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Showing posts from October, 2007

Happy Halloween at Chipotle

Will the Balvin's be there? Um, YEAH!

Day Off Thoughts

Today is the first day I have had off in 9 days. I've enjoyed laying around, wrestling with the kids, drinking coffee, doing some reading, and napping a bit. Stephanie is harassing me because it is 3 pm and I'm still wearing my sleeping clothes, but you know what, I think I deserve a slob day. Anyway, this piece of Scripture has gotten me thinking today,
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)As many of you know I have gone trough a theological shifting of sorts in the last 18 months. Part of this change is my understanding of the condition of man and the role of God in the saving of individuals. I am definitely not 'arrived' (and I hope I never think I completely have because people who are too sure usually end up being jerks) but I am spending more time wondering how someone who is sinful and anti-God from th…

Please Call Me By My Name

One thing I am currently trying to do, in an effort to expand my leadership/management skill set, is to develop the habit of using people's first names when I speak to them. Sounds, maybe, like a small thing, but I think that calling someone regularly by their first name dignifies and humanizes them. It shows that you care about them as an individual and as a team member, simply as some worker bee. In my experience I see a more positive response when I say, "Good morning Bill" instead of just a stale "Good morning." My biggest struggle in strengthening this practice is exerting the mental energy to actually learn and remember someone's name. I am working on it though and I think it is paying off.

What has Willow Creek Learned in 30 Years?

Willow Creek is a church that has had a dramatic impact on my life and my philosophy of ministry (this same statement could have been written on the blog of hundreds of pastors around the country who are modeling themselves and their churches after Willow). Through its program-driven, seeker-friendly emphasis, Willow has reshaped the way Sunday morning service operates in thousands of churches.

So how do we react when Willow's pastor, Bill Hybels, says things like this,
Speaking at the Leadership Summit, Hybels summarized the findings this way:
Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.Having spent thirty years creating and promoting a multi-million dollar organization driven by programs and measuring pa…

1/2 Caf, Venti, Sugar Free Vanilla, Non-fat, X-hot, Latte

This morning was by far the most fun I have had in my 8 weeks of training. That's because I spent 4 hours taking orders and learning to make drinks at the Starbucks in our store. I got a cool black hat and a green apron and I rocked the place. It took my a while to learn all the different drinks and their espresso/flavor shot quantities but I had a blast.

The staff in my store is awesome and greeting and talking with the guests made the time fly. Plus, with all the drinks I made and samples, my body was running on high speed. If I was 18 again I would definitely get a job at Starbucks.

I wonder if they would let me make my own drinks now? Hmm...

Bye Bye Ministry Fair

Mark Waltz of Granger Community Church on what Granger is doing to encourage people to join in and serve.
A few years ago we moved away from what we called a "Ministry Fair" to a "Volunteer Expo" (I'm sure we borrowed it from another church). We found that the mere label was more understandable and less intimidating for people new to our church and/or Jesus. In years past, we set up large areas using tents or other temporary structures in a designated area on the campus and pointed people to the Expo following services. We experienced some measured positive outcomes in people stepping into the varied opportunities. This year we opted to create space inside our auditorium where services are experienced. No one had to leave the room. However, we needed to help people visit ministry booths quickly and effectively. So, using tear-off cards in every program (bulletin), guests were invited to choose ONE area to start with and drop their card at that selected table. Th…

To Stand or Flee in the Face of Persecution

Have you ever wondered what you would do in a situation where you faced persecution for your faith? As I think about the people around the world in places like Iraq, Sudan and Indonesia who daily die for their faith I wonder what I would do if I was in their place.
Would I flee the country?
Would I try to go underground?
Would I boldly stand and suffer?John Piper has a short reflection on Matthew 10:16. In it he poses the questions above and quotes a thoughtful and heart-freeing response from a man named John Bunyan. I encourage you to reflect on what Bunyan writes,
In 1684, John Bunyan published a book called Seasonable Counsels, or Advice to Sufferers. In it, he addressed this question: When does a sufferer fly (from danger) and when does he stand (and suffer the danger)? Bunyan knew how to answer for himself. He had four children, one of them blind, and he chose to remain in prison for twelve years rather than promise not to preach the gospel. How does he answer the question for oth…

Praising the Lord and His Prompting

On my way up to the retreat last weekend, as I passed miles and miles of beautiful scenery capped in the deep reds and yellows and oranges of the trees I felt God speaking to me about praising him.

