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Showing posts from April, 2006

Erwin McManus on the difference between character and skill in pastoral leadership

I was listening to the Catalyst Podcast a couple days ago and I heard this amazing quote by Erwin McManus:

"[Pastors must be careful to] run as fast as our character is deepening and not as fast as our talent is expanding...Run as fast as your character goes deep and not as a fast as your talent goes wide."

This is a great quote because it reminds me that the most valuable thing I can do as a leader in the church is to spend regular time with my Savior. The people and business of church can, in a sense, use a pastor for their skills and talents without regard for the character development. On the same line, a pastor can easily become self-deceived and start to think that their worth is found in what they do...how many programs they have, how big the building is, how great of a preacher they are, how many people they successfully counsel, etc.

Thanks Erwin for, once again, reminding me what its all about.

DaVinci is DaBomb

I finished reading The DiVinci Code last night and I have to say that I honestly enjoyed the book. I don't agree with the theology and Biblical understanding put forth in it but I am not threatened by it either. The book was exciting to read and I could hardly stop reading each night to sleep. I can't wait to watch the movie.

Why are so many Christians afraid of this book...or any challenge to our beliefs? I think it is partly because of this:

We are so MTV'd out that we think learning Church history is boring. We want sermons that entertain and don't teach. We get distracted in the classroom and stop learning. Then someone like Dan Brown comes along and raising some issues that we can't answer. It makes us afraid.

Listen to the words of Paul and Peter:
Titus 1:9
He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. A…

thoughts on humility

Humility is not something that a person can will themselves toward. Being humble is not something that you do, like 'being quiet' or 'being kind.' Humility is a condition of the heart. Humility grows out of a person's profound centeredness in Jesus and a trust that he is pleased in them. To become more humble a person must place themselves in loving relationship with Christ, serving others as he served and listening regularly to the gentle voice of the Father who calls his children beloved.

my idle thoughts

In my humble and non-musical opinion Paula, Randy and Simon are all on crack! Katharine McPhee was awesome. Pickler was seriously sickler tonight and because of that high note she sang I now to replace three cracked windows. And honestly, come on Paula, crying for Elliot and then trying to get the crowd to cheer for Taylor so that Simon couldn't talk...that was stupid.

PS- I know I spelled idol wrong...or did I?

ear candling is not normal

Have you ever heard of ear candling? It is this weird thing where you stick a wax paper candle into someone's ear and light it on fire. As the candle burns down it sucks the ear wax out of a person's ear. My wife did it last night and a big chunk of ear wax came out of her ear. Kind of gross but pretty cool at the same time.

Stephanie's had a major ear pain for a couple days so please pray for her. Thanks.

helping people out when it rains

A couple months ago my wife and I visited Jared: The Galleria of Jewelry to look for a new wedding band. As we left I noticed they had a small rack of umbrellas sitting next to the door for customers to use if it was raining. "Wow," I thought. That was a great service that I have mentioned to many people. Positive buzz for the jewelry company.

During the Easter season I delivered flowers to many churches in the MN metro. I noticed umbrella stands at a couple of churches. I think this is a great idea and a wonderful way to demonstrate Jesus love for people in a small way. Positive buzz for churches.

In fact, Granger Community Church started a ministry like this last year. You can read about it by, clicking here.

continuing the conversation

Wow, who could have imagined a greeting card with poor grammar could strike up such a debate. I love it. To read the original post and comments, click here.

I have been experiencing and rethinking much about church in the last couple months. It is becoming more and more clear that God uses all sorts of models of church and 'Sundays' to bring people into his kingdom.

I think that peoples' God-given personality and temperament (especially leaders and pastors) have a lot to do with how a church is led, who will be attracted to that church and the type of culture that will develop within it's walls. Organized people will be more drawn to God in organized churches. More go-with-the-flow types will feel more connected in other places. And this is just fine as a general rule.

I believe the church has a responsibility to do what it can to remove simple obstacles to faith for people, especially people who are not familiar with church/God/Jesus. No one has it perfect. And no one i…

Its a Girl!

I am suprised that my wife hasn't done this yet. Tuesday night we found out that Baby Balvin #3 is going to be a girl. That is wonderful. The due date is August 30, which is the exact same date Jacob was due. Three kids is three years. Yeah our life will be busy. But it is also extremely blessed.

Let the naming game begin.

example of poor impressions management

Check out this card Stephanie and I received from a church we recently visited. I applaud the handwritten appreciate the effort but the text on of the note doesn't make sense, and the business card stapled to the bottom is not even the card of the person who wrote the note.

