Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Divine Invasion

Pastor Dave Brooks preached a solid sermon from John on Sunday, September 28, 2014. If you would like to read his overview of the Gospel, “The Divine Invasion,” please see my summarizing, editorializing, and questions below.

“The Divine Invasion”

By Pastor Dave Brooks

Waukee Community Church

Sunday, September 28, 2014

From the Gospel of John

Summary, Editorializing, and Questions by Bob Stouffer

God coming to the world as Jesus brought the confused responses of the world:  “What are you doing here?!” they asked.  Angry responses also came:  “Get out of here!”

Put yourself in the shoes of people in Jesus’ lifetime.  Think about how you would have responded to such a unique plan as God being born as a baby, living a sinless life, offering no resistance to his trial or beating or crucifixion, death, and resurrection.  (Remember, you do not have the benefit of the entire Bible.)

The Big Idea of the Gospel of John is JESUS IS GOD!  (See John 20:30-31.)

Jesus is God, the light, life, the Word.

The world is godless, dark, death, despair.  But darkness could not overcome the light, Jesus!  Light overcomes darkness through faith.  How does faith allow someone to overcome darkness?

Chapters 1-12 of John establishes the signs of Jesus’ divinity.  Jesus “invaded” the darkness of the world, overcoming the darkness.  For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son — that all who believe in Him will have everlasting life!

Seven (7) specific signs were recorded by John:

  1. Water to wine, Chapter 2
  2. Healing of the official’s son, Chapter 4
  3. Healing of the paralyzed man, Chapter 5
  4. Feeding of the 5,000+, Chapter 6
  5. Walking on water, Chapter 6
  6. Healing of the man born blind, Chapter 9
  7. Raising of Lazarus, Chapter 11
  8. Many received the light, but many people rejected the light.

How would you have responded to any or all of these miracles?

John also offered the 7 “I Am” statements:

  1. The bread of life
  2. The light of the world
  3. The door
  4. The Good Shepherd
  5. The resurrection and the life
  6. The way, the truth, and the life
  7. The vine

“I Am” — God — Jesus — Yahweh — God is a verb!

Which one of these “I Am” statements resonates with you, and why?

In Chapters 13-21 of John, we experience the darkness of Jesus’ march toward the cross.  People love doing the deeds of darkness, and the last thing we want to do when we are in the darkness is to experience the light.  When have you ever experienced this truth, or observed it in another person?

It is/was impossible to contain the light — Jesus!  Even Judas’ betrayal of Jesus did not overcome the light. The cross — where darkness is seemingly overcoming the light — is actually THE place where light (Jesus) overcame the darkness (Satan).  Jesus didn’t stay dead!  He rose from the dead!  Chip Ingram rightly points out in one of his studies on spiritual warfare that we Christians fight not “for” victory, but “from” victory.  Jesus offers light in our darkness.  The darkness cannot stand up to the light.  How much appreciation do you have for salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross?  How can you choose to have more appreciation for everlasting life through Christ?

The world may seem to be overcome with the darkness, but Jesus overcame the darkness.  Jesus can break through the darkness of our world!  When has Jesus helped you break through a dark time in your life?  How did He help you?

D-Day looked bleak at first, but the Allies ultimately won a decisive victory; battles still raged, but the war was won!  Such is the history of the cross, death, and the Resurrection!  Jesus, the light, broke through!  The darkness did not over come the light at the Resurrection!  And the darkness will not overcome the light today!

Describe how you have responded to specific examples of human heroism.  

How does Jesus’ supernatural act of heroism on the cross compare to those examples of human heroism?

Jesus has passed the light to you and me.  We must shine in the darkness of our spheres of influence.  HOW, specifically, can we shine in the darkness?

Will we work toward that end this week?  Will you work toward that end this week?  How can we cut through the fear, the inconvenience, the difficulty, and the busy-ness of our lives to shine in the darkness?

I Once Was Lost But Now I’m Found

I was blessed to be representing Oskaloosa Christian on the speaking platform with a number of excellent speakers – including IACS’s Eric Goranson, WHO Radio’s Jan Mickelson, and Dr. Sam Clovis – at the first-ever “Caffeinated Thoughts Briefing” on Saturday, September 20, 2014. If you would like to read the outline of my message, please visit my most recent post below:


“I Once Was Lost But Now I’m Found!”
By Dr. Bob Stouffer

The Caffeinated Thoughts Briefing: A Policy Discussion for Conservative Christians
Saturday, September 20, 2014

Education is in my DNA:

Fifth generation. . . .

I have seen all sides of schooling:

Associate Principal
School Board Member
Professor in multiple graduate schools
I have literally hired every position.

Public schools
Christian schools
Extensive experience with home school communities

I was steeped in liberal ideology as a public school educator:

We should worship education as an idol.

We should worship the State, ISEA, and NEA.

We should train students to be dutiful “statists.”

Non-public schools take money away from public schools.

The solution to every problem is more money from the state.

Dewey, Maslow, Rogers, and Skinner
History books stripped of references to our Christian roots
The Rainbow Coalition
Religious people are right-wing nuts.

Educators educate.  Parents parent.  Neither the twain should meet.

