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Showing posts from January, 2007

A Calvinist Faces Death

The last nine months have been filled with all kinds of trial and thought and change. It has been a roller-coaster on so many levels of my life, and this very much includes my theology.

What do I mean by that phrase - my theology. Well, to be technical, the word theology comes from two Greek words, 'theos' (meaning God) and 'logos' (meaning words or expression). So the word theology means, words about God. It has also come to mean, the study of God or the expression of things pertaining to God. In my context here I am discussing the shift in my theology as a shift in some of the ways I understand God to involve himself in the world.

An well-learned individual in this area should easily infer here that I am talking about issues of God's sovereignty. In its shortest and clearest form...I may be becoming a Calvinist. Wow...its kind of scary to put those words out there. I am worried about all the rebuking I would get from hard core Armenians. And the barrage of ar…

My Amazing Wife

Way to go Stephanie!

Tupperware had some really great deals for people who hosted parties in January. My wife took advantage of that and worked super hard over the course of the month to met some challenging sales goals. She recently admitted to me that on a team 123 sales people she is in the top 3 for total sales. Pretty cool.

Thanks babe for the hard work you do. Being a stay at home mom with our crazy kids is a full time job in itself. You are amazing!

PS- If anyone needs Tupperware or wants to host a party and get free stuff, check out my wife's blog and leave her a comment.

Precious Moments and Milestones

Today Jacob's papa and nana took him downtown to watch the Sesame Street Live show and then back to their house for a sleep over. After eating lunch and saying goodbye it was hard not to marvel at how big my little buddy has gotten. The days of being a stay at home dad and spending my days reading theology to him and watching Dr. Phil don't seem like that long ago. I am so thankful to God for being given the amazing responsibility of raising such a wonderful treasure. Jacob brings unending streams of joy into my life.

The added bonus of one child leaving is the amount of focused energy I am able to give to the other two. Isabelle and I had such fun today tickling and wrestling and reading and singing. She packs more energy and passion into everything she does than any other child I have seen. At Target today she didn't stop showing me things and enthusiastically pointing out the name of everything she could. And this doesn't even include her random requests for 'po…

A Good Church Under Friendly Fire in St. Louis

Why is it that Christians have to throw such a fuss about other Christians who consume alcohol?

It is like some Christians just want to fight with other Christians about stupid stuff. And too often the people with the issues are the people who aren't making an evangelistic impact on anybody anyway. Maybe they have time to pick fights because they aren't busy doing any ministry work?

Darrin Patrick leads one of the youngest and fastest growing churches in his area. And yet other Christians in his area want to pick fights. Makes me shake me head...

Update: Darrin shares some of his thoughts on the article in a comment on Steve McCoy's blog. Here is an excerpt...
The Journey's policy on alcohol is that we do not personally encourage nor do we corporately promote alcohol as a church. The article could be read to sound like we have grown as a church because of our "beer ministry." Totally ridiculous.

Words About Coaches Dungy and Smith

Michael Smith at ESPN.com:
Dungy and Smith are role models, not just for coaches who look like them or men who look like them, but for all coaches and all men. They live their lives the right way, and as a result they do their jobs the same way. Their priorities are, in order: faith, their families and football. The outcome of the Super Bowl or any game does not define them. They personify words such as class, grace, dignity, honor and integrity.(HT: MT)

Reading is an Important Christian Discipline

Albert Mohler:
Reading is an important Christian discipline. Further, growth as a Christian disciple is closely tied to the reading of the Bible, as well as worthy Christian books. This is why the Christian church has championed the cause of literacy. It is why the Reformers fought for the translation of the Scriptures into vernacular languages. A loss of literacy and respect for the book amounts to grave danger for the Christian church. The transmission of Christian truth has been closely tied to scrolls, codices, and books throughout the history of the Church -- a legacy inherited from the Jews, who often protected the sacred scrolls with their lives.The electronic media have their places and uses, and I am thankful for the accessibility of so much worthy and important information through digital means. Nevertheless, the electronic screen is not the venue for lengthy, thoughtful, serious reading. The vehicle for serious reading is the book, and the Christian should be a serious reade…

The Difference Between Promotion and Presentation

I recently had the privilege of being a guest blogger on the Church Marketing Sucks blog. Here is a snippet of what I wrote...
I love how Franquiz picks up on the difference between promotion and presentation. First impressions is about leaving a taste in people's mouth that makes them more willing to 'try it' again. True, if your first impressions ministry is solely focused on promoting 'this or that' in your church for the sake of self-glory or reputation, you have trouble. But if your impressions ministry...To read the whole entry and check out CMS , click here.

