Friday, February 24, 2012

Jimmy Fallon does Jeremy Lin parody to Pearl Jam's Jeremy

This is Jimmy Fallon at his very best in my opinion. I'm fairly indifferent to Fallon usually, but love Pearl Jam, and this mashup for Jeremy Lin of the NBA's New York Knicks is exceptionally well done!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Conflict resolution - crib sheet

1)  Is it worth it?
-Is this conflict worth it?  We fight over stupid things.  Are you trying to prove a point or make progress?

2)  Same team
-Spouse/family = same team. Nobody loves you more.  They're invested in you, they have skin in the game.

3)  Appropriate response
-Don't make mountains out of molehills.  Behave like an adult. 

4)  Grace
-Grace is unmerited.  Don't be the stopping point of grace.  Jesus gave it to you, pass it on.

5)  The problem isn't the problem
-Our anger leaks out sideways.  So we're angry about something and it manifests elsewhere.  Even towards people who weren't part of the initial problem.

This is just a collecting point for some of my thoughts that others might find useful.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Am Second - Book Review

I am Second on

My first exposure to I Am Second came about a year ago – long before I got the book.  I saw a link to one of their videos, clicked through, and was immediately impressed with their work.  Earlier last Fall I used a series of their videos as conversation starters with the teens in our church.  Powerful real life testimonies from some of the people the students look up to really were great fuel for faith discussions.

So when the book came out, I knew that I was going to read it.  I entered in with high expectations, and the book met and even exceeded them in many places.  First, I was impressed by the number of interviews they used.  I had seen a handful of the videos for the people featured in the book, but that didn’t dissuade me in any way from reading about them all once again.

Another strength of the book is the diversity of those whose stories they are featuring.  It ranges from Korn band member Brian “Head” Welch, MLB player Josh Hamilton, MMA fighter Vitor Belfort, US Army Captain Chris Plenkenpol to Pastor Nate Larkin.  The stories are their stories (and many others) about real life and real struggle and the real healing that is needed in our world – healing that can only come from Jesus.

As a warning – I wouldn’t recommend the book for young readers.  There are places where the reality of the stories are graphic (not in a perverse way) and cover content that young eyes and minds don’t yet need to be exposed to.  But for everyone else it is gritty and real and inspiring and hope giving.  The stories are all well crafted while yet allowing the voice of each individual to come through loud and clear.  You can read the book a chapter at a time, and in any order, or cover to cover.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.  I did not pay for it, but was not paid for the review, nor was there an agreement (implicit or official) that I would give it a favorable review.

Josh Hamilton:

Brian "Head" Welch:

Colt McCoy:

Nate Larkin:

For more I Am Second videos click here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sam's Club - awesome customer service experience

From time to time I point out here on my blog some of the failures in customer service I experience.  I also like to point out when someone really gets it right, as is the case below.

Yesterday I bought a "dozen" red roses for my wife for Valentine's Day from the Sam's Club in Mankato, MN.  When I presented them and she started to cut stems and arrange them she quickly came to realize there were only 10 flower in the bundle.

Odd.  I'm pretty sure the signage said a dozen.  A dozen is the standard unit of measure for roses at this time of the year.  So I decided to contact Sam's Club today online about what happened.  Mistakes happen, and I guess they could've been selling groups of 10 to hit a price point (I doubted that, but was only 99% sure).  I said in the message online who I was, what my member number is (so they could look the transaction up) and what happened.  No complaint beyond that, just more of an FYI and to verify it was supposed to be a dozen and not ten.

Three hours later I had a personally typed message from the manager in charge of that department in the Mankato store.  I had contacted the company through the national web site, so I assume it had to go through a couple of levels of people before it made it back to the local store.  In that message the manager apologized, stated that he went out immediately and double checked their inventory to make sure there weren't others, and the assurance that they would send me a gift card for the price of the flowers "plus something extra for your time".

Wow.  That is over the top impressive customer service.  While I am obviously a member there, and would continue to do business there, that is still a difference maker in terms of how I have been treated.  I wasn't looking for nor expecting a refund honestly.  It was just 2 flowers, and my wife still knows I love her.  So needless to say - I'm impressed.

