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I rarely (obviously) post things here, and it is always a copy of content from my primary blog at http://mrclm.com

I have also recently created http://WasecaVBS.org for the best Vacation Bible School in Waseca, MN – at First Congregational Church in Waseca, MN.

And my sermon video and audio is posted on our church web site at http://WasecaChurch.org.

If that isn’t enough content for you, I guess I can’t keep up with your needs.

We had a great weekend (other than the fact it was mostly 40 degrees BELOW the freezing point most of the time)! My sermon went well, the people we met were very gracious and hospitable, and the town was livable.

I told the search committee that the thing I liked most about the situation is that there is potential. I really like that. They seem to be healthy, they are in a good place financially, they have a serviceable facility that is well kept.

And they liked us. I’m not surprised by that, but it is very nice to know. I think we would fit in pretty well, and I think they could learn from me and I could learn from them. The church has a good community/family atmosphere that I would love to build on.

A bit about the church – The church is 140 years old this year. This is actually the 2nd building because the first one burned down in the 50’s (making this building over 50 years old). The church is as old as the town. It is just a couple of blocks from the main North-South street, and a block from the main East-West street, and is across the street from a school, so it has very good access for anyone in town.

So we are excited, and just a slight big awed, and a bit scared as well. This would be a big step in our lives, meaning major changes. We’ve wanted these changes, been training for this time, been looking forward to this time, but now that it is here it still seems to catch us a bit off guard. I suppose that is probably a good thing. Thank you all who were praying for me, it is deeply appreciated. I don’t know that things could have gone much better all weekend other than perhaps a few more hours of sleep for us Saturday night. Praise God!

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I’m going to piggy back on a great post Scott Hodge made today.  Scott is reading a book on my want list, Peppermint-Filled Piñatas: Breaking Through Tolerance and Embracing Love by Eric Bryant of Mosaic Church (yeah, Erwan McManus‘ church).

Scott writes:

In chapter one, Eric quotes this scripture:

1 John 4:9-12
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Then Eric says this:

Love equals sacrifice…  For too long, I have loved when it was convenient, expedient, or even strategic.  To love to the point where it actually hurts connects more closely to what the word means.  Love has been reduced to “like” or “lust.”  Genuine love requires genuine sacrifice.”

Wow. That really hits home for me.  Scott asks “Can we call it love if there is no sacrifice involved?”  Ouch.  That’s a great and very difficult question that requires some personal soul searching.  

Love is a word that is often used far too lightly in our culture.  Few fully understand the meaning of what love is.  Many of us get glimpses from time to time, but rarely do we see it in it’s fullness.  To love like Christ, man that is hard.  But who ever said following Jesus would be easy?

Do you have an example from your life of this true, sacrificial love?  For me it would be my parents.  Of course they displayed it to me as a child, but that is not what I am talking about.  The love I am speaking about was their love for each other, especially my father’s love for my mother.  My mother got an infection in her heart when I was a kid, eventually leading to her having some extreme medical issues.  A few strokes, brian surgery, open heart surgery, significant memory loss and an artificial heart valve later and my parent’s love for each other is stronger.  I’ve never asked my dad about those times, what went through his mind, the struggles he faced with two young boys, a very sick wife, and barely enough money to cover the bills (not to mention the mounting medical costs).  That was love, true love, sacrificial love.  Do I have that in me?  I would like to think so, but the thought scares me.  We all are inclined to avoid pain and seek our pleasure.

Scott closes his post with this:

You want to know what’s easy?  Scott’s way.  I don’t EVER struggle with doing it MY way.  No problem there.  But living the way of Jesus?  Now that’s not easy.

So anyway…  What do you think?  Is it possible to display an action of love without there being any element of sacrifice involved?  Is this as black and white as it seems?  And if so, what does that mean for us?

My prayer is that Jesus teaches both you the reader as well as I, how to better love like He loves.

