Showing posts from September, 2008

Installing a New Dishwasher

Last night I drove up to our townhouse in Monticello and installed a new dishwasher that I had purchased off Craig's list. And I did it all by myself. I have to admit I was praying that nothing would start on fire when I switched the breaker back on.

I hauled the old dishwasher away by setting it on my tailgate and then using a 100 foot extension cord from my trunk to secure it. I wrapped the cord around the dishwasher and then through the window on my doors. Only problem was that I unknowingly had the driver's side door open so when I went to shut the door the cord was in the way. That meant I had to drive 25 minutes to the dump place holding the door closed with one hand and driving with the other.

I love those adventures.

Reconcilling a Broken Christian Marriage

I was thinking about Christian marriage and remarriage a little tonight and this verse popped to mind as I was considering two people who are divorced and yet both attend my church.
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. - Matthew 5:23-24I believe that a professing Christian husband and professing Christian wife are to remain together, despite their problems, as long as it is physically and emotionally safe to do so. Because we live in a broken world there are times when even Christian people need to split up, temporarily or permanently. The permanent option, however, is a drastic step that should only be taken after much prayer, counsel and thought. I would go on to argue that in occasions where a marriage must end, at least one of the two partners are not even truly Christians.

So, what abo…

Content w/ food and clothes

This verses from 1 Timothy 6 really have me thinking lately, "How do I live the totality of my life in a Biblical way?"
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, andwe cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Sinclair Ferguson's Resolutions for Taming the Tongue

1. I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to him. (1:5) 2. I resolve to boast only in the exultation I receive in Jesus Christ and also in the humiliation I receive for Jesus Christ. (1:9-10) 3. I resolve to set a watch over my mouth. (1:13) 4. I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak. (1:19) 5. I resolve to learn the gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor. (2:1-4) 6. I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment. (2:12) 7. I resolve never to stand on anyone's face with the words I employ. (2:16) 8. I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I do not truly experience. (3:14) 9. I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidence of a bad heart that needs to be mortified. (4:1) 10. I resolve never to speak decided evil against another out of a heart of antagonism. (4:11) 11. I resolve never to boast in anything but what I will accomplish. (4:13) 12. I resolve to speak as one subject …

Me and Mark Driscoll

Last night I was lucky enough to get out of the house, drive to Northwestern College and listen to Mark Driscoll lecture on "Christ and Media." I have pages of notes from the talk that I'll try and summarize later. One key point was this: Every church will contextualize. The question is, 'what year will it be contextualized to.'

I was very appreciative of Mark's talk. He is a much more humble guy that most people think. His word at the end of the lecture was well put. He encouraged the group of mostly college age students to use technology and media for the promotion of the Gospel and God's fame, and not as a way to criticize, argue and belittle people.

In his closing prayer he asked forgiveness for the times he has used media sinfully in those ways. I walked away very thankful for a guy like Mark and the way he has grown in humility since he first started in ministry.

Plus, he signed my copy of Vintage Jesus and posed for a picture.

Avoid Becoming Sermon Proof

There is a great danger for people who have been Christians for some time that they can become "sermon proof." After years of going to church and hearing sermons, or downloading multiple preachers to your iPod, it is quite possible that a person can become desensitized to the weight of the truths being communicated.

Instead of having fresh hearts that can be ripped bear with the words of truth, our ears become hardened and encrusted over so that the words we hear can never penetrate to the depth of our souls.

In following in the footsteps and pulpit of a powerful preacher (a man named Solomon Stoddard) Jonathon Edwards inherited a congregation in such a condition. In denouncing their hard hearts Edwards said, "Woe to them that go to hell out of Northampton and that lived under Mr. Stoddard's ministry. We are ready to wonder at the wickedness we hear there is in some parts of the world, in the West Indies and in other places; but they han't one half of the sins…

The Holiness of God

I have often had sweet complacency in God in views of his glorious perfections, and the excellency of Jesus Christ. God has appeared to me, a glorious and lively being chiefly on the account of his holiness. The holiness of God has always appeared to me the most lovely of all his attributes. The doctrines of God's absolute sovereignty, and free grace; in showing mercy to whom he would show mercy; and man's absolute dependence on the operations of God's Holy Spirit, have very often appeared to me as sweet and glorious doctrines.