Good job Sam's Club!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Enemies of the Heart - by Andy Stanley

In typical Andy Stanley form, Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control You is a well focused book with lots of practical and applicable real world wisdom.  I have always enjoyed Andy Stanley’s ability to communicate difficult truths in simple ways, and that holds especially true for the four subjects he tackles in this book – namely guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.  He has the ability to be piercingly insightful from a biblical perspective, while maintaining a very disarming “aw shucks” kind of humor.

I have read a handful of Stanley’s other books, and for me at least this was the one that I least connected with on a personal level, but only because I feel I don’t have deep struggles in these areas (not that I don't struggle with them at times though).  But where I found it incredibly useful is that as a pastor it both gives me some insight into others, and equips nicely with some tools and ideas for helping people work through their struggles in life in these areas.  I see a sort of symbiotic relationship between this book and Pete Scazero’s books on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and Church.

The book is divided into four sections, with the first portion being focused on helping us understand that sin is a heart issue.  Of the four sections I found this to be the most “review” like portion, but interesting nonetheless.

The second section covers what Stanley calls the debts that we have as a result of our sins.  This is where the book really begins to hit its stride, and is the segment that is probably the most eye opening for most people.  He manages to clarify the bondage(s) we have in sin with great clarity, showing how we get stuck on our guilt/anger/greed/jealousy.  This portion alone is worth the price of the book just for the awareness of the state of sin in which we often live that accompanies our reading this segment.

Part three moves into the nuts and bolts practical application of confronting and combating these areas of sin in our lives.  While it isn’t quite on the level of simplicity and wisdom found in Proverbs, it isn’t all that far off, and is far more cohesive in overall thought since the scope is narrowed down to just four areas.

Part four was in a sense an unexpected (short) bonus.  Stanley could’ve stopped after the third section, but in section four he goes on to help us focus on the bigger picture issue of how our sin and the way we deal with them impacts the world around us – especially in our family relationships.

At the back of the book are some questions that go along with each chapter that would serve a small group discussion well.  From beginning to end a very good book, one that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to my family, friends or flock.

This book was given to me by Water Brook Multnomah Press for review.  I am not paid for the review in any way, nor must I give it a positive review.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Movement, monument, mausoleum

Movement, monument, mausoleum
by Ray Ortlund

Some years ago a friend of mine used these three simple categories to objectify the stages of a church’s rise and fall.


A healthy church is born as a burst of positive gospel energy. As in the preceding post, it’s a Pentecostal explosion of joy, a vital gospel movement. Such a church has a sense of mission, even a sense of destiny. It’s exciting to be in this church. Think of a steep upward trajectory.


Given human weakness, after a time, this movement becomes a monument. The spirit of the church changes from hunger to self-satisfaction, from eagerness to routine, from daring new steps of faith to maintaining the status quo, from outward to ingrown. It’s easy not to notice this shift. The self-image of the church might still be that of a vital movement. But deep within, everything has changed. Think of leveling off.


If this trend is not arrested, the church will decline and become a mausoleum, a place of death. The church as an institution may have enough social momentum and financial resources to keep churning on. But as a force for newness of life, it no longer counts. Think of steep decline – indeed, a death spiral.

The responsibility of a church’s leaders is to discern when their movement is starting to level off as a monument. It is at this crucial point that they must face themselves honestly and go into repentance and return to the costly commitments that made them great to begin with. They may need to deconstruct much of what they have become, which is painful. But if the leaders will have the clarity and courage to do this, their church will go into renewal and re-launch as a movement once more. Jesus will become real again, people will be helped again, and those bold, humble leaders will never regret the price they paid.