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Our vacation last month went very well, we were able to spend a week in Colorado and Utah. We spent a couple of days with my brother-in-law and his wife and hiked in Golden Gate State Park in Colorado the day I arrived. Needless to say, this out of shape and overweight flatlander was huffing and puffing. I was actually surprised at how well I was able to breath considering I had gained something like 8400 feet of elevation in just 4 hours! I could keep pace hiking, but was completely unable to both hike and talk. It was one or the other. Probably a blessing in disguise for everyone else.

We also spent an afternoon at Elitch Garden Water Park in downtown Denver. This was the first time I have visited Elich’s since they moved locations. Much nicer location, and a great view of downtown, especially from the top of some of the water park rides. I tried out the ride called “The Edge” and got my money’s worth! The Edge is a 4+ story drop while you sit in an inner tube. It’s effectively a gigantic water park half-pipe. I was pretty certain I was going to rocket off the far side and launch myself into the Pepsi Center parking lot, but thankfully gravity still works and I only came close to the top bumper. Absolutely thrilling! My wife chose to not take in this ride (wisely for her, she would NOT have liked it) and instead did some extra rounds on Castaway Creek. It was a lot of fun, and we’d certainly do it again. We’re planning on hitting the Valleyfair water park later this summer.

After a couple of days in Denver we set out heading West for Utah. We got slowed down just before Silverthorne by an accident that closed down West bound I-70. So rather than making progress, we sat in traffic for 2 hours in the middle of nowhere. Eventually we made it to Moab, Utah. We originally were scheduled for camping at Wagner Lake, but the Moab Welcome Center advised us that A) even though by map it’s a short distance it is still a 1.5+ hour drive (supposedly 18 miles away) and B) it is still cold enough at that altitude over night that the water hadn’t yet been turned on. So we scrapped that plan (forfeiting the $29 reservation for the site) and stayed on the Northern outskirts of Moab in a private campground. This worked out well because we had hot showers, and the campground was 4 miles from Arches National Park, and 2 miles from Downtown Moab.

We spent an entire day in Arches National Park. That’s a lot of rock! We hiked for roughly 14 hours. We got up early and arrived at the Ranger Station just as they opened with the hopes of getting reservations to go into an area called Fiery Furnace. They were completely filled, so we moved on to Plan B and drove into the trail head for Delicate Arch. Hiking to Delicate Arch is something I would advise to do early in the day this time of year. It was blazing hot and no shade for miles. Bring lots of water too. A long segment of the hike consists of walking across a huge portion of slickrock from cairn to cairn. Also not a place to be caught in a thunder storm! We spent a few hours at Delicate Arch, relaxing, enjoying the view, and eating lunch. We saw most of the sights in Arches in one day. Honestly you could spend two days and see more, but after about the 4th arch they begin to loose some of their impressiveness. And the oppressive heat in June doesn’t help. I can only imagine what August must be like there. My wife was suffering through a cold the whole trip, so it was even worse for her.

Moab is a neat little town with lots to do. We would love to return there and take in some 4-wheeling, mountain biking and kayaking on the Colorado River. Everyone we met (locals) were very nice and friendly, which I suppose is to be expected in a town that lives off of tourism.

We spent the rest of our vacation in Fort Collins and Loveland Colorado with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Most of one day we spent at a place called Supper Made Simple which is owned and operated by my aunt. I had heard good things about these type of places, but became sold on it after spending a few hours making meals. The food was outstanding, healthy, well balanced, nicely portioned, and most important convenient.

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I am a Respectful Leader:

This was an interesting and quick little test. Tony Morgan pointed it out from Terry Storch and I thought I would check it out. Feel free to post your own results in the comments.

I score high on masculine and low on feminine. That does not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me!

