Showing posts from January, 2008

4 Basics of Christian Relationships

Here is a short list of the beliefs that I believe should provide a foundation for how a Christ-following man/woman looks at relationships in their life.

4 Basics of Christian Relationships

1. God is a triune God who enjoys relationship within himself and he invites the men and women he creates to enjoy relationships with himself and with one another

2. Men and woman are to treat one another as brothers and sisters in the family of Jesus Christ

3. God is a good God who created sex, and the entire sexual experience, for multiple, wonderful purposes and reserved it exclusively for the marriage relationship

4. Before entering into an exclusive, committed relationship with someone of the opposite gender we should know/love Jesus and know/love ourselves

Passive-Aggressive Leadership

One area of my leadership (and life in general) that I am working to develop is the ability to confront issues with other people head on instead of taking out my frustration and anger in a passive-aggressive way. If you're not familiar with the concept of being passive-aggressive let me illustrate with some examples...
When an employee is not performing and meeting expectations, instead of sitting down and discussing it, you simply schedule him less hours.When a friendship is not going the way you anticipated it to, instead of getting together for coffee and sharing honest feelings, you simply stop calling him.When you don't think your spouse is holding up their end of the cleaning bargain, instead of talking it through, you simply leave the dirty wine glasses on the counter and silently count the days until they get washed.As you read the example above you might be tempted to think, "How childish is that behavior?," and you'd be right. It is childish. It remind…

Driscoll, Election, My Son, and a Hockey Game

I heard Driscoll give an example demonstrating how the doctrine of election shows God to be a loving Father. While listening to Driscoll I thought of an example from my own life.

A few weeks ago I took my three kids to my little brother's hockey game. My one year old Andrew loves to run around and explore so while we were at the game it was a constant challenge to watch over him. I wanted him to have fun but I also know the dangers of letting a small child crawl up and down steps, bleachers and railings. More than once I sat Andrew down and told him what I expected from him but he kept getting out of his seat and doing the things that ultimately would wound him.

Andrew knew my expectations but he continued to choose his own way despite the fact that it would bring pain. Sound familiar? More than once I spoke to Andrew and told him to stop, to turn around and to come back to me. That is repentance. I pursued him and called him to repent. But he wouldn't. Just like God …

Something I'll Bet You Didn't Know About Me

When I get home from work I like to take off my dress shirt and put on a zip up fleece jacket and my slippers - which either makes me a grandfather or Mr. Rogers!

7 Tips for Dating with Integrity

Here are a few tips on how to date with integrity. I'll be sharing these with a group of high school students on Saturday. These are definitely not all the things I did in high school, nor do they flow with the currents of culture, but they are the type of things I will be looking for in my kid's dating relationships.

1. Get Right with God
All of your relationships need to be based on your relationship with Jesus Christ. He must be your first and greatest love above all others. If you are not pursing Jesus and the live he invites you to, then you shouldn't be pursing anyone else either.
2. Focus on Friendship First
Lasting relationships begin as great friendships. Friendship provides the context for getting to know another person at their core, without all the pretense and pretending that can occur in a dating relationship. Dating relationships should flow naturally out of friendships as you find a man/woman who had a heart and mind like yours.
3. Go in a Group
Group ac…

Driscoll Video on Predestination

A friend of mine who had been riding the Armenian/Calvinist fence recently watched this message and sent me a text message that read, "I am a total calvvy now!" Funny stuff. This is a great presentation on the doctrine of predestination. It is about an hour long.

If you have ever wondered exactly what most Calvinist's believe about how people are saved you should watch this. It is especially convincing when Driscoll talks about the state humans are in because of sin and our inability to choose God because our sinfulness.

Watch the video or down below.

The Whiteboard Sessions

It's official. I have requested the time off and Stephanie has me registered for the Whiteboard Sessions. Now we need to book airplane tickets and a hotel. If you have an frequent flyer miles you want to sell or donate please let me know. I'm pumped for may! Should be awesome. Check out the website for more info.

