Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Words of Wisdom from a Four-Year-Old

My four-year-old son, Jonah, has been on a tear lately with his wisecracks. Some of them are frankly laugh out loud material and others are sweet and endearing.

For instance, over Thanksgiving break I was working on our laptop and asked Jonah to refrain from touching the keyboard. He nodded and a few seconds later I see him navigating the screen with his little fingers.

"Jonah!" I said abruptly, "I told you not to touch the computer."

To which Jonah promptly responded, "I heard what you said but my finger wasn't listening."

Each evening when I come home from work, I get an update on our kiddos' progress on Mario Kart for the Wii (PS: You know it's a bad sign when your children start spelling "we" as "Wii"). So last night, I was asked to advance their game to the next level. In doing so, I unlocked a few vehicles and...drum roll please...Dry Bones, a kid favorite.

The boys were jumping up and down and giving me high fives. It was as if I had scored the winning touchdown with no time left on the clock in a high school football championship game.

The next thing I know, Jonah is giving me bear hugs and exclaiming, "You're the best Daddy in the whole world!"

How can you argue with that? I am pretty awesome.

Monday, November 02, 2009

My 2nd reason for loving Jonah

4 out of the 5 days of the week, my wife drops me off at work on her way out to Jonah's preschool and her part-time job. Normally, our ride involves listening to Thousand Foot Krutch's new album, "Welcome to the Masquerade," but today my four-year old let me listen to Fee's new album, "Hope Rising."

When we were approaching our downtown exit, Jonah piped in and said, "Mommy when you die and go to heaven..."

At this point we were thinking this is going to be an adorable question or a huge epiphany about heaven...

"...can I have this car?"

I bust out laughing. My 2003 Toyota Corolla already has 110,000 miles on it and some rust. By the time he's old enough to drive it, it may have 500,000 miles on it.

"Way to set your goals high, Jonah," I said back.

Friday, October 30, 2009

One reason why I love Jonah

I love how he refers to me as his "best buddy."

Erik: "You ready to head upstairs buddy for rest?"

Jonah: "You mean best buddy?"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Role Models

Yesterday, I had about 2 hours of work sitting on my desk calling my name. It was a hectic day in the office and I was being pulled in several directions. I finally carved out some time on my calendar and blocked two hours in the afternoon to crank on my work.

I went to the quietest place I could find on our campus and sat down at a cafeteria table next to a window that overlooks the beautiful fall trees outside.

I carefully spread out my work, surveyed the task ahead of me and was about to get started when I spotted them: two random employees who decided to sit right by me.

At first I was annoyed because they were talking really loud, and I was having a difficult focusing on my work. Then the "cool" one switched into fraternity mode and used about every cuss word imaginable to hold a discussion with his fellow peer.

Initially, I was embarrassed for him because he represents our company, was sitting on company property and didn't represent the values and ethics of our company. Then I was irrate to later figure out that their relationship was manager/employee and they were having their weekly one-on-one catch-up.

Is that how you conduct yourself in the workplace? If so, good luck moving up the career ladder.

It got me thinking about an incident from earlier this week. (Disclaimer: this is kind of gross) I've had a nasty cold for a week which went into my chest. When I have a coughing attack, gross things dislodge from somewhere deep in my lungs. And there's no way I am going to swallow that down.

So after one of my coughing fits, I rolled down the window and let it fly. The only problem is I was running an errand with my three boys. My four year-old rolled down his window and tried to spit out the window. As we like to say in Twitter-speak: #FAIL

It was with humility that I realized that my sons idolize me. I'm their hero. And I need to lead by example. I agree; teaching them to spit out the window is probably not a good idea. But what about the other areas of my life?

Do they watch me love and serve my wife unconditionally as Christ loves the Church?

Do they watch me read my Bible out of my desire to learn and grow in my faith walk?

Do they listen to me pray to Jesus without ceasing?

I do not model the lifestyle I want my boys to grow into. Do you?

