Showing posts from September, 2007

Chasing Bubbles

Yesterday I sat in the driveway blowing bubbles for an extended period of time while my son Jacob chased them down and tried to catch them. It was entertaining at first, and then became very routine as I kept on blowing and as he kept on, unsuccessfully, trying to catch them.

It got me thinking...

There are a lot of things in life that people chase after: career, money, fame, approval, love, material goods, and the list goes on. You could think of these things as bubbles. People spend all their lives chasing after bubbles that pop as soon as people think they have caught them, and when the bubble bursts the routine of chasing starts all over again; it is really a childish game that we play.

The Apostle Paul wrote that he had found the formula for being content in all circumstances. Paul was a dude who came to a point in his life where he was done chasing bubbles. And his formula was this: to know Jesus and him crucified. May this be yours and my goal each and every day as well.

It is about who's we are, not what we do

I had the privilege of speaking to my friend's youth ministry students again this morning. They are going through a series called 'Jesus Revealed' where students are studying times in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus is revealed as the Messiah and/ or Son of God. This morning I taught from Luke 3:21-22 and stressed the fact that God is pleased with His son even before Jesus starts his public ministry. I wanted the students to know that it is not about WHAT we do but about WHO'S we are.

I really had a good time, despite the fact that there were only 3 students present (25 were away on a retreat with the YP). If there is a lonelier place to teach than to an audience of 3 fourteen year olds I don't know where it is. However, I believe this was another experience where God was forming in me a greater desire for Him than for the approval of man so I am grateful for it.

Oklahoma State Coach Goes Off

Wow. In this video you will see a college football coach who is passionately defending one of his players because of an article that was written in an Oklahoma newspaper. Maybe this ESPN writer doesn't think his behavior was ok (big surprise since he's ripping someone from the media) but I think it is awesome how this coach stood up for one of his kids. Check it out.

Overnight Work Shift

Just got home from working an overnight shift.

That means I've been awake for the last 26 hours.

That means I have been pounding coffee and Mt. Dew.

That means my caffeine high is about to wear off.

That means I need to take a shower and have a nap.

That means I am done with this post.

Breakfast with Isabelle

My son Jacob spent last night with his grandparents, so for a special treat I took my daughter Isabelle to Perkins for breakfast this morning. We had a great time eating sausages and pancakes. It was touchingly sweet for me to hold her little hand as we walked across the parking lot and to watch her color and sip her chocolate milk.

Isabelle is a fireball in our house with a tremendously strong will. She is very smart and intuitively understands how to assert herself and stand her ground when she is passionate about something. She makes me laugh and fume inside all at once. There's a saying that I've heard that rings deeply true with me: "Every guy wants a son but it the daughter that steals your heart."

Justifiable Tasering?

Out of curiosity, do you think the tasering of Andrew Murphy was justified or not?

If you don't know what I'm talking about here is a video of the University of Florida events...

Christianity Today Article Featuring Mark Driscoll

Christianity Today has a new article online about Mark Driscoll. It is a good article highlighting some of the work God is doing and Mars Hill, and addressing some of the controversy that surrounds Driscoll. Some highlights:

On how he became Calvinist...
Preaching through Exodus early in his career, Driscoll was struck by God's sovereignty over Pharaoh. He saw how God acted to deliver his people. The Book of Romans eliminated any remaining doubt about Reformed theology, which he summarizes this way: "People suck, and God saves us from ourselves."On women...
"If I could change one part of the Bible," Driscoll told The Seattle Times about Paul's writings on gender roles, "that would be the part, just so I could be left alone."On fundamentalism...
"Fundamentalism is really losing the war, and I think it is in part responsible for the rise of what we know as the more liberal end of the emerging church," Driscoll says. "Because a lot of wh…

Are You Ready?

I'm ready...are you?

Sunday School Teaching Recap

The Sunday School lesson went well this morning. It was good to get back into the saddle and teach again. I left feeling confident with my message and less concerned about entertaining the students; I think those feelings are signs of how God had been at work in me over the last few months.