This is the type of behavior that generates negative word-of-mouth. Nice idea, poor execution.

Chipotle- update

Yesterday we received a note and five vouchers for 5 FREE burritos at the store. Wow. That is amazing customer service. This is the type of behavior that leaves and impression and that will bring me back to the store. Plus it is generating lots of Chipotle buzz because I keep telling everyone about it.

Positive, word-of-mouth advertising for Chipotle - perfect. Is your church generating this kind of marketing? How?

a satisfied customer

I am a BIG fan of Chipotle. It is becoming a tradition for Stephanie and I to eat lunch there on Saturday. Two weeks ago, however, our regularly wonderful burrito was disrupted by a case of hard rice. Eating a steak fajita is just not the same when the rice crunches in your mouth. So I emailed Chipotle and told them of my problem.

Check out the response....

Two days later I got a personal return email that informed me the corporate offices would look into the situation. Today I got a call and an apology from the local store manager. I am also getting some free burrito cards. Awesome.

This is a company that care about the experience its customers receive. It went much further than I anticipated in making sure I had a good dining experience. I hope that as churches and followers of Jesus we care about the people who walk through our doors as much as the people of Chipotle care about the people who walk through theirs.

some more of God's blessings

A couple days ago we found some more diapers on our front step. Thank you to the delivery people. We would love to eat a frozen pizza with you sometime.

Also, about a week ago we received some Cub Foods gift cards in the mail. Those are a major blessing because Isabelle eats about 3 bananas a day, and both Jacob and Izzy keep Juicy Juice in business. We'd love to enjoy some deli meat sandwiches with our Cub Foods friends.

Thanks to everyone who keeps us in their prayers. We appreciate you very much.

a new way to life

From time to time I have wondered why Jesus had to die on a cross. The easy answer is that he had to pay the penalty for our sins; he had to die in our place. There is the idea that the cross sacrifice somehow completes the sacrifices of the OT and therefore God's wrath is pacified through the shedding of blood. Doesn't that seem odd? If you were God and someone rebelled against you in some way, would you want the blood of some animal or person as repayment?

On Easter Sunday I heard it said that, while Jesus death on the cross atones (pays for) my sins and restores me to God, the cross does much more than simply that. In the cross Jesus models for me perfectly what it looks like to live in the Kingdom of God. The way of the cross is an example to me and a declaration that Jesus was serious when he told people about true life, grace, forgiveness, turning the other check, hope in the Father, and ultimately, about love. Because in the cross LOVE WINS. For the first time death is …

enjoying life is the sweetest thing

Have you ever taken a second to just stop and watch a kid learn how to do something? That is so sweet. I love my kids so much. Yesterday my wife and I just layed on the floor and watched our 1.5 yr. old daughter Isabelle mess around with a Mr. Potato Head. She was so interested and perplexed by it. I could almost see the neurons firing around in her cute little head.

Jacob got a new bed yesterday from Ikea. Took me 2 hours to assemblle but he loves it. Some day Isabelle will sleep underneath it. Here is a picture:

remembering God's faithfulness takes effort

I was listening to a message by Mark Batterson yesterday and I heard him say something like "forgetting what God has done is like having spiritual amnesia." I don't think that's the exact quote but its close enough for my point:

What are you doing to make sure you remember the many wonderful things God has done for you?

It is too easy to forget the goodness of God. Life has a way of pushing memories aside, and as we get old we can start attributing to fate/luck/chance/or worse, to ourselves, what should have only been attributed to God.

I am so grateful that my wife Stephanie is blogging about our kids and how God is taking care of our family. My friend Margaret has some special Scripture verses painted on her walls. I have a photograph of a deer possessed with the eyes of Jesus (long story).

What alters are you building in your life to make sure you remember the faithfulness of God?

move over Ichiro

I don't want to become the psychotic father who thinks that my kid actually has a shot to make it to the major leagues some day but....

I have spent the last couple evenings fielding hits my 2.5 year old son Jacob has been ripping off the batting tee. He is a lefty with a swing like Ken Griffey Jr. or maybe Barry Bonds (don't worry - no speculation about Jacob taking any performance enhancers, his talent is all natural). Only time will tell how good my boy can really be.

Smile. How great is it to be a Dad? I love it more and more everyday.

just wanted to say thanks

Many people have been the hands and feet of Jesus and have blessed us very much.

