Showing posts from August, 2006

Left Behind video game should be left out of stores

A while ago I wrote that I wish the Left Behind series of books had never been written. A friend pointed out to me that she had been encouraged to re-examine her faith after reading the books and that she consequently devoted herself more fully to God. That is awesome and the glory goes to God in that. Unfortunately, a new video game, endorsed by Mr. LaHaye himself, only reinforces my disappointment with this group of well-meaning (I hope and believe) Christians.

Here's an excerpt of a review of the game written on the Leadership Journal blog:
Tyndale’s new video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, is set for release in October, and its already coming under fire from both conservative and liberal Christians. Set in present-day New York City, the game pits the army of the Antichrist against born again Christians. Players are rewarded for winning converts or killing those who resist the gospel. Dialogue in the game includes Christians shouting “Praise the Lord” before blowing away unbe…

additional pics

We came home from the hospital today at 11:30 am. Thank you to everyone who helped us during the last couple days. You words and actions and visits and gifts are greatly appreciated.

Here are some more pics. To view them, click here.

take a look

Here's some pics of little Drew and his folks.


and the name is...

After going back and forth on quite a few options we chose the name...

Andrew Titus Balvin

*FYI - we will be vigilant about asking people to either call him by his full first name or Drew (no offense to the many Andy's of the world). Please join us in our efforts!

say what?

19 hours after admission.

Not long after I got back to our room Stephanie started experiencing some strong contractions. The nurse came to check her out and then she up'd the epidural dosage. Then, around 6:47 pm, the pain grew pretty intense. The nurse decided it was time to get ready for the baby and so she called the doctor on duty.

Stephanie wasn't waiting around for any doctor. It amazes me that when a woman knows its time to push - she knows! It didn't take any more than 4 pushes before the newest addition to the Balvin family arrived on the scene.

At 7:06 pm, a beautifully pink, 7 lb. 7 oz., 21 and 3/4 inch long baby boy was born. You might have to read that sentence again because you may have missed the fact that I said BOY. Yep! It was a BOY. We had been thinking girl for months but tonight God blessed us with a perfect little baby BOY! It was completely amazing.

*I will announce the name tomorrow when we decide on it.

some action I missed

18.5 hours after admission.

When I got back to our room after my last post Stephanie filled me in on all the action I had missed while I was gone. Since the baby's heart rate was a bit low they had Stephanie breathing with an oxygen mask. They also inserted a couple catheters, one to inject fluid into the placenta and one to monitor Stephanie's contraction intensity. And to keep an eye on the baby's heart rate they stuck some electrode thing on the head. Lots of action but it all sounds preventative and not for worrying about. She is currently a 6 and 100%.


17.5 hours since admission.

The last couple hours have been the most dramatic yet. Stephanie started to get some very strong contractions and was in quite a bit of pain. The nurse gave her some medicine to help with the pain but eventual Stephanie asked for an epidural. Waiting for the anaesthesiologist to arrive was difficult. Stephanie was squeezing my fingers extremely firmly as she tried to breathe through the contractions (thank God she didn't break my thumb but it was close).

During one particularly tough one she whispered to me, "You're getting snipped. I am not doing this again." I think maybe she was kidding, right?

Praise God for medical advancements. The epidural is amazing. Stephanie is resting much easier now. The nurse comes occasionally to check on her and the baby (all the contracting and drugs and commotion have the little one somewhat on edge). We appreciate your prayers. Hopefully it will just be another 2-3 hours!

moving along slowly and deliberately

15 hours since admission.

Well, we're still waiting but we're definitely making progress. Stephanie's body is responding to the drugs and she is contracting with greater frequency and force. It seems like it is taking forever, but we're just letting her body move along at the pace it wants. Right now Stephanie is enjoying some drugs to help ease the pain of the contractions and let her sleep a little bit before all the real fireworks come. To those of you who know here are the stats as of a half hour ago: 3+ cm, 75%.

*I think I am going to order pizza tonight. I'm excited about that...but more excited for the baby of course!

nothing to say yet

11.5 hours since admission.

The drugs are helping the frequency of Stephanie's contractions to increase but not much change is actually happening. Her body is still far from being ready to deliver. So we have been just sitting around waiting on God's timing and watching TV or reading. Kind of boring right now to be honest.

admitted and resting

8 hours since admission.

We arrived at the hospital last night and the nurse on duty confirmed that Stephanie's water had indeed broken. They admitted us and put Stephanie on a monitor to watch the baby's heart beat. Everything is looking good. Stephanie has not started contracting much so they are giving her some medicine to try and get that process started and moving more quickly. She is doing fine with very little pain. If all goes well, Lord willing, we should by singing to our new baby snuggled in our arms by this evening. I'll try and post not too long after the miracle occurs.

is this it?

