Showing posts from October, 2006

why i love halloween

I wish I had a camera. Right now I am the happiest guy on the planet. Sitting right on front of me is my half eaten steak fajita burrito from Chipotle. It is stuffed with lettuce, hot salsa, sour cream, pinto beans, rice, and guacamole. Oh man, it is so good. And even better because it was free.

Just wrap tinfoil on your arms and go into the store looking like a burrito and your food is free! Chitpole must be taking a huge hit but I am loving it. I'm taking the whole family there tonight. We're all dressing up! I love Halloween.

Ok I gotta go. This thing is staring at me and begging to be eaten...

free Chipotle

I love Chipotle. So obviously I was super pumped to find out that there are free burritos on Halloween to anyone who goes into the stores dressed like a burrito. I'm doing that for sure!

In the mean time, check out these videos. Chipotle did an advertising gig at Universities where they asked students to create 30 second video spots. There are some pretty funny ones.

NFL football round-up

Some great football yesterday.

Two of my favorite quarterbacks went head on, with the old vet (Brett Farve) showing the young rookie (Matt Leinhart) how its done. Rounding out my Top Three was Payton Manning doing what Manning does - win. What a great finish against Denver.

L.J. finally made some noise for Kansas City. McNabb and the Eagles (and Steeleres as well) continued chocking their season away.

Finished off the night watching the Cowboys rally and ultimately destroy the Panthers. What else can I say? T.O. is the man.

the changing face of youth ministry

As a former Youth Pastor I was intrigued by this quote from Time Magazine on the changing face of youth ministry.

The transformation in philosophy and programming that the quote mentions are things that I wrestled with often. How do people who work with youth reach out and attract non-churched kids, while at the same time building up youth of faith so that that faith matures instead of withers as students age?
Youth ministers have been on a long and frustrating quest of their own over the past two decades or so. Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugarcoated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early '9…

Charles Spurgeon on Attractive Preaching

Joe Thorn recently wrote...

Many, if not most, of my readers are in seminary or ministry so I thought I would share a few quotes on preaching - again. This morning I was reading, “Preaching for the Poor,” an amazing sermon by Charles Spurgeon. Later in the week I want to get to his thoughts on preaching the Gospel to the poor specifically, but today I wanted to share what he had to say about preaching itself.The “Prince of Preachers” argues that when the Gospel is preached it “must be preached attractively…,” and that means following the example of Jesus. He said, “we must preach as Christ did; we must tell anecdotes, and stories, and parables, as he did; we must come down and make the gospel attractive.”For Spurgeon, what makes the Gospel attractive is a combination of earnestness and comprehensibility. He said,Christ Jesus was an attractive preacher; he sought above all means to set the pearl in a frame of gold, that it might attract the attention of the people. He was not willing to…

we need to read

I love reading. It is a passion that my mother helped foster in me as a child and it is something that I will forever be grateful for. Sadly my passion for books is a dying passion among the greater culture as people's addiction to television, movie watching, sports viewing, video gaming playing, and other mindless activities takes over.

People just don't put a premium on reading anymore. This is even true in the church as pastors are designating more and more time to developing marketing strategies and thinking up catchy sermon titles. I have spoken with pastors who tell me, "I just don't have time to read." I think this is a tragedy. And apparently so does the great preacher Charles Spurgeon.

Justin Taylor posted this except from a sermon preached by Spurgeon in 1863 on 2 Tim. 4:13 ("The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchment"):

How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is i…

9 Lists for Web Designers

I got this list off the Church Marketing Sucks site. I know a few web design people check out this blog and thought maybe something here could benefit you. I love looking at these sites and I wish I had the time/talent to do web design myself.

From CMS: Some of these lists and resources are older, but they age like fine wine and can still offer some help and hope to church web designers.8 Web Design Cliches of 2006 - Odd names and misplaced dots and gradients, excessive use thereof are my favorites. 9 Ways to Misunderstand Web Standards - This one's pretty techie in nature, but if you're a designer you've got to understand (and not misunderstand) your web standards. 5 Techniques for Picking a Domain Name - Some great ideas and tips for how to pick that pesky but all important url. The Worst Web Design Techniques Featured on Web Pages That Suck in 2005 - Don't do what they do. 5 Steps to Building Better Web Sites - A few basic ideas for starting a site right. 75 Helpful …

Book Review: In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day

Just posted an review of Mark Batterson's book "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day." Make sure you click on the link in the previous sentence to read the full review. Here are some additional personal reflections on the book.