Thank you to:

- the couple who blessed us with their tax money
- the person who sent us Cub Foods gift cards for groceries
- the people who left diapers on our front step
- the many who have borrowed us their vehicles
- those people who have watched our children
- you who have brought and eaten meals with us
- everyone who has been praying for us

Thank you. Shalom and God's blessings to you all.

his love endures forever

Sometimes you need to spend some time in a cave before you recognize how much God loves you. This has been my recent experience. I have felt a little like King David, trapped in a cave with a few friends, life being hard to understand. Thinking, "Things weren't supposed to be like this." But God is faithful and he is with people who are in the caves of life. When we experience pain and darkness, doubt and struggle, uncertainty and loss, our God is with us. He desires that we turn to him and proclaim with David in Psalm 118:

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
17 I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
18 The LORD has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
24 This …

must listen to sermon series

If you have any sort of mp3 player and you care at all about spiritual things (particularity if you are a Christ follower who wants to grow) you need to be listening to these two series:

Pastor: Mark Driscoll
Church: Mars Hill Church, Seattle, WA
Sermon Series: "Christians Gone Wild: A Study of 1st Corinthians"

Pastor: Brain Tome
Church: Crossroads Community Church, Cincinnati, OH
Sermon Series: "ID: Who Are You"

must see movie

Last night Stephanie and I finally put the kids to sleep (11:00 pm) and got around to watching the movie we rented last Sunday night. The movie is called North Country and it tells the story of a woman's (Charlize Theron) fight against sexual harassment in the mines of the Minnesota Iron Range.

There were many powerful themes in the movie for Christians to notice and think about. The immature and wrong idea of gender discrimination and harassment is one. The sick way women are viewed and treated by many men as objects and sex symbols was another. The scary quick ability we have as people to pass judgment one another is a third. The themes of love and forgiveness is fourth. And finally, the painful theme of confronting and overcoming our pasts hurts and wrongs.

I recommend this movie. Numerous points brought tears to my eyes. Many times painful, sorrowful tears because I could easily see myself, without the power of Jesus in my life, falling into many of the ignorant and gross beha…

oh Kelly Clarkson!

I want to send a shout out to my friend Nate from the greenhouse who hooked me up today with the Kelly Clarkson CD Breakaway.

I knowthat I am not in the typical Kelly Clarkson demographic. Please keep the negative vibe comments to yourself.

what's up with me?

My life for the past month and a half is best described by the phrase 'crazy chaos.' I have had a bunch of stuff go down which has caused me to shuffle, rearrange, and correct many priorities.

One of the major ramifications of this life evaluating is that I am taking a six month leave from ministry. Which means I have had to find other work. God has been providing for us, but there is still a huge financial strain.

On top of the financial strain I am feeling, is the struggle and pain of trying to sort through the complexities of my personality and life history. There are many things that have added up and contributed to making me the person I am today, and that have given me the lense and mind set I use to process, interact with, and operate in the world.

My goal is to focus on making Jesus Christ the very center of everything, to move him from head into my heart, and to come to understand what it truly means to have God in Heaven call me His Beloved.

I think this says it all...

From the desk of ESPN writer John Buccigross:

My genetic freakdom aside, is there really a comparison between the two forms of entertainment? I swear Jim Nantz and Billy Packer were about to fall asleep calling the Florida-Villanova game on Sunday. Clang! Oh, Villanova just missed another jump shot. How many timeouts do those evangelist/preacher/sell your soul/coaches get each half?! I screamed across the newsroom to revered ESPN Coordinating Producer Judson Burch last week, "Hey, Jud, was that UConn's 26th or 27th timeout?" He replied: "I believe in nationally televised games, you get an extra eight timeouts inside of two minutes."

What other game allows coaches to stop the game whenever they please?! Whenever the game is at its best, its most passionate, its most exciting, what do they do? They stop the game! Allowed to call a timeout on an inbounds pass? But the game hasn't started again! How can you call timeout when time was never in? Seriously, two time…

understanding and celebrating our God-given personalities

One of the most helpful teachings we received at SonScape was teaching based on the Myers-Briggs personality types.

I am an ISTJ. My wife is ESFP.

The personality typing was extremely beneficial for my wife and I because it gave us some concrete tools to use in our efforts to better understand and appreciate one another. We have pretty different personalities, which can be difficult, but it can also be great because our individual strengths can compliment one another's weaknesses.

I'll have to post some more thoughts on personality types because I think identifying and celebrating one another's unique, God-given personalities is huge for both marriage and ministry teams.