Friday, October 31, 2008

Hey you! Get to bed!!

Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep

Getting a good night's sleep could be one of the smartest health
priorities you schedule for your day. Some possible health consequences
of getting too little or poor sleep can involve cardiovascular,
endocrine, immune and nervous systems. Between 50 to 70 million
Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder, such as insomnia or
sleep apnea, which affects daily functioning.

Research has shown:

  1. Insufficient sleep appears to tip hunger hormones out of whack.
    Leptin, which suppresses appetite, is lowered; and ghrelin, which
    stimulates appetite, gets a boost.
  2. You're more apt to make bad food choices that would entail a diet
    higher in cholesterol, protein, total fat and total saturated fat.
    Women were especially affected.
  3. Those getting five or fewer hours of sleep each night were 2.5 times more likely to be diabetic.
  4. Women who sleep five or fewer hours per night were 45 percent more likely to have heart attacks.
  5. Blood pressure may increase. Obesity plays a role here, so losing weight can ease this.
  6. Auto accidents rise. Nearly 20 percent of serious car-crash
    injuries involve a sleepy driver, and that's independent of alcohol use.
  7. Older folks who wake up at night and are drowsy during the day are more likely to fall due to being off balance.
  8. Adults, adolescents and middle schoolers report more symptoms of depression and lower self esteem.
  9. More behavior problems are seen in kids who are plagued by lack of sleep.
  10. There is approximately a 15 percent greater risk of dying for those who get five hours or less of sleep per night. []

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yet another reason I'll have nothing to do with the ELCA

From today's Star Tribune:

"Jodi Barry is not the first lesbian to be ordained into a Lutheran ministry. But her ordination Saturday was a new step toward what supporters hope will be greater acceptance of gays and lesbian pastors by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

The ceremony was hosted by Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, where Barry has been a youth minister intern for a year, but it was conducted by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM), a national network committed to full acceptance of gay and lesbian pastors in the Lutheran church.

The ceremony marked one of the first ordinations since the ELCA adopted a "refrain and restraint" policy in August 2007. Intended to ease a divisive issue without changing the ELCA's position against gay clergy, the policy instructs church leaders not to respond harshly when individual congregations or other groups choose a gay or lesbian minister."

Train wreck, thy name is ELCA.

Sermon - Acts 9:1-9 - Saul's conversion to Paul

(Image created at

My sermon on Acts 9:1-9 from this morning is posted on our church's web site - Check it out. I think it is a pretty good sermon. I challenged my church last week to pray for our church. Inward focused prayer. This week was focused on outreach prayer and praying that God would transform us and those in our lives.

TP and TV

Does your church use 1-ply or 2-ply toilet paper? The soft stuff, or the "John Wayne" toilet paper - the stuff that is rough, tough, and doesn't take crap from anyone? While it seems like something small, I think things like toilet paper make a difference when somebody new visits your church. The cost difference for most churches between the soft as sandpaper TP and the good stuff is very small. And keep your women's bathrooms amazingly clean. It will make a difference.

Another thought is that if you operate a store that caters mainly to women who spend more than 5 minutes in your store, then you need a seating area for men, and possibly a play area for kids. It doesn't have to be something big, just something functional. Every minute that a man can sit allows a woman to shop longer. Every minute a mom can shop without distraction with kids playing nearby allows that woman to shop longer. Studies show that the longer a person is in a store, the more likely they are to buy something, and the more money will spend on average. If you aren't doing these things, you are letting money walk out the door. And if you want to really make the shopping experience great for men, put a nice flat screen TV in the seating area, and tune it to ESPN or whatever game may be on. Most (not all) men will gladly "shop" in a woman's store where they can catch up on the scores.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dallas Willard at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Edina on 10/24/08

DALLAS WILLARD, University of Southern California (Professor of Philosophy), presents "Faith Without Knowledge: Why Christians Court Disaster When Belief Is Not Intelligent"

October 24, 2008 - 7:30 PM

Calvary Christian Reformed Church (5300 France Ave S, Edina, 55410). Free and open to the public.

