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Showing posts from April, 2008

Keller on The Gospel

“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to died for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”- Timothy Keller, The Reason For God(New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 181.(HT: Of First Importance)

Should We Stay or Should We Go

I need some advice.

Stephanie and I have been attending a church in Northfield now for about 4 months. We are beginning to make some friends and take small steps into serving at the church. I would describe it as a four year old contemporary Lutheran church plant with an 90s vibe to it. Overall, we feel comfortable there and we think that it is the best church option for us in our community.

One thing I appreciate about the church is how we open a Bible every week and talk about Jesus. I believe the leaders of the church sincerely love Jesus and are doing their best to minister for the glory of God.

However, there are two issues that have sprouted up and begun bothering me. When I think about them I wonder if Stephanie and I can stay and serve at the church with good conscience.

1) Infant baptism: Last Sunday a family had their three children baptized (by sprinkling). The words spoken over them during the rite tweaked my brain. The pastor said that in baptism the stain of sin was was…

Found Out I'm a Prophet

Found out yesterday morning that I am a prophet.

Then yesterday afternoon I went to a gathering of prophets where we all practiced our skills for a couple hours.

Next Sunday us prophets will gather again to compete against some other group of people.

I'll be playing third base and hopefully I can get a base hit or two.

This summer will be my first time playing on a softball team. I am excited. I loved going to softball games when my dad played and I always hoped that my kids would get to come and see me play. I'm playing on a team at my church and I'm looking forward to getting to know some other men and building some relationships.

The Chief Task of Parenting

From an upcoming John Piper book on marriage....
The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation. The children will have years of exposure to what the universe is like before they know there is a universe. They will experience the kind of authority there is in the universe and the kind of justice there is in the universe and the kind of love there is in the universe before they meet the God of authority and justice and love who created and rules of the universe. Children are absorbing from dad his strength and leadership and protection and justice and love; and they are absorbing from mother her care and nurture and warmth and intimacy and justice and love—and, of course, all these overlap.

And all this is happening before the child knows anything about God, but it is profoundly all about God. Will the …

Balvin Kids 10 Commandments

Balvin Kids 10 11 Commandments

1. I will eat all my food and stay in my chair until excused to leave
2. I will not shout in the house
3. I will share and take turns with others
4. I will listen quietly when others are talking
5. I will raise my hand and say excuse me when I want to talk
6. I will not take things without asking first
7. I will not hit
8. I will not argue or talk back when asked to do something
9. I will always tell my parents where I am going when I am outside
10. I will use words that make Jesus happy
11. I will obey the first time I am asked to do something

Forgiveness Quotes

Last week I brought a collection of quotes on forgiveness to our small group where we were discussing the topic. Here are a few...1. "Forgiveness is God's invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. He began by forgiving us. And he invites us all to forgive each other." - Lewis B. Smedes2. "You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well." - Lewis B. Smedes3. "With a little time, and a little more insight, we begin to see both ourselves and our enemies in humbler profiles. We are not really as innocent as we felt when we were first hurt. And we do not usually have a gigantic monster to forgive; we have a weak, needy, and somewhat stupid human being. When you see your enemy and yourself in the weakness and silliness of the humanity you share, you will make the miracle of forgiving a little easi…

10 Tips for Dealing With Conflict

I had the pleasure of having a two very uncomfortable and confrontational conversations with a co-worker last night. This morning I came across an old post from Gary Lamb on dealing with conflict. Here are a few of the tips he shared about how to deal with conflict.

1. Realize Conflict isn't a Bad Thing
2. Run to confrontation
3. Deal with conflict face to face
4. Don’t take it personal
5. Don’t confront while still angry
6. Have another person in the room
7. Say what you have to say
8. When it is over, it is over
9. Take the high road
10. Plan ahead on what you want to communicate (my addition to the list)

Fall from a Low Height Now Or...

A good friend left some great parenting advice in the comment section of another's blog. Speaking about discipline he quoted an unknown source who said that our goal as parents should be that our children "fall from a low height rather than a high height." This means we should not shy away from causing our kids momentary discomfort now if we desire them to be happy, productive, individuals later. The pain and consequences of a person's wrong choices seem to increase proportionately to the increase in their age. That is why it is so crucial to sinful nip behavior in the butt now. Proverbs 22:6.

Biblical Reasoning for Fathers

If A:
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 145 :8)

And B:
Jesus knew the Lord his Father (Luke 3:21-22)

And C:
By the Spirit we are to be like the Son (2 Corinthians 3:18), the image of the Father (Colossians 1:15)

And D:
In Christ the Lord is our Father (Romans 8:15-17)

And E:
As a father I am called to show my children the Father (Ephesians 6:4)

Then F:
I must learn to be gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love

The Importance of Knowing the Scriptures

Last night we had a small group discussion time with some people from our church. It was a pleasant evening and I hope edifying in some way to everyone who was there. The topic was forgiveness. Lots of great discussion, on and off the topic.

One thing that jumped out at me were the multiple times that people would make assertions about things without the support of Scripture. One person went as far as to say that she liked the idea of free will because it feels good to her. We also had some discussion around the idea of people in the churching judging one another's sins. A few people seemed threatened by the idea that Christians would ever judge someone else because they perceived that as hypocrisy. While I agree that Christians shouldn't judge others outside the church, we do have a responsibility to judge those who claim to be inside the community of Christian faith (see 1 Cor. 5:12-13). Another topic we danced around was divorce and the church's attitude and resp…

I Made It

Today is my day off and I didn't check my work email all day. Big win for me. I suck at work/life balance. I should have ice cream to celebrate!

Good night.

The Theological Rubber Hits the Road

Some close friends were hit with hard news on Wednesday afternoon. When Stephanie called me and told me what was happening there was this feeling of unbelief that flooded my mind.

My sister and I like to debate theology and try to persuade one another of different things. There are usually other people in the room and they get so tired of hearing us argue. But both my sister and I know one thing - moments like Wednesday are when the theological rubber hits the road. And although debates are fun and nice, but when tradgey strikes, you had better have landed somewhere on the questions of who God is and what is his involvement in the world. Because with out some kind of foundational understanding it is very easy to question and blame God.

Tomorrow Stephanie will go to be with our friends and just sit like Job's friends did at first, ready to follow the command of Scripture and simply weep with those who weep. May God give everyone the strength they need, and may your great name …

Note to Self & For the Record

What I'm into this week...
- Preachers: Driscoll, Chandler, Keller
- Learning new songs on my new keyboard
- Following the NHL play-offs
- Playing baseball with Jake
- Cuddling with Izzy
- Wrestling and Tickling Andrew
- Hell's Kitchen
- Developing my career
- Quiet TV time with Stephanie
- Coffee outside on my deck in the AM
- Taking pictures of animals around our house

What I'm not into this week...
- Yard/House projects
- The increasing amount of laundry, dishes, and trips to the store as our kids get older
- Constantly fighting battle about boundaries, back talk, and the trampoline across the street
- The NBA play-offs

Finishing the Race

My run yesterday was brutal. Maybe it was because I ate a root bear float and a bag of Doritos 20 minutes before I left the house. Maybe it was because I ran at 2 pm - the hottest part of the day. Maybe it is because I haven't run a distance close to three miles years, literally, since I ran the Twin Cities Marathon in Oct. 2006 (4 hrs. 23 min).

By the end of my course I was ready to walk. I even thought about it a few times, but it is amazing how the body keeps going despite the pain. My legs wanted desperately to stop but my mind just wouldn't let them. I wanted finish strong as possible.

There are lots of things in life that seem like a brutal three miles run at times. Marriage can feel like that. Parenting can feel like that. Work can feel like that. Friendship can feel like that. Faith can feel like that. Ministry can feel like that.

Am I right? I'd bet everyone reading that has experienced breaking points where the finish line looked so far off, and the onl…

Good Monday Morning

- What a beautiful day yesterday! The kids had a blast being outside playing with all the neighborhood kids.
- The people across the street put up a trampoline. Bummer! Jacob is constantly wanting to jump on it.
- My talks at Constance Free Church went great. I had a blast. Talked about Jesus and the physical, spiritual and symbolic themes of bread throughout the Bible. Finished by giving students the chance to meet Jesus and experience communion.
- Went for a run yesterday. I told a guy at work I could run 3 miles in 24 minutes. I haven't run for over a year. I made it in 25:15. And I am paying for it today.

Quick Hits

- Really enjoyed my mom's show Are We There Yet? last night. The puns weren't always that punny but they at least made you smile! Mom, you did great!
- Did a deep clean of my coffee pot yesterday and the payoff is worth it. Tastes great this morning.
- I am really wanting to get a tattoo right now. Something that incorporates my faith and my family.
- Looking forward to sharing with the Constance Free Church students tomorrow morning.
- I'm thinking I need to get back into doing some acting. I also want to learn some more keyboard.
- Saw Marcus Buckingham on Oprah talking about working out of our Strengths. I need to find more ways to do this everyday.
- It is not looking good for my MN Wild.
- Stephanie has applied for some open elementary school teaching positions in Northfield - her and about 1,000 other people. Please join us in prayer for this.
- Booked our flight, hotel and rental car for The Whiteboard Sessions next month. Can't wait!

5 Tips to Inspire Teams

My mom sent me a great short article on inspiring people. The rules for inspiring others listed below can be used in all kinds of leadership settings.
Ron Clark taught elementary school in North Carolina. After watching a program about a New York City school that had a hard time attracting qualified teachers, he decided to head to New York with the goal of teaching in one of its toughest schools. Clark eventually landed a job doing just that—in Harlem. He asked if he could teach a class of fifth-graders who had been performing at a second-grade level. The school's administrators wanted to give him the gifted class, but Clark insisted on the underperforming students. In one school year, Clark's fifth-grade class outperformed the gifted class. [Read more]
Some 'rules' identified in the article include:
1. Raise expectations
2. Explain why before how
3. Encourage celebration and praise
4. Show genuine interest beyond business
5. Be positive and enjoy life

Support Another Through Rummage

A friend is having a rummage sale to help raise money for an oversees adoption his wife and he are working on completeing. There are restrictions about using names on the internet, but you can trust me when I say this is a great opportunity to help another family out.

The info on the rummage sale is below. If you can't attend the sale but are interested in an item, or want to help support my friends, shoot me an email.
Multi-Family Rummage Sale

30+ families have donated items to our rummage sale to help raise money for our adoption.

Saturday, April 26 & Sunday April 27
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Located in West St. Paul, 1 mile south of downtown St. Paul:

988 Seminole Ave.
West St. Paul, MN 55118

Google Map: http://tinyurl.com/68mtcj

We've got something for everyone:

-Baby/Kids clothes (newborn up to teenager) Brands include Gymboree, Children's Place, Baby Gap, Old Navy, Route 55, Arizona, Carter's, lots of clothes still with tags.
-Over 30 kids' winter/fall coats to choos…

Quick Hits

- We've taking care of my in-laws Beagle all week. The wife and kids love it. It is cute to see Jacob try and walk the dog. He's our animal lover for sure; I'm not quite as into it.

- Bought a nice Casio keyboard yesterday for $1. It is really loud when the kids bang on it, but still kind of fun to hear music in the house.

- Living in Northfield is nice. Our house is in a cul-de-sac and since the weather has been nice the kids have been outside playing almost everyday. Makes this parent happy to watch his kids run and play outside.

- Loving the Stanley Cup playoffs. What a sport!

- Took on a couple new roles at work, learning about organic produce and pest control. Strange combination.

- My mom is part of a big musical production in her school district. I don't remember her doing much of this when my siblings and I were growing up. She probably could have if she wasn't so busy giving her life away to us.

- Stephanie blogged about Jacob's use of the word bis…

The Dentist

Stephanie has to go to the dentist for a couple hours today.

Yuk!

I hate going to the dentist. The tools, the noises, the feeling, the smells.

It freaks me out just thinking about it.

Bad Day, Tough Call, Future Hope

A blogging friend posted this yesterday.
The worst day of my life was in 2000 when the doctor told us we could not have children on our own. Devastating. Eight years and two kids later, everything turned out better than we ever thought it would. The second worst day of my life was today. Read more...Very tough stuff. I know from experience though that his family will be taken care of and the work of God will continue on.

