Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Food - Family and Friends

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that on Fridays I usually post something about family or friends. This week, I'm adding "FOOD" to the topic menu for Friday posting. I'll get things started today by combining all three topics.

Last week, I celebrated my 56th birthday. Let me say "thanks" to my family and friends for all the wonderful cards and gifts. The gift I received from my wife was a Magic Bullet Blender. She knew it was something I've been wanting to get for a few months. Let me tell you why.

By the end of 2011, my weight had reached an all-time high. This is pretty typical for people who have Burkum for a last name. Thankfully, my three sons seem to have escaped the curse (thanks, no doubt, to being lucky enough to favor Carlson, Emrich, and Longnecker DNA). It may also, however, have quite a lot to do with the way eat!

Anyway, I determined that with some faith, discipline, and the support of Christian friends, I would make some serious changes in 2012. Since February, I've been eating better, enjoying food more, exercising consistently, and have somehow lost 35lbs. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next five months.

Several things have been very important to me in this process of changing my health and nutrition habits.

First, we started a group at Valley Christian Church called Weigh and Pray. We meet for about a half-hour each week to just weigh-in, share ideas, empathize, encourage, and pray with each other. The support and comradeship of these friends has been priceless as we bring health stewardship into the context of our faith community.

Something else that has helped is a pact I made with another friend from church. He has been helping me with accountability and consistency in regard to my daily exercise goals. We exchange short emails every day, letting each other know that we've done what we said we would do. In the process, we also get lots of chances to throw in a couple sentences about how we're doing in general, which has been good for friendship and for being a prayer and life support for each other.

Another important part of my dietary reformation process has been using what I learned in Joel Furhman's book, Eat to Live. The information about food and nutrition has been a tremendous help to me. Learning to stock my fridge and kitchen, doing more cooking, and changing my choices has been very good. Now, thanks to my wife, Cheri, I get to try some new recipes with my new bullet blender. LIKE THIS ONE.

So look for more food and nutrition posts to appear on Fridays!

Dr. Fuhrman’s Skinny Shake
4 ounces pomegranate juice
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup of ice
Squeeze of lemon
Directions: Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender.

Our Family Strawberry Picking Day 2011.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Facing Death

I had the privilege of meeting Lt. Col. Mark Weber at a Rosemount High School event organized to give special recognition to graduating students who had enlisted into the U.S. Armed Forces. I was there because one of those graduating students is a young man from the church I pastor.

I sat a a table across from Officer Weber during much of the program, not realizing that he was the special guest speaker. He seemed very thin, but it wasn't until he stood up,when introduced, and I saw the tube looping down below his jacket that I realized he was dealing with a serious illness. Until that moment, anything that might have signaled his stage-four cancer was overshadowed by his warmth and genuinely friendly demeanor. He delivered a very practical, hopeful, and helpful message for the young recruits that day.

Catching up on a pile of newspapers this week, my wife noticed an article about Lt. Col. Weber in the June 19 StarTribune. She pulled out the page and said, "Is this the guy you met in Rosemount?" It was. I'm glad she pointed it out to me because it led me to discover a video of a recent speech Lt. Col. Weber delivered which concludes with a heart rending duet he sang with his son. I should also mention that Mark's father was in the audience that day.

Click Here to Watch the 27 Minute Video of the Speech

I'm posting the StarTrib article and a couple video links for you because Weber's perspective and tenacity are likely to provoke you to some deep thoughts. He's in a situation that has forced him to think through and stand up to some of the biggest issues anyone could ever face, and he's doing it with class and clarity. And in the process, he's prompting others to think about their lives too. Thank you, Lt. Col. Mark Weber. I'm glad to have met you, and I'm thankful for the way you are embracing life in the face of death.

From the STAR-TRIBUNE Article by Jon Tevlin:
Before Weber got up to make his speech, he took off his glasses so that he couldn't see people cry. Then he talked about Buford. He told jokes, he talked about the importance of serving your country and he talked about humility. He also talked about the "fog of war."
"On a daily basis, soldiers make life or death decisions in the blink of an eye in that fog. Never before in our nation's history has so much been asked from so few Americans."
Finally he talked about another unwelcome guest at the back of the room.
"It's death," Weber said. "And I mention him because I see him and hear him once or twice a month, and he whispers in my ear something I'd like to pass along to all of you:
"Live, because I am coming." 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday Words - If You Think You've Arrived...

