn't a pastor I would be in the business or law world, so The Apprentice appeals to my non-pastoral work ambitions. I guess you could say I live vicariously through the experiences of the candidates.

Another entertaining show to watch is Deal or No Deal. This show basically illustrates how money hungry people are. It is super funny to watch people sweat and agonize over how greedy they should be (and yet sad at the same time). The show is a great representation of the classic struggl…

post-wedding update

Everything went awesome last night at the wedding. Without Stephanie I would have been sunk, but thanks to her guidance I think it was a very special night. My message went great and many people commented on it being very personable, funny and centered on Jesus and the couple.

I was reminded how many people still have such a stiff view of God and church. People would come up to me at the reception and thank me for doing such a 'different' and 'wonderful' job. I don't say that to toot my own horn, simply, there are a lot of people who would come to church is they didn't think it was so stuffy and boring. I hope that my message helps people see that church and God can be fun and worthwhile.

Congratulations Joe and Julie. Thanks for asking me to play a part in your special day.

Way to go on your toast Mark, it was awesome.

my first wedding

So I am about to officiate my very first wedding. We are at a real nice place called Giants Ridge. The lodge is beautiful and the hills look sweet for snowboarding and skiing. Too bad I don't have time for either. I feel like junk. I have all kinds of sinus pressure and occasionally my nose runs like a hose. Hope I don't screw up the wedding taking drugs. Pray for me.

My wife saved my butt today during rehersael. She was awesome. Whenever there was a question she took it and ran with it- she found solutions, directed people and made me look really smart for marrying her. Without her, I don't know what I'd do. Thanks babe, you rock!

i am the revolution

In October our church went through our very first capital campaign. We called it 'Be the Revolution' and we focused on God calling us to be revolutionaries in the Kingdom of God. It seemed like people bought into the concept because we were able nearly raise our goal of $500K.

But I read something lately that kicked up some thoughts about our campaign , our church and myself. This is what I read,

"If we want to be a revolution we have to live a revolution."

What sort of counter-cultural revolutionary crazy things is God calling me to in my life? That is a question that we each have to ask ourselves. It is one thing to make a financial commitment to a church. I did this and I am all about this, but that can't be the end of my Kingdom contribution. And it can't be the end of yours.

The revolution of God's love and presence breaking into this world happens on many fronts everyday. As followers of Jesus we have to ask ourselves 3 questions:

1. Where am I part…

knowledge and growth in community

I am currently reading The Last Word and the Word After That by Brian McLaren. I had a light bulb go on as I read this passage. One man is describing to another that all 'learning and knowing are ultimately communal experiences, social experience.' He says:

"Think of the word consciousness, whose components mean know with. I've found I can only know so much until I find a community that shares my knowing. If I begin growing very far beyond what my community allows me to know, I need to persuade my community to think with me or else find or form a new community." (p. 129)

Those words are powerful and dead on in my life. As I have been thinking about 'living in community' I have found very few people who are in a position to know with me. Therefore I am always feeling stuck, like I am trying to persuade people to share in the learning and knowing process. In many cases I cannot find or form a new community and thus I am required to try and make it work. Bu…

katharine mcphee is my pick for american idol

My female pick for the next American Idol is Katharine McPhee. She has a good attitude, nice style and the girl can straight sing like crazy.

Plus I think she looks like Rachael Ray.
Who do you think will win? Post your predictions in the comments.

welcome to the blog world pastor

Finally succumbing to my constant nagging Michael Grose, the Lead Pastor of Quarry Community Church, has begun blogging. More than anything else, he was inspired by the Blogging Churchinterview with Perry Noble.

I am blessed to work under Michael and to name him as my pastor, mentor and friend. He's planted the Quarry and has been doing ministry for the last 15 years. I'm excited to read his stuff because I know it will be fluff-free and we'll get great stuff on leadership and passion for ministry.

Check his blog out, and please help him come up with a title, because the one he's got now just isn't cutting it.

more about the sex topic in Indiana

Here's another short clip of Pastor Mark Beason on Fox News talking about the campaign. Check it out here.

polar bear, ice hockey, and wrestling

I have played in some crazy outdoor hockey games but I have never seen anything like this. A woman in Quebec jumped in front of a polar bear who was threatening her son. The woman wrestled with bear for a while before another neighbor shot and killed it.

Take a second and read the story here: Bear crashes hockey game, mom saves kids

The funniest part of the story is a quote at the end by a local police officer, "She's lucky the bear wasn't hungry," he said. "If the bear was hungry, she would have been eaten pretty quickly."

everyone's talking about pure sex

Granger Community Church has a series coming up that is causing quite a bit of conversation. They are supporting the series with a website,, and a billboard campaign. The series and its promotion are causing people from all sides of the church and sex issue to chime in with opinions.

