Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Justice is getting close to walking

Successfully Handle Behavior Problems in Children

Shana Schutte has put together a great resource over at Focus on the Family dealing with how to Successfully Handle Behavior Problems.  Below is a most of the opening article with links to plans for each age group of children.  A worthwhile read for all parents.


Dr. Leman is the author of numerous books including Have a New Kid by Friday. In this book, Dr. Leman gives humorous, insightful and effective advice on many behavioral problems for every childhood age and stage. If potty training is driving you crazy, he's got it covered. If you need help teaching your kids to become more respectful of one another, he can help. And if you want to prevent your teens from lighting up, Dr. Leman addresses that, too. In this module we'll share Dr. Leman's expert advice on these and many other parenting challenges, including eating and undereating challenges, wardrobe issues, tattling and put-downs.
Before we begin, Dr. Leman has a few reminders for parents to keep in mind when dolling out discipline.

Remember that your child wants to please you

During my fourth year as a teacher, I taught art to high-energy, hormonal sixth-graders. By March of the school year, I was convinced that although I enjoyed teaching, it wasn't God's calling for my life. So, one week before school ended, I announced that I would be moving on. I wasn't surprised that some of my students weren't sad that I was leaving, but I was surprised that one student in particular cried when I announced my departure.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Babies are Born With Morals?

In an article for The New York Times, Paul Bloom with the Infant Cognition Center at Yale University said a growing body of evidence suggests “...that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life.” He tells of an example of one experiment among many where infants up to one-year-old were placed in front of two puppets, one displaying traditionally “moral,” helpful behavior and the other engaging in more “naughty,” hindering behavior, and the infants would overwhelmingly show a preference for the “good guy” and would even “punish” the naughty puppet in some cases. Bloom also says conventional science has said human babies take a long time to learn basic facts about the physical world and about people, much less about morality, but Bloom says modern psychology has discovered this view to be wrong—that infants react to objects as if they understand them to have certain physical properties, and they treat people differently from inanimate objects. This offers even more hope that babies develop the complex understanding of morality much sooner in their development than previously thought.
(5/3/10 NY Times)

Why do you do it?

Sometimes, it helps to reflect on why you do what you do.
  • Because Jesus Christ changed your life.
  • Because you have a profound and divine calling.
  • Because you see hopeless people all around you.
  • Because you love people and care about their destiny.
  • Because you love people and care about their journey.
  • Because you believe in the truth of Scripture.
  • Because you actually believe eternity is real.
  • Because you know that people (including you) are God’s choice tools.
  • Because you are uniquely built for what you do.
  • Because your part in the Kingdom of God matters.
Why do you do what you do? Please share your reasons.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Worry, Prayer or Planning?

Mark Beeson answers this question with a few thoughts you might find interesting and helpful as you plan your week today...
Worry hurts you. Prayer inspires you. Planning prepares you.
Worry is natural. Prayer is supernatural. Planning intertwines the natural (the world as it is) with the supernatural (the world as it could be and should be).
Worry drains you. Prayer fills you. Planning fulfills you.
Worry isolates you. Prayer connects you. Planning integrates you.
Worry shrinks your vision. Prayer expands your vision. Planning enables your vision to come true.
Marks has a couple of other interesting thoughts on Worry, Prayer, and Planning here.
So... what will it be for you today?  Worry?  Prayer?  Planning?

(HT Todd Rhodes)

Saturday, June 26, 2010 - Vacation Bible School in Waseca!

If you are in the Waseca metro area, allow me to extend an invitation to you and your children to join us at First Congregational Church for Vacation Bible School!  Our theme is called Baobab Blast and our camp will run from 5:30-8:30PM July 26-30th.  For more information check out our website -

From the web site:

Baobab Blast is an open invitation to be a part of God’s Great Get-Together. Set under the impressive baobab tree, kids will have the opportunity to hear the Word, be amazed at God’s wildlife creations, and be a part of a supportive community.