What a great book. It inspired me, challenged me, encouraged me, and focused me. It made me want to run out and engage something. It made me want to face risk and adversity and fear head on. It made me rethink what faith and courage and righteousness are all about. It made me want to chase some lions down and put a God-sized whopping on them.

Mark's book is easy to read and packed with humor, intellect, wisdom and insight. He has this way of writing that makes his books fun to read, and yet they are not by any means topically light. This book is packed with truth about God and the life that He has for us. It was hard not to underline and circle something on every page. And I constantly had to refrain myself from blogging al…

its always something at the A&W (and in leadership)

Since I have been working as the General Manager of an A&W restaurant I have done/had done the following:

- fixed an ice machine that wasn't making ice
- fixed a pop-clogged pipe that stunk like death
- fixed the heating element on a corn cooker
- fixed a heating tray that wasn't heating
- purchased two Koala changing stations (yet to be installed)
- replaced the bolts on one of our outdoor picnic tables
- fixed a pop-clogged check valve in the soda dispenser
- fixed a power switch on our heated holding table
- replaced two broken belts on our hood vents and exhaust systems
- purchased a new toilet handle (yet to be installed)
- replaced multiple lights bulbs

It seems like everyday there are issues to be dealt at my store. So much so that our mantra has become "its always something at the A&W!"

Some days the 'somethings' are minor issues, and other times the challenges are more significant. I haven't even listed any of the issues I face with employees and cu…

the cringe factor

The is the first time in a while that I haven't been to Willow Creek for their A2 conference. I miss it. I really enjoy going to Willow and being inspired and recharged. Mark Batterson is there though and he blogged this word of advice this morning.
Mark & Nicole Conner from Citylife Church in Australia shared in the Thursday afternoon session at A2.

Nicole said they try to remove what they call the cringe factor. I think most church goers know what the cringe factor is intuitively. Here's my definition: it's something you do that is totally out of touch with culture or you couldn't get by with outside the four walls of the church.

Nicole said we blame alot of the things that make people cringe on the Holy Spirit.

I think our gatherings ought to have miraculous and mysterious elements that aren't understandable to people without spiritual intuition. But those things don't make people cringe. They produce awe.

We need to be diligent in removing human stumbling bl…

firefox 2.0

I started using the Firefox web browser about 6 months ago and I totally love it. It is an open source browser that is very user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. Plus there are many add-ons and extensions that you can utilize if you have the time and talent. (One really cool thing I just noticed is that Firefox is spell checking this entry as I type it. Sweet!)

If you don't use Firefox you need to start using it today. Go here and download it for free.

where are the dudes leading our schools?

As General Manager one of my responsibilities is to drive sales at our restaurant. I am currently trying to put together a campaign where some people from our store (including a large Root Beer Bear mascot) would visit local elementary schools and visit with students. The visit would include free 'Birthday Float' coupons for each student.

One interesting thing...
as I looked up and emailed the 16 elementary schools in close proximity to our store there was a trend that surprised me - of the sixteen schools there were 13 female principals. That really caught me of guard. Thirteen woman and three men. Wow. What's going on here.

Some questions...
1. Is this a new thing?
2. Has the push for equality in recent years made school administrators more likely to promote women?
3. Are there more women in the education system than before?
4. Is this even surprising or am I just naive?
5. I wonder if the lack of male leadership in schools has anything to do with higher reported cases of ADD an…

i love math and i'm pretty good at it

Math. Who didn't love it growing up? OK, so maybe most kids didn't like it. I actually did. In fact, I only have two bad math memories.

The first was when I was in 8th grade and I was taking an 'accelerated' 9th grade Algebra class. There was this cute girl sitting in front of me. She made me so nervous. Then one day she turned around and said to me, "Stop chomping on your gum, you sound like a cow!" I wished I could have disappeared under my desk.

