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Showing posts from December, 2011

My Beautiful Kids!

15 Highlights from 2011

I am likely missing many, but here are 15 highlights from the last year.  They are NOT in any order of ranking:

1. Trip with Stephanie to Guatemala for my sister's wedding 2. The Mystery Trip with the kids to a hotel in St. Louis Park, MN 3. Riding a Greyhound to meet up with the family for summer vacation in Benton Harbor, MI 4. Playing in a FCA hockey league with my brother Jeff 5. Getting a new job as an Assistant Manager at Walmart 6. Completing a 6 years restoration journey with a group from the BGC and some good friends 7. Cheering Stephanie on at the Iron Girl Dualthon in Bloomington, MI 8. Going to three consecutive Twins v. Red Sox games 9. Preaching at churches in Waseca, Northfield, Blaine, International Falls, and Emily (all in MN) 10. Attending the Elephant Room conference with my friend Chris 11. Coaching Jacob's baseball team 12. Spending January through May as a SAHD with my youngest son Andrew 13. Going to Wild games versus the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Mont…

What is More Offensive: Pornography or A Woman Breastfeeding in Public?

WCCO News recently aired a Good Question segment about breastfeeding in public as a result of a Texas woman's nationwide call to for a "nurse-in" at Target stores after she said she was humiliated by Target employees.

The segment reminded me of a blog post I wrote in July 2006 (Pornography yes - Breastfeeding no - Are We Serious?) on the hypocrisy and idiocy of the fact that our nation accepts and promotes the normalcy and legitimacy of pornography, and yet demands nursing mothers sit in dirty bathrooms and closet spaces to feed their infants just so passerby's aren't exposed to the slightest embarrassment of having to see a sliver of a breast performing its most natural function.  Here's a quote:
Get this, the August 2006 edition ofBaby Talkmagazine recently raised some eyebrows by putting a close-up picture of a nursing baby on its cover (no nipple and some breast could be seen). Inside the magazine one article reported:A national survey of public beliefs a…

What Would You Say If....

Tonight I spoke with a woman who told me she is seriously considering leaving her husband.  She identifies herself as a Christian and says her husband is not.  There is no physical abuse but from what I can tell there is some level of emotional abuse/ emotional abandonment.  They have been married over ten years and the husband is not interested in attending any counseling.

I will share my response in a later post but I am curious about what you would say if you were in my shoes?

10 Favorite Books of 2011

1.Radical(David Platt)
Rethinking the American dream in relationship to the implications and commands of the Gospel.  Platt calls American Christians to look beyond material comforts and take the Great Commission more seriously.

2.Think(John Piper)
Piper encourages believers to think hard and interact with the Biblical text on a more intellectual level, not to beef up the brain but with the understanding that greater knowledge of God's Word and truth leads to greater worship.

3.Money, Greed, and God(Jay Richards)
Debunks the idea that capitalism, wealth creation, and money is inherently evil.  Clearly illustrate the inconstancies found in communist ideology, a hatred for money, and the idea that poverty equals godliness.

4.Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission(Darrin Patrick)
Pastors are called to be men who have a firm hold on doctrinal truth, a focus on the calling of God on their lives, and the ability to lead themselves, their families, and others.

5.American Assassin(Vinc…

Financial Peace Tip

Need to remember this...
Everything with a payment attached to it (other than your house) is draining your financial peace. Stop that from happening, and you'll sleep much better at night and have a bigger smile during the day. We promise.

What I'm Looking Forward to This Christmas

One more day of work until my two day Christmas break.  I can't wait to -

...laugh with family
...watch football
...eat too much
...watch my kids rip through presents
...find pleasure in getting a few new things
...ice skate on Christmas Eve (maybe a new tradition?)
...play board/card games
...spend time with Stephanie
...take a Christmas lights drive w/ the family

What are you looking forward to?

16 Christmas Tips for Dads (Mark Driscoll)

All these tips are from Pastor Mark Driscoll.
Dad needs...a plan for the holidays to ensure his family is loved and memories are made. Dad, what’s your plan? to check the local guides for what’s going on to make fun holiday plans for the family. In Seattle it’s here. to carve out time for sacred events and experiences to build family traditionsthat are fun and point to Jesus. Dad, is your calendar ready?

5 Ways Wives can Encourage Their Husbands (Jared Wilson)

Pastor Jared Wilson shares 5 ways wives can encourage their husbands*.

1. Praise him verbally
2. Submit to his leadership
3. Reject relational legalism
4. Take an interest
5. Make love to him

Put together these 5 tips paint the picture of a man who wants to be a leader, be encouraged and praised, feel secure in his faults, and have a wife who supports his interests and satisfies him physically/sexually.  I have never met a man who did not fit these characteristics.

I don't know how many wives/hope-to-be wives read my blog but I can assure you that if you want to attract and keep a man, read Jared's post and put these 5 things into play in your marriage consistently and for an extended time.

If you're not getting the most out of your husband here's some questions you can ask yourself.

- Does he feel belittled or nitpicked?
- Is he being allowed to lead his family?
- Does he feel like he needs to be perfect to be celebrated?
- Is past failure eating away his joy?
- Doe…

God's Word is Alive and Active

I was at Caribou yesterday morning dwelling on a few things that were bothering me and I opened up my Bible to read what God's Word might have to say about my situation.  When I did this I learned something very important  There is a remarkable power in the Bible to speak into the issues of your heart and reveal the foolishness of your thoughts.    Hebrews 4:12 says that the "Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Boy did I experience the truth of this text yesterday.  Reading God's Word forced me into a corner and left me with only two options: 1) Live and behave God's way, 2) Disbelieve / disobey and keep doing things my own way.  The truth of God's Word is so clear and penetrating.  When I sit in my own little thoughts I think I have answers, but when I open up the Bible the Holy Spirit is given ac…

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

It has been another long year.  You know that I spent the first six months without a job, and the second six months trying to get everything back in order.  You also know I took a little pay cut as a result of the transition. I know you're pretty busy with taking care of the wishes and wants of children around the world, but if you could just look through my list I'd appreciate it.

- new brakes for the van
- new brakes, passenger side mirror, and driver's side rear door handle for the car
- a new garage door
- paint for the inside walls of the house
- a front side walk that isn't cracked and sinking
- a finished basement the kids can play in
- payment on any number of debts (school loan, credit card, hospital bill)
- a little vacation time for my wife and I
- a riding lawn mower
*Forgot to mention a laptop or netbook so I can work at coffee shops.

I know its kind of an expensive list but nothing on it is real greedy, mostly just stuff that needs to be fixed…

10 Parenting Frustrations

My wife Stephanie created this list almost two years ago, and ironically it is still relevant to where we find ourselves today.
10. Repeating my directions 3 or more times, while elevating my voice levels before any action takes place.
9. Asking for something to eat, then eating 2 bites and wasting the rest.
8. Constant need to be entertained by me or something electronic
7. Pile up of coats, boots, shoes, hats and mittens all in the middle of my entry way.
6. Lack of cleaning up after their messes of toys, clothes, crafts, ANYTHING!
5. Always wanting what the other sibling has even if they haven't touched the thing for weeks
4. Random walk-by hit and runs with the hands or objects.
3. "What? what? what? I can't hear you, what? what?"
2. Always expecting everything to be "fair" between them. If one person has a friend over, they all want a friend over. If one person gets to choose a cartoon, then they all want to choose a cartoon, etc, etc, etc.
1. "I&…

The 3 Paths Man Has to Choose From

I came across this graphic today and it hit me that it is a great picture of the paths people choose to walk in life.

This individual is at a point in his journey where he can choose to go one of three directions.  The first direction he can go is to the left.  This is the path that leads to the destruction of life.  If this man goes down this path he will likely encounter addiction, violence, financial ruin, strained relationships, and great despair.  Those who go left usually end up unmarried, in jail, addicted, poor, or dead.

The second direction the man can go is straight ahead.  If he goes straight ahead he will be among the presence of many others traveling on the road.  He will likely go to college, build a career, try but avoid getting hooked on substances, marry, have some children, work for the weekend, accumulate many things he doesn't need and can't pay for, think going to church is a good idea but never devote much of his life to it, have friends but none that tr…

Family Christmas Photo 2011

Merry Christmas from the Balvin's 2011.

