Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Favorites - Mineral Point, Wisconsin

Cheri and I are taking a few days off to wander the wooded hills of southern Wisconsin. We're driving scenic routes along the Mississippi River, then taking back roads through Wildcat Mountain State Park, and staying in the beautiful, historic little town of Mineral Point. We've had a busy September/October, so we're very thankful to be enjoying few restful days off.

A trip to Mineral Point is good for the soul – an escape from the hustle and bustle of crowded cities, a retreat from hectic schedules and busy lives. Wisconsin Trails announced in 2011 that Mineral Point is the BEST HISTORIC TOWN in Wisconsin. We hope you come visit and see why.

Spend some time with more than twenty artists in their galleries and studios, nurture your own creative side with arts and crafts workshops, see a show at a beautifully restored opera house, step back in time with a tour of historic sites, soak in the old world charm of 19th century architecture, savor a taste of locally grown food, taste a glass or two of handcrafted beer, enjoy the magic of outdoor summer theater, take a stroll outside and discover starry nights in a sky full of wonder, take home some award winning artisan cheeses, explore small town shops, sample Cornish pasty, top it off with a taste of figgyhobbin, find an original badger hole, take a drive through the countryside and drink in a tapestry woven together with gently rolling hills, verdant valleys, rugged stone bluffs, panoramic ridges and the mosaics of cultivated farm fields...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday Thinking - "Instead of Fighting, Now We're Dancing"

I was so moved by this interview with Jenna Vancura on Minnesota Public Radio's "The Daily Circuit" program. It's tough to listen to, but so thoughtful and real that you should. Please do!

I admire and appreciate Jenna. Cancer is taking her body, but her honesty, courage, and grace outshine and overwhelm the disease. It's a wondrous and beautiful thing to see someone with a terminal illness living in a way that will outlive and outlast her illness. Join me in praying for Jenna, her husband, James, and her family through this difficult time. And pray for the loved ones in your life who are facing similar circumstances.

Jenna Vancura, 28, on what it means to live after ending cancer treatment...
Jenna Vancura, 28, spent much of her senior year in high school at the Mayo Clinic, after a cancer diagnosis. By the time she was 25, she had already had three bouts of cancer.

After 11 years, Vancura announced on her blog that her body was finally succumbing to the disease...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Words - Fall, Leaves, Fall

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

"Fall, Leaves, Fall" by Emily Brontë from The Complete Poems, © Copyright 1992, Penguin Books.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Everybody's Normal Book Club

Session 3 of this Valley Book Club is just a week away. We'll be discussing part three John Ortberg's book, Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them.

Session 3: November 3, 6:30pm - Part 3, Chapters 8-12

We will be meeting in my office. You are welcome to join us even if you have not been able to attend other sessions. Please let me know if you plan to participate.

Everybody's Normal: Till You Get to Know Them
'by John Ortberg
Not you, that’s for sure! No one you’ve ever met, either. None of us are normal according to God’s definition, and the closer we get to each other, the plainer that becomes. Yet for all our quirks, sins, and jagged edges, we need each other. Community is more than just a word—it is one of our most fundamental requirements. So 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, 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, October 27, 2014

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, October 26, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Your Upward Calling

Almighty and merciful God, we want to be your faithful people and we want to serve you and honor you through our lives. We ask you to make this possible by your grace and guidance. Help us to press forward. Lift us up when we stumble. And help us to run to win the prize of your upward calling.

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.

Thank you, O God, for providing for our needs. Give us the wisdom and humility to recognize your provision. Give us hearts that are generous toward others. Make us ready and willing to help those in need. And may your grace and provision in our lives always result in us being more gracious and generous as we follow in the way of Christ.

Through Him, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday Smile - Social Media

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Favorites - The Cactus Blossoms

The Cactus Blossoms are on tour for a few weeks of shows with J. D. McPherson. Check out the schedule HERE. Friends living in Dallas, Austin, Phoenix, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boulder, and Tulsa, TAKE NOTE.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday Thinking - Brothers

This is pretty inspiring and thought-provoking...

