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Showing posts from January, 2011

Live Now to Prepare for Tomorrow

As I face the future and wonder what God has for my family and I, I found this quote shared by Justin Buzzard to be extremely helpful,
What God may hereafter require of you, you must not give yourself the least trouble about. Everything He gives you to do, you must do as well as ever you can, and that is the best possible preparation for what He may want you to do next. If people would but do what they have to do, they would always find themselves ready for what came next. -George MacDonald

Prayer and Preaching are Primary for Pastors

There are many expectations placed on a preacher's time.  Today's CEO style pastor is expected to be the leader of all leaders and has many weighty responsibilities of the church laid over his shoulders.  However, as I study Acts 6:1-7 I see two primary responsibilities that must supersede all others: prayer and preaching.

This is a quote taken from John Piper's ordination message "Ministry of the Word" spoken over Steve Roy in 1984 which discussing the importance of a pastor/preacher spending personal time in study of God's Word:
Richard Baxter wrote something that could save many young pastors years of regret in misdirected study. He said, "Till at last, being by my sickness cast far from home, where I had no book but my Bible, I set to study the truth from thence, and so, by the blessing of God, discovered more in one week than I had done before in seventeen years' reading, hearing, and wrangling."

We must beware of the temptation to replace …

More from the Swagger Wagon Family

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Swagger Wagon video - Love This

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Quit Trying to be Perfect

Thanks Justin.
To the pastors who are reading this, many of you are weary and burdened. You think you have to be perfect. Perhaps, like me, that has driven you your entire life. You think your people expect you to be perfect. And, though you don’t think this theologically, in your heart you just might live by the lie that you must do all things perfectly in order for God to be happy with you.Pastors, quit trying to be perfect and let Jesus love you.Your Father knew all about your sin, flaws, wounds, and baggage when he called you to shepherd his sheep. Jesus doesn't demand your perfect performance, he summons you to find rest in his perfect love for you, and to let that deep, deep acceptance be what drives and transforms your ministry.Being a pastor is a great joy, but it’s also really hard. You can spend the next 30 years as a weary, fake, trying-hard-to-be-perfect-for-Jesus-and-my-church pastor. Or, you can quit trying to be perfect and let Jesus love you, and you can watch how t…

10 Mistakes Church Websites Commonly Make

I've been visiting a lot of church websites recently and I can't say  I have been overly impressed.  Developing a great website is difficult and it can be expensive, but websites are the new 'front door' for many church visitors, and if your virtual front door is ugly and outdated people may never visit your real one.

The following are 10 mistakes (IMHO) that I see commonly on church websites:

1. Designed by someone in 1990.
2. Too many clip-art doves and angels floating as background images.
3. No pictures or information about the pastors.
4. No media.  No podcasts, service videos, welcome videos.
5. Large Google maps to the building on the homepage.
6. Horrific color schemes - like pink and teal and light blue.
7. Dead links.
8. Outdated information - like promoting events from 3 months ago.
9. Way too many expanding links.
10. Too much information.  Not simplistic.

Ask God Specifically in Your Prayers

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)

Lately, as I share my job search with people, I keep hearing the same theme in their responses.  The theme is 'ask specifically.'  No one has said that God will give me exactly what I want, but rather, I should be bold enough to speak my desires to the Lord.  That is part of a good relationship isn't it?  Think if your children never asked for a specific Christmas or birthday present.  Isn't part of the joy at those moments watching your kids open up a gift and find the exact thing they asked for.

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good …

Dear Christian: Don't Let Sexual Sin Kill Your Dreams

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Funny Izzy Quote #6729

Tonight my daughter had trouble completing a small clean-up task that I asked of her and so she was told she'd be receiving a consequence for her choice after her friend went home. 
Later in the evening Izzy said, "Dad, remember I am getting a consequence?" 

To which I replied, "Yup in a little bit and you are not going to like it." 

Then Izzy said (with shoulders slouched), "I know what my consequence is.  You said I am not going to like it, so I know that my consequence is cleaning my room." 

"Exactly right," I answered while trying not to bust out laughing.Isabelle is so funny and smart.  She makes me laugh and smile everyday with her wittiness and reasoning skills.  I have to stay on guard all the time or she will catch me on a technicality or loophole she finds in everything.

Reformed Theology Resources

Over the last five years my life has changed dramatically.  Not suprisingly my theology has changed some as well.  Life experience tends to shape us and inform how we understand God and the Bible.  This isn't always good, because sometimes we give too much weight to our experiences/feelings and we blatantly ignore or misinterpret the Bible to say what we are wanting it to say.  However, when life makes us press into faith and really examine what the Bible says about something there is a real opportunity to mature and grow and change. 

This is the type of theological shift I have experienced.  I have looked more deeply into the teachings of Scripture and tried to build as comprehensive an understanding as possible as it relates to what the Bible teaches regarding who God is and how he interacts with human beings and the world.  This looking into the Bible has brought me to a place of affirmation for what is tradionally known as Reformed Theology, and more popularily (or unpopularil…

How I Talk to God

Last week I posted about making space to hear God speak to you. Listening to God is difficult for me because I am such an action oriented person. When I enter into prayer I often rush through all my prayers, finish what I have to say, and head off to the next thing. That kind of attitude in prayer doesn't leave any room for God to speak.

