Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Change and Strengthen Us

O Lord God, we recognize your power and might. We believe you are the author and giver of all good things.  By your grace and mercy, place in our hearts a deep and true love for you. Help us to follow Jesus. Nourish us with all goodness. And help us to bear the fruit of good works as your Spirit does your transforming work in us.

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.

We thank you, O God, for saving and reaching out to us. Thank you for being a God of deliverance. Help us to embrace the calling we have in Christ and to find our purpose and fulfillment in him.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Smile - Too True

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites - Östen Lowe

My grandson, Östen Lowe Burkum, has inspired an art installation in Melbourne, Australia. I'd say that's gotta be my favorite news story of the week.  It sure would be fun if we could get over there to see it. Hopefully there will be pictures or, better yet, another future show in the USA.

http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/ARTPLAY/WHATSON/Pages/5to8years.aspx#tiny

The Boy Who Loved Tiny Things (installation theatre) 
Artist: The Seam, Drop Bear Theatre and Zoë Barry

Do you have a favourite tiny thing?

Using clay and illustration, storytelling, magnifying glasses, projection and mirrors, come and investigate the secrets and stories that precious little objects hold. You will invent magical tiny objects through sculpture, projection and lighting.

Parents and grandparents - you can recreate your favourite, precious things, share your stories and create new ones together with your child or grandchild. Part treasure hunt, part storytelling theatre, part museum, become a scientist of the imagination, as you create a fantastical museum of tiny things.

These workshops are part of the development of a new theatre performance called The Boy Who Loved Tiny Things - your involvement in the workshop will help create the show. The work is inspired by and will be co-directed by Östen Burkum, the original Boy Who Loved Tiny Things. Östen is 9 years old and lives in Minnesota, USA.

This workshop is part of the ArtPlay New Ideas Lab program where artists are supported to develop new work for children and families.

Age: 7 to 10 years
Dates and times: Sunday 26 October, 10.30am to 12.30pm; 2pm to 4pm and Sunday 9 November, 2pm to 4pm
Cost: $15 per child 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday Thinking - About Communion


The current issue of Christianity Today magazine has a nice piece about the Christian practice of communion–The Lord's Table. He covers a lot of ground in a small number of pages. I think you'll find some excellent food for thought––insights, reminders, meanings, and challenges––on this often misunderstood and potentially divisive meal Jesus gave us.

Table Manners: Why We Take Communion Every Week
At the Communion Table, we grasp the grace of God 
and our need for each other.
John H. Armstrong
Christianity Today / September 12, 2014

I attended church twice a week growing up. I had no choice. It’s not that I disliked church. But like many children, I struggled to understand much of what went on. Easily growing bored, I found ways to entertain myself. I doodled on the bulletin and occasionally timed the pastor’s sermon. I counted the overhead lights, wall panels, and segments in the stained glass windows. While I occupied myself with trivial activities, two details caught my attention: the baptismal pool situated above the choir loft behind the pulpit, and the white table at the center-front of the sanctuary, etched with the words, do this in remembrance of me. Something about the white table got me thinking: Why do we eat bread and wine at the table every few months? And who can eat it?

My church celebrated the Lord’s Supper (also known as Communion or the Eucharist) four times a year. I remember asking why we celebrated it so infrequently. The answer I got never satisfied, and it still doesn’t: “If we do this very often, it will lose its meaning.” Precociously I thought, It doesn’t seem to mean much to us anyway, so why worry about it losing any more meaning? As I grew older, I discovered some churches took the meal weekly. I was then even more dissatisfied with the answer I had received...

GO TO THE CHRISTIANITY TODAY WEBSITE FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Words - Porch Swing in September

The porch swing hangs fixed in a morning sun that
bleaches its gray slats, its flowered cushion
whose flowers have faded, like those of summer,
and a small brown spider has hung out her web
on a line between porch post and chain
so that no one may swing without breaking it.
She is saying it's time that the swinging were done with,
time that the creaking and pinging and popping
that sang through the ceiling were past,
time now for the soft vibrations of moths,
the wasp tapping each board for an entrance,
the cool dewdrops to brush from her work
every morning, one world at a time.

