Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Some wedding photos are now online...

Yes, I'm the fat guy. Yes, that's me in a kilt.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Newlyweds have date nights too...

Tonight we went out with some friends of ours, who are also newly married. They got married April 4th of this last year at Northwestern College's Chapel. Our original plan was to meet at the Malt Shop on Snelling and I94. As I pulled the car off of 94, I looked across the highway and realized that the building was no longer there. In fact, the gas station next door was gone too! The whole block had been bulldozed, and nothing is left standing. So scratch the malts and burgers we've been hankering for. We called our friends and switched plans, fortunately they were running a bit behind and hadn't made it there yet, thereby saving themselves a good distance of driving since they live in the South West suburbs of Minneapolis (Chanhassen). We changed plans and decided to go to Big E's Soul Food. When we got to "E's" we discovered it was now called Soul City Supper Club, and that Eric "Big E" no longer owns/chefs/runs the place. We were tempted to leave, but our friends were almost there, and we had tickets to the play at 7:30 and it was 6:30 already.

The ambience was non-existant. This is a place you go to for the food, and nothing else. The service was poor, slow in every aspect, but friendly. The food is some of the best food I have ever wrapped my lips around. Simply incredible soul food.

My wife and our friends all ordered the fried chicken. I ordered the smothered chicken, and none of us were disappointed. Their fried chicken had what may be the perfect breadding, with incredible Southern seasoning and lots of batter. The chicken was scorching hot when served, just the way it should be. My smothered chicken had been smoked in some way, imparting a delightful flavor to the meat. Then it is served with a brown sauce that is nearly indescribable. This was one of the best meals I've ever eaten! I say brown sauce, as it was much more than just a gravy. We had sides of corn bread that were a bit dry, but very tasty. I had the perfect sweet potatoes and a pretty good mac and cheese for side dishes, along with some spicy (that should read SPICY) potato wedges. The others had some of the same, as well as some dirty rice that was a bit bland, sucatash that was great, and collard greens that weren't very good.

The service was slow. We were one of two tables when we arrived at 6:30. We asked what time they opened, and the waitress said 2:00, but nobody had been coming in all day. We endured the sound check by Knighttrain while we ate our appetizer (a huge plate of fries with cheese, bacon, and sour cream). The band played while we ate, and were much too loud for a space that size were people were eating and trying to converse. We were quite literally yelling at each other to be heard, an we were right next to each other. The decorations of the restaurant were spartan. The tables had nothing on them but ketchup and 2 bottles of hot sauce. The bathrooms weren't the cleanest, nor were they very nice. There is a 4 foot tall wall seperating the dance floor from the dining area that only serves to block the view of the band. Once Knighttrain got to playing, they were quite good covering a range of R&B, Jazz, and Blues.

5 star rating system:
Food: *****
Ambiance: **
Service: **
Overall: Go! Enjoy the food, just don't expect a whole lot else.

Following Soul City, we made our way to the Children's Theatre Company to watch a play called "Reeling". CTC's description is:

Whrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Clickety, click click click click… Flicker... flicker... flicker...

All the slapstick, melodrama, pratfalls and daredevil stunts of the silent movie era are coming off the screen and onto the live stage. So places everyone... a-a-a-and action! Here comes our "leading man." A most recognizable little fellow in a porkpie hat. Our everyman clown/hero with the indomitable spirit, who takes you through his world of Keystone Kop-esque chases – "Hey, you!" Narrow escapes – "Look out!" And pining for the love of his life – "Be still my heart!"

Follow him right into a Hollywood movie studio, where he declares he's going to make something of himself to win his beloved. Predicaments galore? Indeed, but this little guy triumphs in the most endearing, madcap, calamitous way. It's all the best from the silent movie era, now coming to a stage near you.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune's review can be found HERE. The show is effectivly an homage to Buster Keaton, done in the silent film fashion. It is delightfully written, and very well acted. The main character is played by the enormously talented Dean Holt, and he doesn't disappoint. A sure bet to entertain ages 4 -100. It is a bit shorter than many other plays, but you won't notice that until you walk out and look at your watch.

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Teens and the Supernatural

(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)
More than 4,000 teens, in three nationwide studies, were interviewed by the Barna Group about their exposure, through the media and otherwise, to the "supernatural world." The report is titled Ministry to Mosaics: Teens and the Supernatural. The "Mosaic generation" consists of those Americans currently age 3 to 21. The term "Mosaic" is used to describe teens' patchwork of values and lifestyles.

Three-quarters of America's youth (73%) have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity, beyond mere media exposure or horoscope usage — the most common being use of a Ouija board and reading a book about witchcraft or Wicca. More than one-quarter of teens have played a game featuring sorcery or witchcraft elements.

Many teens say they have had experiences that could only be described as supernatural or spiritual. For instance, seven million teens say they have encountered an angel, demon or some other supernatural being. More than two million teens say they have communicated with a dead person (10%). One-tenth have participated in a séance. One out of 12 have tried to cast a spell or mix a magic potion. Thirty percent have had their palm read, 27 percent have had their fortune told and nine percent have consulted a psychic. Nearly two million youth claim they have psychic powers. Teens with few friends or undergoing intense stress are more likely than average to turn to witchcraft or psychic powers to cope with their feelings of vulnerability and insignificance.

Possessing an evangelical faith perspective significantly insulates teens from exploring the supernatural. Evangelical teens were nearly three times less likely (26%) than the norm to have engaged in witchcraft or psychic activities. Next lowest on the list were teens who read the Bible at least weekly, with an engagement rate of 54 percent. Non-evangelical born-again teens came in at 69 percent and youth group attendees were at 66 percent.

"Millions of teens are precariously close to simply shelving the Christian faith as irrelevant, uninspiring and just a phase'" says David Kinnaman, author of the report. "Youth ministries need to address the supernatural more frequently. Teens would benefit from operating on the basis of a biblical world view. But that takes years to develop, immense effort, and close cooperation between church and home." says Kinnaman.