And guess what, CMS has a comment option, so anyone who wants to weigh in can do so there.

Chipotle Response

Finally heard back from Chipotle. Here is their reply:
Brenton,

Thank you for letting us know about your visit. I'm sorry for the condition of our restroom. We will look into that right away. As for changing tables...I'm sure those will be considered for the future as well.

Have fun with those little ones and thanks for bringing them in to see us!

Sincerely,
Dawn Dillon
Mojo Mama
ChipotleI'm bummed that I didn't get any gift cards or anything but I do appreciate the fact they personally responded to my concerns and didn't pass me off to somebody else. I also appreciate the fact that they recognized my kids and understand

Prepare Now for Your Life Tomorrow

There are some great thoughts being posted on the Waimea blog recently. Here is something that hit me in a very personal way as I step back and analyze where I am at in life.
But, right now I know I am somewhere on the road, but not yet where I am supposed to be. I think this is a common theme among leaders - we prepare prepare prepare and then we strike out into new territory. This implores those leaders to not waste the time between destinations but rather train and prepare for what might come next.Maybe you could think of life as a series of stages. There is a learning stage and preparing stage. A performing stage and executing stage. An evaluating and growing stage. Right now I am in a preparation stage. I don't know exactly what I am preparing for. But I now that God has me in his hand and that when the next step comes I will be more ready and confident because of the groundwork that is being laid in my character and life right now.

I can not waste my time right now. I need …

The One Hundred

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Ben Arment is the pastor of a 4 year old church in Virginia that is going through a major transition right now. They are changing both name and location to more strategically reach people who don't follow Jesus. As part of the transition Ben is trying to raise money by what his church is calling "The One Hundred." They are looking for 100 people to donate $250. To find out more, click here.

Maybe God is tugging on you to be an outside contributor to this church?

Make sure to check out Ben's blog as well.

Is Christian Bartender an Oxymoron?

A friend of my brother recently started a new position as a bartender at a local restaurant. It wouldn't really be a big deal except that the whole idea of a Christian bartender has caught my brain.

I think I am going to write a position paper on it and I am hoping that I could get some input from those of you who read this blog. Please email me your ideas and feelings at brentonbalvin(@)gmail(dot)com.

Here are a few of my questions...
Is there a direct correlation between serving someone alcohol and contributing to their sin?Update: I think I should clarify (thanks to a well worded email I received) that I don't believe drinking alcohol, in itself, is sinful. I believe that being intoxicated is sinful. So a better stated question would more clearly get at the fact that is may be that a Christian bartender has to make the call on who can have another drink, and who should be cut off. Hence, the correlation between serving alcohol and contributing to sin.
Don't bartender's…

A Legacy Woman

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On my way into work today I was listening to a podcast of Mark Driscoll (pastor and teaching elder at Mars Hill Church) preaching on Ruth, chapter 2. He used a phrase that is both humorous but also very serious.

He was addressing the single men in his audience and giving them some advice about women and the possibility of marriage. He said, "Some women are a good time, and some women are a legacy." People chuckled of course (Mark does some wonderful comedy) but it made me think. And quickly my thinking turned to gratefulness.

I have a legacy woman as my wife. Don't get me wrong, Stephanie is fun to be around, she enjoys athletics and activities, but she is much more than just a good time. Stephanie is a legacy woman.