From the site:

You are a Leader

Your solid grounding in the practicalities of life, along with your self-assuredness and your willingness to appreciate new things make you a LEADER.
You’re in touch with what is going on around you and adept at remaining down-to-earth and logical.
Although you’re detail-oriented, this doesn’t mean that you lose the big picture.
You tend to find beauty in form and efficiency, as opposed to finding it in broad-based, abstract concepts.
Never one to pass on an adventure, you’re consistently seeking and finding new things, even in your immediate surroundings.
Because of this eagerness to pursue new experiences, you’ve learned a lot; your attention to detail means that you gain a great deal from your adventures.
The intellectual curiosity that drives you leads you to seek out causes of and reasons behind things.
Your confidence gives you the potential to take your general awareness and channel it into leadership.
You’re not set on one way of doing things, and you often have the skills and persistence to find innovative ways of facing challenges.
You are well-attuned to your talents, and can deal with most problems that you face.
Your independent streak allows you to make decisions efficiently and to trust your instincts
You prefer to have time to plan for things, feeling better with a schedule than with keeping plans up in the air until the last minute.
Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you.

You are Respectful

Your reserved nature, understanding of the world, and faith in others make you RESPECTFUL.
You trust those around you to do the right thing, so you tend not to get involved in other people’s affairs.
You have fewer friendships than some, but the relationships you do have are very meaningful and important to you.
Your careful and practical observation of your environment has led you to understand that others’ situations can be very complex.
Because of this, you are slow to pass judgments on others, even if sometimes you can’t see what it is about certain things that upsets them.
You tend to enjoy the world through ideas and reflection, which allows you to get a lot out of the time you spend alone.
Your friends would describe you as laid-back and easy-going.
As someone who is calm and centered, you aren’t likely to rush into things—this patience allows you to see many different perspectives and options.


Wow, life has kept me busy the past few weeks. Last week was a ton of fun, especially the 4th and 5th of July.

For the 4th, my wife and some friends and I hopped into our car and headed North. We spent the afternoon hiking around Gooseberry Falls and the surrounding park. Very nice falls, and only a 3 minute walk from the welcome center! The draw back to having them this accessible is that they were very crowded. I suspect any normal Wednesday afternoon and you’d have the place mostly to yourself, but on the 4th of July it was packed. Cool nonetheless, and I got some neat pictures. that I’ve added to my Flickr account.

We stopped and had dinner at the Black Woods Restaurant in Two Harbors, MN. We had eaten previously at this Black Woods and were impressed with their food. This time did not disappoint either! I had an excellent BBQ’ed Prime Rib with a delightful sweet potato. If you are passing through town, this is a place well worth stopping, and it is conveniently located right on the main road through town.

We made our way back down to Duluth via the scenic section of Hwy 61. It’s not really that scenic (if you as me) but my wife wanted to take that route since our two passengers had never been in that area before.

Duluth was the real reason we headed North for the day. We linked up with a company called Midnight Sun Adventure Company for a kayaking adventure. We squeezed into some wet suits and drug some two person sea kayaks down to the beach. After a brief period of instruction we got into the boats and made our way out into the harbor to position ourselves for the fireworks. We actually ended up watching the fireworks from two different places. We started on the Northwest side of the shipping channel (the Fitger’s side), but as we watched the fireworks behind the lift bridge (spectacular view!) we kept drifting toward the mouth of the shipping channel. Rather than continuing to fight the drift, we paddled across the large expanse of the channel and watched the rest of the fireworks there where we didn’t have to worry about drifting into the large boat area. We unfortunately chose to not take a camera with us in the kayaks, so no photos from that great time. The view of the fireworks was as good as it gets without being in a powered boat in the harbor where they were shooting the fireworks. We didn’t want to go over there, as sea kayaks are no match for hundreds of bigger power boats powered by people who drank who knows how much. After the fireworks we paddled back toward the beach and then up to the Fitger’s area to use up the rest of our water time. We did also take some sparklers with us, and we stopped by the “Ice House” located just off the beach to lite them while in our kayaks. Our guides said we were the first to ever attempt such a thing in their boats.

