Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Bring Us Back to You

O God, we are so thankful for your mercy. Please be gracious to us when we go astray from your ways. Bring us back to you. Give us humble hearts and steadfast faith. Teach us to hold fast to the unchangeable truth of your Word. Help us to follow Jesus Christ your Son.

Forgive us our sins. Renew us by your Spirit. Show us how to act, think, and live as Christ. And as you have forgiven us, make us merciful and ready to forgive those who have sinned against us.

Renew us, O Lord, and save us from the things that afflict us. Give us the strength to persevere, and give us hope as we cling to your promises. Forgive us our sins and deliver us from evil.

Make us vessels of your grace in a weary world. And as we are surrounded by so much suffering and hate, we ask you to make us a testimony of your saving and transforming love.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Smile - March Can Be Very Windy

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Favorites - Tyler on Today 
It's good to see Tyler back on the road performing with Mat Kearney.  CLICK HERE to view their Today Show performance from Wednesday, February 25.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday Thinking - Taking Things Literally

There are some things that you just can't understand if you insist on being literal. You weren't born yesterday, right? So you already know that about language. You know I'm not literally talking about your birth date when I say "you weren't born yesterday."

TED Talk manuscripts are translated into 105 different languages by volunteer translators. Idiomatic phrases pose interesting problems for translators. You might understand what someone means when they say "you can't put lipstick on a pig," but how would you say that in Chinese? And even if you do translate it literally, would anyone who speaks Chinese actually understand your meaning?

Every language has idiomatic phrases. TED Talk translators were asked to share some of their favorites in a recent blog post. They were asked to share the phrase, to then translate it literally, and then to explain the non-literal meaning.

Got any idea what any these idiomatic phrases might mean?
Click the link below to see if you're right.

“You have tomatoes on your eyes.”
“There’s no cow on the ice.”
“To slide in on a shrimp sandwich.”
“It fell between chairs.”
“To blow little ducks.”
“The carrots are cooked!”
“The thief has a burning hat.”
“You can sharpen with an ax on top of this head.”
“Pay the duck.”
“It’s a roll with butter.”
“Did you fall from a Christmas tree?”
“Willing to borrow a cat’s paws.”*
“The pussy cat will come to the tiny door.”
“Balls of a swan.”
“To talk about the wolf.”
“Showing water to someone.”
"Buying something for an apple and an egg.”
“A dog with feces scolds a dog with husks of grain.”
“50 steps are similar to 100 steps.”

To see the language of origin and the meaning of these phrases and more, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Words - A Sense of Him

Not merely in the words you say,
Not only in your deeds confessed,
But in the most unconscious way
Is Christ expressed.

Is it a beatific smile,
A holy light upon your brow;
Oh no, I felt His Presence while
You laughed just now.

For me ‘twas not the truth you taught
To you so clear, to me still dim
But when you came to me you brought
A sense of Him.

And from your eyes He beckons me,
And from your heart His love is shed,
Til I lose sight of you and see
The Christ instead.

“Indwelt” by Beatrice Clelland.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday Tome - Home
The next novel on my reading list is Home by Marilynne Robinson. My wife, Cheri, has been reading this book while leading a discussion group on it for MacLaurinCSF at the University of Minnesota. The book is a continuation of the story Robinson began in her novel, Gilead, which Cheri and I both really enjoyed. Cheri tells me that Home has been even more moving and beautiful than Gilead, so I'm really looking forward to getting started this week.

From Publisher's Weekly...
Robinson's beautiful new novel, a companion piece to her Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead, is an elegant variation on the parable of the prodigal son's return. The son is Jack Boughton, one of the eight children of Robert Boughton, the former Gilead, Iowa, pastor, who now, in 1957, is a widowed and dying man.

Jack returns home shortly after his sister, 38-year-old Glory, moves in to nurse their father, and it is through Glory's eyes that we see Jack's drama unfold. When Glory last laid eyes on Jack, she was 16, and he was leaving Gilead with a reputation as a thief and a scoundrel, having just gotten an underage girl pregnant.

By his account, he'd since lived as a vagrant, drunk and jailbird until he fell in with a woman named Della in St. Louis. By degrees, Jack and Glory bond while taking care of their father, but when Jack's letters to Della are returned unopened, Glory has to deal with Jack's relapse into bad habits and the effect it has on their father. In giving an ancient drama of grace and perdition such a strong domestic setup, Robinson stakes a fierce claim to a divine recognition behind the rituals of home.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Music - Things Above

Since you have been raised with Christ,
Set your hearts on things above
Where Christ is seated
At the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things above–
Not on earthly things–
For you died
And your life
Is now hidden with Christ in God.

Set your mind on things above.

"Things Above" by Dave Burkum from "This Is the Testimony," © 2005 by Dave Burkum, lyrics adapted from Colossians 3:1-3. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN OR BUY

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Supplication - When We Face Temptation

Almighty God, we ask you to help us when we face temptation. We remember that Jesus was tempted during the forty days he fasted and prayed in the wilderness, and so we know he understands our weaknesses and temptations. Father God, just as you strengthened Jesus to overcome temptation, we pray that you will strengthen us by your Spirit, that we too might overcome temptation and escape the sins that entangle us.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ.  Help us to extend forgiveness to each other in his name. Help us become a redemptive and healing community. Help us to have a saving and healing influence in our world.

