Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday Words - There Is Room

Making Room is the theme of my teaching series for this year's Advent/Christmas season. As part of the music preparation for the series, I've updated and expanded the text of the old Christmas Hymn, There is Room in My Heart for Thee. I hope it will make the song a little more singable and the message a bit more personal.

There Is Room In My Heart
Lord, you left your throne and your kingly crown,
When you came to the earth for me.
But in David's Town, there was no room found,
For your Holy Nativity.

Come into my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for You.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for You.

When they look for rest, even birds have nests,
And the fox has its den, you said;
But for you, God's own, there was found no home,
You had no place to lay your head.

Come into my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for You.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for You.

You are Christ the Lord, the Incarnate Word,
And you shine with the light of truth.

But so few believed, you were not received,
And your people rejected you.

Come into my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for You.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for You.

Give me open eyes that can see you, Lord,
Give me ears that can hear your call—
That in all I do, making room for you,
Jesus, you are my all in all.

Come into my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for You.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for You.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Tome - The King Jesus Gospel

My copy of Scot McKnight's new book, The King Jesus Gospel, just arrived a few days ago. I'm looking forward to reading it. The publisher's description of the book is as follows:
Contemporary evangelicals have built a 'salvation culture' but not a 'gospel culture.' Evangelicals have reduced the gospel to the message of personal salvation. This book makes a plea for us to recover the old gospel as that which is still new and still fresh. The book stands on four arguments: that the gospel is defined by the apostles in 1 Corinthians 15 as the completion of the Story of Israel in the saving Story of Jesus; that the gospel is found in the Four Gospels; that the gospel was preached by Jesus; and that the sermons in the Book of Acts are the best example of gospeling in the New Testament. The King Jesus Gospel ends with practical suggestions about evangelism and about building a gospel culture.
Scot is putting up a few teaser posts on his popular Jesus Creed Blog. Here is a recent post raising questions about how good works and salvation fit together in the Good News according to Jesus. Anybody want to read through this little book with me? Let me know.

I will also soon be reading N. T. Wright's Simply Jesus. I'm hoping that they will spark some inspiration for the teaching series I'll be preaching in July/August 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Music - Bruce Cockburn

With Thanksgiving behind us and Advent upon us, it's time to break out the Christmas Music. Bruce Cockburn's "Christmas" has been a longtime favorite of our family. It's a very special collection of songs that Cheri and I will be playing dozens of times in the next month.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Supplication - First Sunday of Advent

Almighty God, we ask you to help us turn away darkness and to put on the armor of light. Today, as we live in this place and in this time, help us to hold fast to Jesus. Thank you that he came to live among us in humility. Thank you for the promise that he will one day come again in glory on to raise us to eternal life.

Forgive us for the wrongs we’ve done and the good we’ve left undone. Renew us by your Spirit. Help us to turn away from what is worthless and, instead, make us able to do what is right. Show us how to act, think, and live as Christ. And as you have forgiven us, make us merciful and ready to forgive those who have sinned against us.

O God, save us from troubles and mercifully stir our hearts toward complete trust in you. Grant us a deep sense of your loving presence when the troubles of life threaten to overwhelm us. Remind us of your faithfulness. Calm our hearts. Help us to be still and know that you are God.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Smile - Pie Chart

I hope you've recovered from your Thanksgiving Dinner.
How long will you be eating leftovers?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Family - My Grandsons

Who was I then? And what must I become?
Like newly minted coins, their faces catch
the evening's radiance. They are so sure of us,

more sure than we are of ourselves. Our children:
who gently push us toward the end of our own lives.
The future beckons brightly. They trust us to lead them there.

Excerpted from "The Faces of Children" by Elizabeth Spires,
from the book
Now the Green Blade Rises. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2002.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday Thinking - Amazon Empire

I know this isn't the day to be a curmudgeon, but it really bugs me that the dark shadow of Black Friday is looming over this otherwise fine Thanksgiving Day. Corporate retailers are scooting up to our Thanksgiving tables and licking their chops as they prepare to consume us like a turkey dinner. Before they do, it might be good to pause a moment to think a little bit about commerce.

Of the little shopping I do, much of it is done on Amazon, and it appears that an unfathomable number of other people are doing the same. I knew, of course, that Amazon was big, but this info-graphic posted on the Frugel Dad blog showed me it was much bigger than I ever imagined. Take a few minutes to look through these nine amazing facts and let me know what you think.

Amazon Infographic


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday Words - Nun Danket Alle Gott

In anticipation of Thanksgiving Day, I thought it would be appropriate to post the words of the well-loved hymn, "Now Thank We All Our God." The text for this hymn was written in the early 17th century (c. 1636) by Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor who lived and served in Eilenberg, Saxony. The wonderful music we now associate with his words was based on a tune attributed to Johann Crüger, but later harmonized and perfected by J.S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn.

Rinkart's life was difficult, to say the least. Eilenberg was a city of refuge for political and military fugitives during the 30 Years War and, as such, was subjected to deadly overcrowding, famine, disease, and war. During the worst of it, Rinkart performed as many as fifty funerals each day. One terrible year he officiated 4000 funerals, and one of those was for his own wife.

It is a testament of faith that this man who knew such heartache and misery should be best known for a glorious song of thanksgiving. I pray that I too, regardless of problems and pains, will be faithful to give God thanks for the blessing and promise he has given.