In the 4 and half years we have been married we have been on quite a ride. We have both had things rise to the surface in our lives that we have never dealt with. Working those issues out is difficult. We have both changed jobs, we have had three kids in …

Keeping Your Leadership Focused

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A friend of mine shared some good thoughts today on the idea of focused leadership. He writes,
So, I find myself saying no to a lot of things that are tangential to the job I was hired to do. This is a skill you will need to learn if you hope to be successful in leadership. If you are a good leader, people will ask you to be involved with lots of great things, but if you are not taking care of what you are supposed to do at your core, you will lose your base. Don’t every lose your base. What you are known for, what got you there in the first place. Keep your base job strong. If you say yes to something, ask yourself what you are now saying no to? If you are a busy person, anything you add to your schedule will weigh on some other thing you are already doing. Keep focused on what got you there, keep performing with excellence. Stay off bad time committments - trust me on this one.

The Brenton Fan Curse

Usually whatever sports team I am cheering for losses.

This Sunday I thought the trend was going to continue. After watching the Saints get pounded by 'Da Bears' and seeing Indianapolis falling behind 21-6 at halftime I figured that the 'Brenton Fan Curse' was in full affect. However, it was not to be so. Peyton Manning rallied the troops and the Colts stormed back in the second half. Both my wife and I were on pins and needles during the last quarter, but Indy gutted it out and held on to win an exciting game.

I really like watching Peyton Manning play. He has such command over all faucets of the game. He works hard in practice and studies during the week so that he is ready for each opponent. It is amazing to watch him walk up to the line of scrimmage, gaze out over the defense, change the play 3 times, snap the ball right before the play clock expires, and then hit Marvin Harrison for a 20 yards gain. His teammates must have high levels of confidence in a guy that l…

10 Traits of the Man Who Dwells on God's Holy Hill

Psalm 15:1 (ESV) asks,

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

The answer to that question is detailed in the rest of the chapter.

Here are the 10 things (with some explanation) that Psalm 15 identifies as the traits of the man who dwells on God's holy hill.
He walks blamelessly - there is no questionable behavior in this man, he does what is good and just and merciful, sinful talk and action is far from him
Does what is right - in all circumstances this man strives to please God and carry out the life that Jesus Christ modeled
Speaks truth in his heart - integrity spews forth from his soul, there is no falsehood, no double-mindednesss, no deceit in him
Does not slander - his mouth does not utter words against others, he deals with issues directly with those involved, if he has nothing good to say about someone he remains silent
Does not reproach his friend - anger and correction and always having to be right are not his ways, he loving helps others and d…

Proverb of the Day - Jan. 20

33 The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.
35 The wise will inherit honor, but fools getdisgrace.
(Proverbs 3:33-35 ESV)

Do Hearing Aids Have Volume Controls?

Does anyone know if hearing aids come with volume controls?

Today noticeably cranky, elderly man and his wife came into the restaurant. I got them as good of a deal as I possibly could on the food that they wanted. When I delivered the food to their table the man demanded (in a louder voice than he used to order his food), "Can you turn that d--- music down!"

The jukebox was already on low setting but I turned it down anyway (now pretty much no one in the store can even hear it). The man later came back up and accused me of 'being kind of screwy' with the price of his food. When I explained how I gave him a better deal by combining his food into a combo meal he walked away in disgust muttering, "Don't know how you want me back with these prices and the loud music."

There was nothing I could do but secretly laugh and pray the Lord takes me home before I'm 80.

Cars, Planes, and Video Games

I pray that Jacob never does anything like this...

Here's quote to entice you to read the link, "She believes he [her 9 yr. old son] learned to drive from playing video games on a PlayStation."

Something about Mom's comments indicates to me she is a little out of touch with reality. How come Dad is not commenting? Is he there? Maybe that accounts for the kid's behavior....

Our Time With Our Kids is Short

One of the things I don't like about my job is the fact that I work 50 hours a week and have a 30 minute commute each way. This means that over the course of a week I am gone from my kids and wife for a total of 56 hours. Putting that figure against the amount of time my kids are awake (approx. 13 hrs. a day), it means that I am missing out on 62% of my kids lives every week.

Sarah at the Family Noise blog cites these sobering statistics...
The Charting Parenthood report tracked the average time a child spends with their parent each day:
- 2 hours 21 min for mothers in two-parent families
- 1 hour 46 min for fathers in two-parent families
- 1 hour 15 min for mothers in single-parent families
- less than 30 min for fathers in single-parent familiesThankfully I average more time (5 hours) per day than the averages above, but I still have to ask myself, "Do I really want to miss 62% of my kids young lives?"