The other bad math memory I have is when I was in 10th grade. The teacher and I couldn't find a way to get along. We were like oil and water all year long. I don't really remember what the rub was, but it made math pretty un-enjoyable that year (the bright side was that I had a cute girl in this class as well and we got along really well).'s an interesting story about U.S. kids and their decreasing math stills compared to some of our global counterparts.
USA Today: "The more kids like mat…

how to attract the formerly churched

Yesterday we highlighted some research by LifeWay Research that investigated the reasons behind why people leave the church. But there is a second part to the research that explores how to bring back the formerly churched. The Christian Post published the findings, and highlights from their article include:The Probability62% of the formerly churched adults said they are open to the idea of attending church regularly again, but not actively looking.28% said they are unlikely to consider regularly attending church in the foreseeable future.6% said they would prefer to resume attending regularly in the same church they had attended.4% said they are actively looking for a different church to attend regularly.The average formerly churched adult has not attended regularly for 14 years.The Catalyst58% said they simply felt that it was time to return to the church.41% said a friend or acquaintance invited them.35% said they would return if they knew there were people there like them.31% felt …

preaching law and grace

Now it has sometimes been disputed among most earnest and zealous ministers, which is the most likely means of bringing souls to Christ; whether it is the thunder of the threatening, or the still small whisper of the promise. I have heard some ministers who preferred the first; they have constantly dwelt upon the terrors of the law, and they have certainly, many of them, been eminently useful. they hare had Scripture for their warrant Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. With “terrible things in righteousness” declaring the just anger and judgment of God against sin, they have alarmed those who were sitting at ease in a graceless state, and have thus been the means in the hands of God, of inducing them to flee from the wrath to come.Some, on the other hand, have rather decried the threatenings; and have dwelt almost entirely upon the promises. Like John their ministry has been full of love; they have constantly preached from such texts as this—”Come now, and let …

why people leave church

The Christian Post has published the results of a recent study by LifeWay Research that investigated the reasons why some people stopped attending church. The discoveries include:59% of those who left the church did so because of “changes in life situation.”
19% “simply got too busy to attend church.”
17% said “family/home responsibilities prevented church attendance.”
— Other reasons explained were moving too far from the church, work situation and divorce or separation.37% leave because of “disenchantment with pastor/church.”
17% said church members “seemed hypocritical” and “were judgmental of others.”
12% said “the church was run by a clique that discouraged involvement.”80% of the formerly churched do not have a strong belief in God, which the study indicated may account for their higher priorities of work and family over church.42% said they are “Christian, but not particularly devout.” 24% consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.” 19% said they are “a devout Christ…

Boyd, CNN, evangelicals, politics, faith

Can't wait for the Greg Boyd/Jim Wallis dialogue tonight. Should be great. Rumor is that CNN will be there covering the conversation as part of a piece they are doing on young evangelicals and politics.

Boyd had an editorial published in a recent issue of the major local newspaper in our area. In it he wrote...
I believe everyone should vote their faith and values, whatever they happen to be. But as an evangelical pastor, I encourage Christians to get back to following Jesus' beautiful example. Love and serve the world without judgment.Good words. Contrary to rumor Boyd has never told people not to vote. I think this proves that.


This is a terribly sad statement that I heard from one of my workers tonight. A 16 year old girl said, "I'm not getting married. I am scared of divorce." She also sings in her Presbyterian churches youth choir. Sad.

whose idea was this?