May we all persevere until that great and final day when together we will lift up our voices in the greatest song of thanks ever sung. God will wipe away all tears from our eyes, and though I know the scripture says he will make all things new, I would be very glad to find us still singing this old, old song.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;

Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,

With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;

And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;

The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;

The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;

For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Tome - The Big Book

Tonight at 7:00pm I'll be leading a group discussion of Stan Guthrie's book, All That Jesus Asks. Feel free to join us at Valley Christian Church. Everyone is welcome, whether you have read all or part of the book, or just think you might be interested in reading it.

A few days ago I received my first copy of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I ordered the book because I am working with several people at Valley to help our church offer a substance abuse recovery group that will meet one night each week. I've heard of the Big Book and seen it many times, but have never gotten around to reading it. I guess now is the time.

When it arrived, I took a quick glance through the book and realized that it's probably something every pastor should read–something I should have read a long time ago. I'm sure it will deepen my understanding of the human condition and give me a greater empathy for those who suffer with addiction.

Click Here for the Wikipedia article about The Big Book.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Music - Blitzen Trapper

A couple of weeks ago Blitzen Trapper and Dawes played First Avenue. I didn't hear about the show until it was already sold-out. Too bad, because it was a show I would have enjoyed. Either one of these bands could take a time machine back to the 70's and top the charts. It's pretty weird (and great) to hear brand new bands that take me back to some of the good old sounds of my youth.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Supplication

Almighty and everlasting God, we pray and believe that you will restore all things through Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords. In your mercy, grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his gracious Lordship.

Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy. Forgive us for the sins we’ve committed. Relieve our guilty consciences. Purify our hearts and transform us that by your Spirit we might turn away from what is wrong and, instead, love to do what is right.

Make us ready and able to forgive those who have sinned against us. Make us merciful and forgiving toward others, as you have been merciful and forgiving toward us. Fill our lives and our church community to overflowing with your grace and goodness.

O God, thank you for the fruitful lives we are able to live through Christ. Help us to stay connected to Jesus. And by the power and grace of his Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape and strengthen us, that we might delight in your will, and walk in your ways to the glory of your name.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Family - Tyler, Mat Kearney, and Leagues

My son, Tyler, will be performing at First Avenue with Mat Kearney and Leagues, Sunday night, November 20. Sorry, but no tickets are available because the show is sold out.

This is the last concert of the Mat Kearney fall tour, and we're SO glad Tyler will be able to get a break from the very heavy touring schedule he's had since May.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Thinking - Dr. Daniel B. Wallace

Daniel B. Wallace is the founder and the executive director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. This past September he gave a couple of short lectures at Biola University's undergraduate chapel sessions entitled, "Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then?" This lecture (part 1 and part 2) is a very accessible introduction to how we got the Bible and how we should think about it. The website for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts is worth a visit to explore their mission, news updates, and resources they offer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Words - Making Room

Advent begins on November 27. The theme of my advent teaching series at Valley is Making Room: The Christmas Call to Open Our Lives.

Thanks to Jason Daum for the wonderful artwork. Thanks in advance to Jonathan Miller for the theme chorus we'll be singing at worship times. Here are the lyrics I sent him yesterday morning.

Making Room
There is a knocking on the door.
It is the coming of the Lord.
The Light of Truth, the Living Word.
I'm making room, making room.

In this dark night I hear a plea.
A voice that calls with urgency,
And asks, "Do you have room for me?"
I'm making room, making room.

There is a promise to believe.
There is a Savior to receive.
Lord, you are welcome; do not leave.
I'm making room, making room.

My life is open, come inside.
Lord, be my vision, be my guide.
Be born in me; be glorified.
I’m making room, making room.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Tome - All That Jesus Asks

I recently completed a teaching series at Valley called All Jesus Asks. Each week's sermon was based on a specific question posed by Jesus somewhere in the pages of the gospels. I got the idea for the series from a book by Stan Guthrie called, All that Jesus Asks. I first heard about the book through the Books and Culture Podcast.

Over the last several months as I've been preaching this series, I've also been encouraging people to read Stan Guthrie's book as a companion to my teaching series. On November 22, 7:00pm, I'll be leading a book club discussion at Valley Christian Church (more info). If you've read the book or are interested in reading it in the future, please consider joining us.

Several copies of the book are still available at the Valley Resource Center or church office. It's also available at Amazon right now for a very low price.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Music - Tedeschi Trucks Band

Here's a rockin' way to get your week started. Susan Tedeschi and her husband, Derek Trucks, blow me away with this one. Soul baby!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Supplication

Dear Lord, we thank you for the Scriptures you have inspired and provided. Make us quick to hear them, read, mark, learn, and apply them. Help us hold fast to the hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ.

You know our weaknesses and you understand our limitations. Our sins and failures are no secret or surprise to you. And yet, Dear Father, you are faithful to forgive, you are ready to renew, you are able to lift us up, and you call us to press forward in Christ.

Thank you for the forgiveness, hope, and redemption you give. In the same way, help us to forgive, to encourage, and to bless others. You are gracious and merciful to us, and we ask you to make us gracious and merciful to others.

O God, thank you for providing for our needs. Give us hearts that are generous toward others in need. Make us ready and willing to help those who are less fortunate. May your grace and provision for us always result in grace and provision for those around us.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen