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Showing posts from March, 2011

9 Steps for Goal Accomplishment

A friend sent me a link to an article by Heidi Halvorson called "9 Things Successful People Do Differently."  There are some helpful ideas in the article.
... decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.Here are the 9 things Halvorson suggests:

1. Get Specific
2. Seize the Moment to Act on Your Goals
3. Know Exactly How Far You Have Left to Go
4. Be a realistic Optimist
5. Focus on Getting Better Rather Than on Being Good
6. Have Grit
7. Build Your Willpower Muscle
8. Don't Tempt Fate
9. Focus on What You Will Do, Not What You Won't Do


*For more on using each of these strategies, check out Halvorson's book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals.

A Difficult, but Dead-On Word for Parents on Sacrifice

Justin Buzzard posted this quote today.  Hard word.  Good word.
The only way that your children will grow beyond their dependency into self-sufficient adults is for you to essentially abandon your own independence for twenty years or so…You can make the sacrifice, or they’re going to make the sacrifice. It’s them or you. Either you suffer temporarily and in a redemptive way, or they’re going to suffer tragically, in a wasteful and destructive way. -Tim Keller, King’s CrossIf by some amazing, God-ordained way you read my blog and live in the San Jose, CA area then you really need to check out the church Justin and his wife are planting called Garden City Church.  I've been following Justin via blog and Twitter for over 2 years and the guy is a solid, Jesus-loving pastor.  If we lived in San Jose Garden City Church is where we'd go.

The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt

On Thursday I was looking through the book racks at the Northfield library and my eyes landed on the book American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt.  I haven't read much history in the last 2 or 3 years and I was immediately interested in the book.  So far it is an interesting and informative narrative that balances the author's story telling ability with a large amount of historical writings.  I am learning all kinds of stuff I didn't know about American slavery in the New Orleans proper and the greater Louisiana territory.  The injustices suffered by Africans and blacks in the name of personal prosperity and national economic growth are tragic. 

What was really interesting was the author's mention of the Haitian slave revolt that brought the country of Haiti independence from the French during the time of Napoleon.  Before the revolt, on the backs and ultimately the lives of slaves, Haiti was an incredibly prosperous nation producing v…

Random Thoughts

- I wrote a praise song for our pre K - Grade 3 kids at church tonight.  I think they liked it.
- Been feeling emotionally and spiritually drained the last couple days.
- I'm seriously ready to go back to work.  BTW- did you see this report on the difference in unemployment rates among MN blacks and whites? MN is worst in the nation.  Crazy.
- Looking forward to Elephant Room next week thanks to the generosity of this guy.
- Picking up the house is a constant battle, same goes with the laundry.
- I was blessed to attend two Wild game this week.  Sunday was an 8-1 loss to Montreal, and Tuesday a 3-0 loss to Toronto.
- Lately I've been thinking about the spiritual significance and spiritual influences of dreams.
- I need to lose about 30 lbs.  That stinks.

Man-Up 20 Something Men!

I have a growing conviction that most young people come out of college drastically unprepared for real life.  College is largely an extension of adolescent life and an incubator of alcohol abuse, sexual exploration, atheism, left-wing political activism and an addiction to virtual life through Facebook and hours upon hours of video game mastery.  Life skills like budgeting, communication skills in relationships, integrity, investing wealth, reducing debt, and planning for your future are things that college passes right over.

What many students are left with after 4-5 years of college are huge debts, an entire collection of Halo games, little passion or plan for their careers, and a closet full of skeletons.  Maybe that's being over dramatic - I obviously don't know your life.  But from my observations I see increasing numbers of young men who spend their time at college 'living it up' without spending any time seriously developing a plan for their futures.  The amount…

The Danger of Walking in Darkness

Have ever stubbed your toe trying to walk in the dark?  I have done that so many times!  In fact, not too long ago I was lying in bed and I couldn’t remember if I had turned off all the lights downstairs and locked all the doors.  Have you ever done that?  I couldn’t get it out of my head so I got out of bed, and because the kids had just gone to sleep, I decided I’d just try and sneak quietly down the steps in the dark.  As I started going down the hallway all of a sudden, BAAM, I crashed into a pile of toys that were sitting in the hallway.  Honestly, I thought my heart was going to explode from the scare of the crash and from the scare of almost falling down the stairs!  Then I wondered if my wife had planted the toys to try and kill me!

Seriously though, walking in the dark is a dangerous thing to do because you can’t see the things that are trying, intentionally or not, to hurt you.  When I was 10 years old one of my responsibilities at home was to take out the garbage everyday af…

Some Thoughts About Choices

Everyday we are bombarded with choices.  Sometimes our choices are really easy (whether you wear a seat-belt), and sometimes they are really hard (to give away your virginity, to stand up to a bully).  Sometimes the choices we face are really big (who to date, what college), and sometimes they are small (what cd to listen to, what color fingernail polish).  

So here’s a question to consider when it comes to choices.  Who or what influences you to choose one thing instead of another?  All our choices are influenced by something.
Right now I am looking at changing jobs.  Deciding where to work is a major choice.  Maybe not for you guys, but when you’re my age and you have a family to think about there are all kinds of things that influence what I will choose.  I have to consider location, salary, work/life balance, job happiness, promotion potential, and many other things. 

There are all kinds of things that try to influence to choose one thing or another, and when it comes to deciding …

Why I Need Jesus...because Sometimes I Get Lonely

Wednesday night I had the chance to speak to the youth ministry students at 1st Baptist Church in Minneapolis.  I spoke on the topic "Why I Need Jesus..." and I specifically focused on our need for Jesus when we feel lonely. 

Loneliness is a very real emotion for teenage students.  The pressure of wanting to fit in with their peers is great, and what too often happens is students compromise their faith beliefs in order to feel accepted and avoid loneliness.  I wanted the students to hear that Jesus accepts them exactly the way they are, without need or pressure to compromise.  Jesus loves us so much, just as we are, that he sacrificially died on a cross for us.  There is nothing we do to earn or to keep God's love.

The antidote to loneliness lies in 2 acts of the human will:
1.  Begin a real relationship with Jesus Christ
2.  Build your life on his acceptance of you, not on the acceptance of other

This a message that we as adults need to hear as well.  We seek the accept…

Happy Birthday Stephanie - Nice Haircut!

Today is my wife's birthday.  Happy birthday sweetheart!  I love you.  PS...I love you new hair cut.

Andrew Batman Balvin

I've been blessed to spend a large amount of time with my son Andrew during the last 3 months.  We have enjoyed doing all kinds of activities together like going to Toddler Tuesday at the Mall of America, lunch at McDonald's play land, trips to the library, and lots and lots of wrestling.

Andrew is a high energy, always on-the-go kid who loves to be physical, takes on challenges, and be aggressive.  However, he is also cuddly, a good talker, and a smart little bugger.

Here is a candid picture of Andrew playing Batman.

11 Strategies to Save a Dying Church

My friend Chris posted an article on his blog written by Bill Easum called "A Hail Mary Strategy for Turnaround."  In the article Easum lays out 11 things he thinks small churches must to do avoid dying out.  Here's a taste of his thinking:
Find a way to have a full time pastor/planter who will commit for three years . I know you can’t afford this at the moment but you must find a way or you will continue to decline. A part time pastor does not have the time to do all that is necessary to restart a church.

Develop one or two signature ministries.  Churches with less than 300 in worship can only do one or two key ministries. I suggest one of these be a children’s ministry fashioned after Promise Land from Willow Creek. You will not be able to afford  to purchase it, but you can easily put your own program together once you understand the basics.There's a lot of advice in this article that will be beneficial for churches who are willing to die to themselves in or…

Making Memories

One of the reasons I blog is so that I can look back at my life and see the things I've done and thought about, books I've read, places I've gone, changes in the kids, etc., etc.  One thing I am trying to do in 2011 is spend more money on experiences and less money on things.  Experiences will last so much longer than things, because experiences never break, lose parts, or get lost.  They stay with you in times of joy and sorrow and shared experiences deepen relationships.  Some of the experiences we've had so far in 2011 include:

January
Boys trip to International Falls, MN

February
Mall of America Waterpark

March
5 Guys Burger and Fries (Rochester)
Stephanie/Izzy girl's shopping and dinner
Breakfast at McDonald's w/ Jacob
MN Wild Game w/ Aaron (v. Buffalo)
Boy's trip to Let's Play Hockey Expo
Staying up late watching High School Hockey Tournament
Rock n' Roll Revival (Stephanie/Izzy)

Other
- trips to MOA Toddler Tuesday 
- going to see Papa Craig&#…

I Don't Think We Need Unions, and I Think WI DFL Senators Acted Like Babies

I am not a big union guy.  I really don't see the point of unionizing with all of the worker's rights that have been passed into law, the crazy amount of political correctness swirling around everyone everywhere, the improvements in workplace safety regulations, and the ability of social media to alert the masses instantly to any corporate problems.  I my opinion unions do more to handcuff businesses and protect the wages and employment of poor workers than they do to help great workers get more benefits.

