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Showing posts from December, 2006

Birthday Reflections

Tomorrow is my birthday. 27 years old. Crazy.(For those of you with the gift of giving, feel free to check out my Amazon Wishlist in the side column)Each year seems to go bye more quickly than the last. Before I know it my birthday balloons will read ‘Over the Hill.’I used to hate thinking about getting older.I looked at the lives of men and women whom I admire, and I compared myself to their accomplishments at similar ages in life thinking, “I have to do something.I have to succeed soon.My time is running out to leave my mark.”Thankfully, God is breaking me free from the strangulation of comparison.It is not easy but it is happening.I am becoming more and more satisfied with who I am and what God is allowing me to accomplish on his timetable and for his notoriety rather than my own.As my wife Stephanie wrote earlier today, the last year of our lives has been dominated by change.365 days ago when I turned twenty six I had a feeling that 2006 was going to be a great year, but I had no …

Collection of My Thoughts

At the stroke of midnight 2007 begins. I also will turn 27 years old. Sitting in my living room right now watching the sticky wet snow collect on the ground provides me the chance to observe the stream of thoughts running through my head. Want to hear some?

- Wow I can't believe I will be twenty seven.
- My kids drink too much juice.
- I hope the Packers win tonight.
- I get frustrated too easily with my wife and kids.
- I wish people could understand what I really think and feel, all the time.
- I wish I could understand what other people really think and feel, all the time.
- Why do my kids love to play in the bathroom?
- My wife and I need to have more conversations.
- How late should I stay up tonight?
- I am still hungry, my peanut butter and sandwich were not enough.
- When is everyone coming over today?
- I think Stephanie got me a Bible for my birthday. I can't wait to find out.
- Wireless internet is the best!
- I love my kids and wife. I have a wonderful family.
- Should I yell at …

That's Quotable (Anne Ceruti)

"We don't interview people specifically for a role as many would think. We look at them by their ability to grow with the company, to lead and collaborate. Someone who's looking for a very structured environment, everything nailed down all the time, like at a manufacturing company, might not be someone we're looking for, because we're a creative company." Anne Ceruti, VP for Talent Acquisition at Walt Disney as quoted on BusinessWeek.com (December 26, 2006)(HT: Tony Morgan)

Why Balvin and Batterson Blog

Why Mark Batterson blogs...
I think of blogging as a spiritual discipline-digital discipleship. It's the way I process whatGod is doing in my life. In fact, I'll print off my entire 06 blog and read it as a year-end reflection exercise this week. I want to make sure I'm learning the lessons God is trying to teach me!I totally agree with you Mark.

One reason I blog is because blogging is an easy way for me to record, review, research and recall the things I am learning and the ways I am growing. I feel like blogging places me in a a stream with other men and women with the same convictions and aspirations. It also puts me in a position to hear from people who think differently than I do. It refines me thoughts, clarifies my convictions and forces me to stop, reflect and record.

The Top 20 Web Sites for Church Communicators

Kevin Hendricks is a cool guy and he has compiled a great list of websites for Outreach Magazine. The list consists of 20 websites geared for church leaders and communicators. I personally visit or benefit from a large number of these sites on a regular basis. Check out the list here.

Wired Churches Ministry Resources

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If you are looking for innovative, creative, relevant, compelling, inspiring ministry resources make sure you spend some time poking around the new Wired Churches website.

Wired Churches is a ministry of Granger Community Church and it has all kinds of resources to make your services snap, crackle and pop!

Plus, Wired Churches is now offering resources from other great churches like National Community Church and New Spring Church.

Benefits of a Community Center Membership

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Our family recently got a three month membership to the local community center. What a smart move! Stephanie and the kids have been there almost everyday since. Plus, when I am home from work Stephanie goes over by herself and works out on the weights and machines there.

Tonight after dinner we all headed over to play in the community center pool. They have a nice area for kids that included a tire swing and a small water slide. They even have a family hot tub that I can sit in with the kids. Jacob loves the pool and Isabelle is getting more and more brave.

Another benefit of the community center membership is the Romp'n'Stomp play area. It is a nice place for Stephanie to bring the kids during the long days when I am working. They can expend some pent up winter energy in a safe environment. And since they are not a McDonald's there is no temptation to buy junky food while the play.

Hopefully, repeated trips to the community center will present us the opportunity to get to kn…

New A&W Employee: My Wife

Today Stephanie came to work with me at the A&W. My mom is on winter break from work and she and my sister graciously watched the kids for us. It was nice to hang out with Stephanie during the day and to make a little extra cash around the holidays. I was amazed at how quickly Stephanie picked up on things like working the cash register and taking orders. She did a great job. I could easily see us working together on some sort of venture in the future.

Merry Christmas from the Balvin's 2006

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10 Things to Do Today

Timothy Satryan of Wilmington First Assembly of God offers ten rules to make 2007 truly a happy new year!1. Today I will not strike back
If someone is rude; if someone is impatient; if someone is unkind . . . I will not respond in like manner.2. Today I will ask God to bless my "enemy"
If I come across someone who treats me harshly or unfairly, I will quietly ask God to bless that individual. I understand the "enemy" could be a family member, neighbor, co-worker or stranger.3. Today I will be careful about what I say
I will carefully choose and guard my words, being certain that I do not spread gossip, slander or malign anyone in any way.4. Today I will go the extra mile
I will find ways to help share the burden of another person. I will find ways to make life…

Christmas with the Becker's

We had our first Christmas gift exchange last night with our neighbors and good friends the Becker's. Stephanie, the kids and myself have really enjoyed getting to know and sharing our lives with Daryl and Amy. They are great people who have done many things to help us out. We are sad to see them move 10 miles away from us, but we are excited for them as they build their house and await the birth of their first child.

Stephanie got a really neat Beth Moore Bible study called 'David: 90 Days With A Heart Like His,' which takes the reader on a personal journey and study of the life of King David. I got C.J. Mahaney's book, "Living a Cross Centered Life." Plus the kids got some fun sticker/coloring books.

Thank you Daryl and Amy for being such wonderful neighbors and friends. I hope you have learned as much from us as we have from you.

PS- Daryl don't keep your gift all to yourself. Share the love.

Shout Outs...

My wife is embarking on a major journey that has the potential to be life-transforming. I am so proud of her honesty and her willingness to step up and do something about a problem that has bothered her for awhile. Way to go babe!

I am super excited for my sister Carrie. She has some really neat stuff coming up on the horizon in her life. I am completely jealous of the opportunities she has before her. She is going to be doing some things that I totally would've loved to have done when I was her age. But it is not all public info yet so please don't go digging around. Congrats Carrie!

Wanted to say thanks to Tony Morgan. Tony is on staff at Granger Community Church in South Bend, IN. He is a super cool guy with a great blog. I continue to be impressed with his friendliness and accessibility. Most large-church pastors are not available at all, and yet I have emailed and chatted with Tony multiple times. The reason I want to give him a shout out is because by chronicling his ow…

Top 10 Most Commented Entries of 2006 on the CMS blog

Here is a 2006 Top Ten list from the Church Marketing Sucks blog...
It's the end of the year and time for lists galore. So we present the top 10 most commented entries of 2006. ...We're also only looking at entries composed in 2006...It's also worth pointing out that landing on this list has nothing to do with the quality of the entry or the topic, it has more to do with the comment fury the entry prompted, for whatever reason. And of course all comment numbers were current at press time.So with no further disclaimers, let's get this list started...1) The Church & Money: Plasma TV or Feed the Poor? - 39 comments2) When Church Signs Suck - 37 comments3) Church Advertising is a Waste of Time - 33 comments4) Jesus Beer Billboard Prank - 32 comments5) Would Jesus Discriminate? - 26 comments6) Mark Batterson and Church Buzz - 25 comments7) Stock Photography Sucks - 25 comments8) The Statue of Liberation Through Christ - 24 comments9) My Lame Sex Life Follow Up - 22 comme…

Tonight on Kare 11 News

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Just wanted to let you all know that I will be appearing on the Kare 11 news program at 10pm tonight. I am going to be making a donation on behalf of the patrons of my restaurant to Toys for Tots organization. Pretty sure it will be happening during the weather segment, so be sure to tune in.