After visiting the fair and walking around for a few hours earlier in the day, Stephanie told me that tonight that she thinks she is 'leaking' something strange. We called our doctor and he told us to come in. Its a forty minute drive to the hospital so we really hope that this is it. I'll keep you all updated so there's no need to call. Thanks for praying though.

visit me at the MN state fair

If you are traveling to the MN State Fair come and visit me! I will be standing at the Bethel University booth located in the Education Building (located next to the 4H building, just N of the main entrance on Snelling Ave).

Stop by and say hello during any of the following dates:

- Sunday, August 27 from 9 am - 3 pm, or 6-9 pm
- Monday, August 28 from 9 am - 12pm, or 3-9 pm
- Sunday, September 3 from 6-9 pm
- Monday, September 4 from 12-6 pm

*All dates and times are subject to change without notice depending on the arrival of our baby!

thank you David Russell and NCC

Just want to say thanks to David Russell and the folks at National Community Church. I wasn't able to make it out to D.C. this spring for the 2006 Buzz Conference but David packaged up some cool stuff and sent it to me in the mail. I got a surprise box filled with fliers, a couple annual reports, some postcards and even a bag of microwave popcorn.

I love what NCC is doing. Mark Batterson is leading a church that is unique and in many ways cutting edge. I am especially thankfully that they make so much of their creative content available for free. This is Genesis 12 in action and I appreciate how NCC realizes that God has blessed them not as an end in themselves but so that they can be a catalyst for the Kingdom. Keep it up guys!

from the wide world of sports

Here's few things I'm thinking about regarding the wide world of sports...

- how can I possibly convince Stephanie that we NEED to get the NHL Center Ice package for our satellite TV?

- what happened to Tiger today? the bonus thought - how is he so freaking good?

- how sweet would it be if the soaring Twins and the struggling Red Sox both won their divisions and made the play-offs?

-I am tired of wathing NFL preseason games that mean nothing and feature few superstars

- Matt Leinart will be an NFL stud quarterback...too bad he plays for Arizona!

pray for rain because I'm done watering

I finished my last night of duty watering plants in Maple Grove and Woodbury. God has been faithful in providing work opportunities and I praise him for it but I am glad to be done! Staying up all night twice a week was getting increasingly hard on me, Stephanie, and the kids. I am looking forward to plugging back in to a more consistent, sustainable and normal life cycle.

fun with the Boz and the family

Today I had the rare opportunity to hang out with my wife and kids all day. It was great. The kids didn't nap until later than usual so things got a little crazy for awhile but I didn't freak out too bad.

The highlight of the night was going to Northwestern Bookstore. Once a month they have a movie night. Tonight they were premiering Boz: Thank God for Bananas, Bubbles and Busy Bodies. Jacob and Izzy love Boz and it was fun to go and watch the movie with them. The store sets up a big screen and hands out bowls of popcorn to the kids. Izzy ate hers, Jacob's and probably some other little dude's who wasn't paying attention.

After the movie and some shelf shopping (I have about 20 books I want to buy) we walked down to Best Buy. Stephanie had some stuff to pick up there. Jacob and Izzy were jumping in and out of the cart and wanting to watch all the big screen TV's. I should have tried to convince Stephanie to imagine watching Boz on a 57 inch HD flat screen.

file this one under: are you freaking kidding me

Fox news reported a story today about a high school teacher in New York who will be coming back to school this fall dressed and addressed as a woman. The man has apparently been diagnosed with a transsexual disorder - which means he is legally disabled and therefore cannot be discriminated against or fired. He is, however, able to continue influencing and shaping the amiable minds of young people. Oh how Satan must be laughing at this one.

Listen to how deceived and ridiculous the District Superintendent is. He said, "The kids are my biggest concern right now. I want to make sure that we truly address the needs of our students." What? How about addressing their needs by not having a freak teaching in the classroom? That sounds good to me.

Superintendent Richard Stutzman went on to say Thursday that he hoped the discussions, to be followed by a meeting open to the public, would keep the issue from becoming a distraction in the classroom or at school functions. Yeah right... l…

Top Ten books on Personal Piety

I have only recently come across the blog of a guy named Joe Thorn. After seeing this picture of him on Steve McKoy's blog I had to check him out. Here is a list of books on "personal piety" that he posted on Tuesday. I haven't read any of them but I will be checking them out in the future. I share this list for any book nerds like me who may be interested.

