Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday Smile - Back to School

It's amazing how things change in 12 years!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Favorites - Jax Cafe

Cheri and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary this week! We had a lovely evening on the town. We tried to get in on the Walker Art Center mini-golf, but there was a line with a 90-minute wait when we got there in the late afternoon. So, instead of mini-golf, we just used the time to enjoy the Walker sculpture garden.

Next, we made our way to Jax Cafe, one of the venerable and iconic restaurants in good old NE Minneapolis. We lived in NE Mpls for years (our kids pretty much grew up there) so we've driven by Jax thousands of times. Unbelievably, though, this was our first time to ever set foot in the place.  We finally got the chance to go and I must say we were not disappointed! Cheri had the squash ravioli and I had the half-rack of BBQ ribs with horseradish mashed potatoes. Delicious!

Jax has great food, a gorgeous old wood-paneled dining room, one of the prettiest and tasteful walled garden dining areas I've seen in Minneapolis, and the service was wonderful.  We'll be back!



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday Thinking - Churches in Ferguson

As the sad story of Ferguson, MO continues to unfold, it's worth considering what Christians and churches in Ferguson are doing. That angle may not be a story that gets front page coverage, but it's certainly worthy of our thoughtful and prayerful attention.

The Christ and Pop Culture blog has a good post that may broaden your perspective and motivate you to pray for those Christians who are striving to live out the gospel in the midst of this challenging crisis. It may also give insight into some ways and whys you and your church can be working for social justice in your own community.

The Other Side of Ferguson: Local Churches Fighting Injustice
Thousands of Americans in over 90 cities have marched in outrage over the seemingly unjust killing of rising college freshman Michael Brown. Many demand justice for a young man who was apparently killed, defenseless, in broad daylight, his body left for hours uncovered on the street. But demonstrators most desire a more far-reaching change.

Meanwhile, similar to most wars—both global and civil—the church has quietly worked from dawn until dusk without much notice from the press. Many of Ferguson’s citizens recognize a narrative missed by the press.
Continue Reading...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Tome - A Poetry Handbook

After years of reading poetry and growing in my appreciation for it, I am now collecting books by poets on the art and craft of writing poetry. I'm starting with those written by poets I especially enjoy.

On a beautiful summer day last week, while sitting beside Flour Lake on the Gunflint Trail, I began reading A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. Her reflection and instruction are both thoughtful and practical. And though the subtitle for the book is A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry, her prose is so lovely to read aloud that often (much to my delight)  it approaches the quality and grace of her poetry.

"Poetry is a river; many voices travel in it; poem after poem moves along in the exciting crests and falls of the river waves. None is timeless; each arrives in an historical context; almost everything, in the end, passes. But the desire to make a poem, and the world's willingness to receive it––indeed the world's need of it––these never pass."  [A Poetry Handbook, Chapter 1, p.9]

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Music - The River

Rolling river-
Your arms around a loved one who lies sleeping.
Living water-
The sound of baby's laughter, and a promise you've been keeping.
Currents moving through your being;
Flooding you with reasons to be.

It's flowing down from the hand of my Father.
And its streams abound in all that's beautiful and true.
And it's time you found the pure and crystalline headwaters
Of the river that runs in you;
The river that runs in you.

Rolling river-
A selfless act of kindness toward your neighbor.
Living water-
The joy of loyal friendship, and the fruit of honest labor.
A silver ribbon in the moonlight;
A golden strand that shimmers through your days.

It's flowing down from the hand of my Father.
And its streams abound in all that's beautiful and true.
And it's time you found the pure and crystalline headwaters
Of the river that runs in you;
The river that runs in you.

Rolling river-
The tears you shed when someone else is aching.
Living water-
The time you take to listen, and a sacrifice you're making.
Through the depths of your fulfillment,
Dancing down the rapids of your dreams.

It's flowing down from the hand of my Father.
And its streams abound in all that's beautiful and true.
And it's time you found the pure and crystalline headwaters
Of the river that runs in you;
The river that runs in you.

"The River," words and music by Dave Burkum, from, So Far to Go.
© Copyright 1994 by Dave Burkum (

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Reaching Across Barriers

O God, we are so thankful for your mercy and love. We thank you for your Son, Jesus, and for the life and salvation he has made possible for us. Help us, as part of your Church, to be a living demonstration of your power to save and transform and renew. Make us a true community of grace.

Forgive us our sins. Help us to turn away from darkness and to love the light. Make us willing and able to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Help us to think, speak, and act in ways that restore lives, nurture relationships, create peace, and bring honor to you.

Thank you, Lord God, for Jesus, who did not regard equality with You a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself and became a servant. Help us, like him, to reach across barriers, to welcome the weak, to serve, and to look to the interests of others.

It’s in His name that we pray all these things. Amen.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Smile - Angler Perspectives

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Favorites - Gunflint Trail

If all is going according to plan, this is where I will be when the Friday Favorite post publishes on August 15. I've scheduled a few enjoyable days of fishing and friendship building with a couple guys from church. Prayers for safety and good weather are appreciated!