Resources, Websites and Some Other Stuff

Ben offers us 'a peek at some of the resources I bookmarked in 2006 ~ both mundane and mainstream': Free Church Planting resourcesSome of the best sermon graphicsEd Stetzer's new siteWhere we buy our refurbished lighting gearOur source for lighting gobosInflatable advertisingTranslucent vellum envelopesStadia Church Planting networkNorth Point's small group siteThe Veracity ProjectDatabase of megachurchesJana Alayra music for kidsSidewalks in the Kingdom - new urbanistsThe Stream GuysMotion loop backgroundsWacky World children environmentsClark Promedia - worship architectureAmazing visual designerLife Church open source graphicsSilas Partners - graphic designLogo PondWireless video transmittersDirectory of IllustrationLight Cast video streamingStock LayoutsProfessional stock cartoonsLetterhead Fonts - awesomeEvaporative indoor snow machinesHigh quality clip artFunny rejected state t-shirt slogansFree fonts from FontfaceStunning conceptual graphic designUltimate churc…

Good News

From Micah 7...

18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all oursins
into the depths of the sea.
20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.

Tomlinson for MVP

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I haven't always been a big football fan but I have really enjoyed watching the NFL this year. After a long work week it is great to go to church with my family and then come home and watch a couple games.

One player that I am really impressed with is San Diego Charger's running back LaDainian Tomlinson. He is an amazingly talented running back and the records he has surpassed this year proves it. But more importantly, he seems humble. He gives a lot of credit to his teammates, tosses the ball to the ref when he scores, and constantly deflects praise off of himself. I think he is the runaway MVP candidate and he deserves it.

My Superbowl prediction: Chargers over the Cowboys 31-23.

God is Big, I am Small

The truth is...
I want to be big.
I want to be known.
I want to be on certain blogrolls.
I want to have 1,000 people subscribe to my blog.

This doesn't really matter to God.

The ocean reminds me I am small.
The mountains remind me I am small.
The sky reminds me I am small.
The stars remind me I am small.

God is much bigger than me.

So why do I always think...
I know more than him.
I have a better plan than him.
I need to impress him with my accomplishments.
My life somehow doesn't measure up.

Maybe because...
I am confused.
I am a sinner.
I am selfish.
I am prideful.
I am human.

This is not how God defines me.

In Jesus' cross...
I am cherished.
I am blessed.
I am forgiven.
I am adopted.
I am beloved.

Act Today to Change Your Tomorrow

Matt Chandler of The Village Church wisely says, "The 'I want to's' of today, if not acted upon, will become the 'I wish I would haves' of tomorrow.

5 Books that Will Engage Your Brain

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From Mark Howell, here's five business books (with ministry applications) that will engage your brain in 2007.

Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win will have an immediate impact on your thinking in a number of key areas. If you don't end up high-lighting, underlining and marking it up...well I don't know how that could even happen. It has massive implications.

The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO's Strategies for Defeating the Devil's Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization. This is another book that you'll find yourself coming back to later. Great ideas on building an innovative organization.

Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense Pfeffer and Sutton's book is a great thinking book. If you are in a business where there are a lot of assumptions and presuppositions...and all of us are...this is a book that has great application. Learning how to unpack the real issues behind why you're doing t…

Making Ministry a Joy and not a Burden for Those Who Lead

Mark reminds all of us regular church-goers...
Can I speak up for pastors? I wish more people took Hebrews 13:17 seriously.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

Here is what Paul is saying: spiritual leadership is tough enough! Don't make it tougher than it already is. Pastors carry a heavy burden, but it's double trouble if the people you lead don't have confidence in you or submit to your spiritual authority. So here's a challenge: try to make leadership a joy for the spiritual authorities you follow.

Here is the advice I gave my pastor friend: confess when you're wrong and confront when you're right.

Pastors need to fess up when they mess up. And I'm not just talking about moral failure. I'm talking about the ability to say I was wrong. But don't be afraid to confr…

Leadership Lessons from Yahoo

Great post from Tony Morgan...
The New York Times reported today on an organizational restructuring at Yahoo. This follows on the heels of lots of criticism about the company's current operations including an internal memo from Brad Garlinghouse, a Yahoo senior vice president, that was published by the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago. (Thank Sam at Decker Marketing for the lead.) The memo is enlightening because it gives us a rare glimpse into one of the fastest growing companies. Garlinghouse revealed some startling insights from which every leader in a fast growing organization should learn.Here are some of the current challenges at Yahoo that Garlinghouse identified:Lack of Focus -- "We lack a focused, cohesive vision for our company. We want to do everything and be everything -- to everyone. We've known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it...I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter acros…

Example #23: First Impressions Matter

On October 25 I wrote a post about the absence of male leadership at the principal level in the elementary schools surrounding my restaurant. I discovered the absence after emailing sixteen local principals. You can read that post, here.

