Showing posts from November, 2013

Two Sports I Played and Wasn't Good At

Someday I hope to write something more substantial and theological about kids participation in sports.  Today I will share a couple of my memories from my own sports experience.

I only played basketball for one year.  It was third grade.  I liked it but I wasn't very good at it.  I think I joined in a little too late and never made great strides catching up to the skill development of the other kids.  Plus, the basketball season conflicted with the hockey season and hockey was the far greater love in my life.  I only remember making one basket during the entire season, and that basket didn't even count because I jumped up and landed back on the ground before I released the ball.

I tried playing football twice.  The first time was in fourth grade.  I liked football.  Maple Grove has a great tackle program for kids and I had lots of friends on my team.  I can think of running the gauntlet at practice by the old Maple Grove City Hall, and I loved trying to smash guys down to the …

Expository Preaching is the Means to Life Transformation

I feel like my eyes are being opened and exposed to all kinds of penetrating words about the importance of teaching God's Word with clarity, passion and reliance upon the Spirit to illuminate the Word.  I've been convicted about my use of comedy, story and other 'speaking tactics' instead of simply declaring the truth of God's Word and the power of the cross.

This article is an example of some of this.
My most persuasive arguments, my most passionate pleas, and my earnest articulation is powerless to change the human heart. My words cannot heal the soul or help the weary, and they certainly cannot raise the spiritually dead to new life. Yet, I believe expository preaching is the means the Holy Spirit uses to accomplish such impossible work.  Preaching is not the mere telling of stories, the sharing of experiences, or urging people to action. It is a heralding of God and the good news given in his holy word. It alone has the power needed to do what true preaching a…

My Daughter Isabelle in the Play "Aladdin"

My daughter Isabelle performed in the play "Aladdin" last weekend.  The play is cast, practiced, produced, and performed all in the course of one very long week.  It is led by some wonderful folks from Prairie Fire Children's Theatre.

Izzy didn't have any speaking parts but she did a great job!  She enjoys the theatre greatly and she works very hard in whatever role she is cast into.

Thanks to my friend Emily for taking and sharing these wonderful pictures!

Does God Control Everything?

Lots of folks wrestle with the idea of God being sovereign (in control) of all things.  Of course most people want Him to be in control just enough to heal us when we're sick, help us when stuck, or send us a few bucks when we're broke.  But people don't want to think God is in control when someone dies, when wrongs are done, or when wars break out.

In high school I was a free will guy, thinking God worked with me on my choices and my decisions.  In college I drifted into a small minority group of theologians who argued that God knows all possibilities but doesn't ultimately control them.

Then, upon graduating college and getting some ministry and life experience under my belt I have spent the last six years resting and relieving myself in the idea of God's complete sovereignty.

Today I started reading Does God Control Everything? so that I can be better prepared to help people understand this glorious Biblical doctrine and truth.  As what a friend describes…

Let the Madness Begin!

The madness has now officially begun!

What does that mean.  Let me tell you.

Yesterday was the first day of the Northfield High School Girls' basketball season.  That might not seem like that big of a deal, unless your wife is one of the coaches.  Then it means madness!  Starting yesterday Stephanie will now be busy most days from 3-6pm, until the middle of March.  Alone that would be fairly manageable, but when you throw into the pot my new job, Jacob's basketball, Izzy's basketball, Andrew's wrestling, Jacob and Izzy's piano lessons, Izzy's Bible study group, Stephanie's Bible study group, and my weekend preaching engagements it all makes for a pretty crazy stew.

Thankfully we have some great friends, family and selfless people helping us to make it all work. 

God has been faithful in helping us find responsible, Christians with driver's licenses to watch the kids after school.  I have been able to make some changes at work that will help me get home …

Dealing with Disillusionment in Your Church

I've been around church long enough to realize that everyone goes through periods of disillusionment with their local church or pastor.  Sadly, most people respond to these feelings in negative and immature ways.  They might whine, complain, sit at home and lick their wounds, or in the worst cases, they will spread their negativity to whoever will listen to them.

What inevitably happens, is disillusioned people leave the church, carrying with them the false idea that it is everyone else's fault they are unhappy, and the grass is greener somewhere else.

That is, until the disillusionment happens there.

My wife is leading a women's book study around the book Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson.  One night as we were talking about church and ministry Stephanie shared a portion of the book with me that I though was insightful and potentially helpful for people walking through feelings of disillusionment.  Larson concedes that everyone deals with feelings like this from tim…

Mist in the Pulpit Creates Fog in the Pews

I am not currently a vocational pastor.  I served as a Youth and Executive Pastor for four years after graduating seminary in 2006.  Since then I have volunteered at almost every church I've attended, and I have often been asked to fill the pulpit and guest preach at different churches and ministry events.  I am grateful to God that he gives me the opportunity to use my gifts in this way.

In my working and my serving I have seen many different styles of church.  I have preached to everyone from students to senior citizens.  The sermons I've given have been both exegetical and topical (you can watch some of them here if you have a few hours to kill).  I've been to mega-churches and mini-churches, and I've blogged and spoken about what I believe are the strengths and weaknesses they each possess.

What I know is this ---->  there is no perfect style or type of church.

One thing that has been growing inside my soul is a desire to see the Word of God proclaimed with clar…

More than Just the Philanderer and the Pharisee

You hear a lot in some churches about how Jesus spent time with sinners, and about how Jesus was always putting the 'religious elite' in their place.  Because of this it is easy to develop a picture of Jesus either as a guy sitting around the bar cracking jokes with all his unsaved buddies, or as a guy continually raining on the parade of the religious.  Both pictures of Jesus have some merit, they are both represented in Scripture.  I don't think, however, that this completes the picture.  Following Jesus isn't as simple as loving blind tolerance of sinful behavior, or speaking harsh words against the rule-following, critically-minded religious.