I think it is weird that all the cartoons on kids underwear are on the butt side of the garmet. My son just started wearing underwear and the poor kid has to wear them backwards so that he can look down and see Thomas the Train staring back at him. Just doesn't seem fair...

autism and childhood television watching

A new study from Cornell University suggests that there is a 'statistically significant relationship' between autism and early childhood television viewing. Dr. Mohler discusses the study here.
We know that television is a powerful medium. The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised parents of children under age 2 not to allow any television exposure.The experience of watching television is passive rather than active. The child's imagination is not required to provide the images -- the screen does that for them. Television does not encourage active thought nor does it develop the attention span. Many researchers suggest that the experience of viewing television can affect the cognitive and neurological development of the child.Christian parents should be concerned about the influence of television in the lives of their children, young and old. The possible link with autism is suggestive and fascinating, but the influence of television is of importance to all parents -- …
Tim Challies is calling for a symposium of blog posts to commemorate Reformation Day:
In recognition of the significance of this day, I would like to suggest that Christian bloggers mark October 31 with reflections on Reformation Day. You may want to reflect on a person, an event, or a particular point of theology. The topic is wide open, so long as it somehow ties in to Reformation Day. And remember, you do not need to be Reformed to appreciate the Reformation and all it stood for. If you do not have a blog of your own, but would still like to participate, why not ask another blogger if you can "guest" on his site that day (which is not to say that I am offering my blog for this purpose!).I will gladly allow my site to serve as a repository for whatever links are provided to me. So, if you write an article, send me the link on October 31 and I will list it on my site.In an attempt to make things even more interesting, I'll kick in a prize to the article that is determine…

your perception of God matters

Great little section from In a Pit with a Lion (pg.28)...
Most of our problems are not circumstantial. Most of our problems are perceptual. Our biggest problems can be traced back to an inadequateunderstanding of who God is. Our problems seem really big because our God seems really small. In fact, we reduce God to the size of our biggest problem.

A.W. Tozer said a "low view of the cause of a hundred lesser evils." But a person with a high view of God "is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems." (from A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy)

A low view of God and a high view of God are the difference between scaredy-cats and lion chasers.

you've never spoken to a mere mortal

C. S. Lewis on the fact that you've never spoken to a mere mortal:
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealing…

Chase the Lion

Got my copy of In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day from Amazon today. Can't wait to read it. I'll post a review as soon as I'm done. Thanks Mark.

Jim Wallis and Greg Boyd dialogue

My sister just emailed me the details of a interesting event happening at Bethel College next Monday night. Check it out...
Jim Wallis and Greg Boyd Dialogue: "Faith and Politics"

A dialogue between Jim Wallis and Greg Boyd titled "Faith and Politics," sponsored by BSA, will take place from 8-10 p.m. on Monday, October 23, in Benson Great Hall. Wallis will be speaking in chapel that morning.

Wallis is on a book-signing tour for the paperback release of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. The hardcover spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Wallis will sign books after the evening event. Also, Boyd will do a signing for his latest book, The Myth of a Christian Nation. My sister just bought me Boyd's book and I haven't read Wallis' yet. I am pretty sure I'll be there, so if anyone else is interested in meeting up and listening to these dudes let me know.

9 considerations when hiring a worship leader

Right now I am not being paid to be a pastor. I do not work for any specific church but I know someday I will. In this time I am trying to grab resources and learn from as many people as possible.

Here is something Gary Lamb posted on the RidgeStone Backstage blog (which is a great place to check out for guys/gals trying to do church well) on the importance of finding the right worship leader. Make sure you go read his stuff to get the full context of what he's saying.

9 Considerations When Hiring a Worship Leader
1.) Make sure their style fits your style.
2.) A Worship leader doesn’t have to have the best voice
3.) Make sure their philosophy fits your philosophy
4.) Be VERY specific in letting them know the style of worship you want
5.) Define their role
6.) Make sure they want to lead worship and not be a rock star
7.) Make sure they can lead a band
8.) Make sure they are open minded
9.) Make sure their heart is in the right place

weekend recap

Friday night -

Saturday -
I got off work early and we had some good friends over for dinner. We ended up for a few hours and watching some season 1 episodes of The Office.

Sunday -
Experienced a great church service at Church of the Open Door. The pastor talked about patience and how the New Testament word is also translated 'endurance.' He talked about true patience being a sort of long suffering (which is the literal translation of the Greek in Galatians 5:22) in which over time our character and life is transformed.

This hit home for me because at times I get frustrated with my own lack of transformation and I was reminded that I need to endure the process within myself as the Spirit changes me, just as I need to be patient with others as God changes them.