For more information about this report, visit the Barna Group's Web site at www.barna.org.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Triumph From Tragedy

Five missionaries' murders were not the end of the story.

Friday, January 20, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

On Jan. 8, 1956, five American missionaries were speared and hacked to death by a group of Auca Indians in the deepest jungles of Ecuador, making headlines around the world. A movie commemorating the 50th anniversary of the event--and the stranger-than-fiction tale that followed--is being released today. "End of the Spear," based on a 2005 book by Steve Saint, the son of one of the slain missionaries, will be shown in 1,200 theaters across the country.

The five missionaries--Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint and Roger Youderian--were young men eager to bring the Gospel to this savage tribe (known today as "Waorani"), who routinely killed any outsiders they encountered. The five prepared to make contact with the tribe for months, even learning Waorani phrases from a tribe member who had escaped years earlier. Nate Saint flew a small, single-engine plane in circles over the tribe's territory every Saturday for 12 weeks, trailing a long line behind the plane to which he attached gifts; the Indians reciprocated, tying gifts of their own onto the line.

On Jan. 3, the group landed on a sandbar in the Curaray River, where the men set up camp. On Jan. 6, three Waorani came out of the jungle, and there was a friendly exchange for several hours. But two days later, several Waorani warriors burst out of the jungle and killed the five with spears and machetes. Though the missionaries had guns, they shot their weapons into the air rather than defend themselves, an action they had decided upon beforehand and one later confirmed by their attackers.

The news was excruciating for the five widows, but it was not the end of the story. They all shared their husbands' vision, and three stayed in Ecuador after the deaths, working with other tribes and waiting for the opportunity to make another contact with the Waorani. Less than two years after the massacre, in November 1957, two Waorani women--who had opposed the killings--walked to a settlement of Quechua Indians, in an attempt to escape their own tribe and find the white men. There they encountered Elisabeth Elliot, the widow of Jim Elliot. Within a year, the Waorani women invited Elisabeth, her daughter Valerie and Rachel Saint, sister of Nate Saint, to come back to the tribe with them. The missionaries accepted.

The women learned the Waorani language, eventually translating portions of the New Testament for the tribe; "God's carvings," the Indians called them. The women also taught the natives rudimentary medicine. Elisabeth and Valerie lived with the tribe for four years, but Rachel remained until her death in 1994.

The ministry of these women resulted in a remarkable change. In this 250-person tribe, characterized by some anthropologists as the most violent ever encountered (the homicide rate even within the tribe was more than 60%), the killings stopped. Today, there are about 2,000 Waorani and a third of them are Christian.

Over the years, Steve Saint visited his Aunt Rachel many times, and he was "adopted" by the Waorani as one of their own. As a teenager, he was baptized in the river by two of the men who had speared his father; he calls one member of the tribe, Mincaye (who is still alive today), his second father. After Rachel's death, the tribe asked Steve to come live with them to continue her work. It was a radical request, but Steve and his family soon headed to Ecuador. They built a house hewn from trees in the jungle, and helped the tribe procure medicine and taught them the skills they needed to interact with outsiders.

My own interest in this story is deeply personal--Elisabeth Elliot is my aunt (my father's sister), Valerie is my cousin and Jim Elliot was my father's best friend. I often think about the sacrifices the five missionaries and their families made.

The explanation for the behavior of these men and women is not easily apprehended in our time. All these principals had a worldview that transcended the material world: In college, Jim Elliot wrote in his journal that "he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." The religious faith of these men also demanded from them an almost unimaginable empathy. Nate Saint explained in his diary: "Would that we could comprehend the lot of these stone-age people who live in mortal fear of ambush on the jungle trail . . . those to whom the bark of a gun means sudden, mysterious death . . . those who think all men in all the world are killers like themselves. If God would grant us the vision, the word sacrifice would disappear from our lips and thoughts."

The Waorani today are thankful that Elisabeth and Rachel came to them, in spite of everything. Mincaye says: "My ancestors didn't know God's carvings. How could they walk God's trail if they didn't see God's carvings?"

For years after the initial massacre, the Waorani marveled at the fact that the victims did not use their guns to fend off the attack. Why was this so? Because, as their diaries show, the five men believed that they were ready to meet their maker while the Waorani were not. Such tales of selfless love are rare today, and worthy of celebration. Why not Hollywood?

Mr. Howard is the dean of the Center for Biblical and Theological Foundations at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn.


David Howard was my professor for OT102, one of the hardest courses in my seminary experience. Howard, the son of missionary parents, lived in Costa Rica and Colombia from 1953 to 1967. He taught at Bethel Seminary from 1982 to 1990 before joining the Old Testament faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for seven years. He then taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for three years. Howard is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and past president of ETS, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Institute for Biblical Research. He served as book review editor (Old Testament) of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society from 1994 to 2003, and served as president of the ETS in 2003. He has published five books and numerous journal articles, book chapters, and essays. Since 1998 he has taught semi-annually as visiting professor at the Emmanuel University of Oradea in Oradea, Romania. He currently is a Bethel Seminary professor of Old Testament; and is the Dean for the Center for Biblical and Theological Foundations. He is passionate about helping the Romanian church. He is also passionate about the Old Testament, the Hebrew language, and is a wonderfully likeable guy.


B.S., Geneva College;
M.A., Wheaton College; A.M., University of Michigan;
Ph.D., University of Michigan

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Mark Driscoll goes off, and gets an AMEN from me!

Every time I read or listen to something spoken by Mark Driscoll I am impressed. This is no different. Read Driscoll as he examines Brian McLaren's view on Evangelicals and the homosexual issue. I love what Driscoll is doing with the Acts 29 network, and I appreciate the hills he and his church are climbing in Seattle. Keep up the good work Mark, and thank you for taking a stand, and standing up for what you believe.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Barna on Stewardship...

Doug Bass of Crossword Bebop asked a question in my previous comments section - Odds and Ends post. The question was raised about Christians and their giving habits. I did a bit of digging on Barna.org and found this collection of statistics.

