Showing posts from December, 2013

Great Article: How Celebrity, Consumerism and Competition Are Killing the Church

These are stinging words to the way a large number of people are doing church right now in America.
We do as best we can to provide as comfortable an experience as humanly possible, using every means at our disposal to attract them in (and then keep them in). So we tailor what we do around their wants and desires. That’s Marketing 101, right? The problem is at the end of the day, the only thing that Jesus is counting is disciples. That’s it. [Jesus] doesn’t seem to care too much about converts, attendance, budgets or buildings. It’s about disciples. And, by nature, disciples are producers, not consumers.  Yet most of our churches are built around feeding consumers. I’d argue 90% of the church’s time, energy and resources are linked to this. But the issue is this: The means you use to attract people to you are usually the means you must use to keep them. In other words, if you use consumerism to attract them to your church, it often means you must continue using it to keep them or els…

Don't Delay, Take Action Right Away

When it started snowing a few weeks ago I didn't take the initiative to go and shovel my driveway.  I was busy with something more important (i.e. reading, eating, sleeping, etc) and so instead of clearing the snow away I let it accumulate and freeze.  My wife and I both drove on it and what at first was light and easily removed, now became packed down and frozen into ice.  I have since spent the last week chipping it away and trying to make the driveway safe again.

It strikes me that men and women have many problems in their lives because they don't take the initiative to shovel sin out of their hearts immediately.  It might be because they feel too busy to deal with matters of the heart.  It might be because they are embarrassed.  It might be because they don't want to acknowledge and recognize sin as sin.  No matter what your reasons are, ignoring sin and not dealing with it quickly is a bad idea.

Sin has a way of building up and thickening just like ice and snow on a …

How God's Word is Like Ice Melt for our Heart

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11, ESV)
Ice melt is an awesome product.  Basically it is salt, and when you put the salt on the ice it lowers the freezing point of the ice.  This does two things.  First, it makes the existing ice softer and helps melt ice away more quickly.  Secondly, any salt that remains on the driveway prevents new ice from building up.  The fact is, if I would have attacked the snow and ice on my driveway more aggressively with ice melt I would have prevented much of the build up from occurring in the first place.
The Word of God functions much like ice melt does.  When we read the Bible, study the Bible, meditate on the Bible, and listen to the Bible preached in church, it is like putting spiritual ice melt on our hard hearts.  The Word of God melts the ice that makes us resistant to God.  It softens our hearts and begins to change us.  And when we store God's Word up in our heart we are resistant to sin&#…

Looking for a Weak Spot to Drive Into

I have developed a technique for chipping away the ice build up on my driveway.  I take my steel plated shovel and I drive it into an ice chunk.  If nothing happens I adjust my angle of attack and drive it in again.  If I continue doing this, drive-adjust-drive, eventually I find a weak spot and I'm able to break up a large chunk of ice.

This is the same way the Devil works when he attacks us.  If he first attempt to get us is thwarted, he will adjust his angle and attack from a different direction.  If that fails, he doesn't quit.  Rather, he readjusts and tries to stick us again.  A perfect example of this in action is Satan's repeated testing of Jesus in Luke 4.  As followers of Jesus we need to recognize this enemy tactic and be prepared for it.  
We have to know what our weak points are, and do everything we can to firm them up, so we are not susceptible to Satan's schemes.
The Bible says that our Enemy roams around like a lion looking for something to devour.  He…

Andrew in Reader's Theatre at St. Dominic School

You Have to Use the Right Tools for the Job

On Saturday I went to Menard's and bought a new shovel to deal with the ice and snow build-up on my driveway.  I have a regular snow shovel, but I needed a shovel with a steel plate on the bottom to break through the snow and ice that have been packed down by cars driving up and down the driveway.  I had been trying to use the regular snow shovel but I was exhausting myself and making very little progress. Now, since I have the new steel plated shovel, I am getting much more done with much less effort.

Getting the snow and ice cleared was a matter of having the right tool for the job.  

This concept is true in our spiritual lives as well.  All the self-help books in the world aren't enough for dealing with issues of the soul.  There might be some good ideas and concepts out there, but seeking wholeness in them is like trying to use a regular snow shovel to clear ice off the driveway.  It will take you much more time and effort if you don't use the right tools for the job.

How to Use the Santa Claus Craze for Proclaiming Christ

Every parent deals differently with Santa Claus.  Some parents play it up by leaving gifts for the children under the tree with Santa's name written on the box and half eaten cookies left by the fireplace.  Other folks make the decision to tell their kids early on that Santa is not real.  
If you've read my blog for awhile I'm sure you can guess which of these two extremes I lean towards.  Christian parents have other things to consider regarding how to handle the Santa issue.  Is it right to lie to your kids?  Do you want a mythical fat man to show love to your kids through gift giving instead of you showing that love?  
However, instead of blowing Santa completely out of the chimney, maybe there is a way to leverage the Claus Craze during the Christmas season.  Think about the following.
Santa would have been right at home with the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. Santa, like the Pharisees, has a fondness for rule-keeping, good behavior, and rewarding high performers.  But inst…

Why Pastors Should Wait A Few Years/Decades Before Writing Books

I have said many times before that I would like to be writer.  It is part of the reason I blog.  I believe communicating by the written word will be an important piece of my ministry communicating God's Word.

One thing that has been bugging me for the last few years is that there is sort of a trend with mega church pastors putting out books as a part of their ministries.  It seems to me many of these books are simply sermon manuscripts rehashed and slapped together in-between a hard cover.  They lack the depth of insight and thought which is found in more classical works.  And still Christians are buying up these insight-lite books by the millions.

Pastor Tim Keller has been a minister for many years and has just recently begun to write.  In this blog post he reveals his reasons for waiting so long before entering the writing world.  A couple of his reasons, which are outstanding, are as follows.

1.  Young ministers are still growing in their understanding of God's Word and d…

Don't Feel Obligated to Read This

I don't care much for obligations.  You might say this is because I am a selfish person.   But will anyone agree with me that some of the obligations society throws at us are ridiculous?  Here are a few obligations that bug me.

1.  You sent me a Christmas card so I have to send you one. 
Come on, can't I send a card to whoever I want.  And if I don't send one to you, it doesn't mean we can't be bff, maybe I only wanted to pay for fifty cards and I have a big family!  I still love you people, I just didn't have the time or desire to look up addresses and mail out cards for the 500 people who have sent me a card in the past.  And Pastor Jeff - I will not be offended if I see your card at someone else's house.  I understand.

2.  When I host a birthday party ever kid needs a gift bag to bring home.
As if the cost (financial and emotional) of hosting a kid's birthday party isn't enough, now there is the obligation of giving all the kids treat bags to brin…

Good Pastors Preach Jesus from the Bible

You can have a cool stage set.  You can wear trendy clothes.  You can have a sweet, manly beard.  You can use social media and all kinds of modern graphics.  And……and…..

YOU CAN STILL PREACH Jesus and His Word!

10 Reasons Not to be a Pastor

As someone who has been on both sides of the pulpit, I find the following list to be both accurate (from a pastor perspective) and convicting (from a church member perspective).  I found the list here.
10. Not everyone will like you.

9. You will make people angry regardless how godly you handle yourself; it comes with the position.

8. You will feel like a failure often, and when you do appear to succeed, the fruit that is produced cannot be accredited to you. God alone gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7). Thus, there is little “sense of accomplishment in ministry” that you may be accustomed to in other vocations.

7. You will fight legalism and liberalism, along with laziness, ignorance, tradition, and opposition. Yet, your greatest enemy will be your own heart (Jer. 17:9).

6. Not everyone will respond positively to your preaching, teaching, or leadership. You will bring people to tears with the same sermon: one in joy, another in anger (I have done this).

5. You will be criticized, …

Waseca Congregational Church - Leaving a Legacy of Lasting Significance (Psalm 78:3-4, 2 Timothy 1:3-5)

The Undeniable Ripple Effect of our Choices and Actions

It is amazing to think about the effect one small thing choice or action can have on so many other things.  I work in the logistics industry as a Fleet Manager for the liquid tank division of a trucking company.  Countless times I have seen how this works.  I may have a driver who, by fault of his own or an outside circumstance, doesn't get where he needs to be on time.  Sometimes it is because of the weather or a truck breakdown.  Other times it is because the guy is lazy or feeling sick.  Whatever the reason, when a guy isn't on time, it has a ripple effect on his entire work week, and it can mess up the week of other drivers also.  Plus it creates all kinds of head aches in the office.

It is easy to think we live isolated lives.  We tend to think that what we do only affects us.  Popular culture says, "If no one get's hurt, then what does it matter."  Fact is, just because we don't always see the results of our actions immediately, it doesn't mean …

6 Reasons for Expository Preaching

This is from a blog post on the Gospel Coalition website.

1. It is the method least likely to stray from Scripture.
If you are preaching on what the Bible says about self-esteem, for example, undoubtedly you can find some useful insights. But even when you say entirely true things, you will likely abstract them from the Bible's central story line. Expository preaching keeps you to the main thing.

2. It teaches people how to read their Bibles.
Especially if you're preaching a long passage, expository preaching teaches people how to think through a passage, how to understand and apply God's Word to their lives.

3. It gives confidence to the preacher and authorizes the sermon.
If you are faithful to the text, you are certain your message is God's message. Regardless of what is going on in the church—whether it is growing or whether people like you—you know you are proclaiming God's truth. That is wonderfully freeing.

4. It meets the need for relevance without letting the cla…

Andrew in a Classroom Play

Andrew performed some sort of play at school.  I have no idea what the play was about but this is a cute picture.  Enjoy!

Learning to say, "I love you man!"

It wasn't too long after I meet my friend Jon that he started saying "I love you bro" before I left his house, or before I walked away after spending time with him.  It sounded super genuine but it sort of weirded me out to think of saying it back.  Telling your pastor, "I love you too" was the very definition of #awkward.  However, it grew on me over time as I got to know more and more of Jon's heart of friendship for me.  After awhile saying "I love you" seemed natural.  I even started to say it some of the other guys that I am closest with in my life.  The Bible teaches over and over that we are to love one another, so why would we not express that love by saying it?

Another thing I learned from my friend Jon was how great it feels to get a text message or an email of encouragement.  Just that small gesture of asking "how are you doing" or "I'm praying for you" means the world.  And it is so easy to do!  I have been wor…

Mind Dump

-  We have an office Pig-Out day tomorrow with appetizers and snacks in the break room all day.  #theregoesmywaistline
-  Had a great night yesterday with some good friends talking theology, ministry, parenting, and life at a local coffee shop.
-  Basketball season is underway.  I'm excited to watch Stephanie coach and the Northfield girls play.
-  Having my best fantasy football season ever.  Too bad I'm not in a money league.
-  I have had the chance to preach 5 of the last 6 weeks, and this Sunday I'm speaking at Main Street Moravian Church in Northfield.  I'd love to have you come!
-  Sunday was Isabelle's 9th birthday.  She is so amazing and beautiful.
-  It drives me crazy how terrible people drive when it begins to snow.
-  I hate it when it is raining just enough that you need the windshield wipers, but not enough to keep the wipers on all the time.
-  TV really is better on a flat screen that gets HD channels.  #BlackFridaySpecial
-  Been pondering the pl…

Happy 9th Birthday Isabelle!

Today we celebrated Isabelle's 9th birthday!  She was the first one up and she reminded each person as soon as they came downstairs that today was her special day.  Stephanie and I worked hard to make Izzy feel treasured today.  She has a tough spot as the artisic middle child between two athletic brothers and I know she feels like she doesn't get as much attention as the others.  I'm not sure that is true, but for at least today we made certain that Izzy was loved and celebrated in every way.

Isabelle is such an amazing young lady.  She is smart, artistic, musical, responsible, serious, intense, hard-working, and loving.  She loves to sing, dance, draw, journal, and help others out.  Isabelle is wonderful with younger kids and will make a great baby-sitter someday.  She is helpful at school and church and often volunteers to get tasks accomplished or keep order in the classroom.  Teachers love her because she works so hard to be responsible and prove that she is up to an…