Christmas should not be celebrated or even observed/mentioned in schools.

Youth Pastors should not visit schools.

School speakers should not talk about Jesus in school.

In 1994, I saw the light:

Stewardship is important to tuition-payers and taxpayers alike, i.e., $8.35 million for 150,000 square feet at Des Moines Christian versus $16 million for 75,000 square feet for the public elementary school just six blocks to the north!

I couldn’t get enough youth Pastors to Urbandale High School!

Without proselytizing, school speakers certainly can invoke the name of Jesus!

Christian teachers in public schools should not be intimidated by lawyers!

Kevin Jennings, who is now President Obama’s “diversity czar,” personally called me and told me I was selected for an MCNS award. I declined. And I continued to protect all kids from harassment and bullying, no matter the reason.

I have a different worldview. I thirst for a biblical worldview. I think very differently about education now:

All Iowa schoolchildren have value, no matter the parents’ choices.

Education is the responsibility of the parent.

I respect the choice of every parent.

In the body of conservatives, we should not look down on any parent for their choices.

Education SHOULD NOT be the choice of the student.  Parents should be the parents.

Pastor Mark Holmen wrote a book:  Church+Home. . .

I want to write a book:  Church+Home+School. . .

The parent’s role in home schooling. . .THE highest calling of God.

The parent’s role in public schooling. . .Don’t fall asleep at the switch!

The parent’s role in non-public schooling. . .in Christian schooling, the disciple-making model described in Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and modeled by Jesus in the Gospels is a FULL education. . . .

Schools are economic drivers. . .

I want the public schools to succeed. . . .Jeremiah 29:7. . . .
In fact, you will NEVER hear me speak poorly of public schools, and you will ALWAYS see me making efforts to nurture a better relationship with the public schools in my community. . . .
I want the free enterprise system to work.

Educational choice is a good thing.

The STO is one of the best things to happen to non-public education.

HSAs would transform education in Iowa!

Government intrusion is a bad thing.

Common Core to indoctrinate or dumb-down is wrong.

But high standards and concrete competencies are good.

I have always wanted to blow the factory model of schools up, but I haven’t been successful.

I have a dream for a Christ-centered community college in Des Moines. . . .

Amazing grace,

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost,

But now I’m found,

Was blind,

But now I see.

What Is Unique About Your Community?!

In my quest to gain deeper understanding of Oskaloosa, Iowa – and to get Oskaloosa Christian School to the table, so Oskaloosa has a better knowledge of OSCI’s value to the community – I was among hundreds of people who attended the “Rediscovering the Greater Oskaloosa Area” seminar on Friday, September 19, 2014. Presenter Roger Brooks offered his “look” at Oskaloosa, Iowa through the eyes of visitors, addressing the following topics – to name a few – first impressions, how to increase sales, business mix, beautification, local attitude, branding, things to see and do, ease of getting around, and lasting impressions . If you would like to read my seminar notes, please read my latest post below.  Spoiler alert: I didn’t proofread the text.

“Rediscovering the Greater Oskaloosa Area”

By Roger Brooks, President, Roger Brooks International

Friday, September 19, 2014

George Daily Auditorium

Oskaloosa, Iowa

Summary Notes by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Principal, Oskaloosa Christian School

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)


We’ve been here since Monday. It’s been a great week.

First, we’re going to talk about branding and why branding is important. Then, we’re going to talk about our “secret shopping” in our community.

This is all about Oskaloosa finding your unique selling proposal.

When you go to another community and spend money, that’s called “leakage.” You want to keep local spending local.

Why is this important?

We’re knee-deep in marketing mayhem. Billions of dollars are spent marketing communities and organizations, yet we are drowning in marketing and advertising overload (5,000 a day). We are tuning it out.

Ninety-seven percent (97%) of community-based marketing monies are wasted.

Communities are trying to be all things to all people at all times.

The Internet has changed everything. Ninety percent (90%) of all Americans have immediate access to the Internet. Ninety-four percent (94%) decide where they’re going to go through the Internet.

To win, you have to market the experience before you start marketing the place.

Seventy percent (70%) of people are frustrated by the current state of finding attractions via the Internet.

What experience puts Oskaloosa on the map?

Via Google, people often type in experience first and community next.

What is the experience which sets Oskaloosa apart?

An Internet surfers are not going to find you if you are on page 1,032 of the hits.

What do you have that the people you are hoping to attract can’t get or do closer to home?

If everything’s like home, there would be no reason to leave home.

Why should someone invest in Oskaloosa more than someone else?

Iowa has more towns and cities per capita than any other state in the U.S.

You’ve got to be different or clearly better, according to outsiders, not insiders.

The group hug mentality doesn’t work.

Worse yet is the “membership mentality,” looking inward and not being open to new perspectives.

Welcome to the era of the brand.

Ten Things to Learn About Branding


Logos and slogans are NOT brands. People don’t come to Oskaloosa because of the city’s brand. Beaver, Oklahoma is the “cow chip capital.” Hooker, Oklahoma: “It’s a location, not a vocation.” Gas, Kansas: “Don’t pass gas. Stop and enjoy it!”

At the end of the day, it always comes back to the product, not the logo. Logos are not what brands are about.


A brand is a perception: visual clues, people, attitudes, word of mouth, publicity, social media. Good brands evoke emotion.

Asheville, North Carolina: A city of 85,000. The Biltmore Estate is the largest home in North America. You can fit two Walmarts in the Biltmore. Amazing artisans are downtown. Fine culture meets counter-culture. Their advertising makes you want to go there. Not too long ago, the average age was 60 years of age; now, it’s 34.


Effective brands have a narrow focus. Too much marketing has too broad an appeal.   You can’t be like everyone else. You can’t do what everyone else is doing.

You MUST jettison the generic. Look at your taglines, brochures, websites. If it can fit anyone else, toss it, and start over. The narrower your focus, the greater your success will be.

There is power in narrow focus. Something for everyone will ultimately result in mediocrity and failure.

What is that one thing Oskaloosa can promote to separate from other communities. Determine things you can only do in Oskaloosa. Ambiance is important. By the way, historic downtowns are not draws; unique ACTIVITIES in historic activities draw.

Always promote the primary lure of your anchor tenant. How many of you would go to Orlando, Florida if Disneyworld weren’t there? Then, promote the other activities.

Don’t market what you have. Market what differentiates you.

Loose the marketing lists


Your name should be synonymous with your brand.

Country music capital: Nashville. Gambling: Las Vegas. Kids and family: Orlando. Music theatre capital: Branson. Elvis: Memphis. Winery capital: Napa Valley. Frozen tundra: Green Bay.

Hershey: chocolate. Gettsyburg: The Civil War. Washington, D.C.: government. Hollywood: movies and stars. Oskaloosa?


Brands are built on product, not marketing.

Jackson, Wyoming. Population 12,000. The home of Western living. 110 galleries and western living shops.

St. Albert, Alberta, Canada: 61,000 people. Highest taxes in Alberta. They have the largest inside nursery in the world. They grow beauty and attract the arts. They have a beautiful botanic park.

The two fastest activities in the United States are bicycling and gardening.


Never, ever use focus groups, a great way to kill branding efforts.

Keep it simple. Sell a feeling, not a lot of physical attributes.

The effort can’t be top-down.

The 7 phases of public projects:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Planning
  3. Disillusionment
  4. Fear and panic
  5. Search for the guilty
  6. Punishment of the innocent
  7. Praise and honor for the non-participants

You can’t come to consensus on a narrow focus.


Never “roll out” a brand. The brand is earned.


Start with a plan. What do you want to be known for? How do you tell the world? What’s the action plan?


You build your brand on feasibility, not local sentiment.


Don’t try to please everyone all of the time.

You never see statues of committees in parks!

Three killers:

  1. Local politics
  2. Lack of champions
  3. Lack of private and public money

Devon, Alberta. Population 6,300. Home of Imperial Oil, the first “planned” community in Canada. They became Biketown Alberta. Paved trails throughout the community, with amazing biking and views. People wear t-shirts adorned with “SPOKESPERSON.” A few people tried to kill the brand. It was nasty. The City Council didn’t want to get involved. I went to do a workshop. I chastised the naysayers. Junior high kids were championing the cause; they won a $25,000 grant. “Grab life by the handlebars.” They can’t keep their logo gear in stock.

What doesn’t work:

Static displays.

Past history. Today is the day you start creating your future.

Past residents of yesterday.

A festival or event. What about the other 364 days of the year?


Being all things to all people.

The best brands are built on private sector investment.

The best brands:

Packaging assets. Round Rock, Texas. The world headquarters of Dell. They became the Sports Capital of Texas. Their activities and facilities attracted more companies to locate in Round Rock.

Lifestyle. Canmore, Alberta. 10,000 people. More Olympic athletes per capita. More climbers who have climbed Mt. Everest. Full bike racks. Kayaks and canoes on roofs of vehicles. Full of sports shops. Weight equipment in public parks. Canada’s winter sports destination. Kellogg, Idaho. 2,400 people. Bavarian village became the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. 15 miles long. 10 tunnels. High train trestles. Spectacular views. People are coming from everywhere. Plenty of restrooms. You coast all of the way down. A bus takes you back uphill! They are promoting the core attraction and so much more.

New category. Ashland, Oregon. Several miles off the freeway. A Shakespeare theater. A dying timber town is flourishing from the arts. The plays are modernized. 6 days a week, 9 months a year. 400,000 visitors a year – at an average stay of 4 nights. The technology industry wanted to be around the arts. Downtown is 100% full.

Repeat after me.

I promise to promote only what’s truly unique.

I promise to be different.

I promise not to repeat what other people say.

We’re here to facilitate the process. The ideas must come from you.

The Step-by-Step Process:

Alpena, Michigan. 10,000 people. On Thunder Bay. The goal is to become an outstanding destination for locals and visitors. And they want to bring their youth back. Iowa has the most educated youth in the country, but they are the biggest exports of the states.



Brand Development Committee of champions. Not a focus group. Private and public sector.


Education and outreach. Get input to weigh-in on Oskaloosa. You have to ask.

Encourage ev

Take the survey: houses the survey.

