Friday, March 20, 2015

We are two days into the tournament and so many hopes and dreams have been crushed under the heels of two Cinderella teams named Panther and Blazer. I know, they sound like the lead guitarist and drummer of a bad 80's rock band but they aren't. they are the nicknames of the teams who dealt out the first two big upsets of the NCAA Tournament. These two upsets have a huge impact on the brackets of our four competitors: Jeff, Gary, Daughter #1, and Daughter #2.

Daughter #2 picked both upsets and Daughter #1 picked one of the upsets. Both Jeff and Gary did not pick either of the upsets. Here is where each person stands right now in the competition:

Daughter #1 is in first place with 10 points but only has 162 potential points to earn.
Jeff is tied for second place with 9 points and has 168 potential points to earn.
Gary is tied for second place with 9 points and has the greatest potential points to earn at 170.
Daughter #2 is in last place with 6 points and 156 potential points to earn.

Another big day of basketball remains to be played. Who will come out ahead? Who will win the challenge? We will soon see.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's that time of year again. It's time to celebrate the madness of a national collegiate basketball tournament. I personally love the excitement of the games. This is one of the only collegiate sports playoff systems that allows the little guy to make a run for a national championship. Who doesn't like a good Cinderella story? This year teams like Duke, Wisconsin, and Kentucky probably wouldn't like that kind of story but I for one love to sit on the edge of my seat and cheer on the tiny schools with the odds stacked against them as they knock down Goliath universities with thousands more students and much more money with a single shot in the final seconds of a game. Click here for a 15 minute reminder of the greatness of the NCAA Tournament.

I have never won a Bracket Challenge and often wonder if anyone consistently picks the right schools to win the tournament games. I wonder if the task of picking the winners of the tournament is a science, an art, or a mixture of the both? The folks at Kaggle, a community of data scientists are asking similar questions about the science of choosing teams to win the tournament. Intel, the inventor of the x86 microprocessor, is teaming up with Kaggle to host a competition among scientists to develop the most accurate algorithm for predicting tournament outcomes. Sadly, I do not have time to create my own algorithm but I do have time for my own little experiment.

I will be comparing the predictive capabilities of four individuals:

Jeff: Jeff is a businessman who loves basketball. He follows the game closely but he has a normal day job. Jeff participates in several bracket challenges each year and does his research about the teams in the tournament.

Gary Parrish: Gary is an analyst for CBS Sports, who call him a "College Basketball Insider." He will serve as our resident expert.

My Daughter #1: 7 years old. Does not care about basketball. Nor does she care who wins the NCAA tournament unless it means for some reason we would get to go out for ice cream at some point.

My Daughter #2: 4 years old. She doesn't care about basketball. In fact, she is mildly annoyed when I turn off cartoons in order to watch basketball games. She would, however, tolerate a game or two on a Saturday morning if there is a chance that a trip to the park would follow.

I posted the brackets for each person below and will update the blog regularly so you can follow their progress throughout the tournament.

Monday, September 17, 2012

3 Ways to Save Money in Your Church Plant

Church planting can be an expensive ministry but it doesn't have to be one. In this article, I offer three ways to save money in your church plant...

1) Reuse other's VBS materials.
Many churches use their Vacation Bible School materials one time and throw them away. As a new church plant, we did not have the money to purchase VBS materials. Our friends at First Baptist Church of Dunkerton, Iowa were happy to pass on their materials to us free of charge. We received all of their purchased materials as well as a truckload of decor! Once VBS was finished, we left many of the decorations up in the children's department as our decor theme for the year.

2)  Ask churches to help with your audio/visual needs.
Some of the most expensive items to purchase for a new church plant are audio/visual equipment. While we would all love the opportunity to enjoy a shopping spree at the local A/V store, churches can be a great source of free or cheap used equipment. In my weekly newsletter update, I asked churches to assess their A/V equipment assets and let me know if they had anything they weren't using and would like to give to our church plant. Some readers gave money specifically for the purchase of equipment and Amazing Grace Baptist Church gave us a truckload of equipment, which they had received from another church but had not used!

3) Mobilize your troops to get things done.
When we signed the lease for the storefront property that would serve as our ministry/worship center, it needed a lot of work. We had to design and build walls and a stage, run wiring for sound and televisions, and paint every square foot of the property. That would have cost tens of thousands of dollars to be done by a contractor. Instead, we prayed for the Lord to send the right people to help us get the job done for the cost of materials only. He answered our prayers and the right people came forward from our core group and sponsor church to lead us through the renovation. The Baptist Convention of Iowa sent a group to help one Saturday and New Life Church, our sponsor, helped throughout the process. It took longer then if we hired a contractor and it became my full-time job for about a month, but we saved a bunch of money doing it ourselves.Our people also developed a sense of ownership and were strengthened as a core group through the work.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Does God Know What's Going On?

So this is what I see happening in our world right now. I see...
 - A world that seems to be incessantly on the brink of war.
 - Thousands upon thousands of unborn children murdered annually.
 - Christians brutally persecuted for their faith.
 - Rampant disease.
 - Massive flooding.
 - Wildfires.
 - Drought.
 - A world market that appears to be on the verge of collapse.

I am sure you have observed many, many other events of this nature. Let me ask you something. As we live in the midst of times such as these, to whom or what will we place our faith? In our daily quiet time today, Darlene and I talked about God's steadfast presence in our lives. We realized that no matter what our circumstances portray to us, God is there steadily, purposefully working everything out.

Psalm 146:1-10 confronts me with a very important question: In whom or what will I place my faith?

Psalm 146:1–10 (ESV)

1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! 2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 3 Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. 4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. 5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10 The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord! 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter in the Garden

Hey everyone. I just wanted to invite you to join us at River City Church for a worship service and Easter egg hunt!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

River City Church: Our Vision for the Future!

Here is a quick video presentation of what we hope the Lord will accomplish through River City Church in the next few months.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Darlene in Missions Mosaic!

Hey everyone. I am so excited to post this article of my wife Darlene who was featured in the Missions Mosaic magazine recently. I am reminded of what a great partner I have in the ministry. Praise God for awesome wives!

Click here for the full article.

Reprinted from the February, 2012, issue of Missions Mosaic, Woman’s Missionary Union, Birmingham, Alabama. Used by permission. To receive this issue, or subscribe to Missions Mosaic, call 1-800-968-7301.