"Porch Swing in September" by Ted Kooser, from Flying at Night

© University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Tomes - Valley Book Clubs

We're offering book clubs at Valley Christian Church this fall. Brad Dewing will be leading a ten-session discussion group for The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. That group begins on Wednesday, September 27.

I will be leading a three-session discussion group on John Ortberg's book, Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them. This book is a good companion to my fall teaching series. 

CLICK HERE for complete information about these book clubs. Thanks.

The Divine Conspiracy has revolutionized how we think about the true meaning of discipleship. In this classic, one of the most brilliant Christian thinkers of our times and author of the acclaimed The Spirit of Disciplines, Dallas Willard, skillfully weaves together biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice, revealing what it means to "apprentice" ourselves to Jesus. Using Jesus’s Sermon of the Mount as his foundation, Willard masterfully explores life-changing ways to experience and be guided by God on a daily basis, resulting in a more authentic and dynamic faith.

In Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them, teacher and bestselling author John Ortberg zooms in on the things that make community tick. You’ll get a thought-provoking look at God’s heart, at others, and at yourself. Even better, you’ll gain wisdom and tools for drawing closer to others in powerful, impactful ways. With humor, insight, and a gift for storytelling, Ortberg shows how community pays tremendous dividends in happiness, health, support, and growth. It’s where all of us weird, unwieldy people encounter God’s love in tangible ways and discover the transforming power of being loved, accepted, and valued just the way we are.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Music - One Lord, One Body



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" words & music by Dave Burkum from the album, Fireside.  © Copyright 2006 by Dave Burkum (burkum.com).

http://www.valleycc.org/sermon-series-info.html

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Supplication - See Us Through

O Lord, help us to not to be stressed out over earthly troubles, but, instead trust that you will see us through. Even now, as we live among things that are passing away, help us to hold on to the things that last forever.

We confess our sins and we thank you for your faithfulness to forgive us and purify us. And as your grateful children, teach us and help us to be faithful to forgive others. May the grace of Jesus help us restore relationships, heal wounds, calm fears, forgive offenses, and resolve conflicts.

Help us, O God, to find our life and meaning and purpose in Jesus. We desire to surrender to him more and more. Give us the wisdom and the will to submit ourselves to you as we follow Him.

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

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday Smile - Light as a Feather

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Favorites - The Open Door

One of my happy discoveries of the year has been The Open Door food pantry. They are committed to ending local hunger and have distribution centers in Eagan and Lakeville. They also have a mobile food shelf that delivers in Apple Valley. I'm happy to say that Valley Christian Church is one of their new support and service partners.

I'm excited about their upcoming OctoberZest event. It's a great opportunity to have fun while learning more about their work and getting on board with support.

OCTOBERZEST!
Sunday, Oct 5, 2014  •  6 pm–9:30 pm
Lost Spur Golf and Event Center​
2750 Sibley Memorial Highway, Eagan MN 55121

The Open Door is the largest non-profit food shelf in Dakota County with food distribution across the south metro area. Families select their own food–no pre-bagged food. We value wholesome, nutritious foods for families, offering milk, eggs, dairy, meat, chicken, fish, bakery, fruits and vegetables. 70% of the food offered is fresh and perishable. Member of Second Harvest Heartland and Emergency Foodshelf Network food banks.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday Thinking - About Friendship

I'm starting a new teaching series on Sunday about belonging, community, and friendship. Throughout the series, I want to be as practical as possible. Yes, I want to include the theology and biblical precedent of community and relationships, but I want to devote a lot of time to the basic nitty-gritty how-tos of friendship in action. Friendship, like faith, without works is dead.

A recent post on Donald Miller's blog by Shauna Niequist has some very good reflections on active and communicative friendship. Let me give you some excerpts in the hope that you will be encouraged to read the whole post. Read it, think about it, and then do something!

