Archive for Review

What I’m Into Right Now: Oolong Tea

I just finished reading a great book called “The Longevity Plan:Seven Life-Transforming Lessons from Ancient China” and it got me thinking about my current fascination with Oolong TeaThe author discovered a remote region in China, known as “Longevity Village,” that has the highest concentration of people living over one hundred years of age. From it he derived a number of lessons regarding health and well-being. It sounds all “new age-y” but it’s actually not, which is good, because I’m not into that stuff. I’m into Jesus (but I DO read broadly, because leaders are learners).

The book doesn’t outright mention “Oolong Tea” but it sure got me wanting to blog about What I’m Into Right Now.

Oolong Tea. Sounds kinda funny. I forget exactly how I stumbled upon Oolong Tea, but I do know I read about it in a book around June of 2017, because my Amazon.com purchase of Oolong Tea was around that time.

There’s a lot of detailed information about Oolong Tea in Wikipedia, but that’s not what inspires me about this semi-green fermented tea. There are numerous kinds of tea in this big, big world, but in my research, Oolong tea is one of the most beneficial.

Some of the health benefits include the reduction of chronic health conditions such as heart diseases, inflammatory disorders, and high cholesterol levels. This last one is what got me. I’ve had high cholesterol for many years. It runs in my family, so I’ve been taking statins every day for a long time.

Now, I’m not a doctor, and I’ve never played one on TV, so this is just my experience and not to be taken for actual medical advise…but as I started to read about high cholesterol and look for alternatives to statins, I discovered some things that were very helpful to me.

First and foremost…REAL FOOD.  I am eating better (primarily vegetables and lean meats). I’m also working out consistently. In a nutshell:  moving more. Among a number of other lifestyle changes, I added Oolong Tea into my day. It is usually the first cup of “something” very early in the morning. I hold off on getting my Iced Grande Triple Espresso until after I’ve worked out (motivation…what ever works baby!).  I tend to get up most every morning between 5:15-5:30 am and have a cup of Oolong Tea first thing. Check out my previous blog on The Top Seven Things I Do Before 7 AM. 

Oolong tea is rich in antioxidants. It also contains vitamins and minerals such as calcium, manganese, copper, carotin, selenium, and potassium, as well as vitamin A, B, C, E, and vitamin K. Now to be honest:  most of that doesn’t thrill me. I don’t sit around trying to figure out how to get more vitamin K or selenium into my life. But I do think about my weight.

Ah, yes…weight. My cursory research has shown that Oolong tea is pretty effective at controlling the metabolism of fat in the body as well as reducing obesity. Apparently, the active components (polyphenols) in Oolong tea makes fat work for you (about stinking time!).

For me, it’s been working. In combination with eating better, moving more and other important things for weight loss, I’ve been drinking Oolong tea since June 2017 and am down 16 pounds (from 202 lbs to 186 lbs).

So, I like it. Now, it’s certainly not the Holy Grail, but, in the words of the old white-bearded guy from the Indiana Jones movie about the Holy Grail, I feel as if I’ve “chosen wisely.”

Cheers.

What I’m Into Right Now: Ramen Noodles

Just spend a few moments on my Instagram feed and you’ll quickly realize that I am absolutely in love with Ramen. Now, classically, the next question I get asked after making such a claim is this:  “You really like that Top Ramen stuff?” To that I say emphatically:  “NO. That’s garbage.” I’m talking about authentic Japanese Ramen.

Wikipedia would describe it like this:  Ramen consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a tonkotsu (pork bone broth), beef, miso or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed (nori), and green onions.

I would describe it as my favorite food obsession right now.

If my memory serves me well, I recall experiencing my first bowl of ramen noodles in Los Angeles a few years ago. The only thing I had to gauge my expectations to was the cheap, nasty Top Ramen that I used to eat at Bible College in my 20’s. This was so much more. More Flavor (umami). More Depth. More interesting ingredients.

Since that first encounter in Los Angeles, I have been on a Ramen Hunt. I set a Summer of 2017 goal to eat at every Ramen joint in Portland. I estimated about 20 of them in the greater Portland area, and I was able to get to about 6-7 of them (with a few repeats). I also had a goal of losing 15 pounds, and it’s entirely possible these two goals we’re at odds! I’ve since eaten Ramen in New York, various places in Southern California, the Bay Area, Hawaii, and most recently a Ramen Crawl in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, which has a strong Ramen game going on right now.

