Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Music - New Year's with the Burkum Boys

The good people of Marfa, TX should be enjoying something about like this tonight. The Cactus Blossoms will be opening for Jimmie Dale Gilmore at Padres.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Committing All Things to Him

Eternal Father, you gave your incarnate Son, Jesus, to be our salvation. Place within our hearts, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world.

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, help us to find our lives in you. Give us faith that makes us able to commit all things to you. Give us hearts to love your will and to serve your purposes.

Shape and strengthen us to follow Jesus wherever he leads. Whether by life or death, may Christ be exalted in us. Help us to press on to take hold of all you have in mind for our lives.

We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Family - Christmas 2012

We've been having a great time with friends and family this week. It's been so nice having all our kids with us this Christmas. Ty and Ali (and sons), Page and Sara, and Jack and Sarah Jean. We've also been blessed to have lots of friends stopping by. Pictured below are my grandsons, Soren and Osten, with their buddies, Ian and Ben, having some sledding fun at Hanson Park in New Brighton.

The biggest news of our Christmas is that my daughter-in-law, Ali, has just accepted a job at Northwestern College and so they're working out plans for moving back from Nashville. So glad to have them back close to us. Tyler will continue to do a lot of work in Nashville and touring, but he'll be able to be more selective. It's going to be another interesting year for their family, one with more change and new possibilities.

We're looking forward to celebrating Tyler's birthday on New Year's Eve. Page and Jack, the Cactus Blossoms, will be playing music in Marfa, TX that night.

Hope you've been having some good times with your family and friends this week too!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Searching for Something

I shudder to think of how many Google searches I entered in 2012. What's the most important search you made in 2012. Did you find it? My most important searches required more than Google has to offer. But, I'll admit, Google really has been a big help.  :-)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Words - 150 Years Later

 “Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery, teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit. Teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my sacred space and love beyond my fear, and thus walk in balance with the passing of each glorious sun.”
― Lakota Prayer

Standing in Solidarity with the Dakota (by Marque Jensen)

Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the largest mass execution in U.S. History.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Gospel of Luke

LUKE 2:1-20 
1-5 About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was pregnant.
6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Excerpt from The Message by Eugene Peterson.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday Music - O Holy Night

Have a blessed Christmas Eve!
I'll be spending mine with family and church.

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviours birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees,
Oh, hear the angels voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night,
O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace;
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;
Christ is the Lord,
Oh, praise His name forever!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Aware of Your Presence

Heavenly Father, make us aware of your presence in our lives and purify our hearts and minds. We pray that we would find our identity and our home in your Son Jesus Christ as we await the Day of his appearing. Sustain us and shape us by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Thank you for your grace and mercy. Lead us away from temptation.  Deliver us from evil.  Forgive us our sins. And give us the grace and courage to forgive others just as we you have forgiven us.

O God, thank you for your promise to be with your people. Give us an awareness of your presence with us today. Grant us the strength and the faith we need to face the challenges and circumstances of our lives.

When we are frightened, guard our hearts and minds with the peace of Christ Jesus. Protect us from discouragement, and encourage us, by your Holy Spirit, through your Word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday Smile - N. T. Wright Limericks

There is a contest for theology nerds going on at Tony Jones' Theoblogy site. The winners will receive the nerdy and kitschy prize of Theologian Trading Cards. To enter, all you have to do is submit a limerick about theologian. NT Wright, a favorite of mine, was one of the suggested theologians to write about, so here are the two limericks I sent in...

RE: Surprised by Hope
On the day that you breathe your last breath,
You'll live on, but there's more, don't forget
That your hope and delight
(says our dear Mister Wright)
Is your life AFTER life after death!

RE: Simply Jesus
The Kingdom's begun, Jesus stated,
And Tom Wright says we should celebrate it
As we work and we pray
Toward the Full Kingdom Day--
Eschatology inaugurated!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Friends - Marque Jensen

A week ago last Thursday, I wrote about the 150th anniversary of the US-Dakota War of 1862. In that post titled Lest We Forget, I gave a few helpful resources for learning more about this sad chapter of Minnesota-Dakota history.

