Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Favorites - Blue Tooth Audio

In recent weeks, I've been enjoying a couple of new audio gadgets. Both are very inexpensive and deliver a lot of bang for the buck.


HMDX Jam Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

Connects Wirelessly to Bluetooth-Enabled DevicesThe speaker can connect wirelessly from up to 30 feet away, and it works with most Bluetooth-enabled Smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and desktops, including iPad, iPhone, and iPod.

Rechargeable Battery and Line-In Capability
The Jam wireless speaker features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that provides up to four hours of wireless play. The speaker also comes with line-in capability, which allows you to connect your non-Bluetooth-enabled devices directly to the speaker.

Highlights:
    Incredible sound quality from a small package
    Easy wireless connection--works up to 30 feet away
    Works with all Bluetooth-enabled devices: smart phones, tablets, and most notebooks
    Lithium-ion rechargeable battery provides up to 4 hours of wireless play--no need to buy batteries
    Simple on/off switch on the bottom of the unit

Small and Comes in a Variety of Colors
Measuring 2-1/2 inches in diameter by 2-1/2 inches high, the premium Jam wireless speaker delivers incredible sound quality in a small footprint. Even more, it's designed to fit anyone's style--choose from six colors.


Brightech - BrightPlay Live

The BrightPlay Live receiver is an instant upgrade to existing components. Play your music aloud wirelessly from your Bluetooth device to stereos and speakers that do not have Bluetooth built-in.

Advanced feature makes setup a snap. NFC makes pairing and control easy. With devices that support Near Field Communication, pairing is virtually automatic. Just tap your mobile device to the BrightPlay Live recever and start playing music wirelessly!

The receiver conveniently connects to traditional audio components. The included cable has both RCA and 3.5 mm connectors so you can easily connect your Bluetooth audio receiver to speakers etc.

Thursday Thinking - Giving and Happiness

Joel Rogers, a tax accountant in Birmingham, Alabama sent this question to the Freakonomics Radio Podcast:
I’ve read that people who go to religious institutions consistently are happier than their counterparts. The economist inside me says that money (not given to the church) would make a non-tither happier, all things equal. So, will exchanging 10% of your income for the right to participate in a religious congregation statistically increase or decrease your happiness?
CLICK HERE to see how they answered...

Does Religion Make You Happy? 
A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday Words - Every Land


The holy land is everywhere. —Black Elk

Watch where the branches of the willows bend
See where the waters of the rivers tend
Graves in the rock, cradles in the sand
Every land is the holy land.

Here was the battle to the bitter end
Here's where the enemy killed the friend
Blood on the rock, tears on the sand
Every land is the holy land.

Willow by the water bending in the wind
Bent till it's broken and it cannot stand
Listen to the word the messengers send
Life from the living rock, death in the sand
Every land is the holy land.

"Every Land" by Ursula K. Le Guin, from Finding My Elegy.
© Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Tomes - Life Stories

I started a new book on Sunday afternoon, Life Times: Stories (1952-2007), by Nadine Gordimer. A South African writer, political activist, and Nobel Prize recipient, Gordimer, was born in 1923 in a small-mining town 30 miles from Johannesburg, and grew up in South Africa. She was the daughter of a British mother and a Lithuanian father.

I'm very sorry to say that I had not known of Gordimer or her writing until I heard of her death just two Sundays ago on July 13. The flood of stories and remembrances of her life in the wake of her death were so ubiquitous and interesting, it was baffling to me how I could have never heard of her before. After hearing John Hockenberry's words on The Takeaway, an interview by Terry Gross on Fresh Air, and a remembrance by Scott Simon on Weekend Edition, I knew I had to get a book and start reading.

A collection of her stories seemed like a perfect place to start. In a review of Life Times, Alan Cheuse, who teaches writing at George Mason University said, "This superb collection, almost 600 pages long, gives us a series of masterly drawn glimpses into the story-making art of one of Africa's great modern literary geniuses and gives us an intimate glance into the hearts and souls of dozens and dozens of her fellow strife-torn and struggling fellow Africans of all shades and tribes."


Here is the beginning of Scott Simon's remembrance...
In Writing: Nadine Gordimer Explored Why We're All Here
"I am not a political person by nature," Nadine Gordimer once said. "I don't suppose, if I had lived elsewhere, my writing would have reflected politics."

Gordimer was born in South Africa in the early 1920s, into a society divided and identified by the crime of apartheid. Official racial segregation and suppression was wound into everyday life.

Her mother mostly kept her home from school, so Gordimer began to write for companionship. She published her first short story in The Children's Sunday Express when she was 15 years old, and essentially wrote for a living until her death this week, at the age of 90.