Junior and Senior High age students are such a difficult group to minister to. I give props to all the Youth Workers out there who work and volunteer their time serving students. Oftentimes there are very few tangible signs that kids are actually 'getting it,' and yet these faithful followers of Jesus show up week after week to play bubble gum games and try to facilitate small groups.

Way to go Youth Workers! You are laying a foundation on which Jesus will continue to work in these students lives. Thank you!

5 Year College Reunion

Today Stephanie and I attended our 5 year college reunion. Can't believe it has already been that long since I was a crazy college kid without too much to care about day to day. It was fun to spend a night out with my wife after a hectic week where we never really had a chance to connect. Most of the people looked the same, except for the overwhelming number of pregnancies in the room! I didn't do a lot of mingling (not my style) but I did really enjoy connecting with some hockey teammates and other friends. I'm pretty sure Stephanie and I won the prize for "Most Kids Borne Since Graduation."

The Impacts of Following the Saviour

I am pumped up to do some teaching tomorrow at 1st Baptist Church in Minneapolis. A friend is the Youth Pastor there and she asked me to come and share with the kids in her ministry. It's a pretty cool opportunity because this is the church my mom grew up in and the place where my parents were married. It is also a special place because it is the place where my grandfather has sung in the choir for years and where I spoke during my grandmother's funeral last year.

I haven't done any teaching like this for almost a year and a half so I am a little nervous about how long/ short I might go. The text I am teaching on is Luke 3:1-15. Here's the main points of the outline.

The Impacts of Following the Saviour

Main Point: Jesus is the Saviour of the world and following him impacts how we live.

1. Following Jesus means seeing people the way He does.
2. Following Jesus means inviting all people to Him the way He does.
3. Following Jesus means evaluating our the lives way He does…

Vote on What To Do With the Barry Bonds 756 Home Run Ball

Fashion designer Mark Echo purchased the Barry Bonds 756 home run ball and has created a website that gives people the opportunity to vote whether to a) send the ball to the Hall of Fame; b) brand the ball with an asterisk; 3) launch the ball into space. Check out the site and cast your vote.

(I voted for a)

Racial Diversity Does Not Equal Increased Missionary Opportunity

Had two conversations today that kind of left a bad taste in my mouth about how many white evangelicals see the world. Both conversations involved wonderful, Jesus loving people. However they are also both white people, with little multicultural experience on any kind of regular basis that I am aware of (maybe I'm wrong).

Here's what bothered me - when I talked about my new job, and about how the place I work is a very racially diverse environment, both individuals replied along the lines of, "Wow, what a great ministry opportunity." It seemed as if they equated racial diversity with a need for evangelism. Like where I work is some how more of a mission field than any place else.

I feel blessed to be immersed, albeit for a short time, in a racially diverse setting. I'll be the first to admit that I am often not comfortable, and that I have been forced to face some of my own fears and prejudices. Yet I know that there is something to be learned during my time …

Parenting is a Partnership

One small piece of the message I heard at church today has been sticking with me. I don't remember it verbatim, but the main point was this: "[Parents] try so hard and worry so much about raising their kids perfectly, when, in fact, some of the things they consider screw-ups could be God's greatest set-ups to work in our children's lives."

Wow. I struggle all the time with the feeling that I am responsible to raise my kid to be a mature, functioning, respectful, quiet, controlled, sensitive, kind, wonderful, perfect human being. High expectations huh? Just writing that helps me to realize that when I put such a heavy burden all on myself I am bound to perpetually feel like a failure.

Similarly, to just sit back and watch their my childrens' lives unfold without involving myself at all would be just as sinful as trying to control everything. Therefore, it is my responsibility to do all I can to take care of the gifts (children) God has bestowed in my life. …

Global Warming Evidence, Maybe

Friday I heard on the news that we had a record low in Minnesota. The weather guy said is was the first record low we have experienced here since 2004. Conversely we have had 11 record highs in the same time frame.

Proof for global warming or proof against it?

Overheard at Work

This morning I arranged to go into the Target near my house to make up a few work hours. As I was putting some product away on the shelf I looked up and saw a mother, daughter, and 8 year old boy walking by. The boy was standing on the front of the shopping cart looking down inside. Then he said something that made my whole morning worth it. Sadly he told his mother, "I wish I could reach my balls."