I am forced to wrestle with hard questions like...
How can I work less?
Sho…

Some Tips for Reading the Bible

The blogger at To Tell You the Truth provides some tips for reading and understanding Scripture. Selected quotes:Scripture as Story: “I read Scripture as a grand story, the story of Redemption. When all of Scripture is read in this way, we will not see the individual stories as moral lessons or as mere examples of what to do and what not to do in life.”Christ-Centered View of Scripture: “The grand story of Scripture revolves around Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”Never Read a Single Verse: “Read at least a paragraph of Scripture when you read Scripture. But also try to read a book in one (maybe two) sitting(s). These books and letters in Scripture were written as a whole and were initially read in whole. We should strive to read each book in whole.”Scripture as Spoken Word: “I believe we must also listen to Scripture being read in our personal time. You will pick up things from Scripture while listening that you may not pick up so easily while reading. You will most likely have more t…

Proverb of the Day - Jan. 16

21 My son, do not lose sight of these—
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruinof the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.
(Proverbs 3:21-26 ESV)

Why I Don't Allow Comments

Dave emailed me a question that other readers may have been wondering,
"Great blog, but why no comments?" Here is my response to him and to you,
"Dave, thanks for the email. I am at a point in my personal life where I have to evaluate the 'why' behind the different things I do. As a Christian one of my biggest struggles is the desire of man's praise rather than God. (Galatians 1:10 ESV)

When I started to look more critically at my life I found that my tendency was to blog for comments and site visits. In essence, I was finding my personal and ministerial worth based on how many people linked my blog or read my blog. Thankfully my wife and some good friends helped me see this was unhealthy and so I decided to turn the comment feature off indefinitely .

Now I blog because...
I find things interesting and want to share them with the world,
I have a search able record of my ideas and thoughts,
So my friends and family can be informed about my life,
To be a resource to p…

The Common Failure of Churches to 'Cut the Fat' in order to Excel

Kevin Hendricks had a post on the CMS blog recently that is worth repeating here in its entirety. I agree with Kevin in his assessment that many churches do many mediocre things and few excellent things.

One of the contributing factors to mediocre ministry is the failure of churches to evaluate and then, in appropriate instances, remove ineffective ministries or ministers. Often this failure is the result of the close personal relationships that exist in church ministry. Pastors and elders and ministry directors often share their lives with one another in uncommon ways, and it is difficult for church leadership to fire someone.

A second factor that leads to multiple ministries that survive rather than thrive is the inability of the leader to hold fast to the vision when everyone around you is asking for "this or that ministry." Pastors can easily be lead away from the original vision when they get caught up in making people happy. It is not easy to have someone tell you t…

The Danger of Cow Farts

And you thought you knew it all...
You know I like random animal facts right? Don't know why, but I've always been fascinated by the fact that African elephants poop eighty pounds per day. Really makes you appreciate cage cleaners doesn't it?

What I'm about to reveal ranks right up! Thanks to the NCCers who know me well enough to know that I'd care about cow emissions.

Here's the entire article if you want to check it out.

According to a United Nations Report, cow "emissions" are the greatest threat to the environment.

The 400-page report by the Food and Agricultural Organization, Livestock's Long Shadow, says that the world's 1.5 billion cattle are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. That is more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.

Cow farts account for 9% of all carbon dioxide emissions. Their "wind" and manure account for more than 33% of methane. And their farts p…

Some Thoughts on a Christian's Use of Harsh Language

John Piper raised some eyebrows and caused some keystrokes in the blog world when he recently used the word 'a--' during a breakout session at the Passion 07 conference. He has since said that he regrets using the phrase. He has even posted an email from Wayne Grudem on his website which I think makes it all the more clear that J.P. recognizes his error.

I think that for the most part people are making a big deal out of a small offense. However, this is no surprise when you couple the notoriety of Piper with the vast number of self-proclaimed watchdog bloggers sitting around in their mother's basements (if I may borrow a phrase from Mark Driscoll) looking to expose everyone else's sin.

But the whole thing, and in particular the Grudem email, has caused me to step back and take a look at my own use of language. I wouldn't say that I have a foul mouth by any means, but the standard of Christ in Scripture is much higher than just never saying 'a--.'