Just a few days after writing that post, I learned that my friend, Marque Jensen, is riding with this year's Dakota 38 Memorial Ride. I'm the kind of guy that thinks this would be a great thing to do, but Marque is the kind of guy who actually does it. He's a thoughtful and gracious person, and I'm really thankful to know he is a part of this important reconciliatory commemoration.

Marque is blogging about this experience at The ride began on December 10 in Lower Brule, SD and concludes on December 26 in Mankato, MN at the site where 38 Dakota men were hanged in the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Find out more about the closing ceremony here.

Photo by Kierston Dunbar Chase © Used by Permission.

The Dakota 38 Memorial Ride began in 2005 after Lakota Spiritual Leader Jim Miller had a dream in which he retraced the route of his ancestors, riding on horseback, until he came to the place where the hanging took place in Mankato.  The Dakota 38 Memorial ride serves as a means to promote healing and reconciliation, and to help communities along the route learn about this tragic and sadly neglected part of our regional history.

Here is the trailer of a documentary film about the Dakota 38:

CLICK HERE to watch the entire film in HD.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Our Culture of Violence

In the wake of the Newtown, CT tragedy, there is much to grieve, much to consider, and much to do. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it (Jer. 17:9)?" While we contemplate ways to address and prevent such tragedies in the future, I pray that our society will become more realistic and honest about the ways we've been giving our hearts over to the very violence we say we want to escape.

Journalist Gwynne Dyer alludes to this in his recent op-ed piece, Culture of Personal Violence to Blame --
What happened in Sandy Hook, Conn., Friday is the seventh massacre this year in which four or more people were killed by a lone shooter. The fact that this time 20 of the victims were little girls and boys six- or seven-years-old has caused a wave of revulsion in the United States, but it is not likely to lead to new laws on gun controls. It’s not even clear that new laws would help.

Half the firearms in the entire world are in the United States. The rate of murders by gunfire in the United States is almost 20 times higher than the average rate in 22 other populous, high-income countries where the frequency of other crimes is about the same. There is clearly a connection between these two facts, but it is not necessarily simple cause-and-effect.

Here’s one reason to suspect that it’s not that simple: the American rate for murders of all kinds — shooting, strangling, stabbing, poisoning, pushing people under buses, etc. — is seven times higher than it is in those other 22 rich countries. It can’t just be guns.
Click Here to Read the Complete Column
Society will not change, unless we have the courage to make real changes. Those changes will need to address guns and security precautions and treatment programs, of course, but they will also need to address something more. Real change demands that we get honest about our hearts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Words - "More Loud and Deep"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, distressed by the tragic death of his wife, Francis, and the war wounds of his son, Charles, wrote the words to “Christmas Bells” on Christmas Day in 1863. This was one of the darkest times in American history, and while the words of the poem reveal his profound despair and grief, the triumphant message of “peace on earth, good will to men" gives witness to the faith and hope that sustained Longfellow.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    and wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
    "For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on the earth, good-will to men."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Simply Jesus (Part 2 - B)

Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright is the selection for my next book club at Valley Christian Church. Hardback copies of the book are now available for you to purchase at our church's resource center ($18). All the details about my upcoming book club can be found HERE.

In the second section of the book, Wright describes the message and ministry of Jesus. Here is an excerpt from chapter 9 which I hope will give you a little sense of what Simply Jesus is like. Please consider reading the book with me and joining our book club.
When Jesus healed people, when he celebrated parties with all and sundry, when offered forgiveness freely to people as if he were replacing the Temple itself with his own work--in all these ways it was clear, and he intended it to be clear, that this wasn't just a foretaste of a future reality. This was reality itself. This was what it looked like when God was in charge. God's kingdom was coming, as he taught his followers to pray, "on earth as in heaven." On one occasion, indeed, Jesus said sharply to those who were accusing him of being in league with the devil that, if it was indeed by God's own Spirit that he was casting out demons, "then God's kingdom has come upon [them]" (Luke 11:20). A great deal of what Jesus was doing and saying only makes sense on the assumption that he really did believe that God was already becoming king in the new way he had promised. It was happening, and this is what it would look like.

