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Showing posts from August, 2013

The First Balvin Family Camping Trip

I grew up camping and I love doing it.  For the past three summers I have been talking about talking the kids camping.  The trouble is that something always seemed to come up, and then, all of a sudden, the summer was gone and with it the dream of camping died.  Well this summer I decided that enough is enough, and last week I made it happen.

The first Balvin Family Camping Trip.  

Because my wife is an avid indoors-woman, and because she was working hard all week to get her school classroom ready to be inhabited by a fresh batch 6th graders, on Wednesday I decided to get the kids out of town and go camping.  After doing some research I settled on Kiesler Campground in Waseca, MN.  Even though Kiesler isn't quite as rustic a camping purist would require, I made the choice because I wanted the kids to have a fun time camping and to leave with a positive taste in their mouth about the whole experience.  I am glad to say I succeeded in achieving that goal.

Kiesler Campground is just …

Pornography and Parenting

At the beginning of the summer Stephanie and I began to notice some things in the history of our Netflix and YouTube accounts that concerned us.  Some the videos the kids were watching were inappropriate and could be very damaging to their young minds.  Despite the fact that we have some sexual filters in place we were afraid that the kids had/were about to watch movies and videos that would expose them to pornography and other sexually persuasive images.  Stephanie and I talked about what we should do, and we put a plan in place.

Pornography is a major issue in the world right now.  It is mostly free, can be easily consumed in secret, and readily accessible to just about anyone.  Gone are the days when seeking and viewing pornography was considered gross and perverse; behaviors and images that were once taboo are now a regular part of television and video music award shows.  We're a long way from the days of I Love Lucy and husbands and wives sleeping in separate beds, nowadays e…

My New Job with Walmart - "Turn, Turn, Turn"

Right now you're probably thinking of the song by the Byrds, and humming "turn, turn, turn."  But did you know that thsse words actually come from the Bible in the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  These are very timely words for me.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. For the last year I have been the Fresh Grocery Manager at a Walmart store.  I helped op…

Minnesota State Fair Memories

A farmer and blogger who I follow on Twitter and Facebookposted some of her Fair memories last week.  Her post inspired me to jot down a few of my own MN State Fair memories.  BTW - the Fair begins today!

Here goes.

I haven't missed many MN State Fairs since I was a kid and I have some many great memories.  The food is always awesome every single year.  One year we got a bunch of free food from vendors that were closing at the same time as we were leaving!

The people watching there is always worth the price of admission.  Each year I go I run into friends I know from all different places in life.  I love collecting the free junk in the education building, sitting on the tractors at Machinery Hill, and walking through the animal barns.  Some random memories include...

- getting stung in the eye lid by a bee while I was enjoying my all you can drink milk
- being kicked off the grounds one year when my cousin was caught underage drinking in a parking lot (sorry Mom and Dad!)
- repre…

Jesus is your Boss, not your Buddy

I have been doing a lot of thinking on the relationship between Christian faith and everyday living.  The Bible is crystal clear on this topic.  There is to be a direct correlation between what we say we believe and what we do in our lives.  James says it explicitly in his letter multiple times.  Other New Testament writers also describe the indisputable connection between faith with works.  And yet, it seems to me, that modern day American Christianity is increasingly separating belief and behavior.  The Catholic Church has long been accused of this, but I increasingly see Protestant believers from many denominations following in the same footsteps.

One of the primary reasons, I think, that people are failing to live out their faith is that Christian faith is becoming increasingly marginalized and looked down upon by mainstream society and Christians feel scared and uncomfortable.  Many of the foundational Christian morals of the past are deemed out-dated.  If Christians live by a t…

Something Good We Can Learn from Alex Rodriguez

On Sunday I watched the Red Sox v. Yankees game with my son Jacob.  This great rivalry always provides some fantastic games and yesterday was no exception.  The game started with a bang early on when Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez in the back of the arm with a pitch.  It was a big moment at the beginning of the game because Rodriguez went on to score a run.