Your Hair Will Grow Back

Tonight while I was telling the kids the story of Samson before bed my mind came to rest on this verse, "22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved." I didn't know exactly what the verse said but the thought occurred to me that there must have been some amount of time that passed between when Samson was captured by the Philistines and when he gave his live to destroy the house he was shackled in.

I wondered what that time was like. We read in Judges 16 that when Samson was captured his eyes were gouged out leaving him blind. We also read that the Philistines would have Samson brought before them for some kind of entertainment. It must have been a humiliating time for the once proud man. Not being able to see and not being able to defend himself against such embarrassment could have driven Samson mad. He could have denied God and cursed God for laving him in such a state. But I don't think he did.

The verse above tells the tale. Ove…

The Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating

Being that I'm married I don't lose much sleepy worrying about with whether or not God would have me 'dating.' But in the case that some of the people who may read this blog are single, and since I'll be talking on Saturday with some teenagers who have the issue of dating dead center in their lives, I thought I would share something I found. This list comes from Joshua Harris' book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye."Dating leads to intimacy, but not necessarily to commitment.Dating tends to skip the 'friendship' stage of a relationship.Dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love.Dating often isolates a couple from other vital relationships.Dating distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future.Dating can cause discontentment with God's gift of singleness.Dating creates an artificial environment for evaluating someone's character.

Andrew Whisperer

Friday night Stephanie and I enjoyed watching the show Dog Whisperer. The show is about a man who goes into peoples' homes and helps them learn how to manage their dogs. Some of the cases we saw were pretty incredible. One of the most amazing transformations was a pit bull who obsessively chased and killed whatever small animals had the poor fortunate of crossing his path. By the end of the show the Dog Whisperer was able to get the pit bull to lay on its side while a rabbit was placed on the dog's head. Amazing.

Coincidently, Friday night Stephanie and I began the journey of breaking Andrew from his habit of sleeping next to us. Most nights he goes down in his crib and then joins us in our bed at some point during the night when he wakes up. However, when Andrew woke up Friday I decided to try and make him stay in his crib. Forty-five minutes of crying later he was at Stephanie's side. Then on Saturday Andrew decided he didn't want to go to bed when Stephanie …

Sick Saturday and Sunday

Some nasty virus has taken our entire household captive this weekend. It started with Andrew and has worked its evil way through each of us, hitting Stephanie the hardest right now. It sucks because we had big plans this weekend that we have had to cancel. Stephanie and I were supposed to go snow tubing for a friend's 30th birthday yesterday (my gracious wife encouraged me to attend without her). Today we had tickets for Twins Fest but with everyone feeling so crumby we chose to spend the day laying around instead. It was the right choice but it is still a bummer to have to miss out on a fun family day. Thankfully this is my weekend off so I'm able to be around to help Stephanie.

The Relationship Between Listening and Acting

For the past couple years Stephanie and I have been in a place of waiting, anticipating and questioning what God has for us in the future. Recently that feeling has been hitting Stephanie the hardest as she wonders about where God is calling her vocationally. It seems like we are in this weird place where every little thing gets shoved through a filter labeled "Is God trying to tell me something?"

Don't get me wrong, I want to live listening to the Spirit and with an openness to follow, but I'm kind of getting to a point where I just want to take action and trust that God is in control and that he will work out all my decisions for my good. Otherwise I'm spending too much mental and emotional energy chasing down every dust ball that gets pushed along the front of my mind.

It is a delicate balance between wanting to please God and go where he leads and sitting around doing nothing and being perplexed under the guise of faithfulness.

One of Those Things I Always Need to Hear

"You can be so interested in great theological and intellectual and philosophical problems that you tend to forget that you are going to die." -Martin Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, p. 193.(HT: Desiring God blog)

10 (or 11) Pieces of Advice on Goal Setting

A couple weeks ago I set some goals for myself in 2008, maybe you did to. Here are 10 steps Mark Batterson posted about goal writing.

#1 Start with Prayer
#2 Check Your Motives
#3 Get Ideas From Others
#4 Think in Categories
#5 Be Specific
#6 Write Them Down
#7 Include Others
#8 Celebrate Along the Way
#9 Think Big
#10 Keep Dreaming

It's a great list and I have a goal of using it to refine my goal list. If I could I would add one more step:

#11 Make Things Measurable

I am the type of person who is motivated by progression and completion. I don't want to make goals just so I can check them off the list, but if my goals are not measurable I will most likely forget them or become discouraged and forget them.

