Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday Words - For Love in a Time of Conflict

When the gentleness between you hardens
And you fall out of your belonging with each other,
May the depths you have reached hold you still.

When no true word can be said, or heard,
And you mirror each other in the script of hurt,
When even the silence has become raw and torn,
May you hear again an echo of your first music.

When the weave of affection starts to unravel
And anger begins to sear the ground between you,
Before this weather of grief invites
The black seed of bitterness to find root,
May you souls come to kiss.

Now is the time for one of you to be gracious,
To allow a kindness beyond thought and hurt,
Reach out with sure hands
To take the chalice of your love,
And carry it carefully through this echoless waste
Until this winter pilgrimage leads you
Toward the gateway to spring.

"For Love in a Time of Conflict" by John O'Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us, © Copyright 2008 by John O'Donohue.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Tome - Book Club Starts Monday, Feb. 2

My next book club starts next Monday. I've have posted dates for the three sessions. We will be reading Tim Keller's book, Every Good Endeavor. To view the dates and get more information CLICK HERE.

Thanks to a partnership with MacLaurinCSF at the University of Minnesota, and a grant from the Kern Family Foundation, the books will be free for the first ten participants. If you would like to be a part of this reading group, please let me know and I'll get a book to you so you can start reading.

    Session 1: February 2, 6:30pm -
        Part 1, Chapters 1-4
    Session 2: February 16, 6:30pm -
        Part 2, Chapters 5-8

    Session 3: March 2, 6:30pm -
        Part 3, Chapters 9-12

Book Description from the publisher...
New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller shows how God calls on each of us to express meaning and purpose through our work and careers.

Tim Keller, pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God, has taught and counseled students, young professionals, and senior leaders on the subject of work and calling for more than twenty years. Now he pulls his insights into a thoughtful and practical book for readers everywhere.

With deep conviction and often surprising advice, Keller shows readers that biblical wisdom is immensely relevant to our questions about work today. In fact, the Christian view of work—that we work to serve others, not ourselves—can provide the foundation of a thriving professional and balanced personal life. Keller shows how excellence, integrity, discipline, creativity, and passion in the workplace can help others and even be considered acts of worship—not just of self-interest.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Music - Putting First the Things that Last

I’m putting first the things that last–
I’m putting first the things that last–
I’m putting first the things that last–
I’m putting first the things that last.

Do not store up treasures on earth
Where rust and moth destroy;
Instead make purses that will not wear out–
For where your treasure is
Your heart will also be.

Don’t be afraid, the Father is pleased
To give you His kingdom.
Sell your possessions and give to the poor--
For where your treasure is
Your heart will also be.

I’m putting first the things that last–
I’m putting first the things that last–
I’m putting first the things that last–
I’m putting first the things that last.

"Putting First the Things that Last" by Dave Burkum, © Copyright 2003, from CSF Scripture Songs. CLICK HERE TO BUY OR LISTEN

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Supplication - The Good News

O Lord, help us to answer the call of our Savior Jesus Christ. Help us to seriously and readily seek your will for our lives. Help us, by our words and actions, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to all people. Help us to recognize the salvation he brings and to share that salvation with the world around us.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you give to us through Christ Jesus.  Help us to be forgiving toward each other. And help us to become a redemptive and healing community. Help us to make a saving and healing impact on the world around us.

O God, life is often more than we can face on our own. Help us to navigate our way through our many challenges and conflicts. Help us to live with integrity and care toward others in authentic Christian fellowship. Help my church community to be an instrument of your grace, your truth, and your peace. Make us a blessing to our community and our world.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Smile - "Thought Leaders"

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Favorites - Sarah & Travis Lockwood

I love what my friends, Sarah and Travis, are doing in Hastings. It's a bold and exciting vision that I believe will bless and strengthen the arts in that community. They've got my prayers, admiration, and encouragement. Kudos!

Sarah and Travis Lockwood are turning the former Guardian Angels Church in downtown Hastings into a music conservatory. The old church, built in 1865, will have practice rooms, a large performance space, a lobby area, and artists' studios for visual arts...


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday Thinking - Television and Attention Spans

Slow TV is taking Norway by storm. It's more than a quirky innovation, it's a brilliant concept I hope will catch on in the USA. How can something seemingly so boring turn out to be so exciting?  Watch it and think about it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday Words - Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom

Daily dawns another day;
I must up, to make my way.
Though I dress and drink and eat,
Move my fingers and my feet,
Learn a little, here and there,
Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,
Hear a song, or watch a stage,
Leave some words upon a page,
Claim a foe, or hail a friend—
Bed awaits me at the end.

Though I go in pride and strength,
I'll come back to bed at length.
Though I walk in blinded woe,
Back to bed I'm bound to go.
High my heart, or bowed my head,
All my days but lead to bed.
Up, and out, and on; and then
Ever back to bed again,
Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall—
I'm a fool to rise at all!

"Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom" by Dorothy Parker, from The Poetry & Short Stories of Dorothy Parker. © The Modern Library, 1994.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Tome - Story of Stories

Tomorrow night, we'll be getting started on new book in my Pathways Class at Valley Christian Church. The book is called Story of Stories: A Guided Tour from Genesis to Revelation. The idea is to help people see an overarching narrative that runs through the entire Biblical canon.

For years, the main focus of my Pathways class has been on reading through the Bible and journaling. We set goals for how much to read, how often to read, strive for consistency, and aim for quality and depth of experience as we seek to understand and apply what we have read.

With the start of a new year, I want to see if the literacy gained by reading Story of Stories will help those who haven't read the Bible feel more able to do so. My hope is that by getting a clearer overview of the Scriptures as a whole, they will get more from their personal Bible reading.

From the Publisher's Description:
The Bible contains many of the most memorable stories of all time--the great flood, David and Goliath, the empty tomb. These stories are packed with enough drama to astound and inspire readers on their own. Yet when read as parts of a larger, grander story, each of these stories reveals added depths of artistry and meaning. Still, it is easy to lose sight of how the Bible's narrative threads weave together into one great tapestry.
In Story of Stories readers join Karen Lee-Thorp on a guided tour of Scripture where she retells the Bible's major stories, draws out the significance of overlooked subtleties and shows how individual vignettes contribute to Scripture's overarching story of redemption. Readers will find a renewed appreciation for the breadth and depth of the greatest story ever told. Written with both individuals and groups in mind, this revised and expanded edition includes end-of-chapter reflection questions and a leader's guide for facilitating discussions.
Praise for Story of Stories...
"Karen Lee-Thorp invites the reader into the drama of the biblical story. Her masterful hand guides us to a clear understanding of the flow of the text, and we stand in awe as we see, perhaps for the first time, how the Bible truly is an organic whole with One Author." (Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College)

"Story of Stories is one of the most valuable books I have ever used for helping new Christians grow. As they grapple with the complexities of biblical truth, this book can quickly give them the big picture. Karen Lee-Thorp has conveyed the dramatic plot that flows from Genesis to Revelation with keen insight and wit. I've lost count of how many copies I've given away." (Jim Petersen, associate to the general director of The Navigators)

"Most of our Bible originated in acts of storytelling, but somewhere along the line many of us lose the story line and end up with a file drawer full of doctrines and dates and study notes. But God, in his Scriptures, is first of all a storyteller, elaborating the plot of his saving ways among us and pulling our stories into The Story. Karen Lee-Thorp recovers the story for us." (Eugene H. Peterson, professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College and author of The Message)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Music - Stoplight Kisses

The Cactus Blossoms are currently touring in Europe with J. D. McPherson. I sure wish I could be over there to see one of those shows.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Supplication - The True Light

Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus, is the true light than enlightens all people. Help your church to be illuminated by your Word and Spirit. Help us to shine so brightly with the radiance of Christ's glory that he is known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth.

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. Give us the courage and the grace we need to restore relationships, heal brokenness, sacrifice our rights, and humble ourselves in order that we might experience forgiveness and reconciliation in our families, our friendships, our church, and our community.

Thank you, O God, for the freedom from sin made available to us through Christ. Thank you for the saving and transforming power of your Holy Spirit. Renovate our hearts and minds. Help us to want what you want. Make us people who delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday Smile - Hope this Really Works!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Favorites - Valley's Chili Cook-Off

I'm looking forward to this year's Valley Chili Cook-Off! Cheri and I have several new recipes we're going to be entering into the contest.

There are three categories: Traditional, Hot-Spicy, and Specialty.  I'll be entering my Bloody Mary Chili in the hot-spicy category, and my Minnesota Hotdish Chili in the specialty category. Not sure what Cheri is calling her new chili, but I know it has lots of wonderful bell peppers.

It's only a few weeks away, so mark your calendars. Maybe you should even enter the contest. I hope all you Valley people and friends in the area will be able to join us for fun time. After the meal we'll have some good praise music led by Jonathan Miller and others from the Valley Worship Team.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday Thinking - Neighbors and Terrorism

Tim Gombis teaches New Testament theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He blogs at Faith Improvised where he recently posted about the importance of Christians being committed to loving our Muslim neighbors in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.

For most of us, the situation in France is something we can't do much about. What we do right here in America is a different story. All of us must be careful to consider what we can do in our own lives–our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and marketplaces. How do we love as Christ loves? How will we treat and think about the Muslims in our own communities?

I'm attaching just enough of Tim's article to get you started. I hope you will click the link to read his short but very wise post in its entirety.

Loving our Neighbor in an Age of Terror
by Tim Gombis   

I had an interesting conversation with my son last night about the terrible violence in Paris. Among other things we talked about the increase of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and here in the United States. Life will be increasingly difficult for average Muslims who are law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of France, other European countries, and the U. S.

We wondered aloud about how to be faithfully Christian in a climate of violence, anger, confusion, denunciation, suspicion, and fear. Those are inevitable responses on the part of many citizens to what has happened. But what about Christians who belong to the Kingdom of God? How do we obey Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves?