Showing posts from November, 2007

Friendship is Like Peeing Your Pants

Today I read a hilarious metaphor on a blog about friendship. It said:
"Friendship is like peeing your pants. Everyone can see it but only you can feel the warmth"

Isn't that great? Reminded me of a verse in 2 Samuel that highlights the deep love and friendship that David had for Saul's son Jonathon. These words come right out of David's journal as he processes the death of his friend,

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women.

True and lasting friendship is a deeply satisfying thing. It can overcome all types of obstacles and transcend time and space. To be without friendship is to experience an aching loneliness. When friendships end there can be grief and powerful feelings of loss. But there is always new friendship waiting around the corners of life if only a person would risk and pursue it.

The Amazon Kindle

This is an awesome new product from Amazon that I am totally pumped about! It is a digital reading device with tons of cool features. I can't wait to see one of these up close and I would love to have one. Please Santa!

Check out the video.

Thoughts on Prison

Back in 2000 I attended a lecture one evening on the failure of the U.S. prison system to truly rehabilitate criminals. The lecturer talked about how high re-offense rates are, but she also talked about the massive amounts of money being spent by the prison system and the overcrowding in many prisons. She did not compare our country with any others.

Last night I was watching a show about the San Quentin prison and the narrator was talking about how the prison, rather than rehabilitate criminals, actually creates a networking platform for them. Many times criminals come out of jail with more contacts and increased criminal know-how; not to mention the fact that many inmates spend a majority of their time working out and getting fit. It would seem that our current system is producing super-criminals: stronger, meaner and more connected.

I know that I am making generalizations of massive proportions, and that some people do come out of jail changed and ready to embark on a new life, bu…

Balvin Named MIAC Player of the Week

MIAC Men's Hockey Athlete of the Week
Bethel University senior forward Jeff Balvin (Maple Grove, Minn.) scored his third and fourth goals of the year and added his 10th and 11th assists in Bethel's 7-4 win over St. Scholastica last Wednesday. The Royals and Saints were tied 4-4 going into the last period, but Balvin assisted on the go-ahead goal, and tacked on Bethel's final goal to seal the victory. Balvin now leads the team in scoring with 15 points.

Since We Moved I Have...

read a bookspent less time and gas money driving to and from work
overdosed on ESPN and sportslearned that Hippopotamus mark their territory by pooping in the water and propelling it at perceived threats with their tailslearned there are only 2 species of alligator (American and Chinese) and 2 species of crocodiles in the world - both of which are highly endangeredlearned about the perils a young wildebeest encounters during its first years of life
decided to use air dryers for my hands in all public bathrooms whenever possible to conserve paperlearned to survive without a microwaveenjoyed playing with my kids and hanging out with Stephaniethanked the Lord over and over for his favor

Balvin gets 2 goals, 2 assists in 7-4 win over St. Scholastica

Here the headline from Bethel University's hockey homepage:
Balvin gets 2 goals, 2 assists in 7-4 win over St. Scholastica

That pretty much sums up Bethel's pre-Thanksgiving win on Wednesday; unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the game.

JB stats = 2g, 2a, +2

Season Totals:
Bethel 5-2-0 (overall)
Bethel 0-2-0 (conference)
JB 4g 11a = 15 points, 6PIM, +9

An encouragement if I may- if you live in the Twin Cities area you really need to find a time to come and watch this kid play!

Time with Jacob

Spent the evening with my four year old son Jacob. We had an awesome time wrestling, watching football, playing with his new animals, visiting a book store and eating dinner at an A&W. I can't believe how old he is getting. I love talking with him and hearing his dreams and opinions and passions. He is in a wonderful stage where he can draw or play alone and yet he still loves to come sit on my lap when he's tired and cuddle. Last night the two of us hit the bed early after a long turkey day. I fell asleep to Jacob paging through some books next to me in the bed. Precious moment. I love that little dude.

Using Magic to Gain a Gospel Audience

A couple nights ago my family and I watched a show where a masked magician showed some of the tricks illusionists use to entertain audiences. I was thinking more about that and I thought it would be cool to learn some magic tricks and incorporate them into a show that teaches about Jesus. Almost everyone I know enjoys magic on some level. People get a charge out of being fooled and wondering what just happened in front of their eyes. Added to that is that fact that there is no shortage of material in the Bible regarding the spiritual world. Combining the two could make for a great draw and opportunity to share the story of the Gospel. I'd need to learn a few good tricks first, but it seems like a fun goal to shoot for.

Black Friday Insanity

Are you going to be one of the millions of Americans who rush off to retail stores at insane hours of the day hoping to save some cash? I will be on the road by 4:30 AM but not because I am in the buying mood. I am one of the lucky individuals who will spend my day answering guests questions and trying to remember how many Tickle Me Elmo's we have left. Should be crazy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bethel Hockey Update

There have been a few games since I wrote last. Here's a quick rundown.