Alex Rodriguez is hated by many, many baseball fans.  People in every stadium he plays in chant "cheater" and boo loudly when he steps on the field.  Rodriguez has brought this on himself by lying about his use of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs).  Those choices have brought all kinds of consequences into his life, consequences that he will have to live with for the rest of his life.  He has ruined his reputation and tarnished a legacy of pretty amazing performance as a baseball player.

I don't think Rodriguez deserved to get beaned though.  Ryan Dempster, however he feels about A-Rod, has not bee…

Man Doesn't Choose to Obey God Until God Chooses that Man

This spiritual life is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit in order that we might be enabled to obey the terms of God’s holy covenant. By this new life, God writes his law in our hearts and then we are able to walk in obedience to his commandments. Without this ruling principle of spiritual life there can be not spiritual obedience. To say that we are able by our own efforts to think good thoughts or give God spiritual obedience before we are spiritually regenerate is to overthrow the gospel and the faith of the universal church in all ages. It does not matter how powerfully we are motivated and encouraged, without regeneration we can do no good works which are pleasing and acceptable to God. A religious, decent, moral life, derived from self and not ‘born of God’ is as sinful as the worst of sinful lives.

Preachers of the gospel and others have sufficient warrant to press on all men the duties of repentance, faith and obedience; although they know the unregenerate have no ability to do …

My Thoughts About My Preaching

Last Sunday I had the privilege of giving the sermon CANVAS Church, which is my home church in Northfield.  If you want, you can listen to the sermon here.

I'm so grateful that I have a pastor who recognizes a gift and passion in me and who is willing to allow me the opportunity to develop and share that gift!  Trust me, not all senior pastors so graciously steps out of the pulpit to give young bucks a chance to preach.

Not being in full time ministry I have the unique ability to see things from both an insider and outsider perspective.  With that in mind, let me share with you a few of the realizations and feelings I encountered as I prepared to preach.  Maybe they'll help you to get a different image of your own pastor and his preaching.

8 General Thoughts
1.  Writing a sermon takes a lot of study and prayer and time (at least 20 hours for me)
2.  You are never quite sure you if you have enough stuff, or if you have too much
3.  There is constant doubt running through your …

Sometimes You Have to Engage the Tough Conversations

Yesterday I had a pretty difficult morning at work.  I had to have four very intense conversations with people holding them accountable for their actions.  No one had a lot of fun in my office during those conversations.

I'm not a big conflict guy.  I don't like that feeling of blood rushing to my face and my arms getting all tingly and sweaty! The reality is that having tough conversations is part of the job.  Like my wife said, "Leadership is hard sometimes."  Amen baby.

It sort of blows my mind how immature people can be.  You'd think that working with adults would feel different than being in high school but somedays it really isn't.  The gossip, the complaining, the corner cutting, the lack of responsibility are all still there.  I don't know some days if I'm running a retail store or a day care center.

Not everyone is like an adult sized toddler.  There are some really great people out there who show up, on time, work hard, smile a lot, and go …

CANVAS Church - Receiving and Responding to the Word of God (James 1:19-26)

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10 Ways the Word of God has Power in our Lives

Here is the list I referenced in my sermon today about 10 ways the Word of God has power in our lives.  This list is taken from R.A. Torrey's book "God's Power in Your Life."  I found the list on this blog post.

1. The Word of God has power to convict of sin. (see Acts 2:37).  2. The Word of God has power to regenerate - give us new life. (see 1 Peter 1:23 and James 1:18).
3. The Word of God has power to produce faith and prevailing faith. (see Romans 10:17).
4. The Word of God has the power to cleanse us. (see Ephesians 5:25-26).
5. The Word of God has the power to build up. (see Acts 20:32 and 1 Peter 2:2).
6. The Word of God has power to give wisdom. (see Psalm 119:130).
7. The Word of God has power to give assurance of eternal life. (see 1 John 5:13).
8. The Word of God has power to bring peace into the heart. (see Psalm 85:8).
9. The Word of God has the power to produce joy. (see Jeremiah 15:16).  10. The Word of God has the power to protect us from error and sin…

5 Reasons I Won't Let My Kids Wear Clothes with Skulls on Them

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Yesterday I threw out a poll question on my Facebook and Twitter pages.  The poll question asked, "Should Christians wear attire with skulls on it?"  I received some great comments from people with a variety of opinions.  You can read the comments on my timeline from 8/8/13.

