Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Family - Brother Jason's Coffee Beans

A recent article in the Omaha World Herald featured my brother Jason who is a roast master for Beansmith Coffee. Check out the full article here.

You might also want to visit the Beansmith website to order some fantastic coffee they will gladly ship directly to your door.
From the World Herald:
Roasting a batch of beans takes less than 15 minutes, but a lot happens in that time.

Beansmith “roastmaster” Jason Burkum approaches the process as an art and a science, carefully assessing the coffee beans along the way from raw to ready-to-brew.

The roaster is just one in a chain of workers who bring the coffee from a tropical estate to your kitchen coffeemaker. Done right, Burkum said, the consumer won’t think about the roaster’s hand in the process.

“It’s about getting out of the coffee’s way,” he said. “We have our style, we have our signature, but you have to start with a great raw coffee and unlock what’s in there.”

In the back room of the La Vista business, Burkum ignites a drum roaster and watches as the temperature climbs to more than 400 degrees.

He sends a stream of green coffee beans up a conveyor and into a hopper, where they drop into the drum, causing the temperature to plummet to about 165 before beginning a slow upward climb.

Taking samples with a “trier,” like a dipstick for coffee beans, Burkum studies and sniffs the beans’ progress, as the sugars caramelize and the beans dry and expand.

He adjusts air flow as they progress from green and grassy, to yellow with a scent like popcorn, to fully caramelized and toasty brown, when he lets them spill into a cooling bin.

He breaks open a bean to check for an even roast, and the beans are ready to pack up and ship out.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday Thinking - N. T. Wright on Psalms

As I mentioned in Tuesday's post, I'm currently reading N. T. Wright's book, Simply Jesus. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I watched this N. T. Wright lecture on the canonical Psalms and found it to be a helpful complement to the book. This is no surprise because all of Wright's books and lectures work together to support his view of the overarching narrative that runs throughout the whole of scripture and the life and mission of Christ.  In the lecture, Wright masterfully describes how the Psalms help us to understand the history, expectations, and hopes of the Jewish nation, and how they anticipate the mission of Jesus and God's saving hope for all people and all nations. It's about an hour, but well worth every minute.

Click on Picture to View Video on Vimeo

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Words - FIX

Today's post is dedicated to the businesses, shoppers, marketing agencies, and media outlets who make Black Friday the sad reality it is. My intent is not to depress, but rather to provoke cultural scrutiny. What is it that makes us this way?

The puzzled ones, the Americans, go through their lives
Buying what they are told to buy,
Pursuing their love affairs with the automobile,

Baseball and football, romance and beauty,
Enthusiastic as trained seals, going into debt, struggling —
True believers in liberty, and also security,

And of course sex — cheating on each other
For the most part only a little, mostly avoiding violence
Except at a vast blue distance, as between bombsight and earth,

Or on the violent screen, which they adore.
Those who are not Americans think Americans are happy
Because they are so filthy rich, but not so.

They are mostly puzzled and at a loss
As if someone pulled the floor out from under them,
They'd like to believe in God, or something, and they do try.

You can see it in their white faces
at the supermarket and the gas station
— Not the immigrant faces, they know what they want,
Not the blacks, whose faces are hurt and proud —

The white faces, lipsticked, shaven, we do try
To keep smiling, for when we're smiling, the whole world
Smiles with us, but we feel we've lost

That loving feeling. Clouds ride by above us,
Rivers flow, toilets work, traffic lights work, barring floods, fires
And earthquakes, houses and streets appear stable

So what is it, this moon-shaped blankness?
What the hell is it? America is perplexed.
We would fix it if we knew what was broken.

by Alicia Suskin Ostriker, from
No Heaven.
© University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Simply Jesus (Part 1)

I'm really enjoying N. T. Wright's Simply Jesus. In the first section of the book, he sets up the historical and cultural context for understanding the life and message of Jesus, a context he metaphorically refers to as "the perfect storm."
So if we are going to approach Jesus himself in a fresh way and ask the right questions instead of the wrong ones, we need to get our minds and imaginations into Jesus's own day by examining another "perfect storm," the one into which Jesus himself was walking. What were the winds that gathered speed just then, rushing in upon him from various directions? What did it mean for him to be caught in the eye of this storm? As he rode into Jerusalem that fateful spring day, what did he think he was doing? [pp. 24-25]
The gathering winds Wright describes are the prevailing thinking and agenda of the Roman Empire, the Jewish ideas about God and their national identity, God's will in the world, and Jesus' understanding of his role in accomplishing God's will in the world.
God had promised to come back, to return to his people in power and glory, to establish the kingdom on earth as in heaven. The Jewish people always hoped that this would simply underwrite their national aspirations; he was, after all, their God. They wanted a divine hurricane simply to reinforce their already overheated high-pressure system. But the prophets, up to and including John the Baptist, had always warned that God's coming in power and in person would be entirely on his own terms, with his own purpose--and that his own people would be as much under judgment as anyone, if their aspirations didn't coincide with God's.
Jesus not only believed that this was another of those moments where the true, prophetic vision of the divine hurricane would clash with the current national mood. He believed, it seems--the stories he told at the time bear this out quite strikingly--that as he came into Jerusalem he was embodying, incarnating, the return of Israel's God to his people in power and glory. [pp. 37-38]
Wright sets up the second section of his book by posing what he calls "the ultimate puzzle of Jesus." Why is it that the first followers of Jesus, within just a few years of his death, "were speaking and writing about him, and indeed singing about him, not just as a great spiritual leader and holy man, but as a strange combination: both Davidic king and the returning God?"
First, why would anyone say this of Jesus, who had not done the things people expected a victorious king to do? Why, indeed, did Jesus end up being crucified with the words "King of the Jews" above his head? And why would anyone, three minutes, three days, or three hundred years after that moment, ever dream of taking it seriously?

Second, what on earth might it mean today to speak of Jesus being "king," or being "in charge," in view of the fact that so many things in the world give no hint of such a thing? [p. 54]
If these questions intrigue you, I'd encourage you to get a copy of the book and read with me. Incidentally, I think this is likely to be the selection for my first Valley book club of 2013.

On Thursday, I will be posting a video of an N. T. Wright lecture on the Psalms of the Old Testament. I watched it over the Thanksgiving break and found it to be a nice overlap of many of the "prevailing winds" Wright describes in the first section of Simply Jesus.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Music - Watering Hole

My son, Tyler, continues his current tour with Missy Higgins in Australia. From all reports, things are going well. Missy has been nominated for 2012 Aria Awards in several categories and she will be one of the artists featured on that broadcast.

Here's a recently posted TV performance of her song, "Watering Hole."  Enjoy, and have a happy Monday!

Watering Hole
Watering hole in my head
Watering hole in my head
Watering hole, the hole in my head
I stretched and I scratched and I pulled at that hole
that watering hole in my head
in my head
in my head
But every night one by one
all of the beasts I once ran from
crawl out of the darkness and into my bed
These vultures of light they must be fed
in my head
in my head
in my head
in my head
Watering hole in my head
all that I pray is one night’s rest
but thosecreatures arrive with a thirst they want quenched
and as hard as I fight
they still get into my head
to that watering hole
in my head…

Lyrics by Missy Higgins and Amiel Courtin-Wilson.
Music by Missy Higgins. © 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Freedom and Unity

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your promise and plan to restore all things through your beloved Son, Jesus, the Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. In your mercy, bring freedom and unity to the peoples of this earth who are now divided and enslaved by sin. Save us and bring us together under your gracious rule.

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 Lord, 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 24, 2012

Saturday Smile - Lennon & Maisy

Here is a video from a couple of Søren's new Nashville friends. So adorable and SO talented! Hard to watch without smiling.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Family - Happy Thanksgiving!

We're having some wonderful time with our grandsons and their mommy, Ali. We hope that many of you, like us, are enjoying sweet times with family and friends.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Thanksgiving Proclamations

Thinking and thanking go together well. What follows is the Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation for 2012. Click Here to see every other Thanksgiving Proclamation in U.S. history.

Presidential Proclamation 
Thanksgiving Day, 2012

On Thanksgiving Day, Americans everywhere gather with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year. This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives. As many pause to lend a hand to those in need, we are also reminded of the indelible spirit of compassion and mutual responsibility that has distinguished our Nation since its earliest days.

Many Thanksgivings have offered opportunities to celebrate community during times of hardship. When the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony gave thanks for a bountiful harvest nearly four centuries ago, they enjoyed the fruits of their labor with the Wampanoag tribe -- a people who had shared vital knowledge of the land in the difficult months before. When President George Washington marked our democracy's first Thanksgiving, he prayed to our Creator for peace, union, and plenty through the trials that would surely come. And when our Nation was torn by bitterness and civil war, President Abraham Lincoln reminded us that we were, at heart, one Nation, sharing a bond as Americans that could bend but would not break. Those expressions of unity still echo today, whether in the contributions that generations of Native Americans have made to our country, the Union our forebears fought so hard to preserve, or the providence that draws our families together this season.

As we reflect on our proud heritage, let us also give thanks to those who honor it by giving back. This Thanksgiving, thousands of our men and women in uniform will sit down for a meal far from their loved ones and the comforts of home. We honor their service and sacrifice. We also show our appreciation to Americans who are serving in their communities, ensuring their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay. Their actions reflect our age-old belief that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, and they affirm once more that we are a people who draw our deepest strength not from might or wealth, but from our bonds to each other.

On Thanksgiving Day, individuals from all walks of life come together to celebrate this most American tradition, grateful for the blessings of family, community, and country. Let us spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 2012, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Words - Come, Ye Thankful People

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home!

We ourselves are God's own field,
Fruit unto his praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear;
Grant, O harvest Lord, that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take the harvest home;
From His field shall in that day
All offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In the garner evermore.

Then, thou Church triumphant come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All be safely gathered in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In God's garner to abide;
Come, ten thousand angels, come,
Raise the glorious harvest home!

"Come, ye thankful people, come" is a harvest hymn written in 1844 by Henry Alford. It is often sung to the tune St. George's, Windsor by George Job Elvey.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Simply Jesus

I thoroughly enjoyed my three days last week at the N. T. Wright conference at Elmbrook Church in Milwaukee. Wright is a gracious man, a brilliant scholar, and a master teacher. Even though I already had his book, Simply Jesus, I bought another copy just so I could have him sign it.

And now, as I think about it, Simply Jesus will be a splendid reading selection for the approaching Advent and Christmas seasons. Let me know if you'd like to read it with me. Think about it. Doesn't N. T. Wright and Handel's Messiah sound like a pretty great combination?

Here is an excerpt from the book:
Christian worship declares that Jesus is Lord and that therefore, by strong implication, nobody else is. What's more, it doesn't just declare it as something to be believed, like the fact that the sun is hot or the sea wet. It commits the worshipper to allegiance, to following this Jesus, to being shaped and directed by him. Worshipping the God we see in Jesus orients our whole being, our imagination, our will, our hopes, and our fears away from the world where Mars, Mammon, and Aphrodite (violence, money, and sex) make absolute demands and punish anyone who resists. It orients us instead to a world in which love is stronger than death, the poor are promised the kingdom, and chastity (whether married or single) reflects the holiness and faithfulness of God himself. Acclaiming Jesus as Lord plants a flag that supersedes the flags of the nations, however so "free" or "democratic" they may be. It challenges both the tyrants who think they are, in effect, divine and the "secular democracies" that have effectively become, if not divine, at least ecclesial: that is, communities that are trying to do and be what the church was supposed to do and be, but without recourse to the one who sustains the church's life. Worship creates—or should create, if it is allowed to be truly itself—a community that marches to a different beat, that keeps in step with a different Lord.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Music - Tyler at Work

My son, Tyler, is currently touring in Australia with Missy Higgins. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I'm able to keep up and get little glimpses of what he's doing. Here's a video of their performance on the Sunrise television program this morning.