“Remember from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” Revelation 2:5

Friday, February 10, 2012

NBA player Jeremy Lin is a Christian

While he might not (yet) be getting quite the attention that Tim Tebow did this past NFL season, NBA player Jeremy Lin is very open about his faith in Jesus Christ.  Patheos has a two part interview they did with him two years ago while he was still playing for Harvard.  Part 1 and Part 2.  It is fun to see Lin get the spotlight while leading the New York Knicks these past few games.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Sin is a universal human problem

God's grace through Jesus is indeed available and fully extended irrespective of your sexuality. But Jesus is not content to just let people live the way they were, He is in the business of life and eternity transformation. And that includes putting sin behind us. Sin is not a human rights issue, sin is a universal human problem. So we then have to choose after having encountered Jesus whether we will be like the rich young ruler who was unwilling to give up what was holding him back, or whether we will be as the woman at the well who puts her past behind her and goes and proclaims the name of Jesus as a transformed follower of Christ.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Better Marriage Part 3 - Marital Conferences

A collection of thoughts and ideas. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 as well.
Marital Conferences (like school, but not)
What are you concerned about?
What do you wish? (would happen, would be the result)
What are you willing to do?
-done on an as needed basis.
-done before major blow-ups.
-done as frequently as daily to begin, then tapering off as the conflict(s) are resolved.

Realize that in conflict, the other person isn’t always ready to say “sorry” when you are.

Admit that what you are doing isn’t working.  This probably means that you can’t fix it on your own.  Just because my car won’t run and I can’t fix it doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed and isn’t worth fixing.  It takes courage to admit you can’t fix it and seek help.

Keep in mind that you can only work on your side of the equation.  Take ownership of that. 

Be honest.  Admit what you have contributed to the conflict.

Be in control of your response.  When you lose control in anger, you give power to the other person.

Is your response appropriate?  There are A-level conflicts – Example:  the other person had an affair, physical abuse.  There are B-level conflicts – Ex:  the other person was intentionally hurtful verbally, spent $1000 clothes/tool shopping without consulting the other.  There are C-level conflicts – Ex:  forgot to take out the garbage, ate the last 4 cookies, left the toilet seat up.
-Don’t make a “C” a “B” or “B” an “A” in conflict (or the opposite direction to justify yourself).
-A-C is just an example, you might find A-D categorization better fits, but agree upon what goes where.
-Where things go might be different for different people.  That’s OK.  But if there is disagreement, the higher level should be accepted out of caution and courtesy. 
-Not everything is an A or a B.
-Persistent violation at one level can move it into the next level.
-You don’t have to spell out every single scenario.  A rough working framework is all that is needed so there can be healthy conversation.

Is the timing of your response appropriate?  In the heat of the moment is often not the right time to correct or respond to the other.  Even if it makes you feel better.  Especially if it makes you feel better.  This requires regular times where you both agree to talk things through.  After supper.  Before bed.  Every 2nd Tuesday after the first full moon.  It is important to know the other person well enough to know when to let it rest until the next meeting.  Some things can be dealt with in the moment, they are generally those “C” level items.

The most important thing to do in blended families is to put your mate 1st.  That is the case in any marriage, but ESPECIALLY in blended families.  This presupposes Jesus as the ultimate #1.
            -Allows for security in the relationship.
            -You have to be on the same page on vision, values and discipline.
                        -You may need to sit down and establish these things.

(much of this wisdom in one form or another I have learned from Chip Ingram)

Better Marriage Part 2 - Building oneness in a marriage

A collection of thoughts and ideas. Check out Part 1 and Part 3 as well.

Building oneness in a marriage
–There are some things your car – and marriage – can’t run without.

1.  Fuel of commitment
            -Commitment is a lifelong choice of unconditional love
            -Love = giving another person what they need the most when they deserve it the least at great
personal cost.
            -Jesus on the Cross
            -Hebrews 13:5 – God shows the kind of commitment we need.
            -Every time you do something for your mate when you don’t want to, the commitment grows and it
                        communicates that to them and fuels your marriage.

2.  Oil of communication
            -Keep communicating or it melts down.

3.  Tune-up of caring
            -Have fun, go on dates, enjoy one another, and goof off together.
            -Time alone as a couple to have fun together.
            -Where and how can you build in the fun and joy of friendship back into your relationship?

4.  Navigational system of commission
            -Where are you going as a couple?
            -Common mission pulls people together.
            -What do you do together as husband and wife that matters more than both of you individually?
                        -These would be the things you pray about.
                        -Things you work on together.

(much of this wisdom in one form or another I have learned from Chip Ingram)