But there are constant hints, throughout Jesus's public career, that the coming of the kingdom would depend on future events yet to be realized. He speaks again and again of a coming cataclysm--a great disaster, a judgment, terrible events that would turn the world upside down. He speaks, in a famous passage, of the sun and the moon being darkened and the stars falling from heaven (Matt. 24:29, quoting Isa. 13:10). He speaks, notoriously, of the "coming of the son of man" (Matt. 24:30, quoting Dan. 7:13). So how can the kingdom be both present and future? What was Jesus trying to say? How does this affect our view of the "campaign" we have seen him carrying on to this point?

In order to answer this, we must come forward from our earlier glance at the stories of ancient Israel and look very briefly at four men, two before Jesus and two after, whose careers embody something of the same present-and-future tension. That will clear the way to a fresh understanding of what Jesus was really all about. [pp. 105-106]

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Recognizing Christ as King

O Lord, move in our hearts with your great might. Work in our lives with your power. Through your boundless grace and mercy, deliver us from the sins that entangle and destroy us.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ Jesus. As we follow in His way, help to extend that same forgiveness to those who have sinned against us. Help your Church to be a community of grace. Make us a people able to make a redemptive and healing difference in our world.

We thank you for the forgiveness and life we have through Jesus, and the promise that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. May all who seek you find you, O God! Help us to recognize Christ as King, and help us to make room for his saving and shaping work in our lives.

It is in his Name that we pray all these things. Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Family - World Cafe

The three members of Leagues — singer Thad Cockrell, guitarist Tyler Burkum, and drummer Jeremy Lutito — have been known to say that they're inspired not by artists, but by specific songs. That intense focus on individual tracks is clearly put to work on Leagues' debut album, You Belong Here. There's a cohesive sound to the record as a whole, but it sounds like the band deliberately pushed for each song to stand on its own. As a result, the album plays like a collection of singles, each track as catchy as the next. Hear two songs from Leagues' debut on this edition of World Cafe: Next.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Lest We Forget

I recently read The American Soul by Jacob Needleman. I was most affected by the third part of this book which is titled "Crimes of America." This section covered the sad history of black slavery and the injustices suffered by Native Americans. As I read it, not only was I mortified by the history, I became acutely aware of my breathtaking ignorance of Native American history. With each page turned, I wondered, "How can I not know this history, and how have I not been more interested in it? After all, I live in a state where so many cities, rivers, counties, and landmarks have Native American names!"

Well, I'm coming to discover, it might very well be because there is a lot we Minnesotans would rather not think about or remember. This month marks the 150th anniversary of the final days of the US-Dakota War in 1862 which concluded with the hanging of 38 Dakota men in Mankato--the largest mass execution in US history.

Do you know much about this part of our history? Have you given it much thought? As Jacob Needleman points out in The American Soul, we cannot move forward toward a better American future if we fail to acknowledge the sins of our American past. Here are some terrific resources to help you learn and think about some important injustices most people would rather forget.