Reported giving

* Over 80% of all households donated some money to at least one non-profit organization or a church in 2003, 2002 and 2001, compared with 84% in 2000 and 87% in 1999.
* The proportion of households that tithe their income to their church – that is, give at least ten percent of their income to that ministry – has dropped by 62% in the past year, from 8% in 2001 to just 3% of adults during 2002 (2003)
* 9% of born agains tithed 10% of their income to a house of worship in 2004.
* Nearly 9% of the evangelicals tithed in 2002 – roughly three times the national average. (2003)

Reported giving to the local church

* Six out of ten adults (61%) gave money to one or more churches in 2000, a small decline from 1999 (66%).
* The average church donor contributed a mean of $649 to churches in 2000, down from the $806 in 1999.
* 17% of born again adults tithed in 2003 compared to 6% in 2002, 14% in 2001 and 12% in 2000.
* Nearly one-quarter of all born again Christians (23%) gave no money to a church in 2000 – which is significantly lower than the 39% of all adults who made no financial contribution to a church in 2000.
* More Americans claim to tithe than actually do: 17% of adults claim to tithe while 6% actually do so. (2000)
* 12% of born again Christians (compared to 3% of non born agains) tithed their income to churches in 2000.
* The average cumulative donations to churches by evangelicals totaled $2097. For evangelicals, cumulative donations totaled $2097. (2000) Among the born again population, which represents 38% of all adults, the average giving to churches in 2003 was $1411 –much higher than a year earlier ($1220), but below previous year’s totals. (2004)
* Slightly more than half of all adults (54%) donate some money to a church during a typical month. (2000)
* Busters are substantially less likely (36%) than are Boomers (58%), Builders (68%) or Seniors (68%) to give to a church in a given month. (2000)
* Married adults are more likely than are single adults to donate some money to a church in a typical month (64% to 42% respectively). (2000)
* Close to two out of every three households (63%) donated some money to a church, synagogue or other place of religious worship during 2003. That percentage has remained constant since 2001, but is somewhat lower than the number of church donors identified in 2000 and in 1999 (66%).
* When contributions are examined as a percentage of household income, giving to religious centers represents about 2.2% of gross income. (2003)
* In total, one out of every twenty households (5%) tithed their pre-tax income to non-profit organizations. (2003)

Parachurch giving

* 36% of all adults – 47% of born agains – gave money to a religious organization, other than a church or worship center, in 2000.
* the average per capita amount given to a religious organization, other than church, by these donors was $176 (and $264 among born agains). (2000)
* two-thirds (63%) of evangelicals gave to a religious organization, other than a church and their average giving was $502 beyond their church donations. (2000)

Church Budget

* The average annual operating budget for Protestant churches in 2000 was $115,000.
* The 2000 average budget was up by only about 5% from 1999 budgets ($110,000).
* The average annual operating budget ranges from a low of $96,000 among churches in the Midwest to $130,000 among churches in the south. (2000)

Groups that are Most and Least Likely to Give

* The segments that were most likely to give at least ten percent to their house of worship included evangelicals (14% did so); adults with an active faith (12% of those who had attended church, prayed and read the Bible during the previous week); African-Americans, born agains, charismatic or Pentecostal Christians, and people from households with a gross income of $60,000 or more (7% among each of those segments).
* The segments that were least likely to tithe included Catholics (1%) as well as non-born again individuals, adults under 35, and those from households with a gross income of $40,000 to $59,999 (2% of the people in each of those segments tithed). (2003)

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Odds and ends...

Tidbits from FOTF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing.

Church leaders take note: Churches who teach giving often find more money in their collection plates, according to a "Money Management" survey sponsored by Kingdom Bank. The more churches teach about giving, the more people give — even to giving an extra 26 percent, compared to people whose churches do not teach this concept.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court chose to let stand a lower-court ruling that allows communities to place strict limits on sexually oriented businesses. In letting the regulations stand — for the Union Township outside of Cincinnati — the Supreme Court provided a blueprint for other communities to clamp down on such businesses. Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action, said the decision means cities can regulate sexually oriented businesses with three stipulations: How the business is operated, what time it opens and closes and where it can be located. Weiss warned that such businesses will be on the prowl for towns that have let their guard down.

"I'm always a little bit irritated when I hear the criticism of abstinence, because abstinence is absolutely 100 percent effective in eradicating a sexually transmitted disease. In a part of the world where one in three people have a sexually transmitted deadly disease, you have to talk about abstinence, you really have to. In many countries where girls feel obligated to comply with the wishes of men, girls need to know that abstinence is a choice." —First Lady Laura Bush during her recent trip to West Africa.

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The Pyromaniac has closed up shop...

Pyromaniac has been closed for good by Phil Johnson. He is not leaving the blogosphere (thankfully) and is instead moving to a group blog format at Pyromaniacs (Team Pyro). Should be interesting, and paring Turk and Johnson on a daily basis is sure to start some fires! And my guess is that there will be a bit more humor used on this blog than previously used on Pyromaniac.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Heart of a Warrior - Dr. Greg Bourgond...

From the Heart of a Warrior blog by Dr. Greg Bourgond:

Significance is more important than success. A life of significance is attained by living a legacy worth leaving in the lives of people God places within our sphere of influence. The only legacy worth living is a godly legacy. Centeredness and focus are the keys to a godly legacy.
Greg Bourgond is a Vice President of Bethel Theological Seminary. He's a man with a heart for God and a passion for Jesus. He is enormously interesting, intense, and intelligent. He has a lot of good things to say, and is passionate about bringing men to know and love Jesus, and to live in Christ honoring ways.

Checking out a new pizza joint - Red's Savoy Pizza...

I'm about to embark on a culinary adventure. 20 minutes from now, I have to pick up a large pepperoni pizza from a new pizza place. Part of moving is finding a good pizza place. I know of one place locally my wife and I would go to when dating, but I was never all that impressed with their pizza. It was good, but not top 5 best pizzas good. I'm always looking for that next great pizza.