Another highlight of the day was when my son Jacob went poopy in the toilet for the first time. Both he and his 21 month old sister where wearing underwear all day and going pee in the toilet. It was great! No more diaper…
Because this blog is in many ways a manifestation of my heart and mind, I want to take a second to address a couple things from my comment sections and make sure the way I think is understand things is clearly expounded. I do not mean to be malicious in any way.

First, I want to respond to this comment...
Guilt is such a powerful motivator, and churches and pastors and parents and spouses use it unknowingly too much!!! "There is therefore no condemnation/guilt for those in Christ." Do those in Christ still sin? Yes. Is there guilt? Not supposed to be, or at least, that is what this verse seems to say. The sentence in quotations above is taken from Romans 8:1. The problem with quoting it this way is that condemnation and guilt are not synonymous terms. It is true that Jesus has taken away condemnation from those who treasure Him and that we are no longer 'guilty' before God. However, we still ought to feel guilty when we do wrong. The feeling of guilt is often what mot…

lyric of the day

Don’t teach me about moderation and liberty....I prefer a shot of grape juice

- from Derek Webb's newest album, Mockingbird (song: A New Law)

This is a powerful album full of lyrics that break the mold of made-for-radio songs. There is a depth of emotion and theological reflection in this record that you don't find many other places. You might not agree with everything Derek sings but you have to at least give him credit for stepping out and making such heartfelt and bold Christian music.

date night

It wasn't the most traditional date but last night after I got home from work Stephanie and I had some rare quiet time to ourselves. Amazingly all three kids were asleep so we were able to sit down on the couch next to each other and enjoy some chips/salsa/cheese dip that I brought home from the Mexican restaurant next to mine. We talked a little and then laughed through 3 episodes from the first season of The Office, which in my opinion is the funniest show on TV right now.

Steph - the house looked great, but even better, was sitting next to you and laughing together and sharing a moment when we could just be us without any of the potty training, baby nursing, financial worrying, cleaning, or child disciplining that so often consume our days. I love you babe.

lifelong occupation

Writing is a lifelong occupation, an avocation, a battle, and in it we find out what we think and who we are. Learn to practice the habit of writing. Set aside daily writing time and make the lined pad or the desktop screen your regular companion. Let it become your devotional exercise, even if it is the only devotional practice in your life….What you write is a part of who you are, and in that sense every volume of your writing is a piece of autobiography (128). - William Germano’s From Dissertation to Book

lets get Wild

Last night was awesome.

Some friends of ours volunteered to watch our kids and then gave us two tickets for the Minnesota Wild hockey game. What was really cool was that Minnesota was playing the Washington Capitals, a team with two of the most exciting and dynamic young players in the league (Ovechkin and Semin).

Stephanie and I had a lot of fun watching the action and showing off baby Andrew to all the fans around us. A bonus to the night was that the Wild won 3-2 in a shoot-out (a wonderful addition to NHL hockey).

Too bad Mark and Ben and Pete...maybe next time.

the necessity of changing stations

Speaking of first impressions...

I am super pumped up about what I just ordered. In about two weeks we will have 2 of these babies in the restaurant. I can't believe a place like this store, which positions itself as a family establishment, has been without them for the last four years.

I remember having to change Jacob one time on a McDonald's table in Wisconsin somewhere because they had no changing stations. They didn't like that very much, but they didn't leave me any alternative either.

Changing stations are a must have for churches. As a parent of 3 kids in diapers (yes you read that correctly - we have 3 kids in diapers and no twins) having a sanitary place to change them is essential. I think this could be particularly challenging for portable churches that meet in schools because most middle and high school bathrooms don't have changing stations already in them like movie theaters.

Churches in these situations need to figure out a way to make changing diape…

removing potential frustrations for our people

At the restaurant I manage we have had a broken ice machine for the last week. Part of the time it has made ice sporadically, but recently it just started spitting water all over the floor and making a huge mess. So I am stuck giving people ice that we have had to buy at the grocery store.

What has made the situation particularly difficult is that the guy who was managing before me has been trying to get the situation straightened out with the ice machine maintenance guys for quite some time. All of which leaves me in limbo looking like someone who can't get stuff fixed and it leaves many customers annoyed at best, if not upset.