My American Soldier became My Iraqi Brother

 In 2009, Sergeant Paul Braun was serving near Basra, Iraq with the 34th Military Police Company of the Minnesota Army National Guard. They were assigned an interpreter, and the American soldiers nicknamed him Philip.

During the next nine months, Paul and Philip grew close. So close, in fact, that upon returning to the U.S., Paul sponsored Philip’s visa. They now live together in Minnesota.

But Philip’s wife and children stayed behind in Iraq. So, in October 2014, Philip returned to his home country to try to reach his family and bring them back to the U.S., where they will all live with Paul.

Before leaving, Philip and Paul sat down for a conversation at StoryCorps.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Words - October

The month is amber,
Gold, and brown.
Blue ghosts of smoke
Float through the town,

Great V's of geese
Honk overhead,
And maples turn
A fiery red.

Frost bites the lawn.
The stars are slits
In a black cat's eye
Before she spits.

At last, small witches,
Goblins, hags
And pirates armed
With paper bags,

Their costumes hinged
On safety pins,
Go haunt a night
Of pumpkin grins.

"October" by John Updike, from A Child's Calendar, © Copyright 1965 by John Updike.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Yancey's Latest

Philip Yancey's new book, Vanishing Grace, is on it's way to my mailbox. I've always enjoyed Yancey's writing, and I'm hoping this new book will give me some ideas and inspiration for my upcoming Advent-Christmas teaching series, Comfort and Joy.

From the publisher...
“Why does the church stir up such negative feelings?” Philip Yancey has been asking this all his life as a journalist. His perennial question is more relevant now than ever: in a twenty-year span starting in the mid-nineties, research shows that favorable opinions of Christianity have plummeted drastically—and opinions of Evangelicals have taken even deeper dives.

The end of the politics-oriented Evangelicalism that was so dominant in the second half of the 20th century is a strong example that we are living in a post-Christian culture. Yet while the opinions about Christianity are dropping, interest in spirituality is rising. Why the disconnect? Why are so many asking, “What’s so good about the “Good News?”

Yancey’s writing has focused on the search for honest faith that makes a difference for a world in pain. In his landmark book What’s So Amazing about Grace he issued a call for Christians to be as grace-filled in their behavior as they are in declaring their beliefs.

But people inside and outside the church are still thirsty for grace. What the church lacked in its heyday is now exactly what it needs to recover to thrive. Grace can bring together Christianity and our post-Christian culture, inviting outsiders as well as insiders to take a deep second look at why our faith matters and about what could reignite its appeal to future generations. How can Christians offer grace in a way that is compelling to a jaded society? And how can they make a difference in a world that cries out in need?

Yancey aims this book at Christian readers, showing  them how Christians have lost respect, influence, and reputation in a newly post-Christian culture. “Why do they hate us so much?” mystified Americans ask about the rest of the world.  A similar question applies to evangelicals in America.

Yancey explores what may have contributed to hostility toward Evangelicals, especially in their mixing of faith and politics instead of embracing more grace-filled ways of presenting the gospel.  He offers illuminating stories of how faith can be expressed in ways that disarm even the most cynical critics.  Then he explores what is Good News and what is worth preserving in a culture that thinks it has rejected Christian faith.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Music - Search Me, O God

Search me, O God, and know my heart–
Try me and know my anxious thoughts–
See if there be a hurtful way in me–
And lead me in the everlasting way.

You've enclosed me behind and before,
You have laid your hand upon me–
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
And too high to a attain it.

Search me, O God–
Try me, O God–
Know me, O God–
Lead me, O God.

"Search Me, O God" by Dave Burkum from Songs for the Real World, © Copyright 1991 by Dave Burkum. Click Here to Listen or Buy

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Supplication - A Living Demonstration

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, O 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, October 18, 2014

Saturday Smile - Failed Therapy