Top Ten Books on Personal Piety
10. The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence (Pub. 16–)
A great book to read and discuss with friends. Written by a cook who learned that true blessing is found in a life that is intentionally lived with the awareness that God is with us in whatever we do.
09. The Bruised Reed, Richard Sibbes (Pub. 1630)
Wow. For those who are hurting, weak, convicted and suffering under the weight of sin and losing assurance. Read it for yourself, and read it that you will better know how to help others.
08. Words to Winners of Souls, Horatius Bonar (Pub. 1866)
I read this little book at t…

finally I am it

Quick lean in... I'm about to tell you something that no one else knows... I have always wanted to get 'tagged.' Thanks to Joseph that secret wish has become a reality.

1. One book that changed your life:
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
2. One book you’ve read more than once:
The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen
3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Survive on a Desert Island by Claire Llewellyn
4. One book that made you laugh:
Everyone's Normal Until You Get to Know Them by John Ortberg
5. One book that made you cry:
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis
6. One book you wish had been written:

Male and Female Friendship from a Biblical Perspective
7. One book you wish had never been written:
Left Behind series by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye (I don't like when works of fiction have such an influence on people's theology)
8. One book you’re currently reading:
Now, Discover Your Strengths by Donald Clifton and Marcus Buckingham
9. One book you’ve been meaning…

it keeps on going...and going...and going

Jason at the StudyCorner blog recently picked up my Breastfeeding vs. Porn post.

It just keeps on spreading.

so long nukies

Stephanie decided that having three kids in diapers and addicted to nukies would not be a good idea so last week she took the nuks away. I am suprsed at how well the kids have done adapting to this. They still ask for them every so often, especially at bedtime, but overall they have done a good job.

Stephanie is doing an amazing job despite being the at the tail end of her pregnancy. The decision to take the nuks away was a bold one that would cost her a little piece of her sanity. The kids talk much more now with their mouths unoccupied. Way to go Stephanie! I am proud of you. Plus this decision has long term affects - we might be able to save some money by not needing braces.

10 Easy Steps to Destroying Your Denomination

My favorite Bible thumping, controversy starting, stick to your convictions pastor and theologian Mark Driscoll recently posted this,

10 Easy Steps to Destroying Your Denomination
Have a low view of Scripture and, consequently, the deity of Jesus.Deny that we were made male and female by God, equal but with distinct roles in the home and church.Ordain liberal women in the name of tolerance and diversity.Have those liberal women help to ordain gay men in the name of greater tolerance and diversity.Accept the worship of other religions and their gods in the name of still greater tolerance and diversity.Become so tolerant that you, in effect, become intolerant of people who love Jesus and read their Bible without scoffing and snickering.End up with only a handful of people who are all the same kind of intolerant liberals in the name of tolerance and diversity.Watch the Holy Spirit depart from your churches and take people who love Jesus with Him.Fail to repent but become more committed tha…

simple pleasures

Yesterday was a great day. I went in to work for a few hours and then we went as a staff to Red Robin for lunch. A woman in our office recently received a full time recruiter position at the seminary (plus it was her birthday) so we went out to celebrate her.

Then I met Stephanie in Maple Grove. My sister was kind enough to watch the kids for us so that we could have a couple hours alone together before the baby arrives. We had a fun time bumming around a couple stores, eating some Chipotle chips and quac, and sharing a carameled apple. It was nice to be together without worrying about which kid was ripping clothes off the racks or running into the street.

And the best part of the day was that I got a new wedding ring. Mine has been lost in the bottom of the ocean since Stephanie and I went to Hawaii last January. I picked up a simple silver one at a store for $30. It feels good to have something on my finger again.

announcement pt. 3

All the appropriate people have been spoken to and so its time to reveal my announcement to the rest of you...

I got a new full time job! I will be the General Manager of an A&W restaurant in Coon Rapids starting next Tuesday.

The way that everything has worked on is awesome. Stephanie and I can feel God's hands all over this new venture in our lives. For the last two months I have been working three part time jobs to keep food on the table. Now I will only have to work one. I have also spent almost an hour and a half in the car each day. Now that time will be cut in half.

We have been praying for quite awhile that God would open a door for us as we transition into a new phase of life. He has been faithful. We are both confident that God is using this time to build into us and repair some things that were damaged. We also feel assured that I will one day return to full time pastoral ministry. I know that I am called to preach but for now I am grateful that God is good and he…

Chesterton on the subject of joy

The Church of the Open Door is in the middle of a series on the Fruit of the Spirit and yesterday Pastor David Johnson preached on the subject of joy. He . There was one quote during the sermon that really hit me. It was from G.K. Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy. Chesterton said:

"For we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we are."

The quote contains this wonderful description of the joy of children and how they can perform the same act again and again, each time experiencing massive quantities of joy (if you are a parent of have spent anytime entertaining someone's kids you surly know what I mean).

