Thursday, November 25, 2010

10 Things that I am Thankful For...

1. I am saved by Jesus Christ who gave himself as a sacrifice for my sin and by his grace gave me faith to believe in him
2. I am being made whole and holy day by day, slowly but surely, through the power of the Holy Spirit
3. I am married to an amazing woman filled with love, forgiveness, hospitality, and spunk
4.I have 3 amazing children who are healthy, energetic, loving, playful and friendly
5. I had a mother and father who modeled Christian faith for me as a child and who continue to bless my family and I today
6. I have brothers and a sister who get along and would do anything for one another
7. In-laws who have blessed our family many times and who love our children so much
8. I have a job which provides for the needs of my family plus a little extra for the 'fun stuff'
9. I live in a country that provides freedom for faith, reward for hard work, and so many opportunities to shape your own future
10. All of the friends, memories and experiences I have accumulated during my first 30 years

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What is the Basis for Moral Behavior?

Do you believe in morality? Do you believe there is right and there is wrong in this world? Do you believe that people should not kill, not steal, not rape, not be forced to be a slave to another, not sleep around when they are married, not just walk up to another human being and punch them in the face? Do you believe that any of the previous statements is true?

Why do you believe that?

Some people say that it is arrogant for a Christian to say that things are right and wrong. They say Christians are closed minded and intolerant because of what the Bible teaches regarding how Christians are to live. Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) That's crazy people say. There is no absolute truth. What is true for Jesus, or for Christians, might be true for them but not for me! I decide what is true and what isn't.

The problem with that kind of thinking is taken to its logical end it is absurd. When someone breaks into your house, takes all your stuff and assaults your wife or little sister, the idea that each man defines for himself truth and morality flies right out the window. When you feel violated you appeal to some sense of justice. You appeal to a higher standard that has been compromised in your life by the behavior of another person.

Each man determining what is right and wrong is ridiculous and we know it at our core. There is a moral law of the universe that speaks to the conscious of man's heart. And that law comes from Jesus Christ, creator of heaven and earth. He made this place and he determines the rules. Like it or not. James 4 says, "There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hair Spray, a Lighter, and Daniel 3

Tonight at church I had the children reenact the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace due to their refusal to worship an idol instead of God (Daniel 3).

Jacob, Izzy and Andrew got to play the main roles. They were great and all the kids really listened and enjoyed the story. My goal was to teach them the importance of fearing God rather than man. We've been looking at Malachi 1:14 which says,

For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name is to be feared among the nations.

As a visual aid representing the heat of the furnance I brought in a lighter and a bottle of hairspray to create my own little torch. The children absolutely loved it; now I'm just hoping I will not have to face to many angry parents next Sunday at service!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rundown of My Day

clean the kitchen
coffee shop and personal reading
Andrew gymnastics
pick up a Redbox
clean the piano room (used the Dyson!)
do the dishes
set-up the Christmas music, nativity and wreath
cook lunch
watch movie with Andrew
sledding and snowballs with Andrew
bake cookies with Andrew
clean the kitchen
(Izzy home from school)
read books with Izzy
cookies and milk with Izzy and Andrew
(Jacob home from school)
Jacob goes to friends
Izzy has friend over
Jacob comes back home with friend
do a little personal reading
cook dinner
Jacob school conference (he's doing GREAT!)
eat dinner w/ Stephanie
watch a little Free Willy with the family
bedtime prayers and songs
Bible reading and journal (1 Cor 1)
TV w/ Stephanie
good night

Think Before You Update Your Status

It bothers me how many people will put up a status update in Facebook about how 'God' will see you through anything or about how 'blessed' they are by God, and then in their next update they are writing about getting wasted, hooking up, or saying f*&% and other unmentionables.
Do you really think God is with you and blessing you when you represent yourself and your values that way? What God are you even talking about?
The God of the Bible does not bless a live of continual, blatant sinfulness (Romans 6:1). It is true that everyone makes mistakes and that everyone sins without the help of Jesus (Romans 6:23), but to go on in that kind of speech and behavior intentionally shows that a person's heart is far from God and the love of God is not in him (1 John 2:1-6). Non-repentant sinners make a mockery of God's grace when they speak of him like a friend.

If you are a Christian keep this command from the Apostle Paul in mind as you update your Facebook page and post your Tweets:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
(Ephesians 4:29 ESV)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Martin Luther - A Man for Jesus

Tonight Stephanie and I made some homemade popcorn and watched the movie Luther. What an inspiring movie recreating the events of the Reformation started by Martin Luther's nailing of his 95 Theses onto the Wittenberg Church doors in 1517.