For at least a century or more, evangelical Christians have accepted the secular judgment that religion is not only private, but that it is also little more than blind irrationality. Under this arrangement, universities have assumed leadership as the guardians of what counts as true knowledge. With a profound sense of urgency, Dr. Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy and Renovation of the Heart, offers a bracing and bold challenge to Christians to recover the centrality of knowledge as not only an essential for Christian witness in the broader world, but also for the very essence of Christian living.

Follow up on "Fire and Nice"

Just one more thought on the article "Fire and Nice" from Christianity today that I recommended in my previous posting.

"Woodland Hills lost 1,000 people paying the price to become a more multiethnic church," says Efrem Smith, a friend of Boyd's and pastor of the new Sanctuary Covenant Church in north Minneapolis. "Greg preached a sermon series called 'The Cross or the Sword' that purposely downsized his church so they could become what they truly want to be."

I want to point out that this is a misleading statement, and if Efrem Smith is buying Boyd's sales job on this, then that lowers my previously high view of Efrem Smith. Simply stated the 1000+ people who walked out on Greg Boyd (many while he was preaching) was over his very soft stance on abortion. It wasn't over his refusal to preach the "Republican" gospel or anything else. I suspect if you dig through Boyd's and Woodland Hill's web sites (Boyd admits it here), the letters he/they wrote following that week are still likely online. It is disappointing that Boyd has chosen to frame this in a political way, and is apparently doing a good sales job of that to his friends. Abortion transcends politics. It is aberrant and abhorrent. It is not God's plan.

What I am not saying is that Boyd (or any pastor) needs to buy in hook-line-sinker with a political party. I can honestly say I've been both a registered Democrat and Republican. And I don't like either option. I am not a one issue voter, but on this issue it comes pretty close. And Boyd is unwilling to say that, irregardless of party affiliation. And that is why he lost the better part of a megachurch's worth of attendance. So they could "purposely downsize" their church? That's abusurd.

Now you may ask, why do I care? I care because before that Sunday my wife attended Woodland Hills for 7 years.

Fire and Nice - the wide views of regional churches

There is an interesting article over at Christianity Today called Fire and Nice that looks at some churches in the Twin Cities. This is a phenomenon that I have often thought about - that there are such divergent views within the Metro area. I was first exposed to this as I entered seminary on the tail end of the "debate" between John Piper and Greg Boyd over open-theism. It was a polarizing time, but an interesting one. Below is just a snippet from the article. I suggest you go HERE and read it all if you are interested.

"Together, Minneapolis and St. Paul are big enough to sustain diverse expressions of Christian theology, but small enough to bring those expressions into contact. In many ways, the Twin Cities are a microcosm of the current tensions in American evangelicalism.

Smorgasbord of Churches

With a little more than 3.5 million residents, Minneapolis/St. Paul is the 15th-largest metropolitan area in the United States. That makes the Twin Cities big enough to host major corporations, including headquarters for Best Buy, General Mills, Dairy Queen, and 3M. But the area is small enough that you wouldn't be surprised to bump into a local television news anchor at Target.

You have to really work to avoid bumping into megachurch pastors. The Twin Cities are home to the most Protestant megachurches per capita in the United States, according to John Mayer, executive director of City Vision, a Minneapolis ministry that researches demographic trends. Only the Atlanta and Dallas metro areas boast more megachurches. Maybe the Twin Cities' ranking should not be surprising, given their penchant for "big." The nation's first mall, Southdale Center, opened in 1956 in Edina. Nearby Bloomington boasts the 4.2-million-square-foot Mall of America."