Chesterton goes on to describe God as being in the business of joyfully creating each individual flower and tree. Again and again God tells the sun to rise and the star to fill the night sky, not because he has to or because everything is set in some kind of eternal, monotonous cycle of predictable recurrence, but simply because he delights in the act.

the father of Willow Creek

This quote is from a good article about Bill Hybels that was in the Chicago Tribune. Read the whole article here.

"That's where I first understood the central message of redemption, that something was done for me by Christ and was available to me as a gift, as opposed to there being some standard I had to try to achieve at the risk of my soul," he [Hybels] said.

link via Ben

hunting for tiger

What an awesome picture. Tiger is set to wrap it up today. I am pretty sure that he has never lost a major when leading or tied for the lead at the start of the final round (11-0). That is amazing.

announcement pt. 2

Sorry I didn't post my announcement. I will do it soon. There is someone I need to talk to personally first.

get your sail in the air

I heard a great metaphor last night that has been in my head ever since. I think I've even told it to like three people. Maybe you've heard this before...

Our life is like a sailboat and it is our job simply to raise the sail. Then we let the wind blow the boat wherever the wind wants to blow it. We don't try to control the wind, we just keep the sail up in the air to catch it.

The wind in this metaphor is the Holy Spirit. If we are faithful and attuned to God through his Son Jesus he will be faithful to guide us in the direction he wants for us. The problem is that too often we try and determine the direction we'll go. Sometimes we need to just sit back and let God's Spirit direct us instead of fussing and trying to do it all ourselves.

can't miss sports weekend

If you are a sports fan with some extra time there is some great stuff to watch this weekend. Unfortunately, the fabulous contests that I have been looking forward to have only gone 50% good and 50% bad so far.

Tiger is looming near the top of the leaderboard in the PGA championship - good.

The Red Sox got absolutely hammered by the Yankees twice today - bad. (luckily they have three more consecutive games to make it up)

We'll see what happens tomorrow.


I am hoping to make an announcement Saturday night that will have great ramifications for my family so stay tuned...

books, books, I love books

After a long drought I'm starting to get on a roll. Yesterday I won another free book entitled: A Leader's Legacy.

Thank you InBubbleWrap and 800 CEORead for making it all possible.

want to play Bible trivia

This is the most idiotic, stupid, ridiculous, insane, dumb hilarious video I've seen in a while.

Game show that punishes guys for wrong answers

Thanks for the link Pete and Scott for the link.

insider language pt. 2

Yesterday I was talking with Joseph and he told me a funny story about a conversation he had not too much earlier that day. He was on the University campus and was approached by a group of Asian girls who were trying to ask him something in pretty broken English. Eventually he realized that they wanted to know where the bathroom was and so he said, "Its down the hall about a stone's throw away."

The girls just looked at him and he realized that they had no idea what the phrase 'stone's throw away' meant. These girls were coming from a different culture which spoke a different language. Joseph had to adjust what he was saying if he was going to connect his message with their ears.

The same is true when you and I talk to people about the Gospel. We need to remember that most people do not know theology-speak. We need to be smart about the words we use and choose images and phrases that will connect with our friends in their cultural context. This doesn't mean…

insider language

Here's a note I wrote for another person in my office this morning:

Chr* Man* not coming, still getting info though
I STERM'd her and V'd her SEMINQ and put an N in H &MIs this ok?

Looking at the note made me think about 'insider' language. I wondered, "How often do churches use insider language that makes me people feel excluded or confused? What barriers do our words create? What about the people who want to learn a new language? What deep concepts and truths get lost in the dumbing down of language? What is the balance?"

The same kind of thinking can be applied to business as well. My wife is a Tupperware consultant (check that, she is a manager). I am always talking to her and telling her to be careful about using 'insider Tupper-language' with potential buyers, party hosts and recruits. We have to remember that if people don't do what we do, they won't know what we know or speak what we speak. This means we have to be crystal clear wi…

first impressions matter

I am fortunate to work with someone who cares as much about first impressions as I do.

Yesterday I had to sit through a meeting regarding the details of some work I am going to be doing for Bethel at the MN State Fair. During the meeting my boss said some good things about keeping our area and table clean and organized. He mentioned that people approach our table with neutral feelings and with in 10 seconds they will make a decision about whether or not to stop and talk to us. I personally think it might be even faster than that, but nevertheless.

This same attitude carries over into the office where we work. The dress code here is work casual, but there is an aura of professionalism that is expected to carry over into everything. The way we answer phones, treat visitors, the background music, the office decor - it is all meant to give a positive first impressions to potential students that approach us.

I am learning more and more that these beliefs must be continually lifted up and fou…

Charles Spurgeon

It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed.

developing leaders need to be tested

This morning I came across a great little passage in 2 Corinthians on the development of leadership in churches. Often times churches are desperatingly trying to plug leadership holes with breathing bodies rather than proven leaders. I think this happens because church build programs before they build people.