In fact, the Senior Pastor even got a chance to be on Fox News to talk about it. You can watch some of the interview and the questions he fielded by clicking here.

funeral reflections

Stephanie and I went to the funeral today of a 92 yr. old woman whose daughter attends the Quarry. A couple of poems were read during the service and I decided to write one of my own.

Someday I know that I will die
That I will head off to my home in the sky*

On that day, everything I have owned and done
Will remain behind, fading in the heat of the sun
I'll take with me nothing, I'll go on alone
Making nonsense of the materialism to which I'm so prone

I have to face it, that I'll die is a fact
I must realize I'll never come back
So my wife, daughter, baby, friends, and son
Are all I'll need when my life's near done

People who love me, and people that I love
My relationship with Jesus, and my Father above

I'll get it right, one day I know I will
Pressing on in the remainder of this life I must still
Doing my best to spread love around
Till my ashes are back to their rightful spot in the ground

*I do not really believe that heaven is some place off in the sky

monday musings

Often in life we need to honestly take time and do some evaluating regarding what really does and doesn't matter. In my view, most people do this kind of thinking far too little. We mostly live in a reaction mode rather than a reflective action one.

I know I get paid to do ministry and so in a sense my view of things may be skewed. But I've also volunteered outside of a paid ministry position and I know that my feelings about what does and doesn't matter are the same.

Here are just a few of the thoughts I have quite regularly in terms of leading volunteers and serving in the church.

(Many of these don't apply to people who give tremendous amount of time to the church. So if that is you, don't worry, just stop reading this post now and don't let it wreck your day.)

- Where should volunteering at church fit into the schema of a person's life? How much is too much? How little is too little?

- What is more important family or ministry? (and if you comment please b…

wishes do come true

Today I was just walking around my house minding my own business when my doorbell rang. Usually no problem, except that I wasn't wearing a shirt (because I just finished doing the dishes and I got my shirt all wet). So I had a split second decision to make... answer the door shirtless or potentially miss the person at the door while I was in the bedroom trying to find a shirt that would match my shorts (my metro side shining through).

I went for the shirtless option and when I got to the door I saw the mailperson (my gender inclusive side shining through) pulling away. I thought, 'What kind of mailperson plays ding dong ditch?' And then I saw the package.

Small and square, it said on the address label. I haven't ordered anything lately so I opened it up and was pumped to find a surprise gift from my Amazon Wishlist. Someone bought me Erwin McManus' book Uprising.

What a great feeling it is to be thought of and blessed by someone else for no particular reas…

coming soon...

Since my wife let the cat out of the bag yesterday (today on her blog) then I may as well release the good news here as well...

The Balvin family is pleased to announce the pregnancy of Stephanie and Brenton Balvin. The third PK to be added to the Balvin tribe is due on August 30, 2006 (which is same day that brother Jacob was due 3 years earlier).

As to all the questions that I'm sure will come forth:
yes we're excitedno we're not worriedyes we understand how babies are madeno it wasn't plannedyes we will find out the sexno we don't hope for a boy or a girlyes we have names picked outno we will not tell youyes we desperately need a mini-vanno we don't have money to buy oneThank you for celebrating this joyous news with us. Please send cards, diapers, prayers, encouragements, pizza coupons, and all your prayers to... on second thought, just call or email us if you really want to send something!

those darn sermons that are short and full of stories

Kent Hughes, Senior Pastor of the College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, make this observation about much of the preaching in today's churches: "The unspoken but increasingly common assumption of today's Christendom is that worship is primarily for us -- to meet our needs. Such worship services are entertainment focused, and the worshipers are uncommitted spectators who are silently grading the performance."From this perspective preaching becomes a homiletics of consensus -- preaching to felt needs -- man's conscious agenda instead of God's. Such preaching is always topical and never textual. Biblical information is minimized, and the sermons are short and full of stories. Anything and everything that is suspected of making the marginal attender uncomfortable is removed from the servi…

buzz conference

The new Buzz Conference website looks sweet. I would love to go to this. Anybody want to send me?

Update: Conference: $99, Airfare: $250, Hotel:$150

the liberating power of traditional Christianity

This is a quote from Henri J.M. Nouwen's The Wounded Healer (1972)

"When we wonder why the language of traditional Christianity has lost its liberating power for nuclear man, we have to realize that most Christian preaching is still based on the presupposition that man sees himself as meaningfully integrated with a history in which God came to us in the past, is living near us in the present, and will come to liberate us in the future. But when man's historical consciousness is broken, the whole Christian message seems like a lecture about great pioneers to a boy on an acid trip."

this quote nailed me but I don't know why.... I guess I'll have to think about it some more... what does it do to you?

why blue?

Why did I switch the color of my blog? I am sure that many of you have been dying to know the answer to this.

I was playing around with a move to WordPress and I inadvertently turned off a Blogger setting which enables line breaks in my posts. This was driving me nuts and I figured that maybe something in my old template got messed up in the importing of Rethinking Life and Faith to a WordPress blog.

So, being that Josh Sargent is on sabbatical over at the Leadership Blog, I decided to try a new template and landed with the blue Blogger option. I later fixed the problem (which had nothing to do with a template) and then decided to stick with the blue color scheme which is much more me than the green one was.

So there you go. Stop wondering. Let it go....

here comes trouble

I understand that almost every parent thinks their kids are the cutest, and I am no exception. Here's a pic of my 1 yr. old Isabelle that just might take the cake. This is before Great Clips butchered her hair (at the request of her mother).

some thoughts on teaching

Here are some great thoughts on preaching by Bob Franquiz. If you are someone who teaches in you church regularly, or if your just interested in preaching, check out his post: Some Thoughts on Teaching.

I like what Bob says about moving the 'Big' story along an inch at a time. When I got done with seminary (Bethel Seminary, 2005, M. Div.) my tendency was to lace all my sermons with every theological concept and word I knew. Thankfully I am blessed to have an awesome Lead Pastor who guided me out of this dangerous territory; that preaching approach has since been canned.

Teaching really is about moving Jesus to the center and giving people truth that will challenge, inspire, convict, encourage and point them back to God. But fewer people will hear that truth if we cover it up in academic terminology, boring philosophical tangents and weak illustrations. As teachers we communicate the greatest message on earth and thus it deserves our greatest presentation for the greatest amount …

thought you might want to know

Erin Corniea is elusive in the blog-o-sphere. She sort of lays dormant for awhile and then suddenly like 7 new posts will appear on her blog. Kinda crazy. Her latest round of thoughts just hit the web this morning so make sure you go check them out. As always there is some great stuff, like this post on defensiveness.

Why Macs Suck

I have never been the type of person who fights with other people about which product brand is better. You know what I'm talking about right:

Pepsi v. Coke
Yankees v. Boston (though that is redily obvious, and yes I know I spelled readily wrong)
Nike v. Reebok
ArticCat v. Polaris

And then there is the Mac v. PC battle that rages in technology circles around the world. I use them both (I have notebooks of each) and I like them equally for different reasons. My friend Brandt on the other hand is a PC guy all the way through and he sent me this video 'Why Macs Suck' today. Its pretty funny (though I have to warn you the F*$! word is used twice - so if you are reading my blog and your 15 or under - go ask your mom first!)

To watch the video, here.

my thoughts on saturday night

what am I feeling as I lay on the floor in Jacob's room putting him to sleep (finally)...

its hard to express... i want to help others... i want to fix their problems... i want to be more serious in my own devotional life.... i don't like cliche 'God' answers... i want people who need help to ask for it and stop hiding.... I want to understand people more completely and somehow in a way I don't think words can ever translate.... i want to see more of Jesus.... to experince more peace.... to be less cyncical and skeptical... to love more, care more, serve more.... to speak truth with more conviction... to be more consitent and less hypocritical... to love my wife and fight for her... be closer.... always closer.... to Christ

new office space

Just heard that we secured some new office space for our church. This is HUGE because we have been working in a facility for about 2 years now that is ugly and small. Our new office space will give the Quarry a more permanent feel, more community exposure, more productive workspace, and it should heighten morale among staff.

I am excited to see how our builder (a guy from our church) gets the work done. He does great stuff on homes and I'm guessing our new office space will be just as nice.

Oh yeah, we're also going to have more offices (with actual doors!), a youth ministry space, a band practice space, a large group meeting area, and a 'creativity lab' where our production people can meet and be inspired.

Sounds like we'll be moving in about a month. Praise God for opening this up to us.

headed to North Point

Just registered our Lead Pastor, Youth Pastor and myself for the Sundays@NorthPoint Conference May 21 and 22. We basing some of our programming on what North Point does and I'm pretty excited about going to watch them live in action.

We're thinking about trying to head over to Andy Stanley's house for dinner on Sunday night. What do you think are the chances of that?

Come on Andy, I know you read a couple blogs, how about shooting us an invite?

just a thought on marriage

I am sitting in the Maple Grove Starbucks, jotting down some notes from a talk I'm giving next week, listening to DMB and thinking about the couple who are meeting me for some pre-marital stuff in about an hour.

Through a remarkable set of circumstances I get to be involved in the wedding of a guy I worked with 5 or 6 summers ago. He is a friendly and caring guy and the girl he is marrying seems to be genuine and fun. It is a wonderful thing to talk and share with these two as they prepare for a life long commitment.

Counseling them brings me back 3 and 1/2 years ago to when I was on the other side of the couch getting ready to marry the woman that I love. My view of marriage is that we choose a potential spouse and that when we honor God in our life and choosing, he turns around and puts his blessing on the marriage (sorry, no fluffy soul-mate stuff for me). Today I feel good because I know that I chose well 3.5 years ago and that I benefit from that choice everyday.

Because of …

young, hip, and reverent

Thanks Audra for pointing out the article, Young, hip, reverent, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The article address the emerging church on a very surface level, and is laced with the comments of an attender of Solomon's Porch, where Doug Pagitt is the pastor.

The content of the article is weak, but it is a nice piece of advertising for the church I guess. Basically the writer just addressed the idea that 'postmoderns' and 'emerging church' are returning to the religious symbols and sense of community that the mega-church has supposedly done away with (maybe you sense a bit of sarcasm in that sentence, good).

Any thoughts as you read it?

a place to put my Starbucks at church, thanks Eagle Brook

Buzz is a word that is getting a lot of buzz. Thanks to my Mom for pointing out this article to me: Faith, supersized. It is an story from the Pioneer Press that talks about Eagle Brook Church's new building, complete with cupholders in the sanctuary. Here is a quote:

But church leaders figured it was difficult to stand, sit or praise the Lord with your hands in the air while worrying about dumping a hot latte onto fellow Christians. So they decided to add cup holders,— anything to boost their reputation for putting people at ease.

"You can't underestimate the value of energy and buzz," Anderson said. "Those things bring people through the door."

Cup holders. A small idea that might create big dividends for the Kingdom. Talked with Chad today and he thought the Quarry should offervalett parking. That might create a little buzz. We'll see. As long as I'm not the one cars!

someone really was listening

As a preacher you always wonder how much of what you say sinks in. Our office manager told me today that she got an email from a Quarrier that said this-

"After Brenton's message this month we decided to go ahead and get into the 21st Century..."

At the beginning of January I gave a message on 'living with more patience' (check out the podcast icon on the right to download it).

As part of my introduction I told a personal story about my family's switching from a dial up to high speed internet connection. Then I said, "If you hear nothing else today hear this: get high speed internet."

Well apparently this person was listening.

first impressions matter and create evangelists for your church

I copied this post from Mark Waltz's blog. I was hit by a question that Mark asks towards the end. I will post my reflection below the copied post.Mark blogged...

Jackie Huba over at Church of the Customer cites two restaurants (French Laundry and Cyrus - both in Northern California) to illustrate five ways to compete with a bigger and more dominant competitor. Number three on her list grabbed my attention (but you should read the entire article).

3. Do something buzzworthy in the first few minutes.
As the Cyrus hostess leads you from the bar/reception area, she stops just
inside the dining room. There, she picks up a white Zsa-Zsa telephone
and says into it: "Chef, the McConnell party is here for table 42.
Please send someone out to greet them." It's startling and unexpected.
Who calls the chef to say a guest has arrived? It was great theater.

So, what's happening in your church that's buzzworthy in the first few minutes? What has people leaning over in the first f…

less talk, better listening

Have you ever talked with someone who seemed like they were more interested in where the bathrooms are than what you're saying? I got an email today with some leadership advice. It said that "Good listeners focus 100 percent on the other person, not on themselves." Most people have talking well down pat. What we really need to do is improve at listening to one another. I think these questions serve as a good reminder of how to listen well.

* Are you planning your answer while the other person is still speaking? If so, you are not listening! You can't listen and prepare your response at the same time.

* Do you interrupt - perhaps because you have second-guessed the other person? You could be wrong. Just hold back on those assumptions.

* Are you judging the other person as he or she speaks? Clear those thoughts and focus on what is being said.

* Do you offer approprite feedback when it is your turn to talk? Check your understanding by paraphrasing what you heard. This sh…

steelers win (like I said they would)

I want to give a shout out to my friend Stephanie Sorbel for winning her football pool. Way to go Steph! You know we love you.