...It doesn’t matter how you feel in your heart about your friends—what matters is showing those feelings through words and actions.
- - -
It’s so easy for me to feel warm, loving thoughts about friends or family members… and then go on about my day, never reaching out, sending a text, or setting a date to connect. 
- - -
The things we feel about one another so often go unexpressed, because we’re busy or thoughtless, assuming they know, assuming it’s more than clear.

READ THE ENTIRE POST @ DONALD MILLER'S BLOG



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday Words - A Prayer Among Friends

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn't ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.

"A Prayer among Friends" by John Daniel, from Of Earth: Poems. © Lost Horse Press, 2012.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Tuesday Tomes - Teaching Series Books

Next Sunday, September 14, I'll be starting a new Sunday morning teaching series at Valley Christian Church. The series, You Belong Here, is aimed at giving people dozens of helpful and meaningful ways to connect with others in their church.

Though it's often assumed that making friends is something that comes naturally to people, my pastoral experience has shown me just how surprisingly difficult it is for many people––maybe even most––to make, keep, enjoy, and deepen friendships.  I've come to realize that being a good friend is a learned behavior.

If a church is going to experience true community, then the church must do all it can to cultivate and teach friendship skills. Learning to connect with others, to appreciate different kinds of friendship, and to guard and nurture relationships is a must for Christian maturity. So we're going to spend nine weeks talking about it and taking intentional steps.  Get complete sermon series info HERE.

Two books I'm recommending to people as companion resources for my new series are: Everybody's Normal by John Ortberg, and To Be a Friend by Jerry and Mary White. We'll have a few copies available at the church resource center, and we may have some reading groups.

______________________________

Everybody's Normal
by John Ortberg

From the Publisher's Description...
...How do flawed, abnormal people such as ourselves master the forces that can drive us apart and come together in the life-changing relationships God designed us for?

In Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them, John Ortberg zooms in on the things that make community tick. You’ll get a thought-provoking look at God’s heart, at others, and at yourself. Even better, you’ll gain wisdom and tools for drawing closer to others in powerful, impactful ways. With humor, insight, and a gift for storytelling, Ortberg shows how community pays tremendous dividends in happiness, health, support, and growth. It’s where all of us weird, unwieldy people encounter God’s love in tangible ways and discover the transforming power of being loved, accepted, and valued just the way we are.

______________________________

To Be a Friend
by Jerry and Mary White

From the Publisher's Description...
Friendship is not a rational process. While reasoning and discerning play a part in our choices of friends, feelings and emotions are strong elements as well. Much of the conscious development of our circle of friends rests on an understanding of the elements and foundations of friendship. There is no magic formula. Friendship choices rest on principles and concepts. Friendships take effort. They hold a bit of mystery. They can’t be manufactured. But they are priceless. Walk with Jerry and Mary White in To Be a Friend as they probe and discover together the great adventure of being and having friends.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Monday Music - World at the Top of the Stairs


Here's a song I wrote a long time ago about Page and Jack and the bedroom they shared in our old house in NE Mpls.  When I wrote it, I imagined how they might look back on those days way out in the future when they were older. Well, the future is now, and I still wonder how often they think about those childhood days. I know I do.



You take the top bunk, I'll take the one below —
So many years ago.
You be Luigi, let me be Mario —
Filling the floor with our Legos.

Goldfish, chameleons, and radio cars,
Bean-bag chairs;
Crickets sing under a ceiling of stars
In our world at the top of the stairs.

Turn on the Twins game; Let's play Monopoly —
Hours of you and me.
Paper and pencils, brotherly artistry —
Filling our walls and my memory.

Goldfish, chameleons, and radio cars,
Bean-bag chairs;
Crickets sing under a ceiling of stars
In our world at the top of the stairs.

The world where you chased Davy Crockett around
And I first saw a Hobbit's face—
And though it's been years, if I close my eyes,
I can climb the steps to that magical place of
Goldfish, chameleons, and radio cars,
Bean-bag chairs;
Crickets sing under a ceiling of stars
In our world at the top of the stairs.

“World at the Top of the Stairs” from If I Close my Eyes.
Words and Music by Dave Burkum, © Copyright 1994.