Monday, February 08, 2016

Monday Music - Powder Blue

The Cactus Blossoms premier a live video version of "Powder Blue" on Rolling Stone Country. This is one of the songs on their new album, You're Dreaming.

Click here to watch the video and read a terrific review.  I just love this song and the video is warm and wonderful. So proud of these boys (including the electric guitar player in the shadows). The upcoming CD release shows next weekend should be fun.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sunday Supplication - To Truly See Christ

O God, you have revealed your grace and truth through Jesus your only-begotten Son. We have seen your glory revealed in his birth, his life, his words, his death, and his resurrection.

Give us the faith to truly see Christ, and by his light, help us to see our own lives and our purpose. Strengthen us to take up our own crosses, to walk in his ways, and to be changed into his likeness from glory to glory.

We are thankful for your forgiveness and we ask that, as you have forgiven us our sins, you would help us to be quick to forgive those who have sinned against us.

We thank you, Father, for the grace and comfort you extend to us. We praise you for being a God of comfort and consolation. Help us to always look to you for the strength and hope needed to face our troubles. Give us eyes to see the hurts of those around us. Give us hearts of compassion, and make us instruments of your peace.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Thursday Thinking - Evangelical Fear

Today I want to direct you to a thought-provoking post on the Missio Alliance website written by Karina Kreminski. She considers the tension between  fear and mission.  Is fear is stopping evangelical Christians from engaging in wholehearted mission?

Breaking through Evangelicalism's Culture of Fear
by Karina Kreminski

A Short Excerpt...
I will often talk with people who are genuinely wrestling with current day issues yet too afraid to publicly share what they are working through for fear that their church, denomination, or Bible College might brand them as heretics. I also see more than a few churches practicing what I would call an unnecessarily constraining form of conservatism as they think about the values and structures of their church and I wonder if this is a fear based reaction.

It may not be, but I think the question needs to be asked. If it is true that there is a culture of fear emerging in Evangelicalism today then the consequences of this are concerning to me.

I wonder if God sends the church prophets who are the oddballs that we never expect and instead of listening to them we marginalize and domesticate their message? Prophets will often work on the fringes of society and as a result their message can be confronting and irritating to our middle class ears. Prophets will always disturb our practice and theology as they embody the radical values of the kingdom of God.

In a climate of fear, however, instead of hearing God’s voice through the strange prophets he send us, we will either reject God’s message or we will try to tame it so that it suits the culture we live in. This is disastrous. It means that instead of following in the footsteps of Jesus as we discern his Spirit today, we will be blindly walking in our own human-made paths.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Wednesday Words - Snow

A heavy snow, and men my age
  all over the city
are having heart attacks in their driveways,

dropping their nice new shovels
  with the ergonomic handles
that finally did them no good.

Gray-headed men who meant no harm,
  who abided by the rules and worked hard
for modest rewards, are slipping

softly from their mortgages,
  falling out of their marriages.
How gracefully they swoon—

that lovely, old-fashioned word—
  from dinner parties, grandkids,
vacations in Florida.

They should have known better
  than to shovel snow at their age.
If only they'd heeded

the sensible advice of their wives
  and hired a snow-removal service.
But there's more to life

than merely being sensible. Sometimes
  a man must take up his shovel
and head out alone into the snow.

"Snow" by George Bilgere from The White Museum, ©Copyright 2010 by George Bilgere.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Tuesday Tome - Triumph of Faith

The Triumph of Faith
by Rodney Stark

This book was recommended to me by a friend. The little brown box with the smiley face showed up on my front step last week. I've read a couple of other books by Stark and have found them to be pretty interesting.

“God is not dead.” —Wall Street Journal
Believe it or not, the world is more religious than ever before.
Everyone seems to take it for granted that the world is getting more secular—that faith is doomed by modernity. Scientists, secularists, and atheists applaud the change; religious believers lament it.

But here’s the thing: they’re all wrong—and the bestselling author and influential scholar of religion Rodney Stark has the numbers to prove it.

The Triumph of Faith explodes the myth that people around the world are abandoning religion. Stark marshals an unprecedented body of data—surveys of more than a million people in 163 nations—to paint the full picture that both scholars and popular commentators have missed. And he explains why the astonishing growth of religion is happening and what it means for our future.
Stark’s bracing book is full of insights that defy the conventional wisdom. With vigorous prose he reveals:
  • Why claims about Millennials’ lack of religion are overblown and historically ignorant
  • Why Islam is NOT overtaking Christianity
  • How 4 out of 5 people worldwide now belong to an organized religion
  • How 50 percent have attended a worship service in the past week
  • Why much-ballyhooed studies from the Pew Research Center and others get the religious landscape wrong
  • Why atheists remain few, anywhere—despite all the talk of the “New Atheism”
As Stark shows, secularists have been predicting the imminent demise of religion for centuries. It is their unshakable faith in secularization that may be the most “irrational” of all beliefs.

As the author of How the West Won, The Victory of Reason, and many other bestselling works, Rodney Stark has a richly deserved reputation for writing page-turning, myth-busting books. He is also a groundbreaking scholar who has so reshaped the social scientific study of religion that his work has become the basis of a “new paradigm.” Stark puts all those talents on full display in The Triumph of Faith.

This book will change how you see both religion and the forces of secularization.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Supplication - To Fulfill Your Purpose

O God, you are our strength. We put our trust in you. We come to you in prayer because you are merciful. We come to you in our weakness because you are gracious and faithful and able to help us do what we could never do on our own. Help us to fulfill your purpose for our lives. Help us to walk in your ways. Help us to please you in our attitudes and our actions.

We confess our sins and ask you to forgive us.  We ask that you would change us and strengthen us. Help us overcome temptation and escape the sins that entangle and destroy us. Give us the grace and generosity we need to forgive others, just as you have forgiven us.

O God, you have fearfully and wonderfully made each one of us. You know the purposes you have for us and you have equipped us to accomplish those purposes. Help us, as we seek you with whole hearts, to discover our gifts and to understand how we can use them to serve you. Give us good things to do and willing heart to do them.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Favorites - Valley Chili Cook-Off

Chili Cook-Off tonight at Valley Christian Church. Good food, fellowship, and fun.
Care Fair and Praise Night all rolled into one event. MORE INFORMATION

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday Thinking - MPR News: Muslim Voices

They are students, activists, welders and artists. They've grown up in Egypt and Yemen and north Minneapolis. They are daughters and brothers and fathers and mothers.

They are members of the world's fastest-growing religion. By 2050, they are projected to make up 2 percent of the U.S. population. In Minnesota, followers of Islam are establishing their place within the state's communities — as leaders and entrepreneurs and innovators — even amid growing tensions from neighbors struggling to adjust to a state whose demographics continue to evolve.

Hear their voices.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday Words - A Prayer among Friends

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn't ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.

"A Prayer among Friends" by John Daniel, from Of Earth: Poems. © Lost Horse Press, 2012.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Tome - The Biggest Story

This is a beautiful book that may not be available for too long. My brother, Joel, introduced me to it a couple months ago. The illustration work is fantastic and the quality of the printing and binding is really nice. The hardback version is on sale right now at Amazon for only $12.82. Look it up and be sure to click on the "Look Inside" link. Mom's and Dad's, this is one for the keepsake bookshelf!!!

Cheri and I just bought a few extra copies to have on hand as gifts for family and friends.

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden
by Kevin DeYoung (Author) and Don Clark (Illustrator)

Publisher's Description...
Once upon a time there lived a man and a woman. They were the happiest people on the planet. True, they were the only people on the planet, but they were still terrifically happy. Unfortunately, things didn’t stay happy and wonderful for long . . .

The Bible is full of exciting stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those classic stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people.

In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.
With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible’s core message—how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden—will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God's promises are even bigger and better than we think.
Ages 5-8 (read to me)
Ages 8-11 (read to myself)