Why I Use X3 Accountability Software

Today I had the chance to tell someone about the free X3 software that I have on my mobile phone and home computer.  X3 is software that tracks your internet searches, YouTube key phrases, and web browser activity to help put up a fence around personal sexual purity.  The software then emails a list of questionable finds to a friend, spouse or accountability partner of your choice.

The person I was talking to wondered why I would want something like that.  I was happy to share that X3 helps me remain pure in how I use my phone and the internet, and it fights against the temptation to create a habit of secret sin in my life.  X3 makes it easier to invite another person into my life to pray for me and help keep me on track.

It is without question that sexual sin is one of the most prominent and destructive sins that the enemy of God uses to ruin people's lives.  Recently I have read about the horrors of sexual sin among sports coaches and leaders, politicians, local cases in my town…

Recovering Advent

My wife sent me a link to a website talking about the background and meaning of Advent.  I just scanned the page, but this section popped out to me.
Advent has fallen on hard times. For most people, it's become a time to get ready for whatever you're doing with family and friends on Christmas, and not a time to get ready for the Christ child. The bigger Christmas became, the more it swallowed up Advent. In fact, whatever Christmas-y thing we think of as being done before Christmas Day is actually done in Advent. In the US, everything after Thanksgiving is now seen as a part of Christmas. The main problem is not that Christmas intrudes on Advent or the other way around. The meaning of Advent is found in Christmas.  The real problem is that people no longer keep their Christmas focus on Christ, and then the Christless Christmas saps Christ from Advent. Practicing Advent as a religious season may help recover Christmas, but it can't do it by itself. If you don't look to J…

Faith Conversations With My Kids

Last night the kids and I drove down to Albert Lea, MN to watch Stephanie coach the Northfield Girls Basketball team.  Stephanie has been a coach with the team for the last five years and the kids and I absolutely love going to games, cheering on Stephanie and the girls, and playing around in the different schools.  Some of the girls have been playing on Stephanie's teams for all five years now and it has been really cool to watch them grow.

However, the real highlight last night (along with a 61-40 NHS win) was the conversation I had with the kids during the hour long drive home.  I had a cool opportunity to talk about Christian faith things with my kids.  They were asking me questions about Christmas, Jesus, Satan, heaven, hell, angels, and all other sorts of topics.  I was grateful to God that his Holy Spirit was stirring the hearts and minds of my kids.  I was challenged to answer their questions in words they could understand and I pray that I planted seeds of faith (1 Cor. 3…

6 Ways to Help Your Boys Become Men

Desiring God shared a list of 6 components for helping boys become men. 1.  Knowledge of the contents of the Bible.
2.  Memorization of selected verses and passages of the Bible.
3.  Knowledge of the major teachings of the Bible (doctrine).
4.  Personal piety.
5.  Projects of service and mercy. Serving the church; serving the needy.
6.  Wisdom in dealing with various spheres of life This list comes from an article written by Vern Poythress.  You can read the entire article for additional clarification and insight.  I have read the article, forwarded it to my wife, and hope to put some of the practices into place in our home.
Raising my boys to be men is an area of life where I never feel like I am doing enough.  Guilty feelings never seem far from me regarding the time and effort I put into raising my boys.  I know what I want to do, but I feel like I am never doing enough.  
This is why it is so crucial that when I get down about my parenting that I focus and preach the Gospel to myse…

30 Ways to Be a Marketplace Minister

A common theme in the teaching at Rejoice Church is that the people of the church are called by God to transform this world for His glory by becoming marketplace ministers.

This post has 30 ways you can be a marketplace minister.  Some of my favorites include,
1. Instead of eating lunch alone, intentionally eat with other co-workers and learn their story.
3. Make it a daily priority to speak or write encouragement when someone does good work.
11. Make every effort to avoid gossip in the office. Be a voice of thanksgiving not complaining.
24. Invite your co-workers in to the service projects you are already involved in.
29. Keep small candy, gum, or little snacks around to offer to others during a long day.

Contentment Poem

J.C. Ryle: "Contentment is one of the rarest graces."

By his grace,
May I never have need nor want.
Sure in faith,
That he will provide all I need.
For my joy,
His gifts I will consume.
Resting assured,
That my true treasure is in him.