Monday, March 31, 2008
Make sure you read the post titled, Why Create "Stuff Christians Like?" because it will help you understand the blogger's heart and his reasoning for creating the website.
Then, read as many posts as you have time for and laugh at yourself or somebody you know!
I did the math this morning and found out that if someone had picked the favorites all the way through, that person would be tied with Kevin Edwards for first place right now. Then, it would just be a matter of how you pick your Final Four. This year, I think North Carolina was the overall No. 1 seed, then I'm not sure how the other three No. 1 seeds ranked.
The point is - I could have been in 1st place rather than 15th!
But, at least I'm not one of these guys who have been mathematically eliminated: Derry Prenkert, Jason Thompson, Dustin Eby and Jeff Simpson. Sorry guys -thanks for playing!
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Finally, a chapter that didn't kick my butt. But the only reason it didn't is because it focused so much on joy it did more to inspire me than to convict me.
I love the way this chapter ties all the disciplines together and challenges you to discover true joy through those disciplines.
Here's a few highlights:
Celebration brings joy into life, and joy makes us strong. Scripture tells us
that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10). We cannot continue long in
anything without it.
Without a joyful spirit of festivity the Disciplines become dull,
death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees.
Wow, that's pretty strong language!
In the spiritual life only one thing will produce genuine joy, and that is
One of the things that nearly destroys children is being forced to be
grateful when they are not grateful.
How many times have I forced my children to say "thank you" when they were not really grateful? Too many!
Christians are called to be free of care, but we find such a way foreign to
When we determine to dwell on the good and excellent things in life, we
will be so full of those things that they will tend to swallow our
I don't think Foster is saying we won't have problems, just that they will not seem as significant if we are dwelling on the good things.
Of all people, we should be the most free, alive, interesting. Celebration
adds a note of gaeity, festivity, hilarity to our lives. After all, Jesus
rejoiced so fully in life that he was accused of being a wine-bibber and a
glutton. Many of us lead such sour lives that we cannot possibly be accused of
Have you ever been around "Christians" who are sour? No wonder the world wants nothing to do with church!
Finally, here's the practical steps to celebration:
1. Singing, dancing, shouting.
2. Laughing. (This includes laughing at yourself: "Let go of the everlasting burden of always needing to sound profound")
3. Accent the creative gifts of fantasy and imagination. (In yourself and others)
4. Make family events into times of celebration and thanksgiving.
5. Take advantage of the festivals of our culture and really celebrate.
Monday, March 24, 2008
A few things to take note of:
1. The top 7 are separated by 20 points, so it's far from over!
2. My bracket is pathetic.
3. My wife is beating me badly. And before you start thinking it's hard on me, let me assure you that I got used to losing to my wife a long time ago. For those of you that know her, remember that she was the college athlete - not me. So, don't worry about my ego, there's nothing left of it!
4. A girl - Joy Baxter - is tied for third place. Way to go Joy!
5. Doing poorly in picking NCAA Tournament games in no way diminishes my love for the tournament itself. It's still the best sports event of the year!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Here's a few NCAA Tournament trivia questions for you:
1. When Cornell and Stanford play later today, it will be a rare matchup of two NCAA teams whose mascots don't end with the letter S. Can you name at least 5 other teams besides the Big Red and the Cardinal whose mascots don't end with the letter S?
2. Can you name at least four players in this year's NCAA Tournament who are the sons of former NBA players/coaches?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment.
I have tried to practice Solitude in the past, most memorably this past summer when I would get up early in the morning to spend about an hour fishing before work. The problem was that it wasn't always a meaningful time. I always enjoyed it, but I didn't always walk back to the house feeling like I accomplished anything - other than catching some fish!
From reading this chapter, I think the purpose of seeking Solitude is to emulate the example of Jesus. He often retreated to a place where He could be alone with His Father. We need to do that too.
... we must seek out the recreating stillness of solitude if we want to be
with others meaningfully. We must seek the fellowship and accountability of
others if we want to be alone safely. We must cultivate both if we are to live
That idea of balance between fellowship and solitude is difficult to achieve, yet I think it is very important if we hope to walk closely with our Father in Heaven and with our brothers and sisters here on earth.
Here are a few of the practical steps I love finding in each chapter of this book:
The first thing we can do is to take advantage of the "little solitudes"
that fill our day.
We can find or develop a "quiet place" designed for silence and
... let's experience with doing deeds without any words of explanation
Let's discipline ourselves so that our words are few and full.
Try to live one entire day without words at all.
Four times a year withdraw for three to four hours for the purpose of
reorienting your life goals.
Building off the last practical step, Foster takes some time to address the setting of goals, which has always been an area of weakness for me.
Goals are discovered, not made.
You are going to go somewhere so how much better to have a direction that
has been set by communion with the divine Center.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Let me first say that I have tried several times in the past to fast, but never felt like it was very fruitful. I think that's because I have a hard time approaching it in the right spirit, with the right mindset and with the right motives. I think I start out on track but quickly let things get out of focus.
So, it was good to read this chapter and get a renewed perspective on fasting. Here are a few of the things I highlighted:
Perhaps in our affluent society fasting involves a far larger sacrifice
than the giving of money.
Fasting must forever center on God. It must be God-initiated and
If our fasting is not unto God, we have failed. Physical benefits, success
in prayer, the enduing with power, spiritual insights - these must never replace
God as the center of our fasting.
The last one was particularly tough to swallow because it is so easy to think those other results - all good things - are the reason to fast.
More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us.