Nadine Gordimer wrote 15 novels, a few of which were banned by the South African government, and when one of her short stories appeared in a British or U.S. magazine that reached South Africa, officials ripped out her pages.

The suppression intended to silence her and millions more only galvanized Nadine Gordimer...
CLICK HERE TO KEEP READING

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Music - Better Day




Abel made a sacrifice.
Enoch somehow never died.
Noah built an ark
And left the world outside.
Abraham didn’t have a son,
But by faith he traveled far.
His children now outnumber
The stars.

Take another step,
Breathe a little deeper,
Straighten up and take a stand.
Walk another mile,
You’re headed for a better land.

Isaac blessed and prophesied.
Jacob worshipped, staff in hand.
Joseph spoke of exodus from
Egypt’s land.
Moses chose to be mistreated--
Pharoah’s pleasures he would deny.
The Red Sea parted and the ground the children walked
Was dry.

Take another step,
Breathe a little deeper,
Straighten up and take a stand.
Walk another mile,
You’re headed for a better land.
Think about the joy,
Don’t forget the promise,
Let the Spirit lead the way.
Tomorrow’s gonna come--
It’s gonna be a better day.

Gideon, Barak, and Samson--
There’s not time enough to tell
Tales of Jephthah, King David,
And Samuel.
There were those who closed the mouths of lions;
Those who quenched the fury of the flames.
They suffered this world’s hateful scorn
And shame.

Still they took another step,
Breathed a little deeper;
They weren’t afraid to take a stand.
They walked another mile,
Headed for a better land.
They thought about the joy--
Thought about the promise;
They let the Spirit lead the way.
They gave a little more,
Hopin’ for a better day.

So take another step,
Breathe a little deeper,
Straighten up and take a stand.
Walk another mile,
You’re headed for a better land.
Think about the joy,
Don’t forget the promise,
Let the Spirit lead the way.
Tomorrow’s gonna come--
It’s gonna be a better day.

Words and Music by Dave Burkum from Breathe a Little Deeper. © Copyright 2000 by Dave Burkum. CLICK HERE to Listen or Buy.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Grace and Guidance

O God, we trust you and we ask for your protection. We are weak, and we need your strength. We struggle with sin, and we need you to make us holy. In your mercy, guide us and rule over us. Help us not lose sight of what is eternal and true.

In our weakness and selfishness, we often fail each other, fail ourselves, and fail you. We recognize our need for forgiveness and we give thanks for the hope and power we have in Christ.  Raise us and transform us by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Forgive us our sins, and make us ready and able and quick to forgive others, even as you forgive us.

We are sinners, O God. Have mercy us. You see our hidden faults and know our secret sins. Thank you for loving us where we are and for giving us the grace and guidance to rise above our weaknesses. Help us to love you with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Grant us integrity that our lives might demonstrate our love and devotion to you.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Smile - Brett Domino

This guy is funny! And he's remarkably insightful about the recipe for pop songs.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Favorites - Stillwater Log Jam


The Cactus Blossoms will be playing tomorrow night at the Stillwater Log Jam. Should be a great night of fun and music. The weather is supposed to be perfect!

7:00 to 8 p.m. The Cactus Blossoms
CLICK HERE for the full music schedule.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday Thinking - Beyond Theoretical Salvation


Too many Christians talk about salvation as an event or a status and  fail to think of salvation as an ongoing process. In the New Testament, salvation is referred to in terms of past, present, and future. We have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved.

To prompt you to further thought about this this, I'm directing you to a recent post by Greg Boyd on the ReKnew blog. The post is titled: Beyond Theoretical Salvation.
Profession of Christ’s lordship in our lives isn’t a magical formula. It’s more than a theory about how we can get saved if we confess the right doctrines. The confession has meaning only when it’s understood to be a genuine pledge to surrender one’s life to Christ. But I want us to notice something that is as obvious as it is overlooked. Our pledge to surrender our life to Christ isn’t itself the life we pledged to surrender to Christ. The actual life we pledged to surrender is the life we live each and every moment after we make the pledge. For the only life we have to surrender is the life we live moment-by-moment.

Think about it. Our lives are nothing more than a series of moments—a series of “nows”—strung together. To surrender our “life” is to surrender this. But you obviously can’t surrender this all at once. You can only do it one moment at a time.

The pledge of life isn’t the life we pledge. 