Visit the informational websites: Street


Compile the ideas. Sort what people said. Roger and his people will categorize themes. Greatest assets will be identified. Significantly different ideas will be found. Build your brand on feasibility, not local sentiment to get past the local politics.

Is this something the markets we are hoping to attract can’t get or do closer to home?

Can the community buy into it over time?

Can the private sector invest in it?

How much will it cost, and when will we see an ROI?

Does it have legs? Start with a niche, and then add extensions to the brand.

Can we make it obvious and pervasive in the city?

Will it extend our seasons?

Do we have those who will tirelessly champion the cause?


Identify the markets. Who are you trying to attract.   First, get the locals to hang out in Oskaloosa. If they don’t hang out in Oskaloosa, you won’t get visitors to hang out in Oskaloosa. People are looking for an escape, a sanctuary. Fifty-four percent (54%) of Americans are concerned about stress in their lives.


Create the Brand Leadership Team (BLT). Like the sandwich. They must be 100% enthusiastically behind the brand. Do-ers, not directors. Willing to give time to the efforts. Wiling to take hits from naysayers. They will be protective “brand cops.” More than half should have a vested interest in the brand. They are the voice of the brand. Good speakers. Not politically divisive in the community. Act as a steering committee for brand-related projects. They will never take no for an answer. Load the team with people in their 20s, 30s, and young 40s. The future of Oskaloosa resides in their youth. One of two people will drive everyone else.


Develop the product which backs you up. Sanctuary. Hotels. Spas. Learning opportunities. Retreats. Public market. Rename parks to fit the brand.

Roger will be on-the-ground to facilitate the process.


Write the brand promise.


Create the look and the feel of the brand.


Develop the action plan. A to-do list of who will do what by when and with what resources.


Make something happen. Deliver on the promises.   Pole banners. Gateway sign. Trail signs. Rename parks. Everything should revolve around the distinctive.


Keep the energy high, and don’t fold with opposition from CAVER’s (Citizens Against Virtually Everything)!


Do it. The efforts will take off. Get off the best kept secret list. What kind of community do you want to live in?!


Revisit the plan every couple months.

Here’s to your very bright future in Oskaloosa!

Be patient, passionate, persistent, and ready for a little bit of pain.

It’s not about yesterday. This is about tomorrow. You want to live with your new brand for decades.


Assessment Findings and Suggestions

By Roger Brooks International

We’ve worked with 1,000 cities in 45 states. every province but one in Canada, and Western Europe.  We have a 100% success rate, because we keep politics out of it.

The assessment was thorough – 60 key elements.

We had nothing in advance of our visit. We were first-time visitors.

There will be a report. This presentation starts the conversation.



It’s time to develop a wayfinding system. Directional signs.


Promote the point of differentiation. You can stop, shop, play, and stay anywhere. Find your niche, and put that niche on the sign.


Always put your auxiliary signs where people can stop and read times and locations.


The empty gazebo should include visitor information. Make your gazebo worth something. I have no idea why this gazebo and parking lot are there.


Your wayfinding should also include trail signage and maps.


You can do better than “Recreation Trail.” Make it an attraction.   How about “Sanctuary Trail”?


Provide information about renting bikes for the bike trails. Keep people in Oskaloosa longer. Staying for two hours doubles spending, and overnight stays quadruple spending.


Design, fabricate, and install a decorative and attractive wayfinding system. Include electronics and search engines.


Watch the videos, i.e., “The Art of Developing a Wayfinding System.” Just wayfinding systems improve sales by 18%!


Instead of shrubs, use annual color. Shrubs hide words on signs. “Pride, Progress, and Tradition.”


Same with the William Penn University sign.


Get rid of signs which read, “WARNING: Drug and Alcohol Ordinances Strictly Enforced.” You are not inviting to visits.


Develop 24/7 visitor information. When people arrive in a community, 81% of people use brochures. You might get people to stop.   Import more cash.


Install several kiosks in key locations. Something is better than nothing.   Inexpensive. William Penn. The Square. Chamber Office. Edmundson Park. The golf courses, Fairgrounds. Race track.


Purchase a portable kiosk for big events. Take the information to where the people are. It’s inexpensive.


Watch the video about the kiosks.


The Chamber Office should be a key place for information along the exterior wall.


Take the time to add content to TripAdvisor. The current attractions are only 3 in number, including Stix. You want 3 more Muscos here. All companies come here as a visitor. It doesn’t look like you have much to offer.


Signage should be visible, i.e., TASOS is barely visible on the restaurant. Use contrasting colors.


Promote your anchor tenants. Create an accordion brochure. Highly regarded by someone other than themselves. Good curb appeal. Open year-round. Open until at least 6:00 p.m. Open 6 days a week. Unique to Oskaloosa (not chains).   Don’t let local politics kill this effort.

Autumn Acres was nice. Gateway signs were nice, but what do you see after that, i.e., entering from the west on 92, seeing the sign, and seeing a vacant restaurant.


Beautification creates great impressions. Little things make a difference.

We saw cool abandoned buildings. Could Vennard be an “artisan village”?

Great hospital. Very nice. You have an exceptional medical facility. Good curb appeal.

