Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thursday Thinking - Brené Brown on Blame

CLICK HERE to view a fun animation of an excerpt from a Brené Brown talk on the subject of blame. For a link for the actual talk this was taken from, CLICK HERE. Dr. Brené Brown tackles the myth that vulnerability is a weakness. Instead, she argues, it is the clearest path to courage and meaningful connection, and has the power to transform the way we engage and educate.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday Words - The Minor Prophets

     None of the minor prophets
knew that he was minor, of course. Habakkuk, I imagine,
     thought that his visions earned him
standing as Ezekiel's peer, if not indeed Elijah's.
     Then there was Obadiah,
who could be forgiven if he thought he might be a Moses.
     How they would be remembered
Providence concealed from them all, though they could see the future.

     Maybe it doesn't matter.
If you're on a mission from God, sent to rebuke a city
     or to redeem a nation,
where by canon-makers you're ranked may be inconsequential.
     Nor is the voice within you
any less authentic for not having a distant echo.
     Seers of the world, be heartened.
Even minor prophets can have genuine revelations.

"The Minor Prophets" by Michael Lind, from Parallel Lives. © Etruscan Press, 2008.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday Tome - Praying with the Church

Later this summer I will be presenting a teaching series I'm calling "Praying with Jesus." One of the books I'm reading in preparation for that series is Praying with the Church by Scot McKnight. I'm especially interested in some of the insights McKnight gives on the prayer practices common among devout Jews during the time of Jesus.

Here is a brief excerpt from pages 51-53...
What we find in the sacred rhythm and sacred prayer tradition of Israel is the wise recitation of those passages in the Bible most central to spirituality, passages we need to be reminded of daily because of their importance for how we are to conduct ourselves before God and with others. The reason psalms are repeated in the sacred rhythm of prayer is that they continue to teach us how to pray; the reason Shema is repeated so often is that it summons us to the central orientation of our heart: to love God with every molecule we can muster.

Jesus was spiritually nurtured by pious parents in a world where the sacred rhythm of prayer shaped spiritual formation. Jesus didn't adopt that rhythm without reflection or alteration. One might say that Jesus actually re-shaped the sacred rhythmical prayer practices of his world so that they would reflect his own kingdom mission.
Jesus as a pious Jew prayed both spontaneously and with others. In pausing throughout the day, he reminded himself daily of the importance of loving God by reciting the Shema, perhaps the Ten Commandments, and probably the Amidah.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday Music - One Lord, One Body

If player does not appear, Click Here

I need you, and you need me–
That’s the way it is in God’s family.
If you’re doing well, you’ll be my friend and guide;
If you need a hand, I’ll be at your side.
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body

And when I fall, you pick me up.
When I’m thirsty, you can fill my cup.
If you win, then it’s my gain-
If you’re hurting, I will share your pain.
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body

When you’re weighed down, I will share the load.
If you’re ever lost, I’ll help you find the road.
When I’m tempted, remind me what is right.
When I’m weary, please help me fight the fight.
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body

Together we’ll carry the light--
Shining like the stars in the heavens.
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body

"One Lord, One Body" by Dave Burkum from the album, Fireside.  © Copyright 2006 by Dave Burkum (

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Your Light and Presence

O God, on this Pentecost Sunday, we thank you for the light and presence of your Holy Spirit. We ask that by the power and grace of your Holy Spirit you would lead us, teach us, and transform us so that we might delight in your Word, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name.

We confess our sin and ask you to forgive us.  And beyond forgiveness, we ask that you would change us and strengthen us that we might overcome temptation and escape the sins that entangle and diminish us. We also ask for the grace and generosity to forgive others, even as you have forgiven us.