Turtle on a Fence Pole

I saw a curious sight as I walked last week
Down the Old Mill road along Poplar Creek.
On a fence post top at least four feet high,
Sat a big old turtle watching me pass by.
Front legs, back legs swimming in air;
I said, "Hey big fella, how'd you get up there?"

"What a fine view! Well bless my soul!"
Said the big box turtle on the old fence pole.
How he got to the top, I couldn't tell,
But I think it's safe to say he had a little help.

Once upon a time I heard someone say,
"I'm a self-made man, done it all my way."
I guess he forgot or he didn't care
About all the folks who helped him get up there.
The smarter you get, the more there is to know;
If you think you've arrived, you've got a ways to go.

"What a fine view! Well bless my soul!"
Said the big box turtle on the old fence pole.
How he got to the top, I couldn't tell,
But I think it's safe to say he had a little help.
Just a little help.

Front legs, back legs swimming in air;
I said, "Hey big fella, how'd you get up there?"

"What a fine view! Well bless my soul!"
Said the big box turtle on the old fence pole.
How he got to the top, I couldn't tell,
But I think it's safe to say he had a little help.

Words and Music by Dave Burkum. © Copyright 1995 by Dave Burkum.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Present Perfect

Tuesday, June 26, 6:30pm

Tonight will be the final session of our Book Club discussing Greg Boyd's book, Present Perfect. We will be covering Chapters 6, 7, and Appendices.
We'll be meeting in the Valley Christian Church office conference room.

Let me know if you plan to participate. Please feel free to participate even if you have not been able to make it to other sessions or if you have not been able to complete the readings. There is still much to be gained from the conversation.

If you have any questions, please contact me.
Book Description:
A 'Holy Habit' That Will Change Your Life!

Experience true spiritual transformation: invite God's presence into your life! Popular author, theologian, and pastor Gregory Boyd shows you how---simply, practically, and effectively---in this thoughtful and accessible book. Discover:  how to pray continually; What it means to 'take every thought captive;' how to wake up to God's ever-present love.
God is closer to you than the air you breathe. He is present in every given moment. Wake up to his presence! Turn off the mental chatter that keeps you from seeing his glory. Embrace the holy habit of inviting God's presence into your life, and be transformed! Wake Up to God's Presence!

We long to be transformed. Yet our minds are filled with endless trivia and self-centered chatter. To-do lists. Worries about the past. Speculation about the future. We forget to live in the present moment ... and to invite God to be with us there.

After reading classic contemplative authors Brother Lawrence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, and Frank Laubach, theologian and pastor Gregory Boyd longed to experience the presence of God for himself. For two decades, he's attempted to implement the 'practice of the presence of God' in his own life ... sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. What he's learned as a fellow pilgrim on his spiritual journey can help you find true spiritual transformation as you begin to practice the discipline of inviting God into every moment.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Music - Country Boys

If everything's gonna turn out right,
You're gonna fry fish tonight!

Well, everything did turn out right and we grilled up a mess of fish on Friday night. Big thanks to Terry and Nick Madsen for inviting Brian, Ted, Chad and me to go fishing last week.

We had beautiful weather, great fishing, and good time with good friends! What else could make a country boy happier than that?

Sing it, Johnny...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Supplication - You Are Faithful

O Lord, give us hearts that love and worship you faithfully each and every day. Help us to remember that you are faithful and constant in your love toward us. Help us to trust that you care for us, that you provide for us, and that you will sustain us through every need and circumstance.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ Jesus.  Help us as we extend that same forgiveness to others who have sinned against us. Help us become a community called grace. And help us to have a redemptive and healing impact on the world around us.

O God, help us to see you for who you really are, and fill us with a sense of hope as we worship you. Show yourself to us in new ways today. Encourage us, by your Spirit, through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Smile - BACON

Don't forget that Valley Christian Church is having a HUGE garage sale today to benefit local charities. Please pass along this link to everyone you know through facebook and email. Thanks.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Friends - Valley Garage Sale

My friends at Valley Christian Church are hosting a HUGE garage sale tomorrow. They've converted the entire upper level of our building into one of the biggest rummage sales I have ever seen. Bikes, furniture, clothes, baby stuff, tools, and more and more.