Maybe that's the most difficult thing to deal with when fasting. It always seems like when I've tried to fast, my struggles have been amplified and I lose sight of what I'm doing. I guess those things are supposed to be revealed and I'm still supposed to focus on God. There's a challenge!
Friday, March 14, 2008
I am in charge of setting up the challenge and decided it would be a good idea to invite people from outside the NMC staff to join in. Not only would it give us a greater chance to have a large group, but it might give a few people a chance to beat their pastors at something!!!!!
So, if you want to join in the madness, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll give you the password. If you don't want to join, but would like to keep up with who's winning and who's not, you can see the leaderboard here.
I'll do my best to keep you posted on the standings at the end of each day of games!
Katie and I are going to drop the kids off for an overnight stay with Grandpa & Grandma, then we're off to the land of Goshen to redeem a Hacienda gift card. After that, we're going home to watch a movie or two on our TV!
It won't be the fanciest of dates, but it is going to be a great time for us to reconnect and invest in each other. I can't wait!!!!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Of course, the rim was only about 7 feet high and was on the stage in NMC's Worship Center, but that's beside the point.
Why was there a basketball hoop on the stage in the worship center? I'm glad you asked!
This year, there are about 50 kids in the leauge who claim to have no church affiliation. That's where this stage set comes in. (said dunk occurred on the right-hand basket)
Tonight is the Upward Awards Night, a night to honor the kids, coaches and volunteers who have helped make the league a success. It is also a chance to present the Gospel. Illusionist Jared Hall will be performing and those in attendance will definitely be given a chance to accept Christ.
It's great to work at a place that goes to incredible lengths to reach people for Christ. I'm praying tonight will be a success from that perspective!
Monday, March 10, 2008
This week's chapter is on worship. That is a word thrown around an awful lot in churches today. You have worship services, worship music, worship leaders, worship folders - and I believe all are valid uses of the word as an adjective. But, what does the word worship mean all by itself? Here's a few passages from the book that helped me clarify what worship is, and is not.
(Worship) is kindled within us only when the Spirit of God touches our
human spirit. We can use all the right techniques and methods, we can have the
best possible liturgy, but we have not worshiped the Lord until Spirit touches
We are free in Christ to use whatever forms will enhance our worship, and if any
form hinders us from experiencing the living Christ - too bad for the form.
I think I knew what worship was before I read this chapter, but sometimes my definition of things changes without me knowing it. I sort of viewed worship as a one-way street - it was all about my outpouring of worship on God. But I now see that it involves an interaction.
There was a tiny phrase that caught my attention about halfway through the chapter. It was in a section titled The Priority of Worship:
Activity is the enemy of adoration.
The reason this hit me so hard is because I see it so clearly in my life. I see it with my (lack of) worship, but also with my wife, children and friends. If I'm too busy to spend time with them, how can I properly adore them?
One of the best things about this book is its practicality. Foster is good at giving pointers on how to start training yourself to improve on each discipline. He never makes his suggestions as though they are required, only a possible way to get started. So, here's seven tips for worship:
1. Learn to practice the presence of God daily.
2. Have many different experiences of worship.
3. Find ways to really prepare for the gathered experience of worship.
4. Have a willingness to be gathered in the power of the Lord.
5. Cultivate holy dependency.
6. Absorb distractions with gratitude.
7. Learn to offer a sacrifice of worship.
Finally, here are two sentences that hit home toward the end of the chapter:
If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been
worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change.
Friday, March 7, 2008
"You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all the time."
This truth became apparent again today when I presented an idea for some shirts we are going to order for the staff here at NMC. The staff will be required to wear these shirts at least once and possibly more than that.
So, my idea was to offer the staff a choice of two different styles (polo & t-shirt) and three different colors. And this still seemed to be insufficient.
Our staff of around 50 is made up of many different ages, personalities, personal styles and backgrounds so it should be no surprise that not everyone is going to be pleased with the choices offered, but I was hoping for a better reception.
Oh well, I guess some people are just going to have to take one for the team!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
Dan and I just finished the discipline of simplicity this weekend and I think it's worth sharing the points that really hit home with me.
Probably the best, and most accurate, way of sharing is to give some direct citations from the book, so here you go:
The central point for the Discipline of simplicity is to seek the kingdom of God
and the righteousness of his kingdom first and then everything
necessary will come in its proper order.
If what we have we receive as a gift, and if what we have is to be cared for by
God, and if what we have is available to others, then we will possess freedom
from anxiety. This is the inward reality of simplicity.
If our goods are not available to the community when it is clearly right
and good, then they are stolen goods.
Obviously, this chapter was heavily devoted to the issues of money and possessions. It is an issue that I have, frankly, not thought much about for a long time. I feel like for a long time I was in a good place with this issue, but recently things have changed.
I have not fallen in love with money or possessions, but I have felt myself desiring stuff more than ever. So, this chapter came along at the just the right time.
My wife and I have been working on paying off all our debts, at times with "gazelle intensity" and at times with sloth sluggishness. We know becoming debt free is God's will for our lives because he doesn't want us to be slave to our lenders, but we've gotten sidetracked on occasion.
As a way of wrapping up my reaction to this chapter of the book, I'm going to list the "10 controlling principles for the outward expression of simplicity:"
1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
3. Develop a habit of giving things away.
4. Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
6. Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
7. Look with a healthy skepticism at all "boy now, pay later" schemes.
8. Obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech.
9. Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
10. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
Do any of these make you feel like you're getting punched in the nose, like they do me?