We need to. Let's step it up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Truth and Love

We had a really great leadership retreat this weekend at Hope NorthBranch. I will admit that I more or less rolled my eyes when I initially learned of this retreat because it's tough to give up a Friday evening and a good chunk of your Saturday - especially as a volunteer. So my heart may have not been in the best place going into this retreat.

However, within 10 minutes of kicking off the retreat, I was hooked. Dan Brunner, one of Pastor Scott's best buddies, came and facilitated our retreat and we covered a bunch of ground from Myers Briggs to what it means to truly follow Jesus.

One of the most interesting exercises he facilitated was regarding the Myers Briggs test in which we discover our profile based on a questionnaire we completed ahead of time. We then spent a while affirming our pastor's strengths and areas of growth.

I could tell that the team was a bit uncomfortable sharing his areas of growth. It's tough to give constructive criticism and admit that someone actually has a weakness. And I think this is especially true in the church because we have a distorted view of love, especially when it comes to our leaders.

I think most people are afraid to share the truth in love to leadership (especially pastors, preachers, ministers, whatever you want to call them) for a couple of reasons:

  1. We are afraid of feeling inferior or being put on the defense because of a pastor's Biblical credibility. The last thing a member of the church wants to do is to get into a Biblical debate with a pastor. I would imagine that most pastor's would handle constructive criticism with humility like our pastor did. And while I don't have the statistics to back up my point, my hypothesis is that people are afraid to discuss issues with pastors because they are Biblically illiterate.
  2. Another reason why people shy away from voicing concerns is because we don't want to offend our pastors. They DO pour a lot of their energy and time into shepherding their respective churches. It's personal. And a lot of our feedback is subjective. So we're afraid of stepping on toes and hurting feelings when it comes to bringing up issues and concerns with the church.
But if we don't have these healthy conversations with our pastors, how will they learn & grow and improve the overall health of their leadership and the church?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Exegetical Vs. Topical Preaching

I haven't posted on this blog for a while so I am sorry I've neglected you. If you wanna know where my head is spiritually, I have been struggling with the topical versus exegetical preaching debate. I listen to a lot of Matt Chandler as it feels like God speaks to me through him. I have learned a lot through him and he's constantly challenging me, my beliefs and my thoughts. So I am praying about what God is trying to say to me about this and what we should do.

Now you know.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chaos In the Storm

The lightning is filling the sky. The thunder is shaking the house. In between songs, I hear one of the boys upstairs crying. They are pretty exhausted from a busy weekend so I fly up both sets of stairs to their rooms. I find Jonah thrashing in his bed – arms and legs flailing. Screams and cries. Sleepwalking. And he can’t be woken. He starts coughing and choking – losing his breath. The room illuminates with flashes of light and rolls of thunder. One horrendous cough and his system is jolted and he realizes his daddy is sitting next to him. He falls into my arms and my words of affection and affirmation. “It’s okay” I say over and over as I rub his back and snuggle him. He’s a sweaty mess and smells like the outdoors, but I hold him tighter and love him more. Unconditional love.

Can you relate to Jonah? Does it feel like the world is flashing by, filled with static while your thoughts are enveloped in a mess of chaos?

In the Message’s translations of John 6 (35-38) it reads: Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go.

Isn’t that what we all desire at the end of the day? To let go of everything and to be embraced by the one who loves us unconditionally – even in our sweaty and smelly messiness?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Faith In Action

This morning I was mingling by the front doors of the school (our church) when a beautiful African woman with crutches walked through and waited inside. I humbly approached her and introduced myself and she told me her name was "Rhumbi". (I am sure I just butchered the spelling)

When we started our call-to-worship at the first service, she walked all the way to the front and sat in the first row - pretty uncommon, especially in a Lutheran church.  Then Nick W., who specifically works with refugees at Lutheran Services in Iowa, came up to the front and sat next to her.

While leading worship today, Nick was engulfed in a pretty serious prayer session with God. I could tell he he was pleading with God, from the furrowed brow and serious look on his face.