This will be a life-changing experience for your kids as you gather together as a community and grow in faith in Christ. As the sun rises and sets on the savannah, so, too, will faith and relationships grow as kids explore connections with God, family, friends, and others around the world. Get ready to experience the most amazing community get-together under the sun.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tim Keller on church size and how it impacts your leadership style

I love Tim Keller.  He writes such great stuff - outstanding clarity and conviction.  Below is the first part of an article he recent wrote on  Click through at the end for a lot more of the article (like 5x's as much more!).


One of the most common reasons for pastoral leadership mistakes and missteps is blindness to the significance of church size. Size has an enormous impact on how a church functions; that being said, the “size-culture” profoundly affects how decisions are made, how relationships flow, how effectiveness is evaluated, and how its staff operates. We tend to think of the primary differences between churches in strictly denominational or theological terms, but that underestimates the impact of size on how a church operates. The difference between how two Presbyterian churches, one of 100 people and one of 2,000 members, function may be greater than the difference between a Presbyterian and a Pentecostal church of the same size. The staff person who goes from a church of 400 to a church of 2,000 is making a far greater change than if he or she moved from one denomination to another.
When Lyle Schaller gives names to the different church-size categories, he deliberately chooses completely different “orders of being.” He calls a church of less than 35 members a “cat,” a church of 100-175 a “garden,” and a church of 225-450 a “mansion.” Why? Because a larger church is not simply a larger version of a smaller church. The differences in communication, community formation, and decision-making processes are so great that the leadership skills required in each are almost of a completely different order.


Every church size presents the pastor with particular obstacles and opportunities for biblical functioning peculiar to the category. For example, smaller church sizes make discipline and accountability far easier than it is in larger churches. However, it is easier to practice lay ministry and the priesthood of all believers in larger churches, where pastoral care must be done on a large scale by lay leaders. Smaller churches tend to acquiesce to clericalism. To use another example, larger churches in general have something of an advantage in evangelism; they can provide more “doors” into the church through their numerous programs. Also, many (not all!) non-Christians feel too visible to visit smaller churches.
A. Every church has a “size-culture,” which must be accepted. Most people probably have a size-culture they prefer. However, many people moralize their favorite size-culture and treat other size categories as spiritually or morally inferior. They may insist that the only biblical way to do church is to practice a different size-culture, despite the fact that the church itself is much bigger or smaller than they desire it to be.
  • For example, if some members of a church of 800 feel they should be able to get the senior pastor personally on the phone without much difficulty, they are insisting on getting the kind of pastoral care that an under 200 size-culture provides. Of course, the pastor will soon be overwhelmed. The members may insist, however, that if he can’t be reached, he is failing in his biblical duty to be their shepherd, though there is a lack of biblical warrant for this claim.
  • Another example is that of a new senior pastor of a 1,000-member church insisting that virtually all decisions be made by consensus of the whole Session and staff. Soon the elders are meeting every week for six hours each time! But the pastor may insist that for staff members to be making their own decisions means they are acting without accountability or that the staff lacks community. But to impose a size-culture practice on a church that does not have that size will wreak havoc on it and eventually force the church back into the size with which the practices are compatible.
  • Another example is that of new members who have just joined a smaller church after years of attending a much larger church. They may begin complaining about the lack of professional quality in the church ministries and insisting that this shows a lack of spiritual excellence. The real problem is that in the smaller church things are done by volunteers that in the larger church are done by full-time staff. Also, the members might complain that the pastor’s sermons are not as polished and well-researched as they have come to expect from that of a larger church. But while a large-church pastor with multiple staff can afford to put 20 hours a week into sermon preparation, the solo pastor of a smaller church can devote less than half of that time each week.
From later in the article:

The smaller church by its nature gives immature, outspoken, opinionated, and broken members far more power over the whole body. Since everyone knows everyone else, when a family or small group of members expresses strong opposition to the direction set by the pastor and leaders, that small group’s misery can hold the whole congregation hostage. If they threaten to leave, the majority of people will urge the leaders to desist in their project. It is extremely difficult to get complete consensus from a group of 50-150 people about program and direction, especially in today’s diverse, fragmented society. Yet in smaller churches there is an unwritten rule that almost everyone must be happy with any new initiative in order for it to be implemented. Leaders of small churches must be brave enough to lead and to confront immature members in spite of its unpleasantness.

For the full article click here.

Dr. Timothy Keller is founder and senior pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. He is The New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God,The Prodigal God, and Counterfeit Gods.

Is your church dying?

Top 10 signs of...
10.    There’s plenty of parking near the building for weekend services. 
9.      You can always get your favorite seat, or simply ask who is sitting in it to move.
8.      The music is always familiar, and never too loud.
7.      The pastor has been in everyone’s home, and knows everybody’s name.
6.      You are never asked for money.
5.      Phrases like, “We’ve never done it that way before,” “I’m not being faithless, just realistic,” “Why pray? God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do,” “If God wants His church to grow it will grow – we don’t have to do anything,” and “They really should do something about that” are common refrains.
4.      You can be confident that whatever change there is will be incremental, insignificant, and will only happen with your direct input and approval.
3.      There aren’t any of those left-leaning, evolution-believing, gay-marriage supporting, Harry Potter reading pagans daring to attend; just the pro-family, Christian-radio listening, fish-sticker wearing, big-Bible carrying types.
2.      The Bible is seldom taught in ways that are uncomfortable or challenging.
1.      It is always about you – getting fed, getting ministered to, with services evaluated by what you get out of it.
Yep, there you have it. The top ten signs of
...a dying church.
(click above to see original)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Methodist Seminary to Add Muslim, Hindu and Jewish Curriculum

Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, plans to launch a new program this fall called The University Project " as a means to rethink classical models of theological education in an effort to promote inter-religious cooperation and ethical integrity in the training of religious leaders for a variety of religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others." The new approach is intended to create leaders who not only preach tolerance, but have lived it themselves by interacting with those of other faiths. []

Apostasy or good idea?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Too many pastors?

While it's been hard to fill a pulpit during the last 10 years, Christian denominations are now experiencing a clergy glut — with some denominations reporting that they have two ministers for every vacant pulpit.

Marcia Myers, director of the vocation office for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has four ministers for every opening, commented, "We have a serious surplus of ministers and candidates seeking calls." According to their data, PCUSA has 532 vacancies and 2,271 ministers seeking positions.

The Assemblies of God, United Methodist Church and the Church of the Nazarene have reported significant surpluses, as well. "There is just no place to go," said Patricia M.Y. Chang, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, who has studied clergy supply and demand for more than a decade. In the 1950s, there were roughly the same number of ministers as there were U.S. churches. But, now there are almost two ministers for every church, according to the latest Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches (607,944 ministers and 338,713 congregations).

This shift within denominations — which, not long ago, actively recruited pastors to fill their pulpits — reflects the impact of an ailing economy. Staff have been cut in churches where struggling parishioners are giving less, and older clergy are delaying their retirement because of their decreasing retirement funds. This leaves fewer positions available to younger ministers in a highly competitive job market where a "jack-of-all-trades" is expected to fill an opening.

Small congregations, however — those with 100 members or fewer — make up the majority of U.S. Protestant churches, but, in those pulpits, there's also a shortage of ministers. According to a 2008 study of the PCUSA, 71 percent of churches with fewer than 100 members had no permanent pastor. []

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Protest Against Mosque by Ground Zero

Thousands of protesters gathered around the corner of Liberty and Church Streets in New York City last Sunday to voice their opposition to a proposed "mega mosque" near Ground Zero. A New York community board had voted 29-1 last month in favor of the plans to build the center. Opponents of the Muslim-led project say building an Islamic center so close to Ground Zero would be demeaning to the 2,976 victims and offensive to their family members of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The new Islamic mosque plans to open its doors on Sept. 11, 2011 — the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. [,]

What do you think about this?  Interesting dilemma, freedom of religion, or just say no?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Do Children Make Parents More Active Churchgoers?