Jonathon Edwards, "Personal Narratives"

Family Twins Game Last Night

Yesterday the family and I got a little spontaneous and decided to head up into Minneapolis and watch the MN Twins game. I know I am fasting from sports, but I viewed this more as a family, memory building opportunity.

We packed into the van and drove up to Apple Valley where we got on the light rail train. After a thirty minute ride, next to some occasionally foul-mouthed teenage girls, we arrived at the dome. No sooner did we sit down than Izzy needed to use the restroom and Jake wanted food. We sat in the family section and had empty seats on both sides of us so things went smooth. The kids did great and we enjoyed our hots dogs, nachos, and pop. The game was exciting and the Twins won big 9-3. The highlight for the kids was being on the big screen dancing and watching a fan get arrested after he ran onto the field and all around the outfield.

After the game I thought I had a good plan for riding the train home. I figured we could take the train the opposite way of the crowds…

Watching Damned People Pass Me By

It frustrates me that I can read and write and dream about church and preaching all day long, and then sit at a coffee shop watching damned people come and go by me for hours without ever unplugging the earphones of my iPod and talking to a single soul.

Technology and the Church

Saturday and Sunday night I had to work partial overnight shifts to get some things reset in the produce department I manage. It was long and crazy and tiring, but the department looks great.

To compensate for the long nights I have today off. So far, I have slept until 10:30 and sat at Caribou in town the rest of the day journaling, studying, reading, blogging and researching cool church stuff. It's been a great day.

There is some really cool things happening in churches through the use of technology. More and more churches are leveraging things like text messaging to engage people during a sermon and to communicate with their congregants during the week. Also, video is being used for announcements and sermon illustrations in ways it never has before. Church has come a long way from hand puppets and overheads projectors.

It will be interesting to see what the church of the future looks like. I love the approach of Mars Hill (Seattle) because they are dedicated to the engage…

Sports Fast

I'm going on a sports fast starting today. My goal this week is to not watch any sports or Sportscenter. There are some environments (like the work break room) where this will be impossible, but I'm not going out of my way to watch anything. Instead I hope to spend more time reading, playing w/ my family, and sleeping. With the Twins down to 6 games left in the season and the Red Sox playing the Yankees this could be tough, but I'm going to do my best and see how much more productive and focused I will be on other things that will last much longer than an hour or an off-season.

The Offensive and Attractive Cross

Mark Driscoll writes,

The curious paradox of the atoning death of a bloody Jesus rising above the plane of human history with a mocking crown of thorns is that he is offensive in an attractive way. It is the utter horror of the cross that cuts through the chatter, noise, and nonsense of our day to rivet our attention, shut our mouths, and compel us to listen to an impassioned dying man who is crying out for the forgiveness of our sins and to ask why he suffered. Tragically, if we lose the offense of the cross, we also lose the attraction of the cross so that no one is compelled to look at Jesus. Therefore, Jesus does not need a marketing firm or a makeover as much as a prophet to preach the horror of the cross unashamedly. (Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, 33, emphasis added)

(HT: Desiring God)

Exposing Idols That Hide In the Heart

Darrin Patrick is the lead pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis. Darrin has a passion about speaking to people about the idols that they worship instead of worshiping Jesus. I had the chance to hear Darrin in person at The Whiteboard Sessions where he shared some questions that people can ask themselves to expose the idols in their hearts. I couldn't write all the questions down, and I've been trying to find them online. Finally tonight I found them on The Journey Church website. Here they are:
What do I worry about most? What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?What do I rely on or comfort myself with when things go bad or get difficult? What do I do to cope? What are my release valves?What do I think most easily about? What does my mind go to when I am free? What do I daydream about?What makes me feel the most self-worth? What am I the proudest of? What do I want to be known for? What do I really want and expect ou…

The Peasant Princess

Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA is doing a preaching series on the OT book Song of Songs. They are calling the series The Peasant Princess and they're providing their people with some really cool resources like this website and this sermon guide. Take a second and check out the preview video on the website. really cool stuff.

