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Showing posts from March, 2008

Baseball is Back

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Minnesota Twins home opener tomorrow. Stephanie and I are bringing the two older kids. Can't wait. It should be a lot of fun!

Have You used Hotwire?

Stephanie and I are planning a trip to the DC area in may for The Whiteboard Sessions conference being put on by my friend Ben Arment. Can't wait for the time away and meeting some new friends out there!

Right now we're trying to line-up hotels and flights out there. Man this stuff is expensive. Stephanie wants to book now, I think if we wait long enough the rates on Hotwire.com will keep coming down. What is your experience with this? Now or later?

*If you have an frequent flyer miles you want to transfer let us know! We'd be happy to work out some compensation. :)

Minnesotan Priase

From the singing lips of my kids this morning....

"Pharaoh, Pharaoh, oh baby let my people go, uff-dah...yah sure ya betch ya!"

They are disturbingly Minnesotan.

Amazed People Still Go to Church

Justin Buzzard keeps posting great quotes. Here is another,Martyn Llyod Jones reporting after his six months away from preaching due to illness, in which he simply attended church services:"My general impression is that most of our services are terribly depressing! I am amazed people still go to church; most who go are female and over the age of forty. The note missing is 'joy in the Holy Ghost'...There is no life, no power! We of all people ought to have it. Joy and power are intimately related. One without the other is spurious."

Speaking Opportunities

God is good. He knows I'm a preacher without a pulpit and lately he's bringing some really cool opportunities my way.
Tonight I was able to share with a group of seminary students.

Tomorrow I'll be speaking to a group of students in Minneapolis.

Sunday I'll be partnering with my beautiful wife to teach some kids at Sunday School.

Then, there is also something pretty cool brewing up for late April.Anytime I get a chance to speak and use my teaching gifts I get pumped! Thank you Jesus for your graciousness in my life.

Pray for Your Pastor

Shared these stats last night with the Bethel Seminary students. I've posted them here before but it is worth the reminder to post again. Pray for your pastor.
At the 2006 Reform and Resurge Conference in Seattle, Pastor Darrin Patrick from The Journey in Saint Louis (www.journeyon.net) spoke frankly of the burden that pastoral ministry is. He presented the following statistics, which he gathered from such organizations as Barna (www.barna.org), Maranatha Life (www.maranathalife.com) and Focus on the Family (www.family.org). (HT: The Resurgence)
PastorsFifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of maki…

Kern Dinner and Tips to Avoid Moral Failures

Had a great dinner tonight at Bethel Seminary with Stephanie and a group of students. Six years ago I was the recipient of a gracious scholarship from the Kern Foundation which covered all my seminary tuition for three years. This evening I was invited back, along with other alumni, for a time to eat and reconnect with other Kern Scholars. Besides seeing old friends, I was given the opportunity to co-keynote the event and share where God has lead me since graduating seminary.

While it was difficult to publicly share about the trials Stephanie and I have faced, it was very rewarding to be given the chance to possibly help save others from the pain we've gone through. The goal of my talk was to give the Kern Scholars a list of things they can do to protect themselves from sin and the failures that too many pastors end up committing. I hope to adapt the talk into an article in the near future. I'll post it all when it is written. Until then, here is a summary of the tips...…

Happy Easter 2008!

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Doing Relationships God's Way pt. 2

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In part 1 of this article I suggested 4 things a person can do to avoid the suffering and disappointment so many single people experience while dating. Those four things were: 1. Get Right with God
2. Focus on Friendship First
3. Be Satisfied with Singleness
4. Go in a GroupNow in part 2 I would like to offer an additional 5 tips for doing relationships God’s way.
Read more...

A Gentle Rebuke in Love

Psalm 141: 5Let a righteous [woman] strike me—it is a kindness; let [her] rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.

Proverbs 13:1A wise [husband] hears his [wife's] instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

This past week Stephanie has been teaching everyday and I've been home with the kids. Last night Stephanie let me know it was obvious the kids were getting way too much screen time (TV, computer) and she asked me to cut it back in the future. It was a gentle rebuke and a proper one.

Thanks babe.

Put in Some Prayer

Helpful reminder from Charles Spurgeon and C.J. Mahaney...
I came across a quote by Mr. Spurgeon recently where he said, “I always feel it well just to put in a few words of prayer between everything I do.” That is seriously helpful counsel, because too often I don’t put in just a few words of prayer. I move from one meeting to the next meeting, and cares are accumulating in my soul because I am not stopping at a certain point to “put in a few words of prayer.” Read more...

The Surprising, Steering Hand of God in Our Lives

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For more months than I can count Stephanie and I have been wondering what God has in store for our future. We have experienced the hand of God working for our good the entire time, but there are still a couple decisions that we have been continually praying for guidance over.

I read this quote on Justin Buzzard's blog this morning and it is strikingly similar to my own experience of God's guiding in my life.
"As I review God's steering of my life, one thing that stands out is the element of surprise at all the crucial points. I was never expecting what came; I was always projecting something else."
-J.I. PackerI know some of you who read this blog are also seeking the guidance of the Lord in some crucial things right now. I hope this quote inspiring you to seek the surprise, and allow less anxiety over your own finite projections.

Happy Birthday Dad

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I had Stephanie take this picture of my hands a few weeks ago after I had finished changing out some headlights in our vehicles. The picture is proof that I actually do, on the rare occasion, get my hands filthy dirty. More than that, however, this picture represents a memory central to my time as a child.

My dad is, and always has been, a semi-truck driver. For as long as I can remember he has owned and serviced his own trucks. Growing up we lived on a 5 acre hobby farm that provided the space for a large heated garage where my dad would spend time most days greasing, wrenching, changing oil, and loving on his 'babies' that brought in the funds for all my siblings and my exploits. And at the end of all those hard, dirty days, my dad would come into our house and scrub his black hands clean in the laundry room tub.

From time to time I would help him out in the shop, holding something or handing him tools. Some days my time in the shop was stressful, but more often than not…

Happy Birthday Babe!

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Today is my bride's birthday! What a babe! Stephanie is a wonderful wife and mother who is becoming an extremely strong Christian woman. I'm told by people all the time how lucky I am to be with her because I'm way out of my league. Happy birthday babe!

Updated Family Photos

I haven't updated any family photos on Flickr for quite a while. Until today. Check out all the new ones here: Balvin Family Photos.

How Young is Too Young to Preach?

Check out this video on a couple of child preachers. How do you feel about it? How do you feel about what the 'Religion Professor' says at the end?

Andrew, the Hitter

What do I do? My son Andrew has a serious hitting problem. He doesn't punch or slap, but whenever he gets a hockey stick, bat or some other type of long skinny foreign object in his hands his brother and sister have to run for the hills. (Poor Izzy is yelling for help as I type this; for some reason she gets the brunt of the attacks.) I don't remember either of the other two kids being this way. Any advice on how to approach this?

God Unknown and Known

"His essence, indeed, is incomprehensible, utterly transcending all human thought; but on each of his works his glory is engraven in characters so bright, so distinct, and so illustrious, that none, however dull and illiterate, can plead ignorance as their excuse." - John Calvin, Institutes of Religion, 1:51 (1.5.1) as quoted in R.C. Sproul, Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology, pg. 35

Keller on Selecting a Leader

A leadership insight from the Buzzard Blog...
Most churches make the mistake of selecting as leaders the confident, the competent, and the succesful. But what you most need in a leader is someone who has been broken by the knowledge of his or her sin, and even greater knowledge of Jesus' costly grace. - Tim Keller from the latest issue of World, under the "Books" section, original source unknown

Bethel University - Perseverance

The Purpose of God in the Life of Paul

Have you ever put Scripture together in this way....Ponder the conversion of Paul, the sovereignty of Christ, and what Paul's sins have to do with your salvation. Paul said that God “set me apart before I was born,” and then on the Damascus road “called me by his grace” (Galatians 1:15). This means that between Paul's birth and his call on the Damascus road he was an already-chosen but not-yet-called instrument of God (Acts 9:15; 22:14). This means that Paul was beating and imprisoning and murdering Christians as a God-chosen, soon-to-be-made-Christian missionary. Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him. (Acts 22:19-20) The call on the Damascus road was apocalyptic for Paul. It was not a still small voice. As I was on my way and drew near to …

White Box in the Mail!

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I didn't blog this last week because I was so stinking sick, but I did have a bright spot in one of my days when a white box showed up on my porch. Inside the box where some gifts from a blogging friend of mine who is organizing what I am sure is going to be an amazing one-day conference called The Whiteboard Sessions in May. I can't wait to get away with my wife and finally meet Ben in person. Plus, the conference line-up is sweet!

Don't Put Strawberries and Cream on Your Fishing Hook

There is a continual debate about how churches should structure their church services and how Christians should evangelize those who don't know Jesus. How about this,
“I often went fishing up in Maine during the summer. Personally, I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: ‘Wouldn't you like to have that?’ Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?” - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleSounds to me a lot like this,
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) th…

My Daily Challenge

“Let go of what you think life should be so you can experience the life you have.” - Rhonda Britten, founder of the Fearless Living Institute

Parents Have No Constitutional Right to Homeschool

I am rarely the type of person to get worked up over government's repeated attempt to marginalize Christians. However, as a parent of three kids getting to school age, this is a big deal. California courts have ruled that parents have no constitutional right to homeschool their kids. In other words, the government knows what is best for kids, not parents.
Like a bolt from the blue, a California appeals court has ruled that the state's parents have no constitutional right to homeschool their own children. In a flash, a child welfare case that no one had noticed has become a flash point of controversy in the nation. Will homeschooling be ruled illegal in California? Here is how The San Francisco Chronicle introduced the story: Why am I not surprised this comes out of California? You can read more here...

Finding Nemo Show

Had a great time with the family on Thursday night at the "Finding Nemo" On Ice Show. We forgot cash for the parking ramp so I had to drop off Stephanie and the kids and make a mad dash to get some. Luckily I know where pretty much any Super America is within 5 miles of where I am, so I made it back just in time for the beginning of the show.

My highlight of the night came during the intermission. The kids were really bummed because we couldn't afford any toys or popcorn at the show. As we where sitting down a bag of popcorn was passed down the row our way. When I tried passing it on to the guy next to me I was told it was for the guy in glasses (which was me!).

Turns out a friend some rows up behind us had bought it for us from a vendor without even knowing our situation. It was a real blessing to our family. It was also very convicting because I often struggle with generosity and I was reminded that I need to be more active in blessing others despite my own fear…

The Kidnapping of Jesus

This is pretty funny. Listen to the demands of the ransom note....



(HT: Steve McCoy)

Stott on the Cross

Great quote on the cross from Tim Keller's book The Reason for God (p. 195),
The essence of sin is we human beings substituting ourselves for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for us. We...put ourselves where only God deserves to be; God...puts himself where we deserve to be.

- John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 160

Where I've Been

I got hit with a nasty bug that had me down and out for about 5 days. It was pretty rough working everyday while trying to squeeze in as much sleep as possible but I made it through.

Stephanie wanted me to call in sick to work a couple times but I just don't have it in me. I feel too much responsibility to my team, my peers and my store. Plus, there were some others things going on that I wanted to be apart of and I believe that if you're too sick to work you're too sick to do anything else, so I had no choice but to work.

Sunday night was the worst. I had the closing shift and I actually had to call and ask Stephanie to come pick me up at 9:00pm. She was amazing and she came with no complaint. I married a real good woman!