There is no sign for this beautiful B&B.

No more than 5 items on a wayfinding sign.


Here is a log cabin. What is it? There is no interpretive sign. Tell the story of the log cabin. Get people to stay.

The water park is very nice. This creates a good impression.


Add a brochure at the disc golf course.


Add a sign about public play and 18 holes, with club rental and car rental on the outside. Add a WELCOME sign. Add some curb appeal.


Is there a restaurant in the golf course?

The Creamery is cool. We stopped in. We bought.

Curb appeal can account for up to 70% of first-time sales at restaurants, golf courses, wineries, etc.

In St. Albert, the city paid half of the beautification expenses.


Add shrubs for curb appeal.

804 décor has great curb appeal, but it’s hard to find. Market this as a core attraction.


William Penn looks fabulous.   How can 1,000 or so students spend time downtown? Connect them better to downtown – a downtown for them.


Add “COMING SOON” sign to place of demolition and construction – an invitation to come back. This is a missed opportunity on the William Penn campus.

We noticed outstanding lighting everywhere.

We got a map in the downtown area.

We figured out how to get to the Fairgrounds. VERY nice.


Add an upcoming events at the race track.

Amazing sports fields and facilities. This looks like “Field of Dreams.”


Add signage to the construction at the Lacey stadium.

Dollar General is not a good major tenant for a mall.

A hair salon as a tourist attraction?! It’s listed as a tourist attraction digitally. NavTeque does these maps.

The Nelson Pioneer Museum is beautiful.   Welcome to OUR Museum is good wording for a sign.

You have 2 of the 450 Frank Lloyd Wright homes in existence.

There are a lot of terrain changes – stunningly beautiful.

We were impressed. Oskaloosa is great.


What is the future of Caldwell Park? When?

Musco is world famous.

We had dinner On the Green. It was great. They were nice. Good service.

We went downtown for the focus of the next day.

The heart and soul of every community is the downtown. The health of the downtown is the health of the community. There are 400 successful downtowns with 20 common ingredients for success.

You can make downtown stunningly beautiful. Pretend Downtown Oskaloosa is Carnegie Hall. Something’s got to be happening in Carnegie Hall AND Downtown Oskaloosa.   What’s in the buildings is what makes the business.

Downtown should be a primary economic driver.

Where do people go hang out?

Import cash. It starts with local spending.


Watch the video, “The 20 Ingredients of an Outstanding Downtown.”

Two-hour parking is a way to kill a downtown. It dramatically reduces spending and repeat visits.   We wanted to spend more time downtown, but we had to keep moving our vehicle to (presumably) avoid tickets. If someone gets a ticket, the person writes you off. You want people to spend a lot of time in downtown. If you insist on 2-hour parking signs, add signage where longer parking is permissible.

The band shell is a beautiful icon.

Your downtown architecture is beautiful. The downtown has potential.

In three lineal blocks, you need a minimum of 10 places that sell food (soda fountain, coffee shop, etc.), 10 destination retail shops, and at least 10 of those open after 6:00 p.m.!

You need a mall mentality. Consistent hours and days. Open late into the evening hours. Like businesses grouped together (clustering). Recruit anchor tenants. Central gathering place. Something people come out of their way for.

“Quilting Queen” on NBC News (Hamilton, Missouri) Jenny. YouTube videos are available. ANCHOR TENANT. They’re building hotels and restaurants around one lady!

When auto malls are grouped together, they do seven times the business!

If you had 35 restaurants in downtown, you’d have people coming from Des Moines.

What do you want to be known for. Antique stores? Jefferson, Texas has 125 antiqu dealers in a town of 2,500. They’ve got B&Bs.


Blade signs need to identify the shops for people who are driving.   Put on the sign what you’re selling, not the name of the business. No lower than 7’. No higher than 9’. No wider than 42”. Change the ordinance, if you need to.

Signage says a lot about you. Signs should be beautiful and professional, not junky. Signage should be welcoming.


Promote the primary lure on the signage. Don’t make it a mystery.


Add incredible breakfast and lunch menu on the Smokey Row wall to attract more business. Locals know. Visitors do not know.

A skate shop in a health clinic?!

Create invitations, not rejections.


Increase curb appeal. The shops should be colorful, the signs appealing. Scarecrow festival in October attracts thousands of visitors in this town.


Extend window displays to exterior spaces in the outside.


Never more than 4 window signs. More than that, it makes your shop look junky. Simplify. Make it easier for people to understand unique situations.


Get rid of all Closed signs. State when you will be open. Open signs say, “Come back!” and Closed signs say, “Go away!”


Think benches. You should have 30 or 40 benches. They should always be at the façade facing out.


Benches should be flanked with foliage.

This has to be a public-private partnership. Looks like the Oskaloosa city is trying to do its part. What about the merchants?

Open the doors to be more welcoming.

Jaarsma is a fantastic place, but the curb appeal is lacking.


Add benches, benches, benches.


Consider a retail assistance program for curb appeal, window displays, etc.

We judge by look. The restaurant might be good.