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Call and Response - The Movie

Sunday evening my wife and I join some friends in the Twin Cities for a viewing of a movie called "Call & Response". For a full-on review from a professional I recommend the review at

From the Call and Response website:
The Call and Response film is a catalyst to engage the public in fighting human trafficking. In it, we graphically portray the state of modern-day slavery, and call our audience to respond to it. Our goal is to inspire the public to support high impact efforts by effective organizations.
After the movie we all stood outside the theater (in the cold!) talking about what we thought of the movie. Overall, it was fantastic, in a very sad and painful way. Human trafficking is not often talked about, but it goes on, even here in Minnesota. Just last year 8 brothels in Minnesota were shut down. So it goes on here. And it extends beyond the sex trade industry. The movie did a good job of pointing out that there are many industries where slavery is used. The mining of minerals used in cell phones is a good example.

So my suggestion is to seek this movie out. Watch it, talk about it, tell others about it. This is a HUGE problem that is off most people's radar, and it shouldn't be. Make a difference. This is not a movie for young children, the issues and situations in the movie are very serious and heartbreaking. I'd say 14 & up, and I'd suggest previewing it before showing to your 14-17 year old (Rated PG-13). The production level was high, I was impressed considering it is a low budget film. The format of the film was very different than any other I have seen. It would hit you hard for a period, and then a musical performer would sing a song, breaking up this otherwise very heavy subject. They maintained a good balance throughout, never getting preachy, but yet pushing you to think about what is going on, often right in our own back yards.

Some of the artist who donated their are: Cornel West, Madeleine Albright, Daryl Hannah, Julia Ormond, Ashley Judd, Nicholas Kristof, and many other prominent political and cultural figures offer first hand account of this 21st century trade. Performances from Grammy-winning and critically acclaimed artists including Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Cold War Kids, Matisyahu, Imogen Heap, Talib Kweli, Five For Fighting, Switchfoot, members of Nickel Creek and Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Rocco Deluca move this chilling information into inspiration for stopping it.

Here's a trailer for the movie:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sermon - Acts 4:23-31 – When the church prays

(the above was created at

My sermon from today is now posted over on First Congregational Church's web site - I cut a section out of the middle of the sermon on the fly because the service was running long. We followed the worship service with a baptism - my first!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A cool pastor appreciation video by Steven Furtick

I don't mention him much, but I've been following Pastor Steven Furtick and Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC for 18 months or so. A lot of good things happening there. Steven is amazingly young, fantastically gifted, enormously talented, and surprisingly wise - wise beyond his years. And if you watch the video, you should know he's not joking about being a white guy who preaches like a black guy. He really does - he can bring it!

I'll never be as cool as Steven, I wouldn't even waste my time trying. Rather I'll point you to the video he made in his cool orange office where he thanks some of the men who have been influential in his ministry. A very nice way to say thanks. Someday, if we ever buy a digital video camera, I might do something similar. Until then you'll just have to settle for reading my posts on Pastor Appreciation Month.

Elevation Church's staff have been incredibly open in helping other churches. I've contacted them a couple of times and received well thought out and prompt responses. Additionally, they've done other things like mail me a DVD to just be a blessing to myself (as well as a whole host of other pastors). If Elevation Church isn't on your radar and you are looking for fresh ideas on how to do church, I suggest giving them a long hard look!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Acts 2 Sermon Wordle

(Click above for a larger version - created @

New sermon posted at our church's web site on Acts 2. You'll see a simple black and white Wordle version there with the other difference being I used the Scripture from Acts in the above version and not on the church web page version.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October Is Pastor Appreciation Month

Yesterday was National Clergy Appreciation Day, and this month is the overall Pastor Appreciation Month, so I want to recognize some pastors who have shaped and influenced me. You'll find permanent links to their churches on my side bar under "My Favorite Churches".

First in that line would have to come Pastor Jon Tolly. I had the joy of sitting under Jon's teaching for all the years I lived in Mitchell, South Dakota. Jon pastors Northridge Baptist Church which is part of the Baptist General Conference. Northridge is where I first got the taste for ministry, and it is from Northridge that I entered into Seminary. Pastor Jon baptized me in September of 2002. Jon has a great vision, and really led the church well through some major transitions. If you are ever in the Mitchell area, don't hesitate to check this church out. Jon preaches Christ and Him crucified with a personal application. It is engaging and challenging and made a huge impression on the formation of my theology.

