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Showing posts from May, 2013

10 Characteristics of a Christian Athlete

10 Characteristics of a Christian Athlete

1.  Recognizes and gives glory to God, not self, for all success and struggles
2.  Displays honor and respect and submission to all authority figures involved, including coaches and referees
3.  Does their best to follow all the rules and play within the integrity of the sport
4.  Serves teammates and coaches by playing their assigned role humbly, helping teammates, and working to contribute to the success of teammates
5.  Understands that doing their best and displaying Godly character is far more important that winning or losing
6.  Displays gratefulness and thankfulness to teammates for their role in successes, and takes personal responsibility for errors
7.  Has an attitude of joy and encouragement no matter the situation showing gratefulness to God for the gift of sports and their participation in sports
8.  Understands contentment in the equipment they have and is not greedy for all the newest and greatest things
9.  Takes positive feedb…

Isabelle is Aiming Higher

Received this email last week from my daughter's school: I wanted to let you know that your child has been working very hard in school, and it has been noticed! Each month, staff members are submitting names of students who are "Aiming Higher" and from those names, we are drawing 2 students to have lunch with the principal.

During April, the following students were the lucky ones who were drawn to join me for lunch: Izzy Balvin for working to be a peace maker and XXXXX XXXXXX for always being patient and easy going, a good person to be around.  CONGRATULATIONS!

We will have lunch on Wednesday, May 29 in my office, and the kids will be able to choose between Subway and Culver's.

Again, congratulations to you, as parents, for working hard to raise wonderful children! So happy for Isabelle!  She is a wonderful little girl, and she has worked very hard this spring to overcome some difficult circumstances surrounding a classmate.  Way to go Izzy!

What You Need to Know to Eliminate Your Love of the World

I am in a major cleaning/purging mood right now.  I've gone through most of the lower level of the house, and today I started on a few things in my bedroom.  Maybe tomorrow I'll hit the basement (if you want any Christian/church ministry books popular between 2002 and 2007 come on over!).

I found a piece of paper in my nightstand with some notes I had written down.  I don't know if I came up with this or if I heard it somewhere, but I think it is beneficial stuff to consider.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. - 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)Worldliness (love of the world) is an attitude sin, not an action sin ------->

Our attitude is a way …

Dealing with People on the Fringe - What Faith Demands Regarding Friendship with "Nerds"

When I was a youth Pastor there was always a kid in my youth ministry who just didn't fit in with anybody in his/her peer group.  Usually he wasn't athletic, or real smart, or very aware of social nuances and norms.  So, what would happen is the kid would end up attached to me for most of the night.  His peers would poke fun of him, or worse, totally ignore him.  Not the Youth Pastor.  I was paid to show equal care and concern for every kid in the ministry, even the ones who talk about Star Wars endlessly and answer the question what's up with, "the ceiling."

Now that I'm not in full time ministry any longer I don't have the same obligation to pay the fringe people any special attention.  But here's the weird thing, they still find me every where.  Maybe they don't find me, as much as my eyes are more open to their social fragility and I show them the compassion that others don't.  I don't know what it is, I just know that I can spot the k…

What I Learned Taking Jacob to the Red Sox Game

A couple weeks ago I took Jacob to a ball game at Target Field between the MN Twins and the Boston Red Sox.  Being Red Sox fans Jacob and I had a blast watching them beat the Twins 12-5.  We even got to see one of our favorite players, David Ortiz, hit two home runs.  Now that I've reflected a little I've realized that I crossed a new boundary of maturity.  Here's why.  Despite the fact that it was a beautiful night, and the food was good, and the seats were great, and Jesus' favorite team was victorious, despite all that, my favorite part of the night was being with my son.  We enjoyed one another so much as we talked, walked, ate, watched, cheered, discussed, hugged, laughed, and spent time with one another.  Plus I had multiple opportunities to instruct him in the faith (i.e. walking by the stripper place on the way back to the car and telling him about Jesus desire for our sexuality and purity).    The time together and the memories we'll both carry with us are…

How My Faith Makes Me Different

Do you ever find yourself struggling with the thought, "How does my faith in Christ make me any different than anyone else?"

There are all kinds of scenarios that this thought can be related to,

Finances - Many people far from God make more money that Christians.  Many Christians are broke, in debt, struggling to meet basic needs, feeling overwhelmed financially.

Parenting - Many people far from God have wonderful, amazing children.  Many Christians have kids who are wild, sassy, struggle in school, have bad relationships with their peers, and who seem out of control.

Health - Many people far from God go through life with very few medical problems.  Many Christians are overweight, sick, struggling with allergies, have accidents, and battle addiction, depression and anxiety.

Marriage - Many people far from God have fantastic marriages.  Many Christians have marriages that fail, where abuse occurs, where communication lacks, and where joy is hard to find.

Career- Many people far f…

Unity is Like Dew from Heaven

At the end of Psalm 133 the authors describes the result of unity as, “the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!” I don’t really have any idea what that means, but one really smart, dead guy named John Gill did. He wrote,  the dew fell in great plenty {from the mountain}; and {it} is here compared, because it comes from God in heaven, as the dew does. {the dew from heaven}, because of its gentle nature, makes men pure, and peaceable, and gentle, and easy to be entreated; as the dew falls gently in a temperate and moderate air, not in stormy and blustering weather: and because of its cooling nature; it allays the heats and animosities in the minds of men; and because it makes the saints fruitful, and to grow and increase in good works;

There is Constant Delight for Those Who Live in Unity

I am preaching on Sunday about unity among parents in the home, and I found this quote from Matthew Henry that I think is amazing.  Sadly it didn't escape the sermon prep editing floor, but I wanted to preserve it here.  It is from a commentary on Psalm 133.
We cannot say too much,{.......}, to persuade people to live together in peace. It is good for us, for our honour and comfort; and brings constant delight to those who live in unity. The pleasantness of this is likened to the holy anointing oil. This is the fruit of the Spirit, the proof of our union with Christ, and adorns his gospel. It is profitable as well as pleasing; it brings blessings numerous as the drops of dew. It cools the scorching heat of men's passions, as the dews cool the air and refresh the earth. It moistens the heart, and makes it fit to receive the good seed of the word, and to make it fruitful. See the proof of the excellency of brotherly love: where brethren dwell together in unity, the Lord commands…

3 Things I Look for in Great Associates

As a manager I am constantly on the look out for great people with potential. One the primary things I am always looking for is a great attitude, the kind that is always saying "sure thing boss" and then following that up with reliable execution. Attitude matters as much, and sometimes more than, ability. I have had many people work for me who are great workers with excellent knowledge about the process, but I won't promote them because they don't get along with others, they wander too much, they need too many reminders to do the little things correctly, or they complain and argue about everything. These kind of behaviors will kill a team.

Another big thing I look for is someone who will be a supporter of the store processes. Many times people in corporate offices will roll process changes out that retail stores are expected to execute, even if they don't agree with them. Associates who jump on board and support the change positively are a breathe of fresh …

You Must be Honest

A few weeks ago I preached a sermon where I shared 5 lesson about life that can be taken from the adventure of climbing Mt Everest.  I blogged those five things here.  Someone asked me after the service if I would ever want to actually climb the mountain and I responded that, while I think it would be amazing, the time, talent and money it would take would make it a pretty difficult endeavor.

You know what I think is even more difficult than climbing Mt Everest?  I think one of the hardest things anyone ever does is in life is to be completely honest.  I'm talking about bare bones, all-in, its-ok-if-you-hate me honest.  There are many reasons why we never reach this level of honesty and transparency, some good and some bad.

The Good
- don't want to crush other people's spirits and feelings
- controlling the tongue before it does irreparable damage
- recognition that we may be wrong in our understanding
- our honesty is not relevant or not helpful
- subduing our pride

The B…

7 Things Christian Parents Should Teach Their Kids Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

Today the MN Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in MN.  The Governor will sign the bill tomorrow and it will go into affect in August 2013.  Many people are calling this a historic day as Minnesota will become the 12th state in the US to adopt such a law.  The bill passed the MN Senate with a vote of 37-30.

So, what do Christian parents say to their children who are wondering what this all means?  How do you Biblically prepare them for a future that will include meeting their friend Timmy's parents, Jim and Rick, at the all-school picnic?  What do you do to lay a foundation strong enough to support them at schools where the teacher talks about family and marriage and sex between homosexual partners?  These are questions that all parents need to think through immediately.  There is no time to waste; you can not just hope that everything will sort itself out.

While driving around town our kids have begun to notice the "Vote No" stickers on the backs of cars…

3 Marks of Obedient Children

After reading the book Shepherding a Child's Heart, I have been working really hard to stay calm in a trying parenting situation and help my children to see how their behavior is connected back to a heart issue.  My desire as a parent is to act as God's agent in guiding my children into a loving relationship with Him.  I don't want to raise little legalists who follow all the rules but don't understand why or how the behavior is tied to a heart that is in error.

One of the things I have been putting into practice from the book is working with my kids on the ideas that follow...

1.  I am put in charge of them by God for his purposes
2.  God tells me that I must teach them to obey
3.  If I don't, then I disobey God
4.  A life of obedience brings with it blessing and good things
5.  Their job is to honor and respect authority (their parents)
6.  Obedience looks like this: 1) act immediately, 2) without compliant, and 3) without back talk

There is so much more in the b…

The Benefits of Speaking Peace and Blessing

One of the concepts that I am learning to practice is the concept of speaking peace and blessing into my workplace and into my relationships.  The Bible says that the power of life and death is in the tongue, and so I want to make sure that what is coming out of my mouth is life giving in all situations.

It is so easy to be critical and to cut others down.  I am a very sarcastic person by nature and I have to work hard to speak kind and positive words when I am frustrated.  It takes a conscious effort to speak peace and blessing on people instead of finding their flaws or letting my negative emotions flow out of my mouth.

In practicing this concept I have seen my whole countenance change.  When I am searching for, and speaking out, good things, my body language changes and my demeanor improves.  My outlook on the situation shifts and I find more hope, more encouragement and more goodness in everyone and everything.  As the peace and blessing of Jesus flow out of my mouth, it is litera…

One Way I Connect with Jesus

I love to sit in the quiet of the morning, drink fresh warm coffee and do my Bible study and devotions.

Right now I have the window open and I'm listening to the chirping of the birds around the house and the honking of the geese off in the fields.  I hear the occasional car drive by, evidence of another person beginning their day.  Off in a tree somewhere close by a bird is repeating its call: "whoo-whooo."  The sun rises slowly and the sky fades from dark black to pastel pink and into a sunny blue.

In the mornings I feel at peace with the myself, the world and with God.

Just as not everyone likes waking up to enjoy coffee and the sunrise, so not everyone connects with God the same way.  That is ok.  There is no one right way for Bible reading and devotions.  The time of day varies for people.  The method varies with people.  The important thing is to take time each day to commune with your Creator.

I'm curious - how/when do you best connect with Jesus?


Lessons from Mt Everest

It would be great is life was all fun and easy and exciting like glissading down a mountain side.  However life is actually much more like climbing up the mountain.  It is difficult, painful, dangerous and exhilarating all wrapped up into one.
Last Sunday I preached at a church in Northfield and I shared some thoughts about this.  I compared lessons I've learned studying mountain climbing to lessons I've learned living life.  Here are the five things I talked about, along with some accompanying Bible verses.
1. You have to have a goal and you have to work hard towards achieving it, sometimes for a long time ---> Jer 29:10-14  2. You have to expect setbacks (injury, weather, enemies, catastrophe) and roll with them ----> 2 Cor 4:8-10  3. You have to push yourself beyond what you thought possible ----> Phil 4:13  4. In most cases, you need others to help you (guides, logistics, cheerleaders, friends, expedition leader) ----> Heb 10:15   5. You have to acknowledg…

Bringing Holiness to Completion

I read this verse a few weeks ago and I emailed it to myself so I wouldn't forget it. It has been rolling around in my mind ever since.

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." - 2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV

The idea of cleansing myself from 'every defilement of body and spirit' is both wonderful and discouraging.

Can I be honest? It is discouraging because I have a few defilements, and the idea of cleansing myself of all of them seems like it could be quite a bit of work. However, I don't want to appear before Jesus someday stinking like a wet dog who just finished rolling in a manure field, so I'm not content with just remaining the way I am.

Now, I'm not advocating ratcheting up the self-righteousness quotient in our lives. I don't think Paul would have said that kind of behavior is "step #1" in the process. A better, mor…

Friday: 20 Quick Thoughts

I love the Tragically Hip.Wish I could watch the NHL playoffs.  Wish I had cable.I need to start running again.Andrew needs to let me pull that tooth.Enjoying some new friendships with the Northfield Citizens Online where I'm a board member.Had a good week at work.Wish we could spend more time with the Toweys.Sad one of my pastors is leaving.  Glad to still have the other (and his family) around.NBA playoffs is lame.  Except I like the Heat.  Lebron.Thinking about how awesome a Tragically Hip show in Moose Jaw would be.It is hard raising a daughter.Marriage takes work, commitment, forgiveness and humility.I'm blessed to have people at work I can share prayer requests with.Crazy how rumors fly around work.  Like a high school sometimes.Love watching the passion of Alexander Ovechkin.I miss playing hockey.The Red Sox are playing some amazing baseball.Minnesota weather is crazy.I wish I didn't have to work weekends.I'm excited to preach at the Quarry and and Main Street M…

Let Me Wiggle That Tooth

My son Andrew has had a loose tooth for a couple weeks.  It is now a very lose tooth.  It is driving me crazy because he won't let me anywhere near his mouth to wiggle it or to try and pull it out.  The tooth is so loose that it is almost sticking straight out of his mouth.  I have even considered sneaking into his bedroom at night and yanking the thing out while he is sleeping.

It has been hard not to get upset with Andrew and his reluctance to let me pull the tooth.  I know it is not a big deal, and I keep reminding myself to chill out and let nature take its course, but something inside me still gets worked up when I sit next to him and watch him cover his mouth and shake his head no.  I want him to just relax, trust me that it isn't a big deal, and open his mouth so I can wiggle the dang thing.

Anybody have any good strategies for loosening up kids as it relates to their loose teeth?