On Thursday July 5th we attended Disney’s High School Musical at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis (Star Tribune Review). This is one of my wife’s all time favorite anythings! She has now seen it 3 times in two different stages at the Theatre, and she also watched the DVD a good half dozen times when it came out. There is a good reason for this, as it is a great story. Beyond that though, the production of it at the Children’s Theatre Company is absolutely FANTASTIC! If you live in the Twin Cities region and you don’t do whatever it takes to get a ticket to this, you will be missing out on one of the greatest shows of your life. Incredible energy, spot-on costuming, fantastic singing, outstanding dance and choreography. One of the two best shows I have ever seen at CTC. The play was originally in their smaller theater, but it proved to be so popular that CTC made the unprecedented move to bring the show back, and put it on the main stage.

Following the show we grabbed a bite to eat with my great friend Ryan in Uptown at Chiang Mai Thai in Calhoun Square. While they claim to be the best Thai food in town, I would strongly disagree. Pad Thai Grand Cafe on Grand Ave. in St. Paul is far better in my opinion. Worse, our service was completely substandard. Our waitress was indifferent and inattentive. Maybe that is the Uptown way, but it’s not the way I like to be served. Good ambiance though, and a neat location, so it wasn’t all bad.

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We’ll be visiting family, touring SE Utah and SW Colorado (Arches, possibly Mesa Verde, and Moab). We’ll also be taking in a Rockies game late next week against Tampa Bay. I absolutely love Coors Field. The view of the mountains as the sun sets behind them during the game is spectacular.

While on vacation (and I suspect primarily while flying) I hope to read through a good deal of Mark Batterson’s book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars. I have already read the first couple of chapters and look forward to the rest of the book. I will also be bringing with me Mark Driscoll’s book The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out without Selling Out which I have had for some time, but with school and life haven’t gotten around to reading.

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Wow, what a weekend! It might take me a few days to just catch my breath.

Friday evening I started the weekend off by shopping with my parents for all the food, beverages and plate ware we would need for the whole weekend. We got some really good grub!

Communion Service
Friday evening was our Communion Service in Benson Great Hall. We sang quite a bit, and then got a really solid message from my favorite seminary professor, Dr. Peter Vogt. I had Dr. Vogt for both Hermeneutics as well as Genesis to Ruth (he is primarily an OT department guy). Dr. Vogt managed to tie in hermeneutics, his OT background, his service in the Navy, and his own personality into an engaging message. Unfortunately he was working with only about 25% of his voice as a virus of some sort has been ravaging his body the past week or so. He said that while it might sound bad, it doesn’t hurt him to talk, so not to worry about it.

We also received a servant’s towel reminding us who we are to be going forward from this day. The professors and seminary staff then paired up and prayed for those of us who were graduating while everyone else completed taking communion. Theology professor Dr. Kyle Roberts and my former classmate and Greek professor Holly Beers both prayed for me.

Dr Leland Eliason, Executive Director and Provost of the Seminary then concluded with a very passionate and emotional message from his heart. I love listening to Dr. Eliason, he is a very gifted communicator.

Following the Communion service, my wife and myself, along with my parents and in-laws all went for dinner at Famous Dave’s. Famous Dave’s has a bit of history with my family, but this time no major announcements were made. The six of use shared the All-American BBQ Feast –
a full slab of spareribs, a whole chicken, ½ pound of either Texas beef brisket or Georgia chopped pork, coleslaw, Famous Fries, Wilbur Beans, four corn bread muffins and four corn-on-the-cob. We added some extra corn and corn bread muffins and all left completely full.

Saturday morning I had to be back at school bright and early for the practice run for graduation. That went very smoothly, and we were in and out in far less time than I expected. We did get to hear a message from a graduate of the 1957 class of Bethel Seminary (there were 5 men in total honored this weekend for their 50 years of ministry from that class). The list of their accomplishments was remarkable, and their diligence, perseverance, and dedication is and example to us all.