My first thought was that he wanted me to reorder my talks and spend an entire session teaching about the beauty and glory and praise-worthiness of God. I was not excited about that because I didn't have time to write that talk. But the more I prayed and questioned and balked at the idea the more it became clear that the prompting to praise was not for me to teach but for me to participate in.

So I quieted myself and listened to some praise music and simply tried to soak in the world passing me by. My soul got so peaceful as I thanked God for his creation and for what a wonderful Savior he is. Then, as I was driving down the dirt road to the camp entrance, I saw three deer. One of the deer stood on the side of the road and stared at me. As I praised God for the deer he took a final …

Retreat Recap

The weekend retreat went really well. Saturday night was the most powerful session. I shared how Jesus comes and dies and brings us to the Father in his own righteousness despite our sin (not exactly in those words, but you get the point).

Then I challenged the students to respond in some form to Jesus. Sunday morning I asked how many kids prayed to receive Jesus or renew a commitment to him and nearly 2/3 of the 26 students there raised their hands. God moved despite the technical difficulties we had and I think he was probably behind them in the first place teaching me to rely on his power and not my own.

I had a blast hanging out with the kids and seeing my friend Kyle. He is doing a great job and maturing more and more as a leader. It felt good to do ministry with a friend again. The role of speaker is something I have never had before and I enjoyed it a lot. My prayer is that God would continue to give me opportunities to teach and share from his word.

New Blogger Feature

Blogger has added a new feature that I think is awesome. It is a comment follow-up option. Basically, when I leave a comment on someone's Blogger Blog I can choose to be emailed when new comments are added to the stream I am involved with. This way I don't have to keep returning to a blog and checking the comments area of a post to see if anyone has replied. This a a cool feature.

Water That Satisfies

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." - John 4:13-14Everyone is thirsty for something; so thirsty that we sometimes drink stuff that will kill us.

At my previous work location we had a recurring problem with alcoholic homeless individuals coming into the store and purchasing mouthwash. Why? Because mouthwash has an alcohol content around 14% (28 proof) and the drunks would drink bottles of it in the morning to help cure their hangovers.

Before I condemn these persons for their behavior I have to look at my own. There are times in my life that I am tempted/ will drink 'things' that are bad for me just so that I can have something to cure my thirst. These drinks never satisfy and just leave me thirstier than I was before. But when I am hurting, they are my …

Speaking at Bluewater Camp This Weekend

A good friend from high school is a Youth Pastor and his students are spending the weekend at Bluewater Covenant Bible Camp. I was blessed to be invited to speak so in about ten minutes I will be leaving to head up to Grand Rapids, MN for the weekend.

My speaking schedule is....

Friday night - The Gap Theory: how our sin separates us from God
Saturday Morning - The Enemy Amongst Us: staying alert for the schemes of Satan
Saturday Night - Bridging the Gap: Jesus is the Saviour who brings us to God
Sunday Morning - Paradigm Shift: following Jesus changes the way we view everything

I haven't done anything like this in awhile and it should be a great three days, but I'm sad to be leaving my family. I wish they could come stay with me but Stephanie has some Tupperware parties on Saturday. Please pray for them and drop by with some Godfather's Taco Pizza if you are so inclined!

Reading as the Sun Comes Up

It is 6:30 AM and I rolled into the local coffee shop to do some work. The only other person in here is a lady sitting in the corner reading her bible.

-Crazy, I know her and she just stopped to say hello-

Does anybody else in the world get up so early to sit and read? Kind of a weird Christian practice, but one that is foundational to me experiencing growth and strength in my walk with God.

Living the Way

Anytime Matt Chandler says or writes something I want to be exposed to it. I love the guy's passion and insight. Here's a piece of something he recently wrote for Catalyst Monthly.
The first Christians were not known solely for what they believed. There were no books on Christian doctrine, no discipleship materials, no web blogs to browse, and no seeker services. They were known by how they lived. In fact, the very first Christians were not called Christians at all; they were called "The Way" (Acts 9:2). I love that.Acting like a Christian, while successfully managing a team and building a career in a secular environment, is something that has been on my mind a lot the last few months.

Finding our Welfare in the Welfare of our Cities

In the following verse God instructs the Israelites who are living in exile to seek the welfare of the city of their captures. I don't think much about serving in my city but these verse is an intriguing one to consider.
Jeremiah 28:4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. It raises the question in my mind, "What involvement can I have in the betterment of my city that will bring God glory and increase the pleasure I feel each day?"

Examining the New Atheism

A friend of mine sent me a link to this article a long time ago; I just got around to reading it tonight. It is a wonderfully rational and articulate critic of Christopher Hitchens's book "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything."

