Monday, April 28, 2014

A new Minnesotan

Last week my long time friend, college roommate for three years and partner in ministry moved with his family to Minnesota.

Jon Walberg is going to be missed:  The work that he did at the Christian Center running their athletic programs.  His involvement in his home church.  His friendship.

What stands out to me most about Jon is his integrity.  I can't think of someone else I have more confidence will do the right thing, every time, no matter what, no matter who's watching.  That's awesome.  That's a challenge to me and all of us.

Jon, you'll be missed.  Blessings to you and your family on your new adventure.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Parenting Question: The Birds and the Bees

One thing we need to make sure we talk to our kids about is God's gift of sex.  I don't hope to unpack the whole topic here, but hopefully give a few starters.

One of the easiest ways to start is just talking about babies.  My wife and I are expecting so the topic comes up with my older three boys somewhat frequently.  Do we engage their questions or do we shut them down?  Sex isn't anything to be ashamed of when it's in a marriage relationship, so how do we communicate the truth to children while protecting their innocence as much as possible.

(I say "as much as possible" because kids will lose their innocence at some point.  We all do.  I'd rather be the one giving them the truth about difficult things then someone random breaking it on them all at once in a junior high locker room.)

So what do you talk about?  To start, just ask their thoughts on where babies come from.  After hearing them out, step up and explain it to them.  For young kids they can just know that moms and dads make babies together.  As a child grows, however, they need to hear that you make a baby by having sex.  They need to hear the names of the body parts involved.  And they need to know that within a marriage God says its good.

There's a start on this big topic.  More to come sometime.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Meaning

I recently had the thought: Where do we get the word "Easter" from and should we use it?

So I did a little internet research and decided to pass it on to you.

Two articles that were helpful to me:
Is the Name "Easter" of Pagan Origin? http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2011/04/19/name-easter-pagan
Easter Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter

To quote Wikipedia:
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for "Easter" and "Passover" are identical or very similar.
The Answers is Genesis article expounds on that more fully and is worth a reading if you're interested in the topic.  To quote:
The testimony of Luther and Tyndale in applying the names “Osterlamm” and ”esterlambe” to Christ as the sacrificial Lamb that brings us peace with God seems to be a compelling argument that, even 500 years ago, Easter had no association with pagan worship. However, if the word “Easter” used to refer to the Resurrection, it no longer seems to carry that understanding in the minds of many today. ... In an attempt to honor God, many have desired to move away from the term Easter, using Resurrection Day in its place. What could be more fitting or clearer than to simply refer to the day on which we celebrate the risen Lord as Resurrection Day? I can think of no better solution to this topic, but I am aware that many Christians will continue to use the term “Easter” with a clear conscience. I trust that as this topic is discussed, Christians will seek to keep their focus on the fact that they serve the resurrected Christ—one who has conquered death on their behalf.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bible Books!

I posted about Parenting with the Bible about six months ago.  Here's an updated list of Bible-centered book that have can help kids get into God's word.

  • Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story, even in the Old Testament, points to Jesus.
  • Read and Learn Bible: The stories are a faithful rendition of the actual Bible.  The pictures are pretty good.
  • Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids by Sarah Young: I've been surprised how much our six-year old is into this daily reading.  (Each day is just about the perfect length for a kid.)  And more than once when I ask him what it's about, he convicts me by saying something like "We shouldn't worry because God has everything under control."  Yeah... still working on that one.
  • The Action Bible: This is a comic-book style Bible that we have available at Camp of Champions for kids to read.  Comic-book Bibles normally raise eyebrows, but I have yet to find a story that wasn't faithful to the text of the actual Bible.
  • The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and his People.  We've been reading this one to our older boys.  It's a condensed version of the Bible that keeps a story-like flow going throughout the whole thing.  So far they have been really good at listening to it.
There's a start!  Please reply or comment with any additional "Bible for kids" resources you've used.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Time Blocks

Of course you've heard this before, but it bears repeating:  Each of us has the exact same amount of time as everyone else.  60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year.  If time is money, we're all getting the same paycheck.

What if we looked at our time with the following grid?

Each day has three blocks of time; morning, afternoon, and evening.  Each week has seven days.  In one week you have 21 time blocks with which to build your life.  Pretty simple.

When my wife and I looked at this several years ago, what really affected how we were using our time was when we started to "X" out blocks in the above chart.  Each Sunday we looked at the coming week and gave blocks the X if they were particularly stressful or brought us out of our normal daily rhythm.  We learned that one X a day is about all our family can handle.  Similarly, if we're Xing more than 5 blocks in a week, we all get pretty stressed and the end results aren't good.

I purposefully am not going to define what an X looks like for our family, because I think it is different for everyone. I want you to think through what it looks like for you. What would cause you to X out a time block?

The next question is: How many blocks can you X out each week and still have a sane life and family that is glorifying to God?  (The question is NOT how many blocks do you follow Jesus with?  The answer to that question is ALL of them.)  It's probably worth thinking about because I guarantee you cannot X out 21 blocks and live to tell about it.

Thanks to John Pearson for the 21 time block concept in his Management Buckets book.  This is an updated repost from a similar blog in 2011.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Parenting by default

It's so easy in parenting to mail it in.

Not that we'd ever admit that of course. We want to love our kids and care for them and give them the best. But when the day to day grind comes in, when we get into regular, everyday life with it's lists of to-dos and countless distractions, we put parenting on the back burner. What we end up trending towards, whether we realize it or not, is parenting by the easiest possible means possible.

We trend towards doing less, despite what our desires are for our kids. The challenge, then, is to care. Really care. And to care in such a way that you actually act like it towards your kids. Scores of books have been written about parenting, and I don't have any intentions of writing another one or competing with any of them.  What I would like to do over the next months (years?), however, is write up some thoughts that can serve as a guide.  Blog posts that fall under the “I need to talk about this with my kids" category."

More than anything, I hope any parenting blog post serves as a reminder to care for your kids.  Well.  And right now.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: The Dip by Seth Godin

Some thoughts after reading The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin.

What I Liked:  I liked the message.  The idea that quitters never win is true in some sense, but I liked that Godin helps us realize that we often are stuck doing things that are getting us nowhere and accomplishing little.  We should have the freedom to quit those things.
I liked that this was a short book.  (The subtitle even references it being "little".)  He had one thing to say, and he said it clearly and concisely.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing to dislike here.

Good Quotes:  "Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time."
"Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other."
"Never quit something with great long term potential just because you can't deal with the stress of the moment."
"If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try."

My 2014 "You Should Read This" Ranking:
1. Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll
2. The Dip by Seth Godin
3.  Stranger on the Road to Emmaus by John Cross
4. Manage Your Day to Day by Jocelyn Glei

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fundraising for this summer?

In the last few weeks I've had two people request information about "that book you wrote about fundraising" and received my first "I'm going on summer missions trip and I need your help" request.

It's April.  Spring is (hopefully) in the air.  Fundraising for ministry/missions has started.

If you're looking for some direction as you raise money, I'd challenge you to read Partner Like Paul: A Guide to Fundraising Biblically and Practically.

Yes I wrote it.  But I wrote it because it seemed that much of Christian fundraising didn't really line up with God's word.  I also wrote it because there seems to be a lack of fundraising help for high school and college students as they seek to raise money.  And mostly I wrote it so I could be more Biblical and better at raising money for my support and ministry.

I think it could be a help to you too. Here it is. Free. http://www.pheaney.com/p/partner-like-paul.html