Commencement and Investiture
The 2007 graduating class is the biggest in the history of Bethel Seminary. We had 144 graduates from our main campus, and another 30 or so from Seminary of the East and San Diego. Our Keynote Speaker was Gordon MacDonald, and his message was timely and meaningful. He prefaced his message with the warning that he couldn’t remember any of the messages someone else gave at any of his graduations, so he wasn’t expecting us to remember much either! What he did talk about was the critical transactions in our lives, and especially in our ministry in helping people step into faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. His message was spot on, and far better than any other at this type of function than I have previously heard.

Following a brief reception on campus, all my friends and family in attendance made their way over to our house for the real part. We BBQ’ed huge burgers and cheddar brats. Had some great fruit salad, potato salad, corn, tons of various beverages, cheese and crackers, and carrot cake. I’m sure there was more food than that (my fridge is still full!) but you get the idea. We ate and conversed for the next 4 hours. It was wonderful to have everybody over and to be able to relax and enjoy their company. Special recognition goes out to my brother Chad who drove up from Sioux Falls, SD. Chad got caught up in the mess created by having 35W shut down South of downtown Minneapolis all weekend. Chad managed to drive up Cedar Ave. from the Airport and found his way to Bethel without a map and only sketchy directions over the phone from me. He even made it on time! After grilling all the meat and hanging out for a few hours, he turned around and drove back to Sioux Falls! That’s a great brother.

After everyone left my parents and my wife and I relaxed on our driveway around a campfire eating S’mores and enjoying the only time all weekend it didn’t seem to be raining.

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The past 18 months have been a whirlwind of things, which is in large part why my blogging has lagged during that period. We purchased some rental properties, we got married, and now I am graduating from Seminary with a Masters of Divinity with my concentration in Transformational Leadership!

A little over 4 years ago I arrived on the campus of Bethel Seminary, with no idea what God had in store for me. I have seen and done so much the past 4 years, it has been an amazing journey. Now comes the scary part, stepping out into the great unknown. I don’t as of yet have a job offer. Student loans are coming. Bills have to be paid. I expect the next few months to be very interesting, and hopefully in a good way. It is my prayer to move into full time ministry soon, but we’ll see what God has in store for me. I’m trying to be patient, which is not always one of my stronger points.

June 1, 7:30pm Communion for graduates, families, friends
June 2, 3pm Commencement

Following Commencement we’ll be having a small gathering at our house for friends and family to relax and celebrate!

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For those of you who hadn't heard, Pastor John Piper's father passed away yesterday. Below is his personal journal entry as posted at Desiring God. Pastor Piper was able to leave Bethlehem Baptist to be with his father for his last few days.

_________________________________________________

Hello, My Father Just Died


By John Piper March 7, 2007


The following is John Piper’s journal entry narrating his father’s death on Tuesday, March 6, 2007.

The funeral is scheduled for Friday, March 9, 2007, at 2 p.m. at White Oak Baptist Church in Greenville, S. C. Visitation is 7:00-8:30 p.m. Thursday evening, March 8, 2007, at Mackey Mortuary on Century Drive in Greenville. All are welcomed.

John Piper will not be preaching this weekend at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007. 2 a.m.

The big hospital clock in room 4326 of Greenville Memorial Hospital said, with both hands straight up, midnight. Daddy had just taken his last breath. My watch said 12:01, March 6, 2007.

I had slept a little since his last morphine shot at ten. One ear sleeping, one on the breathing. At 11:45, I awoke. The breaths were coming more frequently and were very shallow. I will not sleep again, I thought. For ten minutes, I prayed aloud into his left ear with Bible texts and pleadings to Jesus to come and take him. I had made this case before, and this time felt an unusual sense of partnership with Daddy as I pressed on the Lord to relieve this warrior of his burden.