CLICK HERE TO KEEP READING...
Profession of Christ’s lordship in our lives isn’t a magical formula. It’s more than a theory about how we can get saved if we confess the right doctrines. The confession has meaning only when it’s understood to be a genuine pledge to surrender one’s life to Christ. (See yesterday’s post.) But I want us to notice something that is as obvious as it is overlooked. Our pledge to surrender our life to Christ isn’t itself the life we pledged to surrender to Christ. The actual life we pledged to surrender is the life we live each and every moment after we make the pledge. For the only life we have to surrender is the life we live moment-by-moment.
Think about it. Our lives are nothing more than a series of moments—a series of “nows”—strung together. To surrender our “life” is to surrender this. But you obviously can’t surrender this all at once. You can only do it one moment at a time.
The pledge of life isn’t the life we pledge.
- See more at: http://reknew.org/2014/07/beyond-theoretical-salvation/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=beyond-theoretical-salvation#sthash.fyKs5rdG.dpuf
Profession of Christ’s lordship in our lives isn’t a magical formula. It’s more than a theory about how we can get saved if we confess the right doctrines. The confession has meaning only when it’s understood to be a genuine pledge to surrender one’s life to Christ. (See yesterday’s post.) But I want us to notice something that is as obvious as it is overlooked. Our pledge to surrender our life to Christ isn’t itself the life we pledged to surrender to Christ. The actual life we pledged to surrender is the life we live each and every moment after we make the pledge. For the only life we have to surrender is the life we live moment-by-moment.
Think about it. Our lives are nothing more than a series of moments—a series of “nows”—strung together. To surrender our “life” is to surrender this. But you obviously can’t surrender this all at once. You can only do it one moment at a time.
The pledge of life isn’t the life we pledge.
- See more at: http://reknew.org/2014/07/beyond-theoretical-salvation/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=beyond-theoretical-salvation#sthash.fyKs5rdG.dpuf

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Words - Honey

http://www.jennortonartstudio.com/artwork/servants-and-celebrations/

Only calmness will reassure
the bees to let you rob their hoard.
Any sweat of fear provokes them.
Approach with confidence, and from
the side, not shading their entrance.
And hush smoke gently from the spout
of the pot of rags, for sparks will
anger them. If you go near bees
every day they will know you.
And never jerk or turn so quick
you excite them. If weeds are trimmed
around the hive they have access
and feel free. When they taste your smoke
they fill themselves with honey and
are laden and lazy as you
lift the lid to let in daylight.
No bee full of sweetness wants to
sting. Resist greed. With the top off
you touch the fat gold frames, each cell
a hex perfect as a snowflake,
a sealed relic of sun and time
and roots of many acres fixed
in crystal-tight arrays, in rows
and lattices of sweeter latin
from scattered prose of meadow, woods.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

"Honey" by Robert Morgan, from A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry, edited and with an introduction by Czeslaw Milosz, © Copyright 1996 by Czeslaw Milosz.

Also appears in The Strange Attractor: New and Selected Poems by Robert Morgan, © Copyright 2004 by Robert Morgan.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Tome - The Apostle Islands

We had a nice vacation and enjoyed the coast of Lake Superior from the Apostle Islands all the way down to Duluth and then up the North Shore to Grand Marais. We started in the Apostle Islands and stayed in Siskiwit Bay. The next day we drove up to the sea caves area, but couldn't see much from shore. We did, however, get to enjoy watching a couple teams of sea kayaks launching out to explore the caves on an absolutely gorgeous morning.

So after having lunch in Bayfield, Wisconsin, I stopped into the local bookstore and found a little book of Craig Blacklock photos of the sea caves. Blacklock is renowned for his stunning photos of Lake Superior landscapes and this book, Apostle Islands from Land and Sea, is an example of his expertise. The pictures are so beautiful they convinced me to definitely get a boat ride out to see Devil's Island and the Sea Caves from the water the next time we're up that way.

http://www.amazon.com/Apostle-Islands-Land-Sea-Souvenir/dp/1892472260/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405345645&sr=1-1&keywords=craig+blacklock

Publisher's Description:
Wisconsin's Apostle Islands are a haven for boaters and tourists, and this photo book will appeal to them. Blacklock's ability as a photographer and kayaker sets this book far apart from any others. He has the skills to create images others would find impossible.



Monday, July 14, 2014

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.

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.


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 from This Is the Testimony, © Copyright 2005 by Dave Burkum. 
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN OR BUY.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Help Us Persevere

Help us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts.

We humble ourselves before you. We know we cannot rely on our own strength, and we rejoice in your mercy. Thank you for your promise to forgive and purify us. Thank you for being the one who saves.

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.

Remind us, O God, of your promises and help us to persevere in our lives with love and reverence for you. Lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil. Protect us from discouragement, and encourage us by your Spirit. Bring us safely through this day and all our days to come.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Smile - Potato Parenting