Radio Program:
This American Life: Little War on the Prairie

Online Resources:
Minnesota Public Radio Resources: Stories, Pictures, Programs

Book Recommendation:
North Country: The Making of Minnesota (Mary Lethert Wingerd)
In this book, Wingerd unlocks the complex origins of the state—origins that have often been ignored in favor of legend and a far more benign narrative of immigration, settlement, and cultural exchange. Moving from the earliest years of contact between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the western Great Lakes region to the era of French and British influence during the fur trade and beyond, Wingerd charts how for two centuries prior to official statehood Native people and Europeans in the region maintained a hesitant, largely cobeneficial relationship. Founded on intermarriage, kinship, and trade between the two parties, this racially hybridized society was a meeting point for cultural and economic exchange until the western expansion of American capitalism and violation of treaties by the U.S. government during the 1850s wore sharply at this tremulous bond, ultimately leading to what Wingerd calls Minnesota’s Civil War.
A cornerstone text in the chronicle of Minnesota’s history, Wingerd’s narrative is augmented by more than 170 illustrations chosen and described by Kirsten Delegard in comprehensive captions that depict the fascinating, often haunting representations of the region and its inhabitants over two and a half centuries. North Country is the unflinching account of how the land the Dakota named Mini Sota Makoce became the State of Minnesota and of the people who have called it, at one time or another, home.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Words - The Innkeeper's Cat

Incredible Phat
On the coldest night of the year
At a pub called the Elephant's Ear,
Incredible Phat, the innkeeper's cat,
Was having a saucer of beer
With fourteen merry gentlemen,
On the coldest night of the year.

As the hour of eleven drew near,
Some poor stranger in rags did appear
At the door of the inn,
Face weary and thin,
To ask, "Is there any room here?"
But the owner just laughed
And said, "My friend,
It's the coldest night of the year.

"We've a sheikh with three wives,
And a moneylender,
A taxman, a soldier,
And a harness mender.
Three balmy old coots
In silver boots,
Two are stargazers
And the other's a seer."

Out into the night crystal clear
The stranger went, hiding a tear.
And Incredible Phat, the innkeeper's cat,
Followed and saw standing near
A donkey bearing a pale sweet girl
Through the coldest night of the year.

While the barmaid
The priest and the diplomat
Bought one last round
For the acrobat,
And a spy with no chin,
Who had also come in
From the cold with
Herod's surly charioteer.

But Phat said, "Friends, be of good cheer.
For I know of a shelter that's near."
And he led them out back,
To a tumble-down shack
Where the innkeeper's wife kept a steer.
And he said, "It's the warmest place in town,
On the coldest night of the year."
Yes, he said, "It's the warmest place in town,
On the coldest night of the year."

The Animal's Christmas is one of the more unusual Christmas CDs in my collection. I love the music, lyrics, the orchestration, and the boys choir. The music is by Jimmy Webb, but I'm not sure who wrote the lyrics, but they are very nice. "Incredible Phat" is one of my favorites.

The Animal's Christmas at

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Simply Jesus (Part 2)

In an earlier post, I wrote about the first section of Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright.  I also mentioned that Simply Jesus would likely be the selection for my next book club at Valley Christian Church. Well, I've finalized that decision and the book is now available for you to purchase at our church's resource center. All the details about my upcoming book club can be found HERE.

In the second section of the book, Wright describes the message and ministry of Jesus. Here are a some excerpts from chapter 7 that should stir up your interest:
Jesus was going about declaring, after the manner of someone issuing a public proclamation, that Israel's God was at last becoming king. "The time is fulfilled!" he said. "God's kingdom is arriving! Turn back, and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15). "If it's by God's finger that I cast out demons," he declared, "Then God's kingdom has come upon you" (Luke 11:20). [p. 67]

Herod Antipas wasn't particularly powerful, but, though the Romans hadn't allowed him to keep his father's title of "king of the Jews," he was the nearest equivalent at the time. Indeed, it was he who had been rebuilding Sepphoris as his capital. In the south, there were the chief priests, with the (annually appointed) high priest at their head--a pseudo-aristocracy, kept in place, as was Herod Antipas himself, by Roman backing. The Romans liked to run their huge empire through local power brokers on whom they could rely to collect the taxes and keep the population under control. If either Herod or the high priest heard that someone was going around announcing that God was becoming king, they would smell trouble at once.