Where are the sidewalk cafes? We’re moving to European standards. Lose a couple parking spaces to provide outside tables. Bring downtown to life. We’re eating and shopping later at night.   People eating outside make walkers want to go inside.


Add beautification to the exterior of the Smokey Row.

One merchant provides free ice cream to children who sit at the table outside the shop.

Paint the exterior of buildings to fool the eye about beautiful 3D images. People will come from miles to have their pictures taken.


Add street trees along Market Street. Light ‘em up at Christmastime. Use ‘em for shade in the summer.   Business will go up.


Your square is a perfect plaza. Make it a place where you hang out. Line the plaza with restaurants, retail, etc. Lit splash pads for children.   An ice rink in the winter, with skate rental. Movies on the square in the summer. We want out of our car. Give young people places to hang out. Seventy percent (70%) of consumer spending takes place after 6:00 p.m. Are you open?! The youth will come back.


Watch the video: “Are You Open After 6:00 P.M.?”

The days of the traditional mall are dying.

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today

One of our teachers sent me a link to the following article.  He asked me to make some observations.

“Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today”

By Valerie Strauss

July 8, 2014

I read the article.  I can make some observations.  I’m always up for an opinion (or two or three or four).

First of all, I do believe we know more about ADHD and ADD in the past 10-15 years, so that is a reason for the growing numbers of diagnoses, but another reason is that, from my view, we over-diagnose these disorders.

How do we separate “disorders” from “typical developmental behavior”?  Boys, in particular, are highly kinesthetic in their behavior, and we may be too quick to call them ADHD or ADD.
I’m not sure it’s fair to say that we make kids sit for too long in classrooms, and that’s a reason for their rambunctiousness.  We would be wise to allow them to get up and move around after 20 or 30 minutes, but that doesn’t mean students shouldn’t learn how to sit still and work for long periods of time.  Such happens in the “real world.”
This generation is so hyper-stimulated by visual images — and the pace of those activities — that it must be hard for them to keep their attention on tasks which call for un-visual and rigorous mental exercise.  Our kids are “achieving” virtually, but they need to learn to achieve “actually,” because authentic work of the job market demands it.
How can we train students to pay attention for longer periods of time?  Just do it!  But make the task engaging and energizing.  Essentially, we would be “fooling” them into believing that sustaining the attention is worth it.  It’s really not “fooling” them — only teaching them that they actually CAN keep their attention on a complex activity for more than 6 minutes.
Valerie Strauss, the author of this article, stated that a reason for students’ poor attention spans had to do with “poor core strength and balance.”  That’s interesting.  A first for me.  So we need to increase their physical activity.  I’m not against that, but we do also need to concentrate on their “core academic abilities” as well, or we’ll raise a generation of well-conditioned and uneducated citizens.  I hate it when a student has an “underdeveloped vistibular (balance) system.”  (Pardon my sarcasm.)
I certainly don’t dispute that student fidgeting during class is a sign of their bodies’ need for movement.  So parents and teachers alike need to be sensitive to the times when Johnny or Susie is too sedentary at home and school; let’s get them out from behind a screen or school work, and let them run off some energy, thus releasing endorphins to the brain and energies to the body!

Stewardship and the 6 T’s

I am privileged to write a column for Waukee Community Church’s monthly “Generosity Matters” newsletter.  If you would like to read my piece for September, 2014 — “Stewardship and the 6 T’s”  — the post follows:

“Stewardship and the 6 T’s”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer, Elder, Waukee Community Church
September, 2014
Stewardship is growing traction as a popular word in today’s lexicon.  Unwittingly, non-Christians are using this biblical term to advocate for best use of the world’s resources.  How are Christians to consider stewardship?  So often, we think only of the most efficient and effective uses for financial resources.  In fact, many Christians will complain about church leaders who talk regularly about giving money to the causes of Christ.  But stewardship is so much more than the use of “treasures.”  There are actually five additional T’s!  We must be effective stewards of God’s (1) treasures, (2) talents, (3) time, (4) temple, (5) truth, and (6) testimony.
The operative word in that previous sentence is “God.”  God owns everything.  We are the managers of HIS resources.  God gave us life!  So we give our lives back to Him as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1).
  • And we give back a portion of His treasures — money and other material blessings.
  • And we give back talents with which He has blessed us — humbly and to His honor and glory.
  • And we give back His time to Him, redeeming time through Christ-centered activity in service to Him and to others.
  • And we give the temple which He created — our physical bodies — that we would take good care of ourselves through proper spiritual nourishment, nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
  • And we give back our minds and hearts to the study and living-out of His truth — through the study, meditation upon, memorization of, and obedience to His Scriptures.
  • And, finally, we give back our testimonies of God’s faithfulness, salvation in Jesus Christ, direction of the Holy Spirit, and evangelism — that we would expand the Kingdom of God.  “I urge you as sojourners and exiles [in a much different kingdom of 2014]. . .keep your conduct among [non-believers] honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil-doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11, 12, English Standard Version).
So, we see that stewardship is far more than giving our tithes and offering to Waukee Community Church.  We must give our treasures, talents, time, temple, truth, and testimonies to God!  If you would like to read more about stewardship, I recommend two books which highly influenced me early in my walk with Christ:  Randy Alcorn’s Money, Possessions, and Eternity — or The Treasure Principle, his much-abridged version of that book.  May you engage in joy-filled managing of God’s resources, Waukee Community Church stewards!