I get asked what my go-to places are in Portland. Here’s my Ramen Report:

  1. Kayo’s Ramen Bar. Order the signature TanTan Ramen, and add the soft-poached egg. You’ll thank me.
  2. Marukin Ramen. They have a rotating daily menu, with a couple standards offered every day. You can never go wrong with the Tonkotsu Red. It’s a bit spicy, but the flavor is amazing. If you go to the Marukin off of SE Ankeny in Portland, then you’re right next to my all time favorite food in Portland:  Nong’s Khao Man Gai.
  3. Boxer Ramen.  There are a number of locations throughout Portland. If you wanna blow your mind, order the $6 side of Okonomiyaki Tots.

That’s the latest Ramen Report. More to come, I’m sure of it!

Chow!

John

What I’m Into Right Now: Gin Gins & Pipe Tobacco Candles

Well, here begins a series of blog posts about What I’m Into Right Now. I’m excited to spotlight some great hobbies, products, habits, and experiences that I’m finding joy in, and love to tell people about!

Obviously, as a Christian and a pastor, I could tell you that I’m into JESUS, and yes, it’s true that I am. He’s a massively important part of my life. So is my wife Denise, my kids Jordan, Josh, Anna, and Issac. So are my daughter-in-laws Lindsey and Shannon, along with my two grandkids: Emmy and David. Those are givens. Never to be under-appreciated, but yet givens.

So, now onto ginger and tobacco scent. 🙂

But first, let’s talk about TJ Maxx. I don’t how I missed this store for so long, but I found it and now I can’t get enough of it. For two primary reasons:  Gin Gins and Warm Tobacco Pipe Candles.

 

The Ginger People Gin Gins Original Chewy Ginger Candy 3 Oz (pack of 2)

I don’t go anywhere without a handful of these. I’ve got ’em in my backpack, office, car and home study. They are especially helpful when I fly. And I fly a lot. Ginger is good for “tummy strugs.”  When I fly, or am on a boat, I have to pay close attention to this. I’ve never had to use an airplane sickness bag, but I always have to know that it is within reach. Always. It’s the first thing I look for when boarding a flight, and I always put in front of the in-flight magazines with the little flap hanging out. It has to be visible. And I always make sure I have a stash of Gin Gins in my pocket. I love em:  gluten free, vegan, fat free, and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. One note though: they can be spicy hot. It’s ginger, people. If you don’t like the taste of ginger, you probably won’t like Gin Gins. But, boy, I sure do.

 

Decoware Richly Scented Warm Tobacco Pipe 2-Wick Candle 14.82 Oz. In Glass

While attending a graduation party at some friends home, I was immediately struck by the scent throughout the house. Not in a bad way (which can sometimes be the case with certain scents). They showed me the burning candle, and the stash of extra ones they had in waiting. I was now on a mission to find that candle.

Enter TJ Maxx.

I bought a couple of them, and now each time I’m there I pick up another one “just in case.” I have a problem, I know. But it’s a good problem. It’s a good scent. I know it doesn’t sound like “warm tobacco pipe” would be a good smell. I was especially worried about my wife, who can’t stand the smell of any kind of tobacco. But, she likes this. Whew. Good, because I have roughly 12 of them. 🙂

 

Well, that’s What I’m Into Right Now. More to come. Stay tuned.

 

What I’m Into Right Now

Hey Friends,

Periodically I get a request from folks about “what I’m into right now.” Such as, “Hey John, I know you read a bunch. So what’s your favorite book right now.” Or, “Hey John, you’re always talking about Ramen Noodles. What’s the best place in Portland?”

So, I’m gonna start a series of blog posts called “What I’m Into Right Now.”

First, you need to know that I’m a guy that gets into things for a while then moves on to something else when I get bored or discover something new. Call it “Rotating Hobbies!” I’ll blog about some of those things from my recent past, as well as what I’m into now.

My hope would be that you would get inspired, try some stuff out, explore, experiment and see what happens. You may find something you love or you may think I’m crazy (i.e.: charcoal toothpaste…blog post coming soon!). Feel free to click on any of the links I’m providing in the blog post and give it try!

I have a motto (actually a bunch of them, but this is one I’m crazy about now)… Leaders are Learners.

So, here’s to learning!

Grace and Peace,

John

I Love Books

c6c20c6a0a3398b203a24f2200f3f796I love to read, no surprise there. I read a lot. A LOT. But, this summer, during an extended pastoral sabbatical, I read significantly more. I counted 30 books completely read, but here’s a list of 25 of them that I remember. At the end of this blog post I’ll mention a few books that I’m currently tackling.

Happy Reading!

