I’m Good at Math

•August 6, 2010 1:29 am • Leave a Comment

Meghan has noticed some decent math skills in our oldest as of late.  She’s been confirming these traits in her by telling her that her daddy is also good at math.

Today at the breakfast table thus went down like this:

Iris: Daddy, what’s 1 plus 1? (matter of factly like she knows but I don’t)

Me: 2.

Iris: What’s 2 plus 2?

Me: 4.

Iris: No it’s not.

Me: Yes it is.

Iris: (pause….)

Iris: Daddy, I’m good at math.

Gospel Community, Fight Clubs, & Friends

•July 6, 2010 5:33 am • Leave a Comment

We talk a lot about Gospel Community at 2 Pillars Church.  As we move forward with them, we are beginning to experience the tension that comes with them.  Some folks are looking simply for community.  Some are looking simply for mission.  Others are looking for friends.  But a Gospel Community, in some ways, is to be the fusion of all of these – centered around the gospel.

To that end, I’ve found the following helpful from Jonathan Dodson:

“Gospel community takes a lot of time, sweat, tears, repentance, failure, and love. A lot of gospel. It’s a command, for our good, for our collective gospel witness in the city, for God’s infinite glory. However, there’s a way to make progress as a person in community at a more personal pace. Friends. Not just any old friendship. Deep friendship. Real friendship that extends much deeper than shared hobbies, interests, and stage of life.”

Read Dodson’s entire post: “Community is a Command; Friendship Isn’t”.

On Work and Vocation

•July 5, 2010 10:49 am • 1 Comment

Recently a man from our church asked me for some recommendations I could make regarding work, vocation, living missionally, and how that all goes together.  When I scanned my Evernote files, I found that over the last couple of years I had assembled many more books and articles on this topic than I knew.  Below is the list I sent him.

If you have struggled through the combination of work, vocation, and living missionally, perhaps one or more of these resources will be helpful for you as well.  I have read several of these and only skimmed others.  Chew well and spit out the bones.

  • Business for the Glory of God, Wayne Grudem
  • The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
  • “A Theology of Work”, Bob Thune
  • “How Should We Then Work”, Jonathan Dodson (A29 pastor in Austin, TX)
  • “Roles (Part 1)”, C.J. Mahaney
  • Redeeming the Time, Leland Ryken
  • Luther on Vocation, Gustaf Wingren
  • “Vocation Plans”, Alex Chediak
  • “Community and the Cubicle”, Jonathan Dodson
  • “Working Theologically”, Jonathan Dodson
  • “Working for the City”, Jonathan Dodson
  • “Working in the Image – and the Presence”, Dave Williamson
  • “Some Questions to Ask When Considering a Job”, John Piper
  • “Let it Flow Out: an Interview with N.T. Wright”
  • “Authority in Vocation”, Gene Veith
  • “God’s Will and Your Job”, R.C. Sproul (four part series)
  • Leading vs. Managing

    •June 2, 2010 11:28 am • Leave a Comment

    I needed to hear this today.  My friend Josh Dix (from his blog, Thousand Yard Stare):

    I was talking one night with my wife when she mentioned the difference between leading and managing. Something in me pinged and I knew I was about to hear something I needed to learn.  I suspected I was managing more than I was leading.  So I asked her, “What do you think the difference is.”

    She began by saying, “Good managers help maintain the status quo, but a good leader inspires you to do more.  They take risks.  They understand your situation and context and lead out of that understanding.  They’re not just concerned with results but with the overall direction of what’s happening.

    Guest Posting This Week

    •June 1, 2010 8:54 pm • Leave a Comment

    This week I’ll be guest blogging on my friend Zach Nielsen’s blog, Take Your Vitamin Z.  Zach is a friend I made while at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.  He was a distance student (as was/am I) from Albuquerque.  Zach is planting an Acts 29 church with another friend of mine up in Madison, Wisconsin.  Their church is called The Vine.  Check it out.

    Get Out of Dodge (I Mean Ur)

    •May 27, 2010 4:50 am • 1 Comment

    Someone pointed out to me this week that the name of our church plant recently made a Christianity Today blog post list of churches with weird names.

    Read the Out of Ur blog post A Church by Any Other Name (we’re #78…and in good company, I might add) then read about why we named the church 2 Pillars Church.

    Leaders Need a Sanctuary

    •May 25, 2010 5:39 am • Leave a Comment

    “A sanctuary is a place of reflection and renewal, where you can listen to yourself away from the dance floor and the blare of the music, where you can reaffirm your deeper sense of self and purpose. It’s different from the balcony, where you go to get a wider perspective on the dynamics of your leadership efforts. Analyzing from the balcony can be hard work. In a sanctuary, you are out of that world entirely, in a place where you feel safe both physically and psychologically. The rules and stresses of everyday life are suspended temporarily. It is not a place to hide, but a haven where you can cool down, capture lessons from the painful moments, and put yourself back together.”

    -Heifetz and Linsky, Leadership on the Line. p 204.

    Controlling the Temperature of Change

    •May 20, 2010 5:36 am • Leave a Comment

    “If you try to stimulate deep change within an organization, you have to control the temperature. There are really two tasks here. The first is to raise the heat enough that people sit up, pay attention, and deal with the real threats and challenges facing them. Without some distress, there is no incentive for them to change anything. The second is to lower the temperature when necessary to reduce a counterproductive level of tension. Any community can take only so much pressure before it becomes either immobilized or spins out of control. The heat must stay withing a tolerable range–not so high that people demand it be turned off, and not so low that they are lulled into inaction.”

    -Heifetz and Linsky, Leadership on the Line. pp 107-108.

    Casualites and Commitment

    •May 18, 2010 5:32 am • Leave a Comment

    “If people simply cannot adapt, the reality is that they will be left behind. They become casualties. This is virtually inevitable when organizations and communities go through significant change. Some people simply cannot or will not go along. You have to choose between keeping them and making progress.  For people who find taking casualties extremely painful, almost too painful to endure, this part of leadership presents a special dilemma. But it often goes with the territory.

    Accepting casualties signals your commitment. If you signal that you are unwilling to take casualties, you present an invitation to the people who are uncommitted to push your perspectives aside. Without the pinch of reality, why should they make sacrifices and change their ways of doing business? Your ability to accept the harsh reality of losses sends a clear message about your courage and commitment to seeing the adaptive change through.

    -Heifetz and Linsky, Leadership on the Line. p 99.

    Sloppy Wet Kiss

    •May 17, 2010 1:32 pm • Leave a Comment

    My buddy Matt introduced me to this song, “How He Loves” a week or two ago during our Sunday gathering for 2 Pillars Church.  This morning he sent me this video that provides the story behind the song.  This is what I long to see captured through music at 2 Pillars.  May we wrestle with God and sing about it.

    [Click through to Vimeo]

    Leadership is an Improv Art

    •May 13, 2010 5:27 am • Leave a Comment

    “Leadership is an improvisational art. You may have an overarching vision, clear, orienting values, and even a strategic plan, but what you actually do from moment to moment cannot be scripted.  To be effective, you must respond to what is happening…[Y]ou have to move back and forth from the balcony to the dance floor, over and over again throughout the day, week, month, and year.  You take action, step back and assess the results of the action, reassess the plan, then go to the dance floor and make the next move.  You have to maintain a diagnostic mindset on a changing reality.

    …Sustaining your leadership, then, requires first and foremost the capacity to see what is happening to you and your initiative, as it is happening.  This takes discipline and flexibility, and it is hard to do.”

    -Heifetz and Linsky, Leadership on the Line. p 73.

    Reverence for the Pains of Change

    •May 11, 2010 5:21 am • Leave a Comment

    “Seduction, marginalization, diversion, and attack all serve a function.  They reduce the disequilibrium that would be generated were people to address the issues that are taken off the table.  They serve to maintain the familiar, restore order, and protect people from the pains of adaptive work.  It would be wonderful if adaptive work did not involve hard transitions, adjustments, and loss in people’s lives.  Because it does, it usually produces resistance.  Being aware of the likelihood of receiving opposition in some form is critical to managing it when it arrives. Leadership, then, requires not only reverence for the pains of change and recognition of the manifestations of danger, but also the skill to respond.”

    -Heifetz and Linsky, Leadership on the Line. p 48.

    Leadership and Change

    •May 6, 2010 5:12 am • Leave a Comment

    “Asking an entire community to change its ways…is dangerous. If leadership were about giving people good news, the job would be easy….People do not resist change per se. People resist loss.”

