Archive for February, 2007

Bethlehem Baptist Gets an Online Facelift

February 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Bethlehem Baptist Church (where John Piper serves as teacher elder) has recently launched a new website and is going to begin using a new logo. I think the site is sharp-looking and contains a lot of valuable information. However, all the content could be its primary drawback; it will depend, I guess, on how user friendly the different links and pages are.

Here is an excerpt of what Piper had to say about the new logo and website…

We love the way the green color breathes with life — the gift Christ bought for us on the cross. And we see the circles as people coming to the cross and exploding to the world. We think the new logo captures more of the vision of Treasuring Christ Together, since Christ is at the center of it and because it works for all the campuses, not just downtown. May the Lord make us living, Christ-exalting, cross-centered, and gathering worshippers and world witnesses!

So is green the ‘in’ color for church websites these days? (Mars Hill)

I think that having a good looking church website is only going to increase in importance as time goes by. More and more people are searching for churches online. Many people will make a decision about visiting or not visiting your church based on your website alone. I think that investing in a nice, clean, sharp looking, user friendly website (that includes both information and experiences, such as podcasts and vodcasts) is a vital part of any First Impressions ministry, and it is something that cannot be over-looked or under-funded.

Categories: Churches, Web design

Lent Reflection #3

February 28, 2007 Leave a comment

A few people at work have asked me why I participate in lent if I am not Catholic or Lutheran. I try to explain to them that I do it because I want to join with the greater Christian church in focusing more intently on Jesus’ presence in my life leading up to Easter. Usually that is enough. But there is another reason which I think is best illustrated with a story.

Last week we have hired a couple new team members to boost our scheduling options during the Lent season. One of the new guys has seemed to catch on very quickly. The other guy is not coming along quite as speedily. Yesterday, while I was working with new guy #2 in the kitchen, I was having an internal struggle over how to proceed with him. On one hand I don’t want to waste a lot of time and money training a guy who is not going to be around for the long haul. Yet on the other hand I was questioning my own impatience with the training process. I am the kind of person who expects people to ‘get it’ quickly, and I am not wired well to come alongside slower people and help them develop at an introductory level. An analogy that I really resonate with is, “It would be a much better fit for me to coach the Varsity team rather than the Junior Varsity team.”

But since I believe in the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, and since I am really trying to pray and hear that voice during Lent, I spent my day with new guy #2 praying and trying to discern how God would have me handle the situation. Amazingly he spoke to me directly – through the mouth of new guy #2’s. As we were cleaning up in the kitchen after the lunch period new guy #2 says to me, “Are you into religion? Like do you go to church and stuff?” I told me that yeah I am into religion and that I got ot church and he replies, “Yeah I could tell. You just have something different about you. Like there is a light shining through you or something.” No lie, that’s almost exactly what he said. Then we went on to talk for about 15 minutes about Jesus and salvation and what how difficult it can be for young people to wholly commit their lives to Jesus. I was blown away by how God choose to answer my prayer.

So why does I participate in lent? Because when I give something up for God, He shows up for me. And it reminds me all over again how truly glorious and powerful and close by He really is. Yesterday I went from feeling like letting the kid go, to wanting to keep him around and watching to see if God might use me to change this kid’s life. Many days I wonder why the Lord has me in the place he does. I am not in a position that I love, nor I am doing something that I derive deep satisfaction from. But maybe I am where I am because God has some heart-work to do in my life, and he is using my conversations and actions with a bunch of hurting 17-22 year olds to teach me what it really means to love people. Participating in lent (by fasting) clears the way for me to see this kind of stuff more sharply.

Categories: Lent

Fr eeeeeeee zing

February 28, 2007 1 comment

It is just after midnight and I had to run something outside to my mailbox. I was wearing a T-shirt and trying to convince myself that I could walk for miles and not get cold. The delusion didn’t last long. By the time I got back to my front door I was freezing and thinking about, “How horrible it must be to freeze to death.”

Can you imagine? The shivering and shaking would be too much to handle. As I was thinking about dying by freezing I prayed a pray of thankfulness. God has given me so much more than I need. My house stays warm all winter and cool all summer. We have more blankets and jackets than we need. We are so blessed.

Thank you Jesus.

Categories: Life

Early Morning Exercise

February 26, 2007 Leave a comment

Watching my brother play has given me the bug for my former hockey glory days. So this morning I went to the local rink and skated in a 6:15 am pick-up game. It is the first time I’ve played since this summer and it reminded me of two things: 1) how much I love the sport, & 2) how completely out of shape I am.

Categories: Sports

Doing the Least for Romania

February 26, 2007 Leave a comment

This summer I had the chance to write my first published article for a quarterly Bethel Seminary publication called Heart & Mind magazine. The piece was focused on a woman who 11 weeks doing an internship in Romania. It was good learning experience for me in writing and I’m thankful that I was given the opportunity.

If you interested you can read the article online: Doing for the Least in Romania.

Categories: Writing

Bethel Wins the MIAC Conference Championship

February 25, 2007 Leave a comment

It was an exciting night for my alma mater as the Bethel University Royals beat St. Olaf 6-3 to win their first MIAC Championship ever. Despite the slippery snowy conditions the Balvin family headed across town to watch my brother Jeff play and we were not disappointed. Jeff played an inspired third period, which including scoring when one of the most awesome goals I have seen all year.

Picking up the puck at the offense blue line Jeff cruised down the zone diagonally towards the net. He faked a move towards the middle and then slide back to the outside creating a sharp angle at the net. The fake got the goalie to dip his shoulder down just low enough so that Jeff could ‘roof’ the puck up into the upper part of the net. I think I might have kicked the girl sitting in front of me when I leaped off the bleachers to celebrate.

It was a fun night and the success is a long time coming for the Bethel hockey program. Here’s a link to the official game story: Bethel claims first regular season MIAC Title in team history with 6-3 win over St. Olaf

Categories: Family, Sports

Parenting with a Purpose

February 24, 2007 Leave a comment

Mark Batterson shares a good reminder when he writes,

I just know that if I let my kids grow up without any strategy or intentionality I’ll regret it the rest of my life. I want to mentor and disciple my kids. I want to be as proactive as I can possibly be. Nothing is as challenging. Nothing is more important.

The tension between wanting your kids to know you love them and the need to discipline and train them for healthy functioning adulthood can be difficult. I want more than anything else for my kids to grow up knowing that Jesus and their dad delight in them. But sometimes I have to make the choice to bring unpleasantness into their world for their greater long term good.

I agree with Mark that parents need to very intentional with their kids. Haphazarded parenting is a big mistake. You don’t always see the full effects of ‘parenting without a purpose’ when the children are young, but as they grow older they develop as products of their environments. I don’t want that to be the case with my kids. I want to teach them to be people who are merciful, loving, trustworthy, kind, generous, joyous, grateful and righteous. And because these traits don’t develop naturally in our fallen humanity I have to be intentionally modeling and teaching them to my kids.

But most of all I have to pray. Pray everyday that God would send his Spirit to take captive the hearts of my kids and put a big love in them for God and all that he is.

Categories: Parenting