Friday, April 30, 2010

Cultivate a Healthy Marriage

These are some notes I took while listening to a lecture from Tim Keller and his wife. Awesome stuff. You can download the whole talk for free here.

The Marriage as a Garden
- a garden takes an enormous amount of work
- a garden takes constant attention
- it is a long way from seed to the apple tree!
- you can't just plant a seed and expect fruit the next day

Planning and Planting
- why did you get married/what is the purpose of marriage
- who are you in the marriage

- why marriage: family security/prestige...later for happiness (middle ages)
- the purpose of marriage is Gospel reenactment (to help your spouse become his/her future glory self through sacrificial service) - love is an action first, feeling second
- most important thing in marriage is to develop a servant/ministry mind-set

- both spouses take on the role of Jesus (man-Jesus as head of church, woman-Jesus as sacrificial, submissive Son to the Father)
- 'helper' - can only help out of strengths that the other doesn't have
- difference between ontological (essence) and economic (role) standing
- tie breaking headship is only exercised when the women is going down a road that is sinful or destructive to herself, the marriage or the family
- the Biblical pattern calls both men and women to submit

Fertilizing and Watering
- communication
- love language
- sex

4 rules for communicating in conflict
1. before you say something to your spouse you MUST ask yourself - first! - what is my motive? (are you coming from a ministry mindset or a selfish mindset) why am I sending this message?
2. always start with the part that is your fault - even if it is only 5% (take care of your own 'log')
3. attack the problem and not the person
*you've done this
*I'm affected like this
*I think this way would be better
*I'm asking you to see if I'm missing something here...am I
4. make it safe for your spouse to criticize
*ways you make it unsafe: 1) blow-up; 2) apologize really quickly and be hyper-spiritual; 3) explaining too much

Love Language
- you can't tell me you love me in Finnish, I don't speak Finnish so I won't hear you
- behaviors that when others do them make me feel loved
- speak the language so others feel loved, even if it doesn't speak love to you

Sex
1. According to the Bible sex is really good and in marriage needs to be frequent
2. The biggest pleasure and the most lasting pleasure is giving pleasure
3. Mastering number 2 answers the frequency problem
4. Biggest problem in sex is the male/female differences (context)
5. Sex is such a sensitive thing that it rises things that you could otherwise probably ignore

Weeding and Pruning
- marriage brings you into conflict not with your spouse but with your own sinful self
- pruning hurts, it feels like a death, but it must be done

Opposites in Marriage
- conflict avoiders v. conflict confronters

- if one person has a problem, you both have a problem (1 Cor. 12)
- you have to want to solve the problem not score points, this requires a Gospel humility
- you need to learn to step off the battle field and become the coach

How to Repent
* the way you repent is not to make excuses
1. Figure out what your % of the wrong is
2. Make no excuses (separate the occasion from the cause)
3. Offer to make a change (debrief - how can we make sure this never happens again)


Things I'll Miss This Weekend

Things I'll miss while I'm in Chicago this weekend:
- wrestling with my boys
- playing War with my daughter
- watching Jacob play tee ball
- my wife
- my wife's great cooking
- Sunday morning pancakes and sausage
- hanging out with my neighbors
- cuddling and watching a movie w/ the kids
- seeing Drew and Izzy's smiles when I pick them up from daycare
- seeing Jake's smile when I get home from work
- going for a long run

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Should Kids be in Adult Church?

I have long wrestled with the idea of incorporating kids in a Sunday church service. I remember many long Sundays as a kid sitting in a chair playing games and drawing pictures on the bulletin while the pastor spoke. Now that I have my own family I realize how distracting kids can be for myself and the people around me.

Also, I really don't think it is fair to expect a child to sit still and listen to a 30 minutes talk. In fact I think it is those kids of experiences which make kids grow up to think church is boring, torturous, and irrelevant. I believe kids and parents alike deserve the opportunity to learn and praise in styles that are age-appropriate. Family worship and devotion can happen with less structure outside of the Sunday morning experience.