So I made the call - Red's Savoy Pizza on White Bear in East St. Paul. (520 White Bear Ave N
St Paul, MN 55106 (651) 731-1068 ). I did my research first, and here's what I found for descriptions in some local info sources:

From City Pages:

Red's Savoy Pizza

An old St. Paul family pizza joint and bar where the emphasis is on real family. As in: Kids frolic in one room, slapping their cheese-splattered hands on the aquarium, while in the room with the bar an embittered wife carries in two garbage bags of her husband's possessions, depositing them beside his stool. So he says: "I guess I'll get my fishing gear in the spring." And his wife says: "I'll call you if I clean out the garage before then." And he says: "And I'll call Channel 9, 'cause that'd be a miracle." So she gets a pizza to go and leaves, and he orders another pitcher. About that pizza--imagine a very, very large man floating on a very, very small raft. The crust is a martyred delivery vehicle for mammoth quantities of cheese, over authentic toppings and a robust homemade sauce. In fact, there's an entire novel waiting to be written about the sauerkraut-and-Italian-sausage special, something about that which was fired in the crucible of 20th-century East St. Paul, when breweries and immigrants from all over Europe united to create something that seems bizarre, but goes great with Schell's dark on tap. If you write that novel, call us, and we'll call Channel 9.

From Twin Cities City Search:

Some claim that this St. Paul dive has the best pizza in town.

Editorial Rating: Highly Recommended

The Scene
As you walk in and your eyes adjust to the low, low lighting, you're greeted by a mural of a lusty Italian woman holding a pizza against the watery backdrop of Venice. Seat yourself at a burgundy pleather booth or Formica table; if you want to converse over the meal, sit strategically to block your companion's view of the big-screen TV.

The Food
You've got to order the pizza, since it has a rep around town--you'll find that the crust is thin and crispy with typical toppings to choose from. The most popular is the Savoy Special: sliver-cut onions, zesty pepperoni and sausage, green olives, mushrooms and sweet green pepper. The menu also includes roasted chicken, pasta, salads, sandwiches and American fare.


I'll give a report back as to what it's like. For the record, I ordered (as I always to on a first run) a single large pepperoni pizza. Nothing else. That is the standard, and I move on from there. They didn't ask what kind of crust, they didn't tell me a price. It was so loud on the other end of the phone that the guy was having a hard time hearing me. No delivery before 4:30, and he quoted me a quick 20 minutes on my pie. My mouth is watering. The worst part of picking up a pizza is driving home smelling it.


So I'm back from eating what turned out to be a masterpiece of a pizza. The reviews weren't lieing, this is the good stuff. I've never experienced so much cheese on a thin crust pizza. The crust was excellent, thin, light, and just a bit crispy, but not like a pretzel. You know it is a pizza crust. Perhaps the perfect thin crust, the best thin crust bread I think I've had. The sauce is somewhat understated at first. There is a hint of sweet, but as you eat you begin to get a sense of the spices. It's not spicy hot, though there is a bit of warmth, but it is very flavorful. A near perfect blend, though I might give it a bit more kick to really balance out all that cheese. The one thing I especially liked with the sauce was that it was a smooth sauce. I don't like chunky sauces, especially not on my pie. The cheese was fantastic. No need for extra cheese (which I'm known to order on a lot of cheaper pizzas). Very high quality and fresh mozzarella. The pepperoni were very thin, and decent. I would've like a bit more thinkness on the meat, as the outer ones ended up a bit over cooked because they were paper thin. The pepperoni didn't have as strong of a flavor as I was expecting/would have liked, but they were still pretty good. The cost was just under $12 which I thought was very reasonable, and I only ate 1/3 of the pizza so it's a pretty good size. I would highly recommend this pizza. I think it'll end up in my top 5, though I'll have to eat it a few more times to verify.

Someday I might have to post on my top 5 pizzas, but for the time being, know that Uno Chicago Grill's Deep Dish Prima Pepperoni (ordered without the chunky sauce) is the best pizza I've ever had. In fact, it probably rates as one of the best foods of any sort I have ever had, it's that good.

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News from Eagle Brook Church...

Congratulations to Bill Butters, Olympic Chaplain this February in Torino!

Long-time EBC attender (and friend of Sr. Pastor Bob Merrit) and Hockey Ministries International chaplain Bill Butters will be commissioned at the 4 pm Saturday service at EBC. He was chosen as one of ten chaplains worldwide who will minister to the athletes and coaches during the winter Olympic games, which will be held next month in Torino, Italy. Please pray for Bill during this time as he ministers to athletes from around the world!

From Hockey Ministries International

Bill Butters - The Power of Prayer

I grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, with my mother and my two sisters. My mother taught me how to play baseball and it became my first love. I couldn't hit a curve ball so I thought I would try football. I was only 5'9" and not a swift runner so I knew that I did not have much of a future in football either. Then I tried hockey and to me, it was like football on skates. I got to run into people and I became a feared and fierce competitor on the ice.

I was recruited by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. At the time, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins in the National Hockey League were basing their winning ways on intimidation and toughness, so I thought that if I wanted to play pro hockey, I would have to be a rough, tough player.

At the end of my senior year of college, I got married and signed a professional contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. They sent me to the minor leagues and because I fought a lot, my reputation as a tough guy grew. In fact, during my career I was probably in more than 100 fights and had more than 240 stitches in my face!

During my college career, I started some bad social habits like drinking and lying and I engaged in other destructive behavior. After one year in the Toronto organization, I played for several years in the World Hockey Association. I thought I would play until I was 35 or 40, but my career ended when I was 30 years old.

I went back home to Minnesota to look for a job. Although I had attended college for four years, I had not completed my degree, so I had trouble finding employment. Then a friend, long-time pro hockey player Tom Reid, called me and asked if I would like to help at a youth hockey camp. At first I agreed, saying that I could use the money. Tom told me that this was a Christian camp and I would be working as a volunteer. I told Tom that I really didn't know much about Christianity and if I wasn't going to get paid then I wouldn't come. I hung up the phone, but Tom was persistent calling me again and again. For some reason, I agreed to work at the camp.

At that camp I saw young boys and pro players having fun, singing songs and studying the Bible. No one was swearing, fighting or doing other things I had witnessed in boys of that age. In one of the large group meetings, the song leader looked at me (assuming that all of the pro instructors at the camp were Christians) and sang, "Oh, Billy do you love Jesus?" I was supposed to respond with "Oh, yes I love Jesus." Instead, my face started getting red and my eyes welled up with tears. I was embarrassed, not so much because I didn't know the song, but because I didn't know who the song was about. During the meeting, Chico Resch, a pro goalie, got up and told the audience how Jesus had changed his life. It was the first time I had heard anyone talk about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Later, we broke into small huddle groups. At the end, the counselor said we were going to close in prayer and whoever wanted to, could pray. The counselor prayed, the boy next to him prayed and then each boy in the circle prayed. They were heading in my direction and I was nervous because I had never prayed before and I didn't know what to say. All of a sudden, a calmness came over me and I started to listen to the boys' prayers. Each boy was praying for me. The Holy Spirit used those prayers and those 11 and 12 year old boys to show me the love of Jesus Christ. I was there teaching them how to play hockey and they were teaching me how to love. They prayed that I would find peace in my life, employment and that I would know Jesus as my Savior.

I went back to my room, got down on my knees and asked Christ into my life. I admitted that I was a sinner and that I needed Him to help me turn away from the sinful life I was living.

When I came home from camp, I knew Christ had changed me. I told my wife about my becoming a Christian. I told her that I had asked God for forgiveness and then I asked for her forgiveness. After some time, my wife saw the change in my life was real and her faith allowed her to forgive me. Jesus Christ has restored our marriage. We have three children and regularly attend church where we have all been baptized.

Since I became a Christian, many of my close friends and relatives have become Christians also. I have had the privilege of sharing my testimony at a Billy Graham Crusade and I have continued to speak at Christian Athlete Hockey Camps. I speak to many different groups. I am not proud of my past, but if people hear me speak, they may think, "If Jesus Christ can change Bill Butters, He certainly can change me." God's grace empowers me to share my faith with whoever will listen.

The last 18 years have been so wonderful. I owe it all to God's grace and those boys who had the courage to show me the love of Jesus Christ.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Speed Up FireFox and UltraSeeker...

I'm taking this from the JollyBlogger, Mr. David Wayne. It works, and I highly recommend you do it. If you aren't using FireFox, get with the times and join the bliss of tabbed browsing and control over your browser. The new FireFox 1.5 completely rocks. Get it, and never look back!

As a second comment, it's great to hear Call for Help is back on the air. I was a long time fan of the show, and learned tons through watching it. Since being in Seminary I have not had cable (and my wife and I agreed to no cable for the first year of marriage) so I haven't seen the show in a long time, and did hear a while back that it was taken off the air. So to see it's return is great news, even though I won't get to watch it for a while. I always subscribed to the show notes, and gained enormously from them, and reccomend that to you as well.

Speed Up FireFox

If you haven't seen it yet, Call for Help is back on G4 Tech TV here in America. Leo Laporte is back hosting the show along with Amber MacArthur. Browing the show notes one evening over Christmas I found the following on how to speed up firefox. I tried the following and it definitely works - I've noticed a good deal of increased speed after doing this.

Link: G4techTV.ca > Call for Help > Extreme Tips: Speed Up FireFox.

To jump start the speed of Firefox ability to load pages faster, check out these settings edits.

First, type "about:config" into the address bar and hit return. You'll see a bunch of settings.

Scroll down and look for the following entries:


Normally the browser will make one request to a Web page at a time.
When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading. Next, alter the entries as follows:

Set "network.http.pipelining" to "true" by right clicking on it and choosing "Toggle".

Set "network.http.proxy.pipelining" to "true" Set "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests" to some number like 30.

This means it will make 30 requests at once.

Lastly right-click anywhere and select New -> Integer. Name it "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and set its value to "0". This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives.

If you're using a broadband connection you'll load pages much faster now!

Thanks to viewer Bill Alkis for this tip.


Also, this helpful tool comes from a link found on the JollyBloggers site: UltraSeeker.

I wanted to tell you about a new Technorati tag builder I have discovered and have been using called Ultraseeker - but before I do I want to talk for a minute about technorati tags.

For some time now I have been hearing using Technorati tags is a great way to attract more readers to your blog but I really haven't understood how they work. I finally got the idea that posting technorati tags gets you listed on technorati, so if anyone is searching for a phrase that you have tagged, it will show up there.

However, as I looked over how to insert technorati tags it looked like a hassle. A good thing about my Typepad service is that, if you use categories, they will automatically be recognized by technorati. But beyond that, from everything I had seen it looked like you basically had to insert a bunch of .html into your post. And since I am not an .html wiz I have no desire to spend extra time doing that. This is why I chose Typepad - it's Movable Type for dummies like me. With Typepad when you post you can pretty much get in, get out and get on with your life.

But this past week I discovered Ultraseeker - it's an online service that will generate Technorati tags for you. It's great - it has a window where you list the words you want to use for tags, hit a button and it automatically generates some .html that you can copy and paste into your post. I have enjoyed using it - at most it adds 2 to 3 minutes to my posting.

So this is why I am now putting these tags at the bottom of my post. I am not sure if it is helping with traffic yet, I think I'll need a few weeks to judge. But so far this week my traffic has been about 15-20% higher. It may be because my posts have been absolutely scintilliating and I'm hitting my Pulitzer Prize winning form. Or it may be because people are reading blogs again now that the holidays are over. I have only checked my links and referrers a few times this week but I only remember seeing a handful of technorati links, so at this point I am just not sure what's causing the jump. And who knows, my readership may crash next week.

