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Showing posts from August, 2007

The Long Road From Captivity to Freedom

My mom sent me an email about a week ago that had some words from a devotional she reads. It was a timely reminder to me that 1) God is always good; 2) God is always in control; 3) God is always working on my behalf - even when it doesn't feel like it.

Here is a snippet of the devotional.
God wants to deliver us from our bondage, but many times we want the easy way out... a short cut: "Get me out of this mess Lord, but please don't let the way out cause me any pain or inconvenience." God knows our weaknesses. He knows how easily we would slip back into bondage if we faced adversity in the easy way out. In His great wisdom and sovereignty His plan for the exodus of our bondage is not the quick, easy way. He will lead us out through a path that will create a dependency on Him. This path will also strengthen our relationship with Him, give us a renewed assurance of our faith, and equip us for a possible slip back into the pit. Read in Exodus verses 18-19, "So God l…

Effective Leaders Hold Others Accountable

From time to time on Steven Furtick's blog he does a short video blog answering some leadership questions. The latest video was on 'staying fresh' and Steven talked about the importance of empowering and equipping other leaders.

As I look back on my time at A&W I can see some real upward looking trends in my ability to confront the poor performance of my employees. Not that I am great at it now, but I definitely have improved.

A big part of it for me is releasing the need to be liked and approved of by others. My tendency is to be so concerned with how others with react that I end up interpreting their immediate (and often negative) response as a rejection of me as a leader and person.

Steven had some good thoughts along the lines of confrontation with, and evaluation of, those we lead.
If you think you're doing someone a favor by allowing them to remain in a position they're no good at, you are just excusing your own cowardice.You have to have the guts to talk…

A Different Mindset Tonight

First Sunday night in months that I haven't gone to bed thinking about frying fish tomorrow. Weird.

I am picking up some work hours at Lynde Greenhouse this week. After Labor Day I'll start with Target. Sweet.

Dr. Pepper's 23 Flavors

After a long day filled with many activities and little gas (energy) in the tank I found myself wondering, "What are the 23 flavors that make-up the taste of Dr. Pepper?" I did some digging online and couldn't come up with anything. So, here is the official response from the Dr. Pepper website,
Q: What is the flavor of Dr Pepper supposed to be?A: Dr Pepper is a unique blend of 23 flavors. The formula for Dr Pepper is proprietary information.You can find out many other things about the soda on the Dr. Pepper FAQ page.

Much Has Happened in the Last Year

Today was my second to last shift at the A&W. At this time tomorrow I will be enjoying a glass of wine and reflecting at all that has happened in the past year. I actually started thinking about it tonight and the list of things is quite staggering.

I am just three days short of working in the restaurant world for one year. Coming out of college I would have never dreamed that I would be 27 years old and working in 'fast food.' Yet I see clearly now how God's strong invisible hand was directing my steps all along the way.

The last year has been an incredible time of self-discovery and reckoning. I have made confessions, faced past mistakes, identified things that trip me up, begun healing and growth processes, and challenged past patterns of thinking and being.

I have made some great new friends and I've seen the world from outside the Christian bubble I spent most of my life occupying. I have a better understanding of what life is like for people who are econom…

Grown-up People are not Strong Enough to Exult in Monotony

Great reminder from Mark Batterson.
It reminded me of Thomas Carlyle's famous caveman analogy.

Carlyle said imagine a man who lived his entire life in a cave and never stepped foot outside his darkened domain. Then, as a grown adult, the caveman steps outside to watch the sun rise for the first time in his life. Carlyle said the caveman would watch "with rapt astonishment the sight we daily witness with indifference."

In the words of G.K. Chesterton: "Grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. Is it possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon? The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore."

I love that. And I think that's the point of Psalm 29:1.

Free Robbie Seay Band CD

The Robbie Seay Band is one of my favorite Christian bands. A couple years ago I saw them play with David Crowder and Shane & Shane. Great show. Now, they are partnering with Relevant Magazine to offer a their newest album for free as a download. You can get the album, here.

(HT: Steve)

Target Update - Official Offer

It is official and I couldn't be happier. Yesterday I was offered a position with Target as an Executive Team Lead. I am very excited about the opportunity to build a career with such a wonderful corporation. The salary and benefits package are substantially higher than what I currently make and will improve our family life greatly. Plus, much of the stress on Stephanie will be lightened.