Every dollar raised will be given to charitable organizations that serve our community (HopeKids, Amnion, and Good in the Hood).

If you live in the south metro, please plan to do some shopping. I would really appreciate it if you would share the garage sale website link with everyone you can.

Please share that link on your facebook status. Thanks!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Being an Image Bearer

The Biologos Forum has posted a helpful video of N. T. Wright explaining what he believes the book of Genesis (and the Apostle Paul) meant when they spoke about the "image of God." It's worth thinking about the practical implications for how we  understand the Genesis account of "being made in the image of God," and the Apostle Paul's teachings regarding the "new self renewed in the image of its Creator."


From the Biologos website:
In this video conversation, N.T. Wright considers what it means to be an image bearer of God. He suggests that what the book of Genesis and the apostle Paul mean by humans reflecting the image of God is less a static picture and more of a “creative, dynamic” proposition.

To emphasize the point that bearing Christ’s image is multi-dimensional, Wright suggests the metaphor of an angled mirror as example. To contextualize this in practical terms, he recounts a childhood anecdote about being ill in bed as a child and having his mother rest an angled mirror on his bedroom door so he would be able to see the comings and goings of other family members and not feel so isolated and alone. Similarly, Wright comments, we can use this metaphor to understand what the Bible means about being an image bearer—God can reflect his love, care, and stewardship toward humans, and in turn, they can reflect God back to the world.

As such, the “image of God” is not something about us—instead, it is what we do and how we do it. That is, how we reflect God into the world—aptly described by Paul in Colossians 3:9-10: “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (ESV).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday Words - A Change in the Weather


Rain always follows the cattle
sniffing the air and huddling
in fields with their heads to the lee.
You will know that the weather is changing
when your sheep leave the pasture
too slowly, and your dogs lie about
and look tired; when the cat
turns her back to the fire,
washing her face, and the pigs
wallow in litter; cocks will be crowing
at unusual hours, flapping their wings;
hens will chant; when your ducks
and your geese are too noisy,
and the pigeons are washing themselves;
when the peacocks squall loudly
from the tops of the trees,
when the guinea fowl grates;
when sparrows chip loudly
and fuss in the roadway, and when swallows
fly low, skimming the earth;
when the carrion crow
croaks to himself, and wild fowl
dip and wash, and when moles
throw up hills with great fervor;
when toads creep out in numbers;
when frogs croak; when bats
enter the houses; when birds
begin to seek shelter,
and the robin approaches your house;
when the swan flies at the wind,
and your bees leave the hive;
when ants carry their eggs to and fro,
and flies bite, and the earthworm
is seen on the surface of things.

"How to Foretell a Change in the Weather" by Ted Kooser, 
from Flying at Night.
© University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Tomes - Portable Pastors?

About a month ago on MPR's program, The Daily Circuit, Kerri Miller hosted a conversation on the popularity of religious books. I thought some of you bibliophiles might find some of the discussion interesting.
From the program introduction:
Just 50 years ago, it would have been difficult to find many religious books at the bookstore. Today, religious books fill entire sections in bookstores around the world. What does the popularity of religious books say about our culture?

Marcia Z. Nelson, religion editor at Publishers Weekly, will join The Daily Circuit Wednesday to talk about religious books. "One of my former colleagues Phyllis Tickle, at the height of the publishing boom, said that 'religious books are portable pastors,'" Nelson said. "I think that's true and that's one of the reasons they're so popular."

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, senior religion editor for The Huffington Post, will also join the discussion.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Music - Vintage 50s Music

It's good to see my old friend, Mark Flora, is keeping busy these days with the Holy Rocka Rollaz. Nobody does rockabilly and vintage 50s music better than Mark!

Check'em out. Looks like some good old summertime fun to me.

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE: Listen to Music, See Upcoming Show Times, Buy Their CD, and View Pics/Videos.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Supplication - The Church

O Lord God, lead and keep your Church by your steadfast grace and love. Help us to proclaim your truth with boldness. Help us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.

We see our sin and we recognize our need for forgiveness and transformation.  We are thankful for your promise to forgive us and purify us as we confess our sins.

Hear us now as we confess our sin and look to you for forgiveness. As you have forgiven us our sins, help us to be quick to forgive those who have sinned against us.