My opinion is that Christians should not wear clothes with skulls on them.

I don't have one specific Bible verse that I can use to prove my point.  Jesus never said, "Thou shalt not wear clothes with skulls."  I do however think there are number of conclusions that can be drawn from Scripture that support my opinion.

1.  Jesus does care about the clothes we wear.
I don't believe God's people are free to wear whatever they want.  From the Old Testament all the way through the New Testament you can find Biblical language related to clothes.  There are laws in Leviticus about clothes.  God instructed the OT priests on what to wear don't believe God's people are free to wear wh…

10 Things Christian Parents Must Do

Parenting is a super amazing job.  It renews my energy and fills up my soul to watch my kids laugh, learn, grow and love.  Throwing the baseball, coloring a picture, playing a board game, or cuddling and watching a movie are activities I delight in.  My kids teach me daily about love, forgiveness, happiness, kindness, and light-heartedness.

Parenting is a super tough job.  It is exhausting to the body, the mind and the spirit.  My children have an uncanny ability to show me all my shortcomings with ridiculous clarity; my impatience, my selfishness, and my need for control all shine through when I spend an extended amount of time with my kids.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I not had children at such a young age.  I was only 23 when my first son was born, and by 26 I had three little ones.  Those early years were so crazy and exhausting.  I don't know how Stephanie and I did it.  Of course many things in our life would be different had we not had three kid…

What is a man?

Fellow fathers -  the following poem is a penetrating reminder of the questions our sons are asking us to answer for them. They want to know, and we need to show, the answer to the question "What is a man?'
What is a man? Is he someone who is strong and tall, Or is taut and talented as he plays ball? Is he someone who is hardened and rough, Who smokes and drinks and swears enough? Is he someone who chases women hard, With a quest to conquer, but never dropping his guard? Is he someone with a good business mind, Who gets ahead of the others with his nose to the grind? Or is he someone who tries his best, Not really caring about any of the rest? What is a man? Does anyone really know? TELL ME! Who is the prototype? To whom shall I go?

- shared in Robert Lewis' book "Raising a Modern Day Knight"

3 Thoughts About Community

Community takes all different forms, and it goes from surface level relationships centered on shared interests to intimate friendships where souls are opened and lives are deeply touched.  Even as an introvert who is occasionally sour, I enjoy the presence and the sharing of life with others, and I have been blessed with wonderful neighbors who love our family and share all they have with us; they have been a great support and encouragement for us.

Recently I've come across the conversation regarding community in three different places.

1.  I love this post by a great blogger and a friend from church, Becca Groves.  In the post she recounts he recent experience with her neighborhood community ---->  Neighborhood BBQ
My wife and neighbor host something like this every summer and it is an excellent way to bring people together, get to know those closest to you, and have a little fun.  As Christians who are called to make disciples of all nations, missional events like this create …

Waseca Congregational Church - Receiving and Responding to God's Word (James 1:19-26)

Friday Funny

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Use AHEN to Better Understand Anger

I came across something today that I thought was really helpful.I once read something that said if you wanted to trace anger back to its source, just use the AHEN acronym. - When you see Anger (the “A”) it is usually covering a Hurt (the “H”)
- If you peek under that Hurt, you’ll see you had an Expectation (the “E”)
- And if you look under that expectation, you’ll find a Need (the “N”)

Thankful Thursday - Post V-day

So, I had groin hernia surgery and a vasectomy on Monday.  Here's a list of things I am thankful for since then:

- my wife...AMAZING
- my kids...very helpful (at times)
- my neighbor
- my friends and snacks
- my pastor
- Keurig
- Pain meds
- Stool softener
- salami sandwiches
- Friday Night Lights
- Netflix
- downloadable sermons
- iPad
- MacBook Pro
- gauze
- frozen bags of peas
- Diet Mt Dew
- Culver's Strawberry Mango shake
- soccer shorts
- "Raising a Modern Day Knight" book
- ESPN
- ice water
- wet wipes
- coach with deployable foot rest
- Wii