    “The sustainability of change depends on having the people with the problem internalize the change itself.”

    -Heifetz and Linsky, Leadership on the Line. pp 11 & 13.

    Identity and Change

    •May 4, 2010 5:00 am • Leave a Comment

    I recently read an excellent book on leadership that I found continually overlapping onto the task of church planting.  We’re currently in a phase with our church plant in which I’m calling people to commit to the mission and vision that we’re embarking on.  The following passage from Leadership on the Line deeply resonated with me with respect to what we’re trying to do right now:

    “To persuade people to give up the love they know for a love they’ve never experienced means convincing them to take a leap of faith in themselves and in life. They must experience the loss of a relationship that, despite its problems, provides satisfaction and familiarity, and they will suffer the discomfort of sustained uncertainty about what will replace it. In breaking with the past, there will be historical losses to contend with, too, particularly the feelings of disloyalty to the sources of the values that kept the relationship together….Moreover, change challenges a person’s sense of competence….

    …Habits, values, and attitudes, even dysfunctional ones, are a part of one’s identity.  To change the way people see and do things is to challenge how they define themselves.”

    -Heifetz and Linsky, Leadership on the Line. pp 26-27

    Naive Optimism

    •May 3, 2010 10:59 am • Leave a Comment

    Still there?

    Over four months ago now I promised Todd’s Mindbloggler 2.0.  I was heading into a season of life that I thought might afford more time for blogging, reflecting, etc.  Boy was I naively optimistic.

    We’re planting a church in Lincoln, Nebraska and the last four months have been a heavy load.  That said, things are starting to steady out some – and – I hope to return to blogging some. Probably pretty infrequent, but hopefully more frequent than once every four months.

    Random Nerd posts will probably cease.  Instead, I’ll focus on stuff I’m reading, learning, and life.  If you’re interested in some specific blogging with regard to the church we’re planting, check out my other blog (which I do post on frequently and often): project2pillars.com

    Mindbloggler 2.0 Coming Soon

    •December 30, 2009 3:02 pm • 1 Comment

    It has been a very busy season of life these last several months. As we embark on our new journey planting 2 Pillars Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, I intend to get back to blogging more. In the coming week or two, I will launch version 2.0 of this blog (a complete overhaul and redesign) and get back to blogging on a more regular basis.

    Todd’s Mindbloggler 2.0 will serve as an outlet for reflections, sharing stuff I’m learning, reading, and finding helpful or useful, as well as the return of regular Random Nerd posts.

    Stay tuned.

    Your Voluntary Termination is Final as Submitted If You Click OK

    •December 7, 2009 11:58 pm • Leave a Comment

    I pushed the OK button today.

    Roughly twelve years ago I remember sitting in my high school guidance counselor’s office discussing what I was going to do with my life. I was seventeen years old and liked car audio systems – I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. He asked me what I enjoyed doing and I told him I liked playing with electronic equipment and cramming oversized subwoofers into my car thereby trying to speed along noise-induced deafness.

    He said if that is really what I enjoyed then I could consider a career in either being an electrical technician (and thus go to trade school in a mid-sized Nebraska town) or an electrical engineer (and go to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln). Up until that point in my life I thought engineers were simply dudes that drove trains. He explained more to me about what engineering was, looked at my math and science scores and said he thought I’d do fine in either and that it was all up to me.

    Since Meghan (girlfriend at the time, now my wife) was a year older than me and living in Lincoln, I chose engineering. That’s right: I chose my career based on where my girlfriend was living. I guess that’s what seventeen year old boys do. I graduate high school, moved to Lincoln, started college at UNL, and four and half years later graduated with my B.S. in Electrical Engineering. I took a job with Boeing in St. Louis, Meghan and I got married and we moved here to start our life together. Work at Boeing was great, I basically had my dream job doing hardware design, and life was good.

    Six months after moving here, I enrolled at Washington University to begin part-time work on my Masters in Electrical Engineering which was the beginning of a five-year program. Four and a half years into that five year Masters degree program, God showed up and began redirecting me in August of 2006. I had gotten saved when we moved here and starting going to church and now God was revealing to me that engineering wasn’t what he had for me to do with the rest of my life.

