What does your picture look like?

I’ve been thinking lately about our personal vision. What I mean, is the vision we have for ourselves. I think sometimes in Christian circles we get more focused on what we want to stop doing, and what we wish were not part of our life that we spend little time on what we could be. What I mean is if our focus is all about what shouldn’t be there then won’t we be thinking about the negative?

What if we came at our faith journey from the other angle? What if we began by asking what our picture is of a redeemed person? What would I be like if I were fully redeemed by Jesus? What if I was operating as the person God originally designed me to be? What if I surrendered completely to Jesus and allowed Him to have leadership in my life — what kind of person would I be??

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Video Clip: Loving Kindness – Sermon extra

This past Sunday we talked about how nice holds us back from truly healthy relationships. We said a better, more biblical way to think about relationships, is not think about “nice” but to think about “kind”. And we talked about 3 words that illuminate and expand our understanding of “kindness”. Those words are: Loving, Truthful and Compassionate. Here is the segment I shared on “Loving” – I do pray a review of these thoughts will be helpful in your journey to healthy, meaningful relationships. By the way, Ephesians 4:17-32 was the main text for this and serves as the foundation for what was taught.

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We can’t tolerate intolerance.

It’s an interesting time to be alive. “Tolerance” has become the highest virtue in our country and what’s somewhat funny is we don’t tolerate the slightest bit of intolerance. But what is “tolerance”?
The definition from dictionary.com is: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own;

Essentially, tolerance says, “let it be” — you can be however you want to be and I’ll be however I want to be and we’ll just let each other exist. Taken to the end, tolerance comes down to ignoring the other person, as long as they don’t let their choice(s) interfere with mine. But is tolerance, kind? I mean sure there are some positives in the sense of not judging or inflicting harm on others — but have we as Americans taken tolerance too far? Have we elevated it so high that it’s really not helpful anymore? I’m not saying I’m against respecting others, I think we should — but the application and practice of “tolerance”; I believe has drifted far from it’s original intention. Is tolerance the way it is practiced today, truly a kind way to deal with others?

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“Fighting” Fair

Yesterday I wrote about how the presence of conflict can actually be helpful in a relationship because it means two people care and are bringing a piece of them into the situation. Obviously conflict can be handled poorly, which is one of the big reasons I think people avoid it like the stomach flu. When I do premarital counseling, I tend to go through a segment we call “fighting fair” and while the principles apply in marriage, some of them are very applicable in any meaningful relationship. I won’t share them all with you (you have to go through our program if you want that) but I will share a few of the more pertinent ones. So here’s some counsel on “fighting fair”…

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Is lack of conflict always a good thing?

This week we’re talking about relationships. The question today: is a lack of conflict always a good thing?

In my opinion, the answer is no. In fact a lack of conflict is not a good thing. The reason we have conflicts is because we feel passionately about something. We have a value or priority that we bring into the relationship which differs from another person’s. One possible scenario of why conflict is not present is one of the people doesn’t really care. It’s not always the case, but I’ve seen it more times than I’d like to mention. One person either gives up sharing what they feel or think (because it’s never heard) or they just check out for some other reason. Some would say it’s a good thing, because at least there is no conflict – but no conflict because one person doesn’t really care enough to get into it — is a danger sign.

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Nice vs Kind

Today we looked at MN Nice from the relational side of things. Even though there are some very nice things about niceness, it’s not the highest ideal. But before I go there – allow me to share a little of the good side of “nice”. And to do so, let me muse a little on my life in the NJ/NY area. When you go into coffee shops, supermarkets etc. in NJ/NY (at least in my experience) people aren’t initially very friendly. They are there to sell you or make you a product and you are there to purchase it, there is no need to get relationships involved in this transaction! (At least that’s my impression on the thought process). I will say though, that I often found myself in deeper conversations in NJ/NY which may not be completely fair since I was there for a lot longer than I’m here.
But anyway – contrast with MN – I love the fact that I can walk into any Caribou Coffee, Cub Food or Target and get into a conversation. Conversations with the person making my coffee, scanning my items or even the guy in line behind me or in front of me. It’s nice, and being an “outsider”, it was friendly and helpful to making me feel good about coming to MN. And to be fair, I do have several good friendships here, and while I sometimes find myself needing to lead the way in openness and vulnerability, I’m finding people for the most part, going there with me.

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Every “Yes” is a “No”

Have you ever thought about the fact that every time we say “yes” to something we say “no” to something else?
If I say “yes” to going out, I’m saying “no” to playing with my kids at that time. Now I’m not saying, I never will play with my kids, but for that day or hour, my yes means another no. When I say yes to spending my money on one thing, I am saying no to spending it on something else, because money, like time is limited (at least for me and most of us). Now this yes/no principle really gets going when you expand it out to trends over time. What I mean is you look back on your week and ask yourself, what did I say “yes” to this week and therefore what did I say no to? What’s the trends? Am I saying “yes” to the right things consistently and am I saying “no” to the right things consistently? This obviously drives us to consider our values and what is most important to us.

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More blogs from others: Don’t talk about money!

Hi.
I’ve been catching up on some reading of people’s blogs throughout the country and resonating with some thoughts out there. Yesterday I posted a link to a pastor in South Carolina — today, here’s a reprint of a staff member in Granger, IN’s blog on church finances. Her name is Kem Meyer – she’s got some interesting blog posts from time to time…(rather than have you follow the link, since I’m not sure completely how to pull that off (still more to learn) I just copied and pasted it here (although I want to give her full credit and will post her blog url after her comments))

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Great days ahead for the church, what will we do?

I, like several other pastors throughout the country, believe that the Church is moving into a good place. When I say “Church” I mean evangelical churches in America particularly. I subscribe to about 15 different podcasts of pastors and I’m hearing a good shift in sermon content – more talk about Jesus and less talk about self actualization. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that in Christ and with Christ, we do find the best possible life, but even 5-6 years ago it seemed I was hearing more about what we needed to do and less who’s power we needed to do it in or better – who we should be aligned with and submitted to. The Gospel and it’s fullness is being lifted up and people seem to be moving to more transformation than information. I don’t know the future – but if the trends we’re seeing in lots of churches continue – I do believe we’ll see a much better level of influence among people. I think, though, the thing we need to get our arms around is what that influence is used for.

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An Incident with a Loon

Ok… for those of you who were at the block party from 3:45pm-4:30 (can’t remember when exactly) we played a game called “human scavenger hunt” where Christie and I were shouting out for certain objects and people would bring them forward and we would reward them with a prize. Well at one point, the object was a “picture of a loon”, which was a little random, I’ll admit, but hey when you’re up there, you’re trying to think of creative, interesting things.

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