 

 

Simply Ramen: A complete course in preparing ramen at home by Amy Kimoto-Kahn

The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future by Steve Case

The Angels Game (a novel) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Destiny of the Republic: a tale of madness, medicine and the murder of a president by Candice Millard

Girl on the Train (a novel) by Paula Hawkins

The 10-second Rule: following Jesus made simple by Clare De Graff

Rolling Nowhere: riding the rails with America’s hoboes by Ted Conover

How to be a Man: (and other illusions) by Duff McKagan

Before the Fall (a novel) by Noah Hawley

Prep-Ahead Meals from Scratch by Alea Milham

Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodnard

Disappearing Church: from cultural relevance to gospel resilience by Mark Sayers

Design Your Day: be more productive, set better goals and live life on purpose by Claire Diaz-Ortiz

Sea and Smoke: flavors from the untamed Pacific Northwest by Blaine Wetzel

Visual Theology: Seeing and understanding the truth about God by Tim Challies

Andy Warhol was a Hoarder: inside the minds of history’s great personalities by Claudia Kalb

Good Faith: being a Christian when society thinks you’re irrelevant and extreme by Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman

Mind Hacking: how to change your mind for good in 21 days by Sir John Hargrave

Mexican Hat (a novel) by Michael McGarrity

Eat Street: the ManBQue guide to making street food at home by John Carruthers

How to Pray by R.A. Torrey

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

The Amish: a consist introduction by Steven Nolt

Prisoner of Heaven (a novel) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

 

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

Facing Leviathan by Mark Sayer

Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger

Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church by Kara Powell

The Seven Levels of Intimacy by Matthew Kelly

• People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue

 

Ride On…Q&A with Joseph Fehlen (Part 2)

josephfehlen-cover-thmbJoe is my brother (and he’s not heavy). Recently I had a Q&A with my brother about his book “Ride On: A Motorcycle Journey to Awake your Soul and  Rediscover it’s Maker.” It’s available on Amazon: As well, you can purchase his book at his blog (www.agrowingfamily.com), or at West Salem Foursquare Church on the weekend of July 6/7.

 

This is part 2 of a Q&A with Joe.  Enjoy.

 

JOHN:   I feel in Ride On you left me with a cliffhanger. I was wondering if you would ever come back? Are you working on a sequel? 

 

JOSEPH: Yes, I do come home but I just take the long way! I got ideas in the works for two other books. One called, Rebuild: When your life and your bike seem beyond repair.  I am rebuilding a 1974 Honda CB360 that was my father in law’s bike back in the 70’s. He sold it in the early 80’s and two winters ago we found it buried in several feet of pine needles and with a five-foot pine tree growing up through the frame.

It is now in my garage and we are trying to get it restored…but I don’t know what I am doing. Which makes a great premise for a book. I got some ideas for a third one but don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because I am currently writing one about hunting.

 

JOHN: Hunting book? You don’t know anything about hunting.

 

JOSEPH: Yes, that’s correct. Another hobby I took up in earnest in my late 30’s and I am fumbling through it.  I am tracking along and hope to have it ready to go to the editor early 2014. My working title is, Nine Arrows: A Hunters life of patience, practice, perseverance and utter failure.  It has been really fun to write and I hope it will be an encouragement to others that are thinking about quitting.

 

JOHN: Wow that is great… One last question.  Many in my church make fun of me for riding a Vespa. When you come out here would you ride with me on a Vespa to let them know they are cool also? 

 

JOSEPH: I almost purchased a scooter instead of the motorcycle and have a chapter about that dilemma. Because my motorcycle is not huge, and not a Harley, I have a lot of love for any two wheeled vehicle. All of what I talk about in Ride On is applicable to scooter riders as well as those that peddle around on two wheels. So, yes, I would be proud to ride with you on a scooter.

I will, however, not wave to you when I am on a motorcycle and you pass me on your scooter. That is reserved for those on real motorcycles.

 

Ride On…Q&A with Joseph Fehlen (Part 1)

josephfehlen-cover-thmbI have one brother.

I call him Joe.

But now that he’s kind of a big deal author, he likes to be called “Joseph.”

I refuse.

Joe currently is the associate pastor at Grace Foursquare Church in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Recently Joe wrote a book called “Ride On: A Motorcycle Journey to Awake your Soul and  Rediscover it’s Maker.” It’s available on Amazon: As well, you can purchase his book at his blog (www.agrowingfamily.com), or at West Salem Foursquare Church on the weekend of July 6/7.

 

I want to introduce you to Joe and his writings through this two-part Q&A. Enjoy…

 

JOHN:  As your brother, I know that you know nothing about mechanical things and you are not a gear head. What inspired you to write a book about motorcycles?

 

JOSEPH:  Yes, you are so true. The first thing you need to know is that Ride On is not a handbook on motorcycles maintenance, a travel book or an ‘I survived the Hell’s Angels’ memoir (I can neither confirm nor deny that I was a mole in a hard core gang). There are great reads out there on those topics.

Ride On is my story, which I tried to write in a fairly whimsical manner, yet straightforward story-telling mode, that explores my entrance into the motorcycle community and what I learned about life, faith and things that really matter. I was new to the community, in my mid thirties, and my eyes were aware of things that many may had forgotten after years of riding. Many had forgotten how and why they began riding.