    Confusing. And thus began a three and a half year journey to where we are today: quitting my job to plant a church in downtown Lincoln (which, in reality, we’ve been planting for over two years now).

    Today I made it officially known at work. I’m resigning. Voluntary termination in the vernacular. Walking away from nine and a half years of electrical engineering education, two degrees in the field, and seven and half years of a career with Boeing.

    And so this afternoon, there I was staring a little screen on my dual monitor, Intel Core 2 Duo workstation that said:

    Your Voluntary Termination is Final as Submitted If You Click OK.


    We Want to Get Rid of Jesus

    •October 18, 2009 7:24 am • Leave a Comment

    How is that for an attention grabbing title?  Recently, I have been reading John Stott’s seminal work, The Cross of Christ and I hit this section that just really leapt off the page at me.  The context is Stott talking about the first century Jewish people and their priests and how they reacted and responded to Jesus’ ministry:

    “So they felt threatened by Jesus.  He undermined their prestige, their hold over the people, their own self-confidence and self-respect, while leaving his intact.  They were “envious” of him, and therefore determined to get rid of him.  It is significant that Matthew recounts two jealous plots to eliminate Jesus, the first by Herod the Great at the beginning of his life and the other by the priests at its end.  Both felt their authority under threat.  So both sought to “destroy” Jesus (Mt 2:13; 27:20 AV). However outwardly respectable the priests’ political and theological arguments may have appeared, it was envy which led them to “hand over” Jesus to Pilate to be destroyed (Mk 15:1, 10).

    The same evil passion influences our own contemporary attitudes to Jesus.  He is still, as C. S. Lewis called him, “a transcendental interferer.” We resent his intrusions into our privacy, his demand for our homage, his expectation of our obedience. Why can’t he mind his own business, we ask petulantly, and leave us alone? To which he instantly replies that we are his business and that he will never leave us alone. So we too perceive him as a threatening rival who disturbs our peace, upsets our status quo, undermines our authority and diminishes our self-respect. We too want to get rid of him.”

    John Stott, The Cross of Christ. p58

    Meg on Putting Our House on the Market

    •October 13, 2009 7:05 am • Leave a Comment

    My wife has posted some thoughts on putting our house on the market.  Check them out on our family blog.

    For Sale

    •October 9, 2009 9:16 am • 1 Comment


    As of last night our house is officially on the market. This is a huge step in our journey to Lincoln. We now enter free fall and trust in the perfect timing and provision of God. If you think of it please pray for our sanity, stress, and anxiety. Pray that we would rest in the confidence of what God has called us to. And if you happen to know anyone in the St. Louis area looking for a house, please feel free to point them to the listing.

    Random Nerd 10.2.2009 – Twitter Stats

    •October 2, 2009 6:44 am • Leave a Comment


    I am a stats guy.  I love them.  I eat them up.  Recently I came across a study done by some researchers out at Rutgers University on the usage of Twitter.  You can read the whole thing over at Mashable, but just to give you a taste, here are some summarizing graphs (because I also love graphs) and other stats.  The table below helps you interpret the graph:



    • Informers have a higher proportion of mentions of other users in their messages (that is they @reply to more Twitterers)
    • 25% of messages come from mobile phones
    • 51% of mobile-posted messages are “me now” messages, compared to the
    • 37% of “me now” messages posted from non-mobile applications

    Do you use Twitter?  How do you use Twitter?  Why do you use Twitter?

    (HT: Mashable)

    Random Nerd 9.25.2009: Did You Know 4.0

    •September 25, 2009 7:14 am • Leave a Comment


    Here’s another one of those fascinating fact-filled videos on the emergence of new forms of media and communication.  Watch and be amazed.

    The Place of the Law

    •September 24, 2009 7:49 am • Leave a Comment


    After God gave the promise to Abraham, he gave the law to Moses. Why? He had  to make things worse before He could make them better. The law exposed sin, provoked sin, condemned sin. The purpose of the law was to lift the lid off man’s respectability and disclose what he is really underneath — sinful, rebellious, guilty, under the judgment of God and helpless to save himself.