In the article Peter Berkowitz examines the arguments of Hitchens and points out the inconsistencies between the standard Hitchens has for religion compared to his own faith: atheism. Berkowitz also draws attention to Hitchens failure to apply solid hermeneutical principles when criticing Biblical sources and so-called Biblical inconsistencies.

Open House Tomorrow 1-3 PM

Stephanie is cleaning like crazy right now trying to get our place ready for an Open House tomorrow afternoon from 1-3.

Not that I mind the one-way, one-hour drive to Lakeville, but we would really love to sell the house before the end of November. So, if you know anyone looking to move to the NW suburbs please let me know.

A Few Bad Apples at the Gopher Game

Last night Stephanie and I went with some friends to the U of MN hockey season opener. My friend had gotten a free parking pass and four free tickets in a suite! Parking and strolling into suite level knowing you didn't pay anything is pretty cool.

Unfortunately the tickets were in the suite of a local rock radio station who had also given away some promotional tickets. The guys in the suite were already 5 or 6 beers in by the time we got there. Other people's drinking isn't really my business, but the filth that was coming out of these guys mouths made enjoying the game impossible. They were loud, obnoxious and vulgar.

So after the first period I struck up a conversation with a man in a suite next to ours. It turned out that he worked for the Xcel Centre and he invited us to come watch the rest of the game in his suite. In the meantime another person from our suite asked management to come and talk to the trouble makers and they were eventually removed from the pre…

Cheeto Mania!

Stephanie was out doing a Tupperware party tonight. This is a picture of what happens when you let the 1 year old dig in the cupboards. You should have seen Jacob and Izzy on that pile of Cheetos; they hit it like a flock of seagulls on a beach bread crumb. They were so fast they may have eaten a few before they even touched the ground.

Constantly Being Evaluated

I had my final day of in-class business college today. We were learning security from two of the district security leaders. Pretty important guys who, unfortunately, weren't too impressed with some folks in our class.

After they left our business college coach came in an sort of 'tore us' regarding our behavior as a class - one dude even fell asleep in front of these guys. At my company employees are always being evaluated; you are always 'on stage' so to speak. Our coach let the group know that some of us had missed a golden opportunity to leave a good impression on some people who could really help further our careers (thankfully I was not included in that group).

Same thing holds true with Jesus. He is aware of all we do. There is nothing you or I can do that is outside his sight. And he is looking to see if we wish to follow him or not. Be encouraged that he is gracious and merciful beyond our faults, but also remember, out of all the people in this life w…

Survey Says...

A friend of mine blogged the lyrics from a new song written by her husband's former band. The guys in the band aren't Christians but they seem to have bumped into some.

Let's just say, they weren't too impressed with the folks they encountered.

Thrift Store Day

Today was 50% off day at the thrift store; it is like that on all major holidays. Stephanie gets all crazy for these thrifting days. Her and kids took a trip down to Crystal today and found some really great stuff.

I haven't seen all the clothes yet but I am sure she picked out the good deals, like she always does. With three growing kids, anytime we can get quality clothes at half off it is BIG bonus. I'm hoping she found some more red shirts and khaki pants for me as well.

The only thing I don't want to see is the bill.

Mr. Halloween is Scary

Stephanie told me that Isabelle is a little concerned about Halloween coming up. So I asked Izzy, "Are you excited for Halloween?" to which she replied, "No, he is scary!"

Izzy thinks Halloween is a scary man. Funny.

Quick Hits from my Mind

Can't believe we have the AC on in MN in October.Can't believe USC lost to Stanford.Congrats to Notre Dame on their first win.Good to see the Grose's today.
The Packers are throwing away this game against the Bears.Didn't miss the Vikings playing at all.Seeing my friends at the wedding last night was really fun.I love wearing my suit and seeing my wife in a skirt.Had a great time with the family today.Still can't believe USC lost.Wish Stephanie wasn't at work.My house is pretty clean right now - I love it.Flys are some of the most disgusting creatures I can think of. Typing that makes me feel sick.Way to go Red Sox. World Series here we come!My kids are growing up way to fast.Looking forward to learning grocery.Really praying our house would sell.This is going to be a crazy week between work, Tupperware, and other stuff.My kids are loving preschool. I can't believe they are going already.Life is pretty good right now.Excited about speaking at a Youth Retre…

Missing Sunday Church Service

I haven't been in a church service in 3 weeks. In fact, I've only been to 2 weekend services in the last 7 weeks. The scary fact - I'm not sure I miss it all that much. Don't get me wrong, I love joining other Christians and worshiping in song; I also need to hear the Bible taught and applied to my life as much as the guy next to me. But what I don't have at my church is a group of friends to look forward to seeing.

