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Showing posts from January, 2012

I Don't Need to Defend My Doctrine to Everyone, All the Time

I like this statement from Pastor James MacDonald.  It is the statement of a pastor who is secure in his beliefs and who has grown over many years having come to an understanding that you'll always have critics, and that you don't always need to be defending yourself or picking fights.
I have been preaching the Word of God verse-by-verse for almost 30 years, and my teaching has gone further in every form than I ever dreamed. I don’t need to prove my orthodoxy in every conversation or press every dialogue to the breaking point, in fear of failing to evidence my own fidelity to Scripture. I've been around people who haven't learned this.  I've probably been the guy who always has to frame things around his own theology.  These are dumb battles to fight.  In college I saw many relationships go south when people felt that they had to defend their doctrinal stances.

Be who you are.  Belief what God puts into your heart (as long as it is your most faithful interpretation…

I Don't Just Sell Stuff

God has gifted you and placed you where you are for a reason; minister right where you are.

I work in the retail environment.  Some days I get caught thinking that my job is a drag.  Each day brings the same drama and challenges of working with people and 'selling stuff.'  I need to remember that God has placed me where I am for a purpose, and that there are people all around me who need the love of Jesus in their lives.

Here's a brief list of some of the pain the people around me are facing:

- single mom who son is often sick
- mother whose daughter has an incurable skin disease that causes intense pain
- parents whose daughter is teen suicidal and on many medications
- multiple women whose spouse/boyfriend abuses them
- 18 year old raising her sister's 4 year old
- more than one person with "serious" problems at home
- mom of 2 whose boyfriend won't help care for the kids
- a guy with heart problems

And the list goes on and on.  My job isn't just se…

The Cathedrals of the Underground Church

Is the Underground Church really a church?  Where do they meet?  Who is in charge?  Do they have the funds, building, education, training necessary to be a church?

In his book Tortured for Christ Richard Wurmbrand writes,
Men with such ordination [men who said they were ordained by the Holy Spirit], who have never had any theological training and who very often know little of the Bible, carry on the work of Christ.  It is like the Church in the first centuries.  What seminaries did those who turned the world upside-down for Christ attend?  Did they all know how to read?  And from where did they receive Bibles?  God spoke to them.  We of the Underground Church have no cathedrals.  But is any cathedral more beautiful than the sky of heaven to which we looked when we gathered secretly in forests?  The chirping of the birds took the place of the organ.  The fragrance of the flowers was our incense.  And the shabby suit of the martyr recently freed from prison was much more impressive than…

When One Part of the Body Suffers - the Whole Body Suffers

More from Tortured for Christ,
When I was beaten on the bottom of the feet, my tongue cried.  Why did my tongue cry?  It was not beaten.  It cried because the tongue and feet are both part of the same body.  And you free Christians are part of the same Body of Christ that is now beaten in prisons in restricted nations, that even now gives martyrs for Christ.  Can you not feel our pain?  While the Lord Jesus Christ agonized in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter, James, and John were a mere stone's throw away from the greatest drama in history - but they were deep in sleep.  How much of your own Christian concern and giving is directed toward the relief of the martyr church?  Our brethren there, alone and without help, are waging the greatest, most courageous battle of the twentieth century, equal to the heroism, courage, and dedication of the early Church.  And the free Church sleeps on, oblivious to their struggle and agony, just as Peter, James and John slept in the moment…

Strive to be, only, a Christlike Christian

Words from a letter smuggled out of the Underground Church quoted in Tortured for Christ, by Richard Wurmbrand.
We don't pray to be better Christians, but that we may be the only kind of Christians God means us to be: Christlike Christians, that is, Christians who bear willingly the cross for God's glory. * For more resources and information about persecuted Christians and the Underground Church visit Voice of the Martyrs (persecution.com).

The Void in the Human Heart is Filled by Christ Alone

I'm reading the book Tortured for Christ.  It is the autobiography of Richard Wurmbrand, a Christian of Jewish descent who suffered horrifically in Romania prisons under a Communist regime in the 50 and 60's.

Wurmbrand was released after 14 years of imprisonment for refusing to stop declaring the Word of God and preaching the love and salvation found in Christ alone.  Wurmbrand tells of terrible suffering in Communist prisons, more importantly, he writes to open the eyes of Western Christians to the torture and perseverance in the faith of those under severe persecution around the world. 
I found this quotation compelling.  Wurmbrand writes about the great opportunity to preach the Gospel to those who have not yet encountered Christ, and yet maintain an emptiness in their hearts.
There is a void in the hearts of the Communists.  This void can be filled by Christ alone.  The human heart by nature seeks after God.  There is a spiritual vacuum in every man until it is filled by…

2012 Goals

I haven't finalized my list of goals for 2012, but here are some things that I hope to accomplish this year.

Activities:

1. Read 24 books
2. Take Jacob to Red Sox game in Kansas City, MO
3. Take the kids on a camping trip
4. Hike up Pike's Peak
5. Run another marathon
6. Something special for my 10 year wedding anniversary
7. Pay off 3 debts
8. Get down to 190 lbs (current weight 210)
9. Paint some rooms in our house
10. Shoot my first pheasant

Some general behavioral things I'm working on:

1. More patient
2. More generous
3. More friendly

As a parent:

1. Teaching my kids the Bible
2. Meal times more intentional as a family
3. No yelling
4. Praying with the kids
5. Volunteer event as a family
6. Involved in their activities

As a husband:

1. More generous
2. More gracious
3. More gentleness
4. More dates
5. More listening
6. More serving
7. More fun

As a Christian:

1. Be devoted to Jesus
2. Be authentic with others
3. Pursue holiness in all things
4. Serve my church and my …

Reflection After Preaching at Quarry Church

Last Sunday I had the privilege of preaching the sermon at Quarry Community Church in Monticello, MN.  The Quarry is the church that Stephanie and I helped plant in 2001 when I served as the Youth Pastor.  This was just the second time we have been back since we left 6 years ago, and the first time I have preached there since leaving.  It felt so good to be back, see the growth the church has experienced, and to reconnect with old friends.

The reason preaching at the Quarry meant so much to me is that it represented the closing of one chapter of my life and the opening of a new one.  That's because the last time I stood on stage at the Quarry was when I told the church I was resigning my position as Associate Pastor in order to focus on healing my marriage and my soul.  For the last six years I have been working hard to eliminate sinful patterns of thought and behavior from my life.  By God's grace I can say that I have walked in more freedom during the past year than I have …

His Kingdom, not Your Thingdom

Your time, talent, and treasure have been entrusted to you by God, not to dead end on you and your Thingdom, but rather to be invested in the building of God’s Kingdom.  A kingdom that grows through every act of kindness, through servant-hearted men and women who serve in all kinds of capacities, through people who give away their wealth proportionately to what they earn, through individuals who see small needs in the people around them and meet those needs without expectation of return, through people who build businesses to fund ministries, through people who open their homes in acts of hospitality, through people who serve on non-profit boards, who invest in the next generations as teachers and small groups leaders, through people who work to make their city great, through people who serve in armed forces and public services.  Through all sorts of men and women who lives have been captivated by Christ and who are committed to lives of generosity.

Driscoll and the Generosity of Jesus

Pastor Mark Driscoll put it like this,

Jesus was generous.  He was generous to become a human being.  He was generous to go to the cross and suffer and die to pay our debt of sin to God.  Three days later, he rose, conquering Satan’s sin and death, to give us the generous gift of God the Holy Spirit, to give us the generous gift of salvation, to give us the generous gift of eternal life. Jesus is the greatest, most generous giver who has ever given. And his greatest gift was himself as a substitute and sacrifice on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins. Our Jesus is generous. Our Jesus is gracious. Our Jesus is a giver.

Are You Robbing God?

*more info cut from the sermon I'm writing for Jan 15


Imagine with me that you invested some of your money with an investment company hoping for a gainful return and after a few months you found out that the broker you were dealing with took your both your invest and your earnings and started using them like they were his own.  Instead of putting it in high performing stocks, he was using the money for betting on the Vikings (which of course was like giving it away), eating at Manny’s Steakhouse and all kinds of other self-serving pleasures.  