Inspiration, Internalization, Imitation, and Impact

I read these equations at Steven Furtick's blog today. I think they provide a helpful and useful framework for thinking about how to use the creativity and work of others in our own lives and ministries.

Inspiration without Internalization=Imitation
Inspiration + Internalization=Impact

You can read his whole post for more context.

Trusting God and Trudging Forward

The older I get the more I realize how much fear paralyzes us and prevents us from moving forward. This week I had to face some personal challenges at work head-on and in each instance I've walked away kicking myself for spending emotional energy worrying about it before hand. The conversations I needed to have went smoothly and respectfully. It turns out all the drama I anticipated was in my imagination.*

In his Letter to the Philippians Paul writes that we should be 'anxious about nothing.' In Matthew Jesus teaches us to not 'be anxious about tomorrow.'

So...what are you anxious about? Be strong in the face of your future. Don't let imaginative fear paralyze you. Move forward with the confidence that Jesus loves you and desires what is best for you. Trust him and trudge on in the face of whatever it is you are facing.

* Sometimes facing conflict is physically unavoidable. Here's some good advice from Gary Lamb on How to Handle Conflict.

Update on My Brother's Knee

Thanks for the prayers! Jeff has seen a couple doctors and they are pretty sure he damaged the ACL, but, amazingly it sounds like it is not uncommon for people to keep playing with this kind of injury. Jeff is encouraged that he'll be able to finish off his senior year and he'll be looking into surgery in the off season. Thanks again for the prayers.

Speaking to Guys About Girls

Pretty excited about speaking next weekend to a group of teenage guys about "The Mysteries of Girls" and "Dating w/ Integrity." I have never met a guy, no matter what his level of faith, that hasn't been affected at some level with the messages our society propagates regarding the value and purpose of woman. I am hoping to inspire the guys, as followers of Jesus, to hold woman in high regard and to treat them as people rather than challenges to win, trophies to display or products to be consumed.

Prayer Request

Would you please say a prayer for my brother Jeff? He was hit in his hockey game tonight and thinks he might have torn his ACL. This would be a season ending, college career ending injury. He is planning to have an MRI tomorrow. Please pray for nothing more than a sprain.


Before getting hurt he had 2 goals and 2 assists....breaking 100 points for his college career....

Religions Saves series at Mars Hill Church

I'm really enjoying Mark Driscoll's current preaching series "Religions Saves and Nine Other Misconceptions." Mars Hill Church did a a great idea. A few months ago they set up a website where people could ask questions that they wanted Driscoll to preach about. Then other people could vote on which questions they liked best. In December they closed the voting and choose the 9 most popular questions. You can check out the questions here.

Mars Hill is using technology in some neat ways. Besides posting sermons on MySpace and YouTube they are now allowing people to text message question during the late Sunday service. Then, after the service, Driscoll spends about 20 minutes answering the questions off the cuff. This is a great way to involve the people in the congregation to interact with the content of the sermon.

Leadership Lessons: The Challenge of Asserting Yourself

I love my job. Most days. One of the hardest parts of my job is leading people who have been in a position for a long time. With the way my company runs things people in my position come and go around every 18 months. However, many times the people we manage have been in position for many years.

This is a huge leadership challenge, especially as a 28 year old working with 35-50 year olds. It has been difficult for me to lead when I am challenged back or when I'm told me idea is wrong. Sometimes when I approach individuals I'm told not to worry about it, that they've got it, and I'm kind of left standing there like, "Ah...ok?"

A big learning for me right now is how to lead people who don't just follow. Does that make sense? I have to earn the right to lead people. Coming in and just barking orders is a very bad idea. And yet I am their boss, so I have to pick the right times to assert myself whether or not that assertion is received positively. I…

Brother's Night Out

I just wrote about how cool it is to watch my kids all grow up and bond with one another. I finished with a sentence anticipating things getting even better in the future. I can write this because of the happiness and relationship I have with my own siblings. We've all done our own thing at times, but the more time goes by the stronger our ties and the more fun we have together.