11/09 - Bethel skates past Marian 7-3
11/10 - Royals stay undefeated with 4-3 OT win over Marian
11/16 - Tommies top Royals 4-1 in conference opener
11/17 - Bethel falls 6-5 in wild overtime game with St. Thomas

Jeff stats...
1a, 2PIM, +0
1a, 2PIM, +0
3a, +1

Season Totals:
Bethel 4-2-0 (overall)
Bethel 0-2-0 (conference)
JB 2g 9a = 11 points, 6PIM, +7

What I'm Reading - Fiction

Blogging content has been hard to come by recently. I work in retail and our biggest financial day of the year is Friday. Plus I have been really busy settling into our new home and trying to work something out to sell or rent the old one. In my free time I have been playing with the kids and watching sports on TV (the cable was live at the house we moved into - sweet!).

The majority of my free time this week has been spent reading a great piece of fiction by Vince Flynn called "Term Limits." Flynn is a native Minnesotan who writes political thrillers with many Minnesota references. Term Limits has been one of those books that have so many twists and turns that you have to keep reading just to find out what will happen next. Every year I get into a groove where I consume the fictional works of an author for a month or two. Last year it was Dan Brown, and this year I think Vince Flynn is my man.

Sampling and Product Evangelism

Today as I filled the same dairy end-cap again and again with butter, eggs, and coffee flavoring I was amazed at the persistence of the older woman sampling some vegetables nearby. This lady had a previously prepared speak that she gave to each guest visiting her table. I couldn't believe how she continued unleashing her sales pitch even when the majority of people completely ignored her.

Then I thought of the Christians whose form of evangelism is similar to this lady's sampling speech. We have all seen or met a Christian who keeps on preaching to each person in ear shot, whether they care or not.

Listening to the sampling woman made me feel both embarrassed and sad for her. I felt anxious for the experience of our guests. It is the same for me with evangelism; I don't want to pepper people with polemical pleas for Jesus. True, the woman sold some product (just like some street corner preachers will win converts) but I wonder if it is really the right approach?

Leading From a Cave

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to speak to a group of students in Bethel University's "Foundational Leadership Program." My sister is the coordinator and she invited me to kick-off their fall session of speakers. The topic I was given was faith and perseverance.

I focused the talk on encouraging leaders to remain faithful to God and to persevere through 'cave moments' in their leadership. I talked about how both David and Joseph had keep going and push through some very tough moments in their lives before they were able to accomplish the things God had prepared for them.

The fact is that we will all, in leadership and in life, face moments where life is dark, cold, disorienting, and lonely. There will be times we don't know where we are going or where we have come from. And it is in those times we have to cling to the promises of God and to draw our strength from the hope that God is preparing us for something greater. I borrowed a line from a pastor …

Where is the Customer Service Love?

I just got off the phone with a 1 hour 20 minute call to Charter Communications trying to resolve a $20 transfer fee on my account. I am shocked they would provide such a runaround over twenty bucks. It doesn't leave a great taste in my mouth (although 2 of the 4 people I spoke with were actually wonderful). Alas, at least my internet is back! I have tons to update.

Pack It Up and Ship It Out

As you may have read, we are moving to Northfield, MN. The Lord has done some wonderful things in orchestrating our move and without the generosity of our in-laws this move would not be possible. We are very grateful for what we have been given. Truly we are blessed.

It is weird packing up tonight. All week we have been getting boxes ready, but tonight the house is starting to look more and more empty. That feels strange. It is kind of nostalgic and makes me miss my college roommates. I always enjoyed the time during finals when you were packing up your stuff and spending longer than normal just being with your friends.

There are some really great people I will miss spending regular time with after the move. But God is faithful and he has made a way for us, so I know that he will care for us as we move forward and he will care for those we leave behind.

Identifying Your Values and Voting with Your Conscience

Some men on the radio were discussing faith and politics, paying specific attention to the issue of how evangelicals are viewing Mitt Romney as a Presidential candidate due to his Mormon beliefs, when one of them said something I thought was profound. To heavily paraphrase,

The absence of a strong Christian candidate whose beliefs line up as perfectly as possibly with the 'conservative evangelical right' has forced many evangelicals into the difficult position of actually having to identify their own core beliefs and voting for a candidate who they believe will most closely act in a way that satisfies their religious moral conscience.

I hope you catch the significance and weight of that quote. What the pundit is saying is that evangelicals can no longer simply vote for the person James Dobson or some other national Christian spokesperson endorses. There is no strong Christian republican candidate who represents ALL of the major evangelical issues and this makes many people u…

Something Else to Think About

"In what ways am I buying into a system of oppression where I get more and more at the expense of someone else?" - Steve Wiens

Something to Think About

"There is a time when everything sad comes untrue." - JRR Tolkien

Living to Hear God's Voice

I have heard many people ask this question - and I have asked it myself many times - why doesn't God speak to me more clearly? Have you ever wondered that? Have you ever been in a position where it seemed like everything would be so much easier if God would just speak more clearly? Most people have.