    And the law must still be allowed to do its God-given duty today. One of the great faults of the contemporary church is the tendency to soft-pedal sin and judgment… We must never bypass the law and come straight to the gospel. To do so is to contradict the plan of God in biblical history… No man has ever appreciated the gospel until the law has first revealed him to himself. It is only against the inky blackness of the night sky that the stars begin to appear, and it is only against the dark background of sin and judgment that the gospel shines forth.”

    –John Stott, Galatians, pp. 92-93.

    Re-Thinking Facebook Strategy

    •September 5, 2009 5:54 am • Leave a Comment

    Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Inc and social media extraordinaire has a helpful and insightful post on Re-Thinking My Facebook Strategy.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking through social media strategy in general and found this helpful.  Of course, it’s probably most helpful if you’ve got more Facebook “friends” than you can handle (not really true for me…I’m just not that cool).  Hyatt does a great job of breaking down and defining who is a friend and who isn’t and how to approach Facebook from that understanding.

    Redemption: Not Just Accomplished but also Applied

    •September 1, 2009 6:35 am • Leave a Comment

    I am a seminary student.  What that means is that I do not have everything figured out.  In fact, I am a human so the reality is that I never will have everything figured out.  I am okay with that, but I don’t always like it.  I experienced this first hand recently when struck with a new doctrine that I had never heard of as part of a recent seminary course I took.  The doctrine? Union with Christ.


    John Murray starts the ninth chapter of his book, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied with some bold and broad statements.  In the opening paragraph he states that without union with Christ, “our view of the Christian life would be gravely distorted.”  Further, Murray states that, “Nothing is more central or basic than union and communion with Christ.”  Still on the first page, he notes that it is a very broad and embrasive subject and that it “underlies every step of the application of redemption” as well as being “the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only as its application but also in its once for all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ.”  These are bold and broad claims.  To someone who calls themself a Christian, but has never even heard of this thing called ‘union with Christ,’ they can be offensive and even deterring and thus create resistance in the reader.

    “In Christ” – what does that mean?  How many times have I read a passage of Scripture and been confused or simply unclear of exactly what that meant? 164 times in the letters of Paul alone according to John Stott.

    Drawing from passages like Romans 6:4, Murray shows that the Christian life is lived by virtue of our union with Christ.  Not only that, but that we also remain “united with Christ” in our death (1 Thess. 4:14, 16).  And finally that “in Christ” we will also be made alive again when the last trumpet sounds (1 Cor. 15:22).

    When I’m honest with myself, I am resistant to some of the bold and exhaustive claims that Murray makes in the opening of this chapter in Redemption: Accomplished and Applied.  As I’ve prayed, read Scripture, and reflected however, I’ve begun to see that the root of my resistance has been – in some way – pride.  Pride in the fact that I call myself a Christian and that “I’ve never heard of this union with Christ thing before.”  I’d heard of sanctification and had a quasi-Lutheran based view of it as a process in which God was at work in me do make me more like Jesus.  However, my understanding of sanctification was fuzzy at best.  I knew that my sanctification wasn’t based on my works but that really just left me clueless to how it actually progressed.  I knew it was by the work of the Holy Spirit, but I did not cleanly grasp the concept of being purely adopted and given a new heart at my justification.  Wrestling with all of this has taken me from a focus of ‘Who God is and what He’s done’ and expanded upon that to add ‘Who I am as a Christian because of it all.’  I’m a child of God.  I have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose me in him before the foundation of the world…(Ephesians 1:3-4).  For most of my Christian walk I have focused on “redemption accomplished” at the neglect of “redemption applied.”

    In wrestling with the doctrine of union with Christ for the last four weeks I have found extreme confidence in my assured and secured salvation by growing in my understanding of this doctrine.  And not just my confidence in eternal salvation, but also in grasping God’s love for me from eternity past to eternity future.  It puts God’s unconditional election despite my depravity in a whole new light.  It puts his irresistible grace despite my sinful nature in a whole new light.  These words of Murray really struck me in this regard, “Apart from union with Christ we cannot view past, present, or future with anything but dismay and Christless dread. By union with Christ the whole complexion of time and eternity is changed and the people of God may rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

    I feel a little like I’ve opened up the doors of a wardrobe to find a whole new world existing that I never even knew was there.  If you’ve never heard of this concept of ‘union with Christ,’ pick up a copy of Murray’s book and go wrestling.  My prayer for you is that Murray will win.