So when Jesus went around saying that God was now in charge, he wasn't walking (as it were) into virgin territory. He wasn't making his announcement in a vacuum. Imagine what it would be like, in Britain or the United States today, if, without an election or any other official mechanism for changing the government, someone were to go on national radio and television and announce that there was now a new prime minister or president. "From today onward," says the announcer, "we have a new ruler! We're under new government! It's all going to be different!" That's not only exciting talk. It's fighting talk. It's treason! It's sedition! By what right is this man saying this? How does he think he'll get away with it? What exactly does he mean, anyway? An announcement like this isn't simply a proclamation. It's the start of a campaign. When a regime is already in power and is simply transferring that power to the next person in line, you just announce that it's happening. But if you make that announcement while someone else appears to be in charge, you are saying, in effect, "The campaign starts here." [p. 69]

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Music - Christmas Classic

It's been too long since I've sung this in a choir.
What a wonderful experience that is!
And what an amazing setting of such an important and hopeful text.

Isaiah 40:4-5
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Every Voice You've Sent

Merciful God, we thank you every voice you’ve sent into our world to preach repentance and proclaim the way of salvation. Give us contrite hearts and help us to turn away from sin. And give us open and receptive hearts that joyfully welcome the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

Help us in this Advent season to honor Jesus in thought, word, and deed.  Help us to follow him and to walk in the light as he is in the light.  We confess our sins, trusting that you are faithful and just to forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ Jesus.  Make us able and ready to graciously forgive those who have sinned against us.

O God, restore and renew us today. And make our lives a testimony of your power to restore and renew us. Help us to live by faith. And make our lives shining demonstrations of your promise to save and restore.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Saturday Smile - Nerdy Guitar Project

A couple days ago, I heard this NPR story about a $100-dollar guitar being passed from player to player to see what they could do with it. Kinda dumb, but all good fun worthy of a Saturday smile.

Read or Listen to the NPR Story

YouTube Videos for $100 Dollar Guitar Project

Project Website:

Friday, December 07, 2012

Friday Family - Tyler's Long Ride Home

My son, Tyler, is finishing up the last couple of days of his tour in Australia with Missy Higgins. I'm excited for him to be back home with his family in Nashville. And then, I'm really looking forward to having them all up to our house for Christmas. That's a lot of miles to cover in the next couple weeks, and heaven knows the boy already has too many miles under his belt this year.

Here's a perfect video for a guy with a long trip ahead of him. I found it online last night and it features a nice guitar solo from Tyler. Missy Higgins and her band join with Ben Sollee on eTown to perform the "Long Ride Home."

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Psalm 34

"Magnify the Lord" is my Advent-Christmas teaching series at Valley this year. I'm working with Mary's song in Luke 1:46-55 and David's song in Psalm 34.

Because both texts include the words, "magnify the Lord," it's common for them to be coupled together. But if you live with both songs for awhile, thoughtfully reading them over and over, you see increasingly that they have much more in common than a shared phrase. They share a common hope, a common confidence in God's character, and a common conviction about God's redemptive purposes in the world.

One of the ways I'm trying to expand my appreciation and understanding of these songs is to search out the thoughts and ideas of others. I'm reading articles, listening to sermons, comparing translations, and studying commentaries. Sometimes the sources are very old, and others are very new. Some are more academic while others are more devotional.  In every case, I find these explorations to be a helpful and thought-provoking exercise. Yesterday, for instance, I came across some verse-by-verse comments on Psalm 34 by Charles Spurgeon, the well-known 19th century Baptist preacher. Here is what he had to say about verses one through four:

1. I bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
    "Others may do what they please, and murmur, and complain, and be filled with dread and apprehension of the future; but I will bless the Lord at all times. I can always see something for which I ought to bless him. I can always see some good which will come out of blessing him. Therefore will I bless him at all times. And this," says the Psalmist, "I will not only do in my heart, but I will do it with my tongue. His praise shall continually be in my mouth," that others may hear it, that others may begin to praise him, too, for murmuring is contagious, and so, thank God, is praise; and one man may learn from another--take the catchword and the keyword out of another man's mouth, and then begin to praise God with him. "His praise shall continually be in my mouth." What a blessed mouthful! If some people had God's praises in their mouths, they would not so often have fault-finding with their fellow-men. "If half the breath thus vainly spent" in finding fault with our fellow-Christians were spent in prayer and praise, how much happier, how much richer, we should be spiritually! "His praise shall continually be in my mouth."
2. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.
    Boasting is generally annoying. Even those that boast themselves cannot endure that other people should boast. But there is one kind of boasting that even the humble can bear to hear--nay they are glad to hear it. "The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad." That must be boasting in God--a holy glorying and extolling the Most High with words sought out with care that might magnify his blessed name. You will never exaggerate when you speak good things of God. It is not possible to do so. Try, dear brethren, and even boast in the Lord. There are many poor, trembling, doubting, humble souls that can hardly tell whether they are the Lord's people or not, and are half afraid whether they shall be delivered in the hour of trouble, that will become comforted when they hear you boasting. "The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad." "Why," says the humble soul, "God that helped that man can help me. He that brought him up through the deep waters, and landed him safely, can also take me through the river and through the sea, and give me final deliverance. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord. The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad."
3. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.
    He cannot do enough of it himself. He wants others to come in and help him. First, he charges his own heart with the weighty and blessed business of praising God, and then he invites all around to unite with him in the sacred effort. "Magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt his name together."
4. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
    That was David's testimony. That is mine. Brother, that is yours. Is it not? Sister, is not that yours too? Well, if you have such a blessed testimony, be sure to bear it. Often do you whisper it in the mourner's ear, "I sought the Lord, and he heard me." Tell it in the scoffer's ear. When he says, "There is no God," and that prayer is useless, say to him, "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." It is a pity that such a sweet encouraging profitable testimony should be kept back. Be sure at all proper times to make it known. But it is not merely ourselves. There are others who can speak well of God.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Wednesday Words - Advent Hope

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Tuesday Tome - The Parish Nurse

Some of the books on my reading list are in the category of church ministry and development. I'm currently ripping through a little tome called The Parish Nurse: Providing a Minister of Health for Your Congregation by Granger E. Westberg.

I was prompted to research this topic by a request from a nurse-practitioner who attends Valley. She is very interested in using her training and gifts within the context of our church community. I'm always ready and interested to help people use their gifts, pursue their interests, and find their place of ministry, so it's time for me to do a little bit of study.

This book seems to be a pretty basic, practical, and widely appreciated introduction to the subject. If you have any additional books, resources, or experiences relating to a parish nurse program, I would appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Monday Movie - Life of Pi

While in Nashville for Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to take my grandson, Soren, to see the movie, Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee. The story was mesmerizing and the production was beautiful. I enjoyed it and was pleased that Soren enjoyed it too.

Based on the very popular book by Yann Martel, Life of Pi is a quintessential postmodern story. It draws into question the relationship of truth to story, the difference between experience and explanation, the intersection of perception and reality, and the overlap of belief and knowledge. I'm sure these questions and ideas are developed much more fully in the book (which I ordered as soon as I got home from the theater).

Early in the movie we meet a man who needs a story (a writer) seeking out another man (the adult Pi) who has a story from his boyhood. The writer was told that Pi's story is so amazing that simply hearing it might cause you to believe in God. Just what belief and what God may be another matter to sort out. The important idea woven through the story is that truth is much more than fact, religion, or information. A true story will need to be bigger than those. In this respect, Life of Pi reminded me a great deal of the underlying concepts in the movie, Big Fish.

I encourage you to see Life of Pi, and if you do, I hope you go to the theater expecting more than an adventure story and great movie effects. There is good food for thought here. Please go with somebody else, somebody willing to spend some time afterwards to talk about it.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Embrace the Light

Almighty God, we ask you to help us turn away from sin and darkness, and instead to embrace the light of your Son Jesus Christ who came to live among us in great humility. We look forward to the day when he will come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, and raise us to immortal life.

Help us in this Advent season to honor Jesus in thought, word, and deed.  Help us to follow him and to walk in the light as he is in the light. Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ Jesus.  Make us able and ready to give forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.

O God, save us from trouble and help us to trust you completely. 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.