But before we question God's speaking to us, maybe we need to turn around and ask ourselves, "Does my life look like I want to hear the voice of God?" I would offer that many times we don't hear God clearly because the way we live plugs our ears or cuts us of from the very source of the sound we say we so desperately want to hear.

First Time Dropping the Kids Off at Preschool

It is a weird feeling to have to rely on your 4 and 3 year old children for guidance. Today is my day off so I was lucky enough to get a chance to drop the kids off at preschool today; usually Stephanie gets that privilege. I didn't have any idea what the routine was but the kids did.

They showed me where to park, what door to enter, where their coats and backpacks go, where they wash their hands, and where they find their name tags. I was just along for the ride and cherishing ever moment of it. An especially touching moment was watching my kids play and interact with others kids from my hiding spot in the periphery of the room. I can't believe how big they are getting!

The Provision of the Lord

God has been showing up in some awesome ways over the last couple weeks. Here is one example:

Last week Stephanie told me that she gave $100 to our church for an offering. No problem. Until we found out that we needed to replace the front brake pads and rotors on our van. The price we were quoted was $250.

A couple days later my mom calls to tell me that a woman from the greenhouse where I worked this summer had called her house and left a message informing me that a check I was owed was never processed and that she would be mailing me a new one. The amount was around $125. Add to that a paycheck that was due Stephanie and the total was almost exactly - $250!

How amazing is the goodness of Jesus!

God's Big Perspective and My Little One

I spent the majority of my time at work last Sunday-Tuesday organizing candy. Due to Halloween and the large amount of candy my store was selling it was necessary to have a person watching over the candy area and thinking strategically about what candy should go where, what candy needed to be move aside, what candy needed to be replaced, and so on. Working under my leadership was a number of high school kids who wanted nothing more challenging than just throwing the bags onto an overflowing, unorganized pile.

Yesterday the pastor at the church we attended spoke, at one point, of how God is over all things and has a perspective that humans do not. He talked about how as humans we can only see a short distance in front of us, on our present, and backwards into the past. But God has a different perspective. He sees ahead, now, behind, next to, and all around us. God sees how different, unrelated (to the human eye) circumstances can all work together to accomplish his purposes.

Too oft…

Happy Halloween (late)


Mr. Not-Handyman

I have probably mentioned before that I am ridiculously mechanically disinclined. The Lord has given me many gifts, but working on anything that would require me to use GoJo on my hands is not one of them.

For the last few weeks I have been avoiding changing the battery in my car by praying before each key turn. Since Thursday, I have had to push start my 5-speed because the battery is completely drained. So, in an effort to impress my wife and make life easier, I went outside tonight and put in the new battery; thirty minutes later I was done.

Now I have to replace two headlights in my van. Dang. I really hate working on cars. But, as the man of the house, I gotta do it.

From Mars Hill (WA & MI)

Mars Hill Church in Seattle has a new look to their website that I love. Check it out.

Also, here is a short article on Mars Hill and there ability to reach young men in Seattle: Mars Hill makes faith cool for 20-somethings (HT: Steve McCoy)

What's up with Rob Bell inviting Doug Pagitt to speak at his church? Bummer. Why bummer? Listen to the audio linked in this post.

Bostrom, Balvin help Bethel roll over UMN Crookston

Bostrom, Balvin help Bethel roll over UMN Crookston

JB stats = 1g, 3a, 2PIM, +4

Season Totals:
Bethel 2-0
JB 2g 4a = 6 points

Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend this game. I am really going to miss watching Jeff play when he graduates so I am going to try and catch as many games as possible this year.

Bethel Hockey is Back!

Bethel hockey started again tonight with the Royals defeating the U of M Crookston team 4-0.

JB stats = 1g, 1a, +2

Season Totals:
Bethel 1-0
JB 1g 1a = 2 points

In four years playing at Bethel I never was on the winning end of a shut-out. This year the team started the season with one. Great game to watch. Bethel was all over them most of the night, except the last 8-10 minutes when the quality of Bethel's play deteriorated to match that of Crookston.

My brother Jeff played great, and had a really skilled shorthanded breakaway goal to go along with an assist. His best play of the night however was a breakaway that he missed. He put an amazing move on the goalie that left the tender's jock strap in the stands. But unfortunately he shot the puck wide of the empty goal.

I brought the three kids and was chasing them around while I watched. An older woman commented how brave I was to bring all the kids. I replied that I was a just a devoted brother and fan. When she found out #1…