As many of you know, Tyler, also plays guitar with the Nashville-based band, Leagues. Here is a brand spankin' new video they just released for the song, "Spotlight." Check out their website to hear more and to pre-order their new album, You Belong Here, which has a January 29, 2013 release date.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Thankful for Scripture

Blessed Lord, we give you thanks for the Holy Scriptures you inspired to be written for our learning. Help us to hear them, read them, mark them, and learn them. Help us to take them in so deeply and apply them so personally that we become more and more able to live for you and hold fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ.

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.

O Lord, help us to know and understand the love of Jesus. Help us to experience it. Help us to share it. Help us live out love in such a way that it becomes clear to all around me that I am following Jesus.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday Smile - My Little Boys

Today, I'm smiling because in just a few more days, I'll get to see these guys. We're having our Happy Thanksgiving in Nashville this year.

Soren, Osten, and Luca in the park.

Ali, Soren, Osten, Luca, and Tyler

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Family & Food - Holiday Meals

Next week, Cheri and I will be celebrating Thanksgiving in Tennessee with our Nashville kids. Tonight, we'll be celebrating in Arden Hills with our local kids. I look forward to these special times with family, but I know these special times will have an abundance of delicious meals and snacks. I've lost a little more than 40lbs since last February, and I don't want holiday meals to derail me.

Here are some good tips and reminders for staying on track that I found on the Disease Proof Blog by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Maybe you'll find them helpful too. Let's all try to eat healthy!
Eat at least one large salad each day.

Enjoy generous amounts of cooked green vegetables with mushrooms and onions.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with at least three fresh fruits each day.

Eat at least one-half cup of beans each day.

Remember the acronym G-BOMBS. Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds. These are the most health-promoting foods.

Avoid completely these disease-promoting foods: white flour, sugars, artificial sweeteners, oils, and factory farmed animal products. Unhealthy food is designed to be addictive – keep it out of your home.

Retrain your taste buds to prefer healthy foods. Staying away from sugar and salt is the secret to a heightened sense of taste and enjoyment of natural flavors.

Always keep your kitchen stocked with fresh and frozen produce.

Budget time: plan out when you will shop for groceries, cook, exercise, relax, and spend time with friends and family.

Plan your meals ahead of time and make a detailed grocery list before you go shopping.

Cook vegetable bean soups in large batches, and store leftovers in the refrigerator so you can quickly heat some up for lunch or dinner later in the week.

Stay focused on your health – eating right is self-care. Do not allow the unhealthy influences around you to derail you from your health goals.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday Thinking - The Whole Sweep of Scripture

I'm currently at a three day conference in Milwaukee where N. T. Wright is teaching three four-hour sessions on Paul's Letter to the Romans. It's wonderful and rich and more than my little brain can absorb. I'm looking forward to listening to the recordings of these sessions several times. If you're not familiar with N. T. Wright, here's a great little video that gives you a little sample of what I'm enjoying. It may also inspire you to dive into the symphony of the Scriptures a little deeper and a little more often.

N.T.Wright "The whole sweep of Scripture" from Rodica on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Words - All Good GIfts

All Good Gifts

We plow the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land;
But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand:
He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.

He only is the maker of all things near and far;
He paints the wayside flower, He lights the evening star;
The winds and waves obey Him, by Him the birds are fed;
Much more to us, His children, He gives our daily bread.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.

We thank Thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health, and food;
No gifts have we to offer, for all Thy love imparts,
But that which Thou desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.

Verse by Matthias Claudius, 1782.
Translated into English by Jane Montgomery Camp­bell, 1861.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Prayer Books

Have you ever used a daily prayer book? I have a number of these books and one I've been using for awhile is a little Lutheran prayer book I bought for a quarter at an estate sale across the street from my house a couple years ago. It is titled simply, My Prayer Book.