Last night is a great example. My very sneaky wife got my brothers and I tickets to a MN Wild hockey game for Christmas and last night we all headed down to St. Paul to watch the game (my brother-in-law also came). We had a great time eating, laughing, talking and watching the game. My two younger brothers live together so they see a lot of one another but with me being married and living a hour away I don't get to see as much of those guys as I'd like. It was a ton of fun to be together and watch the sport we all love. It's a great feeling to know that someone will always have your back…

Three of a Kind

I've really been enjoying my three kids today. This afternoon we stopped by Bethel Seminary to visit some friends and I noticed (maybe for the first time) how amusing it is to watch all three kids walking around and playing together.

When we first arrived Andrew was nervous around the new people but his older brother Jacob took his hand and showed him how to wave and led him over to give a couple people fives. Very cute. Later we all meandered down to the gym and the kids rolled basketballs around together. At one point I was talking with someone when all of a sudden I realized Izzy and Andrew were sneaking away to do some exploring up a dark stairwell. Now we're all home and Jacob and Izzy are playing with there toys together and reenacting scenes from Dora the Explorer.

Having three kids in three years has been incredibly crazy, but it has also been amazingly touching and quite fun. I am sure there is much more fun to be had as the kids get older. I'm looking forwa…

I Think I Need This

Wow. I want one. Bad.

Helping Out

It is interesting how blogging has changed the way people receive and disseminate information. It is also interesting to see how people are using their blogs to generate fund raising. I have seen a guy finance a large chunk of money for a re-plant of his church. I've also read about a guy raising money to buy his friend a much needed new minivan. I have yet to enter into the fray - until now.

There is a church in South Carolina that will be shutting its doors at the end of the month if they don't raise $10,000 dollars by tomorrow. You can read the whole story at their pastor Casey Ross' blog. Maybe just glance it over and see if anything jumps in your heart.

There is a special website with a video from the pastor and a place to give online. Click here.

Daily Update From the Balvin Zoo

Stephanie is back in the classroom today, and I have the day off, so I've been living the stay at home dad life. It is a good idea for the working father to spend a day, every once in a while, doing what the stay at home mother does every day. You gain a clearer perspective and bigger appreciation for your better half's life that is easy to overlook otherwise.

Life has gone relatively smoothly today at the Balvin Zoo. The animals have enjoyed cartoons, fried potatoes and oranges for breakfast, playing w/ toys, a new Bible board game, wrestling, coloring books, a trip to Cub Foods for butter and salami, egg salad sandwiches for lunch, Snow White, fresh baked chocolate cookies for a snack, and some quiet time in their rooms.

The little monkey is sleeping right now. It is amazing what a difference being down just one animal can do to the mood of the house.

Stephanie, you are a rock star for being the innkeeper each day. I know you think the kids are all about Daddy but that i…

Blast From the Past

Tonight I watched the new edition of American Gladiators. It was a total blast from the past and I loved it. I used to watch that show all the time as a kid. Then my brothers and I would recreate the events in our living room; watching the show I watched as a boy, with my own boy now, was a pretty cool feeling. Love all the Gladiator names like: Crush, Wolf, Fury, Justice, and Mayhem.

PS- One of the commercials during the Gladiators was for a new show coming out soon called 'Knight Rider.' If the show name doesn't ring a bell here's a hint about why I am pumped to see it: Kit looks just as good now as when the show first came out, maybe even better!

Phun with Photoshop

Stephanie and I had some fun messing around and learning the Adobe Photoshop program today. I have been wanting to add a little 'something' to my blog and I think I'm on track to do that now. It is a spiritual endeavor as well, because my computer is so stinking slow that when I use Photoshop every change bogs the whole thing down. I think I need a Mac....

The Great Invisible Jesus

Each time I read these verses I am amazed trying to imagine what it would have looked like when this happened that day:
28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.How does an angry mob simply lose a person and allow them to "pass through their midst?" Did Jesus go stealth and invisible just slip away? Or, maybe the people were acting so wildly that they didn't even notice what was going on and who was moving past them?