My prayer now is that I would be able to start the day after Labor Day. Right now I think I will be part of the South Metro district, so Stephanie and I are also praying that our house will sell quickly! We hope to find a new place in the Burnsville/ Lakeville/ Apple Valley area. Praise God for all this.

My last day at the A&W will be Saturday. It is sad to think about leaving all the people but I will not miss the stink!

Target Update - Got a Call Today

Wow. That was fast! This morning I got the call I was praying for. Target called and told me that they would like to offer me a position. The woman I spoke with didn't have many details and said I would hear more tomorrow. I wouldn't normally say anything until the deal is sealed, but my wonderful wife can't contain herself when it comes to exciting news, and so I figured I should post something. God is good and we are very excited about what the future holds for us!

Target Update - Third Interview Recap

Had a great interview yesterday. I met with a man named Tim. He is the District Team Leader in the area of the Twin Cities where I had previously told Target I would like to be (South Metro). We had a great conversation that even included some high school hockey/ Boston Red Sox talk.

Lord willing I should hear back later this week. Thanks for the prayers!

Speaking of prayers - we are waiting to hear if Stephanie will be invited back for a third interview at Bethel. Please pray for wisdom and guidance in her opportunities as well.

Check Out the Music and Teachings From The Village Church

The last couple nights I have been listening to a worship CD from The Village Church that I absolutely love. A friend of mine borrowed it to me and I don't know if I will be able to give it back. I recommend it big time. You can go to The Village website and listen to samples of the songs online. Buy this CD. You will not be disappointed.

I also highly recommend that you download some of Matt Chandler's teachings. I got hooked on this guy during the 'Hebrews' series. He's young, funny, reformed, deep, smart, culturally savvy and passionate about Jesus.

* If anyone does actually buy the CD or download some sermons, make sure to let me know what you think!

Monticello High School Custodian Charged w/ Sexual Misconduct With a Minor

Possibly my biggest fear as a parent is that my kids would, in some major way, be affected by the pervasiveness of sexual sin in our culture; the scale and scope of which is almost beyond belief.*

This morning I was reading the local newspaper online and I came across a sickening story about a male high school custodian charged with sexual misconduct over a 3 year period with a teenage male. If I was more naive I would have thought something like this couldn't happen in my town; nonetheless the story is sickening and shocking. I have to warn you that the details laid out in the article are quite disturbing and graphic. Read the article here.

As if the report wasn't appalling enough, take a look at the response of our legal system.
Although the Sherburne County prosecuting attorney described Larson as a "danger to the community" and "a risk to flee" during the time period leading up to his Sept. 19 hearing, Yunker gave Larson the option of $100,000 unconditi…

Do People Still Travel by Train?

As I was driving to work today an Amtrack-like train zipped by me on the tracks that run parallel to the highway. Most of the windows were full of people, which surprised me because I thought passenger trains were a way of the American past (not including light rail and subway). I've never traveled by train. How about you?

The Importance of Christ-Centered Bedtime Stories

Every night I am home, when it is time for the kids to go to bed, I am the one 'chosen' by them for the job of tucking them in, and the same question is always asked during our bedtime routine, "Daddy, will you tell us a story?"

I love telling the kids stories. Sometimes I fall asleep while I am laying on the floor telling them. I know this happens because I mumble my way through the story, floating in and out of consciousness, before accidentally ending with the word "Amen" instead of "the end." To which Jacob promptly sits up and corrects me. But most of the time I make it through.

There are nights when I will read the kids a book. Occasionally I will read right out of the Bible. Other times I will make up something completely random. These seem to be the favorites and the kids request them by details, such as..."the Space Alien" one, the "Little Mermaid" one, the "Puppy" one. It is funny because I try to retell a mad…

Suit Shopping With Stephanie

Went shopping with Stephanie tonight for a suit. I have never bought a suit before but with a big interview next week and a couple weddings in the next year to officiate I figured it was time. We went to Kohl's first, but decided to head to the Men's Warehouse for some expert advice.