Thankful for Friends

Yesterday I had a situation where I needed to get a hold of a friend and ask him to hold me accountable on some stuff. I knew that I would make the wrong choice if I didn't bring someone else into my struggle. Text messaging him and bringing my issue into the light was hard at first but it was completely liberating in the end.

I am so thankful that I have a friend who will love and accept me no matter what. Do you have someone in your life that you can call on with confidence in your time of trial and trouble? I pray you do.

Long Weekend and Lots of the NHL

It has been a long weekend with work. This has left me pretty tired every night and going to sleep early. Not much time to blog.

All my extra time has been spent enjoying the NHL playoffs. Thanks the good Lord above for Versus.

Here are my first round picks:

West
Red Wings
Wild
Sharks Flames
Stars

East
Penguins
Canadians
Capitals
Rangers

Fasting: Why and How

I've had a few fasts in my life. Sometimes I fasted from food, other times I fasted from TV or pop or some other thing. Can't say that fasting is a sure thing to spiritual breakthrough, but it positively is a biblical discipline that I would venture to guess is under practiced in the church today. I could, however, be completely wrong about this because fasting is usually an intensely personal practice. The elders at Mars Hill Church in Seattle are planning a day of fasting and they have posted some Scriptures and thoughts on fasting here.

From the above linked blog....
John Calvin said in his fourth Institutes book that fasting has three objectives: “We use it to weaken or subdue the flesh that it may not act wantonly [lacking restraint], that we may be better prepared for prayers and holy meditations and that it may be a testimony of our self-abasement [humiliation] before God when we wish to confess our guilt before him.”

Shout to the Lord on American Idol

Stephanie told me that last night American Idol closed it's special "Idol Gives Back' episode with the final 8 contestants signing the worship song Shout to the Lord. She was kind of surprised at that, and so was I. There was one one thing that she didn't tell me, and what many people probably didn't even notice, but what Josh Harris did. In the first line of the song they changed the lyrics from "My Jesus, My Savior" to "My Shepard, My Savior." Interesting huh? See more of what Josh has to say about it here or watch the performance here.

God Will Guide Us

I read this quote this morning here. It speaks to Stephanie and my life in a unique way right now...
"I am satisfied that when the Almighty wants me to do, or not to do, a particular thing, he finds a way of letting me know it." -Abraham Lincoln
Why did I title my previous post "Public School Strikes Again"? Because I think that ALL public schools have HORRIBLE teachers and PATHETIC curriculums that put non-college bound students BEHIND for the REST of their lives.

You honestly don't think I'm serious do you....

With a wife and mother in public school education I know the above statement is far from the truth. I actually used that title as more of an inside joke for all my readers who enjoy a certain preacher out there. Sorry if I offended anyone.

Rock on public schools!

Public School Strikes Again

A large part of my work day today was spent reading reviews. I am shocked at the lack of writing skills that were displayed. The spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes were almost overwhelming; sentence structure was nearly non-existent (is that the correct use of a semicolon?). As someone who appreciates good writing it was difficult to continue reading through the errors. I know that going to college is expensive and not always an option for everyone, but one of the great benefits of all the reading and writing you do there is the development of skills which will differentiate you from many others in the workplace.

Introducing Jon Towey

A good friend of mine has started blogging recently. I've been bugging him about it for a long time, and now that he has finally entered the blog-o-sphere I'm digging it. His blog is a collection of political, social, psychological, and personal commentary.

One of his more recent posts is on the idea of happiness. Here's a sampling,
One of my interests and pursuits in life is happiness. This will be another ongoing topic you will find me writing about. It is something that eludes many of us on a regular basis. It requires work, intentionality, and choice. Read more...Welcome Jon Towey. You're now officially on the sidebar Blogroll!

(Man, I'm a nerd!)

I Don Know?

Last night I asked Drew where his bubba (pacifier) was. He looked at me and said, "I don know?" It was really funny, but also kind of shocking to realize that he is at an age now where he can interact on that kind of a level.