Luther is portrayed in the movie as a man who deeply cared about Jesus Christ and who demanded that all people be given the opportunity to read God's Word and come to love Jesus themselves. Luther was a monk who became so infuriated with the abuses of power and the wrong handling of Scripture happening in the Catholic Church of his day that he began preaching and writing extensively against such practices. His biggest hang-up was the idea of people buying indulgences, which is a fancy word for 'get out of hell' promises.

I was inspired as I watched the film at Luther's battle against his own self-doubt and what he perceived to be the influence of Satan. Luther really battled to know and love Jesus and he committed himself to passing along to others the chance to experience God's mercy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Updated Life List

My wife Stephanie has a list of things she'd like to do before she dies. I have been putting together my own list in the back of my journals. As I come to the close of another Moleskine, I thought I should bring all my lists together on my blog. I write things down spur of the moment so I have some pretty ambitious goals. Here's my list:
  1. Write something that is at least 50 pages
  2. Coach one of my kids sports teams (done spring and summer 2010, Jacob's teeball and coach pitch)
  3. Play a round of golf under 85 (done summer of 2009)
  4. Play a round of golf under 80
  5. Run another marathon (ran Grandma's Marathon Summer of 2010)
  6. Run a third marathon
  7. Pay off all our debt
  8. Become an STL
  9. Visit England or Ireland
  10. Go back to Hawaii with Stephanie
  11. Take my boys to watch the MN Gophers play the WI Badgers in Madison
  12. Build the kids a tree fort
  13. Shoot a deer
  14. Hike Pike's Peak
  15. Hike the Grand Canyon top to bottom
  16. Camp w/ my family in the Black Hills
  17. Take boys to baseball games in other states
  18. Family trip to Boston
  19. Family trip to Disneyland
  20. Ride my bike to Duluth
  21. Trip to Yellowstone National Park
  22. Visit a cave
  23. Trip to the Redwood Forest
  24. Attend a service at Mars Hill church in Seattle
  25. Attend a service at The Village Church in Denton, TX
  26. Finish our basement
  27. Do the Polar Plunge
  28. Go on a hot air balloon ride
It is interesting to see my goals written out like this. Many of the outdoor goals have come from the influence of books I have been reading this year. I'm excited to see how this list takes shape in the years to come.

Monday, November 08, 2010

If You Can't Figure Out Pants - Keep Them On!

At the retail store I manage I see all kinds of people. One of the people types that bothers me the most is the 20-something dude, pushing around a stroller, who can't figure out how to keep his pants secured over his underwear and around his waist. It absolutely drives me nuts that guys like this are allowed to have and take care of children.
Am I stereotyping - yes.

Do I really think there should be some kind of law that prevents people from having or raising kids - no.
But come on. Look into the future with me. What happens to that kid in the stroller? What will home life look like for the kid whose Daddy stills rides his skateboard around the driveway and spends his Saturday nights drinking beer and playing Halo. Who will read to that kid? Who will teach him about courage and humility and chivalry.

What really ticks me off is the fact that young women allow themselves to get sucked into relationships with these dummies. It is not the girls I'm ticked off at, because it is likely their dads and their upbringing that are at the root of their problems. I just wish the girls who become mommies way to young would be more wise about how they find the love they are looking for and that they would do more to protect themselves from the lies and desires of young men.

Ladies, if a guy can't figure out how to wear pants he will not be able to figure out how to be a great daddy! Run away from these dudes. You are too beautiful and have way to much to offer a real man. Don't look for the false love that is thrown at you. You're worth more than any guy in a pair of dotted boxers (I know they're dotted because I can see them as a I walk behind you) could ever afford.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Visionary v. Operational Leaders

Tonight I was thinking about leadership.

I think there is a difference between visionary leaders and operational leaders. Visionary leaders are people who see something others can't see, and they are able to call people to follow them towards the picture they paint of the future. Operational leaders execute the tangible; operational leaders lead by showing people they right steps to take and ensuring that those following them stay on track.

It seems to me that visionary leaders sit on top of the leadership hierarchy and they set the direction the ship sails in. Operational leaders come underneath the visionaries and support the execution of the vision. Visionary leadership is must sexier than operational leadership, but both kinds of leaders benefit from the presence of the other.

I'm an operational leader. I function best when the direction is set by another and I'm asked to execute the details. It doesn't feel great to write that but it is the truth. I get afraid that even writing it means I will be prevented from some unknown future leadership role. But I have to be content and joyful as the leader Jesus made me to be at this point in my life. And I have to acknowledge that I would be happier in a lesser leadership role if it means I can spend more energy utilizing the ISTJ personality that the good Lord gave me.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

You Don't Know What the Bible Says, Do You?