Mostly it is my own fault; reaching out and creating relationships is difficult for me. Plus, I have been operating under the idea that we'll be moving soon, so I feel that our time at this church is temporary rather than permanent. I know Sunday's won't always be this way, but I've secretly enjoyed the change of pace and ability to add a little extra unplanned time for myself and with my family.

For example, today instead of going to church, Stephanie and I loaded the kids in the minivan, got a Dunn Bros. Raspberry White Chocolate M…

Grocery in Lakeville

Found out a couple weeks ago that I will be training to oversee the grocery department for the company I work for. I'm excited about the opportunity; it is a great place to let my leadership shine bright in the eyes of the people who will promote me. There is a lot of responsibility working in grocery and a lot to learn, but I am confident that I'll be able to handle it.

The downside is that my training store is in Lakeville. That is about an 1 hour 15 minute drive from my house in Monticello. And my guess is that I will be placed in Apple Valley which is about the same distance. These are stores that I want to be in, we just really would love for our house to sell. Any prayers you could offer would be greatly appreciated!

Derek Lynde Wedding

Had a great time officiating the wedding of my friend Derek Lynde yesterday. Derek is a guy I have known since high school; his dad owns the greenhouse where I have worked for the last 10 years. Besides getting an extended date with my wife (who looked GREAT!), connecting with some friends from high school that I rarely see was my favorite part of the wedding.

It was an outdoor service at the MN Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. The weather was beautiful and the setting idyllic. The wedding had a few bumps beforehand (I almost had to throw down with a self-proclaimed wedding coordinator regarding the chair set-up) but everything was smooth sailing during the service.

The reception was at the Oak Ridge Hotel and Conference Center. It was very elegant. I have never danced as much as I did last night and I hope my wife appreciated it because I felt like a dummy; last night was the only wedding I have been to where the pastor and his wife shut down the dance floor!

First Day of Preschool

Tonight I went and visited my kids preschool; it was the first of what I am sure will be many school open houses. Kind of a surreal feeling to have two kids in preschool.

They go twice a week, which is just enough time for them, and it also frees my wife up to work on her Tupperware business in a quiet home. Stephanie posted more about their first day of school here.

Both Jacob and Izzy seem to be adjusting well, though Isabelle needs a touch more redirecting sometimes. I am proud of the way they listen and play and befriend others in their class. They are good kids and I am fortunate to be their father.

David Crowder Band: Remedy

My wonderful wife gave me a surprise yesterday. We met in Maple Grove for dinner and she handed me the new David Crowder Band disc called Remedy. I am a huge Crowder fan and I've been waiting for this CD release for months. I haven't had a great chance to listen to all the tracks but I like most of what I have heard. It seems like the Band is moving further away from the sound of some of their earlier stuff and they are incorporating a lot more electronic elements.

Check out the CD for yourself and let me know what you think.

A Favorite TV Show

I have been loving the first two episodes of Kitchen Nightmare's. The premise of the show is this: Chef Gordon Ramsey (from Hell's Kitchen, which I also loved) partners with the owner/ staff of a dying restaurant and he turns the place around. Chef Ramsey is intense, passionate, in-your-face, brutally honest, and sometimes down right mean. But the guy knows cooking, and he does an amazing job evaluating these restaurants. I love his passion for what he loves.

Interesting Dinner Conversation

I was sitting down for dinner tonight at my church when I felt like the Spirit prompted me to invite another man in the lobby to join me at my table. After some internal conversation (my introversion was screaming NO!) I went over and asked the man if he'd like to eat with me. He wasn't hungry but he came and sat with me anyway.

The conversation was slow and I was unimpressed with his relational skills. But, one of the major goals in my life right now is learning to love all people where they are at, and so I was using this as a learning experience. Not long after we started talking another man came to the table and introduced himself. It turns out that he works for Lund's Food and so we started talking grocery and Target and a few other things.

Man #1 wasn't too interested so he excused himself leaving just Man #2 and myself. I was amazed as the man revealed to me some of the pain and struggle he has been walking through over the last month. It is much of the sa…

Sucks Being a Pharisee

Went to a group tonight that I never foresaw myself attending. Listening to some of the people share and evaluating my feelings during the group time reminded me of something Jesus said.
Luke 18:9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”Sucks being a Pharisee.