Unfortunately, I have only heard back from 2 of the 16. Are they really that busy that they can't shoot off an email back to me? Even if they don't want to partner with me, I would still appreciate a reply.

One of my firmest convictions is that first impressions matter. Right now I'm just glad that my kids don't go to any of these schools and that my property tax dollars don't fund them.

New Music You Need: Leeland

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I honestly haven't been able to get enough of this album over the last couple months. Leeland is a great new band from Texas led by a songwriting singer and guitar player who is only 18. The songs have an awesome sound and the lyrics are distinctly Christian, without sounding at all like camp songs. In my opinion, this rock album sounds distinct and raw. Check them out.

The Word "Watch" Says Much

Last night, my son and daughter were watching a movie and I was starting to read a book, when something Jacob said hit me. As the movie was starting he kept telling me to "watch" whenever this penguin would appear. He seemed to get additional enjoyment in having that moment with me. Alone he liked the penguin, but with me the penguin became something to share and something for us to experience together.

I started thinking about how often my kids do this. When they see something funny or interesting or even scary they invite others (like my wife and I) into the moment with them. "Look at this," they say. Or, "Watch this Daddy!"

Then it dawned at me that I am much the same. When I am watching hockey and an amazing goal is scored I will call Stephanie over to see it. If I am reading a great book I will share lines of the book with however is around. It is a natural response to something that stimulates me. I want to share that something with someone else.

My …

An Early Christmas Present for MN?

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Everyone is talking about Allen Iverson coming to the MN Timberwolves to play with Kevin Garnett. A.I. has been my favorite basketball player for a long time, and I have always dreamed off him coming to MN. Teaming him up with K.G. would be sweet!

I might even watch some basketball games if that happened...

Thanks for the Wild Tickets!

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Just wanted to send a shout out to my brother Aaron for giving Stephanie and I tickets to the MN Wild game last night. We had a blast watching the Wild beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 in a shoot-out.

A highlight of the evening was sitting next to one of the most vocal and intense female fans I have ever seen. Every time the Wild made a mistake, or were in some kind of trouble, this lady would utter under her breathe, "Oh S*%$!"

Thankfully for everyone else she wasn't shouting it; she more or less just said it to herself and to Stephanie and I. We figured she must have said it at least 30 times.

Oh yeah...I think Jesus was at the game too because some of the people around us were saying his name all night.

Someone is Watching You

A friend at work introduced me to the country song Watching You (Rodney Atkins) this morning. I got teary-eyed listening to it and even more so as I read the lyrics to Stephanie over the phone.

The song describes everything I want to be true in my relationship with my kids (esp. my boys) and it is a great reminder that our kids are watching the things we do and shaping their lives after us as parents.

This is a must listen for every dad and a great song for a Father's Day service. Here are the lyrics...

Drivin’ through town just my boy and me
With a “Happy Meal” in his booster seat
Knowin’ that he couldn’t have the toy ‘til his nuggets were gone.
A green traffic light turned straight to red
I hit my brakes and mumbled under my breath.
His fries went a flyin’, and his orange drink covered his lap
Well, then my 4 year old said a 4 letter word
It started with “S” and I was concerned
So I said, “Son, now where’d you learn to talk like that?”

Chorus:
He said, I’ve been watching you, da…

Me and Tony Hawk

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I finally got a new pair of shoes to wear at work.

The ones I have been wearing are made of the leftover fabric from my marathon run last October. Needless to say, I felt like I was walking barefoot on the ground and my feet were killing me.

The story really gets interesting when you find out the kind of shoes I bought: Vans. This picture is a pretty close version of the kicks I got. The major difference is the fact that I bought mine at Kohl's so they aren't quite as nice. But they were cheaper.

Now all I need is a Hurley sweatshirt. Pretty soon I'll be riding with Tony Hawk!

This Little Light of Mine, I'm Going to Let It Shine

Last night a real friendly guy brought his family into my A&W restaurant. Based on his attitude while he ordered, and the way he was treating his family while they ate, I figured in my mind that he was most likely a Christian (or maybe a Mormon - he had three daughters and a pregnant wife). I ended up talking with him a little bit and found out that he was indeed a Christ follower.

It was pretty cool how the Spirit of Joy and Peace and Love was shining through this guy. It was one of those moments where you really could tell 'something was different' about the person. I was encouraged by him to let my little light shine as brightly as possible.