Phil Print would be the next name that comes to my mind. Pastor Phil leads Crossroads Church of Cottage Grove, MN and now with a new campus in Eagan, MN! Within a few months Crossroads will be transitioning to a new campus in Woodbury, MN and will close down the original Cottage Grove site. Crossroads Church is part of the Evangelical Covenant Churches "movement". Pastor Phil has a blog, but in the busyness in this season of his ministry it has gone dormant since late June. I first got to know Phil when I was the teaching assistant for the preaching department of Bethel Seminary. Phil reviewed and graded the first sermon I ever gave publically. He was one of the instructors I recruited to review sermons for subsequent Intro to Preaching classes. I then became his teaching assistant as he moved into a more primary role in teaching at Bethel. A few years after making this initial connection we began to attend Crossroads Church. In Phil's time at Crossroads the church has grown more than 10-fold. Phil is one of the most gifted preachers I know. He has an almost magical way of crafting a message. He has also built up a great group of men around him on his staff and has without question taken all their preaching to places they probably wouldn't have reached otherwise. Being able to sit in on Phil's preaching on a weekly basis, added to a couple of years of listen to him teach preaching classes was wonderful in developing how I approach writing a sermon. There is nothing I would hesitate ask Phil, and any answer he gives I would would trust second only to my Bible. I'm not saying he is perfect, but he is wise and experienced and Christ-focused which gets you a long way in giving good counsel. It has been exciting to watch God bless his ministry the last 4+ years!

For the past 3 years, the pastor I have listened to more than any other is Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. Mark regularly rocks my world with his teaching and preaching. I haven't met Mark, though I did stand 2 feet from him a couple of weekends ago at the Desiring God National Conference. Driscoll has enjoyed fantastic success by any measure, in one of the most difficult cities in the USA to do so. And he has done it with a sledgehammer - screaming Jesus at people for 50-80 minutes a week. Well more than that, but if you boil it down that's what he is about. If you cut him, he'll bleed Jesus. If he writes it, I read it. If he preaches it, I listen and watch it.

The last name on this list is by no means the last pastor who has influenced me greatly, but he ranks right there near the top. That man would be Dr. John Piper. Dr. Piper leads Bethlehem Baptist Church in downtown Minneapolis, MN. Bethlehem is also part of the Baptist General Conference. In Pastor John's time at Bethlehem the influence of that church has gone from a small neighborhood church on the edge of downtown to one of the most influential churches in the world. Never is it about Pastor John. It is solely because of, and to the glory of Jesus Christ. Dr. Piper's writing blew my mind early in my time at seminary. I spent many a late night enraptured by reading one of his sermons. The clarity and passion are as good as it gets. I have over a dozen of his books, and look forward to many more to come.

I pray that God would continue to bless these men's ministries as they have blessed me! May their passion for Christ and His bride (the church) grow, and may their may their ministry be guided, and led by the Holy Spirit.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blogging Anniversary - 10/10/04 to 10/10/08

In October of 2004 I was really just getting my feet under me at Bethel Seminary. As I mentioned in my first post ever, I had been thinking about becoming a blogger for quite some time, and finally had taken the plunge. My writing has changed (and hopefully improved!) over the 816 posts I have made here (this being #817), but at the core it is still the same. I write first and foremost for myself, and then secondarily as a form of ministry (when the posts are applicable) to whoever might stumble upon my corner of the web.

Since I began writing here at Because I said so, I have gotten married, and became a pastor. I have watched friends leave church ministry, and had my truck towed in Minneapolis. I graduated from Seminary, and got a new BBQ grill from Sears.

