Showing posts from September, 2009

AllModern Home Design

While I prefer more manly shows like Man v. Food or I Shouldn't Be Alive my beautiful bride is all about the home improvement, interior design shows. I hope that if she ever were to get on one of those shows they would redesign our home using modern looking furniture from AllModern.

I am a fan of simple items, solid colors and minimalism. AllModern has tons of great products that I would love to see in my house - at least until my little ones went Tasmanian and destroyed it all! I wouldn't mind having an Aeron Chair in my office as well.

I Need Me Some Focus!

I've been feeling like I'm running without a lot of focus right now. I have many interests and my interests are constantly shifting from one thing to another. It is exciting to learn new things but I never actually complete anything because I lose interest or move on to something else; which, according to the 10,000 hour study highlighted in Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, means I'll never become very polished at anything.

I even get distracted when I start thinking about what I can do to be more productive and focused. Any tips?

James Madison on the Freedom of Religion

My neighbor gave me a book to read (American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation) and I came across this quote in the introduction from James Madison on the freedom of religion:
"Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and observe the religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us."The same freedom that allows me to go to church and worship Jesus Christ must be given to the Muslim who wishes to praise Allah. This quote reminds me that my job has never been to force people to believe in Christ. That, in fact, is impossible.

No one forced to faith stands in it; rather, people are won to faith through the courageous, consistent witness and conduct of Christ followers, reliant above all else on the heart opening grace work of the Spirit of God.

Seeking the Approval of Man v. God

I am a person driven by accomplishment, success, and recognition. There are positives in a personality like this. I will take on challenges, I will drive to win, and I am not afraid to be a part of 'big' things. However, there are also downfalls. I don't try new things (I could lose), I always don't celebrate the accomplishments of others, and I build my value as a person on the praise of others. All of which creates quite a roller coaster ride of emotion surrounding my work, leadership and life.
One Scripture text that I consistently come back to for grounding and refreshing is Galatians 1:10.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servantof Christ.I have to remember there is only ONE person whose opinion of me counts. That person is Jesus Christ. he is one who lived, suffered, and died for me. He is the one who judges my soul and marks me for eternity. He is t…

Complete This Sentence: The Bible is...

After a recent conversation with a friend I have been thinking about the Bible, and what role it plays in the life of a person with faith in Christ. It seems to me that people run into all sorts of problems when the teachings of the Bible collide with how they think life should go. For them, having simple faith in Jesus is easier than accepting the Bible as the final authority in all matters of life, especially when the teaching of Scripture differ from the prevailing popular opinion.

With that in mind I have been trying to put together a definition of the what the Bible is. My goal is for the definition to be as brief, yet as all encompassing as possible. It also has to be intelligible for the non-Christian - even if it is not accepted or believed. Here's what I have so far:
The Bible is God's Word, that is, it is a collection of multiple genres of writing (historical, judicial, biographical, prophetic, poetic, etc.) which all combine to tell ONE story, the story of atrin…

Surprise Me God Update

We're a little over one week into our Surprise Me God experiment at church. I haven't had any life altering things happen yet, but I have seen several small examples of God's faithfulness in my life.
A friend was available Wednesday to join me for some very spontaneous coffee and conversation.Our interest rate went down 1% meaning Stephanie can won't need to substitute teach quite as much each month.Monday morning, after feeling exasperate dealing with the children, Stephanie cried out loud, "Surprise me God!" and immediately the phone rang with a substitute teaching opportunity for the day.I experienced a higher level of calm and contentment at work than I normally do during the course of the weekend.
Each day we're asking (and looking) for God to surprise us in ways both big and small.

Why don't you try it?

YouTube for Kids

Thanks to Josh Harris for pointing out these sites:
YouTube can be a sketchy place (even for adults). I just heard about a kid-friendly version of Youtube that divides videos by age group. does the same thing--all the videos are moderated by parents. (I still wouldn't encourage you to let your kids roam around these sites unattended, but they could be useful tools for your family.)