An Upside-Down Kingdom

Pastor Dave Brooks outlined Jesus “upside-down” Kingdom in a sermon at Waukee Community Church on Sunday, September 14, 2014. If you would like to read my summary, applications, and questions for the message, “An Upside-Down Kingdom of Power, Greatness, and Fame,” please read my following blog entry.

“An Upside-Down Kingdom of Power, Greatness, and Fame”

By Pastor Dave Brooks

Waukee Community Church

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Summary and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer

We need different perspectives to see life in a new way.   Last week, we looked at the Gospel of Matthew. Today, we look at the Gospel of Mark. Mark flips the account of Jesus upside-down to show us a perspective of the Savior’s life. Matthew illustrated the Kingship of Jesus. Mark shows us the service of Jesus. Since Jesus is King, we must serve like Him in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is an upside-down Kingdom.

Mark was a protégé of the Apostle Peter. Mark wrote down accurately what Peter had heard, learned, and experienced with Jesus. An Apostle tied to this Gospel gave the book legitimacy. The Book of Mark is a book about service. Mark is the oldest Gospel. Mark was a source document for other Gospels. Mark was a writer with a “just the facts, ma’am” style.   Mark was written in the 60s A.D. , during Nero’s massive persecution of Christians. Jerusalem was rebelling against Rome, and Rome destroyed the capital city, including the Temple, in 70 A.D.

Mark presents a divine servant who comes for the forgiveness of sin. Mark’s key idea is recorded in Mark 10:45 – “The Son of Man came to serve, not to be served, to give his life as a ransom for many.” Rome worked one way – serve Rome – God’s Kingdom worked another way – serve God. The Kingdom upside-down means power, greatness, and fame upside-down.

THE KINGDOM UPSIDE-DOWN MEANS POWER UPSIDE-DOWN. The world climbs the corporate ladder, and the people at the “top” are important. The people at the top expect to be served by those at the “bottom.” John and James asked to have places of honor by Jesus – for the sake of power. But Jesus told James and John that power comes at the “bottom.” We are to give our lives away. We are to love and serve the church. We will know we are servants when people treat us like servants. If we want to be powerful, we’ve got to serve others. The power structure is inverted, and you can have the power anywhere. In this power structure, we have to please only Jesus.

THE KINGDOM UPSIDE-DOWN MEANS GREATNESS UPSIDE-DOWN. The disciples had been angry about who was the greatest. But these men were at the bottom rung of the Jewish power structure. In Jesus’ Kingdom, the first were least; the least, first. Jesus grabbed a child to illustrate His point. At that time, children had no value in advancing greatness. But Jesus turned the world upside-down. Are we seeking power and greatness? We should be seeking to serve like Jesus. In saying this, Jesus is looking forward to the cross – where He would serve by allowing His death.

THE KINGDOM UPSIDE-DOWN MEANS FAME UPSIDE-DOWN. Jesus got alone with the Father – to determine the work that would give God fame. He told some who were healed by Him not to tell anyone about the miracle. Jesus turned fame on its head. God deserves the fame. Christians should serve like Jesus – drawing attention to God, not ourselves.

We struggle with these concepts. Mark showed how his mentor Peter didn’t get it right in Chapter 8, verse 33 (“Get behind thee, Satan” Jesus said of Peter’s statement); 9:5 (recording the awkwardness of Peter speaking, when he should have been worshipping the transfigured Lord); and 14:66-72 (Peter’s betrayal of Jesus). Later, Peter did not have to apologize for his sin and shortcomings; he had gotten it wrong, but God restored him, making him humble, bold, and successful in Kingdom work.   Wherever you are “at” is the Kingdom. You are great in God’s Kingdom.

God is a God of new beginnings. This Gospel is the “beginning” of the Kingdom. The work of the Kingdom began with the work of the disciples; the work of the Kingdom continues with our work! WE are the rest of the story!

It is reputed that Mark wrote this account soon after Peter was crucified. Peter “got it.” Peter is “telling us,” through Mark, that we can experience power, greatness and fame through the story of the Gospel. ALL are welcome to this Kingdom. Serve, and find greatness in being the least.

We can’t do this alone. We need God. We need God’s power.


When have you served God and others with a right heart? Describe your experience.

When have you served God and others with the wrong motivation? Describe your experience.

When has someone looked down at you from the top of a power structure? Describe your experience.

When have you sought honor for yourself, instead of God?

When have you sought to please men and women more than Jesus? Describe your experience.

During his sermon, Pastor Dave made three particularly important statements:

“. . .you can have power anywhere” in Jesus Christ’s Kingdom. What does that mean, according to biblical truth?

“Wherever you are ‘at’ is the Kingdom. You are great in God’s Kingdom.” What does that mean, according to biblical truth?

“This Gospel is the ‘beginning’ of the Kingdom. The work of the Kingdom began with the work of the disciples; the work of the Kingdom continues with our work! WE are the rest of the story!” What does that mean, according to biblical truth?