Help us, O Lord, to be in the world as Jesus was in it. Help us to be truly engaged with our world, and yet to be truly different from it. Help us to be instruments of your grace and power.

Where there is hatred, let us bring love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is discord, unity. Where there is doubt, faith.  Where there is darkness light. Lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Smile - Open Minded

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Favorites - Cactus Blossoms on CMT

There's a nice article about the Cactus Blossoms and a video posted on the CMT Americana Blog this week. Those guys just keep getting better and better.  CLICK HERE

The Cactus Blossoms Stick to Brotherly Harmony
The Cactus Blossoms are two brothers — Jack Torrey and Page Burkum – whose blood harmony harkens back to the golden era of the Everly Brothers. Just by coincidence, I first heard them sing at Hymie’s Vintage Records in Minneapolis back in 2011. I was in the Twin Cities on vacation, visiting a friend who frequents the music scene there. She casually mentioned that I might like to go see these guys, since I’m a fan of traditional country. Wisely, I bought their CD as a souvenir — it was a hometown record release party after all – and the disc has been in my car ever since.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday Thinking - Getting Past "Other-izing"

Elizabeth Lesser suggests an idea that might help you understand and humanize others rather than label and dismiss them. She has some good thoughts for us all to consider. When is the last time you took the initiative to love and listen to someone with ideas, beliefs, and opinions very different from your own? When will be the first or next time?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday Words - Remember, You Are Dust

Psalm 90
A prayer of Moses the man of God.

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

3 You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”

4 A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
    they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
    but by evening it is dry and withered.

7 We are consumed by your anger
    and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
    we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
    Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
    your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
    establish the work of our hands for us—
    yes, establish the work of our hands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday Tome - The Seven Big Myths about Marriage

In preparation for our upcoming Valley Married Couples Retreat and spring/summer premarital counseling, I've decided to do a little personal refresher study. I'm reading The Seven Big Myths about Marriage: What Science, Faith, and Philosophy Teach Us about Love and Happiness by Christopher and Jennifer Kaczor.  While the book is written from a Catholic perspective, I think much of the content will serve a much broader Christian perspective. We'll see.

At the very least, I think the book will be thought-provoking. Peter Kreeft, whose books I've enjoyed through the years, had this to say about 7 Myths: "Reading this book is good exercise for your head... If I were a pastor, I would make this book required reading for engaged couples in all my marriage classes."

Table of Contents...
Introduction: Happiness and Identity
1. The First Big Myth: "Love is Simple"
2. The Second Big Myth: "Marriage is a Fifty-Fifty Contract"
3. The Third Big Myth: "Love Alone Makes a Marriage"
4. The Fourth Big Myth: "Cohabitation is Just Like Marriage"
5. The Fifth Big Myth: "Premarital Sex Is No Big Deal"
6. The Sixth Big Myth: "Children Are Irrelevant to Marriage"
7. The Seventh Big Myth: "All Reproductive Choices Are Equal"

The Publisher's Description...
This work explores some of the most interesting and vexing problems in contemporary life. Appealing to reason rather than religious authority, the book tackles the most controversial and talked about positions of the Catholic Church - on contraception, on marriage, on reproductive technologies, on cohabitation, and on divorce - arguing for the reasonableness of the Church's views on these issues.

The book's interdisciplinary approach, following the precedent of Thomas Aquinas, looks to human happiness and fulfillment, properly understood, in seeking the answers to questions about how to live. It aims to show to skeptical readers that what the Catholic Church teaches about controversial issues is rationally justified by considering evidence from psychology, sociology, and philosophy.

The foundation of Kaczor s approach is happiness. We all want to be happy. Every day, in whatever we do, we seek this goal. But what exactly is happiness? And how can we find it? The saints and psychologists agree: there can be no real happiness without authentic love-erotic love, friendship love, and self-giving love (agape).

From this foundation of happiness Kaczor explores the nature of marriage, and the love they promise to each other, which is agape, a self­giving love that is the choice to do good for the other. He also examines alternatives to covenant marriage, such as polygamy and same­sex marriage, as well as cohabitation.

Finally the book explores the value of children. To make sense of Catholic teaching on contraception, he says that we must first reconsider the value of fertility and having children. Only in this perspective, can one begin to understanding what the Church teaches.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Music - Teach Me to Number My Days

Teach me to number my days
That I might present a heart of wisdom.
Teach me to number my days,
Everlasting Father, I pray–
Teach me to number my days.

A thousand years in your sight
Are like a day just gone by,
But I'm like grass at the break of day–
When the evening comes I will fade away–
I'll fly away.

So teach me to number my days
That I might present a heart of wisdom.
Teach me to number my days,
Everlasting Father, I pray–
Teach me to number my days.
Teach me to number my days.

"Teach Me To Number My Days" words and music by Dave Burkum (adapted from Psalm 90) from Songs for the Real World, © Copyright 1992 by Dave Burkum.