Monday, April 28, 2008

A very sad day -

My heart is extremely sad today as I reflect on a family that have so much to the ministry at Calvary Church in White Bear Lake. As some of you may have heard, Chaplain Andrew Paulsen and wife, Kristi, were preparing to leave last Thursday afternoon to move to South Dakota to take on a new lead position at a church when their 22 month old daughter, Norah, fell from a two story window. She was pronounced dead on the scene. Can you imagine? How can anyone wrap their mind around this tragedy? Today I will be with the family as we grieve the loss of Norah. Andrew and Kristi also have an 11 month old son, and one on the way. Please keep this family in your prayers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Good Morning - Ukraine

Our friend, Pastor Sergei from Ukraine, sent me this video of our last visit with them in November of 2007. As you can see, we were a little tired from a lot of late night fun!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where's the Dog?

The other day my wife and I were sitting on our porch with our goldendoodle, Morgan (half golden retriever & half standard poodle - not really a "mans" dog). We are proud to say that after two years of training her (invisible fencing) she is one obedient dog. However, right before our very eyes, Morgan just got up and walked away from us as though the invisible fencing didn't exist. She was heading out to explore the "outer" world.

What about people? No matter how wide the parameters or broad the boundary markers, there is something that pulls us across the fence.

Pastor Tim Stevens in his book, Pop Goes the Church, describes the pull to go elsewhere like this:

Your marriage is great, but there is a relationship just across the fence that is interesting and exciting.

You have enough money, but you think the amount of money just across the fence would make you happier or give you more freedom.

Your job is good, but the guy across the fence seems happier.

You love your church, but you've heard all about the bells and whistles about that one church, and you wonder if you should check it out.

You're doing great watching your weight, but it stinks to have to count every calorie. That juicy cheeseburger just across the fence surely won't take you too far off track.

In your yard you are single, surely the married yard is better. Or you are married and wish you were single again. Or you don't have kids and wish you did. Or you have kids and can't wait until they are out of the house, like the couple across the fence who has total freedom with their time.

Yes, there is something enticing about the "possibilities" across the fence. You can pray this week that God gives me the wisdom to enjoy my own yard, and the courage to deny the temptations from across another yard. I'll pray the same for you.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

How Do you Know if Your Vision is from God?

As a Pastor I often experience the excitement or thrill of God taking His church (like Willowbrook) to the next level. And yet, the one thing I've truly learned in my many years of ministry about God is this: He's always placing us in a position of faith. So how does a pastor, or any Christian for that matter, know when it is God's vision? Great question. My friend Perry Noble gave me these great landmarks. What do you think?

If you feel confident that you can accomplish what is in front of you with no problem at all…then you didn’t hear from God.

If no one is angry at you…then you didn’t hear from God.

If you don’t have to ask anyone to sacrifice to make the vision come true…then you didn’t hear from God.

If religious people are not steaming at you, blogging about you and/or leaving your church…then you didn’t hear from God.

If you have the money in the bank to do what God has asked you church to do…then you didn’t hear from God.

If every step is perfectly designed and nothing happens to totally throw you off along the way…then you didn’t hear from God.

If someone doesn’t try to talk you out of what you are about to attempt…then you didn’t hear from God.

If you don’t stay up at night thinking about the vision…then it probably isn't from God.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What is with the Elephant?

I'm starting a new series on Sunday that I'm really excited about. I received this message series from a great guy/friend named, Mark Batterson. Mark explains that churches, like Willowbrook, can become much like a family that tend to avoid dealing directly with moral issues that confronts them. Instead, it's like having an elephant in the room which everyone sees, but no one wants to talk about. This can be said of your work place, at your home, in your marriages, and at your church.

So take a moment to give me your feedback on what "gray" areas you think are out there that the church should address - that nobody is talking about?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trivia: What do these have in common?

What do these have in common?


Who will get it right first? Leave a comment!
Trust me, there is a spiritual purpose behind this question.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Great thoughts for every Pastor

I just received this from my wife (Terri), and I thought it was very profound to those of us involved in ministry - at any level. Enjoy.

Ten Questions: Family

1. Am I closer to my spouse today than I was a year ago?
2. Have I read God’s word with my family this week?
3. Have I prayed with each member of my family this week?
4. Do my children know they come before the people in the church?
5. Are my children joyfully experiencing Christ at church or do they resent the church?
6. Does my spouse feel close to me spiritually?
7. If my spouse could have me change one thing about me, what would it be? (Why haven’t I changed in this way? What am I going to do about it?)
8. Are we honoring the Sabbath as a family?
9. Do my spouse and kids enjoy being around me?
10. Can my family clearly articulate our family values and vision?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Giving Every Day a Chance

It's Friday afternoon and I just returned from having a great time with my two daughters (McKenna and Madi) at the new Kwik Trip store located about a mile from our house. That's right - Kwik Trip. We spent about 20 minutes just hanging out together at a gas station (slash) food store. And catch this -- We made our "very own" smoothies from the smoothy machine - all by ourselves. (It did take me a minute or two to figure out how to dispense the ice into the cup. Weird looking machine. I was intimidated just a bit). Do you remember those days as a kid where you just "hung out?" Nothing really to do. As I look back, those were some of the best days of my life. But here's some great news: Today can be one of your best days too. I'm going to speak on this theme this weekend (Sunday) at Willowbrook. And I must say, this series has really opened my eyes to the reality of seeing each day as a gift from God. Each breath, each heartbeat, each smile - comes from the Father above - and we are the recipients of this gift (James 1:17).

So join me and the others this weekend at Willowbrook if you can. To learn more, go to:

Have a great day! It's your choice.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Previet" - Hello from Ukraine

My friends in Ukraine sent me this short video clip of me speaking (they cut the best part out - my altar call was amazing! J/K). I had the chance to speak at their first EVER regional youth conference last year in Chigrin, Ukraine. Over 200 teenagers were present. Notice that my Ukraine language isn't the best - thus my awesome interpreter! We are supporting this exciting ministry in Ukraine and will be returning back again this year. To learn more about Sergei and his wife, Aylona, go to my archive. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cultural Relevance

One of the challenges that every pastor must confront while preparing his or her message is the methodology of how to appeal to a wide range of people each Sunday? How to do church is undefined in Scripture for one very good reason: it would kill creativity. The church ought to be the most creative place on the planet. That is one of my core convictions at Willowbrook. Unfortunately, it is easy to fall in the trap of routine. It's often safe and convenient. Too often, big companies are scared companies, and they work to minimize any variation--including the good stuff that happens when people who care create something special. As each year passes, I feel an even greater need to think outside of the box and to surround myself with creative people who have new and refreshing ways to illustrate the greatest story on the planet - to a culture that is ever changing.

If you're an out of the box person - there's room for you in this place called, the church. It's what makes Willowbrook - a different kind of church.