Seriously, how could I not laugh at that?

Surrendering My Plan to His

After leaving ministry it took me a long time to come to grips with the truth that the growing I needed to do was going to take a long time. In fact, it took almost 18 months before I decided to stop worrying about my time line for getting back into vocational ministry. During those 18 months I would have jumped at the chance to speak at a retreat or teach a Sunday School class. However, with one exception, the call never came.

This August I believe the Lord led me to a place of surrendering to His plan and being willing to work on His time line rather than my own. I am holding on to the goal of one day pastoring again but I am much more content to grow my career and to further develop in the roles I am presently in. I am focused on learning and advancing in leadership in my new job, and I am less concerned with when I will get to preach again.

The funny part of it is this. At about the same time as I let go of trying to direct my own ministry life, within two weeks I received inv…

Being Careful About What I Write

A friend of mine cautioned me about talking too much about work related issues on my blog (thanks man). I checked into it with my HR person and they advised me of the same thing. Apparently the company is worried about confidentiality and things like that. So, because my job is more important than my blog, I will be more careful about what I write here.

It's interesting though; the rise of blogging has created problems for corporations that have never been encountered before. Some companies, like Microsoft, have embraced blogging as a way for employees to connect with customers and to expand the customer base. Other companies have strict rules limiting or even squelching work-related blogging all together. I know that some soldiers got in trouble for some of the war related blogging they did and it makes me wonder how free speech and censorship fit into the whole equation? Shouldn't I be able to say anything I want, provided that I don't disclose company confidential…

Blessed To Be a Blessing

One of my core beliefs is that Christians are blessed to be a blessing. This comes from Genesis 12. Sadly I don't always live up to this ideal, but God has given me a wonderful wife with a huge heart who is constantly showing me how to love others more than myself.

God has really been gracious to our family this month as we have tried to bless others despite our own tight financial situation. One example of this was when Stephanie gave my sister $100 as a thank you for babysitting and so that my sister could buy a new cell phone. A couple weeks later someone randomly gave us $100 so that we could take the kids and have a fun family day.

Another example happened on Monday. I was given the opportunity to buy a TV from a friend for a really good deal. We don't need another TV but I knew that my parents did. With all the money they spent raising my siblings and I things like new TV's always got pushed to the back burner. So I called my brother and we decided we'd buy…

Random Story #49

Yesterday was an eventful day. Just before I left work there was a call asking for the assistance. Arriving on the scene I encountered two large areas of blood splattered on the floor. Some further investigation revealed a razor blade sitting on the shelf near the largest blood pool and a empty package of earphones that had been stolen.

Apparently the thief brought the blade in, used it to cut through some plastic packaging, and somehow sliced his/her wrist in the process. A long trail of blood was also found elsewhere. My guess is that the thief was holding the cut closed and then released the pressure thinking the bleeding had stopped. It was a disgusting way to end the workday. Just the sight of it all made my stomach upset. I hope that the person is all right though.

Random Story #23

Recently I have been gaining experience by acting as the lead manager at work. One of the things I do is answer phone calls that come in from guests. Yesterday I received a call from a woman about a fall she had taken on our property. The funny thing was the date of the incident. She told me the fall had occurred at the end of July. Why she waited almost two months to report anything seems kind of strange.

Random Story #78

On Monday some work personnel had to rouse a man who had passed out on a ledge near the front entrance of our building. The man was severely intoxicated and had to be walked off the property by two employees. He was dirty and appeared to be homeless. It was a sad sight to see, and a reminder of the brokenness of the world we live in.

Thankfulness In My Store Placement

Working at Target has been great so far. I like my team, I have an experienced ETL mentor who is teaching me a lot, and I am experiencing new things everyday. Plus my fried food consumption is way down and my clothes don't stink to high heaven after work.

The store I am training in is located in an extremely diverse south Minneapolis neighborhood. It is not the store I would have chosen to be in, but I believe that God has me there for at least two reasons.

1) Being that we haven't sold out house, this store is the northern most store in the district I am assigned to which means that it is the shortest drive. I am thankful for this.