O God, help us to know you more and more each day as we follow Christ, listen to your word, and surrender ourselves to your 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.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Juvenilization of Christianity

Christianity Today has published a very important and perceptive article titled "When Are We Going to Grow Up?"  The article was adapted from Thomas Bergler's new book, The Juvenilization of American Christianity, a book I will need to read.

Having lived through the time period, cultural evolution, and church practices Bergler describes, I have to say that I think he is spot-on in his analysis of the situation. Sadly, I feel like his observations are more of an astute postmortem than a diagnosis with a hope for a cure. I fear that the juvenilization he outlines has turned many churches into terminal patients. One thing is certain, the disease is deadly, and any treatment that produces healthy results is likely to be painful and unwelcomed by those who need it most.
Here are some excerpts from the CT article:
Fifty or sixty years ago, these now-commonplace elements of American church life were regularly found in youth groups but rarely in worship services and adult activities. What happened? Beginning in the 1930s and '40s, Christian teenagers and youth leaders staged a quiet revolution in American church life that led to what can properly be called the juvenilization of American Christianity. Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults. It began with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young, which in fact revitalized American Christianity. But it has sometimes ended with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith. In any case, white evangelicals led the way.
Saving the World

Juvenilization happened when no one was looking. In the first stage, Christian youth leaders created youth-friendly versions of the faith in a desperate attempt to save the world. Some hoped to reform their churches by influencing the next generation. Others expected any questionable innovations to stay comfortably quarantined in youth rallies and church basements. Both groups were less concerned about long-term consequences than about immediate appeals to youth.

In the second stage, a new American adulthood emerged that looked a lot like the old adolescence. Fewer and fewer people outgrew the adolescent Christian spiritualities they had learned in youth groups; instead, churches began to cater to them.

- - -

...Churches new to juvenilization would do well to consider its unintended consequences. Juvenilization tends to create a self-centered, emotionally driven, and intellectually empty faith.In their landmark National Study of Youth and Religion, Christian Smith and his team of researchers found that the majority of American teenagers, even those who are highly involved in church activities, are inarticulate about religious matters. They seldom used words like faith, salvation, sin, or even Jesus to describe their beliefs. Instead, they return again and again to the language of personal fulfillment to describe why God and Christianity are important to them. The phrase "feel happy" appeared over 2,000 times in 267 interviews.

 - - -

Today many Americans of all ages not only accept a Christianized version of adolescent narcissism, they often celebrate it as authentic spirituality. God, faith, and the church all exist to help me with my problems. Religious institutions are bad; only my personal relationship with Jesus matters. If we believe that a mature faith involves more than good feelings, vague beliefs, and living however we want, we must conclude that juvenilization has revitalized American Christianity at the cost of leaving many individuals mired in spiritual immaturity.


The Juvenilization of American Christianity
by Thomas E. Bergler

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday Words - Summer Days

I'm loving the summer weather and the delicious opportunities it affords to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the great outdoors--walking wooded trails, time in the garden, watching the busy wrens who have taken up residence in the bird house on my back fence, evenings on the patio, and so much more. Two days ago, I was able to get in a few hours of fishing with my friend, Kris. He caught a nice 5.5lb tiger muskie (not a fish I get to see very often).

Next week, I'll be enjoying a couple days of fishing up near Mille Lacs with a few guys from church, which is always a good time. Then, in July, I'll be getting in some North Shore camping with my family.

In August I'll, be catching a few more days on the North Shore with friends from church, and then we've also got an all-church camping trip scheduled for a weekend at William O'Brien State Park. It's a full and delightful schedule of summer days!

Here is a lovely little summer poem I shared during my sermon at Valley last Sunday. I appreciate the gentle way  it prompts me to solitude, simplicity, reflection, attentiveness, and purpose. So tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious summer?

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

From New and Selected Poems, 1992 (Beacon Press).
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury died last week. CLICK HERE to hear or read a nice piece posted on Minnesota Public Radio written by John Rogers.

Two of the books I enjoyed as a High School kid were Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. I was prompted to read Bradbury's books by seeing the 1966 movie, Fahrenheit 451, directed by Fran├žois Truffaut. That movie is available to watch for free if you are an Amazon Prime member.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Music - China Town

Here's a new video of the Cactus Blossoms performing "Chinatown, My Chinatown" during a recent concert at the Cedar Cultural Center.