Today, Pastor Scott gave a pretty compelling talk about "walking the walk" when it comes to our faith. And then he invited "Rhumbi" to come forward and give her testimony which was heartbreaking. Seriously heartbreaking. Rhumbi was from Zimbabwe and has experienced tragedy that we can barely comprehend.  She was selected to come to America for a brighter and better future - to escape the torment that she endured in her home country.  But her testimony wasn't necessarily filled with hope and joy; she is still broken and hurt by the actions of Americans. After 7 months of being in America, "Rhumbi" said she doesn't have any friends.  And my heart was broken.

One of my favorite verses is 1 John 3:18 which reads:  "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

I played my "spiritual leader" card today and told my wife that we need to sign up to join Lutheran Services "Circle of Friends" program to befriend a refugee family (or families).  What really broke my heart is that I expected to see a line of people "walking the walk" today, but I was only the 4th name on the list.  I was honestly disappointed and discouraged today.

And God's timing is impeccable. While I write this, Tim Hughes' song "God of Justice" just cycled on in iTunes.

God of Justice, Saviour to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Chose to serve and not be served

Jesus, You have called us
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

We must go, live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go

To act justly everyday
Loving mercy in everyway
Walking humbly before You God

You have shown us, what You require
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out Lord

Friday, April 17, 2009

Feeling neglected?

It's my busy season obviously so the Worship Groove has been very quiet the past few months. My apologies! I promise I will refuel and start typing away soon!

In the interim, check out my buddy's site: Thomas Lift.

Bill Butler is an amazing, talented painter and I love his latest work which you can find here.



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One of many reasons why I love my son, Jonah

My youngest son, Jonah, has taken a liking to my cologne. I suppose that I should be flattered that my sons want to be more like Daddy. So our new routine during shower time is this:

1. Lather up the kid real good with soap and shampoo. Rinse.
2. Lather the kid up with Old Spice Sport body wash. Rinse.
3. After I have him dried off, we apply a generous amount of moisturizing lotion.
4. And then the best part. He carefully samples each one of my cologne bottles (sadly, I have about 10 of them) - sniffing each one with deep breaths.
5. After we narrow the selection down to half, he selects his favorite.
6. I spray a small amount on his hands which he rubs together, pats his face and rubs on his tummy and arms.
7. Then he proudly declares, "Mommy! Smell me! I got some of Daddy's smellies on!"

I gotta admit - that's one kid I definitely love snuggling after that routine. ;)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Christmas Present

I am one of the luckiest guys I know. I realize that's a rather bold statement but when I reflect on my wife and kiddos, it warms my heart and I smile inside-out.  They are perfect in my life.

I think my wife is one of the best mothers on earth...and if there were a contest someday on Oprah to determine the best mom, I'm pretty sure she'd be a finalist, especially if I was one of the judges. hehe.

So here's the point of my post.

Wanna know what my wife bought me for Christmas?  A business.  

She is an encourager and wants to help me pursue my dreams. A couple of years ago she arranged for some studio time so I record some of my music.  And this year I like to think that she out-did herself.

She met with a financial advisor to figure out the tax/IRS stuff, set up business accounts with the bank, ordered credit cards and checks for the business, set up a PO box, and even blew up my brand logo and had it framed.

She's miles ahead of where I am with the business. But it was the swift kick in the butt that I needed and I am looking forward to kicking off this adventure in 2009.  

I will likely journal some of my learnings and milestones as this unfolds and I will share some of the good stuff with you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chivalry is not dead

This morning we got sacked with a snowstorm. Huge Colorado-esque flakes fell from the sky and quickly covered the road. The wind made no excuses as it ripped through our town enveloping all.

As I dropped off the boys for school, the line of cars was much longer than normal as I expected. We patiently waited our turn and they hurried indoors to safety. As I turned the corner to head to work, I watched a young boy and his younger sister dashing up the sidewalk toward the school. His sister was lagging behind and slowing him down.

But then the unexpected happened. He stopped, turned back and grabbed his younger sister's hand to help her walk the rest of the way. My heart swelled. I wish their parents could have witnessed this sibling love.

I wonder how many opportunities like this I miss with my own children?