Why am I writing this? Because I believe that first impressions matter - particularly in the church. I want people to have a good experience at my store, but I especially want people to have a good experience when they attend a church service. I don't care how good the pastor is, if your facility looks bad and nothing works, people aren't sticking ar…

church election yard signs

Yesterday as I was driving to work I saw a small sign stuck in the ground near a stop light that said "Vote Domino's." It was a simple sign with the Domino's pizza logo on it and a box with a check mark in it. It fit the bill of all the other signs along the road, especially during the election season.

That sign got me thinking about church marketing. My idea is that churches should create their own election signs and give them to the people of the congregation to put up in their yards. The signs should include a simple, clean design and the web address for a site designed specifically to help people investgate the church, give feedback about the church, and/or provide information for people looking to take the next step.

Some benefits to this type of campaign include...
1. High volumes of repeated exposure for the church in neighborhoods.
2. Ownership of the church for the people who attend.
3. A reason (and maybe provocation) for people to have conversations with neig…

stop the madness

A big thanks to all of you who have stuck around during my blogs color-scheme transitions. I know you have been shocked and sickened by some ugly images popping up on your screens when you have visited recently.

Lately I have been greatly unsatisfied with the template, header, and coloration of my blog. I want something that is clean, simplistic and graphical pleasing. I want to get an updated header with a picture and possibly a Chinese or Japanese character. Also, I am feeling like I need to do some edit work on my title and blog slogan (any ideas?). If possible I would like to create some pages where I could post articles I've written that people could download as pdfs. Finally, I would like to create a place where people could subscribe to a short devotional that I would write and they would receive via their email.

Thankfully there is some light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully I will be making some progress in the future towards a more permanent layout. Until then I …

Jared Anderson's new cd: Where to Begin

I was excited to read on Transition Pete's blog that Jared Anderson is releasing an album. I like all the songs that I've heard from him. Here's a short description of the album:
Jared Anderson, one-third of the Desperation Band, the modern worship band from Colorado’s New Life Church in Colorado Springs, makes his solo artist debut with the Integrity release Where to Begin on October 3, 2006.

Best known for fast-rising favorites like “Amazed,” “Rescue,” and “Beauty Of The Lord,” Jared’s soaring vocals, songwriting talents and musicianship shine through on ten newly recorded worship songs. Produced by platinum-selling producer Pete Kipley (MercyMe), this phenomenal CD is one of the years best new releases. Listen to audio, download an MP3 and get FREE chord charts and lyrics at!

avoiding guilt and installing virtue

Robb asked a great question in the comments section of a previous post on parenting. He asked, "Hmmm. Not sure about this. Do our kids really need a stronger sense of guilt in their lives?"

Maybe some others of you are wondering this as well. As always, here's my two cents...

Robb, if they context of the conversation was one of anger, disapproval, guilt and shame, then I agree that it would not be appropriate. But what I try to do (and admittedly sometimes fail in) is to explain the beauty of Jesus on the cross and the truth that even though we cause trouble God still loves us.

In fact, just this morning Jacob brought up a situation from a couple days ago where I had corrected him and told him that he made a bad choice.

I quickly took that memory as a chance to hug him and tell him that when Daddy forgives him for his mistakes I don't remember them. I tried to illustrate this by saying that when I say, "I forgive you" all the bad stuff flies far away like li…

show me the money

Here are a few quotes from the cover story of the September 18, 2006 Time magazine, which was entitled, "Does God Want You To Be Rich?"
God wants you to own land. The entire Old Testament is all about land. Land represents that God is with you and God has blessed you. - Kirbyjon Caldwell

I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy...I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don't think I'd say God wants us to be rich. - Joel Osteen

This idea that God wants everyone to be happy? There is a word for that: baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self-worth by your net worth. I cna show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. - Rick WarrenHere is a sampling of some Time polling numbers...