 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Golden Eagle Lodge is a family oriented, year round resort. Located on Flour Lake in Northeastern Minnesota on the historic Gunflint Trail, they are surrounded by the beautiful Superior National Forest. As the only residents on the lake, you can look forward to quiet and solitude. They offer modern, housekeeping cabins that feature a fully equipped kitchen, microwave, modern bathroom, and more. This four season resort offers incredible activities, including cross country skiing, canoeing, and fishing! An unforgettable time awaits!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday Thinking - Russell Brand on Robin Williams

Russell Brand's posted a thoughtful reflection on Robin Williams' suicide in The Guardian. Insightful, provoking, and meaningful!

Below is the linked title and subtitle with a few excerpts. I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Russell Brand: Robin Williams’ divine madness will no longer disrupt the sadness of the world
The manic energy of Williams could turn to destruction as easily as creativity. Is it melancholy to think that a world that he can’t live in must be broken?
Is it melancholy to think that a world that Robin Williams can’t live in must be broken? To tie this sad event to the overarching misery of our times? No academic would co-sign a theory in which the tumult of our fractured and unhappy planet is causing the inherently hilarious to end their lives, though I did read that suicide among the middle-aged increased inexplicably in 1999 and has been rising ever since. Is it a condition of our era?

...millions of strangers the world over held him in their hearts, a hilarious stranger that we could rely on to anarchically interrupt, the all-encompassing sadness of the world. Today Robin Williams is part of the sad narrative that we used to turn to him to disrupt. fragile we all are, how delicate we are, even when fizzing with divine madness that seems like it will never expire.
CLICK HERE to read the entire article.

Similar reflections from Mr. Brand are posted in this video...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday Words - Therefore Will I Trust You

My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.

– Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Tome - O, What a Luxury

I'm enjoying this volume of light verse from Garrison Keillor. O, What  Luxury is Keillor's first collection of original poetry.  Many of the poems, I suspect, were originally song parodies written for the Prairie Home Companion radio show. I'll admit to preferring earlier drafts of some of the poems which previously appeared on Keillor's The Writer's Almanac radio show and blog under the pseudonym, Ramon Montaigne.

Here's a short exerpt from "Doxology"...

O Lord, please bless our old state fair
The riders whirling in the air,
The ladies who have baked the pies,
Competing for the First Grand Prize.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
The rodeo and talent show.
Praise Him for sugar and for grease,
And may He grant our stomachs peace.

From Booklist
Half the “Masters of the House” (of light verse) to whom Keillor dedicates this collection—Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Roger Miller—are great song lyricists, and Ogden Nash wrote, albeit as a sideline, rhymes for Kurt Weill, among others. Keillor has sung plenty of those bards’ works on A Prairie Home Companion; his guests on the show, more. Unsurprisingly, then, music permeates his comic verse, contributing the melody the words sometimes lack (Ira or Cole he ain’t quite, as he might admit). It’s full of out-and-out song parodies, such as “Home on the Plains (instead of ‘Range’),” “Nikolina” (same title as, wryer story than the Swedish American vaudeville standard of the same name), “Dark (not ‘Blue’) Skies,” and cleverest, perhaps, “Episcopalian,” to be sung to “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Besides tunefulness, formal variety abounds. Keillor writes excellent limericks, most not dirty, and while he wisely never essays Nash’s trademark, wildly irregular couplets, he often loosens meter to the point of blowsiness. As in his best-selling fiction, the subject matter is the (very funny) stuff of the lumpen-bourgeois blues. --Ray Olson

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Music - Superior Horizon

Old 61 I can feel your North Shore callin' I can feel you callin'
I feel you callin'.
I can smell the pines;
I can hear the Cascade fallin'.
Can’t you hear it fallin'?
The Cascade is fallin’—
Superior Horizon.
The Morning Star is risin'
On Superior Horizon.

Down along Split Rock the big waves are poundin'.
The big waves are poundin'—
They just keep on poundin'.
Back in the Boundaries the magic loon is soundin'.
Can’t you hear it sounding?
The magic loon is soundin'—
Superior Horizon.
The golden sun is shinin'
On Superior Horizon.

Let my eyes rest easy in your northern light;
Let me fill my lungs with misty morning;
Let me find my spirit in the sea bird's flight
Soaring over the horizon—
Superior Horizon.

Give a j-stroke push out across the glassy Gunflint—
Glidin’ on the Gunflint, the glassy Gunflint.
Walk a woodland mile where the Devil Track is runnin’.
Can’t you hear it runnin’?
The Devil Track is runnin’.
Superior Horizon—
The silver moon is smilin’
On Superior Horizon.

Let my eyes rest easy in your northern light;
Let me fill my lungs with misty morning;
Let me find my spirit in the sea bird's flight
Soaring over the horizon—
Superior Horizon.

Words and Music by Dave Burkum. From BREATH A LITTLE DEEPER, © Copyright 1994 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Merciful Savior

Almighty God, you have sent your only Son into the world to save us from sin and death. We thank you for his sinless life, his selfless sacrifice, and his example of godly life. Give us the wisdom to take hold of all Jesus has so freely given. Thank you for his redeeming work in our lives and in our world. Help us to follow daily in his steps.

Forgive us and help us to turn away from wrong.  Transform us and give us the faith to press toward life, healing, restoration, holiness, and good deeds.  You are so gracious to us, and we ask you to make us able and quick to be gracious and forgiving toward others.

You have shown mercy to us, O God. Give us the attitude of Christ Jesus that we might be a testimony of your grace and instruments of your mercy to everyone around us. 

We pray in the name of Jesus, our merciful Savior. Amen.