I had fun trying on some different styles and colors, before landing on a fairly traditional charcoal colored suit. We decided the charcoal would give me the most versatility with different dress shirt and tie colors and designs. The hardest part of the night was pulling the trigger on the checkbook; suits sure don't come cheap.

I loved being in the store and wish that I could load up my closet on dress clothes. There is a certain feeling that I get when I dress up and I wish I had reason to do it more often. I guess I'll have to get in a church someday where I can preach in a suit, which might be tough for a white guy like myself to do, as suits don't seem to be the common white d…

A Letter to the Blogger Developers

Dear Blogger masterminds,

I have two requests for you. Please allow me to edit my category labels. I would like to change the spelling and capitalization of some of them. Also, I would like to be able to add/remove labels from my previous posts without having to open each entry. How about allowing me to add/remove labels from the 'Edit Posts' screen? That would be great.

Thank you,

Brenton Balvin

Loyal Blogspot user since 2005

Facebook and MySpace Highlight American Social Class Divisions

I have never really got into the whole MySpace thing. There is something I don't like about the customization and wallpaper pieces. I think MySpace's generally end up messy and disorganized and ugly. Plus, I always felt the majority of people who use MySpace are somewhat different than me.

This morning I read an article in Newsweek that reiterated and somewhat validated the thoughts I had.
A few weeks ago, [Danah] Boyd—who has done extensive ethnographic work on online behavior, blog-posted an essay tentatively sharing her (admittedly nonscientific) findings after months of interviews, field observations and profile analysis. Generally, she contended, "The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes and other 'good' kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college." MySpace is still home for "kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school.&qu…

First House Showing Today

We have our first house showing today at 3 pm. Please pray for God's hand to work in this situation. Also, pray for Stephanie who is frantically cleaning in the midst of three crazy kids running around.

What the Bridge Collaspe can Teach Us About the Image of God

In the wake of the bridge collapse many people have been retelling the heroic stories of ordinary men and women who helped with the relieve and recovery from the accident. I thank God that people didn't hesitate to help others in their time of need. In some cases, people have attempted to unite these acts of heroism with the idea that Minnesotans are 'such wonderful people.' You have likely heard the phrase "Minnesota Nice." I like how the preacher today re-ordered such an idea.

His thought (a paraphrase of something another pastor said) is that rather than looking at acts of heroism as some kind of character description of Minnesotans, we should look at it as people stripping away the layers of selfishness and brokenness and acting as God intended humanity to act. As people made in the image of God, horrific situations like the bridge collapse, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina, create the space for people to step outside of their self-centeredness and to function…

Everyone Will Let You Down Sometime

If management has taught me anything it has taught me that people will let you down sometimes - no matter how well you treat them. (I recently had an employee quit on me and it bums me out because I worked hard for that kid and gave him many opportunities to grow).

I was thinking tonight about how sad the story is about the Michael Vick (the football player accused of organizing a dog-fighting ring). Michael Vick had everything going for him. He was a star in the NFL, the face of entire team, the hero of a city, and the future hope of an organization. Then, one morning, everything falls. And Michael Vick lets everyone down.

The sad truth is that at some point we are all vulnerable to letting others down. None of us is immune. Our broken and depraved nature virtually ensures that at some point we will fall short of being the person others want/ need/ perceive us to be.

This should drive us to Jesus as the only person in whom we can place all our trust. God is always faithful, alway…

"So Much" - A Poem

This poem came to me during worship at church today.

So much
So much of you, I don't know
So much I have, I don't deserve
So much I want, I don't need
So much I owe, I can't repay
So much I hate, I can't stop doing
So much

Moved by the Hymns to Praise

Today at church I was moved by the power of the lyrics in hymns. During a wonderful music set, we sang All Creatures of Our God and King & Come Thou Font. I love singing the hymns. The words in so many of these songs are so rich and saturated with a combination of gut level emotions and theological depth.

Here is a verse that was particularly moving to me,
O to grace how how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above
What wonderful words! These are lyrics that grab my soul and speak the truth of what I experience in my deepest parts. Combined with a beautiful use of instruments I was stirred to praise God today in a way I hadn't for the last couple weeks.