Here's a fun video illustrating my thoughts:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe

A friend of mine gave me the book 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe by Larry Osborne. In the book Osborne explains 10 myths that many Christians believe, but which fail to align with the truths of the Bible and how God made things to work.

Some examples include:
- Faith can fix anything
- Forgiving means forgetting
- A godly home guarantees good kids
- God brings good luck
Osborne does a great job of clearly explaining each myth and showing how the myth falls short of truth. He also details how believing the myths lead Christians to conclusions and behaviors that leave them confused, angry, or alienated from God. There were a couple chapters that I didn't agree with, and I don't think Osborne completely sways the reader with all his arguments, but overall I enjoyed the book.

Here's some things I underlined and enjoyed:
* For most of us, beliefs are intellectual. Acting upon them is optional.
* The kind of faith the Bible advocates and God wants from us has far more to do with our actions than our feelings.
* Faith is primarily about trusting God enough to do what he says.
* Few of us would mess with our boss's stated preferences. What kind of fool messes with God?
* Forgiveness is a decision lived out as a lengthy process.
* God's pattern of forgiveness retains earthly consequences while offering a genuine opportunity for restoration and productivity.
* We have an amazing ability to undercut our own misdeeds while multiplying the wrongdoing of others.
* If we convince others to change their behavior without loving Jesus first, all we've done is populate hell with nicer and more moral people.
* The early church understood that their job was not to judge and condemn the pagans around them. Their job was to win them over.
* A miracle needs a mess.

4 Rules to Improve Conversation in Marriage During Conflict

Tim Keller shares 4 rules for improving your communication during conflict with your spouse.

1. Before you say something to your spouse you MUST ask yourself - first! - what is my motive? (are you coming from a ministry mindset or a selfish mindset) why am I sending this message?

2. Always start with the part of the situation that is your fault - even if it is only 5% (take care of your own 'log' first)

3. Attack the problem and not the person, frame your conversation with the following ideas:
*You've done this
*This is how I'm affected by what you've done
*I think this action would be better
*Please tell me if I'm missing something, Is there something going on I don't understand?
4. Make it a safe environment for your spouse to criticize you

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Put Me in Charge

To my daughter (5) and my son (3):

Me: I'm going in the house to fold some laundry.
Daughter: Dad, put me in charge.
Me: Ok, Izzy you're in charge.
Daughter: Ha! Andrew I'm in charge so you have to listen to me.

Izzy loves to 'be in charge.' She thrives on responsibility and control. Since day 1 she has been fiercely independent and strong-willed. Lord, bless those traits you've given her. And bless me as I deal with it day after day. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jesus, Help Me Let It Go

Jesus told his disciples, "Whoever would come after me must deny his own desires daily, trade them in for my desires, and follow my example." (Matthew 16:24, my paraphrase)
I've heard that verse many times, but last night I heard it fresh again. To follow Jesus I have to deny myself. I have to let go of all the things I want, and start, ground zero, with his desires. I have to put into practice what I know the Bible teaches me to do, and stop making excuses for or ignoring the sin issues in my heart.

What are my desires?
- to be liked, even adored
- to have a life of ease
- to get my own way
- to enjoy success without hard work
- to have a perfect family
- to buy more and more of this and that
- to spend my money on things that make my life look better in other's eyes
- to have what others have (money, body, brain, talents)
- that everyone else would be more like me

And that's just the blog-able junk I desire. Jesus help me let it go!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big Steer Half Marathon: A Clarification

On Saturday I tweeted about completing the Big Steer Half Marathon. I didn't mean to intentionally mislead anyone, but with only 140 characters you can only say so much.