Read these…

MLK Jr. on a Man's Living

Here's a great quote on how a man should live...
If a man is called to be a street sweeper he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, "There lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."

(HT: Mark Batterson)
Sounds very much like St. Paul in Colossians 3:23-24,
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

MLK Jr. on the Church

From the Letter from Birmingham Jail:
In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.

The A-B-C's About Me

My wife tagged me last week. So here goes...

A - Available or taken? Taken, by a wonderful and amazingly woman.
B - Best friend? Jon, Jesse
C- Cake or pie? For sure Pumpkin or Blueberry Pie, unless we're talking DQ ice cream cake
D - Drink of choice? Starbucks Caramel Macchiato, Crown Royal and Coke
E - Essential item you use every day? Blackberry, laptop, iPod
F - Favorite color? Blue
G - Gummy bears or worms? I like the worms, you get to chew them longer
H - Hometown? Maple Grove, MN
I - Indulgence? Strawberry Ice Cream or Super America hotdogs
J - January or February? January, because it is my birthday
K - Kids and names? Jacob Thomas (3) Isabelle Marie (2) Andrew Titus (4 months)
L - Life is incomplete without? My relationship w/ Jesus Christ, my family, blogging :)
M - Marriage date? June 22, 2002
N - Number of siblings? Brothers Aaron (25) & Jeff (22) and Carrie (19)
O - Oranges or apples? I guess Apples, unless the oranges are already peeled
P - Phobias or fears? Looking stupid or unab…

Proverb of the Day - Jan. 13

3:9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.

(Proverbs 3:9-10 ESV)

Beckham is Coming to America

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Some of you may remember that I called David Beckham one of my favorite athletes during this summer's World Cup mania. Well, check this news out...
Beckham has conquered the rest of the world as the most recognized soccer player around, now, he's beginning his march across America after announcing a five-year deal to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham will become the biggest star to play U.S. professional soccer...
That's right folks. The British superstar is headed to the US. I am already planning a road trip through Chicago when Beckham and his team play there.

(HT: CMS)

Barnes and Noble Response

Barnes and Noble is just passing me off to the next person....
Dear Mr. Balvin,

We do appreciate your email. We are very sorry for any inconvenience
you have experienced in our stores. However, any store complaints must
be directed to: 800-422-7717.

We hope this information will be helpful to you.

Sincerely,

Verna
Customer Service Representative Makes me stop and think about how I am guilty of doing this in some personal relationships. There have been people that have come into my life with issues, and rather than walking through it and really helping them I have put on a friendly face and passed them off to someone else. Not because I was unable to help them, but mostly because I am selfish and unloving.

I don't think Jesus would have done that.

Man, That Kid Can Eat

Yesterday I met Stephanie and the kids at Chipotle for lunch. Jacob was running a fever that had him laying down on the couch almost all day. The good news is that the little dude still consumed 3 cheese quesadillasand was wanting more! Amazing. Just like his dad.

It just proves that there is NO bad time to eat at Chipotle.

10 Things You Need to Know About the South

With regard to Tony Morgan's move to the south, Ridgestone Pastor Gary Lamb lists...

10 Things You Need to Know About the South

10.) When you order tea, it comes with sugar already in it.
9.) We fry everything and make no apologies for it
8.) If there is a 1% chance of snow the stores run out of milk and bread
7.) A lift kit on your truck is totally accceptable – yes, you must own a truck not that sissy car you just bought
6.) We drink Coke NOT Pepsi
5.) Collard greens and black-eyed peas are a must on New Years
4.) YES, there are churches on every corner, NO most are not effective
3.) Wrestling is REAL
2.) Yes, we believe Elvis is still alive
1.) God’s team is the Georgia Bulldogs!!

Makes me wonder if the Coon Rapids neighborhood where I manage could be considered 'the South.' We fry everything at the A&W/Long John Silver's, half of my employees love collard greens and black-eyed peas, we have our fair share of ineffective churches, and most of the kids at the High School h…

The Morgans are Moving

Congrats to Tony Morgan and his family. They are leaving Granger Community Church and moving to sunny South Carolina where Tony is going to be joining the New Spring team, which is led by the always dynamic, passionate and occasionally in-your-face Perry Noble.