Today as I was driving to work I felt like God gave me a thought. "Every step you take today, every interaction you have, every word you use...you have the opportunity to make Jesus look attractive and good and glorious, or you can make him look like something less." I want to be like the guy I met last night and make Jesu…

The Joys of Life (updated)

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I was supposed to get the oil changed on my truck this morning at 9. Then I was getting a new tail pipe put on at 10:30. But last night Stephanie told me my front tire was flat. Sweet...now I have to go outside and try and change it.

Oh yeah...it is like 9 degrees out there this morning. Should be a blast!

Update: A big-hearted friend of mine (Joe Parker) came over with an air pump and filled up my tire so I could drive it to the repair place. Thankfully, the flat was caused by a bad core valve (whatever that is) so they didn't charge me to fix it. I had another tire in the bed of truck that they pulled a nail out of, so now all my tires are in operating condition.

The tail pipe has been a fiasco. I made three trips to Napa Auto Parts trying to get the right one. Nothing has worked. So this morning I went to talk to a guy at Elk River Muffler and Brake. He is going to get a new pipe made and installed for me tomorrow morning. Joe has been a huge help to me in the whole muffler/tail …

Christmas - Fellowship Church style

Ed Young announced some of Fellowship's Christmas Eve service plans this year. He wrote, "I challenged our team to think beyond the ideas and experiences that have served Fellowship Church well in the past. The enemy of creativity is predictability and Christmas is not the time to be predictable." A mixed-media marketing campaign including promotional packs for local businesses, car antenna balls, a direct mail send out, and something we've never tried before.Vibrant t-shirts featuring our Christmas service information and giving them away to our entire church to wear throughout their Christmas shopping, with an emphasis on one specific shopping day.Giving out a CD with music and a short message to play in the car on the way to and from church.Engage multiple senses - starting in the parking lot. Groups of carolers will be circulating and we'll be handing out hot chocolate and apple cider. Looking into setting up fire pits for marshmallow roasting.Ramping up par…

Grateful for My In-laws

As I clean the house I'm watching the MN Vikings humiliate themselves against the Chicago Bears. It is fun to watch the game on our new 36" TV. Stephanie's parents gave us the TV since they upgraded to a HD flat screen and didn't need this one anymore.

I am extremely grateful for my in-laws. They have blessed Stephanie and my family in so many ways. Them have always been generous with us and have provided us with many nice things (including almost all our furniture). Now, they are expanding that love to our kids.

Blending into a new family is never easy, especially when that family has a little bit different world view/operating system than your own. But I am thankful that Stephanie's parents love me and care for our families well-being, even when they don't completely understand why we do some of the things we do.

Oops, They Did It Again

Bethel dominated the St. Thomas Tommies for the second night in a row, winning 9-3 at home. It was a penalty filled affair with each team being assessed 19 penalties.

My brother had a goal and an assist in the game. After fighting through a hold at center ice, he knocked a pass down out of the air and scored a real nice breakaway goal (almost from his knees) by slipping the puck through the goalies legs. His former teammates from Topeka Scarecrows added 4 goals as well (Nick Miller-3, Steve Eastman-1).

Read the whole box score here.

Congrats to my brother Jeff and to Bethel Hockey

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I am very thankful for the chance I had to play college hockey at Bethel University from 1998-2002.

One of the highlights of my career was defeating St. Thomas in the 2001 play-offs. It was one of the precious few times the Royals had beaten the Tommies. In fact, it was the only time in the last 15 years. I am proud of the fact that my class of players was part of a turning point for the program.

I think that last night's game between the two teams (Bethel won 4-3) is further evidence of the impact my group of players had, and the impact the new group of players is having at Bethel. One really cool fact is that my little brother Jeff is adding a large contribution to what the new wave of Bethel University players are doing.

Here is the game recap (courtesy of St. Thomas)...
December 1, 2006 -- Men's HockeyMen's Hockey loses 4-3 to Bethel The Bethel men's hockey team scored four unanswered goals and posted their first regular-season win over St. Thomas in 20 seasons with…

Blog Announcement

I love blogging for many reasons. However, one of the dark sides of blogging is motivation to get comments, high site visit numbers, links on other blogs, etc.

I'm at a critical point in my life where I need to evaluate some things. A big consideration I have to make is evaluating where I receive my worth/validation/etc. Because this is a weak area for me I am going to be turning off the comments and stat counter feature of my blog.

Thanks to everyone who has weighed in to the discussions here.