Remember, the Cactus Blossoms play at the Turf Club every Monday night from 9 to midnight.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Good Things

O God, we acknowledge that every good thing comes from you. Fill us with good thoughts and a love for the things that are right and good. Lead us and strengthen us to do those good things you have in mind for us to do.

Father, each of us has our own struggle to be obedient to you. Help us all to remember that everyone around us has similar struggles. When others sin against us, make us as charitable toward them as you are to us. Help us all to find our way back to you. When any one of us is sinned against, give us understanding and forgiving hearts. Make us willing to forgive because you have forgiven us.

O God, when we become downcast, strengthen our hearts to hope in you. Give us faith to trust in you and to praise you all our days. Protect us from discouragement, and encourage us by your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Friday Family - Wire Sculptures

Over the recent Memorial Day weekend, Cheri and I traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska for a gathering with her family. On the way there, we stopped in Council Bluffs, Iowa where we were able to visit the new studio/shop of my Bark'm Canine Portraits.

My nephew, Taylor, started Bark'm Canine Portraits last year as the home base for his watercolor and graphite dog portraiture business. In addition to his amazing art, he sells other cool stuff for dogs and dog lovers.

Wire sculptures are one of the newest things Taylor has added to his growing list of products. It's fun to see what he can do with one simple continuous strand of 16-gauge wire.

If you're a dog lover or know someone who is, you should check out his website.  I'm sure you'll find something you would like him to make just for you.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Thursday Thinking - About Grammar

When I was a graduate student at the University of Nebraska back in the mid-80s, I was excoriated by one of my professors for using the word "hopefully" in the preface of a term paper. He summarily explained to me that this word should never be used in an academic paper, and it was a poor word to use in any case because I wasn't truly hoping for anything.

The professor, as you know, is always right (at least before graduation requirements have been met), so I complied. Ever since that scolding, however, I must admit that each and every time I have written "hopefully" in a letter or paper, I've heard his rebuke echoing in the back of my mind.

What a relief and vindication it was, this week, to have the AP style book remove its objection to the word. Linguist, Geoff Nunberg, had a wonderful op-ed piece on Fresh Air this week. You can read it or listen to it HERE.

My friend, Dewey Roth, had a fun post on his "Truth Is..." blog about ending sentences with prepositions. Read It Here.  To be granted both these grammatical freedoms in one week is too sweet for words.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wednesday Words - How to Be Perfect

I discovered this poem and poet through Garrison Keiller's daily program, The Writer's Almanac. I'm looking forward to reading and hearing more of Ron Padgett's poetry, and I've ordered his collection, How to Be Perfect. I'm a sucker for any poet who manages to make me think while giving me a jab to the ribs. I consider humor mixed with profundity to be a virtue and cause for admiration as much as enjoyment.

HOW TO BE PERFECT (excerpts)

Get some sleep.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly. It will help make you happy.

Hope for everything. Expect nothing.

Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room before you save the world. Then save the world.

Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

Don't stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don't forget what made you angry.

Hold your anger out at arm's length and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass ball collection.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.

Plan your day so you never have to rush.

Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if you have paid them, even if they do favors you don't want.

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Don't expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want to.

Don't be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.

Don't think that progress exists. It doesn't.

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don't do anything to make it impossible.

Forgive your country every once in a while. If that is not possible, go to another one.

If you feel tired, rest.

Don't be depressed about growing older. It will make you feel even older. Which is depressing.

Do one thing at a time.

If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately. If you bang your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20 minutes. you will be surprised by the curative powers of ice and gravity.

Do not inhale smoke.

Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Be good.

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.

Do not go crazy a lot. It's a waste of time.

Drink plenty of water. When asked what you would like to drink, say, "Water, please."

Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

When there's shooting in the street, don't go near the window.

Excerpts from "How to be Perfect" by Ron Padgett, from How to be Perfect. © Coffee House Press, 2007.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Ortberg's Latest

I just heard a podcast where John Wilson of Books & Culture reviewed of John Ortberg's new book, Who Is this Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. The book, scheduled to be released on August 7, looks good, so I pre-ordered a copy for my Kindle.

Ortberg has a good track record of being a practical and accessible writer. He does a great job of taking big ideas and topics and writing about them with a pastoral approach that everyday folks can understand. I may not see any new ideas about Jesus in this new book, but I'm sure Ortberg I will see some new ways of presenting these ideas in creative and memorable ways that connect with a wide audience. That's something I really respect about him, and something I want to emulate as I write and speak.