Book Review: My Life on the Run

I just finished up reading My Life on the Run by Bart Yasso. It was a fun read packed with stories of Yasso's long and adventurous running career. Yasso has run through Death Valley, up Mt. Kilimanjaro, and across both the Arctic and Antarctica (to name only a few places). He has completed hundreds of maarthons on multple continents. This guy loves, wait let me rephrase that, this guy lives to run. Reading My Life on the Run has inspired me to run more. Maybe I'll even join this former blogger for the Monster Dash, a half-marathon in October.

Surprise Me God

At church we are doing a series called "Surprise Me God." The idea is that God desires to break into our lives and surprise us if we will invite him to and look for him. Every day since Saturday I have asked for a surprise but I haven't gotten (or seen) one yet. I'll keep looking and keep you up to date.

A Prayer of Blessing for Our Son

At church last weekend our pastor and his wife co-taught on the subject of parenting. They challenged parents to do three things:

1. Teach their children
2. Warn their children
3. Bless their children

Great message that you can download here.

After church Stephanie and I were discussing the message and we found out that even prior to the service we both felt God telling us to pray a prayer of blessing over Jacob the night before he started preschool. So last night that is what we did.

It was a very touching moment as Stephanie and I both laid hands of Jacob and just prayed for him. We asked God to make him courageous, to open his mind to learn, that he would show kindness to all kids, that he could be a light in the school. We praised God that he has a plan for Jacob and we asked him to come and guide Jacob to be a man of God.

To be honest, I think it was overwhelming for Jacob. Before I was done he kind of broke down and couldn't really express why he was crying, but I think it had…

It Could Stop WIth You

Someone I work with shared with me some very personal stories about their upbringing and, specifically, the way certain destructive behaviors and choices keep tumbling down from generation to generation. My comment to her was, "It could stop with you."

Maybe those are words you need to be encouraged with. "It could stop with you."

I don't think it is even arguable that sin has a way of passing its pollution on. All of earth's fathers and mothers are tainted by sin, and in some measure pass on their brokenness to their children. And those children to their children. Exodus chapter 20 seems to point to this when, speaking about idolatry, the Lord says, "You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me."

But notice the last 5 words of that text: of those who hate me. When we accept our sinfulness an…

Balvin Happenings

- Andrew turned 3 last week
- Jacob turned four (oops, I mean) 6 yesterday
- Izzy starts preschool today (Open Door Nursery School)
- Jacob started kindergarten today (Greenvale Park Elementary)
- Jacob got to 'graduate' and move up to the big kid room at GO Sunday school
- Andrew is consistently going to the bathroom in the toilet and only wearing diapers at night
- Stephanie is planning to substitute teach this fall (unless you know of something else!)
- Brenton is still working overnight, dreaming of mountain climbing and camping, wanting to golf more, and wondering when he'll return to preaching

Gossip is Lame

Can I be blunt: Don't gossip.

Talking about others when they are not around is lame. The old axiom holds true: if you don't have something nice to say about some don't say anything at all.

James calls the tongue a wild fire that can destroy what it touches. Watch your tongue. Especially as a leader. Don't talk poorly of others, or others will think you talk poorly of them when they are not around.

Gossiping is easy and feels good because it appeals to our sin nature. Remember that nature is being renewed and restored into the glory of God through Christ.

Don't let any salt water come out our your fresh spring of life. They don't mix.

Alone in the Car, Sort of...

Yesterday I took my boys with me to Menard's. I left them in the car while I ran in to return an item. When I was done with the return I came back out, and as I was getting in the car and ready to pull away a police car stopped in front of me. The officer asked me to get out of the car and informed me that a bystander had called the police and told them there were kids left in a running car, unattended for 15 minutes.

I explained everything to the officer. I doubted that it had been fifteen minutes (5-10 is my estimate). I had left the windows down halfway and there was a cool breeze in the air. It was not hot. The kids were in their seats in the back of the car buckled in, and I had visual contact with them the entire time I was in the building.

The police officer understood, took down my statement, and told me he would need to file a report. Then he let me and the boys go. I guess I ultimately appreciate the concern of the stranger who made the call, but it didn't make…