The times that I have heard from God are the times that I have sat quietly and waited. I have never heard an audible voice. Instead when God speaks it is usually a voice I hear I in my mind. Try this: close your eyes and say I want a cheeseburger without talking out loud. Can you hear yourself talking in your mind? That is how I hear God. Only I don't have to create the words. Jesus speaks and I recognize his voice. It is a loving, kind voice. It is a voice that speaks the truth of the Bible and never contradicts the Bible. That is how you can test if it is you or God (or an enemy of God) speaking. Check the Bible. God always spe…

Martin Luther King Jr.,

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail is a rich resource for understanding the civil rights struggle. As I read it this morning I was struck by the depth of King's thoughts, the breadth of King's quotes, the soundness of King's reasoning, the pointedness of King's rebukes, and resoluteness of King's convictions. His words on the failure of 'moderate whites' and 'the church' to stand up for blacks and inject themselves into the struggle are convicting and true. I believe their is still much reconciliation to be done, and both moderate whites and the church still have a large role to play in bringing true equality for all races to America.

On the call for King's follower's no to protest and to let equality come naturally...
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was &qu…

You Have to Make Space to Listen if You Want to Hear

As a Christian who believes Jesus is alive and actively involved in my life, I was feeling frustrated recently about the lack of input I was getting from Him regarding some situations in my life. When I was complaining to my wife about it, instead of being encouraging she totally busted on me with a simple truth.

Our conversation went something like this:
Me: "You know if God promises to send his Holy Spirit to us to guide us and speak to us, how come I'm not hearing more from him as I make all these decisions about our future?"

Stephanie: "Didn't you go to a retreat last summer about hearing God?"

Me: "Yeah I did."

Stephanie: "What did they teach you."

Me: "That I need to be quiet and make space to ask God to speak to me and then to listen."

Stephanie: "So, are you asking him to speak to you?"

Me: "No. Dang it."When I'm feeling the pressure of my circumstances the last thing I want to do is be quiet and liste…

Dumb Mistakes Job Seekers make

I have been looking for a new job for the last three weeks and have spent many hours searching websites, filling out applications and emailing resumes to companies. I can tell you from experience that getting an interview is tough.

According to a recent article from Kare 11, even people who get interviews are not fairing so well. Although it seems to be more about what candidates are doing to undermine their own opportunities.
A new CareerBuilder survey found that some job seekers are not leaving employers with the best impressions. In fact, 71 percent of hiring managers said the most common mistake candidates made was answering their cell phones or texting during the interview. Also topping the list was dressing inappropriately or appearing disinterested or arrogant. Dear potential employers who may stop by my blog - I promise I will do none of the above if you have me into your office for an interview.

Boys and Boogers

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My boys are disgusting.

We had a boys weekend last weekend and while we where driving in the car my 4 year old says, "Boogers taste good." Of course I immediately told him no they are not and he should not be eating them. He passionately replied, "Yes they are good. I always eat my boogers. They are good right Jacob." To which my seven year old says, "Yup. I eat em at school when my teacher isn't looking."

What the heck! That is absolutely rude. Why do they do it? And how do I get them to stop?

International Falls Covenant Church - Resolved (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

Funny Izzy Quote

Izzy's kindergarten teacher told my wife Stephanie on Thursday that earlier in class that day they were working on making words that start with the letter N and someone said - "Nip." The kids all asked what that was, and Ms. M explained it means you get bit by something. So Izzy said, very excitedly, “Yea, like this morning, the bunny in my mom’s room- it nippled me.”

Dang that girl is funny!

Scott Hodge on 'Leaving Your Church'

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I got this picture of Scott Hodge's blog. He is running an insightful series of posts about 'leaving' churches and going elsewhere. Check it out, here.

10 Things I'm Looking Forward to in Heaven

1. No more laundry
2. No more fighting children
3. No more annoying bugs
4. No more pulling ice chunks from the gutter
5. No more broken down cars
6. No more vacuuming or dusting
7. No more kids being left out
8. No more trying to impress others
9. No more being overweight
10. No more NBA highlights dominating Sportscenter

Awesome Sidney Crosby Video - Watch What The Net Does

Elephant Room

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This looks like a really cool event being put together by my friend Ben Arment and others. There is a simulcast site in Minnesota if you are interesting in attending. The event is called Elephant Room, and it is a day of passionate pastors with different styles getting together to have some frank discussions about their different approaches to ministry.

2011 Goals

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time. - author unknown

On the following list are some personal goals I have set for 2011. However, all of these things will not be possible without the Lord's hand on my life. Therefore I have two goals that supersede all others: 1) Live for God's glory in all I say and do; 2) Live full of faith in the promises of Scripture.

Goals for 2011
1. Read 30 books.
2. Take my family on a weekend camping trip.
3. Read through the entire Bible.
4. Run another marathon.
5. Hike to the top of the a mountain.
6. Buy something for my wife that she really wants, and doesn't expect.
7. Get in a small group.
8. Shoot a round of golf under 85.
9. Lose 30 lbs.
10. Get a new job.

Some tweets to remember in terms of goal setting and accomplishing.
- @: For 2011: Think Abundantly. Plan Intentionally. Execute Consistently. Celebrate Frequently. // BRILLIANT
- @Jarrettstevens: When it comes to Resolutions it's always Who before Why before How
- …

Waseca Congregational Church - Faith for a New Year (Mark 5:21-43)