Wouldn’t you be indignant?  Wouldn’t you say, “I need a lawyer.  I’ve been duped.  I trusted that guy to be wise with the resources I gave him, and he’s squandering it all.  I’m getting robbed!”  Wouldn’t you say that?  

That, in fact, is what God says about you and I.  In Malachi 3:8-9 the Lords says through the prophet Malachi, “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. …

Book Review - The Ledge

Yesterday I finished book #1 of 2012.  It is a mountaineering book called The Ledge, written by Jim Davidson and Ken Vaughan.  The Ledge tells the story of Jim Davidson's climb of Mt. Rainer, June 1992.  The glory of the summit was soon tarnished by the death of Davidson's friend Mike Price after both men plummeted through a soft snow bridge down into the depths of an ice crevasse during the descent.  The high point of the book is the detail of Davidson's amazing climb for survival 80 feet up nearly vertical ice with minimal equipment.

In the beginning of the book Davidson details some of his experience's working for his father's painting company, and how those times shaped and influenced him as a man.  He also shares the story of who Mike Price was and how the two of them became such great climbing friends.  The end of the book contains a brief section explaining how he has since coped with survivor's guilt, the lessons he's learned since the climb, and h…

Generosity is an Idol Killing Act of Worship

*from the Generosity sermon cutting room floor....
What is worship?  Worship is ascribing worth to something and giving yourself to it.  It is proclaiming that something is to be valued, treasured.  Worship is taking something - and there are many different things that can be worshipped -and putting that “something” in the place of primary importance in your affections.  

In his book, The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren says of worship,

“If (your worship) is not to God, you will surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, to resentment, to fear, or to your own pride, lusts, or ego. You were designed to worship God and if you fail to worship Him, you will create other things (idols) to give your life to.”
Tim Keller points out that the great challenge of Christian living is to recognize and eliminate idols from our lives.  Now, very few people now days worship idols they way individuals did in the times of the Old Testament.  However, the practice of idol worship still…

strive to be thought well of by others

Be wise in what you say, and in what you do, because you never know how the image you are crafting of yourself may benefit/harm you in the future.

I had coffee this morning with a nice guy from Northfield and we were talking about blogs and engaging conversation through blog posts and comments, and he had a really insightful idea.  He said that his local hometown blog gets hundreds to thousands of visits each day and that while many people don't leave comments, lots of people read the comments left by others.  So, he said, make sure that when you leave comments you do so in such a way that even if people don't agree with all your opinions they can still feel comfortable working with you on issues and matters where you do agree.

I really liked that and it reminded me of one of the qualifications listed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:7 which says that a church elder should be someone who is well-thought of by people outside the faith community.  That is the end I try to wor…

Reaching the Summits of Life

I read this today in the book The Ledge, by Jim Davidson.  I think it has all kinds of applications to situations we find ourselves in life.
One day I would look back on this moment and realize that it encapsulated all that it means to climb, to push yourself in a way you might not normally imagine is possible.  That if your stamina, skill, and luck were sound, you would get to stand on top.  That if you weakened, your resolve faltered, or conditions worsened the summit would elude you.  I came to understand that respecting the landscape around me and knowing the landscape within me were both key.  If I was to wisely balance desire, risk, and self-preservation, I would have to expand my external skills and deepen my knowledge.  I would have to learn who I was, who my companions were, and what we were cable of achieving.  The challenge was harsh, the outcome uncertain, and the growth potential unlimited.

My Sermon from 1/1/2012

This is the sermon I preached last week at 1st Congregation Church in Waseca, MN.  The sermon is about holding God's Word near and dear in 2012.  The fuzziness goes away after the first 90 seconds.

<p><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/34443032">Sermon - Brenton Balvin - 2 Timothy 3:14-17 - Hold the Word Near and Dear this Year</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/cmeirose">C Meirose</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p></p>