Unfortunately what happens is that churches often end up with the wrong people in the wrong seats. The worst examples of this would be an instance where a pedophile ends up working in the youth ministries or elders who are stealing offerings. The examples don't have to be that extreme though. It might just be that negative and pessimistic people end up on visionary boards or people with gossipy mouths handle confidential prayer requests or unorganized sloppy people volunteer in administration positions.

All of the above examples are the result of elders and pastors building programs before building people. It seems like Paul has a much more hands on approach to leadership de…

people from every tongue, tribe and nation

Here's the headline that came across our email announcements today at work:

Immigration Naturalization Service, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Benson Great Hall

Every so often Bethel University plays host to some very large immigration naturalization services. Today as I walked over to the university campus (I work at the Seminary) I saw long lines of people waiting to complete paper work and register their attendance at the service.

It was pretty awesome to walk amongst so many people of all different nationalities and races. There was a non-interpretable buzz in the room as the vast number of different languages were simultaneously being spoken and combining together into one noise as they floated up to the ceiling of the lobby.

I feel like this experience was a picture of heaven. It was like walking through an earthly shadow of what the Apostle John wrote about in Revelation 7:9-10:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe…

dealing with the critiques

I am really enjoying the feedback I am getting on my blanket ministry post.

I knew when I wrote it that I would get in trouble for associating blanket making with Women's Ministry. That's ok with me. I understand that women don't want to be stereotyped. I also know there are like 6 guys somewhere in the world who would really enjoy cutting and tying fabric for a couple hours. I'm cool with that.

I should have labeled blanket making as a great ministry for people with the spiritual gifts of service/helps and mercy. This would be a much more Biblical categorization, ignoring of course the stereotypes found in Proverbs 31:22-24 and Acts 16:14.

brenton the builder

So I'm really not a very handy guy around the house but I think that I'm getting better. Recently I have painted a bedroom, sanded, primed and painted a dresser, put heat resistant spray paint on an outdoor fireplace cover, and replaced a couple lights bulbs. But none of the aobve prepared me for my task tonight.

We have not had satellite TV for the last week. This is because the army of men who came and reshingled our townhouse (in a day, btw) didn't put the thing back in the right spot. So tonight (@ 10:25 pm) I decided to fix it, feeling like my wife deserved the chance to watch TV with our kids. I knew that without Barney at 10:30am and Sesame Street at 5pm she would probably go insane.

At first I tried the simple solution of just calling our satellite provider. Well, 45 minutes and 1 million pre-recorded prompts later I knew a whole lot about manual restarts, coax cables, and switch checks but the problem still remained. So I called back and talked with a good guy name…

blanket making ministry

This is a great ministry idea for youth and women's ministries. Volunteers make blankets for terminally ill children and seniors. The cost of making blankets is low and people can have fun talking or watching movies while they make them. Then they can see the impact their service has when the blankets are delivered. I know this post is totally sexist, but can you seriously imagine dudes sitting around talking and making blankets?

Consider it something like a modern day tent making ministry.

i won again

Its been a while since the last time I won a book, but the shutout streak was broken last week when I won The Triple Bottom Line.

If you're interested in winning quality free books make sure you sign-up with

only because I love her that much

Dude, I just finished painting my wife's toe nails. If you know me you know that I am not an adult foot fan. Kids feet are fine but once you get around 10 and up - no way! If this wasn't the third time in three years that I've made my wife go through pregnancy there'd be no way I would be touching and painting her toes. Sound harsh? Yep but that's just me. I passionately hate feet.

woman gives birth alone in a crashed car

Here's a remarkable story about a 21 yr. old woman who gave birth to a daughter in her car. The young woman was driving to the hospital in the early morning hours when a strong contraction caused her to crash her car. She spent a few hours trapped in the car with a broken leg before police found and aided her. The baby seems to be fine and is appropriately named Myracle.

Pregnant Woman in Labor Crashes Car, Gives Birth Alone

My wife is due with our third child sometime between August 20 and 30. Doctors are never totally sure about this stuff. Man, I can only pray something like this doesn't happen to Stephanie.

By the way, the above woman's story is a great reason why everyone should have a charged cell phone while they drive.

*Also, please be praying for Pete and his wife who recently suffered a miscarriage. Pete reads this blog, has a great blog himself, and seems to be a really neat guy. Stephanie and I have never had to go through this, but we have friends who have. Pray …

sports terrorism or athlete liberation

Unless you are a passionate hockey fan you've probably never heard of Evgeni Malkin. But there is a very interesting story developing in regard to the 20 tear old Russian phenom.