But, adding the tags may be helping, and like I said, with Ultraseeker, you will only need to add a couple of minutes per post to your blogging time, so you can do it quickly and get on with your life. So, I'd recommend it.

Now, if someone could explain the value of del.ici.ous tags to me!

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Self centeredness of emergent and post-modernism...

I wrote the following in the comments section at Leadership Blog: Out of the Ur.

I can't help but continually return to the thought that pomoism and much that is Emergent is completely self centered. How is that you ask? It's because of the resistance and refusal by most of lables and definitions and anything from the outside. It's all about "me" and how "I" define "myself" and nobody else can do that. It is a self centered and self driven philosophy. I always find it ironic how they talk about community and being missional, and yet are so self centered at the fundamental core of their thinking. It's not a problem for some emergent types to lable others as modernist and closed minded (there are volumes of examples across the web) but they won't let the street run both ways. I suppose it's just the next chapter in the individualistic and independent mindset of the modern Western culture.

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Shaun Alexander man of God...

(From FOTF)

MVP Plays for God

MVP Shaun Alexander, who hopes to make an appearance at the Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks next month, sees himself as "a Christian that loves the Lord that just happens to play football." "I'm a Godly man first. I chase after God. I play football for the sole reason to give God glory," said Alexander.

The running back is the only player in NFL history to score 15 or more touchdowns in four straight seasons, and also the only one to score five touchdowns in one half. Alexander, who sustained a concussion in the game against the Washington Redskins last week, said he was initially knocked unconscious, and was dazed for about 20 minutes as he sat on the bench. Speaking about his injury after four days of tests, Alexander joked, "Oh yeah. I took all the tests and realized the guy knocked some sense into me. I am actually smarter than I was before."

Alexander, who attends Christian Faith Center, located near Sea-Tac Airport, is quick to share his faith when the opportunity arises. "I believe it's my job to give you truth and be a light," said Alexander. "If you ask me, I'm going to tell you the truth about Jesus Christ walking on Earth and saving souls and dying on a cross."

Alexander plans to be in the lineup against Carolina this weekend.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

South St. Paul for some good Mexican food...

Tonight my wife and I ventured into South Saint Paul, MN for supper following her work day. We went to El Burrito Mercado and ate in the restaurant. It's just a few minutes from downtown St. Paul, and is pretty famous from my understanding. The president of Mexico Vicente Fox has eaten there, as has Vice President Dick Cheney (among many other famous people who've eaten there). It was a traditional Mexican food presentation, and Banana (my wife) was able to get Chocolate Mexicano (Mexican Hot Chocolate), plus we were able to buy some Mexican chocolate to make our own at home. Plus they had Churros. Churros are one of the greatest desserts ever created. They are simple, require nothing but your hands to eat, and completely yummy. Yes, that is a technical rating, completely yummy. The staff behind the counter in the deli were very helpful, and even let me sample a few things before I made up my mind on what to eat. I had a Limon Jarritos soda (my favorite!) and a Barria? filled Burito with refried beans and Mexican Rice. Good stuff. Banana chose the Barbacoa filled Burito, and was surprized it wasn't more spicy. She proceded to crank it up a notch with some zippy salsa verde, her mouth was on fire she said. A great evening, a quiet mid-week dinner. I'd go again, anyone wanna go?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Our Sr. Pastor is resigning...

It doesn't come as a surprize, a couple of weeks ago our Youth Pastor Lynfield Hines and I were talking about this possibly happening. My Sr. Pastor, Gary Mueller was the officiating pastor for our wedding, and he didn't want to say anything to me before the wedding about it, which I understand. He and I have shared a lot of trials together the past 3 years, and I understand I think why. He and I will get together for lunch sometime in the coming weeks and talk about it. It'll be interesting to see if he stays in the pastorate, as he's pretty close to retirement and his wife just took a nice promotion. He tendered his resignation January 1st, effective January 31 2006. Since I got married December 30th, then went on honeymoon, I had not gotten this info until today.

I asked him what he thought the church was going to do, and he said most likely hire a preaching pastor. It's something I might be interested in, but I don't know if they would be interested in having me at this point. It would depend on quite a few things for me to take it (financial issues and quite a bit of prayer all to be factored in) but I think I could do it. God has kept me in this church for a reason, and perhaps this is it. I've been waiting patiently for something to happen, either a new position or something in another church, but for 3 years it has seemed this is where God has wanted me. So we'll see if they are interested in me. If they aren't, I'll be completely fine with that as well. It'll be an interesting next couple of weeks I guess.

Monday, January 16, 2006

What a glorious day...

Today was an abnormal Sunday. We slept in a bit (no, we didn't skip church) today, which was nice. We had an appointment with one of my professors at Bethel Theological Seminary and his wife for Dim Sum at Mandarin Kitchen in Bloomington (South Minneapolis). The professor was Dr. Wilbur Stone and his lovely wife Sheila. I had Dr. Stone for Global and Contextual Ministries in September school, and then again this past Fall in World Religions. The Stone's were missionaries in Malaysia and Hong Kong, and my wife has done missions work in Malaysia, so I figured it would be a great day. I was right, and everyone hit it off well. Wilbur ordered all sorts of stuff for us, always ordering in Cantonese, which I think surprized a few of the staff. We were one of two white tables, all the rest were Asian, so you know this had to be good food. There was a line out the door, and Wilbur warned us that if we didn't get there at 11:00 AM when they opened we might not get in, as it's that popular. He was right, it was packed wall to wall, with 30-40 people at all times in the lobby, standing so packed together that it was difficult to get in or out of the building. Don't tell the fire marshall. It was the best Asian food I have ever had. And considering I don't like vegetables, I ate everything put in front of me, and liked most of it, and hated none of it. Great presentation, great fellowship, great stories! My wife and the Stones even knew some common people in Malaysia which was really neat. Dim Sum is a great experience, and I'd go back in a heart beat, but I think I'd want someone in the know ordering for me again next time.