Here is Tony's post about it on his blog.

Here's what Perry had to say this morning about it.

Here are thoughts Granger Senior Pastor Mark Beeson shared about it.

I have gotten to know Tony over the last year through his blog, through emailing and through our occasionally Google Chats. Tony is a cool guy who loves Jesus and wants to use innovation and creativity to lead others to Christ. I am excited to follow his transition and to watch how God uses him at New Spring.

Proverb of the Day - Jan. 12

3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshmentto your bones.
(Proverbs 3:7-8 ESV)

Drama Machine

Here's a great term that I overheard some high school guys use tonight in reference to the cell phone a girl was text messaging on while she was sitting at their table: 'drama machine.'

I love it.

How much drama do girls create talking and texting on their cell phones?

A lot.

I think the term is completely dead on and I am for sure stealing it for my own usage.

What If Bill Hybels Had Blogged?

Blogging is unique in that it provides a peak for readers inside the thoughts and actions of the people who blog. This kind of self-revelation and public journaling was never available before the blogging phenomenon.

It is cool to read the stories and follow the journeys of so many interesting and wonderful people. And it is especially intriguing to watch what God is doing in churches like Granger, Ridgestone, Reston, National, and New Spring. Only blogging (and blogging pastors like Tony, Gary, Ben, Mark and Perry) can provide such a unique, inspirational and fascinating window.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to read the blogs of guys like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren in the early years of pioneering their amazing churches? It would still be neat to catch a glimpse of the current daily mind of Hybels, but reading the highs and lows, struggles and challenges, wins and God-moments of Willow Creek in it's infancy would have been great.

Thanks to all you pastors who are…

Customer Service Rants and Emails

I sent out a couple customer service emails today and I decided to post them here as well, rather than writing out the whole experiences. Hopefully these two reputable companies will follow-up and I can report back on their wonderful responses. Starting with Chipotle...
Hey guys, I appreciate the product and I am a huge Word-of-Mouth advertisers for you guys. Anytime I am with people who have never eaten Chipotle I take them there for dinner.

However, today when my family visited the Maple Grove store our experience was not quite as great as usual. The bathroom my 3 year old son and I used was dimly lit and smelled bad (like dirty, old water). Then when my wife brought our 4 month old into the bathroom to change his dirty diaper there was no place to lay him down except the floor. I love your food but the bathrooms bummed me out.

I'll probably blog about this so I would appreciate your response.

Thanks.

Brenton
www.brentonbalvin.blogspot.com Moving on to Barnes and Noble....
Friends,

I a…

Proverb of the Day - Jan. 11

3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
(Proverbs 3:1-2 ESV)

10 Commandments of Financial Freedom

I saw this in our church's monthly newspaper and found it to be a great reminder as my family and I head into a new year.

10 Commandments of Financial Freedom
Thou shalt recognize and value highly the nobility of hard work.Thou shalt establish a plan.Thou shalt avoid debt like the plague.Thou shalt distinguish between wants and needs.Thou shalt determine when enough is enough.Thous shalt not get involved with 'get rich quick' schemes.Thou shalt not compete with the Joneses.Thou shalt not make a major financial decision without getting wise counsel first.Thou shalt not corrupt your kids with money.Thou shalt not orient your whole life around money.

Why the English Standard Version is the Best for Preaching

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church on..."Why is the English Standard Version best for preaching?"There are two sets of reasons—theological reasons and practical/pastoral reasons—that have led the elders to decide that the ESV is the best translation for our preaching ministry and why we prefer the ESV to other translations. The theological reasons are listed below. To read the complete argument (including the list of practical and pastoral reasons why we are switching to the ESV), please refer to the complete version of this document.The ESV upholds the truth that Scripture is the very words of God, not just the thoughts of God.
The ESV upholds that what is said must be known before what is meant can be determined.
The ESV upholds the truth that words carry meaning.
The ESV maintains the theological nomenclature of Scripture.
The ESV upholds the complementarian nature of gender in Scripture.
The ESV upholds the truth that while Scripture is meant for all people, it cannot be comm…

The iPhone: B-E-A-utiful

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Oh man! I know I am not the first to break the news, but I thought I would highlight my drool over the new Apple iPhone. This beautiful device comes in 4GB or 8GB.