Malkin is the most sought after hockey player in the last few years and has been compared to a young Mario Lemieux. His NHL rights are in the possession of the Pittsburg Penguins, who, incidentily, are owned by Lemieux. He has always stated his intent was to come to America and play in the NHL but he recently was forced to sign a 1 year contract with a Russian Superleague team. However, four days ago Malkin disappeared from training camp in Finland.

The departure of Malkin has Russian hockey officials in an uproar. Here are a few quotes:

"They all like to talk about democracy, the American way and then they shamelessly steal our best players. This is pure sports terrorism." said Gennady Velichkin, who is the general director of the Russian hockey club Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

"Don't forget,…

a much needed Sabbath

I'm headed out the door and going home. Its been a long week, but it has also good week. God is faithful as He promises; He showed up all over the place for us.

Tomorrow I'm taking a Sabbath rest. This means going to worship and learn in church. Next, lots of couch time watching football and golf and baseball. Maybe even a nap. Then it means playing 'tackle' and dolls and trucks and 'choo-choos' with my kids. Fourthly it means out crying my wife while we watch Extreme Home Makeover. Finally it means ordering a pizza and eating chips and salsa and drinking something tasty very slowly with good friends.

And it means remembering the One who gave it all to me and died so that I could enjoy it so deeply.

C.J. Mahaney

This is what I hold out to my young son as the hope of his life: that Jesus, God's perfect, righteous Son, died in his place for his sins. Jesus took all the punishment; Jesus received all the wrath as he hung on the Cross, so people like [Chad] and his sinful daddy could be completely forgiven.

Mark Driscoll on church innovation

(thanks Steve)For Mark Driscoll, being innovative as a church means getting young men into the church. Quotes...The problem in the church today is just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickafied church boys. 60% of Christians are chicks and the 40% that are dudes are still sort of...chicks. It's just sad.We're looking around going, How come we're not innovative? Cause all the innovative dudes are home watching football or they're out making money or climbing a mountain or shooting a gun or working on their truck. They look at the church like that's a nice thing for women and children. So the question is if you want to be innovative: How do you get young men? All this nonsense on how to grow the church. One issue: young men. That's it. That's the whole thing. They're going to get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate. They're going to make the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war, you …

the discipline of God is real and it is an act of love

Don't you hate discipline? I know I did when I was a kid. I never enjoyed having to face the consequences of my behavior. Now as an adult the shoe is on the other foot. Often I am the one doing the disciplining and it sucks. I find no joy when I have to discipline my kids. But I know that it is necessary. I needed it when I was young so that I would learn to make solid decisions. My own kids need it now so that they will develop into mature, moral, responsible, and noble young adults.

I was listening to an archived sermon by David Johnson on Hebrews 12:4-11, regarding the discipline of God. He preached that God does not punish us for our sins. Its real easy to confuse or combine discipline and punishment. But God does not punish us for our sins because the punishment reserved for us has already been handed down to Jesus when he died for us on the cross. We can never make restitution to God for our sin, only Jesus could accomplish that.

Therefore we shouldn't think of God's…

hey Ed - where'd that idea come from anyway?

This is super funny stuff.

Back in June I quoted from Ed Young Jr. when he spelled out fear in a message like this:

F alse
E vidence
A ppearing
R eal

Today I was reading a Joyce Meyer book that my wife gave me and she uses the very same acronym. The kicker is that her book is copyright 2003, which makes me think that Ed Young is using Joyce Meyer stuff in his talks.

I wonder why he doesn't give her source credit?

good grief: 10 stages of grief

I just finished reading a little pamphlet entitled Good Grief. Its a very short work that can be read in less than an hour. In the pamphlet the author outlines 10 stages of grief. His goal is to help people identify the different stages of grief, both within themselves and in the lives of others, and then to understand that going through these stages is normal and ok. He never goes deep into the stages of guilt, leaving instead a very bare bones outline. So, while not very complex, it is something that all pastors should at least in their office as a quick reference tool.

The 10 Stages of Grief

1. State of Shock
2. Expression of Emotion
3. Feeling Depressed and Very Lonely
4. Physical Symptoms of Distress
5. Becoming Panicky
6. Feeling a Sense of Guilt about the Loss
7. Anger and Resentment
8. Resisting Returning to Real Life
9. Hope Gradually Coming Through
10. Struggling to Affirm Reality

I thank God that I have been spared the pain of very much suffering and grief thus far in my life. This pa…

praising God for denial day

As some of you know, and some of you don't know, I resigned from my position as Associate Pastor about a month ago. The primary reason I did this was because it became clear to me that I needed to grow in certain aspects of the 1 Timothy 3:1-10 requirements for eldership before I continue on in pastoral leadership. This was a very difficult decision for my family and I, however I am confident that God will one day restore me to ministry with a greater love for Christ and a larger heart for His people.