I don't know, but I would love to review the video in heaven some day and see the look on people's faces when they were all standing at the edge of the cliff and they realized, like idiots, that they lost Jesus!

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Today we were listening to a song called "In Christ Alone" and I asked the kids if they knew what 'Christ' means. Quickly, Jacob said, "Jesus." I told him he was right and then Izzy said enthusiastically, "And pizza!"

Christ = Jesus = Pizza

Pretty sure that is not theologically correct but it did give us a good laugh.

The Wonder and Work of a Wife

I'm reading a dramatic biography about Charles Finney, a Christian revivalist in the 1800s. Among the many insightful statements made in the book are two descriptions of Finney's relationship with his wife Lydia. 12 years his younger Lydia was a source of strength and inspiration to Finney during some of the darker moments of his life. The author writes of her (and of any wonderful wife):
She is cherished as a companion, adored by reason of her loveliness; but when the heavy shadows fall, she seems altogether an angel. (pg. 89)After detailing Finney's fear that God was finished using him to do great things, the author recounts Lydia's inspiration word to her husband, "My dear, your best is yet to come" and says,
It may be that here is the high reason for the companionship which he established at Eden; wives and mothers seem to listen best when men in anguish can no longer hear. (pg. 94)
My wife has had some Lydia moments in my life where she has spoken the s…

Note to Self

Too important to ever forget...

Ability will put a microphone in your hand.
Integrity will keep it there.

- Steven Furtick

The Righteousness of Noah

I heard something about Noah the other day that has had me thinking for quite awhile. Most preachers, when they talk about Noah, like to bring up the fact that the Bible says Noah was a righteous man. They then talk about how, because Noah was righteous, he found favor with God and was used to build the ark and keep the human race in existence. Here's the problem: the Bible says Noah was a righteous man after it says he found favor with God, not before.

In fact, in Genesis 6:6 we learn that God saw 'that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.' This includes Noah! Noah was wicked and the intention of his heart was as evil as anyone else's. It WAS NOT because of Noah's righteousness that God choose him to preserve humanity. It was because of God's undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor that Noah was considered righteous.

You and I are desperately in need of God's favo…

Stinkin' LSU

Really bummed that Ohio State is playing so terrible tonight. I can't stand LSU and all the hype they've gotten this year.

Because You Loved Me

When I was laying on the floor waiting for my daughter to fall to sleep tonight I heard the Celine Dion song "Because You Loved Me" and immediately thought that would be a great sermon series. In the series you could highlight all the things that God has done for his people, not because of anything they have done, but because of the great love he has for them. The words of the song sum up in many ways what the Bible teaches God does for his people.

The Danger of Blogging (for Men)

Investor and prankster Yossi Vardi delivers a careful lecture on the dangers of blogging. Specifically, um, for men. (Recorded March 2007 in Monterey, California. Duration: 6:15.)

Daddy Date

One of my 2008 goals is to do more things with my wife and kids that will make memories and deepen our relationships. So this morning I took my three year old daughter Isabelle out for breakfast at the new waffle restaurant in town: Sweet Lou's Waffle Bar. It was very sweet. I helped her pick out a dress and put a headband in her hair. Then she got to ride in Daddy's car. She picked out the table, drank some orange juice and enjoyed strawberries, bananas, whipped cream and a scoop of ice cream. I ate the waffle, which was very good.

I got to tell her how pretty and sweet she is. She told me she likes playing with her dolls and telephones, "A pink phone with the big buttons!" A highlight of the morning was when a man walked by, looked at Izzy and said, "Hey there Toots!" Izzy had the most beautiful smile of bashfulness on her face when she turned and looked at me.

When we left the place I opened all the doors for her and then told her to remember tha…

Is Hell the Absence of God

It is an inescapable fact of life that the people we interact with, the books we read, the things we listen to, and the places we go have dramatic influence in shaping us to be and think one way or another. It is an interesting exercise to chart the development of a person's beliefs, convictions, and questions up against the major people and things that have exerted force, in whatever fashion, on them.

It has always been a challenge for me to learn from others, but not become others, to develop and sort through my own convictions without simply taking on the convictions of others. My own non-exhaustive chronology of outside influences in Christian ministry and thought includes men such as: my parents, my Youth Pastor, Bill Hybels, John Ortberg, John Piper, Greg Boyd, Brian McLaren, Rick Warren, Rob Bell, Rick McKinley, Brian Tome, Ed Young, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler.

Here's an example:

I grew up believing and fearing the existence of hell as a literal state of being. Wher…

Out With the Old

Had the day off from work so I decided to try and make some progress sorting through the piles of boxes in our garage since the move. Motivated by all the Clean House I've been watching lately my goal today was to go through all my old college notebooks and binders. It was a big job!

Two observations:

1. Dang, I kept everything! I had papers, homework assignments, quizzes, and 3 ring binders galore. A personal habit I need to continue developing in 2008 is the ability to throw things away.

Warning: Mom & Dad - DO NOT READ WHAT FOLLOWS!

2. As I scanned through some stuff before tossing it I was stunned at how little I remember. Given any of the tests I took 5 years ago I would fail all of them; which makes college seem like a colossal intellectual bust. I know that college is about developing skills and building a foundation for later in life but for all that tuition I wish that I would have retained more of what I was supposed to be learning.

Questions to Ask Your Kids

I was searching through some old posts I've saved on Blogger today and I came across this one that I want to repost here. It is from Justin Taylor's blog back in September.
Last night during the conversation with John Piper, John MacArthur, and me, Piper mentioned how helped he was by the kinds of questions that Rick Gamache (senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship) regularly asks his kids. Rick gave me permission to post them here:
How are your devotions? What is God teaching you? In your own words, what is the gospel? Is there a specific sin you’re aware of that you need my help defeating? Are you more aware of my encouragement or my criticism? What’s daddy most passionate about? Do I act the same at church as I do when I’m at home? Are you aware of my love for you? Is there any way I’ve sinned against you that I’ve not repented of? Do you have any observations for me? How am I doing as a dad? How have Sunday’s sermons impacted you? Does my relationship with mom make you…

Rethinking Small Groups

There was a time in my life where I was thinking and talking about the importance of small groups everyday. I would use borrowed phrases like, "The greatest spiritual transformation in a person's life often comes through the community of a small group." But over time there was a growing disappointment in my spirit that small groups were delivering people what they were promising. There was talking and eating and fun, but there wasn't the deep level of intimacy and spiritual growth that had been dangled in front of people like the proverbial carrot. In some cases, such as ,y own group, small group, instead of helping people, actually provided the fertile round for some terrible seeds to grow.

I'm not completely against small groups now. I still believe that we need other people in our lives. We need a group of people with whom we can 'know and be known, serve and be served, love and be loved, celebrate and be celebrated." But I think church leaders…

A Riddle

Do you like riddles? Here's a good one.

Who would you be if....?

Who would you be if your wife came to your place of business and met a few of your co-workers, and after she left your co-workers told you that she was beautiful.

Who would you be....

You'd be me!

Birthday Highlights

To confirm the rumor: is my birthday. I am 28 years old. Which means my star is beginning to fade and the body is not quite working like it used to. But enough with the negativity.

Tonight when I walked through the door our my house my nose was greeted with the wonderful aroma of ribs cooking in our kitchen. Stephanie made me a birthday meal fit for a king. We had BBQ ribs, tater tots, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, lettuce salad and brownies and ice cream for dessert. It was AMAZING!! I am STUFFED! Thanks babe!!!!!!!!!!!

More amazing than the meal was my birthday gift. Stephanie collaborated with some people who really love me and they are all sending me to Reston, VA for the Whiteboard Conference in May. This is a conference being organized by a blogging friend of mine and the speaker line-up should be incredible. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in this. I am very blessed.

Stephanie you are more than I deserve.

2008 Prediction

My wife asked me before bed if I had any predictions about 2008. I have only one: Dick Clark will not be ringing in the new year in 2009. Dire I know. But there it is.