The post that has brought the most visits to my blog over the years was about Tony Campolo and Eagle Brook Church. Probably the second most visited post, and now the most common reason for the last year or two for people to randomly arrive at this blog is this post about Mark Driscoll (and all my subsequent posts covering his ministry at Mars Hill Church). I posted more in 2005 than any other year. I used to get more comments on my blog than I do now, but I have a lot more traffic now than ever before. I average 120-140 visitors on any given day. Of those, something like 85% are new visitors, and the other 15% are mostly friends, family, church members and stalkers. Just kidding about the stalkers. I think. Whichever category you fall into though, I appreciate you stopping by!

I haven't avoided covering controversial subjects addressing things like Abortion and Homosexual Activism. While they are not the focus of my blog, when these sort of subjects intersected with my life I chose to lean into it rather than ignore or avoid it. For the most part, I have told the story of my life in little bite sized chunks, along with archiving a lot of good ideas/information/articles so I will always be able to refer to them.

It will be interesting to see what occurs in my life in the next four years! I pray they will be as good as these past four were.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

10 Questions to consider before voting Republican or Democrat

Roger E. Olson (PhD, Rice University) is professor of theology at
George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco,
Texas and he offered these questions on the Koinonia Blog.  I'm not advocating one side or the other, both sets of questions beg to be answered.

5 Questions to consider before voting Republican:

1) What will happen to the poor in a Republican administration?

2) Will a Republican administration pursue world peace?

3) How will a Republican administration promote mercy, compassion and justice for all?

4) Is a Republican administration likely to be unduly influenced by large corporations?

5) Can a Republican administration show respect for every human person's dignity and rights?

5 Questions to consider before voting Democratic:

1) What will happen to the not-yet-born in a Democratic administration?

2) Will a Democratic administration keep America and others safe from terrorism?

3) How will a Democratic administration promote security and safety for Americans and others?

4) Is a Democratic administration likely to be unduly influenced by liberal special interest groups?

5) Can a Democratic administration show respect for traditional family values?

For Young Men Only - Book Review

From time to time I am sent a book by a publisher to review. Multnomah Press sent me my most recent book, a book titled: For Young Men Only (subtitled: A guy's guide to the alien gender). is the site that accompanies this book.

On the front cover is a quote from Jeff Foxworthy - you know, the "You might be a red neck..." guy. So I was a bit curious what direction this was going to take, and thankfully it went in a good direction. The book was an enjoyable light read, with a lot of good information. It isn't a religious book, but is solid in most of what it says. It is written clearly, but in a language that today's teen guys will totally get. It connects well.

Instead of being a religious book looking at dating, this book sets out to be more informal, and more informational, providing a good look at what young women are looking for in young men. I couldn't' help but think that this book would have been useful to me when I was in its target market teenage range. It is wise without being condescending, educational without being preachy. It serves as a light for young men into the dark mystery that is women. While women will continue to confound young men after reading this book, it is a good first step to better understanding.

The areas the book covers are:
1. Why do girls pick the fancy boys over the average ones?
2. Why are good girls attracted to bad guys?
3. Why do girls seem so crazy sometimes?
4. Why do girls like you one day, and then want to break up the next?
5. What can guys do to better listen to girls?
6. What go girls really think about sex?

I found sections three and four to be the most interesting to me, but all were well thought out, well researched, well documented and clearly presented.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Blocking Text messages and my cell phone company

I want a cell phone provider who allows me to block people from sending me text messages.  A simple online interface that could control it.  I would like to be able to say that only people in my address book can text me without my approval.  A simple approval system that can be managed via phone or on the net.

Is that too much to ask?  No more spam texts.  No more stoners I don't know texting me at 3:00AM looking to score.  The guy who had my phone number before me must've been a total pot head tool.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sermon - Jonah 4 - Jonah's Anger and God's Compassion

Today's sermon is posted over on our church site at I think it was the best of my sermons from the book of Jonah.

A great article on the effects of porn

If you are a man, or if you know a man, you need to read this article. If you are a lady, or you know a woman, you need to read this article. Read this article. This article comes from the Husbands and Dads Blog.

Written by Chris Diggins, professional counselor (LMHC). You can check out his practice and blog by visiting Relationship Counseling Seattle.