Since I am not drawing a paycheck from the church I have been working hard to make ends meet for our family. Currently I am working three part-time jobs, one of which runs 2 nights a week from 10 pm-6 am. I am not complaining about this. God is providing for our family in wonderful ways. My reliance upon Him to meet our needs is at one of the highest points it has ever been. My schedule is not maintainable however. Next month one of my jobs will end, and another will end in November. …

CMS Heart and Soul

I want to take a second and let you all know that the Church Marketing Sucks blog and the Center for Church Communication are doing a blogging series on the Heart and Soul of what they do. I really appreciate Kevin and the guys who run CMS. They have a heart for the church and they want to see it be as effective as possible at reaching people with the Gospel message. This means tearing down stupid barriers like crappy marketing. CMS is working to unite church leaders, to open source design and promotional materials, and to encourage us all to do what we can to make sure our marketing doesn't suck. They even got Mr. Evotional Mark Batterson to weigh in. Make sure you check out this series and pass the word around.

Jesus didn't have sex with his secretary

Something to think about from Matt Chandler...

The last thing I'’ll mention about Jesus'’ life is that, when he was finally overwhelmed and exhausted right before the cross, he didn'’t have sex with his secretary. He asked publicly for prayer. I habitually ask the people who worship at The Village to pray for me and my family. Sometimes I even give them details about the specific area they can pray about. I need it. I am a young, aggressive, alpha male who didn't get hugged by his dad a lot; no doubt I have serious issues. The people of The Village have been so faithful; I believe, at times, that God's response to their prayers has provided the power to help me keep going.

C.T. Studd

If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.

there's an easier way to track new blog posts

I copied this post from Tony Morgan although some of the details have been changed to make it applicable to my blog. So from here on it's really Tony's great writing...
As always, I want to do whatever I can to help you simplify your life. With that in mind, here's a quick overview of how you can enjoy following blogs like this one while investing less of your time.Here's the reality, several of you are running around the Internet visiting this site and then that site and then that site and so on. I know, because I can see the stats on my end from all the hits I'm getting through browser searches. That process takes time. Lots of your precious time. You deserve to have that time back to golf more.Right now, I'm tracking about 50 (Brenton) different blogs, but it only takes me a handful of minutes each day. Rather than visiting each of those sites individually, I take advantage of Really Simple Syndication (RSS)to let the fun come to me in one location where I ca…

what worship music are you singing

In conjunction with the discussion that happened over at Tony's blog on fixing worship music I have a question:

"What songs are you folks doing in your churches these days that seem to be really connecting with people, and bringing people into contact with God?"

It seems to me that songs like Better Is One Day and Power Of Your Love need to be laid to rest. Not that they aren't great songs, but they have been played so many times.

Please let me know what songs your doing/singing. Also, let me know who your target audience is and what musical style your church uses. Thanks.

*You don't have to be a church leader to weigh in here. What CD's are you buying? What radio songs/artists are moving you?

conviction fuels passionate behavior and success

It may seem like Seth Godin night on my blog but I promise you this is not intentional, I've just happened to come across some good stuff at the same time. Guy Kawasaki posted 10 Questions with Seth and this answer really stuck out to me.

I do things where I actually think I’m right, as opposed to where I think succeeding will make me successful. When you think you’re right, it’s more fun and your passion shows through.

19 Tips for Writing a Book

Someday I will write a book. In the meantime I'll keep storing up good information about writing a book. Today Kevin pointed my attention to something Seth Godin recently blogged on - 19 tips for aspiring writers like me.

I was challenged by tip #2 to start focusing some ideas now that I might write about later:

The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you'll need later.

the spread of information in the blog-o-sphere

Its funny how things spread around the blog-o-sphere. I just saw a post on the Church Relevance blog that was highlighting some statistics I blogged on a couple weeks ago. Church Relevance credited Transition Pete as the source of the stats. Pete took the stats off my blog, and I took the stats off a website that was featured on the Reston Baby blog.

*Jim at Church Tech Matters just picked up on the church safety theme. Way to go Jim!

Its also interesting how the same information changes meaning and focus as it traverses from blog to blog. Ainsley (on RestonBaby) was talking about a website that helps you identify if there are sexual offenders living in your neighborhood. From that site, I used the stats to talk about thedevastatingg affects of porn in our world. Pete mainly mirrored my post (though he added a great summary sentence which I copied for you below), and now Church Relevance is using those same stats as a platform for discussing the importance of good church security. Cool…


Life has been pretty crazy since Thursday for me. Working lots, sleeping little.

