Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tuesday Tome - Surprise the World

I've been reading this little book and discussing each chapter with a friend from church. It's a gem and gives practical advice on positive ways Christians can engage with the people around them. I've decided to use it as a springboard and companion book for my next teaching series – "Your Surprising Life" – that will begin in September. Beyond the inspiration to live out and share our faith, the goal of this book and my teaching series will be to give our church community some measurable and practical strategies for doing so.

Surprise the World
by Michael Frost

Christianity is a surprising religion. It has changed the world in remarkable ways throughout history simply through Christians living out their faith. More recently, we’ve become afraid of a habituated Christianity, thinking that routines will rob our faith of its vitality. The net effect is that we’ve replaced the habits that surprise the world with habits that mimic the world―and both we and the world suffer for it.

Integrating the five habits in the BELLS model―Bless others, Eat together, Listen to the Spirit, Learn Christ, and understand yourself as Sent by God into others’ lives―will help you spread the gospel organically, graciously, and surprisingly.

Michael Frost, a world-renowned expert on evangelism and discipleship, makes evangelism a lifestyle that is fulfilling, exciting, effective, and easy to live out!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Music - Steve Earle: Tiny Desk Concert

Steve Earle has lived through the sort of horrors that have launched a million country songs: addiction, affliction, heartbreak, even prison. He wears them in his voice, but what's most appealing about him is the wide-eyed, unmistakable fearlessness with which he goes about his life these days. The singer, author, actor and activist showcases many of his talents at the NPR Music offices.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Supplication - Wisdom to Take Hold

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.

We look to you for forgiveness and ask you to help us 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.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday Thinking - What Get in the Way

What is the point of life? What is the point of it all? What is the highest good for being human?

In this short video excerpt, Greg Boyd explains that the Christian answer to those questions is for us humans to enjoy loving God and for God to enjoy and love us. This is the Christian vision of the blessed life. But of course there are some basic things that stand in the way of this ultimate goal.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday Words - The Vacation

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.

“The Vacation” by Wendell Berry from Entries, Copyright ©2012 by Wendell Berry.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday Tome - The Jesus Way

I'm currently enjoying this book by Eugene Peterson. Some good ideas that dovetail with my current teaching series at Valley Christian Church.

by Eugene Peterson

Publisher's description...
The Jesus Way ― part of Eugene Peterson’s meaty "conversations" on spiritual theology

A way of sacrifice. A way of failure. A way on the margins. A way of holiness. In The Jesus Way Eugene Peterson shows how the ways of those who came before Christ ― Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, and Isaiah ― revealed and prepared the "way of the Lord" that became incarnate and complete in Jesus. Further, Peterson calls into question common “ways” followed by the contemporary American church, showing in stark relief how what we have chosen to focus on ― consumerism, celebrity, charisma, and so forth ― obliterates what is unique in the Jesus way.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Music - The Cactus Blossoms on Tour

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The Cactus Blossoms had a short window to join us at the Gladden House on the third day of the Nelsonville Music Festival, having two other performances on site that day. Jack Torrey and Page Burkum were joined by Chris Heipola on drums and Andy Carroll on bass. The session was focused on performances only, and those in attendance were treated to a delightful set of well-honed originals and a cover.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Supplication - Renew Us

O Lord, we praise you and ask that by your Holy Spirit you would shape our hearts and minds to think and do what is right. Provide for our needs and preserve our lives. Make us able to delight in your will and walk in your ways.

Thank you for forgiveness and help us turn away from sin. 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 others.

Give us the courage and the grace we need to restore relationships, heal brokenness, sacrifice our rights, and humbly consider the needs of others.

Save and protect us, O God, from the things that threaten to consume and destroy us. Help us to look faithfully to you in all circumstances. Thank you for Jesus, our Lord, who for our sake and our salvation came down from heaven. Help us to love you with heart, soul, mind and strength.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday Thinking - How Big Should a Church Be?

The Church and Dunbar’s Number
By Howard Snyder - July 1, 2017 · Seedbed.com

How large should your church be?

Silly question, you say. Depending on your theology or worldview, you might add:

- Large as possible! Bigger is better!
- That’s up to God!
- I’m shooting for 1,000 (or 2,000, or 3,000, or whatever).
- I like small and intimate!

Here’s a better answer: A congregation should be large enough to fulfill all the essential functions of Christ’s body—and small enough to really function as body of Christ.

So we might take a quick look at “Dunbar’s Number,” which happens to be 150.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday Words - The Farm

My father’s farm is an apple blossomer.
He keeps his hills in dandelion carpet
and weaves a lane of lilacs between the rose
and the jack-in-the-pulpits.
His sleek cows ripple in the pastures.
The dog and purple iris
keep watch at the garden’s end.

His farm is rolling thunder,
a lightning bolt on the horizon.
His crops suck rain from the sky
and swallow the smoldering sun.
His fields are oceans of heat,
where waves of gold
beat the burning shore.

A red fox
pauses under the birch trees,
a shadow is in the river’s bend.
When the hawk circles the land,
my father’s grainfields whirl beneath it.
Owls gather together to sing in his woods,
and the deer run his golden meadow.

My father’s farm is an icicle,
a hillside of white powder.
He parts the snowy sea,
and smooths away the valleys.
He cultivates his rows of starlight
and drags the crescent moon
through dark unfurrowed fields.

"The Farm" byJoyce Sutphen from Straight Out of View (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Joyce Sutphen.