Target Update - I Have Another Interview

Praise Jesus! Today I spoke with a Target HR woman and she asked if I would be interested in a third interview; of course I was excited and quickly accepted. My next, and, Lord-willing, final, interview will be with a senior level executive on Monday August 20. Stephanie and I are anxious about what the future holds for us and we continue to trust in the wonderful hands of Jesus. Thanks for you prayers.

Now I need to get a suit! What colour do you think best suits me? :)

3x5 Rule for Spiritual Conversations

Good thoughts on how to increase personal evangelism in our lives.
It is important for a leader to think strategically about their conversations throughout the week. If you don't plan it or make room for it, the likelihood is that it is not going to get done. I agree with Brian McLaren’s statement, “We should count conversations rather than conversions, not because I don't believe in conversions, but because I don't think we'll get many conversions if we keep emphasizing them.” The number of conversations you have is directly related to the number of conversions you will see happen over a year. In coaching church leaders we use the 3 by 5 rule. If leaders are going to be serious about connecting with people they need to uncover at least 5 new contacts a day, equaling about 35 a week, which will lead to 3 "sit-downs" for a meaningful conversation.
(HT: Steve McCoy from Gary Rohrmayer)

Why Did God Curse the Ground?

Listened to a preacher yesterday who was talking, in part, about the atrocities and sufferings in the world. He raised the question, "Why, in Genesis 3, does God put a curse on the ground? It was the man who sinned, not the creation, so why is the earth punished?" (Read it here, v17)
Why did God subject the natural order to such futility because of the sin of human beings? The natural order did not sin. Humans sinned. But Paul said, “The creation was subjected to futility.” The creation was put in “bondage to corruption.” Why? God said, “Cursed be the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17). But why? Why are there natural disasters in creation in response to moral failures in man? Why not just simple death for all the guilty offspring of Adam? Why this bloody kaleidoscope of horrific suffering century after century? Why so many children with heart-wrenching disabilities?Interesting questions.

The preacher than gave his answer.
My answer is that God put the natural world under…

I Like God, It's His Fan Club I Can't Stand

I was listening to the radio on my way home from work today and I heard a talk show host talking about a guest he is planning to have on his program next week. The guest is a writer for the LA Times who used to cover religion for the paper. He no longer does so because he claims to have all the religion sucked out of him after having to cover so many negative stories related to organized religion.

In clarifying about the guest the producer of the radio show made an interesting comment. He said, "It is not that [the writer] doesn't like God anymore, he just doesn't know about the people in God's fan club." I listen to this radio show often and I know that the host and producer have a very low view of God and church and religion, so it struck me when the producer made this comment. Reminded me of something Erwin McManus says, "The greatest enemy of Christianity in the US today is Christians."

Brothers and sisters, our life says a lot. Live it right, l…

The Gap Between God's Promise and Its Fulfillment

Talking with my mom tonight and she reminded me of something in Scripture. Many times Biblical characters had to wait long amounts of time between the promises of God and their fulfillment. Thing about it. Abraham waited ten years between the promise of a son and the birth of one. Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years before his people could enter the promise land. Joseph spent years in prison and many years as Pharaoh's helper before he was able to assist his family during the famine.

I live in a culture that teaches me I can have everything I want, when I want it. However, God doesn't seem to like my cultures plan. More often he promises me something and then delays fulfilling that promise. But his delay is not without purpose. There is shaping and forming that needs to be done in my life. There is junk that needs to be chiseled away before I will be ready to receive.

If you are at a point where you think God has forgotten his promises to you, be encouraged with …

Stephanie Has an Interview

Stephanie is interviewing for a position at Bethel University today at 2 pm. She has been turned down for four other positions but through perseverance she has finally scored an interview.

Thanks for the prayers.

Target Update - First/Second Interview Recap

The interview went really well today. I actually did two interviews. Now I will be waiting this week to hear whether I did well enough to score a third interview next week. Lord willing I will hear positive news soon.

Thanks everyone for the prayers. I woke up with a serious stomach bug that has left me feeling horrible all day. Now, since I have had no caffeine today, my headache is starting to kick in.

I want to say a special thank you to Stephanie who brought me coffee (before she knew I was sick), bought me some new shoes and dress shirts, and kept the kids busy so I could get some extra rest this morning. Thanks babe!

(The picture is for you Margaret. Blue dress shirt, black pants, new shiny black shoes, and a red and blue tie.)