Here is the product description straight from the Apple site...
iPhone combines three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching — into one small and lightweight handheld device. iPhone also introduces an entirely new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and pioneering new software, letting you control everything with just your fingers.The sad part is that I don't have enough Best Buy gift card money. So, here's the deal...If you missed my birthday last week and you still want to send me something, email me and I'll send you my address.

Please, please email me...ok? I know I am pathetic, but come on, look at the picture!

*Update: I just watched all the de…

Leading for the Good of People and Business

I am going through some leadership challenges right now and it is really bothering me. I am struggling to reconcile my faith and values in all situations. I want to be good to people, show every one the grace that has been shown me and make worthy investments in the future of young people. Yet at the same time I feel responsible to make money and lead a top notch store for the owner of the business. And feel like those things are clashing right now.

My challenge is figuring out how to blend these two things, the good of people and the good of the business, together over the long term. At the present I am wrestling with finding a 'both/and' solution that would be a win for everyone involved. And in the back of my mind I know that means a lot of hard work on my part, having some tense conversations and risking the fact that people may not like me afterwards - not really the kind of stuff that gets people excited and up and out of the bed in the morning.

I know God is teaching me a…

Outreach Magazine's 25 Most Innovative Churches

Many of you have already seen this list but...

Outreach magazine organized a panel of twelve ministry leaders and experts to help determine which 25 churches in America are the most innovative.
Most of the churches and senior pastors are names I am pretty familiar with. One of them, Church of the Open Door, is actually the church my family and I attend. I am not totally clear on how they made the 'innovative' list so if anyone knows anything I would love to hear from you.
Anyways, the list is as follows:LifeChurch.tv (Edmond, OK) :: Craig Groeschel
>> other achievements include being one of
— the 100 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches in ‘04, ‘05, & ‘06
— the 50 Most Influential Churches in ‘05 & ‘06Granger Community Church (Granger, IN) :: Mark Beeson
>> other achievements include being one of
— the 100 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches in ‘04 & ’05
— the 50 Most Influential Churches in ‘06North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA) :: Andy Stanley
>> other ach…

Obedience Brings Blessings

This morning my wife wrote...
I had to laugh at how God blesses our obedience. Here I wanted to use the $20.00 my dad gave me to go out to eat but instead I obeyed and gave it to the church, then God turned around and blessed us with more $ to go out to eat with! Thanks God!This is so true. God promises in Scripture that when we follow him he will in turn bless us. In this case it was a monetary blessing of sorts, but that is not always what happens. The principle is not that we should give to get something back, but that we should be obedient and grow in faith as we trust in the promises of God.

Pour Your Heart Into It - Book Review

I recently finished reading "Pour Your Heart Into It," a book that tells the story of Starbucks and it's rise to prominence in the coffee world. Howard Schultz, former CEO and current Chairman, is the main story teller and he shares some very interesting details about his goals and intentions.

I loved the book and could hardly put it down. Here are a few quotes that I found particularly applicable to ministry and business leadership alike...
A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It is seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It is seeing what other people don't see, and pursuing that vision, no matter who tells you not to.It is those who follow the road less traveled who create new industries, invent new products, build long-lasting enterprises, and inspire those around them to push their abilities to the highest levels of achievement.But, passion is, and always will be, a necessary ingredient. Even the world's best business p…

Leading from Memory or Imagination

One of the things I am trying to do is breathe new life into the restaurant I manage. It seems as though things have been run the exact same way since the store opened. Creativity in marketing and sales has been almost non-existent. So I am working hard to bring new imagination and life and creativity to the place, especially in the area of marketing where we compete with a number of other stores in the area for customer visits and name recognition.

