Showing posts from April, 2012

Making Memories - April 2012

- Kids w/ Papa and Nana Balvin at the Kelly Inn hotel and pool
- Kids go to Giggle, Giggle, Quack w/ Papa and Nana Balvin at Stages Theatre
- Dinner w/ friends at The King and I Thai restaurant
- Casting Crowns (w/ Matthew West) concert
- YMCA Healthy Kid's day
- Blizzards at DQ and watching Twins v. Red Sox game at Papa and Nana Ianfolla's
- Baseball season begins for Jacob (machine pitch on the Astro's) and Andrew (tee ball on the Red Sox)
- Dinner with new friends
- Destination Burger w/ men from Canvas Church
- Easter at Papa and Nana Balvin
- Izzy w/ 3 featured projects at the Northfield Art Guild studio
- Speaking to the Youth Ministry at First Baptist Church in Minneapolis
- Izzy starting gymnastics again on the advanced team
- Gospel coaching lunch in Fairbault
- Open gym at the Northfield Gymnastics Club
- Northfield YMCA swimming
- Ice cream at Costco

Today I Quit Quitting

There have been times in my life when I have faced adversity and challenge and I have worked hard to push through it and accomplish great things.  There have also been times when the going got tough and I packed it in and quit.  I've written before on how I have decided to stop playing the blame game, and this morning I'm announcing my resolution to quit quitting.

I don't know how it is possible, but quitting when things get hard seems to be a gene that can be passed on from one generation to the next.  What bothers me is that I see my two oldest children exhibiting some of the same tendencies that I am walking away from today.  My oldest son is a great swimmer and he was invited to join a local swim team, but after two weeks of working hard in the pool he no longer wanted to be on the team.  My daughter is a fantastic gymnast and was invited to be on a select gymnastics team, but after a few sessions on hard stretching and a little pain, she quit.
I've done enough ph…

Focus First on Blocking and Tackling

A couple years ago I worked for a guy who would say, "We have to learn how to block and tackle before we worry about running trick plays."  It was a reference to making sure you master the basics of what you're doing before you try to do anything extra special or outside the regular scope of responsibility.

You see this tendency in high school sports.  In hockey it might mean trying too many fancy moves or passes instead of just putting the puck on goal.  In basketball it might mean slashing through the lane for a tough lay-up instead of running the coach's called play.  No matter what you want to compare it to, mastering the basics first is the most important thing.  If you're not executing the basics, all the additional stuff you're doing doesn't matter nearly as much, and won't be done as well.
One of the reasons people ignore the basics and go for the "trick plays" is because they are in search of recognition or fame.  It's the tri…

Work on Your Wanter

This week I have been reading through a book called Our Favorite Sins: The Sins You Commit and How You Can Quit by Todd Hunter.  I'll give the book a complete review when I finish it, but I came across something that I wanted to share this morning.

In a chapter called Media Mary Hunter share an excuse that many people use in their battle against sin.  People say that they feel hopeless and powerless when they are facing temptation.  Like they just can't say no before giving in.  Hunter argues that this isn't true.  There is no temptation that is so compelling we must give in.  The reason we give in, is because, in the face of the temptation, there is nothing we want more than the sinful thing we are desiring.

Hunter chases it out like this.  Say you struggle with lying.  You just can't seem to tell the whole truth no matter how much you want to.  Well if someone held a knife to your throat and promised to hurt you if you told a lie, you'd be much more inclined to …

3 Questions from Tony Dungy

My brother sent me some notes he took while listening to Tony Dungy speak at Bethel University a few weeks ago.  Here's three questions Dungy posed that I think are worthwhile for all people to consider.

-How are you developing mentally? (what am I reading/learning)
[What am I doing to develop my mind and character?]

- How are you developing socially (who are your friends?) 
[Who am I spending my time with?  Are they making me better?  Holding me accountable?  Challenging me?]

- What are you doing to develop spiritually?
[What am I do to grow closer to the Lord and with other believers in the church?]

Hauling Rocks and Gospel Friendship

A friend of mine recently had a few tons of rock hauled in to do some landscaping around his house.  I stopped over unannounced one afternoon with a pair of work gloves hoping to offer a helping hand.  What ended up transpiring was a wonderful time of conversation, relaxation and a deepening of Gospel Friendship.

Because he had started moving rock hours before I arrived, we decided to take a break, grab some drinks and soak up some sun on his deck.  We ended up talking for over an hour, and our conversation was saturated almost the entire time with wisdom, encouragement, discernment, sharpening, honesty, confession, and grace.  What was really neat about the whole experience is that is was completely natural in the flow of our conversation.  Neither of us was forcing it, asking 'accountability' questions, or trying to make things more spiritual than necessary.  It was just two guys who love Jesus and care about the heart's of one another.
One of the key components to Gospe…

Enjoying the Sabbath

Today was my first Sunday off in almost a month.  I really enjoyed it.

Some of the highlights included...

- early morning coffee and quiet
- preaching to a group of students at First Baptist Church in Minneapolis
- playing baseball with Andrew and the neighbors
- holding the neighbors' baby
- watching the Red Sox game
- watching some hockey
- eating an amazing burger for dinner from Shamrock's
- meeting some great new guys and talking a little ministry

Discovering True Productivity

I am often tempted to think that every day I have off from work needs to be packed full of busyness.  I hate the feeling that I am not being productive with my time.  Unless there is sports on, I usually feel guilty about just sitting on a coach watching TV.  I'm not a super driven guy, which makes feelings of uneasiness about not being productive seem weird, but it is a true feeling nonetheless.

Maybe this feeling is due to years of school work followed by years of pastoral ministry where there always seem to be something that could be done.  A deadline to meet.  A paper to be written.  A sermon to prepare.  A person to go and visit.  Now that I'm not doing as many of those activities and I have more leisure time away from the marketplace, it has been hard to simply 'be' and enjoy my downtime.

This week I have been feeling much more at peace with the thought of not being 'productive.'  I have been reminding myself that house work and grocery shopping and going…

Quit Playing the Blame Game

You can always blame someone else for your faults, failures, and foo bars.  Or you can be honest about it, learn from it, and move on.

I'm discovering through the wise insight (and tough love) of someone close to me that I am pretty good at playing the blame game.  In my mind things that haven't gone my way in life are almost entirely because of other people.  Coaches who didn't play me enough, teachers who didn't make learning interesting, bosses and companies with no leadership or stupid rules, financial trouble because of how other people spend money.  My actions were because my needs weren't being met.

So.  I.  Would.  Quit.

I'm going to strive to get rid of that kind of attitude.  The Apostle Paul said when he was a child he thought like a child, but when he became a man he put away childish things.  Blaming others and quitting because I don't get my way is childish.

So it's time to bite the bullet.  Time to look in the mirror.  It's time to o…

Character is Made in the Most Mundane Choices

Integrity.  Trust.  Character.

Little words that take a long time to define a person, and require only an instant to be destroyed.

We all face many situations everyday that have the power to reinforce an attitude of integrity and a life of trustworthiness, or to ruin it.

A place I once worked had a saying, "Integrity is what you do when no one is looking."  I didn't always believe that.  I used to think that when no one was looking was when I could do what I wanted.

If no one sees, then no one gets hurt right?  Wrong.

If no human sees, God always sees.  Plus, every choice you make, seen or unseen, solidifies your character a little more.  In each decision you become more, or less, a person of integrity and trustworthiness.

I was at work stocking Easter candy yesterday and I found many bags that had been ripped open.  With each bag found I was tempted to pull out a jelly bean or two as a little snack.  A kind of reward for the hard work I was doing.  No one would know, an…

7 Mile Miracle - Matt Chandler Easter Sermon Jam

A great video from Matt Chandler regarding the theory that Jesus wasn't really dead after he was buried in the tomb.

10 Things You Want to Say, but Never Can, in Retail

1.  Did you really not expect some candy to be sold out when you're in shopping Easter Eve at 4pm?
2.  Yes, when it is raining the carts might be a little wet.
3.  Is the idea of needing a receipt in order to do a return a new concept for you?
4.  Sure, let me drop everything I'm doing and ignore every other customer in order to check in the back for more olives.
5.  I can't believe I don't know the location of every item in this store either.
6.  Why are you so upset? Does no one love you?  Would you like a hug?
7.  The "XX items or less sign" is really more of a suggestion than a rule here.
8.  Don't want it?  No problem, just dump it wherever you feel like.  I'll pick it up.
9.  We encourage messes here.  Let your kids play with everything.  Try on whatever you want and just through it back on the shelf.  The hanger is not necessary.
10.  If it is more convenient for you, you can leave your cart in the empty parking spot next to you.

How Gospel Friendship Improved My Marriage

A few weeks ago I met a brother from church for coffee.  Due to the busyness of our lives we hadn't spoken for a couple weeks and we wanted to catch up.  One of the things that happened during our conversation was this brother stepped up to challenge my thinking and behavior on some things.  While some tough love was given, it ended up being a very edifying and encouraging meeting.

During the course of the conversation I shared with him some frustrations I was feeling pertaining to the different ways Stephanie and I use our free time.  My brother spoke some convicting truths into my heart about loving my wife (Ephesians 5:25) and about the need to follow Christ's example of picking up our cross daily (Luke 9:23).  When I told him I thought watching TV was a waste of time he responded by saying, "So, spending time with your wife is a waste of time?"

Slap.  in.  the.  face.

Gospel friendships set aside the fluff and get to the heart of things.  Gospel friends share op…

Why Should Teachers Have the Summer Off?

You know what drives me crazy?  People who think teachers' lives are so easy and great simply because they don't have to work during the summer.

Let's start with the basic argument I hear all the time.  Teachers shouldn't complain about pay and hours because they have long vacations during the school year and then the entire summer off.

People who are married to teachers know that the previous statement is ridiculous.  Many teachers work extra jobs during the summer to help make ends meet.  Teachers who coach sports, lead music and art programs, run day camps, or teach summer school, spend a ton of time with students during the summer - at laughable hourly rates - while those kids' parents are away working "real jobs."

Additionally, a teacher's 'summer break' is actually very short.  In most districts the school year ends in early June, but teachers stay an extra week of two cleaning their classrooms.  Then they return again in early August…

The Story of Jeremy's Egg

Tonight at the kids church time I shared the story of Jeremy and his egg.  It is a story that the pastor at my church used to read every year on Easter Sunday as I was growing up.  It is a touching story; in fact, I barely held it together in front of a group of 1st-3rd graders as I read it tonight.

You can read Jeremy's story here.

My View of Women's Sports

My view of women's sports has changed quite a bit in the last five years.  I'm embarrassed to think about some of the stupid things I said as a high school and college student (Sorry bout that Em!). 
I think there are a host of reasons why I've had such a change of heart and mind.  Some of them include...

- watching my wife Stephanie coach high school basketball and getting to know the girls she coaches
- having friendships with multiple girls hockey coaches and watching their teams play
- having a daughter of my own
- growing up in my faith and understanding God's desire for his people
- maturing as a man and trying to get my worth from putting others down
- learning to find more happiness simply in the happiness of others

I'm at a point now where I have very little time for guys who want to bash women's sports.  Of course women's sports are very different than men's, but there are things to enjoy about watching both of them, and anyone who can't/d…

Marketplace Ministry "Loving the Unlovable"

One of the keys to doing marketplace ministry is asking God to give you a love for the people you work with.  Man this is tough sometimes.  People can be so doggone difficult.  They can be lazy, unreliable, argumentative, deceptive, gossipy, and flat out stupid.  How you handle these kind of people is a real sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.  The world's way of leadership writes people off and pushes them down.  Jesus Christ models a different way to lead.  The way of love and service.  Jesus wasn't a pushover, but he wasn't a 'push over' either.  He loved the unlovable and gave grace to the needy.  Lead like Him and your ministry in the marketplace will begin to flourish.