1. God wants you to be financially prosperous: 61% -yes 26% - no
2. Poverty can be a blessing from God: 45% - yes 49% - no
3. If you give away your money God will bless you with more: 31%…

my boy is growing up

It is strange when you realize right before your eyes that your kids are growing up. Yesterday we spent some time with our good friends Jon and Emily at the Mall of America. Jacob and Isabelle were blessed with some free unlimited ride passes for the theme park.

Everything was normal and fine when I was going on the rides with them, but then we came to the airplane ride. This ride required that you be over 36" (which Jacob is) and under 48" (which I am not). That meant that my little boy was going on a ride without me next to him for the first time in his life. It was a sad and yet happy moment to watch my little Jakey be such a BIG BOY!

Pretty soon he won't need me for anything....

great quotes

C.T. Studd said, "Some wish to live within chime of church or chapel bell. I want to run a rescue-shop within a yard of hell."

Frederick Norwood said, "Whenever the spirit of Christ is strong within me I feel a foreigner to a thousand customs in my country."

read old books

The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.
—Joseph Joubert

Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. . . . It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. . . . We all . . . need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. . . . We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century . . . lies where we have never suspected it. . . . None of us can fully escape this blindness. . . . The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.
—C. S. Lewis

The reading of all good books is…

unresolved inner strongholds

Tim Stevens posted a line from a recent Granger message (#1 in the Dave series) that has been stinking with him. The quote from Mark Beeson was...
"Unresolved inner strongholds will destroy what matters most."This is a powerful statement. I have learned the hard way over the past year what it means to be enslaved to something. In doing so, I have developed a much more serious perspective on how I am affected by the junk that flies under the radar of my public persona. It is clear that if the dark stuff in my life is not dealt with right away I will pay a much greater price later.I heard a pastor talking about confession not too long ago. He was saying that Christians have gotten real good at public confession but that we have forgotten personal confession. The described it as a 16th C (?) pietist over-reaction to the abuses of confession in the Catholic church, when protest'ant' Christians made confession an act that only occurred between the individual and God.I tho…

hockey unites the whole family

I have really been enjoying the free preview that Dish Network offers of the NHL Center Ice package. It is clear to me that watching the games each night before bed has brought my son Jacob and I even closer together. Mark Driscoll says that studying theology with your wife is sexy - I would add that so is watching up to 40 non-market hockey games every week.

So, you can support my marriage and father-child relationships by sending a donation of just 10 dollars to...

spiritual training at the Balvin's

I take the exhortations in the Bible (Deut. 6:6-9; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4) that parents are responsible to train up their children in the ways of the Lord pretty seriously. Because of that I try as often as possible to tell Jacob and Isabelle stories from Scripture. But not just the nice happy ones all the time. We also talk about sin and death and hell. In fact, Jacob and I have a little mantra that we do that goes like this...

Me: Jacob, what happens when you die?
Jacob: You go into a box.
Me: Where do you do if you are friends with Jesus?
Jacob: You go to heaven.
Me: And what is heaven like?
Jacob: Like a party.
Me: That's right. And where do you go if you're not friends with Jesus?
Jacob: You go into the fire.
Me: That's right. That's called hell.
Jacob: Yeah, hell.

I get some strange looks from people when Jacob repeats this stuff. The feeling I get is that they think it weird that my 3 year old knows that unrepentant sinners go to hell.

Recently I have been starting to expl…

hitting home runs with sermons on steroids

Check out my latest article (Selling Pumped Up Sermons, Is It Ok?: Hitting Home Runs With Steroid Sermons) at Prodigal Son magazine where I discuss the growing issue of pastors using other minister's materials in their own sermons. Here's a few quotes from the article:

You might think of these pre-maid, mail order messages as sermons on steroids. Any pastor with a credit card can get one and you won’t even need to turn a blind eye and have a trainer rub it on you.

The temptation to placate the masses and turn the pulpit into nothing more than an entertainment platform is strong. It is much easier to purchase ‘sure fire winners’ from other speakers than it is to risk it and to wrestle long and hard in determining what God might want to say specifically through you in your own community context.

organic change

Mark reports on one of the distinctions Tim Elmore talked about during a Catalyt lab session.
He talked about two kinds of change: programatic change and organic change.

Programatic Change is change from the outside-in. It is behavior modification. It is artificial and typically short-lived.