A few of the things I have done include:
adding more signs in and outside the storegetting on TV for our Toys-for-Tots donationspartnering with the local high school hockey team to sponsor 'Mite Night' which includes free root beer for little kids and having our life-sized Bear mascot skating around on the ice during 4 hockey games this seasonplacing crayons on all the interior tables for kids to play with while they wait for foodI am working on:
building a sponsorship with the local Baseball Little Leaguebuilding relationships with l…

A&W Awarenesss

An interesting thing happened at the store last night after I left. Apparently there were only two groups in the store, a family with young kids and a group of teenagers. While sitting within close range of one another the teenage kids started using four letter words and other crudes language.

It was loud enough that one of my employees (the mother of a young child herself) could hear it from the front of the store. Infuriated by the lack of sensitivity and sensibility, the employee stormed over to the teenage potty-mouth table and told them that they were in a family restaurant and that they needed to watch the language.

What a wonderful example of awareness and customer service. The family with young children even came up and thanked the employee for her boldness. I am proud of my team and the way they responded. They recognized a problem and took the initiative to solve it. Going a step further, they kept their eyes on the kids and made it a point to interrupt some potential cheeseb…

Catalyst Podcast Featuring Rick Warren

One my way home from work tonight I pulled out the ipod and listened to the Catalyst podcast with Rick Warren.I have listened to Rick a few times and I am always impressed because he seems so down to earth and in love with God.While I was putting my kids to bed I listened to the podcast again and took some notes…When I started Saddleback I had two main goals: pastor the same church for life and help other pastorsI think bi-vocational pastors are the real heroes in lifeSaddleback used 79 locations in its first 13 years
The church building is a tool not a monumentI don’t consider myself a visionary I just have a lot of faith; I have ‘Polaroid vision’ and I lead primary from a set of values not from a visionBuild your ministry on what will not change, not on the undefined futureEinstein once said, “You can be brilliant but if you can’t say it in a simple way your brilliance isn’t worth much.”Spent 12 hrs./day, 7 days/wk. for 7 months writing The Purpose Driven Life, worked hard to make it…

My Brother Jeff and I at the A&W

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My brother Jeff has picked up a couple shifts at the A&W to make money during the hockey season. Here is a pic of the two of us...

The weird thing is that I had been working here almost four months before he came to see me. And I think it was only because I am paying him to be here that he came. :)

Flu Shots and a Loving Parents 'Comforting Embrace'

Today we took the kids to get flu shots. Man does that suck!

One of the worst situations I've faced as a parent is watching my kids experience pain and being unable to do anything about it. I was standing over the kids this morning trying to distract them when the nurse stuck the needle in their leg and gave them the shot. Seeing their little faces contort, tears burst from their eyes, and their checks blush red while they held their breathes before screaming was not fun.

The ironic benefit of the situation is that the feeling of closeness in the 'comforting embrace' is almost unrivaled. Picking my kids up, holding them close and reassuring them of my love is wonderful. I consider it a blessing.

I think the evidence of Scripture is that our heavenly Father walks a similar gamut of emotions with us, his children. He hates to see us in pain, struggling through the negative and painful consequences of our choices. But he longs to hold us and pull us close and comfort us, re…

Learning and Returning

I was listening to the Simply Strategic Podcast today and I heard a great phrase. Ron Sylvia from Church Of The Springs in Ocala, FL said he believes that people have a responsibility to 'learn and return.'

This means that when God teaches us a lesson, be it in ministry or in our personal lives, we have a responsibility to pass that lesson to others who may benefit. For Ron Sylvia that belief plays out in his devotion to help church plants and church planters (check out the Purpose Driven Planting website for more info).

This concept if very similar to something Matt Chandler talked about in a recent message. He stressed the importance of inter-generational ministry, highlighting the fact that strong Christian adults have a vast amount of experiential knowledge to pass down to younger people. In fact, Titus 2 talks about this very thing, instructing older men and women to 'teach what accords with sound doctrine' to younger generations.

College Football Excitement

What an unbelievable game! If you did not see the Boise St./ Oklahoma game you missed one of the best college football games in a long time.Get this tape!Boise St. both out-played and out-coached the Sooners.
The end of the game was all thrills, amazing plays, creative coaching moves and gutsy determination to win. I am not a huge college football guy but this game was one I will remember for a long time.And to top it off, one of the star Boise St. players just proposed to his girlfriend (the head cheerleader) on national TV. She said…”Yes!”