A newer version of the book is still available. It contains morning and evening prayers for each day of the month, and prayers for Christian living, including preparation for worship; family situations; vocations; national affairs; times of illness; and table prayers. It's also written in more contemporary language and grammar.

Some of the prayers in this book are better than others, but I find all of them to have a worthwhile thought or two that lead me to pray in ways I may not have otherwise considered. It's like having a friend alongside me as it stimulates new ideas and new directions for prayer.

Do you have any prayer books you have found to be helpful? I'd like to hear about them.
Here are a few lines from the Tuesday morning prayer of Week 1:
May I trust in Thy promises and ask no more than Thou hast promised. In prosperity keep my humble; in adversity keep me strong; and at all times give me a deep devotion to duty and confident trust in Thy mercy, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Music - Back Down Under

My number one son, Tyler, is back on the road for a stint of touring with Missy Higgins in Australia. He's pretty tired from all the touring he's done this year, but he loves his tour mates and they'll make a good time of it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Heirs of Eternal Life

O Father, we thank you for your Son Jesus who came into the world to deliver us from evil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life. Help us to follow him and to pursue righteousness in all we do.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ Jesus.  Help us to extend forgiveness to each other and help us grow into a redemptive and healing community. Help us to have a redemptive and healing impact on the world around us.

O God, may the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in your sight. Help us to walk with integrity. Teach us to speak and act justly. Give us hearts that are guided and shaped by your Spirit so that we might be a blessing to others.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Smile - Saying What We Mean

With the election behind us, I'm looking forward to a significant reduction in difficult political conversations. This BEK cartoon from The New Yorker made me smile.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday Food - Tiny Turkey

With Thanksgiving Day just a couple of weeks away, many of us are thinking ahead to our menus for the day. If you're like me, you love the traditional turkey dinner, and it's perfect when hosting a big gathering of friends and family. But what happens if you're an empty nester and your Thanksgiving Day dinner is only for two or three people? Preparing a turkey can be a little too much work and ends up being too much food.

Well, turkey is still a great option, but now it's a bit easier because you can just prepare a turkey breast instead of the whole bird. Less time, less work, and less waste. Interested? Here's a great little video from Clean and Delicious with Dani Spies.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Hail to the Chief

Dr. Russell Moore is a conservative cultural commentator who serves as the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics.

I hope all my thoughtful Christian friends, both conservative and liberal, will take a few minutes to read what he posted on his blog the morning after the 2012 election--a short essay titled "Christians, Let's Honor the President."

Here is a short excerpt from that post:
However we voted in the election, let’s pray for God to bless our President. We can pray for him to be granted wisdom and health. We can pray that God would prosper his good ideas, and change his mind on his bad ideas. Moreover, we can teach our children to respect our President, starting with referring to him as “President Obama” or “Our President,” not as “Obama” or “the guy our parents voted against” or what have you.
There’s a time to vote. There’s a time to campaign. And there’s a time to petition. But, through it all, let’s be the people who, even as we speak with conviction, are marked by kindness and respect. When we have to differ with President Obama, let’s do that, with backbone. But let’s make sure we do all this with honor, with respect, with prayer, and, most of all, with love.

Let’s render unto Caesar, as free people with natural rights. Because we know as believers that we will eternally say “Jesus is Lord,” we can as citizens temporally say, “Hail to the chief.”
Click Here to Read the Entire Post
One more post-election observation...

I thought Mitt Romney's concession speech was a class act. He was gracious, poised, and respectful. He kept the focus on America, his concerns, and his hopes, not on fear, partisanship, or his personal loss. This helped set the tone for his audience who, though disappointed, managed to be positive even in the first intense moments of defeat.

This was a marked improvement over what I remember seeing during McCain's concession speech back in 2008 where much to McCain's genuine embarrassment the newly elected President Obama was booed. So kudos, Mr. Romney, for taking the high road and showing us the respectable way to face a difficult loss.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Wednesday Words - A Sabbath Mood

Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we're asleep.

When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.