Here's the full story:
The Big Steer is a truck stop exactly 6.6 miles from our house. As part of my marathon training I ran there and back on Saturday, completing the 13.2 mile loop. 13.2 miles is the same distance as a half marathon, so in my mind I ran one.
To add to my sense of accomplishment I gave the effort a name. Hence, the Big Steer Half Marathon was born. I don't know if it will catch on in Northfield, but completing the run was a big success and confidence booster for me.
Sorry if you feel cheated. If you're ever in Northfield, and interested, I'd be happy to run the Big Steer with you!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

6 Differences between Men and Boys

1. A man is willing to work (a boy just wants to play)
2. A man has a vision for his life (a boy lives only in the present)
3. A man is a team player (a boy is all about himself)
4. A man is a protector (a boy is a predator)
5. A man is responsible for himself (a boy thinks its all someone else's fault)
6. A man takes the minority position (a boy goes with the masses)

From Brian Tome at Crossroads Church (Cincinnati, OH) - Men v. Boys sermon

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Top 25 Worship Songs - What's Missing?

Following are the Top 25 songs reported by churches in their Copy Activity Reports, as used for the February 2010 royalty payout (for surveys returned between April 1, 2009 and September 30, 2009).
Report Period 409 - United States
RANKSONG TITLEAUTHOR/SCCLI #
1Mighty To SaveFielding, Ben\Morgan, Reuben4591782
2How Great Is Our GodTomlin, Chris\Reeves, Jesse\Cash, Ed4348399
3Blessed Be Your NameRedman, Beth\Redman, Matt3798438
4Here I Am To WorshipHughes, Tim3266032
5Everlasting GodBrown, Brenton\Riley, Ken4556538
6Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)Tomlin, Chris\Giglio, Louie\Newton, John4768151
7Open The Eyes Of My HeartBaloche, Paul2298355
8Your Grace Is EnoughMaher, Matt4477026
9Jesus MessiahTomlin, Chris\Carson, Daniel\Reeves, Jesse\Cash, Ed5183443
10Holy Is The LordTomlin, Chris\Giglio, Louie4158039
11Shout To The LordZschech, Darlene1406918
12ForeverTomlin, Chris3148428
13You Are My KingFoote, Billy2456623
14Come Now Is The Time To WorshipDoerksen, Brian2430948
15Revelation SongRiddle, Jennie Lee4447960
16In Christ AloneTownend, Stuart\Getty, Keith3350395
17Lord I Lift Your Name On HighFounds, Rick117947
18Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)Baloche, Paul\Brown, Brenton4662491
19God Of WondersByrd, Marc\Hindalong, Steve3118757
20We Fall DownTomlin, Chris2437367
21Beautiful OneHughes, Tim3915912
22From The Inside OutHouston, Joel4705176
23The Heart Of WorshipRedman, Matt2296522
24You Are My All In AllJernigan, Dennis825356
25Days Of ElijahMark, Robin1537904

I took this chart from the CCLI website. It is amazing how the list doesn't change much from year to year. Even some oldies are still on there like Lord I Lift Your Name on High and Shout to the Lord.

So here's my question, "What worship songs are new and fresh in churches today? What should I be listening to?"

Get Your Butt in Church!

I mentioned a couple days ago that Stephanie and I went back to a church we hadn't been to in awhile. Yesterday I got a call from a friend there who wanted to check-in with me and see where our family was at, and to encourage us/hold us accountable to be at church regularly.

I thought it was really cool that this guy had the guts to reach out and challenge me (albeit in a very humble, kind way). I hung up thinking, "That is what church family is all about," and it brought to mind Hebrews 10:24-25 which teaches believers,
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
Thanks for following the prompting of the Spirit, and the teaching of the Word of God, brother.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Fruit Bearing Death

The question, brothers, is not whether we will die, but whether we will die in a way that bears much fruit.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Doing Life Together Matters

Ever since we moved to Northfield 3 years ago we have been without a church home. Really we've been wondering since my crap nearly blew us up in February 2006 (but that's another post).

Today we went back to the church we attended for about a year before I started working overnights. It was fun to go back and see friends, and I'm grateful for the kind welcome that we got. It really sucks being without a church where you plug in and share life with people. There is a real bond that exists between people of the same faith, and who share the same goal of living out that faith in a daily, tangible way.

My faith is so much more alive when I am attending church regularly and rubbing shoulders with other believers. I have to admit, I'm not much good at sustaining faith alone. My need for small group encouragement, accountability and fellowship is becoming more and more clear to me. Doing life together is the best way to do it. But it has to be a togetherness that goes deeper than talking sports, BBQs and American Idol viewing parties.

I need to drive this area of my life, and no one will do it except for me.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Therapy through Golf

Had a good time golfing yesterday with my brother Aaron. Not only was it fun to be outside enjoying the beautiful day, but I was reminded again of how therapeutic golfing is for me. When I'm playing with the right people, golfing can be a time for opening up and sharing and talking through issues that I don't have other space in my life to talk through. It is real 'guy-time', and golfing with the right guy, as expensive as golf can be, is a lot cheaper than therapy in the long run!

It is possible to take moments of ordinary pleasure and capitalize on them for soul health. But it's not always easy. It takes planning and some sacrifice, and both Aaron and I expressed sadness in the fact that were not intentional about getting together more often.

This morning I was reading an article in Wired magazine about decision-making and behavioral change and the author commented, "We have all the information we need. What we need are incentives." That made me think.

What is my incentive to spend time with a brother/friend talking about life, instead of ignoring the hard stuff for trivial smiles?

- deeper joy
- being accepted
- better health
- forgiveness
- the releasing freedom of confession
- the presence of Jesus

Next question, do these incentive motivate me to act? Do they motivate you to change your behavior? Shockingly to me self, I have to admit that they don't always. But I desire them to. Do you?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Time Wasted with the TV

Last night I was thinking about how much TV I watch. On Tuesday and Wednesday night the entire family watched American Idol. On Tuesday I followed it up by watching the movie Hitch. And last night I was Idol, CSI:NY, and then the news. That is a total of 6.5 hours of TV.

When I think about it, 6.5 hours is a lot of time lost. I could have read multiple books, gone for at least 5 runs, played more with my kids, or slept. Watching TV is just so dang easy, and the time just floats away from you. I'm amazed that I can be dead tired and unable to do anything, but some 'show' will keep me up for hours. It is like my brain goes into zombie mode.

I know I've blogged this before, and I will again later, I'm sure. Just saying.

Thoughts on Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods tees off today at The Masters golf tournament.

If you don't know the story of Tiger Woods that has unfolded over the last 4 months then you have been living on another planet (or in Utah). Anyway, this is the first tournament Tiger has played in a long time and if I was working this weekend I'd be excitedly glued to the TV watching.

Like most people I was shocked when the news about Tiger's car accident, and the subsequent stories of his infidelity started to surface. However I'm at a point now where I'm ready to leave it behind and start cheering for him as a professional athlete again.

Tiger is not my role model. Tiger is not my example of masculinity and what a great husband looks like. He is not the one I worship and follow. He is an athlete. And in the end he is a depraved sinner just like me, who unfortunately happened to have his sins exposed to the entire world.

I hope Tiger wins this weekend. But more importantly, I hope he wins the battle for his wife and their children. And ultimately I hope he brought home into a relationship with Jesus Christ, our true example of masculinity, faithfulness, and love.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Help Me Improve My Ability to Plan

Building time into my day/life for strategic planning and futuristic thinking is something that I really struggle with. As a person and leader I am always running forward with a try-and-see approach. For most things I am nimble enough to adjust on the fly or deal with problems as they arise. However I think I could save myself time, energy and stress by predicting some of the roadblocks and detouring long before I ever even reach them.

How do you handle planning and thinking as it relates to your work/life?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Tooth Fairy Nail Polish Magic

I just told Andrew not to touch the nail polish in his sister's bathroom. He then came into my room and said, "Look at my nail polish." Here is what followed:

Me: I told you not to touch it.
Drew: I didn't.
Me: How'd it get on your finger then.
Drew: It was magic.
Me: Now you're lying to me.
Drew: No. It was the tooth fairy.