It is instructive that the New Testament letters spend a good deal of time dealing with all that area in between Philanderer and Pharisee.  The letters of the Apostles and early Christian leaders address a wide array of topics like sexual immorality, work ethic, pure speech, hypocrisy, ex communication, order, discipline, grac…

Gospel Preaching and Being Eaten by Lions

Great ideas in the following quotes that don't fit into many modern Christian paradigms regarding God's interaction with, and blessing on, his people.
Pastor Doug Wilson once quipped that “a great reformation and revival . . . will happen the same way the early Christians conquered Rome. Their program of conquest consisted largely of two elements—gospel preaching and being eaten by lions—a strategy that has not yet captured the imagination of the contemporary church.”  Somehow the myth has gotten around that if something is difficult or if we encounter opposition, it must not be God’s will. God’s will, we are wrongly told, involves blessing. Yet we fail to accept that suffering for Jesus is a blessing. HT: Going Out of Business for Jesus

There are lots of lions in the world today.  Lions who want to eat Christians over social issues, marital issues, lifestyle choices, fundamental beliefs, conservative ideas, modern thinking, and a whole host of other ideas.  Sadly many Christi…

Reaching Out, Digging Deep, and Raising Up in the Church

I enjoy reading Joe Thorn's blog. Joe is a pastor devoted to leading his people into a deeper love of Christ, a mature and robust knowledge of God and His Word, and a desire to reach out to the community in the name of Jesus. He has recently been writing a blog series called What Small Churches Can Do. I found these quotes especially helpful in my own thinking about the church and its mission.
Churches die when they stop reaching out because apart from that orientation disciples cannot be made.

Because the mission of the church is to make disciples I tend to emphasize three needs: to reach out, dig deep, and raise up. Unless we give ourselves to these principles we may find ourselves confused or overwhelmed with what we want to do and what we actually can do.

It is possible to have a strong outward orientation that seeks the salvation of the lost, but neglects to carry on the work of discipleship by "teaching them to observe all that [Jesus] commanded." The goal the chu…

Swimming in the Shallow End of the Faith Pool

I got this image in my head the other day as I was pondering what I consider to be the failure of mega churches to lead people into holiness.  It was the picture of a swimming pool.  The shallow end of the pool was packed with people.  Adults, kids, toys, floaties, and all kinds of other stuff.  You've seen this before right?  As a regular at the Northfield pool I see this kind of thing all the time.  Then I started thinking about the deep end of the pool.  There are very few people swimming here.  Maybe a few people hanging on to the edge of the pool, but compared to the shallow end the deep end looks quite deserted.  You have to be a mature swimmer to swim here.

I compare this to the church.  There are so many people swimming in the shallow end.  They like the pool, they enjoy the other people they're swimming with, and they love the ease of easily getting in and out of the water.  Lots of fun and very little commitment or skill required.  This is how many people do church.…

Jacob and Andrew - Hoops Dreams


The Father Absence Crisis in America (Infographic)

Got this graphic from The National Fatherhood Institute.  Although father absence is a huge problem in our culture, it is an opportunity for the men of faith in God's church to step up and bring Him glory as they serve and love and raise up a broken generation.

Book Review: Fight by Craig Groeschel

A few weeks ago I joined some other men from my faith family (and a couple other local churches) to watch a simulcast teaching from Pastor Craig Groeschel.  The teaching was based on his new book called Fight: Wining the Battles that Matter Most.

Fight is a book for men based on the story of Sampson (read Sampson's story in Judges 13-16), and the simulcast was funny, challenging, inspiring, and convicting.  We separated into small groups after the teaching and discussed our key takeaways.  Then we prayed for one another.  It was a great morning with other men who love Jesus and want to give their lives for His glory.

This a just a sampling of the two pages of notes I took.

-  Sin is like a sneeze, it feels good coming out but then there is snot all over.
-  More dangerous than a major blow-up is ruining your life one step at a time.
-  We taunt the enemy (Satan) by making compromising choices and putting ourselves in vulnerable situations.
-  Any man can give himself one time, b…

A Uncommon Friday Night

Last night I had a couple brothers from my faith family over to eat some pizza and watch some preaching.  Pizza and preaching, what a fantastic combination!  As I sat in my living room watching the simulcast with these men of God I was struck by how counter cultural the whole situation was.  Here were three dudes all spending their Friday night sitting next to one another on the same couch staring at a computer screen listening to preaching from the Word of God.  It was a much deeper moving and spiritually motivating way to spend the night than most of the other ways I have used my time.

The two men preaching talked about being connected to the vine and the importance of looking and listening for the work of God in the world, and then joining in with that work.  I was encouraged by this because my tendency is to try and do God's work on my own strength instead of following his guidance.  The beauty of looking and listening for God is that it puts all the success or failure on Jesu…

Good Advice - Don't Throw Your Stick Over the Boards

I went to a MN Wild game this season with a friend from my hockey playing days at Bethel University.  We had a great time reminiscing on our time at Bethel and catching up with each other's lives.  During the course of our conversation we were laughing at my senior season when I got one of the stupidest penalties a player can get, twice!  The penalty is a ten minute misconduct penalty for throwing my stick over the boards.  I'll never know what possessed me to do it, and I'll surely never have any idea why I did it again a few games later.

As we laughed about my idiocy I thought of the Scripture in James which says,
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17 ESV) So often in life, as in hockey, I know what the right thing to do is and for some absurd reason I don't do it.  I know what my attitude should be, I know how important service is, I know it is my fault when I blame another, and on and on the list could go.  So much…