"1979, no. X (Sabbath Poems)" by Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir. © Counterpoint, 1998.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Tuesday Tome - The Divine Conspiracy

In every reader's life, there are a few books that make such an impact and resonate so deeply that they become what I call "lifebooks." Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy is one such book for me.

My first reading of the book was a rich and wonderful series of aha moments. It challenged presuppositions, offered new ways of thinking about God and life, and gave me hope that there was a Christian way of living I could actually pursue with humility, honesty, and hope.

Over the years, I've recommended and given The Divine Conspiracy to many friends and relatives. Not all of them have shared my enthusiasm for it, but I'm always delighted when one of them does.

Just this past month I got an email from an excited young friend who was reading the book upon my recommendation. He said he was loving it and planned to read it through a second time as soon as he finished his first reading. I'm looking forward to getting together with him for a fun conversation.  There is a special affinity you feel with someone who has read one of your lifebooks has now discovered it has become one of their own.

So let me know if you've read or would like to read this special book. Maybe we could get together for an interesting talk!

From The Divine Conspiracy:
"My hope is to gain a fresh hearing for Jesus, especially among those who believe they already understand him. Very few people today find Jesus interesting as a person or of vital relevance to the course of their actual lives. He is not generally regarded as a real life personality who deals with real-life issues, but is thought to be concerned with some feathery realm other than the one we must deal with, and must deal with now."
"Actual discipleship or apprenticeship to Jesus is, in our day, no longer thought of as in any way essential to faith in him. It is regarded as a costly option, a spiritual luxury, or possibly even as an evasion. Why bother with discipleship, it is widely thought, or, for that matter, with a conversational relationship with God? Let us get on with what we have to do."
"This book, then, presents discipleship to Jesus as the very heart of the gospel. The eternal life that begins with confidence in Jesus is a life in His present kingdom, now on earth and available to all. So the message of and about him is specifically a gospel for our life now, not just for dying. It is about living now as his apprentice in kingdom living, not just as a consumer of his merits. Our future, however far we look, is a natural extension of the faith by which we live now and the life in which we now participate."

Monday, November 05, 2012

Monday Music - The Tallest Man on Earth

If you haven't yet discovered the music of Swedish folk singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson, a.k.a. The Tallest Man On Earth, then today is your lucky day. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Pressing Forward

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.

O God, thank you 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, November 03, 2012

Friday, November 02, 2012

Friday Family - Birds Weekend

For the third time in five weeks, my sweet wife is on the road again. The first weekend in October, Cheri headed down to Omaha for a family wedding. Then a few weeks later, she flew down to Nashville for a weekend with Tyler and Ali and our grandsons. This time she headed south to Kansas City where she is meeting up with her mom and three sisters for their annual "Birds Weekend."

None of the men in our family knows for sure what happens at Birds Weekend because we're all banished from being anywhere near their chosen location. If Cheri were hosting the weekend, I would be the one taking a trip.

Birds Weekend is a tradition Cheri, aka "Barnswallow" (yes they all actually have code names), her mom, and sisters have been keeping for a long time. When all of my sons were kids and still at home, we used to take advantage of Birds Weekend to head up to the North Shore for a father/son trip. So even though I've never been to a Birds Weekend, said weekend has afforded me plenty of sweet times and fond memories. 

This year, I'm just doing work around the house and getting things ready for winter, reading, and tinkering around with music, and getting things ready for Sunday at Valley. I'm also planning to check out a new eatery in South Mpls with a friend on Saturday night. Oh, and I'm planning to Skype with son #1 this afternoon. In other words, I'll be fine.  :-)

Have a great weekend with your dearly beloved birds, Cheri! See you at the airport on Sunday! xo

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Minnesota's Marriage Debate

Minnesota Public Radio recently aired a documentary called "The Deep Roots of the Marriage Debate." The program was very well done and gives a lot of good perspective and context for Minnesotan's who will be voting on the proposed constitutional amendment. Thoughtful voters will want to be sure their votes are based on more than sound bites and yard signs. Take a little time and give the issue some serious thought.

Read the transcript here.

View an interactive timeline presentation HERE.