If you're interested in this topic AND interested in talking about it with others, this book will likely be something you will appreciate.
From the publisher's description of the book:
Jesus' impact on our world is highly unlikely, widely inescapable, largely unknown, and decidedly double-edged. It is unlikely in light of the severe limitations of his earthly life; it is inescapable because of the range of impact; it is unknown because history doesn't connect dots; and it is doubled-edged because his followers have wreaked so much havoc, often in his name.

He is history's most familiar figure, yet he is the man no one knows. His impact on the world is immense and non-accidental. From the Dark Ages to Post-Modernity he is the Man who won't go away.

And yet . . .you can miss him in historical lists for many reasons, maybe the most obvious being the way he lived his life. He did not loudly and demonstrably defend his movement in the spirit of a rising political or military leader. He did not lay out a case that history would judge his brand of belief superior in all future books.

His life and teaching simply drew people to follow him. He made history by starting in a humble place, in a spirit of love and acceptance, and allowing each person space to respond.His vision of life continues to haunt and challenge humanity. His influence has swept over history bringing inspiration to what has happened in art, science, government, medicine, and education; he has taught humans about dignity, compassion, forgiveness, and hope.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Monday Music - Doc Watson

This past week, the world said farewell to yet another music legend, Doc Watson. He was 89 years old. Doc was a master flat-picker with a warm baritone voice who blended traditional Appalachian folk music with blues, country, gospel, and bluegrass. If you are not familiar with his music or his story, it's high time you were.

A good place to get started might be the Terry Gross interview with Doc Watson on WHYY's Fresh Air.


From the LA TIMES:
Watson, 89, who recorded more than 50 albums and won seven Grammy Awards, died Tuesday at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., according to his representatives at Folklore Productions, a Santa Monica management company. He had undergone colon surgery Thursday.

Although Watson is perhaps most acclaimed for his astonishing technique in both the flat-pick and finger-picking styles, his greatest contribution touched on broader concerns.

"Doc arrived at a point where there was the beginning of an audience for traditional music, but not really an informed group of people," Ash Grove owner Ed Pearl said last week.

"Doc was by far the best traditional artist I ever met at talking openly about his people, and just having a casual conversation with an audience.… He was among the most versatile and un-self-conscious bringers of Southern white culture to the Ash Grove possible, and he did that right from the beginning."

With his natural ease as a storyteller, his heartfelt baritone singing, his repository of material and his facility on guitar, Watson was a rare combination of authenticity and artistry.

His example inspired a generation of musicians to explore obscure musical pockets, as well as to upgrade their instrumental technique toward the remarkably high standards he established. He is one of the prime sources of the hybrid, roots-conscious Americana genre, and a key influence on such noted players as Norman Blake, Tony Rice, Buddy Miller and Dan Crary.

CLICK HERE to Read the Complete Article

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Faithfulness

O God, you are a faithful provider and you give order and purpose to our lives. We ask you to help us put aside all the things that are hurtful. Help us to seek the things that are true and uplifting and healing and beautiful.

Heavenly Father, forgive us our sins, and help us, in gratitude to you, to forgive those who sin against us. We recognize that our hearts are so prone to pride and unforgiveness. It is hard for us to confess our sins, even to you. Help us to see clearly how we so often offend you. And help each of us to have the humility to pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

O God, give us eyes to see the good things you have prepared in advance for us to do. Give us hearts that delight in your will, feet that walk in your ways, and spirits that longs to honor you in all we do. Help us to wake up and get honest about any disobedience, apathy, or distractions that are keeping us from faithfulness to you.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Friday Family - Happy Birthday, Page!

Yesterday, May 31, my son, Page, turned 31 years old!

To celebrate this Golden Birthday, Cheri and I took Page and his wife, Sara, out for a delicious meal at Gorkha Palace in Minneapolis. The food was amazing, there was live ethnic music, and the service was very good. The four of us had a splendid time.

Happy Birthday, Page! We love you very much and we're so proud and thankful to have you as our son. Keep growing, seeking, loving, singing, and blessing more and more with each new year.
O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on your servant, our son, Page, as he begins another year. Grant that he may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen his trust in your goodness all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
From the Book of Common Prayer