Approved Under God

Pella Christian High School generously invited the Oskaloosa Christian’s sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to attend a special chapel on Friday, September 12th. Valarie Eliott, the daughter of Jim and Elisabeth Eliott, was the speaker. You might recall that the Aucan Indians of Equador brutally murdered several missionaries, including Jim Eliott. For a period of time, the wives and children of those martyrs left Equador, but they returned, and, as a result of these American families’ supernatural witness of forgiveness, the chief and nearly the entire Aucan tribe came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. If you would like to read my summary of Ms. Eliott’s chapel mess, “Approved Under God,” access my blog entry below:

“Approved Under God”

Valarie Eliott

Pella Christian High School

Friday, September 12, 2014

Summary and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Principal, Oskaloosa Christian School

It’s a privilege to speak with young people. I usually speak to adults. I’m thrilled to be among energetic students in a Christian school.

I want to tell you what my mother and father have meant to me.

My father and mother went to Wheaton College in Illinois. They were both Greek majors. They both wanted to work in translation. They fell in love as they started studying together. But my father believed he would be a single missionary. So my mother had to swallow hard and accept that decision.

My mother also believed she should live for Christ first. She believed she would only marry as a miracle. She was reserved and introverted. But she had a great sense of humor. She told stories with wonderful inflections.

One afternoon, during their senior year, my parents took a long walk, ending in a cemetery. My father told her that he loved her, but that he planned to follow Christ first. They sat on a stone bench, and, as it got dark, and the moon rose, the shadow of a cross lay on the ground. They believed their feelings had to die, and Christ had to be first. Feelings should not drive their decision-making.

This was 1948. There was no social media. They read their Bibles very seriously. As they thought about the cross, my mother quietly had tears running down her face. She could not speak against what her father said. She had to die to her own feelings. Christ was living for, even if she could not marry this fine young man.

My dad was full of life and energy and dedication for totally living for Christ. He was very serious about going to the mission field. He was very vocal in his faith and his expression of preparation for God’s calling. My father didn’t know what to do his feelings for my mother.

My father used the phrase, “Approved Unto God,” as his “degree” in preparation for his calling. “Approved Under God” is what you should be living under as a teenager. His B.A. was secondary to “Approved Under God.”

My Mom and Dad wrote letters to each other for 5 years – 6-7 pages every time. My father made a covenant that God would glorify Himself to the utmost in him, or slay him. My dad wanted every moment to count for eternity. He exhorted students to be in the Word. He rebuked others who were not. He was sometimes disliked for this [intensity]. Buy he was also liked by many; he could recite long narrative poems, acting them out, putting skits on, resulting in people roaring in their seats. He was very funny. He was an adventuresome person. That part of him came into me. I wanted 12 children, but my husband wisely asked us to stop after 8.

The men went to Equador. A medical clinic was built. They built a school. They had plans to build houses. My father thought he would be an itinerant missionary, traveling from tribe-to-tribe. My father had heard about the Aucas. He had premonitions that he would die young and for the Aucas. (He was 28 when he was killed.)

At one point, rains caused the buildings to be washed away in a river. He wrote to my mother at this time. Sometimes, they talked by short-wave radio. She had been working on a language that was not written down. Her language materials were stolen, and the interpreter was murdered. These were huge trials for them. They could trust or become bitter. They trusted God all-the-more. He is a mysterious, everlasting God.

The Father gave Jim the green light to marry my mother. They were married in 1953. I was born in 1955.

I was 10 months old when my father was killed by the Aucas, who brutally speared five men. All of the women of the martyred husbands chose to trust in God. They lived for God. It was well worth it. Dying for God is well worth it.

My mother used to quote a Coast Guard motto: You have to go out to save someone, but you don’t have to come back.

I am grateful for my mother and fathers’ influence on my life. My wife was kind and spoke the truth in love to me. My father spanked me before I was 10 months old. I was thankful that my parents instilled discipline and real dedication to Christ.

My mother read Isaiah 43:10 and following to me once. This Old Testament passage spoke to me:

10“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
    “and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
    and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
    nor shall there be any after me.
11 I, I am the Lord,
    and besides me there is no savior.
12 I declared and saved and proclaimed,
    when there was no strange god among you;
    and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.
13 Also henceforth I am he;
    there is none who can deliver from my hand;
    I work, and who can turn it back?”

Trust in him. Believe in Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding about how to follow Christ. It means obedience. Christ saved you. We are children of promise and hope. May He give you hope which is an everlasting anchor for our soul. You can live for Him. You can die for Him. I love you all as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jim Eliott and those other men were willing to live and die for Christ. My mother and father loved Christ first. God gave them the blessing of only 27 months of marriage before my father died. They had given their hearts and minds to Christ.

There are people who have never heard the Gospel. We need to live for Christ. People are living for themselves. It’s not about us. It’s about God. When I was raising my children, I was often discouraged, because my children sinned. I would remember that the Lord called me to be obedient. A parent must teach her children to be obedient. In 1992, after 15 years of marriage, I discovered that Christ’s righteousness covered me, and my godly good works were dust compared to God’s sacrifice.

God bless you.

Thank you.