Help us, O God, to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And help us to love our neighbors  as ourselves. Help us to follow Christ's selfless example, watching for the needs of others, and doing what we can to meet those needs. Help us to use every good gift you have given us to bless and encourage others.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Favorites - Como Dockside

I'll soon be checking out, Como Dockside, the new restaurant opening at the Como Park Pavillion in St. Paul. The owners also operate Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul and the 331 Club in Minneapolis, so they have a proven track record. They say they hope to appeal to young adults and serve up a menu with a New Orleans theme. Other features will include bocce ball, kayaks, a new outdoor performance area, dining space on the water, and a 30-foot electric dining boat.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thursday Thinking - The Far Shore of Aging

Earlier this week (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings), I have been speaking at Risen Son Christian Village in Council Bluffs, IA, where my parents live. I found it to be quite a challenge. I didn't want to be merely nostalgic or sentimental in my approach. I wanted to honor my audience by engaging some of the real issues they are going through and encouraging them during these tiring and difficult end-of-life years.

Krista Tippet's recent interview with Jane Gross was especially well-timed for me. For one thing, it gave me much to think about as I tried to share something meaningful with my elderly audience at RSCV.  But I also connected with the content of the interview in a more personal way as I am one of the growing number of baby boomers trying to help their parents navigate their final years. These are the years Jane Gross calls the "prolonged season of in-between" – that extended period of decline and dependence more and more people are experiencing these days.

Jane Gross is the creator of "The New Old Age" blog at The New York Times and author of A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents — and Ourselves. In her book, Gross shares insights from her own challenging experiences as caretaker for her failing 85 year old mother.

Krista Tippett interviews Jane Gross

It is a story of our time — the new landscape of living longer, and of dying more slowly too. Jane Gross has explored this as a daughter and as a journalist, and as creator of the New York Times’ “New Old Age” blog. She has grounded advice and practical wisdom about caring for our loved ones and ourselves on the far shore of aging.

Listen or Download / Transcript / Additional Resources

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday Words - The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

"The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry, from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, © Copyright 1998.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday Tomes - The Road to Character

As I posted last week, I'm currently reading David Brooks' new book, The Road to Character. I'm planning to use this book as a selection for a reading group in September. What follows is an excerpt from Chapter 1 - "The Shift."

...The self--effacing person is soothing and gracious, while the self--promoting person is fragile and jarring. Humility is freedom from the need to prove you are superior all the time, but egotism is a ravenous hunger in a small space—-self--concerned, competitive, and distinction--hungry. Humility is infused with lovely emotions like admiration, companionship, and gratitude. “Thankfulness,” the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, said, “is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.”

There is something intellectually impressive about that sort of humility, too. We have, the psychologist Daniel Kahneman writes, an “almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance." Humility is the awareness that there’s a lot you don’t know and that a lot of what you think you know is distorted or wrong.

This is the way humility leads to wisdom. Montaigne once wrote, “We can be knowledgeable with other men’s knowledge, but we can’t be wise with other men’s wisdom.” That’s because wisdom isn’t a body of information. It’s the moral quality of knowing what you don’t know and figuring out a way to handle your ignorance, uncertainty, and limitation.

The people we think are wise have, to some degree, overcome the biases and overconfident tendencies that are infused in our nature. In its most complete meaning, intellectual humility is accurate self--awareness from a distance. It is moving over the course of one’s life from the adolescent’s close--up view of yourself, in which you fill the whole canvas, to a landscape view in which you see, from a wider perspective, your strengths and weaknesses, your connections and dependencies, and the role you play in a larger story.

Monday, May 18, 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, May 17, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Honesty & Humility

Almighty God, we give you thanks for the everlasting life we find in you. Help us to recognize your son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life. Make us able to follow his steps and to walk in his ways to the glory of your name.

Lead us away from temptation. Free us from selfishness and pride. Give us the honesty and humility to recognize our need for your grace and mercy. Forgive us our sins and make us ready to forgive others.

O God, you are faithful to your promises. Help us to remember your promises and cling to the hope we have in you.

Surround us with Christian friends who can encourage us and push us toward righteousness. Help each of us to be a source of encouragement and prompting for one another.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.