It is my experience that Bible literacy is all but dead in many evangelical churches. What do I mean by that? I mean I am shocked at how little many 'Christians' know about what the Bible teaches. I've been in church all my life and over and over again I meet people who don't know primary people, events, themes and doctrinal truths in the Bible.

Why does it matter? Isn't it the job of the pastor to teach the Bible each week? Yes it is. Partly. But not mostly. There are some major problems with the mindset, 'I know all I need to from what my pastor tells me.'

The first problem is that YOU are accountable to live in accordance with Scripture. And to do that effectively you'll need to know more about what the Bible teaches than one sermon a week can teach you.

Remember, it is YOU, not the pastor, who...
- sits next to John Doe at work and is responsible to share Jesus with him.
- engages other mothers at neighborhood parks.
- has to explain to your children what is right and what is wrong and what the standard is for determining that.
- is called to defend truth in the face of assault and error.
- will face personal setback and suffering and trials of all kinds.
- has to decide if you will steward what you have or consume more and more on the back of credit.
There is a vast array of decisions that need to be made in life and your knowledge of, and commitment to, the words of the Bible will determine if you walk in the narrow ways of Jesus or in the wide paths of the world. Here's how the Bible puts it,
- All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
- Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105 ESV)
- Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. (Proverbs 13:13 ESV)
- Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6 ESV)
- Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21 ESV)
Here is a key verse on the subject of knowing the ways of Jesus as revealed by Scripture and living by them.
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
(1 John 2:3-6 ESV)
On this side of heaven no one will be perfect in keeping the commands of God. But here is the grace of God: we don't have to be perfect. We just have to be willing to admit we're not, ask Jesus Christ to save us from our sin, and then try our best everyday to follow his teachings.

The way we follow Jesus is reading his word and putting it into practice.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 ESV)
The way we renew our mind is not by reading the books and blogs of men, debating with non-believers and false teachers, soaking in hours of reality TV, harvesting our Farmville crops on Facebook, or drinking away the weekend. It is by taking a Bible, opening it up and reading it. Day after day after day.

Its like I tell my kids when they don't want to eat something new for dinner: try it, you might like it!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

One Crazy Moment

Tonight I did something a bit out of character. After dinner and playtime with Daddy at the mall in Burnsville we stopped by Old Navy to do some browsing. Next thing I know I had purchased all the kids clothes for our upcoming family Christmas picture. I spent way more money than I normally would've for clothes, but what's even crazier is that I'm not bothered by it. I think its because a nice family picture is something that my wife has wanted for a long time, and it is time to GET IT DONE.

Love ya babe.

It was really fun how into it all the kids were. Andrew picked out a plaid shirt and clip-on tie combo. He was absolutely pumped about the tie. Izzy took a couple dresses into the fitting room to try on and she angled for some matching shoes (which she didn't get). And even 7 year old Jacob was looking at some shirts and trying a few things on. If they all enjoy shopping this much I'm really going to be in trouble in about 8 years!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Contentment and Coveting

Contentment. The call to it is all over the Bible.

The opposite is coveting. Coveting is more than simply wanting stuff. At it's root it is wanting something else besides God.

1st and 10th Commandments are bookends, cause and effect statements. Loving God is the engine, being content is the caboose. Coveting erodes contentment.

You covet whatever it is that makes you think, "If I had it....." then everything would be great.

Contentment is a secret in this way: the things that make us feel content here on earth are pointers to something greater that isn't found here on earth. The reason so few people find true contentment is that they stop at the pointer and fail to go on to the reality.

Contentment is also hard to find because of our sinful nature. We try to find contentment in ministry/marketplace success. Will always be a battle. Because there is always something else, another this or that, to strive for.

The deception is that because somethings give us a taste of contentment, we think more of them will give us ultimate contentment. And what happens is that we turn our successes into idols.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Plugged Into the Events of the Family

Tonight I spent over an hour updating my Google Calendar with all the events coming up for my family in the next few months. Man, we have a lot going on! The kids are starting up a new session of gymnastics and Stephanie's basketball session beginning in couple weeks, plus I'm heading into the most hectic time of the year in retail. All that means the we're going to get pretty busy.

As the leader of my home it is critical for me to stay on top of the details, which is something I haven't always done a great job of. My personality type is more of a doer than a talker. I want get moving instead of continually rehashing the details and making sure every corner is covered. It is a great trait for getting things done, but it can cause me trouble when I overlook things or under plan. And it is not fair to my wife and family when they have to bear those consequences.

So I'm working at getting more involved with the details so I can support my wife and contribute to the smooth functioning of our family life. And utilizing a tool like Google Calendar (with reminders!) is a small way for me to better do that.