Also, want to take a second or two to clarify something. I was in no way intentionally advocating for the Steelers because I thought God was somehow on their side, or that they were 'more Christian' than the Seahawks. Thanks for calling me on that Chad.

I just posted the video a couple days ago and made some comments because I was impressed with the authenticity of the coach's prayer, and I thought that if someone would be more interested in watching the game knowing what type of men where playing that would be great.

However, I inadvertently insinuated something I shouldn't have and I apologize for any confusion. Both teams have players and coaches who love God and I recognized the dangerous turf we tred on when we cheer for one team or another based on the number of people of faith involved.

That all said...congrats to the people of Pittsburgh.…

seeing things with fresh eyes

I am not advocating any of Eminem's music, but reading the lyrics to this song actually brought tears to me eyes. The song sort of chronicles the way fame can destroy your life and take your eyes of the stuff that really matters. Based on some changes that this guy is making in his life, maybe the Holy Spirit is doing a work on him. Wouldn't that be an amazing testimony of the power of God to redeem and restore life to people!

Read the lyrics to his song When I'm Gone. (I should warn you that there is use of f*&% once in the song.)

hollywood bound

Thanks to a link on David's blog I found a fun place to start making movies. The website is called Bombay TV.

Here is a preview of my first work: Where Did I Put That Ring?

ah, Virginia is the place for me... (sung to a tune of a song I don't know)

Thanks to Gary I just spent 20 minutes of my life filling out this cool survey that projects the 'best place for you to live'. I was a little surprised at my results because the top cities recommended for me are in states I've never been to but that I've always wanted to visit.

My top 3 were:
1. Charlotte, North Carolina
2. Norfolk, Virginia
3. Richmond, Virginia

I never got a call from you Ben but maybe...?

let's go Steelers

It easy to think that athletes and coaches are defined by the big mouths of people like Terrell Owens and Dennis Rodman, but it is absolutely not true. There are many people in professional sports who sincerely love God.

Here is a really cool video I found on David Trotter's blog that might affect the way your cheer on Sunday (that is a reference to the Super Bowl for everyone who is like "what's Sunday?").

To see a different side of football and a wonderful picture of celebration and thanksgiving, click here.

My prediction: Steelers win 27-17.

stuff never satisfies

This is a great quote from the book Branded Nation by James Twitchell.

"Modern exchange is not materialistic. It is not objects that people really desire, but their lush coating of images and dreams that mesh with a wider promotional culture... Exchange helps to animate objects with value and in doing so it weaves a dense social web of aspiration characterized by a cycle of desire, use and disillusionment. Disillusionment inevitably follows exchange; it is never the object which is consumed-instead, it is the relationship between us and the object of desire."
- Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska in The Value of Things

These are interesting words which point out the Biblical fact that things can never satisfy the human heart. The hole that we look to fill with bigger homes, faster cars, and better golf clubs is a hole that is only filled by Jesus; in the end all things will leave us wanting.

this is just dumb

When was the last time you heard something this dumb: Lawsuit claims iPods cause hearing loss.

Some guy is suing Apple because he claims that iPods are causing harm to his ears. I guess he got the special model Nano that doesn't come with a volume control. I mean, honest, is this guy for real? What ever happened to people going through life with their brains turned on.

I need to start a list of stupid lawsuits. There has to be good sermon material there somewhere.

just doing my part

I take credit for being a part of this, "Starbucks hits all-time high on profit". I can only imagine how much I would have spent on Caramel Americano's if coffee was as popular when I was in high school as it is now.

I'll be at Starbucks this afternoon I think. Hopefully I'll bump into someone. And for you all who can't share this slice of heaven with me, I'll drink one for you!

bouncing round my head

- I forgot to mention what happened while I was snorkeling in Hawaii. I lost my wedding ring! I'm pretty sure that it was eaten by some Nemo-looking fish and that it now resides in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean; what a major bummer.

- Because of guys like Josh and Ben, I decided to add a link on my blog to my very own Amazon wishlist. Those guys got hooked up with some books, maybe I will too. Otherwise I'll just have to keep relying on InBubbleWrap.

- This is a nice article (Time to check: Are you using the right blogging tool?) for people who want information on how to start a blog. It contains definitions of some blog terminology as well as some advice on the different blog providers a person might choose. Be sure to check out the comparison chart as well. Thanks Scott!

- Portable Church Industries is coming to the Quarry this weekend. They are going to help us maximize our space in the Middle School where we meet. I'll blog about how it goes. Any advice from guys who ha…