A new research study by Barna Group, conducted among nearly 700 parents of children under the age of 18, asked respondents to describe how having children affected their connection to a church or faith community. The following are essentially five ways these parents describe how having children influenced their involvement with a church:
  • No influence. The largest share of parents (50%) reported that having children did not influence their connection to a church. This perspective was most common among parents in the Northeast and West and among college graduates. Nine out of 10 atheists and agnostics said it made no influence, along with nearly seven out of 10 adults associated with a faith other than Christianity. Among Christian parents, 47 percent said that having children did not change their church life.
  • Reconnected. About 17 percent said that having a child helped them reconnect with church after a long absence. Lower income homes and Hispanic parents were most likely to identify with this group.
  • More active. Twenty percent of parents said they were already active, but became more involved after having children.
  • Less active. Four percent of parents said that having children actually decreased their involvement with a church, this being most common among single parents and Asians.
  • New commitment. Only one out of every 20 parents said that having a child helped them become active in a church for the first time. Midwest parents were among the most likely to express this view, as were Catholics and Hispanics.
To view the full report, click here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Moving toward a light brown world - interracial marriage

I love this trend.  I miss the ethnic diversity of the neighborhood we lived in East St. Paul.  Why does color still matter to some in this day and age?  I reject that kind of thinking.

From FOTF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing:

A dramatic increase in "marrying out" has taken place in the United States, according to analysis by the Pew Research Center and the new U.S. Census Bureau data. In 2008, a record 14.6 percent of all new marriages were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from each other — an estimated six times the intermarriage rate among newlyweds in 1960 and more than double the rate in 1980.

This record rate includes marriages between a Hispanic and non-Hispanic (Hispanics are an ethnic group, not a race), as well as marriages between spouses of different races — be they white, black, Asian, American Indian or those who identify as being of multiple races or "some other" race. However, different groups experienced different trends: rates more than doubled among whites and nearly tripled among blacks; but, for both Hispanics and Asians, rates were nearly identical in 2008 and 1980.

But, this attitudinal and behavioral change did not come overnight. As of 1987 — two decades after the Supreme Court ruled anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional — just 48 percent of the public said it was "OK for whites and blacks to date each other." By 2009, that share had grown to 83 percent. Acceptance is highest among young adults. Among adults ages 18 to 32, 93 percent approve; among adults ages 64 and older, 68 percent approve.

The Pew Research survey in 2009 posed the question: "How do you think you would react if a member of your family told you they were going to marry a [white American/African-American/Hispanic-American/Asian-American]? Would you be fine with it, would it bother you but you would come to accept it, or would you not be able to accept it?" When respondents revealed their attitudes about interracial marriage, 63 percent said it would be fine with them if a family member married "out" to all three other major racial and ethnic groups tested in the survey, and 80 percent said they would be fine with a new member of their family who came from at least one of the "out" groups. In fact, according to the census data, more than a third of adults (35%) say they have a family member who is married to someone of a different race.

This 2009 survey found that acceptance of out-marriage to whites (81%) is somewhat higher than is acceptance of out-marriage to Asians (75%), Hispanics (73%) or blacks (66%). The survey also showed the flip side of the same coin: Black respondents are somewhat more accepting of all forms of intermarriage than are white or Hispanic respondents. Visit the Pew Research site or click here for the full report.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

I haven't forgotten about this blog

I was just here (click on the photo to see full size):

and I was busy with a paddle in my hands and trying to not drown and hoping to connect with 5 other great guys.  I was successful on both fronts.

I went to the BWCA for the first time of my life last week.  We put in on #27 Snowbank Lake and ended up staying on an island in the middle of Disappointment Lake at camp # 1386.

Originally we thought we'd push through to the Jordan Lake area, but the weather had different plans.  We got some significant wind - far greater than we wanted to paddle through - so instead we were lazy.  We sat around camp and fished (I watched) and ate fish.  Life was good, very good.  Nice and relaxing.  And I didn't get a single bug bite until the day we left.  Then I got TORE UP by the little flying demons while portaging a canoe with my backpack on my back.  Hard to fight back with a canoe over your head.

So now I am itching and scratching something like 40 bites that run from my ankles to my thumbs, but it was worth it.

Some other time I'll regale you with the adventure we had paddling out.  We went out through Parent Lake, and that was a mistake.  Big Mistake.  BIG.