I love this kind of stuff. I wish I could produce it, or that I went to a church that did.

Addicted to Sports

I am addicted to sports. And I need help.

I love sports. All kinds. Baseball, hockey, golf, football. If it is on Sportscenter I'll watch it.

However, lately I've been feeling that I give too much time to sports. I spent a good chunk of time today just sitting around flipping from game to game, sport to sport, that I didn't really care about.

I think I should be more productive with my time. Why do I care if Alabama beats Arkansas or LSU beats Auburn? I don't. Yet I feel like I've missed out if I don't see who won.

Maybe I should go on a sports fast. Yeah maybe that is what I'll do. Right after the Cowboys/Packers game tomorrow night.

God Lights the Way

Read this poem in a Daily Bread book.

When our problems overwhelm us
God wants us to look to him
He provides the answers
Lighting paths that once we dim

Post #1,500

Wow, this is post #1,500 for my blog.

It all started on my wife's birthday, March 18, 2005. A heck of a lot has changed over the course of the last 3 and a half years including the focus and readership of this blog.

Don't know if I'll make it another 1,500 posts but it has been so far. I've learned a lot, meet some cool people around the country and preserved years of thoughts, quotes, activities, and opinions for my kids to look back and read some day.

Thanks for being part of the journey.

Dang it. I suck.

"Dang it. I suck." (smile)

- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo when asked how he felt after fumbling the ball in his own end zone during the second quarter of Dallas' 41-37 victory over the Philadelphia EaglesDo you ever take life to seriously? Do you find yourself making a big deal out of nothing?

It is easy when adversity and trouble come into our daily lives to make a huge deal out of things. However, often times we overestimate the impact of life's tribulations. We forget that, like all of nature's thunderstorms, the gray skies that accompany most of the issues we face in life will be followed by blue skies. That is why perspective is so important.

Let the words of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV) be hidden in your heart for those times when you feel troubled,
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond…

Believing in the Power of the Bible

If you're like me you are probably not big on the whole "stand on the corner with a Bible and yell at people" kind of evangelism (although I do know at least one person who got saved from that - and he wasn't even talking with Kirk Cameron or Roy Comfort!).

However, as Christians we should never avoid preaching the word of Scripture to others. As as preachers and teachers, it is absolutely necessary that we read the word of God and preach it clearly and with courage.

Romans 10:17 says, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." If we wish others to share in our faith, than we must share with them the Bible and believe that it "is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword," performing the task of "piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb 4:12)

Ultimatums are Lies

My three year old daughter is the Queen of Unkind Ultimatums.

Here is just a sampling of the things that come out of here mouth...
- If you don't __________ I won't play with you anymore.
- Give me __________ or you can't come to my birthday party.
- If you ___________ I'll be your best friend.
- Fine, then you're not my friend anymore.Today I was reading my Bible I happened to hear one of Izzy's 'deals' and it made me wonder how many Christians think of God as the God of Spiritual Ultimatums. I think that when we start thinking of God in terms of a divine ultimatum maker, we are believing a lie of Satan. Here are a few that I've fought in my own mind. I'm sure you have your own.
- If I don't give enough offering I won't be blessed by God.
- If I don't stop ________ God is going to punish me .
- God won't heal me because I don't have enough faith or I am not righteous enough.
- If I don't read my Bible everyday Jesus won't …

A Christian is....

What characteristics do you think should be added to this sentence?

I want to focus on the behaviors that make a Christian observable to those around them.

"A Christian is .........."

i.e. - loving to all types of people
i.e. - patient in affliction

Leave an answer or two in the comments and we'll compile a list together.

Priceless Quote

Last night on the car ride home from Monticello (and an unsuccessful trip to fix a dishwasher at our townhouse) Isabelle was asking me questions about where we were, and where other places are. She was asking me where the location of a church was but I couldn't understand her. Then she said in the cutest 3 year old voice, "Remember Daddy, the brown church where you preached the Gospel?" Priceless to my heart.