Pornography is sometimes viewed as “normal” or an “art form.” A person might say, “What’s wrong with it?…I am not hurting anybody….everybody does it.” Those who promote, want to use, or can’t stop using porn, often have this perspective.

Here are some of the harmful consequences:

1. Porn often leads to more harmful sexually addictive behavior; e.g., compulsive masturbation, fantasy, promiscuity, exhibitionism, soliciting prostitutes, pedophilia, and rape. The user tends to gravitate toward the type of porn most being observed.

2. Porn by its very nature isolates an individual-making him more intent on satisfying selfish needs even at the expense of his marriage, family, financial stability, and career.

3. Porn stimulates a very powerful sexual desire followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation. Unfortunately, the release provides only momentary satisfaction, then an escalation of the behavior is required in an attempt to maintain a high level of sexual arousal.

4. Porn has the ability to control the user where he cannot stop. The fantasies occur more frequently as the addiction progresses.

Of the two pleasure centers in the brain, one is high impact, thrilling pleasure stimulated by pornography, erotic fantasies, or new sexual encounters. The other is a steady, less intense pleasure realized by walking on a beach, making love with a long term partner, helping a child with homework, experiencing deep feelings (painful or pleasant) and sharing them in a significant relationship.

A man doesn’t have to act out in dramatic ways to create harm in his life. Satisfaction can be achieved in small ways and still be detrimental. A beginner gets tastes of the high impact pleasure and slowly starts to integrate fantasies, images, and desires into everyday thoughts and behaviors. Even if he does not graduate to more involvement, this infiltration will still have a negative impact.

Supermodel Christy Brinkley’s family was destroyed by pornography. She and her husband, Peter Cook, had viewed porn together and considered it harmless. Then she discovered he had been masturbating via a web cam over the internet and had an affair with his 18 year old secretary whom he had groomed for sex since she was 15. She then pursued a public divorce trial to openly display his shameful behavior. In the settlement she was awarded full custody of the children. These severe consequences are just one example of what can happen to people.

People who stimulate the high impact pleasure center too often rarely get enough satisfaction. Porn can generate this type of pleasure with little effort. Once a man is hooked, he will have an extremely difficult time transitioning to healthy, more stable pleasure.

In my psychotherapy practice, couples enter therapy where the man has been caught using porn or acting out sexually. His wife is shocked, dismayed, and extremely angry about the betrayal. More often than not, they both believe it is about willpower and if he could only stay away from the computer, the prostitutes, or the porn, everything would be okay. They fail to realize that the sexual behavior is the symptom not the problem.

This is not like a substance addiction where a user can avoid a drink, a pusher or a drug. This compulsive behavior is lethal, since a man cannot simply avoid erotic thoughts. Especially in our culture, provocative images are everywhere. The underlying problem is that he is addicted to high intensity pleasure and does not know how to experience pleasure from everyday, ordinary life situations; such as, spending quality time with his family or having intimate talks and sharing with his wife. Frequently, neither partner knows how to enjoy these simple pleasures, therefore, it is not just the man who needs therapy. The marriage needs an overhaul where both have to address emotional issues.

I inform the couple, “this unfortunate, painful event can be used to open your eyes and turn your marriage around…you can end up with a wonderful marriage, one you never knew was possible. Yes, your husband betrayed you and he is responsible to repair the damage done to you…and his behavior is indicative of a person who is unhappy, bored, anxious, even depressed in his marriage. He did not know what to do to address his unhappiness. If he is so unhappy that he is willing to endanger his marriage, then more than likely you also are in an unsatisfying marriage….at some point you both will look back on this and the porn will no longer be an issue…in fact you will even be grateful that he got caught.”

The couple needs to learn to replace the depression, loneliness, anxiety and the high intensity pleasure with the everyday pleasures of delight and wonder for their marriage and their family life.

With the clinical evidence rapidly mounting against pornography use, the question remains: how can couples explore intimacy and their sexuality with suffering the negative effects of pornography?

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