We left there around 1:15 PM and made a few stops on our way to my wife's parent's house. When we got there, we spent the afternoon opening cards from our wedding, and opening the handful of gifts that had arrived in the 2 weeks since the wedding. Quite a few things have been shipped directly to their house for us. We did this knowing we wouldn't be home for a week during our honeymoon, and knowing that our neighborhood is more hood than neighborly at times we didn't want anything to go missing. We discovered previously when opening presents the day after the wedding that a wrong package was delievered. We had gotten by mistake a very nice toy piano from Macy's or Bloomingdale's. We were supposed to get some Calphalan cookwear instead. The shipping company dropped off the wrong box, and I suppose some poor child was surprized by baking racks and cooking pans for Christmas gifts! They did come back while were on honeymoon and picked up the piano, and then also while we were gone the correct things arrived. We got some great gifts, and are so blessed and humbled by people's generosity. We then ate supper with my in-laws, and made our way to church.

We attended La Luz, a service at Woodridge Church in Medina, MN. La Luz (Spanish for "the light") is the young adult service at Woodridge. It was started years ago as a stand alone church/ministry, but wasn't doing well financially on it's own and landed at Woodridge. We don't normally go to this church, but from time to time we make it there. The last time we went was just before Christmas. It works well when we have a conflict on Sunday morning, or when we just want to add an extra time of worship and learning beyond our normal Sunday morning service. Michael Binder (a fellow Bethel Seminary student) leads this ministry now, but Sr. Pastor Paul Johnson preached tonight, and gave an excellent message on giving. He talked about giving of our time, talents, and treasures. Worship was led by Mark Alan and Stacy Hanson like it is every week. I was hoping to run into another Bethel Seminary student, Ramon Pastrano, but he wasn't there this evening. A couple of years ago I had Paul Johnson as a professor for a Seminary class called Evangelism for Discipleship. It was about sharing your faith and techniques for sharing the Gospel. Paul is a gifted relational evangelist, and share many of his experiences and techniques with us over that semester. Paul is also the leader of TeAMerica for the Baptist General Conference. The mission of TeAMerica is to develop and support exceptionally equipped church leaders who will mobilize and multiply reproducing churches in the United States and around the world. They are enormously successful in planting churchs that survive and thrive once planted.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

My first Saturday home...

...as a married man. That means house cleaning. I think few men enjoy hearing those two words. Especially after the bachelor life. We are not attuned to the small (invisible to us) specks of dust on the top shelf. We don't notice the pile of dirty clothes. We figure the microwave will kill whatever is on the plate...

Well maybe not.

Marriage is good, I'm glad God created it.

Maybe more later...after some cleaning!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Lynn Swann running for Governor, and other news

(From FOTF's Pastor's Weekly Breifing)

National Football League Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann (Pittsburgh Steelers) has decided to run for governor of Pennsylvania. Along with his football credentials, he is also part of a rising political force — conservative, pro-life African Americans. Many think he's the only candidate who can unseat incumbent Democrat Ed Rendell, and that he will have a special appeal to the rising number of blacks who feel their vote is taken for granted by the Democratic Party.

As many as 25 United Church of Christ congregations have made a decision to separate from the denomination in response to a UCC General Synod meeting that voted to support same-sex marriage, reported the Associated Press. In approving an opinion that churches should affirm "equal rights for couples regardless of gender," members were asked to oppose efforts to define marriage as between one man and one woman. "If we carry the name out front, people are going to associate us with whatever actions our national church body has taken," said Rev. Michael Halley of Suffolk Christian Church in Suffolk, Va.

The Nebraska State House was scheduled to debate a bill (LB57) on Monday that was introduced by Sen. Mike Foley in March 2005, according to the Lincoln Star Journal. The bill, called the fetal assault measure, would expand the unborn victims of violence law to include preborn babies who are seriously injured, but not killed, during an attack on a pregnant woman.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Eagle Brook Church experiencing tremendous things

I have frequently written on this blog about Eagle Brook Church, in Lino Lakes, MN. Eagle Brook opened a new 2100 seat facility December 3 & 4th following God's leading, and are now experiencing some tremendous things. Below is an email sent out by EBC today (from Sr. Pastor Bob Merritt). I love how people are willing to switch services to open seats at optimal hours in this church. They get the vision, and have made it thier own.


A Note From Pastor Bob

Dear Friends,

It seems like I’m repeating myself, but last weekend was another historic, breakthrough weekend where we skied off the ledge not knowing what the outcome would be. And to say that God honored your faith and blessed his church is an understatement. Going into last weekend we had no idea if we’d succeed or fail; all we had was a belief that God was leading us to become a two-campus ministry so that we could continue to fulfill the mission he’s placed on this church.
All four services at the Lino Lakes Campus had strong attendance last weekend, with the 11 am Sunday service filling to capacity with 2100 in worship attendance. The two new video-venue services at our White Bear Campus were also strong, with 385 attending The Brook and 825 at The EDGE, which exceeded capacity. Our total attendance at the six services was 7,609, which is 37% more than last year’s attendance of 5,546. Oh, and by the way, 12 more people visited our Yes! Tables and accepted Jesus last weekend, changing their eternities forever. We are all amazed at how God continues to pour out his Spirit!

We also learned a few things last weekend. First, Sunday at 11 am continues to be the fullest service of all and we don’t see that changing. So again, to relieve the congestion and to open up seats at this optimal inviting hour, if it works for you to choose any other service time we would greatly appreciate it.

Second, The EDGE is already at capacity and we celebrate that reality. We’ve already begun talking about adding a second EDGE service, and I tell you that just as an FYI. We’ll give you more information as we have it.

The target keeps moving and we’re doing our best to keep up with what God is doing. I’m still not fully adjusted to our new surroundings at Lino, but in 15 years of being the senior pastor of this great church I have never witnessed so many miracles. I wish you could read all the emails from people who’ve come alive in Christ these past six weeks. Way to go church!