New Challenges

It is nice to live in a neighborhood with lots of kids. Every warm day the kids want to run outside and play. The only downside to this is that most of the kids around us are a few years older than ours. Much of the time the neighbor kids are very gracious and kind, including Jacob and Izzy in the things they are doing. But, understandably, there are times when the big kids just want to be left alone. So our newest parenting challenge is learning when to step in, when to bring the kids inside, and figuring out how much about relationships to let them learn on their own. We are also having to talk to them now about checking in with us and letting us know where they are going and what they are going to be doing, and who they are going to be doing it with.

Just one of those days...

Today didn't start very well. Woke up at quarter to seven with my daughter in my face wanting to crawl into bed and bug me. Minutes later the baby's crying in his crib, coming into our bed and rubbing my back and pulling at my ears for ten minutes. I leave to use the bathroom, hop into my daughter's now vacated bed and before I even hit the pillow Andrew has the TV blaring in my bedroom. That wakes up my older boy prematurely and he leaves the room to join the TV arguments in my room. Foolishly I thought I might get a quick snooze with everyone gone, but in no time all the kids are yelling and crying and stomping around. Bring the two younger ones downstairs and its whining for food and juice. By 8 all the kids are downstairs moping around because they can't go outside. Twenty minutes later they are outside, 2 minutes later the daughter and baby are back inside, and outside, and inside, and outside. I'm on the deck and screaming flows through the open wind…

VOTE!

One of my favorite blogs for the last couple years has been Steve McCoy's blog Reformissionary. It is a wonderful collection of insights, quotes, poems, photos, Tim Keller resources, reformed teachings, and battles against those who think have a beer busts up your faith.

Steve has currently made the Final Four of a national campaign called Blogger Madness and now he needs our help to advance into the finals. On his blog he asks,
Please continue to VOTE for my blog. I NEED your vote, if you haven't voted yet. The Southern Seminary students seem to be rallying and trying to team up to beat this blog. You, my wonderful readers, cannot let that happen. You can, with two clicks, put this game away today. SO PLEASE GO VOTE!My campaign promises...(read more)Here's what you can do:Click on the link above and vote for SteveCopy this post and put it on your own blogEmail everyone in your contacts with voting informationWrite on all your Facebook friend's walls asking them …

Family Inventory

Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch is posting a series of introspective questions on his blog for pastors; even if you are not a pastor I think this list will be beneficial to you...
Am I closer to my spouse today than I was a year ago?Have I read God’s word with my family this week?Have I prayed with each member of my family this week?Do my children know they come before the people in the church?Are my children joyfully experiencing Christ at church or do they resent the church?Does my spouse feel close to me spiritually?If my spouse could have me change one thing about me, what would it be? (Why haven’t I changed in this way? What am I going to do about it?)Are we honoring the Sabbath as a family?Do my wife and kids enjoy being around me?Can my family clearly articulate our family values and vision?

Jesus Tomb and Empty Easter Eggs

Wanted to share a neat story from Sunday.

Stephanie and I had the chance to teach a lesson to the kids at our church. We read them a story about a boy named Jeremy and empty Easter eggs. It is a very touching story that you may have heard in a sermon before. (Read here)

As an illustration we brought all the empty plastic eggs in our house for the children. Our plan was to give each child an empty egg as a picture of the empty tomb of Christ after his resurrection. We didn't know how many children we'd have so we grabbed one extra egg from the floor of the van when we got to church.

After reading the story we started handing out eggs. One, two, three.... The basket started getting emptier and I started getting more anxious. Then, as the last student came up, I looked down into the basket and saw one last egg.

Amazing. God provided all we needed. Just like he always does!

Cool News from New Spring, Life Church and Others

Image
Tony Morgan blogged about something really neat his church is participating in. Four influential churches across the nation are joining forces for a teaching series called 'One Prayer.' Tony writes,
The purpose of this series is to, among other things, promote unity in the body of Christ, expose our churches to other great teachers and ministries, raise money for a mission project and participate in the larger work of God in His church.This is really cool. Bringing the church together across the country under the banner of Jesus.