Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Culture Shift

I'm reading the book Culture Shift by Wayne Cordeiro. He has a chapter about identifying your church's culture. He uses the analogy of a totem pole -- "this is who we are, this is our culture." He also asks some painfully blunt questions:

Are our church cultures transforming the broader culture, or mimicking it?

Are we too susceptible to the latest plug-and-play church program or a pattern of quick fixes?

Do we care more about doing the next event than about the transference of values?

Will we one day find ourselves filing our mission statement away in a drawer rather than living it?

Are we stuck mimicking the best practices from others rather than finding out God's best for our church?


It's really cold here today. It was 2 degrees when I left the house. You read that right. Not windchill, but actual temp (the windchill is about 10 below).

Monday, January 29, 2007

Men's Retreat

Our men's retreat this past weekend was great. Our speaker, my good friend Mark Christian, spoke to our guys in a way that really connected with them. He is the king of dropping those little nuggets/zingers at just the right time. He really has a gift. We've known each other since the fourth grade, but at one of the breaks, I said to him, "Who ARE you?" Wow. God really did something this weekend. Not sure what it is yet, but He is working.

Mark and I bunked in the same room together with no one else there. We stayed up late reminiscing and being stupid. I haven't laughed that hard in years.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My Weekend

Leaving tomorrow for Lansing, MI. I have a Trustees' meeting at my alma mater. Tomorrow night I will be joining a bunch of guys from our church at our annual men's retreat. My good friend Mark Christian will be the speaker.

Y'all have a great weekend!

Book Recommendation

I might be a little late to the dance on this one, but I wanted to share a book recommendation with you guys. 360 Degree Preaching by Michael J. Quicke (yes, I'm sure his junior high years were brutal). It was Preaching magazine's "Book of the Year" in 2003. I hope it will cause you to become "fired up" for preaching. It has re-ignited my passion. I stumbled upon the book when someone gave me a copy of Quicke's 360 Degree Leadership (the premise of which is that preaching and leadership are inseparable) -- he refers frequently to his first book, the preaching book. I think y'all will enjoy both books.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Super Bowl

The Colts and Da Bears are going to the Super Bowl. Folks around these parts are pretty happy about it. Lots of Colts and/or Bears fans in this area. Even Coach Dungy said, "Hey we ought to play this game in Fort Wayne." The Colts/Pats game was exciting. When the Pats were up 21-3, I thought, "Oh no, here we go again." But they fought back and won it in the end. I hope the Super Bowl is a good game.

Hey, does anyone besides me get a little uncomfortable when the announcers start talking about how the coaches are African American? Stupid questions like, "Hey, how does it feel to be the first African American coach in the Super Bowl?" Mrs. Soren said to me last night, "Are we ever going to get past that kind of stuff." It's like they are saying, "Um, coach, I noticed that you're black." I thought we weren't supposed to see color. Coach Dungy had enough class to basically ignore the question.

It was funny when Shannon Sharpe said, "These are the first black coaches, I mean, African American coaches to reach this level." Even the black guys don't know what they are supposed to call the black guys. Ya gotta love political correctness.

And did you notice that Jim Plunkett, when presenting the trophy to the Colts' owner, almost said "Baltimore Colts"? His lips were forming a "B", then he caught himself. That would have been quite the faux pas.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Testosterone Night

Mrs. Soren won tickets today from a local radio station for BooKoo Arenacross. So I get to take my son and one of his friends to the Coliseum tonight for some cool father-son bonding (you can't go wrong with gasoline powered death machines, eh?). We're both looking forward to it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Flooded Basement

You never really appreciate the lowly sump pump...that is, until it stops working. I found about 4 inches of water in my basement last night. Ugh! We don't have a lot of stuff down there, but I'm afraid to see what the damage is. My plumber friend installed a new sump pump late last night (thanks Mark!). Now the clean-up begins.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jack is Back!

The new season of 24 began last night. Awesome!

The ongoing lesson of this show: Don't mess with Jack Bauer.

Have a Great Weekend Everybody!


The winter update has been posted on The Northmen website. For those who do not know, The Northmen is an annual campmeeting for men & boys in Northern Michigan. It is a great time of fellowship. It is very primitive. We camp in the middle of a state forest, miles from the nearest town. This summer will be my third time preaching there. It is a wonderful privilege, especially for a Michigan guy. The theme is The Parables.

I'll always remember a few years ago when I preached with my father-in-law and brother-in-law (it was a father/son theme that year) -- Ray Merritt (my wife's father) was on the platform and he asked, "Really fellas, is preaching at the Northmen any more exciting than preaching somewhere else. Is there any reason why it should be more of a thrill?" As the guys quietly contemplated that one, suddenly Ray (who was in his mid-60's at the time) leaped into the air and shouted, "Youbetcha! Yahoooo! I'm preaching at the Northmen! Can you believe it?" Mike Steere (and everyone else) loved that. Amen Ray, I couldn't have said it better.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Well

After a break for the holidays, tonight we resume our Wednesday at The Well program at Cedar Creek.

During the fall semester, the people really seemed to enjoy it. We begin with a delicious prepared meal. Then, we have several classes for children and youth. And the adults will be meeting for worship, prayer, and a time of "deeper" biblical teaching. I will be preaching from the book of Hebrews this time around. I'm looking forward to a great time of fellowship and learning.

Welcome to the Hall

Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday. I'm hard pressed to think of two more deserving players. I still remember watching the game when Cal broke the Iron Man record for most consecutive games played. The crowd went crazy as he did a lap around the ballpark. Big Mac might have joined them had he not supersized himself.
Congrats guys!

Gator Feeding Frenzy

What a game last night, eh? I wasn't surprised by the score, but I thought it would be reversed. I guess I bought into the Ohio State hype. 41-14 -- a great score if you're dyslexic. The Buckeye fans around here are looking a bit glum today.

Friday, January 05, 2007


So my Irish were exposed as the posers they really are. Can you say "over-rated"? All three ranked teams that they played (Michigan, USC, LSU) gave them a good ol' fashioned butt-whuppin'. Nine bowl losses in a row. Ugh.

Jesus Freak

I picked up Dc Talk's 10th Anniversary edition of Jesus Freak. It contains all of the songs from the original album, plus a bonus disc with some remixes and some live versions. They rock!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007!

Happy New Year everybody! We started 2007 by attending/officiating a wedding for some friends just after midnight. We had been enjoying some fellowship with our Northampton friends & family -- then we all went into the auditorium to celebrate Michael & Karen Pattison's marriage.

Today will include lots of football and just hanging out. Early tomorrow we will head back to Indiana.