Skiing off ledges,


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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

7 sevens...

Kevin Jones of The Reluctant Puritan blog has tagged me to come up with seven lists of seven things about me.

Favorite Movies
1. The Green Mile
2. The Jerk
3. Saving Private Ryan
4. High Fidelity
5. Beautiful Girls
6. A River Runs Through It
7. Good Will Hunting

Favorite Musicians/Groups
1. Rich Mullins
2. Chris Tomlin
3. Counting Crows
4. Third Day
5. Go Fish
6. Conspiracy Among Friends
7. Joe Satriani

Favorite Books
1. The Bible, English Standard Version
2. Too Busy Not to Pray - Bill Hybels
3. Systematic Theology - Wayne Grudem
4. Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov
5. The Church of Irresistable Influence -
6. Hard to Believe - John MacArthur
7. Courageous Leadership - Bill Hybels

Favorite Pastors
1. James McDonald
2. John MacArthur
3. John Piper
4. Bob Merritt
5. David Clark
6. John Ortberg
7. C.J Mahaney (though he's receintly stepped out of the role of leading a church, I'd still consider him a pastor)

Favorite Blogs
1. PyroManiac - Phil Johnson
2. SonicsCentral.com - Seattle Supersonics
3. The A-Team Blog
4. Challies.com - Tim Challies
5. One of the Simply Strategic Guys - Tony Morgan
6. CoffeeSwirls - Doug McHone
7. Between Two Worlds - Justin Taylor

Favorite Vehicles
1. AMC Javelin (390 V-8!)
2. Chevy Impala (I have a soft spot for the '75, but Late 60's were the best)
3. Chevy Corvette (especially the '68 Stingray with a big block!)
4. Honda CBX (1978 is the best)
5. Dodge Viper (just sitting in one makes you want to break laws)
6. Willys Jeeps
7. Ferrari F430

Favorite Resturants
1. The Saint Paul Grill
2. Fhima's
3. Chipotle
4. Culver's
5. El Portion (Cancun, Mexico)
6. Famous Dave's
7. The Vintage

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Electronics are some of the most important things...

Today I have begun the process of unpacking some of the things I own. I moved from an apartment into my wife's home the week of our wedding, and everything I own that I didn't take to Cancun on our honeymoon is in large plastic tubs and moving boxes. If you asked me to find something that I owned at the moment, I likely would be unable to do so. I have laundry in the wash because I don't know where my clean clothes are packed!

The first thing I set up today was my TV/VCR/DVD/Stereo set up. I didn't hook up all the speakers (yet), only the 2 Cerwin Vega floor speakers I have for my front channel. They sound great in this house, and I think I can get them loud enough to wake the neighbors if we want ;-) I generally don't listen to loud music though, as I abused my hearing enough earlier in life, I'm pretty protective of it now. It is so nice to have good sounding tunes again. The whole time (4 months) I lived in my previous apartment I didn't bother to hook up my stereo/VCR/DVD player.

I am struggling with the internet at the moment. We live across the street from a High School, and can at times get enough signal from their wireless system to be connected to the internet. But apparently that isn't possible during the period when they are in school. So I'm back to primitive access for the moment, using AOL dial up. I'm not sure how long I'll have access to AOL either, as the account is my church account, and we switched to MSN broadband the last week of December, and will be dropping AOL. I'd like to get high speed something, but not sure what at the moment. My wife has used US Family.net for the past couple of years and has been very happy with it. They do offer DSL, though I'd much prefer the cable modem and setting the house up with a wireless system. We'll see, but hopefully we can decide soon. Dial up is torture after many years of high speed wireless. I think high speed wireless will be the only way to go so that my wife and I can both be on the web at the same time.

I sure do like being married so far. The picture is from our visit to the ruins at Tulum, Mexico. The ocean was beautiful that day, as was my wife. I think if we did it again, we'd go to Chichen Itza for a whole day and skip Tulum. We spent 1/2 a day in Tulum, and 1/2 a day at Xel-Ha Eco-park, and we would have much rather spent the whole day at Xel-Ha. While snorkeling at Xel-Ha I saw a fish 3 foot long, 20 inches high, and it had teeth AT LEAST 3 inches long sticking out of it's mouth. Thankfully it didn't want anything to do with me. I had never snorkeled before, and discovered I really like it. I also discovered there is a pretty good learning curve to it. You nearly drown yourself a couple of times before you get it all figured out. I also learned that my mustache keeps the face mask from sealing properly. I shaved my goatee entirely off later in the trip when we were suppose to snorkel at El Garrafon on Isla Mujeres, but we didn't get to snorkel because of high winds that day.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Just yesterday I was sitting on the beach in Cancun...

Well, I'm back. My body is still adjusting to the temperature shock, and it's a balmy 25 degrees F here in Minnesota today. Cancun was incredible! Our wedding went super smooth, and the reception was wonderful. I'm officially married, and have the ring to prove it.

We got back into MSP last night around 7:20 PM, made it through customs without any problem, and were picked up my Banana's parents. We took their mini-van and quickly made our way to TGIFriday's for supper. We were both starving. From there we ran out to my wife's parent's house where we had left our cars after the wedding for safe keeping. I shoveled the driveway while our cars warmed, and we made our way home. We were both tired, so no unpacking was done, and we both had early days today.

I had my first commute to school today through rush hour traffic. Not fun, especially not fun considering the amount of ice on the road. I actually slid through one stop sign at the end of our block, and then was unable to make a turn and ended up on the grass (over the curb!) near Lake Phalen in St. Paul. I could see as I was sliding toward the curb where 4 or 5 other cars had done the same thing earlier. The truck behind me ended up in the grass on the other side of the street. My first class was at 8:00 AM today, a rough way to come back from a honeymoon! My Mondays are pretty brutal, as I also have class at 1:00 PM, and then work following that.

I'll blog more about the wedding and stuff later. I should be paying attention in class at the moment, so time to run!