Organic change is change from the inside-out. You have to wait longer, but it is reproducing so it has a much greater effect over the long-term. What does this mean for our Christian walks? For our church leadeship, programming, and preaching? Are we moving people simply towards modifing their bahviour or to change from the inside-out?

more creativity in worship

This is a reply I wrote to some comments on the post: a call for more creativity in worship
To clarify: I am not against using songs from the radio or from popular artists in worship sets. Just like I am not against using hymns in our song sets.

Margaret you are right - familiarity with lyrics and beats is nice when we worship. However, that same sense of comfort would come fairly easily after singing a new, homegrown song through a few times. So the familiarity hill is not insurmountable.

Christopher, of course we can sing David Crowder Bands songs with authenticity. And of course God gives creative songs to Chris Tomlin. But God is not only speaking to Chris Tomlin. He should be speaking to each worship leader.

How beautiful is a song that comes from the soul of a worship leader or from a situation in the church community? And how much more passionately and authentically do we sing and lead when we cry out to God? Is this not the birth place of all popular worship songs? This post was p…

2006 desiring god conference audio

I didn't end up scoring any tickets for the 2006 Desiring God Conference last weekend, but thanks to the generous folks who ran the show there all the conference sessions were recorded and are now available on the website.

I would encourage you to download a few of the talks, put them on your iPod or on cds, and then listen to them whenever you can - especially the talks by Wells, Keller, Driscoll and Piper. Even if you don't completely agree with these guys they have a ton to say abut Christ on the cross and the glory of God. We can all benefit from that.

praising God in the storm

Tonight as I was driving home a beautiful thunderstorm was sweeping across the town I live in. The lightning was vast and bright enough to light up the entire sky. The accompanying thunder could be heard rumbling over the sound of the CD playing in the van. And as I drove I was in awe of how big and how great God is. When I got home I just parked the van in the driveway and sat in the midst of the storm reading some of the many Scripture passages that talk about lightning.

The Bible uses the imagery of thunder and lightening often to speak of God's great power, like in David's song of deliverance in 2 Samuel 22. Thunder and lightning also appear in the text as symbols of God's presence among people, such as Exodus 19:16-20:22. The same words are used in Jeremiah 10:10-13 to describe God's providential and powerful hand behind the forces of nature. There are other instances as well that describe God's might, times of pain and dread, and future glories that we c…

church videos worth checking out

Now you can watch some really creative videos on the Wired Churches website. They are videos that were submitted by churches as part of the Granger Film Festival, which took place during the 2006 Innovative Church Conference.

Tony says that, "Video clips were submitted in each of the following categories:" Message Series TrailerMessage IllustrationEvent Spotlights (used to promote before or highlight after)

a call for more creativity in worship

I love that Mars Hill Church in Seattle includes some of their homegrown music in their podcast feeds. The Village Church does this as well. It strikes me that some of the fastest growing churches are churches that create their own music (as well as many other forms of art) rather than just trying to sound like Chris Tomlin or David Crowder every Sunday.

One of the things I believe that people want in a church (especially in regard to music) is authenticity and distinctiveness. With that in mind, I think that church plants - and most churches in general - need to put more emphasis on encouraging their worship leaders to discover and consequently lead out of their own unique, God-given musical blueprint. And this has to start with the lead pastor getting out of the way and trusting the worship leader enough to allow him/or her to develop and grow the musical style of the band until it becomes the authentic and distinctive musical style of the church. Otherwise all you get each Sunday …

Book Review: In a Pit witha Lion on a Snowy Day

A great new book that you should seriously consider reading is hitting the virtual shelves of today. It is called In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Dayand it is written by Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C.

The book is "inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture (II Samuel 23:20-21), which records, Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it."

Batterson makes this text come alive in the introduction by writing it as a modern day Hollywood action scene. He then goes on to challenge people, and Christians in particular, to become proactive lion chasers. He calls the lions we encounter in our lives (those scary situations and hard decisions that we all face) resume building experiences that God has given us today to get us ready for something he has for us tomorrow.

Here's an illustration of something that really hit m…