I did get a chance to play golf on Friday. My uncle is in town (he and his family live in Japan) and so we went and played at The Links at Northfork. I shot 48-47, which was OK considering I worked all night before I played. It was fun just to hang out with him and talk about life, culture, sports, and faith.

A friend from Bethel Seminary (not her on her blog pic btw) weighed in recently on my Porn v. Breastfeeding post. She offers some provoking thoughts for you to consider. Check out my post and her comments here.

fun with names day

Today is officially "Fun with Names Day!"

John has some fun things going on over on his blog, combining spouses names like the celebrity couples (i.e. - Bennifer and Brangolina). Working under this model makes my wife and I...Brephanie.

Then, over on the Batterson blog Mark is handing out super secret spy names based on the military alphabet code. Under this code I become Bravo Bravo and my sidekick is Sierra Bravo. My kids are Juliet and India and Lima (ha ha, what is that darn baby name going to be, leave me some guesses!).

What kind of fun can you have with your name today?

what the heck is hell

Last night I was listening to a sermon about hell. The pastor was talking about his remorse that some prominent evangelical leaders have/or are abandoning the doctrine of eternal suffering in a literal hell. Men like Clark Pinnock and John Stott have both espoused belief in the idea of annihilation (which I believe C.S. Lewis held to as well). Last year I read a book by Brian McLaren called "The Last Word and the Word after That" which approaches the topic of hell from the emerging church's side of the coin.

I have flipped flopped around on the idea of hell as a literal or metaphoric place. I'm not quite sure where I stand right now, but I guess if pressed hard I would lean towards a literal hell, allowing the seemingly conflicting pictures of hell (lake of fire - how is fire complete darkness?) to be more reminds of hell's horror than actual descriptions.

*What do you believe about the doctrine of hell?

The main thing is what the pastor preached about. Actually …

Greg Boyd and the Myth of a Christian Nation

Wow. When I stumbled upon this NY Times article and blogged about it a few days ago and I had no idea that it would cause such a social stirring.

A recent Star Tribune article (Call to get politics out of pulpit puts pastor in spotlight) says that,

"After the Times story appeared, Greg Boyd's book, "The Myth of a Christian Nation," jumped from No. 32,738 to 54 on Published by Zondervan, the book is subtitled: "How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church.""

Plus, my boss just told me that he has a friend who helped edit the book and she told him that Greg has been contacted by both 60 Minutes and Dateline.

This is a great opportunity for a large chunk of the population to hear about Jesus in a little different light than they may have previously. I had Greg as a professor when I was at Bethel University and my wife and I have visited Woodland Hills Church. We both appreciate the passion Greg has for loving lost people and for the…

the papacy of celebrity

"With a celebrity church culture is it any surprise that less celebrated pastors may lack self-esteem? With parishioners consuming excellent preaching Monday thru Saturday, it’s understandable why their expectations for Sunday are high. I can also understand why churches are happily adopting video venues to keep quality high and religious consumers satisfied. Some churches are even forgoing a preaching pastor altogether. Opting instead to use the previously recorded video messages of a celebrity pastor from across the country."

taken from: Out of Ur (the Leadership Journal blog)
post title taken from: Shane Hipps

soul gardening

I am currently reading through a book my wife recommended to me. I don't read enough of the books she tells me to, mostly because my own 'reading list' is so long. There was an illustration in this particular book that hit home for me.

The author quotes Jesus words in Matthew regarding 'good trees having good fruit and bad tress having bad fruit.' The author's point is that all our behavior stems from the roots we have deep in our souls garden. (my addition) What we need, the author argues, is to be uprooted from the bad soil, and implanted in Jesus Christ where we can begin to grow new roots that will bear good fruit.

I have learned it is possible to cover up bad fruit for a while. Sometimes I can even manage some of the effects of my poor root system by my own will power. Ultimately though the fruit of the bad roots, like weeds, will force its way to the surface somewhere else.

What I have to do then is change the growing ground. I need to plant my soul in a new…

heat wave

I am so hot...

Minnesota weather has been crazy warm. In July alone there were 17 days over 90, topped off by hitting the 101 mark yesterday. Thank God for air conditioning - I'd bet Minnesota is the hottest place around right now.

In fact, post your location and temperature in the comments and we'll find out...

loving like Jesus

Today I was moved by the sight of a younger woman walking along the lake side with an older woman who was obviously mentally and physically handicapped. I have a deep respect for people whose life service is to handicapped people. It takes a huge chunk of Jesus' heart.

Henri Nouwen, a deceased Catholic priest and writer, is well-known for some of the work he did with a man at a Canadian L'Arche community, but there are untold numbers of people who serve the handicapped everyday in schools, homes and institutions.

Thank you for showing us Jesus.