Sin Is Idolatry

Here's a great quote to think about.
Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.

- Tim Keller(HT: Joe Thorn)

Tiring on the Top

"Uneasy is the head of the man who wears a crown." Shakespeare

I listened to a sermon last night from Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones in which he referenced this quote when talking about how man becomes a slave to power, adoration, and the worship of other men.

The idea that I will be happy when I final 'arrive' is a lie that I consistently trip up on. I sin when I dwell on the falsehood that contentment and happiness will come from attaining some level of respect and achievement in the eyes of others.

What I forgot is that should I reach some level of success with this kind of mindset, I will constantly be threatened by others who are achieving in their own right. Because I worry about gaining others approval, I will steadily be on guard of others who are getting the praise I crave.

Being on the top comes with a much higher price than people allow themselves to acknowledge. You are the place ever one else wants to be. You are the king that others are trying to knock off the …

Wrestling with the Sovereignty of God

In my days as a pre-Calvinist one of my greatest obstacles to embracing Calvinistic theology was my inability to reasonably answer a couple questions, namely "how is God sovereign over all things and yet not the cause of sin?" and "how does an infinitely loving God send people to eternal hell?" These are extremely large questions that are stumbling blocks for many people.

In reading a biography on Jonathon Edwards I've found that he too wrestled with these questions. In the book the author quotes Edwards saying he was, "full of objections against the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life, and rejecting whom he please; leaving them to eternally perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me." ("Personal Narrative," Works, 16: 791-92)

The key to Edwards transformation from resistant to convinced of Calvinist doctrines is his relentless pursuit of Scriptur…

Am I Saved?

"Am I really saved?"

Do you ever ask yourself that question with all seriousness and thought? You should. Listen to Jesus words in Matthew 7,
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’The Puritans had a strict set of steps that people must go through to be assured or true salvation, rather than simply a emotional religious experience. These steps were: awakening, humiliation, and regeneration. Let me say more about each.Awakening has to do with a person coming to a realization of their frailty, mortality, and the looming reality of eternity before them. This is why there was so much emphasis in Puritan preaching on sin and h…

Recent Reading

Last week I dipped into the world of non-fiction and read Vince Flynn's book Act of Treason. Awesome book. I know I've mentioned Flynn on the blog before. he is a MN based author who writes political thrillers in the line of Tom Clancey. I couldn't put the book down and slammed through about 400 pages in 4 days.

This week I picked up a copy of George M. Marsden's authobiography calledJonathon Edwards, A Life. Jonathon Edwards is thoughts of by many as the greatest American, Reformed, Christian theologians ever. His writings and sermons played a central role in one of the biggest religious revivals America has ever seen, and they continue to influence evangelical Christianity today. I'm looking forward to meeting and getting to know the man whom John Piper affectionately calls his "best dead friend."

Quiet Blog, Busy Brain

I haven't been blogging much recently as we've been making adjustments to life with two working parents. Unfortunately my mind hasn't been as quiet as my blog. The last week or so I've had all kinds of things running through my stream of consciousness. Mainly they are thoughts about church and work, with some occasional parenting stuff.

I'm not sure I want to post all my questions at this post, but some themes related to church that I'm thinking about are...

- what are my core theological convictions
- what are my core philosophy of ministry convictions
- how much of the two above need to line up with the church you attend
- how can you influence a church from the pew? should you? or should you start something new?
- what do I believe are the Biblical church leadership offices and leadership structures and who should fill them

Big Changes Ahead

Tomorrow is a big day for our family. Stephanie starts her new job as a 5th grade teacher at an elementary school near our house. Jacob has his first day in preschool. And our nanny takes her first shot at taking care of all the kids for a whole day. It is a real God thing that we have the nanny we do and we're praying that things would go well. Both Stephanie and I are excited about what the next few months will bring as we adapt to the changes in our lives. In the meantime, however, our days are feeling a little crazy!