With all the noise unions make, and all the money they are able to shovel into democratic coffers I was surprised when I read this statistic on MSNBC.com:
Six to seven decades ago, more than one-third of all American workers were members of labor unions. That number has fallen to about 12 percent overall, with public employee unions left with the only real clout. Nearly 37 percent of public employees belong to a union. In the private sector only about 7.5 percent of worker…

Right Intentions Alone Don't Equate to Right Actions

Another quote from Jay Richards book,
. . . [H]aving the right intentions, being oriented in the right way, doesn’t take the place of doing things right. A pilot’s caring deeply for his passengers and wanting to land a plane safely are no substitute for his learning how to actually land plans safely. . . . I hope you already have a heart for the poor. Lots of Christians do. But do you have a mind for the poor? Unfortunately that’s in rather short supply. (p. 35) HT: Justin Taylor

Thinking Biblically About Ecomonics

A couple of good quotes from the book I am reading called Money, Greed and God by Jay W. Richards. 
No serious Christians writing about natural science would ignore the basic facts of chemistry and astronomy.  But too many Christian leaders feel free to ignore the basic facts of economics.

Thinking as a Christian doesn't mean we just slap some Bible verses on our economic views so they sound Biblical.  It means taking the core truths of faith and using them as a lens to cast new light on unexplored territory.

I Am Suffering. Are You?

I've been thinking about suffering today.

At church this morning I was told that some close friends of Stephanie and I recently experienced the unthinkable tragedy of delivering a full-term baby who had no heart beat.  I cannot even begin to imagine how horrific this is for them.  My heart and prayers go out to them in this time of loss, pain, and suffering.

Sadly, my friends are not the only people close to me going through a time of suffering.  Others experiencing suffering include:
- a friend fighting brain cancer
- a friend worried about high blood pressure
- a brother who has been sick for days
- a sister who longs for a fiance in another country
- my parents who endure being apart while my dad trucks over the road
- my wife and I dealing with my unemployment
- a family at church with child issuesAs much as we would like to avoid suffering, it is something which is very real in everyone's life.  If you are not suffering right now then praise God and build a solid faith f…

Book Review: Bringing Jon Home

Bringing Jon Home is the story of a family working with all available resources, and with a lack of governmental support, to find the body of their son who disappeared after summiting Grand Mogul, a mountain in Sawtooth Mountain Range of central Idaho in 2006.  The story of written by David Francis, the father of Jon, who was 24 when he disappeared.


Francis writing is filled with emotion.  While reading the story it is like you are sitting with a father who is still processing the loss of a child, explaining his frustration with local and state law enforcement, and sharing with you his hope to use his tragic experience for good somewhere down the road.

There are many parties involved with the search for Jon Francis, some painted in favorable light and other not so favorably.  That is one of the things I liked about the story.  In a politically correct world, the fact that David Francis put his frustration and disagreement with people down in his book is courageous and refreshingly hon…

Daddy Daughter Dance 2011

This picture is from the Northfield YMCA Daddy Daughter Dance a few weeks ago.  It was a fun night for Izzy and I.  We started our date by going to Hogan Brothers for subs and soup.  Then we went to the dance.  We had a blast learning some dance moves, doing some crafts, and eating snacks. 


Here's a neat part of the story.  Earlier in the week I had decided not to go to the event because we didn't have the extra money for tickets and a babysitter for the other kids.  I prayed all week asking the Lord to provide money.  On Friday Stephanie received an unexpected card and some gift certificates from her students at school.  The dance tickets were $26 and the gift certificates were $25!  How cool is that!

Then on Saturday afternoon I got a call from my neighbor.  He was bringing his daughter to the dance and he said he wanted to bless us by covering our sitter costs that night.  Man, God is so good!