Showing posts from June, 2006

church review: River Valley Church

A couple weeks ago I had the wonderful blessing of helping officiate the wedding of my good friend Chad Anderson. At the reception a familiar looking guy came up to me and asked, "Do you have a blog?" I was kind of surprised -random question- but I said, "Yeah, why?" It turns out this guy reads my blog ever so often and picked out my face while I was doing the ceremony. The world is so small, and blogs seem to be shrinking it even smaller.

After more formal introductions I realized why the guy looked so familiar. His name is Rob Ketterling, and he is the lead pastor at River Valley Church in Apple Valley. Stephanie and I visited there a couple months ago. Rob asked if I did a blog review of River Valley and I don't think I was able to at the time so I promised him I do one now.

First Impressions
River Valley is located in an industrial park. I didn't think that the signs from the road were very large or noticeable, but the kids park and entrance at one end o…

a true all nighter

Yesterday I woke up around 5:45 am. Then I headed down to Bethel Seminary in Roseville where I am working part time as the Executive Assistant to the Director of Admissions and Recruitment.

After putting in a full day there I drove home, had a few hours to hang with my family, and then it was back to Lynde Greenhouse and Nursery in Maple Grove. I worked a shift there from 10 pm until 6:50 this morning watering plants. I finally got home around 7:30 am.

It is a rare occasion that I am awake for 26 consecutive hours. Sometimes you gotta just get it done though.

the Balvins are back in town, yeah yeah

Just got home from 10 days in New York/Michigan. It feels good to be home. However there is always that sadness that vacation is over and now real life has to resume. We had no clearer sign of that fact than when I took my son out of the van and realized he had slimy, wet poop all over his pants and car seat. Now we have to wash him and the car seat cover.

Welcome home to us.

I have tons to blog about including some thoughts on our hotel, our day in NY city, some ministry ideas I have, and a new job I start tomorrow. Hopefully I'll get a chance to get it all in.

The best part of coming home though was seeing our plant life. I missed my celosia, petunias, gebrera daisy, marigolds and patio tomato. They all look incredible! Thanks Amy for taking care of them.

church review: Granger Community Church

Since Stephanie and I are staying about 30 minutes north of Granger, we figured we shouldn't waste the chance to take in a service at Granger Community Church. I've been hoping to get to Granger for quite awhile and I wasn't disappointed. I know that Tony and Mark occasionally check out this blog so I hope this review is helpful feedback to you and your teams.

First Impressions
- The building looked great with clean grounds and good signs (what is that design on the brick on the side of the building?)
-We were 7 minutes late and a motorcycle-riding looking guy and his son were still helping people park
-My pregnant wife couldn't stop talking about how appreciative she was of the bus ride to the building, complete with a friendly welcome from the driver and a handwritten note inside the bus
-One of the multiple greeters at the door directed us right to an easy to spot sign for 'New Families Check-In'

Children's Ministry
-The F1 system was a snap and the women enter…

on the road again

Because Stephanie and I enjoyed our 16 hour road trip to Colorado so much we decided we'd hit the road again. This time we're taking the kids with us. Our travel plans include a 4 day stay in Michigan with some good friends and then its off to visit Stephanie's family in New York City for 3 days. Praise the Lord for portable DVD players and fruit snacks. I think they are the keys to us making it all the way East with any bit of our sanity left. Please keep us in your prayers, especially Stephanie who is 7.5 months pregnant.

more free ministry resources

Took this right off Pete's blog...

For those of you who love the free resources from, Southeast Christian Church, and Seacoast Church, you will love having even more access to free resources with Ministry Communicorps.

Ministry Communicorps is run by Gene Mason, Communications Minister at The Church at Brook Hills (Birmingham, AL), and his staff. Their downloads section includes:Logos - for specific ministries and events
Themes - event and program related graphics
Images - pictures and backgrounds
Forms - for organizing ministryOf course, there is plenty more on the site including large lists of resources and various articles.

writing is the externalization of our brains and souls

I love writing. I hope that some day God will use my passion for communicating both the written and oral word to further advance his Kingdom. I saw this quote at and thought it was magnificent.

Novelist John Updike said that books externalize our brains. I think they also externalize our souls.

don't forget all that God has done for you

Similar to what Tony Morgan said recently, one of the reasons I blog is to keep a record of my life. This is especially helpful in spiritual things. Mark Batterson has talked repeatedly about the concept of 'spiritual amnesia,' which is simply defined as: forgetting what God has done for me.

Too often I forget what God has done for me; especially when times get tough and I begin to walk in fear rather than faith. This is particularly true in times of financial strain. So tonight I want to document for you, and especially for myself, all the ways that my Father in Heaven has taken care of my family and I in the last few days.

* Stephanie's Tupperware bonus was almost $300 more than expected
* I got some good news regarding a new job opportunity
* Someone gifted us with a check for $200
* We bought a one dollar scratch off ticket and won $100 (don't know for sure if that one was God but we'll take it and thank him anyway)

It is so easy to think in the ways of the world. D…

golfing with the chaplin

Played golf yesterday for my old college roommate's bachelor party at Boulder Pointe Golf Course in Elko, MN. It was a very nice course, both well maintained and decently challenging. I played real well for my own standands in shooting 45-44=89. On one of the holes I even launched a personal best drive of 302 yards.

I enjoyed riding around the course with Dan Hill. He is the father of the bride-to-be, the pastor co-officiating the wedding with me and a Chaplin down at the Minnesota Capitol building. Dan has an important ministry there and the unique, God given personality that empowers him to do well.