I finished and lay down. Good. Thank you, Lord. It will not be long. And, grace upon grace, hundreds of prayers are being answered: He is not choking. The gurgling that threatened to spill over and drown him in the afternoon had sunk deep, and now there was simple clear air, shorter and shorter. I listened from where I lay next to him on a foldout chair.

That’s it. I rose and waited. Will he breathe again? Nothing. Fifteen or twenty seconds, and then a gasp. I was told to expect these false endings. But it was not false. The gasp was the first of two. But no more breaths. I waited, watching. No facial expressions. His face had frozen in place hours before. One more jerk. That was all. Perhaps an eyebrow twitch a moment later. Nothing more.

I stroked his forehead and sang,

My gracious Master and My God
Assist me to proclaim
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of thy name.

Daddy, how many thousands awaited you because of your proclamation of the great gospel. You were faithful. You kept the faith, finished the race, fought the fight. “Make friends for yourselves with unrighteous mammon that they might receive you into eternal habitations.”

I watched, wondering if there could be other reflexes. I combed his hair. He always wore a tie. The indignities of death are many, but we tried to minimize them. Keep the covers straight. Pull the gown up around his neck so it looks like a sharp turtleneck. Tuck the gappy shoulder slits down behind so they don’t show. Use a wet washcloth to keep the secretions from crusting in the eyelashes. And by all means, keep his hair combed. So now I straightened his bedding and combed his hair and wiped his eyes and put the mouth moisturizer on his lips and tried to close his mouth. His mouth would not stay closed. It had been set in that position from hours and hours of strained breathing. But he was neat. A strong, dignified face.

I called my sister Beverly first, then Noël. Tearfully we gave thanks.

(For the remainder of this account visit Desiring God here)

____________________________________________

The graciousness with which this was written is astounding. I honestly have no idea how Dr. Piper was able to pen this with the wound still so fresh.

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From the Desiring God Blog:

Starting this week and over the next 12 months we will be releasing short video podcasts designed to be a weekly encouragement and challenge to not waste our lives. As the Lord provides, our plan is to produce at least 100 hundred episodes. Every episode will take a theme from the book, Don’t Waste Your Life, and challenge us to think about what we are doing with the lives the Lord has given us. We are encouraging everyone with a website, blog, etc. to use any of these episodes to spread the message around the world. We are praying that many who would never read the book may be impacted in a significant way by watching one of these podcasts.

Subscribe
to the video podcast. (You can also subscribe in iTunes.)

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(From the Pastor's Weekly Briefing by FotF)

Saint Valentine's Day, or simply Valentine's Day, which falls on February 14, has become the traditional day every year when expressions of love are made using cards, candy or flowers. The Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines will be exchanged worldwide, making it the most popular holiday except for Christmas when over two and a half billion cards are sent.

Many legends have developed over the years as to the origin of Valentine's Day, but most agree that it refers to a man named Valentinus who was martyred in the late third century during the reign of Claudius II. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, three men with the name Valentinus, which was common at that time, were martyred between 269 and 273 AD. Two of the most popular legends that have endured come from the 15th Century. One claims that on the night before Valentine was to be martyred for being a Christian, he passed a love note to his jailer's daughter that read, "From your Valentine." Another states that during a ban on marriages of Roman soldiers by the Emperor Claudius II, St. Valentine secretly helped arrange marriages. Claudius felt that in order to create a perfect army, soldiers should not have to deal with the distractions of marriage. Valentine believed that men who were about to face danger and possible death could only exhibit the required bravery if they were sent off to battle with the love of a wife.

Another theory — regarding the observance of Valentine's Day on February 14 — is that it is the Church's response to the ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia on February 15. In the fifth century, Pope Gelasius abolished Lupercalia and declared that the feast of St. Valentine would be on February 14.

Valentine's Day has also now become a time to celebrate the permanence of marriage and to encourage couples to renew their vows. Since 1996, the seven days leading up to Valentine's Day have been designated as Marriage Week USA according to Smart Marriages which can be contacted at www.smartmarriages.com/.