2) Many of the people who shop at my store and who work on my team are not people I would normally be in contact with. Middle/ Upper class whites are by far the minority shoppers in my store. The majority of our guests are Somalians Somalis, Latinos, and American Indians; we also have a large number of African Americans in the store. Many of th…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Flashback

Tonight I took the kids to Target while Stephanie did a Tupperware party. Some friends and family gave Jacob cash for his birthday last Friday so he wanted to go and pick out a toy. After much deliberation he settled on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figure; it is crazy and pretty cool that my son enjoys the same cartoon that I did when I was a boy. His favorite turtle is Michaelangelo (the orange one). My favorite, I think, was Donatello (the purple one).

Reflecting on all the birthday presents Jacob has received this year my question is this - how do all those stinking twisty ties get into the toy packaging? Does someone really sit in a chair all day long wrapping those things, or is it a machine that does it? I would like to see this man, or this machine, or this machine man, whatever the case may be.

The Elephant in the Church

National Community Church is doing a new series called "The Elephant in the Church." The series 'plays off the old idiom: the elephant in the room. It's a reference to obvious truths that everyone ignores.' It is a great creative idea and I think some things will come out that people in the pews really need to hear about.

In week one NCC focused on gray elephants, meaning the disputable issues found in Scripture that are not black and white. After preaching on alcohol Pastor Mark's wrote this:
"Not sure how to say this, but I felt like a pastor today. I think it's easy to talk about easy topics that everybody agrees on. But navigating the topics that are tough to talk about is part of what it means to be a pastor."

What I've Been Up To

If you were wondering why my blogging has been slow for the last couple weeks, Stephanie (my wife) has put up some posts and pictures detailing a few of the things we've been up to. You can see more pics on our Flickr page as well.

Oh yeah, I started a new job as well, which has been kind of consuming!

Fast, Fun, & Friendly Churches

One of the foundational things my company strives to be known for is as a "Fast, Fun, & Friendly" place to work and shop. The three F's drive both the way we work and the way that we treat our customers (known always and only as 'guests' in the T-world).

These are three great words for how our churches could work as well.
I think that more things in church should go fast; well, at least more often, more quickly. Too many preachers ramble through 4 conclusions, ministry meetings drag on and with some group filibuster like senators, and key decisions fail to be made and acted upon.
Church should also be more fun. There is a reason many non-church people think of church as boring...many times it is! Churches should be strategically injecting each service with something fun - like a joke, or a skit, or a video. Anything to make people laugh and smile.Friendly. Hospitality and love and warmth permeate the Scriptures. As followers of Jesus an attitude of friend…

Redefining Christian Maturity

Maybe we should redefine who a mature Christian is. Maybe "mature" has nothing to do with how long you've been a Christian or the number of Bible studies attended or which committees you've been on or knowledge or church attendance. Maybe "mature" has everything to do with passion for other people, caring about the right things, humility, relationships, and following Jesus.

- Casey Ross

Book Review: Peppermint-Filled Piñatas: Breaking Through Tolerance and Embracing Love

My sister spent two months this summer working at Mosaic church in Los Angeles. One of the things she enjoyed was meeting Eric Bryant, who oversees the leadership team there, and from what I can tell, keeps the Mosaic ship going while Erwin McManus is traveling and speaking around the country.

I had the pleasure of meeting Eric last summer and running off some copies of the Mosaic Constitution while I was an Executive Assistant at Bethel Seminary. Seemed like a really great guy; very humble, down to earth and friendly.

My sister brought me back an autographed copy of Eric's first book: Peppermint-Filled Piñatas: Breaking Through Tolerance and Embracing Love. It is a great book that focuses on encouraging Christians to step out of holy huddles and embrace the people around them, in love, for the sake of the Gospel. The book is filled with stories from Eric's own life and reads quickly and easily.

Some things that struck me...
all of us recognize the value of people simila…

Welcoming Myself Home from South Bend

Just got home from our weekend trip to Notre Dame. It wasn't a great game for the Irish but Stephanie and I had a lot of fun with our friends Jesse and Andrea. I have a few reflections to share, but I need some rest before my first day on the job tomorrow. Night.