Congrats Chad. I can't wait to be a part of your special day next week and I am amazed that you found such a wonderful woman to put up with you.

no one can escape death

This is not good news. A friend sent me a link to a death calculator. The site predicts the cause of your future death and the age at which it will happen. I wanted to see how accurate it was so I entered my information twice. The second response I got was deeply frightening. It said:

Brenton: At age 51, you will die lonely and alone from morbid obesity.

That hits was to close to home. I really need to start running and eating more tofu. If you want to check out your own death information go to the Death Calculator.

* My brother just took the test and his results: At age 34, you will die after being involved in a government take-over in Ecuador.

* Pete took the test and one of his results was: At age 100, you will be trampled by a mob of rabid people at the opening of X-Men 17.

old school preaching

This is a pretty neat video. It is a compilation of old-school preaching and quotes. Very inspirational. I think many parts of it could be cut out and used in different sermons or church services.

Video- Revival Hymn

the World Cup begins

Every four years something comes around that I absolutely cannot ignore: the World Cup. I almost never think about, watch, comment on, or care about the sport the rest of the world calls football. However, I love the World Cup. It started today with the host country German defeating a scrappy Costa Rican squad 4-2. Then Ecuador pulled off an upset against Poland 2-0. The teams I am cheering on are the Americans and England. If America advances out of our group it would be amazing and reason for celebration. Their first game is Monday against a Top 5 rated team from the Czech Republic.

My favorite player in the Cup is a guy named David Beckham. He plays mid for England. Here's a pic.

its not easy but its necessary

Ever had to do something that you really didn't want to do, but you knew that you wouldn't grow like you needed to if you didn't do it? Re-read that if you're confused. It will make sense.

Tonight I had a conversation (a chat I guess) with a buddy from out of town. I shared with him some stuff that was going on in my life. It was difficult to do, because sharing that kind of information forces me to let go of the ability to manage my image. And I want to manage my image. I want to control how people see me. I don't want to look weak. But right now, I'd rather be weak and real, than strong and fake.

Its not easy to shown our blemishes. Most of the time we desire to use Mary Kay for our emotions, but we'll never experience the growth God has for us if we keep doing that.

fear not....

Ed Yound Jr. recently defined fear like this:

F alse
E vidence
A ppearing
R eal

There are 365 verses in the Bible that say "Fear not..." That is one verse for every day. Isn't that awesome?

Be encouraged today by the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 -
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

telling the enemy what up

Mike Hurn, a contributor at, recently left this great line in a comment:

"When Satan reminds you of your past...remind him of his future."

Good stuff.

movie review- the greatest game ever played

A few days ago, while I was on a walk with our kids, my wife Stephanie rented "The Greatest Game Ever Played" (PG, Disney 2005) from our local McDonald's Redbox. We rarely have the opportunity to relax with one another and watch a movie but fortunately this night we did.

What a tremendous movie! Set in early 1900's, the film details the determination, passion and success of a working class young man from Boston named Francis Ouimet. The climax of the movie (which is inspired bya true story and based on a book by Mark Frost) is when Francis competes in the 1913 U.S. Open against his boyhood idol, a British golfer named Harry Vardon.

Besides having a hot chick next to me on the couch there are multiple reasons why I enjoyed this movie. For starters, it is laced with references and images of the struggle against any separation between the rich and the poor. Golf was, and in many cases still is, a sport that divides people of different socio-economic classes. Yet neither…

legislating morality or living incarnationally

I heard a challenging quote recently from Matt Chandler, who is lead pastor at The Village Church. He was talking about the role of the Church and he said:

"The goal of the church is not to legislate morality...we have become a voting block...we [the church] are not the guardians of a moral standard. We are the hands and feet of Christ that do not legislate morality, we let the Gospel do that."

I have had some intense discussions with people in regard to the status of the Untied States as a Christian nation. Many Christians want to try and protect the 'spiritual heritage' of our nation, claiming that God has blessed our country because of our Christian roots. I believe this is dangerous thinking because it leads to exactly what Chandler is talking about. A mind set among believers that a Christian theocracy is somehow what Jesus had in mind and what we should work to protect.

I can't wait to read Greg Boyd's take on this issue in new book entitled "Myth of…

hitting the jackpot at Cub Foods

Tonight Stephanie and I took the kids to Cub Foods for some milk and bread. As we were checking out I noticed the presence of a lotto ticket machine near the exit door. I rarely buy scratch off tickets but I had a dollar in my wallet and I thought it would be fun. So Jacob and I went over to the machine. I fed in my dollar and had Jacob pick the ticket he wanted me to buy (start em young right?). Then I scratched off half of the ticket and handed it to Stephanie.

And...we won.

I'm not saying how much, but it was more than $20. All Stephanie and I could manage to do was laugh. I realized right away though how addictive something like that could be. I was ready to cash out our ticket and go and buy more. I often have to check the addictive/compulsive side of myself. When I find something that works I want more of it. The enemy in my life could easily use this against me.

It sure was a fun thing to do with my family though.

aesthetics count

A good friend of mine known in the blog world as JVD recently had a great post on aesthetics and first impressions. Check it out here, Aestheics.

book review: a pilgrim who made progress

Today I finished reading a little book entitled A Pilgrim Who Made Progress. It is a biography of John Bunyan written as historical narrative. I really enjoyed reading this book and was encouraged spiritually by John Bunyan's life.

John Bunyan lived in England during the 1600's. During this time there was a large amount of politic, medical and religious strife. Because of persecution from the government Bunyan spent 12 years in prison; his conviction was preaching at religious meetings without a state sponsored Anglican license. Had he promised to stop preaching he could have gone free but Bunyan courageously refused to stop doing what he believed God called and gifted him to do. This meant spending years away from his family, worrying about their welfare, enduring suffering and discomfort, and many other things.

God used John Bunyan mightily and provided for him and his family greatly. As a result of his imprisonment John had the chance to do a great deal of writing. In all he…