It was at that point that I started to make these links between Jesus and motorcycles. The motorcycle became my vehicle to share the person of Jesus to others and give them tools to share Him with their friends. There were so many links that seemed obvious to me, but as I communicated them verbally to others they seemed to miss them. I knew at that point that I needed to write this book.

It was the bikers that followed Jesus that inspired me to get this on paper and ultimately to this point of a published book. They were asking me to help them share their faith in a real way to a community of people that many had pushed aside. So I immersed myself into the world and community of motorcyclist and kept my spiritual ears up for truths that could help them in their faith walk.

 

JOHN: What is the main point about the Christian faith you hope people would get from Ride On?

 

JOSEPH: I wanted to reintroduce (or introduce) people to a person named Jesus that we read about in the Bible. The problem is that for 2000 years we’ve added so much to Him and what He is about. I want to strip it back to the simplicity of who he is, what he did and what he said. Jesus is not some unattainable philosophy or a person that we have to completely figure out before we accept Him. He walked this earth telling people about His father and what life in this world is and should be like. He spoke in stories that had both practical and spiritual implications. So everyone that heard got something that could help them… and that is what I tried to do in Ride On.

You will notice in my writing I don’t have any direct quotes or indented scripture references. When I reference Jesus, He is just a continuation of the story I am telling. He is part of my story and I think He can be part of other’s stories as well. I endeavored to share about Him in a natural way because most people, when talking to their friends, don’t recite Scripture. No, we just tell the story of what Jesus did and what He is doing in our lives today. [I do have endnotes if people want to look further into what I am saying.]

So I guess the main point is… Jesus. Not religion, not rules, not your grandma’s church, but Jesus. He is the one wire we need to hook into to get our life on (or back on) track.

 

Be watching for Part 2 of this Q&A coming soon.

Why We Make Mistakes

mistakes_200I just finished reading a book called Why We Make Mistakes by Joseph T. Hallinan. With a great deal of research and case studies he concludes that the average person make mistakes because:

• We look but don’t always see
• We connect the dots
• We wear rose-colored glasses
• We can walk and chew gum-but not much else
• We skim
• We shoot first
• We all think we’re above average
• We would rather wing it
• We don’t constrain ourselves

Each of the observations brought about an “a-ha” moment for me to realize that there is distinct reasoning behind the gaffe’s and errors I make on a regular basis. What I found most helpful though was the concise conclusion of how to make fewer mistakes:

1. Think small. Little things mean a lot.

2. Think negatively. Ask yourself: what could go wrong?

3. Let multiple people proofread. What a colleague may miss, a spouse may catch. What a spouse may miss, your kids may catch. Etc. Etc.

4. Remember that multitasking is a mirage. There are limits to the number of things we can do at one time, and the more we do, the greater the chance for error.

5. Beware of the anecdote. When making decisions get accurate information and averages not testimonials. Diet companies make their money off of testimonials but look at the fine print: “Amount of weight loss is NOT typical.”

6. Get some sleep. Even moderate sleep deprivation can cause brain impairment equivalent to driving drunk.

7. Be happy. Happy people tend to be more creative and less prone to errors induced by habit.

And finally, Hallinan, says that one thing that DOES NOT seem to eliminate mistakes is money. Financial incentives do not affect average performance. People will work harder on a problem, though they will not necessarily work any smarter.

Why We Make Mistakes
by Joseph T. Hallinah
Broadway Books // 2009

Review // Third Day // Live Revelations

third-day-live-revelationshttp://www.foursquare.org/articles/765,1.html

Atlanta-based Third Day is back with a live offering from their popular Revelation album. This CD, which was recorded throughout several of their tour stops, captures live tracks from their most recent album Revelations as well as favorites from years past. The album even  includes a remake of “When Love Comes to Town” by U2, which includes special performances by Robert Randolph, Jars of Clay and Switchfoot.

Southern-rock outfit Third Day is known in worship circles for Offerings and Offerings II, which have ushered in corporate worship staples “Show Me Your Glory,” “My Hope is You” and “Your Love Oh Lord.” However, other than their current worship hit, “Call My Name,” this live recording brings them back to their alt-rock roots. This 9-song CD won’t provide pastors much new material for church worship services, but listeners will still enjoy the soulful sounds of lead singer Mac Powell and company. It’s the perfect album for a Monday drive with the windows down and the volume up. In addition, pastors and leaders will resonate and be encouraged by the 75-minute accompanying documentary on DVD that shows a real-life glimpse into the balance of touring, ministry and family.

by John Fehlen, Senior Pastor, West Salem Foursquare Church in Salem, Ore.