Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Tuesday Tomes - Read More about It

Three books that would make good reading companions for my current teaching series at Valley Christian Church. Check them out.

Who You Are When No One's Looking
by Bill Hybels

Publisher's Description...
"When I listen to the evening news or read the morning paper these days my reaction is always the same: what's wrong in our world will not be set right until people who love God and who refuse to cave to these overwhelming challenges put the things they believe into action, things like courage and discipline and love." Bill Hybels

Who You Are When No One's Looking has pointed the way to godly character for more than twenty years. Now Bill Hybels's essential book is completely revised and updated, featuring a new introduction, a new concluding chapter ("World-Change: When Character Counts Most") and a discussion guide for groups. Read this book to discover who God is calling you to be in the world around you.

After You Believe
by N. T. Wright

Publisher's Description...
Wright dispels the common misconception that Christian living is nothing more than a checklist of dos and don'ts. Nor is it a prescription to "follow your heart" wherever it may lead. Instead, After You Believe reveals the Bible's call for a revolution—a transformation of character that takes us beyond our earthly pursuit of money, sex, and power into a virtuous state of living that allows us to reflect God and live more worshipful, fulfilling lives.

We are all spiritual seekers, intuitively knowing there is more to life than we suspect. This is a book for anyone who is hoping there is something more while we're here on Earth. There is. We are being called to join the revolution, and Wright insightfully encourages readers to find new purpose and clarity by taking us on an eye-opening journey through key biblical passages that promise to radically alter the work of the church and the direction of our lives.

The Road to Character
by David Brooks

Publisher's Description...
Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the need to suppress parts of herself so that she could be an instrument in a larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion of the poor, learned as a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender. Civil rights pioneers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin learned reticence and the logic of self-discipline, the need to distrust oneself even while waging a noble crusade.

Blending psychology, politics, spirituality, and confessional, The Road to Character provides an opportunity for us to rethink our priorities, and strive to build rich inner lives marked by humility and moral depth.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Monday Music - I Press On


I press on to take hold of that
For which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
I press on to take hold of that
For which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

I press on through thick & thin
I press on every day
I press on through the lose & win
For I know He's the Way

I press on to take hold of that
For which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

"I Press On" by Dave Burkum (based on Philippians 3:12), from Fireside: Worship & Scripture Songs, © Copyright 2006 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Our Hope Is in You

Dear Lord, we pray that your grace will always direct us and go before us and follow us in all we are, in all we say, and in all we do. We pray that your grace will shape and motivate us that we may continually be given to good works.

Father God, we humbly recognize our need for forgiveness and restoration. In our weakness and selfishness, we often fail each other, fail ourselves, and fail you. 

We also recognize the hope and power we have in Christ.  Raise us and transform us by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Forgive us our sins, and make us ready and able and quick to forgive others, even as you forgive us.

Lead us into truth, O God. Show us your ways. Teach us to follow your lead. Help us to turn away from what is wrong and to do what is right. Our hope is in you all day long. Help us to be faithful followers of Jesus and help us to become more like him each day.

It's in his name that we pray. Amen.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Friday Favorites - Jeremy Denk and the SPCO

It was a joy to hear Jeremy Denk performing with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra on September 18. I especially appreciated the performance of Bach's Concerto No. 4 in A for Piano and Strings (BWV 1055). It was a wonderful evening – the pianist, the orchestra, and the new Ordway Concert Hall were all just brilliant!

I went online the next day to see if a recording of Denk playing that concerto was available, but couldn't find one. I did, however, find and purchase a new recording of him performing Bach's Goldberg Variations.

I am so pleased that Jeremy Denk is currently of the SPCO's artistic partners, and I look forward to upcoming concerts with him. Read more about him HERE.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Words - September

 The breezes taste
of apple peel.
The air is full
of smells to feel-

Ripe fruit, old footballs,
burning brush,
new books, erasers,
chalk, and such.

The bee, his hive,
well-honeyed hums,
and Mother cuts

Like plates washed clean
with suds, the days
are polished with
a morning haze.

"September" by John Updike, from A Child's Calendar, © Copyright 1965.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Tome - The Church and the Kingdom

Originally presented as an address to the congregation of Notre Dame in 2009, Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben's The Church and the Kingdom is a challenge for the church to consider its identity and being in relationship with its messianic hope. My thanks to Jordan Peacock for introducing me to Agamben and recommending this provocative little book.

"The time of the messiah cannot designate a chronological period or duration but, instead, must represent nothing less than a qualitative change in how time is experienced. For this reason it is inconceivable to speak of a chronological delay in this context as though one were speaking of a train being delayed. Because there is not place in messianic time for a fixed and final habitation, there is no time for delay." pp. 4-5

"Living in this time, experiencing this time, is thus not something that the Church can choose, or choose not, to do. It is only in this time that there is a Church at all.

"Where do we find such an experience of time in today's Church? That is the question that I have come, here and now, to pose to the Church of Christ sojourning in Paris. An evocation of final things, of ultimate things, has so completely disappeared from the statements of the Church that it has been said, not without irony, that the Roman Church has closed its eschatological window. And it is with more bitter irony still that a French theologian has remarked that, 'Christ announced the coming of the Kingdom, and what arrived was the Church.' This is a disquieting declaration, but one which merits reflection." pp. 26-27

"...The church can be a living institution only on the condition that it maintains an immediate relation to its end. And –– a point which we would do well not to forget –– according to Christian theology there is only one legal institution which knows neither interruption nore end: hell. The model of contemporary politics––which pretends to an infinite economy of the world––is thus truly infernal. And if the Church curtails its original relation with the paroikia, it cannot be lose itself in time." p.41

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Music - Morning by Morning


The Sovereign Lord has
given me an instructed tongue
to know the word that sustains the weary.

The Sovereign Lord has
given me an instructed tongue
to know the word that sustains the weary.

He wakens me
morning by morning–
wakens my ear to listen.

He wakens me
morning by morning–
wakens my ear to listen
like one being taught.

"Morning by Morning" from Fireside, words (adapted from Isaiah 50:4) and music by Dave Burkum, © Copyright 2006 by Dave Burkum. Listen or Buy.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Courage to Stand

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear us than we are to pray. Your readiness to provide for our needs is greater than our readiness to live for your glory. You remove our fears, you graciously bless us, and you draw us into fellowship with you through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Thank you for your promise to forgive and purify us. Thank you for being the one who saves. Forgive us our sins. Renew us by your Spirit. Show us how to act, think, and live as Christ.  As you have forgiven us, make us merciful and ready to forgive those who have sinned against us.

O God, when we are afraid, help us to be still and put our trust in you. When we feel like running in the face of challenges and obstacles, give us the courage to stand firm. Be our help, our shelter, and our deliverer.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Saturday Smile - Sage Berra

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

"You can observe a lot by just watching."

"It ain’t over till it’s over."

"It’s like déjà vu all over again."

"No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded."

"Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical."

"A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore."

"Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours."

"You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you."

"Never answer an anonymous letter."

"The future ain’t what it used to be."

"It gets late early out here."

"If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thursday Thinking - The Heavens


PSALM 19:1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
Night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words;
No sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
Their words to the ends of the world.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday Words - The Sun

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone--
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance--
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love--
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world--

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

“The Sun” by Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems, Volume One, © Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.