Spiritual Growth is A Crawl

Last night I did a lot of driving and I was listening to a couple messages by a dude from this church that have been rocking me (the Salt and Light messages).

One of the things that has stuck with me is the idea that spiritual growth is not a high speed endeavor. In fact, it is more like a traffic jam crawl. Man I hate that. But I know it is true. I have experienced it. I am experiencing it. Change takes time. And usually, I want it now. Not later. You with me?

But think about it. Real growth almost always happens slowly. You can't even see it happening. Suddenly your newborn baby boy is up and walking around. You wake up one morning and your little girl is wearing make-up and twirling around in her dress up clothes. Your first born son is riding his bike and throwing a ball further than you. You step into the shower and your stomach has become a visual impairment to your feet. The same thing is true with spiritual growth. Rarely do we see it happening. We can only…

Technical Arts Director position - Dead

Got my letter from Upper Room today. No Technical Arts directorship for me. My guess is that I don't have enough technical experience. Most of my experience is conceptual and more leadership oriented rather than actual hand-ons working knowledge.

The news bums me out some but I know that God is clearing the way for something else. Target interview comes Tuesday. It is currently the only egg left in my basket.

Jesus Leads Us to Places We'd Rather Not Go

Craig Barnes recounts an experience of listening to Henri Nouwen speaking to a group of theological students....
I can still see Nouwen leaning over the pulpit asking us, "Do you love Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Do you love Jesus? He waited through a long pause....Then he made his promise: "If you say yes, it will mean meetings, meetings, and meetings, because the world likes meetings. It will mean parishoners who only want one thing of you, not to rock the boat....it means being subjected to endless deju vu experiences. It means all of that. But it also means anxious hearts waiting to hear a word of comfort, trembling hands eager to be touched, broken spirits with expectations to be healed...Your life is not going to be easy, and it should not be easy. It ought to be hard. It ought to be radical; it ought to be restless; it ought to lead you to places you'd rather not go.

- retold in Gordon MacDonald's book, Mid-Course Correction

Happenings

Our house is now officially on the market. You can check out the listing here. Props to my babe for all the hard cleaning work she's done.
Stephanie recently took a PT position at our church. She will be bringing in the big bucks as part of the facilities team (a position I held for a month last August).Stephanie may have an interview with Bethel University next week.I have an interview with Target next Tuesday. This is a big one so please pray.No word from Upper Room on the Technical Arts job. I emailed the guy on Tuesday and he told me they were making calls and sending out letters this week. I received neither.Our restaurant has a new owner. Great guy. I'm still ready for a change.Still can't believe the bridge collapsed on Wednesday.Our close friends are renting an Excursion and bringing Stephanie and I to the Notre Dame football home opener first weekend of September. Yeah!Andrew is almost 1 and Jacob is a month away from turning 4. Yikes. Time honestly does …

Coffee, Friendship and Preaching

Had coffee this morning with a good friend of mine. He is a pastor in our town and he emailed me earlier in the week inviting me to join him in thinking about his sermon schedule for the next year.

It was great to be back in the environment that I love so much. We talked about people, what the community needs to hear, what creative ideas are floating around the ministry world right now, different preaching/ministry styles, male headship, and a whole host of other things. I probably could have spent hours there if my Caramel Americano hadn't run out and if I didn't have to go to work. I can't wait for the day God opens the door for me to return to a place where I can spend my time thinking about and planning to preach.

Another bonus of the morning was simply being with an old friend. While we don't agree on everything anymore, he is a follower of Jesus whom I have tons of respect for and a man that has invested volumes into my life. His mentoring and friendship have…

John Piper Reflects on the MN Bidge Collapse

All the local news stations are reporting on the terrible tragedy that occurred in Minneapolis yesterday when the 35W bridge collapsed. This morning I read a blog post by John Piper that I would recommend to you. In it he recounts the conversation he has with is 11 year old daughter abut the accident before putting her to bed yesterday. I am struck and convicted after reading this by the way Piper always turns things (all things) back to Jesus.
O that all of the Twin Cities, in shock at this major calamity, would hear what Jesus has to say about it from Luke 13:1-5. People came to Jesus with heart-wrenching news about the slaughter of worshipers by Pilate. Here is what he said. There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you rep…